2:00PM Water Cooler 1/24/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

I thought it was time to find some spring songbirds, even if it is only January.

* * *


“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

Biden Adminstration

“Biden’s Pandemic Fight: Inside the Setbacks of the First Year” [New York Times]. I’m checking my thesaurus for “setback,” and “debacle,” “breakdown,” “collapse,” “fiasco,” and “disaster” don’t appear. Odd. A long story, but here is the key paragraph: “Mr. Biden took office last January with a 200-page coronavirus response strategy, promising a ‘full-scale wartime effort’ rooted in science and competence. The C.D.C.’s July discovery [of breakthrough cases in Provincetown] marked the point at which the virus began ruthlessly exposing the challenges it would present to his management of the pandemic.” • The real story is why Biden went Vax-only, and not his 200-page coronovirus strategy*. (For example, a “wartime effort” would have tracked all breakthough infections, which CDC did not do; hence Walensky’s surprise in July. A wartime effort would also have included non-pharmaceutical interventions like standarizing on N95 masks and developing ventilation standards. A wartime effort would also have included Manhattan Project-level — or Operation Warp Speed-level — programs for testing and treatment, including manufacturing. The Biden administration did none of those things. Why? That’s the story, and the Times didn’t get it. NOTE * Remember when Obama — lying, naturally — said Trump ignored the playbook Obama left for him? Well, Biden wrote his own playbook, and then ignored that too!

“Biden Says Russia Can Invade Ukraine So Long As They Avoid Hunter’s Gas Company” [Babylon Bee]. • That’s where we are on Ukraine; I’ve got to quote the Babylon Bee to find something that makes sense.

“How Jen Psaki Manages One of the Most High-Profile Jobs in Washington” [New York Magazine]. On facing public criticism: “I had a little flavor of this when I was the State Department spokesperson, because the Russian propaganda machine decided that I was going to be one of the top enemies…” • I can’t imagine the Kremlin’s dossier of “top enemies” has Psaki’s file in it. This is West Wing brain. And from one of my favorite accounts:

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.

* * *

“Democrats Gird Themselves to Give Manchin Exactly What He Wants” [Rolling Stone]. “But what’s happening this time around doesn’t resemble the rounds of negotiations Democrats endured in the first year of Biden’s presidency. Instead, they seem resigned to build legislation around the whims of their fickle colleague from West Virginia. ‘We should pass whatever can pass — it’s as simple as that,’ Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) says. ‘We are all using our brains and our egos to make this more complicated than necessary.’ … The whole process is a tough pill for the president to swallow: This next phase will put another deep cut in the transformational change he and his party pitched, and far from what Democrats had hoped to achieve in their once-in-a-long time unified control of government. ” • Not with a bang but a whimper….

Manchin is doing just fine, thank you:

“The Memo: Biden looks for way to win back deflated Black voters” [The HIll]. “The president’s belated push for voting rights legislation crescendoed with a big speech in Atlanta on Jan. 11 — and faded out just as fast. The cause of police reform has slipped away, too. Congressional efforts to reach a bipartisan deal on the issue went nowhere last year. Biden quietly abandoned a campaign pledge to create a national police oversight commission back in April…. There are plenty of signs of trouble. An NBC News poll released Thursday showed Biden’s approval rating among Black Americans having slid markedly, to 64 percent approval now from 83 percent nine months ago. Other surveys have shown broadly similar trends for a while. A HIT Strategies poll in November showed Biden’s net approval among Black voters slipping from +76 percent to +66 percent since June. The numbers speak to a disappointment some Black voters feel with Biden, especially given that support from within their community was so crucial to putting him where he is. Now, some are wondering what their community has got in return.” • The missing six hundred bucks turned out to be a great metaphor, didn’t it?


* * *


Realignment and Legitimacy

I apologize for the prolixity of the following. But they’re all worth reading in full, each in their own way:

“The Reality of Denial and the Denial of Reality” [The Reality of Denial and the Denial of Reality]. “The inherent divisions and antagonisms of capitalist society will always be reflected in its political form, i.e. the state. When these contradictions are imposed through repressive measures, the (also inherent) anti-state sentiments will reach the surface and explode in divergent forms of opposition. Fetishising these oppositions, however, while neglecting their underlying content, renders critique incapable of recognising a historical truth: namely, that opposition to a state of affairs can just as easily be reactionary, a category not exclusive to organised fascists (though they are clearly not far). The necessary opposition to the state and its management loses its emancipatory potential when construed as an expression of indifference towards a real threat, largely premised on the illusion that specific individualities (usually, healthy young bodies) see themselves as being beyond risk. Resisting effective precautionary measures against an airborne virus in the name of a conceptualisation of freedom that pre-emptively excludes vulnerable (i.e. proletarian) categories cannot be the ground for a radical questioning of existing society. The decomposition of collective existence and resistance through repression and austerity, responsible for producing the underlying framework within which contemporary anti-mask, anti-vaxx mobilisations take place, cannot be recomposed by appealing to the emptiness of individual autonomy in the face of a collective menace.”

“End America’s Institutional Provincialism” [Liberal Currents]. “One of the global trends of the past two centuries across systems of every type—not just liberal democracies—was the rise of political parties as the chief means of organizing political power. The drafters of the Constitution famously failed to take this into account, despite the fact that parties of a certain sort were already a key element in British parliamentary government. But the party of Burke, and of the Hamiltonian Federalists, were nothing like the enormous national organizations that would emerge in the 19th century, and reach their zenith in the early 20th century. The American situation with respect to parties is extremely unique. In particular, the fact that candidates are by and large selected through primary elections imposed on our parties by state laws and administered by public officials. No other country in the world has primaries with such broad citizen participation. In most other systems in the world, parties nominate their own candidates with a fairly small circle of insiders. At the outer limit, in Israel and Belgium for example, there are closed primaries in which dues paying members cast votes. In America, for “closed” primary states, one need only make sure to register for a party with the state in advance. There is no other criteria for participation. And in some states, of course, there are “open” primaries in which even this is not a requirement. As a result, there really are no formal party organizations for any functional meaning of the term. There are informal factions that have the most sway on specific local primaries, and there is a party “brand” that our media environment has turned almost entirely national, where it used to be subject to a great deal of local variation (and hence congressional parties used to be quite heterogeneous in their policy positions). While there are no strong parties, there is strong partisanship; some 35-40 percent of voters will reliably vote for the same major party year after year. Combine this with a presidential system, and anyone who is able to obtain a plurality of votes in enough state primaries can become the candidate for the most powerful position in the country, running on a party brand that reliably gets close to half of the votes. And indeed, that is precisely what happened in the case of Donald Trump, a man with no prior political experience or ties to Republican Party leadership. Trump showed how far one could go with this system. In other systems, outsiders can certainly have electoral success, but they must build a whole party around themselves first, and have a cadre of parliamentary candidates so they can have loyalists sitting in a majority of the seats, or become the largest member of a coalition government. They cannot simply show up in the way that Trump did; it takes a great deal more time and organization.” • Hmmm.

