2:00PM Water Cooler 9/29/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I will return with more on the overly dynamic Capitol Hill situation shortly. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Papua New Guinea is so noisy and busy!

* * *


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.

55.8% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Switzerland and Malaysia). We had been back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. 0.3% is the first non-Monday jump in that rate I can recall. Since is the number that should change if Biden’s mandates “work,” perhaps the mandates are having some effect. 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. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, despite anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all.

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

Better everywhere, including the Northern Latitudes and even the Rockies. 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? It seems not. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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: 711,222 709,218. Now it’s gone up…. 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?

* * *


“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

NOTE: Time-stamps are publication dates, not event dates. Nevertheless, they approximate the sequence of events.

Life’s rich pageant:

[09-29, 13:51PM] “Democrats expect Pelosi will reschedule infrastructure vote” [The Hill]. “Two Democratic senators say they expect Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to cancel a scheduled vote Thursday on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, saying she will not have the votes to get it passed. The two Democratic senators said they had been in contact with House members and that they did not believe the votes would be there for the bill with at least two-dozen progressives planning to vote ‘no’ on infrastructure without a separate vote on a larger social spending package. ‘They will not pass it on Thursday. Enough of the House members understand that they would be gutting the Build Back Better agenda,’ said a Democratic lawmaker familiar with the internal discussions.’ ‘Nancy will pull it.’ We’re pretty sure she won’t put it up for a vote. She’ll meet with the moderates and she’ll say, ‘Listen, I don’t put these things up when the votes aren’t there. It doesn’t help your cause to see it fail, it doesn’t help the president to see it fail,’’ one of the two senators said. Pelosi had promised the bill would receive a vote on Monday and then delayed the vote to Thursday.” • Big if true, since (a) this would mean that Pelosi can’t count, and (b) “progressives” muscled her, implying (c) that Jayapal can count. Of course, the anonymous Senators could be hoping that saying these words will make them come true…

[09-29, 13:19PM] “Pelosi defuses debt standoff with centrists, turns to rest of crises” [Politico]. “During a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning, a furious Pelosi chided roughly half a dozen moderates who had been privately threatening to tank a measure to hike the debt limit, which they saw as a pointless political maneuver with the Senate GOP firmly opposed, according to several people listening… By lunchtime Wednesday, Democratic leaders had struck a deal with those centrists — led by Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) — to secure the votes for the debt limit raise. In exchange, Pelosi offered a vote on a measure that would essentially create a report card on the nation’s fiscal standing.” • Oh. A report.

[09-29, 12:53PM] “Pelosi signals House vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill may not occur Thursday” [MarketWatch]. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday suggested the U.S. House of Representatives may not vote Thursday as planned on a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, as she and her fellow Democrats struggle to reach agreements on their spending proposals…. Progressive House Democrats continue to say they won’t support the infrastructure bill unless the party’s $3.5 trillion package targeting ‘human infrastructure’ moves ahead in tandem, but moderate Democratic senators are opposed [***cough*** ka-ching ***cough***] to the larger measure’s price tag. ‘There was this, ‘Oh, my God, we can’t go to that number. Well, that completely sets off the timetable,’ Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday.” • Commentary:

[09-29, 11:37AM] “In A Win For Progressives, Nancy Pelosi Raises The Bar For Infrastructure Vote” [HuffPo]. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) suggested Wednesday that Democrats need to agree among themselves on the text of a major budget bill before the House can vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Her comments appeared to raise the bar for an infrastructure bill to move forward, making it far less likely a vote will occur on Thursday as planned. Progressive Democrats in the House have threatened to withhold their votes from the infrastructure bill until the House and Senate also pass the Build Back Better bill, which contains major Democratic priorities on paid leave and child care. In response to a question about the progressive threat, Pelosi implied there does need to be an agreement on ‘legislative language’ for the budget bill in order for the infrastructure vote to occur. ‘I think that we come to a place where we have agreement in legislative language ― not just principal ― in legislative language that the president supports,’ Pelosi said Wednesday.”

UPDATE [09-29, 11:06AM] “Sanders: Nothing ‘God Given’ About House Voting Tomorrow” [Talking Points Memo]. “After Pelosi’s very, very important pivot to saying that there needs to be an agreement on the reconciliation package’s legislative language (that has Biden’s support) before the House votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill (which is scheduled for tomorrow), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reacts. ‘I don’t think there’s anything God-given about tomorrow,’ he told reporters. ‘I think that what in fact needs to happen is that the Senate needs to pass a strong reconciliation bill. And then the House can pass the infrastructure bill. I was never a great fan of picking a particular date in the House. And if that is pushed back, I think that’s fine.’ He added that, after consulting with his House counterparts, he thinks there is a ‘reasonable chance’ that the bill would be defeated if it came up tomorrow.” •

UPDATE [09-29, 9:26AM]:

Yesterday, Clyburn said (paraphrasing) he didn’t feel like whipping. Perhaps he changed his mind because Pelosi decided she couldn’t get the infrastructure bill through with Republican votes. And perhaps the result of Clyburn testing the water is what caused the flurry of stories about Pelosi pulling the bill.

UPDATE [09-29, 8:39AM] “Kill the Bill” [Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo]. “To the extent we can be clear on goals, to the extent we must shape transitory tactics with a clear understanding of where we want to end up, a final outcome that is an infrastructure bill and nothing else is just not tenable. It leaves too many critical priorities unaddressed – especially climate – and makes a mockery of the whole Democratic coalition. If it’s the BIF and nothing else, kill the BIF.” • I don’t know what I’m doing quoting Josh Marshall. It’s a funny old world. Commentary:

Worth noting that neither Marshall nor Bouie are wild-eyed radicals.

