2:00PM Water Cooler 7/7/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

SAFARI USERS: It has come to our attention that some Safari users are having trouble with the Links page: It will not scroll, or react to clicks. We think it’s a rogue Tweet, so turn off JavaScript. (MacOS: Preferences -> Security -> uncheck Enable JavaScript. iOS: Settings -> Safari -> Advanced -> Javascript -> disable (slide button so it’s not green). When I do that, Links behaved as expected. It also helps to clear your browser cache. Opera (a Chrome clone), Firefox, and Brave work as normal. –lambert UPDATE In my testing, the post is acting as normal. Please mail if it does not work for you. After clearing your Safari cache.

Bird Song of the Day

Striated Wren-Babbler, Agusan del Sur, Philippines. Sounds more like whistling than babbling!

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

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Justice Department subpoenas emails and texts from Arizona lawmakers in January 6 investigation” [CNN]. “Two Republican state senators in Arizona received subpoenas from the FBI in late June for text messages and emails as the Justice Department investigation into the events of January 6, 2021, has expanded to examine efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Arizona Senate President Karen Fann, who led the partisan audit of ballots cast in Maricopa County, and state Sen. Kelly Townsend will comply with the subpoenas, according to Arizona Senate communications director Kim Quintero. The Justice Department has issued a number of subpoenas to people who served on fake slates of electors in seven battleground states that former President Donald Trump lost in 2020.”


“It’s Been 12 Days Since Roe Was Revoked—and Biden Is Still MIA” [The Nation]. “Some might argue that 12 days is not enough time to develop a fully fleshed-out federal response to the revocation of the right to bodily autonomy for half the population. But I’d point out that it has been 65 days since the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in Dobbs was leaked to Politico. Perhaps some people wanted to believe that the decision wasn’t ‘real’ until it was announced, but the federal government should not be extended the luxury of sticking its head in the sand when it has forewarning of impending doom. Indeed, the revocation of abortion rights has been more than theoretical for at least 308 days. That’s when Texas’s infamous Senate Bill 8—the bounty-hunter bill that has effectively outlawed abortions—took effect. At the time, President Biden promised a ‘whole of government’ response to what he called the ‘unconstitutional chaos’ of the Texas bill. So far, we’ve seen a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice that was dismissed by the Supreme Court before the ink was dry on it, and nothing else from the whole rest of government.” • Or a big bucket of nothing is a “whole of government” response these days. Unless you’re a Ukrainian arms dealer, of course.

“Senate Democrats slowly consider their options after Roe” [Vox]. “When the draft Supreme Court opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health leaked in early May, Democratic lawmakers in the Senate scrambled to figure out a response. They settled on a vote on a bill that had already failed to pass in February, the Women’s Health Protection Act — a bill that would both codify access to abortion and invalidate existing state restrictions on the procedure. But in the wake of the draft opinion, the bill, which the House passed last fall, failed again in the Senate, 49-51. Supporters of the legislation brushed off the failure, stressing the point was to galvanize voters behind a vision that could be realized by electing more Democrats and overturning the filibuster. Two months later, the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. But Democrats in Congress are still negotiating their next move to protect abortion rights. Democratic senators, led by Patty Murray (WA) and Elizabeth Warren (MA), have been pushing for a bolder response from the executive branch. Aside from pressuring the administration, the closest thing congressional Democrats have to a strategy is asking voters to help them maintain their House majority and elect two more senators in November. If they do, Democrats could scrap the filibuster for abortion bills, surmounting both Republican opposition and resistance from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Behind the scenes, a debate among Democratic leaders, strategists, and reproductive rights groups that began with the draft opinion leak is still playing out.” • How about we replace the current rotating villains, Manchin and Sinema, with two new rotating villains?

“Dianne Full On Team Cagey!” [Talking Points Memo]. “It looks like there may be only one senator standing between voters and passing a Roe law in January 2023. And it’s of all people the senator from California: Dianne Feinstein! We mentioned this yesterday after a staffer in Feinstein’s office told TPM Reader RM that the senator could only commit ‘to discuss filibuster reform’ to allow an up or down vote on the Roe bill in January 2023. Now Joe Garofoli of The San Francisco Chronicle got a more definitive not-at-all-definitive statement from Feinstein’s spokesperson Adam Russell. ‘Senator Feinstein voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act in May that would have codified Roe and she voted to exempt voting rights from the Senate filibuster rules in January. It’s unclear whether the Senate will take up filibuster reform in response to the court’s decision but she will continue to work with her colleagues to pass legislation that protects abortion rights.’ So to be clear, Feinstein supports the Roe law. And she voted for a carveout of the filibuster rules for voting rights, another extremely important piece of legislation. But she won’t say whether she would do the same for the Roe law because apparently she’s not sure anyone will want to. But of course, any effort to make the carveout depends on Democrats picking up two seats in November to have 50 votes to make the carveout. And there’s really no chance that happens unless all 48 (non-Sinema/Manchin) senators give voters total clarity about what will happen in January 2023 if they manage to elect two more Democratic senators. “Give us two more Senate seats and we’ll see what happens” probably won’t get the job done.”

Biden Administration

“Biden administration proposes changes to student loan programs” [NBC]. “The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed new steps to alleviate student loans, including a rule that would curb interest rates for nearly all of the more than 40 million borrowers in the U.S. In a statement, the Department of Education said it was proposing to remove interest capitalization where it isn’t required by law, meaning that unpaid interest would not be added to the balance of the borrower’s total debt. The proposal seeks to make it easier for students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges to get their debt forgiven, reversing a Trump administration restriction. Additionally, the proposal attempts to improve the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program by allowing more types of payments to count toward debt forgiveness, including partial or late payments. Under the new proposal, public service workers would also get credit for the months that their loans were deferred for service in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and National Guard.” • My view is that, under current conditions, anybody who went into debt to get a college degree made a bad business decision, even those who are “successful” in paying the vigorish. If these individuals were businesses, they would long since have been permitted to write them off, or go bankrupt, or get a bailout. That’s what we should do. I can’t remember who said “What can’t be paid back, won’t be” but that is the case here. All the Biden administration is doing here is drawing out the agony.

“White House Communications Director Plans to Step Down” [New York Times]. “Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, will step down from her position this summer, White House aides said on Wednesday, marking the latest departure of a senior adviser from the Biden administration…. It will be the latest departure from a White House communications apparatus that has faced growing criticism from members of the president’s own party…. The announcement comes just weeks after Jen Psaki left her job as the White House press secretary for an on-air role at MSNBC. A number of more junior press aides have also exited in recent weeks, as well as some higher-ranking staff members…. But Mr. Biden has also brought in longtime advisers, a sign that he is preparing his re-election campaign. Anita Dunn, a senior adviser, recently returned to the White House from her public affairs firm. Ian Sams, who had been a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, has joined the White House staff as a spokesman for the counsel’s office.”


* * *

PA: “John Fetterman signals he should be back ‘on the campaign trail soon’” [Post-Gazette]. “In response to a series of Post-Gazette questions on Wednesday about the candidate’s health status as the calendar continues into July, a campaign spokesman said Mr. Fetterman is ‘feeling really well’ and will be ‘on the campaign trail soon.’… ‘He is about 90% back to full strength and getting better,’ spokesman Joe Calvello said…. Insiders expect the race to heat up soon. A Post-Gazette survey of various political advertisers last week found that Democratic and GOP powerhouses have already booked at least $67 million in advertising spots for the November election, with most of the reservations starting in the fall.”


