2:00PM Water Cooler 9/19/2022

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Patient readers, I had to get up and walk around after I read that Biden quote. More shortly. –lambert

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

House Sparrow, Stewart Park, Tompkins, New York, United States. “Calls from a group going to roost in a cedar next to the boathouse.”

* * *

Politics

“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

“President Joe Biden: The 2022 60 Minutes Interview” [CBS News]. I expressed my amazement a few times that all Biden had to un on was Ukraine and Covid. It looks like that’s what he’ll do:

Scott Pelley: Mr. President, first Detroit Auto Show in three years. Is the pandemic over?

President Joe Biden: The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s– but the pandemic is over. if you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it.

The pandemic is not over. Case numbers are at a plateau and wildly understated. Deaths, though not as understated, are also at at a plateau. Community transmission is high in 83.33% of the country. And if one variant has good immune escape, we’re in for a bad winter. Biden is flat out lying, openly. Biden is lying worse than Bush did with “Mission Accomplished“:

For all his buffoonery, “The Former Guy” at least gave as Operation Warp Speed. What has Biden given us but 500,000 more deaths, the destruction of public health, the destruction of non-pharmaceutical measures like masking, and a complete lack of prepartion for the next respiratory pandemic, which will surely come? [pounds head on desk].

And, oh yeah, people aren’t wearing masks because propaganda works and the Biden Administration worked vigorously to discredit them. And as for “Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape,” I guess that makes the 4 million people out of work from Long Covid nobodies. Come to think of it, that’s pretty accurate. All I can say is it would be a damn shame if Queen Elizabeth’s funeral was a superspreading even for all the world’s leaders. OK, I’m stopping here before I stroke out. Commentary:

Or wear masks, or fight for ventilation, etc. (Blue is, well, very much from San Francisco. But she writes an excellent weekly wrap-up on Covid.) Unless there’s, well, resistance:

What staffer let this happen?

“Team Biden’s Mysterious U.N. ‘Reform’ Push” [National Review]. “When world leaders converge on Manhattan next week for the U.N. General Assembly’s annual high-level week — filled with speeches from heads of state and a circus of diplomatic side events — one of the Biden administration’s top priorities will be to fundamentally reshape the way in which key U.N. institutions work. Top officials say that their aim is to modernize U.N. institutions so that Russia and like-minded dictatorships cannot shield themselves from accountability.” • Idea: Let’s ask China and India (and Indonesia) what they think.

2022

* * *

“NBC News poll shows where the midterm ‘persuadables’ live: These voters could decide the midterms” [NBC]. “There are persuadable voters everywhere, but the NBC News poll has consistently shown they are most heavily based in outer suburb counties. Those 1,100 counties hold a plurality of the nation’s up-for-grabs electorate…. This year the NBC News poll finds that 43% of all persuadable voters live in those outer suburbs, far more than other areas. Together the nation’s big city urban core counties and the near-in urban ring counties hold about the same number of persuadable voters. Rural counties only hold about 12% of the nation’s persuadables. And that outer suburb base for persuadable voters is not new. Going back to 2010, those outer ring suburb counties have held 42% or 43% of the persuadable vote. In short, the cities belong to the Democrats and rural America belongs to the Republicans, but the space between is where you are most likely to find voters who are weighing their alternatives.” • AZ-01 (Phoenix), CO-08 (Denver), MI-07 (Lansing), NC-13 (Raleigh), MN-02 (Minneapolis-St Paul).

PA: “In private memo, Fetterman confronts a new obstacle: Getting outspent” [Politico]. “John Fetterman continues to lead Mehmet Oz in the polls, but the Pennsylvania Democrat’s Senate campaign is privately sounding the alarm that things could change if he continues getting outspent on TV. In an internal memo on Tuesday to big-dollar donors, Fetterman campaign manager Brendan McPhillips warned that Oz and his Republican allies are together investing more in television ads than Fetterman and Democratic super PACs that support him. ‘I am writing with a wake-up call,’ said McPhillips in the message, which was obtained first by POLITICO. ‘In the last three weeks alone, Republicans have spent nearly $12 million dollars — significantly outspending us and out-communicating on the airwaves. We cannot allow this to continue unabated.'” • Commentary:

2024

“Biden says he’s running. Democrats still have their doubts” [The Hill]. President Biden is telling everyone he plans to run for a second term, but with about 50 days to the midterms, most Democrats aren’t sure he will follow through on that plan. Cedric Richmond, the former Democratic lawmaker and Biden White House official, said definitively this week that it’s on when it comes to Biden and 2024. ‘He’s running and we’re building an infrastructure for him to run and win,’ Richmond told NBC. ‘Right now, it’s all an early investment in 2024 while we’re helping 2022.'” • Ukraine and Covid. It’s a mortal lock.

“Is Ron DeSantis the Future of the Republican Party?” [New York Times]. “Early in the Tallahassee transition, DeSantis burrowed into some essential reading material: a binder enumerating the powers of the office. ‘He was soaking that up,’ Scott Parkinson, the transition’s deputy executive director, told me. DeSantis’s aim, he has said, was to understand all the ‘pressure points’ within the system: what required legislative cooperation, what he could do unilaterally, which appointments needed which approvals.” • I wonder if Trump did that; I doubt it. If he had, he would have been “The Smart Trump.”

