2:00PM Water Cooler 9/29/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle on the backlog from yesterday, and so the Politics section is thin. More very shortly, since I must move on to another task. –lambert UPDATE All done!

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Bobwhite (Eastern), Kickapoo Cavern State Natural Area, Edwards, Texas, United States. “‘Bobwhite’ call from unknown location in brushy field with scattered oaks.” With many other birds, too.

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“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

“The logic of the insult and the logic of scientific classification represent the two extreme poles of what a classification may be in the social world.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Manchin permitting reform cut from spending bill” [The Hilll]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Tuesdasy asked Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to remove permitting reform language from a stopgap government funding bill, bowing to the reality that there was too much opposition to the measure. Republicans in the Senate along with Democrats in the House had voiced opposition to the language, and Senate Democrats did not appear to have the 60 votes necessary to proceed. Liberals disliked the measure for policy reasons. Republicans also voiced policy disagreements, but many also said they didn’t want to provide Manchin with a big political win.” • That’s a damn shame.


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“Today’s Headlines: Will the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection drive voters’ decisions?” [Los Angeles Times]. “Locally and in the national political landscape, the U.S. Capitol siege on Jan. 6 has been a minor subplot. There have been efforts to elevate it in the public’s consciousness as a do-or-die moment for democracy. Still, there is little sign that the riot, along with the continued denialism about former President Trump’s 2020 loss and the precariousness of future elections, will mobilize people to the polls or determine a swing voter’s pick. Punditry about this dynamic tends to be blunt: Americans are moving on, Americans don’t care. But the Capitol violence still resonates in subtle but discomfiting ways, invoking strong opinions from voters. Many, though, see those views as distinct from their choice at the ballot box — and they have little appetite to see Jan. 6 become election-season fodder.” • That’s a damn shame. And the Democrats worked so hard!

“The Races That Will Decide Control of the House” [David Wasserman, NBC]. “Republicans need to pick up at least five seats to take back the House in the midterm elections, and three structural advantages have made them favorites all along: redistricting, Democratic retirements and candidate recruitment. But as the abortion issue and a renewed focus on former President Donald Trump have awakened and energized Democratic voters, the fight for the House has become increasingly competitive. Those structural factors once looked like a small component of potential big gains for the GOP in a “red wave” scenario. Now, they look like a valuable insurance policy for Republicans in a fluid political environment, without which House control might be a toss-up.” • The six types: white-collar suburbs, blue-collar bastions, hispanic majority battlegrounds, MAGA primary takeovers, vulnerable GOP incumbents, and hotly contested open seats.

“These 14 Republican Candidates Actively Fought to Overturn the 2020 Election” [Bloomberg]. “But 14 Republican candidates are all in and have been since 2020, putting money or muscle into efforts to overturn the presidential results. They are running for key positions, including in the battleground states of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that will determine the winner of the 2024 presidential race… Some are running ‘Hail Mary’ campaigns in heavily Democratic areas…. But some have a real shot at victory. Polls show Republican Adam Laxalt in a close race with Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada. Races for House nominees Jim Bognet in Pennsylvania and J.R. Majewski in Ohio are considered toss-ups, and Derrick Van Orden is rated ‘leans Republican’ by the Cook Political Report. And one recent poll put Finchem ahead by 5 points over Democrat Adrian Fontes. ‘Based on the sheer number of them, some of these folks are going to win,’ said Matthew Weil, director of elections at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a D.C. think tank.”

“Democrats’ strategy to boost MAGA Republicans is vindicated” [MSNBC]. • Well, MSNBC. I think this strategy is madness. At some point, after all this evolutionary pressure, a “MAGA variant” will emerge: Smart, competent (at what they do), charismatic, and electable. Elections provide such pressure anyhow, but why intensify risk of ruin in the long term for wins in one election cycle? (The consultants will say, “Don’t worry, we pick the dumb losers.” First, 2016. Second, that strikes me as a variant of “We can control them.” No, you can’t.)

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Capturing Trump’s appeal in a one-liner.

WI: No:

I said “No.”


“Trump Is Single-Handedly Keeping QAnon Alive” [Vice]. “But two years on, QAnon, the conspiracy movement that posits that Trump is waging a secret war against the deep state to unmask a global pedophile ring run by Democrats and Hollywood elite, is still alive, and recently refreshed. They now have a new leader in Trump: the former president has spent the last few months re-energizing the community and giving them hope once more that all their wildest fantasies will come true.” • Makes ya wonder what’s in those documents at Mar-a-Lago. Kidding! Honestly, though. I don’t much like QAnon. But if we’re talking about the damage cults can do, QAnon hasn’t done a millionth part of the damage that mainstream macro has.


No. 2020 was it. There’s no politician I respect moreMR SUBLIMINAL What a loaded statement! but Sanders has had his shot. We need to make space for new people to emerge.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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.

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“Democrats’ Stock Ban Bill Has a Major Loophole, Ethics Expert Says” [ReadSludge]. “Democratic House leaders have unveiled the text of their bill to ban congressional stock trading. While the bill appears strong on many levels—it would force divestiture and it would apply not only to members of Congress but also their spouses and dependent children, among others—it contains language that could potentially open up a major new loophole. Under the bill, which they are calling the Combatting Financial Conflicts of Interest in Government Act, members of Congress, senior legislative branch employees and other covered individuals would be barred from owning or trading any securities, futures, cryptocurrencies, or other covered assets. In order to comply with the law, they would have 180 days after the law is signed, or after joining Congress, to divest of these banned assets or place them in a blind trust…. The bill states that ‘Notwithstanding [the requirements of the 1978 law]’, a qualified blind trust could be any ‘form of a trust approved by the Office of Government Ethics, Judicial Conference, House of Representatives, or Senate through rulemaking or by majority vote for its respective jurisdiction.’ The bill puts no further restrictions on how these government bodies could redefine what would qualify as a blind trust.” • Wow. It’s hard to see why Pelosi would let such a bill go forward. I mean, “if it’s in my freezer, it’s in a blind trust,” right?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Republican Model and the Crisis of National Liberalism” (PDF) [Benjamin Studebaker, Cosmos + Taxis]. “This special issue is interested in whether libertarianism and classical liberalism can be productively paired with interstate federalism to overcome the limitations that state sovereignty imposes on them. To answer that question, we must first ask whether it is possible to separate the liberal project from the project of the nation-state. In this paper, I’ll argue that liberalism and nationalism have become intimately bound up with one another. Each depends on the other, and both chafe at the limitations this imposes. These limitations largely take the form of state capacity problems. The nationalists are unable to achieve the kind of internal social unity they desire because of liberalism, and the liberals are unable to build the kind of global capitalism they want because of nationalism. In recent years, the two projects have tried to go their separate ways. But because they are fundamentally codependent, this separation is extraordinarily fraught. On its own, nationalism pursues a level of social unity that is fundamentally unsustainable. This results in the proliferation of an ever-larger array of group identities, each of which demands a level of political representation that it cannot enjoy consistently alongside the others. Sectarianism and gridlock follow. At the same time, liberalism is unable to generate political legitimacy as a standalone theory. It must be partnered with a compelling theory of political community.” • Worth a read! And “National Liberalism” is certainly an interesting formulation! Reminds me of something….

