2:00PM Water Cooler 5/6/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

The Gray-headed Social-Weaver also has a pretty song.

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

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

Vaccination by region:

I suppose 362,726 + 201,441 + 277,326 + 153,646 = 995139 (daily numbers for the South, West, Northeast, and Midwest respectively) aren’t too shabby, and when we’re in diminishing returns territory daily numbers are expected to go down. It still worries me.

Case count by United States regions:

The Midwest in detail:

Continued good news.

MN: “Minnesota’s COVID restrictions to end May 28, mask mandate July 1” [Star Tribune]. “A mask-wearing mandate for public indoor spaces will end no later than July 1 in Minnesota and COVID-19 restrictions on business capacities and gathering sizes will end by May 28 under a plan announced Thursday by Gov. Tim Walz. The first step on Friday will include an immediate expansion on the sizes of indoor and outdoor gatherings, and an end to early closing times for bars and restaurants, but all such limits will be eliminated by May 28 ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. The mask-wearing requirement could be lifted before July 1 if the state can increase the rate of Minnesotans who have received COVID-19 vaccine from 59% to 70%. ‘As cases recede, more people get vaccinated every day, and vaccines are readily available to all who want it,’ Walz said. ‘We can now confidently and safely set out our path back to normal.’ The change comes as other states such as New York phase out COVID-19 restrictions amid vaccination progress and signs of reduced pandemic activity. In Minnesota, the positivity rate of diagnostic testing has fallen from 7.4% on April 10 at the peak of the latest wave to 5.9%. COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota dropped from 699 on April 14 to 565 on Wednesday.” • I am still poking around for a nice hospitalization chart. I am guessing that at one time, 565 would have been considered a lot….

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

Down, except for the West, now flat.

* * *


“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

“Here Comes the Covid-19 Community Corps and They Want You” [Bloomberg]. “local triumphs, replicated thousands of times a day, that the Biden Administration’s Covid-19 Community Corps is going for. Organized in small teams that run the gamut from veterans and religious groups to progressive youth organizations and a Black LGBTQ group, the corps has been in the forefront of reaching the reluctant. The idea is that this wide demographic outreach will radiate, so that the friends and neighbors of the vaccinated follow suit… National Milk Producers Federation, one of more than 200 groups the Biden administration has amassed for the next and possibly hardest stage of the nationwide vaccination campaign…. The administration is backing up its ambitions with money. The White House said Tuesday the administration is making nearly $1.5 billion in funds from the coronavirus rescue package available for community organizations, rural health clinics, and state and local governments to increase vaccination and testing rates in underserved areas. With mass vaccination sites winding down, smaller pop-ups where people can walk in on their own schedule are taking their place. Pharmacies and other neighborhood clinics are also encouraged to accept walk-ins. The Biden administration has also recently set up a website, a call center and a text feature that can all link people to nearby shots. A major theme of this next phase is convenience, whether that means getting vaccinated at church, on a neighborhood basketball court or in the fields.” • I thought “Corps” meant a bunch of fresh-faced college kids parachuted into Red States, but apparently the Corp is an agglomeration of NGOs. A lot of this sounds good, but I would like very much to know who those 200 groups are. I poked about the Community Corps Website, but I don’t see a list. From the Campaign Background Document: “The Campaign also collaborates with corporations, foundations, and not-for-profits that share a common mission of preventing COVID-19 and protecting public health.” Oh.

An administration that looks like America:

If you think America is a nation of grifters, that is.

“Biden’s bet” [The Ruffian]. “[In the SOTU, Biden also said], ‘We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century. We’re at a great inflection point in history.’ Competitiveness with China was a Trump theme (in some ways, as per Afghanistan, Biden is merely delivering on Trump’s promises). Now, Biden puts this in a way that can be interpreted as straightforward economic competition, in the Trumpian sense. But he’s actually hinting at a grander thought, which he expanded on beforehand in an informal conversation with journalists: ‘I think they’re going to write about this point in history… about whether or not democracy can function in the 21st century. Not a joke. Whether autocracy is the answer – these were my debates I’d have in the many times I met with Xi.’ I love that ‘not a joke’, by the way. Biden speaks a little like Trump, at least in that he does not have the high-flown fluency of the hyper-educated and prefers colloquial expression. Unlike Trump, however, he’s intellectually curious. In fact, his verbal and cognitive style is like a blend of the last two presidents: a big thinker who didn’t go to Harvard.” • Hmm. I could use an example of Biden’s intellectual curiousity.


“U.S. Justice Department worried about Arizona vote recount” [Politico]. “In a letter to GOP [Arizona] Senate President Karen Fann, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said the Senate’s farming out of 2.1 million ballots from the state’s most populous county to a contractor may run afoul of federal law requiring ballots to remain in the control of elections officials for 22 months. And Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan said that the Senate contractor’s plans to directly contact voters could amount to illegal voter intimidation. ‘Past experience with similar investigative efforts around the country has raised concerns that they can be directed at minority voters, which potentially can implicate the anti-intimidation prohibitions of the Voting Rights Act,’ Karlan wrote. ‘Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future.’ Karlan wants Fann to lay out how the Senate and its contractors will ensure federal laws are followed. She pointed to news reports showing lax security at the former basketball arena where the ballots are being recounted by hand.”

“Extending Arizona ballot recount past May 14 is ‘not feasible’, state fair official says” [Arizona Republic]. “A state official said Wednesday it is “not feasible” to extend the Arizona Senate’s lease on the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where its contractors appear still early in the process of recounting all 2.1 million ballots that Maricopa County voters cast in last year’s general election. Though tallying began April 23, the Senate’s liaison estimated that only about 200,000 ballots were counted as of Wednesday and that the effort likely would extend beyond the May 14 end date of the Senate’s lease on the facility. The Republican-controlled Senate faces a hard deadline, however. When the Senate moved in, the coliseum was already booked for Phoenix Union High School District graduation ceremonies scheduled for several days later in May. Ken Bennett, a former secretary of state acting as the Senate’s liaison, has said the Senate’s contractors could move the 2.1 million ballots off the coliseum floor but store the ballots on site and continue counting later… Experts who have run or overseen elections have questioned the accuracy of the ballot counting process, which differs significantly from the methods used for audits in Arizona. And several experts interviewed by The Arizona Republic were skeptical that Senate contractors could tally all 2.1 million ballots in just a few weeks.”

And then….

If the Arizona Republicans had the stones, they’d be suing Dominion for the source code for their proprietary software.

