2:00PM Water Cooler 4/22/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Sounds like the sounds you hear from whales and fish under the sea.

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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:

The Northeast jump is down to an enormous data error; the CDC data doesn’t show it, so it’s down to Johns Hopkins of DIVOC-19; I’ve written the maintainer. UPDATE No response from the maintainer. I think I’ll try the telephone. (Here are the data status updates.)

“Vaccination slowdown could threaten recovery” [The Hill]. “As the Biden administration touted the accomplishment of administering 200 million vaccine doses, doubling the president’s goal of 100 million vaccines administered in his first 100 days in office, the country has seen a drop in the seven-day average of daily vaccinations following weeks of steady upticks…. Overall, the seven-day average reached a highpoint of 3.38 million vaccines per day last week before it declined to 3.02 million on Tuesday…. Public health experts warn this deceleration of vaccine administration could jeopardize the country’s ability to get the virus under control as variants spread worldwide. It could also signal a decrease in demand due to lack of access or public hesitancy.”

Case count by United States regions:

Good news three four days in a row.

CA: Over the transom (from a reader whose email I cannot retrieve; take a bow, please!):

Hey Lambert, suggest you take a look at the Covid situation in Davis, California. We’ve got wastewater monitoring, via ‘Healthy Davis Together’, renewed five day a week in-person schooling, and all three of B.1.1.7, B.1.35.1, and P.1 have been detected in town recently. The Yolo County Public Health Officer recently reported that 2/3 of positive tests in the first week of April were B.1.1.7. Wastewater monitoring is indicating increased prevalence. One neighborhood, ‘East Central Davis’ would seem to account for most of the increase. If I’m not mistaken kids from there mostly attend Birch Lane Elementary.

Here is the site. More like this, please.

The Midwest in detail:

Michigan and Minnesota heading down, along with their neighbors (Could be that people actually do listen when Governors ask them do so stuff, but enough, and enough of them?)

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

Florida, by a nose. California not following.

Test positivity:

Midwest increases.


Still heading down.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

Good to see those deaths dropping. The fatality rate in the West is increasing again, for some reason as unknown as why it dropped.

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“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

“Biden’s Everything Doctrine” [Foreign Affairs]. “The competing imperatives of democracy promotion, global leadership, and “a foreign policy for the middle class” contain stark, if unrecognized, tensions. In part, those tensions stem from the limited time and attention available to the U.S. president and his senior staff; any time Biden spends standing up for allies in the South China Sea will not be spent on the concerns of the U.S. middle class. But to a greater extent, the tension comes from the limited resources and political capital that the United States has for negotiations with both its allies and its adversaries…. If the United States prioritizes the defense of eastern Europe, it cannot push as hard on its European allies to make trade concessions that might promote U.S. jobs. If the United States focuses on getting a new Iran nuclear deal, it cannot lean as hard on Saudi Arabia to lower energy prices or abstain from killing journalists. The United States might impose sanctions on a Russian-German gas pipeline to protect the sovereignty of Ukraine, but then the U.S. economy will suffer, particularly if the Russians or Germans impose sanctions in retaliation. Such tradeoffs are inevitable but rarely articulated by policymakers…. So far, the Biden administration has, at least rhetorically, insisted that it can pursue all its objectives without making sacrifices or encountering tensions. Such a foreign policy of broad commitment is no longer sustainable.”

“Supreme Court Slashes FTC’s Power to Seek Monetary Awards” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. Supreme Court slashed the Federal Trade Commission’s power to seek monetary awards in court, throwing out a legal tool the consumer-protection agency has used to collect billions of dollars over the past decade.” • Maybe now the FTC can stop letting ginormous monopolies buy their way out of trouble? Stoller comments:

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “Six Questions for Alec Karakatsanis of the Civil Rights Corps on George Floyd, Debtors’ Prisons and the Criminalization of Poverty” [Washington Babylon]. Excellent detail on law enforcement for profit, as in Ferguson. And then this:

5/ Do you think the protests over George Floyd’s death and police violence in general will lead to any significant criminal justice reform? What are the three most urgent priorities?

It is too early to tell, but I am optimistic because the energy, relationships, and knowledge of the people engaged in this movement feel more advanced than they did just a few years ago. Of course, the largely Democratic politicians who control most police forces and local criminal systems have proven very powerful foes who have won every battle to build and grow this monstrous punishment system>. So, we have our work cut out for us. The three most urgent priorities, in my mind, are: 1) Dramatically reducing the size and funding of police forces; 2) Taking those resources and reinvesting them in the communities long targeted by police; 3) Connecting this struggle to a broader political fight and organizing for equality in health care, housing, environmental justice, education, workplace democracy, etc.

Liheral Democrats positioning themselves as on George Floyd’s side? That’s a neat trick!

“The brother of a top Biden advisor lobbied the White House this year on behalf of big health-care companies” [CNBC]. “The brother of one of President Joe Biden’s leading advisors started lobbying the White House earlier this year on behalf of several prominent health-care companies as the administration began its efforts to combat the Covid pandemic. Jeff Ricchetti, the brother of longtime Biden advisor and White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, started lobbying the Executive Office of the President in the first quarter, according to new disclosure reports reviewed by CNBC.The lobbying disclosures show that Jeff Ricchetti lobbied the EOP for health-care giants GlaxoSmithKline, Horizon Therapeutics and Vaxart Inc. His efforts for these firms came as the Biden administration ramped up efforts to combat the Covid pandemic with a vaccination blitz and other initiatives.

“CVS Health Quietly Made Massive Donation to Dark-Money Group Fighting Access to Care” [The Intercept]. “The health care giant, which owns Aetna health insurance and operates thousands of pharmacies and walk-in clinics around the country, provided $5 million to the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, or PAHCF. The seven-figure donation from CVS is the largest known contribution to PAHCF, which was formed in 2018 to lobby and advocate against proposals such as Medicare for All, the public option, and similar reforms that have gained growing support in recent years. PAHCF is a 501(c)(4) and is not required to disclose donor information.

“Cuomo’s woes keep piling on” [City & State]. “Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing political peril from so many sides that it is getting difficult to keep things straight. There is the outstanding matter of his administration’s handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes. A litany of sexual misconduct allegations from multiple women have led to calls for his resignation and impeachment. Other scandals concern possible political meddling in distributing vaccines, safety concerns at the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and special treatment arranged by the governor for family members who needed COVID-19 tests. Revelations about a controversial $4 million book deal hardly help. The governor has denied wrongdoing in every case, but ongoing probes could make it difficult for him to finish his current term in office or run for a fourth term next year. State Attorney General Letitia James could confirm the worst accusations of alleged sexual misconduct and could expose the governor’s alleged self enrichment at public expense through the book deal through the two investigations she is now overseeing. Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee meanwhile are probing a range of issues as they continue an impeachment investigation that will likely stretch into the summer. That means Cuomo’s political fate hinges on much, much more than the alleged sexual misconduct and nursing home cover-up that have tended to dominate discussions about the erstwhile pandemic hero.” • Ouch. With a handy list of scandals.

