Links 12/19/2022

Inside the Brain of an Octopus Discover

Nouriel Roubini: ‘I hope I didn’t depress you too much’ FT. The winter solstice is only three days away. Soon there will be more light.

The 2020s Are the World’s Most Depressed, Stressed Decade…Ever Umar Haique, Eudaimonia

You’re Not There Now (That’s A Good Thing) Daily Stoic


Extractivism in the Anthropocene Monthly Review

To Activate Hope, Activate Capital Project Syndicate

Biggest US shale operator says more drilling would harm industry FT


Billion-dollar NASA satellite launches to track Earth’s water Nature


COVID-19 vaccine boosters for young adults: a risk benefit assessment and ethical analysis of mandate policies at universities BMJ. From the Abstract:

University booster mandates are unethical because they: (1) are not based on an updated (Omicron era) stratified risk-benefit assessment for this age group; (2) may result in a net harm to healthy young adults; (3) are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; (4) violate the reciprocity principle because serious vaccine-related harms are not reliably compensated due to gaps in vaccine injury schemes; and (5) may result in wider social harms.” “Competing interests: None declared.”

I’ve been saying for awhile we mandated what we shouldn’t have (vaccines) and didn’t mandate what we should have (non-pharmaceutical interventions).

I’ve been saying for awhile that in our Covid strategy, we mandated what we shouldn’t have (vaccines) and didn’t mandate what we should have (non-pharmaceutical interventions). So, very big if true. (I wonder if the new Twitter will censor the BMJ link? The old Twitter might well have.)

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: December 2022 KFF. Only Democrats could have done it:

The latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey finds that about seven in ten adults (71%) say healthy children should be required to get vaccinated for MMR in order to attend public schools, down from 82% who said the same in an October 2019 Pew Research Center poll. Almost three in ten (28%) now say that parents should be able to decide not to vaccinate their school-age children, even if this creates health risks for others, up from 16% in 2019. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, there has been a 24 percentage-point increase in the share who hold this view (from 20% to 44%).

The Case for Mask Mandates Chasing Normal. Re-upping from last week.

* * *

Long-COVID Sufferers Are Flocking to a Texas Clinic to Treat Smell Disorders. But Does the Remedy Work? Texas Monthly

COVID boosts life insurance demand The Week

Why one expert says the so-called ‘tri-demic’ might actually be a ‘septa-demic’ Texas Public Radio


Covid outbreak throws Chinese factories and supply chains into chaos FT. It’s like a PMC arms race:

Then again, they all went to the same Ivy League schools…

The U.S. Needs to Change the Way It Does Business With China Robert Lighthizer, NYT. Commentary:

Is China Planning to Attack Taiwan? A Careful Consideration of Available Evidence Says No War on the Rocks

European Disunion

Corruption scandal risks fracturing pro-EU majority in parliament FT

Deal reached for new non-Russian power source for Europe AP. Azerbaijan.

Analysis: Dismal election turnout puts Tunisia president’s legitimacy under spotlight Reuters

Dear Old Blighty

New New Labour:

Primer on the New Russian Law Against Public Promotion of Sex Change, Sex Preference Propaganda John Helmer, Dances with Bears

New Not-So-Cold War

Avoiding a Long War in Ukraine The Liberal Patriot

Is This Winning? The American Conservative

Kyiv warns of long blackouts after Russia strikes Deutsche Welle

What’s behind Peru’s political crisis? Who are the players? And what might happen next? CBC

Peru coup: CIA agent turned US ambassador met with defense minister day before president overthrown Multipolarista

Biden Administration

Military Spending Surges, Creating New Boom for Arms Makers NYT. The industrial part of the Military-Industrial Complex, simplified:

‘Constant Turmoil’ at FDA Makes Our Food Less Safe MedPage Today

Policymaking in a Pan(dem)ic Stephanie Kelton, The Lens. “One way to make our system more robust is to strengthen the automatic stabilizers so that fiscal deficits swing into motion with an even stronger countercyclical response to changing macroeconomic conditions.”

Supply Chain

U.S. Signs MoU with DRC, Zambia for e-Vehicle Supply Chains China Global South Project and US steps into ‘Middle East of renewables era’ – and direct competition with China South China Morning Post

The Bezzle

Is Binance.US a Fake Exchange? Dirty Bubble Media

A debate: Should crypto be regulated by the federal government? (upcoming event) Brookings Institution. No. It shouldn’t exist. Equivalent question: “Should accounting control fraud be regulated by the Federal Government?”

Governors and Heads of Supervision endorse global bank prudential standard for cryptoassets and work programme of Basel Committee Bank of International Settlements

* * *

Meet the man trying to stop Elon Musk from putting Tesla full self-driving software on the road EuroNews

Our Famously Free Press

Notes from the Twitter Files: Twitter and the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) Matt Taibbi, TK News. The deck: “In a curious exchange, the government expresses annoyance with Twitter for reporting little ‘recent’ foreign activity.” What’s “curious” about it? Institutionally, it’s exactly like cops with an arrest quota. “Agent 86, I’ve got a budget to secure. Now get out there and find me some foreign influencers!”

Sam Bankman-Fried Is Where Media Patronage Was Always Headed Defector


New Compound Reverses Gut Inflammation – Acts Like a Master Reset Switch in the Intestines SciTech Daily (Furzy Mouse). Not sure I want “Have You Tried Rebooting?” applied to my digestive tract, but you do you….

The World Cup

Argentina Went To Hell And Back To Win The World Cup Defector

France coach Deschamps rues ‘cruel’ World Cup final defeat Channel News Asia

What Lionel Messi Reveals About Geopolitics Foreign Policy

History, World Cups And Economics Investor Amnesia

Guillotine Watch

The party animal and the island-hopping hermit Business Insider. Founders showing what they’re made of.

Class Warfare

German union warns Amazon of rolling pre-Christmas strikes Reuters

Apple ‘created decoy labor group’ to derail unionization The Register

How a Sprawling Hospital Chain Ignited Its Own Staffing Crisis NYT

Beware the Do-Gooders The Tablet. Effective Altruism.

The World and the Left New Left Review

P-22, Hollywood’s celebrity mountain lion, ends his reign BBC

Physicists Rewrite a Quantum Rule That Clashes With Our Universe Wired

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. Antifa

    (melody borrowed from California Dreamin’ by The Mamas and Papas)

    We’re running out of rounds (running out of rounds)
    With no more on the way (no more on the way)
    We can’t retrieve our dead (can’t retrieve our dead)
    They freeze where they lay (freeze right where they lay)
    The Russians send up drones (Russians send up drones)
    And we all hide away (we all hide away)
    More Crimea Dreamin’ (More Crimea Dreamin’)
    On such a winter’s day

    Black water in our trench
    That never goes away
    The puddles serve as our latrine (serve as our latrine)
    They have a strong bouquet (such a strong bouquet)
    You know the frostbite took my toes (frostbite took my toes)
    I won’t be walking away (I can’t walk away)
    More Crimea Dreamin’ (More Crimea Dreamin’)
    On such a winter’s day

    (musical interlude)

    We dig in this black dirt (dig in this black dirt)
    This dirt is where we’ll stay (this is where we’ll stay)
    The ground’s getting hard (ground is getting hard)
    My courage slips away (courage slips away)
    If there were no blockers (if there were no blockers)
    I could leave today (I could leave today)
    More Crimea Dreamin’ (More Crimea Dreamin’)
    On such a winter’s day

    (More Crimea Dreamin’) on such a winter’s day

    (More Crimea Dreamin’) on such a winter’s day

    (More Crimea Dreamin’) on such a winter’s d a y y y y y

  2. The Rev Kev

    “P-22, Hollywood’s celebrity mountain lion, ends his reign”

    It was a magnificent animal and was beautiful as well. I think the trouble was that LA had “adopted” it but it might have been better to have drugged it and re-located it to a nature preserve somewhere to live out its life among other mountain lions.

    1. semper loquitur

      I watched a video about it and the official, tearing up, stated that it appeared to have been struck by a car. In any case, it was hurting. Perhaps this was the most merciful route.

    2. JP

      We had an older female roaming up and down the creek by our house. We think she was running out of steam and having a hard time chasing down prey. Cougars usually avoid proximity to humans and residences but one night (out of desperation?) she ate out cat. Never saw her again.

  3. Wukchumni

    Nouriel Roubini: ‘I hope I didn’t depress you too much’ FT. The winter solstice is only three days away. Soon there will be more light.

    The 2020s Are the World’s Most Depressed, Stressed Decade…Ever Umar Haique, Eudaimonia
    I propose a doom-off between Nouriel & Umar, both are left to their own devices inside a furnished locked room for a fortnight where they attempt to scare the bejesus out of one another, eventually causing one of them to go over to the dark side-happiness.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe just fly them down to Rio where it is the summer solstice instead. There would be plenty of nightlife there and for all we know, Roubini could be a party animal when not on duty.

      1. Wukchumni

        No, lets get in Guy McPherson and make it a doom-off troika-a lexicon standoff if you will. He makes the other guys look like girly men though, in terms of overall over all.

          1. Wukchumni

            Doom-me-quorums can be raucous with the crescendo crash end oh, but Hedges is a well rounded doomeratti-as downcast as they come, I say we send out RSVP’s-whats the worst that could happen if they don’t respond?

    2. mrsyk

      Not everyone is allowed as much outdoor time as you and I get. Perhaps you could loan Mr. Roubini a sleeping bag and a map.

      1. Wukchumni

        Count Formaldehyde would obsess on a topo map about all the cliffy areas which could be prone to collapsing, but then you hit him with stem & cap trade details to mellow his harsh.

        1. Wukchumni

          That’s nothing, the claim is that a few dinosaurs conspired to have an asteroid hit the Earth, so they could make bank on skeletons fetching $6 million 66 million years later.

          Greed, what is it good for, absolutely nothing.

