2:00PM Water Cooler 1/21/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

“Individual 4 and 5. Two birds chasing each other around, alternating songs.”

* * *


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

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

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Capitol Seizure

“Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview” [The Hill]. “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is asking Ivanka Trump, former President Trump’s daughter and one of his White House advisers, to voluntarily sit down with the committee. The request — the first official outreach to a member of the Trump family — notes that Ivanka Trump spent considerable time with her father in the days leading up to Jan. 6, including witnessing a conversation between him and Vice President Mike Pence ahead of Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election. ‘The Select Committee wishes to discuss the part of the conversation you observed between President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on the morning of January 6th. Similarly, the Select Committee would like to discuss any other conversations you may have witnessed or participated in regarding the president’s plan to obstruct or impede the counting of electoral votes,’ the committee wrote in the letter to Trump. The president’s elder daughter was one of the officials with the greatest access to the president at the time, likely leaving her with wide-ranging knowledge of the activities in the White House surrounding Jan. 6.”

“Oath Keeper charges renew attention on Trump orbit” [The Hill]. Working their way up the chain? “[Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney] said the Oath Keeper indictment’s reliance on communications over encrypted messaging apps also suggests the Justice Department has been doing just that. ‘Those are not communications they can get through normal legal process with the providers. They can’t go to Signal, into that data, because they don’t have it. The only way they got that was from other people who had them on their phones. And so that says to me there are people who are cooperating who said, ‘Yeah, here’s all the stuff I got from Stewart Rhodes. Here are all the text messages.’ So that’s where they’re getting the stuff,’ she said. ‘So they are, as Garland said, working with lower-level people who are cooperators, charging them, they’re pleading guilty, getting information from them, and using that information to build cases. So if they’ve been able to charge this group, perhaps they’ve also been able to obtain other types of similar information using the same tactics to build cases against other groups who may have been there.'”

“Perspectives on the January 6th Committee” [Narratives Project]. The method: “Below, we break down how the left and right view the January 6th committee and how that leads each side to reach distinct, internally reasonable conclusions. Your opinion might not fit neatly into one side or the other — and that’s okay.” • Oh, only two sides, then?

Biden Adminstration

“First look: Biden inaugural to blanket airwaves today” [Axios]. “President Biden’s Presidential Inaugural Committee will mark his first anniversary in office by blanketing today’s airwaves — from breakfast to evening news to prime time — with a video promoting a recovering, resilient America. The video is narrated by Tom Hanks, who was part of Biden inaugural festivities, and features cameos by everyday Americans — a UPS driver, a Teamster from Michigan and a bed-and-breakfast owner in Wisconsin.” • Who let that happen:

“The U.S. government has lost its credibility. So it’s borrowing some of mine!”

“Journey” is one of those bullshit words:

* * *

And the retrospectives continue to pour in:

“Biden’s First Year: The Goals He Hit and the Ones He Missed” [Wall Street Journal]. “Heading deeper into a midterm election year, Mr. Biden’s ability to regain momentum may soon dwindle, with Republicans opposed to many of his efforts and Democrats, themselves split on some of the president’s priorities, increasingly focused on the campaign trail. With a narrow majority in the House of Representatives and a 50-50 split in the Senate, Democrats already have little room to maneuver. Polls have shown Americans’ view the nation as headed on the wrong track, and the president’s approval ratings have foundered in recent months, standing at 42% Wednesday, according to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregation of public polls, down from 53% when he took office. ‘They elected him for four years, not one year. And I think that we’ve gotten more done in a single year in terms of the volume of legislation passed, the size and the scope of it, than any president in history,’ White House chief of staff Ron Klain said.” • Democrats have entirely erased FDR from their collective memory. This is a remarkable achievement, especially considering that the FDR brought Democrats legislative majorities they can only dream of today.

“One Year Into His Presidency, Biden Hits a Wall. Can He Recover?” [Bloomberg]. “On the timeline imagined by the White House when he took office a year ago, widely available vaccines would have effectively ended the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S. by now. The economy would be growing strongly, and a narrowly divided Congress would have already passed the bulk of Biden’s agenda. With those mega-missions accomplished, the president could have spent 2022 focusing on voting rights, cutting ribbons on infrastructure projects, and telling Americans what he’d done to make their lives better—with vaccines, stimulus checks, and Great Society-scale investments in child care, education, and the fight against climate change. It’s just not, to put it mildly, how things have played out. Hard on the heels of the delta variant, omicron is now roiling the country. School closures and a shortage of tests are fueling Americans’ frustration and despair. Meanwhile, Biden’s Build Back Better bill has stalled over the objections of West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, leaving the president’s agenda in a rut.” • In other words, Biden’s Vax-only strategy was a disaster. Biden squandered a year. Plus he still owes me six hundred bucks. Commentary:

I really think it’s time to retire this talking point:

How is it even possibly for this to be a sincerely held belief? (If it were a mere talking point, you’d expect a better one to be invented. But we heard the same thing from Obama.)

* * *

“It’s Ron Klain’s turn in the barrel” [Politico]. ““The president was elected because we all thought he was going to be good at governing,” said a House Democratic lawmaker, who spoke candidly about Klain on condition of anonymity. “He was going to govern from the center, he was going to work with Republicans. And to have a chief of staff that apparently has decided that he’s going to be Bernie Sanders, I think that’s confusing. It’s just not helpful.” • The effrontery of these mediocrities. It is, precisely, moderates who are responsible gutting Biden’s agenda (such as it was). More: “In the first few months, Klain made it clear he embraced the view that Biden had a mandate to act boldly and only a small window in which to do so. He welcomed comparisons to the likes of FDR and LBJ. And Biden acted similarly, holding all 50 Senate Democrats together to pass the huge Covid-relief package that’s credited with helping turn around the U.S. economy, and standing up a robust vaccination campaign.” • The “robust vaccination campaign” was the Vax-only disaster. And the article helpfully fails to mention that one reason to pick Klain was that Klain was Obama’s ebola czar; he was supposed to know something about epidemics.

“With Broad Safety Net Bill Stalled, Democrats Weigh What to Salvage” [New York Times]. “President Biden’s concession this week that his marquee social safety net and climate package must be broken apart to have any hope of becoming law reignited a debate among Democrats over which pieces of the plan to prioritize as they work to salvage it.” • Apparently, the whole concept of passing it under reconciliation because nothing would pass individually has been abandoned. Oh well, nevertheless.

