Links 6/9/2021

Patient readers: The surgery went well, Yves is in the recovery room, and now the rehabilitation phase begins. More to come, I am sure. Thanks for all your kind thoughts yesterday. –lambert

Timeline: Trail of migrating elephants in SW China (video) CGTN. Here they are, sleeping, baby in the center:

A Commodities Crunch Caused by Stingy Capital Spending Has No Quick Fix WSJ. Anecdotal evidence from alert reader P:

I ordered special [pipette] tips for one person this morning and happened upon this note. Polypropylene price has gone up 75% in the past year.

And my mother said today she had to order a new cart for her garden tractor (she’s 74 and does a lot of outside stuff and has poultry) and she said she could only get the one size as that’s the only one they had in stock because the company can’t get sheet metal to make new ones and she’d have to wait until 2022. I think it’s John Deere. She is also having a hard time finding canned cat food because they can’t get the metal tins to put the cat food into.

Catfood shortage?! That should get people’s attention….

Copper boom: how clean energy is driving a commodities supercycle FT

The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax and Why We Are Publishing the Tax Secrets of the .001% ProPublica

US investigates leak of records showing billionaires pay little tax FT

Battered And Bruised, Bitcoin Ponders IRS, FBI Scrutiny The Heisenberg Report

Central bank digital currency: the quest for minimally invasive technology (PDF) Bank of International Settlements

Global sting began by creating message service for crooks ABC

#COVID19

How serious is Delta Covid variant for UK and do vaccines stop it? FT

Column: A Nobel laureate backs off from claiming a ‘smoking gun’ for the COVID-19 lab-leak theory LA Times

A Very Calm Guide to the Lab Leak Theory Slate

I Spy an Opportunistic Infection? MedPage Today

Why we petitioned the FDA to refrain from fully approving any covid-19 vaccine this year British Medical Journal

China?

China factory gate inflation threatens to push up consumer prices Nikkei Asian Review

China blocks cryptocurrency Weibo accounts in ‘judgment day’ for bitcoin Guardian (Vlade). That’s a damn shame.

Mapping China’s Tech Giants Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Hong Kong’s Poor Families Doubled Amid Pandemic, Protests Bloomberg

Why China’s youth are ‘lying flat’ in protest of their bleak economic prospects South China Morning Post

From workers to capitalists in less than two generations: A study of Chinese urban top group transformation between 1988 and 2013 British Journal of Sociology. Abstract only.

Myanmar

China will always support Myanmar in choosing its own path, says senior diplomat vs. Biden’s top Asia official says Myanmar situation getting worse Reuters

Trying to Legitimize Myanmar’s Regime Can Only Backfire for China The Irrawaddy

Myanmar: The mysterious deaths of the NLD party officials BBC. And tit for tat?

The Tatmadaw has mass surveillance technology, but how well is it used? Globe_

Syraqistan

The fadeout of the Pax Americana in the Middle East Responsible Statecraft (Re Silc).

UK/EU

The Minister of Chaos The Atlantic. The deck: “Boris Johnson knows exactly what he’s doing.”

The narcissistic fall of France Michel Houellebecq, Unherd. Houellebecq.

Protester slaps French President Emmanuel Macron in face Deutsche Welle

Merkel’s party wins big in crunch state election as Greens ‘hype’ fades CNBC

The High Stakes of Brazil’s 2022 Presidential Election McGill International Review

Indigenous communities in Mexico say ‘no’ to political parties and demand self-rule Phoenix Media Co-op. From London.

‘Embarking on new era,’ Mexico and US sign cooperation agreement Mexico News Daily

Biden Administration

Bipartisan infrastructure talks implode, but Congress still has a way out Politico

Senate passes long-delayed China bill The Hill

White House Releases US Critical Supply Chain Review Industry Week

Pentagon Faces Tense Fight Over Pacific Pivot Foreign Policy

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Elizabeth Heyrick’s Consumer Campaign to Abolish Slavery Grassroots Economic Organizing

Race and Taxes The Intercept

Realignment and Legitimacy

How America Fractured Into Four Parts George Packer, The Atlantic

A New Constitution for The United States Democracy Journal. “All humans are social and political beings who can flourish only under conditions of advanced democracy.”

Ohio sues Google, seeks to declare the internet company a public utility Columbus Dispatch

New York State to Revolutionize Antitrust Matt Stoller, BIG. Big, if true.

Class Warfare

Big Tech-Backed Gig Worker Union Bill Fails to Get in Gear in Albany The City

Hiding The Union Busters The Daily Poster

Student Debt Cancellation IS Progressive: Correcting Empirical and Conceptual Errors Roosevelt Institute

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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.

206 comments

  1. zagonostra

    >Protester slaps French President Emmanuel Macron in face- Deutsche Welle

    There is something comforting in seeing this clip. Like Bill Gates getting the pie in the face or GW Bush getting a shoe thrown at him. The satisfaction is on a visceral level; it’s the feeling one gets seeing people who are filled with meritocratic hubris (Thomas Frank) brought low.

    It’s the recognition that, as Yanis Varoufakis laid out in a link posted here a while back, that the few impose austerity on the many not because of economic necessity, but to keep the many down and in a degraded position so that they remain in their empyrean domain.

    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/austerity-goal-to-compel-workers-low-wages-by-yanis-varoufakis-2021-05?barrier=accesspaylog

    Reply
    1. Neoliberal Weakness

      This is really one of the most repugnant aspects of our current misleadership. They take the freedom to immiserate our lives but they themselves can’t even take a slap in the face as feedback. Weak.

      Reply
    2. synoia

      empyrean : The highest reaches of heaven, believed by the ancients to be a realm of pure fire or light.

      Pure fire might just be the cleansing needed, especially if it were everlasting.

      Reply
  2. John Siman

    So I see that, like Teen Vogue, Democracy Journal is calling for a new Constitution for The United States. “All humans are social and political beings,” their committee writes, “who can flourish only under conditions of advanced democracy.” Do they know that they are paraphrasing Aristotle’s premise that “man is a political animal” (i.e. a creature of the polis) here?

    The fact that they are believers in what they call “advanced democracy” — could their product also be called “smart democracy” or “next-level democracy”? — leads me to think that they have zero interest in the actual history of democracy in particular and of the political science in general.

    In fairness, hardly anyone bothers to learn the history of democracy anymore. So here’s a thought-provoking passage from Aristotle to get then started:

    [Politics 1320a] “[T]he true populist [δημοτικός] must study how the multitude may be saved from excessive poverty; for this is what causes democracy to be corrupt. Measures must therefore be contrived that may bring about lasting prosperity. And since this is advantageous also for the well-to-do, the proper course is to collect all the proceeds of the revenues into a fund and distribute this in lump sums to the needy, best of all, if one can, in sums large enough for acquiring a small estate, or, failing this, to serve as capital for trade or farming ….“

    Reply
    1. flora

      The poor naifs don’t realize the Koch machine has been working toward a new Constitutional convention for decades; it has model ‘ Constitutional changes ‘ ready to go. Do these ‘good thinkers’ in the progressive world think they can out maneuver the Koch machine?

      https://billmoyers.com/story/kochs-to-rewrite-constitution/

      Here’s an idea: defend the bill of rights and the Constitution we already have. Defend the First Amendment for example, in its entirety.

      Reply
      1. Cocomaan

        Yep. There’s a lot of people suggesting different constitutional changes. All seem to think a Convention will solve their pet issues.

        The problem is that if we got together a constitutional convention, it would look like a stepchild of the 1789 Estates General, ending in an argumentative mess that would lead right to political violence. Arguments over process would reign, entrenched interests would keep the status quo at hand until everyone went home frustrated.

        Our system has gotten sclerotic, but I don’t think a convention is necessary. there’s plenty of pressure valves that the players in power can use to keep a lid on things. They just have to be smart enough to look at the history of failed regimes to know when to use them.

        Reply
        1. Carla

          “They just have to be smart enough to look at the history of failed regimes to know when to use them.”

          Uh, too late…

          Reply
          1. Cocomaan

            Exactly. If you get to the point where you need a Convention, things have gone way too far and you’ve let the thread get away from you.

            I don’t think you can have a constitutional convention without having a violent uprising/reaction/revolution. You have opened the Overton window wide and told people “whatever you can imagine can come true.”

            When that’s inevitably a lie, order breaks down. That’s why Obama’s “hope and change” mantra resulted in trump. The only thing Biden has working for him is that he basically promised nothing.

            Reply
            1. Carla

              Oh, Biden made a big promise. He promised “Nothing will fundamentally change.”

              A promise we can believe in…

              Reply
              1. cocomaan

                Yep, as Yves and Lambert have pointed out here many times!

                The more I think about it, the more Biden is actually a conservative reactionary political animal protecting the entrenched interests in the FIRE sector/military industrial complex/Amazon/whatever. He’s fundamentally resistant to any change in the social order established by Reagan/Bush/Clinton/W Bush/Obama.

                Reply
                1. hunkerdown

                  The social order in question was established in the USA by the Puritans and their ideological descendants, and the PMC order of society is no better. Direct democracy is the only system that doesn’t legitimate dispossession and predation as normal acts of edifice creation.

                  Reply
                  1. Swamp Yankee

                    To be fair, the Puritans were all about direct democracy (e.g., the New England Town Meeting).

                    As an historian, I often feel the Puritans get a bad rap; a lot of things attributed to them really apply to the latter Victorians.

                    They were often political radicals in the mid-17th century and beyond (abolitionists are their direct descendants, e.g.).

