2:00PM Water Cooler 10/14/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

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#COVID19

Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Re workload: I eliminated charts for positivity, because I think private tests make those numbers useless. I cut back to a single hospitalization chart, because I think state-by-state data is more useful than a national aggregate. I retained vaccination (new administrations per day, plus percentage total), case count, and death rate (plus total). To spot new variants if and when they emerge, I changed the world chart to include countries that have form creating new variants: the UK, Brazil, and India, with Portugal as a baseline. I also retained rapid riser counties (though for now, with things so relatively quiet, I am including only this week’s data). Winter is coming! Do feel free to make additional suggestions. (If there were a global map that showed the emergence of new variants dynamically, for example, that would be helpful.)

Today I went looking for a map of United States wastewater data; but no joy, except for Missouri. I also went looking for maps of childhood cases and/or school cases; again no joy. I will keep looking, but I’m guessing our data collection efforts remain as half-assed and pissant as they have been throughout this pandemic, richest nation on earth etc. Thank you, CDC. Hat tip, public health establishment.

Vaccination by region:

Coercion works? Or boosters? (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)

56.6% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Turkey, as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

Case count by United States regions:

Even if hospitalizations and the death rate are going down, that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. So the numbers, in my mind, are still “terrifying”, even if that most-favored word is not in the headlines any more, and one may be, at this point, inured.

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. 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 social 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, although we have plenty of anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all. So what’s up with that?

Boston wastewater detection:

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report October 12, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

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

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 737,795 734,611. A continuing blip upward, despite a definite downward trend in death rate, mercifully. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found 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 in historic variant sources:

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Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Biden Administration

“Left doubles down on aggressive strategy” [The Hill]. “Emboldened progressives are doubling down on their aggressive strategy after an early victory over centrists, suggesting they see that approach as a winner in the intraparty fight. Liberal lawmakers in the House and Senate are calling for social safety net programs to be as universal as possible, pushing back against centrist Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) calls for programs to be ‘means-tested’ and targeted toward the lowest-income households. They also want programs that provide benefits to families to start as quickly as possible, rather than have a delayed start date in an effort to minimize the price tag. Liberals won an early battle with centrists when the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by the Senate was put on mothballs for a month; centrists had been demanding a vote. This week they appeared to win for a second time when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) quickly walked back comments that suggested she preferred moderates’ preferred approach to cutting the cost of the safety net package…. Progressives are holding firm on some of the specific items they want included in the measure, too. Most notably, they are insisting that the bill include expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing care. ‘This to me is not negotiable,’ Sanders said on a press call Tuesday. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the CPC chair, then said on the call that Sanders’s comments are ‘the position of the House progressive caucus.’… ‘I want to be clear, this $3.5 trillion budget resolution is not some fringe wish list,’ Jayapal said Tuesday afternoon during a call with several progressive senators. ‘It is no more, and no less, than the president’s agenda, one that the American people gave Democrats the House, the Senate and the White House to deliver.'” • It’s really amusing to watch Jayapal keep saying there’s no distance at all between progressives and Biden. I wonder how he feels about that?

“Four Waste Coal Provisions Manchin Put in the Infrastructure Bill” [Brick House]. “While he’s been demanding large cuts to the Democratic reconciliation package, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) has consistently urged the House to take up and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill that the Senate passed in August. Many of the business lobbying groups that fund Manchin’s campaigns back the infrastructure bill, but there may be another incentive driving Mancin’s support. A review of the legislative text shows that several provisions in a section drafted by Manchin’s committee would direct benefits to companies involved in waste coal, a niche area of the coal industry that happens to be what the Manchin family coal brokerage specializes in. Enersystems does not release information about its revenue, but the few public documents available show that it has a contract to provide waste coal to the only power plant in West Virginia that burns it for power. It is currently run by Sen. Manchin’s son, but Sen. Manchin earns about $500,000 from it annually through dividends on his shares, which he states in his financial disclosures are worth as much as $5 million.” • Sheesh. How do you bribe a guy who can write his own bribes?

Democrats en Deshabille

Mistake?

If your model is the current Democrat leadership built the party for maximum fundraising and minimum governance, the DSCC and Schumer’s choice of Sinema, and support for her campaign, was a feature, not a bug.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“You lost. Stop acting like you won” [White Hot Harlots (lyman alpha blob)]. “The abortion issue has been lost. I cannot fathom any plausible near or medium-term scenario in which the actually existing American left mounts a successful counteroffensive to the Texas bill. Poor women in red states and rural areas effectively do not have access to reproductive healthcare any longer. If they ever regain this right, it will be decades from now. This represents an immense and damning failure of all of America’s liberal institutions. In spite of access to abortion being generally popular–including upwards of 77% of adults wanting Roe to remain more or less in place–the Democratic party, their media apparatuses, and their NGO allies have absolutely shit the bed. They have lost. They have failed. Instead of taking a step back and examining their own tactical and moral failures, instead of owning up to their undeniable cowardice and naivety, instead of realizing that their messaging is at best confusing and at worse supremely alienating, instead of realizing that the other side doesn’t regard this as kayfabe but as a real issue they want to win… the Dems have done nothing. They’ve doubled down on failed strategies. They’ve retreated into their caverns of recrimination and mockery, wallowing in the comfort of blamelessness even as they presently control the executive branch and both houses of congress.” • In many ways, conservative Republicans are more serious about their politics than liberal Democrats, and liberals react to their ground game with aghastitude at the crudity of it all. That’s not helpful…

“Dems thought giving voters cash was the key to success. So what happened?” [Politico]. “When they took power this past winter, Democrats made a commitment to not repeat what many viewed as a critical misstep of the Obama years. The legislation they passed would do two things well: make sure that the benefits were frontloaded and that the impact was tangible. The result was a Covid relief package that included direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, $300 per week in unemployment insurance supplements, and an expansion of the child tax credit for a year. Nine months later, whatever political benefits were supposed to accrue from that package have seemingly faded. The public’s support for the direct payments has been overtaken by its concerns about the lingering pandemic. The federal unemployment insurance benefits ended in September with no apparent appetite by the feds or state governments to extend them. And while Democrats are seeking to extend the expanded child tax credit past its expiration date this December, recent polling data suggests that they are getting little credit for it. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released last week showed that 61 percent of respondents said they’d received the credit — a $300 payment per month for every child under the age of 7 and a $250-per-month payment for every child under the age of 17. But only 39 percent of respondents said that the payment had a major impact on their lives. And while 47 percent of respondents credited Democrats for passing the expanded child tax credit, just 38 percent credited President Joe Biden.” • First, Trump gave cash too. Perhaps Biden doesn’t get credit for continuing (and then abandoning) the policy Trump initiated. Second, Joe Biden owes me six hundred bucks. Commentary:

“How Democrats Can Save Themselves” [Ross Douthat, New York Times]. “But even a strictly defensive strategy, one that just prevents more Hispanic voters from shifting to the Republicans and holds on to some of Biden’s modest Rust Belt gains, would buy crucial time for Democrats — time for a generational turnover that still favors them, and time to seize the opportunities that are always offered, in ways no data scientist can foretell, by unexpected events.” • Shorter Shor: The party of betrayal should pay more attention to polling.

