2:00PM Water Cooler 4/28/2022

Patient readers, I must finish up a post on Paxlovid. However, because I have been extremely lax and remiss about Open Threads this week, this will be a temporarily Open Thread at 2:00PM, and I will then break my rule and add material until 3:00PM or so. –lambert

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Warbler Week at Naked Capitalism continues. From Maryland.

* * *


“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

“Building the “Big Lie”: Inside the Creation of Trump’s Stolen Election Myth” [Pro Publica]. “ProPublica has obtained a trove of internal emails and other documentation that, taken together, tell the inside story of a group of people who propagated a number of the most pervasive theories about how the election was stolen, especially that voting machines were to blame, and helped move them from the far-right fringe to the center of the Republican Party. Those records, as well as interviews with key participants, show for the first time the extent to which leading advocates of the stolen-election theory touted evidence that they knew to be disproven or that had been credibly disputed or dismissed as dubious by operatives within their own camp. Some members of the coalition presented this mix of unreliable witnesses, unconfirmed rumor and suspect analyses as fact in published reports, talking points and court documents. In several cases, their assertions became the basis for Trump’s claims that the election had been rigged. Our examination of their actions from the 2020 election to the present day reveals a pattern. Many members of the coalition would advance a theory based on evidence that was never vetted or that they’d been told was flawed; then, when the theory was debunked, they’d move on to the next alternative and then the next.” • “The walls are closing in!”

“Former police officer stands trial for role in U.S. Capitol violence” [Reuters]. “At the trial’s opening, jurors saw video footage showing Thomas Webster, 56, striking a police officer with a flagpole before tackling the officer to the ground. ‘This is a case about a former officer violently attacking a fellow officer,’ prosecutor Hava Mirell told jurors, adding that Webster was ‘rage-filled’ when he taunted and attacked the overwhelmed officer. Webster’s defense lawyer, showing the incident from another camera angle, told jurors that the officer ‘instigated’ the incident by punching Webster in the face….. Of the four Capitol riot defendants to face trial so far, Webster is the first to argue he was acting in self-defense.”

“McCarthy’s Trump tape was a ’nothingburger.’ Can the House GOP shrug off more audio?” [Politico]. “Kevin McCarthy’s caught-on-tape consideration of asking President Donald Trump to resign after the Capitol attack roiled the Beltway. Inside his conference, though, House Republicans are largely shrugging it off. And even the latest McCarthy recording — in which he said some of his own members posed a security risk — didn’t appear to immediately trigger an alarm among most members. Days after The New York Times released audio of McCarthy weighing a suggestion that Trump resign — which the House minority leader had previously denied — few Republicans appeared to take issue with it. McCarthy allies cited a bevy of reasons why his disavowal of his recorded comments were of little concern, from the emotional strain lawmakers experienced following last year’s insurrection to the way the newspaper asked for comment.”

Biden Adminstration

“Manchin Explores Possible Energy, Climate Package With GOP” [Bloomberg]. “Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is exploring an energy and climate package aimed at winning enough Republican support to skirt the partisan budget reconciliation process that has held hostage hundreds of billions of dollars in potential spending on related priorities. ‘If I can find something bipartisan, we don’t need reconciliation,’ Manchin, of West Virginia, said in an interview on Monday. A bipartisan energy package, like the infrastructure bill passed last year, could undercut the broader Democratic agenda but give President Joe Biden an election-year victory on an issue voters care about…. Manchin told reporters after the meeting that one area of common ground could be reform of the federal oil and gas leasing process…. Manchin also said Congress could focus on increasing domestic production of energy in the near term and provide incentives for climate-related projects in the longer term.” • Federal oil and gas leasing… I see the Democrats have sewed the midterms up.


* * *

MI: “Michigan Democrat who ripped colleague over grooming allegations says she received call from Biden” [The Hill]. ‘”I didn’t wake up on Monday morning thinking that, by Friday, I’d answer a phone call saying, ‘Hi, Mr. President,’ McMorrow said in a Twitter post on Saturday. ‘I’m humbled by @potus reaching out to discuss my speech, why we do this, and what it means for the soul of the nation. We can, and we will,’ McMorrow added. ‘#HateWontWin.'” • An utterly vacuous hashtag, because liberal Democrat are pretty good haters themselves.

PA: “Takeaways from Monday’s Pennsylvania GOP Senate debate” [The Hill]. “The candidates also debated whether it was time for Republicans to move on from the 2020 election as Trump continues to claim — without evidence — that widespread fraud robbed him of a win. ‘We cannot move on,’ Oz said, while others did not address the fraud claims as directly.” • Hmm.

PA: “Philly Democrats back Conor Lamb for Senate — over the front-runner and the hometown candidate” [The Inquirer]. “Philadelphia’s Democratic Party brass came off the sidelines and endorsed U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb in his Senate campaign. The vote by most of the city’s ward leaders Tuesday night solidified Lamb’s status as the establishment-favored candidate in Pennsylvania’s largest city, as he wages an uphill fight in the May 17 primary…. While Lt. Gov. John Fetterman leads the Democratic primary field in polls and fund-raising, Lamb has built a statewide coalition of party supporters, leaning into the insider track. Philadelphia’s building trades unions and Mayor Jim Kenney endorsed him in January.”


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.

