2:00PM Water Cooler 5/27/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day~

There is music in the background (from Myanmar). I don’t know whether the crow is singing along or not!

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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:

Whoopsie. Odd how the curves fluctuate together for the last month or so; apparently social, political, regional, cultural distinctions don’t show up in the aggregates. It’s as if the issue has been nationalized.

Case count by United States regions:


Continued good news. I added a crude extrapolation (in yellow). If things go on as they are, we should have zero cases in under 28 days. Of course, that won’t happen. But the downward slope of the case count since mid-May has been pretty majestic.

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

More good news.

DIVOC-91 no longer updates hospitalization and death so I went and found some substitutes; neither provide regional data.

Hospitalization (CDC):

More good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

More good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

I think it makes more sense to look at all regions rather than individual countries (even if we know, for example, that WHO’s Southeast Asia is mostly India by sheer weight of numbers, even though many individual countries are having issues). And why is Africa such an enormous outlier? Readers?

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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 Administration Defends Huge Alaska Oil Drilling Project” [New York Times]. “The Biden administration is defending a huge Trump-era oil and gas project in the North Slope of Alaska designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years, despite President Biden’s pledge to pivot the country away from fossil fuels…. The Biden administration is defending a huge Trump-era oil and gas project in the North Slope of Alaska designed to produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day for the next 30 years, despite President Biden’s pledge to pivot the country away from fossil fuels…. On Wednesday, the administration filed a brief in U.S. District Court for Alaska, defending the Trump administration decision to greenlight the Willow project. xIn a statement, the Interior Department said that the Trump administration decision complied with the environmental rules in place at the time and that the plaintiffs did not challenge the approval ‘within the time limitations associated with environmental review projects’ for the National Petroleum Reserve.” • I wish we could consign the phrase “the Trump Era” to the dustbin of history. If we factor out aesthetics, don’t we see more continuities than differences? Exactly as with Bush and Obama?

UPDATE “Senate tests willingness to preserve filibuster with China, Jan. 6 commission votes” [NBC]. “The Senate has been mulling the future of the filibuster for months, but votes Thursday could finally push that discussion from the theoretical to the practical, and proponents of nuking the 60-vote threshold believe it could fuel their cause. Two major pieces of legislation before the Senate could be blocked this week by Republicans, the first time the filibuster has been invoked since Democrats took control of the Senate in January. The Senate has been working on the bipartisan U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, a bill to address competitiveness with China, for the past two weeks. But some late-stage opposition by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., could rally Republicans to block the bill. The Senate is scheduled to hold a series of votes Thursday on the China bill. Depending on the outcome, it could vote afterward on the Jan. 6 commission. The China legislation impasse comes as Democrats are also being stymied by Republicans on the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, potentially setting up the first two filibusters of the current session. The confluence of the two issues comes at a critical time, when bipartisan negotiations are ongoing on a variety of issues, including infrastructure, policing reform, gun control and immigration. Senators and aides say the action on the Senate floor this week could determine if bipartisanship on those issues is possible.”

UPDATE “Broad Coalition of Democrats Presses Biden to Expand Medicare” [New York Times]. “More than 150 House Democrats — including Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the leader of the progressive wing in the House, and Representative Jared Golden of Maine, one of the chamber’s most centrist Democrats — have teamed up on the effort, which is all but certain to draw Republican opposition but contains proposals that are popular with a wide segment of voters. Disappointed that Mr. Biden has yet to act on a campaign promise to expand Medicare benefits, members of the group, who together represent nearly 70 percent of House Democrats, have signed on to a letter that kicks off their pressure campaign. Organizers say it will include opinion pieces and press events. Representatives Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania and Joe Neguse of Colorado are also leading the push.” • Amazing that the liberal Democrats managed to hold off #MedicareForAll in the midst of a pandemic. Stellar work by the leadership.

“Senate Republicans make new infrastructure offer as House Democrats urge Biden to dig in” [WaPo]. “As it haggles with the GOP, the White House also faced new political demands from lawmakers from its own party on Thursday. More than 200 House Democrats banded together to issue a new warning as part of the contentious debate over infrastructure spending: Include strong union and labor protections, or possibly risk losing some of their support. In their letter, House Democrats stressed that Congress must couple any new federal loans, grants or tax benefits to improve the country’s infrastructure with a series of policy mandates to help workers. The companies that stand to profit from this potential influx of government aid must make it easy for employees to unionize, pay them prevailing wages, take action to prevent wage theft and train workers through apprenticeship programs for future positions, the lawmakers said. House Democrats also registered particular concern with the emerging clean-energy industry, which could see billions of dollars in tax benefits and other fresh federal investment under Biden’s blueprint, known as the American Jobs Plan. In the lawmakers’ estimation, the industry already suffers from some of the worst worker protections across the U.S. economy….” • That’s not a bug. It’s a feature. “… mwhich they hope to remedy as part of an infrastructure overhaul. ‘Whether it is through grants, loans, state revolving loan funds, bonds, or tax incentives, the primary condition of receiving the taxpayers’ money must be compliance with strong labor standards,’ the Democrats wrote. Three top party lawmakers — reflecting the full political spectrum among Democratic ranks — organized the effort: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), leader of the Progressive Caucus; Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), co-chair of the fiscally minded Blue Dog Coalition; and Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who chairs a key clean-energy task force with the moderate-leaning New Democrat Coalition.” • As above, Biden has moved to the right of even moderate Democrats, and that’s saying something. Does anybody other than like 300 people in the Beltway care about bipartisanship? All this crapping around is preventing money from getting into voter’s hands before the mid-terms, ffs. The Democrats are acting like they’ve got all the time in the world, and they don’t.

UPDATE “‘Enough’: Biden calls for action on guns in wake of San Jose shooting” [CNN]. • Oh, please. “Enough” is a favorite liberal Democrat trope, and it never goes anywhere, just like “This. Style. Of. Tweeting” and “This 👏 Style 👏 Of 👏 Tweeting” never go anywhere, either. It’s all just finger-wagging.

Democrats en Deshabille

What is even going on:

Republican Funhouse

“Trump is starting to put together his own Contract with America. And he’s teaming up with Newt.” [Politico]. “With an eye toward winning back the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, former President Donald Trump has begun crafting a policy agenda outlining a MAGA doctrine for the party. His template is the 1994 ‘Contract with America,’ a legislative agenda released ahead of the midterm elections in the middle of President Bill Clinton’s first term. And, as a cherry on top, he’s teaming up with its main architect — Gingrich — to do it. In recent weeks, Trump sat down with the former House speaker as well as his former chief of staff Mark Meadows and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at his private Mar-a-Lago club to begin crafting the document, according to a source familiar with the meeting. The group is still just beginning to hammer out the details of what a Trumpified Contract might look like. But it is likely to take an ‘America-First’ policy approach on everything from trade to immigration. The source described it as “a policy priority for 2022 and beyond.”

