2:00PM Water Cooler 1/6/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Melodious Warbler, Ribeira de Pena, Vila Real, Portugal.

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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 launches defense of student debt relief at Supreme Court” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden’s efforts to cancel student debt for millions of Americans “fall comfortably” within the law and enjoy ‘clear authorization’ from Congress, the Justice Department argued Wednesday in its opening brief defending the policy before the Supreme Court. The court filing, submitted late Wednesday evening, marks the beginning of a high-stakes battle at the court in the coming months over the fate of one of Biden’s major domestic policy programs…. Biden administration officials have extended the pause on federal student loan payments and interest while the Supreme Court considers the case. The administration has said that payments could remain suspended through as late as Aug. 30.”


Third Way readies its endorsement:

“The Partisan Ghost In The Media Machine” [Lever News]. ” As up to one million travelers were stranded by Southwest Airlines over the holiday season, The Lever uncovered documents (here, here, here and here) showing that Democratic state officials and congressional lawmakers had repeatedly begged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to toughen rules to deter airlines from mistreating their customers. As those documents and our new video detail, Buttigieg — the sole airline regulator under federal law — has plenty of power at his disposal. But he’s refused to use that authority, even after Southwest had experienced a similar meltdown a year ago. As William McGee of the American Economic Liberties Project put it: “Southwest was inevitable after [Buttigieg] failed to punish awful behavior all year.’… Buttigieg’s inaction was part of a larger pattern of lax regulation and weak enforcement that by some measures have been even weaker than those under the Trump administration. This is hardly surprising, considering Buttigieg is a political appointee who had never managed a major transportation system before being given his Cabinet job. His formative experience was working at a corporate consulting giant that would later suggest ways airlines could extract more fees from passengers.”

Republican Funhouse

“McCarthy flips 14 dissenters on 12th speaker ballot but still falls short” [Politico]. “Kevin McCarthy came up short in the 12th ballot in his bid for speaker on Friday, but chipped away at his dissenters by winning the support of 14 members who previously opposed his bid for the top gavel…. “We’re at a turning point. I’ve negotiated in good faith, with one purpose: to restore the People’s House back to its rightful owners. The framework for an agreement is in place, so in a good-faith effort, I voted to restore the People’s House by voting for @gopleader McCarthy,” Perry, chair of the conservative Freedom Caucus, tweeted during the vote. It’s a significant show of momentum for McCarthy, with one person close to Republican leadership indicating that the number of flips exceeded internal projections. Even so, it’s unclear what more the Californian can do to placate the remaining seven Republicans opposed to his bid…. All the while, McCarthy’s moderate allies, many of whom represent districts won by Biden, are increasingly leery of the number of concessions getting made to the right. ‘If this remains the face of the GOP in 2024 we will get pummeled in the Presidential and Congressional elections,’ said centrist Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.). ‘We would have won more seats in 2022, but too many feared the extremes in the GOP even before this.'”

“Chip Roy, Bless His Heart” [Texas Monthly]. “This week, he has picked one of his biggest battles in years, as he serves as the most prominent Texan in the crew of congresspeople who began the ongoing ritual humiliation and sacrifice of would-be House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Roy and a small group of like-minded warriors for freedom have effectively vetoed the nomination of the representative from Bakersfield, California, whom they view as a weak-kneed ‘Republican in Name Only,’ for an incredible eight rounds of voting. Typically, Texas politicians who fall in the That Guy category rail against the system and the establishment, which they say is a threat to the Texas values that many That Guys have dedicated their lives to defending. Roy, who was born inside the D.C. swamp in Bethesda, Maryland, and raised in Virginia, does precisely this, but he is a prominent member of a subcategory of That Guys who are also consummate insiders. He is a miniature of his longtime mentor and ally Ted Cruz: a veteran political operative from out of state, bound for the upper class, who rode to office on the back of a folksy populist persona and a nickname. They’re even both now experimenting with facial hair.”

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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“SBF and the Injustice Democrats” [Max Berger, Optimism of the Will]. “I found more evidence SBF was collaborating with AIPAC and Trump supporting billionaires to stop the growth of the squad and the electoral left. Five billionaire funded PACs were coordinating closely on a strategy to defeat progressive candidates in Democratic primaries — a kind of Injustice Democrats. Mark Mellman, a long-time operative and AIPAC ally, appears to be at the center of the effort and likely spearheaded the shared campaign. He was hired by four of the five groups this cycle, who collectively paid his firm $476,016.67. As you may have heard, SBF gave nearly $40 million to Democrats in 2022. But, I found that SBF wasn’t primarily funding groups that help Democrats defeat Republicans. According to FEC data, over 75% of the money SBF contributed to Democrats in 2022 went to groups that spent nearly all their money on competitive primaries in the Democratic Party.” So that’s what “Effective Altruism” means. More: “SBF personally contributed $29,250,000 to Protect Our [whose?] Future and DMI PAC (which later contributed the money to Web3 [ugh] Forward). Both of these groups spent the vast majority of their money on Democratic primaries. They also worked closely with two AIPAC affiliated SuperPACs called the United Democracy Project (UDP) and the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), and a group called Mainstream Democrats which aimed to defeat the ‘far-left.’… SBF was one of the key funders of the Injustice Democrats. But, SBF wasn’t the only billionaire to support the effort. Trump supporting billionaires Bernard Marcus (owner of Home Depot), Robert Kraft (owner of the Patriots), and Paul Singer (owner of Elliot Investment Management) each gave a million dollars to help defeat working class candidates. Overall, the five groups that make up the Injustice Democrats spent $44,454,111 on outside expenditure this cycle. What did SBF have in common with the pro-Israel lobby and pro-Trump billionaires? In short, a desire to staunch the rise of the left, and keep the Democratic Party in the hands of financial and political elites who protect the status quo.”

“Roaming Charges: No Speaker, No Cry” [Jeffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch]. “There are 100 members of the “Progressive Caucus,” who capitulated within seconds to nearly every demand Pelosi made, and 40 members of the Freedom Caucus who don’t mind waterboarding their own leader in public to get their way & ditching him if they don’t.”

“XBB.1.5: All you need to know about the new ‘Kraken’ COVID strain” [EuroNews]. “The subvariant, which has been renamed the “Kraken” (like the legendary sea monster) is estimated to have originated between November and December 2022 in or around New York state in the US.” • Chuck, Hakeem: Take a bow, on behalf of the Blue States! NOTE Reuters, Sky, Bloomberg, Time don’t mention Kraken’s origin. The Los Angeles Times says it originated “in the Northeast.” CTV (Canada) says its origins are “unclear.” Via New Atlas, yes, New York:

I’d love to know where in New York. Upstate? The City? Queens?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“My Week Inside a Right-Wing “Constitutional Defense” Training Camp” [The New Republic]. “The idea of combining political instruction and 35 hours of intense, combat-focused pistol training in 2023 America seems insurrectionary on its face. And it is, but not in the immediately obvious way. The guns are a red herring. The insurrection, if Patriot Academy has its way, will be bloodless: a heart transplant for the body politic. Patriot Academy, along with many fellow-traveler evangelical organizations across the country, is engaged in a life-and-death struggle to rewrite America’s Constitution—and teaching its supporters how to defend themselves with a handgun, just in case…. Constitutional Defense is shockingly affordable for what it offers: $500 for four days of handgun training and a day of lectures. Comparable classes elsewhere cost up to $500 per day. Nor is the training shoddy. As a veteran and a longtime gun owner, I have been through my share of firearms courses. Constitutional Defense is far and away the best training I have ever received. Only after the class is over do I put it together. The handgun course is a loss leader. The ideology is the product. This moral marketing began before the class did. Upon registration, Patriot Academy automatically enrolled us in Biblical Citizenship, an eight-week online course hosted by Rick Green and a man named Mark Meckler. Halfway through Constitutional Defense, a cheerful Patriot Academy employee delivered a half-hour–long seminar on the virtues of becoming a Constitution Coach, complete with a prize for the person who signed up first. Constitution coaching, Patriot Academy’s flagship program, is a fascinating spin on a now-common concept: online conservative education. Unlike many other courses, Patriot Academy does not intend for participants to take these classes in the privacy of their home. Instead, the organization encourages interested parties to recruit a class of people to watch the material and go through the workbook together. These Constitution Coaches then encourage their students to form groups of their own and bring the material to new people. Classic MLM recruiting technique, but with ideological downlines instead of monetary ones. The organization claims over 500,000 students trained in “Constitutional Foundations of Freedom” so far.” • I don’t want to be cranky about it, but this program sounds fantastically well-designed. Why can’t the left (assuming there is such a thing) put a program like this together? Have they left everything to the NGOs? The whole article is well worth a read. Once again, conservatives are serious about their politics.