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog:


* * *

I dunno how the voters will feel, but on the Twitter, this guy is pitch perfect:


“Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn’t simple” [The Hill]. “2022 is a critical year for Donald Trump. By wading into primary race after primary race, he has put a vital asset on the line: the perception that he is a winner. A strong year for Trump will set the stage for running in 2024, an announcement he is clearly itching to make. So, how is Trump doing in the polls? Well, it’s a mixed bag…. Democratic voters are looking for someone other than Biden to carry their standard in 2024: 41 percent want “someone else,” while only 32 percent want Biden and 27 percent aren’t sure. But for the 68 percent of Democrats who’ve either gone off Biden or are at least starting to look around, there is not much to pick from…. Trump has generally pulled ahead of Biden in the 2024 ballot test…. When you dig into the numbers, he has significant problems. For one thing, his approval rating is just as bad as Biden’s. The latest FiveThirtyEight average has Trump at 43 percent approval. In addition, most Americans don’t want to see Trump run again — even more than oppose a Biden candidacy. According to YouGov, 59 percent do not want Trump to run, while 57 percent are against Biden running. In that same YouGov poll, 30 percent of Republicans want someone other than Trump to seek the GOP nomination — which points to a worrying trend among Republican voters. Simply put, Trump’s support is not as strong as it seems…. More concerning for Trump is how much his primary test vote falls off from his approval ratings. Trump sees a 25-point to 35-point fall-off from his approval ratings when Republicans are asked if they actually want to vote for him. … What makes these numbers really problematic for Trump is that there is virtually no public opposition to him among high-profile Republicans…. What makes these numbers really problematic for Trump is that there is virtually no public opposition to him among high-profile Republicans.” • Hence Trump going after DeSantis. So far, he hasn’t invented a nickname that sticks….

Big if true:

The account and the retweeting account look OK, but digital evidence is not evidence….

“NYC Mayor Adams to Convert First Paycheck to Bitcoin, Ethereum via Coinbase” [Bloomberg]. • The man is going places. We just don’t know where!

Republican Funhouse

“Who’s “Cleaning” Our Voter Rolls? Soros Founded and Funded ERIC Is Now Used In 31 States” [Gateway Pundit]. “The ERIC database is comprehensive and would be one of the most coveted by bad actors looking to influence an election. Member States must not only submit all details on inactive and active voters to ERIC every 60 days. But they must also provide every individual in their states Motor Vehicle Department database, both licensed and ID recipients. This combo of data is breathtaking. It’s everyone who could generate a legal ballot. It includes those approaching voting age, even those here illegally yet issued an ID by their left leaning State. This data includes names, addresses, DOB, License #, last 4 of social #, voter activity, phone, email, title and type of citizenship documentation, and much more! ERIC doesn’t just manage lists, they demand action. But it’s not the action you would expect, like cleaning voter rolls. ERIC provides each member State a targeted list of people that are not registered to vote. The Membership Bylaws require the State to contact at least 95% of these people within 90 days, soliciting them to register.” • So, technically, this data structure is superior to the Republican CrossCheck voter data? Which, ludicrously, the article defends. (CrossCheck assumes a one-to-one relation between database name and person? (Which you know from your own life is absurd: Middle initials, misspellings, Jr. v. Junior; there is an entire line of business devoted to cleaning this data, which CrossCheck ignored.) But, more: “Oddly, ERIC has no requirement or mandate that member States clean up their voter rolls. States are only “strongly encouraged” to request ERIC’s voter updates at least once a year. If a member fails to make a request in 425 days, the data will be sent automatically. What’s even more odd, and seemingly corrupt, is that ERIC does NOT want to know who is voting illegally. Their rules explain that “Under no circumstances shall the members transmit any record indicating an individual is a non-citizen of the U.S.” as stated in Exhibit A, 2b. If ERIC hears no evil, then they see no evil.”

2020 Post Mortem

“New Filings Reveal Another Billionaire Behind the Big Lie” [Daily Beast]. “It’s usually the images of a violent mob attacking the U.S. Capitol that are associated with the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. But as more financial records become public, another image is emerging—of billionaires in MAGA gear writing large checks. And one billionaire in particular. Among the ranks of ‘dark money’ groups and anonymous megadonors who bankrolled the effort is a familiar name in GOP fundraising circles: Dick Uihlein, founder of the multinational Uline shipping company. According to tax disclosures first published online by the Center for Media and Democracy, Uihlein’s nonprofit—the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation—poured millions of dollars in 2020 into a sprawling number of groups connected to efforts to challenge Joe Biden’s victory and reimagine election law, as well as other right-wing extremist organizations, including ones designated as hate groups. And the money is pure Uihlein—the foundation’s $16.8 million in 2020 donations came exclusively from Dick Uihlein himself. And over the course of that pivotal year, the organization gave it all away.” • Ooooh, a family office?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Newsom backs away from single-payer health care pledge” [CalMatters]. “When he unveiled a new state budget last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom crowed about California becoming the nation’s first state to embrace universal health care coverage. His budget would accomplish that goal by extending state Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants of all ages, beginning in 2024. ‘I campaigned on universal health care,’ Newsom said a day later. ‘We’re delivering that.’ Not quite. While running for governor in 2018, Newsom pledged to create a single-payer system for California, making the state the sole supplier of coverage.” • The party of betrayal. And falsely equating single payer and universal coverage is one of the most well-thumbed pages in the liberal Democrat anti-single payer playbook.


Case count by United States regions:

Bouncy bouncy, all this week. Starting to look like peak behavior. If you look at previous peaks, you’ll see we’ve had declines, followed by rises, followed by final declines.That said, it would sure be nice if “rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick” applied, but we can’t know that yet. Previous peaks — how small the early ones look now — have been roughly symmetrical on either side. But the scale of this peak, and the penetration into the population, is unprecedented.

The official narrative that “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) was completely exploded. What a surprise!

* * *

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging, though let’s see what happens when the students come back.

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.

* * *

For wastewater stans:

“How Wastewater Became a COVID Crystal Ball” [New York Magazine]. “[W\]ith the seven-day average of COVID cases rocketing toward 1 million, it’s striking that Biobot Analytic’s data suggests a national undercount. ‘From summer 2020 to fall 2021, we saw a consistent correlation between wastewater concentration and clinical counts of cases,’ says Matus. But that correlation broke in December, when the more transmissible Omicron variant began to dominate in the U.S. At the moment, Matus estimates that ‘there’s the most undercounting of cases at least since the summer of 2020,’ when sewage monitoring of COVID began to be implemented at scale. While the company cannot quantify exactly how large the undercount is, Matus says that ‘however much we were undercounting before Omicron, we are now undercounting five times more.'”

