2:00PM Water Cooler 2/9/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

“Tunes of the forest” [Bangkok Post (Furzy Mouse)]. It is a heavenly radio broadcast that reminds villagers twice a day — morning and late afternoon — of their feathered companions under threat of extinction. Despite being hampered by lockdowns, artists have managed to imitate birdsong for public announcement systems to promote human-animal relationships. Broadcast in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Phimai, the sonic intervention, More-Than-Human-Songs, is produced by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and two local bird imitators.” • I think the focus should be on the two local bird imitators, who ought to have been named in the lead along with Eliasson. Here is the broadcast (in Thai, except for the birds, of course):

* * *


“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

“Twenty-First Century Fascism: Where We Are” [Verso]. Worth reading in full: “Differently from the fascist militia in 1920-1925 or the SA in 1930-1933, which expressed the fall of the state monopoly of violence in postwar Italy and Germany respectively, the Trump militias are a poisoned legacy of American history, the history of a country in which individual weapons are considered as a feature of political freedom. As frightening as it can be, this is not the sign of a collapsing state. In the 1930s, the European industrial, financial, and military elites supported fascism as a solution to endemic political crises, institutional paralysis, and, above all, as a defense against Bolshevism. Today, they support neoliberalism. In the US, the ‘establishment’ can support the Republican Party as a customary alternative to the Democratic Party, but the Pentagon would never endorse a putsch of white supremacists to impede Joe Biden’s election to the executive. In Europe, the establishment is embodied by the EU and firmly opposes all those populist, nationalist and post-fascist movements claiming a return to ‘national sovereignties.’… In the last analysis, however, the future of the radical right movements will not exclusively depend on their own internal evolution, ideological orientation and strategic choices; nor will it depend on the support they could get from the global elites; in the end, it will depend on the capacity of the left to sketch an alternative.” • So how is the left doing on that?

“Declining share of Americans see Trump as primarily responsible for Jan. 6” [The Hill]. “The results from Pew show that 43 percent of respondents view Trump as being primarily responsible for the attack, a drop from 52 percent last year. The surveys were taken shortly after the attack and its anniversary…. The number of Republicans who say Trump bears no responsibility at all for the attack grew from 46 percent to 57 percent over the last year, while the share of Democrats who see Trump as having “a lot” of responsibility for the attack dropped from 81 percent to 70 percent.”

Biden Adminstration

“Pelosi buckles, pushes stock-trading ban” [Axios]. “Pelosi and House Democratic leaders are planning to “amend the STOCK Act, the 2012 law governing how members disclose the purchase or sale of stocks, to eliminate the trading of individual stocks by members of Congress,” Punchbowl News reports…. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) have already reached a deal to file a stock-ban bill, Axios’ Sophia Cai reports…. But other Democratic Senators have lined up behind a less stringent proposal from Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) that would require members of Congress and their spouses to put their stock portfolios in a blind trust…. : Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so, Axios’ Dan Primack notes.” • Here are several summaries of Congressional trading.

So, did Temple Grandin consult on the Democrat Covid policy? Apparently not, or they’d be doing a better job:

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.

* * *


* * *

“Top Georgia Democrats build financial edge over Republicans” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “In just two months, Democrat Stacey Abrams amassed $9.2 million, outdoing both Gov. Brian Kemp and his Republican rival, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. She collected nearly $2 million more in that span than Kemp did over a six-month period. Perdue tallied only about $1 million since December. And Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock raised $9.8 million in the final three months of 2021, making him the nation’s top Senate fundraiser for the second quarter in a row. He easily outdid Herschel Walker, his top Republican rival, whose $5.4 million haul was the most of any GOP Senate challenger in the nation.” • Well… Amy McGrath raised a ton of money, too. And Raphael Warnock owes me six hundred bucks.

I can’t wait for the midterms:

“AOC: Capitalism is ‘not a redeemable system for us’” (interview) [Yahoo Finance]. AOC: “[C]apitalism at its core, what we’re talking about when we talk about that, is the absolute pursuit of profit at all human, environmental, and social cost. That is what we’re really discussing. And what we’re also discussing is the ability for a very small group of actual capitalists– and that is people who have so much money that their money makes money, and they don’t have to work. And they can control industry. They can control our energy sources. They can control our labor. They can control massive markets that they dictate and can capture governments. And they can essentially have power over the many. And to me that is not a redeemable system for us to be able to participate in for the prosperity and peace for the vast majority of people.” • Good messaging. Now stick to it. I’m sort of amazed to see this; AOC must be very confident in her district and/or her ability to fundraise nationally — all those cooking videos must have paid off (and no, I’m not joking).

Republican Funhouse

Rubio’s staff must hate him:

Who let Rubio in front of a camera with his shirt like that?

Our Famously Free Press

“The Blue Stack Strikes Back” [Zaid Jilani, Tablet]. “If you look back at any of the recent controversies over free speech—from QAnon to COVID to the last two presidential elections—this is how things work when a development or outcome is seen as unfavorable or undesirable by the favored political camp: First, activists create a panic about misinformation or offensive speech. Second, the social media platforms try to meet them halfway by introducing measures like warning labels. Third, the activists realize they’ve drawn blood, and continue to push for outright censorship. Finally, the social media platforms give in and remove the offending voice from their platforms altogether. The institutions successfully driving this push for ideological conformity across American life—progressive nonprofits, large portions of the news media, woke corporations, Democrats in government—can collectively be called the “blue stack,” which represents an enforcement mechanism for the ruling ideology to express hegemony over American democracy. The blue stack presents America’s elite with something they’ve always craved but has been out of reach in a liberal democracy: the power to swiftly crush ideological opponents by silencing them and destroying their livelihoods. Typically, American cultural, business, and communication systems have been too decentralized and too diffuse to allow one ideological faction to express power in that way. American elites, unlike their Chinese counterparts, have never had the ability to imprison people for wrong-think or derank undesirables in a social credit system. But the alliance between the media, progressive activists, certain government officials and bureaucrats, technology firms, and other powerful institutions like business and banking now allows them to shape events through what Tablet’s Wesley Yang has called the vertical messaging apparatus. When a politically inconvenient story appears at an inopportune time—one about, say, the corruption of the Democratic presidential candidate’s son—the blue stack takes unified action to quickly suppress it. Dozens of former officials from the intelligence community can sign a letter baselessly insinuating that the Hunter Biden story was just Russian disinformation, the mainstream media can publish it, and social media companies friendly to or fearful of the Democratic Party can collude to limit access to the original reporting.” • Good frame; I’m not sure about the structure. Taking stack literally, a stack is a stack; it is dynamic only in that you can push items on top of the stack or pop them off. Ditto for “vertical messaging apparatus,” if that implies old-fashioned vertical integration. In reality, the structures that produce dogpiles and moral panics are much more fluid and dynamic. It would not be possible to incorporate new “voices” if they were not.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Different results from Monmouth:

* * *

“Column: These pundits and pols say they’re ‘done with COVID.’ But COVID’s not done with us” [Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times]. “At a certain level, it’s understandable that nearly two years of pandemic-related restrictions have people fed up and desperate to get back to some semblance of normal life. But that’s no excuse for the premature and dangerous declarations by elite commentators and vote-scrounging politicians that the crisis is over. For them and their social circles and fellow ideologues, perhaps it is over. Many live in a bubble that has protected them from the worst ravages of COVID-19. For millions of Americans, however, it’s not nearly over. They’re the survivors left behind by the 67,000 Americans who died of COVID in the last month, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not to forget the survivors, relatives and friends of the nearly 900,000 Americans who have perished in the pandemic, and the countless more suffering “long COVID” — those whose health has been compromised for months or possibly years by their encounter with the virus…. That brings us back to examining who has suffered the most from the pandemic. “Among working-aged Americans, those with 2019 household incomes less than $25,000 were 3.5 times as likely to report missing an entire week of work mainly due to their own or loved ones’ COVID-19 symptoms, relative to those earning $100,000 or more,” reports Julia Raifman of Boston University. Access to and uptake of vaccines and boosters are closely correlated with income. The share of fully boosted Americans with incomes less than $25,000 is only 22.2%, compared with 43% among those with incomes in the $75,000-to-$100,000 range and 56.6% of those with incomes of $100,000 or more.” • Hiltzik is on fire with this one; it’s so good to hear this said. But, Democrats throwing the working class under the bus? Say it’s not so!

