2:00PM Water Cooler 6/9/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this too will be a short Water Cooler, since I have a second post to write. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

The Powerful Woodpecker (mostly calls, but occasionally exerting its power).

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#COVID19

At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Vaccination by region:

Up and down, up and down….

Case count by United States region:

I don’t like the way the curve is starting to flatten out; I added an anti-triumphalist black line to show where we are now, as opposed to where we were when th pandemic was first accelerating, in New York.

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Continued good news.

Test positivity:

Uptick in the South.

Hospitalization (CDC):

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

Continued good news

Covid cases worldwide:

Politics

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2021/01/us-capitol-riot-police-investigation

Biden Administration

Harris (1): Ow! My eyes!

If I were so inclined, as I no longer am, I could think of a number of ways to weaponize this, starting with the idea that perhaps depicting a powerful [x] Black [x] woman as a cookie isn’t exactly on-brand for liberal Democrats. Granted, the cookies were a gift to Harris from a small, Black-owned business and she then had them distributed to the press, but I have to ask: Which staffer thought this was a good idea? Did Symone Sanders think so?

Harris (2): “Harris invites every female senator to dinner next week” [The Hill]. “Vice President Harris has invited every female senator to dinner at her residence at the Naval Observatory next week, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday. The dinner will pick up on a tradition that was started by former Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). The dinners were hosted monthly and even moved to the White House on an occasion in 2013 when then-President Obama hosted the event. However, the dinners have dropped off in recent years. Mikulski retired in 2017 after five terms in the Senate….. The dinner will be a rare bipartisan event in Washington at a time of partisan tensions. The group of 24 female senators is made up of 16 Democrats and eight Republicans.”

Harris (3):

Well, so much for the Latinx vote in 2022! Speaking of which–

“Biden DOJ will defend excluding Puerto Ricans from disability payments” [The Hill]. “President Biden on Monday announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will continue to defend a law that excludes Puerto Ricans from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, while calling on Congress to extend eligibility to the U.S. territory’s residents. Biden said the Justice Department will be adhering to its practice of defending the constitutionality of federal law in the legal challenge against a provision in the Social Security Act that excludes Puerto Rico residents from the program, which provides income for low-income citizens with disabilities. ‘This provision is inconsistent with my Administration’s policies and values,’ Biden said in a statement. ‘However, the Department of Justice has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of federal statutes, regardless of policy preferences. This practice is critical to the Department’s mission of preserving the rule of law. Consistent with this important practice, the Department is defending the constitutionality of the Social Security Act provision in this case.”

“Biden’s Justice Department moves to defend Trump in defamation suit from accuser E. Jean Carroll” [NBC]. “The Justice Department argued in a brief filed Monday in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City that it should represent Trump, as nearly everything he said and did as president was a matter of government action. ‘Speaking to the public and the press on matters of public concern is undoubtedly part of an elected official’s job,’ the brief states. ‘Courts have thus consistently and repeatedly held that allegedly defamatory statements made in that context are within the scope of elected officials’ employment — including when the statements were prompted by press inquiries about the official’s private life.’ The Justice Department lawyers wrote that Trump was ‘crude and disrespectful’ in questioning Carroll’s credibility and that comments attacking her appearance, impugning her motives and implying that she had made false accusations ‘were without question unnecessary and inappropriate.’ But, they said, they ‘all pertained to the denial of wrongdoing.'”

Election Legitimacy

“”Experts Call It A ‘Clown Show’ But Arizona ‘Audit’ Is A Disinformation Blueprint” [NPR]. “Vote counters used conveyer wheels to tally ballots, often having to grab the wheel to stop it from moving too quickly past them. Other volunteers did data entry into a spreadsheet with no quality-control checks in place to make sure they entered it correctly. Observers from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office have documented a series of ‘problematic practices, changing policies, and security threats that have plagued this exercise from the start.’ In short, it has been an unreliable mess. And Morrell says she’s sure whatever count the ‘auditors’ come up with won’t match the official tally. But by calling it an audit, the process gains credibility in the eyes of people who don’t know better, says Francesca Tripodi, an information studies professor at the University of North Carolina. The title itself is a misinformation tactic.”

Democrats en deshabille

“New Democratic focus groups find many voters aren’t sure what the party stands for” [NBC]. “New focus groups conducted by a prominent Democratic pollster warn that many voters “have trouble describing a clear positive vision of what the Democratic Party stands for.’ The study of swing voters and liberal “surge” voters in competitive districts, led by Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners and requested by the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC, indicated that the party needs to achieve more legislative victories or it could lose key voters in the midterm elections next year. ‘Voters are not hearing enough about what Democrats have accomplished, what they are fighting to accomplish, and how they are standing up for voters’ values and priorities,’ read a Lake Research strategy memo by Celinda Lake, David Mermin and Emily Garner, summing up their findings. ‘Without [former President Donald] Trump on the ballot as a clear villain or stronger definition as a party, Democrats are at risk of losing some of these new voters in 2022,’ the memo continued… The Lake Research study said there was substantial overlap between swing voters, who oscillate between parties, and Democratic surge voters, who need some extra motivation to turn out. In particular, the memo found they are drawn to a message of ‘equity’ — both economic and racial.”

