2:00PM Water Cooler 7/8/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I was constantly interrupted by real world demands writing this Water Cooler, so I will be adding more material shortly. –lambert UPDATE All done, though not so shortly.

Bird Song of the Day

A duet!

* * *


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:

Oof. And the curves aren’t down because there’s nobody left to vaccinate, either.

Case count by United States regions:

Oof. Now a definite upward trend We should know the impact of travel and all the family gatherings round the BBQ shortly.

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). Be 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 South (as defined by the US Census: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia):

Florida, capital of Latin America, pulling away from Texas, good job.

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

California chasing Texas, now.

Test positivity:

South bounces back.

Hospitalization (CDC):

No bad news yet.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

No bad news yet.

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

“FBI seized ‘fully constructed’ US Capitol Lego set from home of alleged rioter” [The Hill]. • Oh.

“Intel Officials Warned of Hate Groups Using Ashli Babbitt to Incite Terrorism Days After Capitol Siege” [Gizmodo]. “‘Wink-and-nod white supremacists like Trump and Gosar are echoing their openly white supremacist peers,’ said Ryan Shapiro, executive director of Property of the People, ‘highlighting Babbitt’s death to distract from the plain fact that Babbitt and hundreds of others attempted a deadly fascist coup provoked by Trump himself.'” • With the radio stations seized… The military standing by…. The telegrams prepared for world leaders… What a coup does not look like is a bunch of gun-less sad-sack co-splayers taking selfies of each other and selling looted items on eBay. 1/6 is not Battleship Potemkin stuff. And 1/6 looks nothing like any of the many regime change operations the United States has sponsored from the 1980s onward: Poland (1980–1989), El Salvador (1980–1992), Chad (1981–1982), Nicaragua (1981–1990), Grenada (1983), Panama (1989–1994), Iraq (1991), Haiti (1991), Iraq (1992–1996), Haiti (1994–1995), Zaire (1996–1997), Indonesia (1997–1998), Yugoslavia (2000), Iraq (2003–2011), Haiti (2004), Palestinian territories (2006–2007), Syria (2005–2017), Iran (2007), Honduras (2009), and Libya (2011). Everybody who is anybody in Washington, DC knows what a coup looks like, because they’ve sponsored a ton of them and organized many. So how come they keep insulting our intelligence with the word?

Biden Administration

“Biden readies order to rein in worker non-compete clauses and make switching jobs easier” [CNBC]. “President Joe Biden will issue a forthcoming executive order that calls on the Federal Trade Commission to adopt rules to curtail worker non-compete agreements, part of a broader set of executive actions aimed at increasing competition in the marketplace. The order is expected to be signed and released in the coming days, and it will fulfill Biden’s ‘campaign promise to promote competition in labor markets,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. In a related action, Biden will call on the FTC to ban ‘unnecessary” occupational licensing requirements, Psaki said. ‘While occupational licensing can serve important health and safety concerns, unnecessary or overly burdensome licensing can lock people out of jobs,’ she added. Biden will also encourage the FTC and the Department of Justice to work together to limit employers’ rights to share worker pay information in ways that could negatively impact workers looking for better-paying jobs. The text of the orders has not been released, but their long-term effectiveness will depend upon whether the regulators who write the rules make them capable of surviving legal challenges and of actually forcing change in the marketplace.” • This is not legislation, mind you. Stoller comments:

“Work better” is not the same as “work” or “work for.” One can drown in six inches of water just as much as six feet. For example, whatever happened to card check?

Democrats en Deshabille

“Pelosi husband won big on Alphabet stock” [The Hill]. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) husband gained nearly $5 million on a trade of stocks in Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and also added bets to Amazon and Apple ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s vote last month to advance five antitrust bills targeting major tech giants. According to a recently released financial disclosure report signed by the Democratic leader on July 2, Paul Pelosi, who owns a real estate and venture capital investment firm, exercised 40 call options to gain 4,000 shares of Alphabet at a strike price of $1,200. Paul Pelosi gained $4.8 million from the trade, which has since risen to $5.3 million, Bloomberg reported. The transaction, dated June 18, followed previous actions in May purchasing 20 call options for Amazon with a strike price of $3,000 and acquiring 50 call options for Apple with a strike price of $100, the disclosure report noted. The options, which have a June 2022 expiration date, suggest that Paul Pelosi expects Amazon and Apple to continue their gains. ” • She’s gonna need a bigger fridge.

Republican Funhouse

“Trump-allied GOP chairs turn on fellow Republicans” [The Hill]. “State Republican Party chairs who have bought into former President Trump’s lies of widespread election malfeasance are turning their fire on fellow Republicans who have acknowledged the reality of Trump’s defeat, in a turn that has longtime party leaders and strategists worried about the future of the conservative coalition. For most of modern political history, a state party chair’s role has been confined to raising money and building an organization that can contact voters and elect candidates. Their job is much more often to promote those who win primaries than to wade in on behalf of a specific contender during those primaries. But in the age of Trump, some party leaders are as eager to talk about the perceived turncoats within their own ranks as they are to go after the opposition party.”

“DeSantis risks Trump backlash as his star rises” [The Hill]. “‘As a DeSantis supporter, I worry that he may peak too early,’ GOP donor Dan Eberhart, who backed DeSantis in his 2018 gubernatorial bid before Trump’s endorsement made him the primary favorite, told The Hill. ‘I think that these things are incredibly important in trying to thread the needle to become president,’ Eberhart added. ‘So DeSantis has got to win reelection in 2022 — that’s a must — and he’s got to continue to court favor with the Sean Hannity crowd, and build his chits in the party, but he’s got to do all this without angering Trump specifically or Trump’s base and the other bigwigs in the party. And I think it’s really hard to stay on top of that beach ball for too long.'” • There’s also the question of how DeSantis does in a national campaign. I thought Scott Walker would do well nationally because he beat up the Wisconsin Democrats and took their candy, and who doesn’t like that, but it turned out he was as dull as stump on the national stage.

Trump Legacy

“Trump’s Social Media Lawsuits Feature A Mashup Of Arguments Courts Have Already Rejected” [Buzzfeed]. “On Wednesday, Trump filed lawsuits against each company, joined by co-plaintiffs who claimed they were also banned from posting or had their content — largely posts about the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines, and mask-wearing rules — demonetized, removed, or flagged as misleading. Each case raises the same two core claims: that the social media giants were operating as a ‘state actor’ and had violated the First Amendment when they restricted certain speech, and that the federal law that immunizes these companies against being sued for how they moderate content, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, was itself unconstitutional.” • Neither claim is prima facie absurd, and I find the first one fascinating, since Trump is claiming that the United States has merged corporations and the State, which is one definition (not mine) of a fascist regime. I certainly didn’t have that on my Bingo card!

