2:00PM Water Cooler 10/28/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

No UPDATEs today. This is the lot! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Hawk-Cuckoo sounds like a contradiction in terms. Where is the Eagle-Pigeon?

* * *


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. Hopefully I will have a variant tracker map soon. In the meantime, I added excess deaths.

Vaccination by region:

Bubba doing their part. 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.)

57.5% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Turkey, and just above the Czech Republic in the Financial Times league tables of this Monday). Same as yesterday. 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:

Downward trend resumes. Levels that once were a crisis is now not newsworthy (presumably because hospitals are not overwhelmed, normal medical billing is about to resume, etc.).

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?

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.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Seems like a sine-wave pattern on the right. Why?

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 25, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Arizona improves. Trouble spots in the West. Upper Midwest improved. Weird flare-ups, like flying coals in a forest fire. They land, catch, but — one hopes — sputter out.

Speculating freely: One thing to 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.)

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Finally some relief for the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, although I don’t understand why they they have the bad luck to be so stubbornly still red.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 761,949 760,080. Going down again, mercifully. We had approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid). This seems not to be updating:

So how long does it take before 10% “excess” deaths becomes the new normal?

(Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. 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, with additions from the Brain Trust:

Look at Chile go! Also Portugal, oddly, which lifted restrictions about a month ago. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *


“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 Mice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Capitol Seizure

“The Department of Justice Is Letting the Coup Plotters Get Away” [The Nation]. “The Department of Justice should be leading the criminal investigation into the attack on the Capitol. That is the entity that can not merely catalog but actually punish the insurrectionists. Congress’s role is oversight and lawmaking. It is therefore entirely appropriate for its members, through the Select Committee, to subpoena documents and testimony to try to understand what happened. That helps them serve their function of proposing and passing new laws so that it can’t happen again. But accountability for any crimes that happened that day is a different matter. So is any investigation into the larger criminal conspiracy that came to fruition that day. Both are supposed to come through Justice and its subordinate investigations division, the FBI. The problem is, Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray don’t seem to have the stomach for all that. Oh sure, they’ll go after the small people. They’ll prosecute the dude with the horns and charge the guy with the cattle prod. But when it comes time to prosecute the powerful—the congresspeople and the financiers who aided and abetted the insurrection—Garland and Wray have shown no desire to take on that challenge.” • Well, institutionally the people who should be prosecuting (Justice) are not, while the people who should not be prosecuting (Congress; see under Joe McCarthy) are not. The Cossacks, Wray and Garland — if I may so denominate ectoplasmic Attorney General Garland — work for the Czar (Biden, properly denominated). So Biden doesn’t want crimes prosecuted, why? (1) Perhaps the crimes are nothing-burgers, despite liberal aghastitude. After all, the only person to get whacked was one of the criminals. (2) Perhaps Biden doesn’t want to offend the other side of the aisle. (3) Perhaps both Wray and Biden want to keep a lit on the involvement of FBI informers — or agent provocaters, where the FBI has form.

Biden Administration

“Joe’s potty mouth” [Politico]. “Behind closed doors, the former Catholic school boy is quite profane, according to several current and former aides. ‘When he gets going he definitely gets going,’ said one White House official. In meetings with aides, Biden’s vulgarities include but are not limited too: ‘Fuck them,’ ‘What the fuck are we doing?’ ‘Why the fuck isn’t this happening?’ ‘bullshit,’ ‘dammit,’ or just simply: ‘fuck,’ according to several current and former aides. When pushing aides for better answers, he will sometimes say, ‘don’t bullshit a bullshitter.'” • Indeed–

“What’s in and what’s out of the Biden framework” [The Hill]. “WHAT’S OUT: Drug pricing, Medicare for dental and vision, Billionaire tax, Paid family leave, Clean Electricity Performance Program, and Free community college.” • It’s important that the working class have bad teeth. It’s also important that they don’t get educated, and get ideas above their station. Very clarifying.

“Fractious Dems struggle to unite around $1.75T megabill” [Politico]. “Soon after the White House outlined a framework for a $1.75 trillion deal on social spending, Biden made a high-stakes appearance on Capitol Hill to sell Pelosi’s caucus on it. While some liberal priorities were included in the package of climate, health care and other social policy investments, others were scrapped — and multiple House progressives said they’re not prepared to vote yes on infrastructure given their uncertainty about the framework’s Senate future. The Congressional Progressive Caucus held its own meeting after Biden left, as its chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) signaled her group still had significant concerns after the president’s pitch for its votes. One of her members, Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), said simply “no” when asked if she would vote for the infrastructure bill after the president’s push. Another, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) answered ‘hell no’ on the infrastructure question. ‘There are too many no votes’ in the progressive camp, Jayapal told reporters Thursday afternoon, to pass the infrastructure bill on Thursday.” • $1.75T above Manchin’s $1.5T is a kick in the teeth for “progressives”/”the left” and indicates no real pressure was brought to bear on the moderates; that indicates to me that Manchin’s number was what Biden always had in mind. As in Nevada (where the regulars gave the budget to the DCCC when the DSA took over the state party) or Buffalo (where the regular Mayor, defeated by a socialist, is running a write-in campaign with the full support of the party apparatus) liberal Democrats, gelatinous everywhere else, have spines of steel when it comes to seeing off “the left.” Since the end-game for them can only be to break the House Progressive Caucus with the floor vote, Jayapal and crew had better understand that it’s “hang together, or hang separately.” So much for the FDR talk, mercifully, but at least we have clarity now.

Half the Progressive Caucus would be an excellent number, if true. Bribery and deference is for the likes of Manchin and Sinema; I assume “progressives” are now being threatened:

In a sane world, a perfectly reasonable demand:

It’s gonna get ugly:

Big test for AOC here, BTW.

“Sanders signals House should hold off on infrastructure vote” [The Hill]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday said he’s not prepared to support a stripped-down $1.75 billion framework unveiled earlier in the day by the White House, and signaled that progressives in the House should hold off on voting for a separate infrastructure measure. Sanders argued that House progressives shouldn’t send the bipartisan infrastructure bill to President Biden’s desk until they know that all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus support the reconciliation package. ‘Before there is a vote in the House on the infrastructure bill, the members of the House have a right to know that 50 U.S. senators are supporting a strong reconciliation bill,’ he said.” • A bill that must pass through Sanders committee.

* * *

“Fact Sheet: National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality” [Whitehouse.gov]. “[T]he Biden-Harris Administration established the White House Gender Policy Council, charged with leading the development of the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which sets forth an aspirational vision and a comprehensive agenda to advance gender equity and equality in domestic and foreign policy—and demonstrates that families, communities, and nations around the world stand to benefit. The strategy identifies ten interconnected priorities: 1) economic security; 2) gender-based violence; 3) health; 4) education; 5) justice and immigration; 6) human rights and equality under the law; 7) security and humanitarian relief; 8) climate change; 9) science and technology; and 10) democracy, participation, and leadership. These priorities are inherently linked and must be tackled in concert.” • Of course, if you look at the reconciliation bill, you’ll see that the Biden administration is giving mere lip service to all of these priorities (except perhaps for science).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Unions Take Center Stage In Buffalo Mayor’s Race” [HuffPost]. “Aside from elected officials, a spoken-word poet, and a former candidate for governor, the only speakers at Democratic mayoral nominee India Walton’s mayoral campaign rally in downtown Buffalo, New York, on Saturday were labor union officials and activists. Walton’s message was clear: As the only unabashed critic of corporate power at City Hall in the running for the top job, she was the true ally of organized labor in the Nov. 2 election. ‘This is our city. We are the workers. We do the work,’ declared Walton, a registered nurse and former union member. ‘We are sick and tired of those that have the most always getting everything.’ A few hours later, Mayor Byron Brown, a moderate who lost to Walton in the Democratic primary in June and is running a well-funded write-in campaign against her, laid his claim to the union mantle. Blanked by union members atop the bed of a truck parked in a vacant lot on Buffalo’s East Side, Brown singled out organized labor for gratitude that he accorded to none of his other allies. ‘I want to thank organized labor that has stood so strong with me,’ he said, ticking off a list of union members’ contributions that included door knocking, phone calls and literature distribution on his behalf. The competition between Brown and Walton over who is a greater friend to organized labor is lopsided: The Western New York Area Labor Federation and the lion’s share of individual unions that have gotten in the race ― from unions representing city and state employees to manufacturing workers and building tradespeople ― are backing Brown. Still, a handful of more progressive unions’ decisions to get behind Walton, and her own forceful case that she would be a more pro-labor chief executive, speak to a divide within the labor movement that has echoes in elections across the country.” • Ka-ching.

