2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Night sounds from Ethiopia.

* * *


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. I’ve been thinking of new charts to monitor to alert us to the next outbreak, assuming there is one, but for now, the data from the South means I’ll stick to the status quo.

Vaccination by region:

Up and down, up and down, with a rising trendline, and an uptick in the South.

Case count by United States regions:

Case decline has now clearly flattened.

Here are the case counts for the last four weeks in the South (as defined by the US Census: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia):

Florida, capital of Latin America, has joined Texas in breaking away from the pack. To be fair, we aren’t seeing a steeply rising curve, either. Fizzling out?

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

Not entirely good news.

Test positivity:

Downtick in the South?

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

Monroe Doctrine countries not doing so hot.

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Biden Administration

“Biden-Putin summit: Key takeaways from their high-stakes meeting” [ABC]. “Biden also called the summit “positive” and declared it a success at his later news conference, saying, “I did what I came to do.” Neither leader would bite when asked if they could trust the other. Biden said, ‘it’s not about trust.’ ‘This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest,’ he said. ‘Almost anyone that I would work out an agreement with that affected the American people’s interest, I don’t say, ‘Well, I trust you, no problem. Let’s see what happens.’ You know, as that old expression goes, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating.'” • Biden quoting Karl Marx certainly wasn’t on my bingo card. I wonder if he used that line with Putin?

“Biden’s big Putin bet” [Vox]. “If one phrase defines President Joe Biden’s approach to negotiating, it’s “all politics is personal.” When he uses that line, he aims to convey a rock-ribbed belief that finding what the other person can and can’t accept — be it a member of Congress from the other party or a foreign leader — will eventually lead to better relations and even mutually agreeable deals. During a Wednesday press conference following his Geneva summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden showed once more that he puts a lot of faith in that approach. ‘All foreign policy is the logical extension of personal relationships,” Biden said. ‘It’s the way human nature functions.’ That’s not Biden saying all it takes to improve US-Russia relations is to have a one-on-one chat with Putin, although they did have a roughly 90-minute discussion. It meant, as he went on to explain, that because of that discussion, both men are now clear on what red lines not to cross as they seek to cooperate on arms control, cybersecurity, and more. That outcome, in Biden’s mind, was worth the trip.” • Commentary:

I don’t know. The crowned heads of Europe were all related to each other in 1914, and communicated constantly. And yet….

“Biden: To be a good reporter, ‘you’ve got to have a negative view of life'” [The Hill]. Biden to the press: “‘I mean, you’re the brightest people in the country. You’re the most informed people on details. I’m not being solicitous. You are,’ Biden said. ‘But it makes no sense for me to negotiate with you. It makes no sense to me to tell you what I’m about to do. Not because I want to hide anything from you. But why would I telegraph that?'”

Come on, man:

“House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq War authorization” [Associated Press]. “he Democratic-led House, with the backing of President Joe Biden, passed legislation Thursday to repeal the 2002 authorization for use of military force in Iraq, a step supporters said was necessary for Congress to reassert its constitutional duty to weigh in on matters of war while detractors worried that it would embolden militia or terror groups operating in the region. The repeal legislation was passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 268-161. Forty-nine Republicans voted for the bill. Only one Democrat, Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, voted against it. Supporters said repeal would not affect U.S. military operations around the world, but could prevent current and future presidents from relying on it to conduct unrelated military actions. The White House says there are no ongoing military activities reliant solely upon the 2002 authorization.” • 2021 – 2002 = 19 years. Quife a legacy for the Bush administration.

Health Care

“Court again leaves Affordable Care Act in place” [SCOTUSBlog]. “In a much-anticipated decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected another effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law often regarded as the signature legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama. The justices did not reach the main issue in the case: whether the entirety of the ACA was rendered unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance. Instead, by a vote of 7-2, the justices ruled that neither the states nor the individuals challenging the mandate have a legal right to sue, known as standing. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion. He was joined by the other two liberal justices, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, as well as four conservatives: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Samuel Alito wrote a dissent and was joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Clinton endorses Nina Turner’s opponent:

The kiss of death, hopefully.

