2:00PM Water Cooler 8/3/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more soon! –lambert UPDATE Not entirely done, but done for the day.

Bird Song of the Day

Apparently, that low-pitched awwwk-k-k-k-k is it. That’s the song. But the insect sounds. Sounds like a lovely summer evening.

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At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching….

Vaccination by region:

South rising.

Case count by United States regions:

As far as reaching the peak of January 8, 2020, 295,257… I’m not that pessimistic (modulo a new variant brought into the country by our ridiculously lax policies on international quarantines). Still, when you look at those rising counties, you’ve got to think this rise has a way to run. I haven’t added an anit-triumphalist black line. I’ll do that when we reach the foothills of January 8, 2020

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

California back on form. Musical interlude for Florida data.

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report August 2 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Red areas spreading. OTOH, some green relief in Missouri and Texas. This map blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a banjo to be heard. Previous 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):

A little dip in 65+. But–

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Deaths definitively rising, although nowhere near meriting an anti-triumphalist black line.

Covid cases worldwide:

Every region is trending up. US sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine not doing so well.

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

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

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

Biden Administration

UPDATE “Why Joe Biden’s Racial Justice Agenda Is Stalled” [New York Magazine]. “Pushing for less than what America’s crises demand is the price that has to be paid for victory and hence any chance at progress at all. So instead of universal health care, tinkering with the Affordable Care Act so more people have coverage. Instead of a Green New Deal, a commitment to reducing carbon emissions by half within a decade, which experts say is insufficient. This pattern has also played out on the issue Biden has imbued with the most moral urgency: racial inequality.”

UPDATE “Who Holds the Power in Joe Biden’s White House?” [Labor Notes]. “Biden’s stimulus bill was a big shift from Barack Obama’s stingy response to the 2008 crisis and Donald Trump’s tax cut orgy. But the question for working people is not where Biden’s heart is at. It’s this: who holds the power in his administration? The answer to that question will determine the opportunities and limits for reform in the next four years. So far, every indication we have suggests that business is still calling the shots in Washington, D.C. For decades, big business has wanted politicians to pursue austerity when it comes to people’s needs. Slash budgets for education. Cut back on health care. Whittle away at unemployment benefits. But last year, the Covid crisis and the specter of economic collapse forced business to change its tune. And it’s this change in business’s policy preferences that should get the credit for Biden’s stimulus. The question now is what comes next. In the spring, Biden and the Democrats announced new goals of boosting infrastructure spending and expanding the social safety net. But unlike the relief bill, which was paid for by borrowing money, these new initiatives initially were to be paid for with higher taxes. The corporate tax rate would go up to 28 percent, from 21 percent. And various taxes on the wealthy would be increased. Business would have none of it.”


Wait a minute. We’re getting a bipartisan bill one-third the size of Trump’s proposal, and that’s a victory?

UPDATE “FTC’s economics witness out, in new blow to court fight with Facebook” [Politico]. “The lead economics expert in the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust suit against Facebook has parted ways with the agency, two individuals familiar with the case said — adding yet another impediment to the regulator’s largest court fight. The FTC is now looking for a new expert, just three weeks before the agency must decide whether to file the new version of the Facebook lawsuit after a D.C.-based judge threw it out last month. The expert, University of California-Berkeley economist Carl Shapiro, didn’t respond to multiple phone calls and an email asking the reasons for his departure. But he has criticized new FTC Chair Lina Khan’s aggressive approach to antitrust enforcement, and she in turn has faulted the agency’s traditional reliance on economists’ analyses in its fights against alleged monopolists.” • So the FTC “lost” (probably) a saboteur and a potential snitch. Sounds like addition by subtraction to me.

“Biden taps lawyer to help rescind Trump immigration policy” [Politico]. “‘The anxiety levels are higher than I’ve ever seen them in my 25 years here in Washington in terms of trying to undo what was done because the Trump administration was so absolutely purposeful about getting people in the administration right away who were really focused on, on making mischief,’ said Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.” • Molasses brains in the White House….

UPDATE “Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic” [The Hill]. “The Biden administration will keep in place a Trump-era policy of turning migrants away at the southern border without allowing them to claim asylum due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an extension of the policy in a statement on Monday, determining that ‘introduction of such noncitizens, regardless of their country of origin, migrating through Canada and Mexico into the United States creates a serious danger of the introduction of COVID-19 into the United States.'”

“Congress Is Slashing a $30 Billion Plan to Fight the Next Pandemic” [The Atlantic]. “Biden proposed $30 billion to address the [the country’s pandemic-preparedness budget], which advocates say could permanently mitigate the risks of future outbreaks. The investment would replenish medical stockpiles, proactively develop vaccines for major types of viruses, and ensure that the United States has a permanent production base of face masks and respirators. In effect, it would amount to an Apollo program–like push to guarantee that a global pandemic could never shut down the country again. Yet those funds have been slashed in the current negotiations over the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package as part of a push to slim it down, according to a source familiar with the situation. (I agreed not to name this person because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.) While the exact amount is still in flux, it is significantly less than requested.” And this contrast:

Looming over this funding fight is a broader question: What reforms, if any, will the federal government make to its public-health agencies after their significant failures over the past 16 months? After 2,977 people were murdered on September 11, 2001, Congress started a war and revised the country’s approach to policing, surveillance, and national security within six weeks; it opened a new federal agency and commissioned a bipartisan fact-finding panel within 14 months. Although the wisdom of some of those decisions is debatable, COVID-19 has now killed more than 600,000 Americans. The federal government’s failures have been, in some ways, just as stark as 20 years ago: The CDC, for instance, did not know how many people were sick throughout the early months of the pandemic. Yet Congress has demonstrated little haste so far in determining what went wrong and how the country’s public-health institutions can prevent it from happening again.

“Little haste”? I’d say “no appetite.” As I’ve said, genocidal oligarchs is a parsimonious explanation for this. And I hate to think this way, I really do. But if that $30 billion gets cut… that’s going to be wonderfully clarifying. Why doesn’t Biden just go ahead and give each one of the Sacklers a Presidential Medal of Freedom?

UPDATE “Congress Is Already Botching the Next Pandemic” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill includes no significant investment in public health. Meanwhile, Congressional Democrats are reportedly planning to scale back Joe Biden’s proposed investment in pandemic preparedness by more than 80 percent. Whereas the president called for spending $30 billion on fortifying the nation’s defenses against contagious diseases, Nancy Pelosi & Co. plan to dedicate just $5 billion — of their impending $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill — to such purposes. This move is understandable, if indefensible. Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the House. And to pass partisan legislation out of the Senate, the party cannot afford a single defection. Moderates in both chambers have a limited tolerance for both deficit spending and taxing the wealthy. It’s not clear that the party has the votes to pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill, let alone one greater than that sum. And yet, the party’s myriad ambitions for public investment cost far more than $3.5 trillion. So something has to go. Pandemic preparedness is an easy line-item to shrink for the same reason that it was an easy one to underfund pre-COVID: The constituency with the greatest stake in preventing or mitigating the next public health crisis is unidentifiable, let alone, organizable. The 600,000 Americans who died of COVID-19 over the past 17 months did not know in 2019 that they had a potentially life-or-death stake in the size of the CDC’s budget. If Democrats go small on pandemic preparedness, the victims of the next novel virus will not light up Congress’s phone lines.” • A strange definition of “moderate,” I must say. “Nancy Pelosi & Co” are even stupider than Palmer and his boss.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Attorney general concludes Cuomo sexually harassed women” [Albany Times-Union]. “ALBANY — State Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday announced that her office’s five-month investigation ‘has concluded that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law.’ ‘The investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching … that created a hostile work environment for women,’ James said. The attorney general said the investigation independently corroborated and substantiated the women’s allegations, including interviewing 179 individuals, including the women who had accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. They also reviewed more than 74,000 pieces of evidence, including emails, photos and documents.” • The report. Biden on Cuomo:

Hoo boy.

“”We Have To Impeach”: NY State Lawmakers Call for Cuomo to Resign or Be Removed” [Eoin Higgins, The Flashpoint]. ““It took 179 witnesses and a statewide investigation by the Attorney General to hold one powerful man accountable—tell me again that New York doesn’t have a power problem,” Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou said. Niou, who told me ‘we have to impeach’ the governor, is one of Cuomo’s fiercest critics and called for the governor’s resignation months ago when allegations of harassment and misconduct were first reported by former aide Lindsay Boylan and others. She said she’s had impeachment articles drafted for a long time. ‘I had them drafted yesterday,’ Niou said. “I had them drafted months ago.'”

