2:00PM Water Cooler 3/8/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, this Water Cooler is truncated because a post I swear I thought was going to be simple wasn’t. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Those insects!

* * *


“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

Biden Adminstration

We have the most frivolous, delusional, and self-centered political class in the world:

This dude is — wait for it — from the Atlantic Council. He can do all those things. We camnot:

We have the most frivolous, delusional, and self-centered professional managerial class in the world:

I nearly stroked out when I saw this one. Paper airplanes? To support armed confrontation with a nuclear power? Are these people little children? Do they think a No-Fly Zone happens because they wished it into existence?

“How Dark Money Shaped The School Safety Debate” [Walker Bragman, Daily Poster]. “The updated CDC guidance signals the Democratic party’s shift from beating the virus to surrendering to it as a fact of life — including in schools. The new approach was likely shaped by a number of factors, including declining COVID numbers, concerns about far-reaching public COVID fatigue, and the fact that many of those now most at risk of severe disease have refused to get vaccinated for non-medical reasons. But the end of school masking is also in part due to a campaign by right-wing business interests, including the dark money network of oil billionaire Charles Koch, to keep the country open for the sake of maintaining corporate profits. These interests have been meddling in the education debate, first pushing to reopen schools and then fighting in-school safety measures, even as COVID case numbers were rising and children were ending up in hospitals. For nearly two years, these groups have been promoting questionable science and creating wedges between parents, teachers, and administrators in order to get America back to work — even at the risk of the nation’s children…. As schools started reopening under the new Democratic administration, Koch-affiliated groups adopted a harder line. In the lead-up to the 2021 state elections, the organizations began opposing in-school mask requirements for students and teachers in addition to closures….. ‘It’s sort of surprising [or not surprising at all] to us that people want to remove some of these layered protection measures that we know work,’ said veteran pediatric emergency physician Christina Johns, senior medical advisor and vice president of communications for PM Pediatrics, the country’s largest provider of specialized pediatric urgent care.” • The whole article is worth reading in full, though if anything it’s not cynical enough. It’s certainly odd we don’t see this covered in the Post and the Times.

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.

* * *

Clinton Legacy

They’re b-a-a-a-c-k:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“TikTok Was Designed for War” [Wired]. “[T]he current conflict is a very different kind of social media war, fueled by TikTok’s transformative effect on the old norms of tech. Its more established competitors fundamentally changed the nature of conflict, but TikTok has created a stream of war footage the likes of which we have never seen, from grandmothers saying goodbye to friends to instructions on how to drive captured Russian tanks.” • It’s digital evidence, ideal for propaganda, especially effective against the child-like entities who manage discoure in the United States. Not a lot of weeping Russian mothers sending their children off to the front. Not a lot of steet violence from the Azov Battalion.

“The new silent majority: People who don’t tweet” [Axios]. • I frequent some nice quiet little neighborhoods on the Twitter. It’s much better at that for me than Facebook ever was (seven or eight years ago when I used it last). But my main timeline is utterly, utterly polluted by wartime propaganda. It’s completely useless to me, and therefore very useful to the powers that be.


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 out. 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?

* * *

The “Waning Wall”:

“CDC Data: ‘Stealth’ Omicron Cases Doubling Every Week in the U.S.” [US News]. “Cases of a highly transmissible omicron subvariant are doubling in the U.S. every week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BA.2, or “stealth” omicron, was responsible for 8% of coronavirus infections in the U.S. last week, the CDC estimates. That’s up from 4% the week prior and 2% the week before that. Experts have raised concerns that the relaxation of mitigation measures like mask mandates could give the subvariant an extra advantage as it spreads in the U.S., and they have questioned if the country is doing enough sequencing to understand the true number of BA.2 infections. BA.2 is already the dominant lineage in 18 countries, according to the World Health Organization. The subvariant’s unofficial nickname of “stealth” omicron stems from a testing response that makes the lineage look like the delta variant, so it requires additional sequencing that the more common omicron subvariant did not.” • Here from CDC is the variant tracker:

This is CDC’s “NowCast.” The name and the presentation suggest that we are seeing data, but we are seeing a model. As CDC, to their credit, says:

Nowcast is a model that estimates more recent proportions of circulating variants and enables timely public health action. CDC is providing weekly Nowcast estimates which will be updated every week on Tuesday.

Readers will recall that the last CDC model I encountered went very, very badly — for CDC.

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.

* * *

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.)

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):

Sea of green still. 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.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 985,914 984,020. Heading downward. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

* * *

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 (LR):

LR writes: “I’m camping here for 9 days including Christmas and New Year’s. It is summertime and the weather is beautiful. The waves are a bit rough at the beach and the sun is intense, but there are lovely breezes. Here in this national park as if one is camping within a colony of birds. The park is covered with eucalyptus trees which are full of nests for a variety of parrots. You hear the birds constantly, but in the morning, when the sun comes up, they go crazy!! And then the sun hits the tent and it is time to get up!! Happy Holidays a todos!” I should have gotten to this earlier, but perhaps it will bright the month of March!

* * *

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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. Jen

    “Are these people little children? Do they think a No-Fly Zone happens because they wished it into existence?”

