2:00PM Water Cooler 7/23/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

“Neural representations of space in the hippocampus of a food-caching bird” [Science]. “Spatial memory in vertebrates requires brain regions homologous to the mammalian hippocampus. Between vertebrate clades, however, these regions are anatomically distinct and appear to produce different spatial patterns of neural activity. We asked whether hippocampal activity is fundamentally different even between distant vertebrates that share a strong dependence on spatial memory. We studied tufted titmice, food-caching birds capable of remembering many concealed food locations. We found mammalian-like neural activity in the titmouse hippocampus, including sharp-wave ripples and anatomically organized place cells. In a non–food-caching bird species, spatial firing was less informative and was exhibited by fewer neurons. These findings suggest that hippocampal circuit mechanisms are similar between birds and mammals, but that the resulting patterns of activity may vary quantitatively with species-specific ethological needs.” • Maybe birds don’t need thumbs….

* * *


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….

Vaccination by region:

Case count by United States regions:

The non-triumphalist black line of today’s new normal is now well above the peak of the first wave, back in early 2020. (Note that these numbers are if anything understated, since the CDC does not collect breakthrough infections unless they involve hospitalization, and encourages health administrators in the states and localities not to collect the data either.) We should know the impact of travel and all the family gatherings by July 4 + 14 call it July 21 or so. And of course summer camp, Bible School, etc. NOTE: That was yesterday. I’m perfectly happy to call the beginning of a new wave (the fifth?), even if we don’t know how high it will go. So far, the country is dodging a bullet — so far — in terms of hospitalization (up slightly) and death ((no longer going down, but not spiking either). I don’t know why that is. (Long Covid is another matter.)’

“The Delta Variant Will Drive A Steep Rise In U.S. COVID Deaths, A New Model Shows” [National Public Radio]. “The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. — fueled by the highly contagious delta variant — will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now. That’s according to new projections released Wednesday from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, a consortium of researchers working in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help the agency track the course of the pandemic…. ‘What’s going on in the country with the virus is matching our most pessimistic scenarios,’ says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina who helps run the modeling hub. “We might be seeing synergistic effects of people becoming less cautious in addition to the impacts of the delta variant. ‘I think it’s a big call for caution,’ he adds. The group’s latest projections combine ten different mathematical models from various academic teams to create an ‘ensemble’ projection. It offers four scenarios for its projections — varying based on what percent of the population gets vaccinated and how quickly the delta variant spreads. In the most likely scenario, Lessler says, the U.S. reaches only 70% vaccination among eligible Americans, and the delta variant is 60% more transmissible. In that scenario, at the peak in mid-October, there would be around 60,000 cases and around 850 deaths each day, Lessler says.” • Well, that’s a year before the midterms, so no problem.

Lambert here: That estimate seems very optimistic to me. At day -365, last year, our July peak was 70, 575. We are at 55,058 now, with no sign of decrease, and no reason — given travel, slow vax uptake, demasking, Delta — to think the summer peak is near. So to think the cases would grow only by 5,000 or so between now and mid-October, doesn’t seem right. Here is Scenario Modeling Hub pages, and here is a screen shot of the scenarios:

I’m juggling with power tools here (plus I hate models), so perhaps I misunderstand, either Lessler or the scenarios. Reader comments very welcome.

Covid cases top ten states: for the last four weeks (hat tip, alert reader Lou Anton):

I don’t like those flat Florida numbers. I wonder if there’s a data problem. Meanwhile, California challenges for the lead.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report July 20 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

More red. Last release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better. This chart updates Tuesdays and Fridays, presumbly by end-of-day.)

Test positivity:

South running away with the field. But other regions now playing catch-up.

Hospitalization (CDC):

I do not like the increase in 65+ hospitalization.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths flatten after increasing.

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up.

* * *


“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

“‘Deadly serious’: Pelosi goes to war with GOP over Jan. 6” [Politico]. “And as much as some in her party might want to move on from Trump, the speaker has made overseeing an investigation of the deadliest attack on the Capitol in two centuries into a core mission this year — putting her squarely in the path of the former president who Democrats say played a central role in the insurrection. Her GOP opponents are warning that Pelosi’s close involvement in the select committee on Jan. 6 exposes its efforts to politicization and failure. But the California Democrat and her allies insist it’s the best way to prevent a repeat of the deadly day when thousands of rioters stormed the Capitol bent on overturning a democratic election and threatened to kill members of Congress. ‘They wanted to kill her. They were hunting her,’ Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said. ‘I don’t think this is a political calculation at all. You’re talking about the greatest assault on our democracy in over 100 years.'” • Really? Smedley Butler might have something to say about that.

Biden Administration

“Hunter Biden expected to meet with potential art buyers before anonymous sales” [CBS]. “Hunter Biden’s appearance at the shows, where he’ll presumably socialize with potential buyers, is seemingly at odds with an agreement struck with the gallery owner that aims to keep buyers’ identities secret from Biden, President Biden, the White House, and the public.” • Oh, Hunter. You loveble scamp!

“Democrats’ Divide on Voting Rights Widens as Biden Faces Pressure” [New York Times]. “Some advocates found this approach — the idea that the vaunted voter registration, education and get-out-the-vote efforts that helped propel Mr. Biden to victory could be used against G.O.P. voting laws — naïve at best, signaling that the White House viewed the issue as simply an election challenge, rather than a moral threat to broad civil rights progress. ‘The notion that some new coalition can be formed that would allow for greater efforts at organizing and voter turnout is perhaps a bit unrealistic,’ said Wade Henderson, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. ‘We have already formed one of the most diverse and strongest coalitions in support of voting rights that ever existed. At the end of the day, that is inadequate to the challenge of the moment. We need federal legislation.'”

