2:00PM Water Cooler 5/26/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

This is Tanager week at Naked Capitalism. New York, United States.

* * *


“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

“‘People are still upset’: why Joe Biden’s jobs boom failed to win over voters” [Financial Times]. “[T]he much-desired “hot” economy the White House and congressional Democrats championed so doggedly — and engineered through the $1.9tn stimulus package enacted in March 2021 — has been accompanied by a messy mix of high inflation, labour shortfalls and supply chain disruptions that have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and new waves of coronavirus infections. These factors are weighing heavily on American households and businesses, meaning Biden and his party are getting little or no political credit for the jobs boom and wage gains ahead of the midterm elections. It is a troubling verdict in the court of public opinion for an administration that desperately wanted to deliver tangible economic benefits to middle-class Americans, to fend off a new populist backlash and show that US democracy could produce positive economic results…. “People are still pretty upset, still pretty pessimistic and on edge,” [Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s Analytics who has advised Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns] added.” • I can’t imagine why.


* * *

PA: “Pennsylvania Portents” [The Baffler]. “The Pennsylvania primary delivered exactly what was expected: a Republican Thunderdome made up of the party’s most extreme elements, and a commanding Democratic Senate primary victory for Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who carried every county in Pennsylvania…. [T]here are other signs of a person at odds with his image. With a tightly orchestrated campaign, slick digital advertisements, masterful use of political surrogates (such as his more likable wife, Gisele), and a sophisticated fundraising operation, Fetterman is more of a standard politician than his brand would have you believe. That political savvy is a large part of how he boxed out the competition in the left-of-center lane…. Fetterman may have done progressives a favor. He and his campaign helped lead the charge on a night when insurgents appear to have largely smashed Pennsylvania’s Democratic old guard.” • Good. For me, that’s enough right now.

TX: “O’Rourke’s standoff with Gov. Abbott over Uvalde mass shooting marks the new era in Texas politics” [Express News]. “The rawness of a new era of Texas politics was on full display on Wednesday in Uvalde as Gov. Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke were eye-to-eye in a high school auditorium in the aftermath of one of the state’s worst gun violence tragedies…. That dynamic was on display in the heated governors race long before Uvalde. O’Rourke has for months been far more intense in his campaign against Abbott than in his 2018 campaign against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. In that race against Cruz, Democrats worried O’Rourke wasn’t tough enough. That’s not the case this time. O’Rourke hammered Abbott earlier this year for the failures of the power grid during the 2021 winter storms that killed more than 700 people and left millions without electricity. O’Rourke went so far as to accuse Abbott of essentially accepting bribes from oil and gas company executives to assure he wouldn’t regulate them. Now one of Abbott’s biggest donors is suing O’Rourke for libel and defamation. Kelcy Warren, chairman of the board at the gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, filed suit against O’Rourke in San Saba County seeking more than $1 million in damages in a case filed in March…. O’Rourke hadn’t told his staff about making any speeches or confrontation with Abbott, they said. But then suddenly there he was, jumping up from his seat shouting and pointing fingers.” Here’s a video:

The dynamics — and the cops in khaki lounging on the stage — remind me very much of this famous scene:

Visually, O’Rourke is Luke, and the dignitaries on the stage are The Captain — victorious and dominating. I commend O’Rourke for his courage and his statement, which isn’t something I say about Democrats a lot. But I could wish that the episode had not ended in a physical retreat. like Luke getting beaten down. I’n not sure what a tactical alternative would have been; O’Rourke loves to stand on things, but I think the stage was just a little too high to leap onto. Perhaps (see the end of the snippet above) more staff-work?

I’ll be waiting for this take to appear:

TX: “Congressional Runoffs Between Blue Dog Democrats and Progressives in South Texas Too Close to Call” [The Texan]. “In Texas’ 28th Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) declared victory over progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros. But Cisneros has not conceded, and counties in the district still need to certify votes for an official result. As of Wednesday morning with all precincts reporting according to the secretary of state, Cuellar leads Cisneros by 177 votes, only 0.4 percent. Similarly, in Texas’ 15th Congressional District, Michelle Vallejo expressed optimism about the results but leads Ruben Ramirez by only 23 votes. Unlike Cuellar, though, Vallejo has not declared victory.”

TX: Good news:


“There Has to Be a Backup Plan. There’s a Backup Plan, Right? Inside the 2024 soul-searching that’s happening in every corner of the Democratic Party.” [New York Magazine]. “This untenable state of affairs — in which Biden insists he wants the job until he’s 86 but much of his party won’t listen — is only partially a by-product of his not yet officially declaring his candidacy. (He’s following the traditional timeline, in which the incumbent relaunches after the midterms.) It’s partly because of Biden’s own occasional hedges: With family tragedies and two brain aneurysms in his past, he has always allowed that he might step aside if his health declined or if “fate intervened.” But its origins may also be traced precisely to March 9, 2020, when Biden pitched Democratic voters on a certain vision of the future…. ook, I view myself as a bridge,” Biden said that day. “Not as anything else.” He was onstage in Detroit, on an exhilarating high, less than a week after a shock Super Tuesday romp that supercharged his once-flagging primary campaign and made it almost impossible for Sanders to catch up….. Gesturing at Harris, Whitmer, and Booker, he said, “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.” Biden didn’t intend his remarks to be a one-term pledge, but the notion had been in the air; some allies had debated the idea semi-openly in the press just a few months earlier. Regardless, this appearance in Detroit was replayed frequently and promoted enough in the ensuing months to become a symbol of Biden’s promise to defeat Trumpism and then let the country move on, ushering in a new era of leadership…. . It became clear that Biden’s bridge, to consider his analogy on its terms, wasn’t built to completion at the far side. For liberal and progressive voters, the cognitive dissonance has been significant.” • Bridge, eh? “Gentlemen, gentlemen! I won’t take any more credit for this victory than necessary. Lord Kitchener did not – nay, will not – die in vain, grid willing. [Applause] Gentlemen, gentlemen – I, as leader, will use power like a drum, and leadership like a violin. Take out any idea. Compare ideas, with the one idea left we are left you have no doubt and without a doubt we have enthusiasm! Gentlemen, gentlemen, please, gentlemen – to make life whole, it’s as easy as a bridge! Now, now, gentle- gentlemen, now that we have obtained control we must pull together as one – like a twin! Keeping the prophecy of power as enthusiasm! All for one!” The whole article is well worth a read; it’s interesting to see each alternative foreclosed.

