2:00PM Water Cooler 10/14/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Wayanad, Kerala, India.

* * *


“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

“Biden admin declares post-Cold War era ‘definitively over’” [Politico]. I posted the original yesterday. “The language in the new document echoes the Trump administration’s national security strategy, which asserted ‘great power competition returned,’ and the second Obama-era iteration, which emphasized the need to revitalize democracy at home while partnering with allies on global issues. It makes sense, as Biden, Sullivan, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have spoken repeatedly in both Trumpian and Obamian terms on world affairs, sometimes in the same sentence.”

“Could Pot Be Decriminalized Before Biden Leaves Office?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “[I]t’s the mostly overlooked second part of Biden’s announcement — a directive to reevaluate pot’s federal status as a Schedule I drug — that has the potential to change the future of American cannabis policy. Schedule I is the federal government’s most tightly controlled drug classification, reserved for extremely dangerous substances with high potential for abuse and no medical use. That doesn’t describe pot, Biden declared last week, and he is now asking his own administration to start the process of making the drug’s legal classification match its reality. The reevaluation is more than just an empty gesture. Experts like John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said there’s a very good chance of Biden’s directive leading to actual reform — not decades from now, but by the end of his current term in office. ‘This is not just a blue-ribbon commission putting together a report,’ Hudak said. ‘This is a formal legal process that is required in order for the executive branch to consider a change in scheduling.’ In other words, Biden just triggered a process that could end federal pot prohibition as we know it.” • Good. Now, an amnesty for everybody we threw in jail for a policy that should never have been in the first place. Heck, give them stock in all the corporate marijuana businesses now profiting off the market the prisoners built.


* * *

PA: “Fellow stroke survivor Chris Van Hollen is going to bat for John Fetterman in the hotly contested Pennsylvania Senate race” [Politico]. “‘John Fetterman is clearly up to the task of serving in the U.S. Senate and getting better every day,’ Van Hollen said in a statement to POLITICO. ‘The way Mehmet Oz has tried to exploit this situation, including John’s use of closed captions, is reprehensible. This experience gives John even greater insight into and empathy for the health care struggles of other Americans and will make him an even better senator.’ Van Hollen isn’t the only sitting senator this year to experience a stroke. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) had a stroke in January. Luján told POLITICO in September that he’s spoken to Fetterman and that the conversations have ‘gone very well.’ ‘Campaigns can bring out the worst in folks,’ he said. ‘He’s strong, he’s capable, he’s engaged.'” • We’ll see. The coming debate is high stakes. I’d really like to see that puppy-killing charlaton Oz eviscerated, but I’m not sure Fetterman is that sort of politician.

PA: “Mehmet Oz Campaign Misled Reporters About His Emotional Encounter With a Black Voter” [The Intercept]. “A TOUCHING MOMENT at a recent campaign event for Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, in Philadelphia — in which a Black woman broke down in tears as she described the fatal shootings of her brother and nephew, and was comforted by the Republican Senate candidate — made for riveting television, and brought to mind the former daytime TV host’s old namesake show. Three weeks later, after the encounter was featured in local and national news reports, journalists who covered the event discovered that they had been duped by the Oz campaign into reporting as news a scene that had more in common with reality TV…. Fetterman’s campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, complained on Twitter that the AP had failed to share a pertinent fact with readers: that Armstrong is not an ordinary voter but a paid member of the Oz campaign staff. As evidence, McPhillips posted a screenshot of a business card Armstrong had shared on her public Instagram account in June, identifying her as the Oz campaign’s ‘Philadelphia County Coordinator,’ above a “doctorozforsenate.com” email address.” • Life’s rich pageant!


“‘He’s Developing Blinkers’: Has Ron DeSantis Let All the Winning Go to His Head?” [Politico]. • Worth a read. I know editors editorialize with photos, here’s the photo Politico splashed for this article:

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.

