2:00PM Water Cooler 2/2/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

An unusually musical chickadee.

* * *


“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

“McConnell differs with Trump on Jan. 6 pardons” [The Hill]. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he does not support shortening the sentences of any of the people who have pleaded guilty to crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol…. ‘The election of 2020 was decided Dec. 14 of 2020 when the Electoral College certified the winner of the election. What we saw here on January the 6th was an effort to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another, which has never happened before in our country.'”

Biden Adminstration

“Manchin, key Dem, says Build Back Better bill is ‘dead’” [Associated Press]. “‘What Build Back Better bill?’ Manchin said Tuesday, using the legislation’s name, when reporters asked about it. ‘There is no, I mean, I don’t know what you’re all talking about.’ Asked if he’d had any talks about it, he added, ‘No, no, no no. It’s dead.’ Manchin has repeatedly said he remains open to talks aimed at crafting a smaller bill that could include its provisions aimed at reducing carbon emissions, creating free pre-Kindergarten programs and increasing federal health care subsidies. But he has said negotiations have yet to begin…. Democrats have been hoping for agreement on a new package, or to be near one, by Biden’s March 1 State of the Union address. That’s seeming unlikely with lawmakers focusing on another bill financing government agencies by Feb. 18, when funding expires, a Supreme Court vacancy and Russia’s threatened invasion of Ukraine. All this comes as both parties are showing a near daily focus on economic issues important to voters ahead of November voting when party control of Congress is at stake.”

“Manchin Raked in Record Q4 Donations While Killing Build Back Better Act” [ReadSludge]. “Manchin raised over $1.57 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, the highest total he’s ever raised in a year-end report, according to FEC records. …. The fourth quarter sum brings the total raised by Manchin’s primary campaign committee to over $4.83 million in 2021, compared with nearly $495,000 in 2020. The 74-year-old Manchin has not announced if he intends to run for re-election in 2024. The committee’s cash on hand is over $6.71 million, according to records maintained by ProPublica.”

“Democratic senator’s stroke exposes fragility of 50-50 Senate majority” [CNN]. “As if their stalled and tattered agenda wasn’t proof enough, Democrats just got a poignant reminder of the precarious nature of life in a 50-50 Senate, especially ahead of an impending Supreme Court nomination. After news broke Tuesday that New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján suffered a stroke last week, there was palpable concern for a valued fellow senator and then relief among his colleagues that he was expected to make a full recovery. At 49, Luján is one of the geriatric Senate’s young bucks, yet his sudden hospitalization, at least for now, deprives Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of a functioning majority if he needs to call a short-notice vote. And it offered a preview of more serious long-term implications for Democrats if even one of their number becomes temporarily or permanently incapacitated. Thoughts about the fragility of the chamber’s delicate balance of power will have flashed across many minds on Tuesday afternoon.”

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 Fallacy of Representation” [New York Magazine]. “What we expected of the Obama administration was beyond what the framework of the presidency allowed. That was a heartbreaking realization. Some of us came to it sooner than others.” So, that was the lesson Obama taught Democrats? We can’t govern? More: “When Obama was on the campaign trail for president, there was still a part of him that was ours: He was supposed to be the Organizer from Chicago. We’d heard that he had cut his teeth on the stones of our history. But the day he crossed that stage as president-elect, he became the figurehead of the elite, of the ruling class, a symbol of its evolution toward a new racial permeability — the kind that exists to create a new, racially integrated class of leaders only meant to continue the project of neoliberalism and its genesis, white supremacy.” • “The day he crossed that stage”? Really?

“The BLM Mystery Where did the money go?” [New York Magazine]. I am filing this here because (the national) BLM is an NGO; a component of the Democrat party. Worth reading in full; accounting-oriented readers, especially, will find it interesting: “BLMGNF has never been a model of fiscal clarity.” The final paragraph: “[Johnson] sounds disgusted when he hears about the fund-raising levels BLMGNF has achieved over the years and the comfort experienced by the few at the top. ‘I don’t tell people what I’m actually going through,’ he says. ‘I don’t tell people how stressed I actually am. But, you know, I actually have to live through all of this.’ He pauses to clear his head, and offers a final thought: ‘They got rich off my back.'” • Adolph Reed nailed these people back in 2018 in “The Trouble of Uplift.” If you haven’t read it, consider doing so.

“Center For American Progress Staffers Threaten To Strike Amid Contract Fight” [HuffPo]. • Waiting for Neera to show solidarity with labor by weighing in on the union’s side [snicker].


* * *

“Muslim military veteran hopes to unseat Ilhan Omar, blasts ‘Squad’ lawmaker for neglecting her district” [FOX]. “A Somali-born U.S. Army veteran has joined the Republican field seeking to challenge Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., calling out her lack of attention to the needs of her constituents as violent crime surges in Minneapolis. ‘Minneapolis just saw one of the most violent years on record, falling just one homicide short from the all-time record. The city at that time was coined ‘Murder-apolis,’; the 5th Congressional District candidate Shukri Abdirahman told Fox News Digital. Abdirahman, a Muslim military veteran and mother of three, announced her campaign Monday. Her journey began in Somalia under a socialist dictatorship….” • I’m sure the Democrats would rather have run her than Omar, but here we are!


“OnPolitics: New poll says the president is struggling with voters in swing state Florida” [USA Today]. “Most of those surveyed [by Suffolk], 53%, disapprove of the job Biden is doing versus 39% who approve. Nearly 60% believe the nation as a whole is on the wrong track, and a similar percentage disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. Florida is the largest of a handful of states that could effectively decide presidential elections. Biden lost the state to former President Donald Trump by three percentage points in 2020 and, as it stands now, risks losing it again in 2024 to a Republican opponent.”

“Joe Biden embraces New York’s mayor as crime wave threatens Democrats” [FInancial Times]. • What did I write? “Hero Cop Saves Republic.” So, here we go: “Biden’s meeting with Eric Adams is an acknowledgment that crime — a perpetual concern in American politics — has again grabbed hold [in a totally spontaneous and organic fashion, as usual. –lambert] of the national consciousness. Shootings have surged since the Covid pandemic began in 2020, and have remained at elevated levels since then in much of the country. The sense of disorder has been amplified by brazen ‘smash mob’ robberies of luxury retailers and a plague of shoplifting that has unfolded with seeming impunity.” And here’s an interesting nugget: “In Los Angeles, the shooting to death in December of socialite Jacqueline Avant during a break-in at her Beverly Hills home has rattled wealthy residents and is threatening to upend the city’s progressive politics. Avant was a major Democratic fundraiser, wife of music executive Clarence Avant and mother-in-law of Netflix co-chief executive Ted Sarandos. Her killing — one of 397 murders last year, the most since 2006 — has led some Hollywood Democrats to conclude that the city should elect a law-and-order mayor in this autumn’s election.” • I will watch Adams’s broken field running with great interest…. He’s going somewhere, even if we don’t know where!