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.

* * *

“How Joe Manchin Aided Coal, and Earned Millions” [New York Times]. “The Grant Town power plant is also the link between the coal industry and the personal finances of Joe Manchin III, the Democrat who rose through state politics to reach the United States Senate, where, through the vagaries of electoral politics, he is now the single most important figure shaping the nation’s energy and climate policy….[Manchin] went into business with the Grant Town power plant. Mr. Manchin supplied a type of low-grade coal mixed with rock and clay known as “gob” that is typically cast aside as junk by mining companies but can be burned to produce electricity. In addition, he arranged to receive a slice of the revenue from electricity generated by the plant — electric bills paid by his constituents. The deal inked decades ago has made Mr. Manchin, now 74, a rich man…. he Grant Town plant, which has been the sole customer for his gob for the past 20 years, according to federal data. At key moments over the years, Mr. Manchin used his political influence to benefit the plant. He urged a state official to approve its air pollution permit, pushed fellow lawmakers to support a tax credit that helped the plant, and worked behind the scenes to facilitate a rate increase that drove up revenue for the plant — and electricity costs for West Virginians. Records show that several energy companies have held ownership stakes in the power plant, major corporations with interests far beyond West Virginia. At various points, those corporations have sought to influence the Senate, including legislation before committees on which Mr. Manchin sat, creating what ethics experts describe as a conflict of interest.” • “What ethics experts describe as a conflict of interest.” Beautiful.


“Sussmann billed Clinton campaign for thumb drives he gave to FBI pushing Alfa-Bank allegations” [Washington Examiner]. Lol, lawyers are too much. “Two thumb drives containing Alfa-Bank claims, along with “white papers” pushing the claims, were provided to Baker by Sussmann at the meeting, and the prosecution presented evidence that even the USB drives bought by Sussmann were billed to the Clinton campaign. The thumb drives, one blue and the other red, were displayed to the jury as evidence this week in Washington. Kori Arsenault, a paralegal for the Justice Department, discussed an expense report in which the expense owner was listed as ‘SUSSM’ — Sussmann, who submitted it on Sept. 22. The allocation was marked ‘confidential’ and charged to Hillary for America….. Arsenault put together other records aiming to demonstrate that Sussmann went to the FBI on behalf of the Clinton campaign, including a Perkins billing chart laying out her findings related to Sussmann billing time to the Clinton campaign. She specifically pointed to a meeting on “Communications with M Elias regarding server issue” on July 1, ‘Communications with M Elias regarding server issue’ on July 31, ‘Meeting with consultant, M Elias, revisions to white paper, meeting with expert and reporter, follow up meeting’ on Sept. 6, ‘Multiple meetings regarding confidential project, draft white paper … meetings with M Elias’ on Sept. 14, and ‘Work and communications regarding confidential project’ on Sept. 19…. [FBI general counsel James Baker] testified last week he was ‘100% confident’ that Sussmann claimed he was not there on behalf of a client.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Culture That Kills Its Children Has No Future” [Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic]. “Yesterday, before the families of Uvalde had buried their children, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a televised interview that he would ‘much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens, because it’s not going to be the last time.’ That is to say: It’s going to go on indefinitely.” • Once again, what’s the issue? We need to learn to live with the shootings and perform personal risk assessments.


A fine description of how ideologies take hold:

Over-determined, contingent, but not inexplicable.


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.

* * *

Holy moley (1):

Holy moley (2):

That smile. I haven’t gotten around to gifting Oster with an award yet, but as with Leanna Wen there will be many opportunities.

“Welcome to the Next COVID Wave” [New York Magazine]. • Late to the party!

* * *

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 106,000 * 6 = 636,000, i.e. not gamed.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:

A bit of a dip. We shall see. 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.

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 was yesterdat, 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:

Looks like California and Pennsylvania are carrying the load. Midwest much improved. Note that the South is not pulling away, as from the national wastewater data I’m looking for (except a Louisiana, perhaps).

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. Although New Hampshire has gone 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!”):

