2:00PM Water Cooler 5/25/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

This is Tanager week at Naked Capitalism. From the Dominican Republic.

“Sparrow ID Guides from Macaulay Library and Bird Academy” [The Cornell Lab of Ornithology]. Free downloads. “Sparrows are a challenge to birders of all skill levels because they’re often skulky and hard to see. At first they seem like dull brown birds, but when you get a good look, they show beautiful and intricate patterns on their feathers. Because many species are hard to see, they are sought after by avid listers and those who appreciate the beauty of birds. Whether you’re at home or out in the field, these helpful four-sheet sparrow reference guides have full-color photos of eastern, central, western and widespread sparrows.” • Maybe I should have a sparrows week….

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

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

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

Biden Adminstration

“Joe Biden pleads for gun control after 19 children killed in Texas shooting” [Financial Times]. • What’s the issue? We need to learn to live with the shootings and perform personal risk assessments.


Totally not an indication of manpower problems.


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GA: “Georgia’s Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker will face off in key US Senate race, CNN projects” [CNN]. “Walker, 60, who was urged to run by former President Donald Trump, is a political newcomer — but a celebrity in the state where he won the 1982 Heisman trophy as one of college football’s greatest running backs of all time at the University of Georgia. His Senate run opened the candidate to scrutiny of his personal life, including the resurfacing of allegations of domestic violence and threats against former romantic partners. Still, Walker breezed through the primary, skipping debates and forums that would have forced him to take clear policy positions and answer tough questions…. Warnock preaches at Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and has a long record as a civil rights champion. Walker, meanwhile, has long expressed ambivalence about racial issues”

GA: “Georgia Democrats signal brutal ad campaign against Herschel Walker as high-stakes Senate race begins” [NBC]. “In a hostile welcome to the general election, the Democratic Party of Georgia released a web video featuring a montage of TV news clips and torn-from-the-headlines controversies about Walker’s past and present — from campaign finance issues to his questioning of evolution to exaggerations about his education to questionable health products and a dubious mist he promoted as a Covid cure. ‘Georgians deserve a senator who is up for the job,’ reads the on-screen text. ‘Herschel Walker has proven he’s not.’ Running 1 minute and 18 seconds, the web ad doesn’t even touch the issues of domestic violence that surfaced during the primary. But Democrats promise those hits are coming as part of a deluge of attack ads to help Sen. Raphael Warnock survive what’s shaping up to be a tough election year for Democrats. Walker’s campaign and supporters are bracing for it and say they stand ready to unload on Warnock with whatever it takes, a pledge that could make the swing-state contest — which could decide the balance of power in the evenly divided Senate — cost $150 million to $200 million, according to estimates from Democratic and Republican consultants familiar with the race. Walker, for his part, is already running an anti-Warnock ad on digital and connected TVs.”

GA: 3.4%, thank heavens:

PA: “After Stroke, Doctors Look at Fetterman’s Campaign Trail Prospects” [New York Times]. “What really is the prognosis for John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate nominee from Pennsylvania who had a stroke on May 13?… Medical specialists asked questions about Mr. Fetterman’s treatment with a defibrillator. They say it would make sense only if he has a different condition that puts him at risk of sudden death, like cardiomyopathy — a weakened heart muscle. Such a heart condition may have caused the blood clot. Or, the doctors say the campaign could be correct about afib causing the clot. Thrombectomy, the method likely used to remove the clot, also indicates that Mr. Fetterman experienced more than a tiny stroke, although prompt treatment may have averted damage and saved his brain.” • Times “just asking questions.” I mean, DIck Cheney was Vice President for eight years, and he didn’t have a heart at all.

TX: “Closely watched Democratic primary in Texas’ 28th District remains too close to call” [NPR]. “A closely watched runoff election in South Texas between incumbent Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros remained too close to call as of Wednesday morning, according to The Associated Press. As of 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, just 175 votes separated the two candidates.” • Although, in a Buttigieg-like move, Cuellar declared victory before the official count was released. Commentary:


Well, is it better that Democrats not deliver anything because they’re out of power, or is it better that Democrats be in power, and not deliver anything because Manchin Cuellar “denies” the leadership his vote? The latter, obviously, because of fundraising.


“National Dems are calling in a new communications expert: Eric Adams” [Politico]. “But the city’s 110th mayor, who took office in January, is assuming a more influential role in the national Democratic Party as a leader whose motto is “get stuff done” while communicating those accomplishments to voters. Case in point: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, just had Adams speak at the DCCC’s Chairman’s Issues Conference and Weekend in the city on Saturday. Last weekend’s DCCC conference was “very much about helping the Democrats get control of their messaging challenges,” according to one person who attended the event. That they would turn to Adams — a moderate Democrat and retired NYPD captain who was a registered Republican from 1995 through 2002 — to do that says as much about the party’s direction as any of the competitive primaries playing out this year.” • Former Republican? Liberalgasm!

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.

* * *

They’re not gonna hire you, Matt:

Republican Funhouse

“GOP frustration builds with Freedom Caucus floor tactics” [The Hill]. “[Members of the House Freedom Caucus] have forced recorded votes on normally noncontroversial bills on the suspension calendar, forcing lawmakers to hang around the chamber for hours to get their votes in rather than conduct other business…. Some GOP lawmakers are getting frustrated with the hard-line tactics of the conservative House Freedom Caucus…. [Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.)] said that he told the Freedom Caucus members: ‘​​I’m just telling y’all, just giving you a heads up, you’re getting a lot of ill will around here. This stuff will come back to you. You just can’t do this to people and think that they’re not going to remember it.’…. Bills and resolutions considered under suspension of the rules have historically passed by voice vote, often with few members in the House chamber. They account for the majority of bills passed in modern Congresses. But Freedom Caucus members last year started demanding recorded votes for those bills, drastically changing the pace of floor action. Perry and Roy in a joint interview argued that most all bills deserve a recorded vote, that it gives more time for members to review the legislation and that leadership often sneaks through controversial bills as suspension bills. Members should not be considered as on record supporting a bill that passed by voice vote if they did not get a chance to vote on it, they say. ‘What ought to happen in this body, irrespective of what we’re doing at any particular moment, is we ought to have a consensus on a fair way to move bills through appropriately, where we start with the default position of voting, and you’re only moving something by voice or consent when there’s universal agreement that is unobjectionable,’ Roy said. Freedom Caucus members have also argued that the tactic helps slow down and delay Democrats’ agenda.”


“Hillary Clinton personally approved plan to share Trump-Russia allegation with the press in 2016, campaign manager says” [CNN]. “Hillary Clinton personally approved her campaign’s plans in fall 2016 to share information with a reporter about an uncorroborated alleged server backchannel between Donald Trump and a top Russian bank, her former campaign manager testified Friday in federal court. Robby Mook said he attended a meeting with other senior campaign officials where they learned about strange cyberactivity that suggested a relationship between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which is based in Moscow. The group decided to share the information with a reporter, and Mook subsequently ran that decision by Clinton herself. ‘We discussed it with Hillary,’ Mook said, later adding that ‘she agreed with the decision.'” • How it works:

2020 Post Mortem


Ari Rabin-Havt, The Fighting Soul: On the Road with Bernie Sanders. Hat tip, barbarian critic.