“Wastewater Samples Help Researchers Monitor Nursing Home for COVID-19 Outbreak” (press release) [San Francisco Water Power Sewer]. “[A]t a large skilled nursing facility in San Francisco… the SFPUC sampled the wastewater. Samples were taken every 15 minutes for 24 hours a day, two days a week. They were then delivered to UC Berkeley for rapid analysis. The wastewater data was also used by the nursing facility to corroborate the clinical testing they performed on their staff and residents. Staff at the nursing facility compared data from their clinical testing with data from the wastewater testing. This helped the facility determine whether they had successfully identified and quarantined all infected individuals identified by clinical testing.”

“Feature Article: S&T Joins Coalition Seeking to ‘Flush’ out COVID-19 in Wastewater” (press release) [Department of Homeland Security]. “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently joined a multiagency WBE initiative that will not only gather virus data from sewer systems but standardize the science. The coalition is led by the CDC National Wastewater Surveillance System, whose goal is to turn sewers into health monitors. CDC is also collaborating with the Department of Health and Human Services and agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and DHS, to accelerate the WBE research. The goal is to better understand the spread of the virus in communities to contain and defeat it.”

“Spatial and temporal distribution of SARS-CoV-2 diversity circulating in wastewater” [Water Resources]. From the Abstract: “The present study focuses on the genomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in 76 sewage samples collected during the three epidemiological waves that occurred in Spain from 14 wastewater treatment plants distributed throughout the country. The results obtained demonstrate that the metagenomic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater allows the detection of mutations that define the B.1.1.7 lineage and the ability of the technique to anticipate the detection of certain mutations before they are detected in clinical samples. The study proves the usefulness of sewage sequencing to track Variants of Concern that can complement clinical testing to help in decision-making and in the analysis of the evolution of the pandemic.”

* * *

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Really good news in the Northeast, a relapse in the Midwest. (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.

The previous release:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Very encouraging. I added green for the states trending down. And dark green for states dropping straight down. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 883,903 880,976. I have added an anti-triumphalist black “Fauci Line.”

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too. For the time being.

Excess deaths:

Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the enormous typo, helpfully highlighted, which was there last week too. I know the CDC copy editing process is slow, but this is ridiculous.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

Shipping: “Yantian restricts container entry to ease overflow” [Splash 247]. “With containers overflowing in and out of its borders, the operators of Yantian terminal, the largest port facility in Shenzhen, have from today ruled that full containers can only be trucked in four days before vessels are due to berth. Shenzhen, the world’s fourth largest container port, is suffering from severe congestion just ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, exacerbated by recent Covid-19 outbreaks that have seen parts of the city forced into lockdown. Ships arriving at Yantian are currently having to wait around one week for a berth space. According to Kuehne+Nagel’s global congestion map, as of Wednesday, Shenzhen was the third most congested port complex in the world after Los Angeles and Long Beach in southern California and Shanghai and Ningbo on China’s east coast. New analysis published today by British risk management firm Russell Group suggests port congestion at Shanghai is costing an estimated $4.5bn a week in lost trade.”

Shipping: “Crew-change issues likely to persist amid travel restrictions” [Lloyd’s List]. “Crew changes will remain problematic this year as stringent travel restrictions remain in place aimed at containing the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus strain. The International Maritime Employers’ Council said it has obtained the support of different United Nations agencies, including the International Maritime Organization, for an easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions. ‘But dealing with and getting the support of concerned governments, including those in traditional crew change hubs like Singapore, is much more difficult,’ said IMEC chief executive officer Francesco Gargiulo. ‘The situation today is far from healthy and it’s very difficult to repatriate seafarers to the Philippines, India, China and Indonesia because of travel restrictions.’ A case in point is Singapore, which no longer allows polymerase chain reaction tests for coronavirus for seafarers who are returning to their countries. As a result of this policy, the island state can no longer be used as a transit point for returning seafarers, said Mr Gargiulo. Chinese seafarers also cannot return to their country unless they take direct flights home after which they are subjected to a three-week quarantine.” • See NC on crew change here.

The Bezzle: “Once billed as a revolution in medicine, IBM’s Watson Health is sold off in parts” [STAT]. “IBM said Friday it will sell the core data assets of its Watson Health division to a San Francisco-based private equity firm, marking the staggering collapse of its ambitious artificial intelligence effort that failed to live up to its promises to transform everything from drug discovery to cancer care. Data and analytics assets held by the health business, which was not profitable, were sold to Francisco Partners as IBM seeks to refocus its business on cloud computing and AI services to help clients in multiple industries build machine learning tools and secure and manage their data. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.” • Oopsie.

The Bezzle: “Neuralink, Musk’s brain chip company planning human clinical trials” [Al Mayadeen]. “[Musk] claims people should conceive technology as ‘replacing faulty/missing neurons with circuits.'” • “Faulty,” you say….

“Was the Viral Metaverse Rave Fun? An Investigation” [Vice]. No: “On Thursday morning, Alex Moss, a member of the Mutant Ape Yacht Club and CTO of an NFT company, tweeted a video from a ‘live rave happening right now in Decentraland.’ ‘This is the metaverse,” he said. The video quickly went viral because it shows a bunch of avatars aimlessly shuffling and standing around doing nothing on a ‘dance floor’—a bleak view of fun in the so-called metaverse.” • At least with the NBA metaverse, the only reason you’re there is that you don’t have the money to be where you really want to be.


* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 43 Fear (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 21 at 1:19pm.

Our Famously Free Press

“China Holds the Line on ‘Zero Covid,’ but Some Wonder for How Long” [New York Times]. “Many in China support the zero-Covid strategy, which may have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and which has allowed most people to live fairly normally during the pandemic. But the recent outbreaks have led to frustration and grumbling as more and more people have been caught up in the virus-control dragnet.” • “Frustration and grumbling.” Oh the humanity! The anti-Zero Covid propaganda, uniform across the mainstream, is incredibly thick right now, no doubt in preparation for the Olympics.

Health Care

Government should not be run like a business:

That the left isn’t screaming that free vax, free mask, free test is all a proof-of-concept for single payer…. I mean, not even the actual left is doing this.

“Why big data didn’t deliver on its big promises to combat Covid-19” [STAT]. “‘You have this really, really large, opaque ecosystem of companies which generate, buy, sell, and modify these datasets,’ said Nishant Kishore, who worked in the lab of Caroline Buckee, another of the [the Covid-19 Mobility Data Network’s] leaders. Kishore, who worked closely with public health authorities using the network’s data, said that while it’s useful to researchers to have that data available, ‘unfortunately, what is collected is decided by entities whose priorities are different than that of the general public health.’ Data collection and analysis is typically optimized for maximum commercial impact, not public health.” • Kidding, right?

