2:00PM Water Cooler 7/15/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Pacific/Winter Wren, Alberta, Canada. Too short, but by far the most tuneful.

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Secret Service Deleted Jan. 6 Text Messages After Oversight Officials Requested Them” [The Intercept]. “The Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and January 6, 2021, according to a letter given to the January 6 committee and reviewed by The Intercept….. A top Secret Service official allegedly involved in the attempt to spirit away Pence on January 6 remains in a leadership position at the agency. Tony Ornato, a Secret Service agent whom Trump made the unprecedented decision to appoint as his deputy White House chief of staff, reportedly informed Pence’s national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, on January 6 that agents would relocate the vice president to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. ‘You can’t do that, Tony,’ Kellogg reportedly told Ornato. “Leave him where he’s at. He’s got a job to do. I know you guys too well. You’ll fly him to Alaska if you have a chance. Don’t do it.’ (Ornato has denied the account.) Today Ornato serves as the assistant director of the Secret Service’s Office of Training.” • Oh. Commentary:

Biden Administration

“POLITICO Playbook: Manchin delivers ‘crushing blow’ to Dem agenda” [Politico]. “Late Thursday night, Sen. Joe Manchin effectively killed any chance of major climate-related provisions making their way into Democrats’ reconciliation package. The West Virginian told party leaders that ‘he would not support an economic package that contains new spending on climate change or includes new tax increases targeting wealthy Americans or corporations,’ WaPo’s Tony Romm and Jeff Stein were first to report, ‘marking a massive setback for party lawmakers who had hoped to advance a central element of their agenda before the midterm elections this fall.’ What else he said: ‘Manchin told Democratic leaders he was open to changing federal laws that might lower prescription drugs costs for seniors… And the West Virginia moderate expressed support … for extended subsidies that will help keep health insurance costs down for millions of Americans for the next two years…'” • Manchin used to be fine with taxing the rich:

Ah, well. Nevertheless….


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Vote harder:

Does anybody really believe that Tim Ryan won’t be the next revolving villain, even if President Manchin decides to retire and fondle his coal?

FL: “GOP voter edge in Florida keeps growing” [Politico]. “Voter registration numbers overall continue to show that Democrats are getting left far behind. It’s just another data point on why Republicans are supremely confident they will dominate the 2022 elections in a state where President Joe Biden is struggling and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approval numbers remain above water. It was just last fall that Republicans for the first time surged past Democrats in the number of active voters in the state. A ‘milestone moment’ is how one GOP official described it, a byproduct of a sustained effort that had been pushed strongly by DeSantis. The official Division of Elections records show that Republicans hold a nearly 176,000 voter edge over Democrats. That was the number at the end of May. But unofficially it’s now more than 180,000 and it’s expected that Republicans will take their voter registration advantage north of 200,000 this month. Democrats in the past have tried to suggest routine voter list maintenance and switching active to inactive voters is responsible for Republican gains. But the swelling rolls just point to a state that is trending to the GOP, helped in part by people relocating to Florida from other parts of the country. Democrats maintain leads in Florida’s urban counties but they are now trailing independents (voters officially known as “no party affiliation”) in nearly a dozen counties with GOP majorities. DeSantis’ prediction that Florida will no longer be a battleground state after this year’s election is moving closer into view.” • A “sustained effort” to register voters. Since when have Democrats ever been capable of that? (And I’m not talking about some squillionaire throwing some bucks at some NGO to register an identity vertical at election time.)

PA: “Family company of Dr. Oz had largest fine in ICE history” [New York Post]. “A tree-trimming company partly owned by Dr. Oz and his wife Lisa’s family was fined $95 million by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency over a scheme to knowingly employ illegal immigrants. The fine against Asplundh Tree Experts Co. was the largest ever levied in ICE history according to a 2017 agency press release.”• Oops. From February, still germane.


Fetterman is owning Oz on the Twitter, for sure. (See People, “Inside the New Jersey Mansion Dr. Oz and His Wife Lisa Built from Scratch 20 Years Ago.”)

PA: “More than 1 million voters have switched to the GOP over the last year, data show” [Inquirer]. “More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump. But nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs, where well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump’s Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa.” • Hmm.


“Shadow 2024 race: Newsom vs. DeSantis” [Politico]. • This handy chart shows the oligarchy you’d be voting in with Newsom:

I don’t know if there’s an equivalent for DeSantis. Is he too backed by interlocking multigenerational old money?

Republican Funhouse

“The Texas Republican Party platform is official. What it says and what we learned” [Star-Telegram]. “In addition to calling homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice,” the platform opposes same sex marriage. It asserts that Texas retains the right to secede. Delegates voted to replace the property tax system, support school choice and reject “critical race theory” and gun free zones. The platform calls for medical freedom and the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Delegates also rejected “critical race theory” and supported a law “more comprehensive” than the one in Florida that prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity…. ‘This is kind of the gloves off moment for the Republican Party,’ said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor.” The gloves weren’t off already? More: “The platform is also used as a way to push lawmakers further in delegates’ desired direction in a state where a Democrat hasn’t won statewide office since 1994. ‘There will always be Republicans who see … the kind of policies the base wants as being way too far,’ Rottinghaus said. ‘The base, the activists know that they need to set the bar higher so that they can use that as a way to pressure those leaders to steadily move in that direction.'” • What a concept!

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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“‘A real chilling effect’: A Lefty Scholar is Dumping CAP — For AEI” [Politico]. Ruy Teixeira: “‘My perspective is, the single most important thing to focus on in the social system is the economic system,’ he tells me. ‘It’s class.’ We’re sitting in AEI’s elegantly furnished library. Down the hall, there’s a boisterous event celebrating the conservative intellectual Harvey Mansfield. William Kristol, clad in a suit, has just left the room. Teixeira’s untucked shirt and sneakers aren’t the only thing that seems out of place. ‘I’m just a social democrat, man. Trying to make the world a better place.’ How Teixeira came to be talking about the essentiality of class politics while sitting a few feet from a stack of books by Lynne Cheney says a great deal about the state of the American left, where the 70-year-old researcher felt alienated — and about the American right, where a once-dominant think tank that fell afoul of Trump die-hards has brought him aboard. To hear Teixeira tell it, CAP, and the rest of Washington’s institution-based left, stopped being a place where he could do the work he wanted. The reason, he says, is that the relentless focus on race, gender, and identity in historically liberal foundations and think tanks has made it hard to do work that looks at society through other prisms. It also makes people nervous about projects that could be accused of giving short shrift to anti-racism efforts. ‘I would say that anybody who has a fundamentally class-oriented perspective, who thinks that’s a more important lens and doesn’t assume that any disparity is automatically a lens of racism or sexism or what have you … I think that perspective is not congenial in most left institutions,’ he says.” • I know this is a lonely battle, but there’s no such thing as a left that doens’t put class first. That Teixeira thinks, apparently, that he was doing that all along…. well, irony abounds. Commentary:


