2:00PM Water Cooler 4/18/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

I think I will try for a week of Lyre Birds. (They are videos, too, but I can’t find one of Lyrebird courtship display.)

* * *


“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

Another enormous success for Biden’s Vax-Only policy:

Doctors are influencers, after all. They probably think that aerosols are the result of aerosol-generaling procedures in hospital.

“Who lost Biden’s agenda? Democrats offer competing theories for failure of ‘Build Back Better'” [NBC]. “There is now a quiet effort underway to pass some version of the president’s agenda under a legislative process known as reconciliation, which allows Democrats to circumvent Republican opposition and pass a bill along party lines. Officials said Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, and Louisa Terrell, the White House director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, are having conversations with Democrats on Capitol Hill. That effort, however, has hardly been central for Congress so far this year, as the focus has been on Russia’s war in Ukraine, funding the government and confirming a Supreme Court nominee. Democrats also expect to pass the CHIPS Act, to bolster the domestic production of computer circuitry, and an election security measure in coming weeks. And officials are quick to argue that even without Build Back Better, the president’s legislative accomplishments are significant — from $1.9 trillion in Covid relief to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.” • Oh no, an “election security measure.”

“A Biden Blood Bath?” [Charles Blow, New York Times]. “Poor messaging may contribute to the problem, but I think the problem is more on ground level, a gut level: How do people feel? They feel stuck and angry, they’re tired and overwhelmed, and that energy is being directed at Biden…. Poor messaging may contribute to the problem, but I think the problem is more on ground level, a gut level: How do people feel? They feel stuck and angry, they’re tired and overwhelmed, and that energy is being directed at Biden…. All the while, two major perennial issues are resurgent: crime and the economy.” • Agreement seems to be universal that a million dead in a pandemic and a proxy war with a nuclear power aren’t “issues.” Which is fine, I suppose, since the parties don’t think they’re issues either.

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.

* * *


* * *

MN: “With An Attempt To Unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota House Race Sets Up A Contest On Policing” [The Intercept]. “FOR THE SECOND cycle in a row, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is facing a serious primary challenger. Former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels announced Thursday that his campaign had raised $350,000 in the month since its launch, with 75 percent in contributions under $100 and $320,000 cash on hand. Omar’s fundraising has been slower, pulling in $275,000 in the first quarter with an average donation of $13, with a total of $500,000 on hand. The Minneapolis primary will focus heavily on the question of policing. Over the past two years, the first count in the party establishment’s indictment of its progressive wing has been the push to “defund the police,” with President Joe Biden explicitly targeting the slogan during his State of the Union address and following it up with an infusion of cash for cops…. Almost two years ago, amid calls to reform the Minneapolis Police Department after cops there killed George Floyd, Samuels, who also served on the city’s school board, and his wife, Sondra, took on a new cause: In August 2020, they sued the city to hire more than 100 additional cops.” • Includes plenty of juicy detail on Samuels, like “got an envelope … with a couple grand.” The segment on the hot dog vendors is also good.

OH: “Nina Turner in the Democratic primary for the 11th Congressional District” [Cleveland.com]. “With some bumps along the way, and considering how recently she was elected, Brown has conducted herself reasonably well, shown relish for the job and a commitment to important Democratic issues like voting rights reform — although she should step down as party chair. But a fighter is what Greater Cleveland needs in Congress, especially with the strong possibility of a GOP takeover of the House. And a principled and focused fighter is what Greater Cleveland will get in Nina Turner.”

OH: “Oil Mogul Bankrolls Attempt To Buy Democratic Primary” [Lever News]. “One month after Samson Energy mogul Stacy Schusterman poured $2 million into DMFI PAC, the group purchased TV ads starting Monday to boost Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) in her primary campaign rematch against former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner in a newly redrawn Cleveland congressional district. The primary election date is May 3. Last year, DMFI PAC spent $1.9 million attacking Turner and promoting Brown, helping the latter win the seat in a special election. The group also spent $1.4 million attacking Sanders during his 2020 campaign…. Schusterman chairs Oklahoma-based Samson Energy, whose website describes it as a company that ‘was formed to allow the Schusterman family to remain in the oil and gas exploration and production business following their sale of Samson Investment Company in 2011.’ The company has been one of the country’s largest per-well emitters of greenhouse gas emissions.”


This is the second time I’ve seen Biden give Fetterman a hand (the first was a photo op in Pittsburgh after the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse). I don’t see stuff like this happending for that little twerp Conor Lamb. Not sure what’s going on here.


