2:00PM Water Cooler 6/1/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, as usual on the weekend, I collected so much it was hard to sort. More shortly. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day~

A vague association with honey badger, I suppose…

* * *


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:

Well, scraping the bottom of those diminishing returns. Nevertheless…

Case count by United States regions:

Continued good news, even a little dip in the cases. The United States really is doing pretty well on vaccination now (and the media, well, propaganda that we’ve licked this thing is really overwhelming). But take a look at this map:

The rest of the world is not doing well, at all. And the experience of the UK tells us that the entire unvaccinated world is a breeding ground for variants. When I look at the United States, I see a single point of failure: Vaccines. We don’t have any significant entry controls at our airports, so international transmission is a given. The Biden Administration essentially dissed Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions, presumably for a bump in the polls; NPIs are doing to be very difficult to put in place again, especially given that the Biden Administration never said they were a reason we “beat’ the virus, or praised those who were disciplined in adhering to them. The vaccines EUA disincentivises the search for treatments (e.g., Ivermectin). And we have no testing or contract tracing worthy of the name. We bet the farm on vaccines, and only vaccines. What happens if the bet goes sour? I look at that map, and the phrase “Fool’s Paradise” comes to mind. I hope I’m wrong!

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

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

More good news.

Hospitalization (CDC):

More good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

More good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

Given that Miami is the capital of Latin America, that’s a region worth watching.

* * *


“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

“Anthony Fauci’s pandemic emails: ‘All is well despite some crazy people in this world’” [WaPo]. “As the coronavirus pandemic engulfed the world last spring, Science magazine quoted a top Chinese health official saying that the United States and other Western nations were making a ‘big mistake’ by not telling people to mask up. The official, George Gao, worried that the comment might upset his longtime friend Anthony S. Fauci, Washington’s leading expert on infectious diseases. So amid the deepening crisis, Gao reached out to clear the air. ‘I saw the Science interview, how could I say such a word ‘big mistake’ about others? That was journalist’s wording. Hope you understand,’ Gao, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote to Fauci in a March 28 email. ‘Lets work together to get the virus out of the earth.'” • With friends like these….

UPDATE “Vice President Harris’ team tries to distance her from fraught situation at the border” [CNN]. “In the weeks since the President asked her to take charge of immigration from Central America, Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff have sought to make one thing clear: She does not manage the southern border…. Biden announced Harris’ new assignment on March 24 ahead of an immigration meeting in the White House State Dining Room… After the announcement, Harris’ aides appeared to “panic,” according to one of the officials, out of concern that her assignment was being mischaracterized and could be politically damaging if she were linked to the border, which at the time was facing a growing number of arrivals. But another White House official pushed back on the sentiment, saying the vice president’s team wasn’t panicked. One of the officials said Harris appears eager for a portfolio that will allow her to achieve political victories, especially in foreign policy, an area where she is far less experienced than Biden. Instead, Republican critics and the media have portrayed her new immigration role as a border assignment, potentially opening her up to criticism for the handling of the seemingly intractable problem. Harris’ performance is critical to her future political career, which could well include a run for president. It’s also of special concern right now as she prepares to depart for a trip to Guatemala and Mexico next week as part of this project. It will be her first official foray into in-person, in-country talks about the troubles that push Central American migrants toward the US. Harris and her staff have made it clear that they want to focus narrowly on diplomatic efforts in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where they believe they are more likely to achieve tangible results in addressing the root causes of migration, like economic despair, said the officials.”

UPDATE Thought balloon: “Is he dead yet?”

I’m coming to dislike Harris’s smile as much as I dislike some President’s voices. She has a lovely smile. But these are not lovely people.

UPDATE CrowdStrike, eh?

And, of course, Paladin….

Democrats en Deshabille

“Democrats Are Running Out of Time” [Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic]. “nxiety is growing among a broad range of civil-rights, democracy-reform, and liberal groups over whether Democrats are responding with enough urgency to the accelerating Republican efforts to both suppress voting and potentially overturn future Democratic election victories…. In a conference call with reporters last week, Beto O’Rourke, the 2018 Democratic Senate candidate in Texas, didn’t mince words when I asked him whether the White House and Democratic congressional leaders are showing sufficient concern about the GOP’s moves. ‘The short answer is no,’ he told me. He said he’s confident that Biden will eventually speak out more forcefully. But, O’Rourke added, ‘This is the Voting Rights Act of our time. To pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act, President [Lyndon B.] Johnson used all of the political capital he had … We need that level of moral clarity from the president. Bring this country together, and connect the dots for all of us.'” • Total West Wing Brain to think that Biden can do the “moral clarity” speech (because on the West Wing, it’s always a speech). And Beto lets the cat out of the bag, too: If H.R 1 will really take “all of the political capital” Biden has, is that how we wants to spend it?

NOTE Google is doing its censorship thing again. I was searching for the post I wrote on H.R. 1, the “For the People Act”:

The only hit that came up had “For the People” buried in a note. However, the post I wanted — “H.R.1 (the “For the People Act”) Legitimizes WaPo’s McCarthy-ite PropOrNot “Reporting,” Institutionalizes Ballot Marking Devices, and Cripples Minor Parties” — does not appear in Google’s results, although it is the first hit in Bing. I suggest that is because “PropOrNot” is in the title (as opposed to the text, as in the hit that did come up). The degree of mutual in-the-tank-ness in the political class is stunning. (This is also why it’s no longer possible to use Google as a research tool; it’s so crapified it can’t even find posts you are 100% sure that you wrote.)

UPDATE When you’ve lost Oliver Willis:

UPDATE Ka-ching:


Reminds me of Emily Cain, of Orono, ME where the state university is (Town motto: “We’re smarter than you!”) who got trounced by Bruce Poliquin in 2016, and failed upward to become head of… Emily’s List!

Republican Funhouse

UPDATE “Arizona GOP boasts 1 million ballots counted in Maricopa County audit” [Denver Gazette]. “Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, talked about the progress of the controversial review in a Memorial Day video posted to Twitter and addressed a report that the GOP-led legislature is considering yet another recount that goes beyond the current examination of ballots specifically for the Senate and presidential election. ‘As for ‘America’s Audit,’ counting continues today, and the latest total has hit 1 million ballots evaluated and hand-counted. That’s in large part due to more volunteer counters in place, and that gets us to nearly 50% of the 2.1 million 2020 ballots cast in Maricopa County,’ Ward said. The audit, which is being led by firm Cyber Ninjas and has been taking place in Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix since April with a one-week break for high school graduations, is still expected to finish in late June, she added.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“If the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis is true, expect a political earthquake” [Thomas Frank, Guardian]. “We don’t know the real answer yet, and we probably will never know, but this is the moment to anticipate what such a finding might ultimately mean. What if this crazy story turns out to be true? The answer is that this is the kind of thing that could obliterate the faith of millions. The last global disaster, the financial crisis of 2008, smashed people’s trust in the institutions of capitalism, in the myths of free trade and the New Economy, and eventually in the elites who ran both American political parties. In the years since (and for complicated reasons), liberal leaders have labored to remake themselves into defenders of professional rectitude and established legitimacy in nearly every field. In reaction to the fool Trump, liberalism made a sort of cult out of science, expertise, the university system, executive-branch ‘norms,’ the ‘intelligence community,’ the State Department, NGOs, the legacy news media, and the hierarchy of credentialed achievement in general. Now here we are in the waning days of Disastrous Global Crisis #2. Covid is of course worse by many orders of magnitude than the mortgage meltdown — it has killed millions and ruined lives and disrupted the world economy far more extensively. Should it turn out that scientists and experts and NGOs, etc. are villains rather than heroes of this story, we may very well see the expert-worshiping values of modern liberalism go up in a fireball of public anger.” • Unfortunately for liberal Democrats, only Republicans can tell this story. All the more reason, then, for Biden’s intelligence community investigation — due in roughly sixty days — to either (a) try to put the toothpaste back in the tube, or (b) blame China. I don’t see how they can deliver a report that says (c) “I guess we’ll never know.” I imagine The Blob, in its invisible internal workings, is furiously fighting itself to see whether (a) or (b) prevails. If (a) wins, a good half the country doesn’t believe them. If (b) wins, a good half of the world. I don’t see, hashing this out with Yves, that the Chinese people would greet (b) with “sweets and flowers,” as the lunatics who brought us Iraq seemed to legitimately believe, lunatics that they were.

