The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 8, 2021

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 8, 2021

by Tony Wikrent

This is the best time all year to see the ringed magnificence of Saturn

[Syfy Wire, via The Big Picture 8-5-2021]

Saturn takes 29 years to orbit the Sun once. Earth is closer to the Sun and moves much more rapidly, completing an orbit in one year. If Saturn didn’t move then opposition would occur once every Earth year. But Saturn does orbit around the Sun, in the same direction as Earth does, so we have to spend a little bit of extra time catching up to it.

The pandemic

Vaccine Mandates Are as American as Apple Pie

[Portside, via Naked Capitalism 8-1-2021]


Opinion: Require the vaccine. It’s time to stop coddling the reckless.

Ruth Marcus, WaPo, via Naked Capitalism 8-2-2021]


“The C.D.C. Needs to Stop Confusing the Public”

Zeynep Tufecki [New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-4-2021]


GRAPH: Who’s vaccinated and who’s not

[The Big Picture 8-1-2021]


[Twitter, via DailyPoster 8-4-2021]


“Congress Is Slashing a $30 Billion Plan to Fight the Next Pandemic”

[The Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-3-21]

“Biden proposed $30 billion to address the [the country’s pandemic-preparedness budget], which advocates say could permanently mitigate the risks of future outbreaks. The investment would replenish medical stockpiles, proactively develop vaccines for major types of viruses, and ensure that the United States has a permanent production base of face masks and respirators. In effect, it would amount to an Apollo program–like push to guarantee that a global pandemic could never shut down the country again. Yet those funds have been slashed in the current negotiations over the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package as part of a push to slim it down, according to a source familiar with the situation. (I agreed not to name this person because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.) While the exact amount is still in flux, it is significantly less than requested.”

….Looming over this funding fight is a broader question: What reforms, if any, will the federal government make to its public-health agencies after their significant failures over the past 16 months? After 2,977 people were murdered on September 11, 2001, Congress started a war and revised the country’s approach to policing, surveillance, and national security within six weeks; it opened a new federal agency and commissioned a bipartisan fact-finding panel within 14 months. Although the wisdom of some of those decisions is debatable, COVID-19 has now killed more than 600,000 Americans. The federal government’s failures have been, in some ways, just as stark as 20 years ago: The CDC, for instance, did not know how many people were sick throughout the early months of the pandemic. Yet Congress has demonstrated little haste so far in determining what went wrong and how the country’s public-health institutions can prevent it from happening again.

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Revealed: the true extent of America’s food monopolies, and who pays the price

[Guardian, via The Big Picture 8-1-2021]

A handful of powerful companies control the majority market share of almost 80% of dozens of grocery items bought regularly by ordinary Americans, new analysis reveals. A joint investigation by the Guardian and Food and Water Watch found that consumer choice is largely an illusion – despite supermarket shelves and fridges brimming with different brands.

What’s the true cost of shipping all your junk across the ocean?

[Grist, via Naked Capitalism 8-1-2021]

….a recent report [by] Two environmental groups, Pacific Environment and, worked with prominent maritime researchers to track goods imported by the 15 largest retail giants in the United States. They then quantified the greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants associated with those imports, usually ferried across the oceans on cargo ships running on dirty bunker fuel. In 2019, importing some 3.8 million shipping containers’ worth of cargo generated as much carbon dioxide emissions as three coal-fired power plants. These shipments also produced as much smog-forming nitrous oxide as 27.4 million cars and trucks do in a year, according to the report.

Climate and environmental crises

Beyond human endurance: How climate change is making parts of the world too hot and humid to survive

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 8-2-2021]

Deadly heat waves have swept the globe and will continue to because of climate change. The trends are prompting doomsday questions: Will parts of the world soon become too hot to live in? How will we survive?


Bottled water is 3,500 times worse for the environment than tap water, say scientists

[Euronews, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-2021]


Creating new economic potential – science and technology

For The First Time, Researchers Just Watched How Plants Slurp Up Water

[sciencealert, August 7, 2021]

“To observe water uptake in living plants without damaging them, we have applied a sensitive, laser-based, optical microscopy technique to see water movement inside living roots non-invasively, which has never been done before,” explained Webb.

By detecting how light photons scatter from a narrow laser source, Raman microspectroscopy provides real time, molecular level imaging, under natural conditions, without the need for molecular labeling.


