2:00PM Water Cooler 4/12/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

This is Hawaiian Bird Week at Naked Capitalism. I confess I like this as an audioscape: There are cows, cars, and something splashes. There are also a lot of strange and interesting bird sounds. I wish I could tell you which ones were the (juvenile) loon!

* * *


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Capitol Seizure

“Jan. 6 Panel Has Evidence for Criminal Referral of Trump, but Splits on Sending” [New York Times]. “The leaders of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Donald J. Trump, even though they have concluded that they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said. The debate centers on whether making a referral — a largely symbolic act — would backfire by politically tainting the Justice Department’s expanding investigation into the Jan. 6 assault and what led up to it.” • This is always an issue when there are parallel Congressional and DOJ investigations. Did Pelosi not think this through when she set up the Committee?

Biden Adminstration

This’ll carry the day in the midterms, no lie:

There shouldn’t even be “medical debt” (except for things like botox or cosmetic surgery).

“Joe Biden’s ‘Cardboard Box’ Presidency” [Politico]. “It was a key theme of Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign, unstated but powerful, and a vivid contrast with the public-train-wreck incumbent: If elected, he was going to be boring. Promise kept…. But 18 months into Biden’s weekends-in-Wilmington, nana-and-pop, no-superspreader- events-at-the-White-House presidency, the drawbacks of that style are also becoming clear: A boring presidency is, um, boring. Which carries a political cost in a Permanent Washington that, for better or worse, thrills to displays of executive-branch social fireworks. It’s not just the boss, either. Biden’s coterie of insiders is not particularly newsy. Close aides like White House Counselor Steve Ricchetti could likely walk down a street without being recognized…. [T]he cumulative effect is downright disorienting in a place that treats presidencies as cultural eras as well as political ones. Nowhere was Biden’s implicit promise of dullness more popular than inside the Beltway, a place traumatized by Donald Trump. But it turns out that what the city wanted was less back-to-sleep than back-to-normal. And normal, in the folkways of political Washington, includes a number of things the locals find quite exciting: Presidential sightings at local restaurants! Zingers at black-tie banquets! Glamorous new aides, preferably with active social schedules and newsworthy romantic lives! Laugh if you will, but they’re all part of how an administration can command attention and project energy. An ideal chief executive, in this universe, might also introduce a new culinary trend or help popularize some unlikely author. A truly transformational one could kick-start a fashion, like the fedora-free JFK did. Ironically, Biden’s status as a veteran Washington hand may be responsible for the same things that are causing some of Washington’s own ennui.” • The press are little children. And they’re bored. “Mommy, I’m b-o-o-r-r-r-r-e-d.” Holy moley.

“Hunter Biden controversy explained” [The Hill]. “The Hunter Biden story is sufficiently murky that, if the radical right wing of the Republican Party takes control of the House of Representatives in November, it will no doubt turn this into a 24/7 political blood bath for Democrats.” • If Putin wants to be cheeky, he could sanction Hunter Biden.

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.

* * *

“Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme” [New York Times]. “Lt. Gov. Brian A. Benjamin of New York, the state’s second-in-command to Gov. Kathy Hochul, surrendered early Tuesday morning to face a federal indictment charging him with bribery, fraud and falsification of records in connection with a scheme to funnel illegal donations to a previous campaign. The five-count indictment accused Mr. Benjamin of conspiring to direct state funds to a Harlem real estate investor in exchange for orchestrating thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 campaign for New York City comptroller.” More: “A graduate of Ivy League schools, Mr. Benjamin, spent much of his career in banking and affordable housing development before winning a State Senate seat representing most of Harlem in 2017.” • Oh, I believe it.

The party of betrayal:

It’s unbelievable to me that Trump did better than Biden on Covid, but he did. And when Trump delivered the vaccines to Biden, Biden squandered the opportunity to buy time to beat Covid with a multilayered strategy that included NPIs and treatment with his “Vax-only” policy debacle, one that is still in place. If “squander” is not far too charitable. More from Stoller:

That’s hardly fair. One thing Democrats know how to deliver: Covid infections. To themselves (at the Gridiron Club) and also the rest of us. I mean, that’s what “live with Covid” means.


“Democrats need to run on the war” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. “Unfortunately, the Dems’ typical appeals don’t seem to be working. The Dems’ basic selling point is economic: Vote for us, and we’ll make sure you have a job and a social safety net. On the jobs part, Dems have certainly delivered (or at least stood back and refrained from interfering while the economy delivered). They should trumpet this achievement much more loudly and confidently. Currently, people don’t seem to realize how good the job market is. But if the actual fact of a booming job market hasn’t penetrated Americans’ consciousness yet, my guess is that Americans are simply expressing their general dissatisfaction with the economy. And it’s pretty clear what they’re mad about: Inflation. Or to be more precise, falling real wages.” Drumroll: “What else could Democrats run on? Well, if there’s one thing that unites Americans right now, it’s opposition to Vladimir Putin and his brutal invasion of Ukraine….. Dems can use this Putinist faction of the GOP as a foil, against which to contrast their own resolute and effective stand against Russian aggression. That is the kind of patriotic liberal narrative that broadly appeals to the American electorate. In fact, there’s a historical precedent for this sort of messaging: World War 2….. So Dems should amp up the Ukraine war, and the struggle against Russian aggression, in their midterm messaging.” • RussiaGate continues to pay dividends (meaning, that if the Democrats pull 2022 out of the fire, they will owe the intelligence community big time.

Our Famously Free Press

“The Defense Industry’s Ukraine Pundits” [The Lever]. “With stories about Russia’s invasion dominating the news, networks have had tons of pundit slots to fill. Those spots have largely gone to high-ranking ex-military officials, who often find lucrative careers in the influence industry working on behalf of defense contractors — and who tend to spout hawkish rhetoric that aligns with how corporate media generally covers conflict. Most of the time, however, the networks have failed to divulge how such martial bombast could aid these former officials’ private-sector employers.” • Ka-ching. The wonderful thing about our coming victory in Ukraine is that it will empower the best that there is in our society.

“The Race to Archive Social Posts That May Prove Russian War Crimes” [Wired]. ““Capturing social media from Ukraine is an incredible source of evidence,” says Alex Whiting, deputy prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in the Hague, and a visiting professor at Harvard University. A deluge of TikTok and Telegram posts could vastly increase the amount of evidence of alleged Russian war crimes—but they will only aid prosecutions if judges accept such material in court. War crime cases are usually built with witness testimony, documents, and conventional forensic evidence, but all are hard to collect after the chaos of war. Open source investigation methods that combine clues across social posts and other sources could fill crucial gaps, says Whiting. But they have rarely featured in such cases to date, and material posted by persons unknown has been seen as unreliable and at risk of manipulation. Rabomizo and others working on the conflict in Ukraine, including open source investigators at Bellingcat, believe they can change that with new, more rigorous protocols and technology for archiving posts. “Ukraine will probably be the first time open source evidence will be tested extensively in court,” says Nadia Volkova, director of the Ukrainian Legal Advisory Group. She’s been helping Rabomizo and others document potential war crimes through an alliance of Ukrainian human rights organizations called the 5AM Coalition, named for the moment on February 24 that the first explosions rocked Kyiv.” • Putting a CIA cutout like Bellingcat, along with a gaggle of Ukraine operatives, in charge of the archives is a lot like the CIA building backdoors into encryption algorithms. Nothing about any such archives should be trusted, because like anything else the spooks touch, it will all be about “perception management.”