“New York’s mayoral race remains a tossup after final Democratic debate” [Politico]. “After six months of endless zoom forums, erratic polls and a truncated campaign season, the race remains a tossup less than a week out. With ranked-choice voting throwing more uncertainty into the process, the Democratic nominee, who is all but certain to win the general election, will likely not be named until well after Tuesday’s primary…. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have already cast their votes: As of Wednesday, 84,132 ballots have come in through early voting, which kicked off on Saturday, according to the city Board of Elections. But the turnout so far has been slow compared to the hordes who lined up to vote early in the November presidential election. Going into the closing weekend of the race, campaigns have much more work to do to win over and turn out potential supporters.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “12 June 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Modestly Improves” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 350 K to 370 K (consensus 364 K), and the Department of Labor reported 412,000 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 403,000 (reported last week as 402,500) to 395,000.”

Manufacturing: “June 2021 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Index Little Changed” [Econintersect]. “Overall, this report was worse than last month as key elements declined.”

* * *

Tech: “The Citizen App’s Gamification of Vigilantism” [The New Republic]. “To get a sense of what Citizen and its corporate backers want—what it might become as it scales beyond simple transcriptions of police scanner reports to a fully featured, video-rich social network and media center—it’s helpful to survey recent coverage of the app and to poke through some of the company’s own media and job listings. The vision that emerges is grim, almost like Running Man, the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie about a game show where criminals try to escape from people sent to hunt them down. Citizen seems to aspire to nothing less than a vertically integrated, 24-hour news-and-reporting network for crime, which, by offering constant notifications, live media, and premium protection services, including in-person private security, hopes to monetize the fears of an uncertain public—the same public it’s supposed to be informing. If Citizen’s vision for itself succeeds, the next big social network will be one that turns people into surveillers—and potential suspects—in a constantly monetized livestream of supposedly crime-ridden urban life. Using fear as a revenue stream, the company seems less concerned with promoting care for one’s fellow citizens than redefining crime, broadcasting it, and securing its most wealthy users against it. For the rest of us, well, we can try to enjoy the show.” •

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 45 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 17 at 12:50pm. No longer stuck in neutral!

Health Care

“COVID-19 Deaths: Who Wasn’t Counted?” [Capital & Main]. “Since early in the pandemic, epidemiologists, concerned with the potential undercounting of virus cases in situations like Gilliam’s and Davis’ (especially in the wake of an early bungled rollout of COVID-19 testing), have tracked “excess death” as a rough approximation of the pandemic’s impact on the country. The statistic, a widely accepted way of monitoring the emergence of mass casualty events such as infectious outbreaks, compares the overall death rate over the past 16 months to that of the prior eight years. The spike since last year has been stunning. Between Feb. 1, 2020, and June 9, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked up to 713,873 excess deaths, of which nearly a quarter — up to 169,687 — are not currently attributed to COVID-19. That many Americans would fill the New Orleans Superdome twice over. By June of last year, Americans’ average life expectancy had fallen to 77.8 years, meaning Americans were expected to live a full year less, on average, than they had been expected to live in 2019. While not all of the excess deaths during the pandemic are likely to have been caused directly by COVID-19, experts say the discrepancy points to the likely undercounting of COVID-19 cases because it is far higher than can be explained by historical patterns or official COVID-19 numbers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently estimated that, globally, the true death burden from the pandemic is up to three times that of official statistics. Widely accepted scientific models estimating excess death — like the one used by the WHO — have been met with skepticism from some conservatives, who have derided them as efforts to inflate the counts. But if the models are accurate, it means that thousands of deaths resembling Davis’ and Gilliam’s — with official causes other than COVID-19, but reasons to suspect otherwise — could be going uncounted.”

Police State Watch

“L.A. County sheriff’s deputy charged with deleting cellphone video of her assaulting man during arrest in Lancaster” [KTLA]. “Nicole Bell, 27, is accused of assaulting the man while he sat in the back of her patrol vehicle on July 30, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release…. As the man was assaulted, a family member captured some of the attack on cellphone video. But Bell deleted the video from their phone, the DA’s office said. She’s facing one felony count each of accessing and altering computer data without permission; altering, planting or concealing evidence as a peace officer; and assault by an officer.” • From a long thread of examples showing the “Cops lying is common”:

From a #NeverTrump conservative!

