2:00PM Water Cooler 5/05/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I had a household debacle and got a late start (along with irritating VPN problems). I will break my rule and add a few updates. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

Warbler Week Two at Naked Capitalism. From Maryland, US.

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Politics

“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

UPDATE “Avalanche of leaks imperils Jan. 6 committee’s delivering on blockbuster hearings” [NBC]. “The House committee probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol wants its upcoming public hearings to be must-see TV, but an avalanche of leaks could just as easily make them a bust. So much about the failed coup is already known that many Americans may see no compelling reason to watch. When the committee started work last summer, some staff met privately with veterans of previous investigations to ask for advice. A lawyer for a past Democratic administration suggested that it put out fresh material on a rolling basis to pique the public’s interest and make sure people stay engaged. The committee took a different path, envisioning blockbuster hearings after the investigation wrapped up. A series of eight separate hearings are now set to begin on June 9. Some will air in prime time, with a written report coming in the fall.” • Waiting for that timeline, backed by evidence at every point. No more of this “the walls are closing in!!!!” stuff…. Watergate, not Iran-Contra (fortunately for Democrats, there’s no Ollie North equivalent), let alone Benghazi. Big challenge, and it’s not clear to me that the Democrats have the operational capability to deliver.

Biden Adminstration

“Biden showcases deficit progress in bid to counter critics” [The Hill]. “President Joe Biden on Wednesday highlighted new figures showing the government’s red ink will grow less than expected this year and the national debt will shrink this quarter as he tried to counter criticism of his economic leadership amid growing dismay over inflation going into midterm elections that will decide control of Congress. Biden, embracing deficit reduction as a way to fight inflation, stressed that the dip in the national debt would be the first in six years, an achievement that eluded former President Donald Trump despite his promises to improve the federal balance sheet. ‘The bottom line is the deficit went up every year under my predecessor before the pandemic and during the pandemic. It has gone down both years since I’ve been here,’ Biden said. ‘Why is it important? Because bringing down the deficit is one way to ease inflationary pressures.'” • Well, the midterms are in the bag now. 2024, too!

“Biden administration expands use of Title 42 after moving to end it” [Los Angeles Times]. “The Biden administration has expanded expulsions of Cubans and Nicaraguans under a controversial Trump-era pandemic policy, even as it argues publicly that it is time to end the practice. That will include 100 Cubans and 20 Nicaraguans sent back from San Diego to Tijuana daily, a Mexican official confirmed with the San Diego Union-Tribune. A U.S. official told the Associated Press that the same numbers of each nationality will be expelled at two additional locations in Texas as well. The expulsions are part of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order known as Title 42 that gives border officials the power to block asylum seekers and other migrants from reaching U.S. soil at ports of entry and expel them to Mexico or their home countries rather than processing them under normal immigration laws.”

“The Harris-Biden student debt divide” [Politico]. “Early in April, Vice President KAMALA HARRIS’ office began collaborating with the White House on a social media video to promote the administration’s extension of its pause on federal student loan payments. Harris’ office then decided against it, according to two White House officials familiar with the matter. Ultimately, President JOE BIDEN released his own video and Harris issued a statement about the policy. It was a shift from December — the last time the administration extended the pause — when Harris and Biden both filmed social media videos about the extension that came down then and worked with advocates of student debt cancellation. Privately, Harris has advocated for additional loan forgiveness. One White House source said her office seemed initially eager to participate in the administration’s public dialogue around student loans. But conscious of progressives pushing Biden to unilaterally cancel tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and that Biden is resisting such lobbying, the vice president has been increasingly wary of becoming part of the public face of the administration’s response. The delicate politics reflects the broader divisions within the administration over student debt relief, a debate that goes all the way to the top.” • “Additional loan forgiveness.” Whatever that means. $15,000 instead of $10,000?

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“Senate Democrats Will Try to Save Abortion Rights. It Won’t Work.” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. The lead: “Since Democrats control the White House and Congress at the moment, one might think they would be able to take some action to protect the constitutional right to an abortion.” Well, er…. More: “But there is one huge problem with the Democrats’ plan: The bill was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate earlier this year, and despite the radically changed circumstances that make the legislation more urgent, it will be blocked by a Republican filibuster again…. Anyone hoping that the impending end of Roe had changed things quickly had their hopes dashed once again. On Tuesday, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema confirmed that they will not abandon their staunch support of the filibuster in order to facilitate passage of a preemptive abortion law (which Manchin — and for that matter, fellow Democrat Bob Casey — doesn’t support in any event). In theory, Democrats could compensate for the loss of two senators from their conference by recruiting pro-choice Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. But they, too, have indicated that they won’t vote to kill the filibuster for an abortion bill or any other legislation. And in addition, they oppose the Democratic-drafted Women’s Health Protection Act, though they do have their own narrower bill that would codify Planned Parenthood v. Casey’s “undue burden” standard for unacceptable pre-viability state abortion restrictions.” Manchin and Sinema, both installed by DNC/DSCC — DSCC actually supplied Sinema with personnel for her campaign — are the “more Democrats” they keep telling us they want to elect. So what to do? More: “But as with the failed efforts to enact a sweeping budget-reconciliation bill and to protect voting rights, you have to wonder if another doomed assault on the wall of Republican obstruction will simply make Democrats, with their alleged governing trifecta, look feckless to their own constituencies. It’s unclear whether good intentions leading nowhere will help or harm their argument for retaining power.” • It’s not a ‘wall of Republican obstruction” if “the math” tells you the only way to get to 50 is with Collins and Murkowski. We have a political machine designed to turn itself off:

“Newsom accuses Democrats at the national level of sleeping as abortion rights are eroded.” [New York Times]. “Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday vowed to protect the right to abortion in the state he leads and issued an impassioned ‘wake-up call’ to the Democratic Party about what he described as a coordinated Republican-led effort to erode more rights that many Americans have for decades assumed were settled, such as the right to interracial marriage….. He again accused Democratic lawmakers at the national level of being disorganized, while the G.O.P. continued to show discipline. ‘Where is the Democratic Party?’ he said. ‘Where’s the counteroffensive?'” • Good question! Certainly California Democrat regulars have led extremely successful counter-offensives against Sanders supporters, #MedicareForAll, etc.

UPDATE “White House scrambles for ways to protect abortion” [WaPo]. “Scrambles.” “[I]n marathon meetings and phone calls among White House officials, government lawyers, outside advisers and federal agency officials, a sobering reality settled in: There’s little the White House can do that will fundamentally alter a post-Roe landscape… Congress can guarantee abortion access nationwide by making the protections under Roe v. Wade law, but there is widespread recognition inside the White House that this path has been foreclosed for now…. Biden officials spent much of Tuesday panicked as they realized how few tools they had at their disposal, according to one outside adviser briefed on several meetings…. But officials privately recognize that nearly any administrative action would face legal challenges from Republican attorneys general, and that many of those challenges could succeed. Even if they don’t, they could tie up the action for months.” • After 40 years, there’s no plan?

“The Supreme Court Appears Likely to Strike Down Roe v. Wade. Voters Are Most Likely to Say It Should Be Upheld” [Morning Consult]. “Regardless of Roe, voters are more than twice as likely to say abortion should be legal nationally than that it should be illegal. Just under half of voters said abortion should be legal nationwide, while another 21% said it should be illegal across the country and 19% said the issue should be left to the states. Relatively few voters believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases (35%)…. Abortion has long been used as a political football, and leaders are already using the decision to rally voters around the 2022 midterm elections…. Asked how they feel about the Supreme Court’s draft opinion, Democrats were most likely to say they feel ‘worried’ and ‘frustrated,’ while Republicans said they were ‘hopeful’ and ‘happy’ and voters of both parties were ‘interested.’ Yet it’s still unclear whether the energy will translate to action at the ballot box come November.”

