2:00PM Water Cooler 8/17/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Chat-Tanager, Barahona, Dominican Republic. A busy jungle at night, I think.

* * *


“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

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Biden Administration

“Biden signs sweeping climate and health care bill into law” [Politico]. “The House cleared the massive bill on a party-line vote on Friday. The package passed the Senate less than a week earlier, with only Democratic support and Vice President Kamala Harris casting the vote that broke the 50-50 tie…. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose surprise announcement of support in late July clinched the bill’s passage, attended the signing, at one point receiving a standing ovation. ‘Joe, I never had a doubt,’ Biden said, later giving him the pen he used to sign the package.” Perhaps it really was all kayfabe. More: “The turnabout over the last month has revitalized Democrats who say they now have a robust track record to run on as the party tries to build on its Senate majority and stave off widely expected losses in the House…. And while Biden stayed out of the negotiations that led up to the bill’s passage, the president is expected to play a central role in trying to sell its benefits to voters across the country. Top White House officials earlier this week outlined plans for a ‘Building a Better America Tour’ that will dispatch Biden, Harris and Cabinet secretaries to tout Democratic accomplishments based around the core message that the party ‘beat the special interests’ en route to fulfilling an ambitious agenda. ‘We’ve not wavered, we’ve not flinched and we’ve not given in,’ Biden said. ‘Instead, we’re delivering results for the American people.'” •


* * *

“Summer Breeze” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “To me, the most fascinating disconnect right now is among independent voters who give President Biden low marks, but are open to supporting Democratic candidates for Congress. Democratic hopes of keeping the Senate and keeping down their losses in the House depend on running ahead of Biden among this critical demographic. Since 2010, the sitting president entered the fall of the midterm election year with a job approval rating among independents anywhere between 38 and 45 percent. In all three of those midterm elections, the party in the White House lost independent voters by double-digits. And, of course, the party of the president lost control of the House, the Senate or both. In October of 2018, for example, President Trump’s job approval rating among independent voters was 38 percent approve to 52 percent disapprove (-14). Exit polling showed Democrats winning independent voters by 12 points (54 percent to 42 percent). In other words, independent voters’ low opinion of Trump translated almost identically to the vote share they gave GOP congressional candidates. At this point, Biden’s job approval rating among independents sits even lower than his predecessors. The most recent Gallup polling put his job approval ratings among independent voters at just 31 percent, and other polls have him even lower. However, polling taken this month and last by Monmouth found a ‘generic Democrat’ running anywhere from 11 to 14 points better among independent voters than Biden’s job approval ratings with these same voters.” • And it’s not even Labor Day yet!

“Here’s where Trump’s endorsement record stands in Republican primaries” [New York Times]. “As the midterm primary season enters the homestretch, candidates endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump continue to rack up primary wins. That is partly by design: Of the more than 200 Republicans Mr. Trump has endorsed this year, many ran unopposed or faced little-known, poorly funded opponents. He has also waited to make some endorsements until a front-runner emerges, strategically picking the candidates most likely to win — as with his last-minute endorsement of Tudor Dixon in Michigan’s primary for governor. Several of his endorsed candidates were defeated in early primaries, including in Georgia and North Carolina. But for candidates like J.D. Vance in Ohio and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump’s support was crucial to securing victory. His choices have also won in large numbers in the most recent races, including in two swing states, Arizona and Michigan. Here is a look at Mr. Trump’s endorsement record.” • Here’s a list:

* * *

PA: “Wegners? Dr. Oz confuses Wegmans, Redner’s in odd video on shopping for crudités” [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle]. “Dr. Mehmet Oz has been accused of carpetbagging in his Senate run. He’s also trying to figure out where he’s bagging his groceries. ‘I’m at Wegners,’ Oz said in a perplexing social media video he posted from a supermarket. The political world is divisive. But everyone can agree Oz wasn’t at Wegners. There is no Wegners. It was an apparent portmanteau of Wegmans and Redner’s, two large supermarket chains in the Northeast. Like some politicians, Wegmans and Redner’s are privately owned. Wegmans has a passionate fan base and legendary produce section.” • Hence, another entertaining dogpile on the Twitter:

(Kerry on “Manny Ortez.”)

PA: “Oz Crudite Video Backfires And Raises $500,000 For John Fetterman” [Politics USA]. • Chalk one up for the social media team! Again, I’m uncertain whether Tweets move votes. I do confess, however, that a really fun dogpile can lead to a sort of exhiliration, similar to what takes over a city when its baseball team is doing really well. Good vibes! For example:

It’s good to see a master troll in the ranks of the Democrat Party. I don’t know if there has been one.


“Inside the frantic, final days of record-keeping that landed Trump in hot water” [Politico]. “Standing amid half-packed boxes in early 2021, staffers in the West Wing grabbed packages of presidential M&M’s and tried to obtain giant photos of the president and the first couple that adorned the walls, eager for a memento from their White House service. Trump-themed accessories and memorabilia were snagged. Aides stood in empty offices and tried to find a moment to secure presidential greetings for a loved one’s upcoming birthday or anniversary. It was part free-for-all, part fire sale. Souvenirs were kept, records were indiscriminately thrown away. The Oval Office and its adjacent private dining room were only packed up the weekend before former President Donald Trump moved out, former aides said. So-called ‘burn bags’ were widely present, according to two former Trump White House officials, with red stripes marking ones that held sensitive classified material meant to be destroyed. Such bags, according to Mark Zaid, an attorney well-steeped in national security law, are common. But one former official said that staff would put seemingly non-classified items in there too, such as handwritten letters and notes passed to principals. Zaid said it wasn’t necessarily improper to dispose of non-classified information this way, provided it was done under the confines of the law. But those who observed the process later conceded that it was not entirely clear if documents should have been headed to the National Archives instead of the incinerator…. ‘Compared to previous administrations of both parties,’ conceded a person familiar with the process, ‘there was less of a willingness to adhere to the Presidential Records Act.'”

“The Case for Going After Trump”” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. “It’s time to stop fucking around. All of the savvy political wisdom of the preceding years got us here: with a half-lunatic trying to shake down the country to call off his followers. Trump doesn’t care about precedents: as soon as he’s able, he will use whatever tool he’s able to use against his opponents. This is why his supporters like him. They openly say so. The first time around, he didn’t really know how to wield the power of the state or the most violent core of his supporters, but most likely he will will learn. The Federal oath of office begins, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” If that means anybody in the history of the country, that must mean Trump. He cannot be allowed to hide behind his supporters or try to use them to manipulate the U.S. government. Is it possible that this will lead to bad outcomes? Sure, anything is possible. But treating Trump like he’s got special powers has lead us here…. A political class that can’t defend the constitutional order and the rule of law is worse than useless: it’s actually conspiring with its enemies. Trump attacked the very heart of our system of government. If the system can’t respond to that forcefully it doesn’t deserve to exist anymore. Let’s stop pretending Trump is anything but a mobster and a would-be tyrant. In this case, prudence demands action.”

