2:00PM Water Cooler 10/19/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Volcano Junco, Cerro Buenavista communication towers, San José, Costa Rica. “Calls given as one bird of a pair flew to the other, a la pair excitement calls…” Short but sweet!

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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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

Biden Administration

EPA on indoor air quality:

A good thread.

“President Biden Pledges to Codify Roe with Bill that Goes Far Beyond Roe” [Jonathan Turley], “The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) is routinely described in the media as a “codification of Roe,” repeating the false claim by the White House and many Democratic sponsors. It is in fact what many pro-choice advocates have always wanted Roe to be but have been unsuccessful in establishing through the court system.” • Turley seems to think “It seeks to accomplish legislatively what could not be accomplished judicially for decades” is an indictment. In fact, it’s the right thing to do, which (I assume) is why the Democrats haven’t done it.

“Save Social Security From its ‘Saviors'” [Stephanie Kelton, The Lens]. “The debates have already started, and I expect them to heat up after the midterms. Just think back to what happened after the midterm shellacking in 2010, when a newly-emboldened group of republicans lawmakers joined forces with a group of so-called ‘moderate democrats’ to push for cuts to Social Security as part of a ‘Grand Bargain.’ Of course, no one ever comes right out and says they want to CUT Social Security. That would be political suicide. Instead, lawmakers—democrats and republicans—describe their positions as well-intentioned and grounded in the harsh reality of budgetary math. They want to SAVE Social Security…. The only conceivable problem, as I explained last week, is with the way the enacting legislation was written.1 Congress could “fix” Social Security simply by amending that legislation to grant the Old-Age and Survivor’s Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) programs the same federal backstopping that already guarantees program solvency for the Supplemental Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund.”


* * *

“McCarthy’s striking warning signal on GOP and Ukraine aid” [WaPo]. “In a new interview, though, McCarthy is singing a significantly different tune. He says that if Republicans win back Congress, we shouldn’t take for granted that the United States will send further military aid to Ukraine. ‘I think people are going to be sitting in a recession and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,’ McCarthy told Punchbowl News. ‘They just won’t do it. … It’s not a free blank check. And then there’s the things [the Biden administration] is not doing domestically. Not doing the border and people begin to weigh that. Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can’t be the only thing they do, and it can’t be a blank check.’ A few points. First: This statement does not so much rule out future military aid to Ukraine as suggest it might be more limited and difficult to obtain. But whether that’s because certain Republicans might demand budget offsets or simply don’t want to send as much money overseas, the practical effect is a GOP leader warning that Congress could soon get quite a bit stingier if his party is in charge.” • The article goes on to present a convoluted theory that McCarthy is warning the Democrats to pass what Ukraine needs in the lame duck session (assuming the Republicans win). That makes no sense to me. “When your enemy’s drowning, throw ’em an anvil.” I just read this as one more way the Republicans, bless their heart, are asking for my vote.

“2022 Midterm Elections: Democrats Narrowly Lead on the Generic Ballot” [Morning Consult]. Bullet points:

Democrats’ Generic Ballot Lead Plateaus: Congressional Democrats lead their Republican counterparts by 3 percentage points on the generic ballot (48% to 45%) among likely voters, with another 7% undecided three weeks from Election Day. The figures have been rather consistent over the past couple weeks, after Democrats topped out at a 5-point lead in early October.

Biden’s Approval Rating Ticks Up: According to the latest surveys conducted Oct. 14-16, 46% of likely voters approve of Biden’s job performance (up from 44% a week ago), while 53% disapprove (down from 54%).

Democrats Hold Enthusiasm Edge: For the fifth week in a row, Democratic voters are more likely than Republicans to say they are “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about voting in the midterm elections, 63% to 58%. The 5-point gap is the largest Democratic advantage Morning Consult has recorded in 2022.

Democrats Gain Trust on the Economy: Congressional Republicans are favored over their Democratic counterparts to handle the economy, 46% to 39%. But that 7-point gap marks a relatively consistent tightening since mid-June, when Republicans had a 16-point advantage on the question.

“1 big thing: Democrats’ blue-state headaches” [Axios]. “House Republicans are increasingly confident they can make unexpected inroads into some solidly Democratic congressional districts, including in some of the bluest states in the country: California, Connecticut, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. Following the money is as important as following the (limited) congressional public polling. Republicans are now pouring over $25 million into some of the bluest political battlegrounds on the map — a fresh sign that the political winds favor the GOP down the home stretch. The Congressional Leadership Fund, aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has spent or reserved over $23 million on ads in eight Democratic-held districts that President Biden carried by double-digit margins. (Ariz.-4, Calif.-13, Calif.-47, Calif.-49, Conn.-5, N.Y.-17, Ore.-4, R.I.-2.) The NRCC is also spending $2.2 million on coordinated or hybrid ad buys with their nominees in five more Democratic-held districts that Biden carried by double-digits. (Calif.-26, Ga.-2, N.M.-3, N.Y.-4, Ore.-6). One common denominator in most of these blue-state races: Crime. Murders have been on the rise in major metropolitan areas within these states and near these districts, and the GOP’s advertising has hit Democrats over bail reform, reallocating resources away from police, and an overall sense of disorder. Another factor favoring the GOP, according to one Republican official analyzing internal data, is that abortion isn’t as motivating of an issue — voters are more confident reproductive rights are secure in states where Republicans are in the minority.” Oops. And: “The fact that Biden spent political capital in Democratic strongholds Oregon and California this week — less than a month before Election Day — speaks volumes about the national mood.”

“The four sleeper races that may decide the Senate majority” [The Hill]. “High-profile election battles in states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada have dominated talk about which party wins the Senate majority but strategists on both sides are eyeing sleeper races in second and third tier states such as North Carolina, Colorado and Washington that could unexpectedly tip the balance of power. A couple of Senate races that were expected to be top-tier races have faded in the background, such as Arizona, where incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D) has pulled well ahead of his Republican rival in the polls and fundraising, and New Hampshire, where Republicans failed to recruit their best candidate, Gov. Chris Sununu (R). With three weeks before Election Day, however, Democratic and Republican strategists say there are several “sleeper races” that could surprise political handicappers and decide which party controls the Senate next year….

“Voters See Democracy in Peril, but Saving It Isn’t a Priority” [New York Times]. “In fact, more than a third of independent voters and a smaller but noteworthy contingent of Democrats said they were open to supporting candidates who reject the legitimacy of the 2020 election, as they assigned greater urgency to their concerns about the economy than to fears about the fate of the country’s political system.” • Fine word, “legitimate.”

FL: “Police cameras show confusion, anger over DeSantis’ voter fraud arrests” [Tampa Bay Times]. “When police went to arrest Tony Patterson outside his Tampa home in August, he couldn’t believe the reason. ‘What is wrong with this state, man?’ Patterson protested as he was being escorted to a police car in handcuffs. ‘Voter fraud? Y’all said anybody with a felony could vote, man.’…. They are accused of violating a state law that doesn’t allow people convicted of murder or felony sex offenses to automatically be able to vote after they complete their sentence. A 2018 state constitutional amendment that restored the right to vote to many felons excluded this group. But, as the videos further support, the amendment and subsequent actions by state lawmakers caused mass confusion about who was eligible, and the state’s voter registration forms offer no clarity. They only require a potential voter to swear, under penalty of perjury, that they’re not a felon, or if they are, that their rights have been restored. The forms do not clarify that those with murder convictions don’t get automatic restoration of their rights.” • The Republican version of Democrats’ complex eligibility requirements, both — now that I think of it — seemingly inspired by literacy tests in the segregated South.

