2:00PM Water Cooler 7/29/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Monotonous Lark, Limpopo, South Africa. I’m not sure if this is a duet, or an echo.

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

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

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


“Abortion access finds a place even in down-ballot campaigns” [Associated Press]. “Appearing bare-shouldered in a TV ad, Connecticut Democrat Dita Bhargava looks directly into the camera and promises, if elected, to ‘lead the crusade’ for abortion rights. Photos of other women flash on the screen, also with no clothes showing. ‘This is who have freedom over their own bodies stripped away,’ Bhargava says in the commercial, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the constitutional right to abortion. ‘This is who the Supreme Court left completely vulnerable.’ It would make sense to think Bhargava is running for governor, state legislature or Congress — positions that could play a direct role in future abortion laws. She’s not. She’s a candidate for state treasurer. ‘When I’m state treasurer, the state will not invest in companies that don’t do the right thing by their employees,’ she said. ‘And part of doing that right thing is to support a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion.'” • Interesting! (And I wonder what CalPERS is doing….)

Biden Administration

“Basement talk, virtual handshake led to Manchin-Schumer deal” [Associated Press]. “The 725-page ‘Inflation Reduction Act of 2022’ would cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors to $2,000 a year, and help some 13 million families with subsidies to purchase their own health insurance policies. It invests $369 billion over the decade on tax incentives to fight climate change, including $4,000 for used electric vehicles and $7,500 for new ones. The package is paid for largely by imposing a 15% minimum tax on corporations earning more than $1 billion a year and by allowing the federal government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower costs. Leftover savings, some $300 billion, will go to pay down deficits. With Republicans solidly opposed, Democrats will need every senator in their 50-50 majority to ensure passage, which is what gives Manchin — and every other senator, in fact — such a strong hand in negotiations.” More:

“After Clash, Manchin and Schumer Rushed to Reset Climate and Tax Deal” [New York Times]. “Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has also been a holdout on her party’s domestic policy package, skipped the meeting with Mr. Schumer on Thursday and would not comment on the bill or indicate whether she planned to support it. She dispatched a spokeswoman to say she was reviewing the text and waiting to hear if it complied with Senate rules.” • Sinema’s got a point. The Norms Fairy Senate Parliamentarian could put the kibosh on the whole thing!

“A Manchin Miracle?” [Ryan Grim, Bad News]. “I’m as stunned as you are. This evening, seemingly out of thin air, Manchin and Chuck Schumer put out a joint statement announcing they had come to terms on a deal – a bill, even – that they called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. I can’t ever recall a major deal being announced without the Capitol Hill press corps knowing that negotiations were even taking place…. That $369 billion for ‘energy security and climate change,’ if it becomes law, will change the world. It represents the biggest climate investment made by any country ever, and it will unlock potentially trillions in private capital, which is waiting on the sidelines for the types of subsidies, credits and guarantees this bill will include. It’ll also spur other countries to make their own investments, not wanting to fall behind in the industry that will dominate the next century. It’s projected to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S. by 2030 by 40 percent. That’s huge.” • Maybe. I don’t buy the “unlock private capital” line, though. We didn’t need to do that for, say, the Manhattan Project, or indeed building the machine that won World War II. In fact, is anything less than a trillion even “real money” these days?

“What’s in the Democrats’ climate and energy legislation” [Politics]. The deck: “The bill, dubbed the ‘Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,’ would spend nearly $370 billion on a raft of tax credits to help stimulate adoption of clean energy technologies.” Tax credits? Wowersl, if there’s anything a llberal Democrat loves more than means testing, it’s tax credits. On methane: “Oil and gas companies that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually will be fined beginning in 2025 if their methane leakage rate exceeds a certain threshold. The fee would escalate over time from $900 per metric ton of emissions to $1,500 beginning in 2027, and cover wide swaths of the industry: emissions at the wellhead, compressor stations, gathering stations, onshore transmission pipelines and both underground and liquefied natural gas storage sites. The provision is a potentially significant policy for fighting climate change in the near and long-term: Methane is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, meaning curbing it is one of the fastest, most efficient ways to avoid warming the planet. Many of the solutions for reducing methane from energy production are technical, and the largest companies are already embracing them. The package gives EPA more than $1.5 billion through Sept. 30, 2028 to help companies reduce methane emissions, such as providing technical assistance to improve greenhouse gas reporting, shut-in wells and deploying methane-reduction equipment and processes. It also would let companies that comply with any future federal methane rules to avoid paying the fee, so long as those regulations achieve the same amount of emissions reductions. Rising oil and gas production has been driving emissions of methane, which leaks as a byproduct of drilling and transporting hydrocarbons.” • I wonder how the methane measurements will be done, and who will do them. The story doesn’t say.

“Big business groups lash out at Manchin-Schumer deal” [The Hill]. “Lobbying groups representing large corporations swiftly criticized a revamped reconciliation deal announced by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday. They are zeroing in on the plan’s 15 percent minimum tax on corporations, which would help pay for massive investments in climate and energy security, extended health care subsidies and reduce the deficit. Big business lobbyists are expected to make a last-minute push to defeat or weaken the Manchin-Schumer agreement, which took K Street by surprise.” • What’s their objection? 15% is too low?