Incumbent Mayor and primary loser Brown is running an exceptionally well-funded write-in campaign:


I’m only surprised Clyburn hasn’t shown up yet.

“India Walton under fire after explicit Facebook comment against Buffalo Common Councilmember” [WIVB]. ” India Walton’s fitness to serve as mayor of Buffalo is under fire after a comment she posted a year ago – an insult with racial overtone against a city councilman – resurfaced…. And I said I am not going to vote to defund the police because there’s a thin line between anarchy and civility,” Golombek said. And when the North District councilman posted his feelings on Facebook, India Walton responded with a potentially racially insensitive comment – ‘You don’t know what you are talking about tender *expletive* white man.’ The expletive referred to a man’s genitals.” • The aghastitude!

* * *

“Race-blind redistricting? Democrats incredulous at GOP maps” [Associated Press]. “The Republican-controlled legislature has complete control of redistricting; its maps cannot be vetoed by its Democratic governor. A federal court in 2016 found North Carolina Republicans improperly crammed Black voters into two congressional districts to dilute African American votes elsewhere. It ordered the map redrawn, and in a separate case another panel of judges found that dozens of state legislative districts were illegal racial gerrymanders as well. The updated congressional map was the basis of the 2019 Supreme Court case. But, barely two months later, a North Carolina state court found the GOP advantage in some of the redrawn state legislative maps still violated the state constitution. Based on this and other rulings, Republicans redrew the maps once again in late 2019, this time saying they weren’t looking at racial or partisan data, and they passed legal muster. Then, in August, the legislature formally adopted a rule that it wouldn’t consider race or partisanship in its latest line-drawing that would begin after the U.S. Census Bureau released data on population changes over the past decade. Lawmakers noted that, during the epic litigation of the prior decade, a federal court had found the state didn’t have racially polarized voting and didn’t require special attention to racial data. Democrats and civil rights groups strenuously objected.” • Tit for tat:

I would imagine the maps in New York and California are also being drawn to suit.

“Are Identity Politics Campaign Contributors Happy They Gave Big To Kyrsten Sinema?” [Down with Tyranny]. “You don’t always look for wisdom– not even political wisdom– by turning to members of Congress… except in a few cases. The other day I had a long chat about the bane of identity politics with one of those few cases. He told me about a former colleague, someone we both know, who was up for a job in the Biden administration. The guy– let’s call him Congressman X, since he’s no longer in Congress– was certainly qualified for the job, being one of the smartest and most ethical– and well-liked– members of Congress when he served. The current member told me that our friend had been recommended by several people close to Biden and that he received “an email from the transition with a form to complete. Almost the entire form was about demographics, and he’s a straight, cisgender, white, over-40, non-Hispanic male without any disabling condition, and he’s not the first in his family to attend college, although neither of his parents could afford to complete college. So he looked to the Biden people just like Tony Blinken, only Blinken’s father founded a private equity firm and has five Rothkos in his living room overlooking the East River and [Congressman X’s] father worked for the post office and died when he was 12. Anyway, he never heard back from them.”

“The Evangelical Church Is Breaking Apart” [The Atlantic]. “Bob Fryling, a former publisher of InterVarsity Press and the vice president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, an evangelical campus ministry, has been part of a weekly gathering of more than 150 individuals representing about 40 churches. He’s heard of conflicts ‘in almost every church’ and reports that pastors are exhausted. Earlier this year, the Christian polling firm Barna Group found that 29 percent of pastors said they had given ‘real, serious consideration to quitting being in full-time ministry within the last year.’ David Kinnaman, president of Barna, described the past year as a “crucible” for pastors as churches fragmented. The key issues in these conflicts are not doctrinal, Fryling told me, but political. They include the passions stirred up by the Trump presidency, the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and the January 6 insurrection; the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement, and critical race theory; and matters related to the pandemic, such as masking, vaccinations, and restrictions on in-person worship. I know of at least one large church in eastern Washington State, where I grew up, that has split over the refusal of some of its members to wear masks.”

“Is there a constitutional right to food? Mainers to decide” [Associated Press]. “For supporters, the language is short and to the point, ensuring the right to grow vegetables and raise livestock in an era when corporatization threatens local ownership of the food supply, a constitutional experiment that has never been tried in any state. For opponents and skeptics, it’s deceptively vague, representing a threat to food safety and animal welfare, and could embolden residents to raise cows in their backyards in cities like Portland and Bangor. In the Nov. 2 election, voters will be asked if they favor an amendment to the Maine Constitution ‘to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.” • And freedom from Oxford commas (yes, in the original).

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a fresh 19-month low of 281 thousand in the week ending October 23rd, as the labor market slowly recovers to its pre-pandemic normal amid a surge in demand for labor, the expiration of enhanced jobless benefits, and record levels of job openings and quits by employees. Still, the number of new filings remained well above the 212 thousand figure seen back in early March 2020, just before the COVID-19 crisis hit the US economy.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” []. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index rose to 25 in October 2021 from 10 in the previous month, the highest since July. Factory growth in October was driven by increased activity at nondurable goods plants, in particular paper and printing production, chemical manufacturing, and plaTrading Economicsstics products, while durable goods manufacturing grew more moderately. ”

* * *

Supply Chain: “German chipmaker Infineon calls for rethink of auto supply chain” [Nikkei Asia]. “German chip giant Infineon Technologies is urging automakers to rethink their “just-in-time” supply chain strategy and instead start building up stockpiles of semiconductors as the global shortage of the key components drags on. The company, a leading provider of auto-related chips, predicts the chip crunch could last through the end of next year, Helmut Gassel, Chief Marketing Officer and a member of the Management Board of Infineon, told Nikkei Asia. Infineon is struggling with ‘very low inventory levels of products across multiple industries,’ Gassel said, with the shortage ‘most visible’ in the automotive sector. The company supplies a broad range of sectors, including consumer electronics, industrial machines and new applications such as the Internet of Things and smart cities.”