UPDATE “Please Just Throw Me a Bone with the Wesleyan Argus Controversy” [Freddie DeBoer]. ” You have to understand this to understand our media class: the number one priority in their entire lives, above and beyond literally any other, is to earn insider status with other people in media. That’s it. That is their lodestar, their true north. They want other people in media to see them as cool and smart and fuckable, and most of all they want to have the right opinions, the opinions that the group doesn’t laugh at. The mirror image of the desperation to be considered cool is the intense, all-consuming fear of being made fun of by cool people in media. Look at the way they write, report, communicate with each other; these people are absolutely terrified that someone’s going to take something they say and hold it up for mockery on Twitter. This seems to me to be pretty much exactly the opposite attitude you should want among writers and journalists, who literally can only perform their function when they are pissing most people off. But that’s the professional culture of media, a culture defined by the fear of being made fun of. And that’s why, when these debates go down, they never, ever say “well this scenario wasn’t ideal, I agree, but….” They can’t admit exceptions. Demonstrating themselves to be good and upstanding members of the in-crowd to which they relentlessly aspire forces them to deny the very notion of an exception.” • A Keynesian Beauty Pageant? With all the social ills of the pageant world?


Iowa Primary (1): “Drop Iowa. Make DC first” (locked) [Noah Berlinsky, The Editorial Board]. • I can’t get in, but I think the headline does it. Interesting idea. Would give DC residents the power to be the sans culottes they always should have been.

Iowa Primary (2):

Clinton Legacy

UPDATE Why not build on the Democrat reputation for strength in foreign policy by electing the person who lit the fuse for war with Russia in 2016?

For those who came in late, this is from the New York Times archive of Russian memes that supposedly switched caused Clinton’s loss:

I mean, come on.

Health Care

Nice get:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Was the Infiltration of the Secret Service Part of an Iranian Plot to Kill John Bolton?” [The Tablet]. The headline is the agenda, fine, fine. But the detail: “The nature of Taherzadeh and Ali’s activities in Washington, D.C., is certainly suggestive of an intention to infiltrate the U.S. Secret Service. Starting in February 2020, according to the affadavit filed in support of the arrest warrants, they worked out of a building in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., in the fashionable Navy Yard district that is home to federal agents, congressional aides, and other government employees. Falsely representing themselves as agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the two men provided Secret Service agents—including agents connected to President Joe Biden’s security detail—as well as a DHS employee with rent-free apartments each worth more than $40,000 per year. According to the April 5th arrest warrant, they provided Secret Service agents with iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat-screen television, a generator, and what they said were “official government vehicles.” They also proposed buying an assault rifle for a Secret Service agent assigned to First Lady Jill Biden. It seems odd that these actions barely raised the suspicions of the numerous federal agents living in the building. Taherzadeh told one DHS employee in the building that he had a list of all of the federal agents in the apartment complex, along with codes to the elevators that gave him access to every floor, and surveillance footage from around the building. After the DHS employee tried to verify that the two men worked for the agency by searching internal DHS databases, Taherzadeh said that his name was redacted due to his undercover status. But as the DHS employee might have known, had Taherzadeh really been working undercover, it’s unlikely he would’ve identified himself as an undercover agent—or shown building residents his tactical gear, surveillance equipment, and a high-powered telescope, as well as a handgun he claimed had been issued by a U.S. agency. •  But what if — just spitballing here — Taherzadeh and Ali’s behavior was, in their milieu, completely normal? What if our organs of state of security are staffed up with people who are crazy as loons and corrupt to the bone?

“Give War A Chance” (excerpt) [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. • A fine dissection of the PMC’s war boner that ends on a curiously equivocal note: “For most of the nineties living in Russia, I found myself gaining an appreciation for America. I thought: ‘As messed up as our country is, at least you can’t openly pay bribes in court, and people aren’t often boiled alive when hot water pipes burst under sidewalks.’ Then I went home not long after 9/11 and, watching George Bush, soon found myself missing Russia, thinking: “At least Boris Yeltsin was too busy drinking and stealing to try to conquer the planet.” Now the worst of both worlds are on a collision course. People like Igor Strelkov are shouting the Russian equivalent of ‘Bring it On’ to the free-worlders, and armchair warriors like Robert Kagan are shouting their own provocations back. God save us from people who dream big, without the brains to match.” • I mean, General Jack D. Ripper was on the wrong side. Unequivocally.


“Herd immunity now seems impossible. Welcome to the age of Covid reinfection” [Devi Sridhar, Guardian]. “Relying on herd immunity to manage Covid-19 rather than on the strategies of east Asian countries to suppress it until a vaccine was available was a gamble that Britain took early in March [if gamble it was] and unfortunately lost. Especially given the presence of variants, Sars-CoV-2 will just keep circulating and reinfecting people…. the problem we face has shifted from mass mortality to a question of how to keep essential services and workplaces running.” We hope. “As a group of fellow scientists and I suggest in a new paper for Nature Medicine (REF), several steps can help manage this seemingly intractable situation. First, governments must use the triad of testing, therapeutics (in particular, rapid antiviral pills) and vaccines to manage Covid-19 and replace the cruder non-pharmaceutical interventions of 2020 with scientific progress…. Second, rapid response plans must be prepared in order to react to a gamechanging new variant which could alter the trajectory of the pandemic, just as Alpha, Delta and Omicron did…. Third, rapid testing to detect infectiousness and one-way masking should continue to be used to protect those most at risk of infection…. Finally, long Covid hasn’t received the attention it deserves.” • Sridhar thinks “crude” is a pejorative. I think “crude” implies rugged, reliable, and cheap, unliike high tech medicine. Further, what’s “crude” about fixing ventilation systems so they don’t spread lethal pathogens? Why on earth is Sridhar turning her nose up at that?

If you missed it, here last week’s post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

Uh oh. (For fans of seasonality, I added grey bars at the starting points of previous peaks. Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

The South extends the right hand of good fellowship to the Northeast, and the national case count (which is certainly underestimated) trends up,

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.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

As I said on 4/8: “Too soon for a Fauci line? I’d give it a week.” I was too conservative. As usual, the crisis of the past is the normal of the present.

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.

For grins, here is the national biobot data:

Same message as in case counts.

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

The Northeast isn’t looking too good. I wonder how many Gridiron Club attendees took the Acela home the following morning? Every so often I think of doing away with this chart, and then there’s another flare-up. Hello, Santa Barbara County in California! I remember using the metaphor of flying coals in a forest fire — many land, but sputter out; a few catch, and the first spreads. What I notice about this round of flare-up is that the “coals” are the size of multiple counties, not, as previously, single ones. FWIW! (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. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

Continuing slow improvement as the map shifts from mostly red to mostly yellow (assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered). However, look at the Northeast, which remains stubbornly red. It looks like “personal risk” brain genius Fauci bought into CDC’s “community level” metric, which paints (and is designed to paint) the whole country green. Had Fauci used community tranmission he would have seen this (probably):

(I say “probably” because CDC’s time lapse feature is broken at this writing, so I can’t roll the map back to the date of the Gridiron Club superspreading debacle, which Fauci attended. However, I believe from other sources that DC’s tranmission level has been worrisome for some time.)

