2:00PM Water Cooler 2/11/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Not long, but very pretty warbling!

* * *


“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

“Prosecutors plan to call defendant’s children to testify in first US Capitol attack trial” [CNN]. “As the first trial for a January 6 US Capitol riot defendant approaches, prosecutors are laying out a strategy that includes calling a member of former Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail and the defendant’s two children to the stand. The trial of Guy Reffitt, a Texas Three Percenter, is scheduled to start at the end of February. Prosecutors revealed the possible witnesses and evidence they plan to present to jurors in a court filing on Monday. The list shows the vast amount of evidence the Department of Justice has gathered in the past year, as prosecutors have brought cases against hundreds of people, and on how they plan to approach what could be dozens of trials in the coming months…. Prosecutors allege that Reffitt took a gun to the Capitol, where he engaged in a prolonged battle with police.” • A “battle”?

“Investigators find gaps in White House phone records from Jan. 6: report” [The Hill]. “Investigators from the House select committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol have found gaps in the White House phone records on the day of the insurrection, reports The New York Times. Investigators were unable to find the logs of calls by former President Trump during hours on that day when they know he was sometimes on the phone. There is no evidence that official logs were changed or deleted, the Times reports, and Trump often used his personal phone or those of aides for calls. At least one call directed to Trump on the day of the Capitol riot was picked up by an aide. Trump is known to have spoken to GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), but the call was not present in the official records shared with the investigative committee, according to the Times.” • From the Times story:

Some of the records that the Jan. 6 committee has received had been ripped to shreds and taped back together, reflecting the former president’s habit of tearing up documents. In addition, he removed more than a dozen boxes of presidential records from the White House when he left office, which the National Archives believes contained classified material, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The House Oversight committee on Thursday announced an investigation into what it called “potential serious violations” of the Presidential Records Act.

Biden Adminstration

“White House weighing former Obama adviser for senior Treasury job” [Politico]. “Prior to becoming a member of Obama’s economic council, Shambaugh served as a CEA staff economist focusing on international economics, and later as chief economist. After leaving the CEA, he spent three years as director of the Hamilton Project, a progressive economic think tank affiliated with Brookings. He also served on the Biden administration’s CEA transition team.” • Oh.

“Foreign policy “Blob” backs Biden on Ukraine” [Axios]. For a long time, I’ve thought of The Blog as a protoplasmic entity, like the Vugs in Philip K. Dick’s Game Players of Titan. But perhaps The Blog is more like a Shoggoth. In any case: “‘Policy has been clearly framed and communicated to allies and adversaries alike — blunting Russia’s ability to manipulate events,’ decreed the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, whose scoops and analysis drive coverage in foreign policy circles, on Feb. 1.” Contrasted to: “In mid-August, before the suicide blast at Kabul’s airport that killed 13 Americans and at least 170 Afghans, Ignatius called the situation a ‘disaster,’ and concluded, ‘Biden owns the final decision, for better or worse.'” • Ignatius drives coverage because he’s a CIA goon. I don’t find any of this encouraging.

Biden interview:

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.

* * *

“Cuomo editorial missed point: that disputed conduct was never a crime (Your Letters)” [Syracuse.com (Bob)]. “A kiss on the cheek or touching someone’s back is not against the law and never has been.” • Cuomo still has a spokesman on the payroll. And it sounds like he’s getting ready for his close-up.

Republican Funhouse

“‘Pro-Worker Conservatives’ Are Just Union Busters in Thin Disguise” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “The Republican Party does not want to increase workers’ bargaining power. The GOP coalition may be home to a growing number of working-class voters. But voters do not generally set party agendas; interest groups do. There are a lot of organized business interests aligned with the Republican Party, from countless local chambers of commerce to small-business groups to the National Restaurant Association. But beyond America’s police and border-guard unions, there are virtually no labor organizations exercising power within the Republican tent. What’s more, precisely because organized labor has no voice in the GOP — but has some in the Democratic Party — America’s most Republican business interests also tend to be its most exploitative. Highly profitable, capital-intensive corporations can afford to support the Democratic Party, since a pro-labor National Labor Relations Board won’t threaten their core interests. Low productivity businesses that can’t afford even marginal increases in their workers’ rights, however, are deeply invested in Republican rule. For the GOP therefore, pleasing working-class voters is a means; serving the interests of low-road employers is the end. ”

Who let this happen:


* * *

Red meat for the base (1):

Red meat for the base (2):

Red meat for the base (3):

“Carville promotes new super PAC for Conor Lamb” [Politico]. “The fact that a super PAC is backing Lamb is a major development in one of the nation’s most closely watched Senate races. Lamb, a moderate, has so far been outraised by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the progressive frontrunner in the Democratic contest for the open Senate seat. An independent expenditure could help Lamb cut into Fetterman’s financial advantage. It is perfectly legal for candidates to talk to donors of super PACs backing them and appear at their fundraisers, as long as they do not personally solicit contributions in excess of finance limits for their campaigns. Still, many Democratic activists are troubled by the practice. Former President Barack Obama appeared at a fundraising event for a super PAC supporting him in 2012. During her 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton also met with super PAC donors. Carville’s email states that ‘Conor Lamb is appearing at these events only as a featured speaker; he is not asking for funds or donation.'” • Lol. Come on. Anyhow, I guess Manchin must be just about used up, because Carville wants to elect a new one.

“Here come the Covid midterms” [Politico]. “Republican strategists have described the pandemic to Nightly as a godsend, with its effects on both inflation and education, two of voters’ top concerns, as well as on Biden’s dismal public approval ratings. GOP strategists are vowing to run on unpopular Covid restrictions even if they’ve been taken away. They gleefully predict that Biden’s party will pay a price in the midterm elections for, in their view, waiting too long. The prospect that people will remember school shutdowns and mask mandates — and punish Democrats for them — is one possible outcome of pandemic politics, assuming the lull continues. But let’s stipulate that, in November, children aren’t wearing masks in schools, that families have spent the summer posing for pictures at Disney World and hugging Mickey Mouse. In that Clorox-free scenario, it’s not clear that Republicans are the party that will gain an advantage.” • Meanwhile, a million dead with no political consequences for either party. Surely there must be some opening for a candidate who hates both party establishments equally?

“Police records complicate Herschel Walker’s recovery story” [Associated Press]. “Walker’s already turbulent personal history… includes his acknowledged struggles with mental health, violent outbursts and accusations that he repeatedly threatened his ex-wife. And it will test voters’ acceptance of Walker’s assertion that he has long since been a changed person.” • Let the oppo begin! (And from the article, it seems like there is rather a lot.)


“Tom Brady Could Beat Elizabeth Warren” [The American Conservative]. “My instinct is that it would be virtually impossible for Tom Brady to lose an election in Massachusetts. If even I feel such intense loyalty to the man, I can only imagine the feelings he inspires in people who actually care. (Efforts by the liberal Boston Globe to manufacture a controversy over Brady’s supposed snub of Boston in his retirement announcement are, I think, clearly intended to preempt just such a run.)…. It does remain unclear, however, just how much of a realignment Republican Brady really is. He owns a red hat and is chummy with 45, but beyond that we know as much about Brady’s prospective career as I know about his former one. He is completely inexperienced in politics, and his policy inclinations are entirely uncharted. I say let him figure it out as he goes; the man is good at thinking on his feet.” • Certainly the Senate is a better prospect for Brady than selling vitamin supplements, or whatever it is he plans to do.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Propaganda at work:

“Open Everything” [Yascha Mounk, Tne Atlantic]. We have already linked to this, but I want to call out one sentence: “Many of us became accustomed to carrying out an informal risk-benefit analysis before every outing.” • Mounk clearly believes this is over the top, just too much. In the midst of a still-continuing global pandemic? Reallly? OTOH:

See NC, August 16, 2021

“How Is America Still This Bad at Talking About the Pandemic?” [The Atlantic]. “But one thing about the pandemic has remained largely unchanged: Political and scientific leaders are still struggling to communicate recommendations to the American public. Are mask mandates warranted at work and school? First we were told no; then, yes; now the answer, for good reasons this time, is changing again. Are fourth mRNA shots necessary for the most vulnerable? First the CDC said no; then, to get one five months after the third dose; and now the waiting period has been reduced to three months.” • Perhaps the confusion was the point; after all, if our “political and scientific leaders” had clearly formulated a theory of tranmission based on science — aerosols — uncomfortable measures might have had to be taken, like spending money on ventilation, not just in schools but in factories and all closed spaces (especially restaurants, bars, and churches). Best to do the minimum and muddle through. Or less than the minimum:

The fourth-wealthiest county in the United States is protecting its children with Plexiglass shields. Not a HEPA filter or a Corsi box in sight, let alone a window. This is more than “bad communication.”

