2:00PM Water Cooler 9/13/2022

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Pacific Loon, North Slope, Alaska, United States.

* * *


“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

“Why we need to be talking about vaccines that offer ‘mucosal immunity'” [Axios]. “Next-generation nasal or oral vaccines could quickly boost the immune response in the very airways where COVID-19 enters the body and ultimately break our reliance on the constant development of reformulated shots to target new variants of concern. But the U.S. isn’t putting money into such products, which experts say could augment current vaccines on the market.” That’s odd. I wonder why? Note also: “Late last month, Senate Republicans sent a letter to the Biden administration calling for an Operation Warp Speed-like project for intranasal vaccines to reduce transmission, as well as pan-coronavirus approaches.” • I wish the Republicans would stop asking for my vote. And I wish the Democrats would start.

“Inhofe, Burr Urge President Biden to Create “Operation Warp Speed 2.0″ as New COVID Variants Arise” [James M. Inhofe]. The letter to Biden:

Intranasal products that reduce transmission and pan-coronavirus approaches that provide durable protection against the emergence of new variants could let us turn the page completely on COVID-19 and help other countries do the same. There are promising efforts to achieve these goals, led by American scientists, businesses and the military, but your administration has neither prioritized them nor charted a clear path for their delivery.

The team that led Operation Warp Speed has been disbanded, and the federal government is not reacting with sufficient urgency to new variants of COVID-19.

I assume Big Pharma and the hospitals are fighting “intrasal products” tooth and nail, precisely because they don’t want to “turn the page completely on COVID-19,” ka-ching. It would be nice if the Biden Administration decided to prove it wasn’t eugenicist, at least in regard to Covid, by supporting this proposal.

* * *

“Rail-Strike Deadline Carries Economic and Political Risks for Biden” [Bloomberg]. “Negotiators met through the weekend trying to reach a deal with two unions covering some 57,000 engineers and conductors — a tired-and-riled workforce that emerged from the pandemic-rattled economy. Ten other unions involved have reached tentative agreements, though such deals require ratification by members. US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with both sides last week. Pressure is building from industry groups and Republicans alike for Congress to intervene in the dispute, which the unions have been urging legislators not to do. Lawmakers have the authority to extend the deadline beyond 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 16 or impose a contract on the two sides, preventing workers from striking for a better deal. Still riding the momentum of recent legislative wins, the Biden administration can ill afford work stoppages that clog major arteries of the nation’s food and energy supplies. But neither does the president want to be seen as obstructing workers trying to win more time for their private lives. ‘In this moment where there’s so much public concern about supply chain and inflation, I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Congress to step in,’ said Sharon Block, who worked in the Obama and Biden administrations and is now executive director of Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program. ‘Certainly the best outcome is for there to be some resolution before then.'” • Nice to see full-throated support for workers from Block, there. Also, nice spin on “public concern.” Who speaks for the public? Harvard Law School?

“Railroad strike negotiations held up by battle over sick time policies” [CNBC]. “Pierce said the unions withdrew their proposal for paid sick leave and substituted their request for unpaid sick time. PEB recommendations suggested the unions withdraw their paid sick leave proposal based on the existing paid time off benefits given to employees. Union negotiators offered the rail carriers a one-page, single-sided proposal to spare employees disciplinary points if they schedule routine medical visits in advance for days they would otherwise have to work, according to Pierce. ‘You have to understand these workers are not on scheduled days. They have no scheduled days off. They work whenever they get called,’ he said. ‘We are just asking for our workers to be able to go get their medical appointment done and not have to be at work that day.'” • Well, of course workers should use vacation days to go see the doctor. Nobody wants to work anymore.

* * *

“These 97 Members of Congress Reported Trades in Companies Influenced by Their Committees” [New York Times]. About what you would expect. And it’s bipartisan. I thought this was the best sentence: “Because the Times analysis focused on committee membership, it did not address trades by the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who does not sit on legislative committees. But she and other top congressional leaders have wide influence over what legislation is considered, so any trading associated with them could still overlap with their duties.” • Oh.


* * *

* * *

NV: “‘Our best opportunity’: Republicans pose serious threat to Cortez Masto in Nevada” [NBC]. “Eight weeks before Election Day, they’re within striking distance of capturing the seat long held by the late Democratic titan Harry Reid before Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto won it in 2016. Cortez Masto may be the most endangered Democratic incumbent in this cycle, even though her party hasn’t lost a Senate race here in a decade. While Democrats still project confidence, polls show a dead heat despite massive spending by Cortez Masto and an early assault of negative ads designed to tarnish rival Adam Laxalt…. From June 15 to Aug. 25, Democratic interests backing Cortez Masto spent $20.4 million over the same weeks that GOP interests backing Laxalt spent a total of $12.2 million, according to AdImpact, an ad tracking firm. Still, she has struggled to consolidate a lead.”

PA: A pleasant change:

The backstabbing will only begin after the election….

PA: What’s in it for Fetterman?

PA: “Opinion John Fetterman needs to debate more than once for U.S. Senate” [WaPo]. • This is about the press preserving an institution that’s important to how it wields political power. I still say Fetterman should insist that the debate should be sponsored b the League of Women voters, as the debates were when they were actually debates, instead of grossly swollen arena events.

TX: “Along the Texas-Mexico border, GOP enthusiasm mounts as Democrats defect over immigration concerns” [Texas Tribune]. “Democrats nationally weren’t talking about the border issues her community was experiencing firsthand. They were critical of efforts led by Republicans like Gov. Greg Abbott to build a border wall and increase the presence of law enforcement. Democrats, Carruthers said, weren’t listening. So she switched parties. And so did many others. The county’s clerk and treasurer also became Republicans, as have most of the elected officials in county government. ‘Seeing the lack of support from the federal government has really impacted the community and they’re looking and leaning towards the Republican Party,’ Carruthers said. In 2014, the percentage of registered voters casting ballots in the Republican primary in Terrell County was 12%. By 2022, that percentage had more than doubled — with 31% of the county’s registered voters casting ballots in the GOP primary compared to 10% in the Democratic primary. It was the first time in at least eight years that Republicans voting in the Terrell County primary outnumbered Democrats.” • Sanders won these counties in 2020, IIRC. So it didn’t have to be this way.


