2:00PM Water Cooler 4/8/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

This has been California Quail week at Naked Capitalism. I move along to Hawaiian birds, but if any readers want to hear birds returning to their own back yards or balconies, please suggest in comments.

* * *


“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

“Ex-cop testifies he and former colleague hoped to ‘overturn’ election on Jan. 6” [NBC]. “A former Virginia police officer testified against a fellow ex-officer during a Jan. 6 trial this week, telling a jury in Washington, D.C., that they stormed the U.S. Capitol and hoped to ‘overturn’ the results of the 2020 presidential election. Jacob Fracker, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge last month, also said he thought the officers at the Capitol ‘should have been on our side,’ working with the mob on the day of the riot, instead of protecting the building and those inside.”

Biden Adminstration

“In historic first, Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed to Supreme Court” [SCOTUSblog]. “By a vote of 53-47, the Senate on Thursday afternoon confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the 116th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson will become the first Black woman to serve on the court, fulfilling a campaign promise by then-candidate Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. By the time the Senate met on Thursday, there was little suspense about the outcome of the historic vote. Three Republicans – Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mitt Romney of Utah – had already announced that they would support Jackson, giving Jackson’s confirmation the bipartisan imprimatur that the Biden administration had badly wanted. As expected, all 50 Senate Democrats voted for the confirmation….. Breyer is expected to remain on the court until the justices take their summer recess in late June or early July. When Jackson does take his place, she is not expected to change the ideological balance on the court, where conservatives currently hold a 6-3 majority. But as the first Black woman to sit on the court, she will nonetheless be stepping into history.” • Also the first public defender.

“Covid cases close in around the White House” [Politico]. “In the space of a week, dozens of White House aides and federal officials have contracted coronavirus in an outbreak that appears to have touched all corners of the administration, POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn reports. Two Cabinet members have it, along with a growing list of lawmakers. Standing before a packed White House crowd on Tuesday, President Joe Biden cheerfully ticked off a series of his administration’s health care accomplishments. Among them, he said: Finally getting the coronavirus “under control.” In D.C. this week, it seems anything but. What’s happening: Vice President Kamala Harris — who stood next to Biden on Tuesday — has had her communications staff hit by Covid. And on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also tested positive, just a day after appearing alongside the president. Besides the cabinet members and other Democrats, Sen. Susan Collins also tested positive Thursday after attending hearings mask-less, like many lawmakers. The outbreak has jolted Washington elites eager to leave Covid behind and offered an up-close reminder of the pandemic threat that still hangs over the nation and Biden’s presidency, Adam writes. It’s also raised fresh questions about how best to protect the 79-year-old commander in chief, who vowed this year to “get out” of the White House more often — yet faces an ever-present elevated risk of severe illness. ‘Everybody’s in danger,’ said Irwin Redlener, director of the Pandemic Resources and Response Initiative at Columbia University. ‘It’s almost impossible to isolate the president of the United States in a way that would keep him from getting sick.’ Biden’s ability to remain Covid-free to date has been the result of stringent White House protocols, careful travel and — as some officials will acknowledge — a bit of luck. Despite sharing the stage with Pelosi hours earlier, the White House on Thursday said that Biden had so far tested negative.” • They have what they wanted; this is their normalcy; they are not protecting themselves or each other, and so they are creating superspreading events. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Commentary:

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.

* * *

“I Tried to Put Russia on Another Path” [Bill Clinton, The Atlantic]. “I did everything I could to help Russia make the right choice and become a great 21st-century democracy.”

“California cities spent huge share of federal Covid relief funds on police” [Guardian]. “As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (Arpa), the Biden administration’s signature stimulus package, the US government sent funds to cities to help them fight coronavirus and support local recovery efforts. The money, officials said, could be used to fund a range of services, including public health and housing initiatives, healthcare workers’ salaries, infrastructure investments and aid for small businesses. But most large California cities spent millions of Arpa dollars on law enforcement. Some also gave police money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act, adopted in 2020 under Donald Trump.” San Francisco, 49% to police, LA 50%, and so on. Liberal Democrats love cops. Remember how they managed to transform the George Floyd protests into increased police budgets?


“Jayapal looks to boost progressives with key midterm endorsements” [The Hill]. “Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) has endorsed a series of progressive candidates entering Democratic primary elections as the November midterms near, The Hill has confirmed. Jayapal, the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is backing five diverse House aspirants spanning the battleground map, aiming to add more left-wing fire to her caucus on Capitol Hill. She is supporting Robert Garcia in California’s 42nd Congressional District, Delia Ramirez in Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District, Donna Edwards in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, Nida Allam in North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District and Summer Lee in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, each with a $5,000 contribution totaling $25,000…. The endorsements come as progressives are looking to add significantly more manpower ahead of what’s expected to be a challenging House cycle for Democrats. They believe a popular platform of universal health care and increased wages will help persuade voters to turn out for a newer slate of liberals helping to challenge the party in power and Republicans at the ballot box.” • Dubious on turnout. It’s a little late to pivot like that.

“January 6th, Roe v. Wade as the Known Unknowns for 2022” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “But, most of the energy and focus of every election is on the “known unknowns”; things or events that we know are going to happen, but we don’t quite understand the outcome or impact of those events. Two of the most widely discussed (and most high-profile) are the upcoming Jan. 6th Commission hearings in Congress and the decision later this summer by SCOTUS on the future of Roe v. Wade. The question isn’t just whether the nation’s highest court will overturn the 50-year old abortion rights law, or whether the commission will reveal new and explosive information about the events leading up to and culminating in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but whether these events will have a notable impact on the 2022 midterms. More precisely, will those two events have the effect of engaging a Democratic base that is clearly less energized about this election than the GOP. ” • The Biden administration’s Covid debacle isn’t even an issue….