“‘People are moving on with their lives’: is the end of Omicron in sight?” [Financial Times]. “‘People are moving on with their lives,’ agreed Ali Mokdad, a University of Washington global health professor. ‘The question is not will countries lift all restrictions, but when.'” Remind me never to listen to a “global health professor. More: “[T]wo years on, with Omicron receding [except for BA.2, of course], moves are afoot to scrap even basic measures, as a range of governments bank on high levels of population immunity and broad vaccine coverage to limit the pressure on hospitals.” • Because of course hospitals are immensely powerful institutionally (and in the US, highly profitable), and who cares about Long Covid, vascular damage, and so on….

“Abrupt end to mask mandates reflects a shifting political landscape” [WaPo]. “State officials say the decisions are driven by data showing that the worst of the omicron surge has passed, but acknowledge they must also weigh a weary public’s tolerance for pandemic life. Even as the Biden administration continues to recommend mask requirements, many of the biggest states led by Democrats are abruptly taking a different tack. California, Oregon, Delaware and Connecticut joined New Jersey in announcing a partial end to mask mandates Monday. The governors of Rhode Island and Massachusetts announced plans Wednesday to end school mask mandates, while the executives of New York and Illinois said they would scrap mask requirements for businesses but are still reviewing schools. Washington announced it would end an outdoor mask mandate and the indoor mask mandate was under review. Several of these Democratic governors have stressed that their constituents need to live with the virus, echoing rhetoric that their Republican counterparts adopted earlier in the pandemic when they declined to take statewide measures to curb the delta and omicron surges.”

“Masks off? Democrats try for a pandemic pivot” [Politico]. “Many in the party are now coming around to what swing-district lawmakers have privately warned for weeks: that the Biden administration needs to drastically rethink its handling of Covid, particularly in the suburbs. Those vulnerable Democrats worry that ugly clashes over masks, school closings and vaccine mandates will crush them in purple districts this fall. But the current shift may be too little, too late to avoid blowback from voters wearied by pandemic whiplash.” • The argument could be made that the clashes are so ugly only because Democrats have been so consistently weak (not to say unprincipled. I mean, when major party figures keep appearing in public unmasked, what does that say?). The clashes are also ugly because Republicans aren’t frivolous about their political commitments.

* * *

“No, Democrats and Republicans Aren’t Equally Anti-Democratic” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Progressivism’s affection for popular democracy is also fickle, but it is by no means equally so. Like every other ideological movement in the history of democratic politics, American liberals would like public policy to reflect their preferences, even for issues on which they lack a popular mandate. Nevertheless, they are not trying to immunize their ideological project from democratic rebuke through targeted disenfranchisement or baseless allegations of election fraud. The Trumpist GOP has a monopoly on that pastime. If the left’s commitment to minority rights renders it hostile to some forms of majority rule, that same commitment fortifies its support for fundamental democratic rights since the socially marginalized have a greater investment in democratic equality and rule of law than the socially dominant. Liberals are the fair-weather friends of popular self-rule; the modern conservative movement is its enemy.” • I’m not sure that’s the killer argument Levitz thinks it is. What’s the weather like, and what’s it going to be like?

“States consider record wave of voting bills” [The Hill]. “A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, a group that supports expanded voting rights, found legislators in more than half the states have already introduced about 250 bills that would restrict the right to vote. At this point a year ago, just 75 such measures had been introduced…. About two-thirds of all states will consider measures that would expand the right to vote. Nearly 400 of those measures had been introduced by mid-January, according to the Brennan Center’s research.” • There was a lot of panic about redistricting, too, and look what happened…

“No, the Revolution Isn’t Over” [The Upheaval]. On wokeness: “8. Majorities don’t matter. Unfortunately for those dreaming of harnessing a majority anti-woke popular will, the truth is that, as statistician and philosopher Nassim Taleb has explained in detail, it’s typically not the majority that sets new societal rules, but the most intolerant minority. If the vast majority generally prefers to eat Food A instead of Food B, but a small minority is absolutely insistent on eating Food B and is willing to start chopping the heads off of anyone who disagrees and serves Food A – and the majority doesn’t care enough to get all bloody dying on this particular culinary hill – all restaurants will soon be serving only Food B, the new national cuisine. This is especially true if the intolerant minority already holds a disproportionate position of influence within the system, given that… 9. Personnel is policy. Let’s imagine, for example, that some lawmakers officially ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in their state’s schools or universities. Will this be the end of the matter? Will all the woke teachers and administrators who consider “consciousness raising” through “critical pedagogy” – or in general what Marxists call “praxis,” the constant need for the transformation of theory into practice – to be practically a religious commandment just stop doing so? No of course not.”

“Boy Scouts: Tentative Deal With Official Sex Abuse Claimants” [US News]. “Two years after filing for Chapter 11 protection amid a flood of child sex abuse lawsuits, the Boy Scouts of America has reached a tentative settlement with an official bankruptcy committee representing more than 80,000 men who say they were molested as children by Scout leaders and others. The settlement announced Thursday comes just two weeks before the start of a hearing at which a Delaware judge will hear arguments on whether she should confirm the BSA’s proposed reorganization plan. All told, the compensation fund would total more than $2.6 billion, which would be the largest aggregate sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history.” • And we wonder why trust in institutions is fulling. Mini-Epsteins all over the place….


Case count by United States regions:

I have again added a “Fauci Line” to congratulate Biden and his team — Klain, Zeints, Fauci, Walensky — for finally falling below the former guy’s highest peak. I have also added a red vertical line to mark the point where the adults in the room took charge. (Rise like a rocket, and fall like a stick; 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 BA.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! This time, it may be different. But who knows?

NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Continues encouraging. No jump from the return of the students yet, which is even more encouraging, especially if you’re in “Waiting for BA.2” mode.

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:

Continued improvement. Tennesse reports weekly. (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:

Not to pour cold water on this improvement, but to underline that “a county that moves from red to green is not covid-free,” here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission:

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Sea of green! From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (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.)

Just a reminder:

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

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 939,427 932,443. I have drawn an ant-trIumphalist “Fauci Line.” Sadly, the Biden administration has only managed a death rate equal to the first peak under Trump, then considered a national disaster. I sure hope we break a million before Biden’s State of the Union speech.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too.

The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday.

Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the enormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks. I know the CDC copy editing process is slow, but this is ridiculous.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “SpaceX has so many Starlink satellites they’re increasingly photobombing astronomers’ images, a study says” [Insider]. “There has been a huge increase in the number of astronomers’ images corrupted by streaks of reflected sunlight caused by SpaceX’s satellites, a new study has found. According to the study, which was published by the Astrophysical Journal Letters, SpaceX launched 150 Starlink satellites in the last month, with more than 1,900 satellites now launched. SpaceX has received approval from the US Federal Communications Commission to operate 12,000 satellites. The study found a 35-fold increase in Zwicky Transient Facility [ZTF] images taken during twilight that were corrupted by streaks – from less than 0.5% in late 2019 to 18% in August, 2021. ‘We find that the number of affected images is increasing with time as SpaceX deploys more satellites,’ the researchers wrote.”

Tech: “NASA raises concerns about SpaceX satellite deployment plan” [Sky News]. “In a statement to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), NASA said it ‘has concerns with the potential for a significant increase in the frequency of conjunction events.’ The US space agency also expressed worry about the possible impacts to its science and human spaceflight missions. There are currently 25,000 total objects tracked on-orbit – and around 6,100 below 600km, NASA noted. SpaceX’s Gen2 expansion ‘would more than double the number of tracked objects in orbit and increase the number of objects below 600 km over five-fold,’ it said.” • A “conjunction event” occurs when “collision avoidance” may be needed to prevent satellites from crashing into each other, or into space debris.

Tech: “Geomagnetic storm takes out 40 of 49 brand new Starlink satellites” [The Register]. “SpaceX last week launched 49 shiny new Starlink broadband-beaming satellites, which is good. But 40 of them have already, or will shortly, meet their demise due to a geomagnetic storm that struck a few days after their ascent. Which is bad.” • Nature is healing.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 37 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 11 at 1:25pm. Still flirting with neutral.

Book Nook

1984 has a happy ending?!

Diegetic: “In video games ‘diegesis’ comprises the narrative game world, its characters, objects and actions which can be classified as ‘intra-diegetic’, by both being part of the narration and not breaking the fourth wall.” In other words, the Appendix on Newspeak is part of the narrative:

The whole thread is worth reading.

Our Famously Free Press

Every so often reality breaks through:

That loss of composure reminds me a little of Anderson Cooper’s coverage of Katrina….,

Class Warfare

“Help a Broke Labor Reporter Recover from Long Covid” [Payday Report]. • One reason Mike Elk might not have been in Ottawa.

“The real enemy”:

Good to see the Teamsters using their supply chain muscles in solidarity with nurses who needed PPE (Canada’s hospitals being dominated by droplet goons, even more so than the United States). Oh, wait…

News of the Wired

“This family almost lost their home over Iowa’s little-known ‘quiet title’ law” [Iowa Public Radio]. “It turned out someone else took control of Natalia’s house through an unfamiliar property law that’s on the books in Iowa as well as throughout the Midwest. It’s called a quiet title action. In most instances, it’s used to settle questions over who owns a piece of property. People may file quiet title actions to resolve boundary disputes or to resolve who owns property after someone dies. But some worry that problems in the law can result in the exploitation of homeowners, particularly in communities like Marshalltown where many residents are immigrants or don’t speak fluent English. Experts tell the Midwest Newsroom that shortcomings in the way Iowa’s quiet title law is written include vague language that defines how someone can argue that the property belongs to them. Another is the way people are notified – or, as in Natalia’s case, are not notified – that there’s a dispute involving ownership of their property.” • News you can use!

“Researchers use ultrasound to precisely and safely activate brain cells in mice” [STAT]. • Don’t tell Marketing!

* * *

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 (Late Introvert):

Late Introvert writes: “My partner gave this as an Xmas gift, so you can see the progress. Local supplier. Will get two or three more fruits, and they are easy to dry. Not sure about recipes yet.” I look forward to the recipe, but… I dunno. Looks a bit like a Shoggoth….

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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. Lee

    For those interested in wastewater Covid surveillance and its broader implications and potential utilities, you might find interesting the panel discussion on This Week in Virology #864 (1 Hr. 48 Min.), entitle “Game of Thrones”, featuring frontline researchers in the field and authors of “Tracking Cryptic SARS-CoV-2 Lineages Detected in NYC Wastewater” published in Nature Communications.

  2. Wukchumni

    “Boy Scouts: Tentative Deal With Official Sex Abuse Claimants” [US News]. “Two years after filing for Chapter 11 protection amid a flood of child sex abuse lawsuits, the Boy Scouts of America has reached a tentative settlement with an official bankruptcy committee representing more than 80,000 men who say they were molested as children by Scout leaders and others. The settlement announced Thursday comes just two weeks before the start of a hearing at which a Delaware judge will hear arguments on whether she should confirm the BSA’s proposed reorganization plan. All told, the compensation fund would total more than $2.6 billion, which would be the largest aggregate sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history.”
    That works out to $32,500 per claimant, and even though I was a Cub Scout dropout, all I would had to have done was file a claim and I too would’ve gotten the money. Who would ever check to see that the den mother in our pack was my mom?

    I know a fair number of Boy Scouts including a few Eagle Scouts, and I asked em’ if such things ever happened or were even talked about in their days eons ago, and it’s all anecdotal, but 7 all grown up now Boy Scouts never saw or heard a thing improper.

    I’m thinking it was a tiny number compared to the 80,000 claimants, although some ‘earned’ an unwanted merit badge, no doubt.

    1. Bill Carson

      I was never in the Boy Scouts, but I was in Indian Guides briefly. I wonder if I can file a claim?

    2. JTMcPhee

      In my Scout troop, we had an assistant scoutmaster who abused at least three of my fellow scouts before one of them told the Scoutmaster and the guy was booted. Of course in those days (1959-60) it was all “handled” very hush-hush. “Allowed to resign,” and no more said… I hope my friends who he abused (and who were not protected by the Scout hierarchy) were not shy about at least signing up for the money, which, as victims of abuse know, hardly makes everything ok.

      The predator guy was a slightly built effeminate person, always impeccably groomed with a very perfect full Scout leader uniform with all patches and ribbons, who very carefully groomed selected Scouts to make them available. He would put out cigarettes on his tongue and push needles through his cheeks, along with lots of touching and closeness, which for some reason drew the young men in.

      So there’s an anecdote for you all.

  3. Tertium Squid

    What would be the point of giving 1984 a happy ending? Fun idea but the story didn’t need it, and it would have detracted from Blair’s dystopian warning against the dangers of totalitarianism. If nobody noticed the happy ending until three generations later then it just shows that we feel the need for it now and has nothing to do with authorial intent.

    And I think this is a misreading: The Appendix says the Newspeak spoken in 1984 is captured in the 9th & 10th editions of the Newspeak dictionary, and that the 11th edition was the “final” one.

    If I understand what Syme was getting at, the lack of new editions would be because they were unnecessary. Once language had reached its final “perfected” form and there would be no new words needed.

    Blair had an abiding interest in language and expression and wanted to flesh out the ways that power can affect the building blocks of discourse. I don’t know why that isn’t sufficient explanation for the appendix.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I always assumed that the Appendix on Newspeak was just like “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism”, purportedly written by Emmanuel Goldstein and used to explain and push the story further along. But I believe that Blair realized that he was on to something with Newspeak which is why he made it an Appendix. Words count and as an example we see it today where a ‘progressive’ today would have been called a right-winger in earlier times but the word and term has been so thoroughly corrupted. Even Nancy Pelosi describes herself as a progressive. And now use the wrong word and see what happens as certain words are being made to be radioactive or have their meaning narrowed down to a very narrow meaning bearing little resemblance to what it was intended for.

      1. Wukchumni

        The Morel of the story is after the KNP fire in Sequoia NP wiped the slate clean, mushrooms all of the sudden have the edge over the rest of the underground movement. The pickings could be amazing, as so much was burnt to a crisp.

