2:00PM Water Cooler 1/27/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

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

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

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Biden Adminstration

“Biden Administration Mounts Daring Mission To Evacuate Hunter’s Remaining Cash From Ukraine” [Babylon Bee].

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“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson eyed as potential replacement to Justice Stephen Breyer” [ABC]. “With the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer at the end of the current term, one name keeps rising to the top of the list of potential replacements: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Jackson, whom President Joe Biden nominated to replace Merrick Garland on the high-profile D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals when he picked Garland for attorney general, is a Harvard Law graduate who served as a clerk to Breyer from 1999-2000 and interviewed with former President Barack Obama for former Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacancy in 2016…. Jackson was the first Black woman confirmed to an appellate court in a decade and is one of six Black female circuit court judges currently serving. She is also one of just 39 active Black female federal judges out of 793 total… The 51-year-old also has some bipartisan appeal. She was confirmed 53-44 to her current seat in June 2021, drawing votes from three Republicans — Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska….. Other top contenders include Judge Leondra Kruger, of the California Supreme Court; Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, of the US District Court Georgia; and Judge J. Michelle Childs, of the US District Court South Carolina.” • Not Kamala. What a shame.

“Breyer’s retirement renews focus on the Black female jurists who could replace him” [WaPo]. “[A] confirmation hearing slated for next week will put the spotlight on yet another Black woman who is being catapulted into the vacancy discussion: J. Michelle Childs, a federal judge and a favorite of House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.). Childs seized the attention of legal observers when Biden unexpectedly nominated her last month to serve on the high-profile D.C. circuit, surprising Washington area lawyers who had anticipated a pick with local ties.” Surely that would be a little unseemly? To pull Childs’s DC circuit nomination and then nominate her for the Supremes? Clyburn must be kicking himself — a pleasurable prospect — because he didn’t advise is protege to hold out for Breyer’s spot.

“U.S. economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021, fastest full-year clip since 1984, despite ongoing pandemic” [WaPo]. ““This is no accident,” President Biden said in a statement Thursday morning, referring to the GDP report. “My economic strategy is creating good jobs for Americans, rebuilding our manufacturing, and strengthening our supply chains here at home to help make our companies more competitive.” And an interesting data point: “In a sign that consumers are starting to return to old habits, separate data shows that after almost two years of sweeping cuts and slow growth, museums and libraries are returning to pre-pandemic spending levels. In Muskogee, Okla., the Five Civilized Tribes Museum saw gift-shop sales grow in 2021, thanks to sales of books and crafts, even as attendance fell slightly.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

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, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

“America’s Asymmetric Civil War” [Michael Lind, The Tablet (gulag)]. “There are no red states or blue states. Instead, there are blue urban cores floating in a sea of red. Even the exurbs and rural areas in blue states like California and New York tend to be overwhelmingly red and Republican…. The big divide is within metro areas, between the blue downtowns and their inner-ring suburbs that are home to the American oligarchy and its children and retainers, and the red exurbs; outer-ring suburbs tend to be battlegrounds between the Democratic and Republican coalitions. This geographic concentration hurts the Democrats in the Senate and the Electoral College…. The Democratic coalition is an hourglass, top-heavy and bottom-heavy with a narrow middle. In addition to hoovering up the votes of college-educated Americans, the Democrats are the party of the Big Rich—tech billionaires and CEOs, investment banking houses, and the managerial class that spans large corporate enterprises and aligned prestige federal agencies like the Justice Department and the national security agencies. This mostly white and Asian American group cannot win elections without the overwhelming support of Black Americans, and smaller majorities of Hispanic and Asian American voters, clustered in the downtowns and inner suburbs. The high cost of living in Democratic hub cities forces out the multiracial middle; the exceptions tend to be civil servants like police and first responders and teachers who can (sometimes) afford to live in or near their downtown jobs. The social base of the Democrats is neither a few liberal billionaires nor the more numerous cohorts of high-school educated minority voters; it is the disproportionately white college-educated professionals and managers. These affluent but not rich overclass households dominate the Democratic Party and largely determine its messaging, not by virtue of campaign contributions or voting numbers, but because they very nearly monopolize the staffing of the institutions that support the party—K-12 schools and universities, city and state and federal bureaucracies, public sector unions, foundations, foundation-funded nonprofit organizations, and the mass media. By osmosis, professional and managerial values and material interests and fads and fashions permeate the Democratic Party and shape its agenda. While the liberal Big Rich cluster in silver apartments and offices in trophy skyscrapers in the inner core of blue cities, the elites of the outer suburbs and exurbs tend to be made up of the Lesser Rich—millionaire car dealership owners, real estate agents, oil and gas drilling equipment company owners, and hair salon chain owners. This group of proprietors—the petty bourgeoisie, to use Marxist terminology, compared to the Democratic haute bourgeoisie and its professional allies—forms the social base of the Republican Party, despite efforts by Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, and others to rebrand the GOP as a working-class party.” • Well worth a read (though I don’t think much of “osmosis” as a causal mechanism).

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For real?

Or is James offering potential rival Teachout a poisoned chalice?

I liked Booker from when I heard him on the Trillbillies:

But maybe we have some Kentucky readers who can comment.

Republican Funhouse

“Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover” [Axios]. “Mike Pompeo’s political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021…. The spending highlights the premium Pompeo places on upgrading his personal and political brand, amid a renewed presence on the airwaves. Pompeo most recently made headlines when the New York Post reported about his stark drop in weight, in which he lost 90 pounds in six months. He denied any political calculus for 2024 — but not beyond.” • Pompeo for President? Really? Still, losing 90 pounds shows impressive commitment. Hard to believe anybody would do that for a gig on FOX.

“Jailed Oath Keeper’s Estranged Wife Shares Snaps of ‘Escape Tunnels’ Dug Into Backyard” [Daliy Beast]. “When a federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed pending his trial for conspiracy charges on Wednesday, they cited testimony by Rhodes’s estranged wife, who alleged that he installed “elaborate escape tunnels” in his backyard. On Wednesday, she posted the receipts. Tasha Adams shared several snaps on Twitter appearing to show Rhodes snugly tucked into a muddy hole and wrote in a separate tweet: “Folks if you ever feel tempted to rent a backhoe and dig escape tunnels in the backyard of your rental house, keep in mind it may back to haunt you if you later attempt to overthrow the U.S. government.” Rhodes is arguably the highest-profile person charged for his involvement int he Capitol riot.” • I’m trying to think of a successful revolutionary who dug tunnels in his backyard, but I’m coming up empty.


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Not unfair:

And not even a political issue….

“Army of millionaires fuel Senate primary spending spree” [Politico]. “Months before the first Senate primary vote will be cast this year, there’s a spending spree unrivaled by any election cycle in history…. [In] Pennsylvania, a political strategist involved in the open Senate race anticipates $110 to $130 million in spending on TV advertisements in the Republican primary alone — nearly as much as both parties combined spent on ads during the state’s entire 2016 Senate election… It’s a sign of the fierce trench warfare ahead in an election year where the loss of a single seat could cost Democrats their Senate majority. But it’s also a reflection of a map that features open seats in some of the most competitive states in the nation, and a glut of Republican self-funders who are digging deep into their own pockets to finance their campaigns.”

“Young Americans of all stripes are pessimistic about U.S. politics” [Fulcrum]. “Data-based rankings produced by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, housed within Tufts University’s Tisch College, shows which Senate races can be most impacted by the youth vote. Pennsylvania tops the Youth Electoral Significance Index, given its above average youth voter registration and turnout rates. According to the CIRCLE, President Biden garnered 127,000 more votes among the youth than Donald Trump in a race decided by fewer than 35,000 ballots. The remaining top 10 Senate races are in: Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, New Hampshire, Nevada, Florida, Ohio, Colorado.” • Something for Fetterman to pay attention to.