Supply Chain: “The Covid-19 oxygen crisis: How did we get here? Part 6. Oxygen supply chains” [GasWorld]. “It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact installed base of oxygen production capacity, given the many small and large oxygen production plants globally, many of which may not be known or capacities undisclosed, while significant volumes will be captive capacity (privately owned and operated by a steel company, for example) and not merchant (customer) supply. With PSA oxygen generation gradually on the rise, it is also challenging to put estimates beside this varying range of supply capability. There likely exists a very broad sliding scale of oxygen supply capacity at any one time. What we do know, however, is both the commonly accepted utilisation rates of ASUs (production plants) and the understanding from within the industry and externally that a large percentage of any bottleneck issues sits within the distribution chain and not in production. It’s understood that ASUs typically run at utilisation rates of circa 70-80% of their oxygen capacity, so ramping up capacity within the installed infrastructure should not be a problem in itself, assuming captive plants are willing and able to do so of course. The challenge is to package and transport that increased product, and ensure it reaches its destination and can be appropriately accessed/used once there. Karina Kocha, Business Intelligence Manager for gasworld, had explained during the height of the pandemic in Western Europe and North America that this was the case; that it seemed the challenge was not so much in the supply of oxygen in the market, but rather the capacity of the hospital supply systems to cope with the sharp increases in demand as they become overwhelmed with stricken patients. ‘The problem here may be in the capacity of the hospital supply systems, which could be not enough for increased consumption. The fastest way to increase it is to bring oxygen in cylinders…. The amount of oxygen can hardly be a problem. Any shortage might be caused by the delivery system, which can serve as a bottleneck between producers and patients.'” • For example:

I don’t know the business of oxygen cylinders at all; how full cylinders are delivered, and empty cylinders returned. I wonder if the situation is as messed up as it is with containers at ports? Do fee structures mean cylinders are hard to recirculate?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 28 at 12:58pm. Now that poor people won’t get dental, Mr. Market is in his happy space.

The 420

“He gave the world the perfect pot pipe. Fifty years later, he took it to the internet” [Los Angeles Times]. “If you invent something that becomes known as the Swiss Army knife of pot pipes, a virtually indestructible, highly designed 4 ounces of brass called the Proto Pipe that sells more than 1.5 million units to generations of stoners, you’d expect the world to beat a path to your door. (You know, that whole “build a better mousetrap” thing.) So why was I the only one who’d found my way to the doorstep of a dusty industrial park just off the main drag in Willits, Calif.?” • This is a very good example of going into the forest to find the bird — and finding the bird. Also, it’s fine service journalism, because I have heard this kind of pipe is the kind of pipe you need, if you need this kind of pipe.

Groves of Academe

“Kentucky principal investigated after getting lap dance at homecoming event” [New York Post]. “A Kentucky school district is investigating after a teenage boy gave lap dances to his high school principal and other staff members during a homecoming event. Other provocative photos of spirit events at Hazard High School posted on social media showed teen girls parading around the gym dressed as Hooters waitresses and boys being paddled, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.” • “Spirit events”?

Our Famously Free Press

I wonder how long this will last:

Class Warfare

Not worth the paper its written on (1):

Not worth the paper its written on (2):

Now Deere is just trolling.

News of the Wired

“How I battle the evil leaf blowers” [Yahoo Finance]. “My suburban neighborhood has been noisier than usual this year. In addition to the ubiquitous roar of gas-powered leaf blowers, there is now the sound of me fighting back. I’ve been a lonely scold griping to my neighbors about their obnoxious leaf blowers for years. After a beautiful spring day wrecked by hours of nonstop droning earlier this year, I decided complaining wasn’t enough. So I messaged a group of offending neighbors, telling them that every time their leaf blowers rattled my house, I would respond with a like amount of hip-hop or heavy metal blared directly at them from my 70-watt guitar amplifier. The neighbors united against me, deeming the leaf blowers essential and calling my bluff…. The first time I did it, I felt nervous—until I felt elated. About five minutes after my neighbor’s landscaping crew lit up their leaf blowers on a bright Tuesday morning, I put the amp on my deck, aimed it at the problem, set the amp’s volume to 5—leaving room to escalate—and hit play. Blaring hip-hop collided with leaf-blower racket in a terrible cacophony between the two houses. But after the blowers stopped, I treated my neighbors to another 20 minutes or so of carefully cultivated hip-hop thumping like a trailer for Rolling Loud. It might be unwanted noise, but now I was the one making it. Hooya…. There are also a few encouraging signs it may be curtailing the abusive overuse of these noxious machines. One targeted neighbor has switched from a gas-powered blower to electric. The same lawn worker who told me ‘everybody’ violates the blower ban used a battery-powered blower a few times over the summer. I waved and gave him a thumbs-up.”

Still true, although for different reasons:

* * *

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

rh writes: “Old apple tree in Maine.”

Bonus (dc):

dc writes, from North Carolina: “This is in a lower class neighborhood, and is wonderful. They also have free copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”

* * *

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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. Glossolalia

    I have no where else to say this since it would offend many of my friends and family, so I’ll say it here. Has anyone else noticed the proliferation of doodles in the last few years, and especially as part of the “pandemic puppy” movement? I live in the well-to-do DC suburbs, the belly of the beast as it were of the PMC. These people absolutely adore their doodles and it occurred to me that these dogs are the perfect embodiment of the PMC, they way giant Ford F350s are of the Bubbas.

    The fact that they all have the same dog speaks to their utter lack of creative thought. And these dogs seems increasingly stupid and poorly behaved, pulling on the leash everywhere, jumping up on strangers, barking, etc. And it’s always the same story from the owner. “Oh he’s usually not like this! He’s just excited to see you.” Yea, because you haven’t a clue how to train a dog and how to act to let it know who is in charge. It wouldn’t surprise me either if the breeding standards are declining as breeders figured out that upper class liberals are willing to pay just about anything to get one of these dogs, just like how they’re willing to pay just about anything to get their kids in to the right collge. It’s all about appearances.

    I’ve been mulling over a story idea in my mind, a corollary of the Wuhan lab leak. What if this doodle experiment spirals out of control and doodles start mating with all sorts of species, and soon their stupid genetic code starts spreading uncontrollably in the wild? Sort like an animal version of Idiocracy.

    1. megrim

      Five years ago I was working in a pet supply store on the Main Line outside Philly that was frequented by the very wealthy. It had onsite dog grooming, and yes, there was definitely a disproportionate number of doodles. Lots of them very high strung. The original doodles were carefully bred to be hypoallergenic service dogs. But now any dog breeder can make a doodle by crossing labs and poodles. Not all of them have the placid temperament of a lab, to put it mildly.

      1. megrim

        One guy always scheduled his doodle to be the very last dog to be groomed that day, because this dog was so aggressive he couldn’t be around any other dogs. Would attack anything on four legs. The store cat wisely hid in the warehouse area.

      2. lordkoos

        My only experience with the breed is that my niece has one and it’s good for her allergies as well as being mellow and good-natured in temperament. Maybe she just got lucky.

    2. David May

      ‘ After three years of trying to find a solution, in 1989 Wally came up with the idea of “a dog with the working ability of the Labrador and the coat of the poodle”.

      But despite his success, he feels regret because the labradoodle became “a bandwagon” – and his aim of only breeding healthy pups was not followed by others.

      “I find that the biggest majority [of labradoodles] are either crazy or have a hereditary problem.” ‘

      Sounds like the perfect dog for a buffoonish country sliding into the crapper of history. RIP USA (1776-2025)

      1. Lost in OR

        “a dog with the working ability of the Labrador and the coat of the poodle”

        That would be called a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. I’ve had three of them and they were all awesome dogs.

        Glossolalia described my sister to perfection. She got the dog (a Bern(ese Mountain Dog)adoodle) about 4 months into Covid and could not find a trainer and is herself clueless on how to train it.

    3. t

      They guy who cooked up the crossbreed now regrets it. That said, I have never seen any boutique poodle cross that wasn’t a lovely dog. They often have owners who let them jump up, though.
      Same with poodles. Have yet to met one that wasn’t smart.
      If one travels in the right circles, you’ll often see tiny poodles who have been trained to act like a quivering mess in their owners arms and then drop the act as soon as they’re with others. I’ve known more than one who could easily get the highest utility dog title with their trainer. Trainer is tasked with teaching a new pose for the the next holiday card (which takes maybe ten minutes) and then spends well-paid hours putting real training into the dog for their own enjoyment.
      If you’re worried, Pariah dogs tend to evolve into Dingos, or small Dingos. There is some pressure animals who have to rely entirely on themselves.

