2:00PM Water Cooler 10/6/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Rufous-brown Solitaire, Nariño, Colombia.

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

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“The logic of the insult and the logic of scientific classification represent the two extreme poles of what a classification may be in the social world.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Disasters divert Biden’s fall agenda” [Politico]. • Wait. Biden had an agenda? I mean, beyond fomenting war with a nuclear power and instituting eugenics as the baseline for public health policy?


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AZ: “Rep. Liz Cheney Says Arizona GOP Candidates Threaten Democracy” [HuffPo]. “Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney on Wednesday said the Republican candidates for Arizona governor and secretary of state pose a huge risk for democracy because both say they will refuse to certify election results if they don’t like the results….Cheney also leveled broadsides as what she said was a growing “Putin wing” of the Republican Party who want America to withdraw from the world stage and refuse to defend freedom in other countries.”

NV: “Democrats’ Troubles in Nevada Are a Microcosm of Nationwide Headwinds” [New York Times]. “The Culinary Workers Union members who are knocking on doors to get out the vote are on the cursed-at front lines of the Democratic Party’s midterm battle. Most voters do not open their doors. And when some do answer, the canvassers might wish they hadn’t. ‘You think I am going to vote for those Democrats after all they’ve done to ruin the economy?’ a voter shouted one evening last week from her entryway in a working-class neighborhood of East Las Vegas. Miguel Gonzalez, a 55-year-old chef who described himself as a conservative Christian who has voted for Republicans for most of his life, was more polite but no more convinced. ‘I don’t agree with anything Democrats are doing at all,’ he said after taking a fistful of fliers from the union canvassers. Those who know Nevada best have always viewed its blue-state status as something befitting a desert: a kind of mirage. Democrats are actually a minority among registered voters, and most of the party’s victories in the last decade were narrowly decided. But the state has long been a symbolic linchpin for the party — vital to its national coalition and its hold on the blue West. Now, Democrats in Nevada are facing potential losses up and down the ballot in November and bracing for a seismic shift that could help Republicans win control of both houses of Congress. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto remains one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country. Gov. Steve Sisolak is fighting his most formidable challenger yet. And the state’s three House Democrats could all lose their seats.” • I suppose the bright side would be that the Reid machine will be cleaned out at last. But it’s more likely it will be more powerful than ever.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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.

* * *

“Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at Weekly Press Conference” [Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House]. ” Right now, the best thing that we can do for our economy is to have comprehensive immigration reform. We have a shortage of workers in our country, and you see even in Florida some of the farmers and the growers saying, ‘Why are you shipping these immigrants up north? We need them to pick the crops down here.'” • Oh.

Republican Funhouse

Trump Legacy

“Is There Anything That Will Make the ‘Former Guy’ Go Away?” [New York Times]. Betteridge’s Law applies. Nevertheless, a conversation between Gail Collins and Bret Stephens: “[Bret:] My main problem with most G.O.P. hopefuls is that they are what I’ve come to call ‘one-sheep Republicans.’ Not sure if I need to explain — Gail: Oh, let yourself go. Bret: It’s a reference to an old joke about an old man whose lifetime of good deeds on behalf of his little village is undone on account of a single unfortunate moment of passion with a woolly companion. The point is that much as I prefer most Republican policy proposals on stuff like regulation and taxes, the refusal to forthrightly accept the results of the last election is their sheep. Gail: Bret, whenever I look at a Republican on TV, I will now see a little fluffy creature baa-ing softly in the corner. Thanks.” • Gotta respect the meme-age, but yikes.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Dose of Rational Optimism” (review) [Dissent]. Review of Brad DeLong’s Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century. “Humanity, the Berkeley economist argues, spent nearly the entirety of its history condemned to poverty by an insufficient supply of calories and a chronically excessive birth rate. But in the “long twentieth century”—the period between 1870 and 2010—an almost miraculous transformation took place: more and more people lived longer, healthier, more prosperous lives than ever before. Arenas of intellect and creative expression that were once accessible only to the most privileged of elites became the common experiences of mass cultures. Humans did not find utopia, DeLong argues, but we stumbled in its general direction. In the grim morass that has followed the financial crisis of 2008, it is refreshing to receive a dose of rational optimism—however tempered—from a serious intellectual examining our place in the grand scheme of history. DeLong does not avert his readers’ eyes from the brutalities of imperial conquest, genocide, and revolution gone awry, which define the political milieu of the era under his microscope. But his narrative is fundamentally hopeful: people can accomplish amazing things on a colossal scale. Not that long ago, we did so all the time. This perspective is refreshing precisely because everyone, DeLong included, knows that something has gone terribly wrong.” • Maybe I at least have to give this book the random opening test.

“The most common restaurant cuisine in every state, and a chain-restaurant mystery” [WaPo]. “When Clio Andris and Xiaofan Liang gave us early access to the latest update of their delightful data on chain restaurants, they already had identified its most compelling mystery: Places that support Donald Trump also tend to have the most franchise foods. But why? It turns out ‘the foodscape is very political,’ said Liang, a PhD candidate at Georgia Tech’s School of City & Regional Planning. ‘Places with a high percentage of Trump voters have a higher percentage of chains. We didn’t expect it.’ Chain restaurants — those ubiquitous monuments to corporate consistency, from Applebee’s to Arby’s, Olive Garden to Pizza Hut — are most common in Kentucky, West Virginia and Alabama. They’re rarest in Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii. Maine, New York and D.C. also tend to have fewer chains.” • The map:

Half the country!


Patient readers: Holy moley, the Walgreens site came alive again! That makes me feel a lot less mournful about the state of our data, since we now have some checks on CDC (variants and positivity).

Tomorrow, however, I do CDC’s Rapid Riser and Hospitalization charts for the last time, since the interagency hairball that publishes them is going to weekly publication on Friday, and I don’t think that’s frequent enough to be useful. Too bad they couldn’t have waited until after holiday travel, but there we are. The case counts are undercounts, but it seems to be they’re the best we have. I am not sure, however, that “the best we have” is good enough.

