2:00PM Water Cooler 7/20/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Desert Lark, HaDarom, Israel. With droning prop airplane?

* * *


“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

“‘It’s the accumulation’: The Jan. 6 hearings are wounding Trump, after all” [Politico]. “The conventional wisdom about the Jan. 6 committee hearings was that no single revelation was going to change Republican minds about Donald Trump. What happened instead, a slow drip of negative coverage, may be just as damaging to the former president. Six weeks into the committee’s public hearing schedule, an emerging consensus is forming in Republican Party circles — including in Trump’s orbit — that a significant portion of the rank-and-file may be tiring of the non-stop series of revelations about Trump. The fatigue is evident in public polling and in focus groups that suggest growing Republican openness to an alternative presidential nominee in 2024. The cumulative effect of the hearings, according to interviews with more than 20 Republican strategists, party officials and pollsters in recent days, has been to at least marginally weaken his support. ‘It is definitely kind of this wet drip of, do you really want to debate the 2020 election again? Do you really want to debate what happened on Jan. 6?’ said Bob Vander Plaats, the evangelical leader in Iowa who is influential in primary politics in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. ‘Frankly, I think what I sense a little bit, even among some deep, deep Trump supporters … there’s a certain exhaustion to it.'” • I don’t want to be cranky about this, but an “accumulation” is not a theory of the case…

“Last-chance hearing: Jan. 6 committee has yet to establish a criminal case against Trump” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “At the start of the hearings, committee members promised they had the long-sought smoking-gun evidence — new material that would close the circle on Trump. Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) indicated he thought there was now ‘credible evidence’ to support a variety of criminal charges. His colleague, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), said the committee would show that Trump organized a ‘coup’ on Jan. 6, 2021….. It is difficult to make a criminal case over what an official failed to do. Yet the last hearing seemed to focus on a number of things that did not occur, from a draft tweet that was not sent to an executive order that was never signed. There were discussions of appointing Trump attorney Sidney Powell as a special counsel, seizing voting machines or replacing the Justice Department’s leadership. As unnerving as these proposals were, they also were not carried out. It is the type of evidence used to show mens rea — ‘guilty mind.’ However, crimes generally require both guilty minds and guilty acts. Building a criminal case on the failure to act to stop the violence is a notoriously difficult case to make. It has been raised in various contexts without success even when officials had direct law enforcement duties, as in Seattle with the CHOP zone in the summer of 2020. It is even more difficult when the House committee has blocked any serious investigation into the potentially contributing failure of Congress to take better precautions before the riot, another costly act of omission.” • I will await the Committee’s timeline with great interest. I’m perfectly willling to accept a theory of case, if one were to be presented.

“Secret Service Jan. 6 texts erased despite Congress’ request” [Associated Press]. “Secret Service text messages from around the time of the attack on the U.S. Capitol were deleted despite requests from Congress and federal investigators that they be preserved, the agency confirmed Tuesday in response to a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee. Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democratic member of the Jan 6. panel, said the Secret Service acknowledged the erasure in a letter Tuesday, detailing how agency phones were migrated to a new system in the weeks after the 2021 attack. Murphy said the agency left it up to individual agents to decide what electronic records to keep and what to delete during the process. ‘Nobody along the way stopped and thought, ‘well, maybe we shouldn’t do the migration of data and of the devices until we are able to fulfill these four requests from Congress,” Murphy said on MSNBC. The deletion of the messages has raised the prospect of lost evidence that could shed further light on then-President Donald Trump’s actions during the insurrection, particularly after testimony about his confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol.”

“Prosecutors seek 15-year sentence for armed Capitol rioter” [Associated Press]. “Federal prosecutors are seeking a 15-year prison sentence for a Texas man who was convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol with a holstered handgun, calling him a militia group member who took a central role in the pro-Trump mob’s attack, according to a court filing Friday…. Reffitt drove to Washington, D.C., with Rocky Hardie, who said he and Reffitt were members of the Texas Three Percenters militia group. The Three Percenters militia movement refers to the myth that only 3% of Americans fought in the Revolutionary War against the British.”

“Senate Bill Aims to Stop Future Attempts to Thwart Elections” [Bloomberg]. “Legislation drafted by GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia alters the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to make clear that the vice president has only a ministerial role in certifying presidential election results. It also raises the threshold for members of Congress to object to a state’s presidential election results to 20% of lawmakers in each chamber, instead of just one lawmaker under current practice. The two senators also unveiled a separate measure that would increase penalties for individuals who threaten or intimidate election officials and poll workers, and to improve handling of mail-in ballots.” • This is good, actually.


“The Abortion Vote In Kansas Looks Like It’s Going To Be Close” [FiveThirtyEight]. “On Aug. 2, Kansans will vote on a state constitutional amendment that would clarify that the state’s bill of rights does not protect Kansans’ right to an abortion. And even though the state leans Republican, new polling and fundraising numbers suggest it’s a close race. The proposed amendment, as its supporters are quick to point out, wouldn’t ban abortion, but it would remove one of the biggest obstacles to making abortion illegal in Kansas. In 2019, the state Supreme Court ruled that the right to bodily autonomy in the state’s bill of rights includes the right to abortion — separate from any rights guaranteed (or not guaranteed) by the U.S. Constitution…. If the amendment passes, on the other hand, the Kansas constitution would no longer protect abortion and more restrictions are likely, particularly if Republicans take back the governor’s mansion in the midterm elections. The vote will be an early bellwether for how Americans are thinking about abortion in the lead-up to the midterms….. Regardless of the outcome, the vote in Kansas will tell us something important about how the public is reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to abortion. The court’s decision wasn’t popular — but now we’ll get our first chance to see if the ruling will actually spur voters into action.”

Biden Administration

“Ukraine’s first lady visits White House to meet with Jill Biden” [Politico]. • Pricing real estate?

“House passes same-sex marriage bill in retort to high court” [Associated Press]. “The U.S. House overwhelmingly approved legislation Tuesday to protect same-sex and interracial marriages amid concerns that the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade abortion access could jeopardize other rights criticized by many conservatives. In a robust but lopsided debate, Democrats argued intensely and often personally in favor of enshrining marriage equality in federal law, while Republicans steered clear of openly rejecting gay marriage. Instead leading Republicans portrayed the bill as unnecessary amid other issues facing the nation. Tuesday’s election-year roll call, 267-157, was partly political strategy, forcing all House members, Republicans and Democrats, to go on the record. It also reflected the legislative branch pushing back against an aggressive court that has raised questions about revisiting other apparently settled U.S. laws. Wary of political fallout, GOP leaders did not press their members to hold the party line against the bill, aides said. In all, 47 Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for passage.”