“Electric vehicles: recycled batteries and the search for a circular economy” [Financial Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-2-2021]

“[T]he most glaring problem for electric vehicles [is that w]hile they are ‘zero emission’ when being driven, the mining, manufacturing and disposal process for batteries could become an environmental disaster for the industry as the technology goes mainstream… The metals used in batteries typically originate in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia and Chile, dug out of open-pit mines or evaporated from desert ponds. But [former Tesla engineer JF] Straubel believes there is another “massive, untapped” source: the garages of the average American. He estimates there are about 1bn used batteries in US homes, sitting in old laptops and mobile phones — all containing valuable metals. The process of breaking down these batteries and repurposing them is known as ‘urban mining.’ To do this at scale is a gargantuan task: the amount of battery material in a high-end electric vehicle is roughly 10,000 times that of a smartphone, according to Gene Berdichevsky, chief executive of battery materials start-up Sila Nano. But, he adds, the amount of cobalt used in a car battery is about 30 times less than in a phone battery, per kilowatt hour. ‘So for every 300 smartphones you collect, you have enough cobalt for an EV battery.’”


In the US, Life Cycle Emissions For EVs Are Already 60-68% Lower Than Gasoline, Study Finds

[ars technica, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-5-2021]

“Today in the US market, a medium-sized battery EV already has 60–68 percent lower lifetime carbon emissions than a comparable car with an internal combustion engine. And the gap is only going to increase as we use more renewable electricity. That finding comes from a white paper (.pdf) published by Georg Bieker at the International Council on Clean Transportation. The comprehensive study compares the lifetime carbon emissions, both today and in 2030, of midsized vehicles in Europe, the US, China, and India, across a wide range of powertrain types, including gasoline, diesel, hybrid EVs (HEVs), plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), battery EVs (BEVs), and fuel cell EVs (FCEVs). (The ICCT is the same organization that funded the research into VW Group’s diesel emissions.) The study takes into account the carbon emissions that result from the various fuels (fossil fuels, biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, and e-fuels), as well as the emissions that result from manufacturing and then recycling or disposing of vehicles and their various components. Bieker has also factored in real-world fuel or energy consumption—something that is especially important when it comes to PHEVs, according to the report. Finally, the study accounts for the fact that energy production should become less carbon-intensive over time, based on stated government objectives. According to the study, the life cycle emissions of a BEV driving around in Europe today are 66–69 percent lower than a comparable gasoline-powered car. In the US, that range is 60–68 percent less over its lifetime. In China and India, the magnitude is not as great, but even so, a BEV is still cleaner than a fossil-burner. China is at 37–45 percent fewer emissions for BEVs, and India shows 19–34 percent.”

Restoring balance to the economy

Building Digital Commons — Scott Ferguson interviews Cory Doctorow

[Money on the Left, via Mike Norman Economics 8-7-2021]

Cory Doctorow joins Money on the Left to discuss what Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) means for building digital commons. Award-winning science fiction writer, prolific blogger, and long-time digital activist, Doctorow explains how MMT has shaped his ongoing work in the realms of digital rights management and anti-monopoly politics. He walks us through his important critical genealogy of Intellectual Property law as well as his contribution to the urgent anti-monopoly accord called the “Access to Knowledge Treaty.” Next, we get a quick preview of two new science fiction books he is completing, both of which engage MMT as a central component of their plots. Finally, Doctorow indulges our curiosity about his aesthetic practice of posting sundry pop and other ephemeral imagery to social media…. 

My friend Steven Brust, who’s a Trotskyist fantasy writer, says that the way that you can tell if someone’s on the right or the left is you ask them what’s more important, human rights or property rights. And if they say property rights are a human right, they are on the right. That’s the line on which the right and the left cleave. It is the difference between a leftist and liberal. If property rights are there to accomplish some policy goal, but can be modified or eliminated in realms where they don’t accomplish that goal, then you’re a leftist.

Progressives Run the Table on Regulatory Posts

Robert Kuttner, August 6, 2021 [The American Prospect]


Information Age Dystopia

“Is the Cookie Web Tracker Dying?”

[The Markup, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-2-2021]

“Google, which brought the business model of tracking users for ad targeting to massive scale, has been slower to adopt similar changes. After initially pledging in 2020 to block third-party tracking for users of its Chrome browser by 2022, Google pushed the date for the change back to 2023. For now, however, cookies are still nearly ubiquitous. When The Markup scanned more than 80,000 popular websites using our web privacy inspection tool Blacklight, we found that 87 percent loaded cookies from third parties or from tracking network requests.” • Good round-up.


Behind the Mercenary Spyware Industry

[Slate, via The Big Picture 8-1-2021]

As soon as your phone is infected, the Pegasus operator can see whatever you see. They can see your encrypted chats. They can see the messages you send. They can see the pictures you take of your friends and yourself. They can read your notes to yourself, look at your web browsing. They can even activate the camera and microphone and listen in, from your pocket, to the room that you’re in. It’s incredibly invasive stuff.


