2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Warbler Week at Naked Capitalism continues. From Tompkins, NY. There’s a lot going on, but you have to turn it up to hear the background.

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Jan. 6 committee to hold series of hearings starting in June” [NBC]. “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold a series of hearings on the probe in June, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said. There will be as many as eight hearings, the first on June 9, with some scheduled for prime time and others during the day, he said. Thompson told reporters as he left the Capitol on Thursday that the public will hear from outside witnesses, people ‘we’ve not heard from before,’ adding that ‘their testimony will be on point as to why this investigation was so important.’ ‘We’ll tell the story about what happened,’ he said. ‘We will use a combination of witnesses, exhibits, things that we have through the tens of thousands of exhibits we’ve interviewed and looked at, as well as the, you know, hundreds of witnesses we’ve deposed or just talked to in general.'” • I remember the Watergate hearings. I also remember the Iran-Contra hearings and, in more recent times, Benghazi. I wonder which these hearings will most resemble?

“House panel to explore impeachment, judicial ethics in wake of Ginni Thomas texts” [The Hill]. “House Democrats on Wednesday will hold a hearing on Supreme Court ethics and the possibility of impeaching justices, a move that follows the revelation of controversial text messages from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas…. In March, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack revealed Thomas’s text messages to Meadows urging him to not let Trump concede the 2020 election, asserting without evidence that there was fraud in the election and expressing frustration that Republican members of Congress were not doing more to help overturn the results. That further heightened outrage at Clarence Thomas, given that he could rule on cases about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. A group of 24 House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts and Thomas asking Thomas to recuse himself from such cases….. Impeaching Clarence Thomas would be a heavy political lift.”

Biden Adminstration

“Biden seeks $33 billion war chest to support Ukraine, Zelenskiy wants quick approval” [Reuters]. • So now we’ve got to check with President Manchin and President Zelensky?

“Sanders pressures Biden on Amazon unions: ‘The time for talk is over’” [Politico]. “Bernie Sanders says Joe Biden’s the most pro-union president he’s ever seen, at least rhetorically speaking. Now he’s leaning on his 2020 primary rival to match those words with action. The Vermont senator sent Biden a Tuesday letter, obtained by POLITICO, asking the president to cut off federal contracts to Amazon until the massive company stops what he calls its ‘illegal anti-union activity.’ As the Senate Budget Committee chair, Sanders will also hold a hearing next week dedicated to calculating how many federal contracts go to companies that are fighting back against unionization efforts, with a focus on Amazon. While Sanders’ Amazon antagonism is no surprise, his squeeze on Biden for action against the company signals a new phase of his pro-union strategy. He’s urging Biden to create a new executive order that prevents companies that violate labor law from being eligible for government contracts. And asked if Biden has fallen short in his union support thus far as president, Sanders said bluntly in an interview: ‘Yes, he has.'”

“White House makes last push to save some of Build Back Better bill” [Financial Times]. “The White House is making a last-ditch effort to salvage parts of Joe Biden’s once-sweeping economic agenda, junking spending commitments and focusing on deficit reduction in an attempt to win over centrist Democratic senators. Officials told the Financial Times they still want to pass elements of the Build Back Better programme, Biden’s attempt to overhaul the US welfare system, despite previous resistance from within the president’s party. However, the revised legislation is likely to be a severely reduced version of the original, containing minimal if any social spending, as part of an effort to appease Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia who torpedoed the bill’s previous iteration. The White House is desperate for congressional victories as the president’s approval slumps in the polls and the party is predicted to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in November’s midterm elections. Experts warn that lawmakers have only weeks to pass any legislation before members of Congress leave Washington to start campaigning.” • The party Schumer and Pelosi built is doing what they built it to do. Somehow, I don’t see “deficit reduction” as the issue that will carry the day in the midterms.

“Biden says he’s considering student debt forgiveness, but less than $50,000” [NBC News]. “‘I am considering dealing with some debt reduction,’ he told reporters at the White House. ‘I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction [per borrower],’ he noted, ‘but I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there are there will be additional debt forgiveness.’ ‘I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks,’ Biden said.” • You can drown in six inches of water just well as six feet. Why not abolish it all? (And for those who paid, give it back. Why not?)

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OSHA hearing on rules for covid-19 worker protection in health care settings (SG), a thread:

Here’s a link to the aerosol portion of the show, starting with Prather (I can’t embed, sorry). SG: “The speakers are astonishingly frank about the failings of the CDC.”

“Servers at correspondents’ dinner not approached about testing, vaccination requirements, union says” [The Hill]. “A union representing the servers for the upcoming White House Correspondents’ Dinner reportedly said they have not been approached about COVID-19 testing and vaccine requirements for the event. The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) said earlier this month that it will require attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to show a same-day negative test to attend the April 30 dinner. Unite Here Local 25 representative Benjy Cannon told Axios on Wednesday that the Hilton hotel, where the event will be hosted, hadn’t yet approached servers about those requirements.” • How’s the ventilation?


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GA: “Kemp’s Special PAC Ordered to Stop Raising Money Until Primary” [Bloomberg]. “A federal judge ordered a special political action committee to stop raising money for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s re-election bid until after the May 24 primary, putting a temporary end to a money-raising advantage the incumbent has enjoyed for months. Judge Mark Cohen of Georgia’s Northern District in Atlanta said on Thursday that the committee, Georgians First, must wait until after the primary to continue raising money. The PAC is one of a handful of so-called “leadership committees” created by state legislation last year that allow incumbents to raise unlimited amounts of money from individual donors. Opposing candidates can use the committees, too, but not until after they become their party’s official nominee. Democrat Stacey Abrams’s leadership committee, One Georgia, had petitioned the court to allow her to begin using it weeks ago on the grounds that she was the only Democratic gubernatorial candidate on the ballot and therefore the de facto nominee. Cohen rejected that argument, suggesting she would have better luck asking that Kemp’s special committee’s fundraising be temporarily stopped, which her campaign then did.”

IA: “Iowa Democrats won’t speak truth to ethanol power” [Bleeding Heartland]. “Iowa Democrats have almost uniformly supported policies to benefit the ethanol industry since the first federal Renewable Fuel Standard became law in 2005. The orthodoxy surrounding this issue—which University of Iowa research engineer Chris Jones has dubbed ‘The Iowa Singularity’—has influenced federal policy, because presidential hopefuls from both parties have pledged allegiance to ethanol when campaigning in Iowa. Many Iowans don’t realize that corn-based ethanol was intended to be a transitional fuel toward cellulosic ethanol, produced from plant material rather than grains. But cellulosic production never proved viable on a large scale; Instead of questioning the value of an ongoing massive government investment in ethanol, most Iowa Democratic politicians have stuck with the program, demonstrating their loyalty to the industry at every opportunity.”

MI: “Michigan Republican resigns from GOP committee citing ‘delusional lies'” {Detroit News]. “For five years, Daunt has been one of about 100 members of the Republican Party’s state committee, a panel that helps guide the party’s decisions. But that ended Tuesday with his immediate resignation, three days after a contentious GOP convention in Grand Rapids. Instead of focusing on Democrats’ ‘myriad failures,’ Daunt wrote that ‘feckless, cowardly party ‘leaders’ have made the election here in Michigan a test of who is the most cravenly loyal to Donald Trump and re-litigating the results of the 2020 cycle.’ Daunt described Trump as a ‘deranged narcissist.'”