2020 Nostalgia

What a great election that was:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Could a School-Board Fight Over Critical Race Theory Help Turn Virginia Red?” [Politico]. “Across the country, critical race theory—a legal/academic framework Republicans have conflated to define all race and gender-based equity work in public schools—is shaping fights in a number of suburban jurisdictions. School boards in Maine and Pennsylvania faced similar conflicts. Florida’s state board of education banned the teaching of critical race theory in its public schools. The push against critical race theory is animating one of the largest nationwide school board recall efforts in history since the birth of the Tea Party last decade, according to Ballotpedia, which has been tracking them since 2006. It’s the latest skirmish between cultural conservatives and progressives duking it out over the future of the country. But what’s happening in Virginia suggests there are hard political goals at play, too: Education, an otherwise sleepy campaign issue, has long animated Virginia politics, as the commonwealth is home to the nation’s top public-school districts. Republican operatives—some of whom are also parents—are using it as a tool to drive a wide enough wedge in vote-rich Northern counties, to push a blue-leaning state back into tossup territory….. On the surface, Loudoun County, located less than 50 miles from the nation’s capital, looks like any suburban town, complete with strip malls and rolling hills. But with a median household income of $142,299, it tops the list of the nation’s wealthiest counties.” • Every explanation I’ve ever read of “critical race theory” by conservatives reads like something scribbled down during a fever. At the same time, I have little sympathy for “progressives” (liberals) who use race to erase class. I mean, $142,299 is the median? Really? Lady Bountiful never had it so good!

UPDATE “Fetterman raises more than $2.5M in second quarter” [The Hill]. “Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) raised more than $2.5 million for his Senate bid in the second quarter, his campaign announced Thursday morning. Fetterman’s haul was fueled by more than 91,300 donations, with more than 31,000 of those being first-time donors. The figure brings his total fundraising to more than $6.5 million since his campaign launch in February. Ninety-nine percent of the donations were under $200…. The race for Toomey’s Senate seat is considered a marquee contest in the 2022 midterm as both Democrats and Republicans fight for control of the currently 50-50 Senate.” • I’m inclined to like Fetterman. Can Pennsylvania readers comment?

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “373K people claimed for unemployment benefits in the latest week, above market forecasts of 350K and slightly higher than an upwardly revised 371K in the previous week signaling the labour market recovery remains far from complete. Still, with the initial claims remaining almost double the 200K level before the coronavirus pandemic hit, employers have been complaining about the struggle to fill open positions, citing ongoing labor shortages due to enhanced benefits, concerns about contracting COVID-19 and finding childcare.”

* * *

Banking: “Wells Fargo tells customers it’s shuttering all personal lines of credit” [CNBC]. “Wells Fargo is ending a popular consumer lending product, angering some of its customers, CNBC has learned. The bank is shutting down all existing personal lines of credit in coming weeks and no longer offers the product, according to customer letters reviewed by CNBC…. The revolving credit lines, which typically let users borrow $3,000 to $100,000, were pitched as a way to consolidate higher-interest credit card debt, pay for home renovations or avoid overdraft fees on linked checking accounts…. With its latest move, Wells Fargo warned customers that the account closures ‘may have an impact on your credit score,’ according to a frequently asked questions segment of the letter. Another part of the FAQ asserted that the account closures couldn’t be reviewed or reversed: ‘We apologize for the inconvenience this Line of Credit closure will cause,’ the bank said. ‘The account closure is final.’… The move is a strange one given the banking industry’s need to boost loan growth.”

Shipping: Yikes:

Shipping: “The Biden administration is targeting ocean shipping and railroads in a push to confront consolidation and anticompetitive pricing in the freight sector. The White House plans to issue a sweeping executive order calling on the Federal Maritime Commission and the Surface Transportation Board to act against what the administration says are actions that make it onerously expensive for American companies to transport goods” [Wall Street Journal]. “The administration believes the relatively small number of major players in the container shipping trade and in the U.S. freight rail business has enabled companies to charge unreasonable fees. The call for a crackdown is one part of a multi-pronged executive order that aims to blunt big business while introducing more competition in areas across the economy.” • Stoller comments:

Shipping: “The Ever Given is sailing back into commercial operations more than three months after the container ship knocked global supply chains sideways. The Evergreen Marine vessel was on its way from the Suez Canal to Egypt’s Port Said for a seaworthiness check before heading to the ports of Rotterdam and Felixstowe… ending a monthslong saga that began when the ship got stuck in the critical trade passageway in March” [Wall Street Journal]. “The ship’s departure follows a deal said to call for about $200 million in compensation. Evergreen’s cargo customers are closer to getting their shipments but the legal complications aren’t necessarily over for some. The container line suggested in announcing the agreement with Egyptian authorities last month that some customers haven’t provided a security bond under the declaration of general average that requires that shippers pay for a share of the recovery cost.” • So… When the Evergiven sails back to Asia, does it go through the Suez Canal again?

The Bezzle: “Crypto Scammers Rip Off Billions as Pump-and-Dump Schemes Go Digital” [Bloomberg]. “In Scorsese’s cinematic bender of sex, drugs and stocks [ Wolf of Wall Street], it’s called the pump and dump. In today’s cryptocurrencies, it’s known as the rug pull. Maxamus thinks he got rug-pulled the other month in some sketchy digital token called — wait for it — Safe Heaven. Like countless dreamers in today’s memeified markets, he’s been gambling $50 here, $100 there on what are known as Shit Coins, obscure digital something-or-others being minted by the thousands. This stuff makes Bitcoin look good as gold. One moment, Safe Heaven was flying. The next, it was crashing. Maxamus (that’s his online persona. His real name is Glenn Titus), can’t prove anything. But he suspects what, in retrospect, seems forehead-slappingly obvious: some small-time hustler created Safe Heaven with a few deft keystrokes, hyped the hell out of it — and promptly cashed out. Telegram, a popular instant messaging app that’s become a major crypto boiler room, immediately fell silent. The Safe Heaven Telegram group, once thronging with rocket emojis and Elon Musk GIFs, was deleted. The Safe Heaven Twitter account hasn’t been updated since May 28. ‘Everybody I know has gotten rug-pulled,’ says Titus, a 38-year-old butcher in Salem, Oregon. ‘You know, you win some, you lose some. Hopefully, win more than lose.'” • Seems frothy.

The Bezzle: “Former employees shed light on sophisticated double-brokering network” [Freight Waves]. • Here is an explanation of double-brokering. As far as the freight market goes, this seems frothy, too. Of course, a building wave throws off froth too, as well as a breaking one.

