2:00PM Water Cooler 9/16/2022

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Patient readers, I apologize for some formatting and content oddities in yesterday’s post. We were in the midst of our intermittent 521 error crisis, now fortunately solved by our God-like tech dude, Dave. –lambert

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Common Loon, Kitimat-Stikine, British Columbia, Canada. “2 loons that I paddled right by. They were just swimming around in the middle of the lake. No sign of a nest, but I didn’t look. After I passed they started calling.” Wow!

* * *


“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

“Senators air frustration on U.S. foreign policies and lack of progress on Venezuela” [Miami Herald]. • Why not swap Greedo and Zelensky?

“Dear Mr. President: Seriously, please stop with these science ‘moonshots'” [Ars Technica]. “Mr. President and Mr. Vice President: science doesn’t need another moonshot, and it really doesn’t need another vaguely thought-out initiative dropped on it during a State of the Union address. What it needs is much more important—and probably much more difficult politically, because those needs are much less flashy. What science needs is stable, sustainable budget growth. Take the NIH budget and promise to grow it at a percent or two above inflation for a number of years. The number 10 would be good. It’s not a flashy plan, but flashy draws time, energy, and resources away from the important jobs people are already trying to do. Don’t get me wrong. Done correctly, history shows that lofty scientific and engineering challenges can work. The actual moonshot, for example, or the Human Genome Project. Both of those had one thing in common: a clear and well-defined goal at the beginning. ‘Before 1970, fly someone to the Moon and return them safely.’ ‘Sequence the entire human genome.’ Nebulous concepts like ‘end all cancer’ get good applause—curing all cancers is right up there with sunshine and puppies. But such concepts are effectively meaningless. Richard Nixon declared a war on cancer back in 1971.”

“Pelosi confirms snap visit to Armenia after deadly clashes” [Reuters]. • I figured we were stirring the pot, there. Now I’m sure. I mean, does anyone know if Paul has Armenian holdings?


* * *

“Biden approval rises sharply ahead of midterms, new poll shows” [Los Angeles Times]. • The dude is a Churchill, I’m tellin’ ya. A Churchill!


“Vineyard Community Rallies Relief Efforts to Assist Stranded Migrants” [Vineyard Gazette]. • And then:

That was fast!

“Trolling toward 2024” [Politico]. “At this point it’s not clear if that type of long-range strategic thinking is going on. What’s happening now is that Gov. DeSantis is marching ahead in a reelection campaign where he is solidly out front. His goal is to win in November by a margin that is bigger than former President Donald Trump won the state by in 2020 and to show to the country that Florida is no longer a swing state. He has also taken steps to build up connections among Republican donors across the country and has rocketed to the top of the list of potential contenders IF Trump does not run. And that remains the key question from those I’ve talked to: Will Trump run? If he does, what does DeSantis do then?” • DeSantis:

It’s unfortunate that DeSantis didn’t study up on Martha’s Vineyard enough to send his cargo there when the summer season was in full swing.

“Possible presidential contenders raise over $591 million while waiting to declare candidacy” [OpenSecrets]. “The at-least 20 politicians who’ve been rumored to have 2024 ambitions have raised over $591 million since January 2021 through their aligned political operations, which include super PACs, leadership PACs and congressional reelection campaigns.” • That’s real money!

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Congress Stock-Trade Tracking Funds NANC and KRUZ Are On Way” [Bloomberg]. “A pair of exchange-traded funds that would mirror the personal portfolios of members of Congress may be coming soon. The Unusual Whales Subversive Democratic Trading ETF (ticker NANC) and the Unusual Whales Subversive Republican Trading ETF (KRUZ) would analyze the financial disclosure of lawmakers from both parties and their spouses and dependent children to construct a portfolio of between 500 and 600 holdings, according to a regulatory filing Thursday. When a position is reported as sold, the ETFs will offload the security as well. …. While it’s unclear if packaging lawmakers’ portfolios into an ETF will generate returns, it will almost certainly produce buzz, said Bloomberg Intelligence ETF analyst James Seyffart.” • Well, the ETFs ought to produce returns. The Congress Critters think their trades will, after all, and they are very much in a position to know.

“Who held defense stocks while making national security policy?” [Responsible Statecraft]. “The New York Times reported this week that 97 members of Congress “bought or sold stocks, bonds, or other financial assets that intersected with their congressional work or reported similar transactions by their spouse or a dependent child” between 2019 and 2021. With more than 3,700 such trades in those three years alone, the investigation reveals potential conflicts of interest in nearly every area of policymaking. Defense policy is no different. At least 25 members sat on committees that shape national security policy while simultaneously trading financial assets in companies that could create competing interests with their work, such as defense stock. With a near-even party split, Democrats and Republicans may have found a rare instance of common ground.” • “Potential conflicts of interest”? What’s potential about them?

“In California Cities, a New Frontier for Public Financing of Elections” [Bolts]. “In 2017, Seattle implemented a democratic reform that accomplished the seemingly impossible, diversifying and growing the pool of people giving money to political campaigns, and making city races more competitive in the process. Every local election cycle, Seattle gives each eligible resident four $25 “democracy vouchers” to donate to candidates of their choosing. To opt into the program and receive these vouchers, candidates must agree to certain conditions, like limiting their spending and participating in debates—and most do. The program has attracted glowing national attention, but so far no city has capitalized on Seattle’s success to implement its own version. The tide now may be turning as advocates for campaign finance reform hope to bring democracy vouchers to California, with Oakland leading the way. On Monday night, the Oakland City Council unanimously voted to place a democracy vouchers referendum on the city’s November ballot, with all six council members present voting aye.”


Zero Covid in Hollywood:

It can be done, despite all the blinding and stiffing. And:

* * *

• “Study co-authored by B.C.’s top doctor says 80 per cent of kids, youth have had COVID-19” [Globe and Mail]. “Kyenta Martins, who speaks for parent-led group Safe Schools Coalition B.C., said the study validates the worries parents have had about ventilation in schools. ‘A lot of people have been ringing the alarm bell. I am one of many, and I hate that term, but (we’ve been) gas-lit, by [B.C.s Bonnie Henry] and many public officials,” she said.” • Aggregated commentary:

“More kids than adults. She mass infected kids. It’s her study. No words. ‘A study co-authored by British Columbia’s top doctor says at least 70 to 80% of children & youth in Greater Vancouver & the Fraser Valley have been infected with Covid-19.’” [Chris is | Globe and Mail]

“This entire article misses the huge bombshell from the release of that preprint: Dr Henry told the public schools were not a source of transmission, then waived ethics approval for a study on which she was an author to use the serology of BC kids to show schools were a massive source of transmission… Dr Henry specifically delayed access to vaccination/boosters compared to other provinces to facilitate having a data source of infection-induced immunity with no regard for the risk of long covid from infection.” [Amanda Hu]

“Recap: For 2.5 years, Bonnie Henry (BC PHO) obstructed proper mitigations in schools (respirators, ventilation, HEPA filters) and downplayed transmission risk to children and transmission in schools…” + “”Robust hybrid immunity.” They call it priming. Reinfections are rampant. Beware: these are the people advising our government on vaccines for our children. This is not a BC problem, this is Canada’s problem.” [C Pita | Diego Bassani, PhD]

“We now have:

an uncontrolled mass infection of children study (run w/o informed consent)

-withholding 3rd doses to run an uncontrolled study on prolonged intervals (also w/o consent)>

-an RCT exposing HCWs to covid w/o N95s”
[Dr. Lisa Iannattone]

• I keep using the word “eugenics.” I don’t think it’s extreme.

* * *

• Gag me with a spoon. What “leadership”?

Damn. What’s that slurping sound? (“With all the talk” is no doubt a reference to the Lancet Commisssion report in Links. I say we should look forward and not back.)