“Entire Portland Police Rapid Response Team Resigns” [KXL]. “FM News 101 learned late Wednesday night that in response to the criminal indictment of Officer Corey Budworth, the bureaus entire Rapid Response Team resigned. Sources with the Police Bureau say the team voted unanimously to disband. The Rapid Response Team is a group of volunteer officers who respond to civil disobedience, demonstrations, and riots. Tuesday, a member of the team was charged with assault for actions during an August 18, 2020 riot in Southeast Portland.”


Looks like at least one MMTer on the inside:


“Freedom Ride: How Not to Celebrate Juneteenth” [Black Agenda Report]. “Juneteenth was largely a regional holiday celebrated by Black people in Texas and other southern states. It commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston and announced that slavery ended as per General Order Number 3… Juneteenth was a big event in the segregated south, a people’s holiday. That is how it should remain. Corporations which work against the people’s interests should not be allowed to absolve themselves by engaging in performative acts. Politicians who aid them at every turn should not be permitted to utter Juneteenth platitudes and create a new public relations farce. An opportunity to discuss resistance against oppression has been turned into a substance-free feel good day. Black people don’t need governmental or corporate acknowledgement in order to tell their stories. In fact, learning history for our own sake is of paramount importance. Juneteenth can be the starting point for further study. Let Juneteenth remain a commemoration with significance for ourselves. Doing otherwise inevitably leads to confusion.” • Well worth reading in full.

Guillotine Watch

Where’s the lie:

Class Warfare

“Opioids Rip Through U.S. Workforce, With Deaths at Record Level” [Bloomberg]. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic was the drug epidemic. Its relentless toll added a record 90,722 overdose deaths in the U.S. for the year through November 2020, a grim number obscured by coronavirus casualties that recently topped 600,000, according to federal data released Wednesday. As the virus transfixed the nation, the drug crisis spread to largely untouched parts of the country — exacerbated by the recession and millions of job losses. Not only stores and restaurants shuttered: Counseling services moved online, inpatient clinics closed and mobile clinics pulled back. Without support, many Americans relapsed and some turned to drugs for the first time…. Opioids are behind about three-fourths of the overdoses, according to Wednesday’s data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington was among the deadliest regions, seeing a 50% surge in deaths. Some of the impact is visible, such as the growing clusters of tents downtown where many overdoses occur, a sight so common that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell mentioned them several times this year.” • Oh, he did, then. Did he throw them any gold coins from his coach, as he passed?

Elon Musk’s vision of Mars:

“NGOism Serves the Status Quo” [Jacobin]. “The advocacy nonprofits that have taken the place of the old associations are markedly more oligarchical and top-down. They tend to be dominated by professional-class staffers, who only interact with their memberships through a mailing list. Members don’t drive these organizations through democratic debate; they’re much more staff- and funder-driven…In brief, the nonprofit sector carries out the functions that the government ought to provide, but with less funding, and in such a way that nonprofits are forced to be entrepreneurial — which is to say, dependent upon private interests. They execute what ought to be a government function, but in such a way that private interests can dictate the terms.” • Euthanize the NGOs, as I’ve been saying for some time. And worth noting that MacKenzie Scott’s recent big donation reinforces NGOs.

“Now Is Not the Time to Skimp on Tips” [New York Magazine]. • Was it ever?

“Tax the Rich! Also the Very Affluent! But Mainly the Rich!” [Al Franken, Rolling Stone]. “The fact is that every bit of what President Biden proposed is in everyone’s best interest. It’s not just ridiculous that we’re 13th in the world in infrastructure. It’s dangerous. If a bridge collapses, a Mercedes drops as fast as a Hyundai.” • The re-appearance of Franken is more interesting than the article itself.

News of the Wired

The road to virtual hell is paved… by Facebook. Naturally:

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “Getting some walking in at the Irvine Regional Park, the cheerfulness of this Mallow caught my attention.” The richness of the colors reminds me of autochrome (an old photo printing technology).

* * *

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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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. Robert Hahl

    Roger Waters: “And yet here he is, one of the most powerful idiots in the world.”

    As a Brit he should be used to that by now.

