2:00PM Water Cooler 6/23/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I’m going to go through and beef this up a little. Covid coverage plus 1/6 plus is clogging my filters, and so I’m chugging along a bit more slowly than usual. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

River Warbler, Slovakia.

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Politics

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Judge delays Proud Boys’ Capitol attack trial because of Jan. 6 hearings” [NBC]. “U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said at a hearing Wednesday that he would “reluctantly” move the trial back after several defendants sought the delay because of the publicity surrounding the Jan. 6 committee’s work. The Justice Department agreed with the delay request and indicated in a filing that the trial set for August should be delayed until December.” • Recall that Robert O. Paxton points to “a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants” as one of the symptoms of fascism’s metastasis. The only factor remotely comparable during the Capitol Seizure is the Proud Boys (even if their leader was also a “prolific” FBI informant, paging the Czar’s Okhrana). And so we’re postponing their trial, thanks to the Democrats, good job.

UPDATE “I-Team sources: FBI seizes Nevada GOP chairman’s phone as part of fake elector investigation” [8 News]. “FBI agents served a search warrant Wednesday on Nevada’s top GOP official, sources told the 8 News Now I-Team’s George Knapp. Agents seized the cell phone of state Republican chairman Michael McDonald, reportedly as part of an investigation into the fake elector scheme initiated at the end of the 2020 presidential election.”

Biden Administration

UPDATE “Biden’s blues: is the US president out of political capital?” [Financial Times]. “‘The rest of the world is looking to us,’ Biden continued. ‘There really is [a question of] ‘What happens if the US goes back to a Trumpian government?’ It is a gigantic, gigantic setback.’ The warning was intended to mobilise donor support for Democrats up and down the ballot ahead of the midterms, when significant defeats are expected, including the probable loss of control of the House of Representatives and a possible move to minority status in the Senate. But it also reflected a more disturbing reality for the 79-year-old president: in the space of just 17 months, he has already burnt a lot of the political capital he had when he walked into the Oval Office in January last year…. [Biden] is now caught between his critics on the left, who believe he has failed to deliver on a promise of transformational economic and social change, and moderates within the party, who insist he has paid too much deference to progressives on both policy goals and personnel choices. Meanwhile, his key economic achievement of delivering a rapid recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic with a quick return to very low unemployment has been eclipsed by rising inflation. Consumer prices rose in May at an annual rate of 8.6 per cent, a 40-year high.”

UPDATE “State, USAID refuse to cooperate on Afghanistan audits, watchdog says” [Politico]. “State Department and USAID officials are refusing to provide information to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction needed for multiple audits related to the fall of the Afghan government and the ensuing months of Taliban rule, the watchdog wrote in a June 22 letter to the secretary of State and USAID administrator. State and USAID have in some cases ignored SIGAR’s communications, declined to make officials available for interviews, and refused to permit the watchdog to travel internationally to conduct on-the-ground research, director John Sopko wrote in the letter, which POLITICO obtained.”

2022

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“Blue and Red Do Have Something in Common. They’ve Both Been Ripped Off, Repeatedly” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “This is a constant in financial predation stories that’s virtually always ignored in the popular press, which insists on portraying blue and red America as separate worlds, whose citizens have nothing in common. That’s not just a lie, it’s really the core lie at the heart of our partisan political system. It’s why the notion of “economic anxiety” as even a partial factor behind Trump’s rise was so violently suppressed by press wizards in 2016, and why such extraordinary effort was put behind a propaganda campaign to wipe out the ‘Russian asset’ Sanders. Even Biden was scolded on MSNBC by Stephanie Ruhle when he tried once to suggest a ‘Scranton vs. Park Avenue’ campaign theme. ‘Why is he going with this divide-and-conquer approach?’ Ruhle cried. ‘What about a message for all Americans?” Unity, and ‘all Americans,’ suddenly assumes enormous importance among professional division merchants once anyone starts talking not about red and blue, Trumpers and Dems, but few-versus-many. Really we don’t live in two Americas but one, whose obvious problem is that too many of its citizens have too much in common, having been repeatedly ripped off, in the same types of scams, by the same people, for decades. Sooner or later, the public will figure it out, and come running toward Washington all at once, pitchforks drawn. All the Bidens of the world can hope for is that that day comes later. As the “Putin price hikes” idiocy shows, they’re running out of ways to stall the inevitable.” • There’s a lot in this post about the Fed and the 2008 crash, which I don’t feel confident enough to vet. Perhaps readers will take a look.

“The Surprise Issue Driving GOP Campaigns” [National Review]. “The pre-2016 notion that Republicans could not win the Hispanic vote while espousing a hard-line immigration stance was proven wrong in 2020, when Donald Trump significantly increased his share of the Hispanic vote in Florida and Texas despite losing the election…. All of these developments are a clear signal that a Republican Party that staunchly opposes illegal immigration is a party that can still attract the Hispanic vote, and more.”

The Lincoln Project weighs in:

PA: “Oz drops Trump branding in general election shift” [Axios]. “Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, is quietly shifting his campaign messaging away from former President Trump as he transitions into what’s likely to be one of the most hotly contested Senate elections of the midterms. Oz’s transition for the general election highlights the tightrope many Trump-endorsed candidates have attempted to walk — embrace the former president where it counts, while keeping him at arm’s length in situations where his brand is toxic. That was the strategy employed by Virginia’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin, during his successful campaign last year.” • Possibly Fetterman will be more adept than McAuliffe?

PA: “PA Senate race: Fetterman’s lead shrinks in latest AARP poll” [The Hill]. “Democratic Pennsylvania candidate John Fetterman leads his Republican counterpart Mehmet Oz in the race for the soon-to-be-open United States Senate seat by six points in a recently published AARP Poll. With six percent of likely voters still undecided, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Fetterman received 50% of support and Oz received 44%. The six-point lead reveals an even tighter race between the two in comparison to a recently published USA Today poll, which had Fetterman leading by nine points…. Fetterman’s wife Gisele, who has been campaigning on her husband’s behalf, says he may not return to in-person campaigning until July….. The margin of errors were 4.4 points for the representative sample, 3.3 points for the total sample of 828 older voters and 4.7 points for the total sample of Black older voters.” • Handy charts:

WI: “Battleground Wisconsin is full of tight races, new poll shows” [NBC]. Confirming Wisconsin’s status as American’s marquee battleground state, a new Marquette Law School poll finds highly competitive contests across the board in the state in 2022 — from primaries for governor and U.S. Senate, to November’s general-election races.”