“GOP Has Congress Edge by Default” [Monmouth]. “Few Americans believe that either political party truly cares about the average family’s pocketbook. Specifically, just 23% say the Democrats in Congress are very concerned with looking out for the economic well-being of average Americans while at the other end of the spectrum 47% say the Democrats are not really concerned. Similarly, just 20% say the Republicans in Congress are very concerned with average Americans’ financial status versus 42% who say the Republicans are not really concerned about it. Four years ago, Americans were slightly less likely to see Congressional Democrats (35%) as being unconcerned with average Americans’ economic well-being compared with the Republicans (40%). The partisan difference is reversed in the current poll, although the gap is not large in either year. ‘The GOP advantage on the economic concern question is not large as a percentage, but Democrats had a similarly small edge on this metric in 2018 and ended up gaining 41 House seats,’ said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Indignity Vol. 2, No. 7: The American sickness” [Indignity]. “Across this large and otherwise fractious country, in its famous “blue states” and “red states” alike, the United States is converging on an ever-more-clearly articulated answer to the coronavirus pandemic: the pursuit, in defiance of most of the rest of the world, of a nationwide Unlimited Covid policy….. But the movement for Unlimited Covid has a uniquely American character. It represents an informal yet powerful collaboration between the country’s two mutually hostile political parties, across two different presidential administrations. The country’s pandemic response was initially defined by Trump, who chose to deny the risks of the virus, to suppress testing to keep official case counts low, and to delay any mobilization to produce tests or protective equipment. Facing a reelection campaign, and encouraged by a party line that the disease would be no worse than seasonal influenza, Trump and the Republican Party counted on allowing the virus to spread freely, generating natural herd immunity, after which they hoped it would subside on its own. Joe Biden and the Democratic Party took power at the beginning of 2021, claiming a mandate to change the way the country handled the pandemic. In line with the party’s technocratic spirit, and with the benefit of the newly available vaccines, Biden quickly launched a mass immunization program. That same technocratic outlook, however, led the administration to pursue what it hoped could be the most narrowly efficient strategy against the coronavirus—a domestic vaccination program only, rather than promoting international immunization, and without trying to catch up with the sort of testing, tracing, and targeted suppression that other countries had deployed. When the virus kept mutating and proved itself able to spread even among vaccinated people, the Biden administration had not stockpiled tests or masks with which to respond to new waves. Caught up in its promise of a return to normalcy, and unable to narrowly tailor closures to meet specific problems, the administration failed to bring the country to a pandemic-fighting footing and allowed economic relief measures to expire. In the end, the country settled on a contest between the original Republican program of counting on the unchecked virus to produce national herd immunity and a Democratic program of counting on a combination of vaccines and infections to produce national herd immunity. Although the details of it played out as partisan conflict—right-wing commenters went so far as to obfuscate their own vaccinations, to undermine Biden’s efforts—the result either way was Unlimited Covid. By redefining its failure to control the coronavirus as a success, the United States has rewritten its social contract and reshaped the expectations of its people.” • The ruling class will have slaughtered a million Americans and gotten away clean. It’s a remarkable achievement. These impressive numbers are, well, let’s be polite and say “world historical.”

“Democrats make surprising inroads in redistricting fight” [CNBC]. “Democrats braced for disaster when state legislatures began redrawing congressional maps, fearing that Republican dominance of statehouses would tilt power away from them for the next decade. But as the redistricting process reaches its final stages, that anxiety is beginning to ease. For Democrats, the worst case scenario of losing well over a dozen seats in the U.S. House appears unlikely to happen. After some aggressive map drawing of their own in states with Democratic legislatures, some Democrats predict the typical congressional district will shift from leaning to the right of the national vote to matching it, ending a distortion that gave the GOP a built-in advantage over the past five House elections.” • The NGOs went nuts over this, as did the press. As it turns out, the electeds — for once — took care of business.

“The case for a better way to poll” [Grid]. “In recent years, progressives have invested heavily in crafting a narrative which holds that all or almost all of their main policy ideas are overwhelmingly popular with the public…. But is it really true? After all, if Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of liberal policies, how are Republicans winning elections roughly half the time?… American public opinion is a conflicted jumble of progressive and conservative impulses with limited knowledge of the details of the issues, mixed feelings about the parties, and a preference for divided government and compromise. What’s interesting about polling on party trust is it reveals the enduring significance of this old conventional wisdom even in an era of polarization, presidential tweets, media fragmentation and whatever else has changed about the political system. It’s common for Democrats to deliberately seek out coverage of their proposals as ‘sweeping’ or ‘transformational’ as if the mass public’s biggest concern about the party is that it’s not left-wing enough. But there’s no evidence that it’s true of the public at large.”


Case count by United States regions:

Peak behavior; I think we can expect more bounces on the way down, if we go by past behavior. If you look at the two previous peaks, you’ll see we’ve had declines, followed by rises, followed by final declines. It looks like “rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick” applies; the slope of the downward curve is more or less the same as the upward curve. (Previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecedented.) I wonder if there will be plateau when B.2 takes hold. Since the Northeast has form, that is probably the region to watch for this behavior first.

Note that “up like a rocket, down like a stick” seems to be the case in South Africa (with a very different population from our own):

(I am but a simple tape-watcher, and say nothing of clinical effects, long Covid, stress on the health care system, co-morbidities, etc.)

The official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) was completely exploded. What a surprise!\

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet.

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 Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Oregon improves. The Northeast and the Midwest continue to improve. The lower Mississippi, too (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Stilll encouraging (reinforced my MWRA data and case data). (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 894,880 891,595. I have added an anti-triumphalist black “Fauci Line.” As we know, deaths are a lagging indicator. I assume the absurdity of the “Omicron is mild” talking point is, at this point, self-evident. If you know somebody who’s in “lead my life” mode, you might consider telling them the odds of dying from Covid are tied for second worst with the first wave in New York.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too. For the time being.

Stats Watch

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The American economy expanded an annualized 6.9% on quarter in Q4 2021, much higher than 2.3% in Q3 and well above forecasts of 5.5%. It is the strongest GDP growth in five quarters with the biggest upward contribution coming from private inventories (4.9 percentage points), namely motor vehicle dealers as companies had been drawing down stocks since the beginning of 2021. Personal consumption increased 3.3%, pushed higher by a 4.7% surge in services spending, namely health care, recreation, and transportation. Fixed investment rebounded by 1.3%, led by intellectual property products that was partly offset by a decrease in structures. Residential investment however, continued to decline and was down 0.8%. ” • These numbers would be big for the midterms if they came in May or June.

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Manufacturing]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 30 thousand from the previous period to 260 thousand in the week ending January 22, matching market estimates. It was the first decrease in initial claims in four weeks, following three straight weeks of increases, suggesting the impact of the Omicron variant on the labour market is starting to recede.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index rose to 20 in January of 2022, the highest in six months, from an upward revised 11 in the previous month. Factory growth was driven more by activity at durable goods plants in January, especially primary metals, machinery, electrical, furniture, and transportation equipment manufacturing.”

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Sorry to be so crypto-heavy, but that is the zeitgeist right now:

The Bezzle: Artificial scarcity:

The Bezzle: This Artist Opens Up On Bitcoin:

The Bezzle: “Crypto Lending Firms Celsius Network, Gemini Face SEC Scrutiny” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is scrutinizing cryptocurrency firms Celsius Network, Voyager Digital Ltd. and Gemini Trust Co. as part of a broad inquiry into companies that pay interest on virtual token deposits, according to people familiar with the matter. The SEC enforcement review focuses on whether the companies’ offerings should be registered as securities with the watchdog, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The firms are able to pay customers rates higher than most bank savings accounts by lending out their digital coins to other investors, a practice that the SEC and states including New Jersey and Texas have said raises concerns about investor protection. The probes add to uncertainty for the burgeoning sector, which is grappling with sharply falling coin prices — Bitcoin earlier this month plunged 50% from an all-time high — as well as regulators who are eager to put guardrails around digital assets.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 36 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 27 at 1:17pm.

The Agony Column

“What You Don’t Know About Family Estrangement” [Culture Study]. “The vast majority of societies on this planet still understand family as their primary, most cherished bond. Blood relation or not, there is an understanding that forsaking these bonds is a form of unforgivable treachery, understandable only in circumstances of abject trauma. Within this paradigm, all parties should do whatever possible to maintain the bonds of family, even if those bonds require continued suffering. In some societies, this understanding is changing…. All of these stories, as one of the respondents put it, are “beautifully complex.” If you’re estranged, I hope they make you feel less alone in some way. If you’re not, I hope they offer some insight into how to talk with and support those who are estranged — but more importantly, that they push you to think about what’s lost when we rely so fully on family as our primary source of support.”

The Conservatory

“Special Episode – Classical Reception in Metal Music with Dr Jeremy J. Swist” (podcast) [The Partial Historians]. “We are thrilled to bring you an exploration of the relationship between the ancient world and metal music. We’re joined by Dr Jeremy J. Swist an expert in the subject. Dr Swist is a lecturer in the Department of Classical Studies at Brandeis University. He holds a PhD in Classics looking at the Reception of the seven kings of Rome in imperial historiography from Tiberius to Theodosius. His research covers everything from historiography to the classical reception in metal music.” • Not a metal fan myself, but others may find this interesting.

The Gallery

“Work from home”:

Sounds like a pretty nice setup….

