2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Thank you, dear readers, for your overwhelming response to my call for help on finding a copy of Conspiracy Theory in America. I now have a PDF (one more damn book to read). I want to read the book now, and so I didn’t to wait for Book Depository order or inter-library loan. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Meadow Bunting, Ilistay River, Primorsky Krai, Russia. “A bird continuously calling.”

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

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

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

Capitol Seizure

“Fight over officer testimony roils Proud Boys sedition case” [Associated Press]. “A legal fight has erupted over a Washington D.C. police officer who was communicating with Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack that could shape the outcome of the upcoming trial of Tarrio and other far-right extremists. Metropolitan Police Lt. Shane Lamond’s testimony is crucial for the former Proud Boys national chairman’s defense against seditious conspiracy and other serious charges stemming from the attack, Tarrio’s attorneys say. But Lamond plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination if called to the witness stand after prosecutors warned the officer he could be charged with obstructing the investigation into Tarrio, the Proud Boy’s attorneys say. They have accused the Justice Department of trying to bully Lamond into keeping quiet because his testimony would hurt their case. Prosecutors have vehemently denied that charge.” • The Proud Boys were full of informants and now we learn infested by cops. And yet…. the entire January 6 carnival came out of the blue, a complete surprise to the organs of state security? Heck, if Pelosi’s daughter hadn’t been there to film it, we might not know anything!

Biden Administration

“Doug Emhoff emerges as the face of Biden’s fight against antisemitism” [Politico]. “Emhoff is not terribly religious — and admits as much. He grew up in Old Bridge, N.J., a community with a fair number of Jews. He attended a temple there and was bar mitzvahed. But he was largely secular, exhibiting the type of faith common among his generation: spiritually connected but observant mainly on the High Holidays. That changed when his wife, Kamala Harris, assumed the vice presidency.” • I’ll bet it did.

“The Dominoes of Debt Limit Default” [Third Way]. “The United States will hit the debt limit in 2023. But incredible uncertainty exists around the willingness of Republicans in the 118th Congress to step up and help avoid the certain economic Armageddon that will happen if we do not raise it. Statements indicate they will play a game of chicken—one which will ensure that if the United States defaults, there will be economic turmoil.23 And even a brief default could throw so much sand in the gears of our economy that another much worse scenario might play out—including a financial crisis or recession.” • So abolish the debt limit in the lame duck. It was “a bad idea whose time has come” when passed in 1986.


GA: “Democratic Sen. Warnock wins Georgia runoff against Walker” [Associated Press]. “Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock defeated Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Georgia runoff election Tuesday, ensuring Democrats an outright majority in the Senate for the rest of President Joe Biden’s current term and capping an underwhelming midterm cycle for the GOP in the last major vote of the year. With Warnock’s second runoff victory in as many years, Democrats will have a 51-49 Senate majority, gaining a seat from the current 50-50 split with John Fetterman’s victory in Pennsylvania. There will be divided government, however, with Republicans having narrowly flipped House control…. ‘I often say that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children,’ declared Warnock, a Baptist pastor and his state’s first Black senator. ‘Georgia, you have been praying with your lips and your legs, your hands and your feet, your heads and your hearts. You have put in the hard work, and here we are standing together.'” • A vote is of prayer [puts head in hands]. What kind of prayer was this, champ?

To be fair, Warnock should do very well on South Carolina 2024 and 2028. For obvious reasons.

GA: “What the Georgia Runoff Revealed” [Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic]. “With Warnock’s victory over Republican Herschel Walker, Democrats have defeated every GOP Senate and gubernatorial candidate endorsed by Donald Trump this year in the five states that flipped from supporting him in 2016 to backing Joe Biden in 2020—Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona. Coming even amid widespread discontent over the economy, this year’s Democratic sweep against the Trump-backed candidates underscores the continuing resistance to the former president’s influence. In particular, Warnock’s decisive margins in Atlanta and its suburbs yesterday extended the Democratic dominance of white-collar (and usually racially diverse) metropolitan areas, as varied as the suburbs of Detroit and Philadelphia and the booming hot spots of Phoenix and Madison. ‘The huge question after the election of 2020 was whether the suburbs would snap back to the GOP column after Trump was no longer on the ballot,’ Ben Wikler, the Democratic Party chair in Wisconsin, told me. ‘What we saw in 2022 was suburbs continuing to trend toward Democrats.'” • Where the votes were:


“Trump special counsel subpoenas officials in three states for communications” [The Hill]. “The Justice Department has issued a series of subpoenas to officials in three states, nodding to an expansion of its inquiry into the false elector scheme pursued by the 2020 Trump campaign…. The subpoenas were among the first signed by newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith and are a signal the Justice Department is pushing ahead in two probes centered on former President Trump: the Jan. 6 investigation and the case tied to the mishandling of White House records at Mar-a-Lago. The subpoenas ask the county clerks — those for Dane County, Wis., Maricopa County, Ariz., and Wayne County, Mich. — to detail any communications with ‘Donald J. Trump, or any employee or agent of, or attorney for, the Trump Campaign.’ The documents then list 19 key allies of the campaign, a group that includes Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and John Eastman as well as official campaign attorneys and advisers such as Boris Epshteyn.” • I’ve always thought this was the avenue to pursue (though I only focused on Trump’s call to Georgia).

“Inside the turmoil roiling No Labels’ unity ticket presidential campaign” [Politico]. • What a shame.

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

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IA: “How Iowa Democrats could have saved the caucuses” [Bleeding Heartland]. “Iowa Democratic leaders might have avoided this outcome if they had addressed problems with the caucus system a long time ago…. Iowa Democratic leaders might have avoided this outcome if they had addressed problems with the caucus system a long time ago…. For many years, when top Iowa Democrats could have been working with the DNC to make the caucuses more inclusive, their priority was to maintain a united front with New Hampshire against all who might upend the calendar. That alliance preserved our first-in-the-nation status in 1984 and beyond, but is way past its sell-by date now.”

IA: “Don’t lose sight of what’s important, Iowa Democrats” [Bleeding Heartland]. “f you poured truth serum down the throats of Iowa Democratic leaders, they would admit the caucuses are a quirky process that is more time consuming for participants than simply voting in a primary election. That flaw with the caucus structure undermines the near mythological status accorded to Iowa. Those who work on caucus night are left out and could not be counted. So were people who could not set aside two or three hours to stand shoulder to shoulder in a school lunchroom or a church meeting room. Those who were out of town could not participate, either, because there was no absentee ballot option. And then there were the problems for interested Democrats who could not drive at night, or who were fearful of venturing out in nasty winter weather, or who were in poor health. Brennan and other Iowa Democratic leaders should agree on some painful facts, chief among them that the party’s most important task should be recruiting, training, equipping and supporting strong candidates to run for local and state offices. The outcome of recent Iowa elections underscores that uncomfortable reality for Democrats. A Democrat last occupied the governor’s office in 2010. That also was the last time the party held majorities in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate. And Democrats last had a majority in one legislative chamber (the Senate) in 2016. Iowa Democratic leaders should not allow their attention to be diverted by a no-win fight over which state gets to go first in 2024 in helping to choose the Democratic nominee for president.”

