2:00PM Water Cooler 6/22/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

12 minutes (!): “Dawn song from a male, often faint as he flew all around his territory. Best portion in the tenth minute.” Includes barking dogs, what I think is an owl, human remarks.

* * *


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:

Now all falling together.

Case count by United States regions:

Decline has resumed.

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):

Texas has unfizzled, but Florida, capital of Latin America, leads.

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

Test positivity:

South still fallen off its cliff.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

It looks to me like al the regions have had three peaks, although of different heights and at different times. Except Southeast Asia, which has had two. Hmm…

* * *


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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, Forceful on Jan. 6, Privately Are in Turmoil” [Wall Street Journall]. “The far-right group the Oath Keepers is splintering after board members accused the founder of spending its money on hair dye, steaks and guns. The leader of the Proud Boys, choked off from the financial system, is printing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts to make money…. Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers appeared well-organized at the Capitol, some coordinating with walkie-talkies and wearing military-style outfits. Behind the facade of power is a yearslong cash crunch exacerbated by internal discord and isolation from financial firms and social media. Fallout from Jan. 6 made it all worse.” • And then, of course, there are the agents provocateurs. One assumes.

Biden Administration

“Progressives count their foreign policy wins with Omar flap in rear view” [Politico]. “Ilhan Omar started out in Congress as a somewhat lonely critic of decades of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Now, six months into her second term, the Minnesota Democrat has new and diverse allies…. That friendlier posture toward Omar indicates that her party’s shift on America’s role in the Middle East was more than just a short-term fixture of the recent 11-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.”

“California to Pay off all Past Due Rent Accrued During COVID, Giving Renters Clean Slate” [Newsweek]. • Well, so much for the recall.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What happened to Glenn Greenwald? Trump happened – and put the left’s priorities to the test” [Jonathon Cook]. Key paragraphs:

The problem with characterising Trump as a supremely evil figure is that all sorts of authoritarian political conclusions flow from that characterisation – precisely the political conclusions we have seen parts of the left adopting. Robinson may not expressly share these conclusions but, unlike Greenwald and Taibbi, he has largely ignored or downplayed the threat they present.

If Trump poses a unique danger to democracy, then to avoid any recurrence:

  • We are obligated to rally uncritically, or at least very much less critically, behind whoever was selected to be his opponent. Following Trump’s defeat, we are dutybound to restrain our criticisms of the winner, Joe Biden, however poor his performance, in case it opens the door to Trump, or someone like Trump, standing for the presidency in four years’ time.
  • We must curb free speech and limit the free-for-all of social media in case it contributed to the original surge of support for Trump, or created the more febrile political environment in which Trump flourished.
  • We must eradicate all signs of populism, whether on the right or the left, because we cannot be sure that in a battle of populisms the left will defeat the right, or that leftwing populism cannot be easily flipped into rightwing populism.
  • And most importantly, we must learn to distrust “the masses” – those who elected Trump – because they have demonstrated that they are too easily swayed by emotion, prejudice and charisma. Instead, we must think in more traditional liberal terms, of rule by technocrats and “experts” who can be trusted to run our societies largely in secret but provide a stability that should keep any Trumps out of power.

Greenwald and Taibbi have been focusing precisely on this kind of political fallout from the Trump presidency. And it looks suspiciously like this, as much as anything else, is what is antagonising Robinson and others.

“How QAnon captured the American church”‘ [QAnon]. “The recent Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey was the latest in a series of polls to find widespread support for the core tenets of QAnon among American evangelicals. A quarter of white and Hispanic evangelical Protestants agreed with Q’s central claim of a paedophilic cabal. Asked whether ‘there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders’, 26% of white evangelical Protestants and 29% of Hispanic Protestants agreed there was.”

A pot coming to the boil:

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the US fifth district including the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia rose to 22 in June of 2021 from 18 in May. It was the highest reading since October 2020…”

* * *

Insurance: “Entitled To Profit: In Texas, Title Insurance Is a “Total Scam”” [Texas Observer]. “Title insurance ‘has an origin in usefulness,’ says Jessie Lunsford, a longtime Austin real estate developer. Real estate law is complex, and a property’s chain of title can have defects that are difficult, if not impossible, to discover. In addition to muddled boundaries, unrecorded easements and liens, and other problems with decades-old paperwork, little of which is digitized, it’s possible for the long-lost heirs or ex-spouses of past owners to reappear and assert an ownership interest in a piece property. In theory, title insurance protects against these risks. In practice, such claims are vanishingly rare. The exact number per year is not available, but the title insurance industry’s loss ratio of 1.2 percent is far lower than other insurers usually incur. It’s tough to find a developer, attorney, agent, or broker who has been involved in a title dispute, or even heard of one. ‘Lord knows I’ve never filed a claim,’ said Lunsford, who has purchased some 30 properties in his career. Given the high price, he says, “It’s a total scam.'”

Tech: “Facebook’s VR ads test loses first game after backlash” [BBC]. “The first game developer signed up to test Facebook’s plan to put adverts into Oculus VR games has reversed course after a backlash from players. It comes days after Facebook announced it would place adverts inside players’ headsets, starting with shooter game Blaston. It was the only named title listed to take part. But its maker, Resolution Games, has now said its game “isn’t the best fit” for in-game advertising. After an outcry from gamers, the company issued a statement to media outlets from chief executive Tommy Palm, saying it had seen the feedback. ‘Some good points have been made, and we realise that Blaston isn’t the best fit for this type of advertising test. Therefore, we no longer plan to implement the test in Blaston,’ he said.” • That’s a damn shame.

Tech: “The Soft Corruption of Big Tech’s Antitrust Defense” [Big Technology]. “When New York State Senator Michael Gianaris called a hearing last September to discuss his new Big Tech antitrust bill, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all declined to appear. But as he sorted the schedule, the Progressive Policy Institute, a ‘radically pragmatic’ think tank, asked to send a representative. Alec Stapp, that representative, mounted a robust defense of Big Tech in prepared remarks at the session. But when Giannaris started asking about PPI’s funding, he clammed up. ‘In my role in research,’ Stapp said. ‘I’m not privy to the full donor list or who gives how much money.’ Left unsaid was that Apple, Facebook, and Google are all PPI donors, a fact that still frustrates Gianaris. ‘If Big Tech wants to defend itself,’ he told me, ‘It should have the courage to do so.’ That courage seems to be slipping away as support for antitrust action against Big Tech builds. These companies are instead paying third parties like PPI to make their case for them, and the organizations reliably advance their arguments, do so with spotty disclosure, shield them from criticism, and add credibility to their defense. It’s money well spent for the tech giants. All the while, the third parties tell us — and themselves — they aren’t bought. Stapp’s PPI is relatively unknown, but it’s not alone. The Brookings Institution, an esteemed think tank, takes money from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Yet it implausibly insists the money doesn’t influence its positions.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 21 at 12:18pm. No longer stuck in neutral!

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187(Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

Department of Feline Felicity

Heathcliff, for real?