“In defense of the old-fashioned idea of ‘racism'” [Matt Yglesias, Slow Boring]. “If we accept the definition that a racist is a person who supports racist policies, and what makes a policy racist is that it ‘produces or sustains racial inequity,’ then determining which policies are racist requires exhaustive analysis of controversial empirical questions. Sanneh uses the example of ‘ban the box’ laws which prohibit employers from asking about past criminal convictions. Many activists and the National Employment Law Center regard this as an important anti-racist measure since African Americans are more likely to have prior convictions and thus be disadvantaged by this question. But Jennifer Doleac and Benjamin Hansen find that ‘ban the box’ laws lead to worse employment outcomes for Black men because absent specific information about past criminal records, employers engage in statistical discrimination. ‘Are these laws and their supporters racist?’ Sanneh asks. ‘In Kendi’s framework, the only possible answer is: wait and see.’ Sanneh’s review suggests, rightly, that neither Kendi nor anyone else can consistently stick with this empiricist concept of racism. That the visceral reaction to animus, bias, and discrimination is still with us and still works as the primary meaning of ‘racism,’ even for people who would like to officially move to something more like Kendi-ism.”

“S2 E12 Populism Saved Us Before. Where is it Now?” [Thomas Frank, YouTube (flora)]:

This is really good. It’s nice to have a YouTube where (5:27) both host and audience know who William K. Black is, and what accounting control fraud is.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to 293 thousand in the week ending October 9th, the lowest level since the pandemic hit the US economy in March 2020 and well below market expectations of 319 thousand. The steady labor market recovery continued amid a rebound in demand for workers and a slowdown in firings, layoffs and separations. Still, there are signs many individuals remain on the sidelines of the labor force due to lingering concerns over the coronavirus, with the level of new claims remaining above the average weekly pace from before the virus in 2019 and September’s labor force participation rate holding below its level from February 2020.”

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Finance: “Breakdown: Buy Now, Pay Later’s bill is coming due” [Reuters]. “What do Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Square (SQ.N), PayPal (PYPL.O) and Amazon.com (AMZN.O) have in common? They all agree that buy-now-pay-later lending is the credit card of the next generation. The short-term financing tool is shaking up how consumers buy online, prompting established lenders to scramble to catch up with industry upstarts. Meanwhile, regulators are worrying about an explosion of unsustainable debts…. The main danger is that pay-later debt is hidden. The loans are usually not classified as conventional credit, so providers do not need to report them to credit bureaus which build an overall picture of a consumer’s debt position. Sometimes lenders do not even report late or missed payments. This blind spot lets consumers rack up loans from multiple providers…. However, any sustained regulatory crackdown is likely to slow the growth of pay-later lending, while greater oversight will also raise compliance costs. That’s important, because the industry’s pioneers aren’t currently making money.” • Oy.

The Bezzle:

Doctors, pass this along to you network!

Supply Chain: ‘Ryan Petersen on How Global Supply Chains Have Gotten Even Worse” (podcast) [Odd Lots]. “We’ve been covering global supply chain pressures almost since the beginning of the year on Odd Lots. And with each episode the question is “ok, so when will things normalize?” But basically, not only have things not normalized, things have gotten much worse. So why can’t the system stabilize?”

Intellectual Property: “Split Federal Circuit rejects constitutional challenge to patent board structure” [Reuters]. “In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Mobility Workx LLC on its claims that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board unconstitutionally favors reviewing patents because it and its judges receive more money if it grants more review requests, noting among other things that Congress controls its budget. That control ‘renders any agency interest in fee generation too tenuous to constitute a due process violation,’ U.S. Circuit Judge Timothy Dyk wrote.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 14 at 12:28pm.

The Biosphere

“Indigenous knowledge and the myth of ‘wilderness'” [Phys.org]. “Aboriginal ideas of “wilderness” are in direct contrast to the romantic notion of “wilderness” as “pristine” or “healthy” that remains a powerful narrative in conservation efforts across the world today. Human impacts on the environment are almost always viewed as threats to ecological health. But this framing ignores the fact that Indigenous and local peoples have been actively creating, managing and maintaining most of the Earth’s landscapes for thousands of years. In fact, this ignorance runs so deep that many “high value” landscapes that are mapped in global conservation efforts are incorrectly assumed to be people-free, ‘wild’ places. In a special issue on tropical forests in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), our work shows that many of these high value ‘wilderness’ landscapes are in fact the product of long-term management and maintenance by Indigenous and local peoples…. Domestic plants, anthropogenic soils and significant earthworks all characterize large parts of what is considered “wilderness” in the Amazon. Indigenous and local peoples struggle constantly against wilderness-inspired conservation that seeks to deny them access to their homelands and the livelihoods that it sustains. Similarly, swidden agriculture—rotational agriculture based on small-scale forest clearing, burning and fallowing—has been used in southeast Asia and the Pacific for millennia, in some of the most biodiverse regions on Earth. These are areas that are today mapped as “wilderness” under scientific attempts to define the last remaining ‘Wild Places.’ But rather than being wild places, swidden agriculture has actively promoted landscape-scale biodiversity across the region, while simultaneously supporting the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Indigenous and local peoples.” • Well worth a read.

Health Care

On the doctor-patient relationship:

How it should be, but obviously the MBAs want to eliminate “therapeutic relationships” as such. Keep your eyes on that computer screen!