  4. JacobiteInTraining

    Oh man, mushroooms!! i am envious. :)

    I tried to get some shittake mushrooms growing on downed alders up at my cabin (to go with the home-grown garlic + tomaters, for cabin-made ‘pasghetti) but despite getting spores from a reputable local dealer, of a type acclimated to the local area + cold weather, as well as aging the alders *just* long enough to in theory allow any fungus-killing properties a live (or rather, just killed) tree had….I got zero shrooms. :(

    Pretty certain what did em in was lack of moisture in the alder log stacks thru the summer, and the next time i will be better at this!!!!

    1. Carolinus

      Granted, I used innoculated birch plugs in oak logs, but I had to wait 18 months for mine to fruit. So depending on how long it’s been, take heart!

      1. Late Introvert

        I had a similar experience, my Shiitake inoculated oak logs only fruited after the 2nd year, but have done so every year since (10 or so?), and that was after I just dumped them on the ground. The funniest part is how the local squirrels will eat them if I don’t notice in time. We’re in Iowa, with cold winters, so that’s not the problem.

  5. JTMcPhee

    “French police mobilised as ‘Freedom Convoys’ converge on Paris,” https://www.aol.com/news/french-freedom-convoys-head-towards-105242824-152538164.html

    “ Truckers’ COVID vaccine protests spread globally as U.S. puts new pressure on Canada to end blockade,” https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trucker-covid-19-vaccine-protests-canada/ :

    France mobilised thousands of police in and around Paris and set up checkpoints at toll stations on Friday to keep out convoys of motorists converging on the capital for a protest against government COVID-19 curbs.

    Inspired by horn-blaring “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations in Canada, the motorists – from numerous cities across France – were expected to gather outside Paris later on Friday and seek to defy a police order not to enter the city.

    “We’ve been going around in circles for three years,” said pensioner Jean-Marie Azais, part of a “Convoie de Liberte” headed to the capital from the southwest, in reference to France’s anti-COVID strategy.

    “We saw the Canadians and said to ourselves, ‘It’s awesome, what they’re doing.’ In eight days, boom, something was sparked.”…

    PTB getting nervous, as diesel fumes fuel restiveness of mopey?

    1. clarky90

      Unidad Popular – Paro de Octubre (1972)
      (Popular Unity – October Strike) (1972)


      “The strike began in Aisén, due to the resistance of the Truck Owners Confederation against the Executive’s plan to install a state transportation company in that region.

      In the country there were a total of 56,000 trucks in the hands of 40,000 small owners. The president of the Confederation of Truck Owners, León Vilarín, a former socialist who had participated in several Allende campaigns. As the Government did not want to accept the union’s demand.

      On the 9th, no truck circulated on any road in Chile. This truckers’ strike was the genesis of the largest general strike known to date.

      High school and college students also joined. “Nearly 100% of transport, 97% of commerce, 80% of professionals and 85% of peasant cooperatives joined the strike.” On October 24, at the initiative of «Female Power», «the Day of Silence» was held. During which the slogan was to stay in the house with the windows closed, without there being movements in the streets.

      The strike lasted for a month and ended only when the government gave in to some of the strikers’ demands and appointed the commander-in-chief of the Army, General Carlos Prats, as interior minister.”

    1. Screwball

      My PMC friends are ready to rumble. They want a piece of Putin in a bad way. How dare he, it’s all his fault and tough guy Joe’s gonna get him. What a world we live in.

      1. Jason Boxman

        To be honest, I hope Putin gets this over with. Our American elite cannot keep two ideas in their heads at the same time, and with all this talk of war, they’re failing to pay any attention to all the other matters that require Caesar’s attention.

        This guy doesn’t even need to invade to completely paralyze and enthrall our elites with fantasies of great power games.

        It’s all so predictably pathetic.

      2. Pate

        Me thinks someone itching to blow up a pipeline. Trying to provoke or false flag an excuse. Blowing up nord 2 is the goal.

    2. hamstak

      I have noticed an uptick of stories in my Yahoo news feed regarding Russia (invariably negative), most pertaining to the “imminent invasion” (which may remain “imminent” up to the mid-term elections if not beyond), but a couple of others have caught my eye. One would be the latest doping accusations regarding the Russian skater Valieva; this is nothing new, but does highlight that the propaganda effort is not limited to Ukraine/kinetic conflict but is, perhaps you could say, parcel to “full-spectrum propaganda dominance.

      The other one, however, is new to me: Russia supposedly supporting right-wing extremists in the U.S. I can’t locate the article now (one of the authors is named Zach Thoma(?) or something to that effect), but the gist of it is that some utlra-right group in Russia has been encouraging like-minded militants abroad, including in the U.S., and implies that the Kremlin be using them to sow division in America. The article does broach the topic of neo-fascists in the Ukraine, but glosses over it, and the headline was to the effect of “Russia supporting right-wing paramilitaries in the U.S.” — you can draw your own conclusion from that. It seems rather similar to charges of Syria/Assad being behind ISIS.

      My suspicion is that this is an attempt to blunt the perception of the influence of the likes of Svoboda and Privay Sektor in Ukraine, along the lines of “sure, Ukraine has neo-nazis, but so does Russia, so you can’t blame them for it” or what have you.

      Will try to locate the story again.

        1. Jason Boxman

          At this point, anything that can be traced back to US intelligence services can be almost immediately discredited, particularly as it pertains to Russia, Syria, Iraq, well, about everywhere really.

          1. rowlf

            When I was younger my father (and several members of the churches I attend) fought in the Secret War that the US government denied being involved in. Why should I trust anything they say since then?

          2. hamstak

            Oh, believe me, I trust our “intelligence” services as far as I can throw Mike Pompeo — and I am slight of build.

            @Darthrobber below, the British “contribution” you mention reminds me of how, in the lead up to Iraq 2.0, single-sourced intelligence was distributed to multiple countries’ intelligence offices to lend the appearance of independently verified concurrence. I believe an individual named Ghorbanifar (aka “Curveball”) was instrumental — maybe he is performing his art in another theater now.

      1. curlydan

        I also noticed the hit pieces on “Russia” from the doping allegations concerning Valieva. One writer for Yahoo, Dan Wetzel, continually tried to tie the doping to “Vlad” Putin. I’m sure that’s what Putin sits around all day doing–trying to think of ways to dope 15-year olds for Olympic glory. Gah!

    3. Darthbobber

      It’s comical at this point. There was going to be a coup by Christmas, then invasion any day now, then the Russians were 70% ready, then they were waiting for the ground to freeze to move the heavy stuff, and might be ready to go in March when that was done. (especially hilarious, since that would imply kicking off the actual invasion during the rasputitsa, aka the mud season on steroids). Now it’s back to any day now

      Meantime Poroshenko returns to be held over Zelensky’s head. And Zelensky wants to arrest him for treason and theft, but the Canadian Banderaite tells him he can’t. Now Zelensky steers between the Scylla of risking war with Russia and the Charybdis of an Akhmetov-Poroshenko coup if he actually dares to make peace.

      One fun thing that MoA picked up on that I hadn’t noticed at first was that the wacky “British” intelligence story about a pending Russian-sponsored coup was actually an American intelligence story that we sent to the Brits and asked them to release. The only contribution British intelligence made was to pronounce the American intelligence plausible. That tidbit was actually contained in a WaPo article, though not greatly emphasized.

  6. zagonostra

    >”Teamsters Canada, representing over 55,000 professional Drivers across Canada.”

    I think it was in Nevada that an affiliate of the Teamsters was endorsing one of the 19 candidates for President other than Bernie Sanders while rank and file clearly was for Bernie. I’d love see someone take a census/poll of rank and file to see what their views are viz the Independent Truckers driving this Canadian Trucker protest.

    I think it safe to infer that union leadership’s views have departed significantly from its members in the last couple of decades.

