2:00PM Water Cooler 1/28/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

From the Notes: “These are the first vocalizations of the morning. He was apparently practicing LONG SONGS during this recording. I have never heard long songs from this species.”

* * *


“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

It seems like the State Department is infested with Ukrainian gusanos:

The account is blue-checked, so seriously? This is diplomacy?

* * *

“Bidens welcome new family cat to the White House” [CNN]. • Oh, come on.

“How Are They Doing?” [Texas National Security Review]. “Beginning with a curious decision to hold an unpleasant meeting with America’s most important strategic rival at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage and continuing with the embarrassing self-own on AUKUS — a promising strategic play that could not have been presented to the world in a more hapless, self-defeating manner — the Biden team has done far worse than expected. The military withdrawal from Afghanistan — which, grand strategically, was the correct move, but was carried out in a disastrous fashion — has come to reflect an administration that overpromised competence and consultation but has often delivered too little of either. Both China and Russia are more aggressive, Iran appears closer to possessing nuclear weapons, global coordination to contain COVID-19 is still poor, and America’s allies seem only slightly less suspicious of the current administration than they were of President Donald Trump and his advisers. More alarmingly, there appears to be no overarching conceptual model to make sense of and act in the world, no sense of priorities and necessary tradeoffs. Are democracy and human rights the organizing principle of America’s foreign policy, or is it the return of great-power politics? Does the country have a trade policy? What is America’s Europe policy? What should the United States focus on: transnational challenges, such as climate change and COVID-19, or geopolitical threats? And which geopolitical threats should take precedence — an aggressive Russia, an opportunistic Iran, a rising China, or a new, unforeseen adversary? In a world of limited means and unlimited challenges, good grand strategy requires both a theory of how the world works and ruthless prioritization. Attempting to do everything only guarantees you will do nothing well. Slogans, such as “a foreign policy for the middle class,” offer little guidance about how the administration will make difficult, consequential choices about an uncertain future. That said, the historian in me worries this assessment is unfair to the Biden administration. Erratic foreign policy during the first year is the norm, not the exception, in American history.”

“A few things are going Biden’s way” [Yahoo News]. “. New polling of more than 10,000 workers by the Future Forum, a research consortium sponsored by Slack and other businesses, finds that workers feel substantially better off than they did a year ago. More than half of those respondents say they’re now working in “hybrid” arrangements combining work in an office with work from home, and 68% say they prefer that type of setup. During the last year, Future Forum researchers have been rating survey participants on eight measures of their working experience, with improvements in every area. The biggest gains during the last 12 months have come in work-life balance, productivity, a sense of belonging at work and job-related stress. Overall satisfaction has also risen substantially. The survey included workers in six countries—the United States, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the UK—with about half of those being American. Yet “U.S. workers are feeling the most positive about their working lives,” according to the January report.” And the key point: “The Future Forum research targeted white-collar ‘knowledge workers,’ such as those in tech, data and service firms.” • The PMC is happy. Augurs well for Biden.

“How Airlines Can Solve Their 5G Problem” [Scientific American]. Interesting technically, but filed here for this buried nugget: “How long have experts in the U.S. been aware of [the 5G] issue? The CEOs of Airbus and Boeing—so this isn’t even at the airlines level, this is at the manufacturer level—in December 2021 were so concerned that they sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg stating that they had questions and they were seeking answers. They were looking for these mitigating controls to be agreed to, similar to what they had seen overseas. So I’m not sure if those concerns in that letter didn’t get [fully] addressed, and that’s why people like you and me are hearing from the airlines [now].” • Even if you grant that the Department of Transportation knew nothing at all about the 5G issue until the December letter, the earliest news stories I can find on Buttigieg taking action are from January, 2022. That seems slow.

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.

And speaking of Manet:

Cute dogs aside, more from Bourdieu, Forms of Capital, pages 43-44:

What is at issue is what we might call a social technology. or a technique of action in the social world… [T]here are inventions in the social world, as elsewhere. Max Webt makes a point of the fact that the popular jury, with which we are so familiar that we don’t even think about it, was a great invention in the history of law. It completely changed the structure of the judicial field.

Another example would be the sitdown strike. More:

We need to sell out the word “invention” to remind ourselves that this is not self-evident, that there are breaks… gaps, and changes. As an example, … the Salon des Refusés was a formidable historical invention that was extraordinarily difficult: It really did need painters to die of hunger for twenty or thirty years in order to render the invention possible.

And in this country, 900,000 deaths since 2020, and no social inventions in response at all, so far as I can see. It’s like nothing ever happened (“live your life”). It’s extraordinary. One can say a lot about our ruling class, but rule it does.


* * *

“Democrats to devote resources to 7 more House lawmakers facing tough re-elections” [NBC News]. “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, the campaign arm of House Democrats, increased the number of lawmakers it sees as prime GOP targets in November to 32.

The updated list comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to defend their majority in the House, where they cannot afford to lose more than four seats…. Almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans have said they are not seeking re-election this year. On top of that, a recent NBC News poll found that overwhelming majorities of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.” • Here’s the list: Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Josh Harder (CA-10), Katie Porter (CA-45), Mike Levin (CA-49), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Jared Golden (ME-02), *Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Angie Craig (MN-02), Chris Pappas (NH-01), *Andy Kim (NJ-03), *Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), *Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Dina Titus (NV-01), Susie Lee (NV-03), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Susan Wild (PA-07), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), *Elaine Luria (VA-02), *Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Kim Schrier (WA-08). I have helpfully added an asterisk to the “CIA Democrats” (here; here). 6 of 26, or 23%. Chalk one up for the spooks, America’s least visible minority!

“Democrats stiff Biden as poll numbers hit low point” [Axios]. “Many Democrats in front-line districts have also stopped mentioning the president on their campaign accounts since Sept. 1, per data compiled by Quorum and reviewed by Axios. That was a day after the administration completed its chaotic [sic] withdrawal from Afghanistan. Reps. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Jared Golden (D-Maine), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) and *Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) were among the front-line members who haven’t mentioned “Biden” or “@POTUS” on their campaign accounts since Sept. 1.

Reps. *Andy Kim (D-N.J.) and Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) have mentioned Biden’s name but only in the context of urging him to act on specific issue matters. The only mention Rep. *Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) made of the president came through retweeting a CNN interview tweet that mentioned Biden.” • (I have helpfully asterisked the CIA Democrats.) I’ve been saying that after the Afghanistan withdrawal it was open season on Biden. We can’t have Presidents withdrawing from wars!

“Joe Manchin sank Biden’s agenda. Democrats are lucky to have him.” [Vox]. James Carville: “Just look at how Democrats organize and spend money. For Christ’s sake, [South Carolina Democrat] Jaime Harrison raised over $100 million only to lose his Senate race to Lindsey Graham by 10 points. Amy McGrath runs for Senate in Kentucky and raises over $90 million only to get crushed by Mitch McConnell. They were always going to lose those races, but Democrats keep doing this stupid shit. They’re too damn emotional. Democrats obsess over high-profile races they can’t win because that’s where all the attention is. We’re addicted to hopeless causes. What about the secretary of state in Wisconsin? Or the attorney general race in Michigan? How much money are Democrats and progressives around the country sending to those candidates? I’m telling you, if Democrats are worried about voting rights and election integrity, then these are the sorts of races they should support and volunteer for, because this is where the action is and this is where things will be decided. You know who is paying attention to these races? The Republican Party. Last I checked, Republicans raised $33 million for secretary of state races around the country. The Democrats had until recently raised $1 million. I think it’s now up to $4 million. That’s the story, right there. That’s the difference, right there. Bitching about a Democratic senator in West Virginia is missing the damn plot.” • James Carville is… a liberal Democrat. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know his nuts and bolts. (What he doesn’t mention is that Charles Booker almost beat Amy McGrath in the primary, and for whatever reason, liberal Democrat donors weren’t all “not a dry seat in the house” mode about him. One can only wonder why.)