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). Wastewater has taken off in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, right on time, two weeks after Thanksgiving. Those are not only in themselves large cities, they are all the sites of international airports (reminiscent of the initial surge in spring 2020, which emanated, via air travel, from New York). Wastewater is a leading indicator for cases, which in turn lead hospitalization (and death). In addition, positivity has reached its highest level ever, at least at Walgreens, and BQ.1* has taken over, closely followed by XBB, and both are immunue escape variants. UPDATE Walgreen’s positivity, Boston MWRA data going vertical, and the rapid rise of XBB in the Northeast are all very concerning. The effects of all our holiday travel should be playing out in the next two weeks. Readers, please feel free to add holiday anecdotes.

Stay safe out there!

“Meet the biology professor who named the surging ‘Kraken’ COVID variant. He has more to help make sense of Omicron’s ‘alphabet soup'” [Fortune]. “New strains of Omicron are becoming increasingly more transmissible and evasive, with the ability to dodge immunity from prior vaccination and infection. And using the term ‘Omicron’ or something like XBB.1.5 to describe them just isn’t cutting it anymore, Dr. Ryan Gregory, a biology professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, told Fortune. ‘Kraken’ is what he calls XBB.1.5, which the WHO just declared the most transmissible Omicron variant yet. For months, Gregory has worked to offer up ‘street names’ for complicated COVID strains, in a bid to better communicate the evolving Omicron threat to the public. And as pseudonyms go, he’s got a lot more where the Kraken came from. With input from both professional and ‘citizen’ scientists around the globe, Gregory has compiled a list of memorable monikers from Greek mythology and other realms— Chiron, Argus, Basilisk, and Typhon—for the Omicron spawn that medical experts believe pose the greatest threats in the near future. He told Fortune he was inspired by a Twitter user who dubbed the Omicron strain BA.2.75 ‘Centaurus’ this summer, and saw the media and some experts pick up the moniker. Since Gregory began using Kraken—an aggressive sea monster from Scandinavian folklore—shortly after Christmas, it’s quickly gained steam, as reported by Bloomberg. The term has been picked up by a host of other international and national news outlets including Insider and Sky News. Centaurus was named in journal articles and used by the likes of Nature and the Guardian. And some variant trackers are now using the proposed names as hashtags on Twitter.” • WHO dropping the ball at best; at worst, leaving the variants unnamed is a subtle form of minimization (“Omicron is mild,” right?)

* * *

• “Firefighter arsonists”:

Firefighter arsonists are a real thing…

* * *

• More good news on XBB.1.5:

China should really be testing US travellers. XBB.1.5 could be worse than what they’ve already got (they say BA.5.2 and BF.7).

• “Mid- and Long-Term Atrio-Ventricular Functional Changes in Children after Recovery from COVID-19” [Journal of Clinical Medicine]. n=157. “Our study demonstrated for the first time the persistence of [Left ventricular (LV)] myocardial deformation abnormalities in previously healthy children with an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic (WHO stages 0 or 1) COVID-19 course after an average follow-up of 148 ± 68 days. A more significant involvement was found in children affected during the second wave. These findings imply that subclinical LV dysfunction may also be a typical characteristic of COVID-19 infection in children and are concerning given the predictive value of LV longitudinal strain in the general population.” Perhaps somebody from the Brain Trust can translate “given the predictive value of LV longitudinal strain in the general population.” Dry, very dry.

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: Canada’s public health brain geniuses pushing surgical masks:

It’s the same for our own CDC. They seem to have settled on “high quality” (which doesn’t mean anything, since who would recommend a “low quality” product?) because “N95” is verboten, or scary, or something.

• Maskstravaganza: Fashion forward masking:

I applaud the effort, but the masks should be designed so that they can be styled in the first place. If they didn’t look like medical appliances, but looked like athletic shoes or even Venetian carnival masks — masks would then be seasonal, a marketing opportunity — people would be much more likely to wear them.

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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.) 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 6:

0.1%. Decreasing rate of increase, but still the highest ever.


Wastewater data (CDC), January 2:

Too much red (even with Illinois offline). JFK/LGA (Queens County, NY), SFO (San Francisco, CA), LAX (Los Angeles) are all red. ATL (Cobb County, GA) no longer. ORD (Cook County, IL) is offline.

December 27:

And MWRA data, December 29:

Lambert here: Still yikes, even if both North and South are down. And certainly 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 23:

Lambert here: BQ.1* 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.

Variant data, national (CDC), December 17 (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 5:

Quite a jump, this time. Of all the charts, I find this steady rise the most worrisome, because it doesn’t fit into any of the narratives.

• Hospitalization data for Queens, updated December 31:

I don’t know whether this is a genuine jump or a backward revisions, but I’ve been waiting for Queens to move after the holidays, because (I assume) a lot of LGA/JFK workers live there, or at least commute through there.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,120,804 – 1,120,040 = 764 (764 * 365 = 278,860 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

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The unemployment rate in the US dropped to 3.5 percent in December 2022, falling below market expectations of 3.7 percent and matching the rates seen in September and July, which were the lowest since February 2020. The latest jobs report came on the heels of a sharp decline in weekly jobless claims to three-month lows and a smaller-than-expected decrease in the level of job openings in November, pointing to a still-tight and strong labor market, which could mean the US central bank will continue hiking interest rates for a while.” • Maybe the new metaphor for “pushing on a string” should be “tightening a rubber thumbscrew.” Because Jay Powell doesn’t seem to be torturing the workers nearly hard enough. (Or maybe “the fool in the torture chamber”?) Then again–

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods decreased by 1.8 percent in November of 2022, down following three consecutive monthly increases and after a downwardly revised 0.4 percent increase in October. It compared with market expectations of a 0.8 percent decline.”

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI for the US fell to 49.6 in December of 2022, pointing to the first contraction in the services sector since May of 2020 in the height of the covid pandemic, and well below market forecasts of 55.”

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Manufacturing: “Tesla, EV rivals absorb costs after China pulls plug on subsidy” [Reuters]. “China’s decision to end a more than decade-long subsidy for electric vehicle purchases has forced automakers, including Tesla, to deepen discounts to maintain sales as demand eases in the world’s largest market. The government originally planned to phase out the support scheme for EV makers and battery suppliers by the end of 2020, but extended it until the end of December in response to the pandemic. As China grapples with the upheaval of an upsurge in COVID-19 cases and its economy grows at the slowest pace in decades, Tesla, Xpeng (9868.HK) and SAIC-GM-Wuling (600104.SS), (GM.N) have opted to hold consumer prices flat in January. The subsidy accounted for around 3% to 6% of the cost of the best-selling electric vehicles in China last year, a Reuters analysis found. Other EV makers, including Tesla’s larger rival BYD and SAIC-Volkswagen, have raised prices for some models but opted to absorb most of the cost of the subsidy, the Reuters tally showed.”