        2. Polar Socialist

          That human genetic bottleneck has been now moved to 50-60,000 years ago, so it doesn’t match the Toba event anymore.

          And since it concerns only us who left Africa back then, not those who stayed, it’s not about the habitat changing dramatically but tribes moving to a new habitat and adapting the hard way.

  4. zagonostra

    American Triumphalism’s terminus

    I was reading reading Theodore Roszak’s World Beware! American Triumphalism in an Age of Terror. this weekend, with a copyright date of 2006 and the following paragraph seems prophetic viewed from today’s Ukraine proxy war.

    The triumphalist now stand ready to enlist brute military power to the service of their expansionst objectives. Their open contempt for the country’s former allies should serve as a warning about how far they are willing to go to press their advantage. Those who believe that America’s military power will be reserved for minor Third World nations such as as Iraq or North Korea, that it will never be used to intimidate Europeans the Japanese, the Chinses are granting the triumphalist far too much diplomatic restraint. These are impetuous men driven by an ideological fury, determined to seize the moment that history has given them.

    In the absense of intelligent restraint by other countries, the United States threatens to become a rougue nation. Some would say it already has. That tendency may remain in force even though administrations in Washington change. Page 27

    1. Stephen V

      Thanks for this. I read Roszak in the long ago.
      In perhaps a similar vein, Col. MacGregor said recently that Russia will save us from ourselves, that is, our mission of one (U.S.) world government.

      1. johnherbiehancock

        I still think there’s no “mission;” the profit motive is what drives all this… that’s the only consistent thing. Like 20 years in Afghanistan, and they consistently chose the tactics that didn’t work, and only served to antagonize the locals, and create more “terrorists” that wanted to attack us? If the goal was really to maintain a friendly satellite government, then certainly they would’ve stumbled upon SOME way to keep it stable in that time. Blind squirrel. That’s just one example…

        1. The View From Howe Street.

          There’s a mission. No one’s suggesting the missionaries are competent however. Marry that to a powerful outside profit motive and the pattern of catastrophes makes more sense.

  5. griffen

    Constant turmoil and the FDA making Americans feel “safe” about our food supplies. Maybe the agency could merge into the MIC and secure more stable and ever growing revenue? \sarc

    I don’t imagine dedicating more revenue is a hill to die on, for the average Jane or average Joe in Congress these days. We’re not a serious country, is we.

  6. KD

    Avoiding a Long War in Ukraine

    Wunderwaffe to save the day! Interesting article, proposes sending Leopards, F-16s, and using long-range artillery to strike deep into Russian territory with HIMARS. With regards to jets and tanks, didn’t Ukraine start the war with a bunch of tanks and jets? If the Ukrainians were provided with Leopards and F-16’s, wouldn’t they still be behind where they stood at the beginning of the war, and it would just provide more targets from the Russians as they again run out of missiles? As far as long-range strikes on Russia, what would that possibly do to change the war? I guess people in Moscow and St. Peterburg would be scared, and you would destroy some beautiful buildings, and the idea is that people would just give up, but isn’t it more likely that it would just piss the Russians off and create more support for nuking Ukraine off the map? [The German bombings of UK in both wars only increased anti-German sentiment.]

    1 + 1 = 2. If Ukraine begins the war with 1500 tanks, and 1350 are blown away, and you give them 100 tanks, so they have 250 tanks, then Ukraine is better off than they are now, but still far worse off then at the beginning. Further, Leopards and F-16’s take extensive training, so they would take six months to get on line like the Patriot systems. It is amazing people say this crap and other people repeat it. Patriotism is the last refuge apparently not of scoundrels, but the mathematically illiterate.

    1. digi_owl

      Another complication is that any pilots or tank crews will have to start from pretty much scratch. That is why USA tried to get a deal with Poland about handing over old cold war MiGs to Ukraine, as that was what the Ukrainian pilots were already trained to fly. Deal fell on its face when Poland didn’t want to be the one delivering the jets to Ukraine…

    2. timbers

      If Ukraine is ever given truly effective long range missiles that strike deep into Russia (not a military expert so don’t know what those missiles would be), it would be a horrific tragedy for Ukraine itself.

      Yes Ukraine. Russia not so much.

      Because Russia would probably have no choice but to counter missile Ukraine so intensely, there likely would huge civilian casualties. One because Russian public would demand it, and two if each side has such destructive power, the one who delivers the most powerful knock out strike first is the likely winner.

      Yet no one in the West including Zelensky mentions this. All they say is more more more. Some non-neocons like for example the alleged resistance from the US military I would guess realize this. But the neocons couldn’t care less even if it results in the sacrifice 30 million or so Ukrainians. The neocons will say “it was worth it” if it helps to hurt Russia even just a tiny little bit.

      And that is the tragedy of following US and UK and the West’s egging Ukraine to keep fighting, because it just means more and more Ukrainians will die.

      1. digi_owl

        Because western spindoctors have already planned for the outcome and will claim any such “response” from Russia will be Putin going full on an “unprovoked” terror campaign. Maybe even push for a full scale NATO invasion of Russia in order to kill, forget capture, this madman.

      2. Andrey Subbotin

        We do not have some secret missile stash we are not using. The current level of missile strikes is about what we can maintain from current production, short of nukes. And we cannot send aircraft deep behind front line until we suppress AA defenses, which we could not do so far.
        There is in fact very little we can do if we wanted to escalate. What we could, we are already doing. About the only possible step is calling up more infantry, but this would only be good for manning fixed defense, and politically damaging.

        1. Maxwell Johnston

          Agree with you on most points (especially on the political damage that would be caused by more mobilizations), though I suspect RU is holding back quite a lot of its capability just in case NATO (or more likely a non-de-jure-NATO consisting mainly of Poland and the Baltics) decides to intervene. In any case the economic war now trumps the military war, with the latter a foregone conclusion although it might take awhile.

          I find it amusing that the author calls himself a liberal patriot (whilst his CV is solidly PMC neocon). Since when did USA liberals become so warlike? Is there something in the water in DC/NYC/BOS/SFO? And his statement that “…the US goal remains to end the war as quickly as possible….” is patently false. Uncle Joe’s administration seems quite keen on drawing this one out as long as possible.

          1. Adam

            When you hire the entire John Bolton and PNAC teams to run your foreign policy, as Biden has done, then yes, this is what passes now as ‘liberal’ ideology. Of course, any right winger who declares themselves anti-trump is immediately accepted into the Democratic ranks now.

    3. vao

      With regards to jets and tanks, didn’t Ukraine start the war with a bunch of tanks and jets?

      There is a Wikipedia page listing the equipment of the armed forces of Ukraine. It seems that what has been supplied by the West since the war started is about an order of magnitude less than what Ukraine had in its arsenals initially. Your hypothetical numerical example is not far off the mark.

      1. KD

        At the end of the day, these conflicts are resolved by hard power, which is the combat power of weapons platforms and troops times the number of troops, with the potential limited by population size and manufacturing capacity. Granted, NATO could stomp Russia conventionally–in the long-term–if they shifted to a total war economy like WWI and conscripted everyone–if they could muster political support for such a transformation. But in the real world, there is no political will for this type of operation, and it is more likely than not to end in thermonuclear war. In the real world, the country with more combat power and population and manufacturing capabilities will beat the weaker country, even if equipped with hi-tech Western wunderwaffe. [Taiwan should think about this.]

        It has more to do with differential equations, logistics, and inputs than anything else. [Yes, Vietnam was a US loss because public opinion turned against the war–if the US had stayed in, the Vietcong would have been attritioned-away–but if the Vietcong had invaded Canada, it would have had a different outcome because the US would have had a real stake in the conflict, rather than ideologically grand-standing as world policeman.]

        1. foghorn longhorn

          If NATO could ‘stomp’ Russia, the stomping would have already commenced.
          Russia has openly said, “let’s get it on” and NATO has demurred, wisely I think.
          NATO should just declare victory and walk away, before they have to run.

      2. David

        I usually refer people to the Global Firepower site, which shows Ukraine in early 2022 as the most heavily-armed state in Europe. If you search for the main NATO countries as well, (at their strengths before they started to give stuff away) this will enable you to answer queries along the lines of “should NATO get involved” by asking: “what with”?

        1. Polar Socialist

          And here I was thinking that Russia had strongest army in Europe, with Turkey the distant second. But come to think of it, both do have a lot of troops in Asia, too.

          1. David

            And thereby, of course, hangs a great deal, including how much, if any, of Russia is in Europe for this purpose.

        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          David, thanks for that link. That site was new to me and, well, eye opening in many metrics.

    4. tet vet

      Re Avoiding a Long War in Ukraine: I read this and then the next link and was astounded that it is possible for two writers to differ so much in their evaluation of the situation in Ukraine. Seriously, I guess it is true that “Where you stand depends on where you sit”?

  7. VT Digger

    “The 2020s Are the World’s Most Depressed, Stressed Decade…Ever”

    en serio?

    540, 1340, 1520, 1910, 1930 just of the top of my head.

    1. Wukchumni

      “The 2020s Are the World’s Most Depressed, Stressed Decade…Ever”

      Sadly it has been the worst decade ever for the one constant in my life, in that 1 out of 5 Monarch Sequoias (trees 4 feet wide or larger) died in 2020 & 2021.

      These were saplings in 540 BC, 1 AD, 327, 540, 762 to name a few.

      Lightning strike fires always happen in the Sierra Nevada in the summer, and historically, wildfires would come through groves every 17 years on average, so there were around 100 wildfires that never did them in during their long lived lives, until climate change combined with us altering their natural method of coexisting with fire-in fact needing it to reproduce.

      The Castle & KNP Fires shocked the local tree experts @ NPS & USGS, Giant Sequoias were the Superman of the upright species with no known kryptonite sources in the region, but still the crypt ignited.

