2:00PM Water Cooler 5/20/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

This is Evening Grosbeak Week at Naked Capitalism. Ontario, Canada. From the Media Notes: “Old apple orchard, overgrown…. Single male singing at top of small maple tree.”

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Adminstration

“2 Secret Service employees being sent home from South Korea ahead of Biden’s arrival after alleged incident: Sources” [ABC]. “Two Secret Service employees — an agent and an armed physical security specialist — in South Korea to prepare for President Joe Biden’s impending arrival are being sent home after an alleged alcohol-fueled incident that ended with a report being filed with local police, according to two sources briefed on the situation. The personnel were assigned to help prepare for the presidential visit when they went out for dinner and then stopped at several bars, the sources told ABC News. As the evening progressed, the two Secret Service staffers became apparently intoxicated and the agent wound up in a heated argument with a cab driver, according to the sources.” • Sounds like somebody successfully buried yet anotherwheels-up” scandal, to me.

“Biden’s response to the baby formula shortage is disappointing — and disingenuous” [MSNBC]. “The claim that he couldn’t have anticipated a particular crisis is an excuse the president and his allies reach for often when they are confronted with the consequences of their own actions. That excuse, however, is never convincing…. The Food and Drug Administration issued a recall of select lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare in February, after four infants were hospitalized with bacterial infections related to the formulas. The recall prompted the shuttering of a major manufacturing facility from Abbot Labs, America’s largest domestic producer of baby formula. While necessary, those recalls exacerbated a preexisting baby food shortage that was already hard to miss…. “Baby formula shortages are worsening throughout the United States, causing parents to be increasingly concerned about how they will feed their infants,” The New York Times had reported in January. That same month, a Wall Street Journal report had listed many contributing factors for the scarcity of baby formula, but no one disputed that formula was becoming hard to find. Well before it reached crisis proportions, local media outlets from San Antonio, Texas, to Knoxville, Tennessee, to Columbus, Ohio described how shortages were impacting parents. Biden didn’t have to read anyone’s mind to know the situation was becoming unsustainable. He only had to read the news.” • Biden doesn’t read the news. He has people for that.

“Is the Justice Department Incompetent?” [New York Magazine]. “The department’s missteps have already prompted criticism and concern among some observers and former prosecutors. Perhaps the most surprising thing about some of the more sharply critical comments of recent weeks is that they are being made publicly at all — a reflection of how difficult it can be in the ordinary course to have a real discussion among informed observers about the department’s frequent shortcomings. One department veteran, who noted that “DOJ successes ebb and flow” but that “it is often interesting to take stock of a trend,” published a three-part critique that questioned recent “stumbles” and prosecutors’ choice of “misguided targets.” There is an unspoken arrangement among the white-collar bar in which credible defense lawyers typically refrain from criticizing the department publicly on questions of prosecutorial competence. This is in part because, to the extent they are former prosecutors themselves, they may be justifiably reluctant to second-guess decisions that can be challenging. It’s also because many of them — particularly those at large corporate defense firms — are repeat players representing clients before the department, and it can be perilous to criticize prosecutors who can make life difficult for you and your clients. On more than one occasion, I have been amused to read a charitable or otherwise equivocal quote in the press about a loss for prosecutors from a defense lawyer who, in private, had offered me a far more aggressive critique of prosecutors’ work.” • Hmm…

“Trump Nominees Still Control A Key Mine Safety Agency Well Into Biden’s Second Year” [HuffPo]. • Better check with President Manchin on anything mining-related.


* * *

“Biden’s approval dips to lowest of presidency: AP-NORC poll” [Associated Press]. “Overall, only about 2 in 10 adults say the U.S. is heading in the right direction or the economy is good, both down from about 3 in 10 a month earlier. Those drops were concentrated among Democrats, with just 33% within the president’s party saying the country is headed in the right direction, down from 49% in April. Of particular concern for Biden ahead of the midterm elections, his approval among Democrats stands at 73%, a substantial drop since earlier in his presidency. In AP-NORC polls conducted in 2021, Biden’s approval rating among Democrats never dropped below 82%.”

“Overturning Roe v. Wade WILL drive voter turnout in midterms, poll shows: 68% favor some restrictions on abortion and only 9% say it should be banned completely in fierce debate that officials fear could spark violence” [Daily Mail]. “[The latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll] found that nearly two-thirds of Americans said the top court should not overturn the federal abortion protections granted in its landmark 1972, as a recently-leaked draft ruling suggests it is poised to do…. Two-thirds of surveyed Democrats said the ruling would make them more likely to cast ballots, compared to 40 per cent of Republicans.” • Maybe so. Depends on what districts those voters are in, though.

AK: “Zito: Sarah Palin dishes on her run for Congress, Trump and divorce” [Detroit News]. “Sarah Palin is standing on the back deck of her father’s home in Wasilla, Alaska, spending the day like she usually does: getting her youngest child, Trig, ready for school while checking in with her 84-year-old dad as he adjusts to life without her mom, who passed away suddenly last year. While Trig is at school, Palin said, she works on her campaign for Congress. The mother of five is running for Alaska’s lone House seat, which became vacant when longtime Rep. Don Young died in March… Since her resignation as governor in 2009, Palin has become a powerful force in the conservative populist movement — first dubbed the Tea Party during the 2010 midterm elections. She has since served as a Fox News contributor, hosted several outdoor lifestyle shows on the Sportsman Channel, and written the memoir “Going Rogue: An American Life,” which spent six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 2009. She also endorsed former President Donald Trump’s run in 2016 before the first caucus primary votes were even cast…. Currently, there are at least 50 people running in the June special election. In a new system, the four who garner the most votes will move ahead to the special general election in August.” • Fifty?

NC: “Madison Cawthorn’s cardinal sin against the GOP had nothing to do with misconduct” [MSNBC]. “But the reality is that Cawthorn was not ousted from the party purely for affiliation with scandals, which Republican voters have shown they have a very high tolerance for. Rather, he was plagued by association with the wrong kind of scandals. More important than his acts of deception or alleged mistreatment of women or extreme political positions was the fact that he embarrassed and rankled politicians in his own party by implicating them in his allegations that Washington is the site of ‘sexual perversion.’ The whole episode illustrates how the bright red line for the GOP is not authoritarianism or other potentially criminal acts, but undermining the power of the party.” • Commentary:


“‘I talk to CEOs constantly’: Gina Raimondo is corporate America’s best friend in the White House” [Business Insider]. “[Commerce Secretary Gina] Raimondo, a centrist whose politics are much closer to the president’s than those of the progressives he bested in the 2020 primaries. As commerce secretary, Raimondo has emerged as the administration’s most quietly effective Cabinet member. She serves as the president’s Republican whisperer on the Hill, deploying her credentials as a former business executive to eke out votes for some of Biden’s biggest legislative initiatives, most notably the $65 billion broadband portion of the bipartisan infrastructure law. Politico called her the Cabinet’s ‘hidden player,’ and the Washington Post columnist James Hohmann has argued that she represents the ‘real future’ of the Democratic Party… Raimondo’s ambition is palpable, and there’s little doubt among Beltway insiders that she’s angling to replace Biden should he decide not to run in 2024. But as Hohmann’s observation suggests, her centrist appeal and business bona fides have put her on the front lines of the civil war raging within the Democratic Party. At the very moment when progressives have found themselves in a position to begin imposing some measure of regulation on monopolies like Facebook and Amazon, Raimondo has used her position as commerce chief to defend the interests of Big Tech. 2024 is likely to serve up a bitter and messy reprise of the Democratic battle in 2020, with Raimondo — who served as cochair of Mike Bloomberg’s short-lived run the last time around — standing in for Biden as the moderate in the middle. Even Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris, her closest contenders for the centrist mantle, are more palatable to the party’s progressive wing than a former venture capitalist who once worked at a firm backed by Bain Capital. Sure, Raimondo has won plaudits for her get-it-done pragmatism. But is she too out of touch with the populist, grassroots energy of her own party to serve as its standard-bearer?”