How Unemployment Insurance Fraud Exploded During the Pandemic

[ProPublica, via The Big Picture 8-1-2021]

Bots filing bogus applications in bulk, teams of fraudsters in foreign countries making phony claims, online forums peddling how-to advice on identity theft: Inside the infrastructure of perhaps the largest fraud wave in history.


Institutionalists = Obstructionists

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 8-1-2021]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 8-2-2021]


[Twitter, via The DailyPoster 8-4-2021]


Everywhere you look America’s housing crisis is getting worse

[Business Insider, via Naked Capitalism 8-4-2021]


Analysis: Biden is following a script that once doomed Black voters and made the rise of Jim Crow possible

John Blake [CNN, via Naked Capitalism 8-3-2021]

Evoking Jim Crow may cause some people to cringe because the comparison seems overblown. No White vigilantes are gunning down or lynching would-be Black voters. No White mobs are brazenly murdering Black elected officials or launching what’s been described as the nation’s only successful coup — against a Southern city filled with Black leaders. All of this happened during that era.
But there are two lessons today’s Democratic leaders can learn from the mistakes their White counterparts made in the late 19th century:
Economic appeals to White voters driven by racial resentment have limited value. And when you refuse to go all out to protect your most loyal voters, the results can be disastrous.
These aren’t abstract lessons for me. I am a Black voter in Georgia, the epicenter of the new voting rights struggle.
I watched Black voters save Biden’s presidency during his primary run last year. I glowed with pride when he picked Kamala Harris, my classmate at Howard University, to be his vice president. I watched Black voters flood voting precincts in a pandemic and honk their horns in jubilation after they delivered the Oval Office and control of Congress to the Democrats.
What I am seeing now, though, is a rising sense of betrayal among Black voters. Many don’t think Democratic leaders are pushing hard enough on voting rights. More are frustrated by Democratic leaders like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who says he won’t support gutting the filibuster and insists on Republican buy-in to support a new voting rights bill. (He did propose a compromise on voting rights legislation that won the support of voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.)

Nancy Pelosi’s Surprise Flip On Student Debt Cancellation Came After Urging From Billionaire Power Couple

[The Intercept, via DailyPoster 8-8-2021]

“In November, after Biden’s election, and amid increased pressure to cancel student debt, the Swigs quietly circulated a memo among key Capitol Hill figures, making the dubious case that debt cancellation at the executive level is illegal. The argument in the memo gets much of its weight by virtue of the wealthy couple who produced it, as the Swigs are not just major funders of progressive nonprofits, but also have significantly bankrolled Pelosi and her House Democratic caucus.”


We Can’t Reach Him’: Joe Manchin Is Ghosting The West Virginia Union Workers Whose Jobs His Daughter Helped Outsource

[Vanity Fair, via Avedon’s Sideshow 8-7-2021]

She got a $30.8 million golden parachute in a corporate merger. Now, they’re being laid off and the medicines they produced are set to be manufactured overseas. Will anyone step up to save their jobs, and protect America’s drug supply? On July 31, one of America’s largest pharmaceutical-manufacturing plants is scheduled to shut its doors. Set on 22 acres in Morgantown, West Virginia, the plant, built in 1965 by the once-storied American generic-drug company Mylan Laboratories, has made 61 drug products, including a substantial portion of the world’s supply of levothyroxine, a critical thyroid medicine. Its 1,431 highly trained workers—analytical chemists, industrial engineers, and senior janitors among them—are represented by the steelworkers union. All are slated to be laid off by month’s end. The Biden administration has a stated goal of increasing domestic production of pharmaceuticals, and the Morgantown plant is one of a dwindling number of facilities on home soil that produce vital and affordable medicine for the U.S. market.”


The Dark Side

The Big Money Behind the Big Lie

Jane Mayer [NewYorker, via Naked Capitalism 8-3-2021] ???

One of the movement’s leaders is the Heritage Foundation, the prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. It has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (alec)—a corporate-funded nonprofit that generates model laws for state legislators—on ways to impose new voting restrictions. Among those deep in the fight is Leonard Leo, a chairman of the Federalist Society, the legal organization known for its decades-long campaign to fill the courts with conservative judges. In February, 2020, the Judicial Education Project, a group tied to Leo, quietly rebranded itself as the Honest Elections Project, which subsequently filed briefs at the Supreme Court, and in numerous states, opposing mail-in ballots and other reforms that have made it easier for people to vote.

Another newcomer to the cause is the Election Integrity Project California. And a group called FreedomWorks, which once concentrated on opposing government regulation, is now demanding expanded government regulation of voters, with a project called the National Election Protection Initiative.

These disparate nonprofits have one thing in common: they have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Based in Milwaukee, the private, tax-exempt organization has become an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right. With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years. Public records show that, since 2012, the foundation has spent some eighteen million dollars supporting eleven conservative groups involved in election issues.