GA: “Five takeaways from the Abrams-Kemp debate in Georgia” [The Hill]. “Abrams stunned many political observers in 2018 when she came within 55,000 votes of defeating Kemp in the race for Georgia governor with a campaign that focused on voting rights and the need for greater racial equity. She has largely tried to replicate that strategy this year, attacking Kemp and Republicans for implementing new voting laws and hammering the need to balance public safety with police reform. In one heated exchange, Abrams accused Kemp of ignoring the struggles of Black and brown people who have faced police discrimination, saying that ‘while you may not have had that experience, too many people I know have.’ She also touted efforts by Abrams and her allies to implement election reforms in the wake of the 2018 election to make voting more accessible. ‘We didn’t win every single claim, but we forced major changes to the election laws,’ she said. All told, Abrams is hoping to recreate the momentum that helped propel her to a near-win four years ago. But she’s facing a very different political environment this year than she did in 2018, and the question is whether her message has the same resonance.”


TX: “In Texas, where money has long dominated politics, Greg Abbott is in a league of his own” [Texas Tribune]. “Since Greg Abbott first declared he would run for governor on July 14, 2013, he’s raised the equivalent of $83,793 per day to fund his pursuit of power. That’s $20,000 more than the median Texas household earns in a year. Throughout his political career, Abbott has amassed a mountain of campaign cash unrivaled in Texas. He is easily the most prolific fundraiser in state history — even compared with his two predecessors, George W. Bush, who went on to become president, and Rick Perry, who served as governor for a record-breaking 14 years. Since 1995, when Abbott made his first bid for statewide office for a seat on the Texas Supreme Court, he has raised $348 million in campaign donations when adjusted for inflation, a sum greater than the cost to build the new Longhorn basketball arena at the University of Texas at Austin. In his 25 consecutive years in public office, Abbott’s ability to court donors has become central to his political livelihood. His robust campaign treasury has allowed him to scare off potential opponents, bulldoze those who dare to challenge him, whip a Legislature keen on passing his agenda, fund a sprawling grassroots organization and generally reshape Texas politics in his image. ‘That Greg Abbott is the most successful fundraiser in the history of Texas politics is not a meaningless statement. Being more successful than Bush 43, being more successful than Perry — one was president and one had two different chances to be the nominee — is saying something,’ said Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based Republican strategist. ‘I think people have underestimated Greg Abbott, at their peril, for 20 years.'”


“Kamala Harris allies leak fresh Biden, Buttigieg gripes to CNN” [SFGate]. Buttigieg in more demand on the trail than Harris, so: ” Harris’ allies had to come up with excuses as for why a comparative political novice is more sought after than a career politician with a much larger national profile. One is that Harris’s security footprint is larger than Buttigieg’s. Having the Secret Service and local police on scene creates financial and logistical problems that Buttigieg, who travels with just one bodyguard, doesn’t have to worry about. Another excuse is that Buttigieg is in charge of an agency that doles out billions of dollars in grants to states for infrastructure projects, which can be appealing to Democratic candidates looking for an easy win with voters. Harris, by contrast, is a high-ranking figure in a partisan administration, and candidates in tight races may feel more comfortable appearing alongside a popular bureaucrat like Buttigieg. Finally, Harris is — as one source in the CNN article put it — “in Biden’s house.” Buttigieg is not associated with Biden the way Harris is, which gives him more latitude with his remarks on the campaign trail. Harris, on the other hand, is closely scrutinized by Republicans and has to adhere to the administration’s general message. This puts her at a disadvantage with candidates who are looking for a surrogate with a fresh message or maybe don’t want to be associated with every aspect of Biden’s platform. Whether these excuses are justified is unclear.” • Now that I’ve got “puppy-killing charlatan” out of the way for Oz, I’m working on Buttigieg: “vat-grown McKinsey _____.” Unfortunately, “homunculus,” although exactly on point, is out of the question, for obvious reasons. In the great tradition of “short-fingered vulgarian”….

“Virginia Gov. Youngkin campaigns for Drazan in tight Oregon race for governor” [KATU]. “Drazan and Democratic candidate Tina Kotek have been neck and neck in the race, with unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson also mixing up the race. ‘You’ve got the Kotek-Biden agenda at work in Oregon, and you can’t do anything but shake your head,’ said Youngkin. ‘They are agents of chaos. Everything they do makes it worse. … It’s your moment to take back your state, take back your schools, to take back your cities, take back your law enforcement, and to make a statement that just like in Virginia, it will be heard around the world.'” • Video of Youngkin testing the national stage. He doesn’t sound like he’s from The Carlyle Group, I’ll give him that. He does jump around a little.

Trump Legacy

“Emails reveal new details of Trump White House interference in CDC Covid planning” [Politico]. • From the The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The test kit debacle, the masking debacle, the denial that Covid is airborne debacle, the unmasking-right-before-Omicron debacle, the “green map” debacle, the “Scarlet Letter” debacle, and the many, many data debacles were all due to pervasive and long-lasting institutional problems at CDC, and had nothing to do with Trump’s sh*tstirring at the political appointee level (Trump being “the former guy” who, we might remember at this point before we deploy the term “democide,” brought vaccines to patients in record time, an enormous achievement that the molasses-brained Biden administration promptly squandered). I do agree that the CDC should not have been “interfered” with. It should have been burned to the ground, the rubble plowed under, and the ground salted. NOTE The CDC test kit debacle surfaced on February 12. The first item on the Committee’s timeline is a press conference by Deborah Birx on February 25, more than enough time even for the Trump administration to conclude that CDC was an omnishambles. Adding, it’s a little disheartening that when what we really need on Covid is a Truth and Reconcilation Commisssion, what we’re going to be getting is more fodder for Democrat talking points in 2024 [bangs head on desk]. If this thesis — just to strawman a little bit — is that “All we had to do was let the trained professionals at CDC do their jobs without interference from elected officials, and this pandemic would have been over a long time ago,” that’s not a tenable hypothesis.

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

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Realignment and Legitimacy


Sorting medical professionals, an excellent thread worth reading in full:

This group is “ones”:

This group is “twos”:

This group is “threes”:

On the group twos:


And the group threes:

Good discussion of professional pressures on group threes. Importantly, group threes follow Infection Control Guidelines:

(I have shown here how “Hospital Infection Control Departments Tenaciously Resist Airborne Transmission, Aided by CDC.”)

This whole thread (it’s much richer than this excerpt) makes me very happy, because it meets “the test of independent invention.” I divided the members of the PMC into subclasses I labeled “exceptional” and “hegemonic.” Hegemonic maps neatly onto the twos; exceptional maps neatly to ones. I didn’t name the residue, threes, who form the majority of the class; perhaps “normals” would do, if that’s not too insulting.

• Maskstravaganza: Shot:


• Maskstravaganza: Medical care (1):

IMNSHO, the science is clear. How did these “Fellows” go so wrong? What is the mechanism? (They sure are smiling, though!)