Since case counts, hospitalization, and deaths all correlate, I think we can agree there was no back-to-school surge in September. Dropping positivity reinforces that. What worries me, however, is the emergence of a new, vaccine-escaping variant, before or during the holidays. I’m reluctant to rely only variant data for this, since variant data is really laggy (not enough labwork fast enough). Wastewater data helps here, but CDC coverage is really patchy, and in any case I want a check on them. What worries me is that “experts say” that what happens in the UK happens in the US about a month later; and the UK is having a surge. I’m open to suggestions from readers on how to handle that, and for sources with which to revise this section (and, incidentally, save myself some time so I can write more about the economy under Stats, which is neglected). Should I abandon case counts entirely, for example? Since Johns Hopkins is mumbling about cutting them back? Focus on more local sources for wastewater? Readers, thoughts?

* * *

• “Lineage diversity” is the dotted line:

* * *

• Re-upping an extremely long and useful thread on superspreading events:

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• Hmm. One wonders why:

I went and checked:

December’s only two months away, so why do anything? Can readers comment on whether this stinks as much as it seems to?

* * *

• Remember when kids didn’t get Covid? Good times:

* * *

• “Once Known for Vaccine Skeptics, Marin Now Tells Them ‘You’re Not Welcome’” [New York Times]. The deck: “The wealthy California county just north of San Francisco has one of the nation’s highest Covid-19 vaccination rates after years of being known for parents who opposed shots for childhood diseases.” • ”They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

• “CDC: Keep Family From Catching Your Covid By Isolating In A Separate Room” [Forbes]. Now they tell us. An “Editor’s Pick,” no less. “A new CDC study shows that isolating in separate rooms significantly reduced the odds of SARS-CoV-2 transmission between household members. Isolating in separate rooms proved to be the most effective mitigation measure against onward SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission regardless of age, gender, vaccination status, and other risk factors. While vaccination was found to reduce the risk of infection, it did not appear to reduce transmission within the household. Both vaccinated (primary vaccination series) and unvaccinated adults and children with varying demographic factors were found to transmit the virus at similar rates. The study serves as a reminder that we should not ignore public health and nonmedical interventions such as masking and isolating, even as mandates are dropping and much of the world is experiencing fatigue.” • Interestingly, although the CDC study linked to has many CDC authors, it was published at Open Forum Infectious Diseases, not at Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

* * *

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the nominal case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~43,300. Today, it’s ~40,721 and 40,721 * 6 = a Biden line at 244,326. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of the first surge in New York, in the spring of 2020 (after which the Times printed the images of the 100,000 who died, considering that a large number, as it was at the time).

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

Probably it will turn out that all Florida’s records were destroyed by Hurricane Ian, what a shame.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

Frankly. the steady drop among all this smallish Southern states collectively gives me more hope than anything else.

The West:

This drop is the reason the national figures dropped. Every time there’s been a drop this large, it’s been revised away.


Wastewater data (CDC), October 2:

Lambert here: I’m pleased to see that there are now some live sites in New York City.

For grins, September 1:

An alert reader suggested taking a look at the MWRA data from the Boston area, and lo and behold:

Lambert here: Both North and South sewer systems showed a slight drop.

This is a seven-day average, mind you, so the rise is no fluke. (MRWA is divided into north and south sewersheds. Both are rising.) Let us also remember that the Boston area is not only the home of many, many students, it’s also a PMC center, and we have already seen one ginormous superspreader event from the conference in Boston. Boston also has a major international airport, another cause of spread.


UPDATED From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, October 4:

0.4%. Nevertheless encouraging.

Readers, please click through on this, if you have a minute. Since Walgreens did the right thing, let’s give this project some stats.


NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)

Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more yellow and more blue, which continues to please. But is the pandemic “over”? Well….

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), October 4:

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), October 4:

See the NOTE below. It’s mind-boggling that this report is being cut back at a time when hospitalization is rising in the Northeast. I mean, I thought hospitalization was what these guys cared about?

NOTE: From CDC: “Effective September 23, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated once a week, on Fridays. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the delayed upload for 09/30/2022.” At top right, the Download is labeled “Updated: October 4, 2022.” The file name: “Community_Profile_Report_20220929.pfd.” Even in the smallest things, CDC just lies and lies. To be fair, this file is really produced by “an interagency team with representatives from multiple agencies and offices (including the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Indian Health Service. So they’re all lying, not just the CDC. “The way to control and direct a mentat, Nefud, is through his information. False information–false results”. -Baron Harkonnen.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), September 24:

Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its appearance in CDC data below.

Variant data, national (CDC), September 10 (Nowcast off):


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,086,685 – 1,085,366 = 1319 (1319 * 365 = 481,435, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

• Meanwhile in Australia:

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 29,000 to 219,000 in the week that ended October 1st, jumping from the five-month low hit in the prior week and sharply above expectations of 203,000, suggesting some loosening in labor market conditions.”

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Retail: “Amazon debuts new shopping portal for customers on government assistance” [CNN]. “Amazon on Monday launched a new shopping portal called Amazon Access that is designed for shoppers receiving government assistance. The shopfront features SNAP EBT on Amazon, information about the Amazon Layaway program that all shoppers can use to pay for their orders over time and spotlights discounts and coupons for any customer on essential grocery items. Amazon already offers some services for low-income customers, such as discounted Amazon Prime membership. It also accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits for groceries purchased through Amazon Grocery, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods. The company said the new portal is meant to be a centralized hub that puts these individual benefits all in one place. ‘Given the tough economic climate with many facing rising costs on essential needs, we want our customers to know about all the accessible offerings available on Amazon, no matter their circumstances,’ said Nancy Dalton, head of community partnerships for Amazon Access. Amazon (AMZN) also announced it has renamed its discounted Prime membership to Prime Access. Eligible customers can sign up for the service on Amazon (AMZN) Access.” • Access. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

Tech: Why Google’s products are as they are:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 30 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 14 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 6 at 12:59 PM EDT.