* * *

“After landslide primary defeat, Liz Cheney announces new anti-Trump group, says she’s ‘thinking about’ WH bid” [FOX]. “Immediately following her loss to Harriet Hageman in Wyoming’s Republican primary, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., unveiled her next move, launching a new organization with the primary goal of keeping former President Donald Trump from regaining the presidency. The group, called The Great Task, gets its name from a phrase in the Gettysburg Address, and Cheney invoked President Abraham Lincoln in calling for the Republican Party to go back to its roots. ‘We’ve to get this party back to the principles and values on which it was founded,’ Cheney said in an interview with NBC’s ‘Today Show’ on Wednesday morning, claiming that it has lost its way in focusing too much on Trump and his ‘cult of personality.’ Cheney noted that in the past, she had garnered more than 70% of the votes in her district’s primary, and that ‘the path to that same victory would have been very easy,’ but she felt it was more important to focus on her opposition to Trump. Those efforts, which include her work on the Democrat-led House Jan. 6 Committee, led to Trump backing Hageman in the primary race. With 99% of votes counted early Wednesday morning, Hageman led Cheney by more than 37 points.” • Hmm. Cheney/Gabbard? (Most of the other headlines play down, or don’t even mention, the scale of Cheney’s defeat. A 37-point lead isn’t a defeat. It’s a stomping. Of course, the Wyoming Republican base is hardly representative of, say, suburban women. Commentary:

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.

* * *

“The Trailer: In New York, a top House Democrat relishes a chance to beat his party’s left wing” [WaPo]. “Four years after Biaggi helped Democrats take back the state Senate, one year after ex-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo resigned in disgrace, the race in New York’s 17th Congressional District has seen Maloney scoop up endorsements, as he relishes a chance to beat his party’s left wing. ‘There’s been a huge, huge change in the mood of Democrats,; Maloney, 56, said in an interview after a house party on the other side of the suburban district. ‘It really undercuts the rationale of my challenger, who’s arguing that the problem is the Democrats. My argument is that we need to come together as Democrats and get things done and keep dangerous Republicans from taking back the House.'” • Always good to see party unity in action.

“Cuomo Can Keep $5.1 Million in Covid Book Money, Judge Says” [New York Times]. “The now-defunct Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as JCOPE, had initially approved Mr. Cuomo’s book deal in 2020, but revoked it a few months after he left office, saying he had obtained the green light under false pretenses, improperly using state resources in writing the memoir, ‘American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic.’…. What might happen next was not immediately clear. The oft-maligned JCOPE, seen as a toothless agency that did the bidding of the politicians who appointed its board, no longer exists. It was replaced this summer by a new Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government. The judge left the door open for the new ethics commission to again take up action against Mr. Cuomo over the book deal.” • $5.1 million / 15,360 nursing home deaths = $332.03 per corpse. That’s not very much.

2020 Post Mortem

“How Warren, and the Professional Class Left Undermined Sanders 2020” [Collide]. “Warren drew Sanders away from his 2016 labor populist planks, bringing back manufacturing jobs, end free-market trade deals, and towards a diffuse set of progressive plans to rival Warren. Bernie himself harped on his core planks, while Sanders staff and surrogates pushed all possible progressive plans in all possible intersectional avenues. Bernie 2020 focused on everything at once, which is the same as nothing at all. To those not guzzling the mass media at the pump, 2020 looked like Warren had the plans and Bernie had the… more expensive plans. The distinct left populist positions of 2016 Bernie was shunted aside to make way for plans that catered to activists, NGOs, and nonprofits, not an expanded electorate. Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign never strayed from his monomaniacal mission to bring the country together and restore the soul of the nation. That’s what he said when he launched his campaign, and he stuck with it until he clinched the nomination. The Warren candidacy and series of plans were almost tailor-made to poach chunks of Bernie’s most enthusiastic supporters, young professionals. Instead of honing his messaging to reach out to more numerous demographics, including disaffected rural, older, or non-college-educated voters, Bernie spent most of 2019 winning back his 2016 coalition. The progressive plan war proved successful for Warren, who poached a third to half of Bernie’s 2016 coalition in Iowa and New Hampshire.” • What a snake.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How should Nevada hand count ballots? Nye County, state election officials disagree” [Nevada Independent (SlayTheSmaugs)]. “As Nye County’s top new election official prepares to hand count tens of thousands of paper ballots cast in this year’s general election, the secretary of state’s office is seeking to standardize and regulate that process. But the two sides are at odds. Last week, the secretary of state’s office hosted a workshop to solicit feedback on a proposed temporary regulation for hand counting that would require local election officials to follow certain procedures for tallying votes, submit plans for meeting numerous election deadlines and ensure hand-counting teams are not all of the same political party. ‘We strongly urge the secretary of state to not adopt these regulations,’ Mark Kampf, who started as Nye County’s interim clerk earlier this month, said during the workshop. Kampf, who is running for a full four-year term as clerk, expressed concerns over several portions of the regulation, including calling for tally forms to be prescribed by the secretary of state rather than the county official, as well as another that would require clerks to report the use of any outside vendors hired to assist with the hand count. Instead, he touted his own plan — a “parallel tabulation” process that would involve running ballots through the typical mechanical tabulators at the same time as hand counting all ballots.” • Holy moley, offloading the counting to vendors [bangs head on desk]. “Our democracy” is in a bad way.


“The Pandemic’s Soft Closing” [The Atlantic]. “Right now, the country has been walking down an interminable plateau of coronavirus cases and deaths—the latter stubbornly hovering just under 500, a number that the country has, by virtue of its behaviors or lack thereof, implicitly decided is just fine. ‘It’s much lower than we’ve been, but it’s not a trivial number,’ [Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida] told me. Held at this rate, the U.S.’s annual COVID death toll could be about 150,000—three times the mortality burden of the worst influenza season of the past decade. And the country has little guarantee that the current mortality average will even hold. Immunity provides a buffer against severe disease. But that protection may be impermanent, especially as the virus continues to shapeshift, abetted by unchecked international spread. Should the autumn bring with it yet another spike in cases, long COVID, hospitalizations, and deaths, the country will need to be flexible and responsive enough to pivot back to more strictness, which the administration is setting Americans up poorly to do. Acceptance of the present might presage acceptance of a future that’s worse—not just with SARS-CoV-2 but with any other public-health threat. Months on end of weakening guidelines have entrenched ‘this idea that mitigation can only be dialed in one direction, which is down,’ [Joshua Salomon, a health-policy researcher at Stanford] told me. If and when conditions worsen, the rules may not tighten to accommodate, because the public has not been inured to the idea that they should. ‘If it’s going to be 600 deaths a day soon,” or perhaps far more, Ganapathi told me, “I won’t be surprised if we find a way to rationalize that too.'”

“CDC promises to end disruption; its new guidance won’t do it” [The Hill]. “Policies framed only to limit strains on health systems [for example, CDC’s so-called “community levels”] are inadequate to live with a virus that continues to drive dysfunction and add to a growing toll of disability. A broader set of policy goals are needed to guide our response and investments. First, guidance crafted only to keep hospital beds empty will not keep schools and workplaces full or planes in the sky…. Second, policy decisions on the investment and deployment of next generation tools, including better vaccines, should not only aim to reduce the risk of severe acute illness, but also better prevent disability from Long COVID and disruptions caused by people getting sick from periodic reinfections…. Finally, while efforts are still needed to increase access to individual-level tools, more systemic and sustainable solutions are needed to remove the burden on individuals to navigate the pandemic on their own. Investments in ventilation and filtration to clean the air in all indoor spaces and policies to enable sick leave must become a priority and are critical to living with COVID — as well as future threats that may yield similar impacts…. COVID-19 will continue to manage our schools, workplaces, and essential services until our policy goals expand to managing COVID and its impacts on these other areas of life. It’s time to set policy goals for the virus living with us, and not the one we wish was in our midst.”