UPDATE “Iowa flap raises fears of politicized local election offices” [Associated Press]. “It had been eight years since a Republican candidate even stepped forward to challenge Democrat Roxanna Moritz as the top elections official in Scott County, Iowa. Running unopposed in 2016 and 2020, Moritz had become, over her four terms as auditor, the top vote-getter ever in this swing-voting county along the Mississippi River, the third most-populous in the state. Moritz’s abrupt resignation last month came after months of tension that degenerated into personal attacks and threats of violence. Her departure and partisan moves since then are signs that an office long viewed as nonpartisan is now fair game in the political fight about trust in the nation’s elections.”

UPDATE “The Effect of Social Media on Elections: Evidence from the United States” [NBER]. “We study how social media affects election outcomes in the United States. We use variation in the number of Twitter users across counties induced by early adopters at the 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, a key event in Twitter’s rise to popularity. We show that this variation is unrelated to observable county characteristics and electoral outcomes before the launch of Twitter. Our results indicate that Twitter lowered the Republican vote share in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, but had limited effects on Congress elections and previous presidential elections. Evidence from survey data, primary elections, and a text analysis of millions of tweets suggests that Twitter’s relatively liberal content may have persuaded voters with moderate views to vote against Donald Trump.” • So naturally liberal Democrats had to ruin a good thing because they’ve fallen in love with censorship.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Manufacturing PMI was revised higher to 62.1 in May of 2021 from a preliminary of 61.5 and above 60.5 in April. The reading pointed to another record growth in factory activity, supported by stronger expansions in output and new orders, with the pace of the latter reaching the fastest on record. Nonetheless, constraints on production capacity were exacerbated further during the month, as severe supply-chain disruptions led to a marked accumulation of backlogs of work and one of the fastest rises in input prices since data collection began in May 2007. ”

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI rose to 61.2 in May of 2021 from 60.7 in April, beating market forecasts of 60.9 and pointing to slightly stronger growth in factory activity. New orders (67 vs 64.3) and a backlog of orders (70.6 vs 68.2) accelerated and inventories rebounded (50.8 vs 46.5) while employment was at the lowest level since November (50.9 vs 55.1) and price pressures remained elevated (88 vs 89.6).”

Manufacturing: “United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas decreased 2.4 points from the previous month to 34.9 in May of 2021. The new orders index came in at 20.8, down from 38.5 in April but more than triple the series average of 6.3. Similarly, the growth rate of orders index came in at 19.5, down from 32.3 but still elevated. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, fell 18 points to 15.7, a reading still well above average and indicative of healthy output growth. The capacity utilization index remained high, though it slipped from 34.6 to 23.2, and the shipments index fell from 32.6 to 18.3.” • “Slipped”?

Housing: “CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) home prices recorded a 13% annual gain, the highest since February 2006.” [Econintersect]. “CoreLogic’s Home Price Index (HPI) home prices recorded a 13% annual gain, the highest since February 2006…. Home prices are continuing to rise being exasperated by low inventory.” • ”Exacerbated”? Maybe not!

* * *

Retail: “These uniquely Texan canned craft cocktails boomed after launching during the pandemic” [CNBC]. • ”Canned craft cocktails.” Help me.

The Bezzle: “Uber and Lyft Experiment with Labor Practices Amid Driver Shortage” [The Markup]. “The tweaks are largely designed to do two things: make sure passengers get a ride when they want one and get drivers to accept more rides, including complicated or low-paying ones that they might not want. In California, where Castellanos lives, Uber removed the ability for drivers to set their own surge prices, and it changed the way it calculates its own take of the fare from a 25 percent fee to ‘variable.’ To Castellanos’s chagrin, Uber also stopped showing drivers information about prospective rides—like fare, destination, and distance—unless drivers have accepted five out of the last 10 offered trips. Uber first started showing that information to drivers as part of an ultimately successful $220 million ballot measure campaign in California to classify drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Now, the company has rolled back these features in an attempt to get drivers to accept more rides.” • Big ups to Silicon Valley project managers and software engineers for screwing the workers. After all, anybody who was at a whiteboard could easily see what was being done….

The Economy: Big if true:

I hate the feeling of being talked into something. On the other hand, those manufacturing numbers…

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 33 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 1 at 12:06pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on earthquakes. “It has been several months since a quake has caused major damage in any zone” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

Health Care

UPDATE “The Covid Vaccine Is Free, but Not Everyone Believes That” [New York Times]. “‘This is America — your health care is not free,’ said Elizabeth Drummond, a 42-year-old mother in Oregon who is unvaccinated. ‘I just feel like that is how the vaccination process is going to go. They’re going to try to capitalize on it.’ … When [Tiffany Addotey, a 42-year-old school bus driver in North Carolina] was informed that federal law makes the vaccine free for all Americans, she responded, ‘So I’ll just have to pay my co-pay?'” • Deplorable!

“A Sociologist’s Methodology for Pandemic Predictions and Public Health Messaging – An interview with Dr. Zeynep Tufekci” [Open Forum Infectious Diseases]. From March, a podcast transcript; Tufecki’s personal Covid timeline: “By January 7th, I thought, ‘Oh, let me order some masks’ because I also wanted to go back to Hong Kong. At that point, I still don’t know what the depth of the crisis is, but I thought, ‘I’m going to order some masks and I’m just going to get my own pandemic readiness going.’ In fact, people who know me were like, ‘Why are you ordering hand sanitizer?’ because I’m not particularly hygiene – polite word there – obsessed. And I was ordering these supplies and people around me were like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, you hear viral pneumonia coming out of Wuhan and you hear censorship – for anybody who’s lived through SARS, it’s two and two, right, that something’s going on. But what?’ The week I knew for sure was the week of January 20th because two things happened. One, China shut down Wuhan, a city of 10 million. With studying authoritarians, a really good rule of thumb is – look at what they do, not what they say. Another rule of thumb that people might recognize from evolutionary biology is always look at costly signals. If you’re shutting down a city of 10, 11 million, you’re not just doing this randomly.” • “Costly signals” is a nice notion.

UPDATE WHO actually does something useful:

I have to disagree with Yves a little here. Previous to WHO’s action, we had three nomenclature systems for Covid genetic lineages: GISAID, Nextstrain. and Pango. That means that anybody who wanted to search the literature on a Variant of Interest or Concern had to run three searches, one for each nomenclature, obviously error prone and not a good use of time. And then which nomenclature do you use in your writeup? WHO, for once, is doing exactly what an international body should be doing: Unifying disparate standards is a public good. This rectification of names is exactly what WHO did, correctly, when they standardized 2019-nCoV to SARS-COV-2, where they announced the changeover well beforehand, and it went smoothly. (Now, it may be that they’re overly optimistic, and that we’ll run out of Greek letters….)

UPDATE Plus ça change….

If you can read the image, it’s terrific prose.

Our Famously Free Press

So that’s it:

I remember noticing a similar ratio (a power distribution?) back in the days of the blogosphere, between readers, commenters, and commenters who went on to form their own blogs.

Book Nook

“The New Literary Bad Boys” [IM 1776]. A conservative screed with a “Save the Males” subtext. Well-written, but I know none of the players, so I can’t comment. This caught my eye: “To the purist, the idea that the book has been replaced by Twitter is preposterous, but there is no doubt that the online platform, when used by literary-minded users, produces content that supersedes much of the literary fare published by mainstream publishing companies. The Twitter thread, in which a user strings along multiple tweets, is the modern version of the classic short story, a form delivering succinct epiphanic truths for an audience primed to consume content in small doses.”

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™


Neither hot dogs nor Pop Tarts™ are sandwiches.

Have a cookie biscuit:

The Agony Column

“The warped self” [Aeon]. “Concerns around social media have become mainstream, but researchers have yet to elucidate the specific cognitive mechanisms that explain the toll it takes on our psychological wellbeing. New advances in computational neuroscience, however, are poised to shed light on this matter. The architecture of some social media platforms takes the form of what some scientists are now calling ‘hyperstimulators’ – problematic digital delivery systems for rewarding and potentially addictive stimuli. According to a leading new theory in neuroscience known as predictive processing, hyperstimulants can interact with specific cognitive and affective mechanisms to produce precisely the sorts of pathological outcomes we see emerging today….. Living well, in predictive processing terms, means being able to effectively manage uncertainty – and that’s predicated on having a generative model that represents the world accurately… Social media is a spectacularly effective method for warping our generative models. It overloads them with bad evidence about both the world around us and who we are. The space between being and appearing is potentially vast – with a few swipes, we can dramatically alter our appearance, or retake the same picture 20 times until our face exudes precisely the calm mastery of life we wish to project. As social media platforms develop features that allow us to present ourselves inauthentically, those platforms become all the more powerful bad-evidence generators, flooding the predictive systems of their users with inaccurate information, telling us that the world is full of impossibly beautiful, happy people, living wonderfully luxurious and leisurely lives.” • Hmm. I don’t see a way to outlaw any of that. I guess we have to break up the platforms into bits. (NOTE: I recall certain oddities in blogosphere days, but nothing, nothing like what social media does.

