2:00PM Water Cooler 2/1/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

“Song sparrows shuffle and repeat to keep their audience listening” [Science Daily]. The Abstract: “Biologists have found an animal for the first time that communicates with the complexity of human language: song sparrows. According to a new study, male song sparrows memorize a 30-minute long playlist of their recently belted tunes and use that information to curate both their current playlist and the next one. The findings suggest that song sparrows deliberately shuffle and repeat their songs possibly to keep a female’s attention.”

“How Do Hummingbirds Survive Snow and Cold Weather?” [Birds and Blooms]. “How do these little birds survive? Again, they are much hardier than many believe. And they have the ability to go into a state of torpor. This is a type of deep sleep where an animal lowers its metabolic rate by as much as 95 percent. By doing so, a torpid hummingbird consumes up to 50 times less energy when torpid than when awake.”

Assuming I am not in a state of torpor, I wish I could stabilize my head like this:

* * *


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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Trump Had Role in Weighing Proposals to Seize Voting Machines” [New York Times]. “Role” in “weighing proposals.” And the deck: “New accounts show that the former president was more directly involved than previously known in plans developed by outside advisers to use national security agencies to seek evidence of fraud.” “More directly involved than previously known.” I had to read to paragraph seven to get to the sourcing: “The people familiar with the matter were briefed on the events by participants or had firsthand knowledge of them.” • Well, fine. At least we don’t have anonymous intelligence officials in the lead. I know I have priors on this, but the Times isn’t helping me overcome them…

Biden Adminstration

“All-out effort to keep Biden COVID-free; no ‘normal’ yet” [Associated Press (antidlc)]. “When President Joe Biden met with U.S. governors at the White House on Monday, he was the only one given a glass of water — lest anyone else remove their mask to take a drink. The president was seated more than 10 feet from everyone, including Vice President Kamala Harris and members of his Cabinet. A White House staffer who was wearing a surgical mask when Biden entered the room was quickly handed an N95 version. These are just some of the extraordinary efforts on the part of the White House to keep the president from getting COVID-19, even though he’s gotten both of his regular vaccinations and his booster.” • “Live your life” for thee, but not for me. Odd.

“The One Ukraine Option That the Public Won’t Abide” [The Atlantic]. “All options are on the table”: “Those six words are diplomatic code for war, whether by military strikes or the deployment of ground forces. But they have yet to escape President Joe Biden’s lips…. Putin’s potential invasion of Ukraine has instead exposed a rare point of consensus between Democrats and Republicans: The U.S. isn’t going to war to stop him. ‘There are some things we have to be clear about, and one of them is that the American people, frankly, will not support sending hundreds of thousands of Americans to Ukraine,’ Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee who visited Ukraine earlier this month, told me.” • Musical interlude [NSFW]…

“White House frustrations grow over health chief Becerra’s handling of pandemic” [WaPo]. “[Some officials and outside experts] also said the health secretary isn’t fulfilling a core responsibility of his job, which is to act as a de facto field marshal coordinating the nation’s vast health bureaucracy to achieve the White House’s strategy, even though he does not set it. For instance, they cited officials’ airing of differences over booster shots and covid-19 isolation guidance as confusing and unnecessary. They said the tension between Becerra and the White House has complicated the pandemic response at a time when Americans are already exhausted and struggling to make sense of ever-changing guidelines.” • Come on. A field marshall? A de facto field marshall? With medals and everything? The quadriga of Klain, Zeints, Fauci, and Walensky is and has been in charge, with Biden wandering in and out every so often. It looks like the West Wing has moved to every big project’s phase five: “Punishment of the innocent.”

“Opinion: Biden’s approach to the presidency was flawed from the start” [Perry Bacon, WaPo]. “On the coronavirus, Team Biden has made blunder after blunder on its own. And it’s not just that they couldn’t provide clear guidance on isolating or mask-wearing or make sure Americans could easily get coronavirus tests. It’s also the condescending dismissal of criticism of their performance.” Besides not having a theory of tranmission and to this very day erasing ventilation from their messaging. More: “The deeper problem, however, isn’t just that Biden can’t deliver on unity and competence, ending gridlock or fixing the economy — it’s that he promoted those as the main criteria to judge his performance. And what connects unity, competence, the economy and a lack of gridlock is that they are ways to avoid conflicts. Biden appeared to think that the deep partisan, cultural, racial and ideological fissures that existed in America before Jan. 20, 2021, could either be reduced or sidestepped by a president like him (White, male, moderate, experienced, calm).”

“‘This is not gonna be amateur hour’: After considering six Supremes as senator, Biden finally gets to pick one as president” [Yahoo News]. Good to know: “Since becoming president, Biden has moved to diversify the federal bench. He has nominated eight Black women to the appellate bench, from which Supreme Court nominees are commonly selected. At his side is White House chief of staff Ron Klain, who worked with Biden as an attorney for the Judiciary Committee before overseeing judicial appointments for President Clinton. Many aides from Biden’s earlier posts in politics are either in the West Wing or close by.”

“New legislation supported by Joe Biden proposes startup visas to attract talent” [Business Today]. “The ambitious America COMPETES Act of 2022, which was introduced in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, proposes to open up new vistas for talented individuals from across the world with a new startup visa. President Joe Biden, who supports the legislation, said the America Competes Act, 2022 is an important step forward in advancing legislation that will make the supply chains stronger and reinvigorate the innovation engine of the country’s economy to outcompete China and the rest of the world for decades to come. The Act, among other things, amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to create a new classification of ‘W’ non-immigrants for entrepreneurs with an ownership interest in a startup entity, essential employees of a startup entity and also their spouses and children. According to the provisions of the bill released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the bill when signed into law directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish procedures for foreign nationals with an ownership interest in a startup entity to self-petition for lawful permanent resident status as an immigrant entrepreneur if the entity demonstrates a proven track record of success through job creation and significant revenue generation or receipt of investment capital.”

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.

* * *

The party of betrayal (1):

More from the Daily Poster.

The party of betrayal (2):

The party of betrayal (3):

We’ll get back to you on that one.

“Democrats Decried Dark Money. Then They Won With It in 2020.” [New York Times]. “Spurred by opposition to then-President Trump, donors and operatives allied with the Democratic Party embraced dark money with fresh zeal, pulling even with and, by some measures, surpassing Republicans in 2020 spending, according to a New York Times analysis of tax filings and other data. The analysis shows that 15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with the Democratic Party spent more than $1.5 billion in 2020 — compared to roughly $900 million spent by a comparable sample of 15 of the most politically active groups aligned with the G.O.P. The findings reveal the growth and ascendancy of a shadow political infrastructure that is reshaping American politics, as megadonors to these nonprofits take advantage of loose disclosure laws to make multimillion-dollar outlays in total secrecy. Some good-government activists worry that the exploding role of undisclosed cash threatens to accelerate the erosion of trust in the country’s political system.” • No kidding. (It’s a mistake, IMNSHO, to treat the donors is if they are not a component of the Democrat Party (see above).

“DNC chair Jaime Harrison has considered early exit amid White House tensions” [NBC]. ” Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison is frustrated, isolated and trapped in a job he long thought he wanted, according to party insiders, a dynamic driven by escalating tensions with the White House over his role. Key decisions for the committee are made by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, who speaks frequently with other DNC officials but only about three times a month by Zoom with Harrison. The limits of his influence are a source of agitation for Harrison, according to several people who have spoken to him. At the same time, he’s not flying to meet with donors or visiting DNC headquarters. Instead, since he first took the post a year ago, Harrison has mostly stayed in his home state of South Carolina, according to people familiar with his schedule, as well as people who frequently see him around town. That has been a major point of consternation for the White House.”


* * *

“Still A Lot Of Hospitalizations” [Eschaton]. Clap louder:

Whatever one thinks the reponse should be, “pretending it doesn’t exist and yelling at people to clap louder and go back to the face licking parties” doesn’t change the fact that this is an ongoing crisis. The people in power have decided to do… (almost) nothing.

Aside from the fantasy “Covid just disappears” scenario, which is possible, the “new normal” is significantly increased disruption and the elite plan to deal with this is to pretend it isn’t there.

People respond to this kind of statement as if one is demanding lockdowns and, no, I’m demanding a recognition that the “new normal” is likely to be significantly more difficult than the old normal, and that this burden falls on the people least able to deal with it practically or financially, and their concerns are not the ones the mirror those of highly paid Hot Take generators.

The concerns of those Hot Take generators primarily being, “the people who serve me should continue to do it happily for no additional compensation and shut the fuck up about it.” From an electoral perspective, which isn’t the only one of course, whatever precise reasons people give to pollster questions which are themselves shaped by the elite consensus, “generally being anxious and unhappy” leads to incumbents being chucked out!