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

* * *

“The primary battles of Dems’ uncivil war” [Politico]. “It was about two years ago that Sanders withdrew from the presidential primary. Since then, the progressive wing of the party has been almost historically well-behaved. It lined up behind Joe Biden in 2020 and supported his legislative agenda once he took office. In return, progressives are getting hit with millions of dollars in outside spending. The leadership-aligned House Majority PAC went in for the moderate Democrat in Oregon, who was defeated by progressive Andrea Salinas on Tuesday. A super PAC called Mainstream Democrats is helping Cuellar ahead of his runoff next week. The repercussions are likely to be long-lasting, both in November and in the next presidential race, in 2024. ‘Temperatures [could] be cooled substantially’ between the center and the left, [Jeff Weaver, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ former presidential campaign manager] said, ‘by the corporatist wing standing down, and understanding if they want to win the White House again for Democrats, they can’t go spending untold millions against loyal progressive Democrats.’ But if not, he said, progressives have other options. One possibility, Weaver said, is that the left will become ‘much less thoughtful in the future about which incumbents get challenged.'” • Well, the Democrats are the party of betrayal….

“Ocasio-Cortez Amps Up Democrats’ Feud Over Draft N.Y. House Map” [Bloomberg]. “A fight among New York Democrats over a redrawn district map is escalating as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for the head of the party’s House campaign to step down if he ends up in a primary challenge with another incumbent. ‘I think it’s ridiculous,’ Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday of Representative Sean Patrick Maloney’s announcement that he would run for re-election in a district that may pit him against progressive Democrat Mondaire Jones. ‘If he’s going to enter in a primary and challenge another Democratic member, then he should step aside from his responsibilities’ as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”

“AOC Is Engaged to Her Partner Riley Roberts, She Confirms” [Teen Vogue]. “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 32, has confirmed that she is engaged to her longtime partner Riley Roberts, 33, whom she met while in college at Boston University…. ‘Yep! It’s true!’ AOC confirmed over Twitter DM. She says she and Roberts got engaged in April in Puerto Rico and are ‘savoring’ their engagement before diving into wedding planning. ‘No future details yet,’ she said.”

Texas Governor Abbot keeps sending buses of migrants to DC. And the only people taking care of them are grassroots volunteers (DCBlogger):


“Marc Elias throws Durham trial into disarray with Sussmann comments” [Washington Examiner]. “Marc Elias threw special counsel John Durham’s trial against Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann into disarray over comments seemingly hinting at the accused’s possible decision not to testify. During his time on the stand Wednesday, Elias, the top lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said that “you’d have to ask Mr. Sussmann” about whether the defendant had gone to the FBI with Alfa-Bank claims on behalf of the Clinton campaign. The defense team believed that was a clear nod to Sussmann’s pending decision on whether to invoke the Fifth Amendment. The team argued Elias’s comments should be struck, and if they weren’t, then a mistrial should be declared. On Thursday morning, Judge Christopher Cooper ruled out declaring a mistrial but said he would make a decision on striking the comments from the record once Sussmann decided whether he would testify.” • So one member of ClintonWorld tries to engineer a mistrial for another member of ClintonWorld.

“Tale of Two Trials: How Sussmann is Receiving Every Consideration Denied to Flynn” [Jonathan Turley]. “Looking at the jury box, one can understand Shaw’s unease. During jury selection, one juror admitted he was a Clinton donor and could only promise to “strive for impartiality as best I can.” Prosecutors objected to his being seated, but Judge Christopher Cooper overruled them…. Other jurors include a woman who said she thought she was a Clinton donor but could not remember…. [Cooper also refused to dismiss a juror whose daughter is playing on the same team with Sussmann’s daughter. For John Durham, it may seem that the only person missing from the jury at this point is Chelsea Clinton.” • Burn!

Trump Legacy

“Fiona Hill says Putin ‘had to keep explaining things’ to Trump” [The Hill]. “Former Trump White House national security official Fiona Hill said Russian President Vladimir Putin had ‘to explain everything to all the time’ to former President Trump. ‘He had to keep explaining things, and Putin doesn’t like to do that,’ Hill said this week, speaking at a Chicago Council on Global Affairs event in remarks reported by Insider.” • Yes, if you want somebody to underestimate you (and get them to tell you the same thing over and over again so you can check their story for inconsistencies) do exactly as Trump did.

Obama Legacy

“Obama discusses why ‘change is hard in this country’” [The Hill]. “Obama’s chat with Conover came after the pair crafted a snack suggested by the 44th president: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. ‘I’m very particular about how you make PB&J,’ Obama said during the lighthearted segment. ‘You have to get every corner,’ he advised as he spread the ingredients on the bread.'” • Stretch goals.


I’ve been treating the charts as topic areas and putting relevant snippets of content under them. But I’m afraid readers miss the snippets. So I decided to put bullets in front of the snippets in the #COVID19 section, as here:

• Welcome to the magical world of Soviet psychiatry, oh wait….

• The power play in “smiling face” couldn’t be more clear:

The whole thread is worth reading.

• Sociopath of the Day Lucy McBridge is still cashing in on minimization. This whole thread is a savage beatdown, well worth a read:

* * *

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.

* * *

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

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

The train is really rolling, now. Biden has handily beaten Trump’s first two peaks, even accepting the data, which of course nobody does. (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 101,000 * 6 = 606000, i.e. not gamed. Biden has now broken 600,000, good job.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:

Worth noting that cases have doubled tripled 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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

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

NOT UPDATED MWRA wastewater data:

Look vertical to me…..

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

Cases lag wastewater data.

From Biobot Analytics:

Northeast retrospectively revised downward. I don’t like this at all, and maybe I should drop this chart. The other thing I’m not liking is that big time lag with the variants. April 27? I want to know about BA.4 and BA.5 (dubbed “variants of concern” by The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week, but not WHO).

• For grins, the Biobot Data from Portland, ME (Re Silc):

Highest EVAH!

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

Status quo. The West and the Northeast are worse (so the chart is dynamic).

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. Puzzlingly, the South remains yellow.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile). Back to normal, so yesterday’s debacle (this chart disappeared) was only an editorial screw-up (CDC drone: “That guy Strether is onto us!”):

Sure is orange!

The table of contents for the CDC Community Profile still lists “Trends in hospital admissions per 100 beds during the last 8 weeks (state, regional, and national hospital admission curves)” on page 22, as has been true for months. However, the title at 22 is: “Trends in Hospital Inpatient Covid Utilization During the Last 8 Weeks”; there is no “per 100 beds” qualifier.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,028,337 1,028,014. Now at the second-lowest “valley,” which is good. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Broadly down. Looks like that enormous jump in the UK was data. (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday:

What kind of organization puts “in recent weeks” in an explanatory dropdown, and then obviously never comes back to check? Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks. CDC, if you’re reading this, please send a signal by getting this fixed. And then throw some documents over the transom. In complete confidentiality! Obviously, nobody at CDC is checking the excess deaths chart, because otherwise the typo would be fixed. I certainly hope there are no “coding errors” in the algo.