2024

UPDATE “Eric Adams Admits Owning the Brooklyn Real Estate He Claimed to Have Sold” [The City]. “As a candidate last year, Mayor Eric Adams denied that he co-owned a Brooklyn co-op with a close friend — claiming that he’d gifted his shares to her more than a decade ago. He did not disclose the existence of the one-bedroom apartment on Prospect Place, or his 50% share in it, in financial disclosure forms filed as Brooklyn Borough President from at least 2016 through 2020. But last fall, the day before the general election, Adams changed his story completely — amending his disclosure forms for all those years to admit he continued to hold half the shares in the co-op he owned with a ‘good friend,’ Sylvia Cowan, a review of records by THE CITY shows. He did not publicly disclose the change at the time. The change in Adams’ narrative emerged Wednesday as the city Conflicts of Interest Board released financial disclosure forms for city elected officials covering the year 2021.” • Whoops. But where else are liberal Democrats gonna find a Black cop with million-watt smile?

UPDATE “Do Americans have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump?” [FiveThirtyEight]. • 2020: 60/40 Favorable/Unfavorable. Today: 54/42.

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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UPDATE “Andrew Gillum, Former Florida Gubernatorial Candidate, Is Indicted on Fraud Charges” [Wall Street Journal]. “The 21-count indictment unsealed Wednesday doesn’t involve the 2020 incident or any drug allegations, but instead relates to Mr. Gillum’s financial dealings with a political consultant, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, 53, mostly before the 2018 vote. The two illegally solicited and obtained funds from various people and entities ‘through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose,’ according to a news release by the Justice Department…. The indictment describes a scheme in which the two defendants secured contributions from donors that were supposedly for purposes such as Mr. Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign. The defendants used third parties to divert a portion of the funds to a company owned by Ms. Lettman-Hicks, according to the indictment. She then fraudulently provided the funds, which were disguised as payroll payments, to Mr. Gillum for his personal use, the indictment said.” • Fetterman’s campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, worked on the 2018 campaign.

“A top progressive firm signed Rick Caruso as a client. Its staff revolted.” [Politico]. “One of the country’s leading progressive digital firms has been embroiled for months in internal staff turmoil over the work it’s done on behalf of Los Angeles mayoral contender Rick Caruso. At least two employees at the firm, Aisle 518 Strategies, have left, in part because of its association with the billionaire real estate developer who has bankrolled Republicans and backed anti-abortion politicians before deciding to run as a Democrat in the mayoral primary this year. Those former employees, who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity, said only a handful of those currently on the firm’s roughly 20-person staff are willing to work on the Caruso campaign account. ‘We’re all working for this kind of a company because we believe in those ideals, and for the CEO to take on a client that very much clearly goes against that goal is kind of like a slap in the face to all of the work that we do and to all of our other clients,’ said one of the employees who left.'” • The employees are working for a firm, but what they want, but don’t know they want, is to be working for a principled, disciplined party.

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CA: “Nancy Pelosi’s Napa: Wealthy Friends and a Husband’s Porsche Crash” [New York Times]. “The police who responded [to Paul Pelosi’s crash] arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and suspicion of driving with a .08 blood alcohol content or higher. He is due back in court on Aug. 3. If criminal charges are filed, he will be arraigned then. (The driver of the Jeep was not arrested.) It may not have been only alcohol that hindered Mr. Pelosi’s driving. Two people who have spoken with the Pelosis since the crash said that Mr. Pelosi had had cataract surgery in the days preceding the dinner. (Doctors are somewhat divided about when it is acceptable to drive, with estimates that range from 24 hours to two weeks.)… Mr. Pelosi has, however, had a history of car accidents over the course of his life. At 16, in 1957, he was behind the wheel of a sports car that crashed. His brother David, who was a passenger, was killed. (A jury ultimately exonerated Mr. Pelosi of misdemeanor manslaughter charges, according to news accounts at the time.) In the late 1970s Ms. Pelosi became the Northern California chair of the Democratic Party. On her way to a barbecue for a local politician, a car that she was in with Mr. Pelosi and a number of their children flipped on its side. No one was hurt, and Ms. Pelosi hitched a ride to go meet donors.” •

CA: “California’s top military brass rocked by homophobia, antisemitism, indecent exposure scandals” [Los Angeles Times]. “A top general in the California National Guard violated government rules by having subordinates ferry his mother on a shopping trip, perform other personal errands for him and complete a part of his cybersecurity training. A second general allegedly made antisemitic and homophobic remarks, including that Jews are unrepentant sinners and that gay marriage is a reason terrorists attack the United States. And a colonel who serves as a Guard finance officer and had been recommended for promotion to general has been charged with exposing himself to three women in a restaurant. Those are among the latest embarrassing episodes to tarnish the Guard, a branch of the California Military Department that has been beset in recent years by allegations of cover-ups and retaliation against whistleblowers, a Times investigation based on Guard documents and interviews has found. Current and former Guard members say there is a widespread perception in the organization that high-ranking officers who engage in misconduct are protected from significant discipline. One of the generals found by an internal inquiry to have committed acts of wrongdoing was issued a letter of admonishment, and the other received a letter of reprimand, according to the Guard.” • Not good prep for a Civil War, eh?

Republican Funhouse

“The GOP’s War on Economic Populists” [Compact]. “Last week, something strange happened in Mississippi. An upstart candidate came in first in a Republican primary while proposing major increases in social spending. Michael Cassidy, a former Navy pilot, beat the incumbent Michael Guest in the state’s Third District while proposing Medicare for All, a $20,000 bonus to newlyweds (repayable in case of divorce), a $250 monthly stipend for children under 10 (rising to $500 monthly for children between 10 and 17), and a maternal-leave program with five years of benefits. Yet more recently, Cassidy has scaled back his proposals—a testament to the difficulties even the most daring would-be populists face when it comes to challenging the GOP’s economic orthodoxies. Cassidy presented his original policy mix as part of an “American Dream” plan designed to make it easier for Americans to marry, have kids, and buy a home. His other ideas included a ban against corporations, hedge funds, and foreign entities owning private residences and farmland, plus “targeted tariffs” and “deporting all illegals.” As that last proposal makes clear, Cassidy is no man of the left. He hammered the incumbent for voting for an early iteration of the Jan. 6 committee and for voting for spending bills that included abortion funding.”