Groves of Academe

“Rejecting Test Surveillance in Higher Education” (PDF) [Lindsey Barret, SSRN]. The Abstract: “The rise of remote proctoring software during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the dangers of surveillance-enabled pedagogy built on the belief that students can’t be trusted. These services, which deploy a range of identification protocols, computer and internet access limitations, and human or automated observation of students as they take tests remotely, are marketed as necessary to prevent cheating. But the success of these services in their stated goal is ill- supported at best and discredited at worst, particularly given their highly over- inclusive criteria for “suspicious” behavior. Meanwhile, the harms they inflict on students are clear: severe anxiety among test-takers, concerning data collection and use practices, and discriminatory flagging of students of color and students with disabilities have provoked widespread outcry from students, professors, privacy advocates, policymakers, and sometimes universities themselves. To make matters worse, the privacy and civil rights laws most relevant to the use of these services are generally inadequate to protect students from the harms they inflict. Colleges and universities routinely face difficult decisions that require reconciling conflicting interests, but whether to use remote proctoring software isn’t one of them. Remote proctoring software is not pedagogically beneficial, institutionally necessary, or remotely unavoidable, and its use further entrenches inequities in higher education that schools should be devoted to rooting out. Colleges and universities should abandon remote proctoring software, and apply the lessons from this failed experiment to their other existing or potential future uses of surveillance technologies and automated decision-making systems that threaten students’ privacy, access to important life opportunities, and intellectual freedom.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

A thread on the Emancipation Proclamation and geopolitics:

“‘Educate Yourself’: Seattle Human Rights Commission Dismisses Complaint Over Requiring Whites To Pay “Reparations Fees” For Pride Event” [Jonathan Turley]. “There is a controversy in Seattle over plans for a pride event to charge people more based on their race. The Seattle Human Rights Commission is under fire this week after sending a letter dismissing a complaint over the announcement that the Taking B(l)ack Pride on June 26th would charge White entrants a “reparations” fee. The Commission told Charlette LeFevre and Philip Lipson of Capitol Hill Pride that they needed to ‘educate’ themselves and consider the harm that they would cause by being participants in the event. Update: While the response of the Commission caused outrage from many, Lipson and LeFevre quickly apologized for even raising the issue. Promotional material for Taking B(l)ack Pride was posted on Facebook as a ‘BLACK AND BROWN QUEER TRANS CENTERED, PRIORITIZED, VALUED, EVENT.’ The Facebook page adds: ‘White allies and accomplices are welcome to attend but will be charged a $10 to $50 reparations fee that will be used to keep this event free of cost for BLACK AND BROWN Trans and Queer COMMUNITY.'” • I’ve always been suspicious of that “allies” concept. I don’t see individuals having allies as problematic; but collectives that have allies tend to be sovereigns.

The 1619 Project:

I think the 1619 Project maps to reparations, and reparations is what the PMC believes will save capitalism. Reading between the lines:

Notice Kamala in the background.

Guillotine Watch

“Behind elite boarding school’s veneer of trust and family, sexual misconduct was ‘ignored’” [Los Angeles Times]. “The school encourages informal, familial relationships among students and teachers, most of whom live on campus, dine and camp together. This, combined with rigorous academics, has long attracted the scions of some of the wealthiest families in the country, including the young Howard Hughes. But these very values that distinguished Thacher created a climate in which boundaries blurred, leaving youths susceptible to grooming by adults, unchecked harassment and alleged rapes.” • Sounds a lot like Yale Law School.

Class Warfare

“Internal Amazon documents shed light on how company pressures out 6% of office workers”: [Seattle Times]. “Amazon systematically attempts to channel 6% of its office employees out of the company each year, using processes embedded in proprietary software to help meet a target for turnover among low-ranked office workers, a metric Amazon calls “unregretted attrition,” according to internal company documents seen by The Seattle Times. The documents underscore the extent to which Amazon’s processes closely resemble the controversial management practice of stack ranking —in which employees are graded by comparison with each other rather than against a job description or performance goals — despite Amazon’s insistence that it does not engage in stack ranking. The documents also highlight how much of Amazon’s human resources processes are reliant on apps and algorithms, even among the company’s office workforce. And they provide the most detailed picture yet of how Amazon uses performance improvement plans to funnel low-ranked employees out of the company. The company expects more than one-third of employees on performance improvement plans to fail, documents show. Amazon has previously said that its performance improvement plans aren’t meant to punish employees. The policies described in the documents reviewed by The Seattle Times apply to the company’s office workforce, who comprise a minority of Amazon’s roughly 950,000 U.S. employees. Amazon’s warehouses replace workers much more frequently, The New York Times has reported: Before the pandemic, annual turnover rates at Amazon warehouses reached 150%” • Arbeit macht frei….

“Amazon’s Greatest Weapon Against Unions: Worker Turnover” [HuffPo]. “[T]he National Employment Law Project… found that the turnover rate in the local warehouse industry increases significantly when Amazon comes to town. Warehouse churn more than doubled in several California counties after Amazon facilities opened, averaging more than 100%. The Seattle Times conducted its own analysis of Amazon’s workforce data last year, putting the company’s turnover at 111% during the pandemic. A New York Times investigation published this week put the figure even higher, at 150%, showing that Amazon was shedding 3% of its workers every week before the pandemic began…. Under a turnover rate of 100%, every theoretical position inside the warehouse would turn over once in a year, on average. That has huge implications for organizing. …. At an Amazon warehouse, high turnover means a union would be losing cards every day as workers leave and new employees unfamiliar with the campaign replace them. Even if the union manages to win an election, high turnover could hurt its position at the bargaining table if some of the most active organizers have quit or been fired. And churn could even help the employer purge the union from the facility by convincing newer workers to decertify it.”

“Rich professionals are scammers’ favourite targets” [Financial Times]. “Scam artists, says Tamlyn Edmonds, a partner at specialist fraud prosecution law firm Edmonds Marshall McMahon, are increasingly targeting high-net-worth people. Clients, she adds, sometimes come to her having lost hundreds of thousands, even millions, to fraudsters…. But the real reason the rich are being targeted is because technology makes sophisticated scamming much easier. We have moved on from emails from obscure princes. A scam these days might involve a call to your mobile — but from a number that matches your bank’s. Scammers issue fake company prospectuses to attract investors and clone villa-rental websites to defraud holidaymakers. They impersonate celebrities, wealthy businesspeople (recently Elon Musk) and tax officials. They also know a lot about you. Social media is just the start; in the UK they may look you up at Companies House (which gives an idea of your income) and on the Land Registry. There are dozens of information sources that can help them convince you they are the real deal. Scammers also often invest a lot of time in working their marks. “We’ve seen people groom targets for 10-11 months,” Edmonds says.” • Or…. maybe the rich are just not that smart?

News of the Wired

Maybe I should have put this up under Politics:

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PM writes: “Wild Iris — Basket Flat, WA”

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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. Carolinian

    Re the demon Trump–we get that the elites are terrified of the masses in a blaming the victims mode that fears chickens coming home to roost. What is hard to understand is why genuinely intelligent people buy into the hysteria. I recall my astonishment and disillusionment that my hero Moyers was endorsing Russiagate. The politicization of everything is merely a way of making you not think. Or perhaps it’s that old saw–to think outside the box you need to be outside the box. Could be it’s time for a return to an era when our intellectuals were starving artists and not well paid TV or academic celebrities.