“‘If we do this right …’: The new Dem organizing strategy catching fire ahead of the midterms” [Politico]. “A group of Democratic strategists is trying to spread a novel organizing tactic in this year’s election. Technically, it’s called “paid relational organizing,” but it boils down to this: paying people to talk to their friends about politics. Democrats think it helped them win the Senate in 2020 — and are hoping the get-out-the-vote strategy will help limit the pain of a brutal 2022 election environment. Conversations with friends, family members or neighbors are more likely to earn a voter’s support than chats with a stranger at their front door, which is the traditional way campaigns have run paid canvassing programs in the past. And an important test case for deploying the strategy at scale came out of the Georgia Senate runoffs in 2021 when now-Sen. Jon Ossoff’s (D-Ga.) campaign, flush with nearly unlimited cash but only two months to spend it, used a paid and volunteer relational program to get people talking to acquaintances instead of strangers about the election. In particular, the Ossoff team hired 2,800 Georgians, specifically targeting those with little or no voting history themselves to do this outreach to their own networks.” So, like Amway? More: “A post-election analysis found their efforts boosted turnout by an estimated 3.8 percent among the 160,000 voters targeted through their relational program. Ossoff and now-Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) won by 1.2 points and 2.1 points respectively, flipping the state and the Senate to Democrats. Now, the two women behind that effort — Davis Leonard and Zoe Stein, who are partnering with Greta Carnes, the former national organizing director for Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign [I’ll bet] — are working together to export relational organizing, both paid and volunteer versions, to a host of Democratic campaigns and groups ahead of the 2022 midterms.” • Impressively depraved.

Republican Funhouse

“Arizona AG report finds no evidence of mass fraud in Maricopa County 2020 election results” [NBC]. “A report issued Wednesday by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich found no evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities associated with the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County while raising concerns about some voting procedures. The interim report, six months into an investigation, was detailed in a 12-page letter to Senate President Karen Fann. Brnovich, a Republican, said his office ‘has left no stone unturned in the aftermath of the 2020 election.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

In Canada, but nevertheless:

“Tim Keller: Megachurches are “Poor Places for Formation” & Have “Addictive Dependence” on Founders” [Roys Report]. “Megachurches ‘are poor places for formation and pastoral care’ and tend toward ‘addictive dependence’ on their founders. So said author and pastor Timothy Keller in a Facebook post today, explaining why the church he founded—Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City—decided to split into three congregations when Keller retired four years ago. ‘Megachurches have some design deficits,’ said Keller. ‘In general, they are poor places for formation and pastoral care due to their size. In our current cultural moment that is a deadly problem because Christians are being more formed by social media than local Christian community. We need thick communities and the size of our churches factor into that.’ Keller also noted that megachurches ‘tend to grow fast under a founder’ and ‘depend too much on the gifts and personality; of the founder. ‘(T)he sooner that addictive dependence is broken, the better,’ he said.” • Also, ka-ching.


Leanna Wen doubles down:

I nearly stroked out when I read “one that’s based on individuals being thoughtful about their own risks and the risks they pose to others.” The elites who created a superspreader event at the Gridiron Club — remember the aghastitude when Trump has a similar superspreader event in the White House garden? There were maps and everything — were in no sense “thoughtful,” or they would have masked up and the superspreading event wouldb’t have happened. If you want to see thoughtful, look to the servers, were were masked. But then they weren’t engaged in the great PMC project of sucking up and kicking down, which for some nutty reason requires the removal of “face coverings.” More subtly, what kind of fantasy world is Wen living in? If the Wen and her ilk really wanted us dull normals to be able to assess risk, they would settle on and explain a theory of transmission (i.e., aerosols). Which they have refused to do. I don’t see how it’s possible to assess risk in a pandemic without a theory of transmission, because otherwise — if you believe in fomites — you end up with with people in hazmat suits spraying disinfectant, or — if you believe in droplets — you end up with Plexiglass shields, both of which are Covid theatre. It’s as if Wen expects us to cross a busy intersection with no theory of how vehicles and their drivers operate. And yet, she’s raking in the bucks on CNN. The last thing these people are, is “thoughtful.” The very last thing.

At this point, I’m perfectly happy that there be more Gridiron Clubs, as Wen suggests. Two, three, many superspreader events! After all, with each bout of Covid., you accrue neurological and vascular damage, even without symptoms, and so our political class will become even stupider and physically weaker as it continues to follow Wen’s advice. Of course, we are preparing for war with two nuclear powers, so there’s that, but the prospect of the political class culling itself is really too delicious. They earned it, all of it.

* * *

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

Case count by United States regions:

In the aggregate, cases are down. However, cases in the Northeast are up (reinforced by wastewater rapid riser, and now hospitalization data (albeit from a low baseline). Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

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

NOT UPDATED MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

Still going up, both in the aggregate and in the North and South Systems. Too soon for a Fauci line? I’d give it a week.

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 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. Hello, Santa Barbara County in California! I remember using the metaphor of flying coals in a forest fire — many land, but sputter out; a few catch, and the first spreads. What I notice about this round of flare-up is that the “coals” are the size of multiple counties, not, as previously, single ones. FWIW! (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

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

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

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

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

A new way for hospitals to game the data:

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

Just a reminder:

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

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,011,112 1,010,537. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Even if the numbers are going down, they’re still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

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

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US advanced 2.5 percent month-over-month to $818.2 billion in February of 2022, following an upwardly revised 1.2 percent increase in the prior month and above a preliminary estimate of 2.1 percent. It was the 19th straight month of gains…. On a yearly basis, wholesale inventories advanced 19.9 percent in February, above a preliminary reading of 19.4 percent.”

* * *

Big Pharma: “Medicare finalizes decision to limit coverage of controversial Alzheimer’s drug to those in clinical trial” [The Hill]. “The Biden administration on Thursday finalized a decision to significantly limit Medicare coverage of a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug amid a fierce debate over its effectiveness. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said that it would limit coverage of the drug, known as Aduhelm, to people who are participating in a clinical trial, which can help scientists further study the drug. … In November, Medicare announced a significant increase in premiums, in part citing the costs from the pricey new Alzheimer’s drug. …. The FDA’s approval of the drug in the first place, which prompted three members of an agency advisory panel to resign in protest, has also drawn scrutiny, including an investigation from the House Energy and Commerce and House Oversight Committees.”