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Again, I don’t like these sudden effloresences of yellow and orange. I don’t care that the baseline is low. 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: 1,012,461 1,011,112. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Even if the numbers have gone down, they’re still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US accelerated to 8.5% in March of 2022, the highest since December of 1981 from 7.9% in February and compared with market forecasts of 8.4%. Energy prices increased 32%, namely gasoline (48%) and fuel oil (70.1%) as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushed crude oil prices higher. Also, food prices jumped 8.8%, the most since May 1981.” • I could wish that Vicky and Tony’s Excellent Adventure led to a mid-term loss for Democrats driven by inflation, followed by a purge of the State Department and the victory of realism…. But that’s not the stupidest possible outcome, so it won’t happen.

Business Optimism: “United States NFIB Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States declined for a 3rd straight month to 93.2 in March of 2022, the lowest since April of 2020, from 95.7 in February. The percentage of owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased to -49%, the lowest level on record. Inflation is seen as the most important problem by 31% of business owners, the biggest share since the first quarter of 1981.”

Economic Optimism: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US increased to 45.5 in April of 2022 from 41 in March which was the lowest reading since October 2013, as inflation could start slowing soon. Still, pessimism maintained its grip for an eighth straight month. While economic confidence may have bottomed in March, as gas prices spiked following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, household financial stress hit the highest level since April 2020, at the outset of the pandemic.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Amazon Drone Crashes Hit Jeff Bezos’ Delivery Dreams” [Bloomberg]. • That’s a damn shame.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 46 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 12 at 2:23pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that

“We Don’t Deserve Dogs”

“The best boy in the world”:

Cats don’t sigh, a point in their favor.

The Gallery

“Reexamining the Wilderness Aesthetic” [The Met]. “Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow, painted in 1836, was a view from the top of Mount Holyoke, looking southwest to the Oxbow, which is a section of the Connecticut River just south of Northampton, Massachusetts. And it’s regarded as one of the most iconic landscapes painted by an American artist. In this work Cole made many breakthroughs. He introduced the panoramic view of the landscape, which would become a signature for the later Hudson River School painters. He also introduced a shocking bifurcated scene of wilderness on one side and settled land on the other. The left side is elevated, the wilderness side, and it’s very lushly painted. And then you look far below, down into the valley, and you see very aggressive cultivation of the landscape. On the distant mountain, you see direct signs of clear-cutting deforestation going on. And then of particular interest is that he introduces himself in a very distinctive self-portrait, where he gazes directly out at the viewer.” • Very interesting (though I think the authors are better art critics than they are social critics).

The curls look like the curls in Jupiter’s beard:

This glorious bull is not, I think, a Third World, working bull.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Live Updates: 16 People Are Injured, Including 10 Shot, in Attack on Brooklyn Subway” [New York Times]. “At around 8:24 a.m., as the train pulled into the 36th Street Station in the Sunset Park neighborhood, the man, who was wearing a construction vest, put on a gas mask before firing shots that hit people on the train and the nearby platform, said Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. The Fire Department said that five people were in critical condition, but none of them had suffered life-threatening injuries.” • Just remember there’s never a second shooter….

News of the Wired

“The Amateur Radio Operators Preparing for the Worst” [The Atlantic]. “The advantages of ham radios in a disaster situation are twofold: They’re free from large infrastructure, and they’re incredibly flexible bits of technology. ‘An emergency operation system might need a big generator to keep things going, but we can get by with batteries or solar power,’ Corey explains. If a natural or man-made disaster takes out power, Internet, or phone lines, “We can do global communications with nothing between the two systems but ether….. Volunteering is in many ways at the heart of ham radio. There’s no commercial aspect to the hobby—hams aren’t paid for their work. There’s a reason thousands of hams across the nation spend their time helping out at bike events or to do disaster drills: They need to make themselves present to demonstrate just how essential their skills really are. The average person doesn’t like dwelling on the worst-case scenario. But when and if one happens, the most dedicated hams will be ready, radios in hand, to turn a quirky hobby into a network of lifesavers.” • Ham radio sounds Jackpot-ready. Something to learn, or (like plumbing) encourage your children to learn.

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From the Nation via Bob or Janet:

Don’t try this at home!

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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. jo6pac

    The below is really funny. joe b. doj is the same as obombers eric (the) holder. In do nothing but provide the department with good PR.

    “Justice Department’s expanding investigation into the Jan. 6 assault and what led up to it.” •

    Yes cat sigh but only do it when their humans are out of sight;-)

    1. anon y'mouse

      they do something more effective, usually.

      they do the Borehole Stare. it’s something like the Vulcan Mind Meld, but more annoyed.

    2. Yves Smith

      Oh, my cat Blake, who was able to terrify adults (he ran off two adult men as well as later a cleaning woman and had her replacement cowed too) didn’t bother with sighs. He was either happy and very affectionate (most of the time) or in “WTF, fix this NOW” mode. One of his favorite gambits when he was young was to find plastic, any plastic, and start chewing it. The next phase, if I didn’t intervene and placate him, was that he’d swallow the plastic, which he would promptly barf up, which was not very good for anything on the floor.

      Later when he was feeble (and in fairness dying of cancer, he held out a long time), he’d let me know he was pissed by my having gone out of town and leaving him with only the young cat that he generally didn’t like much by pissing, ostentatiously, either on or behind my desk while I was working.

  2. Samuel Conner

    Eyeballing the “Case Counts” chart, it looks to me like the waves tend to be separated by 4-5 months (peak to peak time interval). The last wave peaked in mid-January. Is it implausible to think that we are in another wave that will peak in the mid-May to mid-June time frame?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Is it implausible to think that we are in another wave that will peak in the mid-May to mid-June time frame?

      I don’t think it’s implausible at all. I know some people who are getting their travel out of the way by the end of this month, and I think that is a very good idea.

      I am but a simple tape-watcher, and if you look at November – January of this year, you see a weird pattern of dips with a long plateau before the enormous take-off began (I think I whinged about “fiddling and diddling” during the plateau). If indeed there is such a thing as a “vaccine wall” (even if it erodes quickly) then we could see a similar pattern this time.

      That said, I’m seeing a lot of anecdotes, and the sewage data isn’t encouraging at all.

  3. digi_owl

    What if our organs of state of security are staffed up with people who are crazy as loons and corrupt to the bone?

    Should have been clear ever since the Vietnam war. Federal agencies exist in large part to let “warriors” live out their power trip dreams.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      The first time you hear of it, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms sounds like so much fun.

    1. hemeantwell

      Our cat doesn’t sigh, but has a sorta sagging Homer (Simpsons) meow he makes as he turns away when pleas for more whatever are refused. Makes up for the lack of eyebrows.

  4. truly

    “We Don’t Deserve Dogs”.
    Dogs sigh or yawn as a method of relieving tension or stress. Often when two new dogs are introduced to each other the will sigh to signify to the other that they mean no harm. Watch closely- they often sigh or yawn and look away from each other. Like they are saying “no big deal man, I am chill”.
    If only we could get our foreign policy leaders to do some sighing and yawning….