Tech: “Whatever happened to Google Search?” [Financial Times]. “In the meantime, we will have to adapt to the prevalence of ads. Just as we trained ourselves to use key words when searching online, we may start using Google Search for purchases rather than factual queries. The change could be positive. Outsourcing our collective knowledge to a single tech company never made much sense to begin with.” • What a weak conclusion!!!!

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 43 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 37 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 6 at 1:27 PM EST.

The Gallery

Looks crunchy:

Zeitgeist Watch

If not in your backyard, what about on your roof?

Health Care

“‘We’re Going to Need Everybody’: Recordings Captured Response to N.F.L. Crisis” [New York Times]. • Everybody should have spectacularly good health care, not just football stars. Maybe we could spend our “Ukraine dividend” on that.

Class Warfare

“Forcing Railroad Workers to Accept a Contract They’ve Rejected Is Violence” [Foundation for Economic Education]. The deck: “In a capitalist society, exchange is not just mutually beneficial but voluntary.” • This is a libertarian view. Lying in the street for conservatives to pick up, should they wish to.

News of the Wired

A neat trick, transferable elsewhere?

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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 Carla:

Carla writes: “My winter garden. I potted up the coleus from garden cuttings rooted in water in Sept. Brought the pink flowering begonia in from the patio. In summer, the blooms are lush & a vibrant red. The orchids on the mantel were all under 10 bucks each at Home Depot, but they’re grown in Oberlin, Ohio, so we actually have local orchids in NE Ohio! They bloom year after year, thanks to the bright indirect light in our sunroom.”

Oops, I deleted my bleg for more plants, implying I have enough. I do not! Readers, please send me more plants!

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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. Paleobotanist

    Dear all,

    What do you do to kill fungus flies in houseplants? I’m in Quebec. I love my houseplants in winter like most Quebecois and Quebecoises, but I loathe fungus flies in them. Any advice?


    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Paleo: Put a couple of drops of ordinary dish detergent into a spray bottle filled with water. Spritz away. The diluted soap seems to cause the critters to suffocate.

      1. nippersdad

        Excellent suggestion. Only one quibble: soap gives them a fatal case of diarrhea, things like Neem oil suffocates them. Using dish soap as a surfactant to hold the Neem oil on works really well.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I don’t have problems with fungus *flies* but my curly-leaf spider plants (which need lots of water) sometimes develop a fungus proper on the surface of the soil. Davenport is built on limestone and the water is very high in lime deposits, which I assume is the cause. When watering, I add 4 tsp baking soda per gallon of water and the altered PH seems to get rid of it.

      I have heard the dish soap solution works very well for almost any kind of bug on house plants but those don’t seem to be much of a problem here [crosses fingers].

      1. ChrisRUEcon


        I didn’t realize on my first visits to the page that there was an “include annual averages” checkbox that was unselected. If you check it, and hit “GO”, another column is added to the table. Selecting only year and annual average yields this:

        Year Annual Avg
        2012 906
        2013 940
        2014 953
        2015 907
        2016 1001
        2017 951
        2018 981
        2019 960
        2020 1463
        2021 1436
        2022 1583

        (The mismanagement of) COVID has basically added a cool half-a-million to (average monthly) reported illness-related work absences – another horrid #LivingWith™ data point.


    1. ChrisRUEcon

      #COVID19 #Masktravaganza

      I kinda want to put some FarUV LEDs on a KN95 mask … this would get grade school kids excited I think, just like those light-up sneakers!

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m watching C-Span and kind of hoping that one of the dissenters says something like:

      You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency by keeping Congress unable to do anything, at long last?

      1. Wukchumni

        Now approaching the 14th tee and if this was a PGA tournament, the Pachyderm Party would be able to do a Mulligan, as he was only 3 votes from the promised land on what experts are calling an unlucky 13th attempt.

        The only other use i’m aware of with Mulligan is stew and he’s been doing a lot of stewing.

          1. Wukchumni


            You wonder how much of how little is left of Kev’s soul that’ll need to be sold off in order to strike a bargain?

            I was secretly hoping there would be 30 holdouts so I could insert a ’30 pieces of silver’ quip, but you go with the cards dealt as I’s c a riot in the ranks.

          2. Carolinian

            I saw Gerry Mulligan once with Dave Brubeck (this was post Desmond). How cool is that?

            As for Kev, one of our Upstate congresspeople wanted him to bring back term limits. I doubt that was one of the concessions although it might finally convince Pelosi to retire should the Dems go along. Otherwise she may hang around as long as Strom Thurmond.

            1. ambrit

              It is the definition of “cool” for civilized Terran humans. “Music is the international language” is no mere advertising jingle.
              Stay safe.

      2. agent ranger smith.

        I disagree.

        Let the ” Sedition Caucus” burn itself at the stake on prime time TV.

            1. ambrit

              The one we took in the kente cloth or the Peggy Fleming one?
              When SNL was funny: (Which skit, where Kunte Kinte is told, and lashed for disagreeing, that his ‘new’ name is Peggy Fleming seems to have been thrown down the YouTube “Memory Hole.” SNL is infamous for this sort of retwoking it’s old content.)

              1. agent ranger smith

                I have seen some of that memory-holing at the so-called Internet Archive Wayback Machine too. How can one possibly know in advance what will be memory holed in order to know what to save for oneself on one’s own storage media, sanitarily air-gapped from the web? Or the net?

                Separately, I watched SecTrans Buttigeig replying to that Fox News guy asking him about the “taxpayer-funded airflight” for Mr. B and his spouse.
                My feeling was . . . Dawg! He SMOOooove! ” “Smooove” like Obama, of unlamented memory. I think someday the Democrats will position him as the Great White Obama. Mayobama Pete. The next step in Diversity of Representation.

                Harris/Buttigeig here we come. Maybe they will want Andy ” Ratface” Cuomo as their FBI Director, for his dark brooding presence and air of menace.

                Now, as I have noted before, if I were an accelerationist, I would vote Republican, maybe straight ticket Republican. But since I suspect I am unfit to survive Helter Skelter, I won’t vote for accelerationism. What is a handy word for the opposite of “accelerationism/accelerationist”? How about ” decelerationism/decelerationist”?

                An accelerationist wants to crash America into terrain in a vertical power dive, confident he/she will live to rule over everything that survives in the crater. A decelerationist wants to crash-land America into terrain in a semi-controlled non-vertical glide path to a crash landing. in hopes of surviving the impact.

                I remember the McCain versus Obama election. I offered the thought to a Black co-worker of mine that if the time had come to fly the plane into the side of the mountain, that McCain would be the man for the job. He countered that McCain would indeed try for nuclear war with Iran and any supporters it had in order to assure his place in history by blowing the world off its axis. I was flirting with accelerationism and he was a decelerationist. I ended up making the decelerationist choice in that election.

                1. ambrit

                  I voted for Obama that first time, probably because I already saw the signs of Terminal Decadence in Hillary. Plus, I wanted to believe in “Hope and Change.” I think that we all did. Shame on me, but there it is.
                  The second time, I voted Green. I have voted Third Party ever since. (Previously, I twice voted for Perot. I still stand by those votes.)
                  In a very real sense, and classically Neo-liberal to boot, the “Hope and Change” election was quintessentially “Bait and Switch.” Ever since, the Democrat party has embraced the strategy of promising X and secretly agreeing internally that X really means Y. That is what I see as the internal logic of Identity Politics. Roughly, an “Identity” can be twisted and turned to mean whatever the ruling elites of the period want it to mean. Thus, the infamous quote attributed to a Bush the Younger White House aide’s quip; “..we create our own reality.”
                  I think that the above is the ‘enabling legislation’ for a wholesale “escape from reality” by our political class. ‘The Bubble’ really is nothing but hot air and a soap film. When it pops….
                  Stay safe.

