2:00PM Water Cooler 4/5/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I had some sort of versioning problem, so I only just now got the proper bird song in place. I also added some material on Fetterman v. Lamb. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

This is California Quail week at Naked Capitalism. Grab a cup of coffee, because this is eight minutes of quail hooting, or calling, or whatever it is that they do.

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Adminstration

“Biden proposes tax credit fix to Affordable Care Act ‘family glitch’ affecting 5 million people” [Roll Call]. • Hold me back, Maw! Hold me back!

“Obama returns to White House as reminders of his tenure abound: The Note” [ABC]. “Democrats also know that the push to engage their voters again revolves around the ability to get the Obama-Biden coalition back and ready to cast ballots.” • They do? That’s what they know?

“Why Biden’s base is in distress” [Politico]. Maybe because a lot of ’em died? “Democrats are desperately trying to understand what’s roiling the electorate heading into a brutal midterm environment…. On Monday night we watched discussions with two different subgroups of partisan Democrats assembled by the firm: “Black Base, Always vote for Dems, Ages 25+” and “Youth Base; Always vote for Dems, Ages 25 – 39.”… But watching the three-and-a-half hours of conversations, you notice a yawning gap between what Democrats here in D.C. are saying and what their most loyal voters are experiencing outside the Beltway. This was especially true on two big issues:” The economy and crime (!!). On the latter: “It was impossible to ignore how much it came up. A Black man from New York complained about bail reform laws in that state leading to ‘repeat offenders’ who get arrested and released and are ‘re-arrested in less than 24 hours.’ A Black woman in the Philadelphia area wanted something done about gun violence and carjackings in the city by ‘repeat offenders.'” • Hmm.

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.

Returning once more to Bourdieu, with yesterday’s maxim “[T]he social object is to some extent something that we do not wish to understand” in mind. Re-posting this remarkable memo from a Harvard Dean on smliing:

Sure, elites hate the working class, but they really hate masks, too:

Why are these people smiling?

It occurred to me that Bourdieu’s answer to that question might be — in the two contexts above, at least; context matters! — that smiling occurs when some social capital is realized; and that the Harvard Dean was frustrated by masks because he was not able to accumuliate social capital in the style to which he had become accustomed. (I bet Amazon union busters smile a lot.) And if you find this conclusion repellent, alert reader hemeantwell remarks: “Good sociology is always at least dangerously close to triggering hindbrain responses.” To be clear, I am not dour — even though I remember reading somewhere that a constant, very faint smile is a sign of WASP dominance, I don’t depploy it– and I am for smiling. Just not on a commission basis. “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth,” as Cordelia says.

“Your Top Priority is The Emotional Comfort of the Most Powerful Elites, Which You Fulfill by Never Criticizing Them.” [Glenn Greenwald]. On the Bernie Bro phenomonenon: “With this power matrix in place, what mattered was no longer the pain and anger of people whose towns had their industries stripped by the Clintons’ NAFTA robbery, or who worked at low-wage jobs with no benefits due to the 2008 financial crisis caused by Clintonite finance geniuses, or who were drowning in student debt with no job prospects after that crisis, or who suffered from PTSD, drug and alcohol addiction and shabby to no health care after fighting in the Clintons’ wars. Now, such ordinary people were not the victims but the perpetrators. Their anger toward elites was not valid or righteous but dangerous, abusive and toxic. The real victims were multi-millionaire hosts of MSNBC programs and U.S. Senators and New York Times columnists who were abused and brutalized by those people’s angry tweets for the crime of supporting a pioneer and avatar for marginalized people: the Wellesley-and-Yale-Law-graduate, former First Lady, Senator from New York, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” • “Smile when you say that, son.”

* * *

“Stacey Abrams reaches millionaire status before 2nd campaign” [Associated Press]. “Abrams now says she’s worth $3.17 million, according to state disclosures filed in March. That’s compared with a net worth of $109,000 when she first ran four years ago….. Her rapid ascent into millionaire status corresponds with her rise in national politics.” • That’s Sanders’ net worth, too, after a lifetime in politics and inheriting a house. Abrams must be truly blessed.

Trump Legacy

“Stock in Trump-linked SPAC falls after Truth Social executives resign” [The Hill]. “Stock in the SPAC that is bringing former President Trump’s social media platform Truth Social public fell Monday after top executives reportedly resigned from the company. Stock in the SPAC, Digital Word Acquisition Corp, fell 14 percent in premarket trading Monday, Yahoo reported. The fall came after chief of technology Josh Adams and chief of product development Billy Boozer resigned, which Reuters first reported. Chief legal officer Lori Heyer-Bednar also resigned, according to a report from Politico. The drop also came after Tesla CEO Elon Musk became the largest outside shareholder of Twitter, acquiring a 9.2 percent stake in the company. Twitter shares rose more than 20 percent after the news. Truth Social’s plunging stock and top executive resignations add to the growing list of troubles plaguing the rollout of Truth Social. The app was released in the Apple app store on Feb. 20. It was the most downloaded free app in the Apple store initially, but within just 20 days fell down to number 116. As of Monday afternoon, the app didn’t appear to be anywhere in the top 200 most downloaded free apps listed by Apple.” • Failure to execute by Trump, and big missed opportunity. I doubt he will get the chance to iterate leadership in this space.


“What was the popularism debate?” [Matt Yglesias, Slow Boring]. “I think people are mad mostly about inflation and the fact that crushing the virus didn’t go as well as hoped.” • Man. That take is so scorching I’m gonna have to call Code Enforcement!