“IT’S OVER — America Officially Surrenders to Covid” [Peter Daou, Direct Left]. “With the daily death toll near the highest point of the pandemic, the Biden administration has decided to abandon the farce that it is any better than Trump and Republicans. As the White House signals total surrender to the virus, Democratic officials across the country are ditching even the most basic mitigation measures.” • As I keep saying: Democidal elites is a parsimonious explanation. Commentary:

“New York joins several other U.S. states in rolling back mask mandates as infections fall.” [New York Times]. “Still, the easing of New York’s pandemic restrictions on businesses comes as Democratic-led states from New Jersey to California have announced similar moves this week, in a loosely coordinated effort that is the result of months of public-health planning, back-channel discussions and political focus groups that began in the weeks after the November election.” So this was the real Democrat plan all along, not that rubbish the Biden transition team emitted. Good to know. More: “The moves highlight how even local officials who installed sweeping safety measures early in the pandemic are now preparing to live permanently with the virus.” It’s not the goddamned “offiicials” who are going to have any problems; they’ll do fine, just fine. More: “The moves to eliminate mask mandates in these states come as the number of reported cases has dipped to its lowest level since the highly contagious Omicron variant touched off a wave of cases in December.” You just have to have been tapewatching along with me to know how delusional this talking point is.” • Tell me more about those focus groups, mentioned only once. Which Democratic strategist ran them? What were the results? And why in the name of all that is holy didn’t we do some focus groups to buld support for non-pharmaceutical interventions, so we could avoid mandates in the first place? A story that raises more questions than it answers….

“‘Full blown’ pandemic phase of Covid nearly over in US, declares Anthony Fauci” [Financial Times]. “The US is heading out of the “full blown” pandemic phase of Covid-19, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said, as he predicted a combination of vaccinations, treatments and prior infection would soon make the virus more manageable. Dr Anthony Fauci told the Financial Times he hoped there would be an end to all pandemic-related restrictions in the coming months including mandatory wearing of masks. In his most optimistic comments about the trajectory of the pandemic since the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Fauci outlined a scenario in which local health departments would lead the response to the virus rather than the Biden administration. Fauci said: ‘As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of Covid-19, which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated. There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus.'” • Musical interlude. Commentary:


Case count by United States regions:

I have again added an anti-triumphalist “Fauci Line” to highlight that the peak created by Biden and his team — Klain, Zeints, Fauci, Walensky — was so enormous that even now, after rapid decline, the case (under-)count is only a little below the best the former guy could do. The adults in the room reallly rose to the occasion on this one. (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!

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.

A good question:

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 isn’t, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

I have published CDC’s Rapid Riser report because I felt it would pinpoint outbreaks early, and because I felt something dynamic would be more useful to readers making travel plans (it’s one thing to have high community spread; it’s another to have systems stressed because things are getting rapidly worse). With that reminder, here is the CDC’s latest chart on Community Spread:

Totally the time to relax all restrictions, eh? Unless you’re actively trying to spread the virus (which is what democidal elites would do).

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Dammit, Guam. (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: 932,443 928,879. 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. For the time being. Speaking of the Dominican Republic:

Good luck to them.

Stats Watch

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US advanced 2.2 percent month-over-month to $789.4 billion in December of 2021, up from a 1.7 percent increase in the prior month and above a preliminary estimate of 2.1 percent. It was the 17th consecutive month of gains, amid increases in inventories of both durable goods (2.6 percent vs 2.6 percent in November) and nondurable ones (1.6 percent vs 0.4 percent). On a yearly basis, wholesale inventories advanced 18.5 percent in December.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Tesla recalls 26,681 U.S. vehicles over windshield defrosting software” [Reuters]. “Tesla Inc is recalling 26,681 vehicles in the United States because a software error may result in windshield defrosting problems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Wednesday. Tesla told U.S. regulators the error may cause a valve in the heat pump to open unintentionally and trap the refrigerant inside the evaporator. Tesla will perform an over-the-air software update to address the issue. The recall covers some 2021-2022 Model 3, Model S, Model X, and 2020-2022 Model Y vehicles that may not comply with a federal motor vehicle safety standard. It is the latest in a string of recent recalls for the Texas-based EV manufacturer.” • More Tesla news:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 37 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 36 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 9 at 1:33pm. Moving toward neutral?

Groves of Academe

Why has nobody made an NFT of this:

Health Care

“Paper used to support claims that ivermectin reduces COVID-19 hospitalizations is withdrawn by preprint server” [Retraction Watch]. “The overseers of the preprint server SocArXiv have withdrawn a paper which claims that treating Covid patients with ivermectin dramatically reduces their odds of hospitalization, calling the work ‘misleading’ and ‘part of an unethical program by the government of Mexico City to dispense hundreds of thousands of doses of an inappropriate medication to people who were sick with COVID-19.’ ‘Ivermectin and the odds of hospitalization due to COVID-19: evidence from a quasi-experimental analysis based on a public intervention in Mexico City,’ has been a source of controversy for SocArXiv since it was accepted for the site in May 2021. The paper was written by José Merino, head of the Digital Agency for Public Innovation (DAPI), along with co-authors DAPI, the Mexican Social Security Institute and the Mexico City Ministry of Health.” • My reading: socRxiv has two issues: 1) Ethical (“dispensing unproven medication”). Now that we’re doing human challenge trials in the UK — $6,200 to risk covid infection — I would have thought such niceties had been put to rest, but wev. 2) Scientific. socRxiv cites to Polifact (!!). (There’s a reference to a Twitter thread on the science but it’s not *cited* by socRciv.) Am I missing something? (Meanwhile, there are three hits on “remdesivir,” but no retractions. NEJM and Lancet were allowed to place “expressions of concern” on papers about remdesivir, whose producers stock was ramped by Fauci based on a press release, and which WHO now recommends against (“there is currently no evidence that remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes in these patients”). I suppose all Retraction Watch can do is watch, but the disparity seems worthy of comment. Oh, and the socRxiv committee nuked the paper partly because of “a community groundswell beseeching us to act.” Will Ignaz Semmelweis please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone?

Zeitgeist Watch

“Where Did All the Workers Go?” [The Ethical Skeptic]. “As a person who does corporate strategy, and has faced some of these related issues in conducting planning for my clients – I hope at least, that I bear a clean and direct grasp of how the employment market is affected by certain factors. This may not be popular, and my intention is not to excuse-make for this generation – nonetheless it is the truth. As a 24 year old in the United States of America (this is not me, this is a collection summarizing what I have heard or observed from this generation).” #23: “Knowing a trade is much more valuable than having a degree now. Work for yourself, part time is the way to go. If you can fix a pipe, circuit board, or electric motor, you are far more valuable than a college educated cubicle-dweller managing the overdue payment notification team.” Amen to that. Be Jackpot-ready. #25: “Video games are incredibly real and immersive now, and highly addictive, on large 4K screens with fantastic sound. There is a new one each week. The social network around them is incredible, a lot of people just like me.” Still waiting for some sort of politics to emerge from, or be carried on within, this environoment. #29: “Online porn is far less trouble than a real live friend of the opposite sex. Having one of those is like owning a monkey, with a chance of accidental pregnancy. Plus, after all, I live in my parents’ basement…” • I dunno. This reminds me of the rise of incels in Korea. A garden would be immersive… but hard to do in a basement, no?

