2:00PM Water Cooler 6/14/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, an initial rethink of the Covid section took much more time than I thought, so I will again break my rule and do some updates in the Politics section. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Grassland Sparrow. Distrito Federal, Brazil. Very atmospheric. And if you are sparrow fans, please leave suggestions in comments!

“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.”

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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

Capitol Seizure

“Jan. 6 committee will not make any criminal referrals, chairman says” [NBC (ChrisRUEcon)]. Others, however, disagree. “The chair of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot said Monday night that the panel will not make any criminal referrals, even though its leaders have previously hinted at the possibility of doing so. ‘Our job is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6 — what caused it — and make recommendations after that,’ Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters as he left the House chamber after the second day of public hearings by the panel. When pressed on the matter and whether the committee had ruled out the possibility of referring criminal charges, particularly for former President Donald Trump, Thompson replied: ‘We don’t have authority.'” Thanks, Nancy! “But the committee’s vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., suggested later on Monday that a decision was not yet final. ‘The committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time,’ she said in a statement on Twitter. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tweeted in a separate statement, that the committee ‘has yet to vote,’ on recommending criminal referrals.” • If the committee puts together a theory of case in which Trump broke the law, then — “rule of law!!!!”, “our democracy!!!!” — of course there should be a criminal referral, wtf. Anything else would give the unfortunate impression that all the Democrats were doing was re-impeaching Trump over the same set of events, just two years later.

“Pelosi’s Court: How the Jan. 6 Committee Undermined its Own Legitimacy” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “There is considerable evidence that Trump’s people planned for a certification challenge, but that was always anticipated….. Indeed, if opposing views were allowed [come on], then Republicans likely would call for the testimony of committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who voted to challenge the certification of the 2004 results of President George W. Bush’s reelection; committee member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) sought to challenge Trump’s certification in 2016. Both did so under the very law that Trump’s congressional supporters used in 2020. And Pelosi and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) praised the challenge organized by then-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2004. The difference, of course, is that while there were violent protests in 2016 in Washington, there was not a riot that breached the Capitol.”

Biden Administration

“White House Plans Saudi Arabia Trip But Says It’s Not About Oil” [Bloomberg]. • Not The Onion. After the headline writer wrote that, they probably had to leave for the day.


* * *

UPDATE “Young Voters, Who Helped Biden to Victory, Are a Big Weak Spot in the Democratic Coalition” [Morning Consult]. “America’s youngest voters accounted for the biggest turnout increase of any age group between the past two presidential elections, helping deliver full control of Washington to President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats. But with just under five months until the midterm elections, it’s this group of voters who present a major challenge for the Democratic Party’s fraught efforts to hold onto Congress this year: Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking shows Biden’s decline is especially grim among 18- to 34-year-olds. The Democrats among them are less likely than their older peers to see him as prioritizing the country’s biggest problems or holding true to his campaign promises, threatening to stunt base enthusiasm ahead of the consequential campaign season.” • If I were 18, that $600 Biden owes me would have made a real difference.

UPDATE ME: “Maine Prosecutor Election Unfolds Under the Shadow of State’s War on Drugs” [Bolts]. “The boundaries of prosecutorial reform have shifted recently as some DAs have drawn a starker line against low-level drugs prosecutions. In Maine, many advocates are no longer satisfied with making the criminal legal system less severe. They want prosecutors to entirely butt out of substance use, and have pushed the state to shift resources toward social services and treatment programs that operate outside of the criminal legal system….. Maine seemed to be on its way to an overhaul last June when the House passed LD 967, a bill that would have made drug possession a civil violation rather than a criminal offense. But the bill was eventually downed by the opposition of the Maine Prosecutors’ Association and the likely veto of Democratic Governor Janet Mills, a former prosecutor.”

UPDATE OR: “After Bitter Loss, Ousted Centrist Democrat Goes After Party That Backed Him” [HuffPo]. “Schrader also revealed in the interview that there is a “significant chance” he will endorse independent centrist Betsy Johnson’s gubernatorial campaign, rather than backing Democratic nominee Tina Kotek, the former speaker of the state’s House of Representatives.” • It’s certainly odd how party loyalty only seems to run one way.

PA: “John Fetterman’s new campaign manager is Philly-based Biden alum Brendan McPhillips” [Philadelphia Inquirer (Michael Ismoe)]. “Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has hired a Philadelphia-based veteran of President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign to lead his U.S. Senate run in the general election. Brendan McPhillips, a Democratic strategist who ran Biden’s campaign in Pennsylvania, will become Fetterman’s campaign manager, the campaign said Monday. McPhillips ran Pete Buttigieg’s Democratic presidential campaign in Iowa and has known Fetterman since 2015.” • First reaction: Yech! After consideration, here’s McPhillips’s bio:

McPhillips began a career in politics immediately after graduating college. His experience working on national campaigns includes Pennsylvania political director for the 2016 Clinton campaign and regional field director for the 2012 Obama campaign. McPhillips has also worked on gubernatorial and Congressional campaigns, including Andrew Gillum’s (D) 2018 primary campaign in Florida, John Fetterman’s (D) 2016 U.S. Senate campaign, and Kevin Strouse’s (D) U.S. House campaign.

Same reaction. That said, Fetterman won the primary (and his all-important brand) by visiting every Pennsylvania county, no matter how red. That was the cornerstone of his appeal. All he really had to do was keep pointing out that Oz was really from New Jersey. So why tamper with success? One reason is that hiring McPhillips makes it slighltly less likely that the Democrats will knife him. I’d speculate, however, that his stroke debilitated him more than we know (and there are the dreaded lifestyle changes, too).. Fetterman’s primary ground war must have been physically gruelling: Lots of travel, lots of bad food… and lots of danger of Covid. Fetterman’s got the cash for a less gruelling air war, and it takes a pro to organize such a thing. We’ll see if I’m right when Fetterman gets back on the trail, however gingerly.


“Liz Cheney for President?” [Robert Reich]. “In her courage and integrity, Cheney — although conservative — reminds me of Senator Paul Wellstone, one of the most progressive politicians I’ve ever known. They also have in common a love of democracy.” • AAAAAUGGHGH!!!! Help me!!!!!!! My eyes!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE “Biden’s age would be ‘major issue’ if he runs again, Axelrod says” [The Hill]. “Former senior Obama adviser David Axelrod warned that President Biden’s age could be a ‘major issue’ in the 2024 presidential election. ‘The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue,’ Axelrod told The New York Times of 79-year-old Biden. ‘He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality,’ he added.” • Ouch. Obama’s faction throws Biden under the bus?

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.

* * *

UPDATE “A new Latino media group is buying up — and shaking up — Spanish-language radio” [WLRN (Miami)]. “Univision is selling many of its Spanish-language radio stations — including Miami’s ultraconservative Radio Mambí — to a group led by Democrats. Creating a beachhead in a broadcast market often dominated by conservative or right-wing programming, a new and Latino-owned, bipartisan but Democrat-led media group will announce Friday it’s purchasing 18 major Spanish-language radio stations owned by the TelevisaUnivision network — including Miami’s Radio Mambí… WLRN has learned that the Latino Media Network, or LMN — headed by Stephanie Valencia, a Latino outreach director for former President Barack Obama, and Democratic activist Jess Morales Rocketto — has signed a ‘definitive agreement’ to buy the stations for $60 million. The media startup has launched after raising an initial $80 million. The AM and FM stations are located in 10 of the country’s largest Latino markets, including Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston and Las Vegas. LMN says it has secured financing from “leading Latino investors” as well as Lakestar Finance, an investment group associated with businessman-philanthropist George Soros…. The sales must still meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval before LMN can fully operate the stations. That process could last well into 2023.” • Well, this is the Democrat answer to losing the Latin vote: A platform for better messaging. Now, I’m not gonna shed tears if any irredentist Cuban radio stations disappear from the airwaves. But can’t Soros stick to screwing up Eastern Europe?