NY: “New York’s top court throws out district lines and delays primary” [Politico]. “New York’s top court on Wednesday rejected the state’s new congressional and state Senate lines, complicating this year’s election process and likely delaying at least some of the state’s June primaries. The state Court of Appeals found that lawmakers failed to follow the ‘prescribed constitutional procedure’ for drawing maps and that those they created ‘were drawn with an unconstitutional partisan intent.’ Under the set of maps approved by the Legislature earlier this year, Democrats were poised to pick up as many as three seats in the House.” • Oopsie.


“The 2024 Waiting Game” [The Cook Political Report]. “For months now, discussions about 2024 have mostly focused on whether Donald Trump will run for president. This framing works out well for both Trump and the political media: Trump gets the spotlight he craves, and the political media gets the clicks and eyeballs they need. But, the far more exciting and consequential question is whether or not Pres. Joe Biden will be on the ballot in 2024. Democratic voters are at best lukewarm at the prospect of a Biden reelection campaign. That sentiment has been picked up in both quantitative and qualitative surveys…. Given we haven’t seen either one of these scenarios — a president retiring after one term or getting a serious primary challenge — in many, many years, it’s hard for us to imagine how this would work. Would the party apparatus rally around the incumbent or let the chips fall where they may? Would Biden announce his intentions on whether he’ll seek a second term early enough to give his potential successors or challengers enough time to prepare? If he decides to forgo reelection, how early will he be willing to declare himself a lame-duck? The longer he waits, the messier the Democratic nomination fight. Will a Democrat jump into the race regardless of Biden’s intentions? And then there’s the 800-lb gorilla in the room: Vice President Harris. It’s no secret that many in the political establishment see her as a weak 2024 nominee. She also lacks grassroots strength outside of DC for a potential candidacy. But, while the vice president has traditionally been the obvious successor in a case like this, that doesn’t mean it will happen. But, say many Democrats I speak with, if not Harris, than whom? And, who on the Democratic bench can beat Trump in 2024? I don’t know. And, guess what, no one else does either…. Consciously or not, many voters, including many Democrats, voted for Biden in 2020, assuming that he would be a one-term president. They weren’t thinking about the logistical and political difficulties that a one-term presidency would pose to the party in four years. Their top issue was beating Trump, and they saw him as the best choice to do that. At this point, however, Democrats are ready for someone new, and Democratic elites should dismiss these concerns at their own peril.” • When Biden is still the pick of the litter, you know you’re in trouble.

“Seven Lessons Democrats Need to Learn — Fast” [David Brooks, New York Times]. “The Democrats’ largest problem is this: We are living in an age of fear, insecurity and disorder on an array of fronts. The Republicans have traditionally been known as the party of toughness and order. Democrats are going to have to find a posture that is tough on disorder, and tough on the causes of disorder.” • They seem to be working on that. Look at Eric Adams and the homeless, for example.

“DeSantis amplifies 2024 chatter with trip to Nevada to campaign for Senate candidate Laxalt” [CNN]. “Coming off a showdown with Disney and a month of headlines for waging fights over hot-button social issues, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced himself to Republican primary voters in Nevada during a Wednesday campaign stop for US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt. DeSantis recounted for a packed Las Vegas bar his battles against the Biden administration and Disney and rattled off his conservative victories. He called Florida the ‘tip of the spear’ — a hint at possible future fights — and said Laxalt ‘will represent my voice in the United States Senate.’ ‘This is our opportunity to rattle the foundations of this decaying administration in Washington, DeSantis said. The event here marks the first time DeSantis as governor has ventured outside the Sunshine State to publicly campaign for a fellow Republican, and it comes amid growing chatter about DeSantis as a 2024 presidential contender. Nevada Republicans, used to presidential hopefuls making excuses to visit, were eager to get an early look at DeSantis. Ninety minutes before the event, more than 100 people were waiting outside Stoney’s Rockin’ Country near the Las Vegas Strip to hear from the Republican governor who took on Disney, helped enact a ban on certain school instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity, and opened Florida to tourists when many Vegas casinos struggled through Covid-19 restrictions.”

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.

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Republican Funhouse

“How Nebraska’s Governor Became A General In A Right-Wing War Against Biden’s Conservation Goal” [HuffPo]. “Margaret Byfield wasn’t going to wait for actual information. She’d quickly concluded that the Biden administration’s goal of conserving 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030, known informally as ’30×30,’ was a ‘massive federal land grab’ in the making. What she needed now were soldiers for her opposition campaign. The more powerful, the better…. On Friday, which is Earth Day, American Stewards will sponsor a “STOP 30×30 Summit” in Lincoln, Nebraska — what Byfield has described as ‘the most important conference’ her group has ever organized. It will be a who’s who of land transfer proponents, climate change deniers, conservation foes and sympathizers of anti-government extremists. A release about the summit that went out last month boasted that it will ‘spoil environmentalist’s [sic] Earth Day’ and ‘send the clear message that America’s landowners would not be ‘voluntarily’ surrendering their property rights to the environmental agenda.’ Ricketts is hosting the event and will share the stage with Byfield, Boebert, Trump-era Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, anti-federal land Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory (R) and other leading figures of the anti-30×30 movement. The event’s sponsors include three of the nation’s fiercest proponents of climate change denialism — the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, The Heritage Foundation, and The Heartland Institute — and Protect the Harvest, a pro-agriculture, anti-animal rights group founded by oil tycoon Forrest Lucas.” • Names to remember.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Two Atlantic Lefts” [New Left Review]. “Yet the Squads [in the US and the UK] may still perhaps serve as a sort of synecdoche for the remaining fortunes of the Sanders and Corbyn electoral turns—which, half a decade ago, embodied the hopes of many for a left exit from the crisis. While elsewhere the radical oppositions that sprang into being after 2008 found expression in independent forms—Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, the Five Star Movement in Italy—in the us and uk they crystallized around leadership bids within the existing two-party systems. Both Sanders and Corbyn were roundly defeated, but the electoral gains symbolized by the squads have outlasted these defeats. For some, they represent the green shoots of a new democratic-socialist generation. For others, their successes are paltry comforts in the wake of left populism’s transatlantic defeats. To what extent do these groups go beyond the long-established practices of the parliamentary ‘soft left’ and congressional ‘progressive caucus’? By examining the self-positionings of the two squads, their constituencies and paths to office, as well as the political, institutional and ideological structures they confront, we may gain a clearer view of the obstacles facing the broader left as well; an indispensable starting point for thinking through how they might be overcome.” • Well worth a read. (If the US had five NLRs instead of one Jacobin and then the Nation, etc., we would be so much better off….

“Is politics making people sick? A lot of young people say so” [Los Angeles Times]. “That helps explain why a group of Harvard students and their faculty mentor found themselves briefing President Biden on Monday about the latest findings from the semiannual poll of American young people conducted by the university’s Institute of Politics…. The poll’s headline number was that Biden’s job approval among Americans aged 18 to 29 has continued to plummet, dropping 18 percentage points over the last year — from 59% in the first spring of Biden’s tenure to 41% now. That made the Harvard survey the latest in a series of polls to show Biden, and Democrats more generally, in trouble with the young voters who were key to their victories in 2018 and 2020. But the students also told Biden about another aspect of the poll which, in the long run, may matter more: A majority of young Americans, 52%, reported feeling ‘down, depressed, or hopeless’ for several days or more during the prior two weeks, and nearly 1 in 4 have had recent thoughts of hurting themselves or that they would be ‘better off dead.’… Democrats’ slim chances of keeping their Senate majority, and Biden’s ability to bounce back from his current problems, both depend heavily on finding ways to counter that and keep young Americans engaged and motivated. It’s no wonder that the Harvard poll caught the attention of the man in the Oval Office.” • Actually creative that Biden went to talk to them. I can’t help but wonder if identity politics, which the article also discusses, has the salutary effect of creating a sense of hopelessness?