“Biden leading Trump, DeSantis by similar margins in new poll” [The Hill]. “President Biden is leading former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in two hypothetical, head-to-head match-ups for the 2024 presidential election, according to a new poll. The survey, conducted by Marquette Law School, found that 43 percent of adults nationwide would support Biden if the 2024 presidential election were held today, while 33 percent would vote for Trump in a one-on-one match-up. Sixteen percent said they would choose a different candidate, while 6 percent said they would not vote. In a hypothetical race against DeSantis, however, Biden polls slightly worse: 41 percent of adults nationwide said they would throw their support behind Biden, while 33 percent would support DeSantis. Eighteen percent of respondents said they would vote for a different candidate, and 8 percent said they would not cast a ballot.” • Of course, it’s silly to be worried about polling at this point; two years is a long time in politics. But it goes to show that Biden isn’t completely vulnerable, either to the Republicans or to a rival within his own ranks. Deploying a second cliché (I’ve got a million of ’em), you can’t beat something with nothing, and Biden is something. Harris and Buttigieg, on the other hand, are either nothing or less than nothing.

“Key Pa. Dems to miss Biden visit, cite scheduling conflicts” [Associated Press]. “President Joe Biden will appear in Pittsburgh on Friday as an opening step in a broader campaign to promote the White House’s achievements in key states before the midterm elections. But two of the three leading Democrats on Pennsylvania’s statewide ballot this spring who were invited to appear with Biden will not attend, their campaigns confirmed on the eve of the president’s visit. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a leading Senate candidate, and state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the likely Democratic nominee in the race for governor, will be absent because of scheduling conflicts, according to their spokespeople. Another top Senate candidate, Rep. Conor Lamb, a longtime Biden supporter based in Pittsburgh, will attend, his office confirmed. All three had been invited to participate in a photo line with the president. The high-profile absences come as Democrats in other states have begun taking modest steps to distance themselves from the first-term president, whose approval ratings have fallen sharply in recent months. And while Fetterman and Shapiro indicated that politics had no bearing on their schedules, their decisions to avoid Biden, particularly in his home state, could fuel further questions among anxious Democratic candidates elsewhere as they decide whether to embrace the struggling president.” • Fetterman is so, so photogenic. I’d love to see him on stage with a suit like, say, DeSantis, although it’s early days for that. The Democrat establishment hates Fetterman, naturally. But apparently the small donor model works for him? Can Pennsylvania readers speak up on Fetterman?


Case count by United States regions:

Peak behavior; I think we can expect more bounces on the way down, if we go by past behavior. If you look at the two previous peaks, you’ll see we’ve had declines, followed by rises, followed by final declines. It looks like “rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick” applies; the slope of the downward curve is more or less the same as the upward curve. (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.) I wonder if there will be plateau when B.2 takes hold. Since the Northeast has form, that is probably the region to watch for this behavior first.

The official narrative was “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!

Holy cow:

What’s going on up there?

NOT UPDATED 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:

Still improving (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:

“A data gold mine in our wastewater” [Star-Tribune]. “‘We have shown repeatedly through each surge that measures of RNA in wastewater reliably predict up to two weeks in advance increases in cases and we’ve published that,’ said Dr. Tim Schacker, vice dean for research at the U’s medical school. ‘There are data now that are being published from other centers, who have smaller catchment areas than we do, and they’re reporting a similar thing. I think these methods are pretty sound.’ Minnesota isn’t the first state to surveil wastewater for COVID. Similar efforts are underway in Boston and Seattle and elsewhere. But Minnesota’s wide catchment area includes 67% of the state’s population.” • And the best thing of all? Data from poop is intrinsically anonymized.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Stilll encouraging (reinforced my MWRA data and case data). (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: 902,196 894,880. As we know, deaths are a lagging indicator. I assume the absurdity of the “Omicron is mild” talking point is, at this point, self-evident. If you know somebody who’s in “lead my life” mode, you might consider telling them the odds of dying from Covid are tied for second worst with the first wave in New York.


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.

* * *

On vaccination in general (not these vaccines), let’s review:

Stats Watch

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States rose 0.3 percent from a month earlier in December 2021, following a 0.5 percent growth in November and missing market expectations of 0.5 percent, as a 0.6 percent increase in compensation was partly offset by a 1.4 percent decline in proprietors’ income. Within compensation, the increase reflected gains in both private and government wages and salaries, while within proprietors’ income, both nonfarm and farm income decreased. Government social benefits were slightly down, reflecting the winding down of pandemic-related assistance programs.”

Personal Spending: “United States Personal Spending” [Trading Economics]. “Personal spending in the US fell 0.6% mom in December of 2021, the first decrease in 9 months and in line with market expectations as the omicron variant started to spread across the country and holiday shopping was partially pushed to earlier months on expectations of shipping delays. Spending for goods declined, led by recreational goods and vehicles; other nondurable goods which include newspapers, household supplies, games and toys; and furnishings and durable household equipment. Spending for services increased, however, with the largest contribution coming from health care.”

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Michigan Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan consumer sentiment for the US was revised lower to 67.2 in January of 2022, the lowest level since November 2011, compared to a preliminary of 68.8. Both current conditions (72 vs preliminary of 73.2) and expectations (64.1 vs 65.9) were revised down. Inflation expectations were confirmed at 4.9% for the year ahead and 3.1% for the next five years. According to Richard Curtin, Surveys of Consumers chief economist, ‘the Delta and Omicron variants were largely responsible, but other factors, some of which were initially triggered by covid, have become independent forces shaping sentiment. Overall confidence in government economic policies is at its lowest level since 2014. Although their primary concern is rising inflation and falling real incomes, consumers may misinterpret the Fed’s policy moves to slow the economy as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.”

* * *

Retail: “5 Days, 26 Restaurants, Surprisingly Little Omicron Anxiety” [Grub Street]. “What I discovered during this somewhat insane (and extremely cold) stretch of days is that New Yorkers, by and large, have separated into two distinct factions. People are no longer tentatively returning to restaurants. They are firmly ‘in’ or they are firmly ‘out,’ and the New Yorkers who are going out are really going out. There may be fewer people at restaurants overall, but the ones who do show up are doing their part to compensate for whatever energy might otherwise be missing…. More than anything, it struck me that people wanted the comfort that comes from being inside a lively room filled with happy strangers, exactly the kinds of places we’ve all probably tried to avoid at one point or another over the last two years.” • I suppose one could regard this as a triumph of the human spirit. On the other hand, the extroverts are gonna kill us all.

The Bezzle: “Celebrities Explain Why They Are Investing In Crypto” [The Onion]. Elon Musk: “I like the independence of investing in something that I can control the value of with one tweet.” •

The Bezzle: “The fund that made $700 million on GameStop knew it was time to sell after an Elon Musk tweet” [CNBC]. “One hedge fund got the GameStop trade just about perfectly right last year — buying it under $10 and selling when the meme stock peaked. The sell signal it used? An Elon Musk tweet. That’s how 2021′s top-performing hedge fund, Senvest Management, was able to notch $700 million in profit from GameStop and bring its annual return to more than 85%. The trade was the firm’s single best in its 25 years in existence.” • Elon, good job.

The Bezzle: “Would you buy a home in the metaverse?” [Financial Times]. “Or why not buy your own island, complete with villa? Part of an exclusive 100 person community called Fantasy Islands, far away from the hustle and bustle of crowded city streets, its website lists it as the creation of “lady pirate poet” Agadora Humphries. And with prices starting as low as $104,000, it’s a steal —less than half the average cost of a first-time buyer’s house in the UK. There is one slight catch, though — you can’t actually live in it because it only exists online. It exists in The Sandbox, a metaverse: one of many virtual worlds filled with digital assets ranging from dresses and sneakers to art and cars… There are also questions about what happens to the long-term future of metaverse purchases. Game servers have been shut down once companies deem the cost of running them too high… ‘Let’s imagine you’re playing a blockchain game, and you have an NFT of 62 houses and the game goes offline — it’s true that you own the NFT, but it has no value,’ says Castronova. ‘No court has established an obligation of a company to continue to provide electricity to servers so you can access it.'”