      1. Carolinian

        Well perhaps the main thing is not how many but that we save the rest. After all the true man made disaster happened in the 19th century when so many were cut down for their not very useful wood. When I visited your park I saw a valley of cut down trees that were just left there on the ground to not rot (because they are Sequoia).

        1. Wukchumni

          Less than 5% of Giant Sequoias were cut down in the late 19th-early 20th century, versus 95% of Coastal Redwoods being cut down, quite the difference~

          One was close to the coast for easy shipping and the wood was of high quality for construction, decks & more, while the other was over a mile high and the wood almost worthless-as it shattered internally when the tree came down, and there being no automobiles yet, how do you get it out of the mountains?

          1. JP

            In Dillonwood the saw mill was on site and the sawed lumber was sent down a flume. The slow part was the various horse, mule and bull teams that hauled it to the rail head in Porterville. Not a very strong wood so a lot was split for fence posts, grape stakes and shingles.

            1. Wukchumni

              About 200 Giant Sequoias out of say 3,000 specimens in the Atwell Grove of Mineral King were felled, all of a certain size for the most part-they were after 10-12 foot wide trees.

              You see a few dozen stumps here and there, mostly in the Atwell Mill car campground, where a good many of the stumps have small rectangular holes below the cut line where the 2 fellers on either side of the ‘misery whip’ saw did their work standing on inserted planks which jutted out from the trunk.

              I read that it took 5-6 days to fall a Sequoia of size.

              Hidden away off-trail a good 1/2 to 3/4’s of a mile from the road on steep hillsides are the other stumps, along with the remains of a ‘steam donkey’ which would have winched the booty down to a steam driven sawmill.

              The Sequoia wood from these trees might have been used for its highest purpose, in that it was the planking for the original hydroelectric flume that used water from the east fork of the Kaweah River to create power circa 1900.

              Sequoia wood doesn’t rot, so it was the perfect thing to use for that time~

              A few years ago my septic tank was on tilt and had a honey dipper come to vacuum it all out into his large tanker truck and we got to talking and he told me there’s a couple of septic tanks in Visalia in circa 1900 homes made from Sequoia wood, that he was aware of.

              1. Carolinian

                In our Eastern mountains including the Smokies most of the old growth was logged off the hillsides by similar means. There’s even a not very good movie about it called Serena and starring hottie Jennifer Lawrence.

                Eventually the lumber company action moved out West and particularly the Northwest. The horde of locusts moved on. We need the wood but what they did to the Sequoia sounds more like vandalism.

              2. JP

                Back in the day the lumber jacks wanted to be the one to fell the biggest tree. I’m surprised the General Sherman survived.

                There is an excellent redwood pipe about six feet in diameter still in use that brings water from the Wishon fork to the Edison generator on the middle fork of the Tule. There is also a large sliver of redwood (may be sempervirens) framed in the office of the Pleasanton CA sewage treatment plant that was hurriedly fashioned and used to stop a major leak. It had remained in place for decades until a new pipe was laid.

                1. airgap

                  Your mention of Porterville and Wishon hits home for me in that our family, until the recent fires, had a cabin at Doyle Springs just up the road from Wishon, beyond the private gate. My grandfather, Charles Holston, was one the founding members of Doyle Springs Assoc back in 1923 – or thereabouts.

                  I have many fond memories as a kid and as an adolescent of summers at Doyles, swimming in the ice cold stream and hiking the Mt. Whitney Trail that ran right behind our cabin up to Balch Park and many places in between.

                  1. JP

                    We know the Grant family that have a place there. I have hiked the rim trail to Maggie lakes and looked down at that Whitney trail. It didn’t look like it would be fun in the heat of summer. I thought all the cabins at Doyle had survived. I watched them drop water on it for hours.

                    Thanks, always like to add to my knowledge of local history

    2. Kouros

      So Eurocentrist.

      The period of Warring States in China. Mongol conquest of China. the 100 years of humiliation of China.
      The colonization in Americas
      The slave trade from Africa.

      Even Europe, with the 30 years war in the German states wasn’t a walk in the park.

  8. GramSci

    Re Umair’s distress:

    Somebody needs to tell Umair Haque that it’s all Putin’s [fault]. <– last word supplied by Apple keyboard without my typing a letter. (I try to disable that keyboard, but it keeps coming back. :-( .

  9. diptherio

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Helmer is dancing with bears, not wolves. You’re thinking of Kevin Costner.

    1. Bugs

      He’s also dancing with the unreadable. I find it a real slog getting through his diatribes. There’s something to be said for editing.

      1. Carolinian

        Maybe. Still, a lot smarter than Costner? Pauline Kael’s review of Dances With Wolves was titled “Feathers in his Head.”

        From the Helmer

        Had LGBTQ+ voters stayed home, it is likely Donald Trump would have won re-election.

        While Putin seems to be not very friendly to gay people–and therefore a source of Putin phobia–I’ve never quite understood the Trump hate among the same. After all the libertine Trump is hardly a symbol of sexual repression. A friend of mine who is gay says it’s all about the Supreme Court and therefore they have a lot at stake. But is there evidence that even our more conservative contemporary Court has been making Dred Scott type pronouncements against gays? Perhaps it’s simply that Trump in his current version has chosen to align with the Republicans who are seen as a vast horde evangelicals just waiting for their chance to turn the country into Handmaid’s Tail. Tell that to all my SC neighbors with the rainbow flags.

        Perhaps it’s all some kind of proxy. Helmer:

        Russian pollsters add that the sharper the protests grow against the new law, especially in the West, the stronger the majority view will become and the heavier the crackdown to follow.

        It could be the same here at home–a power struggle translated into something else.

        1. jsn

          Charles Renfro, a flamboyantly gay New York architect, built the Zaryadye Park next to The Kremlin about 5 years ago.

          He was well treated by the Russians and, IIRC, Putin personally attended the opening.

          Eastern Christianity still has a hold on it’s population in a way the Church of Rome lost, to my mind from a triple combo of buying into NeoLiberalism, pederasty and Operation Gladio ties to the “anti-communist (Eastern Orthodox)” sub-rosa executive of the Neoliberal West, The Blob.

          1. Carolinian

            With regard to LBGTQ my comment is just asking the question. Of course a lot of the information people here get about Russia is propaganda meant to manipulate via whatever convenient means. In a similar way women’s rights have been used to excuse the invasion of Afghanistan. Perhaps it is all a Blob plot but given the results a somewhat incoherent one.

            1. fresno dan

              Carolinian excuse me if you already saw this
              fresno dan
              December 17, 2022 at 4:25 pm
              PALM BEACH, Fla. — Hundreds of guests in tuxedos of all styles — sequined, quilted, velvet — and colorful gowns sipped on Trump-branded champagne and martinis. Between courses of steak and bite-sized Key lime pie, they danced to “YMCA” and “Macho Man,” the disco anthems at Trump rallies.

              But the main attraction, obviously, was Trump. He received a standing ovation after delivering an enthusiastic affirmation of gay rights not often heard in the GOP.

              “We are fighting for the gay community, and we are fighting and fighting hard,” the former president and 2024 candidate said. “With the help of many of the people here tonight in recent years, our movement has taken incredible strides, the strides you’ve made here is incredible.”

              Throughout the evening, speakers praised Trump for his embrace of the gay community. They credited him for his initiatives to combat the criminalization of homosexuality, his work pushing for public heath initiatives to combat the HIV epidemic, and for appointing the first openly gay Cabinet member, Grenell, as director of national intelligence.
              Good for Trump. But despite an impenetrable narrative that says dems get the gays, latins, and blacks, the truth is those demographics are eroding for dems.

              1. Wukchumni

                I see the former teetotalitarian leader’s followers as being more Nacho Men, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he’s the big cheese.


                I think ‘Village People Donald’ will be the key NFT trading card, now sold out-or so is the unverified claim.

              2. Carolinian

                The Dreher guy somewhere in Hungary. Guess he doesn’t approve.


                Surely anyone suggesting that Trump was ever some kind of evangelical would rate a sobriety test from the local constabulary. Trump’s approach to religion was plainly transactional and that goes for such things as embassy in Jerusalem as well (Adelson plus some murky doings involving Jared). Dreher is a doof.

                1. fresno dan

                  I saw that – I’m thinking those evangelicals are more interested in what people do than what they say (uh, politically). I’m thinking the dem side could learn something, but than again, I believe the point is NOT to accomplish anything…

      2. jsn

        Thank you!

        There are some people who’s writing style feels like swimming in jello, and Helmer is one of them for me.

        Of course, I’ve had others make similar comments about some of my writing…

      3. Samuel Conner

        I too frequently find JH’s writing a bit difficult to wade through. It often feels like a “data dump” with too little organization for me to follow. OTOH, that might be due to the complexity of what he is reporting and my own declining cognitive faculties.

        Perhaps his writing is more euphonius if heard in Russian.

        OTOH, I’m prepared to believe that JH’s writing may be more accurate than the cacaphony (or should that be “caca phoney”?) of western MSM.

      4. GramSci

        Aye! I’m reminded of the advice of “ye olde Baptist minister” on writing a sermon:

        “Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, then tell ’em what you’re tellin’ ’em, and then tell ’em what ya told ’em!”

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Kyiv warns of long blackouts after Russia strikes”

    DW states the obvious. The Russians have now taken Marinka near Donetsk city where the Ukrainians had stationed some of their artillery that has been hitting that city. As retaliation, the Ukrainians have been hitting that city with everything that they have causing civilian deaths and injures. Seems that the Russians have decided that two can play that game and have been hitting Kiev and other places. Here is a video clip showing a transformer that got fried by a Geran-2 drone- (43 secs)

  11. Henry Moon Pie

    Somewhat related to the “Activate Capital” story, at the UN’s COP15 biodiversity, a “pact with Nature” has been a big topic at the UN’s COP15 conference on biodiversity in Montreal. This “pact” is to set aside 30% of the planet “for Nature” as a way of addressing the catastrophic decline in species diversity and populations. Justin Trudeau himself at one session by indigenous protestors protesting their complete lack of voice at the conference.

