2:00PM Water Cooler 7/1/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Busy little creature!

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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. I’ve been thinking of new charts to monitor to alert us to the next outbreak, assuming there is one, but for now, the data from the South means I’ll stick to the status quo.

Vaccination by region:

Now all rising together. Kamala did the trick? Hard to believe.

“Not Over” [Eschaton]. “I’m not predicting bad things, but I don’t think people get that cases are shooting way way way up in the UK, one of the most vaccinated places on Earth.” In chart form:

Of course, the United States is of continental scale, unlike Israel and the UK. Nevertheless, it’s not over.

Case count by United States regions:

Trend is now slightly up, which is not supposed to be happening. (Note that one of the narratives seems to be that there will only be pockets of cases in unvaccinated juridictions (i.e., blame the deplorables for a public health messaging, delivery, and performance debacle). Bew that as it may, we can see the effects in this aggregate, in the aggregated data for Texas and Florida, and in the Top Ten states (all below). Nothing like the runaway train in the first days and weeks, but the train is rolling. It would certainly be nice if this trend isn’t signaling the changeover from Alpha to Delta.

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

Texas and Florida, capital of Latin America, neck and neck.

Covid cases top ten (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

Tourist states disproportionately represented. Let’s hope it stays in Vegas.

Test positivity:

South bounces back.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Pelosi names Cheney to serve on the select committee investigating the Capitol attack” [New York Times]. “Her appointment to the committee appeared to be an attempt by Democrats to bring a degree of bipartisanship to an investigation that G.O.P. leaders have fought mightily to block and have already dismissed as an unfair and one-sided inquiry. ‘I’m honored to serve on the Jan. 6 select committee,’ Ms. Cheney said in a statement. ‘Our oath to the Constitution must be above partisan politics.’ Ms. Pelosi selected Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, as its chairman and chose a number of her closest allies to serve on the panel, as well as some centrists who represent conservative-leaning districts.”

“Inside the Capitol Riot: An Exclusive Video Investigation” [New York Times]. “One of the biggest questions hanging over the aftermath of Jan. 6 was whether the riot was planned and carried out by organized groups. By identifying and tracking key players throughout the day, we found that most — even some at the forefront of the action — were ardent, but disorganized Trump supporters swept up in the moment and acting individually.” • I notice that the Times is now using the word “riot,” and not “insurrection.” Well done.

Biden Administration

“Pelosi stands by infrastructure strategy despite pushback” [CNN]. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated on Wednesday that she stands by her assertion that the House won’t take up a bipartisan infrastructure deal until the Senate passes a more sweeping package through budget reconciliation, a position that has drawn criticism from Republicans and caused some anxiety among moderate House Democrats…. The comments from the speaker come after she said last week, ‘Let me be really clear on this: We will not take up a bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan bill and a reconciliation bill.’ Emphasizing the point, she said, ‘There ain’t gonna be no bipartisan bill, unless we have a reconciliation bill.’ Democratic leaders are pursuing a dual track approach to infrastructure, pushing for a bipartisan bill while also setting the stage for the Senate to pass a package that would only require Democratic votes and would include priorities left out of the deal.”


“New poll shows how Trump surged with women and Hispanics — and lost anyway” [Politico]. “Every piece of evidence since the November election suggests Donald Trump made significant inroads among blocs of voters thought to be out of reach to the controversial now-former president. And he still lost the popular vote by roughly twice the margin he did in 2016 — enough for Joe Biden to flip five states Trump won and capture the Electoral College. A new analysis from the Pew Research Center shows why: Even as Trump was narrowing Democrats’ margins with white women and Hispanic voters, Biden was surging with other groups, like suburbanites, white men and voters who identified as independents, that propelled him to victory…. While the survey release does not break down Hispanic voters by country of origin, the authors do remind readers that the Hispanic vote is ‘not a monolith’ and link to an October 2020 blog post headlined, ‘Most Cuban American voters identify as Republican in 2020.'” • Must be causing brain melt among the idpol factions, but — and that I have to say this makes me want to spew — it looks like Chuck Schumer was right: “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” If only Hillary hadn’t been such a lousy candidate! Commentary:

Republican Funhouse

UPDATE “Democrats Raise Ethical Concerns Over GOP Donor’s $1 Million Funding of Border Deployment” [Military.com]. “A billionaire’s $1 million donation to fund a South Dakota National Guard mission to the U.S.-Mexico border has raised questions of whether the military is effectively for hire, and Democrats in the state are investigating the legality of the issue, Military.com has learned. Willis and Reba Johnson’s Foundation, helmed by billionaire Willis Johnson, pledged $1 million to South Dakota to cover the estimated cost of deploying some 50 guardsmen to the border for up to two months, according to a state government email reviewed by Military.com.” • Yikes. General Willis’s Army. What could go wrong?

“The GOP’s Dark Money Court Machine” [David Sirota, Daily Poster]. “The Concord Fund is the new parent nonprofit of the Judicial Crisis Network, a secretive dark money group that has been bankrolling campaigns to install GOP judges and funding conservative advocacy campaigns around the country since 2004. After Ginsburg’s death in September last year, the Judicial Crisis Network immediately started spending millions on ads calling on Senators to ‘ignore the extremists, stick to precedent, and confirm the nominee,’ who had not yet been named. The group then spent millions more to support Barrett’s confirmation after former President Donald Trump selected her to replace Ginsburg. The Concord Fund’s latest IRS tax return shows the organization raised $20.4 million between July 2019 and June 2020. While the group is not required to publicly disclose its donors, the tax return shows it received $14.3 million — nearly 70 percent of its total revenue at the time — from a single anonymous source.”

“Satanists are furious that Boehner compared Ted Cruz to the Dark Lord” [Raw Story]. • From 2016. Happy, innocent times!

Trump Legacy

UPDATE “MAGA Maoism” [Project Syndicate]. “There is a disturbingly strong historical analogy to the Republican Party’s transformation into a cult of personality: the Communist Party of China under Mao Zedong. At the CPC’s Lu Mountain Plenary Meeting in 1958, Marshall Peng Dehuai pointed out that Mao’s judgment was flawed, and that he could no longer be trusted as primus inter pares. The only question was whether the other party grandees could move ahead without Mao’s charismatic link to the party’s gullible base. But Mao struck first. While party officials like Peng Zhen, Luo Ruiqing, Lu Dingyi, Yang Shangkun, and Deng Xiaoping were purged, Peng and Liu Shaoqi both turned up dead, and the rest of the grandees got with the program. That program was the total chaos of the Cultural Revolution. Recognizing that those who had benefited from the initial purges would need to be kept insecure and toothless, Mao continued to shake things up. Chen Boda was purged, Lin Biao was eliminated, and Deng – with his reputation for bureaucratic competence – was brought back into the fold, only to be purged again after being threatened with the promotion of Wang Hongwen (backed by the rest of the “Gang of Four” and Kang Sheng) and then Hua Guofeng. Through all this shuffling, only two personnel qualifications mattered: obsequiousness and powerlessness. If the official in question fulfilled both, he would be praised, honored, and promoted. If he lacked one or the other, he would be taken down a peg, sent to work as a pipefitter, or assassinated (the one exception was Zhou Enlai, whose unfailing sycophancy perhaps made up for the fact that he wasn’t entirely powerless). This process could be sustained because there was always an ample number of party officials who saw the chaos as an opportunity for their own advancement. But while deferentially doing Mao’s bidding could yield career advantages, he was old, low on energy, and on his way to meeting Karl Marx in the great beyond. So, the court intrigue continued, with officials falling over each other to “work toward the Chairman,” even though nobody but Mao’s nephew and closest aide could claim to understand his incoherent grunts and scrawls. Even after Mao’s death, various factions competed to show that they had been truer to his wishes than anyone else.” • I think this is an interesting analogy, which could use a little historical grounding in party structure, not to mention political economy. Fun, though!

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?” [New York Times]. Kim Stanley Robinson: “Well, we are stuck in an international system of nation-states, and we don’t have time to invent and institute any kind of alternative world governance, so we have to use what we’ve got. But we also have the Paris agreement, and climate equity was written into it so that developed rich nations were tasked with paying more and doing more and helping the historically disadvantaged and even colonized nations. Executing all that is, of course, a different story…. It is a fragile system. It could become like the League of Nations. In the future, to the extent that there will be historians, they may look back and say it was a good idea that failed. People may look back to our time and say, Here was a crux, and then they blew it. This is the power of the basic science-fictional exercise of looking at our own time as if from the future, thus judging ourselves as actors in creating history. From that imaginary perspective, it can sometimes become blazingly obvious what we should do now. Parochial concerns over quarterly returns or the selfish privileges of currently existing wealthy people fade to insignificance when you take the long view and see us teetering on the edge of causing a mass-extinction event that would hammer all future living creatures.” • ”Fade to insignificance”? For whom? See Tooze and Doctorow under Class Warfare.

Stats Watch

Coincident Indicators: “New York Fed Weekly Economic Index (WEI): Index Declined” [Econintersect]. “The New York Fed’s Weekly Leading Index (WLI) marginally declined this past week. This index’s trend is improving based on the 13-week rolling average.”

Construction: “May 2021 Headline Construction Spending Marginally Slows” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say construction spending marginally slowed month-over-month. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved. Consider this report better than last month even though US Census thinks it is worse. There was a general revision to the data for the last 2.5 years.”

Empoyment Situation: “Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Contiues To Modestly Decline” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 370 K to 400 K (consensus 387 K), and the Department of Labor reported 364,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 398,750 (reported last week as 397,750) to 392,750.”

Employment Situation: “June 2021 Job Cuts Fall to Lowest Monthly Total Since 2000” [Econintersect]. “Job cuts announced by U.S.-based employers fell 16.7% in June to 20,476 from 24,586 cuts announced in May. Last month’s total is the lowest monthly total since June 2000, when 17,241 job cuts were recorded.”