“China’s Covid Zero Could Last for Years Because It Works for Xi” [Bloomberg]. “As omicron sub-variants become ever-more infectious, Xi’s resolve to avert virus fatalities is growing stronger.” • Sometimes they just come right and say it, don’t they? Rule #2.

Lambert here: The decision on how to handle the Coronavirus pandemic has turned out to be that advocated by the Great Barrington Declaration crowd of democidal loons: Let ‘er rip. It seems reasonably clear that this collective decision on behalf of society wasn’t made at any level of “our democracy,” but…. higher up, by an elite that hates masking, thinks pills and injections can give them invulnerability, and loves to socialize at conferences and other such superspreading events. The “let me see your smile” attitude comes from the top.

* * *

Maskstravaganza: Plus a Corsi-Rosenthal box spotted in the wild:


* * *

“Inside America’s monkeypox crisis — and the mistakes that made it worse” [WaPo]. “For two months, the Biden administration has been chased by headlines about its failure to order enough vaccines, speed treatments and make tests available to head off an outbreak that has grown from one case in Massachusetts on May 17 to more than 12,600 this week, overwhelmingly among gay and bisexual men. And 100 days after the outbreak was first detected in Europe, no country has more cases than the United States — with public health experts warning the virus is on the verge of becoming permanently entrenched here. ‘I think there’s a potential to get this back in the box, but it’s going to be very difficult at this point,’ Scott Gottlieb, who led the Food and Drug Administration under Donald Trump and has advised the Biden administration on its response to public health outbreaks, said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ last week…. Interviews with more than 40 officials working on the monkeypox response, outside advisers, public health experts and patients show that despite efforts to learn from the nation’s coronavirus failures, officials struggled to meet growing demand for testing, vaccines and treatments. Early mistakes, including the failure to recognize the virus was spreading differently and far more aggressively than it had previously, and a plodding bureaucracy left hundreds of thousands of gay men facing the threat of an agonizing illness that has not led to U.S. fatalities but can cause painful lesions some have likened to being pierced by shards of glass while going to the bathroom. And experts fear broader circulation of a virus that can infect anyone by close contact.” • What’s the issue with being “entrenched”? People can just make their own “personal risk assessments.”

* * *

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

* * *

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Big story, again, is California.

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 ~ 106,500. Today, it’s ~ 109,200 and 109,200 * 6 = a Biden line at 655,200 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases, when you think about it. (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:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

Encouraging on Georgia and North Carolina. Big jump in Tennessee. Data?

The West:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 15:



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.)


Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 17:

I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August a7:

Pretty calm on the hospital front. If you’re CDC, and that’s all that matters to you — because Long Covid isn’t a thing, and everybody who is really sick can get to a hospital — you’re probably feeling good right now.


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

Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 8:

Complete takeover by BA.5/BA.4. I wonder what’s coming next?

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 23 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely. (Same data, but a layout I like better, and I wish CDC would stop changing the layout randomly.)


Wastewater data (CDC), August 13:

For grins, August 10:

Looks unchanged. What I’m really worried about is an increase in grey dots, because that would mean the system is being shut down..

Lambert here: I added grey to orange and red. Grey, not on the legend at bottom right, is “No recent data.” How is there no recent data for New York City, a major international hub and already the epicenter of at least one surge? How is there none for upstate New York, which only recently was full of rapid-riser counties? The same with West Virginia, Michigan, and Oregon. If I were the paranoid sort, I’d theorize that CDC moved in on the only accurate data source we’ve got, in order to corrupt and destroy it.

As a check here’s Milwaukee wastewater mapped to case data (and will the reader who sent this please take a bow):

Flat, flat.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Lambert here: If in fact the drop in cases is real, as CDC seems to believe, we should start seeing deaths, which lag, drop around September 1.

Total: 1,063,087 – 1,062,770 = 1424 (365 * 317 = 115,705; today’s LivingWith™ number. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a 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

Retail: “United States Retail Sales YoY” [Trading Economics]. “Retail Sales in the United States increased 10.3 percent in July of 2022 over the same month in the previous year. It follows an upwardly revised 8.5 percent rise in June.”

Inventories: “United States Business Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Manufacturers’ and trade inventories in the US rose 1.4 percent from a month earlier in June of 2022, following an upwardly revised 1.6 percent gain in the prior month and matching market forecasts. Stocks increased the most for retailers (2 percent vs 1.6 percent in May) and merchant wholesalers (1.8 percent vs 1.9 percent), but slowed significantly for manufacturers (0.4 percent vs 1.3 percent). Year-on-year, business inventories jumped by 18.5 percent in June.”

Inventories: “United States Retail Inventories Ex Autos” [Trading Economics]. “Retail Inventories Excluding Autos in the United States increased by 1.5% from a month earlier in June of 2022, compared with an earlier estimate of a 1.6% rise and following a 1.4% gain in May.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “A Tale of Three Acquisitions” [The Rational Walk]. “Without a certain level of trust, our modern civilization would soon disintegrate into total chaos. Like oxygen, many of us tend to take trust for granted until it is in short supply. Trust is particularly important in business. You might be given the benefit of the doubt initially, but abuse of that trust is likely to ruin your reputation and severely curtail future opportunities…. A deal with Warren Buffett is a deal you can take to the bank…. Elon Musk might have many positive attributes but without trust, he will face many more hurdles accomplishing his future aspirations. Traveling to Mars and colonizing the planet is going to be impossible without the cooperation of numerous private and public entities and it will all require a great deal of trust to accomplish.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 56 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 17 at 1:34 PM EDT.

The Gallery

It’s like punk paste-up is done by a cubist whose lost their perspective:

Zeitgeist Watch

If you like model trains:

News of the Wired

I seem not to be wired today.

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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. lyman alpha blob

    ‘We’ve not wavered, we’ve not flinched and we’ve not given in,’

    Is this some kind of bizarro day where words suddenly mean their opposite?!? All they’ve done for two years is waver, flinch and give in, while taping “kick me” signs to their backs with some groveling thrown in for good measure.

    Still no $15 minimum wage. And CoronaJoe still owes me $600.00.

    1. LawnDart

      Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is… …Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

      I’m sorry, but this may sting a little.

      So the Ukie-thing really got me taking a close look at Russian journalism and government leadership. Wanderings directed by curiosity led me to what translates as “gogov,” a portal for citizens to access government services, news and information. The coronavirus page appears to be continuously updated with statistics (mostly WHO data) and links to news regarding coronavirus.

      Here’s a sample of one of the linked-to stories from yesterday:

      Infectious diseases specialist Voznesensky called a decrease in immunity the reason for the increase in cases of COVID-19
      Nikita Abramov
      August 16, 2022

      The decline in collective immunity is responsible for an increase in COVID-19 detection cases. This opinion was expressed by the head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at RUDNUniversity, an infectious disease specialistSergey Voznesensky, his words are quoted by 360.

      “The rise in the incidence of diseases was recorded in many regions of Russia and in other countries. The rise in the incidence rate exceeds all the figures that we saw at the maximum in the summer of 2021, ” the specialist said.

      According to him, the current rise in the incidence of coronavirus is associated with the variability of the virus, the emergence of new highly contagious sub-strains of omicron and a decrease in the collective immunity of Russians.

      “The proportion of people who have been vaccinated or revaccinated within six months from today tends to be very low. As far as I know, this is about 15 percent,” the doctor said.

      Previously Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Sergey Netesov said that in the next two weeks, the incidence of COVID-19 in Russia should go down.