“Kamala Harris keeps traveling to unconventional places. Here’s why.” [Politico]. “The swing to Greenville is part of an under noticed strategy for the VP’s office, one in which she’s homed her focus on the ways in which administration policy is intersecting with overlooked communities. It’s brought her to other far-off, non-traditional locales, including a recent swing to Sunset, Louisiana, a rural town of fewer than 3,000 people, to tout the administration’s work expanding rural broadband. And it’s manifested itself in the ways in which she’s approached some of the White House’s big-ticket items. Weeks after the bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed into law, Harris convened a briefing with administration officials to go over the part of the bill related to charging stations for electric vehicles — an interest that had animated her dating back to her time in California politics. As staff went from page to page of the briefing document, she peppered them with questions. How would 500,000 charging stations be built and distributed? Who would build them? What would it mean for overlooked communities? ‘[She said] ‘Talk to me about a community that has been left behind, a rural community. Where are they going to go? How are they going to get put there?’ Mitch Landrieu, senior adviser to the president, recounted to POLITICO. ‘Now talk to me about an urban neighborhood that has been left behind where people are renting.” A month later, she was in Brandywine, Maryland, a majority Black city — though not exactly a locality at the vanguard of electoral politics — talking about EV stations and announcing the administration’s plan to make sure its charging network made it to communities like theirs. ‘It’s not necessarily that we’re going to win Mississippi or Louisiana, but it makes a difference in people knowing that they’re seen and they’re heard.’ The electoral benefits of going to remote communities in non-swing states seem decidedly limited for those in the Beltway, especially at a time when the White House is trying to turn around its polling nosedive and gain praise for the state of the jobs market. But administration officials contend that the symbolism of a vice presidential trip matters, and that when it’s tied with some larger announcement, it has a clear downstream upside.” • A “downstream upside.” Or maybe they send Harris to small places because she’s not ready for the big leagues.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The End of Progressive Intellectual Life” [Michael Lind, The Tablet]. “The space to the left-of-center that was once filled with magazines and organizations devoted to what Diana Trilling called the “life of significant contention” is now filled by the ritualized gobbledygook of foundation-funded, single-issue nonprofits like a pond choked by weeds…. It is not surprising that the written output of this billionaire-funded bureaucratic apparatus tends to read like an NGO word salad with crunchy croutons in the form of acronyms that stud post-intellectual progressive discourse: DEI, CRT, AAPI, BIPOC, LGBTQ+. Wokespeak is Grantspeak….Meanwhile, in one area of public policy or politics after another, Progressivism Inc. has shut down debate on the center left through its interlocking networks of program officers, nonprofit functionaries, and editors and writers, all of whom can move with more or less ease between these roles during their careers as bureaucratic functionaries whose salaries are ultimately paid by America’s richest families and individuals. The result is a spectacularly well-funded NGO-sphere whose intellectual depth and breadth are contracting all the time….. Who decides what is and is not permissible for American progressives to think or discuss or support? The answer is the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and other donor foundations, an increasing number of which are funded by fortunes rooted in Silicon Valley. It is this donor elite, bound together by a set of common class prejudices and economic interests, on which most progressive media, think tanks, and advocacy groups depend for funding. The center-left donor network uses its financial clout, exercised through its swarms of NGO bureaucrats, to impose common orthodoxy and common messaging on their grantees. The methods by which they enforce this discipline can be described as chain-ganging and shoe-horning. Chain-ganging (a term I have borrowed from international relations theory) in this context means implicitly or explicitly banning any grantee from publicly criticizing the positions of any other grantee…. Shoe-horning is what I call the progressive donor practice of requiring all grantees to assert their fealty to environmentalist orthodoxy and support for race and gender quotas, even if those topics have nothing to do with the subject of the grant.” • Commentary:

“Democracy experts”:


No wonder we don’t know how to do diplomacy anymore. Reminds me of Carl Schmitt.


If you missed it, here’s a 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:

Fiddling and diddling. Remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. One source said they though cases might be undercounted by a factor of six. Yikes. But how do we know? Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

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 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’s the wastewater of another college town, Ann Arbor, Michigan (hat tip kcp):

Improvement, unlike MWRA.

From Biobot Analytics:

Cases lag wastewater data.

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

The Northeast isn’t looking too good, now confirmed by hospital data. I wonder how many Gridiron Club attendees took the Acela home the following morning? (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:

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Suddenly, the Northeast isn’t looking good. Of course, absolute levels are still low, so CDC can argue that nothing should be done. 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.) Oh, and if anybody tells you hospitalization is down, tell them “No, it very isn’t.”

A new way for hospitals to game the data:

IM Doc writes: “I would guess with Omicron about 60% of the patients were on Dexamethasone – so no – not an adequate proxy” for hospitalization.

Just a reminder:

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

Gamed numbers aside, it also occurs to me that this time around, people might be avoiding hospitalization altogether, if they were relatives or friends of people who got hospitalized in earlier waves; no knock on the medical profession, but it was a bad way to go. (I wonder if there’s some sort of proxy that would show this.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,015,451 1,014,902. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. The numbers have been level for the past few days, and they’re still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Stats Watch

* * *

Retail: “‘White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch’ Review: How Youth Fashion Turned Fascist” [Variety]. “The journalist Moe Tkacik recalls that the first time she walked into an Abercrombie outlet, she said to herself, ‘Oh my God, they’ve bottled this. They have absolutely crystalized everything that I hate about high school and put it in a store.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 42 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 18 at 1:19pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Israel: “Violence has erupted on the Temple Mount” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

The Gallery

So., NFTs for each can?

News of the Wired


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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.

GE writes: “I’m mostly a lurker around the water cooler, but I noticed today’s plant image:”

GE writes: “I believe I recognize this particular tree and have even painted a small gouache sketch of its trunk (6×6″, in winter 2021). If I’m correct, this tree is in a cemetery in Vancouver, BC, and if so, I love that this particular plant has inspired more than one NC reader to capture its unique image:”

And GE writes: “The cherry blossoms in Vancouver are brief, but always spectacular!”

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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. Jason Boxman

    How a Dollar General Employee Went Viral on TikTok

    Where ever there is hopeless and despair, Dollar General is there.

    As Ms. Gundel had predicted, Dollar General soon fired her. She was let go less than a week after posting her first critical video, but not before she inspired other Dollar General store managers, many of them women working in stores in poor areas, to speak out on TikTok.

    This is of course in the business section, because the Times lacks any labor reporting.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Can Dollar General be located where hopeless and despair are not the primary themes of the local milieu and its prospects? So far, I have not lived anywhere in the u.s. where a Dollar General was not nearby, and where only slightly further away, Walmart stood waiting. Are Dollar General and Walmart manifestations of Huginn and Muninn anticipating the noose and spear waiting for us as the Empire collapses?

  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    That second Fetterman pic, with his arms folded and not looking amused at all, would definitely have gotten the “Dad who has a lot of other crap that really needs to get taken care of but here I am…. yay” vote.

    1. John

      In the second Fetterman picture, he looks like he is standing in front of the coffin of the Democratic Party that is about to be lowered into the ground.

    2. CitizenSissy

      My union hosted a Fetterman event Saturday. While personable, he is legit scary looking. This is, IMHO refreshing. I had my picture taken with him, and 5′ tall yours truly looked like a dwarf.

  3. Mikel

    A reader expresses shock about the Colby book.
    But I bet it didn’t shock China.