The Bezzle: “Inside the Bitcoin Bust That Took Down the Web’s Biggest Child Abuse Site” [Wired]. “Janczewski had followed the links of Bitcoin’s blockchain, pulling on that chain until it connected this ordinary home to an extraordinarily cruel place on the internet—and then connected that place to hundreds more men around the world. All complicit in the same massive network of unspeakable abuse. All now on Janczewski’s long list of targets. Over the previous few years, Janczewski, his partner Tigran Gambaryan, and a small group of investigators at a growing roster of three-letter American agencies had used this newfound technique, tracing a cryptocurrency that once seemed untraceable, to crack one criminal case after another on an unprecedented, epic scale…. When Bitcoin first appeared in 2008, one fundamental promise of the cryptocurrency was that it revealed only which coins reside at which Bitcoin addresses—long, unique strings of letters and numbers—without any identifying information about those coins’ owners. This layer of obfuscation created the impression among many early adherents that Bitcoin might be the fully anonymous internet cash long awaited by libertarian cypherpunks and crypto-anarchists: a new financial netherworld where digital briefcases full of unmarked bills could change hands across the globe in an instant…. Within a few years of Bitcoin’s arrival, academic security researchers—and then companies like Chainalysis—began to tear gaping holes in the masks separating Bitcoin users’ addresses and their real-world identities. They could follow bitcoins on the blockchain as they moved from address to address until they reached one that could be tied to a known identity. In some cases, an investigator could learn someone’s Bitcoin addresses by transacting with them, the way an undercover narcotics agent might conduct a buy-and-bust. In other cases, they could trace a target’s coins to an account at a cryptocurrency exchange where financial regulations required users to prove their identity. A quick subpoena to the exchange from one of Chainalysis’ customers in law enforcement was then enough to strip away any illusion of Bitcoin’s anonymity.”

Labor: “The antitrust case against gig companies” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “A key vertical restraint tact is “resale price maintenance,” which is a fancy term for setting the price that an independent contractor charges its customers. You know how Uber sets the price for a ride, and the driver has to like it or lump it? That’s resale price maintenance….. Vertical restraint theory is very down on “Most-Favored Nation” (MFN) clauses, where a contractor has to promise not to offer their services to a rival at a lower price….. Resale price maintenance is an existential issue for Uber and Lyft, since these companies are utterly dependent on “price discrimination.” That’s when a company uses an algorithm to analyze your misappropriated personal data to estimate how much you’d be willing to pay for a ride and charges accordingly. Famously, Uber jacks up the price if its app senses that you are about to run out of battery…. If drivers and passengers can negotiate to use a different app to complete their transaction – that is, if Uber was forced not to engage in illegal resale price maintenance – price discrimination would be effectively impossible.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 8 at 1:20pm.

Sports Desk

“Tiger Woods’ impressive 2022 Masters return was a unique Augusta spectacle” [New York Post]. “When his day was done, at 4:25 in the afternoon after a five-hour, 21-minute round, Woods stood at 1-under par after shooting 71. He’s tied for 10th, four shots behind leader Sungjae Im, who shot a 5-under 67. All things considered — with Woods still with his right leg that was so mangled doctors thought they may need to amputate and having not played in a tournament in 17 months (the November 2020 Masters) — it was hardly a poor day at all for him. If you told Woods over breakfast Thursday morning that he would shoot a 71, he surely would have signed up for it. ‘I had a terrible warm-up session,’’ Woods said. “I hit it awful. I went back to what my dad always said: ‘Did you accomplish your task in the warm-up? It’s a warm-up. Did you warm up?’ Yes, I did. ‘Now go play.’ That’s exactly what I did, I went and played. I was able to finish up in the red. I’m right where I need to be.'”

Our Famously Free Press

“The New York Times would really like its reporters to stop scrolling and get off Twitter (at least once in a while)” (interview) [Dean Baquet, Neiman Labs]. “I do think we should start to ask ourselves next whether — it’s a trickier line, you know, criticizing peer news organizations. I do not like it when somebody at The New York Times criticizes somebody at The Washington Post. I don’t do that in any setting — it makes me uncomfortable when people do that.” • Solidarity!

Class Warfare


“Amazon Workers in Staten Island Clinch a Historic Victory” [Labor Notes]. From last week, still germane: “The [Amazon Labor Union] clinched a decisive victory today, winning by a wide margin to create the first unionized workplace in Amazon’s extensive network of fulfillment, delivery, and sortation centers across the U.S. The company’s facilities are concentrated in metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, opening a path for more organizing.

The vote at the Staten Island warehouse was 2,654 in favor of forming a union to 2,131 against. There were 67 challenged ballots, and 17 voided; 8,325 workers were eligible to vote…. ;We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because while he was up there we were organizing a union,’ said ALU President Chris Smalls after official results were announced. Another warehouse at the same complex on Staten Island, LDJ5, will begin a vote to unionize with the ALU on April 25.” This is an interesting sidebar:

How We Did It

by Justine Medina

My quick-and-dirty analysis of the Amazon Labor Union’s successes so far is pretty simple. We just did the thing you’re supposed to do: we had a worker-led movement.

We studied the history of how the first major unions were built. We learned from the Industrial Workers of the World, and even more from the building of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. We read William Z. Foster’s Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry (a must-read, seriously).

But here’s the basic thing: you have an actual worker-led project—a Black- and Brown-led, multi-racial, multi-national, multi-gender, multi-ability organizing team. You get some salts with some organizing experience, but make sure they’re prepared to put in the work and to follow the lead of workers who have been around the shop longer. You get the Communists involved, you get some socialists and anarcho-syndicalists, you bring together a broad progressive coalition. You bring in sympathetic comrades from other unions, in a supporting role.

Really, you just follow the classic playbook. Do not be afraid to fight, to get as dirty as the bosses will, to match or beat the energy they’re bringing. Do not be afraid to agitate and to antagonize the bosses, as a union should. Use every tool in your toolbox; file those unfair labor practice charges, every chance you get. Protest and do collective action. Keep building.

It’s the hard work, every day: workers talking to workers. Not just media games, but solidarity, daily analysis, and adjusting as needed. It’s working as a collective, learning together, and teaching each other. Get back to fighting form. That’s how we won.

What I’m describing wasn’t my plan, but the efforts of Amazon workers who got fed up with their mistreatment. I was lucky to be recruited into this effort as a salt by the organizing committee because of my organizing experience with the Young Communist League. I was welcomed with open arms, and it has changed the path of my life completely, but I’ve always understood my role to be following the lead of the workers who were there before me.

This was a truly collective effort, led by some brilliant Amazon workers thrust into organizing by the pandemic and the conditions of their lives; Chris Smalls and Derrick Palmer in particular have been tremendous leaders. I think this union shows the true possibility of what is before us, as a labor movement—if we just remember how to do it.

Justine Medina is a member of the ALU organizing committee and a packer at the JFK8 Amazon warehouse.

News of the Wired

Once again, I seem not to be wired. Apologies!