•​ “Excess Mortality in Massachusetts During the Delta and Omicron Waves of COVID-19” (Research Letter) [JAMA]. “Given reports that the Omicron variant may confer less risk than prior variants, we compared excess mortality in Massachusetts, a highly vaccinated state, during the Delta and initial Omicron periods. More all-cause excess mortality occurred in Massachusetts during the first 8 weeks of the Omicron period than during the entire 23-week Delta period. Although numerically there were more excess deaths in older age groups, there was excess mortality in all adult age groups, as recorded in earlier waves, including in younger age groups. Moreover, the ratio of observed to expected all-cause deaths was similar in all age groups, and increased during the Omicron period compared with the Delta period. Others have reported that the Omicron variant may cause milder COVID-19. If true, increased all-cause excess mortality observed during the Omicron wave in Massachusetts may reflect a higher mortality product (ie, a moderately lower infection fatality rate multiplied by far higher infection rate).” • When I hear “mild,” I think both less danger for me, and less death for society. Clearly, the “mild” talking point played on that confusion. “‘They lie to you,’ Hunter said. ‘They f*cking lie right to your face.'” –Elmore Leonard, City Primeval. But sometimes the lies are complex….

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “What the Terra crash means for the future of crypto” [The New Statesman]. “It is now possible to imagine a great schism in the crypto world. Some will continue to regard it as a market for exciting new technologies. They may accept greater public regulation if that means access to larger sources of capital. Slowly, crypto might start to change the way finance works. Smart contracts will replace human decision in many economic areas, but the political energy of crypto will be lost or tamed in the process. A large part of the crypto space will never reconcile itself with this outcome. For the true revolutionaries, Terra’s implosion showed crypto is not going far enough. Stablecoins still look to fiat currencies as their model and so suffer from the same flaws the US dollar and its peers have always exhibited. They are tools of power, ways to control wealth and channel it in certain directions. Crypto utopians picture a world where mathematical truth becomes the overriding political authority. If this sounds like Platonism, it’s because it is Platonism. But there is a reason Platonism continues to attract us. Behind the notion of an immutable blockchain lies the dream of the unmediated rule of truth over society. We saw it on 12 May. There was real anger in the crypto world and many complained of foul play from the establishment. Perhaps a hedge fund had launched an attack against Terra. After all, many famous investors have spent the past year or two proclaiming that crypto needs to be destroyed. Warren Buffett called Bitcoin “rat poison”. It is unlikely that crypto believers will lose faith. They may lose their savings, but as a result the movement will gain a political edge it has lacked so far. A sense of danger and vulnerability will turn crypto into a leading political movement – Platonism for the people – and one sharing very little with existing creeds.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 8 Extreme Fear (previous close: 12 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 12 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 20 at 1:45 PM EDT. Bear market? The Fed?

Feral Hog Watch

“Smart, co-operative, emotional: what cutting-edge science tells us about pigs” [Financial Times]. “Pigs had been domesticated from European wild boar for at least 9,000 years, mixed with domesticated Asian pigs from the 18th century. They had been selectively bred to produce more meat and piglets and acclimatised to human company. They looked startlingly different from their ancestors: adult wild boars are dark, hairy and females produce about six piglets a year on average; adult pigs are pink, hairless and females can produce more than 30. The assumption was that, even in a semi­wild setting, pigs would behave very differently too. The pigs surprised. They formed small groups. They spent most of their waking hours grazing and rooting in the soil. They built communal nests just as wild boar do. Most nests had walls set against prevailing winds. They tended to open southwards, suggesting the pigs sought an open view. Before giving birth, sows left the group, and made their own nests. As they grew up, young piglets played. After three and a half years, Wood-Gush and Stolba concluded that the pigs exhibited “most of the behaviour of the European wild boar”. Thousands of years of domestication had fundamentally changed their bodies, but not their minds.” • Well worth reading in full.

Our Famously Free Press

From the paper that gives Covid minimizer David Leonhardt a huge platform:

The Times story is classic PMC self-congratulatory sentimentality. Shedding tears about the very situation you helped bring about!

Zeitgeist Watch

“My Husband and I Had Sex Every Day for a Year — Here’s How We’re Doing Now” [Good Housekeeping (!)]. “First, we learned that it’s hard and that’s normal. The majority of people around you are not having sex every single day. They’re busy being stressed at work, coordinating their kids’ soccer schedules and paying bills. Fitting sex into all of that is difficult, but for us, it’s necessary. Sex is what reminds us that we’re intimate partners and not just roommates in charge of keeping kids alive.” • ”Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” –Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

The 420

Not what I had in mind when I thought about legalization, back in the day. I was so naive:

Guillotine Watch

“HSBC AM global head of responsible investing: ‘Who cares if Miami is six metres under water in 100 years?'” [Investment Week]. HSBC Asset Management global head of responsible investing Stuart Kirk: “‘At a big bank like ours, what do people think the average loan length is?’ he asked. ‘It is six years. What happens to the planet in year seven is actually irrelevant to our loan book. For coal, what happens in year seven is actually irrelevant. Let’s get back to making money out of the transition.” More: “Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that is a really nice place. We will cope with it.” • Who’s “we,” champ?

Class Warfare

“The truckers who keep our world moving” [Financial Times]. “Without the drivers’ knowledge, experience and chutzpah, we would never have made the delivery deadline in Romania. As we snaked thunderously into that first night, dodging checkpoints and weigh bridges, gathering intelligence about queues at Dover and the chaotic ferries (P&O was out of action, due to ships failing inspections), watching for police, tight turns and bad drivers, monitored constantly by tachographs, tracked by hundreds of automated number-plate recognition cameras, I began to understand how resilient and resourceful drivers such as Charlie and Ian are, and how complex and vexing their world. No satnav shows the truth of road haulage. And no computer would design this trading world the way politicians have, with chaotic obstructions caused by Brexit, for example, requiring trucks going into the Republic of Ireland from the UK to present 700 pages of documents that take eight hours to prepare.”

“‘The Quarantine Atlas’ Maps How 65 Lives Turned Upside Down” [Bloomberg]. • Here is one cute map:

I’m all for walks, and I’m all for birdwatching. I’d like to see a map made by an essential worker, and I bet they exist.

News of the Wired

I don’t know if this is the only Inuit account on Twitter, but it’s the only Inuit account I follow. This looks like the makings for some pretty nice jewelry:

He and his wife are in bad financial straits. Please circulate on the Twitter (since he only operates through Twitter Direct Message, apparently).

* * *

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 Re Silc:

Re Silc writes: “Planting in the rain. Chokecherries, gums, maples.”

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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.


  1. digi_owl

    Hogs being hogs.

    Makes me think of how dogs, and their distance, or lack of such, to wolves.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Fiona Hill’s twofer–

    Fiona is still having her fun, but the NYT is getting cautious.

    I must admit to being shocked to follow a link to this NYT Editorial Board opinion from yesteday titled “The War in Ukraine Is Getting Complicated, and America Isn’t Ready.”

    There is apparently a disturbance in the force among our billionaire Jedis. Even those Bernie-loving editorialists had to cite their own March editorial that urged being tough. Now they’re admitting that times have changed:

    In March, this board argued that the message from the United States and its allies to Ukrainians and Russians alike must be: No matter how long it takes, Ukraine will be free. Ukraine deserves support against Russia’s unprovoked aggression, and the United States must lead its NATO allies in demonstrating to Vladimir Putin that the Atlantic alliance is willing and able to resist his revanchist ambitions.