    And it’s not about maintaining for the USA – it’s about having MORE THAN.
    The billionaries aren’t going to take a haircut on their way to becoming trillionaires. That sums up USA foreign policy.

    1. anon y'mouse

      i hate to say this, but my response was “the tweeter needed a book to explain this, when anyone paying attention for the last few decades could have known it just by paying attention to the news during their own lifetime”.

      if a properly accredited expert didn’t write about it, it doesn’t exist i guess.

    2. lance ringquist

      free traders whats mine is mine, whats yours is mine, and there will be no discussions about this period, or you will end up like yugoslavia.

      the dim wits never thought china would be smart enough to take advantage of nafta billy clinton handing china americas wealth and standard of living, all they see is massive short term gains. and if anything gets in their way, we bomb them. see nafta billys albight.

      it really points to the facts that the free traders are white supremacists.

  4. truly

    Can someone explain why sewage is a leading indicator rather than a trailing one? Is it generally seen as about a 3-4 week leading indicator?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Because US does not test at random for CV infection, “cases” tend to be detected following symptoms, when someone is prescribed a test or self-tests and reports. There’s a ‘selection bias’ that will tend to underestimate the actual infection incidence and, with low counts and noisy data, make it harder to notice changes in the trajectory of the epidemic in a locality.

      At least at an earlier stage of the pandemic, it appeared that many infections were asymptomatic or sufficiently low symptom that patients might not realize that they might be infected. So numerous infections were never detected. The problem is worse now that self-testing is common; the test results may not be reported to the public health authorities responsible for disease surveillance.

      Wastewater surveillance doesn’t require people to notice that they have symptoms and need to get tested. It also covers essentially 100% of the population of the sewershed.

      Evidently, the virus sheds copiously into the GI tract (not sure how; perhaps simply by swallowing of saliva and mucus from URT that has virus in it) from an early stage of infection and detectible RNA survives passage all the way through.

      I suspect that the most important factor is that the surveillance coverage is essentially 100% of the population in real time (well, with whatever the lag is between flushes and arrival of the ‘contributions’ at the central sampling site) with no need for individual patients to take any action to generate a reported test result. I think I saw a recent mention at NC links or commentary that it is estimated that 5/6 of infections are going unreported at present. But 100% of infections would be contributing to the CV signal in sewage-based monitoring.

      At least part of the “advance warning” is simply the higher signal to noise of wastewater-based detection compared with individual-infection detection. There might also be temporal lags in individual detection in terms of the time it takes for symptoms to develop, to get the test, for the test to be processed and the results reported to the PH authorities.

      1. Carla

        Who would voluntarily report ANYTHING to the “authorities” in this country? Our “authorities” say “you’re on your own.”

        “If you’re sick, it’s your fault,” “if you’re poor, it’s your fault,” “if you’re homeless, it’s obviously your fault,” “if you’re a child, pull yourself up by your bootstraps now, honey, because you’re on your own.”

        1. Objective Ace

          Best to have some documentation of having Covid if you ever want a chance at collecting disability from Long Covid. I’m sure it will still be a battle, but at least you stand a chance

        2. The Rev Kev

          Here in Oz the new approach is that if you get sick, stay at home and take care of yourself and only call an ambulance if you get really sick. But if you are needed at work and are isolating, then you have to go on no matter how many other people that you will get sick because the economy.

          1. eg

            This is also the current approach here in Ontario. I’m sure that we are both staring down election campaigns has nothing whatsoever to do with it, eh?

    2. Samuel Conner

      > why sewage is a leading indicator rather than a trailing one?

      shorter answer:

      it might be better to say that “sewage is a near-concurrent indicator of the prevalence of viral RNA shedding into the GI tracts of the population of a sewershed.” Not perfectly concurrent since there is a small lag (low single digit days, I imagine) between entry of material into the sewage system and its arrival at the sampling location.

      If one wanted to be nit-picky, one could argue that sewage trails prevalence by the time lag associated with the sample collection and PCR test implementation, but the point is that this lag is small in absolute terms and considerably smaller than the lags associated with other US CV surveillance methods.

      Sewage obviously cannot “lead” the actual state of infection in a sewershed, but it does “lead” other measures of the state of the pandemic, such as (detected) cases and hospitalizations. And it is a useful leading indicator of “where is the pandemic going in this locality”.

      Hope that helps.

      1. truly

        Thanks for all the answers to my query. As a hairdresser trying to safely navigate this pandemic I appreciate having a better understanding.
        It would be nice for all of us small business people with lots of client interactions to be able to get good guidance from our Fed, state and local authorities. Unfortunately not the case.

  5. Mikel

    Fear & Greed index….
    Speaking of indexes:


    All of the Big 3 stock market indexes are rising, but market internals suggest the stock market is actually falling. Stocks losing ground is outnumbering advancers 1,730 to 1,380 on the NYSE and 2,780 to 1,563 on the Nasdaq exchange. And volume of declining stocks represents 52.2% of total volume on the Big Board and 61.3% of total volume on the Nasdaq. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, 0.19% is up 70 points, or 0.2%, even though 17 of 30 components are trading lower; the S&P 500 SPX, 0.28% is gaining 0.2%, while while 255 of its components are declining; and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, 0.30% is tacking on 0.1%.

      1. tegnost

        I think in this case it’s sell everything that’s not oil, oilfield services, or war…
        and buy buy buy oil, oilfield services, and war.

  6. Samuel Conner

    re: the “US must remain global hegemon” thread — I’ll note that even as hegemon, it’s doing a sh$tty job of serving the interests of its citizens (those interests being the ostensible reason for the necessity of continuing hegemony), unless by “citizens” one means the upper reaches of the income distribution.

    1. Ranger Rick

      I like the not-so-subtle suggestion the thread makes towards the end that the only reason the US isn’t killing everyone on earth is because they let the US think that it’s in charge. That’s an evolution of the classic political science “psychopath theory of international relations” that posits that the only reason countries aren’t enforcing their will on other countries is because conditions exist that prevent it.