Groves of Academe

“At Stephen F. Austin State University, a quiet pay bump for the president sparks outrage and questions over the budget and furloughs” [The Texas Tribune]. “[T[he reaction was swift when faculty and staff discovered in late August that SFA’s board of regents had quietly handed Gordon an $85,000 pay bump last spring as part of a “contract” renegotiation, even as administrators warned members in that meeting of ‘turbulence ahead.’ The new contract also included an additional $25,000 pay increase each year for the next two years. In a word, nearly everyone – staff, faculty, even students – was angry. ‘We were told no salary increases, tighten your belts, we’ve got to buckle down to be frugal,’ said Matt Beauregard, a SFA math and statistics professor, interim chair of the physics, engineering and astronomy department and interim chair of the computer science department. ‘Why in anyone’s right mind would you renegotiate contracts? To me that shows just a lack of foresight or you just don’t really understand the academic mission of a university.'”… An apologetic Gordon quickly returned the pay raise at a special board meeting on Sept. 6, where the board claimed they approved the raise based on ‘information provided at the time.’ The next day, both Gordon and SFA’s board of regents chair, Karen Gantt, quickly set up a series of meetings with faculty and staff as part of a ‘listening tour’ where complaints could be aired, giving all a better path forward.” • Administrators. A “listening tour“….

Lordie:

Assuming the words of the Dean and the Diversity Director are reported correctly, they seem rather thuggish.

Our Famously Free Press

I’m sure it’s just an isolated example:

Guillotine Watch

It’s in Miami, so let’s hope the lower floors are designed to be accessible by boat:

Pandemic-ready it may be, but what happens to the elevators in case of a power failure?

Class Warfare

“Dollar General Workers Stare Down Historic Union Vote, Vowing ‘We’re Gonna Fight'” [In These Times]. “In less than two weeks, a tiny group of a half dozen workers in Barkhamsted, Connecticut will vote on whether to become the only unionized Dollar General store employees in America. These six people in a small town about 20 miles northwest of Hartford now find themselves positioned to gain a historic toehold for organized labor inside a booming, low-wage industry. But it will not be easy. Ironically, the staffers in Barkhamsted who have launched the union drive say they enjoyed the job. ​’The place is like a family. The people there are family. We all take care of each other,’ said a Barkhamsted Dollar General employee who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation at work. According to the employee, the union drive came about in September as a result of poor treatment of employees by a Dollar General district manager. The employee said that the district manager ignored a complaint of sexual harassment in the store, and was heard making racist remarks about the store’s manager. When the district manager unfairly accused the store’s manager of stealing, the employee said, ​’We all got scared. If they could do something like this to someone who didn’t do anything, what could they do to us?’ Asked about the allegations about the district manager’s behavior, Dollar General said in a statement, ​’As a company, we do not comment on allegations of employee wrongdoing, other than to reiterate our zero tolerance policy for unlawful discrimination and harassment.’ The store’s employees reached out to Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), which represents grocery workers, manufacturing workers, and others throughout Connecticut. On September 20 — after only a few days of organizing — the union filed for an election. On October 22, the vote will be held in a tent outside the store. As soon as the union petition was filed, Dollar General reacted with an intense anti-union campaign.” • Against six people!

On “the same sentiment,” you heard it here first:

Can readers in the railroad industy confirm or disconfirm?

“The Elite Are Unmasked. What About Those Who Serve Them?” [Bloomberg]. ” If you have attended a conference or public event recently, you may have noticed it: The wealthier attendees are not usually wearing masks, but the poorer servers and staff almost always are. Even if the attendees are wearing masks at the beginning, the masks come off once they start wining and dining — and they usually don’t go back on. Isn’t this a sign that mask-wearing is no longer so essential? At the very least, it sends a mixed message: If you want to be comfortable eating and drinking with your peers, it’s OK to take off your mask — but it’s not OK if you want to be comfortable serving food, carrying heavy trays and describing the dessert menu. Yes, there are reasons for this difference — for one, you can’t eat or drink with a mask on — but, just as surely, that difference is unfair. And that unfairness is heightened by the reality that, at least in the U.S., most of people who attend conferences or events tend to be White, wealthy and well-educated. The servers are often people of color and typically earn lower incomes. They are also hard workers. Are we really distributing the burden properly here?” And at the very end: “I also worry that the current practice of shaming less well educated people who have less efficacious vaccine and mask habits is going to backfire, and they will stop listening to elites altogether. Then American society will be even more divided than it already is.” • Yep.

“The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That’s Made the U.S. Less Secure” [Time]. ” But in addressing the causes and consequences of this pandemic—and its cruelly uneven impact—the elephant in the room is extreme income inequality. How big is this elephant? A staggering $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades. This is not some back-of-the-napkin approximation. According to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP—enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year.” • “Build Back Better” shows how hard it is to even tinker round the edges. (And I confess I never expected to see a headline like that in Time.)

“Minimum Wage Machine” [Blake Fall-Conroy]. “The minimum wage machine allows anybody to work for minimum wage. For as long as they turn the crank, the user is paid in pennies as time passes. For example, if minimum wage is $7.25/hour (the current US Federal rate), then the worker is paid one penny every 4.97 seconds. If they stop turning the crank, they stop receiving money. The machine’s mechanism and electronics are powered by the hand crank, and pennies are stored in a plexiglas box. The MWM is reprogrammed as minimum wage changes, or for wages in different locations.” • Photo:

Now let’s do surplus value:

“The Age of Exterminations (IV). How to Kill the Rich” [The Seneca Effect]. Since it’s out there: “As usual, the key to the future is in the past. Examining the destiny of the [Knights Templar], we may understand the factors that may lead to the extermination of a powerful (but not enough) financial guild. First of all, why were the Templars exterminated [by France’s Phillip IV]? I argued in previous posts (one, two, and three) that certain categories of people can be exterminated and their possessions confiscated when they are 1) wealthy, 2) clearly identifiable, and 3) militarily weak, The Templars clearly satisfied the first two rules but not necessarily the third: after all, they were a military order. Yet, when the King of France descended on them, they didn’t even try a military reaction. It may be that the prowess of the Templar Knights was much overrated: they were more like a private police force for a financial organization, not a real military force. But it may also be that it was exactly the presence of this force that hastened their downfall. Sometimes, a little military power may be worse than none at all, since it invites a decapitation strike.

News of the Wired

“Silverview by John le Carré — spies at the seaside” [Financial Times]. ” Silverview is [le Carré’s] 26th book and according to his children the only complete novel that was still left unpublished at the time of his death in December 2020…. At the novel’s heart is the question of what would drive an ageing spy, whose loyalty to the Secret Intelligence Service has never been in doubt, to turn his coat. The first inkling of this arrives when a letter is delivered to a senior spy in London warning him of a leak that threatens to endanger dozens of undercover agents. It is not virgin territory for le Carré, whose Tinker, Tailor trilogy also considered the pull of defection. But those novels were set during the cold war, when going over to the side of communism was never dressed up as anything but treason. The modern world of spying that le Carré contemplates here is presented as a far less Manichean place. The road is a tortuous one leading from the mass killing of Muslims in Bosnia during the Yugoslavian war to the west’s mendacious meddling in the Middle East.” • I bought Agent Running in the Field, which is very good, but I found my foreboding of whatever betrayals were to come so intense I could not finish it. So here is another book to fail, perhaps, to read. Here is an excerpt.

