2:00PM Water Cooler 8/4/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

The descending WOOO-wooo-woo-woo-woo is the Potoo. There is also the usual chorus of insects, along with a sharp cracking noise — snapping wood? Another insect?

* * *

#COVID19

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 falters a little.

Case count by United States regions:

As far as reaching the peak of January 8, 2021, with 295,257 cases per day … I’m not that pessimistic (modulo a new variant brought into the country by our ridiculously lax policies on international quarantines). What we might call, after Everest, the “First Step” (November 25, 2019) with 178,466 looks in striking distance, especially if the case count purple line continues go near vertical. When you look at those rising counties on the CDC map, you’ve got to think this rise has a way to run. But what do I know, I’m just a tape-watcher.

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.

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.

* * *

Politics

“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

“Top House Democrat says party would lose elections if they were held today: report” [The Hill]. “Politico reported Maloney made the remarks based off new polling conducted by the DCCC.” • Well, I think OH-11 shows the way forward: Republican and Israeli money.

UPDATE “House Dem campaign chief warns the majority at risk without message reboot” [Politico]. Story above is based on this. Sorry! “Party leaders are already stepping up their offense in response to the growing agita. A Democratic messaging blitz this month on Biden’s priorities is set to get help from a White House communications war room that will activate while members are back in their districts. Around the country, Biden’s Cabinet is being dispatched to talk up jobs and infrastructure in swing districts in states such as Iowa, New York and New Jersey. For now, it’s too early to say that Democrats have no path to keeping their majority. But they would need a lot of factors to break in their favor in order to hang on next November. For now, both parties remain neck-and-neck on fundraising, and the new congressional maps — which could largely determine Democrats’ fate — are still months out. Meanwhile, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are hustling to pass a massive Biden-led spending package that Democrats hope will further boost their chances of averting the historic pattern of a party in full control of Washington losing ground in its first midterm.” • Hustling? It’s [family blogging] August for [family blog’s] sake. If the Democrats think the retaining the filibuster is more important than winning the midterms, then [family blog] ’em. Democrats seem to think that passing a bill is enough. No. People need to see and spend the money.

UPDATE “Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits” [The Hill]. “Vaccine requirements typically allow exemptions for religious or medical reasons. Biden’s policy doesn’t specify any exemptions, instead allowing anyone who chooses not to vaccinate to undergo once or twice weekly testing and may face travel restrictions alongside the masking and social distancing requirements. It is unclear when the policy will take effect.”

Democrats en Deshabille

POSITION STATEMENT OF GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO CONCERNING THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS MADE AGAINST HIM” (PDF) [Rita M. Glavin GLAVIN PLLC, Attorney for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (Keith)]. • I haven’t read enough to comment on the merits, but the pictures, which show various political figures embracing, are splendid (though Glavin goes very light on Biden and Clinton). I think this is the best:

But I have to give credit to Cuomo for including his own mother:

If Cuomo wants to take down the entire Democrat Party apparatus for what he is being accused of, I’m here for it. Meanwhile, apparently it’s A-OK with liberal Democrats that a few thousand New York elders choked to death on their own lung tissue in the nursing homes Cuomo sent them to. Hardly an impeachable offense! No, Merrick [genuflects] Garland put that one safely back in the box.

“Biden Calls On New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo To Resign” [HuffPo]. “‘I think he should resign,’ Biden said at a press conference. He said he had not spoken to Cuomo ahead of calling for him to resign…. Cuomo was defiant Tuesday. He recorded a statement ― allowing for no questions from reporters ― making clear he intends to stay in office and fight the allegations, which he denied. He portrayed himself as a feminist hero and a champion of women, claiming that his concern and caring nature were just misunderstood…. In March, Biden said he believed Cuomo should resign if the harassment allegations against him were confirmed to be true. ‘I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too,’ Biden added at the time.”

UPDATE “Entire NY Democratic congressional delegation now calling for Cuomo’s resignation” [The Hill]. “Most of the 19 Congressional Democrats previously called for Cuomo to resign in in March. At the time, Jeffries, Meeks, and Suozzi were the only three New York House Democrats who did not.” • Now they are.

* * *

“S.F. Mayor Breed to be fined nearly $23,000 for series of ‘significant’ ethics violations while in office” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “San Francisco Mayor London Breed has agreed to pay a $22,792 city fine to settle allegations that she committed a series of ethics violations while in office, including asking former Gov. Jerry Brown to release her brother from prison and allowing Mohammed Nuru, the disgraced former head of Public Works, to pay for repairs to a car she owned. While it’s not unusual for city supervisors and candidates to be hit with fines from the Ethics Commission, Breed, who is also accused of failing to properly report a 2015 campaign contribution, appears to be the first sitting mayor in San Francisco to settle such a case, according to records. It is also one of the commission’s biggest fines in recent history. The proposed fine, first obtained by The Chronicle on Tuesday, is part of an agreement stating that Breed’s violations were ‘significant,’ involving the misuse of her title as mayor for personal gain.” • Hmm.

“The Truman Show How the 33rd president finagled his way to a post–White House fortune — and created a damaging precedent” [New York Magazine]. “What neither the general public nor the politicians that Truman successfully pressured [to create Presidential pensions] knew at the time was that this lobbying effort was based on falsehoods. Harry Truman was a very rich man on the day he left the White House, and he became a good deal richer in the five and a half years between that day and the passage of the FPA. Moreover, Truman departed from the White House with so much money because he apparently misappropriated what in today’s terms would be millions of dollars from the United States government. The relatively recent release of some of Truman’s financial records has made it possible to nail down the precise details of this story. Yet the fact that it has taken more than 60 years for that story to come to light also tells us a great deal about what could be called the politics of nostalgia: of the tendency of everyone from professional historians to the public at large to cast a sentimental haze around certain historical figures and periods, when we assume honorable men ruled the land and America was still truly great. This tendency has produced a historical myth about Harry Truman that still has contemporary consequences, as it continues to be deployed to rationalize the unjustifiable practice of showering millions of dollars per year of government benefits on our uniformly wealthy ex-presidents.” And: “A large portion of the wealth Truman accumulated during his years in the White House seems to have come from a more than $2 million (in 2021 terms) expense account that Congress created a few days before the beginning of his full elected term. Truman apparently illegally pocketed the bulk of this money and filed fraudulent tax returns to disguise that fact.” • Sigh.

Obama Legacy

“Obama scales back big birthday bash amid Covid worries” [CNN]. “This outdoor event was planned months ago in accordance with all public health guidelines and with covid safeguards in place,” Hannah Hankins, a spokeswoman for Obama, said in a statement Wednesday provided to CNN. “Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends.” • Or maybe he couldn’t make bank?

The responses to this seemed pretty scathing.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Nina Turner Learns the Hard Way That Democrats Like Joe Biden” [New York Magazine]. “Turner lost a special primary election for Congress in Cleveland on Tuesday to rival Shontel Brown, a county councilwoman, by a margin of 50-45 percent…. It seemed like a lock for Turner, a former state senator who raised the most money and went on TV the earliest. But then the campaign turned into an intra-Democratic proxy fight between the party’s left wing and “normie Democrats.” Although Turner was originally a vocal leader in the “Ready for Hillary” Clinton presidential effort in 2014, she became one of Bernie Sanders’s most prominent surrogates in the actual 2016 presidential campaign…. This was an opportunity for Brown, her top opponent in a splintered field, to turn the race into a referendum on Biden and loyalty to the Democratic Party in a district heavily populated by Black and Jewish members of the party’s base.” • Accepting for the sake of the argument that OH-11 was a nationalized race, I’d turn this around: 45% of Democrat voters are perfectly happy comparing voting for Biden to eating “half a bowl of shit” instead of a whole one. That to me suggests that “Democrats Like Joe Biden” is subject to dynamics not necessarily apparent from the windows of the Acela (assuming the curtains are open). Here is a map of where Brown won and where Turner won:

Looks like Turner did well in central Cleveland, not so well in Akron. Why? And so forth.

Sirota takes the Acela view, though in despair, not schadenfreude:

I think everybody should try to stay calm. For example, people erase that Sanders won California. There are plenty of Democrats — and in some jurisdictions, a majority — who don’t want corporate rule (and again, the issue with 2020 is why Biden won Texas). The possibility also exists that Turner didn’t run a very good campaign; her role in South Carolina, for example, was said to be not stellar (which doesn’t detract from Turner’s personal virtues or political views in the slightest). Since the reporting on all of this has been so light, we’ll have to wait for some local post mortems — or the views of Ohio readers.

