2:00PM Water Cooler 6/29/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Thrush Nightingale, Podlaskie, Poland. Two nightingales.

* * *


Lambert here: One reader suggested changing these quotes; I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I need to think about it. I don’t want to be too doomy — we are not short of inventory in that department — but I don’t want to go all chipped and Pollyanna-esque, either.

“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

Lambert here: I’m doing my best to sort this, but it’s not easy, because the journalists and politicians running what is a in fact a show have form: Not one, but two episodes of hysterical official propaganda: RussiaGate, and Ukraine. Presumably, if the hearings are worth anything, they will lead to some criminal indictments, and not a little weak-a*s legislation. (Conversely, if they don’t lead to criminal indictements, they are by definition worthless, since there could have been no coup; I don’t see how a “legal coup” can be a thing. High stakes!)

“‘Ketchup dripping down the wall’: 5 stunning moments from Cassidy Hutchinson’s Jan. 6 testimony” [Politico]. Ketchup instead of blood seems like useful metaphor. The Committee was called back from recess for Hutchinson’s testimony, so it was either important or the Committee wished to make it appear so. “Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as a top aide to former Donald Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, on Tuesday delivered bombshell testimony to the Jan. 6 committee about the inner workings of Trump’s White House as his election subversion push mounted. Over the course of a couple hours, she laid out her knowledge of Trump’s post-election campaign to hold onto power — from his desire to go to the Capitol as unrest by his supporters became a riot, to his efforts to allow armed rallygoers to join him on the Ellipse hours before the attack.” This, again, seems to be a pattern. Trump wants to do something, his staff stops him, and he doesn’t do it. As Yves says, when a CEO smashes up a conference room because his accountants won’t let him commit tax fraud, that doesn’t make him guilty of tax fraud; he actually has to commit the fraud. For example: “When Trump was told he would return to the White House instead of going to the Capitol that day, while being driven in the presidential vehicle known as ‘the Beast,’ Hutchinson recalled hearing that he became irate. She said she heard from Ornato [oh] that Trump lunged for the steering wheel of the car and was physically restrained by the head of his Secret Service detail, Robert Engel.” Last I checked, being irate wasn’t a criminal offense. Commentary:


UPDATE “More Testimony on Trump’s Jan. 6 Tirade” [Wall Street Journal]. “The biggest news is that Mr. Trump was advised, according to Ms. Hutchinson, that some of the people who were awaiting his Jan. 6, 2021, speech had come armed. He was angry that the crowd wasn’t filling up the ellipse, apparently because some onlookers preferred not to go through the official security check, which included magnetometers, or ‘mags’ for short.” • I have looked again at the AP chart of the charges against the Capitol rioters. There are no weapons charges. Are we really to believe that, determined to assault the Capitol and bring down the government in a coup, the very first thing the rioters did was leave their guns in their cars?

UPDATE “Six takeaways from Cassidy Hutchinson’s explosive testimony.” [New York Times]. “Upset that the crowd at his rally on Jan. 6, 2021, didn’t fill the cordoned-off space on the Ellipse, a furious Mr. Trump ordered security officials to allow people milling outside the security perimeter into the space so the event would appear well attended. Informed that some of those people were standing outside because they had weapons and didn’t want to pass through metal detectors, the president urged that they be allowed in anyway. ‘They are not here to hurt me,’ he said, according to Ms. Hutchinson, who was within earshot of the president at the time. Using a string of expletives, she testified, Mr. Trump said he wanted the security features removed. She also said the president had been told that the crowd of his supporters were threatening violence and had come armed including with guns, knives, spears and flagpoles, and wearing body armor. Mr. Trump encouraged them to go to the Capitol anyway, a detail that could prove legally problematic for him.'” I have tried to follow this closely, and as best as I can recall, the unlawful paraders who entered the Capitol were not strapped. (This would be easy to refute with photographs, but I don’t recall any. NOTE The Proud Boys, whose prosecution was delayed by the House’s, uh, work, are a separate issue.) And then there’s this: “Members of the president’s Cabinet were distressed enough by the assault on the Capitol and the president’s encouragement of the mob and refusal to intervene that they quietly discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, Ms. Hutchinson testified. The ignominious prospect of being the first president to be subject to the amendment was one of the reasons he agreed to record a video on Jan. 7 committing to a peaceful transfer of power.” • So, yet again, Trump’s subordinates want him to do something that’s against his wishes. And he does it. (It may be that Trump was better at hiring than I thought; he was just using an odd spectrum of choice.)

UPDATE “The Most Damning January 6 Testimony Yet” [The Atlantic]. “By the morning of January 6, Trump’s attempts to steal the election had largely failed. Every lawsuit had foundered, every state-level ploy seemed to have stalled, and Vice President Mike Pence had declared that he would not engage in chicanery concocted by the attorney John Eastman and his confederates. There was one last hope: somehow disrupting Congress’s certification of the result.” • “Somehow” is doing a lot of work, there, because the how of the somehow is never explained. Is a coup without an actual plan to seize power a coup? Really? Shocking not shocking that Frum’s Atlantic passed this piece.

UPDATE “How the Jan. 6 panel’s star witness drew a roadmap for Trump’s culpability” [Politico]. The headline is misleading. The article is a useful picture of the communications flow in Trump’s White House. There’s no “culpability” because the actions described (Trump “lunging” for the steering wheel) aren’t connected to the theory of the case, if any. •

UPDATE “Hearing raises the prospect of Team Trump’s witness tampering” [MSNBC]. “‘Our committee commonly asks witnesses connected to Mr. Trump’s administration or campaign whether they’ve been contacted by any of their former colleagues or anyone else who attempted to influence or impact their testimony,’ Cheney explained. Evidently, some witnesses were, in fact, contacted by those interested in having an influence. One witness described receiving phone calls. ‘What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team,’ the unnamed witness said. ‘I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World — and they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just keep that in mind as I proceed through my interviews with the committee.’ Another witness received related pressure. ‘A person let me know you have your deposition tomorrow,’ the witness was told. ‘He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.’ Cheney concluded her comments by saying, ‘We will be discussing these issues as a committee, carefully considering our next steps.’ If that sounded to you like a committee leader planning to make a referral to the Justice Department, you weren’t alone in getting that impression. In case this isn’t painfully obvious, witness tampering is a felony.” • It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. But it’s remarkable that the Commitee is coming up with this criminal charge at such a late date.

Lambert here: Can somebody just lay out a timeline of what Trump did, and then put the evidence along the timeline? So we have a theory of the case? Maybe there is such a thing, buried in the muck. If so, can any alert readers link to it?

Biden Administration

“Do what now?”:

One shouldn’t rely on clips (especially ones tagged “RNC research”). That said, Harris had plenty of time to prepare. She should have knocked that one out of the park! And in a friendly venue, too. Because what we got—

“Kamala Harris disappoints in CNN interview: ‘[Do what now?'” [Boing Boing]. Full context:

CNN: What do you say to Democratic voters who argue “Wait a minute, we worked really hard to elect a Democratic president and vice president, a Democratic-led House, a Democratic-led Senate. Do it now.”

Harris Do what now? What now? I mean, we need, we, listen, what we did, we extended the Child Tax Credit.

CNN: I’m sorry, when I say “Do it now,” yeah, act legislatively to make abortion rights legal.

Harris: We feel the same way. Do it now. Congress needs to do it now in terms of permanently putting in place a clear indication that it is the law of the land that women have the ability and the right to make decisions about their reproductive care and the government does not have the right to make those decisions for a woman.

Top of mind is the child tax credit? (Also, in the video above, Harris seems to be shifting nervously around in her seat rather a lot. Odd.)


* * *

“A Mixed Night for MAGA and Meddling” [Cook Political Report]. “One of the bigger storylines from Tuesday’s primary was the extent to which Democrats meddled in GOP statewide primaries, with the goal of helping to elect the weaker (and usually more Trump-oriented) candidate. As Jessica Taylor writes, their months-long strategy worked out in the Illinois governor race, where the DGA and incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker combined to spend more than $35 million to boost conservative downstate Sen. Darren Bailey over the more moderate Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. Even though billionaire hedge fund executive Ken Griffin put $50 million behind Irvin, Bailey notched a comfortable win – with Irvin coming in third place, 42 points behind the GOP winner. Bailey’s victory was another reminder of how the GOP base in the state – once centered in the prosperous suburbs around Chicago – has migrated to the more rural downstate. But, Democratic efforts to secure more controversial candidates backfired in both the Senate and governor primaries in Colorado.” • Wait. Didn’t the Democrats recently have some problems with this strategy?

CA: “Millions of Calif. families to get ‘inflation relief’ stimulus checks of up to $1,050: What we know about whether other states will follow” [CNBC]. “Record high inflation and gas prices have many Americans hoping for financial relief. And in California, that’s exactly what approximately 23 million residents stand to get, thanks to the state’s new budget deal, which is slated to give qualifying taxpayers new direct payments. Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders agreed on a $17 billion relief package that includes $9.5 billion in inflation relief funds. Those estimated 23 million California taxpayers will receive between $200 and $1,050 by early next year. ‘Millions of Californians will be receiving up to $1,050 as part of a NEW middle class tax rebate,’ Newsom tweeted on Sunday. ‘That’s more money in your pocket to help you fill your gas tank and put food on the table,’ he wrote.” And: “Other states, such as Maine, New Jersey and New Mexico, have also made efforts to provide direct relief payments to residents… California has more flexibility to send these kinds of payments because its budget is one of the largest in dollar terms and they have the biggest surplus on record of any state, he said. ‘They have a highly progressive tax code that is bringing in a lot of revenue from the profitable corporations and wealthy individuals that are doing the best in this economy right now,’ [Dylan Grundman O’Neill, senior state policy analyst at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy] said.”