    Yes, Lambert, they do. They truly believe that if they close their eyes, and click their heels together while saying “there’s a no fly zone here” three times one will magically appear.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Also bitterly ironic that the same #McResistance imbeciles who gave us/cheered on the factional folly of Russiagate, because Trump = Hitler, are now getting hard-ons for actual Nazis in Ukraine.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Why not? The same people got hard-ons for head-chopping Jihadists in Syria without blinking an eye.

      2. clarky90

        I am building a DoomsDay Bunker in the Meta-Verse!. I have stocked it with virtual money, virtual water, lots and lots of virtual food! (All virtually fresh and virtually organic). The virtual air smells of lilac and forest humus……

        Who will join me?

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Nice, but in true PMC fashion I’ll one-up you, since I get by on the highly curated scent of my own moral vanity.

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      I don’t think it is possible to establish and maintain a no-fly zone over a battlefield contested by peer and near-peer adversaries. Russia has sophisticated and robust air defenses. Whether or not the Russian air force can match that of the United States is of less importance because NATO aircraft attempting to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine would find at least some of them being shot down. Perhaps enough aircraft would be shot down so as to render the entire effort pretty useless. The American people have been thoroughly propagandized to truly believe that the US military is unassailable, everywhere in the world.

      1. christofay

        The no-fly zone is already established, by Russia. They didn’t announce it. There’s very little flying by the Ukraine airforce. As for wondering whether the Russian air force can match the American, I think that is off by a few decades. After reading more Russian-inclined writers for the last couple of years Russia’s anti-aircraft anti-missile defenses and electronic warfare are a generation ahead of ours. Considering that we spend 10 – 12 times what Russia does on weapons, and the speed of our development, we’re in serious trouble. The USA MIC is in the status of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, we’re trying to spend ourselves broke.

  2. helpful edit

    Hi! You have your “Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):” and “Death rate (Our World in Data):” section headings reversed.

  3. Swamp Yankee

    Oh, the professional class definitely are children, Lambert! That has become very clear. They really do think that if they stamp their foot and throw a tantrum, stuff will happen — because heretofore in most of their personal lives, it has.

    Also had a friend of a friend, no dummy, either, ask on an email chain what the ‘defense’ against ICBMs was. After spitting out my coffee, I told him: none. I found this remarkable, as we are the same age (39ish) and I recall the threat of atomic annihilation from the ’80s well……

    Interestingly, as a relatively conservative GOPer, he is one of the more sensible ones in terms of being willing to negotiate over the Ukraine. The Team Blue Uber Alles types, especially Romney Republican converts, are gaga over war with a nuclear power. Realignment indeed.

    1. Questa Nota

      Murderous Sophisms

      That phrase seems apt to describe the mentality and current, um, guiding light of, the paper airplane throwers and their far more numerous co-somethingorothers up and down the Acela Corridor. Some even appear in Cabinet positions. Choose your faves.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hmmm, can Pelosi find paper of the requisite stiffness and produced in a Kente cloth print, for performative no-fly flash flights from the balconies of the Halls of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, coordinated with an NFT reprise of the Guggenheim event?

        Why yes, yes she would! https://www.etsy.com/market/kente_paper

    2. Kurtismayfield

      I think we need to revive civil defense drills to make people understand that the only thing you do when the sirens go off is hide under your desk or the basement.

      1. shinola

        I was told to (in addition to going to the basement/hide under a desk) sit down on the floor, put your head between your knees & kiss your sweet rear end goodbye.

        Personally, I came to the conclusion that the best place to be when the nukes started flying would be ground zero – no more worries!

        1. rowlf

          I lived on ground zeros for fifteen years of my life, around airplanes, thermonuclear weapons and a siren. Duck and cover was for weather events and earthquakes. When the siren went off minutes 15 to 60 were nerve racking.

          For some reason I don’t like crowds or urban areas now, but I am really good as a first responder as others muddle around.

        2. MichaelSF

          I think in one of his talks I viewed recently Prof. Mearsheimer said that (ground zero) was Herman Kahn’s conclusion.

        3. arte

          I suppose this is the one positive thing about the impending future of endemic COVID making us all crippled, demented, infertile shells within a decade. A ground zero death kind of loses its terrors.

      2. Objective Ace

        Also have some potassium Iodine tablets handy. Obviously won’t help you if your in the immediate blast zone, but if your a mile or a couple miles away experiencing the fallout theyre helpful

          1. Joe Renter

            LOL. I actually did a search online just in case for cyanide sources. Easy access. Not going down that path yet, but good to be a boy scout if it comes to that.

    3. jo6pac

      That’s not true you can live through ICBM. I grew up in the 50s as kids in school we could hide under our desk. I’m now 74 so I’m going buy a bigger desk;-)

      Then sadly your friend is like so many others including those in power that think a little nuke war is really no problem. WTF is a little nuke war.

      Back school and desk. I remember asking my Dad if that was true and he said No it’s not so I no longer did as asked. The beginning of question authority.

      1. Lee

        Recalls fond memories from nipperhood when our teacher had us slide our desks so they were stationed against a wall of mostly windows so when the blast sent shattered glass flying across the room we wouldn’t be cut to shreds. Good times.