Obama Legacy

Fierce urgency:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“GOP Ideologues Keep Flopping In Their Efforts To Take Over School Boards” [HuffPo]. “Conservative Republicans running for school boards in North Carolina and New York overwhelmingly lost their elections Tuesday night, the latest sign that the GOP’s effort to wage a sweeping anti-LGBTQ, anti-Black culture war on public schools is failing…. These races generated a ‘huge swell in turnout,’ reported the Times Union, which it attributed to parents’ strong rejection of right-wing ‘take back our schools’ candidates…. It’s a trend that’s been playing out for months. Earlier in May, conservative school board candidates all across Montana overwhelmingly lost. Progressive school board candidates trounced in New Hampshire in March, even in conservative towns. In Wisconsin, the results were mixed, but a number of conservative candidates lost despite significant funding. In the town of Eau Claire, for example, all three right-wing school board candidates who ran on anti-LGBTQ platforms lost to incumbents and their allies.”


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.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

The train is still rolling. 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 107,000 * 6 = 642,000, i.e. not gamed.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:

Rebound from the dip. We’ll probably see another dip after Memorial Day weekend. 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:

Down (for both north and south systems). Readers suggest that this reflects the colleges and universities closing for the summer; commencement for BC was May 23, BU’s May 22; Harvard’s is tomorrow. May 25. So I think readaers are correct.

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:

The South is up. 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. May 4? 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).

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

Holy moley, California! Meanwhile, New England improves (except for New Hampshire). Pennsylvania reddens. Midwest improves. Very 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:

East coast, West Coast, and Midwest are all red.

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!”):

Less and less green.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,029,524 1,029,121. 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):

Big jump in the UK and France! Why both together? Coincidence? (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured durable goods increased 0.4% month-over-month to $265.3 billion in April of 2022, following a downwardly revised 0.6% rise in March and below forecasts of 0.6%, in a sign business spending moderated.”

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Retail: “More Horrors Await After $550 Billion Retail Earnings Meltdown” [Bloomberg]. Great headline. “Soaring costs and swollen inventories have retailers on the ropes, and investors fear that the punishment won’t ease anytime soon. With companies from Costco Wholesale Corp. to Dollar General Corp. and Best Buy Co. set to report earnings next week, investors are bracing for more bad news after a disastrous few days that sent giants like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. to their worst stock-price drops since 1987. In all, some $550 billion in market value was erased from consumer stocks over the past five days.”

The Bezzle: “ALTIF Transcripts: Cryptocalypse Now!” (interview) [Izabella Kaminska, The Blind Spot]. “Personally, I think that sort of era of cheap money has come to an end. And with that the first domino to fall is going to be the most speculative part of the market, which was crypto, which depends essentially on an incredibly pro risk-on attitude. And when money gets tighter than like a CDO, I see as like the first tranche of global liquidity getting mopped up…. I think it’s like a cross between 2008 and dot.com. It’s like the perfect fusion of those two crises, isn’t it? Because on the one hand, the similarities of 2008 are the financial engineering and this idea that we had created systems that were totally immune from, like conventional risks in the financial system. And then the other side of it is this sort of casino style, you know, money printing world of dot com era where everyone was basically printing their own currency as well, but in the form of stock, and using it to pay out their employees or whatever. And that came to a grinding halt, if you recall, also within the tightening cycle of the Fed. So I think there is a common sort of similarity between those two and it’s merged into the crypto crisis. The difference this time round is whether it’s more contained. And I think maybe there is a fair argument to say that it hasn’t got to the systemic stage. In fact, I would say in some ways cryptos operated like a honeypot attracting the worst of like financial speculation and taking it outside of the conventional core financial system. And it remained quite gated….” • Interesting interview.

Mr. Market: Because what are friends for:

Thank heavens this guy has stayed small-scale…

Mr. Market: “Global Business Is Enduring a Synchronized Slowdown: Eco Week” [Bloomberg]. “Days after global finance chiefs described the widespread economic fallout inflicted by Russia’s war in Ukraine, business surveys may show an increasingly synchronized slowdown…. Surveys of economists on the probable outcomes of 15 gauges of the indicators from the US and across Europe predict a decline in every single one.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 13 Extreme Fear (previous close: 13 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 15 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 25 at 1:35 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Volcanoes. After a very active first part of 2022, volcanic activity has slowed down” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Under the Influence

Who could have known:

The Gallery

The garden path:

Class Warfare

“The Gentrification of Layaway” [The Atlantic]. “A couple of years ago, I was buying a top from a major retailer online. It wasn’t particularly expensive—less than $100—but when I was going to check out, I was offered—much as I was at my local V.I.M. in the ’90s—the ‘opportunity’ to finance my purchase over four incredibly affordable installments, this time using a service called Klarna. I was tickled: ‘They basically gentrified layaway,’ I texted a friend…. From a certain perspective, buy now, pay later (BNPL) services like Klarna and Afterpay are—like gentrified neighborhoods—upgrades from layaway. You can get your item immediately and pay for it over time. … The irony is that while layaway might have been stigmatized as a service for the “poor,” no one who used it was getting into debt. You brought your item home when you were done paying for it. Plain and simple…. What’s particularly seductive about BNPL is that you not only have the immediate satisfaction of getting the item, but it is pitched to fiscally uneducated young people as a responsible decision.” • Includes a good overview of layaway.

News of the Wired

“Chimpanzees produce diverse vocal sequences with ordered and recombinatorial properties” [Nature]. “The origins of human language remains a major question in evolutionary science. Unique to human language is the capacity to flexibly recombine a limited sound set into words and hierarchical sequences, generating endlessly new sentences. … Chimpanzees produced 390 unique vocal sequences. Most vocal units emitted singly were also emitted in two-unit sequences (bigrams), which in turn were embedded into three-unit sequences (trigrams). Bigrams showed positional and transitional regularities within trigrams with certain bigrams predictably occurring in either head or tail positions in trigrams, and predictably co-occurring with specific other units. From a purely structural perspective, the capacity to organize single units into structured sequences offers a versatile system potentially suitable for expansive meaning generation…. An important next step is to assess whether the production of a large diversity of sequences with ordering properties actually promotes versatile meaning generation.” • More research needed!

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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: “We have a Bougainvillea, but it kind of hulks in a very large clump in the backyard. House sparrows absolutely love it. Well, for that matter, so do all shapes and forms of wildlife from our neighborhood; skunks, opossums, and raccoons come to mind—not to mention cats. I think WE would like it better if we could get it to do something like this.”

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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. Louis Fyne

    when Henry Kissinger is more dovish than Bernie Sanders…. we are in the worst timeline in the multiverse

    1. XXYY

      TBH, Sanders has always been kind of a centrist when it comes to foreign policy. His domestic policy has usually been quite good, but he hews very much to the Deep State agenda once he leaves US shores.

      I don’t know if this is a consequence of coming up as a small state municipal mayor, or just inexperience in the international world, or what.

      Maybe he’s just picking his battles, and feels he can only take on one giant vampire squid at a time.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That is probably so. If other people want the foreign policy battle picked, other people may have to grow a big enough angry enough movement to torture and terrorise the DC FedRegime Government into picking it.

      2. Jacob Hatch

        He’s serving his base, Vermont is both civilian and military weapons manufacturing base.