“The G.O.P. Inside Conversation on Roe” [Puck]. “Cortez tweeted that her fellow party members need to stop fundraising off the repeal of Roe and actually do something. Even Republicans who had spent the last two years peddling the “Dems in disarray” line thought it was a little harsh. ‘I was surprised at A.O.C. blaming the Democratic leadership,” one G.O.P. aide told me. “I was like, woah.’ But A.O.C. hit on a sentiment that is quietly but widely shared in Washington, especially among Democrats. Even they admit to being in disarray. ‘What the fuck are we doing?’ a Democratic lobbyist fumed. ‘What the f*ck is the D.N.C. doing? I’m on their listserv and I haven’t gotten a f*cking thing, have you? Every woman I’ve seen on social media that’s so mad, I’ve seen no link to, hey, here’s where you vote. If this was the G.O.P. side, that whole apparatus would be mobilized. From the Koch brothers to the N.R.A. to big oil, they would be efficiently mobilizing their base right now.’ Asked what they expected to see from fellow Democrats, the lobbyist responded, ‘I think we’re going to see a lot of hashtags, and some rallies, and a lot of useless sh*t.'” And from the Republicans: “‘Nothing in your life will change [after the repeal of Roe] if you live in Pennsylvania but every day, you will see $5 gas at the gas station as you drive to work and higher grocery store prices,’ a Senate G.O.P. leadership aide said. ‘It’s [Democrats’] wishful thinking that it would help them when they have so much going against them.’ Another Republican, a former elected official, told me that he doesn’t expect the Roe reversal to help Democrats come November. ‘People will be voting on high energy prices and the situation on the southern border,’ he predicted. ‘They will not be voting on January 6 and they sure as hell won’t be voting on Roe v. Wade.'”


“Howard Stern May Run For President, Reveals Plan To ‘Overturn All This Bulls**t'” [HuffPo (jr)]. Stretch goal. “Stern, a longtime supporter of abortion rights, said he would set out to accomplish just two things. ‘The problem with most presidents is they have too big of an agenda,’ he said on his SiriusXM radio show on Monday, according to The Hill. ‘The only agenda I would have is to make the country fair again.’ … Stern briefly toyed with running for governor in New York in the 1990s as a Libertarian but dropped out over financial disclosure rules.”

“The Jan. 6th Hearings” (video) [Jesse Ventura’s Die First Then Quit]. • Worth a listen. I wonder how close Ventura is to the famous median voter on this issue.

“Youngkin meets with megadonors amid hints he’s mulling White House bid” [WaPo]. “Gov. Glenn Youngkin flew to New York last week to meet privately with GOP megadonors in Manhattan, a move that underscores recent hints that the Republican is considering a run for president in 2024. The day-long visit, which was not listed on Youngkin’s public calendar and included a trio of national TV interviews, comes as the new governor prepares to headline his first out-of-state political event since taking office, with an appearance next week in Nebraska. He also has begun speaking more often about the needs of ‘Americans,’ not just ‘Virginians,’ and has subtly changed how he answers questions about whether he will seek the White House.” • Hmm. I wonder who his political strategists are….

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Court kills Flint water charges against ex-governor, others” [Associated Press (jr)]. “The Michigan Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder and others in the Flint water scandal, saying a judge sitting as a one-person grand jury had no power to issue indictments under rarely used state laws. It’s an astonishing defeat for Attorney General Dana Nessel, who took office in 2019, got rid of a special prosecutor and put together a new team to investigate whether crimes were committed when lead contaminated Flint’s water system in 2014-15. State laws ‘authorize a judge to investigate, subpoena witnesses, and issue arrest warrants’ as a grand juror, the Supreme Court said. ‘But they do not authorize the judge to issue indictments,’ the court said in a 6-0 opinion written by Chief Justice Bridget McCormack.” • Oops…


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 down. 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.

* * *

• ”The dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity with changes in aerosol microenvironment” [PNAS]. “A combination of measurement strategies to probe the changes in airborne viral infectivity with time and the physicochemical transformation dynamics of the host aerosol is crucial to improve our understanding of the influence of environmental (such as [relative humidity (RH)], temperature) and biological (such as spike protein mutations) parameters on the transmission of viruses in the aerosol phase. While the current consensus is that the half-life of SARS-CoV-2 in the aerosol phase is between 1 and 2 h, if not longer, we report an initial rapid decline in infectivity within a few seconds to minutes of aerosol generation. Under all conditions measured, the majority of SARS-CoV-2 is inactivated within 10 min of aerosolization. Further research is required to determine for how long the remaining fraction persists, how this may depend on the viral load in the aerosol, and the influence of chemical composition.” • Note that the maximum duration tested was 20 minutes, and real saliva was not used. Commentary:

So I wouldn’t bet the farm on that “10 min” figure. Good topic for investigation though!

• ”Lufthansa is the latest European airline to cancel thousands of flights at the last minute” [EuroNews]. “Airline giant Lufthansa is planning to cut more than 3,000 flights this summer due to staff shortages and strikes… ‘Strikes among air traffic controllers, the weather and above all an increase in COVID-19 infections’ are cited as the cause.” • It’s unfortunate that the entire system of international air travel is a ginormous and continuing superspreader event, but here we are.

• Maskstravaganza:

I’m baffled, too (and angry, to tell the truth). I was about to make a joke about scientists “leaving science at the office,” but this behavior is in the office (or the workplace). I could blame droplet goons in infection control, but this seems more a form of collective… madness.

* * *

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 for the United States:

The totals are more or less level, but under the hood the BA.4/5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. 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 ~106,300. Today, it’s ~108,000, and 106,300 * 6 = a Biden line at 648,000. 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.

• ”Coronavirus Today: It’s everywhere” [Los Angeles Times]. “Just a couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether the coronavirus would take a summer vacation. Now we know the answer: It most certainly will not. It feels like people with COVID-19 are everywhere.” It feels like that because they are.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

0.4%. (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 22:

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

CDC’s wastewater chart is down again.

• From alert reader RN:

Hello, I have been following the wastewater numbers for my city Athens Ohio, and CDC has published nothing since June 14th. We are having a surge of cases, 3 workers out at my bakery, sick, symptoms not “mild” and other restaurants closing because of workers out. Any word out there as to why CDC isn’t getting some numbers out. Our official case numbers are way up, but I know that there are more cases and we should see a rise in the waste stream. Thanks

NOT UPDATED Variant data, regional (Biobot), June 8:

Out of date compared to Walgreens (below) but still showing doubling behavior.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 22:

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 11:

Doubling behavior moving along quite briskly.

Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does (BA.4/BA.5 is 27.7% as of June 18) but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

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

The West Coast is on fire again, as is Texas (but, oddly, not Florida). Illinois and West Virginia are heating up, too.

The previous release:

No matter what else the CDC butchered, they have published the Community Profile Report regular as clockwork since forever. It’s resumed after stopping for two days (and wastewater collection is still down). Just to be clear on the responsibilities:

Yes, the Community Profile Report commits to be “daily.” That the report didn’t come out for two days is a White House f*ck-up responsibility, but multiple agencies are also involved. All of them look bad.

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:

Status quo.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Very volatile, but a lot more yellow since the previous update several days ago.

Get ready.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,041,354 1,041,027. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States GDP Deflator” [Trading Economics]. “The US gross domestic product price index, which measures changes in the prices of goods and services produced, jumped 8.3% on quarter in the first three months of 2022 to a record high.”

Inflation: “United States PCE Prices QoQ” [Trading Economics]. “The PCE price index in the US increased 7% on quarter in the first three months of 2022, the most since 1981 and in line with the second estimate, final figures showed.”

Consumer Spending: “United States Real Consumer Spending QoQ” [Trading Economics]. “Final personal consumption expenditure in the United States grew by 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2022, easing sharply from a 2.5 percent increase in the previous three-month period. The reading came much lower than 3.1 percent reported in second estimate and 2.7 percent seen in the advance estimate.”

Profits: “United States Corporate Profits” [Trading Economics]. “Corporate profits in the United States fell 4.9 percent to USD 2.40 trillion in the first quarter of 2022, following a 0.2 percent gain in the previous period and compared with preliminary estimates of a 4.3 percent drop.”

* * *

Retail: “Analysts accuse Bed Bath & Beyond of turning off AC in stores to save money as sales plummet” [CNN]. “A new report from Bank of America claims that the company has cut air conditioning in an effort to quickly lower expenses to make up for a slump in sales. Bed Bath & Beyond told CNN that any changes in store temperature guidelines did not come from corporate. “We’ve been contacted about this report, and to be clear, no Bed Bath & Beyond stores were directed to adjust their air conditioning and there have been no corporate policy changes in regard to utilities usage,” said a representative. Still, analysts at Bank of America who have conducted store visits report mounting concerns, including labor hours that have been meaningfully cut, scaled back utilities, reduced store operating hours and canceled remodeling projects. Rewards programs have also been scaled back and replaced. The analysts expect Bed Bath & Beyond’s management will soon announce more store closures and halt openings of its Buy Buy Baby stores. Meanwhile, fire sales and price reductions run rampant.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Is Building a Robotaxi Without a Steering Wheel or Pedals by 2024, Musk Says” [The Drive]. From April. We haven’t heard much since then. “Tesla is building a ‘dedicated robotaxi’ without a steering wheel or pedals that it plans to launch in 2024, CEO Elon Musk announced during the company’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday. The vehicle will be ‘highly optimized for autonomy,’ according to Musk. He reiterated that it wouldn’t have any physical controls for the driver, meaning its launch hinges on the company completing work on its full self-driving stack in the next two years.” • Let me know how that works out.

The Bezzle:

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 26 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 21 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 29 at 1:11 PM EDT.

Feral Hog Watch

For you have the feral hogs with you always:

The Gallery

Preferable to guitars, I suppose:

Then along comes Warhol, who just… paints the box.

Zeitgeist Watch

No! Don’t go in!

Class Warfare

Many votes, few contracts:

“Viewpoint: Two Contrasting Visions of the Labor Movement Were on Display in June” [Labor Notes]. “In her prepared remarks, President Shuler announced the establishment of a Center for Transformational Organizing, comparing this to how the AFL ‘invested to create the CIO for industrial organizing in the 1930s.’ ‘And here’s the bottom line,” she announced: ‘In the next 10 years, we will organize and grow our movement by more than one million working people. Together. All in. One, single, transformational goal.’ ‘How’s that for a goal?’ The delegates cheered. Well, since you asked, that’s a bad goal. It falls way short of what is needed. If the AFL-CIO meets this goal, it wouldn’t even keep up with the growth in the size of the workforce. It would fail to increase the percentage of workers represented by unions…. The AFL-CIO convention took place during a rise in union organizing and public support for unions. Although Shuler mentioned the organizing being done by workers at Starbucks and Amazon—the people who are doing transformational organizing—no representatives from the Amazon Labor Union or Starbucks Workers United spoke at the convention, most likely because they are doing it outside the framework of the AFL-CIO.”