    2. Harold

      Rise, like lions after slumber
      In unvanquishable number!
      Shake your chains to earth like dew
      Which in sleep had fallen on you:
      Ye are many—they are few!”

    3. Acacia

      unless by “citizens” one means the upper reaches of the income distribution

      Yep. The modern-day patrician class. Telling us “China delenda est!”

      Romulus and Remus suckled from the she-wolf. Today, I guess the Fed is the she-wolf.

      In Rome, plebeians were the 95%. And today…? Plus ça change.

      “You’re a Roman, Kirk, or you should have been.”

  7. Left in Wisconsin

    The Eliza Mondegreen Twitter thread is good and it comports with my NGO experience. Sadly, according to her Twitter bio, she has left NGO-world for grad school… so expect a similar thread in 3-5 years about how everyone was really excited for her to be there at first (because of her real-world knowledge and experience) but it became increasingly more difficult for her to the extent her work did not genuflect to the accepted canon.

    This points to an enormous problem with/facing younger people today and the deep problem of neoliberalism. Grad school in the humanities and social sciences is at least on a par with NGO world, if not worse, for someone who wants to help rebuild an inclusive left (crazy that “inclusive” in this context means almost the opposite of its traditional meaning, though tbf the racism is still pretty bad in academia). Most everyone from here forward will wash out of academia (very few jobs) and those who succeed will almost never be trouble-makers. But young political types have no reason not to presume that graduate school and NGO-world are the main professional entrees into that world, nor any reason to presume that doing good politics is virtually impossible in either context, until they experience it for themselves, by which time they will have wasted many of their best years. And they have all been brainwashed from a young age into believing that they are supposed to be professionals and that it is possible to marry their “passion” (lol) with their profession… and earn a good living to boot.

    Also points to the tragedy of losing unions as a source of political funding, which for a long time provided an alternative path to left political work. Lots of problems there, too, but the (industrial) unions were able to put political issues on the table that the NGOs and academics aren’t interested in.

    1. anon y'mouse

      i love your comment and it should be elevated to a featured post, if i may be so presumptuous.

    2. Swamp Yankee

      Yes, Left in Wisconsin, having come through grad school, what you say is true. Class is the only category that dare not speak its name in many elite grad/professional schools, in my experience.

      At the same time, the PhD I now hold gets me in the door for local advocacy/organizing work here in the provinces, and the fact that I did it on extremely local history helps, as well.

      But a big yes to the point you make, that no trouble-makers will be selected for in contemporary academe. The guy who is literally the best historian of my generation, in my view, is leaving US Academia because it is populated by extremely boring and uninformed woke-scolds who have never gone without anything for a day in their lives. He cannot take it.

      And I am branching out into local journalism (started my own online local newspaper via substack) and politics. Academia is dying, and most of the so-called “critical thinkers” in that “space” are anything but — more like the person in the gray-flannel suit/scarf.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I wish academia (in its current guise) was dying. I mean, it’s dying as a home for anyone but connected elites (again, speaking of humanities and social science – I can’t really speak for the sciences, and the business schools present a whole different set of (big) problems) but the centrality of brand/prestige in the neoliberal world means that it will continue to (mis)orient intellectual thought as far into the future as I can see. I never cease to be amazed at the sheer quantity of brain power that exists in and around higher ed and how it is virtually all wasted, or actively making things worse.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yes, I agree it has become, or returned to being essentially an upper class finishing school in many fields, perhaps most extreme in various MFA programs, but in my history cohort 15 yrs ago there were numerous professor-spawn, for whom it was simply the family business. If they had been born to pipefitters like my uncles they would have done that.

          The universities are where the great monasteries were on the Eve of the Reformation, is my view. We shall see how they do in the current complex of spiralling, inter related crises.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Yes, in case anyone but SW and me is interested, at the top (50 or 100) US universities these days, as far as the humanities and social sciences departments go (except economics) pretty much all of them are shrinking in terms of the number of full-time faculty they have, some by kind of a lot and the rest by really a lot. So, depending on discipline, there are maybe 20-50 new jobs per year at these places and a crazy percentage of them are filled by the children of academics, increasingly, as the jobs become rarer, the children of well-known academics.

            I know several and they are typically really nice people who are aware they had an inside track due to being brought up in the milieu, but nevertheless are required to subscribe to the mythology of meritocracy in academia, which means in part that they tend to be hard workers and try generally to deserve what they have been given, but also that, by definition, they bring no threat to the neoliberal university regardless of their ostensible personal (e.g. “Marxist”) politics (in truth, most seem to be the Elizabeth Warren-supporting type of Democrat, which makes perfect sense). It also means, at many of the “top” or wannabe-top departments, no one can really say out loud that a non-negligible part of the “merit” they bring to a department is in fact the brand (family) name. Honestly, any time I really think about it, my head hurts.

      2. QR

        The guy who is literally the best historian of my generation, in my view,

        Might you please be willing to share his name and/or links to sample some things he’s written? Sounds like a good potential source of thought-provoking reading.

          1. QR

            Many thanks! That looks like a fascinating piece of history; interlibrary loan request in progress.

    3. haywood

      It’s me it’s me, you’re describing me!

      By year two of my social science PhD program, I realized that the foundation/NGO complex I fled after a decade+ in politics were also funding research in my field and funding the work of conference organizers and journal editors. I left after two years with a “free” master degree and some great research methods training. But overall it was a terrible disheartening experience. Similar to my time as a “professional progressive.”

      Might be time to get a regular ol job and do politics on my own time and my own terms.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        You did way better than me. I hung around for a long time even after I knew it was bad.

    4. eg

      I got out after my MA — I figured there wasn’t likely to be much call for “my kind” and that was 35 years ago …

  8. Thistlebreath

    Note bene: The Ann Arbor wastewater figures may reflect the end of UofM’s winter trimester on April 14, 2022.
    Let’s see what they are after the next round of classes start.