The Bezzle: “Uber, Lyft created ride-hailing shortage: Gig economy expert” [Yahoo Finance!]. “Workers are leaving ride-hailing jobs, creating a severe labor shortage in the gig economy. Many of the problems leading up to this shortage were created by Lyft and Uber themselves, Aquent CEO John Chuang said Tuesday. ‘One, [ride-sharing companies] have very low wages,’ Chuang said. ‘And they are very undesirable jobs. Now that we have 7 million less employed workers in America right now, you know, the first jobs to go are the undesirable jobs. And unfortunately, their jobs are undesirable.’ Chuang identified the jobs’ lack of benefits and low wages as significant drawbacks to ride-hailing employment opportunities. Workers in this market do not have a Social Security net to fall back on, Chuang said, making ride-sharing a much riskier living than traditional jobs. ‘And so workers are voting with their feet,’ he said. ‘And they’re leaving these gig economy jobs.'”

Consolidation: “Google sued by states alleging Play Store fees violate antitrust law” [Yahoo News!]. “The case, brought in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is one of dozens of lawsuits that Google’s parent company Alphabet is facing in a wave of actions around the globe challenging tiers of its dominant markets. In the complaint, the states accuse Google of illegally operating monopolies in the market for Android app distribution by imposing technical barriers that prevent third parties from distributing apps outside the Play Store. According to the complaint, Google controls 99% of the “licensable” market…. To stifle competition, the states allege, Google uses contracts to prevent original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from circumventing the technical barriers, and to block competing app stores from distribution on the Play Store. The states also say Google unlawfully ties advertising to the Google Play store, and shares monopoly profits with OEMs to disincentive competing app stores from entering the market. The attorneys general are asking for monetary damages, and for the court to impose other remedies to stop Google’s allegedly anticompetitive conduct.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 7 at 2:00pm.

Health Care

“‘Too good to be true’: Doubts swirl around trial that saw 77% reduction in COVID-19 mortality” [Science]. “It would be the best news by far in COVID-19 treatment: According to a preprint published on 22 June, an experimental prostate cancer drug named proxalutamide reduced deaths in hospitalized COVID-19 patients by 77% in a clinical trial in Brazil…. But many scientists are wary. Alleged irregularities in the clinical trial have reportedly triggered an investigation by a national research ethics commission in Brazil. Top medical journals have rejected a paper about the study, and its main author, Flavio Cadegiani, an endocrinologist at the biotech company Applied Biology, has previously touted unproven COVID-19 medications, such as ivermectin, azithromycin, and antiworm compounds as COVID-19 therapies. And to many, the claims simply seem implausible…. ‘These results are too good to be true,’ says Eric Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research Translational Institute…. Other clinical trials may soon provide additional data. Kintor is currently recruiting male, nonhospitalized patients in California for a U.S. phase 3 trial of proxalutamide. Cadegiani says his colleagues in Brazil hope to soon test bicalutamide, a similar U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved androgen receptor blocker to see whether it produces comparable results. Separate clinical trials of bicalutamide are ongoing at the University of Florida and Johns Hopkins University. Swedish researchers are testing a similar drug called enzalutamide. And Rettig says his team is now conducting an interim analysis of trial results on degarelix, another antiandrogen. For now, most researchers are waiting to see what, if anything, is real in the seemingly improbable results from the heart of the Amazon.”

The Biosphere


“EVE Online Facing Second ‘Summer of Rage’ Fan Outcry” [Kotaku]. “On top of the scarcity patches, roughly one year ago, one of the largest wars in EVE’s history began. The war has raged hot for nearly a year, causing destruction on a scale that is unheard of in EVE’s 18 year history, further diminishing the resource stockpiles of players and driving the cost of the vessels players need to fight in the war through the roof. Outside of the financial toll the war has taken on player wallets, the mental stress of the conflict also seems to be building in players on all sides. War in EVE is one of the most interesting things the game has to offer, and probably one of the more realistic simulations of massive real life campaigns available in the virtual realm. Each side needs competent generals, massive supply chains, and most importantly, players to fight in battles that can last for hours across all time zones multiple days a week. Over time, these things take a measurable toll on people who are just trying to play a game to have some fun and blow off steam. With something close to half of the game’s active playerbase involved in the conflict, it’s easy to understand how the situation could create some tension among players. Further compounding the stress of war and waning pocketbooks are the latest changes to the already complex industry system. Almost all spaceships and the ammunition and equipment for those ships are produced by players. Resources must be harvested, transported, and combined to create the ships, and when those ships die in battle, they are gone forever. Over the course of the war, those ships have been dying by the thousands. Since the changes implemented in the last few months, the production chains, cost, and complexity of crafting most ships in EVE have become more complex and expensive, leading to a further burnout of already overtaxed industry players.” • Do we have any EVE players in the readership?

Police State Watch

UPDATE “You’ve Got To Keep the Death Machine Churning” [Eoin Higgins, The Flashpoint]. “Execution by nitrogen gas—a technically legal method of execution that’s never been put into practice—is part of what’s becoming a pattern around the country. Faced with a shortage of chemicals for lethal injection due primarily to the bad press for companies involved in the practice, states are turning to other means to keep the death machine churning.”

Guillotine Watch

“The Billionaire Playbook: How Sports Owners Use Their Teams to Avoid Millions in Taxes” [ProPublica]. “These revelations are part of what ProPublica has unearthed in a trove of tax information for the wealthiest Americans. ProPublica has already revealed that billionaires are paying shockingly little to the government by avoiding the types of income that can be taxed. The records also show how some of the richest people on the planet use their membership in the exclusive club of pro sports team owners to further lower their tax bills. The records upend conventional wisdom about how taxation works in America. Billionaire owners are consistently paying lower tax rates than their millionaire players — and often lower even than the rates paid by the workers who staff their stadiums. The massive reductions on personal tax bills that owners glean from their teams come on top of the much-criticized subsidies the teams get from local governments for new stadiums and further deplete federal coffers that fund everything from the military to medical research to food stamps and other safety net programs.”

UPDATE “No, billionaires won’t “escape” to space while the world burns” [Salon]. “[W]hen you understand the science, it becomes clear that the “billionaire space race” is just that—nothing more than a pissing contest between egotistical robber barons. Branson and Bezos aren’t investing their money to forward science or expand the bounds of human possibility. They’re doing it to be the first rich guy to bounce around uselessly up there, as opposed to NASA astronauts who, again, do science. And after they bounce around uselessly, they’re hoping to swindle more of their obscenely rich friends into doing the same. The pointlessness of it all is especially despicable when you understand that space tourism is funded with the hoarded wealth of billions of workers who are struggling to survive here on Earth. The space tourism industry will be built with the profits off supply chains that work people to death-by-exhaustion, literally enslave people, and are rapidly destroying the future habitability of our planet. That’s a pretty bleak dystopia. We should really consider taking our wealth back from billionaires before they build it.” • That’s a little more pointed than the Twitter thread by this author on the same topic.

