2:00PM Water Cooler 8/26/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Golden Bowerbird, Queensland, Australia. I think sound like a shade rolling up is the Bowerbird display.

* * *


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

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

“You can’t really dust for vomit.” Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap


Biden Administration

“How Biden finally got to ‘yes’ on canceling student debt” [Politico]. “White House discussions for months were centered around how Biden could cancel $10,000 of debt for various populations of borrowers. White House advisers considered a wide range of permutations for income limitations and targeted relief for individual groups of borrowers, such as public service workers, according to people familiar with the discussions. Other discussions focused on whether to target relief only to borrowers with undergraduate debt, rather than include graduate borrowers, those people said. Officials also examined whether to treat debt accrued by borrowers at public universities differently than loans taken out to attend private schools.” • Liberal Democrats cannot think in terms of universals, it seems.

“Biden’s Student-Loan Forgiveness Is Good. It Could Have Been Revolutionary” [New York Magazine]. “Although Biden’s plan will be life-changing for many, it’s necessary to think about what could have been had he or his administration possessed the necessary imagination or will. Student-loan debt is not a natural disaster: It became a crisis because of political decisions made decades ago. In the debates over plans and proposals, the human toll of student-loan debt can become lost. Student-loan debt ruins lives. It delays or even prevents people from starting families or buying homes. It inhibits even the simplest acts of enjoying life. This is cruel and unnecessary. The repayment pause is proof that society can survive without millions locked into a predatory debt scheme. Given these circumstances, it feels more than a little insulting that Biden waited two years to put forward a student-loan plan that didn’t even fulfill all of his campaign promises. People deserve better solutions from the president, and they deserved them years ago. Further action will be necessary to dismantle the inhumane policy decisions that turned student-loan debt into such a crisis. Biden can’t address that all on his own. Congress will have to act, and one such solution would be to make public college free.” • Amen. Of course, that would mean that public colleges would need a lean administrative structure….


* * *

“Joe Biden comes out swinging as Democrats sense midterms momentum shift” [Financial Times]. “In an impassioned and combative speech in Maryland on Thursday night, Biden criticised ‘burn-it-all-down politics and Maga [Make America Great Again] Republicans’…. ‘What we’re seeing now, is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme Maga philosophy,’ Biden said in separate comments to supporters before the speech. ‘It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins . . . I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.'” • Hmm. “Semi” meaning what? Presumably, there are some missing pieces. But what are they?

“Biden says ‘extreme MAGA philosophy’ is like ‘semi-fascism’” [The Hill]. “The fundraising event had about 100 attendees and raised $1 million for the DNC and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, according to a DNC official.” • Sound like “semi-fascism” was for the funders, then, assuming that “separate comments to supporters” means comments to them. Odd.

“Biden’s Job Rating Rises to 44%, Highest in a Year” [Gallup]. “After hitting a record low in July, President Joe Biden’s job approval rating is up six percentage points to 44%, his highest in a year. While this uptick represents a significant improvement on the heels of several policy successes for Biden, he still remains underwater overall, with 53% of Americans disapproving of his job performance.” • Just do something, however meagre…….

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“Election forecasters rethink their ratings” [Politico]. “The nonpartisan election forecasters who watch these House and Senate races closer than anyone else are sounding notes that the ‘red wave looks more like a red ripple.’ Respected outfits including The Cook Political Report, the University of Virginia’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball and smart upstart analysts like Split Ticket are beginning to revisit their initial race ratings and adjust them in light of recent developments…. In tweaking their individual race ratings and projections, these groups look at evidence such as the president’s approval rating and the generic ballot, but also metrics of voter enthusiasm like the special election in New York this week, Cook’s U.S. House editor Dave Wasserman told Nightly. ‘Just a few months ago, it looked like a Category 5 hurricane for Democrats,’ Wasserman said. ‘Now it looks more like a tropical storm or depression.’ If you had looked at Cook’s projections just a few months ago, the forecasters would’ve ‘put the odds that Republicans would flip the Senate at more than 60 percent, with a gain of as many as four seats possible.’ Now, Cook rates the Senate as a toss-up, ‘with the range between Dems picking up one seat, and Republicans gaining three.’ Split Ticket also updated its Senate ratings this week, writing that ‘Democrats may very well be favored to retain their majority in the chamber come January of 2023.’ In the last two weeks, Crystal Ball forecasters have upgraded Democratic prospects in two Senate races. As for the House, no one is projecting Democrats will hold onto power, but it’s no longer seen as a possible blowout of historic proportions.” • I think some of this is real — the Democrats won some races, after all — and some of this is setting narrative expectations for the horse-race, now that things are about to get serious after Labor Day. But all these national proxies, like the generic ballot, don’t translate directly to the margin in individual districts (which is the ground where elections are won). At some point in the near future, I’ll have to take a look at the closest House races and do a wrap-up. (For example, Fetterman has been fun, but now what happens when Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania and gives him a nickname that sticks?)

“Will the GOP snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?” [The Hill]. Amusing. I thought only Democrats did that! “Why is there such a big difference between the forecasts for the House and the Senate? Why are Republican hopes for taking the House so high and so low for the Senate? The answer is simple. House races reflect national trends while Senate races are more judgements on the qualities of individual candidates. House incumbents operate in anonymity. Voters, especially people who live in large metropolitan areas know little about the people who represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. Most House members in large metropolitan areas get little attention from the news media. The visibility for challengers is even worse. This information vacuum forces voters to rely on factors that are internal and personal like their feelings about the state of the nation. It’s much easier for people to answer questions about the nation’s direction than it is for them to reflect on the quality of their seemingly anonymous representation in the lower chamber of Congress. The dynamic in U.S. Senate races is completely different. Voters know much more about the incumbent and the challenger.”

“The GOP’s Abortion Problem” [Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal]. “The long-predicted GOP “wave” election may be crashing on an offshore reef, as abortion and Donald Trump energize Democrats. That’s the message Tuesday from New York state, where the GOP lost a special election for Congress in a district where they were favored, continuing a trend of recent underperformance. Republicans may still retake the House in November, but another term for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker can’t be ruled out. Republican Marc Molinaro was a strong candidate in New York’s 19th Congressional district. He’s the executive of Dutchess County, a large part of the district in the Hudson Valley north of New York City. But Democrat Pat Ryan won the special election with about 51% of the vote by making abortion rights his main issue. Democratic turnout exceeded expectations for a mid-August election. Democrats also came closer than expected hitting abortion in a special election in New York’s 23rd district, coming within about 6.5 percentage points of Republican Joseph Sempolinski. This is a solidly GOP seat that should have been an easy GOP win. These results are the fourth warning signal in recent weeks for the GOP. The Kansas abortion referendum lost in a rout, and while the GOP won special elections in districts in Minnesota and Nebraska, they did six percentage points worse than the party did in the 2020 presidential race in the districts. This isn’t the same political climate as last November, when a voter swing of 12 points from 2020 helped the GOP take the governorship in Virginia and come close in New Jersey. Democrats are clearly more eager to vote than a year ago.” • The pro-life dog finally caught the car (and stories like “Beauty YouTuber Forced to Carry Dead Fetus for 2 Weeks After Miscarriage Due to Abortion Ban” started coming out).

Of course, as we know from Trump v. Clinton, money doesn’t translate directly into votes. But this Financial Times chart is interesting:

Certainly the operatives will be feeling their oats.

“Liz Cheney Says New Political Group Will Target Trump Allies” [Wall Street Journal]. “‘I’m going to be very focused on working to ensure that we do everything we can not to elect election deniers,’ Ms. Cheney said on ABC. ‘We’ve got election deniers that have been nominated for really important positions all across the country. And I’m going to work against those people. I’m going to work to support their opponents.'” • Not a bad thing, actually, so I hesitate to characterize this as an outright grift (assuming Cheney follows through). But surely peripheral to the main themes of the midterms? Or maybe not–

“Moderate Colorado Republican switches parties, citing stolen election claims” [The Hill]. “Colorado state Sen. Kevin Priola announced on Monday he is switching to the Democratic Party, saying he could not “in good conscience” be silent about Republicans who baselessly cast doubt on the validity of the 2020 election and the existence of climate change.” • Priola represents SD13, which Republicans have initiated a recall.

