2:00PM Water Cooler 9/28/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I will have more under politics shortly. Things on Capitol Hill are overly dynamic. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

The Greater (yesterday) and Lesser Ground Robin have very different calls.

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At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts 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:

Now going down everywhere, including the South. So far as I can tell, Biden’s speech had no impact at all. If the measures he announced have any impact, that has not appeared yet. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases.

55.4% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). We are back to the 0.1% stately rise per day. This is the number that should change if Biden’s mandates “work.” However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus… (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well.)

Case count by United States regions:

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. The question is whether we will ascend to a second (or third) peak, as in last December-January, or not, as in last August. Note also that the regions diverge: The South, which drove the peak, is finally dropping. The West was choppy too, and is now falling. Ditto the Midwest. However, all this drama has masked the steady rise in the Northeast.

We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, if the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. Finally, quite frankly, I don’t see why we’re not seeing what happened in the schools in the UK and Canada happen here. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible,

NEW From CDC: “Community Profile Report September 27, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Northern latitudes improving, including Maine and Upstate New York. Speculating freely: One thing the consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. Previous release:

(Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Test positivity:

An unprecedented, enormous drop in the South. Almost no rebound. Surely data?

Hospitalization (CDC). Everything works again today, CDC, good job:

From this chart, pediatric hospitalization, in the aggregate, is down. I should dig out some regional or better yet county data.Here the CDC’s hospitalization visualization, from the “Community Profile” report above:

Alabama now out of the red.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 709,218 706,338. Looks like a downward trend, mercifully. We approached same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I am finding more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions.) (Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases worldwide:

European exceptionalism?

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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

Lambert here: Combine “131 Federal Judges Broke the Law by Hearing Cases Where They Had a Financial Interest” [Wall Street Journal] with “Big Pharma’s Dems Score Ad Blitz” [Daily Poster] and “Dallas, Boston Fed presidents announce resignations following controversial stock trades” [New York Post], and you might come to the conclusion that Washington D.C. is a Third World-level cesspit of corruption, where political figures are openly bought and sold. Then again, you might think “Oh, it’s just a few bad apples” idk.

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“The Memo: Biden faces crunch time amid Democratic divisions” [The Hill]. “Distrust is festering between moderates and progressives as crunch time looms on two huge bills: a $1 trillion package dealing with traditional infrastructure and another, originally capped at $3.5 trillion, that vastly expands social spending and would be the most significant piece of domestic legislation since the 2010 Affordable Care Act. It would be a political catastrophe for Biden and the Democratic Party if the bills failed.”

“Obama says US ‘desperately needs’ Biden legislation ahead of key votes” [The Hill]. “Obama, in a rare television interview, told ABC’s Robin Roberts that the infrastructure bill and reconciliation package backed by Biden ‘is something that America desperately needs.’ The former president did not weigh in on the intraparty dynamics at play as progressives and moderates jostle over which piece of legislation to prioritize. But he touted the benefits for families, and he offered support for paying through the reconciliation bill by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. ‘So when you look at the overall package, it’s got a headline price tag of $3.5 trillion, but that’s not a single year. It’s spread out over a number of years,’ Obama said. ‘And, most importantly, it’s paid for by asking the wealthiest of Americans, who have benefited incredibly over the last several decades — and even in the midst of a pandemic, saw their wealth and assets rise enormously — asking them to pay a few percentage points more in taxes in order to make sure that we have a economy that’s fair for everybody.” • So, by implication, Obama’s calling Biden “desperate.” That should help Biden with the moderates!

“‘No backup plan’: Democrats reject grueling debt limit off-ramp” [Politico]. “Experts and congressional aides estimate that adding the debt limit to Democrats’ party-line spending bill could take about two weeks, requiring revisions to the budget measure that the party deployed to steer it past a Senate GOP blockade. Two weeks is an eternity, given that Congress could slam into a debt wall in as little as three to six weeks, according to a new estimate from the Bipartisan Policy Center — which helps explain why Democratic leaders aren’t publicly talking about ripping up their spending bill, for now…. Never has either party reopened a budget resolution — the legislation used to unlock the reconciliation process — and revised it to tackle the debt limit. Doing so would require a lot of back-and-forth with the Senate parliamentarian, the upper chamber’s nonpartisan arbiter of rules.” • Oh no. I wonder what the Parliamentarian would think of this alternative:

“Pelosi says Biden’s infrastructure bill can’t wait for social safety net bill” [NBC]. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on Monday that passage of the $550 billion infrastructure bill must not wait for President Joe Biden’s multitrillion-dollar safety net bill, saying the larger package is not yet ready for a vote. In a private caucus meeting, Pelosi, D-Calif., said the party must ‘make difficult choices,’ because the dynamics have changed and Democrats have not yet agreed to a spending level, according to a source familiar with the meeting.” • The “dynamic changed” because the Moderates were bought. The plot twist is that the Democrat leadership put the Moderates in place in order that they might be bought. Both Sinema and Manchin, for example, are DSCC creatures through and through. Oh well, nevertheless:

Ilhan seems not to have understood that the Democrats are the party of betrayal (hat tip, Thomas Frank). It will be interesting to watch her this week, because I think she actually has a spine (though maybe Pelosi’s “bone digester” will take care of that this week). And then there’s AOC:

So AOC can’t count votes? Interesting. Perhaps Jayapal can, however:

I would love to see Jayapal take the whole edifice down. The Moderates are openly on the take; we have NBC reporter Sahil Kapur writing: “Manchin/Sinema, who have not named their price, meet w Biden today” (i.e., today, Tuesday). Why, then, is anybody treating Manchin, Sinema, etc., as representatives, when they clearly are not? I am not a fragile flower, and I’ve seen plenty of logrolling, and I understand how Tammany Hall worked, but the level of corruption today is off the charts. Either it ends, or we might as well throw in the towel on the Republic some of us hoped to keep. On the bright side, perhaps Pelosi’s sell-by date has passed:

So, the issue everyone talks about is whether Pelosi can count. The issue that nobody is talking about is whether Jayapal can count (and for what purpose).

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“The Competency Question” [Amy Walter, The Cook Political Report]. “However, the challenge for Biden is that these early mistakes go directly to the very rationale of his presidency; that it would be low drama and high competence. This was especially true with Afghanistan. While Americans are eager to have our troops out of the country, and may even have assumed there’d be some chaos due to that drawdown, they also expected that this administration’s deep expertise and experience, would prepare them for any unexpected snafu. That turned out not to be the case. Immigration is never an easy issue for Democrats. Like Obama before him, this president is caught between Democratic activists who want to see fewer restrictions and swing voters who are wary of lax enforcement and porous borders. Moreover, it’s an issue that animates the GOP base, but rarely motivates Democrats. But, the situation on the border today — with images of thousands of people crowded under a Texas underpass in squalid conditions as border agents use horses to corral them — is one that angers both left and right. And, as with Afghanistan, the situation reeks of mismanagement and chaos, two things this administration promised it would not allow. As for the COVID situation, early on the Biden administration got much of it right. Bureaucracy cranked into gear, replacing the ad hoc disarray of the Trump Administration. But, the rise of the Delta variant — and the continued politicization of the virus — put the administration on their back foot…. On top of it all, the former senator and vice president looks more like a helpless bystander than an experienced Capitol Hill deal maker, watching from the sidelines as his party struggles with internal divisions over critical legislation. For many voters, things in Washington look like more of the same; politicians squabbling instead of solving problems.” • See “competence,” sense 4. “Soundness of mind” is, I think, the subtext here.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Sinema to hold fundraiser with groups opposed to social spending package” [The Hill]. “Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is reportedly scheduled to hold a fundraiser this week with business groups opposed to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package being crafted by her party. Sinema has emerged as a critical voice in the Senate on the legislation and opposes a package with a top line of $3.5 trillion, saying it must be smaller. Progressives have insisted $3.5 trillion should be the floor for the bill.” • Now she’s just trolling us. “Critical voice” = “openly bought.” That’s where we are.

