2:00PM Water Cooler 1/18/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Black Phoebe (Northern). American Canyon Campground,, San Luis Obispo, California, United States. Here is the “media note” to end all media notes:

NOTES: dawn +0.67hrs; species cut number 11 BNA: Song Initially Peaked Vocalization (“Tieur”). Simple Vocalization (“Tsip”). mf [These calls appear to represent both Initially Peaked Vocalizations (IPVs) and Simple Vocalizations given by a pair of birds (see BNA and Smith, W. J. 1970. Song-like displays of Sayornis species. Behaviour 37: 64-84). All calls given before about 0:26 appear to represent IPVs (moslty “chevron-peaked” forms but with “fully humped” forms given at 0:045 and 0:20-0:25). After 0:26, however, things become more confusing because the IPVs of one bird seem to grade into the Simple Vocalizations of the other, indicating either individual variation in Simple Vocalizations or that one of the birds is giving calls intermediate between Simple Vocalizations and IPVs (see Figure 3 of Smith). Quality changed from 1-2 to 2-1 – CAM – 4 April 2005]. Other Behaviors: Advertise. Habitat: Evergreen Forest, Coniferous Forest, Deciduous Forest, Riparian, Canyon.

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

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

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

Biden Administration

“Biden White House Mounts Absurd Defense on Classified-Document Discoveries” [National Review]. “There are now at least three groups of classified documents that were kept in President Biden’s private office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Wilmington, Del., and yet the White House is sticking with the absurd defense that the president takes handling classified information ‘very seriously.’…. Back on November 2, 2022 — before the midterm elections — one of Biden’s personal lawyers, Patrick Moore, was at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, located in D.C., going through old papers from Biden’s time as vice president. We haven’t gotten much of an explanation as to why, two years into Biden’s presidency, this was happening. Did the coverage of former president Donald Trump’s retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago spur someone on Biden’s team to worry that classified documents had gotten mixed in with Biden’s nonclassified personal papers?… Then, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland, on December 20, President Biden’s personal counsel notified U.S. Attorney John Lausch that additional documents bearing classification markings were identified in the garage of the president’s private residence in Wilmington, Del. And this past weekend, President Biden’s lawyers found six more pages of documents with classification markings at the Wilmington residence.” • That “why” question is one of the big questions, the other one being which Democrat faction is driving this? I assume Harris, simply on the basis of cui bono.

“Democrats scramble to limit fallout from Biden documents debacle” [Financial Times]. “‘I think that there are questions that the administration is going to have to answer,’ Jeff Jackson, a newly elected House Democrat from North Carolina, told CNN on Sunday. ‘I think those questions are going to maybe have to be answered personally by the president himself. I think that the sooner that happens, the better. Did he do anything to obstruct the investigation? Did he do anything to obstruct the return of those documents?’ Yet Jackson insisted he would still back Biden in 2024. ‘He won the last one, and I think he would be the odds-on favourite winning the next one,’ he said. So far there has not been enough polling to judge whether Biden is suffering politically. His approval rating is still hovering close to 44 per cent, its highest level since late 2021, according to the RealClear Politics Average.”

“Word from the Wise? Former Intelligence Official Admits That They Always Assumed the Hunter Biden Emails Were Genuine” [Jonathan Turley]. “Douglas Wise, a former Defense Intelligence Agency deputy director and former senior CIA operations officer, is back in the news this week. In an interview with The Australian, Wise admits that he and others always knew that the emails on the Hunter Biden laptop were likely genuine. It was a remarkable admission from one of more than 50 former intelligence officials who signed a letter dismissing the Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 presidential election as likely ‘Russian disinformation.’ Yet, Wise still maintains that, while true, he and the other officials were right to call it out as likely ‘disinformation.’ Arguing that something is true, but still constitutes disinformation sounds a lot like . . . well . . . disinformation. The infamous letter from the former intel officials (including such Democratic figures like John Brennan, James Clapper, Leon Panetta and Jeremy Bash) was used by the media to assure the public that there was nothing to see in the scandal. It was the perfect deflection in giving a cooperative media cover to bury the story of how the Biden family engaged in influence peddling worth millions with foreign figures, including some with foreign intelligence connections. It worked beautifully. It was not until two years later that NPR, the New York Times, and other media outlets got around to telling the public the truth. Now some of the signatories are trying to rehabilitate themselves. It is not hard. Figures like Bash have been rewarded for their loyalty. Others like Brennan and Clapper have become regulars on CNN to continue to give their takes on intelligence. Wise, however, has tried to find some redeemable role in the letter. He told The Australian that “All of us figured that a significant portion of that content had to be real to make any Russian disinformation credible.'” • I understand the argument: “‘And some of it is good,’ Smiley conceded [of Russian “chickenfeed”] ‘Very good, I do think, and so it should be.'” At the same time, that’s not the argument the intelligence community made.


“Trump trounces DeSantis in potential GOP primary match-up, new poll finds” [The Hill]. “A Morning Consult poll released Wednesday showed Trump with 48 percent support among potential Republican primary voters, followed by DeSantis with 31 percent. Trump’s front-runner position differs from some polls since the November midterm elections, which have shown DeSantis closing the gap with Trump or taking a lead in some cases.”

Republican Funhouse

“McCarthy says Santos will be seated on committee” [The Hill]. “Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday said Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) will be seated on committees, after the embattled freshman lawmaker admitted to embellishing parts of his résumé…. ‘I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve. If there is a concern, and he has to go through the Ethics [Committee], let him move through that,’ McCarthy said, adding ‘he will continue to serve.'” • Personally, I think McCarthy is right, even if he does desperately need to hang onto Santos’s vote. And I really, really dislike the concept of Democrats unelecting electeds based on moral panics they gin up (which I think is the precedent they want to set with all this).

“Rick Scott uses ‘alcoholism’ as metaphor for current Social Security, Medicare spending levels” [Florida Politics]. “During an interview on WDUN radio, Scott compared current spending levels on the entitlement programs to ‘alcoholism,’ suggesting a ’12-step program’ was necessary to corral the fiscal liability while responding to a question from host Martha Zoller about Social Security and Medicare spending specifically. ‘First, let’s acknowledge we have a problem. It’s like alcoholism. The first step of the 12 steps is, ‘You have a problem!’ OK? We have a spending problem in this country.'” • That’s not the first step at all. The first step is: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” I’m not sure what kind of brain thinks that being “powerless over alchohol” is at all like making sure elders live out their lives in some small measure of dignity. Possibly a pickled one?

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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“Republicans introduce ‘Pandemic Is Over’ act after Biden’s ‘unacceptable’ extension of COVID emergency” [FOX]. • FAFO. Did the Democrats really think this would not happen?

“New York’s Socialist Bench Just Got Even Bigger” [Jacobin]. “As of last week, when new elected officials were sworn in and began their jobs in the Albany, New York state has a total of eight socialists serving in its Assembly and Senate — more socialist representation than any other state in the country, and more than New York has seen in over a century…. For socialists, a key part of the answer is socializing the provision of basic human needs: transit, education, health care, childcare, housing.” • And the means of production?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Violent Far-Right Terrorist Threat to the Republican Party and American Conservatism” [Council on Foreign Relations]. From the heart of The Blob, if Blob’s have hearts: “[T]hose who see election and policy defeats as the far right’s main or only danger to the Republican Party overlook a far more concrete peril: a direct and imminent terrorist threat to the party and its leaders. In fact, in the post-Trump era, Republican politicians are just as frequently targeted by conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric spread by the violent far right as more typical victims on the political left…. The threats against Republican politicians—whether explicit or implicit—often come from their conservative political rivals. In one campaign ad, Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens, flanked by heavily-armed commandos in tactical gear, stormed into a home and proudly declared, ‘Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit.’ Last September, after Mitch McConnell agreed to a government funding deal, Trump declared on his Truth Social site that McConnell ‘has a DEATH WISH.’ Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, the two Republicans who served on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, received a deluge of violent threats. One caller told the former, ‘Gonna get your wife, gonna get your kids.’ A Trump-supporting constituent in New York’s 2nd District pled guilty to threatening to kill Representative Andrew Garbarino after the congressman was one of thirteen House Republicans to join Democrats in voting for an infrastructure bill. And perhaps most seriously, in December, a failed Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas, Douglas Keith Casey, was charged with threatening to kill Congressman Randy Weber, alleging that Weber had committed fraud in the primary election—despite Weber, a staunch conservative, having previously been 1 of 126 House Republicans to sign a Texas Supreme Court amicus brief in 2020 seeking to undo the presidential election results in several key states….. And the political right’s most extreme fringe, featuring neo-Nazis and white supremacists, freely threatens both the right and left as part of their broader assault against the liberal democratic order… As scholars Colin P. Clarke and Tim Wilson write, for the modern violent far-right in its interactions with its own party, ‘disagreement is akin to treachery and violence can have a cleansing effect.'” • “Neo-Nazis and white supremacists” who are good in Ukraine, of course. In our “liberal democratic order.”