“How We Changed Our Minds in 2021” [Balaji Srinivasan, Common Sense]. Quoting a big slab of this: “Squint past today’s half-ignored, TSA-like Covid regulations and you see a halfignored, TSA-like Covid regulator—namely, a failing state that people can half-ignore, and arguably must half-ignore, because the USA itself is now the TSA, and the TSA, we know, is safety theater.  In the territory governed by this inept bureaucracy, you see power outages, supply chain shortages, rampant flooding, and uncontrolled fires. You see riots, arsons, shootings, stabbings, robberies, and murders. You see digital mobs that become physical mobs. You see a complete loss of trust in institutions from the state to the media. You see anti-capitalism and anti-vaxxism. You see states breaking away from the U.S. federal government, at home and abroad. And you see the End of Power, the Revolt of the Public, the defeat of the military, the inflation of the dollar, and—looming ahead—an American anarchy. What’s coming isn’t fascism or communism, like the left-wing and right-wing pundits will have you believe, even though they don’t believe it themselves. What’s coming is the exact opposite of that, a world where the civilized concepts of freedom and equity are extrapolated to their decivilizational limit, where you ain’t the boss of me and we are all equal, where all hierarchy is illegitimate and with it all authority, where no one is in charge and everything is in chaos. You can argue this may be preferable to the status quo, in the same way the chaotic Russia of the 1990s was on balance better than the authoritarian Soviet Union of the ’80s. You can argue it may be inevitable; as the Chinese proverb goes, “the empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide.” And you can argue that this transitional period of anarchy may be lamentable, but that it’s better than the other team being in charge, and that we can build a better order on the other side. Maybe so. But prior to any rebundling, I think we’re on track for quite the unbundling.” • Hmm. So Snow Crash gets it right? The author: “Balaji Srinivasan is an angel investor and founder.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Is it already too late to say goodbye?” [Jonathan Cook Blog]. “My blog posts once attracted tens of thousands of shares. Then, as the algorithms tightened, it became thousands. Now, as they throttle me further, shares can often be counted in the hundreds. “Going viral” is a distant memory. No, I won’t be banned. I will fade incrementally, like a small star in the night sky – one among millions – gradually eclipsed as its neighbouring suns grow ever bigger and brighter…. But this isn’t really about one small light being snuffed out. This isn’t just about our relationship coming to an end. Something bigger, and more disturbing, is taking place. Journalists like me are part of an experiment – in a new, more democratised media landscape. We have developed new reader-funded models so that we can break free of the media corporations, which until now ensured billionaires and the state controlled the flow of information in one direction only: to speak down to us. The corporate media need corporate advertising – or their owners’ deep pockets – to survive. They don’t need you, except as a captive audience. You’re both their prisoner and their product. But the lifeblood of a reader-funded journalist, as the name suggests, are readers. The more of you we attract, the better chance there is that we can generate donations and income and make the model sustainable. Our Achilles’ heel is our dependence on social media to find you, to keep reaching you, to offer you an alternative from the corporate media. If Facebook (sorry, the Meta universe) and Twitter stop independent writers from growing their readerships by manipulating the algorithms, by ghosting and shadow-banning them, and by all the other trickery we do not yet understand, then new voices cannot grow their funding base and break free of corporate control. And equally, for those like me who are already established and have significant numbers of readers, these tech giants can whittle them away one by one. Ostensibly, I have many tens of thousands of followers, but for several years now I have been reaching fewer and fewer of you. I am starved of connection. The danger, already only too obvious, is that my readership, and funding model, will slowly start to shrivel and die. Joe Rogan, Russell Brand and a handful of titans of the new media age are so big they can probably weather it out. But the rest of us will not be so lucky.” • Back in the day, c. 2003-2006, readers and writers found each other without social media getting in the middle.


Case count by United States regions:

Peak behavior. Looks like the Northeast is leading the rest of the country down (as they would, being first). If you look at the two 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. No jump from the return of the students yet.

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 Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Good news in California. (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):

Still 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.)

As with everything else, because the United States is not a serious country, our hospitalization data is bad. Here the baseilne is off:

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 889,197 883,903. I have added an anti-triumphalist black “Fauci Line.” As we know, deaths are a lagging indicator.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too. For the time being.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “The Trouble with Bitcoin” [Folding Ideas, YouTube]. “If someone pitches you on a “great” Web3 project, ask them if it requires buying or selling crypto to do what they say it does.

This is absolutely brutal and extremely fun. It’s also over two hours long, so fire up the espresso machine. (I have started with Chapter 1, not Chapter 0, which concerns the Great Financial Crash of 2008. The account doesn’t tie the GFC specically to Bitcoin, alluding only to the generalized possibility of bailouts. Also, the account doesn’t focus on derivatives (leverage). Best to begin at the real beginning. I must say, every interaction I’ve ever had online with crypto and NFT enthusiasts fully matches what is described here; the nature of the web3 “community” is important to understand. Well worth a listen, as scam after scam after scam is unraveled.

Tech: “The US Refuses to Fall in Love With Electric Cars” [Wired]. “In the United States? Not so much. EVs made up just 4 percent of vehicles sale last year. While the world falls in love with electric cars, the US is holding out…. Besides the politics, there’s a simpler reason that US adoption has stalled while EVs in other countries have taken off. ‘Historically, there simply haven’t been enough charge points,’ says Alyssa Altman, head of transportation and mobility at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, consulting company Publicis Sapient. ‘Potential EV customers are concerned with keeping their vehicle juiced up for long trips, and for some journeys in the US, the lack of charging stations makes this impossible.’ Publicis Sapient figures indicate that remains an issue, with the distribution of the US’ 113,600 charging stations unevenly concentrated in areas where uptake of EVs is already comparatively high, like California. ‘To me, the main bottleneck is infrastructure,’ says Coco Zhang, an environmental, social, and governance analyst at ING. ‘Consumer perception changes slowly due to the current lack of EV infrastructure.'” • If only there were an entity that could — hear me out — simply fund the infrastructure on a national scale….