Feral Hog Watch

This tweet went viral:

Two clickthroughs, and the story is attested, albeit from 2013: “Drunk and boarish: swigging pig hogs 18 beers at campsite” [Guardian].

Department of Feline Felicity

“The Case for Cats” [The Atlantic]. “If I’m being completely honest, maybe it’s the feline personality that’s my personal catnip. My cats are just as cuddly as any dog I’ve ever had—probably more. They’re affectionate and personable; they come running when we call; they greet us at the door. And every cat I’ve met has been such a distinct individual, such a character: bursting with strong opinions, clear-cut preferences, bizarre and memorable quirks. And those traits are steadfast. Whether they’re scared, happy, suspicious, or confused, Calvin and Hobbes are always Calvin and Hobbes. I get that cats can sometimes be contrarian. I get that their outer shell can sometimes be tough to crack. But for me, that makes them all the more fascinating. Their trust and affection is hard-won. So when it’s earned, it feels that much more meaningful.” • I love my ruthlessly efficient little predator….

Health Care

Medicare for All? Why?

I was at the periphery of the last major push for single payer, where “Medicare for All” became the talking point because (it was felt) “single payer” was too technical, and in retrospect I think the rebranding was a mistake. Too many people have had bad experiences with Medicare having been crapified, and in any case Medicare Advantage is hollowing out Medicare proper from the inside. And then the “For All” part, meant to imply improvement, got lost in the shuffle. And then the liberal Democrats got Joe Biden in, and he anesthetized everything. So it goes.

Groves of Academe


I would need to check Taleb’s writings carefully, but if “contagion” is a metaphor, like “hive mind,” instead of a mechanism, I’d be disappointed.

Zeitgeist Watch

“At Topeka Gun & Knife Show, cruel ironies fester amid aisles of weapons” [Kansas Reflector]. At the Topeka Gun & Knife Show: “I step out of the show instead, past a cheerful blonde with a U.S. flag and a poster that says, “Register to vote.” Next to her, a uniformed police officer is posted, and I recognize her. She often provides security at our church, which makes me think of a time — not that long ago — when none of us worried about shooters storming into worship services with semi-automatic weapons that fire up to 60 bullets a minute, exploding organs. How strange to see her here now, providing security for gun buyers in a center named for a hospital. At the exit, I once again pass the small square signs that show crossed-out handguns, and I realize that the last time I was here, a dozen hard-working nurses were receiving the crowd, keeping the COVID-19 vaccine syringes going, making sure we were all safer and less likely to die.”

Class Warfare

“Alabama Paper Mill Workers Want Their Lives Back — And They’re Giving Up $30,000 To Get It” [The Real News]. “In the morning of Oct. 1, after a 50-hour voting period, almost 500 union members from three United Steel Workers (USW) locals at WestRock’s Mahrt Mill paper mill in Cottonton, Alabama, voted to reject a second contract offer from the company. The refusal to ratify WestRock’s ‘last, best, and final’ offer came as a result of the company insisting on removing contract language pertaining to what the workers there call ‘penalties’ for long hours. Members resoundingly rejected this contract, even though it included an unheard-of $28,000 ratification bonus—increased from an already staggering offer of $20,000, which workers already rejected on Sept. 21. Members resoundingly rejected this contract, even though it included an unheard-of $28,000 ratification bonus—increased from an already staggering offer of $20,000, which workers already rejected on Sept. 21. The penalties in question include time-and-a-half pay on Sundays (which turns into double time if an employee was already at or above 40 hours for the week), and time-and-a-half pay retroactively applied for one’s whole shift if said shift goes over 16 hours (what’s known as ‘Hog Law’ in the industry).” • Not just the signing bonus; time-and-a-half (!). Commentary:

“Why are we so afraid to govern?” [Worcester Sucks and I Love It]. “The vocabulary itself is a buffer against reform. So if I accurately described the demand The Worcester Together Affordable Housing Coalition made at a rally Wednesday—to alter a draft inclusionary zoning ordinance so that the required 10 percent of income-restricted units in new developments would be set to accommodate households making 60 percent of the area median income instead of 80 percent, as it’s currently written—it feels like I’m speaking in some sort of foreign language. The people who stand to gain from the status quo this language perpetuates are quite fluent—the developers, the hedge fund managers, the attorneys and the City Hall people who work with (for?) them. They know what I’m saying! On the other hand, the people who stand to lose—really, anyone who lives here and makes less than $100,000 a year—couldn’t be blamed for having no idea what any of that means. If you’re not a housing advocate or work in public policy or a weird nerd (me), why the hell would you bother to learn this impossibly boring language? Smart policies that would have real popular appeal are thus buried behind a fog of inscrutability. It’s just so hard to craft a compelling message. So I suppose the best way to kick off my attempt at such a message is to quote the only person in history to come up with a good one: Jimmy McMillan, who famously said in no uncertain terms that the rent is just too damn high.”

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

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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. From TF:

TF writes: “Sphinx feeding on Cestrum.”

Readers, I could still use more plant photos (and honorary plant photos, like fungi or coral). Fall colors, garden yield, whatever you’ve got!

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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. Tom Doak

    Regarding a surge of COVID in the UK: I’ve been in the U.K. the past two weeks, and the only place I’ve seen a mask on anyone was at the airport when arriving, and even there they were few and far between. If there’s a new variant, it is bound to multiply here.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If there’s a new variant, it is bound to multiply here.

      Not necessarily; the UK and US populations are divergent. But it’s certainly a danger. That’s why we have testing at airports, to detect the variants before they have a chance to spread and start their doubling behavior.

      Ha ha, who am I kidding?

  2. SpainIsHot

    Every time I come across that Fitzgerald line, I read it again and again and again, even though I already know it by heart –how could someone write (and describe the phenomenon) so well?