Less and less green.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,030,415 1,029,524. 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 8 thousand to 210 thousand in the week ended May 21st, from the previous week’s unrevised level of 218 thousand and above the market estimate of 215 thousand. ”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index fell to 19 in May of 2022 from 28 in the prior month. Despite the slowdown, regional factory activity remained strong, driven mainly by transportation equipment, electrical equipment, and furniture related product manufacturing. Indexes for supplier delivery time and volume of shipments were slightly lower, while figures for volumes of new orders, employment, and order backlogs accelerated.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “Apple’s Cement Overshoes” [Cory Doctorow]. “Many people have noticed that their parents used to keep refrigerators and washing machines in service for decades, but their own appliances all seem to end up beyond repair after a few short years. This is by design, and Apple led the appliance manufacturers to victory in killing Ohio’s Right to Repair bill, then they took the fight to Nebraska, where they helped kill farmers’ dreams of fixing their own tractors (they also convinced Ontario’s Ford “open for business” government to kill a repair bill, giving countless small businesses the shaft so that a tax-evading multinational headquartered in Cupertino, California could make more money off the people of Ontario)…. Eventually, it became clear to Apple and other anti-repair companies that they were going to lose the repair wars some day — it was a matter of when, not if. Apple needed a backup plan. They needed to make it look like they were taking steps to allow managed, safe repairs, while doing nothing of the sort. They needed to invent repairwashing. First came 2019’s certified independent repair program, which allowed independent shops to fix iPhones with Apple’s blessing. This program was designed to be as cumbersome and useless as possible…. This week, The Verge’s Sean Hollister got to try out Apple’s home repair program. The company shipped him 79 pounds’ worth of gear, in two ruggedized Pelican cases. Included in the kit: ‘an industrial-grade heat station that looks like a piece of lab equipment,’ to loosen the glue that holds the phone together (recall Apple’s aversion to ‘screws, not glue’). For all the gear Hollister got from Apple, following the official Apple manual and using official Apple tools was much harder than fixing your phone with an equivalent set of tools, parts and manuals from iFixit.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 16 Extreme Fear (previous close: 11 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 9 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 26 at 1:53 PM EDT.

Under the Influence

“The Newest Face of Fake Meat? Kim Kardashian” [Gizmodo]. • Headline a little too on-the-nose

The Gallery

A bitmap:

Class Warfare

“Improved Job Security Among Low-Income Workers Is Helping to Reduce Inequality” [Morning Consult]. “The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index fell from 5.88% in April to 5.28% in May, reflecting a narrowing of economic inequality across income groups this month. Labor market strength, which has recently provided higher benefits to lower-income Americans, was the primary driver of the index’s decrease. In the current historically tight labor market, workers are feeling more secure in their jobs — particularly lower-income workers. In May, only 10.3% of workers from households with annual incomes of less than $50,000 expected to experience a loss of employment income in the next four weeks, compared with 10.4% of those from households earning $100,000 or more. This is not the norm. Typically, workers with lower or hourly pay tend to feel less secure in their jobs than higher-income workers. The strong labor market has also disproportionately improved employment outcomes among lower-income households recently. ” • For now.

News of the Wired

“… the lone and level sands stretch far away”:

* * *

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 dk (via):

dk writes: “I feel you, tree.”

* * *

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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. Jacob Hatch

    right to repair / refrigerators
    When a refrigerator dies an early death, you can change brands, but they use the same parts, from the same factories, which are shipped to one of three owners of nearly all brand name appliances, so you really have not done anything to punish the OEM or Brand owner, just rewarded them for the deceit.

    1. digi_owl

      Also while the failure may be by design, it may not always be malicious intent behind it.

      Those old refrigerators etc were simple stuff, a pump, a compressor, and a radiator. But when they failed, after long service etc, they could sometimes fail catastrophically depending on what part wore out first.

      Modern systems are to some degree designed to fail safely by having some parts that will wear out before other more dangerous ones do.

      That said, different devices have different usages and different reasons for failure. The right to repair a phone or computer is more often than not about a accidentally broken screen or a worn out battery than a component failure.

      1. Jacob Hatch

        Malicious? The profit motive is as American as Apple pie, but then so is giving the natives small pox infected blankets, so there’s that. Let’s just say there’s no incentive to put in ceramic capacitors when chemical capacitors are both cheaper and die on schedule.

  2. Wukchumni

    Originally it was in the of the Faun in Pompeii. Now preserved in National Archaeological Museum, Naples

    Many visitors to Pompeii & Herculaneum don’t go to the museum in Naples, which is a pity as there are so many interesting items on display from that fateful day back in 79 AD, my favorite being the full gladiator outfits with helmet, found in the locker room of the colosseum in Pompeii.

    Make sure you visit after going to both doomed cities…

    1. albrt

      Seconded. If you need additional motivation, the Naples museum has most of the dirty pictures that were removed from the site.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    I’d like to think Beto’s rant was sincere. I’d like to think it, but I don’t. Beto was for gun control, before he was against it, before he was for it again yesterday to score points against Abbott.


    Perhaps if he made the same rant against someone he wasn’t trying to unseat, I’d think he’d had a change of heart. Instead, to continue the Cool Hand Luke theme, I suspect Beto will get his mind right on gun control to conform with the majority TX opinion before the election once all the current outrage has died down.

    Prediction: Matthew McConaughey joins the race as an independent, on a dare livestreams himself eating 50 eggs in an hour, and wipes the floor with O’Rourke and Abbott.

    1. Calliope Mori

      This is precisely the level of cynicism I’ve had to cultivate when parsing political messaging. I’d be shocked if there wasn’t a name for the general principle: the more emotional a politician’s statement becomes, the less credible it is. Lambert calls similar messages “headfakes” in a different context (say one thing, actually do another), although it’s been a while since I’ve seen that metaphor used here.

    2. Pilar

      What Beto did was a political stunt and I guarantee that no one in Texas who know anything about him appreciated it.

    3. yancey

      Wiping the floor with Abbott is fairly simple stuff once you tip him over. This could be considered a thought in bad taste, but it is Abbott who I’m talking about.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d like to think Beto’s rant was sincere.

      It’s just such a relief to hear somebody saying something even approaching the right thing, especially to those goons lined up on the stage.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its simple. O’Rourke called them murderers, and the Democrats are giving dead lines of 10 days and yammering about bipartisanship. The dolt in the White House called for someone to do something.

