2:00PM Water Cooler 12/8/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Another one of Darwin’s finches, recorded in 1981 (what a great archive). This is the one recording for this bird, so I feel I have to run it!

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A lot of action in the charts today. On the word “mild.” To me, “mild” means “status quo,” i.e. “We’re enduring the present situation, and what is to come will be no worse.” Well, the present situation, whether you look at cases, deaths, or hospitalizations — isn’t mild at all. In a civilized country, 812,205 deaths — we lost 750,000 in the Civil War — would be regarded as a catastrophe. Yet we soldier on. It’s weird. I don’t understand the mass psychology at all.

Vaccination by region:

Jumpy. More data problems? (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.)

60.1% of the US is fully (doubly) vaccinated (CDC data, as of December 7.) We have broken the important 60% psychological barrier! Mediocre by world standards, being just below Estonia, and just above Taiwan in the Financial Times league tables 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. Or perhaps the numbers are being managed, like earnings. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected from severe illness and hospitalization, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the Delta… With Omicron coming up fast on the outside

Case count by United States regions:

A slight drop amidst the fiddling and diddling (which often happens at peaks). The Midwest’s numbers are down, so here is that chart:

At a minimum, the official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” or that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), or “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) is clearly problematic. (This chart is a seven-day average, so changes in direction only show up when a train is really rolling.)

One of the sources of the idea that Covid is on the way out, I would speculate, is the CDC’s modeling hub (whose projections also seem to have been used to justify school re-opening). Here is the current version of the chart from the CDC modeling hub, which aggregates the results of eight models in four scenarios, with the last run (“Round 9”) having taken place on 2021-08-30, and plots current case data (black dotted line) against the aggregated model predictions (grey area), including the average of the aggregated model predictions (black line). I have helpfully highlighted the case data discussed above:

Case data (black dotted line) has been within the tolerance of the models; it does not conform to the models’ average (black line), but it stays within aggregated predictions (the grey area).

I wrote: “It’s too early to say ‘Dammit, CDC, your models were broken’; but it’s not too soon to consider the possibility that they might be. The case data still looks like it’s trying to break out of the grey area. We shall see.” The case data has now broken out of the grey area (see at “Oopsie!”). Since the models are aggregated conventional wisdom, it’s not fair to call them propaganda, exactly. Nevertheless. conventional wisdom is looking a little shaky, and anybody who relied on CDC models to predict that we would be “back to normal” by early next year should be rethinking. And this is — I assume — before Omicron!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection, not updated:

I have marked the previous peak and current peak data points in yellow, and the current averate with a black “Fauci Line.” I wrote: “Now we’ll see how much higher it goes. It’s hard to know how pessimistic to be, but this tapewatcher’s guess is that this years peak will surpass 2020’s.” This tapewatcher expected to be right. But not instantly!

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” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties. Updated December 7 :

Some red going pink, or even yellow or green. Good news?

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile), also December 2:

I have helpfully highlighted the states where the “trend” arrow points up in yellow, and where it is vertical, in orange.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 812,205 810,432. At this rate, I don’t think we’ll hit the million mark by New Year’s.

Excess deaths (total, not only from Covid), not updated:

Hard to believe we have no excess deaths now, but very fortunate if so. (CDC explains there are data lags).

(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’s duty 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.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources, with additions from the Brain Trust:

South Africa’s rise looks linear, even though this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

Biden Administration

“President Biden’s pick for a key banking regulator backs out.” [New York Times]. “Republican opposition would not have mattered had Senate Democrats been united in favor of Ms. Omarova. Her nomination was ultimately doomed by a lack of support from moderates, making her the Biden administration’s third high-profile nominee to bow out after failing to receive the full backing of Democratic lawmakers. The White House also pulled Mr. Biden’s first choices to lead the Office of Management and Budget and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. At Ms. Omarova’s confirmation hearing, Senators Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia, both Democrats, said they had serious concerns about her candidacy, although neither suggested she intended to subvert capitalism. Instead, they condemned her for having opposed legislation they both supported to roll back parts of the regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.”

“Democrats seek to avoid internal disputes over Russia and China” [The Hill]. “Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is looking for a way to avoid a messy public split between President Biden and Senate Democrats over Russia and China policy by looking for a way to neutralize tough amendments on those two hot-button topics. Pressure is growing on Congress to act as Biden is scheduled to hold a video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to warn against a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday acknowledged that U.S.-Russia policy has taken on new importance amidst reports that Russia has 70,000 troops in Ukraine and plans to mass 175,000 troops along its border with Ukraine in preparation for an invasion early next year.” • The Blob puts forth a pseudopodium. (Incidentally, Biden’s “diplomatic boycott” of the Olympics in China is pretty gemtle, given that the athletes will perform. Who cares about anything else? Is it too much to hope for that Biden — now as the chief executive — has finally realized that the national security community is dominated by lunatic psychos?

“Democrats’ IRS bank account monitoring plan would affect 87M Americans, analysis shows” [FOX]. “Democrats crafted a plan earlier this year to require banks and other financial institutions to disclose accounts with $10,000 of annual deposits or outflows to the IRS, a move intended to help the agency crack down on wealthy tax cheats. Recipients of federal benefits like unemployment and Social Security would be exempt from the policy under the latest iteration of the proposal, which would also exclude any income received through a paycheck in which federal taxes are automatically deducted. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that some 87 million Americans who earn less than $400,000 in adjusted gross income would see their account information reported to the IRS. That represents a little more than half — about 59% — of the 148 million taxpayers in the U.S. earning less than $400,000. The Biden team has stressed that banks will not have to report individual transactions to the IRS, but rather ‘basic, high-level information on account inflows and outflows’ and that audit rates for Americans earning less than $400,000 annually would not go up.” • $10,000 of outflows hits a lot of people, as the JCT shows. It’s ridiculous on its face to think this reporting is only being put in place to soak the rich. Plus, audit rates are discretionary. $100,000 maybe.

“Payment Choice Act wins bipartisan backing” [Payments Dive]. “The Federal Reserve Board may be mulling a digital dollar, but U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr. has cash on his mind. He was so concerned about stores not accepting cash that he introduced the Payment Choice Act to preserve the right of Americans to pay in cash and to bar merchants from rejecting it. He first introduced the bill in 2019 and reintroduced it this past July. ‘There is kind of an attack on American currency right now,’ he said in an interview this month. ‘It kind of looks like a move toward a cashless society, but this move would really prevent a lot of Americans from buying necessities like food and medicine.’ Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey, says he’s concerned about the purchasing power of 55 million Americans who don’t have a bank account or credit card, many of whom are minorities, elderly and disabled. ‘We can’t reject their needs because they don’t have a credit card or Apple Pay,’ he said. ‘I thought it was very important to defend these folks.'” And: “‘There is a certain segment of the population for whom cash is the preferred payment method,’ said Sarah Grotta, a director at payments consultant Mercator Advisory Group. ‘We’ve found in some of our surveys that those who use cash are using it because they feel it’s more safe,’ she said. ‘We used to think of cash as less safe, but consumers who have faced account takeovers or card fraud are sort of rethinking that.'” • Whoever thought of cash as less safe?


“Hispanic Voters Now Evenly Split Between Parties, WSJ Poll Finds” [Wall Street Journal]. “One year after giving Democratic House candidates more than 60% of their vote, according to polls at the time, the Journal survey found that Hispanic voters are evenly split in their choice for Congress. Asked which party they would back if the election were today, 37% of Hispanic voters said they would support the Republican congressional candidate and 37% said they would favor the Democrat, with 22% undecided. Hispanic voters were also evenly divided when asked about a hypothetical rematch in 2024 of the last presidential contenders, with 44% saying they would back President Biden and 43% supporting former President Donald Trump. In 2020, Mr. Biden won 63% support among Hispanic voters, nearly 30 points more than Mr. Trump, according to AP VoteCast, a large survey of the presidential electorate.” • Well, so much for the coalition of the ascendant, eh? What a debacle that was. After working hard to persuade voters who identify as white that the Democrat Party was not for them — unless they were professionals — the Democrats then proceed to lose the “Latinx” vote anyhow. Or at least men: “Hispanic voters in the survey ranked economic issues as the priority for Mr. Biden and Congress to address. Hispanic men said Republicans had the better economic policy, by a margin of 17 points. Hispanic women, by contrast, said Democrats had better economic plans, by a 10-point margin. A majority of Hispanic men said they would like to return to the policies that Mr. Trump pursued as president, while a majority of Hispanic women said they would rather stick with Mr. Biden’s policies.”