Republican Funhouse

“The Evangelical Politician Who Doesn’t Recognize His Faith—Or His Party” [The Atlantic]. “[Former Tennessee governor Bill] Haslam is disturbed by some aspects of the national Republican Party’s recent direction—particularly the way politicians and activists have frequently used religion as a cudgel. In his new book, Faithful Presence, he laments what he describes as a tendency among Christians to conflate politics with faith. He is one of many religious conservatives who feel unsure how to describe themselves these days. While he firmly holds evangelical theological beliefs, he told me, he doesn’t feel like he fits the political image of evangelicalism at all. Haslam is willing to challenge his fellow Christians to be more Christ-like in the way they do politics, encouraging them to turn off Fox News and be more charitable toward their political opponents, but he’s squishy about naming and blaming fellow Christian political leaders for the example they’ve set. “There’s been damage to the Church by the identification with this political cause,” he said—the “cause” being Trumpism. But, he added, he’s not interested in criticizing “current political personalities.” Perhaps Haslam has another campaign in him, after all.” • ”Squishy.”

Obama Legacy

The dude can’t be serious:

Assuming Obama’s not playing the fabulist, this says a lot more about Obama as a strategic thinker than it does about the Republicans. It’s been awhile, but I remember Obama’s faction rewriting the preamble to the Democrat platform at the 2008 convention along the lines of “a great nation deserves two great parties,” or some such. 2021 – 2008 = 13 years on, and it’s still West Wing brainworms. Maybe if a fever never breaks, it’s not a fever?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Amid Calls for Reform, Maine’s Criminal Defense System Reaches a ‘Breaking Point'” [Pro Publica]. “As courts reopen across Maine, defense lawyers are navigating a criminal docket unlike any they have experienced. Some lawyers are carrying loads of well over 100 cases and are being scheduled for more court appearances, sometimes in two courts at the same time. And shortages of defense lawyers accepting new cases have the system at a “breaking point,” Howaniec said. A nearly complete stop to criminal trials last year contributed to a pileup of 26,600 felony and misdemeanor cases statewide as of May 2021 — an increase of more than 56% from just before the pandemic began, at the end of January 2020. The pandemic stressed an already strained public defense system…. Late last year, Maine Gov. Janet Mills called for reform of [Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services (MCILS)] after an investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found that executive director John Pelletier, who later resigned, regularly contracted attorneys with criminal convictions or histories of professional misconduct to represent the state’s poor. But Mills has not called for an increase in the commission’s budget, citing a lack of accountability and fiscal shortfalls on the state level. Even as the commission has implemented sweeping changes to how it does business and as state revenue forecasts have improved, Mills has not budged.

And speaking of Joe Manchin:

The memory of goldfish….

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (cjmxc):

And today’s animal companion:

cjmxc writes:

In addition to my recent infatuation with the evening primrose, there is another photo/flower that fits the theme – nature’s beauty and toughness in reclamation despite man’s destruction. The primrose overcame my building a garage and paving the ground.

The Fringed Gentian overcame – in fact, judging by the search hits, seems to thrive on – significantly more disturbed ground. In this case an area that had been a large gravel/sand mining pit ‘given’ the State in exchange for a similar site across the road. (That was mined and then developed with luxury homes. No comment). I had hiked this ‘outback’ section for several years with BC my 4-legged friend when the gentian suddenly appeared in fall of 2008 or 2009. That it appears at the end of summer and into the fall brings a special joy. I also stumbled on this poem by William Cullen Bryant (below) celebrating its beauty and it’s determination. Being well into autumn myself, the appeal of the both the gentian and the primrose is not surprising.

The photo of Buttercup is presented – because – she always deserves a photo. And because it shows the sweep of this unique piece of land in a geographical area in which the only large open spaces not densely covered with trees (which are fine), houses or crops, are air fields, golf courses and cemeteries.

Unfortunately, the flower will have to try again as this area has been re-leased to a mining operation for 15 yrs during which time it may or may not mine and/or allegedly reclaim mined portions with a ‘native short-grass prairie’. I’m glad Buttercup no longer needs it. Screw cement. It hasn’t even gotten into ‘fixing our damn roads’ as far as I know.

And, I think there is reason to bet that someone and their dog will see the gentian again when the operation runs out or goes bust. Or, at least, the gentian will return when man’s folly has finally removed him from life’s equation.

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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.

