2:00PM Water Cooler 9/30/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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

Bird Song of the Day

Another busy day in Papua!

“Wild Bird Diseases Update: Feeding Restrictions Are Lifted” [Birds & Blooms]. “we have an update on a new mystery illness that affected birds in certain regions of the U.S. There is good news to share—cases of this mystery bird disease are no longer being reported. All 11 states that had issued do-not-feed recommendations have now lifted their restrictions, or they were allowed to expire. This means you can safely start feeding birds in your yard again…. The biggest question is whether this ailment is contagious. So far we don’t know, so it’s best to continue to be cautious and keep cleaning your feeders regularly. If you find birds suffering or dying from these symptoms, don’t pick them up unless you’re wearing rubber gloves. Don’t take them to a wildlife rehab center without calling first to make sure they are prepared to receive such birds. Call your state wildlife agency, because most of these wildlife departments are keeping track of reports. If birds with these symptoms are again found near where you live, most scientists and wildlife professionals agree that it’s best to take down all bird feeders and bird baths right away. Wash them thoroughly with a 10% bleach solution, rinse them very well, and keep them down for at least a couple of weeks. If this mysterious ailment is contagious, feeders and baths would be prime areas for it to spread from one bird to another. We shouldn’t take that chance. Birds can find abundant natural food, which would be the safer option in this unusual situation.” • Unusual?

* * *


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:

A little jump in the Northeast, oddly. Job mandates? Otherwise, 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.

55.5% 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 stately 0.1% rise per day; yesterday’s 0.3% is no more. 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:

I have drawn an anti-triumphalist black line to show how bad the case level still is, despite the press having decided (it seems) that Covid is no longer a story (except for Bubba death bed conversions, and vax vax vax).

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 29, 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. Did Walmart roll out a home test kit in all the states of the South, simultaneously?

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: 713,969 711,222. I have drawn an anti-triumphalist black line to show how bad the death rate still is. 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

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

Life’s rich pageant:

[09-30, 1:34PM] “Fresh Out Of Meeting With Pelosi, Jayapal Says There Still Aren’t The Votes For BIF To Pass Today” [Talking Points Memo]. “When asked if Pelosi said during the meeting that the bipartisan infrastructure bill vote would happen today, Jayapal said to a group of us that ‘there’s always a chance.’ She reiterated that Pelosi will not bring a bill to the floor if she lacks the vote to pass it — “she knows because I’ve been very transparent and clear with her about where our members are that there aren’t the votes to pass it,’ Jayapal said. ‘All kinds of things could happen very quickly,’ she said. ‘All I can say is we said that we’re gonna stay here all weekend if we need to to see if we can get to a deal, but if we can’t, then we’ll have to continue to work on it until we do.'” • Godzilla vs. Mothra!

[09-30, 12:52PM]. “Pelosi vows to press ahead with make-or-break infrastructure vote” [Financial Times]. “Pelosi, a longtime legislator with a record of emerging victorious from tough negotiations, has repeatedly said she will not hold a vote until she is confident she will win. Yet despite the Speaker’s optimistic tone on Thursday, many on Capitol Hill remained sceptical that she would be able to get the infrastructure package over the line this week.” • Hence the word “defiant” in Axios’s headline.

UPDATE [09-30, 12:34PM] “Manchin says his spending limit is $1.5 trillion” [The Hill]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced Thursday that his top-line spending number for the budget reconciliation package is $1.5 trillion, far below the $3.5 trillion spending goal set by the budget resolution that he and every other Senate Democrat voted for last month. ‘My top-line has been $1.5 [trillion],’ he said, explaining that he doesn’t want ‘to change our whole society to an entitlement mentality.’ Manchin also said that he had shared his figure with President Biden.” • This is retrading the deal with a vengeance. So why hasn’t Biden threatened to site a nuclear waste dump in one of Manchin’s coal mines?

[09-30, 11:58AM]

[09-30, 11:56AM] “Pelosi defiant on infrastructure vote” [Axios]. “It’s still unclear what time the House will vote on the bill, as well as whether there will be a vote at all, as negotiations on the issue are developing every hour.”

[09-20, 11:14AM]

UPDATE [09-30, 11:05] From Pelosi’s presser:

UPDATE [09-30, 11:04AM] From Pelosi’s presser:

Yes, she’s still sharp.

UPDATE [09-30, 10:58AM] From inside the presser:

“A” reconciliation bill is an adroit use of the indefinite article! And I can’t imagine Jayapal was reassured.

[09-30, 10:45AM] Pelosi’s weekly presser:

As readers know, I far prefer transcripts, but I watched this one for the news value. I’ve never seen Pelosi live for an extended period; it was interesting. She’s still sharp, as the exchanges with reporters show. But oh, that walk off the podium and out: The Biden Shuffle.

UPDATE [09-20, 10:30AM]

Right before Pelosi’s presser…..

UPDATE [09-30. 9:34AM] “Manchin says reconciliation bill must include controversial Hyde Amendment” [The Hill]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said late Wednesday that an expansion of Medicaid that Democrats are seeking to pass as part of their massive reconciliation bill must include the Hyde Amendment to get his support. ‘Yeah, we’re not taking the Hyde Amendment off. Hyde’s going to be on,’ Manchin told National Review when asked about a proposed Medicaid-like program in the reconciliation bill. ‘It has to be. It has to be. That’s dead on arrival if that’s gone,’ Manchin, who has described himself as ‘pro-life, and proud of it,’ added.” • Sounds like a poison pill, to me.

UPDATE [09-30, 4:30AM] “White House gives a wink to progressives as they threaten Biden’s infrastructure bill” [Politico]. “One by one, liberal lawmakers have announced that they will vote to defeat a bipartisan infrastructure bill if moderate Democrats and the White House do not offer a firm outline for an accompanying social and climate spending package as well. And just as tensions within the party were at a seeming boiling point this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) turned it up even further, urging House Democrats to vote against that bipartisan infrastructure bill when it is scheduled to hit the floor on Thursday. Though some of those same progressives have loudly complained that President Joe Biden isn’t doing enough to reach out to them individually on his legislative agenda, the White House seems utterly unbothered by it. Instead, they’re hoping that the prospect of a progressive revolt will only add to the pressure they’re attempting to exert on Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the two moderate Senators most noncommittal about supporting a party-line reconciliation bill. Two sources familiar with the White House’s messaging to progressives said that officials have made it clear to them that they are not displeased with all the talk about voting down the infrastructure package.”

* * * Yesterday * * *

UPDATE [09-29, 03:39PM] “White House believes Sinema supports passing reconciliation bill this year” [The Hill]. “The White House believes Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) supports passing a large reconciliation package this year, press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. ‘Our sense is she does,’ Psaki said when asked if President Biden believes Sinema is in favor of moving a bill with various Democratic priorities. Asked if the administration believes Sinema supports doing it this year, Psaki said: ‘That’s our sense.'” • Well, that’s reassuring.

UPDATE [09-29, 5:54PM] “Schumer, Pelosi toil to ease cross-Capitol rifts over Biden agenda” [Politico]. “Democratic senators are watching Pelosi’s House machinations on the bipartisan infrastructure bill with exasperation, worried the speaker’s planned break from the two-track process that coupled Biden’s jobs and families plan to a roads and bridges bill will provoke disaster. Schumer told his members that he had not been consulted about Pelosi’s plan to decouple the two and forge ahead with a solo vote on the bipartisan bill this week…. Democrats who wrote the bipartisan infrastructure bill are agog that Pelosi’s progressive members might tank it or get it pulled from the floor.”