UPDATE “Does the Biden Administration Really Think It Can ‘Out-Organize’ Voter Suppression?” [Vanity Fair]. “There is a certain amount of political realism to this tack: The John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act can’t pass with the filibuster in place, and even if Biden were to come around on abolishing it, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema say there’s no circumstance in which they would. Returning to a talking filibuster or lowering the bar from 60 votes to 55 could be possible, but such changes may not be enough to stop Republicans, whose political prospects depend on the very voter suppression efforts the bills are meant to prevent. “I would talk till I fell over,” Lindsey Graham said in March, suggesting that even making the filibuster more difficult to deploy wouldn’t keep Republicans from doing so. To the White House, it might make more sense to direct their efforts where they have a better chance of succeeding. Democrats turned out a record number of voters for Biden in 2020, even with the obstacles to access that already existed and a raging pandemic. Surely they could do it again — right?” • Butchering the pandemic over the summer won’t help. In the political class, the liberal Democrats have managed to pin the mediocre achievements of Biden’s vaccination program on the Republicans, but out in the biomass, people know that’s just not true. At a minimum, it won’t help turnout. Even in their own terms: Is preserving the filibuster better than allowing Jim Crow 2.0? Apparently, Biden thinks. (Of course, the NGOs behind this current round of whinging will be plentifully funded, so it’s not allCNBC]. “In an interview Thursday on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box,’ Brady, the top GOP member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Republicans ‘want to close the tax gap.’ But he said the president’s proposal and similar legislation introduced in Congress aimed at beefing up IRS enforcement is flawed. ‘This proposal is based on an unfounded issue, which is ‘what is the tax gap?’” he said. ‘The IRS will admit their data is 7 years old. They’re guessing about crypto currencies and foreign transactions. What they’re saying is give us a ton of money, let’s hire a bunch of auditors and we think this will create revenue. But we’ve seen already one of the problems is, it’s not going to create that revenue.’ Instead, Brady proposed a ‘thorough analysis’ of the tax gap and what’s causing it. ‘Then together let’s direct the solutions to the problem.'”

Democrats en Deshabille

UPDATE “The DCCC’s Top Bundler Is an Oil Lobbyist” [Brick House].

Republican Funhouse

The math:

Of course, at some level, this is how we want democracy to work…

Our Famously Free Press

“How To Handle The Press” [Current Affairs]. “Bernie is a broken record, and the record in question is usually some mix of the Greatest Hits on the list he brought to his meeting with Dowd. But you can see why this actually makes Sanders a very effective communicator. He is always on message, always trying to make sure the press has to talk about what he wants them to talk about. With Maureen Dowd, that’s difficult; she has built her brand on ‘frivolous’ topics and light cruelty. But instead of declining to meet with her, he had lunch and simply wouldn’t stop talking about the issues he wanted to talk about. In doing so, he forced her to write a column about his refusal to stray from those issues. It’s not the column she would have written if he’d asked her what questions she had and simply answered each one. It is an exercise in manipulating a journalist to successful effect.” • Sanders is relentlessly on message. This is something the left could learn from.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Trailer: Whatever happened to Medicare-for-all?” [WaPo]. • FWIW, I remember the debate a decade or so ago about branding. “Single payer” was seen as too technical, not inspiring; “Medicare for All” was seen as easy-to-understand, and making the benefit clear to voters. I think in retrospect, the “Medicare for All” advocates were wrong, because when actual voters encounter Medicare, it’s complicated and not always that great. Start with the fact that all the “single payer” proposals would blow away copays and deductible by making treatment free at the point of care. “Medicare for All” sounds like a reform of the existing system, and hence liberal Democrats were able to play their familiar games with brand confusion. I don’t think a march will solve any of this.

This Will End With President Tucker Carlson The Atlantic

Survivors of California’s forced sterilizations: ‘It’s like my life wasn’t worth anything’ Guardian (JBird4049).

The COVID Delta Variant Is Creating Pandemonium in Washington Vanity Fair

The Decade’s Biggest Political Deadline Walker Bragman, The Daily Poster

Stats Watch

Coincident Indicators: “June 2021 Coincident Indices Generally Show Strong Growth” [Econintersect]. “The year-over-year rate of growth of the majority of coincident indices slowed or was little changed relative to last month…. The reality is that most of the economic indicators have moderate to significant backward revision – and this month they are generally showing strong growth.”

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 17 July 2021 – Year-over-Year Growth Slowing As It Is Being Compared To The Improving Conditions One Year Ago” [Econintersect]. “Week 28 of 2021 shows the same week total rail traffic (from the same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data.”

* * *

Retail: “U.S. agency approves three airport security agreements with Amazon.com Air unit” [Reuters]. “A U.S. agency said on Thursday it is permitting three airports to enter into security agreements with Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Amazon Air unit that will allow the company to assume some security functions and facilitate Amazon’s rapid planned hiring at the airports…. A U.S. agency said on Thursday it is permitting three airports to enter into security agreements with Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Amazon Air unit that will allow the company to assume some security functions and facilitate Amazon’s rapid planned hiring at the airports.” • Sounds like Boeing and the FAA, pre-737MAX debacle.

Tech: “Google pushed a one-character typo to production, bricking Chrome OS devices” [Ars Technica]. “Google says it has fixed a major Chrome OS bug that locked users out of their devices. Google’s bulletin says that Chrome OS version 91.0.4472.165, which was briefly available this week, renders users unable to log in to their devices, essentially bricking them. Chrome OS automatically downloads updates and switches to the new version after a reboot, so users who reboot their devices are suddenly locked out them. The go-to advice while this broken update is out there is to not reboot. The bulletin says that a new build, version 91.0.4472.167, is rolling out now to fix the issue, but it could take a “few days” to hit everyone. Users affected by the bad update can either wait for the device to update again or “powerwash” their device—meaning wipe all the local data—to get logged in.”

Tech: “Google is starting to tell you how it found Search results” [Reuters]. “[P]eople googling queries will now be able to click into details such as how their result matched certain search terms, in order to better decide if the information is relevant. Google has been making changes to give users more context about the results its search engine provides. Earlier this year it introduced panels to tell users about the sources of the information they are seeing. It has also started warning users when a topic is rapidly evolving and search results might not be reliable.” • Maybe start by explaining why my first results page is full of ads. And why the rest of the results are full of dupes. In any case, what’s interesting is what is not returned. Particularly when I’m 100% certain that what i’m searching for exists.

Tech: “Everyone cites that ‘bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production’ research, but the study might not even exist” [The Register]. “”Software research is a train wreck,” says Hillel Wayne, a Chicago-based software consultant who specialises in formal methods, instancing the received wisdom that bugs are way more expensive to fix once software is deployed. Wayne did some research, noting that ‘if you Google ‘cost of a software bug’ you will get tons of articles that say ‘bugs found in requirements are 100x cheaper than bugs found in implementations.’ They all use this chart from the ‘IBM Systems Sciences Institute’… There’s one tiny problem with the IBM Systems Sciences Institute study: it doesn’t exist.’ Laurent Bossavit, an Agile methodology expert and technical advisor at software consultancy CodeWorks in Paris, has dedicated some time to this matter, and has a post on GitHub called ‘Degrees of intellectual dishonesty‘.” • All the way down…

Tech: “The lethality of algorithms.” [The Scrum]. “Perhaps the “fourth branch of government” now needs to be put in its place. There are growing calls for government regulation of social media companies, if not outright conversion of these companies into public utilities. The problem with this strategy is that much of the censorship we are currently seeing is at the behest of the government as it arm-twists Silicon Valley and then disingenuously claims there is no official censorship in our republic. Perhaps the solution is to address the underlying material causes (such as income inequality and deindustrialization) behind the political polarization inside the U.S. instead of binding the citizenry in algorithmic chains.”