“Scoop: Team Trump sees special master as deep FBI skeptic” [Axios]. “Raymond Dearie’s appointment as special master to review records the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago was a positive development for former President Trump, whose lawyers recommended him. But their call for the low-profile New York judge was befuddling given Dearie has no apparent connection or loyalty to Trump. Two sources with direct knowledge of the closely held deliberations now tell Axios what Trump’s legal team was thinking: Lawyers and advisers to the former president believe Dearie’s role on the secretive court that approved controversial warrants used to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2016 and 2017 made Dearie a deep skeptic of the FBI.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

* * *

The Pied Piper strategy is a two-flavored self-licking ice cream cone:

And defeat can taste just as sweet as victory, ka-ching!

“How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step” [New York Times]. • The endless spectacle of PMC liberals, especially in the NGOs, never taking responsibility for anything. My only question is “Why now?” Turns out that codifying Roe, and then putting Obergefell in reconciliation, but not Roe, isn’t making the Dems internal polling among women pop the way they thought it would?

Republican Funhouse

“The story of the praying Bremerton coach keeps getting more surreal” [Seattle Times]. “When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Bremerton assistant football coach Joseph Kennedy had the right to pray on the field, it wasn’t widely understood then that the court had also ordered the school district to give him his job back.” But Coach Kennedy has been too busy cashing in: “Instead, as the Bremerton Knights were prepping for the season in August, Kennedy was up in Alaska, meeting with former Vice President Mike Pence and evangelist Franklin Graham. On the eve of the first game, which the Knights won, Kennedy was in Milwaukee being presented with an engraved .22-caliber rifle at an American Legion convention. The weekend of the second game, which the Knights also won, Kennedy appeared with former President Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. He saw Trump get a religious award from a group called the American Cornerstone Institute. Coming up this month, Kennedy’s scheduled to give a talk as part of a lectureship series at a Christian university in Arkansas. ‘Place a PR/Publicity Request,’ invites his personal website, where he’s known as Coach Joe. It’s an increasingly surreal situation for the Bremerton schools. They were ordered to ‘reinstate Coach Kennedy to a football coaching position,’ according to court documents. But the now-famous coach is out on the conservative celebrity circuit, continuing to tell a story about ‘the prayer that got me fired’ — even though Bremerton never actually fired him.'” • Which is what they should have done.

“The end of the debate? Republicans draw the curtain on political theater” [MSN]. “he vast collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington contain two brown wooden chairs. Their backs have labels explaining that they were used by John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon in “the first face-to-face discussion between presidential candidates” at the CBS television studio in Chicago in 1960…. In short, the first televised presidential debate. And where America led, the rest of the world followed, copying the model of gladiatorial political combat as the ultimate format to help voters make up their minds…. But heading into the US midterm elections, the debate appears to be in decline, a casualty of fragmented digital media, a deeply polarised political culture and a democracy losing its sense of cohesion…. It is a sorry state of affairs for a time-honored tradition.” • The idea that today’s debates have anything to do with tradition is ludicrous. They’re scripted spectacles where the questions are often known in advance. They give the impression that the press somehow represents the people, when in fact the press is there to display its hegemonic power. The sets look like game shows for a reason. If the current debate format is destroyed, I will be happy. Give the entire concept back to the League of Women Voters, and let’s have some sobriety.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“COVID is still killing hundreds a day, even as society begins to move on” [Los Angeles Times]. What does “society” “begins to move on” even mean? More: “After a death, doctors usually hash out whether it was avoidable. Now it’s happening hundreds of times a day, ‘and there’s no interest in doing a postmortem of the problem,’ said [Eric] Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. Instead, the impulse is often to wave it away. When someone loses a loved one to COVID, ‘often the first thing that’s asked of you is either, ‘Were they vaccinated?’ or ‘Did they have a preexisting condition?” said Urquiza of Marked by COVID. ‘I think people are asking that because they want to reaffirm their own sense of safety. ‘Oh, Kristin’s dad died because he had x, y or z — I don’t.” Morales said that people tend to assume that cancer alone took his mother. When he told a friend that she ultimately died after getting COVID, the friend was surprised. ‘Really? COVID? How did that happen?’’ the friend asked Morales. ‘People aren’t dying of COVID anymore.” • Yes, they are. Story after story after story.

Pro-tIp:

Exactly as with protests; wide angle shots, or shots from a height, are best. Never trust a close-up shot! They’re for dramatic effect, not reporting.

“Blaming the Deep State” [Democracy]. Readers know I oppose the “Deep State,” taking the Madisonian view that the State as a flexnet or ensemble of competing factions (“working toward” capital, but competing nonetheless). Nevertheless, I’m going to skip right to the end, where we find the author bio: “TAMARA COFMAN WITTES is a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.” Dudes, come on. It’s not funny anymore.

Good question:

I don’t know. I wish I did. Across the political spectrum, this is a non-issue. (Of course, if you view the elites as eugenicist, everything falls into place: It’s not an issue for either party because both parties approve of the policy outcome.)

#COVID19

• ”St. Louis research fuels COVID-19 nasal vaccine rollout in India” [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. Not, you will notice, in the United States. “The science behind India’s new nasal vaccine for COVID-19 has its roots in St. Louis. India-based drug company Bharat Biotech announced Tuesday that its nasal vaccine had received emergency approval. The vaccine technology was licensed from Washington University. Dr. Michael Diamond, a Washington University professor and viral immunologist, said he began working on the vaccine in the spring of 2020 with fellow Washington University professor Dr. David Curiel. The world’s scientific community was just mobilizing on its massive, urgent search for methods to treat and prevent the new coronavirus. Diamond and Curiel knew many other researchers were racing to develop vaccines, but they didn’t see anyone else pursuing oral or nasal vaccines…. The nasal vaccine’s approval comes as the U.S. rolls out doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which have been modified to specifically target the most recent variants of the virus. And a similar update for the nasal vaccines may already be on the way. ‘We’ve already done it,’ Diamond said. ‘We’re testing them now.'” • Good for Bharat, which has not, however, released its data.