“Democrats in tough races distance themselves from Biden’s student loans decision” [NBC]. “The president may have just handed Republicans a new line of attack at a moment when Democrats were strengthening their positions in swing states and signs were emerging that the party could stave off what was to have been a GOP sweep in the midterm elections, campaign officials, party members, pollsters and national strategists in both parties say. Republicans are betting there will be a backlash against debt forgiveness in states or districts where college attainment is low. That includes Nevada — where Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto faces one of the toughest contests in the country and the state is second to last in the country for residents with four-year degrees.” • Hmm.

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AZ: “Election Denying Primary Candidates Are Crying Fraud, Win Or Lose” [FiveThirtyEight]. “In the days leading up to the Arizona Republican primary for governor, candidate Kari Lake warned that something was going very wrong. ‘We’re already detecting some stealing going on,’ Lake said at a campaign stop the week before the election. Hours before the polls closed, she hadn’t changed her tune. ‘If we don’t win, there’s some cheating going on. And we already know that.’ But when the race was over, Lake was the new Republican nominee for governor in Arizona. This created a bit of a logical pickle for Lake: How did she win an election that was rigged? ‘We out-voted the fraud,’ Lake said at a press conference the next day, adding that her campaign had evidence of fraud that she would not detail with the media, but would give to ‘the authorities.'”

FL: “Judge who denied Florida teen an abortion citing grades loses reelection” [The Hill]. “A state judge who, in a highly publicized case, denied a 17-year-old an abortion in part because of her grades lost his election in a Florida primary on Tuesday. Jared Smith, who was appointed to Florida’s 13th Circuit Court by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in 2019, narrowly lost his nonpartisan primary against attorney Nancy Jacobs. Jacobs received roughly 51.9 percent of the vote, beating Smith by about 3.7 percentage points, or roughly 7,900 votes. Smith had ruled in January that the 17-year-old, who was kept anonymous in court documents, could not receive an abortion, citing her grades.” • Citing her grades? Really? That’s just dumb. Perhaps the stupid did this judge in, not abortion at all?

NY: Nuance on Pat Ryan (see above):

TX: “Paxton legal opinion giving public immediate access to ballots jeopardizes election security and invites lawsuits, experts say” [Texas Tribune]. “Federal and state law require that ballots be kept secure for 22 months after an election to allow for recounts and challenges — a time frame Texas counties have had set in place for decades. Paxton’s opinion, which doesn’t stem from any change to state law, theoretically permits anyone — an aggrieved voter, activist or out-of-state entity — to request access to ballots as soon as the day after they are counted. Such requests have been used by activists all over the country as a way to ‘audit’ election results. The opinion from Paxton doesn’t carry the force of law, but experts say it will almost certainly serve as the basis for a lawsuit by right-wing activists. The opinion has already impacted elections administrators across the state, who told Votebeat that they’ve seen an onslaught of requests since Paxton released it. ‘[Paxton’s office wants] to throw a monkey wrench into the operations of vote counting, especially if they think they might lose, and Paxton is in a close race as far as I can tell,’ said Linda Eads, a professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law and a former deputy attorney general for litigation for the state of Texas. She said she was ‘shocked’ by the opinion.”


“Trump Mar–a-Lago affidavit reveals ‘handwritten notes,’ highly classified material led to warrant request” [Politico]. “Prosecutors submitted proposed redactions to the court on Thursday morning and Reinhart concurred with all of them. In an order issued a short time later, the judge said that prosecutors had shown ‘good cause’ to redact elements of the affidavit that would reveal ‘the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties,’ as well as ‘the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods’ and ‘grand jury information.'”

“Magistrate Judge Reinhart’s Non-Disclosure Disclosure Order” [Andrew McCarthy, National Review]. “Let me get to the intrigue. I find the most interesting part of the short order the revelation that the Justice Department argued that disclosure would reveal, and thus cause unfair prejudice to, uncharged parties. Of course, the major uncharged party here is former president Donald Trump. Now, maybe prosecutors said they were worried about causing such prejudice because it’s the standard thing the Justice Department says: DOJ guidelines prohibit comment on investigations of, and evidence against, people who are not charged; they are presumed innocent, and prosecutors should not tar people unless they are ready to file formal charges, which gives the charged person due-process rights to defend the allegations in court. On the other hand, maybe the Justice Department said this because the objective here is not to charge the former president with a crime. Clearly, it was appropriate for people to be stunned over the execution of a search warrant at the home of a former president. But the reaction, which spurred no shortage of outrage from many quarters, pales in comparison to what would happen if the Justice Department actually indicts Trump. Attorney General Merrick Garland knows this. My belief is that what the DOJ, the FBI, the intelligence agencies, and the National Archives and Records Administration wanted was to get the documents back and ensure that highly classified information is returned to its proper secure repositories. I don’t think they’re hot to make a criminal case out of this.” • I wonder whether McCarthy will change his mind, now that the affidavit has been released.

Here is the (redacted) affidavit (PDF). “4. I am a Special Agent with the FBI assigned to the Washington Field Office [redacted]. During this time, I have received training at the FBI Academy located at Quantico, Virginia, specific to counterintelligence and espionage investigations.”

* * *

New York Times pitchbot still on fire:

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 Bush Legacy

“George W. Bush Gives a Moment-by-Moment Breakdown of 9/11 in His New MasterClass Course” [Daily Beast] • Following in Hillary Clinton’s footsteps….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“‘Our plan might have paid off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava” [Miami Herald]. • Florida Power and Light playing both ends against the middle. Complicated and really ugly.


• News you can use:

* * *

• “Monkeypox Is a Sexually Transmitted Infection, and Knowing That Can Help Protect People” [Scientific American]. “In the past few months, there has been considerable backlash to naming MPX an STI out of the usually well-intentioned but ultimately misguided belief that doing so will increase stigma. One objection, as medical anthropologist Harris Solomon has put it, has to do with how people in the U.S. treat sex as an identity and not as an action. Because we often conflate sex with who you are rather than seeing it as something you do, many people think diagnosing the risk of an action says something about people. But while sex is a necessary part of life, it is also an action like riding a bike or smoking, with its own risks and pleasures—and it must be studied rigorously while trying to protect public health. The other dynamic is believing that gay sex is so bad and shameful, it must not be spoken about, let alone highlighted during a public health emergency. Intended as such or not, this is homophobic.” • Except we’ll never know, will we, since the CDC eliminated any possibility of recording aerosol transmission on its case report form. And so the familiar debates roll on. (To be fair, we might ultimately know, if there are other entities more science-driven than the Centers for Disease.)

* * *

• “America’s Fall Booster Plan Has a Fatal Paradox” [Kathryn Wu, The Atlantic]. “‘We know nothing yet about the efficacy or effectiveness of these Omicron-focused vaccines,’ [Gregory Poland, a vaccinologist at the Mayo Clinic] said. Researchers can’t be sure of the degree to which the shots will improve upon the original recipe. And public-health officials won’t be able to leverage the concrete, comforting numbers that have been attached to nearly every other shot that’s been doled out. Instead, communications will hinge on ‘how much trust you have in the information you’re getting from the government,’ [Deshira Wallace, a public-health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill] told me. ‘And that is very tricky right now.'” • For good reason.

• ”Individual freedoms versus collective responsibility: immunization decision-making in the face of occasionally competing values” [Emerging Themes in Epidemiology]. From 2006, still germane: “There are situations where there can be a real or perceived divergence between individual and community benefits of vaccination. This divergence may occasionally be based upon current scientific evidence and may exemplify the need for overriding individual autonomy. Use of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) in the US in the early 1990s is such an example. The sustained use of OPV led to the elimination of polio in the US, with the last cases of wild polio reported in 1979. While OPV is extremely safe and effective, the vaccine very rarely caused vaccine associated paralytic polio (VAPP) resulting in 5–7 cases of VAPP annually with near universal use of OPV in the US. Once polio had been effectively controlled in the US, preventing the indigenous transmission of polio, the risks of the vaccine (VAPP) may have been greater than the risk of disease. Assuming the individual does not travel to a region where polio is still endemic, a roughly one in a million risk of VAPP is highly unlikely, but still greater than the risk of wild polio. Yet, if a substantial number of individuals were not vaccinated because of this individual risk/benefit analysis, polio would likely have been reintroduced into the US, as the disease is only a plane ride away, leading to a tragedy of the commons [7]. While this divergence in individual versus community benefits was short-lived (the US switched to the inactivated polio vaccine that can not cause VAPP), such a situation can cause a dilemma for parents, health care providers and policy makers.”