“Exclusive: ProtonMail wades into U.S. antitrust war” [Axios]. “Proton Technologies, a Swiss company that provides fully encrypted email services, argues that privacy is an antitrust issue in a new post Thursday that throws its support behind the House Judiciary Committee’s tech antitrust bills. Proton argues that if it could compete on a level playing field with Google for email services, consumers would be more likely to choose its privacy-focused app over Google’s ad-supported offerings. ‘Essentially, they control the whole ecosystem,’ Proton policy counsel Jurgita Miseviciute told Axios. ‘For startups, especially privacy-focused companies, it’s very, very difficult to compete when there are conditions like that.’ At the top of Proton’s list of grievances is the 30% commission Apple collects on subscriptions sold through its App Store, with Google planning to enforce the same fee.” • 30%? Robber barons would be proud!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 23 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 23 at 2:29pm.

Rapture Ready


“Are We Living in an MMT World? Not Yet” [Bloomberg]. “Scott Fullwiler, an MMT economist and professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, says the Covid-19 crisis has shot down one common argument against deficit spending (used by Democrats to oppose former President Donald Trump’s tax cuts): that it risks leaving the government short of funds, so that ‘in the next crisis you might not be able to respond…’ Nevertheless, he expects mainstream economics will characterize the aggressive use of fiscal policy in the pandemic as a ‘special case’—indispensable in emergencies but inappropriate in normal times. ‘It’s sort of two steps forward, one step back,’ Fullwiler says. There was some evidence for that in Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s July 15 testimony to Congress. Although Powell endorsed deficit spending during the Covid crisis, he told lawmakers it’s not sustainable in the long run because ‘the laws of gravity have not been repealed.'” • The laws of gravity…. I don’t have time to dig out the quote, but I think Shevel had something to say about that in LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. Commentary:

The Biosphere

“Rocky Mountain Flowers: The Daring Life and Art of Pioneering Plant Ecologist Edith Clements” [Brain Pickings]. “Two centuries after the young self-taught botanist and artist Elizabeth Blackwell painted her astonishing encyclopedia of medicinal plants and as a century after the young Emily Dickinson composed her delicate herbarium of native New England wildflowers, the young Edith Clements began collecting, classifying, photographing, and painting 533 plant specimens from the mountains of Colorado for a meticulously annotated herbarium, completed in 1903 and followed by a second volume in 1904.” • For example:

Health Care

“Experts Criticize Philly Schools for $4.5M Air Purifiers” [GovTech]. “Philadelphia school officials are planning to consult with more air quality scientists after meeting Monday with an expert critical of the district’s $4.5 million purchase of NASA-originated air purifier technology. The expert, a Drexel professor, said the purifiers were ineffective at reducing the spread of coronavirus and had the potential to create harmful chemicals. Preparing to welcome students in-person for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, district officials last week touted the multimillion dollar investment in air purifiers advertised to rid both air and surfaces of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The devices have already been purchased and will be installed in every classroom by the end of July, a district spokesperson said. But following the school district’s announcement, several experts questioned the purifiers’ effectiveness and safety. They included Michael Waring — professor of indoor air quality and department head of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering at Drexel University — who met with School District Chief Operating Officer Reggie McNeil on Monday. According to a spokesperson, the district used federal funding to purchase more than 9,500 devices for its 200-plus buildings. They use ActivePure Technology, which, according to its website, protects against the coronavirus by pulling free oxygen and water molecules through a ‘patented honeycomb matrix’ that oxidizes molecules that are then released back into a room to neutralize viruses.” • Oh. A honeycomb matrix. Oh. Why do I think the contract was filtered through a steak dinner?

The Agony Column

“Those Who Share a Roof Share Emotions” [The Atlantic]. “Emotional contagion isn’t all negative. In 2008, researchers used decades of data from a Massachusetts community to find that happiness is highly contagious. Specifically, living within a mile of a friend who becomes happy makes you 25 percent likelier to become happy too. Emotions of all kinds have long been found to jump between people through a number of mechanisms. The most obvious is conversation, in which we transmit and take on the emotions of others through facial expressions, vocal tone, and posture. You probably have found that when you interact with certain people, you laugh more than normal; with others, you complain a lot. We can also ‘catch’ others’ emotions physiologically, at least in part. In one experiment, people who inhaled a disgusting smell and those who merely observed a video clip of a person with a disgusted expression had activation in the same parts of the brain. Similar results have been found in the experience of pain—your brain can sense it simply by seeing someone else who is hurting.” • Not sure what digital distancing is doing to this, but I don’t think it can be good. I learned a new phrase the kidz use: “Touch grass.”

Groves of Academe

“The Trillion-Dollar Lie” [Matt Taibbi, TK News (GF)]. Excerpt, but still good. “What did [the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005] say, exactly? For years, it was believed that it absolutely closed the door on bankruptcy for whole classes of borrowers, and one in particular: students. Nearly fifteen years after the bill’s passage, journalists were still using language like, ‘The bill made it completely impossible to discharge student loan debt.’ Even I did this, writing multiple features about student loans stressing their absolute non-dischargeability. In 2017, I interviewed a 68 year-old named Veronica Martish who filed for personal bankruptcy — as I put it, ‘not to get free of student loans, of course, since bankruptcy protection isn’t available for students’ — and described her being chased by collectors to her deathbed. ‘By the time I die, I will probably pay over $200,000 toward an $8000 loan,’ she said. ‘They chase you until you’re old, like me. They never stop. Ever.’ I got it wrong. Beginning in the 2010s, judges all over the U.S. began handing down decisions in cases… that revealed lenders had essentially tricked the public into not asking basic questions, like: What is a ‘student loan’? Is it anything a lender calls a student loan? Is a school anything a lender calls a school? Is a student anyone who takes a class? Can lenders loan as much as they want, or can they only lend as much as school actually costs? And so on.” • Very reminiscent of the foreclosure crisis. And kudos to Taibbi for saying “I got it wrong.” We don’t hear a lot of that, and we ought to.