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

Carla writes: “Stokesia daisy feeding a bee in my garden.”

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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.

96 comments

      1. Expat2uruguay

        Oops, I edited it. I’m really glad that you noticed the typo, because I love the concept of the wealthy fleeing AND freeing leftist governments in Latin America

        Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Is greater Miami where the Richie Riches in flight from Latin America are buying real estate? Good. Let them and all their real estate go underwater beneath the waves of global warming’s rising seas.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Just remember that these very same people will be using their money to try to get America involved in a few wars & invasions in their own country – for their benefit. As a demonstration of this effect, it is the Cubans that fled Castro and their descendants that are responsible for Cuba still being embargoed whereas in a rational world, this problem should have gone away after the first Cold War was over back in the 90s.

        Reply
  1. giantsquid

    I know that Hepa filters have been discussed here, but I did a brief search of naked capitalism for an article discussing this study and came up empty.

    From a news article in Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02669-2 :
    “Research at a hospital swamped by people with COVID-19 has confirmed that portable air filters effectively remove SARS-CoV-2 particles from the air — the first such evidence in a real-world setting… And the scientists found that the filters don’t only protect against SARS-CoV-2… When the filters were switched off, the air in both wards contained detectable amounts of other pathogens that cause infections in hospitals, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Streptococcus pyogenes. The filters largely removed them.” This study was carried out in a hospital but I think the results would also suggest that Hepa filters would be beneficial in other enclosed public spaces as well, including classrooms, restaurants, and theaters. And since the potable Hepa filters remove SARS-/Cov-2 from the hospital air extremely efficiently, I see no reason why it might not also remove [some] cold and flu viruses as well.

    Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    Supply Chain: ‘Ryan Petersen on How Global Supply Chains Have Gotten Even Worse” (podcast) [Odd Lots]. “We’ve been covering global supply chain pressures almost since the beginning of the year on Odd Lots. And with each episode the question is “ok, so when will things normalize?” But basically, not only have things not normalized, things have gotten much worse. So why can’t the system stabilize?”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The system has relied upon increasing complexity, while the shortages rely upon simplicity in simply not being there.

    Reply
    1. cnchal

      Funny to learn those ships at anchor are not anywhere near capacity and the containers on them are only 70% full which amplifies congestion at the port and loses efficiency when crossing the ocean. I am smiling at the stupidity of it all. Watching the explainer on the MSM tonight made me laugh out loud.

      Why is this happening? Five gruff looking guys explain it’s like a traffic jam. What’s on the ships? Crapola I yelled at the TeeVee. Toilet paper and stuff says a gruff looking guy. Stuff like garden furniture, anything you can think of is on them ships. they nod.

      A quick segue to a warehouse. By when does this stuff have to get off the boats to make it to a store for the holidays? It should have been off a month ago. Fade to black.

      Reply
  3. Samuel Conner

    Re: the “The Seneca Effect Article” on government expropriation of vulnerable wealthy targets:

    The premise of the article’s comparison of history to the present is the notion that the government needs to find its operating funds from some source other than its own power to create money. It appears to me that every historical example cited is of a government that was revenue constrained by non-fiat currency. That’s a pretty glaring mismatch to the current situation.

    There may be pitchforks in the future, but won’t be because the government needs to take money from the elites in order to operate.

    Reply
    1. MK

      Agreed – I see the exact opposite. Think of Wiemar Germany and folks using wheelbarrows to transport their cash around. It won’t get to that since we use so much ‘digital’ money. Physical banknotes or not, when gas is $15 per gallon we’ll be at the functional equivalent of wheelbarrows full of cash. We are always 3 days or so of missed meals from anarchy . . .

      Reply
      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        “We are always 3 days or so of missed meals from anarchy . . .”

        Sounds like a new doomsday clock.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          As one who has missed a day or three of meals, it is the prospect of not knowing, if it will continue or not. People can take a lot more than they know if they believe it will come to an end preferably with some specificity.

          But then, since currant American governance is more about theater than actually solving problems, why would Americans believe any statements about the future from them? Maybe it would only take a few miss meals for mere anarchy to be let loose.

          That is disquieting.

          Reply
      2. Milton

        With a fixed rate mortgage I’d love to be able to wheel a load of milDollars to the bank and pay off my loan(s)

        Reply
    2. jsn

      But our pampered Generals just may be ignorant and ill informed enough to think it!

      Hopefully someone at DIA will give them a copy of “Super Imperialism”.

      Reply
    3. megrim

      We don’t need to tax the rich to fund the government, no. But we might need to tax the rich to make the government operate for anyone but the rich. Their vote-dollars are skewing pretty much everything around here. I realize there is a catch-22 in this.

      Reply
    4. Tom Stone

      Taking money from the wealthy, prominent and vulnerable is fun!
      Seriously, people who have power need more and they all enjoy abusing it…
      We have $4 Billion a year in civil asset forfeiture already, those funds enhance the budgets of Law enforcement…
      Budgets, it’s why we got WACO ( ATF budget) and I’m sure that there’s a Federal agency out there happy to enforce asset forfeiture based on bad thoughts.
      For a percentage because that’s how things work..

      Reply
    5. ObjectiveFunction

      From the Comments section of Ugo Bardi’s latest:

      We have been a century or so in the spell of “Production” as the foundational meaning of life. Make stuff. Buy stuff. Consumerism. Factory-centered ideals in both communism, socialism and capitalism. This is an ideology where there is no room for “unproductive” old people.

      This is very much different from the ethos of “Reproduction”…. In the agrarian society from a century ago, the focus was on reproducing the farm. The family. The animals. The traditions. The songs. In this context, the most valuable people are the storytellers. The people who remember the heavy flood of five decades ago…. The old people didn’t eat so much and were taking care of the kids….

      Of course the old people did not accumulate their wealth as separate from the farm and the family in those days. The wealth was the land and the infrastructure that was built over generations. Now it is a different story, where most of the wealth of seniors is inaccessible to the younger generations.

      …. of course reproduction -> overpopulation and overtaxing of the resource base, which in turn -> shift to ‘production’ to increase yields -> energy consumption -> [whole bunch of other stuff, do I really need to recite it] -> Jackpot!!!!!