“Trump spotted at his Virginia golf course after video of him on a flight to the DC area sparked a firestorm of speculation” [Yahoo News]. “A video of Trump departing the flight sparked rumors that the former president was set to be indicted by the Department of Justice.”

“DOJ Accepts Trump-Recommended Judge for Special Master to Vet Mar-a-Lago Documents” [Wall Street Journal]. “Raymond J. Dearie, a former chief federal judge in New York, has the qualifications to do the job of special master, prosecutors wrote in a court filing late Monday… Mr. Dearie is a former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York who also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He was also among the FISA judges who signed an order permitting electronic surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump foreign-policy aide, as part of the FBI’s investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign had ties with Russia.”

“The radical legal theory that could upend the 2024 election” [Popular Information]. “[Leonard] Leo has stepped down from his day-to-day responsibilities at the Federalist Society to pursue an even more audacious agenda. According to reports by ProPublica and the New York Times, Leo recently raised $1.6 billion for a new political advocacy group, Marble Freedom Trust. That money came from a single donor, ‘ultra-secretive Republican businessman’ Barre Seid. These funds will be available for Leo to pursue his latest initiative: an effort to give state legislatures unfettered authority over federal elections. It is a fringe legal argument advanced by Donald Trump’s lawyers in their effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. If adopted by the federal courts, it could throw 2024 and future elections into chaos. But it is being taken very seriously by Leo and several of his allies on the Supreme Court. Leo has stepped down from his day-to-day responsibilities at the Federalist Society to pursue an even more audacious agenda. According to reports by ProPublica and the New York Times, Leo recently raised $1.6 billion for a new political advocacy group, Marble Freedom Trust. That money came from a single donor, “ultra-secretive Republican businessman” Barre Seid. These funds will be available for Leo to pursue his latest initiative: an effort to give state legislatures unfettered authority over federal elections. It is a fringe legal argument advanced by Donald Trump’s lawyers in their effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. If adopted by the federal courts, it could throw 2024 and future elections into chaos. But it is being taken very seriously by Leo and several of his allies on the Supreme Court.” • Sounds like when Dick Cheney decided the Vice Presidency was a Fourth Branch of government.

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 tensions rise to surface in sprint to midterm elections” [The Hill]. “If Schumer goes through with his plan and tacks permitting reform [part of a deal he cut with Manchin] onto the continuing resolution, and if that stopgap passes through the Senate, progressives in the House would be faced with a tough decision: vote ‘no’ and potentially trigger a government shutdown, or ignore misgivings about the legislation and vote ‘yes.’ Schumer could, however, play one more hand that would effectively force his colleagues on the left to support the measure despite their doubts: add a bill protecting marriage equality on the federal level to the continuing resolution.” • Marriage equality but not abortion. That’s clarifying. I mean, why not both? Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lee County GOP to consider branding WHO as terrorists and barring IRS and FBI agents” [Florida Politics]. “Lee County Republicans this week will consider resolutions demanding Florida outlaw electronic voting machines and federal agents. They will also consider whether to declare the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Economic Forum (WEF) as terrorist organizations.” • Damn Republicans asking for my vote again. Granted, the reasoning by which they reached those policy recommendations may not be my own.


Wait. You’re telling me “personal risk assessment” is a death trap?

* * *

* * *

First example I’ve seen of something that should be everywhere:

Not just for this pandemic, but the next one. And there will be a next one.

* * *

• Maskstravaganza:

That whole “respect their choice” thing for anti-maskers drives me up the wall, because this is what it leads to. Spitting on a public sidewalk is illegal, but breathing a pathogenic virus into other people’s air is not. I’m convinced — because this is the stupidest timeline — that if we could see the virus, none of this would be happening.

* * *

Yet another CDC dereliction:

* * *

‘Tis a mystery!

* * *

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.

* * *

A lot of modest upticks right now: Case counts, positivity, wastewater, deaths. Schools are open and it’s after Labor Day, so….

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 ~72,500. Today, it’s ~79,500 and 79,500 * 6 = a Biden line at 477,000. (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:

The South:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

The West:


Wastewater data (CDC), September 9:


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.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), August 20 (Nowcast off):

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

• Here is a chart of BA.2.75 from Raj Rajnarayanan:

Not very many cases; no wonder they don’t show up in the national or regional stats. But BA.2.75 is here.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Lambert here: It is interesting 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: 1,076,053 – 1,074,787 = 1266 (1266 * 365 = 462,090, 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.

• Here is a total deaths and cases chart from Raj Rajnarayanan:

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US eased for a second straight month to 8.3% in August of 2022, the lowest in 4 months, from 8.5% in July but above market forecasts of 8.1%. The energy index increased 23.8%, below 32.9% in July. Smaller increases were reported for gasoline costs (25.6% vs 44%) and fuel oil (68.8% vs 75.6%) while inflation sped up for natural gas (33% vs 30.5%) and electricity (15.8%, the highest since August 1981). On the other hand, inflation rose for food (11.4%, the most since 1979), shelter (6.2%, the most since 1984), and used cars and trucks (7.8%). Compared to the previous month, consumer prices were up 0.1%, following a flat reading in July and compared to forecasts of a 0.1% drop. Meanwhile, core CPI, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, increased 6.3% on a year, the most since March, and up markedly from 5.9% hit in both June and July.”

Sentiment: “United States Nfib Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States increased for a second month to 91.8 in August of 2022 from 89.9 in July, with falling energy and specially gas prices offering companies some relief.” • In time for the midterms?

Sentiment: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US rose to 44.7 in September of 2022 from 38.1 in August. Despite gaining ground, the index remained in negative territory for the 13th consecutive month.”

* * *

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.