Democrats en Deshabille

“”It’s the Gift That Keeps On Giving”: Gavin Newsom’s Team Is Thrilled That Caitlyn Jenner Is Running for Governor” [Vanity Fair]. Because a lot of Democrat strategists say Jenner is Trumpy. “Newsom has also been savvy in trying to prevent a repeat of one key aspect of the 2003 recall: Davis was hurt by the candidacy of Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, a fellow Democrat. Newsom has so far sealed off any intraparty challenge, aggressively campaigning throughout the state with local officials and pushing for COVID relief money to be distributed far and wide. The state’s other ambitious pols also remember that after the failed recall bid, Bustamante lost his only other bid for public office. Newsom is in strong political shape, at least for the recall, which is still unscheduled but is expected to happen this fall. Yet the state has serious problems that predate the pandemic and will likely outlive it.” • Newsome, oddly, isn’t working the populist angle:

“Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver released from prison on furlough” [Syracuse.com (Bob)]. “Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been released from a federal prison on furlough while he awaits potential placement to home confinement, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press…. A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which prosecuted Silver, said it sent an email to the Bureau of Prisons on Monday opposing his furlough. Lawyers who have represented Silver at trial and at the appeals court either said they no longer represent him or did not respond to email and voice messages…. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, was once one of the three most powerful state officials in New York. He was the Assembly’s leader for more than two decades before his abrupt ouster in 2015 after the corruption allegations emerged. He was ultimately convicted in a scheme that involved a type of illegal back-scratching that has long plagued Albany. He supported legislation that benefited real estate developers he knew. In return, they referred tax business to a law firm that employed Silver, which then paid him fees…. Silver, who was elected to the Assembly in 1977 and became speaker in 1994, has a projected release date from federal custody in 2026.” • Odd about those lawyers, as Bob points out.

“Julia Louis-Dreyfus Confesses She Misses Selina Meyer as Much as You Do” [Variety]. “If reading, cooking and watching TV sound like typical COVID-lockdown activities, Louis-Dreyfus’ year also included campaigning and fundraising for Biden, down-ballot Democrats and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff that became ‘a full-time part-time job,’ she says. ‘The Republican Party, in my view, has lost their minds. This is not even the party of Reagan anymore.’” • Reagan is, perhaps, not the best example of a Republican who didn’t lose their mind.

Republican Funhouse

“Trump Spawned a New Group of Mega-Donors Who Now Hold Sway Over the GOP’s Future” [ProPublica]. “ProPublica identified 29 people and couples who increased their political contributions at least tenfold since 2015, based on an analysis of Federal Election Commission records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The donors in the table below gave at least $1 million to Trump and the GOP after previously having spent less than $1 million total. Most of the donations went to super PACs supporting Trump or to the Trump Victory joint fundraising vehicle that spread the money among his campaign and party committees…. several of the biggest new donors — banking scion Timothy Mellon and his wife, Patricia; Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter and his wife, Laura; and Dallas pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren and his wife, Amy — now rank among such better-known, longer-running donors as Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, professional wrestling founders Linda and Vince McMahon, and casino mogul Steve Wynn. For some new donors, the sudden increase in their political contributions may have as much to do with newly acquired wealth as with the ascent of Trump and his grip on the Republican Party. But others inherited fortunes or made them long ago, yet never made a splash in campaign finance records until now. Several of the donors have not spoken publicly about their support for Trump or have not been extensively covered before. ProPublica requested interviews with everyone named in this article and included comments from those who responded.” • With table of the 29 (sadly, not easy to excerpt or screenshot). These are, I think, the elephants in the room.

“Hawley says Cheney ‘spiraling,’ ‘out-of-step’ amid Trump backlash” [The Hill]. “Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is ‘sort of spiraling’ as House Republicans appear increasingly likely to oust her from their No. 3 leadership spot. Hawley, during an interview on ‘The Megyn Kelly Show’ podcast, sidestepped if Cheney should be removed from leadership, noting it was up to his House counterparts, but said that he thought Cheney was out of line with Republicans on not only former President Trump but also foreign policy. ‘I don’t know her personally, I think she’s sort of spiraling if you look at the things that she’s saying, the claims that she’s making,’ Hawley said. ‘I think she’s out-of-step with Republican voters. … I just think this is somebody who does not really represent Republicans,’ Hawley added. Hawley’s comments come after Cheney told the New York Post late last month that she viewed efforts to challenge the 2020 election results as “disqualifying” for some 2024 hopefuls. Cheney didn’t mention Hawley by name.” • I dunno. If there were a Stature Meter for Republicans — and this has nothing to do with ideology or even performance — I’d put Hawley nearer Santorum than, say…. Bob Dole, and that’s something I didn’t expect. If Hawley wants to be President, he’s got to look like one.

“Florida gov signs GOP voting law critics call ‘un-American’” [Associated Press]. “Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a major rewrite of Florida’s elections law on Thursday, tightening rules around drop boxes and mail-in voting in the presidential battleground. Critics say the changes will make it harder for voters, particularly the elderly and people of color, to cast ballots. It’s the latest victory in the nationwide push by Republicans to restrict access to the polls, which party leaders say is necessary to deter fraud. The campaign has been fueled by former President Donald Trump’s false claim that his reelection was stolen from him, an assertion widely repeated across the GOP. Florida’s Republican legislators passed this law — without a single Democratic vote — even though they acknowledged there were no signs of fraud in the state, which Trump won handily in November. DeSantis, widely viewed as a potential presidential candidate, clearly saw the political advantage in fighting for what his party describes as ‘election integrity.’ In an extraordinary move, he staged his bill-signing live on the Fox & Friends show, with no other media outlets allowed.” • At least DeSantis is feral!

“Republican fissures widen six months after Donald Trump’s defeat” [Financial Times]. “Asked by reporters on Wednesday about efforts to oust Cheney, Biden responded: ‘I don’t understand the Republicans.'” • Burn!

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “01 May 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improves” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 522 K to 575 K (consensus 533 K), and the Department of Labor reported 498,000 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 621,000 (reported last week as 611,750) to 560,000.”

Employment Situation: “April 2021 Job Cuts Fall To Levels Not Seen Since June 2000” [Econintersect]. “Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers fell 25% in April to 22,913 from the 30,603 announced in March. Last month’s total is down 96.6% from last April, when employers announced 671,129 cuts, the highest monthly total on record…. April’s total is the lowest monthly total since June 2000, when 17,241 cuts were recorded.”

Productivity: “1Q2021 Preliminary Headline Productivity Improves” [Econintersect]. “A simple summary of the headlines for this release is that labor costs growth declined on a quarter-over-quarter basis whilst productivity improved…. The overall view this quarter is that nonfarm productivity is up 4.1 % from the same quarter one year ago while unit costs are up 1.6 %.”