Realignment and Legitimacy

“Pushed To The Brink” [Jesse & Tyrel Ventura, Die First Then Quit]. “From the Police, to the Supreme Court, to Congress, across the board U.S. citizens are losing faith in our vital institutions in record numbers. Notably, the biggest drops in citizen confidence from last year to this year were found in the institutions of the Presidency and the U.S. Supreme Court. They both fell 15 and 11 percent, respectively. This doesn’t come as a surprise given how feckless the Biden Administration has been when faced with the major political, economical, and social challenges we’ve seen over the last year. Rising inflation, Roe v. Wade, Climate Change… just vote harder…. This nose dive cuts across all party lines as well…. How much farther can we fall or maybe the better question is what happens to a populace that loses all faith in its institutions? The answer to that maybe found in a recent polling data collected by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, which discovered that a majority of American’s believe their government is corrupt and rigged against them. Pigging backing on that, the data also revealed that ‘more than one in four Americans are so alienated from their government that they believe it may ‘soon be necessary to take up arms’ against it.’ One in four Americans. That’s a truly frightening statistic. That should make anyone’s blood run cold after reading it. Violent revolution is not the answer. Any student of history will tell you that a political revolution based on violence hardly ever brings actual freedom to a country.” • 1789? 1776?

“Why Crime Is Scarier Now” [Peggy Noonan]. On cops: “We respect the blue here but I am increasingly disturbed by what I see of policing in America. Since the most recent mass shootings I am thinking of how much it has changed in my lifetime. Cops used to be guys in a blue cotton uniform with a holster and gun. Now they’re like bulked-up 1990s cartoon superheroes—militarized, mechanized, armored up, heavy helmets and vests, all the gear and equipment, the long guns and trucks like tanks. They swarm in like an army—so many of them!—and there’s something muscle-bound about it, heavy on form and rules and by the book. But who wrote this book? The cops of the ’70s—they shot the bad guy. Cops now bark into communications systems and coordinate and tell civilians to leave the area. And none of it seems more effective than in the past but less. A report from Texas State University on the missed opportunities at Uvalde notes that a policeman had a bead on the shooter early on and from far away, asked his supervisor for permission to take the shot and didn’t get a response. And so the murderer got into the classroom with the kids. The report also said the cops should have gone in through the windows. You read and you think: Guys, this isn’t working. You have got to rethink how you operate…. They’re sure good at word-saving. They’re immediate with their eloquence—Our hearts are broken; these were our mothers and daughters—but their excellence and effectiveness are less apparent. I don’t think people trust them as much as they used to, and this is separate and distinct from the damaging racial charges of recent years…. It isn’t good. And if I’m seeing it, others are.” • When you’ve lost Peggy Noonan….

“America’s crisis-industrial complex” [The New Statesman]. The headline is deceptive; this is really about the possibility of civil war in the United States. “We might characterise the last two and half decades in the world’s most affluent states – and the US in particular – as a period of crisis compression and rising fatalism. The onset of the millennium did not bring about the apocalypse foretold by Y2K fantasists, but yielded instead to slow rolling catastrophe with endemic features. We are people stalked by periodic financial collapse, destructive weather events, immanent civic violence and airborne death. Region-wasting hurricanes, tsunamis and wildfires are the backdrop to daily life on our warming planet. Riotous mass protests against governing authority expose the illegitimate face of ostensibly democratic forms of rule. Americans who learned to bowl alone, faced rising mid-life mortality, self-medicated with opioids, got locked up and gunned down in the old de-industrialised urban core, struggled to make rent, stockpiled guns, trolled for the next Columbine, Sandy Hook or Uvalde in the suburbs and hinterlands, in turn conjured Trump as a kind of perverse mirror. The promise to ‘Make America Great Again’, unlike Obama’s enjoining ‘Hope and Change’, or even Bush’s dream of ‘A New American Century’, represented a conscious involution – a not entirely inadvertent mockery of the pretensions of those prior idealistic schemes, confirmation that the liberal patrimony has been spent. It is the darkness of this vision that has given rise to a cottage industry of criers warning of impending civil war.”

“The Time for Leftist Extralegal Action Has Finally Come” [Freddie deBoer]. “[W]ith the death of Roe, the time has finally come when people on the left can and will really do something, in that they will work outside of the law to provide abortion services to women who live in places where that service is illegal. I imagine this will mostly involve getting women into pro-choice states to get the procedure, which may not necessarily be criminal – although you can certainly imagine anti-abortion states drawing up draconian laws to punish women who leave the state to secure an abortion. Sometimes, I think there will be clandestine abortions performed in states where both mothers and providers risk arrest…. Either way, helping women terminate unwanted pregnancies that the state would compel them to bring to term represents real, effective direct action. It will be an Underground Railroad for abortion….. Key to understanding this moment is to recognize that providing abortion services in contravention of the law is not politics. It’s not an action designed to change minds. There’s no future election or coalition-building that it’s attempting to influence. Success is not dependent on being popular; success is simply the termination of unwanted pregnancies. It’s direct action in the purest form. It’s not civil disobedience in the sense of breaking the law to show the injustice of the law, not ‘bearing witness,’ not a demonstration of rage or of strength, not an appeal to the voters. The procedures themselves are the goal and the point.” • It is, in other words, not performative.

“Sen. Josh Hawley predicts the overturning of Roe v. Wade will cause a ‘major sorting out across the country’ and allow the GOP to ‘extend their strength in the Electoral College'” [Business Insider]. From late June, still germane: “‘I really do think that this is going to be a watershed moment in American politics,’ [Hawley] said on a call with reporters on Friday. ‘The first decision — the 1973 Roe decision — fundamentally reshaped American politics, it ushered in the rise of the Christian conservative movement, it led to the forming of what became the Reagan coalition in 1980.'” • This sounds like a myth of origin. I am not at all conversant with movement conservatism in the 1970s and 1980s. Readers, is this myth true?


Maskstravaganza: “Masks matter for more than mandates” [Virology Down Under]. This article makes the necessity for layered protection (“Swiss Cheese Model”) crystal clear. Given that “the dose makes the poison,” any measure that decreases virus particles inhaled is good, so combine them. “The amount of virus that is required to create a detectable infection that leads to disease is the minimum infectious dose. Nonhuman primate studies have reported between 10s of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles required for the body to recognise infection (mount an immune response) to 100s of viral particles for the body to develop a fever in response to an infection after being inhaled. A virus gaining a successful foothold and going on to replicate and cause disease is related to the size of the dose. Dose can be affected by the length of exposure to an infected source, the proximity to that source and how much virus the source is emitting…. Vaccination also has a role in reducing viral loads for some weeks after vaccination.[18,20,29] We know that when a breakthrough infection does occur – that is, infection of a vaccinated person – the amount of virus present in the newly infected but vaccinated person doesn’t really differ from the amount in an unvaccinated infected person.[18,19] Breakthrough infections are likely to lead to infectious infections. So, as others have said, we need more than a vaccine-only strategy to reduce the likelihood of transmitting an infectious dose of SARS-CoV-2 (or influenza virus, or respiratory syncytial virus, or a rhinovirus…)” • Well worth reading in full. This comment was interesting: “Perfect mask wearing has given me grim amusement to being as effective as those pushing abstinence. If done properly, it’ll work. Unfortunately, the mind is weak.” However, as the AIDS crisis teaches us, the proper comparison is not abstinence, but condoms which, though imperfect, still offer protection. So the commenter’s jouissance of “grim amusement” is misplaced.