The Bezzle: “Truly autonomous cars may be impossible without helpful human touch” [Reuters]. “Autonomous vehicle (AV) startups have raised tens of billions of dollars based on promises [grifters gotta grift] to develop truly self-driving cars, but industry executives and experts say remote human supervisors may be needed permanently to help robot drivers in trouble. The central premise of autonomous vehicles – that computers and artificial intelligence will dramatically reduce accidents caused by human error – has driven much of the research and investment. But there is a catch: Making robot cars that can drive more safely than people is immensely tough because self-driving software systems simply lack humans’ ability to predict and assess risk quickly, especially when encountering unexpected incidents or ‘edge cases.’ ‘Well, my question would be, ‘Why?’ said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, a unit of General Motors (GM.N), when asked if he could see a point where remote human overseers should be removed from operations.” • Why? Because Silicon Valley squillionaires want to do that for all operations generally (except for their security teams, servants, and service providers).

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 44 Fear (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 13 at 1:42 PM EDT.

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 Gallery

Still life (1):

Still life (2):

You can see Cubism sorta sneaking up behind Cezanne, here.

Still life (3):


Seems like rather a lot:

Guillotine Watch

Opportunity knocks:

Class Warfare

Morale booster:

“Starbucks adds benefits for non-union U.S. workers ahead of investor day” [Reuters]. “Starbucks announced new student loan repayment tools and a savings account program for all U.S. employees who are not union members, the company said on Monday, amid a growing union drive and soaring demand for coffee. The move comes ahead of the chain’s annual Investor Day on Tuesday, when Wall Street expects it to lay out next year’s growth prospects. Boosting benefits to non-unionized workers while saying that unionized cafes must first bargain for those same benefits may be slowing the pace of union organizing. The company has lifted hourly U.S. pay for non-unionized cafe workers to an average of nearly $17 as of Aug. 1. ‘We believe the recent wage hikes… are having an adverse effect on the labor unions, with the number of stores filing for a vote declining to the lowest level all year in August,’ BTIG analyst Peter Saleh wrote in an Aug. 31 note.” • Is that even legal?

“The Political Tradition of Republicanism Should Be a Touchstone for Democratic Socialists” [Jacobin]. “What is freedom? How does it relate to equality?… The third approach is the one closest to republicans’ hearts. It stresses that freedom is not just individual but social and irrevocably political. To be free is to have a meaningful say in determining the structures and laws that govern us. It is to live without being subject to the whims of arbitrary power, whether public (a despotic state) or private (an autocratic workplace or household). Like the substantive approach, contemporary republicans engage directly with questions of equality and power, since they shape how much social freedom people actually have. Take the United States: if research by scholars like Martin Gilens is correct, the average citizen possesses almost no meaningful social freedom at the national level, while the very rich enjoy a great deal. The concept of social freedom has deep historical roots. Ancient Greek societies saw freedom as inextricably linked to citizenship and political participation: citizenship gave people a strong voice in the governance of the city, which both prevented the appearance of a tyrannical ruling class and instilled in citizens the civic virtue needed to ward off domination by imperial powers. To possess civic virtue was to be politically minded, public-spirited, and to regard one’s individual freedom as bound up with the freedom of other citizens. This Grecian view of social freedom as the linchpin of liberty was a key feature of ancient Roman republicanism, too. The Latin res publica, or public space, is the root of the modern term “republic.'” • Interesting. I do think that the famous title of Federalist #51, “The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments,” is one that, say, the Bolsheviks might have given some consideration too. Granted, they had a lot on their plate.

News of the Wired

“They wanted their drought-tolerant yard to spark conversations. But not on Nextdoor” [Los Angeles Times]. The story is not as grim is that, although the home-owners had to go through a permitting process for their swale. But this: “Most striking is how a front yard that started as a family affair ended up as a bridge to connect with others. ‘Last week, when I was weeding outside, a woman I’ve never met before stopped to tell me that our garden brings her joy,’ Susan says with a smile.” • The same thing has happened to me, too!

“Night Terrors How TikTok has supercharged the age-old debate over sleep training” [New York Magazine]. The whole piece is cranky and exasperated. Then, at the very end: ”

Lee and his wife didn’t follow any baby-sleep social media. They sleep-trained, and they tracked their first son’s progress using an app. There was so much data. Lee wanted to document this time in some way — “lots of late nights and early mornings together” — so his son would know it had been important. But what was he going to do, show him a screenshot? He decided to knit a blanket: “When you graph out all that data, it’s in a rectangle. A blanket could represent that data in a way that you can sort of read.”

The resulting “Sleep Blanket” is gray and blue. (Lee later made one for his daughter in gray and purple.) It is a visualization of his son’s sleep from birth to age 1. Each row represents one day. Each stitch represents six minutes of time, awake (gray) or asleep (blue). You “read” the blanket from left to right, top to bottom. At first, the awake and asleep patches are completely random — showing the normal sleep pattern of a newborn who does not know day from night. Over time, the gray and blue sections consolidate. Row by row, you can see Lee’s son go from random naps, to three regular naps, to two regular naps and 12 hours at night. It is a commemoration of a baby learning to sleep. The finished blanket, which his son cuddles up under every night, consists of 185,000 stitches.

What a lovely idea!

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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 Re Silc:

Re Silc writes: “Elderberries. Bumper crop!”

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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. ambrit

        TANSTAAFL. It’s either an opera by Nietzsche, or the Dutch Reform Church’s Air Force Ministry.
        [I have often wondered why certain libertarian science fiction writers fell so much in love with acronyms.]

        1. dk

          At least the longer ones have fewer ambiguations, usually, YMMVyour mileage may vary.

          I associate heavy use of acronyms with in-group formation and passive exclusion.

  1. e.bowman

    Wha……? Am i reading an un-edited first draft or is Microsoft stirring things up? Whew…I’ll try again later.

      1. semper loquitur

        Ah, sorry for the repeat. When things totally collapse for Z, maybe he can join up with Stelter at Harvard. Two defenders of democracy together at last.

