2:00PM Water Cooler 7/25/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle presenting Rochelle Walensky with her award, and so please check back in just a few minutes after I’ve added a bit to Politics. –lambert UPDATE All done.

Bird Song of the Day

Pink-breasted Lark, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Recordist’s Notes: “Song of two birds from the ground.” I am keeping on with larks because there are so many of them!

* * *


“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

“Don’t let Republicans rehabilitate their party through the 6 January hearings” [Eoin Higgins, The New Statesman]. “Having Cheney and Kinzinger take such prominent roles in the hearings serves a clear purpose: it allows House Democrats to make a plausible argument that there’s at least a whiff of bipartisanship to the committee. That’s been made necessary by the refusal of Republicans to even entertain the possibility of participating in the hearings…. But there’s another side to the strategy, one that may end up having deleterious effects on the country’s democracy. Kinzinger and Cheney’s positions on the committee are opening the door to a wholesale rehabilitation not only of their own reputations and histories, but those of the Republican Party too. And yet, this reset runs up against a number of uncomfortable facts that no amount of whitewashing can erase. Despite their respective rebrands as de facto members of the anti-MAGA (Make America Great Again) coalition, both Kinzinger and Cheney were enthusiastic backers of the Trump agenda during the former president’s term. According to FiveThirtyEight’s tracker, Cheney voted with Trump 93 per cent of the time and Kinzinger, 90 per cent of the time – hardly the actions of politicians bravely resisting Trump’s authority.” • I am aghast that anybody could consider rehabilitating the Republican Party, especially when David Frum is editor of The Atlantic, et cetera et cetera et cetera et cetera.


“Lawyers preparing for abortion prosecutions warn about health care, data privacy” [Texas Tribune]. “In January, a 26-year-old woman in rural South Texas went to Starr County Memorial Hospital for complications related to a self-managed abortion. A nurse at the hospital reported her to law enforcement, and in April, the woman was charged with murder and imprisoned on a $500,000 bond. The district attorney later dismissed the charges, acknowledging that Texas law specifically exempts someone who has an abortion from being prosecuted for murder. Despite the legal missteps, this case tread a very familiar path for pregnancy criminalization. ‘The most common way that a criminal case begins is that they are reported by a medical provider,’ [Emma Roth, staff attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women] said.” There’s HIPAA, but “HIPAA applies only to ‘covered entities,’ like health care providers and insurers. Other health care services, including health tracking apps, are not protected by HIPAA and can potentially leave a trail of breadcrumbs that could help law enforcement identify illegal abortions.” • The whole article is well worth a read.

Biden Administration

“COVID-19 ‘is going to be with us forever,’ White House says” [Yahoo News] (July 23). On SARS-CoV-2: “‘This virus is going to be with us forever,’ Jha said during a press briefing otherwise devoted to an update on the president’s health. ‘It’s really, really important that people build up their immunity against this virus,’ he added, emphasizing that vaccination is the best means of doing so.” • Mission accomplished!

“Transcript: White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha on ‘Face the Nation,’ July 24, 2022” [CBS]. On monkeypox: “The plan is to eliminate this virus from the United States. I think we can do that we’ve got the vaccines, and we’ve got the diagnostic tests.” • Oh.


* * *

AZ: “Trump looked surprised when his supporters loudly booed him at an Arizona rally over his Congress endorsement” [Insider]. “Former President Donald Trump appeared flustered when he was booed at a rally in Arizona on Friday when speaking about one of his recent Congress endorsements. Trump, used to adulation from his super-loyal MAGA followers, looked uncomfortable when he hyped Eli Crane, a candidate in the Arizona GOP congressional primary, and the crowd responded negatively, in large part. Former President Donald Trump appeared flustered when he was booed at a rally in Arizona on Friday when speaking about one of his recent Congress endorsements. Trump, used to adulation from his super-loyal MAGA followers, looked uncomfortable when he hyped Eli Crane, a candidate in the Arizona GOP congressional primary, and the crowd responded negatively, in large part.” • Trump learns to fear the base?

PA: “John Fetterman inches back onto the campaign trail in Philly with first fund-raiser appearances since stroke” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, largely absent from the campaign trail for two months, is slowly resuming his campaign after a stroke that nearly killed him…. Democratic Jewish Outreach Pennsylvania hosted a Thursday evening fund-raiser attended by about 150 people, many politically engaged Jewish Democrats from the region. The evening event, held at a private residence in Wynnewood, was closed to the media. Fetterman received a standing ovation as he walked outside to meet the friendly crowd. He spoke for about 25 minutes, according to attendees, who described him as sharp and energetic. He did not take questions, but stayed behind afterward to chat with the guests and take pictures. ‘Frankly, I think the people in the audience were more nervous than he was about, ‘Would he be able to do this?’” said Steve Irwin, a board member for the group and lawyer from Pittsburgh who attended. ‘But he spoke seamlessly. He really seemed like John. He was very positive, very energetic, and he showed a warmth that I don’t think he often allowed to come through before the stroke.'” • We’ll see.

PA: “Fetterman: ’100% able’ to run for Pa. Senate after stroke” [Associated Press]. “In his first media interview since having a stroke two months ago, Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman of Pennsylvania said Wednesday he is ‘100% able to run fully and to win’ against Republican Mehmet Oz in November. Fetterman, speaking over video with a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter, disclosed for the first time that he is having lingering, sporadic difficulties with hearing and speaking. But Fetterman, 52, insisted he has ‘no physical limits,’ noted he is working with a speech therapist and said he would not run if he thought he could not endure the demands of a campaign. ‘I would never be in this if we were not absolutely, 100% able to run fully and to win — and we believe that we are,’ Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor, told the newspaper.” • We’ll see.


“Trump’s silence on Jan. 6 is damning” [New York Post]. But the URL: trumps-jan-6-silence-renders-him-unworthy-for-2024-reelection. Presumably somebody checked with Rupert before running this?

Republican Funhouse

“Embrace for Hungary’s Orban deepens among US conservatives” [Associated Press]. “When heads of state visit the U.S., the top item on their itinerary is usually a White House visit. For Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban next month, it will be addressing a conference of conservative activists in Dallas. Orban’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he’ll be joined by former President Donald Trump and right-wing icons such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is the most dramatic indication yet of how a leader criticized for pushing anti-democratic principles has become a hero to segments of the Republican Party. Orban has curbed immigration and stymied those who envision a more middle-of-the-road European democracy for their country. He’s done so by seizing control of Hungary’s judiciary and media, leading many international analysts to label him as the face of a new wave of authoritarianism. He also is accused of enabling widespread corruption and nepotism, using state resources to enrich a tight circle of political allies.” • I remember when Rod Dreher went to Hungary, which he seemed to regard as the last dying light of Western Civilization. I never thought of Dreher as a conservative movement thought leader, but perhaps I was wrong. He was certainly firstest with the mostest, at least in the mainstream.

I used to post like this all the time, back in the day:

“Getting to the Bottom of Face Processing. Species-Specific Inversion Effects for Faces and Behinds in Humans and Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes)” [PLOS One]. From the Abstract: ” In four different delayed matching-to-sample tasks with upright and inverted body parts, we show that humans demonstrate a face, but not a behind inversion effect and that chimpanzees show a behind, but no clear face inversion effect. The findings suggest an evolutionary shift in socio-sexual signalling function from behinds to faces, two hairless, symmetrical and attractive body parts, which might have attuned the human brain to process faces, and the human face to become more behind-like.” For example:

What can I say? It was my first thought. (Perhaps this explains why he grew the beard.)

