2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Laughing Dove, Amara, Ethiopia. “Song from a bird on the ground in a small tilled field surrounded by boulders and a small cliff, followed by wing noise at the end of the cut as it flushed.”

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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

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Musk’s foreign investors in Twitter are ‘worthy’ of review, Biden says” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he would support a U.S. government review of the foreign investors backing Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter purchase…. ‘I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,’ Biden said during a post-election news conference at the White House. ‘Whether he is doing anything inappropriate — I’m suggesting that — I’m suggesting that it’s worth being looked at.’… Asked how a U.S. review would take place, Biden said, ‘there’s a lot of ways,’ but declined to elaborate.” • Hmm. Does Elon have a laptop?


“Calcified Politics Gives Us Another Close Election” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “But, as we have written extensively over the last two years, other fundamentals matter in our politics; fundamental structural realities make ‘landslide’ elections harder and harder to come by…. Events and the responses to them from politicians no longer have the ability to deeply and fundamentally reshape our politics or political coalitions. With fewer people willing to ‘defect’, even when they are unhappy with the status quo, you get more close elections and fewer ‘wave’ elections. Also, when every election is an existential election, the drop-off among ‘in-party’ voters, which was once common in midterm elections, is no longer the case.” And descending to earth: “In early 2021, Gov. Brian Kemp was considered the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the country. Today, he won re-election handily with 54 percent of the vote. In Florida, Ron DeSantis, who narrowly squeaked into office in 2018, crushed Democrat Charlie Crist with almost 60 percent of the vote. Kemp, of course, is one of the few Republicans to have survived Trump’s wrath. DeSantis is Trump’s most formidable potential rival. Both put a lot of coin in the ‘credibility’ bank this evening. Trump, meanwhile, watched many of his hand-picked candidates for governor and Senate go down to defeat. All eyes will be on Donald Trump for his November 15 “reveal” in Mar-A-Lago. But it’s DeSantis who has the momentum for 2024.”

“Midterm 2022: Not a Referendum, But a Choice” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “What was so unusual was the unevenness of the results. As noted above, Florida was a total disaster for Democrats, with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) winning reelection by huge margins (DeSantis won by almost 20 points, an incredible spread). The rout was so total that Democrats even had to sweat out a couple of House races that should have been easy victories. New York, too, went well for Republicans, as Rep. Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) held Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) to a modest victory and the GOP appears to have done well in House races there, including toppling Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-17), who conceded Wednesday morning. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may well remain the Majority Leader, but he saw much of his usual crossover support collapse last night — he took over 70% of the vote when he was last up, in 2016, but is sitting at just 56%. But in other places, Democrats did great. They won or are leading in almost every competitive House race of consequence in the Great Lakes region and scored major statewide victories in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. There was some sign of this in the leadup to the election, in which Democrats were fretting about some key races in blue states but were holding up well in battleground states; this wasn’t a mirage, it was reality. A lot of nonpartisan pollsters can hold their heads up high in this cycle — some of the GOP firms who released a flood of rosy Republican surveys, not so much. Tuesday also provided another reminder that Election Day chatter can be very deceiving — the turnout anecdotes and data we noticed on Twitter ended up being worthless in most instances. In our own projections, we set the parameters for what we thought would be a good but not great Republican night. It’s clear that the GOP vastly underperformed what we thought was likely to happen in the House, and probably, in aggregate, in Senate and governor races too, although let’s wait until all the votes are in before making a universal assessment of what happened. We hesitate to say much about Arizona and Nevada, where the vote count is ongoing and the picture muddled. The same is true of California, where several key House races remain in doubt and likely will remain so for some time.

“Why Democrats Don’t Win The Way They Should” [Black Agenda Report]. “It isn’t incompetence that keeps the democrats from fully realizing their political power. The terrible truth is that they prefer horse trading over the issues of importance to their donor class than they do meeting the needs of the people. Why does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi constantly speak of the need for a “strong republican party?” She needs a strong republican party, that is to say one which doesn’t resemble the January 6th rabble that frightened most of the nation. A more respectable and traditional republican party is one she can compromise with, and both sides of the aisle can represent the interests of the U.S. oligarchy while pretending otherwise.”

Youth vote:

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“All eyes on Arizona and Nevada” [Politico]. “Washington woke up Thursday to a second day of waiting as vote counters in Arizona and Nevada tally the ballots that will decide the balance of power on Capitol Hill for the next two years. The two battleground states remained too close to call as of Thursday morning with hundreds of thousands of ballots yet to be tallied. A third uncalled Senate race in Georgia will head to a runoff election on Dec. 6, with neither candidate able to meet the 50 percent threshold needed to win. The Senate’s fate comes down to the three remaining uncalled races, as Republicans would need to pick up two Democratic seats to take back the Senate majority. If the parties split Arizona and Nevada, senatorial control will rely entirely on the outcome of the Georgia runoff in December.”