* * *

“The Democratic Party Is Wasting Its Grassroots Energy” [Sam Adler-Bell, New York Magazine]. “There appears almost no grassroots energy or urgency of any kind on the Democratic side. After four years of fever-pitched marching and movement-building by anti-Trump resistors, antifascists, Democratic Socialists, and Black Lives Matter militants, the sudden quiet from the country’s left flank has been deafening. Where, I find myself asking, is the movement?… But wait. Listen. What is that sound? A growing crowd chanting “movement, movement, movement!” Who is that? By God, it’s the nonprofits! Whether one celebrates or laments the fact, it cannot be denied that nonprofits have taken the place of other civic or party institutions as the site of grassroots Democratic politics…. while the right builds a movement, the Democrats attempt to call one into being — by giving more and more money to insular activist NGOs that speak an alienating language to people in places where they do not frequent, among people they do not already know. The alternative — and you’ll be just shocked to hear me say this — is the only one that has ever worked. That is, the labor movement: a movement of the left that mobilizes and draws us together on the basis of our most basic associations and material interests.” • Euthanize the NGOs, as I have often said.

“Rent control for Colorado mobile homes is doomed by Jared Polis veto threat” [CPR News]. “Lawmakers on Friday moved to significantly trim back a bill that aimed to protect mobile home park residents from big rent hikes — after Gov. Jared Polis threatened to veto it. The bill, HB22-1287, would have set a cap on annual rent increases for mobile homes, making it the first statewide instance of rent stabilization or rent control. Polis told sponsors he would veto the bill if the rent limits weren’t removed, according to Democratic Rep. Andy Boesenecker. Boesenecker claimed his bill had enough support to pass the legislature as it was, but in the face of Polis’ opposition, he planned on Friday to amend it. ‘Absent another policy solution from the office of the governor to address this well-stated need, we felt it was necessary to pull lot rent stabilization out of the bill in order to ensure these other vital protections for residents,’ said Boesenecker, a first-year representative, in an interview.”

Republican Funhouse

“Why Hasn’t AIPAC Endorsed One of Congress’ Most pro-Israel Republicans?” [Haaretz]. “The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has now endorsed 109 of the 147 Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results through its new political action committee (PAC), but has yet to endorse one of Israel’s strongest supporters in Congress: Rep. Liz Cheney…. AIPAC’s failure to endorse Cheney begs the question: If it is prioritizing support for Israel above all else – regardless of party affiliation or other policy positions – then why has it not endorsed a member of Congress who has been very closely aligned with its mission statement for years? (Cheney’s office declined to comment for this story.)”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The pandemic that American politics forgot” [Financial Times]. “To do better next time, a system needs more than all the technical knowledge and practice it has gained this time. It needs a political incentive to change. The felling of careers and shaking of institutions that follow a national crisis is not (or not just) vindictive. It is often what spurs improvement in the future. It is hard not to admire a polity that can go through the loss of a million lives while remaining so familiar in its names, habits and preoccupations. It is even harder not to worry.” • The handling of the pandemic isn’t even an election issue, after a million dead. The death toll seems to have had no cultural impact, either. (Remember the AIDS quilt?) It’s remarkable.

A hard problem:

I don’t think there’s been a Wansee conference. The beauty of our political economy is that no conference has been needed.

“Under new Florida law, activist requests 62 school districts to ban the Bible, including LCS” [Tallahassee Democrat]. “School districts across the state are reviewing dozens of books, like ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison and ’50 Shades of Grey’ by E.L. James, at the request of parents who question whether these books are harmful for students. But Leon County Schools has only received one official complaint so far, and it’s about banning the Bible. ‘Let’s be honest — banning books is never a good idea, but what’s fair is fair, and with that in mind, please find attached my request to ban the Bible,’ said Chaz Stevens in an email to Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna. While Stevens’ attempt may highlight the law of unintended consequences, school officials pointing to a new law are reviewing the request and have even begun auditing the number of Bibles in capital city schools…. Stevens, a resident of Deerfield Beach, said he is an archbishop with the First Church of Mars and is ordained in California and Florida. He describes himself as ‘an atheist activist who likes banana daquiris.’ He’s grabbed headlines in the past in Florida for his Festivus pole display in the Florida Capitol. He said he sent 62 superintendents in Florida a request to ban the Bible to protest House Bill 1467, which was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 28. ‘My goal is to use the law as our expert politicians in Tallahassee intended,’ Stevens said. ‘There were no carve outs for religious texts, so I would assume they meant for them to be in play.'”


Lambert here: If some trusting, non-realist soul tells you that “Covid is over,” you can tell them that cases are up, transmission is up, test positivity is up, hospitalization is up, rapid riser counties are up, and wastewater is up, too. And this is all from data designed to support the narrative, and gamed within an inch of its life. So, if signals like that are flashing red, consider what the real signal must be like. (Note also this is all with BA.2 only, and with what the establishment considers an “immune wall” made from vaccination and prior infection. Since semper aliquid novi Africam adferre, and we’ve let ‘er rip at the airports…. Well, I just hope we get lucky. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

* * *

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness 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:

First decisive upward turn, so we’ll see how it goes. 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. Gottlieb thinks we only pick up one in seven or eight. In addition to the Fauci line, I have added a Democrat baby-blue dotted line for what the case count would be if it were 55,000 * 6 = 330,000. Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

Looks like the Northeast has passed the torch to the West.