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.

* * *

Oh, come on:

Does anyone really believe that Paul turned to Nancy and said “Hey, honey…..” When did they get married? The Harding Administration? He didn’t have to, ffs!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Class Arithmetic” [Policy Tensor]. “It took years after the shock of 2016 for Democrats to confront the fact that the GOP had taken over the mantle of the working-class party. Many still refuse to face the facts. First, the empirical pattern of class-partisan realignment was treated as incredulous [sic]. Then, once the pattern was conceded to be robust, it was blamed on a presumably racially-resentful white working class (always a handy stereotype in elite discourse). Finally, as working-class ‘people of color,’ above all, Hispanics, began to abandon the elite party for the party of the working class, panic has broken out in the ranks. It has become increasingly clear that the GOP, not the Democrats, is destined, by class arithmetic, not racial demography, to emerge as the hegemonic party of the 2020s; if indeed not beyond. The changing class composition of their coalitions is transforming both parties. Democrats are increasingly unable to contain the ideological excesses of professional class Millennials — Democrats to the last man. The GOP, on the other hand, has comprehensively failed to contain the working class revolt. The future of American democracy hangs in the balance….. Because of redundancy in check writers — there are six hundred billionaires in America and many thousands of loaded firms — the struggle over economic policy is where the changing class coalition meets elite politics. In this Republican game, the working class emerges as a kingmaker. For it is precisely the working class sympathy for economic nationalism that has shuffled the deck. Indeed, the economic nationalists see their protectionist formula as a solution to the crisis of the working class. The idea is that working class fortunes can be restored by the traditional American medicine of protectionism and corporate welfare.” • A very, very interesting piece. I suppose this is why Ruy Teixeira jumped ship from CAP to AEI — after leading liberal Democrats down the primrose path of identity politics, too. Rather rich, like (no doubt) quondam Democratic strategist Teixeira himself.

“Congress Can’t Interpret the 12th Amendment” [The American Conservative]. “In the wake of the 2020 election, many questions arose about the power of the vice president of the United States during the counting of the electoral votes. The 12th Amendment provides that, in the counting of electoral votes, the president of the Senate (the vice president) shall ‘in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.’ The clause is ambiguous; clearly, the vice president is tasked with opening the certificates (the electoral votes certified by the states). But, it is not clear from the text alone that the vice president has the authority to count the votes, because of the use of the passive voice: it says ‘the votes shall then be counted,’ rather than the vice president ‘shall count the votes.'” The article’s point: “the point is this: the authority to open the certified electoral votes from the states and count them, as well as the question of which state-level actor has the final authority to certify election results, are constitutional questions, not statutory ones.” • For me, the discussion centers what must be the starting point for any definition of a political party: The ballot. The ballot line, ballot access, and ballot counting. (Of course, Federalism makes our balloting system fractal; but the Republicans are not cray cray to focus on the topic, regardless of cray cray about any particular election. In fact, they are thinking, and acting, strategically.)

Good point:

Certainly true for the Reformation; Luther wrote some really, really great hymns it’s a pleasure to sing even today. Somewhere I picked up the saying, “A singing congregation cannot be beaten,” but I don’t know where. Certainly applies here!


I’m really surprised that Rochelle Walensky hasn’t won the Sociopath of the Day Award; perhaps there were just too many opportunities to pick just one. Anyhow, I had to get up from my machine and walk around a little after I read this transcript:

MR. DIAMOND: Let’s stay on the White House for a second. The White House has pledged to go beyond CDC guidance in caring for President Biden, for example, to make sure that he stays in isolation until he tests negative. If the White House thinks that’s the right approach for the president, shouldn’t that be the right approach for all Americans?

Let the bafflegab begin:

DR. WALENSKY: Yeah, I think we can all agree that the president’s protocols likely go above and beyond and have the resources to go above and beyond what every American is able and has the capacity to do. As we put forward our CDC guidance, we have to do so so that they are relevant, feasible, followable by Americans…..

So we should never put forward guidance that 100% of the population can follow? We should never try to elevate our game? We should never give people the effing resources so that they could follow best practice guidance instead of the lowest common denominator? We should never engineer scientific communication to encourage, as it were, a good standard? I can certainly understand why the molasses-brained, flaccid, and democidal administration hired Walensky.

….and that is Americans that live in urban jurisdictions and rural jurisdictions, that have resources and less resources, that have, you know, work constraints and many other things. So, when we put forward our guidance, we do so so that they reflect such that every American is able to follow them. We have said in our isolation guidance–that is guidance after you have been infected–that you really should stay home for those first five days. You shouldn’t consider going out after those five days unless your symptoms have really fully resolved. And if they have, you should wear a mask if you decide to go out for those second five days.

I’m not even going to go into why Walensky’s five day “guidance” [goes in search of bucket].

* * *

“Nasal Drug Delivery Technology Market Report 2022-2032” (analyst report) [VisionGain]. Not nasal vaccines specifically, but nasal delivery devices: “Nasal inhalation devices are subject to ongoing innovation by pharmaceutical firms and device partners to improve the care and support offered to patients, in addition to their intuitive design. In the case of emergency treatments, for example, training kits that closely mimic the real-life experience of administering a nasal spray have been designed with the goal of improving compliance and lowering mortality risk. Lock-out mechanisms on devices are also being developed to improve patient safety, while the introduction of laterally actuated nasal sprays gives more comfort and simplicity for some patient populations. Dose counters have long been recognized as aiding adherence, and fast technological advancements have expanded on this foundation to build an ecosystem of linked devices that encourage higher adherence in a more ‘active’ way.” • No apps, please.

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: “Put Your Face in Airplane Mode” [The Atlantic]. “Here’s the cheat code: Instead of masking up for your whole flight, just cover up at the start and end of it. Those crucial few minutes—first when you’re boarding the plane, and then after you’ve landed—account for only a sliver of your travel time, but they are by far the riskiest for breathing in viral particles. Everyone already knows to switch off cellphone service when their flight is about to leave the gate, and then to turn it on the second they’ve landed. Something like the same principle could work for masking, too. Call it “airplane mode” for your face: Keep your mask in place until your plane is in the air, and then put it on again after you land. Otherwise, you’re free to breathe about the cabin.” The Aranet4 meters are telling us something like this. Let’s just remember that low(ered) risk is not the same as no risk. And of course, this “cheat code” doesn’t work in all cases. As the author’s lead makes clear:

As we sat on the JFK tarmac for a solid two hours, a maskless woman directly in front of me didn’t stop coughing. They were sputtering, throaty noises like nothing I have heard before: Less your usual ack and more like huh-khleagggghhh.

Well, the maskless woman made her personal risk assessment, so what’s the issue?

• Maskstravaganza: “Reduction of secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in households by face mask use, disinfection and social distancing: a cohort study in Beijing, China” [BMJ Global]. From the resutls: “Face mask use by the primary case and family contacts before the primary case developed symptoms was 79% effective in reducing transmission.” • There’s more here on fomites, which I will address in a future post.

• ”Endemic Covid-19 Looks Pretty Brutal” [David Wallace-Wells, New York Times]. “But where once we saw morality plays, in many cases justifiably, we may now more clearly see the underlying landscape of the disease as a once-in-a-generation, or perhaps once-in-a-century, pandemic event, against which many nations of the world were able to marshal first human resources and then the incredible power of pharmaceutical innovation — though not quite well enough to overcome our social and political dysfunctions or to deliver a truly miraculous and permanent pandemic exit.” • I’m not sure Wallace-Wells is that childishly optimistic, but why would anyone be?

