2:00PM Water Cooler 12/6/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Chestnut-eared Bunting, Buryatia, Russia. “Several cuts from a male bird, mostly perched on wire fences at the edge of grassy pastures and steppe not far from a marsh.” Really lovely. And four minutes long!

* * *


“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

Capitol Seizure

“House January 6 committee has decided to make criminal referrals, chairman says” [CNN]. Good. Let’s have it out. Except: “The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has decided to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, told reporters Tuesday.Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said the committee has not narrowed down the universe of individuals who may be referred.” Oh for pity’s sake. Stop teasing. More: “Still, the idea of a criminal referral of Trump, even if entirely symbolic in nature, has hung like a shadow over the panel since it was first formed, and many members felt it was a necessary measure in order to complete its work.” • If the walls are closing in, charge Trump. If they’re not, don’t. This is not hard!

Biden Administration

“REAL ID enforcement is delayed again to 2025” [NPR]. • That’s a damn shame.

“Exclusive: Musk’s Neuralink faces federal probe, employee backlash over animal tests” [Reuters]. • Horrid project, curious timing.

“More than 70% of voters in poll want Biden to release secret JFK assassination records” [NBC]. “More than 7 in 10 voters want President Joe Biden to honor a commitment he made last year and release the final trove of JFK assassination records on Dec. 15, according to a poll released Tuesday in coordination with a research group that sued the administration to force more document disclosure.” • Wait. You’re telling me Biden didn’t honor a commitment?

“Pelosi, Democrats seek string of victories in final days” [The Hill]. “Perhaps the most prominent proposal on the docket is the Respect for Marriage Act, which would provide federal protections for same-sex marriage nationwide. Those rights were explicitly denied by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which Pelosi had fiercely opposed, breaking at the time with her White House ally in President Clinton.” • Lol, what about codifying abortion?


I don’t know about pack journalism, but based on these headlines, “pack editorship” is a thing.

GA: “Five things to watch in the Georgia Senate runoff” [The Hill]. Can Election Day turnout save Walker? Are the polls wrong, again? How does Trump react? Has Walker lost the middle? Does Warnock thank Biden? • Warnock owes me six hundred bucks.

GA: “Georgia Senate race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker: 5 things to watch” [Los Angeles Times]. How long will voters have to wait in line? Will early turnout in Democratic strongholds push Warnock over the line? Or will the GOP base pack the polls on election day? Will Trump’s influence make a difference either way? Will swing voters show up for Warnock?

GA: “5 things to watch as Georgia decides Warnock vs. Walker Senate runoff” [CNN]. Turnout boom or bust? Democrats seek a true majority. Trump’s last shot at a Senate win. Kemp looks to one-up Trump one more time. Georgia, a swing state? We’ll see.

* * *

AZ: “Arizona certifies 2022 election results amid threat of more GOP challenges” [The Hill]. “Arizona officials certified the state’s vote canvass on Monday, officially declaring winners in the high-profile gubernatorial and Senate races, among other contests, as GOP figures vow to fight the election results in court. The once low-profile certification process turned into a fierce battle between election officials, Republican candidates and some county boards as the GOP seized on printer malfunctions in the state’s most populous county, in part leading Arizona to become an epicenter for voter disenfranchisement allegations. Election officials have acknowledged mishaps but insist no voter was disenfranchised. Some GOP figures and their supporters claimed officials were lying, unsuccessfully calling on county boards to not certify their canvasses in recent days before turning their ire to Monday’s state-level certification. But Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who is now governor-elect, Gov. Doug Ducey (R), state Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) and Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel still met to canvass last month’s election on Monday, a timeline mandated by state law.”


“EXCLUSIVE: Biden’s married, non-binary nuclear waste guru who stole woman’s $2,325 bag from airport hosted SPANKING seminar at kink conference just weeks later – under ‘NuclearNerd’ nickname that’s still in use on fetish hookup website” [Daily Mail]. • 2024 is going to be so ugly.

* * *

SC: “Biden Is Putting South Carolina First. I Won’t Vote for That.” [Faiz Shakir, New York Times]. “The 2020 caucuses in Iowa — the state that has been first on the calendar for decades — were a disaster.” No, it wasn’t. It was theft, for which, ironically, Iowa Democrats were not rewarded. More: “We all know why South Carolina got the nod. President Biden, Representative Jim Clyburn and many of his top supporters were buoyed by their campaign’s comeback in February 2020 when the state delivered Mr. Biden his first victory of the season — and a big one at that…. South Carolina is not a battleground state: Mr. Trump carried it by double digits in 2020. It is way more ideologically and culturally conservative than our party and our nation. And the state is not trending in any way toward the Democratic Party.” • Shakir does understand that making SC first is a payoff to Clyburn. Shakir either does not understand or cannot say that (a) the Black Misleadership Class, as embodied by Clyburn and the Congressional Black Caucus, is deeply corrupt and reactionary, (b) that Biden is rigging the primary for Harris, and (c) that Biden, and liberal Democrats in general, are making sure that another Sanders does not emerge, ever again. (A remote possibility, but… the precautionary principle.) Have the cries of “racism” already begun? Why yes, yes they have!