Democrats en Deshabille

Lambert here: Obviously, the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself. Why is that? First, the Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community. (Note that voters do not appear within this structure. That’s because, unlike say UK Labour or DSA, the Democrat Party is not a membership organization. Dull normals may “identify” with the Democrat Party, but they cannot join it, except as apparatchiks at whatever level.) Whatever, if anything, that is to replace the Democrat Party needs to demonstrate the operational capability to contend with all this. Sadly, I see nothing of the requisite scale and scope on the horizon, though I would love to be wrong. (If Sanders had leaped nimbly from the electoral train to the strike wave train after losing in 2020, instead of that weak charity sh*t he went with, things might be different today. I am not sure that was in him to do, and I’m not sure he had the staff to do it, although I believe such a pivot to a “war of movement” would have been very popular with his small donors. What a shame the app wasn’t two-way.) Ah well, nevertheless.

For an example of the class power that the PMC can wield, look no further than RussiaGate. All the working parts of the Democrat Party fired on all cylinders to cripple an elected President; it was very effective, and went on for years. Now imagine that the same Party had worked, during Covid, to create an alternative narrative — see Ferguson et al., supra, to see what such a narrative might have looked like, and with the unions (especially teachers) involved. At the very least, the Biden Administration would have had a plan, and the ground prepared for it. At the best, a “parallel government” (Gene Sharp #198) would have emerged, ready to take power in 2020. Instead, all we got was [genuflects] Tony Fauci. And Cuomo and Newsom butchering their respective Blue States, of course. The difference? With RussiaGate, Democrats were preventing governance. In my alternative scenario, they would have been preparing for it.

And while we’re at it: Think of the left’s programs, and lay them against the PMC’s interests. (1) Free College, even community college. Could devalue PMC credentials. Na ga happen. (2) MedicareForAll. Ends jobs guarantee for means-testing gatekeepers in government, profit-through-denial-of-care gatekeepers in the health insurance business, not to mention opposition from some medical guilds. Na ga happen. (3) Ending the empire (and reining in the national security state). The lights would go out all over Fairfax and Loudon counties. Na ga happen. These are all excellent policy goals. But let’s be clear that it’s not only billionaires who oppose them.

Showing the PMC’s inability to govern, as a class they seem unable to expand their scope of operations into new fields. Consider the possibilities of the “Swiss Cheese Model.” Layered defenses include extensive testing, contact tracing, ventilation systems (not merely blue collar HVAC work, but design and evaluation), and quarantines. If we look at each layer as a jobs guarantee for credentialed professionals and managers, like ObamaCare, the opportunities are tremendous (and that’s before we get to all the training and consulting). And yet the PMC hasn’t advocated for this model at all. Instead, we get authoritarian followership (Fauci) and a totalizing and tribalizing faith in an extremely risky vax-only solution. Why? It’s almost as if they’re “acting against their own self-interest,” and I don’t pretend to understand it.

And I’m not the only one who’s puzzled. “Even if you…


Realignment and Legitimacy

“Man charged after Christmas tree outside Fox News building set on fire, police say” [NBC News] • After so many years, the War on Christmas is real!

This is really too bad:


Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings in the US increased by 431,000 from a month earlier to 11.033 million in October of 2021, beating market expectations of 10.369 million. The largest increases were seen in accommodation and food services (+254,000); nondurable goods manufacturing (+45,000); and educational services (+42,000). Job openings decreased in state and local government, excluding education (-115,000).”

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Inflation: “Six Things They’re Not Telling You About Inflation” [Daily Poster]. “Have you noticed that all the media fearmongering about wage inflation hasn’t mentioned the soaring salaries of corporate executives? Have you noticed how most of the headlines about price increases haven’t mentioned medicine, health insurance, and housing prices that have been skyrocketing for years? Have you noticed that stories about expensive essential goods don’t mention the record profits of the companies selling them? That’s not an accident. The discourse is being rigged and manipulated by media and political voices so that the conversation serves the business interests and donors benefiting from the status quo. Make no mistake, higher prices are annoying, and for 70 percent of households with an annual income below $40,000, they are causing financial hardship. For some people, the rate of inflation has outpaced wage increases. But the bottom 60 percent of earners have more money in their pockets than they did pre-pandemic, even after accounting for inflation, when wage increases and government programs like COVID relief checks and the Child Tax Credit are included. That spending successfully cut poverty nearly in half.”

Commodities: “Food for Thought: The Soy Journey from East to West” [Open Markets]. “With 1.41 billion people, an emerging middle class and a penchant for fried food and animal products, China houses more than half the global hog population (over 400 million heads). As a result, both soybean oil and soybean meal are in greater demand than ever. While China’s soybean imports reached a record 99.8 million metric tons in USDA marketing year 2020/21, imports for 2021/22 are anticipated to grow further, hitting 101 million metric tons, according to the USDA[1]. China’s demand for soybeans is so sizeable that it imports close to 60% of all the soybeans shipped in the world.”

Commodities: “Betting the ranch” [High Country News]. “After the fraud at Easterday Ranches was discovered, owner Gale Easterday steered his pickup onto the off-ramp of the highway and drove head-on into a semi-truck that was delivering his farm’s potatoes.” • Quite a lead. More: “[W]ithin two weeks of his death, everyone would know what Gale Easterday likely knew that day: Tyson Fresh Meats — one of the nation’s largest meat distributors — was investigating Easterday Ranches and slowly discovering that Gale’s son, Cody, had sold them hundreds of thousands of cattle that never existed.”

Retail: “Sneakerheads Have Turned Jordans and Yeezys Into a Bona Fide Asset Class” [Bloomberg]. “What [Joe] Hebert meant by “easy” was this: The day these Yeezys were released, he’d awoken at 3 a.m., signed on to the messaging platform Discord, and rousted 15 members of his ‘cook group,’ a term sneaker resellers use to describe their allies in arbitrage. When the shoes went on sale an hour later, Hebert’s team swarmed the Yeezy Supply website using specialized computer programs such as Cybersole, Kodai, and GaneshBot, each prepped with Hebert’s credit card information and capable of gaming a system meant to limit purchases to one pair per customer. By 6 a.m. the shoes were sold out, and Hebert’s bots had rung up $132,000 on his American Express. His company, West Coast Streetwear, resold the shoes in almost as little time as it had taken to buy them, clearing $20,000 in profit. ‘Anything that’s releasing that I know I can make a guaranteed buck on, I’m gonna go full into,’ Hebert said. ‘That’s just my style.’ Flipping sneakers has been a viable business proposition for decades.”

Tech: “How TikTok Reads Your Mind” [New York Times]. The final paragraph: “One thing that reporting this column has reminded me: The menace that TikTok poses to American national security appears to be entirely hypothetical, and depends on your analysis of both the U.S.-China relationship and the future of technology and culture. But the algorithm’s grasp on what keeps me hooked — between trick tennis shots, Turkish food videos and all the other things it’s figured out I like to watch — did pose a clear and present danger to my ability to finish this column.” • Adding, the tech seems pretty normal.

The Bezzle: “Elizabeth Holmes was the boss. Or was she?” [The Protocol]. Final paragraph: “Leach got Holmes to acknowledge that Balwani wasn’t hiding his opinions about Theranos from her, contradicting a key piece of her testimony from Monday in which she claimed to have a hands-off relationship with his responsibilities and rarely overruled his decisions.”

The Bezzle: “Even in the Metaverse, Not All Identities Are Created Equal” [Bloomberg]. “The complexities of the real world are starting to bleed into the Metaverse — the virtual arena where identity functions as both a reflection on and determinant of social capital. Differences in prices for digital avatars based on race, gender and skin color are emerging among a popular collection of NFTs known as CryptoPunks, belying the utopian and egalitarian ideals touted by the closely connected world of crypto, decentralized finance, blockchain and non-fungible tokens. According to both participants in and observers of the space, these price discrepancies are partly explained by the lack of diversity among the investors who favor these status assets. It’s a demographic that skews mostly male and White. Female CryptoPunks, and those with darker skin colorings, tend to sell for less than avatars with male traits or fair skin. CryptoPunk investors say the price disparity is not a function of individual prejudice or racism, but of the fact that the people currently willing and able to pay top dollar for digital goods aren’t bidding on avatars that don’t look like them.”