        1. MichaelSF

          At my elementary school in the SF Bay Area we relocated to the center hall (classrooms were on either side of it) to avoid the glass, but one student was supposed to run and close the venetian blinds on the windows to protect us from the flash.

      2. BidenLastEmperor

        Read Cormic McCarthy’s The Road, better yet, send it to your friend.
        That was about survivors who lived way out in the country away from fireballs, blast zones and people storing weaklings in their basement to part out for meat.

        1. BlakeFelix

          Although that was ridiculous IMO. Everyone knows that you kill weaklings immediately and dry them into jerky. They will only burn calories and cause trouble hanging around in the basement!

        2. FreeMarketApologist

          Read Nevil Shute’s On the Beach. That’s the book that will make you really think about what the aftermath of a little nuclear war will be like.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Better yet, the 1984 book “The Cold and the Dark: The World after Nuclear War” by Paul R. Ehrlich, Carl Sagan, Donald Kennedy, and Walter Orr Roberts. Really grim reading.

      3. Jen

        I’m about 20 years younger than you Joe, and I remember we had two different drills when I was a wee lass growing up in Queens.

        Regular air raid drill – under the desk
        Nuke drill sit in the hallway against the lockers

        Absurd, all of it.

        1. ambrit

          Now schoolkids have monthly “active shooter” drills. I kid you not. My Inner Cynic whispers in my ear that this is a subtle way of programming the young to live in perpetual fear. Always fearful people make decisions based on irrational bases. Such people are easier to fool and lead astray.
          It’s all about power and control.

          1. hunkerdown

            You’re right, of course. Can’t have those at home!

            It would require hundreds of years to get the masses back to this level of productivity and submission, were they to be free of it for even twenty years. Two was two too many for their tastes. The totality must be enforced.

        2. petal

          During HS, we lived 2-3 miles as the crow flies from a nuke plant. The HS was 3.5 miles directly south of the plant. We’d have a yearly evac drill and they’d pile all of us onto school buses and we’d head south to the next town, then turn around and go back.

          1. John

            Theater, just theater. I lean to the video/computer game theory for all the bloody mindedness about using nuclear weapons. Lose the game and your character is vaporized, but no matter hit reset and start again. Ingrained conviction that nothing is forever. Childish but we seem to be dealing with such. Of course being 80+ almost everyone is a child to me.

      4. Charlie Sheldon

        Yep, 75 here. Remember well being told, get under the desk. Also being told, “If you see a mushroom shaped cloud run home.” Some local people (Amherst, Mass) built bomb shelters. There were all these nuclear tests, atom bombs then H bombs. Back then nearly everyone alive, except we kids, had seen directly what we did to Japan, what those bombs did. Now those people are all, or nearly all, dead, gone. No direct memory.

        News today that Poland will send MIGS to a US Base so the US can send MIGs to Ukraine is hopefully not true, as this would place the US directly in the game even more than now. My sense of all this is somehow the Overton or whatever window has shifted and now we will see the use of tactical nuclear battlefield weapons. Sure hope I am wrong. Each day that goes by makes it harder and harder to find an off ramp.

        Biden blocks Russian oil, after howls from all sides, including Fox, demanding such blockage. Now Biden will be entirely blamed for inflation. Biden is countering, calling this Putin’s price rise. He is partly right but what is being missed is, if this is real (and it sure is starting to feel that way) then Biden needs to set excess profits taxes and price limits on fuel and rationing and fast, and somehow I don’t think our population has a clue….

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Following the back and forth can be murky, but I’m fairly certain the US announced it would do nothing, then Warsaw said no, then the US said, “we won’t stop our Euro allies” to pawn off the perception problem as demonstrated by people who think paper airplanes constitute a no fly zone on the EU.

    4. jr

      Had to explain to the partner what an ICBM is. MIRVS too. She winced. Then I told her there is probably a nuke armed Russian sub within 500 miles of the coastline and she looked scared. We are such an ignorant people…

      1. JBird4049

        Why are we such ignorant people?

        I have only lived with possible nuclear extermination my entire life as the ICBMs and bombers have never gone away, only reduced in numbers and warhead size. IIRC, MIRVs are not really a thing anymore, but that is only because of the treaties as they could shove in more warheads easily enough into the many, many ICBMs currently carrying just one. The threat has gone from instant nuclear annihilation in the 1960s to 1990s to merely complete civilizational collapse today in a few hours if we are extremely lucky because of the reductions.

        None of this is new as it has been true since before I was born. and which I knew as a child, and our entire senior leadership grew up with as well. Just how did we go from something that was in the air, which everyone just knew, to this ignorance today?

        I know that the knowledge of this reality was deeply oppressive and had to put aside just to function, but does that mean our society has done this now? Only pushing the reality so deeply away that there is no conscious memory of it?

        We are supposed to fear everything and everyone, letting the guards, the police, the barriers, the scanners, and all the spyware keep us all “safe,” and live in an environment where letting one’s children roam as was the norm into the 1990s can get you arrested today, but the reality of nuclear extermination is unknown?