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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: “This was another photo from my 3/14/22 visit to the South Coast Botanic Garden (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) It an early overcast morning—good for dew bejeweled blossoms, not as good for light.”

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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. Duke of Prunes

    Sorry that this comment is slightly off topic, but it’s something that flashed in my brain last night and I feel like sharing: The reverse dog whistle.

    If I understand the concept correctly, a “dog whistle” is when someone says something nasty by not actually saying it.

    Now, the “reverse dog whistle” is what Biden has been doing a lately. That is, actually saying something nasty, but not actually meaning it. For example, Biden actually saying “Putin cannot remain in office” doesn’t mean “Putin cannot remain in office”.

    1. digi_owl

      Is that not Nixon’s age old “mad dog” thesis?

      As in, make the person in charge seem like a raging lunatic in order to get the enemy to ease of for fear of caring a incident?

      Question is, given advanced age etc are we really sure he is faking it?

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      He’s just saying the quiet parts out loud. Do you really think TPTB don’t want to regime change Putin? Biden just wasn’t supposed to say it publicly.

    3. amused_in_sf

      It’s a pundit/diplomat/apparatchik whistle: only the well-trained can hear what he *didn’t* mean to say.

      1. chris

        That is brilliant. Yes, I agree. The pundit class are the only people who can miraculously hear what the president means to say even when he doesn’t say it.

  2. antidlc

    RE: “Medicare finalizes decision to limit coverage of controversial Alzheimer’s drug to those in clinical trial” [

    In November, Medicare announced a significant increase in premiums, in part citing the costs from the pricey new Alzheimer’s drug. ….

    So now that coverage is limited to those in the clinical trial, will there be a decrease in Medicare premiums?

    Silly question.

    1. TBellT

      HHS Secretary asked CMS to reduce the premium when the price got cut, imagine that will be renewed following coverage determination. But I have never heard of CMS making a change to Part B premiums mid-year.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Does that mean it is institutionally improbable or legislatively barred? Asking for a friend, actually a lot of friends…

  3. haywood

    Re: The new Dem organizing strategy catching fire ahead of the midterms

    I don’t see how this is “depraved.” Are you taking about the payment? Or the Mayor Pete connection?

    In my experience, sending random partisans out to do a door to door political survey with strangers, otherwise known as “canvassing,” is a terrible way to contact voters. It’s extremely inefficient (travel time, gas, no one is ever home) and turns off most voters and canvassers. Having people talk with their own personal networks within their own communities in a more natural environment than door to door cold calls is a much better use of activist time and energy, in my opinion.

    This term “relational politics” is a PMC rebranding of what used to be called “organizing.” I’ve run countless electoral field operations over the years as well as a few union organizing campaigns. The difference between the two was that with one on one conversations in the union campaigns, whether at the job site or over the phone or even at the doors, there was a common bond of community (worksite) and shared interest (better working conditions). The opportunity for meaningful conversation and persuasion is just so much higher when you don’t have to start off as a stranger interrupting dinner or a football game.

    1. nippersdad

      But do the personal networks know that their friends are being paid for their work?

      When doing union organizing one can be pretty well aware of what they are doing because of their priors, but trading on that is also how movements get coopted. In an increasingly precarious economic milieu, should potential informers be subsidized and why wouldn’t someone like Mayor Pete be expected to weaponize his experience at McKinsey by doing so?

      Do we really want an incipient Stasi in our midst? Give me a door knocker any day of the week.

      1. haywood

        Sure. But Democratic Party politics isn’t a pyramid scheme. It’s a different kind of fraud.

        1. Librarian Guy

          The fundraising aspect of Dem Pol certainly has features of a pyramid scheme– like fundraising massive amounts which will go to incompetent insider campaign staff who know in advance they’ll lose and flush million$ away to other insiders, with no positive result possible as to what they’re purportedly seeking . . . But I agree, the overall fraud is arguing that the Dem “liberals” are only racing over the cliff of climate and national extinction at 90 mph as opposed to the R Daddy Party’s 100 mph . . . the evidence this is nominally true is iffy at best, but it’s the best they can do in forming a faux-coherent ploy for votes.

      2. Samuel Conner

        My thought in reflection on this story was an adaptation of the “hammer the only tool in the toolkit” saying — if the only tool in your toolkit is money, every problem tends to look like a problem that can be solved through application of money.

        Of course, that’s for suitable definitions of “every problem.” The problems experienced by the electorate (as opposed to those running for office) cannot be solved through money, they can only be solved through bootstraps.

    2. ambrit

      To my jaundiced eye, the program of “paid relational politics” looks just like good old fashioned Ward Heeler Politics, like the old Tammany Hall organization in New York City for example. As that example showed, this template is a prime enabler of corruption.
      Neo-liberal political “organization,” the essense of the “Pay For” society.
      Tammany Hall: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Tammany-Hall

        1. haywood

          Give me Ward Boss old school machine politics any day over what we’ve got now.

          At least back then the bribes and kickbacks made their way down to the people half the time – roads being paved, cousins getting jobs, etc…

          Today’s hollowed out shells of parties are just as rife with corruption, but the largess all vacuumed up by the consultants, foundations, and think tanks.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            At least Tammany Hall gave you a turkey at Thanksgiving. The Democrats wait until Election Day.

      1. Darthbobber

        Wouldn’t it be more efficient to cut out the middle persons and buy the votes directly?

        All the Democratic strategies are on fire-rather like the USS Arizona on that December day.

        1. ambrit

          Your suggestion verges on a reverse wealth transfer scheme, and thus anathema to the well adjusted neo-liberal. One cannot go against “received wisdom” and remain a member in good standing of the Church of Mammon, Savings and Loan. The proper and accepted method of carrying out the “value for votes” program is through sanctified ‘middle men.’ Then, the residue will “trickle down,” like fresh p— on the legs of the Deplorables. “Hey, we made it rain for you!”

      2. eg

        I was going to say, what distinguishes this from “$2 for your vote” or “free drinks for your vote?”

    3. clarky90

      Re; “strategy catching fire”

      Ship carrying luxury cars sinks near Azores Islands after burning for weeks


      “An abandoned ship carrying an estimated $401m (£295m) worth of cars, including Porsche, Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini models, has sunk nearly two weeks after a fire broke out onboard.

      The Felicity Ace sank on Tuesday about 400 kilometers (250 miles) off Portugal’s Azores Islands as it was being towed…..”