“More on the Movement for a People’s Party: Authoritarian, Inept Leadership Plus Bird-Brained Political PR Stunts Leading to Disaster” [Washington Babylon]. Bracing stuff. One nugget: “But member attrition is the least of [Movement for a People’s Party’s] worries. In my last article, I suggested that it had about $80,000 cash on hand, a paltry sum for a group pledging to run multiple congressional campaigns by the next electoral cycle. According to their latest filing, updated just in the nick of time on July 30 at 11:51PM (9 minutes before the deadline), it had only added about $25,000 to its coffers. In a national call on May 27, [National Coordinator Nick] Brana had confidently asserted that MPP would raise 50 percent more than the Green Party. It’s clear, however, that he was either lying or that the MPP had a disastrous second quarter.” • There was also a donnybrook over the party logo. I remember the same donnybrook over trade dress when I followed the Greens.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “July 2021 ADP Employment Grew 330,000” [Econintersect]. “ADP reported non-farm private jobs growth of 330,000 which was below expectations. A quote from the ADP authors: ‘The slowdown in the recovery has also impacted companies of all sizes. Bottlenecks in hiring continue to hold back stronger gains, particularly in light of new COVID-19 concerns tied to viral variants.'” • Let’s wait for the BLS tomorrow.

Services: “United States Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Services PMI was revised slightly higher to 59.9 in July of 2021, from a preliminary estimate of 59.8. The upturn softened to the slowest since February, but was much quicker than the series average. Contributing to the less marked upturn in output was a softer rise in new business. Nonetheless, domestic and foreign client demand remained historically strong.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI rose to 64.1 in July 2021, from 60.1 in the previous month and well above market expectations of 60.5. The latest reading pointed to the steepest pace of expansion in the service sector since comparable records began in 1997, as business activity and new orders rose at sharp rates, due to growing demand following the easing of coronavirus-induced restrictions.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “You Won’t See Teslas in India Anytime Soon” [Bloomberg]. “If India wants to implement a China-style, top-down industrial policy, it has its work cut out. Opening up to foreign manufacturers would be a start, but it must learn to be nimble as successes mount. Tesla’s sales to China started to comprise a big portion of revenue as early as 2017, before the company began manufacturing there. While that was partly thanks to relatively low import tax rates of 25% at the time, it also reflected Beijing’s desire to build out the market. The government’s stance helped electric cars gain traction, boosting the entire supply chain and tipping off a self-fulfilling cycle of hype. When it was time to let foreign carmakers in, Beijing had its own budding electric champions. Now Tesla is exporting cars from its Shanghai factory to Europe. As China knows all too well, building a large auto industry isn’t the same as creating a high-quality, domestic one. State planners’ years-long struggle to produce the best cars in the world were hampered by unfocused subsidies and plans. With green vehicles, however, Beijing’s policies have evolved year after year, targeting separate parts of the value chain — from consumers and manufacturers to the types and quality of batteries. That’s precisely what India needs now — its own holistic model that touches on auto parts, infrastructure and consumer incentives for electrics and hybrids.” • Ya know, we used to call that “holistic model” “central state planning.”

Tech: “Sunisa Lee blames Twitter for Olympic bronze medal performance” [NBC]. “Lee, who earned gold at the Tokyo Olympics in the individual all-around but considered bars to be her strongest event, missed a few connections during her routine. Now, she said she’s going to ‘stay off social media for a little bit.’ ‘I’m probably going to delete Twitter,’ Lee told People. ‘Instagram is not as bad because I can’t really see what people say, but [on] Twitter it’s just so easy to see everything. So I’m probably going to have to end up deleting that.'”

Tech: Not wrong:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 25 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 3 at 12:29pm.

Health Care

“The C.D.C. Needs to Stop Confusing the Public” [Zeynep Tufecki, New York Times]. Tufecki is measured in her tone, but she says here what Yves and I have been saying for a long time, and it’s brutal. She concludes:

The Epidemic Intelligence Service unit of the C.D.C. has a core principle that needs to remain at the forefront of everything the administration does: A pandemic is a communications emergency as much as it is a medical crisis. Effective communication is much more than choosing the right words. It needs a wholesale approach starting with clarity of purpose, a realistic assessment of where things are including factors outside the agency’s control, collection and presentation of detailed data when possible and an open acknowledgment of uncertainty and underlying reasoning when precautionary steps are being advised. The agency must have a laser focus on what it can do with what it has, despite the challenges, rather than looking for justifications for what doesn’t work well — even if those exist.

So remember, C.D.C.: Be first, be right and be credible. The conditions may not be ideal, but that’s the job.

Worth reading in full. There’s also a fine play-by-play on CDC’s botched change in masking guidance.

“Analysis: Don’t Want a Vaccine? Be Prepared to Pay More for Insurance.” [Elisabeth Rosenthal and Glenn Kramon, Kaiser Health News]. “Tough love might be easier if the Food and Drug Administration gives vaccines full approval, rather than the current emergency use authorization. Even so, taxpayer-financed plans like Medicaid and Medicare must treat everyone the same and would encounter a lengthy process to secure federal waivers to experiment with incentives, according to Larry Levitt, executive vice president of KFF, a nonprofit focusing on health issues. (Kaiser Health News, where Rosenthal is editor-in-chief, is one program under KFF.) These programs cannot charge different rates to different patients in a state. KFF polling shows such incentives are of limited value, anyway. Many holdouts say they will be vaccinated only if required to do so by their employers. But what if the financial cost of not getting vaccinated were just too high? If patients thought about the price they might need to pay for their own care, maybe they would reconsider remaining unprotected.” • Rosenthal, once the Times health reporter, is now editor-in-chief of KHN. There’s a lot of unpack here, starting with the infantilization of “tough love.” We also see why Rosenthal might prefer existing health care to single payer (“Medicaid and Medicare must treat everyone the same,” heaven forfend). Note that while Rosenthal thinks FDA approval is a nice-to-have, not a have-to-have. So, what we have here is deregulation and (hmm) the merger of State and corporation to achieve Rosenthal’s policy goal. This is also amazing: “A harsher society might impose tough penalties on people who refuse vaccinations and contract the virus.” So, Rosenthal’s advocacy of financial muscle isn’t “harsh”?

UPDATE “F.D.A. Aims to Give Final Approval to Pfizer Vaccine by Early Next Month” [New York Times]. “President Biden said last week that he expected a fully approved vaccine in early fall. But the F.D.A.’s unofficial deadline is Labor Day or sooner, according to multiple people familiar with the plan. The agency said in a statement that its leaders recognized that approval might inspire more public confidence and had ‘taken an all-hands-on-deck approach’ to the work.” Pfizer filed on May 7. Moderna filed on June 1, “but the company is still submitting data and has not said when it will finish.” Johnson and Johnson will file later this year. “Full approval of the Pfizer vaccine will kick off a patchwork of vaccination mandates across the country.” “Full approval typically requires the F.D.A. to review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents — roughly 10 times the data required to authorize a vaccine on an emergency basis. The agency can usually complete a priority review within six to eight months and was already working on an expedited timetable for the Pfizer vaccine.” Six months from May 7 is 183 days. From May 7 to Labor Day is 122 days. So FDA would need to hack around 60 days off their schedule. “The regulators want to see real-world data on how the vaccine has been working since they authorized it for emergency use in December. That means verifying the company’s data on vaccine efficacy and immune responses, reviewing how efficacy or immunity might decline over time, examining new infections in participants in continuing clinical trials, reviewing adverse reactions to vaccinations and inspecting manufacturing plants.” • If you read Yves post on Pfizer’s consent form, you’ll see that “verifying the company’s data” is no easy task. And then there’s this gem:

Officials in Contra Costa County, home to 1.1 million people in Northern California, were so eager to offer boosters that on July 23 they told vaccine providers to give extra shots to people who asked for them “without requiring further documentation or justification.”

Then, realizing that policy violated the F.D.A. rules on vaccines authorized for emergency use, the county reversed it this week.

When the PMC hive mind comes to a consensus, that over-rides both law and the regulatory process. That’s where we are!

Sports Desk

“Many ‘twisties’ and turns, but Simone Biles exits Games a champion” [Reuters]. “While Biles did not rewrite the Olympic record book as planned, she did leave an indelible mark on the Tokyo Games, changing the narrative from winning medals to championing athlete mental health and well-being…. ‘Mentally I still have a lot of things that I have to work on but to bring the topic of conversation on mental health to light means the world to me,’ said Biles. ‘People have to realise that at the end of the day we’re humans, we’re not just entertainment.'” • Or perhaps Citius – Altius – Fortius all have physical/material limits, and Biles was at them?

