2:00PM Water Cooler 4/16/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Another shore-bird. Human conversation, too.

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At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching.

Vaccination by region:

In a week or so, we’ll see what effect the J&J debacle has had, if any.

Case count by United States regions:

Gaaaaah! (I added blue lines to show the slops of the previous outbreaks. I hate that the direction is up, but there’s no denying the increase, so far, is not as vicious.) Yes, the rise is from the Midwest, but wouldn’t it be nice if the rise in the Midwest was cancelled out by decreases everywhere else.

The Midwest in detail:

MI: “Michigan at ‘record high’ for COVID-19 hospitalizations of children” [Free Press]. “Among the biggest drivers of coronavirus infections in the state, health officials have said, are outbreaks among youth athletes and those associated with K-12 schools. This week, the state reported 312 ongoing or new school outbreaks, which includes infections linked to classrooms, after-school activities and sports. Cases among kids ages 10-19 are at an all-time high, the state’s top epidemiologist, Sarah Lyon-Callo, reported last week, quadrupling from four weeks earlier. Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health, said Michigan’s kids might be contracting the virus at a higher rate now than they did in previous surges because they’re able to socialize, attend in-person classes and continue to play sports now — spreading the virus during these activities — in a way that wasn’t possible during previous waves.” • Thanks CDC, good job. (To be fair, we don’t have epidemiological studies on transmission in Michigan.)

MI: “School kids are spreading COVID in northern Michigan” [Interlochen Public Radio]. “It appears that children are now responsible for many of the state’s new cases, as they return to sports, parties and classes. Across Michigan, cases in the 19 and younger group have more than doubled in the past month, while cases among children younger than nine have more than tripled, according to state data. That’s a significant departure from earlier in the pandemic when health departments said children, especially young children, were not playing a major role in transmitting the virus.”

MI: “Many Michigan schools lack air filters that would help fight COVID-19” [Chalkbeat]. “The districts shared information about their HVAC systems as part of a state program that offers guidance on using heating systems in schools to fight COVID-19. They have combined enrollments of 145,000, or nearly 10% of students in the state, almost half of whom were learning in-person at the time of the survey. In more than a quarter of the schools, HVAC systems hadn’t been updated in 20 years or more… The state doesn’t fund improvements to those systems, leaving districts to rely on tax revenue from local communities. Many districts haven’t been able to afford the HVAC upgrades that would have helped them reduce the spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, although some have begun to make improvements with federal aid funds.” • HVAC is great, but you can still make a difference with open doors, open windows with fans, and box fans (too lazy to find the links just now, but I’ve given several from the aerosol community). Dilution works if filtration is not possible. Of course, you have to turn the fan on.

MI: “Experts say indoor air quality, ventilation is important amid COVID-19 pandemic” [WWMT]. From 2020: “Researchers at the Environmental Protection Agency said there was growing evidence that COVID-19 could remain airborne for longer times and further distances than originally thought. In addition to close contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces [fomites, now known to be unimportant[, there was a possibility that spread of COVID-19 could also occur via airborne particles in indoor environments.” • So the EPA was way ahead of the CDC, good job.

MI: A good thread on the physical plant in schools:

I hope there’s enough Federal aid, because raising property taxes is gonna be a problem.

MI: Meanwhile:

I love the guy half-heartedly pounding the door while he scans his phone.

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Florida continues its slow climb, soon to pass New York. California starting to follow?

Test positivity:

Midwest increases.


Still heading down.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

Good to see those deaths dropping. I have added a black line to show our “new normal.” The fatality rate in the West is dropping now, for some reason as unknown as why it rose.

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Biden Administration

“Democrats agonize over game theory on Biden’s $2T-plus spending plan” [Politico]. “Democrats are clearly at a crossroads on the critical decision of whether or not to work with their GOP colleagues. And the clock is ticking. During private conversations with members of both parties in recent days, White House chief of staff Ron Klain has signaled that there’s still time to wait for Republican buy-in, but that the party shouldn’t take forever, according to several people familiar with the discussions. Members of the so-called G-20, a group of moderate senators in both parties, were divided over whether to work together on a smaller package during a call Thursday afternoon. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) expressed a desire to collaborate with Republicans but acknowledged that at some point Democrats might end up going their own way, according to a source familiar with the call. The group ended with no decision and plans to speak again next week. As committees begin to craft the language for the bill, Democrats say they’re looking for policies that have bipartisan support. But they’re also signaling that they’re ready to go at it alone if Republicans low-ball them or drag things out. ‘The wise thing to do is to work in two lanes. One is the reconciliation lane, which I don’t think would be wise to forgo, and the second is the bipartisan lane,’ said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).”

UPDATE “Biden nominates his first slate of ambassadors” [The Hill]. “President Biden on Thursday announced more than a dozen nominations for senior State Department positions and his first slate of foreign ambassador, elevating a significant number of Foreign Service Officers to top level jobs. The nominations signal an effort by the president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to rebuild trust with the State Department’s staff by promoting career officials and experts in their foreign policy fields who were often sidelined during the former Trump administration. The announcement is for seven senior State Department positions and nine ambassador posts in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. A majority of the nominees are career Foreign Service Officers with extensive experience in their designated regions. The nominees also feature a significant number of women and people of color, also part of the Biden administration’s push to increase diversity among senior staff and diplomats.”

“House Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion” [The Hill]. “The amendment, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, would state: ‘The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices consisting of one chief justice and eight associate justices.’…. While Biggs’s proposal won’t go anywhere in Congress, it underscores the degree to which conservatives may try and hit Democrats over discussions on whether to expand the size of the Supreme Court.”

UPDATE “Bernie Sanders plan to reshape employment includes an under-the-radar idea that would be a huge win for American workers” [Business Insider]. Missed this in January: “As part of a plan focused on workers’ and labor rights, , Sanders called for a national law mandating that employers can only fire employees for “just cause”—or in other words, only for good reason….. It’s on employers, then, to be clear about what a good job done means and make sure to hire the right person to get it done. They should only fear a just cause requirement if they’re unable to properly hire and manage people…. Montana, the one state that has banned at-will employment, currently enjoys a lower unemployment rate than the national average.” • I don’t get this. If we don’t have at-will employment, how can we fire anybody for something stupid they said on Facebook when they were thirteen?