Zeitgeist Watch

Life’s little ironies:

Class Warfare

“New Topeka Frito-Lay Contract Offer Ends “Suicide Shifts”—But Keeps Forced Overtime” [The Flashpoint]. “A Frito-Lay company amendment to its contract with union workers at a Topeka plant would end so-called ‘suicide shifts’ while still leaving the door open to forcing overtime six days a week. One staffer, who is on strike, told me that the new language means the company can still force employees into mandatory overtime six days a week at 12 hours a day. ‘This one is only six days a week but they can still force you 12s the six days,’ the staffer told me…. Workers have been on strike for weeks and will vote tomorrow on a new contract. The company’s amendment to end the suicide shifts is welcomed but the fine print leaves a lot to be desired.”

“Washing for Dignity and Safety on the Job: Workers in the NJ Retail Laundromat Industry” [ILR Worker Institute]. “Despite being deemed essential during the COVID-19 crisis, laundry workers in New Jersey remain largely invisible, unprotected from violations of their basic human and labor rights, and excluded from pandemic economic relief. During the fall 2020, the Laundry Workers Center started surveying workers at the retail laundromat industry across New Jersey. Laundry workers face customer aggression, discrimination, unsafe working conditions, and much more…. Workers that were interviewed state that “there are days where I can’t find 15 minutes to rest. I don’t get a break and they only pay me 9 dollars per hour for over 45 hours without any overtime pay.” Others are ‘scared to get sick because of all the risks I am exposed to. Different people enter every day, and my employers only provide one facemask each week. I have to buy them in order to be ok.'” • Worth reading in full. New Jersey is, of course, solidly Blue.

“D.C. renters’ lawsuit is a blueprint for tenant organizing” [Reuters]. “The lawsuit alleges that landlords waged a years-long obstruction campaign against tenants who formed a union to protest deteriorating housing conditions and that the city police department aided property owners in illegally suppressing tenants’ rights. ‘They wouldn’t rely on police to actually maintain safety, but they would call the police on tenants who were organizing or approached them about issues in the building,’ Tara Maxwell, president of the Park 7 Tenant Union and a resident of Park 7 Apartments, told me. The group claims problems at the complex include water leaks, mold, pest infestation and insufficient security. The complex previously reached a settlement with the city attorney general to refund nearly half a million dollars to tenants who were improperly charged for water use that was falsely marketed as included in rent, according to an August 2020 report by the Washington City Paper. Representatives of Donatelli Management didn’t respond to questions and requests for comment.” • In a more perfect world, san culottes would exist in the District of Columbia. That world would be very different from this world….

“The week in US unions, July 15-22, 2021” [Who Gets the Bird?]. • An enormous (and telegraphic) roundup. Lots of activity, most of it in the 10s and 100s. Surely a lot of learning and building going on.

News of the Wired

“Can a $110 Million Helmet Unlock the Secrets of the Mind?” [Bloomberg]. No. ““To make progress on all the fronts that we need to as a society, we have to bring the brain online,” says Bryan Johnson, who’s spent more than five years and raised about $110 million—half of it his own money—to develop the helmets….. Johnson is the chief executive officer of Kernel, a startup that’s trying to build and sell thousands, or even millions, of lightweight, relatively inexpensive helmets that have the oomph and precision needed for what neuroscientists, computer scientists, and electrical engineers have been trying to do for years: peer through the human skull outside of university or government labs. In what must be some kind of record for rejection, 228 investors passed on Johnson’s sales pitch, and the CEO, who made a fortune from his previous company in the payments industry, almost zeroed out his bank account last year to keep Kernel running.” • Oh good. Another squillionaire with a bright idea.

Quite the histogram:

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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 (AM):

AM writes: “I am a beekeeper in the great black Swamp/Maumee river valley region of NW Ohio and we have been catching a lot of swarms lately. Thanks for everything y’all do, since finding Naked Capitalism i use it almost exclusively for my daily news.”

And after catching the swarm:

We are busy bees!

* * *

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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. diptherio

    Well this isn’t great.

    Philadelphia school district to install new air purifiers despite concerns from air quality specialist

    The district purchased more than 9,500 air purifiers for $4.5 million and plans to install them by the end of the month, Lewis said. She said the district used the same purifiers in some classrooms during the spring’s hybrid learning.

    Waring said he’s “deeply disappointed” that the district is sticking with the products.

    The purifiers purchased by the district use ActivePure technology, which neutralizes viruses by pulling oxygen and water molecules into a “patented honeycomb matrix” and releasing “powerful oxidizers” back into the room, according to its website. District officials said at last week’s press conference that the technology was “originally developed for NASA” and could eliminate 99% of the virus “within three minutes.”


    1. diptherio

      Btw, I posted this in the brief interegnum between WC getting posted and the links showing up. Maybe I should be a little more patient next time.

    2. Grumpy Engineer

      I just went to the ActivePure website to read up on the technology. It reads like classic technobabble snake-oil.

      My key objection? Nowhere does the website describe WHAT those “powerful oxidizers” are (i.e., what’s the actual chemical formula?) or HOW they can aggressively attack the organic materials that comprise various pathogens without simultaneously attacking the highly similar organic materials that comprise our lungs.

      [Hmmm… I read elsewhere that the main emission from an ActivePure system is hydrogen peroxide vapor.] From the Wikipedia article on H2O2:

      According to U.S. NIOSH, the immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) limit is only 75 ppm. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established a permissible exposure limit of 1.0 ppm calculated as an 8-hour time-weighted average (29 CFR 1910.1000, Table Z-1). Hydrogen peroxide also has been classified by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) as a “known animal carcinogen, with unknown relevance on humans”.

      Breathing this all day every day? This sounds like a terrible idea.

    3. PHLDenizen

      Another teachable moment lost to procurement by grifters.

      You have math and science teachers. You have students. You can buy box fans, HVAC filters, and flex duct in bulk. Same with basic hand tools, zip ties, duct tape, laser measuring devices. Have the students measure the classrooms, cobble these things together, and set up a guerilla ventilation system. Basic math and physics.

      A useful civics and education project. Saving minds and saving lives.

      No way would that ever fly in the PSD, but it’s a worthy dream.