UPDATE “GOP frets behind the scenes over potential Trump 2024 bid” [Politico]. “Trump is confiding in allies that he intends to run again in 2024 with one contingency: that he still has a good bill of health, according to two sources close to the former president…. he may face skepticism from surprising corners of the GOP, as some Republicans who supported him consistently during his presidency have mixed opinions about the possibility of a Trump 2024 campaign, according to interviews with 20 Republicans in both the House and Senate. ‘President Trump did a lot of good. But he squandered a lot of his legacy after what happened after Nov. 3. And I think that’s a shame,’ said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who was the GOP whip for Trump’s first two years in office. ‘Running for president, you’re under a lot of scrutiny. And all I can say is there’s a lot to talk about.’… There’s no shortage of possibilities who could carry a Trumpian mantle to the nomination in 2024: In the Senate, there are Floridians Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, Texan Ted Cruz, Missouri’s Josh Hawley or South Carolina’s Tim Scott. GOP governors from Ron DeSantis in Florida to Kristi Noem in South Dakota are also on everyone’s radar. Then there’s former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley or even Trump’s embattled House acolyte, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. Of course, some conservatives argue that if 2024 candidates are going to just replicate his platform, why not go with the man himself? Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of Trump’s fiercest allies, said: ‘I’m for Trump, period. I don’t care who else is running.’ ‘Why have a carbon copy?’ said Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.). ‘Why would we not support the original?'” • But who better to own the libs than Trump?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How To Sabotage The Pro-Palestine Movement” [Caitlin Johnstone]. “The absolute worst thing you can do to shut down a populist protest movement is push back against it. Unless you’re willing to alienate all your allies and lose the narrative war on the world stage by mowing down protesters with machine guns and throwing online dissidents into prison, opposing them will only create more resistance from them and give the protest movements more energy. … That’s why the establishment didn’t meet the Black Lives Matter protesters with opposition, but with “We hear you, we support you.” If they’d said “Silence you filthy riff raff and obey the police!” as many of them doubtless wanted to, it would have only showed people that the system is indeed unjust and their protests must continue with greater force…. This validate-and-divert tactic is what the leaders of American corporate liberalism specialize in. It’s also the tactic caregivers are taught to employ in dementia care facilities. If you’ve got an agitated resident demanding to leave such a facility, the worst thing you can do is tell them no, because it will trigger a catastrophic response. What you do instead is validate their demand, assure them you’ll help them, then distract them with conversation until they forget what they were demanding a few minutes earlier.” • And it works. Brilliant.

“Voter ID Restrictions Don’t Suppress the Vote, Shows A New Harvard Study” [Zaid Jilani, Inquire]. “For years, as Republicans have installed voter ID requirements in state after state, Democrats have protested that these laws suppress the votes of low-income, minority, and young voters, all constituencies that they believe can help them win elections. The GOP has countered that it needs these laws in order to prevent widespread fraud that could corrupt the electoral process. But what if both sides are wrong? That’s the conclusion of a new study that is forthcoming at Harvard’s Quarterly Journal of Economics. Researchers Enrico Cantoni and Vincent Pons looked at various ID laws implemented between 2008 and 2016, finding that they had ‘no significant negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any subgroup defined by age, gender, race, or party affiliation. These results hold through a large number of specifications and robustness checks.’ Despite the Democrats’ stated worries that these laws reduce minority turnout, the researchers found that ‘given the complaints of selective disenfranchisement, strict ID requirements do not decrease the participation of ethnic minorities relative to whites.’ What about partisan outcomes? The voter ID laws ‘do not affect the relative vote share of Democratic and Republican candidates either.’ Pons suggests that party mobilization may have offset any impact on voter participation by minorities — as these laws were passed, the likelihood of voter contact by campaigns actually went up…. But if you’re a conservative who thinks that voter ID is essential to stopping fraud, don’t get too excited. The researchers found that strict ID laws had no discernible impact on voter fraud.” • Hilarity ensues… n

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “22 May 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improvement Continues” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 425 K to 475 K (consensus 450 K), and the Department of Labor reported 406,000 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 504,750 (reported last week as 504,750) to 458,750.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index dropped to 32 in May 2021, from the previous month’s all-time high of 40, suggesting Tenth District manufacturing activity continued to expand at a strong pace. Output growth was driven higher by increased activity at durable goods plants, especially for primary and fabricated metals, machinery, furniture, and transportation equipment manufacturing. Also, new orders rose at a faster pace and expectations for future activity remained solid. A majority of firms reported plans to increase wages in 2021, partially in response to difficulties attracting qualified job applicants.” • The magic of the marketplace!

Durable Goods: “Headline Durable Goods New Orders Slowed In April 2021” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say the durable goods new orders declined. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved. The data this month was below expectations – and, the previous months were revised due to the annual data revision. In the adjusted data, the decline was due to defence capital goods.”

GDP: “Second Estimate 1Q2021 GDP Growth Unchanged At 6.4%” [Econintersect]. “The second estimate of first-quarter 2021 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remained at 6.4 % from the advance estimate’s 6.4%…. I am not a fan of the quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but year-over-year growth is now in positive territory as it is being compared to the beginning of the recession.”

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Retail: “As masks fall out of fashion, Etsy sellers ask themselves, ‘now what?'” [CNN]. “Henriquez, 27, who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said orders to her Etsy store LittleLadyAHomemade for her handmade masks plunged more than 70% the day after the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention announcement on May 13. The agency said that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances. ‘The market just dropped,’ she said. ‘I had a phenomenal last year in sales. Now what? Where do we go from here?'” • Really interesting article on the business of small-scale sewing manufacture.

Tech: “Raspberry Pi: After launching five devices in less than a year, here’s what they’re doing next” [ZDNet]. “For Raspberry Pi, the passage of time over the past year has been marked by the launches of a series of new products…. Demand for its tiny computers soared due to the overnight switch to home working. On top of that, after the launch of Raspberry Pi’s High Quality Camera in April 2020, the company went on to launch the 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 one month later. This would be followed by the Compute Module 4, the Raspberry Pi 400, and most recently, the $4 Raspberry Pi Pico in January this year…. When you consider the impact COVID-19 has had on supply chains and production lines throughout the world, that the Raspberry Pi team found the energy and resources to deliver five new devices seems like a pretty remarkable accomplishment. And while 2021 will see a change in emphasis, Raspberry Pi has big plans for this year, too.” And here is an amazing true fact: “As the coronavirus pandemic began to build around the world, one of the more foreboding signs that [Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi creator and co-founder], and his team were in for a difficult year came when they began finding face masks packed in with boxes of components sent by suppliers. ‘We were actually getting sent masks by our Chinese suppliers as gifts,’ says Upton. ‘They were like, ‘Hey, you guys are going to have a bit of trouble in the next few weeks, you’ll need these.”” • Here’s the link to the camera, which has interchangeable lenses (!!), and interchangeable lenses, although sadly only an 8MB sensor. Looks like fun, though.

The Bezzle:

No smelly proles!

The Bezzle:

But Chu’s theory true? Are the VCs really pulling out? And would they do so without completing, through Uber, the projects that benefit their class as a whole? That is, (a) destroying public transportation and (b) creating a new relation between workers and capital where workers have been less rights than before? (E.g., Proposition 22.)

Manufacturing: “Boeing to Pay $17 Million to Settle FAA Enforcement Cases” [Bloomberg]. Boeing Co. has agreed to pay at least $17 million to settle a pair of enforcement cases related to the installation of unapproved equipment on hundreds of 737 aircraft. The cases, which had been announced in 2019 and 2020, involve installing so-called Head-up Guidance Systems and devices on the wing that didn’t comply with federal standards…. There were some signs of progress in April. Boeing delivered nine 787 Dreamliners, the highest monthly total for the carbon-fiber, wide-body aircraft in more than a year. The planemaker has about 100 of the planes in inventory after halting production for five months to inspect and repair small structural defects.” • Well, as long as they don’t start catching on fire again, I suppose….

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 35 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 27 at 12:07pm. Ritholtz:


I can’t imagine anybody making decisions based “solely” on anything, but then I don’t play the ponies. Regardless of what the Greed and Fear Index may mean, at least its consistent. It’s not trying to sell you its book.

