2:00PM Water Cooler 10/17/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon), Marin, California, United States. “Singing Male, Calling Female, Juvenile begging calls.”

* * *


“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

“President addresses possibility of Hunter Biden prosecution” [Politico]. “‘I have great confidence in my son,’ Biden said in a pre-taped interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. ‘I love him and he’s on the straight and narrow, and he has been for a couple years now. And I’m just so proud of him.'” • And before?


* * *

GA: Walker lands a punch:

I don’t believe he’s right, but that’s hardly the point.

PA: “Do Voters Care About John Fetterman’s Stroke?” [The Atlantic]. “Even if his campaign could have been more forthcoming earlier about his condition, it is true that Fetterman has found a way of talking about it since he returned to the trail in late summer. Near the beginning of his stump speech, he asks: ‘How many of you have had your own personal health challenges?’ And every time, nearly every hand in the audience goes up. Last week, I traveled to Bristol to see Fetterman in action. ‘I’ve had a hemorrhagic stroke, which is worse,” Jeanette Miller from Bristol Township told me with a shrug when I asked her whether Fetterman’s stroke gave her pause. Rob Blatt, a retiree from Feasterville, looked at me blankly when I asked him the same. “I’ve beaten cancer and a whole bunch of other stuff,’ he said. ‘He’s one of us—a working man trying to do the right thing by his family, his community, and his country.'” • We’ll see.

PA: “John Fetterman is the best choice to represent Pennsylvania’s priorities in the U.S. Senate | Endorsement” [The Inquirer]. “Fetterman knows what his values are and is capable of communicating them. The same cannot be said for his opponent, Mehmet Oz, a puppy-killing charlatan man wholly unprepared to be Pennsylvania’s U.S. senator…. Oz’s resumé is also notably devoid of any significant record of public service. A celebrity doctor who once had his own television program, Oz spent much of his career touting miracle cures.”

PA: I am totally not curious about urine:

I already have too many people telling me it’s rain.

PA: “Why Pennsylvania may not have election night results and why that’s OK” [ABC]. “Pennsylvania is unlikely to have results on election night this November, the state’s top election official said Tuesday, because of a law limiting when mail votes can be processed. That means voters may again have to wait to learn who wins key races in the battleground state, where the vote count in 2020’s presidential election lasted for days. ‘We must again ask for patience,’ Leigh Chapman, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of state, told reporters over Zoom. ‘Official results will be available within a few days,’ she said, predicting that unofficial results also wouldn’t be available on Nov. 8. ‘This delay does not mean anything nefarious is happening. It simply means that the process is working as it is designed to work in Pennsylvania and that election officials are doing their job to count every vote.’ Chapman attributed the expected delay to the state’s General Assembly deciding not to pass legislation allowing counties to begin processing mail-in ballots before Election Day. As it stands, processing cannot begin until 7 a.m. that day.”


“Why Kamala Harris is already among the most consequential vice presidents in history” [The Hill]. A low bar. Nevertheless: “On May 11, Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote in favor of Alvaro Bedoya’s nomination to serve on the Federal Trade Commission. This brought Harris to number three on the list of most tiebreaking votes by a vice president in American history. Since then, Harris has cast a six tiebreaking votes and is just five away from tying John C. Calhoun for the record. Yet Harris’s accomplishment also stands out for the fact that she has cast her tiebreaking votes at a faster rate than any of her predecessors. The magnitude of Harris’s record over less than two years in office is best appreciated when compared to now-President Biden’s zero tiebreaking votes during his eight years as vice president. Biden was the only two-term vice president in American history never to cast a tiebreaking vote.” • I’m not sure Calhoun would be at the top of my list of “consequential vice presidents,” at least if the consequences were to be good.

“As Democrats try to hold on in November, it’s Pete Buttigieg who’s in demand on the campaign trail” [CNN]. “And yet, it’s Buttigieg – whose only political experience before his failed presidential bid was serving as mayor of South Bend, Indiana – who has become the most requested surrogate on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates in the midterms, people familiar with the requests tell CNN. He’s so in demand that he’s getting more requests than Vice President Kamala Harris, those sources tell CNN – but still fewer than President Joe Biden – as Democrats look to defend their narrow congressional majorities and win governor’s races in November. With invitations flowing into the White House and the Democratic National Committee, a relatively low-ranking Cabinet secretary’s staff has to choose between Democratic candidates trying to chase him down. There’s no precedent for this. But there’s also no precedent for the winner of the Iowa caucuses becoming Transportation secretary and proving more agile on camera than the vice president and Biden.” • ”People familiar with the requests….”