        1. John k

          Nah, he’s a well-known pianist. Did I spell that right? Can always get big bucks there. Maybe schlep up to Carnegie hall after moving to Florida…

    1. griffen

      Jaws. All due respect to the departed and very tall goon in various Bond movies. Dude bit into a shark! Those films with Moore in the 70s were so cheesy but fun to a young boy.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Fun to a young boy. Yep. But not good enough to be fun as an adult. I tried, but they are awful. Austin Powers is a better Roger Moore Bond movie than those movies. When you ignore the incessant austin powers impressions, of course.

        They aren’t as disappointing as MASH.

        1. griffen

          I was posting in a hurry so didn’t properly cite the actor. Richard Kiel was the actor in the role I mentioned above. He also had a pretty funny take in the golf movie from Adam Sandler, Happy Gilmore.

          And as for the Bond films and comparison to Austin Powers. Oh behave.

    2. Bugs

      In a just world, Bond would hijack the bus and take them all to a prison island, where they would lure their oligarch sponsors to a final showdown with the forces of decency. In the epilogue, the people of the world unite under a the authority of a workers cooperative government and decree world peace (closing theme plays). I know, not an exciting plot, but one can dream.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Hill’n’Billy’s Haitian Ministry for the Poor and the About to be Poorer?

        Best known to Special Branch as Dr. Hill No.

  2. Mikel

    Tech: “Google’s ‘Rest and Vest’ Days for Senior Employees Are Over, Says the CEO. It’s a Brilliant Idea” [Inc.].

    Somebody’s mad that they don’t have the robot workers they were promised.
    Get to work, you engineers!

    You guys can give the PR teams a rest…please….

    1. Questa Nota

      Rest and vest, so nap and then go be a greeter at Wal-Mart.
      Wait, what, even that option is gone?
      Some golden years.

      1. Wukchumni

        er, Wal*Mart stopped having greeters like around the turn of the century.

        It’s all about exiters who make sure you paid for the stuff in your shopping cart, but there are perks in that an exiter might just have the best chance at not being automated out of a job there, as there’s a lot of things to do in looking over the purchases in a cart and then signalling their ok, by going over the receipt with a yellow marker pen, and releasing you on your own recognizance.

  3. mrsyk

    “Still Life with a Lobster”, yum. Check out those table linens. How did he paint that? Amazing, thanks.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks! I wondered what it looked like. I will send a copy of the image to my daughter and a friend whose daughter had endless problems with colic.

    1. Wukchumni

      Let’s go

      Joe walks warily down the street
      With expectations pulled way down low
      Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet
      The short bus is ready to go
      Are you ready hey are you ready for this?
      Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?
      Out of the doorway MI-5 follows
      To the sound of the beat yeah

      Another one bites the dust
      Another one bites the dust
      And another one gone and another one gone
      Another one rides the bus
      Hey It’s gonna get you too
      Another one bites the dust

      How do you think the world is going to get along
      Without her now she’s gone
      She gave it all that she had
      And now Charles in charge can call it all his own
      Are you happy are you satisfied?
      How long can you stand the heat
      Out of the doorway other mourners walk on
      To the sound of the beat look out

      Another one bites the dust
      Another one bites the dust
      And another one gone and another one gone
      Another one rides the bus
      Hey It’s gonna get you too
      Another one bites the dust


      Oh take it – Bite the dust bite the dust
      Hey another one bites the dust
      Another one bites the dust ow
      Another one bites the dust he he
      Another one bites the dust haaaa
      Ooh everybody ride the bus


      1. nippersdad

        Wow! Both well done and fast!

        I tried one with Turn Turn Turn and got to the third verse before I found I was not family blog ready. You done good.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Perhaps a CD with performances of the best songs from NakedCapitalism might make a nice contributions bonus, or sales of the CD could create a subsidiary income to support NakedCapitalism.
      [DISCLAIMER: I know nothing about current copyright laws, nor about the most recent legal precedents regarding fair use and I know even less about obtaining the right to perform and use copyright protected song melodies.]

      1. Mikel

        And you have to keep in mind that some of the faves being used, like Simon and Garfunkel, have been selling the publishing/catalogs to the big corporations.
        Paul Simon and Sony may not have the same sense of humor.

    3. Sardonia

      I just woke up – I’ll see if I can do one for tomorrow’s links. First tune that comes to mind is the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.

      Now that I think of it, there could be a whole 8-episode Netflix show written about that bus getting lost and all of the world’s leaders being stranded together on a remote island in the North Sea.

      1. nippersdad

        “…and all of the world’s leaders being stranded together on a remote island in the North Sea.”

        PLEASE make it Azkaban! The whole Gilligan’s Island thing works on so many levels. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I’d give them two hours before they start resorting to cannibalism. When asked why, they said that they got hungry.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’d expect Joe to suddenly be in charge as a bulwark of capitalism and create a coconut exchange on the island, going long. Pigmentation could play a role in whose for dinner.

          1. Sardonia

            I think Joe would be the first one eaten. The new “rules-based order” would be the OLD “rules-based order” – the strong eat the weak. Joe is pretty frail.

            If Liz Truss happens to be on that bus, Joe has a chance to avoid being first. And if Angela Merkel was still in power, I’d actually give her a chance to be Last Man/Woman standing.

            1. Wukchumni

              Not so sure the elder statesmen will be on course…

              There’s a cabin owner in Mineral King who was born a few weeks premature there in 1938, he’s got quite deep roots and stories.

              I asked him about bears, and he related that young bear meat tastes good, but old bear meat is awful. He also told me that a skinned bear’s paws look an awful lot like human hands and the rest of body is quite similar to a human.


              1. Sardonia

                “young bear meat tastes good, but old bear meat is awful”

                In other words, instead of eating each other, they’ll organize an expedition to go find Lolita’s Island.

              2. LifelongLib

                Somebody has a theory that bears walking upright may be a source of bigfoot sightings. I saw some YouTube video purporting to be of a bear doing this but I have no idea if it’s a real thing.

