2:00PM Water Cooler 10/18/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, more soon. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

If I were a field-mouse, that’s one sound I would hate to hear….

* * *


Patient readers, I have started to revise this section, partly to reduce my workload, but partly to focus more as an early warning, if that is possible. Hopefully I will have a variant tracker soon.

Vaccination by region:

Coercion works? Or boosters? (I have also not said, because it’s too obvious, that if by Bubba we mean The South, then Bubba has done pretty well on vax.)

57% of the US is fully vaccinated (CDC data. Mediocre by world standards, being just below Czech Republic, and just above Turkey, as of this Monday). We are back to the stately 0.1% rise per day. I would bet that the stately rise = word of mouth from actual cases. However, as readers point out, every day those vaccinated become less protected, especially the earliest. So we are trying to outrun the virus…

Case count by United States regions:

Those numbers were fiddling and diddling. Let’s hope they keep going down.

Simply tape-watching, this descent is as steep as any of the three peaks in November–January. It’s also longer than the descent from any previous peak. We could get lucky, as we did with the steep drop after the second week in January, which nobody knows the reasons for, then or now. Today’s populations are different, though. This population is more vaccinated, and I would bet — I’ve never seen a study — that many small habits developed over the last year (not just masking). Speculating freely: There is the possibility that natural immunity is much, much greater than we have thought, although because this is America, our data is so bad we don’t know. Also, if the dosage from aerosols drops off by something like the inverse square law, not linearly, even an extra foot of social distance could be significant if adopted habitually by a large number of people. And if you believe in fomites, there’s a lot more hand-washing being done. On the other hand, Delta is much more transmissible. And although readers will recall that I have cautioned against cross-country comparisons, I’m still not understanding why we’re not seeing the same aggregates in schools that we’ve see in Canada and especially the UK, although we have plenty of anecdotes. Nothing I’ve read suggests that the schools, nation-wide, have handled Covid restrictions with any consistency at all. So what’s up with that?

Even if hospitalizations and the death rate are going down, that says nothing about Long Covid, the effect on children, etc. So the numbers, in my mind, are still “terrifying”, even if that most-favored word is not in the headlines any more, and one may be, at this point, inured.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection. Readers seemed to like this, so I’ll add as a regular feature:=

Fiddling and diddling here too.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From CDC: “Community Profile Report October 14, 2021” (PDF), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Speculating freely: One thing to consider is where the red is. If air travel hubs like New York City or Los Angeles (or Houston or Miami) go red that could mean (a) international travel and (b) the rest of the country goes red, as in April 2020 and following. But — for example — Minnesota is not a hub. If Minnesota goes red, who else does? Well, Wisconsin. As we see. Remember, however, that this chart is about acceleration, not absolute numbers. This map, too, blows the “Blame Bubba” narrative out of the water. Not a (Deliverance-style) banjo to be heard. (Red means getting worse, green means bad but getting better.)

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 744,688 741,979. The upward trend in death rate begins anew. We approached the same death rate as our first peak last year. Which I found more than a little disturbing. (Adding: I know the data is bad. This is the United States. But according to The Narrative, deaths shouldn’t have been going up at all. Directionally, this is quite concerning. Needless to see, this is a public health debacle. It’s the public health establishment to take care of public health, not the health of certain favored political factions. Also adding: I like a death rate because it gives me a rough indication of my risk should I, heaven forfend, end up in a hospital. I should dig out the absolute numbers, too, now roughly 660,000, which is rather a lot.)

Covid cases in historic variant sources:

Chile and Peru rising. Remember this is a log scale. Sorry for the kerfuffle at the left. No matter how I tinker, it doesn’t go away.

* * *


“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

Biden Administration

“Ethics watchdog accuses Psaki of violating Hatch Act” [The Hill]. “A government watchdog group on Friday filed an ethics complaint against White House press secretary Jen Psaki, alleging she violated the Hatch Act by appearing to endorse Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe during a press briefing. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel requesting an investigation into whether Psaki violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal government employees from engaging in campaign activity in their official capacity. The complaint cites Psaki’s comments during a Thursday press briefing when she was asked whether the White House views the upcoming election in Virginia as a bellwether race. After saying she had to be careful to avoid campaigning from behind the podium, Psaki said ‘we’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing.’ ‘The last administration systematically co-opted the government for the president’s reelection. While this conduct does not come close to rising to the level of the outrageous offenses of the Trump administration, that does not mean we should be casual about compliance with an important ethics law,’ CREW president Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “The Biden administration should not follow the Trump administration down that path.'” • Perhaps this was the best possible way to send a signal. Hard to believe Psaki wasn’t “careful with [her] words.” Words are her job. See below on Clinton creature McAuliffe.

“Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision” [The Hill]. “The president’s budget request proposed imposing the reporting requirement for accounts with flows of at least $600….. The administration said that it plans to focus enforcement efforts on high-income taxpayers, and that audit rates wouldn’t increase for taxpayers with actual income of under $400,000.” • That’s what they say now, of course.

UPDATE “Scoop: Manchin’s red lines” [Axios]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has told the White House the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60,000 range, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.” • You will pry means-testing from liberal Democrats’ cold, dead hands. I can well believe Manchin’s motivation is as trivially venal as making sure there are a few jobs in West Virginia for people to do the gatekeeping.

UPDATE “Manchinema become K Street darlings” [WaPo]. Maximum fundraising, minimal governance. The Democrat Party is a beautiful big tent! “Manchin raised nearly $1.6 million from July 1 to Sept. 30 — nearly as much as in the third quarter of 2018, as he was locked in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, adjusted for inflation. (The total doesn’t include the more than $200,000 Manchin’s leadership PAC raised in July and August; the PAC’s report covering September, the final month of the quarter, isn’t due until Wednesday.) Sinema brought in $1.1 million, including more than $125,000 — about 11 percent — from corporate and trade group PACs, lobbyists and others in the influence industry.

More than 30 lobbyists gave to Sinema’s campaign, along with a handful of others who work in the influence industry but aren’t registered to lobby, such as Debra DeShong, the executive vice president of public affairs for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.About $278,000 — 17 percent of the total — came from 87 corporate and trade groups as well as 19 lobbyists and former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). Israel isn’t registered to lobby but serves as a senior counsel at the lobbying firm Michael Best Strategies….” • First time I’ve heard the phrase “influence industry.” Good to know we can still do industry in this country. Oh, and Steve Israel is a horrible human being. I’m not surprised he’s leaving his usual trail of slime in Manchin’s office.


“Grieder: Ex-Bush adviser Matthew Dowd is eager to hold Dan Patrick accountable” [Houston Chronicle]. “Matthew Dowd, a political consultant based in Wimberley and former ABC News commentator, announced last month that he is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Patrick. His decision to enter the race has caused some heartburn among Texas Democrats. For starters, he’s a former Republican who joined George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000 and served as the chief strategist for Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004. Democrats already have a proven vote-getter vying to unseat Patrick — former accounting executive Mike Collier, who came within 5 percentage points of unseating Patrick in 2018. As the national media has focused on the candidacy of the better-known and very quotable Dowd, Collier’s campaign has practically been ignored. For Collier’s supporters, Dowd’s decision to jump in the race looks opportunistic. Dowd, 60, disputes that. He explains that he entered the arena as a Democrat, working for former Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, before deciding to join Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. In 2007, he said in an interview that he had lost faith in Bush, then still the president — an admission that was covered on the front page of the New York Times. Dowd went on to spend some time in the political wilderness as an independent.” • Bush’s actual speechwriter is running as a Democrat… and getting all the attention from the national press, good job.

Democrats en Deshabille

“Virginia is for worriers: Governor race poses real risk to Dem agenda” [Politico]. “The Democratic Party’s fortunes are increasingly tied to someone who’s never served a day in federal office: Terry McAuliffe. Losing ground in a Virginia gubernatorial campaign once seen as a near-lock for Democrats, McAuliffe has sought to nationalize the race — calling out congressional inaction and President Joe Biden’s waning popularity as he tries to mount a return to an office he held four years ago. If McAuliffe loses, it could put a chill on Democrats’ agenda and prompt hand-wringing over whether the party failed to boost him enough in a difficult race against Republican Glenn Youngkin. If McAuliffe doesn’t pull out a win, some pessimistic Democrats privately predicted a ‘collapse’ on Capitol Hill, where party leaders are already struggling to unite sparring progressives and centrists around a roughly $2 trillion social infrastructure package. Meanwhile, the Senate-passed $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill is sitting on the shelf because the votes aren’t there in the House, much to Virginia Democrats’ irritation… [D]espite public pronouncements of action by the end of October — when Congress will again be forced to address expiring highway and transit programs — Democrats appear far from even an outline of an agreement. Election day in Virginia [Nov. 2], not Oct. 31, is the real deadline for action on Democrats’ domestic priorities for many on Capitol Hill….. But Pelosi has dismissed the idea that McAuliffe’s race factors into her timing for a vote on the infrastructure bill. And progressive leaders still maintain they have the votes to sink the legislation — vowing not to relent until there’s a firm agreement between the party’s two factions. ‘Oct. 31 is the day that the highway trust authority runs out. That’s what we’re interested in,’ Pelosi said this week. ‘It has nothing to do with anything outside.'” • McAuliffe was chair of Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, and was elected Virginia governor in 2013 (which was a long, long time ago). He’s a bagman and a fixer.