PA: “Smiling Fetterman Asks Oz If He’d Mind Slowly Repeating Concession For 5th Time” [The Onion]. “‘I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that. A little slower please. You said something about losing? I just want to be absolutely certain I’m hearing this right.’ At press time, Fetterman suggested that perhaps he could accept the concession in person if he were ever in New Jersey.”


“Progressive group launches ‘Don’t Run Joe’ campaign in New Hampshire” [The Hill]. “A progressive grassroots organization linked to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially launched its “Don’t Run Joe” campaign in New Hampshire on Wednesday in a bid to dampen a 2024 White House run from President Biden. As promised back in July, RootsAction launched the campaign just one day after the midterm elections, hoping to discourage Biden from seeking a second term. ‘It’s clear that Joe Biden should not be the party’s presidential nominee in 2024,’ the campaign said in a press release on Wednesday.” • I hate that locution “linked to.” Linked how? By whom? It’s never said. When you hear “linked to,” think “yarn diagram.”

“Trump Threatens to Reveal Unflattering Information About DeSantis if He Runs” [New York Times]. “Mr. Trump added, in remarks published on Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal, ‘If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.’ The former president, preparing to announce a rare candidacy for the White House after a defeat, was thus openly threatening to smear the person who would be considered his leading rival, should he choose to run.” • Oh, the agastitude!

“Trump Got a Midterm Shellacking. It Doesn’t Mean Much for 2024” [Politico]. “Trump, the original power of positive thinking candidate, sloughed off the defeat like a Gila monster shedding its skin…. But Trump’s 2022 embarrassment says little about his staying power as a candidate…. Untested by the 2022 election is Trump’s viability as a presidential candidate in 2024. Only a fraction of the party faithful who supported him in December 2020 has peeled off. His ability to raise money remains solid. And victorious Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — a likely top Trump contender for the nomination — has yet to prove an electoral appeal outside of his home state. Do you remember what a formidable presidential candidate Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was thought to be before he ran face-first into the Trump angle grinder in the 2015 primary debates? The ashes of the 2022 election have yet to turn cold. The press corps can’t afford to repeat the mistake it’s made time and again by underestimating Trump. Even Gila monsters have a few bad days. That said, it’s true that Trump has never appeared to be politically weaker than he is at this moment. Reporters and columnists have sniffed this out, so it’s only natural that they’ve taken out their tape measures to properly dress him in a pinewood overcoat. But midterm elections are midterm elections — important to restock Congress and the various offices around the country but almost worthless in predicting a presidential aspirant’s immediate future.” • I go back to Trump speaking for over fifteen minutes in a driving rainstorm. Show me another candidate who would do that for their voters. Trump’s flaws are of gigantic scale. Yet he remains of a different scale than the rest of the field. Certainly the Republican field. He’s simply a bigger man.

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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Lambert here: I can’t call a winter surge, though we’ll really have to wait for Thanksgiving travel. However, high transmission (CDC), the elevation and continued increase in positivity (Walgreens), and the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens) are all a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). Stay safe out there!

• ”How Did We Get Here?” [Britta Love, Sex, Drugs, and Covid]. The deck: “Consenting to a Mass Disabling Event.” “In this moment we have, somehow, collectively decided that it is OK that our most vulnerable members of society – the elderly, immunocompromised, the chronically ill and disabled, are being systematically excluded from participating in society outside of the home, indefinitely. For the most part, we do not even mask in medical offices or grocery stores to better protect them/us. They/we can either remain isolated, or risk death. Make no mistake, this is the normalization of eugenics…. If you’ve ever wondered what you would be doing if you lived in one of the scary times in history, when a society had decided some people had less value than others, where structures of power colluded to whitewash the truth about harm that was happening to hundreds of thousands of people each day, when social norms had shifted to normalize death and suffering of many for the benefit of the few? You’re doing it right now.” • The adults are in charge!

• From the WikiPedia entry (sorry!) on Geoffrey Rose, an eminent epidemiologist whose ideas have been credited with transforming the approach to strategies for improving health:

Of his numerous publications, there are two that stand out in terms of their influence on the discipline of epidemiology, the seminal 1985 article “Sick Individuals and Sick Populations” and his 1992 book “The Strategy of Preventive Medicine”. The impact goes beyond the field of epidemiology and into that of public health generally. One publication claimed that “A casual Social Sciences Citation Index search yielded over 700 citations of this work”. As S Schwartz and AV Diez-Roux pointed out, the central lesson that has been integrated into the aforementioned fields is that “a large number of people at a small risk may give rise to more cases of disease than the small number who are at high risk“. It was their assertion that this insight of Rose has profound implications for intervention and prevention strategies, and has been incorporated into research contexts through an understanding of the difference between measures of absolute and relative risk.

According to Rose, the ‘high-risk strategy’ to prevention is a clinically oriented approach to preventive medicine which focuses its efforts on needy individuals with the highest levels of the risk factor (‘the deviant minority with high-risk status’), and uses the established framework of medical services.

This “high risk” strategy is exactly the “focused prevention” advocated by the scumsucking eugenicists courageous yet misguided authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, who provided the ideological justification for the Biden Administration to abandon protections.