UPDATE [09-29, 12:05AM]. When you’ve lost Jonathon Chait:

* * *

“Top Democrat says Biden failed to take ‘clear-eyed look’ at Afghanistan” [WaPo]. “House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) faults President Biden’s administration for not taking “a clear-eyed look” at the capabilities of the Afghan government and its security forces ahead of the Aug. 31 American withdrawal after 20 years of war…. “But I think the thing that ultimately, you know, made it hard for them to make that clear-eyed hard set of decisions is the Ghani government,” Smith said, referring to former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani. “The Ghani government wasn’t saying ‘when you pull out, we’re going to bail.’ They were telling us the exact opposite.”… Smith also said he was working with the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Mike D. Rogers (Ala.), to set up a bipartisan “task force” to look at the war over its two-decade span, one of many efforts he hopes to see in the aftermath of the withdrawal.” • Oh, good. Funny how open season on Biden started immediately after he ended a war.

UPDATE “The sucking political void of Democratic centrists” [The Week]. “The remarkable thing about the key votes on this package — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), the latter of whom increasingly seems to be the most stubborn holdout — is how they refuse to say outright what they want. This is political ‘centrism’ as a vacuous nullity, a lidless reptilian eye ever gazing into a lightless political tomb where no truth is spoken and nothing ever happens. Let me review some background. Since the passage of the American Rescue Plan in March, the Democratic Party has been stuck in a prolonged negotiation about how it will use its majority. First, a handful of Senate Democratic moderates insisted on negotiating an infrastructure bill with Republicans — which, to my surprise, the GOP was willing to do, almost certainly because Republicans correctly calculated it would drive a wedge deep into the Democratic coalition. The result was a dressed-up highway bill: some money for Amtrak and other mass transit and much more money to cement pollution-spewing car dependency. On balance, it’s barely better than nothing. On the other side of the wedge, distrust of moderate Democrats grew. Democratic leadership and progressive Democrats determined, once the bipartisan infrastructure bill was done, to negotiate a big reconciliation bill (to address health care, paid leave, climate change, and all other priorities) without Republican involvement. Then, the two bills would pass together so neither Democratic faction could betray the other. After spending precious months of this Democratic-majority Congress on that deliberation, now the moderates are trying to renege on the deal, demanding the bipartisan bill be passed before they’ll consider passing the reconciliation package. Realistically, they want to kill the Democratic bill.” • Well, it makes sense that the “moderates” are not agreement-capable. After all, the United States isn’t.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“There Just Aren’t Enough College-Educated Voters!” [Ruy Teixeira, The Liberal Patriot]. Quoting a great slab of this:

In 2012, the difference in Democratic support between college-educated and noncollege (working class) voters in the Presidential election was about 4 margin points (Catalist data, two party vote), with college voters being more favorable to the Democrats than noncollege voters. In 2016 that difference ballooned to 18 points. And in 2020, it went up again to 22 points.

Democrats seem remarkably relaxed about this polarization, despite liking to style themselves as the party for “working people”. One reason for this is the general perception that the college-educated population is growing while the working class is declining. True as far as it goes but the fact remains that noncollege voters far outnumber college voters. In the 2020 Catalist data, the tally was 63 percent noncollege/37 percent college. That means that any given shift among noncollege voters is significantly more consequential than a similarly-sized shift among college voters. This situation will continue for many election cycles, as the noncollege voter share is likely to decline only gradually.

Another reason for Democratic complacency is the firm belief that Democrats’ working class problem is solely confined to whites and that white working class voters are so racist/reactionary that it is a badge of honor to ignore them. This is highly questionable as a matter of political strategy and arithmetic, given that they are 44 percent of voters and a lot more than that in key swing states and districts.

But there is a deeper problem. The perception that nonwhite working class voters are a lock for the Democrats is no longer tenable. In the 2020 election, working class nonwhites moved sharply toward Trump by 12 margin points, despite Democratic messaging that focused relentlessly on Trump’s animus toward nonwhites. According to Pew, Trump actually got 41 percent of the Hispanic working class vote in 2016. Since 2012, running against Trump twice, Democrats have lost 18 points off of their margin among nonwhite working class voters.

Given this development, how did the Democrats manage to win in 2020? In broad brush terms, Democrats’ modest gains among the white working class—still by far the largest part of the working class—were about enough to cancel out the nonwhite working class losses, thereby allowing the Democrats’ white college gains to put them over the top. But if both segments of the working class move in tandem against the Democrats, that will be a big, big problem that gains among college voters—even if they continue—may not solve.

Savagely ironic, since nobody was more influential ideologically than Ruy Teixeira in the Democrat turn from the working class; his concept of the “coalition ascendant” was the justification not only for identity politics (and the dense thicket of NGOs that support it), but for the pervasive Democrat belief that they never actually had to deliver on anything, because demographics would to their work for them. Biden, interestingly, seems to have abandoned that notion, or is old-fashioned enough never to have bought into it.

Stats Watch

Corporate Profits: “United States Corporate Profits” [Trading Economics]. “Corporate profits in the United States climbed 10.5% to a record high of USD 2.44 trillion in the second quarter of 2021, after rising 4.5% in the previous period and compared with a preliminary estimate of a 9.7% jump. Undistributed profits climbed 21.4% to $1.03 trillion and net cash flow with inventory valuation adjustment, the internal funds available to corporations for investment, advanced 7.9% to $3.08 trillion. Also, net dividends rose 3.8% to $1.41 trillion.”

Employment Situation: “United States Jobless Claims 4-week Average” [Trading Economics]. “The 4-week moving average of US jobless claims, which removes week-to-week volatility, rose to 340.0 thousand in the week ending September 25th, from 335.75 thousand in the previous period.”

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Business Barometer fell to 64.7 in September of 2021, the lowest level since February and down from 66.8 in August. Figures came slightly below market forecasts of 65. Order backlogs saw the largest decline, followed by supplier deliveries and new orders. Only employment increased through the month.”

* * *

Real Estate: “What’s Google Up To?” [Boondoggle]. “Tech giant Google recently announced that it bought a building in New York City in a massive $2.1 billion deal, which is the largest real estate purchase in the U.S. since the pandemic began. Google also said it would not avail itself of the corporate subsidy programs offered by New York State when it builds out a new campus centered on that building. A Google spokesperson reportedly specifically confirmed that the corporation won’t be applying for two of New York’s largest tax handout programs…. This is the third straight subsidy-free new office facility Google has announced, following those in San Jose, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina…. My guess is that Google learned from the public relations fiasco that was Amazon’s HQ2 experience. Though Amazon did receive a major subsidy from Virginia for its new “headquarters,” the further we get from that episode the more it looks like a strategic blunder. Not only did it help galvanize an anti-corporate power movement in New York State, but since then, more and more communities have organized opposition to local Amazon subsidies. The Teamsters union has also sensed an opportunity to challenge Amazon at the local level and moved in. The combination of normal people seeing hundreds of cities joining an Amazon competition that was rigged from the start, the corporation’s sky-high pandemic profits, and former CEO Jeff Bezos’ penchant for being in the news for everything from divorces to taxpayer-funded space flights has put the spotlight on Amazon’s actions in a way that it wasn’t pre-HQ2. In many ways, Amazon has made the transition to full political villain. Google sees that, and would like to avoid a repeat….”