Trump Legacy

“Report Shows Trump Administration Embraced Herd Immunity via Mass Infection” [MedPage Today]. “Evidence has emerged that the Trump administration embraced a ‘dangerous and discredited herd immunity via mass infection strategy’ prior to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, according to a new report from the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Far-reaching support for the strategy likely contributed to many preventable deaths in the fall and winter of 2020 through 2021, the subcommittee said upon the release of the report, which is the first installment in what is expected to be a series on the Trump administration’s political interference with the federal public health response to the pandemic. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), chair of the subcommittee, said in a statement that an investigation ‘revealed extensive evidence of the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the nation’s public health response to the coronavirus crisis in an attempt to benefit the former president politically.'” • Clyburn? Really? (I hold no brief for the Trump Administration’s response. But they had plenty of help sh*tting the bed from the public health establishment, and in any case Biden adopted “Let ‘er rip” anyhow. (It’s also not clear to me how advocacy of herd immunity and Operation Warp Speed are compatible. Intellectual consistency never has bothered Trump much, but that inconsitency is pretty big.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

How unserious:

“Liberal groups devote millions to blocking GOP election deniers” [WaPo]. “He was pitching some of the nation’s wealthiest people on a doomsday idea that has become a growing obsession among the liberal donor community. Another slide, titled “How MAGA midterms can install Trump,” laid out a step-by-step hypothetical scenario: Republicans win statewide offices in key battleground states in 2022 and then change state laws in 2023 to give legislatures control over presidential electors. After the next presidential election, they declare votes from urban centers “tainted” and overrule the popular vote by sending their own slate of electors to Washington. The goal of the presentation — described by someone familiar with the group who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations — was to raise tens of millions of dollars for groups that the PowerPoint described as being able to increase Democratic turnout, persuade swing voters to vote Democratic and “dissuade” Republican voters from going to the polls. Pouring liberal money into the midterms to elect Democrats is hardly novel. What’s different about this new strategy is that a large portion of the 2022 efforts are actually aimed at 2024 — attempting to block Republican 2020 election deniers from gaining power and potentially upending valid results in a presidential election year. The approach — born in the wake of President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election — has diverted some of the focus away from federal House and Senate races and toward battleground state governor and secretary of state races, election administrator contests and even ballot measures aimed at protecting ballot access and tabulation.” • When squillionaires dump a few billions into the NGO funnel, it’s really not clear to me what comes out the other end. (Of course, if we were serious about election integrity, then hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, would be top of mind.)

UPDATE “How ‘vice-signalling’ swallowed electoral politics” [Financial Times]. “We wouldn’t usually associate draconian measures on crime and punishment, or, indeed, a literal wall standing between two nations, as signs of virtue. These are examples of what you might instead call ‘vice signalling’: ostentatious displays of authoritarianism designed to reassure voters that you are ‘tough’ on crime or immigration…. Signalling matters in politics because most people vote on what political scientists call “valence” — your perceived competence on various issues. Now, there is no easy way to signal that you are competent at fighting crime or policing your nation’s borders, because most voters at any given time are not in direct contact with law enforcement or immigration agencies. But showy, conversation-starting pledges are a good way of signalling your commitment…. The real problem with vice signalling is that it risks sending what is, in a democracy, the most dangerous signal of all: that politicians do not really care about their electorate’s concerns, other than as a device to win and to hold on to their own power.”

#COVID19

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. However, 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. Then again, waste-water data (leading) is slightly downThe 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.

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• “Fertility tracker and AI used to identify Covid days before symptoms appeared” [Independent]. “A wrist-worn health tracker typically used for monitoring fertility could be used to diagnosis a Covid-19 infection days before symptoms appear, new research suggests. Combined with artificial intelligence (AI), the tracker picks up on changes in skin temperature, heart and breathing rates, blood flow, as well as sleep quantity and quality to determine whether an individual has been infected with coronavirus. According to the study, which followed 1,163 people under the age of 51 from the start of the pandemic, 68 per cent of Covid cases were successfully diagnosed two days before the onset of symptoms. It’s hoped that a quicker diagnosis of Covid-19 could facilitate early isolation and help to limit the spread of the virus…. The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, found there were significant changes in the body during the incubation period for the infection, the period before symptoms appeared, when symptoms appeared and during recovery, compared to non-infection. Overall, the tracker and computer algorithm identified 68 per cent of Covid-19 positive people two days before their symptoms appeared.” • The AVA tracker costs $279. I can see where this is headed. We’d rather spend ~$300 to buy a gadget that tells us when to get treated, rather than spend zero dollars on a proven non-pharmaceutical intervention worn by billions that causes some minor inconvenience (and has now become a marker in the culture wars). I think I need to become more realistic [bangs head on desk].

• “How common is long COVID? Why studies give different answers” [Nature]. “So far, there is no agreement on how to define and diagnose long COVID. The World Health Organization’s attempt at a consensus, published in 2021, has not proved popular with patient advocates or researchers, and studies continue to use a range of criteria to define the condition. Estimates of its prevalence can range from 5–50%. A study of such a complex condition needs to be sufficiently large to reflect the range of symptoms and the possible impact of characteristics such as age and the severity of the acute SARS-CoV-2 infection. This is where analyses like Al-Aly’s [study at the Veterans Administration] offer a host of advantages: data from large health-care networks can provide enormous sample sizes. Al-Aly’s study of long COVID after a ‘breakthrough’ infection — one that follows vaccination — included records from more than 13 million people. Although 90% of those people were men, that still left 1.3 million women in the analysis, Al-Aly notes, more than many other studies can muster.”

• My character is already built, thank you:

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

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I cannot find a case count chart that integrates regional and national subtotals, so we are that much stupider. I thought the New York Times had the nicest data presentationL

Case count for the United States:

The totals are or less level, but under the hood the BA.4/5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. 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 DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. Yesterday, the count was ~ 100,500. Today, it’s 97,000, and 97,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 582,000. 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.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

0.8%. (I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to and check on the goons at CDC.)

NOT UPDATED Wastewater data, regional (Biobot Analytics), June 15:

Wastewater data (CDC), June 4 – June 18:

This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, regional (Biobot), June 1:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 15:

In 18 days, BA.4/5 has gone from 18 days, 9.66 to 28.47 (and this is not according to some sorta model, like CDC’s NowCast, which gives 35%). Nice doubling behavior, implying BA.4/5 should be happily dominant just in time for the travel weekend of July 4, good job everyone.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), June 4:

Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is.

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

Looks like Colorado and Arizona are worse, and the rest of the country is better (or, in the case of the Northeast, actually good).