2022

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UPDATE OH: “Vance’s Ohio Senate Victory Isn’t a Big Win for Trump” [Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal]. “The last poll before Mr. Trump endorsed on April 15—taken by the Trafalgar Group—showed Mr. Vance at about 23%, trailing former Treasurer Josh Mandel, who held 28%…. Tuesday, Mr. Vance won with 32%, followed by Mr. Mandel at 24%…. Mr. Trump’s last-minute help for the new GOP Senate nominee didn’t end with his endorsement. The former president’s support led tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel to give Mr. Vance’s super PAC $3.5 million for ads during the primary’s final two weeks. Together Messrs. Trump and Thiel drew most late deciders into the Vance column. Without that one-two punch of endorsement and last-minute ad blitz, it’s likely someone else would be the GOP’s general-election standard-bearer. Still, while Mr. Trump’s endorsement made the critical difference, only 1 of 11 Ohio Republicans followed Mr. Trump’s call to fall in line as Mr. Vance’s share grew from 23% in the last pre-endorsement poll to 32% on Election Day. His 9% bump was overshadowed by the rise of Mr. Dolan, who nearly doubled his share of the vote after Mr. Trump announced his late-in-the-race endorsement. Almost 68% of Ohio Republicans ignored or rejected the former president’s call to join in his ‘Complete and Total Endorsement’ of Mr. Vance. It didn’t help that many Trumpers didn’t like Mr. Vance. Ohio Republican county party officials and national convention delegates who were Trump loyalists publicly expressed their displeasure with the former president’s decision. The gubernatorial primary in Ohio also highlighted the limits of Mr. Trump’s sway. While the former president didn’t endorse any candidate outright in the four-way race, he made it clear that incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine wasn’t a favorite, calling him a ‘terrible governor’ and a ‘terrible, terrible guy’ at an April 23 rally for Mr. Vance. Still, Mr. DeWine was comfortably renominated, proving that candidates can survive a denunciation by the former president.”

UPDATE OH: “A Trump Bump for Vance” [Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “What is a Donald Trump endorsement worth to a Republican candidate in a major race? To J.D. Vance, the author and newly-minted Republican Senate nominee in Ohio, it probably was the difference between winning and not winning, although the effect is hard to quantify with the limited information we have…. So what’s the value of a Trump endorsement? Well, the former president doesn’t have the power to simply direct a Republican electorate to do whatever he wants (if he did, he would never be on the losing side of an intraparty race, but he has been and will be). But there are reasons why Republican candidates so vigorously pursue Trump’s affections — it’s because they believe a Trump endorsement is important in a GOP primary. Certainly what happened with Vance will reinforce that belief. We’ll see how Trump’s candidates do in some upcoming races, like the Pennsylvania Senate primary coming up in a couple of weeks, where Trump backed television doctor Mehmet Oz (R) in another competitive race.”

TX: “Why Aren’t Democrats Supporting This Pro-Choice Candidate in Texas?” [Vice]. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday that the leaked draft opinion of a Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade is ‘a sweeping and severe restriction of Americans’ rights,’ one that if issued, ‘would pave the way for Republicans to obliterate even more of our freedoms.’ But in a crucial Democratic primary runoff in South Texas, Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders are backing anti-abortion Rep. Henry Cuellar as he tries to fight off 28-year-old immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros’ second challenge from the left… Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn have all endorsed Cuellar. Pelosi donated $4,000 to Cuellar’s campaign in December and reiterated her support for him following the March 1 primary, and Clyburn is set to campaign with Cuellar at an event in San Antonio on Wednesday. A Clyburn spokesperson told VICE News in an email that Clyburn ‘is still planning to be with Cuellar’ Wednesday. Cisneros, who finished roughly 1,000 votes behind Cuellar in the primary out of nearly 50,000 cast, told VICE News that it’s been ‘frustrating’ seeing the Democratic leadership stand behind Cuellar—even as he’s opposed Democratic agenda items such as the bill to make Roe’s protections a federal law, as well as the PRO Act, a monumental package of labor law reforms to empower workers.” • Sounds to me like if we didn’t have President Manchin, we’d have President Cuellar. Pelosi and Schumer have really engineered defense in depth!

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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Trump Legacy

“What Is Trumpism?” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. This deployment of Gramscian concepts is well worth a read. “As soon as Trump appeared as a viable political force, the entire mob of the American extreme right, relatively small and disparate as it may be, flocked to Trump and tried to act as his “shock troops” or “commandos” when and where they could. Trump may not be purely fascist in the classical sense, but his style and practice of politics was close enough to excite and mobilize this section of the political fringe. This has not always worked in Trump’s favor politically, but it is not a constituency he has ever been eager to jettison. For instance, he was very careful in his wording around Charlottesville, and about the Proud Boys during the debates, and also pretty gentle about the January 6 rioters even when asking them to go home. Trump clearly views this type of group as important to him politically, and he often speaks of them in menacing terms. He attempted to mobilize this contingent during the January 6 crisis; the tactical results of that in the immediate-term “war of maneuver” were a total failure, but longer-term strategic significance is still yet to be seen. Now, his alliance with such groups may be a political misjudgment on his part, but this proximity should inform the way we think about his politics. It is true that these groups are disparate, small, struggling with police interventions, prosecutions, and internal squabbles, etc. but they nonetheless exist and have some political valence, even if it is largely negative. It was less terror than the electoral reality of Trump’s popularity within the GOP popularity that eventually cemented the Republican leaderships getting in line behind him. It’s true that they occasionally defy him and his followers, but such decisions are politically fraught and require care.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A call to arms for diverse democracies and their ‘decent middle’” [Martin Wolf, Financial Times]. “Mounk argues, rightly, not only that a strong state is essential for a diverse democracy, but also that “it is individuals, not the groups to which they belong, who are the fundamental building blocks of society.” Groups have no comparable legitimacy: the lines they seek to draw around individuals are arbitrary, far from exclusive, and frequently oppressive. The elevation of group rights above those of individuals is a huge mistake.”

UPDATE “The War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy” [Matt Duss, Foreign Affairs]. Picking a paragraph almost at random: “The easiest way out of this mess, of course, would be for Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to end his war. Although it is not the United States’ place to dictate terms to Ukraine….” Oh, really? More: “…. or to stand in the way of any agreement that ends the bloodshed, the Biden administration and its allies should be clearer about what steps Russia needs to take to get relief from sanctions. This should obviously include a sustained and verified cease-fire and the creation of humanitarian corridors, leading to a process of Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory and a return of the thousands of Ukrainian citizens that Russian forces have deported to Russia. In the meantime, while military and humanitarian supplies remain the most urgent need, Washington and its allies can do far more for Ukraine. Among these steps would be forgiving its foreign debt, a measure advocated by a number of Ukrainian officials and a wider coalition of activists.”• Duss was Sanders’ foreign policy advisor. It seems that putting lipstick on the imperial hegemon is the best “the left” can do.

UPDATE “The company men behind Biden’s foreign policy ‘Blob’” [Asia Times]. “A longtime Democratic operative told me the Biden White House works in a way that is eerily similar to the way the Ronald Reagan administration worked during its first term. Back then, a chief executive of questionable sentience relied on a small cast of political operatives to run the day-to-day operations of the White House. During Reagan’s first term, that job fell to what was called ‘the Troika’, which consisted of chief of staff James Baker, counselor to the president Ed Meese and deputy chief of staff Mike Deaver. Nominally, Meese was in charge of policy, and Deaver was the image-maker and liaison with the First Lady. According to The Man Who Ran Washington, a recent biography of Baker, he was ‘in charge of the paper, the schedule, the hiring and firing, the press and legislative affairs offices – in other words, the parts of a White House that really shaped a presidency.’ So, if Reagan’s first term was dominated by the Troika, the White House of Joe Biden, an ardent Catholic, might be said to be dominated by three Cardinals: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, counselor to the president Steve Ricchetti and deputy chief of staff Bruce Reed. Klain, despite a career littered with high-profile failures, including overseeing the 2000 Florida recount for the Gore campaign, has had an unerring ability to make himself in demand…. Klain also has a reputation in Washington for not knowing what he does not know, a perhaps common trait among those who inhabit the top tier of political operatives and publicists who run Washington. Joining Klain at the top of the White House organizational chart is long-time Biden consigliere Steve Ricchetti, a veteran of the DC revolving door, including a controversial stint as a health care industry lobbyist. Ricchetti handles White House relations with Capitol Hill. Such is his pull inside the Oval Office that three of his own children have been appointed to positions inside the administration, including his son J J Richetti, who serves as special assistant in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Treasury. Of the three, Bruce Reed is said to be the in-house policy wonk. No friend of progressive politics, Reed came up through the ranks as a centrist policy adviser to Senator Al Gore in the 1980s then as domestic policy advisor to President Bill Clinton.” • Say what you like about James Baker’s politics, there’s literally nobody of his stature anywhere in Washington today, whether in the Biden Administration or the Trump Adminsitration. (In fact, if Trump could have found and been induced not a fire a Baker, he might be President today.) Well worth a read!

#COVID19

Latest elite superspreading event, the WHCA, a thread:

More on the WHCA:

“Dinner had testing requirement, events did not.” ZOMG, these people. Where is the logic in that?