Consumer confidence could be a proxy for “generally being anxious and unhappy”:

“McConnell wants a policy-free midterm campaign. Others in the GOP are less sure.” [NBC]. “inside the Republican Party, key leaders are split on whether to roll out any sort of governing agenda ahead of the midterm elections in November. With President Joe Biden’s approval rating tumbling, one GOP faction, headed by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, is betting that skewering the Democrats is all that’s needed to wrest control of the Senate. Another, led by House GOP chief Kevin McCarthy, is drawing up positions meant to persuade Americans that voting Republican might improve their lives. Beneath the dueling approach to the midterms lies a more basic question about the party’s direction. Donald Trump first ran for office promising a sharp break from party orthodoxy. He questioned the merits of free trade and called for withdrawing U.S. forces from prolonged Middle East wars. As his presidency wound down, the party devolved into more of a vehicle for Trump to air grievances and punish foes. A candidate eager for Trump’s endorsement in the GOP primaries now stands a better chance by showing fealty to him rather than committing to a set of principles.”

Fetterman (1):

Fetterman (2):

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Good Day w/Special Guest Matt Stoller” (podcast) [West Wing Thing]. • A comprehensive ramble throught current politics from liberal Democrats and leftward, including among other topics r/antiwork. Stoller: “It definitely feels like it all has to collapse.” Goes for everything, the hosts agree. Well worth a listen.

“The Marxist Who Antagonizes Liberals and the Left” [Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker]. On Reed’s forthcoming book, The South: “In this slim book, one line in particular read to me like a manifesto: “A danger,” Reed writes, “is that, when reckoning with the past becomes too much like allegory, its nuances and contingencies can disappear. Then history can become either a narrative of inevitable progressive unfolding to the present or, worse, a tendentious assertion that nothing has ever changed.” I asked Reed what he had in mind. He said, “This won’t come as a surprise but one thing that was on my mind was the 1619 Project. I mean that ‘nothing has changed’ line is one I have found bemusing and exasperating.” That project, he went on, wiped away any historical specificity, so that racism operated as an unchanging force. “And so you get to say that the murder of Trayvon Martin or of George Floyd is the same as Emmett Till or of the slave patrols.” Reed told me, “I don’t like the frame of the declining significance of race narrative—I didn’t like it in the nineteen-seventies and I don’t like it now, right? But racism is less and less capable of explaining manifest inequalities between Blacks and whites.” Liberals, he said, wanted it both ways. “It’s a common refrain: ‘I know race is a social construction, but—’ ” Reed said. “Well, there’s no ‘but.’ It’s either a unicorn or it’s not a fucking unicorn.'” • Reasonably fair-minded, especially given the venue.

“Tribalism Is Human Nature” (PDF) [Association of Psychological Science]. The Abstract: “Humans evolved in the context of intense intergroup competition, and groups comprised of loyal members more often succeeded than groups comprised of nonloyal members. Therefore, selective pressures have sculpted human minds to be tribal, and group loyalty and concomitant cognitive biases likely exist in all groups. Modern politics is one of the most salient forms of modern coalitional conflict and elicits substantial cognitive biases. The common evolutionary history of liberals and conservatives gives little reason to expect protribe biases to be higher on one side of the political spectrum than the other. This evolutionarily plausible null hypothesis has been supported by recent research. In a recent meta-analysis, liberals and conservatives showed similar levels of partisan bias, and several protribe cognitive tendencies often ascribed to conservatives (e.g., intolerance toward dissimilar other people) were found in similar degrees in liberals. We conclude that tribal bias is a natural and nearly ineradicable feature of human cognition and that no group—not even one’s own—is immune.” • From 2019. What do readers think?

“Pennsylvania court strikes down state’s mail voting law as unconstitutional” [The Hill]. “A Pennsylvania court on Friday ruled the state’s mail-in voting law is unconstitutional, with the case likely heading to the state’s Supreme Court. The 2019 law allows any voter to vote by mail without providing a reason and contains a number of other provisions aimed at making it easier to cast a ballot. Republicans are arguing it violates an amendment to the state constitution. Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt agreed with that argument, writing the law violates the 1838 amendment that says a person must vote in-person on Election Day unless they meet certain criteria. She wrote the law can only be changed through another constitutional amendment. ‘No-excuse mail-in voting makes the exercise of the franchise more convenient and has been used four times in the history of Pennsylvania,’ Leavitt wrote. ‘If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment to end the Article VII, Section 1 requirement of in-person voting is likely to be adopted. But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people and adopted into our fundamental law before legislation authorizing no-excuse mail-in voting can ‘be placed upon our statute books’,’ she added.”

“Trump’s Republicans aren’t the only ones questioning election legitimacy” [MSNBC (!)]. “To their credit, Democrats have integrated their hostility toward the rhetorical delegitimization of elections into their political identity. At least, they oppose it when Republicans are doing the delegitimizing. And yet, Democrats don’t seem to be above embracing unfounded attacks on the electoral process when it advances their interests. That’s exactly what President Joe Biden did during a news conference on Wednesday, and he seems to be dragging his party with him. ‘Speaking of voting rights legislation,’ one reporter asked the president, ‘If this isn’t passed, do you still believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and its results will be legitimate?’ Biden responded by noting that ‘it all depends’ on whether his administration can ‘make the case to the American people’ that the voting rights bill should become law. Biden’s contention that this year’s midterms would only be conditionally valid prompted reporters to follow up on this claim, whereupon Biden made everything worse. ‘You said that it depends,’ another reporter remarked. ‘Do you think that they would in any way be illegitimate?’ Biden doubled down. ‘I’m not going to say it’s going to be legit,’ he declared. ‘The increase and the prospect of being illegitimate is in direct proportion to us not being able to get these reforms passed.’ There was no ambiguity in the president’s remarks.”


Case count by United States regions:

Peak behavior; the fiddling and diddling phase was virtually instant and now seems to be over. 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!

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet, which is even more encouraging.

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, especially in California. Minnesota is very stubborn. Why? (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):

Now no orange states. Very encouraging (reinforcing the 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: 907,190 902,196. 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 their 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.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Quits”[Trading Economics]. “The number of quits in the United States edged down to 4.3 million in December of 2021, following a series high of 4.5 million in November. The quits rate dropped to 2.9 percent from 3 percent in the prior month. Quits decreased in health care and social assistance (-89,000), accommodation and food services (-64,000), and construction (-44,000). Quits increased in nondurable goods manufacturing (+19,000). The number of quits decreased in the South region.”

Manufacturing: “United States Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The IHS Markit US Manufacturing PMI was revised higher to 55.5 in January of 2022 from a preliminary of 55, but continued to point to the weakest rise in factory activity since October of 2020, as output growth was muted. Demand conditions also softened further, with new orders rising at the slowest pace since September 2020. Muted client demand was reflected in only a fractional increase in employment. The softer rise in new orders allowed firms to partially work through backlogs of work, which expanded at the slowest pace for 11 months.’

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI for the US fell for a second straight month to 57.6 in January of 2022 from 58.8 in December, compared to market forecasts of 57.5. The reading pointed to the weakest growth in factory activity since September of 2020.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Tesla to recall nearly 54,000 vehicles that may disobey stop signs” [CNBC]. “Tesla will recall 53,822 U.S. vehicles with the company’s Full Self-Driving (Beta) software that may allow some models to conduct ‘rolling stops’ and not come to a complete stop at some intersections posing a safety risk…. Last week, Tesla said the number of FSD beta vehicles in the United States increased to nearly 60,000 from a few thousand at the end of September. Tesla has been testing the improved version of its automated driving software on public roads, but the carmaker and the regulator have said the features do not make the cars autonomous.” • On public roads? Oh.

The Bezzle: “NFT Minecraft Project Sells $1.2 Million In Tokens, Deletes Everything A Few Days Later” [Kotaku]. “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: An NFT project sells a ton of tokens, making a shit ton of cash in the process for a thing that probably will exist in the future. Then the project and folks involved disappear with the money, leaving those who bought into it screwed. Well, it’s reportedly happened again, this time with Blockverse, an NFT project connected (unofficially) to Minecraft.”

Tech: “Sequoia, Insight Back Startup Building Web Browser for Business” [Bloomberg]. “A startup building a secure web browser for businesses is coming out of stealth mode after raising about $100 million across two funding rounds from investors including Sequoia Capital and Insight Partners. Led by Mike Fey, previously president at Symantec and general manager of McAfee, Dallas, Texas-based Island was most recently valued at roughly $500 million before it began generating sales, according to people familiar with the matter, who didn’t want to be identified because the figure isn’t public. Island says this includes tools such as secure copy-and-paste, and ways to redact text. Island began product development about two years ago and has about 100 employees between its Dallas headquarters and research and development center in Tel Aviv.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 1 at 1:16pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down one Earthquakes. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Zeitgeist Watch


Bensalem, PA; maybe I should have filed this with Fetterman?