                  1. agent ranger smith

                    I too voted for Obama the first time. The Hopium and the Changeium was the pull-factor. The push-factor was this: that if McCain got elected we would have either one or two terms of McCain, and then two terms of Palin after that. I wanted to derail that outcome.

                    Ahead of the 2nd Obama campaign, I crashed the Republican primary to vote for Romney. I felt that a President Romney wouldn’t be any worse than President Obama. When Romney got the Repub nomination, I was free to vote for “Rocky” Anderson of the “Peace and Justice” Party, which I did.
                    I would sometimes tell people that Rocky Anderson was ” the other White Mormon”, which is a play on Big Pork’s slogan about pork . . . ” Pork. the other White Meat”.

                    I voted for Trump to stop TPP and TTIP and also to see him kick some shit over sideways and stomp on it. I also hated the Clintons and I still do. I wanted revenge for NAFTA. I was one of 60,000 votes for Trump over Hillary which helped defeat the Hillarrhoid in Michigan. Cry Hillary cry.

                    After 4 years I felt I had watched the Trump Show long enough so I voted for Biden in order to change the channel,.

                    I remember being in the hospital during the first huge surge wave of Covid. ( I was in for something totally different). I watched the TV all day. I remember watching Trump competing with Cuomo for eyeballs and praise. Trump had run as Luke Trumpwalker, but he turned himself into Captain Queeg before my very eyes on TV in those daily presentations of his. I couldn’t bear the thought of another term for President Captain Queeg, so I voted for Biden.

                    Clinton is evil at the center of her toxic radioactive waste soul. Biden is merely awful . . . a dumm stupid belligerent deeply shallow and proudly ignorant corrupt local politician from the Delaware Plantation. Not as bad as Captain Queeg in a sea full of land mines.

                    Tomorrow and beyond? I am a decelerationist because I need time to adjust to the decline and fall of America into whatever takes its place. So I will vote for Kamalabama Harris and Mayobama Pete in the next election to buy myself a few years of decline-and-fall going slow enough that I can cope with it and keep up and maybe get myself into an ultra-fortified hyper-defensible survival doomstead situation.

                    I will need time to prepare and adjust. A President DeTrumpis or Trumpeo or Cottontrump or Trumpawley or Captain Queeg himself will speed the decline and fall to faster than I can keep up with. Voting Republican is a counter-survivalist move if you are a decelerationist. Voting for deceleration is one way I hope to stay safe.

                    And I welcome the contempt of any performative accelerationist radicals who will remind me of just how contemptible they find me. If my upcoming vote for Harris and Buttlegug makes them mad, then that makes me happy.

  2. Synoia

    Zeitgeist Watch (La Version)

    If not in your backyard, what about on your roof?

    Will not will in SOCal. Needs to be a (very) short walk to house house. /s

  3. Wukchumni

    They’re even both now experimenting with facial hair.”

    There’s a lot to unpack with that statement, stubble notwithstanding.

    I’d like to state for the record that My Kevin (since ’07) might slightly resemble a Romulan if he was sporting some, and that’d sway somebody in the Donkey Show Federation on the distaff side to his cause.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I had to shave off my full beard — which I have have have had since age 19. I did it to assure the best possible fit for my P100 mask. I miss my beard but in lieu of a beard, I have been trying to grow a nice full mustache to twirl — with mixed success. It does seem to be slowly growing in to match mustaches I have seen in old photographs. I should chase down some ‘butch’ wax to keep it from drooping but I am leery of the touch and feel of butch wax. Perhaps some olive oil might suffice ??? I like the taste and smell of olive oil.

      1. Acacia

        Colonel Conk Model 118 Moustache Wax

        “Critical for the Snidely Whiplash look”

        Before this, the other villains laughed at me as I attempted to twirl my moustache while tying the damsel to the railroad tracks… No more! With Colonel Conk, my twirling has reached new heights and now I’m the envy of the other evil moneylenders everywhere.

  4. AndrewJ

    I’m not seeing any better path for Americans than a constitutional convention. Granted, I hope for gridlock and an eventual amendment that dissolves the whole federal project, leaving the states free to choose their own regional compacts. But what better option is there? Wait for a viable alternative party to the corporate duopoly to emerge, and not be coopted? How else will our bloated military and paranoid surveillance state be put in the ground?
    Oh yes, things will suck for the majority of Americans – possibly worse than now, but a lot of us are in bad situations already – but maybe if they don’t have Washington to blame anymore, they’ll have to consider politics beyond tribalism for the first time in their lives. Imagine that, having to be a citizen.
    It is unfortunate that all the energy for this is coming from the right, but I’ll take what I can get. Again, what other option is there?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      If you give both of these flavors of corporate oligarchy a constitutional convention, they will officially make us the United Corporation of America that the conspiracy theorists think we already are.

    2. agent ranger smith

      The Legions of Koch and their smart ALEC supporters have a Libertarian Constitution all lined up and ready to go.

      You say you want a Constitutional Convention for a new Constitution? You will get the Koch Brothers Constitution. You will get it and you will take it and you will like it, whether you like it or not.

      1. hunkerdown

        Well, if you’d actually destroyed the careers of your party officials who allow the GOP to exist, instead of LARPing with them and calling for them to be stronger, we wouldn’t be having these problems. May I suggest not pleading partisan apologetics, and instead apologizing for your part in supporting childish partisan cosmologies and insipid games of property and status?

    3. Verifyfirst

      A new Constitutional Convention is a lot closer than you might imagine. I still can’t believe this got passed in Michigan–and by the Democrats. I never heard a peep about it. Seems like the “left”, which I know, does not actually exist in the US, should be fighting for repeal in states that have passed it.

      Here an explainer from Common Cause:


      1. spud

        yep, if you want to see a libertarian coup on the constitution, look no further than 1993 onwards. brad delong pretty much said it. he should know. he was there.

        if you did not see in 1993 the beginnings of the failed state that america was becoming, you did not pay attention. or you are a vote blue no matter who type.

    4. Samuel Conner

      I regard a constitutional convention with deep trepidation. I have the impression that one of the items on the agenda would be the enshrinement in a revised Constitution of permanent austerity in the form of a constitutional mandate for balance or surplus in the Federal budget. Unless US were to become a permanent trade surplus nation, which seems unlikely, this would lead to chronic recession as the Federal surplus pulled money out of the domestic private sector (this is a consequence of the Sectoral Balances Identity).

      OTOH, this would be a salutary learning experience for the rest of the world. We in USA (well, our elites, though the plebs have gone along with it) have been willing to push hardship onto other nations for our own benefit; it would be just, though painful, if the direction of the flow of hardship were to reverse.

      I hope that if there is a convention, this is not on the table.

      1. AndrewJ

        I doubt that would go anywhere. The military must be paid for, and TPTB know they just print money to fund it.
        Maybe I’m of a Rasputinian mindset: things have got to get worse before they get any better. At least give us a chance to devolve powers to the states – I have a hard time believing things wouldn’t improve if the elite had to buy fifty legislatures instead of just one, if the US military was split into fifty parts, etc. The risk is we get a libertarian’s Constitution. That’s worse than what we have. But what we have now is a democidal government run by a uniparty and lives off war. Most Americans of my generation will never afford a house, never mind gen Z. Healthcare is a joke. Lots of people see no future. How much worse can it get? Will it getting worse actually get citizens to act like a citizenry? The alternative is… what, hopes and prayers?

      2. Nikkikat

        I was a Union President for American Federation state county municipal employees. One thing you never ever do is go to negotiations and open your contract. You tell them one or two things you are open to discussions on. They agree and you agree and it’s signed. There after no discussion off anything takes place except those two things.
        They are on the table. Nothing else. There are also side letters. Which can be a way of not opening the contract, but agreeing to supply that has arisen and needs defining.
        The constitution which really doesn’t mean much anyway. Would be as they say above the Koch brothers constitution.