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“Dems Scored Real Estate Cash Before Letting Eviction Ban Expire” [Daily Poster]. “George Marcus, chairman of both the massive real estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap and the real estate investment trust Essex Property Trust, donated $1 million on June 1 to House Majority PAC, a super PAC that works to elect Democratic lawmakers. The donation amounted to nearly 7 percent of the total funding the committee has raised so far this year. Marcus also donated $263,400 in June to a joint fundraising committee benefiting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s campaign, her leadership PAC, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the party committee that works to elect House Democrats. During the 2020 election cycle, Marcus donated a combined $1 million to the DCCC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which elects Democratic Senate candidates. He contributed millions more to the party-aligned super PACs that aid those committees: $3.5 million to Senate Majority PAC and $3 million to House Majority PAC. Marcus, who has a net worth of $1.7 billion, has also been a huge Biden supporter. He donated $4 million to super PACs that supported Biden: Priorities USA ($2 million), Unite the Country ($1 million), and American Bridge PAC ($1 million). He also hosted a Biden fundraiser in 2019, and donated $500,000 to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee benefiting the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and state parties.” • That’s nice.

Passing the buck:

A time-honored practice…


“Maricopa County and Dominion won’t comply with new subpoenas issued by Arizona Senate” [AZ Central]. “The subpoenas demanded routers, machine passwords and voter registration records from the county, and the same machine passwords from Dominion. Instead of complying, attorneys for Dominion and the supervisors sent letters to the Senate. The supervisors said they have given what they are legally and responsibly able to provide, and Dominion said that they don’t legally have to provide anything, given they are a public company. Much of what the Senate demanded it had already asked for in the initial subpoenas that made the audit possible — the county provided everything but the routers in response to those subpoenas, and stated again Monday it won’t provide the routers for security concerns. Additionally, the county said it doesn’t have any additional passwords to the machines.” • The passwords? What could go wrong?

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Word Church in Cleveland:

As for Clyburn, Matt 23:5. Why are crooks like Clyburn even allowed in church?

UPDATE “Ohio special election tests Trump’s grip on Republican party” [Financial Times]. “Donald Trump’s grip on the Republican party will face a major test on Tuesday when a coal lobbyist endorsed by the former president faces off against 10 fellow Republicans in a closely watched special election in Ohio…. Trump endorsed Carey, chair of the Ohio Coal Association, in June. His stamp of approval boosted the name recognition of the political novice and longtime lobbyist who was for years an associate of Bob Murray, the late energy executive. Murray was the founder and chief executive of Murray Energy, an Ohio-based mining company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019 and is now known as American Consolidated Natural Resources. The company donated millions of dollars to Trump, his political campaigns and affiliated super PACs while Carey was its vice-president of government affairs. When Trump endorsed Carey in June, he called the lobbyist a ‘courageous fighter for the people and our economy.'”

UPDATE “47 percent of Republicans say time will come ‘to take the law into their own hands’: poll” [The Hill]. “The GW Politics Poll, conducted among more than 1,700 registered voters from June 4 to June 23 and released this week, found that support for principles like free and fair elections, free speech and peaceful protest were nearly unanimous among Democratic and Republican voters. Approximately 55 percent of GOP respondents, however, said they support the potential use of force to preserve the ‘traditional American way of life,’ compared to just 15 percent of Democrats. Only 9 percent of Democrats agreed with the statement that ‘a time will come when patriotic Americans have to take the law into their own hands.'”

UPDATE DSA convention:

DSA seems completely under the radar. That’s probably wise.

Stats Watch

Housing: “June 2021 CoreLogic Home Prices: Home Price Gains Skyrocket To 40-plus Year High” [Econintersect]. “Despite the economic ups and downs brought on by the pandemic, the housing market is still going strong. As supply and demand pressures endure and construction costs spike, in June, home price gains reached the highest annual growth since 1979…. Home prices are continuing to rise aided by low inventory.”

Logistics: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index was little changed at 74.5 in July of 2021 pointing to the third-highest growth ever in the logistics sector fuelled by metrics from across the index. The gauge for warehousing prices was at an all-time high (88 vs 85.4 in June) mostly because of the lack of available capacity. Inventory levels continued to rise at an above-average rate (66.4 vs 67.8) as firms were abandoning JIT principles and ordering earlier and in larger quantities to avoid stockouts.” • Note the underlined passage

Vehicle Sales: “United States Total Vehicle Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Total Vehicle Sales in the United States decreased to 15.36 Million in June from 16.99 Million in May of 2021.”

* * *

Commodities: “Some of the biggest international markets for coal may start drying up. Banks are cutting off funding for new coal-fueled power plants in poorer Asian countries… and even some financiers in China are signaling they plan to stop or slow backing for projects outside their borders” [Wall Street Journal]. “The pullback led by banks in Japan and South Korea could force poorer countries that lack their own funding sources to crimp coal-expansion plans and accelerate transitions to alternative energy sources. Asian financiers provide the bulk of funding for new coal projects in countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. ”

Retail: “Clorox Plunges Most Since 2000 as Pandemic Boom Fades Away” [Bloomberg]. • They can’t sell tickets to the Hygiene Theatre any more…

Supply Chain: “Asia is emerging as a surprising weak link in an otherwise strong global economic recovery. Factory production is contracting across Southeast Asia and measures of manufacturing activity in China last month were at their lowest levels in more than a year” [Wall Street Journal]. “The flagging factory output comes as new Covid-19 outbreaks are hitting several countries and fresh pandemic restrictions restrain manufacturing and hit export flows. In the West, relatively higher vaccination rates are allowing economic activity to return to normal levels. Covid clusters have hit shipping operations, first at the Yantian port in Shenzhen, China, and recently in Vietnam. The impact is reaching deeper into supply chains, with restrictions like Malaysia’s closure of factories in nonessential sectors such as apparel sharply limiting suppliers. Such actions are leading to problems in other countries because of the region’s tightly integrated supply chains.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 28 Fear (previous close: 24 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 3 at 12:29pm.

The Biosphere

“How do soils and humans impact one another?” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!]. “With regard to land cover, one of the challenges of Los Angeles County is the amount of land covered with impervious surfaces such as cement and asphalt – buildings, roads, parking lots, etc. This means the rainfall we do get is often not collected in the soil but moves through our stormwater management system. But, with the number of forests we have in the county, almost a quarter of our land is covered with trees, and another 16% has shrubs or grasses. About 11% of our land is bare soil.” • Impermeable surfaces are bad. Water should soak into the soil, not run into a storm drain. If you live in a small enough town, take a look it in the Satellite view in Google maps. You will be amazed at the area covered by impermeable surfaces — mostly roads and parking lots.

“A mega-dairy is transforming Arizona’s aquifer and farming lifestyles” [High Country News]. “Smaller dairy farmers nationwide have weathered years of milk prices below the cost of production that culminated in an industry-wide economic crisis. Now they face a new adversary: mega-dairies, or dairy CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). In Franklin, southwest of Minneapolis, James Kanne struggles to hang onto his small family dairy even as mega-dairies like Riverview compete for the few remaining milk processors. This investigation follows Riverview’s rapid expansion in two of the five states it operates in, linking the environmental and economic consequences — and the lives of those who are impacted. The people we spoke with in Minnesota and Arizona are 1,500 miles apart, connected only by the ever-growing presence and power of Riverview. But their communities have much in common: The local industry and resources have been monopolized by a deep-pocketed entity. The groundwater is being depleted and polluted. Incessant traffic, dust, lights and the stench of livestock cause home values to plummet and strain the emotional ties locals have to the places they call home.” • What kind of sense does a dairy farm in Arizona make?

Health Care

News you can use:

I’m buying two small mirrors tomorrow.

“Protection of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection is similar to that of BNT162b2 vaccine protection: A three-month nationwide experience from Israel” (preprint) [medRxiv]. From the Abstract: “We analyze an updated individual-level database of the entire population of Israel to assess the protection efficacy of both prior infection and vaccination in preventing subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection, hospitalization with COVID-19, severe disease, and death due to COVID-19. Vaccination was highly effective with overall estimated efficacy for documented infection of 92·8% (CI:[92·6, 93·0]); hospitalization 94·2% (CI:[93·6, 94·7]); severe illness 94·4% (CI:[93·6, 95·0]); and death 93·7% (CI:[92·5, 94·7]). Similarly, the overall estimated level of protection from prior SARS-CoV-2 infection for documented infection is 94·8% (CI:[94·4, 95·1]); hospitalization 94·1% (CI:[91·9, 95·7]); and severe illness 96·4% (CI:[92·5, 98·3]). Our results question the need to vaccinate previously-infected individuals.”