Mr. Market: “Panic-like selling emerges Monday as stock market tumbles and Dow skids over 1,000 points” [MarketWatch] 12:32pm: “Panic-like behavior was starting to set in on Wall Street, at least from a technical perspective. Trading in New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks at midday Monday exhibited panic-like-selling action as investors endured a selloff that was gathering steam to start the week, adding to a bruising month for bullish investors, sparked by concerns about monetary policy, lofty stock valuations and inflation. The NYSE Arms Index, a volume-weighted breadth measure that tracks the ratio of advancing stock to declining stocks over the ratio of advancing volume over declining volume, was showing a reading of 2.133 for NYSE-listed shares. Many technicians say a rise to at least 2.000 suggests panic-like selling behavior. The reading comes as the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -2.17% was off 3.1%, or over 1,000 points, at 33,204, looking at its sharpest one-day fall since 2020; the S&P 500 index SPX, -2.51% was off nearly 4% at 4,227; and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -2.83% was trading 4.8% lower at 13,101. The Nasdaq ARMs Index also was showing panic-like selling at 2.160, at last check.” • So, panic-like, but not a panic?

Mr. Market: “Dow Drops 1000 Points Amid Market Fall” [Wall Street Journal]. 12:48pm: “The Dow industrials dropped 1,000 points Monday, as major U.S. stock indexes’ 2022 swoon accelerated. The market slide extended to the cryptocurrency market, with Bitcoin losing half of its market value since its November high. Favored speculative stock investments, including technology stocks and smaller company stocks have led the market slump. The Russell 2000 index of small stocks is down 21% from its 52 week high, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite down almost 19%. Stocks, oil and cryptocurrencies fell as investors prepared for a Federal Reserve meeting and tracked tensions between the West and Russia over the military buildup on the border with Ukraine.” • That’s a damn shame about Bitcoin.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 43 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 24 at 1:19pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil prices may soon rise to $100 a barrel” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Under the Influence

“Keeping up with the Instafam: Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner and the rest of their family have amassed more than 1.2BILLION Instagram followers… but who has the most?” [Daily Mail]. “With Kylie Jenner, 24, boasting an eye-watering 304million followers, the make-up mogul takes the lead with her follower count while Kim Kardashian, 41, comes second with 281million followers. Meanwhile, Kourtney, 42, has racked up 160million followers, Khloe, 37, has 215million and her supermodel sister Kendall, 26, also has 215million.” • Their ages are interesting. In Hollywood, wouldn’t all these women but Kylie be considered “washed up”?

“Who is ‘West Elm Caleb’ and why do people on TikTok care about him?” [New York Post]. • Dating in New York must be a Hell World. And nobody comes out of this dogpile looking good.

Zeitgeist Watch

Seems a propos:

I hate that viciously self-satisfied “live your life” locution with the hatred of a million burning suns:

“Live your life” translates to “I’ll lead my life” and for many, like the account above, that translates into “Go die!” And think of everything else this applies to: Smoking cigarettes in public, not wearing seatbelts, and so on. Taken to its extreme, and “live your life” is almost Nietzschean.

Class Warfare

Since the NGOs got thrown $25 billion to spend, I’d expect these ideas to proliferate:

News of the Wired

“Are You Sure You Know What a Photograph Is?” [Wired]. “Perhaps most intriguing is the prospect of “printing” directly on the brain. Historically, studies focused on reading brain waves to understand what someone is thinking. More recently, studies have started to focus on writing brain waves to directly insert information to the brain through, for example, transcranial magnetic stimulation. This way, the artist can imagine the picture, and the “viewer” can see it in their mind, even if they are blind. If, instead of a brain-brain interface, a brain-machine interface were used, the imagined photo could be sent to a traditional printer. Transhumanist Neil Harbisson is spearheading the adoption of this type of technology.” • Don’t tell the marketing department about this.

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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 (tennesseewaltzer):

tennesseewaltzer writes: “Attached is a photo taken here in Middle Tennessee. One of the prettiest vistas off one of those Blue Highways.” Gorgeous!

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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. Louis Fyne

    on the inflation front: generally do my own car maintenance and helped a friend whose car stalled at home—it needed a new starter.

    Cost for the repair? (from the national chains as they were the only ones open on a Sunday for the part and 2 hours of labor)

    $625 – $700+! an increase of at least 50% from the pre-covid price.

    All those people who are buying insanely priced used cars are being set up to fail when, inevitably, those 130,000+ mile cars (ie, the only affordable cars for those on limited budgets) need maintenance.

    1. Arizona Slim

      A couple of my friends are avid fixers of their cars and other things. Matter of fact, that is one of the main reasons why they got married.

      1. Anonymous

        “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” (Red Green) ?

    2. Carla

      My daughter just got charged $900 for a starter for her 2007 Honda Civic.

      These bills are devastating for middle-class people, let alone the working poor.

      1. Glen

        A friend that just changed an alternator for another friend for a case of beer has told me he’s going to have to start charging more beer.

        1. Mantid

          Reminds me that when I (often) charge a dinner for a music lesson, the kindness leads to free car repairs on my older truck. Used to do all the work myself but with the bloody knuckles and the oil filter horror stories (remember that one from a few daze ago?) and the addition of an EV to our commuting option, trading for music lessons and performances is easier on the body and moves connections and friendships deeper into the community. Go Trade!

      2. Eureka Springs

        First big hit was cash for clunkers. Killed off the 2500 to 5000 used market.
        Second being an increase in expensive needless electronics and all their trappings including high maintenance cost.
        I think this third is cumulative with worsening supply and inflation. And I have long thought it’s a major reason many no longer work. Just too expensive. The market now starts at 9 to 15k for a clunker which might last a couple plus years. If just the vehicle, basic liability, and taxes for the lowest working income among us is now 6/7 k a year before gas and maintenance.

        As for the future…
        Electric cars were supposed to be simple… far fewer parts and much less expensive. The extreme opposite is happening.

        1. John

          Someone pointed out that the recent snowstorm induced 90 mile backup on I95 south of DC would have been catastrophic had it been mostly electric vehicles. Electric coffins in a snowstorm.
          Also, it is really going to get interesting as the middle class gets priced out of public transportation American style…the private auto. Maybe it can be solved with guns and car jacking.

          1. SKG

            Several electric vehicle owners had no problems. People tend to charge 80-90% every night, so most had full batteries and no trouble lasting the night.

            People who only had a few gallons of gas were certainly in worse shape; before we discuss carbon monoxide.

        2. Louis Fyne

          —Electric cars were supposed to be simple… far fewer parts and much less expensive.—

          It is more profitable for OEM auto makers to make literally everything proprietary. Heck, they can’t even agree to one EV plug standard!

          Making EVs modular and open standard, like old computers, gives too much power to the consumer to use third-party parts.