      Reply
  4. zagonostra

    Amount of money spent by Russian Troll Farms to influence election that caused a 4 year witch hunt – $4,700, amount of money spent by Zukerberg to influence elections that installed Biden into the WH, $419,500,000.

    “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye”

    Two nonprofits funded by Mark Zuckerberg and his allies spent $419.5 million to boost turnout in the 2020 presidential election – and “likely” secured a victory for Joe Biden, according to a study of the national vote.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/537450-private-money-2020-election/

    Using accounts believed to be connected to the Russian government, the agents purchased $4,700 worth of search ads and more traditional display ads, according to a person familiar with the company’s inquiry who was not allowed to speak about it publicly.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/09/technology/google-russian-ads.html

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      Zuckerberg got snookered. A half billion dollars to deliver 81 million votes for Hunter’s dad? Against the most hated man in America? LOL I gotta get myself a grift in time for 2024. There’s millions just sitting in the streets.

      Reply
  5. jr

    Great article from “White Hot Harlots”, really hit the nail. The Hamptons are not a defensible position and neither are the silos the $hit-libs inhabit. They will cling to their illusions until the bitter end because it’s all they will have left.
    The crumbling world around them and their own baked-in precarity they spend sooo much time and money trying to deny have doomed them.

    I am ready for about a three month collapse of some kind. No one else I know is. If they think losing reproductive rights is bad, wait till there isn’t any water for a week or so and the shelves are bare. It’s not going to be pretty, that’s for sure.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If there are breadlines and water lines, I would make sure to show up in them so nobody notices my absence from them and begins to wonder whether I have my own bread and water at home.

      You wouldn’t want a thirsty starving mob of hundreds or thousands to pay you a visit and ask: ” Why don’t we see you in the breadline or the soup line or the water line?”

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        In the past, home “visits” also happened to make sure that your were not hiding any food in your home if it seemed that your were struggling less than others.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If you are baseline healthy enough to get 40-50 pounds overweight without triggering near-term
          diseases, it might be wise to do so, so that if/when breadlines come, you have weight to lose and can be seen losing it in public view so that it does not occur to anyone to come visit you to see why you are ” not doing as badly as the people getting thinner”. Because you too will be getting thinner.

          Reply
    2. jr

      Thanks guys, that all makes a lot of sense. I’ve got the means to hide my water storage and I plan on limiting my cooking to small meals that just need to be heated up to avoid the odors traveling too far but every little bit will help. I’d like to be more neighborly about it but I know for a fact that no one for a wide mile around me is doing any prepping, either materially or emotionally. They aren’t prepared for a small, localized collapse let alone the power grid going down for a few weeks or something.

      I’m prepping for my household with extra for my girlfriend’s twenty-something work buddy whose family is in Texas. She has no one at all to turn to around here and I’ll be damned if that kid gets hurt.

      Talking about prepping, there has been an interesting dynamic going on in some of the Youtube prepper video comment sections. I’ve been following them for about a year and what I’m seeing is that a lot of the “bunker-down” AR-15 wielding types in rural America are bumping heads with an influx of new voices into the conversations. People of all different persuasions are watching the videos and commenting. A lot of the conflict is of course over politics, not so much liberal v. conservative but more conservative/libertarian v. people who know that the political game is rigged. Someone will post something about being taxed to death by the Democrats and instead of a chorus of $hit-libs chiming in, you get a lot of voices and thumbs-up pointing out that no one on Team Purple is your friend.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The non-preppers in your area will probably have more guns and ammo than you will ever have.
        Is it possible to make a low-profile ” safe fortress” unobtrusively inside your house or basement or something with 2-3 foot thick re-inforced concrete walls etc., which the hungry hordes will not be able to chop or blast their way into even with all the guns in the county? And would there be a way to keep it unseen and unguessed-at?

        Impenetrability plus invisibility plus not-even-being-suspected might be 3 keys in combination to survival in a square mile full of armed non-preppers. And make sure your air vents are utterly invisible and utterly un-findable by anyone on the outside.

        Reply
        1. jr

          I’m an apartment dweller so I cannot do anything major to the structure although I have some smaller projects in mind in regards to security. I’m a Brooklynite, I doubt my immediate PMC neighbors are armed to the teeth but some of the surrounding neighborhoods are for sure.

          I will have to play the Gray Man. All my preps are intentionally low profile: heat n’ eat meals, water storage in what looks like junk containers, a tiny rocket stove that could be used indoors if necessary. I tend to dress down, no flashy clothing or blingy sneakers to attract attention. A small solar panel to charge phones and flashlights and a hand crank radio/charger/flashlight in case the electricity goes down.

          Thanks for the comments DW, I value your insights.

          Reply
  6. Dr. John Carpenter

    I meant to thank lyman alpha blob for that White Hot Harlots link this morning. I am glad to see it get some more attention.

    Reply
  7. Thistlebreath

    Thanks for publishing the wastewater stats. Hopefully those will become part of your chart panel.

    Feces non mentior.

    Reply
  8. Quanka

    Bezzle scam pretending to be sheriff departments also targeting mental health providers (family members are therapists and both have been targeted in last 6 months).

    Reply
    1. Daryl

      Seems like a surprisingly dangerous scam, if, as this twitter thread seems to be implying, you meet them in person. For both parties.

      Reply
  9. Josef K

    This talk about killing the rich is disturbing; we should focus instead on how To Serve the Rich. Waste not, want not.

    Reply
    1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

      Yes, plenty of good eating available. if one wishes ‘to serve man’.

      “Human Flesh Looks Like Beef, But the Taste Is More Elusive: It’s like pork. Or maybe veal”

      https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/human-flesh-looks-beef-taste-more-elusive-180949562/

      “Cannibalism is far more common in the animal world than we thought”

      https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/cannibalism-is-far-more-common-in-the-animal-world-than-we-thought-20170131-gu2mk7.html

      “From kings to commoners, Europeans, too, once routinely consumed human blood, bones, skin, guts and body parts. They did it without guilt, a form of medicinal cannibalism. They did it for hundreds of years, and then they made believe it never happened. Throughout their long history, body parts were such important ingredients in Chinese culinary cannibalism that the historian and author Key Ray Chong devoted a 13-page chapter in his book Cannibalism in China to “Methods of Cooking Human Flesh”. Rather than an emergency ration consumed as a last resort, there are many reports that exotic human-based dishes were prepared for Chinese royalty and upper-class citizens.”

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      I would rather make the rich poor and make them wash dishes. I would rather see them live, suffer and cry.