        Not that anyone will read it besides some staffer, I did send an email to Murphy’s office asking what will make the next days 10 different than the 23 years since Columbine. The GOP doesn’t need deadlines to distract us before the next mass shooting. They need to be sidewalk chalked.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its not much, but Pelosi and Clyburn were stumping for NRA Democrat Cueller Tuesday. We haven’t seen much from them.

        2. GF

          Is there going to be a 10 million person march on the NRA event in Houston tomorrow? I haven’t seen any plans posted.

          1. John

            Am I wrong to feel that Texas politicians, especially Abbott and Paxton, are gratuitously mean?

      2. Amateur Socialist

        Well, as a long time Beto watcher and former Texas resident (23 years departed in 2020) let’s see how long he manages that approach.

        Unfortunately history suggests that when/if questions come up regarding the way the police handled things he will revert to his usual centrist instincts. And I have to admit it’s not an easy situation for any politician; you get to acknowledge reality by criticizing police tactics and performance or try to dance away from the questions which demonstrates you’re just another hack centrist democrat. I would love to be surprised and or impressed. Anything’s possible.

      3. Fiery Hunt

        C’mon Lambert…you gotta know a performative stunt when you see it!
        Beto’s no more gonna affect the gun-soaked American landscape than any other kente cloth wearing bullshit fake Democratic politician.

        Nothing but a stunt…and I’m guessing in Texas, it was worth a -5 % in his approval ratings.
        Like Abrahams, he’s just another grifter milking the base.

        You’ll never rid America of its guns.

        Maybe we oughts focus on why broken people shoot others in mass numbers, no?

        1. ambrit

          Alas, focusing on “why broken people shoot others” would require actual effort and governance on the part of the American Politicos. Here, we see the “New Improved” Performative Political System at work. If anything, considering how Obama ‘normalized’ “bait and switch” in ‘moderne’ American politics, this is par for the course.

    5. Librarian Guy

      Yeah, I won’t forget that part of his political bona fides was that he “used to be a punk rocker”, meaning a performer. I missed first wave punk (in an isolated suburb in ’77, then busy going to school and working on boats for several years) but got very involved in 2nd Wave punk in New Orleans, 1982–89. The boozhie poseurs were always easy to spot, & Beto has that energy at first glance. I’m happy for him to have had fun pretending to be a “rebel” or “wayward youth” ever so briefly, but I’m sure mommy, daddy, and his rich future wife always knew he was a good boy without an ounce of actual bad attitude, negative run-ins with teachers or cops, or resentment towards the powers that be. . . . “I’m not a revolutionary, but I can play one on stage for attention!”

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Punk attitude never leaves us, does it?

        Taught us to spot phonies from the get go.

  4. digi_owl

    That statement from Keynes applies because neoclassical economics is Ricardianism dressed up to look like Keynes.

    Samuelson et al did a massive bait and switch on the world.

    Sadly it was not the first time US “thinkers” got European thought massively wrong, nor the last (we are likely dealing with the fallout of another example these days).

  5. Pavel

    That NY Mag piece on Biden’s chances in 2024 was much too kind to him. It attributed his by-now-obvious senility and problems speaking (or “misspeaking”) to a “lifelong” stutter and issues with teleprompters. Any remotely unbiased observer will agree that he clearly has a cognitive deficit and it is getting steadily worse.

    Separately, as the article discusses, the Dems may be in a Catch-22 in 2024: either they run a decrepit senile Joe Biden or the almost universally disliked Harris, to whom it would be very difficult to deny the nomination (first black female VP)… Trump or DeSantis would beat either handily at this point IMO. (I note with bemusement Biden’s hubris that “he is the only one who can beat Trump”. What???)

    But who knows what the country will be like in two years? If there still is a country…

  6. drumlin woodchuckles

    Whenever/ wherever “progressive” Dems are challenging “mainstream” Dems in their primaries, if they win, they can expect the “mainstream” Dems to support their Republican opponents in the election; either sneakily by undermining and ratfucking or overtly, the way the mainstream Dems instructed their voters to vote for Nixon against McGovern.

    Progressives who don’t want to believe that will learn how true it is in 2022.

    I hope the Progressives pre-accept as a given starting right now. I hope they decide to give no quarter and expect none. I hope that in every primary race a Progressive loses, that progressive will create a “pop-up Party” just for that district and just for that election and run against the mainstream Democrat. The dream would be to actually win, of course. But the actual point would be to split the vote and get the mainstream Democrat defeated. And every progressive primary-challenge loser should do that to the mainstream enemy Democrat every single time. Election after election. District after district. That is how the progressives can slowly either purge and burn the mainstreamers out of the party and then conquer it for themselves and conduct a ” Stalinist Great Purge” style purging and burning of every single mainstream Democrat out of the party . . . or otherwise exterminate the DemParty itself from existence and wipe it off the political map and out of memory.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Then what? You seem to misread the nature, purpose and 80 plus year track record of who progs are (Democrats above all else), what they do and perhaps especially don’t do.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well then , maybe some rads ( radicals) can emerge to fill the vacuum. At least it would create a vacuum in place of the festering poison gas cloud Democrat Party which currently fills that space.

  7. Left in Wisconsin

    For those of you interested in union issues, this recent article in New Labor Forum is an excellent study of the hard work of organizing and what it takes to succeed over the long haul. I wouldn’t say it breaks a lot of new ground but it is very good on the nuts and bolts of what it means to be a local union committed to organizing (though admittedly 32BJ is an unusual local that spans the whole eastern seaboard), focusing on things like budgets, the hiring process for organizers, goal-setting and periodic strategic reviews, the multi-year process of organizing a local economic sector, pairing existing members with non-members at organizing targets so they can learn from each other, etc. It also makes the excellent point that, no matter how bad labor law or its enforcement is, waiting for labor law to change is not a route to union success as labor law will not change until and unless there is serious pressure/consequences for politicians that will only be possible if a lot more people are organized. The copy editing isn’t great and detracts some from the article but the content is excellent.