IA: “Iowa Democrats Ask: Without the First-in-the-Nation Caucuses, Who Are We, Really?” [New York Times]. If they don’t already know… “[Rob Sand, the Iowa state auditor] was the sole Democrat to survive in statewide and federal elections in last month’s midterms. Democrats lost their last member of Congress from Iowa, Representative Cindy Axne. Tom Miller, a Democrat who has served nearly 40 years as the state attorney general and seemed invincible, was also defeated… As recently as 2014, Iowa was represented by Senator Tom Harkin, a progressive stalwart who introduced the Americans With Disabilities Act. The state twice voted for Mr. Obama. Yet it lurched more forcefully to the right than any other U.S. state. Thirty-one counties that voted for Mr. Obama in 2012 pivoted to Donald J. Trump in 2016. Mr. Biden failed to win back any of them in 2020. Explanations for the partisan reversal run the gamut from the economic distress of lost industrial jobs, to latent biases Mr. Trump enabled, to a broad malaise in rural areas that have been hollowed out by young people’s leaving. ‘The Democratic national message really isn’t resonating in those counties,’ said Mr. Nilles, the party chairman of Linn County, which includes Cedar Rapids, the state’s second-largest city.” • It may be that for the Iowa Democrat Party, ditching the caucuses is a good thing.

SC: “‘Emotional’ moment: Inside Biden’s rollout of Democratic primary lineup that moves up South Carolina” [USA Today]. “Rep. Jim Clyburn was preparing to attend a state dinner at the White House for the visiting French president when he got a call from Joe Biden. The president wanted to tell the South Carolina Democrat personally that he was recommending his home state move to the front of the presidential primary calendar, making it the party’s premier contest. ‘That’s the first I heard of it,’ Clyburn said.” Oh, come on. I bet Clyburn uses that line a lot. More: “Clyburn said he spoke to Biden earlier in the year about keeping South Carolina, which has a large Black population but is not a battleground state, in the early window. He emphasized the state’s track record of picking presidents.” • Indeed. Obama (bad). Clinton (worse). Biden (even worse, if your metric is the body count). Big hat tip to the South Carolina political establishment and the Black Misleadership Class. Harris 2024!

Realignment and Legitimacy

The fish rots from the head:

“What Makes Fascism Fascist?” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. “While authoritarian conservatives can countenance a break with constitutional legality, they would prefer this to originate within the existing elite of the state, in aristocratic statesmen of long-standing or in the high ranks of the military, for example. Fascists strive for a putsch ‘from below,’ originating from their own cadre. In general, mass mobilization is a desideratum of fascists, while conservatives generally would prefer to not stir up the public and disturb the social order. Stanley Payne writes: ‘Most fascist movements did not achieve true mass mobilization, but it was nonetheless characteristic that such was their goal, for they always sought to transcend the elitist parliamentary cliquishness of poorly mobilized liberal groups or the sectarian exclusiveness and reliance on elite manipulation often found in the authoritarian right.’ Michael Mann: ‘What essentially distinguishes fascists from the many military and monarchical dictatorships of the world is this ’bottom-up’ and violent quality of its paramilitarism.’ While the paramilitaries do employ real violence, their political role is far more complex than mere thuggery. The paramilitaries themselves function as a kind of propaganda: they cannot hope to actually fight and defeat the state’s existing security forces. Mann, again: ‘Paramilitarism thus offered them a distinctive approach to electoral democracy and existing elites, both of which they actually despised. Paramilitarism must always be viewed as entwined with the other two main fascist power resources: in electoral struggle and in the undermining of elites. It was paramilitarism – caging the fascists, coercing their opponents, winning the support or respect of bystanders – that enabled fascists to do far more than their mere numbers could. Thus paramilitarism was violence, but it was always a great deal more than violence. It certainly did not confer enough effective violence for fascists to stage coups if that meant taking on the state’s army. Paramilitary was not the equivalent of military power.'” • The whole piece is worth a careful read.

“What Democrats and Republicans Expect From U.S. Foreign Policy” [Morning Consult]. Handy chart:

If there were a third chart, that considered the views of those who were neither Democrat nor Republican, I wonder what it would show?

“A Liberal Patriot Vision for Freedom in the 21st Century” [The Liberal Patriot]. Ruy Teixeira, still in business, after his “coaliton of the ascendant” disintegrated. “For all the talk of their demise in recent years, basic liberal values — such President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms — remain widely popular around the world. But talk of values in America’s political debates and foreign policy discussions has tended to drift away from these core freedoms and toward more diffuse ideals that transform just about every issue under the sun into a question of human rights. However meritorious these issues may well be, the end result is a loss of focus when it comes to incorporating American values into foreign policy. Instead, America should shift its focus back to the values of Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and worship, freedom from want and fear.” • Maybe, as they say in AA, clean our own side of the street first?


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) is accelerating New York (hospitalization) is increasing, 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.

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• I haven’t been following the tripledemic (RSV, flu, Covid) closely. Here’s a long thread from a pediatric perspective:

(Here is an unrolled version of the thread.) Readers, what are you seeing?

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• Great mask discipline at the Royal Australian College of Surgeons:

Oh, wait…

* * *


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 :

1.9%. Yesterday was 2.3% (4.1%). Distinct slackening (remember, this data is smoothed). Then again, as the grey Fauci Line shows, we are at the same level today as we were in the last peak (except of course this time the pandemic is “over”).


Wastewater data (CDC), December 3:

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

I am not happy with the airports at all, this holiday season. JFK/LGA:



Looks like Los Angeles County got its testing fired up for the first time. Nevertheless.

December 1:

NOT UPDATED And MWRA data, December 1:

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

• “Santa Clara County COVID Levels Rising in Wastewater Samples” [NBC Bay Area]. “Santa Clara County health leaders in a Tuesday briefing said there is a clear sign that COVID rates are rising, adding the county may see even more people contract coronavirus than what was reported during the omicron peak in January. The amount of virus detected in wastewater shows Santa Clara County will likely soon see even more cases and hospitalizations, officials said. ‘Our wastewater numbers are absolutely skyrocketing,’ Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said. ‘There’s a ton of virus circulating. If you want to be healthy for the holidays, you need to take action and the first on the list is to get boosted.’ The county reports 25% of eligible residents who are eligible for a bivalent booster have received one.” • Sara Cody is good; she made the correct early call in 2020 on how serious Covid was. And even she won’t mention non-pharmaceutical interventions.


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.

NOT 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 6:

Lambert here: I see increase, but not acceleration.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,107,794 – 1,106,990 = 804 (804 * 365 = 293,460 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).

