2:00PM Water Cooler 9/12/2022

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Common Loon, Hamilton, New York, United States. Not to editorialize. “Wail calls from a single individual.”

* * *


“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

“‘You Believe This S–t?’ Biden’s Complicated Friendship With Obama” [Politico]. “Obama figured that if Biden’s campaign failed, the former VP’s legacy and ultimately his memory would be painted by that embarrassment — as would Obama’s. Wouldn’t he want to go out on top, with the public’s final memory of him more “Medal of Freedom” than “1 percent in Iowa”? The problem, as Obama saw it, was that he couldn’t say anything like this to Biden himself, not after the way 2016 had ended. Biden hadn’t forgotten their searing 2015 White House chat about how Biden wanted to spend the rest of his life, though Obama didn’t resurface it. Surely Obama couldn’t bring the topic back up, he felt. He could tell Biden was still sure that he could have saved the country from Trump had his personal circumstances been different that year — and had Obama, and his political advisers, just gotten out of the way.” • Biden thought that? Sleepy Joe? Wow.


* * *

* * *

GA: “Stacey Abrams Announces That With A Heavy Heart She Will Succeed Elizabeth II As Queen” [Babylon Bee]. • It’s funny because it’s true.

OH: “Ohio shows signs of becoming swing state again for Democrats” [The Hill]. “Ohio has been a perennial swing state, and former President Obama won it twice in 2008 and 2012. But Ohio has mostly delivered bad news for Democrats ever since, as Democrats have lost various statewide races, and former President Trump took the state in 2016 and 2020 relatively easily. Since President Biden’s loss in 2020, political observers have increasingly seen the Buckeye State as Trump territory, with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) being a notable holdout. Ryan’s strong candidacy is changing that. Polls show him in a tight race with Vance, the ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author who Trump backed in the GOP primary. Various Democratic House candidates are also showing strength — most notably Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who looked like she’d be in trouble after redistricting made her district more Republican. Kaptur is now in a toss-up race with Republican J.R. Majewski, who has come under scrutiny because he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. ‘When you look at all of the major cities across the state of Ohio, they’re all Democrat. Ohio was a swing state for a long time. I’m not convinced that it’s not a swing state at this point,’ said Derrick Clay, a former Midwest political director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. ‘I know that Tim Ryan has really went out of his way to talk to rural voters and talk to working class people across this state, and that’s something that I believe is the reason why he has advanced so well in his current campaign for Senate.'” • Not knowing what you said, you said it.

PA: Fetterman rally:

TX: Beto, what do you think you’re doing?

The New Yorker? Really?


“DOJ will appeal judge’s decision to grant Trump’s special master request to review seized docs” [ABC]. “‘The Court hereby authorizes the appointment of a special master to review the seized property for personal items and documents and potentially privileged material subject to claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege,’ [Judge Aileen Cannon] wrote.” • The press always focuses on executive privilege, never on attorney-client privilege. And the FBI Hoovered up documents covered by attorney-client privilege (and its a million-to-one they read and copied them). Why would anybody give control over a case’s documents to the people who did that?

“DOJ appeals special master ruling in Trump Mar-a-Lago probe” [Politico]. “[P]rosecutors indicated the intelligence community had halted its review of the seized materials altogether — including an assessment of whether they, or any sources and methods, had been compromised — due to ‘uncertainty’ around Cannon’s ruling.” • Somebody call a w-h-a-a-a-mbulance!

“Trump Is Caught in a Double Bind” [The Atlantic]. “Though it seems fair to say that Trump is complicating Republican midterm efforts, isolating his role in the final result in November will be impossible. But his continued hints—if anything so blunt can be called a hint—that he intends to run for president again in 2024 mean that we’ll get another chance to observe the trend. That election may not work the same way, though. Trump and his allies have already shown that they have a workaround for the broad public antipathy toward him: They’re planning to make sure he goes back to the White House, even if it means rigging the election.” • I keep going back to the notion of scale. If the Republicans run anybody else — DeSantis, Abbott — they will be running a smaller man, literally and figuratively. A man who, whatever other virtues he may have, cannot command the national stage as Trump could. No wonder the Democrats are so desperate to get rid of him.

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.