101 comments

  1. jo6pac

    “New Democratic focus groups find many voters aren’t sure what the party stands for”

    I wonder how many consultas firms were hired to figure this out? Then again demodogs really don’t stand for anything but their puppet masters. They could care less about us on Main Street. If they did stand for something we could hold them accountable and that isn’t going happen.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      I’m surprised by the results. It seems clear to me that the Democrats stand for identity politics in all its flavors. On economic issues, I don’t know. But the cultural stuff is right out there.

      Reply
      1. enoughisenough

        economic issues: full Neoliberalism and privatization.

        Look at them on public schools and canceling debt and getting a NON neoliberal money-suck health care system together.

        I rest my case.

        Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        stand for identity politics in all its flavors.

        Nope. They stand for a misappropriation. Since apparently its pride month, Team Blue elites explained the “smart politics” of defending DOMA and DADT until they were struck down. They might be flying rainbow flags this month, but ten years ago, they told people to be happy with civil unions in Vermont.

        Or take the Virginia’s primary. Democratic elites don’t care about ID politics beyond yelling at everyone first.

        Reply
        1. Bryce Robbert

          Woo-hoo! As covered by NC many moons ago: I present NPR’s This American Life “https://www.thisamericanlife.org/636/transcript”
          The second part of the program details the insane Status Quo seeking pols (including one Cheri Bustos, who got her political clock cleaned as the house dems barely held on in 2020), framed in the corporate dems vs bernie enthusiasm gap.
          TLDR: Dems will only move policy to support their donors, constituents be “family blogged”

          Reply
        2. futurebroketeacher

          I remember when gay donors rebelled and started getting loud at Democrat soirees back in 2008 because they were doing their usual feet dragging on gay rights. Every centrist online and in politics became insufferable homophobes for a few months until the Dems caved.

          Reply
    2. km

      I was going to type something snarky about how the focus groups pretty much have Team D figured out, but I would have been wrong.

      Team D most definitely stands for Empire, for its corporate masters, and for the accumulation of power, more or less in that order. (Team R is pretty much the same, although they go through the process a little differently.)

      Reply
    3. flora

      Well, ya know, we once had FDR’s four freedoms”

      Freedom of speech
      Freedom of worship
      Freedom from want
      Freedom from fear

      How’s that going for the Dem elite estab now?

      Freedom of speech? … right… see social media’s suppression of speech.
      Freedom of worship? … seriously challanged wrt all covid all the time and group worship forms.
      Freedom from want? … yeah, right… how many will be homeless by the end of this month’s eviction foreclosure moratorium ?
      Freedom from fear? … it’s all fear all the time now. The Neolibs and bazillionairse are making out like bandits.

      Reply
    4. The Rev Kev

      This just does not only happen in America. In Oz we have two main parties – the Coalition and Labour parties with Labour being similar to the Democrats and the Coalition being an analogue to the Republicans. Back in the 90s after watching the Labour party cater to ever smaller groups of voters to get their votes while ignoring the majority of their actual voters, I actually stopped and asked myself what the Labour party actually stood for. And I could not answer that question at all. I knew that it was not only me asking this question when during this era a demagogue named Pauline Hanson nabbed herself a million votes in a general election. Of course both parties made sure to get rid of her movement by any means possible but she is still in Australian politics.

      Reply
  2. IM Doc

    My guess with regard to the vaccination numbers is the slight upward blip about 3 weeks ago – and now the small blip that is already vanishing very likely represent the vaccination of the 12-15 year old demographic.

    It will likely resume the downward trend now that those blips are over.

    Reply
    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      My theory is that folks did not want to get their second shots over Memorial Day weekend, so as to enjoy the holiday time without feeling blah. They may have pushed out appointments to the following weekend past, so now we will see the resumption of the downward trend.

      I really hope it is not 12-15 year olds as I want to believe parents and pediatricians are having a serious discussion on risk vs. reward for that age group, and not just virtue-signalling to their friends using their kids as a prop.

      Reply
      1. Duke of Prunes

        Risk vs reward? Where do you find this information, and who do you believe? These are rhetorical questions. I know answers because I hang out here and have the time and interest to read a lot. In many circles, when I voice any skepticism, I’m targeted as a “nutter” (or worse, Pro-Trump)

        But given the information from “normal” sources that “normal” people see, there is no risk. It’s amazing! Take the shot! Science!!!

        Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          https://edition.cnn.com/2020/09/01/health/eua-coronavirus-vaccine-history/index.html

          CNN is careful to state the problems with vaccines occurred under the Ford administration.

          Wikipedia of all places:

          “In 2017, Sanofi’s dengue vaccine Dengvaxia garnered controversy because it caused some vaccinated young children to have more cases of severe dengue. The New York Times cited criticism for Sanofi’s aggressive ad campaign despite the fact that this new vaccine was not completely safe.[5]”

          Reply
    2. Anonymous

      I am intensely appreciative of IM Doc’s posts on this site, and I lack his expertise. But I also lack his optimism in this matter.