Jane Mayer: ‘Dark Money’ Is Threatening The Elections Of 2020, 2024 [interview and useful summary of above post]

[NPR, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-2021]

What’s being talked about now and experimented with in Arizona is the idea that the state legislatures themselves would pick the electors.… Now, this is a radical doctrine, but it’s being promoted by lawyers on the right and nonprofit groups that are heavily funded on the right. And it is being truly experimented with in Arizona, where there was a piece of legislation that was a bill proposed to do exactly that — to allow the state legislature in Arizona to overturn a presidential election and decide itself where the electors should cast their ballots and for whom….

I went out to Arizona to take a look at this audit, and what I discovered was it’s not taking place in a vacuum. And it’s actually not just an Arizona thing. It’s being funded by out-of-state interests, deep-pocketed people who are allies of Donald Trump — that’s specifically the audit — and it’s taking place against a backdrop of this spreading belief that voter fraud is rife in America and that elections can’t be trusted. And that is being spread by national groups, some of them quite well-known and established in Republican circles. And so I kept sort of peeling back the onion to try to figure out, where is this coming from? And the picture began to clarify that actually there’s a money stream and an awful lot of it is coming from one single huge foundation in Milwaukee, Wis., which is funding all of these other groups that are pushing the idea that voter fraud is a serious problem in America and that we can’t trust our elections. And that one huge foundation is the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin….

And this is where it gets really radical. Among the directors of the Public Interest Legal Foundation is, for instance, a lawyer named John Eastman who was one of the speakers at Trump’s rally on Jan. 6. And at that rally, he argued that people needed to challenge the election returns and stop the certification of the vote on Jan. 6. As we all know, that just preceded by a couple hours the crowd charging the capital, ransacking it and trying to stop the certification. So you can see the connections between a huge foundation on the right, the Bradley Foundation, which funds the Public Interest Legal Foundation, whose director spoke at the Jan. 6 rally and tried to overturn that election or at least stop it, halt it at that moment. And the money flows from one to the other, and the same characters are involved.


Redistricting in America, Part Three: The Republicans’ Southern Prizes
The GOP gerrymandering possibilities in FL, GA, NC, and TX

[Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, via Naked Capitalism 8-7-2021]

— Democrats tried but failed to get a seat at the redistricting table in four large Southern states in the 2018 and 2020 cycles: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

— The consequences for redistricting are vitally important. It’s easy to imagine Republicans squeezing a half-dozen extra seats out of just these four states in 2022, and that may be just a floor on their potential gains.

— However, Republicans could also overreach, and court battles appear likely in all of these states.


The MyPillow Guy Really Could Destroy Democracy

[The Atlantic, via The Big Picture 8-1-2021]

In the time I spent with Mike Lindell, I came to learn that he is affable, devout, philanthropic—and a clear threat to the nation.


I’m a Parkland Shooting Survivor. QAnon Convinced My Dad It Was All a Hoax.

[Vice, via The Big Picture 8-1-2021]

He was part of the final graduating class of survivors of the 2018 shooting, and they all had just marked the third anniversary of the day 17 people were killed, nine of whom were Bill’s classmates.But Bill also had to deal with his father’s daily accusations that the shooting was a hoax and that the shooter, Bill, and all his classmates were paid pawns in a grand conspiracy orchestrated by some shadowy force. “I don’t know how to help someone that far gone.”



Open Thread


The New Age Of Vertical Integration


  1. Plague Species

    Extending the eviction moratorium isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans considering the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon and may in fact get much worse depending on the next variants to evolve due to the impressive and largely unabated velocity of transmission of the virus and the effect of that velocity of transmission in creating new variants that escape the efficacy of any current vaccine formulations that were never tested and developed against such variants..

    Vaccine Efficacy

    A collaborative effective global response will require a massive downward redistribution of wealth and this is precisely why there will not be an effective collaborative global response to this pandemic. This pandemic will always be a pandemic as a result. It won’t become endemic as others have surmized. It will remain a pandemic until human is no more. The virus will continue to rage mostly unchecked because the greedy avaricious wealthy elite refuse to part with their wealth and they will annihilate the planet and all life on it if you attempt to extract that wealth by force.

    I do believe there are those in the various commentaries at various venues who believe they could manage a collapse of America, for example, to their advantage or a collapse of any leading country. They are insane fools to think this. This is a maxim you can live by. It never goes the way you think it will go or how you planned it to go. Never. There are always too many variables you simply cannot control especially when you are not even in a position to control any of the known variables and in particular the most important and influential variables.

    This pandemic is going to break nations and quite literally destroy other nations entirely in the undeveloped and developing worlds for example. Globalization will be no more. Talk about a Shit Show, the show that’s about to unfold and actually is starting to unfold now is going to be a world-shattering show like no other.