    5. Tom Doak

      There is no way all that power would just be left lying in the street. It’s extremely naive to think so.

      What would all of the intelligence agency people do? Just go into the private sector? Or would every statelet / region suddenly need its own Defense Department?

      1. AndrewJ

        I’d rather there was an equal push from the left for a convention, who could actually propose an improved constitution of the united states… but we don’t have a left in this country, only liberals, and they’re perfectly happy with the meat-grinder status quo.

        1. ambrit

          Hmmm…. given the very recent spectacle in the House of Representatives over the election of a Speaker, a parallel between that and the “meat grinder” of the Ukrainian side of the Donbass front seems appropriate.

  5. Roger Blakely

    doesn’t fit into any of the narratives.

    It seems like we have an annual pattern. Let’s take it like the Roman calendar starting in March. March through June are our good months. Things heat up at the Fourth of July. We run a high plateau from July to Halloween. At Halloween it kicks off. From Halloween we build to a climax in January (holiday season). Things drop off pretty quickly through February and March. Rinse and repeat.

  6. Angie Neer

    I detest the “[something that’s bad but not violence] is violence” framing in every context, but assumed it was a progressive-idpol phenomenon. Didn’t expect to see it from a libertarian perspective, but that’s a failure on my part. It’s right in line with “taxation is theft.” Naked Capitalism once again expands my horizons with a link I never would have seen otherwise.

    1. cnchal

      The author writes like an escapee from the Mises Institute.

      In a free society, the solution to this dilemma would be simple. Workers (or their union) would have the right to negotiate a contract with their employer. If the sides could not reach an agreement, each would go their own way: the workers could find employment elsewhere; and the employer could find different workers.
      – – – – – – – – –
      Some may find amusement in the fact that the federal laws labor unions fought for are now being used to force them into a contract they don’t want. But this misses the point.

      A free and moral society would not be forcing railroad workers into a contract they don’t wish to accept any more than it would be forcing companies to negotiate with workers.

      This freedom is what makes capitalist societies not just more prosperous, but more moral than non-capitalist societies. Exchange is not just mutually beneficial but voluntary.

      The implication is that society is not free due to this dilemma being complicated and we are less prosperous than we should be.

      Were the railroad workers to quit en masse, which they could do even in this so called unfree world the author imagines we live in, which would not break any back to work law imposed by government, PSR railroading would die on the spot. I’m sure though, were that to happen, Buffet would make the case that the National Guard has to run the trains for him or society gets destroyed. Capital has the upper hand no matter what the peasants do.

      Consider the tech employees getting the chop now and finding the “non compete” clause in their employment contract enforced. For moar than a decade the mantra was learn to code. At no time were any made aware that you could only code for one employer and that’s it. Law is code and code is law bites coders in the ass. Clever, or in my opinion, criminal corporate lawyers, themselves employed by capital write this up and peasants sign on the dotted line coerced into agreeing. How else are you going to pay for the education you borrowed money for and eat at the same time? It is only after the fact, when the boom ends, that the realization that you have been had sinks in.

      What the author misses is that government is now owned and controlled by capital, therefore it didn’t put Buffet up against the wall and slap him around. It was the worker that got slapped by capital using government to do the slapping.

      1. agent ranger smith

        But would the National Guardfolk have the knowledge and experience to operate trains and railroads the way the railroad workers have? If not, and if all the railroad workers just resigned en masse, he could put the Guardsfolk on the trains, but could he make them make the trains run on time?

        Without Lac Megantic after Lac Megantic after Lac Megantic?

        1. cnchal

          The National Guardfolk would run the system just fine, perhaps not on time, so initially one could forget about the “P” in PSR. Buffet’s profits suffer, boo hoo.

          There is a precedent for this. When Reagan fired air traffic controllers en masse the scare story was takeoffs and landings would interfere with each other with dire consequences. The rest is history.

          1. ambrit

            Running the actual trains would probably be the easy part. Track maintenance and associated tasks will be the hard part. Reagan was “lucky” in that he had a cadre of trained air traffic controllers available to function as scabs; the air force base personnel. So, replacing the civilian air traffic controllers with functionally equivalent military models was doable. I do not see any Military Train Troops to replace the striking railroad workers with.
            Some skills are not transferrable. Hence, I would expect the Government to press gang railroad workers. Put the strikers in chains and “make” them work their old jobs. If they refuse to comply, simply lock them up and not feed them for a few days. I can see this present Ruling Elite acting that way. It would flow naturally from their “sense of entitlement.”

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Left, Right or Libertarian, they all have their own iterations of IdPol. For the Left it’s the Social Justice/Woke narrative; for the Right, it’s the Nativist/Real American trope; and for the Libertarians, it’s the useless mouths versus the heroic wealth creators…

      1. hunkerdown

        Oratory is a class marker, not an ideological marker. It really is the same dramas in different words over and over for 2000 years. Thanks, Aristotle, tutor of the wealthy and powerful.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          JC, Iulius Gaius Caesar, was relatively plain spoken and of the populares party.

          Stephen King in his book on writing said he said she said is divine. If it’s not simple, it’s probably a lie.

        2. Acacia

          Well, Aristotle wasn’t the origin of rhetoric — it was already well established by the Sophists — but more of a cataloger, and the first sentence of his Rhetoric is “Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic.” i.e., he took the position that it wasn’t totally antithetical to philosophical inquiry but was something that should be understood together with philosophy, not primarily rejected, as Plato did. Even Plato — if you compare the Gorgias (first period of his writings) with the later Phaedrus —, amends his position over time.

  7. ChrisFromGA

    Perhaps 2023 will be the year of de-globalization?

    (New wave, reggae beat)

    He blows through billions with his crypto cons
    None of his friends know right from wrong
    You thought your bitcoin was there, and now it is gone!
    You must de-globalize yourself!

    Zelensky wears his clown uniform
    Have to send more fiat just to keep him warm
    Because endless war is the social norm
    You must de-globalize yourself!

    De-globalize yourself, De-globalize yourself
    De-globalize yourself, De-globalize yourself!

    I live in a cashless society
    Tracked by ads that follow me
    There must be a reason that I can’t see.
    ( you must de-globalize yourself!)

    Xi just formed the Eurasian front
    He always was a commie punk
    He’s going to trade in Yuan with those OPEC skunks!
    He will de-dollarize himself!

    (Repeat Chorus)

  8. thousand points of green

    Another book about tree roots . . .

    I have recently come across word of a book by Noboru Karizumi called Illustrations Of Tree Roots. It is a lot of charts and maps of dug-up trees’ roots, but only the central core roots semi near to the tree. Beyond close to the tree, the roots are “amputated”.

    I am finding it extremely difficult to find any useful on line referrences to this book. This is about as good as on-line seems to get, which is not good.

    I cannot find anywhere a set of “images” of Karizumi’s tree root maps. The only images I can find are fairy tale crap.

    If I say ” tree root systems image” I get a little less crap, but still no Karizumi so far as I can tell.

  9. agent ranger smith

    ” It’s the same for our own CDC. They seem to have settled on “high quality” (which doesn’t mean anything, since who would recommend a “low quality” product?) because “N95” is verboten, or scary, or something. ”

    What if the reason that CDC and Canada’s ” CDC” don’t want to say anything like ” N95″ is because our two “CDCs” want covid to keep spreading as far and wide as possible? I’m not saying they are, I’m just wondering if that could be their secret reason. As Peggy Noonan once said: ” Would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to (speculate).”

    1. t

      If you are wondering about the CDC, never hurts to consider the body blow of the Government Shutdown. Many jobs, even whole departments, of the CDC, FDA, USDA, OSHA, and so forth lost forever. Presumably the plan. Even worse, ongoing research projects just over.

      1. agent ranger smith

        Good point. Someone could run on the concept of restoring the degraded departments’/agencies’ funding and staffing. And if elected overwhelmingly enough to gain actual power to be used, they could re-staff CDC with people who accept that ” covid is airborne”.