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. More and more orange (“substantial”) on the East Coast, with some yellow breaking out. Great Plains speckled with yellow and blue.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Very volatile.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,039,771 1,038,900. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 2K to 229K in the week that ended June 18th, below market forecasts of 227K, pointing again to a tight labor market.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index fell further to -1 in June of 2022 from 19 in the prior month, reaching the lowest level since May of 2020. The slower pace of factory growth was driven by reduced activity at durable goods plants in June, especially electrical equipment, transportation equipment, and furniture-related product manufacturing. Indexes for production, shipments, new orders, and order backlog declined, while inventory indexes increased slightly.”

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Finance: “Revlon bankruptcy complicated by Citi’s $900mn error” [Financial Times]. “As Revlon prepares to negotiate its restructuring after filing for bankruptcy last week, the American cosmetics group still does not know the identity of all its key creditors, a consequence of a bizarre banking mistake. In August 2020, Citigroup mistakenly used its own money to repay a $900mn term loan it administered on behalf of Revlon that was held by multiple asset management groups. Holders of $400mn of the loan quickly returned the erroneous payment. However, funds that owned $500mn of the loan, many furious with Revlon over a previous debt restructuring, kept the cash. In 2021, a federal judge in New York said those who held on to the repayment were legally entitled to do so. Citi appealed against the decision. With the higher court yet to render a final ruling, Revlon faces the possibility that the repaid lenders will be forced to give back the proceeds and become Revlon creditors again. Citi said in securities filings, however, that if the original decision is upheld it will assume the $500mn claim against Revlon, pitting the Wall Street titan against a loyal client.” • Fun stuff!

Retail: “The retail industry is facing a potential wave of bankruptcies – here’s why” [CNBC]. “There could be an increase in distressed retailers beginning later this year, experts say, as ballooning prices dent demand for certain goods, stores contend with bloated inventory levels and a potential recession looms…. An analysis by Fitch Ratings shows that the consumer and retail companies most in danger of default include mattress maker Serta Simmons, cosmetics line Anastasia Beverly Hills, skin-care marketing company Rodan & Fields, Billabong owner Boardriders, men’s suit chain Men’s Wearhouse, supplements marketing company Isagenix International and sportswear manufacturer Outerstuff…. Still, advisors who have worked on retail bankruptcies in recent years believe, for the most part, that any looming distress in the industry shouldn’t be as intense as the massive shakeout in 2020. Instead, bankruptcies could be more spread out, they said.”

Energy: A list of closed refineries follows:

The Bezzle: “A Billion-Dollar Crypto Gaming Startup Promised Riches and Delivered Disaster” [Bloomberg]. From last week, still germane: “Axie’s creator, a startup called Sky Mavis Inc., heralded all this as a new kind of economic phenomenon: the ‘play-to-earn’ video game. ‘We believe in a world future where work and play become one,’ it said in a mission statement on its website. ‘We believe in empowering our players and giving them economic opportunities. Welcome to our revolution.’ By last October the company, founded in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, four years ago by a group of Asian, European, and American entrepreneurs, had raised more than $160 million from investors including the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and the crypto-focused firm Paradigm, at a peak valuation of about $3 billion…. In a livestreamed discussion about play-to-earn gaming and crypto on March 2, former Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang called web3 ‘an extraordinary opportunity to improve the human condition’ and ‘the biggest weapon against poverty that we have.’…. By the time Yang made his proclamations the Axie economy was deep in crisis. It had lost about 40% of its daily users, and SLP, which had traded as high as 40¢, was at 1.8¢, while AXS, which had once been worth $165, was at $56. To make matters worse, on March 23 hackers robbed Sky Mavis of what at the time was roughly $620 million in cryptocurrencies. Then in May the bottom fell out of the entire crypto market. AXS dropped below $20, and SLP settled in at just over half a penny. Instead of illustrating web3’s utopian potential, Axie looked like validation for crypto skeptics who believe web3 is a vision that investors and early adopters sell people to get them to pour money into sketchy financial instruments while hackers prey on everyone involved.” • Well, I guess we can short anything Yang recommended. So there’s that.

Tech: “Facebook Finally Agrees to Eliminate Tool That Enabled Discriminatory Advertising” [ProPublica]. “Six years after ProPublica revealed that Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude Black users and others, the company agreed to a settlement with the Justice Department to overhaul its ad algorithm system.” • Quick work!

Labor Market: “More Companies Start to Rescind Job Offers” [Wall Street Journal]. “Businesses in several different industries are rescinding job offers they made just a few months ago, in a sign the tightest labor market in decades may be showing cracks. Companies including Twitter Inc. , real-estate brokerage Redfin Corp. , and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc. have rescinded offers in recent weeks. Employers in other pockets of the economy are pulling away offers too, including some in insurance, retail marketing, consulting and recruiting services. At the same time, many companies have signaled a more cautious hiring approach. Netflix Inc. , Peloton Interactive Inc. , Carvana Co. and others announced layoffs. Technology giants such as Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. and Uber Technologies warned they will dial back hiring plans. ”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 22 Extreme Fear (previous close: 21 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 13 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 23 at 1:01 PM EDT.

Zeitgeist Watch

This is violence:

I don’t think this is parody.

Class Warfare

“Sex Work is (Gig) Work” [The Baffler]. “the former Disney Channel star Bella Thorne made an OnlyFans account in August 2020, drawing so many of her twenty-five million Instagram followers that she earned $1 million in the first twenty-four hours. Like Dunn, Thorne invoked feminist defenses of sex work, tweeting that she joined the website in an attempt to ‘remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself.’ Clearly, ‘sex work is work’ is increasingly applied by and in defense of a new group of explicit content providers quite removed from the original, disenfranchised figures whom the adage was designed to protect. And yet, recent events indicate that everyone’s position remains precarious. On August 19, 2021, OnlyFans announced that from October of that year, it would no longer host sexually explicit content. The announcement came, coincidentally, just nine days after the Republican congresswoman Ann Wagner penned a bipartisan letter, signed by over one hundred members of Congress, to the attorney general demanding that OnlyFans be investigated for allegedly facilitating child sex trafficking, the distribution of child pornography, and god knows what else. Officially, OnlyFans cited the worries of pearl-clutching banks like BNY Mellon and JPMorgan Chase, likewise distressed over unfounded allegations of widespread criminal activity on the platform, as the reason for the policy change. Although the platform reversed its decision less than a week later amid criticism from producers and consumers of content alike, the tumult revealed exactly where the balance of power lies. The technological luster—including the gift of heightened autonomy—of platforms like OnlyFans has transformed online sex work, enabling a small percentage of porn performers to become rich. But, in turn, the platforms have exacerbated, or at least publicized, longstanding inequalities within the landscape of sex work. Accordingly, ‘sex worker’ has become an incoherent class position, with a politics ill-suited to protect workers from the increasing hostility of executives and lawmakers.”