Zeitgeist Watch

Sheep may safely graze:

“It Won’t Be January Forever” [Molly Jong-Fast, Vogue]. “It will not stay January forever, it can’t. Time ticks away, seasons blend into each other, the warm weather will come back, days will get longer. There will be melting ice-cream and eating outdoors, and the warm sun on your shoulders. There will be walks in the park and movies and puppies. It won’t always be this gray. Eventually we’ll properly bury our dead and mourn them the way humanity has since inception. We’ll build monuments and hold ceremonies just like we’ve done for other tragedies. We’ll continue on. We’ll do it because there aren’t any other choices and because that’s what we do. Living through a pandemic is hard and painful, but my great-great-grandfather was murdered in a hayloft for being Jewish. We don’t get to choose the pieces of history that we experience. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow or even later this afternoon but I do know there will be spring, there always is.” • Puppies? Really? I mean, logically, I agree with the writer, but puppies? Melting ice cream?

Class Warfare

“‘That’s live TV’: Reporter hit by car during live shot quickly gets back on camera to wrap story” [USA Today]. • Some working conditions you’ve got there.

News of the Wired

“Two-thirds of passengers on first flight to Covid-free Kiribati diagnosed with virus” [Guardian]. “After remaining Covid-free for the entirety of the pandemic, Kiribati has reopened its borders – only for two thirds of the passengers on the first international flight to arrive in ten months to test positive for the virus. The island nation is now set to impose a four-day lockdown from Monday after the virus was found to have spread into the community.” • Maybe at some point we’re going to figure out that air travel is really a problem?

You would have thought?

Australia, but it might as well be here.

“Indignity Vol. 2, No. 5: Cash Rules Editing Around Me” [Indignity]. “Our “$” is like a word, but not exactly. It’s not enough like a word, as any editor can tell you, to prevent people from turning in copy with things like ‘$1 million dollars’ in it. It doesn’t go where the word goes, the way an ampersand or a percentage sign does, but before it, where it leaves writers confused. … [T]he $ is so invisibly fixed in the background that even as banal observations go viral all the time, Google as of this writing can’t find “Money has its own punctuation” anywhere on the internet… But it shapes one’s thinking, doesn’t it? It gives the dollar a default level of formality or respect in writing. If you want to say ‘twenty bucks,’ or that you tipped somebody ‘a five,’ you have to consciously decide not to use the standard punctuation. What other feature of everyday life gets this treatment?”

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

A Maine pond.

Bonus plant (SV):

SV writes: “Another By-laws appeal, inspired by CV’S plantidote. Except Lettuce is kind of visible. I’d love to hear a scientific explanation of the phenomenon a friend calls frost faeries.” Readers?

* * *

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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. Samuel Conner

    > Hence Trump going after DeSantis. So far, he hasn’t invented a nickname that sticks…

    Not exactly a nickname, more of an aphorism, but it’s a nice riff on the FL governor’s name:

    “Don resents us”

    1. griffen

      “You know I just heard this from OAN but I’m going with their version. Not only does little Ron kick puppies but he also has fed them to his pet snake, a big python named Dave. What a stupid guy, naming his pet.”

      So you know story like that gotta be true! I’m the 45th president emeritus and I approved this dumb-assery. Wait it isn’t an emeritus. Damn it Rudy.

  2. Glen

    Just listened to a discussion on NPR about “what’s wrong with Democratic party messaging”, and cannot help but think that’s what’s wrong. How about passing laws and signing Executive Orders instead? Another round of “we’re not them and we mean well” makes me reach back into the memory hole and think Democrats are all sizzle and no steak.

    1. cocomaan

      I’m sorry to hear you had to experience that. Hopefully you weren’t listening in the car, your eyes rolling into the back of your head isn’t good for safe driving.

    2. PHLDenizen

      Both parties sneer at the lower castes as being lazy and unmotivated — such is the rationale given for their circumstances. “Messaging” is one of the laziest, intellectually bankrupt endeavors on the face of the earth. God forbid they roll in the muck and do hard work.

      Steve Jobs was a dickhead, but at least he got into the trenches so that he had something worth marketing.

      Jony Ive and Biden are soulmates. Both interested in making things as thin as possible. In Joe’s case, his signature legislation that Manchin keeps whittling away at.

      1. KLG

        “Jony Ive and Biden are soulmates.” Indeed. My 2018 MacBook Air is a total POS. Hard drive died after less than a year (Apple Care took care of that; the left shift key is worn through, as are the “E” and “L,” and the trackpad has stopped working, probably because the battery is swelling as it ages (two months after Apple Care expired). Was this made by the same people who brought us the Corvair, the Pinto, the Pacer, and the Vega? Wiki is ready for the youngsters on that one. I’m buying a “used” 2020 MacBook Air from my local computer store tomorrow. And after that weaning from myself from Apple with all deliberate speed. Bye, Tim! You might make $100M a year, but your company sucks. And I hear that my favorite Apple Store at Union Square is overrun with the un-housed and the over-drugged. Didn’t think that could get worse, but I was mistaken.

  3. fresno dan

    President Biden: “I did not anticipate that there would be such a stalwart effort to make sure that the most important thing was that President Biden didn’t get anything done.”

    IF sincerely said, it indicates a delusional perspective indicative of brain damage. If insincerely said, it just affirms that the entire US political structure is a Potemkin village. Speaking of delusional, why do Americans think voting for a dem or repub means anything?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It still stems from brain damage, but white man status which Biden, the guy who loves to remind us a grandparent was Irish, probably treasures might factor in more than I realized.

        Biden may not be able to conceive what they said about Kerry, Gore, Edwards, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy (though they probably had a point), Clinton, that doofus who ran and lost twice Clinton would ever happen to Joe, a white man. After all, the Republicans are really nice in person. Who has ever heard of a friendly politician? Biden must be particularly special.

        The idea of the GOP fever breaking has certainly been discussed ad nauseam by the brain damaged.

    1. Pat

      Well, short term memory is the first thing to go. That coupled with narcissism could make Biden’s statement sincere. Only partly snark, he is that narcissistic.

      He is just falling back on the go to excuse for the Obama administration. We would be doing great things if it weren’t for the mean republicans. All the while totally ignoring the opportunities they had and the ones they not just screwed up but actively sabotaged, and hoping nobody notices.

    2. Samuel Conner

      > stalwart

      This strikes me as improper use of the word. Would “determined” be better?

      Also, I think that ‘stalwart’ has favorable connotations.

      OTOH, gridlock is ‘no fundamental change’, so perhaps the favorable connotation reflected the speaker’s view of things.

      1. albrt

        The senators from the crowded states mostly suck. The only really good Senator, Bernie Sanders, is from a near empty state.

        I reject your hypothesis.

  4. Jeff W

    “…falsely equating single payer and universal payer…”

    “Universal payer”? Do you mean “universal health coverage”?