    1. digi_owl

      But if they do they risk getting stabbed in the back by their own for showing weakness…

    2. ChrisPacific

      Our dog used to huff a couple of times and then sneeze right before a bout of aggrieved barking if she was frustrated about something (usually either that she was prevented from going where she wanted, or people weren’t playing with her). It was consistent enough that we learned to interpret a sneeze as ‘I am about to give you a piece of my mind.’

  5. Pat

    Anecdotal, but if the information in my immediate circle holds for the region, NY has gone into overdrive, infection wise. For instance my friend works in an environment where you cannot avoid or distance from people. They have been diligent about masking. They got sick and tested positive the end of last week. The latest news from her job is that five others are now positive. That is half the number of Covid positive out at any one time during the last surge. And they got there from their average 1 or lower in a week.

    And masking is becoming almost non-existent, although today’s bus ride everyone had a mask although one guy thought it was for covering his beard. That is a better average than I have been seeing. Maybe it is because the passengers skew older, and know to be worried. But I would not be so sure.

    Either way I’m betting Fausti Fauci is going to miss his estimate of the next surge being in the fall by about four months.

    1. harrybothered

      Oh gods. I’m travelling upstate next week to visit family, flying from San Francisco to Rochester. I put it off due to Omicron. Sounds like there never will actually be a good time in the foreseeable future.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I’m travelling upstate next week to visit family, flying from San Francisco to Rochester.

        If you must, then my advice — worth the $0.02! — is to get travel out of the way now. Nothing to gain by waiting, and potential downside is big.

        Also, my view — this is speculation, not supported by data — is that the route from your home to the jetway (and the reverse) is more dangerous than the plane itself. The plane is, at least, a controlled environment that you can prepare for. But from home to jetway, there is the transport to consider, and then the airport itself is a Petri dish where you wait in untold lines, risk fecal plumes in the facilities, etc. etc. etc.

  6. Toshiro_Mifune

    Currently, people don’t seem to realize how good the job market is.

    I said this on a previous news item. If all your data is saying something is “X” but a load of people who have experience with “X” are saying it is “X-12” maybe you should re-examine your data.

    1. Synoia

      I exam the data sources first….lookin for multiple independent sources. A bit like measure twice and cot once.

    2. jsn

      The official stats have normalized crap jobs.

      The crap jobs market is hot!!

      How come everyone thinks the economy is crap when there are so many crap jobs? Neoliberalism really does damage its beneficiaries brains.

    3. Mikel

      There are loads of resumes probably being discarded by algorithms for all kinds of BS reasons. That’s my thought on the claim – if it is supposed to be that many good openings out there.
      Until they get some human HR into the nitty gritty on the searches, it’s going to stay a mess.

      And I’m equating “good job market” with jobs that pay a living wage and benefits.

  7. diptherio

    It’s astounding to me that Noah can actually write this twaddle. You would think that mentioning falling real wages right after claiming that the job market is great (people are just too dumb to realize it) might make him stop for a second and think, ‘wait a minute…something isn’t adding up here.’ But no. And then to top off his idiocy he suggests we “amp up the Ukraine war,” which I take to mean encouraging more death and destruction in that country. What is wrong with this guy?

      1. Pelham

        Does a supremely precarious gig job really count as a genuine job? Maybe not. If so, Dems tooting their horns on the economy or job creation are likely to find it backfiring on them.

    1. Skippy

      Wellie he does partake of – an advocate of micro economics, so you’ll get that ditherio …

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      and this!:”…Americans seem to be in a mindset of scarcity right now — so worried about government benefits going to undeserving people that they’re willing to cancel benefits for themselves. In any case, whether because of the child tax credit’s unpopularity or its cancellation — or because of other factors entirely — Dems have lost their polling advantage among recipients of the tax credit:…”

      snorting all that powder they been keepin dry….
      i know for certain that no one near power ever asked me about all this unpopularity of free money… and “benefits”(i don’t really even know what that means anymore).

      earlier, he explains the senate as rural=more representation, ergo senate=republican…as if it is a natural phenomenon…like gravity or the strong and weak forces…
      dems lost this very rural area due to one thing: the last clinton farm bill.
      no gravity well of some passing asteroid caused that…they did.
      because “the bond market!!”

      but lets be more warmongering than the frelling gop!
      bloodthirsty soccer moms must be accommodated!

      once again, i withdraw my consent…and whatever support remaining in my set of habits and tics.
      i’m ashamed to be an american.

  8. Mildred Montana

    >Biden’s “boring” Presidency

    Yeah, makes me pine for the philandering ways of JFK* and his dalliances with Marilyn Monroe and the girlfriend of a mobster. /sarc

    *Btw, anybody notice that presidents are no longer fondly referred to by their initials? LBJ seems to have been the last. Did 1968 mark a cooling in the relations between the people and their President?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      That snippet reminds me of an author I heard somewhere (maybe someone around here knows, maybe I’ll look it up later) whose thesis is that the press and, hence the country since there’s no longer anyone looking out for the little guy) when to crap when “journalism” became a “profession”. In an earlier time, reporters tended to come from blue collar backgrounds, you learned the investigation ropes on the streets and your editor helped polish your writing. Rather than the journalists today hoping to hang out with the cool kids and get invited to the best parties, some actually took it on themselves to upset their “betters”. Poke them in the eye via a well placed article. Maybe this is too much “good old days”, but I think there’s something to this analysis.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Yes, you’re right — re: professional class dweebs in journalism.

        For that reason, I started an independent, online newspaper last week here in SE Mass. So far over 130 subscribers, so I’m hitting a niche, I think.

        And have already ruffled local economic and political elites’ feathers! (if I do say so myself).

    2. Darius

      It is boring when you’re inert. Not so boring for people whose lives are slowly collapsing.

    3. Jeff Z

      Or maybe, the initials for Richard M. Nixon just do not flow off the tongue so readily – RMN?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > anybody notice that presidents are no longer fondly referred to by their initials?

      We seem to have gone to numbers: 42* (Clinton), 43 (W), 44 (Obama)… then a mysterious lacuna….

      But now that I think of it, we don’t seem to call Biden 46. Hmm.

      NOTE * The “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,” ironically enough

      1. Tom Doak

        Yes, he sounds like the voice of reason. So obviously he will be denounced as Putin’s puppet, like all the rest of those namby pamby neutral Swiss, who wouldn’t even fight Hitler. /s

  9. JohnH

    Re: Rapid Risin’

    I’ve watched with personal interest the appearance of the county where I live (Champaign county IL, home to the U of IL) a couple weeks ago. The only blip of rapid risin’ red in the whole state, immediately after resumption of class after spring break. Soon after, McLean Co to our NW lit up as well, home to IL State University.

    I perchanced to notice today Dane County in WI, location of UW Madison. And I do believe that’s Washtenaw Co Michigan, home to U of MI Ann Arbor.

    1. ChiGal

      actually I noticed earlier this week that Cook County and several adjoining counties are now in the red.

      it was orange for the longest and I was waiting for it to drop into yellow to get my hair cut and MAYBE start going to the gym (at the University of Chicago they required everyone to be vaxed and boosted which in my mind somewhat mitigates that since March 1 no one is wearing masks).

      instead we went up to red :-(

      1. CGKen

        I work at the university at the opposite side of the city and got a news email today with the headline, “What’s next? Senior leaders address life after the pandemic.”