Zeitgeist Watch

Pay attention!

For whatever reason, this horrid ad keeps showing up in my timeline:

I think the shadowy silhouette of the dude at the start and finish of the ad is truly creepy. Who is he, Patrick Bateman?

Under the Influence

“‘I Got a Second Chance’: From Puff Daddy to Diddy to Love” [Tressie McMillan Cottom, Vanity Fair]. “HAIR, MARCUS P. HATCH; GROOMING, LUCIA RODRIGUEZ (SEAN COMBS). HAIR, SHANNA ANISE THOMASSON; MAKEUP, ASHLIE DOXEY (CHANCE COMBS, D’LILA STAR COMBS, JESSIE JAMES COMBS). TAILOR, TATYANA CASSANELLI. SET DESIGN, BETTE ADAMS. PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS: BYRON NICKLEBERRY, KENDALL PACK, WILLIAM AZCONA, CHRIS NOWLING; SET DESIGN ASSISTANTS: GEORGE DEACON, JASON VALDEZ, JEREMY REIMNITZ; FASHION ASSISTANTS: OLOLADE AIYEKU, JUN CHOI, SAMANTHA GASMER; POST-PRODUCTION: PICTUREHOUSE+THESMALLDARKROOM; SPECIAL THANKS: BEN BONNET, ZOE MCNICOL, MILK STUDIOS. PRODUCED ON LOCATION BY WESTY PRODUCTIONS. FOR DETAILS, GO TO VF.COM/CREDITS.” • I’m reading this, and — I hope I’m not being unkind — my first though was that Cottom was angling to be the next Oprah. Good for her, I suppose. The article is beautifully written, but a little too rich for my blood.

Gunz

“America is on a gun-buying spree. Here’s what is driving the surge” [CNN]. From June, still germane. “About 40% of buyers in early 2020 were first-time buyers, according to the [National Shooting Sports Federation]. In 2020, half of all gun buyers were women, researchers say. One-fifth were Hispanic, and one-fifth were Black, according to the Northeastern University & Harvard Injury Control Research Center. It’s women and people of color, like Armstrong, who are helping gun sales surge around the country.” • Well, that’s interesting. I would imagine the new buys see guns as weaponry, as opposed to fetish objects or cosplay?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Who Actually Gets to Create Black Pop Culture?” [Current Affairs]. “A closer look at the economics of Black pop culture reveals that most Black creators (outside music) come from middle-to-upper middle class backgrounds, while the Black poor are written about but rarely get the chance to speak for themselves.” “Outside music” is a pretty big qualifier though! And: “In total, Black students from poor families received 1.4 percent of all the bachelor’s degrees handed out in 2020; the other 98.6 percent of those degrees went to students from other backgrounds. ”

Class Warfare

“Column: California’s usury law caps loan rates. Bizarrely, most lenders are exempt” [Los Angeles Times]. It’s all horrid, but I think this is the best sentence: “[T]rade groups representing financial services say a 36% national rate cap would be harmful to consumers.” • 36%?!?!?!?!?

“Where Are The Robotic Bricklayers?” [Construction Physics]. “Masonry seemed like the perfect candidate for mechanization, but a hundred years of limited success suggests there’s some aspect to it that prevents a machine from easily doing it. This makes it an interesting case study, as it helps define exactly where mechanization becomes difficult – what makes laying a brick so different than, say, hammering a nail, such that the latter is almost completely mechanized and the former is almost completely manual? There seems to be a few factors at work. One is the fact that a brick or block isn’t simply set down on a solid surface, but is set on top of a thin layer of mortar, which is a mixture of water, sand, and cementitious material. Mortar has sort of complex physical properties – it’s a non-newtonian fluid, and it’s viscosity increases when it’s moved or shaken. This makes it difficult to apply in a purely mechanical, deterministic way (and also probably makes it difficult for masons to explain what they’re doing – watching them place it you can see lots of complex little motions, and the mortar behaving in sort of strange not-quite-liquid but not-quite-solid ways). And since mortar is a jobsite-mixed material, there will be variation in it’s properties from batch to batch.” • Lots of tacit knowledge, and inconsistent materials. Robot cars foundered on the same issues, did they not?

News of the Wired

Fun:

And possibly metaphorical…

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

AM writes: “The rose garden in Roger Williams Park, Providence RI brought a bit of color to my walk. Love roses.”

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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.

165 comments

  1. NotTimothyGeithner

    (though Glavin goes very light on Biden and Clinton).

    I figure it was a message. Bill Clinton was too obvious. Outside the KHive, no one is that ignorant.

    1. PHLDenizen

      This is the same Rita Glavin who was appointed by that POS Judge Lewis Kaplan as a private prosecutor for the RICO case against Steven Donziger. Glavin is acting as the “government”. Kaplan got salty that the SDNY had no desire to go after Donziger and opted to act as a “government” proxy for Chevron.

      I’m not particularly surprised Cuomo chose Glavin, since I’m sure she and Kaplan are busy devising some other perversion of justice to grant him escape. Maybe they’ll organize another RICO case against his accusers.

  2. zagonostra

    >“Biden Calls On New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo To Resign” [HuffPo].

    I’m sure that carries a lot of moral force after Tara Reade’s revelations.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        ” If Biden wants me to resign, let him come up here and resign me in person.”

        –Andy ” Ratface” Cuomo

    1. CoryP

      This is off topic, but whatever it’s water cooler and I have nobody else to ask.

      I’ve been listening to Blocked and Reported a lot and their liberal-left opinion is that the Tara Reade accusations were somehow debunked. They’ve never described it explicitly but it’s been obliquely mentioned as if it’s a settled case.

      I’m so saturated in Lefty stuff that I don’t even know where to go for the best rendition of that argument. Anybody know? Jesse Singal seems like a guy whose opinions are well considered, though it’s possible he’s just repeating received wisdom on this one.
      .

      1. Daryl

        My admittedly shoddy memory is that that story just… disappeared. I don’t recall any attempt to debunk it.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > and their liberal-left opinion is that the Tara Reade accusations were somehow debunked.

        I think Reade made a prima facie case — most certainly stronger than [genuflects] Christine Blasey Ford did.

        The usual suspects tore into the story, and then disappeared it and Reade. I don’t know what forum other than the courts would have given Reade a hearing, but she certainly didn’t get one.

        Adding, it certainly does seem that #BelieveWomen is selectively applied. One can only wonder why.

  3. Big River Bandido

    Fitting that The New Yorker tries to build up Shontel Brown in the same issue they attempt to cancel Harry Truman.

    1. caucus99percenter

      You mean New York magazine. Though their political biases may be similar, New York magazine and The New Yorker are two different publications.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Ah. Right you are.

        And I wouldnt trust either publication, any farther than I can spit.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think in both — at this point, maybe all — cases, one trusts the writer rather than the venue. That said, about the two venues–

          I think the New Yorker has gone rotten to the core; all its regulars — Hi, Adam Gopnik! [waves] — have gone soft. Ditto all the regular departments, like Talk of the Town. Ditto the cartoons. Occasionally one of the long-form articles is good. It’s the tragic destruction of a great American institution. And they can’t even see it.

          New York Magazine is a different beast altogether. For one thing, they have a lot of silos, like The Cut, The Strategist, and so on. I think that keeps them open to the zeitgeist in a way that the claustrophobic bell jar that is the New Yorker is not. And I do like some of the writers, who are at least capable of making a rigorous argument even if I disagree with it; for example, Eric Levitz. New York Magazine seems to be actively working through what it covers, as opposed to the stale, flat preening of The New Yorker.

  4. saywhat?

    For whatever reason, this horrid ad, [for gold] keeps showing up in my timeline: lambert

    Until we choose to implement the ethical creation and use of inexpensive fiat – that is, for the general welfare and not for the private welfare of the banks and the rich, a return to gold worship, rather than ethics, is a danger.

    1. Sub-Boreal

      In Canada, this ad is in heavy rotation on the CBC News Network – it’s on at least once during the evening news program every night. CBC NN apparently caters to a heavily Boomer demographic, so this must be considered the ideal target audience for preservation of capital worries.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m not sure she claimed that? Ritalin is of course a form of amphetamine which is why it used to be banned for competition. They only recently brought in TUE’s for it. A surprising number of athletes claimed to have ADHD as a result. It is a little reminiscent of the 1980’s, when nearly every runner seemed to have asthma, which had nothing to do with this allowing them to use ephedrine (another stimulant) in competition.