“For many, the belated realization that Covid will be ‘a long war’ sparks anger and denial” [STAT]. “Coast to coast, and across the political spectrum, contempt for unvaccinated people is rising.” Well, if blaming, shaming, and lottery tickets didn’t work…. More: “For those who’ve made a living studying pandemics, they see another lesson in the current outpouring of outrage — the danger of setting unrealistic expectations…. For much of the first year of the pandemic, many top public health officials [***cough*** Fauci ***cough***] touted the idea that our way out of the pandemic was reaching herd immunity… A more likely scenario for exiting the pandemic phase of Covid-19, many scientists told STAT earlier this year, was that over time, likely a period of years, our immune systems would learn enough about SARS-CoV-2 to stave off the deadliest symptoms of infection. In this way the pandemic pathogen would become an endemic one — circulating among us and causing smaller, seasonal surges of milder illness…. Epidemiological researchers like Emory University’s Jennie Lavine have turned to models to try to project when SARS-CoV-2 might transition from pandemic pathogen to endemic. In a paper published in Science, Lavine and her co-authors predicted that this transition might take anywhere from a few years to a few decades, depending on how quickly the pathogen spreads and how widely vaccines are adopted. That’s not the timespan most people have been thinking along. As a result, people are now not just angry, but in denial, that after all we’ve been through — the lockdowns, the staggering death toll, the historic race to build a Covid vaccine — after all that, SARS-CoV-2 is still with us, a threat that still needs to be navigated. That’s why this time around, epidemiologists like Lavine fear it will be even more difficult to get people to don masks, especially those who believed the pandemic was over for them the moment they received their shots.” • Biden and Walensky: “You fools! When we told you “you’re protected,” you believed us!

Lambert here: Yes, it’s certainly easier for the PMC to blame “the unvaccinated” [banjo music plays] than to look in the mirror for setting over-optimistic expectations, for over-reliance on vaccines, for discrediting non-pharmaceutical interventions, and for ridiculous media concoctions like “Hot Vax Summer,” still current just weeks ago. And for the Noble Lies. And now, having failed in its strategies of shaming and bribery, the PMC wants to bring the force of the State to bear on the unvaccinated — for a drug the FDA has not approved! (To be clear, I’m pro-vax and vaccinated. But mandates for a drug that’s still “experimental”? Have they lost their minds?) Worse, they’re justifying State mandates with war rhetoric. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, every liberal Democrat loves a good war, but America has a habit of losing long wars, so not the ideal mindset. What a mess.

UPDATE “Time for Covidnomics” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. “he COVID-denial policies of so many state governments did not result from inattention or incompetence. They were intentionally adopted to serve influential constituencies and uphold powerful ideologies. They are not mistakes. They are plans. But if ideologically deformed local government defines 21st-century America, so too does the ingenuity and adaptability of the private sector. Science did its part by developing the vaccines in record time. The federal government and many state governments did their part by getting vaccines into willing arms. Now here’s where markets get to do their part. Thanks to gerrymandering and the overrepresentation of rural areas in legislatures and Congress, unvaccinated America exerts disproportionate political power. Vaccinated America, however, has more market power. And it’s time for individual consumers to start using it. Ordering an Uber or a Lyft? Ask the driver whether he is vaccinated. If not, refuse the ride. If the company tries to charge you for the refusal, complain. Pretty soon, Uber and Lyft will require that their drivers be vaccinated. Contemplating a holiday? Cruises departing from Florida are forbidden to require proof of vaccination from passengers. Cruises departing from almost all other ports do require it. Plan accordingly. Hundreds of bars and restaurants in New York, San Francisco, and other cities require proof of vaccination from their patrons. When making your next reservation, ask whether that establishment does too.”

“Tyson Foods mandates vaccines for its U.S. work force.” [New York Times]. • With a vaccine that has not received FDA approval.

“McDonald’s makes masks mandatory for some U.S. customers, staff” [Reuters]. “McDonald’s Corp. on Monday confirmed that all its customers and staff will need to start wearing masks again inside its U.S. restaurants in areas with high or substantial transmission, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.”

“Flawed ivermectin preprint highlights challenges of COVID drug studies” [Nature]. • This is the Elgazzar study, which Nature is a little late getting to. The reproducibility crisis is everywhere, I guess….

The Agony Column

“Depression as a Disorder of Consciousness” [British Journal for the Philosophy of Science]. “The hypothesis proposed is that when an individual becomes depressed, the individual departs from a state of ordinary wakeful consciousness and enters a distinctive global state of consciousness akin to dreaming and the psychedelic state. After unpacking and motivating this hypothesis in the context of research in consciousness science, I outline two of its important implications for the neurobiology of depression and psychedelic psychiatry. The upshot is a promising and conceptually well-motivated hypothesis about depression which is apt for empirical uptake and development.” • Concludes with a rather veiled discussion of psychedelic therapy.

Sports Desk

“Biles returns to Olympic competition, wins bronze on beam” [Associated Press]. “Asked if there was anything she would change about her experience in Japan, she shook her head. ‘Nothing,’ she said. ‘I would change nothing.'”

“Olympians Describe Their Biggest Heartbreaks At The Games” [The Onion]. Simone Biles: “I would’ve loved to have ended up in a wheelchair to appease a bunch of people who didn’t give a sh*t about gymnastics until a week ago.”

Class Warfare

“NLRB election official recommends new union election at Amazon in Bessemer” [AL.com]. “An official with the National Labor Relations Board has recommended that the results of this year’s union vote at Amazon’s Bessemer fulfillment center be set aside, determining that the online retailer violated labor law… Despite the recommendation, a decision must still be rendered by the NLRB’s regional director. Amazon can also appeal that decision. A final determination will take several weeks.” • Fascinatingly, although the local reporters from AL.com got quotes from Amazon and the union, they did not actually say what the NLRB official based their recommendation on!

“NLRB officer says Amazon violated US labor law” [The Verge]. “[I]n the aftermath of the result, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) alleged that Amazon had illegally influenced the drive and petitioned the NLRB to invalidate the result. In particular, the RWDSU raised questions around a USPS mailbox installed in the fulfillment center parking lot during the drive. The union alleged it gave some workers the impression that Amazon had improper access to mailed ballots. The officer’s report gives new details on Amazon’s interactions with USPS in encouraging the installation of the box, as well as the effect of a ‘privacy tent’ installed during the union drive. ‘It is clear that absent the tent, employees had reason to believe that the Employer could observe which employees accessed the CBU and/or used the box to deposit ballots,’ the report reads. ‘Employees believed that the Employer had cameras that were tracking, at the very least, which employees entered the CBU tent.'” • The employees aren’t dumb, are they.

“The Great Resignation: From Full-Time to Freelance” [Upwork]. “Using a new survey of 4,000 professionals in the U.S., Upwork finds that many professionals are less than enthused about the return to the office and are making moves as a result. Beyond just the expected move from one full-time role to another, there are also a substantial number of professionals who are considering making the move from full-time roles to freelancing. Already, businesses are dealing with an elevated level of resignations in a trend coined ‘The Great Resignation.’ Our survey indicates that this is far from over… The 10 million people considering freelancing would represent a significant 17 percent increase in the total freelance workforce when compared to the 57 million people that freelanced in all of 2019.”

UPDATE “How Much is the Rule of Law Worth to Markets?” [Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture]. “If you want to see what it looks like when a nation allows the government to dictate how companies can operate — not setting up guardrails and rational regulations for a level playing field, but full-on control — look at China.” • Interestingly, the article doesn’t really answer the question in the headline. Anyhow, China whacked tech and popped a bubble. Why the pearl-clutching?

News of the Wired

Sadly, I am not wired today. Perhaps tomorrow.

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

RM writes: “An inch of rain and hail and what cha know, a Gumbo Lily pops out.” So this is what a Gumbo Lily looks like!

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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. jo6pac

    The more effective evil and a must read.

    Dems Scored Real Estate Cash Before Letting Eviction Ban Expire

    I got banned at emptywheel the other day for pointing stuff just like this

    1. Arizona Slim

      The money quote from the story:

      “George Marcus, chairman of both the massive real estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap and the real estate investment trust Essex Property Trust, donated $1 million on June 1 to House Majority PAC, a super PAC that works to elect Democratic lawmakers. The donation amounted to nearly 7 percent of the total funding the committee has raised so far this year.”