* * *

“Fetterman raises $3.1 million in first quarter of 2022” [The Hill]. “Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) announced on Tuesday that his Senate campaign raised $3.1 million in the first quarter of 2022. In a statement, Fetterman also shared that his campaign has received more than 106,000 donations from 58,000 unique donors, including 23,000 first-time donors as well. The $3.1 million raised in the first quarter brings Fetterman’s campaign total to more than $15 million, and more than 192,000 unique donors have contributed more than 530,000 individual donations to his campaign. Fetterman’s campaign also said it received donations from 88 percent of Pennsylvania ZIP codes and from every county.” if only Amy McGrath could have said the same, for her state of Kentucky….. More: “The announcement comes after a new poll on Thursday shows that Fetterman is leading his state’s Democratic primary by 23 points, receiving 33.4 percent of support from those surveyed.” • I guess the Democrats had better wheel in Clyburn pretty soon…

“Populist Democrat John Fetterman is touring red PA counties for U.S. Senate. Here’s why” [York Daily Record]. “Now, as he vies for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, he’s again touring all of Pennsylvania’s counties. And he’s doing something most Democrats rarely do — especially in a primary: he’s campaigning in red counties. ‘It’s a moral strategy,’ Fetterman said by phone during an interview with the USA TODAY Network Pennsylvania Capital Bureau. ‘We need to engage everyone.’ Taking the road less traveled is as much a part of his personal ethos as it is of his political brand — even when the road leads through reliably red places such as Butler and McKean counties. It’s not that Fetterman is naive to think he can flip them blue. He’s campaigning there because there are Democratic voters there, and he wants to hear from everyone.” • And so what if he’s not telling the truth? At least he cares enough to fake it. (This is reminiscent of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, which arguably put Obama in office and then was destroyed by him and Rahm Emmanuell.

“John Fetterman has a big lead in the Pa. Senate primary. Will attacks matter with 6 weeks to go?” [The Inquirer]. “Democrats watching from the sidelines have been waiting for this moment. Fetterman began the race as the favorite and has maintained a 20- to 30-point lead in all public and private polls. The next six weeks will show how much of that is solid support he can hold even as he comes under attack, and as the candidates ramp up TV advertising….. An Emerson College survey released last week found about a third of Democratic voters undecided, but about half of those undecideds lean toward Fetterman, with few considering Lamb, according to Emerson pollster Spencer Kimball.”

Lamb gets ugly:

“The Braddock man John Fetterman confronted with a shotgun in 2013 says that should not stymie his Senate bid” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “A man confronted in 2013 by a shotgun-wielding John Fetterman — then mayor of tiny Braddock, now lieutenant governor and running for the U.S. Senate — claims Fetterman has “lied about everything” that happened that day. But Christopher Miyares, writing from a state prison in Somerset County, also told The Inquirer that incident should not stop Fetterman from becoming a senator. ‘Even with everything I said, it is inhumane to believe one mistake should define a man’s life,’ Miyares wrote in one of two letters sent to The Inquirer. ‘I hope he gets to be a Senator.’ (That last line was underlined three times.) The 2013 incident has been long discussed in political circles as Fetterman’s career soared. But it has drawn new attention amid the racial reckoning stoked in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and as Fetterman, a favorite of progressives, emerged as the early Democratic front-runner in a race next year that could determine control of the Senate.” • Ah yes, the reckoning, so selectiveliy applied.

“Fracking Divides Field in Democratic Pennsylvania Senate Debate” [Bloomberg]. “Fetterman told Pittsburgh public radio station WESA last year that he doesn’t support a ban on fracking but said he wants to work toward a ‘de facto moratorium because the transition is going to be toward green and renewable energy.” • Commentary:

Lamb may be onto something there. The Trillbillies spit nails when you mention “just transition.”


“Special counsel Durham wants to bring up Trump-Russia dossier at trial against Clinton campaign lawyer” [CNN]. “Special counsel John Durham wants to bring up the infamous Trump-Russia dossier and might even call its author Christopher Steele as a witness at the upcoming criminal trial of Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, according to court papers filed on Monday. Two late-night filings from Sussmann and Durham provided the first indication that the special counsel plans to introduce Steele and his politically fraught dossier from 2016 into the case. Sussmann was charged with lying in regard to a September 2016 meeting with a senior FBI official, where he provided a tip about strange cyberactivity between the Trump Organization and a major Russian bank. Prosecutors say Sussmann falsely denied providing the tip on behalf of a client — and was really working for the Clinton campaign at the time. He has pleaded not guilty. The new filings on Monday suggest that instead of narrowly focusing on Sussmann’s alleged lie and the specific meeting where it allegedly occurred, Durham plans to describe at the trial how the Clinton campaign tried to dig up dirt about then-candidate Donald Trump and his [putative] ties to Russia.” • Hoo boy.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“L.A. County Voting System Still Fails to Meet State Standards, County Clerk Smears Expert Critics: ‘BradCast’ 4/4/2022” [Bradblog]. Bradblog has been fighting the good fight on this topic since forever. “Back in 2020, Los Angeles County deployed a new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system called “Voting Solutions for All People” (or, VSAP) across the nation’s most populous voting jurisdiction. Some ten years in development by the County’s Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, the new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed spectacularly in that year’s Super Tuesday Presidential Primary, leading to long lines and questions about the results. The VSAP system had been conditionally certified by the Secretary of State just weeks before their first county-wide use, after state testing discovered about 30 different violations of California Voting System Standards. The County was required to correct the violations detailed in the Conditional Certification in the months following the election, though they failed to do so in many casesfor years. Now, the County is seeking state certification of VSAP v3.0 but, according to our guests today, has still failed to correct a number of critical security issues that failed more than two years ago.” • NC readers will not be surprised by this; see this post from 2019. (The Democrat in charge of the debacle is, as one one expect, smearing his critics as Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists.)

“Why I Am Not A Liberal” [The Sooty Empiric]. The conclusion: “I believe core elements of liberalism, derived from the central historical missions it is meant to fulfil, are untenable. We cannot have a neutral public sphere and nor would the greater good just so happen to coincide with what liberals say the neutral public sphere looks like. As such we cannot make liberal tolerance norms work. What is more, the notion of private property used to make that tolerance concrete by giving each a sphere of action over which they have control, in fact tends towards undermining what is elsewise best in liberalism, and prevents collective action that might stop its reliance on imperialist exploitation. I hence think a system which did not rely on the public/private division, or anything akin to private ownership of the means of production in a market society, is required if we are to make good on the promise of Enlightenment.” • Well worth a read.


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

With a pathogen that multiplies geometrically, yes, slow data is bad data.

Case count by United States regions:

In the aggregate, cases are down. However, cases in the Northeast are up (reinforced by wastewater and rapid riser data).

For grins, here are the four-weeks numbers:

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Still going up, both in the aggregate and in the North and South Systems.

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

For grins, here is the national Biobot data for the last six weeks:

Once again, the Northeast leads.