• ”COVID-19 Booster Nasal Vaccine Study for Adults Who Have NOT Had COVID-19 Infection” [Cincinnati Childrens]. “Cincinnati Children’s is conducting a research study, sometimes known as a clinical trial or clinical study, to learn about a new investigational nasal COVID-19 vaccine that may offer protection from COVID-19…. [Participants Have not had a COVID-19 infection and have had 2 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.” • Two years in….

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: Gerson stans:

A duckbill. Anybody ou there use Gersons? I love my 3M Aura, but any increase in breathability would be a plus. I can just hear the slogans: “Breathable, but not gappy!” (leaving the visuals to your imagination). Why has this never been done? We used to be able to do advertising in this country:

• Maskstravaganza: Good idea, like Amtrak’s Quiet Cars:

I take this as a sign that the antimask death cult ridiculousness has reached some sort of limit. At least in New York (which, granted, had a terrible early experience and adopted collective discipline in response), there is actually a market for spaces where lack of infectiousness is a priority. Now put CO2 meters everywhere, like the Japanese do. So people can “make their own choices.”

• Maskstravaganza:

• Maskstravanganza:

A keeper….

• I hate to think like this, but somebody else besides me sees the demand for smiles as a power trip:

* * *

• “To boost or not to boost” [Eric Topol, Ground Truths]. “The reluctance for Americans to get a booster shot has been striking. The United States currently ranks 73rd among countries for its uptake of boosters at 33% of its population. All peer, rich countries around the world are at least double that rate. Countries ranking above the US now include Rwanda, Uzbekistan, Iran, Honduras, and Azerbaijan. Seemingly, you’d have to work very hard to show up this poorly as the country that first validated the vaccines, manufactures them, and has had such a surfeit supply that it has >50 million shots it can’t get anyone to take. Nonetheless, it has maintained optimism and purchased 171 million new Omicron BA.5 variant bivalent shots. There are many reasons for this abject failure—a veritable booster botch—stemming back to the beginning of the US booster campaign plan in August 2021, with mass public confusion induced by a different plan announced every few days and infighting between the different governmental agencies (CDC, FDA, NIH, WH) as to the appropriate strategy. This was compounded by the very late endorsement that boosters are necessary for all adults that did not come until the end of November, even though the data from Israel and other countries were clearcut many months prior to that juncture. Delays, confusion, and poor messaging got boosters off on the wrong footing. All the anti-science, anti-vax, mis- and disinformation hasn’t helped at all, and has never been effectively countered.”

* * *

• Seatbelts, too:

Of course, in the 90s we weren’t a failed state.

* * *

• “Natural immunity”:

Speed limits take away your freedom.

* * *

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 ~69,000. Today, it’s 62,400 and 62,400 * 6 = a Biden line at 374,400. (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.

• “Covid testing providers scale back despite worries of another winter surge” [NBC]. “Covid testing labs and at-home test manufacturers have been downsizing after government funding cuts and waning demand, despite concerns from health officials that the country could face another winter surge in infections…. Just how severe that wave will be will depend on whether the virus mutates to evade immunity from previous infections. But should the U.S. see a surge similar to last winter’s, Americans could find themselves in a similar testing bind, with at-home tests quickly selling out and people encountering long waits for laboratory PCR test results, public health officials said….. The number of reported Covid cases is currently a quarter of what it was at its peak last winter. But Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, estimates that only 4% to 5% of infections are being reported, because so many are uncovered through at-home tests and aren’t reported to public health departments, or they aren’t being detected at all. He expects to see infections start to increase next month and continue to rise through the winter.” • 4% to 5%? I’m gonna need a bigger chart. On the bright side, it looks like Johns Hopkins is cutting down on reporting at exactly the right time!

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

Encouraging.

The West:

What’s going on out there?

Wastewater

Wastewater data (CDC), September 13:

Lambert here: I added all the dots back in. The number of grey dots really concerns me. How can all the sites for international air travel center New York be grey (“no recent data”). And California’s pretty gappy, too.

For grins, September 11:

Positivity

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

-2.4%. Good news.

Transmission

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 16:

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 16:

Sea of green!

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

Variants

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.

NOT UPDATED 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.

• BA.2.75.2:

And but:

BA.2.75.2:

Deaths

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: 1,078,663 – 1,078,018 = 645 (645 * 365 = 235,425, 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.

• “Hundreds of Americans Will Die From COVID Today” [The Atlantic]. And the deck: “Is this what normal now looks like?” • Yes, if the liberal Democrats have anything to do with it.

• Excess deaths, Asia vs. the Imperial Heartland US and UK:

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 35 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 15 at 1:37 PM EDT. Mr. Market having a sad. –>

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Thanksgiving Pre-Game Festivities

I know it’s early. Nevertheless:

The Gallery

We could use more of these:

Zeitgeist Watch

A home away from home:

Our Famously Free Press

Love the typewriters:

But today, half of ’em would be spooks… .