* * *

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:

Slightly down, due to California and the small states of the South.

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 nominal 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 ~88,400. Today, it’s ~84,200 and 84,200 * 6 = a Biden line at 505,200 per day. (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. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

Florida Man returning to normal.

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

Tennessee returning to normal.

The West:


On California, this shows a big backward revision, which I don’t like. And I’m not sure I like the current big drop, with anecdotes about big outbreaks at LAX and Google.


NOT UPDATED Wastewater data (CDC), August 20:

Not happy with the grey dots in California, or virtually no dots in Texas and Florida. We have no check on case numbers in critical states.

For grins, August 19:

What I’m really worried about is an increase in grey dots (“no recent data”). because that would mean the effort is being shut down or defunded.

• O Canada:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 26:



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 26:

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 26:

Lots of green, which should make the hospital-centric goons at the Centers for Disease happy.

NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.


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), August 13:

No sign of BA2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.

Variant data, national (CDC), August 6 (Nowcast off):

No sign of BA2.75 as yet.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,068,111 – 1,067,549 = 562 (562 * 365 = 205,130; today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, thought they can talk themselves into anything. 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

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.2 percent from a month earlier in July of 2022, easing from an upwardly revised 0.7 percent rise in June and well below market expectations of 0.6 percent.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “Tesla Steering Yokes Are Disintegrating Before 30,000 Miles” [The Drive]. “Several owners have posted photos on Twitter showing the coating on the yoke disintegrating, leaving unsightly bald patches on the surface. While steering wheel coatings do degrade over time, the key problem is the short timeline over which the Tesla yokes are falling apart. … A variety of theories have been put forth by the Twitter community to explain the issue. Many posters quickly turned on the owners, accusing them of causing the problems through their personal vices.”

The Economy: “Gross domestic income (GDI), explained” [MarketPlace]. “The latest [GDP] estimate says the economy contracted the equivalent of 0.6% per year in the second quarter. That’s better than the originally estimated shrinkage of 0.9%…. There’s another measure of the economy out there known as GDI, or gross domestic income. And according to that, the economy hasn’t been shrinking at all…. ‘These should get to the same answer, because everything that’s spent is another person’s income,’ Pearce said.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 26 at 2:07 PM EDT.


Only in America:

The Gallery

Insect eyes?

I like Braque a lot, though there’s no denying Picasso is a world-historical figure. Braque isn’t showy. He just paints.

Zeitgeist Watch

As a data structure, association by proximity is even worse than association by yarn. But here we are:

The time-scales at left and right are innnovative, though!

Class Warfare

Saying the quiet part very loudly:

“Kin-based institutions and economic development” (PDF) [SSRN]. “Here, focusing on an anthropologically well established dimension of kinship, we establish a robust and economically significant negative association between the tightness and breadth of kin-based institutions—their kinship intensity—and economic development.” More: “European and European-descent societies, such as the English, who are characterized by love-based marriages (but often with taboos on cousins) that form small, monogamous nuclear families in which new couples reside neither with the bride’s or the groom’s families but establish a new residence. Descent is not a source of identity and is traced roughly equally through both mothers and fathers. With such tiny, ephemeral families, individuals must necessarily build their own network of friends and partners and seek out voluntary groups for economic production, religious devotion, and political activity.” • Hmm. I’m sure that “descent is not a source of identity” applies to oligarchs, whose wealth crosses generations.

“The Case for a Participation Income” (PDF) [A. B. Atkinson]. “First, the means-tested approach necessarily penalises personal effort. Even if the poverty trap no longer involves marginal tax rates in excess of 100per cent, the marginal rates are still higher than those levied on the rest of the population. Perhaps more importantly, it is not just the individual’s efforts that are penalised, but those of that person’s family. Unlike individualised social insur- ance, social assistance discourages the partners of those out of work from earning income. I find it strange that a government so concerned with incentives should not see that reliance on means-testing has such a counterproductive effect. In the case of pensioners there is the ’savings trap’, which applies to pension income and capital income. For a range of such income, there is little or no net gain from saving on account of the withdrawal of means-tested benefits. People with capital in excess of a specified amount are not eligible for income support, and, if they realise this in advance, they may decide that there is little point in saving. The second major objection to means- tested benefits is that a significant minority of those with incomes below the assistance level do not claim the benefits to which they are entitled. There is a recurrent problem of incomplete take-up. The reasons are doubtless manifold, but the failure of suc- cessive take-up advertising campaigns indicates that it is not simply a matter of inadequate information. There are deep-seated objections to claiming means-tested benefits. Unlike non-income-tested benefits, where take-up is thought to be close to 100per cent, in the case of family credit only some two-thirds of the potential benefit is claimed. Thirdly, the means test can only make sense when applied to the family or the household as a unit. As such, it runs counter to the desire to have a social security system which ensures independence. This is particularly important for women, but it also applies to young people, as has become clear with the problems of young adults and income support. In short, means-testing is economically inefficient, provides an incomplete safety net, and takes social policy backwards rather than forwards.”

News of the Wired


Not just millennials:

It does make you wonder how much the our personal soundscapes have changed, and whether we are even aware of the change: The replacement of physical clunks and snaps with digital beeps and chimes, textureless and always demanding.

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From TH:

TH writes: “Back at Roger’s Gardens in Newport Beach, we have these lovely Delphiniums. I love the color! Yes, they are a bit obscured by other foliage—I’m calling it artistic framing.”

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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. GF

      Thanks ChrisRUEcon. It looks like the stock market actually cares for the 99% who will be affected by the vague policies put forth in that short speech – at least until the market opens next week – or later this afternoon.

      1. jsn

        Not really, the market needed a spot of immediate liquidity to cover all the capital calls it expects due to interest rates devouring equity in non-performing or underperforming financial structures.

    2. notabanker

      Jackson Hole
      “The Fed can’t ease until inflation is clearly headed back to target, and wage growth has slowed markedly,”

      Actual Data
      “Personal income in the United States increased 0.2 percent from a month earlier in July of 2022, easing from an upwardly revised 0.7 percent rise in June and well below market expectations of 0.6 percent.”

      I was rooting for the volcano.

  1. Kendra

    George W. Bush Gives a Moment-by-Moment Breakdown of 9/11 in His New MasterClass


    For fairness and balance, please read this moment by moment breakdown of 9/11


    “Today, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) acknowledges that WTC 7 fell at a rate of free fall (or the rate of gravity) for a period of approximately 2.25 seconds before it started to slow down. David Chandler, a physics teacher who has studied the behavior of WTC 7 extensively, explains the significance of free fall in the article titled “Free Fall and Building 7 on 9/11”

    1. Kengferno

      Master class in leadership…ha! 9/11 can be summed up by MY PET GOAT and Katrina can be by BROWNIE, HECK OF A JOB!

      There. I’ve saved everyone $180.

      I actually thought it was The Onion. Horrified that it’s real.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    High Priest Powell delivered an encyclical from the Holy of Holies located beneath the Tetonic Spires. Apparently, in order to please The Economy, we will have to throw more virgins into the volcano than had been anticipated.

  3. Lee

    The Federal Reserve is determined to address supply side shortages by hammering down the nail of demand, which will most severely affect those at the bottom of our skewed income distribution. Destroy the village to save it.

  4. JBird4049

    Student loan forgiveness undermines one of our military’s greatest recruitment tools at a time of dangerously low enlistments.

    And according to then California State Attorney General Kamala Harris, the state needed the cheap labor of the prisoners and so could not afford to release them.