“Assortative Matching at the Top of the Distribution: Evidence from the World’s Most Exclusive Marriage Market” [American Economic Journal: Applied Economics]. “Using novel data on peerage marriages in Britain, I find that low search costs and marriage-market segregation can generate sorting. Peers courted in the London Season, a matching technology introducing aristocratic bachelors to debutantes. When Queen Victoria went into mourning for her husband, the Season was interrupted (1861–1863), raising search costs and reducing market segregation. I exploit exogenous variation in women’s probability to marry during the interruption from their age in 1861. The interruption increased peer-commoner intermarriage by 40 percent and reduced sorting along landed wealth by 30 percent. Eventually, this reduced peers’ political power and affected public policy in late nineteenth-century England.” • Amazing. I wonder if Covid is doing anything similar.

News of the Wired

“Six Dead In Two Amtrak Crashes Due to Cars on Tracks Within 24 Hours” [Vice]. Thank you, vice, for the “Due to Cars.” Generally, it’s always the train’s fault, no matter how idiotic the behavior of drivers. However, in this Brentwood, CA and Mendon, MO: “Although the crashes occurred thousands of miles away, they have one thing in common: Both occurred at crossings without guardrails or alert systems. Authorities in Brentwood told the media that crossing sees an average of one to two crashes per year, a predictability that author Jessie Singer has argued strains the definition of the word “accident.'” • So why no level crossing signals?

* * *

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 EMM:

EMM writes: “I lucked across this really nice spot in Killarney National Park in Ireland. A Lord of the Rings type of place. O’ Sullivans Cascade. Thanks for listening.”

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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. Toshiro_Mifune

    Howard Stern May Run For President

    Oh, Howard. I really don’t think you want to do that. 1992 was a long time ago. I’m pretty sure that you’re so insulated from the world that no one will tell you that most of the under 40s have no idea who you are.

    1. Carolinian

      Thanks. My car can get Sirius but I wish it didn’t since every now and then it accidentally blares out at me–sort of like Howard Stern?

      Still Dr. Oz is running so maybe Oprah can toss her MTM beret in the ring and Ellen too. Battle of the daytime celebrities.

      1. skk

        Re: ‘Accidentally blares out

        Do you mean cuts in and out as if it’s losing signal? My car came with a 4 month free sub for sirius xm 4 years ago. I didn’t continue it but they never turned it off( and I bet on their physical inability to do so.) Things were fine for 3 years but then in city driving it cuts in and out.
        My research suggests you have to refresh, but you need an active sub for executing that. I’m waiting for one of their promo offers but none seem available for the satellite service. They have promos for their phone app and it seems they are pivoting to that. Owell…
        I remember being gobsmacked to hear to Tony Blackburn, Radio 1 blaring out of some Suv by a lake in Colorado in 2005 or so. Turned out Sirius xm played ancient 60s episodes of Radio 1 (UK) then.

        1. Carolinian

          if i inadvertently switch the ‘head unit’ to radio. Sirius is very loud. I don’t subscribe but they have promo channels.

          I’ve really never listened to Howard Stern except in clips

          1. Skk

            Thanks, I only listen, in and out in town, to the 60s channel. Thanks for the tip about promo channels. I’ll look for that to see if they cut in and
            out to get extra data about the issue I face. I only drive this car about once a month

  2. Robert Gray

    ‘Whited sepulchre’ time:


    Hypocrisy might not be as bad as, say, mass murder but since most of us don’t experience mass murder often or at all in our own lives then hypocrisy, which we do experience, even daily, gets boosted up to eyeball, infuriating, level.

    Nancy Pelosi has so many things going against her that the fact that she takes communion from the holy pontiff whilst being excommunicated by her own local bishop is maybe of lesser consequence. But it still pisses me off. There’s a great term for people like Pelosi and others who think they that can pick and choose amongst the teachings of the Church, to accept the ones they like and ignore the ones they don’t: cafeteria Catholics. Sorry, but it doesn’t work that way. If you want to be a member of the club, you’ve got to abide by the rules of the club. (cf. Groucho’s bon mot.) Otherwise, you just look like another oblivious 1%-er who — correctly, alas, so far — thinks / knows that (enough of) the voters can be stampeded in your direction, election after election. Bastards.

    1. TBellT

      It’s been a while since my religion classes but I’m pretty sure refusal of a sacrament is not the same as excommunication. And that a Pope overrules an archbishop.

    2. GramSci

      “There’s a great term for people like Pelosi and others who think they that can pick and choose amongst the teachings of the Church, to accept the ones they like and ignore the ones they don’t: cafeteria Catholics.”

      Among those others, do you include the bishop and the holy pontiff?

    3. DJG, Reality Czar

      Robert Gray:

      As a cradle Catholic, descendent of Italian Catholics (you know, the ones who put Roman in Roman Catholic), and as a lapsed and pretty lousy Catholic, and not much of a Buddhist either (although as a pagan I’m getting better at seeing numina), I can assure you that every Catholic that I know of is a cafeteria Catholic.

      Only converts like Clarence Thomas think that Catholics believe every doctrine of the Church. Or maybe the pecksniffian Antonin Scalia and his pals in Opus Dei.

      There are plenty of Catholics that I know of who believe in Mary, Mother of God, and have some serious doubts about the Trinity.

      Part of the greatness of Catholicism is that, like Buddhism, it is an endless array of beliefs, some almost mutually contradictory, that all remain in a kind of divine tension.

      And now I’m going to check to see if San Gennaro’s blood has liquefied again…

      1. eg

        The Catholic Church also a big tent; I mean a really, really BIG tent — there’s lots of room in there.

        And the “church” is not the magisterium, never mind what that boys club tells you …

    4. nippersdad

      Religious tests for government office always work out well. In fact, they work out so well that they were specifically avoided when the country was founded./s

      I’m not sure that revisiting the Reformation and the Enlightenment is something we really need to deal with right now. I don’t think we have another five hundred years to spare for your angst, and maybe that is something that the Pope has figured out but failed to communicate to Nancy’s bishop. Nancy, on the other hand, represents a lot of Jewish people, whose religion specifically calls for abortion in the event of the mother’s life being endangered.* There is something to be said for a nominally representative republic representing everyone, and hypocrisy has nothing to do with the fundamental issue of a state mandated separation between church and state.*

      If Nancy’s bishop wants a job in the political sector, maybe he can run for office just like everyone else and see how that works out for him. San Francisco sounds like an ideal test market for his theories of governance, I have no doubt he would get a lot of press, and maybe he should revisit them in a way that looks a lot less like blackmail.

      *  According to Jewish law, is abortion health care? Yes, Jewish sources explicitly state that
      abortion is not only permitted but is required should the pregnancy endanger the life or health
      of the pregnant individual.


      ** “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,”


      And, of course:

      Mark 12:17
      “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at Him.”

    5. Anthony G Stegman

      Why is Pelosi in Italy in the first place? Shouldn’t she be “fighting” to legislate abortion rights into law across the land?

  3. fresno dan

    “‘Ketchup dripping down the wall’: 5 stunning moments from Cassidy Hutchinson’s Jan. 6 testimony” [Politico]…. She said she heard from Ornato [oh] that Trump lunged for the steering wheel of the car and was physically restrained by the head of his Secret Service detail, Robert Engel.”
    Uh, I have a difficult, difficult time believeing that the president could be sitting in the back of the “beast” (i.e., the US presidential limousine) and be physically able to reach or lunge for the steering wheel of that automobile. I also find it implausible to believe that a US president, if he ordered himself to be driven to the capital, could have that order countermanded by a secret service agent. Could it be that the secret service advised Trump that there was violence at the Capital and recomended to Trump that he (Trump) return back to the White House? This strikes me as being very close in credibility to the plausibility of the P tapes.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I wondered about ‘presidential orders’ and the SS. If they are law-bound to protect the President, and he orders them to do something that would endanger himself — that might be an illegal order that they are not obligated to obey.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes they are. Apparently the woman has a grudge against Trump and made the whole thing up.

        1. Peter

          Plus, there’s a blast proof partition between the passenger compartment and the driver.
          What a big coinkydink, that the head of the Capitol Police, who was possibly going to be recalled to testify, you know, the one who said the crowd was replete with FBI agent provocateurs, he “just died.”

    2. Wukchumni

      It is an ancient political vehicle, held together by soft soap and hunger and with front-seat drivers and back-seat drivers contradicting each other in a bedlam of voices, shouting “go right” and “go left” at the same time.

      Adlai Stevenson

      1. LawnDart

        ‘We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold.’

        Hunter S. Thompson

    3. marym

      I don’t know if Trump lunged or not, but he was in an SUV not a limo. The secret service does have some authority to tell the president he can’t go somewhere or do something if they can’t secure it. I imagine there are disagreements from time to time and they argue it out without publicity.

    4. Sardonia

      Despite the legacy media breathlessly reporting Hutchinson’s claims without much skepticism, the term ‘Amber Heard 2.0’ subsequently trended on Twitter as Hutchinson’s assertions were demolished.

      Within hours, Peter Alexander of NBC News revealed that Engel was prepared to testify “under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.”

      🚨 A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.

      — Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 28, 2022

    5. The Rev Kev

      Anybody notice that when Cassidy Hutchinson gave her “testimony”, along with hearsay evidence, that she was dressed in a white jacket? It’s all about the optics. Doesn’t help when the SS say that what she said about Trump trying to grab the steering wheel was just bs.

      1. the last D

        Right. trump is way too lazy to grab anything unless it’s a buxom miss, and secret service agents are legendary for their truthfulness and selflessness (all those stories about being drunk and in prostitues up to their eyeballs is fake news.)

        trump is so right, everyone is always so unfair and mean to him.