SC: “Biden and Sanders worlds are again at loggerheads over South Carolina” [Politico]. ““Zero tolerance — ZERO for any disrespect or dismissal of Black voters,” Democratic National Committee Chairman JAIME HARRISON wrote on Twitter while retweeting a similar critique. PATRICK DILLON, a Democratic strategist whose wife, JEN O’MALLEY DILLON, is Biden’s deputy chief of staff, tweeted Shakir’s piece with this comment: ‘Had to read this twice just to confirm that it does not mention Black voters even once.’ Shakir, in our interview, was unmoved by his critics. ‘It’s a very insulting approach to suggest that somehow we don’t care about Black voters because we think South Carolina shouldn’t go first. Come on. Get real.’ He added that he’d support Georgia going first, pointing out that it is more diverse and has a higher percentage of Black voters than South Carolina. He said he would rather see Nevada at the head of the pack but would prefer any of the other first five in Biden’s plan — which also includes New Hampshire, Michigan, and Georgia — to go first over South Carolina.” Plenty of Black voters in Michigan and Georgia. But Biden needs to pay off Clyburn. ““And making sure that the Democratic party’s most loyal voters — Black voters — are at the front of the line and not at the back of the bus feels like something no one should be arguing about.” • The Democrats aren’t putting Black voters “at the front of the line,” which they could do with Georgia, a swing state, just as well. They’re putting Clyburn in the driver’s seat of the bus, and his reactionary and corrupt political machine in the driver’s seat for the forseeable future. It’s a payoff and a way to cripple the left, to the extent there is a left. So naturally the liberals get all huffy and start preening.

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.

* * *

Speaking of election denial:

Realignment and Legitimacy

‘Tis a mystery!

“America’s Ballot-Harvesting Capital Is in Suburban Philly” [RealClearPolitics]. “Many neighborhoods in Delaware County can be sparsely inhabited during the summer, with vacation destinations of the Jersey Shore or Poconos just a short car drive away. That did not matter to Delaware County’s Democratic organizers, who continued working here. Delaware County’s Democratic candidates relentlessly knocked on doors throughout the summer, carrying mail-in ballot applications for voters. The candidates’ volunteers and paid canvassers did the same, knowing that 85% of those who apply will cast a ballot. Those votes were in the bank before Labor Day.” • Absolutely, 100% wrong wrong wrong. What this lengthy article shows is that purpose of early voting/vote by mail/ballot harvesting is tribal loyalty, pure and simple. This is entirely undemocratic (see here and here). Why don’t we just forget about ballots entirely? People can just wear the appropriate T-shirt and we’ll count them by drone or security camera.


Lambert here: Eric Topol has called a winter surge (or “wave”) of Covid. I am but a humble tapewatcher, but I’m reluctant to do so. (Partly because I know my temperament, and I have strong priors. So “I won’t because all of me wants to,” as Sam Spade says.) Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges. Granted, Boston (wastewater) and New York (hospitalization) are both accelerating, they are good data, and they could be leading indicators (which is why I chose them). They could also be flashes in the pan. (Perhaps I need to take a rigorous look at wastewater, as for example in San Francisco (charts take forever to load).) So we’ll see. Let’s wait and see what the remainder of the holiday season brings. Reader discussion on this important point is welcome. Nevertheless–

Stay safe out there: High transmission (CDC), the elevation of positivity (Walgreens), the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens), along with increased hospitalization in BQ.1* hotbed New York, plus a wastewater surge in Boston are all more than a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). As one might expect at the beginning of a holiday surge, wastewater in Queens County, NY (JFK/LGA), Cook County, IL (ORD), and Los Angeles County (LAX) continues to be elevated. If you are planning to travel on Xmas, do consider your plans carefully.

* * *

If, over the holidays, you plan to stay in a hotel, from an HVAC engineer:

* * *

• Maskravaganza: “CDC encourages people to wear masks to help prevent spread of Covid, flu and RSV over the holidays” [CNBC]. Walenksy is so, so bad:

“We also encourage you to wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses,” said Walensky, adding that people living in areas with high levels of Covid transmission should especially consider masking.

“Encourage.” “Consider.” That’s a real profile in courage. And the burden is all on “you,” the individual. Surely Walensky knows that workplaces will only act based on guidance? I love also that Walensky recommends tracking transmission when CDC buries the transmission map. Remember the woman who called CDC to find it, and the nice lady on the other end of the line tried for half an hour and failed?

The CDC director said the agency is considering expanding its system of Covid community levels to take into account other respiratory viruses such as the flu. The system is the basis for when CDC advises the public to wear masks. But Walensky encouraged people to take proactive action.

Dear gawd. Walensky is doubling down on “community levels” [bangs head on desk]. On the bright side, she waited until well after the midterms.

One need not wait on CDC action in order to put a mask on,” Walensky said. “We would encourage all of those preventive measures — hand washing, staying home when you’re sick, masking, increased ventilation — during respiratory virus season, but especially in areas of high Covid-19 community levels.”

A-a-a-n-d Walensky doubles down on the horrid “community levels” metric once more. And “one need not.” Who does Walensky think she is? The Queen of England?

• Anyhow, why would anybody believe Walensky about anything?

* * *

• Mastravaganza: A maskless conference of immunologists:

You’ll never guess what happened!