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Tech: “Facebook launches newsletter product Bulletin, its Substack rival” [Reuters]. “Facebook said it would not take a cut of Bulletin creators’ revenue at launch and that creators can choose their own subscription prices. It is launching the platform with a number of high-profile personalities and writers, including sportscaster Erin Andrews, author Malcolm Gladwell and “Queer Eye” star Tan France.”

Tech: “Inside Neeva, the ad-free, privacy-first search engine from ex-Googlers” [Fast Company]. • Would you pay five bucks a month for non-crapified search?

Tech: “SCOTUS to wrongfully accused terrorists: ‘drop dead'” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “Transunion’s secret files on you include a tickbox for ‘suspected terrorist.’ Transunion wrongly accused 8,000 people of being terrorists. It discovered its error and violated its statutory duty to inform the people it had wronged. The Supremes just ruled that those wronged people aren’t allowed to sue Transunion for accusing them of being terrorists and making that judgment available to its customers, including government agencies, employers and landlords.”

Tech: “Breaking Up Amazon Won’t Get the U.S. Its Next Tesla” [Bloomberg]. “There’s one important difference between the U.S. and other countries when it comes to its flagship companies: the U.S. keeps minting new ones. Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and other U.S. technology champions are all relative newcomers. The average age of companies in the S&P 500 stock index has gone from more than 60 years in the mid-20th century to less than 20 years today. Meanwhile, the most valuable car company in the world is now Tesla Inc., which was founded in 2003. This gives the U.S. an advantage over Europe and Japan, which create relatively few new giants — and it should eventually be an advantage over China, when that country’s companies age.”

Manufacturing: “United orders 200 Boeing 737 MAXes, 70 Airbus A321neos” [Leeham News and Analysis]. “The deal is the carrier’s largest, as well as the industry’s largest ‘in a decade.’* The order is for 50 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s and 70 A321neos. ‘United will replace older, smaller mainline jets and at least 200 single-class regional jets with larger aircraft,’ the airline said…. United also said it will refurbish its entire fleet to expand premium seating. ‘United Next,” the name of its refleeting, refurbishing and branding campaign, will increase the total number of seats per departure by 30%.” • A focus on domestic travel,then?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 1 at 2:31pm.

Health Care

On vaccinations from 2010:

I think that “public health” and “medical freedom” really are diametrically opposed world views, and the latter view is held by a minority but a very noisy one. It doesn’t help that Biden and Walensky caved to them and that liberal Democrats, in general, seem unable to mount a robust and coherent defense of “public health” — other than calling their opponents stupid and declassé, their goto options in all cases — or indeed of the very notion of “public” (“asset recycling,” i.e. selling off public infrastructure to the highest bidder, briefly made an appearance in discussion of the infrastructure bill-that-is-not-yet-a-bill, and then vanished. If asset recycling passes, it will be worse than anything Trump ever did). “Medical freedom” as an ideology has to be fought head on (“The right to infect others shall not be infringed.” Oh?)

UPDATE And speaking of failing to mount a coherent defense of “public health,” from Don Lemon Tonight (transcript):

LEMON: You know, the U.S., the president had wanted 70 percent of people to have some degree of vaccination, right, or second dose. So my question is the U.S., we’re going to fall short of what President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults with at least one dose by July fourth.

Largely because of states like Alabama, Arkansas, my home state Louisiana, Mississippi, Wyoming, they have less than 35 percent of the population fully vaccinated. A former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb is concerned that there’ll be very dense outbreaks in these areas. What do you think, Dr. Fauci?

FAUCI: Yes. I agree with Dr. Gottlieb. That is something that we are very concerned about. When you have such a low level of vaccination super-imposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among under-vaccinated regions, either states, cities or counties you’re going to see these individual types of blips. It’s almost like it’s going to be two Americas. You’re going to have areas where the vaccine is high where there is more than 70 percent of the population has received at least one dose.

When you compare that with areas where you may have 35 percent of the people vaccinated, you clearly have a high risk of seeing these spikes in those selected areas. The thing that’s so frustrating about this, Don, is that this is entirely avoidable, entirely preventable. If you are vaccinated you diminish dramatically your risk of getting infected and even more dramatically your risk of getting seriously ill. If you are not vaccinated, you are at considerable risk.

“Almost like.” We’re seven months into the Biden administration, so the public health establishment can’t blame Trump any more. It’s Clinton’s “deplorables” all over again. Write ’em off, say I.

“The Public-Health Calculus Has Shifted” [The Atlantic]. “In April 2020, on assignment from the CDC, I became the senior adviser for public health in New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office. My job was to lead the strategy for fighting COVID-19. In that capacity, I spent as much time talking with lawyers and writing affidavits as I did analyzing the latest COVID-19 research. In those days, ‘following the science’ of public health was fairly straightforward: It meant mandating masks and physical distancing, promoting widespread testing and isolation when necessary, and, crucially, restricting the right of businesses and other entities to welcome people from different households indoors. When New York City and New York State ordered such measures, we were sued by restaurants, bars, and gyms. Our successful defense against these suits rested on several facts. First, everyone was at risk from COVID-19. Second, in the absence of a vaccine, the only effective way to reduce the risk of illness was to reduce the risk of exposure, and the only way to do that was for everyone to sacrifice for one another by wearing masks, maintaining distance, and exercising constant vigilance. Third, any indoor gathering of people from different households risked transmission to large numbers of people from different social networks. (Where such gatherings were unavoidable, such as in schools, strict precautions were required at all times.) Finally, and most important, widespread community infection could lead to two existential threats: the collapse of the health-care system, and an extended period of mass death on the scale of what New York experienced in the horrific early phase of the pandemic.” And: “n the United States, public-health agencies often state their overarching mission as maximizing the quality and length of life with a particular focus on reducing inequalities in outcomes. But their legal authority to regulate residents’ civil liberties derives from a narrow source: the responsibility to protect public safety, as delegated to states in the police-powers clause of the Tenth Amendment. Just as average citizens lack the ability to stop a terrorist or extinguish a wildfire, they also lack the expertise and technology to address major health threats. Individuals cannot, for example, identify a product that caused an E. coli O157 outbreak and take it off grocery-store shelves. And yet for public-health agencies to use their authority, expert opinion is not enough. They also need broad community consensus that the government is justified in invoking its police powers. ”

“Could editing the genomes of bats prevent future coronavirus pandemics? Two scientists think it’s worth a try” [STAT]. • No.

The Biosphere

“Why Methane Is Climate’s Low-Hanging Invisible Fruit” [Bloomberg]. “Methane is the primary component of natural gas, and leaks can happen anywhere along the natural gas supply chain, from the wellhead to the homes and businesses where the fuel is burned…. Leaks from energy infrastructure are the easiest and cheapest sources of methane to identify and fix. There’s also an economic incentive: Producers can make up for the cost of repairs by selling the extra gas they capture. There are also efforts to create a natural gas standard that would certify emissions associated with production and transport. As much as 80% of measures to curb methane from oil and gas operations, and up to 98% from the coal sector, can be implemented at no cost or at a savings, according to the United Nations’ 2021 global methane assessment. Officials also hope to cut down on the venting (releasing) of natural gas that often happens when there’s no available pipeline capacity or when producers are only interested in capturing the oil from a well. Some of that gas is flared (burned) to convert the methane into carbon dioxide, but environmentalists and some investors have pushed for limits on flaring because not all the methane is combusted in the process. Instead, excess gas could be reinjected into the ground…. Methane emissions generated from human activity could be cut by 45% by 2030 with readily available technology, a step that could avoid nearly 0.3 degrees Celsius (0.5 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by the 2040s, according to the UN assessment.”

“Facing future wildfires, a community fights for its forest” [High Country News]. “[T]he fire spared the towns, in part because of a forest-thinning project that had started the spring before in the Hughes Creek drainage, an area of wooded canyons set between the communities and the backcountry. After years of planning by the Lemhi Forest Restoration Group, a local collaborative convened by a conservation nonprofit, thick stands of trees had been selectively logged to help protect homes. The logging didn’t leave dramatic gashes of downed trees or abrupt, clear-cut expanses; it had been designed to thin the forest, turning tightly packed clumps of overgrown trees into roomier groves that a person could easily stroll through without getting snagged. In a sense, that’s what thinning is supposed to encourage wildfires to do: amble along the forest floor rather than brush up against tree branches and carry flames from trunk to treetop, torching entire stands and making firefighting untenable. Along the Highway 93 corridor, the thinning had helped keep the fire at bay. ‘These treatments were well placed, well implemented and were clearly a practice that paid significant dividends,’ a 2013 Forest Service report on the fire concluded. The thinned spots were places where fire crews could comfortably dig fire lines and set backburns, as long as the weather cooperated. ‘From a safety standpoint, (the firefighters) didn’t feel like we were putting them in a bad situation,’ Cluff said.”

“Toronto destroys community garden at local park without warning” [BlogTO]. “A community garden, located right next to the greenhouse near Trinity Bellwoods’ community centre was bulldozed as part of last Wednesday’s chaos. The garden had been tended to and cared for by a group of volunteers and local community members who dedicated their time to adding some beauty and diverse plant life to the park. ‘The group was given no warning prior to this removal, which meant all their personal property, time, energy, and love was just thrown out, along with the community’s canoe, which symbolized the Lost Rivers project that was generously donated by the David Suzuki Foundation.’ According to Hui, part of the reason given to them about why the garden was bulldozed was that city officials were concerned that something could have been stashed or hidden within the garden.” • I’m surprised the city hasn’t paved it over. Perhaps that’s in the works.

“All the right words on climate have already been said” [Nieman Labs]. • Hard to excerpt. Worth reading in full.