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Opinion: Is it time to limit personal wealth?” [WaPo]. “Instead of debating tweaks at the edges of our tax system, what we should be doing is stretching ourselves to imagine a world where this dissonance is truly incomprehensible — a world where billionaires are impossible. Doing so would require a revised conception of what is good and what is fair, an approach focused less on what is “allowed” and more on what is “enough.” Does that sound far-fetched? Such a philosophy already exists. It’s called limitarianism. As the director of the Fair Limits Project at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, philosopher Ingrid Robeyns argues that it is not morally permissible to have “more resources than are needed to fully flourish in life.” Just as there is a poverty line under which we agree that no one should fall, limitarianism holds that one can construct a “wealth line” over which no one should rise, and that the world would be better off for it. Limitarian thought doesn’t depend on a specific number. The crucial point is to debate not where the line can be drawn, but whether it makes sense.” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

I have no good reason to put this here today except that I think it’s very funny:

UPDATE Suckers, liars, get me a shovel:

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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 (EU):

EU writes: “What’s interesting is the dilapidated growing medium.” Sounds like my dentist!

* * *

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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. antidlc


    Dallas County reaches herd immunity even as new COVID cases continue to hold steady, experts say

    The Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, which has tracked COVID-19 data for the county, said herd immunity was reached with nearly half the population having contracted the coronavirus.

    I guess they have declared victory.

    1. Laura in So Cal

      On California COVID Cases. My workplace just reported it’s first COVID-19 case since April 2021. We had a smattering of reported cases in late Spring 2020 and a huge surge in Nov/Dec/Jan that tapered down to another smattering of cases in Feb/March/April 2021. We don’t do routine testing in my workplace, so this new case was probably an individual who had symptoms and got tested. I have no idea if they are vaccinated or not or what “variant” they have.

    2. Mikel

      Everybody having temporary anti-bodies at different times.
      But all will be ineeffective just in time for the start of the fall semester for schools.
      Clown world….

    3. thoughtful person

      Immunity from past infections didn’t work out well for Manaus, Brazil

  2. Clemente

    Wells Fargo; ‘We apologize for the inconvenience this Line of Credit closure will cause,’ the bank said. ‘The account closure is final.’… The move is a strange one given the banking industry’s need to boost loan growth.”

    BidenHarris Depression dead ahead.

    Although they are evil, they are not stupid and know what’s coming.

    1. Lou Anton

      Not sure how big of a deal this really is. From the NY Fed’s quarterly debt and credit report (landing page & report):

      Balances on home equity lines of credit (HELOC) saw a $14 billion decline, the 17th consecutive decrease since 2016Q4, bringing the outstanding balance to $335 billion. Credit card balances declined in the first quarter, by $49 billion, a substantial drop and the second largest quarterly decline seen since the series began in 1999. Credit card balances are $157 billion lower than they had been at the end of 2019, consistent with both paydowns among borrowers and reduced consumption opportunities.

      HELOCs have been going out of style for a while (see slide 3 in report), and it’s mostly people who are 50+ (slide 25; and a surprising number of people ages 70+ who still have one).

      As for the line of credit that comes from credit card debt consolidation, maybe 2020 made that one unviable too. People paid down a lot of debt.

      Wouldn’t surprise me to see a few of the other big banks follow suit.

    2. Questa Nota

      Wells HELOC action interpretations:
      1. They are preparing for SHTF
      2. They have priors for screwing up and screwing customers
      3. Negative interest rates on the horizon scare them
      4. All of the above?

  3. dcblogger

    Education, an otherwise sleepy campaign issue, has long animated Virginia politics, as the commonwealth is home to the nation’s top public-school districts. Republican operatives—some of whom are also parents—are using it as a tool to drive a wide enough wedge in vote-rich Northern counties, to push a blue-leaning state back into tossup territory….. On the surface, Loudoun County, located less than 50 miles from the nation’s capital, looks like any suburban town, complete with strip malls and rolling hills. But with a median household income of $142,299, it tops the list of the nation’s wealthiest counties.”

    I will believe it when I see it. Loundon County is one of the few places in the country where local Democrats have an excellent team of precinct captains. Back on 2005 Republicans in Herndon (in Fairfax County) tried to use the immigration issue as a wedge, it backfired when voters chose a Democratic town council composed mostly of immigrants. In Prince William County Carnival Barker Delegate Bob Marshall tried to make an issue of banning transgenders from using public bathrooms, voters responding by replacing him with a transgender woman who promised to do something about transportation and traffic jams. Loundon County has a very large Afghan American and South Asian immigrant population. Most of them are naturalized. While Critical Race Theory is not aimed at them specifically I suspect they will regard any effort to ban teaching about it as coming from people who are not their friends. School board elections are not until 2023 so Loundon County Democrats will have plenty of time to counter this nonsense.

    1. PHLDenizen

      The “nonsense” is CRT and its ilk, which have been tossed into a nonsense bin called “Successor Ideology” by Wesley Yang. It’s an umbrella term for extermination of teaching classics, cancel culture, intersectional grievance Olympics, deliberate erasure of intent in the context of *-isms, segregation a la Madison West High School’s “affinity spaces”, invasive species like “whiteness” de-programming at work and in teaching institutions, and dozens more too numerous to list.

      It’s nonsense to paper over class-based power differentials and structural inequality with rainbows, “whiteness is unforgivable”, ascriptive identity totems, victim sloganeering, and all the other garbage that the 10% sprinkle on the ground to trip the 90% — the latter having “access” to treatment for such injuries and the “privilege” of having their meager assets liquidated by the debt vultures. Liberals love this strategy as it barricades them from guilt, blinds them with reality distortion, and serves as “evidence” that the way society is structured is perfectly fine. After all, their material needs are accommodated with no struggle on their part.

      I’ll agree that Republicans have a talent for fscking political opportunity after political opportunity up. Then again, so do Dems. But, as a class, Dems tends to have fewer schisms, which grants enough momentum from the majority to neutralize opponents be they leftists or Republicans. That said, a competent campaign manager stands a good chance of crashing the Trumpmobile into the bleachers of smug, self-aggrandizing Virginia Blues.

      To quote Yang:

      Schools produced graduates, and those graduates went into social work, and eventually they went into journalism, they went into law, they went into all sorts of professions. They have a class, the class that has an interest as a class in an entrepreneurial project in making themselves necessary and producing a demand for their services.

      That class really attained much of what they were seeking with the Obama presidency and the Obergefell decision legalizing gay marriage. The question became: Is it time now to declare victory, or are there more great moral emergencies that are in our midst, that it’s actually our job to fix? We institutionalized a class of people whose job is to identify great moral emergencies that other people don’t recognize, and then expand their moral horizons to begin to see these things as things that have to be eradicated. So you have a people whose raisons d’être depend upon there being a demand for their resources. It’s a bureaucratic professional endeavor.