Groves of Academe

“10 rules to survive in the marvelous but sinuous world of academia” [Elsevier (!)]. “I came up with my own functional classification that applies to any stratum of the hierarchical classification, particularly to the IPs:

  • People who are always pushing the limits, Pioneers. A pioneer, according the Cambridge Dictionary, is a person who is one of the first to do something, who goes to a new area and builds a house, starts a farm, etc. In science, a pioneer is a person who is always trying to push the limits, always seeking new horizons, always opening new lines. Usually, these people fight strongly for the survival of their research group. To be in a place where the boss is like that a pioneer is a guarantee of better survival in this world.
  • Those who work in established ways and established areas. These people are hard workers but not especially imaginative in terms of looking for new idea or business models. To be in a group like this could be fine to survive but never to be outstanding. Settlers. This is a person who arrives in a new place in order to live there and use the land, according to the Cambridge dictionary. In science, a settler is usually a hard worker but not especially imaginative in terms of looking for new business models or ideas. To be in a settler group could be fine to survive, but never to be outstanding.
  • Those who don’t drive to improve things. Livestock. These are “animals and birds that are kept on a farm, such as cows, sheep or chickens,” per the Cambridge Dictionary. I know it sounds cruel, but in academia, there are many people who play this role. They could be engaged in any kind of project. Sometimes they act as useful people; sometimes they are only a number to grow the critical mass in a certain project. They could be here or there, it does not matter. They are necessary for the survival of the system, but they do not possess any initiative, any driving force to improve something. Sometimes the IP also belongs to this group. Keep this in mind before joining a group with such a leader.

And the Editor’s note, which accounts for the deletions:

Editor’s note: This post conveys the advice of a professor sharing his own reflections and experiences in academia. In response to your feedback, we have updated some of the language to better reflect our values of inclusivity. In the interest of transparency, we have left the original text so you can see how the article was revised.

“Settlers” being an especially unfortunate term just now. It’s telling, I think, that the editor(s) who wrote the note didn’t read the piece carefully enough to make sure that the acronym “IP” — Intellectual Property? Internet Protocol? Surely not Principal Investigator? — wasn’t expanded on first use. Do any reader know what it means?

Class Warfare

“In wealthy Loudoun County, Virginia, parents face threats in battle over equity in schools:” [NBC]. “On March 12, members of the private Facebook group ‘Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County’ began to compile names. The group’s members in Loudoun County, Virginia — one of the last school districts in the United States to desegregate, where white students now make up less than half of total enrollment — were concerned about growing opposition to diversity and equity programs in the local public schools. They believed other parents were spreading false claims about these initiatives, and so a handful of members started a list of these opponents as a way of tracking the claims and countering them. One member of the anti-racist group suggested infiltrating or hacking the websites of groups opposed to diversity programs. Screenshots leaked almost immediately. Parents who had been named as opponents of school diversity initiatives called the sheriff’s office to complain. … The conflict in this rapidly diversifying community, the wealthiest county in the country, in the outer suburbs of Washington, quickly became intertwined with political campaigns.”

“How Big Tech Is Importing India’s Caste Legacy to Silicon Valley” [Bloomberg]. “For all the [Indian Institute of Technology ‘s] proficiency at training and placing students, though, the coders, programmers, product developers, and engineers fanning out to global tech bring with them the troubled legacy of India’s caste system. On campus, students are surrounded by—and in some cases participate in—a culture of discrimination, bullying, and segregation that targets fellow pupils from India’s Scheduled Castes, also known as Dalits. The IITs officially discourage such harassment, but the prejudice against these students remains quite open. Caste in India speaks, as race does in America, to centuries of social, cultural, and economic divisions. Unlike in the U.S., though, India has since 1950 had a national system of affirmative action designed to undo the legacy of bias. Among its provisions are ones that help Dalits and other oppressed groups get into and pay for college. For nearly half a century, IIT admissions have been subject to a reservation system that’s still hotly debated on the campuses. In recent years, the schools have opposed attempts to extend affirmative action to faculty hires, arguing it would dilute the quality of the applicant pool and undermine their meritocratic image. The IITs are notoriously cutthroat, starting with the admissions process.”

News of the Wired


I hate this for the same reason I hate glass bridges in China: I think it glamorizes precarity. I mean, honestly, I’d rather be sitting in my chair in my garden than floating in this stupid pool, no matter how above-it-all that might seem.

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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. petal

    Dr. Fauci cashes in on COVID with book release on ‘TRUTH’ and appearance in Disney-backed documentary despite flip-flopping on mask-wearing and Wuhan lab theory
    “Dr. Anthony Fauci is set to release a book on COVID and appear in a new Disney-backed documentary despite being accused of multiple flip-flops on the virus.

    On Tuesday, it was revealed that the infectious disease expert, 80, will publish a tome titled ‘Expect the Unexpected: Ten Lessons on Truth, Service, and the Way Forward’. It will be released by National Geographic Books on November 2.

    Details of the top doctor’s deal with the publisher have not been made public, so it is unclear how much he may be paid for the work. Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon have listed the 80-page book for pre-order at the price of $18. Meanwhile, Fauci will also be the subject of a new ‘Disney-backed biopic’ documentary set for release later this year.

    Documentary filmmakers reportedly followed Fauci throughout 2020, capturing footage of him working as part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. E-mails obtained by The Washington Post Tuesday reveal ex-Disney boss Bob Iger was ‘extremely supportive’ of the project when it was pitched early last year. ”
    More at the link.

    1. Pat

      C’mon, if Andy Cuomo can take in a reported 4 million for his questionable Covid leadership, why shouldn’t Dr Faux Fauci rake in some big bucks.

      I mean it isn’t like anybody died while he hopscotched forward and back with politicized advice….

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I mean it isn’t like anybody died while he hopscotched forward and back with politicized advice….

        It’s not easy to hopscotch while moving the goalposts, so I give Fauci full marks.

    2. cocomaan

      80 pages? Is it a monograph? Picture book?

      Glad that we can sort out Truth in 80 pages.

      1. petal

        Maybe it’s one of those colouring books for adults? Himself on every page in a different action shot you can colour in?
        What’s it feel like to have no shame?

          1. Old Sarum

            Whatever he’s got for dealing with stress (unless he is clinically oblivious), I’ll have some.

            I currently find endorphins the go. I learned this from having to cycle to and from work. In the end it was a push-bike* or go nuts.


            *nb Boris bikes.

          2. ObjectiveFunction

            Sorry if this is a Captain Obvious remark to some here – as an expat I have been able to ignore a lot of the USA hesaidshesaidBS around Covid – but wasn’t Fauci also the ‘face’ of American officialdom during the AIDS epidemic (still going on, but now largely forgotten since it is no longer a death sentence for PMC class members)?

            … He’s kind of a curiously long-lived technocratic brand, isn’t he? Doctor Death. Almost as persistent and adaptive as the viruses themselves.

            Which puts him in the august company of central bankers like Greenspan. Even name brand generals like McCrystal and Petraeus just fade away (into well paid corporate sinecures).

        1. ambrit

          It’s a vain wind that blows no public good?
          Actually, I would not blame his ‘Family’ for the animadversions. I would more properly lay the blame at the feet of his Order. He definitely has no Class.

    3. Tom Stone

      Thank you, Petal!
      I almost gave myself a hernia laughing at that excerpt.
      Which is why it took so long to reply.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Documentary filmmakers reportedly followed Fauci throughout 2020, capturing footage of him working as part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

      So Disney was filming Fauci the whole time? To cash in later? It’s as if Rummy had a film crew following him during the Iraq War, ffs.

      Funny how the aerosol scientists who actually got it right — and got WHO and CDC to concede they were right, though naturally the same fuckups who got it wrong are still in power, also like Iraq — didn’t have how they would appear in a Disney mockumentary top-of-mind….

      1. petal

        Bang on with your Rummy comparison, Lambert, but one could argue this is even worse. Fauci is so thirsty he’s making the Kardassians look like pikers.

        He continues to spur more degradation of the confidence people have in the NIAID/NIH/CDC. Is it any wonder so many people don’t trust him or these agencies? It looks really bad. Gotta wonder about him. What a track record.

        He must be looking forward to getting tips for a job well done from all of those NPR totebag carriers that worship him. They’re flush. Nice amount to be had.