    1. Late Introvert

      I’m experiencing a strange mix of emotions – like joy or something, at their shame. I wish there was a word in English.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Warnock is put there hustling. I imagine it’s not Biden as much as being too aligned with Team Blue strategerists. So many are just awful. Abrams needs to be the topic of pieces where the reporter gripes about not being to get to her bc she’s talking to hillbillies while the staff is doing voter registration. Republicans should be fuming about former felons are voting for her. Sorry I’m being cynical.

      Not enough work has gone into Georgia due to Obama and Hillary’s stewardship of the party. But Abrams should be out there kicking a and taking names in regards to her record.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes that too according to Gray. Abrams started listening to the Democrat party consultant types and is now running a less inclusive campaign focused on anti-stop the steal crap, registering black voters instead of any likely Dem voter, and IdPol, rather than on economic issues that affect everyone as she did in her last campaign, and it’s costing her.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Well I think registering primarily black voters is fine, but my gut is it’s performative by Karens, not getting out there and hustling. It’s hard work to do right.

          It’s just that it’s not the same as watching an episode of cnns crossfire but standing outside of a Walmart asking people of they voted in 90 degree weather and 90% humidity I’d they voted.

  4. Pat

    I have a weird mind. Perhaps the Windsors are really not interested in hanging out with various politicians attempting to use their mother for their own reasons. They cannot keep the British Parliament out of it, but how do you discourage entitled twits from other countries? Why by making it clear they are not valued guests or extraordinary or worthy of special. Make them all ride a bus. It can be a nice bus, but it is still a bus where you are shoulder to shoulder to all the other not special guests.

    It probably isn’t, but I really really hope it is.

    1. The Rev Kev

      How many of them have traveled by bus previously? No, seriously. I was working at a Swiss ski resort and due to snow conditions, we all had to be transported by bus back to the resort. There was this middle-aged English guy on the bus and he told his companion that it was a novelty as he had never been on a bus before in his life. It was then that I realized that people like him and I led very different lives.

      1. Wukchumni

        The last bus I was on was a Greyhound leaving downtown LA on a 1-way trip up to the east side of the Sierra Nevada for a backpack trip in 1992. The Landers earthquake (7.3) had occurred the day before, and as the bus pulled out of the station, one of the 2 gents seated in front of me told his seatmate ‘last earthquake, I was in the joint’, and said seatmate exclaimed ‘me too’

        1. Jeff V

          My favourite bus trip is the “round the island” route of St Marys, the largest of the Scilly islands.

          It takes half an hour, and the buses run every hour. I’ve often wondered what the bus driver does for all the other half hours.

  5. Amfortas the hippie

    re: jacobin and matt mcmanus.
    i like him a lot.
    ive been following his work for a number of years, now…beginning at areo.
    a neitszchean, no less.

    people are usually shocked to learn that i…a radical hedonist crazy person…am likely the most “conservative”(small c) person they know as regards adopting new tech, or financial concerns…let alone my long termism in designing the infrastructure out here.
    i’m also the most small r republican…in the sense, as here, of jefferson, madison, cicero, etc.
    of course, i’m also a socialist,lol.
    people dont have the language for all this any more…if they ever truly did.
    maybe my grandparents’ generation(depression, ww2) did…but it is not present in most of the places i’ve been in my life.
    i have to give a class…right there in the frelling feedstore parking lot…to ensure that folks dont take what i say, filter it through their idiotic(greek for nonpolitically involved/politically ignorant) and siloed zeitgeists, and think i’m a trumper or something(i am not…save for the monkey wrench aspect)
    anyhoo, mcmanus has a standing invite to the wilderness bar.

  6. Carla

    From The Hill:

    “Schumer could, however, play one more hand that would effectively force his colleagues on the left to support the measure despite their doubts: add a bill protecting marriage equality on the federal level to the continuing resolution.”

    Lambert comments:
    “Marriage equality but not abortion. That’s clarifying. I mean, why not both?”

    Because gay people’s rights are more important to Democrats than women’s rights? I mean, now that we have “pregnant people” and “chest-feeding,” women have been pretty much erased from Dem discourse. Over a century of actual progress for women ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The dandy senator Graham is pushing an abortion plan today. He wants to bring out presidential only voters, and Team Blue will respond by doing nothing. But them again Team Blue tolerated Hillary for long when she clearly will dump on women’s issues if she thinks there is a short term gain.

      1. Carolinian

        You force me to check the local leaflet for Lindsey news

        WASHINGTON – Sen. Lindsey Graham is introducing a national abortion ban that would prohibit the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy and provide a Republican response to a politically charged issue that could be galvanizing for Democrats this fall.

        So it’s not a total ban and more liberal than SC’s own 6 week limit (in the courts) with a total SC ban now flopping in our lege. Graham claims the 19 weeks is no more strict than some European countries which apparently is true.

    2. mrsyk

      Oh, it’s perfectly clear. Abortion rights are an effective multi-edged elections tool that gay rights will never be. It’s the ultimate “vote for the lesser evil” flag issue. Fund raising, getting out the vote, and its a lens to focus on potential SCOTUS nominees effectively blinding out say pro-corporate globalist anti-union leanings. This is also good for promoting otherwise awful candidates. Why would anyone of the political class whisk that all away with a blink of codification?

      1. mrsyk

        Heck, if Trump had pushed through abortion legalizing legislation, he would have cemented an era of republican rule. What would the Dems run on? Moor Warz! Not Trump! Puhleeze! (I like the third platform the best.)

  7. Jason Boxman

    I’m convinced — because this is the stupidest timeline — that if we could see the virus, none of this would be happening.

    Heh, I’ve been wondering for years if we can’t modify the virus so that it glows under UV light or something, so we can actually see it. But given the timeline, this would probably somehow make the virus deadlier or otherwise lead to worse outcomes. Plus, there’s the whole morality surrounding intentionally infecting people with an engineered strain, and it would need to also become the dominant strain. There be dragons here, for sure.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I hope this is not a replicant of an early attempt to enter a comment.
      There is no need to modify the virus that circulates in the wild to make it visible. You can modify the virus as you please within the confines of a sample to aid detection.