* * *

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

Lambert here: 91-DIVOC updating again, fortunately; I assumet there was a glitch at Johns Hopkins, or a glitch that manifested there.

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 ~123,000. Today, it’s ~123,300 and 123,300 * 6 = a Biden line at 739,800 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:

The South:

Drop in Florida drives the national case count

The West:


NOT UPDATED From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, July 19:

1.1%. Up. (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 21, 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?

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 21:

Status quo for counties but more yellow than red.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 21:

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].

Variant data, national (Walgreens), July 10:

Variant data, national (CDC), July 20:

BA.5 moving along nicely.


Wastewater data (CDC), Jul 19:

I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest levels (somewhat like Rapid Riser Counties, see on here). What’s visible is that a lot of cities are in trouble; but that coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border. 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.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,051,996 1,051,235. 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 Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas decreased to -22.6 in July of 2022 from -17.7 in June, remaining the lowest since May 2020. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, was largely unchanged at 3.8, a reading well below average but still indicative of growth. The new orders index remained negative at -9.2 (vs-7.3 in June) and the growth rate of orders index also remained negative but edged up to -12.0. The capacity utilization index was unchanged at 3.5, and the shipments index ticked up to 4.3. Labor market measures continued to indicate robust employment growth and longer workweeks.”

The Economy: “United States Chicago Fed National Activity Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Fed National Activity Index was unchanged at -0.19 in June of 2022 from a downwardly revised -0.19 in May. The index remained at low levels not seen since February of 2021, pointing to steady although below average economic growth.”

* * *

Tech: “BMW’s Heated Seat Subscription Fee Will Start a War With Hackers” [Bloomberg]. “f you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve heard about BMW’s controversial decision to charge $18 per month for heated seats. BMW’s response to the public outcry clarified that it’s only enabling a subscription for owners that didn’t purchase heated seats when the car left the lot, but that ended up causing even more drama for the luxury brand given that people learned that BMW’s seats have the hardware already installed—just not activated without greasing the automaker’s palm. As of now, this foray into ‘Everything as a Subscription’ is only for select markets and for specific products in those places. That hasn’t kept the rest of the world from preparing for the inevitable. Experienced vehicle coders are already looking into how this subscription model can be defeated using software-based tools already available on the market.” • Pass the popcorn.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 27 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 22 at 1:33 PM EDT

The Gallery

I did a good bit of collage as a natural extension of doing paste-up, but Ernst FTW:

Zeitgeist Watch

“Lawsuit: Dallas Taco Bell manager poured scalding water on customers over incorrect order” [USA Today]. “The two Black females were locked in the fast-food restaurant’s dining room by the manager after they tried to resolve an issue with their $30 order prepared incorrectly twice in the drive-through, according to a statement from [lawyer Ben] Crump’s office sent to USA TODAY. The pair discussed their order with store employees for almost ten minutes, “wondering why the employees could not simply go back and prepare the food that they had paid for,” the lawsuit alleges. ‘The employees refused to do so and became combative.’ The restaurant manager, the suit continues, had not been involved in any of the conversations in the dining room, but came from behind the counter with a scalding bucket of water and poured it onto the woman and the minor.”

“A Taste for Cannibalism?” [New York Times]. “As to what may be fueling the desire for cannibalism stories today, Ms. Lyle, the ‘Yellowjackets’ co-creator, said, ‘I think that we’re obviously in a very strange moment.’ She listed the pandemic, climate change, school shootings and years of political cacophony as possible factors. ‘I feel like the unthinkable has become the thinkable,’ Ms. Lyle said, ‘and cannibalism is very much squarely in that category of the unthinkable.'” • Better than eating bugs, I suppose.

News of the Wired

“Mechanics invent an axle that can achieve steering angles of up to 80 degrees” [Interesting Engineering]. “U.S.- German auto parts company ZF has engineered a strut suspension front axle concept that allows the front wheels to turn up to an incredible 80 degrees. The invention is called EasyTurn…. Imagine no longer having to worry about tight spaces or tricky U-turns.” • Although we don’t know if its ready for to market.

* * *

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 Angie Neer:

Angie Neer writes: “This is along a footpath next to an interchange on interstate 90. I think the highway department sprinkled a seed assortment here after they did some work last year. At least, I don’t think this concentration of pretty plants arose spontaneously in this place. Regardless, it makes a soothing counterpoint to the cars roaring past in the background.” I wish my skies always cmae out so nice. And perhaps this patch is the work of a guerrilla gardener (a painless and fun way to make the world a little better).

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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. Calvin

    ?Rochelle Walensky hasn’t won the Sociopath of the Day Award?

    Nice photoshopped portrait of her provided by the CDC.
    Is it just me, or is she the epitome of a pencil-necked bureaucrat?

    1. XXYY

      It’s not you. I had the same thought.

      She looks like the head of HR at a paperclip company.

      1. wilroncanada

        Don’t belittle the office supplies business, the world’s oldest profession. After all, Adam and Eve did invent the loose leaf system!

    2. JTMcPhee

      Did she borrow Buttigieg’s teeth for the photo shoot? Man, that’s an expensive set of choppers.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    Revolutionary songs–

    In my experience, whenever Staughton Lynd was part of an assembled group, he led that group in singing “Solidarity Forever.” He brought the song sheets with him. He was also happy to vigorously defend the singing of “Kumbaya.”

    Back when I was young, we had lots of “revolutionary songs.” This is still one of my favorites:

    We Can Be Together

      1. Festoonic

        Time to listen to it again after a respite of, oh, 25 or 30 years. I recall the music being gorgeous — very much like the best songs on Volunteers. But the lyrics? Oh, lord. What the kids call cringe.

      1. bassmule

        “I used to say the Pledge of Allegiance
        until they beat me bloody down at the station.
        They haven’t got a word out of me since.
        I got a billion years probation.”

        American Ruse: MC 5

        1. amechania

          “there’s too many protest songs
          And not enough protest singers”
          -never met a girl like you before

    1. Stephen V

      Thanks HMP! Was just reading his book on the Youngstown plant closings. My grandparents worked in the coal mines in that area and many of their sons in the mills. So many stories died with them because I didn’t know enough to ask. My parents moved to FL IN ’62.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Yeah I wouldn’t go bringing up connections to Chinese patrons donating to influence US elections if I were the Democrat party –






      But while Bubba may have taken all that Chinese money, he didn’t inhale –


      And then of course, there’s Hunter.

      1. Debbie

        Recall that under Clinton, an export license was granted to some Democratic donor in Beverly Hills who exported the rocket technology to China needed for their nuclear bombs to hit the U.S.
        Anyone have more details?

        1. hunkerdown

          IP is just whining. It’s time to rip down all the veils because nobody can be trusted with them.

  3. Jeff W

    Former President Donald Trump appeared flustered when he was booed at a rally in Arizona on Friday when speaking about one of his recent Congress endorsements. Trump, used to adulation from his super-loyal MAGA followers, looked uncomfortable when he hyped Eli Crane, a candidate in the Arizona GOP congressional primary, and the crowd responded negatively, in large part. Former President Donald Trump appeared flustered when he was booed at a rally in Arizona on Friday when speaking about one of his recent Congress endorsements. Trump, used to adulation from his super-loyal MAGA followers, looked uncomfortable when he hyped Eli Crane, a candidate in the Arizona GOP congressional primary, and the crowd responded negatively, in large part.