  2. Plague Species

    As soon as your phone is infected, the Pegasus operator can see whatever you see. They can see your encrypted chats. They can see the messages you send. They can see the pictures you take of your friends and yourself. They can read your notes to yourself, look at your web browsing. They can even activate the camera and microphone and listen in, from your pocket, to the room that you’re in. It’s incredibly invasive stuff.

    I was told by someone here they would only use this on very important people so, if so, what’s the point of even being concerned about it if you’re just an Ordinary Joe? VIPs are already compromised so why should we be concerned, at least according to this person’s logic who apparently knows how and when and on whom Pegasus is used.

  3. Ché Pasa

    I remember well when I went planet hunting with my small refractor telescope after doing the disappointing Halley’s Comet (when was that? ’86? I think so.) Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus. I naked-eye spotted Mercury but couldn’t get it in the telescope; too close to the horizon.

    Saturn was quite small but remarkably detailed. It was yellowish, solid, no stripes, but the rings were sharp and there was a black division near the middle. The planet and rings were tilted toward the left. No moons.

    Jupiter was distinctly striped, white, brown and gray. It was about the same size in the telescope as Saturn and its rings combined. Three moons, two on one side, one on the other.

    When I first spotted Mars in the telescope, I was surprised. At the time, published Mars images were almost all oversaturated red, and that’s not what I saw. It was pale reddish tan, not red at all. There were dark splotches on the surface, some of which I recognized from maps (Syrtis Major for ex.) At the very limit of visibility, it appeared there were in fact linear markings on the surface connecting one dark region with another. I could see a white polar cap. There may have been white clouds in the sky of Mars, but it wasn’t clear that’s what they were. I’ve been to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff and seen Percival Lowell’s telescope — huge compared to the one I was using — and I’ve seen his drawings of the surface of Mars, some of which are much more detailed than what you usually see published. What I saw in my little refractor telescope was very similar — though much less detailed — to what Lowell saw in his big telescope.

    I have a much larger Maskutov telescope now. I haven’t seen a single planet with it. The automatic gizmos only seem to find globular clusters and galaxies. And all those colors you see in published images of the Orion Nebula? Nah. It’s green to the eye.

  4. bruce wilder

    Zeynep Tufecki “is a contributing Opinion writer” testifies the New York Times in a self-referential confirmation of its own authority to annoint, I guess. The essay by the computer programmer turned sociologist is well-written and adopts a tone sympathetic to the C.D.C., as if the various Federal institutions of public health can be jollied to better performance by gentle, sympathetic criticism from a sociologist and Twitter warrior. Can they? I seriously doubt it.

    I am not paying the New York Times a damn cent for their dreck, even when I want to read something, so I used Google to find a way around the paywall, in order to read what Zeynep Tufecki had to say. Some others, I discovered along the way, endorsed her essay, as something that needed to be said.

    I admire Zeynep Tufecki’s writing for both the smooth contours of her rhetoric and for her essential grasp of what it means to be reasonable, in parsing what the available evidence tells us about the course of the pandemic and the policy response. She does this without a claim to credentials of medical expertise, and in my limited reading of her — mostly Twitter threads linked from NC I think — she does not often stumble or overreach into hyperbole or let fealty to the Blue Tribe make her a fool.

    The point she is making, in the guise of cheerleading for better performance, is that the C.D.C. has contributed mightily to disinformation, fear uncertainty and doubt (fud), a disappointing program for distributing vaccines, and a narrative that blames the unvaccinated and exonerates the vaccinated as virtuous in ways that worsen the red v blue division. She does take a small, ritual kick at Trump as somehow undermining the C.D.C. in the past, but the behavior she focuses on has been driven by the Biden Administration.

    I wonder what she hopes for, from her essay. She is not trying to persuade red America, not from the pages of the New York Times, which regards her expertise as deriving from writing opinion for the New York Times. She seems unlikely to school Fauci or Walensky. I appreciate her powers of reason, but what she is telling me is that the institutions that ought to be relentlessly driving rapid, foresighted monitoring and research and evaluation of evidence in support of advising the public and public authority are failing miserably at that job. Have in fact done the opposite.

    I stayed out of The Covid Idiot Shuffle for the simple reason that I do not know what is true and cannot argue it with any conviction and do not hope to find out and Zeynep Tufecki has explained why I cannot hope to sort what is happening in the real time available to me. It is sad and pathetic.

    It is nothing new. The theme of this blog for a long time has been that you are on your own in a world made (more) hostile by the breakdown and loss of legitimacy of social and political institutions and the elites in charge of them.

  5. Here is the survival rate for those who have gotten Covid by age according to the CDC:
    (Note some people like to cherry pick out people with low-to-no symptomatic infections in order to inflate the mortality rate).
    0-19 Years 99.997%
    20-49 Years 99.98%
    50-69 Years 99.5%
    70+ 94.6%

    The chance of dying from getting Covid if you are 20-49 years of age is 0.02%.