* * *

Well, at least we’ve moved beyond the race card to the idpol card:

The worst part is funding Nazis. Wait, the worst part is fomenting nuclear war. It’s beyond absurd to file this incident under “civility.” Apples go bad awful fast in the Washington barrel, and watching @AOC squander her potential has been one of the less pleasant experiences of the last few years. I mean, this is the Democrat bench? The ones who will save us when some meteor strike finally whacks the dinosaurs?

Republican Funhouse

We can hope:

“How an urban myth about litter boxes in schools became a GOP talking point” [NBC]. “At least 20 conservative candidates and elected officials have claimed this year that K-12 schools are placing litter boxes on campus or making other accommodations for students who identify as cats, according to an NBC News review of public statements. Every school district that has been named by those 20 politicians said either to NBC News or in public statements that these claims are untrue. There is no evidence that any school has deployed litter boxes for students to use because they identify as cats. NBC News found one example of a school district keeping cat litter on campuses for students to use — but it had nothing to do with accommodating children who identify as animals…. In Colorado, GOP gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl insisted in several recent interviews that students were dressing and identifying as cats, disrupting class, and the state’s schools were tolerating it. Some children, she alleged, would only communicate in barks and hisses. Her campaign declined to answer questions about Ganahl’s claims, but in one interview with a local Fox affiliate, she suggested ‘there’s a lot of this going on’ in Jefferson County. The Jefferson County school district disputed Ganahl’s claims and said its dress code prohibits costumes at school. The district — where Columbine High School is located — has been stocking classrooms with small amounts of cat litter since 2017, but as part of “go buckets” that contain emergency supplies in case students are locked in a classroom during a shooting. The buckets also contain candy for diabetic students, a map of the school, flashlights, wet wipes and first aid items.” • Gad.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The voting machine hacking threat you probably haven’t heard about” [Politico]. “There’s a largely overlooked hacking target that could help those who want to sow doubt about vote tallies in the November midterms: cellular modems that transmit unofficial election-night results. The modems, which send vote data from precincts to central offices using cellphone networks, help election officials satisfy the public’s demand for rapid results. But putting any networking connection on an election system opens up new ways to attack it that don’t require physical access to machines, and security experts say the risks aren’t worth the rewards. ‘You’re counting on a bunch of infrastructure to deliver data back and forth, and it’s well within the capabilities of nation-state hackers to break into that infrastructure,’ said Dan Wallach, a Rice University computer science professor who has repeatedly exposed flaws in election equipment. While tampering with unofficial results wouldn’t actually corrupt an election’s outcome, it could fuel misinformation about both the accuracy of the vote tally and the integrity of the process.” • I certainly have heard about it; it’s madness. (“State actors” includes all States, including our own, I would assume.)


“Readout of the White House Summit on Improving Indoor Air Quality” [Whitehouse.gov]. “In addition to new, updated COVID-19 vaccines and lifesaving treatments, improving indoor air quality within the buildings we use every day is an essential part of the Biden Administration’s plan to manage COVID-19 this fall and winter. As people spend more time indoors this fall and winter, contagious viruses like COVID-19 can spread more easily. The Administration has called on business and school leaders to take key steps to improve indoor air quality in their buildings as a key way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” Oh, great. “Has called on.” Heaven forfend there should be, say, OSHA regulations. Oddly, there seem to be no unions represented at this conference: Not teachers, not airline attendants, not nurses. Odd! (And odd that the unions didn’t muscle their way in. Indeed, unions have been curiously absent from the whole #CovidIsAirborne discussion.)

