2:00PM Water Cooler 3/11/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

* * *


“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

Trucker Convoys

“Activism, Uncensored: The People’s Convoy” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “In a terrific piece of coast-to-coast video journalism, culminating in a story that’s still live — the “Freedom Convoy,” an American version of Canadian trucker protests, is still engaged in daily circling of the Beltway — TK partners News2Share chronicles the convoy’s journey from Adelanto, California to Washington, D.C. Ford Fischer and his crew also shoot a counterprotest in Washington, as well as a meeting held between the truckers and three oft-maligned Republican members of congress: Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Thomas Massie. This extended video captures enough of the atmosphere around the protests to make it accessible, without covering up any warts…. A delegation went to Washington to meet with the three Twitter-infamous members of congress. In that meeting, a trucker veered from mandates to talk about prices. ‘In 2012, I went through this with Obama. When fuel prices hit $5 a gallon, I had a truck that was paid for, I was profitable,’ he said (reportedly the national average never made it to $5 a gallon then, though it did hit that number in spots). He went on: ‘Then, I lost everything. I had to sell my truck, even though it was paid for, go to the oil fields of North Dakota, and get a job as a company driver, and it’s taken me ten years to work my way back up.’ Referring to current skyrocketing gas prices, and offering a preview of potential future disputes, he added: ‘We are right now on the precipice of losing our collective asses… You cannot run a truck on six dollars a gallon.’ Overall, News2Share does a great job giving a nuanced portrayal of all sides of the current culture war, showing a complex dispute from multiple angles.”

Biden Adminstration

“More Sanctions on Russia, Means More Economic Instability and Headwinds for Democrats” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “‘The notion that [Republicans] want to now come here and lecture us,’ Jeffries said earlier on Tuesday, ‘when Vladimir Putin is the one responsible if gas prices increase significantly here in America — Vladimir Putin — and they shouldn’t provide any aid and comfort to him.’ Of course, there’s a limit to how much blame the Russian president can get for our current pain at the pump. While there has been a drastic short-term spike in gas prices over the last week, overall gas prices had been rising long before the invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, voters have been giving low marks to Biden’s handling of the economy for the last few months, suggesting that this pivot to Putin will meet voter skepticism. Even so, recent polling suggests that Americans are more willing to accept economic pain to punish Putin. A Wall Street Journal poll, published Tuesday, found 79 percent of Americans favored a ban on Russian oil imports, even if the prohibition increased energy prices. A Quinnipiac poll released last week found similar support (71 percent), even with the knowledge that gas prices could go up. A late February CNN poll found that just 34 percent of Americans thought that the impact on gas prices should be a ‘major concern’ for U.S. policymakers as they considered next steps on Russia. It’s understandable that as Americans watch the horror inflicted upon innocent Ukrainians, they want to deny any support — monetary or otherwise — to Putin. But, there’s sure to be a limit to this altruism, especially with such uncertainty about the final outcome. Will Americans feel as positive (and generous) if Russia succeeds in overthrowing the Zelenskyy government? Or, if this war drags on for weeks on end.”

“The 17 lawmakers who voted against the Russian oil ban” [The Hill]. • Two Democrats: Ilhan Omar and Cori Bush. So know we know who has stones and who doesn’t.

“Ukraine Museums Desperately Working To Preserve Priceless Hunter Biden Paintings” [Babylon Bee]. “According to sources, most of the paintings were initially purchased for the Burisma boardroom with the tacit understanding that then-Vice President Joe Biden would look out for Ukraine.”

* * *

“Covid aid faces uncertain path on Capitol Hill as White House warns of severe consequences” [Poliitico]. “‘My biggest concern at this point is that we have to get something supported by 10 Republicans in the Senate,’ Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) told reporters on a call Thursday morning. ‘The White House is out of money at this point to fight the global vaccination war, and they’re running on fumes to fight the domestic Covid war. How could we possibly leave ourselves in this position?'” • Covid is so over. We don’t need to spend any money on it. Read the room!

“IRS plans to hire 10,000 workers to relieve massive backlog” [ABC]. ” The IRS said Thursday it plans to hire 10,000 new workers to help reduce a massive backlog that the government says will make this tax season the most challenging in history. The agency released a plan to work down the tens of millions of filings that includes speeding up the traditionally slow hiring process, relying more on automated processes and bringing on more contract workers to help with mailroom and paper processing. Getting it done will be the big challenge, tax experts say. The agency faces a backlog of around 20 million pieces of correspondence, which is more than 15 times as large as in a normal filing season, according to the agency. And the IRS workforce is the same size it was in 1970, though the U.S. population has grown exponentially and the U.S. tax code has become increasingly complicated. Additionally, the need to administer pandemic-related programs has imposed an entirely new workload on the agency.”

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.

* * *


“Bracing for Losses, Democrats Look to Biden for a Reset” [New York Times]. “Gone is the talk of a transformative agenda to remake the country’s social safety net that was once going to be the centerpiece of Democrats’ sales pitch to voters. The words “Build Back Better” were all but forbidden among the groggy lawmakers who arrived after only a few hours of sleep. Speaking to reporters, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, joked that the slogan for Mr. Biden’s defunct social policy and climate bill had become like the evil Voldemort in ‘Harry Potter’ — that which must not be named. Instead, after a year of supporting his agenda, House Democrats have pivoted to beseeching Mr. Biden to act on his own through executive actions to address the outstanding issues they care about before they face voters in November. Ms. Jayapal said the president could pass executive actions to cap the price of insulin, raise the overtime eligibility threshold in order to increase wages for tens of millions of people, and fix the so-called family glitch in the Affordable Care Act. This is when workers with modest incomes can’t afford their employers’ family policies, yet fail to qualify for government subsidies to buy their own insurance.”