* * *

* * *

Lambert here: Please note the long-awaited appearance of BA.2.75 onto the stage.

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 ~70,000. Today, it’s 69,000 and 69,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 414,000. (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):

South Carolina figured out its data problem.

The West:

A backward revision with an enormous jump. Should somebody check in with California? What’s going on out there?


Wastewater data (CDC), September 11:

For grins, September 10:

• ”Wastewater COVID-19 Tracking” [MWRA]. “*Biobot will be closing their lab next week for a company retreat. We don’t expect any data updates between 9/18/2022 and 9/25/2022. They expect to catch up to the normal posting schedule by 9/27/2022.*” • One more reason wastewater laboratory testing should be a governmental function, like wastewater itself. If a pathogen were doubling, one week would be a long time. Nice little company that caught a wave, but a company retreat in the midst of a pandemic? Really?

• ”USask team’s dorm monitoring project shows passive COVID-19 sampling effective: paper” (press release) [University of Saskatchewan]. “For the dormitory project, the team used a passive sample collection system that provided round-the-clock monitoring of wastewater, maximizing chances of capturing COVID-19-linked genetic material. The system used 3D-printed cigar-shaped devices, known as torpedo samplers, that were placed inside the wastewater flow, accumulating viral RNA samples over at least 24 hours. Inside these tubes were membranes that attract RNA, with cotton swabs to grab some of the particulates. USask Facilities staff gathered samples five days a week for eight months by accessing the tubes through manholes near the dorms. Researchers used a platform provided by the partner company, LuminUltra, to determine the amount of RNA in the samples to measure the prevalence of COVID-19.”


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 10:

-0.7%. Should be a leading indicator…


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

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

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 16:

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

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 16:

Sea of green!

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), September 1:

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 27 (Nowcast off):

Two highlights: BA.4.6 has assumed a slightly greater proportion (more in the NowCast model, which I refuse to use). Also, first appearance of BA.2.75. So where is it, you ask?

The above chart shows variants nationally. I have gone through the CDC regions and made a table. As you can see, BA.2.75 is prominent in Region 2 (New York and New Jersey), followed by Region 5 (Midwest), and Region 1 (Northeast). Hmm.

Table 1: CDC Regional BA.2.75 Data, Sorted by % Total

CDC Region % Total States in Region
Region 2: 0.8% New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Region 5: 0.7% Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 1: 0.7% Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Region 3: 0.4% Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia
Region 4: 0.4% Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Region 7: 0.3% lowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Region 6: 0.0% Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 8: 0.0% Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 9: 0.0% Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….
Region 10: 0.0% Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

Let’s see if BA.2.75 starts doubling.


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: 1,078,018 – 1,077,477 = 541 (541 * 365 = 197,465, 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 note today.

* * *


(If you’ve never seen Simon Stålenhag’s work, check it out.)

Mr. Market: “The stock-market bears now have the upper hand as S&P 500 drops below 3,900” [MarketWatch]. “The S&P 500 index on Friday broke below a closely watched support level that could augur a deeper slide, chart watchers warned. Technical analysts have identified the 3,900 level as the bottom of an important range of support for the large-cap benchmark.” • So invest in Naked Capitalism. Because you may need us.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 32 Fear (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 15 at 1:37 PM EDT. Mr. Market having a sad.

Adversity’s Sweet Milk

“Curation, Digitization, Path Dependence, and the Urgency of the History of Philosophy” [Daily Nous]. “Certain contemporary developments, such as pressures on libraries to cull their collections of hard copies and the academy’s increasing reliance on digitized materials, contribute to the worry of forgetting some valuable voices in the history of our discipline.” • Especially (dread word) marginalized voices.

Groves of Academe

“Emporia State University is about to suspend tenure. Here’s why you should care.” [Kansas Reflector]. “A plan to restructure the school and allow the firing of faculty members with only a 30-day notice is expected to be approved this week by the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s higher education. If adopted, the “workforce management plan” would effectively suspend tenure for the fall 2022 semester. A semester doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough time to wreck careers and burn down programs that have taken decades to build. It’s enough time to change an institution that has contributed to the common good in Kansas for more than 150 years to one that is dedicated to … well, we just don’t know yet. There are few details in the draft “workforce management plan” presented to faculty just last Wednesday, no metrics by which to consider the closing of programs or the firing of instructors. There is a lot of hot air about being ‘forward focused and future ready.’ The draft is not a management plan, as observed by one professor at a faculty forum on Friday, but a blueprint to quickly terminate employees — and not just faculty, but classified staff, graduate assistants, anybody the university administration might want gone. The reasons for termination are so broad as to invite abuse, and range from program restructuring to employee conduct deemed disruptive of the work environment.” • “Forward focused and future ready” sounds like something Scotty from Marketing would come up with.

Book Nook

“Middle Earth In The Content Economy” [im1776]. “The Lord of the Rings – the book, not the films – is a work of remarkable depth and complexity. Tolkien’s work is one of those rare accomplishments so overshadowed by its own commercial success that academia has not yet fully appreciated its artistic merit. But as much as I hate to admit it, its success is exactly why you should expect to see Middle Earth turned into a wide variety of endless trash. I didn’t understand this ten years ago. But Christopher Tolkien did; he saw the writing on the wall and it broke his heart.”

The Conservatory

“The Screw Tapes” [The Baffler]. Great stuff:

CALL IT CHOPPED AND SCREWED or slowed and throwed—it’s a sound that got its start in the small town of Smithville, Texas, and can now be heard on tracks by Beyoncé, Travis Scott, and the Justin Timberlake/Timberland/Three 6 Mafia collaboration “Chop Me Up,” which against my better judgment I actually listened to for this article. The chopping is the cutting up of distinct elements of a song, which are mixed back into it in a different order—the chorus may loop around, chorus and verse may mix, verses may be cut so abstractly that they become more music than words. Screwing means slowing the song down until it sounds, for those who can remember this, like a tape recorder when the batteries are running down. (Some cite a mythical night listening to tapes slowed in this way as the origin of the screwed sound.) DJs have chopped music since the origin of hip-hop, and more than one has claimed to be the originator of the slowed sound, but chopped and screwed as a genre is indelibly associated with Houston DJ Robert Earl Davis Jr. (1971–2000), popularly known as DJ Screw.

Screw was born in Smithville, Texas, a former railroad town, to a family of modest means. His mother was an R&B and soul fan, and had a side hustle selling eight-track mixes of her favorite songs to friends. Screw showed strong musical inclinations from early on but was uninspired by the piano lessons his mother purchased for him or the drums set up in the living room. Instead, he would spend the evenings listening to faint radio signals from Austin playing the New York hip-hop that was just going national: Run DMC, Whodini, Kurtis Blow, UTFO. Screw was fascinated with scratching, and set to teaching himself, ruining many of his mothers’ records in the process. He was a tinkerer: he taped loose change to the arm of his turntable to keep it from skipping and rigged a jukebox AM/FM tuner into a fader.

Zeitgeist Watch


Police State Watch

“He Called 911 Because His Car Was Stuck. The Cops Killed Him” [Vice]. • Many, many stories like this. I managed to subscribe to a Google watch on the phrase “police killings.” The 911 shootings come in regularly. I’m amazed anybody calls 911.

Class Warfare

“Railroad CEOs Were Paid Over $200 Million As Workers Suffered” [Lever News]. “‘The (companies) maintain that capital investment and risk are the reasons for their profits, not any contributions by labor,’ a recent federal report noted. The contrast between gigantic executive pay packages and worker grievances is the context for a possible nationwide strike that has been long in the making.” • First. capital is, exactly and precisely, a “contribution [of labor power] by labor.” Second, fuck around and find out. Even a short strike would make who makes what contribution clear.

Yes, the workers have a lot of power:

So give them what they want (which is pretty meagre, all things considered).