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        I find it interesting that the Secret Service is referred to as the “SS”. Wasn’t the SS Hitler’s bodyguards? Hmmmm…POTUS….SS….Nazis…SS. It all fits like a glove.

  4. Mildred Montana

    I admire Cassidy Hutchinson’s courage. Put yourself in her position, readers, and ask if you would have done what she did.

    She has sacrificed, at the least, any future private life she might have had and perhaps, at worst, put her physical well-being in jeopardy.

    All to lie or exaggerate or embellish? I doubt it.

    1. JTMcPhee

      All women must be believed. Amiright? I don’t see anyone doing any digging into her priors and background. What a stellar upright comely witness she is! So how could she be embellishing the truth? What possible incentives could she have? Why is she now “coming conveniently forward”? Smacks of a neat prosecutor’s trick of popping up a surprise witness just before resting a weak case…

      And Monica Lewinsky, and Fawn Hall, sure went on to have private lives, among a lot of others. Some women who have “come forward” have even profited in their “sacrificed future lives” — speaking fees, book deals, job offers, even marriage offers. Notoriety can be bad, or good…

    2. Pat

      Cassidy Hutchinson has just secured a very lucrative future for herself. There will be big bucks paid for one or more interviews (one television, one print) and a fairly substantial book deal. She may even get a spot on some talk show as an ethical conservative.

        1. Pat

          True, she wouldn’t have been last week. Just like Liz Cheney wouldn’t have been before January 6th, but now they have “seen the light” so to speak.

    3. caucus99percenter

      I dunno, I think I learned my lesson from being an admirer of Tara Reade’s courage.

      1. Pat

        Can’t pick the wrong side in our propaganda wars. Just think what would have happened if the laptop abandoned in the repair shop had belonged to Donald Jr or Eric Trump rather than Hunter. Instead of being derided and facing bankruptcy, the owner of the shop would be a hero and probably be in very good shape. Not even now that we are being told how real it was , no apologies. Tara Reade was a problem for the ascendency of Joe Biden. She took a huge hit for telling HER story about Joe Biden’s actions, not repeating inflammatory largely second hand gossip that put Orange Man Bad in the light the hearings want him put in.

        Reade deserved better.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        It’s not even her story. It’s all hearsay from someone “who was there” (and who denies everything she said under oath). She witnessed none of this. Judge Judy has stricter rules of evidence than Pelosi’s Impeachment Tres.

        1. marym

          They didn’t deny everything she said under oath. She testified for about 2 hours. The disagreement between Trump and the ss agent about going to the Capitol is corroborated by that ss agent’s own previous testimony, as reported by Politico 06/08/2022. The lunging and grabbing are disputed by ss source(s).

    4. lambert strether

      > I admire Cassidy Hutchinson’s courage. Put yourself in her position, readers, and ask if you would have done what she did.

      The coming book deal will salve the pain.

    5. marym

      I don’t admire anyone in the Trump administration, or other career Republicans who have testified – particularly those among them with a more secure place in the world than a 20-something – but didn’t take a public stand on what Trump was trying to do (some of them did) at the time.

      This turned into an interesting thread though. How do her critics compare her courage, credibility, and possible motivation to other Republican officials and lawyers, WH staff, campaign staff, and Trump family members who’ve testified so far? Why compare her to Lewinsky, etc. rather than colleagues testifying about the same events? Maybe some of them will get a book deal too!

      1. JTMcPhee

        You’re presuming there is a legal case to be made against Trump for whatever happened on and around Jan. 6. The Dems have had months to parse the record, view the videos, interview and subpoena witnesses, and apply the skills of platoons of investigators and legal talents of a lot of lawyers. And what have they produced either in terms of a “theory of the case” or a chargeable offense? Maybe I’m oblique, but all I see is a lot of sturm, drang and what the sainted crook Richard J. Daley called “insinuendoes,” the squishy assertions of his opponents.

        I have no brief for Trump. He seems as big a crook in his way as Daley was in his. But the Dem machine in Chicago made it impossible to bring Daley down (though many other lesser figures went off to the federal fat farms.) One wonders why the Dems don’t seem to have laid much of a glove on Trump, despite so many pointed and well-funded efforts. At least he moved the Empire away from some bad decisions about going to war several places, and Warp Speed was a good, if misguided, idea, hijacked by Big Pharm. And for a Congress full of corrupt thieves who have done their own best to screw up the country and rubber-stamp an imperial presidency to be casting stones does tend to ring the hypocrisy gong pretty loud.

        Looking forward to seeing if the prosecution can pull a real rabbit out of the hat this time. “Public stands” and $8:25 will get you a chai latte at Starbucks.

        1. marym

          The Dems are as reprehensible and hypocritical on this as any other issue, but nearly all the witnesses have been Republicans, late to table for giving the appearance of concern about this particular attempt to nullify the votes of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

          I have no idea if there’s a legal case to be made against anyone more elite than the rowdy rioters, or anyone to make it. It would be the DOJ, though, not Congress.

      2. Pat

        If I see no sign of lucrative media/book deals in the next several months I will apologize about my assessment of Ms. Hutchinson’s motivations. Recognition of Her so-called courage will take more. Anita Hill she isn’t. It is very clear that despite the legal weakness of her testimony, the panel is friendly to her. Other than working there, there was little that was personally embarrassing or traumatic to Ms. Hutchinson. She is is also likely saving her future employment options not limiting them by doing this with so little other than sensationalism to offer.

        Lambert is more open to the idea that is some purpose other than trying to make Trump unelectable and up Democratic candidates’ chances in November for this show trial than I am. I fully expect that nothing of substance will come of this. No real indictments, no laws securing our election system I recognize that you were appalled and fully expect this to matter. Good luck with that.

        But then I am a disillusioned idealist. I am still waiting for those responsible for the war crimes Chelsea Manning exposed to be prosecuted. Manning has been tried, tortured and served her time. The murderous crimes have yet to be charged. And quite frankly we have much more evidence of horrific crimes there than anything we have seen from this mockery.

        1. marym

          These were the courageous witnesses:


          An election worker and an election volunteer. They were responsible citizens in their ordinary lives. They were the target of the Republican machine from the president and his lawyer to the right wing media to the non-elite followers who harassed them.

          None of the Republican elite showing up as witnesses, or Republicans and Democrats on the committee are heroes or patriots. Most of them did nothing to stop the attempted election subversion. They’re all responsible for the corrupt system, electoral and beyond. They’re all unlikely to do anything but make it worse.

          CH may well have been on her way to being one of them, but they’ve all devoted their entire lives to building and profiting from – far more than book deals or 15 minutes of fame – an evil system of politics and power.

  5. Toshiro_Mifune

    Uh, I have a difficult, difficult time believeing that the president could be sitting in the back of the “beast” (i.e., the US presidential limousine) and be physically able to reach or lunge for the steering wheel of that automobile.
    Yeah, that’s the first thing I thought as well. I also have a hard time imagining Trump lunging for anything and not being instantly winded.

  6. Samuel Conner

    > more a form of collective… madness.

    Throwing an hypothesis against the wall; maybe it’ll stick.

    Perhaps social reinforcement of self-indulgence is innately more effective than social reinforcement of inconvenience. People are more inclined to imitate a convenient behavior that is harmful than an inconvenient behavior that is protective. No-one with whom I have brought the matter up (with strangers and casual acquaintances) has argued against my expressed concerns about the continuing threat posed by the pandemic — and this while none of them have been masked as we had these conversations. They accept the N95s I offer — 3 more handed out today, to another plants recipient.

    Or perhaps it’s a bit like the Prisoner’s Dilemma. If everyone were to employ effective NPIs, the pandemic might peter out. But the NPIs are a burden, and given that so many of one’s peers aren’t employing them, one knows that the pandemic will never end, and one’s own efforts are merely delaying the day that one becomes infected. Given the evident hopelessness of the situation, it is strongly tempting to “defect”, like everyone else in one’s social circle.

    IMO we could benefit from public service advertisements to frighten people about long COVID the way, decades ago, high-schoolers were warned about the dangers of smoking, or of drug addiction, or of STDs.

    People should be losing sleep over this.

    1. Samuel Conner

      > evident hopelessness of the situation, it is strongly tempting to “defect”, like everyone else in one’s social circle.

      IOW, “eat, drink and be merry now, because regardless of what you, individually, do now, in 5 years the system is going to collapse from lack of able-bodied workers.”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      But why would the government do that or even permit that, if widespread Long Covid is one of the government’s goals? So that millions of people with Long Covid will conveniently die just about the age of going onto Social Security?

      1. Samuel Conner

        I think it’s a not implausible idea that responsible parties high in govt included that in the calculations, but without considering the effect of widespread disability on both the disability trust fund and on payments into the retirement fund.

        I’m trying to understand the “you’re on your own” calculations of people in my (relatively narrow) social circle who act reasonably intelligently with respect to other questions where ‘self-interest’ is at stake. I think it’s some kind of collective phenomenon, as Lambert mentioned. The group is stupider than the typical group member.

      2. Geo

        Yesterday I stopped at a view point to admire a rolling fog over the Malibu seaside. Another guy was there and we got to chatting. Within a minute he said, “I don’t think they care to do anything about all this because they know there’s too many of us and they’re wanting to thin the herd. I know it sounds crazy but nothing else makes sense to me.”

        This was Malibu. He was driving a Mercedes. Not the profile of a fringe conspiracy theorist. As we talked he elaborated on the “all this” meaning Covid, Supreme Court rulings, Ukraine War, etc. Basically sounded like he felt the “let ‘er rip” policy applies to everything at this point.

        Completely anecdotal but not the convo I expected to have in one of the most wealthy enclaves in America. Especially with no prompting and so openly.

        1. .human

          I got the same thing with an extemporaneous encounter in a bank in Farmington, CT. Another very upscale community.

          It does seem like the hand is being over-played to the point of being obvious.

        2. Left in Wisconsin

          All these people have a lot more faith in our elites than I do. From where I sit, they can’t do anything, much less organize a mass culling of the herd. Also, wouldn’t they want to exempt themselves from the culling, and thus take precautions to protect their own persons and families?