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.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

We’ll need to wait to week or so for the universitities and Easter weekend to unkink the data. (Both service areas turned down; I don’t think this is because the college semester has ended, either; readers please correct me.)

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

From Biobot Analytics:

Also encouraging, in that the Northeast is flattening. Not encouraging, in that the West is not. (See also case counts and rapid riser counties.)

Cases lag wastewater data.

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

California and the Northeast looks slightly better; the Upper Midwest is getting worse. (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. In fact, every day I go to the same URL. The day before yesterday, at the usual URL, I found this disgrace to humanity:

Fortunately, CDC only moved the transmissibility data to a new URL. So here again is the map CDC doesn’t want you to look at:

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red. Now California is red as well. (It looks like portions of Maine went from High (red) to Substantial (orange), but that part of Maine is the Unorganized Territories, where virtually nobody lives.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

The baseline is still low. But hospitalization is most definitely up. (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: 1,019,774 1,019,008. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Numbers still going down, still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Still a bumpy ride…. (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 27 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 27 at 10:00 AM EDT. ZOMG they changed the artwork!

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Screening Room

“Here’s Why Movie Dialogue Has Gotten More Difficult To Understand (And Three Ways To Fix It)” [SlashFilm]. “I used to be able to understand 99% of the dialogue in Hollywood films. But over the past 10 years or so, I’ve noticed that percentage has dropped significantly — and it’s not due to hearing loss on my end. It’s gotten to the point where I find myself occasionally not being able to parse entire lines of dialogue when I see a movie in a theater, and when I watch things at home, I’ve defaulted to turning the subtitles on to make sure I don’t miss anything crucial to the plot. Knowing I’m not alone in having these experiences, I reached out to several professional sound editors, designers, and mixers, many of whom have won Oscars for their work on some of Hollywood’s biggest films, to get to the bottom of what’s going on. One person refused to talk to me, saying it would be “professional suicide” to address this topic on the record. Another agreed to talk, but only under the condition that they remain anonymous. But several others spoke openly about the topic, and it quickly became apparent that this is a familiar subject among the folks in the sound community, since they’re the ones who often bear the brunt of complaints about dialogue intelligibility. ‘It’s not easy to mix a movie,’ says Jaime Baksht, who took home an Oscar for his work on last year’s excellent ‘Sound of Metal’ and previously worked on Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘Roma.’ ‘Everybody thinks you’re just moving levers, but it’s not like that.’ This problem indeed goes far beyond simply flipping a switch or two on a mixing board. It’s much more complex than I anticipated, and it turns out there isn’t one simple element that can be singled out and blamed as the primary culprit.” • Have readers experienced this? Do we have any sound engineers who can comment?

The Gallery

This is not the shortest day of the year, but the etching is still lovely. A secular Saint Jerome:

Guillotine Watch

The rich are different….

Class Warfare

“Overnight Parking Walmart [How Long Can You Stay, RV’s, Sleeping In Car + More]” [QuerySprout]. “Whether you have had a long drive and need to rest for the night or maybe have fallen on rough times, you may be wondering if you can sleep in your car overnight while in the Walmart parking lot. Here is what I discovered. Generally, yes, Walmart does allow people to sleep in their cars overnight in Walmart car parks. Walmart has no official policy on overnight parking with cars, so it is up to the discretion of the store manager or after-hours security guard to permit you to stay. Additionally, it is legal to sleep in your car at Walmart, but Walmart has the right to wave you on since it is private property. But in most cases, the Walmart security guard or store manager will allow people to sleep in their cars overnight as long as there are no issues and you are respectful.” • News you can use!

“Introducing Left Wondering” [Kate Aronoff, The Lever]. “This is all to say that the world sucks, people know it and, in many cases, would like to feel like they are playing a positive role in making it better. The climate crisis is an awe-inspiring problem — a ‘hyperobject’ too massive to comprehend on its own, epoch-defining terms. For good reason, 60 percent of people in the U.S. are ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ worried about it. There’s an old lefty aphorism that if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. My gingerly edit would be: If you’re not deeply troubled, apoplectic, or depressed about a world rapidly losing its capacity to maintain life, then you’re either not aware it’s happening, a billionaire, and/or have become alienated — by no fault of your own —from what it means to be a human being.” •

News of the Wired

Jimenez is great:

* * *

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 AM:

AM writes: “Apple blossoms seen on my walk in Roger Williams Park on April 26, 2022. Could only get a section of the tree in focus – artsy or iPhone limited, you decide.” Well, I’m a f-64 type of guy, so everything in focus is what’s artsy to me. That said, what a lovely time of year!

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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. Ranger Rick

      I prefer to think of Elon Musk as a counterfactual for the argument that the rich are only black holes for money. Sometimes money comes out…

        1. ambrit

          If the standard of living of the ‘deplorables’ falls “on the street,” and no Oligarch hears of it, did it really happen?

  1. MacTerner

    On the ongoing drought, fire safety, gridlocked traffic; How about a couple million more housing units forced on communities across California?

    In addition to Senate Bill 9, which should generate 700,000 new housing units, Newsom also signed, (just after his recall election), Senate Bill 10, which would enable cities to upzone areas close to job centers, transit and existing urbanized areas to allow up to 10 units on a property without having to go through the California Environmental Quality Act review process.