“Trump Spent 91 Cents to Raise Each Dollar as Troubles Mounted” [Bloomberg]. “Former President Donald Trump raised $24 million in the third quarter, a 41% increase over the previous quarter, but he spent $22 million to do it…. It’s not the first time that Trump’s small-dollar fundraising operation has had low returns for its spending. In the third quarter of 2020, Trump Make America Great Again, the small-dollar donor arm of his re-election effort, spent 77 cents to raise each dollar. Still, the money he’s brought in is unprecedented for a former president. Since losing the 2020 election, Trump has raised $387 million and, despite the low rate of return in the third quarter, is flush with cash at a time when many of his party’s candidates are being outraised in the midterms.” • That’s a lot, especially since Trump is a frugal candidate.

2016 Post Mortem

An excellent, or at least lavish, yarn diagram for 2016:

From the Epoch Times, no less….

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.

* * *

Obama Legacy

Obama makes my shoulders sag:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Decline of the City Upon a Hill” [Foreign Affairs]. “To regain that lost stature, American democracy must overcome the challenges of partisan politics, institutional gridlock, and instability. The U.S. government will need to prove that it is able to produce sustainable international policies that the United States’ friends and foes alike can count on. This job is too important to be left solely to those preoccupied with domestic issues. The foreign policy establishment needs to see the revival of American democracy as the cornerstone of future U.S. global leadership. This will require direct engagement with the American public, not unlike the concerted effort to promote the Marshall Plan to reluctant Americans in 1947 and 1948. It is not simply a sales job; policymakers must first listen to Americans to try to understand and alleviate their frustrations with their democracy in the interest of maintaining and strengthening U.S. influence in the world.” • The press and the intelligence community have seamlessly merged where all discussions of foreign policy and “our democracy” are concerned. How is that not “direct engagement with the public”? I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve made the “intelligence agencies the guarantors of ‘the institutional order of the Republic,” but here we are. And since when do policymakers “first listen to Americans”? Honestly, the last people who did that — in their very different ways — were Sanders and Trump, and look what happened to them. (Idea: Early in 2024, vat-grown McKinsey creepozoid Pete Buttigieg could take a page from Hillary’s playbook and do a “listening tour.”)

“Please Just Throw Me a Bone with the Wesleyan Argus Controversy” [Freddie DeBoer]. “You have to understand this to understand our media class: the number one priority in their entire lives, above and beyond literally any other, is to earn insider status with other people in media. That’s it. That is their lodestar, their true north. They want other people in media to see them as cool and smart and fuckable, and most of all they want to have the right opinions, the opinions that the group doesn’t laugh at. The mirror image of the desperation to be considered cool is the intense, all-consuming fear of being made fun of by cool people in media. Look at the way they write, report, communicate with each other; these people are absolutely terrified that someone’s going to take something they say and hold it up for mockery on Twitter. This seems to me to be pretty much exactly the opposite attitude you should want among writers and journalists, who literally can only perform their function when they are pissing most people off. But that’s the professional culture of media, a culture defined by the fear of being made fun of.” • Indeed. Worth reading in full. (DeBoer’s accurate skewering of the press is a bit tangential to the thrust of the piece.)

Greenwald is correct:

The Democrats have a strong case for the reality of election theft: Certainly 2020 2000, where Jebbie diddled the voter rolls so that brother W would win. Likely 2004, for anybody who followed the Ohio returns. But the Democrats aren’t making that case, and it shows difference in operational capability between the two parties: The Democrats are exuding aghastitude and relying on their friends in Big Tech to control the narrative (and potentially the intelligence community to dispute the results). The Republicans are going out and running candidates for office.

Term limits:

Quite right (though note that liberals can and do exactly the same as “the right does,” although they tend to use NGOs rather than talent agencies. Or the intelligence community). Also, in Maine we discovered that with term limits, the legislature had no institutional memory at all. The only people who knew what the laws meant were the lawyers who wrote them (and they had interests other than the voters’ in mind).


• Just in time for the Winter Surge (antidlc):

To be fair, this was always a lousy page, because as CDC says, they didn’t track inventory. Nevertheless, the “scientific communication” is excellent; the messaging is crystal clear, good job CDC.

• ”The World’s Best Airport Lounges Will Cost You. Are the Perks Worth It?” [Wall Street Journal]. • I read all this with a view to filing it under Guillotine Watch, but at the very end: “Some lounges offer the most basic cure for claustrophobia of all—fresh air. Take Delta Sky Clubs, many of which have outdoor Sky Decks, a combination patio and observation zone for plane spotting. At LAX, home to one of Delta’s newest and biggest spaces, the deck has a retractable roof and heaters so it can be enjoyed in any weather. At Swiss’s Zurich lounge, passengers can wait out layovers on a terrace with views of the Alps.” • So in other words, outdoor air — air that, presumably, you don’t need to use your CO2 meter to check — is available only to those with first-class tickets or elite status, or (sometimes) premium credit cards. Welcome to the future!

* * *

• WHO supports fomite transmission of Covid:

Greenhalgh: “Hand hygiene as “one of the most important measures to stop covid-19” NO. Never a shred of evidence.”