    This idea sounds so sweet, but it’s one of those WEF nightmares concocted in Ecomodernist hell. Those indigenous protestors were right. Guess who’s going to be move off their lands, some of which these peoples have tended since fire was a thing? It’s not going to be LA and NYC set aside for this “pact.” It’s the parts of the world not yet destroyed by the Western industrial monster, i.e. parts still inhabited by indigenous peoples. Another group likely to suffer under the proposal are traditional herders (calling you, Kevin Costner).

    What happens to the rest of us along with the indigenous? We get herded into massive high rises to hook up our VR as we survive on worms and Frankenfruits.

    The problem is not the presence of human beings in Nature’s midst. The problem is what those humans are doing. In the Amazon, humans were the jungle’s gardeners with a light touch, deftly interacting with their environment to meet their needs without attempting to remake the entire ecosystem. Now Western industrial society slashes the Amazon jungle and replaces it McDonald’s ranches because up north in ‘Murca, people aren’t fat enough yet.

  12. John Beech

    So a young guy name of Umar Haique – self-described as ‘vampire.’ (lower case ‘v’ and note the trailing period) – thinks the 2020s are the most stressed-depressed ever, eh? And he has 187k followers. Must be an important thinker.

    Me? Doubt anybody follows me, but suspect those who lived through the Great Depression would disagree with his analysis of words. Ditto the survivors of the Black Plague. And, speaking of black, I suspect 100% of America’s negro race have lived a few centuries of rather worse, still.

    But whatever, believe what you will because if nothing else, recent events have proved everybody can have their own facts.

    1. LifelongLib

      Well, my mom and dad lived through the Depression (as kids) and WW2, but felt that after that they’d gotten the best the U.S. would ever offer, at least to the non-wealthy. They thought we and our kids are going to have it worse than they did.

      1. AndrewJ

        Exactly. Perverse at it is, WW2 was a light at the end of the tunnel for the Great Depressed, as the American economy was juiced up for a war footing. They had to survive, what, ten years? Here, 2001 showed us that our government cared more about pointless wars than anything beneficial for society, and the 2008 crash wiped out futures of a generation and displaced millions from home ownership – and twenty-two or fifteen years later, things get worse every year, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

    2. jsn

      And Haique calls himself “vampire” because he has a light sensitivity disease that makes sunlight exposure damaging to his health.

  13. GramSci

    Re: More drilling would hurt the oil industry

    IANAE [Economist], but I think I first read about sabotage being a tool used by predatory industrialists to raise prices in Veblen. This must have been at least secretly acknowledged by previous, more socially acceptable economists, no?

    1. digi_owl

      Frankly i think this is the true “peak oil”. Not that we will exhaust supplies full stop, but that the potential supplies will be so inaccessible that it will need an oil price the public is can’t bear in order to get a ROI on the extraction the companies can accept. And we are already seeing very sensitive and inaccessible arctic sources being considered and then postponed as the price pr barrel bounce up and down.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aye. that was the final consensus at LATOC, back in the day(>2008)
        but it was EROEI(E=Energy/BOE in both cases).
        when itr costs more energy to get oil and gas out of the ground than is contained in that oil and gas.
        been edging against this state for a long while, now.
        why go after hard to reach Deepwater oilfields(deepwater horizon), when there’s ‘abundant oil” elsewhere?
        for that matter, why do all this fracking in the Permian?
        Fracking is what one does to spent fields…its going after the dregs.
        ergo, we aint…nor will we ever be…the “new Saudi Arabia!!!”.
        all those perennial oil subsidies ain’t just for shoring up Exxon’s bottom line…but for keeping gasoline relatively cheap, as far as the amurkin consumer…lest the jig be seen to be up, and panic set in.
        i have no idea what the “True Cost” of a gallon of gas should be…but i reckon its a whole lot more than the $3-5 it is currently.
        but even creative accounting has it’s limits, it turns out…and nature bats last, and all.

        1. GramSci

          So yeah! Let’s “go after” Russia! What have we got to lose?

          There are so many causal threads, all unraveling at once.

        2. fresno dan

          What is amazing to me is that the US thinks that sending what hydrocarbons we have to Europe, instead of Russia supplying Europe, is a good idea. Of course, I’m sure the thinking is that once we have no economically recoverable hydrocarbons, we will just invade Russia and take theirs…
          Of course, our geniuses probably haven’t thought about where all the gasoline to power the air transports, ships, and tanks and jets will come from PRIOR to conquering Russia (maybe the Saudis won’t be too keen on the exappropriation oil model to supply our military)
          Or all the oil used for domestic use will be requisitioned for the war. And if FOOD can’t be shipped (because poor people eating is not nearly as important as rich people traveling in private jets) and some ‘mericans die, well, sacrifices must be made…

          you know, my heating bill has doubled from last year (natural gas). Now, I don’t want any Europeans to freeze, but they HAD a nice source of cheap natural gas…

          1. digi_owl

            The uniforms have, to some extent. That is why DARPA etc is looking into various ways to power everything from local sources (solar, wind, latrines), and perhaps even fuel jets via synthetics from seawater and nuclear power.

    2. John Steinbach

      This is essentially the argument that Gail Tverberg at Our Finite World has been making for years. She believes the paradox of high prices needed for production being unaffordable for consumers will lead to economic collapse & that much of the theoretical oil “reserves” will end up unrecoverable.

      1. Wukchumni

        Imagine the plight of the petroleum industry in say 2050, as we’d taken out all the easy to get to stuff that supplied the energy to build machinery to get the really hard to get to stuff out, and then they went broke, with all the knowhow going away.

        There are tar seeps around Santa Barbara on the beaches, and we’ll go from the Native Americans using them as caulking and other uses, to oil powering the world and then some, back to collecting tar balls on the beach all in a few hundred years.

  14. meadows

    Thanks for great links, love the parrots! In contrast to the Tablet article, the Business Insider piece re Page and Brin seems to pull it’s punches, almost adoring, “…Hey those multi-billionaires and their shennanigans are sure somethin’ huh… gotta luv ‘em”!

    It’s become too easy to fool the public because of the lapsed diligence of the fourth estate combined with ideological blinders. It’s not like we live in an information vacuum. But most people don’t know NC exists.

  15. Cetra Ess

    I think I need a summary of Helmer’s LGBT piece, it’s so awkwardly worded and sprawling, or maybe I haven’t had enough morning coffee. I’m mostly trying to figure out: a) is gay porn illegal in Russia, b) is gay marriage legal, c) does two men holding hands in public count as “gay propaganda”?

    What I can glean so far is that the courts don’t seem to have actually tested any of these anti-LGBT laws…so maybe the answer to these questions aren’t known?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not sure about the new laws but the ones passed several years ago reflected the conservative nature of Russian society and their wanting to protect their children which seems to be a big thing in that country. I could be wrong but I think there that when you are an adult, it is up to you for the choices that you make but you can’t impose your ideas and wants on children. So in practice, you won’t have what you see in western countries where drag queens are introduced to young children in class, butt plugs are passed around in others, and there are school expeditions to drag show clubs. They really don’t know what they are missing out on. /sarc

      1. GramSci

        With 17,098,246 km2 (6,601,670 sq mi) and a population of only 145 million, Russia may feel it needs breeders. It would probably welcome Ukrainian refugees, but …

      2. Brian Wilder

        Helmer goes into great detail on the nuances but under the guise of examining the “fine print” of the law and its interpretation, without grounding it adequately in the “keep your head down” political culture. Unlike Helmer, I seriously doubt Russians are closely following polling on gay support for Democrats, but it may be that Russian politicians seriously fear even now a color revolution of sorts undermining the Russian struggle with the West. If neocons — among whom genuine concern for LGBTQ issues is zero — are using social issues as soft power HIMARS missiles, the Russian political class wants an immunizing vaccine.

        I am rather disappointed that Helmer is not able or willing to provide a more nuanced view of how Russia is reacting to Western views of LGBT+ politics and ideas. I cannot do an account myself, but I know from Russian friends that it is very complicated and has roots in Islamic revival as well as the Orthodox redoubt. The common and probably “officially approved” Russian view of themselves invests a lot in the idea that Russia is a socially conservative society. At the same time, especially in highly urbanized European Russia, there is widespread longing especially among middle-class Russians to share in European culture, great admiration for Germany as an imagined liberal, incorruptible, orderly and rich society, and many have no serious prejudice against homosexuality (just as many (most?) have no residual foundation of religious belief to anchor this “social conservatism” that is being prescribed).

        The combination of manifest and severe Russophobia in Europe, especially the nearest neighbors, where travel is being constrained and the explicit threats in repressive laws regarding expressing certain opinions must be having a huge effect. Every Russian I know considered their individual insignificance a kind of invulnerability. They felt they could think, say and pretty much do as they pleased as long as none of it actually threatened the regime. When the Chechen war concluded, a chill ran thru the whole of Russia regarding LGBT issues, but it was barely perceptible in St. Petersburg at the far end of the Russian spectrum.

        I don’t feel like I am understanding much about the political dynamics of a “social conservatism” being stood up as an innoculant to the atomistic individualism prescribed by neoliberalism, in Russia or elsewhere.

        1. Yves Smith

          The point of the piece explicitly was to cover the new laws. Helmer made clear it’s too early to tell but if they are handled like (apparently similar) laws for the military, they won’t be enforced unless one behaves in a manner that is extreme. He also made clear, however, that it is immediately having a chilling effect on the distribution of books and movies, that ones with gay themes or even gay scenes are being yanked or edited.

          I don’t see how you can ask Helmer to go beyond what polls in Russia find. He’d be relying on anecdata and would be accused of bias no matter what he found.

      3. Aumua

        Protect their children from what though, exactly?

        it is up to you for the choices that you make but you can’t impose your ideas and wants on children.

        Yeah but you can impose gender and hetero-normative ideas on kids, as we have been doing for ages.