Our Famously Free Press

“Biden’s Chief of Staff Is Worried About ‘Everything.’ Except the Midterms.” [New York Times]. Kara Swisher interviews Ron Klain. This caught me eye: “I think the platforms need to do better. I think particularly Facebook needs to do better. And I need to give them some credit in the sense that there’s a lot of accurate information on Facebook. I think Facebook itself has built a number of tools to help people find vaccines and so on and so forth. But I’ve told Mark Zuckerberg directly that when we gather groups of people who are not vaccinated and we ask them, why aren’t you vaccinated, and they tell us things that are wrong, tell us things that are untrue, and we ask them where they’ve heard that, the most common answer is Facebook. And so we know it has become a giant source of misinformation and disinformation about the vaccines. So I am worried about this problem of misinformation, disinformation driving vaccine hesitancy in our country, and of course, in other countries, too.” • Suppose we could invent a Magic Board™ that would enable Facebook to moderate all content such that it fell within the spectrum of conventional wisdom. the Magic Board™ would have been wrong, outright wrong, on travel bans, masks, and aerosol transmission. In other words, it would have conveyed disinformation (since the conveyed information was selected with intent). The Magic Board™ would also have insisted that the lab leak hypothesis was CT (the conventional wisdom changed) and that Ivermectin is outside the spectrum (when it should clearly be inside). And that’s for starters. What Klain really wants is for Facebook to reflect the current liberal Democrat zeitgeist, whatever it may be. The real way to prevent the instant and world-wide transmission is to introduce a lot more friction into the system. A good start would be breaking up Facebook. (I would set a ceiling on the number of accounts. 2.85 billion monthly active users is far too many; 100 million is more reasonable; even more reasonable would be the circulation of the Wall Street Journal (2.84 million). It’s certainly possible to make a nice living at a smaller scale than Facebook, so why not break it up?



“Robbing The Xbox Vault: Inside a $10 Million Gift Card Cheat” [Bloomberg]. “The Xbox gift card came with a string of 25 letters and numbers. The digits, known as a 5×5 code, were sent in an email, but they were no different from the numbers and letters etched onto the gift cards hanging off tall racks near the checkout aisle at CVS or Target, arrayed in a Rubik’s Cube of colors. These stores sell them on behalf of Apple, Applebee’s, Disney, Domino’s, and pretty much every other company you can think of, including Microsoft Corp., which markets its cards under the Xbox brand. The cards themselves, of course, are worthless, but each 5×5 code corresponds to a dollar amount…. In this way, gift cards can be thought of as a sort of digital currency, not unlike Bitcoin. The comparison may seem silly, given that gift cards date to the bygone era of Blockbuster Video, but today there are online marketplaces where anyone can trade gift card codes for Bitcoin and then turn the spoils into cash. These markets inevitably attract speculators and, because trades can be conducted anonymously, scammers.” • But of course!

“Sony Charging Devs At Least $25,000 For PlayStation Store Visibility” [Kotaku]. “In a furious tirade on Twitter, independent games publisher Iain Garner of Neon Doctrine has unleashed his frustrations with trying to publish games on a major games console—one he says that isn’t made by Microsoft. During the spleen-venting, he suggests that getting prominent promotion for a game from the platform holder requires spending at least $25,000. According to financial figures we’ve had verified by another source, if it’s Sony he’s talking about, that can reach as high as $200,000. Without naming either Sony or PlayStation (presumably allowing room for us to think he might mean the Atari VCS), British developer and publisher Garner details just how difficult he has found it to gain support, store presence, and even launch discounts, when releasing games on the platform.” • Good to see Sony giving the little guy a leg up. (I don’t know about Sony games, but though I love Sony (and Zeiss) glass, and I love the Sony sensor, the UI/UX in Sony camera software is absolutely brutal. Something wrong, there.)

Sports Desk

“Tour de France fan who caused massive crash when riders hit cardboard sign arrested” [ABC Australia]. • Looking at the cameras, not the riders.

The Agony Column

“I Learned How to Cope with Agoraphobia. The Pandemic Eroded It All” [Vice]. “For a year and a half, my anxiety’s natural instincts—to stay at home, surrounded by trusted people—became the way of things. I no longer had to force myself to run a daily gauntlet of low-level fear. Unchallenged, the fears became stronger, and multiplied. I have seen an erosion, and then a disappearance, of my abilities, gradually and then faster and faster, into the big black maw of a fear that’s swallowed my life and left me little…. From my enforced distance, the heady period being heralded as “Hot Vax Summer” doesn’t feel all that different from the ways in which we were expected to contend with, or ignore, the disease at the height of its deadly ferocity in this country. The president told us to go out and spend while tens of thousands were dying; expectations of productivity never waned, no matter how much stress we were under. Now, what meager aid has been offered is being yanked away, and the vast constellation of loss we have endured must be left hushed. Go out and spend: time in the sun and money in the bar, and subsume yourself in breathless companionable laughter and don’t think for a moment about what you lost, or you’re weak and strange. It is so very unnatural, and so very American, and I want my piece of this sweet and terrible lie and can’t have it.” • This is a lovely piece, well worth a read. (I don’t mean to mock it by filing it here; this is just the category where it goes!)

Groves of Academe

“A New Macroeconomics?” (PDF) [Jón Steinsson]. “During the time theory was dominant in macro, much progress was made on the theoretical front. But being so dominated by theory, the field was very exposed to another problem: models in which markets work well are (usually) easier to solve than models in which market work poorly. This simple fact has huge consequences because it imparts a bias on economic theory towards models in which markets work well. Since models in which markets work well are easier to solve, researchers tend to work with such models. The default assumption about a market is typically that it is perfectly competitive. Researcher will often introduce a carefully constructed friction in a critical place in their model and focus their analysis on the implications of this friction. But all other markets in the model are typically modeled as being perfectly competitive for simplicity. The typical researcher is so used to assuming that virtually all markets are perfectly competitive that they are often completely blinded as to the consequences of these assumptions. They take as given certain implications of these perfect markets assumptions as though they were inevitable consequences of logic as opposed to the consequences of obviously false simplifying assumptions that they and everyone they know have made for years and years.” • It seems to me that the default assumption should be that markets are not perfectly competitive. Take, for example, the market in macroeconomists.

Class Warfare

Pinning this from Adam Tooze:

If there is to be a stabilization of global emissions it will involve a U-turn in the trajectory of consumption, particularly amongst the top ten percent of households in North America, the Arab world and Asia….. Whatever our choice of terms, we can hardly avoid the conclusion that if there is to be an energy transition, under prevailing conditions (an assumption some may wish to challenge), it is this social class that must make it, simultaneously as decision-makers, consumers and investors. And it must be made across the entire world. It is a challenge of a kind that the global bourgeoisie has never faced before. It is a challenge that puts in question the cohesion and collective intelligence of that group – which, as history tells us, can hardly be taken for granted, even at the best of times.

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“Corruption” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “‘Corruption’ conjures images of bags of cash changing hands in deserted parking garages, but I’d like to propose a simple and concrete definition that goes beyond that: ‘Corruption’ is when something bad happens because its harms are diffused and its gains are concentrated.” • This is different from Teachout’s view (and the Framers’) and very interesting. It implies, for example, that capitalism is corrupt by definition, given that capital accumulation causes harms and is concentrated.

“Young American Adults Are Dying — and Not Just From Covid” [Bloomberg]. “In March, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee summed up the current state of knowledge in a 475-page report on “High and Rising Mortality Rates Among Working-Age Adults.” Advances in overall life expectancy stalled in the U.S. after 2010 even while continuing in other wealthy countries, the committee summed up, attributing this mainly to (1) rising mortality due to external causes such as drugs, alcohol and suicide among those aged 25 through 64 and (2) a slowing in declines in deaths from internal causes, chiefly cardiovascular diseases. There are lots of different ways to analyze this disturbing turn of events, and the fact that much attention so far has gone to the plight of the middle-aged makes sense in that middle-aged people are a lot likelier to die than younger adults. The 3.7% increase in mortality from 2010 through 2019 for those aged 55 through 64, for example, amounted to almost four times as many deaths as the 25.2% increase among those aged 25 through 34. Still, a 25.2% mortality increase over nine years amounts to a staggering setback, far worse than any other age group experienced over that period. It was followed up in 2020 with an also staggering 24.5% one-year increase, which made for a 55.8% rise since 2010. ”

We seem to be awfully good at swinging the scythe through large population segments.

News of the Wired

I seem not to be wired today. Perhaps tomorrow.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Eureka Springs):

Eureka Springs: “On my phone due to lightning which recently zapped my mac mini which is now in the shop for repair. My old oak in full bloom at sunrise here in the Ozark Mountains. Some three hundred miles southwest as the crow flies behind this tree Amfortas the hippie is probably out herding cats. This time of year blue and painted buntings love it most. Filling my world in their song. A couple of weeks back we watched a bald eagle catch a large roadrunner then accidentally drop it from a couple hundred feet in this view.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carolinian

    Thanks for Doctorow although it sounds like a commie doctrine since everyone knows that concentrated gains lead to widespread gains. They learned it at Reagan’s knee (their knees were bended).

    1. fresno dan

      as they say, it is hard for a rich man to know what makes him rich when his being rich depends on him not knowing

      1. Geo

        The sad aspect to this is how many non-wealthy buy this myth. So many in my circles have devout faith in the markets and private enterprise. Doesn’t matter that they’ve been exploited by wealthy people most of their lives, or that they can see the fallout from it all around us. There’s a hero-worship of Musk, Gates, and lots of other “innovators” I don’t know about but apparently are often on CNN or Joe Rogan (and other podcasts) and they are all making the world a better place I’m told.

        Purely anecdotal but within my circle it seems people are either still of the “back to brunch” mindset that everything will be fine if we let the PMC’s, lead by their benevolent CEOs, innovate us into the future – or they’ve gone mostly nihilistic: its all *familyblogged* so I’m just gonna get what I can get and not bother with playing by the niceties of society governed by a rigged system.

        Let me just say to the people who make Naked Capitalism run, and the commentariat, thank you all for being a safe haven of sanity. We often express differing views and (with the help of moderators) still remain civil, supportive, and open to understanding each other’s perspectives. Outside these digital walls the polarization seems insurmountable.