Shipping: “California Port’s 24-Hour Operation Is Going Unused” [Wall Street Journal]. “A pilot program offering 24-hour container operations at the Port of Long Beach hasn’t attracted any truckers more than two weeks since the extended hours began, highlighting challenges facing Southern California seaports as dozens of ships back up off the coast….. Mario Cordero, the executive director of the Port of Long Beach and a proponent of 24-hour operations, said the port has asked major retailers to direct truckers to use overnight gates, but it will take time to set up new work patterns. ‘We need their buy-in so they can direct their drayage companies to move this cargo,’ he said…. Drayage companies, which specialize in hauling cargo by truck from ports to local yards and distribution facilities, say the overnight system is burdensome. Truckers can only make an appointment to pick up a container if they are able to drop off a specific type of container and chassis during the same run. Getting everything to match up can be difficult, said Matt Schrap, chief executive of the Harbor Trucking Association. ‘I commend [Total Terminals International LLC, among the largest terminals at Long Beach] for what they are trying to do,’ said Mr. Schrap, who represents hundreds of West Coast motor carriers. ‘But if you can’t get the appointment in the first place because it doesn’t line up, then it doesn’t make a difference.’ TTI’s Mr. Peratt noted the terminal accepts containers from seven ocean carriers but that truckers are limited by the types of chassis they are able to drop off.”

Shipping: “Why Container Ships Can’t Sail Around the California Ports Bottleneck” [Wall Street Journal]. “Newly arriving vessels are adding to a record-breaking flotilla waiting to unload cargo that on Sunday reached 73 ships…. Big vessels are continuing to join the bottleneck, experts say, because shipping lines and their cargo customers have few options for resetting countless supply chains moving goods into the U.S. that have been constructed over decades around the critical San Pedro Bay gateway now staggered by the overflowing demand for imports…. Shipping executives say other West Coast ports, like Oakland or Seattle, simply aren’t large enough to handle the hundreds of thousands of containers that Los Angeles and Long Beach unload, store and move by truck or rail each week…. ‘Shipping into the East Coast was the great secret for those of us advising early in the crisis,” said Bjorn Vang Jensen, vice president of global supply chain at Denmark-based marine data company Sea-Intelligence ApS. ‘But the secret got out and now those ports are just as screwed as other ports are because everyone wants to go there.’ In recent weeks, the Port of Savannah has had 20 or more ships at anchor waiting for a berth.”

Mr. Market: “The problem with individual stock buying” [Felix Salmon, Axios]. “Buying and selling individual stocks is a hobby for rich people that, over the course of the pandemic, also became a hobby for millions of new investors using free trading apps. But given the number of conflicts involved, it’s a hobby that many people should probably give up…. The recent headlines mostly concern boomers whose formative investment years predate the height of the passive revolution. As apps try to make stock-picking “easier and more delightful,” in the words of Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev, it’s becoming increasingly likely that we’ll see similar headlines about the boomers’ kids.”

* * *

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

“US to declare ivory-billed woodpecker and 22 more species extinct” [Guardian]. “The US Fish and Wildlife Service officially proposed taking 23 plants and animals off the endangered species list Wednesday, because they have not been spotted in the wild and are believed to be completely gone from an earth experiencing human population growth and a climate crisis. Only 11 species previously have been removed due to extinction in the almost half-century since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law. The move underscores an extinction crisis that is growing worldwide. The rate at which extinction would naturally occur is about one to five species per year, according to Michael Reed, a biologist at Tufts University. He adds that now, species are going extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times that background rate.”

Health Care

“Why We Need to Upgrade Our Face Masks—and Where to Get Them” [Scientific American]. “There is now a cornucopia of high-filtration respirator-style masks on the market, including N95s, Chinese-made KN95s and South Korean–made KF94s. They have been widely available and relatively affordable for months and provide better protection than cloth or surgical masks. Yet it was not until September 10 that the CDC finally updated its guidance to say the general public could wear N95s and other medical-grade masks now that they are in sufficient supply. Still, however, the ‘CDC continues to recommend that N95 respirators should be prioritized for protection against COVID-19 in healthcare settings,’ wrote CDC spokesperson Jade Fulce in an e-mail to Scientific American last week. ‘Essential workers and workers who routinely wore respirators before the pandemic should continue wearing N95 respirators,’ she continued. ‘As N95s become more available they can be worn in non-healthcare settings, however, cloth masks are an acceptable and recommended option for masking.’ The agency announced in May that supplies of approved respirator masks had ‘increased significantly.’ When asked why it only updated it guidance on N95 use by the public in September, Fulce replied that the ‘CDC regularly reviews and updates its guidance as more information becomes available.'” • As I suspected. Note that the rewriting of history on CDC mask policy is positively Orwellian, but in the present day, Scientific American is doing OK.

The 420

“New York misses deadline to allow medical cannabis home-grows” [Times-Union]. “The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act allows limited home cultivation of medical cannabis. But it also specifies that patients will not enjoy that right until after the Office of Cannabis Management issues regulations governing it, which it was obligated to do “no later than six months after the effective date” of the law. But after a series of delays, staffing of that office is still underway. That means lawmakers’ intention for the law to allow medical marijuana card holders to begin growing plants this week is on hold indefinitely. The delay is the latest in a series of stumbles in the medical cannabis program, and they are occurring in spite of the explicit intent of legislators who drafted and championed the new law.”

“Has Florida kept Black marijuana farmers from succeeding?” [Tampa Bay Times]. ” It’s been a long four years for Florida’s Black farmers. In 2017, the Legislature passed a law that created the modern Florida medical marijuana industry. It set steep barriers to entry. It limited the number of licenses the state could award to companies. By no later than Oct. 3 of that year, a new marijuana license was to be given to a business owner belonging to a ‘Pigford Class’ — one of two groups of Black farmers who had won a judgment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for that agency’s history of racial discrimination. One full presidential term later, no such cannabis license has been awarded.”

The Agony Column

“What If Trigger Warnings Don’t Work?” [The New Yorker]. “Because trigger warnings involve assumptions about emotional reactions, particularly with respect to P.T.S.D., psychology researchers have begun to study whether trigger warnings are in fact beneficial. The results of around a dozen psychological studies, published between 2018 and 2021, are remarkably consistent, and they differ from conventional wisdom: they find that trigger warnings do not seem to lessen negative reactions to disturbing material in students, trauma survivors, or those diagnosed with P.T.S.D. Indeed, some studies suggest that the opposite may be true…. A large study by Jones, Bellet, and McNally found that trigger warnings reinforced the belief on the part of trauma survivors that trauma was central (rather than incidental or peripheral) to their identity. The reason that effect may be concerning is that trauma researchers have previously established that a belief that trauma is central to one’s identity predicts more severe P.T.S.D. [Harvard Ph.D. candidate Benjamin] Bellet called this “one of the most well documented relationships in traumatology.” The perverse consequence of trigger warnings, then, may be to harm the people they are intended to protect.” • I would imagine this applies as well to “centering” trauma victims in policy decision-making about what caused their trauma?

Zeitgeist Watch

“Why Is Every Young Person in America Watching ‘The Sopranos’?” [New York Times]. “One oddity that can’t be ignored in this “Sopranos” resurgence is that, somewhat atypically for a TV fandom, there is an openly left-wing subcurrent within it — less “I feel so seen by this” lefty than “intricate knowledge of different factions within the Philadelphia D.S.A.” lefty. This is especially true on Twitter, where just about everything takes on a political valence. But it goes beyond that: There’s a Socialist “Sopranos” Memes account on Facebook with 22,000 followers, run by a Twitter user called @gabagoolmarx. There’s a podcast called “Gabagool & Roses,” “the ONLY leftist ‘Sopranos’ podcast,” a presumably ironic claim, because there’s also the much more popular “Pod Yourself a Gun,” which frequently brings in guests from the expanded Brooklyn leftist podcast scene. The queens of downtown leftish podcasting, at “Red Scare,” sell “Sopranos”-inspired merch; the “Irina Thong” ($21) and “Capo Tee” ($30) both have the podcast’s name styled just like the Bada Bing’s logo. The “leftist ‘Sopranos’ fan” is now such a well-known type that it is rounding the corner to being an object of scorn and mockery online.” • Well, Stalin was a theology student…