Tech: “How to Build a Better Metaverse” [Wired]. “If Facebook is successful at building a metaverse with behavioral ad targeting, it’s just a very, very bad outcome. But it’s not inevitable at all. I’ve been saying this to everybody that will listen: Second Life makes more per person who uses it, per year, than YouTube or Facebook does. Second Life is free for basic access, just like Facebook or Gmail or YouTube. But the way Second Life makes money is through fees…. I think the underlying value of clothing that you would wear to a meeting or a concert or whatever—wearing some cool clothes that you bought from a designer—is similar to the value of buying clothes in the real world. Right now, because of the speculative, tulip-bulb type thing going on, it’s impossible to separate the speculative noise from the value of the underlying assets. But if you ask what is the actual value of a digital painting that you can hang on your wall in your digital house, or a digital pair of shoes you can wear on your avatar? I think Second Life provides at least some guidance, which is to say that the value of those things is, sensibly, lower than it is in real life, but it’s certainly not zero. The average Second Life transaction is about $2. I think it gives evidence that there’s a value to NFTs. But right now, the average price of NFTs—it’s something crazy like $1000—is substantially higher than what I would guess is its long-term value.” • Second Life = Sony Betamax? This is a very interesting interview, well worth a read.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 33 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 28 at 1:36pm.

Our Famously Free Press

“Influential NY Times Writer Under Fire for COVID Propaganda” [Peter Daou, Direct Left]. “I’ve written at length about the duopoly’s unconscionable strategy of downplaying COVID-19 in order to keep the capitalist machine humming…. While liberals attack podcast host Joe Rogan for spreading virus misinformation, they ignore offenders with even larger platforms: the ruling parties and “legitimate” media figures like David Leonhardt. Thankfully, many people see through the propaganda….”

“Our playbook to fight covid-19 is outdated. Here are 10 updates for 2022.” [Joseph G. Allen, WaPo]. Allen’s no Leonhardt, and he’s sound on ventilation. Nevertheless: “Where all people are vaccinated, we should do away with mask mandates and distancing requirements.” No, since the vaccinated transmit. And: “Let’s dispense with the notion that masks are only protective if everyone is wearing them. Here’s a way to think about it: If everyone wears surgical masks, which have a 70 percent filtration rate, the combined protection is 91 percent because the virus must pass through masks twice. But N95 masks — now widely available — offer better protection than universal surgical mask use, which is the approach used in hospitals. For anyone who fears moving away from universal masking, the great news is that they can continue to wear an N95 mask — along with being vaccinated and boosted — and live a low-risk life regardless of what others around them are doing.” I’m not seeing numbers from Allen. “Isolation periods should be reduced from 10 days to five. Peak infectivity happens when symptoms first appear for the vast majority of people, and immediately preceding by a day or two, but drops rapidly after that. For vaccinated people, that window is even shorter. Yet we continue to use an outdated 10-day isolation period, when it could be as short as five.” At least one study I found showed that peak shedding was at five days (meaning that Walensky’s 5-day ukase was the worst possible choice. In general, while I obviously don’t support hygiene theatre in any form — Allen does throw handwashing under the bus, fortunately — I don’t at all like the tendency to minimize protective measures known to work; the “one mask” idea is a perfect example of this.

News of the Wired

“NASA’s ‘Nuclear Option’ May Be Crucial for Getting Humans to Mars” [Scientific American]. • The Martians won’t be happy when we accidentally crash a nuclear reactor into their planet.

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “This is from our recent visit (11/14/21) to the J. Paul Getty Center (museum) in Los Angeles. The garden was designed (1992-1997) by Robert Irwin. It’s a wee bit more colorful in the Spring.” I remember, from my brief time in California, blasting up the 405 to the high desert. Passing the Getty, there would always be the first scent of eucalyptus in the night, and I would know I had truly left the city.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. Larry Carlson

    Topol has to be at least somewhat pleased that the post-vaccine deaths are just as high as the pre-vaccine peak, since that means that when he slowed down the vaccine approval process it likely didn’t impact total deaths that much.

      1. Dean

        I think the IL data are not well defined and confusing. I read it as over 40% of the breakthrough deaths (and over 70% of hospitalizations) had underlying or immunocompromised conditions.

        If you look at the cumulative data above the bar graph it states that 0.087% of the 6904 hospitalizations were fully vaccinated and 0.032% of the 2528 deaths were fully vaccinated.

        1. juanholio

          0.087% of 6904 is less than 1, so that can’t be right! Could the decimals be in the wrong place?

        2. bradford

          No, it’s the other way around. 0.087% of the 7.9M vaccinated Illinois residents, so 6904, were hospitalized during the time period covered, and 0.032% of the 7.9M, or 2528, died.

          I agree that it’s a confusing presentation, and it’s not even a very sensible percentage to calculate; you’d really rather know the rates at which things were happening last week, with time-since-vaccination roughly constant, rather than across the whole history of vaccine availability.

          There isn’t any mention of what happened to the unvaccinated, that page is only talking about breakthroughs.

          Illinois population is 12.8M according to Wikipedia, so there are a lot of unvaccinated.

      2. Michal

        A completely meaningless number unless you also know what percentage of people are vaccinated.

        I just looked it up. 65(1)-75(2)%

        So 40% of deaths, but 65-75% of population seems like it’s a big win to be vaccinated. Reduce your risk by half.

        1. Ahimsa

          There are reports of strong selection bias i.e. those who don’t vax have higher incidences of hospitalisation anyway (for non covid also).
          Be careful assuming vax effectiveness between non-matched groups!?

        2. bradford

          It isn’t that 40% of the deaths are vaccinated, the percentage that they quote is that 40% of the vaccinated deaths have underlying conditions. The way they present it is terrible.

          They’re only talking about vaccinated people on that web page (regarding breakthrough vaccinations), and to answer what you (and everybody) would like to know, you need the case and death count among the unvaccinated too. I think it’s probably a lot better than a reduction by half.

          I’m not familiar with the Illinois data feed, but there’s some Minnesota data that graphs the relative vaccinated/unvaccinated case and death rated in a more useful way: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/stats/vbt.html which is updated Thursdays. They also give the confusing “percentage of the vaccinated population that died” early in the document, but the graphs later compare rates between vax/unvax over time periods that you can fiddle with.


      1. Objective Ace

        How many people who werent vaccinated have had Covid already vs people who were vaccinated have had Covid?

        The lack of CDC data on how effective natural immunity is a scandal that prevents us from having a baseline to compare vaccines too

        1. Pat

          I fully admit that a significant portion of my distrust of the vaccines was and is fueled by the CDC actively refusing to collect any data that might be detrimental, side effects and breakthrough infections being the most obvious. It wasn’t just being overwhelmed with data, they flat out announced a “don’t bring me no bad news” policy that made it clear they were not going to do their job. You don’t do that unless you know the data will not support your policies and decisions.

  2. Pat

    Well I have finally found a Biden I like. Willow is adorable.
    Too bad she is just a prop. I hope the staff loves her.

    Not sure that was quite the response they were hoping for.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Willow had better be careful if old Joe brings his German Shepherds back to the White House. Normally these types of dogs are well-natured and can be well trained but not the ones Biden has.

      1. Wukchumni

        While i’m sure Willow has been vetted and such, what if the Catiphate were to infiltrate the White House, torturing recently caught gophers, attired in matching orange one-piece jumpsuits on the portico?

  3. griffen

    Very well done for a Friday afternoon. Usually we see the solo feature article linked to an Elon Musk story or latest narrative. Today is exceptional.

