2:00PM Water Cooler 5/12/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

From New Zealand.

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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. All the charts are becoming dull — approaching nominal, if you accept the “new normal” of cases, for example.

Vaccination by region:

Maybe the free beer is a better idea than we thought? Or, credit where it’s due, perhaps people listened to Biden? (We might speculate from Michigan that asking, as opposed to compelling, does seem to, if not work, at least not fail.)

Case count by United States regions:

The Midwest in detail:

Continued good news. But Michigan’s decrease is agonizingly slow.

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

Down, except for the West, now flat.

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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

Capitol Seizure

“In Exclusive Jailhouse Letter, Capitol Riot Defendant Explains Motives, Remains Boastful” [Pro Publica]. “In a letter sent from behind bars, a key defendant in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol said he and fellow inmates have bonded in jail, and boasted that those attacking the building could have overthrown the government if they had wanted. The letter is signed ‘the 1/6ers’ and expresses no remorse for the assault on the Capitol, in which five people died. While no names appeared on it, ProPublica was able to determine, through interviews with his family and a review of his correspondence from jail, that it was penned by Guy Reffitt, a member of the Three Percenter right-wing militant group accused of participating in the riot. The letter said the inmates arrested for their role in the attack regularly recite the Pledge of Allegiance inside the Washington, D.C. jail and sing the national anthem ‘all in unison, loud and proud most everyday.’ ‘January 6th was nothing short of a satirical way to overthrow a government,’ said the letter, written by hand on yellow lined paper. ‘If overthrow was the quest, it would have no doubt been overthrown.'”

Biden Administration

“Biden sees Trump rematch as real possibility” [The Hill]. “In an interview with Axios that aired Sunday evening, White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Biden is anticipating the possibility of running against Trump again. ‘I wouldn’t want to estimate or underestimate Donald Trump as an opponent if he chooses to run,’ Klain said. Klain then said that Biden is working to set up a list of accomplishments that will make it more difficult for Trump or any other Republican to defeat him in 2024.” • The wild card is Covid, just as in 2020. If the Biden Administration’s gamble with Trump’s vaccine pays off, I think Biden wins, if (a) the economy keeps up an (b) Biden doesn’t throw a cog. If Biden’s food taster slips up, and Harris runs against Trump, I think Trump would have a very solid shot.

UPDATE “Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden’s FTC nominee Lina Khan” [The Hill]. “Khan is an influential antitrust scholar, known for her ‘Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox’ paper, which she wrote as a student at Yale. She also served as an aide to the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee’s investigation into the market power of the biggest tech companies….. Khan would be joining the FTC at a critical time. The agency is engaged in a lawsuit against Facebook, along with attorneys general across the country, suing the social media giant over allegations of anti-competitive acquisitions.” • Good!

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “Arabella Advisors: Democrats’ Darkest Dark Money” [The American Conservative]. “Arabella Advisors is a for-profit consulting firm founded by former Clinton administration staffer Eric Kessler, who started his career as an environmental activist for the League of Conservation Voters. The firm controls four nonprofits (the “sisters”) with vague names and a common address: the 501(c)(3) New Venture Fund, Hopewell Fund, and Windward Fund, and the Sixteen Thirty Fund, Arabella’s 501(c)(4) lobbying shop. Each of these nonprofits pays the company for the privilege of being staffed and led by Arabella folks ($137 million since 2008), and all four are behemoths—bringing in $731 million from difficult-to-trace donors in 2019 alone. My colleagues and I at the Capital Research Center have studied the Arabella network for over two years. Here’s how it works. Arabella’s nonprofits act as the left’s premier pass-through funders for professional activists. Big foundations—including the Gates, Buffett, and Ford Foundations—have laundered billions of dollars through this network, washing their identities from the dollars that go to push radical policies on America. But the real juice from these nonprofits comes from the vast array of ‘pop-up groups’ they run—called so because they consist almost solely of slick websites that may pop into existence one day and pop out the next, usually once the campaign is through. We’ve counted over 350 such front groups pushing everything from federal funding of abortion to overhauling Obamacare to packing the Supreme Court. Arabella is as dark as ‘dark money’ gets.” • The old saying that “money is the mother’s milk of politics” is peculiarly applicable. And at last we have a view of the connective tissue of the NGO world. Fascinating stuff, all done with layers of indirection (“cut-outs”) and a fee for everybody, as is liberal Democrat’s wont….

UPDATE “Rushing to Judgment on Scott Stringer” [The Nation]. “We cannot flourish as a society if a single accusation out of the blue upends an election overnight and ruins a 30-year career in politics…. Emily Jane Goodman is a retired New York State Supreme Court justice who began her career as a trailblazing feminist lawyer. “This will come back to haunt us,” she told me. “It will be a way of canceling women. Someone says they saw you hit your baby 20 years ago, and that’s the end for you.‘” • A lightbulb goes on over every strategist’s head, Republican or Democrat.

Republican Funhouse

On the Cheney flap: Before we go all “Big Lie!”, and “These People Have Lost Their Minds,” and “I Fear for the Republic,” let’s recall that Facebook ads like this:

were the sharp end of the spear of a putative Russian influence campaign that tipped the 2016 election to Trump (at least in the imaginations of liberal Democrats), and that this orthodoxy was seriously enforced, so much that Sanders himself, in 2020, had to pledge fealty to it. (From the Times collection: “These Are the Ads Russia Bought on Facebook in 2016“). The Republicans aren’t dumb. If they didn’t know that delegitimizing the election of an opponent on wholly spurious grounds was not only fun, profitable, and extremely effective in enforcing party discipline, they certainly knew it after watching Democrats 2016-2020.)

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“Cheney ousted by U.S. House Republicans, but will seek re-election” [Reuters]. “House of Representatives Republicans on Wednesday ejected Liz Cheney from their leadership ranks as punishment for repudiating former U.S. President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, but she remained defiant and made plans to seek re-election to Congress. Her ouster from her party’s No. 3 post in the Democratic-led House unfolded in mere minutes in a closed-door meeting. The action signaled that Trump, despite losing to Democrat Joe Biden in November, has solidified his hold over House Republicans as he jockeys to play a major role in the 2022 congressional elections and flirts with running for president again in 2024. Cheney’s decision, disclosed by a spokesperson, to seek re-election next year for a fourth two-year term as the lone House member representing Wyoming appears to set the stage for a clash between competing factions in a Republican Party facing a moment of reckoning over its future – either following Trump’s lead or finding a new path.”