      Reply
  10. PKMKII

    I have seen some dumb, bezzle-tastic tech startups, but this has to be the mind-bogglingly horrible startup I have ever seen:

    The main idea behind the site, called “Skip the Interview,” was to partner with companies who would set sponsorship amounts for job postings. The job-seeker would then ask current or former coworkers to contribute to this sponsorship fund, controlled by Skip The Interview. The first person to raise the funds gets the job.

    The founder even had the chutzpah to suggest that this would be less discriminatory than traditional interview process.

    Reply
  11. Michael Hudson

    Well, Lambert, re your observation that If your model is the current Democrat leadership built the party for maximum fundraising and minimum governance, the DSCC and Schumer’s choice of Sinema, and support for her campaign, was a feature, not a bug.

    This is a time honored policy. The Roman Empire administered its collection of tribute by posting its various fiscal offices for sale. A typical price list is provided by Ramsey MacMullen (1988), Corruption and the Decline of Rome (New Haven): 124-170,. Yes, this fostered venality, but the salaries of the collectors were effectively based on commission: they officials obtaining Roman backing for their offices earned whatever they could get after paying the imperial treasury.
    Why don’t the Squad make this the focus of their complaints about Sinema etc.? Will AOC give half of what she raises to the DNC to distribute to Manchin etc.?

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      Why does everyone assume that Chuck Schumer is somehow devious when the most likely answer is that he is incompetent? He birthed Sinema and now he is going through post-partum depression.

      Reply
    2. JBird4049

      IIRC, the Roman tax collectors managed to start more than a few rebellions because of their efforts costing the lives of more than a few legionaries. Like with much of modern American policing, the goal was to get, or really, to steal, all the money they could, not in determining the proper tax or in enforcing the law.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        The Roman Emperors were aware of this and after some tax collectors were, ahem, too enthusiastic about collecting them, Emperor Tiberius dressed them down and said “It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them.” They recognized that impoverishing a Province through excessive taxation could lead to a revolt that would cost more to put down than the extra taxes collected would compensate for.

        Reply
  12. rjs

    just an anecdote: local TV news is reporting on a job fair in Cleveland hosted by 29 area businesses ready to hire…but just 25 people showed up, and they closed early..

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      It would be lovely to think that all these Americans who’ve left their crummy jobs and are refusing to show up for new crummy jobs are quietly, very quietly, using their new-found time now to organize a big surprise for us all — something, perhaps, that would put Jan. 6 in the shade.

      Reply
  13. Jason Boxman

    Just to put Manchin’s income in perspective, if somehow a working class individual managed to save or acquire 500k, if you could earn a yield of 495 basis points, your annual income would be only $25k. Mere mortals could never acquire 5m worth of shares of a company. That’s some serious wealth. Whatever he might profess, this guy certainly doesn’t having working class W. Virginians in mind when legislating.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      So I am beginning to learn a little more about just exactly how and where in the coal sector Manchin gets money. Apparently from a company which gets “waste coal” ( whatever that is) and sells it to West Virginai-based utilities for their power plants. As poor-ish as a lot of people in West Virginia are, I don’t know how much less electricity they could use than what they are already using. But if a serious good-results-getter organization or movement were to assist those West Virginians who might want to up-insulate their houses, up-efficientize their appliances/lights/etc., would enough West Virginians want such help that the reduction in electricity use would translate into a reduction in the utility’s purchase of Manchin’s waste coal? Could such long-term revenge be taken or even realistically entertained?

      The goal would be to ” make the whole Manchin family pay” as an example to the next Class Enemy wannabe Senator.

      Reply
  14. John

    Seems to me the Democratic Party is a collection of semi-independent entities who are kinda sorts maybe on the same page every now and then. It reminds me of Nationalist China in the 20s and 30s. You had a president of the republic who claimed to preside over the entire country, but his writ ran as far as his troops could march. Then there were the warlords who thought a moment and said, “Okay, you can be president.” and paid no more attention to him. Remember what happened to that outfit during the 1946-1949 civil war? I can’t come up with the equivalent of Taiwan as a refuge.

    The democrats could really use a leader or two and a program that was tailored to appeal to the someone other than the in-group.

    Reply
    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “I can’t come up with the equivalent of Taiwan as a refuge.”

      Martha’s Vineyard. It might get a little crowded.

      Your point about China in the 20s and 30s is a good one. I’ve been looking at the Biden administration as akin to the weak Spanish Republic in the lead-up to the civil war. One interesting thing to remember about that situation is that the fascist side of the revolution began in military bases outside of continental Spain.

      Reply
    2. albrt

      The democrat party has a platform. I agree with most of it.

      The interesting thing is that the entire party leadership is 100% dedicated to making sure the platform never gets enacted. So the democrats really have very few disagreements. They agree on what they should say they are going to do, and they agree that they are never actually going to do what they said they were going to do.

      Sinema and Manchin just drew the short straw, taking the blame for the fundamental corruption of the democrat party.

      Reply
  15. John

    …and another thing. Seems no one even bothers to conceal the grift anymore. After all, doesn’t everyone skate along the line, step over once in a while with a wink and a nod?

    Whatever happened to “…promote the general welfare?”

    Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘DEMS:

    No minimum wage hike
    No filibuster reform
    No court expansion
    No medicare for all
    etc.

    ALSO DEMS:

    Why are polls turning against us?’

    So this guy on Twitter put up a chart of Biden’s promises to good effect-

    https://twitter.com/Gritty20202/status/1446520984559919111

    It’s all like that Politico article where ‘The result was a Covid relief package that included direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, $300 per week in unemployment insurance supplements, and an expansion of the child tax credit for a year. Nine months later, whatever political benefits were supposed to accrue from that package have seemingly faded.’

    People remember that it was $2,000 that was actually promised and old Joe reneged right on day one by taking out a $600 Trump payment. The unemployment insurance supplements is only a temporary band-aid on a sucking chest wound while the child tax credit is also a one-off measure for a few with a means testing being put in. In short, instead of using the pandemic to bring in vitally needed reforms into America, the Democrats (and the Republicans) are throwing out pocket-change and then spending even more to advertise what they did. Meanwhile the stress factors in American life are really starting to play out but nothing is being done to meet the new challenges.

    Reply
  17. Cocomaan

    “Indigenous knowledge and the myth of ‘wilderness’” [Phys.org].