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

Every so often I think of doing away with this chart, and then there’s another flare-up. I remember using the metaphor of flying coals in a forest fire — many land, but sputter out; a few catch, and the first spreads. What I notice about this round of flare-up is that the “coals” are the size of multiple counties, not, as previously, single ones. FWIW! (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

Continuing slow improvement as the map shifts from mostly red to mostly yellow (assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered). However, look at the Northeast, which remains stubbornly red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Again, I don’t like the sudden effloresence of yellow and orange. I don’t care that the baseline is low. From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,008,679 1,008,198. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. An unfortunate upward blip. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Stats Watch

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US increased to a record high of 76.2 in March of 2022, as continued inventory congestion has driven inventory costs (91 vs 90.3), warehousing prices (90.5 vs 86.4) and overall aggregate logistics costs to all-time high levels. This is putting even more pressure on already-constrained capacity which hit an all-time low (36.1 vs 42.4). Transportation capacity (45.7 vs 44.4) was headed in that direction too from March 1st-March 15th but seems to have changed course slightly due to the rapidly increasing cost of fuel. Deadhead loads are likely to increase by $2,000 – $3,000 per load given the high costs of fuel, making it less attractive to drive empty trucks back to California, and could significantly impact the tender rejection rate.”

* * *

Tech: “Twitter adds Elon Musk to its board of directors” [New York Times]. “Elon Musk is joining the board of Twitter. The company disclosed the news in a securities filing on Tuesday, one day after Mr. Musk revealed that he had bought a 9.2 percent stake in the social media giant, a purchase that appeared to make him its largest shareholder. The news sent Twitter’s shares skyrocketing more than 20 percent on Monday. Twitter’s stock rose more than 6 percent in premarket trading.” • Commentary:


* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 5 at 1:21pm.

The Gallery

I think I like Bonnard’s interiors better:

Colors like Guagin, though?

Zeitgeist Watch

“#Vanlife Collides With Costly Fuel” [Wall Street Journal]. “#Vanlife, a movement celebrating the thrifty, unencumbered life on the road, is cruising head-on into record prices at the pump. That has pushed devotees to get more creative about making ends meet…. A 50% rise in fuel costs is stretching the best-planned budgets in a free-spirited culture that enjoys decamping to scenic locales in converted vans and buses. That is posing a major test for a community that in recent years remade a once-marginal existence into an Instagram trend, turbocharged by the pandemic’s combination of indoor restrictions, remote work and cheap gas….. Compounding the pain, vehicles big enough to live in tend to get relatively poor mileage. Newer camper vans can go 20 miles a gallon, similar to recent SUVs. But some older RVs and vans average closer to 10. Adding to costs, many camper vans use diesel—common for commercial vehicles but more expensive than gasoline. An average gallon of diesel cost more than $5 on Friday….. Compounding the pain, vehicles big enough to live in tend to get relatively poor mileage. Newer camper vans can go 20 miles a gallon, similar to recent SUVs. But some older RVs and vans average closer to 10. Adding to costs, many camper vans use diesel—common for commercial vehicles but more expensive than gasoline. An average gallon of diesel cost more than $5 on Friday.” • Somehow I doubt this little cultural moment started with six-figure vehicles. Maybe return to a “marginal existence”?

“Can We Please Stop Acting Like Jerks to One Another?” [Bloomberg]. “This acting-out is a strong argument for swift and comprehensive resocialization — i.e., going back to the office and keeping classrooms open even if the pandemic resurfaces. Where it’s safe to abandon masks, we should, so we can see people’s faces again.” • It’s as if nobody in Asia, where masks are routine, is seeing anybody else’s face at all. And yet they do business and have relationships and families and everything. I don’t mean to keep harping on this (well, I do, see above) but it’s bizarre. We are seeing people’s eyes and foreheads. What we are not seeing is the people’s mouths (and chins). I think Freud would have a field day with this synecdoche of mouth for face (and no, it’s not smiling; people can smile with their eyes. Is it that we can’t look at people in the eye anymore? Is that it?) Anyhow, I’m throwing a flag on the massive Betteridge’s Law violation. Forget it, Jake. It’s capitalism.

Class Warfare

“Could This Time Be Different?” [The Forge]. “You bounce around the American labor movement as long as I have, and your one constant is that there’s always a false dawn. Always. Back when I first got involved, it was the 1997 UPS strike over two-tier workforces. The strike was popular with the public and incredibly successful — for a while. Two years later, it was the WTO protests in Seattle. So much energy, so much at stake. These weren’t staged protests for fun; they meant something. Until 9/11 came around, and they faded into the rearview mirror. Even though people in the movement ended up on different sides, the split within the AFL-CIO in 2005 felt like it might be different. Everyone was talking about doing more organizing, on a bigger scale, better executed. Folks were so, so serious about a renewed commitment to organizing. Yet our slow decline continued. The brief hopes of passing the Employee Free Choice Act in 2009. Occupy Wall Street. The Chicago Teachers Union strike in 2012. West Virginia, Arizona, and General Motors in 2018. There’s always a reason to be hopeful. And, let’s be clear, there have been great labor victories in the past 25 years. Real victories that have made life better for real people. But it’s two steps forward, one-to-three steps back. We gain a little ground; we lose a little ground. We win a strike; we lose a key union election. We get new labor rights in one state; we get Scott Walker in another. Someone always wants to be the one to say, “This time is different!” This is the moment, the jumping-off point, the strike, the vote, the march that will turn everything around. But it’s never quite panned out. And while I cheer us on as much as I can, and take pride in the good that we do, I’m usually the curmudgeon.” • That (IIRC) $110,000 organizing budget, tbough. And perhaps the complete lack of involvement by Big Labor or the NGOs was a plus?