    1. Carolinian

      Context for the quote: Waters turned down a big money offer to use Pink Floyd music in an Instagram ad.

      1. The Rev Kev

        He is also at the forefront of human rights by defending Julian Assange, tearing strips off The Young Turks, etc.

        1. Nikkikat

          He has also been a fearless defender of Palestinians in Gaza. I attended a Roger waters show, one of the best concerts I have ever seen. I have seen just about everyone in rock. Any of my spare money went to concerts. His solo tour for his Radio Kaos album. The entire show was in the round with speakers surrounding us and a large screen where a nuclear explosion was recreated. The floor and seats literally vibrated. I had seen several Pink Floyd shows, and they were great, but this show went far beyond. Roger is the real deal, nothing fake about him.

  2. Keith

    Regarding Juneteenth “has been turned into a substance-free feel good day.”

    Isn’t this true of every holiday? And as a federal holiday, do you really think people will bothering thinking about why the day is what it is or will it be a time for BBQs and beer, like Memorial Day (start of Summer), July 4th, Labor Day, etc, etc.

    Heck, if the Feds move fast enough, my Juneteenth remembrance will consist of gardening, BBQ and wine.

    I think that despite the handwringing, it is to be expected. And realistically, the corp and politician platitudes will likely be the only reminder of what the day is supposed to represent. Welcome to America!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And as to ” must not be allowed to do this” . . . who is going to stop them? Realistically speaking?

      What the ” peoples’ holiday juneteenthers” can do is to shun the corporate celebrations and hold their own observances with no corporations and no medias allowed.

  3. cocomaan

    Lambert, you too must be listening to Mike Duncan’s Revolutions.

    I am riveted. If only I’d had Duncan during history class as a kid, it would have made all of this a lot more understandable.

    In other news, another cyber attack on a CDN (Content Delivery Network). https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/17/tech/airlines-website-outage/index.html

    Things are feeling more fragile by the moment. I wonder what NC’ers will do without internet?

    1. hunkerdown


      The company also said the “issue was not caused by a system update or a cyberattack.”

      There’s no reason to let the establishment narratives have a win, ever.

  4. Matthew G. Saroff

    It is interesting how two localities known as liberal bastions, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon, have among the worst, most racist, and most brutal cops in the nation.

    1. hunkerdown

      Those are leftist bastions and leftists need to be kept down so that debt elitism can survive. Liberal bastions like West Bloomfield, Michigan, on the other hand, have more professional, more presentable cops that know to beat the poors more quietly.

      1. Alfred

        Portland, anyway, has a very long racist history. I feel like they are fighting to remain what they started out to be. You have a very interesting take. Wherever the threat is felt the most is the most brutal.

        1. Matthew G. Saroff

          Not just Portland, the whole state of Oregon.

          Went to high school in Portland, and it’s common knowledge that it was the most Klan dominated state ever, and that the original state constitution banned black people from living there.

          Eastern Oregon, the part that just voted to secede, is still that way.

      2. Andrew Watts

        Again, not really. Most people from Portland are ashamed of and/or despise the state’s most famous socialist who was a good man considering the era he was from. I idolized Jack Reed as a kid because he chose to spend his time among the colored and poor folks in the city. He transcended his upper class snobbery and the racist attitudes of his era while identifying with the lower order. Riding with Pancho Villa and being in the thick of the Bolshevik revolution was also pretty cool.

        He also started the wonderful tradition of mocking Portland and Portlanders for being so white. This was completely lost on the protesters who some of my friends heckled last summer in the downtown area.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Liberal? Not really. The city of Portland has historically been and remains one of the whitest cities in the country. A few years back a longtime board member of the Portland Business Alliance made some racist comments in a phone call to the city government. It was something along the lines of how the lesser races aren’t capable of producing prosperity. Over the last two decades Portland has lost somewhere around 30% of it’s non-white population through gentrification. If the city was located in a country not friendly to the United States we’d call it ethnic cleansing given it’s history of racial tension.

      I don’t really have anything bad to say about the police in Portland though. Especially the gang taskforce… err gun violence. It has a pretty nasty history but it comes with the territory. Incidentally, if you’re protesting and the police don’t tear gas you then you’re not actually engaging in civil disobedience.