UPDATE [09-29, 6:32AM] “Why Biden won’t beg” [Axios]. “‘He’s not gonna beg,’ said an official with firsthand knowledge of the president’s mindset. ‘His view is: ‘You’re Democrats, and you’re with your president or you’re not.” The hardball is driven by several factors, according to people who have discussed the negotiations with Biden: He’s from a generation of politicians for whom party loyalty is automatic; He’s confident Speaker Pelosi will deliver; He believes he’ll ultimately get a big win.” • The FiveThirtyEight post one-half-hour before this, immediately below, makes the same point in a different way.

UPDATE [09-29, 6:00AM] “Why House Democrats May Be More United Than They Seem” [FiveThirtyEight]. “[I]t’s really the narrowness of Democrats’ congressional majorities that makes passing big legislation difficult, as even a small number of defectors can make the difference in a bill passing or failing. For instance, the number of House moderates who attempted to hold up the reconciliation bill last month was only nine — enough to make the difference in a tight chamber, yes, but a drop in the bucket compared with the entire Democratic caucus, and plenty of moderate Democrats in the House didn’t stand in the way….. When it comes down to brass tacks, Democrats are (so far) the most united House caucus of the last three sessions of Congress. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Biden Score, which measures how often individual members of Congress vote in line with Biden’s position, 203 out of the House’s 223 Democrats1 have voted with Biden 100 percent of the time, and all but two have voted with him at least 90 percent of the time. This makes the current Democratic caucus far more cohesive than both the current Republican caucus and the Democratic caucus during the 115th Congress.”

UPDATE [09-29, 4:30AM] “Biden bets it all on unlocking the Manchinema puzzle” [Politico]. “Biden’s game plan: Get an agreement framework from Manchin and Sinema soon so he can show progressives there is a path forward on reconciliation. The White House is hoping such a framework can convince progressives to then back the bipartisan infrastructure bill, even if it means the vote on reconciliation comes later. Key to that is a commitment from the president and Democratic leadership that they would push through a social spending plan before year’s end, two people familiar with the White House’s thinking said.” Except “before year’s end” wasn’t the deal. “As the president works the Senate, administration officials are reassuring progressive House members that Biden wants both bills to pass and that the White House is focused on ‘the 5 percent of Democrats in Congress who are not on board with both bills,’ said a progressive source familiar with the White House’s conversations.” • Why not tell Manchin the Justice Department will play nice and not prosecute his daughter? As for Sinema, I don’t know what to do about her, except send her up in a small plane.

* * * Yesterday * * *

[09-28, 7:30PM] “‘Mutually assured destruction’: House liberals dig in on halting infrastructure bill” [NBC]. “Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said there’s a lack of trust that the Senate will act after it has ignored many other bills that the House has passed. ‘We have to hold fast and strong to make sure that we pass reconciliation in both houses before we move forward to [infrastructure],’ he said. ‘Because if we don’t, who knows what reconciliation is going to look like after Manchin and Sinema and others take a chopping block to it.'” • Exactly. That was the rationale for the original deal.

[09-28, 4:17PM] “The Senate’s rules referee will be out for two weeks, during a critical period for Democrats” [Politico]. “The Senate parliamentarian, the arbiter of what can be included in Democrats’ sprawling reconciliation bill, will be out for two weeks for surgery to treat stage 3 breast cancer. How lawmakers learned: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement to their respective caucuses Tuesday.” • Nice timing. Hopefully, Schumer installs a pliant stooge. I’m tired of this “Let’s consult with our elected President, the Senate Parliamentarian” crap.

UPDATE [09-28, 3:26PM] Here is Sanders’ statement:

(I checked, and this is the complete statement.) OK, but I don’t know what “strong” means. The $3.5 trillion top line is conspicously absent.

[09-28, 3:09PM] Sanders to the House:

UPDATE [09-28, 3:02PM] “‘Betrayal’: Progressives Rage After Nancy Pelosi Walks Back Infrastructure Promise” [HuffPo]. “At a private Democratic caucus meeting on Monday, Pelosi told members that passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate passed earlier this year cannot wait for the Build Back Better Act, Democrats’ ambitious social safety net and climate package. The circumstances had changed, Pelosi added, and the subsequent $3.5 trillion bill that progressives are pushing won’t be ready for floor action in time before a scheduled vote on the bipartisan bill this week… The announcement ― delinking passage of the two bills on the so-called “two-track” process that Democratic leaders talked up for months ― angered progressives in both the House and Senate. … Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), of the 95-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, called the move a ‘betrayal’ and threatened to vote no on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. … Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) confirmed the group’s stance in a statement, pledging that “a majority of our members will only vote for the infrastructure bill after the President’s visionary Build Back Better Act passes.’… ‘I voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill under the impression that the two were tied together. Had I known they weren’t, I might have approached it differently,’ Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told HuffPost. ‘I get it, circumstances change, but there’s no doubt it’s frustrating for those of us who believe it would have been better keeping them together.’ ‘We had a deal,’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) added. ‘And that deal was in place long before we voted here in the Senate.'” • Warren is, in fact, correct. And the leadership trying to retrade the deal just because Manchin and Sinema got bought, when the leadership also installed Manchin and Sinema precisely so that they could be bought…. Well, that’s a little rich.

[09-28, 2:51PM] Sanders on the deal:

Underlining: “That is the agreement that was made & that is the agreement that must be kept.” There’s a running gag limit to Lucy and the Football, and perhaps we’ve reached it.