    Reminds me of how the South instituted massive convict labor farms and mines and got the new slaves, pardon me, convicts from enforcing some laws only on blacks and some poor whites. IIRC, some of the laws were created for the purpose of getting those people. It is telling that the death rates for those convict staffed farms and mines were higher than that of the slaves in the Antebellum South. Slaves were worth the price of a modern, good for collateral for loans, and a source of future slaves, but convicts were cheap to get from the population and had no value beyond what labor could be squeezed out of them before their deaths.

    1. Drexel

      Maybe it’s genetic? Kamala’s Hibernian ancestors owned almost 100 African slaves on their Jamaica plantation. Right wing rumour? Her own father outlined the dets.

      Donald Harris, an emeritus economics professor at Stanford University, recounts both his childhood in Jamaica and visits he made to the country with his own children. Recalling his family history, he also says that he is the descendant of a “slave owner” — Hamilton Brown, a man born in Ireland who enslaved people in Jamaica and managed plantations there.

      “My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (nee Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town), and to my maternal grandmother, Miss Iris (nee Iris Finegan, farmer and educator, from Aenon Town and Inverness, ancestry unknown to me),” the essay reads. “The Harris name comes from my paternal grandfather Joseph Alexander Harris, land-owner and agricultural ‘produce’ exporter (mostly pimento or all-spice), who died in 1939 one year after I was born and is buried in the church yard of the magnificent Anglican Church which Hamilton Brown built in Brown’s Town.”


    2. John

      Slavery by another name. Prisons as destructive labor camps. And prison industries are continue. Where does one file their conscience to run such a business?

      1. JBird4049

        Destructive labor camps. That’s a term that I have read before in both Nazi and Soviet histories, with the German ones aligned with eugenics.

        Nice to see how much they learned from American practices and if you don’t know how much evangelizing the United States did before the Second World War, you would be shocked at how much they influenced the German Empire and Weimar Republic, then the Nazis. All in the name of “progress.” I would not be surprised if this also influenced the Soviets. Not for any eugenical reasons, but that of encouragement of thinking about and acting on populations as abstractions or things and not as people.

          1. JBird4049

            The only reason why straight up eugenics died in the latter half of the Twentieth century was that even the white supremacists went “nope, we are not going there” after seeing the extermination camps; we had better leaders before the revolution 1990s; however, they were the survivors of all the fun times of the last century. People (and leaders) who would not have accepted or allowed the current mass stupidity, but they are almost all dead. They would also have understood just how random life can be with your actions having little influence sometimes.

            I think that the idea of eugenics is bubbling up into the ruling class and their servants. It is not called that, but it is cloaked in some of the more genteel words of the Victorian Era or perhaps of the Social Darwinism supported by the more uncouth Americans.

            Hey, at least nobody is suggesting bringing back Aktion T4, yet. But eugenics was partially defended as a means of saving money, which is something else that is similar to today’s political economy.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > I think that the idea of eugenics is bubbling up into the ruling class and their servants

              I think the reality of eugenics is bubbling up in working class and the more exceptional members of the PMC. “Stochastic eugenics” is the word I heard.

              1. JBird4049

                Extermination by statistics or pushing some causes of death (or stress) in the belief that proportionately more of the inferior or disposable people than the superior or better people will die?

                Directed Social Darwinism either by direct action, or using social media influencers, or people acting as such?

                Much, maybe all, of this could funded using the hundreds of billions of hidden or dark money as is done with the various legislatures including Congress. Heck, all the quantitative easing and Covid relief was free or fun money for the already wealthy who got most of the money.

                Why thank you for this. It fricking paranoia and nightmare fuel. COINTELPRO level stuff at least. This is not only doable, it’s even plausible especially as it would involve giving individuals and groups relatively small amounts of money. The CIA paid off writers and artists to do (or not) certain kinds of work. The FBI paid their informants stipends. Gloria Steinem, Willem de Kooning, and Ernest Withers all received such payments. You could also make covert bribes in the CDC and FDA, which are both corrupt, to approve, deny, or otherwise modify different actions like assessments, medications, warnings, vaccination campaigns. Much of what people did in the 60s was not directly evil or ever obviously malicious. “Hey, here’s a retainer. All you have to do is not write about a few things, or maybe we can see them and make some very small suggestions?” “Why not try a different style of painting?” “Do you really need those particular individuals working with you?.”

  5. Pat

    Just wondering why, outside of outrageous profits, what would stop the government from capping all interest on student loans to one quarter the amount of the loan? And then declaring that all loans where the original amount PLUS the additional quarter had been paid “Paid in Full”. Forget time frame to pay loan, etc. Then give money to any one still owing a loan to be put toward reaching that .

    I realize this still doesn’t address the full student loan problem but considering the number of people who appear to have paid that but now still supposedly owe the same or even double that amount, Acknowledging that people did pay their loans but that usury/loan shark level practices have them still in debt might cut some of the onus off loan forgiveness in general.

    (I don’t know about anyone else, but getting 25% profit on an investment still sounds pretty decent in a world where CDs sell for less than a fifth of that)

      1. John

        I think of the term “payday lender” as a euphemism for “loan shark.” Have to have a name that at least sounds semi-respectable.

  6. Phenix

    Marlena Still has 1.47M followers. Her video has 80k views and 2001 comments. The pro-life (why hasn’t anyone used a different name for this faction? The are pro-control, pro-coercion, anti-choice. They are not pro-life.) movement will cost the Republicans dearly. Hopefully enough to keep the Democrats in the majority. The Dems are still evil but at least this would force more Corporate Dems to stop progressive reforms.

    I do not understand why it is so hard to frame this as a personal moral choice. A woman that has an abortion must deal with the consequences of her decision. Some women will always wonder what if, others have complications from the procedure and others move on with their lives and never look back. The state should provide a framework for safe and legal abortions with an arbitrary cut off between 16 and 22 weeks. The state does not need to make criminals out of people who are not harming other individuals.

    1. hunkerdown

      Yes, it does. That’s not what states are for. The state doesn’t exist except as a theory of value. Value, in turn, is the importance of actions as a part of some whole. If there aren’t enough important actions for the state to be seen doing, the need for them needs to be created, then carefully managed so it stays on the level of the imaginary and nothing fundamental will actually change. Social reform movements, for example, are one product of that phenomenon playing out in the “European” world in the modern era. Ceremonial competitive partisan politics is another, of which 1/6 was a notable spectacular.

      If you really want not to be considered the property of a sovereign and subject to its whims, a state is not the structure under which you want to live. “Equality before the law” is nothing more than equality in common subjugation by the sovereign, which the middle class thinks is a good thing because they’re paid extra for whipping the wage slaves. Of the three elementary forms of freedom negated by states — to leave a place with confidence one will be welcome elsewhere, to disobey a direct order, and to reorganize social relations — I suggest that the place to start is to reorganize the middle class right out of society. Elites made the class to keep capitalist relations alive. Without the middle class to facilitate their continuation, elites won’t know what to do with themselves and extinguish themselves like pandas.

      1. Charybdis

        Was it you the other day who introduced me to the Marilyn Monroe Doctrine?

        “If you can’t take me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”.

        You’re on a tear.

    2. Tim

      “I do not understand why it is so hard to frame this as a personal moral choice. A woman that has an abortion must deal with the consequences of her decision.” It’s hard because it is incomplete. If your starting point is the fetus is a human that is helpless, is it fair that the helpless human must deal with the consequences of the mother’s decision? That is the complication. Just like freedom of speech ends where harm to others begins, if you consider the fetus human, your right to your body end where harm to another person (the fetus) begins.

      The only place the abortion argument exists to make any headway whatsoever is to reach some level of consensus on the point of development when a fetus should be considered a human. Once that is determined based on the majorities opinion (if we are a functional democracy), all laws and regulations fall into place by precedence and logic, unless of course you are playing games still trying to win with your angle.

      And for reference most people don’t believe you are a human at conception and most people don’t believe you aren’t human until you are fully out of the birth canal. It is somewhere in between, so finding common ground at the level of subdivision by location seems reasonable.

      1. Medbh

        “Just like freedom of speech ends where harm to others begins, if you consider the fetus human, your right to your body end where harm to another person (the fetus) begins.”

        Yet you have no right to demand another person’s blood or organs, even if you need them to survive. This holds true even if the person has already died.