* * *

Commodities: “Battery metal rush pits miners against marine biologists” [Mining.com]. “The International Seabed Authority is preparing to pass regulations in July that could trigger a rush to extract metals needed to power the electric-vehicle revolution. Environmentalists say that would endanger fragile marine ecosystems and fear the ISA is too closely aligned with the emergent mining industry. The conflict exposes the complex trade-offs nations face to survive on a warming planet. ‘It is a grand challenge of our time to reconcile humanity’s opposing interests in acquiring ocean resources — food, minerals and energy — with protecting these habitats,’ said Will Homoky, a biochemist at the U.K.’s University of Leeds, who’s helped collect the environmental data being analyzed by miners and regulators.”

Shipping: “ILA lawsuit throttles South Carolina container terminal traffic” [Freight Waves]. “A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative judge on Tuesday was to consider a charge brought by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) and the state of South Carolina in early January that the ILA, its Local 1422 and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) were trying to force the use of union labor at the Leatherman Terminal…. On April 20, the ILA filed suit in New Jersey Superior Court against Hapag-Lloyd, which was the first shipping line to utilize the Leatherman Terminal after its opening earlier that month. On April 26, the ILA amended the suit to add Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd. (OOCL), which also used the terminal. The ILA is seeking a total of $300 million in damages for ‘tortious interference with a contractual relationship, tortious interference with advantageous business advantage, breach of contract and civil conspiracy.’ ‘The Hapag-Lloyd and OOCL ships intentionally went to Leatherman Terminal even though they knew that workers who were not in the master contract bargaining unit would be hired to unload containers and to handle containers on the terminal,’ the lawsuit states.”

Tech: “SpaceX: Over 500,000 orders for Starlink satellite internet service received to date” [CNBC]. “Starlink is [SpaceX’s] capital-intensive project to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites — known in the space industry as a constellation — designed to deliver high-speed internet to consumers anywhere on the planet. It’s also now the world’s largest satellite constellation, with more than 1,500 Starlink satellites launched to orbit to date.” • So long, night sky. OTOH, if I were Myanmarese, I might care about connectivity without going through the national ISPs more…

Tech: “Google is going to start automatically enrolling users in two-step verification” [ZD Net]. “Google will soon start pushing more Gmail users and Google Account holders to enable two-step verification — the extra layer of security that can protect people when their credentials have been phished or exposed through a data breach…. ‘Soon we’ll start automatically enrolling users in 2SV if their accounts are appropriately configured. (You can check the status of your account in our Security Checkup),’ Mark Risher, director of product management in Google’s Identity and User Security group, notes in a blogpost.”

Tech: “The California Exception” [Pixel Envy]. • On chipping away at “dark patterns” through legislation: It’s possible!

Intellectual Property: This is extremely bad. Read the whole thread (dk):

Manufacturing: “Chip Shortage Forces Carmakers to Leave Out Some High-End Features” [Bloomberg]. “Nissan is leaving navigation systems out of thousands of vehicles that typically would have them because of the shortages. Ram no longer offers its 1500 pickups with a standard “intelligent” rearview mirror that monitors for blind spots. Renault has stopped offering an oversized digital screen behind the steering wheel on its Arkana SUV — also to save on chips…. The crisis is an historic test for the century-old auto industry just as it is trying to accelerate a shift toward smarter, electrich vehicles. For decades, carmakers moved steadily to include more and better advanced features; now, they’re stripping some of them out — at least temporarily — to salvage their sales.”

Mr. Market: “GameStop Can Thank WallStreetBets for Its S&P Credit Upgrade” [Bloomberg]. “The Reddit army’s meme-packed campaign to boost GameStop Corp.’s stock price has now resulted in one of the most conventional victories on Wall Street: a credit-rating upgrade. Hype on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets forum drove the once-struggling videogame retailer’s shares so high that the company was able to raise $551 million last week by selling equity. That allowed GameStop to wipe out all of its long-term debt. S&P Global Ratings responded Wednesday, lifting GameStop’s credit rating one notch to B.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 6 at 12:14pm.

Our Famously Free Press

“What is journalism? Chapter Four: When” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “To clock the ways journalism informs us, I asked six Americans to log their news consumption over the course of a day and, in doing so, to probe their habits and perceptions. In many cases, participants viewed outlets as representing opposing political “sides” that ought to be sampled in equal measure; they made an effort to find the center and avoid the “extremes.” All shared a general sense that every news source is, to some degree, untrustworthy. And all believed—as most of us do—in their own power of critical thinking, arriving at six distinct conclusions.” • Very interesting to see such heavy news consumption in the individual diaries.


“Gaming in colour: uncovering video games’ black pioneers” [Guardian]. “In the 1970s, in the fledgling days of the video games industry, an engineer named Gerald “Jerry” Lawson designed one of the earliest game consoles, the Channel F, and also led the team that invented the game cartridge, a defining innovation in how games were made and sold. His son, Andersen Lawson, recalls that he was often working on gaming projects in the garage of their family home in Santa Clara, California.” • ZOMG the garage story….

“Apple’s Tim Cook On Epic’s Tim Sweeney: I Do Not Know This Man” [Kotaku]. “Another day, another collection of very funny and insightful documents being released as part of the Apple vs Epic lawsuit. For tonight we have a 2015 email from Epic’s Tim Sweeney to Apple CEO Tim Cook, where one executive issues an impassioned plea for marketplace reform, and the other says, ‘Who is this man?’ The email, dated June 25, 2015—so well before Epic was flush with Fortnite billions—was sent directly to Cook by Sweeney, and reads: “Hi Tim, Y’all should think about separating iOS App Store curation from compliance review and app distribution….”

Under the Influence

“Kim Kardashian Must Return the Ancient Roman Statue That Lives in Her Home” [Jezebel]. • That’s a damn shame.

Class Warfare

“Portrait of the United States as a Developing Country” [Boston Review]. “A central question for this new era of U.S. political economy is how exactly government can induce capital to work on behalf of public welfare. If capital is predisposed to liquidity, how do political agents steer it toward investment? In his prodigious new book Ages of American Capitalism: A History of the United States, economic historian Jonathan Levy illustrates the historical conditions under which just such direction has been possible, arguing that the long arcs of transformative development in U.S. history have never spontaneously arisen from the market. “What separates the ages of American capitalism . . . are not strictly economic variables but rather political initiatives,” Levy writes. He shows how statesmen have always steered the course of U.S. capitalism, with stark implications for inequality, social mobility, ideas of citizenship, and popular views of the responsibilities of government and business.”