  3. madarka

    I’ve been making my way through DeLong’s Slouching towards Utopia these last few days. It’s an easy read, with a good walkthrough of some economic ideas from Hayek (markets rah rah rah!), Polanyi (Man does not live by markets alone), Keynes, etc.; the book walks you through the happenings of from 1870 onwards using that perspective, with an engaging style and interesting digressions on inventions and other odds and ends. I’ve think its nice so far, although the content is less academic than I expected. Its basically a good introduction to recent economic history for people without a background in economics. Since it looks back at the age of rapid material progress and compares it to the long, hard slog of human history, it does seem to be a book of “tempered optimisim”. i’ll have to report back when I’m finished.

      1. jsn

        It really feels like we’re just ridiculously complicated bacteria in a needlessly complicated petri dish, devouring all the sugar until all that’s left is our own poop and dead bodies.

        The astonishing achievements of 250,000 years of evolution into super sociability reduced to “the long, hard slog of human history”, after which the sociopaths took over society and money/math took over our souls.

        The more complex our societies get, the more venues for sociopathic, anti-sociality to flourish. One can see from here how our technologies can still be used to solve, or at least start to heal the ecological wounds we’ve inflicted on the world. But within the context of the social institutions we’ve come to accept, there’s no chance in hell of acting on it. Delong is thinking about tinkering with this vast, ecocidal system. In The “Dawn of Everything” Graeber and Wengrow try to get us to consider exiting that system. This strikes me as our only real hope. If “property” doesn’t become contingent and “ecology” absolute, the direct opposite of our current intellectual configuration, we’re toast.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          Completely agree about sociality: such a completely amazing achievement and how sad and absurd it is to see us throw it away. (On the other hand, it seems pretty clear that sociality came about hand in hand with “fear of the other” – at least for the societies that have survived/thrived – so always a built-in capacity for self-annihilation.)

          It’s pretty much impossible for an economist to conceive of human history prior to 1870 as anything other than zero. The math requires it (even for non-psychotic economists like Deaton).

          But I do agree with Delong that, in the course of figuring out how to burn up all that carbon-based energy, we did stumble into (cause by stumbling?) some pretty amazing advances. Thinking in particular about women’s rights, gay rights, anti-discrimination in general, public education for all. Still plenty far to go even in these areas but certainly impressive progress over that long 20th century.

      2. marku52

        This. Groaf correlates almost 100% with energy consumption. Now that energy is getting scarce, so is Groaf.

        This is so obvious, of course an economist will miss it. “Well energy is only about 2%of the economy, so if it disappears, we will only lose about 2% of GDP”


      3. eg

        Yeah, it’s hard to miss the fairly obvious correlation between fossil fuel consumption and economic activity — though I have yet to see any acknowledgment of it in the reviews of DeLong’s book. Not having read it I don’t know whether or not Brad discusses this in the book. If not, it’s either an egregious oversight or flat out disingenuous.

    1. Nordberg

      I was going to mention something like that. When I was growing up, going to a Chili’s or Apple Bee’s type place was fancy.. Mom and pop Meats and three’s (The Rendezvous and The Oasis) were for random dinners. The chains were for something special.

    2. Carlitos

      Let me tell you about the antithesis: Venice California, once a blue collar workers’ place with the Hughes helicopter plant the main employer, now that’s long been a Costco.

      Majority of people are uber wealthy, mostly ex-New Yorkers, driving Teslas and luxury cars, their low level supportive staff, lots of $40 juice drinks and snotty attitudes and plenty of Biden/Harris bumper stickers.

      Meanwhile the little brown people scuttle to their prep room and janitorial jobs but do grab fast food along the major boulevards. Unfortunately there are no greasy-spoon burrito places left, it’s all chains.

      European tourists gawk at the scenery and life goes on. Can’t wait for the BidenDepression to hit these entitled people good and hard.

  4. fresno dan

    Petraeus is, of course, highly plugged in to the national security elites. He’s on the board of the Institute for the Study of War, along with his mentor, Gen. Jack Keane, and neocon hawks Bill Kristol and Kimberly Kagan (wife of Frederick Kagan, and sister-in-law of Robert Kagan and his Ukraine uber-hawk wife, Victoria Nuland). The same neocon intellectuals who led America into the Iraq debacle are now busy trying to lead us to war with Russia. How do these people have any influence at all anymore? But they do. I’m hearing that the US national security class is full of serious people talking seriously about the survivability of nuclear war.
    I wonder about the very design of the US political system – how after the disaster of Iraq, a mere 20 years later when everyone has matured and the truth of that debacle is evident, we have individuals in positions of influence who want to double down to nuclear war. One would think it would be Inconceivable, but somehow, not in America…

    1. nippersdad

      I would go back even further, to the Cuban missile crisis. Those Goldwater types have been talking about the survivability of nuclear war for my entire life. One look at Hillary Clinton makes me want to get under my desk to this day, so it should come as no surprise that those who cater to their needs would have a deep and bunker like human infrastructure.

      They breed like tribbles that have found a sandwich.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Nuclear war is our destiny and it has been since Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
        As they say out here about difficult chores,
        Embrace the suck.

        1. JBird4049

          >>> I’m hearing that the US national security class is full of serious people talking seriously about the survivability of nuclear war.

          Really, they are seriously inhaling the stupid; I am starting to miss all the presidents before The Bill and Hil Show. Some of them were not so nice, but none of them were so foolish as to dance with nuclear Armageddon for mere profit.

          Or is that for a paycheck? “Hey, I just went on the Boobtube and Twitty to say that we would win Nuclear Armageddon!! Isn’t that great?! Now, I sold my soul and possibly the lives of everyone I love for those dollars, like you direct deposit it?”

          1. nippersdad

            Speaking of inhaling the stupid, Ritter is saying that Zelensky has asked the US to preemptively bomb Russia so that they can see what is waiting for them if they bomb Ukraine.

            I wonder what he has been sniffing, and how many IQ points he has lost in the process.

            1. JBird4049


              I keep thinking about a bottle of beer (or three). Anchor Steam, Red Tail, maybe splurge on Chimay, but really, I don’t think I could stop right now. So, no beer.

              Yes, even beer is denied me, thanks to the Biden Regime. Feh, I wish I was joking.