“DeSantis says people calling for him to condemn Nazis are trying to ‘smear’ him” [CNN]. “DeSantis was responding to a question about viral videos and photos of a small group of people wearing Nazi symbols yelling antisemitic slurs while demonstrating Saturday and Sunday on streets and highway overpasses in the Orlando area. While other Florida political leaders, including many Republicans, publicly condemned the gathering, DeSantis had not, sparking some criticism of the governor on social media. DeSantis said those critics were trying to ‘use this as some type of political issue,’ adding: ‘We’re not playing their game.’

The remarks came a day after DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw posted and then deleted a tweet questioning if the demonstrators were actually Democrats in disguise. ‘Do we even know they’re Nazis?’ Pushaw said in the deleted tweet. ‘I trust Florida law enforcement to investigate and am awaiting their conclusions.’ She later clarified that she didn’t know who had staged the protest and called the use of Nazi symbolism and hate speech “disgusting.'” • It is true that “Why will not X condemn ____” is an old political game; that does not, however, mean that either DeSantis or his press secretary played the game well. Why not begin by saying: “I trust Florida law enforcement to investigate”? Anyhow, condemning Nazis shouldn’t be hard. Only a Lord of Misrule like Trump can get away with “very fine people”; DeSantis doesn’t have the stature, if stature is the word I want.

“Hawley calling on Biden admin to drop support for Ukraine’s eventual membership in NATO” [The Hill]. • Interesting position to stake out. Paleocons will love it, but other Republican factions?

2020 Post Mortem

“Ohio secretary of state finds 27 potentially illegal votes” [The Hill]. • 27.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Five big takeaways from year-end FEC filings” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump’s political operation is flush with cash heading into 2022, virtually guaranteeing his place as one of the most influential financial power players in the midterm elections — and perhaps beyond that. …. Republican groups that trailed their Democratic counterparts just a few years ago are pulling ahead in the money race as the GOP prepares for a midterm onslaught….. The democratization of fundraising means small-dollar donors are playing a bigger role in politics than ever before, and they’re fueling a surge of spending on Senate contenders on both sides of the aisle…. Trump loves to brag that his imprimatur is stronger than ever in Republican primaries, but the reports show he hasn’t been able to fill a candidate’s coffers or cut off cash to his rivals…. Results of critical elections in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin may determine which party controls the Senate next year — but even before the general elections, primary contenders are spending heavily, often their own money.”

“Dems avert total redistricting doomsday — but they’re not out of the woods” [Politico]. The deck: “Democrats have seized this year’s redistricting battle with an unexpected ruthlessness, carving out more blue territory than most had expected even just a few months ago.” • This isn’t shocking at all. The NGOs were always the hysterical ones (seeking funding, no doubt) along with the press (clicks). The electeds were completely calm. And to any Sanders supporter, their ruthlessness will not seem “unexpected” at all.


Case count by United States regions:

Peak behaviorl; 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 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!

NOT UPDATED 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:

Now, and to great relief, the Ohio Valley starts to improve (remember Tennessee is weekly). Still, Minnesota is stubborn! (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):

Only one orange jurisdiction; c’mon, Guam! I’m looking forward to the day when there is only green on the map (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: 913,960 907,190 . 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.

American exceptionalism:

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Good news here too. For the time being.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the United States unexpectedly cut 301K workers in January of 2022, the first job loss since December of 2020 and the biggest since April 2020, as the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant hurt the job market. Investors were expecting a job gain of 207K.”

* * *

The Bezzle: More on Tesla’s rolling stop “feature”:

Video, with Musk’s lying response:

Code is law:

More video on Tesla’s software (being tested on public streets, if you recall:

The Bezzle: “Air taxi CEO: fully-autonomous plane market could reach $4 trillion by 2035” [Yahoo Finance]. “In terms of updates to infrastructure that may be needed in order for Wisk to properly scale its operations in urban areas, Gysin said that the company can leverage existing helipads and airports. Electric charging stations and the ability to on-load and offload passengers will need to be incorporated, but ultimately, not much additional infrastructure will be required. ‘We’ve got a 20-city rollout plan. We haven’t announced that yet, but we do have our plan,’ Gysin said. “We are engaged with the initial cities where we’re going to launch the service.'” • And when one of them falls out of the sky and slices up a pedestrian with its propellor?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 34 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 2 at 1:24pm.

Our Famously Free Press

These writers are highly qualified for the New York Times social media team:

Lnu’s not Linux?

“Taylor Lorenz Hopes The New York Times Will “Evolve In Their Ways” as She Leaves for the Washington Post” [Vanity Fair]. • Lorenz considers herself “talent,” like a Hollywood star.


Very encouraging:

Not what I would have expected from “World of Warcraft,” but as I keep saying, I know nothing about this world.

The Fabulous Invalid

“Why Marlon Brando’s Streetcar Co-Stars Couldn’t Stand Him” [Slate]. Better than the headline: “As an English actor, Tandy wanted Brando to reform himself in the English tradition, modeling his future self on Laurence Olivier. Her letter clearly sets out the divide between classically trained English actors and their more inward-focused cousins across the Atlantic. Over the years to come, Olivier would become the Method’s foil in the public eye, the epitome of the English approach, one that was largely external, based on physical and vocal transformation and careful attention to the rhythms and sounds of the text. Brando, meanwhile, would become the symbol of the Americans: authentic, unpredictable, interior, and drawn from the self. This conflict between Brando and Tandy, America and England, is also the conflict between Stanley and Blanche. Blanche is all artifice. She describes Stanley derisively as “simple, straightforward, and honest.” Later, Blanche declares, “I don’t want realism, I want magic!” By the end of the play, in a prophecy of things to come for the Method, Blanche has discovered that her artifice doesn’t work as well as she thinks it does, while the audience has discovered that Stanley’s authenticity is another kind of veneer.”

The Agony Column

“The cruelties of self-help culture” [The New Statesman]. ” Today’s self-help mantra, as Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass (2013) puts it, is that “if you want something badly enough, and decide that you will get it, you will”. This is a fantasy of infinitude, of a world overflowing with abundant wealth and opportunity for everyone. No one need clean, serve hot food, work tills, drive forklift trucks, enter data or deliver mail if they don’t want to. Everyone can be a millionaire “influencer” or CEO. No one is fundamentally limited by the gifts, or disabilities, that they were born with, let alone by being born into a particular class, city or culture. There is nothing put wrong by brute luck that can’t be put right by dedication. All that we need in addition to hard-work, most self-help literature suggests, is to master ‘one weird trick/.” • The obvious “one weird trick”? Write a self-help book!