My goodness:

Blake before there was Blake?

Class Warfare

“A Labor Stunner in Mexico Augurs Greater Equality — on Both Sides of the Border” [Inequality.org]. “What keeps wages in Mexico so low? Mexico’s corrupt traditional union powerhouse, the Confederación de Trabajadores de México, has played a key role. Leaders of unions connected to this confederation, the CTM, have essentially served as pliant junior partners to the PRI political party, the ruling party for most of Mexico’s modern history. With PRI support, CTM leaders have signed sweetheart contracts with employers that have kept wages low and workers in the dark. But CTM’s lockgrip over labor relations in Mexico started cracking when the reform-minded Morena party swept into office nationally in the 2018 elections. CTM had suddenly lost its political patron, and rank-and-file Mexican workers had a national administration actually interested in protecting their rights, via both new laws and the serious enforcement of already existing labor statutes. Meanwhile, midway through 2020, the successor trade agreement to NAFTA went into full effect. This new agreement has one important saving grace: a series of provisions, pushed hard by U.S.-based unions, that aim to help workers freely choose the unions that represent them. This past week saw these provisions put to their ultimate test. In Silao’s massive General Motors plant, over 6,500 workers finally had the opportunity to pick a union of their own choice.” • With results that we see!

“REI Workers ‘Fed Up,’ Seeking Union Recognition” [Women’s Wear Daily]. “On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board received a petition for union election at Recreational Equipment Inc., (or REI as it’s known) on behalf of 116 REI SoHo employees who wish for formal union election and recognition. The organizers sought representation from the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, or RWDSU, and the United Food and Commercial Workers coalition, or UFCW. This store, in particular, has been a happening spot throughout the pandemic, as outdoor activities and enjoyment have been on the rise… REI employees are speaking out against lax mask-wearing or COVID-19 safety and disclosure protocols in store (REI saw policy changes last year adapted from the CDC, as well as state and local guidance) and values shifts, according to union organizers…. The REI Co-op was founded in 1938 on the premise of a collective love of the outdoors, mountaineering and recreation of all kinds, whether hiking, skiing, camping or the like. About 1 million new members join the co-op a year for a onetime $20 fee, receiving dividends back on their purchases each year for life. The co-op counts roughly 13,000 employees. But REI also counts 20 million lifetime co-op members who may have an opinion on the latest organizing efforts — a handful of whom have already expressed pro-union stances in customer feedback forums and the like online.”


News of the Wired

Here is Virtual Railfan’s webcam for Santa Fe Junction, Kansas City, Missouri, one of the “busiest junctions in America“:

Relaxing to watch; and a reminder of how enormous this country is. Lots and lots of containers!

Ancient jackpots:

Haikus, as well:

* * *

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 (RH):

RH writes: “Three kinds of mushroom on one stump (Birch).” I stan for stumps, so good.

* * *

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

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

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

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

About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Carolinian

    The blue stack presents America’s elite with something they’ve always craved but has been out of reach in a liberal democracy: the power to swiftly crush ideological opponents by silencing them and destroying their livelihoods.

    Uh, Joe McCarthy….hello? It’s just that the power elite have switched parties. Of course there are still plenty of rich Republicans with lots of power but not the national spotlight the way they had back then.

      1. Carolinian

        True, we’re not that far gone yet, but potentially headed there. In both instances the rhetoric about the danger of free speech is the same. You could even say that the McCarthy period–coming after a war against real honest to god fascism–was more defensible than it’s reinvention in the modern age in order to protect the head of that rotting fish. It’s now the Dems who are the Ancien Regime–literally. The Repubs, other than some alt-conservatives, seem to be fading into the woodwork.


    1. hunkerdown

      I bet it’s “blue stack” by analogy to the progressive stack at Occupy Wall Street, or perhaps to the solution stack as an application platform (e.g. the LAMP stack composed of Linux, Apache, MariaDB, and PHP) atop which any number of propaganda apps can run.

      1. R

        I thought it was bluestack in the sense if my lovely friend Chas, a posh Northerner. One of his many endearing Yorkshire boarding school qualities at College was to hear him shout “stack” to his visiting school friends and see them throw themselves on each other in a homoerotic manheap to crush the unlikely bottom to death.

        When any self respecting Southerner knows the word is “Bundle!”….

        The Bluestack is the homosocial smothering impulse of the Democratic party.

    2. Nedd

      “The reason we have homeless camps filled with users is not free needles, or safe injection sites, it is because we are a cold & materialistic society that sees any form of community, no matter how small or large, & all human interactions as useless unless it can be monetized.”

      Wring your hands to the bone, the problem won’t be solved with or without money.

      From 2016 to 2019, San Francisco homelessness spending in each two-year budget swelled 83%, from about $200 million to $360 million. At the same time, the number of homeless people grew from about 6,000 to more than 8,000, a 33% increase. 4.5 million syringes were given out by San Francisco in one year.


      Homelessness isn’t caused by a shortage of housing. It is caused by mental illness and addiction. They had a place to live, but they lost it because they spent their money on their voluntarily commenced addictions, except for Sackler victims, or were evicted for damaging property or being disruptive. Large state and city hospitals used to provide shelter to many, but they were shut down.

      Flophouses and fleabag hotels served a purpose in keeping them off the streets, but they were all torn down. Traditional housing is not a substitute for them.

      As a former homeless volunteer, neighbor and janitor to them everyday, I say not one penny of public money for homeless. Reinstate public mental hospitals and arrest criminals. That will end “homelessness” and return people to their own communities, rather than encourage them to congregate on the west coast. Let religious institutions and private individuals put their money, and their floors, where their mouths are.

      And that’s happening! for the latest: Homelessness in San Francisco is now so bad that people are being asked to take a homeless person into their spare room: Politicians and charities claim locals are more concerned with camps of unhoused people than their own safety. Put your liberal values to the test: Move that mentally ill migrant from Memphis into your spare room, shrieking at midnight, crack smoking and after 30 days, they have tenant’s rights and can never be evicted.


      1. No it was not, apparently

        It takes 5000 EUR to buy a housing container, another 5k should cover infra and placement – so to house 6000-8000 homeless you only need a one time payment of 80 Mil.

        Right off the start it’s clear that money is overflowing and in no shortage.

        And everything you write is hard right wing propaganda, not so much because it wouldn’t be true, but because you’re making a problem out of it — yes, the homeless are insane (even if they weren’t before, the experience got them there); yes, they are uncooperative (see previous); yes, they are violent (see previous); no, they don’t trust you (see prev.); no, amateurs cannot “help” them, this is a job only a professional public service can carry out, as are all healthcare/welfare needs.

        Further: no, you cannot make help conditional; no, you cannot expect any return from them; you can only provide the housing solution (a furbished and equipped living container + isolation space) for free and in perpetuity, so they have their own patch away from any disturbance, and then regularly deliver the food and supplies.

        If they don’t ask for interaction, do not provide it.


        And most importantly, stop with the complaints about how horrible they are, helping people isn’t about reforming them, you provide what they need and leave them alone; how hard is this to understand.

    3. Darthbobber

      The “McCarthy era” is instructive, in that most of the repressive measures that wind up getting grouped under that heading were not attributable to McCarthy, had significant support from liberals, and outlasted the fall of McCarthy. (so much so that some remain in existence to date.)

      I’m of the view that the United States never fully recovered from the 50s wave of repression.

      1. Wukchumni

        My dad immigrated to the USA in 1952 and had seen the workings of the Nazis and Soviets close-up, and it wasn’t McCarthy who scared the hell out of him, but Richard Nixon.