Class Warfare

“The empty promise of instant delivery” [Vox]. ” I could simply place a mobile order, and retrieve it at the store without waiting in line. This kind of frictionless convenience is wildly appealing and seemingly everywhere now; it’s especially pronounced in transactional spaces, whether it be a Starbucks, the local grocery store, or the airport. But there is a trade-off to resetting our expectations, and it looms large. Customers these days feel so entitled — and they are enraged. People are angrier, meaner, and more prone to throwing childish tantrums in front of service staff…. Companies, especially those in public-facing industries, are contending with a shortage of available workers while struggling to meet the old-fashioned service standards set in a very different time. “The meanness of the public has forced many public-facing industries to rethink what used to be an article of faith: that the customer is always right,” wrote the Times’ Sarah Lyall. “If employees are now having to take on many unexpected roles — therapist, cop, conflict-resolution negotiator — then workplace managers are acting as security guards and bouncers to protect their employees.”

New slogan, and rightly:

“Amazon Paid for a High School Course. Here’s What They Teach.” [Vice]. “In 2019, Cajon High School in San Bernardino, California, started offering the ‘Amazon Logistics and Business Management Pathway,’ a first-of-its-kind series of courses intended to help students get a head start in a career in logistics. Amazon donated $50,000 to provide the necessary materials to start the program. And, apparently, to do some redecorating. The classroom for the pathways program is painted in Amazon’s signature yellow, with Amazon’s Leadership Principles—’CUSTOMER OBSESSION’, ‘BIAS FOR ACTION,’ ‘DELIVER RESULTS’— written on the walls.”

News of the Wired

EV owners and prospective owners take note:

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) 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 (HH):

HH: “Here just a few hundred yards to the northeast of Austin, Texas, it shows no signs of freezing weather yet. As a result, some of the cool-weather greens we planted have been swamped by volunteer plants from a warmer season. Red amaranth (love-lies-bleeding variety) that has popped up and is almost ready to go to seed in our beet patch. The beets are doing ok and will take off once the frost kills the amaranth. Here is a volunteer tomato plant framed by a couple of amaranth seed heads.”

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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. clarky90

      The carbon price marches on (New Zealand)
      January 25, 2022 by Keith Woodford


      “As I write this in late January 2022, the carbon price in the open market is $75, with this measured per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). That is an increase of just over 10 percent since the last auction of units by the Government less than two months ago in December 2021. It is also 95 percent higher than the price of carbon this time last year…….

      ….Last September I was doing some forestry versus sheep and beef calculations using a carbon price of $50. Even at those prices, a permanent (non-harvested) exotic forest stacked up as superior to sheep and beef in most situations. At current prices of $75, the forestry option looks even better.

      The Climate Commission has said that the carbon price needs to be around $140 by 2030 and $250 by 2050. This is supposedly what is required to drag the rest of New Zealand away from fossil fuels. At those prices, there is nothing other than dairy on the very best land and kiwifruit on specific land types that can compete with long-term forests”. Yikes!!!!

      So us Kiwis, will have to adopt the famous Hollywood “Only Kiwifruit with Yogurt Diet”. If we can even afford to buy yogurt and kiwifruit…….?…..

      New Zealanders’ rates of obesity, AND rates diabeties, will plummet………..

      1. Greg

        I’m not going to cry if we stop running overstocked dairy on marginal soils in order to then immediately dehydrate the milk and turn it into low value milk powder for export.
        I’m also curious what other crops might benefit from an increased carbon price.

        1. clarky90

          Radiata Pine tree plantations, that can never be harvested, are the only crop that benefits as the price of Carbon Credit price increases.

          1. Greg

            Pine arent particularly great at carbon storage, and theres no reason to plant them in NZ if they’re not going to be harvested. They’re invasive bad companions otherwise.

            There is the potential that perennial cropping systems (think tree’s we grow for more than 3-5 years, and perennial grain crops) can benefit from an increased carbon price, because the income from carbon sequestration acts as a supplement to the income from the crop.
            It’s also possible that the net of some crops after subtracting the harvested portion is still a positive after plowing under the plant (although obviously that has a much shorter cycle time than trees).

            Theres plenty of opportunities in carbon prices, depending how the measurement systems work.

            1. clarky90

              Hi Greg
              I am just as confused as you are about the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme. IMO it is turning into a diabolical (but probably, initially well meaning) “complex innovation”, lovingly crafted by bankers and their financial wizard, “Brothers in Arms”. Another Neo-Liberal assault on little, good-natured, NZ……… Double Yikes!

              Keith Woodford is the best NZ expert that I have found on the subject.


              To put a human face on this….

              Fears mount over Huiarua’s future as station to be bought out by foreign investors


              “Fears are mounting that the historic Huiarua Station could soon be turned into a foreign-owned carbon farm,……. locals believe the sale could spell the beginning of the end for the region.”

              I am not a farmer, a forester or an investor. Please (everybody) help me make sense, of what seems, to be nonsensical?

              Thanks Greg!

    2. fresno dan

      early daylight savings time???
      Think of all the extra GDP Maine will accrue by getting a jump on everybody else…

      1. Randall Flagg

        Still, the question has been asked and remains unanswered, “An early two martini lunch?”
        Modern technology LOL
        As always, thanks for this website.

  1. MK

    Rumor is that Breyer’s announcement was ‘leaked’ by the WH before he was able to make the announcement himself. So much for respecting political ‘norms’ and letting him make his own announcement.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      If that is the case, don’t let the umpire be wrong. Every time a catcher doesn’t jump out like it should be a called third strike I die a little.

      1. ambrit

        That would be a great prank.
        “The Speaker said that she wanted to spend more time with her family.”

      2. Michael Ismoe

        She’s too young to retire. She needs to be around in 2025 when she impeaches Trump for the 3rd time.

  2. Kim

    Interesting and useful localized real world reporting.

    Write down all your friends and relatives names in a column.
    Underline all and only those who are vaxxed.

    Put a red dot next to anyone on the list who has been sick or tested positive.

    Rewrite as new column list with all the red dot names at top of list.

    How many of the unvaxxed have red dots?
    How many of the vaxxed?

    That’s your reality. Does it reflect what is reported in media?

    1. Utah

      I got my second vaccine a couple weekends ago. With a six month delay because reasons. My significant other got her booster when they became available, October I think. She has covid, I’ve yet to get covid (I took a test and got a negative) and we haven’t tried to distance or filter air or anything in our tiny 500 sq ft apartment. It’s been a week since she’s been symptomatic. So .. I think that having gotten the second shot so recently really helped me out. I mean, I could still catch it, I’m not ruling that out. If you want some anecdata, there you have it.

      1. Objective Ace

        Spacing them out more then 2 weeks also improves immunity. The ideal is between 3 and 3 and a half months. The only reason 2 weeks is “recommended” is because thats what they did during the trials

    2. a fax machine

      yes… almost everyone I know who died from Covid-19 (about four) were not vaccinated. Several vaccinated were hospitalized, but only for a few days. Average hospital visit for non-vaccined (in my case) was about ~21 days, average for vaccinated was 3.

      Of the four who perished:

      – age 27 truck driver, otherwise healthy in peak physical condition. Didn’t get vaxxed because it was “lame” and he was a amateur wrestler anyway. Left behind three children. We think he was patient zero since he was never assigned his own truck and used the forklift.
      – age 19 dockworker, illegal immigrant with with an STD (something his girlfriend revealed to us), didn’t get vaxxed because no driver’s license (where I live, all the official vaccination stations were drive-up only). IMO this was the worst because he did the job nobody else wanted to do correctly.
      – age 45 mechanic/pump technician, had a pre-existing heart condition. Didn’t get vaxxed because vaccines are jewish [sic] and jews eat children (note: he’s also an immigrant, but a legal one).
      – age 62 truck driver/fleet manager. Didn’t get vaxxed because he’s Texan, don’t take [family blog] from nobody, and the government can suck it. Left behind a sizable estate that his four ex-wives and 10 (? that I know of) spawn are still arguing over. His rig has been ominously parked in the one spot everyone else wants to park in, and the company doesn’t know if they should charge his estate for it. It’s also connected the company’s only in-house trailer. It’s an 80s WST that is worth a fortune.

      Company operations continue in a reduced state thanks to the slow dock unloading, the company has tried to impose soft vaccine mandates for a while now but labor is unwilling. Fact is a large chunk of society doesn’t want it, will never get it, and we will just have to deal with the consequences of that.

      Just to be clear, in our case the one guy who really mattered was the teen. He had only been with us for two years but did his job CORRECTLY and EFFICIENTLY. Now that he’s gone, everyone else can’t be lazy and let someone else figure out their problems. I mention this because of the great resignation occurring, he was the lowest paid guy in the whole operations dept.

  3. LaRuse

    Haha. You scared the pants off me. WC should land while I am picking my Kidlet up from school today. I thought I had forgotten something!

      1. LaRuse

        Not while I wait, because I am allergic to having a mobile device in my hands when behind the wheel, even parked. But I rarely do the kid pick up; I take the morning drop off shift most of the time. That’s exactly why I was so startled. I thought my calendar reminder had failed to go off! :-)
        Thanks for making WC part of my day, though.