The Conservatory

“Led Zeppelin Gets Into Your Soul” [The New Yorker]. “The anti-religious religious power of rock was exactly what my mother feared. I don’t think it was the obvious mimicry of religious worship—the sweaty congregants, the stairways to Heaven, and all the rest of it—that worried her. I think she feared rock’s inversion of religious power: the insidious power to enter one’s soul. There were many postwar households where a confession of interest in rock and roll was received rather as a young Victorian’s crisis of faith had been in the nineteenth century. Spitz tells us that listening to pop music in the Plant home was ‘akin to a declaration of war,’ producing an ‘irreparable’ rift between Plant and his parents. In my own adolescence, I can’t clearly separate atheism’s power from rock and roll’s. My mother was right to be fearful. There was something a little ‘satanic’ about Led Zeppelin. You can feel it, perhaps, in the music’s deep uncanniness; in Plant’s unsexed keening; in the band’s weird addiction to downward or upward chromatic progressions—the sound of horror-film scores—in songs like ‘Dazed and Confused,’ ‘Kashmir,’ ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,’ and even ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ It’s in the terrifying, spectral, semi-tonal shriek of ‘Immigrant Song,’ the creepy scratching chords that open ‘Dancing Days,’ the dirgelike liturgies of ‘Friends’ and ‘Black Dog.’ That’s the good satanism. What about the actual diabolical activity—the violence, the rape, the pillage, the sheer wastage of lives? Jimmy Page was a devoted follower of the satanic ‘magick; of Aleister Crowley, whose Sadean permissions can be reduced to one decree: ‘There is no law beyond do what thou wilt.’ If the predetermined task of rock gods and goddesses is to sacrifice themselves on the Dionysian altar of excess so that gentle teen-agers the world over don’t have to do it themselves—which seems to be the basic rock-and-roll contract—then the lives of these deities are never exactly wasted, especially when they are foreshortened. Their atrocious human deeds are, to paraphrase a famous fictional atheist, the manure for our future harmony.” • When they were active, I always had Led Zeppelin filed under B for Bombast and never listened to them. But I had misfiled them, as I came to understand much later:

(The bootleg videos are better since they’re at lower resolution and don’t show the performers faces in such pitiless detail; but the sound on the official version is better.)

Zeitgeist Watch

“Death Doulas Used to Be Rare. The COVID-19 Pandemic Changed That” [Time]. “Using only words, Lightner, 49, carries him away from a home that he can’t physically leave anymore and guides him under the sea, where she knows he used to be happy. She leans her head against his chest and tells him they’re now swimming together in the tropical ocean, where so many vibrant schools of fish surround them. She describes for him the striking blues and oranges of their fins, how the sun pierces through the still water and lights up the coral beneath them. She tells him he’s warm, weightless and floating. Lightner sits beside the man for nearly seven hours. Before she leaves, she gently places his frail hand on his sleeping cat and reassures him that his beloved pet will be fine when he’s gone. Then she opens a window—a symbolic and spiritual gesture of passage to whatever comes next. The man died the next day, which is expected in Lightner’s new line of work. She’s a death doula, an end-of-life coach who helps the terminally ill be at peace with dying—and she’s among hundreds of Americans who’ve embraced the rising occupation during the pandemic.” • Wait ’til private equity moves in, and we get chains.

“Lynnwood pirate bar faces mutiny over ‘catch the virus’ show” [Everett Herald]. • The train to Assholistan always leaves on time.

“The Exquisite Catharsis of Jackass” [New York Magazine]. “[Knoxville] recently told GQ that he started graying at a very young age and that has been diligently dying it all these years, only to stop during the pandemic. Whatever his reasons, the visual effect is a perfect cinematic touch — as if Knoxville’s hair suddenly turned white from all the abuse his body had endured. The spectacle of watching this broken-down crew go about their stunts gives the movie an elegiac quality, forcing us to reflect on our own mortality…. Knoxville and his pals provide catharsis by letting dogs bite them in the ass (“Owwww! Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Ahhh, fuck! My ass meat!”) and by trapping each other in limousines full of bees. (“Oh, dude, it hurts. Ayyaaggah! Please put me somewhere where there’s no bees!”) They take our despairing reality and turn it into entertainment by presenting a vision of loyalty and fellowship. The world is fucked and everything hurts, they seem to say, but at least we have each other.” • Somebody should do a “Jackass” for dealing with customer service.

Class Warfare

“As Stocks Tumble, Wealthy Speculators Bid Up House Prices” [Cory Doctorow, Medium]. From last week, still germane: “Many asset bubbles are indirectly harmful — e.g. the climate consequences of crypto, or the way easy capital has spurred even more mergers and monopolization, with the attendant layoffs and worsening labor conditions. Asset inflation has also spurred investment in predatory enterprises like Uber and DoorDash, who use investor cash to subsidize a money-losing operation that strangles real, locally owned businesses. But there’s one asset bubble that has an immediate and direct harmful effect: the housing bubble. Since the Great Financial Crisis, Wall Street has been hell-bent on acquiring single-family homes, converting them to rental property, gouging on rent, skimping on maintenance, and evicting on the flimsiest pretense. By every metric, Wall Street investors are the worst landlords, and they’re the fastest-growing class of landlord. These two facts are related. Big firms are able to buy up so much housing because they are able to borrow cheaply, issuing bonds that “securitize” the rent payments from tenants. Access to this capital is dependent on the ability to raise rents and scare tenants into silence over dangerous living conditions. In other words, Wall Street firms can only corner the market on housing if they promise their investors that they’ll brutalize and beggar their tenants.”

“Bank of America Is Refusing to Forgive Some PPP Loans in Full, Giving Small Businesses Little Recourse” [The Intercept]. “One of the first forms of aid Congress offered to businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic was PPP loans, which were meant to be forgiven completely if used to cover payroll and other specified expenses. But in over a half-dozen interviews and emails with The Intercept, small business owners who got their PPP loans through Bank of America described the same experience: A year or more after they first received their loans, they were told that the bank determined they had originally received too much money and that it would only forgive a portion, leaving them to pay back the remainder with interest. Jose Ramos, owner of Kin-Keepers in Virginia, was told that none of his $67,500 PPP loan would be forgiven. Not all of the business owners have been able to determine why they are being denied full forgiveness; some say it has to do with whether the money could be used to pay contractors, and others say it has to do with whether they should have included health insurance costs in their applications. But all maintain that they followed the rules as they were written at the time they signed the promissory notes on their loans and shouldn’t be held accountable for the many rule changes the SBA made afterward. Bank of America, they point out, reviewed their applications and approved them for the original loans.”

News of the Wired

“Red Flags To Look For When Booking An Airbnb” [The Onion]. “The Description Doesn’t Say ‘Nestled’ Anywhere.”

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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 (BS):

BS writes writes: “Salvia Clevelandii (Cleveland Sage) with Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly.” I always marvel at this kind of shot; I just can’t take them!

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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. GetOverIt

    “DeSantis said those critics were trying to ‘use this as some type of political issue,’ adding: ‘We’re not playing their game.’

    Typical Nazi behavior:

    Florida Gov. plans Cabinet meeting — in Israel. Watchdogs wonder what’s on the agenda. “I see no reason to hold a Cabinet meeting in Israel,” said Barbara Petersen, president of the open-government group First Amendment Foundation.”

  2. Carolinian

    Pauline Kael on Marlon Brando

    “We all know that movie actors often merge with their roles in a way that stage actors don’t, quite, but Brando did it even on the stage. I was in New York when he played his famous small role in Truckline Cafe in 1946; arriving late at a performance, and seated in the center of the second row, I looked up and saw what I thought was an actor having a seizure onstage. Embarrassed for him, I lowered my eyes, and it wasn’t until the young man who’d brought me grabbed my arm and said, ‘Watch this guy!’ that I realized he was acting.”

