2:00PM Water Cooler 10/1/2021

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

A duet!

UPDATE “Thousands of Years Before Humans Raised Chickens, They Tried to Domesticate the World’s Deadliest Bird” [Smithsonian]. “The southern cassowary is an enormous, flightless bird native to the forests of New Guinea and Northern Australia. The dinosaur-like creature has glossy, jet-black feathers and a bright blue neck with a vibrant scarlet wattle dangling from its neck. They also have three-toed, razor-sharp talons that can inflict severe fatal injuries with a roundhouse kick when provoked, earning them the title “world’s deadliest bird,” reports Asher Elbein for the New York Times. While one should certainly be wary around a cassowary and its dagger-like claws today, a new study found that humans may have raised the territorial, aggressive birds 18,000 years ago in New Guinea, making them the earliest bird reared by our ancient ancestors.” • Good eatin’. What a happey coincidence this week’s birds ended up coming from New Guinea!

UPDATE “Pandemic Bird-Watching Created a Data Boom—and a Conundrum” [Wired]. “Thomas is one of many people who took up birding during the pandemic, inspired by the sparrows he saw on his daily walks. ‘I realized how adorable they are and that they’re living in the city amongst us and thriving,’ he says. He started taking pictures and sound recordings, identifying the birds with the help of apps like Merlin and eBird. Those entries add information to databases that scientists use to study migration and behavior. ‘All of those observations that people are submitting, they go into very advanced modeling to create distribution maps for species, to look at trends of their populations,’ says Andrew Farnsworth, a senior research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which maintains both apps. Now Thomas is also a volunteer with the Audubon Society’s Project Safe Flight, which is collecting a different kind of data. The group enlists people to monitor New York City buildings during the fall and spring migration seasons to record the number of birds killed or injured by flying into windows. Bird-watching has boomed during the pandemic, and all that extra interest has translated into citizen science initiatives seeing a huge swell in participation. With the fall migration now in full swing, this army of avid birders is amassing a wealth of data about how weather, human movements, artificial lights, and city infrastructure can affect birds as they travel. Farnsworth notes that while both Cornell projects have grown every year since their inception over a decade ago, the increase in users, downloads, and data over the past 18 months was unprecedented.” • Awesome. I seem to have stumbled into a zeitgeist thing, here, though I swear my sole motivation was to find something cheerful to open Water Cooler, and so I thought of Robert J. Lurtsema, who opened his long-running classical radio show with birdsong. Serendipity!

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At reader request, I’ve added these daily charts from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. I think it’s time to do some tinkering with the charts. I want to improve the vaccination area, if I can, to distinguish between first, second, and ideally booster shots, and give a total. The original purpose of the chart was to see if the advent of the “adults in the room” boosted the vaccination rate at all, and it did not. (Hence, kudos to the heroic efforts of people on the ground.) I also need to look at positivity and see if the data problems (hat tip, Lou Anton) can be overcome, of indeed if the chart is even useful, given the advent of commercial test kits whose data is untrackable, CDC, good job. However, as Arya would say, “Not today!”, with so much going on over on Capitol Hill.

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.

55.6% of the US is fully vaccinated (mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Saudi Arabia). 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:

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. And now the Northeast is falling as well.

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 October 1, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties, this release:

Still better everywhere, including the Northern Latitudes and even the Rockies (but why Maine? Highest cases ever, despite 64.91% of the population being fully vaccinated. The absolute numbers are small, but it’s worrisome. Could be rural areas, could be schools. It’s not chilly yet, so windows can still be open.) 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). Pop-up unresponsive today, much like the CDC itself:

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: 716,867 713,969. 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

Capitol Seizure

How a Secret Google Geofence Warrant Helped Catch the Capitol Riot Mob Wired

Australia’s NSW state premier resigns over corruption probe amid COVID-19 battle Reuters. “My work here is done.”

“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:

[10-01, 12:46PM] “In a scene reminiscent of Veep, Democrats leaked from a closed-door meeting about fellow Dems urging them to stop leaking” [Politico]. “Democratic House members gathered behind closed doors for an all-caucus pow-wow on Friday morning — their latest effort to find a path forward on their legislative agenda. Inside the meeting, fellow lawmakers urged their colleagues to stop leaking to reporters, who were tweeting verbatim quotes as various Dems expressed their views. One of them was Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), whose comments promptly… leaked….. Can anyone literally think of any example in the private sector where people leak sensitive information in real-time? Congress, you’re one of a kind!” • It doesn’t sound like this was a serious meeting. And since nothing is being whipped, it’s hard to tell if anyone is serious, except for the “progressives,” for the first time in living memory.

[10-01, 10:32AM] “Biden to meet with House Democrats amid infrastructure vote chaos” [Politico]. “House Democrats will hear from President Joe Biden later Friday at a second closed-door huddle of the group that day, after their first two-hour meeting left members with little clarity on the path forward on Biden’s two major priorities…. ‘The resolution is not here in this caucus — the resolution is with two senators, and the rest of the 98 percent of the Democratic Caucus,’ Rep. Pramila Jayapal said, noting she’s been in touch with the White House ‘multiple times’ since last night. ‘I feel very confident that we’re going to be able to deliver both these things, but you’re gonna have to give us some time because it does take time to put together these kinds of transformational investments.’ While senior Democrats say they are making progress in talks, the framework remains unfinished and lawmakers are unlikely to see a final top line in their caucus meeting, according to multiple sources…. ‘We’re on a path’ to have a vote Friday, Pelosi said as she entered the Capitol Friday morning, though she told reporters it would be ‘useful for us to have a conversation later today.’ But when Hoyer was asked if a vote were happening Friday, he said: ‘We’ll see.'” • Meanwhile, Sinema blew town. Clap your hands:

Jayapal, however, can count too. As we have seen.

[10-01, 10:21AM “Live Updates: ‘There Will Be a Vote Today’ on Infrastructure, Pelosi Says” [New York Times]. “Leaving the Capitol just after midnight, Ms. Pelosi told reporters ‘we’re not trillions of dollars apart’ and vowed ‘there will be a vote today’ on the infrastructure measure.” • For some definition of “today”; I believe the House clock has been stopped because Pelosi did not adjourn the session, and so House time now no longer corresponds to calendar time, which makes sense, in a way.

* * * Yesterday * * *

[09-30, 4:56PM] “Opinion: It’s ugly, but we’re finally getting a glimpse of how the sausage will be made” [WaPo]. “Some unusually grating new things just happened. But because this is how the process works, you can squint at the messy pile of sausage filling and see signs of progress… Here’s another thing about the sausage-making process we’re seeing. If the House fails to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the vote scheduled for Thursday, guess what? It won’t actually be a disaster…. The most likely explanation is that Pelosi is doing a clever balancing act: She is outwardly pushing hard on the idea that she will hold the vote, to keep Manchin, Sinema and centrists (who want it to pass) happy. At the same time, the prospect that progressives will sink the infrastructure bill helps ratchet up pressure on Manchin and Sinema to agree to a reconciliation framework. What Pelosi wants is to put pressure on everyone: It will be the best of all possible worlds if the centrists do agree to a framework that progressives can accept, and then they agree to help pass the infrastructure bill. We don’t know how this will turn out. But if the infrastructure vote fails, or if it’s postponed, that’s just fine. Bills have been known to fail and get brought back and pass. A postponement would mean more room for negotiating the reconciliation bill, making that more likely to succeed.” • I can accept the idea that Pelosi is playing both ends against the middle. But even if you regard the Progressive Caucus actually getting together to something as a mere coup de theatre, it’s still a real thing that happened. It’s a bell that can’t be unrung.