Maskstravaganza: “Association between School Mask Mandates and SARS-CoV-2 Student Infections: Evidence from a Natural Experiment of Neighboring K-12 Districts in North Dakota” (preprint) [Research Square]. “Our study took advantage of a unique natural experiment of two adjacent K-12 school districts in Fargo, North Dakota, one which had a mask mandate and one which did not in the fall of the 2021-2022 academic year. In the winter, both districts adopted a masks-optional policy allowing for a partial crossover study design. We observed no significant difference between student case rates while the districts had differing masking policies (IRR 0.99; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.07) nor while they had the same mask policies (IRR 1.04; 95% CI: 0.92 to 1.16). The IRRs across the two periods were also not significantly different (p = 0.40). Our findings contribute to a growing body of literature which suggests school-based mask mandates have limited to no impact on the case rates of COVID-19 among K-12 students.” • Hmm.

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“Pandemic Nihilism” (07/14/22) (podcast) [Death Panel]. “We discuss a new refrain that pushing for a return of pandemic mitigations is ‘moralizing even as the BA.5 wave takes hold.” • Excellent podcast, always worth a listen.

“The impact of Long COVID on the UK workforce” [Applied Economics Letters]. “COVID-19 is more likely to lead to Long COVID among persons of working age. We outline the first estimates of the impact of Long Covid on employment in the UK. Using estimates of cumulative prevalence of Long COVID, activity-limiting Long COVID in the working-age population and of economic inactivity and job loss resulting from Long COVID, we provide evidence of the profound impact of Long COVID on national labour supply. Since the start of the pandemic, cumulatively 2.9 million people of working age (7% of the total) in the UK have had, or still have, Long COVID. This figure will continue to rise due to very high infection rates in the Omicron wave. Since the beginning of the pandemic, economic inactivity due to long-term sickness has risen by 120,900 among the working-age population, fuelling the UK’s current labour shortage. An estimated 80,000 people have left employment due to Long COVID.”

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

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Lambert here: The CDC site was down today, so the only CDC data that’s updated came in good ol’ reliable PDF form from healthdata.gov.

How am I supposed to perform my personal risk assessment properly when the putatively most authoritative source of data is down?

And speaking of the CDC:

Eric Feigl-Ding is a far nicer and more tolerant person that I am. I don’t “love the CDC” at all.

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

It’s starting to feel like the train is rolling. Let’s see what next week brings. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. Under the hood the BA.4/BA.5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~137,000. Today, it’s ~125,200 and 125,200 * 6 = a Biden line at 751,200 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have 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.

Regional case count for four weeks:

Now the South and West.

The South:

Florida and Texas, now neck and neck.

The West:

Looks like Washington decided not to join the party after all, which accounts for most of the national decline. So, bad data as I speculated.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

3.0%, back to single digits. (I wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe, correctly, that it’s more likely they will be infected.) What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.


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.

WEBSITE DOWN 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. For June 30 – July 6:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a not-over pandemic.

Lambert here: After the move from the CDC to the laughingly named ‘https://healthdata.gov,” this notice appeared: “Effective June 22, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.” So now the administration has belatedly come to the realization that we’re in a BA.5 surge, and yet essential data for making our personal risk assessment is only available twice a week. What’s the over/under on whether they actually deliver tomorrow?

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 7:

Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Alabama, Illinois all better. California better, oddlly. I don’t like those little pink speckles in New York, because the Northeast has been quiet for some time (note slight rise in case data). What’s that all about

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 7:

Very volatile. Haven’t seen so little green (good) in quite some time.


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 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].

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 30:

WEBSITE DOWN Variant data, national (CDC), June 25:

BA.5 moving along nicely.

• “Why the Omicron offshoot BA.5 is a big deal” [CNN]. “After the Omicron tidal wave washed over the United States in January and the smaller rise in cases in the spring caused by the BA.2 subvariant, it might have seemed like the coronavirus could be ignored for a while. After all, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in December that nearly all Americans had been vaccinated or have antibodies from a past infection. Surely all that immunity bought some breathing room. But suddenly, many people who had recovered from Covid-19 as recently as March or April found themselves exhausted, coughing and staring at two red lines on a rapid test. How could this be happening again — and so soon? The culprit this time is yet another Omicron offshoot, BA.5. It has three key mutations in its spike protein that make it both better at infecting our cells and more adept at slipping past our immune defenses.

In just over two months, BA.5 outcompeted its predecessors to become the dominant cause of Covid-19 in the United States.” • Hard to believe that CDC could be outmaneuvered, but here we are.


WEBSITE DOWN Wastewater data (CDC), Jun 25, 2022 – Jul 09, 2022:

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


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,048,232 1,047,794. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The New York Empire State Manufacturing Index rose to 11.1 in July of 2022 from -1.2 in June, the highest in three months and beating market expectations of -2. New orders increased marginally, and shipments expanded significantly. Unfilled orders edged lower for a second consecutive month. Delivery times lengthened at the slowest pace in months, and inventories picked up. Labor market indicators pointed to a solid increase in employment and a slightly longer average workweek. While still elevated, both the prices paid and prices received indexes moved significantly lower, pointing to a deceleration in price increases. Firms turned pessimistic about the six-month outlook, a rare occurrence in the survey’s history.”

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The Bezzle: “Moneylike” [Cory Doctorow, Cory Doctorow]. Doctorow embraces MMT (though not Hudson on the origin of money). “For example, it explains why Web3 — notionally a project to remake the web without Big Tech chokepoints — is so closely associated with cryptocurrency. It’s not just the ideological notion that if we paid for things, companies would abandon surveillance and sensationalism (a dubious proposition!), it’s the idea that the internet could be remade as something that can only be used by people who have cryptocurrency tokens. The internet is not a luxury, it’s a necessity, as the pandemic and the lockdown proved. Without the internet, you are cut off from family life, healthcare, employment, leisure, access to government services, political discourse, civic life, and romance. Those are all things you need, not just things you want. If you need cryptocurrency to access these services on a replacement, transactional internet built on the blockchain, then you will do work and sell goods in exchange for cryptocurrency tokens. They will become the new hut-tax, and the fact that everyone who wants the things the internet provides has to trade work or goods for cryptos will make cryptos very moneylike.”

The Bezzle:

“Rekt”? Wasn’t that always the endgame?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 27 Fear (previous close: 23 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 29 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 15 at 2:17 PM EDT.