      To which I say:

      Will Cori Bush go camping in front of the corporate headquarters of these companies?

    2. Dan

      The unstated inference:
      Biden’s Fed lowers interest rates to raise house prices and thus real estate commissions. Homeless, students, renters and seniors pay.

      Add the churn of people fleeing cities to sell homes and buy or rent elsewhere and you can see what’s on Biden’s playbill.

      1. Keith

        Don’t forget that people staying “their” homes get whacked, too. Counties use the excuse of increased paper worth to increase property taxes on the home, irregardless of whether the so-called owners income have increased.

        For me, I am estimating if things do not change and county ramps up propery taxes like they have been for the past three or so years I have owned, I will need to sell myself in about five years. Yay more govt spending.

      1. Keith

        Which will likely be struck down by SCOTUS. After all, it is Congress’s job to make the laws, not the POTUS.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          I certainly hope they strike it down. Not because of the policy itself, but because of the precedent it sets. Do we really want presidents to be able to flout Supreme Court rulings just because they don’t like them? What if Donald Trump had done that?

    3. Glen

      I think it is pretty safe to assume that Pelosi and Biden will try to stop all of the moratoriums that were put in place under Trump for the pandemic especially if they can use this to extract money from “donors”.

      They have already allowed the eviction moratorium to lapse, and are getting rid of unemployment plus ups. Coming up will be student loans and home mortgages.

      Yes, just more examples of the more effective evil in operation.

  2. Pat

    Talk about doubling down on a failed idea.

    I often give NYC mayor Bill deBlasio a break, as I recognize how often he has good ideas and intentions and gets blocked by our entrenched neoliberal Democratic power structure. However when he is an idiot I have no problem saying so. He is so busy placating the business interests that hate him that he has donned the biggest Dunce Cap he can find.

    In recent days he has not only rejected mask mandates, but earlier today he instead announced vaccine mandates.

    deBlasio not just locks the barn door after…he tears down the barn leaving only the door standing.

    This would be incredibly stupid even if you took the CDC at the word from a couple of months ago, but relying on instituting this AFTER the CDC has thrown in the towel on ‘vaccinated people cannot spread the virus’ and admitted they not only can but do spread it is playing with fire in the middle of a gas puddle stupid.

    I do wonder if this would still be happening this way if Trump were in charge. But whatever is directing this Democratic march of the lemmings, they are walking us all off a cliff.

    1. PKMKII

      The whole thing stinks, as it has for at least a year, of the public health and safety factors of the pandemic taking a back seat to feeding the consumption monster once again. Masks create a lingering sense that all is not right, and hence minimizes foot traffic which minimizes spending. So they’d rather lean on the requirement that gives them the rationalization for masks off, so you can go back to your usual buying habits. The fact that it doesn’t make going maskless indoors safe, well that’s just another sacrifice to be made in the name of Line Goes Up.

  3. albrt

    I got one of those surveys from the Democrat Senate Campaign Committee asking for $ and incidentally asking me what issues the Democrats should “fight for.” I tore up the survey and put it in the prepaid envelope to cost them a few pennies. I also included the following letter:

    Dear DSCC:

    I am returning your survey form torn in pieces to cost you extra postage.

    After winning nominal control of the presidency and congress, the Democrats have totally failed to deliver on any of their 2020 campaign promises.

    No filibuster reform
    No minimum wage hike
    No Medicare expansion
    No student loan reform
    No green new deal, hydrocarbon economy stays front and center
    No end to the forever wars, drone murder foreign policy ongoing
    No immigration reform, children still in cages
    Total floundering on COVID-19

    As always, the excuse is that so-called “centrists” who were hand-selected and backed by the doddering Democrat leadership are not allowing any of the campaign promises to be kept. This has been the Democrat modus operandi for decades now, always promising and never delivering on anything except the secret promises to Wall Street and Silicon Valley that nothing will fundamentally change.

    As an Arizona voter, I will vote against Mark Kelly next year unless the Democrat leadership gets Kyrsten Sinema under control and starts fulfilling campaign promises. And the McConnell version of the pork-filled infrastructure bill does not count as fulfilling a campaign promise.

    I have never voted for a Republican at the federal level, but if Kyrsten Sinema is the Democrat nominee in 2024, I will vote a straight Republican ticket including Trump if he is on the ballot. Unfortunately, this appears to be the only way to get rid of the corrupt gerontocracy at the head of the Democrat party.

    Thank you for your time.
    Former Democrat

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Excellent retort. But you forgot to ask for the $600 bucks Biden stiffed you on.

      1. albrt

        I like the 600 bucks meme, but I didn’t qualify anyway and I would rather see the 600 bucks put to use elsewhere.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Yours Truly is another former Arizona Democrat. Even worse, I didn’t vote for Saint Mark Kelly last year!

      1. albrt

        Kelly’s wife Gabby Giffords was one of the worst Democrats in Congress, playing an especially heinous role in Obamacare, but I held my nose and voted for Kelly because I wanted to give Biden a chance if he somehow managed to beat Trump. Since Kelly has no real merits of his own, I would gladly vote against him this time around to send a message to the Democrat leadership.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      Abbie Hoffman claimed in one of his books that you could tape a brick to a prepaid postcard and the company would have to pay the cost of mailing that brick. Always seemed like an urban legend to me.

      1. flora

        I am the original flora. I did not write the above comment. Is there an impersonator in the comments? Whoever “Flora” is, it is not me. It is someone else using the handle.

        Thank you.

        1. Mantid

          The other arrangement capitalizes. You’re safe, whew, that was close :–)

          You say flora, I say Flora, either either neither neither …….

    1. The Rev Kev

      The only thing is whether you acquire immunity naturally or through an experimental drug, both ways last only a few months. And people are going to freak out when they realize next year that the pandemic is still with us and these vaccines only have limited utility. And that they are not like the annual flu shot but will have more and more of an effect on you with each jab. It’s gunna be a worse mess than ever.

        1. GratefulDude

          don’t you mean cost less and less? If it costs less then I expect more people will get it – the shot that is, right? Or maybe fewer of them will because they think it must second-rate if it costs less.

  4. Lee

    Based on this morning’s experience, getting tested for Covid-19 is itself a test, literally a speed test. On a local Walgreen’s website my entries of my insurance information (Original Medicare with an overpriced supplement) kept being rejected as invalid. Just before I was timed out and lose the appointment for three days hence, I clicked the box for “no insurance” and presto! I secured the appointment.

    Although vaccinated and having exercised reasonable care in avoiding exposures, such as masking and distancing, I have developed some mild symptoms of just what, I am not sure, but they are consistent with some of those associated with the Delta variant.

    I initially contacted my primary care provider, Stanford Medical, but they couldn’t schedule me earlier than 5 days from now and encouraged me to contact Walgreen’s. Makes me wonder about our whole testing regime and just how close to death’s door one must be to get the goddamned test.

    1. albrt

      The current US testing regime is designed to suppress case counts. As Trump said when he was predicting the Biden administration approach to COVID (apparently), if you stop testing then you have very few cases.

      1. ?‍♂️

        Do you have a source for this? Both my kid and my wife got a test a day after we contacted the hospital. However the whole “results in 1-3 days” is kind of a bummer to say the least.

    2. curlydan

      I’ve found it’s often best just to say not insured as well. The CVS and Walgreens covid testing websites are money extraction schemes. They’re desperate to get your info and hopefully make a little coin on tests or vaccines. And the extra mental gymnastics to upload your insurance card and your prescription card make the process even more aggravating and daunting.

  5. IM Doc

    This is just my opinion.

    I know from talking to numerous patients daily that work related or social vaccine mandates are just not going to work. This is true for the vast majority of the vaccine hesitant I see every day.

    I do not feel these elites have really thought this all through.

    Because of the immense bumbling and the orgy of lies, these people are just not going to do it. So I guess they will be fired, and those that cannot find other employment (not very difficult in the economy right now to find other work) are going to join the already massive homeless problem.

    What really bothers me is the next step that they must take if they pursue this strategy. Something like calling out the National Guard, holding people down and forcing the shots in. I can only imagine what would happen in the South – places like Joplin or Baton Rouge. But, my God, what is going to happen when they start into inner city Atlanta or Houston and start doing this to the minorities. Again, if they keep going down the road they are on, this is exactly where we will be.