                    Frankly, I think we’ll fracture into our constituent regions, maybe with a common foreign policy, maybe not.

                    Reply
                    1. JBird4049

                      >>>Frankly, I think we’ll fracture into our constituent regions, maybe with a common foreign policy, maybe not.

                      This was the original plan of the Founders and was basically true until the late 20th century. This is why each state can have its own military; the collapse of the regional political and social elites into an overarching national uber-class of elites detached from almost all of the country was not planned for. Let’s add that this practice of not governing and deliberately ignoring the growing lists of problems and crises would have shocked them although the rampant greed and corruption would not.

                2. tegnost

                  He’s fundamentally resistant to any change in the social order established by Reagan/Bush/Clinton/W Bush/Obama.
                  yep, he’s protecting his legacy

                  Reply
                  1. Brian (another one they call)

                    Joe Biden (RD) from the Credit Card State. An old trope but still accurate. Usury is everything and high interest rates are only for the masses. The wealthy have leverage.

                    Reply
                3. ex-PFC Chuck

                  I agree with your assessment of Biden, cocomaan, but do we even know if he’s really running the show?

                  Reply
                  1. Cocomaan

                    It’s a good question. But this admin has that Biden “flavor” to it, you know? It tastes like Delaware, like “safe” cabinet picks and like plagiarism.

                    But you’re right, there is no president being full in charge. They have power but it’s distributed and hard to learn to use

                    Reply
        2. Jon D

          The arguments would start very early, namely over how to elect delegates and how they vote. The 1787 delegates were elected by state legislatures. Is that a valid precedent? If the delegates are chosen by popular vote instead then what would be the method for doing that, existing Congressional districts (many of which are gerrymandered), or special election districts (drawn up how and by whom?)? The 1787 convention voted by state rather than by individual (like the Confederation Congress). Would a new convention follow the same rule? And of course there’s the question of who decides on the preceding rules. Congress? The Supreme Court?
          Want a result that makes January 6 look like a picnic in the park? Just go ahead with a constitutional convention.

          Reply
        3. Mildred Montana

          Cocomaan:

          Personally, I’d like to see a constitutional convention. It’s about time, if only to inform the American people—most of whom live in ignorance—about political issues. And if it leads to the disenfranchised powerless decamping to the nearest tennis court well, all the better.

          I’ll be rooting for Amendment XXVIII to the Bill of Rights:

          “Congress shall make no law respecting face-slapping of elected representatives, nor of pie- or shoe-throwing thereat.”

          Reply
          1. cocomaan

            Hah, very topical and timely!

            I agree that it would galvanize people into political action. But I don’t think the political spirits given life by a Convention would end up at the tennis courts. I think it would be just like Jon D describes: 2020-21, all over again. January 6th, certainly. But also race riots, low income areas burning, national guard deployments.

            The upper crust has a way of making sure that everyone else fights amongst themselves.

            Reply
        4. Charger01

          The 27th amendment reaching ratification took a long time. Status quo rules both parties for the big picture stuff.

          Reply
          1. Mildred Montana

            “Status quo rules both parties for the big picture stuff.”

            That’s why I like the idea of a constitutional convention. It might undermine the current two-party—actually one-party—system.

            Cocomaan referenced above the 1789 Estates-General meeting in France. At that time France had, loosely-described, a two-party system consisting of the clergy and the nobility. Everyone else (the Third Estate) was nothing in that order.

            In 1789, because of financial difficulties, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General for the first time in 175 years. He didn’t know it at the time but he was setting a fire. That fire, stoked by the Third Estate, ultimately destroyed the clergy, the nobility, and himself. The “two-party system” in France was swept away in a matter of months.

            I know I’m only dreaming, but perhaps a constitutional convention in the US would have the same outcome.

            Reply
            1. JBird4049

              The first few years after the Tennis Court was just blood and insanity, which is something I do not support for the country.

              Reply
      2. Carolinian

        There’s a theory going around that “woke” is just a way for the young to shove the old out of the way. Don’t trust anyone under thirty?

        Of course the old should get out of the way but perhaps while gently suggesting a new Constitution is a bad idea on the way out.

        Reply
        1. Michael Fiorillo

          It’s certainly evolving into generational warfare, especially in professions facing decreased autonomy and increased precarity. It’s no surprise, in that case, that journalism and academia are infested with it.

          Reply
      3. marym

        People suggesting a constitutional convention never say how delegates would be chosen, although the Koch machine surely has that figured out to their advantage.

        In the Democracy Journal link there’s no need even for that, It’s already been written (thank you nice elite people with time on your hands! /s) and every one ” eligible to vote in federal elections under this Constitution ” somehow gets to vote on it.

        Reply
      4. Vladimir "Shooting Tsars" Lenin

        The wealthy have to be exterminated before anything like this can happen, otherwise it will just be a new ruleset of bondage.

        Reply
        1. Kouros

          Your nom de plume speaks volumes… Nevertheless, I put myself in Lenin’s shoes and in an analytical approach I also concluded that, at limit, Lenin had to take the path he took. Otherwise it all comes back, sometimes with a vengeance.

          However, I think that his grave mistake was in not allowing deep democracy. Representatives elected based on sortition, just by the play of probabilities, would devise policies closer to what socialists promote. And if private property and especially private enterprise is allowed, it would be a very regulated one.

          And of course, no printing money for the benefit of the rich…

          One needs to remember that the success of life is insured by sexual reproduction, which uses as mechanism the random distribution of genes in the off-springs… Life has chosen sortition as a mechanism of survival in the face of an dynamic, ever changing universe…

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            King Chulalongkorn, a true genius, was advised to establish some sort of elected advisory council, something like a parliament, maybe. Now this is the man who completely reorganized the entire system of government, from village to nation, unified the Buddhist religion across the country (albeit in two sects), revised the entire legal system, and even brought about unification of the language. After careful deliberation he decided (surprise, surprise) that “the people are not ready for democracy.” How do you suppose Jeff Bezos feels about it?

            Reply
        2. ArvidMartensen

          This wouldn’t achieve anything. The patterns of behaviour that we see in everyday life are instantiations of the workings of our brains/minds, developed through an interplay of genes and environment.
          The qualities of selfishness, greed, hoarding, power-seeking reside within us, and in some more than others.
          Those who are not wealthy but already strive for money and power above all else would fill the holes left by the sudden demise of the wealthy. It wouldn’t take them long to become the new wealthy, playing by the same rules as the old wealthy.
          This is why Mao ran campaigns against wealthy and educated Chinese.
          And now look at China. Ordinary people slave away (996), not being able to afford to have children, while the few “princlings”, descendants of Mao’s Long March lieutanents, have wealth like Gates and Bezos and Buffett.
          The insurgents have become the wealthy and powerful, and play by the same rules as the old wealthy – exploitation of the common people.
          If you want to solve the problem, you have to understand its genesis. As Pogo once said “We have met the enemy, and he is us”

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            We are our own worst enemy, but when wildcards like Joseph “let’s kill any and all of my (possible) problems” Stalin, everything can be so much worse. The capable, the intelligent, the educated, the independent thinkers, were all killed by him because he thought they all were a threat to him, including everyone who had come in with Lenin.

            Reply
    2. Mikel

      Aristotle…another person that thought slavery was ok or natural or however justified…

      I’m willing to negotiate new terms for “Democracy” that has never quite included all people in the minds of those pontificating about it.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        Not having formally studied Literae humaniores, variously known as The Classics and The Greats, but often moved to read up on the Classical references when one thing or another piques my curiosity, such as references often made by Oxford educated characters portrayed in the UK TV series Morse and its spinoffs, Lewis and Endeavour. I got to wondering what jobs, besides college Don, are open to graduates with degrees in this major and found that people with such degrees are disproportionately represented among the politically powerful in the U.K. Boris Johnson being just one current example.

        It is estimated that about a quarter of the people in ancient Greece were slaves, while in ancient Rome it was probably about a third. I’m all for teaching The Classics, so long as it includes an accurate depiction of those societies’ class structures, and how those inequitable social relationships might have informed their not inconsiderable cultural achievements.

        Reply
        1. zagonostra

          Lets not forget the Helots in ancient Sparta, I think they were the majority.

          Helots were ritually mistreated, humiliated and even slaughtered: every autumn the Spartans would declare war on the helots so they could be killed by a member of the Crypteia without fear of religious repercussion

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helots

          Reply
        2. lyman alpha blob

          I think you may have your estimates backwards – there were a LOT more slaves than citizens. I’ll use wikipedia as a reference, but I’ve seen similar numbers in more scholarly works as well – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy

          “Estimates of the population of ancient Athens vary. During the 4th century BC, there might well have been some 250,000–300,000 people in Attica. Citizen families could have amounted to 100,000 people and out of these some 30,000 would have been the adult male citizens entitled to vote in the assembly. In the mid-5th century the number of adult male citizens was perhaps as high as 60,000, but this number fell precipitously during the Peloponnesian War. This slump was permanent, due to the introduction of a stricter definition of citizen described below. From a modern perspective these figures may seem small, but among Greek city-states Athens was huge: most of the thousand or so Greek cities could only muster 1000–1500 adult male citizens each; and Corinth, a major power, had at most 15,000.”

          And those Helots zagonostra mentions were almost definitely a similar proportion. The preening Spartan oligarchy limited the rights of citizenship so tightly that they basically bred themselves out of existence. Sparta defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian War (barely) and then fell off the world stage as a major power within just a few decades. Too many wars combined with a refusal to extend citizenship and they were done for, basically through attrition.