Republican Funhouse

“Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban” [The Hill]. “Senate Republicans on Wednesday opted to keep a ban on earmarks, a symbolic victory for conservatives that capped a weeks-long fight about spending in the post-Trump era. They reaffirmed the existing caucus rules that contained the earmark ban and added language supporting the idea of spending cuts for raising the debt ceiling, in a call back to the fiscal-hawk priorities that helped fuel the Tea Party wave and swept Republicans to power in 2010. But top members of the caucus acknowledge the ban isn’t enforceable and that GOP senators will be able to request earmarks if they want to. ”

“How Josh Hawley and Marjorie Taylor Greene Juiced Their Fundraising Numbers” [ProPublica]. “Two of the leading Republican firebrands in Congress touted big fundraising hauls as a show of grassroots support for their high-profile stands against accepting the 2020 election results. But new financial disclosures show that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., relied on an email marketing vendor that takes as much as 80 cents on the dollar. That means their headline-grabbing numbers were more the product of expensively soliciting hardcore Republicans than an organic groundswell of far-reaching support.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Support for D.C. Statehood Is Lukewarm, but Many Voters Haven’t Made Up Their Minds” [Morning Consult]. “Among the 28% who are undecided about D.C. statehood, arguments about its size relative to other states and the fact that its residents pay federal taxes appear to be the most persuasive. 74% of D.C. statehood’s opponents argue that it was never meant to be a state. More voters – including 1 in 4 opponents of D.C. statehood – support making Puerto Rico a state.”

“Senate Democrats Bring In Joe Lieberman As Ringer On D.C. Statehood” [Forbes]. • Oh.

“When QAnon Came to Canada” [The Walrus]. “[Blain McElrea] couldn’t be positive of members’ citizenships, but he described Canadians from all walks of life who were, like him, ‘suspicious of the narrative.’ What narrative? The World Economic Forum, McElrea claimed, is selling its COVID-19 plan as a ruse for instituting globalized rule. For McElrea, such a plan mimics the qualities of the virus itself—it can be anywhere, it wants to be everywhere, and it is designed to proliferate and control as many carriers as possible without them knowing. Talking with McElrea, it was clear that QAnon supporters like him view themselves as the real epidemiologists—not of the virus, which they minimize, but of a pandemic of political corruption that only intuition and spiritual renewal can cure…. ANON MAY FEEL like an alternate reality, but it belongs very much to our world. “We are at the stage where we have citizens and people who are completely distressed,” said clinical psychologist and violence researcher Ghayda Hassan from her office at the Université du Québec à Montréal. People who, she continued, “are rendered vulnerable by a globalized economic system that is producing more and more injustices, who feel that institutions and governments are violating their basic rights, but who cannot self-organize into a smart, structured line of thought.” Hassan argued that this kind of feeling of injustice is expressing itself “in nihilistic and anarchistic ways: ‘Let’s destroy these organizations; let’s destroy governments.’” One positive way forward, Hassan suggested, is for public responses to stop demonizing QAnon supporters, as this can play into their self-isolating narratives. Adherents should be taken at their word, she said, as people who yearn to connect the dots toward justice.” • Canadian context, but still interesting! • The author comments:

The Christian Right did the same thing:

I’ve gotta say, though: A popular movement that conceptualizes global elites as blood-drinking lizard people with peculiar sexual habits is a lot more directionally correct than the Christian Right ever was.

UPDATE “Local Economic and Political Effects of Trade Deals: Evidence from NAFTA” (PDF) [Jiwon Choi, Ilyana Kuziemko, Ebonya Washington, Gavin Wright]. From the Abstract: “We show that counties whose 1990 employment depended on industries vulnerable to Mexican import competition via the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) suffer large employment losses (relative to the bottom quartile of counties, counties in the top quartile of NAFTA exposure see 5-8 log-point declines in employment by 2000). Despite large employment losses, we can reject even modest population declines. Trade-adjustment-aid relief rises, but covers a tiny share of the job losses we document, and Disability Insurance in fact displays a much larger response. Exposed counties (many in the upper South) begin the period more Democratic in terms of votes in House elections, but as NAFTA is debated in 1992-1994 they shift in the Republican direction and by 2000 vote majority-Republican in House elections. We show with a variety of microdata, including 1992-1994 respondent-level panel data, that opposition to free trade predicts shifts towards Republican party identification.” • Bill Clinton, good job.

UPDATE “How Democrats Lost the Sunshine State” [Ruy Teixeira, The Liberal Patriot]. “One reason is the move of white noncollege voters away from the Democrats, particularly in the north of the state. In 2020, Biden probably lost them by about 30 points. Another is a white college population that is relatively conservative and did not move much, if at all, toward the Democrats in 2020. But most brutal has been slippage in the Hispanic vote, which can cancel out or more the presumed positive effects for the Democrats of demographic change.” • Oops. So much for the coalition of the ascendant.

Stats Watch

Coincident Indicator: “March 2021 CFNAI Super Index Moving Average Index Improved” [Ecointersect]. “The economy’s rate of growth improved based on the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) 3 month moving (3MA) average – and the economy is slightly above the historical trend rate of growth… This index is likely the best coincident indicator of the U.S. economy. A coincident indicator shows the current state of the economy. This month, four of the four broad categories of indicators improved. The economy has slowed from its rate of growth in 2018 but now has moved above territory associated with recessions [a level below -0.7 indicates a recession is likely underway.”

Employment Situation: “17 April 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 515 K to 670 K (consensus 615 K), and the Department of Labor reported 547,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 678,750 (reported last week as 683,000) to 651,000.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index jumped 17 points from the previous month to 40 in April 2021, suggesting Tenth District manufacturing output expanded at a record pace, driven by higher activity levels at durable goods plants, especially for primary and fabricated metals, and transportation equipment manufacturing.”

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Manufacturing PMI was revised slightly higher to 59.1 in March of 2021 from a preliminary of 59, pointing to the second-highest griwth in factory activity on record. The overall expansion was supported by the steepest rise in new orders since June 2014, although production was reportedly held back by supply shortages. Supplier lead times lengthened to the greatest extent on record. At the same time, inflationary pressures intensified, with cost burdens rising at the quickest rate for a decade.”

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Real Estate: “How the Pandemic Did, and Didn’t, Change Where Americans Move” [New York Times]. “[N]ew data shows that it did indeed appear to prompt an unusually large flow of urban residents out of New York and San Francisco, two regions with a high share of jobs that can be done remotely even after the pandemic is behind us. But about 30 million change-of-address requests to the U.S. Postal Service in 2020 show that with these two very visible exceptions — and a few smaller ones — migration patterns during the pandemic have looked a lot like migration patterns before it. Some smaller regional metro areas and vacation hubs benefited. But in general, areas that were already attracting new residents kept attracting them. Those that were losing migrants lost more. And there are few examples, at least in the data so far, of previously down-and-out regions drawing people in. In short, as disruptive as the pandemic has been in nearly every aspect of life, it doesn’t appear to have altered the underlying forces shaping which places are thriving or struggling.”

Shipping: “Crew Of ‘Ever Given’ Could Be Stuck On The Big Boat For Years” [Jalopnik]. “but the Ever Given still hasn’t moved on from its holding spot in the Great Bitter Lake in the middle of the Suez Canal after almost a month. The crew still stuck on the ship is very concerned about this, as there seems to be no sign that an agreement will be reached between Egypt and the Ever Given’s owners any time soon. Until there is an agreement in place, the crew is stuck there, and they could be for years. Apparently, it isn’t unusual for crew members to get trapped on ships caught in the middle of international shipping disputes.” • No, it isn’t.

Shipping: “Op-Ed: Bareboat Charter Scheme Threatens Great Lakes Shipping” [Maritime Executive]. “A major private equity firm and one of its holdings could force a major U.S.-flagged fleet of Great Lakes dry bulk cargo vessels out of service — and the risk these businesses raise could spread to the U.S.-flagged deep-sea and inland waters maritime sectors. The culprits here are American Industrial Partners and the bankrupt Rand Logistics LLC. Their intent is to gut jobs, wages and employee benefits to secure ‘cost savings’ that can then be diverted to paying off the massive accumulating debt of Rand Logistics and widening the profit margin of American Industrial Partners.”