    Definitely bears repeating, I guess.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      It’s Trump. If he gets booed twice in a row, he endorses a different candidate.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Not the first time that Trump has gone to a crowd and been booed for something he said or did. By the time he is addressing the next crowd, it is all forgot.

  4. flora

    re: The Class Arithmatic

    In this Republican game, the working class emerges as a kingmaker. For it is precisely the working class sympathy for economic nationalism that has shuffled the deck. Indeed, the economic nationalists see their protectionist formula as a solution to the crisis of the working class. The idea is that working class fortunes can be restored by the traditional American medicine of protectionism and corporate welfare.

    That economic approach seems to be working for RU, and working well.

    From your comment on the article:
    I suppose this is why Ruy Teixeira jumped ship from CAP to AEI — after leading liberal Democrats down the primrose path of identity politics, too.

    What Christopher Lasch wrote* about the role of identity politics in the academic and modern political left.:
    “The industrial working class, once the mainstay of the socialist movement, has become a pitiful remnant of itself. The hope that “new social movements” would take its place in the struggle against capitalism, which briefly sustained the left in the late seventies and early eighties, has come to nothing. Not only do the new social movements–feminism, gay rights, welfare rights, agitation against racial discrimination–have nothing in common, but their only coherent demand aims at inclusion in the dominant structure rather than at a revolutionary transformation of social relations.”

    *”The Revolt of the Elites”, 1995

    1. digi_owl

      One may argue all day about the accuracy hear the top, but that old hierarchy of needs sure do seem to hold up to empirical scrutiny near the bottom.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Identity politics = self-actualization (i.e., at the tippy top).

        All just preparation for corporate HR departments with DEI in their three-ring binders.

  5. Carolinian

    Re abortion–here in SC our state lege looneys want to make it a crime to even hint how some pregnant woman can obtain an out of state abortion or self administer. Turley tries to explain the Constitution to them


    Of course free speech is already gasping for air here since it’s a crime for state University professors to criticize Israel and harm our vital trade relations (???). The latter law likely only holds on against court cancellation because not challenged and Turley says the former will go down as well. But expect much more Dem outcry about the former than the latter.

  6. Def

    “A Taste for Cannibalism?”
    Try reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
    After a nuclear war destroys America’s cities, the rural survivors, mostly dying from radiation poisoning, wander the country and turn to raping then eating other human beings. The protagonis with no ammo left for his gun wanders about with his young charge trying to survive on greens and canned goods he encounters. He comes across people feasting from a human meat locker where naked shivering terrified men and women are locked in a basement and serve as vivisectioned cuts of meat for the physcially stronger more organized people with knives and swords. Especially noteworthy, are radiation miscarried fetus ka-bobs.

    The most horrifying book we have ever read.

    Whenever I hear about politicians discussing the necessity of No Fly Zones in Ukraine, I momentarily think of the importance of hacking such people to death present day and the nasty obese woman down the street and how much nutrition she could temporarily provide for our neighborhood.

    1. LaRuse

      Oh goodness. I just picked The Road up from a local bookstore the weekend before last. Always heard it was rough and always also heard it was very important to read. But yikes. Gonna get through my recently aquired copy of E.F. Schumacher’s Guide for the Perplexed before cracking open The Road, I think.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        That is one horrifically grim book. Hug your children before, during and after reading.

      2. XXYY

        I couldn’t make it through the movie when it came out.

        Perhaps it now seems tame or conventional after the last few years.

      3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        I must be terribly desensitized cuz I didn’t bat an eye at The Road!

        Now…some scenes from American Psycho novel and pretty much ALL of A Serbian Film….

      4. griffen

        A truly depressing movie, but well acted by the main characters. What a horrific landscape.

      1. Angie Neer

        Thanks, flora and Lambert. Regarding Lambert’s comment about the sky: yeah, I wish mine always came out this well, too. The Puget Sound region’s ever-changing weather blesses us with an interesting variety of moody skies, and dealt me a good one that day.

        1. Joe Renter

          Is that I-90 near Issaquah? I spent 30 years in the area. Miss the rain now that I am in the desert. Although right now there is some show activity. It’s a cool 88 degrees with 28% humidity in Las Wages, NV

            1. Angie Neer

              Not only Chicago, Lib—I-90 goes all the way to downtown Boston! Imagine a country that could build things on that scale! This spot is alongside a massive tangle of under- and overpasses at the intersection with I-405, halfway between Seattle and Joe’s former home of Issaquah.

    1. Bugs

      I love lupins, a truly gorgeous flower. I planted a few at the back of my vegetable garden and they got the nettles under control within 3 years. Also, the leaves are beautiful on their own.

      1. Laughingsong

        I like how their leaves capture a perfect pearl of rainwater in the center!

        The mix of flowers looks similar to the seed mixes we buy from Silver Falls Seed Co.

      2. IM Doc

        We have these in enormous abundance all around us in all of our gardens. The pollinators like bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies love them. I plant lupins not just for the awesome flower and greenery but the seed pods.

        You can see some of them starting to pod out in the antidote picture. If prepared/canned in garlic, those seed pods make the most awesome appetizers. My wife and I first experienced this in Portugal. They are somewhat like olives but with a much different texture. We prepare enough to last us all year round.

        The even better thing is to grind them up. It can be used almost like tapioca powder. We make pounds and pounds of it every year. And it keeps all year round. This makes the best Brazilian Cheese Bread and gluten free dinner rolls of anything we have ever found, including tapioca.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I love lupins, a truly gorgeous flower. I planted a few at the back of my vegetable garden and they got the nettles under control within 3 years.

        That’s a great tip on lupin(e)s.

        We have had but one picture of lupins:

        Maybe a kind reader can send in some more.

  7. ChrisRUEcon

    “Trump’s Silence”

    LOL … URL gets ’em every time!

    In order to keep my Game-of-Thrones/Hip-Hop-mashup fanfic fair and balanced, I’ll be using the following on the GOP side:

    Trump: The House Of Kid Rock
    Did you know that KidRock started out his musical journey as a rapper? Complete with a high-top fade? (via Hip Hop Wiki)

    Yves’ pick, Glenn Youngkin: The House Of Timbaland
    Lots of rap/hip-hop royalty in Virginia, including Missy Elliott!

    Ron De Santis: The House of PitBull
    Lots of good choices here too: Rick Ross, Vanilla Ice et al, but given De Santis’ pugnacious personality, I opted for PitBull ;-)

    So to respond to Lambert’s question: Presumably somebody checked with Rupert before running this?

    Perhaps the House Of Kid Rock has fallen out of favour with the House Of Murdoch … ;-)

    1. griffen

      It may also be they still can’t determine what exactly his big rap-rock hit “Bawitdba” is talking about. But it was catchy tune.

      As for your De Santis comment – no love lost for 2 Live Crew? ESPN documentaries on the “U” for the 1980s and 1990s, prior to any NCAA penalties to the college football program, well their music is a must have.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Ha! I did think of #TwoLiveCrew, or rather, I was thinking about using The House of Luke Campbell; but then I found out he changed his sobriquet to “Uncle Luke” … LOL

        Perhaps another pol from FL will enter the fray, and I can get double usage.