Health Care

“How Covaxin became a victim of vaccine triumphalism” [Mint]. “Poor transparency and mismanagement have plagued the development of the [Covaxin] vaccine– touted by the government as India’s first fully indigenous Covid vaccine—since it commenced last May. The biggest example of this was Bharat Biotech’s application for regulatory approval for Covaxin in December 2020, even though it had no efficacy data—evidence that the vaccine prevented disease. A month later, when participants at the biggest site of a Covaxin clinical trial, a hospital in Bhopal, complained of mistreatment, the firm dismissed the complaints as baseless. And now, even though Anvisa’s observations have cast a shadow on the vaccine’s quality, Bharat Biotech has done little to clear the air. At the same time, four months after the vaccine was approved by the DCGI for use in India, the firm is yet to publish its efficacy data…. Ironically, many believe that the hastened approval of Covaxin hurt the reputation of the Make-in-India campaign, instead of bolstering it…. The biggest tragedy, however, is that the hurried development could have triggered vaccine hesitancy among Indians during a once-in-a-century pandemic. And despite the problems with its development and manufacture, Covaxin has the intrinsic potential to be effective, says Satyajit Rath, an immunologist who retired as faculty of New Delhi’s National Institute of Immunology. ‘Covaxin is likely to provide reasonable protection against Covid, at least in the short run. But there is no doubt that this project was handled poorly.'”

I thought I was the only one who believed this:

Amplifying: If Trump had said, in February 2020, that “Covid is airborne, wear a mask,” the liberal Democrats would have gone absolutely nuts and framed the issue as they did with hydrochloroquinine (debatable and worth a shot, with liberals openly rooting for it to fail) or the bleach debacle (fabricated). And they would have had the droplet goons at CDC and WHO on their side, and aerosol transmission would still be fringe, even today (and a suitable topic for SNL sketches and Andy Borowitz columns). So, for whatever reason, Trump ended up doing us all a favor. (Alternatively, Trump could also have called up WHO or CDC, who would have told him XI was lying.)

“Had COVID? You’ll probably make antibodies for a lifetime” [Nature]. I linked to the original study for this; here is Nature’s explication: “People who recover from mild COVID-19 have bone-marrow cells that can churn out antibodies for decades, though viral variants could dampen some of the protection they offer.” But the final paragraph: “[T]he persistence of antibody production, whether elicited by vaccination or infection, does not ensure long-lasting immunity to COVID-19. The ability of some emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants to blunt the protective effects of antibodies means that additional immunizations may be needed to restore levels, says [Ali Ellebedy, a B-cell immunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri]. ‘My presumption is we will need a booster.'”

The Biosphere

“The Most Colossal Planning Failure in Human History” [Richard Heisenberg, Post-Carbon Institute]. “A couple of days ago I happened to pick up an old book gathering dust on one of my office shelves—Palmer Putnam’s Energy in the Future, published in 1953. Here was a time capsule of energy concerns from nearly a lifetime ago—and it got me to thinking along the lines of Howard Baker’s famous question during the Watergate hearings: ‘What did [w]e know, and when did [w]e know it?’ That is, what did we know back then about the climate and energy conundrum that threatens to undermine civilization today?… n a section at the very end of the book, titled, “The Combustion of Fossil Fuels, the Climate and Sea Level,” Putnam wrote, “Perhaps such a derangement of the CO2 cycle would lead to an increased CO2 content of the atmosphere great enough to affect the climate and cause a further rise of sea level. We do not know this. We ought to know it.” Now we know, and it turns out that a lot more than just a hike in sea level is in the offing. But we still haven’t done much to change the worrisome trend of soaring greenhouse gas emissions…. Here’s the essence of our planning failure: we have built up civilization to a scale that can temporarily be supported by finite and polluting energy sources, and we have simply assumed that this scale of activity can continue to be supported by other energy sources that haven’t yet been developed or substantially deployed. Further, we have incorporated limitless growth into the requirements for civilization’s success and maintenance—despite the overwhelming likelihood that growth can occur for only a historically brief interval. Failing to plan is often the equivalent of planning to fail…. Without planning, this is what will most likely happen: we’ll fail to produce enough renewable energy to power society at the level at which we want it to operate. So, we’ll continue to get most of our energy from fossil fuels—until we can’t, due to depletion. Then, as the economy crashes and the planet heats, the full impacts of our planning failure will finally hit home. It may already be too late to avert that scenario. But let’s assume there is indeed enough time, and that we suddenly get serious about planning. What should we do?” • Obviously, we should build the rich escape capsules to Mars and bunkers in New Zealand. That’s not planning? What’s wrong with this guy?

“Wolves Get Credit for 24% Drop in Deer-Auto Collisions” [Insurance Journal]. “Ecologist Rolf Peterson remembers driving remote stretches of road in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and seeing areas strewn with deer carcasses. But that changed after gray wolves arrived in the region from Canada and Minnesota. ‘When wolves moved in during the 1990s and 2000s, the deer-vehicle collisions went way down,’ said the Michigan Tech researcher. Recently, another team of scientists has gathered data about road collisions and wolf movements in Wisconsin to quantify how the arrival wolves there affected the frequency of deer-auto collisions. They found it created what scientists call ‘a landscape of fear.’ In a pretty short period of time, once wolves colonize a county, deer vehicle collisions go down about 24%,’ said Dominic Parker, a natural resources economist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and co-author of their new study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Both thinning of the deer population by wolves and behavior changes in fearful deer are factors in the drop-off, Parker said.” • A landscape of fear…. Game of Thrones, the book series, creates such a landscape very well, although the predators are human.

“Leverkusen” [Otherwise]. “Plastic objects can pull us into a vortex of time. Cheap to manufacture, these are mass-produced things often made to meet the most fleeting of human needs. And yet they endure far beyond those moments, quietly attesting, if you stop to pay heed, to the bygone presence of someone’s hunger, thirst, or fancy. They represent, in this way, some of the most important fossils of our time, our civilization of consumers and the detritus they will leave for future denizens of this earth to ponder. Think too about the material from which these things are made, the hydrocarbon chains that owe their substance to the remains of living creatures from eons ago. The mystery only deepens. Peer long enough into the hard plastic shell of anything on a convenience store shelf, and you might find yourself in a dizzying whirlpool of time and change. That afternoon, what Pam had fished from the water of the Ionian Sea was a peculiar green fragment, shaped almost like a hook or lever. Two words were stamped onto the mottled surface of the plastic relic: the word “Bayer” in an artful cursive, and just below that, the name of an industrial town in western Germany, Leverkusen. It was a piece of an aspirin dispenser from the 1960s, manufactured half a century ago. Even more stunning was the fact that I had just come to Greece from Germany, from a visit to that town where Bayer was headquartered. I’d gone to Leverkusen on the invitation of a senior executive at Covestro AG, the plastics manufacturing division that Bayer had spun off as a separate company in 2015….” • This is an interesting essay, not really excerptable. Worth a read!

Class Warfare

The Alabama mineworker’s strike:

(Kim Kelly is Teen Vogue’s labor reporter.)

“A Recruiter Dishes on Why Restaurants Really Can’t Find Enough Staff” [Washingtonian]. “To what degree are you seeing people leave the industry altogether? How widespread is that? Anecdotally, I would guess it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 percent. I think a lot of the cooks maybe went into construction or other industries that continued through the pandemic. And, you know, those industries pay $25, $30 an hour, and it’s Monday through Friday, and if you work on the weekends, you get overtime. So it’s going to be very difficult for the industry to bring those people back for $18, $20 line cook positions. Once we get back into the fall, things will maybe get a little bit better as schools reopen. Because childcare is an issue. I called this really great chef who we placed in the past for a really great job, and he said, ‘Thank you so much, but my wife works full time, I’m homeschooling two kids, and our mother-in-law, who usually is our backup plan, is recuperating from chemotherapy. I just can’t do it right now.’ I had an ace pastry chef, she had a Masters degree, and decided to go and pursue that. I think a lot of people are reconsidering what they want to do and if they want to continue in the restaurant industry.”