News of the Wired

“How an enormous project attempted to map the sky without computers” [Ars Technica]. “This article tells the story of how photography changed astronomy and how hundreds of astronomers formed the first international scientific collaboration to create the Carte du Ciel (literally, “Map of the Sky”), a complete photographic survey of the sky. That collaboration resulted in a century-long struggle to process thousands of photographic plates taken over decades, with the positions of millions of stars measured by hand to make the largest catalog of the night sky. Unfortunately, the Carte du Ciel project came at a time when our ability to collect measurements of the natural world was not matched by our capacity to analyze them. And while the project was in progress, new instruments made it possible to study physical processes in distant celestial objects, tempting scientists away from the survey by offering the chance to create new models to explain the world. For the astronomers working on the Carte du Ciel, no model yet existed that could abstract the positions of millions of stars into a theory of how our galaxy evolved; the researchers instead only had an intuition that photographic techniques could be useful to map the world. They were right, but it took most of a century and the entire careers of many astronomers for their intuition to bear fruit.” • Not all institutions have the patience….

“You Should Read Books” [Ross Barkan, Political Currents]. “If you’re reading this, there are decent odds you have a college degree. You live in a big city, like New York, or somewhere close. You are properly encultured, leaning left. You read the news, maybe even imbibe it. You’re on social media or at least cognizant of the conversation, in all its bile and banality. You have opinions on Joe Biden, the Democratic Congress, British colonialism, or the state of the Ukrainian resistance. You mean well…. What is not fine is the abdication of reading among the leisure classes, the Zoom classes, the professional managers and their ilk who fancy themselves educated enough, who are sure they have mastered the intricacies of existence over the Other, whomever that Other might be. A rigorous reading diet is not two-tenths of the New York Times and Twitter. It is not half of one novel, abandoned in July. It is not a morning newsletter, or two morning newsletters. It is not a hot take on The Little Mermaid, She-Hulk, or The Rings of Power. You’re conversant enough in pop culture rehash. It’s time to do something else. Reading can be hard, or at least it can present the sort of challenge that modern life is supposed to ease or optimize away. Reading is harder than streaming Netflix, watching a movie, listening to music, or playing video games. Hardness, on its own, is not a virtue. It does, however, matter. It matters to be a disciplined adult.” • Our increasingly frivolous PMC.

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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 CG:

CG: “A rose of sharon.” Wow!!!!

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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. Louis Fyne

    stopped by the Mega-LoCost Warehouse for the first time in a while.

    Noticed another round of price hikes for various stuff…

    the eye-popper were small-gadget batteries (AAA, etc.) +25% since pre-Labor Day, now up ~50% since February.

    1. johnherbiehancock

      buying a couple packs of rechargeable energizer AA’s and AAA’s a couple years ago has been one of my smarter money moves.

      especially since my kids’ xbox requires at least one wireless controller (only provides one wired port), and the wireless controllers suck batteries fast

  2. Hepativore

    So, when are the unions going to vote on this latest emergency “deal”, which seems to have given them very little of what they are asking for?

    The problem is, I think it is almost a given that Congress is going to intervene and order all of the workers back to work in a broad bipartisan consensus. It will be interesting to see how “Union Joe” and the sycophants in the media will try and frame this as a “victory for labor” when this happens.

    1. Screwball

      I’m confused. Just yesterday, my PMC friends told me this rail issue (fixed) was one of the best accomplishment’s of the Biden administration. He fixed this, but they didn’t tell me exactly how.

      It was only discussed a short period of time because the real “outrage of the day” was the immigrants they shipped to Martha’s Vineyard. Oh boy, are they mad at the Florida guy.

      I’m not the smartest pencil in the bag, and I hate them using these people as political pawns to score points. But the border has been an issue for quite some time. Maybe, just maybe, someone should do something about it? Or did I miss something.

      1. Lee

        I pity the poor immigrants as much as the next person, perhaps even more, as over the years I’ve helped quite a few, but I think I might be with Florida Guy on this one. Call me deplorable but I say, let the neoliberal elites put their resources where their mouths are. I imagine the Obamas could feed and house quite few at their digs.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Okay, but, that is not what is happening here. There is in fact a year-round population full of poor and working and middle class people on the six Towns of Martha’s Vineyard.The Aquinnah Wampanoag, the African Americans of Oak Bluffs, various Swamp Yankees and Irish — the year-round community is the one that gets colonized by seasonal rich people colonialists in the first place, who are now, post-Labor Day, mostly gone. The year-round community meanwhile, and predictably, given the maritime tradition of caring for wrecked sailors, is putting them up in a local church and feeding and clothing them.

          1. Michael Ismoe

            Hey. You just described Tucson, Arizona. Guess what, we do thousands of these a week, sometimes in a day.

            Glad you finally noticed.

            1. ArcadiaMommy

              Take it easy. The Old Pueblo has almost a million people and an overwhelmingly Hispanic oriented culture. Much easier to absorb a few migrants don’t you think?

              And if I were these people I would get to Phoenix, San Diego, LA or the Central Valley asap. The economy is dead as a doornail in Tucson even in the best of times.

              Too many old people, students and military for a healthy economy.

              They should thank that idiot desantis for helping them get where they probably will have the most success. Strawberries and lettuce need to be picked!

              1. ambrit

                This is the Northeast. Cranberries need to be craned for mid-terms, and lobsters need to be lobed. (We shan’t even begin to deal with the relationship between haddock and the Lost Tribes of Israel in the short amount of time left to us upon this Terrestrial globe. Suffice it to say that Gog and Magog are the twin pillars upon which rests the edifice of the chiliast of Googles. Hierophants need to hire, else how does the economy continue functioning?)
                Be ye safe adjacent!

      2. notabanker

        They are doing something about it. The Mayor is tweeting updates on the “humanitarian crisis” and the Gov called in 125 National Guard. For 50 immigrants. On an island that sees 80,000 vacationers in season.

        1. Sardonia

          Oh they did more than that! They kicked them all out today. Put them on a bus and sent them to a military base in Cape Cod.

          I’m sure they’ll spend all day tomorrow putting up posters about how much they support undocumented immigrants and are “fighting alongside them” – from a distance…..

          1. The Rev Kev

            Hillary Clinton was saying that the Martha’s Vineyard situation is ‘literally human trafficking,’ and no one wants ‘open borders’. She was saying on Morning Joe-

            ‘”I think, Joe, you have laid out the craziness of the time in which we’re living where some politicians would rather not only have an issue but exacerbate it to the extent of literally human trafficking, as you said,” she said. “So many other Americans — I happen to believe still the majority of Americans — are good-hearted and generous and when people end up on their doorstep in need, they’re going to respond. They’ll feed them and house them and the kids in the AP Spanish class will be let out of high school so they can go and translate. That’s the kind of American spirit that we try to celebrate at the Clinton Global Initiative.”‘

            Nice how she got in a plug for her Initiative.


            1. Sardonia

              I never wish harm onto anyone, but if I ever read that, while walking on a tarmac waving to supporters, she accidentally walks into a running propeller – I shall not weep.

      3. nippersdad

        “It was only discussed a short period of time because the real “outrage of the day” was the immigrants they shipped to Martha’s Vineyard. Oh boy, are they mad at the Florida guy.”

        If they are mad now, just wait until tomorrow. Hillary has weighed in, saying that DeSantis is engaging in “literally, human trafficking.” Cue DeSantis in the news tomorrow saying “Well, she should know all about that sort of thing” and demand an apology.


        Her lack of self awareness is simply awesome.

  3. Will Short

    Re: Another ‘tell’ from the PMC is in Marcus Weisgerbers tweet, which ends with ‘folks’. When the word ‘folks’ shows up in copy duck and cover.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Marcus Weisberger and Oriana Pawlyk are both spooks. Spies. Military.