Lambert here: I am but a humble tapewatcher, but unlike Eric Topol, I’m not calling a surge, because the last peak was Biden’s Omicron debacle, and after an Everest like that, what’s left? Topol’s view is the establishment view: Hospital-centric. Mine is infection-centric. I do not see the universal acceleration or doubling in cases that I would expect to see based on past surges.

I am calling a “Something Awful.” It’s gonna be bad, in some new way, and we don’t know how, yet (but see here for immune system dysregulation, which is looking pretty awful).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

• Davos (1):

• Davos (2):

• Davos (3):

Let’s review! For the 1%, the pandemic is not over (even though they tell you different). They protect themselves with testing, as we have seen, with HEPA filters, with outdoor air, and possibly with UV (even though they tell you you don’t need these things). But then you knew that: “How Ashish Jha and Rochelle Walensky of Newton, MA Protect Their Children from Covid (But not Yours)” (September 2022). NOTE The lack of masks is, I think; a calculated risk; the risk of failing to accumulate symbolic capital via smiling, etc., is too great.

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The political class protects itself (but not you):

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• “Extraordinary Evasion of Neutralizing Antibody Response by Omicron XBB.1.5, CH.1.1 and CA.3.1 Variants” (preprint) [bioRxiv]. From the Abstract:

This study investigates the extent of neutralizing antibody escape by new subvariants XBB.1.5, CH.1.1, and CA.3.1, as well as their impacts on spike protein biology. Our results demonstrated a nearly complete escape of these variants from neutralizing antibodies stimulated by three doses of mRNA vaccine, but neutralization was rescued by a bivalent booster. However, CH.1.1 and CA.3.1 variants were highly resistant to both monovalent and bivalent mRNA vaccinations. We also assessed neutralization by sera from individuals infected during the BA.4/5 wave of infection and observed similar trends of immune escape. In these cohorts, XBB.1.5 did not exhibit enhanced neutralization resistance over the recently dominant BQ.1.1 variant. Notably, the spike proteins of XBB.1.5, CH.1.1, and CA.3.1 all exhibited increased fusogenicity compared to BA.2, correlating with enhanced S processing. Overall, our results support the administration of new bivalent mRNA vaccines, especially in fighting against newly emerged Omicron subvariants, as well as the need for continued surveillance of Omicron subvariants.

No, that’s not at all what the results support; we aren’t going to get out of this mess by going round and round on the vaccine treadmill. What th results demand is a layered strategy that has reduced transmission as its cornerstone.

• “Is ‘Long Covid’ similar to ‘Long SARS’?” [Oxford Open Immunology]. “It is clear that Long SARS (post SARS ongoing symptomatology) exists, persists (apparently permanently) and can be devastatingly life-changing for some. Sufficient similarities exist between Long SARS and Long Covid (PASC) in symptoms, findings and course over time (so far) that one can predict that it is very highly likely that some Long Covid disability will persist permanently. For those interested in rehabilitation, it is once more noted that the peer group support was very highly valued by the patients.” • This is the bottom line for a very long review article; the author is based in Toronto, which from 2002-2003 “had the largest [SARS] outbreak outside of Asia.” So no, Covid is not “the flu.”

• “Adverse maternal, fetal, and newborn outcomes among pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 infection: an individual participant data meta-analysis: [BMJ]. From the Abstract: “This analysis indicates that SARS-CoV-2 infection at any time during pregnancy increases the risk of maternal death, severe maternal morbidities and neonatal morbidity, but not stillbirth or intrauterine growth restriction.”

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Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from January 17:

Lambert here: For now, I’m going to use this wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.

• Case data in Canada (where — hear me out — they actually collect it):

Still a pandemic. Not endemic.


Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission (the “red map,” which is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you.) The map is said to update Monday-Friday by 8 pm:

The previous map:

NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published January 18:

-3.7.%. Still heading down.


Wastewater data (CDC), January 14:

The whole country’s gone grey again. What is wrong with these people?

January 10:

And MWRA data, January 10:

Lambert here: Unmistakably down, north and south. However, not all the students are back; BU classes begin January 19; Harvard’s January 22.


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), December 30:

Lambert here: BQ.1* still dominates, XBB moving up fast. Note all the BQ subvariants; it’s almost like something’s encouraging them, like maybe a policy of mass infection. Sure hope none of ’em get lucky, like XBB.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), December 24 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* takes first place. XBB coming up fast. (For BQ.1/XBB and vaccine escape, see here.) Here is Region 2, the Northeast, where both BQ.1* and XBB are said to be higher, and are:

Holy moley, XBB.1.5! (Makes clear that Region 2 (New England) varies greatly from the national average. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we ended up with different variants dominating different parts of the country.

• As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated January 14:

A retreat from the steady rise I have found so concerning.

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated January 14:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total:1,125,895 – 1,125,558 = 337 (337 * 365 = 123,005 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).

Lambert here: Deaths lag, so we have a nice little jump here as a consequence of whatever it is we’ve been going through.

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

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial Production in the United States increased 1.6% year-on-year in December of 2022, the smallest rise since March of 2021, following a 2.2% gain in November.”

Manufacturing: “United States Capacity Utilization” [Trading Economics]. “Capacity Utilization in the United States decreased to 78.8% in December of 2022, the lowest in a year, following a downwardly revised 79.4% in November and well below forecasts of 79.6%.”

Inflation: “United States Producer Prices Final Demand Less Foods and Energy YoY” [Trading Economics]. “The producer price index for final demand less foods and energy in the United States rose by 5.5 percent from a year earlier in December of 2022, easing from a 6.2 percent advance in November and below market expectations of a 5.7 percent gain.”

Retail: “United States Retail Sales YoY” [Trading Economics]. “Retail Sales in the United States increased 6% year-on-year in December of 2022, the same as a downwardly revised 6% rise in November, and the weakest rate since the end of 2020.”

* * *

Commodities: “U.S. Lithium Production Is Set To Explode” [OilPrice.com]. “The federal government is throwing money at lithium producers to develop lithium supply chains fast enough to support the rapid renewable sector growth targeted by the Inflation Reduction Act. Just last week, Australian lithium company Ioneer said that the U.S. Department of Energy gave them a conditional commitment of a loan of up to USD $700 million. The company’s main project will be in Nevada, at the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in Esmeralda County. “When fully operational, the site will produce enough lithium for 400,000 electric vehicles,” CNBC reports, “while also producing boron.” The Rhyolite Ridge project is just the latest in a series of lithium companies to introduce new or expanded plants in the U.S. since the unveiling of the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition to more Nevada facilities, plans have also been announced for lithium production centers in North Carolina and Tennessee. The Rhyolite Ridge plant hasn’t even become operational, and already EV producers including Ford and Toyota have already inked offtake agreements with Ioneer, underscoring the growing anxiety that there might not be enough lithium to go around once EVs and short-term renewable energy storage take off in earnest. That anxiety is understandable. If all the gas-powered cars in the world were replaced with electric cars overnight, projections show that the global supply of lithium would be completely depleted in just fifty years. Of course, this is just a thought experiment, but it is an important reminder that even ‘renewable’ technologies rely on finite resources.” • No duh!