    That goal cannot shift, but in the end, it is still not in America’s best interest to plunge into an all-out war with Russia, even if a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions. And the U.S. aims and strategy in this war have become harder to discern, as the parameters of the mission appear to have changed.

    And a little political realism about how long this torrent of propaganda can hold its audience:

    Americans have been galvanized by Ukraine’s suffering, but popular support for a war far from U.S. shores will not continue indefinitely. Inflation is a much bigger issue for American voters than Ukraine, and the disruptions to global food and energy markets are likely to intensify.

    And military realism:

    Americans have been galvanized by Ukraine’s suffering, but popular support for a war far from U.S. shores will not continue indefinitely. Inflation is a much bigger issue for American voters than Ukraine, and the disruptions to global food and energy markets are likely to intensify.

    And instead of crying “Munich!” as is their wont, they’re trying to distinguish it:

    Confronting this reality may be painful, but it is not appeasement. This is what governments are duty bound to do, not chase after an illusory “win.” Russia will be feeling the pain of isolation and debilitating economic sanctions for years to come, and Mr. Putin will go down in history as a butcher. The challenge now is to shake off the euphoria, stop the taunting and focus on defining and completing the mission. America’s support for Ukraine is a test of its place in the world in the 21st century, and Mr. Biden has an opportunity and an obligation to help define what that will be.

    It’s sad when this half-assed editorial with its juvenile Putin-bashing still passes for halfway reasonable because it counsels putting some restraints on the jingoism.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Apologies for sloppy pasting and proofing. Here’s the military realism:

      A decisive military victory for Ukraine over Russia, in which Ukraine regains all the territory Russia has seized since 2014, is not a realistic goal. Though Russia’s planning and fighting have been surprisingly sloppy, Russia remains too strong, and Mr. Putin has invested too much personal prestige in the invasion to back down.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And if Putin is “couped out” , as the pro-Ukranazi NATO EUFUKUS leadership hopes to achieve, they will find that he is replaced by the ” hard men ” who will direct an even tougher nastier fight by Russian forces for “hard man” goals.

    2. clarky90

      “Looking back on deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville 4 years later”


      Has anyone noticed a disparity in the appearance of the USA Charlottesville White Nationalists (Far Right), as opposed to the Ukrainian Azov Battalion? Like chalk and cheese, imo.

      Will the USA ship bamboo citronella tiki torches, to Kyiv, in support of their war effort? They have been an effective strategy in America.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      this part: “The challenge now is to shake off the euphoria, stop the taunting and focus on defining and completing the mission”…
      from these people,lol.

      i rarely darken nyt’s virtual door, save to have a peek at the euphoria/hysteria level du jour.
      but for the last …umm…2 1/2 weeks camping out at mom’s, i’ve learned to bite my tongue at the near constant msnbc feed in the back living room(wife and i are in the front living room and adjacent bedroom/bath, with doors that close us off from the whole back of the house…like a B&B).
      people like barry mccaffrey…and nicole wallace,lol(i think she’s gotten prettier, but…)…and a bunch of other people who apparently inhabit a parallel universe….i’m at least sequestered by the time Rachel comes on.
      i’m just glad that mom’s not hard of hearing, so the volume isn’t excessive/penetrating.

      memories of tales from the end of other empires…ottoman, rome, and so on…keep bubbling up…with the sycophants and courtiers and gilded halls that they end up mistaking for the real world…like the progression of a disease.

  3. Cresty

    Praetorian guards on a rampage again? Maybe their protectee is afraid to force accountability

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Why do they need guards? What would you do with Joe Biden if you kidnapped him? It’s not like he makes any decisions about anything. And with his favorability ratings, I’d doubt you’d raise more than twelve bucks for ransom. He’d break more than that. No thanks

  4. antidlc


    Private Equity Gloats Over A Doctor Glut
    Health care vultures helped create an oversupply of ER physicians — now they want to use the surplus to cut wages and limit care.

    A private-equity-owned emergency room staffing firm co-founded by a wealthy Republican congressman has been openly hailing a coming “oversupply” of doctors, promising prospective investors that a surplus of emergency physicians — soon projected to reach nearly 10,000 — will drive doctors’ wages low enough to offset the haircut that health care reforms have imposed upon its profit margins.

    The physician glut was highlighted in a recent pitch deck prepared by the cash-strapped Nashville ER staffing firm American Physician Partners (APP). The company, which operates ERs in 155 hospitals, has been trying — and failing — for months to raise $580 million to pay off creditors, including Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), who holds somewhere between $5 million and $25 million of the company’s debt.

    This ER doctor glut was primarily caused by a recent explosion in the number of emergency medicine residency programs founded to train medical school graduates in the specialty — and was part of a deliberate scheme by vulture capitalists to flood the health care system with cheap medical labor.

    1. bassmule

      My first thought was “Where are the professional societies on this?” I went to the American College of Emergency Physicians website. There is no mention of supply, at all. In a report from their annual meeting (held May1), I found this:

      In a rapid-fire series of presentations, emergency physicians discuss the role of physician advocacy and identify the impact that emergency physicians can have with their health system, legislators, and regulators.

      “Trust us, we can solve this,” said Nathaniel Schlicher, MD, JD, MBA, FACEP.

      Dr. Schlicher kicked things off with an explanation of how important the emergency physician perspective can be in the regulatory arena. In meetings with his hospital leaders, he realized that his experience in the emergency department equipped him to inform solutions to his health systems biggest challenges.

      “It is amazing to see what emergency physicians can do when we are in the room as experts. We can lead the house of medicine,” Dr. Schlicher said.

      He explained that regulation is where significant work must be done. “It won’t be flashy, but it will be meaningful,” he said.


      I don’t know what to make of this, except that could have come from anyone’s professional conference: “Hey, We’re Important!”

    2. TMoney

      Law of unintended consequences: Medicare For All becomes more likely as ER Doctors switch teams from Capital to Labor and advocate for patients and not money. This is a long term trend.

      However, the current system may remain in place longer than you can remain healthy.

  5. Samuel Conner

    Literally moments before reading about the Mcbride disinformation, I was accosted at my front door by an unmasked seller of home exterior upgrades.

    I respectfully declined to purchase an upgrade but offered the person several individually wrapped 3M Aura 9210+ N95 respirators from a supply I keep near the door.

    “I’m vaccinated!” demurred the person.

    “Vaccination will protect you from severe disease and death, but it won’t prevent infection, and it won’t prevent long COVID. These are high quality respirators. Please accept them and use them. The pandemic is not over. If you are around people a lot and don’t mask, you will get infected. You are in danger.”

    She accepted them with a “Thank you; I appreciate this.”

    The whole interaction lasted less than 60 seconds.

    I think we can win against the disinformation, but it is a slow, one person at a time, thing. And it may be a trial; one has to remain gracious in the face of the prevailing ignorance and stupidity (and perhaps, at times, even malice). Most people, in my experience, will accept protective gear that is graciously offered out of concern for their well-being. I think that the experience of ‘I give a damn about whether you stay healthy’ may be something many people don’t get much from strangers these days.

    Keep a small inventory of N95s with you to share with strangers. It will be a bit easier to sleep at night knowing you’ve done a little to dispel the darkness.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think we can win against the disinformation, but it is a slow, one person at a time, thing.