The Bezzle: “Hackers Said to Seize $150 Million From BitMart Exchange” [Bloomberg]. “Hackers withdrew about $150 million of cryptocurrencies from BitMart wallets, according to the unverified Twitter account of the exchange’s chief executive officer….. BitMart last week announced the closure of a Series B fundraising round led by New York-based private equity firm Alexander Capital Ventures.” • Whoops.

The Bezzle: “Half a Billion in Bitcoin, Lost in the Dump” [The New Yorker]. “By the time Howells ended his mining project, he had accumulated eight thousand coins—and in the fall of 2013 that stash was worth about $1.4 million. Howells’s salary at his engineering job was a small fraction of that, and he sometimes had to get up at 3 a.m. and travel long distances to make repairs to a town’s emergency-response system. Panicked, he checked his desk drawer. In it, he found the empty hard drive—not the one with the bitcoin folder.” • Oopsie… Howells was apparently a very early miner.

Tech: “Apple AirTags being used by thieves to track high-end cars to steal” [Ars Technica]. “York Regional Police (which serves an area north of Toronto) revealed that it has investigated five incidents in the past three months in which thieves have hidden AirTags on vehicles parked in public. Later, the thieves tracked down their targets to steal the cars at their leisure. Other Bluetooth-based trackers have been available for some time now, but the ubiquity of Apple devices (which communicate with AirTags via Apple’s Find My app) means it’s generally faster and more accurate to track something remotely via an AirTag than a rival device like a Tile. And while they undoubtedly make it easier for users to recover lost stuff, the tags are being exploited by criminals.”

Manufacturing: “Exclusive: SEC probes Tesla over whistleblower claims on solar panel defects” [Reuters]. “The U.S. securities regulator has opened an investigation into Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) over a whistleblower complaint that the company failed to properly notify its shareholders and the public of fire risks associated with solar panel system defects over several years, according to a letter from the agency. The probe raises regulatory pressure on the world’s most valuable automaker, which already faces a federal safety probe into accidents involving its driver assistant systems. Concerns about fires from Tesla solar systems have been published previously, but this is the first report of investigation by the securities regulator.”

Manufacturing: “Giant Tesla Battery Site That Caught Fire Now Open in Australia” [Bloomberg]. • Elon keeps building things that catch fire. I sure hope nothing like that happens to his Mars rocket.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 35 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 22 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 8 at 12:01pm.

Health Care

“Car crash deaths have surged during COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s why” [Los Angeles Times]. “The latest evidence suggests that after decades of safety gains, the pandemic has made U.S. drivers more reckless — more likely to speed, drink or use drugs and leave their seatbelts unbuckled…. Experts say that behavior on the road is likely a reflection of widespread feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression. ‘We might decide: What does a seatbelt or another beer matter, anyway, when we’re in the middle of a pandemic?’ said Shannon Frattaroli, a researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The rise in motor vehicle deaths lines up with other pandemic-era trends: Alcohol sales have soared, drug overdoses have set new records, and homicides have seen their biggest increase on record. COVID-19 marks ‘a sea change in psychology,’ said Frank Farley, a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia, who views reckless driving as a form of rebellion — or what he calls ‘arousal breakout.’ ‘You’ve been cooped up, locked down, and have restrictions you chafe at,’ he said. ‘So if you can have an arousal breakout, you want to take it.’ Before the pandemic, safety on U.S. roadways had been improving for decades, thanks to enforcement of seatbelt laws and the advent of airbags, improved braking and stability control, and other safety features.” • Sounds a lot like deaths of despair.

“UConn Recognized For Its Work Studying Covid-19 in Wastewater [NBC Connecticut]. “[UConn] was just designated as one of the country’s nine ‘Centers of Excellence’ for its wastewater-based epidemiology. UConn was one of the first universities in the nation to test wastewater for Covid-19. ‘It’s a really way to monitor the presence of viral load in a particular sewage system, oftentimes, before people show symptoms,’ explained Rachel O’Neill, director of the Institute for Systems Genomics at UConn. ‘So the biggest challenge with sewage wastewater is that you have large volumes and a lot of dilution, right? So how do you capture enough virus that you can detect it and then measure those levels over time. And so [Kendra Maas, facility director for microbial analysis, resources and services] spent quite a bit of time over at the beginning of the pandemic, really narrowing down this protocol and getting this to work on wastewater on campus. And it allowed us to look at campus as a whole and areas of campus that may be hotspots for increases and Covid cases. And then she was able to expand that to support local communities and do that kind of testing. By adapting that technology to more mobile technology, ones that didn’t require a pump that we could actually just, you know, stick something into a hole and measure SARS-Cov-2 levels.”

[“Documenting COVID-19” (dk)]. “Documenting COVID-19 is a repository of searchable documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic obtained through state open-records laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Click on a state for details about the 284 record sets available as of December 1, 2021, and news coverage that have used those materials.”

“Why do so many people get cancer at exactly age 65?” (locked) [Welcome to Hell World]. • Because that’s when Medicare kicks in, and people postpone treatment for cancer until they can afford it. Barbaric.

Jargon thread:


Fomites thread:


Zeitgeist Watch

Another armed formation:


Seems to be a thing–

“Nevada politician wishes you a Merry Christmas — with guns” [CNN]. “At first glance, it’s like any other holiday card: multiple generations of a family in matching red shirts and jeans standing in front of a tree. Because it’s Fiore, her version features her adult daughters, their husbands and one of her grandchildren holding firearms. ‘It’s up to Americans to protect America. We’re just your ordinary American family,’ Fiore said in a Facebook picture posted December 1 signed, ‘With love & liberty, Michele.'”

XMassie cheer:


“Kyle Rittenhouse says he is destroying AR-15 used in Kenosha shootings” [NBC]. • Real? Or very well-advised?

Class Warfare

“Kellogg to permanently replace striking employees as workers reject new contract” [Reuters]. “Kellogg Co (K.N) said on Tuesday a majority of its U.S. cereal plant workers have voted against a new five-year contract, forcing it to hire permanent replacements as employees extend a strike that started more than two months ago. Temporary replacements have already been working at the company’s cereal plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee where 1,400 union members went on strike on Oct. 5 as their contracts expired and talks over payment and benefits stalled. ‘Interest in the (permanent replacement) roles has been strong at all four plants, as expected. We expect some of the new hires to start with the company very soon,’ Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said. Kellogg also said there was no further bargaining scheduled and it had no plans to meet with the union.” • I remember — old codger that I am — watching Captain Kangaroo in the morning, where Kellog’s was a sponsor. “The best to you each morning.” Ah well, nevertheless.

News of the Wired

“Repetitive Stress” [Long Reads]. I wonder if our collective relationship and acknowledgement of injury is skewed because of the way mass-consumed sport is interwoven with trauma. The history of sport is a history of violence. Many nights of my own childhood were defined by the sound of Chris Berman’s voice on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football, going over the biggest tackles, hits, and sacks of the day. I ingested that without thought, relishing the amplified crunch of one human destroying another. Injuries in popular sports like football or basketball happen at once, suddenly, amid violence that ranges from a casual nudge to a visceral tackle. And though the consistent violence is a kind of trauma, the injuries are more acutely traumatic. A torn ACL. A concussion. A fracture. There are, in these sports, injuries that are “life-threatening,” “career-ending,” and “bone-breaking.” If these are the injuries we collectively witness, do they make us ignore the smaller, more ordinary injuries we walk around with on a daily basis? Sometimes I feel like I can’t admit my hurt.”

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Contact information: 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 (griffen):

Griffen writes: “Mid-November this year, northern GA. Good hiking weather, near Tallulah Gorge.”

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Readers, I could still use just a few more plants, so if you could send some photos to the address below, that would be great! I’d really like to see photos of harvests or completed projects, to inspire people to plan for spring over the winter. Also fall foliage? Thank you!