    I am not sure the law enforcement authorities will be obliging themselves to follow the elites over that cliff. Oh, the elites will have CNN covering it as “mostly peaceful” – but I do not think that is going to work this time.

    Even beginning to go down this path like they are now is all the proof I need to know that these people have completely lost their marbles. We are being led to the abyss by complete numbskulls. I do not believe they have a thing to be ashamed of when compared to the Romanovs or the French nobility circa 1785.

    Just my two cents. Lord help us all. They really do seem to want a civil war.

    1. TBellT

      They are dumb but I dont think they are “vaccines shots by police force” dumb. The blaming the unvaccinated is moreso about maintaining the expectations of their own partisans than it is about actually bringing an end to the disease.

      1. Carolinian

        Right. There’s a lot of hot air in the vicinity of DC.

        Here in SC they didn’t even legally enforce the grocery store mask mandate. That was correct. Most people cooperated anyway.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Probably because they are too educated. Some people’s rights are more important than others apparently.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      “I do not feel these elites have really thought this all through.”

      There’s the understatement of the 2020s.

        1. rowlf

          “I’m just not so sure how well this plan was thought through.” – Meet the Robinsons 2007

    3. Jen

      We are about to have 4,000 undergrads return to our “small liberal arts college” campus en masse. Our student housing is always over subscribed, but this year, with so many students spending much of last year in exile, and no semesters abroad to ease the crunch, the college has turned doubles in to triples, and common areas into dorm rooms.

      All of this planning for the joyous reopening is, obviously, built on the idea that the vaccines will limit the spread of any infection that might arise. 99% of our students are now vaccinated. As are 90% of the faculty and staff who will work on site. It’s truly been a remarkable effort, and if there’s a massive outbreak, I would imagine the backlash will be quite something.

      Given the vaccination rates among the students in particular, it will be challenging to cast an outbreak as a pandemic of the un-vaccinated, and as this is one of our nation’s “elite” institutions, the ramifications could be interesting.

      1. Societal Illusions

        if the cat isn’t fully out of the bag before then this could be more than interesting. thank you for sharing.

      2. Cocomaan

        10% of those people will get covid, according the most conservative breakthrough stats.

        Sounds like an incubator for a more effective virus to me, though

    4. Arizona Slim

      Have these elites noticed that the United States is a very well armed country? And, that in the past year, the sales of firearms and ammunition have been quite brisk?

      1. rowlf

        And, that in the past year, the sales of firearms and ammunition have been quite brisk?

        To citizens that many would expect to have voted for Democrats in the past. The firearms purchasers over the last year don’t match the old stereotypes and also get along with almost everyone at the gun ranges (except maybe the super tactical weenies and operators of the Pizza Hut/Burger King stands in Kabul). Training classes for the new owners are frequent and usually full.

        1. Cocomaan

          The last time I went to the public range, me and my brothers were the only white people there. Several southeast Asians and a pair of black kids were shooting too. We talked about my old ww2 rifles. “That’s hot,” one of the black kids said about one of the rifles.

          They had nice stuff, pretty pricey loadouts. Things are changing fast in this country and DC does not understand it.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The last time I went to the public range, me and my brothers were the only white people there. Several southeast Asians and a pair of black kids were shooting too. We talked about my old ww2 rifles. “That’s hot,” one of the black kids said about one of the rifles.

            May I ask the location?

          1. rowlf

            An Atlanta tv station likes to run their film crew to a local store for footage. Below are two examples I found quickly that are good examples of Georgia gun store customers mixed with who is willing to be filmed. Nobody around here blinks at this. In my county usually you see nurses and families buying firearms and practicing.

            (There are video clips at the top of the two stories.)

            Street disturbances spur gun sales in metro Atlanta
            Gun stores expecting surge in sales after calls for tougher gun control

      2. hunkerdown

        Outside of the SocialistRA, gun culture is heavily propertarian and authoritarian. They have trained their hounds well.

        1. a fax machine

          It changes more and more every year. The rise of 3d printed guns, CNC mills, “ghost guns” and 80% project guns forces open standards and de-propreitarization. Already we are there with the AR-15 and Springfield Arsenal-spec 1911 handgun. Every year that passes is a year where old worship of private property reduces, and a desire for a truly non-proprietary liberator weapon grows. See the entire catalog of 3d gun projects including the pepe liberator [sic]. The old guard has come to accept it, as the price of continuing their hobby into the next generation.

          As weapons become more technical and as machining becomes more computer-aided, communities merge. FOSS is more than software, increasingly it is also hardware. It grows every year, and grows much faster every time a gun company decides to discontinue a product due to public pressure. Individuals can step in and make their own cloned replacement for free. Which is why politicians want to ban such loopholes that allow DIY guns to exist, as in doing so they can effectively prohibit firearms to those with money and those that can obtain insurance.

    5. danpaco

      IM Doc, love your posts. I have a technical question for you.
      Can the current Covid Vaccines still be called vaccines? Is there another classification?
      Considering that the current jabs available are non sterilizing, break though cases seem to be common , but they do provide protection from being hospitalized.
      To this layman it doesn’t quite seem like its up to the level of vaccine yet its also not a medication. An immune system booster perhaps?

      1. curlydan

        well, they don’t call flu shots “flu vaccines”. So get ready for a long line of “COVID shots” mandated by your employer over the next few years. Each year specially formulated.

    6. flora

      Thanks for your enlightening comments.
      I think one of the things I’m seeing is the conflict between pragmatism on the one hand and a rigid, near absolutism on the other hand.

    7. Tom Stone

      Doc, if they try to force people to take the vaccines using the National Guard or just local SWAT teams quite a few cities in the USA will look like Fallujah, right quick.
      Quite a few serious people are at the end of their rope, these are not the whack jobs who shoot up a school yard to get their names in the news, these are vets with multiple tours in the sandbox.
      And that’s assuming Guard units don’t mutiny, not a safe assumption these days.

      It really does look like TPTB are doing their best to incite chaos in order to profit one way or the other, they seem to think they can control the outcome…………….

    8. campbeln

      [Adjusts tin-foil hat…]

      I’ve seen/read too many dystopian plots that follow this script, not least of which is Amazon Prime’s Utopia from Sept 2020(!).

      If Bill Gates was serious about this particular TED talk… how would he go about executing it?

      Especially with the data coming out of late re: the vaccinated being as susceptible as the unvaccinated. It’s almost like they’ve been forced into step-up their timetable.

      Finally… any opinion on this video shared by Dr Robert Malone? Seems highly plausible at least – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a7PLv9JkF4

    9. zagonostra

      I heard (from Max Blumenthal on JD live stream about 1hr ago) but haven’t read an opinion piece in NYT today is advocating raising the insurance premiums on the unvaccinated and is being lauded by folks of the same ilk.

    10. Dandelion

      I posted in a late comment in Links: the young mostly African-American women who work at my mother’s assisted living facility are not convinced that the vaccine can’t harm their fertility, given the reports of menstrual changes, and they simply won’t take it. They’ve calculated that their risk of harm from contracting covid is low, and the residents themselves are all vaccinated, so why should they risk their future children? Given forced sterilization of African-American women, even up until recent history as evidenced by California’s reparations, can anyone blame them for suspicions about the State’s goal wrt their reproduction?

      The PMC trying to enforce vaccines on African-American women are going to run right into a buzzsaw of race, class and sex politics.

      1. JBird4049

        The history is much worse than some sterilizations in California. So, so much worse.

        For over a century, the United States has a history of using public health clinics and prisons to practice eugenics and medical research on both the poor and minorities including children. Everything from the police dragging poor Appalachian children (without their parents knowing) to clinics for “medical examinations” to Black women going to the public clinic and given something extra, or people in prisons and mental institutions being deemed inferior and all sterilized with and usually without their knowledge.

        Similar practices also happened in medical “research”. Everything from gynecological research/operations on enslaved Black women, letting Black men stay infected with syphilis (Tuskegee syphilis experiment) even decades after there was a cure available, experiments in radiation, poison gas, and diseases on military personnel, dropping infectious diseases on American cities from the air, and giving radioactive milk to disabled children.

        So, I agree that any attempt to force Americans to be vaccinated might be a bit counterproductive.