    1. Fabian

      “Return on investment”

      Developers, real estate investors and realtors gave at least $5.3 million to help Newsom fight the recall as their industry pushed legislation to make it easier to build more homes in California.

      “We’re not building enough housing at all income levels in the state of California,” Newsom said last week as he signed more than two dozen bills aimed at boosting development. Critics suing the state over the new law allowing 10-unit apartment buildings dubbed it a “birthday present to developers.”


      “Organized labor donated at least $25.7 million — or more than one-third of the total the governor raised to keep his job. SEIU donated $6.6 million to the anti-recall campaign and deployed thousands of its members to knock on doors and call voters. “SEIU members will fight to protect the significant gains for workers and communities that we secured in partnership with our pro-worker Governor,” April Verrett, who sits on the executive board of SEIU California, said in a statement after the election.”

      Taxes for thee, but not for meeeee: The former executive director of California’s SEIU and her husband were charged with a number of crimes including tax fraud, embezzlement, perjury, and failure to pay unemployment insurance taxes. Alma Hernandez resigned from her post as the executive director on Wednesday.

    2. anon in so cal

      SB-9 and SB-10 were pitched as addressing the affordable housing crisis but only benefit Big Real Estate, whose poster person, Scott Weiner, wrote the bills.

      The Los Angeles City Council overwhelmingly opposed the bills, which destroy local control.

      I believe they allow a standard-size lot to be subdivided to accommodate four separate units.

      “Two major developer-driven housing bills head for Assembly floor
      Newsom may soon be asked to sign deregulation measures—at a time when Wall Street is moving fast into the CA housing market.”


    1. Polar Socialist

      a Russian disinformation expert

      Sorry for my confusion, but is she an expert in spreading disinformation about Russia or correcting disinformation by Russia?

      Or what do I care. If there’s a great narrative, I’ll buy it.

        1. anon in so cal

          Top investor in Newsguard = John McCarter, Atlantic Council.

          Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA = advisory board.

    2. Ranger Rick

      “According to the Wilson Center, she studies “the intersection of democracy and technology in Central and Eastern Europe” and she was an adviser on strategic communications to the government of Ukraine during her time as a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship. … Before her work advising the Ukrainian government, Jankowicz managed democracy assistance programs for Russia and Belarus at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.”

      I was disappointed to find she wasn’t hoisted from the Atlantic Council. What an interesting person. The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs is one of the DNC’s satellite NGOs.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Do these people realize that there’s a 50/50 chance that Donald Trump will be hiring for this position in 2025?

  2. deplorado

    Supply chain solutions:


    ” Beau Nanzarad @happyvalleyset

    Fun story from work: One of our clients deals in heavy equipment / machinery for industrial farming… They just bought 1.000 brand-new Miele washing machines, will disassamble them to get the micro chips inside, and then simply throw the rest away. Good night.
    7:27 AM · Apr 27, 2022″

    It gets even more clever in the comments… do read.

  3. antidlc

    A fight over coronavirus safety at journalists’ gala event
    White House correspondents rebuff proposal to install special lights to stop viral spread.

    This year’s event is a return to form, with Biden and multiple media and political leaders slated to attend and comedian Trevor Noah set to deliver a post-dinner performance. But it features a new wrinkle, as invitees deliberate the risks of gathering en masse. Some people infected with coronavirus after the Gridiron Club dinner on April 2 had mild cases that quickly resolved, but others experienced symptoms that lingered for days or weeks.

    1. LifelongLib

      IIRC a few days ago there was a link about anti-viral lights (UV?) in a lecture room causing eye injuries. So maybe the correspondents were right to reject them. Of course that and staying home might be even better…

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      One hopes they all get the Long Covid they seek to spread to everybody else in society.

  4. red plaid

    Data point from the Pacific Northwest:

    The Portland wastewater measurement is now at the same level as late December, while the reported case count is ~4X lower. Personally I think the true case count must be much higher, as 20% of my team at work (everyone works from home) currently have Covid (tested positive in take-home test), while prior to this only 10% ever tested positive in the prior 2 years.

    It seems that people here are done with Covid. The state has told all daycares that they cannot require masks, so my daycare was forced to drop their masking requirement. Even the Asian grocery stores no longer require masks and less than 50% of the workers are still masked. Sometimes I feel like I am the crazy one for being so cautious.

  5. Val

    Surely the manifestation of a Disinformation Governance Board long predates yesterday’s announcement by several generations or even a century or so. The important question as always is the actual membership and the structural control mechanisms, but the hallmark of western disinformation is how well it is governed.

    Huzzah for yellowthroats and apple blossoms and unsanctioned thoughts.

    Skulking, furtive warblers unite!

  6. Judith

    Interesting interview (transcript) about Ukraine and Zelensky:


    Ukrainian academic, Olga Baysha, author of Democracy, Populism, and Neoliberalism in Ukraine: On the Fringes of the Virtual and the Real, has studied Zelensky’s rise to power and how he has wielded that power since becoming president. In the interview below, Baysha discusses Zelensky’s embrace of neoliberalism and increasing authoritarianism, how his actions contributed to the current war; his counterproductive and self-absorbed leadership throughout the war, the complex cultural and political views and identities of Ukrainians, the partnership between neoliberals and the radical right during and after Maidan, and whether a Russian takeover of the entire Donbass region might be less popular among the local population than it would have been in 2014.