Democrats en Deshabille

“Oregon lawmakers reach deal to end delay tactics slowing session” [Oregon Public Broadcasting]. “Legislative Democrats in Oregon have agreed to relinquish a powerful advantage in redrawing the state’s political districts for the next 10 years in exchange for a commitment from Republicans to stop blocking bills with delay tactics. The surprise deal, reached Wednesday evening after a weeks-long standoff that has brought legislative action to a trickle, fundamentally shifts the dynamics not only of the 2021 session, but of one of the most consequential actions lawmakers will take this year. With the agreement, Democrats, stymied so far despite holding supermajorities in both legislative chambers, appear to have gained a far easier path to passing much of the agenda they’ve queued up this year. But they’ve essentially granted veto power to Republicans, who can now block any map of legislative or congressional districts from passing.”


“The 8 states where the pandemic has shifted the balance of power” [The Fulcrum]. “Over the past year, states have issued hundreds of rule changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, covering issues from public health and safety to business protocols to election procedures. But one consequence of some of these emergency orders has been a shift in the balance of power at the state level. Ballotpedia reported Thursday that eight states have seen the governor’s authority weakened by Covid-related legislation. Governors generally have the authority to declare a state of emergency in cases of natural disasters, disease epidemics and other threats to public health. And in the early days of the pandemic, nearly all states issued lockdown or stay-at-home orders. But in the months following, some states saw conflict between the executive and legislative branches on how to proceed with the orders. Lawmakers introduced hundreds of bills to limit gubernatorial emergency powers, and ultimately 10 were enacted in eight states. Surprisingly, in most of those eight states, the same political party controlled the governorship and the legislature. Three were run by Republicans: Arkansas, Ohio and Utah. Two were Democratic: Colorado and New York. And the remaining three have Democratic governors and Republican-majority legislatures: Kansas, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.


“New Poll Show Floridians Support DeSantis Taking On Big Tech” [Floridian]. “A new Mason-Dixon poll commissioned by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce shows that the majority of Floridians — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — support limits on the power and influence Big Tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter, have over everyday Americans, and Gov. Ron DeSantis taking on Big Tech. The poll of 625 registered voters taken between 4/5-4/8 shows that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to penalize Big Tech companies from canceling individuals running for elected office is widely supported across political lines.” • I think liberal Democrats love that sweet, sweet censorship too much to do more than woof at Big Tech.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Another view of precarity:

“When the right wing rallies” [Reuters]. Reuters examined data from the U.S. Crisis Monitor on political protests across the United States to provide a look at the spread of right-wing demonstrations in 2020. Our visualization shows how the incendiary concept of a stolen election brought together a disparate collection of anti-government militias, conspiracy theorists, white nationalist and ordinary Americans, and how those protests continue into 2021.” • Lots of diagrams…

“The Woke Semantics Project” [Carl Beijer]. “When most people hear about “woke” politics, what generally comes to mind is a very particular way of talking about identity, expressed in a very particular agenda and set of political concerns. For example, woke politics are not ordinarily understood to be focused on poverty in general, but only on the way it intersects with issues like racism, sexism, disability, and so on. Similarly, wokeness is also associated with the identitarian deference, practice that has emerged from a controversial interpretation of standpoint theory. These observations about the popular understanding of woke are just descriptive, not prescriptive; whatever one thinks wokeness ought to be or is in some ideal sense, this is how most people tend to understand and use the concept.”

Stats Watch

Imports: “March 2021 Sea Container Imports Again Significantly Improved Pointing To A Strong Economic Recovery” [Econintersect]. “The import container counts for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rate of growth again jumped month-over-month partially due to the fact that the import data one year ago was impacted by the pandemic shutdown but still import container counts set a record for Marchs. Exports are having the worst year since 2009…. On top of a trade war and the world pandemic, import container counts continue to surge. There is chaos in container movements with containers in the wrong place and shortages of rail cars to move containers – however, the container situation again improved this month – but there continues a shortage of containers and unloading berths. This container shortage was exasperated by the Suez blockage.”

Housing: “March 2021 Residential Building Growth Improves” [Econintersect]. “Headline residential building permits improved and construction completions improved. The rolling averages improved for both permits and construction completions…. The backward revisions this month were small. It is always difficult to understand the trends as the backward revisions sometimes reverse trends month-to-month. The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month-to-month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series. The rolling averages say this sector is growing. We consider this report improve[d] relative to last month.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 10 April 2021 – Rail Shows Significant Gains Year-over-Year” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has been mostly in contraction for over one year – and now surging as it is being compared to the pandemic lockdown period one year ago.”

Employment Situation: “Long-Term Unemployment Is Headed The Wrong Way” [Econintersect]. “We are witnessing a dramatic increase in the duration of unemployment spells. Part of this is due to the impact of Covid19 pandemic concentrated in specific sectors. Part of this is down to the generosity of unemployment benefits supplements and direct subsidies during the pandemic. Part of it is also down to the longer term changes in the U.S. labor markets and changes in households’ composition and investment/consumption patterns. Irrespective of the causes, the problem is obvious: the longer the person remains unemployed, the sharper is the depreciation of skills and their employability. If this (post-2008) experience is the ‘new normal’, America is developing a massive class of disillusioned and human capital poor workers.” Handy chart:

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Currency: So cash is no longer legal tender?

Does anyone believe the “conversion kiosks” will stay free?

Tech: “Big Tech Is Pushing States to Pass Privacy Laws, and Yes, You Should Be Suspicious” [The Markup]. “Concerned about growing momentum behind efforts to regulate the commercial use of personal data, Big Tech has begun seeding watered-down “privacy” legislation in states with the goal of preempting greater protections, experts say….. the small handful of bills that have not adhered to two key industry demands—that companies can’t be sued for violations and consumers would have to opt out of rather than into tracking—have quickly died in committee or been rewritten.”