• WHO continues to deny airborne transmission of Covid:

Yes, this disgraceful tweet is still up. (If the world were the way the Hospital Infection Control community believes it to be, this would not be such lethal advice; handwashing is good, after all. But out in the world, where HIC lacks hegemony, handwashing doesn’t help against Covid at all, and #CovidIsAirborne. The scientific communication is again, excellent; the message is crystal clear. Many lies are.

* * *

• This is cute (really):

• This is important, because Swift has an enormous following in the Windows administrator community:

• I continue to be encouraged by the propagation of CR boxes. The karma always seems to be good; the attitude, unselfish. More good karma:

• The same good karma CO2 metering:

* * *

• Masks as fashion items (at last):

* * *

• On Ebola, a thread:

The tweets on asymptomatic and airborne transmission are especially interesting, although granted they chime with my priors.

* * *


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


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, October 16:


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


Wastewater data (CDC), October 11:

Lambert here: CDC seems to have gotten its wastewater act together, for the moment, which is good news. That said, what a bizarre map: Note that Ohio seems to be almost entirely shut down (grey dots = no data). Good news: New York (JFK; EWR) is in the system, and blue. Other entrepots like LAX and SFO also blue.

September 24:

Lambert here: Still unexplained is CDC’s detour to October 11 from October 4 via September 24.


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):

• Field guide to the variants of the week:

• BQ.1.* in New York City:

Time to head to the Hamptons or the Hudson Valley?

• Here is an excellent thread on CDC’s BQ.1.* butchery, where they allowed BQ.1.* to reach 12% (their forecast) without telling anybody about it:

CDC only broke the data out from the BA.5 lineage when it affected hospitals:

And CDC has been sitting on the data:

People could, perhaps, be making their “personal risk assessments” on vaccination or boostering while assuming that the current variants are not immune-evasive. But BQ,1.* is immune-evasive. Eric Topol: “‘It’s not going to wipe out vaccine efficacy, but it could but a dent in protection against hospitalizations and death,’ he said.” So the case for getting vaccinated — to prevent hospitalizations and death — is now weaker than it was. How do the data butchers at CDC expect us to make “personal risk assessments” while at the same time hiding the very data that would allow us to do that?


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,090,536 – 1,089,916 = 620 (620 * 365 = 226,300, which is today’s LivingWith™ number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the LivingWith™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease.

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

* * *

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index dropped 7.6 points to -9.1 in October 2022, compared with market expectations of -4.0 and suggesting business activity in the New York State declined for a third straight month. The new orders index was unchanged at 3.7, indicating a slight increase in orders, while the shipments index plunged 19.9 points to -0.3, pointing to a levelling off of shipments after they increased significantly last month. In addition, the unfilled orders index rose 3.8 points to -3.7, still pointing to a decline in the level of unfilled orders. Delivery times held steady, and inventories inched higher. Labor market indicators pointed to a small increase in employment and the average workweek.”

* * *

Supply Chain: “New supply chain chokepoints are forming along waterways vital to U.S. distribution of grain, oil and other commodities. Sections of the Mississippi River are approaching low water levels not seen in more than three decades… disrupting commercial traffic and threatening businesses that depend on the goods and the companies that transport them” [Wall Street Journal]. “The low water, caused by a lack of rain in the Ohio River Valley and the Upper Mississippi, has left barges grounded in unprecedented numbers. Many ports no longer have water deep enough for commercial boats to safely reach them. Authorities have started emergency dredging at various sites while farmers and factories rush to secure the shrinking number of passable spots or find alternate supply routes. Rail is one potential option, but it is usually costlier than river transport and railroads are coping with their own service constraints this year.” • “Service constraints” like a rail strike. I do hope the railroad unions understand the additional leverage they have here.

The Bezzle: “Stablecoin Mechanics 2: Tether-Celsius” [DataFinnovation]. “tl;dr: We found the Tether-Celsius loans, Tether’s equity investment into Celsius, and can therefore prove a lot about both defects in the Celsius business model and questionable conduct by Tether.”

Tech: “The big commercial purchasing that helped fuel electronics shipping over the past two years is on hold. Companies, governments and school districts that bulked up on computers during the pandemic are drastically scaling back. …. [T]he lull in purchasing has worsened throughout the year as high inflation, rising labor costs and recession fears have triggered a reassessment of procurement budgets” [Wall Street Journal]. “The decisions are behind a worldwide slump in demand for PCs that is hitting suppliers like Dell Technologies and HP and has started rolling across the airfreight sector. Global shipments of desktop and laptop computers fell in the third quarter by a record 18%, says market-research firm Canalys, with notebook shipments particularly hard hit. Overall U.S. consumer spending across the videogame business also fell 13% in the second quarter, suggesting the slump in demand for electronics goes beyond PCs.” • Well, no doubt the winter Covid surge will help out with this. It’s an ill virus…