          Reply
    3. RockHard

      My reaction to “All humans are social and political beings who can flourish only under conditions of advanced democracy.” … sounds like there have been no advanced democracies to date, so there haven’t been times in the past when humans have flourished? The whole of human history is suffering and failure?

      Can’t say that makes me excited to read the article. I frequently make the point that human beings actually do incredible things under duress or at least under a decent amount of stress. It’s not like we all need to be pampered to do well at life. Some stress is a good thing. Not all the time, but some.

      Reply
      1. John

        I read through the proposed constitution. Did I miss it or is their no length of term for the president? The fuzzy wording, implicit assumptions, and loopholes for every manner of chicanery are too numerous to mention.

        When the solution appears to be a new constitution, the political deadlock looks terminal.

        Reply
    4. The S

      A new constitution sounds like a great idea! If one reads the federalist papers one realizes the current constitution was designed so there would never be any economic democracy, or as Madison put it, the new government must protect “the opulence of the minority.” And it set up multiple layers of buyable public officials to prevent voters from deciding policy. So that Aristotle advice would never be achievable with the current constitution.

      Iceland redid their constitution with citizen conventions in 2009 after the Pots and Pans revolution. It worked great for them. Let’s try making an actual democratic constitution this time.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        I see this as one giant Prop 22, with unprecedented gobs of dark money being used to craft messages inserted into people’s brains using all available avenues. The public would be stampeded into giving up whatever rights we still have.

        Reply
        1. The S

          Nah, money won’t be allowed to determine the next constitution, otherwise there’s no reason for a new one. Iceland had to nationalize its banking sector and jail the banksters before writing its new constitution. I live in a hardcore Republican county and the idea that money shouldn’t be allowed in politics is almost universal in the churches and the bars and the community clubs, save for the five families that own all the real estate around here. We won’t have a chance to make a new political system without sweeping away the old first. And the old political system is the opulent minority.

          Reply
          1. Pelham

            How about a practice constitutional convention? It’d be fascinating to see what’s churned out.

            Reply
          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            ”…..save for the five families that own all the real estate […] We won’t have a chance to make a new political system without sweeping away the old first.”

            You will be surprised by how people who give lip service to getting money out of governance actually act if a chance arises. I.e. most of the critical donors, board members, and de facto or overt elders of every church I’ve observed or been a member of are either part of the local oligarchy or adjacent to it. This is even more true of community clubs on average. When flyover country Christians speak of getting money out of politics they are usually thinking of coastal elites. They are not gunning for the local property barons who buy vehicles at their dealerships, pay them thousands a year for HVAC maintenance on 2 homes and 9 rental properties, and hire their wives when they need some catering.

            So…. what sweet miracle will sweep away all the propertied local notables (& their families and professional class enablers) immediately before your constitutional convention?

            Reply
        2. hunkerdown

          But we don’t have to participate, and we don’t have to allow a fair fight (which is code for “let the most superior people win”). One does not negotiate with narrative terrorists.

          Reply
  3. witters

    Someone did some rude (probably silly) politics, and (with all my hidden sympathy), gives Macron one…

    Reported thus: “Protester slaps French President Emmanuel Macron in face…

    French police have arrested two people after French President Emmanuel Macron was slapped in the face. The incident took place as Macron took part in a walkabout session in a town in southeastern France…

    Macron had been seen walking towards a crowd of apparent well-wishers behind a metal barrier in the village of Tain-l’Hermitage. He reached out his hand to greet the individual, who then hit him.

    During the incident, the man — whose identity and motives were initially unclear — could be heard shouting “Montjoie Saint Denis” —a French army battle cry from when the country was still a monarchy.

    A presidential security entourage quickly intervened to pull the protester to the ground and move Macron away.
    ‘Nothing will stop me,’ vows defiant Macron

    Macron appeared unfazed by the incident, telling regional newspaper La Dauphine Libere that “all is well…”

    “I greeted the people who were by the man’s side and made pictures with them. I continued and will continue. Nothing will stop me,” he said…

    French Prime Minister Jean Castex condemned the incident as “an affront to democracy.”

    “Politics can never be violence, verbal aggression, much less physical aggression,” the premier told parliament.”

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Can never be physical aggression? A lot of people who lost an eye to the neoliberal property regime’s self defense forces would like a word, if not more.

      Reply
    2. David

      As it happens, I was just reading the saturation coverage in today’s Le Monde, including an anguished editorial entitled “An ill wind is blowing against democracy,” which compares the slap to attempts to assassinate De Gaulle by the OAS, before conceding that, yes, it’s not quite the same thing after all. It’s had far more coverage in the media than most of the recent attacks on public buildings and the police, because, of course, the target was part of the PMC, and the attacker was white. Indeed, he seems to have Royalist sympathies, which is not unknown in France, but is linked to (extremely) marginal traditionalist Catholic groups from the elite Right.

      Reply
  4. PlutoniumKun

    Re: Myanmar:
    Political assassinations like this are happening every day and the army doesn’t seem to know how to deal with it. Almost all the assassinations are targeted at GAD officers whose only purpose is to serve as dalans or informants for the military.

    This is straight out of the Michael Collins playbook, both Mao and Ho Chi Minh were avid disciples of his methods. His approach to insurgency was simple – shoot the intelligence agents (not the informers, there are too many of them), blind the stronger party, and they will never know how strong or weak you are (in reality, the Irish revolution in 2018 was extremely weak and poorly armed, but the British Government didn’t know that). Without intelligence, the stronger military side must either stay in their barracks, or go out and wreck havoc on civilians indescriminately – in either way, they probably lose. This gives space for the rebels to set up their own alternative government structures (its probably to prevent this that the government is murdering prominent opposition activists).

    It certainly looks like an organised armed rebellion is underway. One can only wonder which side Myanmars neighbours will chose to support, if any. My guess is that the Chinese and Thais may prefer the devil they know.

    Reply
  5. PlutoniumKun

    The narcissistic fall of France Michel Houellebecq, Unherd.

    Houellebecq is always worth a read, even when he’s wrong.

    The United States of America seems, on the other hand, to have erected optimism into a principle of existence. One can doubt the soundness of this attitude. When Joe Biden claims that “America is once again ready to lead the world” (here again, I am too lazy to find the exact quotation; Biden is even more tedious than Voltaire), I immediately interpret this as:

    – America will not be long in embarking on a new war;

    – As always, she will wind up conducting herself like a piece of shit;

    – She will waste a lot of money, while reinforcing up the near-universal loathing of which she is the target; this will allow China to strengthen its position.

    Pretty succinct, really.

    Reply
    1. RockHard

      “optimism into a principle of existence” – that’s just perfect. No better way to sum up the USA, unbridled, unwarranted optimism. We’re a nation of hustlers; more in the Larry Flynt than the Pete Rose sense, though I suppose the routes to disgrace are many and varied.

      Reply
      1. hamstak

        If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then optimism very well may be the first — but perhaps it is less a refuge, than a simple attire.

        Reply
      2. Pelham

        True, but significantly incomplete. I think Theodore Dreiser better captures the mix of optimism (the foolish kind that Houllebecq nicely encapsulates) and the inevitable accompanying or ensuing despair of similar or greater magnitude. Of course, Dreiser requires hundreds of pages.

        Reply
    2. Maxwell Johnston

      Houellebecq is indeed always marvelous to read. “The Elementary Particles” was good stuff. Something about Houellebecq reminds me of Mike Marshall, the American baseball pitcher who died a few days ago age 78. Marshall was an iconoclast, very difficult character, very smart guy (science PhD) in a world of dumb jocks, yet he was highly successful as a pitcher (still holds many records). He was outspoken about his theories for avoiding arm injuries (and was deeply involved in the players’ union, which led to his being blackballed after the 1981 strike season). I suspect that like Houellebecq, much of what Marshall was preaching will eventually be adopted as mainstream thought.

      Wishing Yves all the best with a quick recovery. My oldest brother had hip replacement a few years back and it changed his life completely.

      Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    The High Stakes of Brazil’s 2022 Presidential Election McGill International Review

    I’d love to hear the views of those who follow Brazil more closely on this. I think its absolutely crucial for South America (and the planet) that Lula wins, but its no sure thing.

    My understanding is that a key reason for Bolsonaro winning was that the mainstream centre right found themselves with a choice. Support a pragmatic, successful left wing government, or a crazed far right extremist. They chose the latter. One wonders if they will double down on this choice.

    The other ‘wild card’ is the huge evangelical base in Brazil. They seem to have strongly supported Bolsonaro, meaning he got lots of votes even among the poorest and more marginalised. I wonder if the left in Brazil will make the same mistake of the left nearly everywhere else in scorning these people, or whether they will actively try to change their minds.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Do you think that Brazilians might factor in America’s wishes at all? For instance, would some/some classes of Brazilians think, “If we elect this left-leaning one, we could be Chilified?”

      Reply
    2. JohnnyGL

      I don’t want to get too optimistic about Lula’s chances, as there’s more than a year to go and a lot can change. But things seem to be lining up nicely for Lula.

      The country has been deeply scarred by COVID, crime, and falling living standards for years. Just anecdotally, it seems all of my in-laws have been impacted by each of these things.

      I honestly think Lula would have had a hard time in 2018, because Lava Jato was still prominent in the news and the media played a major role in the scandal. There was a ton of evidence of corruption from that investigation against ALL the major political parties. The investigators like Moro chose to pursue and publicize only the ones that implicated Lula’s PT party.