        McCarthy was an alcoholic drunk for power, while Tricky Dick was simply drunk on power, who mixed sleeping pills with booze.

  2. MP

    There was a good Adam Johnson piece on the ‘crack pipe’ messaging that’s coming out of the right-wing press now that supervised injection sites have been deemed legal. It seems across the board–the new Cold War, crime, the war on drugs, the war on the poor–are rhetorically replaying their 20th century versions in a society completely hollowed out by the first go-around.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      let’s re-do the 80’s.
      because they were awesome.

      due to pandemic…or at least my response to it, in spite of what all my neighbors are doing….i haven’t been afforded an opportunity for the Feedstore Fieldwork/Discourse.
      and really, that sort of faded away after trump came into office, anyway…due to equal parts adherence and embarrassment.
      so my ability to react to this sort of nonsense is confined to my Eldest’s Gaggle…who have discovered 80’s music, and fallen in love with it.
      a reminder: the 80’s frelling sucked, unless you were already rich.
      if you were, on the other hand, somewhere towards the bottom, economically…or weird in some way…it was a horrible time.
      if Reagan’s grave were a thousand miles closer to me, i’d make the trip just to pee on it.

      1. upstater

        Are you kidding, replay the 80s? The current crop are looking to repeat 1929-33. Climate is the new dustbowl.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s not the best, but she designed better slaughter houses to make the animals less suspicious. Biden could have mailed tests and masks then lifted restrictions. Biden’s White House is just a s show.

      Given AOC’s rhetoric and Sanders oped, my guess is the White House is being run by Neera and Rice. It’s completely fallen apart. They are lurching right to win the “center”.

      Re: the ipsos and Monmouth poll

      The Monmouth poll asked a meaningless question.

      1. marym

        Re: “…my guess is the White House is being run by Neera and Rice”

        They have no public presence, and kind of vague job titles, as far as I can tell. It’s horrifying to think what they must be “advising” behind the scenes.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Rice is the number one voice in the White House against student debt forgiveness. Her son is a pro-Kavanaugh Republican. She’s likely just mean. I suspect like Obama she’s deep down a movement conservative who knows they can’t go far in the GOP. Cruelty is just part of her character.

          Neera is nutty enough she could be out and out sabotaging Biden to make way for Mother, like Carville in 2004.

  3. Swamp Yankee

    Went to college with Rubio’s Chief of Staff — charming, extremely wealthy sociopath…. I think he writes Rubio’s tweets, I remember his style from the College Newspaper (though perhaps it is paint-by-numbers NYPostism).

    I think he is just fine with Rubio, maybe the shirt irks him, but I don’t think he’s all that concerned about it.

    1. Mildred Montana

      Re: Marco Rubio’s bunching shirt

      Well, that’s what happens when you wear a T-shirt under a dress shirt (look closely, it’s there). He’s been in politics a long time. Has he not learned something as simple as that?

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        When I saw the image of Rubio, I instinctively thought “this man has no neck!” ala Rocky Horror. (Hopefully some old school heads get the reference.)

        1. Randy

          I have a thing about ears, when I was a teenager I thought mine were too big and I was self conscious about them .

          Whenever I look at Rubio all I see is ears. Men’s ears enlarge as they get older. He is only 50 and his are HUGE. I hope I live to see his when he is 80. He won’t need a plane ticket to travel between DC and Florida.

          I pay attention to ears and my wife finds it humorous.

      2. Neohnomad

        I wear a white undershirt to avoid sweat leaking through or in case the dress shirt is just a little too see-through…

        Though I have long since invested in and regularly use “shirt-ties,” that clip from the bottom of the shirt to the socks. Keeps everything where it should be

        1. R

          Shirt ties? Now I have heard everything.

          What you need are not suspenders, in the Betty Grable rather than Andy Capp sense, but shirttails. That’s what keeps everything in place. Cheap shirts with no tails ride up and writhe around. Shirttails should hang down below the gluteus maximum. Have your tailor whipped then get a new one.

        1. Wukchumni

          Yes, instead we should be enforcing drinking code with Marco, oh how I would have liked to combine the awkward shirt encounter while he was sneaking drinks from a water bottle.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          yeah, dammit!
          were i in politics like rubio, i’d be doing such vlog posts in my bathrobe.

          (congress…especially the pretentious senate….should meet in a frelling pole barn, complete with hay mixed with dung…so that they are continually reminded of their servanthood.)

      3. ArcadiaMommy

        All men wear undershirts with dress shirts. Otherwise they would sweat through the shirt and the fabric would be abrasive on certain parts of the male anatomy.

  4. Mo.B

    I hate Rubio. BUT. Something rubs me the wrong way about the free crack pipes and no hassle injection sites. This is coming from a party that automatically incinerates children abroad and starves them at home for political gain. And now they want to help us by making it easy for us to commit suicide with drugs. Hmmm.

    Reminds me of the $1000 offer from Andrew Yang, but no job, housing, or health care. We don’t need help like this.

    1. MP

      It’s a controlled setting where doctors supervise you so you can’t die from overdose. It’s an unequivocal good, but maybe bad for electoralist reasons because it helps the exact people that do not vote.

    2. LaRuse

      Harm reduction – that’s the goal here. Users are going to use and speaking as someone who buried a brother after a fentanyl overdose, death is a less frightening outcome for many users than not getting their next hit. Supervised using will save lives and I would imagine provide the lost and scared people who really do want a way out the opportunity to talk to people who really do want to help them.
      This is a good thing and I hate that it is being spun the way it is.

  5. Monaghan

    “The overseers of the preprint server SocArXiv have withdrawn a paper which claims that treating Covid patients with ivermectin dramatically reduces their odds of hospitalization, calling the work ‘misleading’

    It needs other things like minerals and vitamins to work.
    Hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are not necessary nor sufficient on their own—there are plenty of molecules that treat COVID,” says McCullough. “Even if hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin had become so politicized that no one wanted to allow these drugs to be used, we could use other drugs, anti- inflammatories, antihistamines, as well as anti-coagulants and actually stop the illness and again, treat it to reduce hospitalization and death.

    Ivermectin, however needs a renewed patent to make money for its inventors and to be allowed to be used.

    64 Paul E. Alexander, et al., Early multidrug treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19) and reduced mortality among nursing home (or outpatient/ambulatory) residents, V: 153 ISSN: 0306-9877 (Aug. 2021), https:// doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2021.110622.

    1. Eduardo

      The Digital Agency for Public Innovation of the capital government challenged the decision of the scientific platform SocArXiv to withdraw from its website the article Ivermectin and the probabilities of hospitalization due to covid-19: evidence of a quasi-experimental analysis based on a public intervention in Mexico City, which, the authors of the text considered, “is being treated unfairly.”

      In the study, signed by the local Secretary of Health, Oliva López Arellano; the director of the agency, José Peña Merino, and the then director of Medical Benefits of the Mexican Social Security Institute, Víctor Hugo Borja, among others, explain the use of the aforementioned drug in cases of mild covid-19, as part of a public policy of the city government, which resulted in a 68 percent decrease in the possibility that the patient would have to be hospitalized.

      In a letter sent by the agency to the platform’s steering committee, the authors of the article refute each of the arguments put forward to withdraw the article and request a hearing to expose the case.
      ADIP defends article on the administration of ivermectin against covid (spanish) (google translation)

  6. Eureka Springs

    I can’t, my windshield wiper software is on the fritz.

    The stupid, it burns, precious.

    I’m sure problems happened from time to time for some people but I’ve never had a vehicle with wiper problems aside from blade replacement.