UPDATE [09-30, 11:31AM] “Manchin proposed $1.5T top-line number to Schumer this summer” [Politico]. “Joe Manchin proposed a deal to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this summer to limit the total cost of Democrats’ sweeping spending bill to $1.5 trillion, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by POLITICO…. The West Virginia senator has been distributing the document to Democratic colleagues and leaders in recent days to underscore that he has outlined his red lines on President Joe Biden’s jobs and families plan. The one-page understanding is dated July 28, right before the Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin helped write and ahead of Senate passage of a budget setting up a spending bill as large as $3.5 trillion.” • Here it is, from July 28, 2021:

Even better, from the Democrat’s Senate site, from August 9, 2021, on the Budget Resolution:

And yet:

Schumer’s thought process is not clear to me, to say the least. If this is a side deal, it nullifies the main deal. Perhaps readers more Machiavellian than I am can explain. Schumer apparently knew that Manchin was not merely a stumbling block, but the sort of stumbling block who puts his demands in writing and insists that you sign them. (If you’ve ever encountered such a person at your workplace, you know how unpleasant that is.) So what does Schumer do? Knowing that the Budget Resolution topline and the Manchin topline are wildly at odds, (a) he allows the reconciliation train to leave the station, (b) while stabbing Pelosi in the back and (c) the Progressive Caucus, and (d) (I assume) Sanders, thereby (e) assuring a trainwreck of mutual recrimination and distrust the instant the discrepancy became evident. Why? Cunctation, a.k.a. “kick the can down the road”/”get to the next screen”? And was Manchin being frogmarched into a state of agreement in the interim between July 28 and this week’s vote? Apparently not. Instead, we’re showering him with highway money in the BIF. And what about Biden? Did Schumer clue Biden in? Schumer? Schumer? Schumer? One thing is for sure: The Democrat leadership is not, as Putin would say, agreement-capable. The “progressives” are right to stand their ground.

* * *

“How Biden Could End the Debt-Ceiling Crisis by ‘Minting the Coin’” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. For those who came in late: “Back in 1995, America’s coin collectors successfully lobbied Congress for legislation that would empower the Treasury Department to mint collectible platinum coins in a greater variety of sizes. The idea was to facilitate the creation of smaller, cheaper coins to help less affluent coin collectors get in on the sweet platinum action. In writing this legislation, however, Congress accidentally — and yet quite explicitly! — gave the Treasury secretary extraordinary money-creation powers…. In 2011, the blogger Carlos Mucha, writing under his commenter name “Beowulf,” noted that this law seemed to provide a debt-ceiling work-around: If the Treasury secretary has the power to mint platinum coins of any denomination, then he or she could (1) mint a $1 trillion platinum coin and then (2) take it to the Federal Reserve and use it to repurchase $1 trillion in Fed-held U.S. Treasury debt. Just like that, the U.S. debt level would be brought well below the statutory ceiling, and the government could carry on paying interest on its debt while meeting all its statutory spending obligations. Notably, such an action would not be inflationary “money printing.” The supply of money circulating in the real economy would not change. One branch of the government would simply deposit a coin in the account of another branch of government, thereby erasing $1 trillion from the national debt. Nothing would change except accounting figures that Congress has fetishized. This is part of what makes the “mint the coin” option so appealing to critics of Beltway deficit politics in general, and proponents of Modern Monetary Theory in particular: It helps expose the absurdity of fixating on national-debt totals that are already influenced by factors nearly as arbitrary as the platinum-coin gambit, while spotlighting our government’s absolute sovereignty over money creation.” • I’m so old I remember when this was a fringe idea….

[10-01, 6:01AM] “Manchin throws down gauntlet with progressives” [The Hill]. “‘For them to get theirs, elect more liberals,’ [Manchin] said, noting “I’ve never been a liberal in any way, shape or form.’… Manchin appears confident that whatever he eventually agrees to in the reconciliation package, which now appears to headed to a top-line spending number well below $3.5 trillion, the House will eventually pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would send billions of dollars to his home state. For instance, the bipartisan infrastructure bill would create a new $2 billion rural grant program that will dedicate resources to the Appalachian Development Highway System, also known as the Robert C. Byrd Freeway, in West Virginia.” • They’d better be reinforcing the road surface to handle the trucks going to the nuclear waste dump Biden ought to be siting in Manchin’s district.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Kyrsten Sinema must be stopped” [Matt Yglesias, Slow Boring]. ” Because while I don’t believe Kyrsten Sinema will be the future of the Democratic Party, one can at least squint and sort of see it. So far, most of the newly elected Democrats from favored quarter suburbs are pretty solid liberals who still back taxing the rich and expanding the welfare state. But Sinema and a handful of her allies in the House do portend a possible alternate route where Democrats try to turn themselves into a pro-business identity politics movement that mostly just gets creamed by the populist right. It’s a very alarming development, and unless she changes course quickly, it would be very advisable to mount a primary challenge to her…. Sinema isn’t blocking popular progressive ideas because she’s getting corporate money; she’s getting corporate money because she’s blocking popular progressive ideas, and businesses want their key ally to succeed and prosper.”

Republican Funhouse

“The Memo: Omarosa beats Trump, potentially opening flood gates” [The Hill]. “Manigault Newman had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the 2016 Trump campaign, which the Trump legal team argued was violated by her authorship of the book. But the agreement was voided by a New York arbitrator on Friday. The decision was first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday…. But the New York arbitrator said the provisions of the NDA could not stand up because they were so ‘vague and indefinite.’ The arbitrator, T. Andrew Brown, added, ‘There is no way here to tell if a breach has occurred, since the determination of whether there is a breach is left to the sole determination of Mr. Trump.'” • That is so Trumpian.

I love the Nixon account. What a historical figure. There were giants in those days:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Southern Baptist Seminary Heads Join Chorus of Critics as Leaders Balk on Abuse Probe” [The Roys Report]. “Pressure is building on members of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to allow a third-party firm full access to investigate how it has handled allegations of sexual abuse over the past 20 years. This week, all six Southern Baptist seminaries expressed their dismay at the Executive Committee’s unwillingness to act.” Yikes.

“Can the System Save Itself Again?” [Vulgar Marxism]. “From the point of view of the Democratic Party, Biden’s domestic agenda is critical to its short-term electoral fortunes, the medium-term stability of the political system that empowers it, and the long-term health of the biosphere in which the capitalist mode of production is possible. So how can it be that this party, both as a self-interested actor and the superego of American capital, may fail to pass it?… But it turns out capital remains as shortsighted as ever, and has mobilized to tank Biden’s agenda. At long last, we’re about to find out the answer to the most important question of our era: just how much can the political class extract from capital in the absence of mass popular mobilization or a muscular labor movement? If it isn’t enough to reverse, or at least arrest, the decline of living standards for the working class, we can expect further instability in the political system. Though they’d be loathed to admit it, Democrats should be thanking their lucky stars that the sui generis figure that first emerged to take advantage of these cracks in the foundation was Donald Trump. A right-populist insurgent with total independence from the Republican power structure, a highly activated base, and the ability to circumvent media gatekeeping could have executed a realignment that would have crippled the left for a generation or more – had he been willing to actually challenge capital. Thankfully, Trump’s real passion in life is doing Hot or Not segments on the TV Guide Channel to rank the looks from the Condé Nast Halloween party, so this fate was avoided – for now. But if this legislation also fails to provide for appropriate levels of decarbonization and climate resiliency, that’ll be the least of our worries. So far, the signs are not promising.” • Well worth a careful read (and a hat tip to the alert reader who pointed me to it.)