“DeSantis takes the fight to school boards” [Axios]. “Florida’s Ron DeSantis is blazing a new trail for GOP governors — putting his muscle behind conservative school board candidates who align with his agenda. School boards have become ground zero for political fights over COVID-19 restrictions, curricula involving racism and the rights of LGBTQ students and transgender athletes. DeSantis, who’s running for re-election this year, is widely viewed as a rising force in the GOP and a 2024 presidential prospect. Groups with largely conservative views, including The 1776 Project and Moms for Liberty, are also engaged in school board contests in Florida. The country’s third-most-populous state — which is also now home to former President Trump — appears to be attracting significant money and attention.”

“Andrew Yang: My third party would be ‘a natural home’ for Elon Musk” [Yahoo Finance]. “Business magnate Elon Musk and Andrew Yang, the former candidate for both the U.S. presidency and New York City mayoral race, have some similarities. Both are entrepreneurs, both have bold visions for the future, and recently another commonality has emerged: Both men are done with the Democratic Party. Yang left the Democrats to start the Forward Party, currently a political action committee that offers an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties. The 49-year-old businessman-turned-politician is now inviting Musk to join him… ‘I’m someone who thinks that he’s solving some of the biggest problems that our entire planet faces,’ Yang told Yahoo Finance. ‘And I’m excited to have that conversation with him. I think that the Forward Party is a natural home for Elon because he’s a builder and entrepreneur. He wants to solve really important problems.'” • Oy.

“Newsom loves to bash red states. He’s now vacationing in one.” [Politico]. “The governor left town last week as state lawmakers scattered for a monthlong summer recess, but unlike previous trips, didn’t at first announce his whereabouts. News of the governor’s travels to Montana, first reported by CalMatters, immediately sparked backlash from his critics. Newsom did not violate any law, even if he traveled with a security detail, according to a California Highway Patrol official, and a Newsom spokesperson said the governor paid for the trip to visit family and noted the ban doesn’t apply to personal travel. But the vacation presents unfortunate optics for a liberal firebrand. The governor has plenty of reasons to travel to Montana: His in-laws live there, and it’s where he and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom were married. The two went so far as to name their eldest daughter ‘Montana.’ At issue is a state law, signed in 2016 by former Gov. Jerry Brown, which prohibits state-funded travel to states with laws that California deems as discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender. Today that list includes 22 states with a combined population of around 135 million people.” • I’m not sure who these “in-laws” might be, but I have a suspicion, at least of their class:

“Trump White House bid threatens GOP midterm strategy” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump’s plans to announce his 2024 presidential campaign as early as this summer, well before what he previously indicated, throws a wrench into Republicans’ strategy for winning back the Senate and House majorities in November. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made clear they want the 2022 midterms to be a referendum on President Biden and his handling of inflation and the economy. But that strategy will run into trouble if Trump announces his plans to run for president again in 2022. An early Trump campaign kickoff would give plenty of opportunity for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats to make November a referendum on Trump instead of Biden.” • Perhaps Trump knows that?

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy


Personal risk assessment data:

Whether you drive your own car or take a cab: Open the windows!!!!!!

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Maskstravaganza: This thread is a must-read, not just for plane travel but for state-of-the-art masking information:


Masks should be and should have been a fashion item.

Maskstravaganaza: Thank you, Professor Corsi:


United States: Let ‘er rip!

Saudis: Hold my beer…..

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I take the point, but at the same time, the virus seems exquisitely adapted to prey upon fundamental drives of our species. I joke that “extroverts are gonna kill us all,” but it’s also true that conviviality is (as the Slow Food movement has taught us) an important value, part of our common humanity. Operationally, however, conviviality often implies Japans’s 3Cs: Closed spaces (with poor ventilation), Crowded places (with many people nearby), and Close-contact settings (such as close range conversations). One of the factors behind Japan’s relative success at controlling Covid is that they engineered and social-engineered away from the 3Cs. When I think about actually existing conviviality in the United States — particularly in a public health environment that actually discourages and scorns non-pharmaceutical interventions — I think we have a long way to go to match Japan, and that collective, not individual human behavior is the bigger part of the problem.

A thread on the origins of the Great Barrington Declaration:

* * *

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.

* * *

Lambert here: I stopped doing the Biobot site. We now have other wastewater sites, they don’t update very often, and I never liked their weird backwater revisions. I’m also eliminating the CDC excess deaths chart. The legend has enormous typos which have gone unfixed forever. I don’t think anybody at CDC checks it or cares about it.

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

More or less flat. Under the hood the BA.4/BA.5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~110,000. Today, it’s ~110,400, and 110,400 * 6 = a Biden line at 662,400. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes had a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

Regional case count for four weeks:

Still the South, so here is the South’s breakdown:

The South:

Now Texas and Florida are just trolling us:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

2.4%. (I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to and check on the psychos at CDC.)


Wastewater data (CDC), Jun 18, 2022 – Jul 02, 2022:

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

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 18:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), June 18:

CDC has restored the button that lets me turn their NowCast button off. Doubling behavior moving along quite briskly, but I would rather calculate slash intuit the rise myself, and compare that to Walgreens, than use CDC’s model, which is probably broken anyhow.


NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

Status quo. I wonder how long it will be before this one disappears.

Lambert here: The White House and the CDC gutted the “Community Proflle” report and redirect the old URL to https://healthdata.gov:

The Community Profile Report (CPR) is generated by the Data Strategy and Execution Workgroup in the Joint Coordination Cell, under the White House COVID-19 Team. It is managed by an interagency team with representatives from multiple agencies and offices (including the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and the Indian Health Service)…. Effective June 22, 2021, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

There are no more Rapid Riser or Hospitalization maps. Those sociopathic, democidal shitheads have replaced the daily PDF with an effing spreadsheet. No more at-a-glance geographical knowledge to incorporate into our personal risk assessments. No more visualization that lets you drill down from the national level to the county level. No doubt some kind soul — at Walgreens? — will download the data and make something useful from it. In the midst of a new variant spike! Heavens to Betsy.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,044,557 1,043,879. 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 4K to 235K in the week that ended July 2nd, compared to market expectations of 230K, suggesting labor market conditions could be moderating. With the increase, jobless claims increased to their highest since January of this year.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based companies announced plans to cut 32,517 jobs from their payrolls in June of 2022, the highest reading since February last year, and a 58.8% increase from the 20,476 cuts announced in the same month last year…. ‘While the labor market is still tight, that tightness may begin to ease in the next few months,’ said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.” • In other words, this is not a high number.

* * *

The Bezzle: “Crypto’s Free Rein May Be Coming to a Close” [Wired]. “On Thursday, EU institutions announced an agreement on two landmark pieces of regulation: the Market in Crypto-Asset Act (aka MiCA), regulating most providers of cryptocurrency services, and an anti-money-laundering package imposing robust checks on cryptocurrency transfers. In the US, several proposals have been put forward over the past few months. One notable example is the wide-ranging bipartisan bill sponsored by Republican senator Cynthia Lummis and Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand, which the crypto industry has saluted as beneficial, while others have condemned it as a capitulation to the crypto lobby’s requests. On the other end of the spectrum is Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, a fierce crypto critic who sponsored a bill calling for robust checks on cryptocurrency transactions in order to stop the evasion of sanctions against Russia.” Oh, dear. More: “While none of these changes will come to pass in the immediate future, and some may never materialize, the age of untrammeled crypto experimentation (and bald-faced crypto scams) might be on the way out.” • Seems pretty “light touch” to me, at least in the United States.