“The New York Times is buying Wordle, the game that exploded in popularity this month” [CNBC]. “The New York Times is acquiring Wordle, an online game that shot up to popularity seemingly overnight. The move highlights the importance of the company’s Games unit, which hosts things like crosswords and Spelling Bee, as a way to attract new subscribers…. The game became a cultural phenomenon earlier this month, with people sharing their scores in the form of emojis. Only 90 people played the game on Nov. 1, according to the Times. About 300,000 people were playing as of mid-January. The number is now in the millions.”

The 420

“Over-supply of cannabis”:

“9th Circuit won’t address dying patients’ plea to use magic mushrooms” [Reuters]. “A federal appeals court on Monday ducked a case brought by a hospice doctor and two cancer patients who want the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to allow them to use psilocybin, a federally classed Schedule I drug and the active ingredient in hallucinogenic mushrooms, to treat anxiety and depression in terminally ill patients. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it lacked jurisdiction to decide the case brought by Dr. Sunil Aggarwal of the Seattle-based Advanced Integrative Medical Science Institute (AIMS) and two of his patients, Erinn Baldeschwiler and Michal Bloom. The procedural stalemate is a de facto win for the DEA in a test case on the interaction of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which bans possession and therapeutic use of psilocybin, and federal and state right-to-try laws, which are designed to ease access to investigational new drugs for dying patients.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“BLM’s millions unaccounted for after leaders quietly jumped ship” [Washington Examiner]. “No one appears to have been in charge at Black Lives Matter for months. The address it lists on tax forms is wrong, and the charity’s two board members won’t say who controls its $60 million bankroll, a Washington Examiner investigation has found. BLM’s shocking lack of transparency surrounding its finances and operations raises major legal and ethical red flags, multiple charity experts told the Washington Examiner.” • The Washington Examiner is on the right, but not the cray cray right…

Guillotine Watch

This thread gets more and more wild as it goes along:

Sleeping Beauty Castle is not a defensible position.

Class Warfare

“ThedaCare drops lawsuit against Ascension over hiring of former employees, which had gained national spotlight” [Post-Crescent]. “ThedaCare is dropping its lawsuit against Ascension Wisconsin over a group of former employees that they previously argued Ascension had improperly recruited to work at its Appleton hospital. ThedaCare president and CEO Dr. Imran Andrabi told The Post-Crescent Friday that his health system needs to focus its efforts on finding people to fill the positions that were vacated, not on pursuing legal action. Lawyers for ThedaCare filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of the case Friday with the Outagamie County clerk of courts…. Andrabi said Friday that the national attention on the lawsuit had surprised him. He said he understood the impact on the employees who were caught in the dispute but said he felt ThedaCare’s reasoning for pursuing legal action — preserving around-the-clock stroke and trauma care in the region, their lawyers argued — had been lost in social media discussions of it. ‘What we were looking for is just some help to orderly transition a large number of people … from one health system to another,’ Andrabi said. ‘It just created a huge gap, and we wanted some help in the interim to figure out how to bridge that gap for the community.'” • Commentary:

More tight coupling….

News of the Wired


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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 (EJ):

EJ writes: “This plant appeared in a Chicago backyard in my neighborhood last year in July. I took the pictures about two weeks apart. This past summer the plant was gone. Do you have any idea what it is? I never see these neighbors to ask questions.” Readers?

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. fresno dan


    Then came the unexpected news of David Bennett.

    Bennett was suffering from acute heart failure and did not qualify for the human heart transplant list. On New Year’s Eve, the FDA gave doctors from the University of Maryland Medical Center permission to
    transplant the pig heart through a special protocol, sometimes called compassionate use, that allows very sick people emergency access to experimental drugs or devices — either because the patient doesn’t
    qualify for any study of the drugs or because no study exists.
    Bennett’s new heart also came from a Revivicor pig.

    In a statement issued by the hospital, Bennett said he consented to the experimental surgery because he was simply out of options. He was bedridden, and no hospital would offer him a heart transplant, at
    least in part because he had a history of not following medical advice. “It was either die or do this transplant,” he said. “I want to live.” The eight-hour operation was performed on January 7.
    I think of myself as pretty well informed, but I had no idea that a pig heart into a human had occurred. Also, I would think my news feed would have figured out that I am very interested in heart news by now…
    Did you all know about this?

    1. Carla

      fresno dan — this was pretty much front page news, I believe in the Times, the Guardian, on NPR… it definitely was widely reported.

      1. fresno dan

        February 1, 2022 at 2:31 pm
        Thanks – I guess my news feed is definitly missing the forests and even the continents. I think I am going to have to start checking Reuters and AP headlines daily…

    2. Tutti

      Worst than that, no one seems to care about the ethical concerns of this line of procedure. Manufacturing pigs under demand. And a second surgery was performed in a dead patient, but the NYT carefully never said he was dead, only with “brain death”. “Science” can’t be stopped to discuss ethical considerations.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        The brain dead patient bothers me the most, because there was no health reason to do the transplant. It was done with the sole concern being if the kidney would work!

        They have been working on these pigs for awhile, as they knocked out ten genes that could cause rejection of the parts. There is a lot of money invested into this.

        I fear for our future here, when you will be paying for these implants.

        1. BlakeFelix

          Well, if they work, it’s better to have a working heart and no money than all the money in the world and a stopped heart. Our healthcare system is broken and our cruelty to animals is disgusting, but getting working organs from pigs is a big step up from bacon. And I love bacon, LoL.

  2. tegnost

    “Punishment of the innocent.”
    Not a huge fan of becerra but I still don’t like seeing people run over by a bus…

    1. flora

      Is Becerra the former California AG who was ‘gonna be all CalPERS any day now’ for its questionable management and financial transactions… and did nothing? Asking for a friend. / ;)

      1. Tom Stone

        Yes, sweet Havvy Becerra was gonna be all over CalPers like witeout on a computer screen.
        He handed off the baton to Rob Bonta who doesn’t wonta.

    2. Questa Nota

      Phase VI uninvolved*, what will be their rewards?


      Wall Street gigs?

      Why not both?

      *terms in DC mean whatever people want them to mean /s

  3. fresno dan

    The thing you need to understand about today’s Zillow find is that it was built in 2010 in the United States of America.
    Uh, I would have thought more attention would have been paid to the throne (and the majestic throne room…)

    1. griffen

      I’d swear just viewing the first tweet above, we’ve seen that before in recent weeks. I do think there was a good bit of fun to be had at the expense of the initial owner. You can’t make that into something it ain’t, and it ain’t attractive.

      One thing is certain, it is not a boring home.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      fresno dan:

      I’m going to propose that we groundlings of the commentariot chip in to buy the castle. Then we can all move in together.

      I get the sarcophagus room.

      We can call the place Château Yves-Lambert

      Kind-a classy, no?

      Carla? Are you in?

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        I’ll Def live in that forest bathroom. Between the TV and Sauna I’ll be in hog heaven!

  4. Carolinian

    What do readers think?

    More importantly what does Scientific American think? For many of the rest of us “tribalism is genetic” makes a lot of sense.

  5. Sue inSoCal

    AndrewJ, I’m old and I’m still missing community. I still have a fantasy that I live somewhere where I can rock on my porch and wave at neighbors. I had that at one point, and moved from the area, plus as John Z points out, that was very long ago. I’m lucky now to have a few neighbors as acquaintances. I can only empathize and wish for you a few friends to form your own community.

  6. Sam Adams

    RE: “DNC chair Jaime Harrison has considered early exit amid White House tensions” [NBC]. ”
    Harrison is nothing if timid and a SC Democratic Party hack incapable of staking a position contrary to the Clyburn junta. When he ran for Senate against Graham, he refused to come out against the filibuster or in favor of any bill that would help the poor or state of SC. He did come out as just another of the Clyburn gang, a corporate shill.
    Just like Childs.

    1. griffen

      It’s early yet on the east coast. But a beer run may be in order based on the quote below, from an unnamed source in this article.

      “he’s not out there, fighting the fight.”. Groans.

    2. IMOR

      When you name a chair from a state where the other] party has 8 of 9 in the congressional delegation and is 3 or 4 seats shy out of 120+ and 49 of having 2 to 1 majorities ib both houses of the state legislature- you’re going to get a real last-ditch firebrand or a cypher. These being today’s Dems, of course they chose from Column B.