    It is also a little bit of an antidote to some of the hagiography of the Chris Smalls’ Amazon win, in which existing unions are cast as the bad (or stupid or insincere) guys while the young, unaffiliated neophyte leads the rabble-rousing underdogs to victory. To be clear, from what I have seen, Smalls seems to be a good guy and a great organizer (and he is not to blame for the simplified takes of others), but a) as many have noted, winning an election is but one step in a process of unionization that has big barriers to success at every step and it is at least for me hard to see how that scrappy local, without any union muscle behind it, is going to be able to make any lasting headway against a goliath like Amazon, and b) while lots of unions are anemic, lazy, inertial, or worse, it is wrong (and the bosses’ strategy) to paint all unions with the same brush, as there are some that do a very good job.


  8. Kurtismayfield

    I think the Texas AG was right with this quote:

    much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens, because it’s not going to be the last time

    The reason being that the police has been completely ineffectual when neutralizing these shooters.

    Examples are Columbine, Parkland, and now the latest shooting in Texas. The police aren’t responding in minutes (like we are told in school shooting training that they would).. they are taking up to an hour or more to respond.

    The current training that teachers get in school shootings is to delay the shooter, make it harder for them to kill quickly, so that the police can get there and respond quickly. But example after example of police response has shown that the police are incapable of responding to these events quickly

    Oh, and time and time again the police was not held responsible for the slow response in court.

    1. Lee

      Police Have No Duty to Protect the Public American Prospect

      “Though often unsaid in police reform debates, numerous court precedents have established that cops aren’t obligated to act in the interests of citizens.”

      Recommended viewing: “We Own This City” on HBO. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Oh I know the SC’s views on it.

        BTW.. four of the police officers went in to get their own kids before the border patrol tactical team confronted the shooter.

        1. JBird4049

          Don’t forget the mom who drove forty miles, broke through the police line, climbed over a fence, and rescued her two kids.

    2. voteforno6

      If we can’t expect the police to be properly trained to respond, how can average citizens be any better? Also, it’s so nice how he is saying that we just have to accept that this is going to happen again. Why?

    3. John

      My vote is that people take personal responsibility for their safety instead of trusting the blob. School shootings attack the most vulnerable in gun free zones. Probably wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t easy pickings. The last Texas church shooting comes to mind where parishioners handled the incident on short order.


      The sickness is in society and appetite for violence. Movies and video games and war culture do not get a free pass in my book. (And neither does our vulture capitalism feasting on everything)

      If it wasn’t guns it would be plowing people over in cars or knife attacks like in China.


      A troubled soul in pain in a society that casts them off will wreak havoc in whatever way they can. We are paying for our culture of violence.

      1. Basil Pesto

        My vote is that people take personal responsibility for their safety instead of trusting the blob. School shootings attack the most vulnerable in gun free zones. Probably wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t easy pickings.

        jesus America is weird

        Movies and video games and war culture do not get a free pass in my book.

        Don’t forget ‘rap music’ to max out that 90s moral panic nostalgia!

        1. John

          If we are to take personal responsibility for our safety, why are we paying a police force or by extension having a government at all? Sounds like the anarchists paradise or is that the libertarian.

          “…establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, …”

          This is from the Preamble to the Constitution and as I see it, it lays out the role of government at any level. we can argue all we like about how government should operate, but are we to seriously contemplate doing away with it entirely?

          1. John

            its not a binary option. Having the opportunity and capability to take personal responsibility does not imply that all other structure should be removed.

            Thinking that someone will always be there to protect you at every moment is naive and if it could be implement it would be a dystopian level of surveillance and enforcement.

    4. Joe Well

      The police were already on the scene and immediately began shooting at the shooter, which is all a private citizen could have done. Regardless of what Hollywood would have you believe, shooting a moving person who is trying to evade you is hard, and now compound that with trying not to hit other people.

      Criminals will always have the advantages of surprise and willingness to take risks with their own and others’ lives. Giving criminals guns just magnifies those advantages.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        I am in agreement with you. The officers went n scene could not stop him from going inside. There is no stopping someone determined and with tactical gear vs cops with a pistol.

        Just don’t expect educators to put their life out on the line in order to delay the shooter so that the cops have time to save their own kids first.

      2. Dr. John Carpenter

        Not to mention that the police would have likely unloaded on any “good guys with guns” who were trying to assist. Hell, I read they tazed a parent who was trying to rescue their own child.

    5. Old Jake

      As I recall it, the one time something like this being attempted was the Walmart shooting where the good guy with a gun went in and asked a woman where was the bad guy. She pointed and while he was looking she pulled out her gun and shot him, as she was an accomplice. I may have this garbled – as my recollection is likely only a bit better than Brandon’s – but the gist of it is correct. The good guy with a gun is a likely to shoot his thumb off or think a desktop is bulletproof because they see it so on TV as he is to make any difference in the outcome.

  9. HastalaVictoria

    More correctly the Atlantic article should have read: A culture that MURDERS its children has no future. What a difference a word makes!

    1. GramSci

      Wrong word. This culture doesn’t murder its children. This culture murders your children.

  10. Pelham

    Re Beto and the Strother Martin scene from “Cool Hand Luke”: Many, many years ago I was the only princeling fat kid in a brutal high school gym class filled with resentful but surprisingly sharp guys from literally the wrong side of the tracks in our little town in a hot, dusty corner of Kansas.