      Its a while back, but I think Scott Alexander wrote about Ritalin and similar medications that they seemed to lose all impact after 2 years of use, so after that its effect was almost entirely as a placebo.

      I assume her problem is the same as the ‘yips’ as they call it in golf – nearly every sport that requires intense mental focus seems to have an equivalent. Its terribly unfortunate that it hit her at the wrong time.

      1. flora

        The ‘yips’ are real. On the golf course there’s no danger of bodily injury. In high-level gymnastics, however,…. Thanks.

      2. QuicksilverMessenger

        Re ‘the yips’. Johnny Miller, probably one of the greatest ball strikers in the history of golf, succumbed to the yips. He probably would have had a much more impressive career had it not been for the putting yips. But isn’t this incredible ‘intense mental focus’ also part of the game? That is, isn’t the ability not to succumb to intense pressure also part of the overall test of one’s capability in any sport? In our example of golf, Nicklaus didn’t hit the ball as well as Miller, but he was an ice cold competitor who was seemingly un-perturbable. But of course, this is very high-level competition we’re talking about so just about impossible to judge what it’s like to be in that position.

        1. Arakawa

          I recommend watching the archery competitions because, in essence, that sport is nothing but intense mental focus. It’s interesting to see who can maintain steady concentration, who starts very strong but wears down over time and needs to gather focus again, and who can miss the bulls-eye when they’re ahead but always answers the opponent’s 10 with a 10.

          I don’t think that sport has room for people who complain about ‘the yips’.

          1. rowlf

            The shooting competitions are the same. Some of the old hands can climb the scoreboard in the finals. You’d suspect ice-water was flowing in their veins.

            I’m really bummed someone that I compete against (near?) in state matches qualified two places out of the final in Tokyo.

            1. Heretic

              > I’m really bummed someone that I compete against (near?) in state matches
              > qualified two places out of the final in Tokyo.

              This.

              LS:

              > Or perhaps Citius – Altius – Fortius all have physical/material limits,
              > and Biles was at them?

              Thank you, Lambert. The ongoing canonisation of Saint Simone is positively sick-making.

              What ever happened to ‘giving your all’? What ever happened to ‘there is no “i” ( I ) in “team”’? How many dozens of gymnasts who were perhaps one point behind Ms Biles in qualifying — and are therefore not at the Olympics — would have twisted their hearts out for a chance to represent their country on the world stage, without giving up? Simone Biles had a bad first attempt in one event. Impossible of course for anyone but she to know what went on in her head but it seems to me that a not unreasonable surmise would be that she panicked at the thought that she … might … not … win, and that maybe the steady stream of adulation she’s been basking in lo these recent years (GOAT?!?) might be diminished.

              And it’s not even like it was pain that caused her to quit. She had to think about her mental health. What’s next, mood? ‘Oh, I just don’t … feel … like jumping today’. Then what? ‘Couldn’t I do it on Tuesday, instead?’

              There’s a saying in certain quarters: ‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime’. Similarly, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.’ There’s nothing disgraceful about an athlete who strives but loses a competition. But taking up space on an elite team without a 100% commitment to putting oneself on the line does seem somewhat less than honourable.

              1. Yves Smith

                I have a different point of view.

                Gymnastics is not and should not be a team sport. They all perform independent of each other.

                And unlike say the running events or swimming, gymnasts at this level are running the risk of paralysis and death, Biles most of all with her envelope-pushing moves.

                I agree her mental health excuse was a lame way to frame it. But we showed, and perhaps you missed, the video of the vault she blew. She spun only 1 1/2 times when her routine was to spin 2 1/2 times. She landed pointing the opposite direction from which she had intended to land. Honestly, it was remarkable that she landed on her feet and not her head. And the vault is her best event. That level of error would be enough to freak anyone out.

                Athletes also clutch when they sense something wrong with their body, such as a strain that the performer doesn’t yet recognize as a injury. Trying to protect that can also lead to bad moves and falls.

              2. Basil Pesto

                Impossible of course for anyone but she to know what went on in her head

                but you’ll have a red hot go at guessing, anyway.

                I recommend reading this biography of Robert Enke before being so flippant about the mental heath of athletes and coming across as a bellend in the process.

                1. Heretic

                  I have a different point of view. That’s why I am, admittedly, a heretic. You can all me bellend or any other name you wish. I won’t be triggered. I won’t need to retreat to a safe space. I won’t have to shirk my commitments in order to think about my mental health. But thank you for the recommendation, in any case.

        2. Basil Pesto

          I think the yips is a bit more complicated than succumbing to intense pressure. Like, chipping and putting are pretty rudimentary techniques compared to full swings – as in they’re mechanically quite simple. but the yips, when they strike, make the player look like an absolute beginner. That amounts to more than just choking, I think. The New Yorker had a great article on the phenomenon some years back. Here’s an excerpt:

          Athletes and sports fans have generally assumed that yipping and its variants are forms of performance anxiety, or choking. It’s true that nervous athletes often play poorly, and that yipping is most evident when the stakes are high, and that even serious sufferers are sometimes able to perform in practice or while playing alone. Yet many yippers are veterans of competition at the highest levels, who never showed a tendency to buckle under stress; many others are casual players who have trouble even when the pressure is low.

    2. Temporarily Sane

      Maybe I’m being too cynical about this but could the ADHD meds angle be part of a PR attempt to mitigate the backlash she got in some quarters for “being a quitter”? Or, given that exemptions for Ritalin are available, perhaps it’s just another media “free speculation” filler piece to squeeze the most clicks out of a story.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I sort of figured this was the Russians simply responding to the US foreign policy through the IOC in a simple tit for tat operation.

        1. Hazel Down

          It does seem odd that the Larry Nassar component is so rarely mentioned. I wouldn’t have known anything about it but for the commentariat.

  5. Watt4Bob

    what makes laying a brick so different than, say, hammering a nail, such that the latter is almost completely mechanized and the former is almost completely manual?

    While the hammer may have been replaced to some extent by air-tools, that doesn’t amount to its being “completely mechanized”.

    Whether he or she is holding a hammer or a pneumatic driver, their activity is still manual.

    You won’t see any robots framing houses any time soon.

    1. marku52

      I’ve done setting concrete blocks. It aint as easy as it looks, and I’m pretty handily versatile

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          From watching the video it looked to me as if the bunch of guys with hammers were there more as a quality check than because a machine could not place and start the joining hardware. I may have got it wrong — didn’t the machine that rode over the joist after the hardware was placed complete the set of the hardware?

          As I watched the video I started to wonder about the old iron and steel structures and whether they might not return to greater use through application of similar equipment for cutting and welding steel trusses.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Irish brickies refer to the mortar process as ‘buttering’ bricks, which always seemed appropriate to me. There is something of an art to getting it just right, something I never quite perfected.

      I think another issue with mechanising bricks is that good brickies have an eye for the natural variation in bricks and so prevent those horrible buildings where you see an unintended band where a slightly off colour batch is laid in one section. Just looking at the brick facade of any building is I think a very good indicator of whether it was built under the management of a value engineer or surveyor, or someone with genuine pride in making a good building. If brickwork is bad, the entire building is likely to be cheap and nasty from foundations upwards.

      For brick obsessives, the British Library in London is an amazing sight. The architect drove numerous brickies to quit due to his insistence on having the most precise brick walls ever made. He even insisted that internal brick walls that were to be rendered had to have the same standards as the external walls. Unsurprisingly, the building went massively over budget and was more than a decade late opening.

      A lot of large modern brick clad buildings are essentially mechanised in construction. They are laid on plates which are then lifted and clipped into place without any brickie going near it. The result is invariably deeply boring buildings. Real brick has texture and beauty, the variation is part of the appeal.

      1. Watt4Bob

        I found this video that purports to show a robot build a brick house in two days.

        If you follow the link, it actually shows a robot stack bricks in the shape of a house, however, there is no mortar or even the glue that the article says it’s going to use. And it’s done on a factory floor, as opposed to an actual work site.

        Then there are the “Disruptors” who envision a future where robots will produce new and better houses, and they’ll be more efficient and cost less.

        So why is all this so far off in the future, especially the cost savings?

        If you ask me, I’d say that there’s too much money to be made off the promises, as opposed to actual delivery, sort of like self-driving cars, space tourism, immigration to Mars, and delivering high-speed internet to Africa.