The World’s Greatest Troll™ weighs in:

The beauty part here is that Trump has fallen back into his original mode of speaking the truth that cannot be spoken. (1) Liz Cheney, spawn of Dick “Fourth Branch” Cheney, the Vice President who shot an old man in the face and got away with it, is a horrible human being. And Cheney is a warmonger (along with the liberal Democrats who voted for Iraq, all of whom Trump is subtweeting). On the warmongering part:

UPDATE “Liz Cheney Helped Create Donald Trump’s GOP” [HuffPo]. “In recent weeks, pundits and political writers have called Cheney ‘the conscience of Republicans,’ a ‘martyr‘ and a ‘symbol of courage,’ and have bemoaned ‘a party that lost its way.’ Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called her ‘a leader of great courage, patriotism and integrity.'” • Say no more! Say no more! More: “But make no mistake ― Cheney helped bring the Republican Party to the place it is today. She, like many other Republicans, encouraged Trump or looked the other way until it was too late. Republican politicians have a habit of inviting the most extreme elements into their house and then bemoaning their fringe friends as the party gets out of control. Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who made a name for himself with the hardball politics of the Newt Gingrich era, came to despise the tea party movement and the politicians it elected ― the Freedom Caucus and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) ― even as he failed to rein in the movement’s most extreme positions and benefited from its rise. Cheney is no different…. She voted in line with Trump’s positions 93% of the time. Until the 2020 election, her most notable differences with the president were on foreign policy. Cheney was more hawkish than Trump, in line with the reputation of her hawkish father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.”

UPDATE “Swing-voter focus group: Ousting Cheney is a mistake” [Axios]. “Nine of 14 voters said they could vote for a Republican for U.S. House or Senate races next year. All but one ruled out backing any candidate who clings to the former president’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him…. These voters said they’re turned off by House Republicans’ perceived fealty to Trump and the idea that there’s no tolerance for dissent or critical or independent thinking.” • I’m trying to come up with an election where voters when for the independent thinker, and I can’t come up with one. I mean, the Repubicans are hardly likely to run an egghead like Adlai Stevenson, eh? No indeed–

UPDATE “Exclusive poll: Republicans favor Greene over Cheney” [Axios]. Handy chart:

“More than 100 Republican former officials to seek reforms, threaten new party” [NBC]. “More than 100 influential Republicans plan to release a call for reforms within the GOP alongside a threat to form a new party if change isn’t forthcoming, a person familiar with the effort said. The statement, set to be released Thursday, involves a ‘Call for American Renewal,’ a credo that declares that it is imperative to ‘either reimagine a party dedicated to our founding ideals or else hasten the creation of such an alternative.’ The push will include 13 yet-to-be-revealed principles that the signatories want the GOP to embrace.” • Oh! A big bowl of mush! More: “AThe move was first reported by Reuters, which cited some of the people involved: former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security; former Transportation Secretary Mary Peters; and former GOP Reps. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma. Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent who ran for president as an independent in 2016, is also involved.” • Names to conjure with! Since when is is there such a thing as a “former” CIA agent? And how on earth would we tell!

“Rep. Scalise, survivors of 2017 baseball shooting call for FBI to review investigation” [The Hill]. “House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and more than a dozen other House Republicans are calling on the FBI to review its conclusion about the 2017 congressional baseball shooting that left the GOP and several others severely wounded. In a letter Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Scalise and other Republicans who were on the field during the shooting questioned how the agency concluded that the motivation of the gunman, James Hodgkinson, was ‘suicide by cop.’ ‘Prior to opening fire, he even asked if the Members on the field that morning were Republican or Democrat and was assured that the Members were Republicans,’ the letter said.” • Tit for tat… .

“Conservatives Panicking After Every Member Of Republican Party Ousted For Insufficient Loyalty To Trump” [The Onion].

Trump Legacy

“Trump’s blog isn’t lighting up the internet” [NBC]. “Four months after former President Donald Trump was banished from most mainstream social media platforms, he returned to the web last Tuesday with “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” essentially a blog for his musings. A week since the unveiling, social media data suggests things are not going well. The ex-president’s blog has drawn a considerably smaller audience than his once-powerful social media accounts, according to engagement data compiled with BuzzSumo, a social media analytics company. The data offers a hint that while Trump remains a political force, his online footprint is still dependent on returning to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.” • If your politics depends on a platform, you don’t have a politics.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“On the Epistemological Similarities of Market Liberalism and Standpoint Theory” [Episteme]. From the Abstract:

In this paper, we draw attention to the epistemological assumptions of market liberalism and standpoint theory and argue that they have more in common than previously thought. We show that both traditions draw on a similar epistemological bedrock, specifically relating to the fragmentation of knowledge in society and the fact that some of this knowledge cannot easily be shared between agents. We go on to investigate how market liberals and standpoint theorists argue with recourse to these similar foundations, and sometimes diverge, primarily because of normative pre-commitments. One conclusion we draw from this is that these similarities suggest that market liberals ought to, by their own epistemological lights, be more attentive towards various problems raised by feminist standpoint theorists, and feminist standpoint theorists ought to be more open to various claims made by market liberals.

So intersectionality is neoliberalism in a rainbow T-shirt? No wonder the CIA likes it so much.

Stats Watch

“April 2021 CPI: Year-over-Year Inflation Heats Up” [Econintersect]. “According to the BLS, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) year-over-year inflation rate was 4,2 % year-over-year (up from the reported 2.6 % last month). The year-over-year core inflation (excludes energy and food) rate grew from 1.6 % to 3.0 %.”

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Labor Market: “Extremely High Dislocation In The Labor Market” [Econintersect]. “The length of the work week rose from 34.9 to 35 hours. That tied the record high using data that goes back to March 2006. Weekly hours worked by private production & non-supervisory workers goes back further. It stayed at 34.4 hours which tied the highest reading since April 2000. From the 1960s to the 2010s, there was a multi-decade decline in hours worked per week… Permanent unemployment rose in April, but the BLS report was a blip. Job openings are spiking much quicker than hires which signals high dislocation in the labor market. Hiring will spike once the pandemic is over this summer. The highest net percentage of small businesses are raising prices since the 1970s. The April CPI report will show core inflation rose above the Fed’s target for the first time in this expansion. The Fed won’t turn hawkish because of this. They will call it transitory.” • Very interesting article, worth reading in full.

Commodities: “Iron Ore’s ‘Ridiculous’ Prices to Stay as Fear Grips Commodities” [Bloomberg]. “Iron ore’s stunning surge won’t fade anytime soon because buyers remain nervous about being caught short as global demand accelerates amid lingering supply threats, according to a veteran commodities trader…. China’s steel and iron ore futures also jumped to record highs Wednesday. The nation’s steelmakers are ramping up production in defiance of government attempts to rein in output to control the industry’s carbon emissions, while robust profit margins are enabling mills to better accommodate surging input costs. Iron ore is ‘grossly overpriced at the moment, but fear is an amazing motivator and prices are a reflection of fear,’ [Andrew Glass, Singapore-based founder of Avatar Commodities Ltd.] said. ‘You’re seeing fear more broadly with gold prices up, the dollar down, there is a flight to safety, and there is a certain amount of fear feeding into commodities markets.'”

Retail: “‘Made in China, sold on Amazon’ gadgets from Aukey, Mpow vanish from e-commerce site” [South China Morning Post]. “Amazon.com has apparently blocked several prominent mainland Chinese merchants for alleged “suspicious behaviour”, in a move that industry insiders said is part of a targeted crackdown on questionable business practices sellers on the platform, including those based in China. For over a week now, most Amazon listings from Aukey, a major Shenzhen-based electronics vendor, have been listed as ‘currently unavailable.’ Similarly, most products on Mpow, the main Amazon electronics store run by ByteDance and Xiaomi-backed consumer product firm Patozon, have not been available for purchase since late April…. The two companies are part of a growing wave of Chinese vendors turning to Amazon to reach international customers. In January, China-based sellers represented 75 per cent of all new merchants on Amazon, according to a recent report by consultancy Marketplace Pulse. The share of China-based sellers on Amazon’s US site has surged to 63 per cent this year from 28 per cent in 2019.”