“The Ever Given and the Monstrosity of Maritime Capitalism” [Boston Review]. “Container ships, by contrast, have seen a hot streak. Since the inception of containerization in the 1960s, shipping companies have raced to fill their vessels with larger volumes of cargo that can defray the costs of fuel and labor. Campling and Colás note that despite the common economic contention that the growth of the shipping sector arose in response to growing demand in international trade, the reality is the opposite: innovations in shipping made the movement of goods so cheap that it prompted new strategies of profit-making, in a process that scholars and supply chain managers have identified as the ‘logistics revolution.’ Containerization enabled manufacturers to perform what Campling and Colás call a ‘geographical conjuring trick’ at a time when industrial profit rates were beginning to fall.”

News of the Wired

“Building an AI That Feels” [IEEE Spectrum]. “In the past year, have you found yourself under stress? Have you ever wished for help coping? Imagine if, throughout the pandemic, you’d had a virtual therapist powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) system, an entity that empathized with you and gradually got to know your moods and behaviors.” • Yeah, Big Pharma would buy the data, and then the AI would act like its pusher!

“Catala: A Programming Language for the Law” [Cornell University]. “We introduce Catala, a new programming language that we specifically designed to allow a straightforward and systematic translation of statutory law into an executable implementation. Catala aims to bring together lawyers and programmers through a shared medium, which together they can understand, edit and evolve, bridging a gap that often results in dramatically incorrect implementations of the law. We have implemented a compiler for Catala, and have proven the correctness of its core compilation steps using the F* proof assistant. We evaluate Catala on several legal texts that are algorithms in disguise, notably section 121 of the US federal income tax and the byzantine French family benefits; in doing so, we uncover a bug in the official implementation. We observe as a consequence of the formalization process that using Catala enables rich interactions between lawyers and programmers, leading to a greater understanding of the original legislative intent, while producing a correct-by-construction executable specification reusable by the greater software ecosystem.” • If you really want to have “code is law,” this is how.

The complexities:

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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 (NM):

NM writes: “Bloodroot, native along the banks of small waterways; white petals and red root. For me always a sign of spring.”

* * *

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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. Mark Gisleson

    “Google is going to start automatically enrolling users in two-step verification”

    If Google threatens to close my gmail account because I no longer have a phone, that just might force me to give up my quest to live phone-free. Or maybe I’ll just add email to my list of things I can get along without.

    Isn’t there some kind of antitrust word for this?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Do you really have to have Google brand email? Is there no hotmail.com ? Is there no pointy.com ? Is there no other email company service anywhere in America except Google?

      1. Isotope_C14

        “Family blog” American e-mails. The best e-mail I’ve ever used is posteo.de – this is 1EU/month and is fantastic. It is set up more for PC users, and has zero popup ads, no tracking, and I never get any spam.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, there you go. Yet another no-Google email service.

          No one can say they don’t have choices.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Proton Mail is great, with one exception: You cannot search in the body of the email, only for metadata like sender, recipient, and subject line.

          So, for me, Proton Mail is useless for correspondence but great for production. Still looking for a correspondence solution, hopefully free.

      2. ambrit

        The real stumbling block to ‘moving’ one’s e-mail “address” is changing all the internet ‘connections’ on which one uses one’s e-mail “address” as an identifier.
        I keep a rolodex file next to the computer table. Old fashioned, but, baring meteorite strike or conflagration, the most ‘secure’ form of backup I can think of. On most of those cards, the entry under ‘User’ is either my or Phyl’s e-mail ‘address.’ Every internet ‘connection’ must keep an e-mail return address as a matter of course. These will all have to be reset.
        I believe that “Lambert” endured an extended period of ‘e-mail address migration’ a year or so ago.
        I do believe that an algorithm to automatically reset one’s e-mail ‘address’ with one’s internet correspondents would be a worthy project, perhaps remunerative as well.

      3. Mark Gisleson

        Once upon a time I had a “wild card” email address. Anything sent to @gisleson.com went into my email box. That ended when I stopped doing work for the ISP enabling my vanity (and my friends’ rude jokes).

        I could move to other email hosts but as has been pointed out, letting everyone know the new address would be a pain after 20 yrs of gmail. I did open a Proton account a while back but no one uses it so it’s still shiny and perfect and spam-free.

        What will be interesting is when I point out to Google that I’ve paid for extra storage and does this mean they’ll refund me for the storage I can no longer access?

      4. Josef K

        protonmail.com, mailbox.org, tutanota.com are three very good alternatives. IMO google.com is a bad actor and should be shunned to the extent possible. I find google maps impossible to resist using as there’s no real competition there, but for email, absolutely.

      5. Eduard Eberbach

        I have been using the same email address for over 25 years despite changing actual internet providers many times over the years by using an email forwarder (in my case: pobox.com). I am not affiliated with pobox other than being a customer. It’s nice not to have to reprint business cards when I move.

    2. Synoia

      Yes, Google want to verify the the spied upon are actually properly identified marks.

      It is part of their contribution to the deep state of affairs, and protects them from Anti-Trust.

      1. David

        OK, I must be missing something.
        I’ve had 2FA enabled with Gmail for years, because (pre-Covid) I moved around quite a bit, and often had to access my mail from a hotel computer or a computer belonging to somebody else. Each time I logged in, I got a confirmation request sent to my phone and had to enter the code which had been generated. This makes it difficult for anyone else to access my account. You only have to do this once for any individual computer. I don’t like Google any more than the average person, but in this case it’s hard to see what I am losing, whereas there’s a reduced possibility of having my account pirated by some spam factory. It’s essentially what my bank does when I make an online purchase – it sends a confirmation request to my phone, which I then have to process before the expenditure is confirmed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good series of articles on why you should use it.

        1. Cuibono

          you are missing something. it does what you say ” sometimes”. but it also does what Synoia says

    3. RMO

      Unfortunately my ISP email is now Gmail… Telus (one of the biggest telcom companies in Canada) started last year to shut down all their in-house email and throwing customers on the dubious mercies of Google – and of course they announced it as “Exciting new improvements to your email!” Kind of like if you had been paying a company to cater your lunch for a few decades and all of a sudden they announced an “improvement” in their service: from now on you won’t be limited to a choice of one beer, white wine, red wine, cola, ginger ale, coffee or tea but instead you will have the freedom to drink all you want out of your own tap.

      Fortunately I haven’t had the transition problems that a lot of people did and I managed to make it work with Thunderbird (quite a few customers just can’t get third party email programs to work and have to deal with Google’s online and, in my opinion, thoroughly wretched interface) but the only reason I haven’t stopped using it yet is that my email address didn’t have to change. Google Gmail does the work but it still uses the @telus.net address. I’m going to switch to Proton at some point but the hassle of changing my email address with so many people and companies (and the government) has made me procrastinate.