“Florida May Lose Some of Its Boomer Shine” [Bloomberg]. “From an economic developer’s point of view, making a big bet on retirement communities 20 years ago made a lot of sense. The Baby Boomer generation was set to be the largest and wealthiest generation of retirees in human history. There are well-worn migration patterns from north to south filled with ways for retirees to spend their investment portfolios, pensions and Social Security incomes. Just as the technology industry found benefits from clustering in San Francisco, and the media industry from clustering in New York and Los Angeles, so the “retirement industry” concentrated in the warm and sunny states of Florida and Arizona. But retirement communities, by definition, are full of people who aren’t working anymore, and so depend on the labor of others. They require construction workers to build homes, healthcare workers to take care of an older population, landscapers to maintain subdivisions and golf courses, and restaurant and other types of service workers to operate the amenities that make their communities desirable places to live. There’s been no reason to think in the last couple of decades that we’d have a shortage of those types of workers, thanks to the loose labor markets following the recessions in 2001 and 2008, and to ample amounts of immigration in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Today it’s a different story. And that’s a problem for communities that have bet their futures on importing retirees. When we think about fast-growing metro areas in the U.S., we might picture Austin, Texas, or Boise, Idaho, which have been popular destinations for people leaving the West Coast in search of cheaper housing. But the two fastest-growing metro areas in the 2010’s were actually Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the Villages — both places favored by retirees. The question now is how they’re going to sustain their growth in an era where labor isn’t so cheap, and where retirees aren’t necessarily the groups of people best-positioned to win bidding wars for service workers.”

“1 big thing: The state of the world, according to me” [Axios]. “I believe our country is in trouble. And it’s not about a loss of morality or religion or liberals or conservatives or the current president or the last president. It’s about a fundamental problem we have as a nation — a reckless imbalance of wealth. This is not a philosophical matter of doing what’s “right.” It’s a practical matter of doing what’s necessary to uphold and maintain a consumption-based economy…. We’re living in a world now where the wealthy have so much money they literally don’t know what to do with it…. Those who aren’t asset holders haven’t even benefited from the risk-asset inflation that’s accompanied housing, medical and education price inflation for the past decade because wage inflation hasn’t even come close…. A consumer economy simply can’t function when the consumers are too poor to consume and the wealthy don’t want to.”

“Guilty Parties: Two entrepreneurs have built a business dredging up white women’s shame” [New York Magazine]. “Begun in 2019 by Regina Jackson and Saira Rao, Race2Dinner gathers groups of eight white women at the home of a white host, where Jackson and Rao facilitate a discussion about race over dinner. When they first started out, they charged $2,500 per dinner, to be covered by the host or divided among her guests. ‘That’s peanuts,’ Jackson told me when we spoke over Zoom. ‘People pay more than that to go to a yoga conference.'” • I originally had this filed under “Black Injustice Tipping Point.” But I moved it.

“Doing the Work at Work What are companies desperate for diversity consultants actually buying?” [New York Magazine]. “An explosion of fortune in 2020 is one of the few universal things in the amorphous industry of diversity consulting — a space as varied as its constellation of interrelated acronyms and ampersands implies. DEI and DE&I “diversity, equity, and inclusion” are more common than D&I, but many refer to the cause as I&D or DEIB (the B is for “belonging”). Portrayed by the right wing as a single-minded cult, DEI is in reality a loose federation of adherents, with a host of methodologies, competing for money and attention. DEI practitioners share a worldview — that workplaces can become more humane and just — but they are also rivals in a for-profit industry of their own making, with the same incentives of salespeople and marketers everywhere. Corporate America spends roughly $8 billion annually on diversity, according to a figure that gets passed around routinely — though that rough estimate was first cited in 2003, which means the true profitability of the market is uncharted. Certainly, after Floyd’s murder, the business became astronomically larger than ever. But instead of an industry finally coming into focus, thanks to unprecedented funding and momentum, what composes DEI feels even more dizzyingly diffuse, and its true beneficiaries remain in question.”

“Economics and the study of race” [Vox EU]. “This column reports evidence that race-related research in economic journals constitutes a far lower share than in comparable publications in sociology and political science. What’s more, economists over-estimate the extent of race-related research done by the profession. Understanding why economists produce so little race-related research is essential if the discipline is going to be able to reform.” • Of course, considering the damage economists have done to other areas of human endeavor, perhaps we should count ourselves lucky.

News of the Wired

“READING: Mark Silk: Did John Adams Out Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings?” [Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality]. “In letters to his sons Charles and John Quincy in January of 1794, Adams points to the relationship between the sage of Monticello and the beautiful young woman known around the plantation as “Dashing Sally.” The references have escaped notice until now because Adams used a classical allusion whose significance historians and biographers have failed to appreciate. Adams’ letters offer tangible evidence that at least one of the country’s leading political families was aware of the Jefferson-Hemings relationship long before the scandal broke. The documents cast new light on the question of elite awareness of the relationship, on the nature of the press in the early republic, and on Adams himself.” • Well worth a read, and plenty of contemporary parallels.

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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 (HR):

HR writes: “Your request for spring flowers has disappeared so I may have missed the moment but this is the current view out from my kitchen sink in Devon. I really should have tidied up the fallen camellias but et ego in Arcadia….”

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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. diptherio

    Looks like the SEIU in California has it’s own strategy for doing an end run around Prop. 22…and I am not a fan.

    On its face, Assembly Bill 1319 is a very strange creature. The bill would create a “Federation of California Worker Cooperatives” that would not operate like any other co-op federation I have ever heard of. The member co-ops of this state-created federation would not be allowed to determine their own policies for hiring, firing, compensation, or any other fundamental business decision. These policies would all be set by the federation, and would be implemented in the individual co-ops by management employed by – and answerable to – the federation. Member co-ops would not be allowed to select or hire their own management.


      1. diptherio

        One bizarre thing about this bill is that absolutely no one in the worker co-op movement was talking about this until I ran across it in a random web search, and started asking questions on twitter about it. No one (apart from the few orgs SEIU brought in for feedback) even seemed to know that it existed.

        A former union organizer friend read this and commented that it showed “parallels with SEIU’s strategy of merging union locals into mega-locals that are less accountable to members and of partnering with corporations to turn the union into a de facto labor broker instead of a union.”

  2. zagonostra

    >Today my Uber ride from Midtown to JFK cost me as much as my flight from JFK to SFO

    I took a direct flight on Spirit Airlines from FLL to IAH on business just before CV19 hit and the Taxi ride to the hotel cost me more than the flight.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I always try to take a taxi whenever possible, but I’ve had problems with taxi’s at BWI in the past so I looked at Uber. $60 for what is normally a $25 cab fare – this was at 1pm, not a prime time, not busy, saw plenty of Uber cars near by in the app.

      I had a feeling the app figured out I had just landed (looking at location information on the phone) so it was trying to skim as much as possible from someone in a hurry. Not being in a hurry, I waited 15 minutes, and the fare went down to $25.

      I felt better about using Uber that day.

      1. Josef K

        Why would you feel better about Uber when they had just tried to shaft you? This is one cultural change that these internet-based businesses have achieved: people are now comfortable with capricious pricing.

        Take shoes. Amazon and others will list a pair of shoes at “$79.93-$210.97,” where the only pair at the low price are the 4 1/2s or the 14s, or the mint green ones, and the popular sizes and colors range all over but mostly at or near the highest price. Back in the day (sure, the first few thousand years of human cultures and societies are becoming increasingly irrevelant, but someone has to remember), if a pair of shoes one tried on a store were too small, who would accept being told that the next larger size was available, but at a (much) higher price?
        So what used to be considered a bait and switch is now SOP and perfectly acceptable; it’s even a crucial part of Uber’s business model and no one seems to find that disconcerting.

        I don’t think this is as insignificant as it may appear, it speaks to increasing comfort with untrustworthiness, even a decline in understanding of the meaning of the word trust.

        1. ambrit

          Yes. It is the acceptance of predation as the basic social model. Thus, humankind no longer aspires to rise above the animal level, but instead revels in it’s most “animal” members and their behaviours..

      2. JTMcPhee

        That’s how “smart” people get on to crowing how they managed to figure out the scam and not get completely screwed. Uber, socially speaking, starts out its fare structure with a pretty good screw of the society, running on a business model of evading and coopting the egal system for fun and profit. But hey, for the “smart” and those who can “afford” parasitic things like Uber and Lyft, because of their own privileged position in the jungle hierarchy of consumerdom, there’s bragging rights — that appear often in social media and blogspace.