    1. jo6pac

      Yes as for defrost just turn the nob to defrost and turn the fan on. If can’t do that yourself you shouldn’t own a car or drive a car;-)

    2. petal

      Reading about the Tesla windshield software bug(not defrosting below 14F) made me appreciate my ’98 Volvo a little bit more.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I bought an ’87 wagon in the 90’s with 100k on the odometer. Sold it years later with a little over 200k for almost the same price I paid for it. I still see it running around town to this very day. Very heavy, solid four cylinder which drove like a sports and luxury car. I could give any corvette a run for its money in these narrow Ozark mountain back roads. With ten ply tires on it ta boot.

      2. Randy

        In the early ’70s I drove ’68 Volvo 144s. Their selling point was safety and longevity. However they rivaled American vehicles for poor reliability and the parts were VERY expensive and sometimes hard to get. I had 3 of them, a daily driver and 2 for parts.

        The 2 door model had rear windows that didn’t roll down. The rear of the window flipped out on a latch that was glued to the window. One time I turned a corner and the glue let loose. My rear quarter window landed in the street. I watched with dismay as two cars ran it over. That window cost $200 in 1972, about $1300 in today’s dollars and took 3 weeks to get here from Sweden. The new one had a hole drilled in the glass and the latch was fastened to the window with a bolt.

        The front windows were constantly coming off their tracks. It is a PITA working on window mechanisms inside a door. The repairs never lasted long. It was fun in summer sitting at a red light on a 90* day with non-working front windows and rear windows that didn’t roll down by design.

        I remember Volvo ads at the time bragging about Volvos with 500,000 miles still on the road. They didn’t mention the fact that over that time you could buy 5 American cars brand new for the same cost as maintaining that old Volvo. Thank God Honda showed up in the mid ’70s with Civics and Accords.

        Because of my experiences with Volvo, Ford and Chrysler in the ’70s I will never, ever buy those brands.

  7. jr

    re: “The You in UFO!

    Obama says he has seen the footage:


    Congress may be seeing the light:


    and this article has a wonderful clickbait headline:


    I am really inclined to think we are not alone. By the way, the “Everyone has camera’s!” doesn’t hold much water. There is footage, for one thing. And we have been told there is more. But most cameras aren’t designed to capture something that zig-zag’s across the entire visible sky in a matter of two seconds or so.

  8. Lost in OR

    Tunes of the forest

    Check out the power and comm lines strung on the poles. Somewhere in my archives I have a photo taken in Chaing Mai of a rats nest of power lines entering a restaurant through a hole in the wall. It was truly amazing.

  9. Jason Boxman

    In “Column: These pundits and pols say they’re ‘done with COVID.’ But COVID’s not done with us”, it actually surprisingly doesn’t mention that US states cannot close their own borders, so misbehavior by an adjacent state can bring contagion to a state with sound public health policies. I don’t know that US states can shutdown international travel, either?

    So state by state comparisons are further frustrated by the above as well.

    Although it looks like liberal Democrat states are now misbehaving as well, so there’s that.

  10. antidlc


    Dolly Parton’s Dollywood is now offering free education for all employees

    Dolly Parton is proving once again why she’s one of the most beloved celebrities in the industry.

    Following news that the country star has been nomination for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022, she’s doing something amazing for the working class people who help her legacy live on.

    The “9 to 5” singer’s Knoxville, Tennessee theme park, Dollywood, has just announced they they are covering the cost of education for all of its employees this year.

    1. jo6pac

      Dolly Parton is truly nice person and just embarrassed the Amerikan potus and all other elected officials. That is if they can be embarrassed at all. Thanks to Dolly.

    2. anon y'mouse

      if they ever (heaven forfend) remake the Wizard of Oz, Dolly has the right to play the good witch, Glenda.

    3. Verifyfirst

      Dolly Parton may be a nice person, I have no idea. But this education bit is bog-standard corporate white washing. Walmart or McDonalds or one of those recently announced the same thing, knowing full well very few of their employees will ever be able to muster the time, energy, transportation, child care, etc. to take classes, when they are busy trying to survive on starvation wages. Look at the formulation: “…will have access to diploma, degree and certificate programs across 30 learning partners.” Access to, eh? On computers provided by the company, on paid work time? No, probably not………

      Here is the outfit Ms. Parton’s company (Herschend Enterprises) contracted to deliver these benefits:

      Guild’s industry-leading technology platform allows the nation’s largest employers — including Bon Secours Mercy Health, Chipotle, Discover, Hilton, Macy’s, Target, Walmart and The Walt Disney Company — to offer strategic education and upskilling to their employees.


  11. madarka

    Things are humming along here in the Dominican Republic. Tourism has fully recovered, the economy seems to be pretty much back on track judging by the amount of traffic, and the unemployment rate is pretty much back to 2019 levels; inflation is really hurting the poor, though, especially gas and food prices. Covid cases are steadily coming down from their post christmas peak and, even considering the poor quality of available data, the case fatality rate has decreased. Even though vaccine uptake has stalled at 65%, there doesn’t seem to be such a high burden of disease this time around: hospitalizations remain low. Covid is no longer anyone’s concern… I got into a taxi this morning and the driver even refused to wear a mask, something I hadn’t experienced here since the pandemic began

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” A vote for Biden is a vote for dying of covid.”

    The problem is that the only candidates the establishment will permit to win nominations all support dying of covid. Certain mainstream candidates also support people dying of other things besides . . . . but all the mainstream candidates support people dying of covid.

    Certain vanity wannabe third/fourth/fifth parties will run people who oppose dying of covid. And a vote for one of those people would be a vote against dying of covid.

    But if one of the mainstream biparty depublicrats is going to win, and they both support making us die of covid, and one of them supports us dying of other things too whereas the other one doesn’t, do we vote for the one who doesn’t, in the hopes that the other forms of death will not also be inflicted on us? And try our best to help some of eachother and ourselves avoid being among the ones to die of covid in the meantime?

  13. Larry Carlson

    “We’ve been fighting this blaze for too long, and it’s time to move on. I’m fine with my apartment being on fire, and if you don’t want it in your unit then you should buy an extinguisher and a smoke alarm. It’s a matter on individual choice and personal responsibility.”

    Without delving into metaphors as enthusiastically as Tom Friedman does, I wonder if a more apt comparison is that I’ve watched the CDC use a variety of strategies to fight the fire at my neighbor’s apartment for two years without much success, and at this point I’d prefer to sit outside my own apartment with a hose and hope for the best.

  14. drumlin woodchuckles

    In ” The blue stack strikes back” . . . . if the word “stack” implies too much statickness and not enough mobility and shape-shifting ability to adopt new voices and adapt to new threats . . . . how about the word “Borg”?

    As in . . . “The Blue Borg strikes back” . . . ?

  15. marym

    Re: crack pipes

    fwiw (consider the sources)

    hhs: no pipes https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/02/09/statement-hhs-secretary-xavier-becerra-and-ondcp-director-rahul-gupta.html

    snopes via salon: As one of the 20 “harm reduction activities” in Biden’s plan, HHS would provide “safe smoking kits,” which might include rubber mouthpieces for glass pipes to prevent injuries, as the fact-check site Snopes has noted. It’s this relatively minor provision within a much larger program that provoked conservatives into spinning Biden’s entire plan as a massive crack-pipe giveaway. To be even clearer, no actual crack pipes will be given away, and the rubber mouthpieces are one small piece of a plan intended to save lives and reduce the public-health consequences of drug addiction. https://www.salon.com/2022/02/09/right-goes-wild-with-claims-biden-handing-out-crack-pipes-to-end-racism-hes-not/

    Housing, mental health and rehab services, and healthcare would be nice too…

  16. dcblogger

    In the last analysis, however, the future of the radical right movements will not exclusively depend on their own internal evolution, ideological orientation and strategic choices; nor will it depend on the support they could get from the global elites; in the end, it will depend on the capacity of the left to sketch an alternative.” • So how is the left doing on that?

    there was no left worthy of the name until Occupy. the Bernie Sanders campaign revived it, but it is still very weak. Other than mutual aid groups, strikes and the wave of union organizing, and the water protectors, I do not see anyone building parallel structures, which is what we are going to need.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “…it is still very weak…”

      and forever conflated with all the woke torquemada nonsense.
      and with righty creatures like obama and biden and pelosi(“were capitalists!!!”)

      won’t be an actual Left in this country until the internet fails, electromagnetism, itself, fails, and we’re back to “Mass Media” being as far as yer shout can reach.
      the ground is far too poisoned.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I’ve thought for a long time that what we calls ‘news’ can be regarded as the nervous system of the body politic enabling it to respond to both stimuli and changes. After decades of hard work, that system has been now short-circuited for reasons of control & expediency and now we are seeing the results of this experiment. They aren’t pretty.