      I suspect that this event is the finish of electric car aspect of the Green New Deal. The Felicity Ace was built in 2005 (not an old rust bucket).


      The insurer is $400,000,000 poorer.

      Will parking an electric car in your garage nulify your insurance? Will shipping firms dare to bring electric cars from Europe or Asia? Will electric cars be allowed in parking garages or in highrise basements?

      IMO, the risks of starting a fire that can not be put out is completely unacceptable.

      In terms of environmental disasters, the loss of Felicity Ace off of the Azores is a major pollution event.

      Are Electric Cars another “transformational idea”, that are, come to think of it, “actually, not so much”,…….. like DDT or transfats………..? Or the rules based world order…..?

      1. VietnamVet

        Nothing defines today more than GM telling customers to not park their Bolts in garages due to fire risks at the same time as NBC telling viewers to park their cars in locked garages to prevent catalytic converter thefts for the precious metals.

  4. antidlc

    Re: “COVID Cases Close in on White House”:

    They have what they wanted; this is their normalcy; they are not protecting themselves or each other, and so they are creating superspreading events. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”

    Maybe they will get long COVID (as Kaine did) and demand something be done?

    1. ambrit

      When the ruling ethos in a social organization becomes “dog eat dog,” the pack never worries itself about the wounded and sick members. The wounded and sick become automatically “expendable.”
      American politics has demonstrably entered an era of the primacy of “The Law of the Jungle.”

      1. JBird4049

        Yeah, but those packs that become dog eat dog usually lose to those who don’t. The freakingly stupid ideology of Social Darwinism of the wealthy and powerful that is the Law of the Jungle does not look at the strength of the society when community welfare, self sacrifice, even dying for it is the norm and how weak society is when those aren’t the norms; also, the size of the cost of losing is also important.

        If failure merely means a comfortable life instead of destitution, people are less likely to betray, murder, steal, and lie. Of course, as in today’s society, failure means joining the losers in the beater car, the tent shanties, or the cardboard box, the desparation, the panic, the raw terror is in the air for all to enjoy.

        Our leaders and their acolytes are so busy killing, barbecuing, and eating each other (and us) that actually doing the work needed to keep our society functional does not occur to them.

        Man, we are one f***** up society.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          Maybe they were ignoring Joe at the recent White House event to ensure he was properly distanced? Even the secret Service detail ran away.

          But they are going to pay my Aunt Bessie to hector me into voting in November? If I tell her that I will vote for these clowns but I don’t, does she still get paid?

    2. The Rev Kev

      From a Democrat perspective, wouldn’t it be best if the virus took old Joe out and clearing the way for a successor? And all the pomp and ceremony of a Presidential funeral would act as a great circuit breaker to issues that that they would prefer to be pushed into the background.

  5. drumlin woodchuckles

    About those White House people and Washington Insiders . . . . one sincerely hopes they get the hypersymptomatic lifetime long covid for themselves which they have been working to spread to the rest of us.

    One really does. No sarc. No sarc at all.

    1. Martin Oline

      The unelected neocons in the White House, State Department and intelligence agencies who are running this country into the ground exhibit the same behavior as the man who accidentally sets his house on fire while trying to rid it of a rodent problem. Unfortunately for the arsonist, while the fire engines pull up to try and extinguish the flames, he sees the mice scampering across the yard to the neighbors property.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Has a whiff of urban myth. I read a DC House of Mystery comic that played out that theme in the 70s. Horrific retribution in the final page of course.

          Now I am the sort of person who still totally believes that fire companies fought it out to get the fee for extinguishing a blaze, back in whatever day. So YMMV.

          1. nippersdad

            It was actually a pretty big story at the time, so not an urban myth. That was back when our local volunteer fire department chief still used to show up for donations.

            I bet he was pretty well received after that.

        1. Martin Oline

          I thought it was Nero but it may have been a common entrepreneurial/ultramanurial practice in Rome.
          Oops, if all else fails I will click on your link. . .

        2. The Rev Kev

          That was the way that firefighting was in America in the 19th century. That you had different fire companies hired by different insurance companies that would only put out houses that had policies with them. Each house would hang out a sign saying which company they were insured with. In fact, you would have situations where in big cities where when an alarm sounded, a big Irishman would run with an empty barrel to the water hydrant nearest the fire, put his barrel over it and fight off any firemen from different companies with competitor insurance companies. It was chaotic and which was why they eventually came under municipal control. Until now apparently.

        1. ambrit

          So was der Fuhrer. So?
          (I will not insult Hitler by comparing him to either Obama or Clinton.)

          1. nippersdad

            Victoria Nuland started her career under Clinton and is still with us after all these years. Though she has been in nearly every administration since then I do not remember voting for her, or her Husband.


            There are some forms of administrative continuity that we could live without.

            1. ambrit

              Hmmm… Money is the “eminence grease” of American politics. It makes the decisions ‘behind the scenes.’
              I wonder who Miz Vicky’s and Marse Robert’s financial backers are. The same ones who backed the NASDAP back in the 1920s? If so, it would explain a lot about this Ukraine thing.

              1. nippersdad

                I don’t know if you saw it a few days ago, but Gonzalo Lira did a really good background check on Victoria Nuland going back to her Grandfather, who got pogromed (is that even a word?) out of Ukraine in the 1890’s. That really is a thing.


                Lira is a pig, but he has a good grasp of the facts.

    2. Acacia

      > “Covid cases close in around the White House”

      D.C. delenda est

      …and indeed they seem to be doing it all by themselves.

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” If you look in the background, the servers and drivers and assistants are all masked”. This could well be a sign of their servant-class membership, but if it keeps them safe or even semi-safe from their Typhoid Covid social-class superiors, then it is a good thing. Because they will be exposed to ever-rotating batches of fresh Rawdawg Superspreaders every working hour of every working day.

    Maybe the Elite Rawdawgers are self-delivering themselves a dose of their own self-administered justice.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have circled back and found the writing about how our PMC Oppressors have earned it, all of it. Two, three, many superspreader events! I agree and firmly support as many superspreader events as possible as long as they are rigidly contained within the Upper Classes and their PMC enablers.

      Meanwhile, we should keep developing and sharing all the covid-evasion-and-resistance information we can for and among eachother, so that we can better survive life under the Typhoid Covid Occupation Regime ( TCOR). Let the Mask be our symbol of reality-based mutual co-protection against the TCOR Regime, and the uniform by which we reality-based covid-cautioneers recognize eachother.