• Maskstravaganza: Medical care (2):

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• On the excellence of CDC’s scientific communication:

* * *

• Eugenics are a game two parties can play, it would seem:

Each in their own way, of course.

* * *


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 18:


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 15:

October 14:


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):


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,091,086 – 1,090,802 = 284 (284 * 365 = 103,660, 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

Housing: “Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US slumped 8.1 percent to an annualized rate of 1.439 million in September 2022, down from a revised 1.566 million in the previous month and well below market consensus of 1.475 million. The US housing market has been hit by soaring prices of materials and rising mortgage rates, which recently reached their highest level since 2002.”

* * *

Shipping: “Container-ship logjams off US ports finally easing as imports fall” [India Shipping News]. “The good news is that there were fewer than 100 container ships stuck waiting off North American ports on Friday. The bad news is that there were still 99 container ships offshore and the pre-COVID norm was in the single digits. There’s still a long way to go to clear the backlog. But the current tally is now back to June levels and 35% off recent highs.” • I can’t find the comment where this source appeared, so whoever you are, take a bow!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 34 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 18 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 19 at 1:45 PM EDT. October, and no crash yet. It’s like waiting for the Ukrainian Kherson counter-offensive.

Zeitgeist Watch


“Desperate Americans Are Getting Botox for Their Teeth” [The Atlantic]. “Across the country, patients dealing with the meddlesome condition are now turning to Botox—yes, Botox. ‘It’s a very popular treatment’ for people who grind and clench their teeth, Lauren Goodman, a L.A.-based cosmetic nurse, told me. Bruxism, the official term encompassing both behaviors, is an involuntary action that tends to happen when people are sleeping at night, for reasons including alcohol and tobacco use, sleep apnea, and stress—perhaps why the condition has soared in the United States during the pandemic. The condition is a tolerable nuisance for many people, but the symptoms can get very real: With bruxism on the rise, dentists are reporting more chipped and cracked teeth in patients, along with jaw pain and facial soreness. In the most severe cases, patients can suffer debilitating headaches and jaw dislocation. The most common treatments, such as mouth guards and lifestyle changes, only sometimes help get rid of symptoms. That’s what makes Botox so appealing for the recent flood of teeth grinders.” • It’s almost as if there’s some collective anxiety that’s being suppressed….

News of the Wired

The horror, the horror. On how Calibri took over Microsoft Office:

I love the idea of Microsoft deciding they needed to standardize on one font for Office and optimizing for PowerPoint. Plus the engineers thought old-style numerals were broken, because they didn’t sit right on the baseline. Say what you will about Apple, at least they understood fonts.

Somebody tell Meta (or wait, don’t):

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From notabanker:

notabanker writes: “Here is one I took a couple of days ago in my backyard. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the pot o gold.” Nice leaf color too!

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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. fresno dan

    “President Biden Pledges to Codify Roe with Bill that Goes Far Beyond Roe” [Jonathan Turley]

    In fact, it’s the right thing to do, which (I assume) is why the Democrats haven’t done it.
    In fact, it’s the right thing to do, which (I assume) is why the Democrats won’t do it.
    free beer tomorrow
    I mean, is there a reason why this couldn’t have been done this session of congress…you know, WHILE the dems controlled the House, Senate, and POTUS – other than SUCCEEDING at passing the law??? The only thing dems fear is KEEPING control of both the senate and house.
    I think this is why people pay no attention to politics. We have one party opposed to abortion, and one party that says it supports abortion, but the truth is that we have two parties opposed to abortion. And a system that thwarts creating a 3rd party, or any change in the two parties, the supposed mechanism for choice we have…

    1. griffen

      Let’s see, how long had Joe Biden been in the US Senate prior to being a sitting VP for 8 flippin’ years. Yep now he and his party get the memo; this be of a high importance, so do something to protect your phony baloney jobs once and for all.

      Good grief Charlie Brown. Each day I’m torn deciding how our politicians and elite minded thought leaders behave, it is either reckless, careless or feckless. I got it, a combination trio platter for the win!

    2. Tom Stone

      Roe was the Law for 49 years and it was a consistent cash cow for the Dems.
      How many Dem Presidents promised to codify Roe Vs Wade during their campaigns in those five decades?
      Joe Biden among them.
      So…there’s a sense of disappointment that the Cow is likely to die unless the timing is just right to allow the Dems to FIGHT FOR!!! a woman’s Right to choose without killing the cash Cow.
      Excuses are wearing thin after 49 years and change…

      1. Carolinian

        What you all said. Every time Biden goes on teevee he just reminds people that he is still president. Are there no golf courses, beach houses where he could better spend his time?

        1. Hepativore

          The Democrats would probably have to get rid of the filibuster, first, and then in the astronomically small chance they do not drown in the coming midterm red tsunami, the Supreme Court would just shrug and strike down any Federal abortion measure as being “unconstitutional”.

          It is too little, too late for the Democrats to codify abortion at this point, but that is assuming that they ever wanted to in the first place. After all, empty abortion rights talking points have filled up their fundraising coffers for years. Now that Roe vs. Wade has been overturned, they can virtue-signal over it even more in the face of Republican political successes.

  2. fresno dan

    “Voters See Democracy in Peril, but Saving It Isn’t a Priority” [New York Times]. “In fact, more than a third of independent voters and a smaller but noteworthy contingent of Democrats said they were open to supporting candidates who reject the legitimacy of the 2020 election, as they assigned greater urgency to their concerns about the economy than to fears about the fate of the country’s political system.” • Fine word, “legitimate.”
    It seems like a thousand years ago, but it is only 30 or so, I would have been appalled by our democracy being in peril. Nowadays, not at all.

    1. Trump and Clinton were our choices. Then Biden and Trump.
    that is the best this democracy can do?
    2. I don’t believe I get objective, relevant, fact based information from the media – I think it is manipulated with an agenda (make the rich richer).
    3. I would take Xi or Putin over any possible democratic nominee I can see for 2024…of course, I doubt they would chose being here…

    1. fresno dan

      I meant by “democratic” the contrived, convoluted, manipulated, and corrupt system of nominating candidates for the US presidency. Yup, none of the repubs are any better than any of the dems…which is quite an accomplishment in a sort of depraved way…

      1. Arizona Slim

        Hey, fresno dan! Not to hijack the thread, but I will (grin).

        I am about to sign up for Medicare, and I want no part of those Medicare Disadvantage plans. None whatsoever. Here’s why:

        Health Insurance Whistleblower: Medicare Advantage Is “Heist” by Private Firms to Defraud the Public

        I’m about to turn 65, am in excellent health, and I just need someone to step me through the online signup process for traditional, classic rock Medicare. Am I doing the right thing by reaching out to my local SHIP? Link:


        1. katiebird

          Arizona Slim, I had a good experience with SHIP in Kansas. At the time I thought I’d go back every couple of years to review Prescription Plans (because those are a mess with my specific prescriptions) but COVID changed that. So instead, I’ve spent hours+ with someone on the Medicare helpline going through them. And I haven’t been as happy with that.

          If you can stand to sit across a desk from someone in a small closed in office, it might be worth it.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Thanks, katiebird. I do have Zoom for my business, so I’d be more than happy to set up a Zoom meeting with the SHIP representative.