  2. allan

    “I don’t like those flat Florida numbers. I wonder if there’s a data problem. ”

    This isn’t a data problem. It’s a governor problem.
    Since June 4, FL covid stats have been only issued weekly.
    Pro tip: by taking windowed backward averages, exponential growth is made to appear slower.

      1. Adam

        Worldometer has been gone and provided daily Florida numbers recently, so I’m not sure what is up there (and also, the numbers they are reported are horrible including over 13,000 today and a spiking death count).

    1. R

      We had a barbecue with some fascinating retirees here in Fermanagh (they used to run a seaweed farm in Vancouver among other things but have returned to the husband’s ancestral farm).

      They have had four queens this year. They split the existing hives and took them in nuques (nooks? nukes? nucs?) at least three miles away from the old hive for a week or two and then brought them back. The separation period stops them recombining. They had similar success last year so they now have nine hives!

      The barbecue was this fantastic Viking tripod over a juniper wood fire. Apparently these tripods are all the rage in Canada. Plus an experimental barbecue the owner was testing out made from a wheel hub. Dinner was venison sausages with their own potatoes and salads, their own redcurrant jelly, their own pressed apply juice to drink and, for pudding, their own organic strawberries. They used to have their own cream but these days the farmer they share farm with sells it all to an ice cream company so we had the ice cream.

  3. hemeantwell

    Dowd’s interview with Sanders was indeed interesting, and I couldn’t agree more about relentlessly staying on message. You could tell that she was at least a little irritated but that she realized that trying to make much of it would expose her as trivia-mongering. Sanders demands that his version of the times, not the Times, should set the tone and focus.

    1. zagonostra

      Staying on “message” may be laudable, failing to fight to the finish and compromising on the contents of those messages, is not.

      1. Geo

        “failing to fight to the finish and compromising on the contents of those messages”

        How has he done this? He’s still fighting for these issues and his compromises have been due to power imbalances against his favor. Yes, he makes compromises when his only other option is getting nothing. That’s still progress. Without him we’d have no progress at all.

        1. Aumua

          There are plenty of criticisms that can be leveled at Bernie around how he basically threw the primary election, but… after what happened in SC with Obama and the clown car of candidates all turning on him and the media against him I don’t know what difference it would have made for him to complain and keep fighting. It just would have been used against him to take him out of politics completely probably. Sure it would have mollified us supporters, but how much good did complaining about unfair treatment do Trump? I think Trump’s behavior around the election results turned a lot of people against him who were marginally supportive of him before that.

          American politics is broken beyond repair, and the American people are stupid and deserve what we get. Bernie’s not capable of fixing any of that.

          1. tegnost

            add that the wisconsin election was in person so lives would have been lost.
            Bernie is a mensch, and he even did something for us today with the dowd interview, and more before that…
            We don’t need another martyr.

    1. Isotope_C14

      Hope that Hillary kiss of death gets Nina the slot, but doesn’t Ohio have those black box voting machines?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Plus a lot of middle-aged and elderly Black Church voters. Who will vote the way that Clyburn and Obama tell them to vote.

  4. Carolinian

    Re Chromebooks–I use one every day but it boots to Linux and completely bypasses the still installed Chrome operating system. One big reason for this is so that I don’t have to sign into Google before going on the web. So I have a great piece of hardware that (probably) isn’t a spybot.

    One should say though that you can use your Chromebook without signing in by going to “guest” mode that still puts up a Chrome browser. So those owners weren’t completely stuck while they waited for a fix.

    1. Old Sarum

      Which Linux distribution do you have on your Chromebook? Can you connect a USB CD/DVD drive?

      I use Puppy Slacko 64bit, mostly on old laptops. It all loads into RAM and I get fast Youtube.


      1. Carolinian

        There’s something called Galliumos that can be dual booted depending on which Intel motherboard you have. It won’t work with ARM Chromebooks and maybe not with newer versions. They give a guide on their website.

        And there are at least a couple of flavors of Linux that can be run from within Chrome. I believe one can work from that guest account and doesn’t require a login.

        You can also wipe out Chrome Os altogether but this requires opening up the laptop and removing a write protect screw.

        I use Gallium and of course with Linux, once installed, it can be turned into any other version. It supports any kind of drive but things like built in sound may depend on your brand of Chromebook. You can also boot it as a live usb.

  5. flora

    Thanks for Taibbi’s abridged article about the financial games of higher ed loans. The longer article asks some piercing questions: are uni’s still non-profit educational institutions or are they devolved into crude money making schemes, how exactly is the current student loan program any different from the housing subprime loan – complete with debt-obligation bond trances sold to investors? etc. Great article.

    1. CloverBee

      A great article… my favorite part “As long as it’s collateralized at Navient, they can borrow against that,” Smith says. “They say, ‘Look, we’ve got $3 billion in assets, which are just consumer loans in negative amortization that are not being repaid, but are being artificially kept out of default so Navient can borrow against that from other banks.

      My brother asked me the other day if forgiving student loans would cause inflation (I know, I know)… so based on that quote it seems to me that not forgiving student loans leads to printing money via loans against student debt assets. Conclusion of the article:

      “It’s just obvious that this has become a printing money operation,” says Grabis. “The colleges charge whatever they want, then they go to the government and continuously increase the size of the loans.” If you’re on the inside, that’s a beautiful thing. What about for everyone else?

      The critical bit about winning discharge of those living expenses loans is something I will absolutely pass on to friends and family in the future.

      What method of discharge do members of the commentariat favor for the student loan crisis?

      There are two ways of approaching reform of the system. One is the Bernie Sanders route, which would involve debt forgiveness and free higher education. A market-based approach meanwhile dreams of reintroducing discipline into student lending; if students could default, schools couldn’t endlessly raise costs on the back of unlimited government-backed credit.

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        What method of discharge do members of the commentariat favor for the student loan crisis?

        I’m pretty certain that most of the NC commentariat would prefer free higher education, but I suspect it’ll be too difficult to implement. One key question is this: How much would the feds actually pay? Whatever the colleges wanted to charge? I’m pretty sure the Republicans would (rightly) barf over this. $60k per year (like the WSJ recently described at Columbia University for MFA programs)? That still seems like an awful lot. $15k per year (which is still more than many regions spend for primary and secondary education)? That’d be more fair, but a lot of colleges would promptly implode if their revenue streams were cut that severely.