Shipping: “Pandemic propels makeover at shipping giant Maersk” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “Shipping group Maersk said on Tuesday it expects average returns on invested capital towards 2025 to be significantly above recent years, propelled by high demand for containers to meet a surge in consumer orders. The Danish company said it aims to bolster supply chain logistics for clients such as Puma and Walmart as it spurs a transformation that began before the pandemic. Maersk Chief Executive Soren Skou told investors at a Capital Markets Day he expects return on invested capital (ROIC) – a measure of how well a company uses its capital to generate profits – above 12% between 2021 and 2025, compared with average returns of 2.3% in the previous five years.” • Holy [family blog]! Reinforcing every bad tendency, of course (where moar autarky is The Good).

Mr. Market: “Dow off 300 points, testing 50-day moving average after inflation climbs to highest in 13 years” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. stock indexes traded sharply lower early Wednesday, after a reading on inflation for the year to April climbed 4.2%, marking the highest rate in about 13 years, reigniting fears that the Federal Reserve may need to dial back its easy money policies earlier than expected.”

Infrastructure: “Power Outages Are Increasing. Can Medical Equipment Users Adapt?” [Undark]. “Over the past several decades, Americans have increasingly benefited from in-home technology, which can extend lifespans and enable more people to stay in their own homes. But the expanding array of such devices — including home oxygen machines, medication nebulizers, home dialysis, infusion pumps, and electric wheelchairs — all depend on a reliable power supply. Federal officials collect and map where the 2.6 million people on Medicare with these medical devices live, providing the information as a tool for public health and emergency preparedness efforts through its emPOWER Program. It’s unknown how many non-Medicare recipients also rely on this equipment, but data indicate that overall usage is increasing, [Joan Casey, an environmental epidemiologist at Columbia University] said. She was involved with a study published earlier this year in the journal Epidemiology which found that rentals of oxygen equipment had nearly tripled from 2008 to 2018, based on data from more than 243,000 Kaiser Permanente patients…. Shao Lin, a University at Albany physician-researcher who studies the health effects of extreme weather events, more recently assessed whether power outages affected hospitalizations among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who may require oxygen machines and other devices to help them breathe. Lin and her colleagues compared hospitalizations in New York state when the power was out with normal days. They estimated that, on days without power, 23 percent of hospital admissions for COPD patients could be linked to the loss of electricity.”

Science: “UPDATED: Feds charge another CRO staffer with faking data in a GlaxoSmithKline pediatric asthma study” [Endpoints News]. “A Florida woman has been indicted as part of a clinical trial fraud scheme over a GlaxoSmithKline pediatric asthma study, the Justice Department announced Tuesday, the latest development in a case where three individuals have already pleaded guilty. Jessica Palacio was charged with participating in a plot to falsify medical records, giving off the appearance that trial participants were making their scheduled visits to a Miami CRO and taking an experimental asthma medication as required. Palacio was also charged with lying to FDA investigators about her conduct. ‘Reliable and accurate data from clinical trials is the cornerstone of FDA’s evaluation of a new drug,’ said Justin Fielder, special agent at the Miami branch of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, in a statement. ‘We will continue to monitor, investigate and bring to justice those whose actions may subvert the FDA approval process and endanger the public health.'” • Just a reminder of what we’re dealing with when we deal with Big Pharma.

Science: “How COVID broke the evidence pipeline” [Nature]. “In the standard paradigm of evidence-based medicine, researchers collect evidence on a therapy from randomized controlled trials until it gets a green or red light. But in many situations, such trials are unethical, impractical or unfeasible: it’s impossible to do a randomized controlled trial to test whether a new urban motorway improves people’s health by siphoning traffic out of town, for example. Often, researchers have to pragmatically assess a range of different evidence — surveys, natural experiments, observational studies and trials — and mosaic them together to give a picture of whether something is worthwhile. ‘You have to get on and do what we can with the best available evidence, then continue to evaluate what we’re doing,’ says [David Ogilvie, who works in the field at the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK]. However well scientists synthesize and package evidence, there’s of course no guarantee that it will be listened to or used. The pandemic has shown how hard it can be to change the minds of ideologically driven politicians and hardened vaccine sceptics or to beat back disinformation on Twitter.” • Or bureaucratic droplet goons, seemingly defeated by an aerosol thought collective that interacted constantly on Twitter, with the press, the public, and each other, all to good effect.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 49 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 12 at 12:06pm.

Health Care

“Embracing the science on airborne transmission is key to preventing new COVID-19 outbreaks” [Globe and Mail]. “COVID-19 contact tracing shows transmission follows the 80/20 rule – 80 per cent of future infections are spread by just 20 per cent of current cases. Super spreader events occur in closed, close, crowded places where aerosols can accumulate, and where individuals engage in vocal activities that generate a lot of aerosol: singing karaoke, shouting over the noise of machinery, breathing heavily during a workout. In many of these settings, the spark is an infectious individual who has no symptoms yet or has symptoms but dares not stay home from work. Current strategies to mitigate transmission in the community and in particular indoor workplaces fail to recognize these key epidemiologic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2. Community mitigation is modelled around hospital infection prevention and control principles, and heavily impacted by experts whose focus is on preventing transmission in healthcare. Hospital infection prevention and control teams feel confident in droplet precautions – emphasis on hand washing, surgical masks and face shields. But hospitals are not the same as workplaces and schools. Current workplace guidelines follow hospital principles. Continuous masking is not required if distancing is observed, and masks are removed in lunchrooms. The current approach is clearly inadequate based on the indoor workplace transmission we are witnessing. A transition to an airborne approach revolves around a simple and powerful concept: COVID spreads by breathing shared air, and infectious air accumulates indoors. Primary mitigation strategies shift from two metres distancing and handwashing to ventilation and high-quality masks.” • All health care workers and teachers, especially need to know this; and “essential workers,” too (remember them?).

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™

“Your Least Favorite Gross Viral Food Videos Are All Connected to This Guy” [Eater]. “These videos all tend to have a similar aesthetic. A beautiful woman in her 30s stands at a counter or a sink or a stove doing something unholy with eggs or a waffle maker or McDonalds hamburgers or, sometimes, a power drill. The videos typically jump from Facebook to TikTok before appearing without warning on Twitter and instantly becoming trending topics. “I’m proposing a ban on white women making TikTok videos of them cooking until we figure out what the hell is going on,” user @papermarkis wrote recently…. Lax and the women behind the recipe videos aren’t the first to figure out that people on the internet will watch you debase yourself with food. In fact, it was Korean users who first put a name to this kind of thing — mukbang, or “eating show.” mukbang videos range from harmless and wholesome to intentionally outrageous and grotesque, like the YouTuber who ate a live octopus on camera last year. mukbang has also long carried with it a connotation of being related to a fetish. Many of the most popular mukbang influencers are all thin, beautiful women who eat large quantities of, oftentimes, very messy food. One could argue that Rick Lax and this endless rabbit hole of gross food women have used Facebook’s algorithms to create a uniquely American mukbang.” • Word of the day: mukbang.