* * *

“Kamala Harris sees solution to migration crisis in coffee beans, credit cards and Wi-Fi” [Los Angeles Times]. “[T]he expansion of a collaboration between small coffee farmers and Nespresso, a Swiss coffee giant, exemplifies the hope and limitations of a broader U.S. plan spearheaded by Vice President Kamala Harris to address the so-called root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Pitched to American audiences as a way to curb migration, the plan is premised on enlisting government and private companies to address crises in the region, which include drug cartel violence, natural disasters, environmental degradation, poverty and corruption. It calls for spending as much as $4 billion in American taxpayer dollars and spurring at least $750 million in private investments seeding an array of economic and social programs intended to instill everything from a more functional digital economy to democratic values. In the case of Nespresso, the U.S. administration hopes that the company’s practice of paying farmers more for coffee beans and the expertise of its agronomists will diminish the allure of smugglers offering would-be migrants a perilous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.” • Well, we put Harris in charge, and this is what we got. Will the School of the Americas be rebranded again?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“There is No Such Thing as ‘Punching Up’ or ‘Punching Down'” [Freddie DeBoer, FdB]. “What if – what if – “punching up vs. punching down” is a totally artificial construct that bends to accommodate whatever the person invoking it wants to believe? There is one rule: people I like are punching up, people I don’t are punching down. There is no deeper meaning to be had here. It’s just another tool for the overeducated and very online to dismiss stuff they don’t like. So perhaps we might just jettison the entire juvenile business. … I think it’s a sacred political duty to insist to these self-aggrandizing liberals that no, the world is not simple, no, you are not the protagonist of history, no, all of your heroes do not share your boutique collegiate politics, no, you don’t get to rest easy that you’re one of the good ones. You must remind them that they live in the confusing scrum of history like all the rest of us, and all of the trite political shorthand they’ve developed for good people and bad is just bullshit Twitter signaling for the already convinced.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

Tech: “YouTube to remove videos containing vaccine misinformation” [MarketWatch]. “YouTube said it would continue to allow videos on vaccine policies, new vaccine trials and historical vaccine successes or failures, as well as personal testimonials related to the vaccines. Those exceptions reflect what the company sees as the importance of public discussion and debate, it said.”

Tech: Google’s first data center, a thread:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 29 Fear (previous close: 26 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 25 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 29 at 12:58pm.

The Biosphere

“CFC ban bought us time to fight climate change, say scientists” [BBC]. “A worldwide ban on ozone-depleting chemicals in 1987 has averted a climate catastrophe today, scientists say. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, banning chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons, has now simulated our ‘world avoided’. Without the treaty, Earth and its flora would have been exposed to far more of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called it “perhaps the single most successful international agreement”. Continued and increased use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) would have contributed to global air temperatures rising by an additional 2.5°C by the end of this century, the international team of scientists found. Part of that would have been caused directly by CFCs, which are also potent greenhouse gases.”

“A River Reawakened” [Orion]. “We return each autumn to watch for salmon, the headline success story of dam removal, but this trip is timed for a different annual ritual. When the takedown of Elwha dams shifted from a crazy idea to imminent reality, revegetation specialists planned for the moment when water would drain away from two reservoirs, exposing land buried for a hundred years. An estimated 24 million cubic yards of sediment collected behind the dams, creating a challenge for ecologists who hoped to jump-start the process of plant succession. Their goal was to outrace invasive plant species in eight hundred acres laid bare by dewatering, and to set the stage for a future forest. Crews collected seeds from the Elwha Valley long before the dams came down, propagating native plants by the thousands. Volunteers transplanted more than 300,000 starts while teams prepared to scatter tons of natively sourced seed. As the final day approached, restoration ecologist Joshua Chenoweth added one last seed species to the master plan, despite limited supply: lupine, known for its nitrogen-fixing capacity. Ten years later, the trail into the former reservoir, once known as Lake Mills, begins at an abandoned boat ramp. Our family pushes through a young forest of cottonwood and willow saplings, crowding the ramp where kayaks once launched. We call out as we enter a dense thicket of growth, hoping to alert black bears. The sweet smell of lupine reaches us before we emerge from the willows, into a sea of purple. The former reservoir is awash in lupine. These flowers are the first step in a slow transformation from stranded sediment to mature forest.” • Gorgeous photographs.

Health Care

“Canada’s culture of silence on airborne virus transmission leaves many confused on how to best avoid infection” [Toronto Star]. “[M]any of our infectious disease and public health specialists — including our chief medical officers of health — seem to be unable to say the word ‘airborne’ or ‘aerosol’ out loud, and instead continue to emphasize measures such as deep cleaning and plexiglass panels…. Canada’s top public health organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), has produced strong, unbiased summaries of the evidence for airborne transmission…. But these summaries are very hard to find. They are not posted publicly, and PHAC has specifically requested that the reviews not be shared. In order to receive a copy, you first have to discover its existence, find the title and email PHAC for a copy. Evidently, our public health leaders have also not seen these documents, as they consistently dismiss the evidence. As such, Canadians remain confused as to the best methods of avoiding transmission. The focus is still on the neverending cleaning of surfaces and putting up splash guards (which are ineffective against airborne particles), instead of using properly fitting masks, moving our interactions outdoors, and improving our indoor air through ventilation upgrades (including easy solutions like opening windows and doors) and air filtration.


“The Meaning of MMT” [Working Paper Series no. 833, Banque de France]. This is a rather huffy attempted takedown of MMT, which I will let others more expert than me deal with. This sentence, however, caught my eye: “A major criticism is that MMT is unable to prove its claims given the lack of formal modelling.” Since when did “formal modeling” prove anything?

Zeitgeist Watch

I wonder who got the contract for the kits:

Sorta like the way they have vending machines for all the essentials in Japan. Next, air.

Guillotine Watch

“The Ultra-Rich Have an Unusual Tax Problem: Not Knowing When to Sell” [Bloomberg]. “Clarity on the timing of tax hikes would make them easier to avoid, but almost everything about the proposals by the Biden administration and the Democrats is up in the air.” • That’s a damn shame.