    4. Mildred Montana


      Poodles, lapdogs, small dogs in general, can’t stand the yappy little buggers. Give me a big ol’ mutt dog anytime (and I’ve had a few). Although to be fair to poodles, I’ve heard that in some countries they are a necessary ingredient in a delicacy called chicken poodle soup. ;)

      “What if this doodle experiment spirals out of control and doodles start mating with all sorts of species, and soon their stupid genetic code starts spreading uncontrollably in the wild?”

      Well, their PMC owners are already mating with each other, can anything be worse than that?

      1. Pavel

        The story may be partially anecdotal, but I believe St Barack Obama and his wife promised to get a mixed-breed dog from an animal shelter as a White House pet. In the end, of course they got a trendier-than-thou Portuguese Water Dog (perfect for future Martha’s Vineyard life).

        The first part may be an urban myth, but it would fit right in with his behaviour and epitomise his many betrayals of the working and middle classes.

        And I agree completely with your sentiments, Mildred. Give me a nice good-natured, non-neurotic mutt any day. Though I do confess a fondness for sheep dogs :)

        1. Yves Smith

          One of my brothers and his wife would get German short-haired pointers. The first two were good dogs but I liked half the dogs in my old building (full of dogs!) better than them, even the typically a bit pushy but very energetic Jack Russell who lived to be 18. But the third is so hyper that it comes off as if it’s gotten a big snort of cocaine. All the time. Jumping on people. Jumping on stuff. Tore up the carpet in one of my mother’s bedrooms. They of course maintain that it’s a great dog.

      2. skippy

        I’ll take my long coat straight back black German shepherd and Belgium long coat half size malinois.

    5. Jason Boxman

      And here I was thinking you were talking about doodles, like graffiti or some such, not dogs. Oops.

    6. Copeland

      >doodles start mating with all sorts of species

      This is already happening en mass: poodle x bernese mtn dog, poodle x australian shepherd and many other crosses, in addition to the labs and golden retrievers that started it all.

      I will be picking up a mini aussie pup that needed a home this evening, we remain doodleless.

    7. PlutoniumKun

      Around my area, its all French bulldogs.

      I recently emailed a local bar on behalf of my friends corgi, asking to confirm if it was ok to bring a dog inside. I said the corgi was tired of all the French bulldogs in my areas best known dog friendly pub. They sent me a delightful reply saying that they loved the idea of a bulldog free day and offered the dog free ‘doggy beer’ (turned out to be a chicken broth in a pint glass).

      1. vlade

        I like dogs, but I make an exception for French bulldogs. I just don’t like being covered in spit, and they are like a walking shower of spit.

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    Not embarrassing the President before he leaves?

    Its ugly, but it has the rank of desperation. Pelosi isn’t even arguing for anything. She’s just trying to pretend terrible legislation will make Biden look like a big man or something. Its entirely possible the whispers abroad are that Biden is a nothing. Its sad, and for it to be so open. Its embarrassing to have to ask that.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It would be worth having both bills fail IF such destruction would lead to the destruction of Pelosi and her entire generation in Congress and the permanent removal of the Pelosi generation from elective office.
      And if that purge and burn could extend to the younger Pelosi clones ( Clyburn clones too), that would be even better than best.

      The DemParty should be purified down to a few Red Gingriches who are prepared to burn down the House ( and the Senate too) to get their way in the long run.

    2. Wukchumni

      It’s as if the favored home team lost by a score of 8-1, but we’ll act as if nobody outside of our shores can figure it out and still hold Joe in the highest esteem.

    3. Arizona Slim

      Whispers abroad? Have you watched Sky News Australia’s YouTube channel lately? They’re all but screaming that Biden is a nothing.

    4. Otis B Driftwood

      But remember everyone, Biden (not Sanders) was the one who could work with Republicans to get things done.

      1. ambrit

        Uh, I’d amend that to say that Biden is the one who can work with Republicans to get things undone.

  3. nycTerrierist

    gentleperson’s wager: AOC is scrambling now to rationalize why she
    ‘has’ to vote for the bill per Pelosi’s orders

    any takers?

        1. Pavel

          One of the simplest reforms of the US political system (or cesspool) would be to force *every* bill to be read in its entirety on the House or Senate floor by its sponsors in front of a quorum.

          If nothing else it might get rid of these 800+ page omnibus spending bills stuffed full of pork by lobbyists. Break them into smaller pieces so every dime spent is clearly recorded.

          Re the current BBB bill, the fact that the Dems changed from a billionaire tax to a millionaire tax on the eve of the promised vote shows that they have no idea how they are going to pay for the spending — despite Biden’s promise at the “town hall” that it was all paid for.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        as any sane person would).

        I’m not sure Biden et al have really grasped Manchin is well into Boy Who Cried Wolf territory. If they concede, AOC and et al won’t be able to go to bat in the future as they will be tarred with the Manchin stink.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m not sure Biden et al have really grasped Manchin

          The needle was always going to end up somewhere between $3.5T and $1.5T. $1.75T indicates that Biden et al. have no interest whatever in AOC going to bat for them, except strictly on their terms.

          “The tradition of all [un]dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”

    1. Ranger Rick

      I’ll take a sideline bet that the final vote is voice-only so no one can see who betrayed them.

      1. ambrit

        That’s a good bet. Any ‘over’ for the House surveillance cameras being turned off for the duration of the vote?

    2. Pelham

      Nah. I’m sure that’s what she’s doing. Arguments I’ve seen elsewhere advise the progressives to grin and bear it and vote for the bill. The rationale is that, lousy as the bill is, it will ruin the Biden presidency if it doesn’t go through.

      But that’s fairly blinkered thinking. Isn’t Biden’s presidency basically over regardless of the fate of this bill? “The first 100 days” and all that? If that’s the case, the progressives can justify taking a firm stand now and voting no. It might just resonate well with voters — even though the media will certainly cast all the blame where it doesn’t belong. And having someone show backbone in Congress would be a refreshing departure from the predictable DC soap opera.

    3. QuicksilverMessenger

      In a way it’s kind of funny that we even discuss and debate legislation like this. I was reading about this study done by a Northwestern professor and a Princeton professor about actual legislation vis a vis “what the people actually want”.
      Their conclusion:
      “Their study took data from nearly 2000 public opinion surveys and compared it to the policies that ended up becoming law. In other words, they compared what the public wanted to what the government actually did. What they found was extremely unsettling: The opinions of 90% of Americans have essentially no impact at all.”

      And I think we all know that this definitely passes the smell test at the very least. Yet we get worked about so called factional jockeying, the sausage making, etc., when it inevitably all boils down to “you will get nothing”.


  4. IM Doc

    From my lecture notes from Human Behavior I from the 1980s – In the series from the professor about dementia ( Yes – I managed to save every lecture note I ever took from high school to residency – they are all now safely stored in my home office and scanned into pdfs)

    I quote –

    “Confabulation” – is one of the cardinal signs of early dementia. It is defined as the verbal or physical behavior of the patient to act as if they are engaged in the conversation when in reality they are just “bullshitting”. They often have no tangible hold on the reality of the situation. In the earliest stages, many are quite cocky about their ability to bullshit and can be quite believable for those who do not dig deep into the conversation. The words fuck, shit and goddamn are often frequently used by these patients in most inappropriate ways – often to embellish statements to make it appear they are getting the jibe of the conversation. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. They have no idea what they are talking about – but just APPEAR to. Almost universally at the same time, the patient appears to be emphatically emotional, usually intense anger, that family or friends will attest is nothing like their normal baseline.”