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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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The Bezzle: “Bankman-Fried, Ellison tap attorneys as FTX probes ramp up” [Reuters]. “Bankman-Fried has retained Mark S. Cohen, of Cohen & Gresser, Bankman-Fried’s spokesperson Mark Botnick said in an emailed statement. Cohen could not be reached for comment… David Mills, a professor at Stanford Law School, is consulting on the matter for Bankman-Fried, Botnick said. Mills did not respond to requests for comment…. Cohen, a former assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, recently defended Ghislaine Maxwell in her sex trafficking trial. Bankman-Fried had previously hired Martin Flumenbaum of law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, but the law firm said last month it was no longer representing him due to conflicts.” • Looks like SBF found some change under the couch cushions.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 60 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 7 at 1:37 PM EST.

Xmas Pregame Festivities

“Secrets of the Christmas Tree Trade” [New York Magazine]. “Christmas trees are big business in New York. A lot of people see the quaint plywood shacks that appear on sidewalks just before Thanksgiving, each with its own tiny forest of evergreens, and they imagine that every one is independently owned, maybe by jolly families of lumberjacks looking to make a few holiday bucks. That’s what I thought, anyway. In reality, a few eccentric, obsessed, sometimes ruthless tycoons control the sale of almost every single tree in the city. They call themselves “tree men,” and they spend 11 months a year preparing for Christmastime — which, to them, is a blistering 30-day sprint to grab as much cash as they can.”

Sports Desk

“Major League Baseball used at least two types of balls again this year, and evidence points to a third” [Insider]. “Over the next few months, [Meredith Wills, a Society for American Baseball Research award-winning astrophysicist] and Insider — with whom Wills exclusively shared her research — worked together to collect game balls for her to painstakingly deconstruct, weigh, and analyze. What she found was striking: In addition to that small number of older juiced balls and the newer dead balls, Wills found evidence that a third ball was being used at stadiums across the majors…. According to Wills’ data, MLB deployed this third baseball alongside the dead ball in 2022, with production starting as early as January – six months before [Rob Manfred, the commissioner of MLB] promised a one-ball season…. [P]erhaps even more interesting than the apparent existence of the third ball itself is where we tended to find it. Though the overwhelming majority of baseballs we obtained were dead, 36 of them fit the bill for what Wills dubbed the “Goldilocks ball:” not too heavy, not too light — but just right. Of those, we found most in one of three situations: Postseason games, including the World Series; The All-Star Game and Home Run Derby; Regular-season games that used balls with special commemorative stamps — such as a Texas Rangers 50th anniversary ball — on the outer leather. The only Goldilocks balls we obtained from the regular season that did not have commemorative stamps were from Yankees games.” • Hmm.

The Gallery

Fish (1864):

Fish (1921):

Our Famously Free Press

“Kanye, Elon, Trump: Why the News Cycle Is Trapped in a Narcissist Vortex” [Molly Jong-Fast, Vanity Fair]. “[M]aybe we, in the media, grew too comfortable giving oxygen to nefarious people saying terrible things—easy fodder for blaring chyrons and inst-scandals.” Ya thinik? More: “Whatever the cause of this horrible churn, we should collectively try to get out. We [who’s we?] deserve better than near constant stories of rich men who seem to be careening toward disaster and taking us along with them. I’ll pass on dinner with Trump and Ye at Mar-a-Lago, or a rocket ride with Musk to Mars.” • Every part of this article is seamlessly great, including the author and the name of the magazine.

Zeitgeist Watch

Stoller is right, I think this perception is important, and I haven’t seen it articulated in this way:

“Very off.” I would say the Jackpot is casting a shadow from the future into our present (although of course Covid must have a lot to do with it).

But did they give back the house?

“Balenciaga says it will drop lawsuit against production company in new statement” [Independent]. “‘Our current process for content validation has failed, and we recognise the need to do better,’ the company said [in a statement]. ‘On the internal side, we nominate with immediate effect an image board responsible for evaluating the nature of our content from concept to final assets, including legal, sustainability and diversity expertise.'” • Except every image is already meticulously reviewed; this is fashion photography in the fashion industry, after all. So what’s the real value-add, here? Anyhow, the story is dying, so everything is good. (Meanwhile, are the products still on the market?)

Class Warfare

“TV News Covered British Royal Visit 5,668% More Than Largest Academic Strike in U.S. History” [Adam Johnson, The Column]. “ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, and CNN all have a dedicated ‘royal expert,’ ‘royal correspondent,’ or ‘royal commentator.’ … ABC, CBS, and CNN do not have a “labor expert” or a dedicated labor reporter of any kind. NBC News does, Eli M. Rosenberg, but he has not covered the University of California academic strike. … None of the Sunday morning talk shows, NBC News’s Meet the Press, CBS News’s Face The Nation, ABC News’s This Week, or CNN’s State of the Union—which set the agenda for what people in Washington are supposed to care about that week—have covered the California labor strike since it began in November 14. CNN, which has over 500 hours of news to fill in the three weeks since the strike began, hasn’t done a single segment on it. The largest academic strike in U.S. history is simply a non-story to TV news outlets.”

“Washington DC sues Amazon over withheld delivery driver tips” [Channel News Asia]. “The District of Columbia attorney general’s office on Wednesday sued Amazon.com Inc and its Amazon Logistics subsidiary alleging the biggest online retailer had withheld tips from delivery drivers. Washington Attorney General Karl Racine said the company ‘tricked consumers into thinking they were increasing drivers’ compensation when Amazon was actually diverting tips to reduce its own labor costs and increase profits’ through its Amazon Flex service. Amazon Flex drivers use their own vehicles to deliver goods and groceries ordered through programs like Prime Now and Amazon Fresh. The FTC alleged the company kept drivers’ tips over a 2-1/2 year period and stopped the practice after learning of the FTC investigation in 2019, the FTC said in 2021. The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, seeks civil penalties for every violation and a court order to bar Amazon from re-engaging in the practice. Last year under a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Amazon paid $61.7 million to more than 140,000 drivers.”

News of the Wired

The Internet is a wisdom destruction machine:

I’m pleased Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes is finally (legitimately) on YouTube:

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

HH writes: “From Canyon of the Eagles, in the Texas Hill Country about 60 miles northwest of Austin, the iconic cactus called prickly pear or nopal (Opuntia).”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. fresno dan

    I was wondering why Iowa as a state that is so important to the dems nominating process. I had assumed it generally voted for the republican presidential nominee. But I was wrong.
    I think one could make a case that Iowa can go to the dems, and therefore is maybe a good surrogate for the midwest…

    1. Another Scott

      Let me get this straight, the Democrats are moving the primary calendar away from a state like Iowa, because it’s no longer friendly to the party, right to South Carolina, which as we all know is a bastion of liberal, progressive values.

      Lambert has it right, South Carolina is all about ensuring that corrupt, corporate wing of the Democratic party gets to decide who the nominee is.