Tech: “American Airlines is Trying to Stop a Popular iPhone App That’s Become a ‘Must Have’ For its Flight Attendants” [Paddle Your Own Canoe]. “American Airlines is using sophisticated ‘bot detection’ software to stop the developer of an iPhone app that has become popular amongst the airline’s flight attendants from accessing vital data that is needed to keep the app working. The ‘Sequence Decoder’ app has become a must-have tool for American Airlines flight attendants because it displays information required by crew members to manage their rosters and work lives in a single app. The app is particularly popular among the large number of ‘reserve’ flight attendants at American Airlines because it gives them more control over their schedules, and the app has other features such as a calculator to make sure crew are working to legal limits. American Airlines does not offer its own version of the app and has allegedly turned down requests from the app’s developer Jeff Reisberg to collaborate on the app. Instead, the Jeff’s self-developed app relies on bots to ‘scrape’ the data required to power it from AA’s computer systems. In fact, rather than working with Jeff, American Airlines has started to protect its websites with bot detection software that makes it ‘nearly impossible’ to collect data required to run Sequence Decoder.” • What did we bail these clowns our for (again)?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 29 Fear (previous close: 21 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 20 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 17 at 1:25 PM EDT. October, and no crash yet.

Photo Book

Normally, I don’t take portraits, or indeed create images of recognizable individuals, because I don’t buy the whole “Family of Man” concept to the slightest degree: “Steichen said the people ‘looked at the pictures, and the people in the pictures looked back at them. They recognized each other.'” I don’t think that’s true, and I think it’s an offensive claim; I, as a rich Westener with an extremely fancy camera, have very different concerns from the working class I might exploit for the jouissance of a putative “recognition.” Everybody hates a tourist. The heart-tugging leads straight to the propaganda pictures from Syria and Ukraine. That said, these photos from India by Steve MacCurry are extraordinary:

And this:

I don’t “recognize” these people. I suppose I could be said to “encounter” them.

Zeitgeist Watch

Yes, a wonderful story:

And also an example of the penetration of “intelligence” into popular culture. After all, the sharing is wonderful, but what is shared is paranoia, is it not?

Class Warfare

“More workers say Starbucks retaliated for union efforts: ‘I lost everything when they fired me’” [Guardian]. “Dozens of workers have now filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB alleging they’ve experienced retaliation for union organising, including terminations. On 12 October, a NLRB judge ruled in favor of four other fired Starbucks workers in Kansas and Missouri, ordering their reinstatement as well. The board has issued 35 complaints against Starbucks, encompassing more than 800 allegations of federal labor law violations as about 250 Starbucks stores have voted to form unions over the past year.” • My view: The stars should get the bucks.

“Mobile port workers set to strike next week as contract talks stall” [AL.com]. “Next week, if an agreement isn’t reached by midnight on October 20, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1410 will strike CSA Equipment Company, a stevedoring (unloading) provider at the port, after union membership voted not to accept CSA’s latest contract offer. Dock workers represented by Local 1410—about 800 people–will refuse to work with CSA, with very few exceptions. Though CSA is one of several stevedoring companies that are licensed to operate at the port, the strike is sure to have an impact on port operations, which continue to grow as the volume of containers that move through the port increase. ”

“You can only talk for so long” [London Review of Books]. An art heist on behalf of the IRA by one Rose Dugdale, an English heiress., This caught my eye: “The element of farce isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. Dugdale ought still to be a compelling character. She really did steal all those paintings, in addition to making a bombing run over a police station, and according to interviews she gave to O’Driscoll, developing bomb-making techniques that were used in several IRA attacks in the 1980s. The real problem, for anyone who wants to take her seriously, is her own overpowering sense of herself as a heroic and rosy-cheeked footsoldier of the struggle, brave and true, scourge of the running dog and the capitalist pig, friend to the working man, thorn in the side of the establishment. Long before any journalist looked at her life and thought it might make a fantastic book, Dugdale herself was busily writing up the opening paragraphs: a thrillerish, minute-by-minute account of the robbery, so perfectly reimagined for maximum drama that it calls into question the authenticity of the entire scene.” • Reminds me of the Weathermen.

“The Proletariat in Search of a Class, by Gaither Stewart” [Dandelion Salad]. • Bracketed by despairing remarks on the state of the American working class, in the middle we have the story of Olive Tilford Dargan, who wrote on the Gastonia, NC cotton mill strikes. Hers seems to be a voice worth recovering/recuperating. Although perhaps on TikTok….

News of the Wired

“When Sarcastic Fringeheads Open Their Mouths, Watch Out” [New York Times]. • Someone at the Times can still write a headline, I see.

“Renowned Arecibo telescope won’t be rebuilt — and astronomers are heartbroken” [Nature]. “One major question is how the Arecibo site will draw students and teachers if there is little active research to participate in. ‘Yet the NSF calls for proposals for a world-class educational institution,’ says Anne Virkki, a planetary scientist at the University of Helsinki in Finland. ‘How does anyone do that without the world-class scientists, engineers, and instruments?’…. Arecibo Observatory has long been a powerhouse of STEM education in Puerto Rico because of its renowned telescope and place in astronomical history. Students trained there have gone on to become professional astronomers and planetary scientists in many countries.” • A shame.