    Again -very dated and from the 1980s – but still very true – confabulation is probably one of the most common giveaways for impending dementia. I thought my old lecture notes would be a nice bookend to the above Politico article in the links.

    1. zagonostra

      “Confabulist” is that the right framing of someone who engages in confabulation?

      I should start using that instead of some less socially acceptable terms that escape my mouth, somehow circumventing my mind and that get me in trouble.

    2. Randall Flagg

      And to think back that everyone (well it was certainly a heavy topic of the commentary/opinion class),was barking to use the 25th amendment on Trump just weeks into his presidency.
      And don’t bullshit the bullshitter… pretty much sums up his entire career.
      I wonder what he thinks when he looks in the mirror and reflects on his life.

    3. Dr. John Carpenter

      When my great grandmother started to go, she started swearing like a sailor. We didn’t even know she knew those words. She also turned nasty and lied a lot, which was also completely out of character.

      Some people think it’s hyperbolic to say, but the signs are there.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        When my mother had a stroke, the very elderly lady in the nursing home bed opposite swore constantly and imaginatively during all waking hours, a never-ending stream of invective and astonishingly foul language. Her family were clearly embarrassed and claimed she’d never once swore before her stroke.

        After a while everyone got used to it and blanked it out (the other patients, including my mother, were beyond noticing). One time when sitting by my mothers bed I got a call from a friend. I hadn’t realised the swearing was audible to my friend on the phone, she was genuinely upset, thinking I was…well, I’m not sure what she thought I was doing with that language in the background, but I ended up having to apologise profusely.

  5. griffen

    Spirit events used to be a means to show just whether, or not, you cared about homecoming and the week leading up to that annual rite. Usually playing a high school football game, against a supposedly weaker school or opponent.

    That is just, bizarre on so many levels. What else besides moonshine and Mt Dew was that principal / mayor consuming? I was worried it was the fictional Hazzard, but thankful the show was set in GA.

  6. Mikel

    Facebook is changing their name to Meta…

    Paging former NBA player Ron Artest (aka Meta World Peace) to file a lawsuit! What fun…

        1. Questa Nota

          Meta, the website formerly known as Bull******** Fabulists.
          Is there some glyph thingy for that?

    1. zagonostra

      Metastasis come right to mind.

      metastasis (n.)

      “change of substance, conversion of one substance into another,” 1570s, originally in rhetoric, from Late Latin metastasis “transition,” from Greek metastasis “a removing, removal; migration; a changing; change, revolution,” from methistanai “to remove, change,” from meta, here indicating “change” (see meta-) + histanai “to place, cause to stand,” from PIE root *sta- “to stand, make or be firm.” A rhetorical term in Late Latin for “a sudden transition in subjects,” medical use for “shift of disease from one part of the body to another” dates from 1660s in English. Related: Metastatic.

      1. Mikel

        AOC making that connection for ya:
        Twitter a few hours ago:
        Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
        Meta as in “we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!”

    2. griffen

      Interesting name change. Needs a more creative thinker than myself on new methods to parody the company, no matter what the corporate naming convention.

      It is a step ahead of New Coke, or the Ford Pinto.

    3. DonCoyote

      Making the Spanish la meta. I suggest moving the space and make it lame, ta.

      Or maybe we can make “Let’s go meta” be code for “f*ck you Facebook” (ala Brandon/Biden)

    4. Acacia

      Re: Facebook, I rather like zagonostra’s note above about Meta as in “metastasize”.

      And as if this re-branding weren’t creepy enough, the Faceborg Meta company is now apparently planning to introduce a “smart” watch replete with a spy camera and body monitor (“health tracking features”). They’re really becoming more and more like a cult.

      But hey, maybe there’s a silver lining? Here I was thinking the future would be be like Blade Runner, where we’d need a special machine to shine light in somebody’s eyes to figure out if they’ve got human subjectivity or not, but it turns out we only need to look at the kind of watch they’re wearing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You can look at videos, or you can look at behavior. I prefer the latter.

      Same with “our democracy,” “fascism,” etc. If liberal Democrats were serious about these things, Obama would be out stumping for HR1, instead of trying to push a string with Clintonite bagman McAuliffe.

      1. dcblogger

        I really do not get this determination to discount the seriousness of January 6. It really is the Beer Hall Putsch, it is that serious.

        1. jsn

          And who’s your Fuhrer here?

          Surely not Trump, though I don’t discount his ability to stir the pot.

          You’ve got Mr Ectoplasm AG not pursuing any of the actual leaders visible on video and identified as high priority by the FBI on the ground just after the events. These guys have been identified, they’re active in law enforcement or tangent to it.

          Were they tools of Orange Man no doubt they’d be of interest to the Plasmic AG, as they’re not, one’s left to assume he and they both play for team Spook, now firmly in the D column. So yes, I think it’s as deadly serious as the Assange extradition, the Donziger incarceration and the pointed betrayal now being celebrated by the Democrats, I just don’t agree on who you think is the villain and who is making a mockery of law.

          1. lordkoos

            Most interesting to me is that some members of congress have been outed as part of the Jan 6 plot. Various snitches have been singing their names… I wonder if anything will happen to them beyond some kind of weak censure.

            1. jsn

              There are various elements of the government on all sides of this thing.

              Having been enveloped in the theater of security since 9/11(living in NY) and having seen what TPTB can deliver on that when they choose, first with Occupy and again last summer with the BLM encampment at City Hall, hearing about orders given to call off the dogs ahead of 1/6: this is psy opps, the only useful way for me to think about it.

              So I don’t think about it much, just note facts as they surface and keep my eyes on the main program of looting and attempts to codify a hereditary aristocracy,

          2. marym

            Do you have links to information about identified and unpursued law enforcement?
            The link below is a media report from 04/2021 that doesn’t document the 52, just gives some examples, but these are people who have been arrested.

            There’s been buzz recently about law enforcement ties to Oath Keepers, but it’s not clear (to me) if that would be interpreted as participation in OK’s or the Capitol riot as supporters or infiltrators/provocateurs.

            “At least 52 active or retired military, law enforcement, or government service employees are among the over 400 suspects arrested for their alleged actions at the Capitol, according to an ABC News investigation based on military records, court records, interviews, and publicly available news reports.”

            1. Gareth

              I don’t know of any law enforcement, but this article was circulating earlier this week. Revolver isn’t an objective outlet in my opinion, but the questions it raised about the lack of federal action in that particular case would be worth investigating more seriously.

              1. marym

                Thanks for the references, Gareth and urblintz.

                I saw a link here yesterday about this one guy, and made a comment about it. He was identified as being at the riot but not arrested, which has somehow inspired right wing media and politicians to speculate not only that he was there as a fed provocateur, but also that the whole event was a fed provocation.

                He may also be a long-time Oath Keeper. That in itself also wouldn’t show one way or the other whether he was an OK or a rioter by conviction or an infiltrator.

                People show up at protests all the time trying to escalate, as individual opportunists or law enforcement infiltrators. I’ve often wished activists for causes with which I sympathize would find better ways to identify and contain or expose those efforts. Maybe Trumpists are on to something and will shed some light. For now it still looks as though they’ve moved on from antifa made us do it to the feds made us do it.


        2. The Rev Kev

          The Beer Hall Putsch? Isn’t that the one where a bunch of idiots said that they were going to take over the government? And they were milling around because they weren’t sure how to do it? And then an ex-military leader led them on a march with an unclear destination – until the cops & troops turned up and a gun battle broke out. And it was seen that the leader of this crew was one of the first to jump into a car and do a runner?

          I’m not sure which episode is more embarrassing to read about – the Beer Hall Putsch or the January 6th riots.