“The sex industry isn’t technophilic” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “The sex industry has pioneered every new communications tool since the printing press: in my own lifetime, I’ve watched it take the lead in VCRs, desktop publishing, BBSes, digital text, digital images, digital videos, live streaming services, cryptocurrency, and VR. It would be easy to conclude that being interested in sex is somehow correlated with being fascinated by technology. But that’s wrong. While there are lots of sex workers and sex industry participants who have an innate fascination with technology, there’s no reason to think that being into sex is a predictor of being into tech. And yet, sex workers are the vanguard of every technological revolution. What gives? Well, think about the other groups that make up that vanguard – who else is an habitual early adopter? At least four other groups also take the lead on new tech: political radicals, kids, drug users, and terrorists. There’s some overlap among members of these groups, but their most salient shared trait isn’t personnel, it’s exclusion…. Using a new technology comes at a cost. If it’s 1979 and you’re Walt Disney Pictures, you’ve got no reason to explore the VCR. The existing system works great for you – and it works great for your audience. You can always find a movie theater willing to show your movies, your audience is happy to be seen entering that cinema, and the bank gladly accepts ticket revenues as deposits. But if you’re into smutty movies, none of that is true. Just mailing your 8mm films across state lines is risky – maybe it gets seized and incinerated, maybe a postal inspector shows up at your door with a search warrant. Most theaters won’t show your movies, and most people don’t want to be seen in the ones that will. Given all those structural barriers, it makes sense that the technophiles who also happen to be involved in the sex trade will get a hearing from their colleagues – unlike the traditional media execs whose endorsement of the VCR made them persona non grata within their companies. That is, technophilia is a deficit if you’re doing something socially acceptable, and an asset if you’re doing something that’s socially disfavored.”

News of the Wired

“Hegel’s Philosophy of History” (podcast) [In Our Time, BBC]. “Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831) on history. Hegel, one of the most influential of the modern philosophers, described history as the progress in the consciousness of freedom, asking whether we enjoy more freedom now than those who came before us. To explore this, he looked into the past to identify periods when freedom was moving from the one to the few to the all, arguing that once we understand the true nature of freedom we reach an endpoint in understanding. That end of history, as it’s known, describes an understanding of freedom so far progressed, so profound, that it cannot be extended or deepened even if it can be lost.” • Let me know how that works out.

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SV writes: “Whose galls these are…”

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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.

57 comments

  1. Samuel Conner

    > how advocacy of herd immunity and Operation Warp Speed are compatible

    Given that the DJT administration ended around the time the vaccines began to become widely available, I think one has to look at the approach to containing the epidemic while the vaccines were under development, and that looks to me to have been basically a “let ‘er rip” approach after the initial half-hearted ‘lock-downs’.

    Reply
    1. Steve D

      Also let’s not forget that DJT was for halting inbound international flights from (admittedly a shaky list of) COVID-hotspot countries. And he was ridiculed as xenophobic/racist/etc. for this stance, by the same general cohort who brought us let ‘er rip with the current admin

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I see herd immunity as an ideological position taken by those Great Barrington Declaration social murderers. OWS isn’t compatible with that ideology. I think it’s more a case that non-pharmaceutical intervention was wrecked by a pincer movement of the public health establishment and business lobbyists, not Scott Atlas, and the Trump Adminstration temporized (and bloviated) until OWS kicked in. An opportunity which the Biden Administration then squandered, before adopting the functional equivalent of herd immunity itself.

      I mean, Clyburn? We’re taking anything from Clyburn seriously? (If the Democrats plan to run on Biden’s Covid record, good luck to them.)

      Reply
    3. Pat

      While Trump’s approach to Covid might be considered schizophrenic, Biden’s is downright Sociopathic.

      With the exception of Operation Warp Speed vaccines, free vaccinations, and vaccine mandates, the Biden administration, with the help of Congress has allowed to lapse, or outright eliminated, the supports that were there for testing, paid leave, and hospitalization. Not to mention eliminating all masking rules and said come to America, we don’t care if you are infectious.

      We talk about OWS a lot, but Trump and Congress essentially adopted policies that supported huge portions of America’s working class while shutting down, they strong armed the insurance companies into providing coverage (something I never thought I would see) and provided real support for businesses even if too much of it went to the big boys. It may have been stingy by first world standards but It was a massive undertaking not seen in my adult life. Biden can’t even send his wife out to make Corsi Rosenthal boxes on television. The administration that really went all in on herd immunity was the Biden administration. They knew that the vaccines were not sterilizing but they still ripped off their masks and told everyone else to do it as well. They actively spread the misinformation that vaccinated meant both safe from infection AND safe to others. People are still just getting that everyone being vaccinated does not mean no one is infected and cannot be infectious and give you Covid.

      And I know this is probably giving him too much power, but he was there for all aspects of both administrations, and frankly I think a lot of the problems with America’s Covid response, under both Trump and Biden, can be laid at the feet of St. Doctor Anthony Fauci. He is a vaccine nut, (as in they are the answers to everything even when better minds might tell him they will not be effective). His misinformation can be called the start of mask denialism. He would never have been allowed to do it, but possibly the best thing Trump could have done that he didn’t would have been to fire him.

      Reply
    4. VietnamVet

      The USA is an oligarchy for a reason. It’s the money. “Harvard’s Dr. Michael Mina is the latest to transition from public health to private business”. NIH refuses to identify who gets how much of the 100+ millions of dollars received in royalties. Let alone anyone admitting that the “moolah” influences their decisions,

      Public health is gone, except to profit from it. The same for public education or public safety.

      Unless government by and for the people is restored that gives all “an equal opportunity for life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness”, the proxy world war, climate catastrophes, shortages of workers, energy and food, plus the enormous inequality, assure that the western civilization collapses, once again. There will be no coming back this time if it ends in a nuclear holocaust.