UPDATE “Virginia Democratic Party files complaint with state board of elections against Youngkin campaign” [The Hill]. “The party accused Youngkin’s campaign of violating Virginia law by not including ‘an unobscured, full-screen picture containing the candidate, either in photographic form or through the actual appearance of the candidate on camera.’ … [T]he campaign said that the issues of Youngkin’s face in the ads being obscured were based on selective screenshots. The campaign also provided screenshots showing Youngkin’s face in clear view in the ads.” • He said, she said. The assumption is that the Youngkin campaign isn’t run by professionals, who would not make this sort of amateur error. (The Youngkin campaign is not being advised by flaky Trump lawyers, for example.) So I read this as the initial Democrat delegitimization effort, nothing more. We shall see!

Republican Funhouse

“Just the idea of House Speaker Trump could be a dream or nightmare for each party” [NPR]. “If the Republicans take the House back in the 2022 midterm elections, they get to pick a speaker, and there’s no requirement that the speaker has to be an elected representative…. Liz Harrington, a spokesperson for the former president, told NPR, ‘We know a lot of people are talking about it. A lot of people like the idea, but it’s nothing Mr. Trump is thinking about.'” • I know some find the picture of Pelosi handing the Speaker’s gavel to Trump delicious, but Trump would have to redefine the job (as he might, in his own inimitable way). He’d have to count votes, for example, or have somebody do it for him.


UPDATE “Out of the Shadows: Christopher Steele defiant on dossier, says Trump still ‘potential’ threat” [ABC]. • How can a man with a name like “Steele” not be an American hero?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Dozens of Oregon law enforcement officers have been members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia” [Oregon Public Radio]. “According to data leaked earlier this month and reviewed by OPB, Webber — who is still a Portland police officer — is among more than two dozen current and former police officers, sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers, and members of the military in Oregon who appear to have joined the Oath Keepers militia since the group was founded in 2009. OPB compared data in the Oath Keepers leak against public records, social media and state law enforcement certification information to verify the information. The Oath Keepers militia was founded by Army veteran and Yale Law School graduate Elmer Stewart Rhodes in 2009. The group recruits people with experience in law enforcement and the military to prepare for what the organization characterizes as an inevitable armed conflict with the U.S. government. The organization has been involved in or planned a number of criminal and violent actions over the past decade, according to University of Albany Assistant Professor Sam Jackson, who wrote a book on the Oath Keepers. ‘It’s really problematic if you have members of law enforcement saying, for example, that they’re not going to comply with federal court orders because they think those federal court orders are unconstitutional,’ Jackson said. The Oath Keepers gained national attention in 2014 when the group helped back Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in an armed standoff with federal officers.” • Ultimately, the liberal Democrat infatuation with coercion will depend on actual humans with the power to coerce. It’s not clear how that will work out, or when and how it will become visible that it’s not working out.

UPDATE A good political ad:

Taking the ad at face value, it’s hard to put Carter’s record beside Obama’s record as “community organizer” and State Senator and conclude that voters weren’t defrauded in 2008. Badly.

Harry Potter liberals:

Twenty years ago, we were all excited that kids were reading Harry Potter. At least they were reading! And here we are….

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the United States increased 4.6 percent year-on-year in September of 2021. Industrial output growth slowed for a fifth month after growing 17.8 percent in April due to low base effects from last year.” • Industrial includes utilities and mining.

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing Production” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturing production in the United States increased 4.8 percent in September of 2021 over the same month in the previous year, the least in 6 months- On a monthly basis, factory activity decreased 0.7 percent, the most in 7 months and following a revised 0.4% decline in August as production of motor vehicles and parts slumped 7.2% due to shortages of semiconductors.”

Capacity: “United States Capacity Utilization” [Trading Economics]. “Capacity Utilization in the United States decreased to 75.2 percent in September from 76.4 percent in August of 2021. It is the lowest reading since May and well below market expectations.”

Capital Flows: “United States Net Treasury International Capital Flows” [Trading Economics]. “The United States recorded a capital and financial account surplus of 126041 USD Million in July of 2021.”

* * *

Shipping: “A growing number of logistics operators and industry observers see the snarls bottling up supply chains this year extending deep into 2022. Freight heavyweight J.B. Hunt Transport issued a sobering outlook that extends beyond the current chaotic peak season…. with seaport congestion growing heading toward the holidays and retailers looking to maintain restocking efforts into the first quarter” [Wall Street Journal]. “The assessment follows J.B. Hunt’s checks with its retail customers, and it fits with new projections from economists that see logjams jarring the U.S. economy at least into next year’s second quarter.”