    The Onion continues to deliver in both form and on substance! Off topic but since he was on there, boy does Val Kilmer look really rough. I think he had to overcome a cancer diagnosis, unless I got him confused with say, Lance Armstrong.

  4. Anonymous

    “‘We have shown repeatedly through each surge that measures of RNA in wastewater reliably predict up to two weeks in advance increases in cases and we’ve published that,’ said Dr. Tim Schacker, vice dean for research at the U’s medical school.

    Makes me wonder, are N95 Depends logically required if I’m my brother’s keeper wrt what he breathes in? And how do you intend to enforce that? Underwear checks?

  5. Silent Bob

    Regarding Zeynep and vaccine schedule. I too express surprise, horrified surprise. Anecdotal only but when I was a kid there weren’t nearly as many shots, nor, gasp, overflowing graveyards full of dead kids. Now we have all these shots and it seems like nearly every kid (including my two celiac children) in my kids’ school has some sort of allergy (celiac, peanut, etc). Pure coincidence I’m sure. Yes, I am aware any doubting or uncomfortable questioning of the criminal Medical Industrial Complex/Big Pharma brings nothing but pointless witch-burning vitriol and Puritan smugness and self righteous hypocrisy. Every technology comes with new problems, and these half wits only ever offer either more technology or smug derision. Jacques Ellul is spinning in his grave.

    1. polar donkey

      I take my autistic son to therapy, which insurance doesn’t cover, twice a week. You see all these kids with developmental issues. And these are just the kids that can afford therapy. You can’t help but think wtf is happening? It wasn’t anything like this when I was a kid. Better living through modern chemistry. Uh no……

      1. enoughisenough

        You think there weren’t developmental issues before vaccines??

        In the past, it was just more invisible – fewer programs, understood less, fewer precise diagnoses.

        Kids with problems were just shunted away, so that’s why “in your day” you weren’t aware of the issue.
        Out of sight, out of mind. How many families had children they just never brought out of the private sphere, and never mentioned to people?

        This was very common.

        We have better health care now. And that’s a good thing.

      2. BeliTsari

        My personal guru apparently died of profound developmental delay from runway foam. Where I grew up you could pretty much guess exposure by holler, ridge-top, poverty, race, ethnicity and it cascaded generation by generation (like PASC gives us more comorbidities each re-infection?) Here’s Aaron & Katie discussing Lead in Flint’s water with Jordan Chariton; who mentions famous lefty blog-aggregators specifically asking if his article vilifies Trump. Well, both Republican & Democrat State & Municipal criminals were involved, but given it was looking into Obama’s involvement (reported previously by Michael Moore), nobody was about to touch it. Nobody, here asked about Newark, Camden or Pittsburgh; or Appalachian kids dying from fracking, cracking, forever chemicals or kids red-lined next to refineries, peaking plants, CAFOs, well-pads, etc.



      3. Utah

        There was an interesting link months ago on here somewhere that suggested Tylenol during pregnancy might be a factor in autism. Correlation doesn’t equal causation and all, but I would believe the Tylenol exposure hypothesis over vaccines since the peer reviewed research has not found any correlation with vaccines and autism.

        That said, autism treatments are very expensive and it’s so great that you’re able to afford that for your kiddo. He’s lucky to have you looking out for him. My gf is an rbt and works with autistic children. She has a tough job, but she gets to come home to a childless house. It’s much harder on the parents. She’s of the opinion that aba therapy is a scam and kids need more OT and PT than they get, which isn’t covered at all by most insurance companies.

        And, not to write a novel here, but I wonder if the kids with developmental disabilities would have died earlier as children, from neglect or lack of treatment, but modern medicine has kept more children alive. So, not just alive because of vaccines but because of all the interventions we now have.

        1. Synoia

          I believe you have a point. As a child I recall no children with disabilities, (In the UK with NHS healthcare).

          As you suggest, either there was either high disabled child mortality, or there was less incidence of disability.

          There were also certainly very, very few homeless (Tramps) in the UK at that time.

    2. Nikkikat

      Good on you Silent Bob. Everyone should be able to question. I too wonder about the effect of multiple vaccines for babies and small children.

    3. Objective Ace

      Tons of other things have changed outside of the big pharma industry: phthalates, forever chemicals, VOCs etc.

      1. BeliTsari

        True, that. Tomato paste from a can lined with BPA replacement, herbicide flavored pasts, bovine somatotropin flavored cheese from Bt corn, GE alfalfa & stacked trait soya fed cows; herbs fumigated with fungicide; ale: the SAME, arugula: WORSE… Which reminds me: as poor kids, we couldn’t help but notice over the years, that affluent, white-flight suburbanite friends all seemed to suffer LOTs more allergy, auto-immune, early-onset, degenerative… illness?


          1. BeliTsari

            Oops… forgot to mention: irrigated with fracking brine, sprayed (Trump!) with five additional pesticides, dessicated with Glyphosate, then processed side-by-side with bio-fuels. Packed in cracked ethane plastics, added HFCS, preservatives, “flavor enhancers” or fungicides; stored and shipped with VOCs devoid of active government oversight

    4. Sawdust

      The problem with this issue is that it gets framed as a choice between two positions:

      A: Everything labelled “vaccine” must be an unmitigated good.

      B: Everything labelled “vaccine” must be an unmitigated evil.

      Clearly both positions are stupid, but the authorities have tried to push us toward position A with everything they’ve got. Now it’s backfiring badly and might produce a stampede to position B.

      1. whatmeworry

        exactly. One person refusing a single vaccine after taking vaccines for years is labelled anti-vax and denied exemption too since he or she is judged not consistent.

  6. Fergie

    Finally, a role for Harris, after she knocks proliferating Potholes Pete off the table?
    $1.2 TRILLION is a lot of beak dipping!

    “Minority contracting is a large part of the Biden administration’s infrastructure fix with its Justice40 Initiative. A White House fact sheet says its goal is to deliver 40% of “the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.”

    (“Environmental justice”, “equity”, affirmative action public works contracts and TRillions of dollars- what could go wrong?)

    Buttigieg says former U.S. ambassador Susan Rice, who serves as director of Biden’s Domestic Policy Council, is in charge of the plan to begin equally distributing minority contracts.


    Harris’ political cradle and the sublime style of her self-admitted mentor, indicates what’s possible nation wide:

    “Angry charges flew last night as San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and his two challengers, former Mayor and Police Chief Frank Jordan, and ex-political consultant Clint Reilly, met in their first debate. The main attack from Jordan and Reilly came over the FBI’s probe of possible favoritism and fraud in the city’s minority contracting program.”

    “The two challengers assailed Brown for dragging his feet on reacting to the probe and his blaming the media for his administration’s problems. “If you really wanted to see an investigation in San Francisco, the time was in April,” said Jordan, reacting to Brown’s appointment this week of a three-person panel to recommend possible changes in the city’s affirmative action programs. “It’s too little, too late. He might as well be taking the Fifth Amendment himself,” he said. “There is more corruption in City Hall under this mayor than at any time in my adult life,” Reilly said. Brown said he has ordered complete cooperation with federal investigators. “The FBI should investigate and prosecute to the full extent of the law,” Brown said. “These are serious allegations. . . . I have instructed everyone to be completely cooperative, period.”
    San Francisco Chronicle 09/01/99

    Now that the scandal is old enough to register to vote:

    December 17, 2021
    “Mohammed Nuru, the key figure in a San Francisco City Hall Public Works scandal that has to led numerous convictions, has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud, federal prosecutors announced on Friday. The government indicated in the plea agreement its intent to ask a federal judge to sentence Nuru to nine years in prison. He may also face fines of $250,000 or more.

    The 59-year-old Nuru served as San Francisco Department of Public Work’s Director from 2011 until federal corruption charges were brought against him in 2020

  7. Swamp Yankee

    Re: social inventions post-pandemic…. you may not have seen them, Lambert, but I assure you they are there.