        Pre-fab factory-built homes have been, and will be delivered, I’ve seen some incredible Japanese examples, and hear the Swedes have some great stuff. (not sure if robots are involved)

        It’s all really expensive compared to what the American market expects.

        In between driving taxi, and running computer networks, I worked for a well established contractor. He took me out to a suburban building site one day and instructed me to watch a framing crew building McMansions.

        He described their style as “running to the wood pile” IOW they were working too fast because of economic pressure. He said that all the old time home builders had been driven out of the business because the current market conditions didn’t allow them to build the sort of product that they could be proud of.

        He went on to say that “these houses were being built by doctors and lawyers and dentists” (meaning investors) and that the framing crew we were watching was made up of recent immigrants working for wages lower than most Americans would work for.

        The vision of robots building homes is a vision of eliminating labor and making higher profits.

        The same way that the vision of self-driving cars is a vision of eliminating the expense of truck drivers.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The architect drove numerous brickies to quit due to his insistence on having the most precise brick walls ever made.

        Does anyone know if the British Library brick walls had problems down the line? I looked, but couldn’t find anything. (I was wondering if brick walls laid over-precisely were subject to stresses that more “organic” brick walls would absorb.)

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats a very good point, it hadn’t occurred to me that over precise laying could be an issue.

          I’ve not heard of any issues with the Library, although it was notorious during its very long construction for delays and costs over runs, which was at least partly due to the fussiness of the architect. The man who taught me how to lay bricks used to work on the site – he was a real craftsman, but he said he couldn’t stand the ridiculous standards set by the designers.

          The big problem with brick walls was with the use of portland cement, rather than true ‘mortor’ in around the 1890’s. Dublin is full of cracked brick buildings (one opposite where I live), because it wasn’t realised that this resulted in a very rigid structure that needed a much better foundation. Older mortored walls were very forgiving – they moved and settled with the building. In England, in mining areas it was quite common to have to remove windows and recut them to fit opes as the buildings moved with the ground as it subsided. The walls could adjust, the glass couldn’t. The Tilted Barrel Pub in Tipton, England is a great example, I once had a few pints in there and drinkers would amuse themselves watching glasses roll from one end of the pub to the other.

          1. bwilli123

            “About the Pub
            Grade I listed building dating to c1870. Originally called the Barrel, it was reamed in recent times to reflect the effect of mining subsidence.”

            …past tense: reamed; past participle: reamed
            1.
            widen (a hole) with a special tool.
            “a fan which has a small enough hole to be reamed out to the correct size”
            widen a bore or hole in (a gun or other metal object) with a special tool.
            “the rods were marked out, drilled, and reamed”
            North American
            clear out or remove (material) from something.
            “pierce, probe, and ream out the bony chambers of the crab’s body”
            2.
            informal•North American
            rebuke (someone) fiercely.
            “the agent reamed him out for walking away from the deal”

            An imaginative description, however much unintended

  6. antidlc

    https://www.csis.org/analysis/conversation-dr-anthony-fauci-antiviral-program-pandemics

    A Conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci on the Antiviral Program for Pandemics

    Yes. I don’t know whether it’s going to be the home run that we got with HIV when we, in 1996 – the transforming year when we had the triple combination and we went from modest suppressant of virus to complete durable suppression of virus with HIV, which totally changed the landscape. But you know, I want some of the listeners if not all of them – because I know many of them already appreciated it – why it’s so important and a bit different than what we faced with HIV, Steve. And the reason is with HIV we’re talking about lifelong therapy for an individual to keep the virus suppressed to below detectable, to get the person to return to some form of normality. And we have been spectacularly successful.

    We’re looking at a different type of a profile now. We’re looking at an orally administered maybe seven to 10 days, given to person who is early on in the course of their infection before you get to the cascade of events that lead to the aberrant activation, inflammatory response that kills people, because we know now from a lot of experience with the care of these individuals that if you can keep that virus from going to the upper airway, from going down into the lung and other organ systems, you can change what can be a devastating disease and make it an upper airway common cold type approach, which is really what we need to do. We only need to knock out that virus for about seven to 10 days, rather than lifelong, what we have to do with HIV.

    The thing that I think is going to be a real somewhat of a game changer, Steve, is as soon as the FDA gives full approval for the vaccines, those people who are hesitant to get vaccinated because they perceive the emergency use authorization as not being proof enough that it’s safe and effective, even though we have ample, ample evidence that it’s highly effective and highly safe, I think you’re going to see more people get vaccinated. And then you’re also going to see enterprises feeling much more confident in local mandates for vaccines. You’re not going to see a central mandate coming from the federal government, but you’re going to see more universities, colleges, places of business who, once they get the cover of an officially approved vaccine, they’re going to start mandating vaccines. So we’re going to see an increase in vaccines, and that’s going to be the solution to the problem, because if you get the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation now.

    1. IM Doc

      You must also note that he was really pushing research for vaccines for opiate addiction (yes you read that correctly) as recently as 3-4 years ago.

      He has never met anything that a vaccine would not fix. I have been following his career for a long time. He alludes to the HAART therapy for AIDS in the above comments. At least in part, not the whole, the reason that those medications took so long to come to fruition is because he was so hellbent on an HIV vaccine for so many years early on. It took the air out of research for antivirals for nearly a decade. Despite multiple early warnings that we just simply did not have the technology at the time for a vaccine for HIV. The grand rounds about this topic at the time were numerous and Fauci did not come out looking so well. Even now almost 40 years later, has there been an effective HIV vaccine developed?

      It was not just him that did not shine in that era. People like Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein did things during the AIDS crisis in San Francisco that should have banned them for life from public service. But yet in this country, we always seem to be OK with horrible people failing upwards. I have never figured it out. If you need to know how you could have predicted that Nancy Pelosi would be such a horrible stain on our republic right now – all you have to do is look at any of the written histories of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco. She is not alone in the shame, believe me.

      My profession and this country may not have it within them to fix the overwhelming problems going on. But one thing is for sure, no one person, whether Fauci or whoever else, should have anywhere near the power that he has over the entire medical establishment. This is the power of the purse strings. I talk to leading national ID figures frequently. I do not believe any of them would feel OK with the plans outlined in your quote above. They can say absolutely nothing or they will have all their grants pulled and their job in jeopardy in no time. It really is a bad situation.

      1. IM Doc

        Here is a basic description of the opioid addition vaccine.

        https://heal.nih.gov/news/stories/OUD-vaccine

        Let’s just say – things have not been very successful.

        Here is the NPR commentary on this –

        https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/10/542605039/a-vaccine-for-addiction-is-no-simple-fix

        The problem is the vaccine against the opioid (and others like nicotine etc) is also to varying degrees active against many different receptors. That is not a good scene.

        1. Jen

          This is completely enraging. My cousin died from an overdose. My nephew started dealing to support his habit, was busted, went to jail and got into a diversion program that saved his life.

          Is there a vaccine against trauma? Because that’s what sent them both on their path to addiction.

      2. Geo

        Considering Cuomo can have the deaths of hundreds of elderly brushed under the rug but be called to account for sexual harassment, I guess unless Fauci, Pelosi and Feinstein are outted for pulling an “Al Franken” they will remain untouchable.

        Just like in our movies and TV it seems Americans are enamored by purveyors of death and corruption. Only lust will outrage and offend them.

        1. The Rev Kev

          It may reflect the standards of our media. You can show all sorts of violence and grisly deaths on screen but start to show a couple having sex and wait for the squawking to start. So you can have a Cuomo be responsible for deaths by the thousands and that is, kinda, OK but when he actually molests and abuses women, then that is when the trouble starts.

          1. rowlf

            You can show all sorts of violence and grisly deaths on screen but start to show a couple having sex and wait for the squawking to start.

            I always thought the European practice of censoring violence on screen was pretty smart. More hoots, less shoots. Imagine banning all firearms images from film, tv or video games.

            1. The Rev Kev

              ‘More hoots, less shoots.’

              From what I saw of European TV, it was more a case of ‘More hooters, less shoots.

        2. Anthony Noel

          You have to look at who comprises the groups.

          One is comprised of poor, middle class, elderly, people. One is comprised of the daughters of the courtier class.

          One is a group of people who we will happily let die because well they’re old and ugly and used up and poor and have no influence.