            Or I could just use the daggone telephone. That thing still works. You wouldn’t believe the number of calls it’s taking from the purveyors of Medicare Disadvantage plans!

            I’m kind of adverse to going out to meetings with anyone, SHIP or otherwise, unless it involves money. As in, doing work for my clients or making sales of my forthcoming book.

            Sorry, not sorry. I’ve gotta take care of business during the workdays, and let’s just say that my business is busying up in a good way.

            1. katiebird

              Zoom! I didn’t think of that. That’s a good idea! About the calls – they’ll never stop from now on. We get them all year, almost everyday.

        2. marym

          I recall that fresno dan is an expert on this, so don’t listen to me, but I don’t think signing up for original Medicare A&B is complicated. If you also want a supplement or prescription drug plan, there are probably some choices to consider, particularly about locally available plans/providers.

          Check out the “automatically” link to see if you qualify for that. If so – if it still works as it used to – the process was: a few months before your 65th birthday open the envelope with the card and welcome you get in the mail.


          1. JustAnotherVolunteer

            The real tricky bit is Part D and a medigap plan – there are serious life time penalties if you don’t sign up when first eligible (you can wait till after any employer coverage ends if you’re still working). Get your ship volunteer to walk you through the fine points.

            I took classic Medicare (a/b) at 65 but waited till retirement at 68 to take a plan g medigap policy and part d.

            Way more complicated and punitive then it should be.

          2. Arizona Slim

            Thank you! I don’t take any prescription drugs, so I think I’ll just buy the cheapest D plan I can.

            Once again, my NC peeps come through with flying colors!

            1. Arizona Slim

              Note to self: Don’t omit Plan G and Plan D. I’ll remember them with this mnemonic:

              G-d D@mn

              There. Got it in the Slim remembering file.

            2. fresno dan

              sorry to get back to you so late. Let me just reiterate what JAV said about the medi-gap plans. One slight improvement is that the Medicare.gov site gives a LITTLE bit of information about the range of costs for the medigap plans and I would recommend reading the Medicare.gov primer on the site that explains what medigap (officially referred to as medicare supplment insurance). It is screwy what they call the various permutations of medigap plans (A, B, C, and so on) and it is appalling that they don’t provide a listing of each type available in your area and the prices for all the medigaps provided in your area (price can vary by age, but still).
              Remember price is the only difference between policies with the same letter sold by different companies.
              So good luck in your enrollment in medicare!!!

              1. Pat

                Just want to repeat that last part…

                Remember price is the only difference between policies with the same letter sold by different companies.

                That bit about Medigap policies is not obvious but important.

                And I can tell you my advisor came flat out and told me to just pick the cheapest D plan. that until I had prescriptions there wasn’t any point paying more. Once I had prescriptions I would be scoping out possibly changing plans often anyway as every D plan seems to change every year. The placeholder plan doesn’t have to and really can’t be future proof.

      2. Felix_47

        Vote R if you can. Not that the Rs are any better……arguably worse perhaps……but we are in the middle of an incredibly dangerous and stupid war. If the Rs take congress at least we can hope for a somewhat thorough investigation as to why Biden is following a Ukraine policy 180 degrees from Obamas. Since Biden exemplifies “Ask not what you can do for the country, ask what your country can do for you…” we may learn how his family obtained dynasty creating money in the Ukraine. The laptop offers hints and where there is smoke there is fire. I believe Biden thought that his time with Ukraine was his last rodeo and he wanted to make the most of it. He has always followed the money as the Senator from MBNA. He did not realize until later how effective the dark pharma and insurance money was in South Carolina democratic politics….and neither did the front runner. But if the Ds control Congress we will never find out. All the other issues, even abortion, pale in comparison to a war that has the potential to destroy the planet. Keeping a nation out of war seems to be the lowest bar we should expect out of a president.

    2. Pat

      It took me awhile to get it, but don’t forget Obama/McCain and Obama/Romney (I was still kidding myself in 2008.) Or the W races. Or Bill Clinton…

      It may be nostalgia, but I like to think there have been a couple of okay Presidential candidates that made it through the primaries in my lifetime, but I have no such illusions about the last three decades.

      Maybe it is because of Citizens United or the dumbing down of American education, or just because they know they have the first part so gamed it doesn’t matter how many people they disillusion about voting they are it, either way the candidates don’t even try to be believable and interested in the well being of the average American, only the have a lots matter.

    1. griffen

      He does seem very android lite, and I mean in every aspect of appearing human and receiving his talking points via deeply planted transmitter. And as in much of science fiction film, the android might appear to seem helpful at first.

    2. jsn

      Yeah, I guess, “vat-grown McKinsey golum” isn’t any more PC than “vat-grown McKinsey homunculus.”

      So maybe he’s a “Nexus One”.

        1. chris

          Synthoid is the preferred terminology. But referring to McKinsey alumni as synthetic life forms is just repeating the obvious. Or the odious…

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            1) Vat-grown McKinsey anthropoid. I think the rhythm is best (//././..) And “anthro” is human-appearing.

            2) Vat-grown McKinsey synthoid. I will file “synthoid away,” but I think vat-grown covers the semantics.

            3) NEW Vat-grown McKinsey life-form (//././/). “Life form” is good to file away too. “creepy life forms in The Blob”….

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Vat-grown McKinsey simulacrum (//./../….)

            Good PKD reference! I do think “anthropoid” has a creepier feel than “simulacrum,” maybe due to the “oid” sound.

    3. Skip Intro

      That’s why I’m gonna toss ‘vat-grown McKinsey finger puppet’ into the ring provisionally, without excluding possible future inspiration.

      1. hunkerdown

        That’s a good ‘un. I propose “Butter bar” to:

        * reuse one of his existing derogatory nicknames
        * entertain those who have served in the military
        * raise a dry smile for those who haven’t

      2. Greg

        I went down a similar vein, but suggest instead “vat-grown Mckinsey marionette” – the alliteration is pleasing, and he fits the definition of “small”, “wooden”, and “visible strings”.

          1. Greg

            I’m not sure if that’s a positive or negative trait, but I agree. It would take a severely broken mind to turn “vat-grown McKinsey marionette” into innuendo. I’m sure we can find one.

            ETA: something something bondage, i expect

    4. nippersdad

      McKinsey says “That is not The Dick you are looking for.”

      I feel sure that some way could be found to mix Wine Caves into the vat grown idea. If you include the PC and mercantile aspects of the LGBTQ culture wars into the rationale, you might even get away with calling him a dildo. Make it recyclable and you are home-free.

      Nancy sez: “What is your problem with recyclable dildos, Pete? Dildo sales in San Francisco are up thirty two percent since 2020. I know, I bought their stock, and we don’t want to piss off the donors*….”

      “McKinsey wine-vat grown dildo” gets my vote. Of course, I don’t run this place. Maybe it could be turned into an acronym; “MWVGD”. It sounds like a venereal disease, which would be perfect for someone like Mayor Pete.

      * https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/26318318211013347
      (Isn’t it amazing what one can find on the internets?)

      ………….End of off-color commentary…………….

      Speaking of acronyms, I see on YouTube that AOC has the new and improved acronym of “AOCIA.” An appellation of which I feel Lambert might particularly approve seeing as she is now officially a CIA Dem as well.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I like ‘droid’, echoing android above, if we’re trying to capture his… synthetic nature. ‘Cretin’ if not, but lots of cretins around these days.