      I can’t seem to provide any links to any of Modar’s media sources as the brave forces of democracy seem to have directed Skynet to obliterate these, as well as comments that contain those links. Or it could just be the NC security/firewall- I dunno. But I did note at the end of yesterday’s links that a news website run by Boris and Natasha now has a useful English-language mirror site, though those links get comments blown-up too.

    2. griffen

      Come on man, inflation is like, Zero and such, because he just told us it was. Don’t let your eyes or your wallet deceive you.

      These lessons shall be on repeat at any future time when only good news occurs. Bad news is no longer allowed.

    3. VT Digger

      “Hooray! we can now negotiate drug prices!”
      “That’s great, all drugs will be massively cheaper!”
      “Well, I mean some drugs.”
      “Oh like half?”
      “oh ok. better than nothing I guess. so next week I’ll see the savings at the Cvs right?”
      “Well, not quite that soon.”
      “oh ok, when?”
      “Definetly by 2026.”
      “ok. so everyone will-”
      “People on most medicare plans”
      “Ok ok, people on SOME medicare plans who qualify by income.”
      (sound of gunfire)

  2. Toshiro_Mifune

    Wegners? Dr. Oz confuses Wegmans
    We have Wegman’s in NJ. He should have known this. Also; Wegman’s is awesome.

        1. nippersdad

          Yep. Salsa on a carrot with tequila just sounds gross and sick making. If they were making dinner at our house they would be on their own.

          1. anon

            Based on his recent appearance, do you believe that Fetterman has fully recovered from his stroke, and if not, any concerns that he may not? As an aside, what grown man wears a hoodie in the middle of summer?

            1. nippersdad

              IMHO, Fetterman could be hemorrhaging out of his eyes and onto his hoodie and he would still be preferable to the alternative. Mehmet Oz is too slick by far, and I have seen that platform before, endless numbers of times, and here we are.


              The guy is, literally, a snake oil salesman. Is this the road you want to continue down?

              1. flora

                Fetterman sure seems like the real deal, a not-DLC Dem I’d be happy to vote for. Oz seems like billionaire carpetbagger. (But what do I know.)

                1. Big River Bandido

                  Considering that Bernie Sanders and “The Squad” just tried to save Dick Cheney’s spawn — I don’t believe Fetterman is truly authentic. He might be, by a degree, better than the “regular” Democrats. But he’s a pol, and clearly a very good one.

                  All I care about is that the “regular” Democrats hate him — for a few weeks, at least, he might make them miserable.

                  1. marym

                    Sanders and the Squad:
                    Do you have a link? There was a tweet from a snarky account, but I haven’t been able to find anything else. Found a tweet from Sanders in May saying she would likely lose her race that was a criticism of Republicans.

            2. hunkerdown

              One who rejects middle-class culture and insults Puritan pieties with no familyblogs given, which is what everyone should be doing to the political class and their fanchildren right now.

              Even post-stroke, he has a younger brain than 90% of the Senate and 100% of the Party establishments, so where’s the problem exactly?

            3. Big River Bandido

              Fashion commentary around political races is so utterly shallow. As for the stroke: Fetterman can’t possibly be anywhere near as bad as the Vegetable-In-Chief.

            4. drumlin woodchuckles

              A grown man who understands the political semiotics of carefully crafted and projected images.

              Maybe that’s something you want in a Senator.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            salsa and tequila at the end of sauteeing shrimps: drunk, messkin camarones, according to my very mexican wife.

    1. IM

      I wonder if in his physician hindbrain he was thinking of Wegener’s granulomatosis, and made a “crudités” approximation, ha-ha!

    2. Big River Bandido

      Wegman’s is an excellent store, but it’s extremely PMC. Or as Mr. BRB says “bougie”. Just the fact that Oz chose *that* store is also a tipoff. Are there any Wegman’s in Central PA at all?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        In South East Michigan we have a yuppie upscale store which I almost betcha is just as bougie as Wegmans, though probably more fun.

        It is called Plum Market. I make a point of going there. They have just enough things on really good price sale to get people in the store, and then the other high-priced stuff combined with the “we’re not saving the world, we’re just having fun” atmosphere will hopefully get bought by those same people.

        I also go to Dollar General ( which should really be called Dollar-And-A-Quarter General now) to balance out Plum Market.

        Non-rich people deserve some fun in life.

  3. jr

    The synthetic Left doing that divisiveness thing:

    White teachers would be laid off first under Minnesota teachers contract

    Minneapolis public school teachers of color will have additional job protections this upcoming school year under a new contract that would allow them to keep their jobs rather than white instructors with more seniority.

    The labor agreement’s intent was to protect “underrepresented populations” and keep the district’s predominantly white staff from becoming more homogenous, a report said Monday.


    According to the article, there are lay-offs planned due to falling enrollment but they will be exempt. Why there is falling enrollment isn’t discussed. Where are these children going instead and why?

    1. nippersmom

      Enrollment may be falling for strictly demographic reasons; the children aren’t going somewhere “instead”, they simply don’t exist.

      1. jr

        I don’t think that’s the case:


        So the population has been growing steadily since the 19th century but:


        “The number of students enrolled in Minnesota public schools for the 2021-2022 school year has dropped again, while online school, charter school and private school enrollment continues to increase, according to the Minnesota Department of Education’s annual data report.”



        Enrollment soared in online programs, surged in private schools and continued to grow in charter schools…”



        Private and charter schools are the beneficiaries of a continued decline in Minnesota public school enrollment.

        My guess? It’s the war on public education being waged by the Right and the synthetic Left. The Uni-party.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Indeed, and when you listen carefully to Right diatribes about CRT, “Parent Rights” and so forth, the privatization of the public schools – what it’s all fundamentally about – is eventually mentioned, one way or another.

          Glenn Greenwald recently interviewed Christopher Rufo, a Right gadfly and propagandist who’s curerently having success stoking anti-LBTG+ and other distempers, and at around the 22:00 minute mark comes straight out and says that the ultimate motivation for his work is “choice,” i.e. markets and privatization. Though it wasn’t the main topic of discussion, I was still disappointed Greenwald didn’t challenge him on that, since if nothing else it makes the rest of their arguments disingenuous and manipulative (yes, I know: shocking).

          Obama was a far more effective enemy of public education than Trump and Betsy De Vos (awful as she was), and for a moment it seemed as if the energy of the privatization movement might have peaked; charter school scandals and flagging hype was finally penetrating through to the public, and it appeared that tide might be going out… but Covid transformed it and gave it new life. Instead of neoliberal foundations (Gates, Broad, etc.), academics (Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, etc.) and think tanks taking the lead, it’s now headlined by starve-the beast Republicans and Libertarians, who were always there, but didn’t command the political heights on the issue the way they increasingly do. Even if they’re not always able to get the legislation they want, they can still carry out plenty of demolition-by-neglect.

          1. JBird4049

            Nice to see that the Uniparty with its pseudo leftist and fringe cringe rightist wings can successfully double team teachers, students, and parents. Beautifully done betrayal.

            1. Michael Fiorillo

              In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the entire public school system in New Orleans was shut down – teachers and staff fired – and privatized, with charters ruling the roost ever since, and with the usual corruption and failed hype. Most of that happened under Obama, Arne Duncan infamously said that Katrina was the best thing that ever happened to education in New Orleans. Arrogant know-nothings, most of whom had never even had a cup of coffee in the classroom, were conducting slash-and-burn school closings and policy making… my first direct experience of the perfidy of the Democrats and the mercenary wing of the PMC.

