2:00PM Water Cooler 11/9/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

European Turtle-Dove, Kelling Heath, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom.

* * *


“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

“Staff changes are coming to the White House. Will Klain be part of them?” [Politico]. “According to people familiar with the internal deliberations, Klain was the foremost advocate for Biden seizing on the July 4 holiday to hold an ‘Independence from Covid-19’ event on the South Lawn. He rejected input from other members of the Covid team who were anxious about declaring victory prematurely, although Biden did include a qualifier, that his words were “not to say the battle against COVID-19 is over.'” • Ron, good job. And electorally, it was a good job, as the midterms show. As I keep saying, the most important of the “lesssons learned” from Covid is that our ruling class can slaughter a million citizens without any riots. That’s an important lesson, and Ron was very much a part of that.


* * *

Democracy was on the ballot, and won. From the head of the Council on Foreign Relations:

Allow me to translate: Now the Democrats can return to fomenting war with nuclear powers, normalizing pandemics, and union-busting. Friends, there’s good news tonight!

“Senator Big Sweaty Lunk” [Atrios, Eschaton]. “I realized I didn’t even have any predictions for yesterday. I don’t mean I failed to BLOG them, I mean I just didn’t have any in my head at all.” • So I wasn’t the only one. For those who came in late, Atrios was my blogfather, and introduced me to blogging in 2003 or so (for which I will be forever grateful). The topic: Democratic politics! So it’s a curious data point for some future historian that, after so many years — 2022 – 2003 = 19 (!!) — we both ended up in the same place, on the same election, and on the same day.

* * *

Here is the state of play from FiveThirtyEight:

“Battle for Senate control a toss-up with four seats left to be called” [CBS]. “CBS News characterizes the races in Georgia and Nevada as toss-ups, with Georgia likely headed for a run-off in December between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker. CBS News characterizes Arizona as leaning Democrat. Alaska, where three candidates are on the ballot, had not yet been called early Wednesday.”

“House Midterm Elections 2022” [NBC]. “Though NBC News cannot project control of the House at this time, the Decision Desk has released its estimate for the U.S. House of Representatives as a whole, which reflects the most probable outcome for partisan control. To arrive at the House Estimate, the NBC News Decision Desk calculates the probability of a Democratic, Republican or third-party victory in each of the 435 individual House races based on pre-election research. On election night, election analysts examine all the available vote data in real time, adjusting the probabilities for each House race accordingly. Based on those probabilities, NBC News’ Decision Desk then calculates the most probable outcome for control of the chamber and provides a margin of error plus or minus the number of seats that could still be won by either party. The Decision Desk will project partisan control of the U.S. House based on this estimate when we are at a minimum of 99.5% confident in the outcome.” • The projection is R: 222, D: 213, FWIW. (What I wanted was a simple list of undecided House races, but a quick search didn’t bring it to light. Readers?

* * *

“MAGA Candidates Flounder in Midterms” [National Review]. “President Trump’s handpicked and endorsed candidates largely underperformed or outright lost their midterm contests on Tuesday, deflating the former president’s status as a party kingmaker and likely 2024 GOP presidential nominee. Trump’s influence was felt across the board: his hand-picked Senate candidates, political novices who secured their respective nominations largely on the strength of his endorsement, drastically underperformed expectations. House Republican challengers and incumbents who embraced his election denialism — and gubernatorial candidates who did the same — faced similar struggles…. [H]is poor showing in crucial battleground states has unsettled many Republicans. Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s strong performance will position him well to challenge Trump if he decides to enter the race.” • Sad to see the National Review clambering onto the bandwagon of a short-torso-ed vulgarian like DeSantis.

“Democrats’ Elevation Of Election Deniers Worked” [HuffPo]. “All six of the election-denying candidates on the ballot whom Democrats boosted ― three gubernatorial candidates, two House candidates and a Senate candidate ― lost, most of them resoundingly. The strategy was met with scorn and incredulity from ‘never Trump’ Republicans. Other Democrats from across the party’s ideological spectrum said the strategy was unwise, immoral or both. Thirty-five former Democratic elected officials signed a letter suggesting the party was playing with fire.” • Well, it worked this time, so I assume we’ll see more of it.

* * *

“Key takeaways: Democrats avoid Biden backlash and hold their own in 2022 races” [NBC]. “With Trump out of office for two years, one of the big questions of the 2022 cycle is whether the well-educated suburbs that abandoned the GOP and voted for Democratic candidates in recent cycles would stick with Democrats or flip back. They appear to be staying put. Whether it’s the booming Atlanta metropolitan area, the Philadelphia suburbs, the D.C. suburbs or northern Virginia, the red-to-blue trends are persisting, with college-educated voters exhibiting little desire to return to the Republican tent.”

“‘No Republican blowout’: our panel reacts to the initial US midterm results” [Guardian]. “It is now overly clear to everyone that Trump is both a necessity in the primaries and a liability in the elections. Everyone but Donald Trump, that is.”

“Biden Sidesteps Red Wave, Surpasses Obama’s Midterm Performance” [RealClearPolitics]. “Barack Obama saw his party lose 63 House seats and six Senate seats in 2010. Former President Clinton in 1994 lost 54 in the House and eight in the Senate. Biden has avoided anything close to either fate. The president did it, in part, by staying out of the way.”

“Measures to Protect Abortion Rights Triumph on Tuesday” [Bolts]. “Voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont on Tuesday adopted constitutional amendments that enshrine abortion rights into their state constitutions. The referendums came in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, which in June overturned federal protections for abortion.” • Federalism!

* * *

GA: “Abrams concedes to Kemp in Georgia governor’s race” [Axios]. “Abrams became a national political figure during the 2018 race and that attention helped accelerate her powerhouse fundraising capabilities.” • Money thrown up in the air and set on fire. Because that’s what “rising stars” do….

ME: “Janet Mills beats Paul LePage for 2nd term as Maine’s governor” [Bangor Daily News]. “Mills had 53.6 percent of votes to LePage’s 44.3 percent… It was the first time LePage has ever lost an election going back to his days on the Waterville City Council. He issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying he accepted the results. At his election night party in Lewiston around 10:50 p.m., he said ‘the election doesn’t look very well’ and then gave a defiant speech hammering Mills. He addressed her by saying he hoped her second term was better than her first and called her ‘an elitist’ and said ‘America needs better than people who are not caring for the people they govern.’ ‘We missed the message,’ LePage lamented. ‘It’s about abortion, not about heating oil.'” • Hmmm.

NY: “House Democrats’ campaign chief concedes to Lawler in stunning loss” [The Hill]. “Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), the head of House Democrats’ campaign arm, conceded his race on Wednesday against state Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R), a major blow to the party and a stunning defeat for the man charged with propelling other House Democrats to victory.” • Maloney is the dude who muscled another Democrat out of his own district after a reapportionment, so it would be hilarious if the Democrats lost the House by this one vote.

PA: I’m hoisting this comment from last night’s open thread, frankly to preen a little:

PA called for Fetterman:

I don’t expect anything from Fetterman on policy, but I think his race was very interesting from a technical perspective for two reasons:

1) Use of social media. You can’t call a social media campaign brilliant until the candidate wins, but Fetterman did, so now I will. (a) Fetterman used social media to introduce Oz to Pennsylvania, in essence arguing/showing/meming that Oz was really from New Jersey. This campaign was so infectious I had to stop myself from piling on. It also had the great merit of being true. Tweets and memes are something the national press can focus on, and that is what they did, with the effect that (b) when Fetterman had his stroke, his social media became a bright shiny bauble for the press to focus on, which is exactly what they did. Whoever ran Fetterman’s social media campaign will have many opportunities henceforth.

More importantly, (2) Fetterman’s “every county” strategy was important and non-stupid/non-corrupt Democrats, if any, will emulate it. (a) Fetterman’s strategy was to pick up Republican voters at the margin in Red counties (of which there are many, many in Philadelphia). So he visited them. This strategy worked. When Fetterman had his stroke, he was, as it were, pre-insulated[1] from whatever the national press and the Oz campaign might say. People had seen him, and felt they knew him. There are plenty of people in Pennsylvania, still by custom and practice an industrial state, who have had medical issues and worked through them and come back from them. I believe that was in play here. (This theory also makes the late visits by parachuted in Democrat celebrities irrelevant, which recommends it in my eyes.)