  7. JohnnySacks

    So glad to see our observation on the sound level in movies being validated. Yes, I do have hearing loss, my wife less so, but we added a nice surround sound system to our TV room, so it’s cranked up when we’re in entertainment escape mode.
    The volume goes from deafening during action sequences to barely audible whispers, it got so frustrating to pause, raise volume, rewind, that we just resort to turning on captioning.

    1. Alex Cox

      Studio movies are very expensive. Studios add a 20% overhead to the budget. And for various reasons (mainly incompetence among the produceriat, and nepotism) studio shoots drag on a long time.

      But the money clock is ticking and the studio needs to get the movie finished and to market a.s.a.p. So editing periods and budgets are slashed, sound design is reduced to fast dialogue editing and rudimentary, loud audio effects.

      What does that matter? The studios’ principal concern is China and the product will be dubbed there anyway.

    2. playon

      The music and sound effects in most films are just too damned loud compared to the dialogue. This is partly a result of digital audio which is less compressed and has greater dynamic range than older analog soundtracks. When watching a film at home I’m frequently turning the dialogue up and the music down multiple times. In many films the music is used to blatantly manipulate the emotions of the viewer, rather than having the acting and dialogue do the job, which in my opinion is a cheap short-cut. Ideally a great film should be able to move you without all the noise. I’m getting to the point where I much prefer films that use less music, as it is so often done in a hack or tasteless manner. This is often the case when the filmmaker is using music to build tension or to shock, as in thrillers, horror films etc.

      There is also a technical problem where if the audio is encoded in surround mode and you are playing it back on a stereo system or on headphones the audio can suffer. If possible make sure that whatever software is playing your movie is set to the appropriate setting (stereo vs surround).

    3. eg

      We have been struggling with the low volume of dialogue relative to other sounds for years now — cranking up the volume during dialogue and then back down again when action or music takes over. It’s annoying.

      A solution is to turn on subtitles …

  8. KD

    Anyone can be a billionaire. If you just get a job paying $1000 per hour, working 40 hours a week without a vacation, it would just take over 480 years.

    1. Bugs

      But you also need to give up those $5 coffees and use public transportation instead of taking Uber. Grit and resilience.

  9. super extra

    Biden asking for 33 BILLION for ukraine has bummed me out more than I thought possible. I’m young enough that I’m seriously considering expatriating. The thought of more decades of this is just too much. Kill off a million people (at least!) after a lost decade for the youngers and the poors and just keep doubling down again and again. God help us all.

      1. super extra

        I am looking based on two critera: can I live there without a car, and is it generally warm (my brush with covid left me unable to tolerate cold temperatures and I am unsure if it will change). Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil all have appeal. India, Turkey and Thailand are also on the consideration list.

        I’m not really sure how much to factor in climate change in my planning. The pacific nw, where I was for years, developed fire season sort of out of planned climate models (at least it seemed to me that it came out of nowhere). The southern plains, where I am now and where I grew up, has had increasingly colder winters – more blizzards than I remember as a kid, longer cold spells, more freezing days. So ‘can I afford to buy a reasonable apartment in a place I don’t have to drive where the weather isn’t terrible’ is roughly what I’m aiming for.

        1. Bugs

          Quick reality check – all the countries you mentioned have strict immigration laws. And each of the legal regimes are very different. You can’t just move somewhere and start a new life, unless you have a local spouse or ~100k+ liquid (and can provide proof) and competent local lawyers to help you. And don’t forget that US citizens are double taxed. Giving up citizenship also costs money and will probably get you on a list. You can always chance it on a tourist visa but if you’re caught, you’re likely not going back there. That said, there are some countries starting to offer “digital worker” visas – that’s worth looking into.

          1. playon

            There are thousands of Americans living in Mexico with expired visas or no green cards. Immigration policy doesn’t seem to be too well enforced or perhaps there is some bribery going on. In the case of Thailand, some people perpetually renew their visas by leaving and reentering the country every 6 months (it helps if you are near a border). If you want to move somewhere warmer, be careful you don’t end somewhere that will be experiencing drastic climate change effects from heat or sea level changes. That will probably be the case with Thailand, much of Bangkok could be underwater in 20 years and masses people would be migrating away from the city. Other places I would consider would be Uruguay, Portugal etc. If I was younger I would definitely be planning to GTF out of the USA as the trajectory of decline here seems to get steeper every day.

          2. super extra

            not sure what I said that implied I needed a reality check but I assure you I’m doing actual research on actual expatriation and not jumping a tourist visa whilst working remotely. without going into my personal situation I will just say that I have a reasonable family and personal connection to latin america, already speak a little spanish, am comfortable learning new languages, and had hoped to buy property in the US but was priced out of multiple markets because they are quite literally insane here. Oh, also, I don’t want to drive, this is impossible outside of a handful of north american cities.

            The appeal of the other three countries is they have large and dynamic expat communities where my lack of the language wouldn’t be quite such a hassle while i was scouting for locations, I just don’t like flying enough to plan for going over oceans with any regularity.

      2. AndrewJ

        And how do you do it if you’re a depressed, stressed-out pleb without a spare language or expensive university education?