    Of course later he became old and fat and would look up at the ceiling to read his lines off cue cards because he couldn’t be bothered to learn them. So definitely not Olivier but talent to burn.

    1. Bazarov

      Olivier’s “Uncle Vanya” is insanely good. Luckily, the play was filmed at the Chichester Festival in 1963, though the film is somewhat difficult to find.

    2. anon y'mouse

      he didn’t want to learn them because if he knew what he was going to say in advance, how would he know why he was saying it?

      memorization can rob you of trying to understand the character. he may well have been lazy and used it as an excuse, but this explanation (which i believe he made in Listen to Me Marlon) makes a lot of sense if what you are trying to do is act the way the person would act, and not necessarily just say mindlessly what the dialog writer put down.

      one tip i got from my drama teacher long ago—you had better know what you were going to finish saying when the cue is that someone interrupts you midsentence, or you’re not really “playing” anyone.

  3. Wukchumni

    “Led Zeppelin Gets Into Your Soul” [The New Yorker]. “The anti-religious religious power of rock was exactly what my mother feared. I don’t think it was the obvious mimicry of religious worship—the sweaty congregants, the stairways to Heaven, and all the rest of it—that worried her. I think she feared rock’s inversion of religious power: the insidious power to enter one’s soul.
    My dad considered the Beatles to be the devil incarnate on account of their long hair blurring sexuality, and of course that made me want to listen to them all the more, but I didn’t really grow up with the Beatles as I did Led Zeppelin and by the early 70’s every rock and roll star was ambiguous and my father was merely disgusted by all of them, not singling out anybody.

    My favorite of all was Battle of Evermore and it’s tale of an Anglo-Scottish border skirmish, all in under 6 minutes flat.


    And the symphonic version by the London Symphony Orchestra is no slouch either…


    1. Glen

      I was also a Beatles guy even though they were done by a couple years by the time I was buying LPs.

      And I was somewhat surprised to learn that I not only knew, but could sing along to just about every Led Zepplin song while I was playing the CDs a couple years ago. Not sure how that happen since I think I only bought one LP back in the day.

    2. Lemmy Caution

      Led Zeppelin gets only better with the passage of time.

      The band’s phenomenal performance at the Celebration Day event in 2007 is not to be missed.

      With Jason Bonham filling in for his father on drums, Plant, Page and Jones absolute kill this live version of Kashmir.

      The whole thing is a brilliant gift.

    3. Soredemos

      “their long hair blurring sexuality”

      Hope he never opened an ancient or medieval history book then.

    4. Mikel

      Never understood the extremely modern invention and construct of associating guys with long hair with feminity or assorted ills.
      Only way to desribe it is as unchecked obnoxios militarism.

      1. Late Introvert

        Outlaw corporate campaign donations.

        Whenever I’m railing about how shit this country is and I get challenged “well what would you do?” I throw that out and everyone always agrees with me. Ya, that would work, huh!

  4. albrt

    Undoubtedly private equity will move into the death care business and we will get chains. After all, it makes perfect sense to chain up the deplorables who have foolishly allowed themselves to get Covid. If you let them run loose who knows what they will get up to?

  5. fresno dan

    “McConnell differs with Trump on Jan. 6 pardons” [The Hill]

    I’ll see your McConnell and raise you one Graham
    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday defended his stance against offering pardons to Jan. 6, 2021, defendants a day after former President Trump called him a “RINO,” an acronym that means “Republican In Name Only.”

    “I stand with the police officers who protect our streets, federal courthouses, and the United States Capitol against rioters. They deserve our respect and support and I will not second-guess the decisions they made under dire circumstances,” the senator said in a statement.
    Its like Profiles in Courage or sumthin’
    I was pretty certain Trump would get the nomination, but now I would bet money he doesn’t

    1. Tom Doak

      It was also interesting to note that McConnell’s statement made Dec 14 the date of victory, rather than Election Day. So he threw Trump under the bus, but not the idea of “certifying” votes.

  6. Jason Boxman

    “‘What Build Back Better bill?’ Manchin said Tuesday, using the legislation’s name, when reporters asked about it. ‘There is no, I mean, I don’t know what you’re all talking about.’ Asked if he’d had any talks about it, he added, ‘No, no, no no. It’s dead.’

    LOL. Seriously. The title “president Manchin” has always been apt. I made this call 9 months ago, and since then we’ve seen what constitutes The Left in Congress fold yet again. Well done! In the midst of the worst pandemic in a 100 years, of materials benefits, the people get none. Get back to work! When Democrats stiffed everyone, quite obviously, over $600, while fervently claiming otherwise, it was abundantly clear that this round of liberal Democrat rule is nothing short of worthless.

    But look! Insurrection! Trump! Russian invasion! Oh noes!

    It still isn’t clear to me what exactly the point of Joe Biden’s presidency even is, other than: “nothing fundamental will change”. The lack of accomplishment compares quite favorably with Trump’s record, in fact.

  7. SteveD

    RE AP reporting on Manchin…. Where is this “near-daily focus on economic issues important to voters”? Did I miss the passage of an important economic bill? Or is this “near-daily focus” limited to rhetoric as opposed to action?

  8. fresno dan

    “Lynnwood pirate bar faces mutiny over ‘catch the virus’ show” [Everett Herald]. • The train to Assholistan always leaves on time.
    I would say it always leaves early. With plenty of cars. And a follow up train that leaves on time, and many, many trains to carry all the later comers….

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      It’s like the subway: The train is often crowded, and still people pile in, and there’s always another one a few moments away.

  9. JWP

    Update from Winston Salem:

    Fertilizer plant continues to burn: https://www.wxii12.com/article/north-carolina-winston-salem-weaver-fire/38958793

    The governor and fire chief were on site today and extended the evacuation order until tomorrow as winds did not help the fire and brought the AQI over 215 this morning. 600 tons of ammonium nitrate are still there and the air smell putrid with chemical smoke. Our school (Wake Forest) just sent out an email saying classes will resume in person tomorrow morning, blatantly ignoring any sort of guidance and basic safety protocols with fire smoke. Many students and staff are in hotels or went home as we have been off for two days and the situation has not improved. 2/3 of the school has signed a petition to cancel class out of fear of health concerns.

    Hopefully rain tomorrow will calm the situation

  10. fresno dan

    “The Fallacy of Representation” [New York Magazine].
    Its like the author is trying to be stupid.

    In the November 2008 elections, the Democratic Party increased its majorities in both chambers (including – when factoring in the two Democratic caucusing independents – a brief filibuster-proof 60-40 supermajority in the Senate),
    If nothing got done, its because the dems didn’t want nothing to fundamentally change (hmmm…I could swear I have heard that somewhere….maybe a recent presidentiall election??? …. …. …. nah)

    1. dk

      “What we expected of the Obama administration was beyond what the framework of the presidency allowed. That was a heartbreaking realization. Some of us came to it sooner than others.” So, that was the lesson Obama taught Democrats? We can’t govern? Well but y’know we’re really not allowed to… *pouts, kicks dirt*

      Hesitancy to govern boldly and decisively is very on-brand for Dems. Welshing on $600, treading water (or just running out the clock) on student loan cancellation, the head-in-the-sand “pandemic’s over!” moves, are all paths of least action.