Fetterman’s “every county” strategy reminds me of Howard Dean’s “50 state” strategy, also successful. (It’s worth noting that as soon as Obama and Rahm Emmanuel took power, they abolished the strategy and defenestrated Dean (with the result, IMNSHO, that Dean threw in the towel, said “[family blog] it, I’m in it for the money” and tragically became the corrupt hack he is today. This happens a lot with Democrats. It will therefore be interesting to see if the “every county” strategy is erased, or highlighted, in the coming days.

Here’s one metric of success for the “every county” strategy:

(Note also that Democrat facehuggers strategists and consultants get commissions from media buys. Both Fetterman’s use of social media and the “every county” strategy take money out of their pockets. It will be interesting to see which media figures operate on their behalf in the coverage.)

In addition, Fetterman’s victory comes as the expense of the Pennsylvania Democrat establishment and the ghouls in the national press, an outcome that makes me very happy.

If Fetterman’s “every county” strategy is adopted by more Democrats — heck, more Republicans — I think that would greatly improve politics in this country. Do as Chris Arnade would do; walk around. Get out of the bubble. (Here I am thinking of the World War I British staff officer who went to the front, and broke down in tears when he actually saw the mud that he and his fellow officers had sent the troops out into, back in the Chateau.)

So I’m happy. (Readers will recall that in this comment I’m basically recapitulating everything I’ve said about the technical characteristics of the Fetterman campaign for the last year. That makes me happy too.)

Also, Dr. Oz is a puppy-killing charlatan. From New Jersey.

NOTE I should also mention that Fetterman in essence embedded himself in Braddock. I’n not sure that’s possible for most candidates (and here we mention Fetterman’s family money). I would also like to know more about the role of Fetterman’s wife, Gisele (with one “l”). She did a very creditable job as a campaign surrogate with no experience. (I also wonder, speculating wildly, if she had anything to do with the social media strategy, since nobody has come forward, as of this date, to take credit for it.)


[1] It’s also possible that our horrid “debate” format, which should be abolished and handed back to the League of Women, really tripped Fetterman up, and that his local appearances went better, and that the “every county” strategy primed voters to accept this:


“When Trump Announces Candidacy, Watchdog Will File Insurrection Disqualification Challenge” [HuffPo]. “‘The evidence that Trump engaged in insurrection is overwhelming,’ Noah Bookbinder, president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a statement last week. ‘We are ready, willing and able to take action to make sure the Constitution is upheld and Trump is prevented from holding office.’ Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, bars any officials who have taken an oath of office to defend the government from reelection if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the government — or have ‘given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.’ CREW sent a letter to Trump on Thursday alerting him to the planned challenge if he announces his candidacy for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. ‘CREW believes you are barred from holding office Under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment because you engaged in insurrection against the government you swore to defend,’ states the letter. ‘By summoning a violent mob to disrupt the transition of presidential power mandated by the Constitution after having sworn to defend the same, you made yourself ineligible to hold public office again.'”

“Five early takeaways from the midterms” [The Hill]. “No other Republican had anywhere close to as good a night as the Florida governor. His reelection to a second term was expected. But the margin was resounding — around 20 points over his Democratic opponent, former Rep. Charlie Crist. To put that in context, DeSantis won the governorship four years ago by less than a single point, and former President Trump carried the Sunshine State two years ago by about 3 points. The result is exactly what DeSantis’s boosters wanted in terms of proving his electability as the focus begins to shift to the 2024 presidential race. In that regard, he was also helped by the fact that Tuesday’s results added up to a mediocre outcome, at best, for Trump. Some of the other contours of DeSantis’s win were especially significant, not least that he carried the populous and heavily Hispanic Miami-Dade County. That’s one reason why DeSantis’s boast, in his victory speech, that he and his backers had ‘rewritten the political map’ wasn’t just hyperbole.” • 

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.

* * *

Republican Funhouse

Realignment and Legitimacy

“‘I wanted to wear a purple ball gown with a crimson silk cape” [Scalawag]. “I love the pomp and circumstance of voting even if the chorus of horns that accompanies my balloting is only in my head, and my poll site is a dingy concrete-block community hall…. As much as I know inherently that the electoral system leaves so many behind—the Black, the queer, the nontraditional family, the immigrant, the rural, those with records, the insurance-less, those of us in states that don’t “matter”—a lifetime of civic education indoctrinated me to believe the act of exercising this right is my highest function as a citizen. And I wanted to dress for it. I’m sentimental like that. I love the Black Southern culture of voting, showing up and showing out in your Sunday best. I love the older men crushing their hats in their hands when they cross the poll threshold, the women with tweedy suits and feathers in their feminine fedoras, my father dressing to vote before work with his newsboy hat, Members Only jacket and wide-leg slacks.”

“Survey finds increasing number of Protestants want their church to be politically homogenous” [Christian Post]. “According to a study released Tuesday by Lifeway Research, an organization that surveys ongoing trends in church ministries, 50% of non-Catholics surveyed in the U.S. prefer to attend a politically homogenous church, while 41% disagreed and 10% were uncertain. At least 55% of participants believe they are attending a church that shares their political views. Fewer than a quarter disagreed (23%) or aren’t sure (22%). Lifeway Research conducted the survey online from Sept. 19-29, using a national pre-recruited panel of over 1,000 Americans. The study’s margin of error was +/- 3.3%, with a 95% confidence level. ‘Studies have shown that voting patterns and political affiliation correlate with the type of church and amount of church involvement someone has,’ Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said in a statement. ‘But when asked if churchgoers want political similarity to flow back into their church relationships, this is desirable for only half of churchgoers.'”


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!

• Covid and culthood:


Not to mention funding and immediate access to media forums. A good long thread.

* * *

• ”Room-level ventilation in schools and universities” [Atmospheric Environment]. “The direct flow measurement techniques used by building managers and engineers to characterize ventilation rates in mechanically ventilated buildings cannot be applied to naturally ventilated spaces. Other approaches for characterizing ventilation may require technical expertise for execution or data interpretation, or specialized instrumentation, which reduces accessibility. As educators, administrators, and building managers plan for safe operations in the wake of COVID-19, there is a need for practical approaches for characterizing ventilation on the room level, as well as support for small-scale, short-term decision making, e.g., with respect to opening windows and doors and running fans, air conditioners, or supplemental air cleaning. Here, we describe efforts taken by this group of scientists and educators using different approaches to characterize ventilation in educational spaces in different U.S. locations in collaboration with facilities managers, administrators, and other decision makers. We discuss our findings, best practices, and lessons learned.” • Well worth a read, especially if you in the field.

• Maskstravaganza: Readers may wish to look into ReadiMask, “[T]he only full-face respirator that seals to your face using a hypoallergenic medical adhesive at the perimeter of the mask. Masks that apply with elastic straps or ties do not fit properly, allowing gaps around the edges of the mask where contaminants can enter, but ReadiMask’s medical adhesive creates a tight seal that enables the filter and eyeshield to provide substantial protection. The ReadiMask is pocket-sized, virtually weightless, and available with or without the eyeshield.” • There’s innovation in this field, and manufactured in America too.

• Maskstravaganza: When the American Public Health Association can’t be bothered to enforce its own policies:

No doubt masked speakers wouldn’t look good on television….

• Maskstravaganza:

* * *

• “The notion that COVID-19 has been vanquished is not supported by the facts” [David Berger, Sydney Morning Herald]. “The pleasing notion that COVID has now been vanquished, however, that it has been turned into ‘just another seasonal upper-respiratory virus’ by vaccination, ‘hybrid’ immunity from repeated infection and natural attenuation of the virus itself, is not supported by the facts. New variants continue to arrive, irrespective of season, and the world is now on its eighth. Actuarial analysis from around the world, including in Australia, shows an ongoing 10 to 15 per cent excess death rate, as compared with before the pandemic…. But deaths are not the only metric. High rates of long COVID, consisting of a smorgasbord of chronic conditions, are already being felt in terms of labour shortages and seem set to be accumulating both human and economic effects over time.”

• ”AHPRA’s made a serious mistake in trying to silence Dr David Berger” [AusDoc]. From July, still germane. “Dr David Berger has been told to pull his head in by the Medical Board of Australia who wants him to undergo a re-education course ‘in relation to behaving professionally and courteously to colleagues and other practitioners’. His offence, according to the board, was his passionate Tweets, sometimes containing the odd expletive, critiquing public health measures, dopey commentators and the politics of the pandemic.” • ZOMG mean tweets!