    I took a lot of grief from some of those guys until I managed to knock one of them flat twice in a football scrimmage and they began to respect me. They were just doing their time in school, and a couple of them kept us amused by passing a portion of that time by repeatedly quoting Martin in that scene. Word for word. I thought it was pretty clever and I began to appreciate class differences at a more personal level. Thanks for the memory.

  11. AnArchitect

    Re: Tweet about toddler and covid test reporting

    It’s an insane scenario but I read it as a last gasp to try to stay above water. I’m empathetic. While abiding by all the rules, wearing masks, eligible family members vaxxed, etc, my 4 year old’s school has had 5 closures (5 days each) in 2022 + we had a 10 day quarantine when the whole family tested positive.

    No one can work or be productive. Kids suffer, parents suffer, schools suffer…everyone suffers. No one has provided a solution to these issues or any means of support for young families.

    It’s a colossal failure by our leaders and our society. “Holy Moley-ing” this mom is just pure snark and pot-shotting.

  12. marym

    Student walkouts today

    Protest at NRA tomorrow
    “[Hospice chaplain who served in two pediatric trauma hospitals, Teresa Kim] Pecinovksy is organizing an interfaith demonstration on May 27 in downtown Houston to protest the presence of the National Rifle Association

    The interfaith protest is one of a number of actions planned for Friday, the day that former President Donald Trump, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a host of other high-profile Republican leaders are scheduled to address the NRA convention. So far, Moms Demand Action, Indivisible Houston, Youth for Beto and the Houston chapter of Black Lives Matter are organizing activities at the convention center and nearby Discovery Green, a prominent urban park that has hosted numerous demonstrations in recent years.”

    Mach for Our Lives 06/11/2022

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If they wanted to show real depth of feeling, I wonder if they might consider photo-shopping up some photos of Wayne La Pierre and various Republican luminaries all posed with gun-in-hand, pointed at self, with the caption . . . ” Do the Right Thing”.

      Maybe the whole crowd could also chant ” Do the Right Thing” over and over again, for hours.

  13. Carolinian

    Having never owned an iPhone I’m just asking: does it have any meaningful capability–other than a superior camera–that you can’t get from a sub $100 Chinese smartphone? And if it does why is it put together with glue like a throwaway device? You can buy a watch or you can buy a Rolex but you don’t expect the Rolex to play games with repair ability.

    1. GramSci

      I switched to a used iPhone8 last year because it was the cheapest i could find with less than a
      5″ diagonal screen, allowing my arthritic right thumb to reach the letter “a”. Worth it at half the price.

    2. Jason Boxman

      The iPhone Mini is the only actually small smartphone I could find anywhere.

      I’d hoped the Swype implementation would be better than Google’s, but both are garbage. I yell in rage a bit less often with the iPhone, but Apple blocks out a significant number of words from auto-complete, including murder and genocide which are useful when talking about both mass shootings and COVID policy generally. So I’ve had to add these and others to the text dictionary. Annoying. Say what you will about Google, but Android phones have never blacked out choice words, even profanity.

      If you’re part of the Apple ecosystem, the interoperability is surprisingly useful. I can sync music to my phone, including playlists, without any real effort, and then play these on my car with Apple CarPlay or via bluetooth. The live mode for photos is useful in that it captures two seconds of video when taking pictures; Useful for family gatherings and was great for Christmas.

      Before that I tried the Apple iPhone SE, which had a worse screen than my middle tier Android and I promptly sent back. I had a headache in 30 minutes of looking at it. It was basically garbage.

      But if you just want to make the occasional phone call, it probably isn’t worth the $600+ price tag. (And the mini doesn’t have the high end camera features that the larger iPhones do.)

    3. Acacia

      iPhone SE is very small and easily fits in your front pocket.

      Syncs your photos, calendar, contacts, music, and any files (e.g., PDFs you have in iCloud storage).

      I once tried a non-Apple phone, and realized that little things like Calendar sync not working completely were an annoyance, and that such nits would never get fixed.

      As much as I dislike Apple, I dislike Google more.

      1. Carolinian

        I’m part of the Linux ecosystem–also Windows when it suits. I’m quite familiar with Android but notice my more recent model is a bit pushier about using Google apps. You can shut them off but then it nags you about it. Android–due to its Linux open source pedigree–feels obligated to allow “side loading” of apps and you can get Play Store apps from non Google sites on the web. Some of these are open source and quite good.

        But this phone has excellent GPS, good phone calling, a functional if not great camera and was quite inexpensive. If it breaks I’ll just buy another and the repair problem solved. Oh and the battery pops right out….no glue.

        1. Acacia

          You’d get a better camera and build quality, but if you’re using Linux for everything else, I can’t think offhand of a reason to switch to an iPhone. The iPhone battery isn’t user-accessible, but I’ve had several replaced in different vintages of the fruity phone. There are shops that will do the whole job quickly and cheaply (they specialize in screen repair and in my neck ‘o the woods are named iCracked” lol).

    4. super extra

      “meaningful capability”, no. compatible apps with more things you might use, like cable streaming tie-in stuff, maybe. some people really hate the green bubbles in text messages. they hate them so much they’ll pay 800$ markup for the blue iphone bubbles.

  14. Acacia

    Significant COVID vaccine news from Japan.

    Morita Hiroyuki, an IM doctor and representative of the South Japan Health Research Lab, reports that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) has been massaging their data on mRNA vaccine efficacy.

    Prior to May 11th, the data showed that in a sample of 100,000 individuals aged 40-64, those who received two shots [2回接種] and three shots [3回接種], tested positive for COVID far less frequently than those who received no shots [未接種]. On the charts embedded in the article, this is shown as a blue bar for the unvaccinated, a gold bar for those who received two shots, and a grey bar for those who received three shots.