Sports Desk

“South Dakota pitcher’s prosthetic arm found at recycler” [Associated Press]. “[Augustana’s Parker Hanson] got a text Tuesday saying that his prosthetic had been recovered at Millennium Recycling Inc. in Sioux Falls, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. A worker at the plant found it among other items in the recycling facility and picked it out.” • The photo of the two plant workers is fasciinating: Their T-shirts read “Always Essential” (and you can get landfill sorting facilities never shut down. Fortunately, this one has high ceilings). It would be ironic if the “essential worker” tag, invented by PMC Schwärmer when they realized who fed them, and as quickly forgotten, led to some sort of class consciousness….

“All the Reasons Why It Has Never Been Harder to Be an MLB Hitter” [Bleacher Report]. “Unless MLB is going to reverse course and replace all of the new balls with balls from previous seasons, batted balls are likely to continue underperforming while pitchers keep filling up the zone with high-velocity, high-spin pitches. As for the defensive shift, it’s notable that MLB is already experimenting with regulating shifts at the minor league level in 2021. And frankly, it’s a good idea. Nonetheless, regulations on shifts are likely years, not months, away from being a reality at the major league level. Which is to say that hitters are going to have to keep doing the same thing and hope for better results, or perhaps make some changes so as to avoid all-time offensive infamy. It would make for a fascinating story if hitters moved en masse through Door No. 2, but don’t count on it. Because as rough as this year has been, it hasn’t exactly been a 1968-level disaster from either a home run or runs scored perspective. Between that and the reality that warmer weather will help balls carry, hitters have two good reasons to stick to stay the proverbial course. However, the 2021 season could lead to changes for the long run. If nothing else, it could further move the needle in favor of policing shifts. It could also convince MLB that more work is needed to bring the ball to an agreeable middle ground. For instance, there might at least be a way to make the current ball less conducive to spin. Until then, it’s about time everyone made peace with the likelihood that the 2021 season is going to be one for the books. Even if it’s one that hitters will never, ever want to revisit.” • ”Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring. Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls.” So, all of a piece.

News of the Wired

Gratitude changes your attitude?

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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 (DL):

DL: “Sedum from the wilds of the Bronx that.” I am a huge fan of this sort of garden feature; I suppose you’d call it a miniature landscape? There’s something about the combination of rocks, random accretions of plant matter, and humble, ground-hogging perennials that I find very destressing and soothing to the eye.

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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. Mme Generalist

    Re “UPDATED: Feds charge another CRO staffer with faking data in a GlaxoSmithKline pediatric asthma study”

    Happily it’s impossible that anything like this could have happened with the data on any of the new vaccines currently in circulation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, NC took a detailed look at how an article on the Pfizer vaccine handled its data (An Internal Medicine Doctor and His Peers Read the Pfizer Vaccine Study and See Red Flags [Updated], Further Discussion of the Red Flags in the Pfizer Vaccine Paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, and A Document Maven Looks at the Pfizer Vaccine Paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.

      So we are not unfamiliar with the sort of claim that you are studiously avoiding making. That’s why I said this is an indication of the sort of business we’re dealing with. That at least is a useful hermeneutic of suspicion.

      If what you are saying is that vaccine data is outright faked, as data was in the case linked to, then you should make that claim, because I’d be very interested in hearing (and a lot of people, for a long time, have had every incentive to produce it).

      1. Mme Generalist

        No, I’m not saying the vaccine data are outright faked. That was pure sarcasm. And as critical as I am of Pharma, the CDC, and, well, pretty much all concerned at this point, I really hope it turns out to be all good with the vaccines.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > No, I’m not saying the vaccine data are outright faked. That was pure sarcasm

          Then I’m not clear what the value-add of your comment was. It seems simply to be addressed to the air. Like a subtweet to a non-existent tweet.

      2. Code Name D

        It depends on the claim itself and who is making it. There appears to be disinformation on both side. For example, in Clinton land they insist that Pfizer is 100% effective, a claim that even Pfizer never made it is own white paper (which is suddenly Russian propaganda now.) While unlikely, it is possible to catch the virus and become an asymptomatic carrier. And there is no data regarding long-covid risks, even for the vaccinated. It’s largely the media that is making this claim. I wonder what will happen when the break-through cases start to accumulate? Or if the vaccine starts to wear off with the need for new boosters.

        Democrats are determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

        1. Mikel

          “Or if the vaccine starts to wear off with the need for new boosters….”

          WHEN the vaccine starts to wear off with the need for new boosters. Pharma execs, like one from Pfizer, have already been talking about them. Almost at the 6 month mark for the firt rounds of those vaccinated.

          And it would be wise to be cautious as they are still studying the troubling variant out of India. They have a lot to confirm about that situation -not just “be confident” about.

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        The problem with the vaccine data is not just that it might be culled and cultivated like a potted plant. The problem is the amount of money riding on the vaccine data and how that data is reported. Scientific method would seem to be most terribly tried. The problem is also the EUA and indemnity agreements the US Government gave noble Moderna and Pfizer. The problem is the miraculously rapid development of the mRNA vaccines while leaving unasked and unanswered why this unusual allowance is made now. If the seriousness and spread of a disease argues for Warp Speed … was polio less serious than Corona? Are mRNA vaccines somehow immune to the long-term problems that lead to the slow and expensive FDA approval processes? Were those approval processes guided by due caution or by other Market-based principles? Are mRNA vaccines really so much easier to develop at Warp Speed than conventional vaccines? I readily understand how they could cost more to develop end-to-end, although their greater stability in the logistics chains here and especially abroad leave many questions. The Chinese seem to have managed a conventional vaccine in but slightly more time than the mRNA vaccines. In other words was the development time the stage in the development cycle where time were saved or were it the elided cautionary time checking for long term effects — assuming caution rather than market entry barriers were the driver motivating the FDA approvals processes.

        [The recent few papers investigating the unhappy affects of the Corona spike proteins on vascular tissues make me glad to have the mRNA vaccines available — although the money driven controlled access to those vaccines is most troubling as Corona variants arise around the unvaccinated world. As a footnote I am seriously considering getting vaccinated, if only because of the way things have opened up around me, increasing the risks I perceive. I am also inclined to Hope that after a year serious long-term effects of the vaccines may have surfaced … and been reported. The long-term effects of the Corona flu seem as bad and far worse than anything I can imagine for the vaccines.]

        After the last few large-scale financial-fraud debacles followed by what appeared to me as little more than a few carefully selected show-trials — e.g. Madoff and Martha Stewart … as far as the GlaxoSmithKline pediatric asthma study and the charges brought … are we really expected to imagine there is some kind of prosecution of faked data, especially data faked by occult agency of Big Pharma?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > are we really expected to imagine there is some kind of prosecution of faked data, especially data faked by occult agency of Big Pharma?

          To answer your rhetorical question, what you are expected to do is back up your claims. Vague sarcasm and wrapping one’s self in the warm blanket of cynicism really is not helpful to anyone. And there’s a lot of that going around.

  2. a different chris

    > If the Biden Administration’s gamble with Trump’s vaccine pays off, I think Biden wins, if (a) the economy keeps up an (b) Biden doesn’t throw a cog. If Biden’s food taster slips up, and Harris runs against Trump, I think Trump would have a very solid shot.