UPDATE Tech: “A 23-Year-Old Coder Kept QAnon Online When No One Else Would” [Bloomberg]. “‘Every time I see an article attacking social media companies—and they deserve it—I think it’s more important to go after the companies that are hosting terrorist material,’ says Rita Katz, founder of SITE Intelligence Group, a nonprofit that tracks terrorist activity online. ‘There’s already a good recipe that was used for ISIS. Why don’t you use it on the far right?'” • Or the liberals’ other — or, by Horseshoe Theory, the same — enemy, the left, eh?

UPDATE Tech: “Google broke Australian law over location data collection: court” [Agence France Presse]. “Google violated Australian law by misleading users of Android mobile devices about the use of their location data, a court ruled Friday in a landmark decision against the global digital giant. The US company faces potential fines of “many millions” of dollars over the case, which was brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the regulators’ chief Rod Sims said. The federal court found that in 2017 and 2018 Google misled some users of phones and tablets featuring its Android operating system by collecting their personally identifiable location information even when they had opted out of sharing ‘Location History’ data. It said Google notably failed to make clear that allowing tracking of ‘Web & App Activity’ under a separate setting on their devices included the location details.” • Sounds like a dark pattern. Why don’t we outlaw those?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 16 at 12:17pm. This index is here by request, but perhaps it’s time has come and gone. Here is a discussion of its pros and cons. I personally like it not because I used it as an investment tool — I don’t play the ponies, and in any case NC does not give investment advice — but because I feel about Mr. Market the way that Canadians are said to feel about the United States: If it rolls over, I’ll get crushed. So when the Fear Index is at 3, or the Greed at 97, I take note. Readers?

Health Care

“Ten scientific reasons in support of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2” [The Lancet]. Why I keep hammering on this issue: “If an infectious virus spreads predominantly through large respiratory droplets that fall quickly, the key control measures are reducing direct contact, cleaning surfaces, physical barriers, physical distancing, use of masks within droplet distance, respiratory hygiene, and wearing high-grade protection only for so-called aerosol-generating health-care procedures. Such policies need not distinguish between indoors and outdoors, since a gravity-driven mechanism for transmission would be similar for both settings. But if an infectious virus is mainly airborne, an individual could potentially be infected when they inhale aerosols produced when an infected person exhales, speaks, shouts, sings, sneezes, or coughs. Reducing airborne transmission of virus requires measures to avoid inhalation of infectious aerosols, including ventilation, air filtration, reducing crowding and time spent indoors, use of masks whenever indoors, attention to mask quality and fit, and higher-grade protection for health-care staff and front-line workers.” • Well worth a read (and written in plain English).

“Indoor Air Changes and Potential Implications for SARS-CoV-2 Transmission” [JAMA]. “Controlling concentrations of indoor respiratory aerosols to reduce airborne transmission of infectious agents is critical and can be achieved through source control (masking, physical distancing) and engineering controls (ventilation and filtration).2 With respect to engineering controls, an important flaw exists in how most buildings operate in that the current standards for ventilation and filtration for indoor spaces, except for hospitals, are set for bare minimums and not designed for infection control. Several organizations and groups have called for increasing outdoor air ventilation rates, but, to date, there has been limited guidance on specific ventilation and filtration targets. This article describes the rationale for limiting far-field airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through increasing outdoor air ventilation and enhancing filtration, and provides suggested targets.”


I wonder if CDC will pay attention to any of this.

“Second S.Korean deal to produce Russia’s Sputnik V” [Reuters]. “South Korea’s Huons Global Co Ltd (084110.KQ) will lead a consortium to produce 100 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine per month, as Moscow seeks to increase production globally to meet rising demand.” • Stop them! Stop the Russians!


“The Osterholm Quotes” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota]. A compendium: “This big [COVID] spike that went up and came down, it gives us this false sense of security that somehow, we’re in control….Last summer, in July, 70,000 cases a day was a house-on-fire event in this country. Today, we kind of feel like we’ve won, and we’re at 70,000 cases a day.”

Department of Feline Felicity

“Why Bumblebees Love Cats and Other Beautiful Relationships” [Long Reads]. “Darwin writes: what animals could you imagine to be more distant from one another than a cat and a bumblebee? Yet the ties that bind these two animals, though at first glance nonexistent, are on the contrary so strict that were they to be modified, the consequences would be so numerous and profound as to be unimaginable. Mice, argues Darwin, are among the principal enemies of bumblebees. They eat their larvae and destroy their nests. On the other hand, as everyone knows, mice are the favorite prey of cats. One consequence of this is that, in proximity to those villages with the most cats, one finds fewer mice and more bumblebees. So far so clear?” More: “There is a famous story along these lines told for the first time by the German biologists Ernst Haeckel and Carl Vogt. As the story goes, the fortunes of England would seem to depend on cats. By nourishing themselves on mice, cats increase the chances of survival of bumblebees, which, in turn, pollinate shamrocks, which then nourish the beef cows that provide the meat to nourish British sailors, thus permitting the British navy—which, as we all know, is the mainstay of the empire—to develop all of its power. T. H. Huxley, expanding on the joke, added that the true force of the empire was not cats but the perseverant love of English spinsters for cats, which kept the cat population so high. In any event, underlying the joke is the simple truth that all living species are connected to one another in some way or other by relationships, visible or hidden, and that acting directly on one species, or simply altering its environment, can have totally unexpected consequences.” • This is why I’m leery of the concept of pricing ecological services. We don’t know enough to set any kind of price.