        Back a decade ago I could hold rational conversations with Tea Partiers and Occupy activists, diehard Dems and staunch Republicans. Now, it’s like each group has fractured into various sects and all distrust all others. It’s like primitive tribalism where “all evil comes from outside” (J.G. Frazier, “The Golden Bough”).

        Again, maybe it’s just my circles? I don’t know. Online discussion has always been this way but it seems IRL has been infected by online culture (and news media that has adopted the model) and we’ve lost a social compact. The notion of a common good is gone. (Know people who are vocally hoping red states get annihilated by the Delta variant, and others who vocally want to start a civil war against “liberals” (their term for anyone to the left of Trump – literally they think McConnell is a liberal).

        So, again, thank you for this refuge. You all make me feel less insane, or at least comforted in know y’all are likeminded loco too!

        1. fresno dan

          July 1, 2021 at 7:40 pm
          I agree 1,000%. But the people you know see an incessant stream of BS about how wonderful the market is. (actaully, there is an incessant stream of BS about everything) They don’t see Matt Stoller’s writings on how most of the large compaies are monopolies that gained market share through subterfuge, manipulation, corruption, and illegality.
          They own the media, and they own the message.
          I dunno – if your being exploited without hope, maybe not knowing how dismal your lot really is, is the only escape. Being in reality doesn’t make me happier – and it strikes me all my efforts are for naught…

        2. rowlf

          Most of us can take a few hits and shake it off. If you never make a wrong step have you really explored the map?

          1. rowlf

            A variation: Realize you are stuck on Monkey Planet until Sun Ra comes back and picks you up.

            I’ll let you have the window seat. It should be a good trip back to where we belong.

  2. fresno dan

    “New poll shows how Trump surged with women and Hispanics — and lost anyway” [Politico].
    Long story short, I have to say I think its a good thing that idpol groups aren’t engaging in group think and voting like they are suppose to.
    Gee, one could even speculate and attribute the falling numbers of these groups to the dems to the fact that the actual people in these groups perceive the pandering to them as condescending ….

    1. dcblogger

      speaking only for myself, it depresses me that anyone could have voted for Trump. And if you don’t like Biden there were other choices on the ballot.

      1. Isotope_C14

        I was hoping Trump would have won so the EU would realize what a disaster the US is and grow stronger ties elsewhere.

        Sadly, the average EU citizen is happy with a senile, hair-sniffing, war-monger, lunatic as a return to “normal”. Oh, and that Tara Reade must have been a liar, um, because.

        I didn’t bother voting. It would have been a waste of paper – though I did in the primary.

      2. Max "Toast the Most Ghosts" Stirner

        >there were other choices on the ballot.

        Yeah, like the other Republican.

      3. anEnt

        Funny, I recall being hectored by every Democrat ever that I must vote LoTE. I voted third party as getting a third body on the debate stage is the only way to break this two faces, one party extremism-rather-than-actual-change cycle. Now, in retrospect you allow me my preference? How noble of you.

        1. km

          No lie, Homes, no lie. If Trump had won, by hook or by crook, can you imagine the Team D/PMC vote shaming that would ensue, because we didn’t fall in line and vote for the Team D corporate imperialist muppet instead of the Team R corporate imperialist muppet?

          But Biden is in the White House, so happy days! Until 2024, of course. Or maybe just 2022. Then we will be sternly admonished to fall in line once more, for Our Democracy® depends upon us voting the way we’re told.

      4. LawnDart

        It depresses me that people in USA continue to “vote” and uphold the illusion of USA democracy, or the legitimacy of the selection process.

        If you vote, you are the problem.

        1. Geo

          As someone who has not voted many times, I don’t see anyway this has done any good for anything. It’s allowed me to tell myself i “didn’t vote for a warmonger” but it hasn’t done anything to change anything.

          Non-voters are non-entities to the political establishment. Voters mean next to nothing but non-voters mean exactly nothing to them.

          It’s not like being a conscientious objector to war. I still live here and take part in the society whether I vote for its leadership or not. I may be wrong and curious to know how not voting does anything more than allow me to impotently pretend I’m not an active part of a broken system.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I voted for State-legal marijuana in Michigan in a recent referrendum. And we got State-legal marijuana in Michigan. So by voting I was part of the solution in that case.

      5. Chris Smith

        Trump ran policies like a run of the mill Republican (tax cuts for the rich) despite his mouthing off all of the time. I must not be of the PMC because I don’t see whatever it is that was driving the Trump Derangement Syndrome of the PMC.

    2. Arizona Slim

      One of my friends is a Hispanic woman who came to this country knowing one word of English. The word was “spoon.”

      Why that word? Well, it came from her childhood. She was quite sickly, and she walked around her Mexican village with a spoon so people could feed her.

      Long story short, she overcame her childhood health problems, moved to this country, and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree. She worked in university administration for many years.

      So, you’re probably thinking that she’s one of those PMC Democratic Party voters. But you would be wrong. Both she and her husband are of the conservative Republican persuasion.

      1. km

        My best friend grew up poor, black and in one of the nastiest ghettos in the nation. He has since earned a PhD.

        He is an extremely doctrinaire member of Team R and a full-on, Kool Aid chugging Trumper.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          I find it hilarious that the very same Democrats who call the GOP a “Trumpian cult of personality” are the least likely to see the fawning Obama worship in the “party of the adults in the room.”

          1. km

            Both are personality cults, just that one set of cultists use longer words and have more acceptable taste and decorum.

            But they are still personality cults.

            1. fresno dan

              July 1, 2021 at 8:26 pm
              just that one set of cultists use longer words
              their college edumacations enbiggens them…giving them the knowledge and perspection to believe things than no common man could be so stupid as to believe…

              1. km

                Sorry for the late response, but after some thinking, I would say that their fancy educations mostly really makes them better at cognitive dissonance, especially since so much “knowledge work” really consists of symbol manipulation on behalf of a client.

                “Man is not a rational animal, man is a rationalizing animal” and all that.

      2. Tom Doak

        I don’t understand why you assumed we’d assume she was a Democrat, since you gave no indication that she got where she is due to social programs, college scholarships, or the like. Those who have “made it” via hard work alone are very likely to be Republicans and have little sympathy for anyone who hasn’t made it on their own.

        1. Aumua

          Pulled themselves all alone up by their own bootstraps, did they? No wonder they hold such disdain for those who obviously simply refuse to work hard (Democrats usually).

      3. John Emerson

        Successful people tend to be Republican or centrist Democrat. If a successful black or Latino is a Republican like successful white people, BFD. Politics is about the whole population.

  3. fresno dan

    1. “Staggering” “25.2% mortality increase over nine years” for young adults (25-34) in America — with deaths surging also in *2020*.
    Fortunately, the greatest country in the world, full of freedom, and our vaunted legal system, is right on it and will provide a plethora of programs and innovative policies related to health, deaths of despair, and the emptiness of our modern life to stem this tradegy. Actually, of course not.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Not too shocking. The Offspring wrote the song “The kids aren’t alright” back in 1998.

      When we were young, the future was so bright. Woah-oh
      The old neighborhood was so alive. Woah-oh
      And every kid on the whole damn street. Woah-oh
      Was gonna make it big and not be beat

      Now the neighborhood’s cracked and torn. Woah-oh
      The kids are grown up, but their lives are worn. Woah-oh
      How can one little street swallow so many lives?

      Chances thrown Nothing’s free
      Longing for used to be
      Still it’s hard, hard to see
      Fragile lives Shattered dreams (Go!)

      Jamie had a chance, well she really did. Woah-oh
      Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids. Woah-oh
      Mark still lives at home ’cause he’s got no job. Woah-oh
      He just plays guitar and smokes a lot of pot

      Jay commited suicide. Woah-oh
      Brandon OD’d and died. Woah-oh
      What the hell is going on?
      The cruelest dream, reality

      1. marku52

        James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make I here Anymore”

        That big ol’ building was the textile mill
        It fed our kids and it paid our bills
        But they turned us out and they closed the doors
        We can’t make it here anymore

        See all those pallets piled up on the loading dock
        They’re just gonna set there till they rot

        Cause there’s nothing to ship, nothing to pack
        Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
        Empty storefronts around the square
        There’s a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
        You don’t come down here ‘less you’re looking to score
        We can’t make it here anymore

        And more. Sad song.

    2. Objective Ace

      Am I interpreting these graphs correctly? The increase is from 100/100k population to 160/100k population. That would be a 60% increase.. even more alarming

    3. Aumua

      I also note that the ostensible opiate death surge in young people began well before 2020. I’d say it’s likely that fentanyl in the drug supply is the main culprit there, which of course is a direct result of the war on drugs.

  4. Wukchumni

    “Facing future wildfires, a community fights for its forest” [High Country News]. “[T]he fire spared the towns, in part because of a forest-thinning project that had started the spring before in the Hughes Creek drainage, an area of wooded canyons set between the communities and the backcountry.
    We got a grant from the state and took down approx 1,300 dead trees around the perimeter of our cabin community on both private & National Park land, and to give you an idea of how things have changed in a dozen years, back then a cabin owner cut down a dead tree on NPS land and they had a conniption fit over it, fined the fellow and let it be known in no uncertain terms that this is not allowed, and then came the Paradise Fire and now they’re quiet as church mice.

    What was accomplished was all fine & dandy, but our forest has the look of some lout who planted 250 carrot seeds in a place where 40 would’ve been plenty, there’s lots of thinning needed of waif-like trees way too close to one another, and to put things in perspective, in the 19th century a person on horse could easily move between trees in the forest as Mother Nature had done all the hard work of distancing for us, combined with the help of Native Americans setting fires in the late fall without fail every year.

    I kind of doubt NPS will allow thinning though, 5 year old dead trees are one thing, but forfend the forest & all living things is their mission statement.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘in the 19th century a person on horse could easily move between trees in the forest’

      It sounds like the NPS don’t really have an idea what forests are supposed to look like and are assuming that the way it looks now is the way that it is supposed to look like. But it would be a colossal task to thin out so many forests and would require loggers to go in to get rid of the surplus which has very bad optics in itself.