      This is a very hopeful comment, thanks. I will keep a supply on hand….

    2. ambrit

      Agreed about your methodology.
      I have given out two KN95 masks on the City Bus over the last six months or so. Both times to potential riders who did not have masks available. The bus service did not keep ‘extra’ masks on the busses. Recently, the bus service has dropped mask mandates. Now I have had to, as you mentioned, calmly and in a civilized fashion, explain why I was not willing to give up my wearing a mask in public places. Both times, I was accosted with the ‘standard’ opening gambit; “You know masks aren’t required anymore.” Stated as a point of ‘common knowledge.’
      We really do have to “take care of ourselves” now. The society in general seems H— bent on self destruction. I refuse to co-operate in that democide.
      Stay safe, even when everyone else tells you otherwise.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop


        That word really stands out to me, offering strangers ?helpful? advice on what is currently required or not.

    3. jr

      Riding the train a year ago, I noticed a young lady who was holding a napkin up to breathe through. As I always carry a spare mask, I was able to share one with her. Her relief was palpable.

  6. kareninca

    This is not to rag on health care workers, but the pressure on them (and perhaps covid infection) has made some of them irrational; it is not just their patients.

    I took my nearly-deaf (hearing aid in for repair) 97 y.o. father in law to the ER in Silicon Valley on Monday. When asked, I told the person at the door that no, I was not vaccinated (you’d have thought he’d seen Great Caesar’s ghost). So I had to go through a “process” in order to accompany my FIL. That was not my understanding (or prior experience) of county law, but still that was fine with me.

    While I was waiting to talk with the head nurse, some officious employee came up to me and told me that I ought to be vaccinated because everyone in a hospital should be vaccinated. I replied that the vaccination does not prevent transmission. He said, “I know that.” He then told me that there were immune compromised people in the hospital who could catch covid from me. I told that that was true, but that they could also catch it from anyone else there. He said, “I know that.” Then he said to me, “stop yelling.” But I wasn’t yelling. I am not a “yelling” person; I am a relentless-reasoning person. But he did not like what I was saying, so he felt he was being yelled at.

    Here’s the thing: I was wearing an N95 mask, properly put on (so was my father in law). But almost no-one at the ER was wearing anything but a very loose surgical mask (I didn’t notice what “officious man” was wearing since I was concentrating on what he was saying). Maybe ten percent of the doctors and nurses were wearing N95s, and of course none of the hordes of patients. Even leaving aside my self-dosing with “I” and my Xlear nasal spray and my weekly self-testing, I was obviously less of a risk than any of them. But – the vaccine, the vaccine.

    The head nurse let me go in. We were stuck there 8 hours. They tested me with a PCR test and I got the results when I got home (negative). My father in law was tested for everything under the sun, but they didn’t think to test him for a UTI until I suggested it (and that is what it was). I think they are all cracking.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Amazing and well-told story. Rationality does seem to be flying away.

      Your antagonist’s repetition of “I know that” seems to me an admission of awareness of the irrationality. Maybe the vaccination has become part of the bargaining process: if I do what they tell me, I’ll be OK. Or maybe it’s tapping into our ancient fears. Sitting inside city walls, hearing the howls of predators outside.

      I’m a proud Covidphobe. Seems pretty rational to me. We’ll know more in a few years.

      1. jr

        I believe it was John Beech who shared a story a while back about being confronted while wearing a mask. Sorry JB if I mess this up but I remember you saying something like “Oh I thought I had COVID but never mind!” and removing the mask. The man scuttled off nervously.

        That story stuck with me. The fool knew enough to be scared of COVID but he couldn’t resist the sense of superiority that comes with lecturing another. He was fine with increasing the threat to himself for “smug points” but terrified of actually catching COVID. An example of bifurcated thinking that approaches parody, even cliché. My point is I worry about how widespread such blinkered thinking is. How quickly the mobs will form, foam-flecked and howling. Maybe not. History doesn’t comfort me though.

    2. IM Doc

      Mene Mene Tekel Upharshin

      Translated –

      Alas, Alas O Babylon. The Lord God has judged you and found thee wanting. Thy Day of Judgment is at hand.

      The writing is slowly but surely being placed on the wall for all to see. Very soon, the mocking laughter and condescension as you experienced will be ending. Replaced with shrieks of rage and fury and then panicked fear.

      When I was a kid in Sunday School, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would see as an adult that this passage would be a message sent to my country and my culture from centuries ago. But we have arrived. All kinds of craziness that completely defies reason going on all around us every minute of every day. And very few seem to notice and even fewer seem to care. There are those of us with discernment and reason who can see through the fog. Many of them are commenters on this blog. I so appreciate the fellowship with reason every day.

      I have had several revelations today with my patients and my work, one after the other. There is a quickening in the air. I am sure every one of us can feel this to some degree as well.

      All I can say to everyone here – take care, take care of your health, protect the vulnerable all around you, and get ready.

      1. antidlc

        “I so appreciate the fellowship with reason every day.”

        If I didn’t have NC to read I think I would go nuts.

        Thank you, IM Doc, and thank you to the NC commenters for helping me “see through the fog”.

      2. kareninca

        I saw two signals very recently. One is that a high school friend of my brother’s showed up on my mom’s doorstep in my small hometown in New England a few days ago. She hadn’t seen him in 45 years, but she always said that she has never changed her phone number was because she knew that someday Matthew would show up from his years and years of wandering. My brother died a year and a half ago; my dad died 3 and a half years ago; he didn’t know they were gone; it was just my mom when he showed up. He visited and then headed north to MA to see his brother.

        The other was the gardener at my condo complex in Silicon Valley. He has been there at least a decade; maybe a lot longer. I have never spoken to him other than to say hi, since the management company has made it clear that we shouldn’t give him instructions (not that I would), and if I had such a job I wouldn’t want to be yakked at; I’ve seen other people yak at him and he didn’t seem to be enjoying it. His English is pretty limited.

        Last week he rang my bell. That is unheard of. He asked if he could prune a tree that was overhanging. It has been overhanging for at least since he’s been here. It had clearly been driving him crazy forever. I was the wrong person to ask and we both knew it, but of course I said yes and he did it. I think the insanely tight, compulsive management company is just . . . fading out. He can sense that. I planted that tree decades ago – it is an apricot – opportunistically, when the condo board was in disarray, and I knew they wouldn’t notice or care. The boundaries and constraints are going away and people will start taking advantage of that.

        Yes, these are totally ridiculous signals but so be it.

      3. griffen

        Wait, you mean we aren’t in the presence of good feelings and good times? But the adults are in place again and ruling the USA. They are all fair minded, upright , righteous and worthy of adulation?

        Okay sarcasm is out of the way. No I am not mocking you at all. It’s the elite approach that I am mocking and with good reason. Yeah I don’t think we’re presently on an upward trajectory.

        To quote Aliens “we’re on the express elevator going down”.

      4. Juneau

        NC truly is a place of sanity and reasoned discussion. In the past day a person seriously ill with Covid tried hard to shame and convince me that isolating (with multiple serious comorbidites) was fear based and irrational. Someone who should know better in outright denial. It is good to come here and hear from IM Doc and other commenters who care enough and are clear sighted enough to face the threat(s) to the end (whenever that is). Another thank you from a grateful member.