UPDATE “Interview: Jason Crawford, nonprofit founder” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. • As readers know, my view is “Euthanize the NGOs.” I’m also heartily sick of the glorification of Founders (especially in Silicon Valley, where “Founder” is a synonym for rentier or worse). We don’t need more things founded. What we need is our creaky and collapsing societal machinery restored, and that involves a lot of tedious work by civil servants and citizens. That’s where the glorification should go.

Stats Watch

Manfacturing: “United States Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Manufacturing PMI was revised higher to 60.7 in September of 2021 from a preliminary of 60.5 but below 61.1 in August. The latest data indicated a marked improvement in the health of the manufacturing sector, despite being the slowest since April. Despite rising markedly, production was often hampered by severe material and labour shortages, as supply chain disruption worsened. Demand conditions softened from the peaks seen earlier in the year, but both domestic and foreign client orders rose at historically elevated rates. Pressure on capacity was reflected in the fastest uptick in backlogs of work on record, as challenges expanding workforce numbers persisted.”

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI in the United States increased to 61.1 in September 2021, up for a second straight month and above market expectations of 59.6. The latest reading signaled one of the strongest rates of expansion since 1983, boosted by solid increases in production (59.4 vs 60.0 in August) and new orders (66.7, the same as in August), as well as a slight rebound in employment levels (50.2 vs 49.0). At the same time, factories experienced longer delays getting raw materials delivered and paid higher prices for inputs.”

Income and Spending: “United States Personal Spending” [Trading Economics]. “Personal spending in the US rose 0.8% mom in August of 2021, rebounding from a 0.1% drop in July and beating market forecasts of a 0.6% gain, a sign the economic recovery is gaining traction after a summer slowdown due to the spread of the coronavirus delta variant. A rise in spending for food and beverages as well as “other” nondurable goods (mainly, household supplies as well as recreational items) was more than enough to offset a decrease in spending for motor vehicles and parts.”

Income and Spending: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States rose 0.2 percent from a month earlier in August 2021, following a 1.1 percent advance in July and slightly missing market expectations of a 0.3 percent gain. The compensation of employees, such as private wages and salaries, as well as government social benefits were mostly behind the gain. Within government social benefits, an increase in Child Tax Credit payments authorized by the American Rescue Plan, was partly offset by a decrease in unemployment insurance, due to declines in payments from the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.”

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment for the US was revised higher to 72.8 in September of 2021 from a preliminary of 71 and above August’s 70.3. …. Meanwhile, inflation expectations for the year ahead were unchanged at 4.6%.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Jim Chanos Says NFT Market Is Rife With ‘Nefarious Activity’” [Bloomberg]. “‘Traders can set a false, inflated market price and then issue another set of NFTs at a supposed big discount for the public to buy, Chanos said. ‘So they can get in on the 10-fold increase that they just manufactured. This is as old as markets. This is wash trading,’ he said.”

Manufacturing: “Iron Battery Breakthrough Could Eat Lithium’s Lunch” [Bloomberg]. “SB Energy Corp., a U.S. renewable-energy firm that’s an arm of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., is making a record purchase of the batteries manufactured by ESS Inc. The Oregon company says it has new technology that can store renewable energy for longer and help overcome some of the reliability problems that have caused blackouts in California and record-high energy prices in Europe…. The units, which rely on something called “iron-flow chemistry,” will be used in utility-scale solar projects dotted across the U.S., allowing those power plants to provide electricity for hours after the sun sets…. ESS was founded in 2011 by Craig Evans, now president, and Julia Song, the chief technology officer. They recognized that while lithium-ion batteries will play a key role in electrification of transport, longer duration grid-scale energy storage needed a different battery. That’s because while the price of lithium-ion batteries has declined 90% over the last decade, their ingredients, which sometimes include expensive metals such as cobalt and nickel, limit how low the price can fall…. Flow batteries, however, look nothing like the battery inside smartphones or electric cars. That’s because the electrolyte needs to be physically moved using pumps as the battery charges or discharges. That makes these batteries large, with ESS’s main product sold inside a shipping container.” • Big if true.

Manufacturing: “Auto makers are preparing for the global chip shortage that has slammed production to turn into a long-term challenge. Industry analysts say there is growing belief across the sector that the crisis will extend at least into next year… and that it could lead to a structural upheaval in automotive supply chains that could take years to overcome” [Wall Street Journal]. “Auto makers face a two-pronged challenge as they seek chips to keep their factories running today while game-planning to ensure future supplies. The growing strains in the auto business show how stresses on supplies and production that began early in the pandemic are growing deeper in some sectors, and triggering broader changes in supply chains. Auto makers now are finding fresh bottlenecks among suppliers even as semiconductor makers start to phase out the low-tech microprocessors prevalent in new vehicles, threatening availability in the future.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 28 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 31 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 30 at 1:50pm.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Pleasure and Justice” [Boston Review]. “hollow consent, unaccompanied by inner aching, is at least as ubiquitous as sexual coercion. Sex that is merely consensual is about as rousing as food that is merely edible, as drab as a cake without icing. Even in our era of ostensible liberation, women face emotional and social pressures, both externally imposed and uneasily internalized, to appease men at the cost of their own enjoyment. Heterosexual women are forever licensing liaisons that don’t excite them—perhaps because they have despaired of discovering anything as exotic as an exciting man, or because it no longer even occurs to them to insist on their own excitement, or because capitulation to unexciting men is so exhaustingly expected of them and so universally glorified in popular depictions of romance. As the formidable Oxford philosopher Amia Srinivasan writes in her debut essay collection, The Right to Sex, her female students regularly report that they regard their erotic lives as “at once inevitable and insufficient.” In short, the young women in Srinivasan’s classes are resigned to sex that is consensual but underwhelming. And who can blame them? There are vanishingly few contemporary contexts in which women are taught or encouraged to demand electrification, or indeed, to want actively at all. In the public imagination, they figure at best as passive consenters, accepters or rejectors of male propositions, at worst as the hapless prey of nefarious lechers. In this picture, sexual agency is mostly reserved for male philanderers and predators. It is telling that #MeToo has focused not on women asserting but on women assenting (or failing to assent). No doubt for partially strategic reasons, the movement’s proponents have rarely asked what good sex—by which I mean not virtuous but delicious sex—would look like for women, and under which conditions it might be realized.”

Our Famously Free Press

The failure of the Times to admit it made a mistake to fire all its copy editors, and to fix the resulting and humiliating copy editing errors, does not speak well for it as an institution:

This is a reporter, mind you:

They hate Sanders, they hate what he stands for, and they hate anyone who would benefit from his policies. Stupid people with bad teeth should suffer in silence. A union member, too!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Photos: Bruce’s Beach property authorized to return to family” [Los Angeles Times]. “In a historic move celebrated by reparations advocates and social justice leaders across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has authorized the return of property known as Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of a Black couple that had been run out of Manhattan Beach almost a century ago. Senate Bill 796, signed into law Thursday by Newsom, confirms that the city’s taking of this shorefront land — on which the Bruces ran a thriving resort for Black beachgoers — was racially motivated and done under false and unlawful pretenses.”