    11. Krystyn Podgajski

      Hey IM Doc,

      Wondering if you could keep an eye on this:
      First manifestation of multiple sclerosis after immunization with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

      They have been on and off with me and an MS diagnosis, they did find lesions on my brain and I do have several well known markers for the risk of MS (HLA-DRB1*1501, STAT4, ERAP1). Every since my Pfizer shots my fatigue, leg weakness, and joint pain have just gotten worse. I can’t walk a mile now (used to walk 6 easy) without regretting it for two days after.

      Seems people being treated with MS also have worse neurological issues afterward as well.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Hey IM Doc Wondering if you could keep an eye on this

        Assigning tasks to NC staff is against site policy. How much more so for commenters! Drop the link, and have done with it. Doctors have patients to treat.

    12. Phillip Cross

      “Something like calling out the National Guard, holding people down and forcing the shots in. ”

      Are you for real? As if.

      Forced vaccination is the new critical race theory. A scary story to get the base riled up.

      1. campbeln

        I was in a local firearms store in early March 2020. We have a 14 day waiting period so I asked what happens if they are ordered to close, how would I pickup my purchase.

        They laughed at the suggestion that they could be ordered to close.

        I picked up my purchase on the first day of the ordered lockdowns and the guy I asked recognized me and remembered my “ridiculous” question. We exchanged an understanding nod.

        At this point, I put NOTHING past them.

      2. IM Doc

        I now consider myself a “former” Dem. My wife and I more than once in our lives have sat on a dais with Democratic Presidents and First Ladies. So, please do tell, who is my base?

        They are investing quite a bit of political capital in these vaccine mandate declarations. There are many many of my colleagues who are horrified because unlike the PMC elite class we actually sit with and talk with these patients all day long.

        When they have invested all this political capital, and it does not work, truly, what is left for them to do? They either totally lose face or call out the cannons. If these mandates fail, there is little else for them to do. One thing about decadent elites that I have observed is they do not lose face for the serfs.

        So, Mr. Cross, please with all your discussions you are having with patients all day – what do you think is going to happen when this does not work?

        Just FYI – the IDSA has now moved the goalposts once again – it seems we now have to vaccinate 90% of the population to reach herd immunity. How many of the members of the IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) have actually read the foundational textbook in Infectious Disease – Mandell? That is the accumulated wisdom and knowledge of the specialty. In the very first section of the coronavirus chapter and again in the respiratory virus chapter, it is explicitly stated that herd immunity does not exist in these viruses. If it does, it is only very transitory and the viruses are back again in the next season. I would argue that the evidence we already have is very supportive of what the textbook is stating. Things are much more severe with COVID because it is novel to us – we are still trying to figure each other out. So why are they pushing this so hard? I have no idea. But it seems in our climate today – that mandating vaccination programs to reach a 90% threshold that the foundational textbook says is pixie dust is the height of hubris.

        I am all for vaccination of high risk individuals. I am begging people all day. I am not so OK with taking away people’s livelihoods when there is little evidence that even if we reach the goal of 90% now that it would matter for longer than a few weeks/months.

        1. Objective Ace

          How does forcing a vaccine on someone that doesnt end up working save face?

          I guess if the PMC are drinking their own kool-aid maybe they think it would work and save face.. but if that were the case there’d be no need to save face in the first place, no?

        2. Basil Pesto

          I can’t go along with the national guard forced vaccinations speculation, but I have no desire to argue it with you so I’ll leave that to others.

          Instead, I offer my own speculation: an inevitable new variant will emerge and the authorities will use that as a pretext to say “okay, all bets are off, we’re going to put the ‘all-in on vaccines’ policy on the backburner for the moment” – pending development of superior vaccines or treatments.

          1. Cuibono

            never happen imo. our leaders never admit to failure like that. forced vaccinations? Nah. they are content to see everyone at each others throats, while they eat all the ice cream

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Yglesias doing a smidge of hyperbole shouldn’t cause anybody to reconsider anything.

              Who does the strapping down? Cops? The National Guard? The Army?

        3. skippy

          Gday Sir …

          Why so hard you pose … you mean like post 9/11 or Occupy to rescind habeas corpus or manifold increase the paramilitary apparatus all whilst any social good is given away to private equity or other financial consortium’s and all that facilitate this agenda get a seat somewhere on the life boat.

          “My wife and I more than once in our lives have sat on a dais with Democratic Presidents and First Ladies.”

          I am also somewhat familiar with this level of society and clearly remember a BBQ in pacific palisades and a conversation between some fathers about one fathers collage age daughter, rebel antics on mothballed military property and how she was rolling the dice on her future, because how it might effect working for anyone with a government contract. Yet in her family home in Bel Air there was 4 photos on the wall going down the stairs with the last 4 presidents/first lady arm in arm at some BBQ. Hence the perception was not about her pol-sci grievances but notions of future income.

          BTW I forwarded a comment you posted with a reply from C_14 to my new Virologist mate about ethics and his immediate response was “these are not those days any more”. This is an American born and educated at CU with 17 years post grad status and currently working in Academia around where I live. I would only add that it seems there is a round of redundancies and letting go of people where he works due to economic fall out from covid [eg. demand certification stop loss], 2 to do the work of 5 thingy, but is safe due to being self funded …. so …. I posit to you that the economics of the neoliberal period is the matrix that drives these outcomes and not the people per se or the scientific pursuits in of themselves and it has its own demand pull baked in to each new age cohort.

          Hell of a thing mate… hope due to your networks you can rally the discipline to challenge the agenda that infects its social function and its reason to exist so it can uplift humanity.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > hope due to your networks you can rally the discipline to challenge the agenda that infects its social function and its reason to exist so it can uplift humanity.

            Hear hear [loud cheering sound].

            On “the matrix that drives these outcomes,” see Interfluidity here; this makes David Brooks look a not-very-bright child. One thing to consider about the younger medicos who (stigmatizing wildly) take CRTs for gospel and look at their iPads instead of their patients is that they’re all up to their eyeballs in debt. Cancelling college debt would free a lot them not to sell their souls. One reason Democrats will never do it.

            1. saywhat?

              Cancelling college debt would free a lot them not to sell their souls Lambert

              Extrapolating, one might even think that government privileges for private credit creation are “balmy” and not the reverse.

              1. skippy

                The Government does not and has not rescinded its abilities to control its currency, albeit it’s, has been effected by forces and their agency to favor others, this fact does nothing to change the historical sore spot about credit for some camps.

            2. skippy

              “see Interfluidity here”

              Oh don’t I know it Lambert, been watching it since the 70s as a kid and then in my C-corp MBA days, tried to remove myself from its clutches by downsizing to small niche business, too no avail, and have only found sanctuary in my current employ.

              Which in a funny way now enables me to pass on information from NC et al and my life experiences onto the professional class through a friendly non confrontational manner. Sorta the Amfort painter down under moving through the nicer inter city rings as it were ….

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Forced vaccination

        A government mandate is backed by force by definition. That’s what gives the dollar value.

        Strapping somebody to a chair and injecting them is media fodder and unlikely to happen (unless the Democrat base gets so crazed that’s what they double down to).

        So I think this comment is a straw man. Brute force is not the only form of force the State can apply.

  6. fresno dan

    “For many, the belated realization that Covid will be ‘a long war’ sparks anger and denial” [STAT].

    I read an article that mentioned that only about 50% of the population of the US was vaccinated against polio from 1955 to 1961. Now, being about 6 years old at the time of my polio vaccination, my memories of polio vaccination and the zeitgeist at the time are probably not the most accurate, so I tried to find a source for that contention.
    Here it is:
    Between April 1955, when the national poliomyelitis vaccination program was started, and September 1961 about threefifths of the population of the United States under 60 years of age had received at least one inoculation of Salk vaccine, about one-half had completed the series of three inoculations, and one-thire had received the booster inoculation.
    Now, if you are of a certain age, you may remember the March of Dimes, Iron Lungs, and the general horror about getting polio, and the idea that EVERYONE was vaccinated in a year or two against polio. As Mark Twian supposedly said: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
    So it appears that the percentage of Americans vaccinated in one year for covid has reached the same percentage as were vaccinated against polio in about 6 years.
    I remember readings a book about vaccination a couple of decades ago, and the fact is that there has always been a significant portion of the population that are vaccine skeptics. Maybe some public health officials know for sure most people go out and get vaccinated, but it just ain’t so…

    1. marcyincny

      I’d be curious to know how people remember their polio vaccines. I was also very young and in elementary school. I remember lining up once for an injection and then again some time later for a dose of the Sabin oral vaccine.