      1. Tom Doak

        Yes, but one can hope it will backfire on them. Instead of using the SC primary to short-circuit the momentum of a challenger to the status quo, they will be broadcasting on Day One which candidate is the corporate-backed choice, and hopefully giving voters in other states a chance to reject their favored candidate. Being a frontrunner is not an easy position to win from.

        1. jsn

          “Some party hack decreed that the people
          had lost the government’s confidence
          and could only regain it with redoubled effort.
          If that is the case, would it not be be simpler,
          If the government simply dissolved the people
          And elected another?”


          Plus ca change…

      2. Carolinian

        Hey smile when you say that.

        SC is probably no more corrupt than your average state but what it is is Republican. Clyburn is Sideshow Bob with some control over a Democratic faction that is barely respiring. After all our African American senator is a Republican.

        So the real question is not why first but why not last? It’s as though the Repubs made their first state Massachusetts.

      3. eg

        I assumed that this development was a result both of a payoff to Clyburn and because of Biden’s risible performance in the Iowa caucuses — the latter having been for me the highlight of the night, and an embarrassment not even the app cock-up could obscure.

    2. Louis Fyne

      historically winning the Iowa Caucus (for either party) does not correlate to winning the nomination.

      While I shed no tear for Iowa, the replacement should have been a “Super Tuesday” type primary in the first week of March or last week of February—-not substituting SC for IA.

      1. ambrit

        Fully agree with the “Super Tuesday” idea. Make it a week in the Spring where all the primaries, nationwide have to happen. This could rationally be framed as a Federalism issue since we are speaking about National level offices. Include both Senate and House races and we begin to see something more easily guarded against corruption. (Election finance reform is a question for another day.)

        1. hunkerdown

          Agreed. The only justification for staggered primaries is to enable the Parties to lie to select constituencies. There are people who really believe in the politico myth, who think that the ability of a Party to strategically hide or reveal its multiple faces (poly-tete-ien) is valuable. With that I disagree, to put it mildly.

          1. John

            Then again, compare the candidates who emerged from boss-ridden brokered conventions with those who emerge from the primaries. Of course, the selection of Biden 2020 was the modern day equivalent of the smoke filled room.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        The whole point of Iowa going first was that it’s a small, inexpensive state so unknown or dark horse candidates could get noticed and maybe get a fundraising boost from a win or good showing.

        If you went with a Supet Tuesday kinda thing, you’d eliminate everyone but those backed by Big Donors.
        Corporate Dems would never lose…

    3. ambrit

      As Hamlet famously ‘said’: “There is something rotten in Demmark.” (Which just goes to show that deviancy and corruption are ‘aristo’ qualities in any age.)
      Next up, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Reds.”

        1. ambrit

          Well, considering the geography of Demmark, that should be ice-slanders. However, I will admit that my aspersion was a blow below the belt-way. Which begs the question; how low can you go? By now, the Dems are positively sub-terranean. Look to South Carolina as a rather outre exurb of the Dem Mark and we become, not only like Eliot’s “Hollow Men,” but fated to spend eternity in The Hollow Earth.
          Centredness is everything the ‘experts’ tell us. For the faithful, there are only Three Ways.
          Eliot poetry: https://allpoetry.com/the-hollow-men
          Speaking of hollows, here’s Dylan with some subterranean homesick blues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGxjIBEZvx0
          T S Eliot and Bob Dylan are telling the same story, a story Gilgamesh would understand.

    4. Louis Fyne

      The Democrats started the modern Iowa caucus to essentially for the party bosses to keep the plebs in line.

      And functionally, the logistics-process of the Iowa caucus (start time, voting process, length) means that the electorate is skewed to salaried folks and retirees (also known as the NPR crowd—not being pejorative, just a fact)

      If a Martian came saw a flow chart for the Iowa caucus, she’d think that it was set up by Republicans to keep the poors out.

      1. flora

        It may have started that way but in 2016 Bernie won most of the caucus states, leading the Dem estab to ask those states to change to a primary system instead of a caucus system. Some state Dem parties agreed and some did not for 2020. So, yes, still trying to get the results the estab wants.

      2. Late Introvert

        I agree with keep the poors out. Even in my liberal college town in Eastern Iowa, the 2020 Cockups included a very large contingent of us – from the working class East side of town. We were quite numerous and boisterous, much to the consternation of the other groups. The Biden camp comprised about 15 elderly folks (also no put-down).

    5. Pelham

      Why should any political party — none of which have any actual legal standing — have the authority to mess around with any state’s voting procedures?

      1. scott s.

        You could turn that around and ask, why should any state have the authority to tell a political party who can campaign for office under its brand?

        But I think the reality is that in the early 1890s states enacted the “Australian Ballot” system, in which government (states) became the exclusive purveyor of ballots, which would be voted in secret. In legislating that, political parties through their incumbents maintained a degree of control over the ballot design, primarily by providing for party identification but also with “straight ticket” provisions. In the progressive era states extended their reach by mandating party primaries in order to have ballot access. The end result is a compromise since the vast majority of office holders see value in party identification. In my state local (county) elections are held as non-partisan, meaning no party identification on ballots and open primary with top two advancing unless one has a majority, who then is declared elected. I’m not convinced that has made any significant difference in the conduct of campaigning, though it is hard to evaluate in my state since there are so few county elected offices (mayor, prosecuting attorney, councilman) and no cities or other governmental layers other than a unique entity known as “Office of Hawaiian Affairs”.

  2. Chris Smith

    On the one hand, I am glad to see New Hampshire possibly losing this “first primary in the nation” status. On the other, if they wanted to get feisty, what is to stop them from banning any political party that retaliates against them (by for example excluding delegates) from the general election ballot? That would be an interesting fight to watch!

      1. John Beech

        In your opinion, in what world – other than politics – is NH relevant? Take your time, I’ll wait.

        Me? My preferred choice would be – in whatever order you decide – all 50 states in sequence before it comes back around to the first one. And if another state joins the union, they’re tail end Charlie.

        This way all the states get a shot at the corn-alcohol-in-the-gasoline gravy-train Iowa extracted from the politicians. Do the math, it costs more than it helps – but Iowa grows lots of corn!

        1. Late Introvert

          They use oil to make oil, it’s insane, and the costs are mostly off the books and in the rivers and lakes and streams. Iowa’s water is gross and the statehouse is owned by Big Ag. Yuck. The ads that Iowa’s Corn Growers air on the Hawkeye games are false advertising and I’m thinking of filing a lawsuit.