“Kagan v. Roberts: Justices Spar Over Supreme Court’s Legitimacy” [Wall Street Journal]. “Liberal Justice Elena Kagan, in a series of public appearances, said the court’s conservative majority had diminished the high court’s credibility with decisions that track Republican priorities. Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking at a separate event, retorted that the court’s decisions have no bearing on its legitimacy as it carries out its mandate to interpret the Constitution. On his side was fellow conservative Samuel Alito, author of the majority opinion in the term’s landmark case overturning Roe v. Wade, eliminating a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.” • Every decision after Bush v. Gore is fruit of the poison tree, so far as I’m concerned.

“Michigan election worker charged with tampering with voting equipment” [Reuters]. ” An election worker in a western Michigan town has been charged with two felonies after allegedly inserting a flash drive into a computer containing confidential voter registration data during an election in August, local officials said on Wednesday…. The incident highlights the so-called ‘insider threat’ risk that has increasingly worried election officials, especially in battleground states like Michigan where falsehoods about systemic voter fraud in the 2020 election have spread most widely.” • Again, again, again: The problem is not “equipment.” The problem is that there is equipment.

Big if true:

I have enormous respect for Stoller, dating back many years. But “[E]veryone relies on the U.S. government and its basic reliability and honesty”? Really? (Of “government”: I would distinguish the civil servants, those DCBlogger calls worker bees, from those participating in the “flex nets” — bought the book, have to reread it — at the elite level. The Pelosis, the Faucis, the Bidens, the Clintons, the Trumps, the Clappers, and their entourages and courtly retainers. Sloppy class analysis, I know!)


• “Far-UVC (222 nm) efficiently inactivates an airborne pathogen in a room-sized chamber” [Nature]. Missed this when it came out in March. The Abstract: “Many infectious diseases, including COVID-19, are transmitted by airborne pathogens. There is a need for effective environmental control measures which, ideally, are not reliant on human behaviour. One potential solution is Krypton Chloride (KrCl) excimer lamps (often referred to as Far-UVC), which can efficiently inactivate pathogens, such as coronaviruses and influenza, in air. Research demonstrates that when KrCl lamps are filtered to remove longer-wavelength ultraviolet emissions they do not induce acute reactions in the skin or eyes, nor delayed effects such as skin cancer. While there is laboratory evidence for Far-UVC efficacy, there is limited evidence in full-sized rooms. For the first time, we show that Far-UVC deployed in a room-sized chamber effectively inactivates aerosolised Staphylococcus aureus. At a room ventilation rate of 3 air-changes-per-hour (ACH), with 5 filtered-sources the steady-state pathogen load was reduced by 98.4% providing an additional 184 equivalent air changes (eACH). This reduction was achieved using Far-UVC irradiances consistent with current American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists threshold limit values for skin for a continuous 8-h exposure. Our data indicate that Far-UVC is likely to be more effective against common airborne viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, than bacteria and should thus be an effective and “hands-off” technology to reduce airborne disease transmission. The findings provide room-scale data to support the design and development of effective Far-UVC systems.” And importantly: “All methodologies designed to reduce airborne transmission of diseases such as COVID-19 would ideally be used within a layered approach involving, as appropriate, vaccination, social distancing, masks and ventilation.” Commentary:

Finally, something to go long on! Readers, known issues?

• Some nice compliments:

Lambert here: Will somebody click on the “September 25, 2022” link and say if the Twitter login still appears? (My recollection is that Twitter can rewrite the values in the embed code to eliminate this sort of workaround, but I could be wrong!)


No, not “anxious.” That “living in fear” talking point drives me up the wall. I would say “rationally apprehensive,” indeed “living with Covid,” but determined to live. I’m tired of being part of a maligned outgroup.* That’s something I don’t want to “live with,” and I don’t think anyone should. Now, whether “survivor mindset” translates into behavior in the political realm, that I can’t say. (On “paradoxically,” the account has clarifying remarks.) NOTE * Pretty ironic for a WASP!

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• The sick and sickening farce at CDC infection control continues:

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• I made this joke awhile back, but this version is better:

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• A good thread on long Covid:

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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 ~56,100. Today, it’s ~60,000 and 60,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 336,600. (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 the first surge in New York, in the spring of 2019 (after which the Times printed the images of the 100,000 who died, considering that a large number, as it was at the time).

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.

• ”Rising Covid-19 cases in the UK may be a warning for the US” [CNN]. “There are signs that the United Kingdom could be heading into a fall Covid-19 wave, and experts say the United States may not be far behind. A recent increase in Covid-19 cases in England doesn’t seem to be driven by a new coronavirus variant, at least for now, although several are gaining strength in the US and across the pond. ‘Generally, what happens in the UK is reflected about a month later in the US. I think this is what I’ve sort of been seeing,’ said Dr. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at Kings College London.” And: “Spector runs the Zoe Health Study, which uses an app to let people in the UK and US report their daily symptoms. If they start to feel bad, they take a home Covid-19 test and record those results. He says that about 500,000 people are currently logging their symptoms every day to help track trends in the pandemic. Spector says the study, which has been running since the days of the first lockdown in England in 2020, has accurately captured the start of each wave, and its numbers run about one to two weeks ahead of official government statistics.” • Wow, what a concept. If only we could create apps in this country!

• UK hospitalization is up:

• Note also UK hospital-acquired cases:

Recall that CDC’s guidance gives no reason for hospitals to treat Covid as airborne. So we could expect the same here.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

The West:


Wastewater data (CDC), September 27:

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 25:

NOTE To get the CDC data pages to load, I have to turn off my VPN. Thanks for the security breach, CDC.