          1. ambrit

            It depends on which “elite” one is thinking of. There is the Dreaded 1% crowd. They in turn have the 0.1% to kowtow to. Then we ascend to the Heavenly Realms of the 0.01% and above. It turns into a fiendish infinite regression. I can well believe that no one is “in control,” while believing that someone “like them” is so endowed with power and glory. Virtue is gained sheerly through association. The Illusion has become the focus while the Reality serenely sails along, impervious to anyone’s blandishments.
            Such cynicism is understandable as a reaction to the constant reminders of the incompetence and venality of our “Ruling Elites.” One eventually retreats into Stoicism or Religion. (I will suggest that what some might assert as being Religious Stoicism is in reality Quietism.)
            Stay safe. Contemplate eternity.

            1. flora

              Yes. We seem surrounded by one-true-way-of-x ists, be it about democracy or religion or finance or economics. Ever narrower definitions of the one-true-way: WEF is the one-true-way of capitalism, The Family is the one true-way of protestant evanlegical religion, etc. Funny that the one-true-way is usually power focused benefiting the 0.01%, and something not many have ever heard of. A bit like an opportunistic saleman pitching the “latest true good object” you’ve never heard of and don’t know why it’s better than what you’ve always used. Or some such. (not a great analogy.)

              I got no answers. I avoid one-true-way-isms handed down from on someone else’s high. (pun intended.) / ;)

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            The “visible elites” are just high-class butlers.

            Of course the Hamptons ” is not a defensible position”.

            Do you think the Overclass cares about that? Or even lives in the Hamptons?

            George Bush Junior bought a 200,000 acre chunk of land in Paraguay sitting atop one of the largest aquifers in the world. Now THAT . . . is a “defensible position”. If the George Bush class ( What Poppy Bush once called “the investing classes”) gets as much Long Covid as the rest of us with results just as bad, I would be genuinely surprised.

            By the way, this perception must be “in the air”. No way did all these people read and get affected by my tinfoil comments. If the governators have made it this obvious, society may be reaching a level of supersaturated tension which could suddenly “crystallize” without warning. If/when that happens, I hope all the violence is directed up the class ladder where it deserves to go, and not just around and around the bottom of the class ladder where most of us are.

    3. antidlc

      ” IMO we could benefit from public service advertisements to frighten people about long COVID the way, decades ago, high-schoolers were warned about the dangers of smoking, or of drug addiction, or of STDs.

      People should be losing sleep over this.”

      Absolutely, Samuel.

      Where is the CDC?

      From Eric Topol:

      Has the @CDCgov
      warned you about BA.5, now accounting for ~37% of Covid cases, a liability for reinfections, less protection from vaccines and monoclonals, risk of #LongCovid?
      No. But it should have.

      Link to his substack on BA.5:

    1. Wukchumni

      Stage 3 fire restrictions will be in place soon in Sequoia NP, with no fires allowed at any elevation, and i’ve been burning off duff & downed wood like a dervish around the cabin in anticipation of not being able to soon, probably by this weekend with July 4th coming.

      1. Glen

        Sounds like a good plan. We’re putting in rain water collecting for enhanced gardening and if required, fire fighting.

        Maybe we can convince Biden to do a new CCC or increase funding and hire people for the NFS if all of the resulting gathered up wood is sent to Poland and Ukraine.

        I mean, it’s a really stupid idea so, yeah, it’s got that going for it.

    2. Mikel

      Maybe we can smother the fires with the next round of stimulus cash.

      Cali is having to dish out more cash so people can have money left over after paying housing costs and gasoline prices. How much, Gavin? How much are you gonna keep dishing out because the rent is too damn high???

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    I guess I’m confused:

    -the Pope praised the decision
    -Pelosi and Biden are doing nothing but blaming voters
    -Pelosi bends the knee for the Pope. Receiving communion from the Pope is no different than any other communion service or mass.

    It seems to me she is genuflecting before Pope.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        ” Latinx” . . . ?

        Is that “Latinxo” or “Latinxa”?

        Every time someone refers to “Latinx”, they should also refer to “Chicanx” when relevant. And “Cubanx” and etc.

        1. caucus99percenter

          Last week my non-binary niece-nephew e-mailed me a link to an interview by a Filipinx artist named Jake Zyrus (apparently trans FtM, formerly Charice).

          So quite seriously, it does seem to be the thing to do in their social milieu.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I was trying to be satirical and reality out-satirizes me. What a world, what a world . . .

            I guess all one can do is throw up one’s hands and ask . . . ” Filipinxo? Or Filipinxa?”

    1. aj

      I seem to recall that it was the conservatives back in the 60’s who worried that JFK’s Catholicism would cause him to be a puppet of the Papacy. I guess they realized they were right all along and adopted the approach for themselves, because here we are 60 years later and a bunch of Catholics effectively just outlawed abortion.

      The current Supreme Court is 7 Catholics and 2 Jews. (Breyer and Kagan are Jewish, the rest are all Catholic)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And the Catholics are specifically Federalist Society vetted Catholic Sharia Law Catholics.
        And are they all Opus Dei as well? Or only most of them?

        1. none

          And the Catholics are specifically Federalist Society vetted Catholic Sharia Law Catholics.

          Sotomayor too? Not saying you’re wrong, just want to check.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Sotomayor? I hadn’t thought of that. I doubt that in the strongest possible terms. She is not one of the Federalist Society vetted Sharia Law Catholics. She is not the droids I am looking for.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Did I hear that Breyer is retiring soon? So maybe another Opus Dei Catholic and one (I believe non-practicing) Jewish person. Wonder what wonders that set will reveal to the rest of us, out of their peerless parsing of the Foundational Documents… Oh, some of you thought I meant the Catholic catechism and Bible? I was thinking of the Constitution and Amendments thereto…

        1. caucus99percenter

          Today June 30 is in fact Breyer’s last day. Justice “Not a Biologist” Jackson takes over starting tomorrow (for good luck all month, don’t forget to say “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!” as soon as you awaken — hey, don’t scoff, FDR reportedly swore by this practice).

      3. JTMcPhee

        My parents were dyed-in-the-wool Democrats, Presbyterians from New England. Old-fashioned liberals, from before the pugnasticrapication of the word. They both worried about putting a mouthpiece for the Pope behind the big desk in the Oval Office.

      4. Greg

        Do you have separation of church and state anymore, if one of your branches of government is effectively a front for a particularly aggressive strain of religion?

      5. the last D

        I understand that gorsuch left the catholic faith to become an episcopalian, fwiw. Doesn’t say too much for either faith, imho. Sometimes bs is just bs.

  8. John

    The young woman reported what others told her. I looked upon it as establishing DJT’s state of mind. His visceral rejection of the very idea that he could be, in fact was, a loser, something his father had drummed into him as the worst that one could be. To a person ‘blessed’ with an ego like Trump’s … well, draw a line from there to his continuing to repeat the “stolen election” line one year and nearly eight months later.

    1. hunkerdown

      In other words, liberal mysticism drawn from the Puritan past. Democrats recite his faults in order to appear altruistic and signal the virtue of moral development, not just to cover their long-standing complicity in the state.

    2. caucus99percenter

      Her Hillary-ness and the Democrats’ media allies are still repeating the Russiagate “stolen election” line five years and nearly eight months later.

    3. hk

      I’m not sure if we are talking about Trump or H Clinton here. Good God, they are such exact mirror images of each other!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        ” Clintards to the left of me, Trumtards to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you.”

    4. Fraibert

      “The young woman reported what others told her.”

      That’s classic hearsay. I gather from other people talking in discussion group I sometimes frequent (haven’t looked myself) that conservative Twitter is in an uproar on that point.

      Nonetheless, the use of hearsay as evidence, absent a good countervailing reason, tends to be extremely discrediting to the proponent of such hearsay in situations where it’s important to get the facts correct. In such circumstances of importance, if Bob heard or saw Kim do X, then Bob should be the one giving testimony regarding Kim’s conduct. Instead, if we hear from Bob’s sister that Bob told her that Kim said or did X but Bob is able to testify, the implication is the person offering the testimony of Bob’s sister is afraid of the probable contents of Bob’s testimony because it makes no sense to rely upon a second-hand account of what can be proven by a first-hand account.

      Now, if the people who witnessed President Trump’s actions testified, that’s fine. However, even though a Congressional hearing is not subject to the rules of evidence used in court cases, failure to pursue direct testimony, absent good reason, implies a serious problem.

      1. Angie Neer

        This has been a sad illustration of how the most sensational but least important things dominate our collective attention. I don’t care whether or not Trump actually grabbed the wheel, or attempted to grab, or whatever. The point is that he knew this was a dangerous crowd and he didn’t care as long as they liked him. Also, that the people around him considered him irrational enough that they refused to follow his orders. Neither contention depends on that one incident that she clearly indicated was second-hand. Most of her testimony was about things she observed directly.

  9. JTMcPhee

    A ‘legal coup’ is not a thing? What is it when the state security apparatus gets to dictate political choices that the Founding Documents insist The People decide? Or when billionaires fund a long program that leads to doctrinaire hacks owning the Supreme Court, who go on to make ‘legal’ a lot of coup and coup-adjacent behavior? And it’s not a coup that corporations can legally “convey value” to legislators who, following the winks and nudges, go on to “legitimize” laws that are written by the people whose conduct the “law of the nation” supposedly regulates? Coups can happen suddenly, the coup d’etat or coup de main, or gently, insidiously, the “soft coup.” Those concepts are even in the dictionary, for cliff’s sake. That soft coup can be a frog-boiling exercise, where the grenouille may feel a little uncomfortable but still ends up with little frizzed paper caps on his extremities…

    And by our nation’s lights, the Mardan Government Change of 2014 was all nice and legal, so we could go on doing bidness with the Nazis.

  10. super extra

    > GOP insider talk/midterms/2024

    I consulted my crystal ball* and a vision came to me of how the Democrats will respond to their forthcoming wipeouts: Lava Jato, US-style. Just imagine: the remaining spooks still in office can do a massive limited hangout on the institutionalized corruption to try to take down various GOP lynchpins, redo the Jan 6 hearings on a monthly basis with an ongoing ‘issue’ that doesn’t require a new riot, and can be used to tie the graft with favored international projects. If they do it right they won’t even have to change anything as far as the actual bribery is happening, they can gloss right past how Citizen’s United was implemented and just focus on specific bad actors depending on how the political winds are blowing.