      Reply
  2. super extra

    > re: “The GOP’s War on Economic Populists”
    > Mehmet Oz discretely dropping Trump branding

    OK has a retiring senator and a closed Republican primary, and with less than a week left to go before the election things have gotten crazy in the ads. The first wave went heavy on signalling either pro-Trump or discretely indicated they were more godly types. This led to a second wave, which leaned in hard on culture war red meat (mostly of the anti-CRT and anti-trans in school type). Polls were released and a lot of the godly types weren’t doing so well; some dropped out. The most vocal anti-trans guy with the most obnoxious commercial that really dug the knife in on the trans kids thing (“Democrats can’t even say what a woman is! Well I will say it: this is my daughter, and this is my son” – Markwayne Mullin, can you please stay out of this crap before you get goaded into saying men and women need to dress a certain way lest they get the caliper treatment, just my 2c) has completely evaporated in ad buys this week. Maybe the red meat isn’t going over as well as they thought?

    The guy getting the most ad play this week has been TW Shannon – a black Trumpy type who is hitting hard on the “illegals” thing, even going so far as to claim he’s going to “end birthright citizenship for illegals”. If he offered even one of the things on the platform of the Mississippi GOP populist candidate, he’d win in a landslide. Even though he is very clearly just looking for an easy job by lobbing red meat and casting about for an oligarch sugar daddy like the rest of them. That’s how desperate people are.

    Reply
  3. IMOR

    re: Michael Cassidy beating Guest in MS primary with the listed ‘social spending’ items plus fundamentalist policies

    Kinder, Kuche, Kirche. How novel. Wake me when one of their oh-so-reinvented candidates reaches 1949 or so.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The Mississippi 3rd Congressional District is overwhelmingly white, rural, and Gerrymandered.
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi's_3rd_congressional_district#/media/File:Mississippi_US_Congressional_District_3_(since_2013).tif
      There are some pockets of black voters in it, mainly concentrated in the small cities, like Meridian. It artfully curves around and excludes the majority black sections of the state capitol, Jackson.
      As Mississippi shows, there is ‘Conservative’ and there is ‘conservitive.’ I know next to nothing about Cassidy, but I do notice the high level of anti-Establishment ‘messaging’ coming out of his campaign. It has already been bruited about that GOP insiders have approached state Democrat Party bigwigs to try to do another wave of Democrat voters crossing over into the Republican primary to vote for the Establishment GOP candidate. This was successfully done back in 2014 when Thad Cochran, about as Establishment a Republican as you will find, narrowly beat Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. Crossover Democrat votes made the difference then. Most of that Democrat crossover vote was conjured up by the Wizzards, er, Ministers and Deacons, of the Black Baptist churches of the state. I received confirmation of that at second hand from people I worked with at the time who attended some of those churches. The politizisation of religion is a long honoured tradition in the North American Deep South.

      Reply
  4. flora

    re: “Blue and Red Do Have Something in Common. They’ve Both Been Ripped Off, Repeatedly” – Matt Taibbi

    Thanks for the Matt Taibbi link. Sounds right to me. He gives example after example about how a Fed bailout once again, as in the 2008-9 bailouts, made Wall Street fortunes and doubled the wealth of the billionaire class (the largest stock owners), while the unfavored grew poorer. It reads like the Feds have twice now acted as a gigantic financial pump-and-dump engine benefiting Wall St.: loosen credit to the max to help Wall St. buy back stocks jacking up their prices (the pump), and then tightening credit forcing a market fall (the dump) losing billions for regular investors, leaving regular people poorer. And in the aftermath of the dump, Wall St can buy distressed properties for a song. This one para caught my eye because it’s about PE:

    Every business that depends upon easy borrowing made fortunes during the pandemic years. The private equity business, which uses borrowed money to finance takeovers and mergers, had a record year in 2021, doing just shy of $1 trillion in deals in 2021 ($987.6 billion). This nearly doubled the industry’s also-awesome $474.5 billion in 2020 deals. There is no chance so many PE firms could have made so much taking over so many companies (resulting in job losses at firms like PetSmart and even some hospitals and emergency rooms society needed during the pandemic) without this extraordinarily loose credit environment.

    Reply
    1. flora

      adding: I think this ~20minute utube from a prepr site – not normal NC interest (or mine) – is interesting in terms of what regular people are seeing with supply lines and inflation in their area. This is just reading emails people sent him about shortages and rising prices in their areas. All anecdotes. Main Street is getting hit hard.

      Boots on the Ground…June 17th…Some Truckers have no loads to haul or taking time to find loads.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV9s5wqM6nk

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        I have tuned in to some of Boot’s videos. Unfortunately depressing, but real sounding.
        Another prepper source has a video out about a response an allied u-toobr got from a fairly reputable source to the effect that the source has decided to stop prepping and concentrate on preparing to steal resources from others if things really do go all pear shaped. An outright argument for banditry and warlordism.
        One of the presenter’s questions was to the point. If you were ‘defending’ your resources from marauders, could you really kill someone?
        This is beginning to look like another example of a task where the job “self selects” for sociopaths.
        Community is generally promoted as the panacea for SHTF situations. However, viewing just how disjointed and siloed America is today, what are the chances of effective communities emerging from the chaos quickly enough to do any good? That’s why I expect previously associated groups, mainly religiously oriented, to emerge from all this intact. The rest of us?

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Oh, no problems there. We can agree that the readership in this commenteriat is smart enough to winnow the wheat from the chaff. I too value the raw data more than the interpretations, on many sites, not just prepper sites. I have also been observing similar trends in supply levels at our local retail venues as are being reported at the various prepper oriented sites. It may be a “chicken or the egg” situation, but for that I like to observe that both chickens and eggs can be eaten.
            Stay safe!

            Reply
        1. Stephen V.

          You are correct as far as the Mo/ AR ozarks are concerned. We buy food in bulk from an Oregon company that has trucks delivering direct to peeps across the U.S. A gregarious driver told us a couple of months back that not only does the distribution company but also customers on his route have a religious backdrop. The latter sounding like intentional communities.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            This is close to what I have seen “in the wild” as it were.
            The major advantage that pre-existing communities have in this regard is that they have pooled resources and can thus buy in bulk and get more for their money. Then, when things get bad, they have a ready made support structure to even out the rough patches on an individual basis.
            Neo-liberalism is the only ‘religion’ I know of that preaches “Screw Your Friends and Neighbours” as a positive character trait.
            Stay safe!

            Reply
  5. Carolinian

    Yay Melvyn and his guests. He must be about ready for his summer break. He’s old enough to need some nap time.

    Reply
  6. Jason Boxman

    I almost passed out when I saw that Marianne Williamson used the working people construction instead of the much less inclusive “working families” that Sanders uses.