      On a visceral level, this is something those who are not part of neolib make-work cancer recognize and detest — even if they can’t perfectly articulate it. It’s why Trump was elected. And it’s why Schumee Doo loves discarding blue collar voters for suburban Republicans. These people genuinely believe their credentials, obsession with symbol manipulation and virtue signaling, their electoral success, their disgust with universal, concrete, material benefits — all of it — is some noble effort that must fend off all attacks and criticism.

      1. Pelham

        I was going to mention Wesley Yang, but you beat me to it. I think his concept of a “successor ideology” does a fine job of summarizing the idpol we’ve been subjected to in recent years. Lambert says Republicans looking for a fight tend to distort the issue. But I think it’s fair to view it as a kind of threat, and the penumbra of untethered looniness surrounding popularly practiced CRT (or its public school version) and attendant forms of idpol tend to license almost any sort of loose interpretation.

        As for schools, what if a majority of parents in a school district object to even, say, a mild form of CRT — or whatever derivative of CRT that’s being taught in their kids’ classrooms? Should the parents be overruled? Relatedly, Tucker Carlson last night called for cameras in classrooms to monitor teachers. Is that a bad idea?

        1. jsn

          And just like in the wokealyps language of a year ago, Capitalism can be substituted for any of Wangs “hyperobjects”.

          Whether it’s white cisheteronormative patriarchy, white supremacy culture or climate change, they are all an evasion of looking at the common, underlying ideological driver of all the material iniquities used to justify the power grab by the woke PMC, an evasion of the class quality of what is happening.

          I include climate change as it is both the perfect example of what Wang calls a hyperobject, something to big and complicated to be tractable for individuals, and the final mirror of Capitalism, converting life to death for profit. Tiabbi is good on this today on Substack.

      2. JCC

        On the other hand, as Matt Taibbi points out in his interview with Yang on the subject of CRT:

        Nearly all the Republican laws share this quality of imposing draconian bans on what they perceive to be elements of CRT, without really defining what CRT is. They don’t know what they’re fighting, so their solutions look like insane overreactions — like smashing at a water bug with a hammer and missing over and over.

        And, of course, that is a problem. FOX, CNN, and MSNBC’s (among others) definition of CRT doesn’t match up well the the academic studies of the concept which have been around since the 1960’s in various reputable Law Schools. Not surprisingly when you stop and think about it. Most never even heard of CRT until very recently when politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle decided to make an issue of it.

    2. anEnt

      Critical race theory is hitting the Asian community first. As implemented at TJ high school it is aimed at reallocating slots in that magnet school by race in a way that was last contemplated when racial quotas were being pushed through the front door in the 90s. Before this 70+% of slots were earned by Asian kids. Now it’s weighted down to 54%? It’s the same sort of tactics pushed by the white racists in decades before that. Racism by another name would smell as bitter… and also be contrary to the protected categories in federal discrimination law. Gonna be real fun when school districts start losing federal per capita funding for implementing this racist tripe.

  4. TimmyB

    Concerning Trump’s First Amendment lawsuit against Facebook, I don’t think the current complaint survives a motion to dismiss because, as many have already noted, the 1st Amendment only limits actions the government can take. It doesn’t limit what nongovernment actors, like you, me or Facebook, can do.

    However, Trump’s complaint (see link) alleges that Facebook took action to limit his speech in response to pressure from Democratic lawmakers. See paragraphs 56-69. I believe Trump would have a better chance of winning a suit for violations of the First Amendment if he sued those Democratic politicians instead of Facebook. Politicians like Pelosi are more likely to be found to be government actors than Facebook. Their pressuring Facebook is much more likely to be found to be a violation of the 1st Amendment than anything Facebook did.

      1. PHLDenizen

        Only if Trump manages to get David Boies on his team. Did a sh!t job with Gore v Bush, but his thuggery w.r.t. Theranos is pretty damn impressive. Judges respect him and he’s the anti-Giuliani. His credibility with Dems also precludes any attack on his politics. A deplorable he ain’t.

        Speaking of Theranos, I need to make more popcorn for the occasion of Holmes’ trial, which should be up later this year.

        And there’s good ole Ghislaine on deck, as well.

        1. Procopius

          Not a trial, but there’s a good show coming up in Detroit next week. The Michigan Attorney General has requested the federal judge in Detroit to sanction all the Trump attorneys who filed suit there last year claiming election fraud. The judge has agreed, and the hearing, to be held on Zoom, is scheduled for the 13th. I’ve got a pack of microwave popcorn (with extra butter) set aside for it. I’m especially looking forward to what Sidney Powell and Lin Wood will have to say, but the lesser players should be fun, too. Will Powell try to use her defense that no reasonable person could have believed she was serious?

    1. Acacia

      Suing Democrat lawmakers for pressuring Facebook… discovery could get interesting.

    2. Isotope_C14

      Isn’t this part of the theater? Show the fooled partisans that there are “two” parties, when in fact there is one?

      I quote Ralph Nader, “the only difference between the Democrats and Republicans is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That’s the only difference.”

      I’d argue that the protests that occur under Republican administrations might be a little bit more effective than the lack of them that occur under Democrats, as everyone appears to be at brunch while Biden does nothing. He did say nothing would fundamentally change.

      Of course Obama really cracked the heads during Occupy and DAPL, showing his true nature.

      1. neo-realist

        Anti voting right, anti-abortion, anti anti-discrimination judges get picked by Republicans, while the dems pick pro-voting right, pro-choice, and anti-discrimination judges. However, both are similar and don’t change in their pro-corporate views.

    3. JCC

      Not to mention that his lawyers filed the lawsuit in the wrong jurisdiction. It’s just another grift begging for more money. Krystal and Saager covered this well today on their podcast and youtube Breaking Points site.

  5. griffen

    Big props to the Pro Publica team, they’ve once again knocked out a big story on the tax rules. And, it’s not evasion if the Congressional morons allow laws to get that way.

    Next time some small market owner starts snivelling about this team is good and competitive “if only” we have a new arena/complex, i hope we should remember this revealing look into their tax advantages.

      1. ambrit

        Considering how many of them started out as car salesmen, that’s not surprising.

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    So gig-workers are leaving gig-jobs because the current environment permits them to leave these jobs? Good. Civi-minded consumers of services could help that process by extermicotting gig-job companies. Don’t take a UberLyft. Take a real bus or a real cab or at least a real limo-service-type car. Those still exist in my town, for example, even though UverLyft has exterminated all the cab companies.

    While millions of individual actions are not a good substitute for government-level action, they are the only substitute we have because the governments are all pro gig-business and will not do anything to improve the quality of gig-jobs. So it is up to “us” to exterminate the gig-business sector from existence.

    1. chris

      There are no “real cabs” in cities where you need them. Try to get around DC without using Uber or Lyft to destinations off the metro. You’ll spend a lot of time and money and not accomplish much.