    One response to mass death I have seen is what my fellow historian friend and I call Roaring 20s 2.0 — I know a number of people, from youth to near old age, close friends and distant acquaintances, who seem to have moved in the direction of what used to be called open marriages/relationships, who have become less career-focused and more interested in pleasure of varying kinds. Whether that is good, bad, ugly, lovely, or some combination thereof, I’ll leave to the readers to decide.

    These are new social relations, for sure. The Gen Z kids I know, children of the 2008 Crash, also generally see no contradiction between transactional relationships (“I am going out with him because he spends a lot of money on me,” openly put) and relations of true sentiment and deep emotion (“I love how gentle and kind he is too me”). I’m an elder Millennial, but this is sort of alien thinking in my cohort, I find.

    You learn a lot teaching at a community college!

    *yes, I know you don’t like generational reification, Lambert, but this is what I see in the field.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Those are interesting observations and you wonder how widespread they are across the country. You could say that you have W.E.I.R.D. students so that is only a small group but that would not really explain what you say about your own age cohort. Pretty sure that there would be a good article or even a book on going into this more.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Thanks, Rev Kev! These are in world terms W.E.I.R.D. students, but they are pretty generally working class kids in the broad sense, though there is a large variation in all demographic categories, more so than four year institutions (extreme poverty, homelessness, crippling drug and alcohol addiction, but also really wealthy kids who just aren’t academically-inclined, significant members of the local petite bourgeoisie’s offspring, a fair amount of immigrants, typically from the Lusophone world but not exclusively, lots of Bulgarians and Nepalese and Haitians e.g., local workers at local shellfish farms, older community members, including a retired naval officer; it’s a very broad population). I might try to write something up and see where it would fit in terms of getting it published.

        And these are impressionistic observations, from both before and after Covid killed my job; the community is small enough that I see former students nearly daily, as so many work in retail, and we connect on Facebook/the Zuckopticon, which is increasingly a local commons…

        And yes, the Corsi box construction may be a social technology, Lambert! …. I’d also note that in Romance languages like French and Spanish, particularly in academic writing, “technology” has a less concrete and literal meaning than it does in English — appropriately to abstract Latinate languages, it is a more abstract sense of “technology,” to include things like modes of inquiry or reasoning, say, that we wouldn’t necessarily construe as technological, strictly speaking, in the Anglosphere.

        Love the Bourdieu material, please keep it coming!

        I’d guesstimate we have about 16″ of snow right now in coastal Plymouth County, Mass., but hard to say with all the blowing from the roaring Northeast gale. Stay safe and warm if you’re by the Gulf of Maine!

        1. Swamp Yankee

          My sense is also, Rev Kev, that these are not limited to coastal New England, that things like social media, which really has superseded mass media among the youth, really means they have a strangely global yet also deeply parochial sense of the world.

          Moreover, US public education post-No Child Left behind is abysmal, and they fall prey to bizarre stuff about Illuminati and reptiles relatively easily (to be fair, the powerful are constantly engaging in conspiracies — when they ask me about the Illuminati, I explain to them what Davos and the World Economic Forum are). They also will echo both the far right and hammer-and-sickle tankies in the same breath. It’s a new century, for sure!

          Overall I have liked them very much, they are instinctively anti-capitalist, in a way that could find very fruitful expression.

  8. deplorado

    Some clever and fun words out of the US military (what do you think Wukchumni) – I agree with the assessment below (unfortunately the limericks are included as image so you would have to click on the tweet to read the work):

    >> ACSC Department of Airpower @ACSC_Airpower
    In our discussion of USAF doctrine, we often ask students to act like they are educating Congressional staffers. In response to this challenge, Maj Chris Von Almen knocked it out of the park with creativity & an ability to communicate effectively –

    “Oh the Buzzwords You’ll Know”:

    1. urblintz

      As a rule, I have zero enthusiasm for anything military, unless it’s parody, like Lehrer’s “Send the Marines!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFvxqQTh3m4

      but that’s damn brilliant wordsmithing – every syllable scans and the rhyming is masterful.

      I can hope Maj. Chris is not a lifer, finds his way out of the uniform and into a world in need of nimble minds, And if not, I can hope he will be a positive influence from the inside on those whose minds are tiny.

  9. Louis Fyne

    —They were always going to lose those races, but Democrats keep doing this stupid shit. They’re too damn emotional. Democrats obsess over high-profile races they can’t win because that’s where all the attention is—

    This is why the Dem. presidential bench is non-existent. Dems/Dems’ money follows the high-drama DC folk.

    Name me a popular Dem. governor who has the track record, demeanor and potential for national office? Can’t think of any, but surely there must be a Dem. governor of a smaller state somewhere?

      1. ambrit

        Nelson Rockefeller. Liberal Republican. Four time Governor of the State of New York. He would be to the left of just about all the major Democrat Party electeds today.
        Nominate a hologram of Rockefeller and call him the President of the US Metaverse.

        1. Glen

          And he has the added bonus of being dead, so nothing will fundamentally change, and you can sell him as an NFT to a billionaire.

          Oh yeah, winner, winner, chicken dinner!

  10. flora

    Thanks for the Manet “Head of a dog” link. Not a stray or an overworked brush stroke. Took me years to appreciate Manet.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Yes, no doubt growing into his role as the preeminent AA brand ambassador for capitalism. From his public school funding noblesse oblige to this embrace of the latest tulip-ponzi mania, he’s quickly hurtling toward being another “not all skin-folk” cliché.


    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Zelensky might have realized the goal was to get Russia into its own Afghanistan :) and not actually do anything beyond ship a few excess shipments of weapons. The Russians weren’t going to oblige with occupation either where Zelensky can flee to wherever they keep Guaido in Mclean.

      I wouldn’t be shocked if the House Democrats offer of $500 million was an eye opener.

    2. Darthbobber

      It probably hasn’t escaped Zelensky’s attention that our idea of “help” may involve doing harm to Russia but certainly doesn’t do good for Ukraine. Of course, had he not been running his mouth some 10 months back about the impending military reunification of the Donbass and forcible retaking of Crimea he might not be in this situation.

    3. ChrisRUEcon

      I posted and article from the Kyiv Post about a week ago which asserted that Ukraine has now become the poorest country in Europe – having been passed by tiny Moldova which previously held the dubious distinction. Ukraine is dependent on a lot of foreign investment. Who the family-blog wants to invest in a country on the brink of war with a super-power nation?!

      The US Administration’s mouth is writing a check its allies are reluctant to cash.

  11. Jen

    (Dartmouth) “What’s going on up there?”

    The trustees wanted the students on campus. The EVP and acting provost decided it was “endemic” and brought the students back with minimal restrictions and less enforcement thereof. Pre-arrival testing was done 5 days before arrival, kids had to have a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival. So they didn’t stop it at the door. They decided that infected student would “quarantine in place,” i.e., in their dorm rooms, which pretty much guarantees that room mates would get infected. Testing is required weekly.

    And kids being kids, masking is not consistent in the dorms, nor is the administration enforcing it.

    They strongly recommended KN95s or N95s, but didn’t start handing them out until 2 weeks into the term.

    I would really love it if Eric Ding picked this up.

    1. petal

      As a follow-up to both of your posts about it today, this was sent to our email this morning:

      Community Conversations: Booster Shots Are Working

      Snip: “Leaders of Dartmouth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic say they are encouraged by the fact that no students or employees are known to have been hospitalized as a result of the virus, and that vaccination and booster-shot requirements seem to be helping the situation.

      In a half-hour Community Conversations video on Wednesday afternoon, Interim Provost David Kotz ’86 and Executive Vice President Rick Mills were joined by physician Lisa V. Adams, MED ’90, a professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine and associate dean for global health.

      She explained the various stages of a pandemic and said Dartmouth’s vaccine requirements and masking policies are having a beneficial effect, with cases appearing to have peaked.

