2:00PM Water Cooler 10/27/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Philadelphia Vireo, Massawepie Boy Scout Camp, St. Lawrence, New York, United States. “Other Behaviors: Be Displaced, Emit Agonistic Call.” I originally read “agonistic” as “agnostic.” Anyhow, makes me feel like rain is coming.

* * *


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

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

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

Biden Administration

“Biden officials worry pandemic exhaustion could lead to bad covid winter” [WaPo]. How can people be “exhausted” with something that’s already over? “[T]he administration is bracing for 30,000 to 70,000 additional casualties despite public health experts’ insistence that most of those deaths can be avoided with vaccinations and antiviral treatments.” • Not if BQ.1* takes over….

“Scoop: White House prepares for post-midterm turnover” [Axios]. “: White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain has tapped former administration officials Jeff Zients and Natalie Quillian to help oversee a wide talent search effort outside the administration to bring in new talent, an administration official told Axios.” • “Jeff Zeints… bring in new talent.” To quote the twisted Mentat Piter De Vries from Dune: “Oh, my! This is almost too rich!”


* * *

“A second railroad union votes down Biden’s tentative agreement” [NPR]. “A second railroad union voted on Wednesday against ratifying the tentative agreement brokered between the railroad managers, unions and members of President Joe Biden’s administration. The move increases the possibility of a strike in November that would endanger the national supply chain if a deal is not reached. The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, which represents over 6,000 workers in the United States, announced that its members voted to reject the tentative agreement, sending the union back to the bargaining table with management. In a statement, union president Michael Baldwin notes that it’s the first time the union has voted against ratifying an agreement. Sick leave policies continue to be at the center of talks. Unions argue current policies don’t allow workers to take personal or sick time off. While the presidential emergency board (PEB) appointed by President Biden negotiated increases in wages, it did not address the leave policies.” • Big opportunity for Biden to do the right thing here. But since this is the stupidest timeline…

“Fundamentals Favor Republicans” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “[W]ith less than two weeks until Election Day, it looks as if the fundamentals — an unpopular president, deep frustration with the status quo, and stubborn inflation — are ultimately going to define this midterm. For Democrats, voter opinions about the economy are the most challenging to overcome. Not only are voters expressing frustration and pessimism with the state of the economy, but they give Biden low marks on his handling of the issue and see Republicans as better able to tackle inflation. The recent CNBC All-America Economic survey found that while voters were slightly less negative than they were earlier this summer in their perceptions of both the president and the economy, a significant majority (61 percent), remain pessimistic about the current state of the economy and doubt it will improve over the next year. Regarding who voters trusted to ‘bring down inflation,’ Republicans had a 15-point advantage (42-27 percent). Moreover, the CNBC poll found that while ‘threats to democracy’ is the No. 1 issue for Democrats, and ‘immigration and border security’ is top for Republicans, ‘for independents, inflation is the leading concern, and little else registers.’ In other words, Democrats may be mobilizing their voters with calls to protect democracy and abortion rights, but independent voters are much more focused on their cost of living concerns. There’s little that Democrats can do between now and Election Day to make that economic squeeze feel less significant. At the same time, we also know that our deeply polarized electorate has limited the shape and the scope of the political playing field. Getting a huge ‘wave’ is harder when there are few partisan defectors and even fewer swing districts. In other words, one Democratic pollster told me the other day; things look merely ‘dire’ for Democrats instead of ‘catastrophic.’ Dire, this person told me, means a GOP gain of up to 20 House seats, but continued Democratic control of the Senate.” • In my more optimistic moments, I’ve thought that a House loss would at last clean out the Pelosis of this world. Unfortunately, since the Progressive Caucus just showed itself to be completely useless, indeed not only cowardly but throwing its staff members under the bus, I’m not sure how much difference that would make.

“Biden vows ‘breathing room’ for families going into midterms” [ABC]. • “Breathing room”? That’s it? This is the Democrat pivot to an economic message? Really?

* * *

GA: “New Woman Alleges Herschel Walker Urged Her to Have Abortion” [Daily Beast]. • I would bet voters have priced this in.

PA: Post-debate, mind you:

People love the firefighters….

PA: “John Fetterman’s TV debate was disastrous – but he can still beat Dr Oz” [Guardian]. “ohn Fetterman can still become the next senator from Pennsylvania, the Democrat who safeguards their fragile majority. He is effectively tied or leads in many reputable polls, and he’s been a prodigious fundraiser throughout the race. Few left-leaning Democrats, in such foreboding terrain, have engineered a coalition this formidable. All of this must be stated outright because Fetterman’s lone televised debate performance was disastrous. In May, he suffered a stroke, and he could not speak consistently and coherently on Tuesday against his Republican opponent, Dr Mehmet Oz. While partisans online defended his speaking style and pleaded for empathy – all victims of health calamities certainly deserve it – it was inarguable that Fetterman struggled, and even sympathetic observers acknowledged a debate format was a steep challenge. Fetterman is simply not the candidate he was before his stroke. But he can recover, and probably will – with a strong medical team, a well-heeled politician can regain the functions he lost. Fetterman’s speech and auditory processing are impaired, but not his cognition. Staff can certainly assist him with his Senate duties if he manages to get to Washington next year.” • I suppose it could matter what your baseline for “cognition” might be. DiFi? (I find it hard to comment on this story because the dog I have in this right is not Fetterman but his “every county” campaign strategy. Also I have strong defenses against symbol manipulation, in the forms of (1) never trusting video (as opposed to transcripts) and (2) not making armchair diagnoses (based on the long-forgotten Terry Schiavo controversy). However, my defenses may be working against me in this particular case.

PA: “Framing Disability as Disqualification in Fetterman/Oz Debate” [FAIR]. “In one of the most cringe-worthy examples of post-debate punditry, CNN Tonight (10/25/22) spent its entire panel on the debate critiquing Fetterman’s performance and questioning his mental capacities, with virtually no discussion of the two candidates’ actual policy positions and how well they align with voters’ interests.” • I think ableism is a silly frame, since (say) being wheelchair-bound isn’t the same as having lost cognitive function. I mean, we don’t vote for DiFi because she has, well, bad days, but for other reasons.

TX: “As early voting begins, pressure is on for Beto O’Rourke to close the gap with Greg Abbott” [Texas Tribune]. “The Democratic nominee for governor is entering the final stretch of his third campaign in six years with the odds stacked against him. As early voting begins Monday, Republicans are salivating at the prospect of delivering a knockout punch to his political career, while Democrats are hoping they can prove the polls wrong by turning out a new electorate aligned against GOP Gov. Greg Abbott…. While O’Rourke has worked to energize Democrats on issues like abortion access and broken fundraising records, he has trailed Abbott by at least mid-single digits in almost every likely voter poll in recent months, including the latest survey released Friday in which the gap widened to 11 points. O’Rourke has shrugged off the deficits, saying polling does not fully capture new voters — and that polling underestimated him in his 2018 race against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz anyway. But Abbott’s lead has proven more consistent than Cruz’s — one of several differences with the near-miss loss in 2018 that made O’Rourke a star.” • A “near-miss” loss made Stacey Abrams a star, too…