          Ironically an gas-burning car is an “open platform” and more like Linux while Tesla is completely closed ecosystem.

      3. JohnMinMN

        Similar price for my Audi starter replacement a few years back. When I was a kid I bought a rebuilt starter for $40 and put it in myself. Just lifted the hood of the old 1970 Valiant and popped it in.

      4. Jason Boxman

        And independent car shops got whacked with the proprietary diagnostic nonsense in “newer” cars. About 15 years ago I went to a great local mechanic in Gainesville FL but they finally folded. A place I frequented near Orlando didn’t service newer cars as I recall. I haven’t a car until recently, so I don’t know the state of affairs today, but I doubt much it is better. The used car market is insane.

        Cash for clunkers, the willful destruction of functional assets, was criminal. Thanks liberal Democrats!

      1. jo6pac

        You can also buy costco online without a membership. There some items for costco only membership

        I haven’t tried this yet.

        1. Louis Fyne

          am costco member.

          yes, you can buy online w/o membership…but online prices tend be 3% – 10+% higher than in-store price even with free shipping.

          vut still can be a good idea if you can divide some bulk purchases among fam/friends

        2. TimH

          If you take out the Costco CC, you get a rebate in the 1% to 3% range. Also, a membership is two cards so two different households can operate on one membership. Lastly, the Costco CC operates as a membership card so you can give your normal card to a 3rd person (ideally with same surname) so now 3 people have independent access.

          Last comment… don’t presume Costco is cheapest. My Indian grocer is always cheaper for veg.

      2. Bernhardt

        Double? 72 Divided by 6.8% [from Guardian piece]
        = 10.5 years for prices to double.

        Of course Meat prices at 18.6% for beef and veal will double in 3.5 years, pork at 15% will double in less than five years. All that ignores the near doubling of prices that have already happened.

        Coming down the line, Producer’s prices for commodities to manufacture things up by 25%+ in one year. These are consequences of deliberate political decisions.
        Go long scythes, pitch forks and ammo.

        1. ambrit

          As presently conceptualized, it will be the Metreverse. The clock is ticking, the cost is rising, the value is plummeting.

      3. CitizenSissy

        Biidenflation? Inflation’s a worldwide phenomenon. Agree with you about Indian/Chinese markets (Assi is worth the visit if you’re near). I’m also a Costco member, and would add clothes to the list; very reasonably priced, high quality pieces.

        I bring nonmember friends along with me, and they spring for the $1.50 hot dog.

    3. Mo.B

      I feel satisfied when visiting autozone and seeing working class people (mostly Latinos in the case of my city) buying serious car parts. Or walking in their neighborhoods and seeing people pulling wheel hubs, cylinder heads, etc., often right on the street. Also, I really try to go to the independent mechanics. I think they also give better service. They are often like geniuses, since they can work on any type of car from Saab to Subaru. And once when I asked my guy to replace my smashed side mirror, he told me to do it myself, and where to buy the part on ebay!!

      1. ambrit

        Here in the North American Deep South, the Autozone crowd is an eclectic mix of races, ethnicities, and economic levels. Round here, having an old clunker, and keeping it running, is beginning to be seen as a badge of honour.
        I’m finishing changing the water pump on our 2001 PT Cruiser. It is a poster child for a PITA job. What I really want at this juncture is an old Chevy II or Nova.

      2. Queenslawyer

        Generally agree but the quality of aftermarket parts, from reliability to clearances to fit, has gotten so bad that it’s either spend the money on OEM now or in six months when you have to replace the aftermarket crap.

        1. Louis Fyne

          ^that….if one is planning on keeping the car for a long time, pay more for the OEM part (or reputable OEM-equivalent).

          Things like alternators, starters, belts are essential and worth paying a premium. Paying $100 more for a quality starter or alternator beats the hassle of getting a tow when you’re 50 miles from home.

          1. BeliTsari

            If you have the luxury of a living wage to not starve your kids; time to acquire and knowledge to discern the best choice of aftermarket parts, online. Adequate time, tools and esoteric, empirical knowledge to avoid hang-ups, which could cost you your job? KYB, Brembo, Tokico & Bosch parts all hung up in jammed ports or shipping break-bulks, while arcane sensors, micro-processor chips could easily be totally unavailable when you need to plead for your independent contractor gig, beg borrow or steal a motorized bicycle?



  2. urblintz

    I find the tankings of both Wall Street and bitcoin to be equally risible and similarly motivated: the west’s exalted crony capitalism, the pro-neoliberal bipartisan consensus, is a fraud.

    That said, the fed money printing for the already obscenely wealthy will continue (despite threats to the contrary) and Wall Street will be saved again from its own avarice, We will be told “it had to happen or the economy would collapse” – which might be true for the 1%, having already come to pass for the rest of us. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that people are looking for relief outside a system which has already failed them, and whereas warnings against crypto are important and legit, denigrating those who fell for the scam is as pointless and unsophisticated as blaming the unvaccinated for the pandemic, as well as continuing the “us” vs. “them” mentality feeding the culture war which the billionaire class wants us to have… the war they already won.

    1. Mikel

      Well, they might not borrow as much to buy assets now so the prices are falling to accommodate.
      Hand holding all the way….

  3. Mikel

    Mr. Market: “Panic-like selling emerges Monday as stock market tumbles and Dow skids over 1,000 points”

    This is the “get back to work” tumble…

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      Not yet. The markets are staging a rally now. Wolf from WolfStreet often said : “Nothing goes to heck in a straight line”.

    2. hamstak

      And the markets end the session in the black. That kind of a swing is reminiscent of the volatility in 2007 or 2008, when the DOW went from several hundred points in one direction to several hundred in the other in a matter of minutes. Not saying the circumstances are similar now, just that the bipolar behavior rhymes a bit.

      1. Glen

        Do we know how much the Fed spent today? Maybe they just decided to start buying stock and will let us know in a year or so.

        1. griffen

          This rescue plan to save all the wealthy…er the world from the market-pocalypse is hand written on 2-ply made in America paper napkins.

          Go long and strong! \sarc

    3. clarky90

      Re; “…….the class power of the PMC”


      “At the National Stock Yards in East St. Louis the sheep pens are quite a distance from the packing plants. As there are several open roadways to cross, it required six or seven men to get a drove of sheep over to the butchering pens. Someone conceived the idea of training a goat to act as leader for the sheep when they were sent over.

      The experiment proved so successful that now each packing-house has its own goat guide, which knows the route from the pens through the runways and over the viaducts to that plant.

      He is named “Judas” because he leads the innocent sheep to slaughter.