Class Warfare

“Ten Thousand UAW Members Gear Up for a Strike Vote at John Deere” [Labor Notes]. From September, still germane. “The seasonal timing also gives UAW the edge, according to Chris Laursen of Local 74 in Ottumwa, Iowa. ‘Negotiations wrap up in September, and farmers buy farm equipment after harvest’, he said. ‘They get paid, and that’s when they’re looking to buy more balers, harvesters, things like that. Deere cannot face a long strike.’ Parts supply shortages induced by Covid have created problems at the Harvester Works. Production workers get paid based on a complicated piece rate formula called the ‘Continuous Improvement Pay Plan’ (CIPP, pronounced ‘kip’). Essentially, management sets a rate for production and workers get paid bonuses according to whether or not their group hits that rate.”

“UAW, Deere agree to 15-day extension after contract expires” [Des Moines Register]. “Failing to reach an agreement by their deadline, Deere & Co. and United Auto Workers have temporarily extended their current collective bargaining agreement through Oct. 15. The company announced the extension minutes after midnight Thursday, when its six-year contract with the UAW expired. Leaders at UAW locals across Iowa shared the news on their Facebook pages as members in Deere plants stopped working, only to resume production minutes later…. The UAW represents 10,100 Deere employees across the Midwest, about 61% of them at Iowa factories in Ankeny, Davenport, Dubuque, Ottumwa and Waterloo. The Waterloo plant is the largest in Iowa, with about 2,900 union members as of April.”

“John Deere Workers Just Voted To Authorize A Strike” [Jalopnik]. “The strike was voted on after renegotiations for a six-year-old contract came grinding to a halt earlier this month. The old contract wasn’t a very popular one, as it barely passed at the last vote. It really only crested the cutoff by 200 votes because of ratification bonuses…. The strike couldn’t come at a worse time for John Deere management. With $1.6 billion dollars in the third quarter profits, the company is reporting higher numbers than ever. If the strike goes forward, workers would put down tools in the first half of October, and with the harvest season underway, this could spell doom for the company and potentially have larger ripple effects throughout the agriculture industry. UAW workers rightly contend that they need to be sharing in the record profits. A former local UAW president said the company is aware it needs to do right by workers.”

News of the Wired

“Why Science Can’t Settle Political Disputes” [MIT Press Reader (Furzy Mouse)]. “Values shape science at nearly every stage, from deciding what phenomena to study to choosing how to study and talk about them. As the philosopher Kevin C. Elliot explains in his engaging book on the subject, “A Tapestry of Values,” when environmental researchers started to refer to boggy areas as “wetlands” rather than as “swamps,” it helped persuade citizens that such places were not merely wasted space but rather served a purpose: supporting animal species, purifying groundwater, and improving flood control. Calling a chemical an “endocrine disruptor” rather than an “hormonally active agent” highlights its potential for harm. Scientists make value-laden choices every day regarding their terminology, research questions, assumptions, and experimental methods, which can often have political consequences. Wherever social scientists have looked closely, they have found elements of politics in the conduct of science.”

* * *

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 (Carla):

Carla: “I know hostas are ordinary, but aren’t they also deeply satisfying? (Admittedly, the foliage right in the middle of the image is that of a daylily.) Anyhow, I love my hostas!” This is a very well-conceived and pleasant walk, and I especially like the moss between the flagstones, which look pleasant to walk upon in bare feet. (So pleasant I will forgive what looks like bark mulch!)

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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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. Shrewd Wookiee

    Lambert, the test positivity cliff for the US-South is a data/91-divoc problem. Take a look at the plots for Alabama and Florida — they show 0% test positivity for the month of September. Their inclusion in the US-South grouping is what’s messing up the regional chart. Most of the other Southern states have plausible downward trends. Mississippi is also heading downward, with periodic spikes to 100% test positivity which are also obviously data problems.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks. I have mail out to the DIVOC guy. Not his fault if the states didn’t give him any data. I should have plotted the states, but other matters demanded my attention….

      1. Greg

        Stitch two themes together – maybe the supply chain for test kits is broken and they just can’t do tests where they can’t get them. No tests taken is no tests positive.

        1. fjallstrom

          On the contrary, the number of tests / day graph shows unrealistic numbers some days with millions of tests in a single day. If positivity is cases/tests that would cause positivity to drop like a rock, and the 7-day trend to stay wrong for a week.

          In a similar way, the spike in European numbers are France and Netherlands doing something with their numbers on the 21st of every month.

          The data or how the data is read, is faulty.

  2. Sailor Bud

    “Sinema isn’t blocking popular progressive ideas because she’s getting corporate money; she’s getting corporate money because she’s blocking popular progressive ideas, and businesses want their key ally to succeed and prosper.”

    Getting sick of this construction. ‘flip the mundanity’

    Mark isn’t clean because he took a bath. He took a bath because he’s clean.

    And I don’t see how Yglesias can assume precedent anyway. How can he know what snake talked to her or didn’t before she “started blocking progressive ideas”?

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Well, he also seems to think the Democrats aren’t yet a “pro-business identity politics movement that mostly just gets creamed by the populist right”.

  3. Wukchumni

    “How Biden Could End the Debt-Ceiling Crisis by ‘Minting the Coin’” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine].
    Seigniorage is the difference between the minting cost of a coin and the face value and is always considered as profit by the issuing authority, so by minting a trillion $ 1 oz platinum coin, really the net amount gained is $1,999,999,999,016.00.

    Book it Danno!

    1. MK

      Next up – Kathy “I have to be super ultra progressive if I want to retain gov position next year against all those NYC pols & a black female attorney general looking to take my job” Hochel.

    2. Carey

      Perfect opportunity for the creation of charter schools in our California communities, thus allowing reading, writing and arithmetic, without the hundreds of hours of cultural brainwashing and self hatred inculcated in students from normal traditional families.

      This is going to help bury the Democrats in the midterms and beyond.
      I’m going to vote a straight Republican ticket in protest, unless a new Tulsi arises locally.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve been a public school supporter and charter hater for many years (and paid dearly in property taxes, too). If I had a child today, I would seriously consider home-schooling.

          1. ambrit

            Take our word for it, homeschooling has always been “under attack.”
            As we found out in our battles with the Saint Tammany Parish School board, the issue to them is Federal funding, which is tied to number of students. When we fought to homeschool, a friendly insider told us that each of our children was worth, back in the 1980s, four thousand doolars a year in Federal funds.

      2. TBellT

        The self hatred didn’t come from schooling, it’s from observing this country for the last 20 years and realizing we are all grandfathered into the same hypocrisy, (Afghanistan, Iraq, Financial Crash, foreclosure fraud, Syria, the list goes on). See yesterday’s link about the enduring appeal of the Sopranos. You can remove your kids from the schools but as long as they have access to the internet, knowledge of the crimes our government commits in our name will always be there.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          not just “our” government, but practically everything we’re taught to look up to.
          we are not, nor have ever been, a “shining city on a hill”.
          my youngest, soph., tells me about everything he notices the textbooks(and teacher) omitting or glossing over(like Labor History…it’s Texas, after all)
          i already know, of course, because my wife is a spanish/esl teacher, and brings the books home for me to peruse.
          he’s also had my recently deceased stepdad, a wounded vietnam vet, to learn from.
          when both boys, in their turn, discovered whatever war-positive videogame du jure and started yammering about being a Marine, i sent them to Papa,lol.
          i can’t say what i feel in public around here, lest i be shot…but i am perfectly willing to corrupt the youth when they’re out here.
          We are the evil empire…and all that “spreading democracy” was anything but.