“Did Manchin and Schumer Just Play Mitch McConnell?” [Slate]. “McConnell had tried to take a hostage earlier in the summer by saying that a long-simmering bipartisan industrial policy bill wouldn’t pass if Democrats went ahead with a sweeping, partisan reconciliation bill. This was not, in our minds, McConnell’s deftest threat; much of corporate America wanted the “CHIPS” bill, as it’s informally known, to go through regardless of whether Democrats were also able to pass a bill making prescription drugs cheaper. But with a broad reconciliation bill seemingly off the table after Manchin nixed it a couple of weeks ago, the Senate passed a version of CHIPS earlier Wednesday afternoon. A few hours later, Manchin and Schumer announced they had a reconciliation deal after all.”

“Susan Collins: Democrats’ Climate Deal May Doom Bipartisan Efforts On Same-Sex Marriage” [HuffPo]. “Sen. Susan Collins, one of a handful of GOP senators working to garner support in her party for a bill to codify gay marriage, said the Democrats’ surprise embrace of a tax and climate change bill made her job much harder…. Collins warned that the manner in which that victory was secured, where it appeared Democrats kept Manchin and Schumer’s negotiations under wraps until a separate bipartisan computer chip production incentive bill was passed by the Senate, hurt the effort to gather support among Republicans to bring the gay marriage bill to the floor. ‘After we just had worked together successfully on gun safety legislation, on the CHIPs bill, it was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way,’ she said.”

“Blindsided veterans erupt in fury after Senate GOP tanks toxic burn pit bill” [NBC]. “Blindsided veterans erupted in anger and indignation Thursday after Senate Republicans suddenly tanked a widely supported bipartisan measure that would have expanded medical coverage for millions of combatants exposed to toxic burn pits during their service….. But in a move that shocked and confused veteran groups Wednesday night, 41 Senate Republicans blocked the bill’s passage, including 25 who had supported it a month ago.”

“Why two dozen in House GOP supported CHIPS despite last-minute whip” [The Hill]. “Among those who voted for the CHIPS and Science Act were powerful committee ranking members Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) of the Rules Committee, and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) on the House Appropriations Committee. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the House Homeland Security Committee ranking member, who is leaving Congress at the end of this year, also voted for the bill. ‘It’s a no-brainer that more Republicans should have voted for it. Politics got in the way,’ Katko said after the vote. ‘I think it was unfortunate that [Senate Minority Leader Charles] Schumer had reconciliation right afterwards. It seemed almost mean-spirited, in a way.’ Republicans in favor of the bill cited its importance to national and economic security. ‘Taiwan has 90 percent of semiconductor manufacturing in the world. If China invades Taiwan, they will … control the global market. That’s why this bill is so important,’ McCaul told reporters.”


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“Why the midterms look so bleak for Democrats: Joe Biden” [Jeff Cohen, Salon]. Interesting argument:

The liberal and centrist pundits at CNN, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, the New York Times and the Washington Post seem to agree on two obvious truths about the Nov. 8 elections.

1. Republicans are very likely to win big — taking over the U.S. House, and probably the Senate.

2. Republicans in Congress have never been as extreme as they are now, and they’re out of touch philosophically with most voters.

It’s not hard to see the contradiction in those two “truths”: If Republicans are so out of touch with voters, why will they be winning big with those same voters?

The author’s view is that Biden is a boat anchor. The author does not consider another possibility: That voters are sick of Democrats lying to them, not delivering, and fundraising off their failures (Exhibit A: faliure to codify Roe). Flaky piecrust though Trump may have been, he (1) halted TPP in his first week, (2) avoided major wars (both with Russia and with Syria), (3) actually decreased poverty with the CARES Act (in great contrast with Obama’s miserably inadequate post-Crash, decade-long “recovery”), and (4) through Operation Warp Speed, brought vaccines to fruition in record time. Biden’s molassed-brained administration cannot point to similar successes. Biden squandered the time OWS bought with his vax-only strategy, and fomented a losing war in Ukraine. We can revise the classic question: “Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 2 Years Ago?” I think a lot of voters would answer no, and that’s even if you leave inflation and gas prices aside. To put this another way, if Biden delivered, his age and mental acuity wouldn’t matter. The Democrats can argue that the new Manchin-Schumer deal solves the “Democrats don’t deliver” problem, but voters won’t see any benefits immediately (and it may well be that the bill’s tax credit structure will slow that down).

PA: “Fetterman leads Oz by 11 points in Pennsylvania Senate race: poll” [The Hill]. “Democratic candidate John Fetterman is leading Republican Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate race by 11 points, according to a new Fox News poll. The poll, released Thursday, found that Fetterman is backed by 47 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters surveyed, while Oz has notably lower support at 36 percent of voters…. More than half of voters surveyed said they are worried that Oz, who lived in New Jersey for years, is not familiar enough with the state of Pennsylvania to be an effective senator, with 22 percent of Republicans saying they are concerned he’s not up to the job.” • Effective messaging? We’ll see….

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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“The people coming after us”:

Personnel is policy. This whole thread is worth a read, and it gets nastier and nastier as it goes on:

At least with respect to the NGOs, “Don’t say ‘social justice,’ say ‘counter-insurgency’ has a nice ring to it. Do we have New Orleans readers who can comment?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Yang’s Forward party merges with groups led by former GOP officials” [The Hill]. “Former Democratic New York City mayoral candidate and presidential candidate Andrew Yang has joined forces with former Republicans, Democrats and independents on the Forward Party, Yang announced Wednesday. The political party, initially formed in October, is now a merger of three organizations: Yang’s Forward Party, the Renew America Movement, consisting of former Republicans led by former Trump White House official Miles Taylor, and the Serve America Movement, made up of Democrats, independents and Republicans, and founded by former Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.).” Building on the success of the No Labels movement! I wonder of Gottheimer willl join? More: “According to Yang’s announcement, the Forward Party is currently on the ballot in several states.” • That’s odd. The Democrats are fighting Green ballot access tooth and nail, often successfullu, but not the Foward Party’s.