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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. Sardonia

    The Jussie Smollett trial is into closing arguments and headed to the jury – thought I’d give it a festive holiday feel, with apologies to Rudolph:

    Jussie, the Show Man
    Was a slowly falling star
    With a minor role on a crappy show
    He may have schemed too far

    Jussie, the Show Man
    Made some new Nigerian friends
    Just to buy some herbs, that is what he blurbs
    But that’s not where their story ends

    There must have been some magic in
    Those MAGA hats that night
    For when they placed them on their heads
    Their skin turned glowing white

    Oh, Jussie, the Show Man
    Told us of a horrid crime
    And the empty men on CNN
    Said “This happens all the time.”

    Jussie the Show Man
    Took the media by storm
    Every Fa La La, even Kamala
    Said “This in our country’s norm.”

    There must have been some stupid in
    Our country’s little brain
    Our media tools and assorted fools
    Had been taken once again

    Oh, Jussie the Show Man
    Waits to hear the jury speak
    But whatever the facts we all know the max
    Will be probation for a week

      1. Nikkikat

        Tucker is very resourceful, besides having lots of money his kid needed that crack head Hunter Biden to put his paint brush down and write him a recommendation letter. Good to know people in “high” places.

    1. bradmowrey@gmail.com

      Even my red state south of Minnesota has free tests (the spit kind). I got mine at the public library. They were out the last time I was there, though.

  2. Carolinian

    Re the end of Covid–believe nothing until it has been officially denied by Bill Maher? The Northeast and Midwest are looking grim. Here in SC our summer surge seems to be over–for now.

    1. Rod

      I haven’t even heard Henry say that.
      If so–good on the upstate.

      DHEC: 430 new cases of COVID-19, seven new deaths in SC
      Nov 23, 2021 12:42 PM EST Mike Olson
      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – On Wednesday, the South Carolina Department for Health and Environmental Control reported 866 total cases (526 confirmed, 340 probable) along with 17 deaths (13 confirmed, 4 probable). Those numbers are accurate as of December 8.

      1. Carolinian

        The DHEC reports greatly peak on Wednesdays but 7 deaths or even 17 would be low compared to the summer numbers. And even a few weeks ago case numbers were regularly over 2000/day. So the surge is over for now but obviously not Covid.

    2. Noone from Nowheresville

      Wisconsin: 99% delta. 3 omicron cases plus one from last week. No explanation of the staffing level crisis since the staffing problem predates this surge which is on par for Dec 2020 levels. (hopefully just a momentary blip)

      Doesn’t ask any hard questions at all. Tacitly blames those who haven’t taken the appropriate drugs.

      Wisconsin requests federal help for staff-strapped hospitals
      SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press


      MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s top health official said Wednesday that 270 health care facilities have requested staffing help and the state has asked for medical reserve teams from the federal government to provide relief for long term care facilities facing worker shortages.

      There were 1,630 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Tuesday, up by 212 over the previous week. Nearly all intensive care beds — 97% — are currently filled as are 98% of intermediary care beds, said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake. Hospitals could admit more patients if there was more staff available, she said.

      “We are full. Period,” Eric Conley, CEO of Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital, told Wisconsin Public Radio. “It’s really impacting, impeding care for those patients who are not COVID that need the care getting in because getting to our beds is just very, very hard.”

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    Whoever thought of cash as less safe?
    I know I’ve been in neighborhoods where carrying cash was definitely not safe. Cash was fine – possession of cash was not.

    1. Buzz

      That’s why big bills sometimes smell funny. People transport them under their insoles for safety. Worried about germs? Microwave the cash till it starts to curl up.

    2. fresno dan

      December 8, 2021 at 2:16 pm
      Whoever thought of cash as less safe?
      Maybe the corporations that extract billions in fees and charges in their take* from each
      *take AKA in mafia lingo, as the vig or juice

    3. The Rev Kev

      Yesterday in Oz, the Treasurer – Josh Frydenberg (a detestable figure at the best of times) – was talking about Australia’s move towards digital cash everywhere. Yeah, I bet he did.

      1. polar donkey

        Could the Australians here comment on this question. I’ve met many Australians while traveling around the world. Most were nice and laid back people, more adventurous than average Americans too. The degree of covid restrictions in Australia seems extreme. As a person in the American South, the mindset here is COVID is inevitable so just live your life. If it gets bad in summer or winter, put on a mask and don’t crowd too much if you want. A few businesses have vaccine mandates but that’s it. Is the media over stating the restrictions and protests? What is public opinion? Will politicians get run out of office next election cycle or re-elected.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Personally I think that a factor that has to be considered is that countries like Australia still have a working public healthcare system which means that people understand public health. We held the line in my own State and though the measures could be a pain, it worked very well. But when New South Wales under the tutelage of Scotty from Marketing let it run loose, the game was up.

          In America, pubic health has been severely downgraded through neoliberalism and an extreme profit motive in your healthcare system. I’ve said before that if America had your present healthcare system back in the 50s, then people back then would be told that you just have to ‘learn to live with the (polio) virus’ – and go long in iron-leggings. People forget what was achieved back then. As an example, would you believe that once America had universal child care?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRtaRMDSPMc (8:16 mins)

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I know I’ve been in neighborhoods where carrying cash was definitely not safe

      So have I. I thought that use case was too obvious to mention. That said, replacing cash with digital currency because some neighborhoods are not safe strikes me as lunatic. (Also assuming that digital currency is, in fact, safer. Surely it will be possible to force anybody carrying a cellphone to disgorge their digital currency to a burner?)

  4. John

    COVID-19 marks ‘a sea change in psychology,’ How can a “sea change” be recognized as a result of COVID-19, while the pandemic persists? Behavior has changed, no doubt about that, but will it remain changed once the pandemic subsides? (This assumes that COVID, SARS-coV-2 will subside or evolve into something irrelevant.)

  5. Arizona Slim

    Car crash deaths? Tell me about it!

    Based on what I hear during the late night and early morning hours here in Tucson, I would venture to guess that excessive speed is a major factor. I live near one of Tucson’s major east-west arterial streets and one of the major north-south arterials.

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, the drag racing has been off the charts.

    1. Carolinian

      Mad Max films looking like a better predictor of the future than The Jetsons? We have drag racers here too. Sometimes even middle class mommy cars act like they’re Andretti.

      1. Carolinian

        Indeed. Think you’re the only other person here who may have seen that old movie. I haven’t seen it in decades.

      1. Anthony Stegman

        I interpreted that article from the UK as an attempt to explain away the rise in heart related illnesses that might actually be due to the “vaccines”.

    2. tongorad

      Since the beginning of the pandemic, the drag racing has been off the charts.

      Same-same here in San Antonio, TX. More time for teenagers to work on cars during covid? Car culture is big here, and there seems to be a machismo element to it all. Not a fan.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > drag racing

        Amazing data point.

        Not all that crazy, modulo the crashes. Drag racing is in the open air, and not done in crowds (hopefully the tailgating is minimal).

    3. fresno dan

      Arizona Slim
      December 8, 2021 at 2:30 pm

      1 to 3am is prime time for the drag races here in Fresno

      1. Wukchumni

        1 to 3am is prime time for the drag races here in Fresno

        Is it possible they are merely attempting to flee your fine city faster?

        1. polar donkey

          If only it was 1-3am in Memphis. Street racing is nuts here. 3 months ago, an off duty police officer was racing his charger at 830 Sunday morning. Was going 115mph when he t-boned a sedan with a family in it driving to church. Hit the family’s sedan it split in half. Cop literally drove through them. Killed 2 people in the car. The cop’s car dragged half the other car 200 yards. When cop showed up before the judge, he was released on his on recognizance till the trial.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Street racing is nuts here

            An amazing trrend, which I only know about because of the NC commentariat.

            Also, I’m guessing drag racing and working on the cars is the working class equivalent Netflix for the WFH PMC, so go long auto tools and parts.

  6. Questa Nota

    The Captain Kangaroo era was on the tail end of one type of honesty, that of cereal brands. When a kid could see Sugar-Frosted Flakes, or Sugar Smacks, or similar labels, there was a spoonful of metaphysical certainty in the universe.

    Somehow the new modern brands just didn’t appeal, even as, or maybe especially as, the ingredients lists got longer.

    On other days, when confronted with that bowl of Cream of Wheat, oatmeal, or maybe grits, sugar was one way to make it more palatable. YTMV

    1. allan

      For anybody interested in boycotting, here is a handy graphic with some of their brands.
      The packaging on at least one of these of these gives no indication of connection with Kellogg,
      so they might be doing contract manufacturing.