        1. Stephen V.

          The Miami subdivision we lived in in the late 60’s had a model home WITH A BOMB SHELTER. But I never knew anyone who took them up on that possibility.

          1. ambrit

            The funny thing about that is how close to the surface the water table is in Miami.
            Tangentally connected is the story my Mom tells about the functional bomb shelter thay had in their back yard in London during the Blitz. She says that they used it nightly since they were close to a military target for the bombers. Now, the entire world is a “military target.”

          2. Maggie

            Oh I knew of one homeowner that had one built… in Jacksonville FL… I was in first grade… wore personalized dog tags at school, under the desk drills as others have mentioned… A classmate had a newly constructed bomb shelter in her backyard.. fully stocked… interesting “playhouse” for two seven year olds!

            1. tegnost

              My cousins in melbourne had a shelter, ’68 or so
              One of my clearest childhood memories is of watching the saturn 5 go through the sky like little wooden matchstick from jacksonville

        2. mikkel


          “On 13 June 2002, the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty, and the following day, Russia announced that it would no longer consider itself to be bound by START II provisions. Both countries continued to pursue their objectives. Russia still retains 54 MIRV-capable RS-20/R-36M (SS-18 Satan) with 10 warheads each, 40 MIRV-capable RS-18/UR-100N (SS-19 Stiletto) with 6 warheads each and 24 MIRV-capable RS-24 Yars with 3 warheads each”

          Of course Tridents are MIRV, it appears the US only reduced ICBM MIRV…Tridents are still operational.

          1. JBird4049

            Honestly, I think some (groups) people believe that not only does the world exist just for them, they are to exceptional to fail, and if they do, somehow, why the whole world should be their funeral pyre. It is melodramatic to say this, but playing games with the treaties and agreements that got us through the Cold War is so something that I can’t think of what the description might be. An insanely solipsistic and nihilistic egotistical sadist? A Nietzschean Randian individualist with delusions of the philosophical? I mean really.

            1. The Rev Kev


              Actually your question deserves a better answer. Came across a quote a long time ago that I think about and it is this – ‘I told you once that I was searching for the nature of evil. I think I’ve come close to defining it: a lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants. A genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow man. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.’

              Maybe sociopaths describes this. These people, often to be found in governments and corporations, have no empathy and other people are only there to serve their wants & needs – and are then to be disposed of. Sometimes they blurt it out like when Biden said that he had no empathy for Millennials or Albright thought that 500,000 dead children were a price worth paying – for her. That is their brains on power.

              So now? These same people think that it acceptable to blow up the world’s economy and push it into a world-wide recession in order that they get their win against Russia so that it will no longer resist their advances. Then after Russia comes China. Then you will have a world order that will be ruled by their class and who will accumulate wealth like you would not believe. It will not be a law-based world but a rules-based world and they will be making up the rules and who it applies to – and it won’t be them. Just my take here.

        3. Joe Renter

          And as someone posted recently in comments, we can thank Obama for updating the nuclear war program when in office to the tune of 1.4 trillion, I think it was. Really disappointing that the movement to do away with nuclear arms has been reversed.

      2. AndrewJ

        I did a little back of the envelope calculation and came up with an average figure of one Russian nuclear warhead for every eight lateral miles of urban/suburban settlements in the US. Where I am, that’s one for Portland, one for Gresham, one for Beaverton, and so on…
        The lucky ones are going to be those that get vaporized.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Somebody did some calculations back in the 80s and worked out that if Chicago was nuked, that there would not be enough burn facilities in the entire country to deal with the survivors.

      3. Louis Fyne

        You don’t even need an ICBM. The Russians purposefully leaked a proposed very long-range torpedo w/a H-bomb warhead.

        Explode the H-bomb underwater off the Mid-Atlantic coast. The tsunami would wipe out everything along the chosen stretch of coast.

        And as a bonus, no sensors to detect the doomsday torpedo

        1. amechania

          The sub outside of Cuba in the 60’s had one aboard. (per Ellsburg’s report fromt the commanding officer)

          The range isn’t long range. It doesn’t have to be. It’s a suicide weapon.

          1. BlakeFelix

            I’m not sure about that. It definitely had nuclear ship killers, but I think that those were different kinds of nuclear torpedoes. Ship killers vs city killers, and I don’t remember it being a suicide weapon, although obviously I wouldn’t be writing any life insurance policies once the nukes start popping.

        2. Kendall

          How come we get to have a Monroe Doctrine, but Russia does not? Please vaporize the Democratic Party this fall, either with iconoclastic Democrats, like Tulsi, or Independents, or just vote straight Republican.

          p.s. Donald Trump Never Started One War, unlike every president since FDR.

          Whenever anyone complains about food, gas or living costs nearly doubling, ask them whom they voted for?

          1. K.k

            Ah yes, Trump just crumbled like a cheap suit under pressure and started sending the kind of heavy weapons to Ukraine which even Obomber was not willing. And lets also ignore the aggression faced by Syria from occupying American military personnel on their soil during the Trump admin. Or Trump after being elected immediately going and bowing before the Saudi family and increasing support for their war against Yemen which would not be possible without US support. I can go on. And if you think someone Tulsi would not be knee deep in military adventurism in the middle east and east Asia you have not been paying attention.