    I’ve lived next to state park land now for a decade. Good piece, because I identify with this indigenous POV: these are woods, but not wilderness to me. I know where the elderberries and blackberries grow. I know where to find deer and squirrel. It’s a resource to me, a place a love, but also a place I love to survive on.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Our local state park used to allow an annual deer hunt for bowhunters. You could say this is returning the hunter gatherer spirit by bringing in meat hunters to cull the always expanding deer population.

      Except those hunters were more likely to set up a bait station using deer corn from the local Walmart than to go stalking through the underbrush. And even on native reservations it’s likely that many of the inhabitants would prefer jobs at the local casino to returning to living off the land. In the AZ Navaho reservation there’s an employment crisis following the closure of their giant coal fired power plant that would send electricity to the rest of the state (and smog across the Grand Canyon).

      We live in a different world now and a tourist version of wilderness may be the best we can hope for. Our state park has given up on the bowhunts in favor of horse shows.

      Reply
  18. Sub-Boreal

    Re: Indigenous knowledge and the myth of ‘wilderness’

    Thanks for flagging this. It points us to what seems to be an emerging big debate involving more than it appears at first glance. And probably yet another one which is almost impossible to do with the degree of nuance that it deserves. As a soil scientist, not a social scientist, I’m definitely skating outside my lane on this, but that’s never stopped me!

    I’ve been really interested in watching the idea of the “Anthropocene” geological time unit catch hold and spread virally through a whole bunch of fields. One of the schools of thought on this, which calls itself “ecomodernist”, feels that the arrival of a geological time unit marked by human domination of the Earth is just hunky-dory, and is something to celebrate. And so it gladdens their hearts to hear from archaeologists that traces of past human land use are ubiquitous. See, say the ecomods, the planet is completely domesticated, so would the advocates of wilderness protection please just buzz off. And, adding a layer of wokeness, they can also point to how this reinforces the unappreciated value of the indigenous cultures, both ancient and recent, which were responsible for these imprints. And the latter is a perfectly fair comment, but potentially that’s not where it ends.

    Except – and hear me out – wouldn’t it be just soooo convenient for Exxon, the Koch Bros. et al. to have a way of intersectionally squashing the annoying efforts of those who don’t want every hectare logged, drilled, or mined. Just saying.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Southwestern-based ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan has been studying and thinking about these things for some decades. Here is a review of a book of his on an aspect of this subject.
      https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/97/11/30/reviews/971130.30dowiet.html

      He has written many books, articles, etc. But today’s search obstruction engines make finding any one thing so difficult that I don’t have time to be able to find anything more just now.

      I suspect Nabhan might be suspicious and alert to just the negative intersectionality that Exxon, KochCo Incorporated, etc. might try to find and exploit, and he would try finding ways to oppose it.

      Reply
  19. Raymond Sim

    An analysis of, among other things, the effects of previous exposure in the recent wave of Covid in Delhi:

    https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abj9932

    If you are looking forward to herd immunity via natural infection, or some sort of non-hellish endemicity please read this. If you still think your views are consistent with observed reality then please give me the benefit of your reasoning. Your own reasoning, in your own words if you would be so kind.

    Reply
  20. Tom Stone

    Political vacuums get filled.
    And that’s what we have, failed systems pretty much across the board.
    Remember the “French Laundry” scandal?
    Newsome was talking about single payer for all Californians until he was elected.
    Look at who the Birthday boy was, and who sat on either side of Newsome.
    The grift is too overt, at the National level as well.
    Piss away legitimacy and abandon the Rule of Law and things go to shit.
    All the rulers have left is coercion and that does not make for a safe or happy society, it’s lose/lose.
    For every one.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      It seems to me the Rule of Law was visibly abandoned under Reagan. When Iran/Contra was revealed, the media got together and decided another Watergate would be “too much for the American people to stand.” Like Afghanistan under Petraeus, they just decided to accomodate the crooks and pretend they weren’t robbing us. They’ve been doing it ever since. “A lot of what they did wasn’t illegal.”

      Reply
  21. Wukchumni

    Wild scenes inside a Kmart store filmed moments after NSW reopened following 15 weeks of lockdown have angered social media users.

    Footage showing the inside of the budget retailer’s Mt Druitt store just after midnight shows huge crowds filling their trolleys, rushing to grab items and lining up to pay.

    Another clip shared before the store opened its doors revealed mammoth lines snaking outside the entrance as people braved miserable weather to queue outside stores after lockdown restrictions lifted at midnight this morning.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/covid-19-coronavirus-nsw-kmart-store-fills-moment-afters-re-opening/CKB4GIRLMKDHBKI7JKTBDPCIYQ/

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That was nuts and I couldn’t believe that when I saw it. Wanna know what is more nuts? Gladys’s replacement as Premier of NSW has just announced that so long as they have been double-vaxxed, that overseas travelers can now fly into Sydney from November 1st and will not be required to quarantine at all. He said-

      “We can’t live here in a hermit kingdom. We’ve got to open up, and this decision today is a big one, but it is the right one to get NSW connected globally” and “For double vaccinated people around the world, Sydney, New South Wales is open for business.”

      https://www.sbs.com.au/news/nsw-to-scrap-quarantine-for-fully-vaccinated-arrivals-from-1-november/9df7524f-2d4a-4660-9b31-a57d8a45d856

      By my count, about 600 people have been killed by this virus since Gladys decided to let ‘er rip. We are going to end up with quite the butcher’s bill here.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the lines were peaceful and the shoppers were non-violent and not fighting over stuff and all waiting their turn, then what were the social media users upset about?

      Reply
  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘These are not the progressives that you are looking for.’

    So Ilhan Omar was revealing in an interview that one of her role models is, wait for it, Margaret Thatcher. Yeah, I get that she admired her growing up as one of the few female leaders internationally recognized but Omar is nearly forty years old now and must know what Thatcher was really all about by now-

    https://twitter.com/itvpeston/status/1448389349976981511

    When Thatcher’s coffin was going down the road and the crowds were singing “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead”, it was not because she was a woman. It was because she had caused so much devastation in her own country.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      In the Mike Leigh movie High Hopes the hipster couple name their cactus Thatcher “because it’s such a pain in the arse.”

      Reply
    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Ahh, you’ve finally cracked it: Ilhan Omar is a Thatcherite. You should’ve told Trump, though. He sure did waste a lot of energy on her.

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So Ilhan Omar was revealing in an interview that one of her role models is, wait for it, Margaret Thatcher.

      Yes, as she says, because Thatcher was the only woman who came to politics on her own, and not because of her relation with some man. I really don’t see the implicit demand for ritual denunciation as appropriate; who would you have her choose as a role model? I doubt very much Joan of Arc is featured in Somali children’s textbooks.