  10. Hepativore

    I am not sure where I stand on the student loan issue as I am hearing conflicting reports about Biden’s motives. In one hand, you have people like Kyle Kulinski arguing that Biden is acting in good faith and genuinely wants to have some sort of student loan relief and is hesitant to exercise the power of Executive Order to do so even if he is blocked by the Supreme Court…


    Biden does not actually want to do any student loan relief at all and this whole thing is just for show and he has no intention of following through on any of it and if it is blocked by the supreme Court, it will allow him to throw up his hands and say that there is nothing he could have done, so stop asking about it.

    1. nippersdad

      All one need do to resolve that quandary is look at the voting history of the Senator from MBNA. It was he who made it so that one could not discharge student loan debt in his signature bankruptcy bill.

      One can never be too cynical.

      1. agent ranger smith

        A Social Democrat Party, if one ever arose, could run on repealing the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 19 whenever-it-was and going back to the status quo ante that act. Among other things.

  11. Earl Erland

    “[W]ho would recommend a “low quality” product?” Sounds like we need a new game:

    Lambert Ball:

    1. Jim Clyburn x 2
    2. Any Military Contractor
    3. The DNC
    4. Anyone whose Job depends on it.

    Batters up!

  12. C.O.

    Meanwhile, in BC the province has decided to open the covid emergency centres again, but it isn’t really about covid, it’s because they are expecting a “surge in flu, respiratory illness, and COVID cases,” and “Health Minister Adrian Dix says they’ve been coping with an unprecedented increase in demand in the health care system.” An unprecedented increase that is just happening for some mysterious reason, along with the ongoing shortage of cold and flu medications for adults.


    I just checked the provincial information page on COVID-19, and according to that page, the last time anyone bothered to update it was October 12, 2022.

    B.C.to reactivate COVID emergency operations centres to prepare for expected increase in illness

  13. XXYY

    I don’t want to be cranky about it, but this program sounds fantastically well-designed. Why can’t the left (assuming there is such a thing) put a program like this together?

    To anyone who did leftist political organizing in the sixties and seventies, this whole program sounds extremely familiar. The goal of all organizing is to identify and organize people and then use those people to organize other people. There is nothing new going on here, in fact the right wing is very late to the party.

    For any organizer worth his or her salt, the immediate or nominal goal is not the main goal. The main goal is to build a capable, energetic, and dedicated organization that can do things over years.

    The Obama and to some extent, the Sanders electoral campaigns were bad examples of how to do it. Once the election was over, the movement behind the candidate dispersed (in the case of Obama, OFA was deliberately shut down by Democratic party officials who doubtless, and rightly, saw it as dangerous).

    Occupy, OTOH, was a terrific example of how to do it. Taking back public parks was the nominal goal, but in hindsight we can see it was mostly an organizing tool. Years later offshoots of Occupy are still doing remarkable and worthwhile things like mortgage relief, natural disaster relief, and supporting other political candidates in smaller races. DSA is also very good at this same style of organizing.

    If Abby Hoffman somehow came back to life right now, he would see what right-wingers are doing to organize people and nod his head sagely at their tactics. The left has nothing to “learn” here, we just have to remember what we already know.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > To anyone who did leftist political organizing in the sixties and seventies, this whole program sounds extremely familiar.

      I’m sure it does. But 2022 – 197 = 52. That’s a long time ago.

      I wasn’t saying anything these organizers were saying was new; I was marveling at its pedagogy, and raising the question of why today’s (identity politics and NGO-infested) “left” doesn’t do something similar.

      For example: Suppose you wanted the railroad union workers to strike, against the wishes of the ‘labor management layer.

      Who would be more effective at doing this? The left? Or the right? (The liberals would never do it.)

      (Needless to say, I think a railroad strike from the right would be bad, because the right reasons from false principles, like people who are forced to sell their labor power existing in a “free market,” which is why the libertarian freedom of contract logic fails. But that’s not the question.)

  14. Wukchumni

    14th hole, 218 yards to the gavel & bends to the right and the entire surface is green, this is DC, as if there’s anybody here not in on the goods?

    Par 3

    1. Wukchumni

      This just in:

      Donald Trump announces he was always for apportion rights, and thanks Matt Gaetz for the vote.

    2. Sardonia

      218 yards is pretty long for a Putt-Putt course.

      When we get to the 18th hole, who will be the Clown’s Mouth for the “hole-in-one wins a free game”?

  15. Mikel

    L.A. lets rain flow into the Pacific Ocean, wasting a vital resource. Can we do better?

    “…Voters in 2018 approved Measure W, which is aimed at improving L.A.’s aging stormwater capture system. Officials are making progress, but experts say there’s a long way to go. Of an estimated 5 billion to 10 billion gallons pouring into the Los Angeles Basin from current storms, only about 20% will be captured by the county….”

    “…Part of the challenge is that the current system was built about 100 years ago…”

    Again, failing infrastructure…

        1. Mikel

          Fresno area has farming and agriculture on the mind in a way that LA doesn’t. But no excuse really. Water is an essential everywhere. Just different kinds of pressure being applied to get it done up in Fresno.

    1. GregLA

      There have been a few projects in LA to remedy the misguided rain water management of the past. Sun Valley has a park with drainage/cisterns which return 30 acre-feet per year to groundwater. More, larger projects like that are under way.


      It’s tough to undo the decisions made by our ancestors. They likely thought they were doing the best thing possible with the channelled rivers, sending rainwater to the ocean, etc. If you look at the flood destruction photos from the mid-late ’30s, you might agree.

      It’s also tough to undo all the urbanization which replaced the vast citrus groves. In LA right now, we’re talking about creating more urbanization to help the un-housed…so the future will see us as actively making the environmental problems worse in order to help solve a human problem…

    2. anon in so cal

      The Army Corps paved the LA River basin in 1938…forever preventing percolation into the aquifer.

      1. thousand points of green

        Well, in theory one could depave it, thereby restoring percolation into the aquifer.

        Could one not? In theory?

        1. earthling

          Wild rivers erode their banks, ever-shifting, in softer rock/sediment like LA has. If your property or road or railroad or gas pipe etc. is next to the bank, it would be in jeopardy. Multiply by many miles, many properties.

          1. thousand points of green

            Hmm. . . one wonders if at least the bottom of the concrete channel could be replaces with permeable pavers so some water could seep down into the subsoil below, and then into the undersubsoil below that, without undercutting the still-concrete sides of the channelbed.

  16. Pat

    Did anyone but me see Biden saluting and giving medals to various heroes of Democracy this afternoon? I couldn’t watch it without walking away periodically, so may not have the whole picture. Still to me Biden was all over the place. He was loving every minute, and at times seem to be following the teleprompter well. But then he would go off, and say something that I didn’t think tracked or made sense. After a pause Everybody would laugh, Joe would preen like he had told the best joke and then would go on like it was normal.

    Was it really that bad, or am I just so biased I cannot watch him without my emotions coloring things. I honestly don’t know.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Did anyone but me see Biden saluting and giving medals to various heroes of Democracy this afternoon?

      This looks like it:


      Biden is correct that the revolutionary energy is all on the right. “We the people did not flinch.” Interestingly, Biden’s speech is pretty good (though I haven’t gotten to the improvisational part). This is the narrative; I should put on my yellow waders for it. It’s a shame this hasn’t induced a liberalgasm — after all, he’s glorifying cops — but perhaps indeed the Speaker mishegoss trampled on it. One of Biden’s strengths, I think, is that — in the moment — he genuinely believes his own bullshit. He’s energized by it.

      President’s Citizens Medal. Give ’em to Corsi and Rosenthal, you cretin….

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > they did not say if the cop that shot that unarmed women to death was one of those that got a medal.

          Well, I certainly hope so!