  4. Wukchumni

    “Jailed Oath Keeper’s Estranged Wife Shares Snaps of ‘Escape Tunnels’ Dug Into Backyard” [Daliy Beast]. “When a federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed pending his trial for conspiracy charges on Wednesday, they cited testimony by Rhodes’s estranged wife, who alleged that he installed “elaborate escape tunnels” in his backyard.

    ‘You’ll shoot your eye out, kid’

    The idea that Trump gave these gun nut loser types an audience by condoning their activities is just one of the legacies he left us…

    1. Nikkikat

      I think these were the guys pointing guns at the Feds during the show down with the right wing rancher that owed the US government over a million dollars. Obama let them get away with it. This group has been around for years. No one cared until they showed up as Trumpsters. Right wing militias didn’t have to worry until they showed up for Trump either then they became a threat. Very interesting.

    2. griffen

      I feel like Linda Blair’s character just a bit in the Exorcist. “The stupid it burns, it burns!”.

      That’s some serious nut job level work by the Rhodes fellow.

    3. lance ringquist

      the correct question should by why there are so many radicalized people?

      Perhaps one of the most interesting, if not frustrating parts of the rise of Trump is the inability to get Democrats to accept the idea that the economic policies of Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama set the stage for a man like Trump. I think that among the Clinton Liberals, the madness has reached the stage the Tea Party reached with its “Birther” conspiracies around Obama.

      the explosions of suicides: as thomas frank has said, since bill clinton sold us out in 1994, 90% of all labor negotiations the boss says we can move somewhere else: the deaths of despair, The nationwide rate increased nearly 30% from 1999 to 2016

      many little towns and cities all across america, had factories, creameries, drug stores, grocery stores, ectc., in most cases, they are long gone, sold out to wall street and the chinese communist party.

      it happened in major cities to, but its generally all over america, except for a few spots where the elon musks of the world reside in america, the clintonites adore and worship those area’s.

      its the polices stupid.


      Amid Drastic Rise in Suicide, CDC Says It’s Not Just About Mental Health
      The nationwide rate increased nearly 30 percent from 1999 to 2016.
      Emma Ockerman
      June 7, 2018, 12:16 PM CDT
      The rate of suicide deaths has been rising across the U.S. since at least 1999, according to new data released Thursday. But in some states, the increases are staggering.
      new study on the death of despair not only scientifically links bill clintons disastrous polices to the carnage, but also point out its affecting blacks and hispanics also

      The authors take as a given that the “China shock” after its WTO entry in the early 2000s was a crippling blow to US manufacturers already in decline. And just as that policy (as well as NAFTA and successful anti-union efforts) decimated blue-collar workers,


      More on Deaths of Despair: New Study Links Early Job Loss to Higher Rates of Overdose Deaths and Suicides
      Posted on July 27, 2020 by Yves Smith

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > I think that among the Clinton Liberals, the madness has reached the stage the Tea Party reached with its “Birther” conspiracies around Obama.

        Don’t forget … “birtherism” wasn’t birthed out of the Tea Party. It came out of Hillary’s 2008 primary run against Obama.

      2. a fax machine

        It’s part of the long-term decline of the Democratic Party. By consolidating resources into big blue metropolises they have denied themselves any sort of national majority. It will progressively get worse until another Trump happens and simply bans the party in most of the country. Biden=Pelosi ‘s ability to fix this decreases every year they choose not to act, as with Obama.

        Let’s look at bigger trends from Obama to Biden: Russia’s annexation of Crimea turned into the Russian annexation of Ukraine, the “recovery” turned into a “K-shaped” recovery, student loans turned from predatory scheme to outright scam, and public schools went from underfunded/understaffed to outright closed for covid. OWS was cancelled for BLM, which was cancelled with the Capitol Riot. China went from “strong recovery” to “dominant global fiscal power”. Wall Street now finds itself having to comply to rules made up by them especially in regards to computer chips.

        There is no future in any of this. The layman feels it too, hence Antiwork. Why participate in society if society has no rewards? The collapse is already upon us, we are two years in not having a guaranteed national school system. What will society do with all these dropouts? More immigration will provoke the worst on the right and college prices won’t decrease. With the normie production line out of service, normal society is no longer being produced. The resulting lost generation will turn to the same answers any other losers and lost people do: reactionary ideology and fascism. Democrats won’t feel the danger until the death squads are already at their door.

        Children of Men was very predictive. The 2030s are going to rhyme with the 1930s, assuming the global machine doesn’t short circuit into a major catastrophe before then.

  5. Randy

    Charles Booker in for a surprise when he finds out making a fake medical board to self certify yourself as a doctor is like the most American thing you can do.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      He seems like a charismatic guy but the odds of winning a senate seat in KY are miniscule. Wouldn’t the Louisville open US House seat be a more appropriate fit?

      1. Big River Bandido

        There is a history here, and the Democrats have form. Booker is making his second run for the Senate. The party and the DSCC stacked the deck against him last time in order to back yet another sure loser neoliberal in the general election.

  6. Pate

    Indignity – The American Sickness: Unlimited Covid “By redefining its failure to control the coronavirus as a success, the United States has rewritten its social contract and reshaped the expectations of its people.”

    So, neoliberalism then. Nothing new here. There is no need to “rewrite the social contract” because “there is no society”. I guess the markets will set the price – and the cost – of “reshaped expectations”. I’m with Hudson and Case/Deaton: long apathy and the rate of suicide.

    1. LawnDart

      Covid is a success, at least for the democrats, and it’s done what Black Lives Matters couldn’t: Covid/SARS has even hard-core republican anti-vaxers chanting “I can’t breathe” and turning blue!

  7. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Young Americans of all stripes are pessimistic about U.S. politics” [Fulcrum].

    Another “worrying concern”, one presumes, as the public relations dogma and the softer forms of ideological control are apparently not having the desired effect of mollifying and pacifying the public mind into a state of active consumption, submission, and the passive acceptance of a normalized, status quo reality. Why would that be the case?

    Perhaps it is so because, “20 years of data reveals that Congress doesn’t care what you think.”

    “Their study took data from nearly 2,000 public-opinion surveys and compared what the people wanted to what the government actually did. What they found was extremely unsettling: The opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America has essentially no impact at all.”


    “If there’s one thing that still reliably gets politicians’ attention, it’s money. While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a “statistically non-significant impact,” Gilens and Page found that economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.”


    Still everyone likes playing the same old game of “throwing the rascals out” every four years. Even though:

    “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers.
    Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.”

    Where the goal, after all, is about the controlling and the directing the activities of individual minds and bodies in space and in the desired direction within the larger society. Ideological means and the reliance on force; where necessary, have generally been the two preferred methods of doing so.

    “The hat man then begins to play. A song is everywhere: ‘You want the obvious, You’ll get the obvious’.”

    1. Geo

      “Two-third of respondents, who include millennials and Generation Z, have a pessimistic view of the future of the United States. Only 13 percent said they were optimistic.”

      My guess is that 13% are economic genetic lottery winners. How anyone growing up during the GWOT, housing crash, and whatever you want to call this past few years, could feel optimistic about things is beyond me.

      1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

        Apparently and according to the “rumors”, nepotism is still a thing; even though, everyone is constantly told that everybody has “equality of opportunity”. Meaning, one supposes again, that you can try and climb that chosen ladder of yours, but you just might not get very far. And yes, I know, counter examples exist; but are the counter examples the norm, or mere outliers?

        That is, it is the chasm that is the privilege of pre-existing wealth and status, as a financial/economic caste hierarchy, that leads to the assumption that ‘equality of opportunity’ may not be an entirely accurate picture of social reality, or so it would appear, in a subset of the population. Perhaps it is a defined and definite characteristic of the larger popualtion and society as well.

        “The first important note to make is the divide between a child who has been raised by someone well-connected within the industry and the average creative mind. Someone who has been raised by a celebrity parent or family member probably has years’ worth of acting experience and training at the best studios money can buy, they can get notes on their performance by real professionals without blinking an eye. On the other hand, someone who has no head start in the business must have very loyal guardians that commit very early on to provide them with (often expensive) training and exposure to the arts. In no way is this plausible for the average family with little to no luxury spending capabilities, and even if they can afford to give their children lessons, they could never compare to the on-hand training the other child would receive.”

        “Nepotism Is Hollywood’s Killer Problem: The Age of Casting Your Own Children Is Plaguing the Entertainment Sector”


        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Reminds me of Peyton and Eli Manning, who were throwing to NFL receivers in grade school.

  8. Samuel Conner

    > The ruling class will have slaughtered a million Americans and gotten away clean. It’s a remarkable achievement. These impressive numbers are, well, let’s be polite and say “world historical.”