      They’re fully capable of acting when they want to: “Dems avert total redistricting doomsday — but they’re not out of the woods” [Politico]

      The same kind of effort on voter reg and field/GOTV would activate an electorate that the Dem’s supporting interests can’t control, and the interests know it.

      The Presidency may have accrued too much executive power, but the point of the position is to have that opportunity to go outside the paradigms in emergencies. GOP are much less hesitant more enthusiastic to use that power. If nothing else it’s a more active representation of their constituency’s mandate. They’re “allowed” to govern, which comes prior to any results/consequences.

      There is no need to look for systemic flaws or tendencies of poor or moot representation, when the representatives are not fulfilling the task in the first place. When a system is not being used as designed, it’s impossible even to test it for performance and reliability, any more than one can test the self-driving features of an EV if the battery is dead.

      1. Hepativore

        Those of us who play or have played tabletop RPG games such as Dungeons and Dragons should put the two party duopoly in the perspective of the D&D alignment system. There is no question that the leadership of both parties is of evil alignment, but the question is of what type?

        I would say the Republican Party is Lawful Evil (LE). They are open about their callous intentions and do respond to what their base wants. However, they are also ruthless about achieving their goals and most of their members will fall in line and act like a unified force when they have a particular goal in mind.

        Democrats would probably be Neutral Evil (NE). Many of them do have stated positions on things, but they are perfectly willing to renege on them both in terms of how they deal with voters as well as fellow Democrats. While Democrats can work together if they really want something, most Democrats are also keen to put their personal interests above what the apparent goals of the rest of their members are. The DNC is not “chaotic”, because there are semi-stable blocs of power within the party, and many of these blocs have the loyalty of various party members. The thing is though is that most of these loyalty ties and procedures are unwritten, and many DNC members are perfectly willing to throw each other under the bus if it they can personally gain from it.

        So, that is a short little guide to playing Democrats and Republicans in your next homebrew D&D campaign.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > So, that is a short little guide to playing Democrats and Republicans in your next homebrew D&D campaign.

          I smell business model. Why is there no kickstarter for this? (Also need to include the actual left; it’s a three-handed game, even if one of the parties is weaker.)

        2. dk

          I’m amenable to the D&D lens for analysis but I’d say the GOP is considering a shift to Chaotic from Lawless, and I’d say the Dems have been LE for a while now (Obama’s lender bailout was in ’08).

          But a gaming model also lets us look at incentives. A lot of party operations are paid work. These people are playing to make a living, not to win or lose. Being a good political follower is a career decision more than a firm ideological stake. For better or worse, ideals themselves come out losing.

      2. c_heale

        I don’t think either of them are capable of acting outside their own paradigms, since the C19 panademic needed action outside their paradigms, and they’ve both been unable to mount a coherent response. Acting outside their paradigms (both of which appear to be, make as much money as possible and damn the consequences), would have entailed creating a new health system.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      Zeppelin- to each his own about bombast (they have much beautiful acoustic stuff), but I consider Zeppelin the greatest live rock and roll. The power and artistry is unmatched to my ears. Their studio stuff doesn’t capture it all, though Jimmy Page was a master of the studio as well. Listen to Page’s solo and vamp here with Bonham and Jones. Effortless moving thru modes, lots of notes, yet lots of space. This is my favorite piece of guitar work. From the Song Remains The Same, MSG 1973


    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Stephen V. and Lambert Strether: 1975? Written in 1975? (I’m not going to say where I was in 1975.)

      Still remarkable for how well it all holds together: And that’s what art is, holding together.

      Nearly the last stanza:

      Oh, father of the four winds, fill my sails
      Across the sea of years
      With no provision but an open face
      Along the straits of fear

  11. Skip Intro

    There seems to be a fair amount of confusion among reddit crypto fans, triggered by the receipt of 1099s, about the taxable nature of selling and converting crypto variants:

    Coinbase says crypto conversions are taxable events and irs.gov confirms it.
    So if I bought $500 in Bitcoin then converted it to USDT for a $500 value then sold the USDT for $500 USD, I essentially gained NOTHING, but Coinbase is saying I have $500 in short term gains! Something doesn’t seem right here.


    1. John Zelnicker

      Skip Intro – I’m a tax accountant.

      Someone is misinterpreting IRS rules. If you paid $500 for X Bitcoins and sold X Bitcoins for $500, you have no gain or loss. It is a taxable event and you have to report the transaction on your tax return, but there should not be any tax consequence. It’s the same as if you had bought a share of stock for $500 and sold that share for $500.

      All crypto transactions are considered in the same way as other investments, if you sell for more than you paid, you have a gain; if you sell for less than you paid, you have a loss.

      I don’t have time right now to research the IRS position on crypto conversions, but I think Coinbase is wrong.

      Who actually said that the IRS agreed with Coinbase that your transaction results in short-term gains? Redditt?

      1. Skip Intro

        There is a long thread about it, I just went to peek on r/crypto . com . I think they realize gains when they sell one coin for a gain to buy a different coin. They haven’t necessarily realized the loss yet, nor have they cashed in anything to pay tax on any gains, I think many are shocked that their transactions were even taxable or reported.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Skip Intro – Thank you. That explains a lot.

          When they sell one coin for a gain, that gain is taxable. Buying another coin is a separate transaction. When they sell the second coin, they may have a gain or loss, which also has to be reported on their tax return.

          Yeah, I bet they were surprised. They probably received the required tax reporting forms and were stunned. The IRS is treating crypto in the same fashion as any other financial investment and is imposing the same reporting rules on the exchanges that the brokerages have to follow for reporting.

          IIRC, Yves was one of the first I saw to call crypto “prosecution futures”. I bet those crypto bois thought they were getting away with something.

  12. Pat

    I fully admit I tuned out today for police funeral 2 in NYC. I just couldn’t take it.

    What I will say is that Democrats aren’t just being hypocritical regarding crime and the surge, they are being stupid about it. Most of the crimes that have been getting massive scare the masses air play have involved mental illness. Not just because you would have to be mentally ill to do them, but the perpetrators have a record of mental illness. But all the “plans” of how to deal with this crime surge have been about policing, not increased services for the ill. And let’s not forget the homeless.

    I hope I am wrong, but my take is that we will increase the police state, there will be more arrests and we may even get a cleaned up Rikers Island to handle it. What won’t happen is solving the problems. But the numbers will look good. Crime will appear to be down but a large portion of the populace will still fear being on the street and trains, and small shop owners will still be targets.

    Adams will continue to make the real estate folk happy and the schools will get picked over even more and others will help this community policing guy “cross that stage” for the same reasons.