* * *

• ”The Masks We’ll Wear in the Next Pandemic” [The Atlantic]. “For some pandemic-prevention experts, the takeaway here is that pharmaceutical interventions alone simply won’t cut it. Though shots and drugs may be essential to softening a virus’s blow once it arrives, they are by nature reactive rather than preventive. To guard against future pandemics, what we should focus on, some experts say, is attacking viruses where they’re most vulnerable, before pharmaceutical interventions are even necessary. Specifically, they argue, we should be focusing on the air we breathe…. Abraar Karan, an infectious-disease physician and global-health expert at Stanford, told me. ‘The one thing that’s stayed consistent is the route of transmission.’ The most fearsome pandemics are airborne.” Scream at the top of your lungs for a year, win every brutal scientific combat, as the aerosol/airborne scientists have done, and get thrown into the “some experts” bucket [pounds head on desk]. Nor, apparently, are any of these scientists in the author’s Rolodex. Only an infectious disease expert from Stanford (i.e., the crowd that pushed droplet dogma until the dogma wouldn’t hunt). More: “Stanford’s Karan envisions a world in which everyone in the country has their own elastomeric respirator—not, in most cases, for everyday use, but available when necessary. Rather than constantly replenishing your stock of reusable masks, you would simply swap out the filters in your elastomeric (or perhaps it will be a PAPR) every so often. The mask would be transparent, so that a friend could see your smile, and relatively comfortable, so that you could wear it all day without it cutting into your nose or pulling on your ears. When you came home at night, you would spend a few minutes disinfecting it.” • My friends know I can smile with my eyes, ffs. Gawd, I hate that trope. In any case, readers know that I too have been screaming for masks to become a consumer good, indeed a fashion item, like Nike shoes. We know how to do this.

* * *

• Disagreeing with Vinay Prasad is good, actually. A thread:

Worth noting that the anti-mask contingent, at least in high PM2.5 areas, cares neither about spreading Covid, nor about the health effects of PM2.5 (significant, as the thread shows). Why, it’s almost as if “living in fear” was a mere talking point!

• One more:

• We learn nothing:

* * *


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 and more blue, which continues to please. But is the pandemic “over”? Well….


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, October 13:


Lambert here: I forgot to update the date. In fact, Walgreens has been updating faithfully, unlike some I could mention. Also, I have added an anti-triumphalist black “Fauci Line” to remind us all that even though Biden says the pandemic is over, and even though the positivity rate is dropping, it is still at the second highest point it has even been.

Readers, please click through on this, if you have a minute. Since Walgreens did the right thing, let’s give this project some stats.


STILL NOT UPDATED FFS Wastewater data (CDC), September 24:

Lambert here: Note the dates, which moved backward from October 4 to September 24. Some sort of backward revision? In any case, we are now 18 19 days behind on wastewater data. Good job with the leading indicator, CDC. Adding: Looks like we’ve moved to once a week, here? If so, then this wording in the page header needs to be corrected: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates Mon-Fri by 8pm ET†.” And the note: “†Data will update Monday through Friday as soon as they are reviewed and verified, oftentimes before 8 pm ET. Updates will occur the following day when reporting coincides with a federal holiday. Note: Daily updates (Mon-Fri) might be delayed due to delays in reporting.” Oh.

October 4:


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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].

Variant data, national (Walgreens), October 1:

Variant data, national (CDC), September 24 (Nowcast off):

Here is Fiegel-Ding today’s release:

Caveat: Fiegel-Ding’s screen shot uses the CDC’s Nowcast model, which is a projection. I refuse to use CDC’s models, which is why our screen shots differ. Nonetheless, my “Nowcast” screen shot shows significant doubling behavior by BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. And yes, CDC did retroactively add them, but that was because (see the highlighted portion in the notes on my screen shot at bottom right) CDC had previously aggregated them under BA.5. Previously, it looked like BA.5 was shrinking, and BA.4.6 was increasing. Now it turns out that the real danger — BQ.1.1 is very immune evasive, “even able to dodge most neutralizing antibodies elicited by infection with BA.5″ — was hidden in BA.5 after all. This is not, to put it mildly, a stellar example of scientific communication by CDC. And since BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are moving allong quite nicely, it will be interesting to see where we are with them by the time the Thanksgiving holiday system is upon us. At CDC’s stately pace, that’s only five releases away..