TX: “How Years of Organizing Put Drug Reform and Diversion on the Ballot in Central Texas” [BOLTS]. “Organizing by Mano Amiga since last summer has helped turn this November’s elections into a referendum on both marijuana decriminalization and pretrial diversion in Hays County. Activists with Mano Amiga gathered enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot this year that would end citations and arrests for possession of up to four ounces of marijuana in the city of San Marcos, the county seat and home to one of the state’s largest public universities. This politically competitive county is also voting for a new DA. Mau is retiring, and the race to replace him could pave the way for the kind of pretrial diversion program that local activists have demanded, and officials have promised, for years. While GOP nominee David Puryear echoes the anti-reform, tough-on-crime rhetoric of state and national Republicans, Democratic nominee Kelly Higgins vows a ‘sea change’ in the county. He has promised to decline prosecution of cannabis possession and at last implement a cite-and-divert program for other low-level charges. Higgins would also add to the growing roster of reform-minded officials in Hays County, the fastest growing county in the nation—a reflection of the larger population boom in the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin. Some of those officials attended and spoke at a ‘Reeferendum Fest’ Mano Amiga activists threw earlier this month to drum up attention to the ballot measure in San Marcos—including County Judge Ruben Becerra, a Democrat first elected to lead the county in 2018 on a platform of criminal justice reforms and who is seeking re-election this year.”

* * *


“Trump to rally in Iowa ahead of Nov. 8 as he teases 2024” [Associated Press]. “The event, set for Nov. 3 in Sioux City, the hub of Iowa’s conservative northwest, comes as Trump has continued to tease interest in a White House comeback campaign as he has campaigned around the country for Republican candidates. Returning to Iowa, where the 2024 Republican presidential caucuses are scheduled to launch the GOP nominating sequence, would likely further stoke speculation of Trump’s future. ‘In order to make our country successful, safe and glorious again, I will probably have to do it again,’ Trump said in Robstown, Texas, on Oct. 22. The Iowa event is part of Trump’s rally tour in the home stretch of the 2022 campaign. It is also expected to include stops in Pennsylvania and Ohio.” • Glorious? I’d settle for mere functionality.

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.

* * *

“Democrats Debate Themselves: Why Do We Suck?” [Politico]. “Twelve days before the election, Democrats have yet to lose the House or Senate, or confront the dire, your-lab-results-are-back-and-the-doctor-needs-to-see-you implications for a progressive agenda. Plenty of prominent party voices, however, believe it’s best to prepare in advance. It is one of the more notable features of the 2022 midterms — the readiness to perform an autopsy on a living patient. Many Democrats believe there is already sufficient evidence to make the question unavoidable: What the hell is our problem?” • As I write above: “[T]he Democrat Party is as ‘unreformable’ as the PMC is unreformable.”

Gabbard nails it on the “sternly worded letter” the Progressive Caucus wrote on Ukraine, after which, like puppies, they promptly rolled on their backs, exposed their bellies, and widdled:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Adidas ends partnership with Ye over antisemitic remarks” [Associated Press]. • Anyone who watched Parliamentar Labour combine with the intelligence community and the press to defenestrate Corbyn over false charges of anti-semitism can see where this well end up.


• ”Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and COVID-⁠19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha” (transcript) [Whitehouse.gov (antidlc)]. “You know, unlike COVID, which is purely airborne, with RSV, a lot of it is surface transmission. And therefore, washing hands turns out to be actually quite a good thing for RSV.” • Let’s see if Jha walks this back. (Thanks to antidlc for a transcript, not a video clip.)

• “National Strategy for Improving Indoor Air Quality” (PDF) [Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security]. From the Executive Summary:

Several themes stood out during the conference, including the need to:

• establish an easily measurable set of factors to determine IAQ

• improve minimum IAQ requirements

• set performance standards for building operation and maintenance

• incentivize building owners to improve IAQ.

Notably, participants highlighted the urgency of enacting major changes, before the COVID-19 pandemic fades from the public eye.

All this should have been put in motion two years ago.

• “Reducing Transmission Of Covid-19 Through Improvements To Indoor Air Quality: A Checklist For Community Spaces” (PDF) “This checklist is designed for community spaces and congregate settings such as drop-ins, community health centres and shelters.

It is not designed for other types of workplaces, health care settings, individual homes or multi-unit apartment buildings. This document was created based on local context and experience with community spaces in Toronto. Please carefully consider local context when using this checklist.” • Still, very handy. I defer to HVAC experts in the readership, but they have a checklist for you right up front, and it looks sensible to me. They also have a whole section on CO2 monitoring.

* * *

• ”For those still trying to duck covid, the isolation is worse than ever” [WaPo]. “Duck” Covid? Like it was my responsbility to get sick? What sociopathic editor wrote that headline? Then the deck: “Some members of the masked minority have reorganized their lives indefinitely.” The “masked minority”? Wowsers. (I think I’d prefer “remnant” to “minority,” but wev. Cf. Romans 11:5.) The bullying gets worse in the body: “People who are still taking all available precautions largely fall into two groups: those with underlying health conditions for whom contracting the covid-19 virus — or, in some cases, even getting the vaccine — could be very dangerous; and those who just don’t want to get this virus, either because they fear acute illness or long term deleterious effects. Both camps have largely given up waiting for a light at the end of the tunnel. They view covid as here to stay, and have reordered their lives accordingly.” • I don’t view Covid as here to stay, if only because I can’t bring myself to believe that #CovidIsAirborne will not, ultimately, win out (as, ironically enough, handwashing did, in its time).

* * *

• Mastravaganza: Dear Abby:

I don’t suppose many NC readers have this problem, but maybe not?

• Maskstravaganza:

Those pesky essential workers! Why won’t they get with the program?

• Maskstravaganza: the arithmetic of air travel:

Probably worse in the United States, especially on domestic flights.

• Maskstravaganza: The real estate developers weigh in:

The Wharf is a multi-billion dollar mixed-use development on the Southwest Waterfront in Washington, D.C.” Used to be part of Anacostia before it got rebranded, apparently. From their About page: “At The Wharf, ‘community’ has always had a larger meaning. From the start, it was the foundation this development was built on, the idea that informed every decision made.” Because what kind of community is it, where I don’t share your air with you?

* * *

* * *


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 24:

0.8%. Faster increase.

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 23:

October 22:

The latest MWRA data from the Boston area:

Lambert here: So far, I don’t think we have a signal of winter’s onslaught.


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 7:

Lambert here: BQ.1*, out of nowhere. So awesome.

Variant data, national (CDC), October 1 (Nowcast off):


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,094,163 – 1,093,338 = 825 (825 * 365 = 301,125, 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

GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy grew an annualized 2.6% on quarter in Q3 2022, beating forecasts of a 2.4% rise and rebounding from a contraction in the first half of the year. The biggest positive contribution came from net trade (2.77 pp vs 1.16 pp in Q2), as the trade gap narrowed. Imports sank 6.9% (vs +2.2%) while exports were up 14.4% (vs 13.8%), led by petroleum products, nonautomotive capital goods, and financial services. At the same time, nonresidential investment jumped 3.7% (vs 0.1%), boosted by increases in equipment and intellectual property.”

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 3,000 to 217,000 on the week ending October 20th, below market forecasts of 220,000. The results halted expectations of a loosening labor market that emerged with previous releases in October, challenging recent rhetoric of a dovish pivot along with the stronger than expected GDP growth data for Q3.”

Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for the US manufactured durable goods increased 0.4% mom in September of 2022, following an upwardly revised 0.2% gain in August and beating market expectations for a 0.2% advance. New orders were up six of the last seven months.”

Manufacturing: “United States Kansas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Kansas City Fed’s Manufacturing Production Index fell to -22 in October of 2022 from 2 in the previous month, the lowest since April of 2020. The slower pace in factory growth in October was driven by decreased activity in computer and electronic, wood, primary metals, and plastics and rubber manufacturing. Most month-over-month indexes decreased in October, except for supplier delivery time and finished goods inventories.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Ford-VW driverless car venture folds in face of tech challenges” [Financial Times (KLG25)]. “Argo AI, a self-driving vehicle group jointly backed by Ford and Volkswagen, is abruptly shutting down operations after six years of development. Establishing fully driverless technology that is profitable and scalable would cost billions of dollars and take at least half a decade, John Lawler, chief financial officer at Ford, said as the company reported results on Wednesday. ‘We’ve looked at this every way you can,’ he said. ‘And we just see the profitability . . . a long way out.’ The shutdown follows years of consolidation as Uber, Lyft and others have thrown in the towel upon realising that the dream of robotaxis is more distant than the industry had envisioned five years ago, when big sums of money flowed to small start-ups, and major automakers feared that their business model was at risk. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent on driverless technology since Google launched its self-driving project in 2009, but no meaningful revenue has emerged and the vast majority of projects are in some stage of pilot mode overseen by engineers.” • This will come as no surprise to NC readers. The implication: Whatever AI can do is simpler than driving a car, something virtually every human adult can do. So, sorry squillionaires. No robot slaves for you after The Jackpot!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 58 Greed (previous close: 55 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 27 at 2:06 PM EDT. A swing to greed? Weird. Honestly, if it means Mr. Market thinks there won’t be a nuclear war, I’m a happy camper. But still…

Sports Desk

“We Could All Learn a Thing or Two From Fans of Lousy Sports Teams” [The Atlantic]. “Being an NBA fan who loves the Wizards is a little like being a foodie who adores turnips: It just doesn’t make sense…. Anyone can root for a winner. That’s easy.”

Zeitgeist Watch

As Twitter’s rendezvous with Elon approaches, people post the tweets and threads that never be forgotten:

“Buddhism and this newsletter” [Nonzero Newsletter]. “One reason these are natural questions is that most Americans who evangelize on behalf of Buddhist practice—like, meditation teachers you encounter at retreat centers—seem to shy away from politics and geopolitics…. here is a bedrock belief of mine, a belief that also has a firm grounding in Buddhist teaching: The relationship between affect and cognition is in urgent need of recalibration! Some of the world’s biggest problems result from the way affect and cognition naturally interact, when we don’t subject their relationship to reflection and adjustment. For example: During a war—any war—people on both sides tend to notice and embrace and amplify information that reflects favorably on their side or reflects unfavorably on the other side, and they tend to ignore or dismiss or minimize information that reflects unfavorably on their side or favorably on the other side. This dynamic not only helps sustain wars but helps start them in the first place. And this dynamic depends on natural patterns of interaction between feelings and thoughts…. One way to put one of Buddhism’s central claims is like this: The reason we suffer, and the reason we make other people suffer, is that we don’t see the world clearly.” • Hmm.

Our Famously Free Press

“‘Media literacy’ advocates push to create savvier consumers of news and information” [Los Angeles Times]. • Oh noes! “Savvy consumers”!

Class Warfare

Starbucks managers all seem to have gotten the same memo (1):

Starbucks managers all seem to have gotten the same memo (2):

Minutes. Good. I like minutes.

Starbucks managers all seem to have gotten the same memo (3):

* * *

“Gender Blur” [The Baffler]. “In an essay for The Cut about their relationship to nonbinary identity earlier this year, Brock Colyar, the magazine’s party reporter, bemoans how they/them pronouns have become ‘just another dead end.’ Like so many others, Colyar initially gravitated to a nonbinary identity out of a desire to disrupt the gender binary and assert a distinct personhood; what they were left with was disappointment and ambivalence. The scenes they describe are familiar, and familiarly off-putting: anyone who’s ever participated in a group pronoun-sharing exercise or read “she/her” in their extremely cisgender boss’s email signature can attest to how silly and patronizing the whole process often feels, especially if you’re the only trans person in the room. ‘If this is a step toward some other utopic, gender-blurred society,’ Colyar writes, ‘when did it start to alienate me?’ It’s a good question, and I share Colyar’s irritation with how nonbinary identity feels like it has become little more than grist for human resource exercises and marketing decks. But Colyar’s impulse to pin these shortcomings on the very concept of pronouns themselves, on the campus social justice warriors who championed them, or even on conservatives, misses the mark. We got stuck with this particular version of nonbinary identity—singularly focused on pronouns, clumsy corporate integration, and iconoclastic affect—because nonbinary identity has become a brand. It is both a way of being in the world and an empty signifier, one that companies, advertisers, and influencers alike can take on and off at will in order to pantomime radicalism, even while remaining largely uninvested in material political change. The disenchantment arises from the dissonance between these idealistic aspirations and these limited political demands.” • Yes, it’s certainly extremely odd that young, photogenic, and courageous Starbucks organzers don’t get to become brands. Why would that be?

News of the Wired

More water pr0n:

“Walking (and busing) San Antonio” [Chris Arnade walks the world]. “San Antonio’s historic downtown is steps away, just beyond an elevated expressway that encircles it. Eight elevated lanes of pillars and fumes. A modern day gated city — with the stench of urine as its moat, and solitary men, some barking inner thoughts, others throwing garbage at pillars, as the sentries. Inside that gate of cement pillars is history and tourist. But they are confined to a river-walk. A sliver of the good life — cafes, bars, speciality shops — sold by its proximity to one US’s few foundational folk myths…. Outside of that sliver, it all goes downhill fast. History can’t put a shine on whats a stereotypical struggling US town. A place where the energy pulsates from the outer beltway, and the center’s on life support — one failed urban renewal project after another. Like an archaeological strata of past bulwarks against the decline. Those cities are a dime a dozen in the US, so it makes sense San Antonio embraces its history as a source of pride. As a way to distinguish itself. Baltimore with the Alamo. But the Alamo is a quirk, a notable one. A small building in a very big city. What really distinguishes San Antonio is its Mexican-American culture. To show that my cartoonish description isn’t entirely fair. That San Antonio isn’t just an outer ring of suburban sprawl with a hollowed out center. That between the two is mile after mile of functional working class Mexican-American neighborhoods. Simple homes festooned with American flags, crosses, and yards of ceramic frogs. Fathers playing soccer with their kids. Mothers juggling babies. Families heading off in minivans and F150s to Sunday mass. The American dream, written in Spanish.” • As usual, absolutely terrific photos.

* * *

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 JJD:

JJD writes: “It’s the season for goldenrod in the Piedmont of North Carolina, Praying mantises especially like hanging out in it.”

* * *

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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. FlyoverBoy

    Tried and failed to book a Novavax booster. They’re available at very few locations in my major metro area. I booked an appointment by phone at the closest one to me, a half hour away. They called back moments later and said, “We checked your records. You’ve been boosted before, so you’re ineligible.”