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      I have a different view. Despite all the talk about nuclear war, nuclear war survivability, and so forth it is in no one’s interest to initiate nuclear war. I’ll go so far as to say that even nations facing an existential threat will not resort to nuclear weapons, unless fired upon first. These nations will surrender rather than commit mutual suicide. Even the United States will be in this camp. My reasoning is thus: Human civilizations have been around for thousands of years. In the absence of global nuclear war and global ecological collapse human civilizations should be around for thousands of years more. There have been many empires over the course of human history. They all have eventually collapsed. And yet civilizations survived. The current empire will eventually collapse as well, and short of the previously mentioned catastrophes civilizations will survive. The powers that be who run this world may be crazy and foolish, shortsighted and greedy, but they are likely not completely insane. Before Joe Biden or Vladimir Putin launch missiles powers that exist behind the scenes will intervene and prevent such launches. It may be generals. It may be financiers. It may be oligarchs. Biden and Putin are in no way all powerful. Neither is Xi. Even if Russia surrenders to the West it will still survive in some form. At a later date it can reconstitute itself. But only if it hasn’t been destroyed in nuclear war. The same applies to the United States and to China. This age of weapons of mass destruction represent a tiny fraction of human history. It will not usher in the end of human history. Something else might, but not that.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Man, this is a hard disagree, there is no reverse gear.
        ‘They’ destroyed undersea pipelines.
        They double down on every wrong move.
        Saudi disagrees, remove our protection, you are either with us or against us.
        Pretty soon, you run out of people that are ‘with’ us.

      2. Greg

        Definitely can’t agree with an argument that boils down to “nuclear war won’t happen because it hasn’t happened in history”. Especially when used to justify brinkmanship.

      3. Cetra Ess

        Until the US sabotaged the pipelines I would have agreed no country would willingly go down this path but I now think the US is willing and wanting, that the pipeline was intended to signal this.

        “Watch this, *creates the biggest release of gas into the atmosphere, making climate change worse and hastening the demise of all civilization*, if we’re willing to do this what else do you think we’d do just to spite you?”

      4. Pat

        I have seen no sign of sanity in our current so called diplomatic and defense leaders and consultants. Instead I have viewed a delusional paranoid hatred of another nuclear power, along with a narcissistic sense of power and ability that has spawned and encouraged actions that not just increased the possibility of world war but weakened our position as a reserve currency.

        When they indicate a belief that “we” can survive a nuclear war take them at their word. You just need to understand that the main point for most of us shouldn’t be whether it is an accurate assessment or not, it is that the majority of Americans aren’t included in that “we” they are referring to and are therefore not even a consideration.

  5. nippersdad

    ‘Why are you shipping these immigrants up north? We need them to pick the crops down here.’” • Oh.

    I’m surprised Kamala hasn’t suggested her time tested means for getting things done in California. Doesn’t Florida have enough prison labor to get in the sugar crop? Bob Menendez needs to get his crack team of Cuban expatriate planters right on that before Nancy’s two sub-zero freezers start to run low and she gets hangry about something.

    No one want to see that.

    1. flora

      Dem estab going back to its Jeffersonian economic roots? Heck of a Dem campaign slogan. “We need cheaper workers.” / heh

  6. nippersdad

    Further to something found last night, there is apparently already a bill to whisk away our military infrastructure from Saudi Arabia and the UAE:

    “Three House Democrats have introduced legislation to end U.S. troop protection in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in response to news this week that OPEC and its allies will slash oil production.”


    It takes them fifty years to notice that they have not codified Roe, but the opportunity not to own Russia for a minute is The Absolute End. So I read this….

    “In addition to removing those troops and American missile defense systems from the two countries, the legislation introduced by Reps. Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Susan Wild (D-Pa.) would move all U.S. technology and defense systems elsewhere in the region.

    Israel, perhaps?

    1. Paradan

      So if you remove those systems then Iran can completely annihilate their oil industry, dropping production far in excess of the 2 billion bpd thats got them so upset. Their(OPEC) only option therefore is to turn to China and Russia to provide an effective IADS, and pushing a key component of the dollar system over to it’s main competitor.

      It’s just one goddam own goal after another.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        This is truly like watching The Three Stooges in real time.
        There was an article/opinion earlier this week that posited, even if you went to stupid school, you couldn’t be this effin stupid.
        Saudis should say, be out of here by sundown.
        Do it for the children.

      2. Lex

        But KSA and Iran are inching towards settling their differences. Iran would hold off. The Houthis not so much. But you are correct. It would turn the Saudis agains the US for good, causing huge problems for US basing in the Persian Gulf either by Saudi design or Houthi drone completely wreck the world energy market as well as MIC profits. Apparently our congress people don’t know what production costs for US oil are and how it needs relatively high prices to be feasible.

        1. nippersdad

          The Iranian (sponsored) attack on the Al Qaiq facility after Soleimani was assassinated during their covert rapprochement must have opened Saudi eyes to just how well we could protect their oil infrastructure. Meaning, not much.

          Your point about the differential between the production cost of US oil and Russian/Iranian/Saudi oil is well taken. Pricing will truly be in the cartels’ hands, no war hawks necessary. Reports about Saudi reserves have been declining for years now, so husbanding their resources may be best served by being the face of the cartel rather than just its’ most high profile exporter.

    2. The Rev Kev

      What if the Saudis asked the Chinese in to set up shop in their place? Or even – gasp – the Russians?

  7. semper loquitur

    re: A Dose of Optional Rationalism

    “For DeLong, the ingredients of economic liberation are the industrial research lab, the modern corporation, a globalizing economy, effective demand management, and the rough balance of private and public power discovered during the New Deal.”