    1. hunkerdown

      Also, for the map-watchers in the commentariat, Washtenaw County, of which Ann Arbor is the county seat, is helpfully indicated in pink on today’s Rapid Riser map.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        A couple of red dots flaring up in Louisiana…gonna advise the partner to wear a N95 while she bartends….

      2. playon

        My county in the center of WA state has been in the red on-and-off for the last several weeks. Very few wearing masks here now, and the local COVID clinic that offered free PCR tests in our small town has been shut down (because it’s over!). Meanwhile although I have been pretty careful for the last two years and am triple-vaxxed, I now have a case of COVID which I contracted about two weeks after the mask mandates were lifted. Good times.

  9. McWatt

    I now know more people with Covid than at anytime time in last two years. Overheard in a grocery store:

    Man: “My daughter has Covid.” 2nd Man: “Everyone has Covid.”

    What is going on with the counts in the Chicago area?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      It must be localized. Everyone I knew had Covid around Christmas. I’m in the Chicago area and currently don’t know anyone with Covid (probably because they all got it 4 – 5 months ago and possibly still have some resistance). I’m hoping it stays this way, but your report doesn’t sound good.

      1. Objective Ace

        Jennifer Psaki got Covid a second time 4-5 months after the first. And she was fully vaxxed and boosted. Anecdotal, but still counts for something I think.

    2. InquiringMind

      Per the leadership in Washington, basically everyone is being given permission to move onward…now treating COVID as “no big deal”. Jen Psaki had it twice in like 3 months…vaxxed, mild symptoms, worked from home…it’s like somewhere between a cold and the flu…so stop complaining you all.

      The next step is meeting someone you know at the grocery and they’ll say, “hey! sorry, no hugs, I think I have COVID again. Are you going to the school Gala? I hope I’m over this before then…”

      The US/Western (Anglo?) nations are severely discounting Long-COVID (especially the frightening cardio effects); China is treating COVID as if everyone will suffer Long-COVID and they want no part of it. Who is correct?

      Hard to say…but the obvious safe bet is wearing a mask in public and trying to avoid COVID for as long as possible! I’m trying hard to convince my kids of this. Luckily they are adolescents who actually don’t really mind the anonymity granted by mask wearing in public…but I’m pretty sure they are more relaxed around their friends and at meals/snacks. We’re in SoCal, so their school lunches are outdoors…so at least there is that.

  10. TBellT

    Something very “The Dark Forest”-y about the US needs to be global hegemon thread.

    In The Dark Forest, a 2008 novel which Discover Magazine calls “a dark answer to the Fermi paradox”, Chinese writer Liu Cixin envisions aliens as being paranoid and wanting to kill life because it might be future competition. Other aliens dare not reveal themselves because they might be considered a threat, and they stay quiet as if in a dark forest.

    A very pessimistic view of the universe, I must admit, even more sad to imagine it applies to our immediate vicinity.

    1. Acacia

      Kinda makes ya wonder if some more benevolent Xists are listening to all of our self-important media emissions, shaking their giant heads and glancing briefly at Betelgeuse, before saying, “What is that civilization doing? Don’t they know enough to STFU?”

    2. The Rev Kev

      Once read a great scifi novel where the premise was that an ancient civilization was going around and annihilating any civilization that was advanced so that they could not topple them down the track. Earth is wiped out with the only survivors being the crew of a space ship which eventually goes on to create their own space-faring civilization which wipes out that civilization but it was a roller coaster of a book.

      In our own time, US strategy was not to allow any peer competitors to ever arise to challenge them but after twenty years of being stuck in the middle east and Afghanistan, there are now two peer competitors. It is my belief that the whole reason for the Ukrainian war is that it is being used to do a massive attack on one of them to cause it to implode and revert to its 1990s status so that it will leave the field clear to challenge that second peer competitor.

      1. lambert strether

        Greg Bear, Forge of God and Anvil of Stars. Superb science fiction. Very good on small group dynamics, too. Plus believable aliens. Highly recommended

        1. playon

          I will have to check that one out. We recently read Darwin’s Radio which we enjoyed, and then the sequel (which was not as good as the first book).

        2. The Rev Kev

          Close, but not the one that I read. The book had all sorts of snippets – like how one couple in their ship were looking for a new home but the wife was always dissatisfied with what they found. One planet they found, for example, was being destroyed by pollution so the long-suffering husband would get rid of the pollution for those inhabitants but then they would move on. And the author made the point that in an earlier time, that the husband would be the guy happy to sit with a beer in front of his telly on a weekend which made the mini-story more human.

        3. LifelongLib

          IIRC there was an Outer Limits (the remake) episode where if aliens found a potential competitor species, they would give a member of it superpowers to see what it’d do. If the individual helped its fellows the aliens would destroy the species because it might survive long enough to be a problem. If it just used the powers for its own advantage the aliens would leave the species alone, figuring it would eventually self-destruct.

          The aliens don’t destroy our species.

          1. Fritzi

            The trashmovie but still fun as a guilty pleasure version is the Flash Gordon movie, where the Emperor Ming the Merciless, ruler of the universe, torments every planet in the universe inhabited by intelligent life with seemingly natural disasters, and destroys them if they perceive the hand of Ming at work.

            Until he gets his ass thoroughly kicked by some random American football player, of course.

            One could ask what the family blog the various quality actors were thinking at the time.

            But they seemed to have plenty of fun, and today all kinds of talented actors do movies who aren’t really made any less dumb by the fact that they are infinitely better from a technical standpoint.

            And good old Ming the Merciless was at least quite open and honest about his psychopathy.

            1. ambrit

              Of course, there was Ming’s degenerate nephew, ‘Wang the Bent.’ He turned psycopathy into a swinging scene.
              As far as remakes go, I prefer “Flesh Gordon.” If you can find the uncut version, you win a surprise!
              The Dino De Laurentis version? Oh my. Words fail me.
              Now I read that Disney is making a “live action” remake. The Disney Collective already ruined ‘A Princess of Mars.’ Will they never learn? (I know. Silly question.)