The Bezzle: “Cryptocurrencies are not the new monetary system we need” [Martin Wolf, Financial Times]. “In a good monetary system, the greater the number of users the lower the costs of transactions and so the greater its utility. But, as more people use a cryptocurrency, the greater the congestion and the more costly the transactions. This is because self-interested validators are responsible for recording transactions on the blockchain. The latter must be motivated by monetary rewards high enough to sustain the system of decentralised consensus. The way to reward validators is to limit the capacity of the blockchain and keep fees high: ‘So, rather than the familiar monetary narrative of ‘the more the merrier’, crypto displays the property of ‘the more the sorrier’.'”

The Bezzle: “China’s tech giants promise speculation-free NFTs” [TechCrunch]. “The future of non-fungible tokens is getting more clarity in China as the country’s tech giants come together to formulate standards for the nascent industry. The China Cultural Industry Association, along with Tencent, Ant Group, Baidu and others, jointly issued a ‘self-disciplined development proposal’ for the ‘digital collectible industry,’ a rebranded term for NFT in China to do away with the technology’s financial aspects. While industry associations do not have regulatory power, they can be conducive to developing standards and best practices within an industry…. China’s NFT industry may be a step closer to regulation with the country’s largest platform operators taking a stance. Digital collectible platforms, according to the proposal issued by Tencent, Ant Group and others, should hold relevant regulatory permits, ensure the security of underlying blockchain technologies, enforce user real-identity checks, step up intellectual property protection, resolutely ban financial speculations and promote rational consumption among users.” • By contrast, here in the land of the free:

The whole thread is worth a read.

The Bezzle: “Why Bitcoin ATMs are Vexing Rulemakers” [Politico]. “cryptocurrency ATMs, also known as “BTMs” (the B is for Bitcoin), which have mushroomed in the past several years, even if most people don’t understand exactly what they’re for. The precise number of these machines in the United States seems to depend on who’s counting, but most analyses put it at about 34,000. That’s nearly 90 percent of the world’s total tally. Canada ranks a distant second with an estimated 2,500…. But as they’ve proliferated, state regulators across the country, and even some federal officials, have started to raise concerns. Legitimate companies may run most of these machines, but some are set up by unlicensed operators. The regulators worry that crypto ATMs can too neatly serve the interests of money launderers and fraudsters, or could hide payments to sex and drug traffickers; even for honest brokers, their fees are considerably higher than normal bank transactions. They also market themselves, sometimes aggressively, to low-income people who may not understand the risks of moving their money into cryptocurrency, which is currently in the midst of one of its intermittent crashes.” • Because of course they do.

The Bezzle: “Facebook Accessed Deleted User Data, Fired Screener Claims” [Bloomberg]. “A former Facebook content screener says he was fired for raising alarms about a new company protocol allowing employees to resurrect data that users deleted. Brennan Lawson sued Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook’s parent, Tuesday in California claiming he was informed about the new protocol during a staff meeting in late 2018 and immediately questioned its legality. Soon after, he said he was fired and remained unemployed for 18 months. He’s seeking more than $3 million in compensation plus punitive damages. The new protocol allowed members of the social network’s Global Escalation Team ‘to circumvent Facebook’s normal privacy protocols’ by retrieving data from the Messenger app ‘that users had chosen to delete,’ according to Lawson’s complaint. The protocol appeared to violate European Union digital privacy rules and a Federal Trade Commission order that required Facebook to accurately inform users about its data retention policies, according to the complaint. Lawson said he realized he was on ‘shaky ground’ for questioning the legality of the practice and fearful he’d be fired if he pressed the issue.” • Great company to work for.

The Bezzle: Amazon playing dirty, even for Amazon:


You say “predatory business model” like that’s a bad thing!

Manufacturing: “Tesla plays ‘whack-a-mole’ with snags as deliveries fall for first time in two years” [Reuters]. “Supply chain snarls at the company’s newer facilities in Texas and Germany also hurt production, with analysts warning that these issues may crimp Tesla’s profits. The world’s largest electric-car maker’s shares fell more than 3% but reversed course to close up 2.6%, benefiting from a rally in growth stocks. So far this year, the stock has lost about a third of its value… J.P Morgan analysts, who cut their PT on the company’s shares by $10 to $385, said Tesla’s production and financial results could be hurt by company-specific execution issues at the carmaker’s new factories in Texas and Berlin. Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently described both factories as ‘gigantic money furnaces’ that are losing billions of dollars.” • Well, that’s encouraging! What did Musk do? Short his own stock?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 28 Fear (previous close: 24 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 22 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 7 at 12:45 PM EDT.

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

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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 ChetG: “This photo is the one I really wanted to send, something that I can only describe as a crazed dandelion, which also looks as if it might have been painted by Whistler.”

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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. super extra

    I find all the stories about politicians taking long vacations (anything more than an extended long weekend is a ‘long vacation’ to me) very aggravating. I know I come from a long line of frugal people, but I can count on 1 hand the number of times the entire family got in a plane and went somewhere for something other than a wedding or funeral. Even piling in the car and going somewhere beyond the family lake and ski houses (shared between like 6 households in my extended family) was a huge extravagance. US politicians don’t get to do ferragosto unless they mandate it for employers and their employees, IMHO.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Speaking as an aspiring politician if I don’t get my 24 weeks of paid vacation (plus benefits) I will go on strike and then the local government will be run by ‘crats and pretty much nothing will be different. It might even be more efficient because they might know what they’re doing. Besides they’ll have an idiot to blame for everything that doesn’t. The system works and you get to yell at folks like me when it doesn’t.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        In the great state of flow read duh, the legislators work less than 9 weeks/yr….

        1. Bakes

          Would you really want them spending more time in Tallahassee? The less time they are there, the better!

    2. Pelham

      Speaking of which, I wonder whether many working Americans are taking vacations of a week or more these days. I don’t know anyone who has recently in my admittedly narrow field of acquaintances. And I haven’t had any vacation in 16 years as of this November. My wife has taken a couple in that span with our daughter, though.

      I’ll admit to some bitterness on the whole subject. When I was a mere wisp of a lad about 1960, my mom promised me that when I grew another 2 inches we’d take a real vacation to Disneyland (all previous outings had been sweaty 3-day summer trips to the Ozarks). Of course, the 2 inches qualification was arbitrary, but I took it seriously. But I grew the two, plus a few more and no Disneyland trip ever materialized.

      I can’t say I was crushed by this, but enough disappointment lingered that about 20 years later when I found myself well employed in Southern California, I never took the time to visit my boyhood dream down the road, not even to see the mechanical presidents. Now I have an increasingly typical stripped-down 21st century job with high precarity and no paid time off, even for medical. Vacations are out, as is retirement.

      So I heartily join you in your contempt for vacationing pols! This boiling, frothing anger is the energy and the very stuff that sustains me in my BS, vacation-free job.

      1. CitizenSissy

        Unless you’re lucky enough to travel someplace really amazing, vacations these days totally aren’t worth the anxiety. I gave up after spending entirely too much time dealing with email and client issues while “away from the office” and returned more drained than when I left.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a real vacation to Disneyland

        You might have missed something in the 1960s, but certainly not today. They don’t call it Mauschwitz for nothing, and it’s not just the brutal treatment of the help.