“A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe” [The Atlantic]. “Ellie didn’t invent this device. That distinction goes to Lorraine Rothman, an Orange County public-school teacher and activist. In 1971, members of her feminist self-help group had been familiarizing themselves with the work of an illegal abortion clinic in Santa Monica. The owner, a psychologist named Harvey Karman, had designed a slender, flexible straw—now known as a Karman cannula, and a standard piece of medical equipment—which he used to draw the contents of a uterus into a large syringe. Karman’s method took only a few minutes and had been nicknamed a “lunch-hour abortion” because patients could return to regular activities afterward. It was less invasive than dilation and curettage, a procedure that uses a surgical instrument to scrape the uterine walls. Two years before the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade changed the legal landscape for abortion in the United States, Rothman was developing her own version of Karman’s apparatus, rummaging around aquarium stores and chemistry labs for parts. She added a bypass valve to prevent air from accidentally being pumped back into the uterus, and a mason jar to increase the holding capacity. The result was an abortion device that was easy to make and suitable for ending pregnancies during most of the first trimester. For purposes of plausible deniability, Rothman promoted the device as a tool for what she referred to as “menstrual extraction”: a technique a woman could use to pass her entire period at once, rather than over several days. In October 1971, she embarked on a Greyhound-bus tour with a fellow activist, Carol Downer, to spread the word. In six weeks, they visited 23 cities, traveling from Los Angeles to Manhattan and calling themselves the West Coast Sisters. Soon women all over the country were making the device, which Rothman and Downer had called a Del-Em.” • One applauds the ingenuity. At the same time, one could wish that the Democrats had embodied Roe in legislation, whenever in the last 2020 – 1973 = 47 years they held Congressional majorities. One can’t helping thinking that bourgeois feminists regarded Supreme Court judges as authoritative, since they are at the pinnacle of credentialed professionalism. The so-called “pro-life’ forces were not nearly so naive, and serious about their politics in a way that bourgeios feminists, for whom abolishing Roe is a complete debacle, never were.


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 with BA.4 and BA.5. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

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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.

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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 DNC-blue dotted “Biden 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 South is up. (See also case counts and rapid riser counties.) On the South:

Cases lag wastewater data.

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

Status quo. But the Northeast, ChicagoLand, and the Southland and the Bay Area in California… Those are important counties to be rapidly rising. (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. The Upper Midwest is moving that way, too. (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):

Remember the “sea of green”? Good times. 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: 1,020,159 1,019,774. 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.

The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday:

Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks. CDC, if you’re reading this, please send a signal by getting this fixed. And then throw some documents over the transom. In complete confidentiality! Obviously, nobody at CDC is checking the excess deaths chart, because otherwise the typo would be fixed. I certainly hope there are no “coding errors” in the algo.

Stats Watch

GDP: “U.S. GDP falls by 1.4% in first quarter” [Le Monde].

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.5 percent from a month earlier in March 2022, following a revised 0.7 percent growth in February and beating market expectations of a 0.4 percent gain, reflecting an increase in compensation, proprietors’ income, personal income receipts on assets, and government social benefits. The rise in compensation reflected increases in private and government wages and salaries. The increase in proprietors’ income was due to increased crop and livestock prices. Personal interest income drove the increase in individual income receipts on assets. Medicare and Medicaid were the driving forces behind the increase in government social benefits.”

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Michigan Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan consumer sentiment for the US was revised lower to 65.2 in April of 2022 from a preliminary of 65.7. The gauge for expectations was revised lower to 62.5 from 64.1 while the current conditions subindex was revised higher to 69.4 from 67.2. Inflation expectations were confirmed at 5.4% for the year ahead and 3% for the next five years. The downward slide in confidence represents the impact of uncertainty, which began with the pandemic and was reinforced by cross-currents, including the negative impact of inflation and higher interest rates, and the positive impact of a persistently strong labor market and rising wages. Moreover, consumers have lost confidence in economic policies, with fiscal actions increasingly hampered by partisanship in the runup to the Congressional elections.”

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago PMI in the United States decreased to 58.5 points in April of 2022 from 65.9 points in March and missing market forecasts of 62. It was the lowest reading since November of 2020, suggesting a slowdown in economic activity.”

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The Bezzle: “Twitter admits overstating audience figures for 3 years” [Financial Times]. “Twitter admitted to overstating its audience figures by almost 2mn users for about three years, as it reported its first quarterly results since the social media company agreed a $44bn buyout from Tesla chief Elon Musk. It is the second time that Twitter has miscalculated its user numbers, after discovering in 2017 that a similar error had gone unnoticed for three years. TAhe latest mistake was revealed just days after Twitter agreed a leveraged buyout by Musk. The entrepreneur has hinted at plans to reshape Twitter’s business model, which at present relies on advertising for more than 90 per cent of its revenues. Given the deal, Twitter’s first-quarter earnings report offered minimal commentary and did not include any guidance for the rest of the year. The company is also forgoing its usual conference call with analysts. First-quarter revenue increased 16 per cent to $1.2bn, which came in slightly below Wall Street’s forecasts. Twitter blamed that on ‘headwinds associated with the war in Ukraine.’ However, Twitter’s monetisable daily active users (mDAU), its unique metric for tracking its audience, came in better than investors expected at 229mn, with year-on-year growth of 6.4 per cent in the US and 18.1 per cent in the rest of the world. Net income jumped to $513mn, thanks to a one-off benefit from the $1bn sale of its mobile advertising unit MoPub to AppLovin, which closed in January.”

The Bezzle: “‘None of His Arguments Hold Water’: Elon Musk Loses Claim That His Consent Decree with the SEC Violates His First Amendment Rights” [Law and Crime]. “Billionaire Tesla co-founder Elon Musk lost his effort to terminate his consent decree with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the grounds that the mandatory pre-approval of his tweets that could move stocks violates his First Amendment rights. ‘With regard to the First Amendment argument, it is undisputed in this case that Musk’s tweets are at least presumptively ‘protected speech,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman wrote in a 22-page ruling on Wednesday. ‘At the same time, however, even Musk concedes that his free speech rights do not permit him to engage in speech that is or could ‘be considered fraudulent or otherwise violative of the securities laws.'”

Tech: “Amazon’s Covid-Era Buildout Proves Too Much as Demand Cools” [Bloomberg]. “Amazon.com Inc. acknowledged that a hiring and warehouse-building binge during the pandemic is catching up with the company as e-commerce sales growth inevitably slows from the torrid pace of the outbreak. That reality will weigh on revenue and profit going forward as consumers return to their pre-pandemic habits and inflation may cool their spending. Fuel and labor costs are already biting, and executives said Amazon was watching for whether shoppers will trim their purchases to offset rising prices. The dour results and forecast sent shares tumbling as much as 12% as the market opened in New York, their biggest intraday decline in almost eight years. The move brings Amazon’s losses for the year to 23%, outpacing the decline in the S&P 500.” • That’s a damn shame.

Supply Chain:

What do readers think?

Mr. Market:

Since I don’t play the ponies, I don’t know whether this is interesting or not.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 29 at 1:49 PM EDT.

Sports Desk

“NHL’s Brandon Sutter says long Covid has sidelined him for entire season” [Guardian]. “NHL veteran Brandon Sutter says he is still suffering from symptoms of long Covid a year after he first contracted the virus and is unsure when he will be able to return to the ice. Sutter was one of 21 Vancouver Canucks players to catch Covid during an outbreak among the team in March 2021, before a vaccine for the virus was widely available in Canada. He recovered sufficiently to play towards the end of last season but during the summer of 2021 he experienced a raised heart rate and breathing difficulties that felt ‘like someone was sitting on my chest’. The 33-year-old’s symptoms were serious enough that he was unable to play when the season started in October but by last month he started to practice again. However, he soon suffered a setback and he has not skated since early April.”