      1. Wukchumni

        The forester for the NP here told me about 20 years ago that a section of trees far from the public eye had just been hit with bark beetles, and he lined up a potential buyer for the wood in the mid 6 figures, but the optics were all wrong and nothing was done, and said trees perished quite naturally of their own accord.

        That said, they have been doing prescribed burns here for many decades, so they aren’t adverse to cleaning things out.

  5. dcblogger

    a friend of mine, my age (68) told me that she expects to face medical bankruptcy before the end of her life. Yet this friend is totally anti Bernie Sanders, so much that we never talk politics anymore. She thinks that Biden is competent. This is the biggest barrier to progressive victory, the little voice in the heads of ordinary people that we can’t have nice things don’t even try.

    1. Cancyn

      It is amazing isn’t it? I have so many friends who fret about government debt and the mess we’re leaving our kids. I still don’t completely understand MMT but someone only had to point out to me that there is always, always money for the MIC and corporate bail outs and corporate tax breaks, no ‘how are we going to pay for it?’ ever asked, to get me to see that something is rotten. Why don’t they ask why we can’t have spend money on other stuff (healthcare, infrastructure and the environment) and let the banks and big corporations go pound sand. So simple, at least as far as understanding goes. Making it happen ain’t so easy. But the lightbulb doesn’t go on for folks.

    2. fresno dan

      July 1, 2021 at 2:46 pm
      It is astounding how effective brainwashing can be to make people believe that people who are screwing them (in a bad way) love them.

    3. Felix_47

      Have her read Hospital by Brian Alexander. It came out a few months ago. It is a very accurate picture of what our health care system has become. Send some money to Nina Turner. Clyburn was just in Ohio to push her opponent and rumor has it Obama and Biden are coming soon. There is no way the Democrats will accept Medicare for all. As Jim Clyburn pointed out some years ago, as the BCC once again opposed campaign finance reform, Black candidates are underfunded because their constituents are poor and dont donate. To be on an equal footing with white candidates they need Super Pacs.

  6. allan

    July 1 will henceforth be a national holiday, Plessy v. Ferguson Reinstatement Day.
    From this morning’s SCOTUS majority opinion in the decision gutting of the Voting Rights Act :

    C. The size of any disparities in a rule’s impact on members of different racial or ethnic groups is an important factor to consider. Even neutral regulations may well result in disparities in rates of voting
    and noncompliance with voting rules. The mere fact that there is some disparity in impact does not necessarily mean that a system is not equally open or that it does not give everyone an
    equal opportunity to vote. …

    In other words, separate `opportunity’ to vote,
    as long as the system has equal `openness’ (whatever the h*ll that means)
    is A-ok with Alito, Roberts & Thomas, LLC.

    Even delivering concrete material benefits won’t be enough to win elections. Finito.

    1. Wotan

      Every nation in Europe requires in-person ID voting. They seem to function OK. What is wrong with safe-guarding the integrity of the only time a Citizen gets to show his satisfaction with the incumbent political representatives?

      1. Adam

        Do nations in Europe make it much easier to get IDs to everyone? If the states that want voter ID laws are also required to come and get IDs to everyone that wants one, I certainly wouldn’t object then.

          1. count zero

            In the UK there is no form of state-issued ID. There is an electoral register of those entitled to vote in each local constituency. A few weeks before any election I receive a card with my name and a few other details, including where I can vote. I turn up to vote with this card as ID. My name is crossed off the official list of registered voters. It seems to work efficiently.

            But as yet the UK lacks the kind of high-energy individuals dedicated to corrupting anything for personal advantage that the USA seems to foster. A few sharp entrepreneurs would soon spot some profitable business opportunities here.

        1. Felix_47

          What state does not provide an id card if the person does not drive? I could see an issue if California, for example, refused to provide an ID card. They provide ID cards even to illegals. Try cashing a check without an ID card. And Americans do game elections. Don’t forget a lot of Republicans voted for Biden in the South Carolina primary because they were afraid Sanders would win. As Stalin pointed out, Elections are good. We all want elections. What is important is who counts the votes. If votes really counted we would have a much different, and more progressive nation.

      2. allan

        At random, from just before the 2017 Alabama special US Senate election that Doug Jones won:

        … Alabama offers free voter IDs to people who need them, but discrimination can still persist. To get a free voter ID in Alabama, eligible voters have to present legal documentation like a birth certificate, marriage record or Social Security document. Getting those documents can be difficult, both financially and logistically.

        “It is very complicated, it’s very time-consuming,” said Kathleen Unger, the president and CEO of VoteRiders, a group that assists people in getting the ID they need to vote. Unger’s group has been active ahead of the Alabama election. “Obviously these are people who don’t have a current driver’s license in their state, so getting around is a big issue. And it’s expensive.”

        As of Monday morning, a link on the Alabama secretary of state’s website, directing voters to places where they could get a free ID, led to a blank page. …

        They call it voter suppression for a reason. More:

        The Supreme Court Just Mangled the Voting Rights Act Beyond Recognition [Slate]

        There’s no way to sugarcoat it: On Thursday, the Supreme Court’s six conservative justices dismantled what remains of the Voting Rights Act, all but ensuring that every voter suppression law passed in the wake of the 2020 election will survive judicial scrutiny.

        Thursday’s 6–3 decision in Brnovich v. DNC feigns moderation. Justice Sam Alito’s opinion for the court purports to leave the VRA’s most crucial remaining provision intact. Don’t believe it. Alito transformed a sweeping, historic law—one intended to bar voting restrictions with a racially discriminatory impact—into an empty promise. In theory, the VRA still stands. In reality, it has been flattened into meaningless symbolism, just when Black and brown Americans need it most. …

        Taken together, Alito’s rules establish a brand-new test under the VRA, one that bears little resemblance to the law that Congress actually passed. His apparent goal was to ensure that a voter suppression law’s grossly disparate impact on racial minorities will no longer serve as grounds for its invalidation. Mission accomplished. Many if not all of the voting restrictions passed after the 2020 election would survive Alito’s test …

        1. John

          I seem to recall that Roberts has been gunning for the Voting Tights Act since he was a pup in government.

      3. fumo

        The majority of European countries require a person to have state ID and the ones that don’t, make it difficult for those who don’t have a state single-payer health care ID, or like in Italy (where ID isn’t legally mandatory), a Codice Fiscale state tax number required for anything from interacting with government to renting a hotel room, and most also have a state-issued ID like the Italian Carta d’Identità. Barriers are low, even I as a US citizen with property in Italy can get a Codice Fiscale document in an hour or so at any city hall.

      4. R

        The UK has never required vote I’lD and the offence of “personation” is vanishingly rare. The Tories are now trying to introduce it. It will suppress the vote just like the poll tax (local tax per head based on electoral roll) wiped millions of voters off the register.

        Ironically the real voting offence is the submission of block postal votes by heads of household or even heads of community in Muslim groups. And these usually go to Labour but voter id will not stop illegal voting by socioreligious coercion.

        1. John

          It is all about having my voters vote and yours being kept away. If you really want honest to god democracy then everyone of age is registered and we get rid of all the restrictions, set up plenty of polling places, maybe have two weeks of early voting, etc. It is not hard if you want to do it. Clearly, the USA as a whole does not.

    1. Old Sarum

      It seems to me that for your refresh messages to appear on their screens, viewers would have to refreshed (or be new viewers) anyway, otherwise it would not appear to them.

      Perhaps a boiler plate global refresh message from time x to time y would suit more.


      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Ha ha, you’re right! Not sure what the alternative would be. For a long time I wrote in a CMS where the contents in the sidebar were dynamic and IIRC refreshed the page. Perhaps I should just change the tense: “You will have refreshed your browser.”

  7. Lou Anton

    Appreciate the hat tip, Lambert. I think you’re on to something about tourist destinations, but what I wonder is who’s doing the infecting and who’s being infected.

    Missouri + Arkansas: the Ozarks are definitely where things are worse off in those 2 states. I just read that most of the hospital cases are among the unvaccinated, and if you’re in the hospital there, you’re probably a local. Visitors to the Ozarks tend to come from surrounding states, and those states tend to be the ones with low vaccination rates. So, the unvaccinated sharing air with each other.

    Mountain states: Here, I think it’s the well-to-do making “A Big Trip West.” Some cousins I visited over the weekend had either just gotten back from a 2 week drive “out West”, and another set were heading out soon. In this case, I wonder if the more well-off vaccinated are arriving in town, spreading it, and leaving it with their tour guides, camp workers, bartenders, etc. etc.

    Nevada: Textbook definition of pent up demand. Americans getting their ya-yas out.

    1. Stephen V.

      Word from our corner of the Mo-Ozarks: we purchased and received Ivermectin this week (from MX) and also found out its available Locally via prescription. (This latter is absurd as heretofore it could be purchased at any Farm Co-op store.)We are unvaxxed & have observed vastly more peeps with Vax side effects than anything Covid related.

  8. km

    “Young American Adults Are Dying — and Not Just From Covid”

    Opioids, how do they work?

  9. Wukchumni

    Nevada: Textbook definition of pent up demand. Americans getting their ya-yas out.

    Its an interesting Hobson’s Choice in Pavlovegas, all those tourists lingering too close to one another inside casinos, and taking a couple dumps a day combined with 6 urination destinations, and 22 minute showers in the hotel room.

    In an odd way, Covid kept LV alive as the thirsty tourists stayed away in droves, but that was then and this is now.

    Perhaps in a year or two, there won’t be any way to create electricity as Lake Mead will have fallen too far, but i’m not worried as sin city will then require punters to carry flashlights as they make their rounds into torch lit houses of chance.

    1. curlydan

      Same kind of dynamic likely happening in Branson (Christian Vegas? what do they call it?). While it lack casinos, there probably are small and crowded theaters packed with maskless attendees watching shows.

      There’s plenty of water in Branson, though.

  10. Deschain

    The problem with your FB solution is that a social network’s value to users is directly correlated to the number of people they know on the network (which is why social networks are natural monopolies). If you artificially fragment social networks, they become useless.