Tech: “TikTok sued for billions over use of children’s data” [BBC]. “Lawyers will allege that TikTok takes children’s personal information, including phone numbers, videos, exact location and biometric data, without sufficient warning, transparency or the necessary consent required by law, and without children or parents knowing what is being done with that information… TikTok has more than 800 million users worldwide and parent firm ByteDance made billions in profits last year, with the vast majority of that coming via advertising revenue. The claim is being launched on behalf of all children who have used TikTok since 25 May 2018, regardless of whether they have an account or their privacy settings. Children not wishing to be represented can opt out.”

Tech: “Google Turmoil Exposes Cracks Long in Making for Top AI Watchdog” [Bloomberg]. “For more than three years, Google held up its Ethical AI research team as a shining example of a concerted effort to address thorny issues raised by its innovations. Created in 2017, the group assembled researchers from underrepresented communities and varied areas of expertise to examine the moral implications of futuristic technology and illuminate Silicon Valley’s blind spots. It was led by a pair of star scientists, who burnished Google’s reputation as a hub for a burgeoning field of study. In December 2020, the division’s leadership began to collapse after the contentious exit of prominent Black researcher Timnit Gebru over a paper the company saw as critical of its own artificial intelligence technology. To outsiders, the decision undermined the very ideals the group was trying to uphold. To insiders, this promising ethical AI effort had already been running aground for at least two years, mired in previously unreported disputes over the way Google handles allegations of harassment, racism and sexism, according to more than a dozen current and former employees and AI academic researchers.”

Manufacturing: “Emirates says wants ‘grown-up’ talks on Boeing 777x” [Reuters]. • Oh. Let’s just hope Boeing hasn’t managed to crapify it’s only remaining solid performer.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 22 at 12:58pm.

The Biosphere

“The humble shrub that’s predicting a terrible fire season” [Ars Technica]. Chamise, a really neat plant. “Fire scientists aren’t so much interested in the regenerative abilities of the chamise as its powers of prognostication. Because the plant is so abundant, it’s a sort of standardized species—they can sample it all over the state. Fire weather researchers like San Jose State University’s Craig Clements (who’s also a fire chaser) use it to get an idea of how parched vegetation is overall. Clements goes out into the field, randomly samples chamise plants, and takes the material back to the lab. He weighs it, pops it in an oven for 24 hours at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and then weighs it again to determine how much water it’s lost. Or, put another way, he measures how much moisture the shrub had in the first place. And nothing scares a fire weather scientist quite like a year with dehydrated chamise. If it’s dry, then that’s a good indicator that everything is dry. “Right now, these are the lowest April 1 fuel moistures we’ve ever had,” Clements says. This is supposed to be the time of year when moisture levels are at their highest, thanks to recent autumn and winter rains. But California is withering in a drought. ‘The shocking thing in 2021 is that we don’t have any new growth on chamise in our sample areas,’ Clements says. ‘These plants are stunted by the drought.'”

“Must Love Bogs” [The Baffler]. “Compared to this period of destructive disregard, the past several years have been good ones for peatlands. In 2016, at its World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) agreed upon a resolution that recognized the importance of peatlands and their vital role in climate change mitigation—though they cover only 3 percent of the earth’s land surface area, peatlands contain more carbon than all of the world’s vegetation (including forests) combined…. In May of 2020, a newly formed youth organization called Re-Peat hosted a global, virtual “Peat Fest”: twenty-four interdisciplinary “peaty hours” to help further the conversation around peatlands—but also to highlight artists, read poetry, and do yoga. The field is a very different one, a more optimistic one, than it was when Joosten first took up the cause…. Even so, peatlands can still seem like fringe topic. This is why Re-Peat is calling for a shift in how we think about them, one that is strikingly similar to what peatland conservationists have been pushing for for decades: to move away from the perception of peatlands as “wastelands,” “spaces of nothingness,” and into a new understanding of their value.” • On peat, see NC here, here, and here.

Health Care

“Use of Ivermectin as a Potential Chemoprophylaxis for COVID-19 in ERgypt: A Randomised Clinical Trial” (PDF) [Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research]. Results: “Fifteen contacts (7.4%) developed COVID-19 in the ivermectin arm compared to 59 (58.4%) in the non-intervention arm (p<0.001). The protection rate for ivermectin was more prominent in contacts aged less than 60-year-old (6.2% infected compared to 58.7% if no treatment)... Side effects of ivermectin were reported in 5.4%; they were mild. Conclusion: Ivermectin is suggested to be a promising, effective and safe chemoprophylactic drug in management of COVID-19." • Sure is odd we're not getting RCTs on Ivermectin in the US. "B.1.1.7 variant linked to 100-plus person ‘superspreader’ outdoor party near Maple Creek, Sask." [Global News]. “On April 2, a gathering allegedly took place at a rural residence near Maple Creek, according to the RCMP, which were contacted by the health authority on Tuesday to assist with investigating what was an outdoor event. Under Saskatchewan’s existing public health orders, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are permissible. ‘Obviously with a 100-plus person party, that wasn’t happening,’ Wasko said, noting attendees were primarily in their late teens and early 20s.” • I have my priors on outdoor transmission, so I’ll wait for the epidemiology on this one. For example, I wonder if what the indoors of the “residence” was like and what it was used for.

“University of Virginia hospital system to cancel thousands of backlogged lawsuits over medical bills” [The Hill]. “The University of Virginia Health System has announced that it will be canceling decades of court judgments and liens over unpaid medical bills in an effort to reduce some of the financial burden of medical costs for low-income patients. UVA Health announced the new policy in a Monday press release, explaining that it plans to “release all liens and judgments for patients who are at or below 400% of the federal poverty level.” • Now do college debt.

Police State Watch

It wasn’t just one “bad apple” at Abu Ghraib either:

“Defund the police: how a protest slogan triggered a policy debate” [Financial Times]. “Eleven months ago “Defund the police” was a slogan that appeared on placards at protests; now it is being debated by American city councils. Polls show only a small portion of Americans support the idea of defunding the police, a flexible phrase that can mean redirecting funds to social services or outright elimination of the department. Yet after the conviction of the officer accused of murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, and in the wake of yet more deaths at the hands of police, what was previously a fringe concept has become part of mainstream US political discussion. Minneapolis has three proposals to diminish the police department’s power that supporters are attempting to place on the ballot in November. Two would replace the police department with a department of public safety, with the police as one division of it. The third would place the police department under the control of a 13-member civilian commission, with the power to hire the police chief and discipline officers for misconduct. Austin, Texas cut its police budget in August by 35 per cent, with 5 per cent taking immediate effect. Seattle cut the police budget by 20 per cent in December. City councils have cut police budgets in nearly two dozen other cities, although mostly because the pandemic has battered municipal finances.”

“An Interactive Guide To Ambiguous Grammar” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “As a thought experiment, let’s examine in extremely close detail a set of iterative changes that can be made to a single simple grammatical structure, turning it from a statement taken at face value into one loaded with unrealized implication. This makes for rich writing which rewards – or even demands – close scrutiny.” • I could also file this under Our Famously Free Press…..

Bible Corner

Well, good!