“Inside the ‘secret’ meat menu at exalted ‘vegan’ spot Eleven Madison Park” [Page Six]. “Just call it Eleven Madison Pork: It emerges the city’s most exalted vegan restaurant has a secret meat room for the mega-rich. This May chef Daniel Humm had announced with much flowery fanfare that his Eleven Madison Park restaurant would reopen in June from its pandemic closure with a fully plant-based vegan menu. But not just any meager meatless menu: It’s 12 courses for $335…. The eaterie would only use animal products by offering milk and honey for coffee and tea service, he insisted. However, it seems those principles are off the plate in the restaurant’s private dining room — which insiders tell Page Six is targeted to corporate events and is a big money-maker for the establishment. The private dining room at Eleven Madison Park comes complete with a meat-heavy menu that includes foie gras, beef tenderloin, roasted chicken and pork.” • ”Eaterie.” Ouch. From the savage New York Times review: “In tonight’s performance, the role of the duck will be played by a beet, doing things no root vegetable should be asked to do…. The [beet] at Eleven Madison Park tastes like Lemon Pledge and smells like a burning joint.” •

Guillotine Watch

“Elizabeth Holmes ‘deferred to’ her COO-boyfriend when running Theranos, her lawyers argue” [Yahoo News]. “In the documents, Holmes contends that alleged abuse by her onetime boyfriend — former Theranos COO and president Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, who also faces criminal charges — influenced her beliefs about the startup’s operations and financial well being.” • The COO was the CEO’s boyfriend? Really?

Class Warfare

Well, of course:

News of the Wired

“The frozen calm of normalcy bias” [Gizmodo]. From 2013, still germane. “People seeking shelter during tornadoes and cyclones are often called back, or delayed, by people doing normal activities, who refuse to believe the emergency is happening. These people are displaying what’s known as normalcy bias. About 70% of people in a disaster do it. Although movies show crowds screaming and panicking, most people move dazedly through normal activities in a crisis. This can be a good thing; researchers find that people who are in this state are docile and can be directed without chaos. They even tend to quiet and calm the 10-15% of people who freak out. The downside of the bias is the fact that they tend to retard the progress of the 10-15% of people who act appropriately. The main source of delay masquerades as the need to get more data. Scientists call this “milling.” People will usually get about four opinions on what’s going on and what they should do before taking any action — even in an obvious crisis. People in emergency situations report calling out to others, asking, “What’s going on?” When someone tells them to evacuate, or to take shelter, they fail to comply and move on, asking other people the same question…. More complicated, from a policy standpoint, is the need to personalize the risk. This information — that the present disaster will harm you, yes you, so take action — is the hardest to accurately disseminate. People mill, asking for opinions, because they want to be told that everything is fine. They will keep asking, and delaying, until they get the answer they want.” • Milling around won’t be helpful during the Jackpot…

* * *

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 (Re Silc):

Re Silc writes: “Blueberries done. But elderberries ahoy!” Nice project. If anybody has sent me vegetable pictures, they are way ahead in the queue, where I haven’t seen them yet. If you haven’t, please do! Squash, corn, tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc., etc….

* * *

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carolinian

    Today is shopping day and while driving around I noticed a professionally printed yard sign with a picture of a nurse and the message that those who want to “make their own choice about the jab” should walk out of our local hospital system tomorrow. Should be interesting.

    And while looking over DDG I see that hospitals in NYC are already firing people.


    So it seems like it’s happening. I wonder how those who Biden has forced to be fired are going to vote next year?

    1. Arizona Slim

      There has already been one demonstration here in Tucson. From last month’s news:


      BTW, I know the location of this local demonstration very well. It’s on Campbell Avenue at Glenn Street. Campbell is one of our major north-south arterials and the intersection with Glenn has a traffic light that takes its sweet old time. That leaves demonstrators plenty of time to engage with motorists.

    2. enoughisenough

      Rationing care is going to get so so much worse – we don’t have the nursing staff we need NOW!

      If they are getting regular negative tests and wear N95s I don’t know why they shouldn’t treat people.

      The main thing is that they’re negative, vaxxed or not. People in charge don’t seem to understand this.

    3. Martin Oline

      It is amazing to me how these essential workers, honored in the media a year ago, have gone from “Heroes to Zeroes” in just eight months.

      1. clarky90

        This could be the start of a worldwide subscription model for “The Green Pass” (being able to move freely, and to have employment). Surely there will be no (or minimal) charge for the “booster jabs” a few years down the track?

        Pray (prey) that there are no innovators like the Sackler Fam……….. oh my…. oh my……. oh my…..

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    “There Just Aren’t Enough College-Educated Voters!”

    But they were so close to being Republicans without having to pretend Country Pop was music.

  3. Lee

    Just received a message from our veterinarian in our very highly vaccinated town in the SF east bay:

    “As we enter the 18th month of the Covid 19 Pandemic we want to give you an update. In June and July of this year we were very optimistic, and we started to let vaccinated clients with doctor appointments back into the building. Then, in August, we were faced with a resurgence of the virus in the form of the delta variant and had staff out sick with COVID-19 – including vaccinated individuals. This was a big setback for us and we made the decision to stop letting clients in the building again.

    “We continue to be short staffed right now, and with the large number of pets that were adopted during the pandemic (especially puppies and kittens who require a high number of appointments during their first year), we are experiencing extremely high call and visit volumes. As a result, we have temporarily stopped accepting new clients at this time, in order to take care our valued existing clients…”

    They are right across the street from my primary care provider with whom I have a 40 minute in person annual wellness visit scheduled in a few weeks. Maybe the best thing I can do for my wellness is to stay home.

    1. ambrit

      You could look into doing a Zoom “Wellness Visit.” (I am well aware that telemedicine is a pale simulcra of the “real” in person thing, but, my experience is that the dreaded “Wellness Visit” is just a venue for pushing unneded tests and procedeures.) I have one of those scheduled. It has been put off for a month one time already.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the dreaded “Wellness Visit” is just a venue for pushing unneded tests and procedeures.)

        Ah. Obama made sure the ACA covered “wellness.” And I would bet that the Direct Contracting Entities will be taking full advantage.

        1. bassmule

          Zoom “wellness” is a joke. My last one was supposed to be 35 minutes with a nurse practictioner and 15 with the doc. NP was basically asking me to check off boxes. After 5 minutes with the doc he said “You were in the wine business, right? What do you like these days?” and we exchanged pleasantries for a while. I assume this nonsense is billable? I’m on Medicare, so it’s just an idle question.

        2. Old Sarum

          “Well” and truly shonky?

          Some years ago I was in Hungary where I was exposed to the “wellness” signage for the first time. It was “wellness” in english and not in hungarian, which was somewhat irksome.

          Now every time “wellness” is mentioned, I am reminded of people wearing toweling dressing gowns whilst smoking cigarettes in the gardens of thermal establishments.

          Excuse me while I go off and fondle some crystals.

          Pip pip!

  4. ambrit

    Yay elderberries! Ours ripened and were eaten, by wild birds mostly, six to eight weeks ago. we have a pretty big elserberry bush outside our kitchen sink window. Watching the birds perch and gobble the berries was endless fun while washing up.
    (One reason that we got so few of our berries was the fact that the berry clusters were high up. You needed a folding ladder to get to them.)

  5. John

    Aren’t we in the milling around stage of the Jackpot? Somewhere in the denial, anger, bargaining part of the Kubler-Ross stages?

  6. Lou Anton

    Southern positivity chart – yeah, it’s data. Florida and Alabama suddenly appear in the dataset in the last week or so, and the positivity rates are, impossibly, sub-1%. So the data are wrong and/or they’re being integrated wrongly.

    See HERE.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Well that’s a relief! I’m not used to being afraid official data might be accurate. Thanks for calming my nerves.