      2. Noone from Nowheresville

        You won’t have a left until “they” (whoever they are) have as a solid foundational starting point: understanding of supply chains, actual production, local / regional power grid / energy transmission, waste management, food (growing, harvesting, distribution), and well money / wealth. Plus people (housing, healthcare, etc.) More generalists please with a light dusting of specialists.

        The woke stuff appears to have in-group signalling and out-group control repeater functionalities built into its system. It certainly has the ability to make a lot of noise and keep eyes peeled. So I guess that bit is working for whoever is funding wokeness as it is currently being deployed.

        Most of us are so far removed from the basic foundational elements of life. But how can one build a solid left without understanding those basics? I don’t think you can. Especially not with the next phases of The Jackpot.

        And Mass Media will do everything in their power to ensure that eyes are peeled elsewhere. Basics are boring dontcha know.

  17. Katiebird

    Thanks for the Santa Fe Junction WebCam…. I used to drive past there sometimes on the way home from work. I like the part of the yard a few miles to the west though. A HUGE place where they “built” the trains. Very dramatic.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        If you are ever passing through North Platte, Nebraska, you should stop in at the Bailey Yard and climb the tower for a stunning view (or look at the satellite view on Google maps).

    1. Karrinina

      I live not far from SF Junction and found this recent (last Thursday I think) derailment video quite fascinating. The RR Bridge makes one car seem like a tin can.

      There was another SF Junction derailment last summer, also available on VRF’s YouTube channel. It involved an engine on the elevated track, and the cleanup process is fascinating!

      1. katiebird

        Wow — I missed seeing that. I don’t think it made the news. (Or I just missed seeing it) VERY interesting to see those cars start a little wobble that got worse and worse.

  18. David

    “In the 1930s, the European industrial, financial, and military elites supported fascism as a solution to endemic political crises, institutional paralysis, and, above all, as a defense against Bolshevism.”

    This is misleading, unless “fascist” is stretched here, as often, to mean “non-democratic right.” The kind of government that business, political and military elites wanted in the 1930s was one with them in charge and their opponents in prison. The model was Franco’s Spain or Pétain’s France, where these elites, who knew each other and were often related by marriage, ruled in close cooperation with the Church and the Army. In extreme cases, most notably in Germany after 1933, elites were prepared to accept a fascist party in power as the least unattractive of the options. But even then, the Nazis had only two seats in the Cabinet and were not expected to last very long in power. But in many other countries it was traditional, authoritarian regimes that came to power: there was a genuinely fascist movement in France, for example, but it was not supported by French elites, and was marginalised after 1940.

    Part of the trouble, I suspect, is that the type of elite, reactionary authoritarian regime so common in Europe from the 30s to the 70s (aristocracy, old families, Church, Finance, Military) has never existed in the US, so it’s hard to avoid conflating such regimes with “fascism”: a word which has largely lost whatever meaning it had.

    1. meadows

      re David:

      “…“fascism”: a word which has largely lost whatever meaning it had.”

      Yes, confusing for us gringos. I think “oligarchy” is best. Meaning billionaires control the money, the feds, the congresscritters and the MSM.

      What we have in USA is “fascism lite”… if the MSM is in bed with the govt narrative and if alternative voices are repressed in a subtle not blunt fashion (no giant book burnings, just continuous opprobriums) then the same result can be obtained.

      1. Carolinian

        Thank you. But it sounds scary and was also freely thrown around back in the 60s. I think our founders were fine with oligarchy but didn’t want a king starting wars for arbitrary reasons–as so often happens. But that was then. It’s the military angle that turns oligarchy into something like fascism. Hitler and his henchmen were all shaped by WW1. What’s telling about today’s self described anti-fascists is that they don’t seem too worried about starting arbitrary wars any more than they are worried, per above, about free speech. They don’t have much of a concept of what fascism really was.

    2. Darthbobber

      Of course, one of the Nazi’s “just 2” seats in the cabinet was the ministry of the Interior, which gave them control of the police. And they had indeed been drawing large contributions from wealthy industrialists for some time. You leave out Italy, for some reason, where the wealthy landowners backed the squadristi, the captains of industry appreciated the fascists as strikebreakers, and the leading “liberal” politicians played footsie with them.

    3. No it was not, apparently

      “This is misleading, unless “fascist” is stretched here, as often, to mean “non-democratic right.””

      Well yes, but there is no stretching then, as “non-democratic right” is exactly what the word means, it is only in its terminal (or external) stage that you see uniformed thugs, by then it is too late and war crimes and genocides are bound to happen.

      Salvini, Haider, Le Pen, Orban, the remaining Kacynsky brother, Plenkovič and many others are fascists in early stage of development – they are a cocoon from which the final monstrous creature will hatch eventually.

      And liberals like Macron and Merkel are (and were for the past 40 years) their enablers.

      1. Yves Smith

        Huh? Marine Le Pen kicked her anti-Semitic, proto-fascist father out of the party he created and has made a real effort to distance herself from its anti-Semitism. She’s moved away from the party’s most extreme positions.

        As for Salvini, he’s anti-immigrant (more anti-illegal immigrant; Lega Nord has blacks as members) and a demagogue. But he’s not pro-military, a union-basher, or out to crush other parties or disenfranchise voters.

  19. SteveD

    The “Blue Stack” formulation is reminiscent of Eric Weinstein’s Distributed Idea Suppression Complex (DISC). Both are trying to explain and model similar ideas.

    1. flora

      If it were a digital corp only, say like Apple or MS for instance, I’d call it “walled garden” and “stove piping” the product. I think Jilani’s idea come across fine with his selected image. I agree with him.

  20. allan

    Re: Possibly the best paper ever written.

    I would have recommended that the paper be rejected.

    The author claims N=1, but the results are indistinguishable from N=0. Also too no p value.

    1. griffen

      I found the linked tweet pretty humorous. As a lifelong fan of college sports, and in particular a devotion to the UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball program, there is a North Carolina specific corollary to that best paper ever.

      It’s called All The Things I Like About Duke. The booklet is completely blank. Insert your own rivalry favorite / rivalry villain and enjoy.

    2. witters

      Now you got a paper yourself: The author claims N=1, but the results are indistinguishable from N=0. Also too no p value.

  21. Wukchumni

    The number of Republicans who say Trump bears no responsibility at all for the attack grew from 46 percent to 57 percent over the last year, while the share of Democrats who see Trump as having “a lot” of responsibility for the attack dropped from 81 percent to 70 percent.”

    Finally, something both the Pachyderms and the Donkey Show can agree on, a 11 point drop in condemnation!

  22. Wukchumni

    “Video games are incredibly real and immersive now, and highly addictive, on large 4K screens with fantastic sound. There is a new one each week. The social network around them is incredible, a lot of people just like me.” Still waiting for some sort of politics to emerge from, or be carried on within, this environment.

    The last video game I played required a Quarter, it’s been awhile since I saved the world vis a vis Missile Command.