      2. Jeotsu

        “The Killing Star” by Zebrowski and Pellegrino (1995) covers a similar story. In the middle of the book is a series of (actual, I believe) emails between SETI founders including CarlSagan discussing the possibility of such a universe, and why SETI should focus on listening, and not broadcasting.

        The list of achievements that human civilisation achieved to get on the alien kill list was darkly amusing.

  11. Henry Moon Pie

    That series of tweets from Arnaud Bertrand re: Elbridge Colby was so shocking that I had to immediately run crazy Elbridge through DDG (I know) and see who he was. Predictable:

    Colby is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.

    I’ll leave it up to flora to see if he’s WEF.

    1. hemeantwell

      I believe he’s only stating a version of the “offensive realism” position. I’ve come to wonder if a significant chunk of the surveyed support for war with Russia reflects similar beliefs, covered over with an humanitarian glaze. And it’s not just due to the fact that the computer game Age of Empires has always had an impressive player base.

    1. flora

      From Greenwald:

      It’s a legal, not a health policy, question. The way our system works is such cases get decided in the first instance by a Senate-confirmed federal judge, then an appellate court, then SCOTUS if they accept.

      But since liberals don’t like they outcome, it’s depicted as abnormal.


      adding another Greenwald (don’t know if he is referencing USA Today or just in general):

      Writers for liberal outlets are trying to mislead the public into believing the judge in this case ruled on whether masks mandates are a good idea or not, even though they know it’s a lie: the only question was whether the CDC had the legal and regulatory authority to order this:


      1. marym

        Link to the ruling: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21636492-mask-mandate-order

        Media excerpts from the ruling:
        Along with the screen shot in gg’s tweet citing the portion of the ruling saying “procedures for agency rule making” weren’t properly followed, the ruling also seems (ianal, gg is) to turn on the definition of santitize and the concept of detention.

        The first part of the judge’s 59-page ruling turned on the meaning of the word “sanitation,” as it functions in the 1944 statute that gives the federal government the authority — in its efforts to combat communicable diseases — to issue regulations concerning “sanitation.”

        Mizelle concluded that that the use of the word in the statute was limited to “measures that clean something.”

        “Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” she wrote. “At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance.” She wrote that the mandate fell outside of the law because “the CDC required mask wearing as a measure to keep something clean — explaining that it limits the spread of COVID-19 through prevention, but never contending that it actively destroys or removes it.”

        Mizelle suggested that the government’s implementation of the mandate — in which non-complying travelers are [removed or denied boarding] was akin to “detention and quarantine,” which are not contemplated in the section of the law in question, she said.


  12. Swamp Yankee

    Re: Carl Schmitt —

    It’s funny you mention the guy, Lambert, because I am waiting for tomorrow, after the holiday (Patriot’s Day, the original one, Lexington & Concord, in Massachusetts and Maine), to reply to a literal member of the Democratic Machine with something about Schmitt.

    Said Machine-Lad is the son of a judge, got himself in early with Deval Patrick and Obama, worked at the Dept. of Homeland Security (no expertise there) did the revolving door thing, and now lives in a million dollar home on one of the finest streets in town. We went to HS together, and are part of a larger thread on politics with about 20 different earliest-millenials/Gen Y guys (mostly PMC, but not exclusively, some working guys, even a guy who did some real time in a real jail).

    The Machine Lad, who would be played by Brian Dennehy if they make a movie about us, said in response to my complaint that all Dems ever do is — nothing, then complain the Republicans are bad when called on it — by essentially saying, “but these are not normal times! Tucker Carlson! Trump scary! GOP Bad!” Which was my original complaint, but whatever, he isn’t that bright.

    He proceeded to say because these aren’t normal times, we should all essentially “shut up” and join the party line. I replied that I wasn’t inclined to give up freedom of inquiry or conscience, for anyone, ever.

    His argument, such as it is, is essentially what you (Lambert) have called “the Democrats’ State of Exception” — because of Gingrich/Bush/Tea Party/Trump/Desantis, etc., Dems can be held blameless and must be servilely supported no matter what.

    It’s authoritarian reasoning, which is interesting coming from the same people who bleated for four years about authoritarianism while giving Trump weapons and spying powers galore, but here we are.

    1. redleg

      Had Dems actually considered the “who” instead of shoving VBNMW up our a down our throats since 1981 they probably wouldn’t be in this situation.

  13. Kitten

    Oil Mogul Bankrolls Attempt To Buy Democratic Primary~
    That’s nothing! How about elect several governors, a vice president and control state tax policy for decades?


    The Getty Oil Family bankrolled Gavin Newsom

    and his predecessor Jerry Brown as well as Harris.

    Armand Hammer, the White Russian, head of Occidental Petroleum controlled Governor Pat Brown, Jerry’s father, through the 1960s and 1970s.

    Why do you think California does not have an Oil Extraction Tax?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      “The Psagot wine bottles, however, were not intended to symbolize any political stance by Harris, particularly given that the Biden administration frowns on settlement activity.”

      They “frown on” it, do they? Well that ought to convince them to obey international law, as Uncle Sugar continues to shower them with billions per annum to spend on more munitions to enforce even more illegal settlements.

  14. Mildred Montana

    >“The End of Progressive Intellectual Life” [Michael Lind, The Tablet].

    From the article: “…acronyms that stud post-intellectual progressive discourse: DEI, CRT, AAPI, BIPOC, LGBTQ+”.

    Being the insufferable pedant that I unfortunately am, I can’t help but point out that the above abbreviations, with the possible exceptions of AAPI and BIPOC, are ??? acronyms.

    An acronym is an abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word, e.g. NATO, NORAD, UNESCO.

    And now, back to your regular commenting.

    1. Point

      That Tablet article crystalizes what so many individuals have suspected, that their voices are not heard.
      What looks worse is that the funders just manipulate their audiences to act, as a type of pressure relief valve.
      Little that people really want gets accomplished, and what does gets watered down, or p****d on.