    Now, as the deadliest of holiday seasons nears, my only apparent options are to either go through all the gatherings unboosted, or further fatigue my immune system with the questionably effective vaccine of my “choice” (there being only two corporate-approved choices on the menu: messenger RNA vanilla or messenger RNA French vanilla).


    1. JTMcPhee

      Or just mask up. And use the non-vax prophylaxis like Vit D, zinc, beta fine spray and gargle, etc. If social exposure is so important to you.

      Or just stay home.

    2. cnchal

      So, the expectation is that you will catch covid and hope the deadliest of holiday seasons doesn’t kill you.

      Or harm you long term. Covid brain rot is real.


    3. ambrit

      Since serial booster shots are already a part of the Covid Kabuki Performance, the denial for previous boosterism is questionable at best. Could there be a shortage of the Novavax? Or, full cynic mode here, could the plan be to infect as many of the people of America with some sort of mRNA “experimental” inoculant as possible before the major side effects become undeniable?
      I know I will present as a full on Tinfoil Hatt wearing nutter by saying this, but this Pandemic is looking suspiciously like a Jackpot Enablement Program. All of the ‘wrong’ policies are being enacted. Most of the ‘right’ policies are being suppressed.
      Stay safe. Question Authority.

      1. Jason Boxman

        The Publix Pharmacy here in NC, where I asked, said that the vaccines are still allocated by the state and they didn’t know when/if they’d have any Novavax available.

        1. ambrit

          Hmmm…. So, no “Free Market” in vaccines? A curious mix of Corporate Socialism and Public ‘Liberty'(TM), on display.

    4. timotheus

      NYC subway mask report: usage creeping up slowly from the let’s-ditch-‘em bottom to maybe 1/3 or even 1/2 on some trains. Contrast with a fancy harp concert in a Chelsea penthouse where a grand total of ONE mask appeared in the oh so PMC audience of 35.

  2. deedee

    On “Democrats Debate Themselves: Why Do We Suck?”
    Is it too soon to conclude that Democrats need to move toward the center? I say that in jest but if that were somehow to result in sidelining woke-ism that might not be a terrible thing. Plus they could double-down on being the party of blood-thirsty warmongering.

    1. Hepativore

      The answer that all of these consultants and DNC leaders invariably come up with when they have these pseudo-analytical discussions is that they need to move further right and be more like Republicans. The only voting blocs that the DNC seems to care about are upper-middle class suburbanites (wine moms/Karens) and the mythical center-right “swing-voters”.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Moving further to the right…I mean “to the center” while doubling down on woke is the only case where the Dems can walk and chew gum at the same time.

    3. nippersdad

      “Is it too soon to conclude that Democrats need to move toward the center?”

      Nine out of ten of James Carville’s personalities emphatically vote No!

      “Too much reliance on abortion-rights positioning, not enough on anti-crime, said James Carville, who believes his 1990s-era political instincts are not as obsolete as a younger generation of liberals believes.”

      Mr. 1994 Crime Bill hasn’t noticed that Abrams is trailing with the male black vote BECAUSE of her stance on aiding and abetting funding the police. I can say from personal observation that there is nothing about the police state around here that is not shiny, even as the we can’t seem to keep the food pantries stocked.

      I’d watch the interview with Carville were someone to ask him why people are stealing loaves of bread, and it ain’t because we don’t have enough police. An evening spent with Les Miserables might do him some good.

      1. John

        How about advocating for policies that “just plain folks” support? I could cite examples , but so can you?

        1. nippersdad

          Petty crime, the sort that Carville is most exercised about, has everything to do with poverty. Empowering more police to put a lid on the boiling cauldron only makes the pressure worse. If one has a problem with homelessness, cops can’t fix that. If one has a problem with mental health issues, cops can’t fix that. If one has a problem with hunger, again, cops can’t fix that.

          I have read that were the police forces of the United States defined as a military it would the the second largest in the world. Take some of that money out of their pot for other uses and maybe the pressure to build more prisons would abate. I don’t think that is as difficult or controversial a message to promulgate as either Abrams or Carville would have us believe.

          We are about to spend a hundred fifteen billion dollars to feed our pet Nazis in Ukraine, but moar cops is what Carville thinks is going to fix all of our problems? If he, and the Democratic party, want to remain relevant they might want to look at the way they expend the monies they have, rather than criticize those pointing out the error of their ways since way back in the Nineties.

    4. hk

      What always makes me mad when people say “move to center” is that there is nobody at this mythical center–that is nobody has bland milquetoast views on all issues. People mistaken for the “center” usually have fairly strong views–both right and left–that just happen to average out to middle, or they don’t care enough to have strong views…for now. Neither would be impressed by “the center” even if the actual center were being offered.

    5. jsn

      Wokeism has nothing to do with the “left”.

      It’s the latest Liberal ploy to avoid making actual leftist promises.

      Universal, real material benefits are “left” and wokeism was invented by Liberals to prevent them.

      1. nippersdad

        Exactly. You can pick a lot of pockets in the time it takes to sort out all of those pronouns, and I think that was the idea.

    6. Duke of Prunes

      From the endless campaign commercials in this very blue area of Chicago and surrounding suburbs (which do turn a little red when you get into the further out suburbs), the Ds are all in on “protecting reproductive rights”. Meanwhile, the Rs are all in on “funding the police”. There seem to be no other issues. I think the Ds are going to win because they always do, and all this campaign money is making some people rich, and that’s about it.

    7. eg

      Did anyone consider the possibility of trying to appeal to the almost 50% of the electorate that don’t vote?

  3. Roger Blakely

    COVID transmission.

    This week I was forced to travel from Southern California to Northern California for a mandatory two-day training. I flew out from LAX on Monday and came back Wednesday night. I would say that 4% of people in the airport were wearing masks, and three-quarters of those people were wearing N95s. I was wearing an industrial 3M half-mask respirator with particulate filters. No one bothered me about my respirator. I only had to take it off for TSA to look at my face.

    Of the forty people in my training, only one other person wore a mask, a blue surgical mask.

    I picked up some virus in LAX, probably having landed on my eyeballs. Thirty-six hours later, SARS-CoV-2 was attacking my lower back muscles. It turns out that lower back muscles have a lot of ACE-2 receptors, which is what the virus sticks to. I can’t stand up straight. At training I was doubled over. I told everyone who would listen that it was the mischief of SARS-CoV-2.

    By the second day of the training there were at least four people in my training class that had the distinctive COVID cough, which these days is a short, dry cough.

    I don’t know how many people are going to get sick with COVID-19 or how sick they will get. I don’t know how many of them will generate a positive COVID test. My back pain and GI tract misery will be gone in three days. I’ll test on Monday, but I’ve never tested positive.

    I was the skunk at the garden party. Only one other person, the guy wearing the surgical mask, agreed with me that we were participating in a spreader event.

    I am not convinced that this December and January will have lower death rates than last year. I think that vulnerable people will end up in the hospital or dead if they get exposed to enough BA.5 or BQ.1.

    1. IM Doc

      Get well soon.

      I do hear this same story or variations thereof so many times every week.