    Have video games and porn ever been combined as one format?

    1. Greg

      Yes and it’s a thriving subset of the gaming industry – browse https://store.steampowered.com/tags/en/Nudity/ for an idea of the scope of it

      There was really crappy strip poker games around from the time of the earliest computer games

      *note, like porn in other formats, most of these games have no or absolutely terrible plots and because they’re games they also have no or terrible UIs and game elements

    2. Ranger Rick

      It’s funny that you mention politics in video games. Coupled with the “blue stack” mentioned above, I’m reminded of the infamous Gamergate, and the utterly dumbfounded audience that one day loaded up their favorite game review websites to hear, in exhausting detail, how “gamers are dead”.

      The ghost of that event (and the social media attacks which precipitated it) haunts the gaming community’s psyche to this day.

  23. geoff

    Lambert: “Tell me more about those focus groups, mentioned only once. Which Democratic strategist ran them?”

    Per Politico (“GOP messaging guru Luntz advised Biden’s Covid task force” 7/14/21(!!!)) it was FRANK LUNTZ. NOT a Dem strategist at all! Or is he?

  24. Tom Stone

    The liberals I know aren’t in favor of censorship as such.
    To a person (She/He/Other) they fully support those parts of the Bill of Liberties that don’t encourage rude or disruptive behavior.
    It’s the CIVIL liberties union, for gosh’ sake.

    1. Darthbobber

      Yes, I also firmly support freedom of speech for those who don’t offend or annoy me too greatly.

      So does everybody else. If that were what freedom of speech meant it would hardly require protection.

      An aside: Neolibs who oppose most market regulation often make an exception for JS Mill’s free marketplace of ideas.

  25. Samuel Conner

    Is it valid to worry that “Done with COVID” will mean, for many people, “don’t worry what your symptoms might be, and don’t bother with isolating until you get a test result” ?

    We could crash the healthcare system yet. It would appear to me that “Done with COVID” would also mean no more ‘flatten the curve”.

    1. Juneau

      Tests? Curves? What tests and curves? No tests, no data, no data, no curves! Problem solved. /s

      Seriously, I am prepared to see a lot of tired and sick people being gaslighted into saying that everything is fine while they deteriorate. I have seen people with long haul who refused to believe they had Covid even when they had symptoms and confirmatory testing. The pols, as well as a minority of vocal, healthy folks taking pride in their good luck, promote this kind of thinking. Getting Covid means you are inferior, that is the message. And it’s not just the red voters thinking that way, in my experience, here in NY.

    2. Frithiof Andreas Jensen

      Based on previous form, this is The Plan: The acute/dramatic symptoms seems to become fewer and milder, politicians can then “communicate” the chronic symptoms as “individual responsibility” and “a lifestyle choice”. Which means that people who get messed up by corona are: Fat, dumb, lazy, drink, smoke, eat the wrong food, genetically impure, muslim or whatever mould will fit.

      I.O.W. We are screwed.

  26. Sailor Bud

    Fascism, & “so how is the left doing on that?”

    Terribly? The entire alternative left media, with few exceptions, is now a grief industry. It is exactly like Nicholson’s line in As Good as it Gets: “I’m drowning here, and you’re describing the water!”

    In the end, it is this:

    “Send money to my Patreon, Substack, podcast, whatever, so I can tell you how badly your world is becoming, and never suggest targeted boycotts, specific organizing, or anything else that will ever help to change anything. Instead, have the latest article about Bari Weiss and the obnoxious thing she just said.”

    Pathetic. Sirota, whose movie is now getting Oscar nommed, is offering an $80k job for a new reporter, requiring 5 to 6 years experience, which is hilarious. His own movie has a line about credentialism in the form of “we need some Ivy Leaguers,” while he throws exactly the same kind of arbitrary barrier up as an employer. Would he consider the neophyte with talent? Nope. Go figure. “Sorry Mr. Mozart, you can’t teach music at our school. You didn’t get the required credentials and don’t have the 4.3333 years’ experience. We’re going to hire this schmuck over here instead.”

    Whomever he does hire, expect more of the same from his new rag. It’s a nice time for business, after all.

    1. Darthbobber

      One problem with the American “left” has been the purely individualist, freelance nature of its public personalities. Difficult to imagine most of them being willing to submit to even a minimal level of organizational discipline. Most of them would find even DSA’s level of organization unduly onerous, to say nothing of being more fully bound by collective decisions.

      1. Sailor Bud

        They do a brilliant job of humorous and lively critique, which is badly needed, but attaining stardom and riches does give them a unique position to unify others along very specific topics and public actions, with calls for action on specific future dates, like – say – June 18, 2022. My cynicism about their profiteering is limited, as bad as my post may have sounded, but damn.

        There is, um, just about none of this specific organizing, while the whole purpose of leftism is solidarity and insurgent occupation of political space through democratic action. Atomized like crazy, we are, and afraid of infiltration if we do coalesce, and then there’s fear of being fired, fear of Judean Peoples’ Front stuff, passive defeat. I’m not even specifically leftist anymore, but I’d join em for their humanity because I hate war, trash, hoarding of Earth, slavery, aesthetic ugliness, and the horrible torture and destruction of word meanings that I’m seeing.

        There must be more like me, the pimple is ripe for popping, and yet….nothing. Just “give me money and press the like button, and subscribe to my channel, and you can hear more riveting discussions about Kirsten Sinema.” It’s disturbing.

  27. enoughisenough

    “Blake before there was Blake?”

    Blake was about 40 years old when the piece above was made, though.

  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘SPOT THE FIND… Can you spot the Roman tessera before I do? These tiny stone cubes were used to make mosaics and they can sometimes be found on one particular part of the Thames foreshore where other Roman finds often wash up.’

    Mudlarking seems to be a fascinating hobby for some people and you have to train yourself what to look for. People can find stuff from the Roman era, Victorian times, the Middle Ages and the Thames is a rich area to do this as the city has been in continuous occupation for over two thousand years. Lots of interesting videos to watch on this subject by going to YouTube and punching in the word ‘mudlarking’

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      one can do similar in any granite gravel creekbed, hereabouts.
      according to my arrowhead book, i’ve found a clovis, and a smaller spearpoint that is a mere 10,ooo years old.
      former, while stepping out of the canoe in the Llano River…and there it was, in a pool on the riverside.
      latter, on the “mountain” out back…just laying there among the chert nodules scattered about.
      also found numerous hand axes/scrapers…work better than anything for scraping hides.
      eldest caught the archaeology bug from using those ancient tools for their intended purpose.

      1. Sailor Bud

        Ya, exactly. I found a bone flute fragment in Core, WVa, once, just exactly the way you found your clovis. Never had it dated, though, and made the mistake of telling people about it, because it was stolen off my mantle piece at a party in the 1990s.

      2. Wukchumni

        Probably accounting for lack of proximity to obsidian, you seldom come across arrowheads on the southern western slopes of the Sierra, while on the east side, there’s Obsidian Dome, which would have been the Fort Knox of sharp rocks.


        5 years ago we were camped at a favorite hot springs just south of the Mammoth Airport behind the green church and down the road you go to one of about a dozen to choose from, and we had time to kill… premeditated.

        There was this cliffy bluff about a mile away that was calling our names, so off we went and after climbing a nice hill we were on kind of a terrace below the cliffs when I came across an obsidian arrowhead that was probably not a keeper as a user, and I picked it up and showed it to my 4 companions and everybody told me how lucky I was, blah blah, and we keep walking and there’s an easy way up and before you know it we’re on top of this flat bluff that is about 150 feet wide and 200 feet long, and scattered all over are imperfect arrowheads and assorted associated chaff from knapping, we had blundered onto a ginsu knife factory.