UPDATE Obama Legacy

“My Remarks at the 2022 Copenhagen Democracy Summit” [Barack Obama]. Obama starting to fit in very well with the globalists, one sees, with his foundation and all (“young leaders”). Here’s the opening paragraph:

Thank you. Thank you. Well, thank you, Sahra-Josephine, for that introduction, and the extraordinary work that you are doing. And I want to thank my old friend, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, for hosting me and our extraordinary Obama Foundation leaders here today. It is wonderful to see all of you and I’m confident that there have been extraordinary discussions that have been taking place since this conference began.

(Reminds me of something….)

I should really put on my yellow waders for this one, but this paragraph caught my eye;

I believe a genuine democracy must be rooted in the core principle that all persons, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical capacity, economic status — all persons have an inviolable dignity and worth, and that they are entitled to a say in how they are governed and deserve equal treatment in the eyes of the law. That to me is a core principle of democracy.

Funny, I could have sworn democracy was about “the people” (not “persons”) governing themselves. “Of the people, by the people, for the people,” as the old saw has it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “We Failed to Protect Abortion Rights. We Need a Labor-Based Strategy” [Jacobin]. “The US right has challenged [Roe v. Wade] for years in the streets and in the courts, state by state. The story of the end of Roe is the story of the most organized, militant, and successful conservative social movement of the past fifty years. In the end, the Democratic Party didn’t stop them. Neither did the reproductive rights and the social justice nonprofits that so many depend on for health care and legal support. Am I angry with the Right? Oh, yes…. But this outcome was entirely expected. As a result, I am now angrier with the abortion rights movement — from leftists to liberal Democrats. Now that Roe is almost dead, I’d like to be clear about why. Seventy percent of the US population supports abortion rights. The fact that we have lost these rights to a minority coalition should prompt self-criticism. It is our responsibility to put together a majority coalition that can safeguard basic reproductive rights. It is our responsibility to frame the issue in a way that challenges culture war narratives with a universalist program that advocates for those rights. We didn’t.”

UPDATE “Elephant In The Zoom” [The Intercept]. The deck: “Meltdowns Have Brought Progressive Advocacy Groups to a Standstill at a Critical Moment in World History.” This article is a horror story about the internal workings of NGOs, and well worth a read, especially if you like horror stories. But I think the article sums up the issue with NGOs in one sentence: “The reliance of so many organizations on foundation funding rather than member donations is central to the upheavals the groups have seen in recent years, one group leader said, because the groups aren’t accountable to the public for failing to accomplish anything, as long as the foundation flows continue.” As I’ve often said: Euthanize the NGOs.

UPDATE “The scandal embroiling Washington’s most venerable think tank, explained” [Vox]. “The scandal surrounding Allen’s resignation reveals how foreign and corporate interests have a bigger role in policy-idea production than we tend to realize, and how relatively little scrutiny the capital’s think tanks receive despite their outsize influence in policymaking.” And: “One central question is whether this scandal will prompt any broader reckoning with the way policy ideas are generated in the nation’s capital. • BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!


Lambert here: I am but a humble tape-watcher, and I’m perplexed about the current state of play. Case data is showing the fiddling-and-diddling behavior characteristic of a peak; on the other hand, the South (home of Abbot and DeSantis) is rising. Further, nothing I hear in anecdotal case data tells me there’s any relief. Hospitalization data (trailing) is easing (and so the hospital-centric public health establishment probably thinks Covid is done). Positivity data (leading) has been fiddling and diddling as it too does at peaks (latest, down). Then again, waste-water data (leading) is up everywhere but the Northeast. The wild card is variants BA.4/5 (and I thought we were supposed to be giving names to these things). All the variant sources I have say BA.4/5 are up, but they differ as to how much and where, and the data is two weeks behind (hat tip, CDC; who could have known we’d need to track variant data?). I am reminded of the “stairstep” (see the Case count chart below: I muttered about this at the time) that marked the Delta/Omicron transition, just before Omicron’s amazing take-off. Perhaps a BA.4/5 transition will exhibit the same behavior. OTOH, I could be projecting patterns into clouds. The future lies ahead!

• ”UK at start of new Covid wave driven by BA.4 and BA.5, new data suggests” [MSN]. “If you thought Covid-19 was dead and gone, think again. Early signs indicate that the UK may be at the start of a new wave of Covid infections driven by BA.4 and BA.5… According to preliminary data by Kei Sato at the University of Tokyo and colleagues, BA.4, BA.5 and BA.2.12.1 may have evolved to re-favour infection of lung cells, rather than upper respiratory tract tissue – making them more similar to earlier variants, such as Alpha or Delta. The propensity of earlier Omicron variants to prefer infecting non-lung tissue may be one reason why infections tend to be milder in most people.” The article concludes: “With luck, BA.4 and BA.5 will present just a minor blip in the UK’s transition out of the Covid crisis. But their emergence is a reminder that smooth sailing is by no means guaranteed.” • ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

* * *

• Smile!

• Brain damage considered not severe by CDC:

• “Xavier Becerra isolating in Sacramento after testing positive for COVID-19 during LA summit” [Sacramentoo Bee]. “U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra tested positive Monday for COVID-19 in Sacramento, the secretary’s second infection in a month…. ‘He is fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, and is experiencing mild symptoms,’ [Health and Human Services spokeswoman Sarah Lovenheim] wrote. ‘He will continue to perform his duties as HHS Secretary, working in isolation.'” • First I’ve heard from Becerra in months; I was wondering if he was OK. Apparently not. Oh, and we know what “mild” means. Then there’s this:

Makes you wonder if the Summit of the Americas was one of those superspreader events PMCs like so much. Superspreader events like these–

• “The irony — and ignominy — of medical conferences as superspreader events” [STAT]. “During the second week in May, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), a large medical organization, held its annual meeting in person in New Orleans… Organizers of the conference reported expecting more than 3,000 attendees, one of the largest events the society had ever hosted, and social media images from conference events showed large, closely packed indoor crowds in close contact and without masks on…. With cases and hospitalizations rising in many parts of the country, including New Orleans, and a community vaccination rate of around 50% for the host city, attending a large, multi-day, indoor meeting with after-hours socializing in the community posed numerous safety risks. In fact, a computing conference held in New Orleans the prior week was under scrutiny as a high transmission event. Yet the SAEM’s Covid policy was not modified to reflect contemporaneous public health data. Nor did the organizers implement a vaccine verification system, require boosters, or incorporate a Covid-19 testing strategy. Masks were ‘welcome’ but optional. No information was provided about ventilation and there were no efforts to minimize indoor crowding. No standards were suggested about minimizing spread in social gatherings. The three of us did not attend the conference in person, and are grateful for making that decision. The week after the conference, news of Covid-19 cases began circulating among our colleagues. Some shared stories of becoming ill, others described how they were pulled in to cover the shifts of others who were struck by Covid. To come up with a back-of-the-envelope estimate, we reached out informally to 15 emergency medicine programs across the country to see how many of their attending physicians, fellows, residents, and research staff attended the conference and how many cases were thought to have resulted from the conference. Among the 11 programs that responded, the number of attendees ranged from five to more than 50, and Covid-19 case rates ranged from 18% to 67%. While there are many caveats to the data (it’s a nonrandom, convenience sample, the data are self-reported estimates), they suggest that this single academic event was responsible for many hundreds of cases.” • Don’t worry. All the cases are mild. (STAT has to do a “back of the envelope” calcuation because the United States is not a serious country, and there’s no such thing as contact tracing.)