UPDATE And more on the WHCA: “Blinken Tests Positive for Covid-19, Delays China Policy Speech” [Bloomberg]. “Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive for Covid-19 and will work from home in the coming days, prompting him to postpone a key China policy speech that had been scheduled for Thursday. Blinken, who attended the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, is fully vaccinated and boosted and is experiencing only mild symptoms, according to a statement Wednesday from State Department spokesman Ned Price…. Blinken met with at least one foreign official on Wednesday before testing positive: Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde. Addressing reporters, Price said the State Department has been advising close contacts about the secretary’s diagnosis. On Tuesday, Blinken met with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Japanese National Security Advisor Akiba Takeo.” • Awesome. I think it would be great if Blinken were a supercarrier (recall that “2% of infected individuals carry 90% of the virions circulating within communities“). Maybe he could take down the entire State Department!

Joke, except not:

(Yes, the New York Times Pitchbot is a parody, to the extent parody is possible these days.)

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Lambert here: I am but a humble tape-watcher, but if some trusting, non-realist soul tells you that “Covid is over,” you can tell them that cases are up, transmission is up, test positivity is up, hospitalization is up, rapid riser counties are up, and wastewater is up, too. And this is all from data designed to support the narrative that “Covid is over,” and gamed within an inch of its life. So, if signals like that are flashing red, consider what the real signal must be like. (Note also this is all with BA.2 only, and with what the establishment considers an “immune wall” made from vaccination and prior infection. Since semper aliquid novi Africam adferre, and we’ve let ‘er rip at the airports…. Well, I just hope we get lucky with BA.4 and BA.5. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

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

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Case count by United States regions:

Looks like the train is rolling, now. Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out. Also remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. One source said they though cases might be undercounted by a factor of six. Gottlieb thinks we only pick up one in seven or eight. The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. The blue “Biden Line” shows what the case count would be if it were 61,000 * 6 = 366,000, i.e. not gamed. (I changed the Biden Line from dotted to solid because the dotted line was too hard to draw properly in my crude tool.)

Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

Worth noting that cases have nearly doubled in 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.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

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

MWRA wastewater data:

North is still up; South down.

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

From Biobot Analytics:

Northeast unflattened, and — hat tip to readers for pointing to this — it looks like past aggregation was adjusted up.

Cases lag wastewater data.

NOT UPDATED From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

California slightly worse. Oregon worse. (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.) It would be nice if the falling wastewater measures in California presaged a drop in cases. (OTOH, the Biobot data is only as good as the non-representative sample it uses, so…).

The previous release:

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

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red. Now California is red as well. The Upper Midwest is moving that way, too. (The Unorganized Territories in Maine are back to red, good job.)

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Hospitalization is most definitely up in many places. (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.)

“5th Wave? New York COVID Hospitalizations Top 2,000, Nearly Tripling in a Month” {NBC New York]. “New York COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 2,000 for the first time since late February on Tuesday, rising nearly three-fold in just a month as highly contagious subvariants of omicron trigger pleas for renewed caution from officials locally and nationally. The upward trend continued Wednesday. As of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s latest update, 2,119 New Yorkers were hospitalized with COVID across the state’s 10 regions, a 153% increase since April 3 alone though still well below the nearly 13,000 admitted during the variant’s January surge peak…. No new COVID protocol will be implemented (or reimplemented) at this point in the city, but should the alert level reach high — the highest of the three laid out by health officials — an indoor face mask mandate for all people regardless of vaccination could return.” • And speaking of New York:

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,023,513 1,021,58.Now even the death rate is up. (I can’t get the last data to pop up, but you see the curve.) I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Broadly down. (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased by 19 thousand to 200 thousand in the week ended April 30th, 2022, from a revised 181 thousand in the previous period and above the market estimate of 182 thousand. It is the highest reading since mid-February.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based companies announced plans to cut 24,286 jobs from their payrolls in April of 2022, the most since May last year, and a 14% increase from the 21,387 announced in March. It is the first time this year job cuts were higher than the corresponding month a year earlier. Entertainment/Leisure led all industries with 3,675 job cuts, followed by the Services sector (3,453), Financial companies (2,772) and Retailers (2,213). So far this year, employers announced plans to cut 79,982 job cuts, the lowest recorded January-April total on record.”

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Commodities: “Europe is racing to stock up on oil and natural gas before it imposes tighter sanctions on Russian energy. Liquefied natural gas import terminals took in a record amount of the superchilled fuel for the time of year in April… while oil imports from non-Russian suppliers hit their highest level since the start of the pandemic” [Wall Street Journal]. “The hunt for new supplies is a boon for energy companies and is rapidly reshaping world-wide energy transport networks. BP has sent 55 LNG cargoes into Europe over the past five months in a frenzy of activity for the firm’s gas traders, while the company’s European refineries effectively mint money as the price of fuel they sell outstrips the cost of crude they buy. U.S. LNG supplier Cheniere Energy just raised its 2022 profit forecast by some 17% after record first-quarter exports, with about 75% going to Europe.” • Give war a chance, say I.

Shipping: “The impact of China’s stringent Covid-19 lockdowns is starting to take a toll on businesses. Some U.S. companies are warning that the lockdowns in Shanghai and other cities are denting sales, disrupting operations and putting added strain on supply chains that could be felt well into the summer. … [T]he restrictions could cost Apple up to $8 billion this quarter, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services said the freight carrier’s customers are worried about deliveries scheduled for July” [Wall Street Journal]. “Even if the lockdowns lift soon, the ripple effects may be felt for months as many of the cargo ships currently outside Shanghai start heading to the U.S., where port throughputs are improving after months of congestion. Industrial supplier W.W. Grainger expects the shutdowns to hit supply lines in coming months, and the company has been increasing inventory levels since last year to maintain service|.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 5 at 1:25 PM EDT.

The Gallery

You could call this wallpaper….

… but I would not, because the sense that this is a real place is so precisely given. Not sure how he does it!

Class Warfare

Big money straightens out dug-in managers?

“How the White Overalls Beat the Cops with Tactics of Radical Defense” [Gentleman Bandit]. From 2020, still germane. “You might have heard about The Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) protesting hard in France for the past few years. There was a comparable movement in the late 90s and early 2000s, which focused on radical group tactics of defense in order to successfully stand up to riot police and other forms of crowd control. That is to say that, unlike the Yellow Vests who actively seek out fistfights and other physical battles with the cops; [the “White Overalls” (Tute Bianche) dreamed up an innovative and highly effective set of tactics to protect themselves from harm so that they could go where they wanted (such as smashing through the outer fence at the G8 Summit in Genoa) and stay there…. Put the whole thing together, and it looks something like this. One or more front lines set up with inner tubes and/or shields, front section backed up by mobile skirmishers, with additional shields and large crowds of people who either perform their own specialized roles or just push.” • With many photographs. Interestingly, I don’t recall seeing any of the armoring tactics used in Hong Kong, say. Or in Maidan, which was much more given to medieval style armoring. So in some sense, the White Overalls” lineage was a dead end. So far?

“Union drive in full swing at Amazon warehouse in Montreal” [CBC]. “The Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) says workers reached out to the union federation earlier this year and launched an organizing drive on site last month over health and safety issues as well as salary, which hovers around $17 or $18 per hour. Unionized workers in comparable roles typically make $25 to $30 an hour, it said. If more than 50 per cent of the 250 to 300 employees at the warehouse sign a membership card, the Quebec Labour Relations Commission can certify the union. CSN vice-president David Bergeron-Cyr says workplace health and safety is a key reason behind the push. ‘It’s like a jungle in there, a lot of people are getting injured,’ he said in a phone interview. ‘Most of them are first-generation immigrants and they don’t know their rights and don’t speak French. They don’t go to the CNESST — our health and safety commission — to get paid.’ Some employees are expected to lift up to 400 boxes an hour, resulting in unreported injuries and lack of compensation for time in recovery, Bergeron-Cyr said.”

“‘Add Personal Story Here’: Starbucks Anti-Union One-on-Ones Fall Flat” [Labor Notes]. “Starbucks corporate decided to skip to the next tactic in its playbook: “one-on-one” meetings between one barista and a manager—or multiple managers. The idea seemed to be that separating us would break our solidarity and make it easier to lie to us. But once again they found Hopewell baristas ready to see through their lies, push back, and support each other. For our first round of one-on-ones, these meetings were framed as ‘reviewing our benefits.’ Basically, they intended to tell us how great our benefits are—and that they could take them away. They want us to think we stand to lose all these ‘incredible’ benefits if we unionize. We know we wouldn’t actually, but they genuinely think we’re dumb enough to fall for thinly veiled threats. … During my own one-on-one, our manager began by saying she couldn’t find the paper she had her written questions on. Throughout the meeting she mentioned this repeatedly, and kept pausing to think. It was such odd behavior I had to assume it was some tactic the union-busting experts had taught her. What else could it be? I was wrong. I later found out that she actually had lost her questions, because she’d accidentally handed the sheet corporate had given her to the barista in the meeting before mine. This sheet had detailed guidelines on how to run a one-on-one, automating heartwarming moments through directions like, ‘Add a personal story here,’ ‘Share your favorite Starbucks memory,’ and ‘Help barista set up a benefit they showed interest in.'” • ”It was such odd behavior I had to assume it was some tactic….”