  3. Space Station 11

    I am going to gently push back on that twitter thread. As an aside, I am an academic emergency medicine doc practicing for > 10 years in an urban level 1 trauma center. I can only speak to my institution but I feel it is representative of most academic medical centers (i.e. teaching hospitals). I don’t know if the author of that thread is a medical professional. My reality is that *most* medical professionals fall within, I guess, the ‘residue’, as you put it- group 3. Yes, we answer to managers and we follow professional guidelines. We have no say over the former and the latter has been a standard of care for my entire career.

    Having worked with many, many physicians at all levels of experience, very few fall into these ‘group 1’ (those who take Covid seriously above all else) and ‘group 2’ (the toxic narcissists) categories. Perhaps the caricature is the point, I don’t know. But the remainder of us- the normals- well, at my institution, we all wear n95 respirators for the duration of our shifts; we all try to keep abreast of the latest changes in treatment protocol; most of us are fully vaccinated and boosted; we have protocols in place to educate all of our patients about Covid. In other words, we are taking the pandemic seriously. This despite the fact that I have not seen a ‘sick’ Covid patient in my ER for over a year at this point (i.e. someone who needed to be admitted to the hospital for treatment of Covid, NOT someone who incidentally tested positive but was at the ER for another reason). We are still taking it seriously even if we are not proclaiming as such on Twitter or where have you.

    What this twitter thread does not take into account, I think, is the myriad other professional stressors we are experiencing. I have commented on these before on this site. Our institution has been at max capacity or exceeding it for years, leading to patients ‘boarding’ in our ER for days at a time. We are facing a critical nursing shortage (especially of experienced nurses) that has led to areas of the hospital being shut down despite having ‘open’ beds. We are trying, often hopelessly, to care for an ever-increasing population of homeless and all of the attendant medical and social issues they experience- rampant drug abuse and overdose, an obvious rise in violent crime, a massive shortage of inpatient beds for psychiatric patients, etc. There are other ongoing epidemics we are facing (monkeypox and another brewing Ebola epidemic). Violent abuse of medical professionals is worse than I’ve ever seen (especially for nurses and MAs). We had a shooting outside our ER a few weeks ago (complicated by administration dithering for 45 minutes and ultimately deciding not to lock the hospital down despite the gunman being loose on the campus for hours). Underlying all of this is the professional burnout running rampant among mid-career faculty, many of whom would quit medicine entirely if there was an obvious off-ramp to this career.

    In other words, there are many reasons why we aren’t “at the top of our game”, whatever that means, with regards to Covid: it probably wouldn’t make the top 10 list of professional concerns for anyone I work with.
    But I Hope you’ll forgive me if I take issue with the characterization that we are “abdicating responsibility to promote health and failing everyone”.

    End of rant, and my apologies.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Not to worry, Station.

      Matter of fact, I’m opening my virtual bar and pouring you a drink of whatever you’d like. With alcohol or not, it’s all available here.

      Cheers to you!

      1. Space Station 11

        Thanks Slim, appreciate it! I’ll have a double of your local bourbon- do they make something decent in Arizona?

        1. Arizona Slim

          This isn’t bourbon territory, but can I offer you a sample of Tucson’s own Whiskey del Bac? If you like it, I’ll pour you a proper virtual drink.

    2. Karl

      Thanks for this very thoughtful post SS11. I’m particularly troubled by this statement of yours:

      Underlying all of this is the professional burnout running rampant among mid-career faculty, many of whom would quit medicine entirely if there was an obvious off-ramp to this career.

      Our health delivery system is arguably our most vital infrastructure, and like so much that falls under this label is not being well maintained — at our peril. “We don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone”.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > But the remainder of us- the normals- well, at my institution, we all wear n95 respirators for the duration of our shifts; we all try to keep abreast of the latest changes in treatment protocol; most of us are fully vaccinated and boosted; we have protocols in place to educate all of our patients about Covid. In other words, we are taking the pandemic seriously.

      I don’t know whether the protocol at your institution is typical. What I do know is that the protocol at your institution is not universal.

  4. Carolinian

    Turley seems to think “It seeks to accomplish legislatively what could not be accomplished judicially for decades” is an indictment.

    As I read it he’s saying this long standing bill won’t pass the SC because it goes beyond Roe and is based on the same “right to privacy” claim that the SC just rejected. Or at least that’s how Biden is selling it. It seems unlikely that they will have the votes to pass it anyway and thus bringing it up in the present context is more political kabuki. In other word the key above word is “seeks” (or so they claim).

    We’re also getting the big scare about SS–all the traditional Dem election time claims.

    1. Tom Stone

      The Dems have no interest in passing a Law that would codify Roe Vs Wade.
      It’s been HALF A CENTURY.
      Half a Century of milking the same cash cow.
      A Woman’s control of her own body is the issue.
      Without that control a Woman is still a chattel.
      Isn’t 49 effing years of broken promises enough?

  5. Jason Boxman

    So I just realized. COVID is kind of like that old saying, “take the labels [warnings?] off of everything and things will sort themselves out”. Because that’s kind of what’s happening in the US. Not really the encouraging outcome one might hope for in such a scenario. Instead we have a scene where people line up to stick forks into electrical outlets or wrap themselves tightly in plastic bags.


    This is you do you?

    1. chris

      I don’t think that’s it, even if the net result seems similar. I think what we’re seeing is a direct result of our painfully stratified caste system in the west. I think what we’re seeing are some people making good decisions because they have good choices and others making poor decisions because they have no choice.

      Just to take my own personal experiences, because I had a house and money, I was able to make a COVID suite in case family got sick. Because I can control the type of work I do I can largely choose when I want to work at home and when I want to be out in the world. Because I am educated and have resources I have access to good masks. Because I have my own transportation and control of my own schedule I can choose to patronize stores when there aren’t other people around (or not as many). Because we have good broadband and resources to pay for extra tutors and teaching my kids didn’t suffer as badly as others even though we were locked down a long time. And on it goes. I had good options so I made good choices. As a result, I have only tested positive for covid once, and two members of my family have never been positive.

      If I were poor or didn’t live in my own house or any of a myriad of other “what ifs” my situation might well be different. I don’t blame people who don’t have my resources being forced to do things that expose them to unnecessary risk. I blame their employers. I blame society. I blame Joe Biden when he declares the pandemic is over. I blame people who consider the cost of the pandemic in dollars and not lives lost.

      If you want to keep your analogy, perhaps our current situation is more like where there are labels everywhere, but only the upper 10% of earners can read them.

      1. MaryLand

        What you say is true and applies to many. But what accounts for those with circumstances similar to yours who choose to ignore precautions? Thinking of people I know personally it seems they choose to live without caution because they are extroverts who cannot stand to be away from crowds. Even after having covid and continuing to have long covid they throw caution the wind because “I must live!” Unfortunately they (and others) suffer the consequences but they do not learn. I shake my head and stay away from them. It’s a kind of privelage they want maybe.

        1. chris

          So that’s true also, right?

          In addition to being able to make good decisions because certain people have good options, they also can choose not to see that what they want will produce a negative outcome. Because of two things really. First, just like with other kinds of infectious diseases that certain families have decided are not prevalent enough to risk giving their kids vaccines against them, most make that choice knowing they have good health insurance in case they’re wrong. Second, if you have many of the benefits I listed above, then if you do get sick for many it’s not that bad.