    3. Acacia

      How do we know “long vacay” doesn’t actually mean long COVID brain damage fog recovery?

    4. griffen

      These anecdotes about not getting a proper vacation, in mind that’s a full week accounted for in the benefits package provided by your gatekeeper to healthcare, er, employer of choice (or perhaps no choice at all). Standard PTO at recent stops had been 14 to 15 days, categorized to whatever the f**k all you choose. Be sick, take vacation, chase butterflies. There is also the pernicious angle for use it or lose it. No offsets back to you the employee if you do not, or can not, use it all.

      Lastly. No mention here of the Griswold traveling circus, led by Clark? Oh the humanity.

  2. Lee

    “Andrew Yang: My third party would be ‘a natural home’ for Elon Musk” [Yahoo Finance].

    So, we’d have a third squillionaire-friendly party. Just what this country needs! Yet another example of typical American extravagance.

    1. hunkerdown

      Yang doesn’t have strong enough will to coup whomever he wants, which the Forward Party needs.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Yang is a menace and seems determined to spread more anti-Asian sentiment than the coronavirus. The last thing I want to see when this dumpster fire of a country blows up is an Asian-American or somebody who identifies as East Asian in charge.

    3. The Rev Kev

      You’d think that Yang would have paired off with Bloomberg instead. After all, rich is rich.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      For 2024:

      Yang/Bloomberg vs. Haley/Trump vs. Harris/Buttigieg*

      In each case, I put the Dick Cheney-like “real power” in the V.P. slot. I really like the idea of Trump as a Vice President. Hilarity ensues!

      (For those unclear, this was a sick joke.)

      NOTE * They team up! They beat Warren/[Liz] Cheney at the Convention. Warren was just a bridge too far for your typical Democrat loyalist.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And what about Jesse Ventura/ Tulsi Gabbard just to make it a 4-way race?

  3. antidlc


    Poll: Fewer Americans Consider COVID-19 a Major Threat as Hospitalizations Increase

    Another survey released earlier this week found that a slim majority of Americans believe their lives are somewhat the same as they were before the pandemic.

    Fewer Americans consider COVID-19 to be a major threat to public health even as hospitalizations and infections are elevated, according to a new poll.

    Congratulations, Biden administration. Mission accomplished.

    1. albrt

      You know, it is funny how Trump caught so much flak for saying “if you don’t do the testing you won’t have the cases,” but the Biden administration has actually adopted that as the official policy.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        I said the exact same thing on twitter to someone trying to defend Democrats as being “science-based.”

        Such hypocrites.

        1. jsn

          The Republicans come up with all the policy ideas, the Democrats deliver them.

          That’s been the game since Clinton.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Hmmm…Let’s see….

            Bankruptcy “reform”. Check.
            Bank bailouts…..Check
            Imperial foreign policy….Check
            Regulatory capture…Check
            Privatize public infrastructure……Check

            No lies detected.
            Clean and true.

            Frickin’ Demorats.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        That tells me that there is one real source for that “idea” and policy. The billionaires will have nothing–climate crisis, Covid–interfere with their income stream. The Barrington Declaration comes from the same source. They’re demanding that the disease be allowed to grind down the citizenry bit by long-Covid bit, then complaining about a labor shortage and offering austerity and a Volker-crash as a response.

        They think they’re very clever, but they’re pushing several systems beyond their limits right now, and ultimately, their wealth and privilege are dependent on keeping this Rube Goldberg machine operational. What did Marx say about selling rope? But this is less about profit and more about having god-delusions.

  4. IM Doc

    With regard to the CDC and the sudden decrease in data sharing……………

    I will have to admit I have never seen this behavior on the part of the CDC before. For example, all through the years of the AIDS crisis, they put out weekly extensive and granular details and statistics in the MMWR. However, this behavior is very commonplace among Big Pharma. I have seen this multiple times over the years of being on an IRB. I have also seen this kind of behavior when an already released drug begins to cause problems and goes pear-shaped. When things begin to deteriorate, suddenly, they become very stingy with data release. Often, they refuse to say a word. I would assume to the extent that CDC and FDA have now been co-opted by Big Pharma, we are likely seeing the same type of thing on their part as well.

    To put it another way – there is absolutely zero reason to hide data that is clearly beneficial to the argument on your side. When this is so obviously and blatantly being done, one should immediately suspect that there is a big problem(s) brewing and they know it.

    It is not too hard for us here on the front lines to see some of these issues clearly. Quite a few things are beginning to happen and emerge that do not fit the narrative at all. All around me, many true believers from last year are going about life with an “Ojala” kind of vibe. I have students here on rotations suddenly telling me about all kinds of concerns their professors are having back in the academy. Ergo, the powers that be certainly do not feel it wise to have official CDC data out there that would likely confirm suspicions arising all over the USA.

    I have seen this many times on a much smaller scale. It has never ended well for the company/organization doing the hiding. I really do fear that on a much larger scale like COVID, things could get really ugly.

    1. vao

      Given the poll reported by antidlc above (Fewer Americans Consider COVID-19 a Major Threat as Hospitalizations Increase), what are then the concerns and suspicions that you are referring to (briefly stated)?

      1. IM Doc

        The concentration of reinfections in the boostered is very dramatic. This is certainly not what one would expect in a vaccine program. If the vaccines were doing what they were supposed to be doing, why is this not happening to at least the same degree in the unvaccinated?

        Slowly but surely, the vaccinated and boostered are becoming those who are being admitted to the hospital. Right now mostly older than 65. In my area, and many others where I know colleagues, one can no longer say that it is mostly unvaccinated in the hospital. This has been true for some time.

        The more boostered the patients are, the sicker they seem to be when they are positive. It is important to note, we are not talking about hospital level sick ( at least yet) but there does seem to be some positive correlation there.

        There are awkward questions being asked – What does it mean for the long term health of the patients getting reinfected frequently? This seems to be happening much more frequently in the vaccinated/boostered group than the truly unvaccinated group. Why? What protection does the vaccine truly offer if these patients are more likely to get reinfected? Given what is happening, why are the media and health officials not discussing this more openly? Why are they not making certain that the vaccinated/boostered rethink their sense of invincibility that most of them still have? Why are we not talking about other mitigations and making sure people understand the importance?

        In multiple industries, for example health care and airlines, where vaccine mandates are in effect, we seem to be having wave after wave of COVID infections in fully vaxxed and boosted employees that are causing great disruptions in service. How long will this last? Is this really what you would expect in groups that are near 100% vaccinated? Is this the definition of a successful vaccination program? If this is happening, what again is the purpose of a mandate?

        Thankfully, the number of people being intubated or with ARDS is currently zero and has been so for weeks……but will that hold with new variants? Will that hold with all these frequent reinfections?
        And how is that going to work out if it seems that the vaccinated are getting infected more often? It certainly seems to be happening that patients are getting ever more symptomatic with each re-infection. How far will that go? Should we even be thinking about giving these patients further boosters given that they are this sick when vaxxed and boosted times 2?

        I do not know the answers to any of these questions……but these are questions that are certainly being asked by physicians who are taking care of patients right now.

        1. Arizona Slim

          After reading my favorite NC doctor’s comment, I count myself as even more grateful to have remained in the control group.

        2. Tim

          My hunch is those vaccinated and boosted feel safer and therefore more willingly expose themselves to more risk whereas those who haven’t gotten the vaccine or boosting are far more careful with exposure, despite what comes out of the mouths of both camps. It’s human nature.