* * *

MD: “Glenn Ivey wins a Maryland Democratic House primary seen as a proxy fight over Israel” [New York Times]. “Glenn Ivey, a former state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, rode a wave of support from pro-Israel groups to win the Democratic nomination to represent a House district in the predominantly Black middle-class suburbs north and east of Washington, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Ivey defeated Donna Edwards, the first Black woman elected to the House from Maryland, who left the seat to run unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2016 and had hoped to return. The district is heavily Democratic, meaning Mr. Ivey will almost certainly win the general election this fall. The race, dominated by Mr. Ivey and Ms. Edwards, was not an ideological contest. Both candidates are progressive Democrats and Black lawyers. Instead, it became a proxy fight over Israel between the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee’s new super PAC, the United Democracy Project, and progressive groups led by J Street, a liberal Jewish organization pushing for change in the static conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The United Democracy Project and another group, the Democratic Majority for Israel, spent more than $6.3 million to defeat Ms. Edwards, over her early support for a nuclear deal between Iran and five industrial countries, including the United States, and votes she took in the House that were seen as critical of Israel.” • Awesome. Maybe these lunactics can foment a war in the Middle East when Ukraine is no longer lucrative.

OH: “Tim Ryan’s Ohio ad play: Run to the right” [Axios]. “Democrat Tim Ryan is using his big fundraising advantage over Republican J.D. Vance in Ohio’s Senate race to define himself as conservative-friendly through TV ads targeting GOP audiences — while Vance’s campaign remains silent.” • I’m so glad President Manchin will finally have some help. It must have been lonely for him.


“Biden’s age isn’t his problem” [CNN]. “Without doubt, Biden’s age complicates his hopes of winning another term. It has nothing to do with his problems in this one…. Consider the problems, which began to mushroom a year ago when most Americans still approved his job performance.

The first hammer blow resulted from Biden’s determination to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, a popular goal he shared with his two immediate predecessors. It wasn’t his age that caused the lightning collapse of the Afghan government and the damaging images of chaos that unfolded on live television thereafter…. Around the same time, the Delta variant triggered a resurgence of coronavirus infections. Biden’s age didn’t make the once-in-a-century pandemic unpredictable [which it wasn’t –lambert]… More bad news arrived at year’s end. After lengthy, torturous negotiations, the centerpiece of the President’s economic agenda collapsed on Capitol Hill. Ever since Biden launched his third White House candidacy, progressive Democrats had fretted about the septuagenarian’s outlook as well as physical stamina. Specifically, they feared he held outdated views about the value of negotiating with congressional Republicans. In reality, Biden has achieved a few bipartisan victories, from infrastructure spending in 2021 to gun safety legislation this year. He faltered on the objective he shares with progressives and nearly all other Democrats: major investments to ameliorate climate change and lift struggling families, financed by higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

The reason for that failure is simple. In an evenly divided Senate, Democrats can’t afford to lose a single vote on party priorities. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who represents a coal state that opposed Biden by a landslide margin, held out. In recent months, surging inflation has kept Biden gasping for political air. But price growth didn’t reach an annualized 9.1% in last week’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report because the President soon will enter his ninth decade. Inflation has surged, here and around the world, from the toxic combination of pandemic disruptions and overheated consumer demand.” • Sounds like Democrats want to talk about Biden’s age because they don’t want to talk about their failures to govern (and that includes making the case for the Afghanistan withdrawal when the screeching began).

“Young voters flee Biden — but who is the alternative?” [The Hill]. “So, with many Democrats, and particularly Millennials, wanting to move on from Biden, who exactly could be an alternative? Former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton? Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.)? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)? Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)? History suggests it’s too early to tell…. Time is not on Biden’s side. But time is the one thing Democrats have. The question is whether a viable alternative to Biden will emerge in the next two years. Only time will tell.” • Two years is a long time in politics, it is true. But it’s a very short time for a candidate whose appeal is organic to build their voter base. Of course, anything can “emerge” from the PR vats of the Democratic strategists….

“California’s low-cost insulin plans receive $100m manufacturing boost” [Pharmaceutical Technology]. “Insulin prices made the headlines again as California governor Gavin Newsom announced plans on 7 July for the state to manufacture low-cost insulin. In a budget change proposed in February and confirmed in May, California’s Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI) requested a one-time investment of $100 million for Newsom’s CalRx Biosimilar Insulin initiative. The state plans to work directly with a contract manufacturing organization (CMO) to manufacture low-cost insulin. The documents state that a partnership with a CMO would be cheaper than the state directly manufacturing insulin. ‘Nothing epitomises market failures more than the cost of insulin,’ Newsom said in a video posted on Twitter.” • Good, but not enough. Not nearly enough.

What does this even mean:

Republican Funhouse

“How conservatism conquered America — and corrupted itself” [Vox]. “With Trump’s election, the conservative establishment succeeded in cementing its control over the Court. But this victory required that they cede control over their movement to an unstable demagogue. American conservatism is thus simultaneously ascendant and in crisis. The right has extraordinary political power, but its traditional leadership seems less capable than ever of imposing limits on how it is wielded. The GOP’s future belongs to the radical forces represented by Trump and the members of the establishment most willing to cater to them. Those few Republicans in power willing to stand up to the rot of Trumpism — like Rep. Liz Cheney, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, and Sen. Mitt Romney — find themselves on the outside looking in. This state of affairs is perhaps the inevitable endpoint of the American right’s decades-old strategy for attaining power. Conservative doctrine never truly captured the hearts of a mass audience; to attain power, the movement needed to ally itself with forces of far-right reaction who raged against the idea of equality at the heart of modern democracy. American conservatism was an attempt to tame the untamable: to domesticate this reactionary impulse and channel it into electoral politics in service of an elite-driven agenda. Its leaders managed to exercise some control over radicals in the specific context of Cold War America — but the effort was fated to fail eventually.” • I’m not sure this thesis can give an account of formerly Democrat constituencies moving into the Republican column. I wish the Democrats were raging in favor of “the idea of equality at the heart of modern democracy.” But given their PMC base, that seems unlikely.

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.

* * *

“Many young Democrats are furious at Democrats. But they’re pushing through” [WaPo]. The deck: “College liberals who helped elect President Biden face their own rage with a party they’re urging peers to support.” How nice for them. More: “In about half of states where reliable data is available, meanwhile, researchers at Tufts University flagged that the number of 18-to-24-year-olds who were registered to vote in June is lagging behind the 2018 pace, especially for freshly eligible ballot casters…. Neither wanted Biden to run again in 2024, even if they weren’t sure who might have a better shot at the White House. Neither [activist] knew what to do about the growing divide between young Democrats and Washington. ‘There’s this feeling of mass helplessness,’ Neville said. ‘Mass uselessness.'” • For good reason. “Young Democrat” is such an odd category; ypu would think there’s a life-cycle of being a Democrat: Middle-aged Democrat, Wise Elder Democrat…. Only some of the “young Democrats” quoted are College Democrats; some are simply Democrat-adjacent, or members of NGOs.


No lies detected.