      I think nearly half the nation isn’t vaccinated and won’t be anytime soon. The variants —more contagious than the original for the unvaccinated, and some potentially catchable even for the vaccinated — have all summer to perfect their act and then enter America through our sievelike international travel restrictions. Then we’ll put the same mechanism in place that devastated us last fall and winter: inadequately ventilated schools with the kids as asymptomatic Typhoid Marys, infecting millions of families across the nation.

      My gut tells me this summer is the perfect time to do social things, within reason, during the calm before the next storm. It’s a window that I expect will snap closed on our necks.

      Reply
        1. BlakeFelix

          Ya, some of the variants tend to dominate the original virus, which indicates that they are more contagious. It’s thought that some of them have a significantly higher R0, which is bad news. But they seem to be mostly controlled or at least rendered not very serious by the vaccines, so that is good news. It could to my understanding go either way at this point, governments mostly aren’t taking as many precautions as I would like, but if the numbers keep heading in the right direction and people keep getting vaccinated and the vaccines stay effective then the worst might be over.

          Reply
  3. Jorge

    Harris
    “If you come to our border, you will be turned back,”

    Unless, for example, you are one of the 170,000 officially processed last March, new numbers still pending, thanks to Biden’s change in immigration policy, and you hand your self and your children over to the Border Patrol, get a Covid test, then have Catholic Charities, funded by taxpayers, buy you a plane or bus ticket wherever you want in America along with a prepaid debit card for food, on the basis of you promising to appear at your asylum hearing, which has a 95% of deporting you?

    See Peter Santenello’s masterful series of on the ground reporting from McAllen, Texas and along the Mexican border. One person with a smart phone which must contain a 4K camera, and a talent for interviewing people without judgement, has done more news gathering than all the MSM combined.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9jR8EgFBAE

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Those aren’t immigrants. They are “replacements” for those lost in the past 18 months. Gotta keep them coming in or otherwise there will be pressure to raise wages.

      Reply
    2. marym

      The 170,000 number is somewhat misleading, as a substantial number of those encounters (>100k in each of the last 3 months) result in expulsion. The number of encounters includes repeat attempts.

      Southwest Land Border Encounters
      https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-land-border-encounters

      Nationwide Enforcement Encounters: Title 8 Enforcement Actions and Title 42 Expulsions
      https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-enforcement-statistics/title-8-and-title-42-statistics

      “CBP has witnessed a major increase in repeat crossing attempts by migrants turned back to Mexico under Title 42, and officials said 28 percent of those taken into custody were previously expelled.”
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/march-border-crossing-numbers/2021/04/07/2c252c52-97dd-11eb-8e42-3906c09073f9_story.html

      Reply
  4. t

    Would have thought OTR meant off-the-record but apparently not. Anyone have ideas about this new acronym in Courtney’s reporting?

    Reply
  5. a different chris

    >Well, so much for the Latinx vote in 2022!

    Actually – I don’t know what will happen in 2022 but it’s way more complicated than that. Basically, if you try to read everything (have a bottle of aspirin ready) you find out one and pretty much only one hard fact –

    President Donald Trump won almost a third of the Latino vote in 2016. But according to Cadava, that should not be seen as an aberration; rather, it is the continuation of a long pattern. “Since Nixon’s re-election in 1972, Republican candidates have pretty consistently won between one-quarter and one-third of the Hispanic vote.”

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/hispanic-republicans-yep-they-re-here-stay-says-author-geraldo-n1215556

    But as far as immigration itself – nothing you can really get a grip on. I dunno, maybe people lumped together as Latinx* don’t actually have that much in common? Just a thought.

    In any case, I think it is just comment sense to figure that the Latin community is clearly much more heavily, as you can maybe guess from the proportion of Republicans, concerned about those that have immigrated without the correct papers than those that want to immigrate, legally or otherwise.

    That is, you can find plenty of Latino Republicans, and you will unsurprisingly (given the entire right wing worldview/behavior can most easily be explained as individuals born with small but strong monkeyspheres) find they care about people they know that are already in the US but not documented.

    But they, unlike the more lefty 2/3, do not care at all about anybody outside the borders. And you are going left across a spectrum, so you are probably down to a minority when you get to thoser that care enough to actually vote based on being against border wall. With that smaller, but still there, minority on the right-hand-side that votes for said walls diluting the Latinx concern even further.

    *btw, I thought the part of the community that wasn’t obsessed with seeing itself on TV didn’t really like the “Latinx” label?

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Quite a few “immigrants” are either Elites now, or Elite-adjacent. Where did the organizing for the Bay of Pigs get done? Maybe that “Dem” huckster Chuckie Rocha has some expanation for why reactionaries are making inroads into the set of Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking or -aligned people who vote.