  7. fresno dan

    “Tribalism Is Human Nature” (PDF) [Association of Psychological Science].
    From 2019. What do readers think?
    If you have ever seen the movie, The Man Who Would be King, Sean Connery and Michael Caine learn that every tribe believes the tribe upstream is pissing urinating in the river, and they use this to foment their conquest of the country. Tribes can be manufactured and manipulated…
    I’m not gonna say social media and MSM use a similar strategy for ratings and profits – I leave that to you.

  8. griffen

    Fighting over steak is really inappropriate. Fighting in a Golden Corral, also really inappropriate. But the combination of meat and location is just too, well, a delicious story.

    This is akin to the food fight from Blazing Saddles, just not so funny.

      1. griffen

        Ha, great minds and all(!). I was trying to add the clip from Office Space, where birthday cake is passed out but Milton winds up without cake at all.

    1. NotThePilot

      I was going to say this is definitely the worst installment in the Mad Max series.

      The plot seems trivial in comparison to the others, no character development, and the production? Phooey!

          1. NotThePilot

            Haha, I’ve had a few interesting run-ins with drunk people at IHOP after nights-out, but never anything that escalated to a fight.

            If they changed their name to this, I could see it ironically appealing to a lot of people my age.

  9. jsn

    “Tribalism Is Human Nature”

    I’m about half way through “The Dawn of Everything” on my second pass. Contents of that book lead me to speculate “humans evolved in the context of intense intergroup competition, and groups comprised of loyal members more often succeeded than groups comprised of nonloyal members” only in the last 5,000 years or so.

    I’d even go so far as to speculate the shrinking of the human brain in that time corresponds the the selection pressure the authors project into a more distant past Graeber and Wengrow convincingly show was much more devoted to substantive individual freedom than our subsequent, psychotic competition is willing to countenance.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      My memory is the location of the brain likely limited overheating compared to our cousins. Of course, I’m writing this on a device that the guys behind Eniac would see and accuse me of witch craft.

    2. Robert Hahl

      However humans evolved, selective pressure must be quite different now that most people live in cities and sit quietly in class rooms for 12 to 25 years before they are allowed to have any influence on society. I think we are being bred like dogs not to bite.

    3. Bruno

      “only in the last 5,000 years or so” In the last 5 millennia there have been (according not only to Plato
      in Timaeus and Laws but according to virtually all surviving myths and traditions of tribal origins) repeated catastrophes that devastated human popularions worldwide. That “psychotic” competition among small groups of survivors traumatized by near-encounter with extinction arguably constitutes the historically-proximate cause of inherited planetwide PTSD is a far more plausible explanation of the present human extinction drive than, as the current scientistic dogma holds, are “tribal” features stemming from millions of years of gradual uniformitarian evolution.

      1. jsn

        Yep, those are the traumas our larger brained ancestors, through social coordination, were able to stave off!

        Check out The Dawn of Everything, it’ll change when you think prehistory starts!

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Halfway through Ai Wei Wei’s 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. Graebers latest is next!

      2. Mike

        A lot more and going back farther than that likely. Look up Randall Carlson. He’s a total wack job but he tries to pull together a lot of work from various fields. Pulling info from geologists, asteroid impact studies etc there are as many as 16 extinction level events in the past 100,000 years. Really fascinating stuff even if only a handful of it is true.

      3. Friom

        Re the “cause of inherited planetwide PTSD”

        It’s been caused and driven for over ten thousand years not by “competition” but primarily the SYMBIOSIS of The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room

        A reality the authors of “The Dawn” entirely ignore. And these two married pink elephants are the reason why we’ve been “stuck” in a destructive hierarchy and unequal class system (the “stuck” question is the major question in “The Dawn” its authors never answer, predictably, as a work of fake hope porn and cherry-picked “science”), and will be far into the foreseeable future.

    4. albrt

      Roy Rappaport’s last book, Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity, made a great impression on me lo these nearly 20 years ago. The book is about how beliefs and rituals work together to define and reinforce competing ingroups and outgroups. The prevalence of ritual means that everyone in the ingroup has to publicly declare belief and fealty by words and deeds on an ongoing basis.

      One of the things I took from the book (although not sure it’s what Rappaport intended) is that the crazier a group’s beliefs and rituals are, the more effective they will be at strengthening ingroup bonds. You have to be really dedicated to believe and say and do all those crazy things, and everybody in the ingroup evaluates you on that. I doubt its entirely genetic, but people have probably been selectively bred for these tendencies for a long time.

      It doesn’t seem very difficult to apply that to the core constituencies of both legacy political parties in the US today, and Facebook and Twitter seem to be pretty good ritual venues.

  10. Larry Carlson

    “Some good-government activists worry that the exploding role of undisclosed cash threatens to accelerate the erosion of trust in the country’s political system.”

    I think the erosion process is complete and we’ve created a metaphorical Grand Canyon, washing our naïve ideals out into the Gulf of California. I personally trust our country’s political system as far as I can throw it (I consider Chris Christie and J. B. Pritzker to be parts of said system).

  11. LawnDart

    Re; OK Corral, Bensalem, PA:

    To keep everyone invested in your vision, you have to back up a little bit and really analyze who the different steakholders are and what they individually respond to.
    –Alan Stern

  12. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Marxist Who Antagonizes Liberals and the Left

    I’ve always admired Reed, but I think he’s fundamentally wrong about two things. I don’t think the people who’ve joined DSA are politically naive. I think they’re the part of the petty bourgeoisie that realizes how their bread was buttered. It’s why they’re calling for another New Deal. As opposed to the predominantly white petty bourgeoisie who stormed the Capitol and will likely be the vanguard for an impotent Caesarism.

    Second, I don’t foresee authoritarianism working in America or even taking power. I see disunion as a more likely possibility. There’s too many disparate power centers in the country. The nullification crisis with the blessing of the Supreme Court that nobody is talking about is another reason why authoritarianism would be a temporary phase. The state which could hold the country together through force, or the threat of it, has displayed it’s weakness on numerous occasions. If a government can’t tax the rich they are lacking in strength and when the politicians start appealing to patriotism then your country has fallen into complete chaos.

    “We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation; which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.” – George Washington

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        That was a fun ride. I like that he put ecosystem collapse under ‘apolitical.’ His lament for the pickup truck was linked a while back.

      2. albrt

        My fondest wish for this country would be for it to break up peacefully into governable pieces that are too small to use all their resources to commit war crimes all over the world.

        Even better if it happens in my lifetime.

      3. AndrewJ

        Oh, be still my beating heart. If the only result of the civil dissolution of the federal government is the de facto elimination of the world’s largest military, and elimination of all the harm it causes, it’s still a win for our species.

      4. Andrew Watts

        Eh, most people didn’t want the Soviet Union to dissolve. Political opinion doesn’t matter when the internal and external pressures hit the breaking point. The problem with the author is that he wants the benefits of the Union without the drawbacks as it is currently structured. There won’t be an interstate facilitating friction-less trade between states if the union dissolves. (see: Brexit)

        If anything I’d be demanding that the Pacific States abolish all regressive taxes/fees and impose stiff tariffs/duties to the former United States. The rest of the country doesn’t have the shipping infrastructure to import even a portion of their foreign trade at any rate. Expecting that the bourgeois in these successor states would collectively change their mind over taxation and public investment is hard to believe considering their lack of willingness to maintain our current infrastructure.

  13. Art_DogCT

    The mystery plant is a very happy, and very beautiful Arisaema. I’m speculating this is a variety of Arisaema thunbergii subspecies urashima. It’s is a northern Japanese member of the Araceae, a botanical family that includes Jack-in-the-Pulpit, skunk cabbage, and the “Titan Arum” (Amorphophallus titanum) – some 100 genera and more than 3000 species pretty much worldwide. I’ve grown a few species and varieties in CT and love them a lot. When it flowers you’ll be able to get a more accurate identification.

    It should re-emerge this spring (paws crossed).

  14. Bushwood

    The Minnesota covid numbers appear to be driving by reporting delays and backlogs:

    “The Minnesota Department of Health on Tuesday reported 21,360 cases and 46 additional deaths, representing reports made to the health agency Friday through Sunday, as well as some backlogged cases.

    Health officials said January had the top 10 highest daily reports of new cases for the pandemic and at one point there was a backlog of more than 45,000 cases because agency employees could not keep up with the high volume.”


    1. aleric

      I agree – one interesting thing is that the MN Dept of Health has started displaying their raw incoming cases – split between reviewed and non-reviewed. Based on that incoming cases actually peaked 2-3 weeks ago. So the times when it looked like MN was an covid outlier was a data artifact and we were getting hit hard at the same time as other midwest metro areas.


  15. Jeff W

    “The New York Times is buying Wordle, the game that exploded in popularity this month” [CNBC].