* * *

“Democratic Party spent $44 million to promote pro-Trump fascists in Republican primaries” [WSWS]. “According to the campaign finance tracker Open Secrets, Democratic Party-aligned political action committees (PACs), political groups and nonprofits have spent at least $44 million on political ads designed to boost Trump-endorsed promoters of the ex-president’s ‘stolen election’ lie and fascist politics in primary contests across the country for the US House and Senate, as well as for top positions in state governments. In a number of cases, the Democratic Party has spent significantly more on ads for these candidates than the candidates themselves. Typically, the ads present the candidates as ‘too close to Trump,’ an ostensible criticism that is actually intended to make them more attractive to Republican primary voters. The cynical calculation behind this strategy is that in the targeted states, Trump clones will be easier to beat in the November general election than less extreme Republican primary contestants. Much of the money has come from PACs like the House Majority PAC, which has close ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Its distribution for Republican primary Congressional races has been sanctioned and coordinated by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Many of the Republican candidates aided by the Democratic ads have long histories of extreme far-right views, while their more traditional Republican rivals have included the few incumbents who either voted to impeach Trump or supported investigations into the January 6, 2021 insurrection. Among the Republicans boosted by the Democratic ads are known coup plotters, including a number of candidates who were present at the January 6 coup attempt.” • Doubling down on the “Pied Piper” strategy…. I wonder if the DNC gives money to Putin? The same logic would seem to apply. And a profile in courage from Harris:

And speaking of moralizing:

“Socialist Kristen Gonzalez: We Defeated the Democratic Machine” [Jacobin]. “n an election year that has been a mixed bag for democratic socialists in the city and the state, Kristen Gonzalez defeated Queens Democratic Party–backed Elizabeth Crowley by more than twenty-five percentage points in the race for New York State Senate District 59. Gonzalez’s win, despite being outspent four to one by her opponent, with real estate special interests pouring additional millions into negative ad campaigns, testifies to Democratic Socialist of America (DSA)’s formidable presence in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria as well as in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Gonzalez’s victory also attests to the importance of rent control and climate infrastructure development as she joins State Senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport in their efforts to pass pending legislations such as Good Cause Eviction and Build Public Renewables in Albany.”

Republican Funhouse

At least there’s a mission:

I think, in fact, that Lenin would approve. Except for the $295 fee; making party members pay for their own accoutrements is, well, more of a Nazi thing, frankly. (OTOH, Cohn considers Ukrainian operative and DNC oppo researcher Andrea Chalupa worth quote-tweeting, so take with a truckload of salts.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Video emerges showing Georgia Republican Party officials giving Trump-operatives access to voting machines” [WSWS]. “Notably, a week before Latham allowed the Trump-campaign hired operatives into the building, Latham testified before the Georgia Senate alongside Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. In her testimony, she claimed that ‘QR codes’ had been manipulated in order to alter vote totals and state Republican officials, including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, were not doing enough to address ‘inadequacies’ in the vote.” • What I find tooth-grindingly frustrating in all of this is that the Latham et al., are 100% correct to focus on QR codes; they are a real weakness in the system, as I show in this post on VSAP, the Los Angeles QR code-based system of electronic voting machines. This handy diagram shows the weak points, which are inherent to the system:

The printout that the voter gets is a mere receipt. The QR code that is scanned, which is machine-readable but not human readable, is the actual ballot; that which is tabulated. So hacked software could change the ballot at any point along the voting process, and the voter would never know. However, the “election deniers” need to show more than the possiblity; they need to show the reality, the actual hack. And so far as I know, they never have. If somebody who knows the Republican fever swamp better than I do knows differently, please share. (This is why a competent Trump lawyer would have demanded to see the code the machines ran.)


[pounds head on desk] (1):

Granted, “could be.” Nevertheless!

[pounds head on desk] (2):

Yes, and then imagine the President who had the vaccines developed at “lightning speed” was Trump, and the person that squandered that advantage was Biden. I mean, no wonder they hate Trump.

* * *

A “historic moment”?

I wish it were. I mean, look at this potential photo op:

Not to denigrate in any way the efforts of Prather et al., which are genuinely heroic, but where’s Jill Biden? Heck, why didn’t Joe come sniffing around? How about that fossil Tony Fauci, now that he’s got some time on his hands? Their absence speaks volumes. (I think Alondra Nelson at the White House Office of Science and Technology is on the side of the angels, but for that very reason she has no influence.)