Realignment and Legitimacy


“Voters of color are backing the GOP at historic levels” [CNN]. “The Times poll showed that Democrats were ahead by around 25 points among voters of color on the generic congressional ballot, which usually asks respondents some form of the following question: “If the elections for Congress were held today, would you vote for the Democratic or Republican party?” Democrats trailed among White voters on this same question by 10 points. A 35-point racial gap is minuscule by historical standards. I decided to investigate further by averaging polling data from CNN/SSRS, Fox, Marist College, Monmouth University and The New York Times. The average showed Democrats up by 30 points among voters of color and losing White voters by 14 points — a somewhat larger 44-point racial gap but still historically small. In fact, it’s the smallest divide this century. … The big reason for this shrinking gap is that voters of color are supporting Republicans at very high levels. The previous low watermark for the Democratic edge among voters of color in House elections this century was 40 points in 2004. Republicans are currently doing 10 points better than their best year of 2004. Part of why that is occurring is the changing demographic makeup of voters of color. They’re a lot more Hispanic than they used to be. At the same time, they’re a lot less Black. Hispanic voters don’t support Democrats as much as Black voters. But that’s not all that’s going on. Democratic support from Asian American, Black and Hispanic voters is much lower than it has usually been. The electorate is also less divided than it has been in recent years when you break down voting patterns by gender. I pointed out earlier this year that we were seeing a much smaller gender gap than we did four years ago at an equivalent point in the election cycle.” • No wonder Teixeira jumped ship.

“C.I.A. Director Issues Warning After Possible Noose Is Found Near Facility” [New York Times]. “[W]hat appeared to be a noose was found outside a secret facility used by the agency in Virginia, according to people familiar with the matter…. Questions surround the incident. The object was found near a small agency facility located in a building that houses businesses and other organizations. Some people briefed on the incident said it was not entirely clear that the object was even meant to be a noose, or if whoever placed it there knew that the C.I.A. secretly operated in the building…. [T]he object was disturbing enough that an agency official reported it.” • Odd. I suppose the noose had been a guillotine….


• Any school could do this:

Remote learning, testing, masking, ventilation (outdoor classes; HEPA filters or Corsi-Rosenthal boxes), capacity limits, and not believing CDC’s lies. Seems like discipline has a lot to do with their success too.

• “The CDC ends COVID reporting on cruise ships. Is this good for public health?’ [Poynter Institute]. • Lol no. Now they’re just trolling us. Or as the normally reserved Poynter Institute writes: “It is hard to make sense of why the CDC would pull back from a detailed monitoring program just as COVID-19 cases are again rising worldwide.” • Well, I hate to think this way, but it makes sense if they’re trying to kill us.

* * *

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

NOT UPDATED Case count for the United States:

The train is still rolling. 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 ~135,400. Today, it’s ~125,900 and 135,400 * 6 = a Biden line at 755,400 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.

NOT UPDATED Regional case count for four weeks:

Now the South and West.


Florida and Texas, still neck and neck.


So, the national drop resolves to California.


NOT UPDATED From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

0.1%. Down! (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.

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 July 17, 2020:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a totally 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 19:

California worrse, Texas and Louisiana somewhat better, Illinois better, upstate New York worse.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 19:

Lots of yellow. 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:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 2:

BA.5 moving along nicely.


Wastewater data (CDC), Jul 16:

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.

Lambert here: This page was loading so slowly that I began to wonder if this is how CDC had chosen to sabotage wastewater efforts. However, after some experimentation, I find I must turn off my VPN to get this page to load. Good job, CDC.

• CA: “Fueled by rapid reinfections, California’s soaring summer COVID wave could top winter surge” [Los Angeles Times]. “New coronavirus infections in parts of California may be surging even higher than winter’s Omicron wave, potentially explaining why so many people seem to be infected simultaneously. The concentration of coronavirus levels in San Francisco’s wastewater is at even higher levels than during the winter, according to data tweeted by Marlene Wolfe, an assistant professor in environmental health at Emory University. Wastewater data for much of L.A. County — Los Angeles city and a wide swath of eastern and southern L.A. County — have been unavailable due to a supply chain shortage on testing supplies at the state level. But county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week that steady increases have been noted as of late in the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District that serves areas in and around Calabasas and the L.A. County Sanitation Districts’ treatment plant in Lancaster.” • Oh ffs.

• CA: “This chart shows San Francisco COVID cases are wildly undercounted” [SFGATE]. “Marlene Wolfe, an assistant professor in environmental health at Emory University, shared a graph on Twitter last week that might explain why it seems like everyone you know has recently gotten COVID-19. Wolfe’s graph, which compares official case counts in San Francisco with the volume of viral COVID-19 RNA in samples of county wastewater, clearly shows that the number of people with COVID in San Francisco is far higher than official case counts would suggest. In fact, judging by the volume of poop containing the virus now flowing through the county sewers, there are as many or even more people with COVID-19 now than there were at the peak of last winter’s omicron surge. Last week, the city recorded an average of 406 cases a day. But wastewater data suggests the real number could be much closer to the number of people infected during that January surge, when more than 2,300 people were testing positive for the virus every day on average.”

• FL:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,049,683 1,049,274. 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

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

Tech: “OpenAI expands access to DALL-E 2, its powerful image-generating AI system” [TechCrunch]. “Today, DALL-E 2, OpenAI’s AI system that can generate images given a prompt or edit and refine existing images, is becoming more widely available. The company announced in a blog post that it will expedite access for customers on the waitlist with the goal of reaching roughly 1 million people within the next few weeks. With this ‘beta’ launch, DALL-E 2, which had been free to use, will move to a credit-based fee structure. First-time users will get a finite amount of credits that can be put toward generating or editing an image or creating a variation of an image. (Generations return four images, while edits and variations return three.) Credits will refill every month to the tune of 50 in the first month and 15 a month after that, or users can buy additional credits in increments of $15.” • I hate that thing. Kill it with fire.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 33 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 23 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 20 at 1:59 PM EDT.

The Gallery

Cubist landscape:

Our Famously Free Press

The Archive Editor of The New Yorker would like a word:

If this topplies the horrid Remnick, that would be great. Maybe Hertzberg would be next. Then they could bring back Seymour Hersh.

Groves of Academe


Class Warfare

“America’s Bus Driver Shortage Has Left Transit Systems in Crisis” [Bloomberg]. “The number of bus drivers across the US is declining as many retire or seek higher-paying private-sector jobs that require less in-person contact. The shortage is creating a major challenge for transportation agencies as they try to revive their systems and win riders back after taking steep losses throughout the pandemic, according to a report by TransitCenter, a public transportation advocacy group, released on Wednesday. …. In a recent American Public Transportation Association survey of 117 transit agencies, 71% reported that they have either had to cut service or delay service increases because of worker shortfalls, according to the report. More than nine out of 10 said they were having difficulty hiring new employees, with nearly two-thirds struggling to retain workers…. According to the report, the average American transit operator is nearly 53 years old — more than a decade older than the average worker. The report cites a 2015 federal government analysis which found that nearly 63% of US transit operators were over the age of 45, with 72% of the 2015 workforce projected to leave by 2022. That, coupled with regular increases in workforce needs, led researchers to forecast 200,000 job vacancies.”