“Walking the World: Lima (part 2)” [Walking the World]. ” Across from the fish sellers are a cluster of of stalls serving ceviche. The best is a corner place named Cevicheria Polito. After I found it, I stopped eating ceviche at all the other places, and did my best to eat at Cevicheria Polito everday, which was a bit tough because it is only open from 11 to 2. It serves the best ceviche I have ever had, which makes it one of the best dishes I have ever eaten. It really is magical and eating it makes you realize good ceviche is better than good sushi. Not that anyone is judging. They also have a soup, which is also the best soup I have ever had. It is simple, clean, and filled with subtle flavors. It taste like your are drinking the best of the sea. Everything else they serve is equally good. Their cancha (the large roasted corn nuts that are everywhere in Lima) are also the best I’ve had. Their shrimp, the most flavor filled. You can eat here for an hour, and if you don’t speak Spanish (I don’t), point and then let them decide what to serve you, fill yourself up, and then get embarrassed when they charge you only $4. You can tip them very well, and they will do everything they can to not accept that tip. If they do, they will then try to charge you less the next time. All of the food is made in a small kitchen by three very friendly, hard working, and happy women. I have no idea how they do it. I am not a food person, so maybe there is stuff they do food people would recognize. I simply assumed they have been blessed by the Virgin Mary statue ten stalls away.” • Reminds me of Anthony Bourdain, who not only respected food — and not food-like products — but deeply respected the people who made it. This whole piece is worth a read. See also how franchising “destroys the transcendent” (like this small food stall).

And articles on the working class….

News of the Wired

“‘Superblooms of fungus’: Climate change is making valley fever worse” [Los Angeles Times]. “Officially known as coccidioidomycosis — or “cocci” for short — valley fever is a fungal infection that is transmitted in dust. In the United States, it has mostly plagued humans and animals in Arizona and California’s San Joaquin Valley, where the illness was first described as “San Joaquin Valley fever” more than a century ago. But a disease that was confined to the arid Southwest for decades appears now to be spreading, with new cases being reported in Washington, Oregon and Utah. At the same time, infection rates are increasing, particularly in California, where rates have risen 800% since 2000. Now, as health officers attempt to track this emerging infectious disease, researchers say climate change is largely responsible for its spread — much the way malaria, Zika virus and Lyme disease are believed to be getting worse because of global warming. Cycles of extreme precipitation, along with worsening drought and heat, are creating more of the dangerous dust, researchers say, and worsening wildfires may also be fueling the spread. By the end of the century, valley fever may be a threat across the entire western United States, they say.”

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

TH writes: “I spent several hours this day with friends roaming around the Huntington Library gardens. This white bearded iris is one of my favorites. In fact, I was so enthused about the irises that the friend who invited me (she has a season pass that allows her to bring a friend, and occasionally, like this time, more than one) bought me an iris for my birthday when she returned a few weeks later.” Iris, my favorite flower! Of course, I say that about a lot of flowers, but this one really is gorgeous.

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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. flora

    re: Biden admin. Yep. An excellent take down of pols entirely disconnected from their (hoped for) base voters.

    And also to the above point,

    Sure, elites hate the working class, but they really hate masks, too:

    and the working class hates masks, too,( because deploradoes), or didn’t the Dem estab check that metric?

    When the working class begins to identify with the elites concerning simple ‘on the ground issues’ then the Dems have a real problem, imo.

    And, oh yeah, Mayo pete says all new fleet car mpg will be 45 mpg or higher after 2026, well then, “hello, yellow vests.” /jfc

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its amazing how dumb Democratic “strategerist” types are.

      Even if the economy was “good”, the question is whether its “good” for Biden’s potential winning coalition. If Trump’s boat people and Elon Musk are doing well, and 70% of Biden’s coalition is not doing well, what is going to happen?

      I think government employees and urban/rural divides have skewed the issue, but the GOP isn’t a party of the working class by any stretch. The Democrats tend to get the people who lose on the economy even in “good times”.

      1. flora

        I agree. Then the question becomes: if both parties are economically leaving you behind, what non-economic reasons will sway your vote? I think the current Dem estab is losing that non-economic centered vote.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Given where they are losing per pollsters, they are losing the people who aren’t enjoying the benefits of asset inflation and aren’t bringing enough Republicans onboard. The Democrats are mostly giving lip service to the “non-economic” stuff, though really runs together if one is serious which Democratic Party elites are not. They want vicarious support.

          Ed Rendell promised they would win 2 Republicans for every Democratic voter they lost. To a large extent, this is the goal. Its just why would Republicans vote for a different party. I think Trump was scary in parts of Virginia in the sense they didn’t know if he would move “defense spending” to places that would require moving. Without those government jobs, no one in their right mind would want to live in the hole that is Northern Virginia. The Maryland side is another matter. Alexandria is an exception, but those rows of cul de sacs with Cabela’s as an option have no appeal.

          1. Pat

            I think they also lose out on attracting numerous Republican voters because they aren’t Republicans. And No I’m not thinking of the truism of when choosing between a Republican and a DINO why wouldn’t you just vote for the Republican. Sure the Democrats have been providing much of the same benefits as Republicans have for the last twenty years, but the Republicans do it without the sturm and drang. Democrats, with the exception of the Blue Dogs, have made campaign noises that are counter to those Republican goals and desires in order to court the traditional Democratic voters. They have to at least pretend to want to do those things. Well unless they aren’t in the majority. Does anyone really think the whole mess of the Biden agenda with vetoes by Manchin and Sinema was attractive to anyone who, whether it would benefit them or not, was not interested in raising the minimum wage, etc?

            I get that Rendell’s plan was to be able to jettison the disgruntled former working now independent contractor class, but the ability to transition to do that is beyond the ability of most of the Democrats.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I can’t find it, but I swear Rendell had that clip of him promising two suburban voters for every Democrat lost when he was asked about an enthusiasm gap.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                My memory may be off, but I thought I also remember Schumer being the author of this concept.

                1. The Rev Kev

                  @ NotTimothyGeithner & drumlin woodchuckles. Got it-

                  ‘In the run-up to the 2016 election, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) dismissed the possibility that Donald Trump’s popularity with rural and working-class voters spelled trouble for the Democratic ticket. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia,” he proclaimed, reflecting the prevailing attitude within the party establishment. “And you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”‘


    2. Screwball

      Buttigieg unveils stricter fuel economy standards for US vehicles

      The rule will require passenger cars, trucks and vans produced for the model year 2026 to average 49 miles per gallon, the Department of Transportation said. It will also increase fuel efficiency 8% annually for model years 2024-2025 and 10% annually for the model year 2026.

      That’s quite a goal. Or is is BS? I’ll bet the auto company engineers choked on their lunch when they heard that. I don’t know what the current gas mileage numbers are, but guessing they aren’t anywhere near that. They might be able to engineer that kind of mileage, but with the current tooling and production? I think not. That’s only 4 years away. Time to market with new products don’t happen this fast, especially something as significant as this.