• ”Fallout continues from Ahpra “over-reach”” [Insight]. “What is at issue though is robust criticism of what Dr Berger and others might argue are fools making foolish policies. Is Ahpra saying there are no fools or foolish ideas in politics, big pharma or medicine, or just that if there are we must not say so? Why should doctors, and no-one else in the community, be forced to feign respect for mediocre or incompetent authorities or individuals? The law must to be applied equally to everyone; you should not single out one person who opposes government policy while apparently not acting on myriad others who are emotionally pejorative online, and who now threaten and follow through with anonymous reports to Ahpra when they do not like what a doctor says. Ahpra is, in my view, open to being used as a tool of anonymous bullies, while they say without irony they are trying to improve culture.” • Ahpra = Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

• And from Berger:

* * *

“Free sunscreen, ear plugs — and Covid shots? At the NASCAR race, vaccinations are still a tough sell” [STAT]. “It’s a modest dent in stagnating vaccination rates as public health officials attempt to rally fatigued Americans before an expected winter surge, but among a key group of vaccine holdouts: rural, largely conservative Americans. The NASCAR tents are also a flagship test of federal health officials’ now yearslong strategy to build Covid-19 vaccine confidence by enlisting people, from religious leaders to local organizers, in their trusted communities, to take on the challenge that has eluded public health officials for nearly two years now.” Really? How’s that been working out? Then again: “‘I believe in vaccinations,’ the nurse, who also declined to give her name because of her occupation, insisted. Just not these ones. ‘If you have to get vaccinated every four months, it doesn’t f—ing work.'” And: “NASCAR itself has resisted vaccine requirements for its drivers and swerved questions about its stance, though vaccinated drivers who are Covid-19-exposed can return to racing sooner than unvaccinated peers. But if racing officials and drivers were to speak publicly about vaccine safety, they could reach what NASCAR claims are 75 million fans worldwide.” • Or maybe — hear me out — if there were a “whole of government response”? On a layered strategy?

* * *


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 7:

1.0%. Decrease.


Wastewater data (CDC), November 5:

November 4:


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? [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:

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: 1,098,524 – 1,098,387 = 137 (137 * 365 = 50,005, 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.

• Turns out the Times is run by sentimentalists:

Of course, this was under the former guy. And as it turns out, the losses are indeed calculable; indeed the Biden administration calculated them, and the midterms show that their calculations were right.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “Facebook Parent Meta Announces Layoffs of 11,000 Staff” [Wall Street Journal]. • I should have sympathy for the workers, I suppose. But Meta is a literal force for evil. I wouldn’t feel bad for sailors who lost their jobs on slave- or opium ships…. Makes me a petty bourgeois idealist, I suppose!

The Bezzle: “Crypto chief braces for biggest one-day loss for a billionaire EVER: FTX CEO will see $16B fortune slashed to $1B – as Bitcoin and Ethereum plunge 10%” [Daily Mail]. “Crypto giant FTX’s CEO lost $16 billion of his personal fortune as his company faces a liquidity crunch and is bailed out by its rival. Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, who touted last year that his crypto company would be big enough to buy Goldman Sachs, will see his fortune drop to $1 billion after receiving a bailout from rival Changpeng Zhao’s Binance, Bloomberg reports. The 94 percent loss is the biggest one-day collapse ever among billionaires.” • That’s a damn shame.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 58 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 50 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 9 at 1:58 PM EST.

The Gallery

Cornell boxes are great!

And for the eclipse:

Class Warfare

“Railroad unions push back threatened strike date” [CNN]. “The threat of a freight railroad strike has been pushed back to early December, as four major unions have agreed to coordinate the date on which they could potentially go on strike. The third-largest railroad union, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employe Division, had been prepared to strike as soon as November 20, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. But the group announced Wednesday that is has agreed to extend negotiations with the railroads until at least December 4, the deadline set by another union, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. The rank and file members of both unions have rejected the tentative agreements reached with the railroads in September, mostly over the lack of sick pay in the contracts. A strike by any one rail union would lead to a shutdown of America’s major freight railroads, as all the other unions, even those that have ratified contracts, would honor the picket lines. That could cause severe economic problems, as 30% of America’s freight moves by rail, when measured by weight and distance traveled. The two largest rail unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation union, which represents conductors, are holding their own ratification votes, the results of which are due November 21. If one or both of those unions reject the deals, they would be prepared to strike December 9. If those contracts are voted down, the BMWED and Signalmen have agreed to further push back their strike deadline to that date. The BMWED and Signalmen are engaged in negotiations with railroad management seeking deals that union leaders believe their members would ratify. The unions hope the extension will prevent Congress from imposing a contract or order them to keep working into the new year, when Republicans might be in control of one or both houses of Congress.”

News of the Wired

“The text editor for poets” [Versepad]. • Or lyricists, of which we have several in the commentariat?

* * *

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 AM:

AM writes: “Pointy and sharp plant seen near the beach just outside Quilty, County Clare, Ireland.”

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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. tegnost

    My own post election analysis is pyrrhic victory.
    In no particular order; plague, war, inflation, inequality, student loans, homelessness, spyware, gig work, silly con valley, gas prices, destroyed european economy, privation, unaffordable healthcare, ineffective vaccines, increased rent, cuts to SS and medicare, the inevitable corporate bailouts…
    and no OMG TRUMP to blame it on.
    Personally I imagine some number of dem operatives, along with joe manchin of course, were hoping for a red wave…

    1. TBellT

      Pyrrhic victory, maybe but I’m gonna enjoy it. The apocalypse is more bearable when you don’t have to spend it next to people who despise you, your family and your friends.

      Hyper conservative commentators like Matt Walsh basically telling more of their rube audience to move to Florida so the rest of us don’t have to live alongside them. I’m smiling.

        1. nippersdad

          ….in a few days. There is another hurricane on the horizon that looks like it may cross the state and hit places that were just devastated a few weeks ago.

          I find it hard to believe anyone can afford the insurance on houses down there anymore.

  2. ChiGal

    in a way under the circumstances it’s almost the best we could have hoped for. denying Pelosi in my mind cannot be claimed as a vote of confidence or mandate for the Dems but at the same time if the Senate turns even bluer it should be a strong message to the Republicans that they have ventured onto thin ice with the abortion fiasco and election denial.

    maybe saner voices will prevail, not holding my breath however…

    1. Pat

      There was so little substance to the campaigns that I saw, but at the same time so many fighting for memes I honestly believe that the Dems are on probation and don’t know it.
      They may not be able to codify abortion but regardless of whose in the majority, they are in the position to deny any legislation that will tighten access further. On Social Security and Medicare, they will have to tell their donors to sit on it and twist and stop any actions that cut them in any manner. And my bet is that they better be seen trying to either get prices cut or provide monies to pay for increased fuel, housing and food costs.

      They will have some leeway if Trump runs, but if de Santis is the front runner in the spring they better watch their backs. Let me blunt, cold, hungry and angry people are not going to be about the battle for democracy. And propaganda may get them further than it should, but eventually real life necessities tends to shred the lies.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      Totally agree on GOP blowing a three foot put. While not happy that Dem’s cynical promotion of extremists in the primaries paid off, happy to see Trump candidates repudiated.

      Both parties are dysfunctional and the best we can hope for is stalemate. What a country!

      1. Amfortas the hippie


        nobody represents me.
        except me.
        which was the goal, after all.
        isolated individual, maximising their potential, or something.
        bowling alone was a strategic policy goal/gaol.
        balloon goes up, it will become acutely evident just whom needs to be hanging where

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          ie: start with the corner offices, especially on the upper floors.
          be nice to the cleaning ladies

        2. Swamp Yankee

          nice goal/gaol line, Amfortas. I often see “gaol” in my 18th century MA records I look through as an historian.

      2. chris

        Yeah… I’m disappointed we don’t get to see the Dims suffer a deserved loss for their stupidity. They will no doubt take to the Sunday shows to say that their approach of having no message besides “Trump – Still Bad!” and “Remember the Ala-Roe!” was an excellent decision.

        The Republicans that ran were so noxious and bad it really was incredible to see. All across the board too. From County Clerk to Senators these candidates were awful. Is this really the best we’ve got?

  3. Tom Stone

    I see that RF forces have abandoned Kherson City due to the difficulty of suppling both troops and civilians…
    So how are the UKE forces going to be supplied?
    Horse drawn carts?
    There are nowhere near enough Diesel locomotives ( Which are great targets) and a Diesel shortage as well, so where do the beans and bullets come from?

    1. nippersdad

      I read that too, but doesn’t it sound strange that Surovikin would build up entrenched defenses in the Kherson area only to leave them for an enemy to occupy? They could have booby trapped them all, but it sounds like a ruse to me.