In other words, the ‘high-risk strategy’ is ‘a targeted rescue operation for vulnerable individuals’. The aim is to help each person reduce the high level of exposure to a cause or to some intermediate variable. Main strengths of this strategy include: the intervention may be matched to the needs of the individual; it may avoid interference with those who are not at a special risk; it may be accommodated within the ethical and cultural values, organisation, and economics, of the health care system; selectivity may increase the likelihood of a cost-effective use of resources. Main weaknesses of the high-risk strategy are: prevention may become medicalised; success may be palliative and temporary; the contribution to overall (population) control of a disease may be small; the preventive intervention may be behaviourally or culturally inadequate or unsustainable; it has a poor ability to predict which individuals will benefit from the intervention.

A failure of high-risk prevention strategies is their inability to prevent disease in the large part of the population at a relatively small risk and from which most cases of diseases originate.

In other words, the Biden Administration’s “high risk” strategy failed in exactly the way Rose predicted it would fail. Under the Biden Administration, the public health establishment systematically erased a 2022 – 1992 = 30-year-old discipline, good job.

• On Covid denial:

For those who came in late, a clip:

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• Cute:

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• Maskstravaganza: Bonnie Henry is the Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia:

Dear Lord. I keep meaning to do a write-up on Henry, because she’s such an egregious example of everything that’s wrong with public health. Canadian readers, you can give me pointers in comments, or send them to me via email. Thank you!

• Yet another thread on mask availability:

Made in America!

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• The direct approach:

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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.)


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, November 8:

1.1%. Increase.


Wastewater data (CDC), November 6:

Lambert here: Each dot is a sewershed, and since finally we’re getting some orange dots for New York, I thought I’d click on the dot for Queens, where both JFK and LGA are located, with results that you see. Heaven forfend CDC should give us a variant breakdown by sewershed, so we don’t know if that upward-pointing arrow is due to BQ.1* or not. In any case, if you are the cautious sort, I’d consider EWR (though of course there are many other factors to consider, like ventilation and the configuration of bathrooms). Weirdly, CDC wastewater is lagging both anecdotal reports and hospital data, but I figure that’s just CDC’s data shop, what can you do.

November 5:


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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), October 24:

Lambert here: BQ.1* moving along quite briskly.

Variant data, national (CDC), October 15 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. New York/New Jersey numbers are higher:

NOT UPDATED And as a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization continues to increase, from November 9:

Lambert here: I’ve added yellow lines to show the slopes of previous surges. This one seems pretty sedate, as surges go.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,099,494 – 1,098,524 = 970 (970 * 365 = 354,050, which is today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 to 225,000 on the week ending November 5th, the highest increase in four weeks and surpassing expectations of 220,000. The result eased perceptions of a tighter labor market, clashing with the hawkish policy signaled by the Federal Reserve in its November meeting.”

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US slowed for a 4th month to 7.7% in October, the lowest since January, and below forecasts of 8%. It compares with 8.2% in September.”

Inflation: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI)” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US slowed for a fourth month to 7.7% in October of 2022, the lowest since January, and below market forecasts of 8%. It compares with 8.2% in September. Compared to the previous month, the CPI rose 0.4%, the same as in September and below expectations of a higher 0.6% rate. The index for shelter contributed over half of the monthly all items increase, with the indexes for gasoline and food also increasing. Still, figures continue to point to strong inflationary pressures and a broad price increase across the economy, mainly in the services sector while prices of goods have benefited from some improvements in supply chains.”

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The Bezzle: “FTX’ed: The Tangled Ties Of Celsius Network and Sam Bankman-Fried” [Dirty Bubble Media]. From October 31:

However, it would behoove any interested parties to learn a little bit more about the many ties between Celsius Network and Sam Bankman-Fried. Public records, media reports, and blockchain analysis demonstrate that Celsius and SBF had a unique and multifaceted relationship. We show that:

  1. FTX enabled Celsius to manipulate CEL token markets. During 2021, Celsius appears to have purchased well over 40 million CEL tokens on FTX to drive up and maintain CEL price. This period coincides with the due diligence and announcement of Celsius’ $750 million equity raise from Westcap and La CDPQ.

  2. Celsius used FTX to liquidate hundreds of millions of dollars worth of user assets after freezing withdrawals. In addition to using the proceeds to pay back DeFi loans, a $104 million loan from FTX was discharged during this period.

  3. Celsius sent hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowed stablecoins through FTX, possibly using FTX as a clearinghouse for distributing loans to their institutional borrowers. We show that Celsius’ loan to the failed crypto hedge fund (Ponzi scam) Three Arrows Capital appears to have gone through FTX.

  4. Alameda Research is one of Celsius’ largest unsecured creditors, and Celsius’ largest unsecured creditor, “Pharos Fund,” is managed by a former co-founder of Alameda Research.

  5. Celsius Network and SBF share very close ties to the dubious stablecoin issuer Tether.

I haven’t been following the FTX debacle closely, because of course it’s a scam, but working from what I saw passby on my Twitter feed, this site was right early.