    But yes he does bare watching. I mean Cory* made it from mayor to senator, the sky’s the limit for Eric…

    I cannot be the only one who is being reminded of Booker’s time as mayor of Newark. The choice of path is not the same but the showmanship and use of PR coupled with the pandering to the worst of neoliberal methods sure seems similar.

    1. lambert strether

      Booker is a good comparison institutionally, but Adams is a very different politician. “Broken field running” is the best way I can describe it for now; he seems very quick, very adept at changing direction, breaking tackles….

      1. Pat

        Since I don’t think in sports my reference is entertainment. For me it is a form of misdirection. Booker depended on charm, Adams is more three cups and a ball. He changes the target and uses a form of banter to distract you from his movement. His brother was probably the only scramble that wasn’t successful. That the press is rooting for him helps, but he is quick. By the time, one or more turn he won’t need them smoothing the rough spots.

        But the urban streetwise persona probably limits him to state positions for elected office, but NY powerbroker isn’t so bad.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          We’ll see how far he goes, but that man scares me. The elites wring their hands about the “authoritarian” Trump and his legions of selfie takers but run into the arms of guy who just took city office and can already put a real army in the streets. He’s already showing more real power than Trump ever dreamed of.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > But the urban streetwise persona probably limits him to state positions for elected office, but NY powerbroker isn’t so bad.

          I think it’s OK for a cop to be streetwise.

          Good point on “three cups and a ball” + patter. Note that in the shell game, the cop on the beat is an important component; you have to slip them a twenty every so often to avoid being told to move along.

    2. MK

      The problem is that most are addicted to some type of drug/alcohol and refuse to seek treatments. There is no real ‘forced’ housing, ala the sanitariums that were (rightfully) closed starting back in the 70s and 80s.

      Bottom line is that most won’t seek help until one hits rock bottom. No one can start the recovery process for someone else who doesn’t want to recover.

      1. upstater

        As the parent of a schizophrenic in recovery, I think your ignorant comment is deserving of serious troll points.

        You have no [family blog]ing idea of how pathetically threadbare the treatment options are for persons with serious mental illness. Literally 60 years of deinstitutionalization without the promised community care has followed the neoliberal playback. It is only one step removed from the final solution.

        If every person was treated as a human being and had a inalienable right to care the situation would be far different. The mentally ill are considered Untermenschen.

      2. dcblogger

        The problem is that most are addicted to some type of drug/alcohol and refuse to seek treatments. There is no real ‘forced’ housing, ala the sanitariums that were (rightfully) closed starting back in the 70s and 80s.

        Bottom line is that most won’t seek help until one hits rock bottom. No one can start the recovery process for someone else who doesn’t want to recover.

        huh? are you referring to homeless people? because 44% have jobs, and the vast majority of the others have no serious mental health issues. furthermore, do you have any idea how hard it is ti get mental health care when you are a pauper?

        what would reduce crime is jobs, housing, and healthcare, but billionaires don’t want us to have any of that.

      3. jsn

        They were forced out of that “forced” housing with no place to go.

        Drug/alcohol abuse was the predictable and predicted result.

    3. Big River Bandido

      I dunno. Spending four years as Mayor of New York — whether they’re “successful” or not — invariably destroys a politician’s reputation, utility and desirability outside of New York. Pretty much the same is true for the Governor, and this also applies to New Jersey — traits that NYS and NJ voters find appealing usually repel voters elsewhere. Northeast media types are blind to this; they always hyperventilate for high-profile New Yorkers in the presidential races. The last time a New York mayor or governor got a promotion to the White House…was in 1932. New Jersey? 1912. There have been several candidates from those two states since then, all of them disasters. Rudy 9iu11iani was no outlier in this regard; Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo would have fared no better.

    4. dcblogger

      I think you are correct. I think we are headed for more repression. I wish I knew what to do. I keep going on about mutual aid and labor organizing because those are the only signs of hope on the horizon.

  13. johnherbiehancock

    re: Led Zeppelin & anti-religiousness

    I’d have to concur with some of the sentiments here… for me, growing up in a conservative Catholic home, rock music & the emotional response to it definitely helped drive a “wedge” of sorts between the worldview that I had been taught, and the reality of the world around me as I was starting to become more aware. I wouldn’t say Pop music/rock music caused the split, just that it broadened it.

    As far as LZ goes, looking back, I’d almost lump them as being closer to what that same conservative Catholic establishment would accept, than many other musicians I moved on to. There was a lot less originality there than I initially believed, but plenty of self-promotion and marketing. And LZ did a lot less (if anything?) to challenge the Establishment politically, unlike many of their contemporaries.

    Lyrically, their themes were either derivative of fantasy writing (The Hobbit, is a pretty obvious source), or American blues/rural life (in many cases directly plagiarizing the Bluesmen, without attribution until the lawsuits came…), and the music was not much more than those same blues riffs, just louder & w/more distortion.

    I can’t really stand to listen to LZ anymore, as the thought of a blond English 20-something doing a bad Howling Wolf/Muddy Waters/WIllie Dixon impression is just too much…

    I don’t know why, but don’t have the same issues w/other British Invasion bands who did this. Maybe because Page/Plant et al actually thought they could get away with it?

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      only music either of my folks ever took issue with was 1. the village people when i was, like, 5(afraid of the gay, apparently, and in retrospect)…and KISS, when i was , like, 6(the theatrical gore, mostly…but my dad freaked when i got into mom’s makeup and did myself up like gene simmons)
      otherwise, and over all, my folks were a large influence on my musicality…mom introduced ricky lee jones, journey and meatloaf…., dad introduced everyone from leon redbone to bob dylan to jimi hendrix.

      when in high school, the elders of the town had a general freakout…coincident with the statnic panic i’ve mentioned…and ginned up a full court press crusade against devilmusic.
      the weird t-shirts didn’t help.
      super religious parents hanging out on “the Drag”(main street) holding jesus signs, singing, praying loudly, and accosting the most rebellious youths …who, after all, were having a lark and being over the top with their “satanist behaviour” BECAUSE their parents were freaking out so.
      all that said, if one goes and actually listens to the words of a great many of the bands that were most wanted for burning at the stake(black sabbath, iron maiden, judas priest, on and on)…they were all sending messages that the parents, by all rights, would approve of…if couched in different rhetoric and accompanied by roy clarke and porter wagner.
      black sabbath, especially.

      and, i dig led zepplin…(we have led zepplin days on the speakers in the trees–as a few days ago: along with grateful dead days, allman brothers days, miles davis days,vivaldi days, etc)
      as with most things, i veer away from the songs that get the most attention, and prefer the more obscure and b-sides.

      1. johnherbiehancock

        The only music my parents had an issue with was rap, but that may just be a sign of the times… I reached teenagehood in the early 90’s.

        so I never personally witnessed any of the moral panic over the satanic elements in rock, but I definitely remember my mom going to some sort of meeting at our Church that had a speaker who ran through the “bad boy” stuff some of the rock bands were doing at the time, to shock the audience into going home and sifting through their kids’ album collections. The only point I remember my mom mentioning is something about Guns and Roses showing up late to their concerts and being dismissive of their audience.