• Maskstravaganza: Another maskless conference, this time at WHO:

And speaking of WHO:

• WHO still rejects airborne transmission of Covid:

The Hague for these people. I am not kidding. (Navarro’s bio: “Special Envoy of @WHO DG on #COVID19, Co-Director of @Imperial_IGHI & Strategic Director of @4SD_info – Skills, Systems & Synergies for Sustainable Development.” Deeply, deeply embedded in the network of globalist NGOs, unsurprisingly.)

• “Study Comparing Surgical and N95 Masks Sparks Concern” [MedScape]. Here is a politely phrased takedown of the study from CIDRAP. From memory: Conly is an Infectious Disease specialist (bad) from Alberta (worse), a droplet goon (even worse), and is a gatekeeper at WHO against both masks and airborne transmission. He’s the dunce who kept yammering about the need to weigh the harms of masks against the benefits, and when pressed on the harms, came up with… acne. As opposed to vascular and neurological damage. The Hague for Conly too.

* * *

• A better world is possible:

* * *

• Inhaled Chinese vaccines:

Note the label: Adenovirus.

* * *


Just for another angle, I went back, temporarily, to the case data (which I know seriously underestimates actual cases by an order of magnitude, since people test at home). Here is the yearly data:

And here is the data for the last four weeks:

Regardless of where the baseline is, I expect doubling behavior in a surge, and I’m not seeing it here. This data feels like a long, grinding slog. “A pandemic we can’t shake,” as it were.


Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission (the “red map”). (This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.)

Lambert here: The powers-that-be don’t even see transmission as a problem, obviously. But you might!


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published December 3:

2.3%. Yesterday was 4.1% (4.3%). A slight slackening.


Wastewater data (CDC), December 1:

JFK/LGA, Queens County is still red; ORD, Cook County is orange; LAX, Los Angeles County is orange. I would bet that speckling of red in Utah is sky country. Stay safe when travelling.

November 28:

And MWRA data, December 1:

Lambert here: I hesitate to say “going vertical.” Looks vertical to me.


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.

UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), November 19:

Lambert here: BQ.1* dominating. XBB coming up on the outside.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), November 12 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. Note the appearance of XBB, and see the highlighted note: Like BQ.1*, XBB appears suddenly when CDC decides to disaggregate the data. Exactly as with CDC’s infamous “green map,” a lag is introduced, this time by CDC’s decision-making process; Walgreens had XBB last week, but CDC has it only this week. I don’t see what purpose the aggregation serves. If the issue is a jillion low-circulation variants would make the table impossibly long and confusing for users, that’s a UI/UX issue; handle it with software. Have a slider/filter that aggregates variants under 1%, say. Allow scrolling the results. Whatever. But stop concealing data!

New York/New Jersey (Region 2) numbers are higher. BQ.1.* is dominating:

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated December 3:

Lambert here: I see increase, but not acceleration.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,106,990 – 1,106,378 = 612 (612 * 365 = 223,380 deaths per year, 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). NOTE Not quite fair, since I missed Monday.

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

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US fell for a second month to 53.6 in November 2022 from 57.5 in October. It is the second lowest reading ever, only surpassing 51.3 in April 2020 at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns. The slowdown in logistics growth was largely due to the long-anticipated wind down in Inventory Levels (54.8), prompted by the movement of goods downstream towards retailers and the sale of those goods as holiday spending picks up.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Uber Eats and Chicago Reach $10 Million Settlement Over Deceptive Practices” [Eater]. “In the settlement, the city contends that Uber ‘listed unaffiliated Merchants on its Platforms without consent’ and ‘deceptively advertised that Eats Pass and Postmates Unlimited subscribers would receive ‘free delivery’ or ‘$0 Delivery Fees.'” • What, I thought Uber was supposed to be clean after Kalanick left?

Tech: A long thread on Google’s crapification:

Goodhart’s law: “Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes,” or simplified: “every measure which becomes a target becomes a bad measure.” For example, Google pagerank.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 6 at 1:54 PM EST.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil has declined to $80 per barrel” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Book Nook

The author:

His “radical turn”:

His book:

Conspiracy Theory in America seems like a topic it would be useful to have scholarly, and modern, perspective on. Does anyone know where I can find a PDF? I’ve looked, without success.

* * *

“Landscape, Change, and the Long Road Ahead” [Orion]. “Le Guin’s ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ is a classic for its portrayal of gender, but is it also sometimes, for the modern reader, a climate change parable?…. Climate crisis is about extremes, and in The Left Hand of Darkness cultures are shaped by an immeasurably hostile physical environment. The coldness of the place, which forces adaptation to its conditions and discourages certain kinds of risk. The fact the nations of Winter do not engage in war constitutes one unique manifestation of this adaptation to an extreme environment. Full-scale conflict, as opposed to minor sorties, skirmishes, individual feuds, simply seems alien to the nations of Winter. …. Here on Earth, we are blessed, or have been blessed, with living on a planet with a range of climates, many of which have been mild or fairly easy to adapt to. This is not to say that there have not been terrible periods of famine and privation even before the climate crisis, but we have also been allowed the luxury of a range of acts of the imagination not available to the planet Winter. We have, for example, in truly terrible ways, been allowed the “luxury” of war. Even if recovery from this luxury has varied depending on circumstances of resources and landscape as well.” • I’m not sure I agree with this reading. But it’s a sensitive reading nonetheless.