    My personal favorite solution is for the government to build a combined social network/search engine, modeled on the state of FB/GOOG tech circa 2008 (when I would argue they were both at their peak usefulness for their users, as their users hadn’t completely become the product yet.) No ads of course. I bet there are a lot of ex-SV people who would be happy to build this for a reasonable price.

    Before someone says ‘but then the govmint will have all our data and do terrible things’, you don’t think that FB and GOOG give the government all your data already? At least this way you can vote the people who control it out of power.

    1. hunkerdown

      There’s a lot of free and open-source social-networking software out there, from little one-host web bulletin boards to federated, distributed reddit or Twitter work-alikes. They take surprisingly little effort to build and surprisingly small iron to run when the behavioral tracking and manipulation are left out of it. No reason to hire in for that, when a national Lern 2 Code high school competition would serve just fine. (Google runs a Summer of Code already, for university students to contribute to FOSS projects. It’s an institution worth continuing under other auspices. The demystification of computers is one good reason.)

      There are good reasons for a re-nationalized USPS to run it. Indeed, one of them is that a government-operated social network’s user base is less likely to be exploited by its operators, precisely because the operator doesn’t have the freedom of a private actor to act in its own interest. However, the two parties currently in power do have a terribly solid record for weaponizing speech codes and sumptuary laws, and rationalizing them to courts in terms of government interest (l’etat, nous sommes). It’s not clear that the plain language of the First Amendment would be enough to sway SCOTUS when everyone in Washington wants the same thing.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The problem with your FB solution is that a social network’s value to users is directly correlated to the number of people they know on the network (which is why social networks are natural monopolies). If you artificially fragment social networks, they become useless.

      “Artificially” is doing a lot of work there. The blogosphere worked just fine, at scale, and it had nothing like Facebook’s pathologies.

    3. Skip Intro

      Take a look at Cory Doctorow’s work on competitive/adversarial interoperability. His proposal, IIRC, is that the social network is treated like a common carrier, with APIs that allow all competitors to operate on it, and allow users to control and share their data with the network applications they choose. FB would thus be broken up by separating the design and control of their social network database, from the FB app through which users post their stuff. The network side would offer open APIs, the FB app would compete on more even footing with newcomers using the same APIs.
      This would also (hopefully) reduce the conflict of interest between helping users share their details and connections, and exploiting that knowledge to try and manipulate them and defraud advertisers.

  11. Amfortas the hippie

    the Talia Lavin bit in vice:
    i developed agorophobia and panic attacks coincident with my almost 7 year quest for a new hip….learning my physical limitations in trial by fire attempts at doing what i had always done, and getting stuck somewhere without a place to sit(why is there nowhere to sit?!) when my hip/ankle/knees would assert themselves.
    this was before we had cellphones.
    that seven years was preceded by 6 or so years of the legs getting worse…and me subconsciously rebelling against the coming doom by canoeing and fishing the Llano River…until i got stuck down there(many spots where a watercraft must be drug through the shallows, over rocks). i spent the night(thankfully, summer) because i had no choice….ironically, the prophylactic gear i carried for this sort of contingency made the canoe all that more heavy, thus making such an event even more likely.
    everyone thought i had died, until i crawled out of the river the next morning. deputies helped me load the canoe.
    so all that made the panic disorder happen…and i don’t wish such experiences on anyone.
    coffee helped more than beer…weed made it worse.
    by the time i finally got a hip, i hardly left the house at all…in equal parts due to the bones and the brain problems.
    a year after the hip, still living in town, and the disposition of wife’s grandma’s house in question, i determined that i must needs move back out to the farm…prowler was long dead…so i began the housebuilding as a physical therapy/art project.
    having to enter the hardware store so often was the mental thereapy portion of the experiment…luckily, the hardware lady is cool…and hawt…and likes to flirt,lol…so no toxic masculinity to deal with like what’s usually in such homegrown places.
    now, i still avoid crowds, and tight crowded places….and sometimes i don’t leave the farm for a week.
    i go to the hardware store, feed store, dump and beer/cig place—and practically nowhere else….and take wife to chemo in the big city—but i mostly just stay in the parking lot of the chemo palace.
    i haven’t had a panic episode in some years, now…so whatever i’m doing must be working.
    panic/agoraphobia is real, and it’s just as debilitating as walking around on a dead hip and crushed ankle.
    in my case…if only the builders of our public and pseudopublic spaces didn’t have such a boner about “loitering”…and maybe put in a bench in the shade here and there…
    and not the usual public benches these days, that more resemble some medieval torture device….then maybe all that wouldn’t have been added to my troubles.
    because that’s how it began, for me.
    no place to sit.

    1. fresno dan

      Amfortas the hippie
      July 1, 2021 at 3:57 pm
      I am glad you made it through!
      no place to sit. And there won’t be, until it can be monetized. I’m thinking in about a decade, you will only be able to rent your own a$$

    2. Utah

      Solidarity friend. I’ve mostly recovered from my more acute agoraphobia symptoms, but I still have some things that I just can’t do and places that I can’t go. Boss asked me to take him to the airport and I don’t have any idea if I’m capable of that. Freeways, newish places (it all got remodeled over the last few years and old terminals are gone and new ones put in), that’s scary. Time makes it easier and harder. I look forward to the days that I haven’t had a panic attack in years. I’m glad you’ve found some workaround to your ills.

  12. Glen

    It’s hard for the Democratic party to defend public health because they don’t want or believe in public health. Biden is, as far as i know, the only President who has explicitly stated he would veto Medicare For All.

    Pelosi has blocked M4A for years.

    And lately, its a full on Democratic party dump on Nina Turner to keep her away from office.

    In fact, if you had to rank what is the most important priority of the Democratic party, blocking Medicare For All might be at the top of the list.

    1. Wotan

      People who work for and advise government political representatives and the representatives themselves are not any smarter, taken as a whole, than you are. Think of them as your neighbors. Do you really want a committee of your neighbors to make health care decisions for you or do you want to make these decisions, the most important you can make, decisions that may lengthen or shorten your life and its enjoyment, for yourself?

      1. hunkerdown

        “Smartness” is irrelevant. If they can’t separate their fortunes from others, they will tend to make decisions that maximize everyone’s fortune. They just need to be forced into the same plan as the rest of us and therefore share the same interests.

        Besides, I trust neighbors more than I trust a bunch of careerist BSNs at the local health insurer who get promoted for denying care. You think we don’t know who the decision makers in health care are? Heh.

      2. Phoenix

        Yeah, i’d much rather have the current option where I don’t even get to make a health care decision because I can’t afford insurance…

      3. steve

        So you prefer a committee of insurance execs and hospital/clinic administrators making your health care decisions?

      4. Geo

        “Think of them as your neighbors.” Remind me of 1999 when we kept hearing about how Bush was someone “I wanna have a beer with!”

        Don’t know what neighborhood you live in but 99% of them have never set foot in the types of neighborhood I live in. My neighborhood is 94% non-white for a start, it’s also lower-working class to poor (with a sizable homeless population).

        You’re right they probably aren’t smarter than my neighbors or myself, but their life experience makes them very, very different people that have completely different understandings of what is important.

        As I told an old buddy and Wall Street investment banker (was at the defunct Lehman Bros) when he dismissively said “You just think us finance guys are evil don’t you?”, “No,” I said, “But you see the world in charts and cycles of up and down, not the lives that are crushed in those cycles. It’s a numbers game for you but for most people it’s the difference of having a future or not.”

        My neighbors would sacrifice their own well-being for mine (and they have). The people fielding calls with corporate donors nor the ones in corporate offices scanning data to find ways to squeeze more profits from the numbers are not people I want to be making those decisions.

      5. Glen

        There are currently 60 million people in the US on Medicare. They like it

        Medicare For All is an improved Medicare with expanded coverage, available to everyone, paid for by taxes. It will improve medical coverage, and lower cost. You pay your taxes, and thats it, you can go see your doctor.

        Its similar to what the rest of the civilized world has, and is why they live longer, and healther lives.

        It would allow small business to thrive and grow.

        1. Yves Smith

          Speak for yourself. My mother is having to pay $30,000 for a skilled nursing facility that ought to be covered by Medicare and isn’t. She also has to pay $90 upfront to go to any ER. She has money so she can contend with this. What if she didn’t have ready cash?

          I have a friend, over 70, who was hit for a $25,000 bill for rehab in a skilled nursing facility which like my mother in theory should have been covered by Medicare but wasn’t. And she didn’t have the dough. She had to beg and eventually raised it. Is this any way to treat the elderly?

          It looks good only if you didn’t have coverage before.

          I loath the day I have to go on Medicare. My friends who are starting on Medicare are appalled by the complexity and gaps. For starters, I find it outrageous that patients are forced into HMOs. I’ve had three ER visits in my adult life, all about cornea scratches and two on the West Coast. If I had been dumb enough to get Medicare Advantage, as 40% of Americans do now because it looks cheaper and is one stop shopping (as in no mind-numbing complexity) those West Coast ER visits would not have been covered.

          Oh, and lots of doctors don’t take Medicare: many in the Dallas area, most in NYC and CT, and thus I am pretty sure many other if not most other high cost cities. My current doctors, to whom I am very attached, don’t accept it.

          And many of our readers agree. Ambrit volunteered this opinion on a post not about Medicare, but about colonoscopies:

          I’m fending off the ‘tender ministrations’ of my generally reasonable medica concerning this exact item now. The thinking seems to be that since I am now Medicare “enabled,” cost is not a factor. That last is an argument without merit.

          Medicare is a fully dysfunctional neo-liberal mare’s nest today. Part A, in hospital costs, has one annual ‘deductable.’ Part B, outpatient care, not only comes with an monthly fee, ($149 USD for most,) but also an annual, even if reasonably small, deductable charge. Then there is the 80/20 cost sharing formula. Medicare sets basic prices and then proceeds to only pat 80% of that. The “customer” is left to pay the other 20%. Enter Medigap Insurance, a federally ‘managed’ but private insurance scheme to cover that ‘last’ 20%. Basically, the Federal Government establishes guidelines concerning the services covered by Medigap policies. There are now eight (8) types of Medigap plan available, along with some “High Deductable” versions of same. Each type of plan covers the same ‘benefits’ across all providers.