    Trump’s vaccine? Give. Me. A. Break. ROTFLMAO. He basically got out of the way when he finally realized how badly he was out of his depth. I’m not giving him any credit for that as it took him longer than your average turnip to figure that out.

    Biden has a good chance of outliving Mr. Cheesburgers, btw. Not that living in a world that has either of them hanging around much longer is something that makes me happy.

    Finally, politically 2024 is a very very long way off. The economy won’t “keep up”, it will bounce around like a kid in one of those inflatable houses, as it isn’t stable anymore and won’t ever be again until we really face up to the implications of late-stage capitalism.

    Which exactly nobody who we’ve heard of yet, and maybe will never hear of, in our political world is capable of doing.

    Anyway, maybe you said that to be provocative. Because we all know that the world has gone totally wack and predicting next week, let alone 2024, is a complete waste of brain cells.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump’s vaccine? Give. Me. A. Break

      That’s how he’ll present it. Last I checked, the “executive power” was “vested” in him under Article II. If Trump gets the blame, so too he gets the credit. The call was his, and he made it.

      > predicting next week, let alone 2024

      It’s already started. Might as well join the fun!

      1. Only Meat

        I started telling friends last week to call it the Trump vaccine:
        a. it will please our friends and family Trumpers
        b. it will give credit where credit is due, and help to calm the PMC down

      2. John

        It is fun but only when there is absolutely nothing else to do. That has not happened for me yet.

        I long for the days when you had months, years without much foo-foo-raw about the next election.

      1. Mme Generalist

        What I thought, too, when I read the comment.

        Pfizer reported what it characterized as “strong, preliminary data” back in November of 2020, according to a STAT Special Report from 10 Nov. So roughly on election day. I don’t know what kind of space-time collapse provides us with a Biden vaccine according to that timetable.

    2. ahimsa

      Give credit, where credit is due..

      Operation Warp Speed Head Says Trump Administration Responsible For 90% Of Vaccine Rollout

      Fauci boss gives Trump administration credit on Operation Warp Speed

      The Truth about Trump’s Operation Warp Speed

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s madness. For a year, we didn’t even have a viable theory of transmission accepted by public health authorities. We can’t get the history right if it gives credit to the wrong guy. We’re triumphalist about success when there’s no guarantee that the virus won’t come roaring back.

        I know, “we.” We as zeitgeist participants, I suppose.

  3. griffen

    Its mid-May; where is the coverage of the schedule drop for the NFL? Apparently there exists zero off-season anymore!

    As for baseball I shed zero tears. Too many seasons of seeing the light hitting infielder suddenly bomb 25+ homers in a contract year.

    1. Wukchumni

      The national pastime has aged out with the average fan a few years away from getting their first SS check, and instead of the past few years of juiced balls allowing anybody to hit dingers-in theory attracting younger fans-only it didn’t work, this year they’re going for fans most likely to fall asleep watching a boring pitchers duel.

      On another note, I thought televised pro sports would be wildly popular perhaps in the midst of the pandemic as leagues opened up last year, but not really as the numbers were down in all sports, even with a bunch of captive shut ins you’d think were yearning for diversion.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The lure of professional sports is arguing about it. Its like the Team Blue fans who didn’t care about kids in cages during the Obama years or now. Griping about Trump was the appeal.

        And no fans in the stand is just kind of sad.

    2. Josef K

      Goose the ball. Raise the mound. Juice the bats. Juice the players. Tamp down the ball. Lower the mound. Drug-test the players. X-ray the bats……watch them continue to micromanage our erstwhile national pastime to an untimely death.

      1. John

        Anybody remember Preacher Roe with the Dodgers? He had a great spitball 20+ years after the spitball had been banned. Those were the days

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    ”Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring. Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls.”

    Controversial take alert. The problem is hitters, scouting reports, and pitch management are so good these days the rules don’t fit this game. I know it seems like pitchers have the edge, but I am really convinced the answer is to raise the mound to make ground ball pitchers more competitive. And it would encourage the hard throwing pitchers to throw more off speed stuff. Starters would love to pitch more off speed stuff as it would lengthen their careers, driving out the guys who just throw hard and have one good pitch and a decent enough one to run out for a 7th inning every other night .

    1. Josef K

      Maybe just return all specs to before they started trying to tweak this and that to make the game “better” by which they mean more entertaining…..to neophyte watchers, it would seem. IOW more racing to the bottom.

      Fastballers may be boring but I have enjoyed watching Ohtani throw 100mph+ smoke. I like his windup style and his release. I would not want to be trying to hit or even catch that stuff.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Longer comment in moderation but I agree – they need to get rid of most of the changes from recent years, including the instant replay. The only one I kind of like is the requirement that pitchers have to face at least three batters – managers were getting a little too cute with the lefty specialist relievers for several years.

        I like watching the fastballers too but they shouldn’t all be throwing heat. At this point, it’s almost assumed a pitcher is going to blow out their arm once or twice in their early twenties. If more pitchers would throw a sinker once in a while, batters would wise up and stop swinging for the fences all the time. And is there even one knuckleballer in baseball anymore? – I can’t think of one. Watching batters flail at a knuckler is almost as much fun as watching Ohtani blowing them away with the heat.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      The article missed the elephant in the room – analytics. In my opinion, it’s ruining baseball and basketball too for that matter.

      Some analytics genius figured out that if you hit a single, you only get to first base and may not score at all, but if you hit a home run, you definitely score, ergo, everyone should swing for the fences all the time. The incessant defensive shifts are annoying, but they would stop immediately if players would simply lay down a bunt once in a while. Instead, the analytics people have convinced everyone to go long. MLB complied with a juiced ball for a few years too and that perfect storm turned the game into a glorified home run derby.

      All of these recent tweaks to baseball have been done because of capitalist demands. They are trying to make a game with no set time limit fit inside a set TV slot. It needs to be exciting to get people watching, so it needs more offense, but more offense makes games longer not shorter. So now we start extra innings with a guy on second to speed things up, double headers are 7 innings each game instead of nine – anathema, if you ask me.

      I heard a couple sports radio jocks talking the other day about checking their phones on average 96 times per day according to their own phone data – about once every ten minutes during waking hours. A little later they are bemoaning baseball as an old person’s game that’s too long because who has even two hours to sit and watch a game these days? Well I do, and I want to watch baseball, not whatever this corporate massaged bastardized “product” is that is supposed to be America’s passtime. Is the problem really not enough time, or too many people addicted to their devices?

      My favorite games ever, better than even those I listened to as a kid, were the epic Red Sox/Yankees games from the early Aughts – seemingly every one a 4 1/2 marathon with plenty of animosity on both sides, players grinding it out even in midseason with not much in the line, not wanting to lose to their hated rivals.