    2. Angie Neer

      Mildred, as a fellow stickler I sympathize with your point. But, I have become reconciled to the fact that language changes. The meaning of the word acronym has been changed by popular usage. It has become a synonym of “initialism”. I mourn the fact that the distinction is now useful only for pedantry, but it is a fact. Nothing personal.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I can accept language changes, and at my age, I believe I might claim that I have accepted and responded and adapted to numerous language changes. However, I cannot and do not agree with you that the meaning of the word ‘acronym’ has changed, so radically either popularly or otherwise. How exactly is an initialism different than an acronym and why and how should such difference affect a discussion using acronyms or initialisms. To me, the distinctions between them lack substance within an argumentation resolving more than cosmetic outcomes — among which I might include pedantry.

  15. Lee

    IM Doc writes: “I would guess with Omicron about 60% of the patients were on Dexamethasone – so no – not an adequate proxy” for hospitalization.

    Hopefully, some of the drop in hospitalizations is attributable to the vaccines and treatments that are effective during the viral phase thus preventing progression to the post-viral inflammatory phase, when antivirals are useless and drugs such as Dexamethasone becomes necessary. Ever the giddy optimist, me.

    Dr. Daniel Griffin’s COVID-19 treatment summary for 4/14/22

    1. curlydan

      So I read this and was a bit surprised: “Remdesivir -we have the 3 day early IV data suggesting an 87% reduction in progression based on the NEJM article.”

      I thought Remdesivir wasn’t really effective (e.g. WHO had removed it from its Covid treatment list), so I needed to look up the study he’s citing. Here it is–maybe it does work better than once thought?

      1. Lee

        The paper you cite: Early Remdesivir to Prevent Progression to Severe Covid-19 in Outpatients

        I’m guessing here, but the key word may be “early”. Initially during pandemic, and even currently according to Dr. Griffen*, the timing of what to give when was not adequately understood. A drug that is given during the appropriate stage of the disease progression is effective but if given at the wrong stage is either not helpful or can exacerbate illness.

        *See for example, TWiV 889: COVID-19 clinical update #110 with Dr. Daniel Griffin. The issue of timing is often mentioned by Griffin, typically toward the end of his presentations.

  16. ambrit

    Mini Zeitgeist Report.
    I had to toddle on down to the local Hospital/Clinic to pay a bill that was bordering on the Collections Zone. (These ‘modern’ medical billing departments would have made old Fagin proud. They can pick your pocket with professional skill.)
    None of the workers at the Clinic, a four storey edifice that rivals the next door Hospital in size, were wearing masks. A decent few of the ‘clients’ were wearing masks.
    I managed to talk the billing department down to twelve ounces of flesh for this month, paid, and left, quickly.
    The mood “on the street” was, sullen.
    Stay safe all.

  17. Darthbobber

    So after over a year of seeking a role for Harris where she can do no harm they think they’ve found it.

    Or maybe she’s on a secret mission to find Swamp Witch Hattie and get her to brew up a magic anti-Covid brew.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I figure because she won’t follow Covid protocols at the White House and can’t be trusted near Biden when he is around stairs.

    2. ambrit

      “Chick-a-boom, chick-a-boom, don’t ya just love it?”
      Harris has often reminded me of a cartoon character.

        1. ambrit

          I think it was featured on the “Groovy Ghoulies.” Sort of a Zombie Apocalypse cousin to the Archies.

  18. Bart Hansen

    That photo of the tree in the cemetery is a beautiful example of how a tree can flourish when not crowded by its neighbors. This is in spite of recent research showing the benefits from how trees communicate with their nearby brothers and sisters.

  19. upstater

    COVID report from rustbelt Central New York:

    Covid hospitalizations in Onondaga County nearly double in three weeks

    On Sunday, 98 county residents were in the hospital with Covid, and 96 today, County Executive Ryan McMahon said on Twitter. Three weeks ago today, it was 51.

    Ten county residents with Covid are in intensive care today, McMahon said.

    There were 1,089 new confirmed cases of Covid over the three days, including 240 at-home tests reported by county residents. McMahon reports the at-home tests to the public, but they are not included in the data that compares regions across the state.

    For weeks, Central New York’s Covid rate ran two to three times higher than the state average. State officials said last week they had figured out why: Central New York was the first region in the United States to see an outbreak of two newly identified strains of the omicron variant. Little is known yet about the strains, labeled BA2.12 and BA2.12.1, including whether one of their mutations will make the vaccines less effective.

    Meanwhile Hochul says everything is cool, everything is like pre-COVID and go to the office, parties and restaurants.

    My mother in-law took a bad fall recently and is in a local rehab center. We got an automated call last night COVID is visiting, with both some staff and patients are positive.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Thanks for sharing. My sympathies and sincerest wishes for everyone’s wellbeing during this turmoil.

  20. Mo.B

    Used to like Nina Turner until she joined the young turks. I have a BIG BIG problem with that.

  21. ChrisRUEcon


    Waste water don’t lie!

    Took it upon myself to look at the BioBot.io data last night. The divergence of the detection numbers from the case numbers when compared to directionally similar points (as in, trending upward with comparable detection levels) earlier in the pandemic is alarming. To see the wastewater graph rising like a rocket almost, while the case line trends flat tells a horrible story about the discontinuation of free testing.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Gawd I loathe him … he comes somewhat good once every other blue moon or so, but most of the time, he is a true to form team-blue acolyte. Even that small excerpt is enough to set me into a rage:

      How do people feel? They feel stuck and angry, they’re tired and overwhelmed, and that energy is being directed at Biden

      #FFS … feel? FEEL? What about NEED? What do people NEED? What DID PEOPLE NEED … when they CHOSE to put #JoeyDefoNotABadA$$ in the White House? As we say around here: what TANGIBLE MATERIAL BENEFITS were they VOTING FOR?!