Groves of Academe

“Here’s Who Was Hit Hardest by Higher Ed’s Pandemic-Driven Job Losses” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. “Since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March of 2020, institutions of higher education have shed a net total of at least 570,000 workers, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted figures from the U.S. Labor Department. Put another way, for every nine workers employed in academe in February 2020, at least one had lost or left that job a year later… Despite a significant increase in recent months, the net loss in jobs remains so large that it’s erased more than a decade of job gains for the sector, with higher ed’s work force now matching its size in February 2008.”

Class Warfare

Another account worth reading:

I do try to avoid this tendency, but I’m not sure I always succeed. (Co-op mavens, please send us more links — or newsletters to subscribe to!

“‘There’s a Very Human Cost to Convenience’” [New York Magazine]. Amazon driver: “It’s really irrelevant if what they’re paying is better than another company. The only relevant thing is, Is it going to pay my bills? I would love to see someone draw up a budget where you can live comfortably on $15 an hour. And obviously, people do it, you know, but it’s a stressful life to make ends meet like that. A lot of people I know at my delivery-service partner are working two jobs. And that’s just ridiculous because our work is worth more than that. [Editor’s note: He earns $18 an hour.] Amazon is like any other corporation that has ever existed. It was started solely to make money. Hearing about workers’ issues doesn’t necessarily make them more money. To Amazon, it’s a waste of time. They just want to pay us as little as possible, give us the cheapest health-care plan possible; they don’t even give us a pension. They’re not going to invest in any kind of safety equipment. It’s all about just keeping costs low. And they don’t care about workers. They only care about profit.” • Worth reading in full.

“Union asks NLRB to set aside Amazon election results” [Politico]. “The 23 objections filed last week with the National Labor Relations Board and released Monday allege that Amazon “created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals” which interfered with the employees’ “freedom of choice” in the election. ‘We demand a comprehensive investigation over Amazon’s behavior in corrupting this election,’ said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum in a statement. But the company pushed back against the unions claims, arguing that the union wasn’t accepting the employees’ choice to reject the union.” • IMNSHO: It’s good to “raise awareness” this way, but you have to win on the shop floor.

News of the Wired

Rentiers gotta rent:

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From the North Woods.

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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. zagonostra

    >“CVS Health Quietly Made Massive Donation to Dark-Money Group Fighting Access to Care” – [The Intercept]. “

    I did not know, or forgot, that CVS owns Aetna. I tend to go into family owned pharmacies when ever I can. Now, I’ll drive the extra mile if I have to avoid CVS.

    The definition of an evil company in my lexicon is the one that lobbies against providing affordable healthcare to all.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > affordable healthcare to all

      Not affordable. Free at the point of service. But yes, avoid CVS if you can (i.e., if the chains haven’t destroyed everything in sight).

      1. John

        Monopolies and oligopolies do not exist for the public interest. Never have. Never will. They are bad business across the board.

  2. km

    Did not Caity Johnstone teach the masses thusly: If the elites want to stop people from engaging in conspiracy theories, if they want us to stop questioning the official narratives, maybe they should not lie to us so much?

    Hell, a little more information besides “If you can’t trust the CIA then whom can you trust?” would be nice.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    Such a foreign policy of broad commitment is no longer sustainable.

    “America is back” isn’t a foreign policy strategery?

  4. km

    It bears repeating – when the PMC say “defund the police”, this is more than just virtue signaling.

    What “defund the police” means to the PMC is “take money away from the undeserving (blue collar, unionized, and often painfully unwoke cops) and give that money to the deserving (college educated paper shufflers with a hair-trigger sense of political correctness)..”

    1. John

      Has the use of deadly force by police increased in say the last ten years? If so, what is the explanation. Police shootings are certainly reported more widely than I recall being the case. Are police being trained in such a way that their guidelines lead to more ready use of their guns. Are their reasonable alternatives to the use of firearms? Does the number of firearms in the hands of the public have an effect? Seems to me that these questions ought to be investigated urgently.

      I would like to see the transfer of military equipment to police forces end. When you have an APC you think like a soldier confronting an enemy, not law enforcement dealing with a fellow citizen.

      1. upstater

        From wikipedia: “Although Congress instructed the Attorney General in 1994 to compile and publish annual statistics on police use of excessive force, this was never carried out, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not collect these data either.”


        The link contains a table for 2010-2021, but is ambiguous of cause and is wildly variable. The Iraq body count site is probably more accurate.

        Oh well, what you don’t know won’t hurt you?

      2. Temporarily Sane

        I fully agree that giving police forces military hardware is very bad policy. They don’t need that stuff to do their jobs effectively. A democracy should not be encouraging its police officers to behave like they are at war with the public.

        Also, police departments should not be hiring veterans because they will invariably think like soldiers and draw on their military training when the adrenaline kicks in. In a war zone blowing away a guy if it looks like he might be reaching for a weapon is acceptable, but on the streets of a civilian city it’s definitely not. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

        If we’re really serious as a nation about ending murder and gratuitous beatings by cop, the way cops relate to the citizens they are supposed to be protecting would have to be reimagined from the ground up and police training and hiring practices adjusted accordingly.

        But given the society we live in (dog eat dog late-capitalism and a lot of desperate and angry people with nothing to lose) that won’t be happening anytime soon.

        America’s police forces are largely a product of the violent and unequal society in which we live. When a society is failing on multiple levels changing one bit here and another bit there won’t cut it. It’s too far gone for that.

        Since the elites are pathologically resistant to change and would rather fly to Mars or hide out in abandoned nuke bunkers when the fit hits the shan, half-baked bandaid “solutions” and catchy sloganeering (defund the police!) are all we’re going to get.

      3. marym

        “In 2015, The Washington Post began to log every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. In that time there have been more than 5,000 such shootings recorded by The Post.

        … a Post investigation found that the FBI undercounted fatal police shootings by more than half. This is because reporting by police departments is voluntary and many departments fail to do so.

        The Post’s data relies primarily on news accounts, social media postings and police reports. Analysis of more than five years of data reveals that the number and circumstances of fatal shootings and the overall demographics of the victims have remained relatively constant.”


    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t agree with your understanding of “defund the police”. There is a long history of “retrain the police”, “reform the police”, “hold the police responsible to a civilian board”, and through it all the police forces have become more violent, more uncontrolled and unaccountable to the public. The slogan “defund the police” captures recognition of the sad reality that no retraining, no reform, no attempts to hold police responsible for their actions, have proven effective. The slogan “defund the police” means eliminate the police altogether and build a new organization with new leadership and new ways of actually performing the mission police mouth but no longer execute. There is nothing unwoke or politically incorrect about street justice randomly applied to guilty or innocent with deadly force. Other words apply.

      1. GERMO

        Morover, to characterize the institution of police as “blue collar and unionized” is doubly inaccurate. Blue Collar is becoming increasingly useless as a stand-in for “working class,” and true unions act in solidarity with other unions, not as strikebreakers, armed enforcers of the bosses’ powers, etc.

      1. hunkerdown

        Thank heavens for small favors.

        Maybe this is a teaser for an Ed Edd and Eddy reboot. Hopeful.

  5. cocomaan

    Has anyone else found any speculation on who is not going to take the vaccine? Demographics including age and race would be interesting.

    I have read someplace (and now can’t find the article) that the group not taking the vaccine are younger people. But I have not seen any racial/religious/other variety of breakdown.

    Waiting to see who gets castigated by the media and twitter over refusal.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Polls seem to indicate a fifth to a fourth of the population would “outright refuse” the offer of a vaccine with rural, Republican men leading the charge but it cuts across all demographics. So I present two questions:

      -do you want the Covid vaccine and to be free of Covid?