    As NR posted the Covid vaccines prevent 1 out of 100 people getting them from catching Covid. The study done by those selling the vaccines found 1.2% had a severe adverse event requiring medical attention, and 75% received sustained headaches, muscle or join pain 7 days after the injection. These studies did not test for any negative health effects of the experimental vaccines.

    A few known negative effects include
    10% get damage lymph nodes.
    Blood clots
    Heart inflammation and disease
    Neurological disease
    Brain swelling

  6. Jeff Wegerson

    @bw Good review of Zeynep Tufecki. It matches my own perspectives of her reporting. She was one of a few trusted go tos during the pandemic. Blue Tribe works as a short hand rough placement. Red Tribe similarly might place Jon Stokes who was another pandemic resource. That sincere concerns could show through the various lens, including our own tribal lens’, was an encouragement in that time.


    I like that Cory Doctorow has stuck so long with Electronic Frontier Foundation. That is important work and I trust his directions.

    Then when I saw he was writing an SF work that featured MMT I thought cool. But alas I am jaded by Ian’s sophisticated political (spiritual) economies that subsume MMT. So as I read Doctorow’s plot descriptions I was disappointed at how shallow his approach seemed. I’m glad that he sees how “money” itself is not an obstacle and that inflation need not be that hard to manage. But I don’t see him yet able to weave into his story even the further simple complexities like self sufficiencies let alone the more involved complexities like regenerating mindsets that maintain multi generational management of prosperous societies, such as those Ian so often presents here.

  7. Hugh

    The CDC has done a terrible job of explaining the pandemic. It didn’t help that Trump suppressed and sabotaged it, or that there has been a complete absence of a national response. But the CDC’s problems run much deeper. It needed to be much clearer and more timely about the virus, how it was transmitted, public health measures to control it, and vaccines, what they could and could not do. It also needed to explain the changing nature of the pandemic and how vaccines affected who got sick and how sick they got. I have also gone through the CDC site and accessing its data is a horror show.

    Until the arrival of the vaccines, covid was hospitalizing and killing older Americans. With the vaccines and with a majority of older Americans vaccinated, there has been a shift to younger, unvaccinated Americans ending up hospitalized and dying from covid. But easily quantifying this is almost impossible because of the really $hitty way the CDC stores and presents its data. What is especially frustrating is that there is nothing inherently difficult about organizing and making this data accessible and searchable. They just don’t do it.

  8. Plague Species

    One of our neighbors is a statistician with the CDC, has been for a long time, and I have never seen he or his wife in a mask. He gets to work from home though like so many useless Non-Essentials. Big Christians, fyi.

    We saw them yesterday morning getting in their big environmentally-friendly diesel Ford Truck. We said hello as we passed. We know what they think of us. And we don’t care. We know what we think of them.

    On their way to church unmasked. A Super Spreader event amidst the latest surge. We know many more who work at the CDC. Without fail, they are egregious violators and don’t seem to take the pandemic seriously in their personal lives when in fact it should be the exact opposite. They should be the most vigilant and they should be leading by example in their various communities.

    That’s the latest report from an avowed class traitor on the precipice of homelessness.

  9. Hugh

    The Summary for Policymakers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out. Good news!

    “In 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least 2 million years (high confidence), and concentrations of CH4 and N2O were higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years (very high confidence).”


    “Global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over at least the last 2000 years (high confidence).”


    “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened [since the previous report in 2013].

    See it’s all good.

  10. Chicago Clubs

    “I wonder what she hopes for, from her essay.”

    Continued employment. I’ll never forget her moronic takes from the 2016 election. She’s a vapid regurgitator with nothing to offer beyond “smooth rhetoric,” as you call it.

  11. js

    Zeynep Tufecki is great. Oh I probably wouldn’t agree with her on foreign policy, but that hasn’t been her focus. I don’t know why anyone would expect her to do much but try to parse information from the CDC and studies, as she has straight out said, she’s a sociologist not a scientist. And what she is actually doing with her writings on covid is mostly neither sociology (even if it’s informed by it) or science, but JOURNALISM. Things are so bad in journalism that sociologists are our new journalist? Yea maybe.

    But I’d take her any day over the mumbling confusion of the CDC and the outright hysteria and conspiracy of the critiques. I mean crazy on all sides.

  12. someofparts

    Zeynep Tufecki is on substack. You don’t have to put up with the NYT to read her stuff.

  13. jessica

    Dr. Eric Topol raised some obvious points in a Guardian article today:

    The mission of the CDC to prevent such illness, and the first step is to collect the relevant data.