Class Warfare

“The hidden costs of the middleman economy” [Strategy+Business]. “The costs of middlemen are multiplying, and appearing in places where we might not expect, including higher fees paid to realtors for house sales. But for [author Kathryn] Judge, costs go beyond mere economic hazards and represent an artificial intermediary that diminishes the integrity of direct exchange. In more forceful passages, she charges the most dominant intermediaries with contributing to loneliness, isolation, and lack of ‘human flourishing’ around the world. … Ultimately, the reader is challenged to consider the human values that direct purchasing can provide. Judge offers numerous examples of ways that consumers can buy directly from local institutions and boutique ventures (consider your local bookseller!). She believes that direct exchange fosters connection and community while promoting a more just, resilient, and accountable economic system, and she shares tangible steps toward realizing this vision. Direct is a charming reminder of the hidden costs that are often bundled into small gains, and the human benefits made possible when buying locally.” I’m not sure what The Bearded Onewhoul have to say about “the integrity of direct exchange.” I grant one can have markets without capitalism, but is this really nostalgia for social relations under industrial, as opposed to financial, capitalism?

News of the Wired

“Auditors Cheating on Ethics Exams – Who’s Surprised?” [The Dig]. “Drawing on a career filled with scrutiny of financial and professional break-down and misfeasance, I teach a course in business and law schools that explores the reasons for bad decisions and behaviors. There is a core theme in the shortcomings of the supposed ‘smart guys’ — whether during the credit crisis of 2007-2008, the halting and inconsistent reactions to the COVID pandemic, the recurrent scandals from Enron to Wirecard, or the persistent outbreaks — that, every time, trigger the familiar cry, ‘Where were the auditors?’ Namely, as fallible humans, all of us are prone to the quick and instinctive decisions that activated ‘fight or flight’ for our primitive ancestors whose DNA we inherit. It was good enough to safeguard a prehistoric tribe, but ill-suited to the complexities of modern life where, through bias and error, we are led to undesirable judgments and decisions….. The accounting profession has contributed to a public expectation of auditor performance that exceeds its failure-avoidance capabilities, eliding the inevitable break-downs that inhere in any complex system of human design and operation. As context for this latest outbreak of test-cheating, the entire model for financial information assurance, designed in the Victorian era and largely unevolved since, has yet to recognize and apply a half-century of insightful scholarship into the complexities of human behavior…. This counsels neither cynicism nor despair. Instead it’s a challenge that calls for strategies that are better informed and designed.” • Hmm. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From RH:

RH writes: “Blackberry blossoms.”

* * *

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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. Wukchumni

    “Inside the New Jersey Mansion Dr. Oz and His Wife Lisa Built from TV Scratch 20 Years Ago.”

    There, that fits better.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    ” is this myth true?”

    The New International Version, Evangelicalism’s Bible, was first copyrighted in 1973. Before it was copyrighted, Evangelical scholars had worked for a few years to engineer a new interpretation of a key Exodus passage to undermine the argument that the Hebrew Bible’s stance on the status of the fetus is rather non-committal.

    Hawley’s claimed “reaction” to Roe was being developed years in advance.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Evangelical scholars had worked for a few years to engineer a new interpretation of a key Exodus passage

      Fascinating. I’d like to know more. What was the passage, and do you have a link?

  3. jo6pac

    I’m so happy potus muckin is saving the countries corp. and rich from paying taxes. He saved the demodogs from doing anything to help us on Main Street and takes all the heat of demodogs. I’m sure chuckie s. and demo friends are happy also they can whine while still serving their puppet masters. What’s not to like.

    In other news the other potus is hang out the head choppers.

  4. Wukchumni

    Uber has been a disaster, the proles taking pole position have earned about bupkis and it forced lotsa taxi operations out of business, whereas AirBnB has been one heck of a windfall for those renting out garage mahals, and it certainly hasn’t hurt the hotel/motel business, many of which have upped their price to be in accordance with the new normal.

    That said, a pox on would-be Hiltons renting out their abodes cheek by jowl next to locals who are sick and tired of the endless parade of strangers in their midst.


    It didn’t replace anything…

    1. digi_owl

      It is funny how much this “gig economy” relies on turning a virtue, car pooling in the case of Uber, into a for profit pyramid scheme.

      The Uber example is particularly annoying, because of all the people, most of them young and highly educated (get of my lawn, heh), would champion it because it “disrupted” a “corrupt and ossified” system. All because they were tired of waiting for a cab during peak hours, and caring nothing for the history of the existing system.

      And that last bit is perhaps the most annoying thing these days. Sadly the modern school system has turned history into a game of memorizing dates and names, rather than digging into the whys. And asking “why” is the most powerful thing we humans do. but rather than nourish it, we choke it off early and forcefully.

      1. hunkerdown

        The American educational model was designed from the beginning to create exactly the numb industrial cogs it is creating, just as the Prussian model that informed it. If the aim were, in fact, to create people who interpret and construct the world independently as well as interdependently, we’d be celebrating Francisco Ferrer’s Modern School rather than Horace Mann.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I think that a main aim of that system was to turn good paying jobs into ones that are unstable and precarious. So you turn taxi-drivers into gig drivers who are constantly on the financial edge. Same with hotel workers and AirBnB .

      3. Objective Ace

        Being one of those who — while not quite young anymore — was young when Uber first came about, the “history of the existing system” sucked. I remember calling a cab friday or saturday night to go to the bars after “pre gaming”, waiting hours, and never having it show. Or schedule a cab pickup at 5 am to take me to the airport.. only to have it not show and miss my flight.

        Taxi companies had a monopoly on the system and abused it. Uber is no saint, but taxi companies rested on their laurels and were due for a change. It now appears that Uber has a monopoly and is abusing it. I cant say which is a worse system, but neither were ideal

        1. eg

          “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > funny how much this “gig economy” relies on turning a virtue… into a for profit pyramid scheme.

        Every human interaction should be mediated through a rentier; that’s the endpoint. In my limited understanding, that’s what web3 (and its concomitant “decentralization” is all about).

        1. Skippy

          Its just endless EMH proselytizing so the shareholders can make more unearned money and cram the rest of humanity into the pit so the masters feel good about themselves …

          Its all about them feeling good you know … were would we all be if they had a sad …

  5. FlyoverBoy

    “‘I really do think that this is going to be a watershed moment in American politics,’ [Hawley] said on a call with reporters on Friday. ‘The first decision — the 1973 Roe decision — fundamentally reshaped American politics, it ushered in the rise of the Christian conservative movement, it led to the forming of what became the Reagan coalition in 1980.’” • This sounds like a myth of origin.”

    Yes, it is a myth. In fact, Republican strategist Paul Weyrich grab-bagged abortion from a list of issues that also included the ERA and others in 1974, in a top-down strategy to forge an alliance between the Republican Party and evangelical kingpins so that government aid could be legalized for church-owned properties like Bob Jones University that ran afoul of racial discrimination laws. Women were just collateral damage to collect votes. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/religious-right-real-origins-107133/

    1. digi_owl

      Yeah i seem to recall reading that Reagan was the first time a bunch of congregations voted. Before then the opinion of their preachers and elders was that they should stay out of worldly politics, and wait quietly for the return of the lord Jesus.