      1. Carla

        I don’t remember actually getting the vaccine. But I do remember that as young child, I was not permitted to go to Euclid Beach Amusement Park for at least a couple of summers because my mother was convinced I would contract polio there. And then, we could go. Whee!!!

        I remember it in the 1950’s as a magical place, perched on a cliff above Lake Erie (our inland ocean). Little did I know that before I was born it had been rigidly segregated and as a result was the site of the “Euclid Beach Race Riot” in 1946.

  7. Carolinian

    Have they lost their minds?

    Rhetorical question?

    And re that Arizona dairy–Edward Abbey said that it was agriculture that desertified AZ in the first place as the cows ate all the grass that once covered it. While not vouching for that explanation there’s no question that growing things like cotton in such a parched state indicates a here today, gone tomorrow mentality among the small farmers as well and not just the mega dairy. Here’s a story from today’s LAT about how they are losing that bet.


      1. Carolinian

        The High Country story says that farmer opposition blocked rural AZ water controls decades ago and this lack of controls undoubtedly accounts for the Saudis as well as that mega dairy (which took over a previous dairy). So the smaller agriculture that prevailed back then brought on the conditions that are putting them out of business now. Karma is a …..

        Cities like Phoenix and Tuscon have a controlled water plan for what that’s worth. Eventually there may not be enough for them either

  8. 1UnknownSubject

    The Biden admin was out cheering (or creating FOMO) today that 70% of adults are either fully vaccinated or have had one shot (The CDC announced late Monday that 180,762,301 people, or 70 percent of American adults, had received at least one dose, while 164,919,666 people, or 49.7 percent of the population, were fully vaccinated against COVID-19).

    Now couple this with 35.1M people (probably not all adults, perhaps a majority) who have had a positive test for Covid (source: CDC Stats), and we have to be pushing upwards of 80% vaccinated adults (assuming 2 facts – 1. That some people who were Covid positive still chose to get vaxxed and 2. some did not so they do not show up in the vaxxed column).

    Additionally, I am not even counting the estimate that for every positive case, there were several unreported/undetected. (1 in 4.2 (95% UI* 3.6 – 4.9) COVID–19 infections were reported, source CDC.) So that 35.1M could actually be another 140M people according to the CDC’s own estimate. If I use the CDC estimate, that is (35.1 reported cases * 4.2 and I get 140M. Add in the vaccinated with at least 1 shot 180M which then equals about 320M with either a full vaxx, 1 shot, or natural immunity . Surely we have reached herd immunity if we say the US has roughly 330M people. 320M/330M and that is 96% of the population.

    So (rhetorically) why the incessant push for a mandate on the 10M not vaxxed or with natural immunity?

    1. marcyincny

      I’ve also been wondering about the points you raise. Given the UK has also had a high rate of infection I don’t understand why there’s been so little discussion of genuine herd immunity accounting for the drop in the UK. Could we be ‘lucky’ enough to see the same thing here in a month or so? …or will we breed a new resistant variant before then?

      1. Michaelmas

        I don’t understand why there’s been so little discussion of genuine herd immunity accounting for the drop in the UK.

        Um, maybe because we’ve still no clear idea or data yet about to what extent genuine herd immunity in the UK does now exist? Remember, the UK has essentially turned itself into a petri dish for the delta variant and this is all playing out in real time. Thus, forex, COV19 deaths there took a bump up today to 138 from 24 yesterday — not great, though still within the bounds of the sort of mortality rates we see from seasonal flu epidemics.

        Also, given previous conservative ‘prioritize the economy’ disinformation efforts about the ease of gaining herd immunity from COV19 — even though with half the previously existing coronviruses, as with COV19, NO such easy immunity was possible and ‘let it rip’ policies might have meant the deaths of 1-2 percent of the population — nobody wants to encourage the morons to start up with the lies again.

        The good news is that half of the world’s genetic sequencing is done in the UK, and the NHS and the UK’s various research bodies are somewhat more open about putting up early results and pre-prints of studies, so you can go online and do searches to see some discussion of the initial results.

        That said, the UK has (1) much higher take-up rates on vaccines because people there may not trust the government but they trust the NHS; (2) has lower obesity rates; and (3) has primarily used the Oxford-AZ vaccine with longer durations between the two doses. So the US may never achieve the same vaccination take-up and those other two factors may also come into play.

  9. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Depression as a Disorder of Consciousness” [British Journal for the Philosophy of Science].

    Presented as a phenomenological approach to the analysis of depression (disorders of affect) in human primates as an inducement for the further normalization and wide public acceptance of “psychedelic psychiatry”.

    I suppose. Where,

    1. “Feelings of hopelessness (in particular, the loss of an ability to hope simplicter (‘existential hope’)
    rather than feeling hopeless about something).”

    Then again, “The more the universe seems comprehensible,” he wrote, “the more it also seems pointless.” “The universe doesn’t come laden with meaning; instead, you have to find your own.”


    The defining precept of existentialism remains one of, “INDIVIDUALISM” writ large [the narrative of the lone individual struggling against the forces of a hostile, indifferent universe] , that in turn is at the very core of modern economics, social arrangements, philosophy, morals/ethics, ect. How much of that theoretical ‘insight’ is culturally and historically defined, or bounded by the biases of the perceivers and creators of that theory, as opposed to a description of the way things actually are, i.e., universal, eternal law. It is assumed that because the ‘weak minded’ as opposed to the ‘tough minded’ are at a distinct genetic disadvantage, the established social hierarchy can remain comfortably intact.

    Further, ‘depression’, for some individuals, may be the consequence of fully realizing that Dukkha (Duhkha) is the true nature of all existence, i.e., impermanence, pain, sickness, old age, and death. The 2nd Law and increasing entropy is eventually the fate of all things in a material universe. The religiously inclined might view a depression as a ‘dark night of the soul’, a spiritual crisis involving initiation, that may take a lifetime, or many lifetimes.

    2. “Depression, on this view, involves a change in ‘existential feeling’ which corresponds to the sense of
    ‘world’ examined by phenomenologists such as Husserl, Heidegger and Mearlau-Ponty.”

    Where, it is assumed, that non-human animals have also read their Husserl, Heidegger, and
    Maurice Merleau-Ponty. What does that even mean? HINT:

    “Learned helplessness (LH) is a phenomenon discovered and explored initially by Seligman and his colleagues in the 1970s. Seligman concluded that it was the inability to control traumatic events, like the shocks, that led to a learned helpless phenotype. One of the major attractions of this model is that it is derived from the cognitive view of depression in which events are viewed negatively and interpreted as not controllable, leading to feelings of anxiety and helplessness when dealing with them. In summary, the exposure of animals to highly stressful uncontrollable events produces a model of depression characterized by an etiology and symptomatology that resembles clinical depression in humans and makes this an interesting and reliable model to explore the pathophysiology of depression. The principal of early life stress model is that adverse events in early life substantially affect the development of psychiatric illnesses in late life, such as depression (Kendler et al., 2002) and psychosis (Morgan et al., 2007).”

    Further HINT: “Mental ill-health and poverty are closely linked and interact in a complex negative cycle”


    “Third, as hypothesized, this study shows the high rates of parental depressive symptoms and child DBDs statistically intersected amongst those in deep poverty, defined as an annual income $9,999 or less, annually. This finding supports the theory of social causation (Hudson, 2005), which posits that there is an inverse relationship between poverty level and mental health, as both parents and children who were within the lowest income levels were at the highest risk for adverse mental health outcomes.”

    “The intersection of extreme poverty and familial mental health in the United States”


    1. Lee

      Being poor is depressing. Who knew?

      Constitutionally, and currently augmented by advanced years, I am often during the course of a day fixated upon the great contradiction between being and nothingness. I find myself of late in the powerful grip of a sense that all, including myself are but ghostly ephemera, until I stub my toe or get into a wrangle with my ex or my health insurer.

  10. Another Scott

    The Cleveland Browns are owned by Jimmy Haslam, brother of former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, and more importantly CEO of Pilot Flying J. Not only was Pilot Flying J the product of an anti-competitive merger between two rivals, but also over saw massive rebate-fraud. They stole millions of dollars from their customers and got away with less than $100 million in fines. Haslam, of course, was ultimately not charged by the Obama justice department.

  11. rowlf

    Dang. Flipped on the big city news to play while going through bills and a Woka-Cola commercial was playing. The ad showed red cans pouring out granulated suger, obese young and old actors looking sad and measuring their waistlines, and insulin testing and diabetes injections while a jingly song played. Someone is ticked off that the Atlanta political machine twisted some local business arms to take political stands.