    2. .human

      This recalls an anecdote that a journalist once asked a Muslim women if she minded having to walk 10 paces behind her husband. She responded, ” No. This way they clear the mines.”

      1. Harold

        During the time they had mines the joke was that the women had to walk ten steps ahead.

  7. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Liberal Democrats love cops. Remember how they managed to transform the George Floyd protests into increased police budgets? ”

    They couldn’t have done it without all the help they got from the rioters, looters and arsonists.

    1. ambrit

      You have to admit that there was a non trivial percent of ‘agents provocateurs’ working for and out of the local police in many of those examples of “civil unrest.”
      I saw one of the big time examples of that in the “riots” at the 1972 Republican Party Convention on Miami Beach. It was ‘forced.’

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Yes. I think I have noted that myself in past comments, referring to some of the riot-starters as false-flag Trumpanons and so forth. And of course various kinds of secret police.

        On the other hand, I also remember that Black Lives Matter activist-on-the-ground explaining why Black people have nothing and never had anything and whatever they burned and looted in riots was never theirs’ , so let them riot away and burn everything down. That was several million words ago, by now, and I don’t have the patience to go back and find it.

        1. ambrit

          I have mentioned previously the speech attributed to the late, great, Representative Adam Clayton Brown Jr. during some national rioting where he chastized the crowd for burning their own neighborhood. He suggested that, if they were smart, they would go uptown and burn the rich man’s neighborhood.
          Organization is the key.

          1. ambrit

            Curses! I had a Biden episode and forgot the politico’s proper name. It should be; Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

  8. Bugs

    The Bill Clinton screed in The Atlantic. I understand this is pertinent and news but Kill Me Now.

    1. nippersdad

      He was forced to starve the village to save it. His Wife said so, so it must be true.

      Just as in Libya, they really didn’t want to destroy their civilization, but it was for their own good.

      1. Questa Nota

        Always Be Closing, that sales mantra.
        Always Be Spinning, Lying, Revising History, Burnishing that Image, Burying the Past, the politician mantra.

        There is something to admire acknowledge when looking at the persistence of all that spinning, like some perpetual motion device.

        1. ambrit

          Is Bill Clinton Kang or Kodos? I forget. Whatever, he did perform the “twirling, twirling, twirling” political performance. (An early example of “spin control.”)

          1. Michael Ismoe

            “I Tried to Put Russia on Another Path” [Bill Clinton,)

            They coulda been Haiti if they had listened to Bill.

  9. pjay

    – “I Tried to Put Russia on Another Path” [Bill Clinton, The Atlantic]. “I did everything I could to help Russia make the right choice and become a great 21st-century democracy.”

    Summation: “We tried, we really tried, but they were incapable of civilized behavior and reverted back to their natural predatory state. Thank God for Madeline Albright and my wisdom in expanding NATO.”

    I really don’t have the words to respond to this. Or rather, my words are unprintable. The Prince of the Blob speaks in one of the Blob’s top rags. War is Peace, Freedom is… well, you know.

    1. nippersdad

      “Now Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, far from casting the wisdom of NATO expansion into doubt, proves that this policy was necessary…..It wasn’t an immediate likelihood of Ukraine joining NATO that led Putin to invade Ukraine twice—in 2014 and in February—but rather the country’s shift toward democracy that threatened his autocratic power at home, and a desire to control the valuable assets beneath the Ukrainian soil…..”

      Because everyone knows how democratic Nazis are, and any provocation from them is just historically unpossible.

      Is it conceivable that Madeleine failed to mention that business about having been repeatedly being warned since 1990 that Ukraine was a red line for the Russians? That Burns didn’t tell Bill that “Nyet means nyet” in ’07 after the Munich Security conference, or that the Normandy Format and subsequent Minsk protocols came about as a direct consequence of the US coup in 2014?

      Seems like those are pretty important things to leave out of “the conversation.” But blaming the woman who thought that starving half a million kids was just the price of keeping Saddam from invading her Kuwaiti friends again makes sense. They wouldn’t have been invited to the cocktail party anyway, and that is what is truly important.

  10. Lee

    “We read William Z. Foster’s Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry (a must-read, seriously).”

    Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry

    Written: William Z. Foster
    First Published: Workers Library Publishers, Inc. October, 1936
    Transcription/Markup: 2019 by Philip Mooney
    Public Domain: Marxist Internet Archive 2019. This work is completely free.

    This document was used by New York Amazon workers in 2022 to successfully establish their right to unionise.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Foster was the lead organizer of the 1919 steel strike, and later became General Secretary of the CPUSA after Earl Browder (grandfather of post-USSR hedge fund predator and Putin/Russia-demonization operator Bill Browder) was purged in 1945. He led the Party during the worst days of the early Red Scare, the Taft-Hartley years and Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party campaign in 1948. He has been criticized for his turn away from Browder’s Popular Front/Americanist posture of the late ’30’s and war years, and having the Party essentially go underground and isolate itself more than some historians thought necessary. A prime example of those old school Reds who, whatever their many shortcomings, knew how to organize, accomplished much that improved people’s lives, and never sold out…

  11. Darthbobber

    Clinton makes it all the way through that Russia screed without so much as mentioning the October ’93 Russian constitutional crisis, the shelling of parliament, suppression of the opposition press, end of the independence of the high court. Or of our considerable efforts at reelecting Yeltsin under-err–less than democratic conditions.

    Sacrificing the fledgeling democracy of the Gorbachev constitution on the altar of shock therapy was pretty decisive in terms of Russia’s evolution since, also in terms of creating the oligarchs in the first place. Odd how none of this is worth even a passing mention. Priorities, I guess.

  12. Pat

    I thought I had bookmarked a comment thread regarding best treatment for congestion including colds and early Covid. Unfortunately I didn’t. I cannot recall if the community recommended a particular Mucinex or pseudoephedrine or combination thereof. Does anyone recall that conversation?

    1. Lou Anton

      This country, man. We got an incredible demonstration of universal healthcare for a single issue (thanks Trump, for real), and now we yank it back and send people to Painville.

      We get these small glimpses of good things, only to have them choked off ASAP. It’s the one bipartisan thing. Don’t let the proles have even a modicum of prosperity.

    2. IM Doc

      I have had multiple COVID positive patients this week – all fairly ill. All vaccinated. Many boosted.