  2. Eelok

    Some very rough calculations on vaccines, which are not based on any expert opinions, and which I am entirely unqualified to make:

    The collapse in daily vaccinations should be cause for alarm. With 40% having 2 shots and 50% having at least 1, that means that with a two-dose program there are still well over 200 million shots to go to reach 80% (if that’s even the goal anymore).

    It looks like around 1.15m doses were administered yesterday, and those numbers are coming down fast. Even if it stabilizes at 1m/day, which seems unlikely, that’s well over six months to go. The recent wave in India took around 2 months to go from “we’ve beaten it!” to batshit crazy. And as has been noted here repeatedly, the US has thrown pretty much all non-vaccine measures out the window.

    A lot of factors obviously preclude a direct comparison to other countries’ experiences with 1617, but some kind of fourth wave hitting the un- and semi-vaccinated seems inevitable at this point.

    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      Is 50% the upper bound of “fully” vaccinated Americans?

      Large scale attitudes and outcomes in the USA increasingly resemble a flip of the coin to me.

      1. chris

        It’s really class based. If your area has lots of people with professional class jobs, or enough money and benefits to cover from not being a professional, you have lots of people who are vaccinated. In my part of DC/MD/VA, 62.5% of all residents have had at least one dose, 87.8% of people 65+ are fully vaccinated, and 56.2% of all residents in my county are fully vaccinated. But if you go further west, where the people don’t commute to DC or PMC type jobs, the ceiling is about 50% vaccinated with one dose.

    2. Louis Fyne

      Welcome to reaping the brave new world that we’ve sowed.

      The pre-Covid credibility of institutions was already in the toilet irrespective of whether people were left, right, or apolitical.

      Covid flushed that confidence down the drain.

      Then add in the pre-Covid scientific illiteracy (again irrespective of the public’s politics).

      I’m not holding my breath for herd immunity from vaccination

      1. ambrit

        I seed what you done. Don’t ruffle ‘C’s feathers too much.
        (My best guess is that ‘C’ is an empty nester.)

  3. zagonostra

    “but some kind of fourth wave hitting the un- and semi-vaccinated seems inevitable at this point.”

    Are you implying that those who were vaccinated are immune from CV19 as it mutates? I thought that even if you were vaccinated you were still at risk? Am I wrong?

    1. Lee

      The cases that I’m aware of via the MSM are of people becoming infected but not ill after receiving the vaccination. But I also have the feeling that there’s a lot going on that we are more or less systematically not being told, e.g. the potential effectiveness of ivermectin, which might have obviated granting the the EUA for the vaccines, with attendant financial repercussions. I will admit to the possibility of my being a bit foily on this point. We might add to this uncertainty, the not inconsequential probability that developments, such as viral mutations and their emergent properties, are outstripping our ability to analyze, understand, and effectively respond to them. Although vaccinated, I’m still using my mask, and as much as reasonably possible, avoiding indoor spaces. In my well considered inexpert opinion, this sh*t show ain’t over.

      1. Yves Smith

        I know someone who got full blown Covid after getting his second Moderna shot. Very sick for ten days. Almost went to the hospital.

        1. Lee

          Sorry to hear that, but good to know. Here in 94501 my favorite local cafe has started allowing limited indoor seating just today. I do so miss hanging out there, but I will continue to avail myself of the take out window. People are still carrying and then donning masks in proximity to others on the streets.

          1. Tom Stone

            Piner cafe?
            If you’d ever care to meet for coffee let me know, I can be found through the DRE.

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          all due respect, but how long after the second shot, any health issues, and how old? hard to evaluate without that info…

          1. Yves Smith

            50 and in perfect health except for a bum shoulder.

            Immediately after his second Moderna shot. He believes it triggered it. He said it felt like he was coughing his lungs out.

            In NYC which is mask central, about a month ago, so well after infections in NYC peaked.

            One of our MD readers has reported almost immediate Covid symptoms in a patient who had been strictly isolating for months (everything delivered to house; shot administered by a nurse in full PPE) after a shot (this one a first shot, an extremely fit man in his later 50s): sweats, gasping for air, hypoxia. Tested positive for Covid. CT chest and angiogram showed signs of Covid pneumonia. Blood ox stayed severely depressed despite lots of measures over a week to get it higher. Story got worse, not sure I am at liberty to say more.

        3. Skip Intro

          One estimate I haven’t seen is the number of spoiled vaccines (unwittingly) administered. With all the logistical challenges of such a cold cold-chain, I would expect that some shipments would be spoiled. How strong is the cold chain guarantee for these vaccines, one wonders. It would certainly be a confounding factor for measurements of breakthrough cases.

      2. Shonde

        Fascinating podcast today on the DarkHorse podcast with guest Dr.Pierre Kory. Long but full of information that might answer some of your questions about the preventative that shall not be named and the variants and also long haul and vaccination side effects. Well worth spending the time watching it.


    2. Mantid

      zagonostra, No you’re not wrong, but it’ll be hard to tell, confirm or deny. Because, the CDC no longer counts cases among the vaccinated – unless you become critical (pun intended) or die.

  4. Terry Flynn

    Groves of academe: My personal proposed rules based on 3 decades of experience:

    1. Outside of some areas of hard sciences, assume bosses are white collar psychopaths.
    2. If 1. holds, get out ASAP. Don’t whistle blow – it hurts you at least as much as perpetrators.
    3. Fight for profound changes in Faculty structures. A good start would (IMNSHO) be to move economics into the Faculty of Divinity/Religion. Only Post-Keynesian courses based on national income accounting (and by definition “true” like MMT) get to stay as an independent science.
    4. Reduce the funding for the “new Faculty” by 90%. Force all “economists” to re-apply for jobs with MMT and accountancy as the test. Plus add in prediction test (have their models predicted real events). If they fail, fire them. Cancel their pensions and benefits.
    5. Rename Economics “Political Economy”.

    Me, bitter? Maybe, but I like things that are true by definition or via mathematical proof.

    1. NotThePilot

      This actually jives a lot with how I’ve come to see academia. Let me guess: mathematical background?

      I’ve only gone through undergrad so far, but it was a weirder, more drawn-out process for me. The one upside though was that I think I got to interact with a lot of faculty and do research in ways more like a grad-student. It was definitely eye-opening. To think (at least in the US), universities are seen as “liberal” and “progressive” institutions, when under the hood, they’re maybe as close as you can get these days to genuine, medieval feudalism.

      I especially like your points 3 & 4 though. Perhaps my #1 go-to rant about economics is that anybody claiming to have a fix for America’s trade deficit is selling snake-oil unless they mention:
      A. Balance of payments and that a China-US trade imbalance must emerge so long as the US is structurally the world’s largest debtor and China its largest saver (even if you cut off all direct trade)
      B. That if the US government truly wanted to fix it, all it takes is capital controls.

      Of course, even slowly phasing in limited capital controls would take a wrecking ball to the FIRE sector, dislocate much of the economy in the short-term, and almost definitely end our current age of US dollar dominance / empire. But going to your 5th point, we’re now recognizing that none of it is really about “efficient markets” and “prosperity”, but rather power and politics.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks. Yes, Cambridge Economics (maths modules) through Health Econ (MSc) and into Med Stats PhD (extensive programming in Fortran). My post-Keynesian re-education came about in my spare time though the seeds were sown by “old school” Cambridge Fellows who wanted to be subversive and undermine the growing “neoliberal agenda” that the “Federal” University economics course had adopted.

        The “power and politics” thing was something all too few economists learn – 25% of my first year was British Economic History so I gained all sorts of insights into how “political economy” morphed into “economics” – and it was absolutely NO accident.

        1. eg

          Nor was the disappearance of the history of political economy from the economics curriculum — the better to hoodwink incoming cohorts.

      2. Procopius

        I’d rephrase your point A as, “As long as other countries want to hold U.S. Treasury bonds, the U.S. will have a trade deficit.” and B as, “The only way to fix it is to stop selling U.S. Treasury bonds.” See Jamie Galbraith.

  5. Michael

    Should there not be an option d) “we [U.S. officials with funds to disburse, waiver authorities, and an unwavering sense of infallibility] funded China’s virology research both directly and indirectly over decades and so we are also to blame,” which will of course also never be made public?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Should there not be an option d) “we [U.S. officials with funds to disburse, waiver authorities, and an unwavering sense of infallibility] funded China’s virology research both directly and indirectly over decades and so we are also to blame,” which will of course also never be made public?