          I really think I should put on my yellow waders for this one. It’s really very artful. I also think that Biden is doing this much better than Obama would have. His modulation is quite effective.

          Holy moley, “tough under fire.” They really believe it…

          NOTE Adding, I’m drawing a blank. Insurrection is a crime. Has anybody been charged with it?

          1. melvin keeney

            The Oath Keeper president was convicted of something like that.
            May have been sedition. Don’t recall. Also I think you missed something in the SBF stuff. Yes they gave money to fight Progressives but they also gave money to McCarthy to fight MAGA folks. What do those to groups have in common? They both care about America. The Globalist couldn’t care less about America and they won. At this point I support anyone fighting the Globalists. Progressives chickened out and eventually so did MAGA. Heavy sigh.

      1. agent ranger smith

        Well, as J R ( “Bob”) Dobbs is said to have said . . . . ” In order to pull the wool over anyone else’s eyes, you have to pull it over your own eyes first.”

  17. Glossolalia

    “XBB.1.5: All you need to know about the new ‘Kraken’ COVID strain”

    All I need to know is that they’re still coming up with stupid names to keep the headlines going.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > All I need to know is that they’re still coming up with stupid names to keep the headlines going.

      And you don’t know very much, do you? Covid denialism wittily phrased is still Covid denialism.

  18. Lee

    The Nose Knows When It’s Cold—And It May Get You Sick Science Friday

    Innate mucosal immunity to respiratory infections works best when the nose is kept warm. Therefore, masking is protective in two ways: it both filters pathogens and enhances innate mucosal immunity by protecting the nose from cold air temperatures.

    1. eg

      This is good to know, thanks — I have taken to covering my face against the cold whenever I go outside during the winter (especially for long walks).

  19. upstater

    The 420… NY State edition. With legalization there is a whole ecosystem that has evolved with regulations, taxation and awarding of licenses. Part of it is a $200 million (the state dormitory authority! ) provision to award dispensaries to BIPOC and victims of incarceration. The state has created a system for pocket stuffing and consulting opportunities. Note CBRE did a “data driven analysis” of potential dispensary sites (wonder what THAT cost). Having said all that, black market and tribal will bury the licensed dispensaries.

    DASNY just released its report on the $200M cannabis social equity fund

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      Re: “CBRE did a “data driven analysis” of potential dispensary sites”:

      Which also included “…initiating negotiations with 350 property owners in anticipation of leasing sites…”

      So you can throw out the initial analysis, and go right to the list of the property owners to see whose friends are getting their payout. Given the number of empty storefronts both in NYC and scattered around the state, what owner isn’t going to want a free or subsidized renovation, and a tenant where previously there was none? And if it doesn’t work out, the owner gets to keep the renovation, making the property more valuable.

      The towns in my upstate NY county (Delaware) have been rather mixed about whether to permit dispensaries and consumption sites.


  20. Greg

    One for the dirt files – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/12/221207141746.htm “Soil in midwestern US is eroding 10 to 1,000 times faster than it forms, study finds”

    I haven’t read the original paper, so don’t know whether the misleading headline on this summary is addressed. That is, the study says they compared soil erosion rates of a specific element with an ancient origin between remnant prairie and agricultural sites. The misleading headline says that the soil is being eroded faster than it forms, but they don’t appear to have shown formation rates. They have shown it is eroding much faster than unused land.

    Also there’s no mention in the summary whether the ambiguous term “soil erosion” is accurately captured by the specific element they tested, and presumably they controlled for soil type and environment between the native and farmed sites.

    That said, pretty good. Confirms what we have been able to guess at a macro level (dust bowl for example).

    1. thousand points of green

      Soil should have some pore spaces in it which should contain atmosphere gas which can get into those pore spaces in the soil. So is the oxygen being changed to beryllium-10 derived from that air-donated oxygen gas in the pore spaces of the soil?

      Then again, soil also contains particles of quartz, which is silicon dioxide. At least, most soil does. So was the oxygen being changed to beryllium-10 the oxygen which was part of the quartz? I’m guessing it was, but it would be nice if the article specifically said which oxygen it was.

      Or was it yet other oxygen . . . the oxygen in organic compounds in the soil? Humus, etc?

      All that being taken into account . . . did this study do measurements of any farmed soil under absolute “best practices”? Amish soil? Gabe Brown’s soil? Gary Zimmer’s soil? etc.? Or Mark Shephard’s soil? Or closer to home, right here in Ann Arbor, the soil under the multi-species grass and forbs pasture of Vestergaard Farms? ( https://www.vestergaardfarms.com/ ) Do those “best practices” soils show rates of teardown, stasis, or buildup? It would be nice to know.

  21. Jeremy Grimm

    “My Week Inside a Right-Wing “Constitutional Defense”
    I believe that should the Evangelical right wing groups sponsoring this succeed in their push for what would ultimately lead to a Convention of States — should they achieve their interim goal — they may learn the dark meanings of the old saying: “Be careful what you wish you.” The Evangelical right is politically powerful and well funded appears better organized than any organization the Left stands up to oppose it … but, I believe, it is NOT the most powerful component of the Power Elite controlling the u.s. Political Economy. I belief that any member of the loose confederation of Corporate Confederations in the u.s. Power Elite dwarfs the Evangelical right by every measure. I would wonder at the true allegiances of some of the big funders of the Evangelical right — the Koch brothers for example

    .I believe a Convention of States to modify the u.s. Constitution would result in a Constitution embedding the core interests of Corporations and Big Money and at most only peripherally including some Evangelical concerns — concerns of little interest to or impact on Corporate profits … Freedom be damned. Evangelicals would mindlessly drag in a brightly painted Trojan Horse thinking they were working to bring the Second Coming. If they were given to introspection and did indeed study the U.S. Constitution and writings of our Founding Fathers, complemented by illuminations from the writings of Howard Zinn … the Evangelical right might become an ally of the Left … assuming some modest level of tolerance might be cultivated.

  22. skippy

    “Evangelical right” = Mammon worshipers these days which suits the share holder corporatists just fine.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Whatever happened to Google Search?”

    It’s not the adverts that is the problem but the search function itself. If you want to look up the population of a country or other such facts, then Google is fine. But if you want to look up information that ahem, does not fit the narrative, then good luck with that. A coupla times I have looked for information on a specific incident and no matter how I worded it, Google spat the dummy and refused to show that any such incident ever occurred. A quick search of another search engine though would bring it up on the first page. Remember how Adam Schiff had a journalist deleted from Twitter because he did not like what he said? It seems that agencies are doing the same on Google as well.

  24. Jason Boxman

    From My Week Inside a Right-Wing “Constitutional Defense” Training Camp

    Like Green, Meckler hitched his wagon to the Tea Party star and saw his fortunes rise. The organization he co-founded in 2009, Tea Party Patriots, quickly became one of the movement’s major players. In 2010, their efforts paid big dividends: six seats gained in the Senate, and 63 in the House. It was the biggest congressional power shift since 1938.

    Never forget this was a response to Obama’s failure to govern, as he let main street burn while rescuing Wall Street.

      1. The Rev Kev

        It’s noteworthy how all these hawks are always worried about their own safety. When Cheney was Vice President, he demanded that Google blur his Vice President residence at Number One Observatory Circle in satellite images. To his credit, when Biden replaced him as Vice President he put a stop to it as what was the point. It should be mentioned that when younger, Cheney got five deferments from going to ‘Nam as he had “other priorities.”

    1. Pat

      One reply has somebody who supposedly doesn’t agree with Pete on the issues wanting him to run because he is “decent, honest, and a born leader.”

      It isn’t that Pete handled an obvious set up bs interview about his private jet use that is going to save him, they forget that he has bungled a job any piker could have handled in a manner that millions of Americans will recall. It is also all the images of his using his security detail to transport him and his bike to within blocks of his office so he could “ride his bike to work” that will not disappear which will destroy that honest and born leader meme are waiting to reappear.