    2. neo-realist

      Austin is also a bit a a problem in getting around w/o Lyft, Uber, or car rental.

  7. noonespecial

    Re: Matt Stoller tweet on Dems/progressives are going to have to find a way to talk about a Democratic President who is actually governing.

    Apologies if this has already been referenced here at NC.

    From the National Review – a possible move by Biden that would make some heads turn:

    “During a Wednesday press conference to promote his ‘Build Back Better’ agenda, President Biden pledged to end tax breaks for energy companies in the fossil-fuel business, raising $90 billion dollars in revenue for the federal government…’We’re not asking them to do anything that is unfair. We’re just not going to subsidize them anymore, they’re doing well thank you,” Biden said in reference to the oil conglomerates.'”


      1. Big Tap

        Actually according to the article their suing using NAFTA. I thought NAFTA was eliminated. They claim they can do it via legacy. Is that legal?

    1. PHLDenizen

      I’d be happier if that included ending corn subsidies for things like ethanol (vanity project that accomplishes little other than destroying engines) and HFCS.

      Should also include eliminating price supports for raw sugar. Another reason HFCS is in everything — a bunch of dudes in Miami artificially inflating the price of sugar, which is more costly than HFCS.

  8. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    The Bezzle: “Crypto Scammers Rip Off Billions as Pump-and-Dump Schemes Go Digital”

    “‘You know, you win some, you lose some. Hopefully, win more than lose.’”

    The name of the game, for a subset of the population, is and always was to cheat and thieve regularly and cheat and thieve massively, relying on the unquenchable greed of all of the willing participants and the unchanging nature of human nature, so that the sheep can be sheared, the suckers can be vacuumed, their pockets picked, and their bank accounts emptied, The only thing that changes is the increasing sophistication of the various confidence game(s) and the amount of ‘easy money’ that is made available that enables the gamblers, suckers, and rubes to be systematically, regularly, and thoroughly exploited by the grifters, hustlers, and swindlers playing zero sum games.

    “The authority also warned the public of the ‘high-risk nature of investing in crypto assets’ and said it had concerns about the suitability of crypto assets as an asset class because of the ‘underlying business models’ of crypto firms and the ‘risk of large fluctuations in the market price’.”



  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    Patient readers, if you can read this you will have refreshed your browser, and you will see where I added a lot of material. Lots of interruptions during my Water Cooler “Sprint to the Submit Button” today.

  10. Lou Anton

    Thanks again for the h/t, Lambert. There’s a ‘generate report’ button underneath the graphs (results not easily exportable unfortunately), and it let’s you see which states are growing the most week-over-week. Call it velocity, I suppose.

    Largest percent increases since one week ago:
    Tennessee: +345.73% change
    Iowa: +168.68% change
    Louisiana: +72% change
    Nebraska: +55.81% change
    California: +55.49% change

    Tennessee and Iowa are big jumps off of a small starting point, but I think the chart you have plus the data above that help to control for size really lets you see the emerging hotspots well.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Lou Anton: I just got the daily number of new cases from the Sun-Times site, which uses Illinois Department of Public Health figures. The number for 7 July: 1,996. That’s an increase of 500 cases since the day before.

      Something has gone seriously wrong.

      1. marym

        The Sun-Times page I found has the same cumulative number as IDPH but the chart by day isn’t updated. I’m not sure what’s reflected in the 1,996. IDPH reported 2,120 for the previous week on 7/2 (I think that means thru 7/1) and 2,300 (by my addition of their daily numbers) so far for 7/2 – 7/7 2,300 (IDPH site link is http not https)

          1. marym

            I agree. I hope there’s some reporting variance because of the holiday week-end, but the steadily increasing trend line for 30 days is not “not significant.”

      2. Lou Anton

        One of the nice things about 91-DIVOC is that it’s a UofI project. And they do infections rates within Illinois. Agree it’s worrisome, and while things are moving in the wrong direction everywhere, it’s more of a problem downstate (where you have plenty of people who visit Branson and the Ozarks): link here.

        1. IM Doc

          You should talk to some of my friends in Chicago if you think this is just a down state issue.

          Literally shitting bricks right now.

          This is an American issue. I have just as many liberal patients balking at the vaccine as I do GOP folks. Continuing to make this political is not in the best interest of the country. I am becoming increasingly pissed at our media for engaging in this bullshit.

          If Illinois is like my state the unvaccinated numbers look bad because all kinds of barriers are up to not even bother to test the vaccinated. It is impossible to make any kind of judgment rationally when the numbers are being handled like this.

          Until we all learn that lesson, we are in for some hard times.

          Just my two cents.

          1. neo-realist

            This may be political, but lefty Seattle may be the most vaccinated city with 70% of the population fully vaccinated.

            I suspect in the case of Illinois, it may not be the liberal democratic people per se, but a dysfunctional political culture that doesn’t do health care outreach all that well.

          2. Lou Anton

            Yeah, up across the board…I’m saying the southern part of the state is leading the trend.

  11. Bazarov

    Opinion: Is it time to limit personal wealth?

    I’ve been arguing for a “Maximum Wealth” along with a “Maximum Inheritance” for a long time. Among the many ways the rich rig the class conflict in their favor is to focus the social debate on the poor, as in “What should we do about the poor? Pay them more? Train them? Put them in prison? Sterilize them? Educate them? Give them a job?”

    The assumption here is that poverty is the problem looking for a solution, and that the people beyond poverty–the ruling class–are the “good” enfranchised sort destined to impose that solution.

    The Left ought to focus more on the wealthy (as opposed to bemoaning the state of the poor–it’s important that the people know who the enemy is so that they can purify their hate):

    “What should we do about these good for nothing billionaires? Put them in jail? Institute a maximum wealth? Exile them? Make them work in a factory for a few years?”

    Just like we discuss poverty in terms of pathology–a pathology so bad that we routinely take poor people’s children away from them–exorbitant wealth can be pathologized so that it triggers the purity taboo.

    “Those wretched fail children of the rich! They’re miserable and useless. They need to be raised right.”

    etc. etc.

    It’s nice to see the Maximum Wealth being seriously discussed. I also see increasing consciousness that the billionaires/millionaires are to blame for global scorching and ought to be reigned in. A sign perhaps that fundamental assumptions are shifting in favor of the many? Probably too little, too late to save the lot of us.

    1. HotFlash

      Yes indeed! A worthy target for rage — I am thinking about Tarance Ray’s’s article in Baffler that was linked to yesterday. We need compassionate interventions for money addicts — therapy, rehab, stigmatization, “Friends don’t let friends be billionaires.” If not for their own benefit, then for the crimes they commit against society. Oh, and taxing them back to normal.