        So rest assured that on the north shore we’ve beaten COVID and it certainly won’t be coming back!

    2. Bart Hansen

      On the Rapid Rising map that country in central VA worries me. I looks like Albemarle, my county, but I will blame it on the UVA students who live in C’ville city but due to their trips to the numerous wineries and breweries near me in Alby County are probably to blame.

      Which is it Lambert?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        UVA students don’t go that far at least in numbers. Foxfields is coming up, but it’s natty light and keystone. I’m sure cohn’s still takes damaged out of state ids.

    3. GramSci

      Arlington County and Alexandria have been off the wastewater charts since April 8. I expect Friday’s report will be worse but totally ignored by Biden, Blinken and Blob.

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    The “medical debt reforms” that we have been waiting for with bated breath:

    From the underlying explanatory “Fact Sheet”:

    Two bullet points:

    Reduce the role that medical debt plays in determining whether Americans can access credit – which will open up new opportunities for people with medical debt to buy a home or get a small business loan;

    Help over half a million of low-income American veterans get their medical debt forgiven;

    People here sometimes write about not seeing a difference between liberals and the left, or about how the categories are so ancient, so hard to tell apart in this modern age.

    These bullet points are perfect examples of U.S. liberalism. Manage one’s debt so that the markets for real estate will not be disturbed. Because as we all know, liberals want markets to be self-correcting (oh, with maybe an occasional nudge). The nihilism-lite mainstream of the U.S. right believes that markets and the bible are inerrant.

    Leftists beg to differ. Health care is a human right, and people should not be receiving advice from the government about how to “manage” an exploitive system. Get rid of the system and the debt.

    1. Mark K

      Oh, come on. You’re not giving the libs enough credit. The real showstopper is bullet point 4:

      Inform consumers of their rights.

      That is to say, do nothing to expand citizens’ rights.


    2. ChiGal

      kind of like that CDC “psa” saying get the vax now to avoid those astronomical hospital bills.

      so many things upside down and sideways in this picture.

  11. Andrew Watts

    RE: Democrats need to run on the war

    The American public has a short attention span and won’t care until it affects their bottom line. I don’t know about anybody else, but most of the people I know who were hyped about Ukraine have stopped paying attention.

    The Republicans can just remind everybody which party plunged the country into unwinnable quagmires that were unnecessary outside of the insecurities of the people involved. You know, like Korea, Vietnam, and the various attempts at regime change in Cuba. Nor should they fail to remind people that more recent failures in living memory were strictly bipartisan affairs.

    That’ll be a fun debate to have discussing which party has caused more damage to America.

      1. johnherbiehancock

        We are… The Leaders and Best… at generating traceable COVID in the wastewater of Washtenaw county!

    1. Darius

      CDC has to figure out how to suppress wastewater testing. People might see that COVID is still raging.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > CDC has to figure out how to suppress wastewater testing

        That’s why I am very grateful we have the commercial biobot data, even if it is scattered.

    1. Yves Smith

      Can’t confirm, but I was told in my 8th grade history class that the reason the Irish potato famine was a big deal was that if you had to eat only one thing, you’d last the longest on a potatoes-only diet. More nutrition than other starches.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that I read a long time ago (would have to look it up) that you could feed a family on a patch of land which you could never do if that same patch of land had been planted with wheat instead.

      2. skippy

        A huge part of the problem was they grew the easiest verity everywhere to feed themselves with less labour time. Sadly it was also not very robust and when the potato plague came it wiped everything out due to monoculture. Had they only done like the Mexicans et al with corn.

  12. Dr. John Carpenter

    Ham radio stuff is fascinating. I grew up around it as my dad and grandfather were both operators. The idea that he could talk via Morse code to people so far away (pre-Internet, mind you) blew my young mind. It’s something I kind of wish I’d shown more interest in as a youth.

    Though I’m not a prepper, it really is the ultimate form of prepper conversation. I believe Hams are still needed in natural disasters as you can hand crank a radio and communicate even if everything else is down. Old, stable and simple tech, not dependent on microchips or cloud service. Good stuff.

    1. super extra

      I have a ham in the neighborhood… know their presence by the extra antennae on their house. Sometimes many. My guy has something like 5 in his yard and on his roof, one in 20-30ft height range.

    2. herman_sampson

      Not a ham, but know a little: they early adopters of digital communication (over the air) ( with expensive, high powered transceivers), but can also still use code or voice over low power, inexpensive equipment. I’ve kept a couple of CB radios as a future project to convert to 10 meter, but I need license first. Solar power and a long wire antenna and you are Jackpot ready.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i keep mine(and other assorted electronic things) in a stack of old microwaves in the corner of the shop, with all the power cords hardwired to a big copper ground rod.
        po folks faraday cage.

    3. Laura in So Cal

      Yes, super interesting. I was reading a work of fiction and one of the characters was a Ham. I remembered that my husband’s stepfather was a ham and volunteered for Search and Rescue duties in the Cascades. I decided to spend some time learning about it and found myself on the arrl.org website reading about licensing requirements etc. AND then every time I got online, I got ham radio equipment advertisements for days.

    4. hunkerdown

      I’m gonna disagree with Lambert on “not commercial”. There are a lot of consumers in the amateur radio hobby these days. Aside from antennas, home-built rigs are rare. I did hear one enterprising operator on the local radio club’s repeater who claimed to be talking to us via his home-built digitally synthesized and modulated transmitter. That’s not an outrageous claim, but it requires a certain amount of love to put that kind of rig together.

      Locally, the bulk of the VHF repeater traffic has moved to Internet-assisted digital modes and proprietary handheld transceivers with patented compression chips and proprietary repeaters. That’s not quite the same as hooking two radios together with a handful of circuitry and creating infrastructure.

      1. Thistlebreath

        Wifey and I are both operators. Highly recommend. Here’s some good advice we got from an all around good guy here in SoCal who gave an all day class followed by the exam. Entire class passed. This is the fellow who advises search and rescue and wildland fire large animal evac. squads.

        “For a mobile rig, an inexpensive but nice one (I have two of these and several friends have them), I like the BTECH mobile radios. I have a BTECH 25X4, which puts out 10W (low power) or 25W (high power, and does that on 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm (tri-band) – the 4 implies a forth band… but it’s 300MHz, so useless for hams.

        The cost is going to be less than $200. Sometimes there are flash sales on Amazon and/or BTECH. I prefer to order through Amazon – the price is the same, but Amazon’s return policies are better for Amazon Prime members.

        Or, you can get the BTECH 25X2 (just 2m and 70cm) or even the 50X2 (higher power version).

        I like the Ed Fong DBJ-1 for a base antenna, and the Comet SBB2 for a mobile. I don’t like mag mounts because the scratch the paint and don’t perform very well.

        I do not like to use a handheld in the car because there are too many attachments (power, microphone, antenna, adaptors…) that have to go on and off each time you remove it and install it. The charm of a mobile rig, or a base rig, is that they’re ready to go all the time. I only use handhelds when I need to be out of the car, out of the house, and can’t set up on a table. If I do have a table, I prefer to use the the mobile rig and a battery sitting on the table. and for an antenna, I like to use the Ed Fong DBJ-1 on a tripod so I can get it up 10 ft or so.