      I’m also not enthusiastic about giving Google any more information for double factor ID as it just means when the inevitable data breach happens there will be one more thing I have to clear up. Google also resolutely refuses to recognize that my Android phone is mine and/or I am me already so I can’t install any apps on it. I wasted hours trying to get this fixed with no success so I’m not even convinced that Google can do anything well setting aside the fact that they seem to attempt to maximize evil with everything they do.

      1. cwalsh

        I use 2 FIDO keys for 2FA. Physical possession of one of the two keys is required to access accounts using these keys for 2FA — no phone required.

        1. Geof

          This is what I did. Phones can be lost or hacked, and Google Authenticator can simply stop working, locking you out.

          Requiring a phone also… assumes you have a phone. Probably with data. And a monthly plan. It’s like the terrible error made in the mid 20th century to build cities where you had to have a car to buy a jug of milk. It’s a very bad idea.

  2. drumlin woodchuckles

    One neat thing about hiring a sympathetic ideological warfare group to ” count and audit” ballots in Arizona is that you can have moles and agents and collaborators inside the ideological warfare group.

    So the IdWar group “counting” and “auditing” the ballots is looking for bamboo fibers? How do we know they didn’t pre-plant bamboo fibers on ballots just before counting them so they can pretend that they found them? Why else would they invent a theory about bamboo fibers revealing that ballots came from Asia unless they brought bamboo fibers with them in order to pretend to find them in order to fake-validate their fake-theory that ballots were imported from Asia?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Hate to break the news to these bamboo hunters, but the stuff grows right here in Arizona.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        They don’t care as long as no one embarrasses them by rubbing their noses in it on the media.
        After all, they are just concerned with using bamboo fiber to fake the case. They don’t care where the bamboo fiber actually comes from.

    2. Jimmer

      You have actual knowledge of this? It’s kinda fake-theory that you are espousing here.

    3. ambrit

      Speaking of the “Yellow Peril,” are we next to be regaled with tales of ‘almond shaped’ hanging chads?

    4. GF

      The real issue for the ninjas is to make sure only democrats ballots are found to have the bamboo. It only takes a few thousand to make Trump the winner.

      1. John

        If we live in a rational age, this absurd charade would be ridden out of town on a rail

        1. Josef K

          Hey, but the DOJ is “worried,” so we don’t have to be. Phew.

          Seriously, how does something like this even get going?

          This is related to why the 1/6 riot was no small deal. Brick by brick the GOP in its current malignant form is trying to dismantle our mostly democratic election process. We ignore it at our peril.

          1. Chromex

            This “gets going” because Trump still controls the GOP. Eg Liz Cheny, Georiga etc etc. we are watching the purge. Whether this will be “the return” four years hence or lemmings remains to be seen.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Whether this will be “the return” four years hence or lemmings

              Both could be true.

              Trump’s been quiet lately. Too quiet, it’s not like him. Even with the Twitter ban.

  3. km

    I have often heard it said that robots will replace lawyers. Well, so far the results aren’t promising, at least not for anything other than the simplest stuff.

    Take for instance the word “deal“. It’s a simple word, a word that one frequently hears in business. and it can mean anything from “distribute the playing cards in the appropriate sequence to the participants” to “we have reached agreement” to “this is something that you will just have to learn to live with” and many other meanings besides.

    You and I know what is meant in a given context, and if someone were to buy my car, I wouldn’t respond by whipping out a Bicycle deck and telling the buyer to ante up. Maybe this will change, but for the foreseeable future, getting an algorithm to convert such phraseology into an agreement would require the parties to pretend that they are giving instructions to Amelia Bedelia.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Your comment points the way towards frustrating attempts by the NSA-industrial complex to use AI to analyze all the words they record and store.

      1. JTMcPhee

        For the NSA and other state-“security” (sic) folks, ambiguity is their friend. Words can be taken to mean whatever the spooky caterpillar wants them to mean, no more and no less… “modified limited hangout,” and all the words and phrases that mean “torture,” https://archive.thinkprogress.org/here-are-all-the-things-the-media-calls-torture-instead-of-torture-9f167f43e33e/, and so much more…

        Jen Psaki and her predecessors know all about how to make words sit up and beg…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          In that sense, you are correct. The data is meant to offer a million dots for your persecutors to connect any which way they like in order to fake whatever case they feel like faking.

        2. The Rev Kev

          I seem to recall that at one stage for something to be defined as torture, that it would have to result in death or permanent injury. So if it did not meet those two requirements, then torture never took place.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            That was John Yoo’s bogus fake-claim and fake-definition. For which he was later richly rewarded by a real law-professor job at the real Berkeley Law School ( or maybe Stanford but anyway one of those pro-Elite training grounds for the high-level servants).

      2. km

        Easiest way to do that is the one-time pad cipher, which, if used in a disciplined way, is pretty much unbreakable.


        Today, an email saying “please bring extra tacos!” could mean “caution, we are being watched!” Tomorrow it might mean that I am especially hungry.

        This is also why the NSA excuse for needing to collect all the information because, you know, terrorism, is so much codswallop. A terrorist or other bad actor with as much brains as a high schooler could create a one-time pad cipher that the NSA could never crack.

        However, since most non-terrorist Americans don’t communicate information, even non-public information, by means of one-time pad ciphers, their communications may read and exploited by the alphabet agencies. Why these agencies might wish to do so is left as an exercise for the reader.

        1. Alfred

          If everyone was a serious Catholic, they could use priests like the Church used to to get all the guilty secrets and gossip. The NSA does not have God as a enforcer, too bad for them.

        2. RMO

          One time pads are not exactly easy to use though. They need to be truly random, as long or longer than any message that needs to be sent, can not ever be reused and they have to be distributed securely and kept securely among the users. Of course if you meet all those requirements they are truly unbreakable.

    2. Gc54

      Not to mention Biden TM catchall “here’s the deal” which mean “some execrable policy that you will have to swallow”

  4. Synoia

    Hmm. I could use an example of Biden’s intellectual curiosity.

    No problem:

    Biden is Curious to see how many lenders he can raise contributions from with his Student loan rules.

    1. km

      Curious, nothing. Biden already knew the answer to that before he introduced the bill.

      Man don’t do nothing for free, yo.

    2. albrt

      This could be like a Chuck Norris meme.

      Joe Biden is so intellectually curious, he wonders how gullible Wapo and NYT reporters actually are.

  5. Charles Dunaway

    “We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century.” What exactly would it mean to “win” a century? Certainly destroying the planet with a nuclear war would at least insure that no one would be left to say the US lost, but that seems extreme, even for the intellectually curious Biden.