The Bezzle:

Well, maybe not a billionaire. Nevertheless.

The Bezzle: A thread on the malefactions of Elon Musk. Entertaining, but quite long:

The Bezzle: “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Firing 11,000 After Company Spends $15B On Metaverse” [Kotaku]. Old news but the headline puts the story together well. “What [The Zuckerberg™] doesn’t mention at all [in his email to employees] is that the company wiped out its massive revenues on Reality Labs, the disastrous metaverse project that even the company’s own developers don’t want to use. The goal of the metaverse, if it can be said to have one, is to create some manner of online VR space where people will want to spend their time and money, which as yet has not proven at all popular or successful. With $15 billion spent on the project since 2021, and with Insider reporting that no one is saying exactly where all that money went, that’s seen average quarterly revenue reduced to $30 million since. It seems an enormous elephantine subject to have left out of Zuckerberg’s statement, not least when he says he’s ‘shifted more of our resources onto a smaller number of high priority growth areas,’ which incredibly includes ‘our long-term vision for the metaverse.’ We have reached out to Meta to ask about exactly this, and why Zuckerberg doesn’t refer to this spending in his memo. Unfortunately, their only response was to link us back to the memo we were asking about.”

Tech: I really should have remembered this:

Perhaps Musk, like Steve Jobs, has a reality distortion field….

Tech: “DuckDuckGo CEO: Search Engine Is Not Purging Independent Media” [Heavy]. • There’s meme running around….

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 10 at 12:36 PM EST.


I thought I was the only one who hated the concept of a “battle” against, say, cancer. But no:

Class Warfare

“The past two weeks in US unions, October 23rd-November 6th(ish), 2022” [Jonah Furman, Who Gets the Bird?]. On rail: “Rail negotiation updates continue to trickle in, with the 6,000 members of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen voting down their agreement, joining the BMWE in rejecting the latest deal and preparing to strike. Meanwhile, the 5,000 members of Machinists District Lodge 19 narrowly voted to ratify their deal (52% voted yes, with 59% turnout). The thing I have stressed throughout is that although each union needs to ratify an agreement for it to officially be over, if just one of the unions strike it will likely provoke a national lockout/shutdown that will force Congressional action. Marty Walsh apparently wanted to make sure no rail workers accidentally voted Democrat in Tuesday’s midterm elections, so he went on CNN to tell them that Congress will preempt a strike. Obviously, rail workers know that in the event of a strike they are going to be forced back onto the job, the question is just under what terms; if Walsh says they’re going to be preempted, presumably that’ll be under the shitty deal that he helped broker and that at least the BRS has already explicitly rejected. Interestingly, the BMWE voted down a proposal to extend their cooling off period, and then days later re-voted (“vote til you get it right!”) and decided to extend it.”

News of the Wired

So, the unique selling proposition of Mastodon is tone policing?

Yes, I know Mastodon is federated, but this “good vibes” thing seems to be cultural, across servers. We don’t need no steenkin’ vibes!

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CK writes: “From a long ago stroll near the Pyrenees.”

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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. Sailor Bud

      Nice to see someone using ‘A.D.’ instead of the truly absurd ‘BCE/CE’ thing.

      There’s a good example of PMC idiocy. They not only added a syllable to B.C., thus wasting our time, but they also chose two new sets of initials that sound too alike. The old method uses the first four letters of the alphabet, nice and separable in sound. Further, we could have kept B.C. and A.D., simply by changing their meanings. ‘Before’ and ‘After’ are already baked into the two, so all these smarty pants had to do was think of a ‘C’ word and a ‘D’ word. Whatever; the change does not erase all the instances of B.C. and A.D. from billions of old books.

      We should change the names of musical notes, on the other hand. With only thirty-five of them total, it is awful that only seven are single-syllable note names (ABCDEFG). Every time we say ‘sharp’ or ‘flat,’ we double the syllables it takes to say or sing a note, thus wasting our time in a time-based art. Double sharps and flats? Quadruple (Fx= “Eff-dub-el-sharp”). The admittedly mostly useless theoretical key of Cx major, which is all double sharps, takes 32 syllables to say eight notes (including the octave), which could be done in eight if we changed it. There is only so much time. Why waste so much of it?

      (Gets off of soap box)

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        The problem with the traditional designation of eras is that a very large part of the world doesn’t organize its conception of time around the birth of Jesus. You can quarrel with the choice of substitute, but it was time for old BC/AD to go.

        1. Sailor Bud

          Totally fine with the change, and aside from the Jesus stuff it was also bad because it mixed English and Latin, but they changed it in a stupid way, and the result was people correcting each other academically in true modern neopedantic style, which also sucks. ‘Before Current’ works fine without need of ‘Era’ added. I will never use BCE or CE, no matter who tries to ‘correct’ me on a thing that I see so frequently in my reading of old books (Gutenberg abuser)

        2. Roland

          But you don’t have a problem with the dates that are based on gods other than Jesus?

          I’m talking about Janus, Mars, Thor, Freya, etc. that English speakers use for their months and days.