          1. ambrit

            The “real” predictive value of the original “Beer Hall Putsch” was that a senior elite politico, Generalquartiermeister Ludendorf, (a revered figure across the spectrum in Germany at the time,) took part.
            See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Hall_Putsch#:~:text=The%20Beer%20Hall%20Putsch%2C%20also,1923%2C%20during%20the%20Weimar%20Republic.
            If Trump had physically been in the crowd of rioters who entered the Capitol building, then I would give creedence to the Beer Hall Putsch analogy. Since he did not, I’ll pass it by, and call Jan/6 a garden variety politically inspired riot.
            Also, in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, shooting broke out between the police and the putschists. Twenty people, from both sides, were killed. Here, one rioter was killed, by the police.
            The one possible similarity between the political ‘struggle’ of 1920s Germany and today is the involvement of ex-military in the insurrectionist movement. Today we have Oath Keepers lurking in the weeds. Then there were the Kampfbund and Freikorps, who fought it out for primacy in various German cities after the end of WW-1.
            See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freikorps
            Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kampfbund
            We aren’t near the conditions of the post-WW1 German political wars between the Leftists and Rightists yet. But it is early days yet.

        3. Big River Bandido

          Lol. I guess it’s hard to take that Buffalo Skin dude seriously. Maybe its the horns?

          Or maybe it was the fact that instead of taking over the military — they took selfies.

        4. lambert strether

          > Seriousness

          Where are the charges or convictions for insurrection? It’s ridiculous to say Garland’s soft-peddling it (or, if he is, it’s because of FBI agent provocateurs, exactly as in Michigan.

    2. Milton

      Perhaps I’m old-fashioned but I seem to remember that in order to successfully implement a coup, some of the participants should have remembered to bring some guns and ammo to the event, otherwise you have nothing but an organized sit-in–the kind that was employed by campaigners for the Americans w/ Disability Act where they occupied a gov’t building for about 4 weeks.

      1. HotFlash

        I have always figured it was a rally where the headliner failed to appear. I mean really, *everybody* knows that the first thing rebels do in a coup is take over the radio station!

        1. Wukchumni

          The am radio stations out west are predominantly Hispanic now, and i’m doubtful that they were J6 types.

        2. Valerie

          We had a Latin American theater group have to cancel a performance because of a coup years ago. They said the first thing that happened was that the rebels seized the airports so those in power couldn’t fly to safety (with the looted Treasury.) I didn’t hear anything about the airports being less dysfunctional than usual on 1.6….Just saying.

    3. dcblogger

      Perhaps both Wray and Biden want to keep a lit on the involvement of FBI informers — or agent provocaters, where the FBI has form.
      I think lambert has put his finger on it. It is like the assassination of the Grand Duke Serge, done by agents in the pay of the Okhrana. Instantly I read this I realized this must be the explanation.

  7. Harold

    My daughter & her partner adopted a female rescue toy poodle puppy and they adore it. Previous owner had gotten it in a pet shop but it proved too much for them to deal with. It is very high strung and my daughter enrolled it in a class for shy puppies. At first, it was the shyest in the class and just freaked out, a trembling wreck who peed on my daughter when she picked it up. But in subsequent classes it quickly became much less shy and now has playdates with other shy dogs.

    Despite being so nervous, it is a very intelligent creature and can do many tricks. And once it gets to know you is extremely friendly. I never cared much for poodles before but now I have a soft spot for them and for other small dogs. I have to say I much prefer to see these proliferating on NYC streets rather than the sinister influx we used to have of pit bull mixtures.

    1. wol

      We’re Australian Shepherd-ish but took m-i-l’s cockadoodle when she went into assisted living. After we got used to each other he turned into a sweet, funny dog with intelligence to spare. We’re lucky to have him.

    2. AndrewJ

      Every single pitbull mix I have met, without exception, has been incredibly sweet, intelligent, and loving. I will not stand this slander, Sir. Pistols at dawn.

  8. Lambert Strether Post author

    “Liberals defy Pelosi, say they’ll block infrastructure bill” [The Hill]. Not liberals, but whatever:

    Liberals on Thursday vowed to block a popular infrastructure bill — a central piece of President Biden’s domestic agenda — just hours after the president urged their support and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced plans to bring the bipartisan proposal to the House floor for a vote the same day.

    The move by dozens of members in the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) was hardly a departure of tactics: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who chairs the group, has said for months that liberals would oppose the infrastructure bill until there was a concrete agreement with Democratic centrists on a larger social spending package.

    Still, their decision to hold that line constitutes a remarkable escalation of the high-stakes power struggle between Pelosi and the progressive members of her own caucus, who said they simply can’t back the infrastructure bill without greater assurances that a larger social spending bill will contain their priorities.

    In an exceptional interaction Thursday, Pelosi walked into a strategic meeting of the CPC, only to leave a short time later without speaking to the group.

    Jayapal emerged not long afterwards to explain the group’s position. With a number of issues still unresolved in the social spending bill — and parts of the text yet to be written — Jayapal said liberals are sticking with their initial strategy, even if it means bucking leadership to delay the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure framework, often referred to as the BIF, until next week.

    “There are … too many ‘no’ votes for the BIF to pass today. However, we are committed to staying here until we get this Build Back Better Act done, get the legislative text,” Jayapal said after huddling in the basement of the Capitol with other members of the CPC.

    But extending an olive leaf to Biden and leaders, Jayapal said the CPC later Thursday will endorse a resolution endorsing Biden’s $1.75 trillion framework, which was rolled out by the White House Thursday morning.

    “With the framework that is there, we can endorse that in principle, but we do need to have the legislative text and we will vote both bills through together,” she added.

    That olive branch was dumb, dumb, dumb. They won’t get anything for it, it makes them appear weak, and it also gives the leadership a rationale to pick of CPC members one by one.

    1. ambrit

      Right. The Caucus still hasn’t figured out “Will to Power” yet. They should study their main opponents, Pelosi, shumer, et. al. and learn “hardball politics.” Where better to learn the nuts and bolts of one’s chosen trade but at work?

      1. Big River Bandido

        “Olive branch” is the expression for a peace offering.

        You might be conflating this metaphor with “fig leaf”, an apt metaphor for the so-called “framework”.

  9. Adam1

    Capital insurrections…. I’ve got a middle school son who’s politics obsessed and I keep trying to explain political theater to him… There is not real political interest in really prosecuting these criminals because that would cause too much dirty laundry on both sides to be aired. Keep the show going, but within politically safe boundaries. Feed the political proles but not the revolution.

    1. Cocomaan

      You’d think folks would have learned after endless Russian investigations failed to produce anything impressive. Or Benghazi. Or John Durham.

      The article asking for DOJ to investigate forgets that special prosecutors aren’t there to prosecute, they’re there to waste time and do nothing.

      1. ambrit

        The sad thing about the Benghazi teleplay was that there really was criminal activity at the centre of it. I mean, running a “rat line” from Libya to Syria couldn’t have been the safest endeavour.

    2. Nikkikat

      The Dems as you say will not do anything to stick it to the rioters or any of the others involved. I think they are doing this little show to use it if Trump tries to run. They needed to find some direct connections to the riot and Trump. It also will enable them to use the riot as an excuse to take away some more rights, add some more cops etc.

  10. Wukchumni

    The Green Energy Cargo Cult

    Are wind generators and solar panels a replacement for fossil fuels? A lot of people still seem to believe that, even after the recent flood of bad news on this front, but a few people are already beginning to suspect something.