“What makes 2022 NY governor’s race different from the last 80 years of elections” [Syracuse.com (bob)]. “The election for New York’s governor will have only two candidates on the ballot this fall for the first time in at least 80 years after seven candidates failed to qualify on third-party lines. The state Board of Elections this week rejected nominating petitions submitted by candidates for the Green, Libertarian, Unite, Freedom, Parent, Diversity and New Vision parties because they didn’t meet new requirements for ballot access.” • Hmm. Can any readers from New York comment?

“Lawmakers Aren’t Disclosing Their Next Jobs” [Lever News]. “A 2007 law requires retiring lawmakers to notify a congressional ethics committee when they begin negotiating for a new job. But in the 15 years since the law took effect, more than 500 federal lawmakers have retired, with many taking lucrative gigs as lobbyists, lawyers or trade association officials — and only 18 departing representatives and senators have filed such disclosures, according to a review by The Lever. This year promises to be no different. Fifty House members and a half-dozen senators have announced plans to retire; only one outgoing representative has notified an ethics panel about his post-congressional job prospects. Loopholes in the 2007 ethics law and a lack of enforcement have allowed retiring lawmakers to routinely negotiate future jobs with corporate lobbying firms without ever notifying the public whom they are supposedly still representing.” • The law was called “The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.” Never eat at a place called “Mom’s.”


• Maskstravaganza:

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

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Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Lambert here: This tapewatcher is slightly befuddled by the case data. Set aside the worrying assumption that the curves for real cases are the same shape as the curves for reported cases, even though there’s nothing to prove this. We have a period of fiddling and diddling at A), after which Omnicron takes over and cases go through the roof. We are in the midst of another period of fiddling and diddling at B), in the era of BA.5/BA.4. But cases are not going through the roof, at least in terms of case reporting. Data artifact? “Vaccine wall”? Why this slow, sawtooth pattern when BA.5 is known to be very infectious? For example, even though wastewater data is patchy, we’d expect it to be coupled to case count. It isn’t, at least in San Fransciso (check the chart):

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 ~131,400 Today, it’s ~125,000 and 125,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 750,000 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:

A slow upswing in the rest of the south, beneath the Florida and Texas gyrations.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

North Carolina and Georgia have no data today (hence the gaps in the chart).

The West:

California drives the national drop. This big drop is supported by yesterday’s Walgreens positivity data (although not by wastewater. The populations for these two populations don’t necessarily overlap, however.)


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, July 28:

4.8%. 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.

Lambert here: The date range at top ends at 7/27. The “index” is “updated” (bottom left) on 7/28. Today’s curve (see red circle) looks nothing like yesterday’s, which I repost here:

Note states with case counts less than 10 are not included; in this case, New York. New York under 10? Not possible. So this looks like either a data debacke or retrospective revision (like Biobot used to do all the time. I don’t like it because the potential for gaming is so obvioius, particularly when there is no explanation given). So I’m depressed.


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 assessments is only available twice a week.

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 29:

Improvements everywhere!

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 29:

More green. Good!


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), July 14:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 9 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely.


Wastewater data (CDC), July 25:

I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest (red) and next-highest (orange) 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.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,054,422 1,053,969. 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

GDP: Commentary:

Inflation: “United States Personal Spending” [Trading Economics]. “Personal spending in the US jumped 1.1% mom in June of 2022, beating market forecasts of a 0.9% rise and much higher than an upwardly revised 0.3% increase in May. Figures showed a general increase in spending as high prices forced consumers to pay more. Gasoline, motor vehicle fuels, new light trucks, health care and housing led the increases. However, real PCE which is adjusted for inflation, edged up a meagre 0.1%, after falling 0.3% in May.”

Inflation: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.5 percent from a month earlier in June of 2022, the same as in the previous month and above market expectations of 0.5 percent. It was the fifth consecutive rise reflecting increases in compensation, led by private wages and salaries; and proprietors’ income, mainly nonfarm.”

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Michigan Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan consumer sentiment rose to 51.5 in July of 2022 from a record low of 50 in June, in line with preliminary estimates. The current economic conditions subindex was revised higher to 58.1 from a preliminary of 57.1 while the expectations gauge was unchanged at 47.3, the lowest since 2009. At the same time, concerns over global factors have eased somewhat. This easing provided some limited support to buying conditions for durables, which remained near the all-time low reached last month, as well as a modest retreat in long run inflation expectations.”

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago PMI in the United States decreased to 51.1 points in July of 2022 from 56.0 points in June and missing market forecasts of 55. It was the lowest reading since August of 2020.”

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Tech: “Spreadsheets Are Hot—and Cranking Out Complex Code” [Wired]. From April, still germane: “[S]preadsheets are joining the ‘no code’ trend in Silicon Valley—they’re becoming tools that let non-programmers automate some very complex workflows. I spoke to Mário Tarouca, a Portuguese entrepreneur who used Rows in precisely that way. He’d founded a startup in Lisbon (now acquired by the food-ordering firm EatTasty) that let people in Airbnbs order delivery meals from local cooks.” Oh, great. More: “Tarouca used Rows as the backend for his service: Customer orders flowed into his sheets from his web site, and local cooks typed their inventory into forms he created with Rows; if a formula detected the cooks weren’t making enough of a particular item (orders for omelettes > supply of omelettes), the sheets would blast a warning out to his team’s Slack so someone could deal with it. ‘I’m not a developer, but I’m a geek,’ he told me. ‘It’s really fun to build these things.’ Because he was already familiar with regular spreadsheets, he says, it wasn’t terribly hard to figure out. Indeed, as Tarouca pointed out, a spreadsheet is actually better for building a small business app than an old-fashioned database. Databases are powerful but inscrutable; to see what’s ‘in’ yours, you need to query it, which usually means having a programmer on staff. But with a spreadsheet, everyone knows how to open it up and look at it. The user interface—columns and rows—is part of our cognitive canon, and decades of use have trained businessfolk everywhere in what tech writer Steven Levy neatly dubbed, back in 1984, ‘A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge.'” • Sounds maintainable!