        From home, you’ll need a power supply, which could be a battery. In the car, you power it from the car battery. I like using a battery at home, something small that I can easily recharge either from the mains or another battery, something small enough to move around to where I need power. When I have power, I can use a power supply that converts 110VAC to 13VDC.”

        So, there you go. Get radio-active!

  13. Verifyfirst

    Here is more info about Covid increases at University of Michigan–starting from a low base, it must be said:

    After winter lull, COVID-19 cases surging at University of Michigan


    I was please to see this article below “above the fold” on CNN’s website yesterday, if only for 12 hours (ventilation):

    This invisible Covid-19 mitigation measure is finally getting the attention it deserves


  14. edwin

    Mark Ames
    Head of Ukraine’s largest opposition party arrested, handcuffed, humiliating photograph publicly shared by Ukraine’s president. All signs of a healthy European democracy.

    Christopher Miller
    · 58m
    !! President Zelensky just published this photo of Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin pal and Ukrainian pro-Russian politician, cuffed and dressed in Ukrainian uniform. He says the security service nabbed him in a “special operation.” He had been on the run after breaking house arrest.
    Show this thread


    1. Michael Ismoe

      Head of Ukraine’s largest opposition party arrested, handcuffed, humiliating photograph publicly shared by Ukraine’s president. All signs of a healthy European democracy.

      And now you see Merrick Garland’s conundrum.

    2. Polar Socialist

      The weirdest part is that Zelensky is offering to swap him for some Ukrainian POWs.

      Only way that makes any sense is to think than any opposition to government, past or future, is considered to be the same as being a Russian.

    3. Richard B

      Zelensky himself was elected on a platform of peace with Russia. Should he handcuff himself for betrayal of Ukrainian people maybe?

  15. John

    “What if our organs of state of security are staffed up with people who are crazy as loons and corrupt to the bone?”
    I get it…rhetorical question.
    I spent 3 yrs in Army intelligence in VietNam era. Crazy as loons, corrupt to the bone. It could only have gotten worse.

  16. johnherbiehancock

    Ugh, my dad was a Ham radio …enthusiast. I have sort of painful memories of him picking me up from soccer or football practice with the giant antenna on his car, and getting grief from the other kids.

    And also recall him upsetting the rest of the family on long road trips by insisting on listening to inane Ham radio chatter, instead of the radio.

    He was always mentioning the high cost of the equipment upgrades he wanted. If Ham radio gear was pricey in the mid 90’s, I wonder how that’s changed in the intervening 25 years?

    1. Synoia

      Like all electronics it is smaller, lighter, less expensive, impossible to build by oneself, or fix.

      I miss tubes (Valves in the UK).

      1. scarnoc

        I buy dead radio tranceivers off of ebay and repair them with my kids. We have built a few from parts. These are not Apple products.

    2. curlydan

      I haven’t seen my mother’s second husband since 1986, but I still remember his ham radio “call sign”. And when I recently visited his grave, there was his call sign on his tombstone, too.

      Ham radio seemed kind of cool, but that and his other 70s/80s hobbies like micro-computing were a major money suck. No Six Flags trips for us kids, but we had 5+ computers in the basement.

  17. Darthbobber

    Taibbi’s pairing of Kagan and Strelkov is instructive, because they are by no means parallel cases. Kagan remains well-connected at the highest levels of power in the United States, while Strelkov has been utterly without influence even in the Donbass, let alone Russia, for seven years and counting.

  18. Darthbobber

    What our mercurial friend at Noahpinion is thinking this time evades me. Democrats are already trying to run against Putin. And it isn’t working any better than any other line they’re trying.

  19. KD

    So Dems should amp up the Ukraine war, and the struggle against Russian aggression, in their midterm messaging.

    So just declare war, mobilize the army, reinstate the draft, and send them over to join in a shooting war with Russia. No Glory in using Ukrainians as a proxy. Besides, it worked so well for patriotic Germans and Frenchmen in centuries past. . .

  20. Josef K

    From the Hill story linked to in links, not WC, but germane to Lambert’s COVID mission, this quote:

    “As long as hospitals do not become overwhelmed again, restrictions should not need to return,” said Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University. “Restrictions should not come back just to prevent infection.”

    That sums her position up, I believe. Loathsome, I hope karma serves her a heaping serving of long COVID. It’s real and it’s no joke. Not quite a nightmare, but certainly a bad dream, a recurring one.

    Masking here in WA ranges from 10-20% to 30-40% depending on venue. So those of us who know it’s not over have increased risk. Thanks Jay. I can understand employees not wanting to mask up, but it’s pitiable that people can’t bother to put a mask on for 30 minutes to go shopping. Union of Spoiled Adults.

      1. Josef K

        Hence my handle. Though it derives from my personal situation at the time I made it, no matter how hard I try to escape, the sphere of absurdity keeps expanding just beyond my reach.

        I don’t know if I got this link here at NC, but I’ve found this website useful:


        It may not give hard useable numbers (% of risk), but it’s informative to change the parameters (like distancing and others’ masking or not) and see how very much the risk can change due to one change in input.

        1. ChiGal

          thanks, not sure it captures all the variables but it is eye-opening.

          and yes, I recognized your handle ;-)

          1. Josef K

            I’m going to ditch it before long, maybe change my luck a bit. Come back as something slick, get a more happenin’ moniker to up my web-based social status. I kid, mostly.

            PS: also a ref. to Buster, though his name was spelled with ph.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      If you haven’t been paying attention, Leana Wen seems to say whatever she is told (I assume). For example, a few months ago, she was a vax mandate, lock down, mask-up champion. Then the narrative flipped, and she’s out there down talking restrictions (the same restrictions she was so gung ho for not so long ago). Following the science, I’m sure /s

  21. Mikel

    “Further, what’s “crude” about fixing ventilation systems so they don’t spread lethal pathogens? Why on earth is Sridhar turning her nose up at that?

    Tell her that they’re “smart ventilators.”

  22. enoughisenough

    The Noahpinion:

    oh great, so they’re recommending that our dysfunctional election cycle further entrench us in the world-destroying WWIII *as a DISTRACTION*???

    we’re so doomed.

  23. John

    The Hillary Clinton video: Is that for real? Did she set the precedent for Trump to deny that he lost his election? I guess then we can forgive the Donald.

    1. Mike Sharkey

      The comment was made in Inglewood California on May 4, 2019. It was during her ‘Evening with the Clintons’ tour event with husband former President Bill Clinton.

      1. Pat

        He said she said. Since I consider Trump to be yet another ill thought out result of Clinton’s incompetent and idiotic strategy she still gets to own this debacle just as Obama gets to own Biden and the current mess. Hand picking your opponent because he is a ridiculous reality star rich guy when you are too delusional to understand that both you and he will be fighting for the same 8 per cent of the vote that doesn’t have an opinion about either of you, with the icing on the cake being too lazy and arrogant to actually campaign where the votes count didn’t seem to work out so well for anyone did it?

        1. marym

          I agree that Clinton was responsible for losing the election, and Obama for the Biden mess.