* * *

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:

Level, more or less. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the blue “Biden Line” at that point. Yesterday, the count was 107,700. Today, it’s 100,800, and 100,800 * 6 = a Biden line at 604,800. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes had a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

Here are cases for the last four weeks:


And in the South:

(US Census region: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.)

(Miami-Dade County, population 2.706 million; Palm Beach County, population 1.482 million.)

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

Down 1.9%. This tracker fiddles and diddles at peaks, but also not at peaks. (I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to and check on the goons at CDC.)

NOT UPDATED MWRA wastewater data:

Both South and North down. NOTE: I think I’m going to kill this one off (for now). With variants, I have too many charts.

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.

Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics:

Variant data, regional (Biobot), May 25:

Variant data, national (Walgreens), May 28:

Variant data, national (CDC), May 28. Without their stupid model:

You will note that the variant data differs by source. Moreover, the data is two weeks old. Not good!

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

Status quo; South a little improved.

The previous release:

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. Use the community transmission immediately below.

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:

West Coast, and Midwest are all red. Seeing some orange (“substantial”) on the East Coast. Great Plains speckled with yellow and blue. Go Vermont!

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Very volatile.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,036,084 1,035,847. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data. NOTE I think I’m going to kill this one off. With variants, I have too many charts.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation:

Inflation: “United States Producer Price Inflation MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Producer prices in the US increased 0.8% mom in May of 2022, following a 0.4% rise in April and matching forecasts. Prices of goods went up 1.4% with the biggest jump reported for gasoline (8.4%) followed by jet fuel, residential natural gas, steel mill products, diesel fuel, and processed young chickens.”

Zeitgeist Watch: “United States NFIB Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States edged down to 93.1 in May of 2022, the lowest since April of 2020, and compared to 93.2 in April. The share of owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months hit a record low.”

Zeitgeist Watch: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US fell to 38.1 in June of 2022 from 41.2 in the previous month, the lowest since August 2011…. Meanwhile, household financial stress hit the highest level since April 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, as gas prices hit new records fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the inflation rate hit a new 40-year-high 8.6%.”

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* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 18 Extreme Fear (previous close: 28 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 29 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 13 at 1:20 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Interest Rates. “Rates are being pushed up by higher inflation” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Groves of Academe

“Professors Need the Power to Fire Diversity Bureaucrats” [The Atlantic]. • Why stop there?

The Conservatory

Quite the rhythm section these guys have (hat tip wukchumni):

The Gallery

“‘She was the real pioneer.’ Marisol and Andy Warhol share the pop art limelight at PAMM” [Miami Herald]. “She was a sculptor, soft spoken and glamorous. Her work was featured in New York City’s best galleries. Magazines called her mysterious. Andy Warhol called her a friend. And though she played a key role the pop art movement of the ‘60s, her contributions were largely forgotten. Her name was Marisol, and she’s getting her due at the Pérez Art Museum Miami…. The goal of the show is to ‘place Marisol back into the pop art origin story of New York,; said Maritza Lacayo, assistant curator at PAMM.” • Example:

Police State Watch

“Texas Police Want Uvalde Bodycam Footage Suppressed Because It Could Expose Law Enforcement ‘Weakness’” [Vice]. • Why, it’s almost as if they have something to hide. Are we sure the gunman shot all the children?

News of the Wired

Location in Google; I don’t think this is human-made:

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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 DCBlogger:

DCBlogger: “Cherry tomatoes, snap peas, and bush sugar baby watermelon in converted shopping cart.” I like using string in gardening because it rots.

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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. IM Doc

    Gas prices going through the roof, young people all around me struggling to make ends meet, baby formula and now tampons nowhere to be found, diabetics increasingly unable to afford insulin, the mental health of the under 40 population imploding before our eyes, a still out of control pandemic, no money for school kid lunches this summer, Medicare premiums being increased, serious foreign policy issues abound, multiple economic issues cascading to the fore, interstate water crises flowing out of the woodwork, utility and electric bills set to explode, all kinds of problems with the electric grid. I can go on and on and on.

    And yet we see that one of our critical leaders has time for this

    We are officially no longer a serious country. First with the ice cream stunt and now this she owes a personal apology to Marie Antionette. She also owes an apology to all the Speakers of the House in my lifetime – Sam Rayburn, Jim Wright, Carl Albert, Dems all. They were certainly politicians, but at least they acted like they gave some thought to the working men and women of this country. And somehow, I do not remember a single one of them partaking of this kind of side show during crises that occurred on their watch.

    1. TBellT

      Was dissapointed in Raja for pumping Nancy up, but Jinkx made a face I could agree with, I know who I’m rooting for.

      The reaction from my viewing group was quite clearly nausea, but not necessarily surprise given that Ru is a fracker.

      1. Judith

        I have not disabled ads on NC. Amusingly, after I clicked the link In IM Doc’s message, I started seeing, let’s just say, a certain type of skin care product and a suggestive NSFW photo.

    2. flora

      IM Doc, me thinks that we – as in most of us here and across the land, as the saying goes, including all voters – are still a serious country. I now doubt that our erstwhile “leaders” even understand what the term means anymore. Speaker Wright had his problems, but he still saw a country in his orbit of important larger concern and responsibility, instead of only attending to his stock market portfolio’s gains. My 2 cents.

      1. TBellT

        including all voters

        If you vote for either of the two parties, and aren’t part of the top 30%, you’re probably not serious.

        1. flora

          Thanks for pigeonholing my “probable” station in life, and dismissing me depending on assumed said station. / ;)

          1. TBellT

            I said nothing about your station. You said “all voters”, clearly that can not be the case, since our elected leaders suck and there actions have benefited only a certain section of voters.

            The last two recoveries being slanted towards the top 30% has been consistently covered in Water Cooler. I haven’t seen the data on other recoveries but given the rise in the Gini Coefficient since at least the 1980’s, it’s probably the case for each recovery since then. Overseen by both parties and a “bipartisan consensus”.

            Not sure how any person could be on the losing side of this arrangement and think a reversal can be achieved by electoral politics alone. But please enlighten me.

            I of course never knew any of the Speakers you talk about. Only Hastert, the child molester, Boehner, the crier, Ryan, the lier, and Pelosi the corpse. I’ve never had any illusions of American seriousness.

          2. flora

            adding: Krystal and Saagar. Feminism. (Pains me to agree with this.) utube, ~10 minutes.

            Krystal Ball: How Hillary KILLED Feminism For A Generation


            The individual aspiration vs what’s good for the larger group within the country. etc. Substitute ‘wokesterism’ for ‘feminism’ and you know where we are in modern politics, imo.

          1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

            My solidly upper-middle class elderly parents have voted for the Democratic Party for their entire long lives. They’re not anywhere near the top 3% — maybe in the top 20%? The middle class is the core of the problem, IMO, cuz without their support, the 1% would never have gotten where they are today.

                1. flora

                  Based on economic class instead of on political affiliation or personal opportunism? Stereotyping is, well, stereotyping. Even per economic class.

              1. Objective Ace

                Yes–but its not their fault. They’re too busy struggling just to get by to inform themselves on the issues they need to responsibly vote. That and public education has been gutted so thoroughly they may not even have the capacity to actively inform themselves

                1. jsn

                  And, they’re the most thoroughly and comprehensively propagandized population on earth.

                  From the growing taxonomy of American “Big Lies”, our privatized “freedom of the press” is probably the most damaging.

                  I’ve been an apostle for this site since I stumbled on it in 2007, but regret my performance so far!

            1. Ed Miller

              Middle class is the problem? Many solid blue class workers are middle class.