    *: I took the morning off work and repotted the houseplants while listening to dub records

    1. Wukchumni

      I bought a Chinese-made crystal ball @ Wal*Mart and it’s pretty good, but can only predict events a fortnight out.

  11. flora

    re: “Do what now?”:

    dry, very dry. / ;)

    And as for “make it a clear indicate it’s the law of the land…” Indicate? Pass a law and then it IS the law of the land. Indicate? Her next job will be working at Waffle House. / ;)

    1. fresno dan

      I love the Waffle house. Working at the Waffle house would be useful. Maybe every vice president should work at the Waffle house until they are actually needed to replace the president. So, I like my hash browns scattered, smothered, covered, and peppered

      1. super extra

        yeah you gotta have, bare minimum, incredible conflict deescalation skills AND be able to remember 8+ orders at a time AND be able to either carry, cook, or clean up food to work at a Waffle House. I don’t think Kamala has those skills even if she was the DA of SFO or whatever

        1. ambrit

          I read that Kamala was the DA of STFU.
          I mean, even political heavyweights like Thomas Jefferson found the job of being Vice President a hard slog.

          1. super extra

            trying to visualize Kamala doing the hurricane shift at a Waffle House and mind completely blanking. This should be an actual test of our political leaders, the honorary presidential candidate hurricane-style shift on the campaign trail. Use the event to practice emergency preparedness and make the candidate spend some quality time doing a job with and among people from whom he is asking for their vote.

            (For people who don’t know about the hurricane shift, part of Waffle House’s brand is being the first place to reopen after natural disasters like a hurricane, down to “Waffle House Status” being an unofficial indicator of post-disaster severity. People who work at a Waffle House have to come in to work in disaster conditions!)

      2. Wukchumni

        There are no Waffle Houses in Cali, but apparently Fresnans are attempting to lure one to their city by burning butter to give off the same aroma that emanates from Waffle Houses in other states.

          1. skk

            Or Dalda for po’folk. Check out that link to the lrb essay on palm oil a few days back. It was an ubiquitous brand of cheaper veggie fat in India, in my memory in the early 60s onwards.

        1. griffen

          Of all the sights for sore eyes at 2am here in the eastern US, Waffle House is a beacon. Come into these walls, and find comfort in eggs and bacon all ye weary and part sober walking apes.

          I’ve read before their hiring practices are, ahem, fairly broad.

      3. rowlf

        Umm… some Russian adjacent bloggers used to refer to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley as the Rogue Waffle House Waitress when her Syrian policy was different from the White House’s policy.

  12. Turtle

    The collective unmasking madness seems to show that most people are/were so sick of wearing masks that they were just waiting for the green light to ditch them, especially when leaders and media give the impression that things are back to normal. “Personal risk assessment” = “figure it out yourselves” = “let ‘er rip”.

    1. vao

      A few things to observe in the near and middle term that should contribute to confirm or disprove the arguments of that Will Schryver:

      a) Whether countries, beyond the usual customers, start buying Russian military gear (such as the fancy S-[345]00 with assorted missiles) instead of NATO-compatible weaponry, like Turkey, India and Iran did.

      b) Whether countries start sending their officers to study at Russian military academies, or inviting Russian specialists to train their troops.

      c) Whether countries start adopting Russian patterns for their uniforms — the ultimate indicator that a country is the model to emulate (in the past: France, Prussia, UK, and then USA since the cold war).

      1. Polar Socialist

        As a tangent, I have noticed that one side of the conflict is mostly dressed up for military porn sessions – they wear tactical this and tactical that, ballistic sunglasses and all kinds of extra crap attached to their weapon – while the other side (mostly LDNR) goes for the functional basics – flak vest, lots of ammunition, can of water and a weapon or three.

        Since the first side is loosing constantly and the latter is winning, I’ve been wondering if and when this will be reflected in the way the wanna-be-warriors start wearing stuff.

        1. Lex

          Red backpack guy was a cult hero during Mariupol. I believe he was DPR Somali Battalion, who named themselves in comparison with Somali pirates in terms of equipment. It was a kid’s backpack, but looked like it fit snugly and carried just enough stuff. Even if it wasn’t “tactical”.

    2. Andrew Watts

      If I was an officer in the US military I would’ve taken one look at Russia’s logistical struggles in Ukraine and thought “Oh —-, what is Sgt. Bilko actually doing in the motor pool?!”.

      1. Lex

        I don’t doubt they’ve had their struggles, but given the amount of artillery and MLRS rockets they fire every day and have been for months, I think it’s hard to argue they really struggle with logistics. And they’re serious enough about logistics to have dedicated an entire military branch to it. I’d like to see something besides Ukrainian propaganda recycled through the NYT for an argument that RAF logistics were actually problematic.

        1. Andrew Watts

          I don’t think that the Donbass is all that much of a stretch for Russia. In fact I think we’re witnessing the full extent of their military power. Given the location of where they are fighting, where they have historically had to wage war, and the steady military buildup that probably commenced sometime before, during, and after the military exercises that happened prior to the invasion.

          1. Art_DogCT

            I think your reading of the situation is flawed. An equally plausible explanation of the RF strategy and tactics so far in pursuing the SMO, is that they have in fact held the bulk of their resources in reserve, in case the US/NATO loons want to chance total war. Nothing I have read here and from other sources suggests there is any basis for your claim, “we’re witnessing the full extent of their military power”. The most charitable explanation for your position I can think of is that you’ve overdosed on hopium of the type peddled by the Atlanticist cartel.

            1. Andrew Watts

              I have no idea why somebody would think that I’m demeaning the capabilities of the Russian military. They’re firing off tens of thousands of artillery shells per day. How many other countries could do that over the course of weeks? And how much more firepower do you do you think they could sustain?

              Not many, and not much more, I imagine.

      2. Yves Smith

        Huh? Provide evidence. I have yet to see any evidence of problems. Russia has made some tactical retreats, not due to logistics issues, but because their priority is destroying the UAF’s capacity to wage war, not to capture any particular terrain. Today for instance they are perfecting their encirclement of Lysychansk rather than focusing on taking the parts of the city they didn’t already hold. They similarly retreated for a couple of weeks near Kharviv during the famed Ukie counter-offensive, in an area neither regarded as that important due to the small number of troops both sides had there. Russia retook that territory and more and moved to within shelling distance of Kharkiv and has been steadily taking out targets.

        The fact that they are moving systematically with a peace time expeditionary force and still whipping Ukraine’s ass is hardly consistent with an assertion that they are having logistical problems.

        1. Andrew Watts

          Any advancing military is going to outrun their supplies. It’s really a measure of operational success in spite of whatever a journalist believes. Military offensives on a broad front are typically used to relieve supply issues. It ensures that all your troops have a minimum of supply. The Western allies were forced to resort to this after the breakout from Normandy during World War II because they were increasing limited by their lifeline from the beaches. It’s why Operation Market Garden was necessary as well a risk worth taking.

          We haven’t seen the Russians stray too far from the railways outside of the opening stages of the war when they tried that. The real test will be if they move into western Ukraine and/or attempt to capture Odessa to sustain any advance beyond the Dnieper river. Seeing as the Russians, like the Soviets, are primarily dependent on rail traffic to supply their forces there isn’t much of a comparison to be made with the American military. The US military probably wouldn’t be able to fly equipment in contested airspace and they don’t have forces dedicated to the maintenance and protection of railroads.

          Which leaves the success, or failure, in any near-peer competitor war dependent on how much the US forces can move by sea, and by Sgt. Bilko. ‘Cause I’m guessing their pre-positioned supplies won’t last long. They ran out of guided munitions during the anti-IS campaign in Syria/Iraq.

          1. Polar Socialist

            We haven’t seen the Russians stray too far from the railways outside of the opening stages

            That would be difficult given that Ukraine has 6 times the railroad density of Russia. Whether they use railroads or not, they will not be far from railways even if they conquered the whole country.

            We should still remember that most of the actual fighting has been done by the Donbass militias so far. It mostly them fighting Ukrainians house-to-house, street-to-street with some Chechen and special forces thrown in. The Russian ground forces have mostly just kept their positions since March, being rotated back to Russia unit by unit for some R&R and equipment maintenance.

            After the initial 20 miles/day advances we haven’t really seen any huge leaps or blitzes that would have stretched the logistics that much. Also we do have indications that the troop levels involved are not as big as we think they are. For example, the comments of the local DNR commanders from Mariupol revealed that there were about or less than two thousand DNR and Russian troops involved, at least in the final phase.

            Anyway, the point being that while Donbass militias fight on their home turf, most of their stuff is captured from Ukrainians and they still rely on crowdfunding to support the troops with cigarettes, boots, radios and so on. Although I assume Russia is finally supporting them materially.

            1. Andrew Watts

              You’re assuming that the Ukrainians won’t go scorched earth on their railways to buy themselves time to sustain their defense-in-depth strategy. I doubt that Russian ground forces aren’t engaged, but I’m not going to pretend to know.

              Again, the Russians are firing off tens of thousands of shells per day. Artillery shells don’t move themselves. That volume would strain any military in the world. Russia had the advantage of prepositioning their munitions close to the border and transport them over a relatively shorter distance compared to their attempted multi-pronged assault in the beginning stages of the war.

              1. Polar Socialist

                You’re assuming that the Ukrainians won’t go scorched earth on their railways

                Actually I’m not. I only pointed out Ukraine has more railroads than Russia – they’re everywhere – so it would be hard for the Russia not to be close to railroad at any given time.

                On the other hand, we haven’t seen any indications of Ukrainians using scorched earth tactics on railroads so far, even though they have destroyed other civilian infrastructure when forced to retreat. We also know very well, that Ukrainians depend heavily on train transport for their logistics – to the extent that they have loaded weapons and ammunition on civilian trains.

                As for the multi-pronged assault at the beginning of the war, three of the five prongs still exist very much, and two of them are over 100 miles from where they started. So, as you said, they do have to move huge amounts of artillery shells and rockets every day to sustain the levels of fire we’re told about. The fact that they still keep on doing that after 127 days is, to me, proof that Russians can handle the logistics, somehow.