“The Librarians Are Not Okay” [Culture Study]. “The other day, I was asking people on Instagram to tell me about just how much their jobs had expanded over the last few years — how many jobs each of them was expected to do, even though they’re just one person who also, in most cases, also has significant caregiving duties. And maybe it’s because of who my followers are, but as with any time I talk about systemic problems with burnout, and exploitation, and overloaded jobs, I heard from a lot of librarians — people who really have absorbed responsibilities that were previously the work of three FTEs, if not more, and how they’re expected to just….have a better attitude about it? And when I reposted one of these stories in my feed, I put in the caption: THE LIBRARIANS ARE NOT OKAY. And it’s true, isn’t it? The nurses are also not okay, the high school teachers are not okay, the graduate students are not okay, the adjuncts are not okay, the social workers are not okay….and the librarians, you are not okay. You’re not okay because you’re undervalued. You’re not okay because you’re drowning in student loan debt. You’re not okay because there’s way too many applicants to too few jobs. You’re not okay because you’re trying to furiously tread water. You’re not okay because like all of those other professions that aren’t okay, you’re nominally essential — the most valuable parts of our society, the vaunted upholders of democracy! — but often treated as societally worthless. And that’s not okay, and I’m here to say it’s not okay, and if you feel so hopelessly bitter and resentful and lost, it’s also okay for you to say: I can’t do this anymore. That’s something you don’t hear very often in a professional development talk, but I think it’s essential to acknowledge what often goes unsaid: when it feels like the job is sucking all that is good from you, it is okay to save yourself. With that said, though, I don’t think that we’re past the point of despair. You are located at the intersection of structural and systemic failures, but there are still strategies that you can implement — as individuals, as teams, as organizations — that can make the profession more resilient, less fragile, and most importantly, more sustainable.” • How about class warfare?

News of the Wired

“CADR: Tests, interpretation and sizing” (Google Doc) [Fluid Mechanics Group / LIFTEC] (currently, Joint Center of Univ. Zaragoza and CSIC, Spain). “CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) is related to total flow rate and filter efficiency: CADR=(Air flow rate)x(Filter efficiency). So, a possible method to evaluate CADR of a portable air filter (also of filtered air in HVAC systems) consists in measuring the air flow rate through the filter and applying a correction to account for actual filtration efficiency.” • With many many tests and recommendations.

“Mechanical Watch” [Bartosz Ciechanowski]. “Mechanical watches are not as accurate as digital ones. They require maintenance and are more fragile. Despite all these drawbacks, these devices show a true mastery of engineering. With creative use of miniature gears, levers, and springs, a mechanical watch rises from its dormant components to become truly alive.” • Wonderful interactive animations!

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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. From TH:

TH writes: “This lovely patio area with the living wall backdrop is at the South Coast Botanic Garden in Ranch Palos Verdes, California.” I like this “living wall” idea a lot, and it might be something to try, on a smaller scale, in your own garden.

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NOTE ON PAYPAL: As some readers may know, PayPal whacked Consortium News’s account, for no justification that I can see. It’s to be hoped that Consortium News has its account completely restored, and that NC doesn’t come under the same ban hammer. In the meantime, until I/we can come up with an alternative, I must continue to rely on PayPal (and rely I do). I will be cleaning out the account daily, and PayPal does give a heads-up, so your risk is minimal. Please carry on as before, or, if you feel you must, write me and I will send you directions for sending a check. Please put “PayPal” in the subject line. Thank you for your support! It is much appreciated, and helps me with responsibilities. –lambert

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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.

112 comments

    1. Ranger Rick

      Pray tell, how did making war economically painful to contemplate work out for Ukraine vis a vis Russia?

      Reply
    2. Mikel

      Wars will happen coupled or decoupled.
      The big ones have everything to do with the establishments of countries clinging to legitimacy.

      Reply
  1. Dave

    “Sounds to me like if we didn’t have President Manchin, we’d have President Cisneros. Pelosi and Schumer have really engineered defense in depth!” — Do you mean to say Cuellar? Confused here.

    Reply
    1. Glen

      The sick joke is that the Senate has already waived the filibuster at least once to raise the debt ceiling. The reason they don’t do it now is because they think this will help for the mid-term elections? They fund raise off it? They don’t care? Who knows.

      I don’t think any of that works anymore. It certainly didn’t work for Obama. The Democratic party got destroyed. I suspect the same will happen again.

      Reply
    1. Old Jake

      Perhaps, and one hopes, this column will be passed to the Reverend to advance his education on this point. He has done a lot of good, perhaps he has not spent time educating himself in this area. Certainly it takes time, effort, and some expenditure of mental work to disentangle oneself from the deafening roar of propaganda being loosed on us, though perhaps that in itself should be a clue.

      Note (aside) that this Poor People’s Campaign is not the same as the local Philadelphia-based Poor People’s Human Rights movement lead in part by Cheri Honkala. Or at least I believe it’s not, I’ve never seen Cheri publish anything that would indicate it is related in other than goals. Common goals, similar names, but Cheri does not make it her vocation, it’s not her source of income.

      Reply
  2. Mikel

    A former student got sick enough with covid last week that the family had to call an ambulance.

    The EMTs went in with no masks. One parent shouted to get masks on, that their child was covid+.

    The EMTs didn’t have any masks with them. At all.

    — Sarah Allen (@Mssarahmssarah) May 1, 2022

    So hospitalizations and death go hand in hand more than Covid and death?

    Reply
  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    Mechanical Watch….

    If you’re interested in mechanical watches I highly recommend Red Dead Restoration on Youtube. It’s just restoration of vintage watches, no talking, no music just the work (ASMR as the kids say).

    https://youtu.be/sQqjY6E-iaE

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ASMR as the kids say)

      This????

      Autonomous sensory meridian response

      Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, content is defined by online resource center ASMR University as something that evokes “light and pleasurable tingles, sparkles, fuzziness or waves of relaxation in the head, neck, spine and throughout the rest of the body.” …

      Reply
      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        Apparently yes. It is now an entire Youtube sub-genre.

        *Edit* You know, If you had told me 30 years ago that video of people doing tool restoration, watch restoration, rebuilding a Ducati, cooking etc all with no talking, no music just the ambient sounds of them working on whatever they were working on would not only be watchable but actually compelling I think I would have laughed

        Reply
        1. LaRuse

          Before I quit watching television several years ago, one of the only “go to” shows I would watch was “How It’s Made” on Discovery or something like that.
          No more television these days, but I like the aesthetics of InstaFaceBook. Somewhere along the way, because I am a rabid knitter, I started watching videos of dyers dying their yarns and roving. It was fascinating. I then started watching sheep being sheared. It was so interesting. Now it is embroidery videos. All without sound. All less than 2 minutes. And I love them.
          And my daughter recently asked me “So how is all that ASMR working out for you?”
          I had no idea what she was talking about but evidently I am an ASMR fanatic without even realizing it.

          Reply
          1. Toshiro_Mifune

            I am an ASMR fanatic without even realizing it

            Same here. About 2 years ago i noticed the aesthetic showing up more and more so I had to google what it was. It is awesome stuff for a lazy Sunday afternoon of folding laundry.

            Reply
        2. Dr. John Carpenter

          I admit to watching repair videos of vintage CRT televisions on YouTube but the gentleman is explaining everything as he goes along. I feel I’m learning some things about electronics at least and I’m really into the idea that there are people out there saving these otherwise obsolete tvs from the landfill. (And yeah, apparently there are people who’d rather use a set from the 60s than a new flat screen. Who knew?)

          Reply
          1. LifelongLib

            A relative of mine is a violinist. A while ago he was in a performance where the orchestra had to be split in two, playing together but at different locations. They initially tried to coordinate the playing with large flat-screen monitors but found it didn’t work, there was too much lag. They ended up using smaller CRT monitors somebody found.

            Reply
    2. wuzzy

      My digital bicycle computer loses 1/2 second/day.

      A long missing and missed $10 Timex lost about 1 sec/yr.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        Of course, someone took the time to adjust the watch. Tuning fork crystals are generally specified for ±10ppm or ±20ppm tolerance and digital watches rarely include any adjustments. In that case, -5ppm isn’t bad.