      “We may be starting to turn that corner just about now, as New Hampshire is as well,” she said. “I think the fact that we have not had any serious adverse outcomes is very good news.””

      1. Samuel Conner

        that would be “serious adverse [acute] outcomes”

        I wonder what the probability of not getting long COVID sequelae would be after 4 years of university … experience like that.

        And what is the probability of avoiding T-cell exhaustion or derangement?


        It seems kind of deliberate.

        I continue to wonder whether it might be a covert peace movement that is aiming to demobilize the US military through direct action on the fitness of the recruiting pool.

    2. petal

      Oh, Jen, get this-I received an email from the ADA Institutional Diversity Office on Jan 20 saying that because I had gotten the vaccine even after getting an exemption(!), I was required to get the booster. Last time you told me to tell them what happened, I chickened out and never did it. Well, this time I let rip. Told them their records were wrong and I had never finished the paperwork and thus never received an exemption!, told them exactly what happened with the jerk MDs telling me I was an uneducated idiot and refusing to write the letter, how sick I got between the initial bad reaction 9 hours post-vaccination and the resulting month-long autoimmune flare, etc. Told them their exemption process is a failure. I was livid. If their office had gotten this wrong, what else have they gotten wrong?
      I have not received a reply, not even an apology. Guess I should feel lucky I haven’t been fired yet. Thank you for giving me the confidence to say it.

    3. Taurus

      There was an article in the paper that there is an outbreak in the hospital (DHMC). No numbers of people affected were mentioned. Only detail was that it was “two floors”. The schools have had a steady trickle of cases indicating a level of community transmission that we had not seen prior.

      I think it is fair to say that collectively we have given up and while people generally mask, there is quite a bit of theater in it.

  12. griffen

    Future forum survey and link to the yahoo news article. I will save you time. Professional employees or white collar office work is supposedly a better thing than 12 months ago “with improvements in every area”. The news for the US economy does pair with announcements by GM and Intel for improving or new factory locations.

    If you read the article and get to the ending, you think I’ve stumbled into a Kipling poem. “If things recede, if inflation tapers off, if ….” How about, as if. If Covid recedes, maybe healthcare workers can regain their normal life as it were. Same for in-school educators.

    One more reason to not read anything from yahoo news.

    1. Synoia

      Or as Kipling wrote:

      The United States has and abounding and meticulous legality, but of law abidingness, not a trace.

  13. ambrit

    We can say that “Nothing is going to change” most definitely includes fundraising.
    I got a begging letter from a certain Joe Biden in support of us sending more money to the DNC. All to keep those dastardly Republicans from “polluting our pure essences” and “bringing on the New Dark Ages.”
    And, as is usual nowadays, the suggested contributions start at $20 USD.
    I am seriously tempted to send the prepaid envelope back with an included card saying; “Joe owes me $600. You can keep $20 and send me the rest.”
    The Rapture Index should be up ten points just on Joe Biden.

    1. griffen

      Inquiring minds, are you replying with your donation to the worthy cause? Okay I see you hypothesize that Biden effectively owes all Americans $600. But the Republicans are so very mean to Joe!

      I think the Rapture Index should be adjusted to a higher threshold. 189 just seems too easy to reach.

      1. ambrit

        Living on a fixed income means never having to say you’re contributing.
        Thus, my reply is my contribution.
        However, the very ethos of fundraising is to never take No as an answer. As long as “non profit” institutions can deduct the costs of fundraising from income as expenses, the Party Game will go on.
        I was thinking that 666 would be an appropriate number for Ye Apocalypse, but that said number is way too far away from mere mortal existence to contemplate.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe you could have sent back a card saying that they can have $20 of your thoughts and prayers.

      1. ambrit

        I’m thinking that my thoughts would cancel out my prayers. But, as you say, Twenty bucks is Twenty busks. (I think I’ll leave that typo in.)

        1. The Rev Kev

          You would think that both parties would have enough money from their donors not to need contributions from the little people. That is why I suspect the true purpose of contributions to political parties is to dry up financial resources from third party or any other challengers. Every dollar that goes to the GOP or the DNC is one less that might go to the greens for example.

          1. ambrit

            I had a similar thought the other day. There must be a limit to the financial abilities of the donor pools. At the lower bound, fundraising by “official” entities must siphon off funds for “unofficial” entities.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Of course once they have that money, they have to burn it up somehow. So with the Democrats, that may be why they spent $100 standing up a candidate against Lindsey Graham and another $90 million standing up another candidate against Mitch McConnell. They were never, ever going to win those seats but doing so used up that donation money and made a lot of consultants very happy.

              1. brian wilder

                Plans within plans.

                It is just my jaundiced opinion, but I think a very good case could be made that Mitch and Lindsey are extremely vulnerable to a rival willing to attack their “conservative” support for predatory economics, so substituting a loser who will not do that is a twofer at least.

      2. griffen

        I don’t often actually laugh out loud….but that was indeed an excellent response.

        Thoughts and prayers. Too funny.

        1. Pat

          If they ask again after that you could try “I am fighting to get you access to affordable donations. ”

  14. Grant

    Politics in this country is darkly comical, funny more when you live outside the country. The DCCC, without exception, always backs the corrupt, right wing candidate. The advice will be predictable; run a campaign devoid of policy solutions to any pressing societal issue and focus on messaging/propaganda to mask that reality.

    With the Republicans, the polls might look good now. Unfortunately for them, they will have to actually govern and they are corrupt, their policies actively make everything worse. We are always in throw the bums out mode because they are all bums. Corrupt, wealthy piles of nothing. If I was asked to design a country that was very likely to collapse, it would lool like the modern US. Read Andreas Malm’s book White Skin, Black Fuel, which is on the far right taking over as ecosystems collapse.

    1. Mark Sanders

      True. My congressman, Kurt Schrader, is in danger of losing because a lot of democrats realize he’s really a republican douchebag and simply won’t vote for him. I certainly won’t. And there he is on the list of people the DCCC wants to rescue. I get a solicitation for money about every two weeks from the DCCC. I occasionally send it back, indicating on the form that I’m giving them $100, but I keep forgetting to put the check in the envelope.

  15. Screwball

    Last week I think it was, the links became available to order the home COVID test kits. I ordered mine the say day (18th, I just looked it up). I haven’t received them yet, but I marked the date in my calendar so I could see how long it took.

    So today, I have now read a couple of Tweets (with pictures) of these said tests. Made in China. Anyone else confirm this?

    I guess it doesn’t matter, since everything seems to come from there, but really not a good look. It will be fun to watch the PMC class excuse and defend this while they had hissy fits because MAGA hats were made in China (not that they were buying any).

    I really wonder what makes those people tick. They are still all in on Russia stealing the election and still controlling Trump (and Tucker Carlson over war comments), any and all Hunter news has been “easily” debunked (same with the China dealings), we have the greatest economy ever, look what Joe did for the market, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t trade on inside information, Dr. Fauci is a national hero, Joe Rogan is Hitler, and anything that puts the administration in a bad light is fake news.

    They need their bubble popped.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I also ordered one of those kits. If it says “Made in China,” mark my words. I’ll have plenty to say on this-here NC blog.

  16. Hepativore

    Here is some more fun stuff to put under the Democrats en Déshabillé category. Apparently, the Nevada DNC decided that if their anointed candidate does not win in state and local races, they will create a shadow party and deny any and all access to funding that the winning candidate would normally be given and funnel it into an unofficial and probably illegal separate arm of the DNC.

    This is a long video, but it shows how the Democratic Party cheats in elections just as much as Republicans do. The only difference is the Republicans mostly do it through gerrymandering against candidates from rival political parties, while Democrats do it from an institutional and bureaucratic standpoint against inter-party factions the DNC leadership does not like.

    Local DNC Rigging (Status Coup)


  17. The Rev Kev

    “How do you know #Russia means war? They scream “Peace!”