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,089,916 – 1,089,385 = 531 (531 * 365 = 193,815, 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. NOTE I may need to configure this as well.

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

Patient readers, I’d like to beef up this section again, having beefed down the Covid section (because the Centers for Disease doesn’t believe in data). This will take a bit of time, as I get back in form. –lambert

Retail: “United States Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US rose by 8.2 percent year-on-year in September 2022, easing from an upwardly revised 9.4 percent growth in the previous month. It was the smallest increase in retail trade since April, as high inflation and rising borrowing costs hit demand.”

* * *

Investing: “BlackRock Gets Read the Right Wing’s Riot Act” [John Authers, Bloomberg]. “This letter to Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock Inc., from John Schroder, Louisiana’s state treasurer, is well worth reading. In it, he explains why BlackRock’s espousal of ESG funds (although the money it runs for Louisiana is not on an ESG basis) has led the state to divest from all BlackRock funds. It expresses the philosophy of opposition to environmental, social and governance investing most eloquently. But the bottom line, I fear, is that it cedes an essential point to the backers of ESG. Fund managers are allowed to take the broader interests of their members into account, and not just the narrowly financial ones; and it is perfectly justifiable to base investment decisions on political ends or principles. Most of BlackRock’s funds are not run on an ESG basis, and Schroder accepts that the the company invests in plenty of energy companies. However, it is necessary to take this measure to protect the interests of people in Louisiana who rely on the oil industry.”

Banking: “Custodia Bank accuses Fed of favoritism toward BNY Mellon” [Banking Dive]. “The Federal Reserve’s granting BNY Mellon the ability to take custody of clients’ crypto assets is an example of the regulator showing favoritism toward an incumbent financial institution, digital-asset bank Custodia Bank said in a court brief it filed Wednesday… Dollar and digital bank Custodia, which has been waiting 2½ years for a Fed master account, sued the Federal Reserve in June over what it claims is an ‘unlawful delay’ in processing its application.” • Custodia. Wyoming. Digital Assets. Crypto. Sounds legit.

Concentration: “Why A Kroger/Albertsons Merger Is A Bad Idea” [Forbes]. “The combination would be great for investors and top executives, who have extracted windfall profits from both chains since the pandemic began, pocketing billions in dividends and buybacks. Profit margins have soared as a result of price inflation above the rate of cost increases, alongside record sales from greater consumer demand for stay at home cooking, store brands and comfort foods.” So what’s the issue? More: “A merger may make it tougher for unions; a 2004 grocery strike for better wages in California was squashed once Kroger and Albertsons joined forces against their own employees. And a merger would also mean large scale layoffs in redundant white collar jobs, such as office-based marketing, procurement, analytics, digital sales and category management roles. And the combination would mean big problems for nearly everyone else in the supply chain.”

Labor Market: “Intel Is Planning Thousands of Job Cuts in Face of PC Slump” [Bloomberg]. “Intel Corp. is planning a major reduction in headcount, likely numbering in the thousands, to cut costs and cope with a sputtering personal-computer market, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The layoffs will be announced as early as this month, with the company planning to make the move around the same time as its third-quarter earnings report on Oct. 27, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The chipmaker had 113,700 employees as of July.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 21 Extreme Fear (previous close: 24 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 21 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 14 at 1:38 PM EDT. No crash yet.