    There are far, far better NC commenters than I in the areas of economic history but I have to take exception to the list of DeLong’s engines of economic liberation. Research labs have become the playthings of the modern corporation, who have used them and every other societal asset they can buy or steal to further the consolidation of wealth into a small circle of hands. The globalized economy has destroyed good jobs in it’s constant, acidic quest to squeeze a few percentile points of profit out of whatever exploitative relationship it can find or create. Demand management, if I understand it correctly as creating and maintaining consumer demand, includes creating demand for unhealthy, ecologically unsound foodstuffs, social media and entertainment addictions, and your second hulking Dodge Ram! 4 by 4 that never carries a load or leaves the asphalt. The balance of private and public power has been decidedly warped towards the private, what with a political system that runs on corruption, the mass propagandization of voters via a compliant mainstream media, the undermining of public education, and fire-hose force injections of marketing and advertising into every aspect of the average citizen’s life. I suspect the liberal progressive’s uncanny knack for finding the bright side of a $hit-sandwich is at work…

    1. Goingnowhereslowly

      Many, many years ago (early 80’s), when I was an undergrad in materials science at MIT, we had a talk by one of the founders of Chaparral Steel, the first major steel mini mill. Mini mills use scrap metal as their primary input rather than refining iron from ore. They now dominate what steel manufacturing is left in the US.
      He recounted his first job as a newly minted PhD in US Steel’s research lab. He said after a few years he realized that his and his colleagues’ work submitted to corporate HQ just went into a black hole and never seemed to be implemented as improvements to processes or products. That was when he started looking for a different professional path.
      I spent my career in policy, not engineering, but I’ve never forgotten that story. What happened to the colleagues who didn’t go out and found a new industrial sector? Why were the labs just an ornament to a dominant firm? I studied economics in grad school and I have my theories of course, mostly to do with the abuse of market power and the inevitable resistance to change in apparently successful firms. It still makes me sad that we have lost the industrial research capacity we once had. I don’t think we are getting it back.

      1. semper loquitur

        Thanks for sharing your experience. I feel the way you do about pretty much everything I see around me. Opportunities lost to greed or stupidity or usually a combination of the two. I don’t think it’s coming back anytime soon either.

      2. Old Sarum

        Lost capacities:

        I have recently been following “Whats going on with shipping?” on Youtube which to a great degree is about the difficulties of getting goods from China to the US. From this and other indicators it seems that the US does not have an industrial or economic policy other than the milking of US dollar hegemony until the ultimate collapse of the US military which supports it. Sal Mercogliano also covers imperial collapse by default with his videos on the Navy’s black-comedy fire-fighting efforts. As a fire-fighter and former mariner he has irons in the fire (pun intended).


  8. Midtownwageslave

    COVID data point: Close Family is an elementary school teacher who, after almost 3 years of masking and following the appropriate precautions, caught COVID from one of their students (who is disabled and shouldn’t have even been in the classroom) TWO WEEKS after hizzoner Adams withdrew COVID protections from public schools.

    Wait it gets better; three other teachers were out with COVID during CF’s absence and no one bothered to alert other staff and students. The information only came out after everyone was back in the classroom.

    These events are representative of multiple systemic failures, in government, local administration, and the school district. Truly a sight to behold.

    1. Bart Hansen

      Hey, that 86.3 figure for child antibodies should indicate we are nearing juvenile herd immunity, right, Lambert?

      Fauci once said it takes 70-75% but later ‘pivoted’ to 90%

    2. Pat

      Just wait, if I have been informed correctly there is now no specified paid leave for Covid, it is just sick leave. That means if you get multiple cases you will easily max out your sick leave and no longer have paid leave to stay home. It isn’t just going to be parents sending children to school who should have stayed home, especially the lower paid workers in the education system.

      February will be very interesting.

  9. Wukchumni

    “At Topeka Gun & Knife Show, cruel ironies fester amid aisles of weapons” [Kansas Reflector]. At the Topeka Gun & Knife Show: “I step out of the show instead, past a cheerful blonde with a U.S. flag and a poster that says, “Register to vote.” Next to her, a uniformed police officer is posted, and I recognize her. She often provides security at our church, which makes me think of a time — not that long ago — when none of us worried about shooters storming into worship services with semi-automatic weapons that fire up to 60 bullets a minute, exploding organs

    I used to attend what was the biggest gun show in the country @ the LA County Fairgrounds in Pomona. I wasn’t there for high velocity hijinx, but in search of aged round metal discs, along with watching the freak show in my midst. There were always men playing dress up, and you’d see an awful lot of Werhmacht wannabes, pretty sick.

    It was one of the few non-civilian casualties of our myriad of mass murder sprees, LA County wanting no part of it after Columbine, and it drifted off the Vegas and then died out.

    1. scott s.

      Yes, that was a great show. Remember BITD you could buy as many SKS rifles as you could carry for $100 each and no DROS. It was good for bulk purchase of 9 mil pistol ammo reloads and 22 cal case lots (in target shooting using ammo from single cases of 22 is needed for accuracy).

  10. DGL

    Chain restaurants – 50% of physical space; 100% of the population.
    Chain restaurants displace individual restaurants with bland nowheresville entities.
    The dissolution of self creates a population of afflicted and alienated individuals. The authoritarian voice rings loud and true to the disenfranchised, surrounded by corporate franchises, with no hope.
    To me this appears to be a global phenomena.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Yes, this kind of ennui — atomised and despairing — that I think is expressed in a landscape of chains is a real problem for a reasonable, decent, and humane civilization on a finite and fragile planet.

  11. marym

    Not that it matters now but the original name in the original bill HR 676 was the “United States National Health Insurance Act (or the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act)” from the (2003-2010).

    Changed to “Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act” (2011-2019)

    In 2019 the bill number HR 676 was assigned to another bill, and a revised bill HR 1384 was introduced as “Medicare For All.”

    HR 1384 also dropped the HR 676 requirement for provider entities be public or non-profit, and a compensation plan to support the transition

    1. Fred

      A better name would be
      “Guaranteed Healthcare for Americans.”

      It should act as a floor of basic coverage, with the ability of anyone to buy all the insurance beyond that they want.

      Maybe it could be administered through the Pentagon, which already receives more than 55% of discretionary spending. Healthcare delivered the way weapons and money is delivered to the military.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the original name in the original bill HR 676

      My perspective was from the activist world, from PNHP. When posting, what to write? “Single payer” or “Medicare for All”? For a long time, “single payer” was the default. A consensus emerged that “Medicare for All would be more persuasive. Apparently, it wasn’t.