    1. Hubert

      Universal coverage meaning those that don’t pay full prices, are partially or totally subsidized by taxpayers, i.e. the poor, especially legal and illegal “migrants”, who now are encouraged to vote in local and regional elections, next step, state elections, to further consolidate Democratic Party power.

      Newsom can’t raise taxes anymore. Population of California is shrinking, you know, the productive ones that pay 12% state income taxes on income, plus same on capital gains, they are fleeing the state, and being replaced with illegals and some legals. Aerospace engineer and wife replaced with ditch digger and his 5 children. All subsidized by remaining engineers. Gee, how long can that go on?

      The Democrat Bienvenido a la Reconquista continues.

      1. CostcoPizza

        A high tax state with arguably little to show for it. A dem supermajority in state politics with arguably little to show for it.

  5. allan

    “Some working conditions you’ve got there.” …

    … and some pay scales. Here is a Google Drive self-reported survey of salaries in TV/Multimedia Journalism.

    First they came for the adjuncts, and I said nothing.
    Then they came for the TV reporters, and I said nothing.
    Then they came for …

  6. flora

    re: “[Musk] claims people should conceive technology as ‘replacing faulty/missing neurons with circuits.’” • “Faulty,” you say….

    Elon Musk as Basil Fawlty. / heh

    1. flora

      I see IBM is selling its Watson Health for parts. Maybe Basil can find a good deal, if Elizabeth Holmes doesn’t get there first. / ;)

    2. Mikel

      The problem is “faulty/missing neurons” conceiving of replacing “faulty/missing neurons”….

      1. Hepativore

        I have seen several videos talking about how the Neuralink concept is entirely bogus in terms of the supposed science it is based on. However, because it is being promoted by the Great Prophet Elon Musk, all of his fanboys in the media and elsewhere are obligated to act as if we are being granted divine knowledge from beyond our mortal plane.

        Let’s face it, though…the real reason for the Neuralink is for the purposes of data collection as well as permanent surveillance that you simply cannot leave behind unlike a cellular phone. I am sure that employers as well as various government alphabet agencies are drooling over the fact that they can keep tabs on people at all times even more easily as Neuralink is most likely going to be an always-on geolocation device.

        Imagine a world where employers will refuse to hire people without said devices, as they can use it to ping employees whereabouts to see if they have attended any sort of labor protests or union rallies and then terminate their employment on the spot, remotely.

  7. fresno dan

    Laura Ingraham expressed regret over her support of the Iraq war on Thursday night.

    The Fox News host was speaking with Glenn Greenwald about rising tensions in eastern Europe, where Russia has amassed its military on the eastern border of Ukraine. There is concern that Russia could invade the country, just as it did in 2014 and annexed Crimea by force.
    A growing bipartisan chorus in Washington has urged President Joe Biden to stand up to Russia by various means to protect Ukrainian sovereignty.
    Ingraham said she is wary of the escalating rhetoric.
    “Tonight, members of Congress from both parties are telling Fox that they believe Russia is likely to invade Ukraine,” she said. “And I do get the sense that the D.C. beltway, inside-the-beltway crowd is desperate for another U.S. military engagement.”
    Greenwald asked, “The question every American should be asking is, why do I care about the borders of Ukraine enough to risk American treasure when we have so many problems at home?”

    “I think if you did a national poll,” responded Ingraham, “it’d be like one percent – I mean, if that – that actually wanted to spend American treasure and potentially lives in Ukraine. You know, as much as we might love the Ukrainian people, this is Europe’s conflict if they want to fight.”
    Well Laura, better late than never about Iraq I guess. NOW, if only the people who were against the Iraq war who appear on CNN and MSNBC could figure out that the war mongering against Russia is as contrived as the war mongering against Iraq was….but I guess that is not how American media rolls…

    1. DeKalb

      Money saving tip for Biden/Harris;

      Spend the next 200 billion worrying about America’s border integrity, instead of that of Ukraine. Stop the flow of illegals across the much closer to the U.S., Mexican border. The money saved in welfare, schools, crime, and offset by higher taxes on better paid employed Americans would more than pay for border enforcement.

      Also, there’s no danger of a Mexican border enforcement escalating deliberately or accidentally into thermonuclear war.

      What’s worse? Paying a few more cents for a head of lettuce, or your children being burned to death on the outer edge of the blast zones?

      1. ambrit

        Unfortunately, there is a class of person who sincerely believe that it will be someone else’s children so incinerated, not theirs. Doubly unfortunate is the fact that a large part of this demographic hold positions of power and influence in American politics.
        Your argument is rational and sensible. The “leadership” cadres in America have shown themselves, time and time again, to be irrational and delusional. I believe that the affliction that they suffer from is called Magical Thinking.

        1. tegnost

          Trying to think of a PMC in my acquaintance who does not make use of laborers originally from south of the border and coming up empty. That would be bidens base…and in DeKalbs scenario the .gov spends money to keep numbers of immigrants down while said PMC is expected to pay more for labor…

          1. ambrit

            I would make a distinction between modern style PMCs and good old fashioned Labour Exploiters. The latter dearly love them some cheap illegal labour. Years ago, said cheap labour wasn’t even illegal, just plentiful. The two groups have some overlap, but not congruence. What most PMCs do not understand is that said Old Fashioned Labour Exploiters will happily practice their dark arts against the PMCs if there is money to be made thereby. IT Green Cards anyone?
            It has been mentioned before that the real beginnings of revolutionary fervour happen when elites fall out. Today, that should be when segments of the PMC Continuum realize that they are next on the chopping block. One can Dream.

      2. marym

        “The Biden administration continues to rapidly expel most people encountered at the border. In the first five full months of the Biden administration, 64% of all people encountered by the Border Patrol were expelled under Title 42…While unaccompanied children and some families at the border have been allowed to come into the country and challenge their deportation in immigration court, they represent just 28% of total apprehensions over that period.

        As a result, significantly fewer people are being admitted into the United States and placed into normal deportation proceedings when compared to 2019, even when considering the increased numbers of single adults and a record number of unaccompanied children crossing the border…”

        “Overall, in FY 2021, there were 1.72 million CBP encounters that resulted in either expulsion under the CDC’s Title 42 public health authority or processing as Title 8 immigration enforcement cases (“enforcement encounters”). The Department completed 1.2 million repatriations, including expulsions under Title 42 and removals under Title 8, which represents a 15-year high that is more than two-and-a-half times as many repatriations as in FY 2020.”

        “Based on data supplied by CBP, the criminal illegal immigrant proportion of all encounters along the border are lower in FY2021 than in previous years despite the large increase in the number of encounters. Illegal immigration is a serious problem that imposes high costs on Americans and migrants, but it does not pose a serious criminal threat.”