The Gallery

“Pitiless misogynist?” [Times Literary Supplement (AL)]. “[Lucien Freud’s] biographer William Feaver says that Freud’s portrait of the Queen, on show here, “wasn’t so different from the 1952 head of Francis Bacon”. Both are small. Both are painted close to. Bacon and Freud sat with their knees practically touching – not the case with Her Majesty. Both required many sittings. The royal portrait took a year, the Bacon two or three months. The Queen was captured on canvas, Bacon on a copper plate. And there is something copperplate about the Bacon portrait – meticulous, controlled, uniform, classical, a brilliant exercise in Ingres detail and finish. Part of the portrait’s power is the way it fills the space exactly, so the impression of mass is created, though the painting is small, cognate, you might say, with an Elizabethan miniature, a Nicholas Hilliard or an Isaac Oliver. The finish is quasi-enamel. It resists revealing its process. The portrait of the Queen is all process and brushstrokes. You see the Queen and you see the painter at work. The Bacon was painted in 1952, the Queen in 2001. At some point in the middle 1950s, under the influence of Bacon – whose portrait heads are wipes, approximate, confident swipes, gestural and kinetic, heads in motion – Freud changed his brushes from fine sable to coarse hog’s hair Filbert brushes. Which is why the two portraits are utterly different from each other. Feaver reports that when Richard Hamilton told Freud that his painting was no longer tenable – “You can’t work in your style nowadays” – Freud replied that it was ‘the only way he could work’. Meaning realism.”

Freud (1):

Freud (2):


Bacon’s paintings always remind me of…. bacon (only visually). Am I the only one?

Class Warfare

“Long Social Distancing” [NBER]. “More than ten percent of Americans with recent work experience say they will continue social distancing after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, and another 45 percent will do so in limited ways. We uncover this Long Social Distancing phenomenon in our monthly Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes. It is more common among older persons, women, the less educated, those who earn less, and in occupations and industries that require many face-to-face encounters. People who intend to continue social distancing have lower labor force participation – unconditionally, and conditional on demographics and other controls…. Economic reasoning and evidence suggest that Long Social Distancing and its effects will persist for many months or years.” • That’s an amazingly high number of sensible people, given the intensity of the propaganda and the forces arrayed against them. Maybe the Fed needs to crack the whip harder?

Silicon Valley’s labor aristocrats were riding for a fall:

Turns out that instead of scarfing down the free lunches and massages + fighting about idpol, they should have been organizing unions. Ah well, nevertheless.

News of the Wired

News you can use (except in the snowbound areas of the country, of course):

* * *

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wol writes: “Marsh grass, Bald Head Island, NC.”

* * *

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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. Mikel

    “If, over the holidays, you plan to stay in a hotel, from an HVAC engineer:…”

    During my hotel stays on my 2021 road trip, I put towels under the door leading to the hallway, covered vents in the bathroom, turned off air conditioning, used disinfectant air spray liberally, and left balcony door open or cracked the entire time. Spent most of the time on the balcony when I wasn’t sleep. I also stayed on the second floor, so that I could take the stairs and not be on the enclosed in an elevator.

    1. Joe Well

      People are going to hate my hotel hack: stay in a Red Roof Inn Plus (regular RRIs and other hotel chains are often barely fit for human habitation), since there are no hallways and rooms are individually ventilated directly to the outside AFAIK. If no RRI+ available, then look for another motel and do some serious review-checking and checking the images of the rooms and buildings. Unfortunately, in the age of opioids and meth, motels can be pretty unpleasant.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > People are going to hate my hotel hack: stay in a Red Roof Inn

        I believe that in general motels have no hallways and individually ventilate rooms. Surely all motels are not bad, even today?

    1. Darius

      I recommend the American Exception podcast, available on the usual platforms, to the NC readership. Aaron Good focuses on elite criminality and prerogative state. He makes a good case that the extra-legal prerogative state pulls the strings on the normative state, which is the political framework with which we are all familiar. The prerogative state is controlled by the machinery of capitalism through agents like Allen Dulles and Dick Cheney. In addition to Lance DeHaven Smith, Good also is close to scholar Peter Dale Scott.

      1. Expat2Uruguay

        Lambert, regarding the book American Exception by Aaron Good, I know it’s not what you asked for, but I did find this publisher of a hardcover and there’s also a eBook available: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/American-Exception/Aaron-Good/9781510769137

        Also, Multi-polarista on YouTube has been talking has a 15 video playlist on the book, where Ben Norton interviews Aaron good and Seamas McGuinnes (producer of the American Exception podcast with historian Aaron Good). I’ve only listened to one episode so far.

      1. lambert strether

        Awesome. Truly, the NC commentariat is the best commentariat.

        If I may ask, how did you find it?

        1. square coats

          Of course! I searched for [“conspiracy theory in america” pdf] (without the brackets) using brave for the search engine, while using proton’s free vpn set to the netherlands.

          I’m not sure if presumed location affects brave’s search results but I’ve noticed it definitely affects google’s.

        2. Acacia

          Try library DOT lol, pick a mirror, and search. They have the book you’re inquiring about, and a muthalode of others.

      2. Darius

        I’d say give Aaron some coin for his hard work. I got the digital version through Barnes and Noble for about $20.