      -would you want a vaccine that hasn’t been fully tested, released by Herr Trump, that will require more than one visit, may require boosters, and could make you sick? Oh, and you still need to wear a mask. Also, don’t go near anyone with weakened immune systems, like the elderly relatives you haven’t been able to see.

      I was somewhat worried when I saw the line when I took my dad to his 2nd shot. Everyone looked young, as in under 30, maybe 35. This site wasn’t close enough to one of the local colleges for this to make sense, but I’m worried we hit the wall already. People might respond “yes” when asked, but I suspect the 2nd question is on people’s minds.

      There was some discussion that the “refusal” aspect isn’t the immediate problem as much as the ease of access. Access to vaccines isn’t entirely different to voting obstacles.

      1. cocomaan

        Thanks NotTim, there’s definitely that Republican cohort, but I’m also seeing it arise anecdotally among young people who just don’t really seem to care all that much about Covid or the politics of the vaccine. However I don’t know how widespread that is. I’m also interested in knowing how Latino and Black populations react to this.

        It’s really such an embarrassment that we’re having this conversation right now. Anyone with half a brain would know that, in America, a country where a rising number of people don’t want to vaccinate their babies for Measles/mumps/rubella, public health officials seem bewildered by an anti-vaccination cohort.

    2. Anonapet

      I think I’ve already had Covid so why should I risk an experimental vaccine?

      Besides, we need a control group, don’t we? And not to put all our eggs in one basket?

      Btw, thanks to whoever recommended “Bridget and Eamon” – makes me want to emigrate to Ireland.

    3. Arizona Slim

      You know what I want? I want Medicare for All to go with that shot.

      Why? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I haven’t had the greatest relationship with our nation’s for-profit health care system.

      If I were to have a shot, and if I had some sort of reaction, I’d have to depend on the tender mercies of that system. Which could bankrupt me.

      BTW, I seem to recall reading that medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the USA.

      1. MichaelC

        My friend (48 years old, no co morbidities) was hospitalized for a week with covid this month at Elmhurst Hospital Queens NY,
        Did not need IC.

        he checked his insurance billing when he got home last week.

        $120,000 so far.

        This hospital serves one of the most hard hit and hard up and likely in or underinsured neighborhoods in NYC.

        Random testing in the nearby zip codes in April 2020 showed a majority of those tested had antibodies, so it was rampant here in the early stages.this neighborhood is currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the city.

        I don’t expect that to change due to the belief of many that they were already infected early on and recovered ( based on conversations w variety of neighbors, so anecdotal)
        Fear of immigration for undocumented workers
        And inability to pay for health care.

        I was horrified but not surprised at my friends hospital bill, so it makes me wonder what a hospital cost graph overlaid on the hospitalized chart would look like at 100k per hospitalization.

        I don’t have heath insurance at the moment so I’d be bankrupt if I got sick and ended up in the hospital. I got the vaccine to mitigate my solvency risk. I’m far from alone but the cost aspect isn’t getting the press attention it needs.

        At today’s hospitalization from the chart above (1,500 in the US) at 120k per stay (based on my one data point) = 180,000,000, a day, assuming those 1500 in hospital now are there for a week. I’d have to adjust the hospitalization data to determine avg length of hospital stay, but we re looking at a whole lotta hurt


      2. Utah

        I have pretty severe anxiety and can give myself reactions to medications. My psychiatrist knows this all too well. I wanted to schedule my vaccine to get inside a hospital because that’s where I feel safest. The closest hospital to me is out of network, so any epi pen or other medical care they might have to give me will be out of network- I checked on this, reactions to free vaccine aren’t free. The next closest hospital giving out vaccines is on the other side of the valley, in network, but I have agoraphobia and can’t make that drive. The second best option is a medical facility as a drive up clinic where I can have somebody drive me. That option is where I’m leaning. However, due to aforementioned agoraphobia, I have very slim risk of covid, so I’m not in too much of a hurry and feel like I can work on this over the next little while, but cases are rising a bit here, so I shouldn’t wait too long. I don’t know many people like me. Most of my friends and family have gotten their vaccines. I’m the holdout.

        1. Alfred

          I’m not agoraphobic, but I still stay away from other people as much as possible in public situations, so I feel the same way about waiting. I think there will be a vaccine that I don’t feel will cause complications for me (I have a lot of neurological issues) eventually and don’t plan to travel before then. I live alone and remote so introducing one more variable that may cause health problems into my life scares me. I don’t think I am endangering anyone else by doing this.

      3. Anonapet

        MFA sounds like a very strategic demand for the FIRST vaccine strike since it’ll make subsequent vaccine strikes for additional reforms more credible/less risky – sorta like an unlimited strike fund.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      It’s been what, 2 weeks since I was eligible? About the same for local reports of the clinics not sounding like pandemonium? I just had to get tree trimming and will put my mind to this next I hope.

      Covid never came up with the tree service, all outside, no handshakes or even attempts, and, well, they don’t have any reason to touch each other.

      Until vaxxing is not a hassle, it’s premature to speculate about ‘the resisters’. It feels like promoting Black Friday behavior. Give me two weeks of ‘vaccination progressing smoothly” news stories and I’ll get anxious to do the thing. The Spectacle doesn’t attract all of the people. We have yet to attract the “Oh, Alright” crowd.

      But I have health care and leave. I probably won’t go into medical bankruptcy for taking the vaccine, whatever the outcome. I’m glad I’m not working two jobs.

      I’m going to continue to try to not get covid, because any data on long term effects are still years out. I figure getting shot near the middle of the bell curve suits that objective.

      I was leaning J&J, but manufacturing snafus are much higher on my list of worries than being the one-in-a-zillion with unlucky epigenetics.

      I figure I’ll ask my mom to remind me which shot she got. Half of one in a zillion then?

    5. Yves Smith

      See Links tomorrow. Women of reproductive age are another refusknik category. That is presumably the real driver of the reports of comparatively low vaccination rates among health care and nursing home workers.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        My doctor niece was complaining to me that when the vaccines were initially rolled out to health care workers here, as a precaution female staff were told not to take it if there was a possibility they were pregnant. Somehow, the messaging got garbled and a significant percentage of nurses and aides interpreted this as ‘the vaccines can make you infertile’. The result was (at least initially, I haven’t seen the latest figures), a very low rate of vaccination for younger female health workers.

        On the subject of messaging, I was talking to an English friend last night – he has had one AZ shot, and was asked to go on a trial to have a different vaccine as his second shot. He volunteered, but then didn’t hear back from them, even after emailing and calling. He now has a dilemma as he’s been offered the second shot but doesn’t know if he’s on the trial or not.

  6. Pavel

    If ivermectin had been properly evaluated as potential covid treatment in the US (as it has been in India, Egypt [as noted] and elsewhere) and then approved, would Pfizer et al have gotten EUAs for their not-thoroughly-tested vaccines?

    In theory, the answer is straightforward (“No”). Given how the FDA has been historically corrupt and biased in favour of Big Pharma, who knows? And of course Big Tech has been aggressively shutting down any discussion of non-vaccine alternatives, even the possibility of natural immunity post-infection.

    1. cocomaan

      This has been my big question too. EUA’s are specifically predicated on “no other therapeutic.” These therapeutic vaccines are only being given out because they are the only accepted option.

      My guess is that in a year or two, the FDA will finally approve another therapeutic. Not just ivermectin in the ranks, but also regeneron and hydroxycloroquine and other things Im already forgetting.

      By then, Pfizer and the rest will have made their billions.