Banking: “Bank of America customers encounter Zelle money transfer delays. Here’s what we know” [Charlotte Observer]. “Bank of America is experiencing delays in online transactions conducted via Zelle, the bank confirmed in an online notice to customers Wednesday morning. On outage tracker DownDetector.com, customers reported missing funds and unexpected negative balances due to the problems with the digital payment network…. Created in 2017, the network is operated by Early Warning Services LLC, a company co-owned by seven banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Truist, U.S. Bank, PNC and Capital One. But many other banks use Zelle — a total of more than 1,700. Zelle is now the country’s most widely used money transfer service, with more than double Venmo’s payment volumes… Unlike Venmo, CashApp or other similar services, Zelle transfers money instantaneously from bank account to bank account with no entity in between.” • Ooops…

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 18 at 1:35 PM EST.

Feral Hog Watch

“‘They’re here! They’re here!’: wild pigs are trying to take over Canada” [The Narwhale (Sub-Boreal)]. “Alberta’s strategy [against feral hogs] incentivizes hunting directly, offering to pay hunters $75 per set of ears. The CBC reported last fall that zero kills had been made in the bounty program, but Brook is not a fan of the idea. ‘I have been vocally saying that a bounty is a great option if you want more wild pigs. That is a fantastic strategy — if you want to double your pigs,’ [Ryan Brook, an associate professor in agriculture and bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan] said sarcastically. He explains that research shows hunting actually accelerates the spread of wild pigs, as they flee to new areas to evade hunters. Ontario’s strategy bans the recreational hunting of wild pigs, which he approves of. The Alberta government did not respond to The Narwhal’s request for comment. While the bounty might not have been claimed yet, wild boar hunting in Alberta is wildly popular, in part because there is no limit on the season. At HogWild Specialties in Mayerthorpe, owner Earl Hagman sells both wild boar meat and overnight hunting packages. Large trophy boar hunts are $1,800, and hunters can bring any legal weapon and are guided through the property. Hagman says the packages are popular, and the business hosts around 10 hunters per month. However, he says most people ‘come for the meat’ because of Hagmans ‘natural’ raising process: meat animals are $1,000 each. Aside from the lack of season or quantity limitations, hunters are excited by the ‘thrill-seeking’ element to wild boar hunting, Brook explained. ‘People call wild pigs the poor man’s grizzly, because it’s one of the few species, like wild grizzlies, that will actually try and kill you.'” • “You do you” applied to feral hog control.

The Gallery

Monet as brutalized with Twitter’s new algorithmic cropping on the timeline:

(Actually, this isn’t nearly as brutal as the beheadings I’ve seen. All that’s cropped off is… some sky. And the horizon line is in the wrong place.

Monet as painted:

We should think of Twitter — given its monopoly status as a universal addressing space — as a national, public, and free museum, with paintings and artwork hung, as in a gallery, on its timeline. From that perspective, Twitter’s new (old, really) cropping algo is an abomination. How hard is it to shrink artwork down to the right width, and leave the rest intact (to some limit of force majeure, like 600px wide and a mile long). They had the algo working fine for two years, then they reverted to 2020. Why?

Groves of Academe

Ganging up on the AI:

Yes, maybe leverage what humans do well…. Or should do…

Class Warfare

“Medical Residents Unionize Over Pay, Working Conditions” [Wall Street Journal]. “Physicians-in-training at top teaching hospitals across the country are joining unions, demanding higher pay and better working conditions. The Committee of Interns and Residents, the largest group representing doctors in residency and fellowship programs, said it added chapters at five teaching hospitals last year and two in 2021, up from a prepandemic pace of roughly one a year. CIR, which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, said it represents about 15% of the nation’s 140,000 residents and fellows. The pandemic’s strains spurred residents to organize, said Simranvir Kaur, a fourth-year resident specializing in obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford Medicine, where most of some 1,400 Stanford residents voted to form a union last May. Residents were working longer shifts without extra compensation and treating Covid-19 patients without adequate protective gear, Dr. Kaur said. ‘When there’s extra work, the burden falls on us,’ Dr. Kaur said. Stanford, which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., said it is negotiating a union contract with its residents and declined to comment further.” • Good. Maybe in a few years these doctors will bring us #MedicareForAll.

“David Harvey: Socialists Must Be the Champions of Freedom” [David Harvey, Jacobin]. From 2020, still germane. ” Freedom means nothing if you don’t have enough to eat, if you are denied access to adequate healthcare, housing, transportation, education, and the like. The role of socialism is to provide those basic necessities so that then people are free to do exactly what they want. The endpoint of a socialist transition is a world in which individual capacities and powers are liberated entirely from wants, needs, and other political and social constraints. Rather than conceding that the right wing has a monopoly over the notion of individual freedom, we need to reclaim the idea of freedom for socialism itself. But Marx also pointed out that freedom is a double-edged sword. Laborers in a capitalist society, he says, are free in a double sense. They can freely offer their labor power to whomsoever they want in the labor market. They can offer it on whatever conditions of contract they can freely negotiate. sBut they are at the same time un-free, because they have been ‘freed’ from any control over or access to the means of production. They have, therefore, to surrender their labor power to the capitalist in order to live. This constitutes their double-edged freedom. For Marx this is the central contradiction of freedom under capitalism. In the chapter on the working day in Capital, he puts it this way: the capitalist is free to say to the laborer: ‘I want to employ you at the lowest wage possible for the largest number of hours possible doing exactly the work I specify. That is what I demand of you when I hire you.’ And the capitalist is free to do that in a market society because, as we know, market society is about bidding about this and bidding about that. On the other hand, the worker is also free to say, ‘You don’t have a right to make me work 14 hours a day. You don’t have a right to do anything you like with my labor power, particularly if that shortens my life and endangers my health and well-being. I am only willing to do a fair day’s work at a fair day’s wage.’ Given the nature of a market society, both the capitalist and the worker are right in terms of what they’re demanding. So, says Marx, they are both equally right by the law of exchanges that dominate in the market. Between equal rights, he then says, force decides. Class struggle between capital and labor decides the issue. The outcome rests on the power relation between capital and labor which can at some point turn coercive and violent.” • Rule #2.

News of the Wired

“The Terminal Escape Sequences Ocean is Deep and Dark: Debugging a Virtual Terminal” [Ethan Heilman]. • You’ll like this, if this is the sort of thing you like.

“Dads Have Been Older than Moms since the Dawn of Humanity, Study Suggests” [Scientific American]. “The researchers found that 26.9 years was the overall average age of conception during the past 250,000 years. But breaking this down by sex showed that men averaged around 30.7 years when they conceived a child, compared with 23.2 years for women. The numbers fluctuated over time, but the model suggested that men consistently had children later in life than women.” • Later than I would have thought. Hmm.

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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 RM:

RM writes: “May 14th in the little costal town of Hellvik Norway. No idea what it is but puts on a grand show.”

Kind readers, I think I have enough plants for now. Of course, you are always welcome to send more!

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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. tevhatch

    Davos no coats: What happened to Swiss rules threatening jail for anyone who set their thermostat above 19C?

  2. Copeland

    Today’s plant picture is Pieris japonica. New spring foliage is brightly colored, later changing to some shade of green, in this case chartreuse.

    1. Milton

      The dandelion is there, all showy–displaying a wonderful light-orange to yellow bloom with rich green serrated leaves; wondering why it receives little respect.

      1. Greg

        Is it though? Or is it just another DYC?