An alert reader (please take a bow in comments) suggested taking a look at the MWRA data from the Boston area, and lo and behold:

The CDC wastewater data confirms; Middlesex County (Boston area) has a red dot. The red dots are clickable:

Interestingly, all the red dots are in the Northeast.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 21:



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.)

Lambert here: I have to say, I’m seeing more yellow, which continues to please.

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 23:

I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers. Those two red areas in Northern Maine and upstate New York are both on the way to Quebec, Canada.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 23:

Not a sea of green.

NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays. But not, apparently, yesterday!


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 10:

Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its appearance in CDC data below.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), September 3 (Nowcast off):

Two highlights: BA.4.6 has assumed a slightly greater proportion (more in the NowCast model, which I refuse to use). What about BA.2.75?

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 (September 23)

CDC Region % Total States in Region
Region 2: 1.3% (0.8%) New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Region 8: 1.3% (0.0%) Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 9: 1.2% (0.0%) Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….
Region 6: 0.6% (0.0%) Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 3: 0.5% (0.4%) Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia
Region 4: 0.4% (0.4%) Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Region 5: 0.4% (0.7%) Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 7: 0.3% (0.3%) lowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Region 10: 0.3% (0.0%) Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington
Region 1: 0.1% (0.7%) Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

LEGEND: Previous CDC variant release shown in parentheses, (thus).

Not encouraging. Of course, the absolute numbers are small, but we’ve seen that movie before. I especially don’t like the jump in Region 2, because the New York area is “spready,” based on past history. Region 1, on the other hand, dropped.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,083,798 – 1,082,030 = 1,768 (1,768 * 365 = 645,320, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though 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.

• The above chart is the death rate (i.e., am I in more or less danger if I get sick). Here are daily deaths, from the same source:

These do track the decline in case counts, which suggests the shapes of the curves are right, at least (even though case counts are severely understand, and death counts are jiggered, with all the “with” and “from” stuff, plus subjective decisions by whoever signs the death certificates).

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 16,000 to 193,000 in the week that ended September 24, the lowest since the end of April and well below market expectations of 215,000, pointing to an increasingly tight labor market and adding more room for interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.”

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy contracted an annualized 0.6% on quarter in Q2 2022, matching the second estimate, and confirming the economy technically entered a recession, following a 1.6% drop in Q1. Private inventories and fixed investment were the main draggers in Q2.”

Profits: “United States Corporate Profits” [Trading Economics]. “Corporate profits in the United States rose 6.2 percent to a fresh record high of USD 2.53 trillion in the second quarter of 2022, less than previous estimates of a 9.1 percent surge and following a downwardly revised 2.5 percent drop in the previous period.”

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Tech: “The Uber Hack Exposes More Than Failed Data Security” [Bruce Schneier, New York Times]. “urrent economic and political forces incentivize companies to skimp on security at the expense of both personal and national security. If we are to ever have a hope of doing better, we need to change the market incentives. When you’re a high-tech start-up company, you are likely to cut corners in a lot of areas. It makes business sense — your primary focus is to earn customers and grow quickly enough to remain in business when your venture capital funding runs out. Anything that isn’t absolutely essential to making the business work is left for later, and that includes security culture and practices. It’s a gamble: spending money on speed and features rather than security is a more likely path to success than being secure yet underfunded, underfeatured, or — worst of all — a year later to market. Security can be improved later, but only if necessary. If you’ve survived the start-up world and become a runaway success, you’ve had to scale to accommodate your customers or users. You’ve been forced to improve performance and reliability, because your new higher-profile customers demand more. You’ve had to make your internal systems work for your hundreds and maybe thousands of employees. You’re now an established company, and you had better look and act that way. But in all of that, you’ve never had incentive to upgrade your security. The quick-and-dirty systems you built in the beginning still work, and your customers or users don’t know what’s going on behind the curtain. Your employees are expected not to tell anyone, like chefs being told to stay in the kitchen. And truth be told, it’s expensive and time-consuming to rebuild everything from ground up with security in mind. This is something I see again and again in companies, and not only in start-ups.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 15 Extreme Fear (previous close: 19 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 29 at 1:04 PM EDT.


“Sabra will be Marvel’s latest attempt at ‘woke imperialism'” [Asa Winstanley]. “Israel lobby groups celebrated as Marvel Studios announced in September that an Israeli “superhero” will appear in the 2024 movie Captain America: New World Order. The character of Sabra will be played by Israeli actor Shira Haas, a former volunteer with the Israeli army’s theater troupe. In the comics, Sabra is a Mossad agent. The film could help the Israeli spy agency recruit sources and assistance in other countries, Mossad veteran and now film consultant Avner Avraham told CNN.” • Awesome. Maybe Sabra can overthrow Jeremy Corbyn (fictionalized, of course). (Filing this here, since Marvel seems games-adjacent to me.)

Sports Desk

“Chess Champion Breaks Silence On ‘An*l Bead’ Cheating Controversy” [Kotaku]. “[T]he chess police tasked with identifying cheating use a mix of tools, including computer programs that analyze players’ behavior and look for anomalies. Basically, if someone plays too well, the software will flag it and the experts investigate further. Computer scientist Ken Regan, who developed the program used by the International Chess Federation (FIDE), checked Carlsen’s now-infamous loss to Niemann and found nothing. Danny Rensch, a chess master and executive at Chess.com, told the Guardian his platform has better anti-cheating models finely tuned to each grandmaster’s player profile. “Once in a while anomalies do happen,” he said. “But if you have a lot of smoke, a lot of evidence, and a lot of reason to believe in the DNA of who someone is, and you walk into the room and they just say, ‘I just lifted that fridge with one arm,’ you’re like, ‘Fucking bullshit, motherfucker.’ Is there a lot of smoke in the Niemann case? Rensch isn’t saying. At least not yet. Niemann has continued to deny the allegations, although he hasn’t yet responded to Carlsen’s latest salvo. But the 19-year-old has broken at least one promise. When the drama first started, he promised to play his next match naked to prove he wasn’t hiding anything. To everyone’s relief, he did not make good on that threat.” • Hmm. Still no actual evidence, interestingly.