      I have also wondered why an invasive, often painful, and almost always uncomfortable nasal swab was used to collect a sample to test for the Corona virus. I believe virus populations could be obtained elsewhere — saliva comes to mind — and has been “mentioned”.

      A technique called fluorescent tagging is a commonly used tool for investigating the submicroscopic world. If you want to detect Corona viruses in a sample, why not build a molecule that binds specifically to Corona viruses and attach a fluorescent tag? A team at U.C.Berkeley used that idea: “New CRISPR-based COVID-19 test uses smartphone cameras to spot virus RNA” https://news.berkeley.edu/story_jump/new-crispr-based-covid-19-test-uses-smartphone-cameras-to-spot-virus-rna/
      I am not sure why saliva could not be used instead of a nasal swab. Instead of using CRISPR to play with RNA –as I recall — some team recommended using an antibody specific to the Corona virus, with an attached UV tag as a method for detecting Corona viruses and their prevalence, again aided by the use of the cellphone microscope idea.

      Many tools and techniques, and implementations for better, cheaper, faster Corona detection [specificity to a Corona variant is another issue — subsidiary but important] have been laying around waiting for someone to promote them — like the CDC? — but no. The situation is not unlike waiting for an effective nasal vaccine, or simple application and adherence to ancient methods of Public Health.

      I am an old guy. A simple layman who can read. There are many much more learned and qualified individuals who I hope might weigh in on your question. I am also curious, and by no means a last word on the matter.

      1. Yves Smith

        The brain stab swabs (nasopharangeal) were early on. I never had one. Always nasal which is tolerable. But yes, if you had one of those, you’d really not want to do it again.

      2. Lunker Walleye

        My S.O. and I have used several government issued “at home” tests this week. S.O. got a positive after 3 days in a row of testing. Yesterday we mailed saliva samples to our state lab. They came back negative. I questioned the results. S.O. took another at home test and got another positive. S.O.’s doc said “consider yourself positive” as of your first positive test. I’m growing most impatient.

  8. Matthew G. Saroff

    There are two reasons that Cortez Masto is threatened, first, it’s tough to beat something with nothing, even when the something sucks.

    The second problem is that the Nevada establishment has been doing its best to sabotage the state Democratic Party ever since progressives took control.

  9. Wukchumni

    I always thought calling an incredibly hot place way too far from the ocean and the smoggiest region in SoCal: the Inland Empire, was about half right but who really wanted to live out in BFE aside from dairy cows, and even with bovine intervention, certainly no empire…

    ..the Warehouse Empire

    Edgar Jaime didn’t realize that the largest Amazon warehouse in the world was being constructed across the street from his vegetable farm in Ontario, California, until the walls went up.

    Then again, Jaime can’t say he was too surprised.

    Over the past decade, once bucolic Ontario has become one of the biggest US hubs for the e-commerce industry. In addition to the 4.1m-square-foot Amazon facility under construction, three other Amazon facilities as well as a sprawl of warehouses for FedEx, Nike, and other companies stretch to the east of Jaime’s farm. Another 5.1m sq ft logistics center will soon be constructed down the road.

    Mucky fields and cattle feedlots around Jaime’s home have been paved over to make way for clean, gray box buildings and herds of 18-wheeler delivery trucks. “You can hardly smell the cow manure in the air any more,” he said.

    A 45-minute drive east of Los Angeles, Ontario now has the highest amount of warehouse space in the Inland Empire region, and one of the highest in the US. Within just a few years, the e-commerce and logistics industries have reshaped not only the town’s landscape, but also its air, its job market, its politics and its way of life.


  10. griffen

    Retirement aged white male spotted on golf course in Virginia. Rumor abounds that said male might eventually be under scrutiny since circa 2016 by the official intel agents of the MIC. His “magnificent, wonderful home” had been recently “raided!” by a team of said intel or justice agents. I apologize for confusing which 3 letter acronym / agency has this man in their crosshairs.

    Donald Trump, golf course owner and also known that he plays golf. Wow! Instead of Donald Trump, is he really a Lex Luthor instead? Like a super villain. Donald or Donny works, less well, for a villain name, perhaps.

  11. Wukchumni

    Over/Under on how much Alex Jones* will have to ante up for spreading insidious lies about Sandy Hook:

    $220 million (this in conjunction with the prior $50 million settlement will wipe him out financially)

    * I’ll admit to occasionally watching him, but only so as to get my chance to see him spontaneously combust on air, for he’s wound tighter than a 2 bit watch.

      1. Objective Ace

        Honestly — it seems a bit excessive.

        I understand the parents are upset, and rightfully so — but I’m having a hard time seeing how each set of parents received 8 million in damages from Jones’ statements. Keep in mind, Jones’ statements should not be conflated with the damages from losing their children

        Jones has admitted he was wrong and apologized to the parents, frankly — I think that goes farther to undoing any damages he caused then throwing money at the issue, whether its ten thousand or a billion dollars

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          Ummmm … Disagree

          > I understand the parents are upset

          That’s the height of understatementupset?! Have you read any of the testimony from the trial?

          Excerpt via Reuters:

          FBI agent Bill Aldenberg, described the shooting scene and death threats that families received as they prepared for burials.

          “It overwhelms your senses. It’s horrible,” he said.

          Another plaintiff, Carlee Soto Parisi, tearfully described her sister’s death at Sandy Hook and the subsequent deluge of social media posts saying that she was a crisis actor.

          Those who testified in Austin also needed security because of death threats there.