        Handing out sex toys is definitely questionable and controversial, but just for some context we’re talking about high school students in a sex education class, not little kids ffs.

        Also yes, I do see the rise of a faction who would love to see an extremist right wing theocratic takeover of the country, and the fight to deny trans people and trans rights in particular, and by extension LGBTQ rights in general is at the spearhead of that movement.

        1. semper loquitur

          High schoolers are children. Impressionable and manipulatable. The correct usage of condoms, physical safety, and sexual biology are enough for their education and well-being. No need to introduce adult practices, thanks.

          The notion of anyone imposing gender ideas on children for “ages” is fallacious. The notion of gender as indicative of the nebulosity “sexual identity”, not biological sex, is rather new. Let’s not even go into the lunacy of the “gender galaxy”:

          “People have been using it in a way feminists often complain about–that is, as just a fancy word for ‘sex’–for more than 500 years.”


          “It isn’t until the 1980s that there’s a larger jump to more than five uses per million words.”


          “What about the ‘identity’ sense of ‘gender’? When does that start to turn up in the texts sampled for dictionaries and corpora, and what kinds of texts do you find it in? The answer is that it first appears in the 1950s, in texts dealing with the clinical treatment of what were then called ‘hermaphrodites’ (i.e., people with intersex conditions) and ‘transsexuals’.”

          So up until relatively recently, in societal terms, gender = sex. (See below for the obfuscation of those terms.) Sex isn’t imposed, it’s observed. By any chance, do you work in biology? You mentioned hard science in the past…

          The pedophilic element in the drag/crossdressing/furry world is a point of entry for assaults on lesbians and gays by the Right. They are also under threat of erasure by the trans ideology, it’s not uncommon for young queers to be referred to as “genital fetishists” in chatrooms and on dating sites. See Genevieve Gluck’s and Helen Joyce’s work on YouTube for in-depth discussions. And here is an article about those degenerates Foucault, Kinsey, and the father of the term “gender identity” John Money to elucidate the pedophilic connections:

          “As such, he (John Money) is regarded as the progenitor of the terms “gender role” and “gender identity”. A decade later, Judith Butler combined paedophile rapist Michel Foucault’s idea of “body imprisonment” and radical neo-Marxism with these notions to establish “Queer theory” in her appallingly-bad book “Gender Trouble”.”

          1. Aumua

            My bachelor’s and master’s are in Physics and Atmospheric Science, respectively, although my living is currently being made elsewhere. How about you, what do you do?

            So up until relatively recently, in societal terms, gender = sex … Sex isn’t imposed, it’s observed.

            Gender as a term that has a meaning separate from biological sex is a relatively new idea, I agree. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s invalid, and I think that the difference is the key to understanding the trans identity (or to rejecting it if that’s what you want to do). Certainly transgender people have existed since long before the distinction in language was made, and have had a place in i.e. indigenous American societies.

            The pedophilic element in the drag/crossdressing/furry world is a point of entry for assaults on lesbians and gays by the Right … it’s not uncommon for young queers to be referred to as “genital fetishists” in chatrooms and on dating sites.

            Just because the reactionary Right is trying to drive a wedge in and chop the T off the LGBTQ acronym (as several people have echoed in this very discussion thread), does not mean that the queer community by and large buys into their crap. The majority do not, and they stand with trans people against transphobia, which I believe is the current front in the civil rights battle. You yourself have called trans people ‘fetishists’ in your other response to me, so it’s pretty clear who you are standing with. I’ll talk about the important distinction between cross dressing and transgenderism in my other response.

            And here is an article about those degenerates Foucault, Kinsey, and the father of the term “gender identity” John Money to elucidate the pedophilic connections:

            I don’t know if you fully realize that the ‘pedophilic element’, and the ‘pedophilic connection’ are part of the rhetoric we were talking about before. The author of the article you linked literally compares Alfred Kinsey to Joseph Mengele. I mean pedophilia exists in all demographics of course, but the notion that it is more widespread in transgender or gay people is an old reactionary trope that has been and still is used to push fear of and disgust towards those peoples.

            You’re probably aware that the vast majority of sexual abuse of children happens in the family, so if you really want to have a witch hunt for groomers of kids, then maybe you should start with your fathers, your uncles, your brothers and dear old granddads. Because that’s where the majority of the groomers are.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > My bachelor’s and master’s are in Physics and Atmospheric Science, respectively, although my living is currently being made elsewhere. How about you, what do you do?

              Leaving aside the ad hom, and granting the premise that credentials are required to speak on sex and gender issues — an entirely anti-working class view, I might add — how on earth does a master’s in Atmospheric Science qualify you?

              > transphobia, which I believe is the current front in the civil rights battle

              Based on what? Because if the metric is the body count, class and race are several orders of magnitude more significant, as Covid mortality figures show.

              > You yourself have called trans people ‘fetishists’ in your other response to me

              I have searched the comments section on “fetish.” Here are the two cases Semper Loquitur used the term:

              It’s not uncommon for young queers to be referred to as “genital fetishists” in chatrooms and on dating sites.


              Drag is a fetishization of women by men

              The first case is obviously not “you yourself,” since Semper Loquitur is quoting chatroom transcripts. Nor is the second, unless you make the rookie mistake of confusing trans with drag.

              And while we’re on rookie mistakes, if you must lie about what another commenter says, don’t do it on the same thread; it’s too easy to trace. Do note that lying about a commenter’s views is “bad faith,” and hence a violation of site policy. I wish you every success. Elsewhere.

      4. lyman alpha blob

        I really don’t get the whole drag queens and kids bit. Talking to a few parents the other day and they were saying how fun it was to take their kids to drag shows. While I haven’t been to an actual drag performance myself, I did live for a decade in the neighborhood with the highest percentage of gay people on the West coast outside of San Francisco and saw quite a bit of the culture.

        To me anyway, the attraction of drag shows, much like dive bars, gambling, etc. (the latter two I will admit to a high level of participation with) was that they are illicit. Something the normies and straight laced Republican types shy away from, at least publicly. What the hell fun is it to dress up in drag and talk to children anyway?

        It’s like making Vegas familly-friendly. Takes all the fun right out of it.

        1. Aumua

          maybe what they’re looking for is a wider acceptance and place in society, and not to be seen as something weird, disgusting or even dangerous that should absolutely be kept far away from children, least the kids become ‘infected’ with their ‘mental illness’…

          1. semper loquitur

            Drag is a fetishization of women by men. The exaggerated costumes, hair-dos, and hyper-feminine affectations are a mockery. It reduces them to stereotypes. It’s womanface. Why does that need to be normalized with children?

            1. The Rev Kev

              You might be onto something and I had not thought of it in such terms. After all, when was the last time that you heard of a Drag King performance? Maybe there is an element of anti-womeness in it all. Saw another example of this which I have mentioned before is that when the ‘gay’ community evolved into the ‘LGBQ’ community, that you were seeing situations where lesbians, aka women, were coming under attack by the rest of that community.

              1. semper loquitur

                I have known a lot of lesbians in my life. I was shocked to learn that there is a significant amount of animosity and disdain for them in the gay community. It is all, at it’s basis, misogyny.

              2. Carolinian

                You might be onto something

                I think so too. Our not far away sister city is home to Bob Jones University and the Story Hour was a bigger deal there than at our library where it mostly was tolerated but shrugged off.

                But seeing drag shows as a parody of women strikes me as a perfectly legitimate objection. And if it’s really about “liberation” by those who say they want to be left alone they shouldn’t be so in your face to parents who also say they want to be left alone. There’s a story elsewhere today about science versus fake science and one problem with gender activism would be treating things that are complicated and only somewhat understood as though they are simple and absolute.

                1. Yves Smith

                  Straw mannning, which you have been doing quite a lot. Semper loquitur was talking about drag queens, not trans women.

                  And separately, (here misapplied) name calling is not an argument. It’s a bad faith smear designed to silence the opposition.

            2. Aumua

              There’s a lot of confusion around the difference between cross dressing and other fetishes and transgenderism, and that confusion is deliberately being spread and used by reactionaries to attack transgender people. Some people who are drag queens or cross dressers (or furrries or what have you) are simply fetishists, it’s true. They do it for fun, entertainment and/or because it turns them on. Others consider themselves transgender.

              It’s important to understand that the people who are attacking these shows do not see any difference. They believe that anyone who claims to be a trans woman is simply a cross dresser, even though that person may be seen by themselves, others and society as a woman, may take hormones that literally change their physiology to be more feminine, and may live their entire lives as authentically as possible as a woman. The bottom line is that the reactionary Right does not consider the trans identity to be real. They believe that biological sex is the only meaningful thing that determines gender. I believe that gender is more complex and determined by a number of factors, much like the human mind is complex and mysterious.

              What I’m saying is that the outrage behind the drag shows is really about denial of and suppression of transgender people, and the other given reasons are smoke and mirrors that effectively obscure that.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > What I’m saying is that the outrage behind the drag shows is really about denial of and suppression of transgender people, and the other given reasons are smoke and mirrors that effectively obscure that.

                Nonsense. Trans and drag are entirely separate issues. I can’t think of a single good reason to be having drag shows in public schools*, and kink (see below) generally. I mean, what next? Leatherman culture? Dungeons? Scat? Donkey shows? Please draw the line, or if there is no line, say so. We have entire university classes devoted to remedial education because our children don’t know how to write or read, we have teachers actually buying school supplies for their classes, and we’re spending money to make sure our children understand whatever the kink du jour might be? That’s our priority? GTFO.

                To forestall any dogpiling, let me state that being trans, or trans-curious, is not a kink. I’m not responsible for whatever conflations conservatives might make and I don’t worry about what they think; liberals do far too much of that, getting into endless mutually escalatory outrage and funding spirals with conservatives, to the funding and career advantages of both, and there’s your real kink, come to think of it.