        Agree with the sentiment though – there are a host of species presented with just the one big lout getting the praise

        1. ambrit

          Am I the only one to think that the Wikipedia “upgrade” is just another means of ‘dumbing down’ the deplorables?
          This geriatric yobbo is feeling gnarly and grotty.
          Will the FEMA Re-education Camps have an uplifting motto emblazoned above the entranceway? These camps staffed by ‘team members’ from the Organization Todt, which is one of Hollywood’s greatest contributions to the cause of American patriotism. After all, anything established by Elizabeth Taylor’s husband can’t be all bad. [He was also prescient in that he produced the visionary film “Conquer the World in 80 Days.”]
          This timeline is the Most Progressive!

  3. Soredemos

    Figured I’d provide an update on my mother’s estate probate, in case anyone was wondering whats been going on with it.

    It’s a disaster. Two things: first was a Medicaid bill related to my father who has been dead for eight years that they made a claim on after the spouse died. So there went a third of the value of her recently sold car up in smoke.

    And second, it turns out she didn’t pay any taxes, none, since 2015. So they all, federal, state, and local, needed to be filed all at once. CPA keeps getting delayed and hasn’t given me a final number, but he’s implying it’ll be bad. If it blows through what’s left in the estate account, then either I start wiring my own money to her account, which I’m only willing to do to a certain degree, or I liquidate the only thing left, her house.

    1. Roland

      It sounds like hell. It reminds me of when I had to deal with my father’s intestate (and as it proved, insolvent) estate. In the end, I had to simply walk away from the whole thing, since it was like a minefield of undiscovered liabilities. To even assume the role of executor would have entailed costs beyond my resources, all the more, since I lived thousands of miles away. As it was, I bore some heavy expenses that I could ill afford.

      What made it bearable was the kindness of some of my relatives, the cooperation of my employer, and the integrity of the lawyer we had hired.

      But many years later, I still sometimes reproach myself for having been, “rational.” I can’t help feeling as if I had disowned my own Dad, and that he thus died a second time, leaving me twice bereaved. Real hell.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I don’t really know your circumstances or your dad obviously but I am guessing that he would not have wanted to put you through everything that you did take up much less all that you could not actually do. I think that any good dad would understand and thank you for what you could do.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      Some towns have property tax relief programs for the elderly so they can stay in their homes. I’m sure it’s a very long shot, but if your municipality has one, perhaps you could appeal to local officials’ better angels in that regard, even though your mother has passed, if she could have applied for it in her later years.

      Once had a coworker who didn’t file their taxes for several years. Although there were some penalties for late filings, they wound up getting a refund once they finally filed. Hope it works our for you too.

      1. playon

        Don’t know what the property tax relief is like in other places, but here in WA it’s only 10%. Not much of a break for seniors considering the skyrocketing property values here.

        1. Soredemos

          It’s not property taxes she owed. Those actually were paid since the house was under mortgage (which I already went ahead and paid off) it had an escrow account set aside that was automatically paying the property taxes. Some of that money was refunded so I presume it’s all paid up.

  4. Wukchumni

    Schwab: Who is it?
    Captain of Industry: It’s me in Davos. Open up, man, I got the stuff.
    (More knocks)
    Schwab: Who is it?
    Captain of Industry: It’s me in Davos, man. Open up, I got the stuff.
    Schwab: Who?
    Captain of Industry: It’s me in Davos, man. Open up, I think the cops saw me come in here with a lady of the night.
    (More knocks)
    Schwab: Who is it?
    Captain of Industry: It’s me in Davos, man. Will you open up, I got the stuff with me.
    Schwab: Who?
    Captain of Industry: Davos man!, Open up.
    Schwab: Davos?
    Captain of Industry: Yeah, Davos man, open up, I think the cops saw me.
    Schwab: Davos doesn’t allow harlots here.
    Captain of Industry: No, man, you’re the Davos man.
    (Sharp knocks at the door)
    Captain of Industry: Hey, c’mon, Davos man.
    Schwab: Who is it?
    Captain of Industry: Hey Davos man. Will you open up? I got a hawtie with me.
    Schwab: Who?
    Captain of Industry: Davos man. Open up.
    Schwab: Davos?
    Captain of Industry: Yeah, Davos.
    Schwab: Davos doesn’t allow commoners here.
    Captain of Industry: What the hell? No, man, I am worth more than the GDP of Monaco, man. Will you…
    (More knocks)
    Captain of Industry: c’mon! Open up the door, will you? I got a by the hour entrepreneur with me, I think the cops saw me.
    Schwab: Who is it?
    Captain of Industry: Oh, what the hell is it…c’mon. Open up the door! It’s my time to be in Davos!
    Schwab: Who?
    Captain of Industry: Davos! D-A-V-O-S! Will you open up the goddam door!
    Schwab: Davos?
    Captain of Industry: Yeah, Davos!
    Schwab: Davos?
    Captain of Industry: Right, man. Davos man. Now will you open up the door?
    Schwab: Davos isn’t here for commoners.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Unsure if you’re channeling your inner Wukcheechni or your inner Wukchongni but either way Davos ain’t here man.

    2. Screwball

      This reminded me of the Cheech & Chong movie “Up in Smoke.” Chong spends 10 minutes trying to get in the house and when he finally does, Cheech tells him they have to get him out. Loved that movie, and those guys.

      We did a movie night at home marathon one New Years Eve, That movie was on our list. Been years ago and couldn’t find it anywhere, and streaming was at that time not an option. Found it (CD) – at the local library – I was shocked. But this is rural Ohio.

      I’m part of the educational class now since retired and teach for fun money. It’s a mess. Tell a younger educator they are now nothing more than Sister Mary Elephant and you will get some fun looks and remarks. Why not? Because it’s true. H/T Cheech & Chong

      We have very little good comedy today

    3. Sardonia

      Captain of Industry is in for a shock when he undresses his hooker and discovers that he/she is Blind Melon Lemon in drag.

  5. Mikel

    Davos & Covid

    Those tweets showed some of the precautions. I also bet they have on call medical facilities and doctors that are nothing to sneeze at.

      1. Copeland

        Agreed? To what?

        IM and I said Pieris (genus) common name Andromeda/Lily of the valley shrub, etc.

        Not Spiraea (genus), common name Spirea.

      2. John

        Plant kingdom can be almost as deceptive as animal kingdom…especially humans but Spirea and Pieris are two different things. Looks like a Pieris to me. I have a goldflame spirea and have killed several pieris, though not this one. Spirea is almost an invasive in my part of Virginia. Pieris not so much. Both are great plants in all their many varieties.

  6. CanCyn

    Re hanging up on the AI ” Yes, maybe leverage what humans do well…. Or should do…”
    Marking essays takes time, something not all post-secondary profs have. I worked in the community college sector in Ontario before I retired. Ontario college faculty, who do not have TAs or grad student support of any kind, have contracts with the amount of assessment time they are expected to do and are paid to do calculated per student. Yes they (full-timers at least) earn a very good salary and have a great benefits package so no one should feel too sorry for the prof who goes a little above and beyond. But, think of part-timers expected to tow the same line. I know people who hold down 3 different part-time jobs at different colleges to make ends meet. College administration uses the Standard Workload Formula (SWF), a form that is used to design work ‘expectations’ around assessment and time spent with students outside of class (yes, there is a calculation for ‘student contact hours’.) Its use is embedded in the Collective Agreement. Associate Deans are the beleaguered lower middle managers who handle the work of assigning ‘SWFs’ to every teaching prof every single semester. These profs assign very few essays and there is very high use of multiple choice exams that can be marked by computer. If you have education in education, it is certainly possible to know how to set up effective and engaging assignments for assessment that are not essays but few of these folks have a Bachelor’s in education and even fewer have the time. While many other post-secondary educational institutions may not go to these lengths to control faculty time, I have no doubt that post sec administrators everywhere would love to SWF their faculty. Yes, the initials are used as a verb, pronounced ‘swiff’.
    This anonymous prof tends to update this blog mostly during contract negotiations, but here is an attempted explanation the SWF, if you’re curious.