  8. dcblogger

    reminder that Mel Carnahan was actually dead when he won his senate race. Fetterman has this.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Hahahahaha! #Inshallah to Fetterman remaining in the land of the living post-election, but Dr. Oz losing to the deceased would be a failure of such monumental proportions that he should seriously find the nearest large rock and crawl under it!


    2. Michael Ismoe

      Dead Democrats get elected. Living Democrats lose to people like Trump.

      I’m voting for FDR in 2024.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Since it’s a midterm, I feel the play is to not even pretend Oz is viable. Take care of business on the gotv end and fuss about down ballot races, but treat it like a major league team playing a college team in spring training.

      1. hunkerdown

        Fetterman is literally debunking politics with his humiliating memes, and it is a thing of beauty.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > reminder that Mel Carnahan was actually dead when he won his senate race. Fetterman has this.

      Carnahan is the only one that we know of heh heh heh.

      2000 was quite a year. Carnahan went up in a small plane.

      NOTE I don’t have great expectations for Fetterman on policy. I do think Oz should be hounded back to New Jersey. It’s also good that the network of Pennsylvania Democrat politicians be disrupted (and they all have hated Fetterman for years. It’s also super that Conor Lamb took it on the chin, good job Fetterman). I do like the kind of campaign Fetterman ran, and I appreciate his image-making skills.

  9. shinola

    Re: “Put your face in airplane mode”

    Well, all righty then – why not allow smoking/vaping during the flight since those planes have such wonderfully efficient ventilation systems?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > why not allow smoking/vaping during the flight

      Well, that would imply that the principle of “personal risk assessment” is inconsistently applied. Surely not?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Pretty sure simply fulfilling a patron’s order at Taco Bell is considered assault. And if it isn’t, it should be.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Why not just throw those tacos directly in the toilet and do without the discomfort?

        1. Laughingsong

          W4B and LAB, you remind me of John Stewart’s fake Arbie’s ads! 😁

          “Arbie’s . . . Challenge your stomach to a fight!”

          1. Jokerstein

            There was a Lord of the Flies-based episode of The Simpsons, where a school bus crashes and the pupils are stranded on a desert island. One the the girls says something like “I’m so hungry I could eat an Arby’s.”

            1. jr

              I ate at a Golden Corral years ago. It made Arbies look almost appealing. I didn’t realize food that bad existed. The steaks had at least as much gristle as meat. I was in the service too so I’ve seen bad. Red Lobster was another horror show.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                My dad said army food is pretty good. Remember they have guns.

                The mcrib was originally developed as an army protein. Dad said the shooting would start then. Even so, i believe he likes the mcrib.

                1. jr

                  I do, I fired a number of them. That wasn’t my experience, at least stateside. The food in the European mess halls was a lot better.

                2. HotFlash

                  I liked McRib the first time, v tasty, but by the third or forth repeat (one one mcrib order), I was not so thrilled. Haven’t had one in 40 years.

          2. hunkerdown

            From YouTube remix culture comes Ving Rhames audio clips from other appearances mixed in with his Arby’s work to produce a series of short and ridiculous high-drama parodies of the commercials and the slogan. The best of the fruits:

            “Arby’s™. You’re making a mistake.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > “Arby’s™. You’re making a mistake.“

              I can’t find this on YouTube (whose search is notoriously poor, even worse than Google’s). Do you have a link?

    2. Big RiverBandido

      In order to arrest the manager, the victims would have to go to the cops. Post-Uvalde, I think we can all project what the Dallas cops might have done to a black woman and child after they were scalded.

      And…only $1 million? That’s a slap on the wrist to Yum! Brands, and far below what the victims might be entitled to.

      1. square coats

        re: both sides of the story, apparently a video of the incident was released (I didn’t watch it myself as I really don’t like watching this sort of thing at all, but read quite a few comments on reddit about it) which shows at least one of the women jumping the counter during the dispute prior to the scalding water coming out. A few comments I read were also quite dubious as to the door having been locked.

        It seems like at the very least there’s quite a lot more to the story than is generally being presented in news articles about it so far.

  10. Jason Boxman

    Ha. About two years ago the NY Times ran a piece about what a hard worker, and good spouse and mother Walensky is! Can it be, that she’s such a wonderful social murder as well? Hooray!

    1. notabanker

      I dunno. I read that article twice and most I can get out if it is WaPo debating what defines working class with select graphs of subsets of voters, none of which add up to his entire base.

      1. digi_owl

        That is basically the problem of US discourse. Working and middle class are nebulous groupings that can mean different things to different people. Never mind the whole phenomena of “temporarily embarrassed millionaire”.

        That is perhaps why Graeber’s contribution to Occupy stung to well early on, talking about wealth concentration via the slogans 99% and 1%.

        1. notabanker

          Yeah, I don’t know how true it is that Trump doesn’t have a working class base, I really don’t. I just know anecdotally living near large swatches of huge Trump bases, the signs and banners are not flying in the suburbs and cities. It is mostly rural towns that have been forsaken by the rest of the country and gubmit. And it is very visible, and they are very vocal. Maybe former working class is a more apt description.

          1. digi_owl

            And that is mostly because he talked the talk, though didn’t deliver on the walk. either because he didn’t intend to, or because he was stymied by a hostile congress.

            I just wish we had seen him up against Bernie rather than “girl boss” Hillary. Because at least then his various “promises” and claims would have gotten direct comebacks.

            1. notabanker

              I am no fan of Trump and he did a lot of harm, but those folks would argue they were far better off under Trump then they are under Biden, and they wouldn’t be wrong.

              1. Pat

                Ignoring the end of TPP, Most people did better under Trump. The $600 that Joe owes Americans that gets talked about here is peanuts compared to what was sent out during Trump’s term. Remember it was Biden and the Dems who seriously tightened the means testing for relief funds.

                One of the articles I read today was about the excess products in larger stores, blaming going back to the office and travel for the change in peoples buying patterns. Even as I read it, I thought the author was doing a two step to ignore rising costs of necessities and a drop in disposable income. Trump is well aware that people who vote need to eat and commute for work. They are now tightening their belts a lot because of fuel and food inflation. Unlike President MBNA and President Manchin, I would fully expect a bully pulpit demand for anything he could come up with to cut prices or increase incomes, including but not limited to excess profits taxes and further relief checks. Oh and unlike Joe and Chuck, Manchin would be being lambasted by the person whose agenda he was blocking. IOW he would actually want it to happen rather than pretending to “fight” for relief.

                Trump was terrible. But by pretty much every standard except portfolio growth for a small segment of the populace, Biden is overwhelming worse. (Hell while better, he isn’t even particularly good on judges.)

        2. ChrisRUEcon

          > Working and middle class are nebulous groupings that can mean different things to different people.

          Exactly this … plus the fact that it also shifts over time. A “middle class” family from say, the 1950’s would be poor today if their sources of employment and/or family responsibilities (vis-a-vis the stay-home mom) were the same.

          Statista has a good breakdown of the 2016 election by income here. (via statista.com)

          When you pair that with what’s known about income percentiles (via BLS) – 90th percentile wage starts around $52/hr, which equates to about $108K/yr – you realize that Trump starts winning the majority of voters when you enter that band where six figure salaries begin.

          And as mentioned already, high salary is not a proxy for tertiary education achievement. What’s further shown is that the Democrats continue to be the major betrayers of lower percentile wage earners.