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 29 at 1:24 PM EDT.

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

“State Department.” Really?

News of the Wired

“The Centuries-Long Quest For The Scent Of God” [Noema]. “Wherever [Padre Pio (later sainted) went, he carried with him an intense aroma of violet. Priests and laypeople alike reported being met with waves of the pleasant odor during the Sanctus, a triumphal moment of the Catholic mass. So powerful was the scent it could cause some to faint. ‘If you wanted to know where Padre Pio was,’ a contemporary said, ‘it was enough to follow the wake of the perfume.’… Unusual smells have been a distinguishing mark of holiness since the earliest days of Christian worship…. If God doesn’t have a body, then he certainly doesn’t have a smell. But running alongside that tradition is a different historic quest to understand God’s nature, not by withdrawing from the world, but by embracing our sensual experience of it. Within this tradition, smell has long been a method of interacting with the divine and attempting to understand it. ‘Christianity emerged in a world where smells mattered,’ the historian Susan Ashbrook Harvey writes in her seminal work on sacred smells in the ancient world, ‘Scenting Salvation: Ancient Christianity and the Olfactory Imagination.’ ‘A common understanding prevailed that sensory experiences carried effective power for good and for ill.’ The association of pleasant smells and good things is innate to human nature. But for as long as we have recorded history, people have gone out of their way to cultivate strange and exotic odors specifically for their use in worship, searching to capture a scent both pleasing to and reflective of God.”

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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 Eoin Mac:

Eoin Mac writes: “This is Borage. It’s a high quality edible flower, the bees love it and it grows like a weed. Super plant.” I’m a big borage fan. It’s nice to look West at sunset and see how the light plays over the fuzzy stems.

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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. tegnost

      i wish I was getting a cut of the corporate donations flooding into sinemas dragon lair.

    2. George Monday Floydweather

      I don’t know how you folks out there do it. The “2pm” water cooler drop arrives at a very civilized 10am here in Alaska. Perfectly time for a second cup of coffee. I usually start actually working after I’ve gotten through this important task.

    3. ambrit

      Wait. I thought that our Fearless Leaders required us to be “Napping” all of the time. Are you telling me that there is another reality out there??!! Yippee!

  1. Henry Moon Pie

    The “scent of God”–

    When I was a student in a Lutheran seminary decades ago, we had daily chapel. Professors would preside in turn, preaching and leading the service. Once a week, we celebrated communion, and one professor, when he presided, engaged in the not-especially-Lutheran practice of “smells and bells,” i.e. bringing out the censers and the bell. We got smoked during the procession. The bell rang during the Words of Institution, and our professor, who had spent time with the “papists” at Notre Dame, was happy.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Henry Moon Pie:

      I recall, in my altar-boy days, using a wooden hammer on those days during Holy Week, when bells were set aside. The sound of the smack of wood on wood was chilling.

      The champions for incense, though, are the Orthodox churches. I thought that I was prepared, as a cradle Catholic, but I recall being in a Russian Orthodox cathedral where even some of the choir had thuribles–the place was a haze of holy scent.

      And the saints and their fragrant and holy secretions:


      a Christian saint from whose relics or burial place “an aromatic liquid with healing properties”[2] or “holy water (very much like myrrh)”,[3] known as the Oil of Saints, “is said to have flowed, or still flows”,[4] or from whose body emanates a scent known as the odor of sanctity

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “The sound of the smack of wood on wood was chilling”

        A similar feeling can be aroused by the strepitus, usually attained by slamming a book shut, in the darkness at the end of Tenebrae on Good Friday.

      2. britzklieg

        ah memories, of my altar boy days in the Greek Orthodox church. my favorite task was lighting the little round pre-fab coal (6 to a box!) that fit perfectly at the bottom of the thurible and upon which I sprinkled small chunks of dried resin (I believed to be the same mastic as one encounters in retsina and Greek chewing gum) while blowing lightly until the smoke started rising copiously..

        That, and preparing the communion wine. It all happened back stage, before the Great Entrance, while the priest chanted off-key to the pewed audience (in ancient Greek which no one really understood) and I, out of view, could take a couple good swigs from the Mogen David Concord bottle pre-transubstantiation.

        Between the smoke and the wine I would often hallucinate, subduing adolescent giggles, trying not to see the celebrant as some guy with a beard wearing a seriously fashion-backward ball gown. My gateway drugs

  2. nippersdad

    “Chocolate rations shall increase to 4 grams in celebration.”

    Yay! What is that in pounds?

      1. nippersdad

        (Putting on my Archie Bunker hat)

        That seems like a kind of pointless measure. I can see why the Russians hated Napoleon now.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Ahem. Would that be Victory Chocolate? I am told that you have to wash it down with Victory Gin to make it palatable.

  3. debbie

    Cases are way under reported in Missouri.

    Look at the map of rapid rising counties.

    Now look at the wastewater map.