      I wrote in haste. You are describing the toothpaste the intelligence community would have to put back in the tube.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    I skimmed the Tom Frank column in the Guardian, largely because he repeats what’s already out there (which is unusual for him), and what concerns me more than the lab leak is that the lab-leak hypothesis has rather suddenly erupted. It is what Wu Ming 1 (Roberto Bui) calls in his book, La Q di Qomplotto, a conspiratorial singularity. (I’ll spare you the Italian term.)

    The singularity is when certain ideas percolating in the culture erupt into conspiracy fantasies that start having effects on media, behavior, and power relations.

    I think that the lab-leak hypothesis may be a conspiracy fantasy like any other, a “solution” in search of people to blame.

    The answer to the origin of COVID-19 is that we are never going to know.

    But after so much incompetence, waste, and catastrophe, people want someone to blame. Also, Americans want certainty–when it comes to someone else. (What other group knows so well that they are destined for heaven?) I’m not persuaded that lab-leak hypothesis is more than a couple inches away from Russia Russia stealing the 2016 elections from La Clinton and Vote-Altering Machines and Mailed Ballots ruining the 2020 elections for the Republicans.

    We have wandered a long way from any fingerhold on reality, haven’t we.

    1. chris

      I’ll leave others to speak on our messed up voting system and how the worst part of the mouth frothing Republican seizures regarding the topic is that they cover up the parts that really do need to be addressed…but the weirdest part of the COVID lab leak hypothesis is how even if it’s correct it still doesn’t help the people pushing it.

      If correct, research that the US supported in a foreign country with more relaxed standards came back and hit the US. Research that we will most likely just move to a different lab if the Wuhan lab is no longer convenient or compliant. How does that help our narrative that this isn’t the fault of the people in charge?

      Also, the idea of this coming from China and therefore it’s China’s fault…we should be very careful of pushing that idea. The US and North America could very easily be the site of the next outbreak of whatever virus we have to fight off next. If the world knows of that by a name like “New York Flu” we’ll be in a really bad place. We already saw what happened when supply chains were disrupted during COVID. What happens when all of our non-domestic supply sources stop because of a legitimate concern? What happens when all of our people can’t leave the country? I’m all for learning about what happened and if there is any reason to believe the lab leak was real making sure we don’t repeat that mistake. But I’d be very careful planting the seed of the place where it came from is who is responsible for it. Not only is that something easy to manipulate for others gain it’s very hard to prove.

      Lastly, the people in charge in the US are frighteningly out of touch and do not understand why this idea has such currency. Even my favorite doctors and virologists on TWIV were mocking the people pushing the lab leak hypothesis last week. I think we’ll come to see that Michael Flynn had a John Lennon type of moment when he said that the US should have a similar revolt to the one in Myanmar. We really should see people rioting more often based on everything the ruling class has done to the country. I have no idea why they don’t. Especially since there is no greater failure of our leaders than their refusal to provide even meager aid to the least in our society, which in turn, would have protected the wealthy and powerful too!

      1. JBird4049

        I have absolutely no problem with the idea that the government and medical companies funded medical research overseas, or on any Americans who were considered disposable, because there is an extensive history of this.

        China has more lax safety standards in practice than in the United States, people who really want to make money, and technology as least as good as anything the United States has. So why not have the dangerous research done in China? And having a lab accident would not be unexpected.

        As for why there has not been more rioting, I think, is that people have lost hope, but not lost everything. They are still holding on what bits they have as well as that American Dream that’s programmed into us all. Once people have lost everything including “the Dream”, but still have their fear and rage…

        1. ambrit

          “They” are also heavily gunned up. All it will take is a competent propagandist with a charismatic front person.

          1. JBird4049

            We’re Americans, so the propaganda (AKA Bull****) also known as advertising is in our veins. Although the current neoliberal elites, like in almost everything else are increasingly incompetent in that. The Orange One was incompetent in governing.

            However, I am sure he has given people like Mike Pence ideas to merge the two, believing like Franz von Papen and the industrialists he worked with in 1933 did, that they can control or at a least work, with their chosen front man.

            For now, I do not see anyone with the charisma, intelligence, competence, and ruthlessness to become Dear President. There are still tens of millions of Americans who qualify constitutionally, and slick, empty suits like Gavin Newsom who could be excellent front men.

  7. allan

    Houston seethes over being frozen out of federal flood funds [AP]

    … Like the rest of the Houston area, East Aldine was hammered in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, which caused an estimated $125 billion in damage throughout the state but nowhere more than in the nation’s fourth-largest city and surrounding Harris County. East Aldine residents had to flee their homes through chest-high water, many carrying their children on their shoulders as they sought higher ground. The working class, predominantly Latino neighborhood that straddles Houston and unincorporated parts of the county was flooded again two years later during Tropical Storm Imelda. …

    That’s why [Shirley Ronquillo, a community activist,] and many other Houston residents were outraged when a state agency recently announced that Houston wouldn’t get a cent of the initial $1 billion in federal funding that was promised to Texas following Harvey to help pay for flood mitigation projects, including drainage improvements and the widening of bayous. The Harris County government was also iced out, though four smaller cities in the county were awarded a total of $90 million.

    The awarding of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding led to a rare show of solidarity by local Democratic and Republican officials, who condemned how the Texas General Land Office, or GLO, picked its winners and losers. Ronquillo called it a “slap in the face” to communities of color who have historically been denied assistance. …

    Faced with the criticism, Land Commissioner George P. Bush … suggested that “red tape requirements and complex regulations” under President Joe Biden’s administration were responsible for Houston and Harris County not being awarded any of the funds. …

    The grandson doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  8. fresno dan

    Nicholas A. Christakis
    May 29
    So good: “radical sandwich anarchy”: A pop tart is a sandwich.
    This augurs catastrophe – when humankind accepts poptarts as sandwiches, civilization collapses…
    Indeed, broaching the very idea in public where women and children could be exposed to it offends common decency, ethics, and all common morality.
    BTW, is a Philly cheesesteak a sandwich? I notice that the diagram did not address the variable of hot or cold. Is a hamburger a sandwich?

    1. Robert Hahl

      Wraps are not sandwiches. But hot dogs are just small subs, and, therefore, are sandwiches. Your welcome.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        No, no, there’s no such thing as a sandwich in a bun. There have to be two slices of bread-like substance. That’s also why subs and wraps aren’t sandwiches. I will die on this hill.

        1. Duck1

          Well you are obviously a numerist, insisting on two slices. What about a club sandwich?

          1. CanCyn

            What about open-face? I often do two open face sandwiches when I am really hungry, same amount of bread with twice the filling!
            Agree than hotdogs and hamburgers are not sandwiches. On the fence with wraps and subs … isn’t the full moniker submarine sandwich?

            1. Stephanie

              If your open-faced sandwich is hot and covered in gravy it then becomes a commercial sandwich, which is not really a sandwich, requiring as it does a fork, and, sometimes, a knife.

              I will argue that even if it is cold and can be eaten with the hands, and open-face sandwich is not really a sandwich. I mean, it’s a slippery slope, and I’m terracing and barricading that hill well before cheez-wiz on crackers becomes a viable lunch option rather than a 2 a.m. dorm repast. That way madness lies.

        2. ambrit

          Sorry, but CMOT Dibbler has beat you to it. He has perfected the art of selling food that is not food as food. Sandwiches cannot be far behind his (in)famous ‘Sausage-in-a-bun.’
          And how do we define “Rat-on-a-stick?” Squeak-kebab? [Squish-kebab is already taken.]

        3. Brunches with Cats

          I’ve heard people refer to a hamburger as a “hamburger sandwich,” perhaps to distinguish it from a bunless ground beef patty, which also is a “hamburger” or, for that matter, from bulk ground beef, commonly called “hamburger.” Or from a person from Hamburg, Germany, with or without buns. (Ich bin ein Hamburger.)

          For the heck of it, I searched for “hamburger sandwich.” As is often the case, the first hit was the authoritative* Wikipedia, with the following intro:

          A hamburger (also burger for short) is a sandwich consisting of one or more cooked patties of ground meat, usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. The patty may be pan fried, grilled, smoked or flame broiled. …

          The reference link for that info is broken, but the second reference, to the Online Etymology Dictionary, includes this interesting bit of history:

          The meaning “a sandwich consisting of a bun and a patty of grilled hamburger meat” attested by 1909, short for hamburger sandwich (1902).

          Right on cue, a complete, up-to-date history of “America’s Iconic Sandwich” appeared just last Friday in WaPo:

          So there you have it: Two of the most-authoritative sources on the planet* call a hamburger a sandwich. Wishing you a hill planted with a nice cozy bed of lettuce. We’ll miss you.