“Arms biz cash swirls around House votes blocking Pentagon cuts” [Responsible Statecraft]. “Campaign contributions aren’t the only form of influence. In a conversation with Responsible Statecraft, William D. Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Program at Center for International Policy, identified four key ways the weapons industry impacts decision-making in Congress. Aside from campaign contributions and lobbying, they donate to think tanks and spread defense industry jobs throughout the country so that they impact as many congressional districts as possible. Additionally, the revolving door between the weapons industry and the Pentagon remains unchecked on Capitol Hill and beyond. House members also often hold their money in weapons industry stock, which Hartung called ‘an outrage and a conflict of interest.’ In the House, 20 Republicans and 16 Democrats hold stock in the defense industry with a total value of about $5 million. Hartung said that the practice of war industry influencing politicians goes back ‘decades.’ … Hartung concluded that ‘for people on the cutting edge of the defense spending, it’s really about reinforcing the existing relationship and making sure they have the help to get reelected.'” • Business as usual.

I thought these guys were the adults in the room:

It’s just the same with Covid.

Republican Funhouse

“GOP to massively step up 2022 poll watching efforts in Michigan and across U.S.” [USA Today]. ” The GOP will massively increase its poll watching and election litigation efforts in 2022 and beyond after so far failing to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election through a series of lawsuits and audits, a top Republican National Committee official said Friday. Josh Findlay, election integrity director for the RNC, said one problem with GOP operations in 2020 was that attorneys for former President Donald Trump and other conservative groups went to court too late.” • They were terrible lawyers! When I could even find the briefs, they were uniformly awful!

Our Famously Free Press

Greenwald is correct (1):

Greenwald is correct (2):

Good litmus test. Holy moley, we can’t even get a “mistakes were made” from these guys!

Clinton Legacy

Oh no:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Cabal Anthropology – or whether the anthropology of belief helps us understand conspiracism” [Focaal Blog]. “Let me come back to the question of “Why people believe this stuff”?…. Anyone who has argued with a conspiracy theorist, a religious zealot or political true believer of any kind knows that refutation of their evidence is fruitless. You point out contrary facts or illogical arguments and your remarks are simply cast aside as irrelevant or confirmation of the conspiracy. This is because the conspiratorial narrative is in fact an expression of belief. I decided to re-read a bunch of anthropological analyses of belief…. If we are to understand conspiratorial movements like QAnon or those following the Deep State conspiracy, we anthropologists need to promote our own insights about what belief is all about. While Needham argued that the concept of belief was useless for anthropology, we still need to explain what it means to be a believer. We need to go beyond the conventional wisdom that every conspiracy theorist suffers from some kind of cognitive deficiency, emotional damage or social isolation. The leaders and mobilizers may be emotional, committed, even fanatic (as so many leaders of social movements are), but the followers and adherents are much more like us than we’d like to admit. Resorting to a psychological explanation is not sufficient. Who among us has not suffered from anxiety, depression, loneliness or a traumatic event that might lead us to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole? Who among us has not spent hours on line immersed in some incessant search to solve a puzzle? The conspiracy followers are hardly exotic. Take away their beliefs, and they suddenly become just like us, ordinary men and women with family obligations, precarious jobs, worried about their future and their place in it. They are both strange and familiar at the same time. And it is this contrast that makes them the perfect object of anthropological scrutiny. The task of anthropology, after all, is to show that the strange is actually familiar, and that the familiar has its exotic elements. We need more cabal anthropology.” • More research needed!

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the US fifth district including the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia dropped to -3 in September 2021, its lowest level since May 2020. The indexes for shipments and new orders declined to -1 and -19, respectively, also the lowest readings in 16 months. Meanwhile, the gauge for employment rose 2 points to +20. Manufacturers continued to see low inventories, lengthening lead times and backlogs of orders. In addition, firms reported weakening local business conditions, but they were optimistic that conditions would improve in the next six months.”

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US increased 1.2 percent month-over-month to $731 billion in August of 2021, following a 0.6 percent rise in July, a preliminary estimate showed. It was the 13th consecutive month of gains….”

Housing: “United States S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index” [Trading Economics]. “The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index in the US increased at a fresh record 19.9 percent yoy in July 2021, following a 19.1% rise in June and compared to market forecasts of a 20% jump. Phoenix (32.4%), San Diego (27.8%), and Seattle (25.5%) continued to post the biggest increases. The National Composite Index marked its fourteenth consecutive month of accelerating prices with a record 19.7% gain from year-ago levels. New York joined Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle in recording their all-time highest annual gains. ”

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The Bezzle: “UNLOCKED! The Lamest Show On Earth (Part 3)” (podcast) [TrueAnon]. “Welcome to TrueAnon Presents: The Lamest Show on Earth, a three-part mini series on the phenomenon that is Tesla Motors and the carnival barker at the center of its show: Elon Musk. We’ve often said that Jeffrey Epstein offers us a lens through which to view larger networks of power and influence and ways to ascertain how they operate and impact the world. The story of Tesla Motors offers us the same opportunity: how a nerdy dot-com gold chaser hacked the self-satisfied neoliberal green political regime and orchestrated a cacophonous symphony of thirsty social media marketeers, auto industry executives, captured and bought off media, and the bull market ride of the century. At the center of all of this is the pied piper of the redditmen, our very own epic bacon PT Barnum — Elon Musk — who rightly understands that branding really is everything and that so long as you can keep the music going the party doesn’t have to end. Now that Tesla has a gun to the head of the American economy, there’s only one question left: how long can the show go on?” • One forgets how horrid the Tesla saga has been. Good job by the TrueAnon crew, well worth a listen. (Also, TrueAnon has great production, the podcasters have very good voices, and they are very, very funny.

Labor Market: “New York health-care workers who are fired for refusing to be vaccinated won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits — in most cases” [MarketWatch]. “Employees at New York state hospitals, adult care, and long-term care facilities who are fired or quit because they don’t want to follow the state’s vaccine mandate for health-care workers won’t be allowed to collect unemployment benefits in most cases. ‘Absent a valid request for accommodation,’ these workers won’t be able to collect unemployment benefits ‘because these are workplaces where an employer has a compelling interest in such a mandate, especially if they already require other immunizations,’ according to the New York Department of Labor website.” • It’s interesting that the two most, er, innovative techniques of disciplining labor originated in Blue States: Proposition 22 for gig workers, in California; and now this, in New York.

Labor Market: “Deadline Looming, Thousands of Health Care Workers in New York Get Vaccinated” [New York Times]. “With just days or even hours to spare, thousands of health care workers got inoculated, according to health officials across the state. And while thousands more workers remained unvaccinated, and thus in danger of being suspended or fired, the rush of last-minute vaccinations appeared to blunt the worst-case scenarios for staffing shortages that some institutions had feared. … Statewide, the vaccination rate for hospital employees rose by Monday night to 92 percent of workers receiving at least one dose, according to preliminary data from the governor’s office. The rate for nursing homes also jumped to 92 percent on Monday from 84 percent five days earlier. Still, many nursing homes were already facing serious staffing shortages before the mandate, making any new staff reductions potentially dangerous.”

The Fed: “Sen. Warren Opposes Renomination of ‘Dangerous Man’ Fed Chief Jerome Powell” [Barron’s]. “Warren questioned Powell’s banking regulation policy at a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee, criticizing him for weakening the Fed’s regulatory power over big banks. ‘Your record gives me grave concern,’ Warren said. ‘Over and over you have acted to make our banking system less safe, and that makes you a dangerous man to head up the Fed.’ Warren joins a growing group of Democrats that have pressured President Joe Biden to nominate a new leader for the central bank. ‘Renominating you means gambling that for the next five years, a Republican majority at the Federal Reserve with a Republican chair who has regularly voted to deregulate Wall Street won’t drive this economy over a financial cliff again,’ Warren said.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Fear (previous close: 34 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 23 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 28 at 12:31pm.

Health Care

On that new Argentina Ivermectin study (here, linked to yesterday):

They’re not wrong, are they?