    1. fresno dan

      June 22, 2021 at 2:27 pm
      Who knows what makes people accept charges that have so many holes in them and ASK NO critical questions. Group think?
      Maybe Facebook and Twitter are the modern counterparts of the French Revolutions Revolutionary Tribunals. No one dare question their judgements.

    2. km

      If the current system is good at nothing else, it is very good at deciding whom to buy off, whom to co-opt, whom to marginalize, whom to eliminate.

      Look how the leading figures in the Civil Rights Movement, people who did genuinely heroic things, they faced down Bull Connor and his dogs, were tamed and turned into machine politicians and loyal supporters of Team D.

      Look how fire eating Sixties radicals were neutered and became tenure-chasing academics and mild-mannered advocates of “working within the system”.

      1. Carolinian

        What I’m saying is that those 60s radicals often had working class parents and knew a different world than the children they in turn parented. The great myth the establishment has about Trump is that his followers are some kind of cult whereas in reality they often were/are as much anarchists against the system as some of those long ago demonstrators. In the beginning there were legitimate concerns about Trump’s finger on the war machine button but after awhile it became obvious that he is 90 percent hot air.

        Plus he’s gone. Get over it already. He’s not coming back.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Plus he’s gone. Get over it already. He’s not coming back.

          Jinx! I’m promised to stop telling myself that about him in the 80s. /sonotsayingitdidnotworkeither

      2. Alfred

        People in power are pathological liars, and use any means to “reach” their opponents. Plus they make “radicals” seem alone and lost and vulnerable, and it wears them down eventually. I think you have to be a warrior who does not play their game, even if it makes you seem “shifty and untrustworthy”, to get anywhere. Walmart will never hire you, but is that such a bad thing?

  2. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “California to Pay off all Past Due Rent Accrued During COVID, Giving Renters Clean Slate”

    So now we have a “Newsom put” in California real estate investing? On the cusp of a residential rental rate surge nationwide – why not.

    1. Keith

      Well, by suspending rental payments and preventing evictions, the state owed these private property owners for their losses. This was a state created crisis that resulted in a taking. Compensation is owed.

      1. Mr Magoo

        There is logic in that argument. However will this rule apply to all ventures that were negatively impacted by closures? Why liable for 100% of revenues if expenses fidnt match?

      2. urdsama

        By this logic, anyone who lost a job due to a business failure tied to COVID-19 restrictions should also be made whole.

        But they won’t.

        One guess as to why not.

      3. Tom Stone

        Keith is right, it is a taking.
        And because it involves Real Estate it is a form of condemnation, I’d love to hear my late Father’s take on this because it was his specialty.
        I did get to watch him testify before the California Supreme court on one occasion.
        Dad was a high forceps baby, spastic from birth and with a noticeable stutter.
        It didn’t stop him from becoming a Cowboy, Cattle Rancher or successful Expert Witness specializing in Condemnation Law.

        1. upstater

          I wish the courts were as enthusiastic about corporate takings from the commons as they are for supposed government takings. We having a warming climate, breathe polluted air, drink foul water and have food laced with toxins there are few consequences for these corporate takings.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Jonathan Cook article may seem like an inside-baseball argument. But you don’t have to know Greenwald and Taibbi well to get what Cook is talking about, which is how panic has made people magnify authoritarian tendencies.

    To quote Cook: “Russiagate did not just divide the left, it dramatically strengthened the right.”

    That bears repeating.

    And this: “Greenwald and Taibbi talk so much about the role of the traditional media and Silicon Valley because they understand that the media’s professed liberalism – claims to be protecting the rights of women, ethnic minorities and the trans community – is a very effective way of prettifying corporate authoritarianism, an authoritarianism the left claims to be fighting but has readily endorsed once it has been given a liberal makeover.”

    An excellent summary of where we are, from someone who lives far away.

    1. dcblogger

      in my never was humble opinion, Greenwald and Taibbi have gone beyond taking down Russiagate. Nathan Robison is right on target in my view:

      A person who sees themselves as an Independent Thinker can come to resent and despise liberal hypocrisy so much that they don’t notice themselves becoming careless and reflexive thinkers, and buying into conservative propaganda that looks like “common sense” but isn’t. They can care a lot more about the threat posed by college students to free speech than the threat posed by Republican state legislators who want to tell professors what to teach. Taibbi and Greenwald have both shown an odd credulity toward conservative talking points about transgender people, perhaps because they haven’t thought carefully about the counterarguments. Greenwald has connected rises in violent crime to the presence of reformist prosecutors like Philadelphia’s Larry Krasner, and accused progressive media outlets of “erasing” facts about the negative effects of reform, even though this an easily debunked myth. (Homicides have increased in metro areas but “the increase was consistent across 69 major municipalities, regardless of whether the county had a progressive district attorney.”)


      1. Yves Smith

        This verges on a straw man. The “oh these guys help the right by not being solid members of our team” is a tired trope.

        Taibbi and Greenwald cover issues that are in the circle of deviance as far as the MSM is concerned. They don’t need to and don’t see their role as cheerleading positions that already have a lot of press firepower behind them. And you apparently haven’t gotten the memo. The 1619 Project is explicitly about telling teachers how to teach. Both sides are pushing a ideological agenda. Fortunately conservatives pushing creationism (a long-established project) hasn’t gotten very far.

        1. dcblogger

          Nathan Robinson is NOT calling for people to be cheer leaders for team D, it is just when Greenwald calls out the ACLU when the ACLU correctly accused DC police of extra judicial murder of Deon Kay Greenwald is in the wrong.

          1. Zar

            Robinson isn’t exactly a D vs. R kind of person. But he certainly believes in Team Left and its superiority to Team Right, and it pains him terribly when the two try to find common cause with each other; he regards it as some kind of trick, or as fraternizing with the enemy. I like Cook’s response: it isn’t clear that maintaining leftist purity is the best way to attain even the loftiest lefty goals.

            Broadly, when Robinson complains about Greenwald reacting wrongly to the ACLU accusing DC police of murdering Deon Kay, I’m sympathetic. But when he says more specifically that Greenwald’s argument was “quick and easy to reach,” and that his own point was “not as intuitively obvious as Greenwald’s formulation,” I get badly annoyed. Reminds me of when I discovered atheism in college and decided that the problem with theists is that they simply can’t think things through properly. I think Robinson’s getting a bit old for that kind of self-satisfaction.

            1. Alfred

              In this vein, I always wondered in “bi-partisanship” really means that the sides don’t ever agree, but they each get something they want the other side doesn’t, and can feel righteous about that. “The sausage.”

            2. squarecoats

              Yes! (not to say Zar has said all this just echoing the annoyance) I feel that Robinson is having these sort of petulant outbursts and people are trying to like calmly hold his hand and gently guide him through his misunderstandings. First imo Greenwald tried to do this w/r/t Robinson criticizing Krystal and Saagar, and now Cook has done a really lovely and patient job of explaining many of the same points Robinson is still getting wrong. Hopefully Robinson won’t see this as reason to include Cook in his next diatribe.