        The argument that “freedom ends where harm to another person begins” could also apply to the pregnant woman herself, given that pregnancy often harms or kills women.

  7. Carolinian

    Sounds like Biden has been reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Dems: when in doubt play the Hitler card?

    Meanwhile grocery prices keep going up.

      1. Carolinian

        Apparently his spokesperson was refusing to explain what he meant. It seems like Biden likes to blurt out the worst insult he can come up with and not a lot of thought goes into it.

        Of course if Trump is Hitler and Putin is Hitler and all the MAGAs are Hitler then how many Hitlers are there? It’s like the movie The Boys From Brazil come true.

        Reagan used to get most of his ideas from old movies. And now?…..

        1. hk

          The trouble with exaggerated comparisons is that they mainstream the truly bad people. But, if running an ultranationalist authoritarian regime that engages in terrorism (and threats thereof against citizens of Western countries) counts as “defending democracy,” what the heck does any of these words mean anyways?

      2. ChrisRUEcon

        > I don’t know what “semi-fascist” means …

        MAGA semi fascists cause problems at home, which is undesirable; unlike say, the preferable off-shored full fascists, who are useful for proxy wars and such.


        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘I don’t know what “semi-fascist” means …’

          Maybe somebody that doesn’t vote blue? :)

        2. Michael Ismoe

          Nope. These people are “semi-fascists” because in a couple years we want to welcome them back and we can assert that these people were “fascist-lite” and should be in a Big Tent party with W and David Frum.

          If they can rehabilitate W then anyone can be redeemed.

          1. ambrit

            ‘They’ are working on the rehabilitation of the Cheney Crime Family just now.
            Truman is credited with saying, about a certain Latin American ruthless dictator; “He may be a SOB, but he’s our SOB.”
            Now, in classic ‘blowback’ fashion, the same can now be said about American politicos.
            The trick now is to figure out who the “we” that spawns the ‘our’ locution are.
            This ‘they’ as a pronoun dependent upon the aforementioned “we” could just be the same in Truman’s day as in ours.

            1. Librarian Guy

              Actually, if you research a bit more you will find that that quote is attributed to FDR regarding the Somoza dictatorship we installed in Nicaragua after William Walker failed to permanently take over the country. Since HST was pushed into his VP spot to prevent an actual leftist from being PoTUS, Henry Wallace, you were not far off. Source: https://libquotes.com/franklin-d-roosevelt/quote/lbc6r7o

      3. Amateur Socialist

        The question made me wonder if semi-fascist=merely performative fascism, as opposed to the committed kind.

        Does Biden imagine that his good friends the republicans are only pretending at white supremacist nationalism? Perhaps the way many of his good friends who are democrats pretend at… whatever it is that democrats do?

        1. ambrit

          Yet, the mentioned “white supremacist nationalism” is but a fig leaf for Exploitative Rentier Capitalism, which recognizes no colour or creed.
          It is another example of the perennial “divide and rule” methodology at work.
          Only a deluded fool would consider the Hindutva extremists or the Righteous Fists of the Chinese People’s Party as “White Supremacists.” Yet both groups act like one form or another of fascist.
          As an example, allow me to draw your attention to the Confucian concept of the “Rectification of Names.” China has ‘form’ in this field.
          See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectification_of_names#:~:text=In%20Confucianism%2C%20the%20Rectification%20of,what%20they%20ought%20to%20be%22.
          Time for an International Self Criticism Session?

      4. NotTimothyGeithner

        They don’t have uniforms, but their outfits do have the same flamboyance as the full fledged variety.

      5. Carolinian

        Perhaps Biden is talking about this.


        As the American public, and the broader world, watched the shocking events of January 6 unfold on television and social media, a consensus quickly emerged among some academics, pundits, and clergy that the attack at the Capitol was religiously inspired. “Christian nationalism,” the narrative went, was the driving force behind the riot. Popular Christian historian Jemar Tisby tweeted: “Don’t miss the religious elements of what’s happening at the Capitol. They said, ‘Critical Race Theory is the biggest threat.’ What they’re showing us is that Christian nationalism is and has been the biggest threat not only to Christianity in the US but to democracy as well.”

        Without so much as a single arrest record or investigation having been conducted, a ground swell of assertions flooded magazines, journals, newspapers, and social media claiming that Christian nationalism was to blame for the events on January 6. In the subsequent weeks and months, several evangelicals would join this chorus, publicly denouncing Christian nationalism as responsible for the violence at the Capitol.

        The article goes on to say that most evidence points to the non religious Proud Boys as the instigators of the Capitol invasion. I didn’t watch a minute of the 1/6 hearings and spend the same amount of time on Kos but “blame it on the Christians” (but the bad Christians) sounds not unlikely as the latest manifestation of our “paranoid style.”

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The article goes on to say that most evidence points to the non religious Proud Boys as the instigators of the Capitol invasion.

          That’s non religious and FBI-infiltrated Proud Boys

          There’s absolutely no way the FBI didn’t know all there was to know about the Proud Boys. Their leader was a “prrolific” informant!

      6. Larry Carlson

        By putting “semi-“ in front of words, one can create statements that may not have a clear meaning, but are very hard to refute. For example:
        Even though few companies build airplanes, the aircraft market is semi-competitive.
        The United States is semi-effective at not killing civilians during its military interventions.
        Health care costs are semi-affordable for most Americans.

      7. Sardonia

        “I don’t know what “semi-fascist” means”

        It means that Biden (like a dog who hadn’t been let out of the house for weeks but has just been let out to go play and is out of his mind with enthusiasm), was about to call 74 million voters “Fascists” but his muddled brain knew just enough to not do that, but was still muddled enough to not be able to fully do that, so he let that semi-insult out instead.

        I wouldn’t try to look for an objective, actual meaning to that term. That would be like trying to figure out what the sounds being made by someone speaking in tongues mean.

      8. tegnost

        strategic ambiguity.
        it’s a fancy way to say it and not say it at the same time…
        Also known as baloney, malarkey, BS, nonsense, balderdash, drivel, twaddle, claptrap,gibberish, mumbo jumbo, babble, blather, ramble, burble, waffle, rubbish, tommyrot, poppycock, hot air, piffle, tripe, bosh, bunk, hogwash, bollocks, bunkum, codswallop, flapdoodle, wack, looney, crapola…
        but it does not in any way make sense.

    1. notabanker

      Meanwhile grocery prices keep going up.

      The answer to that is to slow your wage growth. Jerome Powell has you covered.

  8. Pat

    Does this mean that dog in France got Monkeypox from inappropriate relations with their owners, or gasp some other human? If so I guess the reports that scientists were worried about how human to animal/animal to human transmission might mean were just being fear mongers.

    1. Mikel

      People want to jump to that conclusion but consider:
      Dogs lick their owners and then lick themselves all over. And they lick other people (something to remember).
      Not to mention some like rubbing their butts on surfaces. All the dog had to do was scoot its butt on their sick owner’s bedsheets.

      1. Pat

        I realize I am being pedantic, but touching someone’s bed sheets does not qualify as sexually transmitted. At least AIDS added the bodily fluids caveat, and it really doesn’t have aerosol transmission and it’s fomite transmission is less extensive than Monkeypox has been shown to do.

        I remember distinctly where I was when I heard that AIDS was not transmitted by blood and the blood supply was safe. My reaction was not suitable for a family blog. It took a kid getting the disease from a blood transfusion and parents and friends who would not be silenced to finally make the government and our medical albatross Fauci and colleagues to admit that was a lie finally. My reaction to the article above was less explosive but my bs meter was still screeching from off the charts heights just like then.

        They liked AIDS being relegated to the gay ghetto. It stigmatized the disease beyond just being an STD and allowed large portions of America to kid themselves about their immunity. This is exactly the same thing, even if the disease is less destructive and dangerous. It is a lie that allows people to think they are safer than they are AND allows the government to do far less than necessary to contain it.

        Sex may be one means of transmission, but it isn’t remotely only a STI. your list about the fallacy of thinking the dog had to be raped to get the illness makes that perfectly clear. And you don’t have to lick some one to be exposed, flung sweat could do it. I don’t know that being in the front row as an actor expresses droplets of spittle as they enunciate all night wouldn’t do it. And lord help the poor hotel maid who gathers up the wrong sheets.