    2. Boris

      Now this is curious: here in Germany I also get the “Not available in my country”, so I fired up my VPN, and I got the same error message from the USA, Denmark, Japan, Canada. Unless its a technical glitch, this site is really thoroughly censored!

  2. Mikel

    “People who intend to continue social distancing have lower labor force participation – unconditionally, and conditional on demographics and other controls…. Economic reasoning and evidence suggest that Long Social Distancing and its effects will persist for many months or years.”

    Sounds like a different way of saying people who can’t AFFORD to be sick because they lack things like sufficient paid sick leave.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The thought also occurs that reduced population and declines in labor force participation due to debilitation from Long COVID and its effects will persist for many months or years. And as these problems become more difficult to conceal, the imperative many people feel and the number of people who feel compelled, to continue Social Distancing practices will only increase.

      I console myself with the thought that it will be increasingly difficult to staff and supply our planet-girdling expeditionary forces and garrisons. Perhaps the future will be more peaceful than the present and recent past.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > effects will persist for many months or years

        It’s interesting AI is getting a lot of traction just now. As usual, elites think labor is fungible, but what that AI chatbot will replace is “creatives” who have not yet achieved branding. Robots for the warehouses? Maybe? In retail? Less likely.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sounds like a different way of saying people who can’t AFFORD to be sick because they lack things like sufficient paid sick leave.

      Working class both less embubbled and less brain-damaged than the PMC, how odd.

    1. griffen

      Yes it is supposed to be a wonderful island to visit. Now I’m jealous of never having gone there, although to be fair I spent a fair amount of summers working on the barrier islands to the north during my college summer breaks. Ocracoke is a worthwhile visit, or it was I thought.

      Back to the photo, I don’t see any native large alligators! Please try harder next visit. \sarc

  3. Bosko

    Regarding the gas line, I can’t tell if that’s plastic or lead… but if it’s lead, a little known fact is that lead is actually kind of sweet-tasting, which sometimes compels squirrels to eat it. And is also, so my pediatrician says, one of the reasons that lead paint is particularly dangerous for children (not only is it dangerous, but it tastes good). I lived in a house where the squirrels ate the chimney flashing, causing a roof leak and a lot of damage. Took a while to detect.

      1. Paul Beard

        In my childhood fifty plus years ago it was used as ant poison. The ants took it back to the nest and doom ensued.

    1. Bart

      Twice the little bastards ate through the gas line on my Saturn sedan. Luckily this happened right before the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ deal in 2009, so I was able to dump that lemon with the rubber gas lines.

  4. Carla

    From Nov. 25th, but still germane.

    Eight years after 500,000 people in the Toledo, Ohio were ordered not to drink or even TOUCH their water for 3 days, little has changed:


    The good people of Toledo voted to pass the Lake Erie Bill of Rights in Feb. 2019 to protect their water source, but it was legally overturned in 2020.

    In 2022, the algal bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie was the sixth-worst and longest-lasting ever, persisting from July into November.

  5. semper loquitur

    “The central mystery of Bankman-Fried’s political giving is whether the crypto executive had an ulterior motive in backing congressional candidates.”

    Wow, some penetrating journalism going on at the LA Times, I tell you. Really ripping aside the veil. Here’s a better question for those brain-geniuses to explore: does anyone contributing to a congressional campaign not have an ulterior motive?

    1. cgregory

      Only 5%, unfortunately. The other 95% are like SBF and likely to get a 1,200 percent return on their investment.

      “Benjamin, one word: Politics!

    2. GramSci

      “The central mystery of Bankman-Fried’s political giving is whether the crypto executive had an ulterior motive in backing congressional candidates.”

      SBF had no ulterior motive; he was simply attracted to congressional candidates who appreciated money.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Or it was simply the price of doing business. He backs Congressional candidates and the sitting government looks the other way.

  6. Questa Nota

    South Carolina Explained

    2016 was Her Turn, or if you prefer, HER TURN, DAMMIT, and Don’t You Ever Forget It!

    2024 is going to be her turn, without upper case because, well, just because.

    1. flora

      I wonder if, after the national Dem estab f*cked up the 2016 Iowa caucus and with bells and whistles created a total cluster f*ck of the 2020 Iowa caucus, the Dem estab having trashed the place now wants any other state than Iowa to go first so voters won’t be reminded of those debacles. If in the process a payoff reward for past services can be arranged for a guy who was 3rd-Way all the way from the beginning, Demo Leadership Council and all that, so much the better. / too cynical?

  7. semper loquitur

    I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank Sam Brinton, AKA “NuclearNerd”, for injecting some much needed levity into the upcoming elections in advance. Now, if we could just get a couple of other kooky characters on board. Perhaps a porn star or two? KITT from NightRider? Some professional wrestlers? Dancing bears? Maybe McDonalds will run Ronald! What’s Ralph Macchio been up too? Perhaps Peppa Pig will make an appearance, get the kids into politics! It’s going to be a circus!

    *begins researching popcorn futures

      1. semper loquitur

        Apparently he’s morally fluid as well…he claimed the reason he took the bag, removed the tags, and wore the dresses for a month was because he was “tired”.