      As soon as a lot of sheep have been weighed, for which every firm bought them, Judas is turned into the pen and the gate is opened. He looks over the lot and then saunters out of the gate, the sheep following. He goes slowly at first to give them a chance to make up their minds to follow.

      They are very timid in this strange place, but seem to think he will lead them to green pastures. But he does not. A man and a shepherd dog follow the drove to keep the stragglers moving.

      In ten minutes Judas arrives at the end of their life’s journey with his tourists and side steps into a chute until they have been driven into the house, then he comes out and leisurely returns to the barn.

      When Judas becomes old or gets too lazy to do his work satisfactorily another goat is trained and the first one makes a trip from which he fails to return, except in another form, suffering the fate to which he had led so many thousand sheep.”

  4. polar donkey

    Ukraine seems to be following a Libya playbook. A lot of NATO countries’ elites making a lot of dirty money there. Gadaffi threatening to spill the beans on Canadian contract bribing, Sarkozy bankrolling his re-election with briefcases full of Libyan money, Italian oil companies shady deals, whatever the Clinton foundation was doing, etc, etc. It clicked in my head today. If Putin somehow installs a pro-Russian president in Ukraine, does everyone’s dirty laundry get exposed. A whole lot of important people have/had friends/family/themselves making dirty money there. People with names like Clinton, Blair, Kerry (Heinz), Pelosi, McCain, Graham, Biden, and many more I’m sure. None of these people seem to have any problem playing in the mud. Why do I think they aren’t dirty and wouldn’t risk war to cover their tracks? It’s happened before. The problem is Putin is much tougher and smarter than Gadaffi.

  5. Sibiryak

    > “Are You Sure You Know What a Photograph Is?” [Wired]

    When brain-machine interfaces become sufficiently reliable and affordable, they will be rolled out at no or below cost to the public. They will be marketed on some killer apps like being able to surf instagram or post on twitter without using a cell phone, or more likely some other dopamine-inducing activity that isn’t available or popular, yet.

    Once the userbase is sufficiently captured, the platform will transition to be supported by advertising, with unignorable pop-up adds directly injecting images, sounds, and emotions into the brain. Because they will directly inject emotions, suppress any feeling of annoyance, and be impossible to ignore they will be far more effective than any advertisement to date.

    All of the big internet companies will be rushing into the space eager at the prospect of immense profits and afraid to be left behind, as whichever one can successfully corner this new market will be able to dominate over its competitors. It is likely that many in their leadership already see the potential and are preparing for this scenario.

    This is a dystopian science fiction story that writes itself, but it is also very likely our future.

    1. Sibiryak


      This technology will also take targeting advertising to a completely new level, by directly reading thoughts. Advertisers will enter brutal bid wars to become the first recommendation to pop into the consumer’s head.

      1. jr

        Don’t forget the machine that mutates your dreams into ads for Coors Lite. Soon they will have you awake and sleeping. I can’t wait for the day when my friends and family start to subtly then not so subtly pressure me to get the new brain implant, as they have with the booster shot recently. F’ing Planet of the Apes.

  6. Andrew

    You can argue this may be preferable to the status quo, in the same way the chaotic Russia of the 1990s was on balance better than the authoritarian Soviet Union of the ’80s.

    Give me a break. After the fall of the USSR, the life expectancy for men in Russia dropped from 64 to 58 within four years. I see Bari’s friends are as pleasant as she is.

  7. Jeff W

    “Escape from the Frame” by Spanish painter Beardle Borrell (1835-1910)

    I can’t be the only one wondering how the painting is actually framed, if at all.

  8. Pelham

    Re the EV lead balloon in the US: How much trade-in value does an EV have with batteries that are pretty well used up? I’ve Googled mixed results for this, but I would hazard a guess that a depleted EV would have near negative value. Why would a motorist invest in such a thing?

    1. Mantid

      Yes, they do lose a bit of juice after a while. Had one about 7-8 years now and it’s down about 10%. But, as a used car eventually, ’twill be a great deal for a commuter. If one works 30 -50 miles from home, no biggie. Plug it in overnight and go to work again the next day – unless you lose your job because you aren’t vaxed …… but I digress.

    2. SKG

      Early Nissan LEAFs with limited batteries are nearly useless / worthless. They had small batteries (80-90 mile range), so were frequently fully charged and discharged daily. Plus heat and battery chemistry issues led to early failure (and many replaced under warranty.) 50% degraded range leaves a very very limited vehicle. (And Nissan had promised a $6000 replacement but has since raised the price astronomically. I haven’t followed the latest; it might be down a bit?)

      But larger batteries (I.e. Tesla) get much more range from a given number of cycles plus have better cooling and chemistry. So they’ve generally shown less degradation and are also much more useful at 50-60% of original range. Tesla is predicting 500,000-1M miles from a battery pack now.

      But until / unless we get right to repair, 10-15 year old battery cells will eventually hard fail and if the manufacturer doesn’t want to replace them cost effectively, the car is probably dead and worthless. See early Tesla roadsters.

  9. Pelham

    Re the woman with active lupus trying to avoid Covid: I sympathize. Shouldn’t we be appalled at the many Covid-is-over enthusiasts who, as part of their shtick, hand-wave away the concerns of anyone with a comorbidity, as if they deserve to get sick and die? Each and every one of their vital organs must be ticking away quite handsomely — or so they must think.

    1. Grebo

      It showed that a high dose (3 to 6 times normal) can have sufficiently unpleasent effects that a third of the subjects dropped out. On the other hand they were not considered to be harmed and the dosage is concluded to be ‘safe’.

      It is a test of treatment, not prophylaxis, and the primary outcome tested was viral load on day 7. All the subjects (including the placebo arm) had symptoms for 4 days. Looks like a well done study (I’m not an expert) but they did not get enough people for a solid result. I am more interested in health outcomes than viral loads.

    2. Ed S.

      I reviewed the linked paper and leave a thorough analysis of the science to others but note that it’s (to me) a very odd study:

      1) 847 individuals were assessed for inclusion in the study; 93 were picked.
      2) The 93 were split into 3 roughly even groups: a) placebo, b) IVM, and c) double the dose of IVM of group (b)
      3) Only 13 individuals in group (c) completed the study
      4) There was a meaningful reduction, albeit not statistically significant, in viral load (so not “no effect”). The mean viral load at the start of the study for placebo was 4.3 (range 1.7 to 6.6); for the double dose group the mean viral load was 4.5 (range 2.1 to 7.0). At the end of 7 days (5 days of treatment), mean for placebo was 2.2 (range 0.0 to 6.7); mean for the double dose group was 1.6 (with a range of 0.0 to 5.4). Perhaps not statistically significant, but mean for double dose group was lower than placebo, reduction in mean viral load nearly 50% greater in double dose versus placebo, and smaller range in viral load in double dose group.
      5) It also seemed odd that given the small sample size and the short duration of the study (IVM or placebo for 5 days and testing on day 7) that the study would cover nearly a year: from 7/31/20 to 5/26/21.