          Use of a conventional dating system has nothing to do with one’s beliefs. Indeed most languages are full of old customs. An atheist in France can still say “merci,” even if they don’t believe in gods or souls. They can also routinely address you as “monsieur,” without the least implication of servility on their part.

          The “common era” is common because empires whose rulers professed Christianity left a deep mark on the world, just as other empires once left theirs.

          Could anything be more absurd than someone who uses “CE” because they don’t like the religious connation of AD, but who still pays homage every year to the deified warlords of the Roman Empire, Augustus and Julius? Quibble about Christ, but endorse arch-rapists?

          Whatever you do, though, don’t try to change it. From Thermidor to Year Zero, the record of radical calendar change is bad enough to fill one with a superstitious dread.

      2. Bob White

        A little nitpick here… A.D. is not After Death as many think.
        It is Latin “Anno Domini”, which translates to “the Year of Our Lord”, there is no “After” in it.

        (I have a much smaller soap box…)

        1. Sailor Bud

          I’ve never heard of “After Death” in my life. My suggestion of “After” was entirely hypothetical.

  1. fresno dan

    “Calcified Politics Gives Us Another Close Election” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “But, as we have written extensively over the last two years, other fundamentals matter in our politics; fundamental structural realities make ‘landslide’ elections harder and harder to come by…. Events and the responses to them from politicians no longer have the ability to deeply and fundamentally reshape our politics or political coalitions. With fewer people willing to ‘defect’, even when they are unhappy with the status quo, you get more close elections and fewer ‘wave’ elections.
    I would ask Amy Walter, if you don’t like what Biden is doing, who are you gonna vote for that is gonna do something different? like, repubs are gonna stop increasing inequality? repubs are gonna stop Ukraine (I would hope, but most are right behind the anti Russia and neocon view)?

  2. Lee

    “I go back to Trump speaking for over fifteen minutes in a driving rainstorm. Show me another candidate who would do that for their voters. Trump’s flaws are of gigantic scale. Yet he remains of a different scale than the rest of the field. Certainly the Republican field. He’s simply a bigger man.”

    You seem to have been powerfully affected by that spectacle. Given how I generally regard him and much to my own surprise, so was I.

    1. John

      It does send a message, but I cannot figure out what it is. Speaking only for myself, I cannot think of one person, living or dead, for whom I would have stood for 15-minutes, or 5-minutes for that matter, in a driving rainstorm to hear a stump speech.

    2. Verifyfirst

      Peak narcissism. They both so adore themselves it doesn’t occur to them to stop. Too bad neither suffered the (purported) fate of another President who spoke in the rain for a long time, William Henry Harrison, who is said to have died of pneumonia within a month

    1. Kuetismayfield

      “I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of gum”

      It’s a perfect story of class warfare and how the upper classes get rid of ANY resistance, either by buying or eliminating then.

      1. paul

        Frank: The whole deal is like some kind of crazy game. They put you at the starting line. And the name of the game is make it through life. Only, everyone’s out for themselves and looking to do you in at the same time. OK, man here we are. You do what you can, but remember, I’m going to do my best to blow your ass away. So how are you going to make it?

        – Nada: I deliver a hard day’s work for my money I just want the chance. It’ll come. I believe in America. I follow the rules. Everybody’s got their own hard times these days.”

        Frank: How long have they been there?
        Nada: Who knows.
        Frank: What are they? Where do they come from?
        Nada: Well, they ain’t from Cleveland.

  3. Raymond Sim

    I thought I was the only one who hated the concept of a “battle” against, say, cancer.

    Always against something chronic or degenerative. No valiant thirty second struggles against blunt force trauma.

  4. Lee

    “• ”How Did We Get Here?” [Britta Love, Sex, Drugs, and Covid]. The deck: “Consenting to a Mass Disabling Event.” “In this moment we have, somehow, collectively decided that it is OK that our most vulnerable members of society – the elderly, immunocompromised, the chronically ill and disabled, are being systematically excluded from participating in society outside of the home, indefinitely…”

    Yup. That would be me. But at least I have you all here to keep my beady little brain from going bonkers.

    Thank you one and all.

    1. Objective Ace

      What I dont like about this framing is that not every one has the option to be “excluded from participating in society”. Those who do are at least fortunate in this regard. I need to work. I cannot home school my children. And there are elderly, immunocompromised, the chronically ill and disabled who also fall into this bucket too.

      I think it would be wonderful if systems were setup so less people need to participate in society in person, There should be major pushes to work from home where available. Maybe some nationwide home school and or other assorted socialization programs. Instead, the opposite is happening since someone declared the pandemic is over

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Forgive the brutal Devil’s Advocate position, but…

        How does a society function if people need to be out of society? Is every life so valuable that we lose as a species with every individual lost?

        At the very least, doesn’t a “society” need to abandon those who can’t function in “society”?

        Not a pleasant thought…but at least it lays bare the value distinction between every life matters and survival of the species.

        And yes, I’m expecting (maybe hoping?) To get roasted on this?