      2. chris

        And he apparently teaches classes on kink and bondage and lots of things that are completely unrelated to his position in DOE. Dreher over at TAC is obsessed with him… my take is this dude is a nut job. When I heard about this latest kerfuffle I thought, “is anyone surprised that someone who can’t separate his professional life from his sexual fetishes and constantly acts out publicly for attention did this?”

        The saddest thing is his awful behavior and unprofessional attitude have nothing to do with him being kinky or gay. He’s just a terrible person by all accounts. But I have no doubt that his freakishness will be projected onto a lot of gay people this election season.

    1. GramSci

      Sam has his own Wikipedia page! So he must be something!


      “Samuel Otis Brinton[1] (born 1987)[2] is an American nuclear engineer and LGBTQ activist. They currently serve as the deputy assistant secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy.[3][4] …

      Brinton graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering and vocal music. …

      In 2016, Brinton was a senior policy analyst for the Bipartisan Policy Center, lobbying for updated regulations so nuclear waste can be used to power advanced nuclear reactors.[19] In February 2020, the website of Deep Isolation, a Berkeley, California, nuclear waste storage and disposal company,[20] listed them as its Director of Legislative Affairs[21] and in May 2022 they were its Director of Global Strategy.[22] In 2022, Brinton’s profile at the Department of Energy indicated their previous work with the Breakthrough Institute, the Clean Air Task Force, and Third Way.[4]”

        1. chris

          I remember Felix Salmon doing a podcast bit where he calculated that if all the executive boards of companies in California that had committed to trans representation on the board actually followed through on those goals there would be an elite class of trans people running from meeting to meeting all day 7 days a week. I assume Mr. Brinton was intended to be a ringer for that kind of thing. Token representation for alternate lifestyles or something like that.

    2. The Rev Kev

      This past July for the Bastille Day celebrations, the US sent a contingent to the French Embassy in Washington to help them celebrate. I’m afraid that the skirt that the US Admiral wore did nothing for his skinny legs.

      1. semper loquitur

        That photo was unforgettable. A potato in a wig and Lex Luther in lipstick and heels. Bring on the Apocalypse…

  8. flora

    Thanks for the Joey Fox twt about how to tell if hotel ventilation is working.

    Thanks for the Lucien Freud links.

    1. flora

      re: “Bacon’s paintings always remind me of…. bacon (only visually). Am I the only one?”

      I was going to say ‘abattoir’. Bacon’s success mystifies me as does the art of Damien Hurst; there’s clearly an audience and a market for this Thanatos-like imagery. That market mystifies me.

      1. wol

        I love both. I saw Freud’s retro at the Met. He and Rembrandt are masters in my eyes in turning oil paint into skin. Bacon knocked my socks off the first time I saw one. I hadn’t seen as original a painted description of that feeling of/for that particular minor key aspect of human existence. Words fail me, and to me that’s a good thing (Dammit Jim, I’m a painter). Hirst is a different species. Sadly, I think I understand his success. I’ve probably mentioned this quote before: ‘It used to be the art world. Now it’s the art market. I rest my case.’ -Fran Lebowitz

      2. Acacia

        That market mystifies me.

        At face value, this is indeed a perplexing feature of much art since WWII, but it’s worth noting that there’s been a fair amount of critical discussion of how we should understand ‘ugly’ or decisively not “beautiful” works of contemporary art.

        J.-F. Lyotard, for example, in his writings on Kant and the AbEx painter Barnett Newman, argues that if formerly the vocation of art was to explore the beautiful, in the twentieth century the emphasis shifts to the sublime. In The Sublime and the Avant-Garde, for example, he notes:

        The sublime is perhaps the only mode of artistic sensibility to characterize the modern.

        Lyotard gives a reading of Newman’s “The Sublime is Now”, which he suggests we should place in historical context and understand as “Now the Sublime is Like This”, for:

        The word sublime is common currency today to colloquial French to suggest surprise and admiration, somewhat like America’s ‘great’, but the idea connoted by it has belonged (for at least two centuries) to the most rigorous kind of reflection on art. Newman is not unaware of the aesthetic and philosophical stakes with which the word sublime is involved. He read Edmund Burke’s Inquiry and criticized what he saw as Burke’s over-‘surrealist’ description of the sublime work. Which is as much as to say that, conversely, Newman judged surrealism to be overreliant on a pre-romantic or romantic approach to indeterminacy. Thus, when he seeks sublimity in the here-and-now he breaks with the eloquence of romantic art but he does not reject its fundamental task, that of bearing pictorial or otherwise expressive witness to the inexpressible.

        So this is channeling the tradition from Boileau, Burke, Kant, etc., via Newman, to try and make sense of postwar art. Lyotard, again, in “After the Sublime, the State of Aesthetics”:

        For the last century, the arts have not had the beautiful as their main concern, but something which has to do with the sublime. I am not including those recent currents that are bringing painting, architecture or music back round to the traditional values of taste — I mean trans-avantgardism, neo-expressionism, the new subjectivity, postmodernism, etc.: the neo-‘s and the post-‘s.

  9. Carolinian

    Part 3 of WTC versus Empire State–design considerations for the World Trade Center.