Shipping: “Airfreight operations aren’t providing shippers much relief from global supply-chain hardships. Dubai’s main air cargo handler has stopped accepting most imports at the emirate’s main airport… as the business tries to reduce a backlog that has delayed delivery of goods across the United Arab Emirates. The halt at a key regional trading point is the latest hit to expedited shipping operations that have been buffeted during the pandemic” [Wall Street Journal]. “Passenger-plane belly capacity has been displaced and airfreight rates are rising on high demand as companies try to fly over severe backups at seaports. Dubai’s airport has seen a recent rush in cargo volume as freight forwarders switch from sea freight. Airports from Hong Kong to Los Angeles are reporting double-digit gains in freight tonnage heading into the sector’s peak season, suggesting Dubai won’t be alone in coping with a flood of cargo.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 50 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 32 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 18 at 12:46pm. Perhaps Mr. Market believes Build Back Better is no longer a thing?

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188 (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Health Care

“Horse-Bleep: How 4 Calls on Animal Ivermectin Launched a False FDA-Media Attack on a Life-Saving Human Medicine” [Michael Capuzzo, Rescue]. “The FDA tweet arrived just as ivermectin prescriptions were soaring, up twenty-four-fold in August from before the pandemic. These were legal prescriptions written by doctors who, presumably, had read the studies, learned from experience, and decided for themselves. Indeed, 20 percent of prescriptions are written off-label, namely for other than an approved use. The effort to vilify ivermectin broadly has helped curb the legal supply of a safe drug. That’s what drove people to livestock medicine in the first place.” • This is a good media critique of the aftermath of the FDA “You are not a horse” tweet, and how happy the FDA brass hats were about it, but it assumes the “horse dewormer” nonsense began with the FDA’s tweet. In fact, liberal Democrats had worked themselves into a lather about it long before.

Feral Hog Watch

Feral hogs learn to code:

Zeitgeist Watch

Not wrong:

(I should know where those meme characters come from, but I don’t. 4chan?)

Our Famously Free Press

“At Axel Springer, Politico’s New Owner, Allegations of Sex, Lies and a Secret Payment” [New York Times]. • Yes, I would prefer that Axel Springer not own Politico or Axios, let alone both. But the article is just insufferable, implying that the true source of the Times’ superiority is its woke newsroom, plus open and honest business dealings. Honestly. Did Springer ever do anything half as vile as RussiaGate? Come on, man.

UPDATE “New Politico Owner Says Will Enforce pro-Israel Policy” [Haaretz]. “Politico’s new owner, Germany’s Axel Springer, expects the U.S. website to adhere to the parent company’s principles including support for Israel’s right to exist, Springer’s CEO told The Wall Street Journal Friday…. He told The Journal on Friday that this sentiment – and others such as support for a united Europe and a free-market economy – ‘are like a constitution, they apply to every employee of our company.’ Employees who disagreed “should not work for Axel Springer, very clearly.’ Politico staffers, however, will not be required to sign a written commitment to these principles, as employees in Germany must, Döpfner said.” • Sounds ideal! So, naturally, the Times focuses on a sex scandal, good job.

Groves of Academe

“The Yale Law School Email Controversy: An Interview With Trent Colbert” [Original Jurisdiction]. • Worth a read for the detail of the controversy, which I certainly hope the Yale administrators are trying to gracefully walk away from.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“85. Liam Kofi Bright on Du Bois’ Philosophy of Science” (podcast) [History of Philosophy]. (Bright’s Twitter account: @lastpositivist.)

Class Warfare

Deere worker on two-tier:

Obviously two-tier is vile and should be abolished where found (that includes Social Security two-tier). I do find it a little unsettling that “family” is the metaphor chosen for solidarity; it speaks to a general impoverishment of social relations (and it’s also deceptive. A firm is not a famlly. It’s not structured like one, and I would urge that the moral obligations are not the same. Nor are the forms of dysfunction.)

Good for Fetterman:


* * *

“Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” [Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, The Philosopher]. “Deference epistemology asks us to be less than we are – and not even for our own benefit. As Nick Estes explains in the context of Indigenous politics: ‘The cunning of trauma politics is that it turns actual people and struggles, whether racial or Indigenous citizenship and belonging, into matters of injury. It defines an entire people mostly on their trauma and not by their aspirations or sheer humanity.’ This performance is not for the benefit of Indigenous people, but ‘for white audiences or institutions of power.’ I also think about James Baldwin’s realization that the things that tormented him the most were ‘the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.’ That I have survived abuse of various kinds, have faced near-death from both accidental circumstance and violence (different as the particulars of these may be from those around me) is not a card to play in gamified social interaction or a weapon to wield in battles over prestige. It is not what gives me a special right to speak, to evaluate, or to decide for a group. It is a concrete, experiential manifestation of the vulnerability that connects me to most of the people on this Earth. It comes between me and other people not as a wall, but as a bridge.”