    Reply
  7. Jason Boxman

    Now, there is no easy way to signal that you are competent at fighting crime or policing your nation’s borders, because most voters at any given time are not in direct contact with law enforcement or immigration agencies. But showy, conversation-starting pledges are a good way of signalling your commitment…

    I don’t how many read the extensive article on Feinstein’s political history, but interestingly the author wrote that she liked to keep a firefighter like outfit that she’d pull out when appropriate. So I guess that is another way to try to signal valence on an issue, although if it was me as a firefighter I’d be insulted at a politico feigning any competency in my profession whatsoever.

    Reply
  8. Screwball

    Do we have any viewing data on the Jan 6 hearings? I’m curious how many people are watching and how effective the hearings might be. I did see the views were like 20 million for the prime time show but dropped to 10 million after that.

    I wouldn’t watch them if someone paid me, but my PMC friends are absolutely riveted. They think Shiff is doing a bang up job and thinks he would be great to take over for Nancy if she retired the gavel, and better yet, some think he should run for president.

    Personally, I think he a giant weasel dick lying sack of crap. And that’s on a good day. But I think like that of most of them.

    Reply
    1. amechania

      No idea on viewers but the coverage is getting silly. CNN’s print side is reminding us of now incoherent old talking points, like “Mike Pence’s face when he was asked to remove Trump w/ 25th amendment”

      Now thats what an undemocratic coup looks like for real. Both sides are in too in collective denial to process this though. The fools are pulling the levers, like in the wizard of Oz, so hard they wont notice until a little dog runs through the curtain and ruins the illusion.

      I dont even think that will alert the symbol manipulators. It has to be a lie generally agreed upon to work. Two realities is one too many. Trump can’t get a break in the media, but that got him elected before.

      Saw my first Trump 2024 hat this week. The yehaws at my karaoke bar can’t afford insurance either, but they remember being called deplorable.

      Reply
    2. rowlf

      Not looking good from the Babylon Bee’s viewpoint: Democrats Announce ‘January 6th Hearings On Ice’

      WASHINGTON, D.C.—As ratings continue to fizzle for the January 6th hearings, Democrats are trying a new format to bring the committee’s scandalous findings to a wider audience.

      “We are proud, so proud, to announce January 6th Hearings On Ice,” said Pelosi while attempting to squeeze into a silver leotard. “We invite parents and children of all ages to come witness this delightful spectacle as my colleagues and I dance to delightful musical numbers and spin our narrative as we spin on the ice!”

      Reply
    3. Pat

      I was just wondering about that today, but a cursory search only got the immediate drop by half from the prime time ratings. Daytime ratings aren’t as immediate bad prime time but there should have been some from last week.

      My first instinct is that we aren’t hearing about the numbers because they aren’t saying the country is riveted to the hearings.

      Reply
    4. clarky90

      Re; ““Liberal groups devote millions to blocking GOP election deniers

      Using “deniers” as a suffix is babytalk. It signals that the author is incapable of making complex arguments, or using “big” words.

      It is a form of mindless cursing: (sh+t, f%ck, c*nt. b@llocks……. having a limited vocabulary…. incapable of appropriate words……)

      Or speaking to the dog. “Here boy, here boy… Good booooooooy, gooood booooy! Who’s a good boy now?”

      Or to children……

      Reply
    5. The Historian

      I expect the viewing numbers to be low because how many people can take 2+ hours out of their mornings and afternoons to watch? Prime time, it is not!

      However, I am watching because I am curious as to what they are saying and what their point of all this is. What I am seeing isn’t a great investigation – Watergate was SOOOO much better – and it looks like what they are doing is giving you a conclusion first and then finding witnesses to back of that conclusion – which to me is an odd way of doing an investigation!

      But what bothers me most of all about Jan 6th is not what happened but THAT it happened – and this so-called investigation is not addressing that at all. What has happened in our Republic that anyone could convince a group of people to attack what is supposed to be their own legislators? Sorry, it wasn’t just Trump. And it doesn’t appear that any final conclusions this investigation arrives at will in any way address that problem.

      In every failure of a Republic, there is a turning point where the people no longer feel that the Republic represents them – I think we’ve reached that point- our Marius/Sulla moment is happening.

      Reply
      1. amechania

        I was clearing out my old bookmarks today, and found one to ‘Platforms must be held accountable for their role in J-6’ or some such.

        Seems like a long time ago already.

        Reply
  9. Curious John

    How can citi go after revlon for the $500mn? It was Citi’s error. The clients got paid so they have no more claim on the debt. Anyone know the legal basis for the claim that Revlon should repay them?

    Reply
  10. Pelham

    Re the populist GOP candidate in Mississippi who advocates Medicare for all, maternal leave, monthly stipends for children, etc.: He’s characterized as “no man of the left” due to his conservative stand on several cultural issues. Who says? I’d say he’s PRE-EMINENTLY a man of the left. He just happens not to toe every single leftist line. But given his fundamentals, I’d happily march out to vote for him. And maybe he correctly assumes that the GOP is more susceptible to change than the morbidly woke Democrat Party.

    Reply
    1. super extra

      This may have been discussed here before but something I’ve been thinking lately: what if there was a bipartisan caucus(?) that had a platform of medicare for all, childcare and eldercare stipends, wpa/climate ccc, livable housing for all. This caucus would work to get people voted into both parties willing to write, pass and vote on the platform legislation. How would something like this have to be structured and ran to be successful? What kind of enforcement mechanisms would be successful? Are there rules preventing something like that from forming?

      Reply
  11. IntoTheAbyss

    RE: AVA tracker, I’ve had an Oura ring for a few years, which produces similar metrics. When I woke up last Monday morning, my overnight body temp was up and HRV was very low. I used a home antigen test kit and verified positive. I had definite symptoms later in the day, but it stopped me from going into work and infecting my colleagues. Not a game changer but was good to know.

    Reply
  12. The Rev Kev

    “Biden’s blues: is the US president out of political capital?”

    I think that a lot of people just wanted things to go back to normal after four years of Trump and the media hysteria. And it was pretty obvious that both Biden and Harris were just empty suits who donors decided were going to get the top jobs regardless. But that is not working out so well. Trying to pretend that the pandemic is over because vaccines and just letting ‘er rip has blown up in people’s faces. You can see this in IM Doc’s reports, especially with Democrat voters. Inflation was skyrocketing before the NATO-Russia war with all sorts of supply line problems as seen with the fracas with containers on the west coast. But worse of all is playing war games with a nuclear power in Europe that carries the risk of the US getting into a shooting war with Russia that conceivably end up in a nuclear exchange. Who wanted that? Last I saw, nobody wants to sign up for WW3 when the idea was just to go back to normal. And it has been seen how Biden will push through tens of billions of dollars to the Ukraine but refuses to do anything for Americans themselves. That $40 billion was tied to a smaller Covid relief program but that got quickly chopped off so the Ukrainian part could be passed in days while the covid-relief part sank out of sight. If Biden & Co had done anything for ordinary Americans, he might of had a hope but because he didn’t, he is leading the Democrats into oblivion come November. In short, he burned all that political capital down and has none left.