      Oriana Pawlyk
      aviation reporter. Ex-
      alum. The B-1 ≠ nukes. 🇺🇸🇺🇦, Chicagoan, #avgeek. Opinions mine. RT, ♥️≠E

      Marcus Weisgerber
      Global Business Editor at
      . Fmr Pentagon Press Association Veep. Golden Retriever Dad. New Yorker. RT ≠ Endorsement mweisgerber@defenseone.com

      Not exactly Eugene V. Debs, either of them. They couldn’t care less about the unionists.

  4. antidlc

    “Gag me with a spoon. What “leadership”?

    Well, wasn’t he on the board of the advisory group for Newton schools, along with Walensky?

    1. ambrit

      I’ve got an idea.
      Walensky sounds vaguely Middle European. Let’s send her over to the Ukraine to take charge of their health system. Now that’s “assistance” I can get behind.

      1. John Zelnicker

        ambrit – I have another idea.

        I’m adopted and back in June I was contacted by my birth family. Great excitement and joy.

        According to the family, my grandmother was a Ukrainian Princess before emigrating.

        So, I am going to go to Ukraine, claim the Crown, and get everybody to agree to a peace agreement.

        Wadda ya think? ;-)

        1. nippersdad

          So when can we look forward to the e-mails from Ukrainian princes with great investment opportunities?

          I’d like to diversify my portfolio. :)

          1. ambrit

            Mr. Zelnicker, having an extensive background in the nuts and bolts of finance should be a “natural” for this. Let’s do a “Go Fund Me” for the Ukrainian Prince Restoration Party.

        2. ambrit

          I think you should rustle up some “kinetic” backing from, say, the All Galicia party, or perhaps the “Sons of the Golden Horde” first. Better yet, I’ll bet that some unmentionables from the environs of Petrograd would be happy to underwrite your “adventure.” If things don’t work out for the entirety of the Ukraine, aim a little lower and settle for being Prince of the Black Sea Coast, with your capitol at Odessa. [I will happily volunteer to be Counsul to the Mississippi Marches.]
          Thinking sideways here, since the DC Axis of Evil has adopted straight up NAZIs as fighters, why not let your filibuster enlist Neo-Confederates?
          The possibilities are endless. I think you have hit on a winner. Any way you look at it, this idea of yours is a sure fire “campaign funds” money raiser.

        3. ambrit

          Slaps self on forehead, hard. Goes; “Oy vey! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!”
          I just got it! Boy, I am now certain that I am suffering from advanced neurological effects from ‘Long Covid.’
          Be safe!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Well, wasn’t he on the board of the advisory group for Newton schools, along with Walensky?

      Only Jha. Here is the committee report:

      The contrast between what Jha wants for his children and what he wants for other children is pretty staggering only to be expected.

      Walensky is, however, a Newton resident. From the Boston Globe, “The Newton-to-White-House pipeline taps public health professionals”:

      [Walensky and then Jha’s] ascension from spending their spare time assisting neighbors to occupying some of the highest posts in the federal public health response reflects a larger reality brought about by the two-year war against the pandemic. While Massachusetts has long sent its brightest political stars to Washington, the pandemic has created a new demand in the halls of power for the world-class medical expertise concentrated in the Greater Boston area.

      “Massachusetts is a place that produces a lot of people who broadly believe in service, because they believe government can do good things for people,” said Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economics professor who advised the Obama administration on the Affordable Care Act. “We’re a state that believes in government.”

      [Dr. Jodi Larson, the chief quality officer for Boston Medical Center and fellow Newton school parent], Jha’s colleague on the Newton advisory board, said the appointments of Walensky and Jha underscored the role Boston plays in the nation’s health system.

      “Boston is a mecca for health care, so I think having Dr. Walensky from Mass General and Dr. Jha from Brown, it says a lot,” Larson said. “We are at the forefront and epicenter of health care.”


      NOTE * On Dr. Karl Jonathon Gruber, see NC here and here.

  5. hemeantwell

    Loons, what a great bird! Few things better than listening to them chortle away under a moon reflecting on the water of a lake. Better: add campfire and whiskey.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    Ross Barkan on books.

    He seems unable to get around to why one reads: One reads books to stoke the inner life. One reads books to have insight, deep insight, into how another person thinks. One reads books to learn how to assemble scattered facts into a story. One reads books to drive out the current “narratives” and “memes.”

    Barkan gives this lousy advice: “Higher quality books are better than lower quality books, and you know what that means, but greatness comes in many forms. Read fiction and nonfiction. Read what’s newly produced. The dead, in many cases, have enough of an audience and income.”

    “Higher quality” books are those books picked by the chattering classes and their magazines and critics: The New Yorker will guide you, O peons. (And who was more excruciating than “high quality” John Updike, New Yorker stalwart and opinion-shaper?)

    Ahh, yes, one wouldn’t want to read Dead White Men like Sappho, who is lolling in royalties just offshore of the island of Lesvos on her yacht The Merry Tribade.

    Read books that you want to read: Cookery books with stories in them. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. James Joyce. Italo Svevo. Albert Camus. Valley of the Dolls. Elena Ferrante. Very grand manga like those by Mari Yamazaki and Hayao Miyazaki. Haruki Murakami. Andrea Camilleri and his Inspector Montalbano.

    The point is to have the joy of a very private experience that becomes part of one’s self, a self bigger than a selfie.

    1. Laura in So Cal

      Yes…that article felt so self congratulatory. “I read 40-50 hardback books per year” so I’m so smart. You should do it also and be smart like me. People who really work for a living can’t be expected to spend the time or $$ so you’ll need to pick up the slack.

      Sigh…this guy sounds like someone who reads so he can quote “important passages”

      I have a long time friend who is my walking partner and a fellow book lover. Our taste in books overlaps maybe 50%, but we try books that we recommend to each other. Even if I don’t like a book as long as I gain insight or learn something, I don’t consider it a waste of time.

      I love books the way some people love shoes, or food, or drugs. I read for fun, for stress relief,to learn, to understand , to change my mind. I read fiction and non-fiction, most genres (except horror or true crime…pass) and get so much pleasure and knowledge from it.

      Articles like that one are so discouraging.

      1. voteforno6

        Yeah, he comes off as a [French word for shower] in that article. He says people should read books, but he doesn’t come off as someone who actually enjoys reading. Everyone I know who does enjoy it, has a specific type of book that they read (call it guilty pleasure or brain candy) which could be considered light or trivial, but nevertheless will pick up from time to time.

        The author also seems to be rather unaware of the existence of public libraries. Even blue collar working class people can use them (and they do), but he’s probably not aware of that, since he probably hasn’t stepped in one for a while. Sure, they have busy lives, but if something is important enough, they’ll find time, just like anything else.

      2. Lex

        People who see my bookshelves just nod for a minute and then say something along the lines of, “well that makes sense”. It’s almost all serious non-fiction of an eclectic variety (though to voteforno6’s point above I love Graham Hancock) but that’s just because it’s what I like to read. My wife is a historical fiction/true crime (as in combined) lover. I really don’t see any difference in us being “readers”. We just are drawn to reading different things. Making reading elitist is the problem.

        But to that I’ll add that the elitist readers who pick up non-fiction, mostly history, almost always recommend the worst history writers and propaganda schlock like Anne Applebaum.

    2. Bugs

      Yeah that “reading is hard” is so off-putting. I’ve read some extremely difficult books and it was perhaps a challenge, but hard? Even stuff like Foucault or Heidegger isn’t that hard. You might need to stop and read background, secondary sources or take a class to understand it, but hard? No.

      Read books because you are curious and enjoy discovering new things, ideas, voices. Reading a book is like taking a trip for me. Even better is to take an actual trip and spend it reading.