      1. Cuibono

        i think this is a rumor. Some meds have been given Emergency approval already. Remdesevir and Methylprenisolone come to mind. Neither are prophylactic so there is that.

      2. Larry Y

        Well, most of the therapeutic options aren’t huge game changers. India and Brazil seem to indicate that vaccines are the only thing that will stop your healthcare system from collapsing without a hard lockdown.

    2. cm

      Next time Bill Gates does an AMA on reddit, it would be a fantastic opportunity to ask why he hasn’t funded an Ivermectin trial.

    3. curlydan

      The Egypt trial looks impressive and basically confirms what IM Doc has told us here. If someone gets COVID, immediately give ivermectin to the family.

      The efficacy of the ivermectin intervention looked good as well–about 87% if my math is right.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The Egypt trial looks impressive

        Both provincialism (“American Exceptionalism”) and corruption in the United States meant that even RTCs from other countries are studiously ignored.

    4. Carla

      Whenever I comment on the “I” drug here on NC, the comment goes into moderation. As Dr. John Campbell says in his You-tube videos, we desperately need a three-pronged approach: Vaccinations, Treatments, and Prophylactics against Covid-19. (I would add rapid testing, and I believe Dr. John also calls for that.) So far, the US, the UK and Europe have bet 100% on vaccines. Not smart. But Big Pharma is bent on millions more dying to protect their obscene profit margins, so what can we do?

  7. ambrit

    That “Ultra Car” piecemeal functions acquisition methodology looks like it could be sued against as a safety violation. What’s next, the car loses steering if the driver doesn’t re-up the ‘Steering Function Contract’ in a timely fashion?
    This looks like a real life example of a Phillip K Dick ultra paranoid plot device from back in the sixties and seventies.

    1. JustAnotherVolunteer

      Take a look at the KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION pages – they have a lot of recent data and these two reports get at some of your guestions:

      Latest Data on COVID-19 Vaccinations Race/Ethnicity



      KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: What We’ve Learned


      1. JustAnotherVolunteer

        Apologies – this was a reply to cocoman above on covid/vaccine stats

        “A weed is just a plant out of place”

      2. cocomaan

        Thanks JAV, exactly what I was looking for. Pretty much lined up with what predictions were: uptake among minority communities (esp those with a bad history vis a vis US govt and healthcare) was lower.

    2. John

      Convince me that given the present state of the technology that any autonomous vehicle is a good idea.In Nomadland the author says that the robots in Amazon warehouses do not reliably operate as they are supposed to and that is a much more contained environment. If an autonomous, i.e. driverless vehicle kills someone, causes an accident, drives on your lawn, who is responsible? Maybe someday, but even in science fiction they were confined to super highways with guide strips. How this all worked was hand-waved away and that looks to be where we are today.

      1. Terry Flynn

        South Park did this last season. The series has been increasingly criticised for deviating from its roots but I watched the Pandemic Special yesterday and honestly think it has recovered from a slump and is peaking again. I loved it. Mainstream reviewers didn’t.

        The “it’s funny because it’s true” principle has returned. It’s just that reality is so warped compared to first 8 seasons it is painful (but hilarious) to point out all the awful stuff NC draws attention to and satirise it. Matt and Trey were once lionised by the right wing. Interesting how those people now demonise them on message boards.

        Equal opportunity satire is great until “your” group has power and receives the attacks.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I hope that they do not do the same with brakes. Can you imagine? You would be screaming at your car “Brakes! Brakes!” and your car would say “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that. I’m still processing your card”

      1. Irrational

        Oh, that was exactly my thought!
        Car says that’ll be 5,000 (in whatever currency), pay now or die!

  8. upstater

    Wow, that BMW 530e to upgrade headlights tweet is one of the most obnoxious crapifications I have ever seen. Truly unbelievable.

    1. hemeantwell

      yeah, given the class of people who face these fees, boohoo, but jfc anyways.
      It’s like they didn’t buy a car, but a service vending platform.

    2. skippy

      I don’t find it much different to the Apple/Microsoft/Gaming architecture for skins or upgrades E.g. you buy[?????] the hard/software and then confronted with high powered psychological buy triggers for the ***good/cool stuff*** for your own[tm] personal happymeal or group/rank identifier.

      All of which is based on increasing flow of funds across – their balance sheets – which at the end of the day is just a more high powered version of the aforementioned – grok that …. and let the power of the bucket compel you …

      1. upstater

        I looked up the price for the BMW 530; it was $102,000. I think they could throw in the adaptive highbeams at that price!!!

        1. skippy

          Sure they could, but now days the Mfg is just a means to create a cash/income flow device with data [yours] feed back dynamics E.g. Smart*phone i.e. one time sales is so passé …..

        2. The Rev Kev

          Didn’t it come out with the Boeing 737 MAXs, that Boeing no longer included things like oxygen masks for the pilots but that the individual airlines would have to pay Boeing separate for stuff like that?

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Ohhhh, you actually want the plane not to CRASH?

            …Well, I am very pleased to inform you that premium functionality is available, at a small additional charge.

    3. Cuibono

      “If you are trying to access the Brake Module, please enter your credit card to process”

    4. griffen

      Another reminder to drive my Accord onward towards 300k miles. 2008 was not the best model year but I’ll be happy paying what is needed for it roll.

  9. John A

    Re Foreign Policy
    “The United States might impose sanctions on a Russian-German gas pipeline to protect the sovereignty of Ukraine…”

    How exactly, does Nord Stream II affect the sovereignty of Ukraine? Granted it will affect the fees Ukraine charges for the current pipeline through its country if the pipeline were to be closed, but that would be an economic effect. McCain, a known meddler in the 2014 coup and Ukraine affairs in general, ludicrously described Russia as ‘a gas station masquerading as a country’. Is the US now admitting the basket case that is post Maiden Ukraine is nothing more than a gas pipeline masquerading as a country? Seems like it.

    1. John

      Of course, the USA will impose sanctions. Sanctions and bluster and the sum and substance of our foreign policy. Not much change in the last 20 years.

    2. Doc Octagon

      Historically, Kremlin political allies in Ukraine and Belarus purchase discount LNG via Druzhba pipeline for their electric utilities, then sell the megawatts back to the Russian people. However, this backfired when Lukashenko threatened to close the spigot during his wobble. LNG requires a lot of care to ship by sea. Nord Stream allows the Kremlin to bypass burgeoning democracies and sell directly to NATO members, whom Putin claims is an existential military threat to Russia.

      Putin relies on the economic underdevelopment of his near abroad so that petroleum is the sole lever of power. Granted, Western Europe’s reliance on Russian LNG appears to be an ace-in-the-hole should hostilities break out, but also an obvious weakness for the Kremlin, as the main source of foreign reserves. And jets and strategic bombers do not burn LNG. So, this lever does nothing to limit NATO’s military capacity and is effective only in peace time.

      1. John A

        Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline for natural gas, not LNG. The former Soviet Union sold oil and gas to western Europe without any political issues when NATO and the Warsaw Pact were fully locked and loaded against each other. There is no reason to suppose today’s Russia would use oil and gas as a weapon.
        As for economic underdevelopment of the ‘near abroad’, that is a direct result of rampant neoliberalist policies and entrance to the EU, whereby whoever could leave those countries headed to the EU, and western companies moved basic manufacturing there to take advantage of cheap labour. Nothing to do with Russia, that as Putin has said many times, is the largest country in the world, why would they need to expand. Crimea was historically Russian and the population voted to rejoin Russia, there was no aggression or expansion involved.