* * *

On anecdotes:

* * *

“One of Long COVID’s Worst Symptoms Is Also Its Most Misunderstood” [Ed Yong, The Atlantic]. “And despite its nebulous name, brain fog is not an umbrella term for every possible mental problem. At its core, Hellmuth said, it is almost always a disorder of “executive function”—the set of mental abilities that includes focusing attention, holding information in mind, and blocking out distractions. These skills are so foundational that when they crumble, much of a person’s cognitive edifice collapses. Anything involving concentration, multitasking, and planning—that is, almost everything important—becomes absurdly arduous. “It raises what are unconscious processes for healthy people to the level of conscious decision making,” Fiona Robertson, a writer based in Aberdeen, Scotland, told me…. Angela Meriquez Vázquez told me it once took her two hours to schedule a meeting over email: She’d check her calendar, but the information would slip in the second it took to bring up her inbox. At her worst, she couldn’t unload a dishwasher, because identifying an object, remembering where it should go, and putting it there was too complicated.” • As I have pointed out, this “loss of executive function” is what a significant portion of our elite will suffer as they continue to attend superspreader events. Their staff will cover for them. and the press won’t report it.

* * *

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:

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 ~65,170. Today, it’s ~72,500 and 72,500 * 6 = a Biden line at 435,000. (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.

Lambert here: The fall in case count looks impressive enough. What the Fauci Line shows, however, is that we have at last achieved the level of the initial peak, when New York was storing the bodies in refrigerator trucks. So the endzone celebrations are, to my mind, premature. Not that anyone will throw a flag. Of course, the real story is in the charts for California and the South. See below.

Regional case count for four weeks:

Modest uptick.

The South:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

Doing pretty well!

The West:


Wastewater data (CDC), September 6:

As a check, here’s national Biodata. All regions except for the West are up:

And MWRA data, ditto:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 9:



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.)

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 9:

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

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 9:

First time in a long time I’ve seen only green. I do wonder if there’s a Labor Day effect, though; not just on the data side, but people thinking “I’m not gonna miss the family barbecue for a little ol’ cough.” So let’s see if this persists.

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 27:

Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.

Variant data, national (CDC), August 20 (Nowcast off):

Still no sign of BA.2.75. I looked at all the regions, too.

BA.2.75 in Ontario and Quebec, Canada:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Lambert here: We are seeing a drop in the death count. That suggests to me that a drop in the case count is real. (I don’t say “the” case count, because the cases we count are a fraction of the real number. It is interesting, though, that the deaths per 100,000 curve — with its curious recent flattening — has more or less the same shape as the case curve, suggesting that a “Biden Curve” would have more or less the same shape as the case count curve, as opposed to the straight line I am drawing for the current level.)

Total: 1,074,787 – 1,074,171 = 616 (616 * 365 = 224,840, which is 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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

The Bezzle:

Yeah, where are the web3 bros? It’s gone quiet suddenly.

The Bezzle: “‘Scary easy. Sketchy as hell.’: How startups are pushing Adderall on TikTok” [Vox]. • Ugh, but hard to get excited about TikTok after what Big Pharma and the school systems have alread done.

Tech: “Google’s ‘Rest and Vest’ Days for Senior Employees Are Over, Says the CEO. It’s a Brilliant Idea” [Inc.]. “With looming recessions and inflationary pressures, there’s growing concern of slower growth and fiercer competition. At the conference, Pichai talked about TikTok and other entrants in the Chinese market. Things that they didn’t have to think about two years ago are suddenly becoming real issues for the big guns. There will be a number of solutions put in place to find efficiencies and weather this economic downtown. One of the approaches just may be a concerted effort in uncovering the resters-and-vesters and calling them out. Or getting rid of them altogether.” • If you think Google sucks now, just wait ’til the coders don’t get free lunches and massages any more.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 44 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 42 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 12 at 1:28 PM EDT. Whatever else Ukraine’s Kharkiv offensive moved, Mr. Market was not one of them.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Civil Rights. “The lack of negative activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.). Finally, climate. I like “maxium,” because it menas a human is reallly doing this.

The 420

“Inside Europe’s largest cannabis manufacturing facility” [Sifted]. “As the biggest manufacturing facility on the continent, and a first mover, Sassano says that Somai will be generating €7m in sales in 2023, with that figure doubling in 2024 and climbing to €35m in 2025. He says that profitability should be achievable for the company by the end of next year. The company’s already raised €22m in funding from a mix of private equity funds, family offices and angel investors, and Sassano says that he’ll be looking for banking partnerships to fund things like clinical trials and product registrations in different markets.” • Not without any power, though.

Book Nook

Wow, this is great!