        1. ambrit

          I’m not in a “roasting” frame of mind. This question has to be debated and a “social contract” re-negotiated every once in a while, for the benefit, both material and intellectual, of the “Body Politic.”
          The main ‘defect’ I can find in your argument is that no one who has any “interaction,” of any kind, with another, or the results of the actions of another, can be considered ‘separate.’
          John Donne said it in the most memorable manner: “No man is an island…”
          Read: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/no-man-is-an-island/
          The management of a “society” is the defining quality of that “society.”
          We can be either savages, with the abandonment of our weak to the “Laws of Nature,” or civilized beings and honour each and every member of the ‘tribe,’ no matter their strengths and defects, for, make no mistake about it, we all partake of both qualities.
          It in an insidious trap, is expediency. Once a society adopts expediency as it’s guiding principle, it is henceforth relegated to a quick and dusty end. The outward form may survive for some time, but the living in it will be brutish and unworthy of the name Civilization.
          Stay safe.

    2. BrianH

      I’m realizing the term “vulnerable members of society “ is expanding considerably to include me and my family. I think it is absurd for my kids’ public schools to be mask “optional “ and I truly fear for my family because we are being forced to take on this unwanted risk. We can’t assess our own risk, it’s forced upon us. We do not have any other viable option to educate our kids. So by being forced to take on this unnecessary risk, we are being transformed, along with many families like ours, into “vulnerable members of society “. Of course, with our group rapidly expanding, maybe I should take heart that there is strength in numbers. As long as we all survive fully intact.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Norm Mcdonald video is a stitch. “Hey, take my grandson.”

    The “battle” is part of the militarization of the endless melodrama of U.S. life. Think of it as “thank you for your service,” but with chemotherapy plugged into your arm as you hitch your camo cargo pants in your hospital bed, errrr, battleground.

    The use of “cancer journey” is so bad that it is hardly worth a mention. But I will mention it anyway, being your Reality Czar. Journey? Taking one’s excessively reproducing tumorous cells on a road trip? Can you buy something that’s metastasizing a waffle cone during your stop at the Dairy Queen as you ride the Lincoln Highway toward paperwork and medical bankruptcy?

    And don’t even get me going on “passed.” Passed what? Sixth grade?

    He passed.

    On the cancer journey to purgatory?

    There is a patron saint of cancer, though: Saint Peregrine.

    According to the Shrine of Saint Jude, patron of hopeless causes and (undoubtedly) of Blue Cross Blue Shield: “At the age of 60, Peregrine was suffering from cancer of the leg, and his doctor decided to amputate. The night before the operation, Peregrine prayed before an image of the crucifixion. The following day, the doctor arrived to perform the amputation and found no signs of cancer! Peregrine was miraculously cured!”

    And Peregrine, wondrously, didn’t use up all of his deductible. Ora pro nobis, amen.

    1. Cetra Ess

      The irritating thing is Norm McDonald died of cancer, in fact probably knew he had cancer as he was doing that standup, and after he died EVERY news article about it said “lost his battle with cancer”.

  6. Screwball

    Funny a 7.7% CPI print is worth 1000 DOW points (as I type this). I know, it beat expectations. The Casino is sure fun to watch.

    1. Mikel

      That’s called climbing a wall of worry.
      Never let ’em see ya sweat.
      Don’t look at all the big money f ups going on and…hold these bags, please.

      (Maybe some raising of funds for margin calls on the way, too…) Who knows?

  7. Alfalfa

    Canadian but not British Columbian here. In Ontario, our Chief Medical Officer is Dr Kieran Moore. Some months ago he made some noise about possibly bringing back mask mandates if COVID/the flu got bad enough to cause major problems in the hospitals. Since then:
    – Multiple emergency rooms around the province have had to temporarily close due to understaffing
    – Hospitals are more crowded than at any point in 2020 or 2021
    – Pediatric hospitals are transferring their teen patient to adult ICUs due to lack of capacity
    – There’s a positive epidemic of RSV among kids
    – Average ER wait times have exceeded 24 hours in several hospitals
    And yet no action from the top doc. The provincial doctor’s association had a press conference yesterday urging the province to bring masking back in, to which our premier responded that folks should wear masks “when they’re able to”. Meanwhile, Waterloo University yesterday became (to my knowledge) the first institution to reintroduce mask mandates since places started dropping them back in the spring – hopefully a sign of things to come.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i got my flu shot today, finally….from the school nurse(friend of wife) out in front of the elementary. as is usual in our interactions, we talked about her disease surveillance.
      more covid than flu so far…several cases of the former(between 200-300 kids in school)…and lots of rsv among the little ‘uns.
      more than she’s ever seen.
      for further anecdata, we turn to that ancient analog scanner over there:a raft of people my age(50’s) with heart attack and stroke and other things usually associated with much older.
      couple of heart attacks in folks in their 40’s.
      i’ve had this scanner on for 20 years, with a speaker outside, too…and this is unusual.
      on another note, took MIL to kidney guy in kerrville…nobody but me wearing a mask…says prominently on front door that they’re optional.
      separate flyer on door, in pink writing no less, making it hard to read, went on and on with a caveat…that sure, masks are optional and all, and the cdc said some things, but it would be really really cool if you’d wear a mask…you know, if it’s not too much trouble, and all…especially if you have experienced (lists symptoms).
      i’ve encouraged my youngest(junior in high school) to consider wearing a mask at school again…at least in close quarters.
      but he says, “i’d be the only one in the whole school…”
      stigma matters to people his age.
      so i rely on our big, drafty house, and his and my rooms being at opposite ends, and me generally laying in bed by the time he gets home.
      the Britta Love thing was a good read….and she sums up how i think about all this: eugenics.
      culling the herd.
      and my mind drifts to what it took to get rid of a spidermite infestation in my little greenhouse.analogous, i think.
      i likely got either covid or rsv a month or two ago, when retrieving MIL from that hospital in austin…acute cough and sinus and snot galore for a week…then lingering cough and snot for 2 more weeks, with a general tiredness and malaise that is more than my arthritis and fibro can account for.
      loaded up on the vitamin cocktail.
      interestingly, that hospital was rather strident about wearing masks in public areas…but in the rooms, the nurses, etc took them off.
      (i didn’t)
      we’re screwed, i suppose.