      Somebody is conducting a parade.

  5. a different chris

    >I don’t know. The crowned heads of Europe were all related to each other in 1914, and communicated constantly. And yet….

    ROTFL but Biden didn’t say “good things” he just said “logical extensions”. The rich in the early 20th century, as they were before and are still and will always be, mostly family-bloggers. So of course they sent little people to war to serve their princely delusions over inter-family spats.

    Heck the more related the worse. Would you like to try, given mugshots of two dozen people, to separate Palestinians from Israelites? Serbs and Croats? I think I told you about my friend who said “I’m on one side of the street and they’re shooting at me, I cross the street and what is purportedly my side is then shooting at me”.

    Can you tell Protestant Irish from the Catholics?

    Black people are the exception and do have it the worst of all, but at least with them I can think “well people have to, somehow face their racism”. It’s a single point of failure.

    But people who look alike have a huge tangled ball of century-old grievances that you can’t do anything with (or even understand) but hope it burns itself out someday.

  6. Alfred

    “It makes no sense to me to tell you what I’m about to do. Not because I want to hide anything from you.”

    First, Joe tells them they’re very intelligent. Then he tells them that.

    Yes, politics are very personal. So personal, in fact, that the common American is no longer allowed to participate in a meaningful way for quite a few years. They have virtually nothing personally in common with the decision-makers any more.

    1. Alfred

      thank you for that. Yarmuth is going to get a call from Ms. Nancy Paygo.

      What is never talked about is what happens to housing when the vultures swoop down, as they are poised to do now when mortgage moratoriums expire, and suck up the foreclosures and turn them into unaffordable rentals.

      1. flora

        BlackRock et al swoop in and buys those houses for pennies on the dollar with money from the fed. Then rents them out or sells on for a higher price. Just like 10 years ago – with one difference. The CDO business is still bust, as far as I know.

      2. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

        Everything about America is being converted from ownership to pay-as-you-go. The subscription model for everything from humans to every durable good in sight. I keep thinking somebody’s smart enough to make sure that they don’t completely wipe out the middle class; but it sure looks like Blackrock is counting on several generations of renters to choose from. Just like how the Dollar Store is excited that our economy keeps generating Dollar Store customers.

  7. JBird4049

    On that list of interfered with elections, add all the coups, and then add all the support, often military it gives to its preferred mass murdering authoritarians who are good for business. See the School of the Americas.

    Although I have not thoroughly checked the Wikipedia articles, they seem to be good.

    Regime Change” I believe that the list does not show all the last coups during the 2010s nor all the failed attempts which do exist. And by including the Barbary States and the Axis in the list, which were wars of survival, it dilutes all the other outright coups often done for American business interests.

    On military support, good examples include the School of the Americas, the Jakarta Method and Operation Condor The wiki article on the school seems be partially a whitewash all it is not critical enough. It was after all created to train the security forces of all those dictators and oligarchies that the United States created.

    The notes, links, and citations in the various wiki articles all look good. Enjoy.

  8. Carolinian

    Having heard her in action I say go Nina Turner versus the pants suited one. One wonders whether African Americans still call hubby Bill “the first black president” (or did they ever say that?) now that we have had a real black president, albeit one who was an ideological clone of the faux version. All very confusing.

    1. Alfred

      “excess death” was the phrase that caught my attention above when under-estimating the COVID-19 death toll. What was burned into my poor brain by Madeleine Albright was the fact that 500,000 or so child deaths was “worth it.” I noticed the 100% capacities are in Red states. Whatever happens as a result of continued economic growth including mass death, human and planet, is worth it according to the monsters who don’t even care about their children and grandchildren, etc., etc.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You might have it there. To the elites, having the economy going again (as well as their personal portfolios) would let them think that any excess deaths would be “worth it.” It might be regarded as simply the cost of doing business – to them

    2. Arizona Slim

      When you see pigs fly, know that Arizona Slim has gone to a movie theatre.

      Which is another way of saying that I haven’t gone to the movies in years. Have no plans to return to a theatre any time soon.

      1. Alfred

        Preach! I used to get disgusted and walk out starting in the 90s. No refund. At least if it comes out on video, I can get it at the library for free and not watch it!