      As an aside – it is not unusual at all – in fact may be more common – for patients to have several days of negative home COVID tests before they finally have a positive. With many days of symptoms. Have had two people this AM who are COVID positive only after 5 or 6 days of symptoms and negative COVID tests every day.

      It is becoming painfully clear that those tests are not worthy of the amount of money being spent on them. It is also clear that far too much is being asked of them with regard to quarantine and staying home from work issues.

      I do not know what is the problem but this bad testing is becoming a real problem as well.

      1. semper loquitur

        This is disturbing news. About three months ago, I had a mild “cold”, no aches or sore throat. Sniffles and light cough, that’s it. I dutifully quarantined and took three home tests spaced 24 hours apart each. All negatives so I resumed work and shopping.

        I take high dosage Vitamin D, CBD oil, a multivitamin, and I gargle twice a day plus nose rinse when I am in a group of people. I mask all the time. Now I wonder if I had a weak COVID infection. And if I spread it.

      2. Objective Ace

        For what its worth — I had negative *PCR* tests on days 2 and 3 still. I didnt get tested day 4. Day 5 I finally tested positive. If my son hadnt tested positive earlier in the week (and excellent health insurance) I would not have continued dutifully testing

        I’m not sure if its the variants or what, but its not just the at home tests that are letting us down

    2. Daryl

      I’m coming off a bit of travel myself. I saw a few KN95s, N95s. More people in SF wear masks, I’ve noticed, usually Asian folks, even outside. Surprised that people who are wearing masks are still wearing random cloth masks or masks below the nose… like, why bother at this point?

      Thought I’d escaped as I got back on Saturday and have been fine but I’m feeling a bit off this afternoon, which is still within the realm of possibility for covid incubation period. (Or I got it during the few errands I’ve run while here, though I’ve been in and out of places really quick). Time will tell, I guess.

      Hope you feel better soon.

    3. Roger Blakely

      Thank you, IM Doc. I think that the tests are a problem coming from another direction too. I’ve never tested positive though I struggle against COVID-19 constantly. I get exposed to variants; they cause mischief; I recover. But my employer never has to worry about anything. As long as I cannot generate a positive test, my employer and its workers’ compensation insurer can say that my employer has never exposed me to SARS-CoV-2 and that I’ve never had COVID-19.

      Another problem with the tests is that people are getting knocked down a second and third time only to announce that it wasn’t COVID and must have been some other virus. I think that these people are getting a systemic infection with SARS-CoV-2 but that their immune system has got the situation under control in their nose.

      Daryl, I think that reaction time is a function of familiarity with the variant. For example, when people took their second vaccination, they got hit with the fatigue within twelve to twenty-four hours. If the immune system doesn’t have the variant dialed-in, it takes several days to feel the fatigue generated by the immune system kicking into gear. That might mean that you are going to get a good fourteen-day cycle out of this systemic infection. Then again, we never know how much or how little mischief SARS-CoV-2 is going to cause each time or which organ systems are going to be effected.

    4. SocalJimObjects

      I may have gotten Covid a month ago although my doctors didn’t think so. The only symptom I had was a fever and the resulting headache that would not go away for a long time, 3 weeks plus to be exact. Taking Paracetamol/other anti fever medication would relieve the fever/headache but it would come back 4 hours later, and this went on for weeks, it was truly a nightmare. No cough, no flu, no loss of smell, I even maintained my appetite!!! I went to see three different doctors and the first one prescribed a broad spectrum anti bacteria medication. That didn’t work. In the end what seemed to do the trick was a different kind of broad spectrum anti bacteria medication prescribed by the third doctor. My fever broke in one night.

      I also took a couple of Rapid Tests and one PCR, and they were all negative. Anyway this is the first time I’ve been sick in the last 4 years, and I hope not to repeat the experience soon.

  4. Verifyfirst

    TheWharfDC has apologized as follows:

    We apologize for the poor phrasing of our recent mask signs. Health and safety are The Wharf’s top priorities. The intention was to discourage Halloween masks for the safety of all residents and visitors. The signs have been removed.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Trying to polish the turd that they had dropped. And also trying to make out that they were talking about something else. Pure PMC spin.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Nah, a photo emerged in a tweet from October 2019 of the exact same sign being used for Halloween. So they’re almost certainly telling the truth, even if the sign is still tone deaf under the circumstances

        1. The Rev Kev

          Then why didn’t they simply put the word ‘Halloween’ before the word ‘masks’? The past three years when people talk about masks, they are not usually talking about Halloween masks but surgical masks. With Halloween, people generally associate the word ‘costume’ with it, not masks.

          1. Basil Pesto

            Because they didn’t think before they acted, probably. On top of that, they’ve been told over and over that the pandemic is over etc. Masked people are presumably a pretty rare daily occurrence. I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever got the sign out of the ol Halloween Preparedness Storage didn’t give the sign’s text a second thought: “this is the sign I have been told to put out because it’s the sign we put out every Halloween to prevent excessive costuming, and everybody who sees this sign will understand that as its purpose”

            1. tegnost

              I doubt anyone ever read it, but the reaction reveals,well, something at least.
              Still, no halloween masks allowed? That reveals something too.

        2. c_heale

          I think they were thinking of something else when they wrote the sign. CCTV. They wanted to be able to see peoples’ faces.

          1. Pilar

            There actually is quite a bit of crime in DC right now so I understand the no Halloween masks rule. And trust me, plenty of people wear masks in DC so I’m sure it had nothing to do with Covid.

  5. hunkerdown

    > The implication: Whatever AI can do is simpler than driving a car, something virtually every human adult can do.

    I propose an alternate implication: driving is an interpersonal relation, which depends strongly on theory of mind, which is not computable on unlike hardware.

    (Gracious hosts, will you please have your web dude check the Cancel reply function… replies to the post sometimes get treated as replies to a comment. It might have something to do with page reloads.)

    1. lambert strether

      > I propose an alternate implication: driving is an interpersonal relation, which depends strongly on theory of mind, which is not computable on unlike hardware.

      Hmm. Interesting.

      1. hunkerdown

        Also non-verbal communication, and mutual credibiilty between FSD cars and human drivers. When I cycled, I noticed how often I communicate with pedestrians and other drivers using eye contact and other (mostly polite) gestures on almost every trip. Their current vector of motion wasn’t enough; often it was necessary to anticipate them and their intent to some degree by appreciating their paths of travel, their encumbrances, their blind spots, and so on. I’ve noticed that behavior is important to defensive driving as well. It’s hard to imagine contending with an unpiloted car in a construction zone merge. Does the passenger speak authoritatively for the robot driver when they yield to me, or will the robot proceed despite reassurances? Or will it try and possibly fail to read my face then violate the expectations of any or every human involved? Just can’t trust them dern things if you can’t read ’em.

    2. jsn

      I second that thought: the AI impossibility of the “left turn into traffic” is the proof.

      That one maneuver, and particularly in the test case AI fails, entails bluff, haptics and faith.