Class Warfare

“Where Are Family Offices Investing Globally?” [Forbes]. “UBS’ Global Family Office Report 2022 surveyed 221 single-family offices worldwide, with average assets under management of $2.2 billion. Cumulatively, these family enterprises oversee wealth totaling $493 billion. The report showed that in 2021, 57% of an average family office portfolio was funneled into traditional asset classes: equities (32%), fixed income (15%), and cash (10%), while 43% was directed toward alternative asset classes, comprising private equity (21%), real estate (12%), hedge funds (4%), private debt (2%), gold/ precious metals, commodities, arts and antiques (1% each), and less than 1% for infrastructure. What UBS found, however, was a strategic shift in how family offices are channeling their wealth. A growing trend in private market investments is more evident than ever, specifically towards private equity—the only asset class that gained steady allocations year after year. Why? About 74% of the respondents who are likely to allocate more investments in this alternative asset over three to five years believe it will overtake public markets in the future. ”

I suppose a consumer boycott isn’t the best thing for the workers, but sheesh:

Is this even legal?

News of the Wired

Travel tip:

* * *

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:

And a close-up:

Re Silc writes: “Mount Lenox, MA.”

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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.

84 comments

  1. antidlc

    • “Hundreds of Americans Will Die From COVID Today” [The Atlantic]. And the deck: “Is this what normal now looks like?”

    What is profoundly disturbing is the “normalization” of thousands of deaths each week. How many more deaths will be “normalized”?

    https://twitter.com/wsbgnl/status/1493479145627480067

    Slavitt: “Look, I don’t think they [elected officials] want to say that but I do think that implicit in this is an acceptance that there are going to be, at least in the US, 200 to 250,000 deaths a year at baseline.”

    If we are willing to “accept” 250,000 deaths a year, are we willing to “accept” 300,000? 500,000? 1 million? 2 million?

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      “How many more children have to die before you support infection control?” [winged angel in lab coat condescends to Earth, leaves querent a note on anti-counterfeit prescription paper] ‘All of them’ (original)

      Reply
        1. Jen

          And yet these stable geniuses still can’t figure out where the workers have gone, and resent having to pay those that remain more money.

          Reply
      1. Objective Ace

        There will always be immigrants waiting to come in. If we want population growth we’ll still have population growth

        Reply
    2. Glen

      It’s not how many, it’s who. If we had a couple billionaires, Congresscritters and the like go, well, the billionaires would order a lock down.

      Otherwise, the sky’s the limit.

      Reply
      1. antidlc

        Maybe if Covid took out a lot of prominent people, would that be enough?

        I don’t wish illness, death, or injury on anyone, but I think that’s what it would take.

        Reply
        1. nippersdad

          “I don’t wish illness, death, or injury on anyone,…”

          Unfortunately, I do. I really, really do. In my fantasy world it feels like I should no longer have to be interested in what Pelosi, Schumer, Clinton, Biden………and a million other like people are up to anymore. Their fifteen minutes should have been up thirty years ago. If one little illness would just whisk them away it would be much better for my mental health. It no longer shocks anyone in my circle that I feel they should be forced to personally test their theories of governance on the Eastern Front. They are just that bad.

          As Madeleine Albright once said, it would be a small price to pay….

          Reply
          1. Pat

            I am also someone who wishes death and long Covid on some of our richest and more prominent citizens, and influencers. Once the right people have to fear the results of our non pandemic pandemic, it will be taken seriously. Even if that means a Kardashian might do something for the public good for a change.

            Unfortunately, the response to the pandemic and the further destruction of public health make it clear that over priced useless medical is all that Americans will be allowed no matter what, despite a brief period where there was free testing and subsidized sick leave.

            Reply
            1. Late Introvert

              I think this pandemic has reached deep into the lives of our dear leaders, with their glad-handing and swapping unmasked emissions. It might take a few years but I have great hope that many will be dropping off like flies. It could not happen to a nicer group of folks.

              Reply
    3. JAC

      Hey, if any of you interested in starting a business, I’d advise you to open up a gluten-free shop making anything.

      Both me and my friend, both had COVID, both get wrecked when we eat gluten now. And if you search online like at REdfit, you’ll see it anecdotally all over the place as well.

      The loosening of the intestinal walls by Covid seems like it’s letting more proteins into the body causing immune reactions. I have a feeling this could be a cause for many peoples long Covid.

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        I have a great GF cupcake recipe.

        BTW, thanks for the FODMAP recommendation ystrdy which we are investigating. We have a ton of tinnitus here, as well as scary serious brain fog, and we make large historical instruments (must use power tools) and tune them for a living. Or well, we did. Brain fog and tinnitus have put us out of biz for now.

        Reply
    4. The Rev Kev

      We live in not so much the stupidest timeline but the neoliberal timeline. People will be sacrificed by the hundreds of thousands annually in order not to inconvenience markets. Here is Oz you could be forgiven thinking that the pandemic is already over and that we are back to norbal.

      Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        Surprised you actually still wrangle HTML, good to know. You should consider (not giving work!) doing an article about your process and tools. I for one, would be interested.

        Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    Mini-bars

    Circa 1982, i’m in Tasmania @ the Wrest Point Hotel Casino gambling (that is after i’ve rented a threadbare black coat so as to be allowed entry like half the punters in the place) and the casino was only open from 3 pm to midnight or something like that, and most games of chance ended badly for yours truly over a less than spectacular run that lasted too long but not this go round and as they declared action over for the night I was up a grandido.