          Second hunch is those getting vaccinated are more likely to be higher risk, and should be expected to experience more severe cases, but that higher risk is still not enough to overcome human nature of Hunch number one.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            > My hunch is those vaccinated and boosted feel safer and therefore more willingly expose themselves to more risk

            Exactly this, and they are being encouraged in their folly by all the usual suspects, some of whom have been named “Sociopath Of The Day” here. Here’s a parting joke from my west coast trip. PSA at San Diego International goes something like this:

            The Center for Disease Control & Prevention recommends [social distancing] in order to prevent the spreading of germs

            Yep. Germs.

            Not COVID. Not Coronavirus.


            Meanwhile, no masks required anywhere.

            Row 25 is masked though. Back to NorthCentros … ;-)

        3. The Rev Kev

          You’ll be glad to know that here in Oz with two new variant waves sweeping in and pushing hospitals to the breaking point that the government’s idea for a solution is – a fourth booster shot of course. Plus some mutterings that maybe we should bring back masks. Over the past coupla months my wife and I have been one of the few to wear masks in pubic but when my wife was downtown the other day, noticed that about half the people are now so disguised. But then again, that may be in response to the severe flu making the rounds here.

          1. Greg

            Masks are usually worn a little higher than that, but at least you’ve got one.

            There is very little masking over the ditch here in NZ now, and we’ve still got high and climbing caseloads. Similar mutterings about another booster as the fix. They’ve been approved for over 50s so far.

            1. Expat2Uruguay

              I am traveling in Mexico and the mask rate outdoors is very high among locals, I estimate about 80% in Mexico City and Puebla.
              Masks are generally required indoors, except when eating or drinking

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The concentration of reinfections in the boostered is very dramatic. This is certainly not what one would expect in a vaccine program. If the vaccines were doing what they were supposed to be doing, why is this not happening to at least the same degree in the unvaccinated?

          Is this true for all vaccines, or mRNA in particular? Can we tell? (IIRC, which is little, we never had these issues with killed virus vaccines. So it would be interesting to see if we had good data on the Chinese vaccines and reinfection.

          Also, is it possible for the boostered to increase as a percentage of the reinfected in hospitals, and yet to decrease as a percentage of the general population? (Sort of a “fewer, but worse” concept).


      2. Arakawa

        From where I’m guessing way on the sidelines, it could be either of:

        (a) immune fixation / “antigenic sin” creating a dead end situation of repeat covid infections in the vaccinated, that cannot be fixed by future boosters / reformulated shots as currently planned.

        (b) long-term negative health effects (of whatever form) that are low-level but widespread enough that the data threatens to be incontrovertible. This is probably more damaging than the more “usual” profile of side effects that leave most people fine but cause a small (easy to ignore) number of people to drop dead or become severely injured.

        My detailed reasoning for (a) is as-follows: Moderna’s initial mRNA research was into therapeutics. They ran into problems with repeated dosing of mRNA, and pivoted to vaccine development because vaccines (usually) produce the desired effect with an initial one or two doses. The current COVID vaccine plan relies on indefinite repeated dosing, because the initial two doses didn’t produce the desired effect. I have seen and read nothing that suggests Moderna or any other mRNA researchers found a way around the repeat dosing problems.

      3. vao

        Many thanks to IM Doc and Arakawa for their answers. The conclusions I draw from them:

        a) The first generation “vaccines” were the equivalent of quick and dirty hacks. Useful to gain some time while implementing other measures (mass testing, masking, ventilation and filtering, contact tracing, quarantines) to eradicate Covid-19.

        b) One must never let quick and dirty hacks become the permanent state of affairs. Rather, one must take advantage of the respite they give to implement the real solution — i.e. vaccines that actually protect from infection and prevent transmission. This was never done.

        c) In fact, in the medium to long term, the quick and dirty hacks may well prove to be extremely detrimental — not a surprise, quick and dirty hacks tend to be brittle.

        d) People who think that Covid-19 is no longer a health threat may well be even wronger than I thought.

        e) We are now supposed to evaluate risks and elaborate our personal strategy to protect ourselves. There are no official data or investigation regarding those concerns and suspicions, no guidelines, and I am now a bit at a loss regarding how to deal with boosters.

        By the way, do we know whether the Russian, Chinese and Cuban vaccines exhibit similar patterns? I have not read anything about them — not even mentions — in the MSM for quite a while.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The first generation “vaccines” were the equivalent of quick and dirty hacks. Useful to gain some time while implementing other measures (mass testing, masking, ventilation and filtering, contact tracing, quarantines) to eradicate Covid-19.

          “Implementing other measures,” lol. This is the Biden Administration we’re talking about, and a world where GBD is taken seriously [bangs head on desk].

          UPDATE To be clear, I think a hack in the face of a pandemic is no bad thing. It’s squandering the time the hack bought us that really frosts me (that and mandating vaccines, but not mandating masks. Completely the reverse of what we should have done).

    2. Jason Boxman

      And remember the outrage! the outrage! when Trump tried to bring data collection in-house from the inept Centers for Disease? Granted, it seems credible that the intent was to actually limit access to data, rather than the opposite, but who knows for sure? Meanwhile, liberal Democrats simply have the CDC limit and obscure data, because liberals are great at cutouts and indirection.

      Nonetheless, the result is the same: Mass mistrust of the public health establishment, and woefully inadequate data to make “personal risk assessments” that might save your life! I can’t believe I’m relying on the Walgreens tracker to help with decisions to keep myself safe, but that’s where we are in a country in terminal decline.

      1. Dwight

        The Walgreens data doesn’t look good for effectiveness against infection. I don’t know why they don’t include 4th dose, since they were approved 3 months ago for over age 50. The percentages of total tests for each vax status add up to 100, but it’s unclear if they left out 4th dose tests or included them in the tests of 3 doses at 5 months or more. I want to know how the 4th doses are performing.

    3. flora

      Thank you. For my whole life, at least up until the last 2-3 years, I thought a CDC or FDA approval/recommendation was the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.” (US stamp of approval shorthand saying.) I don’t have that confidence anymore. I wonder if the CDC/FDA realize the possible damage the fallout from their “brand” reputational damage may do to public health programs and efforts.

      1. Tim

        It happened to the FAA with the 737 Max, so no reason why can’t it happen to the FDA and CDC next.

        1. rowlf

          The FDA has a history of approving products that later had to be removed from use. Vioxx, for example? Easy to ignore the approval process until you see the pattern.

          Being in a safety sensitive industry the whole concept of rushed approval of the Covid vaccines drove me and my coworkers nuts. Cutting corners usually does not give a good result.

        2. flora

          Yes. Adding, this is no time for a personal schadenfreude response. The stakes are too high for only a sort of personal justification focused public response. imo. The response is rightly focused on the larger polity.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > It happened to the FAA with the 737 Max

          The FAA has been working hard to restore its reputation and functioning, because the PMC on up need air travel.

  5. Samuel Conner

    The plantidote looks like what one of those AI art-bots might create if given the specification: “synchrotron radiation image of a supernova remnant, but in cellulose”.

    There aren’t any seeds on the tufts; something went wrong, which I wish my dandelions would learn to do.

    1. Late Introvert

      As long as you don’t use pesticides dandelion salad with hard boiled eggs can be tasty. My father-in-law can handle dandelion root tea, but that’s a step too far for me.

      Agree that is a very cool dandelion gone to seed. When my daughter was learning to talk she would scream “Dan-Dan” over and over.