Groves of Academe

“An in-person conference drew me out of isolation—and re-energized my Ph.D.” [Science]. “So, soon after the conference, I moved my entire work set up to my desk on campus. I now interact with other students regularly while working in our shared office, crossing paths in the hallways, or eating lunch. These little interactions are not only good for my mental health and well-being, but they are also helping me move my research forward more rapidly and think about what I want to do after I graduate. For instance, one conversation alerted me to a new method I could use in my research. Another conversation, which included senior Ph.D. students, helped me think through different career paths and how internships might help me choose one. I’ve spent my career so far in academia, but some of the other students had industry experience and I found it helpful to hear their perspective. Although hybrid events and flexible work options are beneficial for many reasons, my in-person conference experience helped me figure out that working almost entirely from home wasn’t right for me. I’m hopeful I’ll be able to carry my newfound excitement forward in my research now that I’m surrounded by researchers again.” • I searched for the word “smile,” and didn’t find it. Still, this reads like “back to the office” propaganda to me; and now that both Nature and Science have entered the political arena, that’s not implausible. (And the style: The air of ingenuous sincerity gives me the creeps.) Here’s the illustration. of scientists coming out from behind their computer screens:

Not a mask in sight. No windows, either. Good job, Science!

The Gallery

Can any readers tell from the style that this was painted in 1965, and not much earlier?

Class Warfare

“Whose pay should be cut in economic crises? Consumers prefer firms that prioritize paying employees over CEOs” [Cambridge University Press]. From the Abstract: “Four experiments examine the impact of a firm deciding to no longer pay salaries for executives versus employees on consumer behavior, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. … Four experiments examine the impact of firm pay decisions for executives versus employees on consumer behavior. A firm’s commitment to paying employees their full wages leads to the most positive consumer reactions (Study 1). When evaluating CEO and employee pay strategies simultaneously, consumers respond most positively to firms which prioritize paying employees, regardless of their strategy for CEO pay. Moreover, these positive perceptions are mediated by perceptions of financial pain to employees, more than perceptions of CEO-to-worker pay ratio fairness (Studies 1 and 2). We replicate these effects in an incentive-compatible study (Study 3). Beyond the context of COVID-19, consumers continue to react favorably to firms that maintain employee pay, but there is an added benefit of cutting CEO pay and lowering the CEO-to-worker pay ratio.” • Interesting! Of course, the implication is that CEOs have the good of the firm at heart. Perhaps not?

If you want to prevent fascism, deliver full employment:

Listening, Jay?

News of the Wired

“Bargain hunter scores 700-year-old medieval times document” [Associated Press]. ” A bargain hunter who went to an estate sale in Maine to find a KitchenAid mixer, a bookshelf or vintage clothing walked away with a 700-year-old treasure…. The parchment is worth upward of $10,000, according to [Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America]. But [Will] Sideri said he has no intention of selling it. He said he likes the history and beauty of the parchment — and the story of how he stumbled upon it. ‘This is something at the end of the day that I know is cool,’ he said. ‘I didn’t buy this expecting to sell it.'” • Well done that man. Let’s hope it works out.

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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 Carla:

Carla (this is the real Carla) writes: “A sugar maple in the central square of Burton, OH just starting to turn on Sept 18 2022. In a couple of weeks, this tree will oversee the village’s annual Burton Apple Butter Festival. Each weekend next March it will welcome the region’s public to pancake breakfasts featuring the excellent local maple syrup.”

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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. MT_Wild

    Enjoying bobwhite week at WC.

    Growing up in the pines of New Jersey, quail were common. When my dad started to take me hunting with him, I was to make the bobwhite whistle instead of calling for him when we would get separated in the woods. The sound travels better, you don’t get hoarse, and it doesn’t scare the wildlife as much. I’ve taught my kids the same thing, but obviohsly does not fit in as well in the intermountain west.

    Masked bobwhite occurs in SW AZ and Mexico, endangered subspecies of the bobwhite.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Enjoying bobwhite week at WC.

      Good. I enjoy finding them, though I sometimes wonder if readers have grown inured to them. But comments like yours tell me not. What a great story!

      1. John

        Open Water Cooler. Click on bird call of the day and week. Enjoy same as long at it lasts. Continue reading down through Water Cooler. Enjoyable habit.

  2. SpiegelSpike35

    “An in-person conference drew me out of isolation—and re-energized my Ph.D.”

    I can see why Lambert’s adverse to this, and it would be easy to see as propaganda. But FWIW, as another PhD student in the sciences who mostly works in my laptop, I deeply relate to this. I was thinking of quitting my program before I started working back in the office again, and the face-to-face interaction totally re-energized me and got me motivated again. And having a work space outside of my home, and the routine of a commute, is fantastic for me.

    Granted, the university it most definitely not a Covid safe environment. My shared office (and most rooms in my department) has an air filter in the corner now, and we leave the window open and fan on for air flow. Masks are no longer the norm but I wear one inside. There are now plenty of in person social events (great for my health and motivation!), mostly outside.

    This is just to say that the author’s experience, of in person activities saving their motivation and getting them back on track, is I think pretty common.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This is just to say that the author’s experience, of in person activities saving their motivation and getting them back on track, is I think pretty common.

      I would be much, much happier if that image had had at least one masked person. I understand your feeling, and I’m happy for you, but “back to normal” will have deadline consequences for some.

    2. voislav

      One thing to note is that doing PhD in an academic environment is much different than working a job. PhD is about learning, which in most fields of study is best done by learning from other people, rather than reading literature. I know that most of my work would be difficult to replicate from publications alone because of the little details that don’t make it into the manuscript, information that’s only available if you talk to me directly, preferably over a pint :)

      Job on the other hand is mostly about completing tasks, typically same tasks that the worker has done many times before. So not much learning involved. There are exceptions, but I’d say that 90% of office jobs can be done just as well remotely. In some cases people have trouble setting up a proper working environment free of distractions, but that’s a separate issue.

      1. Acacia

        While I don’t disagree with some of what you say, my sense is that the reality for many PhDs — especially in the Humanities and social sciences — is that you must spend years reading a vast amount of literature, and synthesize your argument from that. You can get to know people who are also spending years in the same library, and maybe go out for a pint with them sometimes, ditto for your academic advisors, but much of the work is pretty solitary. Some dissertation committee members are willing to socialize and talk, but the norm is more like: “come back to my office hours after you’ve written your first two chapters, and we’ll chat then”.

        Of course, it would be infinitely more pleasant if you could write your PhD by hanging around drinking with smart people and then write what you learned the next morning, after the alcohol fog lifts, but in my experience at least it doesn’t work that way.

    3. Grateful Dude

      Has anybody heard of ventilation schemes for convecting filtered air from the floor and blowing it up to outlets above: streaming it vertically desk by desk? Or cube-by-cube or table-by-table in a restaurant or bar?