    The exterior columns would be stitched together using steel spandrel panels, which would allow them to serve as lateral force resistance for the building.This technique would eliminate the need for interior lateral bracing and result in extremely narrow windows, creating a distinctive look that would depart from the typical “glass box” of the international style skyscraper. Yamasaki, once an enthusiast of this style, had moved away from it, stating that, “For me, the day of the all-glass building is finished.“ He also believed (influenced by his fear of heights) that windows narrower than shoulder width were more comforting to occupants of tall buildings.

    I once visited the observation deck and thought the views somewhat disappointing–in part because of those skinny windows.


    1. Acacia

      Same. The view from the roof was excellent, though.

      What I remember most about the top floor of the WTC wasn’t the view but rather an exhibit on the walls about the history of world trade and “the man who saved capitalism”. I wish I could remember who that man was, how he supposedly “saved” capitalism, and whether there are any photos or details about that exhibit.

  10. enoughisenough

    Re. _Conspiracy Theory in America_
    Check and support your local public library!

    Many have ebooks, if that is your preference, and you can get interlibrary loans that way as well.

  11. ChrisPacific

    So, the CDC encourages us to wear masks all the time. But what if there’s a surge in cases, and we need to take special measures?

    Don’t worry – the CDC is on the job. If case numbers exceed an alarm threshold in the new and expanded community levels, the CDC stands ready to spring into action by raising its mask recommendation from ‘encouraged’ to ‘advised.’

    The CDC, ladies and gentlemen. Keeping you safe!

    1. Cat Burglar

      But Isn’t CDC’s message discipline impressive?

      They have held to a line of keeping transmission and prevention ambiguous, and ensuring that risk is always placed on individuals. That has been a great way to keep costs externalized to the general public — if the key public health agency came out with hard and clear requirements to prevent airborne spread of Covid-19, just imagine what union contracts would include, the lawsuits over workplaces and businesses that spread the contagion, the big insurance payouts, the amount of public and private investment diverted to ventilation. That has to be held back.

      Walensky is no dummy — she has probably been told exactly where to hold the line. I can imagine there must be some staff that have protested internally and have resigned or been shown their places — surprising that no whistleblowers have come forth. Pros like her do not crack under the strain, at least not in public; that is one of the advantages of doing most of your work from home, like she does, I guess.

    2. chris

      Yeah…in the latest TWIV clinical update the good doctor and the virology take the CDC to task for public statements about the inactive polio vaccine providing herd immunity. And also claiming that the shedding virus in wastewater is coming from unvaccinated individuals.

      But the IPV doesn’t prevent infection. It does prevent polio myelitis. Thank God.

      So…the CDC is just publicly wrong. Still.

  12. Mikel

    Re: Georgia Senate race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker

    I live in Cali and finally had to block/report the Dems as spam because of all the donation requests for Warnock.
    I haven’t been registered as a Dem in over a decade.

  13. vanres1974

    At request:

    Conspiracy Theory in America seems like a topic it would be useful to have scholarly, and modern, perspective on. Does anyone know where I can find a PDF? I’ve looked, without success.

    I found Lance DeHaven-Smith’ book 1st edition pdf at libgen.is


    But I am not sure if the site is acessible from USA, I am at Brasil.

    For more up to date books on conspiracy theory:


    And for a lot of up to date academics research in Conspiracy Theory:


  14. fresno dan

    Elon Musk has fired Twitter’s general counsel James Baker for his alleged role in the suppression of The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop expose.
    Musk added that he questioned Baker before his firing about the events surrounding the laptop suppression scandal and that his explanation was “unconvincing.”

    Baker’s exit from the social media giant comes after independent journalist Matt Taibbi revealed internal documents showing Baker and other top Twitter execs deliberating over what to do about The Post’s October 2020 story on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop and his alleged influence peddling schemes.
    On Tuesday, Taibbi further reported that Baker was discovered “vetting” the “Twitter Files” before their release, and the journalist said that Baker’s secret involvement was delaying the release of another batch of internal documents.
    Baker has a remarkable amount of credulity when it comes to accepting ridiculous charges against Trump. But doesn’t everybody in the MSM?

  15. fresno dan

    In a new Twitter thread on Tuesday, Taibbi alleged that Baker had been fired after he was discovered ‘vetting’ the internal documents before their release, and delaying the release of a second tranche of files to Taibbi and another journalist, Bari Weiss.
    Taibbi wrote that ‘new management,’ meaning Musk, was not aware of Baker’s role in reviewing the files before their release.
    Taibbi tweeted: ‘The process for producing the “Twitter Files” involved delivery to two journalists (Bari Weiss and me) via a lawyer close to new management. However, after the initial batch, things became complicated.

    ‘Over the weekend, while we both dealt with obstacles to new searches, it was @bariweiss who discovered that the person in charge of releasing the files was someone named Jim. When she called to ask “Jim’s” last name, the answer came back: “Jim Baker.”

    ‘“My jaw hit the floor,” says Weiss.’
    Taibbi continued: ‘Baker is a controversial figure. He has been something of a Zelig of FBI controversies dating back to 2016, from the Steele Dossier to the Alfa-Server mess. He resigned in 2018 after an investigation into leaks to the press.
    The news that Baker was reviewing the “Twitter files” surprised everyone involved, to say the least.
    ‘New Twitter chief Elon Musk acted quickly to “exit” Baker Tuesday.’
    It is amazing to me that Baker was not prosecuted for his part in the Alfa-Server fiasco, but the CIA, FBI, DoJ, and FISA court have a remarkable see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil philosophy…
    Of course, the philosophy of the MSM in hiring these people who were fired is really astonishing – no desire to maintain even a semblance of an objective facade.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘Put a Mask on it
    The unmasked Immunology Conference in Melbourne has turned out to be a superspreader event….’