* * *

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 wol:

wol writes: “There’s something about the outside of a tree that’s good for the inside of a human. Live Oaks, Maritime Forest, Bald Head Island, NC.” And thanks to alert readers, I know why “Live Oaks” are called live!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. John Zelnicker

    Lambert – Please check your email. I’ve written you three times about an important issue, the latest just now.

    thank you.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          I report serious typos/formatting issues but in truth even though I’m reporting to the person responsible, I still feel like a snitch.

          1. lambert strether

            Just leave issues in comments. I move through Water Cooler at blazing speed, faster than is compatible with catching every error.

            Don’t feel like a snitch. You are improving the reader experience for others, and in any case things should be right.

  2. Bill

    The town hall Greenfrauds.

    They want you to give up your natural gas stove, water heater and furnace, but accept grants and donations from one of the 100 companies that generate 71% of the worlds carbon.

  3. Roger Blakely

    Last night I overheard four strangers talking about getting super sick last week. One had a sore throat so bad that he couldn’t eat for two days. Another had an intense headache. Several complained of intense fatigue. The word COVID-19 was never mentioned. The conversation tells me that a lot of Americans are getting hit with BA.5 and not realizing that it is COVID-19.

    1. John Zelnicker

      Well, Roger, ya know the pandemic is over, the President said so, so it can’t be COVID. Must be a bad cold or the flu. /sarc

      It is so sad that so many otherwise seemingly intelligent folks, have fallen for all of the propaganda around COVID.

    2. Bugs

      I’m getting colleagues on calls who sound like heck, coughing, hacking, sniffling. Leaving for a few minutes to recompose themselves.

      “Oh it’s just a bad cold” I think they’re either not testing or not doing it right. Or just don’t want to deal with it.

      Here in Normandy we’re having a big spike. Still no masks required indoors or in public transportation. What a joke.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        There was a very recent article (a few days ago) here on NC reporting on how many people lie about their COVID status. These anecdotes should not surprise anyone. For some people, admitting to having been infected with COVID is something very shameful, and so they keep it very quiet.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Yeah, maybe Putin had a point when he said that we live in an Empire of Lies. The Pandemic is over so just ignore the hacking, coughing and sniffling. It’s just a cold that you have. And if you’re not drinking coffee, the coffee break must be over – so get back to work

    3. Lena

      People I know who are having the same symptoms say they are suffering from “allergies” or a “sinus infection” but never COVID-19 (because they are fully vaccinated and boostered!). They aren’t bothering to be tested.

      I keep my distance if I see them, with a good quality mask on.

    4. Aaron

      Yes, I just got over this. I had terrible fever and chills and fatigue with terrible headache and sore throat for 2 days. On the third day the fever broke. It all began with sneezing and “allergies”. Now, seven days later, I’m better but still have a sinus infection and feel a little weak and fatigued.

      It went through my whole office too. The receptionist had it a week before me. When I got it, four other people from the office were already out sick. Now I’m back in the office, and still other people are out sick now.

      I think people don’t want to admit its COVID because then they’re stigmatized for getting COVID. If its just allergies, a cold, or the flu, then people don’t feel so outcast. When we say its COVID, then our coworkers think we’re lepers.

    5. Roger Blakely

      I don’t think that testing should be seen as the end-all-and-be-all of COVID. I think that a large percentage of people, maybe fifty percent of people, are like me. Yes, they get sick from SARS-CoV-2, but their immune system has the situation under control enough to keep virus levels in the nose below detection. Stick the swab up my nose, no SARS-CoV-2. Stick the swab up my butt, tons of SARS-CoV-2.

  4. Mark Gisleson

    The Democrats have a strong case for the reality of election theft: Certainly 2020, where Jebbie diddled the voter rolls so that brother W would win.

    Obviously you meant 2000?

    1. Adam Eran

      Not to mention LBJ stealing a senate seat from Coke Stephenson (1948?)

      …or Boss Tweed’s comment: “I don’t care who people vote for as long as I can pick the candidates.”

  5. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Sarcastic Fringeheads:

    Good little video leading into the article. Simultaneously fascinating, funny, and creepy.

    Would make a great halloween outfit.

    1. semper loquitur

      That entry triggered a double-take. Upon my initial glance, I thought it was the title of some new podcast I think I’d like to listen to. Instead, it turned out to be an episode of The View.

  6. Carolinian


    And before?

    Joe Biden’s just so proud of himself and loves himself and sure a few mistakes were made but now he’s on the straight and narrow and let’s move on.

    Also he’s the boss of the Attorney General who better read the above carefully. The FBI head works for him too.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      If they indict Trump and fail to indict Hunter, I suspect that the FBI won’t exist after January 20, 2025.