      Either this is just gaslighting the public or they really are that stupid. Or both.

      Ain’t gonna happen.

      1. voislav

        This is what is called fleet-average fuel economy. So it includes electric vehicles and it’s across the whole fleet, rather than a specific vehicle. It means that you can achieve these goals by increasing your electric car sales, which are negligible for most companies. You can also do it by changing the sales mix of he vehicles, selling more passenger cars and fewer trucks.

        So these are goals that are achievable and no engineers choked on their lunch, in fact they were probably consulted on what the targets should be. Most companies are launching electric vehicle lines in 2022-2023 frame. Also, higher oil prices typically drive the sales mix towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles and the way things are going, it looks like higher gasoline prices will be with us for a longer time.

        1. urdsama

          I’m not sure so.

          How often does any company allow unfettered access to their engineering staff?

          Think Dilbert.

          And that doesn’t even include the manufacturing headaches..

        2. MLK

          You don’t have to increase your electric car sales at all–just pay Elon! Up until a year or two ago Tesla made more money selling regulatory credits than they did actual cars. This is wonky too because the fuel mix used to produce the electricity used to power the cars is not even part of the equation. Overall, though, electric cars are greener: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/26/lifetime-emissions-of-evs-are-lower-than-gasoline-cars-experts-say.html

          When I was a teenager in the mid-late 90s my sister and I shared a 93 or 94 geo metro. We routinely got 50 mpg. Unfortunately Americans love driving SUVs and trucks.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Drove my Dad’s Isuzu P’up to Alaska and back in 83 at a definite 40 mpg. Lighter vehicle, yes.

            I sold my car because I’m in an area where I can get life done pleasantly on a bike. There are a lot of electric and 50cc riders and haulers out there that may give the same grace to people living in post-50s (probably up to mid-70s) neighborhoods for around 5k. I hope most go for electric, or at least 4-stroke engines. I haven’t tried a gas-bike, because boy they noizee.

      2. Duke of Prunes

        It seems we’re pretty close to doing the best we can with gas powered vehicle fuel economy. This means many more EVs will have to be sold than today, and I guess we just cross our fingers that the battery, electric motor, charging station supply chain, not to mention the grid, can keep up. If not, the law relaxes (seem to recall this happened in the past), the auto makers sell far fewer vehicles (to keep the ratio of EVs to gas guzzlers in line with the required average) or an unintended loophole is found. For example, the SUV as family car grew from the fact the fuel economy standards at the time did not apply to trucks.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          We just cross our fingers that the battery, electric motor, charging station supply chain, not to mention the grid, can keep up.

          Well, I already know that the batteries won’t keep up. Right now global battery manufacturing is about 500 GWh per year. This is enough for 7 million EVs with 70 kWh batteries, which would cover about 12% of the 58 million new cars sold globally every year.

          Of course, the automobile sector doesn’t get 100% of battery production. They only get half, as production must be shared with power sector and other industries. This means that EVs would comprise at most 6% of global auto sales. I’ve seen predictions that battery production will triple by 2040, but that still leaves us short of the goal even 20 years out.

      3. clarky90

        Importing EVs into NZ may become harder and more costly after US$500m ship fire


        Kiwis may find it harder and more expensive to get their hands on electric vehicles in the wake of the fire that destroyed the ship Felicity Ace along with its cargo of 4000 luxury cars last month.

        The Japanese shipping giant that managed the Felicity Ace, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), has suspended accepting used EVs for transport,….MOL was responsible for shipping about 80 per cent of cars to New Zealand……

        ….Routhan expected that in the longer term the Felicity Ace disaster would result in new safety measures and increased insurance costs for companies shipping EVs.

        Overseas reports have estimated the total cost of that incident could approach US$500 million (NZ$722m).

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Ergh. Battery fires are ugly.

          The article, though, misses what’s really scary about battery fires. They said that “the particular issue with the transport of lithium batteries is that if they do ignite, they burn at a very high temperature.

          That’s not the issue. All sorts of materials burn at very high temperatures. The issue with batteries is that they contain electrical energy that can be released in a uncontrolled manner even when the battery is completely encased in water or foam. It’s like an electrical fire where you can’t cut the power.

          The proper response to a battery fire is to let it burn out. Of course, that’s best done in the middle of an open field with no flammables around, and even then it can take hours or days. But doing it in the middle of a container ship? Hoo boy.

          1. clarky90

            I wonder if EVs will be banned from parking garages and from parking in the basements of highrise buildings?

            Imo, it may become more difficult/expensive to import them from overseas and even transport them, interstate by truck or train.

            The risk-reward is too great?

            1. Greg

              I expect there’ll be some questions on that front only if and when we’ve had a few serious carpark fires.

              I’ve also been looking at the increase in residential installations of power walls and such with curiosity, wondering when the uptick in residential fires that cant be extinguished will appear.

          2. Greg

            Or in the middle of a ship full of more electric cars with very limited access to floors when not at dock, yay!

            Going to be a kick in the teeth for the NZ imports, lightly used small second hand EVs like the Nissan Leaf were very popular with those who were looking at metrics beyond the social cred of a tesla or prius.

            ETA: although there might still be a viable market, now I thnk of it, in refurbishing (battery replacement) for ex-taxi hybrids.

      4. Odysseus

        They might be able to engineer that kind of mileage, but with the current tooling and production?

        In the 1990s, the Geo Metro was rated 39/46 mpg.
        My 1998 Saturn SL1 got a solid 35-37 mpg.
        My 2016 Prius C in practice on the road got 45-50 mpg.

        We absolutely can engineer that kind of fuel mileage. You can’t do it in a multi-ton SUV form factor.

        I would love for some auto manufacturer to make a car that I could be proud to own. For 30+ years I’ve gotten the back of the hand.

  2. Flyover Boy

    Politico, like Business Insider (and Axios?), is owned IIRC by a German billionaire who quite openly demands that all its reporters bow down before the company line of arch-corporatism or face firing. In the wake of the recent obviously coordinated narrative of “runaway crime wave” stories across multiple corporate media, that stuff in the Politico about Black Democratic voters being obsessed with “repeat offenders” — not inequality, not health care — has a definite bovine aroma to it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Black Democratic voters being obsessed with “repeat offenders” — not inequality, not health care — has a definite bovine aroma to it.

      First I’ve heard of this, so yes, the “bovine aroma” is the only organic thing about this.