      1. Lee

        I’ve recently become a party to a lawsuit and have been reading a lot of legalese. It’s brutally bad writing that sets down the rules we are all expected to live by. I’ve read technical manuals with more appeal. I’ve developed deeper appreciation for Shakespeare’s line: “First let’s kill all the lawyers.”

        1. Laura in So Cal

          I spent a lot of time in my 20’s and 30’s reading FAR/DFAR regulations. I had to take a couple of classes to really understand all the ins and outs. I feel your pain.

        2. ArcadiaMommy

          Lawyers cut and paste clauses from legal documents from their colleagues they then cobble together. No pride in authorship with that group.

      2. Bazarov

        I used to think reading at a high level was fairly easy.

        Then I starting teaching reading and writing to college underclassmen, who are supposedly literate.

        Trust me, reading is hard. I would assign an essay–say 15 pages long–that you would find very accessible and clear and perhaps even delightful. My students, many of which went to fancy private schools, could not make heads or tails of it. I know this from reading their summaries, conducting discussion, and talking to countless students during office hours (when they’re prone to bear their hearts!) . Their comprehension, at least to start, is beyond abysmal. Very few of these students read at all for pleasure. Some of them have never once read a real book for adults.

        To a mathematician, math is easy. To the truly literate, reading ain’t nothin’.

        But to people who are not already literate, reading is extremely difficult and alienating. It makes them feel stupid. They’re ashamed. Luckily–like numeracy or carpentry or the piano–it can be taught, and a good teacher can help them navigate through their shame to the luminous pastures beyond.

        Once they reach those pastures, they fall in love with reading. It’s incredibly moving and gratifying to witness such transformation.

        1. JBird4049

          I find that it is like a muscle. I enjoy reading, but if I don’t do it for months, I find that I have lost the ability to focus and process the book. Just like how an athlete can fall out of shape.

    3. Lee

      I think it was Raymond Chandler who defended escapist fiction, saying something to the effect that we need it in order to escape the deadly rhythm of our own thoughts. Works for me.

      1. Lex

        My 12th grade AP English teacher way back when drilled us in classical literature with the vigor of a marine sergeant. He also read Danielle Steele a lot, like when we were writing essays in class. He said it was his version of watching TV.

    4. The Rev Kev

      There may be another factor in the drop off in reading, particularly by the PMCs. To read, you usually have to do it by yourself and a noted characteristic of the younger generation is a dislike for being by themselves. I have read articles talking about how they can’t stand studying alone but will go to a friend’s place to study with them. Being tied into social media makes it even harder as they are constantly distracted by messages and alerts. Long term it does not make for an educated class.

      1. Wukchumni

        The elephant in the index card file is attention span and the idea that younger adults have delegated the majority of their memory retention to that curious handheld thing that bears an awful lot of resemblance to the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

        How can you remember something that happened on page 14 by the time you get to page 67?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > How can you remember something that happened on page 14 by the time you get to page 67?

          When looking for a quote, I have often opened books to the exact page the quote is on. Try doing that digitally! (Not sure I could do that now, because I read books a lot less, sadly. I need to structure my time so that I read more books. But there is doomscrolling to be done!)

          1. JBird4049

            In the past, I have used post-its when doing a report and I see something I might need. I might still get twenty of them in a book, but it is easier than searching the whole book.

    5. Socal Rhino

      Saw this work firsthand at my middle school, a pilot program.One of the classes was reading. A room with various types of furniture, only requirement being that when you there you had to read. Anything at all. Literally anything, but you had to read it. And talk to the teacher about what you read.

      Reading scores improved across the board, and with a lot of kids reaching their grade level in proficiency for the first time.

      1. ambrit

        I helped out in an ESL class once. The teacher used their own money to buy Spanish language copies of Classics Illustrated. The results were ‘illuminating’ to say the least.
        Another main reason why kiddies today cain’t reed is cuz theys now taught to the test. The meritocrat’s quantification of schooling has caused immense damage to the literacy of the younger cohorts.
        As I have said elsewhere, there is education and there is training. Different goals produce different demos. I remember when a high school Home Economics teacher told me that her specialty was “The Useful Arts.” Now that I am much older I finally understand what she was truing to teach me. [I almost failed typing and shorthand class.]

        1. IntoTheAbyss

          I rocked typing class. The teacher brought in her own phonograph and would play Jimi Hendrix Greatest Hits and other similar genre. Our speed typing tests were awesome!

          1. ambrit

            *Grrr Snarl*
            Phyllis could touch type 90 words a minute when she was a secretary at a bank. We still have the Selectric typewriter hidden away somewhere around here.
            If we as a culture do go all crypto-electric soon, I’ll wish for an old Remington Rand manual typewriter. I used to have one. It was a go anywhere, do anything machine.

          2. eg

            I got 50% in Grade 9 typing, and probably only because I got 100% on the written exam about all the arcane rules. The scoring system for errors was exceptionally harsh.

            But to this day I can touch-type tolerably well, and I never regretted taking that class.

            I do miss the physicality of bashing out university essays on an old portable mechanical typewriter — the rhythm and especially the bang-ring of the return mechanism was somehow hypnotic.

    1. Skk

      I came down from Colorado for that 2005 super bloom. So we’ve had September rains then. I’d better book a hotel in / near Death Valley soon then

      1. Wukchumni

        To be fair, the heavy rains for the 2005 event came over late December-early January, so a different set up, but then again Death Valley has never received this much rain in the past fortnight ever historically, so who knows?

        The superbloom that year was something else, seas of yellow everywhere.

        1. skk

          I looked up nps.gov for the conditions that lead to a superbloom a couple of years back and the rains in September stuck in my mind. Looking it up again, yeah like you said there’s more to it. Sep rains is just one of the conditions.

          1. Wukchumni

            My main concern is how badly did the 2 roads into Saline hot springs get beat up?

            The short way is 45 miles, while the longer way in is 52 miles of dirt & crushed lava along with playing dodge em’ on the many rocks of small to medium size strewn on your way and watch the pointy ones, tire killers they be.

            The ways in have been in the best shape i’ve ever seen in the past couple of years, but that was then and this is now.

  7. Tommy S.

    Indeed, That book reading thing drove me nuts. It may be my milieu , as in punk rock since early 80’s, from Ohio to San Francisco…and being involved in activist circles, but I have never met a manager or a rich person that is as well read in ‘books that matter’….as many of my working class friends. From bell hooks, to fun stuff like Bucky fuller, to hunter T., but also to Zinn, Bookchin, Marx, Thomas Frank, to Barbara..and on and on…indeed, maybe not ‘most’ but a ton more then any manager type I’ve quizzed….and quiz I do….

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I give out copies of Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” as high school graduation presents. “Here’s what they didn’t teach you.”

  8. Jason Boxman

    More stories of healthcare system mendacity from an employer with ‘good’ health insurance:

    I’m hoping someone will have had experience with this. If not, I’ll open a ticket.

    I see a specialist who works out of a local hospital. [Insurer] covered the doctor’s fees, except for the copay, but not the separate facility fee that the hospital charges. [Previous insurer] covered both.

    Has anyone else run into this?

    You gotta know how to navigate the system.

    I have that every time I see a doctor at [Name] Hospital. One bill from the doctor, one from the hospital. Since I hadn’t met the deductible yet I got to pay both… but after deductible it should be “just” copay. I think.

    You gotta be a “smart” shopper:

    My experience so far is that no one I can talk to prior to the visit can tell me about the existence or cost of a hospital fee. At this point my family and I try to avoid any doctor who appears to be working from a hospital location (not always possible) as the hospital fee for us has been as much or more than the actual doctor’s visit fee. Even if the hospital provided nothing more than the physical building where the visit happened.

    Later a high level executive starts a new email thread titled: “Dedicated US health care topic list?”