      5. ChrisRUEcon

        Thank you for all your insights and support. That is one of my favourite quotes from the Bible, as is the story around it. Message received, and my family is doing all we can. Today, I declined a request to travel for work. I cannot fathom how people are basically like ostriches with their heads in the sand. I’m angry, so angry … and consumed many days with a sense of helplessness. I have to contain those feelings to a degree for the sake of family (not being angry to them). But still masking and not participating in the unmasked madness of being indoors at restaurants and bars. I too am thankful for this oasis of sanity. Stay safe everyone.

      6. Joe Well

        A close friend more or less deliberately infected himself with COVID (spent hours indoors with a friend who had tested positive two days before and was very unwell).

        He is in disbelief that he still feels deathly sick 5 whole days later.

        He apparently thought he’d have something like a mild cold for a few days.

        He told someone else, “well, I was going to get it eventually anyway” and mentioned chicken pox.

        I’ve talked with him about COVID and the limits of immunity and Long Covid but how can I compete with the entre MSM, government, and business world?

        I need this fellowship with reason now more than ever. Thank you, all of you.

      7. Skippy

        Hi IM Doc …

        From my perspective the whole enchilada about covid is/was the past successes of neoliberal ideology through its PR/Marketing to advance the idea of individual choices in a market place and not one of an informed cohesive society that looks out for the present and future generations e.g. its about financial balance sheets.

        Covid has thrown a spanner in the whole thing because during this neoliberal epoch nothing else has challenged the narrative sufficiently that it can’t be gaslighted away or some irrational fear cannot be triggered [freedoms and liberties] deployed to keep the unwashed compliant e.g. the CDC is just a HR department now.

        BTW here in Brisbane people are dropping like flies to the flu and in most cases more debilitating than the covid they had prior, almost entirely multiple vaccinations, and wondering if it has something to do with T Cell depletion/stresses and other inflammation factors.

        Love your work IM Doc …

        PS why am I the only one not getting sick … lol

      8. SammyPie

        Hi IM Doc, I just wanted to share with you something from the same book that you reference that points to hope for the near future. You are correct, the horrible elements of this world and all of its drivers are going to be cleared away. Daniel chapter 2 has an amazing prophecy that depicts the progression of world powers that existed from Daniel’s day down to our day. The giant image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream had different types of metal which represents the progression of those world powers. Gold = Babylon, Silver = Media-Persia, Copper = Greece, Iron=Rome, and then you get to the part in our day…the feet mixed with iron and clay. What an incredible description of the American world power today, the soft clay (people/democracy) trying to control the government (iron) but never in agreement. Verse 43 points out how there is no agreement in the clay. And then in the dream, a stone is cut and is hurled at the image and hits it in those same feet. This destroys the entire image to the point that it blows away in the wind. The stone grows into a huge mountain. In verse 44 and 45 it explains that the stone represents God setting up a kingdom that will never be destroyed and it will crush and put an end to the succession of these world powers that have brought nothing but ruin to earth and mankind. The fact that it hit the feet indicates the time period this will happen. So, yes change is in the air, but incredibly good things are coming soon, and mankind will never have to go through this again. (Psalms 37:10,11,29). The answer to the question of whether or not God has the right to rule and govern mankind will have been answered completely, it’s pretty obvious we can’t do it ourselves in a beneficial way for everyone on earth. I hope this brings you some comfort and hope.

        1. Skippy

          @SammyPie …

          I appreciate the sentiment that underpins your offering, albeit everything about the book you reference has so many irreconcilable issues with it anyone using it to judge any future outcomes is pigeonholing not only themselves, but the rest of humanity with it.

          Additionally the suggestion of a – false hope – which provides some notion of emotional comfort is unfortunately what keeps the unwashed from organizing against the agency which is lording over them e.g. you cant have a book tell you to obey your earthly masters chosen by the creator, as you would him, and then expect the flock to question the morals or agendas of the billionaire oligarch class now can you.

          In fact you can go back to the early corporatist capitalists post WWII and clearly see the biblical back drop to everything they promoted with the free market libertarian public relations agenda we now call neoliberalism. Lest we forget the Bush Jr years and the small but well funded and vocal group/s that sought to administrate the nation by their religious views.

          I would only add that I find the Puritan Thomas Goodwin’s concise summery a more honest and reveling insight to what the bible intones, how that effects your position is another matter, but you are compelled to study for yourself IMO.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are they all cracking? Or is the Officious Mens’ job to appear to be cracking to keep the tension level high?

  7. jr

    re: trucking

    I drove a small truck halfway across the US a few years ago. It was absolutely insane. Setting aside the sodden a$$hole who rode with me, it was one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever had. Granite hard sleep-denying hotel beds followed by prison fare for breakfast, absolutely horrible food choices along the highway, endless hours of mindless radio including stretches of I-10 that had little but evangelical broadcasts, crumbling roads, and traffic conditions that beggared belief. The “Mix Master” over-under-flipside-upside down inter-dimensional overpass in Houston:


    gave you the impression you were going to sail over the rail to a screaming death and when the traffic stalled you begged for that release. We missed causing a huge accident on it by a few screeching inches. I pity the poor ba$tards who do that regularly.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I was engaged in a discussion a few days ago with someone denying any limits to growth and citing a Rand study that claimed the U. S. had 100 more years of energy supply obtainable by fracking.

      My response was: Hamsters desperate to keep wheels going. 100 More Years!

      I’m convinced this desperate resistance to change comes more from fear of the unknown than love for the status quo.

      1. jr

        “fear of the unknown”

        Rings true to my ears. So much sadness and greed and violence flows from the fact that we are terrified chimps at heart. I’m hoping the Galactic Council hasn’t lost interest in this project. Who could blame them, though?

        1. Joe Renter

          They are here for the long run, (Galactic Council aka Spiritual Hierarchy) trying their best to guide the little wills of men (humanity). The forces of greed and selfishness are in a full-on war (as if you didn’t know). But they can only do so much. We have to do the hard work. People overall want be decent to each other. Many problems on so many fronts. These next couple of years is a turning point, either we turn the tide and right the wrongs or the planet goes down the tubes. Fear is tough to battle, but if you do your best to do positive to those you connect with and be ready for the apple cart being overturned. The readers of this blog are much savvier of what’s going down, and what needs to be thrown out, in order to move forward in regard to the broken and corrupt intuitions.
          I suggest a daily meditation practice of some type. Be strong.
          Friday night ramble completed.

  8. shinola

    Is the Justice Department Incompetent? (NY Mag. article)

    “I’m here to declare that we are not part of the chickensh*t club.” (Attributed to the Justice Dept. head of antitrust prosecution, Jonathon Kanter)

    Somehow that quote reminds of a certain ex-president’s declaration: “I am not a crook”…

    1. ambrit

      At least Dick Nixon understood and occasionally posessed ‘gravitas.’ Nixon even had the balls to poke a little fun at himself when he went on “Laugh In” two months before the 1968 election.
      Now, Bill Clinton was the fruition of the trivialization of politics in America. “I did not have sexual intercourse with that woman.” I guess blow jobs don’t count.
      If Kanter had said “…chickenhawk club.” I would have believed him. (It’s always nice to know that ‘they’ aren’t trying to steal your wallet when ‘they’ have their hands in your pockets.)
      I’d say, stay safe, but you already know that.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have read a very complicated explanation as to why it is that in certain branches of Baptist Sharia Law, blowjobs do, indeed, ” not count”.

        It all depends on what the meaning of ” is” is.
        It all depends on what the meaning of “of” is.

