2:00PM Water Cooler 9/7/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

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Bird Song of the Day

Sage Thrasher, Sublette, Wyoming, United States. 35 minutes!

* * *


“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


* * *

GA: “Democrats Fret as Stacey Abrams Struggles in Georgia Governor’s Race” [New York Times]. “Georgia Democrats have grown increasingly pessimistic about Stacey Abrams’s chances of ousting Gov. Brian Kemp from office, pointing to her struggles to rally key parts of her party’s coalition and her inability to appeal to a slice of moderate Republican voters who can decide the state’s elections. Public and private polls have consistently shown her trailing Mr. Kemp, a Republican seeking a second term. And, in a particularly worrying sign for Ms. Abrams, polls also show she is drawing less support than the other high-profile Democrat on the ballot, Senator Raphael Warnock, who is seeking a first full term. The gap between the two Democrats, which is within the margin of error in some recent surveys and as wide as 10 points in others, highlights the extent of her struggles. Though she is beloved by Democratic voters, she has lost some ground with Black men, who provided crucial backing in her narrow loss to Mr. Kemp in 2018. And while Mr. Warnock draws some support from Republican moderates, Ms. Abrams — who has been vilified more by the G.O.P. than any other statewide figure — has shown little sign of peeling off significant numbers of disaffected Republicans. Ms. Abrams’s standing — consistently trailing Mr. Kemp in polls by around five percentage points — has alarmed Democrats who have celebrated her as the master strategist behind Georgia’s Democratic shift.”• I don’t know why anybody’s worried about Abrams. She can get any job Neera Tanden will give her.

PA: Fetterman out and about:

PA: Ouch

I think the difficulty with the Oz campaign tactics is that you use them when you want to introduce your opponent to the voters yourself, before they get a chance to. But Fetterman has already introduced himself to PA voters, exhaustively. Meanwhile, Fetterman, by successfully and amusingly casting Oz as a New Jersey interloper, has already introduced Oz.

PA: “Pittsburgh newspaper: Oz has raised ‘legitimate concerns’ about Fetterman’s health” [The Hill]. “The editorial states Fetterman’s campaign has acknowledged lingering struggles with speech but asserts that he will fully recover and is taking the necessary steps to do so in speech therapy. It states that a live debate is the best way to determine if Fetterman is up to the job of senator. The editorial board endorsed former President Trump for reelection in 2020, its first time endorsing a Republican for president since 1972. Trump endorsed Oz’s campaign in the spring. The board said the legitimate point about Fetterman’s health does not excuse the tactics that Oz’s campaign has pursued in deciding that Oz will benefit from ‘dragging the race deeper and deeper into the muck.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Elected officials, police chiefs on leaked Oath Keepers list” [Associated Press]. “The names of hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers, elected officials and military members appear on the leaked membership rolls of a far-right extremist group that’s accused of playing a key role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection [riot] at the U.S. Capitol, according to a report released Wednesday. The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies — including as police chiefs and sheriffs — and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military. It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or served in public office as of early August. The membership information was compiled into a database published by the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets. The data raises fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in law enforcement and the military who are tasked with enforcing laws and protecting the U.S. It’s especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists at a time when lies about the 2020 election are fueling threats of violence against lawmakers and institutions.” • It would be interesting to run a diff on the 38,000 Oath Keepers list and the list of contacts in Jeffrey Epstein’s little black book + the flight logs, and look for the overlap. My guess? No overlap at all. Funny what’s “extreme” and what isn’t. Fomenting a war with a nuclear power isn’t “extreme.” The slaughter of 500,000 or so people in a pandemic isn’t extreme. And so forth.

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.


• “U.S. Plans Shift to Annual Covid Shots as New Boosters Roll Out” [Wall Street Journal]. I have helpfully underlined the qualifiers in Ashish Jha’s craven statement to that effect: “‘Barring any new variant curveball,’ said White House coronavirus coordinator Ashish Jha, ‘for a large majority of Americans, we are moving to a point where a single annual Covid shot should provide a high degree of protection all year.'” • Gloriosky, it’s almost all underlined, isn’t it? Commentary:

I agree with Topol. I think this is the White House throwing up its hands in despair, shedding all responsibility for Covid, and moving to a commercialized + “personal risk assessment” model. And that’s the generous interpretation. More:

Klain tweets out a paywalled quote from Wall Street’s journal? Really? The White House can’t even write up a press release?