      Presumably the pollsters were hired with these results in mind.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        I actually hear it a lot from Black clients and neighbors. Church goers all and yes, very attuned to crime, property theft in particular. My household is on our collective 6th car window. Never left anything in the car…

        Don’t even bother calling the cops in Oakland: they just tell you to fill out a report on line.
        Bet it’s the same in every big city from Philly to Portland.

  3. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Tech: “Twitter adds Elon Musk to its board of directors” [New York Times] and Greenwald tweet.

    The talking heads on cnbc have been on fire all day about Musk and twitter. Apparently Musk really, really does not approve of twitter’s censorship of free speech. One commenter, who addressed the censorship issue, flat out said that suppression of the hunter biden laptop story before the 2020 election “interfered with democracy”!!!

    Another factoid presented was that Musk’s position on the board limits him to owning no more than 14.9% of the stock.

    The suggestion was even made that the decline in Trump’s social media offering is due to the fact that Musk will curtail twitter’s censorship so twitter will become the free speech platform Trump was reportedly trying to establish.

    Dunno. Curiouser and curiouser.

    No word from jack dorsey, the world’s richest goofball so far.

    1. Acacia

      Musk will curtail twitter’s censorship so twitter will become the free speech platform Trump was reportedly trying to establish

      This part is funny.

      1. hunkerdown

        Elon’s tweet, “We will coup whoever we want – deal with it!” aged like fine cheese.

        The establishment would really love to shift Trump fanboys over to a more viable, more controllable idol. By proposing the narrative, they punch a hole and invite drainage from Trump World.

    2. none

      How did Musk get 10% of twitter by spending only $3 billion? Is the whole company worth only 30 billion? I would have guessed a much higher amount.

      1. super extra

        twitter doesn’t have a viable business model other than taking VC investor cash and turning it into data centers and then ultimately reselling those and the offices when it goes under or is acquired. they can’t figure out how to monetize it in any real way. as soon as they try to IPO the gig is up if they aren’t acquired. I presume this is why Jack always kept a second and third full time hustle going while he was the CEO, and why there is still no talk of going public.

        edit to add: aside from reselling the real estate there are probably a few lucrative contracts with alphabet agencies and advertisers but nowhere near enough to offset the 15 years of burn

        1. Greg

          I see why Kev said that was an interesting question. It probably is about time started to ponder the purpose of a platform that has got a stranglehold on western media narrative generation, enables mob action against individuals, and is being kept alive through a series of investments so bad as to qualify essentially as donations.

          1. super extra

            OK I biffed that on the IPO but I stand by my statements about their lack of viable business model and that they haven’t managed to do any better than their initial stock peak in almost a decade kind of reinforces that I think

        2. Acacia

          It feels weird to point out that Twitter’s stock has done fairly well since they went public, especially to mention it here at NC, but that would be the conventional wisdom to dispute, e.g.:

          Elon Musk just joined Twitter’s board—here’s how much money you’d have if you invested $1,000 five years ago

          If you had invested $1,000 in Twitter five years ago on April 4, 2017, your investment would be up 252.3% as of Tuesday at 10:49 a.m.

          Now, if somebody who knows something more about this wants to dig into how their stock price and earnings have been juiced, feel free ;)

          1. Yves Smith

            We don’t do stock picking, remember?

            Twitter has some sort of major dip a while back, and this “five years ago” look might have captured it. An exact five year lookback is not the normal way to look at things, particularly since fund managers are measured on annual and quarterly returns.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      >Musk will curtail twitter’s censorship

      It’s ridiculous to ban Trump. It should never have been done. It should be undone. If it takes Musk to do that — [excuse me one moment so I can get a bucket nearby, just in case] — then do be it.

  4. Art_DogCT

    One of my most vivid and most fond memories, is going into the back yard shortly after dawn one April morning to enjoy the first open blossoms among the haphazard collection of Tall Bearded Iris germanica cultivars my parents had gathered over the years. Standing at the chain link fence that separated the lawn from the garden, this one iris bloomed at exceptional height, around 46″, and stunningly, intoxicatingly fragrant. I would stand there at the fence and need only to bend my head a bit to have intimate facial contact with the bloom.

    When I took a break from fragrance, I’d look out easterly across alfalfa acreage with the fast-rising sun evaporating whatever mist has risen with the dawn. Separating our property and the alfalfa field was a long-standing irrigation ditch that hosted all manner of small life, along which I’d gather asparagus spears a bit later in the year. Those iris and that view were a real source of comfort through difficult times. There was also a row of cottonwood trees all along the ditch, which were the source of suffering-inducing pollen all the years we lived there.

  5. JM

    I haven’t had a chance to do much digging on the election in Hungary, but know an ex-pat who is quite upset about it along with friends/family who are still in Hungary. Part of that is pretty mainstream liberal thinking and viewing him as a Trumpian figure, allegations of corruption, and being in power for too long; some I can see, and some isn’t super convincing. Does anyone have some reliable resources I could look at/listen to to learn more about their elections, and the lead up?

    1. Yves Smith

      IMHO, the blowout v. expected tight win is due entirely to Ukraine. Orban has made clear he has zero interest in getting involved. Told Poland when they were being encouraged by the US to Do Something (recall a hoped-for outcome of that European three summit trip that include a Biden stop in Poland at end) that if they indeed Did Something Stupid, Hungary would not bail them out.

      1. JohnA

        Plus, Orban has made a deal with Russia for cheap gas instead of jumping on the EU sanctions bandwagon, and so keep energy prices more affordable for consumers.

  6. unrequited narcissist

    Re: Distressed Biden Base

    My wife, a lifelong Democrat, is swearing off voting D. What pushed her over the edge was the kiddie tax surcharge that the youngest needs to pay on her 2021 unemployment benefits. Full time college student on 2020, got laid off in the summer, elected to withhold taxes from benefits. In tax year 2020, the first $10K or so of unemployment was exempt from taxation, so no tax bill.

    Started grad school in 2021, with a related job. For this year, the unemployment exemption was not renewed by GiveMeABreak Biden, so the full UI benefits are taxable as unearned income. Meaning that the tax rate is not that of a typical grad student, but that of her parents. Result: a 3K tax bill on less than 20K of income, from which withholding taxes were already taken.