              Also I just want to point out the brilliant placement of the insistence “what you need is our print edition! subscribe!” (however in all caps with what maybe is intended as very hip hot pink lettering) inserted into Robinson’s article in question just shortly after his mini monolith of scare tweets from Greenwald and Taibbi.

        2. Arizona Slim

          Hooray! Yves is back — and smacking ’em down!

          Seriously, we have missed you around here. Glad you’re back in the NC nabe.

          1. HotFlash

            Yes indeed! Big virtual hug using only sanitized pixels in my fonts. Best wishes to/for your mom, too.

      2. km

        Boy, it’s too bad that Taibbi and Greenwald aren’t loyal team players, I mean, it was bad enough that they didn’t buy into the Russiagate conspiracy theory, now they question idpol and we only have the entire PMC and MSM to make our case for us. /s/

      3. jhallc

        I’m sorry but, Nathan Robinson is sounding a lot like all those “Hillary Democrats” who argue that Sanders is not really a Democrat. I mean, the man even had the nerve to go on Fox TV for a Town Meeting during the presidential primaries to make his case to the public.

        1. Alfred

          Hillary Dems think Sanders’ people should serve the food, and sweep up after they leave. Hills never wanted to do the work, and the voters knew it. She wanted to go to Wing and schmooze and drink white whine with the Cool Girls. (Gee, whatever happened to Wing?)

        2. KLG

          Precisely. Having been a subscriber to his magazine from near its beginning, yes, that is exactly what Nathan J. Robinson sounds like, largely because he suffers from the Left strain of Trump Derangement Syndrome. The key part of the article for me was when Jonathan Cook pointed out how Robinson admits he would not have tweeted about Israel if he had only known the Guardian would fire him for it: “Robinson finally came unstuck when a Guardian editor effectively fired him for writing a satirical tweet about the huge sums of aid given by the US to Israel each year to kill and maim Palestinians under occupation and destroy their infrastructure.” Therein lies a big part of the less than completely serious nature of Current Affairs.

          Still, Robinson provides an important service. His magazine is interesting if predictable (as is Jacobin, which along with the Baffler – Thomas Frank, founder – elicited some High Snark from James Walcott, of Vanity Fair last time I paid attention to him, in the first number of the uncancelled Leon Wieseltier’s new quarterly paean to High Liberalism, Liberties. They must be doing something right! BTW Liberties is attractive, well written, and serious if predictable, discounting the very first article which was nothing but a reg’lar Liberal/PMC fit thrown by Michael Ignatieff). Robinson and Jacobin’s Bhaskar Sunkara (who just had a column in the Guardian telling us that nuclear energy is an answer to something or other) have brought socialism nearer the mainstream, which is something Michael Harrington, Irving Howe and their several generations of serious writers at Dissent were never able to accomplish in their oh-so-serious idiom, which did nevertheless appeal to me enough to join the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee in 1977 (progenitor of the DSA when I think we had 5000 members – good times before High Neoliberalism took hold).

          Anyway, give me Taibbi and Greenwald and NC every day over Nathan Robinson. Liberals are not a friend of the Left, or of the Earth and its people.

      4. Big River Bandido

        This comment is a Gish Gallop of Team D circle-the-wagons hogwash — exactly what I expect to see at a sheepdog blog like Common Dreams, and exactly what I come to NC to escape. As such, I won’t respond point by point. Glad to see so many commenters calling out this crap.

      5. Fern

        I think Jonathan Cook’s article was a brilliant distillation. First, it’s important to remember that Glenn Greenwald came from a libertarian, free speech perspective. I watched him become more knowledgeable about U.S. foreign policy over the years, and move to the left. He was never a card-carrying Democrat, and there is no reason to demand that he become one now.

        Greenwald and Taibbi and many of the rest of us focus on the neoliberal, authoritarian drift of the Democratic party for a very good reason. It’s because the well-meaning liberals who have been suckered into supporting candidates to the right of Atilla the Hun along with supporting the causes of censorship, a militaristic, hegemonic foreign policy, and worship of the intelligence agencies are the only large mass of people who would otherwise be fighting for a better society and planet.

      6. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Greenwald and Taibbi are populists trying to unite through Economic Issues rather than divide through Identity Politics like the Liberal and Conservative Establishments.

        Kill all Idpol with Fire.

        Nice to see Yves back, AGREED!

    2. fresno dan

      DJG, Reality Czar
      June 22, 2021 at 2:30 pm
      I agree. What is understood to be liberalism today is akin to putting a label of “organic” on a bag of potato chips.

      1. hunkerdown

        Liberal ≠ godly. Liberalism has always been about individualism and individual accounting. Whatever feel-good consumerist or righteous nonsense other people put on it is on them.

        1. ambrit

          That “..feel good consumerist or righteous nonsense..” might be “on them,” but, being in positions of influence, “they” tend to beat the rest of us into submission using those “nonsense” “arguments.” (Tax policy over the last thirty years is a case in point.)

      2. ambrit

        I can see exactly that happening “in the Marketplace.” Plus, a price premium being placed on said “organic” chips. [Consider the proliferation of “alt-potato” chips. All touted as being “healthy” and or “good for the Planet.” Also consider the oil the chips are fried in.] As Watney shows us in the film “The Martian,” there will be potato chips on the Red Planet. (As for the appellation “Red Planet;” does that mean that it will be a Planetary Fiefdom of the Democrat Party?)

  4. FreeMarketApologist

    “But the real reason the rich are being targeted is because technology makes sophisticated scamming much easier.”

    “Or…. maybe the rich are just not that smart?”

    The answer is much simpler, as Mr. Willie Sutton could tell you.

    1. doug

      Exactly. They would not find it profitable to speed eleven months grooming just anyone….
      I add my thanks for the Cook article. It helped me understand a bit, I think.

  5. dcblogger

    American evangelicals does NOT equal American church. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, UCC, Disciples of Christ, and others could not be described as evangelical in the political term in which this is meant. Nor can the Black Church be described as evangelical in the political sense of the terms. Also widespread support is not the same as majority, so I am not sure that Quanon has captured American white evangelicals, although certainly wide spread support.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      dcblogger: Nevertheless, in U.S. culture, evangelical Christianity (and its fundamental offshoots) is considered more American, which is why we are enjoined to sing Amazing Grace as the alternate national anthem. It is the default national religion–and it is also, ironically, pretty much obviously a form of identity politics, now isn’t it?

      Greek Orthodox? Is that an American church? A real American church? Come on.

      I won’t even mention the Chaldean Catholic church not so far from me. Too complicated.

      1. RMO

        Yes, Eastern Orthodox Christianity is represented by an U.S. church:


        My brother in law and his family are members (it also has parishes here in Canada)

        There is also the Antiochian:


        Of which my wife is a member. She and her brother grew up in a household that was evangelical along with Mennonite connections through their mother. My wife converted after falling out with the evangelicals and years of being religious but not in any church. When she told her parents her dad tried to cast out the demons that were influencing here – which she found immensely funny. Her brother converted when he married. There are old family acquaintances who still consider them idolaters on their way to hell to this day!