  9. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: “Ocasio-Cortez Amps Up Democrats’ Feud Over Draft N.Y. House Map” [Bloomberg].

    OMG. I have been obsessed with this “unfortunate” turn of new york democrat events ever since I heard about it earlier today. Some big names involved–mondaire jones, jamaal bowman, sean patrick maloney and even nancy pelosi’s speaker of the house heir apparent, hakeem jeffries.

    But the marquee event has got to be gerald nadler vs. carolyn maloney:

    Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney — who’ve each served in Congress for three decades and lead the powerful Judiciary and Oversight committees, respectively — currently represent districts that, under the new map, would substantially overlap. The knives are out: Maloney posted a picture Thursday showing her speaking at a Jewish Democratic Council of America event that featured a dejected-looking Nadler, slouched over, in her background.

    Get a load of this maloney tweet, complete with pic:

    Loved speaking at Jewish Democratic Council of America about my support of Israel & commitment to standing up against anti-Semitism.

    Last Congress, my Never Again Education Act was signed into law, establishing educational programming to teach students about the Holocaust


    Could it be that some seniority-driven, high ny democrat royalty is about to go down in spectacular flames? Wil the rest of the country finally catch a well-deserved break?

    1. Pat

      Jerry has annoyed me a lot over the last few years, but in general I still have to consider him one of the best of a bad bunch here in NY. (Seriously backing the Iran agreement alone has to garner him some credit and is part of the reason Carolyn Maloney can hold anything Jewish over his head.) Unfortunately Jerry has looked like he is not well since his disastrous Trump impeachment. He appears frailer every time he pops up. I don’t know if he can prevail. God save me from Carolyn Maloney.

      If you read Wikipedia you might think that Maloney is not a corporate tool but just remember her late husband left Goldman and formed his own investment company. Admittedly not the worst Maloney NY has representing them (Sean Patrick has had to work hard to get that title), but she keeps him on his toes.

      1. Librarian Guy

        “Jerry (Nadler) has looked like he is not well . . .” He’s “only” 73, but seriously overweight, & notoriously pooped his adult diapers at an event with Pelosi and others (easily found on YouTube and elsewhere), waddled off stage in the bulky diaper slowly, just pathetic. My dad recently died at age 87 after a precipitous “cascade” following some eye problems and 2 falls. He was mentally sharp until swiftly declining the last few weeks, definitely smarter and more coherent that poor Biden despite being 8 years older, just a month prior to the end. Everyone knows that DiFi is completely babbling senile and yet she still “serves”. Being 62 myself obviously I don’t want to be “ageist” but the Ruling Class exempts themselves from basic common sense stepping aside when they’ve lost capacity (RBG one of the biggest recent cautionary tales) & Nadler obviously needs to go.

  10. TBellT

    Re: Roe Impact

    I think for many people it’s just philosophical not a material concern, they’re not actually being forced to give birth so I don’t imagine it will have much impact on actual voting.

    But for women who are having their miscarriages audited I can imagine it’s very motivating. Given the age range maybe they were already inclined to vote Democrat anyway, but it might get them to hold their nose.

  11. Frank Dean

    re: The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday:

    What kind of organization puts “in recent weeks” in an explanatory dropdown, and then obviously never comes back to check? Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks.

    The explanation appears simple enough. Yes, there is a typo (The same two sentences in the “NOTE” appear twice.) The first sentence “Data in recent weeks are incomplete” is intended to describe a permanent situation, not a temporary one. The second sentence explains why this happens: “Only 60% of death records are submitted to NCHS within 10 days of the date of death, and completeness varies by jurisdiction.”

    It is not elegantly worded, but if you read both sentences, the meaning is clear.

    1. GramSci

      Yeah, most of us saw that too. l think Lambert’s point has ben restated repeatedly: this inattention to detail is a synecdoche for more general PMC neglect.

      1. ambrit

        I think that it was Dick Nixon who coined the phrase “benign neglect” to describe this tactic.
        The phrase I focus on is; “Suffering builds character.” Hah! I have done a little bit of “suffering” in my day and can attest that it has often brought out the worst in me.
        One of my neighbors has and runs a small machine shop. I wonder how hard it would be to produce pre-fab guillotine kits?

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “Benign neglect”

          I believe it was Nixon’s lackey, early neocon DP Moynihan.

  12. chris

    Wait, according to the NYT we didn’t hit 1 million dead from COVID until yesterday?!?!?!?

    What kind of data set are they using?

  13. griffen

    If there is a dustbin for one time hucksters serving in Congress, this instance the House of Representatives, please sweep Cawthorn into it with HRC’s presidential aspirations. Wheelchair or not, please find your voice on Newsmax or just go away for awhile.

    Couldn’t win that deeply red district in North Carolina? The people you supposedly represent probably weren’t ready for your tireless tweeting efforts, for starters. Let alone the weirdness about Washington behaviors.

      1. griffen

        I think even by real red Republican standards, Cawthorn is a special type of know nothing a$$holery. And yeah that takes some doing!

        1. ambrit

          This could also be part of the GOP Establishment trying to wrest control of the Party back from Trump.

  14. Geo

    Baby Formula: “Well before it reached crisis proportions, local media outlets from San Antonio, Texas, to Knoxville, Tennessee, to Columbus, Ohio”
    “Biden doesn’t read the news. He has people for that.”

    None of the people he has reading the news for him live in places like San Antonio, Knoxville, or Columbus though. If it ain’t happening in Libland it ain’t a problem they burden their little minds with.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      My spouse drove out to the big Meier’s in the west suburbs yesterday to find some formula for our granddaughter because our daughter was realizing that having a few weeks in reserve might not be enough. When my spouse got there, they were down to a few packages, and she was elbowed aside by a big guy who grabbed it all.

      I wonder how far we are, in places where sidearms are cool, of aisle standoffs resembling the Earps vs. the Clantons.

  15. Old Sovietologist

    Zelensky and the collective west will be holding their breath as Azov senior commanders Denis Prokopenko starts helping the Russians with their enquiries. Add in the five mini cauldrons developing and its been a very day for the Ukraine.

      1. Old Sovietologist

        Looks like the Russians have Kent McLellan aka Bone face, in custody

        He’s going to be an important source of information and living evidence of Washington’s nurturing of Neo-Nazi groups in the Ukraine

  16. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “HSBC AM global head of responsible investing: ‘Who cares if Miami is six metres under water in 100 years?’” [Investment Week]. HSBC Asset Management global head of responsible investing Stuart Kirk: “‘At a big bank like ours, what do people think the average loan length is?’ he asked. ‘It is six years. What happens to the planet in year seven is actually irrelevant to our loan book. For coal, what happens in year seven is actually irrelevant. Let’s get back to making money out of the transition.” More: “Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that is a really nice place. We will cope with it.”

    And an observation from a decade ago:

    “The very same corporate psychopaths, who probably caused the crisis by their self-seeking greed and avarice, are now advising governments on how to get out of the crisis. Further, if the corporate psychopaths theory of the global financial crisis is correct, then we are now far from the end of the crisis. Indeed, it is only the end of the beginning.”

    Then again, “This was OK, though, because it meant the end was near and that the faithful would have a reward better than eternal life after death. . . . At its core, the rapture is a promise that you will not be here to witness all of that chaos and darkness. . . . Everyone else gets to find out how bad things can really get here on Earth, as our species marches to oblivion.”


    Or, maybe a talking ape is just what it is. A talking ape. And as an ‘experiment’ in evolution, maybe talking apes are just another dead end, like many other ‘experiments’ before it.