              No, the Upper Middle Class, which includes virtually all of the PMC, is the problem. They are in the top 20% economically, and most are the majority of the top 10%. They quite strongly align themselves with the upper class leadership in this country. Not a lot of empathy in that group.

              1. TBellT

                Don’t forget the landed gentry and the small business tyrants. Not PMC but also part of the top 20%, they just support the other side of the 2 party system.

    3. Wukchumni

      And yet we see that one of our critical leaders has time for this –

      Yes, there is a Cabaret feel to things, but it will pass.

        1. Wukchumni

          Well, I was just being clever with the pass part, trying to tie it into Pelosi doing a drag show where she passes for a 56 year old from 40 feet away because of an enormous amount of plastic surgery.

          But yes, tomorrow belongs to something wicked this way comes.

          1. ambrit

            Reminding me of the story Bradbury did where a handfull of silver coins are of the utmost utility. Ye shall grimly reap what ye do sew. Child’s play!
            Ray Bradbury, “The Man Upstairs.”
            And speaking of the “drag” part of Madame Pelosi’s performance, well, it certainly does remind one of a certain broad shouldered ex-Presidential wife, (partner?!)
            Still, that does come of spending the occasional moment, never to be recovered, on the ‘Alt Channels.’
            Keep on being defensible!

    4. Jason Boxman

      Honestly, the situation is increasingly terrifying.

      And in the midst of all this, the elite are happily going about, getting (re)infected with a novel virus that seems to potentially cause long term brain damage.

      This is not good.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the elite are happily going about, getting (re)infected with a novel virus that seems to potentially cause long term brain damage

        Check out “• “The irony — and ignominy — of medical conferences as superspreader events” in the Covid section. If it weren’t the new normal I’d call it extraordinary.

      2. curlydan

        Becerra’s reinfection could just be Paxlovid rebound. I didn’t see a reference to that in the article. Seems like a simple question for a reporter to ask.

    5. Janie

      Carl Albert! Wow, that does go back quite a ways. The Little Giant from Little Dixie, aka Southeast Oklahoma. Some of us have a certain age remember him fondly, as well as dimly LOL. On two different occasions, he was next in line for the presidency.

    6. Quentin

      Nancy Pelosi? If I didn’t know better I’d she’s not a day over 16. Giggles and kicks. Embarrassing when I learned how far off I was while she didn’t bat an eyelash.

    7. Mikel

      The only way the billionaires make trillionaire status now is to get as close to slave labor as possible…even in the “developed” countries.
      They want people to be desparate and work for &%^ wages and take a lot of &^%.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Inflation. Very steep inflation. That’s how they plan to make trillionaire status.

    8. Anthony G Stegman

      It’s Pride Month, so Pelosi is pandering to the gays in her San Francisco Congressional district. To be expected of someone like Pelosi who fears nothing due to her political stature.

    9. chris

      The heating oil I just purchased to fill my tank for the winter cost me 6.25$/gal. I’m told next week it will be 6.50$/gal. Last year in July, it was 4.10$/gal. I think it’s going to be a bad winter for a lot of people in the Northeast :(

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Just paid 3.50 for propane
        Diesel now up to 5.35
        Gas 4.55
        Don’t know how I can express my gratitude jb.

        1. chris

          Our regular gas is currently 5.10$/gal. Diesel is about 6$/gal.

          I’m expecting 7$/gal for regular gas by the end of the summer.

      2. VT Digger

        It was $3.75 last winter. This winter it will be $7. People who use oil will freeze or be massively in debt. $1000 a fill easy. Not sure why this isn’t news….

        1. chris

          I don’t know why either. Except that the people who rely on oil burners for heat tend to not be the people who the DNC cares about.

          1. chris

            No, we still have three months to lay in a chord or two. Or buy pellets. But like everything else, this is easier and cheaper to do if you have spare funds now. So the people who wait (or who have to wait for assistance) will pay even higher prices.

    10. Sardonia

      “Drag is what America is all about.”

      Where’s the lie? :)

      It’s a drag, man….

    11. christofay

      Nancy Pelosi’s body double at the Drag Race looks more like Margot Thatcher, a predecessor to Boris Johnson, than like Nancy.

    12. Maritine

      Trump is looking pretty good in retrospect.
      Never thought I would say that.

      Nuclear war and the end of life on earth is a high price to pay to preserve the LNG, Oil Company and agribusiness profiteers for a few more years.

      Noticed Soros wants to buy Spanish language radio and tv network. Guess Biden (The Democrat’s) 26% approval rating must be reversed.

  2. Bugs

    Love the dub from the Clash. Black Market EP has the best dub cuts and then there are all the 12″ singles with dub versions. And then I went to Jamaica for a month in 1982 on the advice of a Milwaukee travel agent who set me up and I found out about the real thing. Amazing time. How to become a commie.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > dub cuts

      When I was a mere sprat, and Rolling Stone was a serious music magazine, one of their writers went down to Jamaica and wrote about the reggae sound systems. IIRC, he described the basslines as “gummy.” So I went to a local record store and bought “Catch a Fire.” Holy moley! Then I bought every reggae record I could find, finally ending up with dub LPs with no covers or unlikely ones. Great, great music. All the LPs lost now, in various moves; I wish I still had them. I’ve never been to Jamaica, though. Wow!

      1. Bugs

        I’d love to go back someday. I’m old now but Jamaica is in my heart forever because of that time there. It was right after Bob Marley died so there was a lot of reverence for the man.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Khruangbin

          Interesting they draw from Thailand’s luk thung. There is a book to be written on country-to-city transitions in reggae, the blues, luk thung/morlam and probably others. In general, magnificent rhythms and textures, as well as similar business trajectories. It’s encouraging to know that dub still lives on.

  3. ChrisRUEcon


    > One reason is that hiring McPhillips makes it slighltly less likely that the Democrats will knife him.

    Exactly. If one subscribes to the belief that one function of the Democrat Party is to serve as a political grift consultancy pipeline, then this definitely checks out.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I think that injecting a Clintobama-Bidenite agent into the Fetterman campaign is part of a Wall Street Democrat plot to engineer Fetterman’s defeat by sabotaging the Fetterman campaign from within.

      Fetterman appeared to instinctively understand the enemy-nature of the mainstream Democrats before his stroke. Has his stroke left him cognitively-challenged enough that he is no longer able to cognitionize the basic fact that this Brendan McPhillips is an enemy agent tasked to destroy, wreckerise, sabotage, etc. his campaign from within? I think Fetterman has just failed a very basic Darwin test by allowing this vile Clintonite filth into his campaign.

      ( Lambert know more than I do about these things. But if professional support through a period of physical debility was the reason, and yet political survival or even victory was the goal, Fetterman could have selected one of the most vicious brutal Sanders warriors he could find.

      I believe McPhillips was injected into the Fetterman campaign to destroy it from within in order to produce a massive “politically-discrediting” defeat for Fetterman. I guess we’ll just see).

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If you are correct about McPhillilps working for Fetterman from before, that would be part of the more-knowledge you have than I have. So I will hope your analysis and prediction are correct, and that Fetterman is able to win one way or another.

          I suppose if I were truly paranoid, I would say that McPhillips having worked for Fetterman from before would be part of the long-game of gaining trust which a mole plays in order to work its way to a high-enough position to be able to destroy the organization from within. But that would be paranoia run-amok, I suppose.