    2. Carolinian

      I suspect your version is also a bit of a spin. The kooky Bob Jones–in my neck of the woods–is not that big a deal, then or especially now.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > government aid could be legalized for church-owned properties like Bob Jones University

        I would imagine giving public money to Christianist schools through the charter “movement” at the local level was far more important to them in any case.

        1. timotheus

          Which were at least as important as whites-only academies as for the religious content. Abortion gave the GOP an issue linking the anti-integrationists to a mass movement that didn’t look overtly racist.

    3. marym

      Thanks for the link.

      The author also published a book on this topic last year. Bad Faith – Race and the Rise of the Religious Right

      Another perspective on capitalism and the origins of the religious right:

      “One Nation Under God “argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when businessmen enlisted religious activists in their fight against FDR’s New Deal. Corporations from General Motors to Hilton Hotels bankrolled conservative clergymen, encouraging them to attack the New Deal as a program of “pagan statism” that perverted the central principle of Christianity: the sanctity and salvation of the individual.”

      1. John

        In other words they were using the preachers and cared not a whit. How was that diffeent from the selection of abortion as an issue to galvanize the churches on behalf of the republican party. The hypocrites have taken over everything.

          1. Skippy

            Verses always need context – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+23&version=NIV

            “16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.”

    4. Big River Bandido

      1980 was a big win for Republicans at the presidential level, but the big coup was in the 1978 midterm elections, where they made huge gains in both state and federal legislatures. In most cases they did not win outright control of chambers…but enough to co-opt conservative Democrats on key parts of the Republican agenda — which was actually mostly economic and tax-related.

    5. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. frelling weyrich.
      abortion was one of the things written on a napkin in the lobby of the st louis hojo…searching for a way to mobilise that stay-behind army and get them riled enough to re-enter politics.
      the fundy/evange cohort had been largely a-political since the scopes monkey trial…the corporate driven antinewdealism never really took off because of that incident and being made into national jokes.
      but with abortion…as well as gunz, racialism, and the spectacle of the 60’s…and the malaise of the 70’s…they had a bunch of flags to wave.
      “Deus Volt!”

  6. Samuel Conner

    I wonder if “Long COVIDian” will become an identity that is regarded to be legitimate among the present-day Left. Perhaps that’s a common identity that could re-unite us. /s

  7. Lee

    A New COVID Wave Is Here, Raising The Risk Of Reinfections (17.24 minutes) Science Friday

    “Coronavirus is surging again in the United States. The latest sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 are now dominant. Right now, things are feeling a little different: People who were recently sick are getting reinfected. And those who have so far evaded the virus are getting it for the first time.

    Ira is joined by Katelyn Jetelina, adjunct professor at UTHealth School of Public Health and author of the newsletter, Your Local Epidemiologist and Jessica Malaty Rivera, epidemiology fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and senior advisor at the Pandemic Prevention Institute to debunk the latest pandemic misinformation and update us on the current state of the virus.”

    Much in line with thinking here at NC, including a swipe at the CDC.

  8. dave

    My social media is filled with friends urging each other to vote harder. As if there won’t be a new Manchin/Sinema/Lieberman/etc. to pop up and take it all away.

    I think of the quote from Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men:
    “If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?”

    1. Bart Hansen

      “If God meant to intrude in the degeneracy of mankind would he not have done so by now?”
      – Blood Meridian

      God never dropped the mic, they never picked it up.

    2. Petter

      Men have in their minds a picture of how the world will be. How they will be in that world. The world may be many different ways for them but there is one world that will never be and that is the world they dream of.
      Cities of the Plain – Cormac McCarthy

      1. John

        The world, the cosmos, is what it is and it pays no attention to our squabbles or anything else that we do.

    1. Judith

      I lived in the Pacific Northwest for too short a period of time. When I first arrived, I noticed signs along the road saying something to the effect “We will get rid of your blackberries so that they never return.” I could not understand why anyone would want to get rid of blackberries. Then I found out in my new back yard. They grew five feet overnight, and never stopped. Thick canes requiring serious hacking tools. Got a fat old thorn stuck in my upper lip one time when I was clearing the growth. Not fun. I don’t even like blackberries that much.

      1. Wukchumni

        There’s a few mile stretch along Mineral King road that’s full of Himalayan blackberries and they’ll be ripe in a few weeks, and a standard deviation includes picking a ziplock sandwich sized bag full and then going to the Silver City Resort and getting a bowl of vanilla ice cream and mixing them in, yum.

      2. jr

        They grow wild in Pennsylvania. Delicious but I don’t recommend riding a sled into a tangle of them at full speed. I still wince when I think back on it.

      3. Laughingsong

        Agreed. It’s a warrior plant that’s expert at taking and holding territory. Its bribe of berries won’t work with me.

        Crafty too: when it became obvious that I wouldn’t take the bribe it started trying to hide inside the climbing roses. Grr

      4. Late Introvert

        Blackberry Jam is to die for, and not hard to make if you have freezer space. It reduces all of the seeds to a pleasant crunch and the sweet and musty flavor! Black food, yum (really dark purple). Free food, also, you can always sign me up for that.

        They grow wild in Iowa and all we have to do is trim them back as they die off and watch them sprout up somewhere else in our yard. No need for full sun or well drained soil either, super hardy.

        I’ll take a photo when they are ripe, they are also blooming here.

      5. JeffML

        I have a vacant lot behind me full of them. i found that cedar boughs placed on top foil their flagitious plans for about two years.

        Dried and rotting cedar branches aren’t terribly attractive, though they don’t grow five feet in a day. I leave hops and morning glory for that job.

  9. Carolinian

    Asplundh does the trimming for our local power company, Duke Energy. So they are a big national outfit.

    Should say that more than a majority of the workers around here doing construction or tree trimming are probably Hispanic.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Asplundh also does the tree trimming for Alabama Power and we’ve just been notified that they are coming around in the next few weeks.

      Last time they were here, all of the workers were Hispanic and only the supervisor spoke English, and that not very well.

      I have a magnolia tree that has a set of wires going right through the middle of it, so they have to cut a deep V-shape through the center of the tree. It’s turned what should be a 40 foot cone shaped tree into a 20 foot apple shaped three with no central trunk above ten feet. I have to keep asking them to cut only the bare minimum to keep their bosses happy. I hate it.

  10. t

    From that study, “growing body of scientific literature and should be taken into consideration and weighed with the harms and discomfort of masking in the educational setting” hmmmm indeed.
    Harms? What harms?
    And if “discomfort” is worthy of study, then we need better bras and also pockets for women’s pants and skirts.