      3. johnnyme

        One option to consider (if you’re interested in Europe) is the Dutch American Friendship Treaty which makes it easy for US citizens to obtain a residence permit in the Netherlands if they start a business (apparently just freelancing counts) with a minimum investment of only 4500 euros.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Does that treaty apply to any remaining legacy Overseas Territories that The Netherlands may still have in the Caribbean or some other warm place?

            Also, doesn’t the US still have some Virgin Islands? And there is Puerto Rico, if you are prepared to fit in and not be a problem . Or do the Puerto Ricans consider an Anglophone American being there to be inherently a problem, just by definition?

  10. Dr. John Carpenter

    ie Movie Sound: my last credit has been a while ago and the majority of what I’ve done was working with bands. But I have a theory based on my experience. I think it’s a mixture of the Technology and Mixing for Theaters headers.

    Example: if I’m recording a standard rock band, let’s say, I might have 24 different tracks of audio to essentially fit into two (assuming standard stereo listening.) I always mixed things in a visual manner. I’d picture a box and I only have that much space. Any time I move a slider up, I’m filing the box that much. The idea is for everything to have a place in the box. Some need more, some need less. But you can’t over fill the box as if things start overlapping, the bigger thing crowds out the smaller.

    Modern movies have an insane amount of sound in them. Even if you are mixing for a modern Dolby Atmos setting, which may have as many as 13 or more channels, you still have a finite sized box. You still have to put all these sounds in that box. I’ve looked at sessions for modern action movies and the amount of stuff is just nuts! And it all has to go somewhere.

    So if you’re trying to cram all this stuff in to a finite amount of (audio) space, stuff is going to get lost. Dialogue just can’t compete with foley and sfx most of the time. Unless you are really careful to carve out the parts spectrum where the human voice lives, it’s going to get buried. I’ve run into this with my bands, but it’s much easier when I’m working with a few instruments with defined ranges vs. stuff that is all over the audio spectrum, including the space where dialogue goes. Not trying to demean those working in this area, but that’s a hard balancing act to pull off.

    And on the mixing for cinema side of things, I mentioned Dolby Atmos. A lot of people have no idea what that is. Movies today are played on anything from a state of the art theater setup to a cell phone with one tinny speaker. The problem is, with modern movie audio, I think it’s impossible to make one mix which will cover all those bases and sound acceptable.

    Again, when I’m working with my bands, I try to figure out where their music is going to be listened to most. For instance, I’ve worked with a rap artist and we would take the mixes out to his car and we would adjust based on what he heard. His intention was it had to sound good in his car. Most people don’t go for a high end stereo or something but a middle of the road home stereo. (The Yamaha NS-10 studio monitors became so famous not because they were incredible, but because they sounded so average and if you got a good mix on those, it would sound great on a high end system.)

    The problem with movies is the potential situations to consider are so much more varied. I would have to think of home stereo, streaming, radio, and usually that’s about it. Again, with movies, you could be watching one in the highest of high end theater or on a phone. Ideally for movies, you’d want to have a mix for streaming, a mix for theaters, a mix for home, etc. But that’s not feasible. I know how hard it is to mix for stereo and have just the small range I have to cover covered. I can only imagine the nightmare of working on the movie side of things.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. I just know how hard it is to get a band sounding right, especially when the guitarist wants to double his track and the keyboard player wants to add another line and they want gang vocals on the chorus and… I’ve opened movie session files before and they’re a lot of fun to play around with but I’d hate to have that be my job.

    1. GC54

      Even big guns screw it up. Chris Nolan”s awful Interstellar had occasionally unintelligible voices. Not to mention banalities when you could hear. But nice eye candy if you are into supermassive black hole accretion disks.

    2. jsn

      I read something a while back by a retired movie sound person saying pretty much what you’re saying.

      All the different players on a production want to optimize particular things for particular reasons and there’s so many ways to do so that inevitably something gets traded off.

      Apparently, according to this person, there are directors who are more concerned about the atmospherics created by the sound track than much of the dialogue. Not surprising really in such a visual medium. That was the reason this person gave for sound people’s unwillingness to go on the record about it.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        It’s also such a word of mouth business, if you get on big projects and want to stay on big projects, you learn when to keep your mouth shut. I have no doubt it’s frustrating for the engineers and mixers. I’ve never met anyone in the biz who wanted to do a bad job. At the end of the day though, you are very much doing a job for a client and ultimately, the client has the last word. You see this a lot in music with Internet experts complaining about this or that engineer, who is an absolutely A-lister in the field, because they mastered a CD overloud. Well, I guarantee they were doing what the band, the producer or the label requested them to do. These folks get to be the fall guys and gals, but they aren’t the ones suggesting to push everything up so there’s no dynamic range and it’s unpleasant to listen to. I guarantee that. I’m sure the movie biz is the same way.

        1. jsn

          I’m an architect, same thing goes here: my work is as good (and occasionally bad) as my clients.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I notice too that with new films that when I am watching them at home, I have to ride the volume control. So there will be an action sequence and I have to turn the volume down because it is so loud. But then you will have a few people talking and I have to turn the volume right up to hear what they are saying. Then more action and the sounds has to go right down. And if I am too slow with the volume controls, the wife in the next room complains about the large amount of noise from the TV.