    I thought the NYT buying Wordle was bad news (but not for Josh Wardle, perhaps)—paywalls and “enhancements” and all that—but the NYT itself says this:

    When the game moves to The New York Times, Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, and no changes will be made to its gameplay.

  16. dcblogger

    I don’t think that we can entirely blame Biden, he is the product of a dysfunctional system. Why do horrible people keep getting elected? Voters have better choices, but they keep selecting horrible people. Sen Feinstein had competition, but people nominated her. Why? How did Cuomo keep getting reelected? Why does the Democratic caucus keep electing Schumer party leader when he presides over never ending defeats? I could create an entire blog about bad choices on the part of the voters. Gov Abbott looks like he is about to cruise to reelection even though objectively he has been a completely horrible Governor.

    After their repeated lies, on so many stories, why does anyone subscribe to the NY Times or Washington Post? Why does CNN or MSNBC have a single viewer. I know why Faux has viewers, they want to be lied to, but why the other cable news stations? and how did CNBC survive John Stewart’s spectacular take down?

    1. Mk

      Why do you think the viewers of CNN & MSNBC don’t want to be lied to also? Cause they sure do, along with readers of the NYT, WAPO, etc.

      Humans love to be lied to so one can live in their safe space.

      1. dcblogger

        I disagree. I think that people think that even though those news organizations often “get it wrong” they are still “credible news organizations.”

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Aren’t they obliged to tell themselves they’re consuming news from “credible” organizations, lest they undermine their self image as sophisticated and discerning news consumers, something these audiences pride themselves on… even when they’re eagerly accepting stories like the Tonkin Gulf Incident, Iraqi WMDs and Russiagate?

        2. albrt

          Seriously? It seems pretty obvious that “credible news organizations” is just one of the lies their audiences want to believe.

    2. chris

      How did the demonstration in LaFayette park go?

      Also, why can’t we blame Biden? He is one of the people responsible for the dysfunction we’re dealing with? Pick any number of the hot button issues we have right now. He had a hand in them.

    3. JohnnyGL

      “Why do horrible people keep getting elected? Voters have better choices, but they keep selecting horrible people.”

      I think this is a question the left has yet to really grapple with and come up with a genuine answer for. I’ve got a few thoughts.

      1) In many cases, no, there aren’t better choices. In one of the recent elections here in MA, I didn’t have a single competitive race to vote on. The party already decided for me.

      2) The status quo has genuine defenders. When campaigning for Bernie in 2020, I bumped into a few anti-Bernie types because those voters perceived him to be making changes they were against. One professor at a private university, was eager to engage and was quite clear that he placed his personal prestige and status ahead of free tuition for students at public colleges. He genuinely thought the competition was going to destroy his employer and his own privileged status and salary and was clear that he was very much “anyone but Sanders”.

      This was really on display when Cuomo was resoundingly re-elected with a big boost in turn out.

      3) There are people who passively pay attention mostly take the establishment politicians and establishment media at their word. There are people who think Biden is a disappointment, but mostly because he was genuinely stopped from doing more by Senators Manchin and Sinema.

      4) There are others who genuinely think “better things aren’t possible” so let’s just keep hard right fascists out of power and be happy with what we’ve got in life.

      Anyone else have other ideas about what’s going on? Again, it’s a serious question that I don’t see the left grappling with. If you aren’t grappling with it, you aren’t coming up with answers for it.

      1. juanholio

        “Why do horrible people keep getting elected?”

        George Carlin said it was a matter of “Garbage in, garbage out.”.

      2. albrt

        I think horrible people keep getting elected because most people are horrible. Present company excepted, of course.

        The weird thing is, I think most people will try to do the right thing, but only if they are forcibly confronted with a clear choice. Otherwise they will put almost unlimited effort into avoiding any inconvenient choice.

  17. antidlc


    A cause of America’s labor shortage: Millions with long COVID

    A cause of America’s labor shortage: Millions with long COVID

    By Aimee Picchi

    February 1, 2022 / 7:41 AM / MoneyWatch

    One of the puzzles of the pandemic economy is the ongoing labor shortage, with business owners struggling to find workers amid the so-called “Great Resignation.” But new research points to another — and more troubling — factor that helps explain the nation’s shrinking workforce: long COVID.

    Millions of Americans are struggling with long-term symptoms after contracting COVID-19, with many of them unable to work due to chronic health issues. Katie Bach, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said she was “floored” when she started crunching the numbers on the ranks of workers who have stepped out of the job market due to long COVID.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The numbers must be starting to tell. I just saw a story of how Dominoes in America is so short-staffed for drivers, that they are saying that they will offer $3 off each pizza if people come in to collect it themselves. Not $3 cheaper mind. It will just be a $3 credit from the cost of your next pizza.

    2. Samuel Conner

      The thought occurs that we’ll finally get serious governance interest in prophylaxis and promotion of NPIs when it is acknowledged that COVID has long-term consequences for the health of the work force.

      And the ‘Omicron is the beginning of the end of the pandemic’ meme … well, perhaps it isn’t even the end of the beginning.

      I just hope that there are consequences for the decision-makers who chose the country’s outcomes.

      Undying infamy, at the very least.

  18. NotThePilot

    Re: New legislation supported by Joe Biden proposes startup visas to attract talent

    I heard about this idea somewhere else recently, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe I’m just extremely jaded about my own experiences with education / credentialing, or maybe I’m just resentful I don’t get a SPAC.

    Of all the ways to choose whom to admit from 7.5+ billion other people on this earth though, our criterion is going to be much you schmooze with tech-bros. Personally, I’d rather take the migrants who are dedicated enough to come here despite having no money and half the country against them.

    1. John Steinbach

      Just another example of US Imperialism. Have the host country educate their citizens & then, when they get their diploma, hijack them to work here for less. So-called “Brain Drain.”

      1. NotThePilot

        So this is one of my really unusual opinions, but I’m actually also saying I think brain-drain is mostly an illusion. So it’s counterproductive to try over-engineering immigration policy around it. Without getting too into details, just think about how most media & managerial types use the word “talent”, especially the cargo-cult quality of it.

        I know it’s usually seen as a chicken-or-the-egg problem: “How will we develop our society if all the credentialed / educated people leave first?” But what if educated people don’t really develop society, they just fill niches that society collectively opens up for them?

        Then there’s the whole class-aspect of valorizing a specific subset of business owners and people they choose to recruit. A healthy society can find places for people, wherever they come from or what they bring with them. If you have a dysfunctional society though, you can import all the golden-children in the world; you’ll just wind up in a dysfunctional society with more yuppies.

    2. Lupana

      Couldn’t agree more. We burden our own kids with massive debt then offer support to people who come with an ownership interest in startups. Why can’t we help the talented people who are already here? Oh, right…we don’t want to create an entitlement mentality. (Manchin)

      1. NotThePilot

        I know, right? Though I’d point out that if we had education and labor systems that truly worked, there’s no reason we can’t educate a whole lot of people ourselves.

        That’s my real beef with this new visa. Beyond some obvious guidelines (e.g. no violent criminals), I actually don’t think judging people too much at the point of immigration is a very good idea. That’s especially true if the government’s going to bias its own judgments with preconceptions like start-up worship.

  19. Reader_In_Cali

    Most Excellent NC commentariat – here’s a little bit more inside baseball on yesterday’s stunning betrayal in Sacramento in our effort to get the first part of Single Payer across the finish line via AB 1400.

    For context, the lead up to yesterday had several triumphant moments, including: getting the CA Dem party to endorse AB 1400 back at the convention in the spring of 2021, endorsement and organizing from the very visible and powerful CA Nurses union, big influential CA labor endorsements, getting AB 1400 through committee a couple of weeks ago (to the surprise of many supporters).

    Yesterday, literally minutes before the bill was to be brought to the floor for a vote, Ash pulled the bill WITHOUT NOTIFYING ANYONE. Not the nurses or other left organizers, many of whom took off work to come to Sacramento to lobby their representatives, no one. Everyone was completely caught off guard. Well, everyone but Gavin Newsome I’m sure /s.

    Yesterday evening on the CADEM Progressive Caucus debrief Zoom call, Ash got ripped a new one! I mean, there were real fireworks! Everyone was demanding to know why he pulled it and didn’t bring the bill to the floor for a vote (#forcethevote), even though he claims to have not had to the votes for the bill to pass, because the left in CA has had the strategy of wanting lawmakers on record so that those who vote against can be primaried. Ash refused to name names, which only riled up the crowd more. People in the meeting made it clear that they are expecting some specific leaks out of his office, because they want to start organizing now to primary the holdouts. We shall see. “There needs to be consequences” is the refrain.