    There’s the usual D identity-based foolishness, which we roll our eyes at. But attacks on bank accounts are taken much more seriously, and I doubt my wife is the only one the Democrats lost over this issue.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If the Democrats know that they are toast come November, then there might be an opportunity for them. They could go to certain “interests” and offer to pass legislation using their numbers before they get voted out in return for, ahem, compensation. Since they are almost certainly going to lose heavily, why not make hay while the sun shines out of their proverbial?

      1. JTMcPhee

        What makes this potential Dem collapse scenario any different from business, always, as usual in the Capitol? It’s a Uniparty slaving for great wealth and business interests, 24/7. What issues do the Dems not cover with tax exemptions, archly worded loopholes in “regulatory” legislation, serial decimation of public-benefit programs and laws?

        I don’t see any additional leverage the Dems have from “pre-blowout” desperation when it comes to transferring public wealth to private property.

        And they all, our owners and rulers, have built the House of There Is Really No alternative, You Mopes. Working together,across the aisle, over the generations…

    2. asher2789

      this doesnt pass the smell test.

      she chose to withhold her taxes from benefits and now shes shocked pikachu face that shes gonna owe money?

      i chose not to withhold my taxes from benefits and i am getting a modest refund. shocked pikachu face! i make a modest income and most of my income last year came from benefits rather than earned income, despite having a part time job and living in a state that allows one to collect on partial benefits.

      biden sucks, but so does your daughter’s silly decisions. she assumed that the exemption would be renewed.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Hating on young people for not fully internalizing our complex and bizarre tax code? ouch.

      2. unrequited narcissist

        Let me be the first to congratulate you on your refund.

        I obviously wasn’t clear enough. The 3K tax bill was IN ADDITION TO the (non-zero) taxes already being withheld from the unemployment benefits. Not sure what more could have been done, except for replacing our defective Magic 8-Ball…

  7. Matthew G. Saroff

    It appears to me that the Sussman investigation has moved from, “Trying to flip a witness on a pretty threadbare accusation of lying to the FBI,” to, “Throw stuff against the wall, and see what sticks.”

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Isn’t it the rule of thumb around DC though that you don’t go to trial unless you know you have enough evidence for a conviction? Often, admittedly, it seems to be used as an excuse not to go after one’s peers lest the incestuous status quo of corruption be interrupted. Nonetheless, it sounds like this is going to trial. That’s not nothing. If Durham just wanted to fling poo, he’s had ample opportunity to leak details to pique the public interest. This investigation has been relatively leak free, to the point where many were wondering if Dirham had fallen asleep. Not much has come out during the investigation that wasn’t known or strongly suspected before it started.

  8. none

    and no, it’s not smiling; people can smile with their eyes. Is it that we can’t look at people in the eye anymore? Is that it?

    That’s only real smiles, not the faint smile of wasp dominance mentioned further up. Politicians and other elite overlords only do fake smiles that don’t reach the eyes. Thus, masks cripple them.

    1. JTMcPhee

      That WASP smile is no smile at all, just a self-satisfied, condescending, supercilious sneer and smirk. And c’mon, people — people of color e.g. Black misleadership smirk too. Credit across the board, it is a class thing and the class determinant is money/power.

      “It’s a big small club, and you ain’t in it.”

    2. Mori Calliope

      There’s also the unemotional smile of submission that retail workers and the sub-pmc are familiar with. You know, the non-smile :| smile.

    3. Yves Smith

      I don’t get this smiling business except the idea that the higher ups want to smile is complete bullshit. They want to be smiled at.

      Smiling is a sign of weakness. That is why women are expected to smile and men are not.

      Think of a cop pulling your car over. They have all the power. They do not smile when they ask for your driver’s license and registration.

      My father never smiled. That habit had the effect of conveying quiet menace. Very effective.

      1. anahuna

        Surely, a smile can be a response to sudden, spontaneous joy – – something that persists, beyond all reason, and escapes the diminance/submission hierarchy.

    4. RabidGandhi

      O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
      My tables! Meet it is I set it down
      That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
      At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The superior may smile at the moment they accumulate social capital from the subordinate,, as shown by the subordinate’s smile. That is the “joy” the Harvard Dean missed so much.

        This is one reason I’m so vehemently opposed to photographs of smiling people taken by Western tourists — or journalists! — in faraway countries. It’s an exploitative relation, pure and simple. And the smile by the viewer of the photograph, imputing a “Family of Man”-style identification with the subject and a sense of “common humanity” is equally exploitative and hideously complicit. You cannot know why your [photographic] subjects smile! You can only impute motive, retrospectively.

  9. c_heale

    Re. the anti mask wearing elite. The reason the Western elite don’t like masks is that they never smile with their eyes (ie. they never really smile) – only with their mouths.

    And it might have something to do with the fact that masks make surveillance less easy…

    1. Angie Neer

      Re surveillance and masks, a few months before Covid I was reading articles here about airlines’ plans to “encourage” (force) their passengers to accept facial recognition, and I resolved that I would start wearing a mask in the airport. But the next time I flew was after everyone was masking anyway. Life is funny.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The reason the Western elite don’t like masks is that masks may slow the spread of covid and the Western elite wants the spread of covid to speed up.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The reason the Western elite don’t like masks is that masks may slow the spread of covid and the Western elite wants the spread of covid to speed up.

        Good point!

        “It’s a little chilly in here. Can we close the window? And that Corsi box is too loud; people won’t be able to hear what I’m saying.”

    3. Basil Pesto

      My take is that liberal anti-mask sentiment exists mainly because it is a reminder of their abject failure – if people continue to wear masks, then the problem isn’t solved. Which of course it isn’t. But this is what they were elected to do. People continuing to mask is a ubiquitous reminder of the failure of the square-peg-in-a-round-hole exercise that was the all-or-nothing bet on intramuscular vaccines. They want us to think that it’s worked, so they tell us to stop masking (and stop with reliable data collection, start charging for testing etc), but anyone paying attention understands that it’s pretty stupid to stop wearing masks/respirators, and likely will be for many, many years to come, because of the enormous scope of our failure with respects to SARS2

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Surprisingly (to me) there are still some public health experts out there justifying an anti-mask line. I’ve not seen any coherent arguments behind it (they seem to rely on ‘its not proven….’ line), but it shows the resilience of bad ideas among experts even in the face of overwhelming data.