  3. fresno dan

    Matt Stoller
    I hear from right-wing small business owners that employees are just not showing up, and I also hear from left-wing professors that students are just not showing up. This dynamic got much worse during Covid. Something is very off.
    So in this morning Postings, there is a post about real wages for working people. Despite all the propaganda about rising wages, in real terms people are losing money. And when I was young (yes, we rode dinosaurs to college) the saying was, to get a good job, get a good education. Thing of it is, everybody understands that is total bullsh*t today.
    My wife’s aunt went into a home – she is over 100 years old. A week after she was admitted, my wife found that she had not been given her legally prescribed by a licensed physican medications. WHY???
    It turns out there is some “policy” that the person who dispenses the medications has to have written authoriation from some contrived functionary (the person is NOT a doctor or nurse). Why didn’t the person do this??? Because that person was home sick. There was no alternatice to that person to allow dispensing of the medication. So my wife is filing all the complaints (I know a little about filing complaints about nursing and elder care homes) as well as complaints to our state senator and representatives.
    So the aunt is getting her meds, but the consequences seem….inconsequential.
    Something is very off….

    1. enoughisenough

      “And when I was young (yes, we rode dinosaurs to college) the saying was, to get a good job, get a good education. Thing of it is, everybody understands that is total bullsh*t today.”

      100% correct. But that’s not because education is a waste, it’s because THERE ARE NO GOOD JOBS

      1. ambrit

        The admonition to get an education to get a good job was a confidence game from the very start. There are Universities, and there are glorified Vocational Colleges.
        At Universities, one, if properly indoctrinated, makes “contacts” and develops a ‘circle of like minded friends’ upon which one’s career is based. Networking.
        At Vocational Colleges, one learns the techniques and methodologies that make many constructive endeavours successful. The successful graduate of a Vocational College usually ends up working for the successful graduate of an University.

        1. albrt

          I am not aware of any situation where YMMV with regard to this distinction. Although I suppose there are institutions where both types of students enroll.

      2. scott s.

        Well, I suppose that depends on what one considers a “good” education. But in the US, certainly looking at Euro efforts to move away from strictly classical education resulted in creation of “land grant” college system, intended to advance the “agricultural and mechanical arts”, and being created in the midst of a civil war, also to create a pool of prospective military officers. The later in the century the creation of the “normal school” system and the general process of credentializing (if that’s a word) occupations, often under state mandate.

        I guess the question is, is a “good education” one that delivers a credential? If so what is the value of that credential? Is a HS or college “diploma/degree” an actual credential or just a certificate of attendance?

      1. albrt

        I would check the definition of “real time” before you sign up. Online brokerages offer no-fee trading in exchange for the right to front-run your trades by a few milliseconds.

  4. Wukchumni

    Now, warning lights are flashing down at crypto quality control
    Somebody wanted their gotten gains out of a glory hole
    There’s rumors in the numismatrix and anger in the town
    Somebody pulled a lever, and no reinforcement came down
    There’s a meetin’ with an attorney, they’re tryin’ to trace the amount
    There’s a leak in an online chatroom, there’s diarrhea of the mouth
    Somewhere in the corridors someone was soon fleeced
    Goodness me, could this be late stage crypto disease?

    FTX caretaker was crucified for sleeping at his post
    Refusing to be pacified, it’s him they blame the most
    whatever is in the cupboard, the Bahamas done seize
    Everyone concerned about late stage crypto disease
    There’s panic on the internet, emoji nooses in knots
    Most lack sympathy, some come on as bought & paid for bots
    Some blame the management, some the employees
    Everybody knows it’s late stage crypto disease

    Yeah, now the Winklevoss are disgusted, out a billion unwilling
    Innocence is injured, somebody made a killing
    Everyone seeks withdrawals, everyone agrees that
    These are classic symptoms of a monetary mirage squeeze
    On the internet they talk about the virtual tulip curse
    usability is useless, worthiness is worse
    History boils over, there’s a frozen virtual floral frieze
    Cyberscribes invent words that mean “late stage crypto disease’

    Andrew Ross Sorkin declared, “I’m not surprised to see you here
    You’ve got Kubrick stare from smirking, laughing @ newly austere
    I don’t know how you came to get the do-gooder need
    But worst of all young man, you’ve got late stage crypto disease”

    He was pushing NYT subscriptions, and said, “You are depressed
    But I’m glad you came to see me to get this off your manly chest…
    Come back and see me later, next mirage money mogul please
    Send in another victim of late stage crypto disease”

    Industrial Disease, by Dire Straits


  5. Laughingsong

    “Something that used to be a go-to resource [online] that you found really useful and is now gone”

    Alta Vista

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Not to plug Yandex (I can’t register because they demand a ph#) but since Firefox let me pick ANY search engine for my toolbar (instead of the old five bad choices list) I’m seeing Yandex excel at pulling up arcane data whereas Google & Friends would have given me ads and bad results. Not true for every topic, but clearly better with almost anything not involving the United States.

      I’d recommend using Yandex as a backup search option when you have trouble finding what you’re actually looking for however they are ramping up their efforts to become the Eurasian Google (you can play games on Yandex now, etc.) so eventually I fear they’ll crapify under the weight of a Google like suite of data gathering tricks/tools.

      1. Lex

        I gave up on using anything but Yandex when I’m actually looking for information rather than just getting to a site.

  6. griffen

    I guess SBF has access to pretty good legal defense, no matter the expense. Clearly it appears he should stop talking, but I truly encourage that he continues to speak his mind.

    All of a sudden the market goes whoosh and see quickly your hard earned or perhaps imagined hard earned gains in FTT vanish. I look forward to a future edition of the film classic, Trading Places. Just replace the crotchety Duke brothers with SBF and his fuzzy math gee whiz kids.

    Turn the machines back on !

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      “… Bankman-Fried’s spokesperson Mark Botnick…” as noted above.

      I’m assuming Mr. Botnick is an adult with well practiced social and business skills, so that we can thank our deity of choice that the flood of his dimwittery and the attendant news churn will now abate while the professionals in the room figure out how to grind him, his associates, his charity, and possibly his parents, into the smallest pieces possible. Preferably painfully.

    2. Matton

      If that Slimy Little Jerk isn’t tried, convicted and does time, we will know that the Democrats are completely corrupt.

      Am going to file an exemption from withholding and let the government come after me for that they think I owe. Maybe I will pay, maybe not. The barometer is whether SLJ does time or not.

  7. hunkerdown

    Kudos to Warnock for his gaffe.

    “a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children,”

    Well, it is. If it were anything but a religious construct, we would have final power to enact and veto actual policy, but that’s not the purpose of the institution. The purpose of the institution is to provide a venue for prayerfulness toward the church of state and to generate a sense of investment in our ruling class and their moral theater.

  8. fresno dan

    “Kanye, Elon, Trump: Why the News Cycle Is Trapped in a Narcissist Vortex” [Molly Jong-Fast, Vanity Fair].
    This reminds me so much of a Simpsons TreeHouse of Horror episode (Just Don’t Look) where a supernatural lighting storm causes the advertising mascots to come to life and cause havoc. The solution, is to ignore them

    of course, the fact that our market based press is going to cover what is attention grabbing over what is important is not solvable. I resolved not to read another article about Trump and failed miserably…

    1. semper loquitur

      That article was terrible, even for the worthless Jong-Fast. Of a sudden, she’s a woman of the people, exclaiming in horror over the “narcissism” at play in our media and the adulation of a wealthy man. She just summed up a huge percentage of our media, politics, and popular culture. Is she really that unreflective?