    It seems like everyone has it.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    Susan Collins: Democrats’ Climate Deal May Doom Bipartisan Efforts on Same-Sex Marriage

    Liberals: Lack of Borage among the Crudités May Doom Bipartisan Efforts on Same-Sex Marriage

    Calvinists: Our Biblical Misinterpretations May Doom Bipartisan Efforts on Same-Sex Marriage

    Obama: I’m Still Evolving on Doomed Bipartisan Efforts on Same-Sex Marriage but Can Be Bought Off Easily

    Heck, I’ve witnessed the excuse-a-thon twirling thousands of times.

    1. ambrit

      Yes. The same old “Look! Over there! Something shiny!” routine.
      Collins just lost any respect I ever had for her.

      1. Pat

        It occurs to me that just as various senators have been vey useful to the bipartisan tools crowd some have almost Emeritus standing they have been dong it for so long. They are also the most likely to have bipartisan cooperation in keeping their jobs. (Memories of Connecticut for Lieberman waft through)

        Collins is just so damn useful.

  5. General Jinjur

    When and if the bill gets implemented I’m wondering about the $2,000.00 max oop cost for medicines. Would this apply to medicines that insurance companies refuse to cover despite doctors prescribing them? Several times we’ve had to pay for the complete costs of our medicines because even though we both have Medicare D, our needed medicines have disappeared from the plan formulary.

    If not I guess more meds will be removed from the formularies.

    1. Big River Bandido

      The bill is nothing but violet spray. Schumer’s hope is that it will hide some of the Democrat stink.

  6. digi_owl

    Funny thing about Rows, there are tools like Microsoft Access or Libreoffice Base that offers a visual database tool. They even have tools for designing data input and query forms.

    The difference here seems to be that it is all “cloud”, and tied into other such services rather than self contained.

    That said, dealing with databases do need a different way of thinking than the freewheeling that spreadsheets allow.

    1. Janie

      Going from 13 column accounting spreadsheets and a mechanical pencil to Lotus 123! Three day workshop to learn it. What a liberation that was.

      1. HotFlash

        And don’t forget the indispensable Staedtler-Mars erasers. Lotus was wonderful, I could make it sing and dance for me.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Both databases and spreadsheets provide distorting and cloudy windows into the operations of a complex system — like a small business. Business persons and programmers need to learn to communicate with each other. There is no magic mirror available as commercial software.

      [disclaimer: I am an old guy who was impressed by the power of Perl, ugly though it is. I believer a good programmer and an understanding business person can design a much faster and more insightful set of application programs-scripts than either databases or spreadsheet Basic can construct. The Perl dictionary structure enables a powerful database-like tool without the limitations of the database’s SQL language.]

    3. Ranger Rick

      A similar product exists for the Internet of Things, called If-This-Then-That, that does the same thing Rows does (integration) but between devices instead of business data silos. I suppose the rise of the super-middleman cloud is attractive when discussing solutions for wildly geographically-and-technologically-disparate platforms, because rather than having to consider the many ways one thing needs know how to “talk” to others, or even know that other things exist, it can connect to a remote service that knows all the details. This isn’t the last time you’re going to be seeing the super-middleman.

  7. Timotina

    Gas station propaganda battles;

    “Biden did that!” Written next to charge on pump.

    “Putin did.” Under that.

    “Biden imposed the sanctions on U.S.-not Putin” under that.

  8. Pat

    I am one of the Democrats biggest naysayers, but blaming Democrats alone for the Covid and now Monkeypox, hell let’s add in Medicare debasement and the legality of outrageous prescription prices is extremely shortsighted. Sure I think most people in America would have been gobsmacked if you told them that the administration that took office in 2021 would end up making the Trump response to Covid almost responsible. But to be fair, I am not sure that the Trumpies wouldn’t have made the same mistakes with the introduction of the vaccines.
    There are so many reasons for this massive systemic failure. There is the lack of interest in real health conditions in America, our data collection hasn’t just suffered because it was costly, but also because those making decisions just didn’t want to know that their greed and sociopathy meant that Americans are unhealthy and sick. Our medical research has suffered because it must be profitable (and we have multiple instances where drugs that weren’t good were approved, marketed and sold to massive profits that almost makes it seem like even failure isn’t allowed to interfere with that profit.) Our medical care has suffered because it must be profitable. Nothing can interfere with profit, not even a pandemic. And our elected officials are so corrupt, that they will always bow to the desires of our overlord class.

    There is no general good anymore. And the forces that have destroyed that idea, those structures that supported it and even try to benefit off its failure are bipartisan. The CDC didn’t just get hit by lighting in 2019. It was slowly and carefully infected over decades, decades where the two main parties switched power back and forth. Same with every other failing agency we can name. We have talked about the ongoing destruction of the post office and the IRS. It is everywhere.

    Biden and his administration is a mess and a joke and it is beyond awful on most levels. But it is just the latest in a long line of awful, party optional.

    1. marku52

      When your choices are between 2 neoliberals wearing different colored culture war coats, nothing important can ever change. Furthermore, the purpose of government becomes *STOPPING* the possibility of democratically empowered change.

      We can see this in the Covid response. It began as a short lived democratic will of the people thing–stop this pandemic–masks–quarantines–travel shutowns…..

      Soon neoliberalism regained control, now the CDC’s purpose is to ensure that none of those things ever happen again. Because markets….

  9. ChrisRUEcon


    That wastewater/case number overlay is chef’s kiss from our rancid leadership and their democidal dereliction of duty.