      1. KLG

        A medical student who is very conscious of her diet told me the invention of corn flakes was all about masturbation, and I found this.

        I am not going to handle this any further.

  7. Buzz

    ‘Payment Choice Act to preserve the right of Americans to pay in cash and to bar merchants from rejecting it. ‘

    Any business around here that doesn’t accept cash gets boycotted by me and my friends. And we do our best to destroy their reputation by word of mouth, Yelp and other means.

    Places that sell food are a sitting duck. You go in, open up an sandwich take a bite of it, or eat the whole thing, then offer to pay in cash. No can do? “Thanks for the free food”.

  8. Juanholio

    Thanks for posting that thread about fomites. Very interesting to see the evidence that flu,cold etc etc also seem to be airborne, because it’s something I have been pondering myself.

    If fomites, then washing hands is an individual’s personal responsibility, and working whilst sick is a sacrifice on the part of the worker. (It’s your problem)

    However, if it’s airborne it’s the employers duty to keep sick people out of the office, and to ensure spaces are well ventilated to protect everyone inside. Working whilst sick is an assault on others. (It’s our problem)

    You can see why Western systems prefer to promote the former and deny the later! Business and individuals losing their time and money to protect others is on a slippery slope to socialism!

    1. cocomaan

      If fomites, then washing hands is an individual’s personal responsibility, and working whilst sick is a sacrifice on the part of the worker. (It’s your problem)

      However, if it’s airborne it’s the employers duty to keep sick people out of the office, and to ensure spaces are well ventilated to protect everyone inside. Working whilst sick is an assault on others. (It’s our problem)

      This is a great observation you made. Succinctly explains why all of this fomite theater goes on and on.

  9. Lee

    “After the fraud at Easterday Ranches was discovered, owner Gale Easterday steered his pickup onto the off-ramp of the highway and drove head-on into a semi-truck that was delivering his farm’s potatoes. W]ithin two weeks of his death, everyone would know what Gale Easterday likely knew that day: Tyson Fresh Meats — one of the nation’s largest meat distributors — was investigating Easterday Ranches and slowly discovering that Gale’s son, Cody, had sold them hundreds of thousands of cattle that never existed.”

    I guess sociopathy runs in the family. I mean actually choosing to risk taking out some innocent in the act of personal self destruction is pretty damned low.

    1. Wukchumni

      I heard a rumor in Silicon Valley that Cody sold the hundreds of thousands of fictional cattle in order to become a unicorn there.

    2. griffen

      That was a pretty detailed article. It is quite the complex arrangement, and prone to the market impacts for selling product to A, company 1 or B, company 2. At least according to the story.

      Makes me appreciate that the series Yellowstone, though a fiction on TV, is pretty revealing as to the qualms of raising large numbers of livestock.

    3. Wukchumni


      The real story in this tale is more about the inability to raise range cattle and make a profit, based upon rising feed costs, et al.

      Last week we drove about 50 miles to Cat Haven to be with the felines and there are a few ways to get there driving through* the foothills, and by my count we saw around 300 cows and the infrastructure for at least 100,000 more, fences, barns, cow chutes, the gamut, all probably state of the art ranching if it was 1951, but it’s 2021 and nobody can make money doing it now.

      *one route takes you by Auckland, Ca., and would be a poor man’s New Zealand and way isolated, more ranching country largely unused, there were a few places for sale.

  10. ven

    Interesting, wide-ranging interview of cardiologist Peter McCullough by Bret Weinstein, covering covid treatment, VAERS, myocarditis, academic research censorship etc


    In the context of McCullough’s work on vaccine-induced myocarditis, there was a bizarre story in the London Evening Standard about 300,000 people (many young) are facing thrombotic related vascular conditions, including pulmonary embolism and myocardial infarction, attributing this to “post-pandemic stress disorder”.

      1. Rainlover

        Fascinating? I would characterize it as terrifying. The evidence presented of malfeasance at the highest levels of both the government and the medical establishment is astounding, even after all I have read here at NC. Please do watch this interview.

        However I was taken aback by both Dr. McCullough’s and Brett Weinstein’s repeated assertions that one can contract covid only once and are thereafter completely immune. Neither gentleman cited any evidence for this assertion. I’d like more info on that topic as more than one NC poster has claimed to have had covid more than once. I’m confused.

        1. Jeotsu

          And the average person in many districts of Iran has had covid 3+ times.
          Lots of disinformation swirling around, and many people trying to build narratives.I’ve grown to distrust any theory presented with complete confidence. It is an age of uncertainty, anyone who pretends otherwise is a charlatan or a fool.

          1. Robert Hahl

            Agreed. He is a creepy rich guy pretending to be smart, like Bill Maher pretending to be funny.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Weinstein

            I can’t imagine taking anything Weinstein says seriously. And if there’s some study making the rounds that shows up in the London Evening Standard, you can bet the crew here at NC will do better at assessing it than a London tabloid. Now, doing the research and posting a link to the study would be a real value-add.

        2. saywhat?

          However I was taken aback by both Dr. McCullough’s and Brett Weinstein’s repeated assertions that one can contract covid only once and are thereafter completely immune.

          That’s part of the reason I found it fascinating – a contrary assertion from someone ostensibly in the know in an otherwise entirely reasonable interview, I thought.

          And hey, if we hope for a nasal vaccine to confer sterilizing immunity then a natural infection acquired through the nose might do the same, no?

          Anyway, it’s the first time I’ve ever encounted Dr. Peter McCullough so I’m not making any judgements yet pro or con.

          1. Basil Pesto

            The mission of the Brownstone Institute – which is, in many ways, the spiritual child of the Great Barrington Declaration


            1. ven

              The articles referenced are often scientific papers. But appreciate ad hominem attacks are far easier to engage in, rather than seeing another perspective.

              1. Basil Pesto

                From the wiki on argumentum ad hominem:

                Valid ad hominem arguments occur in informal logic, where the person making the argument relies on arguments from authority such as testimony, expertise, or on a selective presentation of information supporting the position they are advocating. In this case, counter-arguments may be made that the target is dishonest, lacks the claimed expertise, or has a conflict of interest.

                Moreover, the natural/herd immunity arguments as applied to Covid 19 have been so thoroughly examined and repudiated here and elsewhere in the past nearly-2 years that to take them seriously at this point beggars belief, unless some new evidence has emerged that Covid infection does indeed confer herd immunity, which you would think would be self-evident by now, heading as we are into year three. I have no interest in taking the deceitful ad hoc rationalisations of those psychopathic cretins seriously.

                So, again:


              2. Yves Smith

                Your link is to unadulterated antivax quackery.

                It is one thing to say that people who got Covid should be given immunity credit and not required to vax until X months after their infection.

                But anyone who ADVOCATES contracting Covid as a way to acquire immunity, as opposed to getting a vaccine, which is what the intro clearly does, is engaging in sheer dishonesty. And you bring that garbage here?

                This is agnotology, a violation of our written site Policies. If you post anything remotely like this tripe again, you will be blacklisted. And if you try to jailbreak, we will expunge your entire comments history.

  11. allan

    Justice Department Told Deutsche Bank Lender May Have Violated Criminal Settlement [WSJ]

    The Justice Department has informed Deutsche Bank AG DB 0.86% that the German lender may have violated a criminal settlement when it failed to tell prosecutors about an internal complaint in its asset-management arm’s sustainable investing business, according to people familiar with the matter. …

    U.S. authorities learned of the issue in an August Wall Street Journal article, rather than from the bank, which had ongoing disclosure and compliance obligations under the earlier criminal settlement [oopsie] …

    That earlier criminal settlement was struck in January and related to Deutsche Bank’s involvement in overseas corruption and market-manipulation. Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $130 million and entered into a deferred-prosecution agreement, which allows companies to avoid being indicted in exchange for staying out of trouble for a period of several years and flagging any potential problems as soon as the bank finds out about them. …

    For years Deutsche Bank was considered one of the world’s most troubled banks. In the U.S. it paid hefty fines over money-laundering and mortgage-securities scandals. Also hanging over Deutsche Bank was its longtime role as lender to former President Donald Trump, which put the bank in the middle of political fights and congressional investigations.

    Last year, the New York Department of Financial Services fined Deutsche Bank $150 million over its dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and other lapses. Deutsche Bank said at the time it had learned from its mistakes in the case. …

    Deutsche gets a Get-Out-of-Jail card from its old client DJT on his way out of D.C.,
    and still can’t stop itself from reverting to its old ways.
    If Deutsche were a petty criminal in Louisiana, it would be facing life in Angola.