      It also doesn’t state if the individuals were vaccinated or unvaccinated. Or which strain. Or when the actual administration took place. A done study, certainly. But conclusive only in toleration of IVM and seemingly mixed efficacy (given the sample size).

      1. Yves Smith

        Aside from the lack of interest in whether participants had Covid, or which strain, a rough and ready rule is any study with <100 each in the study population and the control group is too small to be reliable. Groups of 31 is just silly.

  10. Left in Wisconsin

    You see a complete loss of trust in institutions from the state to the media.

    Ugh. Since we in WI have been one of the epicenters of this fake nihilism for longer than most, I feel competent to disagree. What we are living through is not much different from, and in fact directly descended from Reagan’s “the government is the problem” BS. Ask all these nihilists if they have a driver’s license, or what they would do if they saw a crime in progress, or if they think their garbage will be picked up this week. The Repubs in Wisconsin have been demonizing teachers for decades but they still mostly send their kids to public schools they are happy with. Without excusing any of the ridiculousness and mendaciousness of the Dems, which is no doubt part of what makes the R playbook work, aside from a handful of cranks this is all fake nihilism that DEPENDS on government still being able to effectively carry out most basic functions (even if that capacity has been weakened over the years.)

    Ron Johnson’s first TV commercials are out and the argument they make is stupendous: I went to Washington as a non-politician trying to throw sand in the gears of the system, and promised to stay only 12 years. But now that the gov’t functions worse than it did when I came, I can hardly leave now. He’s just another grifter that likes the limelight.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      “But now that the gov’t functions worse than it did when I came, I can hardly leave now.”

      Is he bragging?

  11. ChiGal

    Forgive me if this was previously linked; it just came to my attention.

    This Twitter thread explains that the Chicago Public Schools are no longer publishing accurate case counts by school although the aggregate district data is still correct.

    Part of the deal they struck with the Chicago Teachers Union was that there would be a metric of case counts at the school level to trigger remote learning.

    Parents can no longer rely on their school’s dashboard for information and the change started Jan 4 without CPS informing anyone, including CTU.

    Everything is going according to plan…


  12. Sutter Cane

    You can argue this may be preferable to the status quo, in the same way the chaotic Russia of the 1990s was on balance better than the authoritarian Soviet Union of the ’80s.

    “On balance better”? The Russian people who saw their life expectancy crash when capitalism took over tend not to argue that it was preferable. Oligarchs and their enablers undoubtedly find it so, however.

  13. giantsquid

    “SARS-CoV-2 induces human endogenous retrovirus type W envelope protein expression in blood lymphocytes and in tissues of COVID-19 patients”


    Expression of the HERV-W env protein, which was identified in 20 to 30% of Covid-19 patients, has previously been implicated in the pathology of multiple sclerosis as, of course, has Epstein-Barr Virus. Interestingly, EBV activation can also be induced by SARS-CoV-2.


  14. MonkeyBusiness

    There’s a mall nearby my place called Stonestown Mall. On the way to a nearby Farmer’s Market every Sunday morning, I would see a bunch of Tesla owners parking their cars and using the charging stations provided by the mall to top up. Not sure what to think of that.

    1. Mantid

      I think it would reduce the cost of your purchases at the “Mall”. I think it’s wonderful. Nothing quite like idling in a drive through while in an EV. A bit less pollution spewing into the take out worker’s window and the children passing by. And less wear and tear on the ol’ school engine’s starter. Times are a changin’, not fast enough, but changing.

  15. Questa Nota

    In simpler times, Louis XIV’s Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert said that the art of taxation consisted in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.

    Fiscal and other policies have upgraded, as mere taxes no longer jingle alone and the audience enlarged.

    Somewhere in the bowels penthouse of the DNC there is a magic dial. You move that dial to find the sweet spot between donor money, ethics investigations, and re-election votes temporarily lost. Sub-dials allow fine-tuning by industry or by political group, say, pharma and mid-Atlantic Congresscritters. Many mouths to feed, how to do it?

  16. TBellT

    Article asks a question I feel like I’ve had for months now, what exactly is the “Done with Covid” crowd complaining about?

    Like Prasad, my family lives in San Francisco, an even more stereotypically liberal redoubt than New York. But there too, there have been no vast clampdowns, no restaurants forced to shut, no jackbooted health inspectors raiding theaters. The schools stayed open, and are in chaos. Hospitals are flooded with patients, but are struggling along. As Paul noted, the world these people wanted is the world they are actually living in right now.

    Why can’t these people be happy with the world they built?

    1. megrim

      I think maybe they somehow actually thought that their stance on this would actually make covid disappear? To me they all sound annoyed that covid is even mentioned at all, ever.

  17. none

    Thedacare update: https://twitter.com/madeline_heim/status/1485703212615311370?cxt=HHwWlIC92ejMo54pAAAA

    Background: https://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/2022/01/24/thedacare-ascension-court-over-health-care-worker-employment/6635683001/

    This is important, please take note. TLDR: nurses quit shitty hospital to take a better offer elsewhere, old hospital refused to match the old offer and is trying to stop the nurses from leaving because “community harm”. I.e. they don’t want to pay a competitive wage so they want people to work there involuntarily instead. This hospital is owned by the Mayo Clinic too. What crap.

    1. Objective Ace

      This is communism with an added rent seeker middleman. If we’re going to force people to work and be paid according to their abilities and society’s needs we may as well do away with the private corporation

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The injunction was dropped today. There was no way this was going to hold up in an at will state, when the nurses gave the original company an opportunity to match.

    3. Stillfeelinthebern

      I don’t think ThedaCare is owned by the Mayo Clinic, they have some kind of collaborative arrangement. Have to say, reading what the workers said in court today was encouraging.

      “The offer she eventually received from Ascension will give her “life-changing money” and fewer weekends that she needed to be on call, making it easier for her to be at home with family, she said.

      She encouraged the other three technicians on her team to apply for other open roles. When they each had received offers, they approached ThedaCare on Dec. 21 and asked if the hospital would match the offers.

      They were told they would not be matched and that ThedaCare leadership understood the seriousness of losing all four technicians but was willing to let them go, Young said.