“Top CDC official steps aside as head of pandemic task force” [Politico]. “Henry Walke, who has overseen the CDC’s Covid-19 response for more than a year, will be replaced by Barbara Mahon, the deputy chief of the agency’s enteric-disease branch, those sources said. Walke will remain at the agency as director of the CDC’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections…. Walke’s departure from the Covid-19 team raises questions about the agency’s future pandemic response and whether he stepped aside because of increasingly untenable working conditions at the agency. His change in role comes after two prominent CDC leaders — Anne Schuchat, the agenc]y’s former number two official, and Nancy Messonnier, the agency’s top respiratory official and Covid-19 vaccine lead — left the agency earlier this year…. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is in the middle of trying to rebuild the pandemic response team in an attempt to combat recent surges driven by the Delta variant and the potential for an increased workload this fall as more people get booster shots and cold weather and holidays threaten to drive new spikes in infections and hospitalizations. But Walensky is having difficulty staffing that team, in part because CDC employees say they are overworked after nearly two years fighting the pandemic. Some member of the agency’s pandemic response team have returned to their regular duties; other employees who have not worked on Covid-19 are resisting calls for help knowing the time and energy it demands.” • I’m not sure I buy that “workload” explanation. Maybe…. CDC doesn’t have the reputation it once had? Or… people don’t want to work for Walensky? After all, your professional careerist, especially the younger sort, doesn’t mind sleeping under their desk if the payoff is advancement, especially in a hot field like Covid. Oh, and that underlined part? It’s totally not Narrative-compliant. I can’t imagine how it got past the Politico editors. Please put it out of your mind at once.

“Viral dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 variants in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals” (preprint) [medRxiv]. From August. The NBA testing program. From the Conclusions: “Alpha, delta, and non-VOI/VOC infections feature similar viral trajectories. Acute infections in vaccinated and unvaccinated people feature similar proliferation and peak Ct [Cycle threshold], but vaccinated individuals cleared the infection more quickly. Viral concentrations do not fully explain the differences in infectiousness between SARS-CoV-2 variants, and mitigation measures are needed to limit transmission from vaccinated individuals.”

“Risk prediction of covid-19 related death and hospital admission in adults after covid-19 vaccination: national prospective cohort study” (PDF) [British Medical Journal]. From the Abstract: “Several clinical risk factors for severe covid-19 outcomes despite vaccination have been identified: Down’s syndrome, kidney transplantation, sickle cell disease, care home residency, chemotherapy, recent bone marrow transplantation or a solid organ transplantation ever, HIV/AIDS, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, neurological conditions, and liver cirrhosis The QCovid3 risk algorithms (https://bmjSept2021.qcovid.org) showed high levels of discrimination for identifying adults at highest risk of covid-19 related death and hospital admission after vaccination; these risk stratification tools can help support public health policy and prioritise patients for targeted, early interventions.”

“Vaccine nationalism and the dynamics and control of SARS-CoV-2” [Science]. “Intuitively, our results indicate that unequal vaccine allocation will result in sustained transmission and increased case numbers in regions with low vaccine availability and thus to a higher associated clinical burden compared with a vaccinated population. Under certain scenarios, sustained local transmission could lead to an increased potential for antigenic evolution, which may result in the emergence of variants with novel antigenicity and/or transmissibility and affect epidemiological characteristics globally. Overall, our work underlines the importance of rapid, equitable vaccine deployment and the necessity to export vaccines to regions with low availability in parallel to their becoming available in regions with high access. Coordinated vaccination campaigns across the world, combined with improved surveillance and appropriate nonpharmaceutical interventions to prevent case importation, are imperative.” • We are so, so far from that. Let ‘er rip!

“How America Dropped to No. 36” [The Atlantic]. “The U.S. was arguably more responsible than any other country for the invention, manufacturing, and distribution of the mRNA vaccines. How did the pace-setting effort to vaccinate Americans peter out and leave us behind most of the developed world?… he data point to three key reasons the United States is 36th and falling: It is unusually uninsured, unusually contrarian, and unusually polarized. These are three familiar—even defining—attributes of American life. A sizable proportion of unvaccinated Americans aren’t unpersuaded and skeptical but rather uninsured and scared. Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that no group is more likely to reject the vaccines than young Americans without insurance. Members of this group are disproportionately young and low-income and lack easy access to a doctor if something goes wrong. Many of them don’t know that the vaccine is free. Meanwhile, the fear of side effects is one of the most common reasons people give for avoiding the vaccines. This fear, compounded by a feeling of estrangement from the health system, is clearly keeping many Americans from getting vaccinated… What makes the U.S. exceptional, he said, is our unusually low support for vaccines in general. The U.S. had significant levels of vaccine hesitancy before the pandemic, and Petersen’s research found low acceptance of the vaccines in 2020, before their authorization. While support for the vaccines exceeded 70 percent in countries like Denmark and the U.K. last year, only about half of Americans consistently expressed interest in being inoculated…. The U.S. is distinctly unlucky in having a polarized two-party system, in which one party’s elites take up vaccine resistance as a prominent cause. While GOP governors and even former President Donald Trump have admitted to being vaccinated and occasionally recommended the shots, the party’s most significant media organs, including Fox News, have consistently questioned the benefits of the vaccines, amplified the side effects, celebrated evidence-free skepticism, and blasted attempts to promote vaccinations.” And: “‘Trust is a resource that you draw upon in a crisis,’ [Michael Bang Petersen, a Danish researcher] told me. ‘It’s much harder to build trust as the crisis is ongoing.’ The same could be said for institutions, policy, and culture. In a pandemic, you go to war with the country you’ve got, and you learn what kind of country you’ve got only after you go to war. Underinsured, paranoid, and polarized, the U.S. rolled into 2021 with a uniquely impenetrable bedrock of vaccine skepticism.” • Well worth a read. Funny, however, that a single payer system would have solved the problem of young, uninsured people. But liberal Democrats are fighting single payer tooth and nail. Preventing it has long been their #1 policy priority.

This teacher sounds like they need help properly deploying the blame cannons:

Do not blame the administrators. Blame Bubba.

Class Warfare

“Amazon Vs. The Union (Again)” [Kim Kelly, Discontents]. “With all that in mind, when anonymous person sent me an email last week telling me to check out the Amazon Bessemer facility’s Facebook page, I wasn’t surprised with what I found. You can read more about that here (it’s a public post because I wanted to ensure the info got out there, but I’d sure appreciate it if you considered subscribing!)….

“In Murdaugh family scandal, tiny South Carolina town shaken” [Associated Press]. “Ask any of the 2,600 residents in this South Carolina town whether they know Alex Murdaugh, and you’ll probably get a quick nod. Nearly everyone does in Hampton, a tiny place where every road in has just two lanes. Ask them to tell you about Murdaugh, though, and you’ll get a firm head shake, followed by: ‘You’re not going to quote me, are you?’ No one wants to talk about the influential lawyer whose wife and son were killed and who’s now accused in a string of controversies — at least, not in the open. For the past century, the Murdaughs have steered much of the legal world in this remote corner of South Carolina — north of Savannah, Georgia, and far from the interstate or just about anything else. Running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm allowed the Murdaughs to do it quietly, until recently. Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were killed June 7, shot multiple times at the family’s sprawling estate. No one’s been arrested in their deaths, which brought scrutiny into every nook of Murdaugh’s life. Six investigations are underway, over the killings, stolen money, death coverups and a Sept. 4 shooting in which a bullet grazed Murdaugh’s head on a lonely highway. Police said he tried to arrange his own death and make sure a $10 million life insurance policy would pay off for his surviving son.” • American gentry!

“An NYC restaurant owner raised staff wages to $25 an hour. She’s had no trouble recruiting – but still doesn’t think she pays employees enough.” [Business Insider]. “Cohen said that the wage hikes meant she had to raise prices by around 30%. She streamlined the restaurant’s menu, too. Previously, it offered tasting menus of five and ten courses, but now it just offers one five-course menu, which she said slashed the restaurant’s food costs and meant she could afford to pay staff more. ‘We put the focus on staff comes first and everything comes second,’ Cohen said. ‘I can’t succeed without a staff.’ Other restaurants have voiced concerns that price hikes could lead to fewer visitors, but Cohen said her menu changes hadn’t deterred diners. She said that the restaurant, which seats 44, was serving between 85 and 90 diners on an average night, which was roughly the same as pre-pandemic.'”