Police State Watch

“Police across U.S. respond to Derek Chauvin trial: ‘Our American way of policing is on trial” [NBC]. • No shit, Sherlock.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Inside BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ million-dollar real estate buying binge” [New York Post]. “Last year, Khan-Cullors and spouse Janaya Khan ventured to Georgia to acquire a fourth home — a “custom ranch” on 3.2 rural acres in Conyers featuring a private airplane hangar with a studio apartment above it, and the use of a 2,500-foot “paved/grass” community runway that can accommodate small airplanes. The three-bedroom, two-bath house, about 30 minutes from Atlanta, has an indoor swimming pool and a separate ‘RV shop’ that can accommodate the repair of a mobile home or small aircraft, according to the real estate listing. The Peach State retreat was purchased in January 2020 for $415,000, two years after the publication of Khan-Cullors’ best-selling memoir, ‘When They Call You a Terrorist.’ In October, the activist signed ‘a multi-platform’ deal with Warner Bros. Television Group to help produce content for ‘black voices who have been historically marginalized,‘ she said in a statement.” • Khan-Cullors is, in Adolph Reed’s terminology, a “voice.” Voices are well-paid. The exact same thing happened with Deray. I’ve seen complaints that Facebook won’t allow this story to be published. Has anyone tried? UPDATE

Class Warfare

“Shifting Balance of Power?” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture].

It may be too early to suggest that the power has shifted back to the labor side of the aisle, but it’s pretty clear that the world of the post-GFC 2020s is a different one that that of 1990s and pre-crisis 2000s:

-Fiscal stimulus now compliments monetary stimulus;

-White House focused shifts to middle class jobs from tax cuts for rich;

-Infrastructure plans neglected for decades are getting a serious push;

-Economic inequality and racial injustice are topics of discussion;

-Vaccinations have been made available to the entire country at no cost;

-Affordable Care Act is increasingly making heathcare available to the poorest Americans.

ll of the above suggests a return to the post-war, pre-Reagan era that was dominated by middle class policies creating jobs and rising standards of living.

I do not mean to suggest that a resurgent union movement or an ongoing expansion of the middle class will look exactly like the post war era; but there does appear to be increased appetite for an economic realignment. Not so much Bernie Sanders or AOC, but a traditional centrist – someone like Joe Biden – with more of a middle class focus and policy push.

Mlakes you wonder what would happen if union organizing (and co-op formation) got the same coverage that idpol groupuscules and fads get. That’s the biggest censorship story going, if you ask me. When Teen Vogue’s Labor Reporter is the go-to source….

“In My Hometown, Opioids Are Still Stealing Lives” [New York Times]. “HATBORO, Pa. — I’d almost lost my capacity to be shocked by drug overdose. At 28, I’m of Generation Opioid. During high school, prescription pills were as easy to abuse as a learner’s permit. Our reunions take place coffin-side and often…. By the time I graduated from high school 10 years ago, opiates were everywhere. Percocet and Vicodin became a regular presence at parties. Mixed with booze and some weed, pills were a new way to kick a Saturday night up a notch. Teenagers eager to get their paws on something stronger had no trouble finding OxyContin. Those pills were designed to mete out pain relief over 12 hours, but they could be crushed and snorted for immediate zombification. Addiction came quickly after. In 2010, when I was in 11th grade, Purdue Pharma tweaked OxyContin to make it uncrushable. But rather than deter my friends, this pushed classmates already keen for the high straight to heroin — why bother with a pesky pill that takes its time when a “stamp bag” of the real stuff could be had for cheap? The overdoses ramped up.” • I wonder what they do in prep schools.

News of the Wired

“A top audio engineer explains NPR’s signature sound” [Current]. “. The reason NPR came to this standard — and this was decades ago — was because most of our listeners are consuming in an automobile or with something else in the background. Back in the day, and even to some degree now, you roll down those windows and hear those low rumbling frequencies. We wanted our voices to get above that so that they could be clear, open and understandable to improve our storytelling. We came to that conclusion mostly because most of our consumers were listening to Morning Edition and All Things Considered in the automobile to and from work. And now, as more of our content is heard on headphones from iPhones and all the digital sides of that, we discovered that continuing with this is beneficial, because there is still that acoustic outside noise.” • Interesting for audio geeks and mic mavens!

“‘Whitest ever’ paint reflects 98% of sunlight” [BBC]. • Cancel it!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (ML):

ML: “Timely. This flowering pear tree was the inspiration for the fledgling orchard we planted behind it.” Sadly, Maine’s FedCo will not be having its Annual Tree Sale this year. Perhaps your area is luckier.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Cocomaan

    I like the fear/greed index. I’ve never found it to have dissociated from the current attitudes around the country.

    Investors at the moment are somewhere between terrified of the future (inflation, covid) and terrified of missing the recovery and stonks. So 57 sounds pretty spot on to me.

  2. NotThePilot

    On a lighter note from some of the other comments today, I have a proposal.

    I know there’s a fine line the daily links & water cooler walk, between respectful seriousness and ironic gallows-humor, but hear me out. You could keep using the matter-of-fact, Cronkitian phrase “Biden Administration” for that section…

    Or, you could do like the kids these days, mix in a little fair-use, and give it the gloriously meme-tastic header: “Jojo’s Bizarre Administration”

    Just a thought.

    1. WillyBgood

      Ha! I immediately heard the opening song for the kids program Jojo’s Circus (which my kid used to watch) in my head. “Hey Jojo what did you learn? What did you learn at the circus today” ;)

  3. a different chris

    >I love the guy half-heartedly pounding the door while he scans his phone.

    I’m more fascinated by the mask dangling from his other hand? I think about the people who stormed the Capital that admitted they didn’t even vote.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, noticed that as well. And also that there was only one woman in that whole crowd who wore a mask at all. So why would that School Board let that mob of self-entitled stirrers into their meeting if that was so. Personally and being a bit of a d***, I would be banging that door from the inside while shouting ‘Not by the hair of my chinney, chin, chin!’

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Too bad the school board members did not have a sound-system pre-arranged so that they could regale the door-bangers with chants of ” You will not infect us. You will not infect us.”

  4. Carla

    Gotta love this quote from Econintersect:

    “This container shortage was exasperated by the Suez blockage.”