    I went to see about getting some shuteye and ventured down to the front desk, paid cash & got a room and to my surprise there were about 25 little bottles of booze just sitting there with no prices or menu, and never having seen a mini-bar before, thought to myself, is this a great country or what?

    In my mind it was a ploy to get me schnockered and lose my winnings back over the tables the following day but i’ll fix them and just take em’ all to be drank at my leisure, ah ha!

    So I left Tassie the next day never to return, with the bottles tinkling against one another in my suitcase as I made good my getaway.

    Reply
  3. Jason Boxman

    Sadly I gave up on my Gerson 3230s. I had to wear a mask badger over them to get a seal. I’ve since moved on to electrometric.

    Reply
    1. anon in so cal

      Does anyone wear ReadiMask’s strapless NIOSH N95s? They come in small and large, are very breathable, and do not have straps. If I have to get near anyone whose status I do not know, I wear a small inside of a large, then put a Bonafide Harley L-188 on top, with masking tape around the perimeter.

      Reply
  4. Questa Nota

    Whither influenza over the past few years?
    My med provider sends out seasonal urgent reminders about that flu shot, or that pneumonia shot or whatever.
    With all of the Covid news, the old flu seems to have bugged out.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      The cold-and-flu industry wants us unmasked. We almost eliminated the flu over the pandemic via NPIs, and nature “must” be preserved in order that those who harvest it can profit.

      Reply
    2. britzklieg

      I can not vouch for the quality of statnews’ reporting but I remember the issue below on flu vaccines from when it was first reported. I did find this about statnews which suggests some credibility:

      https://adfontesmedia.com/stat-news-bias-and-reliability/

      “Reliability: 44.09

      Bias: -2.64

      Reliability scores for articles and shows are on a scale of 0-64. Scores above 40 are generally good; scores below 24 are generally problematic. Scores between 24-40 indicate a range of possibilities, with some sources falling there because they are heavy in opinion and analysis, and some because they have a high variation in reliability between articles.

      Bias scores for articles and shows are on a scale of -42 to +42, with higher negative scores being more left, higher positive scores being more right, and scores closer to zero being minimally biased, equally balanced, or exhibiting a centrist bias.”

      as for statnews 2015 take on the annual flu vaccines

      https://www.statnews.com/2015/11/11/flu-shots-reduce-effectiveness/

      Getting a flu shot every year? More may not be better

      “…a growing body of evidence indicates that more may not always be better.

      The evidence, which is confounding some researchers, suggests that getting flu shots repeatedly can gradually reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines under some circumstances.

      That finding is worrying public health officials in the US, who have been urging everyone to get a flu shot each year — and who still believe an annual vaccination is better than skipping the vaccines altogether.

      Dr. Edward Belongia is among the scientists who have seen the picture coming into focus. He and some colleagues at Wisconsin’s Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation reported recently that children who had been vaccinated annually over a number of years were more likely to contract the flu than kids who were only vaccinated in the season in which they were studied.

      “The vaccine was significantly more effective … if they had not been vaccinated in the previous five years,” Belongia, an epidemiologist, recounted in a recent interview with STAT.

      Vaccines work by exposing the immune system to a part of a disease agent — in the case of influenza, to two proteins on the exterior of the viruses — that has been rendered harmless. The vaccines tell the immune system to be ready to mount an offensive if it encounters the specified invaders.

      The immune system then produces stores of protective ammunition — antibodies — it can use to fight off infection.

      With many vaccines, an additional dose or two boosts the levels of antibodies in a person’s body. Some vaccines actually require multiple doses to be effective.

      So the fact that repeated vaccination against flu might diminish rather than enhance the vaccine’s protection is perplexing.”

      (and no, I am not I am not historically anti-vax and have had the flu vaccine with regularity)

      Reply
    3. curlydan

      Flu season was bad in Australia earlier this year. I’d be careful this year. I’m still debating whether or not to get a flu shot. If I’m N95’ing it, I’m not sure if I need one.

      Reply
      1. CanCyn

        Since we’re left to figure it out for ourselves, I have decided to get a flu shot in early October. They do give your entire immune system a bit of a boost and since flu season has been bad in the southern hemisphere it feels like the right thing to do. I am thrice COVID vaccinated and, according to our Ontario health officials, overdue for my fourth. Since I am willing to mask up and limit my people contact, I will wait to see what the fall brings but I am really reluctant to get another COVID shot. In Ontario they have released the New MNR with the first COVID strain. The one with versions 4 and 5 is supposedly coming soon. We shall see.

        Reply
  5. Ranger Rick

    Re: differential labor treatment: some bright spark must have figured out that while the union contract is set in stone, they can still do whatever they want to the not-unionized, including improving their benefits. (That sounds really weird in my head, like a joke where a villain describes doing something good with dread in their voice.)

    I’m not sure where the benefit is for this. The not-unionized employees are pretty clearly only getting the improved benefits because the union exists, so Starbucks is still furthering the union’s goals, but the union won’t get those benefits until their contract is up for renewal and they can negotiate for it. Short term pain for long term gain, I guess.

    Reply
    1. digi_owl

      I suspect they are trying to seed division among the union members.

      Kinda like how a big chain will drive mom and pop stores out of business by selling at a loss, and then crank the prices back up and then some once they are the only choice in town.