    2. ChrisPacific

      It’s also happened before if you look at the chart – see November, December, July. Not as dramatically, but it’s an established pattern. If it follows the same shape, it should snap back after a week or two.

      The problem with the Florida and Alabama data appears to be the denominator – supposedly Alabama administered around 3M tests over 7 days, and Florida almost 15 million over the same time period (hands up who believes that). I tried heading down the rabbit hole of data sources to figure out why but reached a dead end at Johns Hopkins.

      1. diptherio

        There’s a local micro-brewery that produces a stout called “Old Bongwater.” It’s a quite popular.

    1. Raymond Sim

      “Like that’s a negative thing.”

      Well, yeah. I mean, unless the fact that it’s still burning improves the taste a hell of a lot, I’m here to tell you that is not what I would call restaurant fare.

    2. bassmule

      “Rooooooooll another one
      Just like the other one
      That one’s burned just ’bout to the end
      So come on and be a real friend”

  7. ewmayer

    Question for any tax specialists amongst the commentariat, and also heads-up to any who use Paypal to send & receive money:

    Tuesday, received e-mail from Paypal saying they need my taxpayer ID to conform to a new IRS requirement. The gist seems to be that the IRS, sensibly enough, wants to make sure people earning significant income (the criticial threshold appears to be $20,000/year) via Paypal are properly reporting it. The problem: a lot of Paypal transactions are not income. Two ready examples from my Paypal use:

    1. For years, my roommates and I have used Paypal “Send Money to Friends & Family” – one of the few features of Paypal I actually like because as long as one doesn’t need the money to be transferred instantly, there is 0 fee – to manage the monthly rent+utilities sharing – I cut the rent check and have utils direct-debited, send them EOM e-mail invoice with current-month breakdown, they Paypal me their portion. As we live in Highrentistan (a.k.a. SF Bay area), those transfers easily exceed the above-mentioned $20,000/year threshold.

    2. Occasional personal loans to relatives – e.g. last month short-term-loaned my sister $2K so she could pay off a post-family-summer-vacation CC bill and avoid the usury interest. A few weeks later she got her annual bonus from work and repaid me, also via Paypal.

    Is the IRS going to try to tax me on such stuff? In both cases we typically include a brief comment in the payment-accompanying “Note to recipient” field, e.g. “January rent+util share” or “personal loan”, and in both cases there is additonal documentation demonstrating the “not income” aspect: the monthly invoice e-mail to the roomies in [1], and the matching loan and repayment Paypal transactions in [2]. But if there’s even a modest chance that this new reporting is going to lead to extra IRS paperwork each year to prove the “not income” aspect, I’ll probably just switch back to the old-fashioned personal-check route.

    1. Stephen V.

      Income matching compliance programs are a big deal for those usians on the modest rungs of the ladder and especially for the self-employed.
      Assuming you are SE, you will file a Sched C which is basically an Income & Expense statement. The hyper-careful method is to help the machine- which wants to see all those 1099 whatevers–and list all of them singly in Income–right wrong indifferent.
      Then simply compile under Other expense all those trx that do not belong in Income. IRIS does not have the manpower to do office / human audits very much at all: ymmv.
      “Expenses” can be argued over. Income has to match. Feed the beast.

    2. MonkeyBusiness

      It’s not just Paypal. eBay did the same starting the beginning of the year. Last year I sold over 3K of stuff on eBay, personal stuff that I had already paid sales tax for. Needless to say, I am no longer selling on eBay.

  8. TBellT

    As the size of the college educated cohort has expanded though haven’t income differentials moderated? To the point where college educated = non working class is a bit of an oversimplification?

    1. Pelham

      I was thinking the same thing.

      First, it depends on the definition of work. Physical labor is, scientifically speaking, the only kind of real work as it involves mass and movement. So the non-college-educated are probably dominating those jobs, while college grads who succeed in securing paper-pushing abstract thinking jobs are hardly workers.

      But then there’s also is a growing grad cohort that ends up doing physical work, such as waiting tables and gig driving and delivery jobs. And even many of the paper pushers can claim only the flimsiest tissue of pretense that they aren’t shackled into the working class. So all this suggests a good deal of overlap.

      Then again, maybe I’m mistaken. Perhaps the key distinction between the college-educated and those who aren’t has less to do with education and occupational ruts than it does with indoctrination and the nurturing of thought patterns suited to the messaging of a woke Democrat Party.

      1. cnchal

        > Physical labor is, scientifically speaking, the only kind of real work as it involves mass and movement.

        From https://www.lexico.com/definition/work

        1 Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

        7 Physics
        The exertion of force overcoming resistance or producing molecular change
        Automated systems which produce objects that can be dropped on your foot “work”.

  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    I concluded another blow-by-blow of the reconciliation discussions. Amazing stuff at the human level; like a novel. If you can see the UPDATEs, you will have refreshed your browser.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the ProgDems in the House allow this bill to survive this vote, they will lose their one chance to show that they have the ability to destroy a thing, thereby asserting their rightful claim to control that thing.

      They will be subjected to every sort of psychological blackmail, extortion, shaming, etc. As well as gross material threats to their Congressional Careers.

      Are they prepared to stand at Thermopylae, like Xenophon’s Three Hundred, declaring that the Sinemanchin Barbarians shall not pass?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        We are too close to Christmas, and Sinema already had her wine vacay. Pelosi and Biden let this whole thing go on too long. Manchin is a thug, but I suspect he thought he would get more accolades for the Mitt Romney approved “Bipartisan infrastructure” which is at best a “there” piece of legislation that he’s now looking for a big man moment. Its the same with Sinema. Their obstruction simply wasn’t a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment and any fundraising wins they received are basically wiped out by standing with Lindsay Graham who I thought the Resistance declared a KGB asset.

        If everything had passed this week, Manchin wasn’t going to receive any real praise.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          at a layer just a bit higher in the algal mat of our elite class…ie: the people who the people who were in the winecave with krysten work for…the “They”…want to tank the whole thing.
          they need us’n’s stupid and desperate.
          as it should be.
          but they don’t go to beerjoints.
          and they pay no mind to coversations around the lumber truck, or in the dingy back room of the covenience store, where the mops are.
          Krystin is being far too open and shameless about the backsheesh and whoring.
          I’d venture that she might even be the Demparty version of trump, except that everybody in Demdom hates her guts right now…and will never forgive her(Lobbyist is prolly off the table, too…unless there’s an unforseen resurgence of this Rump Clintonism afoot that i haven’t noticed).
          making this performance her “Yer Fired”.
          one turns from her shenanigans, and looks at that gottheimer or whatever, and his little outfit(“problem solvers”-lol)
          and the two are linked by who pays for their drinks.
          Like the Original Flavor of Clintonism, they represent the lost tribe that we used to call “The Moderate Wing of the Republican Party”, back in Reagantime.
          Except curdled and sour and bereft of whatever moral argument they used to have.

          when there’s “block parties” in Riveroaks(houston) or the Dominion(san antonio) or Tarrytown(Austin)…made up of unpermitted ordinary folks…black, brown, white and Pink…and “conservative and liberal”…burning shit and having a party…then we might actually confront what’s wrong with this country.
          Masks aren’t it.
          the Klan ain’t it.

          manducare dives.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              in the mornin, i promise.
              i just rarely check it, since email never really became a part of my doins.(rara avis)

      2. ambrit

        Sorry dw, that was Leonidas and the 300 Spartans. Xenophon was with the Ten Thousand, who fought as mercinaries for a later Persian contender for the throne.
        Now, as for “gross material threats,” there are those pesky peasants and their pitchforks….
        And, alas, the Barbarians are within the gates already.