  11. Laughingsong

    “Why Crime Is Scarier Now” [Peggy Noonan]. On cops: “We respect the blue here but I am increasingly disturbed by what I see of policing in America”

    Ahem, she can thank her idol Reagan and his tough-on-crime policies, that’s at least where it started. I haven’t finished the article but a search turns up no mention of him or the words “administration”, “Reagan”, “tough”, or “policies”

    1. Laughingsong

      Okay now that I have actually read it, she torques me even more. I too usually enjoy her but she seems to believe that a bunch of recent badness happened in a vacuum and doesn’t want to acknowledge where these things may have started.

      For example: “. . . what you see on the street and in the news tells you that more than in the past we’re at the mercy of the seriously mentally ill.” Cha Nooners, and who was it that started the closure of the mental institutions? Hint: it was something he first started as governor of California. Ahem.

      Then there’s this: “You are free to be your own strange self; all have a right to privacy; we don’t judge or interfere. But of course we are all part of something larger called society”

      Um, according to your hero’s UK fellow traveler, there’s no such thing.

      There were plenty of warnings about what all of these policies and ideologies could lead to, but they were ignored and denigrated. And here we are, with an erstwhile proponent wondering how it all came to be. This is how we as a collective don’t learn from the mistakes I guess. Nooners is not alone, nor are the conservatives.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It doesn’t matter how Nooners reached her conclusion (and at this point Nooners is Nooners and there’s no point wishing she were what she is not).

        What is interesting is this:

        Guys, this isn’t working. You have got to rethink how you operate…. They’re sure good at word-saving. They’re immediate with their eloquence—Our hearts are broken; these were our mothers and daughters—but their excellence and effectiveness are less apparent…. And if I’m seeing it, others are.

        From an old-brandy Republican like Nooners, that’s remarkable. (Her solutions will probably be awful, but her perceptions are sharp.) And give me this, any day, over Democrats kneeling in kente cloth one day, and throwing more money at cops the next (while simultaneously hippie-punching, a neat trick).

        1. Skippy

          Nooners is just crying in her beer … a beer she had a lot to do with in pouring for everyone else whilst sitting on her moralistic perch and making good packet for peddling her betters agenda/s. Even more egregious is its just a massive CWA excessive so she can keep on bloviating …

          Have we all forgotten the classic “it would be irresponsible to not speculate” free market survival of the fittest memes …

          Bill O’Reilly [no spin] in a skirt … sigh …

          Anywho … “I found it interesting when, on Tuesday, Mr. Bush told European leaders that the terrorists are trying to get their hands on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons to use against the West, though I did not understand why he said “are trying to,” as opposed to “have acquired and are attempting to acquire.” Some accused him of scare-mongering, but he was not. He was underscoring the obvious. And underscoring the obvious is a good thing to do when the obvious is not obvious to everyone.”


    2. Big River Bandido

      It actually started earlier but you aren’t far off. Nixon originated the “law and order” and “tough on crime” campaigns; Reagan just dusted them off.

      1. Laughingsong

        Agreed, I think it’s because the results really started to be obvious during Reagan. And I believe that the police militarization plan (the 1033 program) started during the first Bush.

        Continuity baby!

      2. Duke of Prunes

        Don’t forget Slick Willy’s crime bill… strong armed through the Senate by none other than Joe Biden. Out of the asylums and into the for-profit prisons.

      3. The Rev Kev

        But it was old Joe’s Crime Bill in the 90s that really ramped things up and helped the prison industry become powerful. To this day I think that he is still proud it, even though by rights his kid should be in the slammer.

      4. Tom Stone

        The Organized Crime and Safe Streets Act” of 1968 introduced RICO and the beginnings of today’s asset forfeiture programs.
        $4,000,000,000 a year,more or less.
        However with a Domestic Terrorism bill the upside is almost unlimited.

    3. jr

      She’s “increasingly disturbed”? The simultaneous militarization and crapification of law enforcement has been going on for decades now. Not to mention the wanton lawlessness. This has to be willful ignorance on Nooner’s part. Someone should let her know about the crisis in healthcare and the rampant homelessness as well.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Someone should let her know about the crisis

        Nooners lives on a very high mountain. So it’s an interesting data point that the waves have risen to the point where she’s noticed them.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I guess there’s a lot of Nations that kill their profits and go all Pharisee…

        I don’t have Wuk’s facility lyrics, but I’m hearing something like “Pharisee” rhyming with “as far as I can see”….

  12. Solarjay


    So I am supposed to believe that manchin changing his mind at the last minute again( what 3,4th time?) is a surprise?

    Or is it that the dem leadership is that incompetent?

    Or is it that they ( dem leadership)are playing us as stupid suckers who can’t figure out what’s going on, or who’s to blame?

    Maybe we had it all backwards, because we keep thinking that leadership was trying to pass this when actually they were just setting it all up for failure. Manchin is the fall guy, but what did the Dems give him to do it?

    I’m going with the last one.

    1. Nikkikat

      I thought the same thing about as you say Manchin changing his mind for the 3rd or 4th time. And blowing up what ever new portion of Biden’s build back better that’s being talked about this week. It really is insulting that these Demo. idiots in Congress think they are fooling us. Of course there’s that guy on Twitter with his Ukraine flag suggesting that two corporate hacks like Val Demings and Tim Ryan will cancel out Manchin and his pal from Arizona. Lol! Sure can’t wait.

      1. Tom Doak

        I wonder what would have happened if they’d told Manchin to write down his own bill right at the start, and put it up for a vote. Would the Squad have stood on principle and failed to pass it because it wasn’t progressive enough?

        Joe Biden keeps negotiating against himself, and losing. But, I hear he “brought up Kashoggi” to MBS today, so effective!

      2. Librarian Guy

        It’s not a Dem bug, it’s a feature. They’re there to lose, and to provide a credible (to the stupidest Dem voters) illusion of being the “good cop” & not signing onto everything that the R’s push, but since they share the same donors (rhymes w/ owners) the results are known in advance & 100% predictable. The Dem “Left” (former “squad”) are there to be hippie punched by the leaders, like the recent speech where senile Joe blamed the lefty voters on “the margin” (the same ones he begged for votes from and got in places like Georgia in 2020) for expecting the Dems to do anything (beyond symbolic speeches) about Roe v. Wade being overturned. . . To understand the psychology, I get my gorge mechanism under control and then read the Daily Kos or “Lawyers, Guns & Money” blog. I was quite shocked recently that LG&M threw up their hands and ran a piece admitting Biden was useless and shouldn’t be the 2024 nom!! Just 2 weeks before they’d run one saying in all seriousness he had “done a good job” so far and should be the nom . . . it’d be nice if some of them would learn and stop voting for D politicos who they know will sell them out and surrender. Not holding my breath however, & I’m sure in 22 & 24 LG&M will return to the script and tell everyone they MUST “Vote Blue No Matter Who”

        1. John

          New twist on “Yellow Dog Democrat.” I see little reason to vote for candidates of with branch of the one-big-party. Let their donors vote. That’s the constituency that matters to the pols.