        Totally agree that the US should not intervene in Ukraine.

    2. ambrit

      Yeah, and the outright lies trotted out as “goodthink” in that short excerpt you put up is breathtakingly depressing.
      Such as the “fact” that America has two legacy political parties. [See Gore Vidal on that.]
      Whoever ‘wrote’ this for the websource threw in the whopper that Russia annexed the Crimea by force. Uh, what about the plebescite in the Crimea before the ‘annexation?’
      The Ingraham ‘explanation’ for the warmongering was inadvertantly truthful; “it’d be like one percent — I mean, if that — that actually wanted to spend American treasure and potentislly lives in Ukraine.” There it is, it’s the ‘One Percent’ calling the shots.
      Heaven help us when an Arliegh Burke class missile destroyer is sent to the bottom of the Black Sea.
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arleigh_Burke-class_destroyer
      I personally will welcome the Great Yellow (Peril) Fleet when it stops off at Gulf Coast ports of call during it’s World Cruise. I seem to remember an earlier World Cruise by something called the Great White Fleet, which was promoting a new Imperial Hegemon back a hundred and fifteen years ago.
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_White_Fleet
      What goes around, comes around.

  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    I am in favor of frost faeries. What other explanation is required?

    According to Wikipedia, the phenomenon seems to be a special case of hoar frost, as it affects glass: To quote >

    “Window frost (also called fern frost or ice flowers) forms when a glass pane is exposed to very cold air on the outside and warmer, moderately moist air on the inside. If the pane is a bad insulator (for example, if it is a single-pane window), water vapour condenses on the glass, forming frost patterns.”

    So it has to do with a temperature differential it seems–and frost faeries would be in charge of such differential, natch.

    1. petal

      Have been taking photos of the frost patterns on my car windshield for several years now. Some of them are beautiful and strangely peaceful, especially in the early morning light.

      1. Janie

        In childhood with wood framed and single pane windows, Jack Frost visited a few times each winter, especially the kitchen window. Mother didn’t want water dripping on the wood sill, and Dad would head for the caulk. I would beg them to leave it; the patterns were enchanting.

  9. Jason Boxman

    IBM Watson had a huge office right in East Cambridge MA that must be completely whacked by this. That’s too bad.

  10. Art_DogCT

    This snip from the Jong-Fast Vogue piece, “but I do know there will be spring, there always is” brought this to mind:

    From Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine


    THESE BRIGHT AND precious remnants soon must wither.
    They bloom beyond their time—and so do I.
    Dry winter comes; there will be no more flowers,
    and I—I cannot live to see the spring.
    Yet still I water them. My feeble strength
    Can barely lift the jar filled just halfway;
    The thirsty earth drinks down, absorbs, and mocks
    The paltry moisture that I dribble out,
    And winter laughs at me and marches closer,
    Casting his shadow darker every day.
    But I must labor, putting off the hour
    When the last blossom drops, and no more bloom;
    Though no one else will do it, I must tend
    This useless acre, full of useless things
    We cannot eat or burn, or build or kill with,
    Only because there once was beauty here;
    And though I shall not live beyond the winter,
    Yet still I know by faith there will be spring.


    I’ve no idea how I came to find Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine, back in the internet wilds of the Aughts. Much of the content I recall was delightfully weird. This poem is not in the least weird, and I’ve loved it since I first read it. Lines 13-16 are particularly meaningful for me.

  11. MonkeyBusiness

    A little bit click baity in my opinion: https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/A-professor-said-her-students-think-average-16791387.php

    “The question asked by Nina Strohminger to her students at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania was straightforward: What did they think the average American makes in annual wages?”

    “I asked Wharton students what they thought the average American worker makes per year and 25% of them thought it was over six figures,” she tweeted late Wednesday. “One of them thought it was $800k.”

    Presumably the other 75% knew the correct answer?

  12. Dr. John Carpenter

    There’s already one of those exact Trump 2024 flags flying in my neck of the woods. I first noticed it a few weeks ago and had to do a double take to check the year. (There’s a lot of people around here who never took the old Trump campaign signs down.)

    1. Coleen

      Saw one with

      LGBT in thick spaced out black letters and getting closer to it could read the smaller grey letters which spelled out

      “Let’s Go Brandon Today!

      Below that
      “Rumps for Trump”

      Guess they’re not going to support “bring me the Mayonaise” Pete?

      1. ambrit

        Hmmm… We could make up a “Campaign Film” for Pete and call it “Last Tango in South Bend.”

  13. Glossolalia

    Bill Maher: “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over”

    Covid reporting is a profit center now, thus it will not be going away anytime soon.

  14. curlydan

    So two articles in today’s Water Cooler about Big Data failures: IBM’s Watson Health and then the idea that Big Data was going to save or crack the code on Covid.

    Watson was both a joke to those who tried to implement it and possibly the most effective marketing campaign for a terrible product.

    And Big Data might as well be called a Big Mess, especially in our crappy, fragmented healthcare system. It wasn’t surprising to see that most of the issues were the messiness and incompatibility of the data sets. In data analysis, there’s a rule that about 90% of the time is spent in data collection and clean up. The other 10% (at most) is the analysis and modeling. And most of the time, there’s no “there” there after all that cleanup.

  15. Tom Stone

    I know that Reagan was propped up for his last 2 years or so in office despite full blown Alzheimer’s, however I’m not at all sure the same can be done for Biden.
    The speech and the presser both revealed how frail and incoherent he has become, both given after he was rested,extensively briefed and shot up with whatever happy juice his handlers have chosen.
    Harris was chosen as a form of life insurance, as most recent VP’s have been.
    Get rid of Bush, you get Cheney, get rid of Obama and you get Joe from MBNA, get rid of Badass Joe and you get Kamala “The people’s choice” Harris.
    There may not be much choice soon because Badass Joe is very frail and the next time they shoot him full of happy juice for a performance he may very well stroke out on National TV.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      You never know. If Biden does stroke out — instead of Kamala — they might just have Biden stuffed, add strings, and find a ventriloquist who can mimic his voice.

      1. MLK

        Have you ever seen Dave (1993 movie)? I enjoyed it as a young teenager when I was starting to learn more about what government is and how it works. I have no idea if it has held up well. The film is a slightly dark comedy where a body double for the President becomes the acting president.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I have seen and very much enjoyed the movie “Dave”. My favorite part is where he quips about catching a fish “this big” while hooked in with some long and large robot arms. The plot of a counterfeit replacing the real in Dave reminded me of the story of Kagamusha and of course the Kurosawa movie of that story. Unfortunately, thinking of Biden reminds me of Disney’s “Pinocchio”. Biden seems like a poor man’s, a very poor man’s, replica of George Bush, which leaves me thankful there is no replica of the George Bush-Dick Cheney, ‘Charlie McCarthy-Edgar Bergen’ team. Kamala is definitely not up to any role beyond smiling and looking ‘?’, and Biden lacks the style and charm of Charlie McCarthy. Kermit for President and Vice President? He is ‘Green’ after all.