Class Warfare

“Instacart Workers Are Asking Users to #DeleteInstacart” [Vice]. “A group of Instacart gig workers is requesting that all customers who shop on the platform boycott the grocery delivery app to pressure it to improve conditions for workers. Using the hashtag #DeleteInstacart, workers are trying to pressure the company ahead of a rumored IPO, one of the most highly anticipated of the year. ‘Continuing to utilize Instacart’s services would only enable its unethical behavior, endorse its continued exploitation of workers, and reward its corporate greed,’ the collective of Instacart gig workers wrote in an open letter to customers published Monday. Instacart workers on the platform are demanding a reinstatement of a commission based pay model, the reinstatement of 10 percent default tip, a more transparent system for assigning orders to workers, occupational death benefits, and a rating system that does not punish workers for reasons that are beyond their control, such as inventory issues at a grocery store. Until these demands are met, the Instacart gig workers say they’ll continue to call for a boycott from customers. According to Gig Workers Collective organizers, Instacart’s gig workers are predominantly women, many of them single moms with childcare responsibilities.”

I owe my soul….

Lateral thinking:

“Retirees worried about the stock market cratering can use these portfolio strategies” [CNBC]. • What a good idea it was to replace Social Security with playing the ponies.

“‘Most Americans Today Believe the Stock Market Is Rigged, and They’re Right’” [Bloomberg]. “In the U.S., an insider is defined as a senior executive, board member, or any shareholder who owns 10% or more of a company. There are about 82,000 of them, and every time they trade they’re required by law to file a disclosure, known as a Form 4, within two days.” There are not very many of the Shing. More: “It’s not just [insiders] at the top of the rankings who constantly beat the market. Purchases made by U.S. executives outperformed the S&P 500 over the ensuing 12 months by an average of five percentage points between 2015 and 2020, according to a TipRanks analysis. The gap might seem scandalous to those with only a passing acquaintance with U.S. insider trading rules, which make it illegal for insiders to trade using material—or financially significant—nonpublic information. And yet on Wall Street it’s long been an open secret that insiders trade on what they know…. growing body of research suggests that many insiders are trading well thanks to something more than luck or judgment. It indicates that insider trading by executives is pervasive and that nobody—not the regulators, not the Department of Justice, not the companies themselves—is doing anything to stop it. ‘There is a lack of appreciation for the amount of opportunistic abuse that exists under the current system, the amount of egregiousness,’ says Daniel Taylor, a professor at the Wharton School and the head of the Wharton Forensic Analytics Lab. ‘Most Americans today believe the stock market is rigged, and they’re right.'”

News of the Wired

“How Smartphone Cameras Have Impacted Documentary Photographers” (interview) [Martin Parr, PetaPixel]. “;’So, the only thing that counts now is the quality of the story and the quality of the images that you’re taking. The technical thing is all being sorted,’ he explains.” • Hmm. I doubt very much this is true. I would urge that for any creative medium, including writing, the “technical thing” is never sorted.

“Danish artist makes off with pile of cash intended to be art” [Associated Press]. “A Danish artist who was was given a pile of money by a museum with which to create a piece of artwork, submitted two empty canvases — titled ‘Take the Money and Run.’ Jens Haaning was given the equivalent of nearly $84,000 in Danish kroner and euro bank notes by the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg. For its exhibition on labor conditions and money, entitled ‘Work It Out’ that opened Sept. 24, the museum commissioned him to recreate two of his earlier pieces, which featured bank notes attached to a canvas representing the average annual wage in Denmark and Austria. As well as lending him the notes, the museum also paid him 25,000 kroner ($3,900) for the work. But when museum officials received the completed artworks, they were blank. ‘The artwork is that I have taken the money, Haaning told a radio show on the P1 channel that is part of Danish broadcaster DR this week. He declined to say where the money was.”

* * *

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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Late summer, Chicago.”

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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. Ranger Rick

    That’s a remarkably narrow definition of “insider” — reminds me a lot of the remarkably narrow definition of bribery.

    One would be forgiven for thinking an insider is anyone with access to nonpublic financial information and strategic decisionmaking, not just the executives: anyone involved in payment for order flow, brokers, market makers, dark pools, Congress, the judiciary and the bar, state and federal government employees and contractors. There’s also all of their relatives and friends.

    1. curlydan

      That’s exactly what I thought. Maybe they used their “insider” definition for just those who need to file a Form 4?–which is way to narrow. I’m no executive of my company, but I am an insider and have restricted trading.

      Pretty much most people in a finance department or anyone in IT with access to performance databases should be considered an insider as well.

    2. shinola

      Declaration by an econ. prof:

      -The stack market is the only form of gambling that’s legal in all 50 states.
      -Anyone who consistently “beats the market” on stock trades is most likely using inside information.

      Not so shocking other than this was in 1973…

    3. jimmy cc

      yes, it is a SEC definition used to determine who has to file the disclosure forms.

      anyone who acts on non public information could be charged with insider trading…could being the key word.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Kamala Harris sees solution to migration crisis in coffee beans, credit cards and Wi-Fi

    Because convincing the Afghans to grow engineered rice (or whatever it was) instead of opium worked out so well?

  3. lyman alpha blob

    Sorry for the repetition, but I’ll ask again here since I commented late in links today about the infrastructure vote. The quotes in this article from today’s links seem to suggest that some of the Dem holdouts would be willing to vote for the infrastructure bill if there were an merely an assurance that there would be a reconciliation bill later. I thought the original deal was pass the reconciliation bill first or no deal on the infrastructure? And I thought that’s what the Dem leadership had committed to as well since they control both chambers of Congress and the presidency and there’s really no excuse if they don’t do it that way.

    Bernie has it right in the tweet above – we’ll see if the rest of the “progressives” stick with Bernie or find new and interesting ways to cave in while claiming to still be “fighting” for us…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I thought the original deal was pass the reconciliation bill first or no deal on the infrastructure?

      That was the deal, as material I added in the UPDATEs just now shows. And everybody knows it was the deal. And everybody knows why that was the deal: To prevent the $3.5 trillion bill from being gutted.

      1. jsn

        But gut it they must! As you keep pointing out, this is what the party Democratic Leadership designed is PAID to do.

        Progressive intransigence presents an apparent risk of rice bowl apocalypse. Can you imagine a Democrat Party responsive to it’s voters? That would destroy their carefully crafted market.