        1. nippersdad

          I am envisioning this Maginot Line that comes with its’ own built in bunker busters. So, you send them all underground with your artillery and then let off the bunker busters from underneath them.

          I wouldn’t blame him for being suspicious of (Russian Orthodox) Greeks bearing gifts in Potemkins’ home town.

            1. nippersdad

              He has been making that case for a while; ever since Surovikin said that he was up to making some “hard choices”. There are good points to be made for a strategic retreat, but giving up a city that must then be retaken on the off chance that the dam is breached…? IIRC, it is very dangerous and takes a hell of a lot of people to take a city that has been properly invested.

              In a few weeks it is going to be fine skating weather all the way to Kiev, and having to retake that city is just going to slow them down. Surovikin would know this better than anyone. I don’t know, color me skeptical.

    2. RookieEMT

      It’s getting harder for me to believe the Russians can finish the war. Kherson is a large loss morale wise. Unless they begin a massive offensive next month, I’m thinking I seriously miscalculated this war.

      1. ambrit

        Once the ground freezes, the war could very possibly switch from positional “trench warfare” to sweeping “maneuver battle” long distance strikes by armour and armoured infantry. Use “blitzkrieg” tactics and bypass the big “hedgehogs” of the Ukie defended cities, cut their supply lines and starve them out. I wonder how big a mechanized contingent the Russian Army has in the Ukraine now.
        Also don’t forget Russia’s greatest traditional combat commander, General Winter. That cat degrades enemy units like nothing else.

    3. James O'Keefe

      Ukraine has been targeting the bridges that divide West and East Kherson. With the bridges damaged, Ukraine targeted Russia’s ferry crossing Russia. Looks like sustaining Russian forces in West Kherson became too difficult. If Russia’s withdrawal is orderly, then Russian soldiers will be able to disable their vehicles. If not, Ukraine gets more tanks with which to fight Russia’s invasion.

      Ukraine has supply issues with Russia targeting their trains and power supplies, but until they cross the Dnipro River, they don’t have Russia’s supply issues. Taking West Kherson puts Crimea more vulnerable to Ukrainian rockets as this article points out: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2022/11/09/biggest-defeat-for-russia-in-a-generation-as-starving-troops-flee-across-a-key-ukrainian-river/?sh=604d732734f7

      Here is a Twitter thread about the entrenchments that Russia is making on the Eastern side of Dnipro River: https://twitter.com/COUPSURE/status/1588924419002740736

      Looks like Russia is rebuilding trenches North of Crimea: https://twitter.com/COUPSURE/status/1590405107169914881

      Doesn’t look like Russia will be invading Odessa any time soon.

      1. Soredemos

        I’ll admit, my conviction on this is starting to crack.

        If this isn’t part of a Russian trap, I have to ask: how the f**k is Russia being forced to withdraw from reinforced, entrenched positions along a river against an enemy with no navy, no air force, and that is outnumbered 10:1 in artillery? An enemy supposedly stuck in the mud with no fuel or heavy weapons.

        If this isn’t a trap, then Russia really is a massively corrupt, staggeringly inept military, whatever the technical worth of some of its weapons (and if this isn’t a trap, then I say it’s time to go back and reexamine literally every Russia claim since this war started, or earlier, and take with a fistful of salt any claim it makes about anything, including how good its weapons are).

        1. tegnost

          Well since HMP isn’t here with ursula’s version…

          The power of the dark is ascending. The light retreats to security, so that the dark cannot encroach upon it. This retreat is a matter not of man’s will but of natural law. Therefore in this case withdrawal is proper; it is the correct way to behave in order not to exhaust one’s forces. In the calendar this hexagram is linked with the sixth month (July-August), in which the forces of winter are already showing their influence.

          THE JUDGMENT

          RETREAT. Success.
          In what is small, perseverance furthers.

          Conditions are such that the hostile forces favored by the time are advancing. In this case retreat is the right course, and it is not to be confused with flight. Flight means saving oneself under any circumstances, whereas retreat is a sign of strength. We must be careful not to miss the right moment while we are in full possession of power and position. Then we shall be able to interpret the signs of the time before it is too late and to prepare for provisional retreat instead of being drawn into a desperate life-and-death struggle. Thus we do not simple abandon the field to the opponent; we make it difficult for him to advance by showing perseverance in single acts of resistance. In this way we prepare, while retreating, for the counter-movement. Understanding the laws of a constructive retreat of this sort is not easy. The meaning that lies hidden in such a time is important.

          1. Soredemos

            I understand Russia not having the strength to defend everywhere. But them not fighting anywhere is pretty indefensible. Kherson was supposed to be the one location we could be confident they would fight to hold. Militarily they have every possible advantage, and political it should be something they simply can’t let go.

            If they’re letting it go I suspect they simply genuinely don’t have the strength, and have in fact been as badly mauled as Western spies have been claiming. If they withdraw it will be a massive political and PR as well as military defeat, because it’s impossible to spin as anything other than a massive loss. My saying I suspect they simply don’t have the manpower to hold it is part of that PR defeat: if they don’t fight it’s hard to avoid thinking it’s because they can’t.

            Also imagine being one of the people who voted to join Russia, only for Russia to abandon you within weeks. There’s more to war than just movements of troops on the battlefield. It may make military sense to keep falling back, but politically, and in some ways morally, it’s a disaster. People are being thrown to the wolves to be ‘filtered’.

            Join Russia and gain nothing, because Russia will withdraw from your town the next day. What a pathetic display.

            1. Greg

              In a small bright note, if they truly evacuated 115k people, perhaps they’ve thought about avoiding the “filtering” (obnoxious term) by the Ukrainian vanguard.

              Also, of course, Kherson city isn’t technically “lost” yet (and Kherson city isn’t all of Kherson). It’s a very confusing situation, we’ll have to wait a week or two and see what is what.

              Agreed that if Russia has truly pulled out and failed in Kherson, on top of Kharkov, that makes Russia look very weak and it will be devastating morally.

          2. Soredemos

            I’ll add that the translations from the Tao Te Ching are never very useful, and actually just kind of obnoxious. Pretentious, even.

            Also “Conditions are such that the hostile forces favored by the time are advancing”.

            Um, excuse me. How are the Ukrainians in any way favored? Supposedly, according to Russia, Ukraine has suffered massive, irreparable losses in trained men, has little heavy equipment, and no fuel. They’re, again supposedly, advancing against well prepared and manned Russian defense lines that have already seen off multiple Ukrainian assaults while inflicting crippling losses. And now we’re in the muddy season. They should be the least favored faction in this fight.

            If this isn’t a trap, and maybe it is, but if it isn’t, NATO has in fact literally nothing to fear from Russia, because it is a loathsomely pathetic excuse for an army.

      2. ambrit

        Has everyone forgotten how the Russians successfully pulled off an air assault of the Kiev airport early on in the war?
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Antonov_Airport
        True, it didn’t go according to plan, but what ever does? The Russians held the airport for a month before retiring.
        Russia still has airmobile and parachute troops available. The question is, how long will it take ground forces to reinforce those air mobile troopers. Also, Odessa is a port. Ever hear of a Marine amphibious assault? America did it in the Pacific in WW-2.
        My question is, will the Russians go all the way to Transnistria and link up with them?
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transnistria
        [Wikipedia is such a bunch of berks, it’s not funny. According to them, Transnistria is “under occupation by Russia.” Hah! Troops guarding a large Soviet Era ammunition depot? (Probably to keep the contents out of the hands of “various unsavoury characters” on the Black Market.)]
        It almost makes one pine for the halcyon days of the Bessarabia Crises.
        See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessarabia

  4. Pat

    Sean Patrick Murphy despite having no intention of actually running for AG entered the primary in 2018 as it became clear that Letitia James would have little upstate support against Zephyr Teachout. He was there strictly to split some of that vote from Teachout. (And I will always believe that the DCCC chair was his reward.)

    I know Teachout suspended her campaign and endorsed James when James changed course and decided to run for re-election this year. But I cannot but wonder how different the fallout from Cuomo’s ouster would have been if Teachout had been in office. Would he still have been facing only tenuous sexual harassment charges, or could we have seen some real justice for Cuomo’s deep seated corruption. I also don’t know that there could have been any legal actions for his callous actions that cost so many seniors In nursing homes their lives, but I also sincerely believe that Teachout would have sought one.

    That slimy toad having to concede does make me happy.

  5. herman_sampson

    Re: Fetterman: the only Democrat I intended to vote for yesterday was for township trustee, who was the only candidate that went door-to-door for the primary in May (which he won). I voted for Democrat state rep and two school board candidates. If there wasn’t a write-in option, I didn’t vote the office.