      The anger that poured out of the population during the economic downturn that started during the latter part of Dilma’s term prior to impeachment continued to strengthen into a real bitterness against all the major political parties. The post-impeachment govt assembled by the sleazy centrist parties was even more blatant in its corruption with the caretaker president, Michel Temer, caught on tape arranging a bribe.

      The way this played out in the elections was very much a “throw ALL the bums out” type of attitude. Most of the major parties were crushed. Lula and Dilma and the PT were very much a part of this system and the PT took a beating, unsurprisingly (but less of a beating in relative terms — the PT base in the poorer northeast mostly stayed intact). Bolsonaro’s party went from being one that barely existed, to being a dominant player in the country’s politics.

      I think the landscape for 2022 looks very different. Now, you’re looking at a situation where an unpopular and discredited incumbent is facing a proven commodity in Lula. He’s not some flaky out-of-touch lefty activist. The right can’t effectively scaremonger about communism over the return of a former president. Lula’s got the best track record of any living former president in Brazil.

      I don’t think the US meddling will be able to stop the oncoming freight train that will likely shape up to be Lula 2022. The US Govt’s role is starting to attract scrutiny. I suspect they’ll have to back off a bit.
      https://theintercept.com/2021/06/08/brazil-congress-car-wash-corruption-merrick-garland/

      Keep in mind, Bolivia has overturned its coup. Peru looks likely to move left, also, based on the recent election. Argentina is even producing the Russian Sputnik vaccine.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-04/argentina-formally-starts-producing-russia-s-sputnik-vaccine

      Can you think of anything that’s going to make the US angrier than that?

      If there’s a Lula win next year, it may make sense to speak of a 2nd ‘pink tide’ across South America.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        As for your last point, I very much hope you are right. I think real progress will only be made in South American when there are mutually supporting left wing governments so nobody can be isolated, Venezuela-style.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          How will the plebs get around the power of the Owners and their vassals and retainers, usually backed by the military where the officers are from the upper class and often US-trained and “supported,” with a constant drumbeat of “assistance” from the nest of vipers that is the US Embassies and semi-demi-hemi-NGOs?

          Do people there know what they want their post-oligarchic political economy to look like? And since it seems so much of the politics is personal to the party standard-bearers, how to keep those “slaughterbots” from resorting to simple plausible-deniability decapitation or defenestration?

          Reply
  7. Adam1

    LOL!!! Cat food shortage. Yes I can personally attest to having recently run into this dilemma, just don’t say it too loudly. My cats are already not very happy that we haven’t been able to recently source their preferred food stock.

    Reply
    1. Stephen V.

      OMG. This must be in the Book of Revalations somewhere. Cats are not human flesh eaters but they have many other ways to share their misery.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        “Cats are not human flesh eaters…”

        I think you might be guilty of making a claim unsupported by facts in evidence. Just because you haven’t seen a kitty do a thing doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it in secret. Who know what they get up to when we aren’t looking?

        Reply
      2. fresno dan

        Stephen V.
        June 9, 2021 at 8:11 am
        The cat I had looked at me with longing… just like I looked at turkey at Thanksgiving.

        Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Seems there’s a beer can shortage as well so no drowning your worries about cat food.

      Actually it’s mostly said to affect smaller brewers so no drowning with craft beer?

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Okay, now things have gone too far!

        How is this not considered a national emergency?!?!? We can’t let America sober up in times like these!?!!?

        If only we had a president willing to use the bully pulpit to rally support against monopolistic practices where oligarchs restrain production and cause shortages in order to boost margins.

        Reply
    3. Nikkikat

      This could lead to a very ugly cat rebellion. Tiki cat luau with sardines and mackerel in a lobster sauce are their preferred food stock. There is no way they will accept a lower standard of living. They are already looking around for a couple of torches and a pitchfork. There is going to be some mighty huge village storming happening around here.

      Reply
        1. Nikkikat

          Yes indeed. They will be called “moderate rebels”and be fully equipped with small white Toyota pickups carrying large cat paw embellished flags. They will be shipping large amounts of catnip into the inner cities to fund this endeavor.

          Reply
    4. Lee

      Earlier this year the pet food purveyor, Royal Canin, couldn’t fill customers’ orders due to Covid-19 outbreaks at their production facilities and hurricanes wiping out farms that supplied them. Troubles in the trophic food web make me twitchy. Point to ponder: are our pets higher or lower than us in the food chain?

      Reply
        1. Lee

          I don’t know what your dog’s ailment might be. Ours has kidney issues and we successfully ordered from Hills when Royal Canin came up short. There’s also the homemade option if you’ve got the time.

          Reply
          1. petal

            He’s on the Hills z/d kibble as he needs the hydrolyzed(camouflaged) protein or else he gets pretty sick. It was a nightmare until we tried this stuff.

            Reply
            1. Nikkikat

              One of my dogs had the same issue with proteins. I also used the hills dry food. It was a miracle for us too. I switched to Royal Canin because I was told it was a better food. I had problems getting it. Had to drive all over town to different vet offices to get it. There was always some problem. We had a gas shortage and I couldn’t get it for nearly three weeks. Hills seemed to be fairly easy to get.

              Reply
    5. miningcityguy

      I also can personally attest to the shortage. Our cats are older and are a special diet for kidneys and urinary tract. We order the food through their vet. When I stopped today to replenish their supply the vet tech told me that they have trouble with their orders because of the aluminum shortage and inability to make the cans for the food. She also told me that she likes to drink Pepsi but her doctor doesn’t want her to have caffeine. She has therefore been drinking the caffeine free variety which is no longer available because of the shortage. Pepsi is using all of its supply of aluminum for the more popular soft drinks that they make.

      Reply
    6. Maritimer

      Yes it’s true: my butcher, Edouard, was out of filet mignon last week, had to settle for Prime Top Sirloin. Muffin was not amused.

      Reply
    7. JBird4049

      Oh dear, and my one tooth geriatric cat can only use wet food. Her claws are just fine though. I feel them whenever I forget to feed her. Right through my jeans.

      Reply
  8. PlutoniumKun

    The Minister of Chaos The Atlantic.

    The late John Le Carre’s view was more succinct:

    “A f**ing Etonian narcissistic elitist without a decent conviction in his body bar his own advancement”.

    The article is nicely written, but really adds nothing to what we don’t already know, except that we can add the authors name to the list of supposed journalists who have been seduced by Johnson in one way or another. Johnson has created a character to ensure nobody has the faintest idea who he really is, possibly because his real character is too loathsome for even Johnson himself to contemplate.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      – “Johnson has created a character to ensure nobody has the faintest idea who he really is, possibly because his real character is too loathsome for even Johnson himself to contemplate.”

      This is an absolutely masterful sentence. I think John Le Carre would love it.

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thank you, very kind of you to say that. I’m not sure if I came up with it, or if it is a vaguely remembered line from someone else…..

        Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I most strongly agree with you assessment of PlutoniumKun’s sentence. It is indeed most beautiful and fitting. Kudos and bow to PlutoniumKun — most excellent. I copied and saved it. I like to write and greatly value great writing. I will shamelessly reuse what can of PlutoniumKum’s sentence. Great and concise character exposition.

        Reply
  9. hunkerdown

    Cooperation agreement with Mexico… “Agricultural development and youth empowerment programs” for Guatemalans is a nice way of intimating Harris is about to do a Latinxmaidan. Chiapas in the crosshairs, screencap this…

    Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “Protester slaps French President Emmanuel Macron in face”

    Now there is a coincidence. Recently there was talk here about foreign words and one was a German one that basically meant a face in search of a fist. But then a reader came out and said that there was a French equivalent that meant a face in search of a slap. And now here we are.

    Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        Petal, was just thinking about you today.

        Love that word too!

        An FYI – I’m getting a sudden up-tick in inquiries in having interviews, including from companies that you would know very well, after setting my linkdn profile to “looking for a position”.

        I know you mentioned you had dogs, but my co-worker moved from the US with a cat. It’s pretty incredible living here, really nice to be able to save around 50% of the wage earned. Obviously different places may be more or less expensive.

        Nevertheless, seems like a pretty hot market for those with bio-experience.

        Reply
        1. petal

          Hi! Oh yes, I agree, it is a hot market for folks with certain experience and skills. I had changed my linkedin profile to looking, and was getting aggressive hits from recruiters in the major city a couple hours south of here. I refuse to move back there, though.
          Sadly, I can’t relocate overseas for a while. My puppies are 10.5 and 9 years old-too old for traveling. They wouldn’t survive. My world revolves around them as they’re the only thing that keeps me going. If it was 10 years ago, I wouldn’t hesitate to leave and give it a go! Maybe I should think about it after they pass. I also need to finish my patent application process thingy. Did you say you were in Berlin?

          Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            Currently yes. :)

            Of the 2 positions I’ve a line on, both are outside Germany, and are significant pay increases.

            I’ll see if I think they are a good fit after I have some conversations with them. I won’t do anything evil.

            Reply
            1. petal

              That is great news. I hope they are both places you’d like to live!
              If you do anything evil, just warn us ahead of time…

              Reply
  11. lyman alpha blob

    RE: The Secret IRS Files

    Yesterday I got a letter from the IRS saying we’d done our taxes wrong and owed a few hundred bucks even though Turbotax claimed our return was error free. This is on top of the few thousand we already sent in, which itself is on top of the several thousands already deducted from our paychecks, I thought it might be a scam since the letter was short on details and listed a couple different addresses, but when I called the number they listed I got routed through voicemail hell, had to start over when I didn’t enter a SS number quick enough for their automated system, and then got put on hold for over half an hour before hanging up. After that I knew it was legit – scammers would have picked up the damn phone.