          The other is comprised of a group of infantilized adults who have appropriated and weaponized victimhood and have been told that any and every interaction that results in them feeling in any way shape or form uncomfortable or maligned or offended is an act of abuse and violence, and they must never be reminded that they have these jobs not because of their sterling gender studies and or communication degrees, but because they are young and innocuous and connected and their job is a paying back of favors to their PMC daddy or mommy.

      3. Shonde

        I thought of you while watching tonight’s FLCCC weekly update. It featured a Florida doctor, Bruce Boros, who has been using ivermectin successfully since the beginning of the virus crisis. He said about 50% of virus patients are now vaccinated. His outspokenness reminded me a little of you. You both care.

        The update should be on YouTube soon if it doesn’t get censored.

  7. zagonostra

    >“The C.D.C. Needs to Stop Confusing the Public” [Zeynep Tufecki, New York Times]

    “The Epidemic Intelligence Service unit of the C.D.C.”

    Who knew there was such a “service?”. I can’t wait to send this to my friends who are already rattled by the tilt toward a medical mandate for getting CV19 vaccine. On the other hand some other friends might want to see if the EIS is hiring.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Absolutely breathtaking, the play of colors—AND it is redolent? Making a note of it, thanks!

  8. zagonostra

    >The Truman Show… [New York Magazine].

    Yet the fact that it has taken more than 60 years for that story to come to light also tells us a great deal about what could be called the politics of nostalgia: of the tendency of everyone from professional historians to the public at large to cast a sentimental haze: around certain historical figures and periods, when we assume honorable men ruled the land and America was still truly great

    Really, is that what it tells us, historians and the public have “political nostalgia” that their is a “sentimental haze”? Give me a effing break.

    Historians like other careerist know what will get them off the team without anyone have to say anything. As for the public, we are kept ignorant by design. We’ll see if Biden releases the JFK docs that Trump decided was in the “national interest” not to release when the issue comes up again in October. Based on the deafening silence of Oliver Stone’s Cannes film revisiting the JFK assassination, I’d be willing to take some bets he won’t, because we know he would never disrupt that “sentimental haze.”

      1. JohnA

        So, the famous sign on Truman’s desk actually should have read ‘The Bucks stop here’.

      2. Pelham

        I used to be a Truman fan. Now I feel like Herb Stempel’s wife in the movie “Quiz Show” when she says she was one of the boobs that Herb fooled.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          He was a product of the Prendergast machine in Kansas City; of course he was going to wet his beak…

    1. shinola

      Truman had a good mentor/example – he got his start in Kansas City/Jackson County, Mo. politics with lots of help from one “Boss” Tom Pendergast..

      1. Carolinian

        Right. His rise to power was very sleazy. And in many ways we have him to thank for the Cold War along with Jimmy Byrnes–who lived in my neighborhood when back in SC.

        1. jsn

          Democratic machine tossed Henry Wallace for Truman in FDRs last campaign to make sure the Oligarchy could reboot after the war.

          Took a while, but it worked.

  9. EGrise

    the merger of State and corporation

    Isn’t there a word for that? Can’t quite recall offhand…

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      In the US the word is ‘democracy’.

      But I believe there is a Shakespeare quote about word usages.

        1. Temporarily Sane

          The state and corporations in China are hardly merged. Didn’t the state there just crack down on the shenanigans of private operators? Don’t confuse having a state sector and state-owned (i.e. public) corporations with an ostensibly independent state that does the corporate sector’s bidding while selling the citizens it is supposed to represent down the river.

          1. Acacia

            Agree. There may be a better term but I gather the system in the US is “state capture” in which corporations have in effect captured state policy and their lawyers draft all the legislation that then gets sent to Congress for “debate” and “approval”. This is very different from the Chinese model.

        1. rowlf

          Nailed it! Maybe could have had an extra point from the scoring judges if a trademark symbol was attached.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Excellent megathread. Thanks for sharing it, flora.

      Short take: When you keep abusing the public trust, don’t be surprised when people stop trusting you.

      1. chris

        The replies are fascinating. Lots of claims of “whataboutism” and that because the poster has a YouTube channel he’s an idiot. What those people don’t want to acknowledge is that even if there are lots of other details in those points that could be brought go bear that story must still be dealt with. That whole thread is one possible explanation of what’s happened over the last several years. If you don’t admit that and at least apologize for being wrong so often no one will believe you are any kind of trustworthy source of information.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Very good, long thread on a possible reason for vax hesitancy.

      It is a good thread. I think it goes off the rails here:

      I believe this was a talking point when the change-over in conventional wisdom from anti-mask to pro-mask was taking place, but I don’t think there was good evidence for it. Readers?

  10. Carla

    “[T]rade groups representing financial services say a 36% national rate cap would be harmful to consumers.” • 36%?!?!?!?!?

    Lambert, when the special, super-duper interest rate paid on a 55-month CD at my bank is 1%, I just can’t understand your dismay./s

    1. jsn

      And our benighted betters think rates are low!

      Free for those who can afford it, very expensive for the rest of us.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    I took a day off today, so this is a shorter version of my day as a result.

    Email from bank at 839 am: Hey, we need you sign paperwork for your ppp forgiveness in regards to gross revenues.
    Me: Didn’t I send that in at the time of origin? In fact, its right here on your portal.
    Bank: We need it. The SBA is always changing its rules.
    Me: Yeah, we’ll see.
    SBA: No, if it was sent in at the time of loan origin, we wouldn’t require new information in regards to gross revenues.
    Me: Here is what the SBA said
    Bank: (crickets)

    And I’m still waiting on the bank.

    1. fresno dan

      NotTimothyGeithner
      August 4, 2021 at 3:16 pm

      More and more, being a bank customer is (ironically) akin to being the bank employee in Franz Kafka’s The Trial

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      And the bank’s help line is they were only submitting the revenue figures on the forgiveness side despite it being on the application sent to the SBA.

  12. marku52

    “Be first, be right and be credible”

    Huh. That’s why I, a GORF (grumpy old retired fart) in SW OR was warning my email circle a MONTH AGO, that delta was a BFD, that vaccines didn’t stop infection or spread, and that you still needed to mask. And all I do is read blogs and listen to Youtube doctors.

    And credibility? What’s left after CDC assured us “If you are vaccinated, you are safe. You don’t have to mask.” How wronger could one be?

    And I knew this at least a month ahead of the worthless CDC. Or, as a commenter here described it:

    “The Center for Disease Observation”

    1. Bob White

      In order to allow CDC to maintain it’s initials, we can call it “Centers for Disease Complacency”

      Dictionary definition neatly fits:

      Complacency
      1 : self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
      // When it comes to safety, complacency can be dangerous.
      2 : an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction

  13. Reader_In_Cali

    Re: Nina Turner’s campaign and loss

    This is early speculation, so forgive me (and yes, we will have to wait and see), but based on hushed convos with former Sanders staffers they knew her campaign was gonna be in trouble after learning that she hired Jeff Weaver and Chuck Rocha. Both of whom leave much to be desired when it comes to the tactics of running a campaign necessitating a ground game (e.g. Weaver had to practically be dragged, kicking and screaming, to purchase VAN and PDI during the 2020 primary. Insisting that field staff could “just” use Google Sheets (!!!!!). Not to oversell this, but that is utterly insane to anyone who has ever run a campaign before. You NEED voter data. Period).

    I am consoled that Nina kept it close considering the onslaught of money, extremely low voter turnout, working people being more preoccupied with trying to rebuild their lives after such a catastrophic year, financially.

    Agreeing with Lambert that we should stay calm and measured when analyzing this race’s outcome!

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      to purchase VAN

      Eff me. Is this true? She raised too much money not to do this. Its worth millions in ad buy equivalence.

      1. Reader_In_Cali

        I’m not sure if this was the case for Nina (hopefully Weaver learned from his Sanders campaign mistakes). I was just giving an example of what gave staffers pause about hearing he’d been hired.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Oh I see. The idea of not buying VAN at the first opportunity makes me irrational. I can accept bringing on people with good working relationships as long as expectations are clear, but not buying VAN is bad.

    2. dcblogger

      I thought that Rocha did a good job in Nevada. shows what I know.

      As far as VAN is concerned, Weaver might have worried that VAN would find some pretext for denying access, as happened in Iowa in 2016. But you have no possibility to compete without voter data. And yeah, can’t believe she hired Weaver.

      It stinks, I woke up this morning thinking that this is one more indication that we are not prepared to do anything about global warming.