      1. Pat

        When you get a large portion of your campaign funding and maybe even post government employment sinecures from industries that would get hit by enacting single payer, a mere name change is not ever going to be persuasive.

        It was never about the public. They, for the most part, didn’t need to be persuaded. Not that it matters, their wishes hold no power.

  12. Judith

    Interesting question-and-answer style conversation between Pepe Escobar and Michael Hudson.


    Here is the last bit:


    The Cradle: What is your analysis on Gazprom confirming Line B of the Nord Stream 2 was not touched by Pipeline Terror? This means Nord Stream 2 is practically ready to go – with a capacity to pump 27.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year, which happens to be half of the total capacity of – damaged – Nord Stream. So Germany is not doomed. This opens a whole new chapter; a solution will depend on a serious political decision by the German government.

    Hudson: “Here’s the kicker: Russia certainly won’t bear the cost again, only to have the pipeline blown up. It will be up to Germany. I bet the current regime says “No.” That should make for an interesting rise of the alternative parties.

    The ultimate problem is that the only way Germany can restore trade with Russia is to withdraw from NATO, realizing that it is the major victim of NATO’s war. This could only succeed by spreading to Italy, and also to Greece (for not protecting it against Turkey, ever since Cyprus). That looks like a long fight.

    Maybe it’s easier just for German industry to pack up and move to Russia to help modernize its industrial production, especially BASF for chemistry, Siemens for engineering, etc.. If German companies relocate to the US to get gas, this will be perceived as a US raid on German industry, capturing its lead for the US. Even so, this won’t succeed, given America’s post-industrialized economy.

    So German industry can only move eastward if it creates its own political party as a nationalistic anti-NATO party. The EU constitution would require Germany to withdraw from the EU, which puts NATO interests first at the federal level. The next scenario is to discuss Germany’s entry into the SCO. Let’s take bets as to how long that will take.”

    1. foghorn longhorn

      Has there even been a peep from Germany about ‘the sabotage’?
      They are a docile little poodle, it would appear.

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      The United States would never allow Germany to withdraw from NATO. That is absolutely a non-starter.

      1. Mikel

        And that’s what the world needs to see. The US telling another developed nation that they have zero sovereignty. So in the face that it would cause a worldwide reaction.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Besides Biden, I believe Susan Rice has been one of the teetotalers in the White House. She must be beside herself. I imagine her kid is going to start denouncing reefer madness.

    2. Wukchumni

      Could it be on account of that WNBA player looking at 9 years in a labor camp in Russia for possession?

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > Could it be on account of that WNBA player looking at 9 years in a labor camp in Russia for possession?

        Don’t think so …

        The moves fulfill a Biden campaign pledge, which may attract more young people and voters of color Democrats need to show up at the polls. The pardons could affect more than 6,500 people charged with simple marijuana possession under federal laws. (via Twitter)

        And also:

        If the review results in marijuana’s removal from the list of the most dangerous drugs, it would also impact cannabis businesses, which then would be allowed to bank, list on US stock exchanges, borrow money and do away with onerous tax burdens. (via Twitter)

        I think our captains of industry are ready to fire up the ganga engines … and yes, it’s an election year.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Wasn’t one of Biden’s first acts was to boot out of the White House anybody who admitted to smoking dope on their government forms? His motto was ‘Never forgive, never forget.’

    4. lb

      Biden did a good thing here, but these numbers (only thousands helped?) warrant some contextualization.

      Federal charges for marijuana possession are far fewer in number (thousands of people helped by Biden’s pardons) than state arrests (according to the FBI’s 2018 crime stats there were 600,000+ arrests overall, in the states + DC).

      To stop this injustice of the umpteenth year of the war on drugs will require federal decriminalization and action in the states still dragging their feet with regard to marijuana.

  13. ambrit

    On that “lineage” chart, do notice that the swiftly ascending line of dots (just under the ‘lineage diversity” dashed line,) is labeled “Other Unassigned.” Now, what exactly does that mean? Mutant recombinations of the ‘best and brightest’ virii? The significant number of variant lines all competing for soon to be cold bodies would support such a supposition.
    Stay safe! Find your own festung, or make one at home.

  14. Tvc15

    Health Care – And then the liberal Democrats got Joe Biden in, and he anesthetized everything. So it goes.

    Obama in a paid corporate speech recently, “A non-employer based, single-payer health-care system offers a “smarter” approach than the sprawling US system, he said.”


    Too bad he wasn’t in a position to do something about this before…vote harder!

    1. Pat

      Gee I guess the “tributes” from Pharma, Insurance and Private Equity owned medical must have dried up.

  15. NorD94


    The CA covid19 case chart 91-divoc.com weirdness is tied to how CA releases data and the 7-day average numbers.

    CA now seems to batch up the numbers and release a big bump on Thursdays and small values for other weekdays. You can see this on the 91-divoc.com charts if you change the data from “News Cases, 1 Wk Avg” to “New Cases /Day”. So far CA has not released the updates for Oct-6 (Thur).

    The same thing shows up in the google/NYT chart, So far no update for Oct-6. Looking at the following google/NYT png from yesterday Oct 5.


    Last Sept 29 (Thurs) Google/NYT shows NewCases = 25582, 7-DayAve = 4723. The 7-day Sum = 7*4723 = 33061. The CA numbers are always 0 for Sat and Sun. The sum for Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri = 33061 – 25582 = 7479. The average for those 4 days is 1870/day.

    So late today or tomorrow when CA releases Oct 6 numbers, expect to see something around 25k to 26k for Oct 6 Thurs and the 91-divoc.com 7-day average will move up to the trend.

    “Feature Not a Bug” if you look at the daily data details.