      3. Jessica

        Bernie is awful on Ukraine, but he was excellent on the US-backed coup in Bolivia. In that case, he had met Evo Morales. This suggests the genuine lack of knowledge is a factor.
        Also, it is much harder to propagandize people into believing falsehoods about domestic affairs they can see with their own eyes, but much easier to convince people all manner of nonsense about foreign affairs that they do not have direct personal experience of. (For example, Saint Zelenski)
        So if you are going to have the entire propaganda apparatus of the PMC liberals and the right-wing against you, domestic issues are easier to fight.
        Having said that, his conversion from 2016 working class candidate to 2020 idpol and his caving in to DNC cheating is not forgiveable.
        Perhaps he proves the limits of electoral politics in the absence of broad social movements. If he were the kind of person who had a spine when it counted, he wouldn’t have been available to be a presidential candidate. Dennis Kucinich and Paul Wellstone are two examples of how he might have been sidelined.

    2. TimD

      A broken clock is right twice a day. Making a deal is better than having more people killed and more lives disrupted.

      How many dead Ukrainians does it take to beat up a Vlad?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The establishment would probably find it more embarrassing to assassinate Kissinger than to assassinate Sanders. So Sanders will be more careful not to go too far off the reservation. He is one of many people who learned the lesson which the Nazi PaperClipper Deep State taught over and over and over again by killing Kennedy, X, King, Kennedy, and numerous less-famous others. And always with controlled-dissident house-radical operatives like Noam Chomsky always on hand to keep this issue obscured and confused.

  2. super extra

    re Zelensky-jugend:

    Wonder if the western journalists doing these stories are gagged/NDA’d from discussing the wider implications of this, or if they’re merely saving the details for future book deals. I guess it is possible they could be shephered around by UA military forces and taking what they see at face value but it’s like the stories about giving the molotov cocktail trianing to work-from-home moms in Kiev in the opening week. What serious army does this stuff?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or a country which expects years of RussiaNational Imperial Revanchism to come.

    1. Safety First

      I highly doubt there are any mainstream journalists left who would ever even think of independently investigating to ferret out the facts, as it were. These people have been self-selecting for decades to be compliant and obedient stooges slash mouthpieces, and especially with the newspaper apocalypse and the transformation of the traditional wire services you’re just not going to have anybody other than independent Youtube-type personalities trying to gonzo it up in the name of some truth-searching.

      Besides which, editors and producers would be truly stupid to send such a person over in the first place. They’ve been self-selecting for decades too.

      There is an interesting contrast here as to how the US media – still largely government-compliant, or at least government-friendly, but far more difficult to wrangle effectively – used to work during, say, the Korean War. I personally recommend “Selling the Korean War” by Steven Casey for an absolutely fascinating look at how US media coverage evolved over the first year of that conflict.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I don’t see them as passive script readers doing what they’re told, but instead salesmen/actors competing to be the top dog. This morning’s news, after the Texas tragedy, was a classic example. The Joe and Mike show was a hoot despite the horror of what they were talking about. The screen was split between Joe, ranting and foaming at the mouth on one side, and Mika with an ever-changing reaction shot next to him. She mugged one expression after another, all quite familiar by this time after so many years on the toob. And then there’s Jake Tapper, who snapped in mere seconds yesterday afternoon from being the enthusiastic war salesman, talking to some Ukrainian claiming to have a video of a kamikaze drone taking out a Russian tank. When the Texas story hit, he turned on a dime to the grave, empathetic Jake, tilting his head sensitively to one side.

        “Don’t Look Up” was anything but over the top.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I’d like to think that there are still high ranking officers in Ukraine that raised objections to releasing automatic weapons to everyone or plain impressing males from traffic stops. Soldier who think that it’s their job to make sure mothers don’t have to throw molotov’s cocktails on 45-ton machines of destruction not kids to man check points.

      I also do understand from multiple sources that there were a lot of old school Soviet era officers in Ukraine that were opposed to NATO ways (and resisted) but who were purged during the last few years. So it may be that the current HQ level people are more likely to really believe wars are won in twitter-tok.

      1. hk

        Makes you wonder how old (and experienced even in general military matters) the so-called high ranking officers in the current Ukrainian military are….

      2. Samuel Conner

        > but who were purged during the last few years

        This suggests that the current meme, that compares Ukraine to plucky Finland in the successful early stages of the Winter War, has it somewhat backwards. And the Rs are reported (Scott Ritter was especially impressed by this, early on) to be using a force numerically smaller than the U forces.

        Lots of grist for study by future military historians, on top of all the grist for study by future historians of civil governance and public health policy.

      3. Safety First

        To be completely fair – the Soviet Union officially died in 1991, more than 30 years ago. If you had been a 30-year old mid-level officer then, and somehow stuck with the army (Russian or Ukrainian) through the “Roarin’ 90s”, then you’re still reaching retirement age right about now. Any senior officers from that era would have been similarly sent out to pasture at least a decade ago if not two.

        So I suspect regardless of whether NATO had been a thing in Ukraine or not, there would just not be any Soviet-era guys in the service right now, unless they’d been fresh-faced lieutenants or something. But. There is the question of legacy. In the Russian army, despite all the ups and downs, ultimately it was the Soviet era guys who taught the current generation of guys what to do and how to do it, and this then got seasoned with the experience of the Second Chechen War, Ossetia and Syria, plus “lessons learned” in LDNR. This would not have been the case in Ukraine, where until 2014 the army was basically completely destroyed – when the war first began, the new defence minister basically said at his first press conference that they can put at most 6,000 guys in the field with equipment – and then, post-2014, everything gradually shifted to NATO standards and NATO instructors. Not to denigrate any of Ukraine’s current generals, or to laud them as they do in the West, but any trace of Soviet-era heritage should have been completely erased by both these factors.

        And yes, you are right, there must also have been a political component, whether open purges or just promoting the right (wrong) people. On the other hand, I am given to understand that most of the generals who went through the defeats of 2014-2015 against LDNR (Ilovajsk, Debal’tsevo) are still in senior positions, so who knows. My broader point, however, and here is one of those moments where I disagreed with Scott Ritter’s takes, is that this war came too late for any actual old school officers to be physically present, never mind being purged.

        It is an interesting experiment though, however macabre that sounds, in having a Soviet-legacy army come up against a “New Model” NATO-trained army and see what happens. Of course, it is not a properly controlled experiment, because from the outset Russia had the strategic advantage in things like air and naval dominance, long range striking capability, et cetera. Nevertheless…

          1. hk

            Extremely insightful!! I did think that the way the war was developing had a lot of resemblance to World War 1 rather than 2, and this explains why and how things are developing that way. Of course, one major component of this is the scarcity of trained manpower in combat units: the actual size of the combat troops who can be relied upon in a real war (i.e. professional soldiers) has to be very small compared to the rest of the army in pretty much every army today, which was the story behind why divisions became brigades, etc (and given that Russia can only commit a part of their army to Ukraine, their numbers have to be very small indeed relatively speaking and too many casualties among them is unacceptable.). These reorganizations mean that the effective combat “durability” of these mini-combined arms units has to be pretty small: even one hundred killed and wounded in a reinforced battalion should be enough to severely curtail its fighting power. So far more reliance on firepower and cautious methodical advance to conserve manpower, as we have been noticing.