The Gallery


(A capsa is a box for holding books and papers. Here in the United States, Clio’s capsa would be empty.)

Class Warfare

“Grocery workers’ union joins wave of Starbucks organizing campaigns” [Wisconsin Examiner]. “The United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) reported that it had filed petitions Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold union representation elections at Starbucks outlets in Fitchburg, Monona and Madison. … Starbucks employees are in the midst of a wave of union organizing across the U.S., primarily by an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).” • Heaven knows I hold no brief for the SEIU, but this seems a bit silly.

“Broken Homes” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Levinson is one of thousands of poor, sick or highly vulnerable people left to languish and at times die in unstable, underfunded and understaffed residential hotel rooms overseen by a city department that reports directly to Mayor London Breed, a yearlong investigation by The San Francisco Chronicle found.” • Obviously, Breed should run for Senator.

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today, so here is a Degas:

I always like how Degas crops, but it seems to me he does not crop as a photographer would; I’m not sure why. Can art mavens comment?

* * *

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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. Toshiro_Mifune

    House panel to explore impeachment, judicial ethics in wake of Ginni Thomas texts

    You know, I’ve not really paid much attention to this… but, has the Democratic party so lost it’s mind that they’re going to try to impeach a Supreme Court Justice over what his wife said? Have we really gotten that bad?

    1. Nikkikat

      The Dems have been so good at impeaching too! Lol especially when they never impeach based on their best case to win. It’s the theater they love, don’t ya know!

    2. Screwball

      These people have been unhinged for the last 5 years. It seems all they want to do is hate on something or someone. Once they have a target in place, they must be shouted down, censored, or in this case, impeached. They have become (not all) the party of hate and blood lust.

      I wish someone would take a poll and see just how many people have lost friends, family, or associates over all this craziness. I know I have, and I quit long ago trying to even talk to these people.

      Imagine if Trump runs again, and wins? It won’t be pretty. Let’s hope the dipwad doesn’t. These people couldn’t handle another 4 years, and we couldn’t take another 4 years watching them screaming like a 2 yo throwing a fit.

    3. britzklieg

      It’s easier to fail at impeaching Thomas with his wife than to apologize to Anita Hill.

    4. tsyganka

      Doing so merely over what Ginni said would be weird. But the thing is, Uncle Thomas hasn’t recused himself from cases that involved Ginni’s interests, nor has he recused himself from cases involving his erstwhile employer Monsanto. — I personally object to Thomas due to his porn-addicted predatory nature, but hey… He set a precedent (and Biden abetted it). Now we have six-time perjurer, frat boy, and drunken rapist Kaanauigh on board.

  2. Hepativore

    So, the real question is, will Biden outright renenge on his “student loan debt forgiveness” statement, or will he come up with such a complicated, means-tested idea that it will not even apply to most borrowers, anyway? In either case, he and the Democrats are intent on going down with the ship in the up and coming midterms and the 2024 presidency, but they do not seem to be bothered by it.

    In any case, it does not matter as the real president at the moment appears to be Joe Manchin, so why do we need two presidents? Biden could just pack it up and resign right now and still nothing would fundamentally change.

    1. NorD94

      looks like there is some talking going on, who knows where this ends up

      Biden eyes long-awaited student debt relief starting at $10,000 per borrower

      President Biden plans to move forward with student loan debt forgiveness, with two sources telling The Hill he is considering action to expunge at least $10,000 per borrower.

      The debt forgiveness would be through executive action and follows the president asking the Education Department to look into his authority to act unilaterally on student loans a year ago, the results of which have not been publicly announced.

      1. solarjay

        What I’m curious about is if the $10,000 is really a scam. What I mean is they are going to give $10,000 ( maybe), ok good, but leave the high interest rates in place. How many people will that 10K end their loans?
        As the govt has all the info, take all the payments made both principle, interest and penalties to the principal. And reduce the interest to prime.

        Biden gets to declare a win, he didn’t actually gift money as he only refinanced the loans so maybe less push back from the right, and I think people might actually get a better deal that the $10k, cash.

        1. Eureka Springs

          What about people like me who chose not to go tens of thousands into debt yet lost potential income over many decades without that degree?

          Most of all what about ending the debt for higher ed model entirely? Or this is nearly all moot.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Where, may I ask, are these $800 per month apartments of which you speak?

              Asking for a friend… actually, for a whole lot of friends.

            2. tegnost

              Two separate issues.
              .gov can fund both of those programs if there were the will to do so. How many billions is zelensky getting? How many homeless people can you shelter for 33 billion? Cynical as I am, I expect any “forgiveness” will come with a tidy payoff to wall st.

      2. poopinator

        I’m just going to wait and see what the Senate Parliamentarian, Joe Manchin and Zelensky have to say about this before getting my hopes up.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          Whatever happens, I’d count on the end result being 30% less than what’s promised.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > starting at $10,000 per borrower

        FWIW, I think the monthly payment is what matters. Reduce those, and you make an actual, cash difference in people’s daily lives. Otherwise, it’s just two ways of paying forever, $10,000 is such a minimal amount.

    2. tsyganka

      Yep, I recall Biden saying during the campaign that “nothing will fundamentally change” if he were elected. The full truth of it was “nothing will fundamentally change For The Rich” if he were elected.
      Side note: I don’t understand the dog-in-the-manger attitude of folks who paid off their loans but don’t want others to have any relief.
      In any case, this looks like another unfulfilled promise.

  3. Raymond Sim

    Re the Biobot wastewater data: That flattening in the Northeast is very flat indeed. As if they perhaps have not recalibrated their tests for the higher levels?

      1. hunkerdown

        If I were assuming an omnishambles, I would assume Biobot just stops counting at 500 copies/mL, and doesn’t simply have an ill-advised if (x > 500) x = 500; somewhere between the data and the graph.

        1. amechania

          The foreign numbers appear averaged over a week, France Germany and Mexico for example. Even so the data seems to come in with big chunks of that lift averages a week at a time (probaly a single day showing notably higher.), to explain the strings of 7 day bumps up. since there seems to be a baseline, I’m guessing those bumps are clerical adjustments up.

          The Dominican Republic’s number seems much less ‘sophisticated’ although less people to count and less municipalities at least partially explains the seeming granularity.

          Alot of white collar folks employed in the NE effort. Dont think the fancy people with slick work bios get out in the field or get their hands dirty much.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > If I were assuming an omnishambles

          FWIW, I think Biobot is a well-run company. And we do have the MWRA numbers in parallel, along with no-better/no-worse numbers in rapid riser counties in New England.

          Adding, I skimmed the papers at the Biobot site (especially this one on “effective concentration“). I imagine there must be an upper bound on the sensors, but I’ve never seen anything anywhere to suggest it’s too low (and that’s also against interest for Biobot).

          If there is an omnimshambles, I think business relations is a more likely source. Biobot is not a public utility, although with the CDC in the state that it is, we need to treat it as one. But if the business relationships are such that municipalities can drop out of the service, that is where I would look.

      2. Raymond Sim

        Higher levels of what?

        Of the target RNA. My understanding is that the CT values from the PCR tests are interpreted relative to a standard dilution curve. If you choose the maximum dilution on the curve too high your discrimination on the low end will be coarser than it need be. If you choose it too low then you risk being unable to discern anything beyond that your maximum is being exceeded.