        1. DJG, Reality Czar

          RMO: Heck, isn’t there an iconostasis? And isn’t it lovely?

          There’s your darn idolatry.

        2. Librarian Guy

          I was having lunch with a friend who grew up within Indian culture (E. India, Asia.) She shared her shock at all the bizarre micro-churches and schismatic sects she first experienced on coming to the USA. It does seem true that Americans, so many being so detached from the material nitty-gritty of daily life, have both a socially-generated drive for “religious” answers & group-identification (something noticed by outsiders as far back as Tocqueville, if not further), alongside the presiding hyper-individualism which started with the US’s Protestant roots, hugely aggravated by the Market of Plenty. Thus schismatic groups crop up, grow, and sometimes fade away, on and on . . . For those who don’t know the Emo Phillips gag about religious schism in crisis, it’s well worth watching– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3fAcxcxoZ8

          1. HotFlash

            Well, you know, Hinduism has various deities, Catholicism has its pantheon of saints, maybe Protestants gotta have different denominations/sects? As a German-born friend of mine (ex-Luftwaffe pilot), alas no longer living, used to say about the US, “What can you expect from a nation that was founded by every kook and religious nut in Europe?”

      2. Bill Smith

        “Nevertheless, in U.S. culture, evangelical Christianity (and its fundamental offshoots) is considered more American,”

        More American than what?

        1. Yves Smith

          No one in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, or Pacific Northwest would agree. In fact, they’d recoil if presented with that assertion.

          1. DJG, Reality Czar

            Yves Smith: Indeed.

            Yet one of the ways the evangelicals and fundis cast their seed upon stony ground is by an assumption that their form of religion is the true one–and the most American one. Anyone brought up Roman Catholic has gotten the treatment (hmmm, I’m thinking back to John F. Kennedy and that trip to calm the religious qualms of the divines in Houston). Which is why I’d also characterize evangelicals and fundis as engaged in identity politics.

            1. Utah

              I was going to comment about Ammon Bundy and his gang. They took over a bird refuge in Oregon. This was after the standoff in Nevada. Bundy is running for governor of Idaho now. They are all Mormon, which I would argue is evangelical, despite both groups claiming they’re not. Just my opinion as an ex Mormon.

      3. Procopius

        I saw the results of a poll somewhere recently. The proportion of Americans who now say they are members of a religious organization (i.e., church, temple, synagogue, etc.) is 47%. The first time it has ever gone below 50%. Only a couple of decades ago it was 70%.

    2. Gareth

      What do you think the term evangelical means, DCBlogger? Define it using the characteristics by which you identify it, please. There is no point in discussing it with you if you refuse to specify exactly what you are talking about. Not Catholic and not Lutheran is not going to cut it. I have met Catholics and Lutherans who classify themselves as Evangelicals. Several of the UMC churches and AME churches in my area would also classify themselves that way.

      1. dcblogger

        In contemporary American political parlance American evangelical is white, politically conservative Christian. From Jerry Falwell Sr,, Pat Robinson, Joel Olsteen, etc. From a theological point of view, Jimmy Carter is an evangelical Christian, but when reporters refer to evangelical Christians, they are not referring to Jimmy Carter. Nor are they not referring to Rev. Barber. They are referring to televangelists and a highly politicized group of white Protestants.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Quite the tell there, to define a religious group not by its theological tenets but by race and politics. Mm kay.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Exactly. I always associate Evangelicals with the arch Israeli-Saudi Neocon Alliance that believes Jesus will come back after all the jews return to Israel.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      The questions , at least those in the blurb, are so vague as to be nearly meaningless. I’m sure many respondents had heard of Jeffry Epstein, and the wish that our political class be swept away is one shared by many, not just church goers. None of that has anything to do with QAnon, an organization that has widespread support only in the febrile imaginations of liberals who long to be turning someone in.

  6. Alfred

    All students can not be trusted. That’s how proctoring came to be in the first place. What’s the big deal? In college I paid no attention to the proctors because I was busy concentrating on the test. Video surveillance is lazy, however. Unless the proctor’s word against the student’s is not good enough, which I can readily see generating parent lawsuits defending the little darlings.

    The rich are targeted because they have the money. Duh. And I bet they don’t keep track of every penny the way people like me have to–I know every day where all my transactions are. When you have someone else balancing your accounts or you only do it once a month, you are vulnerable.



    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      The issue covered in that paper is electronic proctoring. Specifically remote proctoring software, not human oversight. The abstract is written in soppy, woke terms but the flaws in remote proctoring are very real. Take my experience as an adjunct at a local community college. The 3rd party, for-profit company they contracted with to provide electronic proctoring for online classes required the adjunct to sign away key rights as a condition of using it. I would have been required to sign a EULA that tossed responsibilities on me for actions that were entirely beyond my control.

      The full timer I spoke to about it told me not to use electronic proctoring for pedagogical reasons; she didn’t even know about the high handed EULA. Both the college I taught at and community colleges across the nation provide in-person proctoring services that can be used for a fee by students taking online classes at other institutions..

      Electronic remote proctoring is a grift. It’s a education industrial complex scam. We already have a nationwide network of community colleges that provide high quality proctoring daily during the standard school year. They provide this service for 1) their students, both for online classes and for in-person exams missed due to illness, etc., 2) non-student community members who need to take standardized tests such as the Accuplacer exam, and 3) remote or distance learning students who need to take proctored exams for courses at other institutions. In most cases community college proctoring services charge a small fee for use by non-students, and these can add up. 3 proctored exams in a semester may cost a distance student taking an online class an extra $100, which is not small change.

      However, it’s all run by humans and trained proctors, not algorithms. At the community college level the system is nationwide and works well. The biggest issue is at the end of each semester; reserving seating times in the exam center can get difficult.

      4 year universities often do not have enough capacity. Their proctoring centers exist mainly to serve special needs or disabled students who require extra time, or student athletes who need to take exams in advance due to game schedules. They can and should increase in person proctoring however. Cutting corners with opaque, EULA soaked software should not be acceptable to the student body, their parents, or other members of the community (I.e. all state residents when it’s a state university).

    2. KommieKat

      “All students can not be trusted”? Do you mean “not all students can be trusted” – trivially true, or that “no student can be trusted” – manifestly false and a particularly problematic point of view, I think?

      Maybe I am just a naive old professor, but I think expectations are supremely important in these matters. If faculty and administrators convey, implicitly and explicitly, the idea that students cannot be trusted, then markedly fewer students will turn out trustworthy. One reaps what one sews.

      There are many good alternatives to electronically proctored exams, but these require thought, planning and letting go of some cherished assumptions that faculty hold.

      1. Alfred

        Pardon. If I meant “no student can be trusted” I would have written that.

        “One reaps what one sews.” Are you harvesting garments, or is that a homophone accident?


      2. Yves Smith

        We had proctors at Harvard and HBS when I was there. I don’t see what the point is of getting exercised about them. People cheat, particularly when perceived stakes are high.

    3. Glen

      So the guy in the dorm room next to me in college one year was a baseball “red dot”. He had a red dot next to his name on the admission rolls because a team coach wanted him for the baseball team so wave the admission requirements. And that’s how I met Bob.