  6. QuicksilverMessenger

    Report from the field- I live in Seattle in one of ‘upper scale’, most definitely PMC, neighborhoods north of the ship canal. Dropping off my kid at school today, I saw, on a nice looking Lexus, a Trump 2024 sticker. It’s about as blue as you can get where I am, and I have never seen a Trump sticker or sign here. And it’s two years out. Anyway…

    Also, does anyone know what has happened to commenter ‘jr’? I don’t think I’ve seen any comments from him in a long time. They were always pretty interesting to me. Maybe just taking a break

    1. nippersdad

      I don’t think I have ever seen her look so exhausted. The dreary sameness of it all must be getting to her.

      1. semper loquitur

        She’s been trying to tow the line for them for a minute. I think Katie Halper getting fired was a slap across the face. It must wear on her, I think she is not a rank careerist and believes in higher principles.

  7. jsn

    ““Breathing room”? That’s it? This is the Democrat pivot to an economic message? Really?”

    You can’t go on with the waterboarding if you let the subject drown.

    GOP, “go die! (sotto voce: don’t take me with you re: Biden/Ukraine)”. Ds, “have a breath so we can dunk you again!” Progressive Caucus, “Let me look again, I’m sure my sunglasses are down there somewhere.”

    1. flora

      AOC’s townhall meeting had a couple people unhappy with her war vote shout at her. She rebuked them for being “rude” but didn’t address their complaint. The House “Progressive” Caucus promptly issues a sternly worded (wheedling) letter to B about the war and then immediately retracts the letter. The Dem self-owns are verging on slapstick comedy.

      1. Skip Intro

        Just saw E. Warren have someone questioning her support of n@zis in Ukraine escorted out of her presser, only to have his refrain about nuclear war picked up by another.

        1. The Rev Kev

          It’s actually a good thing this. They just revealed who they really are and not what they say that they are. And just before an election too so people won’t have a chance to forget.

    2. hunkerdown

      They’re already supporting the OUN-B fer cryin’ out loud, they may as well just use the German term.

    1. nippersdad

      Seems to me that Stoicism is the willingness to put up with things, whereas in Buddhism the idea is to view things as outside of oneself, and only something to be witnessed prior to moving on to another plane. IOW, for Stoicists putting up with things is a way of life, whereas Buddhists see it as a temporary episode on the larger path to enlightenment which makes the expense of emotional effort more trouble than it is worth.

      Shorter: suck it up vs. this too shall pass.

    2. c_heale

      Living in a country where about a third of the population are buddhists, and knowing some personally, I don’t think most of them would be buddhist if it was just about emotion control.

    3. Chantelle

      Žižek underscores something he views as foundational to human life: some forms of suffering are actually worthwhile. Suffering can act as a catalyst for change, such as when one fights for a cause one believes in despite personal hardship. Karl Marx, while toiling over his most important and influential writings on capitalism, lived in relative squalor and lost some of his young children to illness. Abraham Lincoln, arguably America’s greatest president, buried a son while in the White House and agonized over the ravages of America’s bloodiest conflict. Yet, both men used their suffering to strive towards something greater than themselves; for Marx, it was the eventual collapse of capitalism itself and for Lincoln it was ending slavery and preserving the Union. I highly doubt that if either men had taken up a westernized mindfulness practice that their lives or works would’ve been as endearing.

      Žižek elaborates on this point through psychoanalysis:

      For a Freudian, this already is problematic and far from self-evident – not only on account of some obscure masochism, but on account of the deep satisfaction brought by a passionate attachment. I am ready to suffer for a political cause; when I am passionately in love, I am ready to submit myself to passion even if I know in advance that it will probably end in catastrophe and that I will suffer when the affair is over. But even at this point of misery, if I am asked, ‘Was it worth it? You are a ruin now!’ the answer is an unconditional ‘Yes! Every inch of it was worth it! I am ready to go through it again!’

  8. VT Digger

    Re: Gender Blur

    I have this image of a person emerging triumphantly from the hospital in a new body, big smile on their face as they open the driver’s side door of their beat up Chevy Volt, which contains all their worldly possessions, to bed down for the night.

    Security: “Zhe, you can’t park here overnight.”
    Zhe: “But I’m-”
    Security: “Please move along. Thank you for your business. Move along.”

    1. semper loquitur

      Personally, I’m stunned that asserting “one’s own” pronouns hasn’t toppled the hetero-honkyarchy yet. How shocking it must have been to learn that when words stop meaning anything, anyone can say what they mean! It appears you can’t seat a revolution on a empty concept but you can seat the status quo comfortably. Fortunately, there is the rainbow hair dye to fall back upon.

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    “We Could All Learn a Thing or Two From Fans of Lousy Sports Teams”

    The NBA is a terrible examination for this. The games are functionally a race to score 100. They tweak the rules, but going back to the introduction of the shot clock, the goal is for the first team to get to a 100 for that team to win the game. The games are fairly exciting. There aren’t that many 120 to 40 point NBA games.

    Then there is the episode of Seinfeld where they think they are going to a Knicks Bulls games at Madison Square Garden. Kramer brings up the excitement of Michael Jordan, and the Knicks were pretty good at the time, featuring Pat Ewing. Even fans of lousy NBA teams get to see stars and superteams come to town and put on a show.

  10. Tim

    Regarding White House talent. I’ve been to the halls of congress in DC. The place is crawling with so many of the smartest, (aka. most talented) people in the country.They are talented, but talent isn’t the problem.

    The structural motivations of that system are the problem. And human’s being humans do what is best for themselves in that system they’ve successfully inserted themselves into.

    We’re a country of ~400 million marks, being schemed by the most talented people to be taken for as much as the their talent can figure out how to take.

  11. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: GDP: “United States GDP Growth Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy grew an annualized 2.6% on quarter in Q3 2022, beating forecasts of a 2.4% rise and rebounding from a contraction in the first half of the year…

    Whew, no need for further fed futzing with the definition of “recession.”

    Here’s a plain English analysis of what happened from Sundance at theconservativetreehouse. No link because the mods don’t approve. You can read the article and see the tables at that site.

    The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) calculation is a valuation of all goods and services created within the economy, minus the value of goods and services imported. However, even a cursory look under the topline number shows how the import/export dynamic creates the illusion of economic growth.

    In the third quarter we exported hundreds of billions worth of energy products, including massive liquified natural gas (LNG) sales to Europe, and oil sales to the global market from the strategic petroleum reserve. We also sold billions in weapons to Europe. Those sales are calculated as exports, lifting the GDP number (Table 1). At the same time, imports of durable goods into the United States collapsed; meaning less was deducted from the GDP. The net import/export impact on the GDP dynamic was +2.77% (Table 2).

    Meaning the third-quarter import/export dynamic alone contributed 2.7% growth to the percentage of change for the prior period. However, the total GDP only rose 2.6%, because the actual economic value created domestically got smaller. We made less internally, sold less internally and consumers purchased less internally.

    …The import/export dynamic alone was enough to explain the entire gain in Q3 GDP and is a function of US support of the European war economy as the US exports record number of commodities (oil and gas), as well as Joe Biden’s massive multi-billion weapon sales to Europe.

    Dunno, but I’m persuaded.

    1. flora

      Yep. I’m persuaded, too. And the FAANGS are sinking. Amazon sinks -16% on weak 4th quarter guidance. FB laying off staff and its parent Meta is down 70% from its high. MS, TI, and Google sinking, too.
      (I’d like to see one of comrade Jim Haygood’s FAANG charts right now. Not yet the classic Wile E. Coyote moment but going in that direction.) / ;)

      Watch what happens after the midterms and in 2023 Q1 & Q2. Should be “interesting.”