      2. QuicksilverMessenger

        I used to love going to the movies when I was younger, but rarely if ever go now. The past few years I’ve gone to a couple ‘opening nights’ because I was given tickets and swag etc. If you do end up going to a movie now, be prepared to be absolutely assaulted by sound. There is something about the way modern movies and movie theaters sound that is brutalizing. Sonic fascism. Or maybe I’m just getting old…

        1. Alfred

          Yes, about the noise. Assault is the right word. I felt like it was rearranging the molecules in my body with that intense nauseating vibration.

  9. jsn

    To round out the Gravel Institute list, this is where I got when I looked into several years ago:

    US clandestine agencies, and the State Department and Pentagon to varying degrees, have been involved in non-stop regime change efforts towards the global integration of populations and resources into an Atlantic centered system of private, capitalist control. Mostly successful since WWII, these efforts began with Greece in 1948, followed by Syria in 49, Albania from 49-53, Iran in 53, 54 Guatemala, Syria again in 56, Haiti in 57, Indonesia 57, Laos 58-60, Cuba 59-present, 59 Cambodia, 60 Ecuador, 60 Congo, 61 Dominican Republic, 62-64 Brazil, 63 Iraq, 63 South Vietnam, 64 Bolivia and Brazil, 65 France, 65 Indonesia again, 66 Ghana, 67 Greece again, 70 Costa Rica, 71 Bolivia again, 73-75 Australia, 73 Chile, 74 Portugal, 75 Angola, 75 Zaire, 76 Argentina, 76 Jamaica, 79-89 Afghanistan, 79 Seychelles, 80-92 Angola again, 80-89 Libya, 81-87 Nicaragua, 82 Chad, 83 Grenada, 82-84 South Yemen, 82-84 Suriname, 87 Fiji, 89 Panama, 91 Albania again, 91 Iraq, 93 Somalia, 99-2000 Yugoslavia, 2000 Ecuador again, 01 Afghanistan again, 02 Venezuela, 03 Iraq again, 04 Haiti again, 07 to present Somalia again, 11 Libya again, 12 to present Syria for a third time, 14 Ukraine, Brazil again in 16 and Bolivia and Ecuador in 2018 and Brazil again in 2019. Ongoing destabilization efforts are underway in Venezuela, Iran, Russia and China.

    1. JBird4049

      Just why do they hate us so?

      (Rolling my eyes.)

      Pre World War II, the United States already had over a century of regime change. If you look the similar divide-and-conquer tactics used by the colonies, often to serve mining, lumber and farming interests, the government has had over four centuries of experience in infiltration, destabilization, coups, and military support of friendly crooked dictators. During the Indian Wars, a favorite tactic was to give support (bribes) to certain Native American leaders, sometimes whole tribes, to weaken the opposing nations and alliances.

      1. jsn

        I’m reading Bernal Diaz Del Castillo’s “Conquest of Mexico”, which Gabriel Garcia Marquez described as the founding document of Magical Realism. Lies, deceipt and manipulation are apparently the very essence of power once it’s institutionalized.

        The techno-cultural darwinism resulting from Leo X ending the prohibition on usury (being himself substantially in debt to Jackob Fugger who threatened to pull war funding from the Pope should he not redefine the boundaries of usury favorably for bankers) was just getting underway.

        Pace Michael Hudson, St Peter had already put an end to Christ’s vision of the Jubilee, but it was Leo X that let classical Roman money love back into the heart of Western religion and set us on the trajectory to where we are: a financial system dedicated to monetizing life to the point of universal extermination. The brutal cutting of the still beating heart out of sacrificial victims as practiced by the Aztecs has a blunt humanity to it as compared to the indifferent murder of millions that is out present system. I wonder if there will be a second Axial Age to end Capitalism’s current practices of human, animal and life sacrifice.

  10. Mikel

    RE: “How did this little prick who started out as ‘she’s pretty, we’ll give her a four out of five … how did we give him any power? And yet here he is, one of the most powerful idiots in the world.”

    Mr. Waters, the simple answer: short-term thinking and the rewards given to the exhibition of sociopathic traits.