            I don’t think this means Russia is “not winning” or whatever: there is no way Ukraine, or possibly, even the entire NATO could actually put up with this sort of warfare given the state of their armies and the relative scarcity of expendable resources (ammunition, spare parts, and so forth, that must be being churned through quite quickly). But the inevitable slowdown of the operational pace means that the character of the (eventual) political settlement will be dramatically different, although I can’t really speculate how that might be affected.

            1. Yves Smith

              This piece is about general strategies and does not include facts on the ground. Ukraine forces in the Donbass republics have the most fortified bunkers outside North Korea. Therefore the war in that region was always going to be attritional. The author of the tweetstorm acts like it’s a bug, not a feature.

              1. hk

                I’d suspect that, should wars between near peer powers take place more frequently, this may well become endemic.

                Every major army lacks manpower for combat arms. The turn to technology is both a solution to and a cause for this. Technology became necessary to let each person handle work of several, but that demands both more training and more support personnel so that the size of actual combat troops relative to the rest of the army becomes ever smaller. There are just two ways to wage war with an armylike this, it seems to me, if you don’t want to use up this valuable resource. One is shock and awe, relying on overwhelming firepower to finish the adversary quickly. If last 20 years taught us about wars, it is that shock and awe doesn’t really work if the other side does not cooperate. Besides, it’s not clear to me that there are too many potential conflicts where this is even possible just on technological/material basis–not that many instances of completely mismatched adversaries. The other possibility would be the kind of attritional warfare described by the author: it’s not exactly a repeat of WW1 since you are not using up manpower like water. But you are substituting massive firepower employed over time to wear down the other side so that you expose your valuable cadre less. In these cases, the adversary would not be so weak that they can be plausibly “shock and awed” but certainly unable to keep up with sustained firefight with their own material or manpower. The catch would be that it would be a slow going that would open up much higher likelihood of unexpected events, including those in nonmilitary realm.

                This scenario does seem to apply to the current Russia-Ukraine conflict pretty well. While the Russian army might be much stronger overall, its other commitments and incomplete modernization and professionization make preservation of the cadres over medium to long term even more important, once it becomes clear that there would be a medium term. Since Ukrainian army is quite large, much modernized with western aid, and is well entrenched, while Russia’s resources are limited (for reasons above) “shock and awe” would not have been feasible. I suspect there were hopes of some Ukrainian cooperation, eg defections and such, and some such events apparently did take place only to be thwarted by the regime. It seems to me that an attritional war aimed at grinding down the other side systematically over time with firepower while taking fewer risks that could expose your cadres to casualties then becomes an attractive approach.

        1. Polar Socialist

          I think it was Atlantic Council complaining about problems with NATO transfer in 2018 or so I was referring to. Didn’t know Ritter had talked about this.

          I agree with your points, though I must clarify that when writing “old school Soviet era” officers I was thinking about the generation of Ukrainian officers trained by actual Soviet era officers before 2014. I don’t know which ones Atlantic Council was complaining about, but as you point out, it most likely was the first generation of indigenous Ukrainian officers – some of whom switched allegiances in 2014, at least in Crimea.

    3. hk

      “What serious army does this stuff?”

      Those featured in 3rd rate movies. Oh, and the SS in 1945.

      What does weird me out, at least, is that many people who claimed child soldiers in SE Asia and Africa seem to think this sort of stuff is not only “acceptable,” but downright admirable.

      1. super extra

        wew good point. what’s the venn overlap between Kony 2012 people and those who uncritically eat up the jugend stories? probably a lot?

        1. hk

          Oops, left out half of what I wanted to say, but I guess what I meant was obvious enough. I’ve know the same people who decried the use of child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Uganda talk grandiosely about the Ukrainian cause. To their credit, I will say that I hadn’t explicitly brought up the propaganda featuring child soldiers produced by Ukrainians, but I have a hunch that they’ll find some way to excuse that stuff. So child soldiers are both OK and heroic if its the “righteous” cause, i.e. the cause that “I believe in”? Who’s to say that followers of Taylor and Kony believed in them any less than the Ukrainians following Zelensky? This, in turn, gets into the convenient morality of a lot of people these days: X is evil…except when people I like do it (and it’s especially heinous if the perpetrators are people whom I don’t like). The presumption that we know what’s right, and moreover, the other side must be being willfully evil, seems to be at the root of a lot of willful blindness/hypocrisy.

    1. doug

      2 million dollars for 2 years of service to Israel. They spent the same in Durham NC for another candidate. Somehow I don’t like foreign countries deciding on who is in our congress. But of course, nothing can be done.

      1. Pat

        I have always found those screaming about Russia who didn’t care about AIPAC to be oddly hypocritical about foreign countries influencing elections.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Cuellar’s primary challenger ( whose name I forget) could form a Legal Abortion Party to run against Cuellar in “his” district, in order to get him defeated. If it works, the same thing could be done to every Christian Sharia Law Democrat against legal abortion. Destroy them from politics one by one. Degrade and attrit the Democratic Party down to a size where the Red Gingriches can conquer it and make it their own, or to a size where the Red Gingriches can exterminate it and build something better on the vacated political space.

  3. digi_owl

    Weird seeing Klarna getting mentioned, didn’t know they had expanded that far.

    Oh, And that sniplet about Bernie and Biden is very very weird indeed. It seems the people ostensibly in charge in USA are a very broken bunch.

    1. anon y'mouse

      if that was done at all deliberately and not just from Biden’s brain farts, then it’s obvious to any woman or anyone ever picked on by a bully what was going on.

      “i can do humiliating things to you and you can’t avoid them or really prevent me. therefore, i win and will always win.”

      it wasn’t a sign of attraction. there was no hair sniffing.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        I don’t think there’s any if about it. Bernie’s good friend Joe was asserting dominance and it’s totally in character for Biden.

    2. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

      The Klarna thing is weird, but I’ve been seeing that kind of thing (mostly online) under a bunch of different names. I didn’t think much of it aside from the usual horror at which everything has been financialized (couldn’t you ‘finance’ a fast food burger in Argentina at one point when they were in their neoliberal ecstasy?). However, I do recall reading somewhere, and I’ll be damned if I remember where, that the amounts that are financed using these mini 4-payment buy now/pay later agreements are NOT taken into account when doing the numbers tracking consumer debt. THAT is truly horrifying – the fact that some numbers guy somewhere has found a way to take this whole chunk of garbage debt and slide it under the rug, all the while fleecing the consumers who thought it might be a good idea. Far as I can tell, most places don’t do layaway anymore.

      I considered one of those 4-pay options on a lark online (it was interest-free), but backed away quickly when they said no points would be accrued on the payment card. And the ones I see now certainly aren’t interest-free. No thanks.

      1. fjallstrom

        Klarna started in Sweden where 30 days to pay is standard for any invoice, in particular invoices to consumers. Klarna made that 15 days and earned metric tons of late fees.

        If they are expanding in your neighborhood it’s a bad sign. Odds are they are up to no good.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Of course I read years ago how some men in the later stages if their life will want to ‘play an away game’ but I think that anon y’mouse’s explanation the more likely. If Sanders had something, Biden would have made out that it was an accident and why was Bernie so sensitive anyway? Bully behaviour.