    2. eg

      What’s happening here in Ontario is a slow-motion train wreck. Ford and Co will, once again, wait until it’s too late to prevent yet another disaster and then play all “huccudanode?”

      It’s beyond infuriating.

      1. Sub-Boreal

        Oh yes, somehow she found time to publish a book in early 2021, co-authored (ghost-written?) by her sister, Lynn Henry: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/672036/be-kind-be-calm-be-safe-by-dr-bonnie-henry-and-lynn-henry/9780735241855

        Vancouver investigative journalist, Bob Mackin, who always has the receipts, did a little digging into this side-gig (Feb 10 2022):

        Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is refusing to explain how Dr. Bonnie Henry was allowed to co-author a book about her work as the Provincial Health Officer during the pandemic’s first wave. The title, “Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe: Four Weeks That Shaped a Pandemic,” was published in March 2021.

        A copy of Henry’s Provincial Health Officer (PHO) contract, obtained under the freedom of information law, includes clauses about confidentiality, conflict of interest and intellectual property belonging to the province. The contract sets the terms of her secondment to the Ministry of Health, where she became PHO by NDP cabinet order in early 2018. PHSA communications officer Andrea Visscher referred questions to the Health Ministry’s communications office, which did not respond by deadline.

        Publisher Allen Lane, a Penguin Random House Canada subsidiary, said in late 2020 that Henry would donate her advance payment to First Book Canada, a charity that distributes books to underprivileged children. The dollar amount was not disclosed and Henry refused to release her contract after an FOI request.

        She claimed to have written the book as a private citizen, but she promoted the book with national media interviews during office time and with the help of a public relations contractor paid via the Ministry of Health.

        Henry’s contract is capped at $384,316 a year. For the year ended March 31, 2021, the PHSA sunshine list shows Henry received $342,292 plus $9,758 expenses.

        I confess that I got sucked in by the DBH cult initially. It probably reached its peak when she was the subject of a puffpiece in the NYT in mid-2020: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/world/canada/bonnie-henry-british-columbia-coronavirus.html

        1. Sub-Boreal

          So far, the book hasn’t appeared in the remainder bin at my local bookstore, but perhaps the publisher has quietly taken back the unsold copies, since DBH’s victory lap is now looking a mite premature.

          Also in the premature victory lap dept., she does have form from a previous viral emergency. During the 2003 SARS episode, she was associate medical officer of health in Toronto, and was one of 4 officials who went off on international tours to spread the word about how the outbreak had been contained.

          Except it hadn’t, as described in a May 31 2003 Globe and Mail article, “SARS: how the quest for a quick victory led to costly error”, which begins:
          Just two weeks ago, Toronto health officials were so convinced they had beaten SARS into submission that they dismantled key elements of their containment team while lead members took off on international tours to describe how the city defeated the disease.
          [The full story, in which DBH is just a bit player, makes for pretty sobering reading, especially in view of more recent history. I had to access it via a library database, so I can’t provide a functioning link.]

  8. Thistlebreath

    The Mastodon’s warning tweak brings to mind Nurse Ratched from Ken Kesey’s novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” A lot of the time when I get told….”or else” I stick around to see what they have in mind. Yeah, my late faither grew up in Glesga’.

  9. FlyoverBoy

    “DuckDuckGo CEO: Search Engine Is Not Purging Independent Media.” No, he explains in the story that his search engine is just “downrating” outlets like RT (knocking them down lower on the list of search results).

    Everybody in the search business knows there’s a predictable, LARGE percentage of searchers who will never look past Page 1 of their search results, exactly like newspaper readers who won’t go to “Continued on page 6.” This is why so many businesses pay big money to firms just to tweak their webpages so they make it onto the first page of results when people search for key words in their industries. Downrating IS censorship, and he knows it.