      Reply
    2. Left in Wisconsin

      It’s been a management tactic since forever to give benefits to non-union workers and slow walk union negotiations so as to discourage unionization and solidarity in the workplace. I would be shocked if Starbucks wasn’t paying top dollar to the best anti-union legal minds it can find. Good luck to the plucky workers taking on Starbucks store by store but the odds are still heavily against them.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    It was quiet-too quiet on the My Kevin (since ’07) front. Putsch yourself in his position though, just somehow try and remain gaffe-free until after the mid-terms and he can wield the gavel as Kev Mo-Hunter hunter.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Kev Mo-Hunter. I saw him in a little jazz club many years ago. Blues meets folk meets ??? Not what I’d expect to go down easy in your CVBB.

      Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Breathability may not be your friend. It may signal poor fit, as in leaks On a small scale test, the 3M Aura was the only mask to fit all the people 100% who used it (admittedly 5 but similar small samples for other masks and fit was way less than 100% on all of them).

      Reply
      1. Jorge

        For breathability, I prefer the Aurora AM99 powered mask- it breathes for me. Charges from a USB cable, 8 hours on a charge. About $50 on “the big online site”.

        I bought one months ago after seeing Steve Keen wear one in a picture on his Patreon- he learned about them from an ER nurse in The Netherlands.

        It’s built by some company in Shenszen (??) that otherwise makes cool running lights for your truck.

        Cheers!

        Reply
        1. Basil Pesto

          I got this for my parents last year, ex-smokers who struggle to breathe. The mask itself is not great but I wonder if the air intake blows away any air that might be leaking in from the sides.

          Reply
  7. britzklieg

    Topol’s last paragraph in “To Boost or Not To Boost” finally gets to the point:

    “Now is the time to stop chasing SARS-CoV-2 and start mounting an aggressive get- ahead strategy. There’s the intertwined triad to contend with: more immune escape, more evidence of imprinting, and the inevitability of new variants that are already laying a foundation for spread. Enough of the booster after booster, shot-centric approach; it has been formidable, lifesaving, sickness-avoiding, and essential as a bootstrap, temporizing measure. Now we need to press on with innovation for more durable, palatable, and effective solutions. They are in our reach.”

    Reply
    1. Chas

      This article lists a dozen or so countries with higher rates for booster jabs than the USA, such as Iran. But are all those countries using the Phizer or Moderna boosters?

      Reply
    2. Basil Pesto

      I’m glad Topol has had a Come-To-Jesus moment of sorts, I really am, but it was exactly his sort of uncritical vaccine boosterism (no pun intended) that set the tone and has got us into exactly this position.

      He also fails to acknowledge or understand that Covid is already a solved problem, and is ignoring that for the sake of mystical, capital-intensive and capital-rewarding innovation, the exact kind of thinking that has made this endless shitshow possible.

      Reply
  8. LG Fields

    Bob Wachter UCSF head honcho gets the
    Sociopath award for his advice that indoor
    dining is now safe. He reminds me of
    McNamara spewing together mind numbing
    Statistical bull. “Light at end of tunnel”
    Today it is covid coffins 1 million +. 400+
    Daily. Wachter is full of it!

    Reply
  9. Louis Fyne

    —then replace them with the same items bought at a local store so I don’t have to pay mini bar prices.—

    Many, most?, minibars are automated with sensors such that you pick up the item, it triggers a sale. Unlike the past where a person physically checked the inventory.

    Just saying.

    Reply
  10. ACF

    fwiw, in campaign field work, “persuadable” is a term of art, it means a voter who is going to vote/highly likely to vote, but isn’t a blind partisan, they’re someone you can ‘persuade’ to vote for your candidate.

    It is a sea change in field work focus, shifting from turning out everyone likely to vote for your candidate once in the voting booth, block captain style. Turning out everyone likely to vote for you if only you can get them to vote at all requires more work (unless your candidate simply inspires them to show).

    In my opinion, having done field work, the focus on persuadables is misguided. Sure, by all means identify them and try to persuade them. But, e.g., if you’re a Democrat, organizing on campus to turn out low-frequency young voters, e.g., or urban neighborhoods that tend not vote, can meaningfully increase the size of the electorate favoring your candidate. Yes, in aggregate you might get more bang for you buck for each persuadable persuaded—one potential voter in your column instead of your opponents, and they’ll turn themselves out, more or less–as a tactic it narrows the electorate and weakens the party overall

    Reply
  11. Wukchumni

    In the case of Joe declaring victory over Covid, shouldn’t the interview have been held with a hospital as a backdrop with a banner featuring a wind swept old glory in the background, proclaiming:

    Admissions Accomplished

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      In the past few months, demented old Joe goes off-script and will say truthful things like ‘Yeah, we are going to totally regime-change Putin’ only to have his WH panic-stricken staff walk back what he said within hours. The big tell is that I don’t hear about his staff walking back that line at all about the pandemic being over.

      So now waiting for the Zombie virus outbreak to start.

      Reply
  12. zagonostra

    I oppose the “Deep State,” taking the Madisonian view that the State as a flexnet or ensemble of competing factions (“working toward” capital, but competing nonetheless).

    The Deep State, Establishment, Ruling Class, monied interest, permanent bureaucracy, etc… is exactly defined by the lack of “competing factions.”

    It, they, have a consensus surrounding supporting needless wars, denying universal healthcare coverage, meaningful maternity leave, censoring social media, and so on. This “blob” (again there are endless names you can ascribe to it) exist, it’s real. They don’t even try and conceal it anymore, they are very open about their existence a la the “Great Reset,” Their being open about it has, in that crazy alternative media world, been called “The Revelation of the Method.”