  4. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    The tragicomedy farce that is the talking ape evolutionary experiment has all the signs and symptoms of becoming completely unhinged, as the crises multiply and the hoped for solutions apparently remain nonexistent at the present moment in time. Even as future ‘solutions’, as in more of the same, are offered up as panaceas by the same class of individuals that are responsible for the current large scale planetary disorder.

    See for example, the Jeff Bezos alternative at 22:08:


    This is a standard representative response from the elite global “brain trust”, that is, the same individuals that want to digitally upload individual consciousness to a ‘metaverse’ in order to attain an immortality are devoid of any ethics and morals except that of the mythologized individual “self interest”, for example. The second failed assumption is the expectation that an alien civilization billions of years more advanced than our own is somehow motivated by the same primitive desires as billionaire talking apes. The hubris is astounding.

    Even as it takes a lifetime for an individual to sometimes gain what amounts to talking ape ‘wisdom’, the process at the larger social and cultural levels seems to be subject to a great amnesia and the eternal recurrence.

    i.) “Russia may be poor and unprepared for war, but she knows very well how to reply to (America’s) declaration of economic and financial pressure. Psychological and spiritual preparation for war will follow financial preparation; . . . . ; standards of living will be forced downward; . . . . ; none of the values that we hold worth fighting for will be secure. America cannot afford to spend billions and billions of dollars for unproductive purposes. . . . (and America) cannot prevent change in the world any more than (it) can prevent the tide from coming in or the sun from setting. But once America stands for opposition to change, we are lost. America will become the most-hated nation in the world. ‘

    ii.) “All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy NATO and America, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Vladimir Putin and Russia. They piled upon Vladimir Putin and Russia the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by the whole race from Adam down; and then, as if their chest had been a mortar, they burst their hot heart’s shell upon them.”

    iii.) As noted above, it takes a whole lifetime to learn “hard truths”and then they are apparently forgotten and squandered capriciously by the next generation of elite managers eager to fulfill past vendettas masquerading as ideological geostrategic objectives subject to the confirmation biases and group think of technocrats and managers alike.

    “. . . . It was a tragic error that “reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area and the personalities and habits of their leaders.”

    “Among the lessons he stressed: That for all its power, rationality alone will not save us. That humans may be well-intentioned but are not all-knowing. That we must seek to empathize with our enemies, rather than demonize them, not only to understand them but also to probe whether our assumptions are correct.”

    “Robert S. McNamara and the Evolution of Modern Management”


    iv.) Finally, as an amusing diversion??!! Is it time for Joe Biden to face the “hard truth”?

    Seems to me (“Got myself hung up on you. Seems to me, you don’t want to talk about it.”) that the Ukraine war business and the fixation on Putin has at least some of the characteristics of latent homosexuality/homoeroticism; where, “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”

    “Latent homosexuality can be defined as homosexual arousal which the individual is either unaware of or denies (West, 1977 ). Psychoanalysts use the concept of repressed or latent homosexuality to explain the emotional malaise and irrational attitudes displayed by some individuals who feel guilty about their erotic interests and struggle to deny and repress homosexual impulses. In fact, West ( 1977, p. 2 0 2 ) stated, ” when placed in a situation that threatens to excite their own unwanted homosexual thoughts, they overreact with panic or anger.”

    “Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal?”


    “Putin’s Annual Calendar Is Back As Are The Viral Shirtless Photos Of Him”


    “I’m Too Sexy” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5mtclwloEQ

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Too many Modern Industrial civilization people insist on confusing Industrial Civilization with humans in general. This is EuroWestern Civilization Chauvinism.

      The Indian Nations haven’t made this error. Nor did the Australian Aborigines. etc. etc. EuroWestern people who actually thought of Indians, Aborigines, etc. etc. as fully human would not make this mistake.

  5. Carolinian

    Latest from Pepe Escobar


    Zelensky will be fine. He’s protected by British and American special forces. The family is reportedly living in an $8 million mansion in Israel. He owns a $34 million villa in Miami Beach, and another in Tuscany. Average Ukrainians were lied to, robbed, and in many cases, murdered, by the Kiev gang he presides over – oligarchs, security service (SBU) fanatics, neo-Nazis. And those Ukrainians that remain (10 million have already fled) will continue to be treated as expendable.

    Plus he has a jugend.

    1. digi_owl

      So once the army finally folds, he will do like Ghani and abscond (i am assuming that the conga line of political dignitaries that have visited have settled the question of him still being in Kiev or not).

    2. hk

      It’s sad when you can meaningfully say that someone has worse morals than Hitler–who at least had the moral fiber to stick around in the fuehrerbunker and had the decency to shoot himself.

      1. anon y'mouse

        or did he?

        i don’t think Eisenhower or Hoover believed that.

        it made for a good film, though

        1. Safety First

          The Russians certainly believed it. And they had every incentive in the world to be triple-sure.

          But beyond that, let’s just quickly look at the facts. By the time Hitler is last recorded at his bunker (when he pins some medals on Folksturm boys), shortly after which the real or alleged suicide happens, the Red Army had not only surrounded Berlin itself, which it had done before commencing the assault, German defences in the city were also being split into multiple pieces, creating de-facto concentric encirclements. There was an attempt for a mass breakout – on foot! under fire! – two days later, but only some (unknown) number of individuals got through, and certainly no-one of the higher-ups, with the rest being shot down or having to go to ground locally. [Shirer claims “a good number” from the 500-600 participants escaped, but Beevor speaks of a “handful”, and in any case, most of them would still be on foot in Soviet-controlled territory for dozens of miles around. There was also a second breakout attempt from further west in the city, but that got almost completely splatted at the Spandau bridge.]

          So Hitler faking his own death and getting out on foot, especially in his physical condition, is extraordinarily unlikely. Flying out was also no longer an option – I believe the last flight in or out (using small aircraft) was 1-2 days before the suicide, but 1-2 days later Hitler’s personal pilot was one of the participants in the breakout attempt, which would have been silly if he could still have flown his plane out. Besides which the range for a Fieseler Storch aircraft under those conditions would have been 350km at the most, which means he would have had to land in American or British controlled territory at least once.

          In other words, let us suppose that every single survivor from the bunker is lying or was faked out by Hitler; let us suppose the Russians are rubbish at forensic and other investigations; let us suppose the Americans and the Brits themselves never bothered to check, never mind the Israelis when they started Nazi-hunting. The only realistic way in which Hitler, who is physically established to be in the bunker on April 29, could, on that day or at any later point in time, physically leave Berlin, is to employ Harry Potter level magical thinking for eight year olds. That isn’t meant to be personally insulting, though I loathe the Harry Potter franchise with a passion, but rather to point out that some conspiracy theories can be spotted as such because they quite literally have to ignore the laws of Physics or some such equivalent in order to function. There are plenty of prominent Nazis who did escape to South America and wherever else, however, one, pretty much none of them were in Berlin on April 29, and two, pretty much all of them had significant and documented (!) help from the Americans, the Vatican, or whoever else, which is partly how we can trace their movements today.

          1. Jessica

            He died in the bunker, but there is some question about whether he actually pulled the trigger himself or had to have one of his guards do it.