      1. jsn

        We were visiting my organic farmer friend in Colmar several years ago.

        At lunch he went outside and pulled up a bunch of dandelions, garlic and onion chives, all growing in his meadow, grabbed some eggs from the hen house and poached them, crumbled up some dried salted pork, stirred it all together and served. He squeezed some lemon on it, the only thing purchased.

        One of the best salads I’ve ever eaten!

  6. junkelly

    “Debts that can’t be paid won’t be paid” is a Michael Hudsonism, but don’t know if he’s quoting from elsewhere.

    1. aj

      Economist Herbert Stein (coincidently also Ben Stein’s father) had the quote “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” which I’ve always found to be the best phrased version of the saying. Even though he was a Chicago School boy who idolized Milton Freidman, he at least got this one correct.

  7. fresno dan

    “It’s Been 12 Days Since Roe Was Revoked—and Biden Is Still MIA” [The Nation].
    I dunno – has there been a million things since 1973 a serious party that supports abortion would have done??? Maybe fewer music videos and t-shirts celebrating notorious RBG….
    Bitching now, about Biden, seems like a day late and a dollar short.

    1. nippersdad

      I find it very difficult to listen to the angst about Roe from the people that put Biden in the Whitehouse. They knew what they were getting going in. Biden was the guy who put Clarence Thomas on the bench.

      As you say, they are very much a day late and a dollar short.

      1. Late Introvert

        But when your spouse and mother and all the other ladies in the family still think Trump was worse, even after Roe, a new war already, gas prices, take off your masks, MIA in every way, it’s like talking to a wall, or a liberal propogandized by NPR.

        One anecdote to report. All the same have voiced the opinion that they didn’t think Kamala would be so lame. She has no future, thank dog.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > One anecdote to report. All the same have voiced the opinion that they didn’t think Kamala would be so lame. She has no future, thank dog.

          Just because Kamala has no future doesn’t mean they won’t run her.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            They could run her as Hillary Clinton’s VP running mate. They could sell that on the basis that Harris just needs more seasoning in the VP office under a true master whose time has finally come.

        2. Pat

          It is, to put it mildly, hard to accept your own complicity when things are shite. How often did you buy the line, accept the dog ate my homework excuse from politicians you supported? Being a patsy is a tough nut to swallow.

          The niggle is there. Kamala is lame. Slowly it will eat away the defenses, aka delusions, regarding the Democratic brain trust. Biden cutting a deal with McConnell as Roe falls may remind them of other so-called deals. The constant fund raising vowing to fight, but with no sign of fighting much less victories on any front important to the voters. Eventually the excuses don’t hold.

          Unfortunately, also from experience, gird your loins for the anger when the illusion completely fails. If you think they are mad at Trump, just wait.

  8. Mikel

    “Andrew Yang: My third party would be ‘a natural home’ for Elon Musk”

    Time for a fourth party?

    Party over here,
    Party over there,
    Party everywhere.
    Party like you just don’t care.

      1. Mikel

        That’s why I would suggest another new party. Can’t let them lead the charge as the only option that’s different. People just looking for something different could add to the headache.

        1. Tim

          The only third party that will have enough traction is the party of “none of the above”. Meaning, in much the same way that democrats define themselves as not doing or being the things republicans are, that the third party must define themselves as not being like Democrats or Republicans are. That is it.That is the platform. I mean congress only has a 15% approval rating. All you have to do is not be like them in any way.

          1. Mikel

            True. Parties are not needed at all really. So “alternatives” is the better way.

            The best alternative being candidates run on a platform and there is no party affiliation to talk about – only the issues.

  9. jr

    State governors are turning on Biden, Newsom and Pritzker smell blood. Krystal and Saagar discuss:


    Did you know that on the day Roe was overturned, Biden was cutting a deal with McConnell to appoint an anti pro-choice federal judge? The fire department is the arsonist, insuring a brisk business.

    Also, aides are quitting left and right due to Joe Harris’s toxic blend of incompetency, stupidity, and egoism. Remember to vote harder!

    Democrats = $cum, full stop.

    1. foghorn longhorn

      Fools to the left of me
      Jokers to the right
      Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
      Like was said upthread, just vote harder.

  10. Matthew G. Saroff

    I am wondering if the fall in deliveries is a business decision based on falling demand, and not supply chain issues. (It’s certainly not a slowdown to improve fit and finish of the cars)

    Elon Musk’s, and Tesla’s reputation has taken a beating since he announced his twitter takeover, at least from what I see in comment and twotter threads.

    There is no longer mass posting from his stans.

    1. super extra

      I don’t follow the Tesla shenanigans at all, so maybe someone knows – was Musk’s stan army a paid operation (like I assume much of the dem tone policing arm) or the real deal?

      also hella big lol over him having twins with the co-ceo of the monkey brain implant startup within a month of Grimes’ second kid with him. that guy’s a walking mike judge satire character.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > hella big lol over him having twins with the co-ceo of the monkey brain implant startup within a month of Grimes’ second kid with him

        Maybe BoJo and Musk could trade places.

  11. Mikel

    deeply funny (and maybe unintentional?) indictment of NFTs from the “NFT GOD”
    literally says that explaining how your project will work removes all of its speculative value

    via @benbn https://t.co/oyJuMfXC4k

    Included in that tweet:
    “Top profit making strategy: find projects that weaponize anticipation”

    I just stopped. Again, what is this BS????

    1. hunkerdown

      It’s a hunting cosmology, which is pretty common all over the world in tribes from Siberia to South America, and apparently in capitalism as well. Usually there is some recognition of a mutual dependency between predator and prey, and great concern over correct hunting protocol, in order that the souls may be well recycled into more food.

      Myth. Not even once.

        1. hunkerdown

          Afraid not! Capitalist mythology bears remarkable similarities to the tribal myths of great priests curbing the ravenous appetites of the gods, to prevent existence from being eaten as soon as it is born. Saint Elon brings the stars within our grasp and “cool” cars too, Jeff Bezos is a dxck but he makes the Prime train run on time, Yang is the nerd who can bridge into politics with magical mantras, and there are still people who call Milton Friedman a great thinker. David Graeber’s “Marcel Mauss Revisited” explains how myths of cosmic indispensability, along with storable food surpluses and a good helping of theater, allow something like a permanent non-industrious priestly class to emerge. This passage leads into a quote I pulled a few days ago in response to the WC quote audition.

          Such systems are often based on the supposition of a kind of cooperative relationship between humans and their prey: when one kills game one must do it properly, and this is all the more true of the disposal of animal remains; this is a ritual responsibility that ensures the continued reincarnation of the animals. Such cosmological systems are all about food, and the circulation of souls and substance between humans and their prey. They almost never become ideologies of rule or support for the existence of an aristocracy of non-producers, because in hunter-gatherer societies such a stratum almost never exists. In other words, it would seem that the existence of rich, storable food surpluses on the Northwest Coast both eliminated much of the insecurity which tends to generate [a ritual emphasis on the experience of hunger], and at the same time allowed the emergence of a kind of ruling class that then maintained that same cosmology as justification of its rule. Nobles did not hunt or fish. But they maintained the circulation of souls that made hunting and fishing possible.

          In NFT GOD land here is an attempt to push that line of cosmic short shrift just about as far as can be pushed with unsporting behavior and wasteful harvesting. Material and social reality aren’t bound by contract to cooperate quietly, and are free to respond in their own way.