    One could see this coming in early-ish 2020 (my ‘tell’ was the removal of Dr Messonier from press availabilities (February 2020) after her admission that US public health people were anticipating that CV would eventually spread in the community (it probably already was doing that at that point) spooked the markets and aroused the displeasure of the Chief Executive.

    My thought, not much later, when it was clear that POTUS didn’t take it seriously (I think the first presser, announcing national measures, in March, was a clue. “Okaaaaay”)

    Re: “world historical” — my thought, back then, was “they’re going to be writing about this for centuries”. And I think they will, granting that enough civilization perdures to support people who are interested in the past.

    I’ve consoled friends who feel despair about the situation with the thought that, ‘we’re living in a time that will be important in future histories’. It’s not much comfort, but if one is able to take a long view, at least it’s not boring. For me, I take it a day at a time, and if I make it to the end of week uninfected, I count it a small victory.

    1. Jason Boxman

      True enough, surviving another day without an infection is a victory in a country so heavily geared towards ensure everyone gets (re)infected as often as possible in the name of capitalism! We’re now playing the ultimately game of who’s left standing?

      That this all confirms that the United States is a failed state, although readily apparent before, isn’t much consolation.

      Stay safe!

    2. Cat Burglar

      Pandemic policy was a great example of elite coordination. It is very useful to look at it along with other elite political mobilizations, like Russiagate and the Ukraine crisis.

      I remember the Oregon governor’s enthusiasm for “We’re Reopening!” When it resulted in a big spike in cases and deaths, it was presented by the media with apparent shock. But at her press conference, the state’s epidemiologist quietly told the press that, of course, the deaths were expected. The deaths-to-dollars calculus was right there in the open, even under a liberal Democrat.

  9. William Beyer

    Let’s celebrate GDP – NOT

    Takes me back to my own economic wake-up call a 1995 article in the Atlantic: “If the GDP Is Up, Why Is America Down?” By Clifford Cobb, Ted Halstead and Jonathan Rowe.

    The nation’s central measure of well being works like a calculating machine that adds but cannot subtract. It treats everything that happens in the market as a gain for humanity, while ignoring everything that happens outside the realm of monetized exchange, regardless of the importance to well-being. By the curious standard of the GDP, the nation’s economic hero is a terminal cancer patient who is going through a costly divorce. The happiest event is an earthquake or a hurricane. The most desirable habitat is a multibillion-dollar Superfund site. All these add to the GDP, because they cause money to change hands. It is as if a business kept a balance sheet by merely adding up all “transactions,” without distinguishing between income and expenses, or between assets and liabilities.

    Looks like we’re hitting all our marks…

  10. TMoney

    Successful Tunnel digging revolutionary: Ho Chi Minh

    But then he defined his whole nation as the backyard and he had a bit of help.

    1. dk

      Yes, and I was thinking some American Revolutionaries (such as they were) might have arranged tunnel-facilitated exit strategies from their domiciles.

      And then there are the Catholic priest holes across the pond, not sure if they qualify. Escape tunnels are more suited to resistance fighting than to offensive goals.

    1. clarky90

      Indeed! “Our economic plans ARE working.”……..

      Putin Challenges Biden

      by Vladimir Brovkin


      “Dr Brovkin is an American historian, used to serve as Associate professor of history at Harvard University, author of several books on the Soviet History among them Russian after Lenin and behind the Front lines of the Civil War”

      1. John

        Does he for whom it is working? No? I didn’t think so. It is working for those pumping up real estate prices … a nation of renters is income forever … especially if you forget maintenance; working for private equity… buy it with borrowed money, strip it, dump it … lots of cash for those operations. Working for monopolists squeezing and squeezing … those anti-monopoly laws are so passé.

        Working for a few; working for the “donor class” … donor class … we did not have an identified “donor class” until Citizens United … thanks Justice Kennedy. What universe were you living in with that one? The fed had just opened the spigot so the rich got richer and ever more able to “persuade” their elected representatives with perfectly legal contributions.

        Ah, brave new world that has such people in it.

  11. Judith

    I saw this link on Mark Ames twitter. Note the IMF chief’s use of the term “immediate reassessment”. Not enough deaths, I guess.


    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday raised a warning against China’s zero-COVID approach, saying that the hardline policy risks damaging the global economy. Calling for an immediate reassessment of its stringent lockdowns to curb the spread of the highly-transmissible new COVID-19 strain, Omicron, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva slammed Beijing’s “hardline” strategy, saying it only contained the pandemic in China for “some time.” Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on a virtual panel, Georgieva stated that what was supposed to be beneficial is now proving to be a budget on China’s economy and globally.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > Not enough deaths, I guess.

      perhaps ‘not enough tight coupling’.

      I hope China sticks with Zero COVID and succeeds, but not so much that it removes the incentives to re-onshore.

      Maybe the middle classes of the rest of the industrialized (and de-industrialized) world will be able to escape the looming middle digit trap.

    2. Randy

      I’ve yet to see any analysis of how the supply chains will look if millions of Chinese (assuming the same death rate as the U.S.) were to die. Seems like this would also disrupt the precious supply chains and upset the golden idol economy gods that the IMF worships. Almost like something else is animating their complaints…

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      China knows better than to lose the Mandate of Heaven. Our American elites might laugh at the concept, but they’re about to learn what it really means.

    4. Darthbobber

      So the IMF formally proposed to have public health policy dictated by business needs. Gee, what a surprise. Can’t be draining budgets just to keep people alive. China is fortunate that it has no need to care what the IMF thinks.

  12. Reader_In_Cali

    Lambert – it may be good to keep an eye on West Coast COVID figures for an early signal on BA.2, as it has been confirmed in California (Santa Clara County) and Washington state.

      1. wilroncanada

        It’s been confirmed in (parts of) Canada By Canadian medical health officer Dr. Teresa Tam, as of back in November.

    1. IMOR

      Santa Clara and WA: take your coice, unrestricted transPacific jet travel, or unrestricted shuttling of tech elites and wannabes between the two after the variant’s already here.
      Santa Clara was inevitable after chip manufacture and related sprang up there, but what they did to Seattle is a damned crime.

      1. Glen

        Do you really think shutting down commercial air travel stops elites? They have not been flying commercial for quite a while now.

        1. IMOR

          Where did I say ‘commercial’? Where did I exclude charters/personal jets? Where did I suggest a ban? I don’t disagree with you. Intended tone was, sadly smh… .

    2. Art_DogCT

      Connecticut reported it’s first known BA.2 infection yesterday, from a sample collected in Fairfield County (closest county to New York City, and as I recall was the area of the first wild-type SARS-CoV-2 infections in the state two years ago). Due to the way testing and typing is being performed, we know there must be significant community penetration already. The most accurate thing said in the article below is that there is insufficient data to make firm conclusions, another couple of weeks needed before any conclusions might be had. The hopium being offered by the quoted clinicians and researchers is pretty sad, in truth.


      1. Art_DogCT

        What I find most worrying is this concern quoted, “worth watching is whether [it] evades detection from COVID-19 tests”. COVID-19 tests like the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of rapid tests already distributed to the states, the kind the USPS will deliver four of per address? What could possibly go wrong?

  13. Sutter Cane

    “Indignity Vol. 2, No. 7: The American sickness”

    I think this article is better served with its subtitle: “A Nation Presses on Toward Unlimited Covid”

    It’s excellent, echoing many of my own thoughts. Makes me feel slightly less nuts for having those thoughts, at least.

    I was just discussing today with a couple of my dwindling number of friends who haven’t just decided that they are “done with covid”, and still take it seriously. We would prefer to avoid infection, but don’t see how a personal zero-covid strategy is possible in a nation that has decided to just ignore an ongoing pandemic and pretend that it isn’t happening.

    I’m too old to learn Mandarin and move to China!

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      that is excellent.
      at the beginning of this month, when i suddenly realised that my youngest likely had it(rather than the worst cedar fever season in living memory), i was frelling angry.
      mad as hell that here we are, 2 years into it, and Itaintrealism and clunky half-measures abound.
      like the drug war, security theater and endless brushfire warmongering…perpetual pandemic is part of our way of life.
      we’ve accepted it…by some unconscious and unspoken referendum.
      and there’s no stopping it, now.
      apparently, by design.
      remember, i’ve been a doomer for most of my life…i learned too much about some things and therefore learned to expect the worst.
      but even i am rather floored by this sort of nebulously manifested concordance in the hive mind…let ‘er rip and learn to accept mass death and suffering…because the Economy (holy) is all that matters.

      people will be writing about this forever.

      musing, drunk and bundled in the cold woods the other day, i contemplated somehow making vellum from the sheepskins, when its time to butcher the lambs…and writing the apocalypse of amfortas the hippie upon it, and burying it in some available analog of a conopic jar up on the mountain out back.