    Reply
    1. hemeantwell

      They may have a consensus on militarizing international relations, but that doesn’t mean they have a stable consensus on which countries to prioritize and which mix of policies to pursue. Everything I’ve read about national security policy indicates that it tends to a dogfight. In the current situation, in which we’re witnessing a very large-scale reformation of global alliance blocs, it must be like someone dumped a truckload of rottweilers into a yard full of dobermans.

      Reply
  13. semper loquitur

    When my president says he is running, he is running! You can take it to the bank! Hopefully, Dr. Jill and the Wardrobe Response Unit are on hand to assist…

    Reply
  14. Mark K

    Regarding the press pool at Woodstock:

    Lambert: “But today, half of ’em would be spooks…”

    Come to think of it, how sure are that it wasn’t the case then?

    Reply
    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      I recently watched the Michael Wadleigh ‘Woodstock’ movie, and also a good documentary about it, and one thing I noticed was the incredible amount of garbage everywhere. And not just in the scenes after the festival was over. There was just refuse strewn everywhere. I thought of this when I saw the press area pic. Same thing!
      Didn’t seem to fit the whole back to the garden, aquarian thing. Or maybe they just never got the garbage bins delivered in time.

      Reply
      1. Bugs

        People littered like crazy back then. It took a long public service campaign and fairly harsh fines to get it under control. Throwing trash out your car window, for example, was just normal. As far as the hippies go, I remember visiting a commune with my grandfather and the place was a mess. If you watch some TV series from the 60s-70s and if there are location shots, you’ll see plenty of it strewn around. We have made some progress in the past 50 years…

        Now get off my lawn.

        Reply
        1. JohnA

          In one episode of Mad Men, Dick had bought a new car and took the family out for a picnic. At the end of the scene, Dick tossed an empty can onto a huge pile of their trash they just left on the ground and then drove off.
          Mid 60s behaviour in a nutshell.

          Reply
    2. Mikel

      How do you think they got all of that LSD? ;)
      They were somewhere.

      Wasn’t it written once that a certain agency was experimenting with the drug as a way to incapacitate armies? Why not something being suspected of being a movement as well?

      Reply
    3. ambrit

      I was looking for Hunter S Thompson in that press pool. I really did laugh at the Madison Avenue looking man at the front table. Suit and tie to cover Woodstock. I wonder what he said about it?

      Reply
  15. JBird4049

    I was promised a grown up response to #COVID19. #CovidIsNotOver https://t.co/mgO4865100

    I am wondering if ACT UP was doing the same protests today over Covid as in did for AIDS thirty-five years ago, would it be declared a terrorist organization? Or MAGA, anti-vaccine, or just Deplorable?

    Reply
  16. Bazarov

    I found the Gerson mask flimsy and prone to a poor seal. They felt cheap, fell apart after just a few wears.

    The Moldex 2200, however, *chef’s kiss*–a single mask lasts weeks. The seal is ironclad. A tradeoff in its design, however, is that the nose is not adjustable, which means a face either too big or too small could be a difficult fit. In light of this, Moldex offers different sizes. I use the medium.

    Reply
    1. mahleria

      Another Moldex Airwave fan here. It fits me best of all N95 masks I tried (and I tried more than a dozen). I can almost never adjust the nose bridge to completely avoid leaks, even with 3M Aura. Moldex fits without adjustment. It has served me well in dozens of risky situations (flights, working in office, classical music concerts). I have not gotten Covid yet (and I’ve been testing myself and family early and often).

      I also found Gerson subpar, but I really like Jackson Safety/Kimtech/Kimberly Clark duckbills. It is not sturdy (makes Gerson look super solid), but it is one of the few masks where I can successfully adjust nose bridge. They are indeed super breathable. Downside is that you can only wear it once, but there was a sale where they ended up being less than 20 cents each.

      Reply
  17. The Rev Kev

    “Team Biden’s Mysterious U.N. ‘Reform’ Push”

    So old Joe want to have to need only a majority vote for the Security Council. That is like the same push in the EU to need only a majority vote in their decisions. And I guess that the guise is to make it “more democratic” – which somehow always makes it more authoritarian. So perhaps that is why the push about this mass graveyard the past few days. To leverage it to help make this ‘reform’ in the UN Security Council. Countries like Russia and China would be nuts to agree and I bet that there are a few score nations working behind the scenes to spike this idea.

    Reply
  18. Michael Ismoe

    Ukraine and Covid. It’s a mortal lock.

    You forgot January 6th – the greatest threat to democracy since the Civil War —- since Shay’s Rebellion — of all time, ever.

    Bonus Points if you can guess which job Liz Cheney gets on January 4, 2023.

    Reply
  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    About . . . ” I suppose a consumer boycott isn’t the best thing for the workers, but sheesh: ” . . .

    What if it were a consumer transfer-cott? As well planned as any military campaign?

    Some cities/towns which have Starbuckses also have other coffee places as well. Do those coffee places have a better pro-worker policy on time missed due to covid must-isolate? If they do, what if that part of the Starbucks customer base in those particular towns/cities which cares about Covid-safety were to all as a group transfer their coffee-buying to an agreed-upon NoStarbucks coffee place and co-ordinate getting some of the workers away from the offending Starbucks over to the other coffee place?

    Starbucks will not accept unionization. Starbucks will not accept worker safety. The choice Starbucks gives us is to either submit to Starbucks’ will or exterminate Starbucks from existence. A number of planned transfer-cotts would help exterminate Starbucks from existence step by step by step.