        All our formal institutions have been rendered “commitment incapable” by the Citizens United Political Marketplace: no policy that displaces an existing rent stream can be made and if someone tries, that entire stream of rents is available to purchase politicians as required to perpetuate status quo. With Sinema and Manchin they’re explicitly selling this service in public. This is the breakthrough of the Trump era: it’s all in the open now and only the corporate press is paid to not see it. A hopeful thought…I think.

        1. John

          A party that responds to what the voters want! A party that steps up to pass legislation that is overwhelmingly desired by the people at large! Quel horreur!

            1. skk

              That’s what Jefferson Davis said when the Republican candidate Lincoln won the Presidential election in 1860 and Davis argued for seceding by his state thus : “…And the time is at hand when the great battle is to be fought between the defenders of the constitutional government and the votaries of mob rule, fanaticism and anarchy.”


              1. jsn

                The fundamental character of imperial politics is unchanging.

                Spaulding wrote a history of the fiat currency regime the Republicans fought the Civil War with by taking clippings from “The Congressional Record”.

                In it , even in the absence of the secessionist southerners, you see all the stock characters of a governing imperial elite more concerned with its privileges than survival of the republic.

    2. Lee

      Budgetary perspective:

      “Over the 20 years since 9/11, the U.S. has spent $21 trillion on foreign and domestic militarization.
      Of that total, $16 trillion went to the military — including at least $7.2 trillion for military contracts.
      Another $3 trillion went to veterans’ programs, $949 billion went to Homeland Security, and $732 billion went to federal law enforcement.

      For far less than it spent on militarization since 9/11, the U.S. could reinvest to meet critical challenges that have been neglected for the last 20 years:

      $4.5 trillion could fully decarbonize the U.S. electric grid.

      $2.3 trillion could create 5 million jobs at $15 per hour with benefits and cost-of-living adjustments for 10 years.

      $1.7 trillion could erase student debt.

      $449 billion could continue the extended Child Tax Credit for another 10 years.

      $200 billion could guarantee free preschool for every 3-and-4-year old for 10 years, and raise teacher pay.

      $25 billion could provide COVID vaccines for the populations of low-income countries.”

      The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11

      1. Pelham

        Thank you for this. Would it be unreasonable to introduce a rule that however much the US spends on undeclared wars must also be spent domestically on things that ostensibly benefit us?

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    “You must remind them that they live in the confusing scrum of history like all the rest of us, and all of the trite political shorthand they’ve developed for good people and bad is just bullshit Twitter signaling for the already convinced.”

    Everybody knowing
    that goodness is good
    makes wickedness.

    Tao te Ching #2 (UK Le Guin, trans.)

    In other words, dualism is the cause of a lot of the trouble in the world.

      1. Alex Cox

        Ursula K LeGuin did not translate the Tao Te Ching. She didn’t speak Chinese. Instead she paraphrased other translations. You can do this too!

        1. CanCyn

          I’ll give you your first sentences but argue vehemently the next two. Her interpretations are more than mere paraphrases and arguably mot anyone could do what LeGuin in anywhere near such lovely and engaging words.

        2. jr

          This writer divides Tao Te Ching translations into two camps, Chinese speakers and those who paraphrase:


          “I’d broadly divide the translations available in the market into two categories. The first are the ones that are translated directly from the Chinese text. The translators of these works are conversant with the Chinese language and culture. The second are renditions of the book of Lao Tzu based on existing translations. Background of these translators vary. They range (from) enthusiasts and established authors to motivational speakers.

          Both categories have very good works. Generally speaking, if you are doing scholarly research, you should choose the works belonging to the first category. Otherwise, both are fine.”

          As you seem to reject those who paraphrase, I’ll look at one from a Chinese speaker:

          “When the people of the Earth all know the good as good,
          There arises (the recognition of) evil.”

          Lin Yutang

          So the knowledge of evil arises from the certainty of good. I suppose one could then say the knowledge of good arises from the certainty of evil. Certainty creates it’s opposite.

          Now, here I’m switching to Western esotericism, to walk between those polarities, to follow the Middle Pillar, is to seek balance. Being certain of the Right Hand Pillar or the Left Hand Pillar, Wisdom as compared to Intelligence, Mercy as compared to Strength, Victory as compared to Glory, as the proper path is therefore an imbalance. Thus, uncertainty is balance. To be clear, I wasn’t trying to translate the Tao Te Ching. I was comparing my own philosophy to it.

          And I think they converge. Consider the last stanza of Chapter 2:

          “Therefore the Sage:
          Manages affairs without action;
          (avoids the certainty of action)
          Preaches the doctrine without words;
          (avoids the certainty of words)
          All things take their rise, but he does not turn away from them;
          (avoids the certainty of judgement)
          He gives them life, but does not take possession of them;
          (avoids the certainty of interpretation)
          He acts, but does not appropriate;
          (avoids the certainty of ownership)
          Accomplishes, but claims no credit.
          (avoids the certainty of authorship)
          It is because he lays claim to no credit
          That the credit cannot be taken away from him.
          (because he is uncertain, he cannot be imbalanced)

  5. allan

    Go long sooty mold:

    Invasive pest that threatens vineyards found in the Finger Lakes region [WXXI]

    An invasive species that experts say poses a great risk to New York’s agriculture industry has made its way into the Finger Lakes region.

    The spotted lantern fly has been found in the Ithaca area according to Chris Logue from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets..

    He said among the issues the insect brings, it secretes a sooty mold which can be particularly damaging to vineyards. …

    Logue notes the spotted lanternfly is a weak flyer, but is a very capable hitchhiker.

    The main way that it moves from place to place over long distances, is through human assisted movement.

    Like something else.

    1. Lee

      One of our west coast vineyard pests is the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Who thinks up these names?

      In both cases, go long parasitoid wasps.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      They passed through Cleveland already. I haven’t seen any yet, but they were spotted about a mile away. I have three Cayuga White vines that I started from bare root and had enough grapes this year to easily outstrip the capacity of my 3.5 gallon carboy. I would hate to lose them.