          1. ambrit

            That would also be a case of “..you can’t be too cynical.” Now, just between us, how many times recently has that theory been proven out?
            I’d have to read up some on just what this McPhillips actually accomplished in his first run at managing politics for Fetterman.
            If Fetterman was seriously hurt by the stroke, then this could be a semi-desperate try to divert a lot of the stress off of Fetterman’s shoulders. The degree of personal work done by Fetterman in the latter part of this campaign will tell the tale.
            Oh, and Dr. Oz coming on in commercials and intoning, “I am a doctor, and I know just how sick my opponent is…” could be devastating.
            As someone mentioned earlier, Fetterman had better get ahead of this quick. Explain nothing, make no excuses, attack, attack, attack.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > If you are correct about McPhillilps working for Fetterman from before, that would be part of the more-knowledge you have than I have.

            I quoted Ballotpedia. Read the the whole post!

        2. Michael Ismoe

          Fetterman’s old campaign manager (the guy who won the primary) was named “Senior Advisor” to make room for this guy. I’m sure that this will have no adverse effect on Fetterman’s campaign, and I am just as sure that Bernie is going to transform the Democratic Party any day now.

          “People don’t transform the Dem Party. The Dem Party transforms people.” Ask AOC.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Fetterman’s old campaign manager (the guy who won the primary) was named “Senior Advisor” to make room for this guy.

            If I’m right in my theory about shifting to the air war, that would have to happen.

      1. nippersdad

        The question then is where his loyalties lie, with his client or wanting to remain within the Democratic party ecosystem. As we have seen recently with Paul Mason, he wasn’t there for the benefit of Corbyn.

        Fetterman has best watch his back.

    2. Arizona Slim

      If I was still living in PA and if I was a 2020 Bernie Sanders campaign supporter, I wouldn’t be happy about this hire.

      That being said, I don’t think that Fetterman will be able to resume campaigning any time soon. I also think that Dr. Oz is going to hammer on the health issue until Election Day.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Funny how our Populist Candidates keep having Heart Attacks and Strokes…

        As far as Mcphillips…KILL IT WITH FIRE.

        Def lost faith now…sorry Lambert

        1. ambrit

          Yeah you rite cher.
          I too remember reading about chemicals that can “cause” strokes and ‘heart attacks’ without traces left for forensics.
          I would also wonder about how far Fetterman can trust his medicos. Are they long term resources or new hires?
          Stay safe down there in the Big Easy.

  4. Michael Fiorillo

    Incredible how someone so adept at undermining Left-ish factions in her own Party can simultaneously be so politically tone deaf and incompetent elsewhere.

    And yeah, Jim Wright may have been a bit of a crook, but he was a pretty effective opponent of Reagan’s shadow war in Nicaragua, and I’ve always thought that’s why they went after him.

  5. herman_sampson

    So it was a fortunate for the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua that they were not invited to the Summit (as also for those who boycotted it)?

  6. Samuel Conner

    re: COVID graphics — it may be worth noting that the upper end of that “undercount ratio” range, 8x, would put the current “new cases” above the peak of the detected new cases in the Omicron wave.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s what the anecdotes are telling us, it’s true (which is not a slam in anecdotes, at some point there are enough of them that they’re data…).

  7. flora

    re: Groves of Academe.

    Lemme tell ya, the growing push back against wokesterism (an identitarian libertarian ideology, imo) on campus is growing, thanks in no small part to the larger society’s revulsion toward wokesterism. This isn’t about Jackie Robinson breaking a race barrier, something with a larger point for society. Even my uni’s chancellor (a very cautious and left-leaning and finger-to-the-wind man) has sent out a memo about the “misuse of title IX”. How can the public academies continue to lobby for shinking state funding if they continue to piss off the voter/tax payers the politicians must answer to? And the public academies depend on state tax funding.

    1. amechania

      First they laugh at you, then they capitalize on your culture, then people hate it.

      The cycle is complete. Next up, more laughter and progress. :)

    2. Laura in So Cal

      So last summer when we were researching colleges for my son by doing the online campus tours, we were instantly put off by the number of schools that LED with their diversity/inclusivity efforts along with mentions of safe spaces etc. This instantly demoted a school down our rankings. Most schools LED with their programs and with amenities along with advantages of their location. If the BEST thing about your school is this stuff then we probably don’t want to go there.
      My son has said the years that he wanted to go out of state and leave California. It turned out that he HAD to go out of state since he isn’t vaccinated for Covid-19. He will start in the fall at a state university that doesn’t have a covid vaccine mandate (and never did).

  8. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” • Brain damage considered not severe by CDC: ”

    This is more evidence to me that CDC is deliberately trying to facilitate the spread of covid, in this case by ‘smoothing out’ a concerned public with reassurances of “nothing to see here”. The plan is to keep enough of the public calm enough about covid to not get upset enough to demand active covid containment measures. That way, covid can remain uncontained enough long enough to make sure it is spread to every single person in America.

    Deliberately. On purpose.

    Over and over and over again.

    Here’s a cartoon showing the general principle . . .

    Its a stretch, but try thinking of the dog and the man as CDC, Trevor as those of us who suspect what the CDC is doing, and covid as the off-screen slaughterhouse which the man and the dog are working to lead the sheep into. And the sheep are the majority of trusting citizens who still believe something the CDC says about something.

    1. Judith

      I have no doubt that the intentions of the CDC et al are malicious. But what is the goal of repeatedly infecting the entire population with covid variants? The end result of that is everyone dead or disabled.

      1. Jason Boxman

        They must be smoking their own supply. I can’t think of any other explanation, because they’re themselves enthusiastically modeling suicidal behavior.

        America is a suicide pact. (iPhone won’t let me swype suicide. I guess that stops suicides…?)

      2. c_heale

        Imo the goal is to make C19 into a chronic condition so that the pharma companies can profit from “vaccines” etc in the years ahead.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Not totally “everyone”. Just “most” of us. Just enough to make their Jackpot numbers.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Hell, I doubt he was much better in 2016, when he claims he considered jumping in.

      I love how NOW it’s fair game to talk about Biden’s age. But I remember the aghastitude in 2020 when anyone dared mention Biden wasn’t as sharp as he once was. Not that Axelrod and the like really care. Biden has served their purpose. This is just Dem damage control at this point.

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t want to make the claim that the Donkey Show is desperate, but I heard the Major Major Major Major players are holding a séance, trying to conjure up Harold Stassen.

        1. Questa Nota

          They do have the stASSen part, although he is probably quarantined with Donkeypox. /s

          1. ambrit

            That’s assuming that Hillary isn’t a Zeta Reticulan in disguise. If she is one, then she is a secret member of the Church of Scientology! Od’s Bodkins!
            I think that Hillary’s operating mantra now is; “Everything that was old is new again.”

    2. Pelham

      Agreed. But Sanders is older and at least as sharp as ever, which is saying a lot for him.

      So I’m inclined to set aside age, for the most part. What’s important is Biden’s performance. And I suspect, given his record over many years, that Biden at half his current age would be no better in the Oval Office. There’s little evidence to suggest this guy would ever have been up to tackling the challenges the country faces today.

      1. nippersdad

        He had such a lot to do with the creation of the challenges we face today that one has to wonder if he is not spiking the football at this point. If one views his performance as that of a front man, then one can see why he doesn’t even appear to be trying.


  9. Punxsutawney

    Family Blog Kurt Schraeder. The wealthy scion of a family who made their money in pharmaceuticals. This is a man who rarely voted for anything that would benefit average working people, especially on medical issues. There was never loyalty to the party for him, just to wealth. One of the most corrupt Democrats in the country.

    His endorsement of Betsy Johnson, the intended spoiler funded heavily by wealth like Phil Knight to hopefully split enough of the Democratic vote off to get someone who will kow-tow to the wishes of the business community here in Oregon into the governor’s office. Hopefully this backfires on him. I know that I would never vote for someone he endorses, but the question is how well informed are Oregonians. Betsy will pull some of the Republican vote as well I suspect.