          I also consider Republicans (well before Trump) and Trump in his own on-going project to be responsible for attributing votes for Democrats to fraud. They own that, and its repercussions.

  24. scarnoc

    I like reading Noah Smith because he’s a very reliable distillation of how the empire’s elite think. In this particular case what stands out to me is that Noah appears to believe that the war with Russia has upsides for his class, if they play their cards right. His analysis is utterly wrong. This war will end his class as a power in the world.

  25. Sin Fronteras

    One of the site owners mentioned that the rate of Long Covid is 30%. Could I get a reference for that?

    I have been using the “5 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” metaphor for describing our social collapse, one horseman being covid or public health and this site has been invaluable. Recently among our retired hiking people here in Tucson we have had an epidemic of “well it looks like it is over”, with hospitalizations being cited.

    The Long Covid statistic is kind of shocking, and any studies about how long it lasts etc would be nice. I know it’s been on this site, but it’s hard to search. Other useful stats would be rate of re-infection and successive severity of those. I really need some method for archiving this kind of information instead of just letting it flow out the fire hose.

    BTW 2 of the other Horsemen are climate change and nuclear war which we also both need to get over. I haven’t decided which the other two are but I am sure it will become obvious.

  26. Jen

    “Cats don’t sigh, a point in their favor”

    My first cat, a giant orange Maine Coon mix sighed frequently. He also retrieved, so I conclude that he was part dog.

    1. Nikkikat

      I have a Maine coon mix. Huge cat. He doesn’t sigh, but gives me a funny meow. Not with his usual deep tone. Sort of a high pitch and opens his mouth very wide. Quite funny. I always know when he’s miffed with me.

  27. Lunker Walleye

    Iowa Primary (1): “Drop Iowa. Make DC first”
    I couldn’t get in either, but a lot of citizens in the tall corn state would be happy to see the first “primary” be less focused on the tall corn state. Bernie got f***d here, so I really don’t cotton to more theatrics and phony balonialism that goes along with the show. Iowa Primary (2): Many citizens would agree with the tweets by Jonesinforthetruth. Factory pig farms are ruining our water. Growing corn to be converted to ethanol is a huge waste. So much for stewardship of the land.

    1. Late Introvert

      I agree Bernie got screwed, my first and last caucus. It needs to be sh1t canned. 38 million hogs, plus all the cows and chickens. Humans are less than 10 percent of the population, and like David Byrne sang, animals poop on the ground. Iowa is like Mississippi during the antebellum years, let’s hope they never revolt.

      My guess is that Kim Reynolds gets the nod for VP, she is Sarah Palin with a killer’s instinct. No smarter, just way more vicious.

      1. Kyle W. Elsbernd

        You’ve never been to Iowa. It’s an upper Midwestern state, highly literate and educated, with some of the top private colleges, public universities, and highest standardized test scores in the nation.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “Herd immunity now seems impossible. Welcome to the age of Covid reinfection”

    I have been reading for a year or two now how actual professional medical people have said straight up that it won’t work trying to do this with a Coronavirus. I think that they actually talk about this in medical schools. But other doctors who were more concerned with the ‘health’ of the economy (and their portfolios?) were given the lead by politicians and so here we are. So the past couple days I have been watching this herd immunity at work at the airports here in Oz. It has been chaos as people are cramming the airports to go on that long-delayed trip overseas but there have been lines like you would not believe and chaos squared. The head of Qantas tried to blame travelers not being used to traveling by again but the real reason has come out – so many staff throughout that airport were either sick with the ‘crona or were isolating. Imagine my surprise.

    1. Greg

      Can’t tell you about medical school, but in *veterinary* school they tell you straight up that herd immunity doesn’t work for coronaviruses.

      1. The Rev Kev

        @ Greg – Here is something I bet that you never heard in *veterinary* school. If you have an animal sharing a pen with one that is sick, then let it mingle with the rest of the herd because what could possibly go wrong? And yet the govt here in Oz is talking about getting those airport workers, who share a place with a sick person, to get them on a lost to go back to work.

    2. Skippy

      Lmmao Kev a friend in Kenmore today was telling me two GP’s told here straight to her face that these viruses – always mutate – too be less dangerous.

      Advance Australia Fair … chortle …

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that you could translate that to “She’ll be right, mate!” which is the Aussie equivalent to “Hold my Beer!”

  29. ebirah

    The hawaiian coot (also known as ʻalae keʻokeʻo) sounds start after 0:54 in the audio. They’re the low, truncated sounds. It’s a great audio clip with lots of urban and rural sounds — definitely a typical Hawaiian audioscape.

  30. Amfortas the hippie

    re: the tiaibbi snippet:

    wish i could afford a subscription,lol.
    the only way left to us to potentially stop this is to be fearless in your words…and to fling those words at everyone who says shit like kagan,neuland, etc(or hagee): that’s stupid and dumb…only dangerous maniacs jerk off to world ending conflicts.
    say it loud and proud…i’m not afraid to be cancelled.
    maybe anti war radicalising could be the basis of that new party we’re always pining for.
    a party opposed to spreading suffering and death across the world, and against austerity and taking care of rich folks when we should be frelling eating them.


  31. The Rev Kev

    “Amazon Drone Crashes Hit Jeff Bezos’ Delivery Dreams”

    If Amazon could not make drones viable the past coupla years when so many of their customers were self-isolating at home and were there to receive those drone packages, then what makes them think that they are viable at all?

  32. Mikel

    “Herd immunity now seems impossible. Welcome to the age of Covid reinfection”

    I mentioned yesterday I finally saw all of “Dopesick” – the series about the opiod crisis.
    I talked about how decades of science and experience with opiods and opiates was thrown out the window and replaced by BS pharma talking points.

    Now I’m thinking about one of those talking points. Purdue first came out saying the time release pain relief would last 12 hours. When the reports started coming in about patients that weren’t getting 12 hours of protection, they came up with a talking point about “breakthrough pain” and used that as a selling point to get the doctors to increase dosage.

    Fast forward to Covid. The shot therapies did not prevent protection from infection as promoted and what was the term that was appearing everywhere suddenly: “breakthrough infections.” Solution: increased dosage (ie, “boosters”). Did it prevent “breakthrough infections”? No.

    1. Yves Smith

      It’s even worse than you suggest. The record shows that Purdue Pharma knew its fancy new 24 hour pill didn’t last 24 hours but more like 12-14. They set out to create addicts by recommending higher doses rather than admitting they knew they pill didn’t live up to its billing.

    2. Thistlebreath

      “Goliath” season 4 w/ Billy Bob Thornton and JK Simmons is all about a fictional drug behemoth whose narcotics do what Purdue’s did. Recommend. PS, William Hurt’s final performances are worth watching alone.

  33. Wukchumni

    Don’t try this at home!

    Yes, ideally you want to be in nature’s realm when indulging-not @ home, which is a total blow it.

    The root word of funghi is fun.