        Maybe by this time, they realized how ineffective the “satanic panic” strategy was, and moved on to “don’t let your kids give these scumbags your hard-earned dollars“?

        This might’ve coincided with the Tipper Gore/PMRC censorship push… ? I don’t remember the date of that meeting clearly enough, although it probably would’ve been the early 90’s.

        1. Sardonia

          My favorite moment of the Tipper Gore Senate hearings was when Frank Zappa testified.

          Tipper had earlier read into the record some of the lyrics she found most scandalous, including one where some rocker encouraged girls to “smell my anal vapors”.

          Zappa started out by praising Tipper’s tireless efforts on behalf of America’s Youth, saying, “I know you must have dug deep to come up with that ‘anal vapors’ quote.”

      2. steve

        The older cohort catching a fever in the ’70s I always diagnosed as Future shock.

        “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.” Alvin Toffler

    2. t

      Any chance LZ stands apart for raging misogyny, even in their day?

      Have they even allowed that some of their music may have been homage (when it’s pure theft.)

    3. c_heale

      Lotta of hype with Led Zepp imo. There are and were much better bands out there. The best hard rock song ever imo is Hells Bells by ACDC.

  14. Dr. John Carpenter

    Someone should let Musk know rolling through a stop sign at 2 mph will get you a ticket. Ask me how I know…

    1. Synoia

      Musk , having failed at full a self driving Car , is now uttering BS about semi-self Car.

      His car a less smart than a Horse, and no horse rider trusts the horse to perform every task without both training and the rider’s guidance.

      His truck is a poor prototype. A truck must (not musk) move a heavy load. If half that load is batteries, the truck is not profitable.

      For an EV marker to grow, there needs to be a large second hand electric vehicle market If the batteries are out of warranty, failing at three years, and subject to very expensive repairs, the EV market is not going to happen as hoped.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > His car a less smart than a Horse, and no horse rider trusts the horse to perform every task without both training and the rider’s guidance.

        Great framing

        > For an EV marker to grow, there needs to be a large second hand electric vehicle market If the batteries are out of warranty, failing at three years, and subject to very expensive repairs, the EV market is not going to happen as hoped.

        Something to watch (and one does wonder what China is doing about this. If blowing up one’s EV turns out to be the preferred solution, we’ll be able to see the blasts from space, given the size of the Chinese market).

    2. The Rev Kev

      Good thing that Musk is also not working on a fully-autonomous plane as well. I don’t think his designs would work well with the concept of such mundane things as Air Traffic Control. Anyway, you are liable to find yourself strapped into one of these things at 10,000 feet when the fully-autonomous plane would decide that it needs to shut down to do a major system upgrade followed by a re-boot.

    3. Soredemos

      Musk should be in prison already. This sort of beta testing on a non-consenting public is insane.

      AI robot cars will almost certainly never be a real thing, but if any of them will be, it will be one of the projects with full radar and lidar setups. Teslas lack these entirely, and it’s only a matter of time before one of them kills someone, if it hasn’t happened already.

  15. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Fnu Lnu

    Darn! Wish I had known that years ago — it would be an excellent pseudonym for an online persona (or a band name).

    1. c_heale

      The intention was to get the Russians to back down, and it didn’t work, so it became unintended.

  16. Josef K

    I was bored enough to click through a number of the Onion’s slides, far enough to where “you’re” is spelled “your’e.” The dumbing down of Murica.

    Here’s a more egregious example from the recently linked-to article on Bonny Prince Andrew at Vanity Fair:

    “Virginia Roberts Giuffre told the Mail that, following her first meeting with Andrew, she had two other encounters with him: at Epstein’s New York home later in 2001; and a year later, after she had turned 18, on Epstein’s private island, Little St. James. “There was no suggestion that there was any sexual contact between Virginia and Andrew, or that Andrew knew that Epstein paid for her to have sex with his friends,” read the Mail article.”

    The way it’s worded, it means that JE paid his friends so that VR could have sex with them; it should read “…knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.” Surprising that no editor at VF caught this not-insignificant mistake, much less so that it passed at the DM.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why do I even have to read these sentences):

      Daily Mail: “…. knew that Epstein paid for her to have sex with his friends.”

      Corrected: “…knew that Epstein paid her to have sex with his friends.”

      A good copy editor would take out the “for,” certainly. That said, all the Daily Mail version does is declarify who Epstein paid; it does not imply that Epstein paid his friends, just that Epstein paid VR or his friends (the latter, if true, being one of the more bizarre aspects of an already bizarre episode).

  17. Glen

    So right below the twit, tweat, twitter, er, my age is showing, on how many manual interventions was necessary to keep the Tesla driving, is the article on how autonomous piloted flying taxis are coming.

    I can only conclude that the CEO has the Fed IPO loan PMC department on speed dial.

    1. dcblogger

      except for the possibility of exposing myself to covid by leaving my apartment, I don’t think there is any risk. Just a handful of demonstrators standing in front of the White House shouting No War With Russia.

  18. Darthbobber

    Democratic difficulties in the current redistricting are limited by the very comprehensiveness of their 2010 debacle. In many states, the Republicans arranged matters so thoroughly to their advantage then that there was little to be gained this time

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘Anyhow, condemning Nazis shouldn’t be hard’

    You’d think so but each year when it comes to a vote at the United Nations for a resolution to combat ‘glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’, the US always votes against this resolution. I think that typically only two or three other countries vote against it as well such as Ukraine and Palau and I think that at least once Israel voted against it as well.

  20. dcblogger

    From National Nurses United:
    Leave a Valentine’s Day message at CVS
    For months, we’ve been organizing together across the country to call on CVS Health to cut ties with the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future — the largest anti-Medicare for All front group that exists today. And our Valentine’s Day request to CVS is simple: quit breaking our hearts by blocking Medicare for All.

  21. Jason Boxman

    We used to be able to do things as a country:

    “One of the marvels of the massive logistical operation that supported the allied invasion of Europe was the speed and reliability with which troops in the field were able to stay in touch with loved ones back home in America. V-mail facilitated correspondence back and forth on small, standardized blue sheets. The military censored those written in combat zones, photographed them, stored images on rolls of microfilm, and shipped them overseas, where they were printed on paper and delivered, saving much-needed cargo space on ships. “

    Facing the Mountain, Daniel Janes Brown.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Great anecdote showing the opposite of “operational breakage.” (I shudder to think what would happen today if we attempted something similar. I imagine we would outsource the project to a major consulting firm, which would outsource the deliverables to some app developers, who would outsource the coding to some body shops. Only after the war ended would the project be canceled.)

      Anyhow, I hate that phrase “loved ones.” It’s saccharine and deeply fake; family relationships and indeed all relationships (“loved ones” tends to equate to family) are so much more complicated and interesting than that. Wherever you look, linear oversimplification and reductionist, grinning goons telling you what your feelings should be.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Ohio secretary of state finds 27 potentially illegal votes”

    Did they use a coin-toss to determine if they were illegal or not?