  13. Carla

    Re: The “middleman economy” :

    “for [author Kathryn] Judge, costs go beyond mere economic hazards and represent an artificial intermediary that diminishes the integrity of direct exchange… Judge offers numerous examples of ways that consumers can buy directly from local institutions and boutique ventures (consider your local bookseller!).”

    Hhhmm. Nothing against small, independent retailers — I make a conscious choice to frequent them as much as possible, and personally boycott Amazon, Costco and WalMart, for example. But I would have thought the independents are actually simply smaller middlemen. Wouldn’t a “direct exchange” involve buying a book from the publisher or even the author, or a pair of pants from its maker (individual or factory, as the case may be.) I must be being too literal or something…

  14. mistah charley, ph.d.

    Maskstravaganza – the Virology Down Under piece makes an excellent case for why masking is advantageous, although they are a bit too dismissive of elastomeric masks, I thought. Yesterday I had my eye exam – the assistant who saw me first was wearing a surgical mask, the optometrist was wearing an N95. I asked about the difference, and the optometrist said staff could choose which to wear. I receive my health care from Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic – they are requiring patients to wear masks and discouraging unnecessary companions.

    And speaking of masking, the Fargo “natural experiment” finds no advantage for doing so in schools. However, it is easy to find other studies which DO find advantages for doing so. It seems reasonable to conclude that more research is necessary.

  15. Kitten

    “Rising inflation, Roe v. Wade, Climate Change… just vote harder…. This nose dive cuts across all party lines as well”

    Word of the Day: “BiDeMflation”, it’s not just Biden anymore.

  16. Karl

    I love Lambert’s hilarious eloquence:

    Does anybody really believe that Tim Ryan won’t be the next revolving villain, even if President Manchin decides to retire and fondle his coal?

    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      Actually, I like Tim Ryan – I have heard him speak at an event sponsored by the Insight Meditation Society of Washington – and even have a copy of his book Healing America: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Recapture the American Spirit.

      1. Yves Smith

        Halo effect cognitive bias, of wanting to see people as all good or all bad.

        I hate to use the most obvious example, but Hitler was a vegetarian and loved dogs….

          1. BlakeFelix

            And he was the kind of familyblog who poisons his own dog with cyanide before he kills himself. May have loved it, but not in the taking good care of it sense. Germany, too, come to that, IIRC his last orders were to burn it all down.

  17. lph

    ‘The first decision — the 1973 Roe decision — fundamentally reshaped American politics, it ushered in the rise of the Christian conservative movement, it led to the forming of what became the Reagan coalition in 1980.’”

    This is no myth. Absolutely true. Read EJ Dionne’s 1990s book “Why Americans Hate Politics. It has a chapter on this.

  18. Wukchumni

    I heard there’s a move afoot among some restaurants to charge extra for heated eats…

  19. Bart Hansen

    I remember Teixeira from maybe 10-15 years ago when he was saying that soon the Dems would be in the majority because demography.

    1. flora

      The self-congratulating determinism of the Dems, relying on some fixed this-therefore-that thing wrt voters, aka we don’t need to change a thing, is so so stupid.

    2. Milton

      Yeah but the breakfast tacos* put the kibosh on such theories.

      *registered tm from the offices of Flotus.

      1. flora

        Yep. When you’re only a tourist the social differences in the local particulars are invisible. / heh

    3. Skip Intro

      Do you think he (unwittingly?) drew the map for democrats to use identity silos to divide and conquer their own base into supporting candidates owned by Wall St. as progressive heroes?

  20. Wukchumni

    the data also revealed that ‘more than one in four Americans are so alienated from their government that they believe it may ‘soon be necessary to take up arms’ against it.’ One in four Americans. That’s a truly frightening statistic.

    The average gun owner (all of us ‘own’ one statistically) lives in a big city and a good many of them have probably never used them except for the few that go to the target range to fire at stationary objects not made out of skin, blood and bones.

    Could get messy in a hurry…

  21. flora

    re: PA; Hey @DrOz 👋

    That’s hilarious. Maybe the funniest part is the idea that Dr. Oz won’t understand that it’s funny, or why it’s funny. / ;)

    1. Skip Intro

      Oz got badly pwned by Fetterman for a photo op at Geno’s cheesesteaks. He tweeted that it was a ‘a rite of passage for every tourist’. Then Pat’s cheesesteaks piled on. I suspect they may be more influential/reflective than Snooki.

  22. Steve in Maine

    What’s going on with the US total regional case count? Compare yesterday’s 2:00pm plot to today’s. Yesterday shows increasing count from about 110k to 140k over three days. Today’s goes from 122k to 125k over three days. These two plots don’t agree!
    Was some data revised?

  23. JBird4049

    However, as the AIDS crisis teaches us, the proper comparison is not abstinence, but condoms which, though imperfect, still offer protection.

    Somehow, as a fool high school student, I knew this, but it’s all down the memory hole? Okay.

    1. anon in so cal

      Earth Island Institute, a top-rated environmental group, was able to stop the “thinning” in Yosemite:

      “Yosemite National Park logging project halted after environmental lawsuit. What now?”

      “According to the John Muir Project, over 200 climate scientists and ecologists in 2020 warned the Biden Administration and Congress that commercial logging disguised as forest thinning does not stop climate-driven wildfires and often makes them burn more intensely toward homes, while worsening climate change.

      –Merced Sun Star July 8, 2022 and Earth Institute

      ….“In some places, the logging that they’re doing in Yosemite Valley is so intensive, it’s actually clear cutting,” said ecologist Chad Hanson, co-founder and director of the John Muir Project, in an interview with the Fresno Bee last month. “They’re actually clear cutting the forest – mature and old forests – in Yosemite Valley.”

      “In both bills, logging provisions are promoted as wildfire management and climate solutions
      measures, but commercial logging conducted under the guise of “thinning” and “fuel reduction”
      typically removes mature, fire-resistant trees that are needed for forest resilience. We have
      watched as one large wildfire after another has swept through tens of thousands of acres where
      commercial thinning had previously occurred due to extreme fire weather driven by climate
      change. Removing trees can alter a forest’s microclimate, and can often increase fire intensity.10
      In contrast, forests protected from logging, and those with high carbon biomass and carbon
      storage, more often burn at equal or lower intensities when fires do occur.”

      BTW, the recent Yosemite fire was started due to “human activity,” Don’t know if that was a careless camper or what. Some of California’s worst forest fires in recent years were started by poorly maintained PG&E equipment.

    2. Wukchumni

      Lets do a comparison…

      The Giant Forest Grove and the Mariposa Grove have had prescribed burns and thinning for about half a century and both survived their brush with flame (I may be talking out of turn on the latter, but things look good @ present)

      The Alder Creek Grove, Board Camp Grove, Dillonwood Grove, Freeman Creek Grove, Homers Nose Grove, McIntyre Grove & Mountain Home Grove all burned extensively in the Castle Fire in 2020 and none had any prescribed burns or thinning heretofore.