  10. Mark Gisleson

    I’ve heard others comment about receiving DSCC/DCCC junk mail. This is what I got in today’s mail.

    Nancy Pelosi just sent me a windowboxed letter with only the bottom half peeking out of what looked like five one-dollar US postage stamps inside.

    Unsurprisingly they were five 1¢ yellow apple stamps from 2016 and they were hard-glued onto the return envelope enclosed for the usual push poll and donation request. But a nice gimmick because who remembers what one-penny stamps from six years ago looked like?

    Even my student loan collectors weren’t this hard core. How privileged do they have to be to think that they’re entitled to shake down former party donors with (I’m guessing, I threw everything out) a push poll and a shaming request for money because if I don’t donate then Trump is my fault.

    They were real stamps. I would love to know how they got put on that envelope and how much that person was getting paid and if they’re offered opportunities to join a union.

    1. nippersdad

      I doubt that stamp lickers in India make much or are allowed to join unions. But I am prepared to be surprised. Maybe she hired people in Haiti through the Clinton Foundation to do it for her.

    2. LifelongLib

      I don’t get much junk snail mail, but I do get a lot of spam email along the lines of “Our records say [LifelongLib] voted for McCain in 2008! Can this be true? Please send us money to prove we’re wrong!”. I signed up with the local Dem party in 2020 so I could vote for Sanders in a “primary” and also donated to him. Maybe whoever was handling his mailing lists passed them along?

  11. Wukchumni

    Rapture Index: Closes up one on Interest Rates. “Rates are being pushed up by higher inflation” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)
    Wow, we’re knock knock knocking on heavens door. When all the evangs exit stage upwards upon getting the signal to leave, can we equitably distribute their stuff to help with supply shortage issues?

  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Maine Prosecutor Election Unfolds Under the Shadow of State’s War on Drugs

    Thanks for posting this one. So Sartoris is challenging the incumbent to keep people from being locked up on drug charges, is she? Too bad she can’t seem to say so in her campaign ads, which are absolutely everywhere in Cumberland county. Every time I turn on the interwebs or the teevee or check my mail I’m being bombarded with ads and mailers from her. And what they say has nothing to do with limiting drug convictions – it’s all about how the incumbent is a “fake” Democrat” who once donated to a Republican and supposedly prosecuted a victim of sexual abuse rather than protecting her, although no specifics are given – it’s just a bullet point. Also, she is being very heavily funded by a George Soros PAC to the tune of $300K, as even her own campaign ads admit. Who pours that kind of money into a local DA primary in a small state?!?! There’s got to be more at stake here than wanting to do right by low level drug offenders. I smell a rat.

    Can’t vote in the primary myself being an independent, but my better half is so sick of the smear ads and attacks from Sartoris that she’s planning on voting for the other guy without knowing anything about either of them except what she’s seem from the ads.

  13. Wukchumni

    When I lived in El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, it wasn’t uncommon for those swayed by the charms (read: cheap houses) of Palmdale or Moreno Valley to live out in BFE, compared to where they worked.

    Go-juice is nearing $7.77 at the outdoor one-armed bandit, an odd jackpot to be sure, but at what point does it cost more to commute to and from work than what you’re making @ work?

    1. Carolinian

      Misery loves the company of greater misery. The 4.39 I just paid seems puny by comparison,

      And re Pelosi–a few more months and we won’t have her to kick around any more? To me she seemed dotty back in the noughts. It’s bizarre that she is–with interruptions to be sure–still speaker.

      Which is why the Dem outrage over Trump is also bizarre. He’s no more frivolous than they are. Perhaps it’s that they hate looking in that funhouse mirror.

    2. scarnoc

      I live at the east end of the Inland Empire. My neighbors who commute west are understandably very upset about fuel prices. A breaking (braking?) point is on its way.

    3. Adam Eran

      Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly unforeseen for a city (and state) that’s done everything possible to eliminate viable (non-subsidized) public transportation.

      To have working transit, which provides passenger miles at roughly 1/8 the cost of single-occupant autos, one must build mixed use (residences, offices, commerce, even light industry) neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly streets (set back sidewalks, on-street parking) at 11 dwelling units per acre or better. Ten units per acre is duplexes. Twenty is two-story apartments.

      The good news is that the word is out about this, and the state now requires “Complete Street” (pedestrian-friendly) for all new development. The bad news is there are an awful lot of neighborhoods whos transit status remains unviable, and a lot of innocent people like your neighbors are going to suffer the consequences.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Hey now, we are just transitioning to green energy, according to jb.
        Too bad we haven’t really built the infrastructure to enable this.
        Just a slight oversight, meanwhile we are sourcing a wood burning stove for this winter.
        That has to be ‘green’ as hell.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > a wood burning stove for this winter. That has to be ‘green’ as hell.

          Well, don’t burn green word, you’ll get creosote build-up. Better yet, address any problems with the products of combustion.]

          I loved the quality of heat my woodstove gave, there’s nothing more comfortable than what radiates from a big steal box of thermal mass, but I gave it up years ago, so I’m not up on the latest ways to burn wood without generating too much air pollution. Perhaps readers can help.

          This would actually be a good post, assuming we’re as fracked on heating oil/gas come this winter as we are now. It’s surely not too late to install a wood stove!

          1. Polar Socialist

            Having been exposed as a child to both iron thermal mass (kitchen) and ceramic thermal mass (bedroom) I must say I prefer the latter vastly more.

            There’s really no way to burn wood at home without releasing particles, but with properly dried wood and good draft the air quality will remain acceptable. Basically the hotter the fire, the better it burns everything and the less it releases nasty stuff. So ensure heat and especially air and you’re good to go.

        2. Amateur Socialist

          Ordered a 2nd smaller wood burner for our place. Good firewood is up about 10% from last year but heating oil is over double and still going up afaik.

          With a 2nd stove going to supplement the larger one, we will only need heating oil for hot water. Some latest generation models use air recirculation to reduce soot/particulate emissions pretty effectively I think.

      2. kareninca

        Public transportation looked a lot better before covid. I would not want to get on a bus or even a train these days.

  14. Judith

    Two interesting articles from brasilwire:


    Bloomberg reported late on Saturday 11th June, two days after their meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, that far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro asked Joe Biden for help against former president Lula da Silva for the October election.

    Bolsonaro trails Lula by around 20 points in the polls, and as it stands is considered to have only a very slim chance of re-election.

    The request came in a private meeting following a public press event where the two leaders were photographed together to promote the summit, which has been seen as a failure due to the non participation of various regional leaders. Bolsonaro’s participation was secured when Biden sent a special envoy to convince the Trump ally to attend.

    According to unnamed people “familiar” with the matter, Bolsonaro portrayed his leftist opponent Lula as a “danger to US interests”.



    On June 10th, the day after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s historic first ever meeting with US President Joe Biden at the Summit of the Americas, his government has resumed it’s ongoing attempt to preemptively undermine this year’s Presidential elections, in a scenario in which the incumbent is trailing opposition leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva by 21 points in the polls.

    Last month, Superior Electoral Court Justice Edson Fachin wrote a response to an official complaint casting doubt on the electoral system written by Army General and Defense Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira de Oliveira. In it, he emphasized that while the 7 suggestions in the complaint are welcome, some of them – for example, guaranteeing that a team of cyber security specialists monitor the elections – refer to mechanisms that are already in place, and all of them are based on faulty premises. Furthermore, Fachin wrote, although the military has the right to express its opinions, the Court has the final word on any changes to the electoral system.