    It would be very simple to know the vaccination status of every American with a breakthrough infection admitted to the hospital with Covid-19, along with key demographics such as age, time from vaccination, which vaccine, and co-existing medical conditions.

    The PCR diagnostic test for each patient has an accompanying cycle threshold (Ct) value, which is an indicator of viral load, and would be important to track.

    Moreover, the sample of the virus could undergo genomic sequencing to determine whether there has been further evolution of the virus and blood samples for neutralizing antibody levels that could be obtained in as many patients as possible. Contact tracing of these individuals would help determine the true rate of transmission from other vaccines, something that is pure conjecture.

    Such systematic collection of data would be the foundation for understanding who is at risk for breakthrough infections, determining the current level of effectiveness of vaccines and whether, when, and in whom, booster shots should be recommended.

    It is remarkable that none of this is getting done for hospitalized patients, who represent an undetermined fraction of the people who are getting quite ill, some requiring monoclonal antibody infusions to pre-empt getting admitted.

  14. Plague Species

    Tufecki has the Twitter Check. There is nothing to be gained by reading people who have the Twitter Check except the management of your perceptions.

    Spot on, jessica, all of that should be done and isn’t being done. It’s more than criminal negligence, it’s murder at this point.

    Here’s Reverend Al arriving in Martha’s Vineyard for Obama’s Super Spreader Bash. The Rev rides, or I should say flies, in style — private jet. Nice. Meanwhile, blacks as much as whites are refusing to vaccinate proving deplorable transcends the color of one’s skin. My wife’s black assistant, who she loves by the way, refuses to be vaccinated, despite my wife’s pleas, and it’s because she’s lazy and ignorant. It’s the same behavior that causes her to litter. She called in sick today — she is experiencing COVFEFE-45 symptoms. No sense of communal responsibility. No sense of caring for your surroundings and those around you. Poor doesn’t have to be undignified and careless and destructive.

  15. js

    “It would be very simple to know the vaccination status of every American with a breakthrough infection admitted to the hospital with Covid-19, along with key demographics such as age, time from vaccination, which vaccine, and co-existing medical conditions.”

    More like: It may be possible to have an aggregate level “close enough” level of accuracy on the the vaccination status of various groups.

    I mean I know people who have gotten 2 shots and it shows only 1. So assuming the data on just vaccinations alone, never mind breakthroughs, is all *that* accurate on the individual level. No, but maybe it’s not that bad as to affect aggregate calculations.

  16. KT Chong

    1. I personally prioritize economic issues and foreign policies over social issues.

    2. I am very progressive on economic issues and foreign policies, i.e., I support single-payer universal healthcare, tuition-free public colleges and universities, raising taxes on corporations and the rich, ending forever wars and endless interventions, etc., and even universal “subsidized” incomes, (i.e., a modified version of universal income: the government makes up the difference between what a private company pays and the living wage, and then taxes companies that abuse the system and employ too many people who are earning below living wages.) I actually consider myself to be a socialist.

    3. However, I am fairly conservative on social issues, i.e., I am AGAINST LGBTQ+ especially on the “Q” and “+”. I am AGAINST immigration reform that would reward illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship. I am AGAINST (or, at the least, do NOT support) teaching the so-called “critical race theory” in school, (I know what it is.) etc., I am especially against the left’s recent bullying tactics to support trans-whatever, like allowing trans-woman to unfairly compete in women sports and all the recent talks of how “if a straight man refuses to date a trans woman, then he is a bigot.” I’ve seen enough to now realize that this whole LGBTQ+ thing is actually a slippery slope.

    4. With all that being said: ultimately, social issues are NOT my priorities. I would sacrifice on social issues for advancements on economic and foreign issues. I would support and vote for a candidate who is progressive on BOTH economic and social issues, even though I disagree with her on social issues.

    5. HOWEVER, so far Democrats — and even the so-called “progressives” — have NEVER delivered on economic issues and foreign politics.

    6. Which means, in truth Democrats really have nothing to offer to me. I voted for Democrats for economic issues and foreign politics, but what I actually got from Democrats are their relentless pursuit of social justice and woke issues.

    7. Which means, there is really no reason for me to continue to vote for Democrats. If BOTH Democrats and Republicans cannot offer me what I want on economic issues and foreign policies, I might as well just vote for Republicans, who at least are closer to my positions on social and immigration issues.

    … here comes the 2012 midterm.

  17. js

    Tell me how do Republicans actually govern on immigration any different than Democrats? But they make a lot of noise? Well yes, but governance.

  18. Hugh

    The Democrats govern badly, and the Republicans don’t govern at all. It’s our standard Hobbesian choice. If guaranteeing each other the basics for a full and meaningful life isn’t a social, and economic, issue, I don’t know what is.