        On the plus side, at least the “smart” person passes on, in a minuscule way to a small audience, the trick to avoiding the screw in this little corner or that of the screwniverse… At least until the “smart” people and algorithms that work for the looting corporations figure out new ways to befuddle, bamboozle and defraud…

      3. Late Introvert

        Whip cracking sadists should not invoke Zappa song titles. The Torture Never Stops.

  3. dcblogger

    Greg Palast documented, chapter an verse, how many voters were turned away from the polls in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin in 2016. I have no idea what Zaid Jilani is talking about, but yeah, voter suppression is the Republican model and the Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi have completely ignored it.

      1. dcblogger

        yeah, but Palast had the actual number of voters turned away in Wayne County Michigan for lack of proper voter ID.

        1. Pat

          Hell Palast had the details of Jeb Bush and Katharine Harris using ChoicePoint to strip African Americas from the voting rolls. All using flawed data. I also remember that when Democrats got majorities they did nothing to correct the means used for this. Of course it has only spread throughput other states.

          People voting is not an important issue for either party. It isn’t just that no one is trying to make it easier to vote most of the time, they adopt each other’s strategies to limit voters who might not vote the “right way”. My Democratic run state stripped a hundred thousand voters from the rolls in one borough all to kneecap Sanders. Heck a candidate had to sue to get them to hav3 the primary for the last election.

          Voters are fickle. Cannot trust them. Must protect the clique.

          1. John

            Increasingly, it matters little which individuals win office. The actions of the parties, not what passes for rhetoric is this benighted age, matters marginally as they differ in their appetite for cruelty to the populace at large. The clique, as Pat puts it, wants substantive obedience while the politicians keep up the appearance of independence and are permitted to vote with “political courage” on matters of no importance to the oligarchs. As evidence of this thesis, I cite the issues on which the people at large agree overwhelmingly, such as Medicare for All, that hasn’t a chance of being enacted.

            1. Alfred

              I take issue with the phrase “it doesn’t matter who is elected any more” in its various iterations. It matters a lot to TPTB–so much actually that they do everything possible to prevent anyone but their choice getting the nomination where people would have to opportunity to vote them into office. Then they say, “Get out and vote! Preserve your DEMOCRACY! If you don’t VOTE, you have no one to blame but yourself!!!” Ay caramba

    1. marym

      From the abstract:

      Finally, strict ID requirements have no effect on fraud – actual or perceived.

      How can it be that the requirements would have no effect on “actual” fraud? Hmmm…very mysterious.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “Actual” voter fraud is tiny, almost invisible. Strict ID would of course have no effect on a chimaerical notion.

        1. Alfred

          The real fraud comes before the election–in how candidates are chosen by the parties, IMO

  4. fresno dan

    Finally, finally, FINALLY I got some training from HICAP today over the web that was worthwhile. Actually, it was from Justice in Aging, but it was to support medicare counselling that HICAP does. I had never understood what the distinction between a Qualified Medicare Beneficiary and a Medi-Cal beneficiary was, and they did a good job of explaining that. (of course, why it should be so convoluted and confusing to begin with is another matter)
    Federal law as well as the law in CA is clear that medi-cal or QMB beneficiaries can’t be charged for cost sharing (deductibles, co-pays, and now co-insurance) for medicare covered benefits. I remember I had a client that was in that situation, and the doctor’s office would simply not acknowledge the law. There was no medi-cal sheriff or police you could call. So this provided the actual number at medicare you call, the information you have to get, and medicare than sends a letter to the doctor (this letter is backed with real teeth – medicare can take financial action against non complying physicians).
    Also, apparently the MSN (medicare summary notices) to QMB / medi-cal recipients now make it clear that such beneficiaries do not have any cost sharing charges for covered medicare services, as well as the paper work that is sent to physicians. That should take care of a lot of problems right there.

    1. Nce

      Ohhh, I was just approved for MediCal, and what a mess! I have to choose between plans, and on the east side of the Sierras it’s slim pickings for providers as it is, let alone which plans providers will accept (if any!) The only place in my county where I could walk in to ask questions was destroyed by a wildfire last summer, and what I’ve pieced together, providers for the services I need are at least a 1-3 hour drive from where I’m at (and no, Fresno may be closer as the crow flies, but my vehicle wouldn’t make it over Tioga Pass even if it was open.) Why oh why does Cali make this all so difficult?

      1. Bim

        So the yokel speak, “Cali,” does starts east of the Sierras?
        I thought it was more east of the Great Basin.

  5. RMO

    Even with all three members of my household having received the first Pfizer injection (and with cases dropping sharply here in BC) we’ve been committed to keeping up our precautions – N95 masks when grocery shopping, etc. – going on the basis that being vaccinated is kind of like going from playing Russian Roulette with one round in a six shot revolver to playing with one round in strange looking thousand shot revolver: the odds are massively better but we still would rather not play in the first place.

    Just last night I heard news of a long time friend of my brother-in-law. They were close friends from childhood so my wife knew him well too. 49. No serious or chronic health problems. Vaccinated over two weeks ago – first shot only. Caught Covid. Died of it last night.

    Daily cases are dropping sharply here in BC and more than half the population now has at least their first vaccination my household is not going “back to normal” when it comes to the precautions unless and until we get days on end of zero or the odd single digit daily new case numbers.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I figure that no new cases in the county for a week is when I’ll start thinking about dropping the mask.

    2. wilroncanada

      RMO, On Vancouver Island we had 9 new cases yesterday, 3 the day before (just under 1 million population). I think the next three weeks will tell the tale. Vaccination is rapidly expanding, over 60 % on V. I.–more than the US, by the way. The wait time for second dose calls has just been shortened from 16 weeks to 8. The reopening beginnings, indoor dining, religious services (except weddings) for up to 50, depending on available space, light exercise establishments, sporting events and some other features will be a public demonstration of willingness to mostly follow guidelines.
      A lot of seniors here are suffering, largely out their own well-founded fear. I’m a senior too, but it hasn’t bothered me much because I’m a loner.

  6. BoyDownTheLane

    I am sure glad I don’t live in such a way that it would be necessary for me to take a helicopter to the airport. I haven’t been in or needed to go to such a place for over 15 years. At this rate, I might qualify to be an honorary member of the Henry David Thoreau club in another decade, especially if I give up my iPhone..

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      amen to that.
      i haven’t been to an airport—save to pick someone up a couple of times–in 27 years.
      ( back when i had a job delivering lost luggage; a job that proved once and for all that people are a$$holes,lol)
      my brother flies all the time for his job(repeat sales mgr at giant software company).
      it’s been even longer since i’ve been on a plane.
      i see big jet planes, presumably full of people doing important things, all the time…at whatever cross country cruising altitude is.
      clear blue days are routinely marred by whatever it is that’s been flowing out of the back of them for 2+ decades(didn’t used to do that, save in winter)
      out here, i know only one person who flies regularly…one of those rich folks who bought up a legacy ranch and put up an impractical giant house on a hilltop and a large, extravagant gate-complex.he’s forever on a plane to cali or ny or the far east…’for business”(holds up old iphone with a movie studio built right in)
      but for all those planes overhead to make any sense, plenty of folks must be flying.
      i can’t say for sure, but it feels like a considerable misallocation of resources.

      1. Late Introvert

        I had concluded back in the 90’s that the class of people who wear expensive suits on airplanes, they were the enemy. I hope to never fly again. Last time was 4 years ago and it was horrific.