          That means even though this virus is awful and has terrible consequences if it takes hold in your body, these people don’t see the consequences. The privilege of survivor bias and not being able to fall too far if they’re wrong means that you’re asking them to treat an uncertain future consequence as something they need to spend a lot of resources to prepare for. Humans don’t act that way. To borrow a bit from one of our officially approved virtual signalers, “world hunger can’t exist because I just had that sandwich.” Or, put another way using pop culture as a backdrop, who believed “Winter was coming” before it showed up on their doorstep?

          Of course all of this is viewed through some amazing bias too, right? Someone might not admit it, but if the difference between doing what needs to be done if covid is airborne or not is whether I put in enough capital improvements so that I’m unprofitable this year… then it’s going to be hard to justify. And what about those people over there who wrote that thing and said they didn’t upgrade their HVAC and are just fine?! Why should I ruin my business for something my competitors aren’t doing? Why should I take a hit to my bottom line if the government and OSHA won’t even tell me it’s necessary? All those lazy employees are just lying to me…

      2. Jason Boxman

        This doesn’t account for all the maskless photos of people at conferences, conferences for those that are upper middle class with a high level of education and disposable income. Even conferences for those in the public health and medical fields. Boggles the mind. This is quite the case of sheep mentality, I think.

  6. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding Calibri, it seems to me that the responses in the interview are an incoherent attempt to cover for a designer’s desire to mark their territory like an insecure wolf?

    Certainly, they peed all over my documents.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m with Chuck too. He was calling those architects out on their shoddy designs that are divorced from the people that they are supposedly for and they have a hissy fit. Say what you will, the Royal family do grow up in buildings of tasteful design and not in concrete and glass monstrosities. They recognize the ugliness of so many new architectural fads and their position in society gives them a platform to make criticism of architects who normally are immune form criticism at all. Architects have a lot to answer for.

      A minor example that I have seen. They built a high school hall in the country town near me. And somehow they spent a million dollars on doing it. The floors are so “special” that all those community groups that wanted to rent out that hall for events were informed that that was not possible as in at all. Oh, and it took years to fix the leaking roofs. Leaking roofs! Somebody remind me again how long architects have been designing roofs for again?

      1. CG

        I was visiting Taliesin (Frank LLoyd Wright home and studio) in Wisconsin and the tour guide opened with “It’s not important that his roofs leak.” I didn’t and don’t agree, I hadn’t even known it was a thing until she made her declaration.

    1. chris

      Wow. That’s a lot of what I’ve been seeing and feeling crystalized into one essay. Including discussions with family who still insist that they were locked inside for a long time because those darn deplorables refused to be vaccinated.

    2. Carolinian

      Good stuff.

      The curious thing about The Century of the Self is that its producers and writers never let themselves notice this. The documentary took Bernays’s claims about the power of public relations at face value. It didn’t talk about Bernays’s many failures, or the even more abundant failures of public relations since his time; it didn’t consider the possibility that Bernays’s writings were not much more than sales pitches for the services he was offering at a hefty hourly rate to corporate clients. It also never got around to mentioning that the Freudian theory on which Bernays based his approach to public relations crashed and burned decades ago.

      The implosion of Freudian psychology is one of the most remarkable events in recent intellectual history, and one of the least discussed outside the psychological literature. The problem faced by Freud’s disciples and their students was that his methods were very effective against the specific set of psychoneurotic conditions that he faced in turn-of-the-century Vienna, and basically didn’t work with anything else. Study after study has shown that Freudian psychotherapy provides no detectable benefit to the great majority of patients. Nor has Freudian theory stood up any better; Freud’s fixation on sexuality made sense in the backwash of the Victorian era, when a century of frantic sexual repression left middle- and upper-class society filled with the walking wounded, but it simply doesn’t work now that most people are calmer and more realistic about their sexual desires—whether or not they choose to do anything about them.

      Nabokov called Freud the “Viennese quack” and yet the literary lights of the earlier 20th were smitten with Freud’s ideas. Turns out, perhaps, that intellectual fads didn’t start yesterday.

    3. Basil Pesto

      They’ve noticed that it’s not the unvaccinated, by and large, who are getting hit by Covid three and four and five times in a row or facing a sudden unexplained collapse in health. They’ve also noticed, some of them, that heavily vaccinated countries have unexplained increases in crude death rates that mostly unvaccinated countries do not.


      It is fascinating how the alt-lords who consider themselves impervious to lying and bullshit, repeatedly show themselves susceptible to lying and bullshit, in this case from the ‘Group Twos’ of Tern’s twitter thread.

      It’s true the lying about the vaccine was obvious, stupid, and self-defeating. What could have been a useful tool in the US and “global north” to contain the disease was squandered; it’s pretty clear that it did have an all-too-brief impact in denting infections, and therefore transmission. This meme about some flustered Pfizer flunky ‘admitting’ to the vaccine not being tested for onward transmission is a red-herring distraction. If one isn’t infected, one by definition cannot transmit that infection onward – so why would they test for onward transmission? That was not the lie, or the outrage. It’s a triviality. One can see from global data that there was a plateau in developed countries of cumulative cases and deaths once the vaccine was deployed, similar to the nadirs of the natural “waves” of infection, but longer. The lie was pretending that the vaccine and nothing else would bring the pandemic to an end, that a vaccine in the context of uncontained transmission would ever be a solution durable beyond a few months. “95% efficacy” was also a lie, or being generous a half truth: a given vaccine could be 95% effective, until it isn’t). We’re now at a point where mutation is so rapid that a viable vaccination response is probably out of the question, unless there is a miraculous development in vaccine technology.

      But the contention about only the vaccinated suffering (the “control group” meme) is delusional crap which is apparently adjacent to the “natural/herd immunity” bullshit, which they seem to think somehow applies to the “naturally infected” and not the vaccinated somehow (a reminder: millions of unvaccinated people around the world, including pre-vaccine, have been killed by this disease). While the “immunity profiles” of each group are different, and so they can be expected to suffer from Covid in different ways at different stages of the pandemic, in the long run, both groups of people (that is, all people) are in the shit. Divide and conquer: it really does work.

      It is simultaneously an amusing and depressing irony that the only group paying attention to sequelae in the form of sudden death, stroke etc, beyond those who understand what Covid is capable of and take it seriously (like this blog), are the fluther anti-vaxxers who take it as dispositive proof that the vaccine is causing these outcomes, not the disease itself. The pro-vaccine die-hards are ignoring this problem because it shows up their “we have the tools” nonsense for what it is, and lays bare the scale of the misery that their capitulation has wrought. And the anti-vaxers will seize on any adverse outcome obviously caused by the virus as proof of the apparently poisonous nature of the vaccines. That the author refers to “unvaccinated countries” – presumably those in the underdeveloped world who have not been able to acquire vaccines – and their data shows him to be an absolute fool, when those countries’ data are just risibly bad, as GM as explained repeatedly

      An example of the dynamic is this recent article in the Indian press: Mumbai – cases of cardiac arrest up by 25% among youth

      The article itself doesn’t mention the C-word – you know, the disease known for more than two years to increase risk of cardiovascular sequelae, instead hilariously blaming this *astonishing increase in young heart attack in a single year* on “overambition”. The anti-vaxxers blame it on the vaccine. Except India didn’t use mRNA. It’s almost certainly Covid, but for the likes of Greer and the alt-lords, the de facto infection mandate (I have long held that the vaccine mandate was stupid; the infection mandate is much worse) that is leading to these outcomes, to the worsening of, well, pretty much everything is never the outrage, just this silly confection about the vaccines being thalidomide deluxe, often with a sprinkling of “muh freedumbs” inanity. And these are the people who fancy themselves at the vanguard of independent thought. Yikes. In reality they represent an exact parallel of the application of the idiotic biases of the mainstream, merely applied in a different direction, and leading to more or less the exact same degree of self-delusion and ignorance.