      1. LifelongLib

        I doubt that billionaires are money addicts. They probably think about it a lot less than you or I do because they’ve never had to. Money worries are for the lesser folk…

  12. IM Doc

    Too good to be true….. That is how Dr. Eric Topol in the above link described the therapies being described in that paper.

    This is from the same man and the same medical establishment who have been repeatedly touting the 95% relative risk reduction from the Pfizer vaccine with COVID. Misrepresenting just like Big Pharma has for ages what a relative risk reduction actually means – and thereby misleading the American people about a very critical thing at a critical time. It has been SOP for Big Pharma – but when used in the way it has been, it has been an absolute disgrace.

    As I have been saying from the start, that number was way too good to be true. I believe we are starting to see right now what I was talking about. I am not just pulling that out of thin air. This has been discussed widely among physicians I know for months – many if not the vast majority are just far too concerned/scared to say anything in public.

    That 95% number was exactly what tipped me off back in December that the promised vaccine efficacy was TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. PROBLEMS AHEAD. BE ON FULL RED ALERT.

    I am hoping beyond hope – and continue to do so – that this is all going to work out OK. I hope so badly that I am so so wrong. But there are multiple trip wires planted by my old professors that have been going off one by one this whole past 6 months.

    I am hoping and praying that when this is all said and done and the dust has settled, medicine takes a deep long search into its soul. Our whole culture needs to do the same. There simply has been way way too much deference to Big Pharma and to our authorities.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I thought it was cute how Moderna — if I recall correctly — came up with a 0.5% advantage over Pfizer. [I remember the numbers being 94% efficacy for Pfizer and 94.5% efficacy for Moderna.]

      Those great numbers really convinced me that we were in good hands. /s

    2. Arizona Slim

      IM Doc, you are a doctor in the finest sense of the word. Thank you for all that you do.

    3. DJG, Reality Czar

      IM Doc: Thank you for your comment, just one of many insights.

      I note this exhortation (and that’s a compliment, not snark): “I am hoping and praying that when this is all said and done and the dust has settled, medicine takes a deep long search into its soul. Our whole culture needs to do the same.”

      In the past week or two, I am seeing the opposite, tremendous backsliding. I’m seeing people say things and engage in actions that indicate a deep impulse simply to ignore the last eighteen months. I’m finding it more and more disturbing to see no effort at real change as a result of so much human suffering that, like them or not, social media allowed all of us to witness.

    4. ChrisPacific

      He submitted the full results to The New England Journal of Medicine in the spring but says the paper was rejected despite what he calls “extremely constructive” reviews. When Cadegiani asked for the reason, Eric Rubin, the journal’s editor-in-chief, responded in an email, “It’s simple—the results are unexpectedly good. Given how good they are, the reviewers felt the data needed a primary review,” meaning they needed to see not just the analysis, but also the original data. “We simply don’t have the capacity to do that,” Rubin wrote in his email, which Cadegiani shared with Science. The Lancet rejected the paper as well.

      This set my BS detector to beeping frantically. It’s 600 patients, FFS. How much capacity do you need for that? Surely a result as potentially significant as this might be worth investing a little time? We’re going to pass up a potentially major breakthrough in mortality reduction because nobody at the NEJM could spare the time to review 600 data points?

      I might possibly chalk this up to a miscommunication or stupidity if we hadn’t seen exactly the same thing happen with Ivermectin. As it is, I suspect foul play.

      1. IM Doc

        If you read my original post way back in December about the original paper regarding the Pfizer vaccine, there was a section of it talking about an interview with Dr. Rubin on the Boston public radio station.

        Dr. Rubin is actually on the FDA advisory committee for vaccine approval. He is one of 15. There are multiple of them that have obvious COI. I detailed my concern about him being on that committee.

        One thing that was mentioned IN HIS OWN VOICE during that interview was that the Moderna FDA meeting was coming right up the next day. He just outright admitted that he had actually not looked at the Moderna data at all – literally 1-2 days prior to the meeting. I am quite literally not making this up.

        So, we have the chief editor for the NEJM and one of the members of the FDA vaccine advisory committee admitting that he will be voting on something this consequential – and has not even bothered to look at the data.

        So, does it surprise me that the NEJM, its reviewers or its peer reviewers did not take time to look at the original primary data on this paper? – Not in the least. There is far more going on, in my opinion, than just getting it right on this one possibly very helpful therapy. Far more. I am not sure the corruption will ever be fully teased out.

        I want to make it clear – back in the days when I was a young doctor at a big academic center – the faculty members were constantly being tasked to do either primary data reviews or peer-reviews of things like this. MUCH MORE than 600 patients. This is really evidence of how far scientific standards have fallen.

        1. ChrisPacific

          Thanks for the reply. It sounds like I wasn’t wrong to classify that as a bad smell.

          It’s always been part of academic publishing, where very often a rejection means “I cannot confirm whether your paper is worthy of publication, because I don’t consider you important/respected/well connected enough for me to invest the necessary time to read and understand your argument.” (A fellow grad student of mine was soured on the profession that way, after having a significant result repeatedly rejected for publication without ever actually being refuted). But you don’t expect to see it in such a high stakes situation as this one.


    Before liberalism triumphed, pretty much the same idea was part of the creed of civic republicanism.

    Edmund S. Morgan, “The Puritan Ethic and the American Revolution,” The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Jan., 1967), pp. 3-43

    “The Ethic conveyed the idea of each man’s and woman’s “calling” in life. “The emphasis of [work or labor] was on productivity for the benefit of society. In addition to working diligently at productive tasks, a man was supposed to be thrifty and frugal. It was good to produce but bad to consume any more than necessity required. A man was but a steward of the possessions he accumulated. If he indulged himself in luxurious living, he would have that much less with which to support church and society. If he needlessly consumed his substance, either from carelessness or from sensuality, he failed to honor the God who furnished him with it.”

  14. Val

    “You’ve Got To Keep the Death Machine Churning”

    New indispensable national anthem lyric/title, same melody.

  15. griffen

    Trump vs Desantis, in 2024. We can make it all so very simple. Two enter, one leaves.

    “welcome to thunderdome! Im your host, Triple HHH with special analysts John Cena & the Nature Boy, Ric Flair”

    Can I get a “wooooo”?

      1. griffen

        To this day I never knew what the “HHH” initials actually stood for!! Sounds much better than Paul….I suppose. He’s done alright.

  16. DJG, Reality Czar

    As a Usonian in part descended from one of the Pickled-Herring Peoples, I find the skit about the power politics at Westphalia uncharitable to the dish that might be called Sushi of the Baltic.

    Also, little did I know that it was the Peaces of Westphalia + Westphalia. A line from Wikipedia: “The negotiation process was lengthy and complex. Talks took place in two cities, because each side wanted to meet on territory under its own control. A total of 109 delegations arrived to represent the belligerent states, but not all delegations were present at the same time. Two treaties were signed to end each of the overlapping wars: the Peace Treaty of Münster and the Peace Treaty of Osnabrück.”