        If your maximum is being continuously exceeded your graph over time will flatline.

    1. Jen

      For what it’s worth, active cases at my “small liberal arts college” are down from 296 among the undergrads to 174, and from 116 among grad students to 61. Staff cases only dropped slightly. Only those with symptoms are required to test, which leaves a gaping hole in the data. Never the less I am hoping this is an encouraging sign. We have not reinstated indoor mask mandates, but the administration did send out a message last week stating that masks offered the best protection.

      One of our researchers is involved sequencing samples from people who test positive. He said BA2 is about 60% at this point, and they are seeing reinfections. Including members of his own lab.

  4. hunkerdown

    “Dinner at the Ball” is almost an interior seascape, a window onto a world (the ball) within a world (France) that extends off the sides of the frame, not forever but how far? Whereas portrait photographers typically distinguish their subjects as self-contained beings within their background, implying both should be adequately present in the frame.

    1. jsn

      Degas macro composition is like a photographers, but Edgar gets to place all his people relative to the frame, they support whee it is without being injured by it.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      I have Bar at the Folies Bergere on the rotating wallpaper of my large screen, and my brain is still not convinced that that’s how mirrors work.

  5. marym

    Re: Supply Chain

    Made in USA Back to School Supplies

    You need to be cautious with information from made-in-usa aggregator websites. They aren’t always updated. Check the manufacturer’s site to see if the products are still made in the US. This particular aggregator site links to amazon so that’s another factor if you’re avoiding amazon, and need to go to the vendor site, or see if the products are available from a department store, for example.

    Anyway, I checked a bit for Notebooks by Mead and Pen Company of America. Both still seem to manufacture in the US. On their websites the former has retail ordering, the latter a link to its retail shopping site.

    1. curlydan

      For middle schoolers and high schoolers, school supply chain problems might not matter. If other kids’ schools are like my kids’ schools, there are no textbooks (so they never use a locker). Almost everything is submitted electronically (so little paper is needed). My kids’ supplies literally consisted of a few folders, a couple spiral notebooks, and maybe some tissues for the classroom.

      I’m not saying this is a good thing, though. They’re best learning was at the supply heavy elementary school.

      1. marym

        There are many sites doing this aggregation. I haven’t paid much attention to how they do it (this one seems to ask vendors to submit information). I’ve seen union sites, and one was an individual trying to keep track. Some lists are specific (e.g. t-shirts made in usa). Some are magazine articles, likely out of date. Usually though, they’re better starting points than just doing a search for say “xxx’s made in usa” which isn’t very helpful. Over time, I’ve compiled my own list of vendors, but I think the warning would be helpful to people new to the process.

  6. .human

    Biden seeks $33 billion war chest to support Ukraine

    Just to put this into perspective, this is $100 from every man, woman, and child in the US.

      1. Dave in Austin

        Try $350 for everyone who files an income tax form and actually pays imcome taxes.

        I’m surprised someone hasn’t run for President by simple pulling out a $10 bill ever time the words “Billion dollars” is mentioned and ask the tax payers: “This is your share; is it worth it?”

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        That is not entirely true. The US Treasury sells debt all over the world. The latest totals of outstanding debt is $20 trillion or so. Not all of this debt is held on the central bank’s balance sheet. Most is not. What isn’t is funded via taxes, not central bank money creation. Perhaps the $33 billion for Ukraine will be provided by the Fed. For societal needs we all must open up our checkbooks.

        1. djrichard

          I think Lambert’s point is that taxes don’t “pay for” spending. The arguments come from MMT.

          To me it’s easier to see this when looking at how fiscal spending worked with the Lincoln greenback. They printed currency to stimulate the economy. They taxed to pull currency out of the economy, to destroy it. And they issued bonds to generate a baseline yield (in greenbacks) for the winners (who hoovered up all the greenbacks and who avoided taxes) as swaps which destroyed their currency as well. Only difference now is that the Fed Gov doesn’t own the printing press. Even so, it operates effectively the same with one addition. The bond issuance has to equal the difference in spending and taxes, so that the currency balance overall is always sterilized. That is, the Fed Gov does not increase the money supply. While with the greenback they had that option, to increase the money supply.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > think Lambert’s point is that taxes don’t “pay for” spending.

            Exactly. This ideological weed is incredibly invasive, so I try to pull it up whenever I can.

    1. Darius

      US National Labor Board’s Budget Squeeze [Consortium News] “More funding – not just in fiscal year 2023, but right now – is needed to defend the right to organize and enforce labor law against increasingly hostile employers, writes C.M. Lewis.”

      Not a priority for team Dem, it looks like.

    2. XXYY

      On the other hand, it will be good target practice for the people who target and fire Russian missiles.

      So there’s that.

    1. anon y'mouse

      are they deliberately not giving them ominous-sounding names anymore?

      because that in itself seems like a tell.

      1. square coats

        It’s just occurred to me that this current naming convention is basically resembling updated software releases.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > are they deliberately not giving them ominous-sounding names anymore?

        I initially supported the Greek letter naming convention, because we were having multiple identifiers for the same lineage and that is confusing and bad (and ruins search).

        Now I’ve changed my mind. I think the alphanumeric identifiers, if at this point we have standardized them, are perfectly fine. They sound like J- and K-Pop band names — AKB48, 2ne1 — and we can project whatever connotations we want onto them.

        I don’t like the Alpha… Omicron…. naming convention, because of the implicit teleology: There is a final variant: Omega. That assumes facts not in evidence.

        1. anon y'mouse

          i was thinking more along the lines of the reverse observation–if you want to sell a car, you don’t name it the AGS13.p.2. you name it a “person like” name like the Integra.

          since they don’t want people to be running their mouths about these new variants, it seems right in line with that kind of thinking that the lack of an easily pronounceable name lends to the idea that Covid-19 (itself almost a person-like name) has magically gone away.

          people aren’t going to be saying to each other before entering Walmart that they need to mask up because “AGS13.p.2 is making the rounds!”

      1. ambrit

        A Committee rides the white horse.
        Zelinsky rides the red horse.
        Archer Daniels rides a black tractor.
        Fauchi rides the pale horse.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      What we fail to do to stop the virus from spreading, the virus will subsequently force us to do to contain its spread.

      We are led by the worst human beings in history, and in a just world, they would be made to pay for their absolute dereliction of duty.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But if the government’s secret goal is to make sure the virus spreads, then nothing would ever stop the government from pursuing its secret Prime Directive, which is to make sure the virus spreads.

        If that is the case, then the government secretly has a different duty to a secret different constituency than the duty we think it should have to the people we think it should have it to.

        And if that is indeed the case, then the issue is far different than “dereliction”.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          > “But if the government’s secret goal is to make sure the virus spreads, then nothing would ever stop the government from pursuing its secret Prime Directive, which is to make sure the virus spreads.”

          Fair point, but I don’t think – as horrible as they all are – that this was necessarily the aim. The aim was to do as little as possible, especially as it pertained to anything that required non-medical intervention. Essentially, leave it at “crappy, non-sterilizing vaccine”, make masking a “personal choice”, and well, “ventilation-whatever” … right?! But given what Lambert articulates below, your point is fair … it recalls a certain “M” word.

        2. ChrisRUEcon

          PS: One odd thing that has become apparent is that the architects of this malice either did not see themselves as potential victims, or miscalculated horribly on their odds of avoiding the consequences of their own (in)actions!

          • Gridiron super-spreader event – Vax-only failure to launch!
          • Correspondent’s dinner deviations – Biden ain’t eating there; Fauci making a personal decision to RSVP “No”
          • Veep COVID +ve – How many times has Lambert shown her parading around in close quarters to others unmasked?!