The Gallery

I’m having a flashback:

A more relaxing stimulant:

An even more relaxing stimulant:

Our Famously Free Press

Errors that would be shocking in an undergraduate paper:

And correct:

Zeitgeist Watch

“A Theory of Vibe” [Glass Bead]. “What gives a vibe ‘authenticity’ is its ability to evoke—using a small number of disparate elements—a certain time, place and milieu; a certain nexus of historic, geographic and cultural forces.” • Well, at least “vibe shift” has a notionally theoretical substrate.

Police State Watch

Not to hard to spot, a thread:

Just doing their jobs:

Class Warfare

“Nurses go on strike at Twin Cities, Duluth area hospitals” [Star-Tribune]. “Picket signs and strike chants raised precisely at 7 a.m. outside 15 Twin Cities and Duluth area hospitals on Monday, where as many as 15,000 nurses walked off their jobs for three days in protest over pay and staffing levels…. Striking nurses said it was frustrating in the buildup to the strike last week to see break rooms decorated with flowers and motivational signs, and stocked with drinks and snacks for the replacements — little niceties they hadn’t received.” • Yeah, those hospital administrators are really on the ball, aren’t they?

Another win:

“Exclusive: Leaked Memo Reveals Kroger Executives Knew for Years That Most Workers Live in Poverty” [More Perfect Union]. “An explosive new document obtained by More Perfect Union reveals that supermarket giant Kroger has long been aware that its workers can’t afford basic necessities and struggle to survive. The internal presentation, titled ‘State of the Associate‘ and marked ‘confidential,’ warned Kroger executives in 2018 that hundreds of thousands of employees live in poverty and rely on food stamps and other public aid as a result of the company’s low pay. ‘Most employees are considered to be living in poverty and need State Aid as in food stamps, free school lunch, etc. just to get by,’ one slide warned. The presentation is peppered with quotes from unnamed employees that foretell the internal labor uprising that would come a few years later.”

“Meet the union leaders powering a wave of organizing at Amazon, Starbucks, Target, and more” [Business Insider]. • I just hope they don’t follow the path laid out by Black Lives Matter. Focusing on “leaders” (dread word) will do that.

News of the Wired

The Man from U.N.C.I.A.L.–

* * *

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 MK:

MK writes: “Backyard rose bush, mid-Willamette Valley (Oregon). Early July. Misumena vatia. Common name: goldenrod crab spider or goldenrod flower spider (they can be white or golden in color). These spiders don’t spin webs, they hunt in flowers by lying in wait. They are called crab spiders because they can skitter side-to-side as well as forwards and backwards. In the infra-red spectrum the markings on their sides mimic flower parts that help guide pollinators–so ultimate symbol manipulators, no?” Indeed!

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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. Toshiro_Mifune

    Inside Europe’s largest cannabis manufacturing facility

    From the pictures it looks like they effectively killed all the fun in growing weed.

    1. hunkerdown

      Industry takes all the fun out of production, as a general rule.

      As I understand it, the flower comes from elsewhere. This outfit turns flower into vapes and tinctures, or puts it into jars. That said, I prefer my weed a bit less processed.

  2. DJG, Reality Czar

    Lambert Strether: You centered the following paragraph.

    Yes, and then imagine the President who had the vaccines developed at “lightning speed” was Trump, and the person that squandered that advantage was Biden. I mean, no wonder they hate Trump.

    And everything after that is centered. Get out the Mergenthaler Linotype, warm up a pig, and re-cast the page, eh

  3. Wukchumni

    I speak of the Pomponius of love…

    By the way, cursive writing is quite prevalent in Cali, you see it all the time.

  4. Mark Gisleson

    Finally able to donate today. [Life without a phone or car has complicated banking (bank closed the local branch) and made financial logistics tricky (Elan doesn’t let you access your account online if you don’t have a phone to get their text-only verification code).]

    Anyone still wondering whether this site is worthy of a donation should take a look at today’s front pages of the New York Times or Washington Post, two newspapers in good standing with the Gaslighters Guild.

    Naked Capitalism is my first stop for news every morning and every afternoon. I have left graffitti in the guest bathroom (Yves keeps scrubbing it off, even the really funny ones).

    If I could only access one website, this would be the one.

    1. Bart Hansen

      The Post front page is today is all happy talk.

      Happy talk, keep talking happy talk,
      Talk about wars you’d like to win,
      You gotta have a win, if you don’t have a win,
      How you gonna start another war?

    2. digi_owl

      At some point you start to wonder if the complications are by design.

      Don’t rock the boat, or we freeze/seize your logins.