    Reply
    1. Late Introvert

      I guess my problem is people who can’t just make coffee at home. Faster*, cheaper, better. Not if you like yours more sugar than water and beans, and I understand if you’re too busy, or if you have a great coffee shop, but Scambucks?

      *calculate travel and wait time in a bad vibe place

      Reply
  20. outside observer

    Does the NC covid brain trust have any thoughts about the effectiveness of novavax wrt current circulating variants?

    Reply
  21. ambrit

    Concerning the “Pandemic is over” messaging: Dr. John Campbell, the UK based teaching nurse has been “Warned” by YouTube to stop saying unapproved things or face suspension. The manipulation of the information presented to the public is serious business. It’s the sort of thing that happens in Authoritarian Regimes the world over.
    The Great Firewall of China now runs through everyone’s head.
    See, beginning at the 9:10 mark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjG3VoX3Ldk
    The poor man is trying to survive in a hostile environment. Come to think on it, we all are.

    Reply
  22. Cat Burglar

    Lambert is having fun with us, posting the article by the Brookings writer from Democracy – A Journal Of Ideas.

    You have to get the range first. The NYT called it, “the little magazine that incubated Team Biden.” Only 500 subscribers. A founding editor left to become Associate Director of Obama’s OMB, and Michael Tomasky edits it now. The writer is also Biden’s nominee for Assistant Administrator of USAID’s Middle East program, and joined the board of the National Institute for Democracy in 2014. If there is a Deep State, she’s a lifetime member, a policy executive of the government, and helps run the color revolution cutout agent. Impressive.

    Not that we can expect this article to be The Blob’s candid judgement on the Deep State as an idea — this is a propaganda piece to show the troops what the line is and where the limits are. I love to imagine her being asked at some party to come up with an article about Trump’s use of the idea, and her cranking it out in a couple hours over coffee on a Sunday morning. There’s no analytic definition of Deep State (academics will do that for you), and not even an attempt to show the idea is false or problematic (academics will do that for you, too; and to even consider the idea would be to grant it legitimacy) — nope, this is about ideas as political tactics. It’s like an Op-ed piece.

    “Professional federal bureaucrats can actually make an elected leader more effective in implementing his agenda for the public interest — as long as he isn’t breaking the rules.” As the US violations of the UN Charter in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria; the felony violations of FISA and the 4th Amendment; the torture violations of the Anti-Torture Act; and the routine secrecy over the intelligence community budget in violation of the Constitution all show that they can help you break the rules, too! You could think that the Blob is full of idiots for pumping out stuff like this, but then you remember this is what they pump out for idiots. That is, for us.

    A lot of it is the pseudo-psychological claptrap (“the cowboy-hero imagery of our collective culture”) that media consultants deploy.

    It is amusing that the farthest left political figure she mentions is Elizabeth Warren — Sanders and Gabbard are consigned to invisibility. Her curious account of the historical events that gave the concept of the Deep State traction in the US is brilliant — while appearing grant concerns over little things like dirty wars to sucker in progressive readers, she’s really showing that these are just occasional regrettable accidents that no serious analyst would construe as products of a system — now everybody knows where the limits are, but the rubes will still vote for our guy. Oh yeah, and the Deep State isn’t an idea, it is a conspiracy theory or a narrative.

    Translating a Beltway color-revolution writer’s pidgin can be fun. She advocates for more transparency to build trust in government, like when Bank Bailout Barry said his administration would be “the most transparent ever.” And boy was it! Kill List Tuesdays. When she writes, “a post-Trump democracy will need much more transparency as rules are made and enforced in order for the public to learn to once again trust the process,” I read that the rules will be clear and that little people stepping out of line will be certain of punishment.

    While articles like this are valuable for political hazard evaluation — people like the writer often kill for reasons of state, or create plans to do so — ultimately, they do not deserve respect; they should be laughed at and ridiculed for what they are.

    Reply
  23. Jason Boxman

    A Rural Doctor Gave Her All. Then Her Heart Broke.

    In 1981, two psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, published a paper in the Journal of Occupational Behavior on “the burnout syndrome.” The authors, Christina Maslach and Susan E. Jackson, set out to measure the degree of stress and emotional exhaustion experienced by professionals like doctors, social workers, therapists and teachers who, they noted, must constantly navigate complicated interactions “charged with feelings of anger, embarrassment, fear or despair.”

    Their questionnaire — the Maslach Burnout Inventory, or M.B.I. — is now a scientific standard. Among physicians, a high score on the M.B.I. has been linked to increased errors, decreased patient satisfaction and quick turnover. Burned-out doctors show higher rates of cardiovascular disease, substance abuse and divorce. A 2017 study of about 5,000 physicians published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that some 44 percent exhibited at least one sign of burnout. A 2019 report by the National Academy of Medicine pointed to studies showing that 54 percent of physicians and nurses were burned out.

    (bold mine)

    I wonder if IM Doc can relate to any of the passages in this story? We really destroy physicians in this country. The profiled physician graduated with 180k in debt. (Although I’ve read that in the NHS, they destroy their physicians as well.)

    Reply
  24. Wukchumni

    The only place there isn’t inflation is in fishwraps, the SF Chronicle wants 99 ¢ for 6 months, while the going rate @ the LA Times is a buck for 6 months.

    This is a headline in the LAT today, do they have any editors there?

    Op-Comic: My home country was devasted by war. The world has moved on, but I haven’t

    Reply

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