      What an insane nightmare.

      1. Yves Smith

        I hate to tell you but IM Doc has been tracking Covid cases by vaccine status in his practice and has some others in his journal group doing so too. There has been a huge shift over time. Initially most infected were unvaxxed (recall he is in a heavily vaxxed area). Now the repeat and/or severe infections are among the vaxxed and boosted. Almost no cases among the unvaxxed and no bad cases. The vaxxed and boosted themselves are very upset about this outcome.

        And yours truly had to have over $50,000 of medical work to address her vaccine injury (two attempts at a procedure, the second one successful). So don’t be so dimissive.

        1. Basil Pesto

          Yes, I don’t mean to be completely dismissive, and I have often had to caveat my remarks here with “I understand the vaccines are not perfectly safe”, contrary to the “safe and effective” claims (Alex Meshkin, who was himself vaccine-injured by mRNA, threads the line between understanding the limitations and possible harms of the vaccines and the seriousness of Covid itself quite well), and I’m sorry for what you went through, but I also think there is a lot of mischievous overstatement about the purported harms of vaccination, including with the intent to downplay the harms of the virus itself and rationalise mass infection – and we’ve seen some of this in the past: recall for instance earlier this year those who would blame the increase of juvenile hepatitis not on Covid itself, which as far as I’m aware remains the most plausible explanation, but on the vaccine, despite the fact that that cohort had not been vaccinated. I recall you rebuked ‘Yankee someone’ the other day on similar anti-vax grounds.

          I am aware of IM Doc’s information gathering to that effect and I have noted it with interest. But I maintain my argument:

          in the long run, both groups of people (that is, all people) are in the shit

          it is very early days still. And that’s setting the side the fact that morbidity and not mortality, in my opinion, remains the major burden of the disease. Many of the unvaccinated are of course pro-infection, and would not accept that they would be suffering from covid-induced morbidity even if they were because of their political prejudice (and I’m sure this exact dynamic would apply to pro-vax PMC types as well). Many MDs are similarly tribal, and the stories of LC advocates being told their conditions are psychosomatic, or that the medical profession doesn’t take Long Covid seriously, are quite ubiquitous at this point. There’s also the question of Omicron trading pathogenicity for transmissibility, while still causing serious and possibly subclinical harm to health, per GM. Again, remember that Australia is overwhelmingly Omicron infectees and Long Covid has become quite a serious problem at scale here in just 10 months of Let It Rip. We also know that serious Long Covid was being suffered by many infectees in the United States and the rest of the world in 2020 before vaccines were available. If there is a hypothesis floating around that the unvaccinated are escaping harm of this sort since December 2020, then I find it fanciful. All of which is to make the simple point that, unless I’ve badly misinterpreted something here, harms being done to the population (again, vaccinated and unvaccinated) are likely to go beyond what covid hospital admission data can tell us.

          The vaccine policy, as I think I’ve said repeatedly, was really bad internationally. Like, really bad. A catastrophic error that never had to be made. Especially in Australia and other erstwhile ZC countries where it was used to abandon success and replace it with failure, and to rationalise inevitable and serious harm, a complete betrayal of vaccines as a public health tool. I think the vaccine per se is mediocre with a less than ideal safety profile, rather than intrinsically harmful, and am not convinced by the most strenuous and opportunistic claims of vaccine harm, and nor in fact am I entirely convinced by some of the more moderate claims of vaccine harm, which I understand probably puts me against the blog – though I very much stand to be corrected and made a fool of in that regard with time. But anyway, for the reasons I’ve outlined, in my opinion, the vaccine/vaccine campaign is a symptomatic sub-outrage of the crisis as a whole, not the outrage, and my point is that the GBD/anti-vax campaign primarily serves as the sort of bad cop to the “we have the tools” good cop, which serves to distract and mislead minds in the fashion of the blog mentioned above and others in the “alt-sphere” (CJ Hopkins, off guardian come to mind).

          1. Yves Smith

            Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

            Where we differ is in the claim that the unvaccinated are pro-infection. A few Great Barrington Decree nutters may have been, but I think it’s fairer to say more were some combination of vaccine skeptics, mask skeptics (and remember crappy or badly worn masks are pretty much no mask) and “Covid is no worse than the flu” types. However, I see so much utter recklessness among the vaccinated (no masks on airplanes, going to conferences and meetings unmasked, going to bars and restaurants) that there’s now no functional difference. If anything, the wealthier and presumed more vaxxed and boosted on average are likely to have more means and opportunity to participate in high risk activities.

            1. Basil Pesto

              Of course

              Where we differ is in the claim that the unvaccinated are pro-infection.

              I actually have made the point elsewhere that I’m not convinced that all unvaccinated are pro-infection, so I think you’re right to an extent. It’s of course intellectually lazy to make that assumption (and I think many commenters here give the lie to that notion). And stuff like this is perpetuated by the “Repubs suffering more than Dems” bullshit narrative, pushed by Dems lately (eg Water Cooler yesterday). So where we probably do differ is on the size of our Venn Diagram overlap, so far as these categorisations are concerned.

              And you’re right about the recklessness of the vaccinated, absolutely. I remember some of the social media shrieking directed at the unvaccinated/anti-vaccination holdouts in Australia last year, even though they’re such a marginal group, and even though the obviously foreseeable, inevitable failure of the vaccines made them utterly irrelevant. Now, barely anyone wears an adequate mask even though they are a far more efficient tool at preventing transmission, especially when worn collectively, than vaccines ever were. As I’ve been saying re: these people for a while now, for many of them it’s now “Black Lives Matter (unless I have to wear a mask)”.

              Speaking of which, GM has pointed out that a lot of moral authority was ceded when the BLM protests of 2020 were excused by many anti-covid liberals on the grounds of a wishy-washy abstraction of them being pro-public health in and of themselves. Such hand-wavey hypocrisy is obvious, amd it was probably in retrospect a turning point in the pandemic response and its politicisation, in the US at least. Despite the best efforts of the protestors, many of whom did wear face coverings, it’s obvious those protests contributed to chains of transmission that left dead people in their wake.

    4. VietnamVet

      “Waiting for the Fall” is good article. Yes, it is obvious that we the people are being lied to. Not seeing it, psychologically, is a means to cope, to avoid the unpleasantness of being disturbed. If the truth gains consciousness, the lie can no longer be sold.