  9. ChrisPacific

    Not mentioned in the discussion of strep throat is that if improperly treated in children it can lead to rheumatic fever, which can permanently damage the heart and greatly increase the risk of heart failure later in life.

    This is generally considered a third world disease, as it requires not just an initial infection but an inadequate or nonexistent healthcare response. We have it in New Zealand, to our shame, because of the combination of poverty and poor housing stock with inadequate or no heating. It seems likely that it will become more common in the US as well.

    1. Yves Smith

      Yes, I once had an untreated strep infection in college and they were shocked when I went to health services 6 weeks later feeling like crap that it has not turned into rheumatic fever. But it may be less likely to evolve that way in adults.

      1. Harold

        My mother had what used to be called “scarlet fever” (strep throat) and had to spend a over a month in quarantine, in those pre-antibiotic days — during time which she claims to have read my grandmother’s complete set of Dickens works. She was seven. (I always felt inferior as a reader after hearing this story, as I was a late reader, myself, and still haven’t read Martin Chuzzlewit).

        Be that as it may, the majority of people do recover from strep throat, because it doesn’t attack their heart valves, causing problems later on.

        On the other hand, my brother-in-law had it, and because it is a-symptomatic, his parents didn’t give him, or he didn’t take, the prescribed penicillin you are supposed to take — for the rest of your life.
        Although a strapping fellow, he died in my sister’s arms at the age of 28, a week before he was scheduled to be operated on for a valve transplant, leaving two toddlers.
        A year or so later my widowed sister heard that her neighbor had also been scheduled for a valve transplant, and she lamented, “Why did Dale have to die and my neighbor is all right?” But the neighbor died, too. On the operating table.
        Strep can be very bad and it was experiences like this that made doctors at first too generous with penicillin, after it was invented.

    2. Bugs

      I didn’t know that. My mother had rheumatic fever as a girl in the 40s and now she’s got rheumatoid arthritis, pretty bad, but she can still do stairs and mostly walks without a cane. A couple heart issues but only lately. She’s 85. Hope she can keep going for a while longer!

  10. Pat

    So Warnock wins by a little over 2%, spends possibly upwards of $100 a vote, most of which came from outside Georgia, against possibly the worst candidate of this cycle (although Oz was also really bad) and Democrats are spinning this as a huge victory?

    I realize that I am not Dem friendly, but this is like looking at the Biden Trump election and missing the huge cracks in the victory. They really really don’t have a clue how vulnerable they are. Walker was so bad that Warnock should have been able to win this without a run off, but that would take at least pretending to listen to the voters and care about their issues and concerns. But hey let’s give Warnock credit for being religious enough not to do that.

    1. fresno dan

      It is like missing that the presidential election was between Biden and Trump…Trump and Biden were our choices….Walker and Warnock were Georgia voters choices – Warnock and Walker.
      I guess there could theoretically be worse choices…I am pretty sure next election, although it seems improbable, even worse choices…

  11. thoughtful person

    My 2 cents from Central Va: Around here anecdotally many contacts report covid or colds.

    I would argue the best data we have now is waste water and hospitalizations (though this is somewhat of a lagging indicator). Both are going up and imo important to compare to same time of year in prior years.

    If the hypothesis that covid19 damages our immune systems and that covid19 reinfections lead to worse outcomes things don’t look so good for the let it rip western strategy….unless the goal is population reduction of course!

    1. MaryLand

      I can’t help but wonder if this is the plan of the G7 and other multinational organizations to deal with the problem of too many people for the amount of resources. Not saying they planned the pandemic, but their response to it seems pretty similar in most nations.

      1. marku52

        LAT is daily posting updates about rapid increases in hospitalizations. Recommending indoor masking. If trend continues, indoor mask mandates will come into play.

        AS I’m about 700 miles N up I5, I expect it to be here soon. At the moment not too bad here, tho lots of colds and flu(?)

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      “Culling the Herd” was my intial thought, way back in fab-march 2020.
      haven’t seen anything to change that initial thought.

      as i reported earlier this week…youngest(16) came down with what turned out to be Type A Flu*…did a test panel for flu, covid, rsv and strep.
      the little clinic(which used to be a little hospital…where my wife was born, no less) won’t even let you in the door if you have even a runny nose(its Cedar Season,lol)…they come out in moonsuits to the parking lot, after taking yer info, etc over the fone.
      HCW i talked to during this, as well as my doctor in fredericksburg, 50 miles south…(and the folks at the brady hospital, 20 miles north, today*)…all say that flu is the big deal out here at the moment…with rsv for the little ones…and a few covid cases scattered throughout(mostly old folks).
      anecdata and jungledrums from non-HCW folks indicates that the flu is at epidemic levels, here.
      medicine shelves at the dollar store, the one grocery store and the one pharmacy…as well as walmart in brady…are all rather empty and forlorn.
      all the vitamin C is gone,too.
      and the lysol.

      and weirdly…given recent history…suddenly lots of people are wearing masks, now.
      save, notably, about half the HCW’s in the clinic and hospital, respectively.

      (* youngest is on the mend…tamiflu real quick…and the covid vitamin cocktail even quicker, since i keep it on hand.
      eldest presented with a hurt leg last evening, back of his right calf…wanted me to look at it.
      i saw a ropy looking blue vein that was hard to the tough…and felt too ignorant of all things vascular to knw, so called emt…they came, said no snakebite, etc, andf go to clinic manana.
      so we did, and just to be safe, they sent us to brady to get a “doppler study”…a start trek level sonogram thing.
      no DVT…or clots at all…but Varicose Veins(he’s 20)
      till waiting to hear from the Nurse Practitioner in town about what this means or what we can do. i already got him some sole inserts for his workboots)

      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘Culling the Herd’ tends to weed out the weak, the old, the stupid, the lame, etc. leaving the remaining herd more healthy on average. If some thought that this was a good idea with this virus, well, it wasn’t. Instead, it seems to be weakening the whole herd and leaving it worse than before. maybe they should think about developing a sterilizing vaccine after all as a matter of priority before it gets really bad.

        1. ambrit

          The problem is, I have yet to read of a sterilizing vaccine for any coronavirus.
          This being the case, The Atlantic, in it’s function as Elite Cheerleader, had an article that cast doubt upon the idea of sterilizing immunity itself. Typical.
          See, propaganda at it’s finest: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/09/sterilizing-immunity-myth-covid-19-vaccines/620023/
          I’m with the cynics on this. Since the Club of Rome Report and the Powell Memo, I have been convinced that perfidy rules our elites behaviour.

  12. Samuel Conner

    re: Warnock’s “a vote is a kind of prayer”,

    I think he does have a point, in the sense that both are expressions of hope that things may become better.

    And, I think one could argue, another point of similarity is that in both cases they are typically futile unless accompanied by concrete action to bring about the desired change.