  7. Jen

    On the magnitude of Veep Harris. “The magnitude of Harris’s record over less than two years in office is best appreciated when compared to now-President Biden’s zero tiebreaking votes during his eight years as vice president. Biden was the only two-term vice president in American history never to cast a tiebreaking vote.”

    Well, yes. It is true that Biden never cast a tie breaking vote because in order to cast a tie breaking vote it would be necessary for the Senate to actually be evenly divided between the parties during his tenure. The Senate’s website helpfully provides the breakdown of each party, so it’s not like this information is difficult to find.

    1. DucThan

      When examining the California political mafia it is important to keep in mind that there are two powerful factions, the Newsom faction is old money( Getty’s oil, Guggenheim’s coal mining, Pritzker’s Mafia lending and hotels.),

      The “Aristocrats” of California politics and the other faction is the Willie Brown/Kamala Harris/London Breed faction. (London Breed makes more off the taxpayers left in her city than is paid to Joseph Biden.)

      Pelosi and Diane Feinstein, what’s left of her not held together by formaldehyde and wig glue, are definitely among the Aristocrats.

      It’s not a perfect split but you can see the results of some of the infighting in the tasks Harris has been assigned because that split is mirrored across the rotting expanse of the Dem party.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>Newsom faction is old money… Willie Brown/Kamala Harris/London Breed faction.

        I am not seeing this as two competitive factions. Admittedly, I have not followed California politics well for the past few years, which means I can easily be wrong.

        Newsom faction has the very wealthy and connected old money. But while Brown is a fantastic political operator, unless he and his protégé, and Breed are backed up by more power like say a combination of the water barons, Silicon Valley, and someone else, it’s whales vs. (large) minnows as San Francisco’s Aristocrats have been losing power for some time; I know that they have connections with the national Democratic Party with its ties to the Security State and to Wall Street, but still…

        I really do need to get back into watching the slime pit that is California politics. The whole state is a mirror of the United States. A funhouse mirror, but still a mirror. At least, we don’t have something like the Pentagon although there is the prison guards’ union.

    2. semper loquitur

      I’d call that article fluff but fluff actually occupies space. The word “contextuality” is used but at no time do we learn what was the context, or even the content, of Kablahblah’s votes, except for her inserting a Soros operative into the FTC:


      We then learn that Harris’s contributions to Vice-Presidential history are due to dumb luck:

      “Harris’s 26 tiebreaking votes thus far are due to particular historical circumstances.”

      as opposed to the tie-breaking votes past VP’s have engaged in for “off the cuff” fun, I guess. In short, she just did her job. I suppose that is noteworthy for Harris but wouldn’t it be better to have a VP voting because she has ideas about how things should work? What needs to be done? Instead, we get more of the Harris Hustle:

      “But Harris appears to prefer the role of loyal foot soldier to President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) over rocking the boat. This team player approach is a good way to stay in her party leadership’s good graces and position Harris for higher office à la Joe Biden himself.”

      Boy, I know I’m relieved to learn Harris views her job as getting another job. A professional professional. Then we get:

      “Harris, for her part, has helped balance Biden in terms of gender, age, race and geography.”

      Oh, so it’s not just a focus on personal career advancement she brings to the table, her mere existence is a boon. A token for all seasons! Boy, I’d love to get a paycheck simply for existing. But perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all:

      “Harris has also taken on numerous policy priorities and promotes her boss’s agenda in Congress.”

      Right, and as far as I can recall she has failed miserably in those tasks. Remember when she had been to the border before she ever went to the border? Or her inexplicable giggling during various important talks and interviews? Or the time she affirmed that she is “the daughter, and the granddaughter, of a woman?” in a CNN interview. Now, that’s real states-person talk there.

      But the value just keeps getting added with Harris:

      “Harris stands a strong chance of casting at least six more tiebreaking votes and setting the record during her current term of office, unless either party gains a substantial lead in the Senate. This would provide Harris with a unique accomplishment, which would not be a bad feather in her cap should she decide to run for higher office in the years ahead.”

      Wow, setting the record for showing up and voting the way she’s told to in order to cement her chances to be the President. A “unique accomplishment”, in fact. I’m sure the shades of VPs past are resting easy on their marbled thrones in whatever district in Hell has been set aside for them. Since we are looking for participation trophies for Harris, perhaps she can strive to speak in complete sentences. Or is that being “ablest” towards the mentally deficient? I don’t want to be lumped in with Dr. Oz’s supporters…

      1. Jen

        semper, I applaud you for having the intestinal fortitude to actually wade through the entire article. I am coming around to the conclusion that the Democrat leadership truly believes that we should be grateful for their mere existence and cannot understand why the peasants are revolting.

        1. semper loquitur

          The author writes as if we should all be bowled over because an idiot, careerist politician is barely doing her job. Somehow this is good news for everyone. They are high on their own product.