      Both Rep and Dem pundits are saying it’s all on account of the “social democrat” leanings and messaging of the Real Democratic Party. https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-latinos-bid-adios-to-democrats-11623104251

      Time to go step on some fingers of the working people of the lower class, people barely hanging on to the Ladder of Progress…

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The non-word ” latinx” was invented by intellectuals as a display of personal and political wokeness.

      Reply
        1. newcatty

          Your comment made me smile. It’s like when the teacher, for some reason, has to step outside the classroom door. The kids have already been given the drill: I am just outside the door and I still have my eyes on you! The kids have learned that is a joke. They pass notes to each other, whisper and flirt , get up and stretch and are ready to go back to being “good” when the teacher returns. Welcome back!

          Reply
      1. Carla

        What a welcome presence! Yves, if the good karma we’re all sending your way is working, you’re going to do just great in rehab!

        Reply
    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Try Firefox and the Bypass Paywalls extension. (Works on Chrome too but it’s a little more involved to install, as Google really doesn’t want you to use it. Plus Chrome is more invasive than Firefox, so I’d suggest using it anyway.)

      Reply
  6. Robert Hahl

    There is a Bird Song of the Day at the bottom as well as the top. Doesn’t seem intentional.

    Reply
    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Robert Hahl: And yet this seems to be woodpecker appreciation week. Which is good, because they are magical.

      Using a paragraph from (king) Picus at Wikipedia: “Picus was a figure in Roman mythology, the first king of Latium. He was the son of Saturn, also known as Stercutus. He was the founder of the first Latin tribe and settlement, Laurentum, located a few miles to the Southeast of the site of the later city of Rome.[1] He was known for his skill at augury and horsemanship. According to Festus he got his name as a consequence of the fact that he used to rely on a woodpecker for the purpose of divination. Picus was also described to be quite handsome, sought after by nymphs and naiads. The witch Circe attempted to seduce him with her charms and herbs while he was on a hunting trip, but he savagely rejected her. She turned him into a woodpecker for scorning her love.”

      Picus means woodpecker. So from king to bird and back again. The Piceni, who lived around modern Ascoli Piceno and the Adriatic coast, are said to have been led there by a woodpecker and took their name from the savvy bird.

      One can do worse.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        Last year I chased off a (or is it “an”?) opossum that was attempting to raid a blue jay nest in one of our trees. This year what I like to believe is the same pair of jays seem to come unusually close to me when I’m out in the yard. We regularly spend extended periods of time regarding each other in close proximity. Smart, curious birds, I at times suspect they are trying to puzzle out in what ways I might be of further use them, or perhaps it’s more a bond of fellow feeling. In any event, I take great pleasure in these encounters.

        Reply
        1. Nikkikat

          The jays are very smart! I had a pair that would take a peanut from my hand. The male first and then the female. Enjoy! We had a pair of doves that were also very used to us and we could get within a foot of them. They seemed to understand that we were keeping our eye on them and protecting them when crows or hawks were about.

          Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        A whole lot of people, if they are participating in governance at all any more, seem to be following peckers of a different sort.

        Reply
      3. HotFlash

        When Inanna aka Ishtar tried to woo Gilgamesh he turned her down, citing the sad fates of her past lovers, including the roller bird. Some scholars think it is a type of woodpecker, noted for their uneven, scalloped-shaped flights. From chapter 3 of the Epic:

        “(Sooth), thou shalt vouch (?) for the truth (?) of (this) list—Thy maidenhood’s consort,
        Tammuz, each year dost make him the cause of Wailing, (then cometh
        Next) the bird Roller gay-feather’d thou lovedst, and (yet) thou didst smite him
        breaking his wing: in the grove doth he stand, crying kappi ‘my wing!'”

        Reply
  7. a different chris

    >“New Democratic focus groups find many voters aren’t sure what the party stands for”

    Which would be hilariously comical if this was occurring on another planet. I mean the R’s have given up even writing a platform they are so far off from that now quaint habit of actually thinking about things.

    But the Democrats just have to come up with something, they say!

    Actually they don’t. Trump, in his continuous ruination of everything good, has put the D’s in a position where the biggest bang for the buck is to just run against Trump. Joe Biden won because of his nuanced Middle East position? Hardeharharhar.

    Let the devil take the hindmost, I guess is the process nowadays, but We The People *are* the hindmost in this hideous game.

    Reply
  8. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Obama as a fabulist.

    What is his actual problem with the Trump Presidency prior to the post election period? The grift…yawn…this is key to decoding what Obama means. I think he might have expected more plaudits for letting crooks be bailed out.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Right track, wrong conclusion. Oh sure some of it is Obama burnishing his no drama highly reasonable persona. OTOH it is also Obama offering “shelter” for Republicans after the fact. Over time he will reveal Republican donors who resisted, all of whom will have been working with the Obamas on some project Supposedly to help the public but really to line the pockets of the principals.