    Besides capitalism, particularly finance capitalism, does not believe in competition, it believes in eliminating competition and that’s what the ruling elites are attempting to do. The US could compete with China in manufacturing, sustainable energy, high-speed rail, computer chips, or any number of other industries, but those competitions carry the risk of losing. Sanctions, brinkmanship and if necessary, war are preferable.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Or the US could protect itself against China behind a Wall of Protection, and not bother competing at all.
      Given that “competing” means imposing Chinese wages on Americans, Chinese anti-standards of anti-safety, melamine in the milk, lead paint on all the toys, antibiotics and chemical waste in all the honey, etc. etc.

      1. Lee

        Truly. America’s unrealized competitive advantage is it’s capacity for near complete autarky.

        1. John

          We had the advantage of that near complete autarky until we frittered it away so the FIRE folk could hoover up all the money in the world … at least that is their goal. If that goal is realized, what will the money be worth?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            We didn’t fritter it away. The International Free Trade Conspirator frittered it away ” for” us. Many of us objected at the time.

            Americans who disagree with Social ClassNazi objectives should give up this silly and fantasy-based Royal We in discussing what “America” did or does or what “America” wanted or wants. It is undignified to identify yourselves with your Social Class Enemies.

            Americans who believe in Survival Through Protectionism will get farther with the initial mental and cultural stages of seeding and growing a movement if they stop talking about ” we” and start talking about the Social ClassNazi Occupation Regime that us live under.

            “Us”? Yeah . . . “us”. There is no “we”. There is only ” us” and “them”. I suppose those people who are Stockholm-Syndrome self-hatingly stupid enough to think that there really is a “we” . . . . are the “we” of whom they speak. Other than that, there is no “we”.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > competitive advantage is it’s capacity for near complete autarky

          Assuming we have the operational capacity, yes. (Seems like deskilling and killing off vast swaths of the working class wasn’t ideal in retrospect, but who could have known?)

  6. Alfred

    “Hmm. I could use an example of Biden’s intellectual curiousity.”

    We wouldn’t want to give “the Administration that looks like America” a heart attack, now, would we?

    1. RMO

      Name another US president that was curious enough about the rest of the world that he not only read but plagiarized a speech by a UK Labour politician:-)

      1. The Rev Kev

        Biden was very sorry at the time. He went to his staff who had found that speech for him and told them that they had nothing to fear but fear itself.


    Trump Spawned a New Group of Mega-Donors Who Now Hold Sway Over the GOP’s Future” [ProPublica].
    Elephants in the room indeed. If USA has become an oligarchy – and I think it has – then it is exactly the donor class rich who are most responsible, and who need to be counteracted, or…. well, there are some awfully terrible scenarios I’m sure they want to avoid at all COSTS.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      At this point the only cure for them would be to round them all up and physically exterminate them. And since we are all good left wingers here, we should certainly advocate good left-wing methods. Do it the way Stalin did it.

      1. hunkerdown

        In general, I prefer Mao’s method of solving the local knowledge problem in justice by simply delivering them to the masses to impose such sanctions as they see fit, on a case-by-case basis. In fact, I can’t think of anyone in the mainstream media clique (other than a sparing few blue checks on twitter) that wouldn’t improve the universe by going the same way. You wrote the byline, but we write the bye-line.

  8. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

    (economic historian Jonathan Levy) shows how statesmen have always steered the course of U.S. capitalism, with stark implications for inequality, social mobility, ideas of citizenship, and popular views of the responsibilities of government and business.

    Doesn’t that imply that what we have now is on purpose? Are all the homeless encampments, school to prison pipelines, gig jobs, overpriced rentals, environmental degradation, frankenfoods, 64 oz sodas, indentured agricultural servants, plastic vacuum cleaners that last a year, $100K luxury performance green cars, etc., just all part of the plan?

    1. Grebo

      All those things are on purpose, but there is no plan as such. They are just the inevitable outcome of the way “we” have chosen to incentivise certain approaches and preclude others.

      We often say to ourselves “that’s insane, how is it allowed to continue?” and the answer is always that someone with too much influence is benefitting from it.

      1. jsn

        I have to disagree. De-institutionalization was deliberate policy. Ending welfare was a deliberate policy. Defunding the public sphere in general, infrastructure, public health, basic research, the IRS, the EPA, FEMA, the CDC, all of these were deliberate policy. Shipping manufacturers off shore was deliberate policy. Paying corporate middlemen extravagantly for a crappified facsimile of all of these was policy and its all worked as intended for those who paid for it.

        This is exactly what Thatcher and Reagan set out to do and explicitly said so at the time: “there is no such thing as society, only individuals “, and “government is the problem, not the solution.” Freedom was explicitly for business, people be damned.

        All the problems government once solved were deliberately unsolved in order that those problems could flourish because those problems government had solved made it almost impossible to amass obscene wealth.

        1. rowlf

          The last politician to try to sell the picked over national estate is the loser? /s

        2. Grebo

          Thatcher, at least, was a true believer in a utopian delusion. She really thought doing all that would make the world better. The parasites didn’t care about that, they just jumped on the gravy train. Then took the controls. Their only plan is to get richer, the end of civilisation is an unintended side effect. They can’t even see it happening from their mansions in the Hamptons.

        3. rowlf

          Can someone construct a phrase in German for the last politician to try to benefit by selling state assets but the cupboard is empty? We may need it soon.

  9. Glen

    Regarding chip manufacturing and manufacturing in general-

    It used to be fairly common that companies of certain sizes would have in house fab facilities for making the unique chips that they designed and used in their products. That is why all of the major manufacturers had electronic companies such as Motorcraft, AC Delco, etc. Fluke Electronics was just down the road from where I worked, and they ran an in-house fab line for years where they too made chips. These did not have to be the super high end fab facilities which now predominate because 90% of the products out there do not require that level of sophistication.

    In house manufacturing was all part of the concept of vertical integration which was best epitomized by Ford’s River Rogue plant where raw materials rolled in one end and finished Model T’s rolled out the other:


    American companies has been walking away from vertical integration for a long, long time. This was a move towards reducing cost, reducing R&D, reducing inventory, reducing employees as part of implementing “just in time” manufacturing. Ultimately, it was about reducing manufacturing. It’s telling that America’s giants, Walmart and Amazon are experts at selling, warehousing, and shipping, not manufacturing.

    Why did this happen? I’m not entirely sure, but it was fascinating to watch American CEOs like Jack Welch get incredibly wealthy by essentially de-industrializing their companies and turn into extensions of Wall St which profited by creative bookkeeping rather than just plain old “making stuff”.