    2. Objective Ace

      We made less internally, sold less internally and consumers purchased less internally.

      Fracking/drilling for oil is an economic function. What is exported is “created” here and has always been included in GDP, regardless of whether consumption is up or down

  12. Phenix

    “Buddhism and this newsletter”

    Engaged Buddhism deals with the issue raised by this newsletter. I do not know what school of thought the author follows but I follow Thicht Nacht Hahn. I came across him during college and ended up taking a course on Buddhism. I’ll have to read more of his newsletter but I didn’t see a lot of substance. If you are anti war and also interested in Buddhism please take the time to learn from and about MLK’s contemporary.

  13. RookieEMT

    What the heck is going on in Twitterland and everywhere else? Caitlin Johnstone and the other anti-war critics are getting hopelessly dog-piled by vile trolls.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 80% bots but still, there’s the blue checks showing up to throw shade as well.

    I’ll say it again, it’s not a mask off moment. People are just ripping their own faces off. Show off their skull and let the blood flow. Their vision is just one of war and death now.

    1. nippersmom

      I have very few followers on Twitter and rarely comment, but when I do I also get jumped by groups of people who are rabid proponents of the Ukraine as victim/Putin evil line, and anyone who doesn’t support US/NATO intervention and hail Zelensky et al as heroes is not only in the pay of the Kremlin, but undoubtedly a pedophile and irredeemably vile human being. (Yes, these “people”, if they are in fact humans, refer to Putin as a pedophile, and those who don’t think he’s the worst dictator in the history of human kind must be just like him.) They have their own set of facts, and if you provide evidence to refute them, just accuse you even more vehemently of being either a bot or a treasonous supporter of the enemy.

      It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to visit the site even to read the people whose comments I find insightful, or to look a the occasional innocuous or entertaining tweet on non-political subjects. The constant vitriol is just too exhausting. Caitlin is clearly a better woman than I, but I knew that already.

    2. d2gmaster

      I dont think most people are pro-war, but you don’t need bots when general polling supports US aid
      for Ukraine. Johnstone is anti-war, but also anti-West in pretty much every thing Johnstone puts out.
      Hard to view as objective.

      1. tegnost

        plain english suggests you’re pro war if you want war aid for ukraine…
        so you don’t think most people are pro war, but polling contradicts your view…
        but you didn’t provide any polls so here’s one…


        66% of americans adults favor regaining lost territory, 31% don’t give a damn about ukrainian territory, they’d just like it to be over.
        You regain lost territory with war, particularly if diplomatic solutions are considered anathema,,, and if you blow up the pipeline, and the bridge, and car bombing civilians, and talk about first strike nukes are ok if we do it…well… Also, I think the anti west framing is bs, go around the world and to deplorastan (maybe skip the hamptons) and the american people are tolerated mostly favorably, but the policies of our rabid political class are increasingly making the country itself a pariah. I’d say caitlin is more anti imperialist than anti west.

      2. Donald

        She is anti- West if you mean she opposes Western imperialism, which is what people usually mean by that phrase. It generally doesn’t mean they don’t like Shakespeare or Western discoveries in science.

      3. hunkerdown

        Polls are worthless as they are hard to construct in a non-manipulative fashion.

        The “West” neither deserves nor is entitled to piety. What solvent inhalation makes you believe piety is objective or that values are real?

    3. Acacia

      My first guess would be that with Elon taking over at Twitter and sacking their CEO, CFO, and censorship czar, things are changing fast. NYT reports at least one of the now-ex-execs was frog marched out of Twitter HQ by security.

      I imagine a Twitter war room somewhere in San Francisco, red alert sirens whooping, with nobody at the helm. Apparently, over 1100 Twitter employees have bailed since Musk’s overtures became serious (mostly to Google and Meta, the latter’s stonks now tanking hard lol queue the world’s tiniest violin).

      Now that Elon has taken charge, we’ll see if he does anything about the bots and industrial-scale spook gaslighting. Not holding my breath. I wonder if there was also some monkey wrenching by Twits on their way out, such that Twitter very quickly resembles 4chan. Under the hood, the Twitter app that runs the platform is likely be a Rube Goldberg-esque nightmare of code smell.

  14. flora

    1970: Nixon signs the Environmental Protection Act.
    1972: Club of Rome issues its Limits to Growth and climate alarmism warning.

    A speculation: Big business hated the EPA because it was going to cost them money to change air and river discharge practices, among other things. No more dumping. Big business and CoR hijacked the EPA idea and turned it into Climate alarmism, an idea creating a space where they can make lots of money, not be charged lots of money. Carbon Offsets, anyone?

    Is anyone rushing to clean up Flint, Michigan’s lead contaminated drinking water? (The EPA is as corrupt as the CDC by now, imo). How many are eagerly finding new ways to make big profits on the Climate emergency? My 2 cents.


    1. Henry Moon Pie

      So Donella Meadows is a dupe or a collaborator in a 50 year-old scheme to take our STUFF away! OMG!!

      Don’t think so. But I will commend your valuation skills.

  15. juneau

    Re:a face saving way to explain why you’re wearing mask at a work meeting: I have a colleague who lets everyone know they are protecting a vulnerable “other”. Hard to argue against that.

      1. Nordberg

        The couple of times I have been to the office, wearing my mask, People have asked if I was an anti-vaxer.

          1. Basil Pesto

            to be honest if I was wearing a mask and somebody asked me if I was anti-vax because of it, my retort, if I could recover from the stunned silence, would probably be along the lines of “are you out of your fucking mind?”

  16. dcblogger

    Mehmet Oz and the Ghost of Mel Carnahan

    The election was noteworthy for this reason: Mel Carhanan was dead.

    I don’t mean ‘dead’ as a euphemism for a bad campaign. I mean literally dead, as in deceased. Yes, John Ashcroft lost to a dead guy.

    Sure, Carhanan was popular and he (posthumously) garnered some sympathy. But a lot of people just didn’t like Ashcroft (things were a little different in 2000). So I’m not really worried about Fetterman. His health will improve, and even if he needs hearing assistance, he’ll still be a better vote.

    Also, he’s not actually dead.


  17. marym

    Follow-up on a link in yesterday’s Water Cooler about Nevada activist wanting to hand count ballots. The post linked below is about one county that’s begun a hand count, not as the official count this year, but something of a test run. There’s a lot of politics in the post, but there are some examples of the time and resources to do the count, and error rate, though not enough volume to make a definitive judgment.


    1. The Rev Kev

      I worked many times in our local election poll which was the high school hall. We had to deal with about 1500 votes if I recall correctly. So forgetting about the time spent cleaning up, packing away the cardboard voting booths, etc. the counting took only about two or so hours. We dumped the votes out of the cardboard voting boxes – one for Senate votes and one for the House of Parliament and then unfolded them and put them into rough stacks with observers watching nearby. We’d do the initial tally and do the numbers. Then, under our voting system, the papers would be re-allocated according to people’s second choices, third choices until there was a majority in the votes. The final number were then counted and then the results phoned in. In short, it’s not hard and is actually fast and easy. And not that long ago, it was done everywhere in America before the computers and machines wedged themselves into the process.