      I challenge anyone who isn’t already a sportsball hater to read Updike’s paean to Ted Williams and not come away with a fondness for the game – Hub Fans Bid kid Adieu

      Here’s a taste of the end describing Williams’ final at bat, with no launch angle, exit velo, or other ridiculous and fairly meaningless analytic stats needed to describe the scene. I get choked up every time I read it, and I wasn’t even born until almost a decade after it happened –

      Fisher, after his unsettling wait, was wide with the first pitch. He put the second one over, and Williams swung mightily and missed. The crowd grunted, seeing that classic swing, so long and smooth and quick, exposed, naked in its failure. Fisher threw the third time, Williams swung again, and there it was. The ball climbed on a diagonal line into the vast volume of air over center field. From my angle, behind third base, the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was in the books while it was still in the sky. Brandt ran back to the deepest corner of the outfield grass; the ball descended beyond his reach and struck in the crotch where the bullpen met the wall, bounced chunkily, and, as far as I could see, vanished.

      Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs—hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn’t tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted “We want Ted” for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back. Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters.

    3. Leftcoastindie

      Baseball lowered the mound after the 1968 season because of Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA and Denny McLain winning 31 games as a pitcher. Made for fast games.

    4. Darthbobber

      They lowered the mound in the first place to give hitters a better chance against Gibson, Drysdale, Marichal, Koufax….

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The hitters would make up for it with the better scouting reports. They don’t need to go the whole ten inches, but they need to give the off speed pitches an edge. The pitchers across the board are throwing so hard that guys don’t even practice trying to put the ball into play. Increasing the competition and encouraging hitters to put guys on base is going to drive out many of the fireballers who 10 years ago who would have been head cases with a runner on.

        Ohtani is fun, but he’s the first among many as opposed to special, except for the whole batting aspect.

  5. a different chris

    >“Exclusive poll: Republicans favor Greene over Cheney”

    Nice poll. 2600 people, and I’ve gone thru three pages and still can’t figure out even how many of that 2600 people were “Republicans and Republican leaners”. And a surprising amount — oh wait, I can’t say amount because I can’t figure out what that amount was, or how a “leaner” is ascertained in a country where everybody is stampeding to the “independent” pasture — a surprising percentage of them don’t even know who MTG is.

    Or likely really know much of anything except there was a nice voice on the other end of their phone (boy the children never call, do they?) asking them questions and hey why not chat.

    Man I envy them, TBH.

  6. Flaming Telepath

    “If Biden’s food taster slips up, and Harris runs against Trump, I think Trump would have a very solid shot.”

    C’mon man. Trump landslide more like.

    1. Marilyn

      Trump is disgusting.

      I would vote for disgusting over a nauseating sex worker political operative like Harris however.

      She started her political career in the bed of a 60 year old married lothario power broker.

      She has never completed one job without moving onto the next opportunity.

      Now she’s about to top out and show her true incompetence.


      “In the mid-1990s, Harris had dated Brown, who was investigated by the FBI when he was speaker of the California Assembly and as mayor was dogged by conflict of interest, and she had benefited from his political patronage. As the speaker of the state Assembly, Brown had named Harris to well-paid posts on the California Medical Assistance Commission and Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. As mayor of San Francisco in 2003, Brown was supportive of her district attorney campaign although they were no longer dating. Critics—including her opponents—were bemoaning cronyism at City Hall. ”

      Imagine the Trump campaign ads highlighting her history.

    2. The Rev Kev

      They won’t let Trump run in 2024. Take a look at the massive establishment campaign to bring him down last year and even then, it was a near run thing. Without the pandemic, he would probably still be President today. He will be bogged down in accusations, legal disputes and whatever else can be thought of and he probably knows it. He might be thinking of being content to being the power behind the throne and using himself to disrupt Democratic campaigns in 2024 while the Republican candidate has a clearer run to power.

      1. fumo

        I don’t see how “they” stop him, if he is determined to run. A majority of the GOP electorate still stand as Trump supporters, he’s the leading candidate by a mile until and unless someone can win over a good portion of the Trump base.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          Aside from that, how is Trump running with the GOP establishment trying to stop him anything but a plus for him? He has as little love for them as they him. This gives him credibility as an outsider and, as you’re pointing out, he has the voters on his side. For someone who enjoys shaking up the ant farm as much as he does, a Trump and his supporters vs. the GOP establishment primary seems like a dream scenario.

          (I also have a hunch a lot of this establishment push back is all for show. If it gets closer to 2024 and Trump is their best bet, see how many of them swallow hard and get behind him.)

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Without the pandemic, he would probably still be President today

        There’s no question in my mind on that. Which says a lot about the state of the Democrats (and even more about the state of the left, since the liberal Democrats absolutely dominated them).

  7. JTMcPhee

    On that jailhouse letter link: sounds like what GIs call “stole valor.” And I call bullish!t on Politico repeating the lie that “five people died” implying as a direct result of and during the fun and games.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe what they should say is that four people died of natural causes and one unarmed, female rioter was shot to death at point blank range. It would be a bit more honest that.

  8. dcblogger

    Arabella’s nonprofits act as the left’s premier pass-through funders for professional activists. Big foundations—including the Gates, Buffett, and Ford Foundations—have laundered billions of dollars through this network, washing their identities from the dollars that go to push radical policies on America.

    radical policies in America? Or just a way of co-opting popular movements?

    1. JTMcPhee

      C’mon, man — everything and I mean EVERYthing is about commodifying ad monetizing. Co-opting is integral to the game.

  9. RockHard

    From the comment on Trump’s blog article:

    > If your politics depends on a platform, you don’t have a politics.

    Completely disagree. In that case, nobody has politics. I suppose you could argue that point cynically but I don’t think it matches reality.

    Taibbi, Greenwald, and others constantly go on about how mainstream TV shuts out fringe candidates like Tulsi Gabbard. I don’t see any candidate succeeding these days without Facebook and Twitter. The Twitter and Facebook bans are huge, politically. If Trump could manage to overcome that, THAT would be politically monumental, way bigger than defeating HRC in 2016.

    1. Phillip Allen

      If you don’t own and control the platform upon which you conduct politics, then that platform can be taken from you at the whim of the platform owner. In that sense one can quite accurately say that if your politics depends on a platform you don’t have a politics,. It’s the same as it is when Mr. Strether says (often, and correctly) if your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business.

      1. jsn

        And the straight we find ourselves in is one in which a few monopolists have essentially choked politics down to a bandwidth they can manage and benefit from.

        It’s this choking of public discourse that is causing “the language of the unheard” to be more frequently heard around the world, and here at home, though not covered in the monopolist’s media.

        So, yes “nobody has politics” except the monopolists right now and they’ve gotten essentially everything they ever wanted. But their choke hold is building a sufficient head of pressurized reality that real news is starting to spray through every pin hole.

  10. Wukchumni

    In the night of the not for long knaves, my Kevin* was instrumental in orchestrating all that jazz on Liz and pulled a Donald by shunning her into the scorned field, the puppet strings never far away no matter the distance.

    * He was my Kevin before he was your Kevin, herr Trump.

  11. Waesfjord

    > “Your Least Favorite Gross Viral Food Videos Are All Connected to This Guy” [Eater].

    Americans really are the most debased, greedy, vile, empty people in history.

  12. Celia Chazelle

    Is it possible that the increasing number of colleges and universities mandating vaccination against COVID for all students, faculty, and staff, before anyone can return in the fall, is a factor behind the uptick in vaccination rates? The college where I teach only made this decision last week. It will require proof of vaccination by the end of July and has hosted on-campus vaccination clinics to facilitate getting the shots before people leave for the summer. This might be happening more widely. In any event, I read that more than 200 colleges and universities now require vaccination for the fall semester.