“Biden, Democrats Lose Ground on Key Issues, WSJ Poll Finds” [Wall Street Journal]. Wall Street Journal poll. “The survey also found Republicans making gains among minority groups. By 9 percentage points, Hispanic voters in the new poll said they would back a Republican candidate for Congress over a Democrat. The two parties had been tied among Hispanic voters in the Journal’s survey in November. Democratic margins also eroded among Black voters, who favored a Democrat for Congress by 35 percentage points in the new survey, down from 56 points in November. Support for a Republican candidate rose to 27% among Black voters, up from 12% in November.”


“Tulsi Gabbard crosses party lines and goes after the ‘power elite’ in CPAC speech where she earns standing ovation for praising the Durham probe into ‘Clinton corruption’ and blasting FISA courts” [Daily Mail]. “She then asked Ronald Reagan dinner attendees to join her in ‘an alternative universe.’ ‘One where our leaders actually took their oath of office to the Constitution seriously,’ she said. ‘If we were living in this world, they would shut down secret FISA courts and stop three letter agencies like the NSA, FBI and CIA from illegally spying on Americans.’ ‘They would denounce the Attorney General of the United States for his disgraceful attacks on American parents like those Loudoun County and across the country,’ she continued. In Loudoun County, Virginia parents were demonstrating against mask-wearing and the teaching of critical race theory. She then name-dropped Clapper and the Durham probe. Special Counsel John Durham is investigating the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe. Connected to that is the use of FISA warrants, which former President Donald Trump and his allies have criticized as one was used to monitor Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser for the ex-president’s 2016 campaign.” • I don’t know who Gabbard would want second on her ticket, though.

Realignment and Legitimacy

We have the most frivolous, delusional, and self-centered professional managerial class in the world. She is talking about her son.

A New York Times reporter, of course. It is true that Mandavilli is on the Covid beat. Here’s another Times reporter:

If I were being briefed by a public health official, or in the unlikely event I was interviewing a doctor, you can bet I would listen respectfully. After all, they might know something I don’t! These reporters, at the pinnacle of their trade (the Times) seem to believe that they are also at the pinnacle of all professions, simply because they write about them. It’s bizarre.

Making your spouse into a straw:


Case count by United States regions:

Fellow tapewatchers will note that “up like a rocket, down like a stick” phase is done with, and the case count is now leveling down. At a level that, a year ago, was considered a crisis, but we’re “over” Covid now, so I suppose not. I have added a Fauci Line.

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.

The official narrative was “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) was completely exploded. What a surprise! This time, it may be different. But who knows?

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Flattened out, continues encouraging (and independent from the CDC).

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.

Wastewater in California:

For grins, national –but not necessarily representative — wastewater data from Biobot:

Would I like a lot more breakdowns on that data, both geographically and by time. And while the wastewater data is current, a month time-lag on variants? Really?

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

Those notes in red at the bottom make me wonder about what else is wrong. (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.) And what’s with Idaho?

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission:

Continuing slow improvement, assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Not 100% green. From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Just a reminder:

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

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 991,260 989,473. Heading slowly downward. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

This FT chart, and its conclusion, have gone everywhere. But not all agree with it:

Another critique:

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday:

Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks. CDC, if you’re reading this, please send a signal by getting this fixed. And then throw some documents over the transom. In complete confidentiality! Obviously, nobody at CDC is checking the excess deaths chart. One can only wonder why.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “U.S. eliminates human controls requirement for fully automated vehicles” [Reuters]. “”For vehicles designed to be solely operated by an [automated driving system] ADS, manually operated driving controls are logically unnecessary,” [the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’ said.” • Even an escalator has a kill switch. Trains have emergency brakes. But not robot cars? (Also, “ADS” is a new acronym to me. I don’t like new acronyms. What level of autonomy are we talking here? Five?)

The Bezzle: “Bankers Had Their Crisis. Now It’s Lawyers’ Turn” [Bloomberg]. “The global financial crisis exposed flaws in the oversight of banking, ending the era of so-called light-tough regulation. In the U.K., that meant breaking up the old watchdog, the Financial Services Authority. The drive was to refocus the banking sector on serving its core domestic corporate customers and ordinary individuals. The repercussions from the war in Ukraine should prompt a similar rethinking of how to keep tabs on the legal profession.” • Hmm. So if they do that, what is the City of London for?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 14 Extreme Fear (previous close: 15 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 17 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 10 at 1:20pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Food Supply. “Wheat hits an all-time high on the Invasion of Ukraine by Russia” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so higher is better.)