                NOTE * I suppose private schools can do whatever they like; so-called abstinence education, for example, another nonsense. Or if parents wish to train their children in kink, they can find a practitioner and pay for some training. None of this should be publicly funded at all.

            3. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Drag is a fetishization of women by men. The exaggerated costumes, hair-dos, and hyper-feminine affectations are a mockery.

              The mockery can be friendly, even admiring. Understaning fetishism (except for commodity fetishism) is not my thing, so I can’t evaluate your claim that “Drag is a fetishization.” But if your claim is that drag is necessarily negative toward women, I’m not buying it.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Talking to a few parents the other day and they were saying how fun it was to take their kids to drag shows.

          Yes, we have theatres for drag shows. That’s fine. Let the parents who wish take their kids there. I can’t think of a single good reason to spend a dime on drag shows in public schools. The whole concept is so ridiculous it’s easy to see what parents might question the motives of advocates for it.

      5. Daniil Adamov

        Leaving aside the validity of those old laws, the new laws extend this approach to the adult population as well. I suppose adults are basically children too, really.

      6. Lambert Strether Post author

        > you won’t have what you see in western countries

        If I were king, I’d deem the entire Sex Ed venture a failure, and remove it from school curricula entirely — the entire spectrum from right to left, all the way from abstinence education to butt plugs, etc. (I’d also let school librarians put whatever they want on the shelves. Being “taught” something in class isn’t the same as seeking out a book and reading it.) The entire topic is for parents; the idea of putting “identity” in the hands of teachers is daft.

        Since that would destroy important industries for both liberal and conservative factions, this would never pass, but that’s what I’d do.

    2. mrsyk

      I’m about to read the Helmer article, but first I will point out that amongst the comments at the sites that offer a more accurate accounting of the Russian Special Operation in Ukraine there is a proliferation of anti LGBQ—, antisemitism, and climate change denial.

      1. Mike

        Yes, unfortunately for them, spot on. The conservative nature of the Russia! Russia! set is established, and the culture wars continue via military “analysis”. The broad amalgam of these views seem to congeal around the weakening of the West by wya of sexual conflation, with “men” and women being stronger by their “natural” (i.e., capitalist cultural) condition. However dangerous for those that are LGBQ+, it seems the backlash is playing to a large segment of Eastern European political conservatism.

      2. Objective Ace

        Climate change will have massive positive effects for Russia — might be just as well that they deny it

        1. Polar Socialist

          Not officially. Last year Putin committed Russia to be “carbon neutral” (or is it “net zero emitter”?) by 2060. Mostly, I believe, by using Siberia as an enormous carbon sink.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            His line used to be that it’s real and a net good, in the 2000s. He changed his tune by the end of the 2010s though – now it’s real and bad but we’re working on it.

        2. mrsyk

          Color me skeptical. One reason would be, and I believe I am remembering correctly, a significant percentage of Russia’s heavy industry rests on permafrost.

        3. agent ranger smith

          If the same climate change which has massive positive effects for Russia also has massive negative effects for China and India and Pakistan and Bangladesh and Indonesia and etc., then a few hundred million climate refugees might seek to move to Russia to share in those massive positive effects.

      3. Daniil Adamov

        Package thinking is ubiquitous. There is a general tendency to place opposition to the “Collective West” in the same package as opposition to everything Western elites pretend to champion. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater as it were.

  16. John Beech

    This is rich, ‘Biggest US shale operator says more drilling would harm industry’ is news the same way a barber saying another barber moving in on the same block does harm. Harm to him, or to his customers?

    Good grief, the posturing being treated as if it’s of any importance. And in FT, to boot! Oh how the mighty have slid in a desperate play for eyeballs.

  17. MaryLand

    I have been getting the Daily Stoic emails for several years. Most of the time they are really helpful. Highly recommended.

    1. fresno dan

      In his writings, Seneca talks a lot about how we tend to worry ourselves into spirals of anxiety and despair. We look at what has happened and we extrapolate out what could happen. We suffer in our imaginations, he says, far more than we’re actually suffering in reality right now. That’s the lesson Karr took from that friend, especially as she tried to get sober. “Yes, we’re worried about what’s going to happen,” she would later explain. “We’re not in a nuclear war right now. Our hair’s not on fire. That doesn’t mean I think we should be passive, and shouldn’t take action, but I think there should be a reality check.”
      yeah, that really applies to me – there is a lot of bad and a lot of corruption. Me being depressed or axious about it does zero to solve it…

  18. John Beech

    Lambert’s comment regarding mandating what we shouldn’t have (vaccines) and not mandating what we should (masks, etc.) makes perfect sense. But then, these days it’s like we live in Superman’s Bizzaro World.

    Me? I’m thinking it’s too bad the lessons learned during the Spanish Plague weren’t retained. Back then, if you’re unaware, ordinances were passed and people were arrested for walking about without a mask. Interesting how much ‘progress’ we’ve made, eh?

    Y’all stay safe over the holidays. I suspect the stress of wanting to be with loved ones will be so strong grandma and grandpa will be sacrificed for a temporary bit of joy for the kiddies who may not even remember the old ones lost.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Opinion | The U.S. Needs to Change the Way It Does Business With China”

    Robert Lighthizer has been a China Hawk for decades now and he opposed China joining the World Trade Organization in another New York Times op-ed way back in 1997. That’s why Trump made him a U.S. trade rep. He wants the US to mostly decouple from China? Fine. Then that means that the US will have to develop a national trade policy, invest in vocational education, pass laws against US corporations moving industries offshore, invest in manufacturing, etc. Can you see Congress or any President doing so? (crickets) I happen to agree with all those measures which I have just mentioned and I think that for the people, it would be good if the US once more became a semi-Autarky. Unfortunately in the present climate it will not happen as any such measures will be sabotaged by a business America financially-driven rather than industrially driven. It’s a FIRE economy now.

    1. Synoia

      If the US became self-sufficient by repatriating production to the US, thus becoming an Autarky id would probably lose much leverage on it vassal states.

      It is the US’ consumption, and USD use in trade dollar which spreads its influence.

      Loosing the US’ vassal states is inimical, to the US blob’s desire to control the world. Once upon a time the US had control through manufacturing, however that enabled US unions labor to gain significant power.

      The blob is inimical to sharing power.

      The adoption of Neo liberalism enabled the crushing of labor while preserving the blobs imperial ambitions, allows the blob to spread without satisfying the US’ proles.

      1. spud

        the real problem is that the blob are free traders, that have no real idea as to what production does. they only know that money is power.

        but production is power. the chinese know this, so do the russians. and that innovation follows the factory floor.

        the hatred of unions and working stiffs only sped up the demise of the free traders empire. its past the days of our market absorbing someone elses over production using that as leverage. that over production and the absorption gutted the american standard of living so much, that our market power has now been vastly reduced.

        the free traders now face the fact that the american market really is not that attractive, unless its for dollar store type of merchandise, that is low end stuff.

        now the panic is setting in. and the polices that came out of the clinton administration, so thoroughly stripped america of any ability to innovate and produce, plus unleashing wall street and the banks on what was left of production and the workers, that its so embedded, how can it be reversed, and keep the deplorable down, quite the conundrum they face.

  20. DJG, Reality Czar

    Helmer’s primer on LGBT “”propaganda” and Russia. Well, the problem with the law is this vague term, LGBT propaganda. Are we mainly to worry about homoerotic perfume ads? Or dangerous writers like Sappho, Petronius, Homer, Shakespeare, Hafiz, Yukio Mishima, and Tennessee Williams? Not to mention Oscar Wilde or J.R. Ackerley. Or Walt Whitman.

    If we follow the history of anti-gay legislation in the U S of A and the U.K., we see that its main purpose was persecution for the sake of persecution. It didn’t inspire an upsurge in the birthrate or a decline in the number of divorces. It was a chance for raids on fairy bars.

    Fairly far down the list in the post there are many legitimate questions from publishers.

    And as we see with FBI infiltration of Twitter, propaganda very often is what the government defines propaganda to be. After all, the appearance of Zelenskyy on the cover of Vogue is not propaganda. Perish the thought. It is a testament to his nuclear family and his vision as a world leader…

    For these reasons, I don’t support Russia in the current proxy war. Nor do I support serial human-rights disaster, and most corrupt county in Europe, Ukraine. Nor do I support U.S. interests, which consist of war profiteering and forced sales of liquefied natural gas. I won’t even bother with the daft British, and their management by chaos.

    Get their collective assess to a peace conference. Get them out of the personal behavior of the citizenry. The human-rights situation worldwide will continue to deteriorate unless there is détente and an end to the many proxy wars.

    1. hunkerdown

      You’re right, of course. States only exist insofar as they act upon the behavior of their subjects. Moral perfectionism is one of the many modes of busy work which states use to protect their big, reductive fictions. Getting “their collective asses” to a peace conference would end the team-building exercise, and neither “world leadership” is ready for that.

    2. britzklieg

      How US Evangelicals Helped Create Russia’s Anti-Gay Movement
      Meet the Fox News producer, the nightclub impresario, and the oligarchs who teamed up to write inequality into law.

      Also “The Family” (there’s a doc of the same name based on Jeff Sharlet’s book) sponsor of the national prayer breakfast played a big role. Russia’s law is apparently based on anti-gay legislation that was on the books in 6 US states at the time it passed.

      1. Daniil Adamov

        Yeees… It’s funny how often defending our traditional values and standing up to the West involves copying Western laws and political practices to punish our own people.

    3. Daniil Adamov

      I believe it is vague by design. Our government loves those “rubber” laws that can be used to truncheon whoever they want and intimidate the others. I am not sure if they are really especially concerned about sexual minorities and their nefarious influence on the children. There are some prominent, outspoken, possibly-sincere gay-bashers in our political sphere (such as Mizulina and various communists), but they do not call the shots. They are, however, useful for our version of the distracting culture war racket.