          2. spud


            “Why such interest in charter real estate? One reason: the Clinton-era Community Tax Relief Act of 2000 made it possible for funds that invested in charter schools to double their money in seven years. And the finance side can become so convoluted that, as Bruce Baker lays out here, the taxpayers can end up paying for a building twice– and the building still ends up belonging to the charter company.”


            Don’t Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats.
            Published on
            Wednesday, May 24, 201


            ” President Bill Clinton provided nearly $100 million to the states for charter schools throughout his presidency. Thanks in part to that seed money, today 39 states allow for charter schools and more than 2,400 of them exist. President George W. Bush’s recent budget seeks $320 million for charter schools, including $100 million for a program to assist charters in building and improving facilities.”


            “For starters, the charter school boom was prominent under President Bill Clinton.

            Former President Clinton publicly praised charter schools and vowed to see 2000 more charter schools opened before he stepped down as president. Because of his efforts, he received a lifetime achievement award from the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

            The charter school movement has opened secondary education doors to many groups of people some looking to make money, others intending to bring religion or varying philosophies into schools to combat the religiously neutral approach of traditional public schools. “

          3. anon in so cal

            Maybe Rufo is embracing choice as the only viable alternative to what are perceived to be unacceptable changes in the public school curriculum. I used to be vehemently opposed to school choice and viewed it as a neoliberal assault on public education. But many parents are upset about developments they interpret as harmful.

            It was only due to parents’ uproar that the California Board of Education abandoned its planned transformation of the math curriculum. California’s proposed guidelines–part of the new Mathemetics Framework—stipulated that “Teachers must engage in critical praxis that interrogates the ways in which they perpetuate white supremacy culture in their own classrooms and develop a plan toward antiracist math education.”

            Parents argued that one consequence of the proposed new framework was that some students would be held back from taking calculus courses.


            Separately, Hayward Unified School District, in the California Bay Area, plans to spend $40 Million on required ethnic studies courses based on CRT. At that time, Hayward students’ test scores suggested that 25% of students were proficient in math, 37% in reading.


            1. Michael Fiorillo

              The idiocies of Wokeness help provide ample cover for the drive to privatize, but the concerns of parents are only there to be manipulated. Money wasted on D, E &I grifters and curated/over-hyped stories aside, rest assured that in actual classroom practice, most of this nonsense dies on the vine before it ever reaches students, particularly in math and science. It’s only a small sub-set of teachers who have time for this s#*^, and they are rarely the ones who stick it out for the long haul.

          4. drumlin woodchuckles

            Isn’t Glenn Greenwald a Libertarian?

            And as such, doesn’t he believe in the creeping stealth abolition of public education in order to privatise it and profitize all childrens education in America? Isn’t that the Libertarian Way?

            If he secretly does favor abolition of public education in order to private profitise the parts and pieces, he would accept Rufo’s homophobia as part of the price to be paid for destroying public education.

        2. playon

          Could also be fear of COVID. If I had kids I wouldn’t be sending them to a school where no one masks and the ventilation is poor.

        3. Mikel

          And households that have health issues are probably going to go the online route.

          Not every kid is in top health. Childhood diabetes is big. And Covid loves diabetes.

          There’s a health crisis and all they know how to do is funnel money to the top 1%.

        4. spud

          i watched as the faux left in minnesota supply the corporations with the means to destroy public education through charter schools and H.M.O’S to universal health care. i dared to tell the elites what they were setting up, the libertarians were drooling over. i was soundly ridiculed, and then i dared to say what bill clinton was doing, and i got a call one night, out of the DFL i went.

  4. Pat

    A useless voucher for an ev, increased subsidies but no new mandates to improve care for market health insurance policies and a token only for show ability for Medicare to negotiate prices for ten count it ten drugs, is there anything in this bill that is supposedly revitalizing Democrats that actually does much of anything to be proud about?

    November is so close, it’s PR value may not fall apart before midterms, but if the corporate stooges we have in office haven’t lost any small boost of approval this gives.by January, I will start eating sweet potatoes. For the record I hate them and have sworn that hell will freeze over before I force myself to include sweet potatoes in my diet.

    If only actually representing their constituents was a requirement…

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      But, but, but….The mainstream media all say that the passage of the “Inflation Reduction Act” is a huge win for Biden, and that it will bolster the Democrats chances of retaining control of the Congress at the mid-terms. The American people should be ever so grateful.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Sooner or later they’re gonna run out of ways to dress up the obamacare bailout bills.

  5. jr

    Lambert, I got your “Wired” entries right here and they are doozies:

    ‘Holographic conversational’ AI lets dead speak at funerals

    A Los Angeles-based start-up company has developed a ‘holographic conversational video experience’ that allows mourners at funerals to have conversations with the dead.
    StoryFile creates a digital clone of the subject by using 20 synchronised cameras to record them answering a series of questions. The footage is then processed, with clips tagged and used to train an artificial intelligence (AI) that can provide responses to questions in natural language.


    The article has the decency to note that it’s an illusion, at least.


    Lawyers with brain chip implants will be better, faster and cheaper

    Lawyers could have electronic chips implanted in their brain in a revolutionary step that may cut legal costs and reduce the number of solicitors needed to work on complex cases, a report from the Law Society suggests.

    Proponents of neurotechnology for lawyers have argued that corporate clients will press for the chips as an efficiency measure, which could result City solicitors, who routinely charge £1,500 an hour, switching to “billable units of attention”.


    “Billable units of attention”. Now that’s Taylorization. Just as many jobs require smartphones, soon it will be chips. Perhaps with micro-explosives embedded in them…

    1. LawnDart

      Wired… …perhaps piano-wire around the neck of anyone who thinks that either of these things are a good idea or a sign of progress?

    2. Questa Nota

      Holy holographic conversations, Batman Captain Kirk!
      Harcourt Fenton Mudd would like a word with whoever let loose that holographic harpy.
      Maybe his con artist ways are just the ticket for funeral, er, entertainment.

    3. The Rev Kev

      There was an excellent scifi story based on that idea where the holographs were at the actual grave sites and visitors could talk to them. So this young guy went to talk to his dead uncle who told him things like to get the hell out of the stock he was invested in that he received from the uncle as it was on its way out. As the guy leaves, the uncle asks him to turn on all the holographs later as they are holding a party and the uncle has his eye on a hot blonde three graves over. The story ends with the devil and his violin starting to play but putting it down and giving that uncle a sour eye as all of them are having a rave party at the cemetery.

  6. Michael

    “”“To me, the most fascinating disconnect right now is among independent voters who give President Biden low marks, but are open to supporting Democratic candidates for Congress.””
    What part of Independent does Amy not understand?

    Ding dong the witch (from Wyoming) is dead!!

    1. hunkerdown

      To the contrary, once her revolving-door lockouts expire, her katcina mask’s* best days are yet to come. I would bet she’s setting off for a major think tank fellowship for multiples of her Senate salary the very moment the Senate adjourns.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          I had a sudden flash of mystical inspiration that told me she will run, lose, and end up on your telly.

        2. anon in so cal

          Too much of a stretch for Liz Cheney to be Dems’ 2024 candidate?

          Glenn Greenwald on Liz Cheney:

          “Here’s last night’s Fox segment I did on the repulsive but revealing embrace by liberals of both Dick and Liz Cheney (beyond the above examples, Pelosi heralded Liz as a “leader of great courage, patriotism and integrity”), despite crimes far worse than what they accuse Trump of:”


          Rob Reiner:

          “Liz Cheney is ripping Donald Trump a new one and is almost single handedly saving our Democracy.”