Our Famously Free Press

Good Lord, Matty’s not being ironic (I checked the thread):

The Gallery

Manchester, in the UK:

Zeitgeist Watch

Some children go to Happyville, some go to Pain City:

Guillotine Watch

Money to burn:

Class Warfare

“‘It Is Disheartening’ New York restaurant workers react to the end of the citywide vaccine mandate.” [New York Magazine]. “‘Let’s call it seven weeks removed from Omicron running rampant,’ says Elijah Servance III, a bartender at Queensyard in midtown. ‘I don’t know what data or what stuff y’all are seeing that makes you feel eight weeks later like, No, it’s all good — just get rid of the masks. Don’t worry about the unvaccinated.’ At his bar, he says, he’ll often do 300 covers a night. ‘What if 100 of those people are unvaccinated?’ he asks. ‘I just think it’s foolish to open that Pandora’s box without a different safeguard in its place.'” • The idea that the vaccines do not prevent tranmission has never penetrated, an enormous success for the Biden Administration.

Will nobody think of the real estate investors:

News of the Wired

“Actor Jussie Smollett sentenced to probation, jail time for staging hate crime” [Reuters]. “His case took an unexpected turn in spring 2019 when the Cook County state’s attorney’s office dropped a 16-count indictment against him in exchange for Smollett forfeiting his $10,000 bond without admitting wrongdoing. The dismissal drew criticism from then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago’s police superintendent, who called the reversal a miscarriage of justice. In 2019, a special prosecutor assigned to the case recommended charging Smollett again and a grand jury returned an indictment.” • Thanks, Rahm. And 2019? So long ago? Filing this here because I’m not sure we know the everything about this very odd story.

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SD writes: “Birch trees at sunrise.”

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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. Samuel Conner

    > The idea that the vaccines do not prevent tranmission has never penetrated, an enormous success for the Biden Administration.

    are you sure about your assessment that the Rs are the more effective evil?

  2. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “U.S. eliminates human controls requirement for fully automated vehicles” [Reuters]. “”For vehicles designed to be solely operated by an [automated driving system] ADS, manually operated driving controls are logically unnecessary,”
    I’m kind of surprised the powers that be didn’t call it [Automated Internal Driving System] but then there’d be acronymity.

      1. Nicodemus

        I see a driverless car anywhere near my kids, I throw a brick through the windshield, or toss a “calprop” under the tires to flatten them. Parked? I destroy it. Automated food delivery robots, tip them over.

  3. LawnDart

    Wait a sec…

    Guillotine Watch: “Note on high gas prices: after filling up only with premium gas for decades, a few years ago a friend who knows and cares about cars told us it was unnecessary, that regular was just fine, so we stopped, no difference, hundreds of dollars saved.”

    I’m assuming NC readers already know this, but today’s cars use a -load of sensors– if you fill with other than the manufacturer’s specified grade for your vehicle you’re asking for an expensive kind of trouble.

    That’s the point, wasn’t it?

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      Turbos; its turbocharged engines (and thus high compression) and not the sensors. Turbocharged engines run better on higher octane ratings than 86. Not running higher octane fuel can/will lead to pre-detonation. A significant number of cars sold in the past 10 year are turbo charged. Some are turbo -and- supercharged.

      1. petal

        When I bought my ’98 Volvo S60 T5 (turbo) a few years ago, was told by my mechanics to either use mid-grade or premium in order to avoid engine damage. They do all they can to save me money, keep my life operational and look out for me, so I trust what they tell me. Have stuck with premium to protect the car, as much as it hurts the wallet. I’m toast without a working vehicle.

        1. Sardonia

          I bought a used 2000 version of that same Volvo (with 100k miles on it). Ran perfectly for 15 years, until it got totaled while parked.

          And yeah, premium gas, every time. The manual states that for a reason.

          1. petal

            Exactly. The fellas said I could get away with mid-grade like 1 out of every 4 times but should really stick with premium. So I stick with premium. I love my car and would like her to stick around for a while, among other reasons.
            I’m sorry to hear yours was totaled. Glad you weren’t injured.

      2. cnchal

        Turbo charged engines have lower compression ratios than normally aspirated engines. Only when on boost is the effective compression ratio increased and were one to use regular gasoline, the knock sensor would detect that and retard timing, reducing power output and partly negating the benefit of the turbo. So for the few seconds per drive that high power is wanted, you better have premium in the tank or get smoked by almost anything else that doesn’t have a turbo. To me, turbocharged engines (unless it’s a diesel) are overly complex and not worth it. Something that will certainly bite your wallet big time.

        The cars that I have that have higher compression ratios use mid grade or premium and the lower compression cars get regular, but when I want to store one of them for an extended time period I half fill them with premium, because that stuff has no ethanol in it

    2. Neohnomad

      Besides the turbos already mentioned.
      Those sensors are detecting the various fuel/air conditions, measuring the resulting power out and averaging those out in the short and long-term “fuel trims” and adjusting the ratio of fuel to air constantly. Generally for a preconceived optimum balance.

      A lower octane then specified will generally result in less power outpower And fuel economy, which may or may not be noticeable. or rather, you may notice less fuel economy but not the decrease of power output

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I love how proudly ignorant they are. “for decades” just kills me. I had a car that took premium, so to a certain extent, I get the feeling.

      The more I think about it the more “never discuss politics, religion, and money” has allowed the stupid to not be mocked.

    4. Anthony G Stegman

      It’s been known for decades that most motor vehicles need use only 87 octane gasoline. Why did this guy not know this? How can he be so clueless for decades?