  6. Mikel

    “Kamala Harris sees solution to migration crisis in coffee beans, credit cards and Wi-Fi”

    ” It calls for spending as much as $4 billion in American taxpayer dollars and spurring at least $750 million in private investments seeding an array of economic and social programs intended to instill everything from a more functional digital economy to democratic values. In the case of Nespresso, the U.S. administration hopes that the company’s practice of paying farmers more for coffee beans and the expertise of its agronomists will diminish the allure of smugglers offering would-be migrants a perilous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border.”

    First, I don’t think the cartels and smugglers are using higher pay or pay as the incentive. It’s their own and their family’s life that are often the stakes in choosing to work for them or not.

    Second, didn’t they try private investements to spur democratic thinking (I’m trying not laugh looking at that statement) so many other places. Afghanistan? China?

    Third, the cartels may welcome the possibility to diversify into more mafioso type of rackets that can be run on new business owners and wage workers. They are already experienced kidnappers.

    So I’m thinking we need to hear from people in these areas how to keep all of the above from happening …and not from DC on how it’s going be.

  7. Wukchumni

    A few weeks ago in San Diego my brother in law related that his boss in a quite large trucking firm told him there was no drought, and it kind of shocked me in an out of sight-out of mind way, in that nobody in Tijuana-adjacent lives within probably 500 miles of where their water comes from, how would they know one way or the other?

    “The challenge is there is no water.”

    That bleak assessment from Karla Nemeth, director of the state Department of Water Resources, puts the devastating scope of California’s drought into perspective even more sharply than the sea of statistics released Tuesday and reported by CalMatters’ Rachel Becker:

    90% of the state is gripped by extreme or exceptional drought.

    Californians reduced their home water use by just 1.8% in July compared to the same time last year — despite a plea from Gov. Gavin Newsom to cut consumption by 15%.

    40% of water suppliers in the South Coast region — which includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties — actually used more water than they did last year.

    Water systems serving 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland could receive 0% of their allocation from the State Water Project next year.

    Another indication of how desperate California is for water: Marin County water officials are competing with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, to purchase three portable desalination plants to bolster water supplies.


  8. Mikel

    “‘Most Americans Today Believe the Stock Market Is Rigged, and They’re Right’”

    Correction to headline:

    “Most Americans Today Believe the Stock Market Is Rigged, and They’re Right and This Barely Touches the Surface of the Issue”

    1. Mildred Montana

      “In the U.S., an insider is defined as a senior executive, board member, or any shareholder who owns 10% or more of a company. There are about 82,000 of them, and every time they trade they’re required by law to file a disclosure, known as a Form 4, within two days.”

      Stop the nonsense, stop coddling insiders by allowing them to disclose their transactions after the fact. All insiders should be registered with the SEC and all their potential trades should be red-flagged immediately, before they’re executed, not disclosed days after the fact.

      How would the public be helped by this rule change? Let’s say the CEO of XYZ Inc. is attempting to unload some of his shares for whatever reason (sometimes he just needs the money, sometimes earnings are about to tank). Red-flagging alerts it to the transaction before it occurs and then it’s “buyer beware”, but at least material information about the seller has been made available in a timely fashion.

      Same goes for the buy-side. CEO of XYZ Inc. is buying shares in his company—again, for whatever reason? This important fact is now known to the public in advance and they can base their investment decisions on it.

      But, as the article says, the game is rigged, and a big part of a rigged game is secrecy. So it will go on and the insiders will continue to be coddled.

      1. John

        As Charlie Pierce say, “Unpossible.” The SEC would have to be an independent agency looking out for the public interest.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s like watching Demolition Derby!

      The key to being successful in a Demo(crat)lition Derby is to use your rear echelon in smashing other rides of passage in the front. Smart drivers scotch tape bundles of Benjamins on their bumper to entice the usual suspects into a smashed radiator.

      1. John

        I’m not sure the comparison is not an insult to Demolition Derby although Manchin and Sinema seem skilled at backing up and changing direction at speed.

  9. TBellT

    Really enjoyed this piece laying out how lost the establishment is, this bill is for their benefit as much as anyone else. It also pairs well with a point Doug Henwood was making a few weeks ago about how much worse are “elites” are these days.

    Given defiance of the MIC in Afghanistan I really thought for a moment Biden was going to play hardball well enough that he could get Manchin/Sinema in line. Disappointed its not happening, optimism really is a fools game these days.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I really thought for a moment Biden was going to play hardball well enough


      UPDATE [09-29, 6:32AM] “Why Biden won’t beg” [Axios].

      UPDATE [09-29, 6:00AM] “Why House Democrats May Be More United Than They Seem”

      For the counter-argument.

      1. John

        This would all be much easier if there were actual legislators in Washington. I am at a loss to describe the species of the current infestation.

  10. Kevin

    “Canada’s culture of silence on airborne virus transmission leaves many confused…”

    Just returned from 2 weeks in Toronto. Ontarians do not seem confused.

    Shocking to see masks being worn everywhere. Sidewalks, in cars, in all stores. In our small town, no one wears them.

    As soon as we landed back in the states our maskless taxi driver said we could remove our masks- we told him we were OK wearing them and quickly rolled the windows down.

  11. XXYY

    A new program in Chicago will place bleeding control kits in buildings around the city that leaders hope will save lives.

    Maybe the city can launch a program where you get one of these kits free with every box of bullets.

    1. Wukchumni

      If the second city was serious about it, they’d have packs of Wrigley’s chewing gum along with the bleeding kits, to plug bullet holes after it loses its flavor & becomes ABC gum.

    2. jr

      As with the article a few days back about school shooter drills, this abandons the idea of gun control. I’m not saying don’t have the kits but it definitely normalizes the violence.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        Chicago already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Even so, the gun laws are rarely enforced among the habitual offenders. It’s a catch and release program.