          Here is the kicker, to provide Medigap plans, an insurance company must offer Plan A, and then is allowed to chose which of the other plan types to offer alongside it. Plan A, as one may surmise, is near the top of the price field. (I refer to it as the “Medicare Mine Field.”) Also complicating matters is that insurers can tailor their offerings and prices to each zip code. The basic plans stay the same across the country, just which plans offered per zip code can change, (again, A is the standard requirement.)

          I coundn’t imagine a more “criminogenic environment” if I tried.

    2. Hepativore

      Jim Clyburn is trying to form the anti-progressive Voltron again, and Hillary has risen out of the abyss once more to endorse Shontel Brown.

      While Nina Turner has a massive lead in the race and the August finish line is rapidly approaching, I am afraid of Obama coming in to deliver the knockout punch to Turner’s campaign. Obama is still erroneously perceived by the populace as being the Golden Boy and he probably still has enough political clout to turn the tide of popularity against any potential upstarts that are too left-leaning. I would not put it past Obama to interfere in a state Congressional race as the Democratic Party leadership wants to maintain its neoliberal stranglehold on party ideology until neoliberalism’s last gasp should that day ever come.

      Also, keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of new and inventive vote-tallying “errors” and shenanigans that will all seem to just happen in Brown’s favor.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Obama intervened with Emmanuel, but that would have been a direct embarrassment, but he didn’t look too good after intervening intervening against Rangel.

          The myth that Obama is a secret good guy is all he has, so I doubt he would want to intervene directly. He probably sent Clyburn, but Clyburn means jack outside SC.

    1. c_heale

      Sorry, but having read about the church schools this week and considering the oil sands contribution to global warming, I think this should be a day of mourning.

  13. Jeff W

    Cory Doctorow “‘Corruption’ is when something bad happens because its harms are diffused and its gains are concentrated.”

    That just seems wrong because, although it’s arguably true, it’s overly broad. Externalities like air pollution could fall under the same “definition” and I wouldn’t call that corruption.

    I’d say that, at the very least, corruption is the process whereby behavior is affected by factors extrinsic to the natural consequences of the behavior. So a politician who takes a bribe to vote a certain way is affected by that bribe rather than the natural consequences of his vote (e.g., the possible adverse effects on his constituency, the threat of being voted out of office). In that sense the political process is corrupted. It’s overly broad also—paying someone to stop smoking might be viewed as “corruption”—but at least it gets at how behavior is diverted (“corrupted”) to something other than what it would be if only the natural consequences were present.

    1. jsn

      So, pollution is fine if it’s legal?

      Is not the fact that pollution is legal evidence of corrupt politics? Or that what laws do prohibit it aren’t enforced?

      Political economy as currently practiced is burning the world, should we not account for that in our moral philosophies?

    2. fumo

      The toleration of pollution at the behest of corporate polluters seems to fall squarely in the ‘corruption’ basket to me.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That just seems wrong because, although it’s arguably true, it’s overly broad. Externalities like air pollution could fall under the same “definition” and I wouldn’t call that corruption.

      I’m not so sure. I think Doctorow’s definition frames corruption as a collective action failure, and that’s surely part of the problem. I think he’s on to something.

    4. hunkerdown

      “Bad” Is doing a lot of sleazy work in Doctorow’s formulation. In particular it’s allowing him and his readers to define “good”, which is liberal arrogance, and further to define “good” as something independent of harms or gains, which is liberal mysticism. The effect is to enable “deserving corruption” vs. “undeserving corruption”, in other words, and he can shove right back off to Speenhamland in a handbasket with it.

  14. Greg

    UPDATE “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?” [New York Times]. Kim Stanley Robinson: “Well, we are stuck in an international system of nation-states, and we don’t have time to invent and institute any kind of alternative world governance, so we have to use what we’ve got.

    I just finished reading KSR’s “Ministry for the Future” and I was pretty disappointed. I have thoroughly enjoyed in the past his RGB Mars trilogy (scifi mars engineering, settlement, and political establishment) and The Years of Rice and Salt (alternate history where the black plague emptied europe and the world developed from an eastern perspective).
    The MftF read more as PMC wish fulfilment. There’s a UN agency that talks to global leader types, and after a few catastrophes everyone gets onto changing the economic system and green ag systems that make things ok again within a generation. Yes, there is a black ops side to the agency that the leader intentionally avoids knowing about, which is going around killing oil execs and downing private jets, but the real change apparently happens as a result of a paris-agreement-created UN agency. Which frankly, beggars belief after the last twenty years of real world complete failure to achieve anything.

    Also, it’s rife with crypto wowser stuff, like replacing global currency with a blockchain social media based currency that through transparency makes capitalism just. Ummm.

  15. Tom Stone

    I was thinking about the differences between Mike Gravel and Donald Rumsfeld.
    Mike Gravel was a big man, and a lot bigger on the inside than the outside.
    Rumsfeld’s outside was a lot larger than his inside.
    The average cockroach has more heart.

    1. Pat

      The news over the last week has been massively depressing to me. One of the big reasons was the response to the death of someone who I consider a hero, Mike Gravel, as in crickets versus the death of war criminal piece of excrement Rumsfeld. Especially when you add in the context of the anniversary of the Pentagon Papers. That only Teen Vogue managed to get the right type of obit out of the box for Rumsfeld was deeply depressing.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > That only Teen Vogue managed to get the right type of obit out of the box for Rumsfeld was deeply depressing.

        Or encouraging, given Teen Vogue’s youthful audience.

  16. Pat

    The rise of the Taliban seems to be all over the news. Apparently the propaganda masters are NOT happy with the idea of even a little bit of a withdrawal.

    The war must go on forever….

    1. The Rev Kev

      Washington is trying to get the Turks to keep a battalion at Kabul’s airport to keep it open but the Taliban has, more or less, said that if they are still there after the pullout date, that they will be killed. Not using those words of course but I would imagine that by then the Taliban would have captured the Afghan Army’s artillery and so could use it to hit that airport and the troops guarding it. The US also wants to keep several hundred troops to guard their Embassy but if the Taliban capture the country, I cannot see that being viable at all either.

      1. Arakawa

        Wonder whose embassy they’re going to end up liasing through. Surely not the Swiss like with Iran?

    2. wilroncanada

      Re Pat, above
      One of the usually unacknowledged difficulties of withdrawal is what to do about the thousands of quislings, those who have served the occupation troops and “advisers”. In Trump’s universe, the US forces could just say goodbye, and collect any bribes available to move out the wealthier quislings, That is the way Trump has operated in both his business and his personal life.
      But under this administration, someone has to organize an Afghan Operation Paperclip, and find somewhere to place these “patriots’ quietly, without too many leaks.

      1. Pat

        I get that a principled government would do that, but you apparently have more faith in the Washington regulars than I do. I cannot think of one time we really protected the people who have actively helped us, much less those who just go with the flow. Nor is there anything quiet about the evil Taliban stories.

        Truly I wish I thought concern for allies was what was driving this.

        1. hunkerdown

          The US ability to reliably contract labor for its regime change operations depends on its ability to credibly defend its labor force (and their families) against serious future adverse consequences related to their services. If they didn’t, too few would sign up for these $0.50/hr merc wages. For example, the Xinjiang “human rights” drama can be viewed as a dispute on whether countries have a right to punish or police those who have returned from being indoctrinated, trained and paid by arch national adversaries to commit terrorism in that adversary’s interest; or, whether capitalism is entitled to a “castle doctrine” where committing terrorism to reinforce capitalism (only!) is a human right.

  17. Josef K

    Re the Nieman labs article: I came to a conclusion quite a while ago about positive change, by which I mean change that is clearly beneficial to the world we live in–stopping the clear-cutting of forests, the depletion of the oceans, global warming, etc–when I was actively involved in educating people about such matters, which is that it’s not how much you know, it’s how much you care.
    I think a surfeit of earnest energy goes into the first, while little thought is paid to working on the second, if only because it’s much harder. How do you get people to care about something? That’s the rub.

    1. jsn

      People care, it is the time, resources and institutions through which to act neoliberalism has been systematically depriving people of for the last forty years.

      By dismantling or privatizing state capabilities, people are left with no venue in which to act.

      Rebuilding such venues has now become a necessary first step, but who knows how? And where would the time and money come from? And anyone suggesting it is red baited.

    2. Ben

      Was I the only one chuckling at her ‘driving around’ catastrophizing about climate change?

      1. jsn

        It felt more like pathos to me.

        If we want to step off the insane roller coaster “civilized” life has become, where do we step?

        At 60 I’ve finally earned enough in a lifetime of work to purchase land 100 miles away where, if I can pay down the mortgage quick enough one day I can drop my emissions to near zero with dignity.

        Most people aren’t as fortunate and only collective action offers any hope of sustainability in their futures, futures our betters are entirely indifferent to at best, threatened by at worst. It’s too easy to mock those boxed in by circumstance.

  18. Michael Ismoe

    “Pelosi names Cheney to serve on the select committee investigating the Capitol attack”

    So I guess I’ll be getting fund-raising requests from AOC to drop some coin on the Lady Republican? It’s a small club and we ain’t in it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Pelosi nominated a bunch of party loyalists and time-serving hacks like Clyburn, who are guaranteed to produce whatever flavor of sausage ice cream she wants.

        So somehow AOC not being on the Committee speaks badly of her?

  19. jsn

    So, I guess Klain intends to stuff another 4 trillion or so through in reconciliation.

    Hard to find enough places to plausibly gift that much money without some of it leaking to working people.

    Wonder what he’s got on Manchin. Either that or he knows he’ll lose the midterm and wants that.