          * /s (for those who need it)

          1. Procopius

            I’ve seen “bunless ground beef patty” also referred to as a “hamburger steak,” which is a whole other level of offensiveness.

  9. dcblogger

    Biden wants more money for ICE than Trump
    Biden’s budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2022 asks Congress for $52.17 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Of that, $7.99 billion is for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    That’s an $18 million increase over enacted levels for this year (FY 2021). You could also say it’s a $312.2 million increase over the Trump-era average for ICE funding ($767.9 million). Or a $916 million increase over Trump’s first budget (FY 2018), or a $1.6 billion increase over Obama’s last budget (FY 2017)

    nobody who is serious shutting down the baby prisons will be surprised.

    1. JBird4049

      Those caged children were only being used as distraction and as a convenient hammer for the Orange One. Actually doing anything for them was never in the plans. They and their families don’t have money after all. And only Real People have money. Or is that you need money to be considered a Real Person?

  10. marym

    Re: Arizona – “…the GOP-led legislature is considering yet another recount…“

    (Apologies if this was included in the Denver Gazette link. I didn’t see it before the screen was blocked with a request to register. Here’s another link about this possible count.)

    This second recount of all 2.1 million ballots would be done electronically, running the original digital images of ballots through a program that would count all votes cast for every race on the ballot. This is a different approach from the ongoing recount, which is being done by hand.

    The organization’s [Citizens Oversight] founder told The Arizona Republic this week that his company has never been hired to audit an election, and the technology has never been used in an official election audit.[*]…
    To tabulate the results of every race, he will need to create a digital template for every single ballot style in the county. The county has about 1,800 ballot styles in English and the same number in Spanish. Each ballot style represents a specific neighborhood or area that might be voting on different races and propositions, such as the local city council or school board races.

    (Link )

    * The post does mention some “unofficial audits” in FL and GA

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I didn’t see it before the screen was blocked with a request to register

      If you have Safari, try the “Show Reader” view. That seems to get by most anything. All you get is the text, but who really wants anything else?

      That’s good data, BTW

    2. allan

      “done electronically, running the original digital images of ballots through a program that would count all votes cast for every race on the ballot”

      How on Earth is this going to detect the bamboo fibers? Sounds like a cover-up.

        1. wilroncanada

          The final results will be announced by the grandchild of the current governor. And the loser, the grandchild of the recent candidate, will cry foul and demand another audit of the audit of the audit, by which time the paper will have broken down from handling, and the final count of the final count of the final count will be decided by a coin flip, which will have to be done 50 times because the coin flip loser will demand a new coin of his/her choice.
          The final final result…There are TWO Arizonas; they separated 30 years earlier.

    3. The Rev Kev

      The good news is that there is a time limit for those Arizona re-counts. They have to be out of there in time for the 2022 midterms to be held in those same halls.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        When are the 2022 recounts scheduled to begin? Or are we waiting to see who wins first?

        1. The Rev Kev

          The date for the US midterms is Tuesday, 8th November 2022 so I would expect a demanded recount to begin on say, Wednesday 9th November perhaps? Welcome to the new norm.

        2. rowlf

          An old Soviet joke:

          This is Armenian Radio; our listeners asked us: “What will be the results of the next elections?”

          We’re answering: “Nobody can tell.”   Somebody has stolen yesterday the exact results of the next elections from the office of the Central Committee of the USSR.”

          1. John

            Is the point of all these “recounts” and “audits” to throw shade on the idea of elections or to utterly destroy faith in elections or is it simply pandering to DJT’s revenge fantasy?

            1. Aumua

              Or is it simply genuine concern for the integrity of our election process here in the U.S.? Join us, brother in the New American Patriot party! We’re going to sort out all of this Democrat and Republican corruption and set America back on track to law and order, traditional values and racial puri- I mean… moral certitude.

              1. newcatty

                There are residents of southern AZ, mostly centered in what used to be the”progressive/ liberal city of Tucson, who supported splitting AZ into northern AZ ( Phoenix was a lost cause for any hope of sound governance) and Baja Arizona. It was a nice fantasy…Now AZ demographically has, and is, changing demographically. More Hispanic people living in the state and younger people inclined to be progressive in their politics. AZ repubs are desperately trying to hold power, but the genie is out of the bottle. Also, contradictory development is that Tucson has succumbed to the greed of huge development. Not least fueled by UofA pushing housing for mo and mo students ( awful high rise “apartment homes “).
                Read some developers are hip to fact that they can flip some to luxury condos as more PMC and wealthy retirees come to town. So long Baja dreaming.

  11. Mikel

    “The rest of the world is not doing well, at all. And the experience of the UK tells us that the entire unvaccinated world is a breeding ground for variants.”

    So it’s been confirmed that the “vaccinated world” won’t breed variants? Aren’t they still studying how long anti-bodies and vaccine protections last? Still deciding on how to study (or not) breakthrough cases? The vaccines haven’t been out a year yet.

  12. JBird4049

    were concerned about growing opposition to diversity and equity programs in the local public schools.

    Ah, Equity, our new friend. There you are again.

    Looking like our old friend Equality.


    A serious question: If I am a supporter of equality, does that make me a Bad Person to be put on The List?

    In reading on over four centuries of American history over decades, including the entire Civil Rights Movement, the Abolitionist Movement, and the American Civil War, I never came across the word equity. Actually any history.

    It seems to be a word that J. P. Morgan or Jeff Bezos, and not Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X, would use.

    1. jr

      I’ve always thought of the use the word, at least in a social justice context, as a “selling point” for some kind of scam or another. “Equity” has some obvious monetary associations and I could see it being deployed to lure people into dubious situations. I’m sure a lot of non-profit grifters throw that around…

    2. chris

      Whenever I hear the phrase “lens of equity” I put my hand on my wallet and head for the door.

      A close second in terms of apprehension is “restorative justice.”

      We live in a time where good ideas are turned into GoodIdeas(TM) which are then preached via TEDtalks to public administrators who hire consultants to implement The Certified GoodIdeas(TM) who then coach people in how to implement GoodIdeas(TM) in a such a way that anything useful from when it was all just a good idea is utterly lost.

    3. Basil Pesto

      It’s an old word used in that sense. Words fall in and out of fashion but I’ve always liked it.

      Checked the Shakespeare app fyi and there are five usages of it, although from a cursory read it looks like some of them might be referring to equity law (eg in Lear, Henry VI)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Now it does. I swear to The God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any, that it did not when I searched last. That’s why the screen dump.

      That’s spooky. Whatever the algo is doing, I don’t like it.

      1. ambrit

        The Google algo is learning to give you the finger. Now that really is spooky. Is Google’s algo developing self actualization, or just an analogue thereof?
        This is a situation where the Digital requires the terminal pedal extremities.

        1. John

          Maybe Google already has all the information about you that it could ever want and messes with you for laughs. I stopped using Google some time ago. I don’t know that the others are any better, but I think they are not worse.I foresee the not too distant day when the internet will have been crapified and financialized to the point of being useless.

      2. Mikel

        Maybe your post caused enough people to search it to move it up?

        But at any rate: it appeared at the top of the page in DuckDuckGo search of the words: “H.R.1 (the “For the People Act”) Legitimizes”

  13. upstater

    Biden promised an administration that “looks like America”. It goes without saying that national security is dominated by neocons Likudniks.

    Then there is this, today, being Pride Month:

    Biden says nearly 14% of his 1,500 agency appointees identify as LGBTQ

    I don’t approveof any discrimination or ostracism. But I seriously doubt that 1 out of 7 US citizens are LBGTQ. That is almost 50 million people. It would seem this class is over represented in the Biden administration.

    Last month was Mental Health Awareness month. Oddly, I don’t recall Biden touting how many persons with mental illness his administration has hired. Further legalized discrimination remains against persons with mental illness (not talking about guns here, rather employment, healthcare, etc). Nobody screams about that. This discrimination is directed against a family member; experience is up close and personal.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Oddly, I don’t recall Biden touting how many persons with mental illness his administration has hired.

      Does senility count? If so, I can think of one hire that was made.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I suspect Biden prefers to avoid raising any questions about how many people with untreated mental illness his administration has hired.

    1. Mantid

      Judith, Use the TOR browser to access the NYT. Study up a bit on what TOR is and use it for basic searches. Avoid google at all costs as one is only feeding the beast when doing so. Here is a start: https://blog.torproject.org/ and, I am in accord regarding Obama. His legacy is “sad but true”. Perhaps Naomi Klein should interview him. That would be lovely.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        I just downloaded it and tried (not for the Obama interview) and wasn’t able to open any articles. I just x’d out the popup from NYT explaining how they track and agreed to the Onion version from Tor but then nothing actually opened.