      Thatcher had miserable, evil politics. But as a professional politician, she had a spine of steel. We could use more women — and men — with that personal characteristic in the Democrat Party. Not for nothing did they call Thatcher the “Iron Lady”:

      Abhorrent politics. But holy moley, that shark-like smile as she goes in for the kill! I’d like to see a little of that from Jayapal!

      Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      According to the Reddit comments, it’s Grasshopper Farms growing cannibis in Brighton, Michigan (outside Ann Arbor).

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Based on your reply, I took another look at the picture and realize that , yes, it is probably for marijuana and not for seeds/oil/fiber.

        Reply
  23. Jason Boxman

    Because liberals Democrats can never, ever expand the electorate. That might lead to pressure to pass legislation that donors don’t like, so:

    “It’s really hard to remake the electorate, but if you can provide clear benefits to Republican parents, then you can pick off maybe not the module Republican parent, but the marginal one. And if you can pick up the marginal ones, then you can maybe win the next election and that solidifies it even further.”

    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/10/11/democrats-cash-success-covid-relief-515765

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      “It’s really hard to expand the Elect” Well, yes it is, when people aren’t interested in selling out buying in to an Order of society still stuck in a mindset of a life-cycle-based class system to apportion its guard labor.

      Reply
  24. VietnamVet

    Global stilling – the reduced measurable wind speeds across the world’s continents is the latest harbinger of climate change. In North America right now, the West is cold, the East warm. It is blamed in Europe for the decline in wind generated electricity. This led to the sharp rise in price in the EU’s natural gas spot market to replace the lost energy. But with corporations in charge, instead of regulating energy production and planning to avoid blackouts and exorbitant electric bills, Russia is blamed. Winter with real shortages, blackouts, and more Texas Freezes is just over the horizon. Buy blankets now before they are gone. Just like the coronavirus pandemic debacle, only a functional government by taxing, regulation and jailing can force the oligarchy to do the public good.

    Reply
  25. m sam

    White Hot Harlots: jeez, I know the Democrats are lead by buffoons, but is that worse than this Texas abortion law? I mean, no, right off the bat. The answer is no. The “Democrats” pro-choice majority part of this country hasn’t given up, the law’s provisions haven’t been tested in court, and that is not a zero-percent chance, as the phrase, “the Democrats lost” (however misdirected the extreme anger may be on this issue) seems to say.

    Sometimes the anger, however justified, directed towards Democrats seems to get so intense that it dissolves any values people have over what direction this country should take (“forget about choice ‘cuz democratz”). I mean, where these values dissolve in such hatred is frankly nothing but nihilism.

    Here’s the thing: I just don’t see how the Democrats are worth it. I mean really, give up now on abortion choice? Is this the “winning” message from “those really in the know?” I mean, sorry, You’ve already reached the dead end. The phoenix has no possibility of rising from the ashes here, over this imbecilic category error. And because of that, f[family blog]-off.

    Reply
        1. Late Introvert

          I registered as a Green after the Iowa Cauc-up of 2019, which I attended. Never again will the Dem-rats soil my name.

          Reply
  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    Given that, it probably is “marijuana” cannabis.

    I took a second look at the picture in light of your reply. I notice things now that I “saw without seeing”.
    The sheer size made it look industrial. But the way every plant is spaced out and the soil covered with probably-expensive weedblocker landscape fabric of some kind indicates the kind of care per plant that would not be taken for industrial seed/oil/fiber hemp. Also, industrial hemp would be planted much closer together, especially if it was for fiber, because for fiber they would want the plants to grow as tall as possible for the longest possible fibers. Whereas these plants have been given room to stay short and grow wide into bushes covered with buds.

    So I will change my guess to . . . .its for marijuana. If someone who really knows wants to say, that would be nice.

    ( This is in reply to Left in Wisconsin in case it does not nest right).

    Reply
  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    There is a talking-head you tube video maker I watch called Beau of the Fifth Column. He appears to be a non-nasty level-headed lefto-anarchist based in Florida. This video could be used to make the argument for ” who has time to waste on videos when one could read the transcript in 10% of the time?”

    The problem is, is that there is no transcript and there will be no transcript. Mr. Beau has other things to do than transcribe his talks and no devoted fan is doing it. So I can understand people saying ” if it is not important enough for someone to transcribe it for speed-reading, it is not important enough for me to see it and hear it.” And that could well be true, or not . . . . depending on if the talking head’s talked-transmitted material and information is important and useful, or not.

    For myself, I have decided that 5 or so minutes is not too long to spend see-hearing one of these videos if its title indicates it it something I might be interested in. His second-latest video talk addresses Trump’s message to the Republicans to don’t vote unless the “election fraud” problem is “solved”. I have see-heard about a minute into the video and so far Beau theorises that Trump is addressing the Trumpublican voters and the Republican politicians separately. And he is sending the message to the Republican politicians that unless they support Trump’s ongoing big lie information-operation campaign, he will instruct his voters not to vote for any of them. In short, he is extorting their support for his ongoing anti-governance sedition campaign.

    Based on just that, I would suggest this video could be worth enduring for 5 whole minutes because no one in print will address the Trump extortion announcement with any seriousness. For those who want to take a chance, here is the link.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xs4ikEXQbo

    Reply
    1. BillC

      Thank you, Drumlin. I check out Beau from time to time … when I remember to. And I generally conclude, “I ought to follow Beau more carefully.” He ponders things that others just mention in passing, if at all. His take is usually thought-provoking and seems reasonable — and he never takes more than 5 minutes of your time.

      Reply
  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Brewery owner aims for class action lawsuit against all Wisconsin school districts not requiring masks ”

    The article explains why. Perhaps this court case will go somewhere and force a courtroom-quality airing of just how much masking does or does not slow the spread of covid among close-packed kids in school settings and perhaps will separate data-supported facts from random opinions.

    Or perhaps it will be pre-thrown-out before it gets anywhere at all.

    Either way, here is the link.
    https://www.wuwm.com/2021-10-14/brewery-owner-aims-for-class-action-lawsuit-against-all-wisconsin-school-districts-not-requiring-masks

    Reply
  29. Lambert Strether Post author

    In response to jo6pac’s comment link to Pelosi and insider trading, which I leave here because I cannot find it backstage in a timely manner:

    > Follow nancy p. and husband stock picks and become rich.

    That is indeed the business model of the Unusual Whales site, both for politicians and other insiders with clout:

    I don’t play the ponies, let alone day trade (yikes) so I can’t recommend the site other than as an object of interest….

    Reply

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