    5. eg

      My motorcycle requires premium, but our cars don’t. The only car I owned that did was a Lincoln LS V8 and that was kind of a nuisance.

    1. Wukchumni

      Jussie Smollet’s doppelgänger in crime is Sherri Papani-who claimed to have been kidnapped by Latino women, but no way she does 150 days in jail, too photogenic.

      1. fresno dan

        latino women? not latina women? Trans stuff?
        Now, in no way is this payback for the dan quayle potato/potatoes kerfluffle. Nope, not at all. Completely forgotten that… Just noting the gender of certain words in certain languages. Maybe we can just all switch to latinx, although many dems think that is a repub conspiracy….

        1. ambrit

          Ouch! This looks like the Flatlanders versus the Hillfolk.
          (At least no one bought up the “anatomically correct” Chilenan doll.)

        2. Wukchumni

          latino women? not latina women? Trans stuff?
          Now, in no way is this payback for the dan quayle potato/potatoes kerfluffle. Nope, not at all. Completely forgotten that… Just noting the gender of certain words in certain languages. Maybe we can just all switch to latinx,

          It’s transtextual in nature, my gender goof.

          And there’s no way you could be Dan Quayle, he’s more of the Modesto type.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      Tinky: Jussie Smollett violated a number of basic rules about life in Chicago, so Chicagoans (I’m an ex) immediately picked up on some, errrr, aberrant behavior.

      Leaving one’s dwelling at 2:00 a.m. looking for a snack? When the temps were something like -10 F?

      And then he claimed to be looking for Subway? In Chicago? At any hour? It violates the Chicago rules of what is edible street food. I might have “believed” him if he mentioned a hankering for a gyros or some pizza.

      Thanks for the Chapelle video. It’s wildly funny. La Justice pour Juicy!

  4. Screwball

    I’m shocked that many people (according to the polls) are in favor of higher gas prices to help Ukraine. To me, that shows how propaganda works, and we are getting it heavy from all directions. Yet, none of these people seem to have heard about Yemen and what’s going on there.

    From the 2022 – Bracing for losses department; Ms. Jayapal said the president could pass executive actions to cap the price of insulin, raise the overtime eligibility threshold in order to increase wages for tens of millions of people, and fix the so-called family glitch in the Affordable Care Act

    It’s only a glitch? Great, should be easy to fix then. Hahahahahahaha!

    On Tulsi. I posted this in links but it got eaten. She was trending on Twitter today about an article in the Daily Beast how she took campaign money from a Russian spy. Of course the “Hillary was right” meme’s were in full force, and my PMC friends want to jail her, along with Trump, immediately, of course.

    The DB article was a hit piece IMO, but no matter how you take it, or if you like Tulsi or not (I did, but not sure what to think anymore) she wasn’t aware of the donation was from a Russian Spy, which I would expect. The funny part, it was actually $49.95 & $10.00 for a total of $59.95. Tulsi, if you are going to whore yourself out to Russian spies, 60 bucks isn’t a lot of money. No wonder you are not presidential material.

    In general; are we at peak BS yet?

    1. Glossolalia

      I’m shocked that many people (according to the polls) are in favor of higher gas prices to help Ukraine.

      I’d like to know more about who answered the polls. Were they mostly the Zoom work-from-home class? Also, maybe they’re OK with higher gas prices, but maybe the question should have been, “Are you OK with higher EVERYTHING prices?”

      1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        Do you mean the polls might be BS?! My god, it could be BS all the way down!

    2. LawnDart

      To me, that shows how propaganda works, and we are getting it heavy from all directions… … In general; are we at peak BS yet?

      Dig a finger in the ear, scrape around, eat what’s under the nail, and if it tastes like mushroom, then rest assured– mission accomplished.

    3. MP

      I don’t understand how high gas prices help Ukraine, my understanding is that Putin is still selling gas and oil, but at much higher prices now, though he is forced to sell it slightly cheaper than everyone else.

    4. Donald

      The Ukraine War is presented nonstop. Yemen gets a story once a month or less, I am guessing and is not presented as a gigantic war crime for which we are responsible constantly on every news outlet every day.

      People, especially the college educated PMC types, may think they are too smart to be taken in by something as silly as a constant drumbeat on one story versus the downplaying of another, but they are wrong. People can’t help but pick up the message that you are supposed to care about one thing and not the other.

      And anyway, the fact that Yemen is a totally unnecessary bipartisan crime makes it untouchable. We don’t have to risk nuclear war to stop it. We just have to stop supporting the Saudi bombing and blockade. But recognizing just how rotten our own leaders are might bring down the whole system. I think people know this at some level, so they just deny our atrocities or ignore them.

      1. the last D

        In 2016 I was at an event supporting Sanders for president. I happened to talk to a woman who was a big Bernie fan, about what obama had done, and was doing, in Yemen. She glared at me like I must have been a malcontent (I am), and quickly walked away, telling me she had to get some ice cream. The scoop about obama’s killings was not a scoop she was willing to lick. Well, the only emperor is the emperor of ice cream, like they say.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Here in Tucson, I attended a March 2016 Bernie Sanders rally at our convention center. At one point, Bernie went into quite the praise-fest over how much better Obama’s economy was than Bush’s, and what a marvelous job he had done at fixing the economy.