          1. marym

            > major betrayers

            True in the sense that some of them kind of talk about stuff that would benefit the working class, and use the words “working families” a lot, then only deliver for their donors. Republicans don’t talk at all about material benefits – when not actively opposing them. Republican proposals for deregulation and lower taxes and saying the words “small business” a lot may appeal to working/middle class people (however defined) but those policies also end up further enriching the donor class.

            During Trump’s 2016 campaign he talked about infrastructure and better-than-Obamacare healthcare. He never made proposals or worked with Congress on an infrastructure program, and he supported the Republican effort to repeal the ACA with no replacement. It didn’t seem to disappoint his followers. I don’t think he talked about those issues in 2020, though I didn’t follow closely.

            1. ChrisRUEcon

              > Republican proposals for deregulation and lower taxes and saying the words “small business” a lot may appeal to working/middle class people (however defined) but those policies also end up further enriching the donor class

              Indeed. I was going to include something to my comment above, but I ended up not doing iso, and it was this: Trump won the petite-bourgeoisie and (enough of the) aspirational class – the merchant class, and those who believe in capitalist-individualism and the cult-of-the-business-man. It’s no surprise that someone like Lauren Boebert, a bar owner, was able to earn government office in a conservative area. There’s your petite bourgeoisie! See also Trump’s support among truckers. Looking at trucker wage data (via BLS), median income is about $48K/yr and 90th percentile is about $72K/yr. Truckers aren’t swimming in it, and would definitely benefit from lower taxes. So when Trump and the GOP telegraph this, these folks are listening. You’re right in saying what you did about “further enriching the donor class”. I aligns with something I believe, which is that no economic concessions can ever be made to the lower income earning classes without yielding to demand for the same from the 1%. And that … to my reckoning … is a bipartisan thing.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        People often don’t grasp wealth versus income and standards of living. The Trump boat people may make less, but new York city teachers don’t live well. Its just teachers in random area don’t make much. Some exaggeration.

        1. digi_owl

          Good point. They love to talk about income, but fail to account for how much of that goes to rents, mortgages and insurances.

          USA only really “works” for two subsets. The single, healthy graduate with a engineering job, and the vegetative retiree cashing out the pension fund.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Most Trump voters were not working class.

      I agree (and as my analysis of the Capitol Hill rioters showed). Don’t think auto mechanic, think automobile dealer.

      That said, the argument is not that working class voters are numerically dominant in whatever coalition the Republicans are in the process of building; the argument is that they hold the balance of power.

  11. Darthbobber

    It is not Cheney and Kinzinger’s participation in the hearings that “opens the door” to the “rehabilitation” of themselves and all presently non-Trump GOPers. It is all the additional voluntary swooning over and lionizing of them by prominent Democrats. Continuing down that well-worn path they’ve already travelled with Bush and McCain. You’d almost get the impression that there are no deep differences of principle.

  12. MichaelC

    Re Getting to the bottom of face processing

    Thanks for that. Funniest thing I’ve read in a long time 😂😂

  13. Darthbobber

    The AP article on Orban omits the key to his most recent success. He was barely leading in his reelection campaign when his leading opponents, who I guess just couldn’t help themselves, chose to embrace (poentially quite costly for Hungary) supersolidarity with Ukraine at virtually any cost. Once they voluntarily transformed the election into effectively a referendum on THAT bright idea, Orban’s lead swiftly expanded to blowout proportions, and he never looked back.

  14. Rob Urie

    Re “The Class Arithmetic” How long can Republicans spin hot air as material gains for the working class? The working class saw little but BS from the Dems for four decades before the Republicans moved in.

    So, Republicans (like Dems) will either cross their donors to win votes or working class voters will get round two of management of them for the benefit of WalMart Sachs.

    The Repubs aren’t going to cross their donors, so where does that leave the working class? And were they to cross their donors, where would that leave them (Repubs) in the current configuration of power?

    1. Debbie

      And the inner working class saw public schools sometimes destroyed thanks to busing and other cosmopolitan Democratic platform which alienated them and certainly lost them the south.

    2. Big RiverBandido

      I seem to recall Trump ramming through two stimulus payments. As Lambert wrote after the link to the Insider report on the AZ rally: “Trump learns to fear the base?”

      I suspect he’s long had a healthy fear of the Republican base. Any good Republican politician does. That’s partly why they’re heading for majority status.

      1. TBellT

        The second payment he did exactly what the “bipartisan consensus” would allow and no further (600). I’d hardly call that “ramming” through. Especially when his starting offer/tweet was another 2000.

        Maybe if he rammed it through before the election he would have won.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          He would have if Mitch McConnell had gotten out of the way. That’s why he hates him.

          1. TBellT

            And yet he gave McConnell a free Supreme Court Justice in the leadup to the election. He’s a sucker.

    3. Lee

      Lest we forget:

      “The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.”
      – Julius Nyerere

      And the two wings of the uniparty are so busy engaging in nonconsensual murine intercourse* with each other that it’s a wonder they can keep lurching and staggering along.

      * A phrase I quite some time ago appropriated from another NC commenter. Thank you, whoever you are.

      1. hunkerdown

        You think it’s non-consensual, but the knowledgeable practitioner sees them use their safewords from time to time, most recently “Roe”.

    4. flora

      Matt Stoller makes the point that what he calls the “old-guard” in both parties are neoliberal, markets focused. He also points out there’s a new anti-monopoly group rising in both the Dem and the GOP parties(believe it or not).

      Throw the Bums Out Politics

      The anti-monopoly movement on both sides of the aisle arose out of the financial crisis, and its proponents do not share this older conception of politics. Anti-monopolists believe that using the state to structure markets is what politics means, whereas the old guard sees markets as untouchable, subject to titanic forces beyond human control, such as, depending on your chosen lifestyle brand, globalization, technology, capitalism, et al.


      Who knows if it will come to anything. (I do like the West Wing group photo in the article. Very droll.)

      1. John

        Biden said nothing would fundamentally change. It hasn’t. Does this speak to the existence of two distinct parties? One Big Party but with two radical wings to preserve the illusion of a two party system. I seen no virtue in any of the offerings.

        Congress has itself tied in knots except when it comes to shoveling money to the MICIMATT then everyone jumps on the gravy train.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > How long can Republicans spin hot air as material gains for the working class

      Trump’s CARES Act actually increased income for the poor. Trump’s economic policies during the pandemic were so much better than Obama’s after the Crash it’s not funny. Remember Obama’s ten-year recovery that wasn’t?

  15. Pelham

    So Orban has seized control of the media and judiciary in Hungary. How does that differ from what institutional Dems and Republicans have done here for decades? And far more expertly with their vast, intricate, expanding and overlapping networks and webs of bribery, insider trading and self-dealing.

    1. hunkerdown

      Institutional details, i.e. the structure and empowering nature of PMC employment in reproduction of any given regime, are a pretty good predictor of the US posture toward it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > vast, intricate, expanding and overlapping networks and webs of bribery, insider trading and self-dealing

      Let’s not forget the cut-outs and laundries!

  16. Adam

    Great that Fetterman is hopefully returning to the trail soon, but the quote they got was from Steve Irwin, the union busting attorney who was edged out by a leftist coalition-building Summer Lee in a safe blue district just a couple of months ago?! Not exactly the type of event that’s going to get Fetterman get the votes, but I guess money talks.