        We’d decided to each take one or two, and proceeded to turn into the pickiest bastards, as there were so many to choose from, and again, all seconds. Location-wise it’s only 20-25 miles from Obsidian Dome, so they could waste obsidian in a way that would have shocked the Wukchumni.

        As we were scouting about, across the way a deer swept past us, and it was the perfect set up in days of old, there at the proto MIC

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i suspect that this part of the Llano Uplift was a similar source for chert and flint…the nodules scattered around the hilltops were extruded into the bottom layer of the limestone during the uplift event…and this part of the Hill Country eroded more than others…hence all the granite batholiths/plutons…like Enchanted Rock.
          Katempcy Rocks is a couple of miles east of me…huge…much bigger than the more famous ER.
          and there’s a smaller one that i can see from my porch.
          these are remnants of what’s underneath all the hills in the Texas Hillcountry.
          but all that chert surely would have been a draw…roving bands put this place on their mental maps, and came around every so many years to replenish the tool box.

          and related…the Llano River is named thus because of a coffee stain in the journal of the Spanish explorer who first wandered through. the name of the Indians living here then was the Sana…but the stain obscured this word…and the Anglos who used his journal much later were bad at Spanish, and put it down as Llano…which they were familiar with.
          it means “Plain”…which this place is not.
          the Sana People, themselves, were later absorbed into the Kiowa and Lipan and Karankaway tribes, due to pressure from the Comanche.
          nothing much remains of them,including their name….. due to a stain in a 450 year old journal,

          1. Pate

            It is interesting the displacement you allude to. Just finished several books about natives of Texas. Kirkland LaVere foster Newcomb. Constant displacement. Kiowa originally from northern plains. Apache and Comanche filtered in from west of the estacado. Humans compete for resources.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Double ‘c’ pronounced ‘ks’, lazily spelled ‘x’, then doubled to ‘xx’ to match the original double letter.

  29. Michael Ismoe

    but the Pentagon would never endorse a putsch of white supremacists to impede Joe Biden’s election to the executive.

    I wonder if the Pentagon would have interceded if it was President-Elect Sanders?

    1. anon y'mouse

      the Pentagon doesn’t have to do it if the other three letter “security” agencies are already heavily involved.

      plausible deniability, indeed.

    2. Paradan

      Every few years or so the US military does a joint exercise in which they train to suppress a socialist uprising. I saw a power points doc. about it. I’m gonna be lazy and not search for it though, so..no link, can’t back this claim up.

  30. JBird4049

    It’s surprising how many medical experts seem to have no idea that the majority of people can’t simply “choose” their preferred level of covid exposure, that their lives are embedded in multitudes of relationships over which they have highly variable levels of choice or control.

    — wsbgnl (@wsbgnl) February 9, 2022

    Slight quibble about having no idea: from my experience, it was the college educated, usually, but not always white, upper middle caste occupant, adjacent, or aspirant, ostensibly liberal-leftist (and weirdly mostly female) who do not feel that those of the lower classes or caste are strictly speaking as human as they are. It is as if they had ascended into a higher realm with their degree and exalted position and felt the need to treat the semi-humans worse than one would a dog.

    In fairness, those who had come from the poorer classes or whose families were, tended to be less arrogant. It is those who have never been stomped by life that are often the most condescending with the greatest armoring of their perceptions from anything that might challenge their self proclaimed specialness.

    Maybe that is part of our problem. Most people who experience the first half of the 20th century had this tendency of thinking that all their success was only because of their efforts. People are still people, but the survivors of wars, or the Great Depression, or any of the still common epidemics still felt more about the community than the current generations. Nothing conscious but threaded through. Like me remembering the Cold War and my older relatives remembering it start, makes me incapable of thinking anything but Here abides monster. Do not go there! when the ruling class attempts to create two potentially hot wars with nuclear armed countries. Much like with the responses to the pandemic, it is almost impossible for me to even perceive what I am actually seeing them do.

    It is all there to see and yet, I have to shove aside my past experiences as well as what I was taught by the several generations before me. The several generations that would never do what is being done now. It is just so antithetical.

    So, when people start to follow lemming like over the cliff after our “leaders,” I am inclined to give them some understanding even if they are dragging me along with them.

  31. thoughtful person

    ‘Full blown’ pandemic phase of Covid nearly over in US, declares Anthony Fauci”
    Fauci is dreaming! There’s already a new variant after Omicron headed our way, currently called BA2 – described as a cousin of Omicron (Guess the WHO is running low on Greek letters). This is now the dominant variant in Denmark where cases and deaths continue to rise. It is now 3.6% in US, likely will be dominant over Omicron by early March. It is more contagious even than Omicron, as much as 1.5X.

    The plus for us is the “flu” season (aka ‘airborne disease season’) is ending and Spring is coming with milder temps and more outdoor activity. Except could be a big spike in FL and TX this summer.

    By which time no doubt another new variant will be here and future ones may be more deadly not only more infectious.

    The virus is a long way from done with us! Good one Anthony!

    1. JBird4049

      Dreaming or bull$#|£ing?

      I am fairly sure that he knows that what he says are lies, but it is gone to feeding and care of we mushrooms.

      “…People of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”*

      It’s all narrative control from now so we all die quietly and profitable at our jobs or at home while keeping the ERs open, all while getting us to mock those deemed the MAGA or the BernieBros, or owning the Libs like the profitable marks we are.

      *The quote seems to describe the contempt, which is why it popped into my head. Would Mel Brooks be allowed to create Blazing Saddles today or would a fatwa be pronounced by the relevant Holy One? Nikole Hannah-Jones? Or All in the Family?

      It seems to me that the less we are allowed to laugh, the more we are control by others. Not to mention the less joy that there is in the world. (I am not sure how my mind jumped from Fauci’s propaganda to the Woke’s modern censorship via Mel Brooks, but there’s a connection.)

  32. Dave in Austin

    That famous Greek linguist Euphemisticlis at work:

    EASE MOVE “Still, the easing of New York’s pandemic restrictions on businesses comes as Democratic-led states from New Jersey to California have announced similar moves this week, in a loosely coordinated effort that is the result of months of public-health planning, back-channel discussions and political focus groups that began in the weeks after the November election.”

    RELAX as in “relaxing restrictions”

    Has a Red State leader ever “eased” or “moved”? No, they unilaterally revoke protections.

    And “relax” is so relaxing, not like “eliminating” or “revoking”. Next I expect then to start “reimaging our response to the outbreak through an open dialog. Join the conversation…”.

    Transparent nonsense. We need the equivilant of the Peterson Bird Guides and a nice taxonomy of how this language falsification is done in our “legitimate” press. I rememer back in the USSR when being elevated from a “Lacky of American imerialism” to a “Running dog of American imperialism” was a death sentence. Back to the future.

  33. a fax machine

    re: videogames and “Still waiting for some sort of politics to emerge from, or be carried on within, this environoment.”

    That politics was the #gamergate scandal (videogames journalism corruption exposed, then devolved into a harassment campaign) whose members were integral, if inadvertently, part of Trump’s Republican candidacy campaign (general campaign had new people). We’re at least a decade into videogames affecting real life. Future videogame politics is likely to be many right-wing reactionary movements based on mass bans regularly doled out to trolls who enjoy filling videogame chats with obscene language. Arguably we are already there with the “gamers” focused entirely exclusively on hating trans people, women, and occasionally Jews. The mass consolidation of videogaming and videogames devolving from a product to a subscription service was probably responsible for this.

    Note: I’m actually sympathetic towards these people because the videogame industry has wronged it’s customers. But because the customers are addicts they’d rather engage in the worst sort of politics rather than improve themselves by not playing modern videogames. The most level-headed gamers I’ve met over the past five years were all retro gamers for this reason, it is very hard to justify videogames made after 2008.

Comments are closed.