  6. Carolinian

    I’m glad you’re glad about Fetterman but aren’t you overselling his populism? From what I’ve read he had huge money behind him including the Israeli lobby. Not Tim Geithner had a comment this morning about how the current Dems are already a lot better at process–selling their candidates–than the current Repubs. But the Dems have had all three branches during Obama and it hasn’t done the rest of us much good. Surely the main thing going forward is not that Fetterman got himself elected but what, if anything, he’s going to do now.

    Sorry if that’s cynical. But given all the pressures to conform these days is there a dime’s worth of difference? Just asking.

    1. Carolinian

      Am Con’s take. And here’s what they have to say about PA

      Meanwhile, the antithesis of the Vance way of winning was on full display in Pennsylvania. Dr. Mehmet Oz managed to squeak by in the primaries thanks to the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. It was one of his more questionable endorsements from the beginning. The questions about Oz’s viability as a candidate only grew as Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman opened about a ten point lead on Oz. Certainly, Oz had great name recognition and the sizable media platform that comes with Oprah fame, but when that platform pushes a message that simply isn’t being well received by voters, it doesn’t prove much good.

      Was Oz too Oprah? The message of this article is that the culture war still works for the Repubs –as in Florida–if they choose to employ it. Will Newt Gingrich make a comeback instead of Trump?


  7. fresno dan

    “Senator Big Sweaty Lunk” [Atrios, Eschaton]. “I realized I didn’t even have any predictions for yesterday. I don’t mean I failed to BLOG them, I mean I just didn’t have any in my head at all.” • So I wasn’t the only one. For those who came in late, Atrios was my blogfather, and introduced me to blogging in 2003 or so (for which I will be forever grateful). The topic: Democratic politics! So it’s a curious data point for some future historian that, after so many years — 2022 – 2003 = 19 (!!) — we both ended up in the same place, on the same election, and on the same day.
    new boss, same as the old boss….

    When was the last national election that caused meaningful change (not ongoing evolution, i.e., crapification)? My nomination would be 64 and the civil rights laws, although I would be amenable to 72 and EPA.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > When was the last national election that caused meaningful change

      2008, in a bad way.

      2016, in an interesting way.

      Wrong turnings taken both times, but turnings there were…

        1. jsn

          I agree. What began with the prosecution of Harry Dexter White, or maybe earlier with subbing Truman for Wallace, ended that day in 63.

          It was the home grown fascist elite taking back what FDR had hijacked with the New Deal.

          They couldn’t yet undo its domestic infrastructure, but from then on they were in the position to prevent anyone resuscitating it. Clinton just pulled the plug on life support.

      1. fresno dan

        I think Obama, what with Patriot Act renewal, and pretty much bailing out the rich, was Bush II (or III?). I mean, health insurance “reform” was Romney’s plan. The only debate would be, was it better than nothing? But I don’t think it can be argued that it was significant…
        Trump, despite saying some provocative $hit, seems to me to be a standard repub…what with all the anti Russia neo con stuff he went along with (despite the dem propaganda). Tax cuts. Supreme court nominees…(you can’t argue that Barrett ended abortion – she couldn’t have done it without the others, the continuous same old same old lack of oppostion for DEDADES).

    2. fairleft

      ’92 was big change to a neocon foreign policy. Yugoslavia sure got hammered by the change.

      On domestic side, if Bush Sr., had won, Dems likely would’ve attacked and stymied him from the left. Maybe Glass-Steagal and welfare would’ve lasted awhile longer.

  8. marku52

    Looks like your “red ripple” stupidest-ever time line turned to be a pretty good guess.

    I bet a bunch of Repub operatives behind closed doors are furious with the Supremes “Couldn’t you sh&t-for-brains-idiots have waited til after the midterms?”

    And the Russians losing Kherson doesn’t seem to get the end of *that* war any closer…..

    1. Mark Gisleson

      jo6pac has some good links up above that suggest evacuating Kherson is not the same as losing it.

      Red Ripple did not satisfy my thirst for vengeance. Among the GOP pickups was the Iowa Attorney General’s office. Tom Miller was an incumbent when I was getting started in Iowa politics, sorry to see him go. I know that a state AG can’t get you out of jail, but I liked that I knew him just the same.

      Tom may have been the casualty of CIA embed Mike Franken whose listless campaign almost certainly did in Cindy Axne, leaving Iowa with an all-Red Congressional delegation. Betting that’s not mentioned by media helping to fabricate the “red ripple ain’t nuthin'” talking points. Iowa’s going to be the new Wisconsin and the Democrats did it to themselves.

  9. Pat

    I knew he was going to get elected. But I was truly hoping it wasn’t going to be a landslide. As of now Daniel Goldman has won the congrssional race for NY 10 by the highest percentage of any race in NY. Mark my words, this guy is going to be one of those out of nowhere snakes that the Democrats keep presenting us with.

    His Twitter account
    His campaign web page

    And he will be one of the wealthiest members of Congress. His background according to Wikipedia:

    Goldman was born in Washington, D.C., to Susan (née Sachs) and Richard W. Goldman. His father was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. who died when Goldman was a child.His paternal grandparents were Rhoda Haas Goldman and Richard Goldman;[6] his great-grandfather was Walter A. Haas, president of Levi Strauss & Co.; and his great-great-grandfather was Abraham Haas, the founder of the Smart & Final chain of food stores. He was raised in a Conservative Jewish family with his brother, Bill Goldman, who died at age 38 in a plane crash, and sister, Alice Reiter.[citation needed] He is an heir to the Levi Strauss & Co. fortune.
    Goldman attended Sidwell Friends School in Washington, where his mother previously served as chair of the board. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1998 and a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School in 2005.

    Just call me paranoid, but if he isn’t this year’s Pete Buttigieg he might be next year’s.

  10. nippersdad

    IIRC, it is usually the Democrats who have a hard time getting out the vote for run-offs of the sort that Walker and Warnock will be having in December. Humiliating enough that he was even within reach of that seat, but to get a Christmas present like Herschel in a couple of months will be devastating.

    I find that I am a lot less invested in outcomes with the new rule that one cannot vote for Nazi collaborators; it just makes the choices so much easier.

    1. Peter Pan

      But Creepy Uncle Joe will offer big $$$ to all if Warnock wins in the run-off. (It’s not a promise, it’s a ruse.)

    2. nippersmom

      In looking at the breakdown, I found it interesting that Warnock won 71% of the vote in Clarke County. Apparently, Walker’s “bulldog” credentials didn’t carry a lot of weight in Athens.

      1. Rodeo Clownfish

        The alumni are the ones who would have cared, if anyone, and they all graduated long ago and moved out of the town.

    1. Lou Anton

      Old-school right here…no map hovering, no pinch to zoom, just plain, simple text. I love it, thanks for sharing!

  11. JBird4049

    Every family I know with kids in school are like, “Robert has been sick 5 times & he missed 3 weeks of school. Bess quit track, she’s in a wheelchair with LongCovid. She missed 28 days. Pete had a 6-week flu & bleeding eyes, but I worry about learning loss. No, we don’t mask.”

    — Laura Miers (@LauraMiers) November 5, 2022

    I did not post an earlier hyperbolic comment, but what is happening here? Why keep sending your children to school if they become crippled, unable to learn or function? Have they all have a session with Miniluv and Room 101? 2+2=3? These sorts of actions show a real sickness of the mind.

    1. Yves Smith

      I was told in passing by an older couple on a plane (me in my Darth Vader mask, them unmasked) that their toddler grandkids had had Covid multiple times and were pretty sick some of those times. There’s a bizarre complacency. Or worse. “Oh, we won’t have them mask in school because we can’t expect kids to do something so hard [even though kids all over Asia are able to]. Oh, we can’t ask them to mask in school because it would be stigmatizing. Oh, we can’t insist they mask because they will hate us.”

      1. CanCyn

        “ Oh, we can’t insist they mask because they will hate us.” I believe this explains a lot about parenting in general these days. I am not a parent but it never ceases to amaze me how important it is for my friends with kids to be friends with their kids. Not get along but actually be friends. I remember my girlfriend crying because her teenage son told her he hated her. She was not consoled when I told her that teenagers are supposed to hate their parents. I said the same to my Mom when I was a teen. I loved my Mom and Dad and I miss them a lot but we were never friends and I don’t look at those kid/parent=friends relationships with any kind of envy. I just find it weird. And now we learn it is actually preferable to be friends with your kids rather than protect their health. It makes no sense.
        With regard to the actual point – the difficulties in masking… It isn’t just schools and kids….my still working friends report that those who mask in the office or at meetings are seen as odd. Definitely in the minority in most places. “It is time to move on” is the message, however subtle and unsaid that message may be. When the bigwigs aren’t masking you know they expect the same of you. I find most of friends to be ill-informed about the dangers of the virus and long COVID. They are on board with the ‘we have to live with it just like we live with the flu’ narrative.