        2. Acacia

          Yes, thank you, @semper, for giving us an excellent (and funny) summary.

          Comparing Harris to previous VPs, I shudder to think of Dick Cheney as a possible contender. She seems far too incompetent to ever be considered Cheney-esque, but … Hanlon’s razor may cut both ways.

      2. square coats

        “Harris, for her part, has helped balance Biden in terms of gender, age, race and geography.”

        This strikes me as bemusingly Schopenhauer-esque, thinking of Schopenhauer’s musings on attraction and romantic love being more or less a balancing of opposite traits/characteristics (e.g. most often tall men and short women, but very rarely tall men and tall women)…

    1. digi_owl

      Curious, given that around here so many doctors now are female that society is running out of specialists on the male anatomy and its ailments.

      1. wilroncanada

        I’ve been engaged in that study for more than 65 years. I’ll reach some conclusions about the time I die, I promise. My study is a hell of a lot more interesting than airport lounges.

  8. chukjones

    RE: The World’s Best Airport Lounges.. CO2 is better outside the lounge, but I wonder about the VOCs?
    (Volatile Organic Compounds)

    1. Questa Nota

      Guy gets up to use the airplane restroom, sees that it is a pay toilet.

      Asks other fliers, Anyone have 4 quarters for a dollar?
      2 quarters for a dollar?
      (more crickets, guy looks concerned)
      2 dollars for 2 quarters?
      (still more crickets, guy squirms)
      5 dollars for a quarter?
      (camera fades to black)

      That is my rough recollection of an Alaska Airlines commercial from many years ago. They didn’t know how much their campaign would be predictive, even beyond air travel. Now there are features on cars that you can turn on by subscribing. In prior times, companies would’ve been ashamed to propose such things.

      What do you value, what do you really need at a particular time, and how much would you be willing to pay for it?
      How about toilet paper dispensed by the square, with surge pricing?
      Monopoly broadcasting with the 9th inning or 4th quarter, er, filtered?

      How long before hospitals, among others, really get creative with their revenue management?

  9. hk

    This is an impressive op-ed piece, I thought, appearing in, of all places, Newsweek:


    Regardless of the morality, the fundamental problem of the non-debate over hot button political issues, Ukraine or whatever else, is that the dominant narrative literally makes no sense: it pieces together mutually incompatible pieces as long as they all point to X is evil and must always be condemned without any compromise. One could at least try to agree on the facts before arguing morality, but their premise is that as long as you’re moral and you control the narrative, facts don’t matter–not too far from the Rovian “reality.”

  10. semper loquitur

    It’s heartening to read that Joe Biden stands by his son on Hunter’s journey to wellness. I’m sure he stands by his daughters as well. Cause, you know, family values………

  11. PlutoniumKun

    “You can only talk for so long” [London Review of Books]. An art heist on behalf of the IRA by one Rose Dugdale, an English heiress.,

    Rose Dugdale is quite a character, probably a rampant narcissist, but still considered a hero in some quarters. The house she broke into – Russborough House – must be the least secure place anywhere for a very expensive art collection – its beautiful, but is full of floor length windows that were easy to break into and its open on most sides – even today its easy to just climb a fence and walk up to it if you were so inclined (it is easier just to pay for the very entertaining official tour). It was also broken into by a notorious criminal known as The General, the subject of a John Boorman movie. The Beits were a hugely rich family of Tories who made their money in South African gold mines who for some reason moved to Ireland (probably something to do with tax – their collection was left to the Irish government). I’ve no idea why they didn’t pay for proper security. Fortunately the Vermeer survived all its adventures and can be seen in the National Gallery now in Dublin – its a stunning piece of work.

  12. Elizabeth

    Re covid – I have a relative in a nursing home. Sat. night one of the night nurses who cares for my relative tested positive. My relative is not going to be tested because she’s not showing any symptoms! About a month ago the nursing home did away with masking requirements for visitors and staff ( thanks to the CDC which said it was ok to ditch masks in medical settings). This is infuriating –

    I just have no words.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This is infuriating

      The CDC wants to kill your relative. Stochastically, of course. This really is the most parsimonious explantion, and I find it very hard to face. But the malevolence keeps adding up. I should really see if there is a nursing home in Newton, MA, and what its masking requirements are.

  13. Dalepues

    I like the Marc Haynes story about his meeting Roger Moore, twice.
    In 1976 I was working in a Hilton Hotel restaurant in Macon when the movie
    The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings was being shot at Luther
    Williams Field. The two stars for that film were Billy Dee Williams and James Earl Jones.
    I got to meet Mr. Jones while waiting on his table. He was alone and he ate one
    10 oz filet mignon, then another. He’s a big man. Anyway, I asked him how
    he got started in movies and he told me that he came from a vaudeville family,
    they were all actors. Then he asked me if I had seen the movie The Sting, with
    Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Yes, I had seen it, thought it was wonderful.
    Mr. Jones told me that his daddy, Robert Earl Jones, played the part of Luther
    Coleman, Johnny Hooker’s (Robert Redford) partner early in the movie. I waited
    on Mr. Jones several evenings and he was the nicest man to me. He has the
    most powerful voice I’ve ever heard, just booming.