  12. dcblogger

    Kshama Sawant lost, India Walton lost, Nina Turner lost, and last year Lee Carter lost. It has not been a good year for socialists. I am very discouraged.

    1. JBird4049

      Well, the Empire did strike back, with their Dark Star’s hellbeam of endless money. Not to mention the endless corruption, backstabbing, legal chicanery, and bulls—-. However, there is next time. For now. Who has the torpedoes this time?

      And is it kinda crazy that our lives can be made to resemble a space opera without too much hyperbole?

    2. Michael McK

      But we are all aware of them and the machine has had to fight like hell to get rid of them. Many ‘right wing’ types are becoming anti-corporate. I campaigned door to door in a purple area last spring and met many people who expressed contempt for “liberals” while saying they would only vote for Bernie or Trump. They loved learning about public banking and MMT financing solar panels on their roofs. They wanted the river protected so they could fish like when they were kids. There is hope and you have many allies.

    3. QuicksilverMessenger

      No judgement either way on this, but there was another ballot drop today and Sawant closed to with 246 votes. King County elections estimates a remaining 1,200 ballots to be counted. She would need about 60.5% of those to survive the recall. She received about 63% of the ballot drop today so definitely possible

    4. Soredemos

      In distant Moscow, the corpse of Lenin twitches.

      He warned us about the dangers of liberal ‘democracy’, but we never listened. If we keep playing their game, they’re gonna keep curbstomping us.

  13. Mike

    I know you guys love your acronyms but there are those mere mortals who don’t live and breathe them. Amongst others I haven’t figured out for sure is “PMC” – there are about 800 choices.

    Someone please take pity and let us in on the secret.


      1. Swamp Yankee

        Yeah, apropos Mike’s comment, I might suggest there be a glossary or list of acronyms and so on. I think it may not be apparent to long-time readers, but Naked Capitalism (NC) has definitely evolved it’s own culture and it can be perplexing to outsiders and newcomers.

        The standing sections of essay-text in the 2 PM Water Cooler that are reproduced each day also might be explained in any glossary as a kind of formal (in the sense of form) part of the website; I think this might help clear up any confusion and make the website more comprehensible to a first-time reader.

        Just a suggestion, your mileage may vary (YMMV, as is often said ’round these parts).

        1. Brian Beijer

          I have a suggestion. Why don’t we, the commenters, agree not to use acronyms on Naked Capitalism? When did people become so busy, or lazy, to take the few extra seconds to write out what they want to communicate? Why do people place the burden on others to understand their abbreviated thoughts? I can understand teenagers doing this in an attempt to be one of the “in crowd” while also being difficult for adults to understand. It mystifies me though what motivates adults to mimic adolescent fads. Texting has ruined all languages worldwide.
          I apologize for sounding like an old curmudgeon. The popularity of using texting acronyms in other formats really irritates me. If my sixth grade English teacher were still alive; she would be rapping a LOT of knuckles with her ruler.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              This is solid, extremely, extremely solid (and is that a Leadbelly reference in your name? Wonderful!)

  14. marym

    “A conservative group issued a report Tuesday [12/07/2021] saying it found no evidence of widespread fraud in Wisconsin’s presidential election but believed officials did not closely follow all the state’s voting laws.

    The report from the [ the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty] concluded there were no indications of widespread fraud and there was nothing suspicious about voter turnout or the timing of the vote tally. In addition, voting machines operated properly, the report found.”

    “As state legislators across the country continue to push for so-called “audits” and other investigations into the 2020 election, some independent groups are taking it upon themselves to hit the pavement — going door-to-door and asking people about their vote in the last presidential election.“ (with links to local news stories in AZ, CO, PA, UT)

    1. Michael Ismoe

      The point of the audits isn’t the 2020 election; it’s laying the groundwork for 2024.

      By calling the 2020 election “fair” they are proving how non-partisan they are. The real work will come in 2024 when they see “fraud” everywhere and cast doubt on those results. Never look backwards when the target is in front of you.

      1. marym

        It would be surprising at this point if Republicans cared about appearing fair or non-partisan in any conventional sense of the term. They’ve been investigating and never finding “fraud” for a long time. The process and the propaganda serve a number of purposes in the long game of ensuring permanent minority control.

      2. discouraged in WI

        We can also find interesting the over $600K of public funds being spent by the former Republican judge(?) leading the investigation, money which is going straight into the pockets of other Republican investigators. Looting the public fisc, anyone?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty

      I am becoming highly allergic to the words “freedom” and “liberty” because I don’t think they mean what the people who use them think they mean.

  15. MonkeyBusiness

    Worried about the future? Don’t be, especially once we’ve nuked Russia.


    “On Fox News, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) floats the idea of bombing Russian military assets — and says he wouldn’t even rule out a nuclear strike”

    Maybe he’s just speaking to his constituents, because Reps just have to show that they are TOUGH.

    1. Bill Smith

      Luckily it is not likely he will ever be in the position to be able to do that.

      But WTF? He’s 70, failing mental factices?

    2. Michael Ismoe

      Marcy Kaptur was on Morning Joe this am telling us that Biden’s biggest fault was neglected to “punch Putin in the nose.”

      WTF? Marcy is the head of the “Ukranian Congressional Caucus”. I wish someone would start a caucus for working people who are struggling to keep their heads above water. It might prove popular.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Marcy is the head of the “Ukranian Congressional Caucus”.

        Oh, sheesh. Kaptur was sound on housing, too, back in the foreclosure crisis days. Shows you were the money is, I guess.

  16. Wukchumni

    What I don’t get about the Massie Family Xmas shot is everybody else is clearly aiming @ Santa Claus & assorted reindeer, with the exception of the paterfamilias who i’ll just assume is to sweep the chimney with M 60 machine gun fire in case the first line of defense fails?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think I said that putting AR-15s into the hands of children is demented not to say psychotic. Those things aren’t designed for hunting deer. They are designed to kill people in large numbers, quickly and efficiently. And if Massie and her ilk think they’re going to be overwhelmed by Brown People, as in some soft of zombie movie, they’re out of their minds. The only conclusion I can come to is that the AR-15s cannot be for defensive purposes. And that’s an unsettling thought.

      1. Lee

        They are also good for protecting oneself from a charging sounder of feral hogs, should one ever find oneself in such a situation. At which point one might ask oneself, “HTF did I ever get myself into such a situation?”

      2. Wukchumni

        It’s a sick country full of downer humans clutching high velocity pearls, but we apparently wouldn’t have it any other way.

  17. Noone from Nowheresville

    Re: Democrats’ IRS bank account monitoring plan

    $10,000 is also less than the annual IRS exemption for gift tax for individuals.

    1. Juanholio

      Crypto scam artists and money launderers are currently depositing ~$9,999 per account, per day, tax free.

      I say, “Let’s get ’em!”.

      1. tegnost

        “Democrats’ IRS bank account monitoring plan would affect 87M Americans

        There are 87 million crypto scammers and money launderers in the us?
        Tell me more!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s always good to have an excuse. The real answer here is to outlaw crypto (which the elite will not do, coming to the conclusion as they are that crypto is useful for fraud, and hence another item in their portfolio of frauds). I’d rather be let alone, and if crypto artists scamming each other is the price, then so be it.

    2. tegnost

      when they get that in there I swear I will never vote for a democrat again, and I will vote every chance I get.

      1. Juanholio

        Are you up to some mischief?

        I always assume the IRS know, or could know, everything about my bank transactions. This rule wouldn’t make any difference to me, but it would crimp the drip selling that many crypto scammers currently enjoy tax free access to.

        I am all for it. F ’em.

        1. tegnost

          so yes there are 87 million crypto scammers and money launderers?
          Link please.
          Otherwise you’re imagining things.
          Which billionaire will pay more tax due to this?
          (easy answer…none…they don’t pay taxes)

    1. griffen

      Nearest to a simple trail from the main visitor center, one tower (dismantled) is still there. It’s a pretty impressive view. The hike itself was not that long overall, maybe 4 to 5 miles taking the route we did. Lot of steps down into the gorge, followed by a lot of steps back up.