            1. John

              Robert Heinlein’s novel, Double Star IIRC, written in the 1950s has the same plot, space opera elements aside.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Also a favourite of mine. I think that a lot of his political campaigning experience in the 1930s made its way into that novel. From Wikipedia-

                ‘Heinlein was active in Upton Sinclair’s socialist End Poverty in California movement (EPIC) in the early 1930s. He was deputy publisher of the EPIC News, which Heinlein noted “recalled a mayor, kicked out a district attorney, replaced the governor with one of our choice.” When Sinclair gained the Democratic nomination for Governor of California in 1934, Heinlein worked actively in the campaign. Heinlein himself ran for the California State Assembly in 1938, but was unsuccessful. Heinlein was running as a left-wing Democrat in a conservative district, and he never made it past the Democratic primary.’

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  I had no idea that this would be Heinlein’s backstory. Leguin and Heinlein would have gotten along just fine! (And under all the recipes for beans, Leguin is just as “hard” a science fiction writer as Heinlein.)

                  1. Mark Gisleson

                    There’s a piece missing from this story (and I don’t know what it is). Heinlein was a notorious Libertarian. That he did a 180° from his youthful support of Lewis doesn’t surprise me. Most of the blue collar socialists I know started life as Republicans.

                    Whatever happened to Heinlein (WWII?) had a profound effect. I don’t know how you go from door knocking for Sinclair Lewis to helping L. Ron Hubbard brainstorm the beginnings of Scientology, but that seems to be what Heinlein did.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I think it holds up. The politics is fairly tight. I feel like “Wag The Dog” never really got how bad it could be. “Dave” stats focused. The villains are covering up lies and running for reelection. Oliver Stone has a great cameo.

          It’s a more upbeat than Bulworth, but it’s a good dopey. Confession. It’s one of my all time favorites. I may not see it rationally.

          The name escapes me, but I think the director, Ivan Reitman, would have been perfect to direct that Afghanistan war movie on Netflix.

          Despite claims about the president’s realmasters, I think it shows how much it matters what the president says and dioes.

        3. Romancing the Loan

          I actually just re-watched it and in my opinion it holds up very well. The casting and acting are perfect. While you’re at it, re-watch Sneakers too.

            1. The Rev Kev

              I’d nominate the 1972 film “The Candidate” with Robert Redford. In it, he makes a social welfare speech and when you think about it, it might as well have been delivered just last year for all the effectiveness that it would have had. Just rinse and repeat-

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmltOTdkIxw (2:35 mins)

        1. ambrit

          I’ll bite. How many times should we watch “Rashomon?”
          Terran humans would be wise to reflect upon the fact that Kurosawa was a veteran of the Japanese war effort in the WW-2.
          His penultimate film, “Rhapsody in August” shows this clearly.

      2. albrt

        What makes you think they have not already had Biden stuffed, added strings, and found a ventriloquist who can mimic his voice?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > What makes you think they have not already had Biden stuffed, added strings, and found a ventriloquist who can mimic his voice?

          This is more or less the state of the Presidency in Philip K. Dick’s The Simulacra. Interestingly:

          Society is stratified into ‘Ges’ (German Geheimnisträger, “bearers of the secret” (the elite)) and ‘Bes’ (German Befehlsträger, “implementers of instruction” (professional and artisanal)) classes. Political and broadcast media power are highly consolidated. The Democratic and Republican parties have merged to become the ‘Democrat-Republican Party’ and the networks have amalgamated into the ‘United Triadic Network’.

          Actual political power has devolved to a permanent First Lady, Nicole Thibodeaux, whose consorts are a series of male presidents – die Alten. The current Alte, Rudi Kalbfleisch, is a simulacrum. Since the death of the original “Nicole”, her role has been portrayed by four consecutive human actors, the latest of which is Kate Rupert. This is the Geheimnis (secret), possession of which ensures the conferral of elite Ges status. A secretive governing council controls the USEA; the manufacturer of the current der Alte-simulacrum, exerts some influence.

          Seems familiar, somehow.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Jill just needs to find a good astrologer. We will be in better hands than we have been since Reagan — ugh! that thought could transform me into a doomer.

  16. deplorado

    Reposting this from yesterday, for those who might have missed the late WC:

    Birdsong lessons!


    Lucy Lapwing @Lucy_Lapwing
    So excited (& nervous) to announce my new YouTube series: #Birdsong Lessons with Lucy Lapwing!!
    Lockdown’s naff, but we can use the time to learn the voices behind birds BirdMultiple musical notes Hopefully this can help! Watch Episode 1: Introduction here

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Please reconsider your notion of missing the late WC. Images conjured from missing the late W.C. are not pleasant. Water Cooler is a case where the use of acronyms is not a good idea.

  17. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Ed Uihlein Family Foundation and Lambert’s “ Ooooh, a family office

    The foundation is a 501c(3), and is limited in it’s ability to be involved in politics. As such they might be crossing a line if they “poured millions of dollars in 2020 into a sprawling number of groups connected to efforts to challenge Joe Biden’s victory and reimagine election law,

    Tax returns for all 501c(3) organizations, including private foundations, are required to be publicly available (I use guidestar.org as my go-to source, free signup), and for those interested in this sort of thing, I would recommend looking at Part VII-A, questions 1a and 1b on a foundation’s 990-PF tax return as a start. The diligent can then turn to page 26 of Uihlein’s 2020 return and consider whether the list of supported organizations might cause the answers in #1 to be incorrect.

    For the wealthy, a private foundation is often part of the overall ‘family office’ setup, typically to coordinate and consolidate charitable contributions and manage their distribution (grant applications & assessments, funds distribution, follow up, paperwork, etc.) and occasionally, provide employment to some family member who might otherwise be unemployable with an interest in helping the world through charitable activities.

    When they’re run correctly, they’re just fine, but the certainly can be a vehicle for significant game playing with money. (Disclosure: I’m the treasurer for a very small one (less than $2m assets) – not related to a family office though.)

    1. Flyover Boy

      Uihlein was also a pretty heavy-duty contributor to the successful campaign against taxing the rich attempted by Illinois’ Democrat Gov. Pritzker.