      Now, Bob was a heck of a guy to have living next door to you in the dorms, mostly because he had a kegger every Wednesday night in his dorm room (I think all the other nights were already booked with keggers somewhere else). Bob took classes that I could not even find in the course catalogs – he had a Russian theater class where they took a bus (complete with ANOTHER KEGGER) down to SF to watch a Russian play every Thursday (in Russian, and no, Bob didn’t understand a word of Russian).

      But Bob had a problem – he had to take calculus, and he completely sucked at math. So he hired a math grad student to take all the tests. In the first midterm, Bob’s ringer got a C, and in the second midterm a D. So by the end of the quarter, Bob is completely pissed. He’s paid good money for this guy to get good grades, but now Bob might actually flunk out. In a moment of divine madness, Bob decides HE can do better than the math grad student so he starts studying like crazy to take the final and save his college partying career.

      The day of the final. Bob shows up and sits down to take the test. About fifteen minutes into the test, the proctor walks over, declares that Bob is not Bob since he wasn’t the guy at the last two tests, grabs Bob’s Blue Book and kicks him out of the test. Bob flunks.

      This was quite a confusing moral lesson for a young college student to absorb, but [family blogging] hilarious.

          1. HotFlash

            Sorry, larry. It’s an upside-down ‘LOL’ because I was laughing so hard I fell over backwards in my chair. And it’s older than Y2K (but a bit younger than 23 skidoo), so that’s maybe why you missed it. :)

      1. Dennis Dwyer

        > The day of the final. Bob shows up and sits down to take the test. About fifteen minutes into the test,
        > the proctor walks over [and] declares that Bob is not Bob since he wasn’t the guy at the last two tests …

        A friend of mine, John, was a TA in the English Department of a major football university, teaching Freshman Composition. John had zero interest in football himself but one semester he had this big young fellow in his section, Arley Joe, who was supposedly the latest, greatest new gridiron star in the making. John said that AJ was a completely average student.

        Well, it turned out that the team did well that year and went to a bowl game. John was invited to a party to watch the game live on television. At one point, after a thrilling touchdown, the star-hero went to the sideline and took his helmet off. The TV camera was right there, and zoomed in. ‘But … but …’ said John. ‘That’s not Arley Joe!’ :-)

  7. Jeremy Grimm

    The plantidote offers an especially attractive pattern and color mix. I have been collecting plantidote images for a while now, hoping to find some best way to extract their patterns. I collect other images for their color mixes and how well they can be discriminated in my display screen — but I lack a good tool to identify the color mix at different points in an image. I suspect a beautiful color image could offer color mixes that would make the colors in a colorindex pale by comparison.

    I feel a great wealth of designs for jewelry, cloth, and whatever could be extracted from the images I have collected. I work with Linux and GIMP. Are there tools for Linux or additions to GIMP that are more effective at extracting design than my eye and a point-by-point trace over the images? I have not trained my ability to draw, but drawing seems superfluous when photos can so well capture line and proportion, and image tools can so well transform them to what my mind’s eye sees.

    1. marku52

      If I understand what you are trying to do, the software that comes with the Curio Cutter machine has a neat feature called “trace outline”. Drag a box around the area of interest and adjust some sensitivity sliders, and you can cut out a trace. This then can be exported as a DXF. I used this to export a Marvin the Martian outline for a water jetter to cut out of thin steel plate.
      The software is called Silhouette Studio. I expect its competitor Cricut has similar features.

      I recently used this feature to cut out spray paint stencils for a Smokey the Bear yard art.

      I found this much easier than laying lines on top of an image in LibreCad

  8. fresno dan

    Tech: “The Soft Corruption of Big Tech’s Antitrust Defense” [Big Technology]
    The Brookings Institution, an esteemed think tank, takes money from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Yet it implausibly insists the money doesn’t influence its positions.”
    He who pays the piper calls the tune…
    We live in such an all encompassing sea of bull$hit that this obvious observation, that renders about 99.9999998 percent of punditry on TV corrupt, is simply ignored.
    Nothing can stop the incessant pitching of:
    War is peace
    Freedom is slavery
    Ignorance is strength

    1. hunkerdown

      The Progressive Policy Institute, let it never be forgotten or forgiven, is to blame for r/neoliberal’s existence and the drive-by epistemology which ourguy Mirowski has extensively unpicked.

  9. Mikel

    RE: “What happened to Glenn Greenwald? Trump happened – and put the left’s priorities to the test” [Jonathon Cook].
    “And most importantly, we must learn to distrust “the masses” – those who elected Trump – because they have demonstrated that they are too easily swayed by emotion, prejudice and charisma. Instead, we must think in more traditional liberal terms, of rule by technocrats and “experts” who can be trusted to run our societies largely in secret but provide a stability that should keep any Trumps out of power.”

    Where to begin? With the fact that most authoritarian figures, especially 20th Century ones they like to compare Trump to, are propped up and groomed by the elite. Funded by big money, usually in response to strong pushes toward democratic reforms that will affect their profits.

    “The masses” are too easily swayed by “charisma”? All the establishment and their minions do is put politics in the realm of the dramatic and emotional. It’s always about the “narrative” and “branding”. How does a candidate look? How do they dress? How do they talk? It’s used to drive wedges whenever a candidate who is not polished speaks for reforms and starts to get a following.

  10. JBird4049

    >>> think the 1619 Project maps to reparations, and reparations is what the PMC believes will save capitalism. Reading between the lines:

    Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen: “We as a country are missing out on so many venues for growth because our capital is bottlenecked by race and region. Research has shown that decreasing barriers faced by African-Americans would produce substantial gains.”

    Really? They actually believe this nonsense?

    I keep saying this. The more poor Americans there are, the greater the number of the hungry, the homeless there is, the more of this yammering there is about some amorphous privilege. Can you eat it? Does it shelter you from the rain or clothe you? Can it even give you a job that pays enough to live on, never mind thrive? Although racism does give the advantage of some form of privilege, it does not feed, clothe, or shelter you or give a job that pays enough for you to do so yourself. Trust me. I have gone to be bed hungry or worried about my late rent often enough with my “privilege” fully intact.

    The horrible part of this is that it is likely to push back our successes against racism, to reduce poverty and corruption. This gives wealth and power to people like the rulers of Alabama and Mississippi, the princes at Goldman Sachs, and the oligarchs like Bezos, Zuckerberg, and Gates; they will happily watch the world burn while more become poor and go hungry using the mantra of privilege as a diversion. And burn it will, not just from climate change.

    1. Alfred

      This statement by Yellen keeps them firmly in control. They will be the ones making the decisions about how “decreasing the barriers” will be accomplished, and it won’t go anywhere except in a token way, as it always has, for people who please them by seeming not to be a real change. Yellen and the rest have to remain in control, and their world view is not about helping the poor classes become comfortable.

    2. HotFlash

      Trust me. I have gone to be bed hungry or worried about my late rent often enough with my “privilege” fully intact.

      Yup. And when I look at soup kitchens, panhandlers, bottle collectors, and dwellers under bridges, I see disproportionately white and youngish to middle-aged men. IOW, the class that is supposedly the princes of the earth.

      I believe my lying eyes.