“Second Activision Blizzard Worker Group Launches Union Drive With CWA” [Hollywood Reporter]. “A new group of workers at video game behemoth Activision Blizzard is launching an attempt at unionization with the Communications Workers of America. Quality assurance (QA) testers at Blizzard Albany in New York have organized and are asking for voluntary recognition of their group from management, the workers tweeted on Tuesday. On Tuesday they additionally filed a petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. Twenty associate test analysts are involved in the effort, and according to the CWA, 19 out of 20 have signed union authorization cards. ‘There are issues in the video game industry that often go unaddressed because our work is considered a passion instead of a job,’ Blizzard Albany associate test analyst Amanda Laven said in a statement. ‘Quality assurance workers deserve fair treatment and proper compensation for the work we do which is why we chose to form a union.'”

News of the Wired

I seem not to be wired today, either.

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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 TH:

TH writes: “This Orchid was part of the Bellagio’s Spring display in their Botanical Conservatory when we were there earlier this month (June) on the 12th. Orchids were quite the theme, but not the only one.”

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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. Jason Boxman

    America’s Bus Driver Shortage Has Left Transit Systems in Crisis

    Unfortunately, the tight labor market in cities and states across the US isn’t helping. Despite the economy’s historic post-pandemic comeback, there are still roughly 6 million fewer people employed in the US than before Covid struck. The percentage of unfilled jobs is at its highest level since at least 2001, and the share of Americans in the labor force is near its lowest since the 1970s, according to Labor Department figures.

    (bold mine)

    So “reporter” Skylar Woodhouse is willfully stupid, I guess. The Pandemic ain’t over, not even close, not even sort of kind of seeming to be over. We’re possibly tied for most cases ever, if the data wasn’t so bad.

    1. c_heale

      I would consider bus driving to be one of the highest risk jobs for C19. It is known for being one of the most high stressed jobs, and is not well paid. No other explanations are needed.

      1. ambrit

        You also need a special Commercial Drivers License, with a Bus endorsement. An “ordinary” Commercial Driver’s License, such as for 18 wheelers is not enough.
        The shortage of drivers has led the local bus service to return to several 12 hour shifts per day to cope. Municipal bus-drivers, I have been told, are exempt from some of the ‘normal’ CDL restrictions imposed on over the road drivers.
        I usually converse with the bus drivers when I take the bus, and some of the stories I have heard are the stuff of legend, such as Petronius would savour.
        One driver was written up for throwing an abusive drunk off of the bus. (He was told he should have called the police, while keeping to his schedule. Kafka had nothing on some of these middle managers today.)

      2. Anthony G Stegman

        Some bus drivers are well paid. In Santa Clara county, California bus drivers are well compensated, as are bus drivers in San Francisco. In fact, in the SF Bay Area as a whole mass transit employees are well compensated, with BART employees extremely well paid, sometimes to the point of absurdity ($200K per year janitor comes to mind).

    2. chris

      The way people discuss the “post-pandemic” comeback sets my teeth on edge. Especially when Biden is trying to take credit for it. Hes no more responsible for creating new jobs than my son is for creating new water when he unkinks a garden hose. The people who say that stuff really want to believe it’s true. So I wonder what they will say now that lots of people like them are being laid off.

      1. fjallstrom

        Judging by recent articles they will say:

        “Millions being laid off was totally unforeseen and can’t be blamed on Boden being old”

  2. Dr. John Carpenter

    The Archive Editor of The New Yorker would like a word tweet is showing the Any school could do this tweet.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I was reading this twitter-sequence, going down the tweets as they built their case, and then suddenly they froze and a big sign came up saying ” Want to read more? Join Twitter today!” or something like that.

        That doesn’t make me want to join Twitter. That makes me hate Twitter for sucking me in and then slamming a window on my fingers.

  3. super extra

    > Groves of Academe

    Probably the most excruciating conversation I’ve ever had in a professional context came up as the result of something similar to this, where I was publicly shamed for appropriating Native American heritage because of some earrings I was wearing, and resulted in me pulling out my tribal enrollment card to settle the argument. Not everyone has a literal and actual get-out-of-bs-card but this is probably the single and only case where I would have relied on it to settle a dispute in this way. The insane view on skin color/racialism applied to every single personal interaction is toxic on so many levels. Watching the person backpedal was so gross to me personally, I could only assume the reason they do this stuff is for hierarchy games.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      super extra:

      Incidents like yours are much on my mind these days. Americans spend much of their time categorizing people by race — by visual inspection. It’s apartheid. It is also hard to argue against the idea that the U.S. is a profoundly racist country when every American is trained to inspect other people to categorize them by race. It’s racist, and it’s the national obsession.

      The really sensitive people in the U S of A say things like: But Jesus was really brown. But the Cherokees are brown. The Ojibwes are kind-a beige, though. But then Persians, Greeks and Italians are kind-a beige, but they aren’t Ojibwe. And Arabs!

      It’s a cultural habit that Americans, for all of their protestations, cannot shut off. Then they colonize the world with U.S. racist categorizations: Nefertiti, she’s “really” black in the American sense, right?

      Lucky that you had your official membership card. (Although even after all of the perfunctory “land acknowledgments,” don’t count on anyone recognizing what it means. “Oh, Zuni! They’re kind-of brown, right?”)

      As the inimitable Drusilla Foer said, “Diversità non mi piace perché ha in sé qualcosa di comparativo e una distanza che proprio non mi convince.” That is, I don’t care for “diversity” because it stands for something comparative, for a distance, which I don’t find convincing.

      1. super extra

        Thanks DJG. Yeah I wish I could say I had the presence of mind to be cool during my ‘teaching moment’ when I turned the tables but honestly I was completely outraged and offended, because I grew up in a place where some insane percentage of the local population was also in a tribe, related to someone who was, or knew many people who were (Oklahoma) and the sheer diversity of the tribes means you simply cannot make gross stereotypes about appearance. For example, this fall no matter who wins the runoff, the state will send a new Senator to congress who has tribal membership. One guy (Mullin) looks white and is Cherokee. The other looks black and is Chickasha (Shannon). The latter’s entire political persona is turning the tables on the ‘coalition of the ascendant’ thing by being as right wing and capitalist as possible and using the racial stuff as bait. The tone policing and shaming/scolding/teaching moment stuff is really, really not a winning tactic anywhere with any kind of racial diversity and poverty.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Here is an interesting story a co-worker at work once told me. Years ago she was living and working in Texas. A “ChicanX” co-worker who assumed that the teller of the story was also “ChicanX” by appearance ( which goes to show that not only the “wHITE” people are “visual-color-race” conscious here) accused my co-worker of being a “vendido” and etc. for speaking English instead of Spanish. And then demanded that my co-worker “speak her own language”.

        So my co-worker began speaking her “native” language. Which was Arabic. Hilarity ensued. . .

    2. Ghost in the Machine

      My mother (not Native American) really liked to wear Native American jewelry (including earrings!) which she bought from Native Americans when we traveled. The people selling the jewelry seemed fine with it. Isn’t it flattering when people think your cultural products are beautiful enough to pay for and wear?

      1. super extra

        I actually tried not to resort to the card because I don’t think policing people over their appearance is ever appropriate in a public work context! and in fact that was how I tried to redirect and defuse it, by saying it was part of a big collection of jewelry that I’d bought from artisans to support their work so I wasn’t sure why there was a problem. But this person was intent on a public display of superiority within racial contexts I guess and didn’t back down. There were similar issues with this person calling out others over hairstyles (box braids on a white girl) prior to this and I assumed she’d just gotten drunk on power and briefly stepped out of her lane. As she backpedaled she conceded to me that supporting artisan work was, indeed, a good thing.