    3. Noone from Nowheresville

      text-only verification:

      I complained to the bank. Said no cellphone available. Suddenly they were able to send the security code to an email account.

  5. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the special master and Mar-a-Lago docs

    Psst. My sources have given me the inside scoop on the documents containing nuclear secrets. Here it is:

    January 20, 2009

    To all future Presidents of the United States of America:

    It’s pronounced noo-klee-ar, not noo-cue-ler, FFS.


    The White House Grammarian

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      And we can keep the nucular football in the tool cabinet, with the duck tape and masonary drill bits…

    2. Carolinian


      Funny (but not ha ha funny) how we give people like Dubya and Joe the power to destroy the planet.

  6. Jason Boxman


    For example, Robertson’s brain often loses focus mid-sentence, leading to what she jokingly calls “so-yeah syndrome”: “I forget what I’m saying, tail off, and go, ‘So, yeah …’” she said. Brain fog stopped Kristen Tjaden from driving, because she’d forget her destination en route. For more than a year, she couldn’t read, either, because making sense of a series of words had become too difficult. Angela Meriquez Vázquez told me it once took her two hours to schedule a meeting over email: She’d check her calendar, but the information would slip in the second it took to bring up her inbox. At her worst, she couldn’t unload a dishwasher, because identifying an object, remembering where it should go, and putting it there was too complicated.

    And 20 to 30 percent of patients report brain fog three months after their initial infection. It seems like having a stroke or dementia!

    So if the elite see COVID as in effect a eugenics program, it’s certainly one that comes with a cost for the elite as a class. But it’s hard to credit our elite with an abundance of foresight in the best of times, so I guess that doesn’t make this impossible as an animating purpose of letting the pandemic proceed apace.

    Few researchers know that viruses can cause cognitive disorders in younger people, so few study their effects. “As a result, no one learns about it in medical school,” Hellmuth said. And because “there’s not a lot of humility in medicine, people end up blaming patients instead of looking for answers,” she said.

    I’d never thought much about this, but it seems to me like safe air in enclosed spaces ought to be the Clean Air/Water Acts of the 21st century. By limiting airborne infections, we could save hundreds of thousands of people from acute and chronic illnesses.

    But there seems to be little movement in this area.

    1. GramSci

      Causing cognitive disorders is a big deal with NPR implying the need for massive movement. MJ causes dissatisfaction! In the womb!!

    2. Anthony G Stegman

      I like your idea. OSHA standards should be updated to include requirements for clean air free of pathogens.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that link. That is freaky that and sounds like a form of Alzheimers – but for young people. How do they deal with passwords or using an ATM? Perhaps that link should go into Links tomorrow.

  7. dave

    Everyone in Beto’s life reads and just loves the New Yorker. Everyone in his campaign staff reads and just loves the New Yorker. The ad agency Beto’s campaign hired reads and loves the New Yorker.

    What could possibly be the problem?

  8. antidlc

    I would like to nominate Governor Hochul for the NC “Sociopath of the Day” award.

    Governor Hochul lifts mask mandate in New York public transit

    “Let’s respect each other’s choices,” Hochul said. “You choose not to have a mask, that is your personal decision. You’ll do your own personal risk assessment of who you’re exposed to, your own vulnerabilities, where you work — you make your own determination — but do not judge your fellow passengers on what their choices are.”

    “People are getting back to work and they’re getting back to school, and while you’re in those places not wearing a mask, it makes sense to not worry about it on the way,” she said.

      1. JBird4049

        Nowadays, while checking for the latest follies, I sometimes get OMC’s How Bizarre running as background music in my head:

        How bizarre
        How bizarre, how bizarre
        Ooh, baby (Ooh, baby)
        It’s making me crazy (It’s making me crazy)
        Every time I look around (Look around)
        Every time I look around (Every time I look around)
        Every time I look around
        It’s in my face

        This is annoying sometimes, but it’s sure appropriate.

      2. Pat

        What does it cost to do it. She can try to distract from Covid, which is still all over NY, and appear to be serious about public health.

        The campaign to make Covid no big deal is over. Sanity and public health lost. Unless and until everyone has lost someone to it or long covid, people can ignore it like they ignore all the other rot in the system as we slip further into third world territory.

  9. GramSci

    When did “the DNC just refuse to ban dark money”. Is there some new smoking gun (not that there aren’t plenty lying around)?

  10. GramSci

    Big news on National Propaganda Radio this hour is that moms who (admitted to) smoking MJ have kids who are disappointed with Life in These United States.