      Although none of them have been critically ill, I did believe that 8 of them met the threshold for Paxlovid. Not one of them could actually obtain the meds. We either had a pre-authorization from hell, rationing pharmacies with their own criteria for the drug, or inability to afford the outrageous co-pay.

      Alas, back to the old standbys of IVM, Zinc, Fluvoxamine and inhaled steroids. They do seem to work much better than the Paxlovid anyway. Although even the inhaled steroids are now specifically NOT being paid for by some insurance companies for COVID. They too are very expensive and there is a sudden critical shortage of at least one of them.

      What a tragic joke this has become.

      People should really read this whole tweet. It is exactly what patients go through all the time when COVID happens in a big corporate medical system. I thank God daily that I am no longer part of those monstrosities. The harrowing part of his tweet was how much it was going to cost him to get the monoclonal antibodies. I just see flashes in my mind of all my patients who are already struggling to make ends meet. And the wait because the center was “crazy busy” all of a sudden. This has all the potential to be a tragedy of extreme proportions. I do not have a good feeling about all of this.

    3. curlydan

      “the MAB center is now “SUDDENLY CRAZY BUSY” the nurse told me over phone”. Ruh-roh.

      Speaking of super spreader events, here is one I saw at Rice University in Houston following their Beer Bike weekend:

      “‘Over the past few days there’s been a significant rise in the number of positive cases reported in our community – about 145,’ Kirby wrote. ‘Over 90% of the positive cases are undergraduates, with about half occurring in two residential colleges.'”

      There are only 4K undergrads there.

  13. jr

    Breaking Points on the rot at the head of BLM:


    Shocker: Clinton operatives were involved. I wonder who is crawling around in the upper reaches of the “trans-movement” that seems intent on making sure there is an enormous backlash against their efforts. Certainly ain’t trying to make friends and allies…

    1. super extra

      I’ve long thought that whoever came up with the ‘trans rights are civil rights’ rallying cry had created it as a poison pill. it’s like it’s been designed to piss off as many potential allies as possible. imagine if they’d fought for the right to have medical access free at the point of care for all people, and all medical procedures and guidance purely between the doctor and patient, free of insurance or religious dogma. imagine how much of their cause that would cover, while winning them allies. they could have fought for the right to be seen as they wish by others independent of the medical realities that make them be seen as such. but then they wouldn’t have been subject to ‘uplift’ by the Democratic Party.

      1. jr

        I strongly suspect these “movements” were rooted in CIA academic operations. We know the spooks infiltrated the academy in the ‘60’s if not earlier. There was an article here a few months back about how much they loved Foucault, I’d bet a kidney Butler’s moron-a-thon of ideas were promoted by them. Divisively acidic, dismissive of any kind of logical structure other than their own ravings, solipsistic to the point of sociopathy: the perfect goop to fill up the space between the ears of a population weaned on advertising and a culture of entitlement. Burnished with some good ole’ American moralizing and you have an ideology that makes it’s enemies as it goes and which is incapable of resolving the problems it purports to address. A self-licking rainbow blo-pop.

        1. Kfish

          Me too. None of this intersectional politics was in the air until post-2011, when Occupy was going strong and America had the closest thing to class consciousness in 50 years. Then suddenly – there’s a worldview everywhere that encourages the oppressed to separate themselves into tiny little groups and fight each other over who’s the most oppressed. The prize for winning this fight is scraps from the upper class who are now one unified blob.

          Divide yourselves, unify your enemy – that’s the opposite of a winning strategy. And suddenly it had institutional backing everywhere.

      2. marym

        I suppose transgender activists would generally support universal health care. Are they at fault not only in focussing on an unpopular issue (their own immediate survival) but also in not focussing primarily on the issue of universal healthcare, other proponents of which have been trashed repeatedly by the liberal and conservative establishment, and much of their following?

        Democrats and their form of identity politics deserve all the criticism they get for “fighting for” and “uplifting” while utterly failing to provide material benefits or protect the civil rights of anyone of any identity. I sometimes wonder, thought, if the same challenge is ever posed to conservative identity politics activists: Imagine if they had ever fought for anything bigger and better than… well, whatever it is they hope to achieve by rolling back or denying rights to everyone else.

        1. super extra

          I suppose transgender activists would generally support universal health care. Are they at fault not only in focussing on an unpopular issue (their own immediate survival) but also in not focussing primarily on the issue of universal healthcare, other proponents of which have been trashed repeatedly by the liberal and conservative establishment, and much of their following?

          I think this is a straw man but I know this is a really fraught topic because it can sound like I don’t support someone’s human right to live as they wish. One cannot ‘trans’ their gender without the addition of hormones and hormone blockers, which are not free and require a doctor’s prescription. I am a biological woman. I live in a state where I cannot receive medical care for lots of medical issues related to reproduction simply because I am a biological woman. I can’t pay my way out of it, I have to leave the state and go elsewhere (at this point, several states away). I also happen to work in one of the only fields where transwomen are overrepresented relative to biological women (tech). On an individual basis, I know these transwomen, interact with them as women, etc. But the idea that the transwoman and the biological woman are ‘natural allies’ because we’re both oppressed by conservative culture wars is silly. They have a different set of problems from mine. But all of these issues can be sidestepped if the focus is on how both of us are oppressed with denial of medical care. That is, at least, a start towards communal cohesion on this topic. Otherwise one of us – the biological woman and the transwoman – have to ‘give up’ something in order for that cohesion to set it. That is why this topic has been allowed to rise to the top of the culture wars – it is a cognitive kill switch with too many people. Just like with abortion.

          tl;dr: if the medications that allow someone to transition were to be guaranteed as a right to a group of people based on identity reasons, but medications needed to save someone’s life for non-identity reasons (like insulin) are not guaranteed, I do not see this as an improvement in any way.