        1. Tom Stone

          Those parents have shitty boundaries.
          Being a Parent means that YOU are the responsible party.
          “Because I am your Parent and I said so” is appropriate at times and one of them is when there is a question about the child’s safety.
          I’m lucky enough to like my Daughter as well as loving her, however there was never a question of who was the parent during her minority.

        2. JBird4049

          I get not wanting to make waves. I get wanting to keep your friends happy and the boss as well. I am a wimp myself. I understand. And your body is your body.

          However, I do not get letting anyone in your family, let alone your children, repeatedly get a disease knowing that it can kill and more likely cripple, perhaps for life, because of not wanting to make waves. “Sorry, Johnny, I think having your funeral or just frying your brain is better than annoying the neighbors.”

          Sorry, I just find this almost incomprehensible.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Basically I work with kids I real life, but the kids were perfectly fine with masks. Parents were the problem. The older I get the more I loathe adults.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Parents were also the ones over the years who didn’t want their kids to have any vaccinations at all because reasons. Before the pandemic hit, there were outbreaks of measles underway from such focal points as Disneyland which is as stupid as it sounds. Measles?

          1. Objective Ace

            I’m actually sympathetic to this one. The faith in government is so low they don’t trust anything. Seriously, what’s the difference between trusting the government that you no longer need to mask and that you should get a vaccine? These people don’t have the educational background to make the scientifically correct decision on either.

    2. chris

      Anecdata from my corner of DC/MD/VA…

      In our area, where my kids go to school, we are not seeing any COVID waves, repeat infections, etc. We are seeing kids with RSV. We are seeing kids with stomach bugs. Based on reports from the schools, this is not COVID. However, we still have people masking at schools (it’s optional), we still have people eating outside (unless it rains), we still have a functional upgraded HVAC system with no economizer functions enabled, and we still have 1-2 high volume HEPA filter units in each classroom (with 6 in the cafeteria). A large percentage of kids and almost all of our teachers are vaccinated. Booster uptake has been low. Two of my kids have never had a positive test or shown COVID symptoms.

      With my friends and colleagues… COVID and RSV are rampant. I am still wearing masks when indoors or in airports/planes. I am still using my immune spray and gargle. Also making sure my nose and eyes are properly moist to stop things. I have not had a COVID infection since 2020. My wife and oldest daughter had their first and only COVID infection in May 2022. Everyone seems healthy and happy but we’re still maintaining supplies for our COVID suite. Hoping we don’t need to use it again :/

  12. griffen

    FTX and crypto collateral is going even more nuts in the after hours reporting. Apparently now, the Binance CEO has chosen to not chase diminishing returns with his supposedly good money.

    Well it’s not a ponzi but the smoke sure does smell like a Ponzi scheme with billions going immediately into flames. Hey, look a matchstick king for the new rip roaring 2020s !

    1. Wukchumni

      Iznop a Ponzi?

      I guess the upside is there won’t be any crypto ‘winfluencers’ to finance dodgy politicians by the time the next election rolls around.

  13. Samuel Conner

    FWIW, I continue to find “retail” neighborly N95 distribution is surprisingly well-received in my neck of woods, a “red” county in a “blue” state.

    Today my un-masked fuel oil delivery driver tranquilly accepted a box of 3M 9210+ Auras with my request to “please share these with your co-workers at the office.” He agreed with my assessment that, CV-wise, “we may have a rugged Winter ahead.”

    I don’t see much mask-wearing in indoor spaces, but I haven’t gotten significant push-back when I offer N95s to people, even to strangers. Perhaps the typical person is uneasy about the CV, but is also uneasy about what other people will think of them if they mask up. It would be an odd situation if most people are not masking because of fear of what others will think of them if they do.

    1. Objective Ace

      Since people distrust the government so much.. maybe there is an advantage to the CDC et al telling people the pandemic is over and there’s no need to mask

    2. Carla

      “It would be an odd situation if most people are not masking because of fear of what others will think of them if they do.”

      Yes, well. It seems to me we’re in exactly that odd situation. We went to a symphony concert about 6 weeks ago — average age of attendees: about 80. Fortunately, the hall was not full. We were among the 10 percent or so who were masked. I whispered in amazement to my partner: “Look at all these old people with a death wish.” People are lemmings…

  14. Mikel


    News a couple of days old, but I was struck by the reporting. It’s the kind of criminal reporting people are used to. I picked it because this involves a high profile individual.
    The event:
    A trespass or break in where a perp finds his way to the bedroom, police are called (“The woman called police about a potential burglary, saying she found “a male she did not know asleep in her bed,”), according to police, the suspect’s identity and occupation immediately researched and released, mugshot, and even clips of the suspect in jail being booked (a little bit “extra” but still). No delving into the perps social media sites first and foremost – or at all.

  15. HotFlash

    For all you NCers who have not had enough Michael Hudson today, I found this just now: Michael Hudson: Why the US has a unique place in the history of imperialism?.

    The opening soundbite from the Prof is, “I went to work on Wall Street, and I found that all of the bank analysts had come out of a Marxist tradition. Unh, and that was because they were preferred by the banks because they knew that the, unh, economy was all about exploitation, but if you go to a business school, unh, and take an economics course, you learn that everybody gets just what they deserve, and there’s no exploitation at all, unh, and it doesn’t make you very practical in understanding how monopolies work and, unh, how the world actually functions.
    “The World Bank has always been an arm of the US military, and very often its president has been the former defense department head or a military head. The World Bank, upon its founding, has had one basic purpose: to make sure that other countries did not produce their own food.”

    The channel is India & Global Left on youtube, and the interview was uploaded 4-5 days ago. There is about another hour’s worth, and I now take my leave to watch the rest of it.


    1. digi_owl

      > The World Bank, upon its founding, has had one basic purpose: to make sure that other countries did not produce their own food.

      That is quite the claim. And one that has been itching at the back of my mind ever since the Venezuela spat kicked off, with it showing how dependent on basic imports it was to sustain the population.

      It also gives the buyer nations a massive political leverage, as it can basically crash the economy of the seller by refusing to buy. Because the seller is now faced with an ever more hungry population. But with no goods to sell, the balance of trade will make their currency go Weimar in short order.

      1. eg

        Hudson’s “The Destiny of Civilization” goes into considerable detail as to how the post-war institutions serve US hegemony over the global south, guaranteeing access to cheap raw materials for American corporations. Opposing land reform everywhere is part of the program keeping the 3rd World from ever achieving food independence.

  16. Fastball

    The trouble with everyone in both parties needing to get slapped down in a day of reckoning, is that nobody actually gets one.

  17. Alex Morfesis

    Orange man did bad is an interesting sidebar…except he supported klownkar kandidates and some did quite well…hillbilly fake yalee getz to walk in the Senate while Herschell “do I stand on the x behind the x or next to the x” Walker is in a runoff with an incumbent while the dumbokrats handed florida to guv 8th day…

    And speaking of handing Florida to guv Ronnie brasco (see his mom’s relatives for obscure reference)…how exactly does trump created candidate get sworn into congress when she used not a nickname but a totally fake made up name to win the seat Charlie crist walked away from…???

    She didn’t win with her real American name…she used a fake made up having nothing to do with anyone in her family past Hispanic name…she was elected as someone else…and she speaks zero spanish…unless “dos cervesas por favor” is considered enough spanish.

  18. Adam Eran

    About the “politically homogenous” churches:
    1. That request is powerful as a motivator. When the Presbyterians okayed the gays attending church, being minsters, etc. at least one local church left the national denomination and bought their building ($1.2 million, so no small purchase) so the icky gays would not be encouraged to attend.
    2. Meanwhile, there are “reconciling” churches (Methodists nearby) that do cater to the gays. Oddly, we just found out one of their pastors was making $130K/yr. Not exactly a vow of poverty.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The notion that COVID-19 has been vanquished is not supported by the facts”

    Maybe not by the facts but certainly by the politicians of both parties, the leading medical authorities, all the media, the entire business community including the tourism and ocean-liner sectors, etc. ‘It’s just the flu, mate.’ Of course there were external pressures at work here. The collective west would never, ever tolerate one of their own doing the zero-Covid gig like the Chinese are doing as that would tell the people of the other countries that in fact that there was an alternative and that western leaders are f****** things up. It did not escape my notice that we dumped our zero-Covid policy just after Scotty from Marketing returned from the G-7 meeting in Cornwall-


    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      She stood with Team Clinton trash and was stomped while Warnock hustled in a rough state. Her Trek cameo will age faster than the Musk references.