      There’s an architecture component, and more floor space would be required, but I’m sure it would work. I was inspired to do a prototype for a start-up when all the bars and sitdown restaurants were closed, so the time seemed right, but my friend and sometime project partner who’s a gifted craftsman experienced in all the building trades wasn’t interested and I’m a logical mechanic who isn’t good at physical stuff.

      Doesn’t this make sense? Maybe the time has passed and we’re all just whistling past the graveyard these days. Any architects or HVAC folks out there?

  3. Zephyrum

    I have no doubt that the 222 nm Far-UV light is efficacious for deactivating airborne pathogens, but I think the assertions that it is harmless are considerably more controversial than described, despite the seven citations in the Nature article. Reasoning:
    1. Shorter wavelengths carrier higher energy and are, in general more destructive. The article and references assert that filtering out wavelengths longer than 230 nm are “much less likely…to induce acute adverse reactions” and long term effects have not been found in studies. However one can easily find such studies, for example this one from MDPI (2022.) It’s entirely plausible that somewhat longer wavelengths, e.g. 250 nm cause acute skin damage, but then unabsorbed 222 nm light is going to penetrate much further and cause unknown damage.
    2. I don’t see that the article addresses ozone production, which occurs in wavelengths shorter than 240 nm and could be substantial with the 222 nm sources in the paper. This may be mitigated by improved air circulation, but that makes ventilation a possible parallel requirement. It’s not hard to imagine a typical facilities staff seeing Far-UV sources as a simple, cheap, and inadvertently dangerous solution to employ instead of expensive ventilation improvements.

    1. Acacia

      Daikin, the big Japanese manufacturer of air conditioners, already sells units that include far-UV LEDs for air purification, they also include HEPA and carbon filters, e.g.:


      The link has some brief data about the effect on staphylococcus aureus and MS2-Phage, for given room volumes.

      Daikin also offers something they call “Streamer technology” that uses electrostatic precipitation to capture viruses in a HEPA filter. Elsewhere, they mention research conducted with University of Tokyo and Okayama University of Science on eliminating Covid-19 with this tech, claiming 99.9% effectiveness over a period of 3 hours (I would have to dig further to find details).

      Daikin has the reputation of an industry leader in Japan, but possibly other manufacturers use this tech as well?

      As for the relevant questions about safety raised by @Zephyrum, the fact that the LEDs are sealed inside the unit would, I assume, preclude direct exposure to the far-UV. The treatment is more effective, too, as the air is circulated past the LEDs. The issue of ozone production is a separate issue. I don’t know whether these Daikin units mitigate that, though ozone is a known pollutant and something to control. I realize it’s not very scientific to say this, but I’d worry less about elevated ozone than airborne Covid-19.

      The Covid epidemic has once again surfaced the broader issue of air quality, and the whole CDC debacle suggests that we now have to grapple with a “politics of air”. I know Lambert has written on this. I wonder if there’s a good essay elsewhere on this topic.

      1. Acacia

        Following up, here’s more data on the Daikin tech (in Japanese):


        The installed “UVC LED” uses “Klaran” from Asahi Kasei Group’s Crystal IS (USA), which irradiates deep ultraviolet rays with a wavelength of 265 nm, which is highly effective in suppressing viruses and bacteria. All four products are designed with safety in mind so that deep ultraviolet rays do not irradiate the outside of the machine, and during maintenance, the safety protection switch operates and the “UVC LED unit” stops before the dust collection filter is removed.

        And this appears to be the LED technology:


        If the UV is at 265 nm, does that mean less or even no ozone is produced?

  4. hunkerdown

    The first Conor Browne Twitter link is clean for me. I can see the whole thread without excess human-machine interaction. Thank you for removing the twsrc code!

    1. MikeW_CA

      I clicked on the “September 25, 2022” link and say if the Twitter login did not appear!
      Hopefully this change can keep it at bay.
      Thank you!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      This means we will have to manually alter the code in embedded tweets. That is a source of potential error, and may take an HTML adept (like me). I’m not sure we can fairly ask it of everyone!

      1. John Zelnicker

        Lambert – I never click on the date link. I click on the body of the tweet and have never had a problem reading that thread. If I try to read another thread on the same page, then the login will appear and I can’t go further without logging in.

        I do get an invitation in the top corner to log in via Google which I refuse to do, but it doesn’t get in the way of reading the original thread that brought me there.

    3. bassmule

      Here’s Brown’s defense:

      First, it’s important to remember this tweet is about psychological attributes I’ve observed in people still really trying not to get Covid. It’s *not* about structural factors, like privilege, or whether someone has young children or not.

      Second, this tweet is not about whether one has or has not successfully avoided being infected. I’ve observed people keep up the same mindset even after having Covid, because they don’t want to get it again.

      Third, a lot of very valid comments about my use of the term, ‘paradoxically’. Let me clarify, and remember I’m speaking from only my own experience here. I most certainly do not think that being non-conformist is associated with not having a strong moral code.
      I definitely should have phrased that much better, because I know it reads like I do. My point, based on my own experience here in Northern Ireland, is that I know a few people who are being very careful to avoid infection yet had less than benign non-conformist traits. Including people who, in early adulthood, engaged in violent behaviour (context of Northern Irish Troubles important here), yet still maintained a paradoxical strong moral code. I wasn’t talking about subcultures like goths etc, for example!

      Fourth, and most importantly – when I declare that these people are not anxious, my intended meaning is this: not wanting to be infected by a novel virus with the potential for long-term health effects is NOT anxiety. It is wisdom.

      1. Lex

        Many people with non-conformist traits have strong moral codes. For example, the phrase “no honor among thieves” is a lie. If one lives outside the bounds of law, only honor is left. There a large number of unwritten codes in organized crime and unorganized crime. They don’t necessarily match the moral codes of “normie” society but they are based on specific moral and ethical principles while being drastically non-conformist relative to most of society.

        1. Portia

          If you will permit me my view–crossing a criminal code results in torture or death, I’ve observed. I think self-preservation rather than honor or morals or ethics is the factor there.