    I should also mention that no one thought that AB 1400 would get out of the Appropriations Committee, and when it did it caught the lobbyists off guard lol. They’ve been scrambling and swarming Sacramento for the last week, hosing down lawmakers.

    1. MK

      As the Hillary would rhetorically ask: What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?

      Lobbyists got exactly what they wanted here. Bill has to start at ground zero again.

      Move along, nothing to see.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        And, hey, just as reining in the banks won’t end racism (as per Hillary), neither will universal health care, right?

    2. curlydan

      thanks for that information. In his written statement, Ash’s thanking Speaker Rendon for support was particularly galling when the Speaker had to be one of the people pulling hardest to remove this bill.

    3. Tom Stone

      Bills like AB1400 generate a lot of donations.
      That’s why Dems keep”Fighting For” them and why they make sure they never pass.
      AB 1400 got further along than expected which is why Ash had to take one for the team by pulling it.

        1. ambrit

          And that Party is rotten to that ‘core.’
          Time to toss the Democrat Party into the Dumpster of History. (Especially if they start a war in Eastern Europe.)

    4. aletheia33

      reminds me a bit of the public shock that ensued when gov. shumlin vetoed the single payer healthcare bill in vt after running on a promise to support it (and gaining the endorsement of a third party–the progressive party–by trading with them for that promise). there was widespread public support, and a lot of work went into getting the bill through the state house. and with one simple action . . . it was over. what he had promised to his campaign donors then seemed in little doubt. (vt readers correct me if i’ve got any of this wrong, my memory is unreliable.)

      this guy in california, who couldn’t refuse whatever he was offered, at the last minute so no one could get out in front of it, is just another example of the same old thing.

      we’ve got to learn to watch more carefully how emerging leaders, even the best of them, get broken, just like horses. TPTB are or have experts in all the ways to do this. how well do we–their victims–know their business? surely not as well as they do.

      how well do we–the victims–know what is needed to prevent such purchases of human beings by TPTB? are we putting all we know about it into action? are we anticipating betrayal, as we must, and planning how to prevent or maneuver in response to it? how many in the CADEM progressive caucus feel they have too much at stake to risk if they call this guy out in public, instead of being content to yell at him in private?

      nevermind, i know it’s hopeless at this point, this is just human nature and its manipulation by the most accomplished of manipulators. and the deck stacked against us in so many other ways.

      anyway, a big thank you to lambert & yves and the NC crew for reminding us of this and keeping watch when we the victims cannot. and thank you to reader_in_cali for this sad, sad and infuriating report.

      1. ambrit

        Alas, this is a clear indication that electoral politics in America are bankrupt. Time to move on to more “robust” political action.

  20. Harold

    Just a guess, but the tree looks something like a peach tree to me, at least the downward pointing leaves.

  21. antidlc


    Israeli boy, 11, has caught 3 different coronavirus strains
    Alon Helfgott has officially been infected with Alpha, Delta, and now Omicron; says he’s been in quarantine 3-4 times since start of school year

    In a relatively rare case, an 11-year-old Israeli boy has been infected with three different coronavirus variants.

    After it was confirmed this week that Alon Helfgott from the central Israel city of Kfar Saba is positive for the virus, he has now officially been infected with the Alpha, Delta and Omicron strains.

    “I’m fine, feeling pretty healthy, without so many symptoms,” he told Channel 12 news on Sunday.

  22. JBird4049

    >>>Sleeping Beauty Castle is not a defensible position.

    What’s the problem? It already has a moat. Make the bridge into a drawbridge, then Just add some murder holes, arrow slits, and a portcullis, then it is ready for use! Just be sure to add some solar panels to power the freezers during the zombie apocalypse.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The problem with a moat and huge walls is that when faced with a better equipped attacker, it turns your castle into a kill-box with few options to retreat. So I would be thinking in terms of low-priced hobby drones carrying in incendiaries for a start.

  23. MichaelC

    One more example of the necessity to beef up public Wastewater reporting, especially as the confirmed cases data becomes even more meaningless as we self test without self reporting.


    Nice examples of ww spikes vs confirmed cases at super spread events. Disconnect could be due to attendance by non locals who don’t get counted in the local confirmed cases data.

    Confirms what many suspected , that impact of superspreader events were under appreciated.

    I’d love to see the ww data at the playoff stadiums. Anyone know if KC publishes their results.

  24. KD

    “McConnell wants a policy-free midterm campaign. Others in the GOP are less sure.”

    Look, we are the good do-nothing party, they are the bad do-nothing party! Elect us!

    Usually not a fan of Mitch, but if he wins on this, it may be the first time the GOP ran with an honest policy platform.

  25. David

    I was amused to see the Atlantic article raising the possibility of “sending hundreds of thousands of Americans to Ukraine,” There aren’t hundreds of thousands who could be sent in any realistic timescale. There probably aren’t even tens of thousands. It’s all the fault of Geography.

    As Scott Ritter among others, has pointed out, the US has at most two combat brigades available in Europe, which would need to be brought up to wartime establishment and then sent, probably by rail, to where they were needed. There are small US detachments scattered all over the place, but the only really big source of reinforcements is in the Continental US. They would have to be formed up, cross the Atlantic by ship, dock somewhere (Riga? Varna in Bulgaria? – not among the great ports of the world) and then move by train. (You can get a single M1 tank aside a C17, but the fuel and ammunition would have to travel separately.) By way of comparison, it took six months to transport the troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia for Desert Storm in 1991, in a very different era, when large numbers of US troops were deployed forward.

    The problem is essentially the same one that confronted NATO in the Cold War. The Atlantic. But it’s worse because Russian troops would have a lot less far to go than Soviet troops would have, but NATO troops a lot further. Because it was politically impossible to keep huge numbers of US troops in Germany, the vast majority of the troops who would have fought any Soviet invaders came from European nations, who generally had conscription to supply the necessary manpower. That’s long gone, and European nations now have small professional forces, often with a very limited capability. So the numbers aren’t there. The other guy has a bigger stick than you have.

    1. LawnDart

      A lot I don’t recall, but under emergency situations when rules went bye-bye, we could (in theory) carry three M1s on a C-5 at 120-125k a piece.

      Took off on a mission with FRED at just under 1M# once (773k normal max, 840k ewp max, and we smoked that by an easy 100k)– 3rd heaviest take-off for a “free-world” aircraft ever: with no “rejects” permitted (or possible), from a standing TRT, we used every inch of the runway to get into the air. The howling, rumbling and shaking was unreal, and I’m sure every crewmember was thinking as I was, “This is not a good idea…” but, “f^@k it.” So friggin tired at that point, didn’t care… …pretty much got over the death-thing as no big sweat: 30, 40-somethinghour crew duty days turned existence into something without form or meaning, as it was or wasn’t– nothing deep or philosophically meaningful about it, just do, though I digress… brake-release and we rode into the beyond, and hell I’m telling this story.

      But for PG1 it was mostly pallets, pallets and Humvees, Humvees and Duece-and-a-halves with 60-70 troopers upstairs, and sometimes 3-5 helicopters with crews and their support. Tanks and artillery were pre-positioned or came over later via sea. I would suspect that any engagement in the Ukie AOR or whatever the f they call it would likely rely on pre-positioned equipment, ya know, like the s#!t left to fight the Soviets in the ’70s-80’s. If we were going to fight the Russians next month they would have started positioning equipment last August…

      …Unless they plan on using nukes to defend our Western interests, hopefully stopping after Berlin turns a smouldering radioactive neon green.

      1. Paradan

        I think we have a brigade or two’s worth of armor, IFVs and other heavy vehicles forward deployed in Europe. No personal, so not an actual unit deployment. We also keep a MEF in Qatar/UAE? Still it’d take a month to wind-up,and there has been no general mobilization, like putting reserves on stand-by etc.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Playing tag with bush-leaguers in the Sandbox over the past twenty years is one thing, but when you go against Ivan in his front yard, that is when you are playing in the Bigs. Note too – the supply lines from New York to Kiev are about 4,670 miles (7,515 kilometers) alone while the Russkies are already in their own country on the border. The Pentagon took a long hard look at this, stepped back from the table, and said ‘Bugger!’

      1. John

        On the money. So what has all the huffing and puffing been about? The Russians were never, I say again, never going to play the game as some genius designed it. They seem to play a very simplified game of Checkers inside the DC bubble with no notion of Chess or Go or even read Sun Tzu. The only weapon seems to be sanctions, words, bluster. When some genius finds the words to put lipstick on this pig, at least to their own satisfaction, it will be over. Putin and Xi will meet at the Olympics. I wait patiently for 21 February when the games are over. What might be announced then?