      Just now seen that playon has made a near identical complaint.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        And the response was correct too. Back in the analog video days, the audio would be dynamically compressed in order to fit the bandwidth of the media. What that means is, you have the difference between the loudest sound and the quietest sound. For theater use, even in the 70s and 80s, the difference between those two figures could be larger than if your were talking broadcast, cable or videotape because the sound chain was higher quality. But it had a good side effect, as most people had one smallish speaker in their tv so the end result improved the sound there.

        But now streaming, Blu-ray, etc can equal the dynamic range you’d get for theaters. So you end up getting a much closer copy of the theater version, but in practice, that’s not always the best option for the living room. A lot of TV manufactures have a sound mode that will compress the sound to help. I don’t think they name them or explain them in a way that’s the easiest to understand.

    4. fjallstrom

      For movies, I wonder why they don’t do what is done in computer games: keep dialogue, music and effects as three different tracks. Then do a mix for theater and traditional TV and let the user set the volume of dialogue, music and effects in the DVD/streaming.software.

  11. Carolinian

    Re stolen election–I’ll see your 2020 stolen election conspiracy theory and raise you one 2016 Trump was a secretly recruited agent for Putin election conspiracy theory. Arguably the Dem version was far crazier and they also called for Trump to step aside after the result.

    Can the Dems just drop all this? Given that Trump now polls higher than Biden it could be that lots of independents are having regrets about their vote and wish they had voted for Trump. Plus there’s Huntergate waiting in the wings. Going on about the “insurrection” is merely preaching to the converted. That’s not the group they need to reach.

    1. ambrit

      As long as they can continue to rake in the cash, whether in or out of office, members of the Democrat Party don’t ‘need’ to reach anybody worth less than a dozen millions or so.
      I wonder who Trump will have as his Veep this time. The old one was too d— principled. Trump could end up sort of like how FDR played “Musical Veeps” during his reign. It’s too funny to think that Trump might be the “real” ‘Reincarnation of FDR.’

      1. LifelongLib

        Well, FDR’s first VP became anti-New Deal (not a good look), and it was more Democratic Party leaders than FDR himself who wanted to replace 2nd VP Wallace with Truman. Insiders knew FDR wouldn’t live through his 4th term and that the VP would be the next President. Considering that Strom Thurmond got more votes than Wallace in 1948 the decision to dump Wallace may have been right, from a partisan perspective at least.

      2. Hepativore

        Sanders said that if he ran again in 2024, his caveat is that it is only if Biden does not run for reelection. As I am not sure if Biden can even make to 2024, the DNC might just use the basement strategy again with a Biden body-double, as well as cover for the rare public appearance or two. The DNC would stop at nothing to keep Sanders away from the presidency, including changing the rules on the fly like they did for Bloomberg, or simply getting rid of the primaries altogether and appointing their candidate from the very beginning.

        The Democratic Party does not care if it wins or loses, as long as it can thwart the left. How can people as voters put pressure on a party that is perfectly okay with forfeiting elections in order to appease its donors? I am sure that if Roe vs. Wade gets overturned, the DNC can ride the fundraising gravy train on that for years, even if they have no intention of ever trying to reinstate it if they ever control Congress and the presidency again.

        After the DNC rigged the primaries to cram Biden down our throats, I thought that Trump would have actually been preferable. While I would have never voted for Trump, I thought that since Biden would have largely continued most of Trump’s policies, it would have been better to have Trump as a lame duck and never have to worry about him ever again. I regarded this as being better than giving somebody like Biden incumbency for 2024. Since Biden is fading fast, I am sure that the Democratic party has an equally horrible plan for 2024, and if it fails we get Trump or DeSantis.

    2. jefemt

      As an independent, I can only speak for myself, but there was NO WAY IN HELL I would vote for Trump in 2020.
      There is NO WAY IN HELL I will vote for Trump in 2024, should he make the Big Show.

      I did vote for Biden, as more of an exercise in Algebra.
      Regret it, generally, especially as his decline is becoming more evident, his Veep is estranged and who knows, and President Manchin and Veep Sinnema vex me to apoplexy.
      I really despise the present two-sides-of-the-same-coin grifter parties.

      Non-solution and the worst thought… never voting again on national matters.

      Green/ Progs don’t exist, although I am told that all six of them are so Radically Far Left and effective in swaying the 535 and creating meaningful law and policy shift that they are ruining things for team Dim and the sensible centrists.

      I recall not long ago (2012-2016) the punditry affirmatively declared that Repugs would be a mere shadow of themselves and gone by the 2020’s. Hmmmmmmmm

      I look back at the last seven years , in the fog of war and covid, and try to recall all of the truly shocking stuff that has come to pass, and I cannot remember half of it.

      Easy to ponder end of times/ end of days, and for this old cowboy, being Left Behind. I will hang with Trump, Reagan, Friedman, Hitler, and the cast of thousands… I will miss most of my dogs terribly.

        1. anon in so cal

          In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations many months prior to election 2020,
          Biden said he wanted NATO expanded eastward to include Ukraine. That was tantamount to a declaration of war against Russia; to Russian ears, anyway.

          Scott Ritter and Glenn Greenwald are reminding us how Biden pushed the WMD lie before GW Bush. Biden ridiculed Ritter, calling him, “Scotty Boy.” As head of the Senate FRC, Biden pressured other Dems to approve the war.