  11. genezip

    “I don’t know. The crowned heads of Europe were all related to each other in 1914, and communicated constantly. And yet….”

    Pretty good argument can be made that the absence of Franz Ferdinand from the negotiations in the July 14 crisis was what tipped Europe over the edge, though. The Archduke’s temperament arguably was a deciding factor that prevented a continental war during the previous Morocco crises.

  12. The S

    Greg Doucette also collected nearly 1000 police brutality videos during last summer’s insurrection. Lots of citizen journalism videos:


    And I mean the real insurrection; the one that was burning police stations, had trump hiding in a bunker like the coward he is, and was trying to abolish police and right the power imbalances of the US. That 1/6 nonsense could never be an insurrection. An armed white supremacist uprising can only reinforce what America is, not overturn it. Doucette’s video collection shows that the 1/6ers didn’t receive a fraction of the violence doled out to the justice-seekers of the 2020 summer.

  13. Rod

    “NGOism Serves the Status Quo” [Jacobin].

    “It’s important to keep in mind that the structural constraints of nonprofits are ultimately derived from their funding structure. “

    Shell Oil—the profit Corp. won’t quit the Fossil Fuel for the same constraints.

    Like the tweet from S Kelton and saying it all in 30 seconds, Melissa Naschek says it all in less than 100 words at the end of this illuminating article.

    1. JBird4049

      Then there were the nonprofits, foundations, and trusts that supported eugenics both in the United States and in Europe. IIRC, some of them you can still see on PBS and NPR when the donors are announced. Cue in that old cliche, the more things change…

  14. Alfred

    About Citizen “Using fear as a revenue stream.” I can say from personal experience having been on the receiving end that there are a fair number of people who will use this as cover for their own nefarious enterprises, using it to point the finger at someone else and muddy the waters. Not fear, but innuendo and false accusation or rumor as a revenue stream.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I wonder if the monetization will end up going as far as the Empire’s “snitch on a terrorist” program whereby Warlord A or Shopkeeper B or Peasant C could FALSELY identify a rival as a terrorist, who would then be added to Obama’s/Trump’s (less frequent)/Biden’s weekly target list for Special Ops or drone killing…

        1. ambrit

          The real ‘benefit’ of this internet based system of “informing” is it’s general anonymity. Usually, when “snitches” were local and face to face with the “Organs of State Security,” there was a chance that said “snitches” could suffer some “Instant Karma” doled out by the “opposition.”
          If this “informer” system gets rolling, expect to see sights like one sees down in Mexique, where the Cartels string the lifeless bodies of their rivals up in very public places.

      1. HotFlash

        Second law of Hammurabi: “If a man charge a man with sorcery, and cannot prove it, he who is charged with sorcery shall go to the holy river; into the holy river he shall throw himself, and if the river takes him, his accuser shall take to himself that man’s house. If the river show that man to be innocent, and he come forth unharmed, he who charged him with sorcery shall be put to death.”

        Alas, the Potomac is unholy.

  15. Thistlebreath

    Re: in-program ads for headset users. What’s coming promises to be worse. Far worse.

    A memorable skit from 1980’s Saturday Night Live consisted of Molson-swilling Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas frying bacon and calling each other “Hoser.” I think hockey was mentioned, too. I wonder if now that Molson/Coors is headed into our dreams, the legendary brothers will appear in an updated version.


    Time to re watch Natalie Wood’s last film, “Brainstorm.” I particularly like the loathesome DARPA types. Chris Walken plays a likeable lead, for once.

    PS –remember, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin worked off of depositions and court testimony for his dialogue in “The Social Network” when he was writing Z’s lines.

    1. Anthony Noel

      Those are the McKenzie Brothers, characters created for SCTV, a televised sketch show featuring performers from Toronto’s Second City troupe. (Although they did make an appearance on SNL) And yes hockey would have come up at some point.

      Ironically, given the subject of your post, the characters exist because of advertising. Specifically because US syndicated shows had two more mins of ad time then Canadian shows running on the CBC. When the show moved to the CBC for it’s 3rd season and was required to produce two more mins of material the CBC required that the material specifically be Canadian Content, Dave and Rick were unhappy about this as they assumed a show shot, produced and written by virtually an entire Canadian crew should count as enough Can Con, and made the characters what they considered insultingly “Canadian”.