    I have work travel coming up and will be taking a nasal spray and nebulizer to use with diluted alcohol mixture.

    We’re on our own.

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      Lambert > That’s odd. The Democrats are fighting Green ballot access tooth and nail, often successfully, but not the Forward Party’s.

      No, it’s not odd … not if one concurs with what Julius Nyerere so deftly and humorously asserted about our government:

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

      1. hunkerdown

        Cool, I suggest getting your bullhorns ready to scream “Spoiler Alert!” on repeat. Let me see if I have any voice replay chips in my electronics parts junk box…

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          Ha! I was editing my comment to add this below when I ran out of seconds …

          So you see, Forward, with its embedded GOP and Dem operatives fits right in.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Blind Freddy can see that this new Forward Party is just a sheep pen to herd in voters who would vote for a Sanders-like candidate in 2022 & 2024. With a Forward Party, why would you need any other party like a Green party at all?

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          > a sheep pen to herd in voters who would vote for a Sanders-like candidate in 2022 & 2024

          I would posit that the intersection of Yang voters and Bernie voters is very small. Yang’s entire Dem primary run was largely based on a $1K/month UBI being a panacea to replace the social safety net.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I concur with the opinion that very few people would mistake Yang for a “Sanders-like figure” or for that matter would mistake Christine Todd Whitman for an “Alexandria Occasio-Cortez-like figure”.

            A few people, very few, might actually be that stupid. In which case, Yang and Whitman would be a very interesting stupid-magnet.

            Most of the people who would support Yang-Whitman would be John Stewart types and “Rally for Sanity” attendee-types.

      3. ChrisRUEcon


        Hello? 911? I’d like to report a murder … (via #Twitter)

        I really hope Fetterman sees this through … and puts Oz out of his misery.

  10. doug

    So many places are stopping testing now, wastewater is a better metric, and the undercount is likely to be increasing.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      The “reported” cases are essentially an economic indicator, where the median cost of $127 serves as a barrier to entry for data.

    2. Milton

      That’s good. It means the death rate is even lower than seasonal flu (about 1%).
      BuT wHaT aBoUt LoNg cOvId…

      1. hunkerdown

        Milton, you might have missed the tweet on Links today about the fit 25-year-old who, due to multiple COVID infections, left no salvageable organs.

        1. JBird4049

          Having myself internally rotted to death over years just doesn’t sound that much better than dying of the flu over a few weeks. All I get is more time to prepare for my departure.

          This reminds of HIV/AIDS in that it took time to die, often horribly, as it did its thing. Different diseases that killed you by bits of an inch. Marvelous.

  11. Tvc15

    L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein – Bizarre that the State Department rented out a five-story upper East Side mansion to Jeffrey Epstein from 1992 to 1996. “State Department.” Really?

    Trump Labor Secretary Alex Acosta during his confirmation hearings, “I Was Told Epstein ‘Belonged to Intelligence’ And to Leave It Alone.” I’m sure there is nothing to see here, it’s probably a coincidence.

    1. JBird4049

      Nothing new, really. The State Department has been involved in such for at least a century. Probably over a hundred and twenty years.

      The Department has worked very closely with the Department of Defense starting when it was the War Department and the Department of the Navy, and later with any of the agencies and departments dealing with overseas matters especially the CIA. Using brothels and pimps like Epstein has been a common tactic. When it comes with places like Puerto Rico, the FBI also works with or for the State Department. Coups are often run through the State Department, which uses the American embassies for them after all.

      This might have changed in the twenty years I last read up on this, and I am more familiar with the Cold War antics, but I think not.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Epstein forgot that he was just a sexual depravity services technician for the Great and the Good and took himself for being the Master of the House instead of just the Principal Handyman. Perhaps that’s why he was so stupid as to actually come back to America . . . . because he didn’t believe the authorities would regard him as an inconvenient ex-pet who needed to be dealt with using a rock, a rope and a pond.

      Others have noted that his little black book and other client lists have been very carefully suppressed.

      I wonder how Ghislaine Maxwell has been able to terrify these people into not yet daring to assassinate her.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Probably she has copies of those black books, videos, etc. stashed where the spooks have been unable to find them. If she does an ‘Epstein’, then you will find that material published on the net both near and far where even the main stream media can shut it down. Already she has been transferred into a nicer prison where conditions are much better but she would not be idiotic enough to trust the Feds.

  12. Alex Cox

    The Twitter link to the old news article reporting that the State Department rented Jeffrey Epstein a 5 storey mansion in NY from 1992-1996 and then allowed him to sublet the mansion at a profit seems somewhat important.

    What am I bet we never hear about this again?

    1. Acacia

      Alex Cox the film director could make a pretty biting satire about the contemporary US. ;)

    1. LifelongLib

      For some reason the video mentions Korea, but the event takes place over England.

      I don’t doubt the pilot’s account, but I’m skeptical that he’d be ordered to fire on something unless whoever giving the order knew what he’d be shooting at. It seems totally irresponsible to fire on an unknown radar blip.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Yes. What we call corn smut is called huitlacoche in Mexico. I think that is from the Nahuatl language name for it. Some American chefs are trying to rebrand it with the name ” corn truffle”.

      Here is a bunch of images of huitlacoche with URLs for people who want to go URL diving.

      It sure does look awful. I found some growing on a corn plant once. I tried it. It tasted . . . interesting. If it shows up again, I will try it again. I may try it a few times after that, just to be sure whether I like it or not.

      I remember reading in one of the Seed Savers Annual Exchange Listings about a corn someone was offering which was very susceptible to corn smut. If one liked corn smut, one would want to grow some corn which would be sure to host some corn smut, so one could be sure of having some corn smut to eat.