        1. jr

          I did a little reading around and it does seem that offenders rarely serve their full terms. Setting aside the question of whether incarceration is the answer, why do you think they are released early? My guess would be overcrowding.

          1. Duke of Prunes

            If they even get to jail. Many get i-bonds and / or home monitoring and disappear. See CWBChicago dot com for more details on this.

            They have documented 45 people this year who committed a violent crime while on bail for a violent crime.

  12. Matthew G. Saroff

    Am I the only one who finds it suspiciously convenient that shootings in Chicago tend to surge whenever the political powers that be start making noises about law enforcement reform?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Do you have any proof for that assertion?

      My memory says shootings have been consistently high for about 5 years, but kicked into high gear by the pandemic.

      1. Aumua

        It would be very hard to prove any correlation there, but increased shootings are definitely used to support the assertion that we should give police whatever they want, and never even think about reducing police budgets or forces in any way.

        1. Nikkikat

          Louisville Ky just negotiated a 9% raise that may go even higher instead of any real reform to a police dept that is responsible for Briana Taylor’s death.
          3 high school students were shot at a bus stop in a drive by shooting last week.
          The answer according to the powers that be? Let’s put more cops on the school grounds and on the the school buses. Yeah, that should make it all better.

  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    Perhaps the reason Pelosi could count the votes is because she could command the votes. She could command them and she could command them to stay commanded.

    If certain progressive DemParty Reps in the House cannot be vote-commanded, and/or cannot be counted on to stay vote-commanded; then the appearance of Pelosi not being able to count the votes is really a sign that she is not able to command all the votes.

    The power to destroy a thing is the power to control it. Have all the progressive DemParty Reps read Dune? If they haven’t, someone should show them the relevant lines and maybe show them the best version of the movie. If they realize they have the power to destroy Pelosi’s speakership, perhaps they can torture Pelosi into moving things their way. And if they are willing to destroy the Dem majority in the House, perhaps they will cultivate the further power to destroy Moderate Democrats in particular in the House and keep their seats Republican until a progressive Democrat can be forced onto the ballots in those elections.

    The aggressive metastatic Clintonoma cells did not take over the DemParty all at once. They did it in stages. If the ProgDems choose to see the DemParty as a patient with near-terminal Metatastic Clintonoma, and if they are willing to see themselves as the onchologist and the chemotherapy, perhaps they can figure out how to put the DemParty under however many years of chemotherapy torture is necessary to kill and exterminate every Clintonoma cell from out of every corner of the Party. And purge every trace of DLC waste lurking in every dark corner.

    1. lance ringquist

      i think it was robert scheer who said should we be surprised at the shape that the democrat party is in today? after all, nafta billy clintons people have had 30 years to infiltrate all aspects of the democrat party, and most NGO’S, government institutions, unions and think tanks.

      jamie galbraiths piece yesterday was good, except he glosses over the democrats, and blames reagan and paul volker.

      volker got in, because jimmy carter had those beliefs also. carter put another piece of garbage in that did worse damage than reagan ever could, alfred kahn, or as i called him, the great con.

      reagan was bad, no doubt about it. but the vast damage done to america can be traced back to carter, reagan, bush 1&2.

      but the bulk of the damage was done by nafta billy clinton. no matter what is ailing america, it can be traced back to nafta billy clintons disastrous polices, and the empty suit hollowman obamas bailout of those disastrous policies, then doubling down on them.

      so galbraith has said we cannot recover till those policies have been reversed, yet puts the blame on others, which is partly true, but not the whole deal.

      till democrat voters and supporters figure this out, we will constantly get clintonite democrats in charge.

      and as lambert has said, they play Lucy football.

  14. Sardonia

    Well, the progressives in the House have been saying that they need a definite commitment from Manchin and Sinema on the reconciliation bill before voting on the bipartisan bill, and Pelosi said today that it must not be vague, but “legislative language” (which Manchin quickly responded to by saying “That’s not going to happen”)

    It’s a bit of a game of Chicken, two cars barreling straight at each other, waiting to see which one will swerve aside first.

    Manchin just now released a statement. He’s stepping on the gas and not swerving at all:

    “Every Member of Congress has a solemn duty to vote for what they believe is best for the country and the American people, not their party. Respectfully, as I have said for months, I can’t support $3.5 trillion more in spending when we have already spent $5.4 trillion since last March. At some point, all of us, regardless of party must ask the simple question — how much is enough?

    What I have made clear to the President and Democratic leaders is that spending trillions more on new and expanded government programs, when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare, is the definition of fiscal insanity. Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue pay an unavoidable inflation tax. Proposing a historic expansion of social programs while ignoring the fact we are not in a recession and that millions of jobs remain open will only feed a dysfunction that could weaken our economic recovery. This is the shared reality we all now face, and it is this reality that must shape the future decisions that we, as elected leaders, must make.

    Since the beginning of this reconciliation debate, I have been consistent in my belief that any expansion of social programs must be targeted to those in need, not expanded beyond what is fiscally possible. Our tax code should be reformed to fix the flaws of the 2017 tax bill and ensure everyone pays their fair share but it should not weaken our global competitiveness or the ability of millions of small businesses to compete with the Amazons of the world. Overall, the amount we spend now must be balanced with what we need and can afford — not designed to reengineer the social and economic fabric of this nation or vengefully tax for the sake of wishful spending.

    In August, I recommended we take a strategic pause to provide time to develop the right policies and to continue to monitor how the pandemic and economic factors are affecting our nation’s fiscal situation before we spend more. Throughout September, I have made it clear to all those who would listen the need to means test any new social programs so that we are helping those who need it the most, not spend for the sake spending.

    While I am hopeful that common ground can be found that would result in another historic investment in our nation, I cannot — and will not – support trillions in spending or an all or nothing approach that ignores the brutal fiscal reality our nation faces. There is a better way and I believe we can find it if we are willing to continue to negotiate in good faith.