          (in fact, i just turned 52 a month ago, and i can’t remember another time in my paying-attention-lifetime that we weren’t at war….or, at least, that i couldn’t think offhand of a war we were engaged in right then, whether named “a war”, or not)

          1. Tom Stone

            I grew up visiting a Grandfather and an Uncle in VA Hospitals and then a neighbor who lasted 3 days in country before he got shredded by a mine.
            He took three years to die at Oak Knoll Hospital in Oakland.
            Mom took me and made sure we visited all of the wards.
            Amputee, Burn, head trauma.
            It was a valuable education.
            I’d like to see every member of the Senate and the House spend 3 months emptying bed pans in a VA Hospital before they are allowed to take a seat in either House.

      3. Asgard Trondheim

        Voters were not bothered by how Newsom helped to keep public schools closed to in-person learning for one year while his own kids went to in-person private school. The science has been clear since mid-summer 2020 that the benefits (nutrition, mental health, better learning) of in-person school for children outweighs the risks of covid (extremely low infection, transmission, and mortality rates for children).

        1. Mantid

          Hmm, put yourself at the podium as a teacher. You mention “extremely low infection, transmission, and mortality rates for children”. Well as a teacher seeing 30+ children per one hour class X 6 – 7 classes per day, that’s a pretty high volume of virus load floating in the air. Low infection rates X 150 students adds up. One penny is not much. But 150 pennies is a candy bar.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps destruction of the public schools in order to put them in liquidation and privatise the profitable parts of the wreckage is part of the secret agenda behind this newest mandate.

    3. Silent Bob

      From notorious Pharma shill Sen. Richard Pan: “Students who cannot be vaccinated because of age or medical condition and students who are at-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are protected when the people are them are vaccinated. In addition, education is disrupted when students are quarantined at home because of exposure and outbreaks and valuable school time and funds must be taken away from education to control COVID when students remain unvaccinated.” Needless to say this is complete and utter horseshit. I expected this from these ghouls and I fully expect to be horrified by how many parents willingly gamble with their children’s health.

    4. Nikkikat

      Yes, he of the fancy dinners with fancy people, all maskless. Cause you know, vaccine is the end all and be all. What a jackass.

    5. Objective Ace

      >The governor said the decision to wait until full FDA approval came from discussions with school leaders throughout the state.

      Can’t help noticing they used the term “until”, not “if”. Looks like the fix is already in.. and hardly helpful for those vaccine skeptical that we are actually following the science for any of this

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Manufacturing: “Iron Battery Breakthrough Could Eat Lithium’s Lunch” [Bloomberg].

    There are several companies bringing iron air batteries to commercial use (Bill Gates and Mittal is funding one of them).

    There is a big misconception about the role of lithium batteries in load balancing. They are not, and have never been intended, for long term storage of power. They essentially allow for ‘bridging’ power for about 3-4 hours after one source goes down (for example, solar at night). They have been quite popular recently simply because they’ve been pretty cheap due to the boom in manufacture. But real storage with on-demand supply requires other technologies, iron air batteries being one of the more promising ones. The technical problems involved are relatively straightforward and they involve no exotic materials or engineering. They will be in competition with a variety of other promising technologies for storage that are at large scale prototype or initial roll-out stage – these include thermal storage (Denmark is leading on this), liquid air (UK), plus in Australian there is a very promising system that will use thermal storage with existing thermal (coal) plants. There is already a lot of investment in using hydrogen to aid in load balancing (its not just about storage, its also about efficiently using surplus power). None of these require exotic materials.

    Its a matter of ironing out the technical details and getting the scale right. In reality, we’ll need all of them, but storage is not the most urgent element of decarbonising our electricity systems – the first priority is to put renewables in place, most grids are nowhere near their theoretical capacity for requiring mass storage yet. Mind you, the huge strains in grids around the world due to coal and gas prices makes getting this technology into operation quickly all the more important. In the longer term, grid storage may prove more important in terms of providing greater resilience in grids than in load balancing.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks – what I wrote a bit of a simplification of course. The problem with a topic like energy storage is that there are so many parts to the jigsaw – there are all sorts of reasons why an apparently great technology might fail, and also reasons why something comes out of the blue and surprises everyone – I’m not an expert on it, I just do some deep dives into the tech and economics every few years, mostly because here in Ireland with a very small grid storage has been a focus for investment and research for many decades. The original large scale storage facility was built have a decade ago here (Turlough Hill Pumped Storage Station). Pumped storage went out of favour not because it didn’t work – it worked very well – its just that expanding grids and more refined management systems proved cheaper, and then natural gas seemed the saviour to grid managers.

        From the ‘implementation’ side of the technology, it can change very rapidly – for example, one of the things that has surprised me in the last year is that there has been a shift in interest in the industry from ‘storage’ to ‘lets do something with the surplus electricity’, such as manufacturing hydrogen or ammonia for use in manufacturing. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I don’t really know. It seems to be driven by a renewed interest in a range of industries in getting a cheap source of hydrogen, plus the realisation that ammonia can be easily added to diesel and bunker oil to reduce emissions.

        There is a lot of information out there, the problem is sorting out the wheat from the chaff. Even the technical journals can often have a very narrow focus which ends up being very misleading.

        One source I’ve come across recently that seems very good at giving a ‘bite sized’ but still technically competent summary of the state of play across a wide range of technologies is the Just have a Think channel and website. There are plenty of others out there, but it can be quite an effort to figure out if someone has an agenda so it can be tough to critically assess all the information.

      2. jonhoops

        Look up MIT Prof. Donald Sadoway and the liquid metal battery. He’s been at the forefront of thinking about new approaches for grid storage for years. I think his company Ambri has a large prototype coming online this year.

        Here is a recent interview

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i’d never even heard of “iron flow batteries” until today…and i’ve been attempting to keep more or less abreast of solar/wind for decades(in case mom suddenly says “do it”..or i otherwise find that the $ is there).
      as far as storage not being a problem yet…well..it is for the individual making his own power.
      currently, batteries are the most expensive part of a system…like almost half the cost(back of napkin, recently).

      and, since you seem to be well versed, is there a technical/physics reason that these iron flow battries need to be shipping container size?
      or is that a function of the continuation of hydraulic despotism at all costs?
      (as in…instead of a windmill/solar array next to every house out my way, we instead have giant field of giant windmills(pretty, imo) that feed into the grid—I’m of the radically distributed power generation school on this)

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m not a huge battery expert, but basically flow batteries tend to only work well at scale. Its annoying that nobody can come up with anything better than lithium ion for small scale storage. I’m not aware of any storage system that really works satisfactorily at a small scale and I think there are a lot of reason why its unlikely that there will ever be any.

        In parts of rural India and the Himalaya I’ve been to people rely a lot on local power sources and they simply adapt their lifestyle to when power is available, with small scale storage (for example, old style batteries for light so kids can study at night). In the high Himalaya, people wash in the late afternoon, because thats when solar heated water is hottest (its amazing how hot a big kettle of water can get in a solar drum at altitude, even when the air is cold). The funniest example of this I came across was in a remote desert area of north China in the 1990’s. In a yurt some old Mongolian ladies were huddled around their TV, watching Budisliga football. This was what was on Chinese TV when the solar panels could power the TV, so they were big Bayern Munich fans I was told.

        As I linked above, the Have a Think channel gives nice simple overviews of the major battery tech that are up to date, although his focus is on grid scale, not local energy. I should state that I only recently came across the channel, so I can’t vouch for it as an entirely independent source, but I’m impressed so far.

  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    Thousands of Years Before Humans Raised Chickens, They Tried to Domesticate the World’s Deadliest Bird
    If Far Cry 3 taught me anything (and it didn’t) the Cassowary should be shot on sight.