    2. petal

      Cheneys never die-even when their hearts give out. I was happy this morning to see she was beaten handily, but soon enough the realisation set in that she is the blob’s next chosen one and will be around for a while like a chronic disease.

  7. nippersdad


    “It’s time to stop fucking around…..A political class that can’t defend the constitutional order and the rule of law is worse than useless: it’s actually conspiring with its enemies…… If the system can’t respond to that forcefully it doesn’t deserve to exist anymore…. In this case, prudence demands action.”

    That John Ganz. If he is not careful he is going to become everything he claims to deplore.

    1. Carolinian

      It’s taunt us with TDS day. I do think it’s funny that Cheney gets slapped up the side of the head by Wyoming voters and sees it as a springboard to her wild future success. Perhaps the Resistance (TM) should deal with Trump’s popularity, such as it is, by trying to be more popular rather than the incessant FUD. That’s the nature of the democracy thing they keep going on about.

      1. nippersdad

        Admittedly my civics classes are way far in the rear view mirror, but it seems like I would remember the part about “democracy” being composed of endless whingeing about trivial differences in the Republican end zone and who gets the swag. At this point we just have a collation of cults of personality and the banality of evil to bind them together.

        It really doesn’t seem like that should be as hard to beat as it has proven to be.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Democrats aren’t trying to “win”, just point shave. Losing pays them the same salary, with less work.

      2. pjay

        Re the “Resistance” and TDS, though nothing really surprises me anymore, I admit to be momentarily taken aback by the Mike Sacks tweet above:

        “Just a reminder that megablue states like NY and CA have millions of surplus Democratic voters who could move to Wyoming and instantly flip its electorate from one that threatens American constitutional democracy to one that preserves and protects it.”

        Though retweeted satirically, there was much revealing in it. These are the people who dominate our mass culture institutions. Wonder why they are so reviled in flyover country? Also revealing:

        “Mike Sacks is an American author, humor writer, and magazine editor based in New York City. Sacks is currently an editor at Vanity Fair and formerly worked for The Washington Post… He contributes to The New Yorker as well as other publications…” [Wikipedia]

      3. MichaelSF

        I do think it’s funny that Cheney gets slapped up the side of the head by Wyoming voters and sees it as a springboard to her wild future success.

        In order to fail upward, first, you must fail.

    2. griffen

      Many here have a working memory, and how the rule of law that was not applied following the Great Financial Crisis. Ah, the fresh smell of the DOJ and the Holder doctrine in the morning. Sweet fragrance blooms for all the high and mighty investment banks / bankers who never served or were even deemed to be prosecution worthy. Ahem, the stench of the foreclosure crisis lingers for many.

      Rule of law, my eye. The tendency of writers who espouse that drivel just freely despise the Trump family and I can gather as to why. I don’t believe any of it is reason enough to throw the book at one “slime bucket” and not the rest.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        That’s going to be the trick in going after Trump – how to take him down without him taking the rest of the DC slime buckets with him. The elites managed to do it with Epstein/Maxwell though, so far at least.

  8. dcblogger

    personally I think that tweets do indeed move votes. human beings are social creatures and a visible sign of a point of view reinforces it even if it comes from some rando on Twitter. Dogpiles are not only exhilarating, but influence the press.

    also Twitter is a pull medium, which means that you see tweets from people you decided to follow, that increases the impact of the tweet, as opposed to some TV advertisement that just interrupted your favorite program.

  9. Mikel

    “…It seems reasonably clear that this collective decision on behalf of society wasn’t made at any level of “our democracy,” but…. higher up, by an elite that hates masking, thinks pills and injections can give them invulnerability, and loves to socialize at conferences and other such superspreading events…”

    This for sure. The “look at me” superspreading events and the superspreaders.
    Recall that when the first break outs happened, the news was filled with high profile people (global travellers) getting sick.

  10. nippersdad

    What would a Cheney/Gabbard platform look like?

    Full employment through the manufacture of AI drones in every state to keep back the hordes trying to sully our precious bodily essences? A public access channel so that we can see what Trump and the Muslims are up to at Guantanamo today? Moving the Capitol to Jerusalem to keep it safe from seditionists? Throwing Ihlan Omar to the remaining Yellowstone wolves?

    I would love to see their platform.

    1. Herbert

      What would a Trump/Gabbard platform look like?

      Inauguration Day

      And “Retail Sales in the United States increased 10.3 percent in July of 2022 over the same month in the previous year. It follows an upwardly revised 8.5 percent rise in June.” Still falling when real inflation is pushing 20% plus.

    2. Lee

      Maybe their platform will look something like this:

      “The platform of the [hypothetical] Independence Party, as well as its message, is clear and uncompromising: zero tolerance of illegal immigrants; a freeze on legal immigration from Latin America, Africa and Asia; increased tariffs on all imports; a ban on American companies moving their operations to another country or outsourcing abroad; a prohibition on “sovereign wealth funds” investing in the United States. America will withdraw from the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund; end all “involvements” in foreign countries; refuse to pay any more interest on our debt to China, essentially defaulting on it; and stop trading with China until China freely floats its currency.

      Profitable companies will be prohibited from laying off workers and cutting payrolls. The federal budget must always be balanced. The Federal Reserve will be abolished.

      Banks will be allowed only to take deposits and make loans. Investment banking will be prohibited. Anyone found to have engaged in insider trading, stock manipulation, or securities fraud will face imprisonment for no less than ten years.”

      Robert Reich: 2010 Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

    3. Sin Fronteras

      I’m more worried about the Clinton/Cheney platform. Or more precisely the mayhem they might unleash on the world after being elected

  11. Geo

    “Polling taken this month and last by Monmouth found a ‘generic Democrat’ running anywhere from 11 to 14 points better among independent voters than Biden’s job approval ratings with these same voters.”

    My take: as atrocious as Dems are, they’re still not total loons like the current crop of GOP. From the Roe/Wade repeal to “Stop the Steal” evangelism they’re doing all they can to remind us they were the original idpol extremists.

    “Texas school district withdraws Anne Frank’s diary from classrooms: The school board behind the controversial book-banning email is comprised of three recently elected members, all backed by a right-wing political action campaign set up by Christian phone network Patriot Mobile.”

    Leftie idpol extremists are annoying but the right wing ones are still the most radical. Some of the GOP primary debates have gone viral for being crazier than a circus on shrooms: https://boingboing.net/2022/07/01/watch-montage-of-four-clowns-and-one-sane-human-in-wyoming-primary-debate.html/amp (You know a party is deranged when Cheney is considered the “sane” one.)

    It appears the corrupt, elitist, apathetic, and inhuman Dems will have to try harder to lose to the current GOP it seems.

    1. hunkerdown

      This is exactly why we need freedom FROM religion: to destroy both of the totalitarian capitalist churches that pretend to compete for power.

    2. Carolinian

      Polls seem to show that the public care a lot less about roe v wade than you think they do. What they do care about is inflation and the economy and concrete material benefits. I’d say your case against the Repubs is the media case (and oh by the way Texas is kind of a weird place) and not the real case which is that Repubs are rabid warmongers just like most of the Dems.

      But it’s the Dems who are in charge if only just barely and who should feel the public’s wrath if the public really do care about the things I just mentioned. Guess we’ll see what happens.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        concrete material benefits

        So here in Wisco we are about to get a good test of this as a vote getter. Ron Johnson is running hard against “wasteful government spending” that is “causing out of control inflation.” He has also proposed subjecting Medicare and Social Security to some kind of need for periodic review/renewal that seems like a threat to those programs though he is pretty vague on the specifics. And he is dead set against renewing the child tax credit.