    3. Tom Doak

      Going on about the Insurrection is an attempt to get particular people “disqualified” from eligibility as candidates.

      It’s like Karen appealing to the store manager, or to HR at work, but via the legal system. And that’s a very Democrat twist on things. The Republicans didn’t worry about trying to disqualify Hillary or Biden; they were happy to run against them.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        But let’s remember, Trump was the candidate Hillary wanted to run against in 2016. The dems and the media did all they could to make it happen. And then he actually won…

  12. Mikel

    “The handling of the pandemic isn’t even an election issue, after a million dead. The death toll seems to have had no cultural impact, either. (Remember the AIDS quilt?) It’s remarkable.”

    That started one mass shooting and overdose at a time…

  13. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” COVID-19: how do you convince people that the people in power actually want them to die? ”

    Different convincement-seekers will try different approaches. I use the approach of phrasing it as a question . . . . if the Upper Class wanted to kill 7 billion people over the next hundred years and make it look like an accident, how might they do it? People who will not entertain a ” tinfoil theory” might think about a ” tinfoil question” purely theoretically.. . . at first.

    1. Ranger Rick

      “X does not do Y, therefore they are doing Z” constructions, very popular in the past few years, skirt extremely close to fallacy if not complete non-sequitur. Intent requires a pretty high level of proof, and I’m a firm believer in incompetence before malice.

      But like I told my co-workers at a meeting early in 2021, we’re lucky as hell that COVID-19 is as mild as it is, because if it was a serious disease we’d all be dead by now.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I think the tell is that our governing elite are mostly enthusiastically getting infected with COVID-19. That speaks mostly to vast ignorance, incompetence, or both at play rather than malevolent intent, even if the outcome is more or less the same for the rest of us.

    2. ambrit

      My go to raising class consciousness question is: “When was the last time someone in a nice car or truck offered you a lift?”
      I’ve had some truly “funny” looks from people that I have asked that question of.
      Getting their attention is the first necessity.

      1. LifelongLib

        C. 1970 my family was driving across Montana. My mom let the car drift too far to the right and we got stuck on the soft shoulder. A little while later a man in a Cadillac stopped to see if we were OK. He then drove on to the next town and sent back a tow truck for us. My grandmother was surprised, saying “Usually people with cars like that won’t help you.” In general I agree, but there are exceptions.

  14. Sardonia

    “The death toll seems to have had no cultural impact, either. (Remember the AIDS quilt?) It’s remarkable.”

    Gays were fashionable then. Old folks, not so much these days….

    1. The Rev Kev

      Of course back then you had an increasingly senile President unwilling to help people whereas now you have, uhhhh, never mind.

  15. Mark Gisleson

    “Why Hasn’t AIPAC Endorsed One of Congress’ Most pro-Israel Republicans?”

    I couldn’t get past the Haaretz firewall but it is not uncommon for office holders to ask allies not to endorse them. I’ve never been to Wyoming but I can’t imagine that many voters there much care about an AIPAC endorsement. My guess would be that Liz Cheney hasn’t been endorsed at the request of Liz Cheney.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Liz is getting tons of money from PMC Democrats who are convinced that all she needs to win in Wyoming is to run her television commercials 24/7/365. The minute Trump hated her, they decided they loved her. She will have so much campaign cash that Zelensky may ask her for some.

    1. howseth

      Also, Bitcoin’s energy usage does not equate to carbon emissions. Currently, 73% of the industry is employing carbon-neutral sources. Foundry, along with many of our peers, is part of the Crypto Climate Accord, agreeing to be 100% carbon neutral by 2040.

      So reassuring – New York plans to use up vast amounts of energy – until at least 2040 – to crypto mine – a technology that excites drooling speculators, Wall Street Greed – and various criminals. (oh, stop, you’re just jealous!) all to make NY competitive… Why not store nuclear waste instead upstate? Jobs, jobs jobs

      So, That’s the best decision they can come up with to make NY competitive? Competing with what – extinction? What a world!

      1. Yves Smith

        Right. All this says, even if true, is that Bitcoin miners have gotten their fat greedy paws on the “best” sources of electricity. They’ve just pushed more essential users into more environmentally damaging electricity sources.

  16. jr

    re: Congressional Groomers

    You have to wonder if Biden was calling to share advice about grooming allegations with McMorrow, to share advice about grooming, or to ask advice about grooming. Perhaps she will be invited to an Oval Office meeting with the President. I hope she wears a nice perfume if that’s the case.

  17. scarnoc

    Residential use of water in my beautiful Golden State amounts to about 10% of the total. The LA metro restrictions basically do nothing, and our governments have some other agenda afoot. Propaganda? Training Angelenos to live in the pods and eat the Amazon Corp bug meat? Something worse?

    I’m a huge proponent of destroying lawns and replacing them with waterwise natives or vegetable gardens. That’s a good outcome. Less trees is a very bad outcome. Will Metro let Angelenos use Brad Lancaster’s curb cuts to help trees drink rain? I’m guessing not. Will they encourage rooftop water collection into cisterns? It’s practically illegal in CA, so no. Will Sacramento tell the Ag billionaires who use 80% of the water to destroy their orchards and let the central valley rewild? LOL.

    1. Acacia

      Training Angelenos to live in the pods and eat the Amazon Corp bug meat?

      Mr. BoBo at WorryFree Corporation has an offer to make.

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