    On Friday, Defense Minister Oliveira released a 29-point statement reiterating his demands, repudiating Fachin’s response and making a machista threat that the Court is not respecting the “prestige” of the armed forces. Fachin immediately answered, emphasizing that according to Brazil’s 1988 Constitution, it is illegal to change the voting system this close to a presidential election.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If Bolsonaro is re-selected, he will burn down every last tree in the Amazon so that China can grow soybeans everywhere a tree used to be. Is that bad for US interests, from a climate d’chaos decay standpoint?

      1. Late Introvert

        I know it’s bad that Brasil would do that, but you know those of us in the US have already done that, right? My own home state used to be covered by tall grass prairie with humus down 12 feet or more, now it’s all in the Gulf, with a ‘hole mess o’ Roundup mixed in.

        I feel terrible about all of it, that’s all.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Its not “Brasil” that would do that. Its the Bolsonaro Conspiracy in particular that would do that. And seeks Biden’s help to support doing that. And solicit’s Biden’s interference in Brasil’s upcoming election to facilitate the Bolsonaro Conspiracy in doing that.

          Now, if one wants to feel proud of how “guilty” one can feel about America’s slaughter of the tall-grass prairie and therefore claim that American therefor has no right to comment about the Bolsonaro Conspiracy’s effort to destroy the Amazon, one might remember that Brazil long ago destroyed as much NON-Amazon habitat to create farmland as America ever did. So what exactly is one feeling “guilty” about here? Brazil already long ago achieved its ” tit-for-tat” habitat destruction to balance America’s habitat destruction. The Bolsonaro Conspiracy’s planned destruction of the Amazon would be totally gratuitous. And not what a majority of Brazilians want at all.

          Which is why Bolsonaro is requesting Biden’s help to rig Brazil’s election for Bolsonaro. Is Biden still the same piece of sh!t he was when he rigged Clarence Thomas onto the Supreme Court? I guess Brasil is going to find out.

          1. super extra

            I assure you he is still the same piece of sh!t he was then. The real question is if he still commands the power and means to actually help Bolsonaro in a lasting way, or if all he can do is cast doubt on the outcome of the election in Brazil. Considering how shaky he is going into his own party’s relection this fall and how the news on Ukraine this week has been clearing its throat about ‘intelligence failures’ leading to their defeat I am not confident he has that power and means for much of anything. Maybe he’ll pull another spectacular own-goal and get Brasil to pass hand counted, hand marked paper ballots as a result of his meddling instead.

  15. scarnoc

    Me: Perhaps I’ve become too cynical…
    Me: *Reads Robert Reich substack”
    Me: No, it seems that I have been overly-optimistic once again.

    Bloomberg reports on the theme of regret, whocuddaknown, and so forth.

    1. montanamaven

      Yeh, Democrats should take Liz Cheney and Republicans get Tulsi. Excellent swap.

    2. notabanker

      Well if you ever wondered what a corporate governed dystopia looked like, search no further. The future is now.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > whocuddaknown

      Whocuddaknowdom, the domain of our experts…



      All surely to become useful soon when the Ukraine blame cannons really start firing!

  16. jr

    Setting aside The Atlantic’s long running role in fostering the diversity witch hunts on college campuses with their uncritical support for and utilization of identitarian politics, I found this phrase revealing:

    “enforcing leftist speech norms most familiar to highly educated cultural elites”

    Cultural elites don’t speak, nor are they familiar with, “leftist speech norms” because said norms do not exist. Leftists speak the language of the people they are reaching out to, they go out of their way to avoid alienating, class reinforcing jargon and concepts in an effort to earn the attention of those they seek to inform and organize. This writer is referring to the synthetic Left, the posers and frauds who make up so much of their readership.

    1. anon y'mouse

      you’re (and i am too, when i make your same point elsewhere) shouting into the wind.

      both the Dems and Reps have agreed to call Dems (or intraparty, “some” dems) “The Left” and now everyone is using this fake parameter.

      best we rebrand ourselves, although tankie is what they tend to call us when they’ve noticed we exist at all. or they lump us in with the “loony” left—“socialist” Sanders, AOC and the Identitarians.

    2. Late Introvert

      Agreed. A leftist who can’t be thoughtful and listen well and accommodate all slices of the human condition, and meet them there with a big heart? Well, you’re not a leftist, or at least what I like to think is one. Trump voters seem more sane in some cases then the wokeistas, and I have to deal with all and more, with a public facing job.

      A good leftist can also plant ideas and make connections with people of all stripes.

  17. haywood

    Re: A new Latino media group is buying up — and shaking up — Spanish-language radio

    Shrewd long-term thinking here, the kind Dems will need much much more of if they’re to survive the next few decades. FM radio is still big in much of working class America and, as a for-profit business, this enterprise won’t be quite as endeared to the hopelessly disfunctional progressive foundation industrial complex.

  18. Tom Doak

    Obama’s line that people “are entitled to a say in how they are governed” sounds very much like

    Access to government

    P.S. I’ve been getting campaign flyers from my local Dems and every time I see them advocating “access to health care” I cross them off my list. Thanks for highlighting this “tell” of indoctrination.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Started to read his remarks but gave up after about half a dozen paragraphs. You can see that what he says is not what he is talking about. So when he talks about a backsliding in democracy, what he actually means isa backsliding in corporatism.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > what he says is not what he is talking about

        Obama was also a two-term President who had to power to address the problems he now bemoans. For example, Trump’s CARES Act* prevented a debacle like Obama’s grinding decade-long “recovery” to baseline levels of employment. So, if the labor market is your metric for income inequality, Trump did better than Obama. Not that these adoring “young leaders” would notice…

        NOTE * Just give people money! It’s not hard!

        1. Pat

          Call me wild and crazy, but outside of the gas debacle I am of the opinion that the runaway inflation is not random stupidity but intentional meant not only to be a repudiation of the success of the CARES Act (by blaming it), but a punishment for the random thoughts it might have produced in the public. For instance that punitive low paying jobs aren’t worth it and that if the government sanctions taking well paying jobs with benefits away from people it should give people money to compensate them. Lord knows the never changing mantra from the most important organs of TPTB is that people make too much money.

          Nothing Trump’s administration did was to be a success, even those things that were embraced like Operation Warp Speed.

    2. anon y'mouse

      the next tell you should be trained in is “working families”. or when they want to more obviously emphasize bootstrapping, “hard working families”.

      even “socialist” Sanders uses this tell.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > working families

        Working families sounds like a pragmatic adjustment in political rhetoric (“family values”), but it’s not innocuous at all. Not all members of the working class have families in the ordinary sense of the word, nor are their family structures necessarily “white bread,” as it were. So “working families” dissolves solidarity. As indeed we have seen the Working Families Party do.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Access to government

      What Obama is saying is highly compatible with the “stakeholder” concept at WEF.

      People have a say in how they are governed, corporations have a say in how people are governed, NGOs have a say in how people are governed….

  19. Tom Stone

    I dropped by the Library today and they had a chart showing the daily new Covid cases in Sonoma County from May 1st to June 10th.
    1,700 and change May 1st, 4,400 on June 10th.
    These are the official numbers.
    Multiply by six and it’s impressive for a County with 300K and change in population.
    Also $7 gas and very few wearing masks…
    Sebastopol is having a “Town Party” celebrating 150 years next weekend, thousands are expected…

  20. Sardonia

    “Liz Cheney for President?”

    That poor woman is working so hard. She could really use a va-cay.

    Hunting trip with Daddy?

  21. Wukchumni

    The Farmer John meatpacking plant, one of the largest employers in the city of Vernon, will close its only California site next year “due to the escalating cost of doing business” in the state.

    According to Smithfield Foods, the parent company of Farmer John, the plant will close in early 2023.