  12. Keith

    Cuomo food fight looks like it will be entertaining. It appears he will not roll over and take like Franken did, but rather fight it out. His response, with pictures of Biden, Harris, Obama, Clinton and Bush engaging in their own public love fests.


    PS, according to Drudge, Biden has called on Cuomo to resign, as did the Franken slayer Gillibrand.

    I am sure this was what the DNC wanted with Congress heading into recess, well along with a likely loss for Biden’s new eviction moratorium, plus debt ceiling and govt funding fights with a restless AOC. Should be a fun fall.

    With all that said, any news on the SALT Caucus? Haven’t heard from them and wondering if they will be coming out of the woodwork anytime soon.

    1. bob

      James, the ag, already said that this is all “civil”. There is no plan for her office to charge him criminally.

      The 2 ny senators already called for him to step down months ago. He didn’t.

      Cuomo will have to be dragged out of that office. If by some fluke he agrees to leave, it will be because he has complete control over his replacement. He’s dug into NY like a tick.

      He and trump are the same guy.

    2. tegnost

      If, as it appears, the new eviction moratorium is means tested, that means they get credit for doing nothing. Winning!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > His response, with pictures of Biden, Harris, Obama, Clinton and Bush engaging in their own public love fests.

      Excellent. If Cuomo takes them all down with him, I am here for it.

      Adding, the pictures are excellent, especially of Cuomo embracing his mother. He went pretty easy on Biden, though, so I assume this is a warning shot.

  13. allan

    Missouri governor pardons gun-waving St. Louis lawyer couple [AP]

    Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday announced that he made good on his promise to pardon a couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators as they marched past the couple’s home in a luxury St. Louis enclave last year. …

    Parson’s legal team has been working through a backlog of clemency requests for months.

    He hasn’t yet taken action on longtime inmate Kevin Strickland, who several prosecutors now say is innocent of a 1978 Kansas City triple homicide. Parson could pardon Strickland, but he has said he’s not convinced he is innocent.

    Parson is obviously suffering from economic anxiety in the first degree.

  14. RMO

    “Olympians Describe Their Biggest Heartbreaks At The Games”

    That reminds me, did anyone catch the men’s being eaten by a crocodile event? Did Britain win?

  15. Geo

    In the midst of a pandemic, the ecosystem collapsing, millions being evicted, and most people losing hope of things getting better in their lifetimes, Valerie Jarrett in on social media asking us to donate $60 to Obama to celebrate his 60th birthday at Martha’s Vineyard.


    The reply comments are fun. Don’t think she’s getting the celebratory response she expected.

    1. Acacia

      Thanks for this. It’s encouraging to read that for a great many, Saint O. has lost his halo.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The fix was in. Methinks that it’s time for Nina Turner to say goodbye to the Democrats. Paula Jean Swearingen just did.

      1. Hepativore

        We are probably going to find out from various sources just how extensively the election laws were broken or ignored in Brown’s favor and how there will be absolutely no consequences whatsoever as the DNC will argue that their privilege to annoint their favored candidates also extends to Congressional races, and if they “cheated” we plebes can suck it up as there is not a damn thing we can do about it.

      2. PHLDenizen

        The Representative from the United States of Israel apparently won. Although Turner now has good intelligence for 2022…

    2. Daryl

      Democrats must be so excited — just like when their favored candidate Manchin won the primaries.

    3. allan

      Daniel Marans @danielmarans:

      With an update from Dem Action PAC, the pro-Turner super PAC, the totals for either side are:

      Either pro-Turner or anti-Brown: $904k

      Either pro-Brown or anti-Turner: ~$2.7M

      Forget about it Jake, it’s Clyburntown.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Can we finally retire the canard that progressives have a home in the Dem Party? Jesus H Christ. How many times do you have to get punched in the face before you fall down?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      There never really was any data on Ohio 11 that I could see. I would periodically look, and find nothing.

      Turner got clobbered, despite a ton of progressive money from out of the district:

      I don’t know what Brown’s fundraising numbers were, but my impression [I am wrong; see Allan’s comment above] was that Turner outraised her, and that Brown’s Republican and Israeli money wasn’t enough to make up the difference.

      This is why I was really dubious about the Sanders royalty parachuting in at the last minute. Premature victory celebration. And not all of them were winners. Some but not all.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Wonderfully clarifying!

          I love Bob’s metaphor of Cuomo “dug into NY like a tick.” Same for Clyburn, same for Brown in a couple of years, same for the Black Misleadership Class generally.

          I know it’s bad, bad, bad to classify your political opponents as vermin. Those little sucking mouthparts, though….

  16. a fax machine

    re: infrastructure, optimism

    ” The bill includes new language that would change Amtrak’s goal to “meet the intercity passenger rail needs of the United States” rather than achieving “a performance level sufficient to justify expending public money.” ”


    Additionally, Jim Costa of Fresno added an amendment which would pump $8bn/yr into high-speed rail. While not the best, it’s at least a start and would get existing projects to the finish line. The changes to Amtrak would begin to mold Amtrak into a true US National Mass Transit Network rather than sustainer service. Ideally, Amtrak on a whole would start generating a profit by 2035 which would allow for much faster network expansion/upgrades/track buyouts by 2050. Even if the world is in a catastrophic climate disaster by then, at least people would be able to get around without a bus or plane.

    1. tegnost

      “generate a profit”

      why does amtrak, a national rail service, need to make a profit?
      Uber doesn’t

  17. Samuel Conner

    > The reproducibility crisis is everywhere, I guess….

    The thought occurs that “ The Journal of Irreproducible Results” is badly named. Perhaps the founders were naive.

  18. VietnamVet

    Western propaganda is quite effective. Americans think they are #1. But in reality, there are two classes of people now in the 21st century North America; the various tribal indigenous people (around fifteen or so ethnicities including European descendant deplorables) and the diverse global Overseer Class ruling to benefit multi-National corporations and themselves. Not to mention the unrest in the USA due to the currently out of power Nationalistic Oligarchs.

    The over extraction of resources and the exploitation of humans to increase wealth of the rich was first exposed by declining American lifespans; in particular, the Sackler Family earning billions of dollars from opioid addiction. But it is the coronavirus pandemic and the climate-change driven wildfires that highlight the separation of the rulers from reality and the collapsing western society. The Masters of the Universe and the Managers simply have to believe the propaganda to get ahead. “mRNA vaccines are safe and effective”. But when the lies stop working, things fall apart.

    Transportation from North America’s West Coast is failing due to extraordinary fires, floods, and crew shortages.

  19. kareninca

    Just from looking, it seems that the slope of “New Confirmed Covid 19 cases per day” is steeper than the slope that led to Jan. 8th. And now we’re still not counting the vaccinated, unless they are hospitalized or die, right? So why shouldn’t we overshoot the Jan. 8th peak???

    1. thoughtful person

      Yes, I think you are right, especially if there is no change in behavior (maskless social gatherings indoors, windows closed). Fall winter peak will be higher still, like Fall 2020.

      Apparently Israel just went back to work from home, wear masks *outdoors* (already had indoor). And they have one of highest vaxx rates.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So why shouldn’t we overshoot the Jan. 8th peak???

      If things continue as they are, yes. But they might not. Remember, when Walensky was weeping? She expected an enormous peak after the Christmas holidays. Didn’t materialize. There’s a lot we don’t know.

  20. thoughtful person

    How can the US CDC hospitalizations numbers, in chart above, be accurate?

    If Florida is now at record level, Louisiana not far behind. Something seems fishy. And I have been suspect of Florida covid case numbers, but it’s harder to fudge actual people in hospital beds?

    From twitter:
    Eric Feigl-Ding
    · 15h
    BREAKING—Florida shatters its all time high daily record with 11,515 hospitalizations—the highest admissions per hospital bed in the US. FL’s 2020 year record was 10,170. Louisiana surging as well as rest of the South and part of the Southwest. Thread #COVID19

    1. The Rev Kev

      His other tweet is an eye-opener-

      ‘Eric Feigl-Ding
      7) Dr Mark Kline Physician-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans: “#DeltaVariant is every infectious disease specialist’s worst nightmare. There was a myth—that children were somehow immune—It has become very clear that children are heavily impacted” ‘
      – (1:19 min video)


    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Because Florida is one state, and it’s a big country. (Sadly, the only sorting available on that chart is by age, certainly not by income). From that biweekly CDC report:

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