    3. digi_owl

      “he reason they do this stuff is for hierarchy games.”


      It may have been going on for years beforehand, but i suspect Occupy was when it got mass attention. And from there we had politicians use it to try to game elections, finance people try to game boardrooms, and actors try to game Hollywood.

      In the end it becomes something of a gish gallop.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Agreed. Totally hierarchy games. Also: don’t underestimate the extent to which academia is full of: a) pathological personalities; b) vicious careerists; c) various species of trust-fund babies.

        In my experience, they are more interesting in this aspect of Academia than the actual stuff they are supposed to be interested in (actual quote from a fellow historian in grad school when asked if she read a prominent scholar of Puritanism who wrote primarily in the 1950s — “no, he’s too old!” That was ten plus years ago — and from an historian! Reels the mind).

        1. digi_owl

          A personal horror of mine are trust-fund babies wit a sociology degree.

          They seem to have some chaotic sparkle in their eyes afterwards…

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          And probably not just hierarchy games. Probably also moral superiority stuff-strutting and virtue self-awarding. Unless that is a subset of hierarchy games anyway.

    4. jr

      “Watching the person backpedal was so gross to me personally, I could only assume the reason they do this stuff is for hierarchy games.”

      Thanks for sharing that story. I had a similar, although less combative experience, years ago in a bar when a young lesbian saw fit to lecture me about my privilege as a non-minority. I informed her that as a bipolar person, I am not only in a minority but a minority that is considered definitionally inferior by literally almost everyone. I asked her if she had ever used “crazy” or “nuts” when describing someone.

      Mental illness tends to get less leeway from the “whole” than physical impairments do, as the “other-abled” are often viewed as symbols of endurance and inner strength. For whatever that is actually worth. They get their own Olympics and that’s a good thing. We’re just “off”. No one wins a medal for ignoring the cacophony of voices in one’s head as you go about your day.

      That being said, I would never give up my mania, as it is a Fount.

      As I’ve mentioned here before, I have a theory that lectures like the one you received are exactly about creating and reinforcing hierarchies of moral correctness. Whether it’s some a$$hole at work all the way up to a branch of government, academic department, or NGO. Through what strikes me as a doubtlessly unreflective, quasi-Puritanical framing, that righteousness is transmuted into perceived power. Chimps gonna chimp.

      1. hk

        There are minorities that people like that back away from, and there are those whom they apparently feel they can still “lecture” to about how to be a “proper X,” in pretense of “cultural sensitivity.”. This seems to happen a lot to Asian-Americans, especially since many non-Asian Americans have 1) a hodgepodge of stereotypical ideas about what Asia is and should be, mixing up multiple cultures that are quite different; 2) the notion that Asian Americans still are somehow “Asian” (often not true not only because we’d been here for a while and have been assimilating, but also because certain (somewhat) unusual groups in Asia were far more llikely to immigrate than not–far more Asian Americans are Christian than Asians from their ancestral countries, for example–although this is a function of 1) also).

        Honestly, people should just forget trying too hard to be “culturally sensitive” preemptively and just be friendly, unless they mean to feel “superior” from the beginning. If you make a mistake, just apologize and most people don’t mind.

    5. hunkerdown

      Of course. Property is more than just real estate and chattels. Anything that identifies its owner and is exclusive can be property.

      I would be very interested to see what would have happened had he been castigated for identity policing and warned that every time you overhear him trying it again will be occasion for a formal complaint to HR. That is, I wonder if they can be pushed onto the back foot, then off their high horse.

    6. CanCyn

      I’m so Un-woke (asleep?) I thought that when asking for an example of a ‘diverse mathematician’ that the interviewer had a particular kind of math in mind! I was expecting the tweet to be about maths illiteracy. Ha, ha!
      Adding …how have we come to the state in which people old enough and educated enough to be maths teachers might never have heard of the Holocaust?

    7. c_heale

      That is really sad, and exemplifies what has gone wrong with anti-racism in recent years.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Wasn’t “anti-racism” always about psychological domination and extortionism? Wasn’t the point of “anti-racism” always to extort public displays of self-humiliation from the target of the “anti-racism”?

    8. The Rev Kev

      Meanwhile and elsewhere-

      ‘Sall Grover
      Having to sign my name next to the title “birthing parent” on a government form is just too close to a Handmaids Tale dystopia for me to feel relaxed & “inclusive” to be honest, & I’m quite apprehensive of anyone who is happy to be called “birthing parent” on a government form.’


      On a government form.

        1. Sibiryak

          The Rev Kev: …the net effect of all those PC terms and all the rest of it is to basically erase women and I still cannot work out why.

          The idea, valid or not, is that biological females (sex) can be “men” (gender), therefore some “men” can get pregnant and give birth. Terms like “birthing parent” are advocated in order to be inclusive of both “men” and “women” who give birth.

          One of the fundamental problems with this transgender debate is the widespread failure– or flat out deliberate refusal– to distinguish biological sex from socially-constructed gender.

          1. digi_owl

            More like the problem is that they took a fully serviceable concept, gender ROLES, and shortened that to just gender. And in the process threw away concepts like tomboy.

            They keep trying to present it as progress, but for most of the world it is backsliding to a far more conservative era.

            And i can’t stop thinking that this comes back to the forever war on terror, and how it re-instated the warrior role.

            Because if we dig into the history of third genders, they invariably crop up in cultures with calcified warrior roles. This to sort out the men that for some reason can’t or won’t enter that role come adulthood.

            And the reason for reinstating the warrior role was in order to make signing up something aspirational to be cheered, so that Pentagon didn’t have to use conscription. Something they learned to avoid after Vietnam.

    9. Jeff V

      In a much lower stakes situation, an English friend of mine was in Seattle and was admiring some arts and crafts on display. The conversation with her American friend went along the lines of.

      “This is nice. It looks Indian to me.”
      “You can’t say Indian. It’s ‘Native American’.
      “No, Indian. As in, from India?”

      Another British friend of mine working for a multinational used (pre-pandemic) to have to visit their office in Chicago fairly regularly. I’ve never heard him say anything in the least bit offensive (to British ears) but apparently he had to be very careful in how he expressed himself in front of his American colleagues – none of whom ever took offence for themselves, but were very quick to take offence for other people.

  4. Eddie

    “Young voters flee Biden — but who is the alternative?”

    Kamala Harris? Non-starter, guaranteeing a GOP sweep of everything, once America gets a look at her.

    Gavin Newsom? An examination of San Francisco and then California under his “leadership” as mayor then governor is instructional.

    A zombie city being abandoned by conventions, businesses and parents of school age children, plus anyone with enough money to escape the rent-controlled city that glues the poor Democratic loyalists into it. Even they repudiated Soros’ D.A. Boudin, by 605 plus. A process of civic disintegration helped along by D.A. Kamala Harris, 2004-2011, followed by George Gascon, 2011-2019, who fled to L.A. and ruined that place with Progressive Prosecutions, followed by Boudin.