    1. eg

      I don’t think there are very many “truckers” involved in the only Canadian incident that matters, which is the one at the Ambassador Bridge.

  7. petal

    In case you’re looking for that perfect gift:
    Clinton hawks ‘But Her Emails’ hats after report on Trump documents
    “Hillary Clinton is hawking new “But Her Emails” hats, selling the headwear amid a report that former President Trump disposed of documents in the toilet of the White House.

    Clinton highlighted the $30 caps on Friday, writing on Instagram that they were being offered “just in time for Galentine’s Day, and the news that Trump was flushing documents down White House toilets.”

    The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee’s post included an edited throwback photo of her sporting a hat with the message “But Her Emails” written in pink capital letters.

    The items are described on a sales site as “black unstructured dad hats” that are union-made in the United States.”

    Apparently she will also be speaking at the NYS Democratic Convention. The throne is hers in 2024, you know.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      petal: Then let’s have all those e-mails, I say. But Clinton is too morally shriveled to offer those e-mails, which were all about yoga and planning the wedding of Chelsea. Yes, 10,000 messages to the florist, I imagine.

      Maybe Clinton can come out with another cap, in honor of Bill: I didn’t have sex with that, that woman!

      There are times when people are so enamored of the criminality that they have to advertise it.

      See: Pal of the Clintons, the recently convicted Maxwell.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It sounds like she is defending Trump’s actual crimes. Then again, she did lose to Trump, so she’s not exactly the brightest bulb.

        1. Michaelmas

          Then again, she did lose to Trump, so she’s not exactly the brightest bulb.

          She not only lost to Trump, but reliable word has it that she and her team encouraged Trump to run because they thought he’d serve to sabotage the “viable” Republican candidates like Jeb Bush, etc., thereby ensuring her victory.

    2. Glossolalia

      Breyer should wait to retire until Hillary is President so that the first woman President would have the opportunity to nominate the first black woman to the Supreme Court!

    3. jr

      Why can’t we have both the emails and the papers, Hill?

      And peddling hats? Is the NFT coming? Is this where we are at as a nation of corruption? The grift ain’t fatty enough?

    4. Questa Nota

      C’mon, man person.

      Some hard-working intern wrangled those hats through procurement, fabrication, distribution and marketing.
      Where is their plaque?
      Bet they even had to sign over those sketchy PPP funds to the CGF.

    5. LaRuse

      Sweet Mother of Pearl, but I had to google “Galentine’s Day” because I figured it couldn’t be a typo, but I had no frame of reference.
      Since my husband and I long ago swore off all “hallmark holidays” – essentially variations of the Black Friday theme with more emotional landmines – I don’t give any thought whatsoever to the February 14 holiday. But “Galentine’s” is just a bridge too far. And the fact that Clinton decided to lean into that angle of it just… *gags*
      I hope reincarnation is a thing. I really want to come back one day and read how the history of the late 20th/early 21st century gets written.

      1. MichaelC

        It’s So Hillary to dog whistle to her sycophants with a classic Parks and Recreation reference that I thought was clever and apolitical,and funny,at the time But that no one else gets any more till they Google it.

        At the time the writers invented it (I’m pretty sure, they meant it as a Hallmark holiday spoof, with a nod to their previous SNL experience) spoofing silly conventionalism) rather than as a new gift to new Hillary empowerment.

        And it’s also so Hillary to throw those same humorless dolts under the bus for missing the humor in the comedy slyness of the shows writers by using it and them for so little gain to them or her.

        Like Trump, and HRCs husband, and any foolishly ambitious soul she touched, ends up covered in her s+=t, and eventually departs, or is destroyed. I’m looking at you poster girl, Huma.

        And we’re left w the Biden’s and the Neeras and the Nulands and the Harrisses. Who can rid us of these odious Clinton’s?

    6. Mo's Bike Shop

      Were these toilets designed for Taft? You can’t flush office paper down a toilet. Now there will be a vlogging spree to show how paper works in a toilet.

  8. RockHard

    That’s a fine point about Tom Brady. Warren’s up for reelection in 2024. Brady is the greatest football quarterback ever, it’s not even close. He owns most of the important statistical records, a ton of obscure ones, and won he 7 championships on two different teams, which no other player at has done at any position. He lasted 22 years where the average quarterback lasts 4.4 and 11 years at any position is considered basically a senior citizen, and Brady was still one of the best quarterbacks in the game last year.

    I think the comparison to JFK is apt: he’s handsome, married to a woman who was at one time on the list of “Most Beautiful Woman in the World”. He’s Catholic. Most importantly, he appears to be incredibly self-disciplined and I’d guess is extremely unlikely to have a Cuomo moment.

    So how would he vote? He’d probably vote the way you’d expect a very wealthy man who has conservative inclinations. The man has been making millions of dollars a year for about 20 years just as a player, plus whatever he picks up from endorsements and his own businesses. His wife is something like the 11th richest woman in the world. I’d guess he’s voting with his wallet.

    So really, I’m wondering why TAC is even asking about his politics? Can you imagine what a coup it would be for them to unseat Warren?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      So really, I’m wondering why TAC is even asking about his politics?

      Brady’s role in the NFL Player’s association. I’m convinced Deflategate was about Brady v NFL, the concussion lawsuit.

      When Brady focused on an issue, he is the leading union guy in the NFL. All in all, he might just wind up like Warren, another Republican until she actually cared about an issue.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      He would have to get through the great PMC women wall of Massachusetts. Warren’s advantage inside of 495 is tough to beat. Brady is very, very good with the press however.

    3. juanholio

      Shame about all the cryptocurrency shilling. Let’s hope he never gets any closer to the levers of power.

      1. Wukchumni

        Through a confederate, I was able to acquire an advance copy of Senator pro-tem Brady’s acceptance speech:

        “I’m in.”

    4. Wukchumni

      TB is a take charge guy, the general leading the army downfield.

      If Patton could have won 6 more wars, he might have been Brady’s equal~

      I can’t see him getting into politics to be just another Senator on a team fielding 50 on each side, but the poor thing is a quadragenerian now and maybe a desk job in a cushy office with a rocking chair is appropriate.

  9. Bim

    “Investigators find gaps in White House phone records from Jan. 6: report”

    From The Department of Amazing Coincidences.

    How about the amazing gaps and outright confabulations from Harris:
    Harris said in a speech Thursday memorializing the attack that she was in a classified briefing room at the Capitol the morning of Jan. 6.

    Actually it tuns out that she was at DNC headquarters, and it was her security detail that found the designed to never explode pipe bomb, just before the riot.


    1. .human

      I ordered mine first day of offer, middle January. Expected a borked website, but completed request in under 2 minutes! Still haven’t received them yet though.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      We got ours last week – about 2 weeks from ordering, but, alas, they’re probably no good because they were in my mailbox overnight when temps were below 10F. Probably spent some time in a cold truck somewhere as well as it was very cold all week.

      I know I posted here last week about the test still being good (according to local news), but that’s not what they’re saying now, nor what the box says… What a waste. To quote this site, we’re really not a serious country. No one could have foreseen very cold temperatures in the midwest in Jan/Feb?!?

      1. The Historian

        Got a note in my email today saying my test kits were delivered yesterday to my mailbox. The only other email I got said they were supposed to be delivered tomorrow. Last night was below zero here, so like yours, mine are probably no good either.

    3. LaRuse

      Still none here either. Ordered the first day and the ordering took 90 seconds. Not in a multi-unit building and not rural.

    4. curlydan

      I got my test kits today in the mail. Maybe I was lucky. I was even getting emails letting me know ahead of time when I could expect them. They were iHealth COVID 19 Antigen Rapid Tests. Made in China. Probably cost the govt $25 apiece. Somewhere out there someone is rolling in the Benjamins after locking up that government contract.