  16. Lex

    I’ll point out that the number of federal prisoners in for simple possession must be a tiny number. In the old days, we had the rule of thumb that if you were growing <100 plants the feds generally wouldn’t touch you. Same goes for possession. Those charges usually include “intent to distribute” and any thing else the prosecutor can tack on. Asking governors to do the same is pointless. If they haven’t done it in the already legal states, they won’t now and the still illegal states are more unlikely to issue pardons.

    Midterm feint to make it look like he intends to do what he promised, not because he wanted to but because he felt pressured.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      A feint may be the intent, but when the President (any US President) is clear on an issue, it becomes a major event.

      Third: We classify marijuana at the same level as heroin – and more serious than fentanyl. It makes no sense. I’m asking @SecBecerra and the Attorney General to initiate the process of reviewing how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.

      Merrick goes unnamed. I guess Garland is out, but more importantly, this is stark. Remember when we have to pretend to have a discussion about the height of a wall because the President says so. This is clear.

      That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction. Today, we begin to right these wrongs.

      Clear. He’s lied before, but if he’s lying, he lying directly. He will have a hard time walking this back. Obama would have said, “let me be clear, arble garble, soaring rhetoric of meaningless nonsense.”

      I’m reminded of how Obama wanted to hold LGBT types hostage with gay marriage and dadt. After Prop 1 in NC, Biden strolled out and said, “hey, you don’t think Obama really hates the gays,” or something to that effect. The White House tried to gripe about Biden, but they were forced to switch 853rd dimensional chess plan that Biden screwed up. As Vice President, he basically ended DADT and paved the way for gay marriage. When the President speaks, it matters when he is pushing a popular or near popular issue.

    2. Amateur Socialist

      I’m the least likely to undermine cynicism regarding JR Biden, but I’d suggest that the impact of this policy reversal (for JR it is one) is greater than the prison population for simple possession.

      For millions of people simple possession is their only felony. So once the policy includes expungement of criminal records this could potentially make a lot of their lives easier. They will no longer have to check that “felony conviction” box on job/loan/rental applications and even on some voter registration forms. It’s something.

      And fwiw because it’s JR I fully expect it to be on brand – delivering less than promised, claiming greater than actual success etc. Like the student loan gotchas.

  17. Jason Boxman

    Ha. That Google thread reminds me of the lack of most recently used tab (MRU) switching in Chrome, based on Chromium, which is Google’s Open Source version of Chrome. There’s a bug open for that feature for like 20 years now. The developer finally closed it as WONTFIX. People still were commenting on it when I unsubscribed from notifications, begging for this feature.

    Basically, it’s the same as you have in your OS, where ALT TAB takes you to the last app before the current one. All major browsers and Chrome skins support this, _except_ Chrome. In Chrome it always goes through your tabs left to right, start to finish. Because Google. Because of this one developer. Fun times.

  18. Wukchumni

    WASHINGTON—Explaining why he and nearly every Republican in the House of Representatives had voted against a bill that would increase student access to counseling services, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated Wednesday that a lack of mental healthcare in schools was precisely what got him where he is today. “My political career is a great example of what a completely broken mental healthcare system can create, and every kid deserves that same opportunity,” said the eight-term representative, telling reporters his rise to the top GOP position in the House could be credited to a complete absence of any self-reflection, therapy, or personal growth during his adolescence. “When I was in school, there weren’t any supportive adults I could speak to about my problems, let alone anyone trained as a therapist, and that’s what allowed me to skate by without raising any red flags, eventually reaching the point at which I may very well become the next speaker of the House. Where would I be today if I had received the years of intensive psychiatric care I almost certainly needed? You can hardly expect to make it in Washington if you receive adequate treatment for your narcissistic or antisocial personality disorder.” At press time, McCarthy had introduced a bill to equip public schools with bigger cracks in the system for aspiring young sociopaths to slip through.


  19. Carla

    “Humanity, the Berkeley economist argues, spent nearly the entirety of its history condemned to poverty by an insufficient supply of calories and a chronically excessive birth rate. But in the “long twentieth century”—the period between 1870 and 2010—an almost miraculous transformation took place:”

    YEAH. Effective birth control and legal abortion. Which have benefited everyone, everywhere they have been available.

    1. Synoia

      Not in poverty, that implies there were “riches” to be had, which for hunter gatherers means “food” there were no riches, except food. Humanity lived at a level of of subsistence living, for a long time.

      The transition from hunter gatherer to farming appears to me as the most a significant process.
      and, I believe,the impetus was female driven.

  20. Michael Ismoe

    AZ: “Rep. Liz Cheney Says Arizona GOP Candidates Threaten Democracy”

    I intended to skip right over the governor’s race (the Republican is certifiable and the Dem shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the Governor’s Mansion without a visitor’s pass) but if there’s any chance we can tone down the Ukraine war just by voting GOP, then I’ll give it a try.

    Thanks for the insights, Liz.

  21. Swamp Yankee

    First of all, great shout-out to Worcester in the 2pm cooler today. Second, as someone who is basically also a weird nerd in terms of obsessive interest in MA political and policy issues relating to, inter alia, questions of zoning, the environment, affordable housing, not illegally dumping radioactive wastewater into Cape Cod Bay, I used almost the exact same language as the author above: it is a different language, one that is purposefully used to obfuscate these issues and obscure them from common people.

    The other issue which the author, Bill Shaner, points to, is that Worcester City Government, like many local governments here in MA and beyond, view themselves as subservient to developer interests. They quite literally don’t seem to realize they in fact make the laws. They are more powerful than businessmen under the law.

    They just don’t want to exercise that power.

    A final factor is that of political machines, esp. in MA. Both parties have Machines, even Republicans here, and the Machine is ultimately mercenary, amoral, and unideological. It’s a pretty open grift among a lot of local politicos, and this is part and parcel of that.

  22. Milton

    Fun article about a small tablecloth which contained doodles (and stains) from the Beatles before their final appearance at Candlestick Park in ’66. The caterer saw fit to retrieve the item and hung it as a display from behind his storefront where it was promptly stolen. 55 years later, the tablecloth was returned to the caterer’s grandson. This bit of memorabilia goes to auction starting tomorrow.

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