            1. orlbucfan

              Tulsi Gabbard is over-rated. She’s a Hindu Fundie, and any religious Fundie is a bad joke (moronic, too).

              1. flora

                She is a WEF Young Global Leader trainee/graduate, too. It’s a five year program the selected for inclusion person pays to join and attend.

    5. Glen

      What is most impressive to me is the American elites destruction of their own empire:

      Spend twenty plus years giving your technology, factories, and jobs to competing countries.
      Destroy your public education system all while telling everybody to learn how to be a technical geek.
      Bail out the biggest collection of crooks and financial fraud in world history and turn them loose on your own population.
      Perpetual tax cuts for the richest.
      Print trillions for mega corporations and distort your own economy beyond belief..
      And turn the world’s largest ever war machine loose on the rest of the world all while letting your own country fall into third world status.

      But I guess they all got rich and could care less about the rest of the us, or even the world.

      And today watching Biden pull a complete W – just do exactly what you enemies want you to do.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The elites are not “American,” except maybe for domicile (for tax purposes.) They are post- and Supra-national, as are the corporations they infest.

        Far as I can see, there ain’t no Americans as I understood the propaganda imagery growing up in the 50s and 60s.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Proclaim a no fly zone. If ICBMs can’t fly, then they can’t nuke the Hamptons!

            1. Wukchumni

              I feel fortunate in a way to be relatively close to Fresno, in that who in their right mind would waste a perfectly good nuke laden ICBM on it?

    6. Mesquite

      The absolute best defense against ICBMs is to not piss off other people who have them, and especially to not make them feel threatened. Something modern western society likes to gloss over when it comes to threatening to put Ukraine in NATO.

    7. scott s.

      The defense is 1 SLBM second strike, and 2 BMD. But current BMD capability is extremely limited.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Well, I said the latter, BMD, and how it is not much. I didn’t say the former (SLBM), because I was somewhat gobsmacked and assumed knowledge thereof, but also because I don’t think Mutually Assured Destruction was ‘defense’ in the sense he was using it.

  4. fresno dan

    Our illustrious medical billing system Part 4

    So, for background you can see my posting on 1/11/2022, 1/25/2022, and 1/29/2022
    So back in January I received a medical bill that sure looked sketchy. So it turns out it was a “real” company, that there were some references to real procedures that had been performed (admittance to hospital), but that the bill was paid by my insurance company and that there is a contractual agreement that I can’t be charged above that amount or by any separate entities once specific services had been accounted and paid for by my insurance company.

    So after quite a hiatus in getting bills from this company, yesterday I got another bill. At least procrastination has lowered the bill from 950$ to 200$. So I call the company and the person answering is of no help. She says she will have the owner call me. The owner calls me in a few minutes and is quite irate and tells me that the Fresno police have told her she is not comitting fraud and she will call the police about me if I call her company again. And one other thing – the name of the company she refers to is again, a different name (this time, NetBilling which is the first time I have heard that name used for this “company”)
    Hmmmm. Where to start…
    1. I have reported this outfit to the Ca attorney general, the postal inspector, the Medicare fraud site, and the Fresno police.
    2. As it turns out, I don’t actually live in Fresno city for purposes of reporting crime, so my report to the Fresno police was never “accepted” and therefor it was never investigated or acted upon by the Fresno police in any way. I was informed of this shortly after making the Fresno police report. I did not follow up with the Fresno county sherrifs office because I figured that I had reported it to enough people.
    3. So, completly PO’ed about this person threatening me with the police, I called the Fresno Sherrifs office. Long story short, as I haven’t sent them money, there is nothing they can do.

    So, as far as I can figure, waiting around has reduced the bill by 750$, so I might as well keep waiting around. Now, l don’t want to cheat anybody out of legal billing. But I have contacted the doctor’s bookkeeper and my insurance company, and they assure me that the admittance charges were paid in accord with contractual obligations.

    1. Lee

      “But I have contacted the doctor’s bookkeeper and my insurance company, and they assure me that the admittance charges were paid in accord with contractual obligations.”

      I recommend you ask for this in writing with copies of their relevant billing and payment documentation and forward it to the enforcement entities.

      1. fresno dan

        I can kick myself for being so stupid. I should have called my insurance company and asked them for an explanation of what was going on to begin with.
        1. Blue Cross Blue Shield is kinda like Medicare Part A (hospital) and Part B (doctor) – so Blue Cross is for hospitals and Blue Shield is for doctors – I did not know that. So somehow the billing company screwed up the procedure coding for doctors working in a hospital (HEY! I’m just reporting what they told me…I would think doctors working in hospitals is not TOO unusual…)
        2. This billing service gave me the wrong doctor’s name – hilarity ensued.
        3. This billing service apparently has a tough time submitting the correct billing codes.
        4. The second bill I got from this billing service was for 950$ – 650$ more than the current bill even if my insurance didn’t cover any of it. Why 650$ of billing disappears is unexplained – I’m exhausted so I am not going to pursue that.