    And it is for reasons like this that I have lost all respect for the Australian medical establishment. And the worse of it is that they will not learn a damn thing from this event but back the government line that masks would be nice but only if you feel like wearing one. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is a betrayal of scientific method and classic healthcare. Idjuts!

    1. Acacia

      It’s kind of mind-boggling isn’t it? “Ironic that I got COVID from an immunology conference”.

      Yahh… who coulda node?

  17. LawnDart

    France’s Yellow Vests at 4: The movement’s three greatest achievements

    France is no longer gripped in revolutionary fervor, but the Yellow Vests haven’t gone anywhere. The average person has put their reflective yellow vest back where it belongs by law – in the car – but the network, relationships and experiences created by this extraordinary movement ensure that they will be back one day.

    And they will be back. The history of Western liberalism has proven over and over again that the average person’s right to live decently will never be guaranteed.


  18. C.O.

    The report put together for the BC government, “COVID-19 Lessons Learned Review Final Report” is online and The Tyee’s Crawford Killian wrote an interesting review.


    BC Hasn’t Learned Much from the Pandemic: A report on the provincial response to the COVID-19 pandemic shows citizens are disappointed and disenfranchised. Here’s why.

    One of the nice things he did was bring together a link to the full report in pdf format, and several links to now seriously buried data sources, including the respiratory disease tracking dashboard. The only thing missing is a custom 404 telling site visitors to Beware of the Leopard. The BC government website is, like so many of its congeners, hideous to find anything in consistently. Killian was able to find the Mortality Tracker and noted, “COVID-19 has been the fifth leading cause of death in B.C. this year.” (My emphasis. Killian is being very low key.)

    For all its strengths, Lessons Learned has some glaring omissions. Charlie Smith, former editor of the Georgia Straight, posted results on his Substack of a word search he’d done on the Lessons Learned report: not once does it mention terms like “airborne,” “brain injury,” “cardiovascular” and “excess mortality.” “Long COVID” gets one passing mention.

    Charlie Smith’s Substack post on the Lessons Learned report (he provides a bit of background on the report authors as well):


    The report itself is at:


  19. Jason Boxman

    Congress Poised to Repeal Covid Vaccine Mandate for Troops

    “Vaccines are saving lives, including our men and women in uniform. So this remains very, very much a health and readiness issue for the force,” John F. Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said on Monday.

    As far as I know, this is incredibly, incredibly dubious with regards to the young and healthy.

    Mandating a non-sterilizing vaccination was and is a horrific policy failure and likely will set back vaccination programs for legitimate vaccines decades. What a complete debacle by the “reality based” community.

    1. britzklieg

      “Mandating a non-sterilizing vaccination was and is a horrific policy failure and likely will set back vaccination programs for legitimate vaccines decades. What a complete debacle by the “reality based” community.”


    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Mandating a non-sterilizing vaccination was and is a horrific policy failure and likely will set back vaccination programs for legitimate vaccines decades. What a complete debacle by the “reality based” community.

      We should have mandated NPIs, and did not. We should never have mandated vaccines, and did. Catastrophic (hegemonic) PMC failure under the most charitable interpretation; trickledown eugenics (not a bad phrase) under the least.

  20. LawnDart

    The lying is beyond pervasive. I realize that there has always been BS, corruption, and scumbaggery, but the truth-bending and outright fabrications seem normalized, accepted, and even aggressively emulated by many of our young, following the examples set by those in the public eye.

    I appreciate the distinction when a doctor tells a patient, “you’re going to be just fine” in some circumstances when they know that the person’s a goner, or telling your spouse that dinner was great– lies that don’t harm or lies prevent hurt, versus lies that are intended to take something away from someone that is rightfully theirs, material or otherwise, or lies that are specifically meant to harm.

    Kirby and pieces if filth like him deserve to be strung-up at the gates of our military installations: if they’re going to “serve,” then let them serve as a warning to others who would callously endanger others.

  21. Pat

    My rhetorical question of the day is now that DA Bragg has a road map on how to convict a major organization of Tax Fraud for corporate perks do you suppose we can see similar hard hitting investigations of say the Rubin or Fillmore companies. How about any of the mid to top investment firms on Wall Street? Because listening to the news report there is not a chance in hell that these crimes are not SOP in at least 90% if not all of them.

    I would actually celebrate yesterday’s conviction if I thought for a minute this would be about cleaning up corporate corruption. I cannot because it is all about punishing Trump. The same blind eye that applied to him as well as all of his peers for decades before he had the stupidity to take Hillary Clinton’s bait and run against her for President will continue to apply to everyone else. It only got stripped from him because he had the audacity to win.

    My bet is that even non Trump supporting Republicans and Independents will recognize the clear bias in this. Meaning this will be Pyrrhic victory at best. Republican turnout is already up a lot in NY. Republican registration is up a lot in NY. This is not going to stem that. There is nothing about threatening Democracy in this. It isn’t going to play well in most places outside the coastal and beltway bubbles.

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