  18. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “Half a Billion in Bitcoin, Lost in the Dump” [The New Yorker]. “By the time Howells ended his mining project, he had accumulated eight thousand coins—and in the fall of 2013 that stash was worth about $1.4 million. Howells’s salary at his engineering job was a small fraction of that, and he sometimes had to get up at 3 a.m. and travel long distances to make repairs to a town’s emergency-response system. Panicked, he checked his desk drawer. In it, he found the empty hard drive—not the one with the bitcoin folder.”
    Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
    A tale of a fateful slip
    That started from this modem port
    Aboard this tiny ship.

    The mate was a mighty mining man,
    The folder safe and sure.
    Bitcoins set sail that day
    For a three hour tour, a three hour tour.

    The memory started getting rough,
    The tiny blips were tossed,
    In spite of the courage of the fearless crew
    The money would be lost, the money would be lost.

    No Apple 13 phone, no cell sites, no Ferrari motor car,
    Not a single luxury,
    Like Robinson Crusoe,
    It’s primitive as can be.

    So join us here each week my friend,
    You’re sure to get a smile,
    From half a billion in Bitcoin castaways,
    Here on “Gigabyte Isle.”

  19. The Rev Kev

    Was thinking about Lambert’s chart and I was remembering a part from the book “Andromeda Strain” where they were using biological warfare maps to get an understanding on this virus’s spread. I wonder then if they have also been using such maps to model the spread of this Coronavirus in the US. You can bet that Fort Detrick in Maryland is getting quite good data for their own researches.

    1. drsteve0

      What’s really spooky is that book (and the movie) are from a half century ago, plenty of time for refinement. No foil necessary.

  20. Noone from Nowheresville

    PMC: A couple of thoughts occurred while I was reading Lambert’s intro again. Yep, I often re-read it.

    It’s interesting to me that in a sense the New Dealers created / solidified what we now refer to as the PMC. Virtually free college: yep, we had that. The Great Society & Medicare: Yep, we got that just not far enough. Empire: well one could argue that perhaps the PMC was created (or flipped) to serve Empire and to oversee the lower classes. Especially if one were embarrassed by their former relationships to said class. Just another brick in the thought experiment wall.

    With RussiaGate, Democrats were preventing governance.

    I can go with they might prevent Trump from any actual populist thought / trick / gimmick he might have tried to pull. Big maybe. Prevented Republican’s from governing? No, I can’t go there. I remember the list Trump rolled out, judges, taxes, Supreme Justices, regulation rollback, etc. That seemed like a pretty impressive list at the time with no real comeback from the Democrats.

    So I have to ask myself what did RussiaGate really prevent? I’d say perhaps the potential (and only a small potential at that) of policies which might have geared toward people who gave the status quo the finger by voting in 2016 for Sanders in the primaries or Trump in the general? It did have some watchable tv. Two impeachments. A billionaire on stage at a national presidential debate tongue lashed by a female senator. Good stuff.

    I say what RussiaGate did was further prevented (or perhaps delayed) people from demanding a new New Deal through national wage worker solidarity. Or the electoral process. First, we had Hopey & Changey. Then, a direct duck you bird. Now, we’re back to adults in the room. Can’t wait to see the new season in 2024.

    1. Harold

      Some say it turned the spotlight away from further investigation into the Clinton e-mails for evidence of influence peddling and money laundering.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Lambert’s intro again. Yep, I often re-read it.

      Thank you. It’s a hard topic I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I figured this was a good way to finally turn it into a post.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > RussiaGate

      Let’s not forget the part about fomenting war with Russia (which also prevents “national wage worker solidarity”). International wage worker solidarity, too.

  21. Lee

    For those wanting to keep up on Covid in South Africa, Dr. John Campbell goes into detail in his latest video. His data are from https://www.nicd.ac.za/

    The link on that site isn’t loading properly at the moment. I assume it’s being updated or perhaps overwhelmed by traffic.

    In any event, the news is consistent with what has been previously reported. Omicron is rapidly replacing Delta, there is high community prevalence of the latter, and so far it is causing less severe disease even in the unvaccinated, who represent 99% of those hospitalized—25% of the population are fully vaccinated, 15% partially.

    It is presenting different symptoms:

    Body aches and pains

    Muscle pains


    Tiredness (1 to 2 days)

    Slight sore throat

    No severe cough

    No runny nose

    Decrease in patients coming to doctors.

    1. Yves Smith

      South Africa has at least 70% seropositivity, maybe 80%. So the vax rate is misleading. More people have already gotten Covid than are vaccinated in the US. And getting Covid confers more durable immunity than the vaccines.

      The fact that Campbell ignores the high level of previous infections discredits anything he has to say.

      And this milder symptoms is nonsense in light of the sharp rise in hospitalizations. RSA has a very young population, which with wild type and Delta often had totally asymptomatic cases. RSA has done a pretty good job of vaccinating the elderly, while the young are almost entirely unvaccinated between a combo of perceiving it not to be necessary and effective messaging by an anti-vax lobby. RSA is now seeing hospitalization of babies and toddlers, which was not a feature before.

      1. Robert

        I read that we have 198mm fully vaccinated here in the U.S, and that we have totaled 48.3mm known cases of covid infection. These figures are as of December 6 and 7, 2021. I found these figures on a page at NPR after a really quick search on Duck Duck Go.
        When you state that “more people have already gotten covid than are vaccinated in the US”,
        where are you finding those numbers? Thanks.

        1. Lee

          The CDC estimates that from February 2020–September 2021 there were:

          146.6 Million
          Estimated Total Infections

          124.0 Million
          Estimated Symptomatic Illnesses

          7.5 Million
          Estimated Hospitalizations

          Estimated Total Deaths

          But as Lambert is fond of saying: ” I know the data is bad. This is the United States.” Which is to say we are crap at surveillance testing here in the U.S. so the figure for total cases may well be too low. And it is a bit dated as well.

      2. Lee

        Campbell on more than one occasion has mentioned the importance of the high seropositive rate in South Africa and the role it plays in all human populations. This particular segment is one of a series of videos that are hot takes of the South African situation since the rise of Omicron.

        And as for discrediting anything he has to say, that’s rather over the top and I heartily disagree. He provides a great deal of helpful information, in a manner accessible to laypersons that is based on current official data, more or less reliable media sources, which he recognizes as such, and published and preprint scientific papers.

        Again, he frequently, if not on all occasions, mentions the role acquired natural immunity to Covid as it relates to its protective function against disease and as a factor qualifying persons for vaccine passports in various countries, which I have previously posted here at NC.

        In the particular video under discussion, and in others, he is careful to point out that we are in early days as regards Omicron and that any conclusions we draw from current indications is provisional and subject to change based on further developments.

        1. Basil Pesto

          I have little interest in Campbell’s opinion on the emerging state of Omicron (I have some interest in his opinion on other things. Notably I sought the aspiration of my 2nd AZ injection today based on his reporting. But I probably wouldn’t have bothered if aspiration wasn’t such a low-risk, trivially easy thing to do. More importantly, it is well within his competency to opine on as a nurse). While he was admirably switched on early, the fact remains that he is not an epidemiologist, does not appear interested in canvassing a broad range of epidemiologist opinion (which is hard to do when your format is 20 minute video presentations) and runs the continued risk of exceeding his analytical competency. He himself acknowledges this, yes, but circumspection and youtube presentation do not play well together and audiences can get carried away and promiscuous with their trust. There’s no reason I would turn to Campbell for Omicron news and not, say, Gurdasani.

          In the particular video under discussion, and in others, he is careful to point out that we are in early days as regards Omicron and that any conclusions we draw from current indications is provisional and subject to change based on further developments.

          If that is the case, perhaps it is better to keep quiet. Being early and wrong when you have a large and loyal audience, even with an “early days though” caveat, can have serious, long-lasting repercussions. Premature misconceptions can be hard to shake, as evinced by continued banging on about the chimera of “natural immunity”.

          1. Lee

            Rather than eliminating Campbell from the list of those from whom I seek information, I will check out and possibly add Deepti Gurdasani. Thanks for the tip.

            As for credentials. I also listen to the highly credentialed group at TWIV, and they often make speculative statements that turn out later to be incomplete or wrong, which they will correct. They are prone to hueing to the dominant narrative, which most here agree is problematic.

        2. Lee

          P.S. If one searches: “Dr. John Campbell and acquired immunity”, Google coughs up a half-dozen Campbell videos. I believe there are more but Google is what it is.