    1. Sue inSoCal

      Thanks Wuk. I loved it! I was thinking “Davos isn’t here, man…;)” Than I saw Mark’s comment…I am not alone…

  7. Mildred Montana

    Lambert: “Personally, I think McCarthy is right, even if he does desperately need to hang onto Santos’s vote. And I really, really dislike the concept of Democrats unelecting electeds based on moral panics they gin up (which I think is the precedent they want to set with all this).”

    I’m sorry Lambert, but I’ve really got to call you to task on this. If the Democrats are “ginning up” something on this, so what? Santos is clearly a pathological liar. I have always thought in my seventy years that honesty and trust are important, that they are critical to society and civilization, not to mention to inter-personal relationships like marriage and friendship. Honesty on the one part, trust on the other.

    That’s the only way a society can function. I assume, usually correctly, that when I buy something at the grocery store, it won’t poison me. That’s honesty on the part of the producer and trust on mine. The cab-driver assumes that I will pay him at my destination, he doesn’t usually ask for the fare up-front. My honesty, his trust. Restaurants assume that diners will pay after their meals, they don’t ask for a down-payment before allowing you to sit down. In all these transactions there is an honesty/trust connection, and that connection is the glue of a civil society.

    So to forgive Santos’ lies on some political basis is to say, essentially, “Honesty isn’t important, violation of trust isn’t important.” Well, they are, and they always will be. Imagine, Lambert, if commenters at NC posted exaggerated, embellished, or false statements on a regular basis. Not that I’m wishing you any ill-will (I love the site and your hard work), but really, how long do you think you’d last if George Santos was a frequent commenter?

    1. lambert strether

      Do you really think Santos has committed anything worse than peccadilloes, compared to the entire Democrat Party screwing the railroad workers? Whether from the material perspective of workers or from so-called ethics in government? Do you really think that what Santos has done is in any way more serious than the Democrat Party’s policy of mass infection without mitigation? From the standpoint of societal functioning?

      Let’s keep some perspective here. I can’t sweat the small stuff and Santos is small stuff. But the precedent set by Democrats engineering a moral panic to overturn an election would be very, very bad. So McCarthy is right: Bury it in the Ethics committee. That’s what Pelosi would do and did.

      There is also the extremely curious fact that the Democrats did no oppo on the dude, and never amplified the Santos problems found by local papers. That smells awful funny.

      1. John

        “That smells awfully funny.” It could be nothing more than gross negligence on the part of the Democrats. IIRC, the house has the power to refuse to seat someone. The Republicans could not afford to do that given their minuscule majority. Well, he isn’t the first world class liar to sit in Congress.One of the most tawdry, but not the greatest. Twenty-two months to the next election. I am curious to see if he will be on the ballot

        1. JTMcPhee

          Davis Man observes, wryly, that “elections change nothing.” Don’t be looking for salvation in the ballot box.

      2. Pat

        Especially since it was the second time that Santos ran in that district, and he had halved Suozzi’s advantage over the Republicans in that 2020 election. (And Tom did dismally in the governor primary but hadn’t hedged his bets running to remain in Congress as well – which begs the question how that district was internally polling especially with map changes. ) Zimmerman came into the election with no real advantage except maybe the D after his name, and see Tom above, perhaps not even that.

        Democrats had two elections to research Santos so he had to be on their radar especially since he didn’t crash in the 2020 election.

      3. Mildred Montana

        Peccadillo: A small relatively unimportant offense or sin.

        I guess that’s where you and I part ways on the issue. Is lying in day-to-day matters important? Maybe not. Is lying when one is running for elected office important? I happen to think so. I would say further that it is critical, especially in a democracy. If the words and promises of candidates mean nothing, then democracy itself means nothing. It is a sham.

        To say that Santos is small stuff is to say, “So what, there are bigger liars out there.” That’s another way of saying, “Sorry officer, I know I was going 20mph over the speed limit, but the guy ahead of me was 40mph over the limit.” In the real world, the one most of us live in, that won’t cut it with the officer and it doesn’t cut it with me either.

        One must ask, finally, where did those “bigger liars” come from? Could it be that they started out as “small stuff” George Santos’, testing the waters with untruths, never called on their lies, and thus rising to positions of real power?

        Truth, honesty, integrity, those are absolutes for me, There is no such thing as a harmless liar, a small-time crook. Almost without exception they sooner or later escalate their crimes. George Santos is a cancer 𝘪𝘯 𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘶, only waiting to grow and spread if he (it) gets the chance.

        1. Objective Ace

          “Sorry officer, I know I was going 20mph over the speed limit, but the guy ahead of me was 40mph over the limit.” In the real world, the one most of us live in, that won’t cut it with the officer and it doesn’t cut it with me either.

          Except that in the real world, your example is akin to the officers selectively enforce the law. Its one thing if the canidate or speeder just happened to be unluckily caught, its an entirely different thing if our system uses some trumped up charge to impose what ever systems of power they desire. Is it okay when the police selectively arrest only black or poor people for jaywalking or low level drug offenses while ignoring when white people do it? Its the same dynamic

        2. Tom Doak

          I have no doubt that George Santos is a lousy person that I would never do business with, but I said the same about both Presidential candidates in 2020, and in 2016. The idea of disqualifying a politician for lying is impossible to me. If we ran a Truth & Reconciliation Commission on everyone in Congress and the White House, how many would be left standing?

          And who could agree upon as the judges? That’s the real problem, which I think Lambert correctly identifies. If you’re not willing to accept the voters of the candidate’s home district as the ultimate judges, do you even believe in our system of government?

        3. JTMcPhee

          Maybe the Dems are concerned that somebody might point to the Clintons and Obama and of course “I went to Black churches every Sunday” Biden as people who stretch the truth (as they say…)

      4. Verifyfirst

        If he really did steal $3,000 that he fundraised for the service dog of a disabled homeless veteran (and another woman has now come forward with a similar case) while operating an unlicensed charity, seems he could be in some legal trouble. Might not disqualify him from Congress, I don’t know. But that would be more than a peccadillo, in my book. Besides, no one will ever be held accountable for the big stuff you mention, so can’t we have some fun? Aghastitude has to be practiced to be kept in good working order….

        In America you can, of course, do whatever you want to people, but when you mess with pets, look out…..

      5. tempestteacup

        Seems to me that the Santos mishigas is just the latest example of the Democrats and their permanently online media cheer team trying to substitute “look at the clamour we are making about this! Something! Must! Be! Done!” for fripperies like rules, procedural consistency and process. This now happens so regularly that I have come to believe they genuinely do think that it is entirely correct for issues to be resolved on the basis of whether or not they are wittering on about it at that moment, that frothy media aghastitude is in fact an appropriate means to measure and settle issues. The fact that they frequently appear befuddled when their furore doesn’t speedily resolve itself to their satisfaction confirms that they really do believe their own nonsense.

        It being the Democrats, of course, the times I can recall their confected outrage actually delivering the outcome they were ullulating for has tended to be directed at other Democrats (Al Franken) rather than the benighted other side (Brett Kavanaugh).

      6. agent ranger smith

        Beau of the Fifth Column did a fairly recent video about this Santos subject. There is no transcript, or I would offer it. For those who don’t want to watch/hear a video, perhaps a few seconds of it could be tolerated, where Beau offers his opinion as to what made this really blow up and get notice.
        It starts at timepoint 0:57, and Beau leads fast into saying this all broke big because ” Santos broke the “real” rule, which is ‘don’t scam rich people’ ” In other words, one could say that Santos got in trouble when it became clear to McCarthy and one of McCarthy’s rich donors that Santos’ staff person had scammed money out of Mr. Rich Donor by pretending to be Mccarthy and/or a McCarthy staffer.
        That bit of talking lasts from 0;57 to 1:49.