        Reply
  4. Cfraenkel

    That mechanical watch page is amazing. It is even more an example of what the web could (should?) be than it is an explainer about watches. (and a brilliant showcase of software craftsmanship – who says software isn’t art)

    The hacker news thread Mechanical Watch (ciechanow.ski) is informative if you want a view into the software community’s reaction / opinions.

    (best part for me: adding the kinematics of the spring tension, so the slider didn’t just annimate the spring extending and contracting, it behaves like a real spring when you ‘let go’)

    Reply
    1. Josef K

      My favorite description of a watch movement is “the controlled unwinding of a spring.” In sum, that’s what it is. And what a simplex operation that is: the spring’s force to power the movement declines minutely and continuously as it unwinds, and the rest of the movement compensates, as it were, for that incremental decline in force in order to keep the time-keeping regular. It’s an amazing mechanical operation.
      The minaturization of these movements proceeded apace into the mid-20C, so that watches became ever smaller. A 25mm +/- movement in a 36mm case, as thin as 10mm, with Gerard-Perregaux and other makers producing extremely thin movements measuring only a couple of mm thick. It reminds one of the possibly apocryphal story of US engineers in the 1920s extruding an extremely thin wire, sending it to Swiss colleagues to brag of their achievement, and having it returned from Switzerland with a hole drilled through it.
      As our civilisation in general and in particular our aesthetics and taste have declined in recent decades, watches have grown gargantuan in size, also I suppose since there’s no impetus to showcase the petiteness of the movements, most being quartz.
      I had a fascination with mechanical watches for about 15 years; after purchasing, servicing, constantly resetting and being concerned about the timekeeping of many of them, I went back to quartz. From mesmerizing sweeping second hands back to tick, tick, tick–sometimes the second hand even lands right on the marker. But I always know what time it is. And no glance at a smartphone retrieve from one’s pocket will ever replace flicking your wrist and knowing the time.

      Reply
    2. Josef K

      My favorite description of a watch movement is “the controlled unwinding of a spring.” In sum, that’s what it is. And what a simplex operation that is: the spring’s force to power the movement declines minutely and continuously as it unwinds, and the rest of the movement compensates, as it were, for that incremental decline in force in order to keep the time-keeping regular. It’s an amazing mechanical operation.

      Reply
  5. flora

    Student college debt is simple, unless you’re protecting a racket. Just make student college/education debt dischargeable in bankruptcy. No complicated gyrations to politically separate the deserving from the undeserving. Just make it dischargable through bankruptcy proceedings. The legal bk machinery is already set up with guidelines and works for every other kinds of over-indebtedness, including medical debt. Why are the Dems trying to set up a crazy new Rube Goldberg process for student loan debt? (rhetorical question) (How many homeowners lost their houses to fraudulent foreclosures after trying to do O’s HAMP mortgage mod program during the GFC?)

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Agreed. Best piece I’ve read on the college debt issue and how the media/politics addresses it is this three part essay by The Last Psychiatrist called “Hipsters on Food Stamps” from 2012. It thoroughly addresses the issue from a messaging and psychological perspective (with some crass humor thrown in) in a way that only becomes more clarifying and relevant over time.

      “College is a waste, but we haven’t yet hit that point in society where we can bypass it. So we have to pass through another generation of massive college debt. How to pull the suckers in? Answer: these articles. By getting you to say, “these hipsters should be able to get jobs because they are college graduates!” you are saying, “college is worth something.” It isn’t. But by directing your hate towards hipsters, you are protecting the system against change.”

      Part 1: https://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/11/hipsters_on_food_stamps.html

      Part 2: https://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/11/hipsters_on_food_stamps_part_2.html

      Part 3: https://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/12/product_review_panasonic_pt_ax.html

      Reply
    2. Josef K

      Student loans are the ultimate disgrace: dangle an 18-20 y.o.’s future dreams before them with one hand, a pen to sign them into penury with the other. It’s financial entrapment of the worst sort. That’s exactly why the system will be defended by the oppressor class, of which J Biden is a long-serving central cast member, to its last breath. If the most greatest of all financial scams is allowed to fail, to reveal itself for what it is, all the others may topple as well. That can not be allowed to happen.

      Reply
      1. newcatty

        Reminds me of indentured servitude. You will get to the new world by selling your self worth to your masters. It is servitude for, as an example, seven years. Your dreams of a better life are dangled in your young face, as you sign away future earnings that ensure achieving a decent life. American values exemplified.

        Reply
        1. Jason Boxman

          Indeed, the latest tactic before the pandemic, brought to you by Wall Street, was to actually sign an indentured servitude contract. You’d then pay back some portion of income over time. Of course, there’s no opportunity for early repayment or refinancing here. So it’s worse than a loan, if that’s possible.

          A woman I met at a networking event was shilling for this back in 2017 in Boston, as I recall; It was a kind of pilot or early stage startup at that time, but I forget the details it was so enraging. I tried to be polite, but wanted to ask why she was such an enthusiastic support of indentured servitude.

          When my parents were in CA ages ago, my father actually took a semester in college there completely free, back when the CA system was actually free as public education ought to be. Hard to believe this was ever even true.

          Reply
    3. bob

      Student loan forgiveness is a grift, like immigration. We give a one-time amnesty. What about people who graduate and accumulate debt after…too bad or once again to the well. Better to cut tuition costs from $ 660+ a credit to $30 a credit. Let the chips fall.

      Reply
      1. marym

        We can all think of ways to benefit more people, or distribute benefits more equitably, or solve problems in more fundamental ways. Many people who support debt cancellation would also support other forms of debt relief, tuition-free public colleges, universal healthcare, etc. We need to find ways to make that happen. Can voting still accomplish anything? Public protests to make demands of elected officials, candidates, businesses? Building a movement outside the electoral process?

        Meanwhile, student debt cancellation appears to be something the president can do on his own. It would help millions of people. He said he would do it. There’s no reason for him not to.

        Reply
        1. Big River Bandido

          Biden’s donors have given him millions of reasons to do nothing but talk on this issue.

          The only campaign promise he will fulfill: nothing will fundamentally change.

          Reply
      2. Big River Bandido

        Student debt is the largest driver of debt in this country and should be wiped out. The economic benefits would be much more widely distributed than to just those people whose debts are forgiven. Moreover, its the political benefit that would accrue to politicians with the balls to actually provide concrete material benefits.

        If a politician can do that for one group of debtors, the next step would be cancelling all medical debt in the country. Of course, that would probably require legislation, not just an executive order. But both of these steps would have positive outcomes for millions of people.

        Reply
  6. Hepativore

    I heard that after the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, they might also be targeting gay marriage and other issues next. If they do get rid of gay marriage, how would that work? Would it be retroactive in that the homosexual married couples could then find their marriages dissolved after such a decision? That would be a huge headache when it comes to property rights, tax filings, child custody, etc. Or, would the people who are currently in homosexual marriages be “grandfathered in” and it would only apply to further such marriages in the future? What would be the most likely outcome?

    Also, in the wake of unionization efforts at places like Starbuck’s and Amazon, would this also prompt the Supreme Court to try and overturn the right to joining a union?

    I see Biden is already making excuses for why he will not get rid of the filibuster in order to codify abortion rights into law like he and several other Democratic presidents have promised for decades, and Hillary’s 2016 VP pick, Tim Kaine has always been a staunch antiabortionist and he was decided on for Hillary’s presidential campaign years in advance.

    If the Republicans are the Baatezu (devils, lawful evil) from the Dungeons and Dragons mythos, the Democratic Party seem to be the Yugoloths…neutral evil fiends who are slimy, narcissistic, opportunists who cannot be trusted to do anything.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If the Republicans are the Baatezu (devils, lawful evil) from the Dungeons and Dragons mythos, the Democratic Party seem to be the Yugoloths…neutral evil fiends who are slimy, narcissistic, opportunists who cannot be trusted to do anything.

      Do other D&D players have a view on this?

      Reply
      1. Ranger Rick

        The shortest summary I can give without a very long explanation: two different kinds of demons who fight over who rules in Hell. In some contexts they can rule temporally as well; as it turns out, evil is perfectly capable of enlightened self-interest.

        Reply
    2. Safety First

      My understanding is that there would be some shenanigans around the marriage license issued within a particular jurisdiction. Perhaps the post-Supreme Court laws passed in anti-gay marriage states would retroactively invalidate any such license issued in those same states…

      …but this runs into a different problem. According to the Full Faith & Credit clause, a marriage license issued in any one state must (should, ought) be recognised by every other state. So in principle simply passing a law forbidding gay marriage (and retroactively cancelling any such licenses issued) in State A means that these selfsame couples will just get a marriage license from State B, and I can see some enterprising politician setting up an online marriage license mill already.