        1. Alex Cox

          One of those articles compared Manchin and Sinema to ‘eyelidless reptiles’ or something along those lines. This is very unfair. Reptiles are beautiful creatures who consume comparatively little (they are cold blooded). And they do have eyelids. Some have an additional eyelid which filters out blue light. Justice for the reptiles!

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Thank you for the correction. In some ( Greek and/or Persian quarters), that slip up would be taken very seriously. I hope my basic concept at least got across.

          1. ambrit

            Sorry. I often come across as pedantic. It’s a personal failing of mine.
            Your point was right on the money.

    2. Ranger Rick

      I checked the news for the first time in months once I saw “debt ceiling” start showing up in political circles. A government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic, inflation surge and logistics crisis? Par for the course.

      1. Questa Nota

        Debt ceiling theater is just another pol opportunity to get attention focused on a new performative topic, or away from a stale controversial losing one, or both.

        Add a month, quarter or fiscal year end to the impact of the 72 hour news cycle and you see how DC and others manage manipulate the process.

        At least with Kabuki there are cool costumes.

        1. Newcatty

          Sinema has her own version of “cool costumes”. Tight sleeveless dresses accented by big glasses, highlighted hair and artful make-up. This is not to dis her look as being sleazey, just to point out its definitely a calculated look. It was yuky to watch her preen with Joe and fellow sell out Manchin during msm press coverage.

          1. Nikkikat

            Oh, didn’t you love the cheer leader outfit she wore on the floor of the Senate to give us the finger…..oops….I mean thumbs down on the minimum wage increase? Lol
            She does seem to enjoy preening in front of all those old dudes tottering around there.

          2. albrt

            I have no problem dissing Sinema’s look. I assume she is smart enough to know what she looks like, so the look itself is as much of a dis to the voters as the “thumbs down” dance.

            She looks like a rich bag lady from the 70s.

        2. Nikkikat

          They love to extend the debt ceiling to December, whereby a whole lot of Wall Street and corporate bribes get paid off. The Dems will then claim that the Republicans “put it in at the last minute”and none of them know how that happened! They do this every year. What a surprise.

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    Are continuing reports of a few ivory billed woodpeckers not dead yet in the Choctawhatchee River swamp forest in Panhandle Florida merely wishful thinking?


    Somewhere in my papers I have a book about this. I can’t remember the title. An interesting thing was that while the South has several swamp forest rivers, most all of those are surrounded by farmland. But the soil in the Choctawhatchee River region was too poor for farming, so it supports pine plantations instead. And the IBs allegedly hiding in the river swamp come out to eat grubs living under the tight bark of the plantation pines.

    The closely related Imperial Woodpecker of Mexico lived in mountainside conifer forests, also eating under-bark grubs.

    Perhaps bird-lovers who don’t want to give up on the IB woodpecker just yet can set up a fund like Ducks Unlimited but for buying farmland and other land next to deep river swamps and plant it to pine forests to host grubs under their bark to feed any IB woodpeckers which might sneak into these other river swamps, if there are any IB woodpeckers left to sneak into them.

    1. Nancy the Librarian

      The book I recall hearing an author interview was titled Stalking the Ghost Bird. I made note of the headline in today’s water cooler just from the interview. Perhaps it’s time to pick it up for a read. :-)


      Another author, Tim Gallagher has a couple books out.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The problem with this desperate desire ( which I share) to see I B woodpeckers not extinct yet, is that rich trolls with time on their hands could very well capture some pileated woodpeckers and dress them up to look like Ivory Bills. And then release them in the deep river swamps.

        If I saw an “Ivory Billed” woodpecker in a likely river-swamp habitat, my first thought would be ” its a pileated in I B disguise.” I would look for certain features to rule a pileated in-or-out under all the I B disguise makeup. I won’t way what I understand those features to be, just in case any merry pranksters are thinking even now of running this little practical joke.

        If it passed the ” not a pileated” test, I would then want to rule out its being a Great Black Woodpecker kidnapped from Europe and brought here for an I B makeover for the same trollish purpose. ( Here are some images of the Great Black Woodpecker. I could easily imagine it being given an I B makeover, and looking even more convincing to those of us who want to believe.)

  11. Katiebird

    Manchin says reconciliation bill must include controversial Hyde Amendment” [The Hill]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said late Wednesday that an expansion of Medicaid that Democrats are seeking to pass as part of their massive reconciliation bill must include the Hyde Amendment to get his support. ‘Yeah, we’re not taking the Hyde Amendment off. Hyde’s going to be on,’

    Sounds like Manchin wants to kill it dead. The Progressive Caucus can’t let that in.

    1. Geo

      Surgeon says “This patient needs a kidney transplant.”

      Manchin says: “The transplant must include razor blades and gravel.”

      1. Nikkikat

        Lol! Manchin must carry 3×5 cards in his pocket, waits for the the press in the hallway and just pulls one out and shouts, Hyde amendment, no no it’s a… only 1.5 trillion. Blah blah. His excuse cards are constantly reshuffled as I doubt he remembers who paid him for what.
        He is a joke. But then what would the dumb Dems do without him?

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, they can . . . but they shouldn’t.

      If they do, then they lose credibility in a way that they will never get it back again. And they will poison the credibility well for future progressive cohorts for a couple of decades to come.

  12. chuck roast

    Feeding the birds…

    Here along the southern New England coast, I haven’t seen a Robin in months. Even the cockroaches of the sky, the Starlings, have disappeared. The Doves are around and I have seen Catbirds and Cardinals. I finally saw a bunch of pigeons on the wires the other day…none in the parks or plazas. The hawks will have a difficult commute this fall. Lots of seabirds and the little fishes proliferate around the docks and piers.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Yes, lots, as in millions, of juvenile menhaden (peanut bunker) in the local coves and bays being fed upon by all kinds of terns, gulls, cormorants, striped bass, with goldenrod in bloom up on the marsh…. Very autumnal.

    2. steve

      Alabama here, the Robins have been in abundance for several weeks and the Starling/Blackbird flocks showed up today. It was nice hearing the flock gossiping among themselves.

  13. Geo

    “Pelosi, a longtime legislator with a record of emerging victorious from tough negotiations.”

    I laughed when I read this… then realized it was true. It’s just those negotiations didn’t look like victories from my perspective.

  14. jr

    Re: triggering triggers trigger the triggered

    “A large study by Jones, Bellet, and McNally found that trigger warnings reinforced the belief on the part of trauma survivors that trauma was central (rather than incidental or peripheral) to their identity. The reason that effect may be concerning is that trauma researchers have previously established that a belief that trauma is central to one’s identity predicts more severe P.T.S.D.; Bellet called this “one of the most well documented relationships in traumatology.”

    I’m inclined to think this is a feature, not a bug, of identity politics. To be clear, I’m not accusing the writers or academics detailed in the article of this. It’s “in the water”.

    Establishing certain groups of people as eternal, infantilized victims whose suffering can only be alleviated by constantly identifying with their in-group traumas, i.e. racism, transphobia, etc. seems to be the point of it all. Always, it seems, with the guiding hand of a professional “activist” or “intellectual” at the helm of the “movement”.

    I’ve never heard an identitarian explain how exactly they are supposed to move on beyond those painful “lived experiences”. I’ve heard a lot of talk about directing rage at other groups of people and plenty of “othering” but when does the healing part start? Now, according to this piece, the very concept used to identify and ward against the memories of those painful experiences is in fact reinforcing them. Stunner. But then, snake oil salespeople such as DiAngelo or Coates need to insure things stay exactly the way they are. It’s too lucrative to allow for change. Gotta pay for those stupid haircuts somehow.

    1. Acacia

      Although quasi-obvious, these studies may be a welcome development for university teachers. They can be cited as scientific support for pushing back against those who demand trigger warnings on syllabi or in the classroom.