    Oh, and even though we were only notified yesterday and we’ve had no chance to send payment yet, the IRS has already tacked on $.37 in interest to the bill. Chef’s kiss to the IRS for that added touch – just perfect!

    If I do wind up having to pay even more – we already sent back most of the stimulus check Biden short changed us on to cover what Turbotax said we owed the first time – I think I might send a copy of that article along with my check. Also, pretty much done with Turbotax.

    Reply
    1. Cocomaan

      I have been using Tax Act for years. This year, they were a mess. Buggy software, customer service non existent, and it makes me not trust the return. So far have not gotten my dunning letter from the feds but who knows?

      Sorry you’re going through that.

      Reply
    2. griffen

      I’ve started using Turbo Tax recently, and they offer several add-ons (piling on the fees). There were some wrinkles to filing for 2020 returns.

      Aren’t they supposed to offer some advice? Granted. It’s one of many offerings from a giant corporation.

      Reply
    3. hunkerdown

      Independent contractor here. I pay $275 per year to have taxes done by a CPA firm. The freedom from being levered by the programming errors of cut-rate techbros in Asia is worth every penny. The freedom from navigating that gauntlet of rent creation where computers mix hustle and addons into diligent compliance is worth every penny I made.

      There is no way in hell I would pay Intuit to print more money to bolster the “institution” of private tax prep farming. I want the IRS to simply send me a bill every February like they do in real countries.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        I’ve gone back and forth. I rarely have anything complicated to report – just W-2s for the most part. I used to do my taxes by hand with a 1040EZ but after getting married they got a little more complicated, but not by much. Several years ago I used some free software provided by my state to file the state taxes and there was one question that was ambiguously worded – I got it wrong and wound up owing more because of it, again with an interest penalty tacked on. I think it was after that I tried H&R Block, but they charged us $300 or $400 to essentially just fill out a 1040 I could do myself. The last several years I’ve used Turbotax against my better judgment, mainly because they guarantee there won’t be mistakes and your chance of an audit is small. They’ll be getting a call from us shortly and we’ll see how good their “guarantee” is.

        If Turbotax and the rest would maybe stop bribing government officials (oh sorry, those are just “contributions”) to prevent it, we might be able to have a free, easy to use, government e-filing system. But this is neoliberal land where the government can never help and we can’t have nice things.

        Now they can just funnel my extra tax dollars to help pay Bezos the $10 billion subsidy he doesn’t even need.

        Reply
    4. Katniss Everdeen

      Can’t wait for the “heartfelt” defenses of that insufferable, odious piece of shit bezos from the “journalists” at the wapo. He’s created so many american “jobs” at his sweatshop warehouses, after all, and if he’s forced to pay taxes he might just not do all that “hard” job creatin’ work anymore.

      Also can’t wait for the blow by blow on the “investigation” into who the scumbag is that leaked this info to ProPublica. This is private information and it’s illegal to leak it. OMG. Better give this criminal the Assange treatment before this whole exposure thing gets out of hand. cnbc talking heads are verklempt over this. Call Crowdstrike quick!

      PS. Remember the story from a few days ago in which DEMOCRAT maria cantwell proposed a $10 billion taxpayer funded consolation prize for bezos for having lost a major NASA contract to elon musk? I think “we” should give it to him post haste since “we” can’t even keep his $0 tax bill a secret. “We’re” all in “this” together, amiright?

      https://www.yahoo.com/gma/washington-state-kicks-off-joints-122800381.html

      Reply
      1. tegnost

        He’s created so many american “jobs” at his sweatshop warehouses

        He hasn’t so much created jobs as replaced jobs with cheaper contract labor. Didn’t I hear somewhere that in bessemer the going warehousing pay rate was higher than bezos brags about paying….

        Reply
      2. cnchal

        America’s billionaires avail themselves of tax-avoidance strategies beyond the reach of ordinary people. Their wealth derives from the skyrocketing value of their assets, like stock and property. Those gains are not defined by U.S. laws as taxable income unless and until the billionaires sell.

        Its price dammit.

        Who is Jeff Bezos sugar daddy? Jerome.

        I wonder if this will be buried like the Panama Papers were?

        Reply
    5. fresno dan

      lyman alpha blob
      June 9, 2021 at 8:31 am
      When I got out of the air force, my first job was at the IRS “service center” in Fresno. 110 degrees outside, but you had to wear a sweater inside, because of computers or maybe people too stupid to adjust thermostats.
      Anyway, my triple tinfoil hat theory is that the IRS is run as annoyingly as possible for the average taxpayer to support anti tax fervor and distract from the rich not paying taxes.
      But you have my utmost sympathy. I think the hanging up after 30 minutes going through phone tree hell is purposeful – it has happened to me calling different agencies enough time that it is not some inadvertent accident. Seriously. Oppressor states don’t put everybody in the gulag. Just a few sends the message. This is just a reminder that government is not your servant, but that you are government’s servant.

      Reply
    6. Harry

      Sadly they are not afraid of you. They are afraid of Bezos. The beatings will continue till morale improves.

      Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      Great link Gevock,

      I have to agree with the link rather than Gallo.

      There is a real spectrum of competency on the lab side that is unseen by the layperson. I had this one Doktorarbeit student who would open bottles labeled “Sterile” outside of a biological safety cabinet and leave it open overnight as he could not possibly ever remember to put the cap back on something. Every time he used a chemical that was stored normally at -20, he would forget to put it back in the Freezer. Fortunately he wasn’t doing anything that would be a particular danger to others. Now he’s seeing patients, that I fear is a recipe for disaster. Hopefully they hire a nurse full-time to follow him around to clean up his mess.

      I get that people think it’s just a bunch of smarty-pants in white lab coats saying Eureka every once in a while, but that is pretty far from reality.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Frankly I have no idea if this was natural or the result of a lab leak though I am inclined to believe it to be the former. Certainly political forces have decided on the later to put China on the defensive and hinder its development so who needs truth? The waters have been so thoroughly muddied at the moment that we may never know the origin of this virus but the fact is that this may have unwelcome consequences.

      We all know that viruses can develop in any place depending on circumstances and random evolutionary factors. So the next virus or bacteria which causes a pandemic may start in places for example like Nigeria or Kansas or Greece or Tierra del Fuego or even Tokyo. So you think that if an outbreak started in one of those places in the next few decades, that they will shout for help and aid to help stomp it out. Or do they?

      They saw what was done to China in the 20-21 outbreak and may not want the same to happen to them. The accusations, the threats, the demands for compensation. So they dummy up and try to control this outbreak by themselves until it is too late and it has already spread near and far. And then it is Katy bar the door.

      Reply
      1. fresno dan

        The Rev Kev
        June 9, 2021 at 9:16 am
        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-anthrax-labs-analysis/how-to-fix-u-s-biosecurity-leaks-close-some-labs-idUSKBN0FJ0BC20140714

        If humans are involved, errors, shortcuts, mistakes, and screw ups will abound. The only way to assure that no planes crash is that no planes fly. (but commercial aviation safety is remarkable). Lab leaks occur because people are too sanguine about the risks, and people get careless and don’t want to bother with all the procedures, and tediousness of following lab safety protocols. I did not work in a level 3 lab, but just working in a level 2 was a GIANT PAIN in the A$$. Pretty much an hour of getting ready to work, and an hour cleaning up after work, for 20 minutes of work. You can see how people just get worn down by it. People are in a hurry. It is very expensive to do it right.
        Was it from a Chinese lab? Maybe. If it was, the Chinese should improve their safety procedures.
        But whether it was or not, viral research is going to continue – there are too many natural contagions to ignore.

        Reply
    3. PlutoniumKun

      Despite the best efforts to marginalise him, Weinstein is increasingly looking like he’s been on the right track. He is of course right that if it was a lab leak, we need to know, because we need to know if the risks of carrying out gain of function (or other forms of viral manipulation) are greater than the potential benefits.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        You think that it might be an idea if that countries want to do gain of function research, that they should do so on an isolated island somewhere? There are at least two thousand islands in the world and I am sure that one or two can be found that would be suitable. One that would preferably be very small and off the shipping routes – and that is uninhabited.

        Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            A census taker once tried to test me, I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. SsSsSsSs

            Reply
        1. tegnost

          i don’t think there’s anything going on in jurassic park, or on the island of doctor moreau so we could do it on those islands…

          Reply
        2. PlutoniumKun

          There are quite a few islands that have been used for what used to be called germ warfare testing. Gruinard Island off Scotland was most notorious but I think the Soviets had one in the Aral Sea and there was one off Long Island NY I think.

          Reply
          1. Gaianne

            “there was one off Long Island NY”

            That was Plum Island, as Dean mentioned, off the northeast tip of Long Island, New York. It was used for bioweapons research for several decades after World War II, with, in its later years, the Department of Agriculture serving as cover.

            Lyme Disease may have been developed there–from a less virulent European variety of spirochete,for intended use against against Soviet cattle–and then accidentally escaped: But this is officially denied, and labeled Conspiracy Theory.

            –GaIanne

            Reply
    4. pjay

      Thanks for this. The article by Weinstein makes a number of good points which I think add to the discussion. He also says this, for those who would just “trust the science”:

      “…Science is an astonishing process that is capable of liberating us and making us both wiser and safer. But wisdom and safety are not guaranteed. Everything about the conduct of science depends on the incentives around it; if we want wisdom, insight and safety, then those are the values that must be rewarded in our scientific establishment.”

      “But as it stands, science is plagued by a system of perverse incentives in which scientists are condemned to constantly compete for jobs and grant money just to stay in the game. The repercussions of this have been clear for decades, as scientists exaggerate, distort and mislead in order to get their own work (or their field’s work) funded.”