    1. HotFlash

      My dear ChrisRUEcon, thanks for this. So gratifying on many levels and a lovely mid-afternoon sorbet… BTW, I went looking elsewhere (I do not NYT paywall) and found that CNN lists the damage at $1 million while NBC is more moderate at $400K. I will not even speculate on how the Reverend Bishop came by all that bling, It doesn’t seem to fit w/my idea of clergy, but I am ‘fallen away” (I maintain I was pushed, but whatever). And come to think of it, there is a fair amount of Catholic bling kicking around

      Anyway, being Bish looks like a sweet gig, wonder how he will replace all the glittery? Was there insurance? Where did these daring daylight robbers come from? Guys annoyed that mama had sent The Rev B all family the $$$? Robin Hoodlums? Burglars by arrangement? As you say, so many questions!!

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        You’re welcome, dear HotFlash!

        I like the term “prosperity pastor”“pastor” of course being a catch-all for various levels of the persons-of-the-cloth hierarchy – to describe folks like our good Bish’.

        You’ve asked a few of the questions, and the answers are likely a set of uncomfortable truths.

    2. petal

      hahaha oh that guy! He rolls around in a brand new Rolls and wears tons of designer duds. Too funny. It was hilarious when he tried to negotiate that suspect surrender, was it last month? What a piece of work. Will be amusing to watch how this unfolds.

  17. TBellT

    Re: Policy Tensor

    Yes Dems ignore working class movement to Republicans at their peril. But do we have any analysis of how it stacks up compared to the eras before Reagan?

    Then there’s the last third on climate change. That clean energy lobbyists will eventually unseat fossil fuel interests? And that this will be married with a bottoms up desire to avoid a policy of “militarized adaptationism”? Think of the committed Republicans or R leaning independents or hell anyone even considering voting R in the Midterms in your life, does any of that seem reasonable?

    If the R’s do claim a level of working class support that rivals the D’s in the middle 1900’s, to the point where they have full mostly uncontested government control, the policy is absolutely going to be “militarized adaptationism” and I’m willing to bet against anyone who thinks differently.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we have any analysis of how it stacks up compared to the eras before Reagan

      I’m not sure we do. Remember, most if not all data putatively measuring the properties of the working class comes through proxies like education or income. There’s nothing that takes the workplace as the starting point, i.e. nothing that centers the political power the working class could have, if exercised.

      > does any of that seem reasonable

      I think the premise is that money talks. From that perspective there’s some plausibility to it.

      > militarized adaptationism

      The new TINA?

  18. marym

    I don’t know if anyone’s still interested but a few old guard Republicans who

    “have either worked in Republican Party politics at multiple levels and in various capacities or worked in the government as a result of Republican appointments…

    …have painstakingly surveyed each of the 187 counts in the 64 court cases brought on Trump’s behalf contesting the results of the 2020 election, the state recounts and contests brought in the name of the former president, and the post-election reviews undertaken in the six key battleground states…

    Our review has led us to conclude that there is simply no evidence of fraud in the 2020 presidential election of the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, not even a single precinct’s outcome was reversed.”


    The PDF is 72 pages. It’s nice to have all this in one place, with footnotes and links, but all this information was available in real time. Maybe they’re collaborating with the Democrats in trying to rehabilitate a non-Trumpy Republican Party.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Maybe they’re collaborating with the Democrats in trying to rehabilitate a non-Trumpy Republican Party.

      I would venture to guess that there is a vanishingly small, but non-zero, number of principled Republicans left.

      But thanks for the link. We need to distinguish the claim that elections can be stolen (obviously true) from the claim that 2020 was stolen (not obviously true, and if the NR review is correct, false).

  19. jr

    Rochelle “Stack ‘em High!” Walensky is patently deranged. She talks as if there wasn’t actually a pandemic at all. Hey, people can only do so much! Be reasonable!

    But COVID can do so much more, Rochelle. Lying PMC $cumbag! It’s surreal to think this creature is a public health official. Absolutely mind boggling to hear her rationalizations.

  20. Regis II

    “Put Your Face in Airplane Mode”

    This is a question about the CO2 monitors which we have seen readings from from time to time.

    There is also a device which measures the level of small particles in the air.

    I have one of each.

    While the CO2 monitor will register a rather high number on an airplane, the particle monitor will register a low number (e.g. 1.1 micrograms per cubic meter), at least while in flight.

    My question is whether it is more informative to use the particle meter, since what we are concerned about is whether there are virus particles in the air that we are breathing.

    In other words, both the CO2 meter reading and the particle meter reading are proxies for Covid. But with the particle meter, if the particles per cubic meter is high, then I would say that there is reason to be concerned, even if the CO2 level is low, and vice versa.

    1. jr

      Don’t forget, per a recent tweet, American Airlines won’t let you wear a respirator because they vent. But no mask? No problem! Show us those smiles!

    2. Angie Neer

      Regis, I’d recommend looking closely and skeptically at the specifications for that particle meter, if you can get them. I don’t know the state of the art for measuring airborne particles, but I would expect that accurate measurements, especially for small aerosol particles, require some pretty fancy (expensive) technology.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > While the CO2 monitor will register a rather high number on an airplane, the particle monitor will register a low number (e.g. 1.1 micrograms per cubic meter), at least while in flight.

      I have never seen any source recommend a particle meter for supplying a proxy metric for airborne viral load.

      Interesting idea, though.

    4. Skip Intro

      It makes sense that with high filtration, CO2 becomes less of a proxy for shared exhaled aerosol. I guess the important question is how sensitive your meter is to the particular size range and particulate composition ‘of concern’.

    1. LawnDart

      Doubt it, although I know “liberals” who are arming-up, and “conservatives” who already are– and I note what each of these persons have in common is the “authoritarian-follower” mindset coupled with a lot of fear: none of them are willing to admit that they’re getting played or manipulated by “their side.”

      The distractions and consumption of time and energy by the party faithful certainly benefits the ruling class and will allow the looting to continue– divide-and-conquor exemplified.

  21. Gulag

    This part of “The Class Arithmetic,” seems quite valid:

    “Democrats are increasingly unable to contain the ideological excesses of professional class Millennials–Democrats to the last man. The GOP, on the other hand, has comprehensively failed to contain the working class revolt. The future of American democracy hangs in the balance.”

    The work millennials are primarily interested in the liberation of the self–which became a cultural dead-end for the New Left of the 1960s and will become so again in the 2020s. Significant portions of the GOP now believe that they may be able to buy-off working–class discontent through significant amounts of Central Bank Digital Currency being delivered directly to a soon to be created individual consumer accounts at the Federal Reserve– thereby helping to stabilize the economic/political/cultural power centers already in control and ensuring that the ugly concept of democracy can never take hold among the riff-raff.

    1. curlydan

      Yes, Lake Powell (or really the Glen Canyon Dam) is on life support–trying to get it through a few more years of producing electricity before an El Nino winter might just provide a bigger boost than releases from Flaming Gorge.

      To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Biden, tear down this dam”. If you need the “for” arguments for tearing down Glen Canyon Dam, go here to the Glen Canyon Institute: https://www.glencanyon.org/faq/

      If you need the “against” arguments, … well, I can’t help you there.

    1. ambrit

      Let’s start a betting pool on when she is found hanging in her cell.
      My money’s on the week after this year’s November elections.

  22. spud

    class arithmetic. the author gets it.

    “The high point of the free traders’ influence was the Clinton presidency, that presided over Nafta and China’s admission in the World Trade Organization.”

    till the democrats divorce themselves from that idiots legacy, they will continue to flounder and shrink.

    bill clintons policies are still calling the shots in america, and workers know this.