          1. Mikel

            That’s a long winded way of saying an economic theory is more religion than science.

            At any rate, I had stopped reading the tweet because nothing about the NFT scene impresses me.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > nothing about the NFT scene impresses me.

              The shamelessness and scale of the sleaze impresses me. And as the thread shows, they’re open about it, proud of what they do.

              NFTs/crypto/blockchain are, apparently, the culmination of everything that filling the economy to the sloshing brim with stupid money can do. It’s unsurprising that a FIRE-optimized system built on rent and fraud should produce the digital quintessence of rent and fraud.

            2. hunkerdown

              I wanted to emphasize the supposed world-creative role of NFT issuer-priests (“mak[ing] hunting and fishing possible”), and the extent to which theater and grandiosity permeate recreational fraud (the parallels to PUA-world are no accident), but basically, yeah.

  12. paul

    I hate to be negative in a gloomy environment but:

    with analysts warning that these issues may crimp Tesla’s profits.

    Has tesla ever made a profit?

    Asking for a friend who cannot afford the future.

    1. Late Introvert

      yes, from tax breaks paid by all of us non-Tesla drivers

      but it’s for the good of the planet, so never mind

  13. NorthBeacher

    “The governor has plenty of reasons to travel to Montana: His in-laws live there, and it’s where he and Jennifer Siebel Newsom were married.”

    Newsom has bought land down the road from the in-laws.The billionaire Seibel Systems software family he slid into has subsidized his purchase, “for the grandchildren.”

    Newsom was born, bred and boosted within “The City Family.”

    “Willie Brown has aided in the ascension of many politicians, including every mayor since him. Take for example Gavin Newsom. A handsome businessman and friend of the powerful Getty family, Brown plucked Newsom from obscurity, appointing him to San Francisco’s Parking and Traffic Commission and later to District 2 supervisor. It was all part of Brown’s master plan to sculpt a compliant mayoral successor. With the elevation of each protégé, Brown keeps his finger in the political pot. The marriage of Harlan and Naomi Kelly, which Brown officiated, was one of the biggest feathers in his fedora, but it came amid rumors that Harlan was “a player” not ready to settle down. Melanie Lok of Mlok Consulting, who recently received a subpoena from the FBI (along with Harlan Kelly, his most recent gal pal SFPUC Assistant General Manager Juliet Ellis, and wife Naomi Kelly’s city administrator department…etc. “And they never even mentioned Kamala!

  14. polar donkey

    Crypto ATMs. The first places that had crypto ATMs in Memphis we’re Somali and Arab owned gas station. They were hot for awhile, now hardly used. Drug dealers don’t like their money disappearing.

  15. Jason Boxman

    LOL. Team Biden has known for like a year that this case was on the docket, and since he was running for office that the court is kind of, well, ultra conservative, and for 50 years that this case could be overturned.

    So, yeah, late to the game much?

    So far the bumbling Biden administration has been a complete, pathetic joke. How he got antitrust right is a mystery, and is the only bright spot in the entire administration thus far. I certainly don’t expect much more from an administration that immediately reneged on $600 and made up fables about having never made the promise in the first place.

    What a joke.

  16. polar donkey

    TCAP scores for Shelby County Schools (Memphis) can out yesterday. Standardized test scores are pretty much down everywhere, but the scores for Shelby County Schools we’re shocking. 13% of students read at grade level. COVID was an academic disaster for students with predominantly service economy employed parents. Also, the superintendent is under investigation for inappropriate relationships with staff.

  17. TBellT

    Ron DeSantis is blazing a new trail

    Haven’t school boards been a common conservative entry point since like the 60’s? I’m not sure this is something new. Otherwise good to know.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Haven’t school boards been a common conservative entry point since like the 60’s? I’m not sure this is something new.

      They have been (and gawd forbid Democrats should respond in kind). However, I think a top-to-bottom nationalization of education issues in the context of a Presidential campaign (which I see coming) is new.

  18. Michael

    Anyone keeping track of the number of resignations from the Brandon admin?

    Bojo set a high bar with over 50 prior to resigning.

    Who else should be on the short list?

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      But hey, let’s keep that proxy war with Russia going, huh fellas! That won’t do a thing to make inflation worse, now will it?!

      He’s toast. Rank and file are starting to see the writing on the wall.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      While not in any way defending Biden, worth pointing out that the article does not support the headline. There is no one quoted in the article from the Biden administration expressing this fear. Indeed the fear expressed seems to be mostly on the part of the article’s co-authors.

      1. spud

        it is your typical lets run it up the flag pole to see if anyone salutes its. its a clever article, it could only have come out of the white house,

        “For the White House, though, resuming payments after canceling some student debt might be necessary to fight rising inflation.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Biden’s White House fears canceling student debt will drive inflation even higher — and that restarting loan payments might help avoid that”


  19. Pelham

    Re the general student loan situation: Agreed, it’s lousy. And I’ll also agree that forgiveness is in order. But here’s where I differ with a focus on class:

    So say you’ve got 30% of the population with college degrees and 70% without. Some large portion of that 30% is stuck with burdensome, undischargeable loans that will plague them all lifelong for no good reason. Nonetheless, on average those with their degrees in hand (I’m counting only those who actually got decent degrees) and debt locked around their necks will still, statistically speaking, do better in life than the 70% who have neither degrees nor college debt.

    Moreover, statistically speaking and on average as we’ve experienced during the pandemic, the 70% will be working a lot harder at “essential” jobs, endangering themselves in the process, and in many of the physically demanding occupations wearing out their bodies in the space of about 20 years with another 20 or so years to go as they struggle to kill the pain with the other wonders inflicted upon them by Big Pharma and federal cronies before they can collapse into an impoverished retirement.

    These are two grave injustices. But the latter, in my estimation, overshadows the former. What to do? The solution, I believe, lies in pairing a universal basic income with college debt forgiveness. And the UBI wouldn’t be a flat dollar figure but rather a true supplement to raise any full-time worker’s income to a minimally decent amount for a minimally decent life. So college debt would go away for the probably overeducated 30% but they wouldn’t, on average, benefit as much from the UBI as would the 70% doing the true heavy-duty work.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I don’t think we should subsidize bad business models. I’d substitute for an employer of last resort program instead. Let each community decide what work needs doing.

    2. Objective Ace

      Unless the government provides the jobs this is rife for abuse. How many friends, family members, etc will be “employed” but not actually doing anything as the government makes up the wages.

      I agree though – a jobs guarantee has a lot of potential. Would need to discuss the specifics/overseeing/management aspects though to ensure jobs are actually performed

      1. Jason Boxman

        Honestly I’m not that perturbed if someone wants to take money, a minimal amount, and loaf around. That person’s life. Whatever. How is that hurting me? That we have a garbage set of social support programs hurts me more.

        1. JBird4049

          It is just that most people need to contribute something to society. It seems to hardwired into us as a species; the neoliberal solution of

          1) Because Markets. 2) Go Die.

          Many of the solutions to that is:

          1) Here is some money. 2) Go away.

          I see precious little difference in the long run in either “solution.”

          Look at this country has vast resources in people, knowledge, and other resources. We still have the last generation of machinists plus God alone knows how many experts in anything you care to name. I have been taught by adjuncts who would love, love, love a real job for teaching, but get paid piecemeal at Qwickmart clerk wage. We have stuff falling apart all around us. We have sick people. We can’t be the most basic of any necessity without luck and a prayer.