    3. Jacob Hatch

      HIs family is with Kolomoyskyi, as insurance on performance. They are there to rape the place to the last penny, then burn it to the ground.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Just because he presides over them doesn’t mean he controls them. I suspect they control him. I suspect they assassinated that Ukrainian peace negotiator very early in the process to send him a message that they will assassinate him too if he doesn’t become pro-nazi enough.

      And if his “protectors” are the same people who grew the Ukranazi groups to their current size and power, I suspect he knows that they will withdraw their protection from him if he undermines their pet ukranazis. And they will quietly inform their pet ukranazis that they have withdrawn their protection from Zelensky.

      And they have made very sure that Zelensky understands this. ” Nice little security detail you got there. Too bad if something was to happen to it.”

      1. John

        Actual President of Ukraine … not just some TV series … role of a lifetime … see all the politicians listening to me… role of a lifetime.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        Don’t have any real evidence to say why but this is totally my take on Zelensky.
        Trying to be a plucky National Hero while being told “Lie or Die.”
        Playing with a pair of deuces in a shark’s game.

      3. Jacob Hatch

        Kolomoyskyi, his acting boss (tv network) and money laundry boss (Z was K’s lawyer in charge of off-shore banking/washing of lucre) had Z in his employ when he took Azov from soccer hooligan gang on as his muscle and eventually turned them and other right wing factions into a parallel organ just like the SS was to the Wehrmacht. There is not a nice bone in the man, he’s just playing a role in a con-game that was set up for him a decade before.

  6. smashsc

    Re: Retail Horrors Meltdown

    Costco’s weekly deals emails have led with “Now Lower Prices” on large ticket items for the past 4-6 weeks. I’ll be curious whether it has worked in goosing sales…

    Re: Freedom Caucus floor tactics

    “forcing lawmakers to hang around the chamber for hours to get their votes in rather than conduct other business…” like the 5-hours per day fundraising calls they are contractually committed to?

    1. Louis Fyne

      in my neck of the woods, the Costcos raised prices on lots of grocery and home staple items by 12 – 15% around April 1.

      Presuming one step forward, two steps back for customers

      1. anon y'mouse

        they want those above ground pool kits, playhouses and the crappy outdoor furniture GONE by Sept.

        but they know you need to buy food and will keep coming back for that and can’t really avoid the higher prices.

        oh well, at least they supposedly pay their workforce pretty well.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well enough that Wall Street perennially tries to torture and terrorise Costco out of treating its employees better than Wall Street would like to see them be treated.

        2. Anthony G Stegman

          When one considers how much food is wasted in the US food price inflation can be easily offset by reducing the waste. Will higher prices be sufficient incentive to reduce food waste?

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            I think it depends on who (individual people / families? corporate entities? farmers? or ???) is wasting the food. What type of waste is found in supply chains? I’d be interested to know breakdowns if anyone has them.


            We don’t waste our food. We’ve definitely noticed food inflation on our staples. Started baking our own bread. More nutrition for lesser cost. Plus amazing what leftovers you can put into bread dough. And the experiments!! Even the bread flops get repurposed into something.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    RE: winning fantasy leagues

    I suppose if you’re lazy, paying an “expert” could help, but if you having a passing understanding of arithmetic, you could do fairly well without any knowledge of the underlying sport. Not all, but many fantasy leagues are won by having the highest cumulative total of various player stats at the end of the season. In baseball for example, fantasy leagues track total runs, home runs, stolen bases, RBIs, etc, but you don’t even need to know what an RBI is to win. If RBIs are tracked in column A for example, and your column A total is lagging, you just look at players who have a high individual column A total and add them to your team and drop those on your team who don’t. If you pay attention like that and have a little luck, it’s pretty easy to finish at or near the top. I’ve been in fantasy leagues for over a decade now and generally finish near the top despite never spending any time researching anything prior to the league start. Just having the feel of it will get you pretty far.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      At an individual level, all these guys are marginally different. The real trick is valuing the positions relative to the draft size. The 31st Shortstop isn’t that much worse than the best Shortstop, but the sixth best 3rd baseman usually doesn’t come close to the fifth best 3rd basemen.

      Brady Anderson “amazingly” hit 50 homeruns in 1996, but 1996 Anderson wouldn’t have started in the fantasy league or been only marginally better from the scoring aspect compared to the guy who would normally be picked there.

      Occasionally, historic seasons are out there. The Ravens defense could always go early, but if you picked any other defense until the very end, you were going to lose from week to week because you passed up a near pro-bowler receiver and wound up in guys who play 10 to 12 snaps a game.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Heh. With football defenses it’s even easier – if there’s no Ravens-equivalent defense available that you can use every week, just pick up whatever team defense that on any given week is playing the Jets.

        For the historic seasons, that where the roster churn comes in. I was lagging in a few offensive categories this year and picked up LA’s leadoff guy, Ward, who had been pretty pedestrian until the beginning of this year. I shot up in the standings not long after and if he keeps up the historic pace, I’ll keep him all year. If not, I’ll drop him and pick up the next hot guy off the waiver wire. No baseball knowledge necessary to do that – all you need to know is that five home runs in a week is more than none.

        Of course some actual sports knowledge can be very helpful. I never start anyone pitching in Colorado other than future hall of famers like Scherzer, Verlander, etc. Everyone else stays on the fantasy bench until their team is out of Denver. Pretty much every time I’ve strayed from that heuristic over the years, I have regretted it immediately.

  8. enoughisenough

    Why can’t we just offer to disband NATO, rather than Ukraine give up territory?

    NATO does not protect anyone – otherwise Russia wouldn’t have invaded, if it were such a deterrent to invasion.

    Ukraine right now proves the failure of NATO.

    1. digi_owl

      Because USA need its mercenaries to avoid having to call a draft next time it need to “police” some unruly locals.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Ukraine is not a member of NATO. NATO only exists in theory to deter Russia from invading a NATO country. So applying this ” if Russia invaded, then that shows NATO did not deter” logic to Ukraine is, I think , a “category error” if I correctly understand the term “category error”.

      If Russia does indeed invade a current NATO member, than it will be shown to be literally correct that NATO does not deter Russia anymore.

      But let us remember that the expansion of NATO was driven by Clinton and others to restore Russia to its former place as the “oppositional enemy”. And the expansion of NATO was very much a conspiracy driven by various East Europeans themselves, to keep NATO in existence and to keep America in its place as a Pitiful Helpless Giant with a hundred thousand hostages ( “soldiers”) still trapped in Europe.

      I know that antiAmericanitic culture-racist antiAmericanites don’t want to admit it, but NATO is a EUro-British conspiracy against America, to keep America enslaved to EUro-British affairs and concerns. A FREE America would unilaterally seccede from NATO without warning and without a care in the world for our EUro-British would-be slavemasters.

      Its time for America to become a runaway slave from the NATO Plantation.

      1. Librarian Guy

        Mostly agree . . . however, USA seems to be getting the better end of that stick viz Arms Sales, economic shock to the 99% of (codependent, alternately Sub & Dom) EUropeans currently, so I don’t think the US will drive the schism if anyone does. I suspect when the EUro puppets get sick of scarcity & want, there could be a breakaway. It really depends on how fully their political class controls the minions, & given the # & variety of EUro states I’m unable to hypothesize as to who will flee the failure & chaos first. US or Euro actors? Flip a coin, I guess.