          The crowd went wild.

          Me? I gave that praise-fest a slow clap and I started making my way out of the convention center. My personal economy had been much better under Bush than it had been under Obama, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

          Heck, people weren’t flocking to 2015-16 Bernie Sanders rallies because their lives were going well.

    5. Anthony G Stegman

      My employer just sent out an all-hands email requesting donations for Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s special operation. My employer has NEVER solicited donations for those displaced by the US military campaigns over the past two decades. I can only think that the white Ukrainians are seen as being more deserving of help than those with darker complexions. Had Russia’s special operation took place in Somalia nobody in the corporate world would care a whit.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe you can tell them that you only donate to Americans – like the homeless. Otherwise you would feel unpatriotic and disloyal to the country. /sarc

  5. Nikkikat

    The incredible amount of propaganda being peddled right now may take a while to break through to people. The fact that anyone believes anything our Govt. says is astounding to me. I remember the Iraq war and how my truth telling caused all my friends and co workers to say I had completely lost it. They refused to even contemplate that we were being lied into a war. Maybe this time will be different but I doubt it. My experience in talking to people is much in line with the current polling. They will blame their hardships on Putin, not the feckless US Govt. No one reads anything, and the internet is for looking at pictures of the Kardashians. Critical thinking skills are not their strong suit. I really want to be wrong. But we shall see.

    1. Screwball

      In my reading travels and in person conversations I have come to the conclusion that yes, they actually do believe them. And they believe anything and everything they tell them without any question whatsoever. Don’t dare bring up contrary facts or you will be black balled immediately.

      Ukraine is all on Russia – check
      Ukraine is kicking Russia’s butt in the war – check
      Russia put Trump in the Whitehouse – check
      Follow the Science – check
      Dr. Fauci is a hero – check
      Hillary isn’t a warmongering crook – check
      Ukraine bio-labs do not exist – check
      Hunter didn’t do anything, it has all been debunked – check
      Inflation pressures are all because of Putin – check
      Jen Psaki is a national treasure and doesn’t lie – check
      If it were not for Republicans, the parliamentarian, and Joe Machin, the Dems would fix everything – check

      I could go on…These people have been wrong on just about every major story over the last 5 years but we are the dumbasses.

    2. petal

      Biden turns to TikTokers to battle the Kremlin propaganda machine: Jen Psaki has been ‘briefing Gen Z influencers’ on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and how the U.S. would react to Russia using nuclear weapons

      Snip:” President Joe Biden has turned to a bevy of TikTok influencers to help him battle Russia’s propaganda machine about its invasion of the Ukraine.

      The White House held a zoom briefing for about 30 popular internet figures, who promptly took to their social media accounts to talk about what they learned.

      They included Aaron Parnas, who has 1.2 million followers and is the son of Rudy Giuliani’s indicted former associate Lev Parnas.

      ‘I just got off of a zoom call with the White House about the situation in Ukraine,’ Kahlil Greene, who calls himself a ‘Gen Z historian’ and has 540,000 followers, posted in a video to his social media accounts.

      He said the officials on the briefing call encouraged them ‘as content creators to use our platform to highlight different issues as they arise, especially when mainstream media fails to do so.’

      The administration’s move comes as it battles a wave of misinformation out of Moscow where Vladimir Putin is justifying the invasion by making false claims about the Ukraine.

      All the ‘digital creators’ on the White House briefing game a similar summary: that the administration was emphasizing its work with allies, the assistance it was offering the Ukraine and how it was trying to prevent a bigger war. “

      1. The Rev Kev

        Biden should have just sent those TikTok influencers to Langley so they could get their briefing & talking points direct instead. Didn’t he do something like that before to do with vaccinations?

        1. ambrit

          The phrase “..to promote the invasion of Ukraine.” sounds very much like it’s some sort of Pay Per View sporting event.

        2. BrianC - PDX

          Hmm — Sounds like a “Tik Tok Gap” has arisen.

          This is a National Security Debacle of epic proportions!

          I wonder if a candidate will pick up on this “gap” in the next Presidential election cycle?

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    If Apoorva Mandavilli and Benjamin Ryan are a perfect expression of everything the average NyTimes reader is and stands for, then perhaps doctors and other people who actually Know Things should stop talking to NyTimes reporters and begin talking to reporters from the second tier and third tier press. The Side Stream Media as against the Main Stream Media. McClatchy and the New York Post as against the NyTimes.

    Why waste time trying to clue the clueproof?

  7. digi_owl

    So weird seeing Stokes there, as i recall really loving his CPU deep dives over on Ars Technica.

    And once more i find myself pondering how the people that seemed almost leftist back in the day, now come across as right wing (if not alt-right or whatever) thanks to either a internal shift of priorities or a shift in the overton window.

    Also, twitter is a glorious example of “do not meet your heroes”…

  8. Wukchumni

    “Activism, Uncensored: The People’s Convoy” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “In a terrific piece of coast-to-coast video journalism, culminating in a story that’s still live — the “Freedom Convoy,” an American version of Canadian trucker protests, is still engaged in daily circling of the Beltway
    Interesting video, all of the largely conservative types in the convoy who were interviewed talked extemporaneously, whereas their mostly liberal counterparts in DC mostly needed to talk from a prepared speech on their smartphone.