        When news got out that Santos had crossed the “Shkrelli Line”, that’s when rePUBlicans began demanding his resignation. The Democrats should not open themselves up for getting the credit for making Santos resign, if that is what happens. The Democrats should sit back in silence and let the rePUBlicans do their OWN heavy lifting to deal with their co-partisan “Shkrelli in office”. The Democrats should be happy to let Santos sit in his seat for 2 years like an abscessed tooth rotting in the jaw for two years of pain.

        Why didn’t the Democrats do any Oppo on Santos? If Santos’ Democratic opponent were not considered a reliable Clintonite or Obamazoid by the DemParty Leadership, that Leadership would have been quietly happy to see an “unreliable” Democrat defeated. But that’s only if the DemLeaders considered the Dem Candidate a potential non-conformist. If that wasn’t the reason and the motive, perhaps the Dems wanted to see this Santos creature win for just exactly this reason . . . to have all its lies come out and to have it become an abscessed tooth in House Majority for the Republicans to deal with or suffer from.

    2. nippersdad

      Hedges refers to our political system as an entertainment industry unto itself because all of the actual levers of power have been coopted by corporations and their flunkies. Viewed from that perspective, Santos is of value to everyone in both parties insofar as there will be a ready made squirrel to distract attention as the usual underhand deals are being made.

      Contra Lambert, it is likely that the Democratic party knew everything about the guy before he was elected and chose to add him to their line-up of acts for the circus ring. So much easier on the media rolodex to have someone that is already a clown show than to have to make him into one.

    3. Carolinian

      Presumably you think Joe Biden should also resign for being a pathological liar. Right?

      And there’s quite a list of Democrats in Congress who lie. But perhaps Santos’ sin was getting caught lying or that the Dems or Biden are lying in a good cause therefore it’s ok (actually that probably is their justification).

      1. Felix_47

        Santos should prehaps offer to cosponsor a bill that would require all politicians to resign if they lie. If someone is a pathological liar they should not have a security clearance. So if Congress is willing to stand up and throw out all those who have documentation of lying such as plagiarism (there are programs that can look at anything they have written), inside trading, sleeping around on their wives etc. Santos can offer to resign with them. Biden’s statements about the laptop in the third debate probably sealed his candidacy. Had that come out surveys show he would have lost. Lies matter. Had that lie been exposed at least a few hundred thousand young Russian and Ukrainians would be alive today. They are carrying on about Santos because he carried his lying to an absurd degree. But Congress could work on classifying lies and matching that to consequences. We would learn a lot. Screwing around on the wife…..not so bad. Lying about Russia and ginning up a war…….maybe OK as well. Plagiarising a law essay….maybe bad. Whatever Santos is in some very good company and I suspect those who elected him would vote for him again. At least they know what he is and knowing that they can take what he offers the district. Santos is a good representative of the US Congress. HL Mencken must be smiling in his grave.

        1. Objective Ace

          If someone is a pathological liar they should not have a security clearance.

          One could probably argue the opposite. If your unable to lie you should not have a security clearance. I’m told there is an espionage industry that involves talking to people with security clearances in social settings and trying to get them to divulge state secrets

          1. agent ranger smith

            I remember once reading that in a press conference a clever journalist asked President Eisenhower if he would ever tell a lie. Eisenhower replied, to the best of my memory . . .
            ” I am just as ready to lie for my country as any other patriotic American, but only if I feel confident that I will be believed.”

      2. Alex Cox

        I was astonished at Biden’s outright lying during their alleged debate, and Sanders’ repeated failure to call Biden on his lies. Oh well… A journey down the memory lane of lies!

      1. agent ranger smith

        In normal times Santos’s lies would not be minor pecadillos. But the extremeness of the massive evil being perpetrated by powerful people in office is such that Santos’s wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling comprehensive wraparound lies about who/what he is/was, every personal accomplishment claimed, etc. seem like pecadillos by comparison.

        Such is the nasty horribleness of the situation we live in.

        Let Santos stay in his seat. Let him swell up like a giant pimple and explode and get his pus all over his fellow Republicans. If they are afraid of that, let them tear out the rotted tooth all by themselves.

    4. anon in so cal

      Got to pipe in here. Biden and Democrats’ and GOP lies have caused catastrophic damage to Americans and to the world. Just take the US war against Russia–it’s based on the worst lies and treachery, has killed close to 200K, counting both sides and innocent civilians, and raises the risk of nuclear war. The US is called the Empire of Lies for good reason.

    5. Randall Flagg

      All I can say is that while listening to the radio “On Point ” on the local public radio station yesterday (1/18/23), they did a show on George Santos, how could he keep lying all the time, getting away with it, interviewing some professor and the editor of the local Long Island paper that has been calling out Santos for quite a while now. Of course Trump was mentioned into it all numerous times, etc.
      I could not help but thinking, a person could easily substitute the name “Joe Biden” in place of George Santos”, and that show would still have been pretty accurate in it’s subject matter.

  8. Bruno

    David Harvey wrote: “Class struggle between capital and labor decides the issue. The outcome rests on the power relation between capital and labor which can at some point turn coercive and violent.”

    Consider how that applies, say, to the labor force of that Foxconn Apple factory. Or to a Uighur “graduate” of a CCP “industrial training” confinement facility.

    1. hunkerdown

      Or a tendentious PMC proselyte helping reproduce the capitalist state by singing its carols uncritically.

  9. Pat

    So now that Rick Scott is not in the position to game the system and get rich or rather richer for running a company that systematically overcharges people for medical services, particularly those on Medicaid and Medicare he wants those programs destroyed.

    I think we should deduce that he has a different means of ripping off the government, and resents that programs supporting the poor and elderly takes monies that could be going into his pocket.

    So nice of him to leave Columbia HCA as the massive fraud was coming out, or rather forced(?) out with 350 million in stock and almost 10 million in pay. Only ten years after he and a partner started their original original company with $125,000 each. You can pretty well figure that financial and billing fraud fueled that success not providing better medical care.

    Somehow that reptilian piece of garbage still has power and continues to use it for evil rather than spending his days wondering how he is going to feed himself when he gets out of prison.

    Rick Scott could be a proof that there is no karma.

    1. Carolinian

      The joke of it is that some years back Congress gave themselves a large and somewhat controversial salary increase using the argument that more pay would keep them honest.

      This was easily finessed by making the campaigns themselves all about money so only the wealthy or those willing to play sycophants to the wealthy could afford to run or at least to win. And with better pay those who needed the money could hang around, like, forever.

      1. agent ranger smith

        Well, the Supreme Roberts Court enshrined that ” about money” aspect of campaigning with its decision in the “Citizens United Not Timid” case. Most every media outlet leaves off the last two words of that so-called organization’s name. But I remember David Bossie first calling it Citizens United Not Timid.

        I am not smart enough to make that up. That is what he called it. I see no trace of it on the web now. If someone paid me a hundred dollars an hour to sit here till I found it or failed to find it, I would keep looking and looking.

  10. Jason Boxman

    I’d say the elite as a class protecting itself is a very clear signal that we are in the midst of a eugenics campaign. Because they clearly do know the Pandemic is not over and that infection is dangerous and essential to avoid, ergo they know that infections cause bad outcomes, but allow those outcomes for the population at large. So it follows they’re aware of the outcome they’ve engineered and support it, at least tacitly.

    On the other hand, we have PMC morons at spreading events, enthusiastically unmasked. So it seems the PMC as a class is perhaps different than the Davos elite class? None of these groups are monolithic, so it’s hard to know what to think.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I view the PMC as overseers. As a class, the PMC echoes what they are told by the Elite, often believe what they are told, and I believe, they are selected and trained for their lack of introspection, their greed, their power and status lust, and their lack of capacity for independent thought. They are a buffer class that might protect the Elite at the time of Collapse, long enough, for an Elite escape to vast cornucopian underground mansions in far far away places. I am not sure how they fit into a Marxist theology.