“Revealed: exploitation of meat plant workers rife across UK and Europe” [Guardian]. “Meat companies across Europe have been hiring thousands of workers through subcontractors, agencies and bogus co-operatives on inferior pay and conditions, a Guardian investigation has found. Workers, officials and labour experts have described how Europe’s £190bn meat industry has become a global hotspot for outsourced labour, with a floating cohort of workers, many of whom are migrants, with some earning 40% to 50% less than directly employed staff in the same factories. The Guardian has uncovered evidence of a two-tier employment system with workers subjected to sub-standard pay and conditions to fulfil the meat industry’s need for a replenishable source of low-paid, hyper-flexible workers.” • This is news?

News of the Wired

“Elizabeth Loftus, “The Malleability of Memory” (Open Agenda, 2021)” (podcast) [New Books in Law]. “The Malleability of Memory is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Elizabeth Loftus, a world-renowned expert on human memory and Distinguished Professor of Psychological Science; Criminology, Law, and Society; Cognitive Science and Law at UC Irvine. This extensive conversation covers her ground-breaking work on the misinformation effect, false memories and her battles with “repressed memory” advocates, the introduction of expert memory testimony into legal proceedings and the effect of DNA evidence on convincing judges of the problematic nature of eyewitness testimony.” • I don’t listen to every podcast in the New Books Network, because some of the voices aren’t soothing, but the overall quality is consistently excellent. Lots of interesting scholarship being done!

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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 (RH):

RH writes: “Sun setting behind a hill.”

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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. noonespecial

    For the “Kill It With Fire” File

    NC readers have expressed apprehension whilst visiting someone’s home equipped with a smart speaker. Well, lookie here the Internet of Shit’s boundaries keep expanding:


    On Tuesday, Amazon unveiled a host of new products including Astro, a mobile Alexa robot that can capture every detail of your home’s layout…According to Amazon, the robot uses machine learning to “proactively patrol your home, investigate activity, and send you notifications when it detects something unusual,” and it gives users the option to save the videos with Amazon’s home surveillance product Ring. This thing even has an extendable periscope.

      1. Tinky

        No, but then again, I have never owned a “smart” phone, so computers would be the only relevant devices.

      2. ambrit

        We have few “devices,” but do turn off notifications. We also ruthlessly cull mailing list connections etc. (Everyone you buy something from online nowadays wants to add you to their ‘mailing list.’ Read the fine print and discover that that ‘mailing list’ is not always restricted to the original entity you did business with.)
        s/ We were quite alarmed to discover that the Dildo Company we dealt with added us to a “Salami of the Month” gift registry. /s
        It can be the virtual definition of an ‘Illogic Tree.’ Tendrils everywhere.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Shut them down myself. Got a new tablet recently and took pleasure in my tablet wishing me a happy birthday before I shut off notifications. This was because I gave them a bogus date.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Anybody know what happens between the time the Majority loses it’s 50th vote and a replacement is sworn in? I assume they literally can’t get anything done without the Minority’s help…which is na gana happen. Worst case scenario for the Dems is DiFi is too weak and incoherent to get on the floor but she’s still alive so they can’t replace her…

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Do they do anything now? As far as appointments, there are recess appointments for such situations. These are just Senate “rules”. They are in effect as long as they are abided by.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Yeah. they don’t do much (good) now.
            But what I’m curious about is without her vote, they won’t be able to raise the debt limit thru reconciliation…and hello USA downgrade and default. The 3.5 trillion “soft” infrastructure is dead (and frankly, I don’t care because as usual there’s nothing in it that helps me or mine) but the shutdown of the Federal government and defaulting are just all bad, For everyone.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        my prophet beard itches….says Newsome will appoint some reaganite lunatic in her stead, when the “wizened one” departs.

          1. ambrit

            It would be really fun to watch the shenanigans if Newsome appointed Harris as replacement Senator. Is there a precedent?

            1. Sardonia

              I think if he was a citizen, Ahnold would have easily been elected Prez back in 2016.

              I’ll take your bet though. Gavin couldn’t get away with appointing a Repub.

      3. ambrit

        I can see Pelosi sprinkling “Magic Dry Powder” over the lich to reanimate it.
        There is also the posibility of, Silicon Valley being in the affected district, a virtual Senator being appointed, or perhaps promoted as a compendium of the recorded wit and wisdom of the “Dearly Departed.”
        Then again, the DiFi could be incorporated, and, since corporations are “legal persons” be appointed to the post.

      4. Tom Stone

        I’m sure you can find some footage of Strom Thurmond at the same age, sucking oxygen and drooling as he’s wheeled in to the Senate.

    1. Mildred Montana

      @Fiery Hunt

      Just checked out the average ages (median is slightly different) of members of Congress. In the House, it’s 56 for Republicans and 59 for Democrats. In the Senate, it’s 63 for both.

      So in this epic battle of the aged, it looks like the R’s have a distinct advantage in the House. The Senate, however, is probably going to be a real scrap between white heads and red faces and will probably be decided by genes. Since Congress people rarely retire (e.g. Senator Diane Feinstein), who among them will be best equipped by nature to resist the ravages of time and escape death the longest? Those so blessed will gain a decrepit control of the Senate.


      1. ambrit

        Well, in the more formally Imperial systems, members of the legislature are often “forcably retired” by political rivals. (See Rome’s various Civil Wars.)

  2. hemeantwell

    Re Elizabeth Loftus, although her work on confabulated memory was good and empirically sound, her case against the possibility of memory repression was weak and empirically unsound.

    Most immediately, I’ve witnessed patient’s becoming incapable of accessing a conflict-laden memory within a session and, in one instance, over the course of a session. One could argue that given even that much apparent ‘flexibility’ in memory systems, Loftus’ attempt to scotch memory repression by arguing from instances of memory confabulation is questionable. But there have also been numerous cases reported by analysts of patients who have not been able to remember objectively traumatic events that were recalled to them by family members or friends. Loftus tried to evade what would seem to be a refutation of her overextended argument by retreating into talking about types of memory encoding and the possibility of simply not being able to remember, as opposed to repression of the memory. In doing so she ignores what I think is a near universal experience, the ability to drive an embarrassing memory out of one’s mind, at least temporarily and, often enough, for extended periods until a chance occurrence brings the memroy, and the shame, to mind. Call it what you will — repression or a form of dissociation — we’re quite capable to purging memories that trouble us.

    Her work around memory confabulation, which proved helpful during the abuse hysteria of the 1990s, was valuable, a public service. But in her zeal she tried to theoretically absolutize her position by denying any basis for repressed memory claims and, in doing so, fell into denying reality.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      when we were still living in town, and after my hip replacement…i needed something to do to un-do the 6 1/2 years of mostly sedentary life…ie: physical therapy.
      so we decided that i would build a house out here, on mom’s place.
      first, i put floors, etc in the trailer house, to have a place to crash.
      it was there that i came to write my book.
      to do so, i found that i had to drink a lot, and rummage around in my memory…because i had apparently “repressed” a lot of what had happened to me as a young person…the cops and rednecks…the baseball bats…the buryings…all manner of things.
      filling in those details…with a policy of total honesty with myself…was one of the hardest things i’ve ever done.
      so, yeah…i’m skeptical of anyone who insists that memory can’t be repressed….
      that said, i was there for the satanic cult scare…and we should be careful not to go too far to the other side of the road on all of this.

      1. barefoot charley

        I was molested around puberty, and afterwards only remembered those occasions when I happened to whiff the perp’s cheap cologne that he would swathe himself in. Soon after his odor went away, so did my memory, until well into my 30s. I suspect many ‘repressed memory’ claims are imposed on youngsters, most notably by enraged exes, but my own reptile-brain experience confirms that there may be a there there.