    If you go down that Twitter thread, you will see – wait for it – Richard Branson where he says ‘For business leaders this is the moment to come together & stand up for #Ukraine sovereignty. Even if it comes at a price, all of us should send a clear message…unilateral aggression is always unacceptable” ⁦@richardbranson’

    You may remember Richard Branson’s other efforts to be in service of the Empire like when he was on the Colombian border trying to help push a takevover of the Venezuelan government by Greedo. I think that i preferred the Richard Branson that was photographed water-skiing with a completely naked woman wrapped around him. Sigh! What else can you say?

    ‘Let’s Go, Branson!’

    1. Darthbobber

      That is one sad tweet from our diplomats. Middle School locker room crap. You don’t even need a diplomatic corps to do this. They’re almost to “the only good Russian is a dead Russian.” No wonder other nations roll their eyes.

      And you could have gone a half century without an equivalent example of such cretinous xenophobic nonsense from an American embassy. That sort of thing was the province of people positioned elsewhere in government. The province of the diplomatic corps was – well- diplomacy.

      But then we don’t really do diplomacy anymore

  18. Wukchumni

    Mutual of Tijuana, my insurance carrier… is slitting their risks on insuring the all cats and no cattle ranch by raising the rate 70%

    Last year: $3100

    This year $5400

    1. juanholio

      The only way I could get out of the ridiculous premium increases our insurance was asking for was to get a policy that has a $20,000 deductible.

    2. griffen

      I’m sure it is a transitory impact and the above increase will ameliorate on its own accord. Or they just pile on in 2023, once more with feeling. Hopefully it reverts back to previous price experience.

      That is horrid and sucks.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “How Airlines Can Solve Their 5G Problem”

    Wait – I now the answer to this. Equip airliners with ARM missiles. The ones designed to detect and home in on a radio emission source. That would solve the problem real quick.

    1. Angie Neer

      I’m irritated that the headline frame it as the airlines’ problem. It is 100% the problem of the telecom companies who have been hell-bent on building out 5G, something we telecom customers are supposed be excited about, for reasons that are not clear.

      1. Taurus

        We should be excited about the opportunity to upgrade our phones. Spyware requires more and more bandwidth wirh each passing year.

  20. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding whateverthehell NFT’s are:
    houses? really?
    for that much jack?
    “There are also questions about what happens to the long-term future of metaverse purchases. ”


    I was a kid when Atari’s Pong was like the be all, end all of Cool.
    ie: at the very beginning of all that computer stuff leaving the Lab and eventually taking over the world.(Wink)

    NFT and the entire concept of “Bitcoin” is simply a bridge too far.

    all that SHOULD be an object lesson in how Money works, and is given Value…a la MMT, and all…
    instead, the message is missed.

    Mom and Stepdad used to go to those glorified flea markets(antique malls) back in the day.
    i was trundled along to load/unload whatever crap they bought.
    while wandering around, waiting, came across a stall that had quarter split firewood, painted like watermelon slices.

    and they were selling like actual watermelon slices on a hot summer day in the “darker” neighborhoods.
    as it were.

    that behavior, i can almost understand…80’s…attempting at a patina of authenticity with faux country decor….

    but totally disembodied “artworks” or nonexistent “coins”…that nevertheless suck up enormous amounts of actual electricity, that must be generated?
    …seems like orc mischief, to me….

    but regardless of my opinion, it is almost certain that the whole economy will be sucked up into that mess…cashless society, to boot!…
    it’s amazing what the Machine can get people to believe in.

    1. Angie Neer

      I’m beginning to think it’s literally just the novelty. We humans are suckers for the fast-moving object, or even the fast-moving idea, and the internet allows us to accelerate those ideas far beyond the speed of thought. By accelerate, I don’t mean their development, I mean simply their shiny-object appeal. Grab it before it disappears! Even if it’s stupid!

  21. marym


    An arch conservative member of Arizona’s state House of Representatives has proposed a mammoth overhaul of the state’s voting procedures that would allow legislators to overturn the results of a primary or general election after months of unfounded allegations and partisan audits.

    The bill, introduced by state Rep. John Fillmore (R), would substantially change the way Arizonans vote by eliminating most early and absentee voting and requiring people to vote in their home precincts, rather than at vote centers set up around the state.

    Most dramatically, Fillmore’s bill would require the legislature to hold a special session after an election to review election processes and results, and to “accept or reject the election results.”


    AZ continued

    If lawmakers reject the results, any voter could sue in county Superior Court to request a new election

    (Link – paywall)


    I’ve never missed a vote’: 95-year-old World War II Veteran says his mail-in ballot application has been denied twice due to new requirements

    Per law, [Kenneth] Thompson must either provide part of his social security number or his driver’s license number that matches his registration record with the county or state. “He registered to vote in the 1940′s and they didn’t require that,” said Thompson’s daughter, Delinda Holland.

    …Holland, who has only missed voting in one bond election herself, said she’s even tried contacting the county and state Secretary of State’s Office to add her dad’s license number to his registration file online. She said she discovered there’s not actually a way to have that done… she had to re-register her dad last week to ensure he makes the Jan. 31, 2022 voter registration deadline.


    (emphasis added)

  22. Jason Boxman

    From earlier this week:

    Meanwhile, Trump continues to cast doubt on the second component of our electoral system, the counting of the votes, by not facing the truth about the 2020 election. There is absolutely no evidence that any of the 2020 election results were fraudulent. No inaccuracies on the margins would have changed the outcome. The former president’s assertions are groundless. As Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security stated, the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.” The upstanding officials who have spoken the truth about this deserve our thanks and admiration. Claims that our systems for counting votes in the states need to be reformed are, like charges of widespread voter suppression, not based in reality.

    With electronic voting systems, we actually have no idea. These vendors refuse to release their source code, which should disqualify them from use in democratic elections.

    What a stupid essay by Larry Hogan.


    1. marym

      In my opinion, it’s misleading to say we have “no idea.”

      In 2020 46% of votes were vote by mail (hand marked). Most states have hand marked ballots as an option on election day, and states have machine ballot marking equipment that produces a voter verifiable ballot to be counted. States have general partial hand recounts to confirm the machine tabulation; and provision for full hand recounts in close elections. States also have audits of voting and tabulation hardware and software, and the manual and system controls to protect against tampering. I can’t evaluate some of it (statistical validity of partial recounts; technological and procedural audits of equipment) but it’s not some totally opaque, inscrutable process.

      I don’t know how we can hope to identify and mitigate potential points of vulnerability to error or fraud unless we start with an assessment of reality.

      As far as “wide spread voter suppression”and election subversion, I refer to my link @8:23 pm for example.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > machine ballot marking equipment that produces a voter verifiable ballot to be counted.

        This is the sleight of hand, right here, “ballot.” A ballot is what is tabulated. With a Ballot Marking Device (BMD), the “ballot” is a QR code that cannot be read by humans. What the voter can read is a merely a print-out, a receipt. The assumption that the QR code ballot and the receipt are identical is an especially gross example of begging the question. I wish you would stop propagating this bullshit (see here for a more detailed explanation).

        Let me spell out the chain of logic once more very slowly and in detail.

        Working on the assumptions that (1) where fraud is possible, fraud will have already occurred and is occuring, and (2) there are professionals at work engineering fraud, exactly as with oppo (like that guy who died in a “small plane crash”), and (3) professionals are brought in only in cases where victory is to be had at the margin, and not universally (exactly as LBJ needed only Box 13 to win his election, not all the boxes).

        (1) Voter X uses ballot marking device to mark ballot, receives printout with non-human readable QR code (the ballot) and human-readable summary (a receipt). Since the BMD is software, it is by definition hackable, and therefore–

        (2) Voter X, in this case, is targeted by the algorithm designed to swing enough votes at the margin to produce victory.

        (3) Therefore, Voter X’s printed receipt (human readable) and QR code (not human-readable) are made to differ, and the QR code is tabulated.