  7. fresno dan

    “Biden Administration Defends Huge Alaska Oil Drilling Project” [New York Times].
    I wish we could consign the phrase “the Trump Era” to the dustbin of history. If we factor out aesthetics, don’t we see more continuities than differences? Exactly as with Bush and Obama?
    Me too. hmmm, I better amend that to “Me Also”
    Because SO MUCH of what passes for “news” is moral preening, there are so few facts, and review of past FACTS, that the FACT that it has been said (I forget who) that there will be no fundamental changes between the Trump and Biden administration gets glossed over..
    News: entertainment presented to support one’s preconceived notions…

  8. fresno dan

    “READING: Mark Silk: Did John Adams Out Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings?” [Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality].
    I read that title and thought it meant that Adams had had more interracial affairs than Jefferson.

      1. diptherio

        The most shocking bit to me was that Hemmings was Jefferson’s first wife’s half-sister. Just…wow…on so many levels.

        1. DJG, Reality Czar


          Interesting that you commented on that. Sally Hemmings’s being related to Jefferson’s wife comes up in many recent articles. It is one of the things that makes it hard for defenders of Jefferson–evidence of enslaving one’s relatives.

          The detail that I hadn’t ever seen was that Sally Hemmings arrived in Paris when she was fourteen. Jefferson as predator. Even by the standards of the time, his behavior is, errr, untoward.

    1. a different chris

      And then there is the third version of “out”, now seemingly and suddenly and most thankfully in the past, where Tom and Sally weren’t with each other but instead had same-sex lovers.

      I think all three versions should be true! Would get “the kids” to pay attention in history class…

  9. Robert Hahl

    Gore Vidal’s novel “Burr”(1973) said it was common knowledge that half the slave children on Jefferson’s estate looked just like him. I don’t think Sally Hemings was the only one, just the only one he cared about.

    1. Carolinian

      He also theorizes that Hamilton, at a party, accused Burr of having sex with his daughter–hence the duel. It is first person fiction with Burr’s opinions not necessarily being Vidal’s or history’s.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that this is historically common when you have a combination of slave owners and female slaves. Certainly in Roman times, female slaves were expected to sleep with their masters as part of their “duties.” It was just the done thing. I can’t be sure but I think that there was an article in Water Cooler here once that talked about how during the days of the Old South, that when the ladies would gather on a plantation they would try to ignore how many of the slaves resembled their husbands. Awkward. Jefferson’s two families were confirmed by DNA tests of the modern black and white descendants. I bet that this is far more widespread than commonly assumed. Trying to enforce “reparations” would bring up some uncomfortable truths.

  10. ambrit

    Apologies in advance for threadjacking.
    [Insert boilerplate Privacy Notice here.]
    Grand Jury Report – North American Deeply Southern Edition.
    Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the County Grand Jury.
    Of the roughly twenty-five persons there for the entire day, only three of us were consistently masked, your humble correspondent and two ladies. Of the stream of District Attorney, Assistant District Attorneys, Clerks, and various policemen and policewomen who traipsed through the chamber, which is a fairly large, high ceilinged place, built in the 1900’s, those who were masked were conspicuous by their scarcity. Some would mask up when gathering in close proximity to others, and then unmask when “alone.”
    Air circulation was at a basic, older public building level. Ceiling fans and an older air conditioning system, retrofitted in the 1960’s I was told, stirred the air somewhat, but filtering of the air flow was evidently still not a priority. [I knew ‘things’ were bad when I noticed the dark soot like stains surrounding the air system outlets set into the ceiling of the chamber.]
    The session started at 8:30 AM and ran, with two ten minute breaks, one of which was called “lunch,” (catered by a local mini-chain submarine sandwich shop,) and ended at 5:45 PM. Two smaller five minute breaks were facilitated by tardy detectives.
    Yours truly was placed on one of the “sub-committees” tasked with inspecting the local schools and reporting back to the County, with recommendations. Other sub-committees were to look into Roads and Bridges, Public Buildings, and Public Safety. We were set out in groups of five to a task and set to self organizing the tasks. We have until January of next year to do the job. We were given copies of last year’s reports to serve as templates. All names on those reports were redacted. Most Jurors, seeing this, laughed outright.
    Having dealt with City Hall and Commercial Construction in the past, I strongly agitated for “surprise inspections” at the physical plant for everything. The initial impetus, as ‘seeded’ by the Courthouse Crowd evidently working behind the scenes, was to make appointments to visit the various buildings, facilities, and roadway infrastructure. More on that as it develops.
    The day’s parade of cases was an exercise in playing catch up with outstanding issues. Some of the cases were from as far back as Spring of 2018.
    Among the standard drugs possession, felons with guns, and auto burglary cases were some interesting cases and the horrific child sex crimes cases. There were cases dealing with the sexual abuse of pre teens. (We were all truly disturbed at the depravity that evidently lurks just below the surface of “small town America.”) With the latter, one aspect that popped out was the tendency of the partner of the predator to dismiss complaints from minor children about being abused by the predatory partner. This cropped up more than once. One detective who testified to one case was plainly upset by the entire thing and visibly trying to maintain composure while testifying.
    The other interesting cases were the fraud cases. Here, those cases were classified as embezzlement cases. (The Bezzle is everywhere!) I’m pushing the envelope here, but one case involved a company that held and rented out buildings, both commercial and residential. Someone figured out a way to skim the incoming funds, and did it for several years. Interestingly, the aggrieved corporation was not interested in proceeding with a forensic audit. Everyone thought that this was suspicious in and of itself. We demanded more information before proceeding. (The amounts involved are not chicken feed for a half-horse town, up into six and seven figures.)
    The other ’embezzlement’ cases were basic rip and run contractor issues. [Front a cheque for materials and then wait, and wait, and wait, for the “contractor” to show up to do the work.]
    Well, that’s all for now. More as events develop.
    Stay especially safe. The greater society seems H— bent on committing slow motion suicide.

    1. fresno dan

      May 27, 2021 at 3:08 pm
      Thank you for your service!
      I have never been on a grand jury, but have been on roundbouts 10 or 11 juries. Mostly due to the fact that while a resident of Maryland, and a federal employee who was registered to vote, I couldn’t weasel out of serving by claiming I was instrumental to my employer. I think my boss once sent a judge a note saying keep me as long as possible…

      1. ambrit

        I found that once I passed “retirement age” the jury summons increased. Not a lot, either way, but there it is.
        I’m thinking about proposing the establishment of a JA, for ‘Jurors Administration,’ to avoid turf wars with the VA.
        Stay safe.

  11. BrianH

    My brother in law became a firm believer in voter ID because of all the alarming instances he was hearing about dead people voting and impersonation of living voters. It didn’t really bother him to hear that the poor and minorities had difficulty voting because of these policies, even sympathetic sounding anecdotes didn’t move him. He had it in his head that there was a bigger threat to our democracy that needed attention, voter/voting fraud. What did create cracks in his resolve was discussion about this “problem “. When I was able to provide him with information demonstrating that Voter ID is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, he was curious. The most effective tidbit for him was hearing about overzealous prosecutors attempting to go after the problem and discovering there wasn’t anything there. He is someone who thinks too much government is bad (another topic of conversations between us) so when it’s pointed out that the legislators drafting ID laws are full of it, he’s just one nudge away from abandoning his love of IDs. Maybe opponents of Voter ID would be better served trying to crack the fraud nut instead of relying on convincing folks to care about the victims of the legislation?

  12. jax

    Reading: Did John Adams Out Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings?

    Thank you for the link to this article which is interesting on so many levels, not the least of which is the debasement of our educational system and language itself.

    Beyond that, one attitude jumped out of John Adams’ musings. In discussing whether the relationship between Jefferson and Dusky Sally should be discussed after Jefferson’s retirement from public life, he asks in an 1810 letter to John Ward, if it wouldn’t be better to say no more, because: “The more the Subject is canvassed will not the horror of the Infamy be diminished? and this black Licentiousness be encouraged?…”

    Adams is discussing the well known phenomena of white male slave owners producing offspring with black women. Whether this was through rape or mutual consent, the ‘licentiousness’ is, for Adams, a one-way street.