    Gee, that’s a lot of agency for a “shortage.” But I can certainly believe the shortage was exacerbated by the Suez blockage.

    I have seen this specific error frequently; we are all victims of spell-check at one point or another, I suppose.

  5. JP

    Good article by Rytholtz on the possible shifting of corporate to labor pricing power. What I found missing from Rytholtz’s list of good things is education. Before Regan, maybe just before Nixon, education was cheap. Then, especially with William Bennet in charge, education became corporate. Congress guaranteed loans to students and the fix was in. At the same time high schools turned out less and less qualified employables. In my neighborhood, at least, high school grads that do not go to collage, and some that do, can barely negotiate standard English much less the 3 r’s. How will they ever make it to the middle class in this technical driven day and age? Minimum wage can only do so much lifting.

  6. Cocomaan

    A few years back, I had a job where I had to raise and lower the flag to half staff. I got an email alert service to let me know what I had to do each morning. Don’t have the job anymore, but kept the alerts.

    I don’t know if anyone else still gets those alerts. And it seems like the Biden admin is using it all the time. Just today I got a notification of half mast for something that happened in Indiana ( I’m a relatively informed guy, but I don’t even know what happened in Indiana and had to look it up).

    And I think every month since Biden has been in office there have been 1.5 half staff events. Mostly shootings. Half a million covid death count. Maybe other stuff. Don’t remember any of that under Trump though.

    Just an observation from someone who had that blue collar duty once.

    1. RockHard

      > Don’t remember any of that under Trump though.
      I disagree, and maybe some of these were state-level orders, but there was one point about 2 years ago where the flags in my neighborhood (in particular the school across the street and the sales office for a home builder about 1/2 mile away) were continually half-mast for about 3 months. Pretty depressing sight every day.

      1. Cocomaan

        Yeah was reading an article about how FL went to half staff for rush Limbaugh.

        Weird flex. Less meaning the more you do it.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          The reason they put the White House flags at half-staff is in case Uncle Joe gets outside they tell him to get home, look for the building with the flag half-way up.

    2. LawnDart

      I don’t recall the last time that I’ve seen the USA flag raised to full staff.

      Decades ago it should have been flipped upside down and left that way, now as much as any time, because we’re in frigging trouble.

    3. ambrit

      That makes me think of the Temple of Janus doors in Ancient Rome.
      Open during war, closed during peace.
      We need a Neo Temple to Janus in Washington, DC.

        1. ambrit

          I’m sort of afraid that we’d end up with “Judge Kamala.” (Three guesses who’s genes that would come from.)
          [Although, I’m reliably informed, the gates of that “temple” would always be opened to Willie Brown.]

  7. Jorge

    “eight states have seen the governor’s authority weakened by Covid-related legislation.”
    Like California, where Gavin Newsom is probably going to be recalled for his disastrous handling of the fate of workers and small businesses?”

    “The election to recall Governor Gavin Newsom is a matter between the people of California and their Governor. Twice over the last week top members of President Joe Biden’s White House have now appeared with Newsom — and on Monday, Newsom appeared with Vice President Harris on a tour of a water treatment plant in Oakland.”

    “Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to California on Monday, April 5, needs to be called out for what it is: nothing more than a taxpayer-funded campaign stunt and political grandstanding. When recently asked if she personally planned to visit the Border in response to the building humanitarian crisis there, Vice President Harris openly laughed, as if to mock the reporter for asking the question in the first place.”


    1. Alex Cox

      Some years ago a Green politician called Matt Gonzales was running for Mayor of San Francisco. Gonzales was the head of the Board of Supervisors and it looked like he was going to win – a first for the Greens. Then the Democrats started parachuting in their “heavy hitters” – the Clintons, Gore, et al – and after massively outspending the Greens, the Dems got their chosen boy, a supervisor named Gavin Newsom, elected.

      Newsom is much protected by the Democrat establishment. Let’s see what they do to save him this time around.

      1. a fax machine

        It’s likely going to be Villar v. Newsom in the end, personally I think Newsom has poor chances based on how he hasn’t handled PG&E and the second power crisis. Either that or both manage to split the vote and we get Governor Falconer.

        It is plausible to take down Newsom. Not because someone else would take him down, but because he’s screwed things up so much he’d take himself down. The current reopening shows how little confidence he has in his own cabinet as we don’t have the vaccine numbers to support a reopening. This merely instigates a fight with the teachers’ Unions, just as another Covid wave could shut it all down again.

        This could either go bad to disastrous for him.

  8. GF

    Democracy Now! had an interesting Covid-19 vaccination conversation yesterday with Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease physician, professor of medicine at UCSF — that’s University of California, San Francisco — San Francisco General Hospital.

    Information was presented that I hadn’t heard of, like:
    “…the mRNA vaccines seemed like they were a new technology. And they actually are not, in a sense that they haven’t been used for pathogens anywhere, but they have been used for tumor vaccines. They’ve actually been around and started being developed since 2011, when we had a much, much smaller pandemic from a coronavirus called MERS.”


  9. doug

    Does anyone believe the “conversion kiosks” will stay free?
    or Facial Identity Free?

    1. j

      So cash is no longer, “…legal tender for all debts public and private.” The Staples Center can change the law at will? I knew it was only a matter of time until corporations claimed sovereignty.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        One wonders if citizens could get the proper agencies of government to force staples to take cash.

      2. Wandering Mind

        The Federal Reserve says that payments at the point of sale are not settlement of debts, so the legal tender law does not apply.

        This, to me opens an interesting possibility for states.

        The Constitution prohibits states from making anything except gold and silver a legal tender.

        If Point of Sale transactions are not the settlement of debts, then a state can require that the tokens the state itself issues must
        be accepted by retail establishments and in settlement of all sales. (I’m looking at you, Amazon). In fact, perhaps the state could prohibit the use of any other means of payment for point of sale transactions within the state.