        This is one more example of a respected group spreading exactly the wrong information at the wrong time for the wrong reason we saw decades ago and over the last three years. It will not be for the best.

  9. fresno dan


    All elections have consequences but rarely do they have consequences as immediate as Democrat Pat Ryan’s upset win in the NY-19 special election. Ryan ran hard on abortion rights post-Roe; his opponent, Republican Marc Molinaro, ran hard on inflation and the economy, the issues that were supposed to produce a red wave this fall. Ryan won by three points in a true toss-up district.

    Suddenly Republicans across the country are terrified that the Dobbs backlash is going to blow them up too. They might no longer be able to duck the issue by shouting “inflation!” at voters. They may have to engage on it and reassure undecideds that they won’t let the right’s staunchest pro-lifers set the agenda if Republicans take back Congress.
    Still, Smiley’s clarification on abortion is small potatoes compared to the intensive overhaul that Blake Masters’s campaign has suddenly undergone. Masters is the Trump-backed nationalist facing Mark Kelly in Arizona. Kelly is well-liked, has the advantage of incumbency, and is a fundraising juggernaut. A Republican who’s already an underdog would be playing with fire in the current climate by taking a hard line on abortion — and Masters *did* take a hard line on it in the primary. But no more:

    He’s totally right that most Americans oppose late-term and partial-birth abortion. His new position fits comfortably within the mainstream of public opinion, which condones abortion early and opposes it late.
    In the partisan cable and horse rate reporting world, how candidate positions get…uh, positioned is too moderate and boring to ever get reported.
    And one other thing – this RED TIDE is exactly how many new republicans at the most? That is actually pretty tough to get any definitive answer, but say 4 (which is high) net senate seats go republican. This is a 4 PER CENT change. Really – is that a big deal – things really change? How about in the house? 30? Less than 10-% Other than the catch phrase to sell the stuff they sell on TV – ITS A HISTORIC ELECTION, as well as the fact that both parties are corrupt, is this really gonna change anything*???
    * Biden “nothing will fundamentally change”
    I enjoy reading this blog, but I refuse to let my blood pressure be influenced by these elections.

    1. KD

      People should stop complaining about Dobbs, Republicans have been able to capitalize on extreme prolife positions to cater to a small minority and even pass laws knowing the courts will just nullify them and they won’t pay any political consequences. Game is up.

      1. John

        I see the Dobbs decision as similar to the passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act: a minority point of view became law. We shall have to see if the pattern of compliance and resistance is in any way similar . I expect to see some measure of moderation to prevail in the medium term.

  10. fresno dan

    “Trump Mar–a-Lago affidavit reveals ‘handwritten notes,’ highly classified material led to warrant request” [Politico]. “Prosecutors submitted proposed redactions to the court on Thursday morning and Reinhart concurred with all of them. In an order issued a short time later, the judge said that prosecutors had shown ‘good cause’ to redact elements of the affidavit that would reveal ‘the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties,’ as well as ‘the investigation’s strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods’ and ‘grand jury information.’”
    BTW, here is the redacted warrant

    And after reading all that, it all boils down to top secret stuff. Bare in mind, menus have been classified. Is it really important stuff? Who knows…

    1. voteforno6

      So, you’re saying they should reveal what the highly classified information is? I don’t think that’s how it works.

    2. Wukchumni

      I have first hand knowledge of the matter and its an open and shut case-let me explain {redacted-redacted-redacted-redacted-redacted} and when you combine that with {redacted-redacted-redacted-redacted} its a wonder he hasn’t turned himself into the authorities yet.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        It’s Impeachment #4.

        All you have to do is believe that Trump used to take whomever occupied the most expensive room at Mar-a-Lago into The Library and showed him the launch codes and our missile locations. The Democrats are so brain-damaged that they are using the plot from and old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon where Trump is Boris Badenuv, Melania is Natasha and Merrick Garland is Bullwinkle and the FBI is Rocket J. Squirrel. Yeah, that’s totally believable.

        1. ambrit

          Your ‘elevator pitch’ for the Mar-a-lago mini series is very believable. Send us an unredacted pilot script.

    1. hunkerdown

      No he doesn’t. Link has nothing to do with marijuana legalization.

      Show me a notarized deed of title to my particular lungs or gtfo out of my body.

      1. KD

        If his mind has not been permanently destroyed by marijuana, is his article then intended to be satire?

          1. Michael Ismoe

            Telephones destroyed lives, not weed. If Alexander Graham Bell hadn’t invented the phone, the cops couldn’t be called.

            Let me guess: Claire Foster PhD is a family counselor?

              1. Michael Ismoe

                Unless “Claire Foster” is really Brittany Greiner’s mother. Then we have a hit series on HBO for a couple seasons.

  11. ChrisRUEcon


    “Early 2024 Scorecard … “ (via usatoday.com, paywalled)

    In your face, Hillary!!! LOL

    Paging Bernie Sanders?

    A new USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll finds that the 80-year-old senator from Vermont, who has two credible bids for the Democratic presidential nomination under his belt, has the highest overall favorability among nearly two dozen prospective 2024 contenders from both parties.

    His 46% rating – not exactly stratospheric but better than the others – is thanks to his strength among Democratic voters (78%) paired with his crossover appeal. He is the highest-rated Democrat among independents (at 41%) and among the highest-rated Democrats among Republican voters (at 18%).

    So HRC’s recent (via Jacobin) preemptive “Bernie is sexist” strike was all for nought. Not that I think Bernie will, or should run again, but it puts the other contenders in their place. His ideas are still leagues beyond what any of the others will have on offer.

    1. Buzz Meeks

      And fifty years ago his positions would have been slightly right of center. A democratic socialist, whatever that means. I still wish he had kept his mouth shut on that particular phrase in 2016.
      The national shift to the right funded by the Kochs , Reagan deregulating the FCC etc to give them their media platform, and the financial sector rape of the country is truly horrific.

      1. jsn

        Democratic Socialist is to set himself apart from the unpopular Stalinist authoritarian kind.

        Of course our current crop of Democrats are gumming all this up.

        The appear hellbent on becoming Democratic Stalinists.

      2. Tommy S

        The telecommunications act was under Clinton with only a minority of democrats against it. That was the real damage, massive de regulation….

    2. Carla

      @ChrisRUE — My ideas are great, too. Doesn’t mean anybody acts on them. Sad to say, same is true for Bernie.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Somewhere between “we wuz robbed” and “shoulda gone for the jugular” … is where The Lamentations Of Bernard ends, yes.

        1. DJG, Reality Czar

          Carla: Of course we act on your ideas.

          ChrisRUEcon: Thanks for this observation and the larger one up top about Bernie Sanders’s enduring appeal. Natch, Hillary, Who Is Running, is still trying to savage him. Yet your comment above is clarifying–although we have seen twice how these views of the electorate play out– ignored and oppressed by their betters.

          I wonder if Bernie Sanders would have been better off calling himself a semi-socialist.

  12. herman_sampson

    Missing sounds:
    5 1/4 or (gasp) 8 inch floppy disks
    Radio AM/FM hiss
    8 track tape channel changing
    Typewriters and adding machines
    Punch card machines
    8 or 16 mm movie projectors, especially at the end of the reel (also reel to reel audio tape).

    1. Milton

      If you’re going back to punch cards (before this Gen Xer’s time) how ’bout the sound of milk bottles rattling in their little crate as the milkman delivers them on the doorstep. Also, the sound of a keyed cash register as it opens and how the clasp holding the money clacks against the tray as the bills are taken out.

      1. LifelongLib

        Punch cards were used well into the 1980s. I barely remember milk deliveries from around 1960.

        1. Milton

          My grandma passed in ’83 and had milk deliveries to the end from Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto. The only punch cards I ever saw were ones my neighbor would make into Xmas wreaths. Her husband was a Lockheed engineer who no doubt had used them in his analysis. Good stuff.