    2. ChetG

      Generally I have (or like to think I have) the ability to retain memories over long periods of time; however, 4 years ago I was in an accident that resulted in my neck being broken. From the time of the accident to becoming conscious inside a hospital, all I have are three slivers of memory (a brief moment of traveling by ambulance, another brief moment of being in a heliocopter, and a brief moment of being inside an MRI). That’s despite my wife and the surgeon (who put me back together) telling me that I had conversations with both of them. I don’t recall any of that.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        yeah, i didn’t even think about my big wreck, when i was 20.
        i remember the rain hitting my face as i was loaded onto the chopper, and Dr Red Duke’ mustache leaning over me at Hermann,a nurse(or something) who stuck himself with a needle asking if i’d ever had gay sex, and that’s it…until i remember weirdness(morphine) days later in a hospital bed.
        they said i was yelling and crazy for a bit, and …once the drugs took hold, was discoursing on philosophy and the hard problem of consciousness.
        go figger.
        of course, for surgery they give ya things like versed(sp-2) that make you forget…and i had a head injury, as well(smashed the windshield with my forehead(while wearing the seatbelt))
        the mind is a terrible thing, sometimes.
        and, for all our gee-whiz, we still don’t even know what, where or how it is.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its not as extreme as some examples, but my memory of breaking my leg goes like this:

          “I might have a problem here”

          (seeing my bike if you could still call it that) “alright, no blood. Time to stand up. I didn’t know George could run that fast. He looks worried.”

          I really want to remember going over the handle bars and bringing the bike with me, but its just not there.

        2. Janie

          A friend tells of a relative, a retired research chemist for a drug company, who was hospitalized with a head injury after a car accident. He couldn’t remember the year or the president, but when two doctors were by his bed discussing a couple of related drugs and trying to recall their exact differences, he told them – complete with formulas.

        3. rowlf

          (smashed the windshield with my forehead(while wearing the seatbelt)

          Did the same at age 20. I always wonder which memories were actual and which memories were created to fill in the gaps. I lost some stuff and some pre stuff seemed to be black and white memories. Sometimes I feel like the Blade Runner replicants with their memory implants and photographs.

    3. jr

      I wish to hell I could purge memories like that. I have ruminative thinking and shameful events, amongst others, bounce around in my skull like Ping-pong balls for days on end sometimes.

  3. Glossolalia

    It’s hard to tell what the teacher who is, “Alone, very sick, and very angry” is angry at or about. If her county and/or school doesn’t have a mask mandate for schools I suppose she can be legitimately angry at not having basic precautions in place. Is she angry because she got covid despite being vaccinated? Surely a PhD would know better. But otherwise, it’s an airborne viral disease; it’s going to spread. Is she advocating that schools remain virtual until covid doesn’t exist anymore?

  4. diptherio

    Highly recommend the TrueAnon trilogy on Elon. There’s a whole lot more to this dude’s bezzle than I was ever aware of. It’s truly mind-boggling that such an out-right grifter has risen to such a high social and economic status. As Saint Lily said, “no matter how cynical you get, it’s impossible to keep up.”

      1. pck

        She talked about ECONNED as (paraphrasing) being the most lucid depiction of the 2008 financial crisis. That’s how I got here, I heard that recommendation, read the book, and checked out the blog. Can’t remember what ep though – reddit suggests it’s episode 11.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Indeed. I am literally finishing it up as I type. The series has been exhausting (in a good way.) And yeah, I learned so much. I thought Musk was just some typical self-important rich dude, but wow, it goes much farther than that. Like Brace, I almost wanna give the guy props for pulling off what he has. Then again, the thought that Tesla has become too big to fail makes me want to lead the pitchfork brigade.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    I have a prescription for anyone on the border of despair because of our confluence of crises, especially if you’re a gardener or nature lover. Most of us have heard that it takes decades to form just one inch of topsoil. When we think about how much topsoil has been lost due to industrial agriculture over the past 40 years, believing that it takes that long to recover just one inch of that precious soil makes for a pretty depressing view of the future of agriculture.

    Gabe Brown’s Dirt to Soil is quite the antidote to that. I’m a little more than halfway through it, and the book has already completely changed how I will approach our little conglomeration of wasteland lots. My strategy has assumed that I must import as much organic matter, primarily in the form of small animal manures, in order to improve my soil, but Brown has convinced me that the biological processes of the soil have the potential to build high-quality topsoil much more quickly than the timeline of conventional wisdom without a lot of external inputs. The first step is to quit screwing up the soil with tilling, chemical fertilizers, monocropping and pesticides, but Brown goes beyond that with specific ideas about how to encourage and facilitate this natural process with diverse cover crops, ruminant grazing and crop diversity. Along the way, he includes lots of cites to scientists and studies affirming his personal experience on his North Dakota ranch/farm.

    My only problem is how will the neighbors react if I bring a couple of cows on board. ;)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thanks. Somewhere, in the not to distant paste, a helpful reader recommended a free download of a book in one of the topics that interests me on a continuing basis; I thought it was this one, but apparently not; that link is a scam.

          I didn’t save the link at the time, because I felt it would be easy to find it again when I wanted it again. Oh well! I guess it’s just one of life’s loose ends….

    1. Glossolalia

      If you have a lawn one of the best things you can do (aside from not spraying pesticides on it) is to Leave the Leaves. I just started mowing the leaves in place instead of raking them. It’s much quicker and keeps all that organic matter in place.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        That fits the second of Brown’s Five Laws (which he attributes to others, including Ray Archuleta):
        Armor the Soil Surface. All the little buggies need some shielding from heat, cold, drying winds, etc. so they can do their thing.

      2. Mantid

        Yes. In fact in our town (NW U.S.) the city will deliver a truck load(s) of leaves in the fall. When all the maples et al drop their leaves and the city doesn’t want them clogging the drains, they scoop them up and compost them. If one calls and requests, they’ll deliver them to your house/driveway/yard. Also, with gardening, when the season’s over (gonna be 45 tonight, poor tomatoes) and you glean/clean the garden, cut off plants at soil level but leave the roots. Lastly, call local farms and they’ll often let you pick up excrement for free – it saves them time and money. Even more lastly, my new favorite (over winter) cover crop is Ethiopian Cabbage. Look it up. If you have access to land, learn as much as you can because we’ll all need the knowledge.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      “The first step is to quit screwing up the soil with tilling, chemical fertilizers, monocropping and pesticides…”

      amen to that.
      i only till the top 2-3″ of the beds…and only when necessary, due to certain cover crops(namely hairy vetch, which will take over if i don’t)
      but i am still adding outside inputs…or at least i was, until this spring’s herbicidal manure disaster.
      i need a few goats and a couple of burros, to go with all the chickens, turkeys and geese that get let into the various beds.
      burros…like donkeys…will deposit their poop in a corner of the barn or in a pile somewhere, making it easy to collect and distribute for when they ain’t in the actual garden.
      for the “new beds”…across the road…i’ll likely attempt to obtain a bunch of professionally done compost, to add to the bad manure and the adequate-as-substrate city/county mulch…just to get jump started.
      i need to be able to rotate somewhere(tomatoes, etc were to go over there this year…so the spider mites my cousin introduced(he meant well) on this side of the county road would burn off this summer with nothing to eat.)
      once i’m done with all this, i’ll be rotating plants, fowl and goats, variously, around my place.

        1. Mantid

          Plant onions, calendula, marigolds, garlic, mustard greens nearby. Even in the house, a few small pots with onions will piss off the mites.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            i maintain a large stock of Allium…garlic(and Elephant Garlic(not an allium, i’m told)shallots, onions, regular hardeck garlic and leeks all winter,lol….throughout my place.
            it’s all gone wild….i just harvest what i need when i need it.
            stays in the ground until then, like the taters.
            grasshoppers, when they first appeared in such great numbers….6years ago?….went straight for the garlic…ate it right into the ground

            the spidermites in question were introduced by cousin buying greenhouse grown corporate tomatoes at lowes in march……..mites must have come with those.
            garlic was right there, as was marigold, basil, and carrots.
            I’m well versed in “companion planting”…but we’re well into Koyaanisqatsi, here.

    3. newcatty

      How about Pygmy goats? Would they provide the grazing needed to help with the natural process to build the quality top soil? They are so damn cute! With added benefit of goatmilk sourced cheese! You could also declare them as pets, or as our two cats are, as family members.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        re:pygmy goats.
        if that’s all you have room for.
        however…and especially in town…i strongly urge robust, goat-proof fencing…lest you be forever chasing them though suburbia.
        (bad enough chasing them out here in the wilderness)
        pygmy goats are still goats…and if there’s a hole in the fence, they will find it.
        like the sun rising.
        also,spaces in the wire should be much smaller than their heads/horns, or they’ll stick their heads through the fence to eat whatevers over there, and be unable to extract themselves.
        look before you leap, and all.