        What am I missing? Thanks!

  14. Darthbobber

    “West Wing brain.”

    The West Wing is also the title of a marvelous though wordless book by Edward Gorey. And like the Castle or Gormenghast it’s also a better tool for parsing contemporary politics than that execrable series ever thought of being.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That was never going to happen. When he was live on air with her a year ago, he dropped the boom on her Presidential aspirations in front of everyone. Her face was a study. He could have done that in a private telephone call but did it on TV live instead.

  15. Jean

    “It is not a crime to be undocumented” Harris’ aides appeared to “panic.. her assignment was being mischaracterized and could be politically damaging if she were linked to the border, which at the time was facing a ‘growing number of arrivals.

    Like 170,000 in the month of March alone? Joe Biden’s invitation for them to come on in and seek refuge, instead of doing so from the first country they reach, Mexico, which is what the Refugee Treaty says they must do, and what Trump mandated, is not just an inconvenience, it’s a travesty with thousands of warehoused unaccompanied children in cages, or as many handed a bus or airline ticket to scatter wherever they like, then allegedly appear at a hearing that 95% likely will result in their deportations.

    Best reportage from all along the border and especially McAllen, where the concentration camp for ‘migrants’ is located, the covid testing facility, and Catholic Charities processing center is located. Too bad the NYT cannot manage to do what one guy, Peter Santenello, interviewing locals has achieved and filmed in depth in many hours of video that is better than any MSM media has ever been.


    1. marym

      The people arriving at the southern border are asylum seekers, not refugees. Trump attempted to establish Asylum Cooperative Agreements – not treaties – with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. According to the first link below only the Guatemala agreement went into effect.

      Hundreds of Honduran and Salvadoran families were subject to the Guatemalan ACA from late 2019 to March 2020. The agreement was suspended then as a result of the pandemic. A recent congressional investigation found that not a single person sent to Guatemala under the ACA received asylum in that country. The investigation concluded that individuals were “subjected to degrading treatment and effectively coerced” into returning to their home countries, in violation of U.S. and international law.

      The only references I found to 170,000 is the number of encounters with CBP in March and April. “In April, US officials apprehended migrants more than 170,000 times. The vast majority of people are turned back under Title 42 [42 U.S.C. § 265 – expulsion of people who have been in a country where a communicable disease was present ]…”

      Biden has made some exceptions to Title 42 for families and unaccompanied minors. The program he suspended in January and formally ended today was the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) [which] forced potential asylum seekers to stay in Mexico to wait out the result of their case in U.S. immigration court. I didn’t find estimates of what these two changes would mean in increased numbers of people allowed to stay in the US.

      I agree that the conditions – which span administrations – of minors held at the border are reprehensible


      1. Aumua

        I like the way you’re always pushing back on the constant incursion on this space from all sides of hard line right viewpoints, which often come disguised as other than what they are.

        1. hunkerdown

          Pushing back from the center-right, yay. Both parties’ narratives are lies and anyone who buys into them is failing to use their critical thinking skills at a high enough level.

          1. Aumua

            I haven’t noticed much in the way of what I would call center-right viewpoints coming from Marym. But we all see what we want to see I guess.

      2. Phillip Cross

        What is the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? I thought they were synonymous.

        1. marym

          Refugee is a legal status under the 1951 Geneva convention. There’s a legal process for governments or the UNHCR to determine whether someone is a refugee. An asylum seeker has to apply for legal status

          Conversationally the terms are used interchangeably, but there are differences under international and national laws. IANAL so this is just a general statement. Here are some links.


  16. noonespecial

    Re – “The warped self” [Aeon]. “

    Quoting the article: However, in cases of regular and heavy engagement with social media, incoming information about the world is carefully selected, curated and altered – we’re potentially engaging with a fantasy.

    Cautiously posting this link (transcript of the video) to a media service labelled at NC something to the tune of “Neoliberal Propaganda Radio” (which covers its tee-vee sibling PBS). The Frontline team looked at several aspects of social media, including how some teenagers curate their pages. The program reveals how the “hook” for kids to wire into fantasy world was already underway, especially as a branding exercise (note bolded phrase below).

    The show’s title: Generation Like; dateline February 18, 2014, so maybe this was in the belle epoque for Frontline.


    Some lines:

    1. DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF (narrator/journo): Likes, follows, friends, retweets— they’re the social currency of this generation, Generation Like. The more likes you have, the better you feel.

    WILL [a featured young person]: You can’t wait to find out whether people like you or not, so you need likes and stuff like that, instant gratification.

    2. DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: Liam has genuine talent, but it’s almost beside the point. To get ahead, he needs to attach himself to others who have mastered the game of likes — kids like Acacia Brinley, who has over a million followers on Instagram. She’s only in the video for a few seconds, but she’s a critical part of the marketing plan.

    LIAM HORNE: All these people in my video already had their own amazing followings. It’s, like, a million followers here and there, and of course, they’re all in my video and they tweet about it, and like, talk about it and Instagram it.

  17. chuck roast

    I liked that thingy about the warped self. I’m almost certain that my hyperstimulators were The Muppets. My generative model has been warped ever since. It’s not easy being green.

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘Colin Spacetwinks
    May 30
    mind’s been rolling around the dems obsession with fundraising, the normal method of greasing wheels/bribing being removed (earmarks), and citizens united’

    Have a theory here. When the Republicans and especially the Democrats send out all these pleas for money, that they don’t really need that money at all. They get plenty enough from corporate/billionaire America as it is. The real purpose is to dry up the ground of money from regular people going to independents who might challenge the two main parties. This would apply more to the Democrats as they are supposed to be *ahem* associated with the left.

  19. freebird

    They are very pretty cookies but I refuse to call them biscuits, I don’t care what the English like to call them. Because then what would we call those flaky, buttery clouds some people still bake for breakfast? Can you imagine going in a restaurant in Memphis and requesting what, scones? Pffft.

  20. Alphonse

    From “The New Literary Bad Boys”: “They are aware too, of what one critic writing in The Times Literary Supplement called ‘a literary culture feminized to the point of strangulation.'”

    Perusing a newspaper “books of the year” list, I discovered that out of 100 books there were maybe one or two that held any interest for me. No wonder my son has virtually no interest in fiction when it is so thoroughly debased. I think things have, er, progressed to the point that any Western cultural work (novel, TV, film, possibly video games) produced in the past five years or so is so infected with political dogmatism that it’s probably not worth considering.

    A couple of the Twitter anons mentioned in that article are interviewd in the Subversive podcast. If you want an introduction to that, I suggest the interview with Alex, the podcaster, on Triggernometry.

    These are young people (Subversive and the anons, not Triggernometry) whose experience of contemporary liberalism is such that they have turned reactionary (Subversive also has a gret interview with Patrick Deneen, author of Why Liberalism Failed), but they have quite a bit in common in the anti-identity politics left. At one point, I recall Alex saying that she considers some Marxists and the likes of the Red Scare podcast to effectively be allies.

    When you lobotomize and censor intellectual and cultural institutions to the point of inanity, the people with something to say don’t just disappear in a puff of smoke. I remember in the 9/11 era when it was widely understood that the right was the party of stupid. Now the shoe is on the other (centrist liberal, not necessarily left, as the terms are used here on Naked Capitalism) foot.

  21. Tom Stone

    $125 Billion in damage from Hurricane Harvey is not small change, however if the Hayward/Rogers Creek fault lets go between mid July and the rains this Year we could see a lot more damage than that.
    Take a look at a Fault map and overlay bridges and tunnels, major highways and oil refineries, water and gas pipelines, levee’s…
    When it is tinder dry with hot winds gusting to 55MPH, how many fires would a 6.8 Earthquake centered in Berkeley start??
    When that fault lets go the timing will have an enormous affect on both the physical damage and the number of deaths.

  22. Darthbobber

    So after pulling the plug on Argentina as the host of the Copa America due to COVID-19 concerns the gods of football have settled on…drumroll…Brazil.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Hilarious that, Darthbobber. Bonus points for only having less than a fortnight’s notice to get this accomplished. Next week’s headline – “Tokyo Games To Be Also Moved to Brazil.”

  23. The Rev Kev

    “If the Wuhan lab-leak hypothesis is true, expect a political earthquake”

    Thomas Frank is a bit late to the game here. The potential consequences that he talks about are already happening as people are no longer ‘trusting the science.’ We have seen too much, especially how medical advice changes depending on political winds and outbreaks are seen to be a result of malign neglect. And it became blatantly obvious that tens of thousands of people’s lives were being lost just to make it easier for the economy to keep going. Actual doctor would come out and say this and were sounding like Wall Street bankers. And now we are sitting down to a banquet of consequences because of all this.