    1. albrt

      DuckDuckGo has become unusable unless you are looking to buy common products.

      Several times in the past few weeks I searched for something obscure using carefully thought-out search terms. DuckDuckGo produced nothing relevant, no matter how many pages I scrolled through. Most of the results appeared to be personal instagram or tiktok crap.

      I switched to Google and got exactly what I was looking for as the first result each time. Hate to say it because I switched away from Google for good reasons, but their search at least sort of works and DuckDuckGo simply doesn’t.

      1. Jason Boxman

        There’s Neeva as well. Was going subscription but I guess no one will pay for search so it’s free now, account optional.

      2. LifelongLib

        I’ve seen videos that only show up on a Google search but not on DuckDuckGo with the same search terms. Is it possible there’s some content ownership issue? Maybe certain items are only displayed by certain browsers? Just speculating; I only have the sketchiest idea of how those things work.

  10. kareninca

    A close family friend in CT who is in his 90s died of covid last week (he was vaccinated with at least one booster). Now another close family friend in CT who is 84 has covid; he is vomiting and has a severe headache and other symptoms; he is vaccinated with at least one booster. I am worried about him but also about my mom, since she had it several months ago and could catch it again from helping him. Please be careful.

  11. Roger Blakely

    Today’s Osterholm Update is now up on YouTube. He says that BQ.1 does not seem to be generating a horrible surge. He points to the decreasing wave in France. He points to New York City as experiencing a surge of BQ.1, but he points out that a BQ.1 surge does not seem to be developing across the country. At the same time, he says, no one can be sure about what is going to happen over the next few months.

  12. Roger Blakely

    In today’s Los Angeles County Public Health media briefing it was announced that COVID-19 infection rates went from 68 per 100,000 residents to 85 per 100,000 residents over the past week. It was mentioned that mandatory indoor masking goes into effect at 100 per 100,000 residents. I guess that they are telling us that indoor masking could come back by December.

    BQ.1 is now at 17%.

  13. Wukchumni

    Only a couple of retail items defy inflationary increases as far as I can tell, TV sets only go down in price as the screen gets larger, and marijuana prices have plunged too. I bought a ground up ounce of 23% thc flower for $50 from a dispensary the other day. Used to be a $300 item around the turn of the century…

    Our first 55 inch HD TV cost $1,400, now you can buy them for $299.

    Imagine if this deflationary pressure held true with other things, such as new cars for $5k, new homes for $100k, etc.

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘John Carpenter’s 1988 cult Sci-fi film “They Live” is a remarkable metaphor
    In it, the protagonist, John Nada, discovers a pair of sunglasses that enable him to see the world as it truly is.
    He discovers that the ruling class are aliens…’

    No, it was worse. Near the end of the film our heroes found themselves at a secret swank do being hosted by the aliens for all the human collaborators who were making serious bank. Scattered through them they could see that some had already been replaced by aliens but most of the the people there were wealthy humans who had sold out the human race to the aliens.

  15. C.O.

    Also for the Bonnie Henry file… the BC provincial response is still vax, vax, vax, vax… the link below is to the primary response page at the province’s website. It has not been updated in nearly a month.


    I have not been able to find any more recent statements by Henry since the link I passed on from late October. The provincial premiers have been meeting with the feds to try to get more health care transfer money, BC and Alberta shouting loudest, although those are two of the provinces worst for privatizing health care.

  16. Jason Boxman

    ‘Economic Picture Ahead Is Dire,’ Elon Musk Tells Twitter Employees

    At the meeting on Thursday, Mr. Musk warned employees that Twitter did not have the necessary cash to survive, said seven people familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The social media company was running a negative cash flow of several billion dollars, Mr. Musk added, without specifying if that was an annual figure. He mentioned bankruptcy.

    And the board was gonna force through this deal via lawsuit when Musk wanted to back out. So Twitter is gonna burn to the ground as the result of this buyout saddled with debt. Who’s the winner in this? Did board members and key executives get to sell big on this and walk with bags of cash? Someone must be a big winner from this deal? At least financially, it doesn’t seem to be Musk, nor ordinary employees, nor probably users.

    So what was the endgame?

  17. Tommy S

    Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a whole book about this positive thinking stuff, and also essays on the ‘battle with cancer’ and the ‘heroes’ etc. I love Norm. I think maybe he read some of that…As she was dealing with breast cancer she looked into all the groups and wrote about the framing. Surprised NC people haven’t plugged her yet about this. Good stuff…

  18. curlydan

    I think a lot of people may have seen this pre-print, but now it’s out in Nature Medicine… Re-infection with Covid doubles the risk of death, triples the risk of hospitalization, and generally increases risk across a host of organs and systems.

    “We showed that compared to people with no reinfection, people who had reinfection exhibited increased risks of all-cause mortality, hospitalization and several prespecified outcomes. The risks were evident in those who were unvaccinated and had one vaccination or two or more vaccinations before reinfection…. risks were lowest in people with one infection, increased in people with two infections and were highest in people with three or more infections”


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