      As for the rest… I suppose I would agree, though your logic seems a little strange to me. You don’t support Russia in the proxy war because of our appalling internal politics? But one can surely be right in one thing and wrong in another. Mind you, I cannot see how the “victory” of either side could be anything but a humanitarian catastrophe, myself, and a negotiated compromise peace that will leave everyone unhappy is the least-bad possible outcome at this juncture. What’s certainly true is that the war provides an excellent pretext for everyone to tighten the screws further at home. The Western leadership has been kind enough to shore up Putin with sanctions, perhaps in thanks for what an excellent bogeyman he has turned out to be for their own purposes. It’s really a very harmonious relationship, though maybe not so good for everyone dead, dying, bereaved, impoverished, singled out as a target for repression, etc.

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        Daniil Adamov: You and I are making the same point:

        “Mind you, I cannot see how the “victory” of either side could be anything but a humanitarian catastrophe, myself, and a negotiated compromise peace that will leave everyone unhappy is the least-bad possible outcome at this juncture.”

        I don’t support a Russian victory. I support getting everyone to a peace and security conference. As I mentioned, only with détente and peace treaties will the internal situations of the four countries improve. War is the health of the state.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          Peace treaties seem politically impossible at the moment. I’d take an indefinitely-prolonged ceasefire. Political change would become much more viable without active hostilities. Ideally, after some kind of turnover at the top in both Russia and Ukraine, some kind of reconciliation and even a peace treaty could become feasible – one can dream. Stopping the slaughter is the most important part, but unfortunately, a war is much harder to stop than it is to start.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You are seeing this happen everywhere. Didn’t Lambert do a post once on how many CIA/intelligence people actually managed to get themselves elected straight to Congress the last elections?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Didn’t Lambert do a post once on how many CIA/intelligence people actually managed to get themselves elected straight to Congress the last elections?

        WSWS originated this the term “CIA Democrats” and has done quite a bit of research. I created a database some midterms back, and classified all the Democrat candidates. Spooks and cops were disproportionately represented (and while there were some genuinely good-hearted leftists, in general candidate quality was low, which was a harbinger of the weakness we see today).

    2. Bsn

      Yes, f’book is simply a CIA/Military front, created by the US security state. Great article by one of the most powerful muckrakers around. Let’s hope she stays around.
      Whitney Webb: “The Military Origins Of Facebook, Part 1 – Whitney Webb – Investigative Journalism!”

      An excerpt ….. A few months into Facebook’s launch, in June 2004, Facebook cofounders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz brought Sean Parker onto Facebook’s executive team. Parker, previously known for cofounding Napster, later connected Facebook with its first outside investor, Peter Thiel. As discussed, Thiel, at that time, in coordination with the CIA, was actively trying to resurrect controversial DARPA programs that had been dismantled the previous year. Notably, Sean Parker, who became Facebook’s first president, also had a history with the CIA, which recruited him at the age of sixteen soon after he had been busted by the FBI for hacking corporate and military databases. Thanks to Parker, in September 2004, Thiel formally acquired $500,000 worth of Facebook shares and was added its board. Parker maintained close ties to Facebook as well as to Thiel, with Parker being hired as a managing partner of Thiel’s Founders Fund in 2006.

    3. hunkerdown

      Around 1999 or 2000, I recall a steady stream of résumés with a police-like background interviewing for my dot-com employer’s technical operations group. FBI, military intelligence, etc. with clearances advertised. They were not a great fit for the relatively libertine but productive company culture and were deemed NGMI by consensus no later than the end of the first interview round.

      Two swallows do not make a spring, and the Raspberry Pi affair combined with deep social media infiltration might just be the effect of a brief popular catharsis post-election, a righteous barking fit against the surveillance state. But only a couple or few more swallows would be highly suggestive. This is a good purge. I hope it doesn’t stop short.

  21. Lexx

    ‘Beware the Do-Gooders’

    ‘For instance, of the $95 million that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan invested in FTX, it was reported that SBF took a significant portion not for EA-branded charity but rather for his own personal use.’

    Huh… and his parents are both professors at Stanford… there’s nothing Freudian* going on at all, it’s probably just a coincidence.

    *’Freud believed people are “simply actors in the drama of [their] own minds, pushed by desire, pulled by coincidence”.’

      1. Lexx

        Did Jung believe in coincidences?

        ‘The culmination of Jung’s lifelong engagement with the paranormal is his theory of synchronicity, the view that the structure of reality includes a principle of acausal connection which manifests itself most conspicuously in the form of meaningful coincidences.’

      2. ambrit

        LOL! that’s reich! Next you’ll be advising us to go orgonic. “Eat your vegetables dear. They don’t get out much.”
        This looks like a job for the Super Adventure Club!

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Is China Planning to Attack Taiwan? A Careful Consideration of Available Evidence Says No”

    There is one way that will guarantee a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Just do the Zelensky Ploy where Taiwan’s President announces that they will be developing and deploying nuclear weapons on their missiles. Then watch the fireworks start.

  23. Sin Fronteras

    I believe neither Pfizer nor Moderna have released to the public the data on their original vaccine trials. Which is how it works under neoLiberalism…

    My concern with this study: will asymptomatic students infect other older people and thus transmit covid and Long Covid? In other words, a sole focus on the students obscures the possibility of wider harm..

    Anyway thanks for the study link. It will be interesting to see if anti-vaxxers pick up on it.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I do not think Corona testing harms. Why not just require periodic testing of students to identify those with asymptomatic infections. Some form of isolation might alleviate most if not all of your concerns about wider harms.

      1. Objective Ace

        Testing is terrible*. For this to be useful, you’d basically need to do testing every day. Otherwise, your instilling a false sense of security. “This cold of mine cant be Covid because I tested negative earlier this week”

        *We need an operation warp speed for testing. Especially now that Omicran variants show up with even less prevelance on tests

        1. curlydan

          My 8th grader just tested positive this morning. The school doesn’t do anything with the info except mandate 5 days out–regardless of the Covid status at 5 days.

          He had a 30-minute piano lesson with his 70+ year old piano teacher on Saturday, but I was out of town. I asked him if he wore a mask (I make him wear one at the lessons), he said he can’t remember which basically means no. It really sucks to have to call an at-risk person and tell her that that info.

    1. Mildred Montana

      Mass layoffs? If what Fred Ryan, publisher of the Washington Post, said is true, then the adjective “mass” is a serious abuse of the English language. To wit: “Mr. Ryan said that the cuts would amount to a single-digit percentage of staff…”

      1-9%? That ain’t “mass” in my vocabulary. And more importantly, it’s all sound and fury signifying nothing. The government-corporate-media triumvirate is with us for a while, and each will find a way to support each.

      1. hunkerdown

        One of the WARN Act’s three definitions of “mass layoff” is the shutdown of an entire work site affecting 50 or more employees in a 30-day period. If they are shutting down an entire satellite office, that will be very interesting, but easily defused as a conflict so long as everyone gets some money for the road. Let’s hope they’re not going to disperse their flex nets into local newsrooms.

  24. Mike

    Re: Sam Bankman-Fried Is Where Media Patronage Was Always Headed (Defector)

    I alamost fell out of my chair- the photo credit is amazingly accurate:

    Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for CARE For Special Children

  25. TimH

    On the Defector article:

    we need public funding for media, democratically controlled newsrooms, and radical transparency at every level of news production.

    This won’t work… the definition of ‘media’ and ‘news production’ will exclude NC and emptywheel and simply entrench the biggies.

  26. fresno dan
    WHEN JANET YELLEN was nominated to be Secretary of the Treasury, the Senate Finance Committee staff went over her tax returns with a magnifying glass. Yellen, an economics PhD who taught at Harvard, always prepared the returns for herself and her husband, economics Nobel laureate George A. Akerlof.

    “She discovered to her surprise that she had been doing the family taxes wrong for years,” reports Owen Ullmann in his excellent new biography of Yellen, Empathy Economics. “She had listed George’s book royalties on Schedule E, which is for rents, royalties, and partnerships. That seemed the logical thing to do but it was wrong.”

    Book royalties, it turns out, “go on Schedule C, which is for income from a sole proprietorship or profession.” The mistake meant that they’d overpaid their taxes for years because, on Schedule C, they could deduct more business expenses from his royalty payments. Still, as a result of Yellen’s error, they had to amend their past returns and refile them.
    Perhaps the story is apocryphal – I can’t find any other story using google that Yellen can’t do her taxes properly. And income from book royalties is not filed under the section titled royalties? Anybody know if Yellen in fact had trouble with her taxes???

    1. Wukchumni

      The river was of denial was deep but you swam it (Janet)
      The future inflation is ours so let the SecTres plan it (Janet)
      So please tell me how you plan to can it (Janet)
      I’ve one thing to say and that’s
      Dammit, Janet, I don’t envy you

      1. fresno dan

        Because I didn’t get an answer, I decided to google it. I don’t know how good google tax advice is, but here is what google says:
        Royalties. Royalties from copyrights, patents, and oil, gas and mineral properties are taxable as ordinary income. You generally report royalties in Part I of Schedule E (Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR), Supplemental Income and Loss.Nov 10, 2022
        Are book royalties reported on Schedule C?
        If you are in business as a self-employed artist, author, photographer or inventor, and the royalties relate to a self-created copyright, trademark, or patent, you would report the payments as part of your business income on Schedule C.

        all I can say is I’m glad I don’t get royalties

  27. Bart Hansen

    “Soon there will be more light.”

    Right here smack on the 38th Parallel in Virginia it doesn’t get lighter in the mornings until around the 9th or 10th of January. I think it has to do with the tilt of the earth and maybe one other reason that escapes me.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      its that Vortex of Evil over there on the Potomac, obviously.
      spewing that Tolkienesque Darkness thats like a physical thing(see: Ungoliant/Shelob).

    2. LifelongLib

      There are sunrise and sunset tables online if you’re interested. Even though the winter solstice has the shortest period of daylight overall, the latest sunrise and earliest sunset fall on different dates. Something with the Earth’s orbit around the sun?