    3. Skip Intro

      If Europe has an alternate source for Russian gas, they can’t be held hostage by Ukraine blocking the pipeline.

  10. marym

    “In an appalling 6–3 decision on Thursday, the Supreme Court effectively reinstated juvenile life without parole by shredding precedents that had sharply limited the sentence in every state. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s majority opinion in Jones v. Mississippi is one of the most dishonest and cynical decisions in recent memory:…Kavanaugh tore down judicial restrictions on JLWOP, ensuring that fully rehabilitated individuals who committed their crimes as children will die behind bars. Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, pulls no punches in its biting rebuke of Kavanaugh’s duplicity and inhumanity.”


    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      This is an utter travesty that ignores what we know about human development. It reverses the direction of recent case law and begs comparison of Kavanaugh the high school bully to Bryan Stephenson, who has devoted his entire adult life (no wife, no kids) to building an edifice to justice, in the process accomplishing the amazing feat of moving the court in the direction of science and compassion. And a moral pygmy comes along and kicks it all down.

  11. Mikel

    “Vaccination slowdown could threaten recovery” [The Hill]

    “Public health experts warn this deceleration of vaccine administration could jeopardize the country’s ability to get the virus under control as variants spread worldwide…”

    Virus under control or keep the health care system from being overwhelmed? Should definately keep health care system from being overwhelmed. 100%.
    But are they now saying the vaccines prevent transmission of the virus? Has that been settled? If not, vaccination just keeps the hospitals from being overwhelmed but doesn’t control the spread of the virus and the variants that develop.

  12. John

    On DC Statehood: The original ten mile square was truncated when the Virginia portion was returned to that state. Return the current district to Maryland. Yeah, you have to figure out a slew of knotty jurisdictional issues, but to me that makes more sense than making DC a state. The sole purpose looks to be the addition of two senators and one representative for the Democrats based on present voting patterns.

    Puerto Rico: If it wishes, statehood. That way Congress cannot nickel and dime it and yes it probably means two more senators and X-number of representatives for the Democrats, which neatly explains the pattern of support and opposition.

    If Puerto Rico, why not the Virgin Islands, Guam?

    1. voteforno6

      The sole purpose looks to be the addition of two senators and one representative for the Democrats based on present voting patterns.

      So what? That’s why the Dakota Territory was split into two – to give the Republicans more representation in Congress.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      John: And from the Forbes article, it all gets even more complicated:

      Forbes on Joe Lieberman emerging from his crypt to lead the liberation of District of Columbia:

      [Lieberman] endorsed his friend Sen. John McCain, a Republican, for president in 2008, and he was interviewed as a possible nominee for FBI director by former President Donald Trump in 2017.

      And then there’s this quote in Forbes, which may indeed be a problem:

      “I think it’s unconstitutional… I think the constitution indicates D.C. is not supposed to be a state,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told Forbes, underscoring the likely intractable opposition the bill faces from some Republicans.

      Anyone familiar with the U.S. Constitution knows that there is some wild stuff that Congress is supposed to be doing. Clause 17—after the post office and before the necessary and proper clause. So it is not to be ignored.

      Establishing a national capital:

      1. GF

        I received an email today from my congress critter Paul Gosar, AZ 4, with this:

        “Today, I voted against the Democrats’ unconstitutional effort to allow the District of Columbia to become the 51st state.

        The Constitution specifically designates a congressionally controlled federal district. Without an amendment to the constitution, Congress has no authority to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. and it will not be upheld in the courts.”

      2. marym

        The seat of government [the Capital] would remain under federal control. The rest of DC would be the new state [Washington, Douglass Commonwealth].

        The commonwealth (1) shall consist of all District territory, with specified exclusions for federal buildings and monuments, including the principal federal monuments, the White House, the Capitol Building, the U.S. Supreme Court Building, and the federal executive, legislative, and judicial office buildings located adjacent to the Mall and the Capitol Building; and (2) may not impose taxes on federal property except as Congress permits.

        District territory excluded from the commonwealth shall be known as the Capital and shall be the seat of the federal government. The bill maintains the federal government’s authority over military lands and specified other property.

        The boundaries are described in Subtitle B—Seat Of Government Of The United States


        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘The seat of government [the Capital] would remain under federal control.’

          That sounds awfully like a Green Zone in the making that.

    3. cm

      DC population is approx 700k.
      Puerto Rico population is approx 3M.
      Check this out for details about other US territories, but I don’t think they merit statehood.

      Based on population, Puerto Rico clearly warrants statehood far more than DC.

    4. Pavel

      An American friend of mine who has been active in Democrat politics for decades and once stood as a delegate to a convention emailed me today and said if the Dems try to push through DC statehood (after Biden famously promised to “unite” the country and bring people together) Texas will probably divide itself into 5 states.

      I have no idea how these things work at the state or Constitutional level, but the Democrats should be careful what they wish for!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Texas will probably divide itself into 5 states.

        Wouldn’t Congress have to ratify that?

        This is all starting to have an 1840s – 1850s feel to it.

  13. Geof

    From the Remski thread:

    If CueAnon is in part a pain response — for the rank-and-file, not the grifters — it is provoked by political-historical injustices and absurdities too vast to understand or bear *without* idiosyncratically isolating and boosting myths and rhythms, archetypes and final events.

    . . . They are right that abuses, domestic, medical, and genocidal, are kept secret. And that money usually buys sociopaths freedom from accountability.

    That globalization is terrifying in its scope and amorality. That there are ulterior motives for and consequences of tech bro/banker philanthropy. That disaster capitalism is waiting to weaponize vulnerability. That surveillance capitalism dehumanizes and demystifies desire.

    That the internet is a hyperobject, and in its shadow you might gain agency through obsessive engagement and commentary. It makes sense to fantasize that someone holds the codes. If they anoint you as a digital soldier, you have less time to be despondent.

    Wokeness, in other words, or a close approximation.

    I keep encountering liberals whose descriptions of nutters on the right also perfectly describe wokeness. Yet they never evince any awareness of the fact. They seem to be more wedded to being on their side of the left-right split, even if that means ignoring evidence that they are correct about the pain caused by globalization, metastasized capitalism, and the corruption of governments and institutions.

    I’m listening to Noreena Hertz on the Hidden Forces podcast, where she talks about her book, The Lonely Century, and about how studies have found a connection between feelings of loneliness and alienation and right-wing populism. Hannah Arendt makes the same connection in The Origins of Totalitarianism – only Arendt recognizes the phenomenon as one of both the right and the left – of Naziism and Stalinism. Hertz, it seems, is blind to the phenomenon on the woke left.

    I found Robert Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians (available free online) valuable enough to read twice – but with a significant caveat: he examines only right-wing authoritarianism, not left-wing (or centrist) authoritarianism, to the point where he uses survey data on religious beliefs as a proxy for authoritarian tendencies.

    To me, these are glaring omissions. The vast majority of people don’t choose political beliefs because of the detailed content of the ideology, any more than Catholics believe because of the doctrine of the Trinity: they believe because it gives them a sense of shared community and a response to the suffering in their lives.

    I think readers of NC understand this. The common interests of the masses of people on the so-called left and right are polarized and divided around made-up causes like race (see Barbara & Karen Fields, Racecraft). It’s so frustrating to see thinkers fall for this time and again. How far is calling for empathy going to get you if you are blind to or deny symmetry?