    (Aside: I think there’s even a biblical precedent for this view of prayer — the first chapter of the Old Testament book “Nehemiah”)

  13. Tommy S

    I’ve got a pretty good back of the napkin estimate of why businesses are having problems hiring people in cities (note that word), for $15 or $18. Death number one. In five years total 500,000 drug overdoses. We have a working population of about 165 million so think about that….. Since ACA passed 60,000 a year have died due to lack of health care, or underinsured. …before their time….720,000. Since Covid one million counted with mortality rates unexpected 200,000 a year since 2020. Total 1,400,000. So now we are up to 2,6 million of working age dead, or more. Sickness, eviction number two: Over 10 million have long covid. There is NO care for these people. They are staying home. If not on the street. Rents in most cities have risen 40% since the bailout of finance and etc 2009, while wages stagnant. There has been a huge forced expulsion of working class people from many cities. And with mostly, no mass transit, they can’t go in to work those jobs, that are often part time anyway. People are doubling and tripling up in submetro housing, 20 somethings living with parents in larger numbers then ever in history, cuz can’t afford rent. And as we know, 50 million people now rely on food banks to even fill out a barely living diet.

      1. ambrit

        Yes. We see something like this around here in America. The religious charities here roughly take the place of the civil services there. American Welfare is now a joke. Civil society is being drowned in a billionaire’s hot tub.

  14. flora

    re: IA dem leaders and the caucus.

    My experience with 2 different Midwestern states’ dem leadership is that they’re part of the larger Dem machine and do what they’re told by the machine bosses in the national committee, even if it means losing candidates that would be good for their states.

    1. flora

      adding from Bleeding Heartland:
      “Iowa Democratic leaders should not allow their attention to be diverted by a no-win fight over which state gets to go first in 2024 in helping to choose the Democratic nominee for president.””

      Iowa’s Dem leaders should not forget how many millions and millions of dollars to the state and local economies the ‘first in the nation’ is worth to Iowa, a significant percentage of state/local media sales, hotel/restaurant sales, etc, and sales tax to the state govt. It’s an important event industry in a small state: the candidates, candidates staffs, reporters, pundits, etc. Imagine the efforts cities go to to keep or attract a pro sports team to local there. Same sort of deal economically. Surprised Bleeding Heartland missed that aspect.

      1. Late Introvert

        Iowa DemRats are clueless to anything but corporate donations, why would they have knowledge of such things?

        The other primary color team will keep their 1st of the nation status, though. It’s curious that is being reported.

  15. curlydan

    I like “Clothes Line Saga”. I always wishfully think of Dick Cheney when I hear “the Vice President’s gone mad”. But my favorite Basement Tape (at least from the original release) is “Going to Acapulco”. There’s something comforting about the sense of resignation expressed. And Garth Hudson’s organ is, as usual, sublime.


  16. Amfortas the hippie

    the Plantidote could be right out that winder over there,lol.
    Canyon of the Eagles is about 60 miles to my east.

    i suspect that all the prickly pears in my little valley(and beyond) are clones of each other. they dont really propagate from seeds, that ive seen…but a pad will break off, curl into a boat/coracle and…next gullywarsher…float downhill til it lodges on something, and start putting out roots where the bottom of the “boat” touches the ground.
    one can eat the whole thing(idk about the roots, which ive discovered can go down a good 10 feet), but for the spines.
    for nopalitos, wait for spring…there’ll be a bunch of little baby pads with little soft green horns that are pre-spines.(there are even now the tiny spines, though…so put the baby pad in some tongs and burn over a fire, or a gas stove…you’ll see the all but invisible spines glowing as the burn.
    be careful to get em all, because they’ll chew up yer alimentary canal.
    taste like green beans, but with an okra-like slime. good with scrambled eggs.
    or wait for july or so, when the fruits(Tunas) are a darkish red…do the same burning process, and peel. seeds are indigestible…and i find that the fruit is better suited to juicing(filter through coffee filter)…i’ve made wine, jelly and hard candy…and pancake syrup when the hard candy didn’t take.
    tastes like a watermelon jolly rancher.
    super healthy, too…and good for type 2 diabetes.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Cacti of the genus Opuntia (prickly pear) are called pānini in Hawaiian. Not native to the Hawaiian Islands, thus considered invasive; very hardy and have spread all over O‘ahu so whatcha gonna do? Good to know their uses as forage.

  17. Mikel

    Notice that the work from home articles are popping up again and little to zero mention about the office and Covid precautions (such as ventilation, etc). There was an article posted a few days or so ago about the effects on commercial real estate and I’m sure those loans are on bankers’ minds.

    Just saw this:

    Thinking about the big profits and stock performance of the last decade, one has to wonder if they are giving too much credit to “in office collaboration” and not enough credit to “easy money from the Fed”.
    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that missing big collaborator’s absence will be felt – no matter how many people they stuff into a room on the same day.

  18. The Rev Kev

    That Royal Australian College of Surgeons has already been deep-sixed. And I see their home twitter page says ‘RACS is the leading advocate for surgical standards, professionalism and surgical education in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.’ OK then.

  19. Mark Hessel

    “Very off.” I would say the Jackpot is casting a shadow from the future into our present (although of course Covid must have a lot to do with it).

    Lambert is the Jackpot a “The Peripheral” reference?

    Love it.

    1. Keith Newman

      @Mark Hessel, 7:09pm
      Answering for Lambert: yes it is. (hoping I’m not out of turn here)
      Lambert has done a very interesting analysis of the Peripheral for Naked Capitalism by the way. Should be able to find it by searching for it on the site.

  20. mudshoes2

    Regarding ‘ Washington DC sues Amazon over withheld delivery driver tip’.

    Perhaps I am misinformed but I had heard that the advent of ‘tipping’ or gratuity began in 1919 beginning with prohibition, in order to supplement the waiter’s & (dry serving) bartender’s leaner wages, or rather to keep those restaurants & hotels in business. Then never let off. Eventually becoming an institutionalized practice only the U.S.A. practiced since we had forgotten the original purpose by the time it was repealed.
    Tipping is an anomaly in every other country. For the most part, the work staff in restaurants & hotels are paid a living wage according to their adjusted economy. Bribes are accepted for the best seat in a restaurant but they are definitely not the U.S. version of $1+ for every drink ordered at a bar.

  21. Lex

    I read the Ganz article. Not impressed though it is interesting. My biggest issue is his use of “liberal” and “conservative” in very US centric terms even when he’s trying to talk about history in foreign countries. It just doesn’t work. Sometimes it works but not always and it’s rather dangerous because US audiences automatically apply what they think of as liberal and conservative.

    Also, he’s working from a really small set of examples (by his own end notes) and applying them as universals. He’s also leaving a whole bunch of historical context out so that his point doesn’t get diluted. And for all that, he ends up at the same caricature of fascism that’s so dangerous because he’s laser focused on the ethno-nationalist outward manifestation of the most obvious historical examples of fascism.