“White House Covid Adviser: ‘God Gave Us Two Arms’ for Covid and Flu Vaccines” [National Review]. ““I really believe this is why God gave us two arms, one for the flu shot and the other one for the COVID shot,” said White House Covid response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha at a Tuesday briefing while pitching the public on new, Omicron-specific vaccine boosters.” • This is, I think, the single stupidest statement I have ever heard on Covid. And I have heard a lot of very stupid statements. (I’m running through various reworkings of Jha’s trope in my mind, and frankly none of them are fit for a family blog.)

* * *

• China approved a COVID-19 vaccine mist that can be inhaled: the first needle-free booster option” [Business Insider]. “Regulators in China approved a COVID-19 vaccine mist for use as a booster dose, making it the first alternative to injectable vaccines used during the pandemic. The inhaled vaccine contains the same ingredients as the jabs used in China, but a nebulizer machine turns it from liquid into an aerosol spray. The single-dose CanSino shot is about 92% effective at preventing severe disease due to COVID-19, and about 58% effective at preventing illness entirely, according to data reported by the World Health Organization. Clinical trials of the mist as a booster (following a single injected dose of the vaccine) showed it was about as effective as the two-dose vaccine that’s widely used in Asia and abroad. The nasal mist may bolster protection in the lining of the nose and upper airways, where the virus typically enters the body, according to the press release.” • Hopefully this rollout will help China with its unvaccinated elders problem (leading to fewer lockdowns).

• “Scientists urged the Biden administration to launch an ‘Operation Warp Speed’ to develop inhaled COVID vaccines. China beat the U.S. to the punch” [Fortune]. “‘Intramuscular shots alone…do not provide tissue-level mucosal immunity,’ [Topol and Iwasaki] wrote. ‘The only path to achieve this will be via nasal or orally administered vaccines.’ Topol and Iwasaki said there were 12 nasal spray vaccines in clinical development globally, but it appeared unlikely that one would hit the U.S. market soon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one nasal spray vaccine—for the flu—and has never approved an inhaled vaccine. U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has signaled that it’s open to new vaccine delivery methods. ‘[We are supporting] innovations like nasal sprays and skin patches, instead of needles, to administer vaccines in a more comfortable and accessible way so that everyone in America and around the world can readily benefit from them,’ Alondra Nelson, the White House’s deputy director for science and society, said in July at a summit on the future of COVID-19 vaccines.” • I think Nelson is on the side of the angels. I have yet to see that Nelson has any clout with the Biden administration on Covid policy whatever. Inhaled vaccines that induce mucosal immunity also present the possibility (hamster study) of being sterilizing. They thus threaten two ginormous monopolies: Big Pharma, which wants vaccines with sterilizing immunity about as much as Gillette wants a self-sharpening razor, and hospitals, which have the infrastucture needed for intramuscular injection (and hence the revenues derived from it).

* * *

• “Updated COVID-19 booster shots are now available. Here’s what you need to know” [PBS]. • Here’s what you really need to know. Topol has a chart that will be helpful in your “personal risk assessment”:

I seem to remember a time — long, long ago, perhaps — when the public health establishment didn’t plan “shots in arms” by the millions based on mouse studies. No doubt the powers that be are working to accustom us to this. After mice, AI, I would think.

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: One professor’s approach to masking in class:

It’s interesting to see the successor ideology’s “safe place” narrative repurposed. And:

I think the notion of a “mask break” is very clever.

* * *

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

* * *

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the nominal case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~65,850. Today, it’s ~74,000 and 74,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 444,000 per day. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.

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

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

Doing pretty well!

The West:


Wastewater data (CDC), September 1:

For grins, August 30:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 7:

-2.7%. The continuing downward trend inside the red circle is actually encouraging.


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.)

This is actually still improving. More yellow in the Plains states and the Mountain states.