        In addition, the State can agree to accept the same tokens in payment of taxes due to the State (while also accepting dollars) and offer to issue the same tokens to settle debts which are owed by the state (also optional).

        We could then see how long it would take the Federal Reserve or the Congress to declare point of sale transactions “debts” within the meaning of the legal tender law.

  10. Swamp Yankee

    I love woodcocks! They’re little “peet! peet! peet!” call followed by aerial acrobatics means Spring is seriously on its way. And the way they walk with that long beak — so cute! As a friend’s Mainer grandfather put it — “that bird is tougher than a bag of hammers!”

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    Do the Democratic legislators even know how earmarks work? They can get a host of GOP Congressman in exchange for great pork projects. Even Shrub knew how to do this.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye! and for manchin and that strike a pose lady in arizona, too.
      admittedly, they must be pretty rusty, by now…

  12. Randy

    “ Democrats are clearly at a crossroads on the critical decision of whether or not to work with their GOP colleagues.”

    How are they so worthless.

  13. Val

    Woodcock, Scolopax minor, looks like a shorebird, but actually moved to the uplands some ages back, and is in fact the great spiral sky-dancing love emperor of all avifauna. Known as Timberdoodler, Hokumpoke, Labrador Twister, or Super Doods, observation of the male’s courtship flights in the spring gloaming is a delight to behold.

    I thought Lambert was knocking it out of the park with his bird call picks, and it could be that I am merely bird crazy.

    No. May the peent of the Dood energize every conservationist. Tis the season.

  14. Alfred

    ” “Cash to Card” conversion kiosks”

    so they are accepting cash, they just don’t want people handling it, or having cash interfere with their record-keeping

    1. Alternate Delegate

      No, one of the numerous differences is to get the customer to lock up their real currency in the company’s card. Whatever purchase the customer makes, there will be dollars and cents left over on the “card”. That means they are either locked into further purchases, or else they forfeit their balance. It’s a racket. That’s before getting into the tracking and spying. Add “Staples” to the list of enemy combatants in the War on Cash.

      1. Alfred

        ” they forfeit their balance”

        Staples can’t make that happen legally unless people agree to it in fine print without knowing or caring–do you know if this is so? People not wanting to bother to get it back or figure out how to get it back, maybe.

        1. hunkerdown

          It’s customary for stored value card issuers to levy maintenance fees after a card is idle for a year or two to mop up “breakage” as they call unused balances. Yes, it’s part of the fine print.

    2. Mikel

      I’m sure there will be a guest list for most events that has certain people able to skip the rentiers.
      I won’t be going to rentier hosted events…unless I’m invited and on someone’s list.
      Otherwise, I’d just be sitting there feeling like a sucker/trick/mark.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > they are accepting cash

      No, whichever contractor runs the kiosks is accepting the cash for them.

      Incidentally, since fomite spread is minimal, there’s no public health benefit whatever. This is why they’re doing it, from the same source:

      According to Kelley Knutson, president at Nutspend in an interview with PaymentsSource, “…cash used in stadium will disappear within the next five years…It will be around creating a more holistic experience for the fan that not only includes loyalty, but also enriches the experience, takes out friction and makes them want to engage more with the team both inside and outside of the stadium.”

      Sounds hellish. All I want to do is buy a beer and a hotdog, and then throw snowballs at Santa and boo him.

  15. rowlf

    “‘Whitest ever’ paint reflects 98% of sunlight”

    I went to look up the old nuclear bomber paint Anti-Flash White and I saw from my search that the other aviation anoraks had beat me to it. As a military brat (junior member of the Curt LeMay club) I got to see the B-52s on base go from AFW to a very high gloss black to defeat search lights.

    1. hunkerdown

      Mylar sheet, the current favored option for indoor gardening, is only 97% reflective. Funky oregano growers have a new option for light-saving wall treatments.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      i saw a B-52 a month or more ago…heard it and felt it, first.
      could only see it, on a clear sunny day, when it was passing within around 30 degrees of zenith…otherwise invisible. Even then, only with my polarised fishing glasses.
      i’ve only rarely seen those, out here(and never anywhere else), but their presence, above me, is pretty chilling.
      the felt part of the rumbling thundernoise is even worse.

      1. rowlf

        We were at Bergstrom AFB when this paint scheme changeover was starting to happen. During this time my father was also a student at U of T when the students pinned downed Charles Whitman for the police.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > i saw a B-52 a month or more ago…heard it and felt it, first.

        Reminds me of this passage from LeGuin’s City of Illusion:

        “There are not very many of the Shing.”

      3. eg

        A vintage Lancaster flies hereabouts on the regular out of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum just up the highway. It flies low and loud. I struggle to imagine the sound entire squadrons must have made during their sorties during the war.

        As it happens, a neighbour’s elderly mother who was a child in Germany is retraumatized every time she hears it …

    3. Procopius

      Used to see them taking off from U-Tapao Air Force Base in the mornings. My memory is they were a matte black.

    1. Laura in So Cal

      The High School my kid goes to was built in the mid-late 1970’s. It seriously looks like a prison with all concrete tilt-up construction. The buildings have limited windows (mostly just one window next to each exterior door), and they don’t open. I think there is a newer building or two that do have opening windows, but the originals just don’t. I think a lot of this was around energy efficiency. Here AC runs a lot and they didn’t want people opening windows. On the plus side, it doesn’t have any interior hallways. Each building is 8-10 rooms built around a central core used for storage or activities (like labs). Exterior door access only to each room.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It seriously looks like a prison with all concrete tilt-up construction.

        Makes me wonder about school architecture built to defend against our plague of lethal weaponry

        > Exterior door access only to each room

        Open the doors and put Corsi fans in each room. The metric is air changes per hour. If the school has a CO2 testing meter, they can test the effectiveness (since CO2 builds up, it’s a proxy for the virus building up).

  16. ChrisAtRU

    This country is so doomed. The juxtaposition of the “mask-optional chuds” banging down the door against the rising New COVID Cases Per Day graph for MI should be something preserved in a time capsule to show the prevailing ignorance and stupidity of the US during this pandemic.