“Fear and Loathing in ‘Asian America’ [New York Magazine]. “Like him or not, he is often right about the big stuff. Especially the limits of “Asian American.” Because the term’s a bust. It tries to mean so much that it means almost nothing. Its vagueness could get a pass if we needed it for politics, but “Asian American” doesn’t help us there: When a demographic includes dozens of languages and a yawning wage gap, is it even a demographic at all? What is the Asian American vote? It’s a term that demands caveats to even be usable…. I wonder when we’ll be ready to force the issue. To stop saying ‘Asian American’ when we mean something specific, to insist on a politics that works without althoughs. Kang’s book suggests that he, for one, isn’t ready to go there yet. He’s not an ‘Asian American’ abolitionist — more of a reform guy, really, and his solutions are hard to pin down…… In each section, Kang circles his themes, stopping now and then to bang on his argument: that the people who care most about ‘Asian American’ are second-gen professionals who are becoming functionally white anyway but cling to the term as proof of POC status.” • Whatever “functionally white” means. Walmart greeter?

News of the Wired

The word of the day:

The word of the day is not a word. That’s practically zen!

* * *

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 (petal):

petal writes: “This is the sweet onion update. Not the whole crop, but some of it. There are also 5 total pumpkins. We haven’t had a frost yet so the dahlias are still going strong. The bees are very happy.”

* * *

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If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Arizona Slim

    R-r-r-ring! The Water Cooler alarm is in high dudgeon!

    Time to end those naps and start discussing amongst ourselves.

    1. ambrit

      All right already! Can’t a guy get some ‘down time’ around here?
      *grumble grumble* [Imbibes caffeinated beverage.] “What the? It’s light outside! How did that happen?”
      Oh, and as for “functional whiteness,” well, down here in the North American Deep South, that phrase defines a certain ‘something’ that reduces one’s, er, Imperial Entanglements.
      As for; “How can a man with a name like “Steele” not be an American hero?” just ad a first name that conjures up the Wild West and Rugged Individualism, [Hint: the name of a firearms manufacturer.] and you have the makings of a hit television program! What’s not to like? (The afore mentioned farrago strongly suggests that the “Steele Dossier” always was a work of fiction.)
      Anyway. Time to make Phyl’s afternoon smoothie.
      Interesting factoid. Several times now, when I have rattled off the list of vitamins and supplements that I take, (I now just hand the recording nurse a printed list,) the item I describe as ‘Magnesium and Calcium 2:1’, has been autocorrected by the clinic’s computer system as a brand name product, Mylanta, which I know is not the same formulation nor mix or ingredients. Code is law!
      Stay safe all. As science fiction writer A E Van Vogt used to say: Go sane!

  2. Matthew G. Saroff

    In your Covid data, could you also publish excess death data?

    I’ve reviewed the CDC data,

    That data, which significantly under reports the last 6-8 weeks, gives a range of 735,055 to 877,797 excess deaths.

  3. Carla

    “You will pry means-testing from liberal Democrats’ cold, dead hands. I can well believe Manchin’s motivation is as trivially venal as making sure there are a few jobs in West Virginia for people to do the gatekeeping.”

    But Manchin is neither liberal, nor a Democrat. He knows it, and we’d better know it, too.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . he bears the Democrat brand. So the Democrats are responsible for him. If they don’t like him, let them cause his defeat in his next election.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Manchin is neither liberal, nor a Democrat

      He’s part of the big beautiful tent and got help from the DSCC in his last campaign. I think he’s playing the role the (liberal Democrat) leadership wants him to play. You can’t have minimum governance without obstructionists. They play the same game in the House with the Blue Dogs or the No labels crowd, or whatever they call themselves these days.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I mean what is he going to do if Biden drops the hammer. McConnell isn’t offering him anything to swing the Senate because every GOP grifter with eyes on a Senate seat on the planet knows they simply have to run ads saying, “Manchin voted to convict the rightful President twice.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I wonder to what extent Biden is just a human “crash test dummy” at this point and I wonder who is really driving the train.

    3. Eric377

      Look, the Democratic “platform” of 2020 was 99% “not Trump”. No matter what Manchin does or doesn’t do, that item is fulfilled. If they get little else done, just campaign more aggressively in 2022 on policy and reload in 2023 for another run at these things.

      1. albrt

        ” just campaign more aggressively in 2022 on policy and reload in 2023 for another run at these things”

        See, this guy gets it. The 2022 democrat campaigns will be very aggressive in the sense that they will contain at least 50% more “fighting for” promises.