        And then there are other questions: Are there limits on how long you can stretch out an education, i.e., will the feds fund the 5-, 6-, or 7+ year bachelors? Can you go back to school later in life if you want to pursue a second career? [Many countries that have free college have very limited seating. You only get to go once. If you don’t finish in 4 years, you get the boot. And if you don’t do well on your entrance exams, you don’t get to go to college. Ever.]

        In my opinion, we should add lending standards, e.g., don’t issue the loan if the probability of full repayment in less than 10 years after graduation is less than 95%. The Department of Education has crap-loads of historical data on repayments, and they could be very fine-grained about lending decisions. Not just on loan size and how well the college does, but how well the individual academic department does. Maybe even how well the student’s intra-departmental class rank percentile does.

        On the other hand, I must note that such an approach would be rather mercenary and would force students into marketable programs. While I think some emphasis on this is a good idea, I don’t think we want college to be strictly about the earnings potential.

        So perhaps a hybrid program would be best. Each student could receive up to $10k per year (for up to 5 years) obligation-free, and then could apply for strictly-regulated loans for programs that were more costly but more marketable.

    2. Pelham

      Yes, Taibbi had two great topics in that piece: What is a student loan and what is a university? The latter subject was maybe the more revealing.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        “… what is a university?”

        Living in Greenwich Village, the nearest specimen is NYU, which tells me that a university is a real estate development corporation with a post K-12 subsidiary. Uptown, Colombia is likewise, with a hedge fund (if not on a Harvard/Yale level) attached.

        The Naked Capitalism readership and commentariat could easily come up with their local equivalents.

        1. 430MLK

          Yup. The University of Kentucky is a hospital, professional basketball team and real estate operation with some classrooms attached. The city of Lexington even gave them tax increment financing to develop their business incubator “Coldstream” development at the edge of town.

  6. dcblogger

    “The lawsuit alleges that landlords waged a years-long obstruction campaign against tenants who formed a union to protest deteriorating housing conditions and that the city police department aided property owners in illegally suppressing tenants’ rights. ‘They wouldn’t rely on police to actually maintain safety, but they would call the police on tenants who were organizing or approached them about issues in the building,’ Tara Maxwell, president of the Park 7 Tenant Union and a resident of Park 7 Apartments, told me. The group claims problems at the complex include water leaks, mold, pest infestation and insufficient security.

    Park 7 is a new building, apprx 10 years old. clearly shoddy construction and zero maintenance.

  7. JBird4049

    In the twitter art stream this painting Office in a Small City, 1953 by Edward Hopper reminds me of my last job. Good company and job, but man, it was painful looking out my office window and seeing a beautiful day…

    1. jr

      I’ve always found watching sports mind numbing but the Olympics really took the gold. As a kid I had to watch them because “Olympics!” As a young adult, I saw them for the scam they are. But now, given the state of the world, I think they are an abject abomination.

  8. Socal Rhino

    Re: whether we are currently dodging a Covid bullet

    One data point: a hospital in Orange County CA at which three of my neighbors work. As of last Friday, I heard, the hospital was jammed full with new Covid cases. Consistent with the frequency of ambulance sirens I’m hearing. Wishing speedy recoveries to all but will note that mortality has always followed hospitalizations on a lag of a couple of weeks.

    1. Lee

      The degree of separation between our household and Covid cases has recently narrowed in our highly vaccinated SF bay area. Now, several people well known to or related to people whom we know have been exposed, come down with, or in one instance have been killed by Covid. The death was the unvaccinated 88 year old grandfather of a family friend. Another case is a young man, also unvaccinated, who is married to my son’s employer’s daughter. A whole family of another batch of our in-laws, also unvaccinated and whom we never liked anyway, got sick with less than life threatening symptoms.

      But by all means, follow the current CDC and OSHA guidelines

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      That was “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore more” combined with the humor one makes when the alternative is usually violent. I wish the best for him and his fellow workers.

  9. Knucklehead Pete

    Life’s little ironies:

    “We conclude that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally generated public health costs of as much as $12.2 billion.”

    Hoo boy.

  10. McWatt

    Matt Taibbi’s article on student loans is a fantastic example of great writing and fine tuned humor.

  11. zagonostra

    >‘I don’t think this is a political calculation at all. You’re talking about the greatest assault on our democracy in over 100 years.

    It hasn’t really penetrated the public mind, allowing that there is such an entity, that “our democracy” has been gone for quite some time. Whatever you want to call the current political structure/regime that governs the U.S., monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, plutocracy, corporatocracy, etc, it is not a democracy.

    Can you say it is a republic? Let me look it up: google definition – “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.” No, sorry can’t call it a republic. Whatever happened to the notion of a mixed/blended gov’t? The House does not reflect the will of the people, so no, we don’t have a blended gov’t either. When you need millions to run for office and the MSM controls what the public hears and reads for the most part, you’re not going to get that balance between the three branches. It was a good idea though, and it may even operated during small sections of our history.

    So posture all you want on how 1/6 was this or that, it’s all shadows on the wall. Smedley Butler was a rare bird that loosened some of those chained people looking at those shadows.

    1. Lee

      Maybe the closest thing we had to Caesar crossing the Rubicon was George Washington crossing the Delaware. In which case, we have never had a true republic but more of a plutocratic imperial project where the people get to vote on a preselected set of slaveholders and/or capitalist functionaries.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The Articles of Confederation Republic was considered a true Republic, I think. Just not a very strong or coherent one.

        People forget there ever even was an Articles of Confederation United States of America for a few years before it adopted the Constitution it has now.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Apparently the Republican Party fears there is still enough “democracy” at the vote-casting level that they want to stop it and then reduce it with their various voter suppression laws. If several million black citizen-voters agree with this assessment, does the “too cool for school” intellectual left gain any power for itself by sneering at the “protect our voting rights” concerns of the Mainstream Black Community?

      If it does, then by all means keep sneering about no democracy left anyway, so therefor tell BlackAmerica to stop crying about voter suppression bills by Republican officeholders at various levels. And see how Black America receives that free advice.

    3. Old Sarum

      I hate to say it (because I used to believe the propaganda), but nowadays I prefer:


      Pip pip!

      nb I hate clowns.