  23. Tom Stone

    Why hasn’t the National Association of Realtors come out in favor of canceling student loan debt?
    Or at least treating it like other debts in Bankruptcy?
    The biggest bar to “New Household Formation” aka first time Home buyers has been excessive student loan debt, something that has been known for years.

    In my long out of date experience of working as a collector of delinquent student loans MANY of them were from student loan mills that vastly over promised and spectacularly under performed.
    Universal beauty college, ITT technical ( Learn to be a Jet engine mechanic through the mail!) and the like.
    Scam schools.
    I reviewed a placement of $2MM of student loans from beauty colleges in 1980 (Second and third placements) and a total of $1,850 was recovered over 2 years.
    One $1,800 settlement from a gal getting married whose fiancee wanted her credit cleaned upand one $50 payment

    1. AndrewJ

      As someone who’s got insane levels of uncollectable private and federally guaranteed student debt, what did the lenders accept for a settlement back then? Would getting 5% of tens of thousands of dollars be worth it for these lenders, as opposed to them waiting another thirty years and garnishing whatever meager social security payments I’m owed?

  24. kareninca

    I’d like to think that CA is really so green in the rapid riser department, but nearly everyone I know who gets tested uses home tests, and so positive results don’t end up going to any data collector. How is that taken into account? Is it?? It seems there could be many more cases than are being acknowledged. Now that the federal government is sending out a lot of home tests, it seems that there will be ever more cases that are not counted, for that reason. Yes, I am glad there are home tests, but those positives should be counted somewhere.

    I presently know four ladies in their 70s (three on the east coast, one in the midwest) who have recently become dizzy. Their doctors assumed UTIs, but that doesn’t seem to be it. They are all fully vaxxed and boosted. I wonder if dizziness is going to be a common symptom in the near future.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d like to think that CA is really so green in the rapid riser department, but nearly everyone I know who gets tested uses home tests, and so positive results don’t end up going to any data collector. How is that taken into account? Is it??

      It isn’t. Because the United States is not a serious country, the numbers are terrible, good only directionally and for narrative. In this case, the hospitalization data reinforces the downward trend of case data, as does wastewater data. (Readers have pointed me to a California wastewater site, but I’m all thumbs when I try to use it; so I stick with MWRA.) Biobot should really build a better dashboard, but here is what they have, as of January 26:

  25. VietnamVet

    The Ukraine crisis is about clear as European Winter mud. The beating war drums are a diversion from the unmitigated failure of the West to control the coronavirus pandemic and the skyrocketing inflation due to shortages and missing workers.

    Basically civilization comes down to energy. Russia has it. Europe doesn’t. The North Sea supply is declining. Western oligarchs are trying to destabilize Russia so they can get their hands on it.

    The USA can supply some for a price (20 LNG carriers sailed east) but without Russia’s supply increasing by opening NORD Stream II; energy prices in Europe and the USA will only get worse. Joe Biden on top of everything else now has an energy crisis. Russia is threatening to cut off Europe’s gas supply in the dead of winter. Russia doesn’t need to invade. It just has to convince Europe that it is in their best interest to neutralize Ukraine and sign long-term supply contracts.

    Much like after the Cuban Missile crisis when the intermediate range missiles were withdrawn without fanfare from Turkey; NATO and the Western Empire will slowly crumble apart without the corporate media ever noticing. This is all one could hope for. Any outcome that avoids a world war between the major nuclear powers is better.

  26. skippy

    Interesting …

    Melinda French Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will no longer be pledging the majority of her wealth to the philanthropic organization.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, French Gates still plans to distribute much of her fortune across philanthropic endeavors, but largely outside of the Gates Foundation, which is one of the world’s largest.

    “I recognize the absurdity of so much wealth being concentrated in the hands of one person, and I believe the only responsible thing to do with a fortune this size is to give it away – as thoughtfully and impactfully as possible,” French Gates wrote in a new letter.

    “The ultimate goal of any philanthropist should be to render the need for philanthropy obsolete,” the billionaire wrote. “It’s important to acknowledge that giving away money your family will never need is not an especially noble act. There’s no question in my mind that the real standard for generosity is set by the people who give even when it means going without.

    “That’s why, as part of this pledge, I commit to doing more than writing checks. I also commit my time, energy, and efforts to the work of fighting poverty and advancing equality – for women and girls and other marginalized groups – in the United States and around the world.”


    Divorce – ????

  27. Amfortas the hippie

    weirdness continues in texas:
    “The harassment escalated in late January when a right-wing congressional candidate from Virginia, Kimberly Lowe, visited the nature conservatory, Treviño-Wright said. Lowe demanded the center give her access to the river “to see all the illegals crossing on the raft.” Treviño-Wright said Lowe tackled her when she asked Lowe to leave the premises.”


    this sort of thing is why otherwise competent and caring local officialdom(speaking of my county only) are so averse to doing anything to stem the spread of covid…they don’t want to deal with the rabid nutters.
    who would?
    even way before Q and trump and cancel culture and woke torquemadaism, this kind of potentially violent…but always tiresome…nuttery is why i never ran for office…even when asked to.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      more texas nuttery:

      we’ve reached(sic) our high for today…it’s 24 degrees, steady sleet and blustery winds.
      i took a benadryl at around 8pm so i could sleep.
      got up at 1 for the graveyard firekeeper shift.
      so far, the little milkhouse heater is good enough for the greenhouse…but that ancient woodstove is ready to go for later(waiting because that stove has one setting:On…so one must watch and manage it constantly)
      main 2 woodstoves are at full bore, and youngest’s propane wall heater is keeping his room toasty.
      the woodstove in the northernmost room is cold…discovered yesterday that the outer stovepipe(8″ that goes through the ceiling, that the 6″ actual pipe goes into) rusted sometime…didn’t see it in time to fix, because i rarely enter that room…oh, well.
      learning from last year, i stapled/nailed a bunch of blankets(never throw anything away,lol) over all the antique, single pane windows…and on the outside of all the greenhouse windows…made a big difference, so far.
      got kerosene and lanterns and a few 100 year old “hurricane lamps” inherited from grandparents ready to go if ercot ends up being lying sacks of shit.https://www.ercot.com/normal

      did all the laundry, and all the dishes…including rewashing many of the dishes that rarely get used. just in case.
      every possible container is filled with water.
      and all the water troughs and water feature pools as well…for fire suppression, if needed(tough wood)
      we’re better situated than almost everybody, even out here…because we can keep warm even without electricity. all those gas furnaces(it’s propane hereabouts) rely on electricity to function…yet i still heard people boasting in the store about how they ain’t worried because they heat with gas(!?).
      i’ve also added the frequencies for local power and texdot to the scanner…so far, quiet.
      only emt call all night was drunken old person slipping on ice going to barn to get more whiskey.
      looking like i can turn the water back on on saturday, around lunchtime.

      ….outside, it’s gone silent.
      likely means a switch to snow.
      give me 100 degrees and dry any old day.

  28. Jack Parsons

    Only a Lord of Misrule like Trump can get away with “very fine people”; DeSantis doesn’t have the stature, if stature is the word I want.

    “Game show gravitas” is what Trump has.

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