      So basically I don’t think we are looking at just gay marriage. I am guessing these people will go all the way to bringing back anti-sodomy laws (or whatever version thereof applies to lesbians), i.e. ban homosexuality itself, not just the marriage bit. Which would incidentally make getting a gay marriage license from another state (admitting your homosexuality) liable to get you put in prison for violation of said bans.

      Reply
    3. Fraibert

      The Supreme Court likely will not overturn _Obergefell v. Hodges_ (the gay marriage decision) in part because of the mess of reliance issues you raise but also because, despite being kind of iffy in legal doctrine, the decision itself is significantly more grounded in prior precedents (e.g., _Loving v. Virginia_ relating to the right to marriage in general). Moreover, a significant number of states by the time of _Obergefell_ permitted gay marriage anyways, so the decision lacks a decisive sense of “legislating from the bench.”

      In contrast, _Roe_, from a legal doctrinal perspective, is just a disaster–and its successor, _Casey v. Planned Parenthood_, is no better. The lack of clear social consensus in the many decades following _Roe_ also makes the entire set of decisions feel like legislation by judges. _Roe_ itself has been called a “superprecedent” by some commentators and in fact it has been so powerful that it distorts the law in other areas. For example, even though content-based regulations of speech (i.e., regulation of speech based on the topic of discussion or opinions contained within) are virtually always unconstitutional under the First Amendment, the Court in _Hill v. Colorado_ upheld a regulation of certain speech acts around health care facilities as a neutral speech regulation even though all parties involved knew the regulation was targeted at anti-abortion/pro-life protestors due to their views.

      The Court likely will carve out some religious exemptions in cases along the lines of _
      Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission_, where a government agency was seeking to sanction a private business for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. (The Court dodged having to deal with this kind of exemption because the Colorado agency in that case was found to be so biased against the business owner’s religious beliefs that the agency had violated the Due Process Clause…which is an impressively bad achievement given how hard the courts generally try to find sufficient procedural regularity.)

      Labor law, on the other hand, the right to join a union is a statutory (i.e., legislative) right. The Court can, within the realm of linguistic plausibility, play with the scope off rights provided under the labor statutes (e.g., the National Labor Relations Act as amended), but generally speaking, the Court’s approach to statutory interpretation is quite textual these days so the outcomes of particular cases is fairly anchored to the words in the statute books.

      The textual approach sometimes can have unexpected consequences–in _Bostock v. Clayton County_, a six Justice majority, including Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch relied upon this approach in finding that Title VII of Civil RIghts Act’s prohibition of discrimination based on “sex” included discrimination against gay or transgender employees.

      Anyways, that’s probably enough law silliness for now, but hopefully is informative.

      Reply
      1. Jason Boxman

        Thanks for this!

        What’s shocking to me is that, given the particulars of the Roe decision at the time, that no one in 50 years seemed to move the ball forward with regards to actually enshrining this in law. It’s hard to believe liberal Democrats and women’s rights activists couldn’t read and evaluate the quality of the legal reasoning in Roe and perhaps come up with some strategy or endgame; The right certainly did!

        Reply
        1. Fraibert

          Generally speaking, my view is the elites on the “left” (in broad terms, not only Democrats but citizens of varying political beliefs that generally get categorized as liberal, leftist, socialist, etc.) derived the wrong lesson from legal efforts of the Civil Rights Era. To put it bluntly, the “left” determined that Justice Brennan’s infamous “rule of five” was a permissible tool to achieve political ends that would not be possible through democratic processes (voting and legislation). Hence, since the 1950s, the “left” began an ever-increasing onslaught of “public interest” or “impact” litigation. (Decades later, the other side started to do the same–see, just as one example organization, the Pacific Legal Foundation.)

          However, the Civil Rights Era posed a unique set of circumstances because the political process was broken. In the later massively influential Footnote 4 of a New Deal era Commerce Clause case, _United States v. Carolene Products Co,_, the Court had observed “prejudice against discrete and insular minorities may be a special condition, which tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities, and which may call for a correspondingly more searching judicial inquiry.” That basic idea justified special judicial action in the case of Jim Crow.

          But, the elite “left” became addicted to the convenience of the judicial system. Even better, the Supreme Court was the court of final appeal and victory there meant the imposition of one rule throughout the country. Hence, victory in _Roe_ was a complete victory and that’s all that mattered to the advocates.

          I think in the process of embracing “legislation by judiciary” the elite “left” figured they could hold on to _Roe_ and subsequently _Casey_ simply by controlling appointments to their preferred legislature (the Supreme Court). In the meantime, they didn’t want to have to fight real legislative battles for abortion rules because that would draw political attention and entail much more difficult political fights that required wrangling the dreaded hoi polloi.

          Reply
  7. WJ

    If I am not mistaken, most people in America believe that abortion should be legal within the first trimester, and should be subject to further restrictions subsequent to that point.

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/235469/trimesters-key-abortion-views.aspx

    I believe that this view more or less corresponds with the actual laws regulating abortion in at least many Western European “peer” countries.

    The view represents a political compromise between those who believe abortion should be always or almost always legal, and those who believe that abortion should be illegal.

    I would like to think that Congress might pass a federal bill that amounts to something like the compromise position limned above, but of course that will never happen.

    Reply
    1. Geo

      Many states already have these limitations in place. The problem with compromise at the federal level is the ones who are against all abortion are the most vociferous voices in this push back and almost all doing so due to religious indoctrination. How do you compromise with ones who feel compromise leads to eternal damnation?

      Example: The FBI negotiator during the Waco standoff (I forget his name) talks about this in his many post-fubar interviews: How he was negotiating for compromise like he was discussing the issue with rational thinkers but upon reflection he wishes he had approached it differently and instead had theological negotiators there to talk “Bible babble” with Koresh and the others. They thought the FBI/ATF were the army of Babylon and surrendering to them was surrendering their eternal soul to evil (I don’t disagree entirely with this view of these agencies!) so compromise on rational terms was never going to happen.

      Ideally, this should be a separation of church and state issue but that wall crumbled long ago so I’m don’t know how to proceed. Just don’t see rational compromise being an option. Maybe a religious freedom case brought about by those with faiths support abortion?

      Reply
      1. Geo

        New bill just announced reinforces my point on “compromise” not being possible with the anti-choice crowd:

        Louisiana Moves to Charge Women Who Get Abortions With Murder
        “We can’t wait on the Supreme Court,” said Republican Rep. Danny McCormick, who co-authored the legislation with a Baptist reverend
        https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/louisiana-bill-abortion-homicide-1347890/

        House Bill 813 would make it a homicide “from the moment of fertilization.”

        Reply
        1. Geo

          More:

          “No compromises; no more waiting,” Rev. Brian Gunter, the bill’s clerical co-author.

          The bill also holds that “any and all federal statutes, regulations, treaties, orders, and court rulings which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life or prohibit the equal protection of such right” would be treated as void. It later notes that the bill would be enforced “without regard to the opinions and judgments of the Supreme Court of the United States in Roe v. Wade and its judicial progeny, past and future.”

          H.B. 813, which passed through committee by a 7-2 vote, will now move to the House floor for debate.

          Reply
          1. Polar Socialist

            Can’t somebody add there a similar right to life and health for born children, too. Provided by the the state to each until adulthood.

            Protecting the little ones from fertilization to maturity should be a no-brainer once you start on that road. Not just a right to life, but a right to a good life, with good child care, good education, good hobbies, good health care and good environment regardless of the parents socioeconomic status. Right?

            Reply
            1. eg

              Surely you jest — the very purpose of ensuring that they get born in the first place is in order to have them available for exploitation.

              Reply
            2. tegnost

              Can’t somebody add there a similar right to life and health for born children, too.
              well now you’re talking about he labor force so there’s different rules…

              Reply
          2. John

            So Louisiana would ignore the Supremacy clause in the Constitution. That’s nullification. It failed in 1832, 1861-65, and where attempted during the Civil Rights movement of 1950s and 1960s, but it seems times have changed.

            This court more and more calls to mind the Taney Court and Dred Scott v. Sandford. Are Alito et al in this for the long haul or are they one shot wonders?

            Reply
            1. tegnost

              My “long bond” of the supremes was always that the constitution is a liberal document so it naturally (ok, that’s kind of a giveaway for dreamlike thinking) inspires liberalism in it’s judgement. Shorter, it makes conservatives more liberal. Marshall and Brandeis were a result of interpretation rather than ideologically preconceived notion which I blame the powell memo and it’s goal seeking for…but IANAL

              Reply
        2. The Rev Kev

          House Bill 813 would make it a homicide “from the moment of fertilization.”