    I would’ve guessed the other way around…

  9. jr

    Re: information adverse NYT “journalists”

    A buddy works for the NYT as a computer design thingy-person. It’s filled to the brim with what he calls the “do-mores”, careerists who will do or say anything for advancement. These are not journalists, to be clear. They would say their mommas chase battleships if it curries favor with their boss. Notions of truth-telling for it’s own sake would only impede their ascension. It’s a foreign concept. Jimmy Dore, flawed as he is, does it better. Like MD’s with MBA’s, it’s all about money and status.

    I also think mainstream journalism occupies a weird spot in the career food chain. Every journalist I’ve met is “sharp”. You consider yourself smarter than the average bear but your job is to learn from others. You become an almost-expert on a lot of stuff but must constantly defer to real experts. You inhabit a kind of mental no-mans land.

    So you are constantly looking for opportunities to assert your intellectual prowess. Like the fools above who would pass up the possibility to learn something new in favor of a timely dinner or a chance to tell a doctor “Whoa!” Or the science writers eager to teach their audiences “How to think like a scientist!” I mean, what other point could there be to such statements?

    And don’t get me started on the quality of the writing.

  10. Sutter Cane

    I didn’t understand what the point was of the US trucker convoy, and I understand it even less after watching that video

  11. Grant

    “Gone is the talk of a transformative agenda to remake the country’s social safety net that was once going to be the centerpiece of Democrats’ sales pitch to voters. The words “Build Back Better” were all but forbidden among the groggy lawmakers who arrived after only a few hours of sleep”

    Let me rephrase. Gone are the days when the Democrats pretended to care about actually addressing pressing societal issues, and gone are the days when corrupt, right wing dinosaurs like Biden started to push for policies that at least undid some of the damage his disastrous policies have caused. The Democrats will now try to win office in America without really focusing on any solutions to the multiple crises now facing us and will offer next to nothing that speak to the material needs of most of the population. Strategists struggle to explain why any party in this societal context would dare running an election using this logic, but they were too busy cashing checks from their party and doing wine and cheese parties with lobbyists to bother worrying. Oh and Biden is pushing forward with Trump’s Medicare privatization while still in a pandemic and after the pandemic made clear to most the fundamental flaws of the worst and most inefficient healthcare system in the developed world.

    1. Bill Carson

      The Build Back Better Bill passed!! Yep, we’re spending $13.6B to build Ukraine back better.

      1. ambrit

        Sorry, but the initial sums are dedicated to the demolition phase of the project.
        If America runs true to form, the entire program will be ‘sidelined’ after the initial demolition phase has been completed.

        1. Rod

          well, let’s not discount the opportunities Reconstruction holds for skimming, washing, and recompense.
          i mean this won’t be a go-fund-me level budget…
          and, like the Afghan model, things can still get sidelined.

      2. Young

        I am really disappointed that the Pentagon budget doesn’t have provisions(reserves) for an emergency like this.

        Even if it doesn’t, why does not some general pay for the Ukraine weapons from his/her petty cash account?

      3. Hayden

        Let’s just call it Ukrainastan, the new pit for American weapons, money

        and a second Russia’s Vietnam, just like good ‘ol Afghanistan.

    2. Darthbobber

      At least I haven’t had to see any “Biden as the new FDR” articles these past several months. Though that they ever existed remains a testimony to some writers’ capacity for self-delusion.

      1. Tom Doak

        No, those have been shelved in favor of “Zelenskyy is so Churchillian” which I read the other day.

        Idea: maybe he, Biden and Putin should all meet at Yalta to cosplay for the MSM!

  12. Henry Moon Pie

    So I’ve read that Putin has a draft of new laws governing how to handle the closing of American franchises like McDonald’s. A big concern seems to be “protecting suppliers.” (How similar politics can be even in “autocratic” societies.) In general, it seems to me that the Russian government is handling its issues in a more organized, less reactive way than here in the U. S.

    But here’s an idea for Mr. Putin. Keep those McDonald’s locations open, but change the branding. Make it something very Russian but satirizing the American obsession with branding. Embody it in a sign and put them up in front of all the old stores. (You’ve got plenty of neon.) And change the food so that it doesn’t kill those who eat it. And use local ingredients and produce them in a way that doesn’t do to the Earth what McDonald’s does.

    And then open those stores to the people and the world’s media.

    And bring an end to the killing. Fight the Empire off your back foot again.

    1. Yves Smith

      You can read the actual official text rather than rely on second-hand accounts:


      And as this points out, most US firms are NOT closing operations. They are “suspending” them, as in still paying rent and staff, apparently betting on the notion that they can resume in a few months.

      It also reads as if the Russian government will negotiate with the Western firms:

      A draft law to prevent manufacturing shutdowns has been prepared. If foreign owners shut down their facilities without reasonable grounds, the Government is proposing the introduction of external management. Depending on the owner’s decision, this will determine the future of the company. In the process, the key goal will be to maintain profile corporate activities and jobs. Most companies are announcing temporary suspension of operations while preserving jobs and salaries. We will carefully monitor this situation.

      But yes, aside from rent, they are not paying other “suppliers”. So the Russian government may leave smaller ones in suspended animation and intervene only in the bigger ones.