    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Not all of the US. Certainly not the school board members who decided to keep the Typhoid magas out of the room.

        1. ChrisAtRU

          With apologies to drumlin w. for what comes across as an unfair generalization, IMO it is enough, because there is sufficient sentiment that the country is able to go back to normal. If the behavior of the mask-optional’s had no effect on anyone but themselves, it would be fitting. Sadly, this is not the reality.

          I would amend my original statement thus:

          ” .. should be something preserved in a time capsule to show the ignorance and stupidity of those whose actions perpetuated the pandemic in the US.”

  17. tommyS

    Yes, FB still blocking that article. About BLM. Most friends of mine in the Bay Area, know ‘those’ kinds of people are to be shunned, or are least aware of grifters…I don’t think the solution is more centralization…..of any social movement, just more cogent agreements in federalism…or horizontal tight organization. There is a huge difference. Between ‘lack of coherent organization’ and then suddenly lurching to hierarchies…rather than running fast crazy to more extreme IMO organization bottom up direct democracy, in a horizontal way. Which is how we should go……… Bakunin, Chomsky, Goldman, Kropotkin etc…You cannot destroy a social movement that has no heads to lop off. Nor can you destroy the creative initiative in human beings once it’s been born….unless you kill them……..

    1. Alfred

      You might be interested in the “Black Lives Matter Inland Empire Announces Break WIth BLM Global Network” from Feb at Black Agenda Report.

  18. CanChemist

    The corollary to the Michigan situation is what’s happening next door in Ontario. Situation here is getting quite dire and we don’t have access to enough vaccines because they all have to be imported from other countries. We are >75% B117 at this point with small amounts of P1 and B1351. Meanwhile we are about 20% vaccination level at this point.

    Ford announces new restrictions as COVID-19 cases threaten to remain high all summer

    …”Ontario will step up enforcement powers for police and extend its stay-at-home order to a minimum of six weeks in a bid to stem the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, but won’t institute paid sick days — despite modelling showing that cases will remain high through the summer without additional support for essential workers.

    Speaking at a news conference that was twice delayed-on Friday, Premier Doug Ford also announced that non-essential construction will be shut down and outdoor amenities like golf and playgrounds will be restricted.

    Outdoor gatherings with people outside a person’s household will be prohibited, effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

    Effective 12:01 a.m. Monday, capacity at religious gatherings, weddings and funerals will be limited to 10 people. Also beginning Monday, Ford said, there will be checkpoints at provincial borders with Quebec and Manitoba with exceptions for essential travel.”…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > outdoor amenities like golf and playgrounds will be restricted. Outdoor gatherings with people outside a person’s household will be prohibited

      So [family-blogging] stupid. Outdoors is several orders of magnitude safer than indoors. So what do we do? Force people indoors. Why? Because we can.

      Unfortunately, Ford is no outlier.

      I believe that British Columbia has it even worse than Ontario, since they have P1 not B117, and their Health Minister is boneheaded and pigheaded, stupid and stubborn.

      1. eg

        In fairness to the Ford administration (which I abhor) the restrictions are as much (or more) about restricting movement of the population. And they reversed the idiotic playground prohibition within 24 hours.

        But we are struggling with this in a worse way because the fool Ford attempted to LIFT restrictions in mid-March in the teeth of oncoming variants of concern, despite modelling from the health and science table that warned wave 3 would be the worst yet — which it is. Now Ford and Co are behind the curve AGAIN as they always are because they are ideologically wedded to the cries of their petit bourgeois base to put “the economy” above public health and an operational healthcare system that is already underfunded after decades of neoliberal austerity.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Police across U.S. respond to Derek Chauvin trial: ‘Our American way of policing is on trial'”

    What I find strange is that nobody in the media has commented on Chauvin’s stance while holding down Floyd. So you had three or four cops holding him down, right? If I was in that situation, I would be ready for any fightback by Floyd and have my hands ready to grab Floyd or hold onto the car or even the ground to hold myself steady. But Chauvin did not. In fact, such was the control that they had over Floyd, that Chauvin actually had his hands in his pockets. How may fights do you see where one guy can just stick his hands in his pockets? Strange that.

    And as for ‘T. H. Huxley, expanding on the joke, added that the true force of the empire was not cats but the perseverant love of English spinsters for cats, which kept the cat population so high.’, one bit was that because so many men were going overseas to fight for the empire, that there were not enough men to marry the remaining girls which led to a lot more English spinsters who then went on to keep cats.

  20. SteveD

    Re: Aerosol COVID-19 spread….Very telling how far our expectations have fallen with respect to CDC. Instead of assuming they are at the vanguard of public health information, we’re instead hoping that having also missed ‘early adopter’ status they will squeak into the tail end of ‘early majority’. Their performance since Jan 2020 will make recruiting high-quality scientists difficult if not impossible until something is done to restore credibility.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Their performance since Jan 2020 will make recruiting high-quality scientists difficult if not impossible

      Unless Walensky cleans house, which is highly unlikely. Any accountability for people who butchered the test kits last year? Even with the obvious scenario of finding a way to blame Trump? Nope.

    2. Larry Y

      Obama’s austerity, right wing inability to grok public health, and neoliberal hollowing out of operation capacity…. those are serious headwinds against fixing the CDC.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Democrats agonize over game theory on Biden’s $2T-plus spending plan”

    Uhh, why? The Republican will not help the Democrats. They have already reverted to the party of no and will vote as a solid block against anything that the Democrats put up in the way of legislation. So this is not really the Democrats trying to negotiate with the Republicans but once again the Democrats really negotiating with themselves – and failing. Something tells me that they won’t be happy until they can lose the House in 2022 and then wail that they can’t do anything because of the mean Republicans.

  22. Old Sarum

    Thanks for the NPR sound link. It reminds me of the NPR Tiny Desk Concerts which have great sound.

    For me memorable concerts are by Tower Of Power and the Blue Men.