          I need to write a Kafka-esque short story where the humans that decide to cull some animal population turn into that animal … LOL

          Is this Netflix worthy?! Hahahaha!

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We are led by the worst human beings in history

        I need to dig around for this, but in the latest Useful Idiots podcast (“Sociopath Neocons Sacrifice Ukrainians and Global Poor – Economist Michael Hudson“) Michael Hudson says (paraphrasing, possibly badly) that the World Economic Forum thought leaders think world population should drop by 20%. A smaller number than I would have thought, actually.

        Hence a lot of policy constraints in the US, on deaths of despair, health care, pandemic response, and so forth. So far, given falling life expectancy, I’d say we’re on track!

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          Thanks for sharing the podcast! And Massive Attack! They’re one of my faves, and one of the last concerts I attended just before the onset of the pandemic (Mezzanine Ann’y Tour)!

          According to plan indeed … wherein Malthusianism (via Wikipedia) keeps rearing its ugly head.

        2. lance ringquist

          its something all free traders try to attain, its called the nazi useless eaters theory. its something that worked very well during WWII, that is for the central planners. the free trading fascists not so well, they came up millions of soldiers short after killing off millions of their own citizens they viewed as useless.

          the central planners over ran central europe with useless eaters. the useless eaters even got to plant their flag on top of the reichstag.

          today you can see that theory of useless eaters in broad daylight. nafta democrats call them the deplorable.

  7. Carla

    Re: Student Loan Debt — There are many thousands of parents and grandparents of students and graduates who took out “parent loans” to help their progeny get the kind of college educations that they were promised would be central to their beloved children’s prospects in life. Some of these older people still owe payments now that they live on Social Security and little or nothing else. Has Uncle Joe got anything for them?

    Or are they considered to have been “old enough to know better” than to follow the PMC line?

    1. petal

      I scrimped and sacrificed and busted my hump over 20 some odd years and finally paid mine off this past January 23rd. What do I get or am I just a sucker that’s going to again get kicked in teeth by the Dems? That $30-40 grand could’ve been a house downpayment.

      1. ambrit

        Don’t beat yourself up. You made that decision back in a now lost time when probity and honour were valued, at least publically so. We all ‘followed the rules’ back then. It isn’t our fault that the elites decided to throw the rules away. Indeed, experience shows that, under neo-liberalism, we live in the polar opposite of a “rules based order.” From what I ‘read between the lines’ from your comments, that sacrifice resulted in your becoming skilled in your field and gainfully employed thereby. (For some definition of “gainfully.”)
        Also, don’t feel alone in your perception of the perfidy and sadism of the Democrat Party elites. They are kicking everyone who does not contribute to their re-election campaign funds equally.
        Focus on your personal safety first. The rest will follow.

      2. Medbh

        I paid back a ridiculous amount of money in student loans too, and understand your frustration. However, we don’t give 18 year olds a mortgage without a dependable income, so why do we offer massive educational debts? I’m more angry with the government/bankers that give out the money than the stupid young adults. Optimism and inexperience do not excuse exploitation.

        If nothing else, the loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy. There would still be consequences for not paying, but the consequences wouldn’t only fall upon the borrower.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Someone could run for President on that concept.

          What if Tulsi Gabbard ( Independent) got on the ballot in some key Electoral College Totals busting states and ran on Make Student Debt Dischargeable In Bankruptcy? As well as other things in that vein?

          Would that destroy Hillary Trump’s chances in those key chosen states?

      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        I went to school 15 years earlier and paid for classes by working in the back end of restaurants. My house cost a little less than 40k when I started on a mortgage that I paid in 25 years. I know that you know that a better society needs a better deal for the mopes.

        How about every USonians’ first house can be bought at zero interest? Like the way the banks are treated.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I scrimped and sacrificed and busted my hump over 20 some odd years and finally paid mine off this past January 23rd. What do I get or am I just a sucker that’s going to again get kicked in teeth by the Dems? That $30-40 grand could’ve been a house downpayment.

        I am dubious about the “Cancel Student Debt” push for exactly this reason. There are people who “played by the rules” and sacrificed a lot to do so (more and more as the costs got worse and worse).

        The obvious solution is to re-imburse everybody who paid into the unjust system. Roll the entire system back to where it started. (And if that means that the colleges need to gut the administrative layer — because at this point there’s no fat anywhere else, except sports — than do it, say I.)

        I think the possibility for nasty blowback on debt cancellation is also very real, and this forms part of Biden’s political calculations. There are people, after all, who view debt repayment (to entities as opposed to friends or family) as a moral duty. Jesus did not, but He is not much in fashion these days.

        1. petal

          My mother is livid about it, too. She was an non-trad student that put herself through uni 1-2 courses at a time and finally graduated at 40. She eventually paid off her school loans. There would definitely be some nasty blowback on college debt cancellation. I graduated in 2000 with $30,000 of student loan debt. We were low income, so I’m lucky to have gotten to go to college at all. From a quick net search, I believe the current average UG amount today is about $28k. People did what they signed on the dotted line to do and did what they needed to do to pay their loans off. They see this as personal sacrifice and responsibility, part of growing up and being an adult, so if there’s a wipe of college loan debt, there’s going to be a lot of people who went without in order to pay theirs off who will get left out of the wipe and will be pretty flipping angry. Until the system is rolled back and restructured, like you said, this debt cycle is going to continue. They had best include reimbursing people who have paid theirs off. It seems the Dems only do things that make my life worse and harder, and find it amusing.

          1. lance ringquist

            the real problem is canceling student debt is a way to divide and conquer. its class surpression and warfare. you can see the seething and arguments right here in this thread.

            i was a product of the new deal. my wife and i got free higher education till we were 21. after that it was a paltry around $125 a semester.

            in todays dollars i ran it through one of those programs, about $850.00 or so.

            under nafta billy clinton schooling became a money harvesting program for parasites.

            higher education costs went through the roof, as cheap loans were dangled in front of the desperate for higher ed., as nafta billy clinton pushed getting a degree, or you would end up like a blue collar worker.

            this set up a stampede for degree’s, and the lawrence summers type got a hold of the universities and colleges.

            the degradation of education for parasites to live the high life must end.

            if we are to get rid of student loan debts. it must be framed as a complete total reform of higher ed, wipe the slate clean across the board, and drive out the parasites, make higher ed. cheap to free.

            i am betting their will be a lot of faculty support, besides students.

            if you just cancel the debt, it will be business as usual for the next gen. and we will be right back to where we are today.

  8. Mikel

    “Biden seeks $33 billion war chest to support Ukraine, Zelenskiy wants quick approval” [Reuters]. • So now we’ve got to check with President Manchin and President Zelensky?

    Biden and his no-three-strikes-for-me son were really some busy bodies in the Ukraine during the Obama Administration.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Is Brandoned a verb yet? Perhaps the Ministry of Disinformation can clear this up. I hope they have a ‘submissions’ website. Or perhaps a ‘renditions’ website.

  9. JohnA

    “Biden seeks $33 billion war chest to support Ukraine, Zelenskiy wants quick approval” [Reuters]. • So now we’ve got to check with President Manchin and President Zelensky?

    At what point do the American people, forever being told that healthcare, housing, education, pensions, , public transport etc, are pipedreams as they cost too much, will wake up and ask how can the US suddenly find billions for an unwinnable and illogical war? J

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      At the point where many millions of them are suddenly ready to run amok in a huge instantaneous mass full of guns and ammo and begin mass-slaughtering the politicos who make these decisions. That’s ” at what point”.