    Although some people claim that wind and solar farms have an EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) of 5 or even 7, it is trivial to prove that this just isn’t so. If, for each 1 kWh of energy invested in their design, marketing, production, installation, maintenance, removal and safe disposal, they were to return 5 or even 7 kWh over their useful lifetime of, optimistically, 20 years, and assuming a constant (inflation-adjusted) cost of energy, they would produce at least 400% of pure profit! Compare that to a bank deposit or a guaranteed income investment yielding 3% over inflation (if you can find one!). Over the same 20 years it would produce a mere 80% profit, which is equivalent to an EROEI of just 1.8. If wind and solar installations were so lucrative, their promoters would not be asking for government subsidies; they would be running away from frenzied mobs of investors shouting “Shut up and take my money!” Such a huge, and guaranteed, rate of return, is something to die (or at least risk going to jail) for.

    Instead, the wind and solar energy sectors have turned into gigantic state subsidy sponges. Not only have they squandered money and natural resources, but they have become a major headache for grid operators because they have managed to force through regulations requiring grid operators to take whatever electricity they produce regardless of demand. However, there is generally little risk of them ever producing too much electricity; for instance, wind farms for all of 2021, for all of Germany, have produced just 20% of their rated capacity and solar farms barely over 10%. In any case, all they have to show for several trillion dollars of squandered public funds, and huge swaths of land and sea blighted by their installations, are much higher electricity rates.


    1. Rodeo Clownfish

      Although I generally like Dmitri’s perspectives, this one is nonsense. Solar panels, for instance, often have a warranty of 20 years to remain at least 80% as efficient as when purchased (new). They can continue to be used for many more years. And anyway, they pay for both the $ and the energy used in their production within a few years. After that, it is profit. Why are there subsidies? Because any large up-front investment is something that many people will avoid unless they cannot. It is perfectly easy to just go on paying a monthly bill for coal-powered electricity, so most people need an incentive to plop down thousands of dollars on a residential or commercial solar installation, even though said installation would indeed earn back its purchase price many times over during its working lifetime.

  11. Deardoff8x10

    The bonus has phrases that feel like they come from the movie, “They Live”. I think of that movie when I see many members of Congress…

  12. Hana M

    I suspect the sine wave pattern in Boston’s sarscov2 mRNA data would map to a seven day cycle (can’t tell without the raw data). Parties, socializing over the weekend followed by two to three days to peak viral replication, followed by a decline as mostly vaccinated and healthy young fight off the infection (most probably never knew they had it). We are not seeing much in terms of hospitalization. My guess is this is going to be the pattern going forward since we are dealing with an endemic virus now.

    The O2 cylinder situation is very stupid. A friend’s husband got Covid back in April of 2020 in NJ. He was hospitalized briefly and then discharged with supplemental O2. He wanted to come back to Boston but he couldn’t until he was weaned off the O2. Why? Because the cylinders couldn’t travel between states–he couldn’t just drop off a NJ cylinder in MA! No one could figure out how to get around this!

    1. bradford

      The horizontal scale indicates that the faint lines are months, and the heavier lines are quarters, so I think the sine wave pattern is more like a three week cycle. Which is mysterious.

  13. Hana M

    PS Just so no one thinks my friends were going around spreading SarsCov2, they both tested PCR negative repeatedly. This was before MDs were comfortable using prednisone and other drugs to tamp down the excess inflammatory response that often occurs in Covid and can continue even after the virus has been cleared.

  14. fresno dan

    “The Evangelical Church Is Breaking Apart” [The Atlantic].
    Who do you believe, and why do you believe them?
    So a couple of weeks ago I related in response to a posting about how a doctor had convinced an anti vaxer to get vaccinated, about a woman I chat with in a restaurant/bar I visit. She is quite anti vaccine, apparently because of the religious and ?political? circle she is in. Again, I think people would be better off vaccinated, but people will make their own minds up and I have precious little experience of changing anybody’s mind about anything. The fact is, skepticism toward vaccination is nothing new.
    But both of us being of advanced years, she was gonna get a colonoscopy. So I just asked: how do you actually know what those people are really sticking up there, as you are unconcious when they are ….examining???
    Funny what we do, and don’t, question…

    1. Wukchumni

      Visalia evangs strike me as the holiest of the holier than thou in the CVBB, and they really think Devin Nunes is doing a bang up job, since they keep reelecting him by wide margins. For a Democrat challenger to have a chance, they’d have to promise and come through for Ag with a veritable shitlode of water and then walk on it, and even then the race would be a squeaker.

      I hike with a friend who is 64 and new age’y and doesn’t have a religious bend to her, she’s more of a pantheist and an anti-vaxer as well, really the only person I know who is avoiding the jab for a reason other than dogma. She’s pretty strident in her opinion and i’m more of a listener and she knows i’m 2x+ good vax-wise, that ship set sail in May.

      Here’s a few links she recommended, to give you an idea. They both strike me as out there, but it gives you a glimpse into what sways people’s thinking.



    2. Divadab

      Thé risk of perforation of the colon on a colonoscopy is upwards of 1 percent. Vaccine risk, however , is more like 1 per 10,000 , tho higher in some age groups, for side effects such as missed periods or myocarditis. This whole pandemic and the related risks are treated on some other basis as other health risks, as if to some altogether lower risk tolerance, imho.

      1. Harold

        Rate of perforation of the colon doesn’t have Covid’s potential to increase exponentially (to double every few days or weeks), I thought the difference was. This is what makes contagious epidemics more dangerous than accidents.

  15. NotTimothyGeithner

    For the record, Biden has now tried through Pelosi to hold progressives to the fire with a scheduled vote and had Pelosi basically call them out for letting the President go abroad while looking weak.

    Biden has called Manchin his friend.

  16. Jason Boxman

    At the same time? That’s silly. What constitutes the Left in Congress ought to insist that the reconciliation bill pass first, then the infrastructure bill can pass. There’s no other way to check duplicity by liberal Democrats, with a long history of dishonest dealing, including in this very matter!

    1. Yves Smith

      Hey, I intend to do that once I get used to my new hips.

      Very impressive but she should use her legs more and her back less. Proper deadlift form is you try to keep your low back arched to protect it and force most of the actual lifting into your hamstrings and glutes. Also conditions you to use your legs and butt and not your back so much when lifting in real life.

  17. jr

    “When pushing aides for better answers, he will sometimes say, ‘don’t bullshit a bullshitter.’”

    I wonder if he says that to indoor trees sometimes.

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘Wow. I missed this choice detail in Deere’s ridiculous filing to bust the picket line in Davenport IA:

    “All nine people said they “personally observed the picketers’ improper and unsafe conduct” … The five drivers signed prepared documents, which contained identical wording.”’

    In court, you could have five people read those documents out loud so that their words sinc up together and embarrass John Deere with their amateur hour antics. But seriously? A multi-billion dollar corporation and they can’t have someone write five different stories that sound plausible? You expect evil deeds but it would be nice to have to deal with competent evilness to go along with it. Russiagate really brought evilness standards way down. Too much of the evilness that we see these days is on par with what a Snidely Whiplash would do.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Makes you wonder who owns the judge… “A government of laws, not men.” Yeah, right…

      That judge must have gone to the same school as the British judge who has been overseeing the Assange proceedings, and the bewigged creature who oversaw the railroading of Craig Murray in Scotland.

  19. a fax machine

    re: O2 sales

    It’s shipped by the bottle which need to be secured upright or braced down laying flat. Transporting more than 3 tanks (based on weight, 3 tanks is enough to be considered an “industrial” reportable quantity) requires a truck license and hazmat endorsement. Tanks can be bought, leased or simply subject to an extra deposit. Most casual people, welders and car shops will opt for the deposit rather than their own tanks. Thus, the total tank supply is known by the O2 dealer, which is typically a company like Airgas. In my experience (experience is subjective!) on the west coast; Airgas is able to make O2 at individual dealers by the truckload but the power consumption is uneconomcal compared to their main plants. However, this capability is used so they can sell O2 by either the tankload or the truckload. Also note that the lowest O2 prices are for O2 shipped by rail, and the Airgas docks with rail access are the ones who have enough O2 to meet demand. It’s a lot like propane sales.