      1. jr

        That’s a great point. This crap has to fall apart at some point, under the weight of it’s own inanity as well as external pressure.

  15. Mikel

    “Elizabeth Holmes ‘deferred to’ her COO-boyfriend when running Theranos, her lawyers argue” [Yahoo News]. The COO was the CEO’s boyfriend? Really?

    Yep. That’s why she didn’t really go for the blind dates that her investors and supporters were trying to fix her up with. They didn’t know either.

    1. Eustachedesaintpierre

      That is very similar to the situation a friend of mine found himself in here in Northern Ireland, but it was his 5 year old who picked it up at school. He & his wife who are both dbl vaxxed ended up flat out in bed for 4 days, with his 2 teenagers suffering from something like a bad cold, which left the 3 year old who stayed as her normal hyperactive self much to the annoyance of everybody else – they are now 7 days into a 10 days isolation period.

  16. enoughisenough

    LOL Chait being a “fan of incremental progress”.

    How can anyone be a fan of that??

    I’m sorry, that’s just perverse. If you want progress, you want it as soon as possible. Incrementalism may be a necessary evil at times, but the GOAL is progress itself, not incrementalism.

    This guy needs to pull his head out of his *ahem* a bit more.

    Also Obama’s presidency is indefensible.

  17. haywood

    RE: “There Just Aren’t Enough College-Educated Voters!”

    Coming up in electoral politics during the bush admin, the working class white vote was highly coveted by the Dem establishment, squashing left policy priorities so as not to scare away the elusive Bubba bloc. It worked, for a while. But post-Trump, the liberal elites can barely conceal their glee over their imagined enemies’ mass death from drugs, despair, and disease

    The Joe Rogan Show demographic should be an obvious target for the left, ten of millions of under-50 working class people, currently teetering between left-populism and reactionary nationalism. But there’s no institutional framework for engaging, educating, and organizing these folks because they’re deplorable-adjacent.

    Also, I gotta say that “non-college educated” isn’t a good stand-in for “working class” but, this being America, I suppose it will have to do.

  18. fresno dan

    Our illustrious medical establishment.
    So yesterday I had a CT scan of my neck and chest (so assess vascular health). It just so happened that this morning I had an appointment with my regular physician, who told me that the ordering cardiologist wanted me to go immediately to the ER, to get antibioltics because I had pneumonia with fluid. (bear in mind this was conveyed to me in the doorway from the waiting room into the actual doctor’s offices – and as is typical, no chance to ask a question).
    So I call the cardiology practice, which essentally never has a live person answer the phone, but promises to return calls within an hour (but NEVER does).
    So I call the cardiology practice AGAIN (5 hours after the intial call). They tell me the cardiologist had looked at the CT scan and doesn’t think I should go to the ER. But they will check with the cardiologist again – and call me back…
    Its like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

    1. griffen

      So I’m following along, the cardiologist ordering you to the ER has observed the CT scan results ? Just making certain that I can see the breadcrumbs.

      Keep calling. Hope you find the answers! Yikes but our medical establishment is “the bestest” in the world?

      1. fresno dan

        September 30, 2021 at 6:34 pm

        The thing is hinky on so many levels.
        It is hard for me to imagine that my regular physician would make something up out of whole cloth, that could be so easily verified or debunked.
        Was it a mix up of scans? (somebody does have pneumonia).
        Did someone OTHER than the cardiologist, not proficient in interpreting scans, call my regular physician??
        I am really getting the impression that this cardiology practice is too big to be run competently.
        During my last call, I found out that I had some more appointments scheduled – THAT NO ONE HAD TOLD ME ABOUT.

    2. Wukchumni

      Sorry to hear of the latest travails in your namesake, fresno dan.

      Somebody pointed out that Fresno has a nice zoo and presumably the residents within are content, watching the human comedy filing past them.

  19. ex-PFC chuck roast

    Re: milling…

    During my heroic, distinguished three-year career in the US Army, I was once put in charge of the troops. We were a ‘firing squad’ of seven duds and an NCO who packed into a station wagon on occasion to attend the funerary rites of military veterans in order to perform a 21-gun salute. It was actually good duty because we always ended up at the local VFW or Legion hall and got fabulously loaded on all the ex-dud’s dimes. On one occasion our dud NCO was called into the barracks for some reason, and dud PFC roast having ‘time-in-grade’ was ordered to take charge of the other six duds. Pride swelling in my dud breast, I moved to the front of assembled duds who were standing at-ease. I gave them the order ‘tench-hut’! The duds came to attention. I quickly followed with the order “mill-around, mill”! Apparently, unable to countanence such precision order-giving, the dud NCO turned quickly on his heel, ordered me back into the dud ranks and re-assumed command of the duds. This, for the edification of ex-duds everywhere.

    1. Eustachedesaintpierre

      Firing parties were once a big thing here in Northern Ireland during the Troubles & at one such affair, Gerry Adam’s brother was shot & badly wounded by a British soldier whose name was also Patrick Adams.

    2. Mikel

      “People in emergency situations report calling out to others, asking, “What’s going on?” When someone tells them to evacuate, or to take shelter, they fail to comply and move on, asking other people the same question…”

      I remember being with a few friends at an outdoor concert/festival. We suddenly saw a hundreds of people running our way, running from something – a gathering stampede. Didn’t ask any of the people passing us what was going on, we just started running too (if only to get out of the way!).

      We all got separated in the rush and it was only when the running subsided and I was almost out of the festival area that I asked what was going on. Turns out there was a fight and somebody thought they saw a gun. We ran past police officers who weren’t doing anything, but looking befuddled. Couldn’t get my friends on the phone. Seems like we weren’t the only ones wondering what was going on. Nobody had cell service for a bit. .

  20. Mikel

    “The problem with individual stock buying” [Felix Salmon, Axios]

    When they stuck Tesla in the indexes, my opinion of them changed.
    The breadth between the top stock FAANNGMAT (or whatever) and everything else is breath taking.
    FAANNGMAT is holding it all up by an inflated thread. Especially noticed now.

    Half the market could correct and the indexes could still look like they are at all time highs…

  21. IMOR

    re: ‘White House seems utterly unbothered by it.”
    A major skill of the Senator from Deleware for 45 years: utterly unbothered by that which should be of the utmost importance.
    There has been a lot linked and posted here the last few days that needs a corrective column viz. ‘party loyalty’ and the actual attitudes, actions and votes of Joe Baby!s cohort in Congress. I probably won’t get to it, but will post references and links.

  22. ambrit

    From this morning but still germaine:
    In a related item, I got an e-mail from Medicare this morning stating that “high risk” populations, (65 years old and above, have underlying medical conditions, or work in a high risk setting,) who have had both shots of the Pfizer “vacine” can now get the booster after six months of getting the second shot previous. Just the Pfizer “brand” shot was mentioned.
    America is mirroring the Israeli plan. AIPAC must now refer to the “American Israeli Pandemic Action Plan.”
    Stay safe!

  23. chris

    File this bit of anecdata under American Exceptionalism, or related staff shortages…

    The school system in my county has approximately 59000 students. In August, it implemented a policy that unvaccinated students who are reported sick must verify that they are PCR negative before returning to school if they exhibit any of a host of symptoms. Things ranging from stomach flu to minor colds in addition to COVID. While this is probably something that should have been considered years ago, in the midst of the current pandemic, it has stretched resources for pediatricians to the breaking point.

    I had a sick child visit with my youngest today and the doctors and the nurses at the practice my kids are patients at told me that they will not be supplying doctor’s notes for a return to school beginning on October 15. The explanation was that their practice, and others, were so full of students needing to be seen and cleared for a return to school that they had no capacity to evaluate sick children and discern whether they needed to go to the hospital for further treatment. When the discussion turned to why this was happening, a principal in the pediatricians office told us that no one from the county had told any of the practicing pediatricians what the policy was going to be. They were completely unprepared to be a clearing house for a population of 59000 indeterminately sick kids.