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Masks off? Politico.

    “By the time we’re at the midterms, we’ll hopefully not be wearing these,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), gesturing to his own mask as he walked through the Capitol. “People are, of course, frustrated. We all want to get back to life.”

    Then there’s a quote from Cheri Bustos, one more member of Congress giving New Luster to Mediocrity.

    My interpretation of the horror over masks is the U.S. cultural imperative of the Smart Mouth. Liberals love the Smart Mouth, as do the nihilist-lite Republicans. Hmmm. Nihilist-lite probably describes both liberals and the current Republican mainstream.

    Trump loved the Smart Mouth. He also had a weird delivery and lip movements that have to be seen to be believed: To get the full effect of Smart Mouth, the mouth may not be masked.

    Meanwhile, here in Italy, or at least in my region, the eyes are what dominate. I don’t have to worry about seeing a person’s mouth–not when an Italian can control a situation with a glance.

    But then, to the horror of Americans, these glances are often The Male Gaze, source of endless blog posts and impenetrable essays and sloppy art criticism in the Anglosphere. In Italy, when the Blessed Virgin Mary, Theotokos, gives one The Glance, one knows what to do (mask on!).

    So be all means, take off the masks. One must Smart Mouth. One must glory in one’s freedom to infect.

    You may notice that I am not buying the happy talk. I’d say: Stock up on masks of all kinds. They are *the* fashion item of carnival (this week and next) and the whole coming year.

    1. ambrit

      He supposedly spent a lot of time “Inside the Beltway of Madness” when younger. Anyone treading the halls of Congress after dark could tell you Shoggoth stories, those that survived.
      There are persistant rumours of stealthy slitherings heard in the basement levels of the “officially” sealed off Three Mile Island power facility.
      The “Arcane” symbol for the National Security apparat is a shoggoth. All those eyes….

  11. dcblogger

    So It’s About Feelings

    Posted on February 11, 2022 by mikethemadbiologist
    A couple of days ago, Atlantic writer Yascha Mounk wrote a piece about how he thinks all COVID restrictions–such as they are (we’ll return to this)–should be lifted (apparently, to ‘both sides’ the excellent coverage by Ed Yong, Katherine Wu, and Susan Zhang, The Atlantic has this asshole writing about COVID). As is the case with most of the Thinky Thought Leaders publicly in this camp, he offers neither a quantitative estimate of what the implications of lifting restrictions will be nor does he mention long COVID*.


  12. Swamp Yankee

    Posted over at NY Magazine re: pro-worker conservatives (HA!) ….

    I knew Oren Cass in college, as well as Rubio’s Chief of Staff Mike Needham, and suffice it to say that it is pretty clear to those of us who spent a lot of time with them that their embrace of these “pro-worker” [sic] measures are manifestly instrumental and disingenuous — i.e., they don’t believe a word of it. Cass in particular is “on the side of the Big Battalions,” as Voltaire put it, and Needham will never give up his belief in and advocacy for moneyed Aristocracy (that is, himself).

    If the Pope starts claiming to be a Calvinist, you’d better not believe him.

  13. Carolinian

    Re The Blob or the Borg–it’s like that balloon thing in the TV show The Prisoner. Some of us learned our dystopia at Patrick McGoohan’s knee.


    And re Space X, I believe the low orbit transmitters are designed to fall out of the sky after a couple of years. So when Musk goes bankrupt problem solved.

  14. KD

    “Low productivity businesses that can’t afford even marginal increases in their workers’ rights, however, are deeply invested in Republican rule. For the GOP therefore, pleasing working-class voters is a means; serving the interests of low-road employers is the end.”

    This is a way of saying that GOP-friendly business actually make stuff, and not money. However, it would seem that i.) trade barriers, ii.) public infrastructure spending that lowers cost of living for workers (and wages) could result in a win/win. Second, that public infrastructure would harm the “high productivity” businesses/financial scams that support the Dems by turning those private toll bridges into public infrastructure. Tariffs and immigration restrictions in the early 20th century created an industrialist/worker base for the GOP, which is how it managed to survive, as there are not enough industrial capitalist votes to win an election.

    1. JBird4049

      The American System was a general plan to continuously industrialize and improve the entire country with the use of tariffs, infrastructure building (roads, canals, and railroads usually) by the government, as well as the creation of the educational system with the federal government pushing creation of colleges; it was almost two centuries of effort starting with the colonies to roughly 1975. Two centuries to build under the generally combined political leadership and less than fifty years to destroy also under the generally combined political leadership.

      A real problem we have is that much of the American economy is low margin, low productivity businesses of the local gentry. The major businesses that can afford to pay their workers more instead of paying millions for the CEO and stock buybacks don’t want to and they pay the GOP to keep it that way.

      It is a grifter’s paradise and they pay federal, state, and municipal governments to keep it that way.

  15. hemeantwell

    This is quite a day for anti-left screeds. The Upheaval launches its boat and immediately capsizes into talking about wokeness as a “faith” and the proceeds mash its target together into a quasi-religious blob. Hasn’t he ever heard of “internal criticism”? The (Real) Left draws on principles that are already incorporated into social practice and seeks to extend them. We already do democracy, however furtively and largely ineffectively. We want to extrapolate from those truncated practices and establish democratic control over dominant, hierarchically-controlled institutions whose operation tends to be deadly. That’s not a “faith” driven by obscure inspirations derived from long spells in the desert that turn us into faith-bots driven to engage in praxis (he really does try to touch all the buzzwords, credit for that). It’s arguably a form of common sense, both because it draws on widely shared understandings and because it’s reflects a practical approach to getting us out of a mess caused by people who have escape pods in every one of their garages.

  16. Tom

    “I sure hope we break a million before Biden’s State of the Union speech.”

    Really? Hoping for more COVID deaths? Come on, man.

      1. Tom Stone

        I was hoping for a miracle Million before the Superbowl because I know the half time show would be even better than the time Janet Jackson almost showed her Ta-Ta’s.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I bet this really cheeses off everyone in the 9/11 emotional warfare industry. All the politicians are primed to invoke 9/11, and kids are like do you mean Sunday through Tuesday?

  17. clarky90

    A North Korean classification system, to help delineate, class identity..

    (1) Are you the Tomato Class (red on the outside and inside)? The Elite Class
    (2) The Apple Class (red on the outside, but white on the inside)? The Wavering Class
    (3) Or the Grape Class (pale green inside and out)? The Hostile Class…..

    5 Strange Laws In North Korea…….


    Yeonmi Park (Korean: 박연미; born 4 October 1993)

    “is a North Korean defector and activist whose family fled from North Korea to China in 2007 and settled in South Korea in 2009, before moving to the United States in 2014. Her family turned to black-market trading during North Korea’s economic collapse in the 1990s. Her father was sent to a labor camp for smuggling. They fled to China, where Park and her mother fell into the hands of human traffickers and she was sold into slavery before escaping to Mongolia……”

    This is “in practice”, not “in theory” information. The class segment starts at 5 min, 50 sec.

    1. Gc54

      Final installment of Jurassic Park coming this summer. Hopefully it depicts human extinction and return of dino dominance. A fitting end to the series.

  18. jr

    re: Roam on the Range

    When they described the Holt-Biden interview as “wide-ranging”, were they referencing the subject matter or did Biden wander off the set a few times? We know that between the two of them, “ranging” is doing a lot of work. I don’t have the heart at the moment to watch the video…

  19. aj

    “1984 has a happy ending?!”

    I guess I never realized until just now that there are people that don’t know this. I thought that was common knowledge. Atwood did the same thing in The Handmaid’s Tale, although she was a bit more straightforward about it. Should we also bring up that A Clockwork Orange also has a final chapter than was excluded from Kubricks movie and most of the US versions of the book that shows the main character sorry for what he did when he was a youth?