  13. JBird4049

    At O’Hare I was asked by @TSA security guards to take off my elastomeric respirator for scanning after the initial scanning set off. I explained I have kidney disease and am immunocompromised. I asked for a mask and was provided with a cloth mask. Boarding soon. Wish me luck!

    Well, yes. The show must go on after all.

      1. JBird4049

        I was thinking of TSA/DHS’ Kabuki show called Pretending to Keep Us Sheep Safe From the Big Bad Wolf, but Rule Two works just fine as well.

  14. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    New Orleanian here,

    I can confirm the “counter insurgency” NGOs sabotaging any radical direct action in favor of BS Twitter Campaigns and reaching out to the City Council/Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.

    There’s the OPSO that run the jails. NOPD does the non jail stuff.

    I did a fair amount stuff with the OPPRC aka Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition. Basically, while I was there they were working on Cash Bail Reform, No New Prison Expansion, and a few others. They received their funding from Women With A Vision. That foundation funded a bunch of other local NGOs. I assume the Vision Foundation gets its donations from local Neoliberal Elite. I never asked.

    It became clear “reform” is not Becnel’s cup of tea. I lasted about 6 months before I got disheartened and quit. A major event we were planning got canned because the local city council member thought it would bring unwanted negative attention to us. We were gonna do a rock concert block party for the residents who’s neighborhood was gonna be affected by the expansion. Invite local leaders and radicals and have a town hall style shindig. Plus the inmates at the jail would be able to hear us which is why I really wanted it to happen. Weeks of planning canned cuz of a 5 minute phone call. Oh well.

    Another thing that stood out as well after reading the Twitter thread on CresentCityCorps was Propeller. It’s like a WeWork warehouse of cubicles stationed with NGOs and small businesses. OPPRC had a bunch of strategy sessions there. Bunch of PMC malarkey. It’s all a scam. It’s all about money. Playing the part in a city wide theater for the unsuspecting Public. I felt used and gross.

    Don’t defund the police. These are ordinary workers. Abolish the Prisons. Retrain the police to go after white collar criminals. Use fine money to fund diversion programs for nonviolent offenders. Especially drugs and any crime resulting from addiction or despair.

    The whole Anti Racism thing is an Identity Politics sideshow to keep Police Budgets increasing every year. Plus! It doesn’t solve shit. While the poor get poorer and the media blowing up small crime as huge scandals. Like in New Orleans with the car thefts last year. Every day on the radio having to Frm Sheriff’s Newell Normand and local lib Idiot Tommy…can’t even remember his last name. Lately Tommy has been defacto fund raising for L Cheney. Triple Gross.

    Anyways….that’s all I’ve got.

    Got away now….


  15. Revenant

    Lambert, there will not be any environmental methane measurements (except as charismatic gestures). For the system, it will be done by differencing, from the flows at wellhead and elsewhere in the system. I suspect since the valves are not all measurement capable, most of the losses will be inferred. I seem to remember learning (here? Work, looking at a startup?) that the loss calculations involves some big assumptions and are static whereas the flows are dynamic (different gas mixtures to maintain service quality, compression is seasonal etc) and obviously leaks are not currently predicted in advance.

    Basically, there will be a huge underestimate at a detailed level. The overall losses should tally though.

  16. Big River Bandido

    Senate Democrats just turd-polishing:

    •cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors at $2,000 a year,
    subsidies to purchase their own health insurance
    •$369 billion over the decade on tax incentives to fight climate change,

    Leftover savings, some $300 billion, will go to pay down deficits.

    Of course they will.

    $370 billion is a f’in joke. Those same people didn’t need two days to raise Brandon’s $38 billion for Ukraine to $50 billion — and not one reference to deficits.

    These people are scum. Anyone who falls for this crap is a tool.

  17. General Jinjur

    I guess this answers my question. From Common Dreams:

    “ The measure would also cap out-of-pocket medicine costs at $2,000 a year for recipients of Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit provided through private plans approved by the federal government.”

  18. Mikel

    “Wikipedia suspended editing on their page for the word “recession” after users were furiously editing back and forth, as politically-driven debate rages over the word….’

    People are saying the Biden administration had the definition changed and then had the page locked.

    Go away, Biden administration and every last flunkie…..

    1. jr

      One of the Right-wing meme channels on Youtube reported that when they ran a segment mocking the redefinition of recession, Youtube throttled them to 80% of their regular views.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I thought I heard last night that the Biden regime took the classic definition of a recession – a fall in GDP in two successive quarters – and eliminated it but did not replace it with any another definition. This is like when the WHO in 2020 eliminated the word ‘pandemic’ for a coupla months from their lexicon so that they did not have to acknowledge that the world was in fact, in a pandemic. This is how a professional managerial class deals with bad situations – word games.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        In the WHO’s case, the motive may have been to confuse and divert the masses long enough to give the virus time to become an unstoppable pandemic. Once WHO was satisfied that coronavid was advanced enough that it couldn’t be stopped, then they felt it safe to call it a pandemic, because it was safely too far out of the tube for anyone to be able to put it back in again. Just as WHO has been trying its hardest with WHOpox to make sure it becomes the pandemic that WHO wants it to become.

        Much like Science Officer Ash in that original Aliens movie sheltering and protecting the Alien long enough to try to guarantee that it could no longer be stopped. I don’t think the WHO’s months-long-deletion of “pandemic” from its lexicon was merely a word game to deal with a bad situation.