      I know it’s not “real Trek” like that Voyager trash.

  20. Wukchumni

    $4.01k afternoon update:

    There’s a highly perceptible FOBO* in the Bitcoin numismatrix as we go on a value finding expedition in the mid $15k range.

    The fact is I could’ve bought 3 Hershey milk chocolate bars containing tiny slivers of almonds with my buy-in money and now I can only afford 1, which is good because who really wants to eat sugary waxy looking mud?

    * Fear Of Bleeding Out

  21. none

    • Maskstravaganza: Readers may wish to look into ReadiMask, “[T]he only full-face respirator that seals to your face using a hypoallergenic medical adhesive at the perimeter of the mask

    I have some of these, they are actually made by Avery Dennison. They are $4 each on the linked page but are about $65 for a box of 50 on amazon and elsewhere. Straplessn95.com is an ok place to get them, also $65 for 50 ($2 each before 35% discount), or in two-mask sample packs . I got several of the sample packs.

    I’m not that crazy about them. For one thing it’s not so easy to take them off and put them on again. For another, they tend to slip if your face is sweaty. There is a review (not by me) at https://redd.it/payf7b .

    The professional way to fit-test n95 masks involves a bitter or mint spray in the air: you should not be able to taste it if the mask is fitted properly. HCW all go through this test as part of their mask training. https://ermsta.com/posts/20220201 has a low rent approach to this using saccharin powder and a cheap nebulizer. The nebulizers are $17 for a pack of four at Spamazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MSWKMG6 and I got 4 oz of saccharin powder on ebay for $8 shipped, https://www.ebay.com/itm/392604116616 If your mask is sealed enough to pass that test, it won’t leak around the edges.

    I think NC preaches masks a little too glibly sometimes though. It doesn’t recognize how much people hate them, and think they are about to suffocate (“I can’t breathe!!1!”) if they feel the slightest bit of breathing obstruction. I myself found that it took some conditioning to get used to wearing an N95. We can’t dismiss people who react badly as MAGA or crazy: anxiety is a real thing and we have to make allowances for it.

    I think we need affordable powered masks. Those have a battery powered blower pushing air through the filter, so you get filtered air with no breathing resistance whatsoever. I don’t have one myself but I spent a while looking at them online and want to get one for my mom sometime.

    1. Yves Smith

      I weight train in a well fitted N95. It can get moist inside and when I double masked before in a KN95 + surgical mask (not a good approach) it was often hard to breathe. Did not impact my training and various studies have found that even 6 surgical masks piled on top of each other do not impact blood ox levels.

      I take the reverse message from your claim. People have not been told masks might be uncomfortable, you may need to shop for a good N95 for your face, and even feeling like you are breathing hard does not mean you are oxygen deprived. Breathing hard might actually be a good exercise. Patients in hospitals are given a little device to get them to empty their lungs well to prevent getting pneumonia. Using that is harder than any extra effort breathing I have had to do when overmasked.

      Americans are soft and think everything should be easy. I am told mask rates are still high in Asia ex China. So basically Americans are willing to sacrifice health for comfort. You can see the same preferences in our waistlines.

      1. anonymous

        Hey Yves, I hope you can take the below in the spirit it is intended. I deeply admire the product you and Lambert have produced together over the years (Naked Capitalism) – nothing else on the Internet is quite like it – and I don’t hold any public figure to the requirement to be “perfect,” absolutely everyone has a blind spot somewhere. But after reading for several months, I admit, the way in which you focus on masks concerns me. Not as a policy decision, but for your own personal mental health.

        I know Naked Capitalism is based on arguing for the right thing to be done on a policy level, and damn the circumstances! I know that. But… if you were a relative or close friend of mine, I’d seriously consider staging an intervention. NOT to get you out of the mask – your face, your choice – but to help you personally make peace with the situation/time/society we all must live through right now, before you add injury to insult with the way you are choosing to view an unavoidable circumstance.

        Let’s get this out of the way first: I completely respect and support anyone’s choice to wear a mask of any type at any time in public or in private, if they deem it necessary for any reason. I think the examples where doctors at hospitals force people out of N95s into flimsier surgical masks are abominable, and frankly they should be sued for it. And the absolute disregard of public health being demonstrated publicly by the very agencies my tax dollars literally pay to handle public health, has been one of the most depressing aspects of this period in history for me personally.

        Also–I am not going to wade into the science on masking because it isn’t actually the point. The scientific method hasn’t been meaningfully referenced by our government or wider society for some time now. You’ve covered that well enough on NC.

        The point I want to make is, Americans are not culturally used to wearing masks. They had nearly 100% negative associations w/in the broader society before COVID (Halloween, bank robbers, hypochondriacs), it took one of the most intense propaganda campaigns I have ever lived through to get as high a masking rate as we did – even so, rates never once rose high enough nationally to prevent spread – and little more than run-of-the-mill data suppression to get mask wearing rates to ebb away.

        I too have spent many, many hours wishing that Americans could be different. Better educated, less addicted to screens (and prescription pills, and alcohol, and… wow the list could go on), and more than anything else – able and willing to step up and solve the problems of their own lives, instead of shoving them off onto “someone else” to fix. But this is my country, and these are my people. I–along with the majority of the population–don’t have any real option to leave it. Its weaknesses are something I have to live with, and take my fair share of responsibility for. Part of that–as painful as it is, and has been–is recognizing the limits of my control over other people. Due to other catastrophic missteps in political communication over the last few years, It is now politically impossible to get Americans to mask in sufficient levels to prevent the spread of COVID. Honestly… it might always have been impossible, even w/out the CDC being f*ckups. You are tilting at windmills you cannot possibly hit. And how banged-up and bruised are you going to get, before you realize this?

        Comment continued in Part 2.

        1. anonymous

          Part 2.

          I want to do a thought experiment if you will allow – a scenario in which we contemplate what it would actually take to get masking in this country, the one in which we live in right now, the people we live alongside right now, to put masks on at the population % which you openly advocate for.

          1) A COVID or Ebola (or etc.) variant so terrifying that literal bodies pile up in the streets, wide-spread and visible enough that no one on the Internet can deny it. Mask adoption will likely rise alongside the military-led quarantines, emergency dictatorships, mass movements fleeing all population centers (and getting shot for it), and mass starvation that will soon follow. But I don’t think we’ll be feeling (or being) much safer in this scenario.

          2) A social credit system akin to the one in China, where everyone who doesn’t wear a mask at all times and places required (verified by CCTV camera) no longer has the right to buy food etc. This seems to work in China, but we don’t have the infrastructure for it here. We’d have to completely eliminate cash, set up the cameras and make smartphone ownership mandatory for ALL at great government expense, and send out the military to patrol individual communities and make sure any black market exchanges are broken up. (We’d probably also have to provide national health insurance, but I digress.) The potential for systemic failures in this scenario are almost endless – i.e. who is to say that the military/police will even comply? Or that they won’t set up their own black markets? Or that they, being leading resistors to masking/vaccination requirements already, won’t actively rebel this time around? In all honesty, “social credit” only works when citizens police each other Soviet-style. Some American communities obviously can and will, but some communities will resist to the bitter end – and they tend to have a lot of guns. Making a gamble for this much government control over citizens’ lives, on a timescale which could have any effect on COVID whatsoever, will almost certainly lead to secession attempts, or even worse. I admit, I wish you and Lambert would consider these cultural and structural differences in our societies a bit more deeply before posting as much praise of the Chinese system as you currently do.

          3) A slow and steady campaign over multiple years and flu/COVID seasons utilizing consistent, patient communication by trustworthy figures and unambiguous scientific results, reproduced in the day-to-day lives of the people, that argues that more masking will lead to less sickness and better quality of life. First, even if conducted flawlessly, this campaign will probably not work until COVID is properly endemic, given the level of cultural resistance it will have to overcome. Second, it is in no way clear to the layperson that masking–at the level we managed as a culture, which was not enough to properly stop the disease anyway–actually led to better health at all. Today’s tweet about how sick families are was meant to punch down upon the “dumb ones” who aren’t masking, but that’s not how a large percentage of Americans are interpreting their situation – the blame the masks FOR the current wave of disease, in that in preventing some regular infections for multiple years, they left the kids’ immune system weak enough that run-of-the-mill infections can now knock them flat. Which is correct? Who knows?? The CDC has so much egg on its face it can hardly be trusted, and both ‘sides’ wave real-appearing statistics online as they campaign to their followers. It’s just a political fight now, and science is not invited.