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Can confirm that there is Honor among Thieves, especially Homeless Thieves:

          One night long ago in 2014, I had my backpack stolen from me while sleeping on the streets in Denver (16th Ave). I woke up around 6am and started inquiring among my street friends if they knew anyone stealing backpacks. Lo and Behold! They knew of some gutter punk river rats selling backpacks behind Colorado University near the river. Now, these gutterpunks were known as methheads prone to violent outbursts but what I found was a honorable dude who apologized to me when I confronted him about my backpack which indeed was among the items “for sale.” I fucking lectured the fuck out of this kid for stealing from his own! I’m happy to say we became friends and often swapped war stories over a bowl of newly legalized weed. Turns out he was low key gay and ran away from home because his parents didn’t like his lifestyle choice.

          There is honor among thieves. Just as there is honor among the poor and homeless. Wayyyyyyy more so than among the PMC Elite who gaslight us regular people into oblivion. Blaming us for being depressed! Blaming us when we steal to survive.

          I’ve gratefully cast my lot with the dregs and only regret the suffering I’ve caused my family for “not living up to my potential.”


  5. Mikel

    “Today is September 27, 2022, and SARS-CoV-2 is still not listed by @CDCgov as an airborne pathogen in healthcare settings.https://t.co/MUIsh7pexh pic.twitter.com/Dwv7nenNRx

    — David Fisman (@DFisman) September 27, 2022

    A disgusting disregard for health from an organization allegedly about disease control.

  6. Art_DogCT

    Regarding the lovely Elliot Hodgkin painting, I can see why it could be appreciated as a much older work, even possibly Renaissance work. To me, the composition, the unusual presentation of the fruits, and the color choices struck me as evoking realist figurative work from 1960-1980 (I really tried to put the disclosed date out of my mind). Echoes of post-impressionism, too. A contemporaneous artist that is my touchstone for the 2H 1960s period and realist style is Alex Colville. It was that resonance that pushed earlier possible dates out of contention. (www.wikiart.org/en/alex-colville)

    1. Etrigan

      The angular choices of color blocks to define volume are also bold, energetic, and clean in ways that would either have to be from the 1910’s or after the 1950’s.

  7. Screwball

    First on CNN: European security officials observed Russian Navy ships in vicinity of Nord Stream pipeline leaks

    Saw this on a Greenwald Tweet. John Brennan and Natasha Bertrand trying to put the blame on Russia for the pipeline sabotage. IMAGINE THAT, from those two. And of course my PMC friends are sold on it being Russia, Russia, Russia.

    I also read we are sending another billion or so to Ukraine. While Joe Biden walks aimlessly about.

    Where do we get off this ride?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      For crying out loud. And who would believe any results from a Danish/Swedish investigation? Seems to me the appropriate parties to investigate would be Germany and Russia.

      And this –

      “It’s hard to imagine any other actor in the region with the capabilities and interest to carry out such an operation,” the Danish military official said.

      – is risible. Took me all of .00001 seconds to imagine it. Picturing an older looking pointy type with a white beard and mustache wearing a star spangled top hat…..

        1. caucus99percenter

          Wait, wait, don’t tell me — eventually it will turn out that some Larry Silverstein type entity had recently bought the rights to the pipelines and insured them for billions against terrorist attacks.

          And then some judge in this entity’s orbit will say that destroying both NS1 and NS2 amount to two separate incidents, so the insurance companies have to pay double…

    2. Darthbobber

      Silly. If there were such ships. They wouldn’t have just “observed” them, but filmed them, tracked their every move, etc etc. The fact that we’re getting anonymous officials blathering, rather than time-stamped images tells me what I need to know.

    3. The Rev Kev

      CNN should really get rid of all those ex-spooks that they have working for them and try a different line of work. Perhaps news reporting?

    4. notabanker

      Oh, it’s already official. No proof, but Time says “consensus”, so must be true.

      It is hard to see the upside in blowing up the conduits of one’s own economy, not least because the physics of natural gas mean that Russia will struggle to bring a gas industry back online in the future. Nonetheless, there is consensus that Russia is behind the sabotage. Possible logic—if one reaches—is an effort to create a false flag disaster that can be blamed on either the Ukrainians or the U.S., theoretically creating a wedge with which to fracture the western alliance against Putin. Or, possibly, the explosions were planned to distract from the Kremlin’s September 28 announcement that it would annex much of southern Ukraine.

  8. Mark Gisleson

    The first time I got an email from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) and I saw they were calling themselves the WisDems, I was pretty sure I was going to disagree with their campaign strategies.

    They’re running Mandela Barnes against Ron Johnson and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel just published a long article about Barnes’s social media history. [MJS is giving free passes to this one which is consistent with their hard hitting brand of left-bashing]

    A sample:

    Barnes asked in November 2016 if the presidential election had been “rigged.” Months later, the first-term Democrat declared Donald Trump, then president, a “Russian spy.” More recently, he dismissed the notion that George Washington was one of the country’s top presidents.

    They also worked this bit into the headline, “Bice: On Twitter, free-wheeling Mandela Barnes called Trump a ‘Russian spy’ and rejected George Washington as a top president.” I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the columnist’s name worked into a headline before especially with his by-line and picture just a few pixels below.

    1. Lex

      I’ll bet Putin’s wishing Alexander II hadn’t bothered to save the Union from the the British and French joining in the civil war on the confederate side.

  9. notabanker

    If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Sanders is definitely not part of the solution. He is the Lucy with the football. Just go away.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      It could be a new way of funding campaigns. “Give me $27 and I’ll run but I’ll STFU if you send me $54”

      I see Fettermen is continuing the grift. Wait until he starts an Investment Club for contributors based on the insider trading he’s allowed to do once elected.

      “You don’t change the Democratic Party. The Party changes you.”

      1. Carla

        The same can be (and I’m sure has been) said about the Republican Party. Maybe the real saying ought to be:

        “You don’t change politics. Politics changes you.”

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Is Fetterman spending the money intaken on political campaign expenses? If so, then where is the grift?

        1. BlakeFelix

          Ya, that looks like bog standard campaign fundraising to me. Which kinda sucks, granted, but Oz got a bunch of big ad buys and donations and the race is narrowing, begging for money is lame but hate the game not the player.

      1. John

        Just for a change, could we have a candidate say 45-60 years old with political experience at least at the local and state level and, I know this is asking a great deal, knowledge of the rest of the world … and unwilling to employ the usual courtiers who infest the DC Bubble and Echo Chamber like Guinea worms.

      2. Hepativore

        It would not be so bad if Sanders could at least acknowledge the fact that he got screwed over by the Democratic Party, and I wish he could drop the “Joe Biden is my friend” rhetoric, as Biden has shown several times over he is not a friend of Sanders, and that Bernie needs better friends.