  34. The Rev Kev

    I’m afraid that the residents of Shangai are not made of sterner stuff than those of Wuhan. About two years ago videos emerged of people at night yelling support to each other from apartment towers during the worst if the pandemic in that ill-famed city. Now video has emerged of the residents of Shangahi just simply screaming because they have been locked up for a week and can’t leave their neighbourhoods-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBJj_UwkSyc (1:22 mins)

    Does this sound unfair? Probably. But the people of Wuhan were facing huge unknowns back then and most people were in the dark about this new virus. By now you would expect the residents of Shanghai to have a far better idea of what this virus is all about.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Man, this is just painful to read. So there was an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald saying that the way that the way that the Chinese are dealing with the pandemic is all wrong and they should do it like we do. It’s embarrassing. Right now, when they announce an increase of numbers of people falling sick and even dying, they simultaneously announce an easing of restrictions. WTF?


    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Now video has emerged of the residents of Shanghai

      Forgive my cynicism, but I don’t think video ever just “emerges.” It is both made and propagated with a purpose in mind (and then amplified by our horrid press). I don’t find it so implausible that in Shanghai there are those with the ideological equivalent in China of the Great Barrington Declaration, and the emergence comes from there. It would be the equivalent of heart-tugging photographs of Ukraine babies that are so pervasive.

      I don’t question that the Shanghai administration really dropped the ball and that people suffered. But the “Freedom!” aspect of these videos that “emerged” gives me pause.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I find it quite interesting that these videos are allowed to circulate in Chinese social media, which is of course normally very heavily censored. Partly it may be playing on the notion widely held in China that the people of Shanghai are spoiled babies. But I think there is also an element of testing the waters to see just what people will tolerate. A week ago a video of a corgi shot because its owner couldn’t take him to quarantine seems to have had the biggest impact.

        Of course, in the west there is a heavy bias towards the suffering of all those people barricaded up.

        Michael Pettis has mentioned that his narrow circle of Chinese contacts are all of the ‘zero covid is stupid’ mindset., so there is certainly support, especially in the big wealthy cities for this approach. But the CCP have always been connected enough to know that the Chinese equivalent of the PMC does not equate to anything near the majority opinion.

    3. SocalJimObjects

      When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. I don’t have any idea how tough an average Shanghai resident is, but some of the delivery drivers in the city are tough enough in my book. Yesterday i came across this article (written in Chinese), https://new.qq.com/omn/20220412/20220412A0ALEF00.html, and according to it, a number of delivery drivers, 7 to 8 people to be more exact, made 800 deliveries EACH for the entirety of last week. A delivery driver also managed to make 10K Yuan (more than one thousand US dollars) a day delivering stuff to the business district, mostly from tips. Finally!!! A gig job that pays a working wage (sarcasm tag off).

      Further down in the article, a delivery driver narrates his experience fulfilling a delivery order that took over 50 minutes all for the measly sum of 6 Yuan (less than 1 US Dollar). So why did he do it? According to Xiao Fei (a pseudonym), a customer had written the following note with the order: “Please don’t cancel. You are my fourth delivery driver. I am very hungry. Please help deliver my order”. Apparently the customer lived in a district where all the restaurants were closed, so he had no choice but to order from a neighboring district. The first 3 delivery drivers before Xiao Fei deemed his home to be too far away, so they all cancelled his order.

  35. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Don’t try this at home!”, or “An encounter with the dark magic of mushrooms.”

    Compare and contrast the above with the following:

    “Fantastic Fungi”

    “The film is a descriptive time-lapse journey about the magical, mysterious and medicinal world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain an contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth that began 3.5 billion years ago.
    Imagine an organism that feeds you, heals you, reveals secrets of the universe and could help save the planet. You’ll see it through the eyes of mycologists, like renowned Paul Stamets, about the unlimited potential of fungi in the fields of food, medicine, expanding consciousness, bioremediation, neurogenesis and treating end-of-life anxiety.”

    Free to view for all those individuals with the available time and interest:


    Also noting that: [[The earliest written reference to the consumption of fungi as a medicine, rather than a food, is within the Sanskrit hymns contained in Rig veda, which forms a part of the oldest sacred texts of Hinduism, the Vedas. In one of the hymns (Book 8, hymn 4, stanza 3) ‘Soma’ is described as an inebriating ritual drink, which was thought to infer divine powers on those who drank it:

    We have drunk Soma and become immortal;
    We have attained the light, the Gods discovered.
    Now what harm may foeman’s malice do to harm us?
    What, O immortal, mortal man’s deception?

    The toxic fungi Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric, was used to prepare the soma. The feelings of euphoria or invincibility experienced by those who drank it were eventually attributed to a group of isoxazoles centuries later. Two of these – ibotenic acid (1) and muscimol (2) – were first isolated from the Japanese mushroom Amanita ibotengutake in the 1960s, but found in abundance in all Amanita mushrooms. . . .

    The ancient ritual drink soma has a modern parallel. In 1956 the French mycologist Robert Heim noticed that extracts of the fungi Psilocybe mexicana, were being used in a religious, ceremonial drink, like the soma, by the Indians in southern Mexico.4 He sent samples of this mushroom to Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann for analysis. Hofmann had recently become renowned for his discovery of lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD (11).

    Hofmann set about cultivating large amounts of the mushroom in his laboratory so that he would have enough to isolate the active component responsible for the hallucinatory effects. Hofmann and some of his coworkers went as far as to eat the mushroom to test its effects and the following report by colleague Dr R. Gelpecke reveals the similarity of this new hallucinogen to soma:

    It seemed to me that 100 years would not be sufficient to describe the fullness of experience of a single minute. At the beginning, optical impressions predominated: I saw with delight the boundless succession of rows of trees in the nearby forest. Then the tattered clouds in the sunny sky rapidly piled up with silent and breathtaking majesty to a superimposition of thousands of layers – heaven on heaven – and I waited then expecting that up there in the next moment something completely powerful, unheard of, not yet existing, would appear or happen – would I behold a God? But only the expectation remained the presentiment, this hovering, ‘on the threshold of the ultimate feeling’.]]–“The drink of the Gods”


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Dude, for the sake of the site and the safety of readers who may not be as informed as you are, I have to issue such a warning. I’m sure our readership doesn’t need to “compare and contrast”….

      1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

        Heard and understood!

        “The Dude abides”; even though, “This midnight rider lost his saddle and I’m in no mood for thinking, I need some liquid consolation . . . ”

        Victory Gin it is then!

        For comfort and consolation. (?!)

  36. Jason Boxman

    The Amateur Radio Operators Preparing for the Worst

    I saw Independence Day, I know these are really for preparing a massive world-wide counter attack to an alien invasion.

  37. JBird4049

    >>> Demonstrating themselves to be good and upstanding members of the in-crowd to which they relentlessly aspire forces them to deny the very notion of an exception

    In the distance past of pre 1980, Reporters were often characterized as daredevils, individualistic, curmudgeons, sneaky, often speaking truth to power and frequently working class. Just hustling for that hot scoop. That was the cliché, maybe the ideal, and certainly not everyone or even most were anything like that. But it existed for a reason.

    My favorite newsman is Edward R. Murrow. A man who must be spinning in his grave over these “reporters.”

    Anyways, what is so good about being with the cool kids? Sounds like they are trying to turn themselves into the Stepford Wives Reporters. It is not high school anymore and even then the nerds, gamers, and weirdos were more interesting cliques.

  38. Old Sarum

    The penetration of the Secret Service reminds me to ask the question:

    Is there an Iranian government in exile?


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