      Who controls this process, and for what? Unfortunately, any “scientific” determination of COVID origins is subject to the same questions, which is why Caitlin Johnstone’s caution about pushing the lab-leak hypothesis is also appropriate:

      https://caityjohnstone.medium.com/tom-cotton-explains-why-warmongers-love-the-wuhan-lab-leak-theory-1bf57221c712

      Also, thanks for featuring this quote from Gallo, which is so idiotic on several levels that it should generate useful discussion all by itself.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        I like that Weinstein is giving us the facts with which we can fashion lethal Twitter barbs. How many sacred cows can be tipped with one stone? “They were doing GOF work for private US entities related to the globalist faction of the US government. Stop whining, Karen.”

        Reply
      2. Cuibono

        “I believe that the question of whether the sequence was put in naturally or by molecular manipulation is very hard to determine but I wouldn’t rule out either origin.”
        what Weinstein has been saying isnt it

        Reply
    5. Katniss Everdeen

      The Slate article sounds like it was written for second graders. The last sentence:

      As Chan explains, “If we’re aware that these labs are doing very high-risk pathogen research on the sources of pandemics, people in America and most of the world can write to their governments and say, ‘Let’s not have that happen in my city.’ ”

      Dear My Government…..Please don’t do bad things…..Sincerely…..Me

      jeezus. No wonder people have no idea which end is up.

      Reply
    6. zagonostra

      Here is an interesting tidbit. Who is the largest vaccine maker in the world? Answer Sanofi (see Wiki link) Who funded and helped build the Wuhan lab? Answer, Sanofi. Conclusions, none. Just interesting tidbit I haven’t seen except in the world of independent journalist George Webb (who is going to court next week in a case of defamation against CNN)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanofi

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        In the cardio group I was in, they had a big grant from Sanofi. I didn’t read it, I didn’t submit it, and I never cared (I wanted out from these guys cause half of them had egos the size of Texas, the other half were in state of clinical depression from dealing with them).

        One of my really, really talented Doktorarbeit students (who I’d trust at BSL2) decided to read the document.

        He essentially came to the conclusion that the folks at Sanofi that approved this grant must have been idiots. The hypothesis was meaningless, un-provable, and irrelevant to biology.

        This is a funny thing about “German” science. One of my Italian cardio folk told me “Germans just like to measure things”. This has been a motif in my time here, you hear it from the Spanish, Polish, and US scientists. The Germans start with a measurement, do it a bunch of times, and then come up with some hypothesis to explain it. This is not a very good method to generate usable data. It’s a good way to generate garbage publications that no one will ever read.

        Nevertheless, I believe that a group as large as Sanofi had some innately structural top-down mismanagement that could essentially never be fixed without dissolving it and clearing out the dead-wood.

        Reply
  12. Dave

    I guess unsurprisingly, the Sanders campaigns hardly register in George Packer’s long essay. Like they didn’t happen or didn’t mean anything.

    Reply
    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      I made it to the end of the end of the Packer essay, which is something I rarely do these days.

      I think one way to look at it is that Packer describes what he sees, not what he wishes for. I don’t really know (or care) what he wishes for, but I do know that the Bernie Sanders campaigns amounted to nothing but a hill of beans, which has been immensely disappointing to me.

      The future sucks, I reckon.

      Reply
    2. Watt4Bob

      Maybe you should read that essay a bit more deeply.

      The way I read it, Packer’s essay explains quite concisely why Sanders campaign faced so much invisible opposition;

      1. To the FREE Americans, Sanders obvious sympathy for the ‘Takers’ is a non-starter.

      2. To the SMART Americans, Sanders compassion towards those who don’t know how to code is dis-QUALIFYING.

      3. To REAL Americans, Sanders is a representative of the ELITE.

      4. To JUST Americans, Sanders is an OLD WHITE MAN.

      Parker’s essay does not ignore Sander’s campaign, it’s about Sander’s campaign.

      Reply
  13. Darius

    Best wishes to Yves for a speedy recovery. My elderly dad broke his hip and got a replacement. Diligent physical therapy is the key to recovery.

    Reply
        1. flora

          Yes. Wishing Yves a full recovery.

          Hope the new titanium hips give extra kicking power when taking on apparently fraud-engaging financial interests. / :)

          Reply
          1. Arizona Slim

            And that she can enjoy pain-free happy dances when those fraudsters come tumbling down!

            This thread is getting fun. Anyone else care to chime in?

            Reply
            1. fresno dan

              Arizona Slim
              June 9, 2021 at 11:04 am
              I have been trying not to think about hip replacements. It has been oppressively hot in Fresno, so I was not taking my walks (I have also been busy house hunting). But it cooled off, I went for a walk, and I can’t ignore the fact that I am getting inklings of pain – and that this has happened before. I was hoping it was in my head, or that a few days off would take care of it. Hip replacement, I fear, is in my future – and not the far off distant future. I’ve had some major surgeries – not the end of the world, but not pleasant either. But all I can think is: OUCH!!!

              Reply
      1. Pelham

        And I’ll add a vote in favor of therapy as well, while wishing Yves a pain-free recovery.

        I’ve had two knee surgeries and one shoulder surgery and was careful every day after each to follow rehab orders to the letter. The results were great. But I was told by therapists I visited twice a week that 99% of their patients simply don’t do the at-home exercises, leading to prolonged pain and recovery and less than ideal outcomes.

        My bet is that Yves has more than enough fortitude to do whatever the docs and therapists advise.

        Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Thanks again for all the kind wishes!

      I got in the trouble I am in now due to having very high pain tolerance and pushing myself too hard.

      I got out of recovery in record time and was actually in a room when Links launched. The official story is double hips and knees are always PM surgeries (because resources requires, don’t ask but that makes sense to them) and they “always” require an overnight in the recovery room.

      Surgery done more or less at 6:00. I woke up shortly thereafter and immediately started asking why I had been knocked out since that was not the plan (It turns out I was awake until I started fidgeting too much. It is not uncommon for people not to remember what happened from the git-go of sedation, and they had given a Valium-level dose to start).

      This morning, one of the surgeon’s colleagues came by (the surgeon stopped by a bit later) and asked how I was doing. I said I had no pain in the hips but some pretty uncomfortable tightness in my back due to pre-surgery compensation, flying, and being made to sleep on my back the first night.

      He said, “You hips were really terrible. It’s great you are having no pain.” Frankly he seemed astonished.

      However, today I still had enough sedative in my system (they taper you off the epidural very gradually) that I couldn’t do my first of two PT sessions. I tried showing them a balance drill I was proposing using; the nurses said it sounded just like the ones the PTs used. I did complete it albeit cheating (didn’t transfer weight, just demonstrated the pattern standing in a walker). I got nauseous and dizzy and the PTs made me sit down immediately and stop because the color went out of my face. They attributed it to the drugs and said that’s not uncommon. I was seriously pissed because getting up would have helped my knotted-up back.

      In other words, I’m not in a position to be aggressive about anything right now.

      Reply
      1. urblintz

        Slowly but surely! My best friend’s father had double hip replacement and once on the other side of recovery was over the moon with its success and enjoyed two more decades of mobility and comfort. Best wishes to you, Yves!

        Reply
      2. Arizona Slim

        You aren’t able to be aggressive, but you can be seriously pissed. That is a GOOD thing!

        Yay, Yves!

        Reply
      3. grayslady

        Congratulations on your successful surgery. I hope the recovery/PT part goes as well. You must be doing okay if you can write this cogently less than 24 hrs after surgery. We’re all rooting for you.

        Reply
      4. ex-PFC Chuck

        It’s great to read your largely positive report! As others have noted, take the PT seriously.

        Reply
      5. crittermom

        I’m glad the surgery went well and wish you a smooth recovery, Yves!

        I suspect that the hardest part will be reining yourself in during recovery and PT, but you must, for your own good. Your body will thank you later.

        Reply
      6. Jeremy Grimm

        I would have been extremely surprised if your operation was not both successful and achieved significant — even miraculous improvement. I worried a small amount, but that is all … sorry. It should already be plain that your absence is and would be catastrophic. I intend slight to neither Lambert nor to Jerri-Lynn, but I do not feel entirely comfortable that your absence could be filled.

        Reply
  14. DeN

    Every once in a while the system works with respect to freedom of the press and shining a light onto important issues (ProPublica).

    But the zealousness in muddying up the narrative with a leak investigation is telling.

    Reply
  15. rjs

    yesterday’s report on job openings and labor turnover for April showed job openings were up 12% from March’s record, and up 37.5% from the beginning of the year…an unheard of 9,286,000 jobs are going unfilled, and a record half of all small business claim they’re unable to find the people they need…yesterday’s report also showed job quitting jumping by another 384,000 to 3,952,000 from the March record number of quits, and that the layoff rate was also at a record low..

    what that data means is that our liberal narrative that enhanced unemployment benefits are still needed has been mistaken, and the red state governors that ended them were right….i’ve been hesitant to admit that, but when the evidence clearly goes against what i had assumed, i have to admit that i was wrong…

    i’ll be watching to see who is willing to admit that the policy was a mistake when it’s now quite evident it was, and who continues to come up with contorted explanations of why it should continue…

    Reply
    1. Katniss Everdeen

      What “that data means” is that starvation-wage, part-time scut work without benefits is not going to be as cheap as it used to be unless the government steps in, on behalf of “business,” to make it so.