    2. Screwball

      I was just at the gas station where it was 3.89 a gallon talking to another retiree about how our SS went up a little, but was not enough to cover the increase in our Medicare supplement. So we lost money. Her husband has had some medical issues recently, and of course how bad and expensive our health”care” industry is.

      Yet we can will find, without a doubt, another 33 billion for bombs.

      I like to ask people when they are bumping their gums about what political party we should be voting for, or even worship as some do; look at how our 2 parties have treated our elderly, veterans, and homeless, then tell me how much they give one good shit about you?

      And the guy above is correct. It will all change when people realize Jan 6 was a picnic compared to what’s coming. And it is, you can feel it.

      1. ambrit

        I was out doing the shopping today and also noticed this. People are visibly more subdued and, surly.

        1. jr

          I know I’m feeling it. I got hit with 4G$ in taxes after almost two years of being unemployed. I still haven’t filed for ‘20 so that’s another few G’s. Since the IRS “expects” me to set money aside, an impossibility, I got hit with a 30$ fee to boot. But Zelensky is demanding my money.

        2. Scewball

          I talk to the ladies at the grocery (2) and the gas station. They are all great, I don’t know how they do it. I ask them what it’s like, and how much do you get yelled at. The answers are not good. They live in the belly of the beast, and a good source for the pulse of the people IMO.

          I always had a scanner, but our locals went digital a year ago and I can’t get them unless I spend 5-600 bucks on another one, and I’m not going to do that. The local police has quit supplying our small town paper with the daily log, or the paper doesn’t print it. But I hear more sirens that ever, and from Twitter & Facebook it looks like the ODs are almost daily, and crime getting worse. This is rural Smallville of 15k.

          1. ambrit

            We live in a Midville of about 50,000. (The metropolitan region. Small city plus suburbs and exurbs.) The same sort of situation. As an example, while I was walking home with the groceries, (who knew that a non-functioning auto would be good for my health?) I picked up off of the street, three empty shell casings, two in one spot, the other a half a mile away. All three 9mm luger, obviously different batch lots. The gunfire heard in the distance, (and what really is “in the distance?”) is now a nightly occurrence. Our local police also are reticent about their reporting now. There are now only two local papers. One is a satellite of the Gannet Organization. The other is a local rag that has the connections to land the status of being the Newspaper of Record for the County. The tax lien edition is their main moneymaker for the year. Every bottom feeder and petit burgeois want to be capitalist gets that edition to strategize their actions surrounding the annual outstanding tax sale “auction.”
            I don’t ‘do’ Facebook or Twitter, but do cruise through the Nextdoor occasionally. The main worry there is petty property thefts, ‘suspicious’ strangers, and lost pets. We are now so jaded, we no longer call out about single shots heard. To get this group’s attention, it now needs to be automatic gunfire, or a parade of sirens. Alas, we now get both with some regularity.
            I’d say stay safe, but you already know that. Instead I’ll say; ‘Buy cheap, stack deep!’

        3. The Rev Kev

          In the 19th century, new officers in the British Army were told that when the troops were moaning and complaining that all was well. It was when they went quiet and sulky that indicted something dangerous was brewing.

        1. petal

          Gas went up 10 cents/gal again here(northern NH) today for all 3 flavours. $4.80 for premium.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      I think USians are plenty fed up with it already – I’d wager most who voted for the Donald did so to give the middle finger to the establishment.

  10. Carolinian

    the far more exciting and consequential question is whether or not Pres. Joe Biden will be on the ballot in 2024

    I can answer that one [raises hand].


    Of course he has to pretend–at least until after November.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Of course he has to pretend–at least until after November.

      And I look at the Democrat bench, and I don’t see any Presidential timber at all.

      Perhaps we have fully made the transition to oligarchy from democracy, and the sort of person who truly seeks real power doesn’t invest the decades* it takes to run for President and win. Hence, mediocrities like Harris, Buttigieg, etc. Second-rate people for a second-rate job.

      NOTE * Trump’s decades were on TV, but it was still a real investment of time.

  11. drumlin woodchuckles

    If any of the servers who will be servering at that upcoming White House Correspondents’ Dinner happen to be reading these comments, here is an idea (assuming your union will not dare to lift a finger on your behalf against the Typhoid Mary Plague-Spreading Covid Aggression coming your way from the Entitled PMC Liberals who will be infesting that dinner.

    Every server and other servant who has to share the air with ” Those People ” should of course wear the strongest most protective type of respirator possible. And on top of that, each one of them should also wear a “don’t fuck with me” style of Hannibal Lecter-style Hockey Goalie Mask. That should make the “precious ones” keep their distance and keep their gosh-darned mouths shut about how ” why don’t you take off the mask and breathe the fresh air of freedom”?

    If every server made very sure to look like THIS . . . https://www.mtv.com/news/2036516/hannibal-lecter-models-masks/ . . . maybe the yuppie scum journalists and politicians and hangers-on will leave them alone in peace to wear their counter-covid masks.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > assuming your union will not dare to lift a finger on your behalf

      The union response, in general, has been shockingly bad on masks and NPIs generally. Worth noting this was the spark that got ALU going.

    1. ambrit

      Oh, good heavens. Do you remember the National Lampoon? they once had a comic book format item about how the Secretary of Transportation schemed and murdered his way up the chain of “next in command” to become the President. that was back when the Coast Guard was under the Department of Transportation. the character had his own Coast Guard security detail and travelled around on his own Coast Guard Cutter.
      If a “comedian” can become the ‘Dear Leader’ of an Eastern European nation, or an actor become President of these United states, why not the Secretary of Transportation?
      I’m waiting for the Hillary/C’thulu 2024 signs. “Two Evils for the price of one!”

  12. Pelham

    Until rumblings emerged this year about the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, I was under the impression that the dinner had been permanently canceled, partly due to Covid but mainly out of sheer embarrassment. Here’s hoping that every attendee ends up with a roaring lifelong case of Long Covid and permanent brain fog while the servers all escape any harm after being required to wear N95s.

    FYI: I worked at a major newspaper for many years that sent an assortment of its poobahs to this annual abomination. The grumblings and contempt among the shoe-leather reporters and lower ranking editors was nearly universal, though scarcely audible for obvious and mostly excusable reasons. This I found encouraging in a small way.

    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      I have seen recently that President Biden plans to attend but will not be present during the dinner portion, to minimize risk:

      [Psaki] also stressed that Biden, who is also slated to deliver a routine of his own, is taking extra precautions like skipping the dinner portion of the event. She said she expects he’ll be at the event “for about an hour or 90 minutes.”

      “He’s not attending the dinner portion. He’s coming for the program. So and he will likely wear a mask when he’s not speaking,” Psaki said on Friday. “And then he’s of course sitting on the dias up in the front of the interaction and is not attending any of the receptions.”


  13. ChrisRUEcon


    > So now we’ve got to check with President Manchin and President Zelensky?

    ${DEITY}Damn, Lambert …so good it burns.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Not to throw gasoline on the flames here, but Trump abolished the ObamaCare penalty. I wasn’t going to sign up for that thing, so my taxes went down $600….

    1. ambrit

      Amy obviously doesn’t rely on Big Pharma for her funding stream.
      I’ll bet she doesn’t rely on grant money either.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author


      My brother, who does not live with our mom and has no underlying conditions, is also vaccinated and boosted, but wants us to take a rapid test before arriving (according to our mom).

      I am disappointed that my brother has put our mom in the middle of this. I have notified our mother that we will not take a rapid test, which we feel is totally unnecessary at this point in the pandemic. If this is a problem, we will stay home.

      My husband agrees with me.