        In the unlikely event the democrats still control Congress in 2023, they will once again make sure there are just enough obstructionists in their ranks so none of the promises are kept and nothing will fundamentally change. In the much more likely event that democrats lose Congress in 2023, they will be positioned for yet another lucrative anti-Trump cycle in 2024.

        That’s what I call a win-win proposition.

  4. zagonostra

    Speaking of Sen. Wellstone didn’t he die under some rather peculiar and tragic circumstances. Wellstone was called the “conscience of the Senate” – which probably died much sooner.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Just the convenient timing, but it was a chartered plane. Pilot incompetence is the official explanation with blame on the company not taking care to train their pilots. The funeral became a nutty pro-war rally.

      Does anyone think Biden and Hillary would have changed their votes for Wellstone? The answer is no. Then since Shrub expected to be showered with flowers instead of shoes before moving onto Iran, they weren’t expecting to be unpopular because everything was going to work out.

      1. sd

        Small detail – there were two pilots, not one, and no communication from the plane that there was a problem, the assumption being that all aboard were incapacitated before the crash.
        There was a small group of dedicated researchers on Salons now long gone Tabletalk who would post their findings.

  5. Lee

    If “functionally white” means not being discriminated against because of the melanin content of your skin or other shared, environmentally adaptive visible trait, then is a black person living in a predominantly black African country “functionally white”?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It would depend on the class and racial lines. The nature of chattel slavery and who is running things would all matter.

      “Functionally white” means they aren’t currently being discriminated against, but we aren’t terribly far removed from throwing Americans of Japanese descent into concentration camps in California.

    2. PKMKII

      After skimming the article, I think it’s not talking about discrimination (although that might play into it), but more how Asian Americans are represented within the Narrative. That, much as it has flattened homosexuals into all being upper east side creative professionals, it only considers Asian Americans within the context of being upwardly mobile STEM professionals and the vast swaths of Asian Americans that don’t fit within that class/profession context are routinely ignored. Their place in the Narrative is much as the white place; only the white collar and/or bourgeoise are included.

  6. Lee

    From Wikipedia:

    “Dord (instrument)

    The dord is a bronze horn native to Ireland, with excavated examples dating back as far as 1000 BC, during the Bronze Age. 104 original dords are known to exist, although replicas have been built since the late 20th century.

    Though the musical tradition of the dord has been lost, modern performers such as Rolf Harris and Alan Dargin believe it was played in a manner similar to the didgeridoo and apply that technique (including circular breathing and shifts in timbre) accordingly for modern fusion music. The Irish musician Simon O’Dwyer attempts to recreate historically accurate dord.

  7. Bazarov


    The characters from the “Zeitgiest Watch” tweet are as follows:

    1.) The man with the stiff jaw and short haircut flanked by a woman in modest dress represents the “Trad” or “Traditional” lifestyle. The woman is a “Tradwife.” Certain young men of right wing persuasion profess a desire for a traditional, modest woman who stays at home, cooks, and cares for children while they–a traditional man–go out to bring home the bacon.

    2.) The image of the corpse-like head with the crazy hair is a modified version of the Wojak character usually representing a down-and-out but aware person who’s often juxtaposed with the simplified, grayscale “NPC” figure. The NPC (“non-player character,” the jargon comes from video game culture) differs from the aware Wojak in that the NPC lacks internal being beyond the “lib” talking points they get from mainstream media. This variation of Wojak is kooky, symbolizing perhaps someone who has been driven to the edge of madness by prevailing conditions. There are many different Wojak and NPC memes.

    Hope that helps!

    1. Bazarov

      And yes, they all originated in 4chan and 4chan-adjacent forums. In general, they tend to have an edgy connotation–they’re now used widely in both left wing and right wing radical discourse (though they’re usually employed somewhat ironically by the left).

      1. Soredemos

        There are people who are ‘trad’ completely unironically. They generally actively want to ‘return’ to some idealized 1950s Leave it to Beaver vision of life. Trad Caths are a particularly noxious form of this.

    2. Solar Hero

      “Non-Player Character” is from table-top role playing games. My second edition D&D rules used the term in the 70’s.

      1. Bazarov

        Yes, that’s true–it originates there, but its usage in this instance and more widely in the modern internet era is specific to video games, as it is in video games where the NPCs mindlessly mill around and repeat the same phrases, no matter what.

        NPCs in tabletop RPGs, being controlled by the game master, can be just as dynamic and interesting as the player characters! I’m afraid this is not the case for the typical video game NPC, which is why the term has such a negative connotation (thus the comparison to mindless mainstream-media-indoctrinated libs).