    Pip Pip

  23. Taunger

    Lambert’s comment is on point – as novice orchardist and photo generator, I can proudly say all the trees were ordered via catalog from Fedco; even without the annual on site sale, they continue the good work.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > novice orchardist and photo generator

      I will look forward to photos :-)

      To reiterate early warnings: People (well, me) start gardening with tomatoes because they are easy and then five years later, when the garden is big, they think about the canopy and add trees. But if they had thought about trees when they started and planted some, in five years their trees would already be bearing fruit, or nuts, or providing shade and privacy, or whatever you chose them for.

  24. Mikel

    “…With a rentier here
    And a rentier there
    Here a rent, there a rent
    Everywhere a rent, rent…”

    I’m glad I’m entertained by reading. My future looks like a of catching up on good books that I haven’t read.

  25. Greg

    Life insurance rates have not increased by much since the scamdemic started.
    The industry realizes the percentage of people that are passing away is not that much higher than it was in 2019.

    1. LawnDart

      93% of those killed by this virus (old pharts) aren’t likely to have been in the market for life insurance anyway– that’s something that is most often purchased by persons starting a family, not by people who must prioritize their own quality of life now that the kids have grown.

      But I agree with your sentiment, definitely a scamdemic: “masks don’t work!” “Sanitize!” “6-feet!!!” yeah– BS, lies, and performance theater…

      Fauci should answer for his crimes.

  26. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Department:
    Was at the local library to return some DVDs.
    Picked up two coffee table sized books of flowers for Phyl. (Don’t ask. Something to do with a painting she’s figuring out right now.)
    Standing in the line to check out. Glanced at the New Books display. (Our library is ‘hip’ to the old retail concept of “impulse sales” product placement.)
    Staring right back at me was the smirking visage of our soon to be Fearless Leader, Kamala Harris. A new book, “Kamala’s Way” looks to this jaded esthete to be in the vanguard of a Hagiography of Harris.
    The blurb for the book on the Amazon site says it all.
    “A revelatory biography of the first Black woman to stand for Vice President, charting how the daughter of two immigrants in segregated California became one of this country’s most effective power players.”
    There is so much wrong with this blurb. She is Black??? I thought that Jamaican and India Indian was her ancestry. Secondly, two immigrant parents, so far so good, but in segregated California??? Her father came to California in 1963, her mother in 1958. Segregation aimed at Mexicans, which seems to have been the main form of segregation for that region was ended in 1947 in the Mendez case. Then came Brown vs. the Board of Education in 1954.
    See: https://educationpost.org/71-years-ago-this-case-ended-segregation-in-california-and-made-brown-v-board-of-education-possible/
    So, legally speaking, California was not segregated when Mz K’s parents came to it. De facto segregation there was, but everywhere in America had and still has that.
    Finally, “..one of this country’s most effective power players???” When she couldn’t even get on the board in her own state in the primaries?
    Cynic that I am, even I am a bit bemused by the outright mendacity on display by Harris and her ‘enablers.’
    I’ll go out on a limb and theorize that, if Harris does indeed become President, the Rapture Index will peg on the top of the scale. Her ascension to power is a definite Sign of the End of Days.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Her ascension to power is a definite Sign of the End of Days.

      You kids out there, and oldsters who aren’t tied down: If you don’t have a passport, get one while they are still paper.

  27. VietnamVet

    The end of last month Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, gave an emotional warning of ‘impending doom’. The rise in cases with almost a third of Americans vaccinated plus one model putting herd immunity 21%, together with longer days (more UV disinfection); the number of coronavirus cases shouldn’t be rising. This indicates that professional managers know more than they are letting on. It must surely indicate that vaccines alone are not going to control the pandemic. The earlier post today on long COVID gives frightening context to this.

    The only proven way to control the virus is with strict public health procedures that are working in Asian and Island nations. That this subject is totally invisible in corporate media indicates to me that the Establishment is not going to fund paid strict safe quarantines, contact tracing, work and school bubbles, and universal testing needed to control the pandemic. They think they can ride it out.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They think they can ride it out.

      Are they wrong?

      To be fair to Walensky’s weeping, perhaps the ostensible trigger for her tears was not the real one. In reality, she could have wept because of her first real view of decision-making at the level of national elites, and the calculus that they use. Fauci is less innocent.

  28. John Smith (no high tower)

    This was my assumption. Given the apparent delusions of the Americans (as in, what appears in open source) regarding limited first strike, the new Russian systems to me seem to be about ensuring the inevitability of MAD. ABM was about preventing retaliatory strikes under a doctrine of first use and escalation dominance. This nuclear torp only makes sense if it’s a salted bomb, used to ensure the economic centres of the US will never be safe regardless of the ABM systems placed in Europe. Is it inhumane? Sure. But about as inhumane as the idea of maintaining first strike as a doctrine so your enemies know you’re always willing to go lower than them.

    Yes, MAD is [family blog]ing insane. But restraint due to terror is far superior to no restraint at all. And until the nuclear powers agree to disarm (no breath holding), it’s the best that we have.

    Personal note: if I could find a magic lamp, I would wish for an alternative to MAD. It is simultaneously poorly understood by bloody everyone and yet is absolutely critical to the continuation of the one species which we know is capable of propagating life throughout the universe. It is also so utterly insane that I don’t want to believe TINA

    Edit: mods, feel free to delete. Between mobile and VPN, this appears to be on the wrong thread

  29. Richard H Caldwell

    “This is why I’m leery of the concept of pricing ecological services. We don’t know enough to set any kind of price.” – so true! And so illustrative of the fallacy of attempting to reduce all measurement of cost and value to a single dimension. Intellectually appealing, but rationally insane.

  30. eg

    Lambert, please keep the Fear/Greed index — I look for it every time and I’m not a market watcher at all. It is useful for other reasons.

    Perhaps coincidentally, Canuck here old enough to remember Trudeau Pere’s original quote about living next door to the USA:

    “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

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