          So, why can’t someone teach some machinist’s skills in their garage or if that is just ridiculous, get with some friends and rent one of the upteen empty buildings. I am sure that someone will have the tools or that they can be begged or borrowed. Charge the class materials, gas money, and pizza if you just want to teach. Or maybe ten dollars a head if you need the money.

          I guess the reason for this rant is that this whole country is getting stupid silly and it’s obvious that the “investor class” does not want to invest in anything but apps, space ships, and fairy dust with grifting on the side. Maybe the people who I heard about when I was a child, hell, who did the Apollo Program, or built the electronics industry, or the real charities (not the ones now taken by the grifters like the Red Cross) or even some of the social societies/clubs that still existed.

          Even with Covid, there are was to minimize the risk even in enclosed environments.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      State universities used to be both good and cheap, as in California before Reagan destroyed them.

      It would be nice to go back to that model, if we could. Meanwhile, for private schools like Harvard, admissions departments should be destroyed and acceptance be by sortition. No more legacies.

  20. jr

    This time line is doomed. Conceptually, at least:


    According to this narrator, bright lights in the fields of string theory and quantum mechanics argue that the understanding of space/time as fundamental is “doomed”. Kant would have agreed with this, he argued space/time were, my words here, perspectives on rather than aspects of reality. What we experience of reality is a subjective overlay, not a veridical perception, for solid evolutionary reasons.

    1. witters

      Wouldn’t these “solid evolutionary reasons” draw on, even presuppose, spatiality and temporality?

  21. fresno dan

    The matrix of our reality is glitching. At least it seems to be, given the absurdity of current events. It sometimes seems as if some joker from the future, or perhaps an alien kid, is fooling with the fabric of society to see where it will all break down. From politics to pandemics to war, it feels like nothing is going right.
    The simulation argument messes with our self-esteem. It concludes that we have no free will, that we are just puppets fooled into thinking we are free to make choices.*** To believe this is to give up our sense of autonomy. After all, if it’s all a big game that we cannot control, why bother? “Let the world go to hell, as it is now. We can’t change it anyway.”
    *** gee, that’s kinda what I think about our democracy or republic or oligarchy…

  22. The Rev Kev

    I know that I shouldn’t but whenever I see the name Grubhub mentioned, I am always reminded of what the term Grub can mean here in Oz-

    (Australia, slang) A dirty person. (Australia, slang) A despicable person; a lowlife.

    Then again, maybe it is appropriate.

    1. IntoTheAbyss

      I remember trying a steak with witchetty grub sauce in the Alice. It was ok but I didn’t order it again.

  23. Fiery Hunt

    Random thoughts for new quotes:

    For Democrats in Disarray
    “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”- Ellen Ripley

    For class war whining or schadenfreude from the Elite…
    “Welcome to the party, pal!”- John Maclean

    For Voter Discontent (…or perhaps the Bezzle)…
    “Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?”- Herman Melville

  24. The Rev Kev

    Another nugget from the stupidity mine. Bulgaria had a bright idea and that was to block money going to the Russian Embassy in their country because EU sanctions. Thing is, this is the money to pay staff salaries among other things. The Bulgarian government is currently holding talks with Brussels on whether to waive the sanctions to allow the transfer but is holding up salaries to Embassy staff an area that you want to venture into?


  25. Skippy

    All this republican this and democrat that … when both serve the same ideology payed for by financial elites in grooming generations to accept fait accompli what is and what isn’t … sigh …

    Of which so much is based on not giving back[tm] or relinquishing control of other peoples national property and labour, so the offspring of past elites and coat tail riders can be the example[tm] of what everyone else should strive for, live in hope of, being plucked from mundane obscurity and be lifted up to success and notoriety … it is the only dream that matters …

    So at the end of the day it matters not which actors wander around the stage, like weeds that can be cut and a new one grows in its place, but the playwright, their masters/funders and whatever it is that rolls around in their heads that gifts them the notion of – authority – over everything else past, present, and future …

    Disheveled marsupial … Soylent Green got one thing wrong … you would not be able to recycle people as food in this reality … it would just concentrate the toxicity/viral load and would end up like a Robbin Williams skit … oh look … I put Mister Hamster in the microwave … now I have a balloon … works for Covid too …

    PS. going back to ex wifes brothers house to finish up fixing all the bad that is the result of liquidity preferences spanning a few decades and heap of doggy trade works so he can rent it post mother dying. Oh yeah … seems someone did not make sure she got her blood meds on time because of more important things in life, big stroke, now my eldest daughter that was flat out sick living with her at the time blames herself.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Soylent Green got one thing wrong … you would not be able to recycle people as food in this reality … it would just concentrate the toxicity/viral load

      So, optimism!

  26. QR

    The White House and the CDC gutted the “Community Proflle” report and redirect the old URL to https://healthdata.gov: […] Effective June 22, 2021, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

    There are no more Rapid Riser or Hospitalization maps. Those sociopathic, democidal shitheads have replaced the daily PDF with an effing spreadsheet. No more at-a-glance geographical knowledge to incorporate into our personal risk assessments.

    Perhaps they received enough negative feedback to result in partial improvement? Following that link tonight, the page currently shows a preview of a downloadable 33-page Community Profile Report PDF, with a Rapid Riser map on p. 15, and hospital admissions trends on p. 22.

    EDIT: When I clicked the link in the Water Cooler, it took me to this page: https://healthdata.gov/Health/COVID-19-Community-Profile-Report/gqxm-d9w9, which has the PDF/maps described in this comment . But when I test-clicked the link in the quote above, it just took me to the generic healthdata dot gov homepage, exactly as described in the Water Cooler.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ll mess about with it again today. That link — the one with the redirect — has been sketchy for some time. Thanks for doing this!

      UPDATE What did I call them? Oh, yes: “Sociopathic, democidal shitheads.” I’m probably the world’s most dedicated user of that source, and if anybody’s checking logs at CDC, they’ll have noticed NC. So perhaps we made a tiny bit of difference. (I also sent an extremely nasty email to https://healthdata.gov/.)

    1. Yves Smith

      Yes and he’s dead. NHK reporting no vital signs. Japan has very tight gun controls and depressed/unstable men pretty much always kill themselves because that’s considered honorable.

      Update as of 1:55 EDT: Press still reporting that Abe is in critical condition, but we have the NHK report + AP saying earlier that a firefighter said Abe was not breathing and his heart had stopped. Maybe they iced down his head to prevent brain damage as they are attempting heroic measures, but the flip side is culturally Japan prefers to meter out bad news.

          1. Skippy

            Oh you might want to look into the whole kid that won’t leave home dynamic, keeps growing, and considered an national health issue.

            The thin veneer of the past can’t paper over the post WWII changes indefinitely in a cheap hyper consumerist society IMO. Sorta Ghost in the Shell or even more troubling Neon Genesis Evangelion level mirror. Too think a nations past well over a few thousands of years was reduced to Bernays marketing PR ….

  27. caucus99percenter


    Shock poll: Støjberg’s new party throws a hand grenade into Danish politics
    Poll by Megaphone for the first time puts actual numbers on how many Danes would vote for the newly founded Danish Democrats, if there were elections tomorrow. The support now making the party the fourth most popular on the Right is not only startling — it’s also a record.

    (The rest of the article is, alas, paywalled.)

    Background: anti-migration hardliner Inger Støjberg had earlier served a 60-day jail sentence for an order re asylum seekers she issued as immigration minister that a court later found to have been illegal.

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