      2. Mantid

        And…. with goats, plan on staying home a lot if you want to keep the milk flowing. Gotta milk ’em every morning.

    4. Josef K

      Thanks for that, I’m going to get this book for an avid gardener friend.

      Another comment above refers to leaving the leaves, which reminds me of Fukuoka Masanobu’s One Straw Revolution. That was a very inspiring book to read, along with tales, if they’re true, of him revitalizing burned-out land that seemed beyond redemption. I also found his views on eating and diets to be enlightened.

  6. Lee

    The Fed: “Sen. Warren Opposes Renomination of ‘Dangerous Man’ Fed Chief Jerome Powell” [Barron’s].

    Have I become jaded or perhaps just giddy with existential angst, but I find Warren’s concern about Powell driving the economy over a financial cliff, quaint and even amusing in light of so many other vertiginous declivities currently before us: Covid, climate, TDS and its concomitant draconian-leaning Democrat aghastitude, healthcare costs and inadequacies, the list could go on and on and on. Now, if only there’s a way for Wall Street to go over the cliff without taking the rest of us with it, I’m all for it.

  7. Carolinian

    Re $25/hr–the other day Dean Baker said that’s what the 1968 minimum wage would be if indexed for inflation. Some of us are so old we can remember 1968. Back then the only people working at McDonald’s were teenagers.

    And since I’m likely the only person here who shops at Walmart, I can report that their prices have just gone up 5 to 10 percent on many or most items. They’ve also announced wage increases so that could account for the rise.

    1. Leftcoastindie

      I earned that $1.60/hr. in 1968 when I was 15. My daughter with 10 years experience as a pastry chef makes $18.00/hr. in a 5 star resort. In southern California no less.

  8. RockHard

    One headline I saw said that NY was saying you couldn’t claim unemployment if you were fired for refusing the vaccine. So here’s a question: why didn’t NY (or any state, really) tie enhanced unemployment to getting vaccinated? Granted those were generally available only in the April/May timeframe, but they could have got some leverage out of those unemployment benefits – get the vax to get your UI. Government hasn’t been shy about using tax policy to achieve their goals, and there’s certainly precedent in the Clinton Workfare program. The South generally wanted people to return to work and not mandate vaccination, the Northeast and CA weren’t in a particular hurry to get people back to work and handed out free money for months longer, but now they want to mandate vaccination and they’re having to use a sledgehammer to do it, and potentially disable the healthcare sector.

  9. METx

    My wife is a teacher and is reaching her breaking point. They are given more and more to do every day, but with COVID more teachers are out sick. This means that classes are getting split (not enough substitutes) so she has to manage 30 kids, test her class 1-on-1, be observed by administration, and test them all again in two weeks in addition. And her already scarce lunch time is getting cut as she is now required to watch her class during their lunch.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > My wife is a teacher and is reaching her breaking point

      It would be another clarifying outcome if Covid ended up destroying public education.

      “Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.” –Dwight Eisenhower

    2. Bacon

      Same and same. If the district didn’t hold revocation of teaching license and thus the opportunity to follow her chosen profession which she is passionate about and has spent countless hours honing skills for, she would probably walk right out today.
      There is no longer any argument that society views teachers as anything but daycare, and disposable at that.
      Toss another one on the pile of failures toppling our success.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “There is no longer any argument that society views teachers as anything but daycare, and disposable at that.”
        ergo, not exactly of the PMC….perhaps In it, but not Of It?

        (my wife is a Spanish/ESL Teacher)

        1. hunkerdown

          Teachers are currently at the bottom edge of the Ehrenreich model, closest to the working class, with their skill being digested into recipes and procedures and the opportunities for spontaneity optimized out. Programmers are probably up within the next 10 years, not that they haven’t been trying since COBOL.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Teachers are currently at the bottom edge of the Ehrenreich model, closest to the working class, with their skill being digested into recipes and procedures and the opportunities for spontaneity optimized out.

            Capital is dynamic, exploitation is dynamic, so it follows that class is dynamic; I think — and there will be no statistics on this, only anecdotes in the aggregate — the enormous capital accumulation that happened during the pandemic will lead to a lot of changes in class structures (as “tech” led to precarity, the positive outcome of all the investment in Uber not being visible at firm level but class level, i.e. Prop 22).

            Class is not like caste, or like the “orders” in pre-1789 France, except in that technically it can be represented as categories. I wonder if there’s any such thing as a reflexive taxonomy, a taxonomy where the root prunes the branches….

          2. LifelongLib

            Trying and failing since COBOL. The truth is there aren’t that many people who want to mess around with anything on a computer more obscure than email and YouTube. When a new tool that’s going to eliminate programmers comes along, it gets handed over to the programmers.

            1. ambrit

              The problem with Futurism as a unifying philosophy is that it is, by definition, never at rest. When that tension becomes overwhelming, the centre resorts to Tradition as a safe harbour for a frazzled mind. So, the Italian Futurists became disciples of Evola. Note that Evola never recanted his position, even after the War.
              Allow me to try and coin a neologism: Traditional Hypocrisy. We are seeing that exact characteristic playing out in American politics today.
              Futurism: https://www.artsy.net/gene/futurism
              Evola: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Evola
              Somehow, I see Evola as a role model for the reactionary elements in Western civilization.

  10. R

    On the BMJ paper on the QCovid3 predictive score for fatality, I note two things. One, the chief nurse and deputy chief medical officer of England are both authors! Two, are they covid-trolling QAnon? :-)

  11. Ranger Rick

    Hard to keep a straight face reading people complaining about the administration’s PR. Do people really believe competency will simply be magicked into being because some talking head says the right words? We get that out of Congress every day.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Really going back to 2001, we’ve had 8 years of Shrub, 8 years of the Great One who got away with so much, and 4 years of a Republican. This is the first time Team Blue elites have been under a microscope. PR is all they know. Remember these people said it was bad Trump wasn’t filling government jobs. Who would have these jobs if Trump was slightly less lazy.

      Bill Clinton was a PR guy, but he had some decent people working there and they occasionally tried stuff that wasn’t entirely heinous at the time.

      1. ambrit

        ‘Things’ are very very bad when Bill Clinton’s administration now looks like a Golden Age.
        It sounds like the Emperor Nero’s spin doctors saying that the days of the Divine Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus (Caligula) were pretty good, all things considered.

  12. Amfortas the hippie

    i signed up for twitter(on my laptop) a few weeks ago…because they had made it difficult to just read twit-threads without doing so.
    today, i actually tweeted for the first time…to Jayapal…told her that they are awesome and to keep kicking centrist ass…from a country hippie in texas.
    i’m pretty mad at senima, manchin and pelosi about all of this…and several house blue dogs that i wouldn’t allow into any party i was in charge of.
    same as the healthcare fiasco, during obamatime…blanche lincoln,and that whiney lieberman, etc.
    i pox on centrists/corpsedems/versailles-dems/blue dogs/third way.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and, re: sinema:
      “Sinema has “privately told colleagues she will not accept any corporate or income tax rate increases,” according to the Times, reportedly sparked a late scramble to add a carbon tax or other revenue-raisers to the bill to help pay for Biden’s proposals to expand Medicare and Medicaid, provide free child care and community college, expand family care funding and combat climate change, among other measures.”(https://www.salon.com/2021/09/27/arizona-democrats-threaten-no-confidence-vote-against-sinema-as-she-blocks-hikes/)

      i remind, that there’s a five sided hole in the middle of the largest building in Arlington, VA.
      i mean, if they need some money, and all.
      (he rest of this article is infuriating)

      1. hunkerdown

        Firefox extensions, too. I use one called “Nitter redirect”.

        For me, it’s been enough to clear and block all cookies when at twitter.com to avoid their nagwall. I think uBlock Origin can be used to configure that, if one’s browser doesn’t provide a native interface for blocking cookies by site.

        1. Late Introvert

          Wow! I have posted the extension that shall not be named many times here on NC, and SkyNet ate every one. I won’t test my fate again.

          Recommended. It breaks the internet in all the right ways.