  28. timbers

    Lots of video of Ukraine plastering US and Western military equipment and uniforms we gave them with symbols of German WW2 leadership and performing salutes to the top German leader of that Era. Go watch it quick it might be taken down as he clearly uses many times the forbidden word and social media deletes those who speak the truth about who the US government is supporting in Ukraine.

  29. All Ice

    In my view, the war in Ukraine is done. The Zelensky regime is finished militarily and US military and NATO are unable/unwilling to meet Z’s demands for more, more, more. Also Z appears to be finished politically: suddenly US/NATO press is quoting the top Ukr General; Z can’t get to talk at FIFA; and he is being thrown under the bus for an assassination plot.

    Like at the end of WW2 the issue now is how to end it. Unlike in WW2 all sides have nukes, so that is not an option. Perhaps US/NATO thinks Putin will talk to a different Ukr leader that they install, a general with a portrait of Stefan Bandera in his office. I am dubious.

    1. Kouros

      Is not over until is over. Even in the last day of ww1 or Korean war or whatever, thousands have died.

  30. Gulag

    In my opinion the recent Therborn article “The World and the Left,” in the New Left Review makes for largely disturbing reading, particularly in the geographical area he terms the Global North.

    A few selective quotes:

    “What are the prospects for the 21st century working class and the ideas of the left? Nearly a quarter century ago (2000) Perry Anderson concluded that the necessary starting point for a realistic left was a “lucid registration of historical defeat.” He by no means considered this final.” At the time I considered Anderson’s essay a model of integrity and steadfastness. I still do.” (pg.26)

    “The militants of 68 saw the world through the lens of revolution and understood their setback as a failure to make a revolution for which an insurrectionary party was required. The model was inherited from the Leninist tradition with its competing interpretations Maoist, Trotskyist, several varieties of Eurocommunist and even some fledging attempts at urban guerrilla warfare.” (pg. 31)

    “The outlook for the 21st century left is more modest.” Therborn then approvingly quotes Igleslias “…a socialist strategy poses immense problems in the practical political sense…we are not proposing a strategy for a transition to socialism, but we are more modest and adopting a neo-Keynesian approach.” (pg. 49)

    “Social Democratic parties made a remarkable accommodation to neo-liberalism when they returned to office in the late 1990s and and early 2000s’ (pg.51)

    Therborn then warns that ” Western social democracy is not immune to marginalization or even outright extinction. (pg. 52)

    “Furthermore the new left’s reconfiguration of the North American political landscape looks more tenuous than that precipitated by the rise of popular nationalism and xenophobia.” (pg. 55)

    “If the Marxian approach to the understanding of class and capitalism has not yet been surpassed it remains the case that the 21st century has no dialectical direction–not even one of elementary human development: in the 2010s, the life expectancy growth trend was broken in the US and UK and in 2020 and 2021the UN human development index fell below its level of 2017.” (pg. 71)

    “In the Global North the parameters of electoral politics have shifted to the detriment of the left with the capture of the populist classes by a new xenophobic nationalist right.” (pg. 72)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the populist classes

      To me, that makes no sense.

      I do think that the Sanders campaigns of 2016 and 2020 register as a “historical defeat.” But it’s not clear whether this is a defeat for “the left,” or for the peculiar mix of PMC progressivim, entryism, and electoralism that determined the direction of his campaigns.

      The union movement, especially among the younger set, gives me a lot of hope. Somehow, it has not yet been decapitated (unlike Black Lives Matter, which turned out to be easy pickings). However, you go to class war with the working class you have, and identity politics will do the dirty work it is designed to do if there’s any aghastitude about rail workers, say, wearing MAGA hats (and after the long series of Demcrat betrayals, why would they not?)

  31. Karl

    RE: Vaccine booster mandates at Universities are unethical (JME)

    A very strict 4-part ethical standard is proposed for public health mandates, (not just vaccines, it seems to me, e.g. but also mask mandates, which Lambert seems to favor). I’m not sure I agree with #4:

    the level of coercion [must be] proportionate…. Proportionality is a key principle in public health ethics.1 To be proportionate, a policy must be expected to produce public health benefits that outweigh relevant harms, including harms related to coercion, undue pressure, loss of employment and education and other forms of liberty restriction. Williams8 has argued that COVID-19 vaccine mandates may be justified for older but not younger people, among whom such policies are not proportionate given a lack of clarity that benefits outweigh harms.

    How does one assess these “harms” from coercion? These conditions seem to place a very high burden on public health authorities with respect to both vaccines and NPI’s. I’m not sure I’m willing to give the Libertarian “I’m damaged by your coercion!” an “ethical” (ideological?) veto over public health mandates.

    Still the JME is very interesting as a risk assessment. And, I probably agree with the conclusion to remove vaccine booster mandates as they apply to University students, given what we know NOW. But I don’t need to assess the “costs of coercion”–assuming that’s possible– to reach that conclusion. We can reach that conclusion, 3 years into this pandemic, because we have so much more data on the virus now, particularly as regards transmission, for the dominant strains circulating at this time and the approved vaccines (which don’t reduce transmissability that much).

    But when uncertainties to public health are very large (e.g. in the early stages) I prefer to weight the risks more for public safety rather than for freedom.

    The next very virulent strain (if it comes) may require a wholesale re-imposition of mandates for the sake of public safety, and the need to make crucial decisions quickly in the absence of good information. What to do, when the public is “done with mandates already?” I’m glad I’m not the one making those decisions.

  32. Karl

    RE: Policy Making in a Pandemic (Stephanie Kelton)

    I have a high regard for Kelton. She points out that the most effective countercyclical stabilizers during the 2008-10 crisis were not the stimulus spending of the ARRA (which was weak) but the automatic ones (presumably unemployment compensation, social security and medicare/medicaid spending). She proposes more automatic stabilizers would be beneficial, but refrains from proposing any new ones.

    This might be “let’s assume we have a can opener” thinking in the realm of domestic safety net spending.

    But thinking about it some more, it does seem as though finding new wars to justify very high and increasing military budgets is a pretty darned “automatic” stabilizer. The $870 Billion per year we spend nowadays, year in and year out, is double the rate of spending for the much touted 2009 ARRA, which phased out after two years. We hear no concerns about inflation or “crowding out” when these defense budgets get passed.

    But try to get other stabilizers like a boost to the child tax credit or infrastructure spending–“We can’t do that–we might trigger inflation!”

  33. Stephen

    This Douglas MacGregor interview with Judge Napolitana just appeared.

    Seems that Colonel MacGregor will also have an article in American Conservative tomorrow.

    He seems very worried that Poland is eager for a war with Russia and that the White House believes its own propaganda that the Russian military is incompetent. Setting up a toxic combination when / if it launches and succeeds in its offensive. Will they intervene on the ground, or by air? Colonel MacGregor’s fears are valid. Irrational as intervention would appear to anyone who is following reality. Speculates by comparing the situation with LBJ’s escalation in Vietnam when Westmoreland told him what was needed to win. Makes the very sensible point that Russia is not North Vietnam and has far more power. Of course, Vietnam was a defeat too. Ultimately.

    Meanwhile, Putin and Shoigu seem super busy with meetings in Belarus and then with the entire Russian military command, it seems. Something might well be brewing.

    1. lambert strether

      I don’t think that “competent” is fine-grained enough. The Russian Armed Forces are clearly competent enough to claw back a portion of Ukraine the approximate size of the UK, and to collapse Ukraine’s power grid, all with a force that until recently had a weird command structure including Chechens, Wagners, and militias, and was undermanned, too.

      That’s not the same as deploying a force of some 100,000s, presumably in some Operation Bagration-style-of-thing. We’ll have to see about that.

      1. Stephen

        I doubt that any Russian offensive will be an Operation Bagration either. All the evidence suggests that they (sensibly) want economy of effort and to incur limited Russian casualties. An Operation Bagration would be very expensive of Russian life. And fighting where they currently are in eastern Ukraine clearly simplifies their own rail based logistics. Advancing a long way quickly from Belarus (for example) would lead to painful logistics and the risk of being over extended. There is a good case for the “why rush?” hypothesis.

        A possible question though is whether the Ukrainian military has degraded to the extent that it is close enough to collapse that defence lines start to falter more systematically and the Russians then push forwards in the wake of that. Possibly akin in some ways to the Allied Offensive of the 100 Days in 1918. But that was also very costly in terms of casualties so only likely if the Ukrainian Army is seriously collapsing and retreating. The 100 Days though did lead to what was effectively surrender even though no Allied soldier had set foot on German territory.

        Ukrainian military collapse of that form would presumably invoke precisely the type of questions over a potential US / Polish intervention that Colonel MacGregor seems concerned about. Would the US let Ukraine sue for an armistice or would it intervene? Would Poland intervene? One seriously does wonder if rationality would win out.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I doubt that any Russian offensive will be an Operation Bagration either.

          That’s true; I was thinking more of arrows on the map :-) and encirclements (say, of the Ukrainian army at the front, with a downward thrust west of the Dnieper from Belarus) rather than mass movements of soldiers and tanks.

          That said, what are Russian troop numbers? 700,000? That’s a lot. They must want to use them for something other than guard duty. What what? Where? How?

          1. Stephen

            I totally agree, Lambert, and your original comment makes sense. They clearly have not mobilised that many troops just to sit around.

            Exactly the type of debate we are seeing on this site and in various other places must have been taking place within the Russian command too; albeit with a far more serious consequence.

            Figuring out the right type of offensive to succeed whilst not suffering horrendous losses and also guarding against contingencies if Poland (for example) does choose to be stupid must be weighing heavily on all their minds. It cannot be easy.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > I totally agree, Lambert, and your original comment makes sense.

              Well, just because something makes sense doesn’t make it right. Your comment was on point; I didn’t make myself clear.

Comments are closed.