    The state, locked down by pointless and ineffectual Covid policy actions that destroyed probably half the small independent businesses that had existed, deprived school children of well over a year of instruction, led to crime waves–see the article on The Causes of Crime in today’s links, a major indictment of lockdowns effects on the courts.

    Newsom is a glamorous phony and a slimy toad who betrays those around him and those who voted for him. His sponsorship by the Getty Oil Family and the state Democratic Machine makes him an ideal candidate following the Peter Dale Scott’s refrain that
    “No politician is allowed to assume real power unless the elite have something on him.”


    1. Herbert

      Chesa Boudin, the S.F. D.A. was not recalled by 605 votes. Perhaps you fingerslipped and meant 60%?

      Maybe the Democrats could run “Latinix” George Gascon?

      “Ex Los Angeles District Attorney Cooley, who now runs his own firm, Steve Cooley & Associates, says Gascón “just does not know what he is doing!” He is a “functional outlaw.” He explained that when you become a District Attorney or a Deputy District Attorney you take an oath to uphold state laws and the Constitution.

      “Cooley claims that Gascón violated that oath within two minutes of his swearing-in.

      warned that Gascón is making his own laws. He is acting as if he thinks he is the State legislature or the voters passing an initiative. Cooley declared, “Gascon does not understand that when he takes the oath he has to follow it, not design his own system.”

      Has anyone noticed that Newsom has bought property in Montana next to his in- laws?

      “It was information that the governor’s office appeared loath to disclose. Although the office said Friday the governor had left California to spend time with family, it did not until Tuesday answer questions about where he was or when specifically he would return, a noticeable difference from communication surrounding other recent out-of-state trips. The governor’s office didn’t respond to a question about why that information wasn’t initially shared. But one possible reason could be that Montana is among the 22 states to which California has banned state-funded and state-sponsored travel, citing policies it deems discriminatory to LGBTQ+ people.”

      “Montana is also one of the states Newsom’s office has called out for restricting abortion access. Oh, and notice the oil services connection, ties in nicely with the Getty Oil Heirs who sponsored Newsom, who made sure the California never has had an oil extraction tax. Even “Oil industry controlled” Texas has that tax.


      1. Li’lD

        I used to refer to the “%” as “capital five” but never got a laugh so it’s out of the standup tight ten

    2. Socal Rhino

      I have been observing for some time that there is room for Republicans to take statewide offices in California as a party of effective, less corrupt government. They could look to Younkin for pointers.

      1. Pelham

        It says a lot when a private-equity guy is at least arguably preferable to a standard-issue Democrat.

      2. hunkerdown

        Is Tom Campbell available? I’d consider moving back just to vote him into the Governor’s office.

  5. hk

    WRT the tweet about Emmy Neither. It is shocking how contemptuous the people promoting “wokeness” are of their presumed audience’s intelligence.

  6. Mildred Montana

    From the Politico article: “The cumulative effect of the hearings, according to interviews with more than 20 Republican strategists, party officials and pollsters in recent days, has been to at least marginally weaken his support.”

    As Lambert likes to say, “marginally” is doing a lot of work there. Latest 2024 presidential election odds:

    Trump 7/5, DeSantis 2/1, Biden 5/1, Harris 13/1, Newsom 17/1 (with a bullet)


    Money talks, Politico bloviates.

    1. Pelham

      Yes, and in general I’ve noticed lots of press suggesting that Trump is losing at least some ground. But then I keep stumbling across actual numbers that suggest the opposite.

      Personally, I think there’s a solid section of the electorate that just wants to blow up the system (and I can sympathize). Trump with his dizzy record is the only one with any credibility on that score. The search for a less crazy, more competent and responsible Trump is built on an internal contradiction: competence and responsibility are the polar opposite of what the very heart of Trumpism is all about. If I’m right — and I concede I could be embarrassingly wrong — DeSantis and Youngkin will eventually go the way of Jeb.

  7. jsn

    “The Archive Editor of The New Yorker would like a word:”

    I may be obtuse, but I don’t get what the Abrome tweet chain has to do with The New Yorker.

    1. Wukchumni

      Oh, oh, oh (Oh, oh, oh)
      You’re nostalgic for the old New Yorker
      You should know the score by now (You should know by now)
      You’ve given up on the new New Yorker

      Remember New Yorkers like McPhee & Angell, ooh, ooh, ooh

      Music plays & movie reviews, everyone’s Big Apple news
      Makin’ neoliberalism and findin’ Obama
      There you are, lost in the shadows
      Searchin’ for substance (Searchin’ for someone)
      To set you free from being the blase New Yorker

      And, whoa
      Where did all those yesterdays go?
      When you still believed
      Life could really be like a Broadway show
      You were the star, when did it close?

      Oh, oh, oh (Oh, oh, oh)
      You’re nostalgic for the old New Yorker
      No one goes there anymore
      For the new New Yorker
      (Runnin’ pretty bad, nothing like the New Yorker of yore)

      Odyssey – Native New Yorker (1977) HD


  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Hill, on Biden’s age.

    This does indeed stick out: “Time is not on Biden’s side. But time is the one thing Democrats have.”

    In a country waging a proxy war, with a foreign policy run by a high-school clique, with voodoo economics ascendant, and awash in gunzez, and time is what Democrats have?

    One must be kidding. One doesn’t have to go all “fierce urgency of now.”

    All one has to ask is: What is to be done?

    Waiting out the demands of the populace is an ill-advised tactic.

    1. Tom Stone

      Make that a country awash with militarized police, eavesdropping devices, agents provocateur and “Security” cameras.

      1. Mikel

        And that’s the epitome of short-term thinking because it solves ZERO long-term problems.

  9. Glossolalia

    I was genuinely interested to read that Twitter thread about how the school handled covid so well but then the very first thing made me throw up in my mouth a little:

    First, we prioritized community care over white, upper middle class, reactionary insecurity.

    I imagine by the end of the thread they will have crowbarred in trans rights, climate change, and gun violence?

    1. hunkerdown

      The white upper middle are the bulk of those who cynically virtue signal all those things, so I doubt it.

  10. drumlin woodchuckles

    @Tom Pfotzer, I left my best amateur thoughts about why kernza fails in three years back at the Perennial Problem in Agriculture thread, in case you are interested.

  11. drumlin woodchuckles

    Abortion . . . Abortion . . .

    We need a very simple name for the Legal Abortion States as against the Illegal Abortion States. So simple that even the Zero Attention Span Majority people can remember it.

    I suggest . . . Probortion States versus Antibortion States. That’s the shortest I can make it.

    And remember , the Zero Attention Span majority is not going to spend the endless minutes it takes to parse out the oh-so-clever Intellectual arguments made by oh-so-clever Intellectuals about the subtletization of the nuancification of the Brilliant Intellectual differences between ” pro-freedom-of-choice” as against “pro-abortion” Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see if I am wrong.

    1. hunkerdown

      Private uterus vs. state uterus.