    Elon Musk, like him or not, has actually spent the majority of his efforts at “making stuff”, and has bemoaned the fact that so many of America’s best technical people get sucked into working on Wall St where they will get wealthy figuring out how to trade millions of stock shares in microseconds rather than that old fashion idea of “making stuff” to advance society. His comments on manufacturing are even more telling:

    “What I meant was that designing a production system for a product is one or two orders of magnitude harder than designing the prototype product. In recent years, we place less importance on manufacturing. That’s a mistake.”

    “Designing a rocket is trivial. There’s tons of books that will tell you exactly how to do it. Piece of cake.”

    “When you want to actually make one and get it to work, that is hard. Making many is extremely hard. Creating a fully optimized high volume production system is the hardest.”

    As an engineer who has worked in manufacturing for forty plus years, it was easy to see that as American CEOs gave our technology, factories and jobs to other countries that in ten or twenty years, the people doing the manufacturing would surpass America.

      1. Glen

        Nice link! This is a very accurate depiction of much of my “lived” work experience since the early 80’s.


        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Thank you for the kind words.

          Now . . . . in the off-the-timeclock part of our lives in which we do our shopping and consuming, how can we know just from the quality of the thing or service we are inspecting or using, whether the same decay process has set in with the makers of that thing or the do-ers of that service? If there were a way to know, then we could preferentially buy the thing or service from the less outsourced and auto-enstupidized provider/supplier.

          And if there were some small areas where we could actually make/grow/do our own thing/service, we could certainly avoid self-enstupidization of that small area of personal subsistence production/ subsistence-self-service.

          And perhaps we could learn enough about how enstupidization-prevention or detection works so as to know what laws and rules to work for or against in society to stop the fast-forwarding of outsourcing knowledge and selfsourcing dummness?

          1. Glen

            I have given some thought on how best to answer this since it is important.

            For now, the short answer. Do not shop at Amazon or Walmart if you can avoid it. Use Amazon to find your product, and THEN look for their web page and buy it from that. Generally, the smaller companies will provide information of what they do, and where they do it. They are rather proud to be making it in America, and they should be!

            If you can – drive to their company and buy it right there.

            If you have a local alternative – shop there.

            This is all pretty obvious, the harder part is how we get our local cities, counties, states, and finally country to embrace the same principles. And what small companies/manufacturing could we launch locally to start to bring manufacturing back? And what laws could we pass to do the same?

  10. Gulag

    Attention all libertarians/Marxists/neo-liberals:

    In his new book Jonathan Levy argues “…that the long arcs of transformation development in U.S. history have never spontaneously arisen from the market.”

    This presently existing and historical intertwinement of the American state with almost everything else in American society demands a reconceptualization of strategies of reform or even revolution.

    Has American state infrastructure policy and as well as its more coercive military and intelligence agency power long been a primary part of the status quo through the historical interpenetration of public and private spheres?

    Has the role of the American state in the actual creation of the private corporate/economic sphere long been greatly underestimated?

  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    Catala? No one at the Central Committee to Give the Platform a Groovy Name thought of the problems of using the word Catala when the Catalan language (I detect some likenesses here) uses català, catalana as the adjectives describing the language.

    I can hardly wait for the searches. U.S. lawyers earnestly scouring the WWW for laws, yet the result is that one ends up at restaurant reviews in Barcelona. I’ll take the sustenance from Barcelona.

    Next up? A search engine named Englis.

    1. R

      That Catala project is foolish.

      Goedel’s Theorem (which is pop culture famous, probably level with Fermat’s last theorem, at least, if not as famous as relativity) states that (to paraphrase) any strong(*) system of formal reasoning will contain valid propositions that are undecidable (* this word is doing some careful heavy lifting but, while it came from his enquiries into mathematical logic, it essentially applies any idealised general purpose computer, Turing machine etc).

      I wrote a dissertation for my postgraduate law degree on how the legal positivists were doomed in their approach to reduce legal reasoning to logic and axioms because Goedel’s theorem means that either they are building mere toy systems, capable of reasoning fully about narrow matters or they are building general systems that are not reliable / deterministic. That was 25 years ago and the logic has not changed.

      Catala appears to be a toy, for taking algorithms expressed in legal English and turning them into logical statements. Not exactly useful and probably less useful than the corresponding flow chart would have been.

      As an aside, note the invocation of the F* proof assistant. This is another “turtles all the way down” field. There are still formal systems computer scientists labouring away to produce provably correct code, despite the fact that Goedel’s Theorem suggests the task is impossible unless you have crippled your formal system’s computational generality to the point of a toy.

      Goedel is far more dangerous than Nietzsche. He killed not God but certainty. He also died too paranoid to eat. It doesn’t pay to think too hard about the meaning of things!

      1. Grebo

        If you can’t prove the charge you must acquit!

        I’m looking forward to reading the catala paper tonight. As a programmer I have found reading laws frustrating due to the backwards way they are often structured. Why didn’t you tell me those two pages of gobbledegook don’t apply to me before you made me read them?!

        It doesn’t have to be perfect to be better.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I found it interesting they found in a bug in the prose statute. Surely that is useful (as are all the formal systems we use that contain undecidable propositions, starting (I suppose) with theology…).

      2. Duke of Prunes

        I took a class in college where we spent at least a week trying to formalizing the statement “just lawyers like just lawyers” with relational calculus. Each day, the prof would work through the problem. Next class, the same guy would point out flaws in the design and the prof (and bright student) would work it out again… until the next class.

        I’m ashamed to say I dropped the class.

  12. DJG, Reality Czar

    Surely, this observation by the esteemed Lambert Strether was meant as a challenge:

    “I’d put Hawley nearer Santorum than, say…. Bob Dole, and that’s something I didn’t expect. If Hawley wants to be President, he’s got to look like one.”

    Using the Dan Savage definition of Santorum, one may wonder about Hawley’s chances at making the presidency, which didn’t work out well for Rick, once he became a national laughing stock.

    1. John

      I cannot take Hawley seriously; he gives a juvenile raised fist just before that insurrection/riot/ demonstration/aw shucks, we’re just havin’ fun and continues to stir every promising pot as publicly as possible. For me; all hat, no cattle.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > he gives a juvenile raised fist just before that insurrection/riot/ demonstration/aw shucks…

        Yep. You don’t get to be that gravitas-free. I don’t care that Stoller thinks he’s good on antitrust.

  13. Dalepues

    The Ever Given and the Monstrosity of Maritime Capitalism. Not mentioned in the review is Malcolm Purcell McLean, the North Carolina farmer’s son who practically invented the shipping container.