    2. John Beech

      Sutter Cane . . .
      First, don’t give up.
      Second, remember your mission is to remain uninfected.
      Third, what others do doesn’t matter, only what you do matters.
      Fourth, keep your head down, practice good masking, avoid exposure.
      Fifth, hork nasal cavities with diluted Betadine at the slightest hint of risk.

      Job one is to survive until there’s a better medication, vaccine, treatment.

      Everything else is secondary. This too shall pass.

      1. Ed Miller

        Sutter Cane . . .

        Job One is to survive until there’s better ventilation and air filtering standards.

        It’s not just vaccines and other medical approaches.

    3. a fax machine

      China just hides their numbers; and more importantly unlimited lockdowns doesn’t solve the problem either. That’s the impossible situation we have been thrust into, and the lack of an organized, effective response to it is why society is coming apart. If people have to choose between poverty or potential sickness, most will choose the latter because they’d still have social security.

      It’s a disturbing situation and one that speaks to global capitalism’s failure. Lowe, it will probably kill global capitalism because the Chinese computer plant shutdowns have hurt the global economy enough where replacement factories are being built in countries with some semblance of labor laws. This only proceeds to one point, which is the total collapse of society as we know it. Global capitalism cannot survive with divergent, conflicting and multi-tiered covid responses.

  14. griffen

    This high school class sponsored by Amazon. Nope, no angle there, I am so very sure of that. Say, why does the water cooler now have grape flavored kool aid?

    I have anecdotal knowledge of apprentice programs being available, at local manufacturers and suppliers, in the upstate region of South Carolina. The quick example, a voluminous BMW plant is just down I-85. At best, these apprentice may present the trades as an opportunity for students inclined to pursue that route. Below is a website resource I came across.


    1. griffen

      Argh, should have phrased that better. The analogy above is not specific to this brand of WC!

      More of a hey, why are they serving us in the cafeteria all this grape kool aid…you must drink this beverage supplied through our Amazon vendor relationship

      1. Geo

        “As part of this course, students are required to participate in a ‘work-based’ internship at Amazon or another logistics company in the area.”

        Thats one way to fix staffing shortages.

  15. anon y'mouse

    Doug Helvering on Youtube is a classical composer who usually reacts to and somewhat explains musically various Metal songs every Monday. he also takes viewer requests to some extent.

    if you’re into that kind of thing, here’s his playthrough of Yes, which is the group i usually use to break in metal virgins (although i would class Yes as prog rock, but they’re related somewhat):


    1. farragut

      Thanks for this link. The Earth is ~4.5 billion years old…and you and I were fortunate to be alive at the same time as Yes. The Yes lineup of the early 70s (especially after Rick Wakeman replaced Tony Kaye) were all masters individually, but they created an ineffable magic when they played together. I highly recommend Close to the Edge, Fragile, & the Yes album to anyone wishing to hear Yes at their zenith.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        Yes Days are usually in the summer, however.
        (as are Allman Brothers Day, Rush Days, Pink Floyd Days, Obscure 70’s heavy rock days, etc.)

        and even though i can’t ever remember which one’s i like/don’t suck in some way, i like the various live concert recordings of all those guys…i’ll load up 4-6 hours of Yes, EL&P and such, put on the speakers in the trees, and, “like an ass into the desert,I go now to my work”(G. Halleck)

        I’ve long been of the opinion that 1975 was the zenith of western civilisation.
        biggest section in my music catalog(aarrggg!-almost Pi Day) is from that decade.

        and as for Yes..Steve Howe, man….

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            I reckon disco was the Machine’s first attempt at coopting the radicalism and dangerous freedomthink of popular music…so that the 60’s couldn’t happen again….using technics developed earlier with the corporatisation of country/western.
            before long, it had mtv and hair metal and the new and improved mickey mouse club pipeline of mediocrity and boy bands and a million pop hits that were written by algorithm(analog algorithms at first).
            all along, the radicalism and dangerous freedomthink slipped through the cracks, here and there…whether Phish/Dave Matthews(riding on the previous Grateful Dead Model)…or the various transgressions of Hip Hop and Rap…in each instance of escape, Machine moved to coopt…and the R and D.F. slipped somewhere else…now Seattle and that weird heroin doom music..there some secretly radical grassroots country…
            whack a mole for the corps music, but it persists.
            now, it looks like music is kind of like toothpaste…overchoice(Toffler)…engendering division through a sort of Scattering(Leto II)…with the kids encased in their own individual musical bubble(earbuds)…and thereby separated from the kids next to them.sharing, if at all, via the Platform Architecture.

    1. Cat Burglar

      That is a worthwhile article.

      The poor reporting on Russian troop levels in regions adjacent to the Ukrainian border make it hard to figure out what is happening. Getting so many soldiers into the CIA evidence room might mean finding a new place to store Saddam’s Weapons Of Mass Destruction and the torpedoes from the Gulf Of Tonkin incident, to say nothing of the bomb used to blow up the USS Maine. Some counting and basic geography have been absent from most reporting, so I took an excursion on google and Wikipedia to find out more.

      But according to the Polish Institute For International Affairs in a 2016 report, the Western and Southern Military Districts in Russia had 372,000 troops stationed there as a matter of course. With the addition of 90,000 or 127,000 more, you could get up to a half million (about twice as many as we have in the states bordering The Mexico).

      Not all those troops — the Russians, I mean — are close to the border according to the standards of western reporting. Yelnya, an alleged base of a big chunk of the 100,000 troops,has been declared “nearby,” and is 150 miles from the border, but the headquarters of the 20th Guards Army (2 divisions and 7 brigades) is 175 miles from Kharkiv — is that still nearby? The Southern Military District Headquarters are a couple hours away from the Ukraine border, in Rostov-on-Don, and the 8th army (about the same size as the 20th) is headquartered 175 miles from the border. There is also the Black Sea Fleet, and the 22nd Army Corps (smaller than the Armies) in the Crimea.

      Just looking at this, and at the map, the extra 100,000 troops don’t appear to make that big of a difference from normal. If Russia wanted to, say, invade Ukraine as far west as the Dnepr, it looks like it could have done so any time it wanted to. There is also the unclearly reported fact that the extra troops appear to have been in place since April, after big military training exercises in the region — the advent of the 100,000 troops was no November surprise.

      So my guess at this point is that the timing of the crisis at hand has been manufactured for political convenience. Putin has said that he intended to use a strategy of tension on the border, and that could be construed as motivation. In the Ragozin article, a Ukrainian politician points out that US geopolitical and domestic political issues are another cause. Leaders of both powers want to conduct business over our heads, and we should use every shred of information to get a clear idea of what they are brokering upon us all.

    2. ambrit

      No mention of the possibility, nay, probability, that the Russians don’t have the forces needed for an attack because, wait for it, they don’t intend to attack!
      If someone else attacks into Russia, the Russian casualties will be medivacked to a Russian hospital behind the lines. The attackers will need the mobile medical units.
      Why does the phrase “swimming with sharks” bring to mind Charlie the Tuna?
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_the_Tuna

  16. PHLDenizen

    On entitled customers…

    Wawa is a revered institution of sorts in southeast PA. I happened upon, late one night, a lecherous old man imploring a young female associate working behind the counter to take off her mask because she “was clearly very beautiful underneath it” and he “wanted a picture — not like I [he] was going to post it publicly”.

    She looked immensely terrified and went to pull her mask down before I stared right at him from across the store with slightly lowered eyelids. Paused. And stated in a very loud, matter-of-fact, and non-confrontational tone that he should stop sexually harassing the Wawa store associate and stop demanding she expose herself to a lethal pathogen for his own spank bank. He looked at once angry, confused, embarrassed, and nervous.

    I further opined that perhaps he had a confederate in the parking lot, using such photo to mark her for a sexual assault. That the mask was company policy. That the company had lots of cameras in store. That her unmasking herself may make other customers feel less safe. That the company reviewing such footage may in fact fire her. He sputtered and left. The entire crew were women, which might be a reason none of her coworkers stepped in — this guy looked a bit menacing. I’m a little surprised I was the only dude in the store to shame him. She looked incredibly relieved, so that made my otherwise shitty night a little happier. Offered me freebies, but I politely declined.

    And of course that jabroni wasn’t even masked.

    1. Arizona Slim

      This story is why I am proud to call myself a native of the Keystone State.

      Our sense of right and wrong is honed to a razor’s edge. And we’re not afraid to use our mouths to spew razor-sharp rhetoric upon those who deserve it.

      That unmasked guy? He was probably from Delaware.

  17. 430MLK

    On Booker: I’ll definitely vote for him in the General Election, but I’m not changing my affiliation from Independent to Democrat over him. Yet. He was the first KY candidate to seriously get behind legal weed, M4A, Green New Deal. Supported Bernie. As a candidate in 2020 and now, he’s taken up the Kentuckians-for-the-Commonwealth focus on connecting “the holler” (Eastern KY) to “the hood” (mainly Louisville).