      1. Roland

        Some of the PMC are the professional petty bourgeoisie, as opposed to the commercial petty bourgeoisie. In the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, they typically ally with and serve the big bourgeoisie, partly out of ambition, but mostly out of fear.

        It’s because they’re aware, at some level, of how little really separates them from the proletariat, that the professional petty bourgeoisie so jealously cling to their credentials, and that’s why they’re always trying to find new marks of status and difference.

        They don’t realize that their once-vaunted professional independence and dignity could be more easily restored under socialism, than they can be retained under capitalism. It’s the capitalism that disposesses them, and which fills their lives with fret.

        Unfortunately, a cycle of antagonism arises between the professional petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The snobbery of the former and the resentment of the latter reinforce one another.

        But it’s the big bourgeoisie who will eventually liquidate the petty bourgeoisie, because they can’t help it. After all, if the bourgeoisie could restrain themselves, they would never have become what they are.

        As a proletarian, I try not to get too scornful of the PMC, although I often find them infuriating or ludicrous. It’s just such a pity that the potentials of higher education are being much wasted on elaborations of class status.

        1. agent ranger smith

          Perhaps if every PMC “homeowner” had spent the last couple decades prepaying their mortgage down to zero years ahead of time ( if possible) and then turning their houses and yards into fortresses of suburban survivalism, they might have just-survival-worthy-enough “Fuck-You” Doomsteads to where they wouldn’t have to be so afraid of the higher PMCs and the High Masters.

          That’s just a thought, though.

    2. agent ranger smith

      Perhaps the PMC separates itself into subclasses . . . UpperPMC, MiddlePMC, LowerPMC, LumpenPMC.
      Maybe part of being a good PMCeoisie is getting too high on your own supply to ever come down.

      Clearly the Davosians regard their pet PMCs as being the “bumpers on the car”.

      And every steady reader of Naked Capitalism is getting a steady drip-feed of pro-survivalist information for
      raising their chances of sidestepping and/or resisting the covid with. If enough rational covid resisters find eachother and link up to form a successful political/governmental conquest fighting force, then they can force government to apply counter-covid measures. But even short of that, they can enhance peoples’ survival chances here and there.

    3. anon in so cal

      Zeke Emanuel recently repeated the statement he made several years back when he said living to 75 was long enough for him as he didn’t want to be a burden on society.


      It is more chilling now in the context of the ongoing pandemic and officials’ careless approach. In Los Angeles County, at least, the Covid death rate started increasing early in November and remains higher than it has been for a year.

      “Los Angeles County saw an average of 40 coronavirus deaths a day over the past week, the highest such rate in nearly 10 months, a sign that the prolific Omicron may be deadlier than believed”


  11. GregLA

    Re: Biden’s Classified Documents

    Since this seems almost completely self-inflicted, could it be a a clever ploy of delivering up a bunch of chaff to distract the rabid GOP House?

    Instead of letting them get a start on their own investigations of embarrassing issues (Hunter in Ukraine, Hunter in China, Hunter in the USofA, etc), you throw out your own seemingly juicy bone to divert the pack of hounds.

    Then, the juicy bone turns out to be six pages of top secret codes name options for his german shepherds back in 2006…

    I’ve already heard DC pundits using this episode to describe how virtuous the Biden admin has been in comparison to a certain TV game show host.

    1. John

      You blow smoke to obscure the target and we have been living in an increasingly dense cloud for twenty years or so.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      This sounds as plausible as any other reason I’ve heard. There are all kinds of problems with this story, but I can’t figure out where it is going. First, we’re supposed to believe that his lawyers just found these documents and are volunteering any and all of them regardless of what they contain… and they’re doing such a great job that after finding the 1st set they’ve continued looking and found more, and dutifully reported on this fact? Second, we’re supposed to believe that the media that’s been covering up for Biden the last few years suddenly has a change and heart and decides to start doing their job? I could go on, but none of this passes the smell test.

      1. agent ranger smith

        Well, maybe it is an orchestrated pressure campaign to get Biden to live up to his initial pledge of One Term Only. The test of that theory is that the longer Biden continues to insist on Two Terms, the more counter-Biden information will be released.

        If Classified Documentsgate plays all the way out with Biden still determined to run again, and the establishment then decides to elevate the Hunter kerfuffle to the status of Huntergate, that would be further support for this theory.

    3. Questa Nota

      Aren’t there ongoing Inspector General or similar investigations into Hunter and maybe Joe? Subpoenas, searches and general panic among the Bidens reacting to those could unearth or ungarage some documents.

      That seems more plausible than any involvement of Heels Up Harris, code name Huh. She might be an unwitting beneficiary but doesn’t seem to have the acumen to plan, let alone see carried out, any of the necessary steps required to spirit in those mystery documents.

      If there is some IG momentum, then that might provide humor, relief and angst along with the possibility of a good old-fashioned resignation or two. The nation could use that given the proven, yet underappreciated, ability of Joe to F things up, domestic or foreign.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        If they’re preparing for some investigation, then I would expect lawyers working for Biden to, at a very minimum, be more discrete about their findings. Since they don’t appear to be behaving discretely, either they’ve “found” some innocuous secret documents to cover for all the incriminating documents they’ve “lost” (with no record), or they are serving others than just Biden.

        I would also think his response would be better since it was, again, his lawyers who found the docs so it’s not like it’s a surprise.

        Yet, the fact that this is all being reported now on every MSM outlet, and not buried like Hunter’s laptop means a) they’re taking Joe down – how dare he talk about running again, b) they’re hiding something else – hey, didn’t Mexico, US and Canada sign some treaty the other day that’s barely been reported – squirrel!, c) this will be twisted into some kind of precedent to better prosecute Orange man, or d) none or all of the above.

  12. Art_DogCT

    The Plant Antidote is a cultivar of Japanese Andromeda (Pierus japonicum). Not at all sure of which. There are a number of selections in commerce that have brightly colored new growth. This may be an unknown-to-me cultivar with the pictured mature foliage – it’s been some decades since I was au courant with the hort trade – but to me it and similar selections of other species simply look badly chlorotic. Typically mature foliage is a glossy deep green, after some 6 weeks from the point we see in the photo where the new growth is especially vivid. There are cultivars with new growth emerging deeper red, more pink, more orange. I’m quite fond of the species, very useful in the landscape/garden, and it provides great material for flower arrangements in and out of bloom.

    1. Harold

      I think the flowers have a fragrance of grape candy, if I am not mistaken. I like it, but at least one person I know doesn’t.

      I also gather than Pieris andromeda and Pieris japonica are synonyms, or that one (not sure which) is now preferred by botanists to the other, but the old name lingers on. It needs acid soil to look its best, so for greener leaves some holly (or rhododendron) fertilizer would be best

  13. Gil Schaeffer

    David Harvey, like most Marxists, doesn’t understand what moral rights are. The capitalists claim they have a right to dominate and exploit the working class, but this claim is morally indefensible. No one has a right to exploit and dominate others. The class struggle is not a struggle of right against right but a struggle of right against wrong. Marx made a hash of these moral distinctions with his functional theory of ideology and morality, and it has corrupted moral discourse on the left for more than a century.

    1. pjay

      – “The capitalists claim they have a right to dominate and exploit the working class, but this claim is morally indefensible.”

      It most certainly is morally “defensible” – we have a long tradition of liberal political and legal theory that does just that.

      Of course this moral “defense” is actually part of the legitimating ideology of capitalism, masked as universal values of individual rights, etc. If only there was a thinker who would systematically unmask such claims as merely a legitimating ideology reflecting the material interests of a dominant, exploiting class.

      Oh wait….

    2. agent ranger smith

      Didn’t Marx dismiss concerns of “morality” as being a silly obsession of Utopian Socialism? As opposed to his Scientific Socialism? ( When he wasn’t pretending to oppose Capitalism on moral grounds even while saying the whole world must be totally and utterly Capitalised so that the proletariat could finally take it all over?)