    [For those of you who missed it, “Life in these United States(TM)” was a regular feature of the Reader’s Digest(R) , back when real readers needed digests.]

    1. Mikel

      A mouthpiece for the Biden administration. Another exhibit why no one should want this adminstration administering any cannabis reforms.

  11. griffen

    A legitimate and serious question to raise. There is a Weird Al biopic and it is getting released this year! This is an amazing development. I don’t care who exactly is playing him.

    He’s a damn genius, when you think of it. However, the band Devo has apparently thought the matter over and decided they hate Weird Al. I saw that on a VH1 “behind the music” years ago.

  12. GramSci

    Also just in, NPR breathlessly reports that Ukraine has taken dozens? hundreds? (reports differ) of small towns and is about to enter (and, presumably defeat) Russia!

  13. John

    Police State Watch: I have no idea what the “not hard to spot thread” might be. Are those guys supposed to be a gang? cops? dance group? rock band?

    1. WillyBgood

      Would you sell some pot to those guys? The follow up tweet that says they wear wrap sunglasses should also tip you off. Just Bro’s, right?

    2. griffen

      I am not getting what the first photo is about. Shouldn’t he be cropped into a generic T shirt circa 1984 that is matched to his boombox stereo? Maybe a polo with a gator on it would suffice, in a crunch.

      Maybe he left the polo shirt in his circa 1984 Honda Civic. Along with his 1984 Chuck Taylors.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        They must have gotten off early from beating up Teamsters to do a second shift “protecting” us from the evils of marijuana.

        Oh and while these guys are putting people in prison for selling weed, the state of Arizona is Our Daddy, baby.

        The Arizona Dispensaries Association announced how much state tax revenue was generated by marijuana sales. Arizona legalized marijuana in November, 2020. The cannabis industry is now expected to bring in $1.5 billion in tax revenue for 2021,

  14. Lunker Walleye


    That pink! That coral! Those off-whites! The quality of color and light is inspiring and makes me want to get out the pastels. I love to photograph flowers in my living room this time of year when the light comes in through western windows creating an intensity and a “spiritual moment”, not unlike the effect of high key colors in this painting. His interiors are fantastic. Vermeer: fabulous and altogether a different trip — more settled and quiet (low key). It’s another type of color sophistication with beautiful rendering of light and form.

    1. lambert strether

      > I love to photograph flowers in my living room this time of year when the light comes in through western windows creating an intensity and a “spiritual moment”, not unlike the effect of high key colors in this painting

      Please send some of your photos for the daily plant!

  15. griffen

    Rapture Index thought, come on 190. We just gotta hit a new record on the Index! In fact, it might time really well for this week given the infamous September remembrance on the 14th.

    That was the day Lehman Brothers died in 2008. Ok, so a corporation never really dies they just go whoosh into bankruptcy. The investing world’s beating heart at Broad and Wall began to hit new depths of just how far, how fast and how low we were going to go.

    1. Screwball

      I will never forget that day. I was really into the market at that time and was watching everything like a hawk. I had a dead end job due to politics in the workplace and was having issues with my betters anyway. I hadn’t taken a vacation in 3 years. I decided it would be much more fun to watch the upcoming mayhem than deal with a$$holes, so I took one. My Lehman moment. So I told them to stick it and walked.

      Spent the next year watching the mess and what came after it.The congressional hearings were so awful. I would get livid. Had to quit watching eventually. Wasn’t healthy. So I went back to work.

      I’m still livid over that entire spectacle.

      I don’t know if you intentionally used a period in the last sentence (and that’s OK), but I’m going to respond as if it were a question. I’m as pessimistic as I have ever been. The CPI print and market reaction will be must see stream for me. I don’t know what the market might do, short term or long, but I’m short the American people – especially those who need it most.

      1. griffen

        It was such a chaotic era and the simplest details are easily forgotten. A personal favorite, though, has to be the scribbled notes on a few pages for the initial TARP proposal. I did not vote for him but Obama held some initial promise that he might be capable to clean up the act on Wall St. Alas, not to be.

        Throw money at banks, see what grows out of it. And oh yeah, no bonus clawbacks either; we have to maintain the best and the brightest! \sarc

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I have not cut my hair since that day. It confirmed for me that the opinion I had of this system since I was 15 was correct despite all the claims of TINA, etc. My pony tail is my non-verbal way of saying, “Capitalism sucks!”

  16. ChrisRUEcon

    ‘You Believe This S–t?’