    1. Pat

      Iirc The ending in Clockwork Orange was more ambiguous than that. The retraining worked but is that the way for true redemption… It continues to challenge the reader’s own positions.

      1. aj

        In the US version with the missing chapter, the book ends with Alex having gone through the reverse treatment for the original “cure” and he starts having violent thoughts again. The UK version has an additional chapter in which Alex is older and starts to reflect on his past violence, becoming bored with it and instead starting to think of the future. And he has the following revelation which I really think brings home that he has matured out of his violent self.

        My son, my son. When I had my son I would explain all that to him when he was starry enough to like understand. But then I knew he would not understand or would not want to understand at all and would do all the veshches I had done, yes perhaps even killing some poor starry forella surrounded with mewing kots and koshkas, and I would not be able to really stop him. And nor would he be able to stop his own son, brothers. And so it would itty on to like the end of the world, round and round and round, like some bolshy gigantic like chelloveck, like old Bog Himself (by courtesy of Korova Milkbar) turning and turning and turning a vonny grahzny orange in his gigantic rookers.

  20. Screwball

    RE: Red meat for the base and Pelosi. Maybe it’s just me and my contempt for that women, but that little speech doesn’t fit well with the “unity” the Blue team was touting when all the marbles were still on the table. I’m not a fan of either team, but I’m sick and tired of watching them spew crap at each other. Can’t they EVER act like adults? And to make this one even worse, I honestly think she is quite drunk while spewing that crap.

    These people are just so awful. They make me want to puke.

  21. Ed Grystar

    You should do some research on your candidates.

    Fetterman has no background that qualifies him as remotely liberal let alone “left.” He’s a fracker and supporter of the for profit health insurance industry which leaves tens of millions without heath coverage or junk insurance. When Braddock Hospital was closed by UPMC, he was AWOL as the Mayor of Braddock. The community lost hundreds of jobs. How can anyone give this political malpractice a pass?

    Recently, as Lt. Gov the communities around Braddock were fighting fracking and he again did nothing. We asked him to make a statement against the current privatization of Medicare via Medicare Advantage and Direct Contracting Entities. His campaign official listened to our anti Medicare privatization presentation and then proceeded to tell us that they did not even communicate it to him.

    Lamb is essentially a right winger gussied up as centrist. An opponent of M4ALL, in the pocket of the oil and gas industry and military industrial complex he’s given a pass since most MSM actually believe the magical thinking that Biden is also a leftie. Like Fetterman, Conor Lamb won’t criticize the current privatization of medicare. More like professional wrestlers than real opponents.

    The real story here is that the ruling monied interests are perfectly happy with Lamb or Fetterman since they both are consummate opportunists who stand for nothing at a time when the public interest is being destroyed and cries out for real leaders who will fight big money.

    Reply Reply All Forward

    1. Darthbobber

      If the machine found Fetterman acceptable there wouldn’t be such heroic efforts made for Lamb by the beltway crowd and the Rendell people.

      And there are a few differences. While he’s not foregrounding the Medicare advantage nonsense, he is unambiguously a supporter of single-payer in it’s easy-to-grok M4A form. Lamb isn’t and Kenyatta isn’t. He has long supported the 15 per hour minimum wage, which Lamb opposed in the house, opining that “his” constituents thought 11 would be about right.

      More to the point, Fetterman is indeed of somewhat independent mind, while Lamb is purely a creation of the blob.

  22. Michael C

    Form The Priciples of Newspeak:

    “In the year 1984 there was not as yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication, either in speech or writing. The leading articles in the Times were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a specialist.”

    “The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought— that is, a thoughtdiverging from the principles of Ingsoc— should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. It’s vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression to every meaning that a Part member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meanings and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods.This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and by stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meanings whatever.
    To give a single example. The word free still existed in Newspeak, but it could only be used in such statements as “This dog is fee from lice” or “This field is free from weeds”. It could not be used in its old sense of “politically free” or intellectually free”, since political and intellectual freedom no longer existed as concepts, and were therefore of necessity nameless. Quite apart from the suppression of definitively heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum”

    Perhaps Orwell was ending 1984 on a hopeful note by casting the Principles in the past tense, but it sure sounds like he’s describing Newspeak in its 2022 form.

    The example of the use of “free” seems especially apt today, given the mangled use of the word “freedom” in current discourse.

    Substituting PMC for Insoc brings the blurb up to date.

      1. The Rev Kev

        This is just making up punishments as they go along. No justifications, no warning – nothing. This is what law would look like if outsourced to the private sector as has happened to him. I would imagine that Steven Donziger will eventually write a book about his experiences but I bet that he will have to find an overseas publisher to have it printed and will not be able to find one in the US.

  23. Bill Carson

    Regarding the Capitol Seizure, “The list shows the vast amount of evidence the Department of Justice has gathered in the past year…”

    There has to be a HUGE(!!!) pile of evidence in these cases—photos, video, social media, cell phone records, text messages, cell phone location data, credit card records, etc., etc. It seems like there would difficulty deciding when they have more than enough evidence against Defendant A so that they can move on to build the case against Defendant B. Repeat this process about 700 times and growing.

  24. B flat

    Anecdote isn’t data, but over the last few years I’ve noticed a reassertion of black conservatism “out there.” Not republicanism necessarily , but stable traditional values favored by us working class folx before the Dems threw us away. Anyway, here’s Newsweek (!) with black republicanconservativetrumpys on the cover. Good article that was worth my time. As the writer points out, it wouldn’t take a huge number of defectors from the Dems to upend the party.

  25. JBird4049

    >>>The fourth-wealthiest county in the United States is protecting its children with Plexiglass shields. Not a HEPA filter or a Corsi box in sight, let alone a window. This is more than “bad communication.”

    On this so called bad communication, I have some real complaints about my college’s handling of Covid, but good grief, they are including both filtration and masks for the classes as well as allowing time between classes for the filters to work. Heck, if a big wave appears likely, it is back to Zoom. The college administration looks sincere in its efforts as they appear to be trying really hard to thread of that eye of the needle keeping us alive, healthy and willing to take courses while keeping us all informed.

    With Fairfax County, perhaps, maybe, it is some kind of deliberate generational or class genocide? Are the most exposed children minorities or poor people? This would be a great way to kill off their families. I mean really, I can’t think of anything else beyond some kind of cult of death or cult of “science.”

  26. Bill Carson

    Regarding “Tom Brady Could Beat Elizabeth Warren,” it would be more interesting to watch Steve Belichick in the senate. They’d have to change the rules to allow sweatshirts.

  27. FriarTuck

    “Diegetic” refers to diegesis, literally “a story’s plot”. The descriptor “diegetic” applies to any and all narratives, and something that is “diegetic” happens within the scope of the narrative, ie “within universe”.

    There have been a subset of recent (20 years?) fiction novels that have had footnotes as part of the diegesis of the novel, most commonly where some curmudgeonly historian is arguing with a first person narrative that comprises the main body of the book. The one I’m most familiar with is Fitzpatrick’s War, a novel that takes place in an alternate history where the world’s technology and culture has been taken back to the Victorian steam age through the use of EM weapons. The narrator has something approaching our modern sensibilities, but the footnotes are pure vitriol from a Victorian point of view. I really like it, but its… kind of terrifying given our current state of affairs.

    As to the “Blob”, if you’re looking for an artistic representation of it, I would suggest the end boss from the FFXIV Nier Raid called “The Puppet’s Bunker,” a creature called “The Compound.”

    As a text description: a massive writhing sphere made up of faceless, featureless stark-white people-shaped robot bodies. Individual limbs can be partially perceived as part of its surface, yet its surface details are obscured by by their the limbs tightly intertwining. Over the surface of the sphere moves more bodies, seemingly desperate to join the whole, moving in an inhuman, partly spider-like manner.