    I’ll continue to beat the drum for Dimitrov’s definition over all others because it not only describes historical fascism but is capable of predicting fascist politics. True he was a communist but the only people who’ve ever bothered to fight fascism have been communists. Fascism is the political manifestation of finance capitalism. Fascism will not look the same in different nations, at different times or with different people.

    There’s a reason it’s economically associated with the combination of state and corporate power. Hitler didn’t just crowd fund his paramilitaries; they were bankrolled by the Krupps, Wall Street, etc. The populism of fascism is always a ruse and the political personality cult is one as well.

    I’m not saying Trump and his movement isn’t fascist. It is proto fascist and trump is a man of finance capitalism. I’m saying that the liberal thinker attempts at examining fascism and it’s potential in the US are doing a bad job because they’re all working from bullshit definitions of fascism and caricatures. And they’ll be as effective against actual fascism as the “liberals” of Germany were.

    1. anon in so cal

      One of Michael Mann’s noteworthy students wrote a compelling essay claiming Trump and his movement were not fascist. Separately, the minute anyone invokes Jan 6, I stop reading. A rag tag bunch (who were apparently let into the chambers?) were going to overthrow the Constitution and gov’t? LOL. Was Ganz asleep 2016-2022 when Dems weaponized the DOJ, FBI, CIA in their attempt to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power and delegitimize 2016?

    2. Harold

      Trump is kosher nationalism. Globalist con men. Financed by same people that financed Bush. Why do you think the Saudi’s financed half Jewish Musk???? They demanded Twitter give kosher nationalism everything. A short sighted move. Nazis were left hegelian ideologies.

    3. Mikel

      “There’s a reason it’s economically associated with the combination of state and corporate power. Hitler didn’t just crowd fund his paramilitaries; they were bankrolled by the Krupps, Wall Street, etc. The populism of fascism is always a ruse and the political personality cult is one as well.”

      Agree. Thinking of Mussolini’s backers as well. Also consider the foreign influence that brings and sustains fascist powers (such as Pinochet in Chile) .
      The connections to the state’s militaries and fascists are overlooked. The officer class isn’t exactly “rubes”. Many are former military and Hitler was actually spying, for German military on the party he would eventually be head of. Mussolini and Hitler were both APPOINTED to their first major national office.
      Not sure about the book, but the article glossed over connections to institutionalized religion/churches – all the way to the top.

    4. spud

      a prime example of fascism was bill clinton. no way could trump ever come close to those fascist policies.

      trump may have been a fraud populist wise, but fascist he was not.

      bill clinton took a meat axe to america, and what we are today, is the direct results of his fascist policies.

  22. Karl

    RE: Chart comparing R and D voter rankings of priorities by issue

    Very interesting chart. I think there are implications here for Biden and his foreign policy team on issues pertaining to Russia, Ukraine and China.

    I was struck that D’s put “upholding democracy globally” a very low #12 (R’s dead last at #14) while “Invasion of Ukraine” was #6. Note that the US stated reason for helping Ukraine is basically to uphold “our values” globally. So I conclude that “Ukraine” is a relatively high priority issue by D’s not for substantive foreign policy reasons but political ones: because Biden supports it. For R’s, support for Ukraine was a low #10, maybe for the same reason.

    Interestingly, for D’s US-China relations and the Iran Nuclear deal are #13 and #14 (dead last) respectively. My conclusion: I don’t think D voters really “get” the importance that Biden is placing on big global power games, “pivot to Asia”, nuclear proliferation, etc. So, political support, even among D’s for helping Ukraine and messing with China over Taiwan seems pretty soft. Considering that “Preventing a global economic crisis” is a pretty high #5 for D’s and #6 for R’s, I would say political support for an aggressive foreign policy against Russia and China — to the extent it exacerbates global economic crises — may well be very soft.

    True, most Americans don’t care much about foreign policy matters ever, which is why they are so easily bamboozled to support endless wars, as long as they aren’t being directly taxed to pay for them or their own kids aren’t fighting them….

    1. Harold

      Republicans support kosher nationalism. Just admit it. It’s just another 2000’s neoconservative stuff. Except this time, they are lying.

  23. petal

    I saw that SBF’s dad cancelled his upcoming classes to focus on helping with his son’s defense. Not sure about the mother cancelling her classes, and what is going on with SBF’s brother. I read she resigned from her position at her Mind The Gap PAC. Not sure if the brother has yet.

    Re NH primary: I never saw a presidential candidate in person until I moved to NH. It’s a much smaller state than NY or MA and so I got to see these people up close and got to listen to their schtick. It really changed politics and presidential campaigns for me. I could see the circus and what goes on behind the scenes, could see these slimeballs up close and read them. You are able to cut through the cr-p a lot faster than seeing the prepared bits on tv. A lot more people get to see them and experience that-it’s almost like an initial, up-close screening/interview. Hard to explain and I’m really tired tonight, sorry. Biden did not do well with people here in the primary.

    1. Carolinian

      For a fun satirical version check out Robert Altman’s mini series Tanner ’88, written by Gary Trudeau. Much of it is in New Hampshire. Eventually Altman and crew came to Atlanta for the actual Dem convention. Some friends and I sat outside a room at the then Omni while they were filming.

    2. Pat

      There is a reason why Biden’s presidential runs were done early on before 2020.

      (And I still say that the lockdown was as much, or possibly even more, about shielding Biden from the public during the presidential campaign as it was about public health.)

  24. Harold

    Let’s note more Kosher nationalism in Germany. Heinreich is of Ashkenazi heritage. My advice to them: give up the Q crap. It’s exposed. Your creating anti-kosher nationalism. Especially in rural areas.

  25. Lunker Walleye

    As a native of the “corn” state, it will be a relief not to go through another election cycle in the spotlight. I caucused for Bernie in both 2016 and 2020. In 2016 our precinct caucus was held in a grade school gym which was packed with Bernie supporters. In 2020 there were probably 10 separate visits from Bernie boosters wanting to know if I were attending the caucus and backing Bernie. The 2020 caucus location site for our precinct moved from one place to the next at the last minute and we ended up at a middle school gym. There were way fewer backers for Bernie. I wondered if it had to do with the change of location. Bernie ended up at the bottom of the pile. The lack of the party ability to come up with an overall winner was infuriating and embarrassing. And with the DNC as the true decider of who the winner is, why put on such a b.s. show? And I wish someone would do an investigative report on why the Register pulled its presidential poll that had run for 70+ years. That was quite fishy.

    Fishy: The two paintings are wonderfully different — I’ve seen the Manet several times and it is realistic with what I’m guessing was an interest in drafting studies before he put paint to canvas. Bonnard has something completely different in mind. It seems like he’s trying hard to show the blue/yellow color scheme and flat background pattern almost as much as his fish. The platter the fish is placed on nods to perspective, but realism doesn’t seem to be Bonnard’s goal. It’s an emotive response. Were preliminary drawings made?

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