      Fifty years ago, the USA and North Vietnam peace talks broke down. To bring the Communists back to the negotiations, the USA commenced the 1972 Christmas Bombing Campaign. 15 large B-52s were shot down, 11 other US aircraft destroyed, and thousands killed to get the negotiations restarted. The Paris Peace Accords were signed in January 1973. By April all 591 of America’s known POWs were released.

      Eight months into the new World War between Ukraine/NATO and the Russian Federation, the truth of who attacked the EU by destroying 3 or the 4 natural gas pipelines from Russia to Germany is undetermined. Who is winning the war is unknown. Kherson on the West Bank of the Dnipro River is being evacuated. Is it about to encircled by the Ukraine counteroffensive? Or, is a winter Russian flanking invasion through Belarus in preparation?

      Today there are no negotiations – no diplomacy. Boris Johnson scuttled the April Armistice. Without talks, there is only escalation of the war. Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons to defend Crimea and the four Eastern Ukraine Oblasts it annexed. Likewise, tactical nuclear weapons are the only defense that NATO has if the Russian winter offensive invades Poland or the Baltic States. As long as the Biden Administration continues its regime change campaign against the Kremlin and its economic war against China, without a settlement, peace, and a multi-polar world that lives within its means; a civilization ending global nuclear war is pretty much guaranteed.

      1. c_heale

        I don’t think Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Putin didn’t say he would. He said he would use nuclear weapons against decision making centres. This means London, Washington, etc.

    5. Henry Moon Pie

      I like a couple of Greer’s points. First, that politics flows from culture, and culture flows from imagination. Second, that our elites are scrambling rather than master planning.

      Greer did miss it by claiming climate changes have always been present. True enough, but not so much in the Holocene when humans spread across the planet and established what we call our civilization. With the added heat in the atmosphere and oceans, we have kissed the mild Holocene good-bye.

      And I’ve been waiting for the fall ever since Grace Slick promised:

      Don’t change before the Empire falls.
      You’ll laugh so hard you’ll crack the walls.

      “Greasy Heart”, Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane

  7. C.O.

    I have been disturbed by observing medical professionals who seem unwilling or unable to wear their masks properly. It may indicate demoralization and/or exhaustion rather than overconfidence in just one covid-19 precaution.

    Meanwhile, my workplace has just reinstated masking requirements for both staff and visitors (visitors weren’t required to wear masks after March this year). More of the local grocery stores and similar have signs up reporting unprecedented staff shortages due to illness.

  8. flora

    re: 1 in 7 men and 1 in 10 women in the US don’t have a single friend.

    I’ll add this commentary from an essay on Lasch’s “Revolt of the Elites…”, which book I mentioned in this morning’s links, commentary by Rod Dreher. (Yes, Dreher is a conservative with whom I often disagree, but he makes some points.)

    “Though a Harvard graduate ([Lasch’s] roommate was John Updike), Lasch was a Midwesterner by birth, the son of ardent prairie progressives. After discarding his youthful socialism, Lasch still believed that minimizing economic inequality was important for democracy. Because the greater the class divisions, the more difficult it is for people to understand themselves as part of a society oriented toward the common good.

    “His most important insight was the widening gulf between economic and cultural elites and the mainstream of American life, whose moral codes and traditions they hold in contempt.”


    The common good. Imagine that. Not an all-against-all world of atomized individuals.

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘Dear @accpchest
    This one photo helps us gauge the level of (in)competence among U.S. Critical Care fellows. Maybe you can clarify if Anything was done to protect them/patients/work colleagues next week, from that pandemic infection with known short and long term sequelae.’

    The photo says it all. They may know but they won’t go against the consensus. What’s that line from “Jaws”?

    ‘Smile you son of a bitch.’

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ‘Smile you son of a bitch.’

      For those who came in late, like me:*

      This “smile” thing, whatever it is…. is an extraordinary cultural moment. Yet nobody has written on it.

      NOTE * What an…. old-fashioned soundtrack!

  10. marym

    > “DeSantis’ “voter fraud arrests:

    In other FL voting news:

    Gov. Ron DeSantis is making it easier for voters to cast ballots in three southwestern Florida counties that were hit hard by Hurricane Ian and are bastions for GOP support…

    Some of the accommodations being offered run counter to recently enacted voting laws pushed by DeSantis and passed by the GOP-led state legislature. Among those laws is one that limits drop boxes, called “ballot intake stations” in the law.

    More than 450,000 voters in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota are registered as Republicans, compared with 265,000 Democrats and nearly 290,000 affiliated with no party…Orange County, where Hurricane Ian passed as a Category 1 storm and left historic flooding in Orlando and surrounding areas, has 360,389 registered Democrats and 217,061 registered Republicans. It was not granted any exceptions.


  11. petal

    Holy jeez-just had a political commercial come on YT where it showed every single stereotype of “right wing” and deplorables-all white people of course: white man with tattoos and mullet standing next to his truck, rough looking older white woman with a red maga tank top, a white male cigar smoker, etc etc, all white people, and the narrator said “these radical maga republicans are counting on you to stay home on election day”-and showed an asian woman, a black man, and a black woman while it was being said(the “counting on you to stay home on election day” meaning minorities). I still cannot believe it. It was so offensive and racist. Has anyone else seen this one? If I happen to see it again I’ll read the small print and see who put it out.

    1. flora

      Thanks, Petal. Your on-the-ground reports are much appreciated. (Glad to have a “field guide to identifying US deporables”. (Half of my friends are ‘deporables’, apparently. As in “apparently”, aka by visual presentation.) You get the joke. /oy)

      1. petal

        Ay, there’s the rub though, Lambert-no candidate or state mentioned. It seemed to be a general pro-D GOTV commercial.

      2. petal

        I’ll keep looking for it. It was one of those where you’re in shock at what you’ve just seen and so don’t react fast enough to look who put it out.

  12. Pat

    I really wish someone would ask Biden, if codifying Roe is so important to Dems, why did they support anti choice candidates over those clearly pro choice in so many primaries? And what guarantees dopey have that those candidates, who might not have been obvious but never denounced or changed their position in the current campaigns will vote to codify. Not to mention how Democrats will increase their majority to overcome the Democrats that have already voted against it straight out or procedurally?

  13. Jason Boxman

    So here’s an innovative way to spread COVID!

    Goodbye Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Hello, Luxury Bus?

    Mr. Rosenberg started searching for buses online. He stumbled on Napaway, a company that promised premium overnight accommodations on an 18-passenger bus with seats that fold into a flat bed and come with a pillow and plush blanket.

    (bold mine)

    This after this genius play:

    John Rosenberg found a last-minute flight for $200 last month from Washington, D.C., to Nashville to see Pearl Jam. But flights home were $600 and there was no easy way to take the train.

    Because the Pandemic is over, of course.

    We’re truly doomed.

  14. JBird4049

    I love the idea of Microsoft deciding they needed to standardize on one font for Office and optimizing for PowerPoint. Plus the engineers thought old-style numerals were broken, because they didn’t sit right on the baseline. Say what you will about Apple, at least they understood fonts.

    If I understand this right, Microsoft decided to overwrite people’s fonts after they have been typed? Never you mind Microsoft incompetence. How about malice? Why would anyone think it a good idea to overwrite someone’s chosen font?

    I think for most, the exact font is not important, although I do prefer Helvetica myself, but I could easily be using OpenDyslexic. But then, Microsoft has always thought it knew how you wanted to use their crap better than you did.

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