        1. John

          Boris and Biden need a distraction to stop their numbers plunge. Vicky Nuland needs a wargasm. The mic needs new war monger contracts. They could be stupid enough to do it. It took a year to build up for Saddam by sea. I doubt Vlad will let that happen. Some fruitcake faction in the Pentagon prolly thinks a few nukes is what we need for climate change. And why not a throne of russki skulls as well as chinese ones. Empires on the way down are dangerous. I’m confident Vlad and Xi understand that. How do we get the crazy uncle sam on thorazine and to the padded room without burning down the house?

    3. Daryl

      > I was amused to see the Atlantic article raising the possibility of “sending hundreds of thousands of Americans to Ukraine,” There aren’t hundreds of thousands who could be sent in any realistic timescale. There probably aren’t even tens of thousands. It’s all the fault of Geography.

      Can we shore up the numbers by sending op-ed writers and people with blue checkmarks on Twitter?

  26. Etrigan

    Eugh more tribe crap! Human history is so irreducibly weird that I question whether actual anthropological and archeological descriptions of what a tribe is are remotely compatible with our squidgy, bloated conceptions of them now, grafting the idea onto huge consensus politics groups charged by algorithm monopolies and billions of dollars of grease. Then saying it’s …inevitable because brains. Tribal cultures had thousands of methods of reducing in-group tensions like ceremonial fights and death rituals and schizmogenic inverting roles, so many ways to deflate tensions and reframe them socially invented over the centuries. Modern big media is the exact opposite of that, a governor engine designed to increase inter group pressure til it explodes. It’s just like how we imagine the history of money is without understanding debts used to be forgiven en mass!

    1. JBird4049

      >>>Modern big media is the exact opposite of that, a governor engine designed to increase inter group pressure til it explodes.

      It is usually in the interest of everyone in a society especially the leadership to keep to keep tensions down; the desire for wealth is a reason to either not care about it or to ramp it up for profit; the increasing subversion of and therefore increasing tensions in the political economy of the Roman Republic, just as in the Republic today, to maintain the accumulation of wealth by the elites is why the Roman Empire replaced it.

      Small scale farms and businesses were the strength of not only the state, but of the army as well. To maintain social status and to support political ambitions, one had to serve, and to serve meant buying the arms and armor needed to serve. Due to the various policies of the Roman Senate, increasing numbers of citizens could not afford service as they had lost their farms while doing so often because of the taxes imposed on them. This making them and their families destitute. When the general Gaius Marius replaced the old system with a military (because he couldn’t get enough qualified recruits) whose legionnaires were fully equipped and paid for by the general own funds, that transferred the legions’ loyalty to their generals from the state. The ruling elites continued to impoverish Roman citizens, use corruption and assassinations and seizing of all assets(ultimately including the political losers’ followers and their families) plus starting wars to plunder and enslave entire countries. And that led to the final series of civil wars that created the Roman Empire.

      Funny. The Romans of the Republic were fearful of tyrants and of kings, but could not stop destroying their country often because they were too busy trying to gain wealth and status while eventually trying to exterminate their opponents. They went from loyalty to the Republic, then loyalty to wealth (and class), and finally to small cliques all while using evermore brutal, ruthless, even lawless and shortsighted methods.

      Reminds me of us. Only we might be of the Roman Republic right after the Second Punic War. Or is Russia supposed to be Carthage? Hah! Unlike the Carthaginians, the Russians know that these Romans are liars. Maybe some time yet, and the details are different, but they do rhyme.

      1. NotThePilot

        It’s a whole tangent, but I’m actually partial to the idea that if the US is analogous to any society from Classical history, it might actually be Syracuse.

        We definitely have some moral failings in common with Rome, but we’re not unique in that regard. We also have a lot of outward features that resemble Rome, but that’s largely because so many people actively modeled things on Rome (especially when classical education was more common).

        When you look at other things in US history that sort of unfolded naturally though, you can definitely start seeing certain correspondences.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>When you look at other things in US history that sort of unfolded naturally though, you can definitely start seeing certain correspondences.

          Thank you for the suggestion of Syracuse. What I’m thinking about is the violence that would erupt in the political process. There’s the comparison between the American reformers JFK, Malcom X, MLK, RFK and the Roman Republic’s Gracchi Brothers; it’s more that the protections of the law and of both Constitutions go away when the status, power, and wealth of the elites are threatened with even the tiniest diminution as if they were likely to become completely destitute. Even some of the letters by those in power are similarly bonkers even if they are two thousand years apart.

          Also, that the methods they used could used against themselves doesn’t even seem to have occurred to the Roman elites at all while some Americans especially in the 1920s and 1930s seemed to have some vague feelings of fear or unease. I do not see any self reflection by the 0.001 and the PMC or 10% that comprises the nomenklatura and their apparatchiks. Then there is the American glitterati that controls what is supposedly culture and the literati that run the various media or perhaps better described as the propaganda outlets. We’re being led by memory free, thoughtless, blood thirsty gerbils with the self control of a kindergarten of sugared up children.

  27. Pelham

    Re Trump and voting machines: I was losing the intricate narrative thread when I watched it, but in the last half-season of “Ozark” on Netflix there was an episode in which a senator revealed his son held a major stake in a voting-machine company — the implication being that the machines could be manipulated to ensure the senator’s lucrative return to office. I’ve always assumed that any use of voting machines — even with, and perhaps especially with, a “paper trail” — casts doubt on any election.

    Why would anyone assign any credibility to a black box in this context? And for that matter, why should Trump or his people be excluded from those allowed to raise such questions?

    1. Pavel

      Paper ballots, hand-counted. This is the norm in many countries and strangely they don’t seem to have week-long controversies over who won.

      And why indeed is it wrong for Trump to query the machines? Many were outraged in Bush v Kerry when the machine vote in Ohio seemed very suspicious. There was a site called blackboxvoting that looked into these matters.

      There was also a clip put out by Trumpistas last year with a bunch of soundbites from Democrats stating how unreliable and corrupt machine voting is.

      Paper ballots, hand-counted!

  28. JWP

    Here’s a wild update: Down here in Winston-Salem, NC, a fertilizer plant has been on fire for about a day. There’s 600 tons of ammonium nitrate, the same stuff from the texas and Beirut explosions. They’ve evacuated one mile around the factory, about 6500 people for 48 hours, or until tomorrow night. Our school, Wake Forest has decided to return to in person class tomorrow after canceling it today. The evacuation area includes most of the off-campus housing for students, so forcing students back into the area (school is 1.2 miles from the site) without shelter. So far no explosion, but the smoke is thick and smell is nasty.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I wonder how our nuke plants are doing? We’re not robust to old people being incapacitated, witness Brandon avoiding the Bazooka Joe look.

  29. rowlf

    I got to see corporate marketing testing of the phrase As the Covid-19 pandemic transitions to “Ordinary Seasonal Virus” today. Gobsmacking. It will be interesting to follow as it is released into the wild and the people in the news space* pick it up.

    * where the news used to be.

  30. molon labe

    “9th Circuit won’t address dying patients’ plea to use magic mushrooms” [Reuters]. Has the Ninth Circuit ever before declined jurisdiction over anything?

  31. The Rev Kev

    “Sequoia, Insight Back Startup Building Web Browser for Business”

    A secure web browser for businesses from a joint effort from Texas and Israel? Of course it will be – with no built in back-doors I am sure. On an unrelated note, I am trying to remember the name of a film that I saw once set in medieval times. A Knight, about to go on Crusade, had just had his wife fitted with a chastity-belt and just received the only key from the blacksmith just before setting off. As he went past the castle gates and was out of sight, the blacksmith immediately called out “Spare keys! Spare keys for sale!” and was deluged by a mob of men. Don’t know why I thought of that film.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      The inability of proprietary software to compete with open source strikes me as a useful metaphor for our times.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        And, if that’s not in Robin Hood: Men In Tights, af least watch the clip of a baby-faced Dave Chapelle doing a spot-on Malcolm X imitation… Classic Mel…

    2. ambrit

      I believe that plot was proposed by Billy Wilder as a vehicle for Cary Grant as the locksmith, but never made. The subject matter was considered too risque back then.

  32. Matthew G. Saroff

    I am not a lawyer, but how is Tesla offering a feature that knowing breaks traffic laws not an interstate criminal conspiracy, wire fraud, and possibly RICO?

  33. Ed S.

    New COVID cases in top travel destinations

    While most look good, don’t miss the big spike in cases in the UK in the last day to the highest point in the chart (UK only) . Data issue? Or the start of BA2?

  34. FreeMarketApologist

    Biologists have found an animal for the first time that communicates with the complexity of human language

    As if human communication is the be all and end all of complexity. I would suggest that if they keep looking, they will find animals that communicate in far more complex ways than humans. (But how would they be able to tell?)