    The Ministry reported these findings and the media and local politicians dutifully repeated them, encouraging citizens to get vaccinated. At present, 81% of Japanese citizens are considered fully vaccinated.

    Data is reported weekly, but from May 11th, there were suddenly some major changes, after which the number of unvaccinated cases suddenly decreased by half, such that it was no longer greater than those who received two shots, i.e., according to the Ministry, suddenly those who have received two shots have more positives per 100,000 than those who haven’t been vaccinated.

    With an 81% vaccination rate, this might make sense, but not in the span of one week.

    Japanese on social media began commenting on the discrepancy, and in response the MHLW added a note to their weekly reports that the data is based upon COVID infection reports submitted by doctors, that 20~30% of the vaccination history numbers have been left blank, and the Ministry treats these as “unvaccinated”. I.e., they’re saying doctors weren’t providing the data, though how doctors throughout Japan suddenly changed their practice in one week, and how the claimed 20~30% missing could translate into a 50% discrepancy in number of unvaxxed reported are not addressed.

    Dr. Morita goes as far as to say the Ministry is lying, and “this is where many people may get angry (and should get angry)”. In a supplement to the article, Morita notes that the data for the other age groups (12-39, and 65+) were similarly revised, with the data for 65+ age group also showing that the unvaccinated are testing positive less frequently than those who received two shots.


    There’s a Google translate function built into the web site, which can be activated by clicking on the US flag atop the page.

  15. fjallstrom

    Re Covid jump in France. France adjusts their numbers around this time every month. This tends to create a one week step in the graph. It’s noise, not signal.

    Don’t know about UK.

  16. rowlf

    Australian Election Wrap-up with description of results of preferential voting: thejuicemedia

    Thank you for taking the time to understand how our voting system works. It’s an awesome voting system if we know how to use it; and one that hopefully our mates in the US and UK will also adopt. And this is just the beginning. Now that so many people get it, Australian elections will never be the same. The bullshit argument that you’re risking or wasting your vote if you don’t vote 1 for a major party will no longer fly, now that people have experienced how it actually works. And that knowledge will be passed on to the next generation of voters. And that means unless the major parties lift their game on climate, we can expect even more Not-Shit MPs to win seats at the 2025 election. Which is a good coz Australia will then move away from the simplistic, outdated and corruptible two-party system, and towards a multi-party parliamentary democracy – which is what is common in many progressive European nations today.

    Kinda sounds like this democracy stuff could be pretty dangerous unless managed correctly. /s

    1. Michael McK

      In California, bill AB 2808 is in committee. It aims to outlaw ranked choice voting in the state. Any Californians, please make a stink with your reps about this one.

  17. marym

    Union news

    In the NLRB data, the Starbucks Union is now up to 87 unionized stores covering 2,282 workers. Philadelphia got on the board yesterday by unionizing 4 stores in a single day.
    Chicago gets on the board today with two union wins. And Kentucky gets its first unionized Starbucks via Louisville.


    ALABAMA IS A STARBUCKS UNION STATE!!! 27-1 at the 20th & 3rd Midtown location in Birmingham!!!

  18. Jason Boxman

    So Bloomberg is using this as an opportunity to fundraise, for what I have no idea, as he’s so rich he could quite literally open his unlimited checkbook against any incumbent that opposes whatever gun control measures he claims to care about, funding both a primary challenge, then funding an opponent in the general election if necessary.

    In fact, I believe the NRA uses this strategy.

    So it’s hard to take Bloomberg seriously on this. Maybe he doesn’t realize how rich he is?

    We must take action to end gun violence now. If you make a contribution to Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, I will personally match it—and triple it—from now until the end of the month.

    How kind of you.

  19. Carla

    Lambert will love this:

    Medpage Today asks:

    Should medical society meetings require masking?


    Since I am a (free) subscriber to Medpage Today, I responded “Yes” to the survey!

    As a free subscriber, however, I was not permitted to comment. I’m SURE they did not want to hear my opinion anyhow.

    Meanwhile, at the “World Class Cleveland Clinic,” physicians, nurses and other personnel still wear only surgical masks (worthless) in dealing with patients and the public. Boggles the mind.

    1. Tom Bradford

      Gotta love this, too:

      Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, who has led the country* through the pandemic, has caught Covid-19 while in Geneva.

      The Ministry of Health on Friday confirmed he had tested positive for the virus while attending the World Health Assembly, a meeting of the World Health Organisation, while in Geneva, Switzerland.”


      *New Zealand

  20. drumlin woodchuckles

    I am on break at work so I can’t verify if the link I am about to provide really is to the BBC item I heard last night. But I think it is.

    BBC ran an item about how one of the Parkland School Mass Murder victim’s parents has set up a group for advancing some very-narrow-focus legislation in whatever states adopt it state by state for making it harder for this sort of school-shooter wannabe in particular to get fairly powerful guns for effective shooting. His group has also worked for ” red flag laws ” to separate troubled people and their guns for an indeterminated cooling-off period.

    He got it passed in Florida. It sounded to me like it offered some hopeful promise so I offer it here.


  21. none

    I recently did an ifixit battery swap on a 1st generation iphone SE, rated “moderate” in difficulty on ifixit’s site, and certainly easier than later models that have wireless charging. It took a lot of patience, dexterity, close-up vision (I used magnifying glasses), and was still very easy to mess up. I messed it up the first time and had to disassemble and reassemble the phone again, and there are still issues, though with more practice I could maybe do it more reliably. But, people shouldn’t have to go through that, and nobody in a repair shop cranking out those swaps should be expected to spend that much time. So I think the 79 pound Apple kit was intended for people who sit around doing that procedure all day and have to bang them out quickly. If I ran a repair shop I’d invest in it, though I shouldn’t have to.