      The Castle Creek Grove, Deer Creek Grove, Long Meadow Grove, Packsaddle Grove, Peyrone Grove, Redhill Grove, South Pyrone Grove, Skagway Grove, Starvation Grove & Suwanee Grove all burned extensively in the KNP Fire in 2021 and none had any prescribed burns or thinning heretofore.

      See a pattern emerging?

  24. HotFlash

    ‘Where were the auditors?’ Namely, as fallible humans, all of us are prone to the quick and instinctive decisions that activated ‘fight or flight’ for our primitive ancestors whose DNA we inherit. It was good enough to safeguard a prehistoric tribe, but ill-suited to the complexities of modern life where, through bias and error, we are led to undesirable judgments and decisions….”

    Nice try. This, friends and neighbours, is regulatory capture.

    1. Late Introvert

      Thanks HotFlash. Nothing to see here, it’s just human frailty, it happens all the time. Of course all of you reading this would go to jail but we all got richer and learned from our mistakes as you can see.

  25. jr

    “We discuss a new refrain that pushing for a return of pandemic mitigations is ‘moralizing even as the BA.5 wave takes hold.”

    I couldn’t open the link but am I to understand that someone is actually saying that taking concrete steps to ameliorate the wave is “moralizing”? As opposed to fu(king what!? Pure, powdered doublethink. God help us.

  26. jr

    Wesley Yang’s Tweet is hammer to nail. I’d love to see someone quantify the benefits that identity politics has graced the world with. How many fed? Clothed? Housed? Or has it all been focused on reducing the dangers of vicious Tweets and correct word usage?

    1. JBird4049

      It is also cheaper to run on identity, inclusivity, and equity being as that is only printed electrons or maybe ink, whereas actually running an effective operation helping to feed, cloth, or house others takes real work and actual money. Just look at the American Red Cross. In the past thirty years it has increasingly been unable (or refused?) to run effective disaster relief while paying its management very, very well.

  27. jr

    I for one am not at all surprised that Texeira is now burning up the oxygen at the AEI. FOX fairly regularly features Greenwald, Tucker has had Dore on more than once, Shapiro recently interviewed Taibbi, and conservative Catholic Matt Walsh demonstrates a keener grasp of ontological truths than any of the m0r0ns in the mainstream media or NGO $hit-lib breeding vats. Hearken, a trumpet sounds in the East! The days of lions laying with lambs are upon us!

    1. Late Introvert

      Democrat is an insult at this point. Elitist war mongers who can only stir up fights over IDpol while always failing and blaming.

  28. McDee

    “Cancel out Manchin and Sinema. Support these three Dems in 2022” But, but….electing “more and better Democrats” doesn’t ever seem to make much difference, somehow.

    1. jsn

      Well, it’s proven the best way to prevent Democrats from doing anything is putting them in power.

      So obviously you have to vote Democrat to prevent Democrats from doing anything.

      Manchin is a Democrat and we all certainly don’t want him to do anything, so we had best vote for Democrats.

  29. griffen

    So, the leader of the land goes fist bumping in the Middle East. It’s just a damn shame. Satire below is my own, granted, I embellish from a known plot from TV and film.

    MBS. It wasn’t me. It’s the one armed man. That’s who you should find.

    Biden. I saw that, I really liked Harrison ford in that movie.

  30. Michael Ismoe

    Fetterman is owning Oz on the Twitter, for sure.

    Oh sweet. Then he’ll be eligible to join The Squad. Kewl.

  31. spud

    i respect much of what Soloman has written since 2016 about the Bill Clinton led democratic party.

    he was not shy at all about why the neo-liberal democrats keep losing.

    but today he is over looking this, for the democrats to regain trust and power, they are going to have to come clean about the Clinton/Obama regimes.

    so just getting Joe Biden to step aside, i do not think its enough. the youth of this nation totally ignored what Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did to their parents and grand parents, and got sucked into voting for the right hand man in both of those regimes.

    now the youth have recoiled in horror, they got the same treatment as their parents and grand parents got.

    it will get hard to get them back.


    July 15, 2022
    Why Grassroots Democrats Have Turned Against Biden
    by Norman Solomon

    1. notabanker

      It may be an interesting intellectual argument, but when the choice is between totally incompetent Jerk A vs completely incompetent Jerk B, you’re gonna wind up with an incompetent Jerk. I guess when the Jerk looks more like you, it somehow makes it all better.

        1. ambrit

          That’s why I’m voting for Dread Lord Cthulhu in ’24. Let’s have the Best Evil in charge, at least up until the Four Horsemen ride out.

  32. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    Re: Cory Doctorow’s Moneylike

    “Doctorow embraces MMT (though not Hudson on the origin of money).” I think the problem is actual a little different than that. Doctorow’s chief source of the history of money is David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years in which Graeber definitely follows Hudson on the origin of money. What Doctorow does is conflate money with coinage, which Graeber is very clear are different things and that money precedes coinage by at least a thousand years.

    Other than that, which isn’t trivial, I seems to me that Doctorow does a good job presenting straight forward, easily understood history of the origin and nature of money.

    1. Yves Smith

      The Saker quickly responded to our complaint and took down the post at issue. Unfortunately, I haven’t worked out how to resynch the RSS feed to remove it from there too.

  33. Wukchumni

    After staff exodus, Vice President Harris to lose longest-serving aide (WaPo)

    Domestic policy adviser Rohini Kosoglu says she wants to spend more time away from her

    1. Acacia

      Suppose Harris resigns, Newsom is appointed as replacement VP, and then Biden resigns due to cognitive decline. Newsom then becomes POTUS via the 25th. I guess Newsom would have to be installed before the inexorable November wipeout in the House and Senate.

  34. Tom Stone

    Newsome is Noisome.
    Marginally better than Trump because he sees himself as the face of the Aristocracy and some amount of Noblesse Oblige’ is necessary to keep up appearances.
    So,probably bigger crumbs and maybe a half gnawed bone for the peasants.

    1. Sardonia

      That “half a gnawed bone” could be his own! When he was sleeping with the wife of his Chief of Staff, IIRC they were both serious alcoholics, so there might have been some clumsiness involved.

  35. David in Santa Cruz

    I’ve bookmarked today’s Water Cooler. Today’s the day that USA!USA! went over the waterfall…

  36. John Beech

    Don’t expect anybody to see this as I’m a day late to the water cooler but . . .

    What’s with the hate for the Oz guy building a family home? Since when have we begun to hate the people who ‘make’ it in America? Me? I’m thinking, good for him!

    Do the owners of Naked Capitalism have a revulsion for those who earn their capital? Has someone shown that Oz and his wife stole their fortune? I see Asplundh trucks going about their business, seems like they’re not stealing from we the people but doing a necessary function. So what’s with the heartache with what should be a success story? Think they’re the only ones to hire illegals? What about farmers, builders, and meat plants? Put another way, America has a demographic problem, we allow a flood of illegals to aid it, and then we also demonize those who give them jobs, too?

    Honestly? The hypocrisy gets a bit deep here sometimes.

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