Book Nook

“Tinker, tailor, lover, spy” [Times Literary Supplement]. “Le Carré had many things to hide, some more germane to his published work than others. His life breaks neatly into two parts: the first, by far the more absorbing, if disquieting, includes a childhood marked by appalling abuse and neglect courtesy of his charming con-artist father, who lurched from the high life (hosting the visiting Australian Test team, owning racehorses, standing for parliament) to the low (several bankruptcies, the ruthless defrauding of family and friends, a number of prison sentences served in jails across the world). Le Carré and his brother Tony were abandoned by their mother when still small, and educated in the cold and brutal world of British boarding schools; he wrote to his brother Tony in 2007, when he was seventy-five, that their parents ‘fucked us up rotten.’ Le Carré was picked up as a student by MI5 and later moved to MI6. In 1958 John Marriot, the head of personnel at MI5, astutely asked him, ‘have you got over your father yet?’ (He never did.) At Oxford he had pretended to fall in with the Communists, informing on his fellow students. For MI6 he was based in Germany. In the early 1960s, when The Spy Who Came in from the Cold made him suddenly and unimaginably rich, le Carré left the service, and for the next fifty years or so was a millionaire celebrity writer of espionage fiction, and a persistent philanderer.”

The Gallery

How I feel after I’ve had my coffee too (and could Vuillard actually draw?):

Readers, that was a terrific discussion we had yesterday on photography. I hope if we have artists in another other visual/spatial media that they will feel free to weigh in generally, as a matter of course. Painters, sculptors, musicians etc.

Class Warfare

“How We Create–Then Blame–A Viral Underclass” (interview) [Steven Thrasher, MedScape]. On Thrasher’s The Viral Underclass; the interviewer is Eric Topol (!). Long and well worth a read. Here is one nugget: “viruses give us this map of understanding that there is no distinct me and distinct you. There’s always this organic material that potentially can be transmitting between us, and our fates are linked to one another. … Viruses are continually telling us that the fates of people on the globe are connected to each other. The risk we always have is not the same, but our fates are connected to one another. As we think about climate change and the changes that are going to happen in the world, there are lots of lessons that we’ve had in the past few years. The most powerful to me is that we’re always going to have a connection to one another, whether we like it or not. And the borders that we imagine to be very strong around gender, race, or nationality are fictions. The viruses can cross between them, and they give us a map for learning how to work with one another in an interconnected way.”

Union youth:

What an amazing story. I’m coming around to the idea that an important story on unions is these bottom up efforts. Sort of a “50 state strategy,” except for unions; away from the chokepoints in the supply chains, but in every city and town (and farm).

News of the Wired

“A man who lost 80 pounds on a ‘game changer’ weight-loss drug also lost his desire to drink alcohol. Experts say the drug could be a treatment for addiction” [Business Insider]. “Some patients taking the weight-loss drug semaglutide were surprised it reduced their urge to drink. The drug affects the brain’s reward circuits, decreasing addictive behaviors as well as hunger. At least one doctor says he’s successfully using it to treat patients with alcohol-use disorder.” • Hmm. A miracle cure?

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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) From PH:

PH writes: “The flowers (black knapweed, Centaurea nigra) certainly aren’t glamorous, but the pollinating butterfly (small tortoiseshell, Aglais urticae) does raise the tone.”

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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. Carla

    Lambert: “I’d really like to see that puppy-killing charlaton Oz eviscerated, but I’m not sure Fetterman is that sort of politician.”

    If Fetterman could accomplish it with humor, that would be ideal. I’m not sure there’s a more humorless man on the planet than Mehmet Oz.

    P.S. I’m not seeing a plantidote yet.

  2. hunkerdown

    Alas, actor Robbie Coltrane has departed us. He was in some pop culture features, sure, but his bit parts helped shape the art form of 1980s Britcom. Those who enjoy anti-social, obnoxious consulting criminal psychologists solving unsolvable crimes would definitely enjoy him in Cracker.