      1. Dave in Austin

        Just now at 5:51 EST I went to http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/67958 to read what Putin said using Mozilla. It timed out. I tried http://en.kremlin.ru which also timed out.

        I note it is an insecure link (http: vs https:) so I used Google Chrome (which I have no security settings on). After 20 seconds it gave me the available files as a list, like Gopher in 1994. Clicking on the “President of Russia” I got a list of 40 items from the Kremlin. I was tempted to click on “Special Animal Welfare Projects” but I decided to click on Putins speech of 3/11. The spinning globe goes on forever. And the thing I requested doesn’t even appear in the “link” bar at the top so somebody can mess with my web browser. Censorship by annoyance.

        Today I also decided to sign up for a Telegraph account so I could directly link to the Russian-side combat footage which is shared on some twitter sites. Everything went smootly. When Telegraph asked for my phone number to verify who I am (routine nowadays) I gave it but somehot the code I had to enter never arrived at my phone. So no Telegraph account for me. The unannounced cencorship continues.

        By the way, the Russian reporters in the field all have helmets with “PRESS” written in big white letters. Along with the blue business suit with a red tie, the reporter’s English language “PRESS” helmet has conquered the world.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Link took like 10 seconds to connect but it worked.

          Copy Pasted Putins closing remarks and shared on Faceborg.

          Don’t know how many of my 1046 ‘friends’ are going to scroll past my post but it’s certainly worth a try!

    1. Term

      Sounds like the expendable crewman in Star Trek…somehow Kirk and his minions always survived ..those who were not were toast.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Wait a minute, wait a minute. Are you saying that as far as our governments are concerned, that we are all Red Shirts now?

        1. ambrit

          Yep, and “deplorable” Red Shirts at that!
          The Starship Enterprise brings a new dimension to the phrase, “flyover states.”
          But, as all neo-liberal Japanese say; “Whatever floats your boat.”

        2. Term

          Correct. The Varsity allows us to play in the game only when the outcome is secured. Shedding our red shirts and pretending to participate in the final victory….yelling in unison…USA USA USA…

  13. Raymond Sim

    It happens again! I came meaning to post a link to the most recent SCAN data, but you beat me to it with the Eric Feigl-Ding link. It seems that here in my neck of the woods we’ve begun our BA.2 wave, but I’m not entirely sure what to expect. SCAN’s data on variant prevalence over time has had me wondering more and more about what degree and manner of coupling there may be in the spread of the Omicrons.

    Here’s every math and/or physics lecturer’s favorite go-to example for what that kind of stuff can look like:


  14. Petter

    My wife and I (living in Norway) are among the millions awaiting our refunds. The whole filling out US taxes is such a pain in the *ss that I don’t even want to go into it but we normally get our refund by November or December. Now we have no idea. The latest news (my wife handles our finances) is that they haven’t even registered our returns. The person she talked to in Austin Tx blamed Covid.
    Apparently, according to my wife, we’re part of the 5,2 million paper returns – we have no choice – that haven’t been opened.
    Didn’t read the linked article but did it mention the low salaries the IRS is offering?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      It says a lot about America that we can send unvaccinated 8-years-olds to school but IRS agents need to work from home.

    2. Stephen V.

      Sorry you are stuck in the rabbit hole. But look at it this way–IF WHAT YOU WERE TOLD IS ACCURATE–Way back in January, IRIS said they were 15+m Returns behind.
      “Processing ” paper returns is tough stuff. Not sure that new hires will fix this particular problem any time soon…

  15. XXYY

    …after filling up only with premium gas for decades, a few years ago a friend who knows and cares about cars told us it was unnecessary, that regular was just fine, so we stopped, no difference, hundreds of dollars saved.

    I believe it depends upon the engine. The main point of premium gas is that it has additives which prevent pre-ignition in high compression engines. If you are running a high compression engine, you will likely experience “pinging” on regular gas (meaning the fuel-air mixture sometimes detonates too early in the cylinder’s compression cycle), which can be damaging.

    Your car owners manual should specify what gas is needed by your car.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What is the over/under for a forthcoming tweet about why the engine keeps making that knocking noise?

    2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      On Lowry – I enjoyed the biopic featuring Timothy Spall & Vanessa Redgrave – never would have imagined him as a rent collector. He painted & added beauty to the factoryscapes that my ancestors scraped through, so it was good to get to know him a little better – Spall does great Turner too IMO.

      There were once war artists- Anselm Kiefer has always been one & of the German generation who asked what did Daddy do in the war. He has already featured the feel of the present example, as it’s another variation on that old 20th century vicious theme from the East, which he has well covered on canvass. I believe that he is a genius but his work is a still life of what is the worst of us, rendered in the tones of a wintry Eastern European field.


  16. Thistlebreath

    Re: Karen Ho’s office return stats

    We collect and use a few typewriters. As Tom Hanks, serious collector, opines, nobody ignores a hand typed letter. The machines are also why offices came into being in their present incarnation. The machines in offices were expensive and cranky enough and operators were scarce enough to warrant bringing the workers to the machine installs. That’s gone.

    But bosses remain. How many categories of overseer do we need for mostly autonomous keyboard and phone jockeys? Not many. But the straw bosses are howling like scalded hyenas that their duties are crucial, critical and cost effective. I don’t think so.

    Yet, bosses make the rules. So there they are, cajoling, threatening, coaxing, bullying, begging, pouting, etc. for their buffalo to come back.