        Of course, to make the election a referendum on concrete material benefits would require Barnes and the Dems to trumpet the Recovery Act of 2021 – which kept many restaurant workers that I know out of serious financial crisis – instead of running away from it and as opposed to whatever this current IRA thing is that will possibly provide a handful of people with some benefits at some point in the future.

    3. notabanker

      If the Dems are going to run on the “we’re not as bad as those loons over there” platform, they are going to wind up in the same place they did in 2016.

      It is inconceivable that Cheney could lose to any of that crew on the stage in the video. But she not only lost, one could say her loss was pulverizing.

      The gig is up. It is not hard for the average person to see now, first hand, that Biden is brain dead, Pelosi is a crook, Manchin has sold out for his own personal interests, Fauci is corrupt as the day is long and that Congress is useless unless you are a PE firm or traded on a stock exchange. This is no longer a fringe thing, it is mainstream and nothing like watching people die and seeing your paycheck dwindle to nothing to get people fired up.

      I can “afford” the outrageous greed induced inflation, at the expense of probably having to work more years of my life. The vast majority of people in this country don’t even have that “luxury”. My read on the Cheney situation is that people are not going to the polls to pick the least craziest loon. They are going to go punish the people that got us here. YMMV.

      1. Lee

        And the blatant pretense by the establishment Dems that they are not first and foremost among “the people that got us here” ever fewer people fooled.

    4. Big River Bandido

      Abortion certainly is an emotionally-charged issue, but that doesn’t make it politically salient.

      Any advantage the Democrats may get from the issue is easily undermined by Democrats like…Henry Cuellar. I just don’t see the number of voters who are motivated by this issue to actually “move the needle”, especially since it’s now a matter of state rather than federal law.

      Ultimately, people are fundamentally motivated by their own concerns, and economic ones will overpower everything else.

  12. fresno dan

    “After landslide primary defeat, Liz Cheney announces new anti-Trump group, says she’s ‘thinking about’ WH bid” [FOX].
    Cheney noted that in the past, she had garnered more than 70% of the votes in her district’s primary, and that ‘the path to that same victory would have been very easy,’ but she felt it was more important to focus on her opposition to Trump.
    I will repeat what I posted this morning: Why originally did republicans vote for her? Why are republicans not voting for her now??? Is there a significant difference between a Cheney republican and a Trump republican (and if so, what is it)???
    My view is that Trump merely says the quiet part out loud, but I am very interested in hearing differing opinions.

    1. GF

      Why originally did republicans vote for her?
      Daddy had political power then in WY.

      Why are republicans not voting for her now???
      Daddy doesn’t have political power now in WY!!

      Is there a significant difference between a Cheney republican and a Trump republican (and if so, what is it)???
      No difference!!

      1. pjay

        I disagree. It’s a big club and Trump ain’t in it. In that, at least, he’s like you and me.

        To elaborate, Cheney was a dedicated neocon, ideological, a ruthless insider for decades. As was Bush II. As was Bush I. Reagan was a front man carefully selected and groomed by the right-wing faction of the Establishment. Carter, Clinton, and Obama were also carefully selected and groomed by the “liberal” faction of the Establishment (and Biden, of course). Trump was an outsider, with no ideological principles (other than his own self-interest), impulsive and unpredictable. He also seemed to have a genuine recognition that many of our foreign adventures were pointless black holes and he seemed to want disengagement. But he lacked the experience or connections to pick people who would “drain the swamp”; rather, he just appointed more Republican swamp creatures to take the place of the Democrats. Or, in the case of Israel and Iran, he just followed the wishes of his largest funder and his son-in-law. Nevertheless, his unpredictability and his “populist” appeal are a threat to the Powers that Be. I also think Fresno Dan’s point about “saying the quiet part out loud” is a factor. And he has definitely forced all the fake progressives in the Democratic establishment to reveal themselves – so also a threat there.

        1. fresno dan

          I think you have very good insights. I think both parties cater to the “establishment” and that the establishment does not represent anyone with less than serveral hundred million dollars. I do think Trump shows that American “norms” are NOT for the benefit of the average American, but just a status quo protection racket. If you were really disenchanted with American politics, who other than Trump would be your bull in the china shop?

    2. Starry Gordon

      Voting is mostly tribal. What the alpha male says, the tribe does. I am not au courant with the tribe in question here, but their behavior patterns are familiar.

    3. flora

      Why are republicans not voting for her now???

      I heard an analysis on some show, ( I can’t remember which one), that thought the Wyoming GOP voters voted against her mostly because they saw her siding with the Dems during impeachment and on the committee as disloyal to the GOP party – not disloyal to T, disloyal to the party. T himself wasn’t the driver of the vote results, the question of party loyalty for the Wyoming GOP voters was the driver. That sounds plausible, at least.

      1. Pat

        There is that adage, when someone tells you who they are, believe them. I don’t know if it was disloyal to the GOP, so much as not loyal to her voters. Was she representing them and their interests when she voted to impeach Trump? Was she spending her time on things that would improve or protect Wyoming when she decided to chair the Jan 6 committee? Or was she advancing Liz Chesney’s political future and Wyoming and what it wanted be damned? She told the voters of Wyoming that their wishes and needs would always come in behind her political ambitions and her backers, and that her alliances would change if would advance her politically.

        I will bet there are few voters in Wyoming who are shocked that she has a group already in place that will keep in the forefront with the public and that she is considering trying for the White House. They knew and dumped her. Whether rank and file Democrats who have all been embracing her understood what her interview was telling them is less clear. Yeah I think they may have missed that they got played.

  13. McWatt

    Beware the retail sales figures. With the dramatic increase in prices ,of course, sales are going to be higher.

    What I am finding is that although my sales are up, the number of customers year over year is down. Markedly down. Like 10% down.

  14. Jeff W

    ‘If it’s going to be 600 deaths a day soon,” or perhaps far more, Ganapathi told me, “I won’t be surprised if we find a way to rationalize that too.’”

    Referring to the actual article, I think it might work better styled as

    “If it’s going to be 600 deaths a day soon,” or perhaps far more, [Lakshmi] Ganapathi [a pediatric-infectious-disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital] told me, “I won’t be surprised if we find a way to rationalize that too.”

    I read the excerpt and thought “Who the heck is ‘Ganapathi’?” (and started again at the top to see if I had missed the reference). And that free-form mix of single and double quotation marks (in particular the single and double quotation marks at the end) made me think that quote might be something Joshua Salomon said about what ‘Ganapathi’ told him, although even that didn’t parse properly.

  15. JAC

    Lambert: “Complete takeover by BA.5/BA.4. I wonder what’s coming next?”

    It does not look like anything is coming next IMHO. It has left no space for competition, it is utterly dominant.

    1. vao

      So what has become of BA.2.75? It was supposed to be even more infectious and immunity-evading than BA.4 and BA.5.

    2. curlydan

      We’ll be lucky if nothing comes next.

      Given the way COVID mutates, I’d wager we just have to wait a bit, and the new one will emerge.

      I’m fondly remember the halcyon days of mid-March in my county when the 7-day positivity rate on testing hit 2.2%. It didn’t last long.