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 6:

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

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 6:

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

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


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

Lambert here: The last real — i.e., not modeled — data from CDC is August 6. That’s such a ginormous derelection I don’t even know what to say. Basic disrespect for honest, hardworking Americans trying to make their “personal risk assessments.” How on earth are people supposed to do that without variant data? Do the morons at CDC think BA.5 is going to be the last?

Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 27:

Still no sign of BA2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), August 13 (Nowcast off):

Still no sign of BA2.75.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,073,295 – 1,072,978 = 317 (317 * 365 = 115,705, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, thought they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

There are no official stats of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “Moderna accuses BioNTech/Pfizer of copying mRNA technology” [Financial Times]. “‘We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the Covid-19 pandemic,’ said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive. He said Moderna is continuing to use its mRNA platform to develop medicines to prevent HIV, influenza and other disease but would consider licensing its technology to rivals on commercially reasonable terms. Pfizer said it remained confident in its intellectual property supporting the Comirnaty jab.” • Two scorpions in a bottle….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 40 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 48 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 7 at 1:38 PM EDT.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Up With The Carceral State” [Rod Dreher, The American Conservative]. “I’m in Baton Rouge this month, settling my affairs before moving to Budapest.” • Oh.

Class Warfare

“The Pandemic Made the “Viral Underclass” Impossible to Ignore” [The New Republic]. A review of Thrasher’s book, The Viral Underclass. “Stigma functions to place the responsibility and blame for the virus solely on the individual; in this way, it obscures what makes people vulnerable to a virus in the first place. Thrasher locates the manufacture of stigma in media and political messaging… “The boundaries for who is and isn’t in” the viral underclass, Thrasher adds, are not ‘fixed over time.’ Sean Strub, who coined the phrase viral underclass, is for instance ‘a well-off white man and the mayor of his town,’ but also a person whose HIV-positive status ‘made him more susceptible to criminal prosecution.’ This evocation of shifting membership could be understood as a call for solidarity with the viral underclass, as encouragement to see how you may be already part of it or could be. With this acceptance of our interconnectedness, Thrasher offers, ‘our hierarchies might melt away.'” • I have a copy of Thrasher’s book, and perhaps I’ll review it. But I’m more interested in the viral overclass, but I’m not sure this book will help me. From the TNR review, which may not be a reliable guide, Thrasher has written a book about an underclass without a clear concept of class. For example, where are the essential workers?

News of the Wired

“The Curious Hole in My Head” [New York Times]. The deck: “Born without my left temporal lobe, a brain region thought to be critical for language, I’ve been a research subject for much of my life.” More: “‘The brain has incredible neuroplasticity,’ said Hope Kean, a graduate student in Dr. Fedorenko’s lab who is running the Interesting Brain study as part of her dissertation. It seems that networks in the brain arrange in a particular way, but if you lose crucial brain regions as a baby — when the brain is still very plastic — these networks can reroute, Ms. Kean said.”

* * *

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 TH:

TH writes: “These flowers are near the entrance of the Sherman Library & Gardens in Newport Beach, California. Nice way to advertise the lovely gardens beyond the gate, right?”

Carla writes: “The marshmallows are blooming at Shaker Nature Center in NE Ohio. Marshmallow root was traditionally used to give marshmallow candies their characteristic sponginess. It is used to treat many illnesses & conditions around the world. August 2022.”

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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. digi_owl

    US class concepts always seems to stop with there being two. One above some arbitrary water line, and one below. Any further subdivision of classes is strictly verboten.

    Now you can subdivide each of them by race and gender all you like, but there will always only be two classes.

  2. nippersmom

    Kemp has actually put money back in his constituents’ pockets, including rebating taxes paid during the pandemic when the budget shortfall was expected to be worse than it was. People remember things like that, and it is likely to influence swing voters. He also pushed through the first real raises many state employees have gotten in years. Abrams is too neoliberal to appeal to those on the actual left who refuse to accept the VBNMW mantra, so I’m not surprised polls show her “failing to rally key parts of her party’s coalition”.

    Warnock, on the other hand, while also a neoliberal with little or no appeal to the left, is probably gaining ground with some Republicans who can’t bring themselves to vote for someone with the obvious mental deficiencies of Walker. I see quite a few Kemp signs and bumper stickers as I drive around the area. I’ve seen a total of two Herschel signs.