    This is what it means to be a woman and to read history, or religious texts for that matter, over a long life span. It always comes down to the belief that male lust is the woman’s fault.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar


      In the eighteenth century, the word “black” wasn’t used much for enslaved people or for African-Americans. Colored may have been used. The word Negro turns up, which is now considered outmoded. The use of the word “black” for people of African descent was considered rather impolite until fairly recently.

      So Adams is referring to “black” in its sense as sinful. The implication is that he is condemning Jefferson, rather than Sally.

      I suggest some research on the use of the word “black”–you are working an agenda rather than reading Adams’s tart assessment of Jefferson’s behavior.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I wonder what bible they used back then? There is a bit in it *checks internet* from the Book of Solomon that has the line ‘I am black, but comely’ but would that word ‘black’ be used then or the word ‘dark’. Again, it depends what version of the bible they were using back then.

        Small anecdote. During the filming of the original 1960’s Star Trek, they were trying to get the lighting right on Uhura/Nichelle Nichols and the lighting guy was giving read-offs saying ‘She’s dark, she’s still dark.’ Suddenly everybody realized the implication of what was happening and were hugely embarrassed until Nichol cooed ‘…but comely.’

  13. t

    “no significant negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any subgroup defined by age, gender, race, or party affiliation”
    Did they talk to anyone before they did this? The negative effect is when people have a mismatch with their registration and ID – a Latino who has their full name on one but not the other, someone who has moved, students who are using their parents address on some documents. Turnout does not equal counted vote. Good lord.

    1. John

      Voter fraud. Sounds dastardly doesn’t it? Makes a great sound bite. You want voter fraud or electoral fraud or election stealing? Take a look at the Texas Senate primary 1948(?) with a margin of 87 votes that launched Lyndon Johnson’s Senate career. But that was okay because he got away with it.

      DJT claiming fraud in 2020 is the fantasy of a person who refuses to accept the role of loser and on a par with HRC doing the same in 2016. Apparently for DJT, filing for bankruptcy multiple times demonstrates a clever use of the law and has nothing to do with failure or losing

  14. Lee

    Retail: “As masks fall out of fashion, Etsy sellers ask themselves, ‘now what?’” [CNN]

    Even if masks become unnecessary for health reasons, I’m sticking with my P-100 Elipse for the look.

    1. urblintz

      I do not understand why people are not thrilled at being able to wear a mask. Before covid, masks in public spaces were seriously looked down upon and in many places illegal. With surveillance cameras on every block these days, wearing masks is defiance, not acceptance…

      1. Late Introvert

        urblintz, I will keep wearing a mask because I like it, and luckily I live in a college town so people won’t want to fight me. The problem is when I go anywhere else in my mostly rural Midwestern territory. Lake Wisconsin with the grandparents is going to be hair raising this summer, but only in the gas stations and interstate-adjacent restaurants. Packing a big cooler.

        1. wilroncanada

          ..better than wearing a mask and packing a big heater, lol.
          My problem with masks is wearing glasses. No matter what I try, anit-fogging spray, or a shamois, they still fog up as soon as I put on my mask. My choice is: take off my glasses and go half-blind from myopia, or keep on my glasses and go half-blind from fog.

          1. athingtoconsider

            Another option is a vented N95 but that makes no pretense of protecting others but only the wearer.

            Still, what one doesn’t catch, one can’t spread either.

  15. fresno dan

    “Wolves Get Credit for 24% Drop in Deer-Auto Collisions” [Insurance Journal]. “Ecologist Rolf Peterson remembers driving remote stretches of road in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and seeing areas strewn with deer carcasses…
    Recently, another team of scientists has gathered data about road collisions and wolf movements in Wisconsin to quantify how the arrival wolves there affected the frequency of deer-auto collisions. They found it created what scientists call ‘a landscape of fear.’
    I don’t know if Lambert will publish the pictures of foxes in my neighbor’s yard I sent – its practically a fox sanctuary – she doesn’t do anything to encourage them residing there (I leave water out, and an occasional leftover), but the foxes sure like her yard, but it certainly has deterred those rats with bushy tails (i.e., squirrels) from raiding the birdfeeders. I saw a fox with a squirrel in its mouth – and my view is get all the furry little bastards. Fresno didn’t have squirrels when I was a child – they imported them!

  16. Lee

    “Wolves Get Credit for 24% Drop in Deer-Auto Collisions” [Insurance Journal].

    Better the Big Bad Wolf than Bambi.

    Deer–vehicle collisions lead to about 200 human deaths and $1.1 billion in property damage every year. State and federal governments, insurance companies, and drivers spend an additional $3 billion in an effort to reduce and manage the increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions.

    There are few historical records or modern cases of wolf attacks in North America. In the half-century up to 2002, there were eight fatal attacks in Europe and Russia, three in North America, and more than 200 in south Asia.[3] Wikipedia

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      we’re lousy with deer out here…20 years of low turnout hunting season(pre-9-11 hunting season is remembered fondly at the greasy spoons)
      most wrecks out here are one car rollovers…first, by folks falling asleep…second, by deer.
      we’ve plenty of coyotes…much much more than when i moved here…but idk if they eat deer like wolves do.
      everybody and their cat feeds the deer corn, too…so a lot of toothless, skinny deer staggering out into the road at night.
      when we must leave ere dawn for chemo, it’s slow going until the sun comes up.

    2. Cuibono

      I have been in one of those. New Volvo Station wagon at 60 MPH head-on. Biggest piece left of the deer was smaller than my hand as i recall. The Volvo totaled but we all walked away.

  17. Jeff W

    “The GOP has countered that it needs these laws in order to prevent widespread fraud that could corrupt the electoral process.”

    There is no “widespread fraud” of the type that voter ID laws would combat. The Brennan Center says “Extensive research reveals that fraud is very rare.”

  18. Toshiro_Mifune

    Race2Dinner gathers groups of eight white women at the home of a white host, where Jackson and Rao facilitate a discussion about race over dinner. When they first started out, they charged $2,500 per dinner, to be covered by the host or divided among her guests.
    What sort of hair shirt wearing PMC true believer would actually pay for this?

    1. petal

      haha when I read “Race2Dinner” I thought it was some kind of running supper club! Like you run to the host’s house, or do a group run, and then eat a meal together as a group at someone’s house. Otherwise, what a grift-great gig if you can get it. Why am I in science again?

      1. ambrit

        You’re in science so that you only have to do an hour a day on the telephone massaging donor’s egos. Those poor politicos are forced to do four hours a day abasing themselves at the Shrine of Mammon.
        Stay safe! Apply Occam’s Depilatory daily!

    2. allan

      For some reason, this reminds me of a scene from The Player (1992):

      Larry Levy:
      I’ll be there right after my AA meeting.

      Griffin Mill:
      Oh Larry, I didn’t realise you had a drinking problem.

      Larry Levy:
      Well I don’t really, but that’s where all the deals are being made these days.

  19. thump

    The Most Colossal Planning Failure in Human History is by Richard Heinberg, not Heisenberg. I’ve long wondered why NC has never featured any of his writings… At least when I last searched for his name here, only a few comments come up.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      yes. he’s been more right than wrong since i discovered him, circa 2002.
      so many roads not taken, lo these 60 years or so, since the PTB were aware of the numerous problems coming down the pike.
      he turned me on to both LATOC(internet forum of some repute) and Limits to Growth…as well as the idea of, not only peak oil, but peak civilisation.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Depends on one’s point of view. For the oligarchy and rentier class, “everything is going as we have planned.” The people who seek out and control ownership and political power are getting exactly what they have wanted. And they all know the (so far) fundamental truth: we all die, so they get to give the rest of us the finger as they sing out “Apres moi the deluge, suckers!”

      Hard to beat folks who control and define and play the game…

    1. Screwball

      Interesting, thanks.