        (4) The algorithm succeeds, and enough votes are shifted to bring victory to whoever hired the professional to swing the election.

        So, in the face of a possibly surprising election outcome, what exactly does Voter X do? How does Voter X know that their ballot was stolen? How do the multiple Voter X’s recognize each other and band together to call out the election fraud? The answer is that they can’t. It’s about as likely as lottery losers checking their losing tickets and banding together to call out the State lottery. (Yes, there is fraud in state lotteries, but this is not how they are detected.) So, theoretically, it’s possible for a voter to check their receipt against the ballot, but in practice, the likelihood is vanishingly small.*

        Of course, it’s possible to add epicycles and kludges to the BMD system, like recounts (generally just running the same ballots through the tabulators) or automatic recounts (steal more) but the bottom line is that BMDs have a single unique selling proposition — naturally unspoken — and that is election theft.

        Full hand recounts are one such kludge: First, why spend a lot of money (steak dinners) to go all the way around the barn to end up at the place you should never have left: Hand counting to begin with. Second, here is how scanned ballots (the QR code/receipt combo) are “recounted.” From the US Election Assistance Commission, “Conducting a Recount”, page 152*:

        [M]any recounts are conducted electronically by rescanning optical scan ballots through a ballot counter, reloading cartridges on digital recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, or some blend of these methods. When reviewing the ballots electronically, it is possible that new logic and accuracy testing may need to be performed on the recount machines to ensure their integrity for use in the recount.

        Lol; it’s not the machines that are at issue, it’s the ballots. For true verification, the receipt and the QR code need to match. As I read this source (2010; best I can do) this is not done: Hand recounts count the receipts; digital recounts count the QR codes, but never the twain shall meet, when in fact verifying that the two match is the point at issue.

        NOTE * This article discusses issues with getting voters to verify that their receipts express their intent, never mind fraud with the QR codes. It concludes:

        Since BMDs are widely used today, we recommend several strategies for improving voter verification performance. While we are unable to conclude that these strategies will enhance error detection to the point that BMDs can be used safely in close or small elections, our findings indicate that they can help.

        1. marym

          I try really hard not to propagate bullshit, though caveats for the existing systems aren’t in every comment. I will send an email asking for clarification as I do not want to lose the privilege of commenting,

  23. VietnamVet

    Joe Biden’s ratings are tanking for plenty of good reasons. It is the corporate media moguls who are in denial.

    The “for-profit” mRNA vaccine only approach to combating the coronavirus pandemic is an unmitigated disaster. 3,000 Americans dying per day cannot be swept under the rug. The most American soldiers to die in a single day was D-day (first day of Operation Overlord) in World War II on June 6, 1944 when 2,500 killed. The Omicron B.2 variant cases are rising in Scandinavia and the UK. As long as new variants sweep across the world in months, the pandemic will never be over. Only Americans retaking control of their failed government and going on a warfooting using all of the tools; old (actual contact tracing & off-patent treatments) and new (ventilation & filtration) will end the pandemic deaths.

    The USA sooner or later will have to leave Syria/Iraq. In the current prison fighting, ISIS fighters have been told to surrender or die. This holy war with the Sunnis will never end as long as western soldiers are there.

    The Ukraine/Russia standoff has no good ending. Either the West recognizes that it cannot do anything or, if it ignites a war; at best, Russia cuts off Europe’s natural gas used for heating in the middle of winter or, at worse, it blows up the world. The tragedy is that the current western leaders cannot let go off Russia’s proven energy resources. They are like a monkey holding a nut in a jar, they just cannot let go.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If The Blob, the military industrial complex, and the Ukrainian gusanos in the State Department were capable of learning, a bloody nose in Ukraine might bring them to their senses. Sadly, they will not learn, they will double down (ka-ching).

      Perhaps Putin is doing a reverse Reagan — deking us into putting so many real resources into the military that the rest of the society hollows out and collapses.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Maricopa County has 24 hours to count 4 million ballots by hand or the votes don’t count. Your definition of cray cray differs from mine.

        Cyber Ninjas took 8 months.

  24. Guild Navigator

    Pennsyltucky born and bred here. We call Fetterman Frackerman. But he is waaaaay better than anybody else is on the electoral menu.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        They are circling the wagons for Conner Lamb. Methinks Fetterman scares the boys a bit. I wouldn’t get my hopes up here. They screwed Joe Sestack after he defeated Arlen Specter in 2010 and they made Toomey a senator to show who ran things in the PA dem Party. Instant replay

  25. Durak Kniseley

    On Fetterman, it’s very interesting and strange. There’s no excitement. He’s not respected by the movement people I know here in Philly. He’s supposed be a Sanders-type candidate but doesn’t show up to stuff: rallies, pickets, meetings. He rarely has a good take or media spot. We don’t see him in Philly ever. The WFP in PA endorsed Malcolm Kenyatta, who sees his star rising and I guess others do too, but there’s also a lot of frustration with him. We maybe hear that Fetterman is good on legal weed, but that’s sort of it. There’s a rumor that he’s not answering questions about his past stuff with police and climate. It’s dispiriting. Right now it seems like Kenyatta and Fetterman will split the prog vote and Lamb will get the nomination. The trades unions in Philly have already endorsed Lamb, eg, and Toomey’s seat was already considered conservative. Lamb will be mid-Atlantic Manchin.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The trades unions in Philly have already endorsed Lamb


      Nothing personal and I love Philly, but do those movement types think they’re living in Brooklyn, just cheaper?

      I’d be interested to know what Pennsylvania’s version of flyover thinks… He has done well with small donors, after all, so who are they?

    2. Darthbobber

      Kenyatta was a Biden delegate, is anti single payer healthcare, and looks like a guy being groomed to become one of the next generation’s Clyburns. His job is to siphon black votes in Philly away from Fetterman if possible.

  26. ChrisRUEcon


    ~ sees the Upper Midwest breaking out ~

    ::fist-pump:: Yes!!!

    But … WTFamilyBlog is going on in Minnesota?!

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      > … a research consortium sponsored by Slack and other businesses …

      That was the tell

      > The Future Forum research targeted white-collar “knowledge workers,”

      … and that was the confirmation. They polled a bunch of Zoomers … nuff said. I think Lambert’s comment summarizes the obvious well.

      1. ChrisRUEcon


        No-Fauci-Line Friday???

        I quote tweeted the Topol Tweet with a link to Ian Welsh’s “Only Zero Covid Worked and Everyone Knows It” (via ianwelsh.net). TL;DR:

        “So, any government which had the capacity to do this (referring to #ZeroCovid) and did not, after the first wave proved it worked, essentially chose to kill a huge number of people who didn’t need to die. Mass negligent homicide, at best.”

        Mass. Negligent. Homicide.

      2. ChrisRUEcon


        Well, yeah … but they get to bask in the faux virtue of “helping the economy” or “helping restaurant workers earn a living” by doing so. It’s another indictment of this country’s pluto-kleptocracy. The government is unwilling to pay people to stay home, because the rich uncles Pennybags (via Wikipedia) who actually run this country don’t want people to: a) realize the government actually has the power to do this; and b) take the next step of deciding they never want to work for those rich pissants ever again, especially at crap wage levels! Forcing people to go to work so that restaurateurs can continue to pay servers $5/hr + tips is bad enough. Having brunch liberals virtue signal by way of mini spreader events just adds to the horrid theatre.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          From the article:

          “Nobody is willing to freeze in order to eat a steak, and besides, we’re all vaccinated now, right?”

          Yes, Tammie … we are … and we can all get Omicron and transmit it too.

    1. RA

      That’s a great piece of needlework.

      Got any more info on the source? Guessing it was from a post on:
      “A place to share knowledge and better understand the world”

      And you say it was from: Glendon Wu

      I’d like to forward the image but have better credit for the source.

Comments are closed.