  12. Grant

    “Deadly serious’: Pelosi goes to war with GOP”

    Not over the most deadly, inefficient and inhumane healthcare system in the developed world. She agrees with them more than single payer advocates. Not over economic policy, as she agrees with them more than the left on almost everything. She uses the DCCC to go after the left every primary. Not over really getting serious about the environmental crisis. She is so far short of what is needed that she may as well be a denialist. No, she goes to war over that, and of course isn’t interested in really thinking about the societal conditions that produced Trump, because that would require her to critically analyze all the things she supports and opposes. She has enriched herself in office, is openly corrupt, does insider trading openly and has a horrific impact on races across the country because she is the perfect microcosm of everything regular people hate about politicians in 2021. Shahid Buttar, the left should make his campaign central as far as any electoral push. Him beating her would be monumental.

    I also think the left not fully embracing MMT is a huge mistake. It really does put front and center the core reality, which is that there is nothing that forces those at the federal level to spend on this or that. They can spend on what they want to. The spending is a reflection of priority, ideology and corruption. If they choose to spend on war but not a national healthcare system, it is a choice. If they don’t put in place the structural changes we need to deal with the environmental crisis, and we have the resources to do so, it is a choice. It would get people to really think about who exactly they are giving power to, and it would eliminate all the excuses. They don’t spend on stuff to address structural issues because of corruption, ideology and class reasons. As far as single payer goes, I think Bernie may talk about “funding it” as he does (which is basically just a discussion on how it could be done in a relatively revenue neutral way) because taxes would drive home the universality of the program. People would feel a buy in to the system. Maybe I am wrong. Baffled though that he doesn’t address MMT head on, given that he was so close to Kelton and decided to hire her. Wanna bet he discusses it more after leaving office?

    1. JohnnyGL

      It’s becoming ever clearer how important it is, now that exxon mobil’s anti-infrastructure bill talking points have come out and the main thrust of it is insisting that the bill be ‘paid for’ and that congressional reps should attack the ‘pay fors’ that are applied!

      AOC knew this, of course, once upon a time. When she said what is really needed isn’t a plan to ‘pay for’ it, but simply the policial will and courage to do what is right. Where’s that AOC, now????

      1. Carla

        AOC is where they all go. If our dearest wish (this month) is granted, and Nina Turner joins Congress, she will go there, too.

        Dennis Kucinich has been touting his new book, “The Division of Light and Power,” pointing out that people don’t change politics; politics changes people. His excellency being the sole exception, of course.

        Well… after a ride on Airforce One, M4A Dennis voted for Obamacare back in the day. I remember, Dennis…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How do you know that Obama didn’t quietly threaten to kill Kucinich’s wife and daughters if Kucinich didn’t vote for Obamacare? How do you know what the extortionate pressures on Kucinich really were?

          If someone wants to get elected to office on the premise that they are a real changer-arounder of things, they should get their family members’ full consent to risk assassination first before running for that office, so that the wannabe-reformer can not be pressured and extorted by threats to assassinate his family, because his family will have already accepted the threat and the risk as part of their potential sacrifice for their country.

  13. CloverBee

    On sharing emotions … I have found that the best part of working at home is that I am not subject to the emotional contagion of the office environment. No matter the strength of my headphones, I could never escape “feeling” the way those around me did. One person having a bad day in my cubicle row? I could not shake the physical feeling even if I was having an objectively great day. This emotional contagion was a huge drain on my productivity, and I am glad that this WFH thing is long term for my newest position.

    Followed the Touch Grass link. I love this saying, and will be incorporating it into my daily vocabulary.

    1. Lee

      What, you want a workplace that is not an arena for cathartic abreaction? Better get a job where you have to pay attention to what your hands are doing or you might lose a finger or a hand. Such work has a wonderful clarifying effect on the mind that blocks out the overwrought vagaries of our beady brains. Alas, this will probably involve a pay cut.

  14. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” It’s wild that GOP elites did a 180 on vaccines and everyone just assumes it was due to donor pressure or fear that too many of their voters would die and it would cost them the midterms.

    There isn’t really a plausible case they’re motivated by preventing Americans from dying.”

    You are correct. There really isn’t a plausible case. There really isn’t any case at all. That’s because the RepublicaNazi FascisTrumpanon Party does not care. It really truly does not.

    As to RepublicaNazi FascisTrumpanon collaborators Sinema and Manchin, they should be destroyed in their next primaries and/or elections. The young Sanderistas and the young Voting Rights Warriors should make a special point of that. If Synemanchin can be destroyed, it will give heart to people pursuing the goal of destroying every pro-Republican Democrat wherever it exists.

    Purge and burn, baby.
    Purge and burn.

    1. Carolinian

      So then what are you going to do about the pro Democrat Democrats?

      As for this 180, I live in about as Republican state as it gets and can’t recall any of our politicians coming out against vaccines. As Lambert points out up above, the crash vaccine program was done under Trump.

      Back in 2000 people made a big deal out of Ralph Nader and said if only he’d stayed out everything would have been different. But it was Al Gore’s fault that the race was that close just as it’s Pelosi and Schumer’s fault that the current Congress is close enough for Manchin to matter. It’s the Democrats who are holding us back, not Manchin or the GOP. If Manchin did not exist they’d have to invent him.

      1. Lee

        Al Gore lost his home state. I’m assuming all the Clinton lies and shenanigan’s caught up with him. Maybe Kamala will some day provide a repeat performance. I wonder if she would even survive a primary.

        1. dcblogger

          You do Gore and injustice. Tennessee was stolen via Choice Point Data crosscheck voter purge, as was documented by Greg Palast at the time.

      2. Jason

        It’s certainly always the Democrats’ fault that the races are so close. And if Nader or anyone else wants to run, of course they can. But it’s sometimes taken to the point of saying that Nader essentially didn’t have anything to do with Gore’s loss, which is absurd. Chris Hedges seems to push this meme, among others.

        William Domhoff did a nice breakdown of Nader’s history and how it relates to that election. He also makes a good argument on the futility of third parties in this country. It’s built into the system.

        Domhoff said of Nader:

        “He left many of his followers confused or disillusioned, while at the same time hardening the moralistic sense of superiority of the handful who remain loyal to his causes.”

        I love that line. Reminds me of Chris Hedges.

        Something similar will happen to the People’s Party and the players around that, as the left further divides itself and the right hardens.


        I don’t think the Democratic Party can be transformed either. Not good. But then somethin’s gotta give, right?

        1. Carolinian

          Ross Perot won a huge percentage only a few years before 2000. IMO the way to change the Dems is by threatening their duopoly or by replacing them altogether. They way they’ve treated Sanders suggests how they will continue to treat insurgents unless threatened from outside, not inside.