      As an aside, his wife has a big day-to-day role in running the Uline family shipping business, and I have it on good authority that she personally is gratuitously cruel to the help. One person close to that situation described her as “Leona Helmsley without the charm.”

    1. Kari

      My antivirus software is being kicked into high gear by that site and won’t let me open it.

      Has it been hacked?

  18. dcblogger

    it was only a question of time:
    ‘Boycotting’ Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin’s Funders Could Help Voter Rights: MLK III

    I think the kleptocracy failed to comprehend how important voting rights is to the entire left coalition, and I mean left in the broadest possible sense. I think they thought it would be voted down and that would be the end of it. All the kleptocrats who put Sinema and Manchin up to it are about to find out what it is to be named and shamed. Boycotts, photo bombing, demonstrations outside their corporate offices, and that would be just the beginning.

  19. polar donkey

    Memphis back up to 1,900 COVID cases today. 1,500 yesterday. 1,000 Wednesday. But 2,600 a week ago. Who knows how many there are.

      1. Wukchumni

        Does this mean the crypto ring contemplating buying Djibouti might have to settle for Detroit instead?

        1. ambrit

          No, at least Djibouti has natural resources to exploit.
          The plan is ironically appropriate. Unnatural resources (Krypto,) buying up natural resources (Djibouti.)

    1. Wukchumni

      Crypto Crash Erases More Than $1 Trillion in Market Value Bloomberg

      My pressush!


      Another hypothesis derives the sign from a depiction of the Pillars of Hercules, a classical symbol for two sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, with a ribbon wrapped around both each pillar (or both pillars) in the form of an “S”. This device is common support element of the Spanish coat of arms, and appeared on the most common real de ocho coins circulating at the time in the Americas and Europe.

      This would’ve been a ‘Pillar Dollar’, the kind of $ Washington threw across the Delaware


    2. Daryl

      C’mon now, the apes are still there. Or at least, a blockchain entry containing a url pointing to a picture of an ape. It’s just the value that’s gone ?

      1. Wukchumni

        Heard a Crypto investor was allowed first shot at jumping off a virtual bridge, because lack of fortune favors the brave.

    3. Mikel

      In addition to crypto, may have to follow up on the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement soon after all those articles in the press these past years during the bull bubble.

  20. Rick

    Jong-Fast is on on point in the general sentiment, but not about what is “hard and painful”.

    It isn’t the pandemic, it’s our society’s response that is akin to her ancestor’s murder.

    So it goes.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Two-thirds of passengers on first flight to Covid-free Kiribati diagnosed with virus”

    I mentioned in a comment yesterday that the State of Western Australia had decided to keep their borders shut to the rest of Oz. With case numbers going into the scores of thousands and the death toll also rapidly rising in the rest of the country, W.A. decided to give that all a miss for now, in spite of the media having hysterics.

    The media did say that this was met by a 75% approval rate by the people of W.A. but won’t anybody think of the businesses? The connection with this Kiribati article is that people were supposed to feel sorry for the airlines because their plans for flying in over 20,000 people into W.A. daily were now on hold. Do they even listen to themselves?

    Meanwhile, I am keeping an eye on Tonga. That country is actually Coronavirus-free right now so we will see if when they deliver all that tsunami aid, that it will be decided that they too must learn to live with the virus, in spite of their medical establishment being kinda wrecked at the moment.

  22. Mikel

    “Puppies? Really? I mean, logically, I agree with the writer, but puppies? Melting ice cream?”

    Maybe she’s telling everybody to go back and get those pups they dropped off at the shelter after adopting them early in the pandemic then returning them the next year.

  23. Mikel

    So “Build Back Better” bills were whittled away and now the MSM is back to full throttle “but…but…Trump…”

  24. Wukchumni

    I’ll never forget Joe being inaugurated and resultant healing of the country, the crowd about what you’d expect of a high school graduation ceremony in a mid sized city, with pomp lacking but circumstance laden. The surroundings kind of resembled one of our prison-like schools, fenced in for your protection.

    I’m going to get an NFT of a still scene taken from a video of the occasion-which obviously makes it a limited edition, similar to his term?

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Was the Viral Metaverse Rave Fun? An Investigation”

    I can see their mistake. They tried to imitate a ‘rave’ which by definition is kinetic. They should have gone with a cocktail party instead and given each person a cocktail to hold. That way, people just standing around would have looked more natural. Which reminds me. I saw a cartoon once of a field full of women wearing gowns and men wearing business suits with everybody holding cocktails and talking. Above them was a sign saying ‘Woodstock – 20th Anniversary Reunion.’

  26. marym

    Re: Trump flags
    According to the first link to a 2020 news report, Trump paraphernalia for sale on his campaign website was made in USA, but lots of stuff on sale by vendors at this rally was made in China and other countries.

    The second link (2018) seems to confirm with a manufacturer in China that they were making flags, and with the Trump campaign that official campaign merchandise is made in USA.

    Apparently his followers didn’t mind buying the stuff made in China. And of course (2018): “The president and his daughter largely manufacture Trump-branded products in countries like China, Indonesia, Turkey and Canada.”

    1. ambrit

      I’ll add to that that by personal experience, the vendors of Trump Kitsch Items are not afraid to charge outrageous prices. This, of all my encounters with the Trumpiverse convinced me that the Trump Experience was a wholly commercial venture. Call it the ultimate expression of “Government as a Business.” This belies the fact that Politics is not Business. When Politics is run along Business lines, it ceases to be, strictly speaking, Politics, and becomes, instead, just anothe extraction enterprise. As such, it becomes subject to the basics of resource depletion dynamics. The present day Democrat Party funds raising apparat is showing the stresses of such a dynamic now.

      1. griffen

        One of my favorite films featured Denzel as the Harlem based drug dealer Frank Lucas in American Gangster. One scene he confronted Cuba Gooding’s character Nick Barnes about tampering and branding his (Nick’s) inferior product the same as Franks. I insist you call it something beside blue magic.

        Frank Lucas, entrepreneur, knew his market ! And what he sold was pure than any other competition. Heroine must be addictive. Glad that’s one thing I will not research for myself.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Apparently, the whole concept of passing it under reconciliation because nothing would pass individually has been abandoned.”

    Was that the whole concept? I still think ( though I may be wrong) that the whole thing was to be passed under reconciliation because the whole thing could never get passed as a unified-whole-thing otherwise. I thought they always knew they could get Republican-friendly individual parts passed in isolation, but they didn’t want that because they wanted the whole unedited unredacted thing.

    If I am right about that, then the climate-friendly future-friendly parts of the whole thing are in themselves what they have abandoned ( or maybe secretly pre-abandoned under cover of ” the Sinemanchin wouldn’t let us do it.”)

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