      Reply
    2. tegnost

      How do you feel about the enhanced asset values that led to the massive inequality that makes working for chump change an absurd proposition? There is no liberal narrative in these United States.
      The only “left” and “right” of any consequence is a chart that on the left side is zero, and on right side it’s 200 billion. Funny how all the concern is for that left side…

      Reply
    3. griffen

      I think* there will be a building narrative during the year and perhaps into 2022 about not the lack of interest to return to work, but a realization that drivers for Uber or working at an Amazon warehouse (sweatshop) for measly wages isn’t a career path.

      Meanwhile, all manner of educated professionals were able to work remotely for the past 12 to 15 months. Guess what beats a short commute to the office!

      *CEOs can cry their crocodile tears about employee turnover. Some healthy training programs might go a long way in the future. Legitimate training programs. Heck I can teach a novice to do cool stuff in Excel in a few months.

      Reply
    4. Nikkikat

      Was letting people keep a roof over their head and pay their bills and you know, eat a mistake too? Maybe the soup kitchens of the depression would have been better? How about a few million more homeless people living on the side walk.
      But you won’t get any push back from Art Laffer or Charles Koch.

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      Is that 9,286,000 jobs are going unfilled or 9,286,000 MacJobs are going unfilled? Under a capitalist system, the market would demand that employers raise wages and conditions until those jobs are filled but we know that that is not going to happen. Was just reading today that a record number of people are quitting such jobs already and you wonder why.

      I believe that the minimum wage in the US is $7.25 and has been frozen for well over a decade. But has costs also been frozen for those workers? Or have they risen, especially now with inflation increasing? What if you did the maths and worked out that between transport costs and associated other costs in working for a MacJob, that you may not have enough money to live and would still require government benefits not to starve, just like those Amazon workers? So they would still be taking government money, right?

      Take a look at that article in Links today called “Why China’s youth are ‘lying flat’ in protest of their bleak economic prospects” and you see young people in other countries are also deciding that the game is rigged and not worth the candle. When you reflect that at the height of the pandemic that they were still forced to go to work and risk their lives that is one thing. But when you also saw a coupla trillion dollars given to the wealthiest people in the country with only pocket change checks given to people in desperate need, that would cause you to re-evaluate things. And I think that this is being reflected in job statistics.

      Reply
      1. Tom Stone

        Rev, when I started working full time in 1969 you could survive on the minimum wage and live in a decent working class part of Oakland.
        You’d be in a tiny studio and you might be able to celebrate once a month at a Mexican place $12-$15 for a really good meal including tip..

        Reply
    6. NotThePilot

      I’ve previously commented on it once, but this latest gulf between JOLTS & unemployment figures makes me more confident in my hypothesis.

      The Republican claim of people camping out on UI & stimmies is… well… like most things the Republicans say. Beyond a miniscule slice of cartoon characters that show up in the anecdotes, it’s a reactionary narrative looking for a reality.

      There’s probably a smidgen more of truth to the other ones going around: people aren’t sure they can afford the commute, they’re still looking after kids, or they care for someone highly-susceptible. I think there may be a lot to one argument I’ve been hearing recently, that many people moved back home (from areas where more jobs are concentrated) and are OK with just living their lives frugally with family for a while.

      And to the extent people are just rage-quitting against bad work conditions & low pay, I salute them. But I’m not sure it’s close to the main driver. For one, despite all the ways America seems to be in more and more of a “we’re not gonna take it” mood, most people still seem pretty compliant in their day-to-day lives, about the unspoken assumptions.

      I really think though that what’s happening is that the pandemic just pushed structural issues, which have been building since arguably the Dot-Com Bust, into crisis territory:
      * Employers are too lazy and biased to actually go out and look for people
      * Nobody wants (or remembers how) to train
      * “Cultural fit” and connections have come to dominate
      * Businesses no longer know how to recognize competency or ability to cooperate with others (if social skills were really skills, you could teach them)
      * And god-awful techno-“solutions” like Taleo sit there like the cherry on top

      Just to give you one example the pandemic could clearly have accelerated: businesses wanting to hire locally, regardless of how clearly you express you can & will relocate. That’s one reason I always make fun of the Indeed commercial with the oyster farmer. I’m like, “Good luck! If they don’t live close enough to your fishing town to hear about your opening by word-of-mouth, they sure aren’t going to be putting it down for their location on Indeed.”

      Reply
      1. Harry

        The biggest question of the day. I tend towards the principle of the maximization of irony. In this case, wouldnt it be delicious if the peasant revolt was similar to the post-black death one of simply refusing to work for the wages and wondering off in search of pastures new?

        And think of the chaos it will cause. Just as the Fed uses a new framework, which seems to amount to waiting till total employment reaches its pre-Covid level before tightening, the actual Labour market goes on strike. Or the irony of the Biden admin going all out for the critical midterm votes by running the economy hot, only to get Carter levels of blame for an inflation surge which was not really their fault but the prior 30 years of neoliberal wage suppression?

        With supply chains this stretched, its hard to get the popcorn necessary to enjoy the show.

        But I note the rather ominous rallies in US government bond markets of late. I see the large pools of money are starting to question whether “transient” will be long enough. Maybe gentlemen do prefer bonds?

        Reply
      2. rjs

        a week ago Yves asked “How’s your economy?“, soliciting reader comments…i came to that thread quite late to post the following: 

        rjs
        June 4, 2021 at 10:23 am

        Middlefield Ohio, the big town in a half Amish half Yankee rural area between Cleveland and Youngstown, has “help wanted” signs in every establishment; i see dozens on every shopping trip, as well as several billboards along the 3 mile stretch of Route 87 that constitutes the commercial district, advertising for start-up bonuses for those who’d work for local establishments (small factories, woodworking and the like)…

        i blog about the economic reports. ie at Angry Bear and Econintersect, but what’s been going on around here since last summer flies in the face of all the data i’ve been seeing…

        ok, while some of those Middlefield job openings are mcjobs and some are at Walmart, they also encompass every type of business in that town, from the drug and hardware stores to the garden center and chocolate shop to the tire store and auto dealership…there’s ads in the Amish paper for factory work, for truck drivers, and for mulch techs and garden maintenance team members, paying $12 to $18 an hour, “depending on skill level”…sure, you don’t get rich as a mulch tech, but you probably don’t have student loans to pay off either… the vet has a shingle up too; isn’t there an animal person out there who’d work for low wages?…i don’t know the reason those jobs aren’t being filled, but something clearly isn’t working for this local economy…

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          sure, you don’t get rich as a mulch tech, but you probably don’t have student loans to pay off either…

          There is nothing preventing those people from having student loans. Not everyone who matriculates graduates…

          Reply
    7. hunkerdown

      Bourgeois supremacy is, was, and remains the liberal narrative. If Mao had two things right, it was rectification of names and outlawing the landlords.

      Reply
    8. Mikel

      Some people are also still afraid of getting sick – no matter how many parties they show on the news. A good number of the industries missing workers were hit hard early on.

      And then they know or live with people that still have the ability to work from home and are still doing it, so it has to be some “why am I putting myself out there?”

      Reply
    1. rowlf

      The “One Moose Apart” social distancing sign was hilarious. Right up there with Finns complaining that their government’s 2 meter recommendation made people uncomfortable.

      Reply
  16. Carolinian

    Re George Packer, Atlantic, The Four Americas–this threatens to enter David Brooks territory with all that categorizing but despite the reductionism it has passages that hit home.

    Graduation from an exclusive school marks the entry into a successful life. A rite endowed with so much importance and involving so little of real value resembles the brittle decadence of an aristocracy that’s reached the stage when people begin to lose faith that it reflects the natural order of things. In our case, a system intended to expand equality has become an enforcer of inequality. Americans are now meritocrats by birth. We know this, but because it violates our fundamental beliefs, we go to a lot of trouble not to know it.

    or

    Media elites were just as stupefied. They were entertained and appalled by Trump, whom they dismissed as a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, an authoritarian, and a vulgar, orange-haired celebrity. He was all of these. But he had a reptilian genius for intuiting the emotions of Real America—a foreign country to elites on the right and left. They were helpless to understand Trump and therefore to stop him.

    Trump’s populism brought Jersey Shore to national politics. The goal of his speeches was not to whip up mass hysteria but to get rid of shame. He leveled everyone down together.

    and most of all

    In 2014, American character changed.

    A large and influential generation came of age in the shadow of accumulating failures by the ruling class—especially by business and foreign-policy elites. This new generation had little faith in ideas that previous ones were raised on: All men are created equal. Work hard and you can be anything. Knowledge is power. Democracy and capitalism are the best systems—the only systems. America is a nation of immigrants. America is the leader of the free world.

    Packer is undoubtedly right that there’s folly on all sides of our politics,.but given our ever more sclerotic democracy it’s hard to blame this on the ordinary and powerless. When the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union went down there were those who said it’s our turn next. After decades of denial it may be about time.

    Reply
  17. Duck1

    It seems to me that the population of the country becomes more and more stratified. The virus situation has curtailed what public transportation exists in many areas. The bottom rung of people have been dehoused and have to live rough as well as they can. Drug addiction and mental illness plague a certain proportion of the economy. Meanwhile the house flippers madly drive up housing cost and after a bit of a pause we read that rents are rising at double digit rates. I wonder how much of the dearth of employees is a function of there not being a population of poor people in range of the job as these processes have been going on for decades.

    Reply
  18. Anthony K Wikrent

    Yes, please keep us posted on Yves progress in recovering, and what we can do to support her.