  14. Tom Stone

    I’ve been thinking a bit about how it must have felt to Brandon being shunned at his party in his home.
    He entered the Senate in 1972, the year Nixon was re elected.
    He hasn’t waited on hold or stood in line since.
    When he applied for a loan he got the “Friend” rate and the underwriting was done by someone kind.
    People gave him nice things, $ for his campaign, the use of a pretty boy or girl, investment opportunities that were a sure thing….
    And his kids and other relatives were also treated lovingly because HE was very important.
    Problems that would have been a big deal for the average Joe and his kids simply went away.
    There were always people waiting in line to kiss his saggy white ass and thank him profusely for the opportunity.
    When he was at a party there were ALWAYS people who wanted just a moment of his time, and maybe a pic together to show they knew the great man.
    Then came the Vice Presidency and the love multiplied, a ride on air force was worth millions to a businessman.
    And now, finally, the big brass ring, PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES !
    It felt like bathing in an ocean of love, baby, an ocean of love.
    And you fuck things up by committing an act of war against a nuclear superpower with illegal and insane sanctions.
    Worse yet you don’t give the right people a heads up, you diss them big time and your poll numbers drop like a rock.
    So you call up one of the REAL friends you have in DC,not a “Washington friend”.
    The dude who helped push you over the line.
    And you say “Barry, I wanna throw a party for ya here at the White House to celebrate the anniversary of our joint triumph, teh ACA”.
    And Barry says “I’ll be happy to come and give you a little boost,you’ve been like a Bro to me”.
    So they throw the party, Barry shows up ’cause he’s the star and he can’t see Brandon, or hear Brandon, the sunlight of his smile lands on Kamala,”The People’s Choice” Harris.
    Not Brandon.
    “Didn’t you used to be someone?”
    Brandon has always been smaller on the inside than he is on the outside but he is one mean son of a bitch.
    It will be interesting to see how Joe and Jill strike back, as long as it doesn’t involve a big red button.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Joe doesn’t even remember it. Jill does but she will be powerless soon enough.

      1. Tom Stone

        I very much hope that Joe and Jill will be powerless soon enough.
        He is seriously irrational and a clear and present danger to all living things on this planet.

        When Kamala Harris is the better choice ….

        1. Pat

          But is she. I remember back in 2008 as my first and second choices were denied any chance going but he isn’t Clinton. Obama was a first rate President if what you wanted was war mongering, increased inequality and the destruction of healthcare reform used to make insurance companies even richer.
          Clinton might still have been worse, but it is truly hard to tell. Harris was a singularly bad DA and AG. With continued Clinton camp influence and her own bad instincts coupled with the racism defense as a protection, I am not sure it might not be out of the frying pan into the fire.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Just be thankful that you never had old Joe as President when at his peak. I can guarantee that things would have been far, far worse (if possible).

  15. Darthbobber

    Zeitgeist sign. My AM drive time station this morning had a Lockheed-Martin commercial about the “F-35 community of nations” and Lockheed’s pride in helping said community keep us safe from all the (unnamed, but names not needed) perils facing us.

  16. Henry Moon Pie

    So I’ve been thinking about the crowing of our “intelligence community” (referring to organizations that demonstrate little of the former while doing their best to destroy the latter) about its enthusiastic peddling of its lies. What puzzles me is the purpose of these lies. Are they looking for approval to go nuke? PMC libs might be crazy enough, but most of us aren’t.

    If brought to mind for me an “historical” example portrayed in a fictional TV series set in Los Alamos in the 40s called “Manhattan.” The scriptwriters show the military minders of the brains constantly exhorting them to hurry up because “intelligence” said that Heisenberg was getting close. In fact, the Nazis never got all that close to the bomb, and when the scientists learned after Germany surrenders, they’re very angry about being lied to.

    Now why did those generals lie to the Ph.Ds? Was it because they were worried that the scientists might hold back from creating such a terrible weapon? Was it because they had carefully trained Americans to be “nice people” while they, the holders of power, were no such thing?

    But in the case of why we’re being lied to so fervently about Ukraine, I have no idea. It’s not like we have any say in the matter anyway.

  17. Tom Stone

    I have been watching Harris’ career since she was first mentioned in Herb Caen’s column in 1994.
    She has been focused unwaveringly on becoming President since at least that time if not earlier.
    She is corrupt, amoral, ruthless and has an insatiable lust for power.
    She is not suicidal and she is smart enough to understand that a Nuclear War would be bad for business.
    With luck she’ll bring in Willie Brown as chief of staff or at least a trusted adviser.
    Willie Brown is the greatest bag man California has ever produced ( A high bar) and he is a political genius.
    It could be a lot worse, Hillary worse.
    Harris gives the Human Race a chance to survive a few more years and that’s as good as we are going to get.

    1. Martin Oline

      Thank you for the mention of Herb Caen, Mr. Baghdad by the Bay and the practitioner of three-dot journalism. I thought he had retired before 1994, but I find he refused to retire, living until 1997. I have many fond memories of his gossipy columns. Many of his choicest tidbits were supplied by his anonymous contributors. Here is a short piece lifted from the Wiki entry for him – “His many recurring if irregular features included “Namephreaks”‍—‌people with names (aptronyms) peculiarly appropriate or inappropriate to their vocations or avocations, such as substitute teacher Mr. Fillin, hospital spokesman Pam Talkington, periodontist Dr. Rott, piano teacher Patience Scales, orthopedic specialist Dr. Kneebone, and the Vatican’s spokesman on the evils of rock ‘n roll, Cardinal Rapsong.”

  18. MG

    Terrible to learn today McConnell will refuse to move ahead forward any Democratic SCOTUS nomination if the GOP regains the Senate majority after the 2022 midterms.

    There is no American precedent for this kind of action and apparently from what I read no way to legally challenge it in federal court either.

    1. tegnost

      You must be really P.O.’ed at the dem leadership that they did nothing to energize their purported base and now this. I do hear that every lost working class vote is replaced by two suburb votes which of course is the whole reason we need right wing democrats (they may be ok with supporting right wing left wingers so necessarily thats what we must get)…to service the needs of former republican suburbanites who just really really don’t want to be seen as one of those stupid people.
      I’m truly surprised that the dem social program called “Just Be Rich” hasn’t caught on…

  19. Idland

    My yellow fever since Tricia Takanawa has been soothed with aspirin plus gin and tonic. But you, Lambert have produced a permanent cure. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  20. SocalJimObjects

    Perhaps someday we will ascribe this description to Leanna Wen ….

    “He is what they call in the thrillers a double agent, a triple agent in this case, an agent to infinite regression. In truth, an agent of retribution.

    Nah …

  21. melvin keeney

    Lambert I don’t understand two things: 1. Why do you waste time and energy making charts on bad data? 2. I agree that COVID is spread via aerosols. But why say masks are important? I worked at a nuclear power plant for 25 years. My life depended on my mask. We didn’t use paper or cloth masks. You know why? They don’t work. Check the size of the aerosol particle and size of holes in paper and cloth masks.

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