    And yet it was the end of two wars that had dragged on for years.

    Pass the sprats, please.

  17. allan

    ‘Fork in the road’: Senior ministers consider letting Delta circulate in community [Sydney Morning Herald]

    The NSW government is facing its most difficult decision of the pandemic with senior ministers cautiously canvassing abandoning a zero local transmission strategy and accepting the Delta strain of COVID-19 will circulate in the community.

    Three senior ministers, who would not speak publicly due to cabinet confidentiality, have acknowledged the state has reached a “fork in the road” where it must choose between a lockdown to eliminate COVID or living with the virus.

    Sydney is facing extraordinary new measures to try to halt the spread of COVID-19, with no sign yet of the virus being brought under control.

    The discussions will intensify in the coming days as NSW battles to contain the growing outbreak in south-west Sydney, which has much lower rates of vaccination in its elderly population than the rest of the state.

    NSW Police will launch a major operation in south-west Sydney on Friday, sending in at least 100 officers to enforce the stay-at-home orders in a desperate bid to lower the rates of transmission in a host of suburbs.

    There are now 7000 people in strict isolation in NSW, with the state reporting 38 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a record single day in more than 14 months. …

    Reads like the first page of a sci-fi thriller, circa 1970.
    The good news is that both the British government and the Hoover Institution have signed off on this game plan.
    Let it rip.

    1. skippy

      Its like the L.A. riots all over again … as long as it does not spill over into the nice part of town …

    2. The Rev Kev

      Well New Zealand would shut off the air bubble straight away for good along with other countries. And I can’t see the other States being keen to open up their borders with NSW either. The push for this is coming from businesses who don’t want to lose money locking down but if this virus runs rampant and fills up hospitals, people aren’t going to want to go to bars, restaurants much in any case. Victoria did the hard yards last year and lost about 800 dead so for my former State of NSW to shrug their shoulders and say ‘What can you do?’ is beyond the pale. Premier Gladys Berejiklian, having totally botched the pandemic in her own State, is now determined to spread it to all the other States so that she does not look so bad because after all, fighting a pandemic is hard work

  18. Mikel

    “…The companies also pointed to evidence from the Israeli Ministry of Health showing the effectiveness of the vaccine declined six months after the shots, just as the delta variant is taking hold in the country.

    Pfizer and BioNTech expect to begin clinical trials to study a third dose in August.

    “That is why we have said, and we continue to believe, that it is likely, based on the totality of the data we have to date, that a third dose may be needed within 6 to 12 months after full vaccination,” the companies said…”

    So “opening up” is in effect with waning protection from the current therapy.

    And there is already talk about another variant in California “Epsilon”….

  19. JacobiteInTraining

    While I am afraid to say I have never played EVE Online, I was a veteran of the WWIIOL/Second Life ‘Jesse War’ back in ought-three.

    I was a hardcore WWII Online player, and was in on most of the initial planning and prep for the invasion. I was one of the somewhat-rarer ‘lefty/commie wwiiol’ers’, as opposed to the more conservative bent of most of my squad. But when those of my squad in WWIIOL sent out the call to arms, we all did our bit: !Salute!

    …. of course, after a few weeks of action I realized where the true heroes lived: those who crafted weapons and skins and such.

    I hung up my body armor, Panzerfaust, and parked my Panzer II and set up shop making and selling weapons. My best sellers typically involved German weapons that had integral and/or detachable dildos. I was particularly proud of my STG-44 with same in place of the magazine.

    Good times, man, good times. Weapons dealers really do make all the cash behind the scenes. I stopped logging in to my accounts in Second Life after less then a year, but i bet if they haven’t been auto-deleted long since, they would be the SL equiv of millionaires… :)


  20. Wukchumni

    Didn’t feel the 6.0 temblor today centered near Topaz Lake, and its interesting insofar as the bigger earthquakes of late in the state this century have been to the east of the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada, including a 6.4 & 7.1 near Ridgecrest in 2019.

  21. ambrit

    Paging Wukchumni.
    Did you feel the two earthquakes? 6.2 and 4.8 aren’t small stuff.
    Stay safe and geologically quiet!

  22. jr

    I played EVE for about five years, I’ve commented about it before so I won’t go on but it is an intensely addictive and emotionally draining game. I’m not surprised people are burning out if it has become even more complicated to get involved in industrial play. That can be extremely challenging, you can spend months building parts for the biggest ships then have to ship them via enormous and expensive cargo ships through systems filled with enemies. It’s not a joke, people spend hundreds and thousands of dollars for something that can be stolen in a few seconds. Or turned to dust. I was small potatoes so I never encountered the ins and outs of ship production etc. but there are players who do only that or play the economy in other ways. There are players who conduct real world espionage and bribery to tip the game.

    The game will wear you down, you lose a couple dozen times for every win and while winning is wildly relative losing is easy to gauge when a ship you spent two months earning disappears in a puff of pixels because you forgot to turn on your shields or something. At the same time, it’s irresistible, I used to sneak into zero security systems in a specially configured stealth bomber to hunt extremely rare robot battleships in the dead of night when pirates in that sector were asleep. Slipping through guarded gates along routes I had to carefully plot out in an even sneakier ship before I could hunt in those regions. Very touch and go stuff, smash and grab and get the hell out. I once found one of the rarest items in the game in a shipwreck. It’s thrilling and the costs are real in terms of sweat and tears.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I played EVE for about five years, I’ve commented about it before so I won’t go on but it is an intensely addictive and emotionally draining game.

      This is a great comment about a world I don’t understand at all. I wouldn’t mind a little repetition in comments, or hearing from other readers with the same experience.

      1. JacobiteInTraining


        jr’s comment – by itself – has my finger hovering over the ‘Download’ button for EVE Online. My gamers heart is fluttering and thinking….this sounds AWESOME!!1

  23. Jason Boxman

    So this is entertaining, from The Sources of Soviet Conduct by George F. Kennan under the pseudonym X in July 1947:

    … the fact that leadership is at liberty to put forward for tactical purposes any particular thesis which it finds useful to the cause at any particular moment and to require the faithful and unquestioning acceptance of the thesis by the members of the movement as a whole. This means that truth is not a constant but is actually created, for all intents and purposes, by the Soviet leaders themselves. It may vary from week to week, month to month. It is nothing absolute and immutable — nothing which flows from objective reality.

    Sort of like liberal Democrats and Russiagate.

    Comical indeed.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      Nuff said –

      I met a traveller from an antique land
      Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
      Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
      Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
      And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
      Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
      Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
      The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
      And on the pedestal these words appear:
      “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
      Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
      Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

      — Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias”[4]

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