          I guess that that would criminalize the sale of morning-after pills. Maybe they could reconstitute the underground railway but this time for women to get out of States like Louisiana to States where they can get an abortion. I guess too that like a South American country did not long ago, have a law to charge a women with murder if she has a miscarriage on the assumption that she did it on purpose.

          Reply
          1. Geo

            Need to propose the Monty Python Act which protects the right to life for every sperm produced in a man’s testies. Each sperm must be made to fertilize an egg and that fertilized egg must be brought to full development and birthed. Any sperm that is wasted is murder of a child.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Well since there are about 100 million sperm in an ejaculation, three shots gives you the population of the United States. Most guys can do that before breakfast. :)

              Reply
          2. marym

            Contraception
            “[The Louisiana law is] extremely explicit in expanding the definition of “abortion” to include IUDs and other post-fertilization birth control. Words crossed out are “deletions from existing law.” [screen shot of the wording]”
            https://twitter.com/thegarance/status/1522203478369710080

            I’ve seen commentary today that this applies to IVF and ectopic pregnancies; and similar commentary about a MO law already on the books that will take effect if Roe is overturned. A number of states have such “trigger” laws in place,
            https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2021/10/26-states-are-certain-or-likely-ban-abortion-without-roe-heres-which-ones-and-why

            Travel
            “Abortion-Travel Bans Are `Next Frontier’ With Roe Set to Topple

            Using the same model Texas used in an abortion law known as S.B. 8, Missouri state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R) introduced a proposal in December to allow private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or helps a pregnant person obtain one, even if the procedure takes place outside Missouri…Coleman’s proposal didn’t get a vote in the House this year, but that doesn’t mean lawmakers in Missouri and in other Republican-led states won’t consider it in the future.”
            https://news.bloomberglaw.com/health-law-and-business/abortion-travel-bans-emerge-as-next-frontier-after-roes-end

            Reply
      2. Objective Ace

        >How do you compromise with ones who feel compromise leads to eternal damnation

        Eternal damnation for whom? The congressional critters who enacted the law? The citizens who elected those congress critters? The citizens who sat at home and didnt vote for anyone? Unlike your Waco example the people who are negotiating arent the ones faced with eternal damnation for their actions. As far as negotiations goes–isnt it better to save some lives then none at all?

        Reply
        1. Geo

          Good questions. The problem is you are using rationality to question theology. Good luck with that. There’s so many variants to theologies and interpretations and personal beliefs that there’s no rational way to answer your questions.

          Even the Bible – the book that is the supposed basis for this issue since apparently in America no other religions matter – there is no clear answer to any of this. Numerous times in the Old Testament infanticide is celebrated and encouraged but in other places it’s frowned upon. As for whose soul is endangered? Depends on how God would judge the situation. Is a person who knows a sin is being committed and doesn’t use their power to stop it guilty? Who knows? No one knows how this God might decide though all too many believe they know.

          TL;DR: There is no rationalizing with religious ideals. It is faith which is irrational by its nature. This is why it should not be considered in law or governance but should always be separate.

          https://twitter.com/jim_jordan/status/1522236066513760257?s=21&t=cPqMVNqKrwES2j4kaG81qA

          Reply
          1. Fraibert

            In the past, I was impressed with that basic notion that “faith . . . should not be considered in law or governance . . . .” However, after long further consideration, I no longer agree with that position, though I still struggle with articulating how I see things now. I’ll try to outline it a bit here.

            Whether explicitly religious or not, I think modern western perspectives generally assume each human being has unique value. This broad assumption commonly appears in the invocation of “rights” (“human rights”, “natural rights”, “inalienable rights”, “rights of man”, etc.). But, as there’s no grounded reason to accept the special dignity of man, this broadly held belief in innate human value is a faith-based belief.

            (It’s also true that some utilitarians have more functional views of human beings, but I don’t think these are the common views.)

            Accepting that the entirely notion of the dignity of man is faith-based (a “religious ideal”), then law and governance are entirely tied up in this apparent “irrationality.” Are the proponents of a “right to healthcare,” for example, really just saying “it’d be better for the citizenry’s welfare and minimize suffering if the government paid for everyone’s general health needs” (i.e., a purely utilitarian view)? Although there’s undoubtedly utilitarian arguments to be made, I think there’s also (sometimes less acknowledged) moral notions that government/society should affirmatively encourage individual human flourishing–which in turn assumes that individuals have value.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              Everybody has faith in one thing or another. It is when a group that has faith in something decides that ALL must comply with their faith that the problems begin. So fundamentalist believe in the sanctity in unborn life so anti-abortion laws must extend not only through the entire country but the world. Those that have uncritical faith in government believe that it is right for the government to censor dissenting views.Those that have faith in a political party believe that the entire country must believe their party’s statements (‘The Democrats stole the 2020 election’ vs ‘the Russians stole the 2016 from Hillary and gave it to Trump’). Interestingly, such ‘faith’ groups seek to lesson the value of the people that they oppose and denigrate them rather than convince them e.g. the ‘basket of deplorables’ quote. So in short, either all people must have value and are entitled to their faiths or else you accept that some groups are better than others and not only have more value but that their faiths must become generalized to all.

              Reply
            2. marym

              And the converse: There may be religious arguments to be made, but there can also be secular notions (racial or gender hierarchies, authoritarian governance) which assume that some individuals have more value than others.

              Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      Wow. This is a huge deal. Doctors have long been the most elite of professionals, and extremely resistant to this kind of organizing. Perhaps medicine has finally reached a tipping point.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        It’s residents and fellows (trainees), but here’s hoping they keep fighting the good fight when they finish their residencies.

        These people make a pittance and as part of their “training” cannot be asked to work more than 80 hours per week. And, the government supports part of the cost of their stipends, and training through medicare. So hospitals love residents. About 20 years ago the ACGME, which is the accrediting body for post-MD training programs, imposed limits on duty hours. This lead to much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in the health care industry because hospitals would have to staff their inpatient units not with residents who made, at the time, something like 45-50K, but physicians who made 3 or 4 times that amount. The ACGME reversed those duty hour limits a few years ago.

        UVM residents and fellows also recently unionized.

        Reply
  8. MikeW_CA

    I’d love to see some data on the last time bringing down the deficit eased inflationary pressures.

    Reply
    1. Lou Anton

      Well, we did it in late 99 and early 2000 and a recession came on pretty quickly. So, that is a way to ease inflationary pressure, and that does seem to be the plan (or maybe we get a “soft landing” whatever that means).

      Reply
  9. LaRuse

    COVID Death Rate Jump – I wanted to dig into how we had such a major leap upwards, and I tracked the Our World In Data link back to my daily check in with JohnsHopkins counter, and when you narrow the view to New Deaths per Day, sort by 50 states, and shorten the time view to the last 4 weeks, it gets really easy to see that North Carolina had some kind of data dump in the last 24 hours. They logged nearly 1200 deaths in yesterday.
    This link *should* get you there to see it.

    Reply
  10. fresno dan

    “What Is Trumpism?” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front].
    Often the Republican leadership makes little tentative steps to come out from behind Trump’s shadow only to find he still has too much power to openly defy. I said at the beginning of Trump’s presidency that Trump was a constituency without a program for a program without a constituency. The Ryan-era G.O.P. program of cutting entitlements had essentially no constituency.
    ….
    The great majority of establishment conservatives who were alarmed and repelled by Trump’s rough manner and disregard for “norms” are almost totally clueless about a basic fact: Our norms are now hopelessly corrupt and need to be destroyed. It has been like this for a while—and the MAGA voters knew it, while most of the policy wonks and magazine scribblers did not… and still don’t. In almost every case, the political practices, institutions, and even rhetoric governing the United States have become hostile to both liberty and virtue. On top of that, the mainline churches, universities, popular culture, and the corporate world are rotten to the core. What exactly are we trying to conserve?
    ……
    The only available “Caesar” in the latest American case might be too lazy or too much of an idiot. But I think a fair assessment has to acknowledge Trump’s serious weaknesses, but also recognize his staying power and continued political relevance, even after taking some quite desperate gambles.
    =============================================
    I think the problem with the article is in trying to give some substance (albeit evil substance) to a lazy, narrcisscist who is just a republican who says the quite parts out loud. Was Trump not a true republican because Trump was a pawn of Putin, or as many articles at NC asserted (see Caitlyn Johnstone)
    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/11/19/25-times-trump-has-been-dangerously-hawkish-on-russia/
    the Trump administration was IN FACT very tough on Russia, and therefore Trump was a typical republican anti Russian? If so, Trump is just a standard republican (anti Russia, tax cuts, anti abortion). Now, if one wants to argue that republicans are fascists….