      I dunno …

      $2K Stimmie checks? Nope.
      $15/hr minimum wage? Nope.
      Better management of the pandemic? 1M dead, no free testing, premature masklessness and “get back to work, you’re on own” as public health policy so … Nope.


      … then I choose to actually go read the article … #LawdHaveMercy

      “Biden is a decent man.”



      1. ChrisRUEcon


        > I don’t see stuff like this happening for that little twerp Conor Lamb. Not sure what’s going on here.

        I wonder how much the consultant grift pipeline is money-laundering making off of Lamb?

      2. ChrisRUEcon


        I don’t besmirch Nina anything … even the #TYT thing. For one, I care less about the outlet and more about how I determine someone feels about policy and the status quo. Secondly, at the end of the day, Nina Turner compared Voting For Joe Biden to choosing half a bowl of sh** when it was, dare I say, not politically expedient to do so, and that put her in my good stead for now, beeeeecauuuse … it turned out to be TRUE.


        PS: In going back to some old articles from the likes of #Vice where it’s claimed that she lost the special election due to blowback for that comment, I would beg to differ. I looked into that, and does anyone want to guess what the turnout was for that election?!

        Twelve. Percent.

        My only advice for #TeamTurner is that they have to do a whole lot better to beat Brown this time.

    1. Acacia

      From DeBoer’s article:

      that’s how Ukraine functions in the discourse right now, not as a rational political matter but as an emotional one

      Just as a side note: whence this knee-jerky emotional response? It’s not just about the Ukraine conflict, but that’s evidently the source of the emotional outburst du jour.

      Mass-media and/or social media induced aghastitude? Virtue signaling juiced by dopamine circuits on overdrive? Imperial arrogance? …? Any theories welcomed.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Trump’s election in November 2016 awakened millions of people who disliked him to the joy and thrill of letting their hatred run riot toward someone who they could convince their rational selves was a legitimate target for hate. “Not my president!”

        Well, hate is addictive. Since then, that hate has sought ever new outlets. Hate Putin for allegedly helping Trump … then hate anyone with a MAGA hat … hate white cops, then all whites, past and present, living or dead … then allegedly “white-adjacent” Asians, whether high-performing schoolkids or just random targets on the street … January 6 folks … unvaxxed folks … now it’s back to Putin again, this time including everything and everyone with any kind of Russian connection.

  22. Tim

    With regards to the A&F article, I object to statements that the clothes were nothing special. The fit actually made males look more athletic and masculine for seemingly the first time in the history of male fashion and the materials were thick and soft, absolutely worth every penny at a near-luxury price point compared to what you could find in a Bloomingdales, Neuman Marcus or Saks for way more..

  23. Carolinian

    This is good–the great acquiescence

    Readers may now suspect where all this is leading: to the main drag in Great Barrington. There we find people who are intent only on self-fulfillment and being good and kind and compassionate, while taking no responsibility for the events of their time because, after all, there is no purpose in life and “we are just here.” Being seen to be good and kind and compassionate is, of course, the essential thing.


    West coaster turned NY star Pauline Kael lived in Great Barrington after, as she said, she couldn’t take NYC any more. She would come into the city to see movies–staying at a hotel–and then retreat to the Berkshires. Like Patrick Lawrence she too turned a jaundiced eye toward “liberals” while nevertheless hearing those Nixon voters “out there in the dark, breathing.”

    Our bubble elite aren’t new but at least there was a time when successful figures like Kael had some memory of poverty and struggle. One wonders if current events are about to hand the current crop their comeuppance.

  24. Samuel Conner



    (Russia has a problem — still needs foreign reserves and isn’t getting them under the sanctions regime)



    (Russia is permitting $ and euro physical cash withdrawals from domestic banks — where is this paper coming from? maybe in the form of physical cash tendered by Euro countries to pay for energy purchases)

    One gets the impression from John Helmer’s writing that the current head of the Russian CB is “not with the program” that VVP is seeking to implement.

    His latest,


    asserts a tension within the R national legislature in terms of how to operate the R economy under a “detached from the West” regime. Will it be (my framing) “capitalism with Russian characteristics” or something closer to a socialist vision?

    At the very least, I suppose we’ll get a vision of what a near-autarky can accomplish when it recognizes its fiscal policy space.

    But perhaps the CB will stand in the way of that?

    “Who will rid us of these turbulent Central Bankers?”

    1. Polar Socialist

      I’m far from an expert, nor have I followed the issue that closely, but I’ve understood that the basic idea forward for Russia will be temporary liberalization of the economy at low level, while retaining tight control at the top.

      In other words, they are going for something that happened in the 90’s, when loose (or non-existent) regulations allowed for small enterprises to get imported stuff from all around the world to all those small kiosks that appeared everywhere.

      All that came, unfortunately, with organized crime taking over a lot of that business with the ensuing violence and other unsocial consequences. This time they hope to avoid that, I guess. We’ll see.

  25. JBird4049

    Agreement seems to be universal that a million dead in a pandemic and a proxy war with a nuclear power aren’t “issues.” Which is fine, I suppose, since the parties don’t think they’re issues either.

    I have to believe that these people are willfully stupid or they are mentally ill. For over twenty years, I was aware that it could all end at any moment, perhaps because of an accident; if by some miracle, WW III did not go nuclear, the conventional conflict would still devastate all of Europe and perhaps involve all of the major powers of both the East and the West.

    It is a similar dynamic with COVID. Everything I read, every class I took in history and biology all screams for quarantines and mass actions to stop it. But the people, the experts, approved by the system say no. Either they are lying or in a cult. They stick their heads in the ground and act as if saying something makes it true. Maybe in one’s head, but reality will still kill them and us.

    IM Doc said that we are an unserious nation. I would add that much effort is made by those in power to make us so; drown us all in hateful propaganda and destroy every institution, organization, and hollow out the government while preventing any efforts at repair. We were made so and until we realize that and make the effort to bring back those things that created, maintained, and ran our nation all we are going to be is a nation of clowns heading to that cliff.

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