    3. Glen

      Call Yellen’s bluff:

      Reparations – give descendants of American slavery a hundred million bucks. Every one of them.

      I’m fine with it. Is it any worse than giving Wall St trillions? It’s in all probability a more effect way to combat poverty and provide opportunity.

    4. Anthony Noel

      You’re very right. The very concept of modern racism, starting with the Code Noir and the so called Black Laws that the Americans largely developed off the code’s foundation was largely designed to make sure that poor or enslaved blacks and poor or indentured whites in the extremely profitable French sugar colonies, did not make common cause and rise against the local land owners be they black or white.

      Current use of the bastardized versions of critical race theory and idpol kicking around today are just a flip side of the same coin. Make sure there can be no common cause or common ground between the bottom 90 percent. Make sure class consciousness is suppressed in favor of shallow “identity” and “self essentialism” despite the fact that a unified class consciousness did more to push back against racism then any PMC/Courtier class approved anti-racist “training”.

      It was real hard to hate the man standing side by side with you on the shop floor when the boss hired the Pinkerton’s to smash all your skulls regardless of your skin tone. Hence the drive by a certain class of liberal to redefine the labor movement and rise of unionization as a fundamentally raciest occurrence rather then what could be arguably called the birth of the modern American civil rights movement.

  11. antidlc

    WSJ Opinion piece:

    Are Covid Vaccines Riskier Than Advertised?
    There are concerning trends on blood clots and low platelets, not that the authorities will tell you.


    One remarkable aspect of the Covid-19 pandemic has been how often unpopular scientific ideas, from the lab-leak theory to the efficacy of masks, were initially dismissed, even ridiculed, only to resurface later in mainstream thinking. Differences of opinion have sometimes been rooted in disagreement over the underlying science. But the more common motivation has been political.

    Another reversal in thinking may be imminent. Some scientists have raised concerns that the safety risks of Covid-19 vaccines have been underestimated. But the politics of vaccination has relegated their concerns to the outskirts of scientific thinking—for now.

    1. Cuibono

      Actual rational discussion of the VAERS data seems not to be allowed. VAERs functions as a signal. Nothing more. To pretend we should ignore that signal ’cause Trump seems rather reckless. Prior vaccines have been pulled for far smaller signals. Admittedly not in the midst of pandemics.
      But also it is true to say that correlation is not causation.

  12. Kevin

    “Behind elite boarding school’s veneer of trust and family, sexual misconduct was ‘ignored’”

    Decades long problem in elite eastern schools as well.

    Google Pedophile Phillips for outrageous examples.

  13. allan

    Time to check in and see how the magic of the marketplace has reinvigorated US production of computer chips
    in a way that the dead hand of centralized planning never could … oh, never mind …

    Why IBM, GlobalFoundries are suing each other over East Fishkill deal [PoughkeepsieJournal.com]

    When IBM and GlobalFoundries struck a deal in 2014, it seemed to be a moment of salvation for the former’s struggling microchip plants in East Fishkill and Burlington, Vermont.

    Big Blue agreed to pay GlobalFoundries $1.5 billion to take over the plants, and GlobalFoundries would supply IBM with high-end chips for the next decade.

    IBM benefited from cutting an unprofitable part of its business and maintaining a chip pipeline without cutting local jobs. GlobalFoundries, meanwhile, would be in a strong position to grow its semiconductor business.

    Nearly seven years after announcing that agreement, the two companies have filed lawsuits against one another.

    IBM claims GlobalFoundries has failed to provide suitable chips. The company is seeking the $1.5 billion it paid plus damages.

    GlobalFoundries counters that it invested more than $1.5 billion to develop the chips IBM sought, but it would require billions more in investments to meet IBM’s demands. GlobalFoundries also claims the companies have not communicated for nearly 2½ years before IBM came to Global with talk of a lawsuit, which happened weeks after public reports announcing GlobalFoundries’ potential initial public offering. …

    Financialization is the fifth Horse of the Apocalypse.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If IBM paid only $1.5 billion to have GlobalFoundries develop chips for them, then they were seriously delusional. From what I have been reading this year, if you want to get into that game you have to be spending tens of billions just to get into the game itself. Either IBM had unrealistic expectations or GlobalFoundries understated what was required which was why they came back for more money. You might be able to get way with that attitude in a Pentagon contract but in a commercial contract, not so much.

  14. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding the ads in VR, I feel forced to quote the mediocre movie Ready Player 1, “We estimate we can sell up to 80% of an individual’s visual field before inducing seizures.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      The only way that ads could possibly work in a game like Blaston would be if players could shoot the ads and get points for doing so. Otherwise, no. Next step is that you can’t play those games unless you have a Facebook account. Guess what? With games, you just say no and go to a competitor game instead. I bet that Blaston sales have fallen off a cliff since this happened. A player would know that if there are Facebook ads ingame, that Facebook would then be watching & listening to everything they said or did for analysis to target them for yet more ads. Pass.

      1. RMO

        Rev: I’m not so sure about that. Gamers have been remarkably willing to not only keep giving their money to companies that treat their workers appallingly and constantly do ethically dubious things but they also seem to keep shelling out the dollars for games that are buggy to broken, have exploitative mechanics and, in the case of the ones requiring an online connection, frequently get killed off by the company that made them after a fairly short time meaning they’ve paid fifty to seventy dollars at least for a game they can no longer play.

        EA could release a new Madden game that does nothing but administer painful electrical shocks to the player while the video puts out seizure inducing flashes and it would still be a bestseller. The ad stuff may have been fumbled this time but it’s going to keep coming.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Was waiting for a Ready Player One reference!

      My favorite movie of 2018 and Spielbergs best offering in a couple decades!!!!



  15. flora

    My comment with a link to Ed Snowden’s newest Substack article is in mod land. Good article.

  16. Carolinian

    Re Amazon’s office worker eugenics–must keep corporate precious bodily fluids pure doncha know? Plus the plan has the advantage of not applying to Jeff Bezos himself who is allowed to have almost any goofy idea.

    One should say though that this isn’t new news and was talked about some years ago in the book The Everything Store. Bezos has always been a ruthless boss who makes underlings cry.

    1. cnchal

      > Bezos has always been a ruthless boss who makes underlings cry.

      I wonder how much crying the core group closest to him does? Not much is my guess.

      Are we at the point where what happens in an Amazon warehouse stays in an Amazon warehouse or is society ever going to wake up to what is really going on in there? There is no way the pace of work is humane. This is by design. Amazon spokes people have said that it, it being Amazon, can do what ever it wants. It chooses to abuse.

      Funny how stuff from inside Amazon is now being spilled. Institutionalized, automated, algorithmically applied abuse.

      Is an annual 150% warehouse employee turnover rate acceptable or outrageous? It has been going on for years too. Does that mean it is still OK is is there a point where too much is too much?

      Can society grab the whip out of Bezos hand before being totally whipped itself?

  17. enoughisenough

    Lambert, how are reparations supposed to save capitalism, according to the PMC, as you said?

    I mean, the PMC’s vision of how progress is supposed to happen never makes sense, and they never connect the dots, and they never think about the most obvious of unintended consequences, and I can never follow the logical leap.