  13. Ranger Rick

    I was all set to write about alarming food videos, but I think the key feature of this latest uproar is the idea that the algorithms can make someone famous overnight by redirecting people who would not ordinarily seek that content out. We’ve seen this made explicit with regards to TikTok videos before, but it would not at all be surprising if Youtube, Facebook and Twitter all do the same finger-on-the-scale tuning.

    That this latest trend is showing up on Facebook does spark a few conspiracy theories alternative explanations however. If they’re looking to reduce reliance on outrageous political and social issues to drive user engagement, they’re going to have to find a replacement somewhere else, in areas that are less likely to encourage violence.

  14. Carolinian

    Re the Cheney non-story–of course the Dems would never shaft one of their people for being off the reservation….just ask Bernie or Tulsi. Oh wait.

    Meanwhile Israel/Palestine threatening to break out into full scale armed hostilities.

    May need a new Cooler category for Media Noise Machine. Plenty of material. Of course the real news is what they don’t talk about–an ongoing theme for Taibbi and others.

  15. Mme Generalist

    Re On the Epistemological Similarities of Market Liberalism and Standpoint Theory

    So intersectionality is neoliberalism in a rainbow T-shirt?

    This has been Adolph Reed’s position since at least 2015.

  16. hemeantwell

    epistemological assumptions of market liberalism and standpoint theory and argue that they have more in common than previously thought.

    Whoa now. I’m reading Joseph Vogl’s The Spectre of Capital and his take on market liberalism’s epistemology, which I think accords with Yves’ take on the DGSE delusion in Econned, is that it doubles down on the possibility of free information flow and builds total market transparency into its absurdly unattainable model. That seems a bit in tension with standpoint theory.

    Vogl’s good, but his restrained polemical accentuation of the absurdities of the ideology of unbound finance leaves me feeling like I’ve had a dinner of air.

  17. polar donkey

    This may qualify under supply chain problems or collapsing empire. The Interstate 40 bridge across the Mississippi River at Memphis has been closed indefinitely. A support beam cracked and fears of a bridge collapse. All traffic is diverted to the I-55 bridge. Barge traffic under the bridge is also closed.
    TV new story

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The photos at your link are amazing. There’s the crack, right there…

      So, there won’t be any Mississippi barge traffic… indefinitely? I would imagine some phone calls are being made to the Arkansas and Tennessee governors….

    1. Michael Ismoe

      If she loses the Republican nomination, she can always run as a Democrat. Nancy would welcome her and AOC would fundraise for her.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    Rushing to Judgment on Scott Stringer. By Katha Pollitt, who previously wanted to bear Biden’s baby and is now skeptical that crazy talk is a good way to address a complicated situation. Quelle surprise!

    From the middle. Ritual humiliation! That’ll do it every time! To quote:
    I [Katha Pollitt] asked my City Council member, Helen Rosenthal, who a few days after Kim’s accusation tweeted about her own run-ins with Stringer (“a well-oiled machine” “crude vengeful actions”).

    “He should have said, ‘I believe Jean Kim, although I don’t remember it the same way. I want to meet with her, pay for her therapy, have her be part of my sexual assault task force.’ Alternatively,” Rosenthal added, “he could have said, ‘I’ve repressed it, I’m horrified, I’m deeply ashamed.’”

    Some problems here: Rosenthal is too clever by half, which is more than common among U.S. politicians these days. Second, the puritanism. Third, try substituting Monica Lewinsky for “Jean Kim” and think of Rosenthal’s reaction. Better yet, think of Rosenthal recommending to Hillary Clinton to have Bill pay reparations to Lewinsky.

    All in all, after the splatter theater that has been Fcbk and sexual allegations (for years), I am inclined to think that too many Americans–and, yes, this includes upper-middle-class American women–have no imagination for how to wield power in a society that is changing. (Need I write “Liz Cheney”?) So we keep seeing reruns of Grandpa Jedediah who ran the local hospital into the ground but donated a stained-window to First Presbyterian on First Street.

  19. NotThePilot

    Re “Labor Market”, my brain was finally able to make clear what my gut’s been telling me. I personally believe all of these predictions about the labor market normalizing are going to become another real swing-and-a-miss.

    (BTW, how do you get a job as an economic forecaster? At least the weather-people have a scientific framework & are usually right)

    I think the Republican angle that people are just sitting at home is goofy. Sure there are probably some, and 1/2 probably always vote Republican. But even if you discount that most people do care about their reputation & have a work ethic, I’m pretty sure most Americans (especially unemployed Americans) are smart and cynical enough not to expect the UI extensions to turn into the eternal dole.

    At the same time, while I’m sure you have more people still sitting out right now as caregivers or to avoid the ‘rona, I don’t think that’s the primary cause of things like the recent whiff on hiring. Like with so many other things, the pandemic seems to be accelerating existing trends.

    And what was probably the big trend in hiring that nobody in the media liked to talk about, even when employment was peaking in 2019? Companies don’t know how to hire anymore, pure & simple. As with financial engineering since the GFC, they’ve been coasting along, confident the system would just shovel inputs into their lap (whether that’s financial liquidity or desperate & insanely over-credentialed workers).

    The resulting habits and lack of accountability, particularly by the higher-ups, has now rendered them incapable of adapting. I mean, does anyone really expect that the average American company today can show self-awareness, recognize all the insane hurdles & biases in their organization (which they’re responsible for), plus all the mental shock the workforce has just been through, then rebuild from scratch?

    We’ll have a clearer picture by the end of the year, but I’m expecting a lot more anecdotes (studiously ignored by the media & economists) of job candidates still going through 3 interviews, only for one person in HR (who really just doesn’t like how they look or what school they went to) to veto them because they don’t have 5 years experience with QuunkBooks [sic] 2020. Another tell will be if you start hearing that moms who stayed home to help their kids with remote-learning are being penalized for the 2020-2021 work gap.

    1. lsn

      A capitalist class that has forgotten how to buy labor power (possibly through financialization?)*

      What a concept

      NOTE * You can actually see idpol solving this problem for elites; since by assumption all wotkers are interchangeable, tick the identity boxes

      1. NotThePilot

        I guess it’s one more example of that weird paradox about capitalism: it’s a diabolically clever system (at least as far as its ability to preserve & expand itself) built in no small part on individual decisions that are petty, sordid, and kind of stupid.

        I suppose that’s what the Marxist idea of periodic crises inevitably blowing up comes down to. And maybe that’s what I’m ultimately wondering, if we’re looking at a genuine labor crisis, only it appears to be something more manageable for now.

  20. Pat

    Regarding Scott Stringer, there are numerous reasons to reject him as mayor, mostly his record as a Democratic machine today. Hell, personally Politt defending him is enough of a stop sign. And perhaps that is what is saddest about this. No one cares about the real record, not the PR mailer record. Truth is that outside of name recognition with no clear idea of who the heck he is, this has actually provided Stringer with more traction than his campaign had managed.
    And while I am not saying that harassment accusations cannot be faked, they can, I have no problem saying that if the candidate has the approval of the Democratic machine not even decades of video of inappropriate touching will be enough “evidence”, see Biden. Only the outsiders get dented by these accusations. I will not be surprised as this becomes yet another hand waving it doesn’t matter about the past victory for an approved candidate.