        Sanders would have to overcome the Democratic Party rigging the primaries which would be a given, and a hostile cable and print media environment which is listened to and read by the people most likely to actually vote (boomers). If Trump were to run again, I am sure that Sanders would easily be cowed by the Democratic Party into dropping out and pooling his election fund money with that of leading neoliberal candidate after swallowing the “But Trump!” rhetoric.

        I do like Sanders, but the problem is that he is not willing to take the gloves off on political opponents who have no intention of playing fair or even seem to care if they win the presidential election or not.

        The problem is, that we have nobody who we could call “progressive” that could fill Bernie’s shoes or has his leadership skills at the moment. The “squad” is a lost cause as they have shown themselves to be cowardly and ineffectual, and AOC is basically Nancy Pelosi’s obedient chew toy at this point.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well then, Sanders should run through the primaries again as an organizing magnet for all the iron filings to rally around.

          If the iron filings fail to rally round the Sanders, that would show that the iron filings want someone who believes in ” Just win, baby.” And that would be educational too, in its own way.

  10. Art_DogCT

    Something seems missing under the ‘Big if true’ post from Stoller. What appears is a duplicate of one of the Covid charts.

      1. Art_DogCT

        Thank you!

        I think he is giving himself a pep talk here. He is so invested in a worldview that allows for the success of his hopes of anti-monopolism that he needs to to invoke the catechism of the fundamental goodness of the organs of governance. He embodies a sort of centrist, gradualist proceduralism that is impossible without that leap of faith. I value his work a lot, but on more general political questions he is very much of and embedded in an overall PMC milieu. I wonder what he would conclude if he approached the government itself – the interlocking personnel and agendas of politics, legislation, and regulation – as he would investigating market concentration and illegal restraint of trade.

        He is certainly correct that “everyone relies on the U.S. government” – whomever that ‘everyone’ may include, and however willing or unwilling. To assert “its basic reliability and honesty” is [wishful thinking / naïve / ahistorical / delusional] (choose any or all).

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well, he remembers or at least “remembers” a time before government was captured, infested, infected at every level by various neocons, neolibs, neowils, etc.; a time when government could and did do what you say.

          During the New Deal era, government agencies, departments, bureaus, etc. were staffed by PMCs who did a sincere job of conducting the actual missions of these government entities. Those PMCs were certainly different than the PMCs of today.

          Government would have to be reconquered, purged, disinfected, decontaminated, sterilized, and then completely de-staffed and then re-staffed with mission-committed and mission-sincere people . . . a whole wave of New New Dealers. Then it could do and be used for doing what Matt Stoller would like to see done. ( Exception to “de-staffing” could be made for non-corrupt park rangers and range scientists and fisheries biologists and soil scientists and plant breeders and etc.)

    1. Lee

      Foreign electoral intervention (Wikipedia)

      “According to Dov H. Levin’s 2020 book Meddling in the Ballot Box: The Causes and Effects of Partisan Electoral Interventions‎, the United States intervened in 81 foreign elections between 1946 and 2000, while the Soviet Union or Russia intervened in 36.[2][5] A 2018 study by Levin found that the electoral interventions determined in “many cases” the identity of the winner.[6] The study also found suggestive evidence that the interventions increased the risk of democratic breakdown in the targeted states.[6]”

  11. semper loquitur

    I’m surprised that the Wisconsin Democratic party sees fit to present VEEP alongside the holy scripture of The West Wing. VEEP painted a decidedly ugly picture of American politics, everyone was a hustler of some kind, everyone was out for their own interests above all else. I am fortunate in that I’ve never seen a second of The West Wing, it always triggered my “Ken Burns” instinct, but I gather it was a much more homey picture of the powers that be in D.C.

    But maybe that’s the point. The $hit-lib, living in it’s cotton-candy virtual reality world where Netflix is on par with investigative journalism and the NYT/NPR hyperloop emanates Truth in palpable, vibratory waves, sees the two shows as reflections of How Things Really Are. A little bit sour, a little bit sweet. Everyone’s basically good at heart but hey, you gotta look after you, cause who the hell will? Save the world and make a buck.

    Imagine with me for a moment a kind of meta-show, the cast of both shows mingling together, sharing quips and stock tips, admiring each other’s multiple advanced degrees and Italian leather shoes, mingling minds over vegan noshes and 25$ cocktails at a smart, Beltway insider’s club. Polished, modulated voices buzz and occasionally carefully curated laughter can be heard. Off to the Hamptons? Shall we meet in Venice in March?

    Of a sudden, the doors swing open, and a hush falls over the gathered worthies. Could it be?! Raucous applause and cries of joy erupt from the celebrants. Lin-Manuel Miranda has entered the room!

    The congregation leaps to it’s feet and begins to howl and wail as the Divine Sycophant effortlessly glides through the faithful to take his place upon a raised throne. An orgy begins, bespoke clothing is torn asunder, studiously diverse bodies writhe in the grips of self-satisfaction and lust. Nina Totenberg sounds a horn and the High Priestess Hillary makes her proud way through the sweating, grunting forms. Behind her, Chelsea drags the Scapegoat, hooded and bound, to Miranda’s feet and casts the unfortunate down. The hood is torn aside to reveal a MAGA hat and a plump, pale, mustachioed face twisted into a rictus of fear. The Divine Sycophant glares down his patrician nose at the miserable creature and extends a clenched fist, thumb down. Screeching in righteous fury, the enraged mob swarms the screaming man and he is torn limb from limb, his flesh devoured in gobbets.

    Satiated, blood-splattered, the congregation kneels before the Divine Sycophant and begins to moan, rocking to and fro in synchrony. Miranda stands and begins to move his arms in a series of carefully articulated gestures, tracing arcane symbols in the air before him as he croaks out an invocation in an ancient, inhuman tongue. The moaning grows in fervor as Miranda’s gestures become more exaggerated, his utterances more profane, his sweat and spittle raining down upon adoring faces. His gyrations and the mob’s groaning reach a wild pitch. A flash of light! A crack of a thousand thunderbolts! The marble visage of Hamilton, serene and cruel, appears above them. The Godhead nods and the congregation, beastlike and savage, slavering and gnashing, all humanity shot from their eyes, bursts through the doors and spills into the crumbling, shadowed, trash-strewn streets!