  3. laughingsong

    “How an urban myth about litter boxes in schools became a GOP talking point”

    I’m sure they are also being inclusive and laying out newspaper for those who are puppy-adjacent. . . /sarc

    1. Objective Ace

      I have zero reason to believe this is accurate, but it also strikes me as the kind of thing a school wouldnt exactly want to be forthcoming about if they got a call from a news station. I dont really care one way or the other, but what the school districts say doesnt strike me as a “smoking gun”. Are they really aware what every teacher/administrator might be doing throughout the district? (or at least have plausible deniability that they were not aware)

      1. semper loquitur

        It’s no surprise to hear that people are believing in litter boxes in classrooms. There is equally crazy stuff going down. I’m sure they are the minority, but there are a slew of teachers on Tik-Tok and related social media platforms who are loud and proud about discussing their personal lives with their students, encouraging students to ignore their parent’s concerns about their “identities”, and turning their classrooms into advertisements for their ideology.

        The Right is making a metric $hit-ton of hay out of all of this. There is the channel “Libs of Tik-Tok” that features mostly teachers. Youtube has it’s share of them as well. Most commentators that I’ve seen don’t bother to differentiate between the blue-haired loons and teachers in general. They just smear teachers and then go on to talk down public education. The comments sections reflect the same thinking: it’s all home-schooling and private schools are the answer. The fact that the vast majority of Americans don’t have the time, the training, or the money to turn to such alternatives is lost on them, of course. Any notion of the public good, that an educated public is necessary for a functioning society, has never come up in the conversations.

        1. GramSci

          The thing for me is that “home schools” need, in the very first place, a lawyer to tick all the regulatory boxes that will protect parents from the truant officers (sorry, showing my age) ‘Child Protective Services’. Being able to send your child to a certified ‘home school’ is an exhibition of conspicuous consumption.

          We don’t have to be talking St Albans School–that’s the ‘democratic’ part (wink-wink). Once the lawyer-box has been ticked, at no matter how humble the level of socioeconomic certification, ‘Social Darwinism’ is the lesson being taught and the distinction is always invidious.

    2. Stephen V

      I object! When this rumor blew through here last week it was not about cats, but rather: [Wikipedia]
      A furry is a person who is interested in or creates fictional animal characters who have human traits.

  4. Pat

    I’m happy to see AOC’s deflection/condemnation of the protesters being decimated in that thread. And they didn’t even get to Lambert’s “worse” comparisons.

    If the Republican candidates for House and Senate in my district want my vote all they have to do is promise to fully investigate Russiagate. This would not be limited to but would absolutely include forcing Hillary Clinton to testify under oath. I’ll feel a twinge, but hey I once voted for her and Obama, this won’t make me feel any worse.

    And I swear that I’ll do my best to make “puppy-killing charlatan” a description Mehmet Oz never escapes.

    1. will rodgers horse

      “watching @AOC squander her potential has been one of the less pleasant experiences of the last few years.”
      watching her squander her VIRTUAL potential you mean. Likely all lies from the start. Too made for Hollywood.

      1. SocalJimObjects

        Expecting a politician to be honest is like that old economic trick, “assume there’s an honest politician!!”.

        Power corrupts.

        1. John D.

          Either she was a complete phony to start with, or she meant well and was just corrupted by Washington. A sadly familiar story we’ve seen plenty of times.

          If it’s the latter at work here – and I suspect it is – it’s particularly sad because (a.) it didn’t take very long at all in her case, and (b.) she probably still thinks she’s genuinely progressive, and I’m sure she’s honestly perplexed as to why so many of the people who voted for her no longer support her.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Unfortunately from things that I have read, it is the former. The whole AOC gig was a psyop from the get go.

          2. SocalJimObjects

            I am not anti AOC or anything, but I don’t think it matters whether she was a phony or not. Says she meant well, well in order to get anything done at all in Washington, presumably she’s had to make some compromises, otherwise her constituents will probably turn on her for having accomplished “nothing”. I am very tired of hearing “X will drain the swamp”, “Y will drain the swamp”, “Z will drain the swamp”. All I know is the swamp drained Jesus. Sorry to sound so pessimistic, but seems like history keeps repeating itself.