  17. Mikel

    “Crypto utopians picture a world where mathematical truth becomes the overriding political authority…”

    Why stop at political authority? Add social authority to that.

    Have trouble reading people’s faces and determining emotional response? Facial recognition scanning people without their consent sound like a good idea. They algorithms will tell you how you are supposed to feel and respond.

    Have trouble speaking to speaking to someone you’re crushing on or just finding out more about them? You can follow them on a “social” media account. Controlled by algorithms.

    Have trouble dealing with confrontation? The algos can be the barrier.

    And so on…

  18. Old Sovietologist

    Is a window of opportunity about to open for a peace in the Ukraine with final liberation of Mariupol. Will the collective West take the opportunity to salvage something from the wreckage and agree to the Russian demands of six months ago. i.e.special status and autonomy of Donbass or its self-government within Ukraine, the neutral status of Independent outside NATO, the creation of a European security architecture “taking into account Russia’s concerns.”

    1. Bugs

      No. I think anyone with a working sense of ethics would like this to end now but both sides (I mean the US and Russia) have long term interests in play and only the Ukrainians could possibly end it, if they find a way out.

      1. GramSci

        Alas, the Ukrainians are irrelevant, and they know it. “They” will go along with whoever is winning. I’d like to think Russia is more humane than the US, but I fear whoever is winning will never be the Ukrainians.

        1. eg

          The Ukrainians will be the punchline of a new riff on the old chestnut, “who lost the 7 Years War? The Indians …”

  19. Mikel

    Lambert, you’re going to need a bigger water cooler:


    “…Officials in New York City said they were monitoring a suspected case of monkeypox, as an outbreak of a disease rarely detected outside of Africa was confirmed in more countries.

    The patient in New York was receiving care at Bellevue Hospital, where city health officials said they had performed preliminary tests to confirm whether the person had monkeypox. Globally, 37 cases have been confirmed, and 71 are under investigation in countries where monkeypox isn’t endemic, the World Health Organization said.

    Germany, Australia, France and Belgium reported their first cases Friday. There are two confirmed cases in Canada, and 17 suspected cases in Montreal alone…”

    I think it can be officially announced the outbreaks aren’t “rare” anymore.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the thing to worry about (repellent photos aside) is that monkeypox seems to be doubling. Otherwise, we cannot be sure of the mode of transmission (aerosol, droplet, fomite, all three?), we don’t have any idea of R0, no contact tracing is being done, and on and on and on. It would be useful to have some epidemiology for the current outbreak, or even some anecdotes, but unless I have missed it, we don’t even have that. So we also have no specific advice to give on how to avoid it, except for masking, avoiding people, and (for the fomites) washing one’s hands.

      Of course, if we were willing to prevent international air travel from being a vector by imposing reasonable quarantine requirements, we wouldn’t keep having these outbreaks, but “live your life.”

    2. lance ringquist

      its easy to trace the causes of the outbreaks of pandemics. and of course let’er rip, if not the profits for the parasites suffer.


      “Free trade agreements and other neoliberal economic rules grant excessive privileges to transnational corporations, elevating their narrow interests above people’s livelihoods and the environment. Beyond mere economic prescriptions, neoliberalism also embraces repressive and anti-democratic measures.”

  20. hemeantwell

    Re covid anxiety. I can only agree with criticism of attempts to medicalize worry about objective dangers. But there’s a more interesting angle that I’ve probably brought up before here but is worth repeating. It at least used to be the case that, following Anna Freud, psychoanalysts would distinguish between fear of an objective threat, like covid, and anxiety over associated responses welling up. One of the best examples of this was Simmel’s idea that soldiers who were severely traumatized by war were not only overwhelmed by the shock of combat. They were also immersed in a confused state of helpless rage over having been forced into such a horrible situations, as in “how could you have possibly allowed this to happen to me?!” Feeling murderous rage towards someone you depend on while simultaneously feeling helpless is hard to square.

    Whether that applied across all war trauma cases, I dunno. War is hell, and especially with the focus on sustained artillery bombardment in the Ukraine it’s tempting to think of people as being neurologically burned out in some way. But in the current mess, any NC regular can understand why people might find themselves in a quandary similar to the war traumatized. There are a lot of people out there who are not used to feeling angry who have every reason to be outraged. Hence, anxiety. It is to the immense discredit of people considering this question that they don’t appear to be capable of, or willing to consider anxiety in relation to a failed national response to this crisis.

  21. Jason Boxman

    That’s scary; The UK ONS does have data on long-COVID relative to times infected. Now that we have billing codes(!!) in the US for COVID, we’ll soon have our own such data in the next 18 months or so. If only we had a national health care system.

    By infection six, your risk is over 50%! And that can happen in a couple of years, given how easily it is to get reinfected.

    Live you life!

    1. Samuel Conner

      Live your lives with moxie, punks!

      But stay away from poxy monks.

      And at all costs, avoid monkeypox.

  22. Bugs

    Thanks for the Inuit link. Sent to my very good friend who just moved up there. Hopefully it can get bigger. She’s a real activist.

  23. antidlc

    So why the quick reaction to monkeypox? The first case in the US was confirmed on 5/18.

    And in no time, the government orders $119 millon of monkeypox vaccines.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      If it leaves scars like smallpox, the private equity boys that own the plastic surgery franchises will be lobbying to let ‘er rip.

      Thus is America in 2022.

      1. Mikel

        If it’s in as many places as it is in in Europe, I’d doubt it’s limited to a couple of states in the
        And if it’s in NYC — that’s not some backwater no one ever goes to.

    2. Mikel

      Once it gets used to being in the human body more than its ever been before it could mutate more.
      There’s already a variant that’s 10% fatality rate out there and “luck” that so far the reports are of the variant with the lesser fatality rate.

      While this variant is survivable, what if the immune system will have taken a whipping? Scabs might not be the only thing that lingers.
      And old opportunistic Covid is still out there.

      1. chris

        Yes, the “twin-demic” is what many of us have been worried about. It could be flu or this weird hepatitis or maybe some strange pox. But the idea of a one-two punch has been around for a while and certainly discussed here.

        The CDC website for monkey pox is replete with the famous “large droplet transmission” description. No idea how true that is. But after going through so much resistance from COVID being airborne, I can only imagine we’ll learn what this virus really does if it gets a foothold in the US.

  24. super extra

    Placing the pb&j link under “Obama’s Legacy”… woof Lambert. Tough but fair

  25. Richard H Caldwell

    “Yes, if you want somebody to underestimate you (and get them to tell you the same thing over and over again so you can check their story for inconsistencies) do exactly as Trump did.”

    Arch in the extreme, and probably correct, sadly. You never disappoint.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      If you want to change the course of a boring nonconversation, mention an injury. A hangnail will do. Try this when you’re not at home.

  26. ChrisRUEcon



    Paging Skippy, and all the Ozzies!

    How’s is looking folks?!

    Are Australia and the world finally going to be rid of the Murdoch Morrison regime?!


    Please comment here. I’ll be following as best I can on the hellverse known as #Twitter and a few other sites!


      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Finding out a whole lot about Boothby and Lingiari seats! LOL


        1. ChrisRUEcon


          Looks like the Morrison era is over!

          About 28% of results are in … click LiveTV link above to follow if you like.

  27. lance ringquist

    what Raimondo did to rhode island was criminal. she is a nafta billy clinton clone to her core.

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