  13. shinola

    Re: “Dallas, Boston Fed presidents announce resignations following controversial stock trades” [New York Post]…

    I was employed at the KC Fed in the late ’70’s as a telecom. analyst (checking phone bills & assigning phone costs by dept, determining when additional phones & phone lines were needed – that sort of thing). Even at that lowly level, new employee orientation included a lecture on doing anything that might even imply trading on an “insiders” prior knowledge of Fed moves. I was also told that the top exec’s were supposed to keep their financial holdings/investments in some sort of blind trust arrangement…

    I guess now only the most blatant violations of that policy result in any kind disciplinary action.

  14. Raymond Sim

    That drop in positivity in the South is the kind of thing that makes me queasy. Is the data for southern states actually collected and processed separately somehow?

    A super fast-riser that the tests are missing could look just like that. Right now the South is the part of the country most likely to have produced a variant packing unwelcome suprises, and is also likely currently experiencing the kind of maximum in acquired immunity that sends up-and-comers to the big leagues.

    In other words, while it’s probably an artifact, it comes just as I’m anxiously waiting to see what emerges from the latest waning phase of the pandemic in Dixie, and a sudden vanishing of the enemy from our radar screens is one of my nightmare scenarios.

    1. Yves Smith

      Alabama does have a pattern of once or twice a month, ginormous increases in reported cases which is clearly a catch up.

      Florida data is a total mess and even more so due to recent changes made.

      There have been many reports of hospital overload. That may have led all but the very most desperate probable Covid cases to stay home and hope they could beat it on their own.

      1. Raymond Sim

        Yes, the persistent confusion of the past couple months has me not quite sure what the positiivity rate actually signifies in a lot of places.

        The thought the precipitous decline might be due to a mass change in public behavior hadn’t occured to me. It’s distressing to contemplate. I sure hope it’s just an artifact.

        I spent the afternoon today looking into how I might make an educated guess as to how many people Covid has taken out of the workforce. Looking at the general prognosis with Covid, the nature of the typical long-term symptoms, and the current demographics of infection, I’m starting to think there may be a huge problem sitting ignored in plain sight. Actually, that’s the story of the whole pandemic isn’t it?

  15. Matthew G. Saroff

    In the case of Raimondo I think that the driving issue here is that she’s an empty suit whose shtick is primarily self-dealing and other forms of corruption for Wall Street.

  16. Carolinian

    Amy Walter

    these early mistakes go directly to the very rationale of his presidency; that it would be low drama and high competence

    I thought his rationale was “i’m not Bernie” and–of course–“I’m can beat Trump” (which he did, with the help of the press suppressing that Hunter laptop). Who thought Biden was competent? He made gaffs throughout the campaign.

    1. Tom Doak

      Nobody thought Biden was competent. But 100% of the PMC thought the PMC was competent and that they would be running things for old Joe.

  17. ambrit

    Well, it looks like Pelosi is resorting to the old, tried and true, “divide and conquer” strategy. I’ll put my money on her somehow being “constrained by circumstances” in not being able to bring up the $3.5 trillion social safety net bill if the infrastructure bill passes independently. What with the debt ceiling, the budget, and the reconciliation bill piling up in Washington, I say, let the entire thing fall apart rather that cave in yet again. The Republicans managed to extract significant concessions from the dominant Democrat Party of the day simply because their threat of stopping everything was credible. It’s time for the so called Progressives to carry out their threat to scuttle the entire program rather than allow a piecemeal series of Establishment approved bills pass.
    If the Government shuts down, it will, politically speaking, all redound to the detriment of the Democrat Party leadership.
    As is often quoted here from Mr. Herbert: “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.”
    The present political situation is a pivotal moment for the Progressives in Congress.

    1. Charger01

      I would wager that the progressives fall in line behind Pelosi, who will be poleaxed by one or two “moderates” that will cosign the destruction of both bills.

  18. Raymond Sim

    When I saw ‘Cabal Anthropology’ my first thought was of the way so much anthropological ‘theory’ has had more of revealed religion about it than science.

    If it were possible to protect our weak-minded fellow citizens from crackpot theories, perhaps somehow to ‘innoculate’ our youth with critical thinking skills that would be great, but whackadoodlery is endemic in this country. We just have to live with it.

    Also, though I don’t care for the term, the ‘Deep State’ is real, and every country there’s ever been has had one. Prove me wrong.

  19. marym

    Re: Republican funhouse

    What problem do they plan to address by “stepping up ‘poll watching’” ??? Rhetorical question.

    Also the linked article says the RNC plans to increase “poll watchers” but has video and text regarding people banging on windows at a Detroit tabulation site. There were already observers there, about 400 that, according to a report at the time

    “…included: 134 Republican challengers; 134 Democratic challengers and 134 nonpartisan challengers, including groups like the ACLU and the League of Women voters”

    but the crowd wanted more people in. The second link below has the.response from the motion to intervene for the defense.


    1. Amfortas the hippie

      they want to be able to fire up all their true believers to go all sturmateibeilung(sp-20) and vigilante(see recent texas abortion “law”)…and pass it off as “Individuals”…”nothing to do with us…we ain’t liable”
      pretty craven for even the goptea.
      i hope it bites them in the nivvokks, and some wokester mob learns how to engineer such a “legal strategy” to bring the torch.
      ( i waffle between wanting a calm, humane and rational decline into post-empire….and wishing angrily that it would all burn, so that we’re at least entertained…as long as the internet lasts)

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yeah…while managing all my recent chaos, i’ve been thinking a lot about what the texas gop(and gop in general) are up to with all that.
          it’s a 180 from all the “Tort Reform” they were so keen on for so long…and the consequences, going forward, are frightening.
          add in the “everybody can carry a hand cannon”….as well as the long term evisceration of public education…the long term engineering of precarity…and the damn the torpedoes strategy of legislative skullduggery…
          it’s almost as if they(or those they work for) know that the jig is up….and a Hobbseian War of All against All/state of nature looks like the best way forward to them.
          (or merely that suffering and chaos is what the Grasshopper God in the basement of the NYSE demands)

  20. none

    It occurs to me that if we consider “fully vaccinate” to mean “whatever the CDC recommends”, then the percentage of fully vaccinated people in the US has just suddenly dropped by a significant amount, since 3rd shots (boosters) are now available to seniors but not that many have gotten them yet. I’m trying to locate one for my mom even as I type.

    The percentage will drop again soon, once vax for kids become available…

  21. Raymond Sim

    Regarding Covid dynamics in the vaccinated, I missed it at the time, but way back in March breakthrough infections caused by virus from the R.1 lineage were documented at a skilled nursing facility in Kentucky:


    Which is just to say, it’s been a long time since there was any doubt at all that vaccine escape is for real. Note, by the way, that it’s a CDC report. What’s Walensky’s excuse?

  22. flora

    re: It’s interesting that the two most, er, innovative techniques of disciplining labor originated in Blue States: Proposition 22 for gig workers, in California; and now this, in New York.

    Also interesting is the net outflow migrations from both California and New York to other states like Texas and Florida and Colorado over the last several years. People ‘voting’ with their feet?

  23. lyman alpha blob

    ‘Renominating you means gambling that for the next five years, a Republican majority at the Federal Reserve with a Republican chair who has regularly voted to deregulate Wall Street won’t drive this economy over a financial cliff again,’ Warren said.”

    So would it be better to gamble on Democrats who voted to deregulate Wall Street not driving the economy over a cliff? Remind me, what president was it that could have vetoed the Glass Steagall repeal? And what party was Warren a member of for such a long time? Warren really is turning out to be quite the political hack.

      1. Big River Bandido

        More to the point, the entire Democrat Party in Congress enthusiastically supported it, and Clinton enthusiastically signed it.

  24. allan

    Contribution of NIH funding to new drug approvals 2010–2016 [Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA]

    You’ll never guess.

    This report shows that NIH funding contributed to published research associated with every one of the 210 new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration from 2010–2016. Collectively, this research involved >200,000 years of grant funding totaling more than $100 billion. The analysis shows that >90% of this funding represents basic research related to the biological targets for drug action rather than the drugs themselves. The role of NIH funding thus complements industry research and development, which focuses predominantly on applied research. This work underscores the breath and significance of public investment in the development of new therapeutics and the risk that reduced research funding would slow the pipeline for treating morbid disease.

    And what do you intend to do about it?