      (Somehow, the social uterus is never mentioned. It is necessary to keep up the middle-class belief that the unlanded workers are morally inferior and incapable of controlling their lusts. I had the same complaint about the mythical universe that Krems, who is a $250 HRC donor according to Opensecrets, and Haselton were trying to construct in that condescending The Conversation piece in Links, where piety for their mythical white universe was assumed. Maybe I should try rereading that piece in the voice of Rich Fulcher.)

    2. cgregory

      How about “aborticentric” states, where the focus on abortion is so great as to preclude care for actual human life, vs. “personal decision” states, where people have the right to decide whether they can nurture a real child fo 18 years?

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Every one of these word-suggestions is a possible super-simple brain-driving choice, and all could be tried out in the “wild public” to see if any catch on and spread.

      I like my own words . . . “probortion” and “antibortion” . . . . but then I would, wouldn’t I? given that I invented them . . .

      So people should try words words words to see what takes off.

      For people who would rather we all be fighting for something ” more important” like “solidarity” or “socialism” or “national health care” or whatever . . . . if a hundred million people consider something important enough to vote themselves into poverty and destitution in order to impose that something on a different hundred million people, that hundred million people has made that thing very important.

      Sometimes we go to war on the battlefield we have, not the battlefield we wish we had or would prefer to have at some later time.

      1. super extra

        you should keep an eye on the Oklahoma governor’s race this election season: heavy infestation with heritage foundation-approved goons, lots of financial scandals with the current gov who passes any abortion-related legislation that crosses his desk (and lies about it being due to oklahomans “overwhelming” support for that when polling does not and has never supported his assertion), running on the fumes of really bad public-private partnerships that haven’t panned out and simply being a Republican. Going up against a woman who has been involved in breaking one of the bigger of those financial scandals and seems to be stepping around calling explicitly for expanding the state-level medicare-for-all-making-less-than-$25k to everyone. I think she’s trying to avoid making the entire race about abortion too early in the campaign or writing checks she can’t cash. She also switched parties to run against the current gov. I think she has a possibility of winning in this very weird year!

        Anyway if she does win, and then does expand Soonercare to everyone without falling into the pitfalls around paying for abortion as part of it, then I think that could represent the start of a model for other states and maybe the national level to follow.

        Also gentle reminder that the “antiabortion” states are not homogenous and are in many cases the people are just as much hostages and victims of their “leaders” as they are constituents.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Good point. At what point do the held-hostage people rise up and beat down their hostage-takers?

          I hope the anti-goon woman you write about is able to win and having never lived in Oklahoma, I have zero thoughts or advice on how she might do so.

      1. ambrit

        In that case, pregnant women, (and it generally is women, for some strange reason,) would get two votes in elections in those states.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps the Yes Men could disguise themselves as anti-abortion activists and demonstrate and etc.
        with the slogan . . . ” Unborn Lives Matter. Born Lives Don’t” and see how the antibortionists respond.

    4. marym

      It’s not easy to find terminology suitable for a family blog for those who would vote for this, whatever state they live in.

      “The National [zygote’s] Right to Life Committee is lobbying states to enact legislation it’s drafted that would make it a crime to advertise information about abortion pills or other methods of ending a pregnancy…The scope is broad and suggests penalizing anyone who even conveys information about the procedure. State lawmakers in Indiana and South Carolina have already shown interest.

      …Proponents of abortion rights said the First Amendment and a Supreme Court precedent should protect advertisers, but the court’s adherence to precedent is in flux.”


      In flux …


    5. Eclair

      Drumlin woodchucks, I’m kinda fond of the old ‘free states vs slave states’ myself. Being one of those humans who has experienced the joys of being a ‘birthing parent’ and all and who has had a pregnancy termination as well. It was nice to have a choice.

  12. fjallstrom

    Re the patching of the electoral college process.

    Yes, it is good!

    Far as I can tell, this was the serious coup attempt and it was legal. The riot was both unnecessary to it and undermined it. Not that it was likely to succeed anyway considering how many things that needed to go Trump’s way, and they didn’t even manage to get Pence onboard. But the fact that if Pence had gone with the program, a constitutional crisis would have occurred is enough reason to patch up the process.

  13. curlydan

    The Kansas abortion amendment definitely is hot here in the state. Everyone is energized, yard signs are out of control, so I expect a HUUGE turnout for a primary election that Democrats normally would not care much about.

    I agree with the polling that gives the anti-abortion people (aka “Value Them Both”–barf) the edge. Basically, it’s Kansas City (KS), Lawrence, and the northern half of Johnson County (KS’s largest county and a suburb of Kansas City, MO) forming the “pro-choice” block versus Wichita (the biggest city and still fairly conservative), Olathe (a largely conservative Kansas City suburb), and every bit of rural area in the state forming the “pro-life block”. Maybe Topeka is 50-50? With that split, I’m guessing it goes to the anti-abortion people by a few percentage points.

    But the “Value Them Both” supporters are basically full of crap when they say this amendment would let them put “limits” on abortion. You can bet if they win, they go for blood and try to outlaw abortion with their nutty legislators in tow.

  14. petal

    Leahy returns to hospital for 2nd hip operation

    “WASHINGTON (WCAX) – Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy was back at the hospital Tuesday for a second operation to repair his hip fractured in a fall last month.

    Officials in Leahy’s office on Wednesday said the senator has continued to make progress in his rehabilitation following the initial operation but that on Tuesday his surgical team “found it necessary to perform an additional surgery to help advance his recovery.” They say he is once again in his rehabilitation room and working with physical therapists to return home as soon as possible.

    The 82-year-old initially broke his hip after falling at his McLean, Virginia, home on June 30.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      I would expect NATO to be panicking that all the Russian weapons systems are getting real-life testing on the battlefield to sort out the winners and losers. Those western weapons that have been sent to the Ukraine and are getting the same sort of testing and too many are coming up short as they are too fragile on the battlefield as well as being far too expensive. Even those M777 howitzers have shown themselves to be too easily damaged in action. That sort of thing is not good for weapon sales you know. How many countries are going around saying, for example, ‘Man, we gotta get ourselves some of those Javelin AGMs because they work so well.’

  15. flora

    While the Dems keep the cameras focused on the Jan 6 committee and LARP protests, what’s been happening behind the scenes? Oh right, the largest Mil budget in history…

    Taibbi’s latest, public excerpt:

    The Great American Military Rebrand
    A new defense bill crammed with political pork smashes records, but you likely didn’t hear the news, because War is Good again


    “A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
    ― H.L. Mencken

  16. Wukchumni

    He rode into town on Willie Brown’s horse
    Got a parking & traffic job up north
    His chances were swingin’ in the breeze
    All the recall election posters had pictures of he

    Tied what was left of his hopes to a meal Prix Fixe
    Walked into a restaurant, they called the French Laundry’
    He ordered up sans mask, they called for his head
    He survived the likes of Elder, then he still led

    He used to have Kimberly Guilfoyle right by his side
    He’s the greasy stuff California Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared for his 2024 ride

    You can only imagine the electorate was eyeballing he
    Staring down from their screens you see
    Some women claimed he caused a lack of breath
    He was winning hearts being handsome & not near death
    Some found him tragically hip, as good as it gets

    He’s got Getty, right by his side
    He’s the greasy stuff California Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared for his 2024 ride

    He uncorked a bottle, the pro wino whined
    Why drink anything from the late teens?
    ’bout that time the paparazzi snuck in
    And there stood some asshole all uncovered in sin
    Do as I say-not as I do, he said ‘That’s no lie’
    Almost blew a hole in his chances just as big as the sky

    He’s got Pelosi, right by his side
    He’s the greasy stuff California Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared for his 2024 ride

    California Kid, by the Beat Farmers


  17. Wukchumni

    The town of Tooleville in Tulare County is once again without water. The town, which has struggled for years with dropping groundwater levels and contamination issues, saw its wells dry up over the weekend.