      1. Reader_In_Cali

        Re: Rocha – One way to think about Nevada is that it got the resources it needed to run a proper operation. I believe NV got ~40 staff ahead of its contest. By paltry contrast, THE ENTIRE STATE OF TEXAS had 12 staff. 12!!! Also, depending on who you ask, it was Rocha’s insistence and incentive structure as a consultant that dearly cost the campaign a better showing in SC. (Though no one would argue that such a strong win in NV was wonderful).

        Ditto shortages in CA (again, I think Weaver and maybe Shakir own this), especially northern California. The saving grace in CA was an army of volunteers that were basically working the same hours as FT staff and had the organizational skills needed to fill in gaps.

        Again, I’m waiting to see what comes out in the post-mortems but I just caught up with several campaign staff in the past week that were blue in the face upon learning that she’d hired Weaver.

    3. Arizona Slim

      I was a Sanders volunteer in 2015-16 and 2019-20.

      During the first of the two campaigns, which was run by Weaver, I was baffled by the organizers’ insistence on phonebanking. I mean, come on. We, the dedicated volunteers, would sit there, trying to reach someone! Anyone!

      If we did get a live one, we found that very few people wanted to talk to a political caller. Clunk! The calls ended in a hangup.

      I heard from people who did door-to-door canvassing, oh, man, did I hear from them. They had no end of complaints about the poor quality of the lists they had to work with.

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        Agree on phone banking.

        I did door to door canvassing in CA in 2020. It WAS effective.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Phone banking can have a point. Its to cut down the number of doors needed to knock, for places that are hard to reach, and to foam the runway for canvassers.

          Finding out Turner didn’t have VAN makes me suspect the Sanders 2020 campaign simply wrote off states or didn’t care about winning margins instead of having a delegate strategy, not dissimilar to HRC’s plan in 2008.

          1. Reader_In_Cali

            I think everyone is misunderstanding me. Apologies for the confusion! I’m saying that it took longer than it should have for Weaver to sign the contracts for VAN and PDI for the Sanders 2020 primary campaign. They did eventually buy and start using it. But it was a hassle to get the contracts signed.

            This, among other things, is what made former staffers nervous when they’d heard that Nina hired Weaver. I do not know whether or not her campaign used VAN and PDI. I would hope they did, but we’ll have to wait and see.

    4. Pookah Harvey

      One good observation from Politico, “… it’s worth noting the moderate attacks against Turner did not take aim at the progressive proposals she supports, such as Medicare-for-all or a Green New Deal — an indication they are popular with the base.”
      From the coverage I have seen Brown mostly used a smear campaign to make it appear she was running to the left of Turner. This may not be as bad as it seems. If the establishment Dems feel they can only win by mouthing progressive position points rather than saying Nina was too progressive, progressives are having an impact.

    5. neo-realist

      Re: Nina Turner’s campaign and loss

      I heard that Ohio has open primaries. If that’s the case, did many republicans join in the vote for Brown to destroy the lefty Turner?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This is a could be, but the bottom line is a “grass roots campaign” with enough money to purchase VAN decided not to and lost by 6 points in a low turnout election. Any ground game operation will simply be rudderless with no direction.

        Without VAN, you are basically playing with phonebooks which they don’t make anymore.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        I harp on the VAN stuff because one of the obstacles for so many candidates who lose in close race is not having enough money to get VAN and have a staff. Turner had that.

        The Koch brothers were a big deal in the GOP beyond their nominal amount of funding because of when they gave money. It was early in a cycle, so the their candidates could hit the ground running. My guess is Turner’s campaign was either constantly flailing or a baseball team trying to manufacture a run in the 9th when down by 4 runs, playing too small.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its the Democratic Party’s voter database.

        -when you voted
        -canvassing/phonebanking results.
        -primaries you voted in
        -addresses
        -donations made
        -data such as jobs
        -group lists that get added. Join an anti-gun group, it will be in VAN at some point.
        -issues you’ve responded to.
        -registration status.
        -in short everything that is in the public record that isn’t easy to find or effectively impossible for a lone campaign to find.

        Its why the vaunted Obama list was never really that important. It was all in VAN in a fashion.

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

        The only way out is for someone to much around with your profile.

    6. The Rev Kev

      ‘she hired Jeff Weaver and Chuck Rocha’

      Seriously? Those two? A Sander’s activist blamed Jeff Weaver for totally undercutting his campaign leading it to implode. I myself wonder if he was actually a DNC plant for this purpose. And it wasn’t that many years ago that Chuck Rosa was found guilty to the embezzlement of union funds. That’s a confidence builder that. Did the Democrats force those clowns on her? Or did Bernie try to throw some work to his former colleague’s way?

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I am consoled that Nina kept it close

      Again, working the “glass half full” angle, Turner lost by 5% in a Democrat primary after saying voting for Biden was like eating half a bowl of shit. Not 10%, not 20%…

  14. ChrisRUEcon

    #OH11 Nina Turner Loss

    The special election turnout was 12% … less than one-in-eight eligible voters. We know low turnout benefits both sides of the establishment.

    Little bit surprised that Turner’s people couldn’t get out the vote better than that.

    1. dcblogger

      as someone who has done voter turnout in poverty precincts, I am not at all surprised. People who experience powerlessness in every aspect of their lives do not believe that showing up and voting will make any difference..

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      No one has mentioned the demoralizing effect of broken democrat promises ($2k relief, min wage, college, eviction moratorium, no vote on M4A, etc) as maybe another key factor in low turnout?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        When you start off with an amateurish operation (not buying VAN) when you have the cash to do so, you can’t blame anything else for an under 6 point loss in a low turnout race. Thats it. Maybe Turner will learn, but she should have known better.

      2. CarlH

        Agree, Otis B Driftwood. Kind of shocked this analysis has taken so long to pop up in comments. It is the first thing I thought of when I read she lost.

      3. ChrisRUEcon

        Fair. I’d say if Nina Turner weren’t running at all, ~12% would have been the expected turnout. So to your point, the likes of West, Bernie and AOC failed to move the needle. People have seen enough.

        200K+ Dem voters turned out for the general election in #OH11. Barely 75K showed up yesterday.

        Read ’em and weep.

    1. rowlf

      From the linked article: The World Health Organization has also recommended against using the drug except in clinical trials.

      Why does the WHO care about people using ivermectin if it has a good safety profile and either does nothing or something against Covid in appropriate human dosage? Are people going to take ivermectin and then go party without any care in someplace like Provincetown? Are people susceptible to taking ivermectin and living in a less virtuous manner and/or not showing loyalty to the leadership?

      1. Jen

        ” Are people susceptible to taking ivermectin and living in a less virtuous manner and/or not showing loyalty to the leadership?”

        I resemble that remark.

  15. Phillip Allen

    Regarding the “Where are the bricklaying robots” link, somewhere in my pandemic isolation documentary streaming I saw a segment on a robotic bricklaying device. (It was one of those ‘Gee, Look What Whiz Bang New Thing Is JUST AROUND THE CORNER!!!!! made-for–cable/streaming things. Don’t recall which channel/program/site. Old Dog is Old.)

    The thing was cool in its way, and as displayed definitely laid bricks faster than a single human could if we consider only the application of mortar/laying the bricks part. However, it ran on tracks parallel to the wall being bricked, and which wouldn’t be reliable without site engineering of greater or lesser complexity and cost. Sadly, the robot could not prepare its own way, nor prepare the walls for bricklaying, and required frequent, ideally continual reloading with bricks and fresh mortar. I would be surprised if the device ever made it to market.

  16. NotTimothyGeithner

    Obama could have held a party for virtually any other reason, but throwing one’s own birthday party is just weird outside of being 104. My dad’s great aunt did this. She had never done one before but decided 104 was probably her last chance. Besides she didn’t have any contemporaries.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      The mayor of Chicago told the Nazgul that BHO has the One Ring, so he has to hightail it to Rivendell and finish his memoirs. He accepted $600,000 in speaker’s fees from the High Elves because that’s what they offered.

  17. Half Bankrupt

    Under “Mildly Interesting New” my company – Northern Trust – announced today they are delaying the return to office. It was scheduled for September after Labor Day.

  18. fresno dan

    The election in Ohio’s 11th district.
    Look at that map, and tell me the problem is a primary between 2 democratic contestants. (the map displayed here at NC doesn’t even fully show the abomination of how the district is drawn).
    The fact that we can see drawn right in front of our noses such an obviously contrived, absurdest, ridcuculous congressional district tells us everything we need to know about the possiblity of reform in this country.