    I do … that $Jo3yHatesHill said it, that is.

    … and we’ll never know for sure about #BidenVsTrump2016, but that he beat Trump by hanging on to far less sturdy coat-tails probably bears testament in the affirmative. Hill was a horrible, horrible candidate.


    1. Pat

      Joe might have won, but all indications from previous campaigns were that Joe only plays well for a limited audience. Being in his basement and not out in public helped rather than hindered him. Much as he was not incompetent enough to have thought he could win the presidency without campaigning in the rust belt, there is no guarantee that he wouldn’t have alienated as many voters as he might charmed. Now add this to the problem that he wouldn’t and couldn’t have rejected the TPP, which was also a losing position in those states, there are no guarantees.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > … he wouldn’t and couldn’t have rejected the TPP

        I dunno … Hill did (via BusinessInsider)

        “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both say they oppose TPP. It’s one of the few issues on which they are in agreement. Notably, both oppose the deal at a time when protectionism has grown quite popular stateside as American workers continue to worry about losing jobs to other countries.”

        Remember, Democrats are not averse to being mendacious on the campaign trail, yeah? They’ll promise the world.

        I’ll also quote Lambert from his excellent article on Biden’s Philadelphia Exorcism (via NC): “… elections are won at the margin.” I would flip that for Hill who lost at at the margin. Chances are Joe might very well have had what she lacked, which is to ability create just enough of a fissure in erstwhile GOP/Trump voters where it mattered most.

        1. Pat

          This is one case where Hill might have been the more believable. Joe had been helping to sell the TPP. While she had the problem of being for it before she was against it, she also wasn’t attached to it like he was.

          We’ll never know. Hated as she was, Hillary lost because of arrogance, incompetence and laziness. Arguably an even worse campaigner than Hillary, Joe wasn’t arrogant enough to ignore electoral college math because his opponent was a reality star. But he was even more of an insider than Hillary was, he was also part of an administration that had been elected for hope and change that provided little change for good, a lot of the winners still win even when they should lose and go to jail, and an administration that destroyed a lot of hope. Think of it this way, more people still voted for Donald Trump in 2020 than voted for him in 2016. Joe won because people who didn’t vote in 2016 came out to vote against him. Do you think they would have done that in 2016 for the ultimate insider, especially when despite the massive media coverage no one gave Trump a chance? I don’t know.

          But I also admit I still can’t believe anyone with half a brain could vote for Joe, Hillary or Donald, Each and every one of them should have come in behind third parties and write ins like Mickey Mouse.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            Excellent arguments all around. I wish we had some … kind of … hot tub time machine … :)

            Appreciate the responses.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      Pied Piper: The Remix(es)

      Lambert > I wonder if the DNC gives money to Putin? The same logic would seem to apply.

      Exactly this. In Dem primaries, and in the general, those of us on the left were constantly told that not supporting #VBNMW (Vote Blue No Matter Who) candidates was tantamount to being Russian assets. Guess it doesn’t apply to GOP Primaries.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        I emailed Kunstler’s Monday post to a liberal friend and he responded by asking if James Howard Kunstler was on Putin’s payroll!

    3. ChrisRUEcon

      “By Vax Alone …”

      Of course no Bidens present for the “historic” moment! Wouldn’t want to telegraph that anything more than a non-sterilizing vaccine was necessary to protect oneself from the horrors of COVID infection. By the way, I neglected to post this last week, but Jha is seriously aiming to take another Sociopath Of The Day crown.

      Here is his deleterious seven tweet thread from September 6th (via Twitter).

      It begins deceptively enough with: “How do we stay safe and healthy with COVID around? As summer draws to a close and we head into the fall and winter [T]his has been on my mind”

      He basically tweets solely about the vaccine – repeatedly. Nothing on ventilation. Nothing on masking. Nothing on nasal interventions. Nothing. Else.

      How the familyblog did we get here?! #FFS

  17. molon labe

    Regarding the Vermeer: If you haven’t seen it, watch Tim’s Vermeer–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPL7D0Ha1kQ It is a stunning documentary of Vermeer’s understanding and use of optics.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Democratic Party spent $44 million to promote pro-Trump fascists in Republican primaries”

    ‘The cynical calculation behind this strategy is that in the targeted states, Trump clones will be easier to beat in the November general election than less extreme Republican primary contestants.’

    Isn’t that the strategy that Hillary used in 2016 – but with Trump himself? I wonder if any Democrat funds went to help support his nomination back then?