    Reply
    1. Glen

      No one counted on Biden combining the foreign policy expertise of W, the economic luck of Hoover, and a vision of America that is uniquely his own – there is no need to make America great again if your political reality has remained stuck in 1990.

      But he’s actually done quite well for his donors owners. So there will be full court press to get the same team of idiots back in office, but it’s not going to happen.

      Reply
  13. Michael Ismoe

    where else are liberal Democrats gonna find a Black cop with million-watt smile?

    Kamala’s a cop.

    Reply
  14. Hannah

    Six years after ProPublica revealed that Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude Black users

    Another defective weird algorithm: Practically all the people in the ads we see on Freevee are black.

    We are white, our neighborhood and town is white. Did black people watching get all the white ads and vice versa????

    Reply
  15. Michael Ismoe

    “…On her way to a barbecue for a local politician, a car that she was in with Mr. Pelosi and a number of their children flipped on its side. No one was hurt, and Ms. Pelosi hitched a ride to go meet donors.”

    If you ever need a quick definition of a sociopath, tell that story.

    Mother’s Day must be a blast at the Pelosi household. “Hey, Mom, remember the time you left us on the side of the road during the Zodiac Killer heyday to get that fundraiser for Jesse Unruh?”

    Reply
    1. griffen

      Proof positive of the lack of character and really bad priorities. I’m sure a nanny might have been available to be of help with the kids.

      I thought Zodiac had gone quiet by the time mentioned, in the late 70s? Familiar with the film from like 06 or 07, features a great cast. Really interesting, strange but a good film.

      Reply
  16. The Rev Kev

    Just struck me “infection builds your immune system” sounds an awful lot like “doing distasteful things builds character”.

    Is that anything like what does not kill you makes you stronger? I don’t think Coronavirus works that way.

    Reply
  17. LawnDart

    Re; Eric Adams

    It’ll be interesting to note any discrepancies between the original financial reports and the amended versions.

    As a researcher, I did these comparisons on another mayor some years ago and the results were… …interesting. He ultimately was convicted by the feds of bribery. I did that work as a favor, and have no interest or intention of ever doing this kind of work ever again– politics here in USA are as dirty and disgusting as they ever were.

    Be slightly curious to see how this turns-out for Adams though.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I suspect that if people want any Representative Democratic Republicanization done on their behalf by professional quality politician-officeholders, the public will have to decide to tolerate a lot of blackmailable activities, so that their chosen officeholders are thereby rendered immune to blackmail. Then those officeholders would be free to do more of what they believe in.

      ” I’m a politician, not a role model”.

      ” He may be a sewage-encrusted tire iron of justice, but he’s OUR sewage-encrusted tire iron of justice.”

      (After that, the credible looming threat of Kennedy-King-Kennedy style assassination will still hang over their heads, ever ready to be released upon them. That too would have to be addressed.)

      Reply
  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    I can’t remember the names involved, but a few months ago I remember reading that the Proud Boys “leader”, whatever his name is, was disavowed by his “second in command” who said that he wanted the Proud Boys to be a strictly White Nationalist organization and that the “leader” was not White enough to lead the White Nationalist organization which the Proud Boys needed to become.

    But this is just memory, to be sure.

    And I suspect the Proud Boys will do some serious Intelligence/ Counter Intelligence work to find any other FBIs or other Feds within their organization.

    Reply
  19. LawnDart

    Re; “Blue and Red Do Have Something in Common. They’ve Both Been Ripped Off, Repeatedly”

    That is a separate stand-alone post in-and-all by itself, and I have had similar thoughts for a long time.

    In my travels across USA, I find that this is a commonality that breaks almost all ice in conversation about politics or news of the day across cultural or regional barriers– the pols are fv(king us, and every two years we get a choice between missionary or doggy-style.

    I believe that any pol or candidate who participates in our current system are part of the problem, along with the voters who enable them.

    Reply
    1. Fiery Hunt

      Abso-fucking-lutely.
      From foreign policy to economic policy to social policies to a recognition of cultural norms and differences.

      Not my government.

      Reply
  20. LawnDart

    I am currently babysitting a dementia patient (family). And reading-up on covid’s brain-damage. This covid-s#!t is gonna really mess us up, and that is coming faster than we think. I really haven’t seen much in the msm media about this, but I guess it’s one-cycle to the next, catching eyeballs today and not further out than that.

    Edit:

    [Ha! And that’s not what I meant to post– I was going to bring up the toll on caretakes and society as a whole from the brain-damage! AD is contagious!]

    Reply
  21. DJG, Reality Czar

    Is it satire or is time out of joint? The CCing tweet. Abby Govindan.

    It has to be satire, right? That official, choreographed groveling, right?

    Otherwise, if it is a “real” tweet, what we are seeing is just how so many U.S. businesses are little North Koreas, run by tinhorn dictators making the employees repeat slogans so as to preserve their crappy and deteriorating health-insurance plans.

    I like to think that I have a sense of humor and irony. Have I, however, lost my mind?

    [And where the heck did it go?]

    Reply
  22. DJG, Reality Czar

    Groundlings: Your good counsel, please.

    I started some new bank accounts–most importantly a new checking account.

    I have been using Quicken for years as my checkbook software and to balance my checking account. Now, I discover that Quicken has gone to the odious “subscription model”–you know, a monthly fee to the user for nothing.

    I don’t want automatic bill payment (Hermes likes flexiblity), connection to the Cloud (Hermes forfend), or direct connection to my bank (Hermes, avert your eyes). These services are not what my tutelary deity has in mind. Nor do I want iPhone and iPad access. Computer only.

    So: Just a good e-checkbook that can do an end-of-year tax / category summary.

    I see that for a Macintosh, two highly regarded programs are CheckBook Pro and Moneyspire.

    Advice?

    Reply
  23. Mr Bumpy Face

    “Vice signaling” is vague and confusing term that unlikely to catch on outside of Oxford, where the apparent coiner to be of this unwieldy term learned stuff. Better to go with the hood like and clear term, thug signaling.

    Reply

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