          > Jones has admitted he was wrong and apologized to the parents …

          This isn’t kindergarten … pecuniary measures are not meant to be only recompense – and yes, no amount of money is going to bring the dead children back – but they are also meant to serve as a deterrent. This is NC fundraising week, where we celebrate this family blog for (among other things) calling out the slap-on-the-wrist fines doled out to criminal finance sector entities because such fines in no way serve as deterrent. In fact they are largely priced in. If you lost your house, or a private pension, or (${DEITY} forbid) some politician said that your Social Security was cut/gone because #BanksDidSomethingBad, could you ever see yourself being satisfied with “well, the banks admitted they were wrong and apologized”?!

          I think not.

          Alex Jones should be made to pay out to the point that it’s painful for him to continue profiting off harmful lies; and further, that the threat of him being sued for doing likewise in the future is sufficient to prevent him from engaging in this type of malicious idiocy again.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      wife and i used to listen to him on the radio on the way back from austin on weed runs…circa 1996?7?
      he was just a local shock jock/art bell wannabe at the time.
      black helicopters, ruby ridge, waco, etc.
      he changed in a subtle, but noticeable way after 911.
      i always felt like he had a zapruder moment.
      (naked light bulb, the “real footage”, etc)
      if he’s on the hook for more than he’s worth, it’s worth keeping an eye on what, exactly, he’s got in the wings, story-wise.
      because he’s been instrumental in firing up the rabid right/stay behind army.(see: army field manual on counterinsurgency)
      ie: he’s been useful to PTB…why is he no longer useful?

  12. Sardonia

    Interesting paper arguing against vaccine mandates, estimating that in the 18-29 year old cohort, the odds are greater for being hospitalized from a vaccine adverse effect than they are for getting Covid itself. Authors from Johns Hopkins, UCSF, Hah-vahd, et. al.

    Students at North American universities risk disenrollment due to third dose COVID-19 vaccine mandates. We present a risk-benefit assessment of boosters in this age group and provide five ethical arguments against mandates. We estimate that 22,000 – 30,000 previously uninfected adults aged 18-29 must be boosted with an mRNA vaccine to prevent one COVID-19 hospitalisation. Using CDC and sponsor-reported adverse event data, we find that booster mandates may cause a net expected harm: per COVID-19 hospitalisation prevented in previously uninfected young adults, we anticipate 18 to 98 serious adverse events, including 1.7 to 3.0 booster-associated myocarditis cases in males, and 1,373 to 3,234 cases of grade ≥3 reactogenicity which interferes with daily activities. Given the high prevalence of post-infection immunity, this risk-benefit profile is even less favourable. University booster mandates are unethical because: 1) no formal risk-benefit assessment exists for this age group; 2) vaccine mandates may result in a net expected harm to individual young people; 3) mandates are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given the modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; 4) US mandates violate the reciprocity principle because rare serious vaccine-related harms will not be reliably compensated due to gaps in current vaccine injury schemes; and 5) mandates create wider social harms. We consider counter-arguments such as a desire for socialisation and safety and show that such arguments lack scientific and/or ethical support. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our analysis for current 2-dose CCOVIDovid-19 vaccine mandates in North America.


  13. Purvis

    Since local government ain’t doing shit for us, we decided to ignore local government. No more public meetings, no permanent library hours, so screw them.

    That means no more building permits. Have managed to erect a complete tiny house under the guise of gardening and building raised beds. If I ever get popped, “Oh, that was always there.” That is the origin of the expression “It is what it is…”

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      common roofing around here is metal…R-Panel, mostly.
      i paint all my roofs with a bunch of brown, green and tan and some black streaks…just for grins.
      because they notice such things from space, these days.
      iow, local property tax people, permitting authorities, etc., have a subscription to better satellite imagery than is available to us’n’s.
      there’s an algorithm to “notice” any differences.
      that algorithm feeds into another series of algorithms…one of which keeps inflating the “value” of my 30 year old trailerhouse.
      confront actual humans at said office, they blame the weirdness on the algorithm, and fix it…grumbling…likely because i have noticed the costly ruse…compounded on top of numerous folks who have not noticed….i’m like, “well, why do we pay for you?”…
      ‘all is vanity’, etc…and everything has been monetised, and thereby corrupted utterly.
      most people dont notice such discrepancies and shenanigans…because they are so thoroughly trained in homo oeconomicus mind.

      a related anecdote:
      when deciding how to get my wife’s pension:
      1 lump sum and done
      2. a poverty amount(1200) per month for 5 years
      3. 350 a month for the rest of my days.

      everybody…school office/pension people, banker friends, accountants, brother…all said the same thing like it was obvious: take the 350 per month.
      because…all stated…i’d suck more $ in the longest run from the system…and thereby win when i was dead.
      i took option 2…because i’ve heard of something called “Use Value”.
      they never had…save for my banker friend(read marx, in college, it turns out)
      it was all about the final account…not that 350 a month is practically nothing…and would become more nothinglike over time…
      weird…to notice such things, out there in the common mind.

      1. Hepativore

        I imagine painting your metal roof diagonal bright yellow and black “hazard stripes” would look very sharp, and perhaps it could serve as a sort of statement in the face of the general malaise in our country.

        By the way, are you still looking for walnut trees down in Texas? If so, I could always try mailing you a few seeds and getting creative with packaging to disguise them as black walnut trees grow all over the place where I live.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “The radical legal theory that could upend the 2024 election”

    ‘an effort to give state legislatures unfettered authority over federal elections’

    So to argue that, he would have to throw out the legal precedent that Federal law trumps State laws. Which means that the US would not have one legal system but eventually 50 plus legal systems. Maybe Leonard Leo could just argue for the abolishing of the US Constitution on the grounds that it is unconstitutional or something. This is what legal dark money gets you in a legal system.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      It’s not that the legal theory is valid – the problem is the 9 people who will be making the decision.