          Nader justified himself at the time by saying “there’s not a dime’s worth of difference” between the Dems and Repubs and that was only a slight exaggeration then–after the triangulating Clinton–and only a slight exaggeration now. Heck Upton Sinclair said practically the same thing decades earlier.

          Perhaps we need a Parliamentary system now that the country is so atomized.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            But Nader knew there was a dime’s worth of difference between Gore and Bush. He also knew there was a dime’s worth of difference between Smarmy Joe and Evil Dick. So Nader was lying ( consciously saying something he knew to be false) when he said it, just like the professional politicians he affected to disapprove of.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the Sanderbackers can destroy Sinema and Manchin and purge them and burn them out of public life, they will be heartened to think they can do it to other Depublicrats. Step by step, they can exterminate DemParty careers and public lives and work their way up the poisoned food chain till they are able to exterminate Pelosi and Schumer ( and all the Pelosis and Schumers) from office.

        If they are not then powerful enough to replant the freed-up ground with Sandercrats, they can at least keep defeating every Clintobamacrat that runs for every office.

        A purge-and-burn has to start somewhere, and Sinemanchin seems like a good easy-to-hate-and-despise place to start.

        1. neo-realist

          The Nina Turner race in OH. Defeat a Clinton/Clyburnista, and add on more and build an army rather than a “squad.”

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, yes. That is the hope. And destroying the choice of Clintobama Clyburnites everywhere in the Ohio race would give heart to the Sanderistas.

      4. Louis

        Manchin represents a state that is heavily rural and voted for Trump by the highest margin of any state–a Democrat who can be competitive in a state like that is not going to be the big-city progressive type.

    2. Lee

      Picked this factoid up yesterday in a responding comment at Daily Kos after reposting the tweet posted here regarding low vaccination rates among the heavily Democratic African Americans: “And the best fully-vaccinated county in IL is the traditional center of Republicanism.” I believe the reference is to DuPage county.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      And the Democrats care about preventing Americans from dying? Aside from advocating getting a shot from one of their big pharma donors, which as we are learning is no guarantee of protection, I am not seeing any evidence the Dems care more about the general public than the Repubs.

    4. Massinissa

      “RepublicaNazi FascisTrumpanon”

      You seem to be falling into TDS here Drumlin. And you use this accusation at a time when the Dems are tripping over themselves. Yes, they’re the worse party, at least when compared together, at least to some extent. No, that doesn’t make them and there 49% voting base deplorable ‘Nazi Fascists’ now. You start losing the argument when you start throwing out terms like that.

      1. CoryP

        Honestly couldn’t tell if that was just weirdly-executed sarcasm. Poe’s Law and whatnot.

      2. Phillip Cross

        “People are rarely persuaded by being told they are i̶d̶i̶o̶t̶s̶ “RepublicaNazi FascisTrumpanons”, even when they are.”

  15. Eloined

    Removing filler whilst preserving the syntax: “thousands of rioters … threatened to kill members of Congress,” reports Politico.

    Just a thought: It’s a funny time to read the news as (1) the command of grammar among even mainstream journos plainly deteriorates, and (2) their inclination to advocacy (i.e. to twist the facts) is surging. I would guess many are somewhat self-aware of their uncertainty over how to string a sentence together properly, but rather than resolve it, treat it as a convenient source of ambiguity to advance their advocacy.

    1. Lee

      The liberal elitist oligarchs are having their brains scrambled by the antics of the faux-populist oligarchs. I suppose one really should take such things seriously, but it is at times difficult to do so.

      1. Eloined

        And vice-versa, round and round.

        Maybe the things we should take seriously but don’t are those we’ve already grieved and accepted — excepting blissful ignorance.

  16. Amfortas the hippie

    re: the Scrum:
    i had to go and read Part 1 first: https://thescrum.substack.com/p/saints-and-sinners
    Heresthetics is a new word for me.
    but it turns out that i’ve been aware of the tactic(s)/strategies for a long while.
    ancient oratory and philosophy is filled with such things.
    still, good to see it laid out so clearly for contemporary usage/diagnosis.
    pretty chilling, when i thought about it to town and back.
    how do we compete with all that?

  17. a fax machine

    re: Amazon airport security

    It would be heinous if the next 9/11 was committed by terrorists hired on as independently contracted pilots for Amazon Air. Also suppose that said pilots could work with their dispatcher and loadmaster to ensure their plane is both full of hazardous, extremely flammable materials like batteries and dispatched from a location at/near Washington during a big event there like an inauguration or SOTU address.

    ..it’s not that far out there. Until ISIS was (temporarily) suppressed, they used freight trucks to run people over. Tim McVeigh used a rental truck. Then there’s the Fedex Flight 705, which was an unsuccessful hijacking. And as with before, it would only take several ATC software errors (say, spawned by an ATC privatization scheme) to have everything fly out of control very quickly.

    (apologizes for the blog post, but I wanted to call it in case it does happen decades from now)

  18. Michael Ismoe

    So when the Biden Administration covid death toll matches the Trump Administration death toll, does Fauci automatically become president?

  19. Thistlebreath

    RE: case count by US regions chart–

    I may be sighting the Madonna in a rock formation but as a casual DJI chart watcher, sure looks to me like a classic “head and shoulders” pattern.

    In market terms, often that = “look out” for either a breakout to the up or downside. In this case, I’d buy some calls on “up.” Maybe pile on some related options, too.

    Here in Ciudad Los Angeles, things are looking grim. I’ve passed on using ride share rides after learning ~80% of my drivers aren’t vaccinated.

    PS here’s how the bookmakers see what’s next: https://smarkets.com/current-affairs/covid-19

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    I had thought I was properly informed into thinking that Manchin was one of the key Filibuster Retentionists in the DemParty OfficeHolder Pantheon. Breaking information indicates I may be wrong. It may be the Biden itself which is determined to retain the Filibuster.


    If this is true, then it is Biden specifically who opposes voting rights preservation. Biden. Strom Thurmond’s friend. Got that?

    Thank you Obama and thank you Clyburn for helping to make Biden President.

  21. Tom Stone

    Deadly insurrection?

    One dead as a direct result of the Riot.
    Ashli Babbit, shot by an incompetent Cop with a history of irresponsible behavior.
    This was an aimless mob with no clear idea of what they were doing, as incoherent as Trump on a bad day.
    ONE person with real command presence could have cleared that hallway in moments using nothing but their their voice and posture.
    My late Grandmother Fuller could have done it easily, and those idiots would have left the place cleaner than when they arrived.

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