  19. Ché Pasa

    It always amuses me that inevitably online “progressives”, disappointed (alas betrayed) by Democrats always, always, always default to voting for Republicans… because what other choice is there? Right? At least with Republicans you know you’re getting a shit sandwich and thank God!!! they aren’t “Woke” — the absolute worstest political thing ever!

    Of course it’s obvious what’s going on with these kinds of posts. “Life long Democrat here! No more! I’m voting for Republicans, straight down the line, from now on! (Some Democrat — any Democrat — all Democrats) betrayed me!” These are Republican true believers most of whom never voted for a Democrat in their lives and never would. Their mission is to destroy, eliminate, or make toxic all Democrats forever and support and defend Republicans to whatever bitter end comes.

    It’s pure partisan politics and marketing. How to dissuade and peel off Democratic voters? “I’m a freaking Socialist! But I will always vote for Republicans from now on!”

    If you’re a Socialist, really, you may not vote for Democrats, but you’re not going to vote for Republicans, ever. You will point out that Republicans have fully descended into fascism, the complete antithesis of Socialism, and you will oppose them with every fiber of your being.

    Otherwise, you’re just blowing smoke, pretending. Bullshitting.

  20. js

    Yes it kind of makes more sense if one is disgusted with Dems and don’t think they can ever field a good candidate (not true, but let’s face it a fair amount of the candidates are not good) to either not vote for candidates, not voting is afterall the most popular position. Although I’d recommend still voting on ballot measures if one has them, that’s issue voting, that’s not personality or party voting. Or to be like: “screw it, I’m voting straight Green ticket (or other left party as applicable) from now on, they’ll never win anything but I have registered my objection”. Because even if a Republican vote “sends a message” as well, noone takes from a Republican vote that what one wanted is more progressive economic policy. Noone. They are like: amp up the tax cuts, culture wars from the right, QAnon, and voter suppression, or whatever is working for them now, and it sure as heck isn’t progressive economic policy because where have we seen any from Republicans?

    Of course what many progressives do is go all in to try to elect a more progressive candidate in the primary, where sometimes, but not always, one might be had. Whether this requires registering as a Dem in a Dem primary, depends entirely on the state. If you think it’s possible to get economically progressive candidates by pushing them in Republican primaries, one could try that too, if one can get any to run. Which party is easier to take over?

  21. different clue

    Here is a speech about the power-possibilities of strategic and tactical voting, and of being registered and staying registered, while spending a long time not actually voting, so as to get the enemy to lower its guard about your presence and patient watchfulness and readiness to exploit genuine vote-casting opportunities.

    Just as every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat, every vote is a bullet on the field of electoral combat. If voting were to be seen as a tool of political extermination against the enemy, then progressives and even pwogwessives might conquer some beachheads in the enemy political system, and might even break out of them.

    The speech is by Malcolm X and is called The Ballot or The Bullet.

  22. Ché Pasa

    I want to thank dc for posting a link to the Malcolm X speech from April 1964. It was an interesting time, not long after the assassination of President Kennedy, and to say that “things were in flux” is putting it mildly. For the most part, I agree with Malcolm’s criticisms of the Democratic majority in Congress and of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

    Notoriously, there was little movement on civil rights during the Kennedy administration — something Malcolm is very aware of. For the remainder of 1964, there would be little movement in Congress, though Johnson was pushing for action.

    Then in November of 1964, the elections brought on a transformation; a stunning landslide victory for President Johnson, an overwhelming congressional majority for Democrats, and suddenly the long-delayed or watered down civil rights and social programs were remade into the Great Society, voted on, passed, signed and implemented, much to the chagrin of Republicans.

    Voting for Republicans to “discipline” Democrats in that election would have prevented passage of those civil rights and social programs — probably permanently. It would not, however, have prevented the expansion of the Vietnam War. In other words, “strategic voting” can easily backfire and provide you with exactly what you say you don’t want.

    Republicans have acted and fought against the civil rights and social programs of the Great Society since their passage, as they are doing today. We can argue the merits, but as a rule and as a whole the Rs have never favored those programs and expansion of rights and have done whatever they can get away with to undermine, sabotage and overturn them, sometimes with great success.

    Voting for Rs means you’re voting for what they do, not for making Democrats “better” or more to your liking — or even to destroy them. Voting to put Rs in office means you’re intending to put Rs in office to do what they do. Not “disciplining” Ds.

    You may not vote for the D candidates, and you may indeed find them and the whole party deplorable, but voting for Rs doesn’t fix it.

    If you were voting for Rs in 1964, you were trying to put Rs in office to prevent, arguably forever, what Ds were able to accomplish (with some R support to be sure) in 1965 and later.

    The idea that voting for Rs would have some positive effect on Ds is not borne out by history, is it?

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