    But does anyone know how this leap is supposed to be performed, just for the sake of argument?

    it is so hard to keep up with all the conspiracies.

    1. HotFlash

      The official explanation, I believe, is more or less an underpants gnome process, thus: 1.) Reparations > 2.) ? > 3.) equality.

      In reality, I think implementaion of ‘reparations’ as currently kicked around would be the single biggest thing to further fragment society in general and the working class in particular. How would it be quantified? Would Obama’s kids get full reps or not? would lighter-skinned Blacks get less than darker-skinned Blacks? would we have Hutu’s and Tutsi’s all over again? would there be means-testing? DNA testing? generations in country? verified genealogies? what about, ahem, dead people, killed people, and incarcerated people, damage that can’t be undone? would their reparations be inheritable? the disproportionately Black prison populations imprisoned wrongly, do they get their Pell grants and access to govt subsidies back? would Condoleeza Rice be eligible or would her past scholarships and ‘affirmative action’ benefits be clawed back? would George Floyd’s, Trayvon Martin’s, or Eric Garner’s surviving families get more? would Oprah be reverse means-tested and owe money back? would Whites’ access to, say, FHA loans be penalized? I do not think any plan for reparations could be administered that could possibly be regarded as fair by everyone or even a majority. I think we would be seeing not only some very, very angry Whites (an attempt at fair and balanced capitalization here) but many, many others of all races, colours and backgrounds. Probably creeds and sexual orientations, too.

      What about Latinos/x, indigenous persons, who were also enslaved, sometimes to the point of extinction, and who were removed from their land, what about the Japanese in America who were interned and had their property confiscated (and never returned). What about the California Indians who were enslaved under the Spanish — so on annexing Spanish possessions, did the US also annex their historic debts?

      And what about people like me, potato famine Irish? Jews fleeing Hitler? English fleeing religious persecution? Could we demand reps from the British, or Germany or somebody, anybody? Gays? VIctims of J. Edgar Hoover? Chelsea Manning, Ed Snowden, Julian Assange?

      I do not think that the answer is to parse and quantify grievances and then try to cancel them with a lump-sum payment (sounds like the old “settled out of court”) but rather to implement a *real* living wage (and $15/hr doesn’t cut it anymore, folks), affordable housing including home ownership if wanted, affordable good quality food, single-payer Medicare for All, fair policing (starting with decriminalizing minor drugs such as mj), and free university, college, trade school, and, I would add, free continuing education in all subjects including basic economic literacy. Daycare would be nice too, unless a ‘fair wage’ means that two wage-earners are not required to keep a family fed, housed, and clothed.

      This for EVERYBODY, and on an ONGOING BASIS (yes, I know I’m shouting, sorry). If Bezos, Gates, Theil, et al., are envious, they can just grind their teeth. Tax ’em.

      A government that isn’t afraid of enforcing anti-monopoly legislation would be cool, too.

      1. RMO

        “what about the Japanese in America who were interned and had their property confiscated”

        The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 included an apology and $20,000 compensation to each of the former internees who were still living at the time.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I’d say they’d do it by targeting Black people with money to start businesses and basically neoliberalism because Markets and Geaux Die?

    3. marym

      A 1619 project essay on healthcare is framed as “Why doesn’t the US have universal healthcare?” It has references from the Reconstruction era, the 1950’s, the implementation of Medicare/Medicaid, and the ACA to support from black people for establishing healthcare as a human right and federal responsibility for implementation; and to conservative objections.

      In liberal parlance there seems to be a focus currently on “equity.” For example, in the vaccination project there have been some special efforts and priorities for underserved communities. Maybe that’s a generalized notion of reparations, which seems more in the means-tested, fragmented, incremental, etc. style of the PMC.

      (This comment is just a non-expert reflection on the issue you raised. My personal opinion is that broad based universal programs are the only way to address systemic inequities.)

  18. lyman alpha blob

    Commenter John Siman posted some longer excerpts from Taibbi’s new site recently and urged people to subscribe. I have been reading Taibbi for the better part of a generation now and that comment together with NC’s continued posting of many of Taibbi’s articles got me to finally subscribe the other day. I will subscribe to Greenwald soon as well and urge others to do the same, along with a contribution to NC too.

    I was also considering subscribing to Krystal and Saager’s new show. I gave what I thought was their website my email before their new program started, but in response I got a couple emails supposedly from them that protonmail flagged as looking like scams (along with one that wasn’t flagged). Also, I see their new program is on youtube – I had thought it was going to be on substack. Has anyone else successfully subscribed to their Breaking Points show and if so, what is the correct link to use? And is youtube going to get a cut of what I pay them somehow? I rather support them without having to support google financially at the same time – pretty sure they don’t really need it.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Thank you – that is not the link I gave my email address to originally so I will try yours instead.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Just subscribed yesterday to Krystal and Saegers new show on YouTube!

      Tbh had no idea they left The Hill and only found out seeing a Kyle Kulinski video saying that The Hill fd with their goodbye video.

  19. Gulag

    Another really important point raised in the Cook blog post is the issue of the major reasons for the more authoritarian turn of a portion of the intellectual left.

    It just may be that that such a turn is not primarily dictated by the belief that Trump is the incarnation of evil and must be stopped at any cost but rather that what Cook calls the moderate/liberal technocratic elite has now accumulated so much power (i.e. information control and narrative management along with expanding liquidity capabilities through the Federal Reserve and surveillance capabilities through hybrid public-private surveillance)
    that they are now in a position to crush any opposition and are presently in the process of attempting just that.

    1. BillS

      Generally a good article, but I noticed a couple of critical errors that I find odd.
      1) Perhaps a typo, but Operation Barbarossa began in 1941, not 1944.

      2) The extermination of Jews in the East was mainly a bullet at the edge of a mass grave at the hands of the “Einsatzgruppen”. The concentration camps in Poland did not take off in full force until after the Wannsee Conference in 1942. They were the destinations for deported Jews from Poland itself and western Europe – to hide the true fate of the Jews from the local populations and to diffuse responsibility for the killing using a bureaucratic system.

      3) Soviet POWs were most often herded into large barbed wire enclosures in the field where they died of starvation or exposure, summarily shot or sent on death marches. The Nazis, for the most part, would not even bother to transport them anywhere.

  20. juliania

    Icons on an iconostasis are very beautiful. They are not idols, any more than a pleasing photograph of your best friend is an idol. And indeed, there are many branches of Eastern Orthodoxy in the Americas. And some beautiful recordings of the important hymns therein come from the Orient, other parts of the world as well. There is even a prominent icon painter who is from my native land, New Zealand, even from my region there.

    I once saw parents in Italy after an earthquake holding up photographs of their children so rescuers could see – that is the importance of icons to the faithful. That memory has stayed with me. I paint icons, not well, but as well as I can.

  21. fjallstrom

    Test positivity:

    South still fallen off its cliff.

    If you follow the link to the graph and hover over the dots you can see that apparently number of tests/7 days went form around one million in the South to around 25 million per 7 day period. The other three regions are still around one million each. This seems unreasonable to me, unless you have received news of a massive test program in the South.

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