      2. anon y'mouse

        our ruling classes re-merged with UK at the time of the robber barons, for mutual rape and pillage worldwide.

        so there’s no running away. most of us just didn’t get the memo and the UK makes a lot of noise pretending to be this little pet of ours when it really is something more like the tail wagging the dog, or an agreement between two wolves over how they’ll eat the lamb.

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    Joe Biden pleads

    Now Schumer isn’t even promising to hold a vote. I suspect they may be worried the GOP will be so loathsome they won’t lose Congress.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Do I correctly understand you to be saying that the Democrats are trying their hardest to throw election 2022 to the Republicans without making it too obvious?

  10. Henry Moon Pie

    “Harvard’s is tomorrow. May 25.”

    Just so no one gets their hopes up, it’s held outside in the [dignified voice] Tercentenary Theater, a patch of grass located between the hallowed columns of Widener Library and Mem Church. Even if it rains.

  11. jax

    Twelve-year-old Andrii and six-year-old Valentyn build check points

    I don’t think this necessarily legitimizes the idea of low manpower in Ukraine. It strikes me as more of the monumental propaganda pouring out of that nation in the form of “But think of the children!” I sometimes think there is an industry producing photographs of Ukrainian toddlers with bloody teddy bears held to their side. I know my feed fills up with Slava Ukraini! after each picture show of babes clutching their mother’s breasts on a train to Lviv.

    1. digi_owl

      It may well be that the majority of them photos have not been taken in Ukraine at all, or if so having been taken near Lviv rather than anywhere close to the actual fighting.

    2. Carolinian

      There’s a raft of PR firms working for the Ukraine government. They are selling Mad Av style the way they sell toothpaste.

      Hey it works for toothpaste.

      My library has a lobby display in favor of “peace in Ukraine.” In fact it’s so elaborate I’m tempted to ask if this anodyne message was supplied in a kit via an NGO. But clearly there’s an effort to make sure we are thinking about Ukraine 24/7. By some accounts it’s not working and the media and public are losing interest. However should the library sincerely and without external urging be taking up foreign affairs then Peace in Yemen might make a suitable sequel. It’s a little late for Peace in Syria where hundreds of thousands have reportedly died.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        ” Peace in Syria” was always code for “Jihadist Victory in Syria” and ” topple the Assad regime”.
        If you create a group called “Peace in Syria” it will immediately be infiltrated by the Jihadist enemies of civilization and by their DC FedRegime supporters.

  12. flora

    re: who could have known. (Little girls are taught to aspire to fantasies.) The first Dove soap “campaign for real beauty” commercial. utube.1+ minute.


    For more go to utube and type in “Dove Selfie” in the utube search bar. There are many great short videos about self perception of beauty and advertising’s distortion of real beauty.

    1. The Rev Kev

      There was a Dove TV ad on here in Oz recently which was about young girls and self image. It started with a hand holding a mobile with an image of a beautiful young girl on it but then the thumb pushes a slider at the bottom and as it does so, the girl’s image “de-ages” more and more until you are left with what appears to be a barely mature 11 year-old girl. The camera shifts to show that young girl holding the mobile and you realize that it was an ap to show a person what they would look like when they were older. But for that young girl, she is still that very young girl and no hope to be the girl that she hopes to be for years. It was actually very poignant. Wait, just found it-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME6hcvjOFR0 (15 secs)

      1. flora

        Thanks for that one. yikes! Glad I grew up before social media apps and AI could “tell” me 24/7 what I “would” be or “should” be.

  13. flora

    Failure is their superpower. This guy’s got a point.

    ” 1/x
    A thread on elite power gains in the midst of elite incompetence and decay:

    “Failure is their superpower.”

    I first realized this while thinking about the 2000-2003 California electricity crisis.

    By 2000, CA was importing more than 20% of electricity consumed. …”


    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      I disagree. Getting us to believe Failure is their superpower! is actually their superpower.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Helen E. Clark used to be the Prime Minster if New Zealand and was considered very progressive. My, how she has changed. But what if those countries, when threatened, say ‘Nah, we’re going with China instead. That is us you see walking out the door.’

        1. flora

          Or worse, going with RU since it looks like RU is contemplating pulling out of WHO and WTO. China is still a member of both. (The pressure of financial leverage by WTO and the IMF can be overwhelming to member countries in debt.)

        2. Greg

          That video doesn’t show her saying what the text purports it to show. If there’s a transcript that includes her actually calling for forced compliance, then I’d be keen to see it.

          As to auntie Helen being progressive – she was always a neoliberal. She was progressive in comparison to the naked privatisation-pushing asset strippers of the earlier 90s governments in New Zealand, but not particularly progressive in general.
          Her main progressive legacy was legalisation of same sex marriage and prostitution. Perfectly suited to being extremely market-capital oriented in all other things.

  14. Henry Moon Pie

    “Thank heavens this guy has stayed small-scale…”

    Turn it into an algo. A great accelerationist idea.

  15. Jason Boxman

    Another health insurance horror story, featuring Cigna:

    Wait ’till they roll out their other new trick we are just dealing with now:

    Step 1: go to doctor
    Step 2: Cigna processes bill eventually and you get a provider bill 2 months later
    Step 3: you pay bill the week it arrives
    Step 4: almost 6 months later, you get another letter from provider saying your payment is overdue, and a new EOB from Cigna showing they reversed their negotiated discount rate from your bill and applied a much smaller discount so now you are overdue the difference for a bill you already paid

    Cigna is NOT working.

    From a large company with Cigna insurance.

    And in the worst pandemic in modern history, what’s up for debate is just more of the same. The US is a failed state.

  16. Elizabeth

    It’s not just Cigna. Trinity Health operates the same way. I received a bill in April for an ER doc. I promptly paid it. ( I have Medicare). In. early May I received another bill with the same charge on it, along with other charges for the ER. I called customer rep. to indicate that I was being billed twice. Trinity admitted they received my April check, but that it had been” applied to other charges.” Long story short, I am still trying to resolve this. I don’t trust the MIC about anything. I know double billing when I see it. Trust is very hard to come by these days about anything

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If they sent this repeat-bill to you in the mail, could you make a case that this is ” mail fraud”? Could you submit this to the PostMaster General’s office of mail fraud to see if they will look into it? ( I know that Postmaster General T. Rump DeJoy probably supports mail fraud, but maybe the threat will terrorise your fraudulent double-biller into cancelling the fraudulent second billing).

  17. Glen

    Maybe it’s time to move the Jackpot meter up a level.

    The whole Ukraine/Russian conflict has emerged one interesting point – there is not enough fossil fuel energy roaming around on the “markets” to satisfy the world’s demand. The world is being re-organized into different zones where the global “market” paradigm is obsolete. This missing “energy” will adversely impact every aspect of life, maybe most predominately food.

    But based on the Australian elections, there is a growing recognition by everyday people that CO2 climate change is the real deal and nothing serious is being done about it by any political party.

    So a quick re-cap.