  21. Pat

    Rise in vaccinations:
    Just a thought, might this be a last rush made up of people interested in getting vaccinated who just didn’t have the time or the desire to spend hours to get an appointment that just wouldn’t work with their schedule. After not being able to find an opening now there are numerous appointments and the ability to pick from among them.

    People like me, who are still reluctant for historical or health concern reasons will continue to wait it out. We will take a look at the new vaccines and eventually probably pick the least troubling one. Those absolutely opposed at some point will be all that is left just in time for the first vaccinated to need new shots.

  22. ambrit

    Yeah. The Dow closed down 681.5 today. That’s almost exactly down 2%. It dropped almost a percent yesterday. What’s the definition of a “market correction?” A drop of ten percent from a peak.
    What’s “funny” here is a putative “correction” in the stock market while raw materials are surging.

    1. Glen

      Don’t forget that the Dow is at best an indication of how rich people feel.

      Your lived experience has nothing to do with it.

    2. Roger

      Back to the 1970s stagflation, stocks in multiple bear markets, gold, silver and commodities way up. Then the Volcker shock of 1979, today such a shock would destroy the economy completely given the level of debt.

      1. ambrit

        Uh oh. The Volker Shock. It can be argued that the Volcker Shock was instituted to “save” the financial system, even if at the cost of the working class’s standard of living. So, I would not be surprised to see the same playbook touted today, and for the same reasons.
        Never underestimate stupidity, nor greed. Put the two together and….

    3. tegnost

      Yeah I hear someone said there’s a solid rumor that the min wage was going to be boosted to 7.51/hr and it was just “look out below”…

  23. pebird


    On the COVID charts, you stopped showing the deaths graph. Any particular reason?

  24. allan

    Ontological proof, crypto edition:

    Code Nomad_1x @Nomad_1x

    Replying to @elonmusk

    Why would you tweet this!!! bitcoin has now gone down and i have lost $104,000! i put my life savings into it thinking it would make me rich… crypto is a scam, im never buying bitcoin or anything again. THANKS ELON!

    6:14 PM · May 12, 2021·Twitter Web App

    Yes, there is a god, she is not libertarian, but she does have a dry sense of humor.

    1. allan

      LOL. Seven Days in May, assisted living facility edition.

      John `Iran-Contra [1]’ Poindexter is still alive?

      William `My God is Bigger Than His God [2]’ Boykin??

      [1] also too Total Information Awareness.

      [2] Sigmund Freud to the white courtesy phone.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Yeah, you’re right. The Deplorables won’t take this as validation that the election was stolen. After all, they are undereducated, big-mouths with only 90% of the guns in existence.

  25. fresno dan

    The Los Angeles County Fire Department planned to terminate the employment of two firefighters and suspend a third for allegedly taking graphic photos at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and sharing them with their wives and girlfriends, according to court documents filed this week.

    Bryant first filed the invasion of privacy lawsuit in state court in September, then moved it to federal court a month later, accusing county employees of having “shown off” photos of the remains of her husband and teenage daughter for no law enforcement purpose.
    In subsequent filings, Bryant’s legal team also said it learned by examining internal documents from the sheriff’s department and fire department that as many as 66 county employees had knowledge of the photos and at least 18, including the four named deputies, had either taken or shared the pictures directly.
    Nice to have lawyers to protect your privacy. Maybe everybody should be accorded the same consideration??? And the police are held as virtuous….

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘Jeet Heer
    1. The Liz Cheney speech is causing a lot of ripples but people aren’t paying attention to what she actually said (which is crucial for understanding why her brand of anti-Trump Republicanism is a political dead end): she’s calling for a new Cold War.’

    Jeet has an article talking about her speech and he is right, she literally wants to have a Cold War 2.0 and I guess that this is a case of where the apple does not fall far from the tree. Her dad’s idea was to occupy & steal the oil of the middle east to make the US the dominant hegemony in the 21st century. His daughter, recognizing that this is no longer an option, wants to go head to head with Russia & China to try to have the US keep primacy in the 21st century-


  27. Mikel

    There was a story in NC this week about some in the military (some signatories anonymous, some not)in France being involved a the letter about their government betraying them.

    Now I see this:
    “Over 120 retired generals and admirals signed on to a letter falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen in a move other veterans say erodes democratic norms.”

    “Over 120 retired U.S. generals and admirals published a disturbing open letter earlier this week pushing the false conspiracy theory that President Joe Biden stole the election while arguing that he might be mentally unfit for office.”


    1. Yves Smith

      Another reader sent the letter proper which I am putting in Links. Quite the read. Starts with hating on “Socialists and Marxists”.

      1. Paradan

        Kinda ironic to have a bunch Generals, whose entire careers and retirement have been funded by the state complain about socialism.

        1. Count Zero

          I can’t see any irony at all — unless you subscribe to the extreme libertarian/ anarchist notion that all states are somehow “socialist” and/or that socialism is just any state running anything.

  28. Darthbobber

    Yeah, that’s quite the list of out-to-pasture Republicans prepping their to be revealed 13 principles (to steal from Clemenceau “God almighty only had 10!”)

    The once most-prominent of them could be charitably described as former Welterweights. The remainder not even that.

    I feel reasonably confident that this all goes nowhere at all, and recedes from the consciousness of even those presently contriving to find it meaningful within a couple of weeks.

  29. VietnamVet

    Coronavirus is endemic in the Americas. As long as this is the case, you risk catching COVID-19 if you go out in public. No one can stay a recluse forever. For those who don’t have an adverse reaction to the vaccinations, mRNA treatment reduces the severity of the infection and transmission. I bet the rise in vaccinations are due to second thoughts and teenage kids beginning to get jabs for school and family.

    The establishment’s expectation is that the vaccines will produce herd immunity. This is impossible if 1) the fully vaccinated are infected by new variants, 2) the decline in immunity over time, and 3) easy asymptomatic transmission with the end of masking and social distancing. The vaccinated R0 value (contagiousness) is a known unknown. If above 1 the elderly and patients with severe comorbidities will die off – even if vaccinated. Additional long-COVID patients will be left to suffer on their own, deep in debt.

    Astonishingly there is absolutely no discussion of the use of the vaccines in a comprehensive national public health campaign to eliminate coronavirus this year. In the Americas, Europe and South Asia, there is no universal testing or contact tracing, let alone free safe quarantines. Public Health officials in the USA have no idea who have been infected and thus are immune to current variants and don’t need a jab. Making money is more important than the public’s health.

    The Texas freeze, the DarkSide Hack, January 6th, Boeing’s woes, Afghanistan withdrawal, the crack in I-40 Memphis Bridge, and the auto assembly shutdown due the lack of computer chips are all writs nailed to the gates of a fallen empire.

    China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Iceland, Australia and New Zealand are in an untenable confrontation. To remain viable civilized nations they must isolate from the rest of the world and control outbreaks within their borders until the pandemic dies down in four to six years. The isolation could be for thousands of years with the death of enlightenment, the rule of law and democracy in corporate run West — a collapse into a New Dark Age.

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