    2. The Rev Kev

      And here I thought that she would appreciate somebody “bringing the ruckus”. And if she was so concerned at a **deaf constituent** asking a question, how would they ever hear her answer? A year or two ago I thought that AOC wanted to be eventually the Nancy Pelosi replacement but I don’t think that she will be on the scene so long. I see that Michael McFaul was at Stanford recently because the Azov Nazis were there doing PR work and fundraising. I wonder if we will ever see AOC also put in an appearance with them-


    1. antidlc

      I was talking to some IBM retirees. They are being forced to switch to Medicare Advantage or forgo their HRA (which can be thousands of dollars). They are currently on Medigap and want to stay there, but will have to switch to one of two Medicare Advantage plans, or they will lose their HRA dollars. I know one retiree who stands to lose $25,000 in HRA funds if he does not switch.

      Welcome, IBM Retiree Benefits Participant

      We are excited to welcome you to our new retiree benefit offerings – designed exclusively for IBM retiree benefit participants eligible for Medicare. You will have a choice of two IBM-sponsored Group Medicare Advantage Plans– the Enhanced Plan and the Essential Plan. These plan options provide broad protection and unique features not available to you today through individual plans. You may also remain enrolled in your current plans, but will no longer receive IBM’s subsidy.

      That “IBM subsidy” is thousands of dollars for some retirees.

      1. flora

        That’s a hard choice IBM is forcing on their retirees. IBM must think it’s profitable to pay people to leave traditional Medicare.

        1. flora

          Or, put another way, profitable to continue paying HRA only to people who leave traditional Medicare. (That would raise my eyebrow if presented such a choice.)

          1. Earthling

            Yikes. So, the actuaries have determined people live shorter lives on Advantage, so the total payout IBM is liable for would decline if they force peole to use it?

            I knew a lady who lived to 98 using full-Cadillac-coverage from an IBM husband who died long ago. Maybe the suits have decided since they overpaid in the past it’s ethical to underpay going forward.

  5. Amfortas the hippie

    “… Painters, sculptors, musicians etc. …”

    ..and homesteaders, permaculturers, place-based-systems-thinkers, etc.
    i consider my whole 5 acre part of the place…bisected by county road, no less…as an art installation, demonstration(of building with trash), and religious monolith.
    its also a nascent system of flows of energy and nutrients and water.
    and its already a food engine…and next year, barring more crazy, an even more productive and efficient food engine.
    (ie: things like a thrd chicken house inside the giant greenhouse,( that we’re fixin to cover again, after 20 years), for to better utilise their services, including mere body heat during dec-feb)
    simple complexity.
    it becomes a way of life.

    1. Watt4Bob

      i consider my whole 5 acre part of the place…bisected by county road, no less…as an art installation, demonstration(of building with trash), and religious monolith.

      Art school drop out myself, my wife is a sculptor, my son is a master printer, daughter a director of theatre, and all would agree that what you describe is the work of an artist.

      And, at the same time an act of resistance.

      On the permaculture angle, it’s amazing how beautiful the land inevitably becomes as a result of the constant attention of someone who cares, and understands that cooperation with the earth’s various inclinations can, and will lead to abundance.

      If permaculture gardens are not works of art, I don’t know what is.

  6. XXYY

    … schools are placing litter boxes on campus or making other accommodations for students who identify as cats.

    I actually like this. Is there some law that if we can make up our own identity, it must be confined to our own species? If a woman can identify as a man, can a human not identify as a cat? At least we won’t have the problem of cats using the wrong restroom, and cats are not going to be trying to order inappropriate cakes for their wedding. Overall, humans who identify as cats will be a lot less troublesome than humans who identify as humans.

    Cats have already gone pretty far down the road of identifying as humans, by the way.

    1. Acacia

      “Law”? I gather that’s long out the window and we’re already supposed to be fully onboard with cross-species identities, e.g., furries, wolf mamas, etc. and if you disagree then you’re a horrible hater who deserves to be censored, deplatformed, fired from your job, have rocks thrown through the windows of your house, etc.