      1. marym

        I’m interested in how it works well in other countries, but don’t know much. Random web surfing didn’t help. I’ve read descriptions like yours, of separate ballots for separate races, or counting and re-stacking the same ballot multiple times for separate races on one ballot.

        My mid-term paper ballot (suburb of Chicago) has (quick count, I may have missed a few) 18 candidates for executive, and legislative office, 15 for judges, 54 candidates for judicial retention (don’t ask), a state referendum, and a local one.

        It’s perfectly plausible that I lack sufficient imagination, but I can’t picture how this would work or how long it would take.

        In ancient times in Chicogo, most offices were on a machine with levers, along with color coded separate ballots for judges and referenda, but I don’t know how the tabulations were done.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Probably easier here as we don’t elect our judges or sheriffs too for that matter. We have our Federal elections (two houses to vote for and sometimes a Referendum), State elections (only one House in our State – don’t ask) and local election which we vote for councilors and that is it.

      2. ProcopiusProcopius

        In Thailand, we use paper ballots, marked by hand. After the polls close, they open the boxes, unfold the ballots, and one or two people call out the results, while a third person makes a mark on a blackboard next to the person’s name. Works quite fast. There are often (usually?) twenty or thirty local people standing around watching the counting. I don’t recall ever hearing a claim about dead people voting, but there are usually accusations of buying votes. I think they are unfounded in recent decades, but I’m a crazy foreigner, what do I know?

    1. hunkerdown

      The facial work was a completely “mild” success and she’s now living under an assumed name in Kings Cross, Sydney, Australia.

  18. MaryLand

    According to Twitter the no masks allowed sign has been taken down. They meant Halloween masks they said.

  19. Art Vandalay

    re: Beto and Stacey as stars –
    But Abbott’s lead has proven more consistent than Cruz’s — one of several differences with the near-miss loss in 2018 that made O’Rourke a star.” • A “near-miss” loss made Stacey Abrams a star, too…”

    What better way to ensure they are always “fighting for” than to never even win?

  20. Steve Moran

    Chris Andrade is not where many of us are at politically, but I’ve read his book “Dignity” & I read his free posts & I respect him. If you haven’t looked through his portrait of San Antonio (GREAT pictures, as Lambert says), you might consider doing so. We’ve lived here for thirty years & I think Andrade DOES get San Antonio right: THE great thing about this city is its Mexican working-class culture. Like the brilliant KLG, I too grew up in the (white ethnic) working class, & then got a PMC education on scholarship. But now, retired from a lower-tier PMC career, I’m back in the working class where I belong, in our little arts-and-crafts bungalow on a block of Spanish-speaking renters a few miles NNW of the Alamo. A heating-and-AC contractor who did some great work for us be a few months ago just got back from out of town. We sat down on my front porch and caught up. My wife’s health is frail & I’m about to pay our exorbitant property taxes (“asset inflation,” as Michael Hudson says). When we got around to the almost thousand dollars we owe my contractor friend, he waved it off, and said he’d stop around again after the first of the year. We’ve done everything on a hand-shake basis. La hora meijicana ( = I prefer doing things on Mexican time).

  21. The Rev Kev

    ‘if you’re wondering how insanely low the Mississippi River is right now here’s me on a massive sand dune in the middle of it near rosedale, mississippi’

    Three walkers meeting up together for a meet-up and to compare their walks the past few months.

    First walker: ‘Why, this year I walked the Appalachian Trail’.

    Second walker: ‘That’s nothing. I walked the Pacific Crest Trail.’

    Third walker: ‘Got you both beat. This year I walked the Mississippi river.’

  22. Tom Doak


    I was just at a conference at The Wharf in D.C. this week. I didn’t see the sign you posted, but I certainly didn’t see many masks, either.

    I took a couple of hours of my spare time to tour The Museum of the American Indian on The Mall. It’s a great museum, I’d recommend it to anyone. They suggest starting at the top floor and working down; the top (fourth) floor is a full-on exhibit of many of the various treaties between the U.S. government and Tribal Nations, including who were the negotiating parties on each side, what they were thinking, and the text of the agreements . . . and how quickly the people of the U.S.A. violated those agreements! I wanted to take a shower on my way down to the third floor.

    The exhibition cemented the fact that “the U.S.A. is not agreement-capable” starts with treaties signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, although they themselves did not violate those treaties. If foreign governments would visit the museum before their meetings with authority, they would likely just cancel their business, turn around and get back on the plane to home.

    P.S. The one exception to the treaty debacle was the Navajo tribe, who negotiated with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. They had been relocated to a desolate part of New Mexico, but the 1868 Treaty let them return to their ancestral lands in NE Arizona, recognizing their connection to the land.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Well, to be fair it’s likely Biden doesn’t remember what gas prices were earlier today, either. Joking aside, I doubt Biden has bought his own gas in decades, either, and probably wouldn’t even know how to pump gas were it necessary. For most Americans the price of gas is of a more immediate and imminent concern.

    2. tegnost

      The only reason gas isn’t 7 bucks a gallon right now is because biden is draining the reserve…what other cans are being kicked beyond the election? We do need a meaningful recession…/s

  23. Jason Boxman

    So in other financial news today, Treasury Direct is basically unusable, and the message posted is that there’s such a rush of citizens trying to get into i Series Savings Bonds before the deadline on the 28th for the 9+% interest offered for this next 6 month period, that they’re overwhelmed.

    It’ll be interesting to see in after election polls whether inflation will be what hoses liberal Democrats; Or maybe they do manage to hold? We’ll know very soon.

    1. Screwball

      I can validate this. I was on TD the other day and got timed out several times. I’ve never experienced this before. I was trying to buy some bonds. When it didn’t time out, it was so slow I could barely use it.

  24. pjay

    “Framing Disability as Disqualification in Fetterman/Oz Debate” [FAIR].”

    I have been reading FAIR regularly for many years. It is among a tiny handful of sites (along with NC) that provide a measure of sanity in a sea of madness.

    But over the last few years there have been some disquieting submissions that could have come from the NY Times – or Vox. In my view this is one of these. This has occasionally led me to comment there (which I almost never do). It has always been the same author.

    In reading Lambert’s overview of the article, I was almost certain who wrote it. I was right. I’m sorry, but in my opinion this person is undermining the cache that FAIR has built up over many years of good critical work.

  25. Acacia

    Research from from Nagasaki University:

    Fulminant Myocarditis 24 Days after Coronavirus Disease Messenger Ribonucleic Acid Vaccination: A Case Report

    A 60-year-old Japanese woman was hospitalized for cardiogenic shock 24 days after receiving the second dose of the coronavirus disease 2019 BNT162b2 vaccine. […] An immune response associated with the presence of spike protein in cardiac myocytes may be related to myocarditis in the present case because of positive immunostaining for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 spike protein and C4d in the myocardium.

  26. Michael McK

    I had to declare my pronouns recently. I felt that “I/Me” was an appropriately navel gazing response.

    1. wol

      My wife was asked her pronouns at a Staples. She responded, “Cathy.” For myself I prefer “Your Majesty/His Majesty.”

    2. The Rev Kev

      Could have gone full bore and said that I have three pronouns – me, myself & I. But my friends call me ‘Sir!’

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