      Is my brother being unreasonable?

      – Upset

      Dear Upset: No, you are. Vaccinated people get and spread COVID to other vaccinated people. And a person can have the virus in early stages and not be aware of it, something a rapid test would reveal.

      As an elder, your mother might suffer worse symptoms than you would if she got the virus.

      I recently attended a multi-day event and took a rapid test each day, before attending any events with groups of people not in my own household.

      During this period, I will also take a test and wear a mask outside the home if I have cold symptoms; this is to try to protect other people not in one’s circle.

      It is relatively easy to take an at-home test, and at this point in the pandemic – where a variant seems to be emerging – why refuse to do it?

      You care enough to vaccinate, but this is the molehill you refuse to climb?

      There’s considerable pushback in favor of what I regard as a realist position on Covid. Unfortunately — as with aerosols, Corsi boxes, and ventilation — it has no political expression at all.

    3. Harold

      One of our oldest friends has been undergoing immunosuppressive cancer therapy since 2020 and his son has bought him an air purifier and a set of rapid COVID tests to administer to anyone who comes to visit. We were very glad to take the tests (after driving three hours to see them). And to do most of our socializing outdoors. I can’t imagine why anyone could object. I am probably immune suppressed myself, having just finished radiation therapy. (Can’t believe it happened to me).

  14. drumlin woodchuckles

    What is almost as strong as a prediction? A strong suspicion?

    It is my strong suspicion that the DemParty will nominate Hillary Clinton for President for the 2024 election.

    If 2024 is Trump v. Clinton, Tulsi Gabbard would have a good opportunity to run as an Independent in just enough certain key states so as to deny each of the Brand Name candidates an Electoral College victory.

    If she decides to try it, I will do a little amateur lowest-level volunteering for her campaign . . . if there were to be one.

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      How old will Trump and Clinton be in 2024? Close to 80? Both need to be rejected outright!!

    2. Rodeo Clownfish

      The way Tulsi is currently sidling up to the Republican party, if it’s Trump vs. Clinton in 2024, she is more likely to be Mike Pence’s replacement than run independently.

      1. ambrit

        Since it will be Trump’s second administration, it would be good placement for her to run in 2028.
        Of course, both are “strong” personalities, (if the MSMs are any guide,) and that pairing might not work out too well.
        Now, if someone were to float the idea of the “moderate” wings of both parties splitting off and coalescing “in the middle,” a Third Party run might be feasible.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        She must have seen how Trump uses, abuses and besmirches and beslimes every single person who works for/with Trump in any way. If she runs on a ticket with Trump or serves in any capacity in a Trump cabinet or task force or anything else, then I would have to question my own estimation of her judgement and good sense.

        In other words, I would be surprised if Gabbard appeared on a ticket with Trump. But life can be full of surprises sometimes.

  15. Anthony G Stegman

    Since there are growing concerns that nuclear war may break out as a side effect of the Russia-Ukraine conflict here is a handy tool which simulates the effects of a nuclear blast. You can choose the location and yield among other settings.


  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘The poll’s headline number was that Biden’s job approval among Americans aged 18 to 29 has continued to plummet, dropping 18 percentage points over the last year — from 59% in the first spring of Biden’s tenure to 41% now.’

    Maybe Millennials have a memory-

    ‘The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break. Because here’s the deal guys, we decided we were gonna change the world. And we did. We did.’

    The younger generation begs to differ. Nothing fundamentally changed.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Well they did change the world…for the worse. They just have no desire to do anything but sneer at those forced to live with the world they made.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, there’s your difficulty with generational analysis (which is very, very stupid, and hence is a trope that propagates all over everything, like kudzu().

        Generations do not have political agency. How often do we have to repeat this before it sinks in?

        1. JBird4049

          It will not sink in. Assigning political agency will not end, but only at best be reduced, because just as in racism, sexism, any -isms, it is such a useful way to deny individual agency, capabilities, responsibilities, opportunities, and maybe most importantly one’s own experiences and thoughts. Their individual humanity and any response to that is removed by giving their supposed identity supremacy.

    2. lance ringquist

      its hard to believe that after what nafta billy clinton and empty suit hollowman obama did to their grand parents, and parents, aunts, uncles, etc. and biden being in the thick of it, that they would be naive and stupid enough not to understand what the results of their voting for nothing fundamental will change!

      it shows how easily it is to fool a younger generation.

  17. Hepativore

    Oh, this should surprise nobody, but breaking news, Biden has already preemptively endorsed Shontel Brown before the race has even started.

    Considering Biden has the popularity of an inflamed hemorrhoid at the moment, this might backfire. However, the corporate superPACs are already dumping money into Brown’s campaign to stop Turner, and I am sure that there are going to be some funny numbers coming up in the voting tallies if the DNC feels that there is a danger of Turner winning. There is also the fact that there is probably a deep resentment coming from the DNC regarding Turner as they bear a grudge over anybody affiliated with Sanders and his campaigns.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Biden has already preemptively endorsed Shontel Brown before the race has even started.

      The primary is this Tuesday. It’s a Black majority district. Clyburn has already endorsed. Nina Turner would have a better chance being elected president of Ukraine than winning the nomination in this district.

      Turner said voting for Joe Biden was like eating a shit sandwich. You expected him to endorse her?

      1. Hepativore

        I did not expect Biden to endorse anybody at all, at this point, as Biden seems hardly aware of anything as he is stuck in his own little bubble most of the time. I did not think that the Turner/Brown race would be considered important enough for him to care.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps its a favor that Biden owes to Clyburn in return for Clyburn having helped Biden solve his little Sanders problem back during the primary campaign.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Nina Turner would have a better chance being elected president of Ukraine than winning the nomination in this district.

        The district changed from the the previous election:

        When the Ohio Redistricting Commission redrew the 11th district’s congressional map, it dropped portions of Summit County it once encompassed and added parts of Cuyahoga County that weren’t in the old district, such as Lakewood and sections of the Hillcrest area.

        IIRC, this is actually favorable to Turner. Can readers comment?

        1. Michael Ismoe

          We’ll find out on Tuesday. I’ll bet you won’t have to stay up late to find out the results.

  18. Belfon

    The GOP should sponsor a Kamala Harris nationwide speaking tour.

    Every time she opens her mouth, they get 100,000 more voters.

  19. JBird4049

    I remember the Watergate hearings. I also remember the Iran-Contra hearings and, in more recent times, Benghazi. I wonder which these hearings will most resemble?

    I sorta, kinda remember Watergate, then the other two. I even remember serious considerations for impeaching President Reagan. Then Benghazigate. And the deeply unserious and offensive theatrical impeachment efforts for Presidents Clinton and Trump. My Mom made watch the incredibly boring Watergate Hearings on the small B&W television screen, insisting that this was an important, historical event. Which it was. I just remember the inference in grade school, jr. and high school about how shocking President Andrew Johnson’s trial and President Nixon’s Watergate Hearing were and how unlikely they would happen again or at least not soon and only in serious situations. I think that they were mistaken. Congress could have convicted President Trump under the Emoluments Clause, but they could go after half of Congress as well. So I guess that it was only for show.

    Each decade, a less serious, more corrupt and incompetent political establishment playing at government rather like a child playing dress up in their parents’ clothes. I read on some of the past politicians federal, state, and municipal and even accounting for the bit of hagiography that always slips in no matter how hard the writer tries, it looks like many of the major politicians would be wolves amongst not even sheep, more like chickens.

    Just look at LBJ. A man of great flaws who still could probably bend the current Congressional leaders of both parties and the president without really trying. Intelligent, ruthless, and with goals other than stealing as much as possible.

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