    If you’re interested, watch the first minute and a half of this to get a view of it. Warning: mildly NSFW due to faceless, featureless robot bodies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iCAAaY_7mw

  28. Pat

    I hope Russia and, for their own sakes, Europe has every surveillance method possible on Ukraine and the areas surrounding it. I don’t think the US can manage a believable false invasion IF governments and the press do not choose to go along. But this gang that cannot shoot straight are too arrogant and foolhardy to be trusted not to try it.

    Europe will bear the brunt of any military conflict. They need to kill it fast.

    And no I do not think an actual Russian invasion is in the offing.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      At this point, I think the plan is to declare the threat of a visit by Kamala Harris as what caused there to be no Russian invasion. Biden’s plan was to clearly play a tough guy and announce a path to NATO. The Russians said no. And Biden has been throwing a tantrum. Even the Kiev rump state types are trying to calm Biden down.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Biden sends out a Friday news dump about an imminent invasion, holds a call, and brags how he averted the non-existent invasion that has been imminent since 2014.

      2. Pat

        That’s more of a plan than I give them credit for having.

        “Once Americans left there was no point in Russia invading and they knew it” isn’t going to play in Kiev or Berlin but how about Peoria?

  29. BrianL

    “We’re all in to protect and expand our majorities.”

    I think this time the other party is holding the nuts. But that’s normal for DNC — waste insane amounts of money on losing hands and periodically suck out. Their true fish nature becomes clear when in office.

  30. Michael Ismoe

    Over 70% of Americans who died with COVID, died on Medicare, and some people want #MedicareForAll ?

    That’s because we are the only ones who could afford to go to the hospital.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I find it kind of brilliant demagoguery. It’d be equally useful to point out how well Medicare has done with providing health care to the citizens our insurance industry couldn’t milk for profit.

  31. Glen

    Just got through watching a clip of Senator Graham and some US MIC spokes person discussing the threat of terrorism and the need to continue drone strikes or some such, the need to increase funding, etc.

    Really? With basically a 9/11 of people dying EVERY OTHER DAY, a country approaching one million people officially dead from the pandemic, probably more like two million.

    What are the terrorists going to do? Donate money to PACS keeping American deathcare insurance in place? They don’t even need to do that, the America elites IN BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES already do just fine ensuring America becomes more of a clown show every day.

    DC elites obviously don’t live in the same world as the rest of us anymore.

  32. skippy


    They saw that the world was on a downward spiral. That society was no longer evolving, what we were experiencing was in fact de-evolution. Mankind was regressing…. We were destroying the planet. They believed that the world was dominated by greed and consumerism and that the planet would ultimately be destroyed by the only species that couldn’t live as one with their environment. MAN.

    In music they found a vehicle to share their dire prediction of human decay. They were DEVO, short for De-evolution. Brothers Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh joined Gerald Casale and his brother Bob along with drummer Alan Myers. They wanted to “sound different, look different and act different”. With their signature synth sound and confrontational lyrics they challenged musical norms. They are best remembered for their 1980 hits and quirky music videos for “Whip it” and “Freedom of choice” but their comic façade distracted many listeners from a grave message that today is disturbingly haunting.

    In the 1980’s their punk scientist attitude was seen as whacky and extreme. They shared a trailblazing environmental message but their predictions were often mocked, now 40 years later we ask, Were DEVO Right? 40 years after the release of their timeless classic “Beautiful World“ we follow the remix and launch of “Beautiful World 2”, a dark tribute to a world that proved them right.

    This film enters the minds of one of histories most misunderstood bands and shares their vision of a World that is now paying the ultimate price. They were always political to the core and today they think the world has a lot to answer for.


    Probably the most salient point offered is how ***consumerism*** is the corner stone to control over the population at large.

    1. urblintz

      happier than you and me…

      one chromosome too many…

      it determined what he could see..

      and he wore a hat, and he had a job, and he brought home the bacon so that no one would know….

    2. QuicksilverMessenger

      Nice tip. For a time as a kid I was really into Devo. I saw them in 1981. The best concert I have ever seen, to this day. And I have seen a lot of them. I remember back in those days, Musician magazine (can’t recall the writer) was doing a piece on Devo and clearly did not understand any of it. Kept calling them fascists (Uh oh! sounds familiar), uber men etc etc. So my 14 year old self wrote my first ‘letter to the editor’ to tell the dinosaurs what was what.
      Years later I was showing some products at one of the big specialty food shows and Mark Mothersbaugh came to my booth. I guess his wife was a chocolatier or something like that. Very nice and normal human, like someone you could actually be friends with. Still have his business card, with some excellent Devo-ish graphics

  33. Glen

    So in the interest of starting a conversation about inflation.

    Can we do what Nixon did? He FROZE wages and prices:

    Nixon shock https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixon_shock

    Of how about Teddy Roosevelt? He broke up monopolies:

    United States antitrust law https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_antitrust_law

    Because all I see our “betters” doing right now is HANDING BILLIONS over to the very same people that CREATED our current mess and expecting them to fix it:

    Intel pressures the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing https://news.yahoo.com/intel-pressures-u-government-help-000630446.html

    That, I believe, is part of the definition of insanity.

    1. Yves Smith

      Some research suggests the wage and price controls were starting to work when Gerry Ford gave up. Of course they were widely criticized, which made it hard to stick with them and easy to quit.

  34. marym

    “A list of top donors to the anti-vaccine “Freedom Convoy” reviewed by PressProgress suggests the convoy received significant chunks of money from wealthy business people and incorporated businesses.

    One thing these wealthy donors agree on is that they are being oppressed — some even liken the situation to “communism.””

    These are donors, not participants. They’re not billionaires – donations in the report range from $2.5K – $18K but the interviews with the donors are interesting.

  35. The Rev Kev

    A CNN analyst and former Obama administration official – or do I repeat myself – went off the deep end and called for the Canadian truckers to have their tires slashed, their gas tanks emptied, the drivers arrested and for the trucks to be moved (with flat tires and no gas?). She then went on to say “Trust me, I will not run out of ways to make this hurt: cancel their insurance; suspend their drivers licenses; prohibit any future regulatory certification for truckers, etc. Have we learned nothing? These things fester when there are no consequences.” Of course she is backpedaling so hard now that it could be an Olympic sport but people have seen who she is now and what she is all about-


    1. skippy

      The best part about all this is these are the exact same sorts that cheered on the government forced used on Occupy with wild abandon and now crack a fat. The absurd juxtaposition is just surreal. I mean the whole reason behind Occupy was to call into question all the things that led up to the GFC and an opportunity for the public to have a debate about it outside all the rusted on ideological think tanks, money from benefactors seeking self interests, politicians that were not responsive to public needs, and then when its their turn its all the sudden a completely different matter.

        1. skippy

          Yeah and she now joins Anna the Banking face that cried on TV about homes destroyed after the flood her administration over saw …

  36. Anthony K Wikrent

    JFC, the Hamilton Project is NOT a progressive economic think tank. An excellent tell that any Politico reporting on economic is not to be trusted.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Oh, I’ve been noticing this for ten years, once I started reading NC. Many of these Establishment publications paint neoliberal think tanks, like Tanden’s outfit, as “progressive” or “left” when they’re no such a thing. It is indeed a huge tell.

  37. K.k

    Puerto Rico public sector strikes.

    This is what actual labor struggle looks like, and as a consequence gets no coverage compared to whats happening up North.

    Teachers, firefighters and others took to the streets demanding better wages, and and protection for their pensions.

    Looks like the teachers and firefighters may have been promised a raise.





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