      Hence, beer, Canadian bacon (a sort of mid ground between American streaky bacon and British loin bacon) and hockey. They even made a movie about it, Strange Brew, complete with evil corporations trying to take over with beer and evil all black armored storm trooper hockey teams.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Biden-Putin summit: Key takeaways from their high-stakes meeting”

    Our media is so bad. I just picked two gems out of this article as an example. It said ‘Biden had called for the meeting with Putin two months ago, alarmed about Russian aggression toward Ukraine.’ Well that is wrong that. I gave a link some time ago of video of tanks and other heavy equipment that the Ukraine was bringing up to the front line to launch an offensive against the Donbass. Russia in turn brought up 100,000 troops to tell them to forget about it. And when some political operatives learned that NATO could not equal that, then and only then were talks requested.

    Another line was ‘He falsely suggested those rioters are now being persecuted for their political beliefs.’ but this one defies belief. In fact, based on this ruckus, they want to bring in Patriot Act 2.0 to go after what they term ‘white supremacists’ which I can guarantee you will also be used against people who are not supremacists nor even white. Come to think of it, the feds were even encouraging ordinary people to snitch on their friends, family, neighbours who they think that were there. And people who also just wondered in are also being labelled “coup” participants instead of the more accurate label of unauthorized tourists. It’s a garbage media that we have.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that link, flora. Edward Snowden has to one of the most courageous figures of this century as he burned down his life to give warning to the world on what was happening. And now there is no way that he will ever be able to go back home as he would receive the Chelsea Manning-Julian Assange treatment. J. F. Kennedy’s book ‘Profiles in Courage’ featured only US Senators but if you had to do that book again, it is surprising who would make it into a newer version.

  17. Kevin Carhart

    Here’s the next step of getting more specific about Citizen and this vile idea.

    What happens when you follow the money and the firms? Who thinks this kind of peer surveillance is a good idea?


    The latest round that Dealroom has information for is an “early VC” round in 2019 for 40 million. Who was in the round? Lux Capital, Sequoia Capital, Founders Fund, Slow Ventures, Scooter Braun and 8VC.

    Who are they?
    Sequoia is huge.
    Founders Fund is Peter Thiel’s organization.
    An 8VC partner is Joe Lonsdale. He founded Palantir with Thiel.
    I don’t know anything about the others.
    I don’t know what investors funded the limited partnerships.

    After this round, dealroom lists a convertible round in 2020 and a Series C in January 2021, with no detail about who.

    The dealroom page also lists some Citizen founders and personnel: Andrew Frame, JD Maresco, Luis Samaniego, Mark Essel and Brooks Rocco. Anyone able to pick up this baton?

    I’m in favor of fighting startups while they are still only at their series C. Nick’s reporting on Softbank, Greensill and Katerra is a big inspiration and we need more of it.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “The Citizen App’s Gamification of Vigilantism”

    Was just thinking about that black guy that was out jogging when he was intercepted and killed by guys that thought that he was a burglar running from his crimes based on what they heard from other people. With this app in full use, you would expect to see much more of this sort of thing happening. It is sort of that late TV program “Cops” – but you get to take part in the chase.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      How many times could that happen before someone decides to run decoy-black people through anti-black neighborhoods in order to lure amateur chasers into armed ambushes?

  19. IMOR

    “…in response to the criminal indictment of Officer Corey Budworth, the bureaus entire Rapid Response Team resigned. Sources with the Police Bureau say the team voted unanimously to disband. The Rapid Response Team is a group of volunteer officers who respond to civil disobedience, demonstrations, and riots. ”
    Good. There never was any need for that SWT bullcrap, let alone a group of self selected fascist clowns directed at gheir felllow citizens exercising their natural rights. Pathetic bullying losers resign! You have nothing to lose but your 15 year full ride double dipping pensions!

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    If Franken wanted to reach the Silicon Vampire crowd, he might have put that as . . . . ” A Tesla drops as fast as a Uber”.

    ( I hope he decides to run for Senator again. I hope he has posters of his face with slogans like
    ” Miss me yet?” and ” You get a second chance”.)

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