  24. a fax machine

    Got a notice in the mail from the IRS: 3rd stimmy check on it’s way. Maybe there is hope for Biden after all? I’m half serious.

    1. LifelongLib

      I got a letter from The White House, signed by President Biden. It says that the latest payment of $1400, with the $600 payment from December, brings the total payment to $2000 and fulfills the promise made to me. This doesn’t lead me to expect anything more…

      1. Robert Hahl

        Mine said it was from the IRS on the envelope (never a good thing in my previous experience) but the letterhead said it was from the White House and good old Joe saying that he had sent us $2800.

    2. Aumua

      Yeah I think maybe you misread the letter. It was exactly the same kinda letter Trump sent too, tooting his horn about how great a president he is.

  25. Jeremy Grimm

    Re- “Sociologist’s Methodology for Pandemic Predictions …”
    This link combines criticism, skepticism and logic in the discussions about the public health policies regarding masks, aerosol transmission of Corona flu, superspreading, and characteristics of flu transmission and spreading mixed with what to me is a strange lack of skepticism about the new vaccines.
    “On the other hand, we have some of the fastest, most amazing vaccines we’ve ever had with their efficacy against just the symptomatic disease blowing my mind and I’m just [now] writing an article about it.” This is consistent with that article the author of this link wrote for the Atlantic, which I recall was previously linked to by NC: “5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/how-public-health-messaging-backfired/618147/

  26. Greg

    It’s telling, I think, that the editor(s) who wrote the note didn’t read the piece carefully enough to make sure that the acronym “IP” — Intellectual Property? Internet Protocol? Surely not Principal Investigator? — wasn’t expanded on first use. Do any reader know what it means?

    Looking at author name, I’d hazard that it is indeed principal investigator, but was not originally written in English. The acronym didn’t get swapped around on translation i guess.
    It’s the only definition that makes sense in the context

    1. thoughtful person

      I agree. It looks like the term IP was first written as PI and then flipped (as the author is indeed a professor in Spain ). See this snipet below where PI flips:

      “… as postdocs and PhD students. This hierarchy and how it operates is likely to depend on the character and profile of the most influential person: the principal investigator, who is usually the research group leader. This person is the real boss, the one who controls the funds to do the work. Within this realm, the different PIs could be classified by another kind of system, which in biology is defined as “functional classification.”

      I came up with my own functional classification that applies to any stratum of the hierarchical classification, particularly to the IPs:

      People who are always pushing the limits, Pioneers. A pioneer, according the Cambridge Dictionary, is a …”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > See this snipet below where PI flips

        Very good catch!

        Still, editors not getting the copy right while stepping in to alleviate idpol concerns post hoc looks to me like editors who don’t want to do a lot of editing. I guess actually reading the manuscripts is for proles?

  27. ObjectiveFunction

    Hmm, so we should now be looking for Asmodeus to redesign the bestselling family boardgame, Exploiters S̶e̶t̶t̶l̶e̶r̶s̶ of Catan?

    – Forests become desert after 3 turns of Wood extraction
    – Pastures become desert after 3 turns of Sheep extraction
    – Coal mines shrink any adjacent Cities back to Settlements after 3 turns of Coal extraction, and one random Port is removed per turn due to sea level rise.

    …. Oh, and being fashionable, it seems all player pieces should be White (or perhaps Orange).

    Also, Ticket To Ride, with 1890 Bison Herd Gatling Gun online expansion!

    This is the Year Zero, Sidney, and nothing has gone before.

  28. hunkerdown

    I wonder if Harris is using her border assignment as cover to learn the art of sabotaging Chiapas, in anticipation of a change in President of Mexico. Oh, she thought it was going to be all giggles. (repost because “cancel reply” doesn’t work right)

  29. Wayne

    The story that covid originated in a lab is getting so much play, including from journalists I respect, that I was almost ready to take the possibility seriously. Fortunately there’s a go-to podcast I can put stock in: long-running This Week in Virology, in which interviewers and interviewees are all microbiology experts. They had a show with three guests from the WHO team that went to Wuhan and another show with a top US specialist. Bottom line: there is zero evidenced-based reason to suspect the virus originated in a lab and a vast array of solid, time-tested scientific evidence to think it originated in nature. The lab thesis is merely a possibility, nothing more, no better evidenced than the possibility that future scientists travelled back through time or advanced aliens travelled from far space to release the virus (there is only the anonymous, unevidenced, scientifically worthless claim of US intelligence to the contrary). Most illuminating: the scientific investigation of its origins is still in its early stages and we are almost certainly years from the definitive answer (assuming we ever get one). All we’re hearing in the media about the lab release hypothesis is basically sensationalistic rubbish, most probably pushed out at us as part of the anti-China drivel now being spewed 24/7.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > They had a show with three guests from the WHO team that went to Wuhan and another show with a top US specialist.

      This one, I think: SARS-CoV-2 origins with Peter Daszak, Thea Kølsen Fischer, Marion Koopmans.

      From the institutional, as opposed to the science-adjacent, portion of Wade’s article:

      “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” a group of virologists and others wrote in the Lancet on February 19, 2020, when it was really far too soon for anyone to be sure what had happened. Scientists “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife,” they said, with a stirring rallying call for readers to stand with Chinese colleagues on the frontline of fighting the disease….

      It later turned out that the Lancet letter had been organized and drafted by Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance of New York. Daszak’s organization funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. If the SARS2 virus had indeed escaped from research he funded, Daszak would be potentially culpable. This acute conflict of interest was not declared to the Lancet’s readers. To the contrary, the letter concluded, “We declare no competing interests.”

      Daszak-as-funder and Daszak-as-CT-condemner-with-undisclosed-interest seems more than a little whiffy to me. (One might speculate that Daszak felt the need to organize a defense because he felt he might be culpable. That does not mean that Daszak was culpable.)

  30. fresno dan

    Betsy Hargreaves wanted to save a few bucks on health insurance a couple of years ago so she switched to a religious-based plan.

    For a while it worked, cutting her monthly premium by hundreds of dollars.

    Then, in March, she had double hip-replacement surgery to relieve acute pain, followed by a four-day stay in the hospital and extensive physical therapy.
    The surgery was successful, but Hargreaves’s “insurer” refused to cover any of the costs, saying her surgery was the result of a preexisting condition. She was saddled with nearly $75,000 in medical bills.
    They told her the day before the surgery that it would not be covered, she said.
    Under the Affordable Care Act, traditional health insurers are prohibited from denying coverage to members due to a preexisting condition. It was one of the biggest selling points of Obamacare.
    But Hargreaves’s plan, OneShare Health, is not traditional insurance. It is a nonprofit “health care sharing ministry,” and like all such ministries, exempt from the ACA, and therefore not legally mandated to cover preexisting conditions.

    I had a person at the HICAP counseling service ask about this. What it boils down to, for a lot of people health insurance is unaffordable. So they buy the witchdoctor’s dances, feathers, and incantations – because it is what they can afford.
    So how much do you trust religious people – at least the ones selling you insurance?

    1. ambrit

      Well, I would equate insurance salespeople with the money changers that radical reforming rabbi ran out of the Temple one Passover.
      Seeing that the many of the original First Century Christian communities practiced a form of communism, I’d say that the original religious insurance policy was being a member of the Community of Believers. Sort of like a theocratic HMO.
      I’m having a hard enough time finding a medigap plan I can afford, when added to my Part B premium. If it was just me, those two bills would amount to a fourth of my total income. I’m beginning to discover that my occasional joke about my “Use By Date” is no longer a ‘funny,’ but a neo-liberal imperative.

  31. Phillip Cross

    “We don’t have any significant entry controls at our airports, so international transmission is a given.”

    You still can’t come in from Europe (among others) unless you’re a US resident.

    1. ambrit

      Yeah, but there are a significant number of American skiers who will think they are immune because of having a few shots and go play in the powder at an Alpine resort, then come home. Sound familiar?
      All we are seeing on the streets and in the shops here in the North American Deep South now is a parade of mask-less Vaccine Triumphalists. Next fall and winter are looking like they will either be a “normal” flu like infection season or a full blown epidemic. I don’t see evidence for a middle ground.

      1. Petter

        Neither the virus or Customs checked my son, a dual citizen. He was on holiday in Costa Rica, tested negative three days before his scheduled departure to the USA but two of his roommates tested positive. The night before his departure he developed symptoms but flew out the next day. Kind of an ugly story so I think I’ll skip the rest.

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