    1. The Rev Kev

      So different to some modern stars who can get into twitter fights with their fans and denigrate them when those fans object to how classic stories are being revamped in order to spread ‘The Message.’ The 2016 “Ghostbusters” is a good example here and the Critical Drinker has surmised that it is now a studio strategy to deliberately provoke and insult fans because they hate them-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngqO9Hp19_4 (14:23 mins)

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘World Health Organization (WHO)
    Hand hygiene is one of the most important measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including bacterial, diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases, such as #COVID19 👉http://bit.ly/3AHNwST’

    Kudos to the WHO for this groundbreaking discovery. That a major way to treat a respiratory disease – one that gets into the lungs – that all you need to do is wash your hands. Does that work for Tuberculosis as well?

    1. griffen

      Well, if I wash my hands before every beer and also after every tinkle am I not being overly cautious and therefore, overly considerate for my hygiene and personal risk assessment ? Surely it would seem that 2 + 2 + 2 = 8 !! Pardon me as i return to my cheap American beers.

      In the words of wisdom from Tombstone, forgive me if I don’t shake hands. \sarc

    2. mistah charley, ph.d.

      A joke from the 1960s – at the Harvard-Yale football game two students enter the restroom at the same time and pee next to each other. The Harvard boy then goes to the sink, while the Yale man heads for the exit. The first says “At Harvard they teach us to wash our hands after urinating.” The second replies “At Yale we learn not to piss on our hands.”

      I heard this joke at another place, a couple of miles downstream on the Charles River, at “a university paralyzed around science.”

  15. none

    I’m a cheap bastid and have a DIY box fan/furnace filter setup that cleans the air, but it is intolerably noisy. So I’m about to spring for a HEPA filter that is supposed to be a lot quieter.

  16. kareninca

    The recently identified, globally predominant SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (BA.1) is highly transmissible, even in fully vaccinated individuals, and causes attenuated disease compared with other major viral variants recognized to date1–7. The Omicron spike (S) protein, with an unusually large number of mutations, is considered the major driver of these phenotypes3,8. We generated chimeric recombinant SARS-CoV-2 encoding the S gene of Omicron in the backbone of an ancestral SARS-CoV-2 isolate and compared this virus with the naturally circulating Omicron variant. The Omicron S-bearing virus robustly escapes vaccine-induced humoral immunity, mainly due to mutations in the receptor-binding motif (RBM), yet unlike naturally occurring Omicron, efficiently replicates in cell lines and primary-like distal lung cells. In K18-hACE2 mice, while Omicron causes mild, non-fatal infection, the Omicron S-carrying virus inflicts severe disease with a mortality rate of 80%. This indicates that while the vaccine escape of Omicron is defined by mutations in S, major determinants of viral pathogenicity reside outside of S. (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.10.13.512134v1)

    So they took the old Wuhan virus body, added the Omicron spike, and the result was 80 percent deadly to humanized mice. I don’t understand how that can be. The Wuhan version wasn’t so deadly as that; why would adding Omicron spike to it ramp it up so much?

    Also, I can’t say that I’m thrilled that this sort of work is being done.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I read about too. It’s like crossing the common cold with the Black Death. Why would you even do that? If that got loose in the United States, you would be left with the same population that you had way back in 1895.

  17. JBird4049

    >>>Also, in Maine we discovered that with term limits, the legislature had no institutional memory at all. The only people who knew what the laws meant were the lawyers who wrote them (and they had interests other than the voters’ in mind).

    And in California as well after term limits were approved by the voters.

  18. LawnDart

    “BU ahead by a nose, but Evolution’s looking strong as we’re heading into the home-stretch…”

    Just, Why? Boston University Researchers Combine Omicron, Wuhan Strains to Make Deadliest COVID Ever

    After having long insinuated that China was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic due to risky experiments at a Wuhan biolab, scientists at an American lab have created a mutant strain that is by far the most infectious and deadliest ever seen.

    The resulting viral strain was unlike anything scientists have seen before. According to their research, while the regular Omicron strain caused “mild, non-fatal infection” in all mice it was tested on, the mutant variant “inflicts severe disease with a mortality rate of 80%,” they said.

    The scientists’ mutant variant was also found to be five times more infectious than Omicron, the most infectious of any SARS-CoV-2 variant and the one responsible for most infections around the globe this year.


    1. JBird4049

      Because they can? Some people just like making things. Seeing just how far they can go before it goes ka-blowie. Or how fast their car can go or how a firework they can make. These nerds just wanna make the deadliest Covid virus they can, not because they want to kill everyone, but because it’s neat.

Comments are closed.