      1. Harold

        I think he objected to the idea that morality had a divine source, but what do I know? I can’t quote you chapter and verse.

      2. Gil Schaeffer

        Yes, he did dismiss concerns with morality as silly. It wouldn’t matter if his theory of proletarian revolution had come to pass, but it didn’t. So, what should we appeal to after we have debunked the capitalists’ “legitimating ideology” of private property and the free market, as pjay puts it? How about real universal values of individual rights beginning with equal voting rights and abolition of the Senate and Supreme Court.

  14. Lunker Walleye

    Twitter and photo cropping
    I have a beef with cropped canvasses on twitter. For those who have never seen the original painting, it gives a wrong impression to see a detail and believe you are seeing the whole thing. It’s like you are being deceived/cheated.

  15. Paradan

    So this year every time I see a Davos clip, in my mind, Barber’s Adagio for strings is playing. It’s kinda fun, give it a shot.

  16. upstater

    Good news from New York state. Hochul’s right wing nominee nominee for the top judge in its highest court has been rejected:

    LaSalle Is Rejected by New York Senate Panel in a 10-9 Vote

    ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Kathy Hochul’s embattled nominee to become New York State’s top judge was rejected on Wednesday by a key State Senate panel, the first time that New York lawmakers have rebuffed a governor’s choice for chief judge.

    The move was a remarkable rebuke of Ms. Hochul, a Buffalo-area Democrat, by members of her own party, but the rejection does not necessarily mean that the LaSalle saga is over. The governor has not ruled out taking legal action to force a vote of Justice LaSalle on the full Senate floor, raising the specter of a high-stakes constitutional showdown.

    NYT says Intraparty battle? Did they mean the Cuomo faction against everyone else?

    The Cuomo/Hochul/Adams plan to “redevelop” Penn Station is another enormous giveaway to real estate interests, like Hudson Yards. Glad we live far from NYC.

  17. agent ranger smith

    About the upcoming Republican Prmary Season . . . I gather that Trump is so bitter about DeSantis even thinking of running that Trump would run just to try and destroy DeSantis’s chances.

    I think it would be truly funny if erstile presidential-aspirant Kanye West were to also run in the Republican primaries rather than try his own little vanity Third Party or Independent effort.

    Trump v. DeSantis v. West. It would be like that climactic scene in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

      1. agent ranger smith

        Well, that’s understandable.

        Till recently I thought that as a decelerationist myself, I would vote for Biden again instead of any of the accelerationist choices.

        But if Biden’s choice of “slower glide path at a shallower angle” is designed to land on “Nuclear War with Russia”, then perhaps I have to rethink that all over again. ( Hopefully the Ukraine war will finish one way or the other before election 2024 so as to make that choice somewhat moot).

        A violent breakup of America into various warring Barbarian Kingdoms and Gilead Republics would be less bad than a Thermonuclear Democrat War with Russia.

        What to do . . . what to do . . .

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Dads Have Been Older than Moms since the Dawn of Humanity, Study Suggests”

    Perhaps not so surprising this. I have done a lot of genealogy research and a consistent pattern I find is men marrying women that are a year or two younger than themselves. Why this is so I am not sure but it is almost the norm this happening.

    1. eg

      I get the two year differential for marriage but that doesn’t line up very well with the almost 7 year differential for conception — unless there are a crap-ton of younger, pregnant mistresses in the mix?

      1. fjallstrom

        I would guess a) the numbers are pretty uncertain given the enormous extrapolation involved and b) on average more men survived their first marriage to have more kids.

        The scope is all of human history, and for much of human history child birth has been rather dangerous. Cultural norms on when to start a family differs, the problem of bipedalism plus large heads is a constant. Would be different if we were kangaroos (and I doubt there would be an abortion debate).

  19. Wukchumni

    Hanging out with dear old mom @ her assisted living place and finally got a chance to talk to Miriam, who is 4 days younger than her…

    Miriam was born to a German Jewish family and they got out of dodge circa 1936 via Italy to Shanghai on a 21 day sea trip.

    She had vague memories of the fatherland, and remembered there were ‘No Jews’ signs in the parks in Leipzig where she grew up.

    I asked if the Japanese persecuted her family or others in Shanghai, and apparently not.

    She was working for the UN in China in 1947 when they were told to wear their nicest clothes, as a special visitor was coming, and it happened to be Mao, who dropped in for handshakes and a photo op!

    She showed me the photo of her with the chairman, wow!

  20. Bob White

    Just came across this interesting article:
    Immunity, Capital, and Power in Antebellum New Orleans
    by Kathryn Olivarius (from April, 2019)

    It is an essay from this longer article:

    Many things seem to be a playbook for today…

    “Doctors stressed that “acclimation”—falling sick and surviving yellow fever—was the only defense against the scourge. But acclimation was hardly guaranteed: while half of all yellow fever victims gained lifetime immunity, the other half died.”
    “And if yellow fever could not be cured or stopped through public health measures, the commercial-civic elite argued that its deadliness could be transformed into a social panacea, weeding out the weak, immoral, and unworthy.”

    Both are well worth a read.
    Grab a cup of coffee, as Lambert says…

  21. Acacia

    Wise admits that he and others always knew that the emails on the Hunter Biden laptop were likely genuine

    Just skimming the 644 page report on HB’s laptop, you can see why they badly wanted to bury this story.

    I posted this yesterday, but quite late: https://hotfile.io/c76d84S8y7/BL_Report_2022_zip (409.66 MB, compressed, more accessible version)

    Warning: definitely NSFW content

  22. Tommy S

    Hey all, can I suggest a good book? Arise! by Heatherton ….What I said on social media about it, “James Tracy told me to read this book. Not done yet. But it is a must read. Taking the Mexican revolution of 1910, and expanding to the world of movements, and financial capitalism replacing simple mass extraction war colonialism. It aint cheap, university hard back press, but it’s worth it. I guess she is going to be at the new revamped Medicine for Nightmares 24th street bookstore in Feb. Douglas and Magon quotes, and the trajectory from mid 1800’s to 1920. Great history, but you know what else? She is a great writer. Not hippy flowery shit jumping from tangent to forced metaphors..tortoise vs mayfly shit…… But actually excellent common sense crafted prose. It’s one of those books that you can pull amazing quotes from. She is an amazing writer and historian.” Not as deep and long as Many Headed Hydra….but…

  23. Avon

    “Personally, I think McCarthy is right, even if he does desperately need to hang onto Santos’s vote. And I really, really dislike the concept of Democrats unelecting electeds based on moral panics they gin up (which I think is the precedent they want to set with all this).”

    I’ve reading NC since the financial crisis in 2009, and have donated for years, but have mostly stopped visiting at this point. Comments like the above underscore why. You guys have become far too blinded by your hatred of the Democratic establishment, IMO. At this point, I think a Republican could shoot someone dead and you’d probably add a snarky comment akin to, “well the Dems have killed plenty of people with their Covid policies, so who are they to panic over this.”

    Multiple things can be true at once. The Dems can be terrible. And they can be right that someone like Santos, who lies about his ENTIRE background, shouldn’t be in office, since he’d have already been fired from just about any other job on earth.

    This has been a common theme across a number of other topics, as well.

    -Russia invades Ukraine? Entirely the fault of the U.S. and NATO, definitely not Russia at all.
    -Lack of masking? Completely the fault of the CDC and establishment Dems, definitely not the hundreds of millions of people who either had or have no interest in masking.

    Just my 2 cents, from a former daily reader.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And I really, really dislike the concept of Democrats unelecting electeds based on moral panics they gin up (which I think is the precedent they want to set with all this

      I give the institutional logic, and having quoted it, you blow right past it in your effort to seize the finger-wagging high ground, good job. (Note that the Democrats have form, with RussiaGate).

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