      2. Soredemos

        That’s what it originates from, but hardly anyone is referring to tabletop games when they use it. Most people are familiar with it from video games.

  8. Judith

    From a review of the new David Graeber book,” The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity”:


    The overriding point is that hunter-gatherers made choices—conscious, deliberate, collective—about the ways that they wanted to organize their societies: to apportion work, dispose of wealth, distribute power. In other words, they practiced politics. Some of them experimented with agriculture and decided that it wasn’t worth the cost. Others looked at their neighbors and determined to live as differently as possible—a process that Graeber and Wengrow describe in detail with respect to the Indigenous peoples of Northern California, “puritans” who idealized thrift, simplicity, money, and work, in contrast to the ostentatious slaveholding chieftains of the Pacific Northwest. None of these groups, as far as we have reason to believe, resembled the simple savages of popular imagination, unselfconscious innocents who dwelt within a kind of eternal present or cyclical dreamtime, waiting for the Western hand to wake them up and fling them into history.

    The authors carry this perspective forward to the ages that saw the emergence of farming, of cities, and of kings. In the locations where it first developed, about 10,000 years ago, agriculture did not take over all at once, uniformly and inexorably. (It also didn’t start in only a handful of centers—Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Mesoamerica, Peru, the same places where empires would first appear—but more like 15 or 20.) Early farming was typically flood-retreat farming, conducted seasonally in river valleys and wetlands, a process that is much less labor-intensive than the more familiar kind and does not conduce to the development of private property. It was also what the authors call “play farming”: farming as merely one element within a mix of food-producing activities that might include hunting, herding, foraging, and horticulture.

    Settlements, in other words, preceded agriculture—not, as we’ve thought, the reverse. What’s more, it took some 3,000 years for the Fertile Crescent to go from the first cultivation of wild grains to the completion of the domestication process—about 10 times as long as necessary, recent analyses have shown, had biological considerations been the only ones. Early farming embodied what Graeber and Wengrow call “the ecology of freedom”: the freedom to move in and out of farming, to avoid getting trapped by its demands or endangered by the ecological fragility that it entails.

    1. JBird4049

      People are more interesting than many people think.

      Permanent settlements were often done because of how rich in resources an area was, usually, but not always food and not necessarily for farmland, or if it was on a trade route.

      For example, chieftains or rulers of the various Pacific Northwest usually lived in permanent settlements located where the coastal and inland communities of their tribe could both give their tributes. The resulting potlatches of the ruler was really not a method of destroying wealth for increased status. Having the resources at all was status and power increasing, but really it was a system of fairly dividing and redistributing the tributes under the guise of tribute and ceremony; the inland and seafaring communities had different resources available to them and needed the what the others had. A group could turn in some medicinal plants or favored food and get, say, the shells and dried fish of another group.

      TL;DR the local villages or small towns were giant warehouses and “stores” for the tribe(s) located for easy access and distribution.

      1. albrt

        May I offer a slight modification? “People [in small numbers] are more interesting than many people think.”

        People in small numbers exercise choices, sometimes including self-restraint. People in very large numbers exercise about the same level of self-restraint as yeast.

        1. JBird4049

          Hey, I understand the sentiments. I just think that it is not quite accurate because it is merely much less common, but not non-existent.

    2. Rainlover

      This looks like a fascinating take on the “settlers” vs “nomads question. I’ll add it to my reading of “Wandering God” by Morris Berman (great bibliography included if you are interested in this subject) and “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin. In the latter, his musings on nomads vs settlers are toward the back of the book — a collection of vignettes. As a self-proclaimed nomad myself, it is my personal view that discrimination against nomads by settlers continues to the present day in all settled cultures. One for the anthropologists out there.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Thanks very much for bringing this to our attention. When I heard of Graeber’s untimely death, my first thought, a selfish one, was, “But now is when we need him the most. He could have helped us with a new story about ourselves.”

      And now it seems we have that story posthumously.

  9. shinola

    Caitlin Johnstone has an interesting take on Alex Springer’s purchase of ‘Politico’ up on her website; she points out his statement on being unabashedly pro-Isreal & expecting the employees to promote that POV (or go work elsewhere) is more honest than some other MSM outlets that claim to deliver “fair & balanced” coverage.

    Springer admits right up front that he’s pushing propaganda.

    1. Nikkikat

      So Mr Springers take over of Politico means it will stay pro propaganda. For me reading Politico has always left me covered with slime and ticked off. Although my husband loves to read their marijuana articles that are sourced to unnamed doctors in unnamed hospitals or “studies” that are also unsourced with incredible results.