      That really doesn’t seem like a good idea. Somewhere in the comments the other day it was said the safest place would be on a boat in the middle of an ocean. Maybe an extreme, but context…

      From the pictures it doesn’t look like Wuhan is segregated from the general population very well either.

      This is one of those “how can we be so smart but so stupid” kind of things IMO.

  20. Carolinian

    Re SC in the news–not only two politicians on the 2024 list but Myrtle Beach number one. Take that North Carolina!

    However I suspect Myrtle Beach along with SC real estate in general have a brighter future than Haley’s presidential ambitions which only seem credible to Northern reporters (and her of course).

  21. Amfortas the hippie

    from the “labor shortage” in food service thing:
    “Restaurants are just going to have to pay people more or have better benefits…”
    i can hear the groaning and grumbling from here,lol.
    this has been the need for a long time(i spent 25 years in kitchens, including my own(hence:”Chef”)
    the other thing he mentions, briefly, is “be nice to your employees”.
    perhaps the Other NRA will finally get around to including such things in their handy guides, instead of teaching prospective bosses how to cheat steal and be mean
    (when i had my cafe, NRA sent a few complimentary issues of their mag…and i was shocked at the sort of things they suggested as “best practices”…I’m far too nice for their style of bossing)

    1. ambrit

      Did it include having your female “employees” sleep with you on a regular basis? (I’ll not get into the issue of fidelity. I’m married to a jealous woman. I have the scars to prove it.)

    2. JTMcPhee

      The trade press for pretty much any sector of business is full of that kind of advice Next time you are sitting in the waiting area of a repair shop or tire store, not the slick ones but the ones with lube pits, pick up some of the trade magazines and read all the scam moves that are laid out there. I worked in a national-brand gas station as one of my college jobs, and the owner taught us how to short-stick the engine oil dipstick to sell unneeded quarts of oil or oil changes. (Overfilling the crankcase with oil is bad for the engine.) I only lasted a few months at that place.

  22. jr

    re: validate and divert

    This article was a real eye opener to me, Johnstone nailed it. It really explains so much about liberal politics. IDpol, another example, validates the legitimate grievances of oppressed people and diverts their attention into echo chambers of identity and division. Then the grift.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe because your salary did not depend on you deliberately not understanding it? In the modern era, people are rewarded if they agree with the current consensus whether it is Iraq or the economy. It does not matter if you are right or not so long as you agree with the consensus. That almost sounds Swedish that. And that is why people who pushed for the war in Iraq for example have gone on to have great careers while those who pointed out the follies were deep-sixed. And this, come to think of it, explains the careers of Larry Summers as well as Dr. Fauci. It all works – until comes the day when it doesn’t. Good film clip by the way geo.

    2. Alfred

      Geo, I’m glad you made a film about this. When people get too poor to consume, this is to encourage debt, which enriches the wealthy even more, and enpoors the consumer to wretchedness. Then people like Biden make it harder to go bankrupt (if you are poor) to keep you on the hook for the ever more usurious interest rates of credit cards for people with poor credit and few assets. I was in the accounting profession for 30+ years, so I really noticed this development.

  23. Cuibono

    “My presumption is we will need a booster”
    A booster? A yearly booster more likely

    1. Yves Smith

      Evidence so far points to immunity starting to abate in 2 months and being seriously diminished in 6-8 months. Annual is not often enough. Yet the public is being conditioned to expect annual, since people are supposed to get annual flu shots. But flu is seasonal. Covid is ongoing.

      1. JBird4049

        So they’re trying to condition us that no masks will be needed because it is now rainbows, unicorns, and ice cream because of those super-duper vaccines, which are already not 100% effective, and will need inadequate yearly boosters that we will probably have to pay for (it is just like the flu shot! /s )?

        WTF is this? Somebody here MUST have posted why this is good for the powers that be, but I am not seeing any upside as the blow-back will be within a year. It’s not the Harkonnens but the Killer Klowns from Outer Space that govern rule hunt us.

          1. Yves Smith

            Yes, there is hard evidence of waning immunity, and it’s solid: the Imperial College repeated tests of 100,000 in the UK. Experts interpreted their findings on past Covid cases as showing that immunity lasted 6-8 months (different researchers looking at the same data came up with varying specific estimates but all in the same time range).

        1. Yves Smith

          I don’t like feeling like I have to make an example of this link and therefore you, but this is bullshit.

          This site is about promoting critical thinking. For starters, if you have spent any time at all here, that means not taking media stories at face value. Even back in the 1920s, when newsrooms got enough from classified ads so as not to be totally captured, Eddie Bernays, the father of modern propaganda (none other than Goebbels studied him), showed that half the stories on the front page of the NYT were planted and successfully spun to flog the interests of source.

          Please read the studies rather that parrot triumphalist propaganda. We’ve also been discussing these issues for over a year and it looks as if you either haven’t been paying attention at all, or only to material consistent with your priors.

          The Nature study in the NYT concedes that the bone marrow remembering Covid does not prove the body can mount an adequate immune response. This is a garbage fun factoid being touted as evidence.

          As to the second, most immunologists question whether memory B cells can provide the foundation of an adequate immune response. The front line is normally antibodies. Memory cells kick in ONLY if there is already a meaningful viral load.

          The fact that there were documented repeat cases within months (and established as new infections, as opposed to possibly never having recovered from an infection) as well as breakthrough cases >1 month from being fully vaccinated strongly suggests memory cells won’t do the trick.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        I got my Johnson and Johnson Janssen at Publix today. Shot was within 15 minutes, turned out nobody actually was watching for whether I stayed for the further 15 minute waiting period. But I did because there’s rules.

        I then got some perishables and while chatting with the young woman doing the bagging, she was reassuring me that she didn’t have a bad reaction to her vaccine, and added that she had covid twice .

        I look forward to when Science catches up with the grubby world.

        1. Yves Smith

          Thanks but I’d like to know why your experience was better than mine.

          1. Did you sign up and go in at a sign up time? If so, that means the sign ups corresponded to what the local store was doing, which was not the case for us.

          2. Did you walk in? Great if you did but again our store was not allowing that

          3. Did you have to provide your insurance info? If so, I assume that went smoothly.

  24. a fax machine

    re: china bill

    “US Senate approves key amendment that improves chance of China bill’s passage”


    That “key amendment” removes tariffs on Chinese chemicals and PPE (things that cause climate change and which America should produce domestically, respectively). Notably, the amendment was introduced by Republicans and passed 94-4. Marco Rubio voted against it, which in my mind is his setup to a ’24 run.


    He also submitted his own amendments, I find two notable:


    “#1754: Banning the TSP Board from steering federal retirement savings to China. A bipartisan amendment, based on Rubio’s bipartisan, bicameral Taxpayers and Savers Protection (TSP) Act, first introduced in November 2019, and reintroduced May 2021, would prevent the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) from steering federal retirement savings to China. Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) are cosponsors. ”

    “#1767: Increasing transparency in federal contracting. An amendment, based on Rubio’s FACT Act, introduced in March 2021, to require any company with federal contracts to disclose contracts with the Chinese Communist Party and related entities. ”

    Say what you will about the explicitly imperialist amendments but this is a solid 2024 campaign platform. At least, on paper – my point is that this is the exact sort of thing that will cost Democrats seats and is, to many, might be where Peak Biden is found. If the bill passes in the expected amount of time, Biden will have peaked at about ~140 days. A record?

  25. a fax machine

    re: san jose shooting

    Someone had made the point that the guy’s job was likely going to be laid off for Covid service reductions and most of the local mental healthcare was closed for Covid. Talk about a toxic brew.. his own personal faults (ie, being a misogynist against his wife) notwithstanding. In a better world it would cause the gov’t to seriously reconsider such hard shutdowns – and, more importantly, what actually counts as “essential”. Southwest got to be Essential but VTA trains did not. BevMo got to be Essential but most therapists were ordered to cease operating. When people are treated badly, it leads to bad outcomes including random, sporadic acts of violence.

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