  6. Samuel Conner

    > But even if you regard the Progressive Caucus actually getting together to something as a mere coup de theatre, it’s still a real thing that happened. It’s a bell that can’t be unrung.

    The thought occurs that NP treating the Progressives with (what seems to me to be) a rather unusual degree of respect might have some connection to the advocacy (IIRC, by Jimmy Dore and others) earlier this year of a Progressive vote against her speakership if she did not promise to bring certain progressive agendas (M4A-ish items were in view, IIRC) to floor votes. They didn’t act then, but could have, and now they are acting.

    Of course, we don’t know all that is said behind closed doors. I am heartened by the evidence of spine in the P caucus. Maybe the narrow House majority is a blessing in disguise.

    1. Big River Bandido

      The belief that Congressional caucus leadership races can be influenced by outsiders and outside events is just like the shell game.

  7. Laughingsong

    Joe Manchin III?!?!?!!!

    There have been three of them?!! Now I am certain that God has left this world to its own devices….

  8. Seth Miller

    Re: the nuclear waste dump Biden ought to be siting in Manchin’s district

    As a NYC tenant lawyer, I know a little about intimidation tactics. What landlords do is say “ok fine, I’ll give you your repairs” and then take over your apartment with ornery workers who do nothing but take up space and trash your stuff. So applying that on a national scale (yes, Trump already brought the ethos of NYC landlords to the national stage), you give him his Robert Byrd highway funds, and you shut down all but one lane for massive unending work, until Manchin relents. Close a couple of exits too.

    1. Jason Boxman

      It’s interesting to note that when Christie did this as NJ governor, or rather through his staff’s intuitions about what he might desire, it was considered beyond the pale. Not that I oppose using every leaver available to influence policy. Nonetheless, the parallel exists.

    2. haywood

      That’s what took Chris Christie out of the NJ governor’s mansion, if I remember correctly. It may be effective, but it’s tough to get away with these days.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Well, I guess the Sergeant At Arms could theoretically arrest people because he (I think its a woman these days) has a mace, but yeah, Congress farmed all that out. Its more a case of how many divisions does the Pope have.

    3. MK

      And the actual highway “work” is performed by W.V. DOT employees – NOT – D.C. controlled employees.

    4. John Steinbach

      That won’t work. I take Route 48 when going on ice fishing trips from Northern virginia to Deep Creek Lake. A modern divided 4-lane blasted out of mountains & about 60-70 miles on the leg I drive, I see maybe 50 to 60 cars the entire way. One lane closed won’t even slow traffic down.

    1. Carla

      Thank you, ambrit. I admit to loving my hostas, every day from May through September, rain or shine. A dear friend of mine used to call zinnias “the pot roast of flowers.” I guess I think of hostas as the “the pot roast of foliage plants.” Comforting and satisfying. I am deeply grateful to the vast local deer population who (KNOCK WOOD) don’t seem to fancy my hostas much. They do feast on the daylilies, though.

      1. ambrit

        The lack of deer is one of the very few positives about living in the urban area. The only floravores here are the bugs.
        Phyllis likes zinnias for the variety of colours. Good for still lives she says.
        Your hostas are well balanced with the walkway. Greys and greens, soothing to the eye. A place to unwind from the tensions of the day.
        Stay safe!

  9. Samuel Conner

    > I’m also heartily sick of the glorification of Founders (especially in Silicon Valley, where “Founder” is a synonym for rentier or worse).

    The thought occurs that “founder” is also a verb.

  10. hemeantwell

    Thanks for the Vulgar Marxism link. Thomas hits all the bases well. The only thing I’d tweak it for would be to add how much it helped during the hammering out of the mid-20th c social contract to have the Soviet Union, a nominal workers’ state giving wobbly support to an international anticapitalist insurgency, breathing down capital’s neck.

  11. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Vaccine rates: A little jump in the Northeast, oddly. Job mandates?

    Anecdotally, I would say yes: While the approach being taken by big finance firms in NY is a bit all over the map (particularly re timing), they are all uniformly saying that if you want to be in the office*, you have to be vaccinated. As the return to office push to put bodies in seats, this may explain some amount of the increase.

    * And they’re not giving out handfuls of ‘get out of vaxing free cards’. No vax, no office, don’t much want to hear what your reason for being unvaxed is. But they’re also not threatening to fire people for being unvaxed. You just have to stay at home.

  12. Toshiro_Mifune

    But Sinema and a handful of her allies in the House do portend a possible alternate route where Democrats try to turn themselves into a pro-business identity politics movement

    Try? I’m going to chalk this up to some sloppy editing and not willful ignorance of what the Democratic party has been for at least the past 30 years.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      There is a certain amount of self preservation. Remember Hillary’s line she agrees with everything Sanders supports but get things done. Its bs, but the idea the Democrats have been fighting the good fight against Machiavellian Republicans is what keeps them around.

      Matty Y has a substack now. I’m sure his plan to replace a guy like Tom Friedman and have some billionaire give a cushy spot. To a certain extent, he’s has to hustle for readership. Manchin and Sinema are clearly untrustworthy. I don’t know what Pelosi thinks, but anyone who is subscribed to a Matty Y substack is likely self aware enough to know you can’t deal with those two anymore. Jonathan Chait and David Brooks are being open about it. Even Obama is open to taxing billionaires. If Pelosi delivers the Romney/Graham bill but no reconciliation, it really opens up a guy like Matty to what has he been observing all these years. Pelosi doesn’t have a great record. Its not even mixed. Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom, and this is a rock bottom situation.

      The Romney bill doesn’t even have anything to use as an emotional bludgeon. People did get insured for the first time with ACA. Adults were able to stay on their parents’ insurance. We haven’t heard anything about how great Romney’s bill will be.

      Not only will Biden not be making improvements in people’s lives or a critical mass to lie about it, he and all of the enablers of the Democrats will simply be exposed to more people than they’ve been in a long time. Young people didn’t vote for Biden in the primary. But we are talking about people under 40, not 25.

      Going back to “Hillary gets things done”. The failure of the reconciliation bill will be one of the starkest examples not being able to get things done. There is no excuse for them. McConnell is a known commodity to rank and file Democrats. The Merrick Garland thing was a clown show.

      All of this is going on. Failure means real problems, and the people who promised Biden was a leader aren’t going to be bailed out by forming the resistance again. If Matty Y admits, this has been Team Blue SOP all these years, he’s basically telling his subscribers to get bent.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        its like we had to go through the “blue no matter who” stage on our way to that rock bottom,lol.
        (i say “we” out of habit…i abandoned them after 3 weeks of Obama)
        still…all of this apparently spine in the progs is encouraging(“don’t fall for it again!”, screams the Little Vulcan in my head)
        i hope the progs burn it all.
        the “autopsy” will be delicious.
        i also feel sort of validated, in that i’ve been out here yelling “F%^&k the Centrists” forever.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          They’ve lost David Brooks.

          There was a Politico article in the run up to 2014 where a major woman donor demanded from Pelosi an explanation of why they weren’t getting anything done and said she would have done more giving that money to the Boys and Girls Club. Pelosi’s response was that Hillary is coming and she’s a real leader who can get things done. Obama’s “failure” if not spoken is out there. Biden’s pitch is he knows the Senate. They are his friends. He isn’t strident like that Jew.

          Maybe they don’t have as much on the line as the plebes, but I’ve met donors over they years. Most are morons or they are no different than the little local committee people except the politicians take their calls. Thats it own kind of fun.