    But I’m also a No Gods, No Monsters sort when it comes to politicians. It would be a mistake to view Booker as a brave candidate from hayseed Kentucky, which didn’t have people advocating for things like Green New Deal and such before his 2020 explosion onto the scene. Booker was in many ways a wish-fullfillment, the first to get positive press and then fundraising for such stances, particularly after the Breonna Taylor protests legitimized his campaign. So is Booker just filling a niche, and if so, how is he filling it? On the caution side, Booker’s come up with some pretty establishment KY Dems like Allison Lundergan Grimes; his Eastern KY “holler” support is largely based in Letcher County’s somewhat urban PMCish town of Whitesburg and Madison County’s Berea. And as a candidate, he has now run 4 different political races in the past 6 years. (In Booker’s only winning election thus far, to a KY State House seat in 2018, he ended up vacating it to run against McConnell in 2020.) Is this job-hopping because the U.S. Senate is where he belongs, or is it that he’s not really much interested in governance beyond good Twitter lines and a larger profile? (And, does that even matter if he’s elected to Senate–would a freshman senator need to do much more than tweet and strike a vote anyway?)

    I will say this: Booker’s moved around the state, showing up at urban protests and Eastern Kentucky union standoffs and Western Kentucky tornado relief efforts. He’s got the “fighting for” part down.

    I’d be curious to hear from someone from Louisville. Along with Booker, there are 2 other interesting politicians running for (or having just won) office from there.
    Jecorey Arthur, a 28 year-old who won a Louisville council seat. (He has a good twitter presence).
    Attica Scott, a former KY State Rep who is running to replace quasi MMTer John Yarmuth. (Scott actually declared to primary him, but Yarmuth ended up announcing his retirement.)

    1. Ben S

      I live in the 3rd, and Scott first out of the gate with flyers. It’s solidly blue, so it’ll be interesting who’s getting the money. I’ll vote for the highest poll/big donor ratio. Vs. lowest mean donor / DNC pariah. Whoever appears to maintain integrity as it proceeds.

  18. Tom Stone

    The fundamental value of crypto is based on the understanding that some electrons are more equal than others.

  19. jimmy cc

    oath keepers are more reactionary than revolutionary. And more brawler than fighter.

    The one I know well is a CERT prison guard, and he is built like it.

  20. IMOR

    re: MSNBC Dems Make Surprising Gains in Redistricting
    Surprising only to those who forget or don’t know that the state legislators, the state parties, the justices of the state supreme court who may be called on ti rule on or even create a plan in the absence of a deal, all have a two-part predominant common motive in redistricting: preserve as many incumbents of both parties as possible, and create as many safe/uncontestable districts as possible.
    In states with nonpartisan courts, add a third: legislators of both parties want a ruling on or modification of their plan by a nonpartisan court even less than the court wants to involve itself.

  21. Pelham

    Re the case for better polling: Is it fair to say that Americans tend to favor divided government when, for instance, Democrats insist on packaging popular things like single-payer healthcare with wokism? Or Republicans insist on packaging conservative social policies with unfettered capitalism? This setup leaves open the question of how divided government would be if there were a viable party that offered a different palette combining the popular stuff from each side.

  22. Amfortas the hippie

    i like Lind:
    “A “Republican workers party” would answer: “Go ahead. Make my day.” Like the quite different Progressive and New Deal Democrats in the South and Midwest in the 1930s, who were led by peripheral elites who sought to industrialize their regions while minimizing the influence of Northeastern capitalists and corporations, a populist Republican Party would promote state and local economic development by methods that do not involve kowtowing to liberal CEOs in San Francisco or New York—methods like “sewer socialism” (city or county ownership of utilities), cooperatives (the Tennessee Valley Authority), or state-owned enterprises, like the Bank of North Dakota, established in 1991.

    But such a strategy of using state and local government for economic self-defense against cultural as well as economic colonization by national and multinational corporations based in coastal cities is unthinkable for the Lesser Rich who control the Republican Party in red states. The GOP is a majority working-class party whose agenda is set by a minority of moderately rich, small-to-medium business owners and investors who think that working-class Republican voters are paid too much and have benefits that need to be slashed. Nearly a century after the New Deal, these Republican reactionaries have still not reconciled themselves to the minimum wage or Social Security. Their sole argument against Democrats on these issues is invocation of the threadbare scare-crow of “socialism.””
    even way out here, in isolated rural texas, we had a city councilwoman run on a city/county owned solar farm(then covid, so nothing ever became of it)
    and our one actually incorporated city(pop: 3500) has obtained and spent millions in state and federal grants to upgrade the water, sewer and power(city owned).
    during the first big government shutdown of obama’s era, i wrote a letter to the editor documenting just how much this county relies on “big government”(3 biggest employers: school, city, county, in that order)…and for once was met with silence,lol.
    none of the usual loudmouths and pontificators of goptea doctrine wanted to touch all that.
    today, i point out the numerous big sprinkler installations that have gone in in the last 2 years…all fedgov socialist money for the benefit of hay farmers, who also happen to employ mostly undocumented persons(while yelling about messkins takin ar jawbs).
    or the heavily subsidised(mostly through tax credits and such) solar arrays for far flung wellheads and ancient cabins serving as wine tasting B&B’s.
    and the Wineries!…tax incentives, loan garauntees, subsidies, grants galore! it’s a fiesta of free money from the hated State!
    there’s a lot of hypocrisy out there…yelling about the commie joe biden, while sucking at that fedgov teat themselves.
    (this is nothing new, really: see:https://farm.ewg.org/…for your county. my hypothesis that the most vocal enemies of big gubmint are the largest recipients of fedgov largess, was borne out handily)

    1. John

      Remember that classic sign in the early Tea Party days: “Get your government hands off my Medicare.”

      Always a bull market for hypocrisy.

  23. Kirtismayfield


    Man those Dems know how to incorporate the left and neuter it. Probably got a hefty raise AND was sold on “You will be making change from the inside” BS.

    Hint: nothing will change

  24. jr

    Jacobin presents Professor Wolff on “Incompetent Elites”:


    He discusses the kind of virtual reality Americans seem to be lost in, as if they can’t believe things are this bad. There are cracks forming and he discusses recent labor movements.

    This all resonates with Kathleen Stock’s discussion of the role of fictional identities in identitarian politics. We are, in short, lost in a world of illusion while the world literally burns. I am going to read her book, I think. Perhaps learn to fiddle.

    1. Wukchumni

      Find something to obsess over that’s real and won’t be affected by say war or a great depression, with the kicker being that money isn’t a factor really.

      Feeling good about Giant Sequoia trees in the vicinity, the KNP Fire hardly touched the Giant Forest grove but burned very close to it, making a giant firebreak for the rest of my life certainly, and the Atwell grove was burnt somewhat on the far western edge but to what extent i’ll just have to find out in the summer.

      I hiked up to Paradise Ridge through the eastern portion of the Atwell grove in December and nothing within eyesight sweep had burnt when looking a few ridges to the west-with telltale mushroom topped Sequoias poking their green heads out as usual.

  25. The Rev Kev

    ‘Just got myself a new battery for a power drill from Lidl. It refused to work with my drill out of the box so I had to connect it to an app and update the battery firmware. It’s working now, but why do I need an app to control/update a rechargeable battery @internetofshit’

    Somebody should really open up a museum to house exhibits for such things. It would be both funny and sad at the same time. If Lidl, for example, was to go out of business or be taken over by a larger corporation, then odds are that that battery could never be recharged again. Reminds me of the guy that was trying to get his IoS kettle to work all day long – and then spent dinnertime with his wife in the dark because the lights were doing a firmware update (true story).

    1. farragut

      Your IoS kettle example reminds me of the time 2-3 years from now when we see a spate of IoS portable AEDs …updating during some unfortunate schlub’s heart attack.

    2. Carolinian

      Lithium battery charging has to be controlled by software so the batteries don’t overheat and blow up. Still, have yet to encounter a battery with networking capabilities.

    3. albrt

      This is why I stopped buying battery powered tools about 10 years ago. Whether the batteries are smart or dumb, they change them every few years. Then you can’t get replacements and you have to buy all new tools.

      I think most people are OK with this because the replacement batteries cost almost as much as new tools anyway.

      1. Wukchumni

        I dunno know, I much prefer electric tools versus used once in awhile gas powered ones, and adore my new 40 volt Ryobi 18 inch chainsaw…

        ♫…He’s a lithium lumberjack and he’s ok!…♫

        1. juanholio

          My 8″ Ryobi chainsaw it’s very handy too. It’s not how big it is, it’s what you do with it!