        But I think that, as you say, the anti mask line is now because the liberal imperative is to say that vaccines have saved us, we can all move on, and aren’t the Chinese so stupid that they can’t just accept the inevitability of a few million old folks dying. The speed in which mask wearing has disappeared in my local area has genuinely shocked me – I thought that there would be some momentum behind wearing them even after the government relaxed restrictions. But in my neighbourhood is right back to February 2020, when only Asian people and a handful of others wore masks. I think there is a malign conjunction of ideas across the right wing, liberal, and even left wing spectrum acting against mask wearing. The imperatives and justifications are different, but they are all going in the same direction.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Veterans Today website has a similar story. I have no idea what to make of it. The claimed general is a three-star, which seems high rank to be consulting for a unit of brigade to division size (I’ve seen claims that there were on order of 10,000 defenders at Mariupol.)

      At Saker and South Front, there have been multiple reports in recent days of U attempts to evacuate, via helicopter, some person or persons of importance from Mariupol. These reports assert that most of the evacuation helicopters have been shot down.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        A U.S. General in a battlefield? My first reaction is to find the idea laughable.

        The possibility of ‘Big Guy’ covering his tracks makes me look at the roll of tin foil that’s just sitting there on the counter, tho.

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        I would think it is more probable that a US general could be killed in Ukraine rather than be captured. A general would have all kinds of layers of armed men protecting him. The only way to get to such a person would be to kill everyone in the vicinity which would very likely include the general. The story is surely false.

      3. The Rev Kev

        A Dominica-flagged cargo ship was sunk off Mariupol by the Russians earlier today. Since the helicopters were proving a bust, perhaps those VIPs in that city made their way to that ship so that it could do a runner into international waters. The shelling the previous day may have been a warning and today they cut off that escape route. It is a possibility but who can say-


        Also, several French berets have been found in that city recently so, Russian propaganda? French mercenaries? Actual French troops? Who is in that city apart from the Azov troops?

        1. Polar Socialist

          At the moment sea of Azov is a Russian inner sea, and most importantly Russia controls the Kerch Strait. Ships can pass only after reporting to the strait traffic control and taking their allocated place in the queue. The strait is under 2.5 miles wide and there’s only one line each way. Average queuing time is 20 hours.

          No ship can do a runner from Mariupol to international waters which are over 260 nautical miles away, behind a serious choke point.

          1. The Rev Kev

            You’re quite right. For some reason, in my mind I had it mixed up with the location of Odessa instead. The Kerch Strait is where that new Crimean bridge was built and so is a bottleneck that is closed at the moment I think.

            1. Polar Socialist

              You’re quite right, too. It seems the strait was closed for at least two weeks until they allowed Russian vessels return to sea of Azov.

              Now there seems to be some traffic, but mostly northwards and all Russian. All non-Russian ships seem to have anchored south of the straits. Can’t find out if it’s because sanctions, insurance issues or traffic control.

              Back to the original issue, I also saw (unverified) reports of Ukrainian troops boarding foreign ships in the Mariupol harbor in an attempt to avoid being bombarded. I understood that the ships can’t leave due to mines closing the harbor.

  10. Jason Boxman

    If there has been a silver lining to this terrible Covid-19 pandemic, it is that the rate of Americans without health insurance dropped to a near historic low, thanks to various federal initiatives connected to the government-declared public health emergency.

    Now, with the pandemic’s acute phase seemingly drawing to an end, millions of low-income and middle-income Americans are at risk of losing health insurance. The United States might see one of the steepest increases in the country’s uninsured rate in years.

    Remember when liberal Democrats promised the moon, and then having gotten elected, well, not so much? I especially remember a missing check for $600.


    1. tegnost

      insurance insurance insurance insurance, but no mention of care…I hear from bernie that bezos is trying to get 10 large (a billion is the new “grand”) to get to the moon so someone CARES, I guess…
      Remember when liberal Democrats promised the moon

  11. JBird4049

    Reports of Valley Fever in Washington and Oregon?!? I have never heard of a case north of Central California. As in ever. I’m sure there must have been some, but IIRC, it only appears in hot, dry, and dusty areas. In near deserts, which is what parts of the Central Valley are. It has been twenty years since I have been to Washington and Oregon, but I seem to recall it being much, much greener than any unirrigated part of the San Joaquin Valley.

    This is some scary stuff. No joke.

    On today’s birdsong, it was nice to listen to the quail. They fun to watch and can be hard to see if they don’t want to be. Cute, so so flyers, but quick on the ground.

      1. JBird4049

        Well, it was twenty years ago and honestly, I have never been to that part of Oregon. Just west of the Cascades.

        1. Copeland

          And the whole darn place, including the Willamette Valley and the coast, is becoming much drier and hotter. Remember last late June, the heat dome?

  12. drumlin woodchuckles

    Does anyone here think Katanji Brown Jackson could be a good pick for Supreme Court? Does anyone here think that if she is defeated, the system will be able to find someone much worse? If anyone here thinks so, then the following might be an interesting or even concerning article.

    It is by a guest poster at the Turcopolier Blog named Willman. It is about how to use the child pornography material which Republican Senators brought up in hearings to get Senators to vote against her.
    It suggests using various CIA-developed brain-control and brain-molding methods to influence Senators against Jackson. It calls for readers to start up their own Information Operations against Jackson and aim those Information Operations towards Senators. Here is a link to the post.

    Anyone here who finds this concerning might want to send this article itself to every Senator and to every office that every Senator has. They might want to warn every Senator and every office that an Information Operation is being called for and may well be prepared and launched, and that if a lot of material like this begins reaching Senators and all their offices, that it is from a crabgrass-roots Information Operation that the Senators and their offices should be prepared in advance to expect.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      After reading your description, I was disappointed to find the linked article was not bat-#?! crazy. “CIA brain control” = talking to your states 2 senators (regardless of party affiliation) in person is best, or call their office. Don’t bother calling out of state. “Material like this” = the publicly available sentencing transcripts of the cases Brown​​ ruled on?

      What is this warning we should send to our senators communication team? People may be calling you to talk about publicly available facts?

      With a couple Rs saying they will support Brown, it seems like this “campaign” is too little, too late… even with its purported CIA mind control techniques (we saw how well calling your Senators worked during the great bailout – it didn’t)

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