          1. LifelongLib

            My family moved near the end of 1960 and IIRC after that always got milk at a supermarket, but that’s an individual thing and memory is tricky. I clearly recall using punch cards in a job I had from 1980 to 1986 but sometime in there they were phased out and we started using terminals instead.

      2. Wukchumni

        The circa 70’s sound of a manual credit card machine making an imprint of a credit card by sliding a movable metal imprinter back and forth (and yes, i’d like my carbon~)

        The in command sound of a IBM Selectric typewriter once you turn it on, lots of whirring even while awaiting your peck & call.

        The dial of a rotary phone in calling somebody. You really had to remember things back then, phone #’s in particular.

        1. LifelongLib

          Even making a call was complicated. When I was a little kid we had this weird party line setup where you listened to find out if the line was clear, then dialed the number and hung up. If the person you were calling picked up, your phone would ring and then you would pick up and talk. Maybe early or mid-60s when that changed to more like what it is now.

          1. Big River Bandido

            My grandparents in rural Iowa had a party line until the mid- or even late 70s, which worked about as you describe. The Bell breakup may have been what finally lowered rates enough in some country areas so that costs for telephone service were no longer prohibitive.

          2. .human

            A friend’s mother still had a party line in the early oughts. It was $6.40/mo!

            I remember 4 digit local dialing over PBX systems. I had to bang my head against the wall when the new phone book (remember those?) proclaimed the advantages of 10 digit dialing.

    2. Buzz Meeks

      Add valve radio warmups and late night heterodyning sounds between manually tuning AM frequencies.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I would include one sound that we still have – the chunk of a car door closing. Decades ago Detroit developed and built a car door that would be silent when you closed it. But when they tested it with people, they hated it. People wanted to hear that decisive chunk sound.

      Have not thought of it but that is a difference in the times. Detroit tried a silent door but gave up when people rejected it outright. These days, and especially with Silicon Valley (cough * Microsoft * cough* Apple * cough) and Hollywood, the attitude is that you are going to get it so suck it up.

  13. Terry Flynn

    For Rev_Kev (and others who measure the pulse of genre stuff). Have you noticed just how many of the “high profile” YouTubers are broadcasting but preceeding with apologies about scratchy voices, not feeling 100% and doing shorter than usual videos? Very marked among those who have always traditionally attended comiccon etc *cough* not superspreader events at all *cough*?

    Methinks wastewater at places like San Diego conference centre might tell a lot about not just CA but when married to other data, what’s “coming down the pipe” (ahem) when people fly home? The rehabilitation of the USA Movie Theatre Industry to me looks suicidal. UK somewhat followed and Oz definitely did…… But the top chain is entering chpt 11 so they’re clearly not winning.

    Movie theatres are dead. They just don’t know it yet.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Movie theatres are dead. They just don’t know it yet.’

      Before we opened up, I took my grand-daughters to see a movie – “Free Guy” as it turned out – as it was still safe. Now? Not on your Nellie. No way in hell.

      Hope that you are feeling better lately by the way.

      1. Wukchumni

        As long as silent films were all that was, vaudeville still had a place and even when talkies came out they still did ok, but the Great Depression killed vaudeville as it was wobbly already.

        I used to go to the movies at least every couple of weeks when I was younger and the films had resonance as conversation material-as long as you’d both seen it, that is.

        What’s the hurry to see something that will show up on your screen 6 months later for $3.99?

        Once the delivery system went directly to homes, movie theaters were doomed, Covid was the cruel twist of fate accompli.

        I guess i’ve gone to see a movie maybe a dozen times since the turn of the century, there’s no urgency as movies aren’t hardly the focal point they once were, along with being for the most part-useless CGI dreck et al.

        Can you name a film since 2000 that would be considered a classic 50 years from now?

        The pickins’ they are slim.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Once the delivery system went directly to homes, movie theaters were doomed

          Which is nuts, because the big screen experience is entirely different from the small screen one. Yet again, Silicon Valley makes us more stupid.

          1. .human

            Sitting in the front row at Lowe’s Astor Plaza theater watching the 70mm version of the battle cruiser slowly fly over you…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > For Rev_Kev (and others who measure the pulse of genre stuff). Have you noticed just how many of the “high profile” YouTubers are broadcasting but preceeding with apologies about scratchy voices, not feeling 100% and doing shorter than usual videos?

      Readers? Your experience would be interesting (I can’t help, because I don’t watch enough YouTube).

      1. The Rev Kev

        More a grazer of YouTube videos, but I can’t say that I have noticed much difference. Of course you may have some YouTubers that may not want to advertise the fact that anything is amiss.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Lambert and Rev Kev – late response due to feeling whacked after trying a walk! However I tend to officially subscribe to few of the big genre “big YouTubers” because the algorithm then stops suggesting anything it thinks “might challenge my views”.

          Thus I manually search for certain providers, some violently “anti woke” and others “pro-woke but often betray views that are so pro-PMC straight out of the Democrat playbook that I am equally disgusted”. Their common denominator is exactly what NC has excoriated – business as usual (just differing in terms of mask policy and type with none recognising the true mask need).

          Thus I’m never going to the cinema again until and unless the world changes profoundly.

  14. fresno dan


    -ORCON =“originator control”
    -NOFORN = “no foreign nationals” (should see these documents)
    -HCS = HUMINT (human intelligence) Control System.
    -SI = COMINT (communication intelligence, or intercepts) Special Intelligence
    Acronyms. So are we talking REAL clandistine agents in the Kremlin and real secrets? Or are we talking about Russian “sources” that supposedly supplied the pee tapes???
    In the world of espionage, and apparently in the world of the FBI, any information you don’t like, that information can be called disinformation. Any information you want to keep secret, you can call special comparmentaized sources….
    Now, I don’t trust Trump’s defenders very much. On the other hand, is there anyone here who REALLY thinks Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, ecetera are giving objective information regarding Trump? And while we are at it, how about the DoJ and FBI?

  15. digi_owl

    A: I miss physical media. Dinky microSDs, no matter how awesome it is to fit 10000x my first PC on a fingernail, just don’t cut it.

    B: reposting Tiktok on Twitter breaks my poor brain.

  16. Terry Flynn

    QANTAS demotes executives. Maximus is a bit “pro European” in outlook and bias but has not been radically out of tune with articles NC linked to regarding corporate shenanigans regarding the 737 and 787 and the merger which led to chaos.

    My Dublin raised mother has said many things about the Irish CEO (mostly unrepeatable) – but her latest comment was “bet that gobshite won’t be one of them”. Indeed.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I regret to say that Alan Joyce is not one of Ireland’s best exports to Australia. But I can understand why they got him out of the country – before he could do the same to Aer Lingus. Joyce was really pushing Oz to open up in spite of the pandemic because his shares were suffering. People don’t realize it here but we are ticking over about a thousand dead a month because of opening up. But now Joyce is whingeing because so many people at Qantas and the airports are out sick again and again.

  17. Appleseed

    re: “Democrats in tough races distance themselves from Biden’s student loans decision.” Why not push back and point out all of the GOPers who have had loans forgiven.
    Jeffrey St Clair makes the following observation in this week’s Roaming Charges column:

    + GOP members of Congress whose PPP loans were forgiven…
    Brett Guthrie (KY): $4.3 million

    Carol Miller (WV): $3.1 million
Vern Buchanan (FL): $2.8 million

    Roger Williams (TX): $1.43 million

    Kevin Hern (OK): $1.07 million

    Markwayne Mullin (OK): $988,700
Mark Kelly (PA): $970,100

    Matt Gaetz (FL): $476,000

    Vicki Hartzler (MO): $451,200

    Ralph Norman (SC):  $306,520

    Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA): $180,000

    Greg Pence (IN): $79,441

    Ralph Abraham (LA): $38,000

  18. IMOR

    “(For example, Fetterman has been fun, but now what happens when Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania and gives him a nickname that sticks?)”
    Always helping!

    1. Pelham

      I predict Trump will go with Uncle Fester and leave it at that. But many won’t get the reference, just as many missed the Alfred E. Neuman moniker he stuck on Mayor Pete.

      Relatedly, does anyone else see in Merrick Garland a sort of mini-Lurch? I keep hoping he’ll step up to a lectern and begin his remarks with, “You rang?”