    Basic flu shots are also a nightmare:

    Hi all,

    As with many other experiences, I tried to explain to the pharmacist at CVS that he could process the vaccine as a medical through [Insurance Co], and he handed back my card and said no.

    We. Deserve. Better. Than. This.

    The United States is a death a cult.

    1. Skk

      I’ve been looking for an ai/analytics project for my idle time. Integrating those trillion health insurance prices that were recently published with the hospital pricing data would-be worthy of a SETI like distributed computing project. I may have a bash. But what a waste of brainpower and computing power. There has to be a better way.

  9. deplorado

    I apologize if this was already discussed here in NC – as I dont recall if I saw it here on elsewhere on the Net.
    But here is a very interesting and downright dissident paper from no less than the Fed itself:

    Why Do We Think That Inflation Expectations Matter for Inflation? (And Should We?)
    https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/feds/files/2021062pap.pdf by Jeremy B. Rudd

    where on page 1 there is this helpful footnote:
    2 I leave aside the deeper concern that the primary role of mainstream economics in our society is to provide an apologetics for a criminally oppressive, unsustainable, and unjust social order.

    Wow. What’s going on at the Fed?

    Stoller had a similar definition (but actually more elegant and PC than this effective but blunt object) a couple of years ago in his letter.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > on page 1 there is this helpful footnote:
      2 I leave aside the deeper concern that the primary role of mainstream economics in our society is to provide an apologetics for a criminally oppressive, unsustainable, and unjust social order.

      Always read the footnotes, not just on the balance sheet and the income statement, but everywhere!

  10. griffen

    In line to see beloved Queen
    Turns out after all was done
    They were waiting to become
    Today’s edition of Soylent Green.

    They told us to float
    And try to relax
    But then they dumped us
    Into a vat of hot coating and wax.

  11. semper loquitur

    Signs o’ the Times:

    Was driving on the Queens Expressway last night and I saw a homemade banner someone had draped across a billboard that read:

    “End industry before it ends us!”

    Think big, I guess. Today while walking the World’s Smartest Dog, I saw a real estate agent’s sidewalk sign upon which someone had scribbled over the man’s face with black marker and wrote “Fu(k Landlords!” across the text. I don’t think landlords were referenced on the sign but I agree with the general sentiment.

    1. Kelly

      Paper money frequently used as billboards too:

      “Joe Biden’s ProWar Sanctions doubled our food prices.”

  12. Harold

    What a great plantidote (also animal-dote) from the wonderful Hibiscus genus (I had to look it up), member of the Mallow (Malvaceae) family — which includes okra, cotton, coffee [!], and Linden [!] not to mention marshmallows (finally got it straight, I hope). No wonder coffee is so healthy. And okra, too, so soothing to the stomach, not to mention the Linden tea of Marcel Proust.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is due to come to the United Nations building in New York very soon to talk. You think that that they might try to arrest him and put him on trial as a war criminal?

  13. ChrisRUEcon


    Lambert > A backward revision with an enormous jump. Should somebody check in with California? What’s going on out there?

    Conference and Summit season! Anecdotally, many people have started traveling for tech get-togethers, be those internal or external to their companies. Like clockwork, the tales of COVID infection start rolling in after attendance. Also, this is compounded IMO by post-Labor-Day-get-together spreader events as well. I suspect a few personal-risk-assessments are going to be adjusted in the near term.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here I am, thanking the heavens above, for my hearing loss.

      And why would I be doing such a thing? Because large gatherings of people talking are the bane of my existence. It’s too plumb hard for me to hear in such an environment. Hence, I avoid in-person conferences.

      But online events? Mmmm, I love, love, LOVE them. I can don my noise cancelling headphones and hear everything the speaker is saying.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Well … among my co-workers, I’m in the minority as far as having little to no desire to travel. In that respect I’m also lucky I don’t really have to, and can defer to others. Most have been chomping at the bit to get back to the office and back on the road. Curious to see if all this conference-COVID is going to dampen their enthusiasm. I’ve been pro-remote meetings even before the pandemic as well. All this talk about carbon footprints and climate change, and yet business travel is still a thing … why?! We have the equivalent of teleconferencing on mobile devices now … the requirement for in person is most valuable in a training setting, perhaps … working shoulder to shoulder to explain/share complicated concepts … but everything else … just get online.

      1. ChrisRUEcon


        “Jha will not provide …” – with apologies to my Rastafarian brothers and sisters (musical palette cleanser for the bad pun, via YouTube)

        That Joseph Allen tweet is high grade BS, and thankfully, the replies are near unanimous is expressing the same disbelief as Lambert. Needless to say, I had to add to the chorus by reminding Mr. Allen of Jha’s own vapid seven-tweet thread from last week.

      2. JBird4049

        The system is working as desired. Remember when the police homicides recorded and sent to the FBI were under counted by half? I forget which murder it was, perhaps Ferguson, but some reporters realized how fudged the numbers were while investigating it; I think they wanted to compare local and national homicides, but found that they could not.

        The average count went from over five hundred to over one thousand, maybe eleven hundred people per year. IIRC, the pattern holds up for several decades although it gets much harder to search through old news archives and the like, plus the internet and social media makes it harder to not have a death not recorded and just disappear, currently. A change of roughly 1.5 to 3.0 people per a day. The reports of whether the victim was even armed or dangerous are often suspect if not outright lies. It is just harder to hid a corpse. I suspect that the Covid stats are equally massaged.

        The deaths of over five hundred people not recorded per a year. Five thousand people in a decade. It would have been over ten thousand people since 9/11, if someone had not noticed the discrepancies. Then a number of reporters, researchers, and regular people decided to gather and compile their own records. Who knows just what the true numbers are for the past decades?

    2. ChrisRUEcon



      The cover of the Chinese edition of Stephanie Kelton’s contains the image of a little metal top on it, which looks exactly like the dream totem from the movie “Inception” … (via Twitter)

      For those not familiar with the movie, the totem is a physical object that people who engage in “shared dreaming” make to behave in a predictable way in the real world (like a loaded die, as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Arthur” explains). That way, if the dreamer wants to be sure that they have fully exited all levels of dreaming, they check their totem to be sure.

      Well … I am not sure whether Professor Kelton had any input into the choice of image, but it an incredibly clever one given the subject matter – #MMT as a way for us to exit the nightmare of Economics orthodoxy and confirm the reality we know to be true about “how money works”. Brilliant.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > That way, if the dreamer wants to be sure that they have fully exited all levels of dreaming, they check their totem to be sure.

        I’m not getting this. Why could one not dream an accurate totem?

    1. notabanker

      When the sitting President dedicates a prime time speech to the Nation to do nothing but call a large portion of his political foes enemies of the state, I’d say we are pretty much in one now. Only the boiled frogs can deny it.

      1. Objective Ace

        Doesnt a civil war (or any war) require fighting over geography? Given the overlap in where classes live, I dont see how an actual war could take place. Now, a revolution or failed revolution.. maybe

        1. Wukchumni

          Some years ago the bravest man i’ve ever known (he taught 7th grade science for 30 years) handed out blue folders to his students and a number of the Hispanic students declined because that hue is the Sureños purview, no way a Norteño is gonna be seen with anything besides red.

          We’d need corresponding uniforms in red & blue so as to differentiate the warring sides were we to go toe to toe against one another.

          Most of the Walter Mitty Sobchaks have already bought guns & ammo on their own Dime, Wal*Mart could have a sale on BDU’s

  14. shinola

    From the article about Emporia (Ks) State University planning suspend tenure – a bit of a “tell”:

    “…An ESU alum and former college tennis star, (Ken)Hush had served as interim president since November 2021. Hush is a former CEO of Koch Carbon and, according to the Federal Election Commission database, a contributor of tens of thousands of dollars to KochPAC, which predominately funds conservative candidates for Congress.”