          They’ve lost David Brooks. Now he has a child bride, so he might be a little more on the ball these days. The Democrats have done what about abortion in Texas? If they can’t pass the resolution, they can’t do anything. 90,000 votes is the difference between Trump and Biden. That’s it. The Democrats can’t count on Jeb! being nominated.

          Jonathan Chait. Talking Points Memo. They aren’t punching left. If they are too afraid to go out there and blame Bernie Sanders and the snow flakes with their safe spaces who are always so mean.

        2. Jen

          Amen. I now have they perfect two word response to anyone who tells me vote blue no matter who. Bonus points for also being able to tell them what to do with their ID politics.

  13. fresno dan

    Our illustrious medical system Part 4
    So I just got a call from the cardilogy practice’s office which became my defacto cardiolgy practice after hospitalization. Rescheduling angiogram (which was delayed due to a positive covid test)
    So the person is telling me to stop taking blood thinner 48 hours prior to the procedure. I tell her that is no problem because I am not taking blood thinner because the prescription was never renewed – I called BOTH my family physician and the (present) cardiologist who is treating me about getting the blood thinner renewed. No one ever called me back…
    The woman I was speaking with than informed me that my primary cardiologist is different and is responsible for renewing prescriptions, and not the cardiologist who is treating* me. I did not know that, and I was never told that.
    Of course, I was never told out of the 4 or 5 cardiologists who spoke with me when I was in the hospital, which one would be the “primary” cardiologist.

    * treating in this instance meaning JUST for the angiogram? your guess is as good as mine…

    1. ambrit

      I am getting similar ‘signals’ from my present day “health professionals.”
      My admittedly cynical evaluation of this situation, your’s being more severe than mine, is that the increase in “Certified Medical Wealth Extractors” is expressable as a linear progression. The increase in billings, expressed as “Units of Exchange” is logarithmic in nature.
      See! Health Care can be quantified!
      In my case, the General Practitioner is responsible for all my prescriptions.
      When I contacted ‘The Handlers’ at Dzherzhinsky Square over the Pink Bunny Slippers Radio Net, to ask for a shipment of Sputnik V vaccine for all we loyal “correspondents” in the West, I was laughed at. They said that now, even people fully vaccinated with Sputnik V are barred from flying into America. Why do the West any favours was their question to me. The Cold War 2.0 takes a deadlier turn.
      See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/09/27/us-travellers-sputnik-russia/
      Stay safe! Take care of yourself. Civilized beings, such as yourself, are becoming quite rare “in the wild.”

    2. griffen

      That sounds much like a case for the patient to just wind up confused. And possibly saying yes to a screen or test that’s previously been ordered.

      Best of luck!

  14. Jason Boxman

    So here’s a scenario: Progressives finally roll and agree to a (later negotiated down further) 1.5T bill in exchange for Manchin dropping his insistence on the Hyde amendment. But maybe this time what constitutes the left in Congress does hold fast?

    In either case, this is the last and only opportunity to pass any legislation of this magnitude based upon the conventional wisdom about midterm elections until 2024 (Biden again or Harris), or possibly 2028. So given that, will the left fold and take whatever is ultimately offered? Or is the consolation prize that some conservative Democrats will lose reelection in 2022, perhaps hastened by no bills passing, enough?

    Tune in tomorrow…

  15. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: The South positivity drop.

    If it spread like wildfire with a highly vaccinated population, it could drop quickly. Cutting off the transmission points could be a big deal. Lying is the other option.

    1. Raymond Sim

      It could indeed, but in an unperturbed system* I would anticipate a more symmetric graph.

      *With human behavior only loosely coupled to disease incidence.

  16. dcblogger

    that Schumer intended to sell out the Build Back Better plan all along does not surprise me, what does surprise me is that he put it in writing.

      1. barefoot charley

        I make it out to be “I will try to [illegible] JOE [ILLEG ILLEG] often

        Hmm, who’s JOE?

  17. Carolinian

    Re Boston Review

    It is telling that #MeToo has focused not on women asserting but on women assenting (or failing to assent). No doubt for partially strategic reasons, the movement’s proponents have rarely asked what good sex—by which I mean not virtuous but delicious sex—would look like for women, and under which conditions it might be realized.”

    So Harvey Weinstein’s crime was in not looking like Brad Pitt (therefore no coercion needed)? I’m confused.

    1. Basil Pesto

      Obviously not. Any amateur sex-haver can tell you that the quality of the sex is not contingent on the beauty or otherwise of the sexee.

  18. Sardonia

    “In short, the young women in Srinivasan’s classes are resigned to sex that is consensual but underwhelming”

    I’m shocked, SHOCKED, that women are not being excited by sex which is required to have dialogue like:

    “May I kiss you gently on the lips?
    (gentle kiss, pause….)
    “May I kiss you a little more forcefully on the lips?”
    (stronger kiss, pause….)
    “May I gently place my tongue between your lips?
    (gentle french kiss. pause….”
    “May I gently caress your shoulder?”
    (gentle caress of shoulder. pause….”
    “May I gently touch your right breast”
    “Um….may I also touch your right nipple as I do so?”
    (and so on and so on and so on, until eventually they get to:)
    “May I gently insert my self-identified male member into your self-identified female…um…I don’t know the term you prefer for your…um….”
    “Vagina is fine.”
    “Ok, may I gently insert my male member into your vagina?”
    (gently inserts)
    “May I now gently withdraw it part way?”
    (withdraws partway. pause…)
    “May I gently re-insert my member into your vagina?”
    (gently re-inserts. pause….)
    “May I….”
    etc etc etc etc

    And women are not finding this experience to be mind-blowing, off-the-hook sex?

    I’m SO glad that my wild years were in the 70’s and 80’s, when the women with whom I dallied sure knew EXACTLY what they wanted, and their main complaint was how it was hard to meet guys who knew how to take charge.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      a negotiated sex contract does not tend to engender toe-curling, up against the wall ecstasy.
      who could have known?

      for my boys, Rule #2 encompasses all this:”Don’t be a Dick”
      luckily, i suppose, there are few young women in their cohorts that are the spawn of the woke.
      i’ve never had to throw down with a dad, for instance.
      what a world…

    2. Eustachedesaintpierre

      I am guessing that youngsters these days that many of both sexes have a lot of complicated gender, identity & relationship stuff going through their heads, that previous generations didn’t have to deal with when that fire starts to burning, way down inside of you…. as Millie Jackson put it back in the 70’s – not much is casual these days, but perhaps there is also a class element to it.

      I was never any good at the casual, I started with a large dose of unrequited love due to falling for a beauty who I raised up on to a pedestal so high that I couldn’t see her never mind reach her – the last that I heard of her she was with Midge Ure of the 80’s band Ultravox, which is when I bought the book Le Grande Meaulnes. Eventually & most fortunately I got to share 23 years with another sweet thing until she tragically had to leave, before this last 16 years with a beautiful but wild lady who my Dad always referred to as Rita Hayworth – so just 1 notch on each well worn bed.

      Different strokes for different folks I suppose, but it must be very difficult to negotiate today’s extremely complicated relationship minefield.

    3. Robert Gray

      > “In short, the young women in Srinivasan’s classes are resigned to sex
      > that is consensual but underwhelming”

      I suspect reading this will cause an apoplexy or two among the incels. Let’s hope there’s not another outrage.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        Good point & increasingly in the UK, more people lead solitary lives which might well be mirrored elsewhere – out of a population of about 66 million.

        ” The number of those living on their own increased by 16% between 1997 and 2017, to 7.7 million, said the ONS, which predicted that 10.7 million people could be living alone in 20 years’ time “.