      1. notabanker

        Ya think? Related to the Fetterman health issue, would you rather have someone who is going to represent your interests for what ever period of time they are capable of, or someone who is healthy enough to deny your interests for the full term?

        1. Pat

          I have never understood the appeal of any member of the Oz family, not the Dr or his daughter Daphne. Without looking into third parties Fetterman would get my vote. Unfortunately I am in the Land of Hochul with no senate race but a really bad congressional one where I would vote for Fetterman in a hot second if that were an option.

      2. Michael Ismoe

        Remember when the Democrats told their people to vote for Kemp in the primary because Trump? Maybe they decided to stay.

  3. Louiedog14

    “I really believe this is why God gave us two arms, one for the flu shot and the other one for the COVID shot,” said White House Covid response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha at a Tuesday briefing while pitching the public on new, Omicron-specific vaccine boosters.”

    No, the one arm is for giving YOU Dr. Jha a turbo wedgie*, and the other arm is for giving…you know, if God had really thought this through, I’d have a helluva lot more arms.

    *Quite uncomfortable I think, but doesn’t pass the familyblog threshold for actual “violence”.

  4. flora

    I don’t know why anybody’s worried about Abrams. She can get any job Neera Tanden will give her.

    Dry, very dry. / ;)

  5. Samuel Conner

    Thinking out loud — with daily COVID-attributed deaths at 1.3 per million, or 0.13 per 100,000, that would be equivalent to an annual death rate of 47 per 100,000.

    This is considerably better than the murder rate in some American cities (referencing the Dreher item on New Orleans).

    Lambert — perhaps this is a clue to the complacency of our elites. We’re already inured to a high level of “death without warning.” Perhaps COVID is indeed ‘mild’ by that standard.

    1. JBird4049

      At the CDC, the highest death rate by state is at Louisiana at 26.3 per hundred thousand in 2020. Using back of the envelope calculations of 45,000 each year in a population of 335 million, it would be 13.49 per 100 thousand for the whole country. Again, according to the CDC, the total number of deaths by drug overdose in 2019 is 70.630 or 21.6 per 100 thousand. Also, over 40,000 automobile deaths in 2020.

      Total yearly numbers for guns, drugs, and autos each year is 155,000.

      So far, Covid deaths are equal to over eight years of these numbers.

      Interesting, yes?

      1. JBird4049

        Forgot to link to CDC page on opioid deaths.

        And I should add that all of these deaths, even automotive and Covid are heavy in the lower classes and not so much in the upper classes. After all just who is having these deaths of despair and does not have the same fabulous healthcare for Covid treatments?

        1. jsn

          COVID is what they’ve been looking for all along!

          Killing more, faster with higher and more concentrated profits!

          What’s not to like? Of course we’ll have to open the borders to keep this up for much longer, but the only thing DOD is really good at is making refugees, so there’s another couple election cycles in this gig.

    1. Tom B.

      Nice photo composition and framing, too. I like the way things evolve from bottom to top, with the cool diagonal transition and unexpected bursts of purple.

  6. flora

    “The Curious Hole in My Head” [New York Times]. The deck: “Born without my left temporal lobe, a brain region thought to be critical for language, I’ve been a research subject for much of my life.” More: “‘The brain has incredible neuroplasticity,’ said Hope Kean, a graduate student in Dr. Fedorenko’s lab who is running the Interesting Brain study as part of her dissertation. It seems that networks in the brain arrange in a particular way, but if you lose crucial brain regions as a baby — when the brain is still very plastic — these networks can reroute, Ms. Kean said.”

    Durst one say or even intimate in modern company that ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’? / ;)

    1. CanCyn

      Brain neuroplasticity is a fascinating subject. See Norman Doidge’s The Brain that Changes Itself for an eminently readable overview of the subject. In it he tells the story of ‘fight’ between the scientists who believed the brain, once damaged via stroke or injury, could not regain the functions controlled by the damaged area and those who discovered and believed in neuroplasticity – more politics in science! He also relates the story of helping his father regain his ability to walk and function quite normally after a stroke that was quite severe. Again, a great read.