  20. Duck1

    Not to impressed by Delong’s broad historical parallel between Maoism and the Trumpism movement. Starting in 1958 what was happening was the Great Leap Forward and significant famine in the country. The Cultural Revolution occurred in the mid-sixties, so nearly 10 years later. Mao’s death was in 1976, where his ambitious wife consolidated power for a while. So this was a 20 year period so faciley used as a template for the Trump phenomenon by the great economist. I can see the morons in the west wing solemnly nodding their heads in agreement with the wise words of Delong.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Holy moley, this comment:

      “The Cycle of life” was premiered to Campbell stockholders during a late December 2018 projection meeting. Keith McLoughlin, Campbell’s interim President and CEO stated, “Umami has captured our brand vision and direction for the future of Campbell. We are very excited to have his art communicate that ‘Real food that matters for life’s moments.'” Campbell net sales Increased 25 percent reflecting impact of recently completed acquisitions and prognosis for the upcoming seasons are expected to rise. – Newsweek Jan 2019

  21. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    Tinkering with a climate system, that is both effectively closed, dominated by non linear phenomena, and one that is responsive to forcings in a non linear fashion will most probably lead to future human caused abrupt tipping points and climate transitions, even before the research has arrived at generally accepted formal conclusions [for eg., https://www.usgs.gov/centers/whcmsc/science/gas-hydrates-climate-and-hydrate-interactions?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects ] .

    The parochial, self interested concerns of the present reality crowd out any future negative possibilities, because there can be “no reason for indignation at what was [or is] done, as at that time there were no other alternatives!” Noting that, both the failure and limitations of human reason are not often critically examined as often as should be the case and the evolution of awareness, individually and collectively, is apparently a very slow process.


    Further, long term consequences in the form of possible, or probable negative spillovers are generally not well received by the dominant and privileged classes of any society, if that means curtailing and/or truncating power, privilege, and their benefits in the present, or even in foreseeable possible futures.


    So, “. . . . it seems clearer every day that the moral problem of our age is concerned with the love of money, with the habitual appeal to the money motive in nine-tenths of the activities of life, with the social approbation of money as the measure of constructive success, and with the social appeal to the hoarding instinct as the foundation of the necessary provision for the family and for the future. A revolution in our ways of thinking and feeling about money may become the growing purpose of contemporary embodiments of the ideal.”

    The metaphorical condemned prisoners on this planet [everyone born on this planet is condemned to die] and their obsessive compulsive short term appetites remain insatiable, even as the signs and symptoms of negative future outcomes become harder to ignore. Prisoners dilemma writ large.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Facebook launches newsletter product Bulletin, its Substack rival”

    It’s a kill zone for good reporting. Remember when The Intercept was set up several years ago and how it was going to be a bastion of excellent reporting? And how they hired Glenn Greenwald and were going to publish all the Snowden papers? People ignored the fact that it was being funded by a billionaire – but they shouldn’t have. And look where it is today.

    So this Bulletin? It will be more of the same. It will try to attract good writers but sooner or later, Facebook’s algorithms will go to work. An article on Palestine? Deleted. An article on how billionaires control the press? Deleted. An article showing a cheap treatment for the Pandemic? Deleted. You know that it will happen. That is why I call it a kill zone for good writing.

  23. Jessica

    “MAGA Maoism” is an unfortunate caricature of Chinese history. Left out is any discussion of the very real issues that the communist and residual elites were grappling with in their way and that the ordinary Chinese were involved with in their way.
    It is also worth noting that a personality cult is not the only way to suppress necessary discussion. Demonizing your opponents to scare your own side into line is another.

  24. Anthony K Wikrent

    Willis Johnson and other squillionaires can rent the military. This is exactly why I advocate replacing liberalism with civic republicanism, which is compelling in its clarity and simplicity: the rich are as much a danger to a republic as a standing army.

    As James Madison wrote in his notes preparing for the Constitutional Convention: “If the minority happen to include all such as possess the skill and habits of military life, & such as possess the great pecuniary resources, one third only may conquer the remaining two thirds.”

    Under liberalism, any individual has the “right” to amass as much property as they can. The rights of the community are decidedly secondary. Under civic republicanism, a properly functioning government breaks up any and all concentrated wealth, precisely because wealth, like power, corrupts, and, as we know too damn well, wealth buys power. Benjamin Franklin observed, “”There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and trebles that want another way.” In laying down “good whig principles,” Franklin recognized the insidious nature of concentrated wealth to corrupt politics, and wrote “the poor man has an equal right, but more need, to have representatives in the Legislature than the rich one.”

    The true purpose of taxation in a republic, therefore, is not to fund the government, but to tax away excess wealth, and maintain a semblance of economic equality among the citizens. Under no circumstance is any citizen to be allowed to become so wealthy that he or she feels they can afford a “donation” that determines the deployment of either state or federal military forces. Or steers the destiny of legislation. Or determines the effect of regulation.

    Clear and simple.

    After all, isn’t that, when you boil it down, what the slavery oligarchy did to drag the country into Civil War? And it’s where the reactionary rich, and their conservative and libertarian movements, are dragging us again.

  25. fumo

    “Almost like.” We’re seven months into the Biden administration, so the public health establishment can’t blame Trump any more. It’s Clinton’s “deplorables” all over again. Write ’em off, say I.

    Making vaccines easily available to every person over 12 years old is not an insignificant achievement, although I’m not sure it’d have played out massively different under a second Trump Administration. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. I think there’s a large segment of the US population who are essentially in a “non-persuadable” state with respect to the Covid vaccines and barring some pretty heavy-handed coercion, we were never likely to have much luck persuading those.

    1. jsn

      “Making vaccines easily available to every person over 12 years old is not an insignificant achievement”

      Where has this been done and how. I may have missed vacation providers visiting essential workers at work, but I’m not aware of significant efforts to reach workers who can’t afford time off or already have to many demands on their time.

      Are there large scale examples?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

      We have enormous industrial complexes in public relations, political strategists, and marketing departments that say otherwise. Perhaps “write ’em off, say I” was not read as irony?

  26. Wukchumni

    Wildfires have had a devastating impact on California over the last four years, and with the state in severe drought, another dangerous fire season looms.

    Fires are burning hotter and growing bigger than ever before. The Castle Fire that raged through Sequoia National Park last year, for example, is estimated to have destroyed at least 10 percent of the world’s giant sequoias – trees that for thousands of years withstood less intense forest fires. California is on pace for another deadly year: In the first six months the Golden State has had more than 3,100 wildfires – and ‘fire season’ usually doesn’t start until late summer.

    Against that grim backdrop, the University of California on June 4 convened a research symposium focused on enhancing the state’s resiliency to wildfire, extreme drought, and climate change. Faculty members and research scientists from across the UC system, with expertise on subjects such as wildfire, climate change, drought, and forest ecology, met in various panel sessions and presentations on wildfire behavior, modeling and visualization, drought impacts, demonstration projects, and other related topics. The goal of the symposium was to inform the public about research-driven, innovative solutions to help address wildfires more quickly and ensure an equitable recovery to one of the biggest challenges facing California.


  27. Wukchumni

    Beechey Island beckons to all those fascinated by the story of Sir John Franklin and his ill-fated crew whose 1845 journey to find the Northwest Passage ended in tragedy and mystery.

    To get to this remote part of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic, you almost certainly need to join an expedition cruise that explores the Northwest Passage. This is where Franklin’s expedition overwintered in 1845-1846 despite relatively little protection and near where he became icebound off King William Island the next year.

    “It’s not necessarily a very mysterious site,” allows Russell Potter, an English professor at Rhode Island College and author of Finding Franklin: The Untold Story of a 165-Year Search. “But it is the most visible physical remains of the Franklin Expedition.”

    The highlight of Beechey Island Sites National Historic Site is a row of four wooden graves with weathered bronze plaques on the rocky shore. Petty Officer John Torrington, Royal Marine Private William Braine, and Able Seaman John Hartnell were all part of Franklin’s crew. A fourth grave confuses people and is that of Thomas Morgan, who died during one of the dozens of expeditions to find out what happened to Franklin’s group.

    We have an interesting connection to Sir John Franklin here in Mineral King, as Franklin Lake is named after his wife: Lady Franklin, who earned accolades for the search for her husband, which encompassed seven expeditions over 25 years.


    1. Judith

      How does the strange NYT editorial about poor inexperienced Kamala fit into this, I wonder.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Until this, I thought it was mostly donors griping, but not pulling this trip is really amateurish, worse than Webb 2006 bad.

        Maybe 2024 is more open than realized especially if she is perceived as a loser now. I’ll never not believe Team Clinton sabotaged Kerry in 2004 to open 2008 except they are so stupid Kerry might have won 40 states with Team Clinton working against them.

  28. Carolinian

    Kunstler on architecture

    It took the human race thousands of years to arrive at these methods for designing buildings, and then add untold refinements to their formulae, which amount to trade secrets—such as entasis, the slight bulging curve of a column that corrects for the visual illusion that a straight column appears concave. This is a mind-boggling level of sophistication when you consider that the ancients arrived at it without any organized science of neurology. This knowledge has been wiped away by a contemporary architectural establishment that generates fantastic levels of psychological distress in people with its alien forms and its pursuit of nothing better than a cruel fashionable novelty: the mythical “cutting edge” that confers status and prestige to those who pretend to dance on it.



    1. JohnB

      I’m playing catch-up a bit with this – there are some really good articles on this – e.g. Jeffrey’s links to paedophile rings:

      Village Magazine is (I would say) the most authentic journalistic outlet – with the closest similarities to Naked Capitalism in independent journalism, in Ireland. It used to be edited by Vincent Browne – arguably one of the most respected (and reviled, by elites) journalists in Ireland.

  29. John Emerson

    Chuck Schumer said that in *2016*, not 2020, and in 2016 the Ds lost MI, PA, and WS by less than 100 000 votes altogether. I did suspect at the time that they were just a little early, because they car close. But that hot is 4 Trump years.

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