      At least that is what I expect.

      Reply
  9. John

    There is what the Democrats say they stand for and then what they actually stand for.Once you get past the pressure groups and the lobbies and the donors and the money… especially the money, the rest is smoke and mirrors. Same can be said of the Republicans. Both parties are owned and obedient to their masters. Neither is worthy of support. Voting has been a devil’s bargain for generations.

    Why else have we had Clinton then Bush then Obama then Trump and now Biden. Put them in a sack, shake it, pull one out at random. How much difference would it make which one emerged?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Since Democrats have been bemoaning their “messaging” problem since the early 00’s if not earlier, wouldn’t the natural solution be to fire every Team Blue PR person?

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        I thought failure upward is not a bug but a “feature”.

        I’d give some free advice, now that the WHO has decided to name the strains after Greek letters, the Greeks might feel bad about all the viral strains.

        The Democrats could use their powerful position to get the WHO to once again name the strains differently, perhaps an alpha-numeric code, or a collection of numbers and punctuation marks.

        They could also, in an attempt to bring all nations together, use particularly odd characters from different countries to give equal representation to all covid strains. Perhaps strain “ß” so that the Germans will feel included, and perhaps strain “ñ” so that we show that we welcome the “latinx” into our nomenclature.

        Obviously no strain will include “д” as Russians are colluding with Trump.

        The Schumer strategy is infallible.

        Reply
      2. Geo

        Maybe they should hire those Russian troll farms that outsmart their messaging all the time?

        To be fair to the Blue PR flacks though: it’s hard to craft a message for a client that has nothing to say.

        Reply
      3. bassmule

        I am becoming somewhat irritated with the “They’re all the same” trope. Only one refused to acknowledge the outcome of a national election. Just sayin’

        Reply
        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Just sayin,’ but Russiagate was also a refusal to acknowledge the outcome of a national election.

          Reply
        2. tegnost

          I don’t see where NTG said they’re all the same so you’re probably responding to john and all he said was the dems say things like we’re we’ll raise the min wage, or public option, or $2000,…and don’t do. Feel free to list some of the thing dems said they would do, and then did (nothing will fundamentally change, ok you got me there). If there’s an issue with the comment he says “Same can be said of the Republicans.” and I don’t see the republicans needing to be as duplicitous to get votes, the dems do, maybe because they really want republicans to vote for them…

          Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      In terms of having a functional Administrative State, quite a difference between Biden or Trump Term Two.
      Also, Keystone Pipeline yes or Keystone Pipeline no. There’s a difference.

      Perhaps it becomes up to tens of millions of no-account nobody citizens to leverage and weaponise that difference.

      Reply
  10. ambrit

    Has anyone else here gotten the ’embedded’ joke included in the Harris cookies story yet?
    Basically, one ‘eats’ cookies. So, going by past ‘form,’ Harris is telling the ‘invited’ “cookie munchers” to “Eat Me!” This goes perfectly with her being an acolyte of “She Who Cannot Be Named,” the ex? Goldwater Girl.
    Hmmm….. It’s not quite ‘official’ yet, but the Democrat Party Nomenklatura is finally comming “out of the closet?” (I also must wonder if that is the same closet where all of the “Dry Powder” is stored.)

    Reply
      1. newcatty

        Yes…and since it is Harris who handed out cookies following Nuland’s generous gesture, then maybe Harris took note. The fact that she used “cookies” with her brand is not a cute coincidence that a baker made those cookies to , what, honor her? She makes a point of passing them out to press. It’s a mistake to think that they are Just Cookies… no agenda.

        Reply
        1. Nikkikat

          Everything around her is staged and practiced. If The Democrats are looking for another Obama, it might not work this time. She is just TOO obvious.

          Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Yes but “eat me” only refers to a certain part of anatomy, not cannibalism.

      Maybe Biden picked Harris for the same reason that Trump picked Pence–job protection!

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Yes but “eat me” only refers to a certain part of anatomy, not cannibalism.

        Are the big bickies a no-host bar? {~genuflects~}

        Reply
    2. Fern

      In the course of a few days, the epically tone-deaf Kamala Harris made at least three separate cringe-inducing moves that I’m aware of. One was her “Don’t come, don’t come” speech in Guatemala. One was passing out cookies in the shape of her faceless head. And the last one was her cringe-inducing deflection about the question “Do you have any plans to visit the border?”. She deflected, and then when pressed, answers sarcastically: “And I haven’t been to Europe”, and then breaks into her always cringe-worthy, trademark laugh.

      What were they thinking? Do they put AIPAC’s desires above their own survival (she was by far the most abjectly ingratiating candidate on the horizon re AIPAC). If they were simply trying to please their donors, you’d think that a big donor would see the handwriting on the wall and want someone who could win.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzqDUhaOb10

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        When Kamala said “And I haven’t been to Europe”, a smart reporter would have said “True. But you haven’t been put in charge of Europe. You have though been put in charge of the Border. So when do you plan to visit it?”