  7. fresno dan

    so I come across this monolog by Tucker Carlson*. And I would say it is factual – which is to say bleak. And it is rare in the MSM. Why is that???
    Is Ukraine really worth that hardship? I remember the debate Vietnam started, yet the equinanimity with which European governments face the upcoming disaster seems inexplicable, almost akin to the US staying the course in Vietnam…
    * will there be reporting of the economic carnage? Will it be understood that this was as certain as dropping a stone will fall to earth?

    1. marku52

      A fascinating book, “How will Capitalism End” by Wolfgang Streeck. It has nuggets like this one:

      “After a certain amount of time, it may no longer be possible to stop the rot: expectations of what politics can do may have eroded too far, and the civic skills and organizational structures needed to develop effective public demand may have atrophied beyond redemption, while the political personnel themselves may have adapted entirely to specializing in the management of appearances,rather than the representation of some version, however biased, of the public interest.”

      All this destructive idiocy makes perfect sense if you just assume that the people in charge just think that they are actors in a movie, and the top gun hero rides in at the last minute for Truth Justice and the American Way. The same could be said of an actor playing a brain surgeon being suddenly asked to actually perform the surgery. No actual competency at the job.

      1. jsn

        Hariri & Musk have been telling them for a decade we’re all living in a simulation, and with Pinker there at MIT explaining how this is the best of all possible worlds, everyone knows it’s programmed to all work out.

        The bubble floated free two decades ago and reality is so small and distant now, everything looks perfect, like looking at the east Coast on a clear night from orbit.

        And the orbital wasn’t designed for re-entry, because markets.

    2. GramSci

      I find it interesting that Tucker Carlson started off at MSNBC, did he not? Apparently he was less able to tell the lies MSNBC wanted than the lies that Fox News has demanded of him. I’m not sure how things will turn out for Tucker though. Is there another voice of reason at Fox?

      1. Bugs

        He started on the boob tube as a bow-tied token conservative at CNN’s Crossfire, many moons ago, after writing at the arch-neocon Weekly Standard, during the Clinton administration. Good times.

        1. GramSci

          Aah! A young George Will! I see. I obviously never paid much attention to the boob too . He didn’t object to telling MSNBC style lies; he just wasn’t selling it.

      2. Pat

        His cable start was on CNN. He had his own show and was one of the conservative hosts on Crossfire. He ended up at MSNBC after that. He may have had more media homes than Keith Olbermnn.

    3. Kat

      Between Tucker Carlson, available free on Youtube, no subscription needed, and Russel Brand, Youtube, the entire narrative of the Neocons, globalists, New World Order, Liberal World Order, Cultural Marxists, is debunked in terms that a middle school student could understand.

  8. JAC

    On “The Curious Hole in My Head”:

    Synaptic Plasticity is a fascination of mine since I suffer from psychosis at times and psychosis is linked to changes in synaptic plasticity. For those of us without part our temporal lobe removed you might be interested in the role polyamines play in this and in fact all mood disorders.

    This change in polyamines can be diet induced (wheat and vegetables are all very high in polyamines and meat and fish are low) or a genetic predisposition (The Nitric Oxide Synthase genes play a huge role here).

    I think this is also why SSRI’s kind of work, because they are indirectly a part of this whole system.

    Later this month I will be in a research study at Stamford which is looking at genetic changes in a gene called GCH1 which leads to lower levels of Nitric Oxide Synthase activity resulting in depression/anxiety. I carry these changes, along with changes in NOS2 and NOS1AP which I blame for my mood issues and seem to be corrected with high dose rioboflavin and zinc.

  9. chris

    Re: Rod Dreher and his blog at TAC.

    If the Guardian and Slate are windows into the unfiltered id of the PMC, Dreher’s blog is a view into the despair achieved by modern religious conservatives. They have all the latest tools and funding at their disposal but all those tools can be used for are what they don’t want. It is the philosophical and cultural car crash you can’t look away from.