    On Friday, residents called nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability reporting very low water pressure and some with no water at all, said Elvia Olea, policy advocate for Leadership Counsel.

    This is the second town in Tulare County to lose water this summer. East Orosi, about 30 miles north of Tooleville, was without water for 24 hours when one of its two wells went down July 12, according to news reports. A pump was installed and restored water to East Orosi.

    Tooleville, meanwhile, is surviving on water hauled in to storage tanks. The town has two storage tanks which were installed by Visalia-based nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises. On Saturday, the community was switched over to the storage tanks which started receiving 27,000 gallons of hauled water per day after the outage.

    Tooleville sits in a sea of agriculture fields. Farmers received little to no surface water this year because of the ongoing drought, pushing them to rely heavily on pumping groundwater. That has driven Tooleville’s water levels lower, said Claiborne. Drilling new, deeper wells in Tooleville isn’t an option, he added. Test wells have shown that new wells would produce water that is unsafe to drink.


    Well for starters, ‘Toolevile’ sounds like a more appropriate name for Washington DC, but it shows where things are going-sadly.

    Ag is ruining it for everybody, as they are draining aquifers to keep primarily tree food crops going when getting no water from the state, it isn’t as if they can just stop watering them, eh?

    Tooleville is more or less a never ending carpet of citrus orchards, all needing their fix.

    1. Mikel

      ” Our 2021-22 academic year just ended yesterday.

      We just finished our 3rd year without a single case of COVID-19 in the space. That means not a single person was exposed “at school.” Doubly impressive given the transmissibility of the current variants.
      How did we do it?
      — Abrome (@AbromeEd) July 9, 2022

      THIS PART:
      Jul 9
      We also filtered our indoor air. Each room was equipped with HEPA filtration systems or Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, each with a CADR that would deliver at least 6 ACH per room based on room volume, and 8 ACH in bathrooms.

      They paid attention to the BATHROOMS…

  18. The Rev Kev

    “C.I.A. Director Issues Warning After Possible Noose Is Found Near Facility”

    Maybe they should go get Bubba Wallace to go check it out.

  19. Michael Ismoe

    Re: Buttigieg word salad at Goldman Sacks game

    What does this even mean:

    It means Mayo Pete just picked up campaign checks for 2024. Duh. From the same people who brought you Barack Obama…..

  20. antidlc


    Officials reorganize HHS to boost pandemic response
    Plan would elevate ASPR, which plays key role in emergencies, to be an agency on par with CDC, FDA

    The Biden administration is reorganizing the federal health department to create an independent division that would lead the nation’s pandemic response, amid frustrations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The move elevates a roughly 1,000-person team — known as the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, or ASPR — into a separate division, charged with coordinating the nation’s response to health emergencies, according to seven people briefed on the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment.

    1. Tom Stone

      Wow, great news about a Pandemic Czar being appointed, I’m sure they will be up and running within a year if things go well.

    1. ambrit

      I would venture to suggest that, if the “Progressive Thought Leaders” were at all serious about the issue in play, they would welcome the notoriety and publicity of being seen to “resist arrest.”
      I mean, one of Martin Luther King Jr’s most famous documents is his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
      The comment from our esteemed hostess about the proper place for a ‘Thought Leader’ is correct insofar as it goes. However, I will suggest that the ‘Thought Leaders’ have two options available to them to make effective political points. The first is the “Leading the Mob” Bully Pulpit option, and the second is the “Impassioned Opposition” option. At that point, the decision is down to the preferred long term strategy. Does “The Squad” even have a co-ordinated strategy? Or are they simply reacting to events? If the latter, then they are not playing serious politics.

      1. anon y'mouse

        fake handcuffs fake protesting an empty courthouse.

        another “we slept on these stairs after congress went on holiday for the soon-to-be homeless, after we did almost nothing while we were members in session”.

        this is repellant, no matter what their intentions.

  21. Jason Boxman

    Big news at the Walgreens tracker! They’re including more tests, so the overall positivity went down, but there are many more tests taken into account. Aegis PCR & Rapid NAAT now. The notes tab also has 3 updates for today! Positively is now 37.1%. Now, we’re just under the peak positively from Jan versus above it, for what that’s worth.

    Stay safe!

  22. Mikel

    “California’s low-cost insulin plans receive $100m manufacturing boost”

    “…The state plans to work directly with a contract manufacturing organization (CMO) to manufacture low-cost insulin. The documents state that a partnership with a CMO would be cheaper than the state directly manufacturing insulin. ‘Nothing epitomises market failures more than the cost of insulin,’ Newsom said in a video posted on Twitter.” • Good, but not enough. Not nearly enough.

    Well, that is a problem that fed and state governments face. They haven’t done anything directly in so long that they don’t have the capicity, training, processes, interest, infrastructure, __________(fill in the blank), to now take on big projects.
    It would have been an interesting baby step (see what works and what doesn’t, etc) for the state to take toward bigger health care initiatives. And maybe that could be a reason the plan was thrown off that course with a quickness.

    1. anon y'mouse

      non-accelerationism is not an option anymore, regardless of how bad it may be.

      it’s happening by itself almost by “accident”.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . should the descent into terrain be guided or unguided? And if guided, to what impact point?

        If I were to combine Beau’s video with your comment, I would have to conclude that the ongoing descent into terrain will be no fun, whether guided or unguided. Slower would be better than faster, and hitting at a shallower angle would be better than hitting at a steeper angle. And those of us who are capable of doing “something” at the local level should do that something, so as to make the after-impact reality more survivable than otherwise.

  23. ChrisRUEcon


    “Tunneling nanotubes provide a route for SARS-CoV-2 spreading”

    We are so family-blogged

    Eric Topol tweet is where I found it … (via #Twitter)

    This tweet has a nice video explaining in lay person’s terms.

  24. Lou Anton

    >Walgreens COVID Tracker

    The total tests had a large jump compared to what was reported in previous days. Now: 200k per week; yesterday: more like 40k.

    Answer is in the footnotes on page 5:

    To continue maintaining an accurate representation of the COVID-19 testing population, Rapid Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (Rapid) and test data have been added to the ‘COVID-19 Positivity Tracker’ map and ‘Positivity Rate by Vaccination Status’ graph. These Rapid tests make up ~50-70% of Walgreens testing population at any given time, including communities where PCR testing may not be available.

    Unsure if the rapid tests also detect variant. Change log doesn’t mention that, so I presume they do.

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