    1. JBird4049

      Western scientists do seem to have a blind spot with language. Specifically, that it must be verbal or oral communication and not visual or tactile as Helen Keller’s “reading” of finger movements on her hand or braille. Maybe some animals communicate by scent as I can imagine creating words with a good means of controlled emissions. The average human would not have a clue.

      Then there is sign language which many of my classmates would use. This makes looking at mainly the development of those areas of the mouth and throat that controls speech silly. As was the attempts to down play the intelligence of Neanderthals because their vocal apparatus might not have been able to easily handle modern verbal languages, which have been created to use the body we have today, not the voice box of a quarter of a million years ago.

      If modern apes can be taught to communicate with signs why would humans a million years ago not do so as well? Yes, their language might not be as sophisticated as ours, but the more sophisticated use of tools and fire, more than any modern great ape other than humans, is there.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The talk was useful. There was an extended discussion of inflation in the context of national mobilization of real resources for transformation of the energy system (and much else that may need to be changed for the sake of sustainability. An interesting point was that many of the ‘sustainable development goals’ of the UN can be approached through the MMT concept of a Job Guarantee with the JG jobs being adequately paid with good benefits, and the JG work being oriented toward transformation toward sustainability). The examples of US and UK in WWII (Keynes got a shout-out; “How to Pay for the War”) were brought up as instances of resource-constrained national mobilizations. Measures beyond central bank interest rate setting may be required to restrain inflation.

      The alternative mindset, which currently prevails, is that ‘we can’t afford to do the things that a necessary to preserve the habitability of the planet’.

      (maybe we really are ‘chimps in pig skin’; rationality and concerted social action are late comers)

      I console myself with the thought that the decline will, at least, not be boring.

      stay well, all.

  35. Amfortas the hippie

    Stoller: “It definitely feels like it all has to collapse.”

    it probably does.
    our dominant minority(toynbee)/power elite(Mills) won’t, by definition, give up power.
    root and branch, they’ll hafta be removed and sequestered…
    unfortunately, a great many of the constituency(those who vote/pay attention to court politics) are utterly insane, in one way or the other.
    and yet they are True Believers, and thus must also be sequestered.
    were i a revolutionary….in the classic sense(something for which i am far too painful and tired)….i’d begin by overtaking one or more of the Big Media Satellite Feeds…before the Right gets there.
    i’d also, simultaneously, overtake as many of the webparasites as possible(faceborg, twitter).
    ….were i a revolutionary.

    sadly, i am not…i am instead, a broken old man in the wilderness, with delusions of agency.

  36. Amfortas the hippie

    “Golden Corral wouldn’t answer our email asking if a lack of steak caused the melee”

    so …food riots in the USA…

    note that both the local landed gentry, as well as their upper management support staff, eat there.
    bonding exercise between the local bigwigs, and their people who keep the plates spinning.

    i worked at a golden corral when i was young…for about 3 months.
    contributed to my aversion for corporate kitchens.
    (it’s essentially TV Dinners on a Buffet)
    redneck comfort food.

    (if you’d like to experience what GC aspires to, try Luby’s…down in Texas.(https://www.lubys.com/)—i like the square fried fish, with a pile of tartar sauce…same demographics and power relations, but different, somehow)

    1. juneau

      I don’t underestimate the rage of hungry people, or the resentment over the skyrocketing price of steak. Some of the more explosive fights and assaults, when working in facilities that served the homeless, were over food (not getting a second food tray on request, someone stealing milk, etc…). It taught me to respect people’s sense of desperation over food. I grew up near Bensalem but never ever saw a fight in a restaurant. Bars yes, restaurants, no.

  37. Jason Boxman

    From here.

    That’s no trivial proposition! The lack of trust among strangers is the source of many costs and inefficiencies in our society. Thirty percent of American health care spending is administration, and nearly all of that is insurers making sure they’re not getting ripped off by doctors and doctors making sure they’re not getting ripped off by insurers.

    Oddly we know that isn’t true. It’s actually a challenge to get major insurers to care about fraud, from investigative reporting on this issue. Unfortunately I don’t have any links handy, but it’s been linked here in the past several years, and came as a surprise to me enough that I remember. I believe I read it here:


    1. albrt

      I am a lawyer who sometimes sues insurance companies, so what I am about to say is based on personal experience and I have no links to support it.

      Insurance companies love to beat up their customers about fraud because then they can delay paying. Insurance companies do not give a crap about systemic fraud in whatever industry they are parasitizing – increased costs mean increased premiums.

  38. ChrisRUEcon


    FOR. EVER. indebted to this family blog for introducing me to Adolph Reed. He never disappoints.

    “I taught Obama’s cohort—the Yale version,” Reed told me. “And I was struck by how many of them were so convinced that the whole purpose of the civil-rights movement was that people like them could go to Ivy League colleges and go to Wall Street afterward, how many of them were dispositively convinced that rich people are smarter than the rest of us.” It was the same perspective, Reed went on, that suggested that “more Oscars for Ava DuVernay is like a victory for the civil-rights movement, and not just for Ava DuVernay and her agent.”

    Cornel West, at times one of Reed’s targets (Reed once denounced him as “a freelance race relations consultant and Moral Voice for whites”) and lately an ally, told me, “Brother Adolph has three deep hatreds. He hates the ugly consequences of predatory capitalist processes. And he hates the neoliberal rationalization for those predatory capitalist processes. And he hates the use of race as a construct that promotes the neoliberal rationalization of predatory capitalist processes. A trinity of hatreds—you could almost put that as the epitaph on his grave.”

    So good it hurts. Bless.

  39. VietnamVet


    Compared to the age of the earth, modern homo sapiens, are brand new and came out of Africa. Genetically the 7.753 billion humans are descendants of around 40 breeding pairs in 70,000 BC. The oldest human burial in Africa is 80,000 years old. Before then human language, consciousness and economics did not recognize the afterlife. Humans are almost all identical except for the lack of melatonin in northern tribes selected by evolution so the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur. Melatonin darkened skin is selected in the tropics to avoid burns and cancer.

    As travelers attest, people get along when there are no shortages, gangs or strife. The problem is that there is never enough. Unless isolated in Eden, there is always an ongoing sexual and resource selection pressure on humans within the tribes and culture where they live. Past cataclysms were passed on by oral histories. However, written language, libraries and education allow the young to learn to do things without the need for them to be reinvented every new generation or listen to their elders. The better educated have an advantage through time over those who aren’t.

    The real problem with western neoliberalism and the free movement of people, goods, capital and services is that it is completely divorced from reality of living on one earth at the edge of galaxy in an expanding universe. There are clashes of civilizations. There is ethnic cleansing going on right now in Myanmar and elsewhere. Borders protect populations from disease and cause second thoughts about invasion. The coronavirus pandemic and almost a million deaths in the USA are directly caused by not forcing every incoming traveler to quarantine for 21 days plus the hindering off-patent treatments and ignoring non-pharmaceutical interventions to increase corporate profits. The lives of others do not matter.

    The underlying cause of the rush to war in Ukraine is access to resources. Russia has them. It is using natural gas to pull Germany out of NATO by threatening the cut it off in the dead of winter. Western oligarchs want Russia’s energy for themselves.

    Unless reality is acknowledged, the end times will repeat once again and this time there may be no breeding pairs to survive to repopulate the earth – a flash in the pan in a giant petri dish.

    1. Quentin

      VietnamVet, you write: ‘The underlying cause of the rush to war in Ukraine is access to resources. Russia has them. It is using natural gas to pull Germany out of NATO by threatening the cut it off in the dead of winter. Western oligarchs want Russia’s energy for themselves.’

      Instead, Russia seems to be ‘threatening’ to supply a lot more natural gas to Germany and Western Europe through the recently completed NS 2 pipeline. Who is agitating against initiating NS 2?: that selfsame Germany and the US, egged on by the likes of Texas LNG interests, combined with the Russophobia conjured into existence by Ms. Clinton and her claque to mask their own political hypocrisy and ineptness. Russia says, ‘Natural resources for sale, now or never.’

  40. JohnH

    Re: winter shorts dudes

    Totally a real thing

    They have a lot of confidence that their car will start, won’t break down or get a flat, and/or that someplace warm will let them in should those things come to pass.

    Lt Gov can feel pretty safe outside in winter while dressed for summer, but I typically question the judgment of men who are out and about in shorts in January for the above reasons.

    I’ve walked many miles in the cold to get help when car broke down, etc. It was bad enough in denim. Just kinda makes you think these guys haven’t ever seen any hardship of the sort, or weren’t capable of learning from it. You don’t see many of the unhoused dressed this way, do you?

    JMO YMMV I like Fetterman but not winter shorts dudes

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