  7. Karl

    RE: Biden declares Post Cold War era over

    This November voters may declare the Biden-Neocon foreign policy era is over.

  8. SocalJimObjects

    “Tinker, tailor, lover, spy”. I am pretty sure the conman father character in LeCarre’s A Perfect Spy was inspired by his own father.

  9. The Rev Kev

    Aaron Maté on Tucker Carlson calling out the Squad & Bernie Sanders for supporting war-

    ‘Aaron Maté
    The Squad & Bernie Sanders have voted in lockstep with GOP and Democratic neocons to funnel billions into the weapons industry and fuel the disastrous Ukraine proxy war — all while Biden openly rejects diplomacy. As we saw this week, anti-war constituents are calling them on it’

    https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1580736780168359937 (1:12 min video)

    On the other hand-

    ‘Defund Ukraine
    AOC receives high praise from noted progressive ally Liz Cheney for her vote to send weapons to Ukraine.

    “While I disagree with AOC on a lot of things, her vote to send weapons to Ukraine gets an A+ from me” said the spawn of Dick Cheney’


    1. Jason Boxman

      Always stuck me as a performative hack. Eat the rich? Really? At a high end social event you’re still attending? As a dress? Lame. She’ll have a long wealthy career as a liberal Democrat hack though. Gotta keep them in the veal pen.

      1. hunkerdown

        Correction, the dress only said “Tax The Rich”. Which, to a person made of property (Graeber (2007)), probably feels a lot like being eaten.

        “Eat the Rich” would be actually revolutionary, and PMCs like all other ‘reformists’ constitute a counter-revolutionary social formation.

        “Double your performativity, double your fun!”

  10. Anon

    Call me a cynic, but I just realized Tulsi left because she didn’t want to go down with the USS Bandera.

    I believe she has long been a foreign policy critic, but come now… certainly a good reason to leave, but the warmongering of the Dems is not some revelation. It’s as if she woke up and discovered she had lady parts, and is lamenting standing and peeing this whole time. Messy, eh, Gabbard?

  11. wol

    I could go for the Derain without the red facial doodads and talons. Then it could read like a Kandinsky.

  12. SocalJimObjects

    “A man who lost 80 pounds on a ‘game changer’ weight-loss drug also lost his desire to drink alcohol.”

    I didn’t lose that much, just 33 pounds plus and I lost it naturally. I also lost the desire to eat most of the bad food that I used to consume. It’s pretty simple IMO, once you’ve realized how much better your life is without all those extra weight, why would you want to go back to your old bad habits? Of course the question is how long you can keep up your good habits? If the drug actually manages to keep the guy off alcohol forever, then it’s a REAL game changer, otherwise, it’s nothing IMO.

    1. lambert strether

      I thought that was ridiculous. Destroy something that should be preserved from the wreckage?

      1. Acacia

        Yes, though they will probably say that they knew the painting is protected by glass and they just did this to draw attention to “the issue”. My sense, though, is that by attacking a painting in this way, they have tied their statement in the realm of art, and it’s hard not to see this as lame performance art.

        It’s been done before (Mona Lisa attack), so how does this expand or change our awareness of the issue. I’m not seeing it, I guess.

        1. hunkerdown

          Debate is a myth. The point of middle-class protest is not to raise awareness, but to advertise their property claims over culture and deify themselves as moral arbiters. It’s the PMC creating the particular, specific kinds of people they want to be, that’s all.

      2. griffen

        Fight Club inspiring a new generation, perhaps ? Such as after the scene where Norton’s character has summarily disfigured the face of young Jared Leto’s character.

        Where did you go? I wanted to destroy something beautiful.

  13. Jason Boxman

    Going back to to earlier water coolers, BA4.6 was at ~ 12% back on 9/10 and still is on this latest Walgreens variant update, so it looks like I’m going to be wrong. Biden’s winter of death will be some other variant. But you go with the data you’ve got, and it looked probable at the time.

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