    3. Yves Smith

      Wow, deadly, and does not even deign to mention that Russia is operating v. extremely well bunkered defenders in Donbass.

      Things will go much faster in the next phase due to not having to contend with similar fortifications and having already destroyed so much of Ukraine’s warmaking capability. I have told Lambert that it is conceivable that the army in Donbass could collapse by late July and if so, the taking of Odessa would be more a mopping up operation than a conquest.

      He’s also very persuasive in the importance of US/NATO arrogance. I’ve been struck again and again by the continued depiction of the Russian forces as lousy on various supposed metrics (‘oh, look how long it took them to take Severodonetsk”) in the face of obvious contradictory evidence. This has seemed to go well beyond the need to lie to keep weapons and money to go to Ukraine and to reflect deeply held beliefs: “the Russians have a bad military and so they aren’t performing well.” The level of denial is deeply pathological and it isn’t diminishing.

      Heads are gonna explode if, more likely when, Russia takes the Black Sea coast, which per above, looks likely to happen well before the midterms. It will be hard to deny their success then, although many will keep trying.

      1. Skippy

        Its way worse than any of that YS. Decades of post WWII revisionist history, MIC priming the pump, heaps of back slapping over regime change through military adventurism on 2/3 world countries, painting oneself into the corner on policy anchored in fighting terrorists [aka any one not bending the knee to the new American Century agenda] and low and behold a Real Nation with a long memory and actual military capacity operation on its boarder …

        The best part is they don’t fight according to the rule book the Atlantic Nations have built up in their minds based on what is best for the MIC Mfg share price. Hence the Russians can grind this out at their leisure all whilst the Western PR/propaganda falls apart and wears the consequences of that.

        Then at the end of the day if push came to shove the idea that NATO could deal with Russia and China is just absurd. The leisure class has no bloody clue ….

  13. kareninca

    I have a relative by marriage in Pennsylvania. She is elderly and is a cancer survivor and has been cautious all along. Her daughter and grandkids are visiting from Colorado for the first time in years, and her daughter is trying to do the right thing by getting real covid tests. That is now very hard to do. From her email to me yesterday:

    “Here the rates are low but that is SO SO deceiving. (Daughter) tried to get a drive through Covid test and there are none in PA. In Colorado where she lives the rates are high but that is because testing is so readily available in parking lots. Here, we spent hours calling every pharmacy, health system and PA Department of Health. It is a darn joke as far as I am concerned. Some places for a test, they do not take insurance, they want cash or credit cards. The worst part is that when asymptomatic, you have to expose yourself to Covid by going inside where other Covid patients are being tested. No wonder the rates are low. We were discouraged. I have at home test kits and they were negative but (Daughter) wanted to be doubly safe.”

    This relative of mine is a real believer in Fauci and the medical establishment. She is very frustrated.

    1. RockHard

      That’s a state level thing, she can thank Polis & co. At least in the metro areas of CO, there are lots of options for free drive-thru testing. No appointment and in my experience not much of a wait, although around xmas I did wait an hour for a swab one time.

      Also, they’ve been running mobile vaccine clinics. Those are less common but they send these trucks all over the state, from what I can tell they cover the state pretty thoroughly. I don’t know how well they tie in to public transit, but at that point at least we’re arguing about access and not availability.

  14. kareninca

    Two people in my online worship group caught covid a couple of weeks ago; it was the first time for each. One is a guy in Maine; he is in his late 20s and has no underlying health issues. He was double vaccinated with one booster, but he was really sick for two and a half weeks. He still has fatigue and lingering cough.

    The other is a guy in his mid 70s in WI. He was vaccinated and boosted (I don’t know if single or double booster). He was given Paxlovid due to a health condition, and it seemed to work. But then it rebounded. He said that the rebound was worse than the first part. He looked pretty worn out on zoom last night. He said that he has fatigue and a lingering cough.

    Before about a month ago, I really knew almost no-one who had had covid. Now I know loads of people who do. They are all vaccinated and boosted.

    1. shinola

      IIRC, the covid vax does NOT provide immunity – only a decreased chance of severe illness. Vax’d & boosted people can still carry/spread the virus.

      Wife & I still wear masks in enclosed public places and we are definitely part of a very small minority. This thang ain’t over yet…

      1. Yves Smith

        There’s no lasting immunity to a coronavirus, be it by infection or vax. 6 months is the most you can hope for, and it seems to be way shorter under Omicron and later variants.

    2. Randy

      Saint Fauci is getting hammered by the rebound effect too. How long will it take for the PMC to realize they are subject to the same laws of nature as everyone else? They are biologically no different than the unwashed masses. Some of our rulers need to die to change the remaining rulers belief that they are immune to the consequences of Covid.

  15. Wukchumni

    I played DC Monopoly one time, and only learned after the game was started that Senators and Congresspeople had bought up all the real estate with the exception of the railroads, which frankly nobody wanted and I can’t blame them. The highlight of playing was landing on Chance or Community Chest, or hopefully a jail stint, as you had no opportunity @ landing on a politician’s haunt full of hotels while in the pokey.

  16. jr

    So I had to take a car into the City today for work. I had a really interesting talk with my Nigerian driver:

    – We both agree people are fools to think COVID is over.

    – We both agree that the rich are living off of our backs. Big Pharma was mentioned several times.

    – We both agree the political system is broken.

    – We both agree the $hit is going to hit the fan come fall.

    He said Americans have no idea what it will be like when the power goes out or fresh water isn’t available. He fears the mobs that will form. I mentioned that I’ve armed myself and he laughed. He said he isn’t a gun nut but he has bought an AR-15 and several rounds.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Maybe Krugman will get the same driver someday and he can point out what a downer Nigerian taxi drivers are.

  17. DJG, Reality Czar

    Lambert Strether: Replacing the quotes up top.

    I stole this from a comment by the esteemed Henry Moon Pie and now return it for your consideration:

    People whose power is real fulfill their obligations;
    people whose power is hollow insist on their claims.

    Tao Te Ching #79 (U.K. Le Guin version)

    I also have used this quote for years by Theodor Adorno, which captures the coarse spirit of the last fifty or so years:

    The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labour of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge…[marks] the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power.

    –Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Damaged Life

    And there is always, always, time for the insightful Albert Camus.

    Finally all alone, our achievement is an empire over a desert. We turn our backs on nature. We are ashamed of beauty. Our wretched tragedies have a whiff of the office clinging to them, and the blood that runs from them is the color of printer’s ink.

    –Albert Camus, “Helen’s Exile” (1948)(translation DJG)

    1. Yves Smith

      No Gramsci? Maybe too familiar for your taste:

      The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Maybe those quotes up top could remain the permanent masthead anchor quotes and then a few rotating other quotes installed beneath them.

      Here’s a possible quote from John L. King , author of How To Profit From The Next Great Depression and Chaos In America. ” Him that is not surprised when the future comes, lives very close to the truth.”

  18. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Bezzle

    “I worked my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.” -Groucho Marx

    The fact that Groucho said this in the midst of the Great Depression makes it even more funny.

    1. griffen

      Reminds me of this show that ran a few seasons on HBO, back in like ’06 or ’07…story of two guys from New Zealand who started at the bottom…Flight of the Conchords had some hilarious episodes.


  19. Jason Boxman

    Sigh. I stopped shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond when they killed their lifetime warranty on stuff back in 2016 or 2017 or whatever. I found out when I brought in a pillow that sucked, complete with the original packaging that said lifetime warranty through Bed Bath & Beyond. ($50 pillow!) The manager seemed unhappy about it, but ultimately issued a refund because I had that and the original receipt.

    Oh well.

    1. .human

      They are in the middle of a major remodel, including installing self-checkout lanes that do not accept cash. Cash payments must use the service desk. Connecticut is a Must-Accept-Cash state. Retailers are just shooting themselves in the foot.

      Is Pirate Equity in play at B, B & B?

      1. griffen

        Per the article, an activist investor is involved and had previously recommended the company sell the Buy Buy Baby division. I submit to only seeing the company shares being discussed on a market wrap up show yesterday…where the equity price was falling in after hours.

        Time for a rethink on the master plan. I know, a proposed merger with Peloton; think of the cross selling opportunities. \sarc

  20. ChrisRUEcon


    Looks like Gav’ just said to Californians, “I’ll see that $600 that Biden owes ya, and raise it $450 … “

    Coming in 2024 to Dem Presidential Primary ad near Scranton.

    1. hk

      Except the state of CA bureaucracy is such that it is not very likely that any of that $450 will ever happen (and will take a looong time if it does happen–it certainly won’t happen before 2024.)

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        If your assertion is that this line – “Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic legislative leaders agreed on a $17 billion relief package that includes $9.5 billion in inflation relief funds” – is not yet legally or operationally binding, then fair. However we’ll see about that “certainly won’t happen before 2024”. I mean, he’s totally not thinking about running for president, right?! :)

        1. hk

          We shall see: Newsom made a huge deal about the so-called Golden State stimulus, but actual things unfolded very slowly. It took something like 1.5 years for it to go through (Newsom started making noise very early in the Covid era, but checks didn’t start showing up until more than halfway through 2021–supposedly, checks started going out in June or July, but as far as people we know are concerned, they showed up, IF they did, only in August, conveniently timed with the recall election just about to take place about then.) and, among others, the beneficiaries excluded people who were retired and whose income was limited only social security (among other fine prints) which infuriated my parents who could really use some extra funds. However, he did arrange things so that the checks showed up (for people my parents know at least) a week before the recall election–btw, my parents thought this was such a transparent political stunt (that and the many fine prints) they swore that they’ll never vote Democrat again.