    “Plutocrats posing as libertarians strike again!” Coming soon to a university near you!

    1. The Rev Kev

      I know that I should not be surprised but I am. One day somebody is going to calculate the damage that the Koch brothers have done to America and it is going to be immense. Here you can see it with public education and Kansas may not know it yet but there is a helluva bill that will be coming their way down the track.

      1. nippersdad

        Our Congressman routinely flacks for prospective laws, prolly over seventy percent of his posts, that come straight from one Koch associated group or another. I don’t know how many times I have pointed this out and asked how he expects to drain a swamp that is already virtually wholly owned by Koch Enterprises when he keeps finding new and exciting ways to sell the rest of it to them. And he is on the Ways and Means Committee.

        It really is wild how few of those on his page ever realized how bought our Republican pols are. They go on about evil elites, and then salivate whenever their own variety coughs up a hairball.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          When Republicans go on about evil elites, they mean the ” superior culture elites” that Spiro Agnew referred to as “effete snobs”. Republicans mean the “people who think they are better than you are because they drink a more expensive brand of craft beer”.

          And the Republicans are very good at putting the spotlight on Effete Snobs in order to keep the cameras away from Power Money Elite Masters. Mark Ames once wrote an article about this, among other things.
          ( this version is clunkier than other versions, requiring clicks from page to page to page, but I offered this version because this version contains pictures.)

          Our mission, should we decide to accept it, might well be to live as many shreds of an elitny lifestyle as we can on our modest prole wages.

  15. Thistlebreath

    Sudeikis is fumfering. The reality on set is that only when key cast is stricken does production halt.

    Crew, who outnumber talent 20:1?

    Earlier this summer on a big TV series, over two dozen crew in turn were there one day and then “they’ll be back in 10 days.”

    Production legally can’t disclose anyone’s health status but common sense can.

    As long as studios/networks/streamers can’t strong arm talent into accepting maskless crews, a low xmission rate will prevail. IMHO, fear will trump greed for a while yet. No star, no show, no dough.

  16. griffen

    Mr market having a sad to end the week, the newly installed CEO of Federal Express delivered a numbingly bad and downbeat announcement last night. And this morning the debate continued; will the FED / FOMC deliver on promises previously stated and continue to raise their targeted short term rate during the remainder of 2023. I caught some interviews yesterday, and the talking points were all over the map. Yes, maybe raise by 0.25% and another more wild eyed was for raising by 2.0% ( that was a much older veteran of Wall Street who thought so ).

    We’re going into a ditch or it appears that way. Hopefully it’s just a short term and smaller ditch. Erstwhile the American retiree or intrepid saver can enjoy higher interest rates…nope I can’t complete that sentence.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Ever so often this place surprise me, and seeing Stålenhag’s tweet is one such surprise.

      Ouch! We try to surprise you every day! First Stålenhag reference, 2017:

      And a post from 2020 (thanks for reminding me of this topic, I need to look into it again).

      1. digi_owl

        I guessed i missed those thanks to taking a sabbatical from reading the site for various reasons.

        I’m just used to seeing his images in a very different setting than deep diving politics and economics.

        Then again a different time this site surprised me was when Yves casually mentioned reading Slashdot.

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    Reading about the Bonnie Henry experiment in BC, the first thing that came to mind was . . .

    ” Tuskegee Experiment. It’s not just for Black people anymore.”

    Could Bonnie Henry and the whole Bonnie Henry deliberate mass-infection ring be brought up on Nuremberg-type Crimes Against Humanity charges? If someone suggested that to relevant parents’ groups in BC, would they try to find a way to get such charges laid and such trials going?

    1. JBird4049

      I have seen some people excuse the actions of themselves and others as only following orders; the courts at Nuremberg, some of which were American, explicitly forbade human medical experiments especially for the uninformed and involuntary, and the excuse of “just following orders”; I think that the precedent of trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the laws for which are still on the books, might be an impetus by the elites to resist reforms. It is much like with Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express or the various crimes by the various American gendarmeries. Because everyone is guilty of actual crimes, not to mention moral or ethical violations, they cover for each other. Everyone follows omertà or everyone falls, but true reforms means regime change with much of the current and recent ruling elites including the wealthy elites, their servants the modern nomenklatura, and nomenklatura’s servants in the current apparatchiks.

      Our eugenicist Bonnie Henry will be protected by the system as much of it consist of her fellow génocidaires as well as the corrupt, the featherbedders, and even pedophiliacs all using omertà and long knives to protect themselves.

      It is interesting that some people are using the excuse of protocol, standards, and following the rules or orders instead of the law, or justice, or of right and wrong as justification for their actions. The more extreme their justifications, the less Constitutional or even ethical it seems to be and yet the courts all find new twists and rationalizations to accept them. As does Congress and the parties.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Our eugenicist Bonnie Henry will be protected by the system

        See, thanks to Covid activists in Canada, we have a worked example of what 21st Century eugenics looks like on the North American continent. Now we can take that example, and see how it applies in the United States. At a different scale and with more complexity, no doubt.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        We may have reached the point where the only way to reverse this is by “an uprisal and an overthrowal” ( in the deathless words of Spiro Agnew) against the entire system and all the system lords who make it up . . . .risking all the random anarchaos which would come after.

        The only hope for such an uprisal and an overthrowal having any chance of meeting success would be if the uprisalists and overthowalists were so heavily armed as to force the police and armed forces to have to make an actual choice of which side to support. Since the reason the PMC is so very in favor of “gun control” is that the PMC fears personal retribution in the wake of such an uprisal and an overthrowal, perhaps liberadicals and leftists should rethink their support for “gun control”?

        Of course after such an uprisal and overthrowal, political power would be rolling around in the street like a hand grenade with the pin pulled. The very bravest “new revolutionaries” might well dare to pick it up at their own risk.

        As a gun non-owner myself, I still hope the situation can shake down to some decline-and-fall type of stability without a years-long festival of all-on-all violence.

        As the saying goes . . . ” You ain’t seen a thing till you’ve seen a White riot”

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    I am just guessing that the hummingbird in the antidote photo is a ruby throated hummingbird.

    Nurses recently showed me an always-running live video-feed of hummingbird feeders somewhere in California. Here it is.
    The hummingbirds which are brick-red-brown with an undertone of orange all over their bodies are probably rufous humingbirds. But there are at least one or two other kinds which I do not know.

    The same nurses said there is an equivalent sort of video-feed from feeding birds in South Africa but I haven’t been able to find it.

    1. ambrit

      Beautiful creatures.
      The hummingbirds have just recently begun frequenting the feeders we have hanging in our front mini-porch. Where they have been all summer I know not. That almost palpable hummm when they fly close to you is one of nature’s wonders.
      We have suddenly been seeing several creatures that were previously circumspect in their habits this year. Some garden snakes, some Eastern Glass Lizards [a variety of legless lizard,] praying mantis, cicadas, Mississippi Kites [a variety of bird of prey,] and, ta daa, Canada Geese.

  19. JBird4049

    >>>I keep using the word “eugenics.” I don’t think it’s extreme.

    I keep having a hard time doing so despite my knowledge of Western eugenics. Doing it with Covid means practicing eugenics on themselves as well as their own and their friends’ children.

    Covid and Monkeypox are too new for any population to develop any resistance to it compare to others, unlike with the Europeans compared with the American natives post 1492. Even then it was just resistance, not immunity as vast numbers of Europeans still died from diseases as Smallpox, but just not as much proportionately compared to many other populations. Much like how Europeans were less resistance to African diseases, but Africans still die from diseases like Malaria in large numbers.

    Developing resistance to disease in a population often involves gigantic amounts of death and is often only resistance, not immunity, to a disease. Just look at the various populations resistant to malaria. It often involves the creation of diseases like Sickle Cell, which themselves are pretty bad, to develop some resistance, and not immunity, to another worse disease.