    Packer’s essay in The Atlantic is the best explanation of USA politics and its underlying dynamics resulting from social and economic divisions I’ve seen since Stirling Newberry’s “Three Polar Politics In Post-Petroleum America” in July 2009, during the crest of the global financial and economic crisis.

    Near the end, Packer has one reference to “the republic,” but does not attempt any exploration or discussion of classic civic republicanism, other than noting a number of times the universal appeal of certain ideas such as justice and liberty, and how the massive elite failures of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the GFC have resulted in a discrediting of these ideas. As I’ve written many time before here, I believe that a revival of classic civic republicanism and its universal ideas and ideals are key to solving most of the huge problems now confronting us, and I’ve been troubled by the rejection of these ideas and ideals by “the left.” Packer precisely explains how and why this rejection has occurred. The fourth “chapter” or section is a superb explanation of cancel culture — and Packer never even uses that term.

    It is a lengthy article, but worth the time and effort to read it in its entirety, studded with gems of insight and brilliant wordcraft.

    Reply
    1. griffen

      No. Enough is enough. How are all the single $1 of the world be properly spent on hedonistic entertainment!

      Might also be competing with the IG or TikTok stars of the era. Strictly guessing /sarc

      Reply
  19. Louis

    From the New York Timespiece on New York’s Vaccine Passport:

    [The Excelsior Pass] would provide them with a QR code that would not only verify their vaccination status but could also include other personal details like proof of age, driver’s license and other health records.

    I’ve been fully vaccinated and am okay with a vaccine passport in principle but health records beyond proof of vaccination is a big no from me.

    Reply
  20. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding the NY anti-monopoly bill, it’s good, including things like a private right of action and monopsony of wages.

    The bill has passed the Senate, but has only a few days to pass the State Assembly, so my guess is that it won’t go into law this year.

    Also, since the entities most effected are big tech, and big hospitals, and Cuomo raises lots of money from big hospitals and hospital chains, my guess is that he would veto the bill, .

    Reply
  21. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    About those commodities shortages. A week or so ago, my wife and I went looking for a riding lawn mower. The only ones we could find were at least $3000, well out of our price range, and stores had only two or three of those. One place told us it would be at least until October before they got any more. I’m not sure what parts or materials are to cause for the shortage, but it was happening in both the big chain stores like Home Depot and the local hardware stores.

    Reply
    1. Another Scott

      My guess is it’s the semiconductor shortage. My parents had to wait three months for a new dishwasher because of the shortage and once it arrived, the manufacturing had discontinued the model.

      Reply
      1. Pelham

        Wow, we need semiconductors to make lawnmowers?! I’m not doubting you. But things like this make me wonder how helpless we as human beings want to be.

        Reply
    2. Laura in So Cal

      Recent Shortages I’ve never seen before:
      1. Large Plastic Pipe Fittings (2″) for a private water supply-Went to 3 stores to find the quantity we needed.
      2. Car Tires-Back Ordered-Will take 2 weeks to get
      3. Clutch Plates & Gaskets to repair a 15 year old motorcycle (On order for 4 weeks-supposed to come in next week which will make it 5 weeks).
      4. Plastic drip system components-Luckily we put the word out and one of our friends was cleaning out his parents garage for their move to a condo and found a whole box of the stuff…which he gave us in return for the loan of our pick-up truck.

      After reading this thread today, I’m going to order canned cat food tonight and not wait until the week before I need it like I usually do…just in case. I don’t want the feline overlords upset with me.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        Everything bicycle is in very short supply. My brother recently retired from working at one of the largest bike parts suppliers in the US. They wholesale everything from chains to gloves to brake parts, you name it. Although he’s retired he still has privileges to buy everything they sell at cost. I was going to order some shorts and other small items but practically everything they sell is out of stock.

        Reply
  22. Carlitos

    re. Harris
    They threw rocks at Nixon’s car and shouted “Yanqui Go Home” when he visited.

    Like Clinton pushing NAFTA and lying about the benefits of it to working class Americans and how it benefits Mexicans, Harris, finally stepping outside of her comfort zone and going to Latin America is like sending an undertaker to a sick person’s bedside.

    That fraudulent fool is married to one of the gravediggers of American society, a lawyer for a huge corporate law firm.

    How blatant can it get?

    Reply
    1. Judith

      WSWS has a good analysis of Kamala Harris’s trip to Guatemala:

      Kamala Harris this week made her first foreign trip since taking office as US vice president. It was a lightning three-day visit to Guatemala and Mexico aimed at firming up the use of their security forces to violently suppress the flow of Central American migrants seeking to escape desperate poverty along with police and gang killings, and to reunite with family members in the US.

      https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2021/06/09/pers-j09.html

      Reply
  23. Watt4Bob

    How America fractured into four parts.

    I haven’t read anything that explains so well the situation we find ourselves in.

    I hope this provides for better conversations with my kids.

    Thanks to George Packer and the Atlantic

    Reply
    1. grayslady

      I agree–with one exception: a fifth category for those of us who are a composite of two or three of the “Americas”. We have no “tribe” to belong to. I believe in both freedom and regulation. I am highly educated but do a lot of home and auto repairs myself. I believe in education, but not ”safe spaces”. I know how to use a gun, don’t want to own one, but fully understand why rural citizens, in particular, may want to own one. These are just a few of the dichotomies. Bottom line, where is the fifth category for those of us without strong tribal loyalties?

      Reply
      1. Watt4Bob

        I agree.

        Your description fits me rather well.

        Maybe NC Commentariat?

        However, humor aside, I believe Packer’s point is that the trend nationally is the erasing of those places where our interests, and thus our understandings of each others perspectives overlap.

        Most of my siblings seem more and more to be JUSTICE Americans, who, when I mention the eventual necessity for solidarity with poor, working class whites, stick their fingers in their ears and start screaming.

        They think I talk this way because I’m an old white guy trying to ‘dominate‘ the conversation.

        Reply
      2. Ranger Rick

        I think you can read a lot into the omission of the centrists, but I’m inclined to view it charitably: less a category of America and more the glue that bridges the gaps and holds it together. Packer spends quite a lot of words on the cognitive dissonance at work in each camp, but not much on how they interact. Where they connect you’ll find people who hold no particular ideological bent and rely on pragmatism instead. This keeps things moving along, but comes with its own serious moral and ethical hazards — a centrist can agree with anything, as long as it works.

        Reply
      3. Jeremy Grimm

        I believe we attend the same ‘church’. I don’t know how to use a gun, don’t own a gun, and don’t want to — but I believe I should probably learn — although bears, wild pigs, and demented Mooses would be my primary motivation. To your categorization of a fifth divide I would add a deep-felt and simple longing for Truth and Honesty in how Government relates to the public.

        And, though possibly elliptical to your comment, it recalled to me the frustrations I felt attempting to learn glass art and the mysteries of glass — I love glass. All the classes available and all the courses I took focused on a rigid curriculum and would not deviate. I felt that a will to hold control over me trumped all desires to stimulate my curiosity or feed my curiosity as I arrived at questions that were outside the knowledge and experience of my instructors. I don’t expect everyone to know everything, but I was struck by how few of my fellow students and how vanishingly few of my instructors cared to learn or experiment with what they did not know already. That was very painful for me because it might be a long time, perhaps more than my lifetime before I can amass the equipment needed to pursue even a few experiments and simple techniques described in the glassworking literature. I can all too easily extrapolate and exponentialize those frustrations to the frustrations research scientists must feel in the present environment of unconstrained control from above. Science weeps.

        Reply
          1. flora

            adding:
            All the classes available and all the courses I took focused on a rigid curriculum and would not deviate.

            Heaven forefend any recognition of the analogue (real) world and working class expert skills necessary to the production. / ;)

            Reply
        1. Watt4Bob

          It was Ceramics and Glass brought me to Minneapolis in the 70s.

          You’re right, it is a mysterious medium, and insanely difficult to get to square one, let alone become adept to any degree, even with good instructors.

          I very rarely work in glass anymore, but the instruction in craftsmanship has served me well.

          Reply
      4. Tom Stone

        I am an elderly rural citizen with a damaged cervical spine, I am on blood thinners and yesterday was the 30th anniversary oh being hit head on by a drunk driver.
        I haven’t been able to push off on my right leg coming up on 28 years and my sciatic nerve is still quite lively.
        I can not defend myself physically without undue risk.

        I take self defense seriously, do own a gun, and wish I could practice more often because it is a perishable skill.
        I’m very glad I took the time to get professional instruction and highly recommend it and I also recommend Claud Werner’s “Serious mistakes gun owners make”. EBook
        Along with “How to own a gun in ______ and stay out of jail” for your state.
        It wouldn’t hurt a bit to take some classes in de escalation, one heck of a lot cheaper than a good defense lawyer.

        Reply
  24. Tracie Hall

    My husband, Don, reads your blog, Yves, and mentioned your double hip replacement surgery. I’m sorry I missed sending pre-surgery blessings from us, but am thrilled to read that it went well. We wish you a swift and tranquil recovery, polished off with an urge/ability to turn cartwheels. We’ll be watching for those cartwheel reports/pics!
    Blessings,
    Tracie

    Reply
  25. The Rev Kev

    “Senate passes long-delayed China bill”

    “The Hill” is playing it very coy here. In Washington, this is known as the Anti-China Bill. Will it work? Maybe. The problem is that the same people and same corporations that sold out and out-sourced American industrial capability and prowess will now be the same ones that are supposed to bring America back. Will they pay the wages and incentives to get Americans to work in these industries or will they revert to form and only really offer McJobs instead with the real money flowing to the Professional Managerial Class? That is why I say maybe.

    Reply

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