  19. Dave

    The Tiktok 80s-90s tech montage and your characterization of current soundscapes as “always demanding” reminds me of how much I hate:

    Pop-up windows in everything, including and especially the word processing software I am obliged to use for work.

    The removal of the home button from iPhones and probably other phones. This was great design which enabled you to back out of any situation with one unambiguous gesture.

    Extremely bright LED indicator lights on everything. I have to cover them up or they disturb my sleep.

    Thanks for commiserating.

  20. Mark Gisleson

    Timberwolves player Taurean Prince was doing a charity event in San Antonio this week. His vehicle tabs were expired and he got pulled over. He explained to the officer that he had legal guns in the car and showed his registration and permitted a search.

    Unfortunately the officer spotted a vape pen which in Texas negates your right to carry guns. Prince left for Florida and when he got to Miami, a warrant was waiting for him from Texas.

    Texas is doing to Taurean Prince what Russia is doing to Brittney Griner.

    I’m having a hard time liking this country right now.

  21. howseth

    “Extremely bright LED indicator lights on everything. I have to cover them up or they disturb my sleep.”
    Do none of these tech designers have to sleep with any of the tech gear they design – with those damn LED lights? What gives!
    I have special rolls of colored tape to cover up the lights on these electronic gadgets/equipment. (I should bring a roll when visiting someone overnight – and they put you in the spare room – which maybe a blinking light festival)
    – Another pet peeve – those car keys/buttons that give a blast of the car horn after people park – or approach their car. Is it really necessary?

    1. Irrational

      100% with you on both. Best is clock-radios with a display so bright that you can read a book in your bedroom.

  22. Wukchumni

    Just back from the Big Smoke and the Wal*Mart specifically, where they’d run out of plastic shopping bags a day before-along with the other Wal*Mart location (neither would make the cut as far as being ‘ghetto W*M’s as one might find in Ambrit’s NADS, and the way you can tell is by how much of the retail goods are behind locked glass) in town being 86’d also, I was advised by my cashier who’d fielded the question probably 100 times before.

    It isn’t the end of the world, although you can see a mirage in the distance that certainly looks like it.

    There was a bit of receptacle envy if you hadn’t brought bags of your own, for those filling their 4 wheeled tumbrel with gotten gains.

      1. ambrit

        You know, that is downright weird. Our “ghetto” WalMart had a fire in the tire bays five weeks ago. The smoke ruined all the merchandise in the place. It was closed for two weeks for cleaning and restocking. Surprise! All the new stock was higher priced!

  23. jr

    Chris Lehto interviews Ross Coulthart, an acclaimed Aussie journalist who is producing a documentary about his UFO investigations:


    He says there is a real conflict between Congress and the Pentagon about the subject. He meets with Congresspersons, Gary Nolan, and Michio Kaku, amongst others. He also talks of the victims of exposure to UFO and his initial debunker stance.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    . . . ” “Democrats in tough races distance themselves from Biden’s student loans decision” . . . ” Republicans are betting there will be a backlash against debt forgiveness in states or districts where college attainment is low.” . . .

    I had no shoes when I was your age. What do you need feet for?

    1. ambrit

      It reminds me of the old saying: “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no d—.”
      The Democrat Party now measures clandestine political operations in “Epstein Units.”
      Besides, “Shoeless” Joe Biden??? What the??? Another case of a team ‘throwing’ the World Series?

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Biden’s Job Rating Rises to 44%, Highest in a Year”

    I’m calling bs on that – unless they sampled people in New York City and California. I would guess that it would be maybe half that. And as blowback from the sanctions war continues to make prices increase and inflation gets out of hand, it may be in single digits by November.

    1. Pat

      Ummm, the location would have to be much more localized in both cases. For instance in NYC, neither Staten Island or the Bronx would put Biden that high. I’m pretty sure there are areas of Brooklyn that would and some would not. Although I encounter a fair amount of unhappy people in my travels, Sadly I would bet most of Manhattan would. Northern California iffy, Sacramento iffy, San Diego iffy.

      But yeah, that poll feels like an outlier. Even with the best spin possible over the Schumer Manchin deal there wasn’t enough meat there to raise his numbers that much.

  26. Tony Wikrent

    RE “Biden’s Student-Loan Forgiveness Is Good. It Could Have Been Revolutionary”, and the general topics of the incessant conservative and libertarian attacks on public education, and the NECESSITY of free public education in a democratic republic:

    According to Forrest A. Nabors, author of From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, one committee of the Virginia secession convention presented a report that explicitly attacked democratic republicanism and majority rule as “the despotism of numbers” that inevitably led to “misappropriation of others’ property under democratic forms of government,” which in the North “may be seen in the system of free schools, by which children of the poor are educated at the expense of the rich.

    Nabors quotes from a number of Civil War era leaders of the Republican Party, who had to grapple with the tasks of defining who the Confederate enemy was, and then replacing that enemy’s system of government after that enemy had been defeated by force of arms:

    “Knowledge,” Thaddeus Stevens said in 1835, “is the only foundation on which republics can stand.” This theory and its opposite, that ignorance is the only foundation on which oligarchy can stand, runs through the Republicans’ criticism of the slave states’ abstention from establishing a healthy common school system. They argued that the slave-state rulers deliberately prevented the development of common schools because popular ignorance was their policy goal. The arrangement of educational institutions in the slave states secured this goal and supported oligarchic rule…. in 1858, Senator Zachariah Chandler of Michigan quoted from the annual message of South Carolina governor Whitemarsh Seabrook: “Education has been provided by the Legislature but for one class of the citizens of the State, which is the wealthy class. For the middle and poorer classes of society it has done nothing, since no organized system has been adopted for that purpose….

    In 1861… Waltman Willey [who was elected from the western mountains around Morganton to go to the secession convention, where he stubbornly voted against secession over and over again, then served in the U.S. Senate representing the Restored Government of Virginia, then served as one of the first two Senators from the new state of West Virginia] directly explained why the oligarchy opposed free schools: “Sir, great astonishment has been expressed at the hostility of southern statesmen to popular education. But, sir, we ought not to be surprised at it. Knowledge is power; and to keep the masses in ignorance is a necessary precaution to keep them in subjection. To maintain the oligarchy of the few owning the capital, it is necessary to bind down with the slavish chains of ignorance the many who perform the labor. . . . Sir, the true reason of this hostility to popular education is hostility to democratic institutions.
    In 1862 Willey’s colleague from western Virginia Representative Kellian Whaley similarly denounced the policy of the slaveholding aristocrats in eastern Virginia and imputed to them the same motive. The eastern Virginian aristocracy jealously guarded their power over the state… “One of the greatest injuries sustained by our western people has been an organized opposition to a system of free schools and popular education, by which the bright but untutored minds of our mountain ranges and humbler classes have not been developed, while colleges and seminaries for the rich have been fostered by eastern legislation. To keep the people in ignorance is a part of the policy of their masters, the forty thousand slave-owners of East Virginia.”

    –Forrest A. Nabors, From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, Columbia, Mo., University of Missouri Press, 2017, pp. 46 ff.

    1. VietnamVet

      History does rhyme. Public schools are on their last legs in the 21st century in the USA due the intentional denial of funds and leadership to make schools safe in a pandemic or to provide a sound rounded education in order to profit from privatized charter schools. It serves the Oligarchy.

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a barely over 2 minute video from Beau of the Fifth Column called ” Let’s talk about a surprising internet development for Trump . . . ” In this video, Beau is being snarkastic with a straight face about the looming failure of Trump’s new internet platform Truth Social.

    Here is the link.

  28. skippy

    2GB Sydney
    BREAKING | Former Deputy Premier John Barilaro has been charged for alleged assault and malicious damage offences on a 51-year-old man.


    Clearly an attempt to deny the liberties and freedoms of another man, nay a man in the discharge of his employment contract with his employer to gain monies, too support himself, by someone that deems themself above the laws of this nation, conducting such market based activities and the gentlemanly conduct that elevates our society above the savages[.] A pox on the man for his public display of vulgarity and the laws that keep us all secure in the notion we can walk the streets safely in the discharge of our duties or just out and about seeking exchange of Commerce which betters us all.

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