  5. Tor User

    Wow, Poland. I thought that had about a 10% chance of happening. Though it has not happened yet.

    Reminds me of the Soviet Union sending Migs to North Vietnam to shoot down US aircraft. Sill Migs. Just Migs getting sent the other way.

    And the last sentence of the Polish announcement urging others to do the same.

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    I have run across a very interesting and very well written book called Entangled Life . . . . about fungus and non-fungus life forms and life form communities cross connections and mutual co-support, etc. Here is a link:

    And here is a review from the Guardian.

    And a long youtube video on the subject from the author, Rupert Sheldrake. I have not watched it but I suspect it is worth watching if it is as well done as the book is.


    1. Greg

      Merlin Sheldrake is doing good work on fungi, part of a resurgence in scientific interest that has been quite pleasing to see. I like to think that Suzanne Simard’s work on mycorrhical networks started the public rethinking of what place fungi hold in our world.

      His brother Cosmo (interesting family that) makes pretty good music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIyl9bCp6W4 including a recent album where he plays along with various endangered English birds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJHuJEookjM

    2. RobertC

      The New York Review Our Silent Partners reviewed by Zoë Schlange

      Money quote that led me to buy the book for my brother

      But Sheldrake is most interested in fungi’s other wonders—specifically, how they challenge our understanding of nonhuman intelligence and stretch the notion of biological individuality. Fungi infiltrate the roots of almost every plant, determining so much about its life that researchers are now asking whether plants can be considered plants without them. They are similarly interwoven throughout the human body, busily performing functions necessary to our health and well-being or, depending on the fungi’s species and lifestyle, wreaking havoc. All of this prompts doubts about what we thought we knew to be the boundaries between one organism and another.

  7. Pelham

    Re the Atlantic Council guy who advises us to walk to work, or whatever: He’s not alone, certainly. There seems to be this wide assumption among policymakers that the masses are spending their leisure hours joyriding or choosing to clog the roadways when perfectly reasonable mass transit is right at their doorsteps.

    1. hunkerdown

      Meanwhile, in Russia, from Louis Fyne’s RIA link below translated by Yandex, “Earlier on Tuesday, Putin signed a law on measures to support citizens and businesses in the face of sanctions.” Really makes you think about who the real enemy is.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That is so slack that. Vile even. Maybe Bangladesh should ask the Russians or the Chinese to send them those vaccines instead

  8. nippersdad

    Re: “Those insects!”

    Where does one apply for Havana Syndrome bennies? There was more bug than owlet in that recording, but the owlet sure sounded cute.

  9. Pelham

    From what I can tell by Googling, the manpower of Russia’s armed forces is about double the number of ours. I guess that’s why those urging the US to create a no-fly zone in Ukraine are wisely acknowledging this will pose at least the possibility of wider conflict and are insisting on immediate reactivation of the military draft. Oh, wait …

  10. Carolinian

    Ironically I think it may be the Defense Department that finally defends us from the war happy PMCs. After all they are the ones who would have to enforce a no fly zone even if the lunatic in chief orders them to do it. Unlike museum docents they probably have a better idea of what a nuclear war would be like. Also the air bursts over their base golf courses would interfere with weekend leisure time.

    At any rate with Russian oil now banned I just filled up my car–getting ready for the soon $6/gallon. My sweet Hyundai gets 42mpg+ on the highway so that’s some comfort.

  11. JohnA

    I see the White House wonderkid copywriters have coined the phrase Putin’s price hike for the rapidly increasing cost of fuel.

    Are Americans really gullible enough to swallow that?

    1. Screwball

      Hook, line, and sinker. And the best part – they want more war toys. No fly zones, more MIGs, you name it – because Putin. If you are not on board with that, you hate America and don’t deserve to live here.

      I guess we didn’t know how valuable 4 years of Russiagate would be. Are these people really that cunning? I can’t believe they are, but if that is the case, we are in deep shit.

    2. Pat

      National average gas prices
      Regular Mid-Grade Premium Diesel E85
      Current Avg. $4.173 $4.460 $4.739 $4.755 $3.580
      Yesterday Avg. $4.065 $4.362 $4.644 $4.614 $3.503
      Week Ago Avg. $3.619 $3.953 $4.229 $4.016 $3.185
      Month Ago Avg. $3.455 $3.796 $4.073 $3.835 $3.087
      Year Ago Avg. $2.774 $3.091 $3.360 $3.005 $2.390
      Gee, what happened a year ago?


    3. albrt


      I am pretty sure the Biden administration is intentionally driving prices as high as they can during these salad days of the anti-Putin mania (Springtime for Putin?).

      Then they will claim credit later this year when gas prices come down slightly as the recession starts to bite.

      1. Hepativore

        Now is the time for the US to invest heavily in switching to Dimethyl ether, an evironmentally-friendly synthetic fuel that can be a replacement for gasoline. It can be produced using the heat from nuclear reactors as process heat.

        (Yes, I know that it is from Daily Kos, but these are older articles from 2006 before the bloggers there completely lost it.)



        Still, I realize that the US is not the place that has the political will to do large scale projects like this anymore, as everything has to be made into a public-private partnership…not to mention that the fossil fuel lobbyists that donate heavily to our elected officials would never let their commodities be rendered obsolete.