    Where’s Chuck Jones when we need him most? A supervisory Wile E. Coyote propping up an Acme Brand box held up by a stick with a string on it, over a cheery ‘C’mon Back, It’s Safe Now!’ note.

  17. Jason Boxman

    Who cares what Jayapal thinks anymore? She rolled on BBB when it was clear that dual-track simply meant no social sending bill, obviously, and here we are.


  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘This is my last time to make this point on here b/c I’m moving on with my life, but flu IFR #’s are not really naively comparable to COVID IFR #’s, b/c those numbers are VERY DIFFERENT in how they’re derived.’

    I have no idea what this guy is talking about. Here in Oz, about 30 people are dying each and every day of this virus and that works out to over 10,000 dead, also each and every year. Assuming that a more lethal variant does not arise that is. People who would otherwise be going about their lives. And if Jon Stokes wants to move on with his life, well good on him. A pity that those increasing numbers of people with long-covid don’t have that choice. And here we are talking about tens of millions and eventually to be hundreds of millions of ordinary people.

    1. ambrit

      Not to be too snarky, but we here are having anywhere from 1500 to 2000 officially listed covid deaths per day. Yes, we are a more populous nation, but….
      Your last point is probably closest to the truth of the matter; “oedinary people.”
      The ‘elites’ generally think of themselves as “special” and “above” the hoi polloi. To this group, the word “ordinary” is a pejorative.
      It is almost time for the emergence of True Left “Instant Karma Cadres.”
      America hasn’t experienced serious civil unrest for over fifty years. That collective memory has slowly died out. As is usual, it looks like the time is right for a remedial class in Class Issues.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. eliminates human controls requirement for fully automated vehicles”

    I suppose that it would be too much to ask for to have a manual ejection seat installed in those self-driving cars?

    1. fjallstrom

      The ejection seats will be fully automated, to ensure that you are only ejected at a time and place of the AI’s choosing.

  20. LawnDart

    Russian Defense Ministry says is working to determine Eastern European country that supplied to Ukraine Igla portable surface-to-air missile systems

    “Inspection of the serial numbers of the portable surface-to-air missile systems has now been organized to determine the country that supplied these weapons from Eastern Europe,”


    Think “Stinger” missiles– that’s what they’re beefing about. Russia has shown a lot of restraint so far, but this “poke-the-bear” stuff is going to get someone’s arm torn off sooner or later. And with Russia tracking down the source of these arms, I’d put my money on sooner.

    1. Andy

      Post-1987 Pink Floyd is sans Roger Waters so it’s, IMO, not really Pink Floyd. The ‘leader’ they are talking about is David Gilmour, not Waters. Gilmour, PF’s lead guitarist, only became ‘leader’, and lead singer, after the band’s breakup that led to Waters going his own way. But as PF’s primary song writer Waters still has control over the band’s pre-split catalog.

      Roger Waters is very active in pro-Palestine and anti-imperialist politics so he wouldn’t pull such a silly stunt. There is even a rumor that he helps fund Max Blumenthal’s Grayzone project.

  21. rowlf

    Always a classic: Trump Ally Rep. Chris Collins Arrested for Insider Trading – Is the Swamp Drained Now?

    (From August 2018) White collar criminologist Bill Black analyzes the significance of Rep. Chris Collins arrest for insider trading along with his son and son’s fiance’s father on 13 counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and making false statements to the FBI. Collins was first Congressman to endorse Trump and is one of his closest confidants

    Mr Black has a good time explaining the crimes committed. I always thought Collins’s major crime was burning his fellow insider traders by leaving them out of the emergency exit info.

    1. LawnDart

      DDG is smashed, literally overnight, “we don’t censor, just adjust search-rankings.” WTF just happened?

      For now, Brave seems to be OK, but as this evolves I think we need to get to VPNs asap and find alt search engines to get to the non-MSM websites that still remain active.

      This stuff is really, really happening quickly. That primer on alt web coms that LS posted a few years back needs to be a constantly updated running feature to the point this site goes down– not kidding, and no exaggeration.

      1. C.O.

        I just tried a duckduckgo search today that produced nothing but jaw droppingly awful results, and I wondered what the hell happened. The search was for the current web address of an old Canadian left wing magazine, which I didn’t realize was still a going concern.

        Now I know what happened, thank you for posting this info. Looks like I will be spending some quality time figuring out searX.

  22. Acacia

    So Jen Psaki has helpfully drawn our attention to the possible use of “chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine” by the Russians, claiming that it’s a “clear pattern”. It seems she didn’t get the memo that RF destroyed all chemical weapons some years back under OPCW verification. Then, to connect the dots, a journo asked Biden in his latest press conference if US-NATO could use chemical weapons as a pretext for a military response against Russia.

    Chemical weapons… where have we heard that one before? Can’t this clown show come up with some fresher propaganda? More to the point, doesn’t this suggest we should expect moar white helmets-esque shenanigans in the near future?

  23. Jason Boxman

    Come to think of it, this obsession of the U.S. elite with China failing at elimination, cheering for it, is seriously stupid simply for the fact that, if China does fail, global trade is gonna blow up. Hardly ideal, given how broken supply lines are already even before Ukraine. These people really are insane.

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