    “We look at our costs on a per hog, per head basis, and the cost to process hogs in our Vernon facility, I can’t give you a precise figure but it is exorbitantly higher than the cost to process those hogs in other facilities where we operate,” Smithfield Foods corporate affairs VP Jim Monroe told Fox Los Angeles.

    Every Angeleno grew up with Farmer John, and I think with the plant closing they are probably no other major food producers in LA come 2023, nor many commercial orchards either-essentially a food dead zone.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      “Smithfield Foods” itself was bought by a Chinese business. So was this decision made in China? Is the meat which was processed at Farmer John now to be shipped by carbon skyflooding ship to China to be processed there at a Chinese wage with Chinese costs and sent back by carbon skyflooding megaship to America to be sold at an American price? A price which will now be above what the newly disemployed people from Farmer John will be able to pay?

      This is the face of Free Trade.

      Here is an article about who and what owns “Smithfield Foods”.

  22. Stephen V.

    Quote:The reliance of so many organizations on foundation funding rather than member donations is central to the upheavals the groups have seen in recent years…
    Lambert is correct about the death rattle here.
    Gandhi had it right A HUNDRED YEARS AGO? If your members can’t or won’t fully fund the operations of your org–why have an org.? A do-nothing sector run by “professionals.”

    1. Skk

      I do rate Mahatma Gandhi highly, but two quotes on the funding aspect :

      “He has made the lot of passive resisters easy,” Gandhi wrote in the Indian Opinion after the third donation of Rs 25,000, “and the fact that there are at the back of the struggle such distinguished Indians, encourages those who are engaged in it, and probably brings them nearer their goal.”

      He also separately acknowledged that the paper, which served as the mouthpiece of the movement, had “never been in a position to pay its way” and would have been “in dire straits if Mr Tata’s generous help had not been drawn upon to meet its needs””

      And Vijaya Laxmi Pandit on Gandhi’s insistence on traveling third class on trains,but just him and his entourage, unlike real third class
      “I wish Bapuji would understand how expensive it is to keep him poor ”

      He understood politics in the Indian context alright…the ducking and weaving, the ambiguities, without losing his central focus. And he + team + forces he expelled from the Indian National Congress won. As someone of the 21st century I like fighters who also win.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Young Voters, Who Helped Biden to Victory, Are a Big Weak Spot in the Democratic Coalition”

    When young voters were interviewed on their thoughts about Biden, their typical comment was ‘Biden now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for him. Give me a break.’

    Working link for “Texas Police Want Uvalde Bodycam Footage Suppressed Because It Could Expose Law Enforcement ‘Weakness’” article at-


    How much can you learn watching videos of twenty guys hanging around a corridor for?

    1. Objective Ace

      I’d guess some of their conversations are pretty damning. Probably something along the lines of valuing their lives more than that of schoolchildren

    2. foghorn longhorn

      Yeah but, the news today is they subdued a dude with a gun before he could shoot up a summer camp in Dallas.
      All is right in the world now.
      Even had a mom running in first and all.
      The circle has been squared.

  24. Tom Stone

    Covid Anecdotes:
    The SO of a close friend had a “Mild” case of Covid Mid May, fully vaxxed and boosted, she’s in her early 60’s and fit because she’s a dancing fool.
    She had a seizure in the middle of the night Sunday and landed in the ER, released after a day and now home.
    No known history of epilepsy or seizures in her past or in her family.
    My friend Mike Murphy has been down with a miserable case of Covid for a week, now recovering.
    Also fully vaxxed and boosted and he has been careful about safety ( Masking Etc).
    He’s a horseman and one of the founders of the annual trailblazer’s ride which resumed this year.
    @ 300 attended and it is outdoors ( It’s a trail ride).
    He’s certain that’s where he got infected and told me that between 25 and 30 attendees have reported coming down with Covid.
    Mike is my go to guy for horse properties,if you need a waste management plan for the livestock you keep he is who I’d recommend.

  25. C.O.

    Thought I’d just leave this here as further info on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on federal civil servants in Canada, since the Doophin caught it again.


    Ottawa announces suspension of vaccine mandates for domestic travel, federal employees (CBC News)

    Announcement made without telling any of the federal public service unions first. They are of course only “suspended” and now the government is expecting to bring back all the people put on leave wthout pay for refusing to follow the mandate smoothly into the workforce again. This is likely how it slips out that the mandate had a strong stealth layoff component that got around union collective agreements.

    Oh, and you know what else is happening in the Canadian federal public service? This is supposed to be National Public Service Week:


    Statement by the Prime Minister on National Public Service Week (PM’s Office)

    Apparently many federal employees are also being audited for their vaccination status this week: cough up a QR code or get ready to go on leave without pay. Nobody knows if today’s announcement will change that.

  26. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here’s something interesting , from the Public Freakout sub-reddit.
    ” Cop tries to bully informed citizens and leaves almost in tears”.
    And its all caught on candid cellphone.
    Now . . . some would say that if the informed back-talking citizens had been black, the cops would have tased or maybe shot them all. And maybe so . . . even on candid cellphone.

    But I think the candid cellphone itself may be part of the reason the cops did not decide to start lying and tasing and shooting. They were on candid cellphone, available to be viewed by millions, and they knew it. And also plus, too, the fact that the citizens were in fact highly and heavily informed as to the details of the relevant particulars.

    This is a benefit that social media offers and should be remembered when calls are made to abolish social media. “No social media” means ” no candid cellphone.”

    Anyway, here is the link.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    It looks like the “firearms community’ is figuring out that being inclusively non-racist may increase its power.

    Here is a digital “poster” which may well become a poster which illustrates this growing understanding.


    If this keeps up, will gun suppression still be Woke? Or will the “gun control community” have to shift over to being a “gun safety” community for real, and in all sincerity?

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” Houston PD cop threatens to kill driver over a traffic violation”. And the driver is just as White as the cop.
    All caught on candid cellphone.

    Blue Privilege on parade.

    Can this cop have its career destroyed? Can it be made unemployable? What if “anonymous” were to destroy the Houston PDs ability to use its computers and keep it destroyed until this cop is fired?


  29. VietnamVet

    “It’s the money, honey” about sums everything all up.

    The WaPo posted an article “For Ukrainian troops, a need arises: Javelin customer service”. Apparently, The Javelins were shipped to the front lines without the tech support, US Army, telephone hotline number, the foldout instruction card that shows how to aim and fire the weapon, and logistical assistance. The Ukrainians couldn’t figure out how to fire them for effect. Not that one would make a cell call overseas within artillery range of the Russians. This is not about winning the proxy world war, it is simply war profiteering.

  30. orlbucfan

    ““Liz Cheney for President?” [Robert Reich]. “In her courage and integrity, Cheney — although conservative — reminds me of Senator Paul Wellstone, one of the most progressive politicians I’ve ever known. They also have in common a love of democracy.” • AAAAAUGGHGH!!!! Help me!!!!!!! My eyes!!!!!!!!!”
    You have got to be kiddin’ me. Where’s the barf bag? And I live in Floridumb, so I know all about first-class political criminal FRightwing horse (family blog). Reich has screwed the pooch on this one big-time!

  31. ghiggler

    > “But the committee’s vice chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., suggested later on Monday that a decision was not yet final. ‘The committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. We will announce a decision on that at an appropriate time,’ she said in a statement on Twitter. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., tweeted in a separate statement, that the committee ‘has yet to vote,’ on recommending criminal referrals.”

    A referral has no legal force – it’s just “Hey, notice this.”

    Since Garland has said he will be watching every bit of it, even if not always live, and that all the January 6 prosecutors are doing the same, neither a referral nor its lack will make a difference.

    That said, an explicit referral would be a cherry on top.

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