    3. marym

      People are saying…

      WH saying – 07/21/2021

      What is a recession? While some maintain that two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP constitute a recession, that is neither the official definition nor the way economists evaluate the state of the business cycle.

      The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee—the official recession scorekeeper—defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months.” The variables the committee typically tracks include real personal income minus government transfers, employment, various forms of real consumer spending, and industrial production. 07/21/2022


      Wikipedia saying: “persistent addition of unsourced or poorly sourced content” .

      No doubt Biden tried to prepare the way for a positive spin. I have no links to clarify whether or not he gives orders to Wikipedia.

      1. Acacia

        Yep. It seems that NBER has periodic secret meetings during which they decide if the US is in a recession or not. It may be months before they weigh in on the first half of 2022.

        They are supposedly the official authority on the matter though also a lagging indicator.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      People should probably find the wikipedia page about “recession” at the Internet Archives Wayback Machine and make non-erasable screenshots of it before Wikipedia gets the Internet Archive to retro-change all the “past pages” there on the Wayback Machine to always-have-said what they are saying right now.

      I have seen that before. Things that I found on wikipedia and then found erased from wikipedia but which I thought would surely be preserved at the Wayback Machine . . . . were also retro-erased at the Wayback Machine. ( To be absolutely specific, I am referring to one single thing which I found erased on the Wayback Machine’s “frozen image” of a certain Wikipedia page . . . after years of it having been there)

  19. marym


    Alito’s Speech Mocking Foreign Leaders Has a Deeper, Darker Message

    To the justice, “secular society” poses a threat to religious freedom—and state-sponsored indoctrination is the only solution.

    In case this fact wasn’t already clear from his jurisprudence, Alito boasted that his vision of free exercise centers on proselytization and state-sponsored indoctrination.

    It’s worth noting that the targets of his “jokes” span the ideological spectrum…Yet they all defended fundamental reproductive rights after Dobbs. And to Alito, this fact illustrates the atheistic corruption of contemporary society, regardless of politics; a godless consensus that faith-based convictions held by some should not dictate the laws that govern us all.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The “threat” that secular society poses to a Christian Sharia Law fascist like Alito is the “threat” to block his “freedom” to practice Christian Sharia Law oppression and persecution against non-believers in Christian Sharia Law.

      No doubt certain rich people and organizations support Christian Sharia Law fascism as, in part, a velcro tarbaby by the side of the road for millions of people to get stuck to and thereby not have the time or energy to focus on certain rich people and organizations.

      I remember someone writing that I should really focus higher up the ladder than just focusing on my friendly neighborhood Christian fascist, and it would be nice to be able to do that, but since the Christian Sharia Law fascists have posed an immediate threat and a menace to decent human-rights life in this country, it may be necessary to crush and destroy them first if that is even possible before moving on to the rich people and organizations which gave them power and platform.

      Granted, the Big Nazis were the heart of the problem during World War II, but it was necessary for the Allies to fight their way through millions of ordinary German soldiers first before being finally able to get to the Big Nazis. And, by analogy, certain rich people and organizations have placed millions of ordinary Christian fascist believers between us and the certain rich people and organizations. Are there the political equivalent of HIMARS missiles which can fly over the heads of the Christian fascist millions and liquidate certain rich people and organizations directly and immediately?

      1. marym

        Alito is part of a movement of elite and non-elite authoritarians that uses religion as one of its tools to impose an economic, political, and social secular agenda. They claim their religion is the real and the only America. I don’t think invoking sharia is helpful rhetoric in attempting to describe and counter this self-professed christianist movement. Muslims – whether believers in an authoritarian version of their religion or not – are as much a target of this movement as anyone else they deem to be Other. I don’t know if there’s a way to counter this movement, but if there is it’s going to take whatever is best and non-authoritarian in the rest of us.

  20. Karl

    RE: “Why the midterms look so bleak for Democrats: Joe Biden”

    Great commentary Lambert. Also, thanks for mentioning that we don’t know what Sinema thinks and she may yet complicate matters. The mainstream press trumpeted the “deal” with Manchin, as though it will now get passed, and I kept wondering, uh, what about Sinema?

    Another example of sexism in reporting? Surely this woman doesn’t have the temerity or gravitas to get in the way of this deal hatched by the guys?

    My hope is that Schumer was smart enough to have consulted her. Otherwise, her objecting now will be extremely inconvenient (and embarassing) for all concerned. And is Mitch McConnell talking to her?

    1. ambrit

      If, as I have read, Sinema has already decided not to run for another term, then she will not give a *$#^>!! about what the Party Elect wants. She looks to me to be the type of person who ‘gets off’ on throwing sand in the works for s—s and g—–s.
      She could even deep six the entire program in return for “favours” from interested corporate entities. Sinema is our version of the Roman “Pseudo Consil” Incitatus.
      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incitatus

  21. Ben Joseph

    Susan Collins wants you to know gay marriage might get whacked if we tax our corporate overlords. She is bipartisan!

  22. Economicus

    Biden’Sanctions profit energy, food donors,
    cripple taxpayers,
    that’s how you define recession.

    1. hunkerdown

      Looks not exactly real tbh. The perfect time to fabricate an “empathetic trigger” is Just before the August primaries in a bad year.

  23. Skippy

    On the Veterans thingy … interesting to note that Texas has the best Veteran state policies and how many have moved to enjoy it, yet, now see how the republican party rolls on this … good times … smirk

      1. Skippy

        Wellie in some minds the other option is too – KILL – the economy … you know the bag of manufactured memes some call laws[tm] … and that would make us sinners ….

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