    Whether its the MONEY** in politics, the filibuster, 26 states with 52 senators to equal the population of CA, the MONEY in politics, the absurdist drawing of congressional districts, and oh yeah, the MONEY in politics, the governing of this country is designed to be non representative and anti democratic.
    ** money is just an euphemism for bribery. Just like ludicrous congressional districts hide in plain sight, bribery is accepted as how we should do our politics…

    1. timotheus

      I thought the same thing. No one (including Turner AFAIK) said a word about the insane gerrymandering that combined black voters in two cities that are not even close to each other so that the Republicans can win all the surrounding seats. Expect more of the same all over the country as the GOP rolls up congressional majorities while “losing” the votes.

    2. Michael Ismoe

      It’s a black majority district. It’s how the Black Misleadership Class keeps it’s positions.

  19. Stephanie

    reddit: my [21F] boyfriend [53M] boyfriend forbids me from going into the basement and has a sock drawer full of missing women’s driver’s licenses, AITA for being uncomfortable? the wedding is in three hours

    Reddit response: If it makes you uncomfortable, you need to communicate that, but remember you can only control yourself and your responses – it’s not healthy to expect him to give up his hobbies for the rest of your lives! Mutually satisfying relationships require give-and-take. Remember, you don’t have to be into everything he is into (although if you tried it, you might like it!) – you probably have hobbies he doesn’t care for, either. If you don’t, you should probably get some. A mature person doesn’t depend on their partner to meet all their emotional needs. Relax, focus on what you both enjoy when you’re together, and develop your own passions when you’re apart. Good luck!

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      My daughter is a devoted Reddit reader, but I miss Dear Abby, at least John Prine’s version. Whatever the complaint, the answer was the same:

      Dear Unhappy,
      You have no complaint.
      You are what your are and you ain’t what you ain’t.
      So listen up Buster, and listen up good.
      Stop wishing for bad luck and knocking on wood.

    2. Mildred Montana

      @Stephanie

      Montana response: A little late now, seeing as the wedding’s probably gone off, but if the sock-drawer contains only missing women’s driver licenses–and no socks–your discomfort is understandable.

      Also, if he starts showing up at the lake wearing a sling, driving a yellow Volkswagen, and asking strange women for help with his sailboat–not a good sign.

  20. Henry Moon Pie

    There’s a review of Tim Jackson’s new book: Post-Growth: Life After Capitalism:

    While Jackson obviously remains committed to the challenges of economic analysis and policy, he has come to believe that we need to open up some new conversations, especially about our social relationships, ethical beliefs, and spirituality. It no longer makes sense to talk about “the economy” without engaging with these topics.

    Jackson surprised me with the observation that capitalism and Buddhism “both start at the same place” – how to deal with suffering. Of course, he quickly added, each offers “almost diametrically opposed routes away from that. Capitalism says, ‘You can’t get away from suffering, you can’t get away from struggle. So you better get good at that struggle by becoming as competitive and individualistic as possible.’”

    “Buddhism, by contrast, says that the way out of suffering is compassion. It’s about understanding that my suffering is what connects me to other people. Neglecting that suffering and turning away from it, is actually a neglect of my responsibility as a human being.” The only real solution to suffering, according to Buddhism, “is to work to reduce the cravings for the things that create the struggle” in the first place.

    Jackson believes that economics needs to expand its own field of vision. So in Post Growth he invokes the work of such people as biologist Lynn Margulis, philosopher Hannah Arendt, poet Emily Dickinson and spiritual teachers like Lao Tzu and Thich Nhat Hanh.

  21. curlydan

    Sturgis should provide some interesting “data watching” over the next few weeks with 700K likely to come to this year’s event.

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/sturgis-bike-rally-revs-back-bigger-despite-highly-contagious-virus-variant-01628105224

    An interesting point in the article mentioned cases tied to the Milwaukee Bucks’ recent NBA championship run. Sure enough, Milwaukee County leads Wisconsin with 33 cases per 100K people per day and quite the linear trend up.

    Similar dynamics are suspected to have propelled infections in the UK during the European Soccer Championships. I’ve felt like a one-man freak show at some recent soccer games that I’ve attended. I look around, and I’m the only one masked (except for the game where my wife joined me).

  22. fresno dan

    Abandoned America 🏚️🇺🇲
    @abandonedameric
    If there’s one bit of advice I can give you after spending gobs of time researching disasters, it’s this: pay attention to where exits are whenever you go into any place, and if possible try to avoid the main ones everyone is flocking to in a crisis.
    =======================================
    I can’t find the link, but a documentary I saw on fires, showed a fire starting at the front in a small store. It was fully visible, and of course it started out small. I can see where it didn’t seem like a big deal…What is amazing is the people continue to stand in line and mill about. And then, all of a sudden, the fire is large, smoke, panic, and several people ended up dead.
    After seeing that, if I am ever in any kind of structure, and there is any kind of fire, I will immediately leave. If it is minor and nothing to it, I can always come back later. If its not, I will never be able to come back…

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    Social satirists could answer ValJar’s request for ” 6 or 60″ as a gift to the Big O by sending in either 6 dollars worth of pennies, or 60 dollars worth of pennies. All broken out of their rolls and all just loose in the very strong box they are sent in.

    If people were able to get that many Canadian pennies and send THEM in as a gift, that would be even neater.

    1. gc54

      Cannot get Canadian pennies if u don’t already have them. Were taken out of circulation years ago.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Because a whole bunch of pennies are real currency, and if enough of them come in, the Obama group might start thinking, is it worth dealing with the inconvenience of all these pennies to try and realize their value-as-money?

        ” A billion pennies here, a billion pennies there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money”.
        But they have to be loose. They can’t be in nice rolls.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        or how about i send obama nothing at all, and sincerely consider him a nonentity who is hardly worth my time or thought forevermore?
        worked for Hillary…i’ve seen very little of her for at least a year…due to this very method.

  24. newcatty

    How about ” Monopoly Money”? We have a couple of old board games in our basement. Can’t think of a better way to use the “money”. Include any fun items like a “Get out of Jail” card. A player’s game piece: a comfortable shoe. Or?

  25. summerdaze

    nitpicking: from 2nd graph covid-19 peak appears to be january 2021, not 2020 … foothills in november 2020

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Analysis: Don’t Want a Vaccine? Be Prepared to Pay More for Insurance.”

    This could get interesting. What if people provide proof that they went through a bout with this virus and recovered? That would be the same in terms of ‘immunity’. And if the insurance company jacks up and says that that immunity does not last, inform them that neither do the vaccines – and watch their heads explode.

    1. rowlf

      I like the Russian idea of paying the doctor/nurse with the syringe X amount of money to squirt the vaccine in the sink or on the floor and hand over the filled out card. I think that could work in the US seeing how the medical system has put the screws to the workers.

  27. Pat

    Some of the responses to Valerie Jarrett’s obscene request are sad, some amusing, some informative (one directs people to the group fighting the library)but the one that was the most striking to me was the screenshot of the obama.org website page where they ask you to open your wallets just a little more to add 6% to cover the processing costs.

    Considering how little good or charitable they have done with the money they have collected so far, I am guessing the over paid administration needs a raise of about 6%…

    1. Pat

      I can’t believe I forgot enraged. Most of the responses were enraged. I felt right at home.

  28. enoughisenough

    Obviously, Cuomo letting old people die for the cash is more egregious, but his equating hugging people who have long-standing relationships with him with coming on to staffers meeting him for the first time, is ridiculously specious, or suggests mental illness.

    On his own terms, these images of Bush and Merkel rebut his bs.

    https://s.hdnux.com/photos/12/10/34/2656007/6/1200×0.jpg

  29. enoughisenough

    “Due to the new spread of the delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends.”

    “NEW SPREAD”?

    new??
    just wow. Tell that to the at least 1/2 million dead in India

    “new in the media, and they won’t get away with this disgusting spectacle”, more like.

    1. Acacia

      Or “new” as in new to Dukes county, MA. It’s up to 7 new cases today — getting serious! As for delta out there in Deploristan, India, the EU, Airstrip One and the rest of the world… meh.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Pretty sure that this is not the first time that has happened with Facebook. They want to know absolutely everything about everyone, including people that do not have an account with them, but hate it when people look into their business.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The rationale is that the researchers were “scraping” Facebook data, which could indeed cause privacy violations if the researchers didn’t install safeguards. So, Facebook says, “Use our dataset!” Nuh-uh.

      Presumably this could be solved if a third-party were to assess the researchers’ protocol….

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