          Frankly, at the level this has currently devolved to, the argument “masks are unpleasant to wear and I don’t like them” is a slam-dunk argument. I’m afraid it’s going to continue to win. And I don’t see any possible way to change that.

          I’m running into comment limits, but my point is, sometimes things are just f*cked up and nothing is going to change it. No government campaign, no CDC firings, no “epiphany” or whatever when 30%+ of Americans realize that everything they’ve advocated and believed in over their entire lives is wrong and they now have to choose communal values (and personal suffering) over independent ones. Maybe if China or Russia drops a nuke on San Francisco that could happen, but otherwise I think we’re out of luck – and it STILL wouldn’t lead to sufficient masking.

          Something more positive to say will follow in Part 3.

      2. anonymous

        Well, I am not sure if the moderators posted or deleted Parts 1 and 2, but I will post Part 3 as promised.

        The coverage on this site of the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes is the spotlight of hope in all this mess – something which most people can successfully DIY, out of fairly routine household objects, to measurably improve their indoor ventilation – and for more uses than COVID! It also has the benefit of NOT being all that public, which at this point unfortunately, is a plus. It means that people can put one together and put it up in a room without having to justify a worldview. No one has to have an argument on the Internet, or accuse anyone of being a hypochondriac, or go against families on the rampage to remove all memory of COVID from their lives (whether the disease is gone or not being a distant secondary concern). If it can be done quietly, under the radar of all the other screeching going about… it has a better chance of spreading and making a difference, given the circumstances the country is in at this time.

        Also, fingers crossed for an actual sterilizing nasal vaccine – that’s our last and best chance for a true happy ending, if it can be figured out and distributed in the next few years.

        This country is extremely, unbelievably, perhaps even terminally independent-minded. History itself will eventually provide enough gale-force back-hands to the face to force us all a little further back along the spectrum to something more sustainable. But masking isn’t going to be the first thing adopted, or perhaps even the last. The cultural barriers are too high, the public health communication too awful, and the experience of masking itself too damned unpleasant. It’s easy to feel self-satisfied that one has figured out the “answer”, and look down upon all the unenlightened masses who weren’t smart enough to figure it out as good as you did, sucks to be them! Heaven knows I’ve done this more than once in my own life. But this worldview is called out as a sin for a reason.

        What’s really happening is not an injustice against you – I know it feels like it, but I assure you, the majority of the American people are absolutely not thinking about you, or anyone else in the country who still feels compelled to mask, in any way whatsoever. What’s really happening is a full-scale national tragedy–always has been. Most American’s lives are very, very difficult right now, whether their children are getting hammered with RSV, or their jobs are being cancelled in anticipation of the upcoming recession, or the steady creep of inflation eats away at their very food budget. Throwing away the mask means that they can more easily reach out to other people – to gather and reinforce family bonds, to live together as rents creep ever higher, or even just to forget for a few hours how clearly the American Dream is going bankrupt right in front of our eyes, and how the futures they had dreamed of for themselves and their children are evaporating away like morning mist. It’s natural human behavior in times of trouble. And yes, it spreads disease – you can see it happening all too clearly in similar historical difficult times. But that’s a risk that we all have to measure for ourselves, and frankly, individuals are each going to have to weigh what risks are most pressing.

        I wish I had better words to offer to you about how to bear up under the crushing disappointment when the way the world should be, crashes at full speed against the wall of the way the world is. I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole COVID debacle has served as an extreme stress test on a personal level, to find a way to bear up under the gap between the two with as much dignity and grace as I can muster. To be completely honest with you, the first step has to be to stop punching down on people who are responding exactly the way one could expect to dysfunctional political communication, fractured and incompetent leadership, a complete fuzzing of the boundary between science and scientism, a cherished personal worldview (goaded on by marketers and politicians) completely unsuited to the actual world we now live in, and a general very very very difficult time. They are not doing it to you. They’re just… regular people. And as such, simultaneously a miraculous and terrifying force.

        Anyway, I’ll stop wasting your moderators’ time now. I hope you can come to personal peace about this issue at some point, for the sake of your own health. I admire what you and Lambert have created, though I do wonder what the costs are that we don’t see and that money doesn’t cover. I wish you good health and a successful emigration to a country you can be comfortable in.

    2. Pat

      The anxiety and discomfort may be real, but the unwillingness to face it still should not be excused.
      A couple of personal examples here. Because of my size and shape shoulder seat belts are uncomfortable. They cut into my neck. I do not own a car so am almost always a passenger. The cops will NOT accept that as an excuse if they cite me and the driver if I do not wear it. Nor should they. It is up to me to find a solution as in fit it properly.
      I also have a fear of falling, not standard fear of heights. I can literally be paralyzed at the side of a pool trying to frog jump in. It is irrational, just as the fears and discomfort of masks are. They may be real to the person experiencing them, but you can still breathe in a mask, just as after the probably less than a second of falling I would be in a pool where I am comfortable. I still have this, but I did manage to do a frog jump to get through a swim class, and I have no doubts that I would jump if my life depended on it.

      People should deal with their anxieties and mask because their lives, and the lives of their children, their families, and their friends and neighbors do depend on it. Masking is the best mitigation factor we have for Covid outside of isolation. Ventilation helps, immuno boosting helps, gargling helps, but that little barrier sealing your nose and mouth helps the most. They should find the most comfortable well fitted mask they can, practice using them for ever longer periods and then not go out without wearing one.

      And not for nothing, perhaps they should ask themselves if wearing a mask is more uncomfortable than being disabled, in a hospital, on tons of medications and unable to walk or breathe or worried the clot will cause a stroke or death. Long Covid is going to be a lot more uncomfortable than the mask was. And your odds of getting that are significantly better than even the third and fourth tier prizes in the giant lotteries.

  22. fairleft

    About the speakers can take off their masks concern, I have a question about something likely already discussed here. If the lectern is quite a few meters away from the audience, isn’t that reasonable protection of the audience and speaker? This is another way of asking whether there is roughly accurate data on how quickly airborne Covid dissipates into ‘not a realistic threat’.

      1. fairleft

        Excellent superspreader piece here by Lambert. Understanding further gained, but removing a mask while at a typical speaker’s lectern wouldn’t violate the three C’s (closed space, crowded place, close-contact settings), unless ventilation were poor and air-conditioner/heating vents directed speaker’s CO2 at the ‘distant’ audience or vice versa.

        Thanks to Lambert I get the airborne Covid safety principles, but his focus on a very socially-distanced individual seemed and still seems not derived from them. So, just confusing, but not as bad as chasing down and force-masking a bicyclist on an isolated country road.

  23. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Fetterman every county strategy

    Dean’s 50 state strategy wasn’t simply “every”. It was meant as a process. In then out. There are blue spots in every territory. Going from 60 to 80 turnout swings congressional districts and states. Local elections may not register, but getting people to see they were part of Virginia was the hard part in 2005 when Kaine won by 7. It was the same with Webb. When Obama rolled around, those iffy voters were registered and ready to go. They didn’t need GOTV, so campaigns could expand.

    I doubt Fetterman was playing in bumeff PA but instead local “urban core” type environs.

  24. chris

    I’m seeing articles mentioning that Biden “beat” Obama’s record with the current midterm results. My knee-jerk reaction is, no he didn’t but then again… the Republicans committed so many mistakes and selected candidates of such astonishingly poor quality that maybe Biden should be given the W even though he did next to nothing to create the conditions that caused the Red Ripple. Which makes me wonder if Obama will start to strike back against Joe because he is so protective of his own legacy.

    1. Objective Ace

      As unethical as it was, maybe some credit is due to the DNC funding the worst of the worst GOP candidates?

      1. albrt

        Yes, by all means, please donate to the democrats so they can fund Trump in 2024. I can’t think of a better use for your money, so please give it all.

  25. Idland

    Lambert, I have been poor but now I am sustainable.You and Yves are so awesome small donation is all I can offer. Sorry I missed the fundraiser.

  26. Geoffrey Dewan

    It will therefore be interesting to see if the “every county” strategy is erased, or highlighted, in the coming days.

    I’ll take the over on “erased”. Not where the money is.

Comments are closed.