    Which slams into another problem: there is a shortage of experienced (24 months), hazmat-rated truckers at the moment. Due to insurance premiums, even a fresh hazmat driver will be turned away because the company doesn’t want to risk the truck literally exploding. Thus, this has led to O2 shortages in markets that cannot accommodate full size 50′ trailers – San Francisco being one of them, vs Oakland, Stockton, San Jose and the Central Valley where there is enough labor to meet demand. The infrastructure deficit has led to a debate within Airgas over whether or not they want to buy into Redwood City’s port/harbor district (or some other place to the south, ala Kinder Morgan in Santa Clara) as it’d give them a siding for a tank car (rule of thumb is that 1 tank car will do the work of 4 semi trucks; so a 300′ siding containing a small delivery of 5 cars would eliminate ~200 man hours per week. One notices a confluence of highly-paid, good work and (comparatively) low gas/O2 prices with the local availability of industrial infrastructure.

    Now again, this view is entirely subjective. I’m certain someone from the east coast, where there are more trains (and even bulk ship terminals) in general, is laughing at this. Chicago, STL, Canada and upstate NY are especially good for these sorts of deliveries as it’s where railroads meet the canals.

  20. JTMcPhee

    Re redistricting, FL has a fully Rep dominated political infrastructure. Not even a draft map yet, and the Dems only care about protecting a few “safe” districts for their pet lapdogs.

    Who controls redistricting in Florida in 2021?

    Republicans fully control the congressional redistricting process. New maps are drawn and passed by the Republican state legislature and signed into law by the Republican governor.

    JUNE 13, 2022
    Date that candidates begin filing for congressional runs (therefore map should be set by this date)”

    https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/redistricting-2022-maps/florida/ A good resource for anyone curious about how the small-d democratic activity of setting legislative boundaries that will control the makeup of the state and federal legislatures is proceeding and how the Reps (abetted by the Quisling Dems) are dominating the field of play.

    One wonders when the proles will finally get past the vain notion that there is a “rule of law” and that their overlords play fair, and stop accepting the notion that the statute books full of corporate-drafted laws have any remaining validity “because it’s the law” and “because, I mean, you know, the predations are, after all, ‘all nice and legal’.”

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Is there a constitutional right to food? Mainers to decide”

    The corporate position is that only corporations have the right to raise livestock and grow crops. People should only have the right to buy it. Barring the occasional food recalls that is.

  22. a fax machine

    re: supply chain crisis, port automation, labor, chip shortage and cyber security

    Newsom and Buttkrieg announce $5 billion in loans to unclog LA’s Ports. Additionally, President Biden appears to support night shifts at the Ports.



    Unknown is Newsom’s stance on port automation, which the terminals want and threaten a labor force reduction by 50-80%. While the current circumstances seem to make automation inevitable, a strike right now would devastate the national economy and this fact is observed by the powers that be. Ditto, the chip shortage and Colonial Pipeline hack make good arguments for not engaging in full automation yet. It also appears that the move to support a night shift would double the amount of required workers, which would (roughly) lead to no net reduction in the workforce if the ports are automated.

    Aside this, there is a much wiser push to construct more on-dock rail and more domestic container facilities. The old way of using a guy on a forklift to move stuff from containers to dry vans is dying because modern automated warehouse sorting equipment can take it from the containers and put it straight onto delivery trucks. Here are a few links regarding this.





    The world is about to change. As the 1970s brought the intermodal container and modern (deregulated) trucking, the 2020s will bring some combination of new port vehicles and increased freight train utilization in supply chains. Even if the economy collapses next year, it is unavoidable as retailers, terminal operators and the ports are going to do everything in their power to reduce semi truck dependency.

  23. VietnamVet

    Joe Biden is off to the existential climate change summit empty handed. One thing never mentioned is the huge burden of debt held by Americans by student loans, credit cards, and payday moneylending. The middle class now cannot afford what made it the middle class in the first place. The only real wealth left to rebuild America is with the 0.1%.

    Financialization has hit boardrooms too. All that is left are zombies wheeling and dealing to increase their bonuses. Boeing spent billions to open a South Carolina 787 assembly line in order to bust PNW Unions. This was the first true global airliner. Now “Boeing Is Sitting On 100 Undelivered 787 Dreamliners” due to assembly problems. Also Boeing’s Starliner due to unrepairable clogged thruster nozzles has been taken down and won’t launch until sometime next year. Elon Musk has already blasted paying customers around the earth.

    There have been US Marines stationed in Taiwan for a year. They are China’s trip-wire just like the occupation troops in Syria next to Russians. The slightest mistake and civilization blows up in a nuclear war.

    With no functional public health system, shortages of workers, and just-in-time logistic failures; the status quo is collapsing. Below the razor edge on which western society now rests, there is the abyss.

    1. skippy

      Best bit about Taiwan is I have it on good authority that a mainland CCP solider swam across to a forward base and had fun playing some basketball with some Gurkha’s stationed there and left …

    2. The Rev Kev

      Those occupation troops in Syria aren’t there to be a trigger against Russia. They are there to take Syria’s oil and crops growing in this region to deny them to Syria. Blinken actually came out and said it was US policy to stop Syria being able to rebuild but to leave it a broken country for its people.

    3. Robert Gray

      > Elon Musk has already blasted paying customers around the earth.

      Really? I thought they just went straight up, across some arbitrary stratospheric threshold into ‘space’, then back to earth. I mean, the trip is over in minutes, not even hours. I don’t believe there’s any earth orbit involved.

      > There have been US Marines stationed in Taiwan for a year. They are China’s trip-wire just like the
      > occupation troops in Syria next to Russians. The slightest mistake and civilization blows up
      > in a nuclear war.

      Sorry, but you can’t be serious.

      > With no functional public health system, shortages of workers, and just-in-time logistic failures; the
      > status quo is collapsing. Below the razor edge on which western society now rests, there is the abyss.

      I’m with you on that.

      1. VietnamVet

        “Four space tourists ended their trailblazing trip to orbit on Saturday with a splashdown in the Atlantic off the Florida coast.”

        The corporate/state media has done a great job with its messaging on the US occupation of Syria in obscuring the truth. The transactional Donald Trump tried to withdraw from Syria but was talked into staying for the oil money. For the Western Empire its intention is quite clearly much more. The policy is the overthrow of the Damascus government, an ally of Russia, by denial of Syria’s use of its own resources and by sanctions. If the US troops left, Syria would immediately regain its territory with Russian help and next would be to get the Turks to leave.

        France acknowledged the wisdom of leaving Mexico once the Union won the Civil War. Superpower locked and loaded troops trolling around the same contested land is highly dangerous. A firefight, a battle, a war, and the exchange of nuclear weapons is very possible. 70 years of war games have shown that once nuclear armed nations start a shooting war it always escalates to a nuclear exchange. Pakistan and India already have come very close to the edge.

        1. Robert Gray

          Thanks. I was under the mistaken impression that all of these ‘space tourist’ ventures were of the sort undertaken the other day by William Shatner.

  24. Matthew G. Saroff

    I have to note that, “They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing,” is not an actual Talleyrand quote. The same goes for, “This is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.”

    The former came from either Charles Louis Etienne or Napoleon Bonaparte, and the latter to either Antoine Boulay de la Meurthe Joseph Fouché,

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