    It is all crazy, of course. Apple apologists from all over bleat about how difficult it is to make a watertight case with a swappable battery inside. They ignore that 1) older iphones including the 1st gen SE weren’t watertight; 2) watertight swappable battery phones including the Samsung Galaxy 5 were a thing long after Apple went to sealed batteries; and 3) before good rechargeables, every battery powered device had swappable batteries, and tons of them were watererproof (think 50+ years of police radios and 100+ years of outdoor flashlights).

    Fuck Apple. The geeks/mops/sociopaths pattern is in full display with them. Dieter Rams (whose industrial designs Apple copied) was the geek and Apple are the sociopaths. He has slammed them for the environmental disaster of the iphone.

    See: http://meaningness.com/metablog/geeks-mops-sociopaths

  22. scarnoc

    >personal risk assessments.
    Lambert’s quip is worth more than just a chuckle. It engages with the reality of violence in America from multiple angles.

    I’m part of a (probably) small minority of the readership here that doesn’t support the types of laws that get labeled ‘gun control’. We own and use guns (in California, so I’m no stranger to ‘gun control’ laws in practice). We have school age children. The Uvalde atrocity has my wife and I re-assessing the risk/reward ratio of keeping one kid in a large public school, vs keeping another kid in a small Seventh Day Adventist school (he’s vegetarian by choice and the culture there is such a good fit for him) vs homeschooling both of them (but with what time? And we are not trained educators.)

    ‘Personal Risk Assessments’ are what the neo-liberal blob that runs this dying nation sells to us as part of the symbolic package of ‘Personal Liberty’, that ugly lie that justifies markets for everything. ‘Personal Risk Assessments’ are a scam, a fraud, a virtual non-real object. Take my own example above. I make my assessment within the context of a family, with a wife, about children, who gather together in schools, and so on. If I were single, I would be making these assessments within the context of my friends, coworkers, brothers and sisters, or parents. The biggest lie the old harpy told is that there is no such thing as a society. But, there is. So, our risk assessments are never personal. Neither are the ruling class’s risk assessments. Both assessments are inevitably made from a class position. A Liberal (in the upper case sense) will argue that all history is the history of individual struggle, and probably a bourgeois Liberal sees themself as a motive force of history because of their power over capital. A working class Libertarian sees themselves as needing to defend themselves from ‘motive forces of history’. But their assessments are still inevitably made within the larger worldviews of their class, even when class sentiment is deformed or filtered for the individual.

    My opinion is that what gets called ‘gun control’ serves the ruling class in the USA at the expense of everyone else. It’s marketed by the ruling class as an attack on Liberal excess: too much individual sentiment. This is somewhat silly on its face, since Liberalism is the ideology sine qua non of the bourgeoisie. In material fact, our heavily armed working class has prevented this hyper-violent and rather sociopathic polity from losing all Liberalism in real terms for any class but the ultra rich. Whether you want to admit it or not, you and everyone you know have benefited materially because a huge number of your compatriots own, use, and enjoy firearms. A lot of innocent people have died by the gun, too. Under capitalism as it is, those two facts are simply two parts of the same mode of being.

    The youtuber and social media influencer Beau of the Fifth Column has a primer series on guns, ‘gun control’, and gun violence that is aimed at people with no real familiarity with firearms or gun culture in the USA. I highly recommend it. Part one is here. Watch all of them. I don’t agree with all of this man’s politics (at all!), so this is not an endorsement of his media. That particular series is quite good, however.

    1. marym

      Can you be more specific about material benefits to non-gun-owners? Particularly the ar-15 I’ve seen (twitter today, not any knowledge of the subject or the tweeters): A list of maybe 8-10 mass shootings in recent years where it was used; statistics on how many in the US before it was banned, and how many more since the ban expired; a sense that if it were a question of a ban (as opposed to tighter rules for purchase for example) it would be this particular type of gun.

      Also, do you have statistics on ownership by class? The link I found with income level doesn’t seem to be mostly working class (< $40K) and doesn’t have a breakdown by type of weapon, so it’s not informative on this subject.


      1. Jen

        I live in a rural area where gun ownership, primarily for hunting is a way of life. A friend of mine grew up near the canadian border, and when he was a kid in the late ’50s, it was considered perfectly normal for he and his friends to bring their guns to school so they could go hunting afterwards.

        As a non-gun owning single woman who lives in a house that is not visible from the road of from my neighbors houses, I would say one of the benefits of a high level of gun ownership in my neighborhood is that no one looking to break in to a home or cause mischief around here is going to wander up a long driveway unless they are very certain that a) there’s something at the end of it worth taking and b) they are not going to be met with someone pointing a gun in their direction when they get there.

        I had a very different attitude towards gun ownership when I lived in an urban area. The people I knew who were considering buying guns for their protection were PMCers who based their threat assessment on the number of non-white people in the neighborhood.

        1. marym

          Thanks for the reply. What’s going around twitter is talk of “ar-15’s” which I take to mean a weapon that can a fire very many times very rapidly in a very brief time, and tears apart the victim. If that’s the case (and I’m ignorant of the subject) and it’s the method of choice for mass shooting, then there seems to be an argument for a ban. There was a ban for 10 years until 2004, but people still had weapons for the purposes you mention. Thanks again for the perspective.

  23. griffen

    Ray Liotta rest in peace tonight. You’ll always be known around these parts .

    Henry Hill. We were wise guys. We figure this stuff is ours so we took what we wanted. Goodfellas is such a great film.

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