    Dreher is opening up a vein a bleeding all over the internet several times a week. He occasionally makes good points about pop culture or political distinctions that our media wants to ignore. But mainly, he is a deeply conservative person who lacks the capacity to understand why people want to live differently than he does. To top it all off, he is dealing with a divorce right now that doesn’t sound like it’s going well.

    I recommend reading his stuff the same way you’d read the NYT opinion columnists. Go in knowing that they have a point of view and a goal and they’re perfectly capable of ignoring reality to reach that goal. In addition, I know quite a few people who agree with his Benedict Option proposal. So read him knowing he has an audience.

  10. HotFlash

    To whichever NC moderator/poster/anyperson is out and about just now: the link at the top of this page (and several others) for “what we’ve accomplished in the last year,, ” goes to a 404, as there is an extra ‘l’ in the .html extension for that page link.

  11. griffen

    Dr. Jha, I have 2 middle fingers to direct towards your attention. You are number one in my book, sir, with your deep critical thoughts!

    What a dumb witted thing to say. Mel Brooks at his best could not make this sh*t up.

  12. Tom Doak

    Does anyone remember when the blue Check brigade excoriated Republicans left and right for suggesting we treat COVID like a seasonal flu? And now that’s their new policy??

    Might as well just say Ron DeSantis was right and hand over the keys, if voters could follow simple logic. They’re wrong either way! But of course most voters do not apply logic to making their choices.

  13. Jason Boxman

    Europe Is Sacrificing Its Ancient Forests for Energy

    Burning wood was never supposed to be the cornerstone of the European Union’s green energy strategy.

    When the bloc began subsidizing wood burning over a decade ago, it was seen as a quick boost for renewable fuel and an incentive to move homes and power plants away from coal and gas. Chips and pellets were marketed as a way to turn sawdust waste into green power.

    Those subsidies gave rise to a booming market, to the point that wood is now Europe’s largest renewable energy source, far ahead of wind and solar.


  14. The Rev Kev

    “I really believe this is why God gave us two arms, one for the flu shot and the other one for the COVID shot,” said White House Covid response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha at a Tuesday briefing while pitching the public on new, Omicron-specific vaccine boosters.”

    • This is, I think, the single stupidest statement I have ever heard on Covid.

    Funny that. Before even coming to Lambert’s comment, I was thinking to myself that that was one of the most stupidest statements I have ever heard about this virus. I guess that the stupidity must be that blatant.

  15. ChrisRUEcon


    Anecdata: from the shores of Techsteros, I bring you news of late-summer, early-fall tech conference season. Workers across various technology fields return from summer vacations, and with the kids off to school, start traveling to far flung locations to gather in crowded hotel ballrooms to learn about tech stuff!

    Well, COVID is over, so let the personal risk assessments begin!

    VMWare Explore was a week ago in SFO, so naturally, uptick (via Twitter).

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that link to that Bradbury story “The Veldt.” It is always a very disturbing story to read. As for those people in Colorado, I guess that it was in the fine print that this could be done to them. Of course there is always the suspicion that some areas may be denied use of the electricity that they are paying for so that other regions can use it instead. Sort of like how it has been found that supermarkets in poorer areas charge higher prices for the products that they stock than supermarkets from the same chain in wealthier areas.

  16. Harmon

    “The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists… especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists”
    i.e. Any public servant, or institution associating or sharing data with the
    Anti Defamation League, which is an unregistered foreign agent in America.

    September 29, 2021 San Francisco police have raided the offices of the Anti-Defamation League, looking for illegally obtained law enforcement information used in a nationwide political spy operation.


    October 24, 1993 – A lawsuit filed this week charges that the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith deviated from its civil rights work by conspiring with police agencies to spy, harass and intimidate several political groups. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, accuses the defense league and its longtime San Francisco…https://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/24/us/anti-defamation-league-accused-of-spying.html?mcubz=0

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a Beau of the Fifth Column video titled . . . ” Let’s talk about 370 cops, 100 active duty, and 80 politicians…. ”

    It is basically a “cheer up and don’t worry too much” piece, noting that out of all the police officers, military service-people and politicians in the US today, those numbers are very very small. Zero of any of those categories of people in Oath Keepers would be even nicer, but still . . . those numbers are very very small.

    Here is the link.

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