          See for example this one from October 2, 2021, Natural versus vaccine immunity (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bamaEMftg4), based on the only U.S. data then available from all the way back in May. As always he provides links to papers he cites. He takes issue with the FDA and CDC statements that vaccines produce better, more long lasting protection than does natural acquired immunity.

          To his credit he regularly employs the caveat that his conclusions are based upon a balance of evidence at the moment as he currently understands it, and he does post retractions and clarifications when his previous statements are found to be inaccurate or mistaken.

  22. jim truti

    It will be interesting to see how justice will be served to Holmes who lost billions of investor money and compare that with how Martin Shkreli was punished for making a lot of money for the investors.

  23. Jason Boxman

    So on Sneakerheads, it’s worth noting that by denying others supply, this action creates its own demand in the secondary market. Well played.

  24. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Chanced on a video as a I was preparing to hit the wooden hills which features a presentation given to the Italian senate in regard to the green pass, given by professor Marco Cosentino PhD head of the Italian medical scientific commission – main research interest immunopharmacology. He submits various trials/studies with summations & this is the best translation I could come up for his conclusion :

    ” Vaccinations have no appreciable effect on the circulation of sars-covid-19 and therefore a dangerous misunderstanding to found any super green pass that induces misunderstood senses of security and above all allows the circulation of a huge number of potentially contagious people.

    the benefits of vaccination have very specific limits of intensity and duration and are very different in age and risk. The risks of vaccination are only partially known and yet – despite the limitations of adverse reaction detection systems – they are comparable or greater than the benefits for many catagories. For these reasons, the funds of the green pass and the vaccination obligation as tools for the promotion of public health and safety are not only inconsistent but make these two tools risky for collective and individual safety “.

    He cites a study that investigated the reporting of ADR’s by using teams of GP’s & hospital docs from various countries to fully concentrate on recording them – basically between 80 – 90 % underreported. I have no idea whether his presentation will make a difference politically, but as the protests appear to be holding steady including a very good al fresco performance of Nessun Dorma, a massive crowd at the Circus Maximus by candlelight & the resurrection of the old anti Nazi partisan anthem Bella Ciao, I guess his words will resonate with them.

    PDF – https://people.eecs.berkeley.edu/~daw/teaching/c79-s13/readings/AdverseDrugReactions.pdf

    Bueno Notte.

  25. Jason Boxman

    On Bit Coin,

    Many of the first people who actually used bitcoin as money embraced the concept for a different reason: cryptocurrency transactions were untraceable. If someone paid you in bitcoin, you could evade taxes. If you bought drugs with bitcoin, the money you spent couldn’t be tied to you.

    Wait, what? By design the digital ledger confers nonrepudiation on every entry. By definition, it is not untraceable. So this passage is literally antithetical to what a blockchain actually does.

    Of course, the BC ID of an illicit transaction must be tied to you, so in that sense, it is anonymous. But that’s not at all the same as mercurial. These are completely disparate concepts.

    On the Bitcoin network, a central record, called a blockchain, certifies the authenticity of all the coins that have been mined—close to nineteen million to date—but doesn’t reveal who has them. Imagine a list of all the world’s pieces of gold which lacks the names of their owners.

    But apparently gets it correct later.

  26. William Hunter Duncan

    Inflation: “Six Things They’re Not Telling You About Inflation” [Daily Poster].

    Can anyone explain to me why in articles like this, the fact that the Federal Reserve has been printing $100+ billion a month since the Fall of 2019, before the Pandemic, which is like 2.5 trillion to float the big banks, is never mentioned? I mean, printing so much money above baseline causes inflation, right? Because I feel like I’ve been saying that for YEARS and I don’t hear ANYONE ELSE talking about it, so I want to make sure I’m not (totally) FAMILY BLOG crazy.

    Because a friend just read to me from an article saying that in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs something like 30% of houses are now owned by private equity holding companies, and I am assuming that is a direct result of the Fed feeding credit lines for the big dogs with that funny money, and that seems to me like a big FAMILY BLOG deal, so like, again, am I losing my FAMILY BLOG mind? Because I feel like I’m the only FAMILY BLOG guy in America talking about this, except for maybe the FAMILY BLOG conspirators. Right?

    Or is it like some silent agreement, it’s the only thing keeping like a quadrillion of liability overhang from crushing this walking dead empire like a bug?

    1. Robert Hahl

      The silence is real. I once asked Paul Krugman from an audience mic how the Kennedy family fortune could be only $400 million in the early ‘80s, but now $400 million represents ten years running IBM for one person, or a single good year on Wall Street. He hemmed and hawed, then finally said, “Well, it’s not funny money,” and then moved on to more weighty issues.

    2. cnchal

      Pirate Equity is partially funded by public pension funds reaching for the investment stars. So, not directly funded by FED printing.

      What that implies while considering that 30% of house are (I don’t believe it – intuition and gut feeling is my guide on this) “owned by Pirate Equity holding companies” is FAMILY BLOG insane.

      Public sector pension funds, which get their money from property and income taxes and fees imposed on local residents are investing in the immiseration of their neighbors that do not work in the public sector, by extracting ever increasing rent from them.

      1. William Hunter Duncan

        hmmmmm…I hadn’t thought of that. I know they have been buying up Ag land. I should probably see about what my Union is putting our money in.

    1. Psucki

      We have the best means testing program in the world! We’re going to take what we’ve learned there and use it to make the Covid testing better.

      Are you against making tests better?

    1. Acacia

      Some others were asking about this too, upthread. It’s been discussed a lot here at NC, but I agree with the suggestion that a link to a glossary of sorts might be a nice addition to the water cooler boilerplate. Meanwhile, I’ve found this article helpful:

      On the Origins of the Professional-Managerial Class: An Interview with Barbara Ehrenreich

      “Professional-managerial class” (PMC), a term coined by Barbara and John Ehrenreich in a 1977 essay for Radical America, has recently emerged from academic obscurity as a shorthand, of sorts, for technocratic liberalism, or wealthier Democratic primary voters, or the median Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member, depending on who you ask.

      And this, from 2020, also has some interesting analysis:

      How Warren, and the Professional Class Left Undermined Sanders 2020

    2. WIlliam Hunter Duncan

      One of the primary supporters and benefiters of the destruction of the working class.

  27. lance ringquist

    no free trade does not help the poor, its the exact opposite. tariffs are a tax on the rich, and a boon for the poor

    Richest 1% Took 38% of New Global Wealth Since 1995. The Bottom Half Got Just 2%

    A new report finds that global inequities in wealth and income are “about as great today as they were at the peak of Western imperialism in the early 20th century.”


    and the author is typical, thinks that this can be attacked globally, that all countries will impose a tax on the rich together in a kumbya moment, not gonna happen. its time that the head in the cloud type, that has no real understanding of sovereignty, governance, and democratic control, get laughed out of the house.

    MLK understood that type.

    Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
    –Martin Luther King Jr’

  28. lance ringquist

    i do not trust him, no mention ever of unions and economic rights, but he is right on this,

    marco rubio now calls it, what i call it, nafta billy clintons free trade is the worst policy blunder in american history

    rubio says we should have known, but nafta billy did marco, he was to busy selling us out to wall street

    rubio now says what i say, it will be almost impossible in our life time to over come nafta billy clintons disastrous policies

    China trade deal strangled American dream: Rubio

    its what triggered the 2008 collapse of the american economy, and is set to do it again


  29. Skunk

    Good point: “A lot of action in the charts today. On the word ‘mild.’ To me, ‘mild’ means ‘status quo,’ i.e. ‘We’re enduring the present situation, and what is to come will be no worse.’ Well, the present situation, whether you look at cases, deaths, or hospitalizations — isn’t mild at all. In a civilized country, 812,205 deaths — we lost 750,000 in the Civil War — would be regarded as a catastrophe. Yet we soldier on. It’s weird. I don’t understand the mass psychology at all.”

    I wonder too if ‘mild’ simply means the absence of acute respiratory symptoms. By this definition, HIV would be ‘mild.’ There’s been some evidence posted before in NC that some coronaviruses are adept at changing their tropism. Even if a particular variant, e.g., Omicron, does not have a tropism for the respiratory tract it may still be dangerous and lead to chronic illness that we do not yet understand. Too soon to draw conclusions.

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