    So when a population, say of the Europeans are more resistant to smallpox or a disease like syphilis, aka the Great Pox, becomes less awful, it is only after a lot of suffering. This is obvious from only a little reading.

    Unless the proponents of our “response” are too ignorant, arrogant, stupid, suicidal, foolish, or…?

    Or maybe it really is a Death Cult?

      1. JBird4049

        Well, I kind of agree, but I am still hopeful, perhaps foolishly, in finding something other than self applied eugenics or death cultism as the explanation.

        1. ambrit

          Well, applying Occam’s Razor to the question leaves us with Stupidity and or Incompetence as an explanation for the phenomenon.
          Alas, there is much evidence for the more than ample provision of both Stupidity and Incompetence among our ‘Ruling Elites.’ The phenomenon of the “True Believer” comes into play here. The quasi religious nature of the True Believer phenomenon brings the ‘cultic’ aspects of this question to the fore.
          If, as the evidence suggests, our ‘Dear Leaders’ are functioning using ‘Magical Thinking’ as the basis of their decision making processes, then I’d go ‘long’ apocalypse.
          See you on the other side.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It is a Death Cult.

        Cults tend to be led by a charismatic figure. I don’t see one. (I don’t think Fauci, et al., qualify.) Something more complex is at work.

        I see the attraction, though. I truly do. Watching people rush off to infect themselves and others…. It hasn’t been an easy year.

        1. ambrit

          From what I have been seeing and hearing in my perambulations out and about the half-horse town we are performing our “internal exile” in, I will venture to say that “The Economy” as perceived by the ‘average’ citizen, er, consumer, fulfils the role of “Charismatic Figure.” This might be imposed on the public from “above” through messaging on the various ‘media’ that constitute today’s “information agora.” As such, it serves to mould the perceptions and then the actions of the mass of the people.
          Short form, “charismasticity” is determined by external influences today. No inner life required.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I keep having a hard time doing so despite my knowledge of Western eugenics. Doing it with Covid means practicing eugenics on themselves as well as their own and their friends’ children.

      I understand the argument but I think you’re assuming rationality, undistorted perceptions, and understanding of how Covid is transmitted and its dangers.

      The PMC rushed to infect themselves at conferences and gatherings, but I believe they genuinely felt themselves to be invulnerable, because (a) “vaxed and done”, (b) a belief that there are the (superior) healthy and the (deservedly) unhealthy*, and (c) because of simple class interest (in the same way that “let me see you smile” is an expression of class power, teacher to student, pastor to parishioner, etc.). In terms of transmission and health issues, I believe they were “high on their own supply.”

      I will be happy to substitute something like “stochastic eugenics” if you find that more accurate; that does capture the denial and shifting of responsibility, while retaining the malevolence.

      NOTE * Here they ape the 1%,

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        “Stochastic eugenics” comes closer to capturing the not-strictly-demographic-group-targeted nature of the long rolling killoff.

        I would offer a further refinement for possible consideration as to what to call it. “Darwin-filter eugenics.” They want to reduce the world population by about 7 billion people or so over the next 100 years. But they don’t want to bear the personal and ethical “Nazi Onus” of being the ones to decide whom in particular to kill. So they want to set up social landscapes of impersonal hardship and deprivation and random death-o-genesis that the entire population of Earth will be forced to pass through, and they will let those people who are “fit to survive” select themselves and prove their fitness-to-survive by surviving. In essence, they say. . . ” Who shall live? Who shall die? Let Darwin decide.” If some of their own social class number, even their very own family members, die as part of the Long Killoff, they will write those persons off as having been too weak in one way or another to deserve to survive, and they will celebrate the survivors among their own social class members and betters as contributing to the leaner, tougher, meaner selected-for-superiority Ruling Elite of the Future.

        So since The Ruling Elites don’t care personally which particular people die as long as enough people die that the Ruling Elites achieve the overall number of casualties they wish to achieve over the next 100 or so years, I think the phrase “Darwin filter eugenics” is a good phrase for how they are doing what they are doing. Anyone who makes it alive through all the Darwin filters that the world’s population will be forced through will have shown their eugenetic superiority to survive by surviving.

        This would explain the Non-Chinese elites hatred for the ChinaGov for clearly not following the same Darwin Filtration program for its own population. They really don’t want the “surviving billion” people to be mostly only Chinese with almost nobody else at all, and a Great China Elite able to force all the other Elites of the world into obscure retirement.

        It would also explain their non-censorship and suppression of the survival-enabling information permitted to be posted here at Naked Capitalism. In their Darwinistian belief system, anyone who can survive by using that information shows that they have earned and deserved their Darwinian Right to Survive.

        ” The God of Selection is a Callous God, and Its first True Prophet was Darwin.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Unless the proponents of our “response” are too ignorant, arrogant, stupid, suicidal, foolish, or…?

      Our elites are stupid; this is the stupidest timeline. (They’re not stupid about some things; they’re very good at retaining power.)

      I just can’t look at the many, many policy decisions made along the way, especially since the Biden administration, without considering malevolence as a factor. For example, I don’t think there’s an question that a second Operation Warp Speed for nasal vaccines, treatments, and prophylactics generally would have been not only successful but very popular politically. (It would have prevented, to pick one example, the Biden administration’s hard-won reputation for paralyzed decision-making and stasis over the last two years.) One might add the destruction of the domestic mask industry, failure to regulate ventilation under OSHA, CDC’s many, many abominations, the adoption by the Biden Administration of “let ‘er rip.” I’m sure other examples of malevolence could be added. And of course we were promised that mRNA vaccines could be easily updated, like software, but now the variants being addressed are on their way to decline.)

      It’s the famous question, first asked around 2003 during during the Bush Administration: Are they stupid, or evil? I think the answer is both. One certainly doesn’t preclude the other.

  20. Tony Wikrent

    So, looked to see who is on the Kansas Board of Regents.


    Carl recently concluded a highly successful 42-year career with BNSF Railway, the largest freight railroad network in North America with more than $20 billion in annual revenues and 35,000 employees. He was promoted through roles of increasing responsibility from his initial hire as an Intern to Executive Vice President of Operations and then to Chief Operating Officer following the $44 billion sale of the company to Berkshire Hathaway in 2010. He eventually rose to lead all aspects of the organization as Chief Executive Officer in 2014 and was invited by BNSF to continue to serve on the Board of Directors after his retirement from executive duties in 2020.

    Throughout his tenure at BNSF, Carl delivered consistent financial outperformance. He increased annual revenues by 64 percent from $13.6 billion in 2009 to a peak of $22.3 billion in 2019 while doubling the net margin. He improved return on invested capital (ROIC) from 9.1 percent to 15.2 percent during the same time period.

    The faculty and staff of the state’s universities should probably chum up to some railroad workers. Actually, they should have years ago.


    Jon Rolph is President and CEO of Thrive Restaurant Group, which owns and operates over 100 restaurants including Applebee’s, Carlos O’Kelly’s, HomeGrown, and Bake Sale Treat Parlor. The restaurants are in 12 states across the Midwest and Appalachia.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      When corporate “leaders” get on university boards, they inevitably* attempt to optimize curricula and student population for their own business interests — thereby cementing their business models in place and creating barriers to entry to competitors who would overthrow or substitute for it. So, one more symptom of stasis.

      * Well, unless they’re also Christianists.

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    About the common loon call recording . . . in the far background can sometimes be heard other very distant bird-sounds, including some kind of thrush singing several times. It can best be heard in that part of the tape where the woman is describing the circumstance of her recording of the loons. The thrush sings several times in the far background while she is talking. Maybe someone who knows the thrushes of BC can tell us what kind of thrush it is that is singing.

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