    If there is one final lesson that will continue to guide me in this difficult debate ahead it is this: America is a great nation but great nations throughout history have been weakened by careless spending and bad policies. Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest been weakened by careless spending and bad policies. Now, more than ever, we must work together to avoid these fatal mistakes so that we may fulfill our greatest responsibility as elected leaders and pass on a better America to the next generation.”

    1. lambert strether

      Maybe progressives could promise Manchin a Grand Bargain. We could renege on it later, just to show him who’s boss

    2. Objective Ace

      > when we can’t even pay for the essential social programs, like Social Security and Medicare

      Someone should really call him out on that line. Why is it the essential programs we cannot afford and not the astronomical military budget?… especially since–you know–we just withdrew from Afghanistan.

      1. Sardonia

        Hey, withdrawals are expensive!

        The Pentagon figures they need an extra $500 billion this year for moving expenses.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Someone should but no one will. The Catfood Democrats are committed to cutting or privatising Social Security and the young new progressives don’t seem to be paying proper attention to the longstanding Catfood Conspiracy against Social Security.

        Sanders could say something about Manchin’s big lie, but will he?

        For that matter, so could Joshua Micah Marshall over at his Talking Points Memo blog, but will he?

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        my admittedly fly-by perusal of all this crap, today…and i didn’t see anybody…not even Jayapal, et alia…mention the damned pentagram, and all that jack they blew in the last 20+ years.(many, many others did remember the five sided hole where all the money goes)

        and if mansion wants the little guy to be able to better compete with amazon…tax the hell out of the latter, and break them up, fer dog’s sake.

        this shouldn’t be this hard.
        as for that poseur in AZ…i just don’t know any more.

        we’ll get trump 2.0…or worse…and crazy goptea forever after, until the whole thing sinks into the sand.

        1. cnchal

          > and if mansion wants the little guy to be able to better compete with amazon…

          One buck out of three that the government wastes to store their zeros and ones with Amazon is profit that is used to subsidize the torture chambers. Even with those massive subsidies, were working conditions even close to humane, they would be losing money hand over fist.

          Government twits ask how much and Bezos throws a ridiculous number at them and they say OK.

          Amazon is excrementitious.

  15. Questa Nota

    Back in the day, economists were alleged to have whispered asked:

    We know it works in practice, but does it work in theory?

    Progress, in various forms comes to econ. Now they can be alleged to mutter ask:

    We know it works in the real world, but does it work in modeling?

  16. FreeMarketApologist

    Just gotta say, about the inadvertent(?) placement of the inline ad immediately below the ‘Bird song of the day’ title: It was a delightful juxtaposition of that title and the title of the featured news clip in the ad: “Growth Not Priority for China This Year: Goldman’s Shan.”

    And there the Goldman’s Shan was, warbling away about China.

  17. Mikel

    With all of the speculation lately about China and the USA and empires rising and falling, I thought I’d check in on another well-known empire to see how that collapse is going.
    So looks like that other empire has elections on their minds and I saw this. Look at the pic:


    Labour: “Stronger Future Together”

    Hmmmm… “Build Back Better”…..

    A Military-Industrial-Electoral-Complex that stretches across the pond. Or at least some busy body international marketing/PR firm.

    What if some empires don’t die, they just merge with another empire?

  18. VietnamVet

    CNN: ’System collapse’.

    There, I can’t say that you weren’t warned!

    This is the end stage where the truth is not acknowledged because it is clear that it’s all over. Basically, the for-profit economic/political system collapses when there are no profits to be made because goods cannot move.

    How crazy things are is shown by a US government which is simply unable to effectively fight the coronavirus pandemic. Its sole weapons are leaky mRNA vaccines which allow transmission the virus to others. In hot spots, the severely ill are overwhelming the limited number of for-profit hospital beds. At the same time, healthcare and transportation workers are being fired for not getting jabbed with mRNA vaccines with known side effects.

    The West is at a point where Iceland volcanoes and WWI dismantled aristocracies previously.

  19. fjallstrom

    Regarding testing in the South: It is the data. If you check tests/day apparently South did 18 million on the 24th, minus 5 million on the 25th and almost 6 million on the 27th. This is unreasonable, so something is wonky with the data. Normally, the South has around 300 000 tests/day.

    Regarding the spike in Europe: Also data. France and Netherlands adjusts their numbers on the 21st each month, with France adding a lot of negative numbers on the 20th each month. Also wonky data.

    Both of these can be bad data from states/countries but also that the data could be mangled somewhere on the way (Johns Hopkins and/or 91-divoc).

  20. allan

    I love the smell of means testing in the morning. It smells like … like … victory.
    For the DLC.

    Agonizing choices as Dems debate shrinking health care pie [AP]

    Democrats are debating how to divide up what could be a smaller serving of health care spending in President Joe Biden’s domestic policy bill, pitting the needs of older adults who can’t afford their dentures against the plight of uninsured low-income people in the South.

    “There’s always a battle of where you place your priorities,” Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democratic leader, said Wednesday. “We don’t means-test Medicare, which means that pretty wealthy people will be getting both dental care (and) vision care while poor people will be denied. … I don’t know that that’s a real good choice.” …

    You can almost hear the smile.

    1. Nikkikat

      “Pretty wealthy people”won’t be going to the low rent HMO dentistry that they will be serving us regular people. Years ago Med-Cal the California Medicaid system. Allowed people glasses and dentistry. Both were substandard plans. Your HMO type dentist was always overbooked for weeks ahead. So get in line. The glasses allowed the choice of one plastic frame for men and one for women. They were outdated and never fit properly. One look and everyone knew you were on welfare. The dentistry was a torture chamber filled in with “dentist” that were willing to accept the extreme low payments. Dental emergency?
      Well, we can see you in a couple of weeks.
      Even if they gave us something here, I doubt it will be worth much.

      Jim Clyburn is a disgrace.

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