        But no main stream media reporter would ever do that.

        Reply
      2. ambrit

        Seeing the complete dog’s breakfast the Biden Administration is becoming, I would not put fealty to AIPAC trumping electability concerns past the Democrat Paryt Nomenklatura.
        These people have obviously, and that is the real point of all this, abandoned any concerns for the Public Good. Their own wealth and status have become paramount.
        Dog pulls aside curtain hiding Symbol Manipulator.
        “Ignore that Donor behind the curtain. I am the great and mighty Politico!”

        Reply
      1. Geo

        Fauci is a perfect symbol of the current era: Dems deify him as infallible and the right sees him as Lucifer in the flesh. Seems it’s only on NC that he’s seen as merely the PMC money/status seeker he is. Just another revolving door, back room dealing charlatan selling out expertise for leverage and profit like so much of our misleadership class.

        Reply
          1. Robert Gray

            Full-time, $32,697/year. OK.

            32697 / 52 weeks / 40 hours = $15.71 / hr.

            ‘Twenty years o’ schoolin’ and they put you on the day shift.’

            Reply
            1. Isotope_C14

              This is so incredibly insulting. This job in Germany (or literally anywhere else) would be paid a true living wage, and in many countries would include free healthcare, and 3-5 weeks paid time off.

              This sort of position almost certainly includes some weekend work too. You might be right on the 20 years to the day shift ;)

              Rather than do that, they usually just tell you the grant money ran out, and hire someone cheaper.

              “….supporting cutting-edge research on negative-strand RNA viruses including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and replication-deficient ebolavirus.”

              So, I predict a lab leak somewhere in Madison Wisconsin in about 3 months.

              “…influenza viruses in vitro, in cultured cells, and in mice, hamsters, and ferrets”

              Mice bite, they are cheapest, and you handle them the most. Ferrets probably also bite, I’ve never worked with them. I know Rabbits after a time in captivity will bite, we had a special armored glove to grab them.

              Hey! We just had a potential serious lab leak, lets mess around with the virus more, AND hire the least experienced people to do the job! What could go wrong?

              Reply
          2. allan

            It’s not clear who the PI is on that grant, but rummaging around for a few minutes in the
            public UWisc salary database, here is a senior faculty member in that academic unit.
            The name has been changed to protect the 1%.

            Prof. XYZ in 2019 was employed in University of Wisconsin at Madison and had annual salary of $374,704 according to public records. This salary is 495 percent higher than average and 598 percent higher than median salary in University of Wisconsin at Madison.

            Reply
        1. Ping

          Fauci literally nauseates me. The way he pompously manipulates, substituting obscure words like “antedates” instead of “precedes” or injects words like kinetic and dynamic in very basic discussions designed to falsely elevate himself by glazing over others unsure of relevancy. He represents monied interests, not the public health. Isn’t he on the patent for Remdesiver?

          Reply
  11. Geo

    “delivered cookies decorated with the shape of her likeness”

    Fitting that the cookies have a blank spot where a face should be. The empty void is very much on brand and represents the notion that people can project the persona they want onto it.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      I think the cookie representation of that well-tinkered face melted and was smooshed by the plastic non-recylable wrapper. Meanwhile, back in the real world where certain kinds of observations will draw cannon fire, there’s this about the face: https://100percentfedup.com/what-in-the-world-has-kamala-harris-done-to-her-face/ She did indisputably get her grille fixed up.

      And it’s hard to find a mainstream reminder of how Tulsi Gabbard, famous non-person in the Narrative world, woman-handled Harris during “that” debate. Here’s one link from an obviously biased source: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/tulsi-gabbard-just-humiliated-kamala-harris-in-front-of-10-million-people

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        Suh-Weet on the Tulsi reminder on what we are not supposed to remember:

        Clearly, Gabbard had done her homework, and she absolutely dragged Harris for her abysmal record as California attorney general. During her time in office, Harris took draconian stances on issues of criminal justice, enforcing such merciless policies and displaying such ruthless ambition that “Kamala the cop” has become a common criticism of the candidate.

        Gabbard attacked Harris for having locked up thousands of people for mere marijuana possession and laughing about it when asked whether she had smoked pot herself. The congresswoman piled onto Harris, adding on a reference to her office’s shameful move to keep people locked up to preserve “cheap labor for the state of California.”

        This is all true, and here are the receipts. But Gabbard didn’t stop there.

        The Hawaii congresswoman also called out Harris for the fact that while attorney general, she fought to keep people incarcerated despite exonerating evidence and fought to preserve the unfair system of cash bail.

        I’m a one issue voter (Stop killing people overseas and in the CONUS) and voted for Tulsi Gabbard when I was allowed to. I’d like to think that is a good start for unscrewing things.