        I wonder if any of them bear the name Eleonor Rigby.

  19. Pat

    Well I have two.suggestions. one that progressives give Manchin his 1.5 trillion dollar bill that strips all funding from anything not on their priority list AND provides taking additional funding from the infrastructure bill particularly anything in West Virginia by declaring those funds will not be available to even start the project until a long list of things are funded.

    Believe it or not that is less.petty than my other suggestion that not only should Biden put the nuclear dump in his district, but a holding facility until the waste can be tested to be secure should be in his backyard and on his yacht. And the only thing he gets compensated for at a $1 an acre is the backyard. The house remains his with all taxes and no recognition that it is now worthless market wise.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      yeah. it’s like the last 40 years never happened, and the demparty hasn’t had a front row seat to a master-class in “How to Wield Power” for all that time.
      they are institutionally still subservient, presenting their bellies, to the god, Reagan.
      it’s pathetic…and has been for as long as i’ve been paying attention.

      1. LawnDart

        “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
        ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

        Thanks for that, Hippie. It is a welcome perspective.

  20. Raymond Sim

    Did I misinterpret what I read? Is #MeToo now to be critiqued for not exhorting women to be sexually assertive?

    I’m flabbergasted. The myriad ways this makes no sense … surely I misunderstood?

    1. Bazarov

      The rules must be mercurial–otherwise they’d make poor class barriers. Constant and confusing revision keeps the proles from rising too easily from their station.

      Being unable to navigate the “right” manners and speech codes can be as marginalizing as having bad teeth.

      1. Raymond Sim

        “Constant and confusing revision keeps the proles from rising too easily from their station.”

        Ah, and keeps surplus-to-needs precari-elites occupied as well?

        Wait, did Orwell write about this?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        The terminology must also be mercurial and everchanging, also to reveal who is not all-consumingly obsessed with keeping up with the terminology to stay in with the in-crowd.

        Hence the constant invention and roll-out of words like “intersectionality” , ” latinX”, “cisheteronormative”, etc.

        If you really belong in the clubhouse, you will know each new word as soon as it is invented.

  21. Wukchumni

    Venezuela unveils new banknotes on Friday to once again slash zeroes off its currency, battered by runaway inflation that has compounded the country’s economic collapse and left many struggling to put food on the table.

    The national economy has shrunk by 80 percent since 2013 as the oil price crashed and output dwindled during decades of under-investment, US sanctions, and mismanagement by successive socialist governments.

    The latest devaluation is the third in 13 years and gives Venezuela the dubious distinction of becoming the South American country to have removed the most zeroes from its currency.

    Seven one-million bolivar notes — the highest denomination and very hard to come by — were needed to pay in cash for one loaf of bread in the once-rich oil-producing nation, now battling the world’s highest inflation rate.

    The math is tricky because of the various revaluations of the currency, but here’s a tale of 2 countries…

    An American silver Quarter coin dated 1964 or before would buy you a gallon of gas then and it still will today, worth about $4 in bullion value presently.

    A Venezuelan silver Bolivar coin dated 1965 has about $3 in bullion value presently, and is worth the equivalent of a few billion Bolivars.

  22. VietnamVet

    I like the coronavirus graphs. I check them every Monday through Friday. My mind looked at the latest COVID-19 deaths per million graph and decided that the fourth spike will be on its way down if the downward trend continues a little longer. This is even with schools being open about a month or longer in some places. What comes next? I still think that there is a real possibility there will be a fifth and even a sixth spike with increasing hospitalizations and death that will be impossible for the vaccinated to ignore. This seems likely with very leaky mRNA vaccines that use an extinct spike protein which makes Joe Biden’s mandates and passports pointless. Maybe Merck’s one a day covid pill will save the Democrats’ hides. You’d think self-preservation would wake them up to reality but it sure doesn’t look that way.

    1. Jim

      …and I’m wondering just how different “Merck’s one a day covid pill” actually is from Ivermectin. Which Merck used to manufacture. But since it’s off patent, isn’t capable of generating insane profits, and hence must be crushed, at least in the US. Never mind that close to 4 Billion doses have been taken by humans around the world over the past several decades.

      The current drive to force everyone to get Pfizer injections, even though those shots may not provide much protection against the dominant variant of today, is positively frightening. Forcing children to get these shots, when the risks likely far outweigh the gains, is even worse.

      1. cj

        My guess it it’s a combo of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin!!! LOL!

        Haven’t seen any links here lately promoting the wonders and miraculous healing abilities of either . What happened? Proven next to worthless? No surprise.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            It can be hard to keep up with the millions and millions and millions of words being written on these subjects.

            So yes . . . . links to specific articles would be a good thing.

    2. Raymond Sim

      I’ve been accused of being a Cassandra. (People apparently don’t realize Cassandra was always right.) But there is no sound basis for predicting an end to the waves of infection.

      The mathematics that describe the evolutionary dynamics of the virus are the sort of thing one learns in the second year of an engineering or physical sciences curriculum. The models that describe what’s currently happening are simple. That means it will be easy to discern when the situation has become too complex to be described by them (assuming data is collected) For now they remain predictive, and what screams out from them is that the payoff for being able to overcome prevailing immunity is so huge that given the virus’s capacity for rapid adaptation and the gigantic repertoire of immune evasion methods it always has waiting, just a few mutations away, we will see wave after wave after wave so long as we allow incidence to remain high.

      As I recall, poor Cassandra had premonitory visions. I’m just following the family-blogging science.

  23. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” For them to get theirs, elect more liberals” –Manchin.

    Maybe the DemProgs will decide that it is even more important to DE-elect more Manchins FIRST. Maybe the DemProgs will find a DemProg to primary Manchin with in his next primary. And maybe organize every Anti-Manchin primary voter in West Virginia to vote against Manchin in the general to raise the chances of deleting Manchin from the Senate.

    And if the Republican candidate is not materially worse than Manchin, the DemProg primary voters against Manchin could all vote for Manchin’s Republican opponent, to raise the chances of deleting Manchin.

    And in the meantime, DemProg-friendly media outlets, including social media and blog media, could highlight and catapult the propaganda about Manchin’s corruption connections.

    And also meanwhile, the DemProgs could try working with revenge-greens outside the elective politics arena to find out what utilities buy Manchin’s coal in particular, and figure out how to drive the use of electricity down down down in those utilities’s service areas.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    Reading the Hill article, I see the ” little Infrastructure bill” has several billion dollars for West Virginia. That gives the DemProgs a way to take West Virginia hostage in order to torture West Virginia into torturing Manchin into supporting the $3.5 trillion Reconciliation bill.

    This is the DemProgs’s one chance to say ” either we get the whole loaf, or no bread for anybody.” NOTHing for West Virginia until the 3.5 trillion dollar Reconciliation bill is passed. And if it is not passed at the 3.5 trillion dollar level, then nothing for West Virginia until West Virginia removes Manchin from politics and from public life. If the DemProgs miss this one single chance to either beat Manchin into obedience or destroy Manchin’s public presence by not allowing even one infrastructure dollar to be spent in West Virginia until West Virginia destroys Manchin’s career in politics, the DemProgs won’t get another chance. Including not another chance to rescue the credibility they will lose totally if they permit Manchin to destroy the two bills and then walk away and live.

    If the two bills die, then Manchin must die with them, and must be SEEN to die with them, as the price of double-crossing the DemProgs. By “die”, of course I mean “career death”, not “physical death”.

    ( Nothing can be done about Sinema. She is just a nasty crazy person. She should be removed like a cancer).

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