          My sense is that CA Dems, far more than the national Dems, are big (and quick) on words, but very slow in action. (The way Newsom and his people crowed about the stimulus checks for so long but were utterly slow in action was in marked contrast to the feds). People who hear about that don’t have direct experience with it so they dismiss the stories experienced by people on the other end as mere assertions or, at best, anecdotes, and to be fair, who knows how things actually went down across the board for the people who actually received the checks? (Personally, really curious if there was a good survey of the way people, actual recipients of the checks and those who only heard about it, reacted to the so-called Golden State Stimulus.) Most people whom Newsom wants to impress are not Californians, so they have no business gauging whether the checks actually came through or not and only the visuals matter, or at least that’s how Newsom’s people seem to be playing the game. Will it “work”? That would be the great big question.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            Aha! Thanks for the detailed context. I am but a humble agent-provocateur looking for angles to pump up Gav’ in the race to unseat Biden, and put paid to any #HRC presidential intentions in one fell swoop!

            Personally, really curious if there was a good survey of the way people, actual recipients of the checks and those who only heard about it, reacted to the so-called Golden State Stimulus.

            I’ll try to find some info. Sounds like the kind of thing someone in the Cali’ Econ sphere might have researched/written-about.

            Appreciate your perspective.

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        The Newsom Giveaway will be heavily means tested. More than half the state’s population will get little or nothing. And you can be sure that the scammers will make off with a big chunk of the billions allotted.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          > … will be heavily means tested.

          Tell me you’re a Democrat without telling me … :)

          After hk’s comments, I did a little digging, and yeah, lots of people (seniors, veterans etc) PO’d by being left out. Incredible.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      #TheBezzle #Tesla

      We want #JohnnyCab from #TotalRecall!!! LOL (via Youtube)

      Elon said it wouldn’t have a steering wheel or pedals, but he said nothing about a joystick! =-) Hahahaha!

      Johnny Cab’s clever joystick serves both as steering and acceleration/deceleration based on its depiction. If the planned vehicle actually shows up with nothing, then Musk is a bigger tool that we could have all imagined.

  21. Kim

    Bed Bath & Depressionyonder…

    Noticeable lack of traffic in shopping malls and anchor stores are ghosttowns.
    Went into a franchise pizza place at 12:15, five employees, we were the only customers, except for two take out orders. 96 seat place too.

  22. .human

    I don’t know Lambert, but changing your choice of quotes may be a little carnival-ish, not that we aren’t living through a clown show.

    Matt Stoller’s remark from the other day pretty much sums up the past two decades for me:

    “One reason I’m far less agitated by politics is I saw the same hyperventilating crowd ignore Obama actually destroying democracy in 2009-2010 when the public picked him to stop a financial crisis and instead he stopped a New Deal.”

  23. none

    [Musk] reiterated that it wouldn’t have any physical controls for the driver, meaning its launch hinges on the company completing work on its full self-driving stack in the next two years.” • Let me know how that works out.

    The next six months are crucial.

  24. none

    The weird thing is that the stuff Trump is accused of doing is basically what a lot of us were urging Al Gore to do after GW Bush stole the 2000 election. Bill Clinton wanted Gore to do it too, per NYT reporting at the time iirc.

    There is a scene in Fahrenheit 451 where the members of the Congressional Black Caucus go up one by one and object to the counting of the electors on Jan 6 (or the analogous day) in 2001, and VP Gore, presiding over the proceedings, shuts each one of them down. In the movie it is a moment for cheering the CBC and booing Gore. Now it is a coup.

    1. Pat

      And not for nothing, the actions taken after made the vote counts less secure and transparent, no more hanging chads, but with much more dependence on hackable proprietary electronic voting machines. Mind you the actual objections of the CBC were about active voter disenfranchisement, something that Republicans continue apace with token fighting from the Democrats (when they aren’t stealing techniques for their primaries).

      I fully expect this hoopla to have exactly the same level of attempted correction.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Tesla Is Building a Robotaxi Without a Steering Wheel or Pedals by 2024, Musk Says”

    Being in a vehicle built by Tesla which has absolutely no manual backup in case of a major failure? You would be not so much a passenger as “spam in a can.”

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And if you are in a crosswalk when the no-steering-wheel Tesla comes along, you would be not so much a pedestrian as a “deer in the headlights”.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Only good thing is that it would be plain that the passenger could not be charged with hitting a pedestrian as they had no control of the vehicle at all. So who would be charged then? Tesla? The software writers?

  26. Verifyfirst

    Re: “Many votes, few contracts” at Starbucks, I think you mean no contracts. Has Starbucks even recognized a union and commenced bargaining anywhere?

    Sadly, if they have, it will be child’s play for them to run out the one year clock, appearing to bargain, before they organize a decertification vote with all the new employees.

    I would bet there will not be one single Starbucks contract that comes out of this.

  27. Jason Boxman

    News from the local brewery here today; No servers at all, just the kitchen staff mostly. Sign says order food and drinks at the bar. Previously every time I’ve been, there’s been servers, so this is new. About as busy as it usually is, though. Out with COVID? Better paying jobs elsewhere? Location failing? Don’t know. It was the same set of servers for the year I’ve been coming, so they don’t churn staff here.

    A puzzle.

    Stay safe out there!

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Similar experience at a, until recently, fairly popular small Indian restaurant. Saturday night.

      First, no patio service because not enough staff. Ok, only one other table (out of ~30) is occupied, I guess we can sit inside.

      Staff: 1 hostess/server/bartender, usually there are 2 or 3 servers, and a hostess who all shared bar duties.

      Maybe 2 take out orders in the hour+ we were there. Not so long ago, there was a steady stream.

      Wife ordered her favorite drink, “sorry, we don’t make that anymore, we don’t have all the ingredients” .

      Where’s Ted (our favorite server)? “He’s no longer here because he’s only working one job now.”

      The place has great food and friendly efficient staff. A bit more expensive, but not unreasonably so. I feel bad that it seems to be faltering. $6 – 7 gas prices are killing a lot of businesses.

    1. Daryl

      > Less than a week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, President Biden is set to nominate anti-abortion Republican lawyer Chad Meredith to a lifetime federal judgeship in Kentucky, reportedly in exchange for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) “agreeing not to hold up future federal nominations by the Biden White House,” according to the Courier Journal.

      Imagine being Mitch McConnell. You’d think there’s no way I will possibly get away with this, and then you do, every time. Just like Lucy pulling away the football.

      1. super extra

        it is incredible. is he really a master strategian? or are his opponents worthless? maybe someone will write the definitive history book on it assuming our idiot leaders don’t bring on nuclear war

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Or are his “opponents” in public really supporters and comrades and agents in secret?
          Meredith can’t be any more anti-abortion than Clarence Thomas, and Biden worked his hardest to get Thomas on the court. So why is this appointment a surprise?

          I wonder how many, if any at all, young ex-Democrats will vote for Biden in 2024?

    2. Kurtismayfield

      How to say “I really don’t give a *family blog* about abortion rights, I just like to fundraise off it” .. without actually saying it

  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘A fully intact vintage Burger King was found behind a wall at the Concord Mall in Wilmington, DE. This photo was snapped by Jonathon Pruitt April of 2022’

    Kinda like when that woman found that second apartment after she punched a hole on her wall. So here is the thing. This Burger King was hidden & forgotten behind a wall because reasons, right? So who is to say what might be lost & abandoned underground where it has been forgotten.

    1. super extra

      my first thought was of the delightfully weird “recurring dreams about a location that resembles a mall” forum thread from years ago that periodically makes the rounds online

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is someone from the ” TwoXchromosomes ” subreddit describing what perfectly legal action she is going to take to make life a little harder for some small corner of the Conspiracy against Legal Abortion.
    If she is the only one who does it, it is a near-meaningless gesture. If thousands and then millions of people do things like this, it will have some kind of attrititional degradative effect on parts of the AntiAbortion Conspiracy.

    I have to admit that I would never have thought of this. I grew up in a time when politics-within-the-system and electionism were considered effective methods for non-right-wingers to achieve non-right-wing-things. I suspect millions of young people have grown up to think that such a view is cute, quaint , silly and obsolete. They are going to read and study people like John Robb, George Hayduke, “Anonymous” , etc., and they are going to do it the scanner way.

    Here is the link.

    1. Yves Smith

      Since these she recommends using fake identifiers, you don’t have to book in your area. Someone could book with 20 in different states.

  30. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is something from ” White People Twitter” by a cis-man who has downloaded a “period-tracking app” and is going to fill out all the questions so that just in case the “who is pregnant” spies buy all the downloaders of this app from data-brokers, he wants to do his little bit to make their spying job harder by mixing in a little corrupt data.

    Yet more free-lance freely-undertaken “global guerillas” approach to the current trend of events.


    What if thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of people do perfectly non-illegal things like this?
    How much Elmer’s Glue in the gears makes the gears sticky?

  31. LawnDart

    Biden humiliates South Korean president at NATO summit

    US President Joe Biden, 79, took part in the North Atlantic Alliance summit in Madrid, the capital of Spain, where he remained true to himself, distancing himself from what is happening around him.

    The American leader embarrassed the President of South Korea, Yoon Seok-yeol, when he greeted Biden with a smile, and he walked past without paying attention to the outstretched hand. This happened at the moment when everyone gathered for a group picture and called the US president. He walked straight ahead and stared straight ahead, not noticing the friendly gesture of his South Korean colleague.

    Yoon Seok Yeolem, who was embarrassed, took his hand away and smiled to lighten the situation. This moment did not go unnoticed by South Korean TV channels, writes “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”

    The situation with President Yelem was reminiscent of the “ghost” episode, when at one of the briefings, the head of the White House stretched out his hand into the void to greet a person whom, apparently, only he could see.

    Source: Tamara Salakhova, June 30, 2022

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘the head of the White House stretched out his hand into the void to greet a person whom, apparently, only he could see.’

      I think that he was greeting the Ghost of Kiev.

  32. LawnDart

    Joe Biden accidentally called NATO the main threat to itself

    US President Joe Biden made another reservation, saying that NATO threatens itself. The incident occurred during a meeting between the head of the White House and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

    “The bottom line is that together, the alliance threatens our positions,” Biden accidentally said.

    Then the US president was quick to correct himself, noting that the military bloc “is fighting threats and strengthening its position against threats from the East and tests from the South.”

    Biden has repeatedly found himself in awkward situations because of his reservations. He once mispronounced the last name of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, confusing the words “vaccination” and “escalation,” as well as Syria with Libya and Iraq with Iran.

    Source: June 29, 2022: politros[dot]com

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