  19. Carolinian

    Diana Johnstone on the new German militancy toward Russia. Faint strains of the Horst Wessel song being heard in the distance?

    While German anti-Russian revanchism may have taken a couple of generations to assert itself, there were a number of smaller, more obscure revanchisms that flourished at the end of the European war that were incorporated into United States Cold War operations. Those little revanchisms were not subjected to the denazification gestures or Holocaust guilt imposed on Germany. Rather, they were welcomed by the C.I.A., Radio Free Europe and Congressional committees for their fervent anticommunism. They were strengthened politically in the United States by anticommunist diasporas from Eastern Europe.[…]

    Incited by Western powers, Poland, Lithuania and the Habsburg Empire, the key to Ukrainian nationalism was that it was Western, and thus superior. Since Ukrainians and Russians stem from the same population, pro-Western Ukrainian ultra-nationalism was built on imaginary myths of racial differences: Ukrainians were the true Western whatever-it-was, whereas Russians were mixed with “Mongols” and thus an inferior race. Banderist Ukrainian nationalists have openly called for elimination of Russians as such, as inferior beings.

    So long as the Soviet Union existed, Ukrainian racial hatred of Russians had anticommunism as its cover, and Western intelligence agencies could support them on the “pure” ideological grounds of the fight against Bolshevism and Communism. But now that Russia is no longer ruled by communists, the mask has fallen, and the racist nature of Ukrainian ultra-nationalism is visible – for all who want to see it.

    However, Western leaders and media are determined not to notice.



    1. Lex

      Thanks for the link. I think it was Zhukov who said, “we’ve liberated them from fascism and they’ll never forgive us.” That may partially be because WWII is the rare history written by the loser. Nearly all of the standard historical texts on the “eastern front” were developed from German archival and participant sources.

      My only quibble with the link being the history of Galitsia, IIRC it was never a part of Russia or the USSR until 1939. It wasn’t soviet territory during the famine and the original Ukrainian nationalists were fighting against Polish rule. Though its history as a crossroads of imperial shenanigans is long and rich.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Nearly all of the standard historical texts on the “eastern front” were developed from German archival and participant sources.

        Most of the Wehrmacht archives in the eastern front were captured by Soviets and stored in closed (or hard to access) archives. Thus it was easy for the German generals to write their memoirs without being hindered by fact checking.

        In the 90’s, when the Russian archives opened, there was a rush of researchers to go an dig in. And it came out the generals had been very economical with the truth.

  20. Tom Stone

    Read the “Podesta Emails”, they go into quite a bit of detail about how the Clinton campaign’s “Friends” in the media pumped up Cruz and Trump.
    Lot’s of media exposure, $1,000,000,000 for Trump is the figure I recall.
    HRC was a horrible candidate that ran the most incompetent Presidential campaign of my lifetime.
    Then the faithless electors and RUSSIA!!!

  21. Sin Fronteras

    This kind of reminds me of the infamous “3rd Period” approach the Communist Party took in Germany prior to 1933. They were angry at the Social Democrats who had crushed a communist uprising and killed Rosa Luxembourg.

    So they adopted the line that the Social Democrats were “social fascists” and conflated them with the Nazis. And occasionally joined the Nazis in strikes against the government.

    The belief was that the Nazis were just a bunch of thugish clowns who would never amount to anything. This belief was shared by the other parties and the business establishment, who thought they could control Hitler

    The analogy is not exact, but realistically the Dems should be uniting with “Responsible Republicans” like Liz Cheney and try to pull them away from Trump. Whether that would work is an open question, but funding fascist candidates seems like a loser.

    1. britzklieg

      Liz Cheney’s opposition to Trump has absolutely nothing – zero, zip – to do with being responsible.

      Tu nombre -“sin fronteras” – es el opuesto del credo Cheney y no hay ni una posibilidad que tu crees lo que has escrito de eso. Que tontería.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘Yeah, where are the web3 bros? It’s gone quiet suddenly.’

    ‘It’s quiet.’

    ‘Yeah. Too quiet.’

  23. Stephen

    Democratic Party spent $44 million to promote pro-Trump fascists in Republican primaries

    Wow. Reminds me of Lenin’s idea that the first people to shoot ought to be the Social Democrats because they mitigate capitalism and therefore stave off the proletarian revolution. That then translated into shooting extreme right wingers last, or even being prepared to encourage them in the meantime. Full blown capitalism will encourage an even faster end game.

    History does rhyme.

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