  12. Portia


    “After all, how do you successfully end a war if people are led to believe the reason for its existence is not only legal but noble?” asks the prime minister. “How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists? How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld, when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology? The weapons may be different, but the goals of those who perpetuate them is often the same. To cause chaos and reduce the ability of others to defend themselves. To disband communities. To collapse the collective strength of countries who work together. But we have an opportunity here to ensure that these particular weapons of war do not become an established part of warfare.”

    Jacinda Ardern, in a recent speech to the UN General Assembly. Who in the world is she talking about? Oh, Russia. Caitlin Johston calls this creepy–I agree.

    1. semper loquitur

      It is creepy. Accuse your target of that which you yourself are engaging in. Literally every word of that can be turned back upon her and the neoliberal establishment. Every single word.

    2. Rip Van Winkle

      Now watch that video with the sound off. All the right gestures and intonations, all of the time. Scary. Sociopath.

  13. flora

    “Big if true:

    “There is a large amount of anti-American sentiment that has been normalized. It is as absurd to think the U.S. government always lies as it is to think it never lies. It’s also hypocritical, everyone relies on the U.S. government and its basic reliability and honesty.’

    — Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) September 29, 2022”

    er, um, er,… really, Matt? Come on, you know better than this. Are you claiming the current , serious, hardball, political critique is the same as anti-Americanism (and it sure sounds like it), well then what the heck… blasting one’s political opponents is as American as apple pie. And you know that, Matt. I’ve read your books. Sheesh! Politics ain’t beanbag. And you know that, too.

    1. flora

      And putting too fine a point on my comment: Wright Patman was an unAmerican commie! right? right?!? (Of course not, of course he wasn’t, and you know this. But the Wall St. gang described him this way for their own financial and political ends. / oy )

    2. Portia

      basic reliability and honesty

      That’s my favorite part.

      Reliability is a general quality of an object – an ability to perform a desired function, sustaining the values of rated operational indicators in given limits and time according to given technical conditions. Reliability is probability that an activity of an appliance in given time and given operation conditions will be adequate to its purpose.

      Reliability is a broad concept. It is applied whenever we expect something to behave in a certain
      way. Reliability is one of the metrics that are used to measure quality. It is a user-oriented quality
      factor relating to system operation. Intuitively, if the users of a system rarely experience failure, the
      system is considered to be more reliable than one that fails more often.
      A system without faults is considered to be highly reliable. Constructing a correct system is a difficult
      task. Even an incorrect system may be considered to be reliable if the frequency of failure is
      “acceptable.” file:///home/pi/Desktop/SE_UnitIII(2).pdf

      It’s sad, really, what happens to people.

      1. flora

        Yep. And I understand he’s calling the modern 3rd-Way, neoliberal, Dem estab back to their better New Deal angels. But, it ain’t gonna happen, not with this current neoliberal Dem estab.

    1. semper loquitur

      How pathetic. And clumsy of the administrators who are doubtless behind it. This reminds me of a lot of the comments I see in Right leaning Youtube comment sections. Fast food workers are warned that asking for a living wage will simply lose them their jobs. A recent video about automation in fast food featured a “Told you so!” attitude, as if the restaurant owners wouldn’t automate anyway. It’s always about blaming down, kicking down, even when the person doing it down themselves. No one is ever supposed to ask why there isn’t enough money for more police or for a raise, that’s always just assumed to be off limits. The sanctity of private property over all else.

      1. Portia

        Hope you will indulge me for this:

        Whitney Houston. I was a professional musician for 30 years, and mourn her still. She was devoured by this capitalist shit, this beautiful soul, but left so much to inspire. When I need to keep going, I still seek her out, in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

    1. Portia

      Bottom line, IMO is, humans can describe and “debate” until the sun goes into nova. Maybe it will keep them out of trouble, I don’t know. What I miss in this is enjoying mystery, and letting it speak to us from its nothingness.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Sabra will be Marvel’s latest attempt at “woke imperialism””

    I read about this the other day and it was really on the nose. An Israeli policewoman by day and a super Mossad agent at night. Seriously? The two groups most responsible for suppressing Palestinians? I noted that she was being introduced into a Captain America film to try to give her a veneer of respectability but hey, even Nazis are being hailed in the halls of power & media these days. In the cartoon story arc of Sabra, it was in a fight with the Hulk that she learned to see a dead Arab boy as a human being that had just been killed in that fight-


    Anybody think that Marvel/Disney will come out with a Palestinian female superhero anytime soon? Based on how they treated those Azov guys, you are more likely to see an SS officer from WW2 unfrozen from an ice block but having super powers and become the next superhero. At least the uniform would be more snazzy and really, what can you say?

    ‘Hans, are we the baddies?’

    1. rowlf

      Nailed it.

      I like a conversation in the 1964 Len Deighton novel Funeral In Berlin, where a Soviet intelligence officer in conversation mentions the USSR (and the West) defeated Germany but not the Nazis.

    2. Acacia

      And maybe a real live Azov fighter can become the next Marvel star, trading on his past as a slayer of Russian commies. They may be seeking career reboots soon, in any case.

  15. Fastball

    While Lambert focuses on strategic reasoning, there is another way to look at it:

    I don’t care about the strategic reasoning of the Democrat party, but I do note with some satisfaction their lack of any moral pull whatsoever with their decision to do this. Are liberals or leftists just supposed to look aside while they pull this [family blog]?

    Put simply, there is no moral or pragmatic reason to vote for Democrats if they accomplish little but warmongering and lining their own pockets AND they fund MAGA types with a single cent of donated funds (or any funds). There is no plausible way for Democrat apparatchiks or liberal Karens to point their finger and scream at non-voters for not voting and particularly not voting for Democrats. If such a Karen wants to call a finger-wagee a Republican, all one has to do is point at her (or his) own party and point out that they fund Republicans. A party traitor or a supporter of party traitors does not get to call others party traitors. Especially when they’re not your party to begin with (and I happen to be an independent).

    And, yes, democracy may be in danger, but Democrats are not going to be the ones to save it, as they have demonstrated repeatedly.

    1. Jason Boxman

      If only it were so. To this day, anyone that voted for Nader is loathed by liberal Democrats. I guess Russiagate will be like this as well even decades from now. Liberal Democrat brain is a dangerous disease. The beatings shall continue until moral improves!

  16. Jason Boxman

    Sigh. The Walgreens tracker now returns a broken page for me. Sources of possibly life saving information are increasingly hard to come by.

  17. Geoffrey Dewan

    “Every decision after Bush v. Gore is fruit of the poison tree.”

    The Death of Legitimacy in one fell swoop.

    All else is commentary.

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