    Reply
  11. Big River Bandido

    are: WH stenographer’s dinner

    Until the news items about Blinken came out, I’d seen no media reports that actually named people. In contrast, the WSWS actually engages in journalism, naming several people including Wolf Blitzer and Judy Woodruff.

    Such a damn shame, ha ha. Normally I would think it wrong to wish for a 100% infection rate and high casualties. But a major culling of the political class would serve a higher good.

    And re: Biden v. Harris on student loans. I think we all
    understand that this is just propaganda and there’s not a scintilla of daylight between Biden and Harris donors on this question. They are content to let those two clowns say whatever they want between now and November, as if it would actually make any difference.

    The dogs won’t eat this crap.

    Reply
  12. Steve B

    Re: Class power of Professional Managerial Class (PMC)
    Lambert says: ‘The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC’. Okay, I can buy that. I think Bourdieu would be at least as interested in the cultural expression of the class power of PMC.

    At the institutional level, PMC cultural capital probably translates into a) being able to tell plausible motivational stories about pink-haired bureaucrats ‘doing well by doing good’ etc etc and b) being able to indicate belief in the bullshit. Performativity all round, in other words. What happens, though, when the stories are no longer plausible? Lots of insights in this admittedly pro-Trump essay (whose Laschian sociology feels quite close to Thomas Frank’s The Conquest of Cool):
    https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2020/05/losing-the-narrative-the-genre-fiction-of-the-professional-class/

    When I type ‘the cultural expression of the class power of PMC is…’ into my autocomplete software, I get in response a choice between ‘the old bourgeoisie’ and ‘the white minority’. Either way, it feels like the PMC’s days are numbered.

    Reply
    1. Acacia

      Thanks for that link. Very interesting argument, with many quotable passages.

      It’s from 2020, but I wonder if Lambert would consider it for an upcoming water cooler.

      Reply
    2. skippy

      Before and post Toynbee it was understood amongst those, without an ax to grind, that historically that civilization was built on the 3 pillars of State, Administration/Soldiers, and everyone else.

      PMC is just a new/neo term for those that facilitate the the state agenda against anyone not in the right class distinction.

      Reply
  13. lyman alpha blob

    Is our political machine designed to turn itself off, or is it designed to spin around in circles and accomplish absolutely nothing? I see your useless box and raise you one bulls**t grinder!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Y7TEAK4ao

    My dad is quite an accomplished woodworker and made one of these when I was a kid.

    Reply
  14. Acacia

    So, all the talk of Azov Nazis sort of short-circuited a recent binge series of island horror adventure movies and I stumbled onto this:

    Shock Waves (1977) Trailer [2:52]

    Actually a decent B-movie outing. It’s got Peter Cushing as an SS Commander (retired to a tropical hotel), David Carradine as a salty boat captain, a team of aquatic Aryans in suspended animation, a spooky shipwreck, Brooke Adams, and a bunch of hapless folks in a yachting party. As Joe Bob would say: check it out.

    Reply
  15. antidlc

    https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/05/health/fda-johnson-johnson-vaccine-eua/index.html

    FDA puts strict limits on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine

    The US Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it is limiting the emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine to people 18 and older for whom other vaccines aren’t appropriate or accessible and those who opt for J&J because they wouldn’t otherwise get vaccinated.
    The FDA said in a statement that the change is being made because of the risk of a rare and dangerous clotting condition called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the vaccine.

    Reply
      1. rowlf

        Isn’t it odd the occasional reports of J&J (and AZ) having better long term results than the mRNA vaccines? It looks like marketing fighting.

        This all sucks. Crappy human data inputing. I work in a field trying to utilize data from machines and it somewhat sucks too. Who can actually make a good judgement from low quality human nonsense input and data collection?

        Reply
  16. Noone from Nowheresville

    Bird request: Hermit Thrush. Harmonizes with itself. Sings on two different pitches at the same time.

    Apologies if we’ve had this glorious songster already.

    Reply
  17. Mikel

    Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics].

    And from the looks of the stock market it’s gone from FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) to DARE – as in dare you to try to retire.

    Reply
  18. rj

    when i first saw this, i dismissed it as a parody…

    Oil Prices Top $111 As Biden’s SPR Buyback Plan Leaks — The Biden Administration will purchase 60 million barrels of crude in Q3 in an effort to replace volumes in the U.S. strategic petroleum for the first time in nearly 20 years, CNN reports, after authorizing a record release over six months.Citing an unnamed Energy Department official, CNN said what is referred to as a “long-term buyback plan” for oil would be announced later on Thursday.Delivery of those first 60 million barrels, according to CNN, would be paid for with revenue received from sales of emergency oil, while the time frame is not specific beyond “future years”.Oil jumped to $111.5 per barrel for Brent–the highest price since late March–and over $108 for WTI on news of the buyback plan, along with results of an OPEC+ meeting earlier today in which the cartel refrained from increasing output quotes beyond 423,000 bpd for June.

    Reply
    1. Milton

      And to think a little over 2 years ago, the SPR could’ve been filled to overflowing and it wouldn’t have cost a dime as a barrel of oil was going for around -47$.

      Reply
  19. The Rev Kev

    “The War in Ukraine Calls for a Reset of Biden’s Foreign Policy”

    Reading between the lines, you can actually some progressive perspectives with some typical window dressing of Putin-is-evil and we-must-win. I guess that you have to do that if you want your article published in Foreign Affairs. Only thing is that people like him will never be allowed near the levers of power which may be why he found a place as Bernie’s Foreign Policy Adviser. Even if a strain of Coronavirus came along on 2024 and wiped out every Presidential candidate except for Bernie who would be come President, Duss would never be confirmed in any governmental post, especially SecSate, and soon enough Bernie would drop him.

    Reply
  20. JBird4049

    >>>So in some sense, the White Overalls” lineage was a dead end. So far?

    Dead end or just ignored? The Black bloc anarchists and others like them get the press attention; showing successful defensive protests would not be what the police or the elites would want. “if it bleeds, it leads” as that gets the ratings and gets all protesters smeared as “violent anarchists” unfairly.

    Reply
  21. Jason Boxman

    I guess you can say that with the Roe decision possibly being overturned, Democrats can shift focus away from their disastrous COVID policy response… by showing that they also have no policy response for a decision that was known to be on shaky ground for 50 years and the right has been trying to get overturned for that entire time.

    Fun.

    Reply
  22. Big River Bandido

    Biden showcases deficit progress in bid to counter critics

    ROFL. Oh yeah, *that’ll* save the Democrats this fall. Are they just going through the political motions or are they high on their own supply?

    There is no political constituency whatsoever for austerity politics. I can’t believe I was nominally a Democrat for so many years. I can’t wait to see these scumbags kicked to the curb in November.

    Reply
      1. tegnost

        I’m troubled by the unrestrained zeal of our new minder…as evidenced by her own posted twit photo she really wants to do this.

        Reply
  23. ambrit

    I love mechanical watches and have a bias in their favour. One big advantage of mechanical anything is that they are, first, immune to EMP effects, and second, not captive to battery supply.
    A mechanical watch is the perfect “off grid” item.
    And don’t get me going about “Tik-Tok of Oz.”

    Reply
  24. lance ringquist

    we can never recover till nafta billy clintons “CRIMINAL” policies have been reversed.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/05/05/taking-aim-at-ukraine-how-john-mearsheimer-and-stephen-cohen-challenged-the-dominant-narrative/

    ” But Moscow was “deeply opposed to NATO enlargement.” In fact, Russian leaders believed that, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, NATO would not move an inch toward Russia’s borders. They believed that “no enlargement” had been promised, but were deceived by the Clinton administration.”

    “the “grand scheme to turn Europe into a giant security community went awry over Ukraine, but the seeds of this disaster were sown in the mid-1990s, when the Clinton administration began pushing for NATO expansion” (ibid.).”

    Reply
  25. JBird4049

    >>>We have a political machine designed to turn itself off:

    While technically true, it seems incorrect as well. It is looking at the wrong box. I think of both parties having a political campaign machine designed to never turn itself off, which is the point of it all even for the Republicans. Better living through “campaigning” and nothing, not even governing is allowed to get in the way. The whole Kabuki Government is just to bamboozle the marks into believing that politics has anything to do with governing.

    Reply
  26. NorD94

    CDC: Maine has highest COVID-19 infection rate in US
    https://wgme.com/news/local/hospitalizations-cases-rise-in-maine-amid-new-covid-19-variants

    The state reported 372 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. That’s about three times higher than the national average of 130 cases.

    The Maine CDC reports the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus grew to 169 on Wednesday, the highest number in Maine in months. Just two weeks ago, only 100 people were in the hospital with COVID.

    Reply

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