    Running out of fossil fuel energy. Yep, we saw this one coming many decades ago, and instead of pursuing alternatives such as nuclear, solar, wind, whatever, we decided to invade a country with oil and take it. Although fiction, this may be the best explanation for the whole Iraq mess that I have seen:
    W. (7/9) Movie CLIP – Dick’s Future (2008) HD

    Climate change. Yep, we saw this one coming many decades ago, and at periods in our past, almost acted.
    The Time America Almost Stopped Climate Change

    But we live in a highly financiallzed Davos WEF elite run world. What are they going to do?
    Global economy is ‘out of balance’ says World Economic Forum Founder

    I would say that the most predominate theme in that last link is a complete refusal to accept any responsibility for our current situation despite being pressed about it. Look at the comments; the dogs are no longer eating the dog food. Smarter dogs!

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    And now for something completely different . . .

    Several days ago someone offered the thought that America would be better off if we re-Britishize America’s form of English. I have been thinking about “English” off and on for some time.

    Here’s something I like about American English. It is more flexible and inventive than British English. We are a little-bit-less too proud to use a foreign language’s own word for a foreign culture’s own invention. For example, Americans are not to proud to use the word “yogurt” for yogurt. Whereas the British are too proud to use the correct word for yogurt, which is “yogurt”. They insist on mis-calling yogurt by the word ” curd”. ( Or am I wrong?)

    Also, American English is more inventive. We all know the word ” igloo”. ( I hope the British are not too proud to use the word “igloo” when talking about an igloo.) So, the American who invented an igloo-shaped outdoor shelter for pigs decided to call it a “pigloo”.
    And it turns out that feral pigs are learning how to make their own pigloos to withstand the northern winter.

    And it gets better. If ” pigloo”, why not “poogloo”? ( Although the inventers of the Poo-Gloo havent’ gone all the way to making it a real word. But that will come in time.

    English is already spoken somewhat differently in different ” English-speaking” countries. Colonel Lang once ironically referred to our culture as ” gringo”. One could then ironically call our language ” gringlish”. And then we could become un-ironic about it. We speak Gringlish. And so, in the US – Mexico borderlands where English and Spanish are mixing to form the embryonic new language called “Spanglish”, we could perhaps call this embryonic new language by the name ” Spangringlish”.

    And looking into the deeper future. I can imagine the different Englishes evolving into separate languages the way the Germanic Invader-Settlers evolved Latin into different languages , called the Romance Langages. So 2,000 years from now, we could have a whole bunch of languages called the Englance Languages or the Anglance Languages or whatever we will end up calling them. In Ireland, Iringlish. Throughout Britain in general, Britinglish. And in England specifically , Englandish. Gringlish.
    Austringlish. New Zinglish. Spangringlish. Hinglish. Singlish. Japan-China-Korea will evolve an Asianglish. The African countries will evolve Afringlish.

    English itself as we know it today will be preserved as the Liturgical and Secret Code Language of the Anglican Church, much as Latin is the Liturgical and Secret Code Language of the Roman Catholic Church today.

    What an interesting Lingworld the future will be.

    1. Mikel

      With TV and the internet now…the mishmash could stay global. Whatever works will be used where ever that will be.

  19. griffen

    Am I wrong for thinking the general feel of the Rapture Index is understating our current environment? Inflation is on a tear, markets are shedding tears (of sadness) and in general I just get a sense that, well I will summarize as only a film like The Shining can do. Not the reboot, the original film by Kubrick.

    Things could be better, Lloyd.

  20. Acacia

    Further down in the indeed-interesting interview with Izabella Kaminska:

    So I’m generally quite sceptical, and that for a long time Bitcoin was seen as a solution looking for a problem, right. But the one thing I will say is that in the last year or so we have a lot more problems out there than we had, like 10 years ago. […] I do think it might have a role to play, [in that] the dollar is obviously no longer a neutral currency. Right. So it has become a highly politicised sanctions-focused currency. […] You could see it as sort of anti-sanctions, but there are always going to be areas of the financial system that are in some ways challenged unfairly via the sanctions regime, whether that’s inadvertently, you know, causing starvation in certain sectors — unintended consequences of sanctions, right? That’s one area. I think it might also provide a counterbalance against CBDCs [Central Bank digital currencies]. And so with central banks coming in to issue their own stablecoins, digital currencies, that are going to be integrated with all sorts of datasets or identity, you know, theoretically you could end up with like, an app where your entire digital life is linked to your bank account, and then you could, and that’s great when the government is, you know, one that you can trust …

    I ended up skimming to just ignore the guys who were constantly interrupting her. Kaminska is being ironic about “a government you can trust” and in that sense she’s right about the neutrality of the dollar being a problem. If we follow Michael Hudson’s work, this is not a new problem that didn’t exist 10 years ago, but after the US grabbing Russian assets it’s now a whole lot more visibly an issue.

  21. McDee

    Last weekend’s DCCC conference was “very much about helping the Democrats get control of their messaging challenges,” In the 1934 Midterms, halfway through FDR’s first term, the Democrats picked up nine seats in the House and nine seats in the Senate. Maybe their messaging might be easier if they actually delivered something besides excuses.

  22. scarnoc

    as a motto and she didn’t crack 5% in GA? The accelerationist and humorist parts of me are disappointed. I have to give her points for honesty.

    1. super extra

      wonder if she skipped the required steps of establishing fealty to the local good old boys/chamber of commerce/evangelical money church power factions before blazing forth on the campaign trail. everyone has their part to play, surely she didn’t think all of that support in years past was organic?

    2. Wukchumni

      It’d be so easy to tweak her motto into saying something else by adding a word to the magic bus

      *Guns Down

      1. scarnoc

        To be honest, I love Jesus, I own a lot of guns, and I have raised a passel of babies. I am a product of Murican culture, and I really love my country and 99% of the people who reside therein. I don’t want to live under evangelical protestant theocratic rule, and I’m chuffed to see that 96% of conservative Georgia voters don’t want that either.

  23. Jason Boxman

    You know, it’s hard to overstate how screwed up this is. So you’re always at some risk of hospital-borne infection if for whatever reason you have to go. But now you’re at risk of SARS-COV-2 and long-COVID. And you can’t always just skip the hospital if there’s an emergency.

    And this entirely omits that staff is decimated after two years of letting it ride.

    Rather terrifying.

    And omits how to “pay for” if you survive.

  24. Wukchumni

    I heard self-check-in prisons will be the next big thing…

    TUCSON,Ariz.(KGUN) — Imagine checking out at a store, only to discover you accidentally missed an item. It’s an easy mistake to make, but for several people KGUN 9 spoke with, their mistake cost them a ticket and a hit on their record.

    “Out of the shadows, two women just jumped out at me and grabbed the cart and ushered me all the way back across the store, into a tiny little interrogation room, if you will, and told me I was being arrested for shoplifting,” She said. “And I was just in complete and total shock because I had absolutely no knowledge, let alone the intention of not paying for my items.”

    A woman, who does not want to be identified, says she was given a petty theft citation at the Walmart off La Cholla at 7635 N. La Cholla Blvd. B in Tucson. She says she accidentally forgot to scan a few items during check out.

    “They proceeded to hold me there. For about an hour and a half. They called the sheriff. They said because it was over $30 they would have to arrest me. I’ve never been arrested in my life. I’m in my 60s and they were just very rude and inconsiderate and I kept asking them to explain things because I didn’t understand what was going on,” She said. “The sheriff came, he read me my rights. I had to sign some things, then he offered to stay and chat with me afterward because he could tell I was so upset.”


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