        I think that our leadership’s response to skyrocketing gas prices will be the same thing as everything else within the past few decades…they will continue to put their fingers in their ears and pretend that everything’s fine while the majority of the populace falls into poverty or remains impoverished.

    4. Glen

      I think our current crop of wonder kids can best be described as dumber than these guys considering what they just did today:

      Exploding Whale 50th Anniversary, Remastered!

      In the Oregon DOT’s defense, this was just more than a little bit outside of their normal work, and the news reporting is refreshingly honest and exacting unlike our current MSM.

      The WH, and the State Department have far less of an excuse about how to handle the situation in Ukraine. Our own Russian/NATO foreign policy experts (as we have learned at NC) predicted this situation years ago.

      Just pray that your Cadillac isn’t crushed by the whale blubber the WH dynamited into our economy today.

  12. Skippy

    Ref – We have the most frivolous, delusional, and self-centered professional managerial class in the world:

    I’m reminded of a old NC post, way down the memory hole, that dealt with certain ideological perspectives which all neoliberal promoters adhered too. Mainly anyone in a position of wealth/power was innate[.] I referenced an European AET conference that was attended by top public and private administration people which were inform by the speakers that their social status was vindication of them being absolutely the right people in their rolls, work life and private life leaders over others.

    I migrated this bit from my comment @ Discerning Volodymyr Zelensky.

  13. Nikkikat

    I’m afraid they are gullible enough to believe it. At least enough of those that voted for Joe Biden. After all John, they will be the same people that want no fly zones and think all vodka comes from Russia.Critical thinking is not their strong suit.

      1. Screwball

        That’s terrible. Leave those people alone.

        I don’t know what is worse – the mass hate we see, or the fact people can be herded the way they are.

        Orwell would be proud.

    1. rowlf

      Jeez, I can’t believe how many people I interact with still think Russia is still communist. I can see how Non-Playable Character became a thing.

  14. Louis Fyne

    Putin signs retaliation sanctions after Biden’s Russian oil ban. The retaliations will be made public on Thursday..

    (In Russian) https://ria.ru/20220308/putin-1777185533.html

    anti-nuke activists might get their dream of fission reactors going dark as the US will still import Russian uranium even after the Biden sanctions.

  15. Watt4Bob

    I’ve heard students at University of Chicago are petitioning to cancel John Mearscheimer because of his talk;

    Why is Ukraine the West’s Fault

    This talk should be required viewing for undergrads, but instead of considering the possibility that they might not know what’s really going on, they’re shouting down someone who really does.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Check out the comments in yesterday’s Links. There was quite a discussion with someone defending these grad student’s right to free speech, and it’s nothing like McCarthyism at all.

      1. John

        I had not realized that free speech extended to demanding the disciplining of a professor for a talk he gave almost 7 years ago. It is an excellent exposition of context and history of the coup and places responsibility precisely where and why it belongs.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel


          These 5 Ukrainian Sounding Students merely want the Professor to state his views on Russia and disclose any Russian funding.

          See. Perfectly Legit. It’s their RIGHTS as students to petition their University!

          Nope. Not Disciplining at all! And certainly not Cancelation!

    1. Screwball

      What is going on seems to be the question. And there’s a whole bunch of things I would like to know what’s going on.

      Not just that.

    2. Pat

      If there are bio labs in Ukraine, I think we know who has been funding them. And who should have been worried about a Russian invasion before pushing them to invade.

      But this is Nuland so we can also go with the premise that “every word she writes says is a lie including the the and and…

      1. John

        The Russians have publicized documents relating to these bio labs and on the Saker website there is a video clip of a Russian general discussing those documents. You be the judge. It did not sound outrageous to me.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I’d been inclined to discount this, but Nuland’s admission and the USA Today’s non-denial denial sure seem to confirm the rumors about biolabs. You’d have to be quite the rube to believe that yes there are biolabs and there is an agreement between the USA and Ukraine about them, but these biolabs are just for defensive purposes. Surely any nasty buggers that might be found in these labs are only there so the US/Ukraine alliance could find an antidote for them. Some day. If they get around to it.

      Every single time I think I’m being too cynical…

    4. arte

      Oh, sure, we are supposed to believe THESE claims of WMD labs by a belligerent. Because nobody but the Americans would ever lie.

  16. rowlf

    Commuting today and listening to NPR running through their “Last Hospital In Aleppo” stories I decided my Ukraine Propaganda Bingo Card has a square on it marked “Russia bombs a pet store”.

  17. ambrit

    Just throwing this in here. The ultra-conservative religeous “press” is now going hard and heavy into “The End of Days” mode. Even the previously “moderate” religeous “press” that Phyl peruses has gone for this.
    The Uber Cynic in me jokes about this all being part of a ‘Cunning Plan’ hatched in an obscure office in the catacombs underneath the Vatican.
    So far, the Vatican has not released a definitive copy of “The Revelations of Gla’aki.” That’s all you need to know.

    1. Wukchumni

      It’s the end of days for about 150,000 each and every day, with 350,000 born as replacements and presumably they run into each other in passing.