      Young said on Monday she would not return to work at ThedaCare even if the injunction was upheld. It hurt to have her former employer argue that she and her colleagues don’t care about the good of the community, she said.”

  18. chris

    I know there’s a lot to be upset about lately but how about we talk about some ways to find pleasure in what we have available?

    For example, all of the mini mountains and ski resort areas on the east coast are suffering from lack of attendance. And weird snow. But there’s still lots of good skiing to be had at cheap rates. And with used skis and boots you don’t need much of an investment to get on the slopes. We’ve gone multiple times throughout the pandemic winters and it’s been wonderful. There’s something to be said for engaging in an activity that forces you to focus on the immediate present conditions under your feet. We’ve found it’s great for our kids too. They can exercise outside with a minimum risk of infection and they can even do it around their friends! Tubing works too.

    Most of the ski resorts and condos and hotels we’ve seen are drastically underpopulated for this point in the ski season. We just got back from spending two days skiing in western Maryland and had a great time. There were maybe 7 other families in the condos we were staying in, out of 300 units total. We bought the kids used skis and boots for Christmas and including helmets, goggles, and poles, the whole set was purchased for $250 each. That’s a real deal considering a kid’s boot rentals can cost $50 or more for a weekend. And some of the views you get from a lift a priceless. It’s such a pleasure to share that with my family.

    Food for thought in case anyone else is feeling stir crazy from another corona winter.

    1. Mantid

      Comment from the future, perhaps 20 years from now. “I remember ski resorts.” “Mom, what’s a ski resort?” Great grandpa retorts, sarcastically “Look one up in the phone book.” “Oh grandpa.”

  19. jr

    re: Dead End Dating

    Having once been a prolific serial online dater with serious digits under his belt, I am here to say that for every “Caleb” there are ten “Calebettas”. I had a system that allowed me to contact numerous women daily and I went on dozens and dozens of dates. I’d get ghosted after a great date then two months later get a text asking where I’d been.

      1. ambrit

        At this rate, you’d do better to hang out on the corner of St. Philip and Bourbon after midnight with the nasty chickens. (Keep your eyes peeled for the Cadillacs with the out of state license plates.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d get ghosted after a great date

      If I got the players in the right order, the plaintiff originally planned to add Caleb to her “arsenal.” Looks like Caleb got out just in time.

  20. Mantid

    Regarding “The US Refuses to Fall in Love With Electric Cars” …. We use an EV. On the west coast of the US there are plenty of charging stations in nearly every house: a 110 outlet. We’ll often drive somewhere and there are often charging stations in vehicle rest stops, resto parking lots, library’s, municipal buildings, I-5 (the primary north/south freeway), etc. With a 110 outlet, the outlet that you plug a toaster into, one can charge the car just fine. Go to a vacation place, a hotel for example, enjoy your day and night – while the car is plugged into an outlet. Get up the next morning and your car is charged and ready to go.
    We have never had a hotel or resto say “Hey buddy, what are you doing plugging into our mains?!” If they ever did, we’d take our biz elsewhere. Bye the by, we’ve had it about 8 years and no “tune ups” or “oil changes” yet. Can’t say that for our 90s Ford work truck with 110,000 miles or so on it.

    1. Larry

      Electric cars can be great, but as the article linked noted, the charging infrastructure is lacking in certain parts of the US. West coast US, pretty good. I think it’s okay around New England where I traipse. I can’t speak to the reliability of finding charging around most of the USA.

      The other impediment to obtaining these vehicles is cost. Tesla launched here as a $100k luxury car. Most everything else coming out is at least $45k new. That’s if you can get it. Prices are extremely marked up if cars, BEV or not, are available. Compare this to Europe where the incentives to get BEVs is huge.


  21. Soredemos


    Jimmy Dore is now in full on covid denialist mode. He’s parroting the idea that the real death toll is lower than the official numbers, and he’s citing Jonathan Chait (!) as proof that closing schools was a bad idea (also, Nate Silver thinks school closures were an ‘invasion-of-Iraq magnitude’ mistake. Not killing people is now as bad as killing them, apparently).

    Wasn’t Steph, Dore’s wife, a teacher at one point? It’s amazing to watch him descend to this level.

    1. TBellT

      It’s amazing to watch him descend to this level.

      Not amazing if you’ve been skeptical of him from the beginning. It’s always been clear to me that Dore is attracted to the feeling of being enraged and victimized than actually understanding things. Luckily there’s much out there to be enraged about, so you’re bound to end up with some correct targets.

      Unfortunately, this has all resulted in a big growth of clicks/impressions for Dore, which shows how well accepted ‘Let Er Rip’ is by the public.

      also, Nate Silver thinks school closures were an ‘invasion-of-Iraq magnitude’ mistake

      Of course the Iraq level mistake here is ‘Let Er Rip’ / Barrington Doctrine, but like Iraq we’ll keep “surging” until the public comes around in 7 years and realizes “oh this was a giant mistake”, none of them will have admitted how easily they were duped by the media into supporting it or that they even supported it in the first place. Everything old is new again.

          1. urblintz

            Seems the point being made was a bit opaque for some. My reaction to the comment was identical to yours. Answering the question with your question was terse and spot on.

  22. griffen

    I think that we are all being baited
    Just to know whom Kardashians dated
    Please don’t link there I beg of thee
    I can’t help myself; can’t just be me

    I will never, ever, not ever understand the attraction or that the phenomenon is not wearing thin.

  23. flora

    re: escape from the frame
    An aside: Breaking the frame often means breaking the once then but now too passe for the accepted story telling imagery conventions.

    Brunelleschi vs Ghiberit in the Florence, Italy Babtistry bias-relief bronze art. One of the earliest examples in western art of breaking the then current Gothic iconographic imagery, what was once seen as understood storytelling in an earlier age pre-Renaissance then became seen as stilted and out of date, and including the then modern Renaissance from-real-life imagery.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If when an actor talks to the audience, it is known as ‘breaking the fourth wall’, would this early painting be known as breaking the third wall then?

    1. Terry Flynn

      Biden may improve in polls due to this. Precisely because of the fact (to those who aren’t so knowledgeable of the man) it came out of the blue *ahem* from someone stating he wanted the president to be statesmanlike again.

      Reminds me of best eff-bomb ever. Monty Python Life of Brian – Brian in the hole on top of the mountain.

  24. The Rev Kev

    ‘The vertically integrated messaging apparatus has induced a growing number of white collar workers to use preferred pronouns in something like 18 months. From where we sit today, “uterus-havers”, “lactators”, etc *seems* like a harder lift. But let’s convene back here in a year..’