    I find this is exactly what our leaders are doing at all levels of society right now. They have no awareness of the costs or challenges involved with a particular plan. So they don’t understand why they can’t do it. I sincerely doubt anyone at the local school board even thought about what this kind of requirement would mean. Jackpot ready we are not. We don’t even know what being ready means :/

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      prolly requires a whole thread…especially if anybody else has such hefty anecdata.

      i could likely go on and on…and about much more than mere covid,lol…but won’t…
      we had a “chemo teach” this afternoon in san antone, and i’m to bed.

      suffice, for now, that we ain’t ready.

      1. skippy

        ***Ready*** is a curious state of affairs in shaping both perspectives on how to address a potential future from a planing phase to the mental/emotive state.

        Through my absurd wanderings in 60 years I’ve noticed the latter is key factor in outcomes and is not something you can buy, read in a book, comes naturally[tm] = anointed, amassed knowledge, et al.

        Disheveled Marsupial story time …. sorta like going to a 101st unit after a RGR battalion, rocking up to the company HQ only to have office staff blink at my uniform flair[waves at Lambert]/high level military deportment, inevitably drawing out the CO from his den, received the VIP treatment and got a private meet and greet in his den, informed that I was just the guy he was looking for as a personal driver/radio ops chauffeur [look at me other CO’s I’ve got flair[tm]] buttigieg duty, argued that was a bad allocation of my training and abilities [should have gone to recon], anyway I got shanghaied, tumultuous occasion [was even invited to join the 101st post national/international pistol team but kicked back by CO for not licking his boots or something], followed by reassignment overseas which culminated in payback time with a ginned up article 15 punishment requiring me to attend Charlies Chicken Farm or CCF, largely staffed with multi tour Ex Vietnam SF blokes near retirement, at the time, gobsmacked to see my uniform flair there, payed extra special attention to me [leaning rest position (push up) with elbows between the cracks in the tile floor for about an hour etc], walked out with a letter of accommodation, not to mention a request by a SF SSG cadre to chaperone his young niece coming for a visit with dinner at his house, which I did, followed by the request by me to be put through the motivator [100m trench filled with obscene mud/water running under the billets] just for fun when picked up, usually forced upon attendees for the joy of those that sent them, at the end of it all I had to break into the dry cleaners to fetch my A class uniform after hours from the roof so I could make my flight to Korea in time and SOP.

        Watch out for the willow tree – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcSlcNfThUA

        BTW double dare you to play Living In the Sunlight at one of your gatherings …..

  24. Wukchumni

    I’ve been delicately smoked now from the KNP Fire for almost 3 weeks, tender & juicy. Wondered how a shoulder filet would taste so I got a rusty X-Acto knife and sliced off a meal sized portion while applying a tourniquet to my upper arm to stop the bleeding. Pan fried is the way to go, seasoned to your liking.

    The fire is mostly going through the motions now, getting a little bigger but nothing much, while containment lines are being laid hither and fro. There’s something in the area of close to 20 miles of bulldozer line that was newly carved out as defensive line.

    No structures have been lost, but for the 300 or so AirBnB homes here in tiny town, they’ve lost all their income stream for probably a few months.

    In the early stages of the fire, these very same domiciles were a bit of a headache for the sheriff wanting to inform residents of a possible evacuation, for they are all ghost houses, nobody was ever really ‘home’

  25. polycarpus

    Just a note from the field – re: Wall Street article about shipping: Forty years ago and today, semi – truck drivers did not like to be called “truckers”; the preferred terms were “truck drivers” or “drivers”. “Truckers” came about from a novelty c/w song 40 years ago.

  26. Mikel

    The US is flying drones over Afghanistan like a stalker or jilted lover doing a drive-by to see if you’re at home or with anyone.

    1. LawnDart

      I used to park down the street (at her insistance).

      Now wondering if I caused any problems for her neighbors…

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s an article explaining real clearly why the Sinemanchin and especially the Sinema itself does what it does.

    It bears this forlorn title . . . ” The trainwreck of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is the cost of not getting money out of politics | Will Bunch ”

    The problem is that the Supreme Court put money at the hot glowing core of politics and then decided that it is unconstitutional to put any moderators or control rods in among the money, or to put a containment dome around the money. Perhaps we should say it is ” uncourtstitutional” because the pro-OverClass court made this the supreme law.

    So we will have to find some other battlefield than inside the Money Reactor to try deleting the Sinemas from public life.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, the Supreme Court has made it mostly impossible. Of course legislators can keep on trying. But I don’t expect any changes.

        What’s the opposite of a “movement”? A “stillment”? A “sagment”? If millions of people who are currently demotivated by perpetual defeat in every attempt to get something for themselves and eachother were to be re-motivated by a vision of getting collective revenge on a deserving target of their hatred, what could they do?

        Could a movement of millions destroy some of Joe Manchin’s wealth?

        He is supposed to own coal mines in West Virginia and maybe beyond. If they are metallurgical coal, there is nothing we can do. We do want some steelmaking to happen here instead of in China. But if these mines are thermal coal for power plants, could a movement of millions or tens of millions reduce or destroy demand for his coal? Which particular utilities and plants burn Manchin coal? How many people in those utilities’ and plants’ service area would like a conservation upgrade to their houses and etc. if they got help paying for it? If a movement of thousands of “green upgraders” within those service areas received donated money-support from millions of ” green vengeance-seekers” from all over the country, how many houses and etc. could these “green upgraders” super-efficientise for all that money? Enough to reduce electricity use in those service areas to seriously reduce revenue to the Manchin-coal-fired utilities and plants? By enough to reduce or destroy their demand for Manchin’s coal?

  28. VietnamVet

    WaPo: “Messy, incomplete U.S. data hobbles pandemic response”. “We are flying blind”. From the start, 20 months ago, testing, reporting, and surveillance in the USA have failed. It was inevitable. The multinational corporate state is solely interested in profits. mRNA vaccines make money. Testing is profitable for the laboratories but reporting, tracing, surveillance, and quarantines are not. They need lots of government money that the oligarchy will never spend. The Elite are adamantly against funding for a functional national public health system that serves the worthless lower-classes.

    The tales from the frontlines in schools this fall are horrible. If you have kids, there is an unknowable risk of the family being sickened even if the adults are fully vaccinated unless you school at home. Another lost generation of survivors is being born right now. Public Education is being stabbed in the back.

    The tragedy is that, just like WWI, incompetent western leaders are not being replaced. Dr. Anthony Fauci is still on the job. Propaganda — “mRNA vaccines are safe and effective” does not work if it is a big lie. Nobody wins. Like the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires in WWI, the Western Empire will not survive the coronavirus pandemic intact. The USA is on a path to succession.

  29. Glen

    I would love to see a IB. Here in the PNW we have the Pileated Woodpeckers, and they are a sight to behold. At one time we had a whole family showing up to the feeder, dad and mom and three young ones, great fun at the feeder. But the local bears also like that greasy suet and kept knocking down the feeder so no Woody Woodpeckers to watch right now.

  30. ArvidMartensen

    Men as things. W.E.B DuBois was right, people are now things and have been for a while. People are “Human Resources”/”Human Capital”.
    But the big thing to notice is how, in the English language, “who” is now reserved for inanimate objects, corporations etc. eg, “we spoke to the manager of the business who makes widgets”, etc
    And “which” and “that” are now words for people. eg “the manager, which has control of the widget line”, etc
    Illustrates that people now think they are objects, and corporations are people.

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