      The real issue I see is a highly placed military officer with far right religious feelings that might provide for a self fulfilling prophecy to help armageddon along.

  18. 4paul

    OMG Lambert >I nearly stroked out when I saw this one. Paper airplanes? < … I screenshotted that!


    The US Department of Defense (nee War Department), in the decade of the 1980s, the US military funded video games and propped up the industry for more than a decade until the industry finally took off. The world is literally a video game.

    And yes Second Life still exists LOL.

    Yes, we (whether US-ians, or PMC, or whatever) think paper airplanes will save the world. No Fly zones save the world, thus sayeth Curtis LeMay (the movie Dr StrangeLove was a documentary (no I'm not kidding)) …

    Yes, the people whom God hath put in Authority over us believe everything that the Project For A New American Century tell them to believe. Victoria Nuland is married to a co-founder of the PNAC and a Kagan, I thought we fought a revolution against Europeans because the royal families were all inbred …

    I am at a loss, completely at a loss, to explain how we have gone so wrong after The Fall of the Berlin Wall. It should have been Pax Americana, but we have intentionally and systematically made the world worse than during The Cold War. The Michael Hudson article "America Shoots Its Own Dollar Empire in Economic Attack on Russia" is so spot on.

    1. rowlf

      Part of the lyrics from the Lords Of The New Church song Open Your Eyes (1982)

      Video games train the kids for war
      Army chic in high-fashion stores
      Law and order’s done their job
      Prisons filled while the rich still rob
      Assassination politics
      Violence rules within’ our nation’s midst
      Well, ignorance is their power tool
      You’ll only know what they want you to know
      The television cannot lie
      Controlling media with smokescreen eyes
      Nuclear politicians picture show
      The acting’s lousy but the blind don’t know

      1. LawnDart

        Fun band, and to complete their playlist I’d add:

        •Holy War
        •Russian Roulette

        A friend’s band got started well into “The Lord’s Prayer” (LOTNC-version) at church youth camp before power was cut to their amps and mics– they were my heros!

    2. John

      “completely at a loss, to explain how we have gone so wrong”

      The Greeks had a word for it, hubris.

  19. cocomaan

    Every month it’s some other catastrophic disaster these days. Has been since 2020.

    In January, nobody was talking Russia, it was all omicron. Exact opposite is going on now.

    What’s going to happen in April? Should we start taking bets?

    1. Tom Stone

      Don’t worry, we will be talking about catastrophic wildfires soon.
      The only County in the SF Bay Area not at high risk is San Francisco County.
      The other eight Bay Area Counties are a very different matter.
      As is most of the rest of California and the Southwest in general.
      It’s going to be an interesting Summer….

    2. LawnDart

      Covid will be forgotten (and will stay that way until we all can get a piece of Pi come August).

      Zelensky makes new home in Poland.

      Gas will be $10 in CA.

      Stock market at 20k.

      Economy goes rapidly into toilet.

      Airline consolidation as more go bankrupt.

      China sinks Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel (sending a message about coastal waters).

      Harris becomes (R)esident after Joe suffers mysterious seizures prior to public appearance…

  20. Tom Stone

    The NIH and NAIAD finally responded to “The Intercepts” FOIA suit requesting any documents relating to their relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology with a 314 page document dump!
    It didn’t take me long to read because the first 14 pages are partially redacted.
    And the next 300 pages are totally redacted.

    The stupidity is breathtaking at times.
    Several times a day, recently.

  21. Otis B Driftwood

    Remember when we all thought 2020 couldn’t be worse than 2019?

    Then remember how we said, ok, 2020 sucked, but 2021 is bound to be better?

    And remember how we then said, alright, 2021 was terrible, but this is it, 2022 is going to be better, it can’t possibly get any worse than this?


  22. Wukchumni

    I’m as guilty as the next joker making fun of Fresno and maybe I took it a little too far on occasion and the god of irony is smiting me, for I will be a Fresnan doing 30 days on jury duty in Federal court-which ought to be a blast, these are high powered cases, one of them being Donald Trump for President versus Alex Padilla et al.

    Gives me a raisin d’être…

  23. VietnamVet

    April 2022 is gasoline lines.

    Joe Biden bans importation of Russian oil. I remember Presidents Nixon’s and Carter’s energy crises and gas lines. Senator Joe Biden apparently wasn’t inconvenienced or has forgotten. I remember when Tom McCall, Oregon’s Governor, came up with odd even gas rationing. Back then, when politicians helped people not make life worse.

    It is not just that the chance of a nuclear war that has skyrocketed with the Ukraine Invasion or that natural gas prices rose by 16x in Europe; the whole neo-liberals scheme — globalization has had a stake driven through its heart.

    The meritocracy is a laughable scam. Except, the Western Elite will do anything and everything to keep the zombie scheme going. It is their identity, their rice bowl. But the western political economy is in its death rattles. The world is partitioned. The West is now the poor de-industrialized not quite dead half. Riff-raff lives will even tougher; too sick to work, freezing in winter, mortared and shot in wars, starving, displaced by wildfires, floods and storms. Lucky ones will be vaporized instantaneously.

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