  16. Jason Boxman

    From How Warren, and the Professional Class Left Undermined Sanders 2020

    Why is it that the American left was unwilling to attack Elizabeth Warren? The left attacked every other candidate who wasn’t named Bernard, but the kid gloves came on with Warren. Why is that? Did the American left underestimate the threat that Warren posed? I don’t think so.

    The left was perfectly cognizant that Warren’s presence in the race was detrimental to working people. They were okay with Warren because the left is a professional class project, not a working class project. The left support of Warren was a matter of class interest and brand building.

    (bold mine)

  17. nippersdad

    Well, this doesn’t look like a good idea:

    “…experts told NatSec Daily. “Russian forces have no business being there [Crimea], and attacking Russian forces in Crimea is no different than attacking them around Kyiv or in Kherson or eastern Ukraine,” said KURT VOLKER, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and special representative for Ukraine during the Trump administration.

    The Biden administration’s position isn’t a shift so much as an affirmation of long-standing policy. Even though they have been exceedingly clear Ukraine shouldn’t use American-made weapons to attack inside Russia — which President JOE BIDEN fears would spark World War III — Washington doesn’t recognize Moscow’s control over the forcibly seized peninsula.

    As a result, it’s open season on Russian targets inside Crimea.”*

    So what happens when the first HIMARS missile hits in Crimea and all of those Ukrainian “decision making centers” get erased? What government would anyone have to work with then? What are they going to do in response? Sanction them? I don’t know if the word “imbecilic” is still politically correct, but it certainly seems applicable.

    Nota bene to drooling Joe: it really doesn’t matter whether you think Crimea is part of Russia or not, at this point it is what they think that matters.

    * https://www.politico.com/newsletters/national-security-daily/2022/08/17/u-s-approves-of-ukraine-striking-russian-occupied-crimea-00052364

    1. lyman alpha blob

      “forcibly seized peninsula”?!? I’ve participated in a few referenda in my life and don’t remember any casualties, but perhaps those were the exception rather than the rule. /s

      Really tired of these clowns insulting our collective intelligence.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Well the US has five major territories – American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Can you imagine what would happen if Russia said that they approved of anybody attacking any of those territories? Or anybody attacking any US base in a foreign country? All 800 or so? Another case of rules for thee but not for me.

    3. Tom Stone

      Crimea isn’t part of Russia?
      Didn’t Some Gal named Big Cathy or the like have a naval base built there in 1783 or so?
      She prolly spoke Frog most of the time and wasn’t, you know, a REAL Russian.

  18. John

    I am waiting for the moral pillar of some community to contract monkey pox. And the explanation is…

    1. curlydan

      In related news, the threat from the feds to cut Colorado River water allotments came and went with a whimper. To me, it sounds like someone high up said, “uh, let’s wait until after November to decide this.”


      In some decent news, Lake Mead’s water level (or at least it’s primary one) has been rising recently. The focus now might need to shift back to Lake Powell where the back half of the year brings stead water level drops–even after getting boosts from upstream reservoirs.

  19. The Rev Kev

    ‘Just a reminder that megablue states like NY and CA have millions of surplus Democratic voters who could move to Wyoming and instantly flip its electorate from one that threatens American constitutional democracy to one that preserves and protects it.’

    Unintentionally hilarious. I can see it now. So Liz Cheney leads 300,00 Democrats out of Brooklyn into the wilds of Wyoming where in the middle of nowhere, she announces that they are on their own and dumps them there before getting into her limo to take her back to the airport. But before leaving, she reminds them to vote Blue.

    1. nippersdad

      My kind alter ego says that hopefully the election will be before they discover that Buffalo do not like to be petted. All of my other personalities hope that we can get some video on Youtube of Brooklynites trying to pet buffalo.

      The tally of the vote in my head was of the highest democratic standard, but the results were not very nice. Most of us want to see them get pantsed.


    1. Polar Socialist

      Vostok 2022, planned for a few years already, announced last month officially. Also including troops from India, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Mongolia. It’s not just on the border, but on 12 different training grounds around Siberia.
      Last time, in 2018, Russia had 300,000 troops and thousands of tanks and other equipment. Observers seem to be very keen to see the numbers this year in the light of Western media claims Russia is running out of men and materiel.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Last night on the news here in Oz, they were very upset that India was taking part in these exercises and could not understand why. You could almost detect a hurt tone as she was reading this bit of the news.

  20. JBird4049

    A political class that can’t defend the constitutional order and the rule of law is worse than useless: it’s actually conspiring with its enemies. Trump attacked the very heart of our system of government. If the system can’t respond to that forcefully it doesn’t deserve to exist anymore. Let’s stop pretending Trump is anything but a mobster and a would-be tyrant. In this case, prudence demands action.”


    Is actually funny. It reads kinda like A Modest Proposal as the writer must know about Representative Nancy Pelosi, former city and state’s attorney Kamala Harris, current governor Gavin Newsom, and the former speaker of the assembly, mayor, and current state’s consigliere Willie Brown. I am or have been represented or “served” by all of them. A corrupt a group as you find in any Banana Republic, which is what California is devolving into.

    If the dude is serious, I want what he’s smoking and,or a mention in whatever serious book on cults next is published.

  21. Tom Stone

    JBird, you might have noticed that the incarceration rate in California is very high and that the prison industrial Complex one of the fastest growing parts of California’s economy.
    Some are paid as much as $.25 per hour, so it isn’t slavery.
    Not at all, no sirree bob, perish the thought.

    There is a little problem that needs to be addressed, Prisoners can not give consent as a matter of law, which is why having sex with a prisoner is rape.
    The State stands “In Loco Parentis” ( Not the right term, but the right concept) for all who are incarcerated.
    So why aren’t prisoners recieving California’s minimum wage?
    I think there might be an interesting class action suit possible…

    1. JBird4049

      Didn’t someone here at NC mention that then California State Attorney General Harris argue that the state could not afford to release prisoners because it needed their (free) labor? And no, I do not believe that paying someone the same minimum for the year 1938 as actually being paid, if not least because adjusted for inflation, it would be north of four dollars an hour. Can you buy any single item still for 0.25¢? Nice to see an advocate for slavery a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

      Anyways, I see that (quoting the Joker) this town needs an enema. Don’t know if it is is doable, or that anything would remain afterwards.

  22. Wukchumni

    Forget it Jake, it’s Fresnotown

    Former 21st Congressional District Rep. TJ Cox pleaded not guilty in federal court in Fresno Tuesday to dozens of charges, including wire fraud, money laundering and falsifying campaign contributions that equated to millions being stolen from investors and business partners since 2013, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District.

    Cox was indicted by a grand jury in a case that’s being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District.

    Cox was arrested at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Fresno after surrendering to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He will be released from custody and entered into pretrial diversion because a judge determined he was not a flight risk or dangerous to the public, Cox’s attorney, Mark Coleman, said in a phone interview.

    Cox opened a bank account, unknown to his business partners of an almond company, and is accused of diverting money intended for their joint venture into his own personal account, the indictment alleges.

    The indictment also states the former congressman told investors their money would fund operating expenses of the almond processing company, and they would get a fixed rate of return, according to the indictment.

    Instead, that money was used by Cox to pay for private school tuition, credit card bills, mortgage payments and a political consultant, the indictment said, adding these expenses totaled tens of thousands of dollars.

    At times, Cox would show loans from his tax credit company made to the almond-processing company. However, these loans were then spent on personal matters, the indictment alleges.

    Cox took more than $750,000 from lenders and investors, according to the indictment.

    “At all relevant times, Cox acted with intent to defraud,” the indictment said multiple times.


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