  10. flora

    From Charles Hugh Smith:

    Software Ate the World and Now Has Indigestion

    The vision of software eating the world is part and parcel of the compelling fantasy that humans will soon be free from the drudgery of work and scarcity and bask in near-infinite abundance due to techno-magic. Those most taken by this vision are never the ones trying to keep the software and robotics from failing, because those laboring to keep the whole mess from collapsing know the limits are far more real than the magical-thinking enthusiasts understand.


  11. Objective Ace

    >The administration said that it plans to focus enforcement efforts on high-income taxpayers, and that audit rates wouldn’t increase for taxpayers with actual income of under $400,000

    Sure, they’ll just increase the audit rates of those below 30k and 50k and decrease the rates of those making between 100-400k so the overall sub 400k rate remains the same.

  12. Soredemos

    >Harry Potter liberals

    Harry Potter was twenty years ago. These days it’s Marvel movies that liberals constantly refer to and use as their lens. And usually it’s the exact same people as were reading Harry Potter. They grew up, but they haven’t matured.

    They were all over Game of Thrones (I doubt most of them ever read the original books though), but their take away was to ‘YAS KWEEEEEN’ about certain characters, adopt House colors (just as they had done with Harry Potter), etc. But they show little awareness that all of the noble characters are varying degrees of monster, and that the entire feudal order in that world is an obscenity that does nothing but spread death and destruction, and that is also chronically incapable of allowing the world to unite to address the existential threat from the far north.

    I would have hoped that something like The Hunger Games, which these people also wolfed down (because of course they did) would have instilled some understanding of class politics, but that never seemed to happen.

  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    I don’t know where those meme characters first came from, but I see them a lot on reddit.

  14. Soredemos

    Most recent episode of The West Wing Thing was really good. Dave Anthony doesn’t acknowledge that he’s changed, but his tone on vaccines seems to have changed pretty substantially. He hits almost all the points NC regularly makes. Just a couple weeks ago he was all for vaccine mandates and lamenting idiots for not getting vaxxed.

    He then kind of completely undermines all of that at the end when he talks about how Joe Rogan is a ‘liar’ and that from his (Anthony’s) reading Ivermectin is ‘garbage’ for covid. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that he hasn’t actually done much reading on it, because from what I’ve seen the studies are split between it doing anything and it being useless. And the ‘it’s useless’ crowd then has no explanation for the clear divide between Indian states that use it and those that don’t.

  15. Jason Boxman

    Wow, why even vote for these people?

    Paid leave, a cornerstone of President Biden’s economic agenda, is one of the many proposals at risk of being scaled back or left out of an expansive social safety net bill that Democrats are trying to push through Congress. Mr. Biden’s initial $3.5 trillion plan called for providing up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents, caretakers for seriously ill family members and people suffering from a serious medical condition. Democrats proposed compensating workers for at least two-thirds of their earnings and funding the program with higher taxes on wealthy people and corporations.

    But as Democrats try to shave hundreds of billions off the overall policy package to appease moderate holdouts, paid leave could wind up shrinking to just a few weeks. That is alarming supporters of paid leave, who view this as the best chance to secure a crucial safety net for workers, particularly women.

    What’s wrong with our political economy that we need a safety net anyway? Why is living in America akin to living precariously? Is this the American dream? It’s sadly the American reality.

    It’ll be interesting to see if liberal Democrats get swept from Congress as they did under Obama, and whether that sweep if it comes is larger or smaller. Maybe this stuff appeals to moderate Republicans that liberal Democrats lately adore because it obviates them of any need to deliver for the working class or upset donors?

    Did anyone ever get Manchin to actually state exactly what he wants cut from Biden’s agenda?


  16. The Rev Kev

    “Out of the Shadows: Christopher Steele defiant on dossier, says Trump still ‘potential’ threat”

    Will no one rid us of this meddlesome Clinton-hire? News flash. Trump hasn’t been President since the beginning of this year so what was the point of the softball George Stephanopoulos interview? Steele should be up on charges for the damage that he cause Russian-western relations but that was really his job, wasn’t it? No, change that. His primary job was to provide a plausible explanation as to how the Democrats totally blew the 2016 election without it being their fault. And so far as I know, they still have not performed an autopsy over their 2016 campaign as it was considered unnecessary.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      We should never stop using the term Democrats WRT to those people you referrence. Because the DLC Clintonite Democrats ARE those people. And refusing to use their real name allows them and their party to keep lying about who and what they really are.

      Sinema is a Democrat. So is Manchin. They were picked for their roles by Democrats and they are supported by Democrats, so using some other name for them allows the Democrats to keep lying about what the Democrats truly are.

      1. skippy

        Its like a lot of things that are not linear in historical context and then wonder why some are so doctrinaire tribalist puritans, lest we forget Bill reformed the party into third way and then those environmental dynamics took over.

        Then everyone is born a Potter …..

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