    1. Alfred

      “The vast majority of people don’t choose political beliefs because of the detailed content of the ideology”

      That’s a good point. Everything looks like a competition to me now, politics, religion, who is trying to get over on me now, who is going to take my life away from me. If I get real and feel empathy, I realize we are really all in the same boat. It does not mean I want to be crushed. Where do people find their space to exist?

  14. Dr. John Carpenter

    The guy who penned the “bad apple” cartoon must have had the old Donnie Osmond song “One Bad Apple” in mind. It’s interesting how that phrase has been twisted around to the point where it has become factually untrue, as one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. Of course, the real issue is, this isn’t about one bad apple, regardless of how they’re trying to make it out to be.

  15. cnchal

    > “‘There’s a Very Human Cost to Convenience’” [New York Magazine]

    Amazon driver: . . . It was started solely to make money. . . They only care about profit.”

    Not even the meat that Bezos beats understands what’s going on.

    From the link in the Privacy Champions post. https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-paradox

    Written in 2017 Amazon has become infinitely moar rapacious in the interim.

    . . . Although Amazon has clocked staggering growth—reporting double-digit increases in net sales yearly—it reports meager profits, choosing to invest aggressively instead. The company listed consistent losses for the first seven years it was in business, with debts of $2 billion. While it exits the red more regularly now, negative returns are still common. The company reported losses in two of the last five years, for example, and its highest yearly net income was still less than 1% of its net sales.

    What will the world look like when Amazon “earnings” grows to match it’s current stawk price, or is it that even remotely possible? Now it’s churning through $100 billion + per quarter of mostly Chinese crapola, gobbling vast resources to deliver that crapola with a greater than 100% tied to the whipping post employee turnover.

    During it’s existence it has sucked back billions in direct government subsidies extracted from various levels of government to put up it’s soul sucking warehouses and power sucking data centers and pays essentially zero income tax. That’s winning, for Bezos and losing for everyone else.

    To top it off, Bezos prays that Jerome won’t stop pouring a daily bottle of Newfoundland screech down Mr. Market’s throat. That’s his true source of wealth. Amazon confetti for cash.


    BMW and the auto headlight dimmer. All I can do is weep at the stupidity of current clownsumers.

    Peak BMW happened a quarter century ago with the E38 E39 and E46. It has been downhill ever since.

  16. diptherio

    Re: BSA on “organize locally” lip service

    They’re not wrong. Grifters gotta grift.

    But leaving aside the grifters, I think a major reason these efforts often struggle is that we are not used to working cooperatively in large groups to accomplish specific, concrete tasks, which is what the good iterations of local organizing accomplish. Many people in many places, on many different scales have accomplished it though, thankfully, so we know that it can work. But we’re all so acculturated to frame every discussion as a debate – where each is trying to essentially conquer all the others – that doing things differently – in the frame of a conversation; listening to understand – is hard and feels weird…because most of us don’t have much practice at it.

    The good news is that getting that practice is, like anything else, mostly a matter of motivation and sincere commitment. Groups with a high enough proportion of members who have that can do some real cool stuff. They don’t fix everything, but they do improve things for a lot of people. See the Arizmendi Assoc. of Co-ops in the Bay Area for instance.

    As for co-op newsletters, I’m putting together a list for you, with some input from others who also spend a lot of time in this world. I’ll send you an email when everybody’s had a chance to chime in. For starters though, the Univ. of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (https://uwcc.wisc.edu/about-uwcc/newsletters/) and MadWORC (https://madworc.org/news/) spring to mind, as we’ve got a regional conference coming up soon that those groups are hosting.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’m putting together a list for you, with some input from others who also spend a lot of time in this world. I’ll send you an email when everybody’s had a chance to chime in

      That’s awesome, thank you. I wouldn’t know where to begin, or to sort what I found. (We’re production-oriented here, in case you haven’t noticed, but if these newsletter start appearing in our news flow, some percentage will show up in links, and hopefully readers will notice and comment.

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “The humble shrub that’s predicting a terrible fire season”

    This quote from the link foretells of a most unwelcome and unhappy Summertime:
    “Right now, these are the lowest April 1 fuel moistures [in the chamise shrub] we’ve ever had,”
    These are increasingly interesting times we live in. I heard of temperatures from last Summer in the little corner of California where I grew up unlike the highest temperatures from when I lived there — more fitting for the open desert outside Yuma.

  18. Raymond Sim

    I’m the guy in Davis. Just found that the Davis Joint Unified School District’s Covid dashboard is working – I had the impression they had taken it down.

    Birch Lane, the elementary school I mentioned, lists one student “exposure & quarantine” for the current week.

    Korematsu, a neighboring elementary school is part of a two-school air filter sampling pilot program. They got a hit on that last week. Now they list one student and one staff in the e&q category.

    Overall the district lists 2 students with positive tests and 92 students and 9 staff as e&q. The two positives and the overwhelming majority of e&q’s are from jr and sr high schools.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Oh, I guess I checked a little too early in the day, the counts are still rising. Two more elementary schools each with 2 e&q.

      This is troubling. I’m not cut out for this macabre tape watching stuff.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Biden’s Everything Doctrine”

    There may be a way to ease pressure on US leadership here. The US Constitution dates back to when the population numbered about four million and whose main concern was the frontier and foreign trade. Now it numbers three hundred and thirty million and has an empire spanning the world so that leadership can only have a limited span. Instead of screwing with the Constitution, why not modify some roles. So, how about adopting the ship of State to an actual ship command. So you would have the President concentrate mostly on foreign concerns. The Vice-President – whose main duties at present is to cut ribbons and wait for the President to fall off his perch – now becomes responsible for all domestic affairs. If both operate as a team it could be quite effective and Cheney showed how a VP can be very powerful. Unfortunately with a weak Biden and a shallow Kamala, such an idea would prove a disaster. You would need a system that would throw up competent leaders first instead of the hacks as of present.

    1. ambrit

      Sounds like a variant of the Co-Emperors of Ancient Rome. Alas, that arrangement eventually culminates in Civil War.
      As the “Security Establishment” has already shown, the line between ‘domestic’ and ‘foreign’ affairs has been blurred almost to invisibility.
      A more probable outcome would also be similar to the history of Ancient Rome; the partition of the Empire into Eastern and Western Realms.

      1. Tom Stone

        Ambrit, I’ve been reading a bit about the Missouri-Kansas war of 1854-1865 and the period of 1861-’63 in particular.
        I submit that our current Government authorities will act in pretty much the same way General Fremont and the rest of the Union authorities did back in the day.
        And I expect they will get pretty much the same results .

  20. John

    Here’s Who Was Hit Hardest by Higher Ed’s Pandemic-Driven Job Losses”
    What part of these job lost were those of highly paid administrators whose numbers have been multiplying like locusts? Faculty gets squeezed. Adjuncts, sans benefits, proliferate. Tenure tracks atrophy. Administrators and fund raisers (I receive all too regular emails from the guy who is soliciting bequests; I’m 84 so he wants me to get that clause in the will), must reproduce by fission. Tuition at private colleges is obscenely high. Legislatures have underfunded state colleges so that tuition creeps ever higher leaving only the community colleges which function as job training institutions at almost affordable cost. But does it matter when robots are going to take the jobs anyway?

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    If the inhabitants of DC need and deserve Statehood, divide the lived-in neighborhoods of DC between Maryland and Virginia. Then the DCians will have Statehood representation in either Maryland or Virginia.
    And reserve the DC Federal District status for the few acres of government buildings and stuff right up against them and right around them.

    Or otherwise, get set for Texas to divide itself up into 5 states any time it wants to. 5 Texases. 10 Texican Senators. Check mate DC State.

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