      1. John

        It’s an argument to negate the Federal government. It seems obvious to me that the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution moots this lunatic notion, but I am not a lawyer thus incapable of unbending pretzels or finding both sides of a Mobius loop.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        …while relying on Marbury vs Madison in the process.
        irony: the right just doesn’t get irony.

        and Rev…they want the Articles back..preconstitution.
        so they can have better sway in the states, and be done with all that Marbury vs Madison Primacy stuff.
        end goal, after studying the american right for many, many years: they want 1100 AD…but with running water, A/C and cell phones for the elect.
        you and i, however, are NOT the elect…and must make do or die.
        everything the american right’s leading thinkers have done, for 50+ years…including the purchase of the Demparty, circa:1975-1992, is to this end…and, indeed, points right to it, if one stands back far enough.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I seem to recall that they had a little dust-up in the early 1860s as to who had the final say in laws – the Feds or the States. And it was the Feds that won their case.

    2. griffen

      The people who think just like Mr. Leo are doing this on the ground in North Carolina, and the discussion about the districts being gerry-mandered to Republican whims has been happening for some time. This all reads like a conservative lawyer’s dream coming true, so to speak.

      That mindset scares me, and the precedent they wish to set. People who think this way don’t want to settle for half measures.

  15. LawnDart

    This may be appreciated by this crowd:

    Missing the great America I used to know

    The title may be misleading, but I do not miss the “Great America” that Donald Trump promised in his political campaign motto “Make America Great Again.” I miss the truly great America I used to know and admired in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s when I lived in the US.


    1. digi_owl

      Funny, my impression is that by the 80s-90s the star had begun fading.

      Defender of freedom? Groan. Also, much of that was simmering below the surface. Only it was held in check by a massive “grain” dole curtesy of offshored industry and reserve currency.

  16. Telee

    Me thinks that the links at the top of the page about supporting the development of a nasal vaccine is so important. Of course Biden who raked in huge donations from big PHARMA is not going to support a better solution to combat covid because the donors always come first. How can we talk about democracy when when corruption is the main driver of political decisions even when it costs lives. I won’t vote for him or the majority of democrats and of course not republicans.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i’m 53…and have voted everytime i’ve been allowed to ever since i was 18.
      except for the last election(primaries in texas…i drove right past)
      now, i think i might continue my practice of being the first on scene at the polls when they open(i’m known for this, out here)…but casting an empty ballot…or a marked up one(NOTA, or something) or some other method, yet to be determined, of registering my displeasure with the choices(sic) afforded to me.
      because they aint choices, at all.
      i know all the poll workers, so its not like i could pee in the box or anything.
      but thats the sentiment i want to convey.
      fie, fie!

  17. ChrisRUEcon


    Wonder what moved Inhofe? I mean if you were against mask mandates on planes in March (via Twitter), what makes you pivot to advocating for nasal vaccines in September? Epiphany? Your friends in Pharma? No, not the ones Lambert mentioned – but maybe some others who might want to get govt funding for a (soon-to-be) patented nasal vax? Maybe. OR … maybe it’s the fact that Oklahoma is 3rd among US States in COVID deaths normalized for population at 423.5 deaths per 100K (via FlipTheScript). I’d be willing to bet that more than a handful of constituents called or wrote in about those deaths.

    I hope $VaxOnlyJo3y listens and does something.

  18. Tom Doak

    I went to get a COVID booster shot this evening, because I am headed overseas next week and thought some new protection would be advised [I had opted out of the second booster until now]. To my surprise, I discovered that pharmacists are not allowed to administer the old Pfizer shot as a booster, but have to use the untested new Omicron-specific booster instead.

    The pharmacist [who administered the shot himself, because they haven’t seen enough demand yet to hire a nurse to give shots] said he “was surprised how aggressive” the regulations were about switching over to the new booster. Are we surprised? Pfizer’s got a lot of money invested in their new product, and apparently they are calling the shots at the CDC [pardon the pun].

    1. Late Introvert

      I honestly do not understand this obsession with getting “boosters” for a non-sterilizing vaccine. WTF?

  19. Lex

    Self driving cars are bad at personal risk assessments.

    I have a bad feeling about gas prices and the midterms. The SPR is just going lower and my gut says Biden’s been drawing it down for domestic political reasons and won’t be able to keep drawing much longer. What happens then? I think I read today that he proposes replacing it at $80/bbl but that’s below market price and I’m not sure how that works. Can he requisition oil on the domestic market at whatever price he wants, does that affect the rest of the market and prices? Just one of those bad feelings that when the bandaid has to come off we find the wound horribly infected.

    1. Carolinian

      What I read is that they will start replenishing when it hits the $80 price but the announcement seemed more of a response to the previous day’s story about record withdrawals so may be no more than PR–spin control.

      Gas prices are plunging and I saw a 2.99 today. Since the Bidens have admitted to manipulating the market then one has to assume it’s about the election. Meanwhile other inflation continues to soar according to just released statistics (and personal observation).

  20. VietnamVet

    PBS NewsHour, yesterday, hee-hawed, around the WaPo news report that the Democrats spent 19 million dollars on ads for far-right Republican primary candidates this year. No doubt, in order make the general election easier for them. A better chance at getting their snouts into the public money trough. Yet, they still blame Russians for Donald Trump’s election. This pretty much cinches the thought that Congress-critters don’t give a damn what their constituents think or need. They are disconnected from reality.

  21. The Rev Kev

    Something for the quite hours. In previous comments I have mentioned the Emu War here in Oz where that Australian Army took on the emus – but lost. Well, here is a video from the Second Emu War where an Oz contingent was nearly overrun at an outpost until saved by US Marines who, it turned out, had their own motivations-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wms8ZEtVQhg (3:35 mins)

  22. griffen

    Combining the phrase victory lap with Joe Biden, supposedly, is not a Babylon Bee or the Onion headline. Below is fresh from the presses. Yesterday morning the inflation print sent a clear message, and the lesson is that the Federal Reserve is not going to be done, or pivoting at any time soon. By pivoting I mean they would cease their plan for tightening and finally restricting their balance sheet.

    This is a very weird economic year. Bond yields are signaling a recession; the 2 year yield is higher than the 10 year yield. Clearly not everyone enjoys the pleasing thought of stocks going “downward to hell, even for a day or a week”. Fixed income dependent retirees have to be taking a hit with food prices up like they are.


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