  23. none

    quandam Democratic strategist Teixeira himself.

    I don’t think that is quite right. Quandam is the feminine accusative of quidam. The masculine accusative would be quendam, but maybe you want the ablative quodam, in the sense of Texeira moving away from CAP. Romanes eunt domus!

  24. OliverN

    Yep, Walensky winning the sociopath award is well deserved today. It is extraordinary that she talks through this double standard of risk for the president vs risk for the people without being called out on it.

    And there’s such a history of this too! The CDC has said for a large period of time “cloth masks are fine, surgical masks are fine, n95’s are a bit of an overkill” (when they finally admitted that masks are needed at all), this misinformation is to the extent that there were anecdotals on NC of people being told to remove their n95’s in favour of surgicals. Yet at the start of the year there were articles on NC (sorry don’t have the links), where everyone anywhere close to the president must wear an n95, no ifs and no buts. It’s almost as if they knew something that they weren’t telling the people…

    1. Jason Boxman

      It is indeed pretty screwed up, that citizens at hospitals are being ordered to remove their superior N95s, in settings where care providers were reusing masks and desperate for PPE, and now everyone is happy to get sick again and again? Some aspect of this makes no sense whatsoever. Is it providers are powerless, or that they simply drank the kool-aid?

      This is insane. The elite in this country are insane.

      The only positive outcome I can think of from a more deadly strain is perhaps some of these people might get chastened, however unlikely.

  25. Carolinian

    Michael Tracey

    My planned “mini series” on the recent NATO Summit in Madrid, which as you may recall I was amusingly authorized to attend, got interrupted last week thanks to a mild-to-moderate bout with COVID. Based on the presumed period of incubation, I almost certainly contracted COVID at the NATO Summit itself — which almost makes the protracted coughing spells worth it. Because now I can forever blame NATO for afflicting me with the dreaded deadly virus, due to their appallingly lax mitigation measures and reckless refusal to accept that WE’RE STILL IN A PANDEMIC!!!!!!!!!!!

    Maybe I could personally blame Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, just because blaming a forgettable Norwegian administrative functionary would be funny. I could even stretch the bounds of epidemiological logic and blame Joe Biden, seeing as he also contracted COVID this past week. Having been in his close physical proximity, we may well have inhaled the same aerosol particles.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Michael Tracey

      It would be nice if Tracey had done some reporting on the ventilation at the venue and the masking rules, instead of shooting obvious fish in an obvious barrel — entertaining though that is.

      That way we could be sure that the NATO Summit was yet another elite superspreading event; as it is, we don’t know.

  26. Jason Boxman

    So I looked, studious as I am, and saw a month ago here (from WC) we were at the equivalent of about 600k cases, so we’ve been trending over 500k cases a day for over a month now. Indeed, we’re somewhere between 700k-1mil lately. This seems kind of insane, when it was an emergency when we had thousands of cases two years ago. The Biden administration is a complete failure, beyond that of That Who Cannot be Named. The Science crowd is murdering more people than Trump did. It’s bizarre that a million dead people doesn’t elicit some kind of response from the body polity at large. Learned helplessness. Meanwhile they’ve unleashed a second Pandemic, which starts with the gays, so no one really cares, but it’s already spreading to the general population, with the expected sclerotic response from the Centers for Disease and Biden.

    It may not seem like it, but this is what terminal decline looks like. This is the straw that finally broke America as a seemingly functional nation-state. China might be the last national on Earth that has a functional populous in the next decade, given long-COVID rates of 10% or higher, for the first infection. Subsequent infections probably don’t reduce that risk. There is no “victory” to getting infected, just bad and worse outcomes, individually, and society-wide.

    The larger question is what forms will this collapse take? When do shortages become common place? At what point is it no longer possible to get any kind of medical care at a hospital? Without enough healthy people, who will rebuild crumbling infrastructure? Will bridge collapses, like in Pittsburgh and Miami, become common place? Or buildings? To say nothing of “national security”. The military already has difficulty recruiting; What if no one is healthy enough to enlist? What will the fate be of a generation of children, maimed by multiple SARS-COV-2 infections?

    The let-it-ride strategy might be the death blow for the United States, governed by an elite too lazy and self-interested (witness their eagerness to get infected, as often as they can) to care about citizens at large.

    1. Pat

      Watching monkeypox grow in NY, it appears the “science crowd” just doesn’t care. The information is confusing, there are clear holes in their criteria for vaccination, there is even less urgency to supply tests and yes vaccines. Oh and if you think the standards for Covid infection isolation are lacking, try having a conversation with someone who has decided they have it, questionable, who not only won’t seek out a test to be sure but is utterly confused at the idea that outside of seeking medical care they should be isolating.

      Get ready, they aren’t even putting up a good front at containing an outbreak of monkeypox, it is let it rip from the very beginning.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the death blow for the United States, governed by an elite too lazy

      New Zealand real estate prices as a good proxy? When the elite decide en masse to leave the country, as opposed to simply having pied-à-terres scattered about, that might be a useful metric. Leaving the rest of us to fend for themselves in the ruins. This idea does make me wonder what the American gentry will do. Perhaps the drive for autarky will come from them.

      1. ChrisPacific

        There are strict rules here now around buying property for non-residents, or for non-citizen residents who aren’t already committed to living in NZ full time (or nearly so). Property prices already shot up to stratospheric heights even back in 2020/21 when nobody was allowed to enter.

        That’s not to say that elites would have any difficulty getting residency if they wanted it, or living in temporary accommodation for long enough to establish a residence history and therefore becoming eligible to buy property. But it would be a trailing indicator and not a leading one.

        Foreign property purchases that don’t meet these criteria go through the Office of Overseas Investment for approval and are publicly notified, so you could look at those if you wanted.

      2. ChrisRUEcon

        NZ’s gone all let ‘r rip now … gotta say based on a couple things (via #Twitter) I have seen about Jacinda, I am feeling a little bit disappointed in her. Given our conversation on the 7/26 2PM Water Cooler, I’m just about ready to create a new category for her – The Ephemeral Left.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Probably she got her marching orders-

          ‘James Melville
          New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden leaving the offices of BlackRock. Absolutely nothing to see here whatsoever.’
          (18 sec video)


          And I suspect that Scotty from Marketing got his at last year’s G7 in Cornwall as it was not long after that he opened the country up.

  27. JBird4049

    >>>Endemic Covid-19 Looks Pretty Brutal”

    Normally, I try to read the comments because they really are good, but today’s NC’s dose of Gloom, Doom, and Despair is getting to me.

    The Water Cooler is making me think that maybe some people really are out to bring back Smallpox or something like widespread Tuberculosis (aka the White Death). Mass epidemics with their deaths were a big reason why so many children were born. Ending them by the mid twentieth century is a realm why both the population has jumped up and why families have gotten smaller. Of course, in the United States we are so messed up, I am not sure if we could emotionally deal with the emotional consequences of having so much death; previous generations of Americans were not only enmeshed into churches, community groups, sports, clubs, politics, their families and friends that had the emotional connections and support to do so. Yet, reading some of the letters and history is draining even from centuries afterwards. The sadness can just be overwhelming.

    If I was a truly paranoiac, tin foil wearing man, I might think that the destruction of our communities, families, and friends with their deep social support as well as the destruction of all the institutions both public and private including that which comes from large businesses widespread and well paid jobs might be deliberate. It does make it easier to murder people.

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