    His NYT obit: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/29/nyregion/m-p-mclean-87-container-shipping-pioneer.html

    Also, Wiki has a article on M.P. Mclean. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcom_McLean

    Forbes Magazine called McLean “one of the few men who changed the world.”[16]

  14. Lee

    “The complexities:

    Guy who invented the clock: there will be 12 numbers on it…”

    Had a cognitive functioning check up awhile back and one of the tests was to draw a clock face and designate a particular time of day. Now, I’m an old guy, so I grew up with clock faces. But like most everyone else these days, I’ve grown used to reading time displayed numerically. I had to stop a moment and give the matter a ponder before completing the task. At what point in time will those taking the test ask, “what’s a clock face?”

  15. IMOR

    Re: Starlink
    I would still have denied Musk approval for it, but Starlink is the direct, owned rdsult of a corrjpt hands-in-each-others’ pockets (moving with steady, increasing rapidity) among ghe FCC, FTC, and gge big carrieds going back 24 years to allow the latter to simply keep billions of dollars in subsidies intended to build meaningful net access out to rural/mountainous areas of the U.S. with nary a word of redirection, let alone penalty.
    The two Starlink-beta using homeowners I personally know are all aboard for the next phase, and 15-24 years in, you can’t blame them.

  16. upstater

    Well, Sheldon Silver is headed back to the big house. The US Attorneys office told the court they opposed home confinement for the convicted criminal.


    His return to prison came after the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which prosecuted Silver’s case, said it had notified the Bureau of Prisons that it had opposed Silver’s release.

    The Federal Bureau of Prisons didn’t provide details or a reason for the transfer earlier this week, but Congress gave the Justice Department expanded powers during the coronavirus pandemic to release inmates on furlough and home confinement to prevent them from catching the virus behind bars.

    Silver’s supporters have said he is in failing health and suffering from multiple medical conditions that make him more susceptible to contracting coronavirus.

    Rabbi Akiva Homnick, who accompanied Silver home earlier this week, said he was focusing on Silver’s health and would not answer other questions about his return to prison.

    Poor Sheldon.

  17. allan

    COVID-19 has caused 6.9 million deaths globally, more than double what official reports show
    [UW IHME]

    Globally, COVID-19 has caused approximately 6.9 million deaths, more than double what official numbers show, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. IHME found that COVID-19 deaths are significantly underreported in almost every country. The updated analysis shows that the United States has had more COVID-19 deaths to-date than any other country, a total of more than 905,000. By region, Latin America and the Caribbean and Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia were hardest hit in terms of total deaths. This figure only includes deaths caused directly by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, not deaths caused by the pandemic’s disruption to health care systems and communities. …

    IHME estimated total COVID-19 deaths by comparing anticipated deaths from all causes based on pre-pandemic trends with the actual number of all-cause deaths during the pandemic. This “excess mortality” figure was then adjusted to remove deaths indirectly attributable to the pandemic (for example, due to people with non-COVID conditions avoiding health care facilities) as well as deaths averted by the pandemic (for example, declines in traffic deaths due to lower mobility). …

    I had been wondering about this.
    Was the COVID-19 death toll, as previously reported, suppressed by having reduced flu deaths to near zero?
    Yes. From the actual study:

    … Our approach to estimating the total COVID-19 death rate is based on measurement of the excess death rate during the pandemic week by week compared to what would have been expected based on past trends and seasonality. However, the excess death rate does not equal the total COVID-19 death rate. Excess mortality is influenced by six drivers of all-cause mortality that relate to the pandemic and the social distancing mandates that came with the pandemic. These six drivers are: a) the total COVID-19 death rate, that is, all deaths directly related to COVID-19 infection; b) the increase in mortality due to needed health care being delayed or deferred during the pandemic; c) the increase in mortality due to increases in mental health disorders including depression, increased alcohol use, and increased opioid use; d) the reduction in mortality due to decreases in injuries because of general reductions in mobility associated with social distancing mandates; e) the reductions in mortality due to reduced transmission of other viruses, most notably influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and measles; and f) the reductions in mortality due to some chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease, that occur when frail individuals who would have died from these conditions died earlier from COVID-19 instead. To correctly estimate the total COVID-19 mortality, we need to take into account all six of these drivers of change in mortality that have happened since the onset of the pandemic. …

    1. Cuibono

      You do know that UW IHME gained some notoriety for failing so badly at modelling?

    1. tegnost

      I could be wrong but I don’t think commercial RE is sliced, diced, securitized, and derivated to the same degree MBS were back in the aughts

    2. Basil Pesto

      Yves gave this short shrift last week when the Grim/Intercept story came up, though I can’t recall the reasoning.

    3. Yves Smith

      This is about as wrong as you can get.

      First, there was a CMBS crash in 2008. Did any one notice? No, because the holders were investors, not banks. Oh, and CMBS, unlike RMBS, are designed to be restructured, so the consequences when they get in trouble are less bad than RMBS. Oh, and it’s a much smaller market too.

      Second, the reason the crisis was a crisis was not RMBS but “derivatives” (credit default swaps) written on RMBS. That created double (or more!) leverage and also had banks exposed to that much more toxic risk via CDOs. Explained in full detail in Chapter 9 of ECONNED. The derivatives written on the much bigger subprime market were 4-6x the real economy value of the subprime.

      Third, bank holdings of actual commercial mortgages are >4x the value of the entire CMBS market. If you are gonna worry about something worry about the right thing.

  18. albrt

    “If the Arizona Republicans had the stones, they’d be suing Dominion for the source code for their proprietary software.”

    Arizonan here. I know it’s a bad thing to write off half the population as deplorable, but in Arizona that’s where we are. The Republican caucus has plenty of stones, but they simply do not have the collective brain cells to process the concept of “source code.” They had to hire an out-of-state consultant to come up with the concept that you could identify ballots of Asian origin by looking for bamboo fibers.

    They really are that stupid. It isn’t going to get better no matter who wins any future election, and there’s nothing you or I can do about it.

  19. Coldhearted Liberal

    Surprised no one has mentioned that the Arizona “audit” seems a violation of Bush v. Gore, which said you cant do a partial recount in one area of a state (as I remember but its been a while).

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I mean it was a farcical ruling. Memory is the Supremes (the bad ones) even noted it shouldn’t serve as precedence ever.

      1. Coldhearted Liberal

        You are correct, but it has been used as precedent by many other cases afterwards despite what SCOTUS said.

  20. tegnost

    Like a breakaway in a defensive battle in a soccer match. No one one can make it past the media wall…but wait! A gap! The striker is through! no one can catch him! He shoots! He Scores!!!!!!!
    oops reply to skippy

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