    Anybody else notice that it is women that are getting the short end of the stick here? The one covered in smelly, brown stuff? I do not see the same level of fragmenting with male identity and the whole thing sounds like the work of people with “mummy issues.”

    In passing, that image that tennesseewaltzer sent in was great. Would I be right in assuming that those tree lines mark out what was once a farm with the home probably being located on the higher ground?

    1. tennessewaltzer

      Thanks, Rev, for the compliment. This is still farming/horse country. The home is off to the left in a hollow.

    1. ambrit

      “Archduke Ferdinand?” Oh please, let it be Blinken. (No one gives thought to the Archduke’s wife, who also died from the assassin’s bullets.)

  25. jonboinAR

    Re: Electric cars and their lack of, err… traction in the US:
    Dearth of charging stations gets blamed. Did no one hear several years ago of one Chevrolet Volt?! That car was electric for most of most people’s driving, like, 90% of their daily trips, all driving on a single charge that was under about 40 miles. But then, if one happened to continue further, like after the first 40 miles or so of a road trip, it switched seamlessly to gas power. It was called “parallel hybrid”, or something. I can’t remember. It was the perfect answer to this problem. People buzz around town, commute, etc. really for nearly all their driving. An electric motor with a fairly modest battery is all that’s needed for that application. With that, they’re running on electric power for nearly all their driving. But they also want their car to be able to make a road trip, occasionally. Just use gas for that. Then you don’t have that insurmountable logistical issue that a pure electric car does when one wants to take it on a trip. Effectively, they figured, the Volt averaged over 200 miles per gallon, something like that. In fact, (I think) it actually deliberately used gas occasionally to prevent the gas in the tank from going stale. Man, I really thought it was an elegant solution to the peculiarly US problem with electric vehicles.

    But GM, after (supposedly, I never drove one) beautifully engineering this solution, almost completely failed to promote it. The little they did was after the clunky, unsexy, GM fashion, and neglected to emphasize its advantages. Eventually, they abandoned it as uncompetitive. I would never be one to suggest that this strategy could possibly have been the result of collusion with oil interests, to take the best possible compromise to the American problem with electric vehicles and “prove” it to be unviable. I would never suggest anything like that.
    Ticks me off.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      The Volt was a plug-in hybrid. Ford, Toyota and Kia (and probably others) still make them. Everything you say is true, but the downside is you still have a gas engine and fuel system to carry around (while in EV mode) and maintain (oil changes, etc), and the gas engine has a big heavy battery it need to carry around. Kind of “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Also, they are favorite targets for catalytic converter thieves since their engines run infrequently so the cat has less use.

      They don’t seem to be as popular as EVs, but l like my Prius Prime just fine. It is a very economical car.

  26. juanholio

    The Bezzle: “The Trouble with Bitcoin” [Folding Ideas, YouTube].

    This should be required viewing for US Congressfolks worried about “stifling innovation”.

    Great stuff.

    1. Gregorio

      Yes great video. I watched it on YouTube, and surprise surprise, I was targeted with 3 ads for crypto trading while watching.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This should be required viewing for US Congressfolks worried about “stifling innovation”.

      Some innovations ought to be stifled. In a financialized economy driven by rent extraction, most if not all.

  27. ChrisRUEcon


    Thanks for much for this. Utterly brilliant. I have watched it all. Twice!

    Out. Standing.

  28. dontmakemedefendPsaki

    Psaki and “West Wing brain” – sorry, but you are wrong. I don’t know about ‘enemy’ – but Public Enemy or whipping boy or just favored-target, Psaki was very, very much attacked by almost all Russian press way back. Whether or not she deserved it is a different matter – but her statements about being a very prominent target in Russia were accurate. (As was shown at the gleeful rubbing of hands when she was appointed to the WH…)

    1. Yves Smith

      Oh, come on. Your own link shows Psaski was ridiculed and deservedly so for making repeated, ridiculous factual errors. She got a free pass in America when we lambaste similarly ignorant women pols like Sarah Palin.

      1. dontmakemedefendPsaki

        Sorry, again – claim above was basically that Psaki wasn’t harshly attacked in Russian media and internet. She was. And as expected, the pivot was immediately to “well she deserved it.” Whether or not she deserved it, she was harshly attacked. (As for deserving it – several of the most popular Russian memes about her were just fakes)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > – claim above was basically that Psaki wasn’t harshly attacked in Russian media and internet.

          Pro tip: Don’t distort a writer’s words when readers can just scroll up to check you. Here is what I wrote:

          I can’t imagine the Kremlin’s dossier of “top enemies” has Psaki’s file in it. This is West Wing brain.

          To translate, since apparently translation is needed, if Psaki thinks she’s that important, she’s deluding herself. She’s not anybody’s “top enemy.” But then delusion is rather thick on the ground in the Beltway.

    2. Polar Socialist

      Not sure if The Moscow Times counts as “Russian media”. It is published in Moscow, this is true, but only in English language and it’s practically owned by Dutch and edited by a Dutch/American team. It was originally meant for non-Russian speaking foreigners coming to Russia to make business in the early 90’s.

      Kinda like saying RT America represents US media.

  29. SKG

    So Tesla has been raising prices and selling all they can manufacture, with a huge waiting list.

    GM can’t deliver the Bolt.

    Most other manufacturers are selling EVs just to meet CARB requirements in limited quantities and states.

    In the meantime, the electric trucks from all manufacturers have huge numbers of deposits.

    Looks like a supply problem not a demand problem / infrastructure problem to me.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Riddle me this… If EVs are so popular, how is it that, last May, I was able to buy a brand new Toyota Prius Prime (plug-in hybrid) for $5k off MSRP. I didn’t even have to negotiate hard. Toyota had a 4k rebate, and the dealer threw in another 1k. This was well into the chip supply shortage, and most gas cars at this dealer had markups. This was in a CARB state. This is not how dealers sell popular cars.

      Granted, a plug-in hybrid isn’t as “cool” as a Tesla. They’re called “compliance cars” by the EV snobs, as in “I went to the free charging kiosk at the mall, and all the spaces were taken by compliance cars”. You see, to the virtuous, entitled EV owner, plug-in hybrids are unworthy of the free juice because they can still burn hydrocarbons.

  30. thoughtfulperson

    “Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet.” Boston waste water

    As reliable metrics disappear here in the usa, these hard to fudge ones become most important.

    It will be very interesting to see if the rapidly growing new BA.2 variant, now i hear 60% of cases in Denmark, makes an appearance in Boston with a new wastewater rise.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It will be very interesting to see if the rapidly growing new BA.2 variant, now i hear 60% of cases in Denmark, makes an appearance in Boston with a new wastewater rise.

      It will indeed

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