  25. Katiebird

    Why did I let myself start to think we’d get those teeny-tiny improvements to Medicare and the other stuff in the social-infrastructure bill? I’m feeling sick inside now.

    1. ambrit

      I empathize. It is very much like trying to reconcile your image of a smiling Uncle Joe with the furtive little man who puts his hand down your jeans.
      When Bill Clinton basically got away with rape, I knew that it was all over for the Democrat Party. The point is that the party insiders should have known about the man’s complete lack of self restraint and weeded him out of the contest for Top Dog early. That the party insiders tacitly endorsed him essentially defines the Party, and not in a good way.
      Throw in another severe variant of the coronavirus tearing through America and we will see the Democrat Party completely discredited. What, in that case, does the Republican Party have to run on? A thoroughly debunked economic scam from forty years ago? An increasingly destructive “small government” ideology?
      I am not sanguine about our prospects.

      1. Carolinian

        Just reading that Harris poll has Biden at 46 and Trump at 48!

        Will Joe bring back an even older and dottier Donald? Yegads.

      2. Katiebird

        Thank you, ambrit I really appreciate that — I should have known. I remember that he and Hillary had to go on TV to deny all such behavior. And the election went on. (I never liked him but I can’t remember who I caucused for) I used to believe all the Democrats pretty speeches and I haven’t for a long time. But somehow I slid into this one.

        The covid thing — I think we’re doomed. People I’m related to think they can fly all over visiting (us even though we’re hunkered down and tell them so).

        1. ambrit

          Amfortas ye hippie above mentioned ‘koyaanisqatsi’ times. That Amerind word means roughly, “life out of balance.” A better description of our times I cannot think of.
          Stay safe. Try to maintain balance.

        2. ObjectiveFunction

          Roger Ebert, 1983 review of the film.

          “Koyaanisqatsi,” then, is an invitation to knee-jerk environmentalism of the most sentimental kind. It is all images and music. There is no overt message except the obvious one (the Grand Canyon is prettier than Manhattan).

          Although a Hopi word is used to evoke unspoiled nature, no Hopis are seen, and the contrast in the movie doesn’t seem to be between American Indian society and Los Angeles expressways, but between expressways and a beautiful world empty of man. Thanks, but no thanks.

          It has been hailed as a vast and sorrowful vision, but to what end? If the people in all those cars on all those expressways are indeed living crazy lives, their problem is not the expressway (which is all that makes life in L.A. manageable) but perhaps social facts such as unemployment, crime, racism, drug abuse and illiteracy — issues so complicated that a return to nature seems like an elitist joke at their expense.

          Today, it seems like Ebert would be writing for the American Conservative.

          1. Acacia

            > no Hopis are seen

            Sounds like Ebert wanted the “Crying Indian” from the 1970s “Keep America Beautiful” TV PSAs. I will give him a lot of credit for scripting Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, though.

          2. Carolinian

            Perhaps the environmentalism is somewhat perfunctory and Ebert’s perspective on freeways might have been different in AGW saturated 2021.

            But it is a success aesthetically with a great score by Philip Glass and a style that is a Bolero crescendo of images that leaves one giddy. The message is that humans in our great multitudes are overwhelming the planet.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              I thought all 3 films were pretty powerful…but that one(the first) is my fave.
              important enough for me to obtain all 3 on dvd.
              and the concept, alone, is something i think about all the time…with just about every aspect of our current situation, from environment(herbicidal manure!) to economics(kill the poors!) to the overall zeitgeist.
              i stagger through the front pasture…the billion grasshoppers leap about…frenzied…get stuck in my hair…life out of balance, indeed(grasshoppers are better this year, finally)

    2. Lena

      I let myself dream of a better life, too, not just for my family but for so many others who have suffered for too long. How naive was that? I’m also feeling sick inside tonight.

  26. IMOR

    40% of the problem with contemporary media and maybe 50% of the decline of the country in the last 40+ years, right here:
    “…Hampton [SC], a tiny place where every road in has just two lanes.”
    The [famblog]? Place could hve 60K – 150k people within a few miles, 50K itself, and ‘only’ have two-lane roads- and this is written in a tone that strongly implies the reporter feels the same about and almost wrote, “where every road in has just two LANES.”

    1. Carolinian

      Hampton, South Carolina – Wikipedia
      Hampton is a town in Hampton County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 2,808 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Hampton County. The town and the county are named after Wade Hampton III, a Confederate general in the Civil War.

      I would comment on this story but from where I live (where some roads have ten lanes) the Tennessee Williams atmospherics of downstate are like another world rather than our aspirational Atlanta north beehive. The root of the narrative has something to do with a motor boat accident.

  27. Mikel

    “Top CDC official steps aside as head of pandemic task force”

    “After all, your professional careerist, especially the younger sort, doesn’t mind sleeping under their desk if the payoff is advancement, especially in a hot field like Covid…”

    Covid has become too politicized. And all the “mandates” and “passports” around it are not a part of much other research. Take the “wrong” position just doing your job and your name gets out there and boom…you’re cancelled.

    1. Wukchumni

      Everything is CalPERS, or how I learned to stop worrying & love the debt bomb…

      A present-day Spanish name is manzanilla de la muerte, “little apple of death”. This refers to the fact that manchineel is one of the most toxic trees in the world: the tree has milky-white sap which contains numerous toxins and can cause blistering. The sap is present in every part of the tree: the bark, the leaves, and the fruit.


  28. VietnamVet

    The parallels between wars and pandemics cannot be ignored. Privatized military and healthcare cannot win wars or end pandemics; they are only in it for the money. The US federal government is utterly corrupt and incompetent. It is incapable of protecting teachers. This is not unlike Hamburger Hill. That battle was completely pointless. The sick teacher has every right to be angry. She was lied to. She is cannon fodder.

    Americans are not being provided with safe workplaces nor adequate healthcare. There are only two choices; risk getting infected or just quit.

  29. Eleanor

    They say I suffer, perhaps they’re right, and that I’d feel better if I did this, said that, if my body stirred, if my head understood, if they went silent and departed, perhaps they’re right, how would I know about these things, how would I understand what they’re talking about, I’ll never stir, never speak, they’ll never go silent, never depart, they’re on their 47th booster for the Zeta96 variant, but they’ll never vax me, they’ll never stop trying, that’s that, I’m listening. Well I prefer that, I must say I prefer that, that what, oh you know, who you, oh I suppose the audience, well well, so there’s an audience, it’s a public show, you buy your seat and wait, perhaps it’s free, a free show, you take your seat and you wait for it to begin, or perhaps it’s compulsory, a compulsory show, watching a cadaver get vaccinated for the 300th time, you wait for the compulsory show to begin, it takes time, you hear a voice, perhaps it’s a recitation, that’s the show, someone reciting, selected passages, old favourites, a Pfizer matinée, or someone improvising, you can barely hear him, that’s the show, you can’t leave, you’re afraid to leave, it might be worse elsewhere, you make the best of it, you try and be reasonable, you came too early, here we’d need Latin, it’s only beginning, it hasn’t begun, he’s only preluding, clearing his throat, alone in his dressing-room, he’ll appear any moment, wearing a mask, he’ll begin any moment, or it’s the stage-manager, giving his instructions, his last recommendations, before the curtain rises, that’s the show, waiting for the show….

  30. Basil Pesto

    Last week, a recent study reported in the BBC was linked suggesting Long Covid prevalence was on the order of 1 in 40 (with pretty limited methodology). Contra, research just released argues that LC prevalence is closer to 37% for the 3-6 month period.

    Last week’s study was the lowest estimate I’ve seen, and this is the highest I’ve seen. This brings the range of LC prevalence estimates that I’m aware of to 2.5 – 37%

    One thing I’d note about this study just from that article is the Anxiety/Depression category (and I don’t see why they’re lumped together but I digress), which is reported at 15%. Speaking as a chronic saddo, this strikes me as a correlation/causation problem – is the psychiatric illness caused by the infection, or caused by the consequences of finding oneself dealing with chronic illness? Is this a distinction without a difference? Might the anxiety/depression be caused by the wider crisis and response to it, rather than the illness itself? These are all (to me) interesting questions but I don’t think they detract from the wider findings which, to my mind at least, further underline the need for caution and humility in the face of the virus.

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