        The NPC Harris cookie images were clever too.

        Reply
  12. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    re: “Election Legitimacy”

    Generally, if I see it derived from National Pentagon/{Petroleum Radio, I am immediately skeptical.
    There is an idea in the public mind that the vote has been all computerized since the ‘hanging chad’ fiasco. I thought then that Gore was cheated and contrary to most ‘liberal’ voices, I think it’s entirely possible that Trump was cheated as well. Like LIBOR. Gaming US elections goes way back. Why people want to assume their team (be in Repubs or Demos) would never do it simply displays their inability to be properly skeptical of authority.

    Reply
  13. doug

    Sometimes a cookie is just a cookie…
    or something like that.
    We are easily distracted from real issues, and that is used to our detriment as a species.

    Reply
  14. Watt4Bob

    Our Vice Pres seems to think that if we give Guatemala’s elite enough aid they’ll start treating their people better.

    From the CIA World Book;

    The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala’s overall consumption. More than half of the population is below the national poverty line, and 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up more than 40% of the population, averages 79%, with 40% of the indigenous population living in extreme poverty. Nearly one-half of Guatemala’s children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.

    Why is it that when discussing how to help the world’s poor, the USA always wants to start with improving “opportunities for investment“, which of course means better opportunities for rich Americans to take advantage of your country’s people, and it’s natural resources?

    Reply
    1. jsn

      Right, helping Guatemala’s elite is more likely to cause them to expropriate more resources/land displacing more people and creating more pressure to migrate.

      How you caused a problem is not how you fix that problem.

      Reply
    2. Lee

      “Nearly one-half of Guatemala’s children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world.”

      “The agricultural sector is vital for economic and social development, with about 70 percent of total land area dedicated to agricultural and forestry activities. Guatemala has the second most unequal land distribution in the region, with 1.86 percent of the farms owning 52 percent of arable land. Conversely, 45 percent of all holdings are smaller than 0.7 ha in size.

      Bananas, sugar, coffee, and palm oil are some of Guatemala’s main agricultural exports, although export of nontraditional products has grown significantly during the period.” Country fact sheet on food and agriculture policy trends – Guatemala

      A starving, high agricultural output, food exporting country. Gee, I wonder how that happens? I propose that we export Kamala so that she might organize a peasant rebellion that institutes land reform. In the meantime, let them eat cookies.

      Reply
  15. WendyS

    I wonder if Woody Woodpecker is based off of the Powerful Woodpecker. Looks a bit like him and sounds a bit like him too.

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      The first four door pick-up trucks were custom Dodge trucks ordered on a USAF Strategic Air Command contract with four wheel drive (usually an outside vendor mod) and long beds so aircrew could get from the alert shelter to the flight line quickly with their flight and survival gear, usually in exotic vacation locations near the Canadian border. The truck driven by Kurt Russell in the film “Overboard” is an example of an ex-USAF truck.

      The idea of having carpeting in a truck (or SUV) has me completely befuckled. If you have a truck, and more importantly a four wheel drive truck because you want 4wd for mucky conditions, why would you want carpeting in the cab?

      Reply
      1. rowlf

        My edit window was timing out, but around here the four door trucks (AKA six-packs) are popular with landscape, roofing and construction crews. One of my sons’ friends bought a used truck for his business and the residual crew smell is wilting any air freshener that gets installed. I suggested the skunked dog neutralizing technique of lots of tomato juice and throwing it into a pond or river a few times.

        Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      I don’t understand this thing that happened to trucks either. We want the truck to haul things. We don’t need to ride people around. I wonder what these people think the tiny bed is for in the back.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that I can answer that. I was reading about McMansions and when you look at them from the street, some have a porch in front which looks charming. But if you got out of your car and walked up to that McMansion, you would discover that that porch is only about a foot in depth so only a cat could stretch out there. Those truck beds are kinda the same in being only for looks.

        Reply
  16. hunkerdown

    Just in time for BTC, battered and bruised, to ponder FBI and IRS scrutiny, El Salvador made it legal tender. (Guardian) One human rights activist called it “rather incomprehensible”. It makes sense as a rom-com.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      El Salvador uses the US $ as their currency, not exactly a vote of confidence for the almighty buck.

      Reply
  17. allan

    Tyler Cowen goes Russia! Russia!! Russia!!! on the IRS leak:

    … ProPublica acted unethically, and in fact nothing fundamentally new or interesting or surprising was learned from their act as accessory.

    The real story is how the numbers were obtained, and here I fear the worst. A single rogue agent can’t just pull up the files of rich people on demand, as I understand the system (if so, Trump’s return would have leaked a long time ago). So this was probably a coordinated effort of some sort, is it crazy to suspect the Russians having some role in it? …

    Oddly, there is no disclosure that Cowen is funded by the billionaire Koch(s).

    Reply

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