      2. John Beech

        I believe DeWalt mayhave effectively separated themselves from the cycle through inadvertant market forces. Meaning, by accident versus intent (their intent being to do exactly what you suggested, change every few years to start a new buying cycle).

        Thing is in the trades they’ve largely become the default in part because they’re good tools but in part because DeWalt-clone batteries are widely available on Amazon and eBay. And for a whale of lot less. And because the tools are built so well, recent releases use the same battery mounts because folks are so invested. Will this hold? Dunno.

  26. Wukchumni

    I don’t know but i’ve been told
    If you die in battle in the Ukraine
    A post office in your name
    Back in the states could lead to fame

  27. none

    Where do the escape tunnels in that guy’s backyard let him escape to? The neighbors’ backyard? That doesn’t seem like much of an escape.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      likely to a cracker rigged pill box for flanking and/or enfilade maneuvers.
      you know, for when the Blue Helmets come and all.
      rainwater and grain alcohol stations throughout.

  28. Carolinian

    Interesting Tablet class analysis of our politics. Sounds like the Repubs represent the country clubbers they always represented while the Dems have switched to Wall St from the working class. The poor get mostly lip service.

    This may simply represent the reality of working class decline but then how much did Wall St. have to do with that? Bottom line is that there are a lot people, working or not, who need representation.

    Personally I’d vote for any party that excludes both Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. Unrig the game.

  29. Wukchumni

    Not having a doge or a dog in the fight, i’ve never seen such a clear financial bubble with such lasting power as cryptocurrency, Seinfeldian Semolians… it’s a bubble about nothing-and a sure hit!

    NFT is even more forceful, heck the very name Non Fungible Token means nothing.

    I can’t understand any of it and i’m living through the equivalent of John Law’s bubble but blown up and worldwide-not primarily limited to France in losses when it blew up real good about this time 3 centuries ago.

    If I can’t understand it and essentially no books have been written in regards to cryptocurrency which only exists in the ether, how would a historian in 3022 ever piece together the whole saga?

    It may well be the most unlikely straw that broke the camel’s back, or at the very least-the scapegoat.

  30. eg

    Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer has started trotting out the “we need to learn to live with Covid” narrative in preparation for the upcoming reopening plan (begins Monday and features two 21 day phases) which the government is insisting will mark the permanent end to public restrictions.

    Either they are going to get lucky or we are family-blogged …

    1. ambrit

      I’m beginning to think that “they” are counting on the rest of us putting up with being ‘family blogged’ as their “luck.”

    2. The Rev Kev

      Denmark is removing all it’s restrictions saying coronavirus will no longer be classed as a “socially critical” disease. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said ‘Tonight we can shrug our shoulders and find the smile again. We have incredibly good news, we can now remove the last coronavirus restrictions in Denmark.’ Let’s see how that woks out, matey-


  31. ChrisRUEcon


    > J. Michelle Childs, a federal judge and a favorite of House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn

    Hahaha! Look ay Clyburn goin’ for a two-fer! He got his black woman veep, and now he’s gonna get a matching Supreme! Call it a downpayment on future primary interventions against the next upstart, grassroots Dem primary insurgent!

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      De Yout’s!

      > Something for Fetterman to pay attention to

      Indeed … something any truly progressive politician ought to be looking at – channeling a lot of the disappointment into electoral change. I said on an earlier post, the top two high school grade-age set of students will be first time voters in 2024. One hopes they have choices worthy of their votes.

  32. VietnamVet

    I am currently watching “Station Eleven” on HBO Max. It is a slow slog even though it is the best on the ground TV series about the coming dystopia I’ve watched. The series is way too realistic with a charismatic star and a plot that bounces through time and the Heartland.

    When I first starting watching, the plot’s premise is that everyone dies in the first days from the flu seemed outlandish. I’m still here after two years isolated in suburbia; just going stir-crazy. But as The Rev Kev pointed out, the Omicron variant spread across the world in two months. The BA.2 omicron strain is rising in Denmark, UK, Norway & Sweden replacing the original variant. “The BA.2 version of Omicron may have 28 unique mutations compared to BA.1, even as the two Omicron strains share 32 mutations”. It is even more contagious. If this variant is also more lethal, the plot of “Station Eleven” becomes too real.

    The vaccine only response to the coronavirus pandemic is a gigantic failure for the people although a money maker for the wealthy in the West. The pandemic and the Ukraine/Russia standoff are symbols of the Western collapse. Even if no nuclear weapons are ignited, Russia cutting off natural gas to Europe would be catastrophic. The lack of heat in the dead of winter and/or no medical care is becoming a real possibility for millions of Westerners even if they survive Omicron BA.1 & 2.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Someone I know recommended it but … too close to home … for now. Same reason I have not watched reruns of the movie “Outbreak”.

      ::PeeWeeHermanVoice:: “I lived it, Dottie.”

      … or rather, still living it!

      Nearly everything about the pandemic response in the West shows a complete failure to govern and democidal dereliction of duty. There were a couple bright spots – the UK and Canada had furlough programs that should have been implemented here for workers who got laid off. Compared to “#NotJo3yBad4ss owes me $600”, it was a lot more money. But eventually it all went to tosh everywhere, with the sacred economy needing much sacrifice!

      In any case, I’m thankful for IM Doc and GM here. People who don’t want to get infected will do their best and the maximum possible. Those who value their free-dumb more will continue as they please. In the end, though, the virulence of Omicron will take people out of circulation one way or another, and numbers will fall as the virus finds less willing hosts to infect. All we can do is try to stay safe, and keep our loved ones the same.

      FWIW, I do not think there will be a war with Ukraine. The EU won’t survive winter without Russian natural gas, and the only thing that belligerent US policy will do is drive the EU to greater detente with Russia.

      Hope I’m right.

      1. LawnDart

        FWIW, I do not think there will be a war with Ukraine. The EU won’t survive winter without Russian natural gas, and the only thing that belligerent US policy will do is drive the EU to greater detente with Russia.

        Agree. I think this is a wag-the-dog distraction from our domestic issues, and that it’ll pass like the Winter snow– too much unrest and disturbance here to ignore.

        I’m not so happy with the AP these days, but I thought that this was a well-written story that illustrates one of the divides (the partisan one) present in USA. I think it provides more anecdotal evidence for nearly endemic distrust and anger caused by USA government disinformation (lying) with regards to the virus, how communities have become starkly divided and are turning upon themselves with neighbor vs neighbor hostility.

        As this story takes place in Minnesota, I am wondering what outcome, what strange social mutations and behaviors will arise, as Minnesota Nice becomes infected with right-wing fanaticism?


        1. Noone from Nowheresville

          Decent article. Wish they’d do one in an urban setting.

          I’ve lived in Minnesota. The only thing I’d add is that there is also liberal-wing fanaticism to go with the right-wing fanaticism.

          Rural v. urban, working class v. college-trained. So many divides. People see all the symptoms of the social contracts shredding around them. They know their quality of life and life expectancy keep decreasing. That their children / grandchildren will be worse off than they were.

          These people, along with the rest of us, have played by the rules of our youth and our communities. Many of us have sacrificed to stay together and survive. And yet we are still being sacrificed.

          So is it any wonder that they, and by extension we, reach for slogans containing a nugget of truth in them as well as a sense of community to try to explain what’s going on and why. Some of these nuggets rightly identify symptoms but never truly get to the rot. Or if one prefers to believe there is no malice intended, then let’s have an honest talk of policy decisions: who gets sacrificed for what specific objectives, why and what they get in return, if anything, for their sacrifice. When was the last time that ever happened?

          How long can any Community Nice survive in the face of the deciders’ current and future policies? Which community will be asked to make the next big sacrifice? Will that community be able to survive the sacrifice? Will anyone outside of their community even know that they were lost?

          1. lance ringquist

            rural areas that were reliable DFL voters have become radicalized, and the GOP has made massive inroads.

            the arrowhead region was a stronghold, not no more, nafta billy clintons disastrous polices stripped untold manufacturing out of that region.

            leaving iron workers with the only jobs they could find like tourism.

            today in public if you say democrat, the deplorable will spit at you.

            so much manufacturing has been stripped out of minnesota, that even in the twin cities you can see the GOP making inroads.

            nafta billy clinton took everything away from these people, many ended up in jail, homeless, divorced, or killed themselves.

            nafta billy committed treason and genocide.

  33. LawnDart

    Sarah Palin dines out two days after testing positive.

    Why? Because F everyone else, that’s why. Do public health officials still have the power to forcibly quarentine an infectious person who knowingly exposes others to infection? Used to be a thing, right?

    But hell, here we are, in a country that today forces people back to work while they are still sick and likely infectious– puting others at risk is a-ok if it’s to further the ends of capitalism, and dining-out stimulates the economy so I guess it’s all hunky-dorey.


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