      Pete is toast. They just haven’t realized it yet.

  25. David in Santa Cruz

    This afternoon I got an urgent fundraising email from Dave Sirota’s The Lever news site complaining of an orchestrated cancellation campaign by Mayo Pete’s supporters over the Southwest reporting. He’s the PMC choice!

  26. ACF

    Re NY hospitalization steady rise, one narrative:

    NY is an XBB 1.5 hotspot
    XBB 1.5 is crazy catchy so it’s spreading explosively, surely NYC density and commuting helps
    XBB 1.5 is so immune invasive everyone it’s like catching Covid de novo
    It’s been awhile since a substantial population was Covid-naive
    I’d imagine a Covid-naive population catching Covid would have a higher percentage going to the hospital than a partially immune population would
    This story could explain NY’s differential steady rise in hospitalization

  27. tegnost

    Am I crazy to ponder the possibility that the repubs used the house vote to steal fire from the 1/6 victory party?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Am I crazy to ponder the possibility that the repubs used the house vote to steal fire from the 1/6 victory party?

      That’s impressively cynical. I don’t think it could have been their prime motivation, but it might well have factored in.

  28. kareninca

    I use google intermittently to check “died suddenly”. For a brief period the search mostly pulled up articles asserting that the film on the topic was nonsense. Now we are back to tragic stories. For instance, three police officers died suddenly in MA within four days (https://www.westernstandard.news/news/three-massachusetts-law-enforcement-officers-die-suddenly-within-four-days/article_f34ffe24-8de0-11ed-861f-6739a57f959b.html).

    On December 28, 2022, (25 year old) Officer Santos passed away at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston after succumbing to a brain aneurysm.
    On Thursday, December 29, 2022, officer Sean Besarick, a 24-year veteran of the Brockton Police Department, passed away suddenly at the age of 48-years-old.
    On Dec. 31, 2022, officer Christopher A. Davis, a 17-year veteran of the Stoughton Police Department, passed away at the Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton at the age of 42-years-old.

    There are a lot of these stories. A lot. It is really striking. If you use Bing to search there are even more. Yes, I know that there have always been such deaths, but this feels different. A surprising number of the deceased are police officers and firemen. If I were a police officer I would try to find out if there really are more such deaths than usual.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I use google intermittently to check “died suddenly”

      This is a good idea, but the Google Trends results are polluted by a movie called “Died Suddenly.” Can you think of another proxy?

      1. kareninca

        Yes, that is what I meant when I wrote (above) that the search mostly pulled up the movie. But that was only for a brief time. I just now did that google search and the first five page of results did not include the movie at all. Google must be suppressing it. So “died suddenly” works fine, I think.

        1. lambert strether

          Relative to deaths nationally, even five pages of results is a very small sample. Do we have any kind of baseline at all for celebrity deaths?

    2. Basil Pesto

      The film is bullshit insofar as it uses sophistry to mislead credulous paranoiac dullards (you know the sort: people who rattle off George Carlin quotes unironically and without a hint of self-awareness) that all such deaths since late 2020 were caused by the vaccine. I think it’s fair to say, as you point out, that these “sudden deaths” are more common than they were four years ago (although we still lack robust epidemiological data, or even just a media study comparing the relative prevalence of these news reports in the pre- and post- covid eras) and to the extent that they are, the majority of the excess above 2010-2019 baseline averages of such deaths will very likely be the predictable and predicted consequence of the virus that is known and has been known since early 2020 to cause these problems (clotting, cardiac damage).

      Unfortunately, the Covid identitarianism that predominates in what we once quaintly referred to as the developed world plays off demagogic frauds (Prasad, Berenson, Bhattacharya, Weinstein et al) against the simpering Panglossian frauds of the government and their lickspittles (Jha, Walensky, Fauci, Gandhi), with both parties suckering tens of millions of people and obscuring the more obvious, banal and frightening truth of post-2020 physical reality: that the consequences of the de facto SARS infection mandate we all now live under will, in general, shorten and immiserate human life, including many tragic premature deaths that take these exact forms. Whoops. If you think it’s bad now, wait until the mechanistically plausible surges in cancer and early onset dementia kick in in the decades to come. Chances are they’ll be ignored by the latter and blamed on the vaccines by the former too, of course.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I would add the other outcome of obviously bullshit agitprop like ‘Died Suddenly’ is to (presumably unwittingly but who knows) preclude the possibility of legitimate criticism of both vaccine safety and efficacy, and the appropriateness of a hollywood-style Operation Warp Speed strategy in the first place, by tricking laypeople into thinking that all criticism of these vaccines in general is ‘Died Suddenly’-adjacent. Work like DS is a gift to Pfizer et al.

        1. ambrit

          The cynic in me notes that whoever gains the upper hand in the Covid Information War will get to write the curricula for the FEMA Re-education Camps. (“Coming to a formerly empty mall near you!”)

      2. kareninca

        I read descriptions of the movie when it came out and yes, it does seem meant to make people dismiss sudden deaths as nonsense. But if you actually look, there are a lot.

        It is interesting that a google search of “died suddenly” doesn’t get to a mention of the movie until the seventh search page. I guess google does not like that movie.

        1. Basil Pesto

          My understanding is the movie doesn’t depict the sudden deaths as nonsense, and in fact I don’t think they are either (although I would like a clearer picture of them as far as data goes instead of ad hoc compilations of news reports). I think you are right to say that these reports are striking. But the film blames them on the vaccine.

          My point is that the vast majority of these excess ‘sudden deaths’ will have been caused by the uncontrolled viral pathogen in astonishingly wide circulation, and which reinfects at almost comical speed. Said pathogen causes a disease – Covid-19 or I guess now just Covid – which happens to be studied in fairly considerable depth and breadth, and while there is much still to learn, its etiologies are pretty well understood in at least the broad terms: that is, apart from occasionally causing bouts of acute respiratory distress (rarer with the Omicron pandemic), the disease also causes the exact kind of damage that would lead, in an environment of uncontrolled circulation, rapid reinfection etc, to deaths of exactly this sort.

          Films like ‘Died Suddenly’ and the substack grifter cornucopia play ‘bad cop’ to the officialdom’s “the pandemic is over as long as you keep getting boosted” ‘good cop’ in the covid minimisation propaganda campaign, which is becoming an increasingly urgent and disconcerting problem in and of itself. Fundamentally, they’re on the same side.

          It works like this: Officialdom ignores these deaths for which Covid is a very likely precipitating cause. In ignoring them, an information vacuum is created for and filled by a gaggle of cretins who have devoted their lives, usually for profit, to being anti-covid vaccines rather than anti-covid itself (and who barely understand what they’re attacking: see eg “gene therapy”, or their inability to provide a mechanistically plausible explanation for why the vaccines might be causing all these deaths and covid itself would be causing none of them), making them the sole group (apart from a relatively small number of covid realists) drawing attention to this phenomenon. The cretins will develop their own relatively small yet lucrative acolyte ecosystem of credulous “freethinkers”, while many more people will look at them and understand intuitively that they are bullshit artists and dismiss them, but this will in turn cause them to dismiss the ‘died suddenly’ phenomenon itself when, again, it is an eminently plausible phenomenon, and if it is happening, it is most likely caused by the virus that causes the disease that causes the damage to these systems of the body that are failing in relatively young, relatively healthy people who, all things considered, by 2019 standards, shouldn’t be dying/suffering these pathologies with this apparently increased frequency, but it looks like they are.

      3. lambert strether

        > de facto SARS infection mandate we all now live under

        Nice framing.

        Hat tip, Joe Biden. (Trying to craft a snowclone based on “Only Nixon can go to China,” but without success.)

        1. ambrit

          Forget “snowclone.” This is a cyclone loosely based on “Only Nixon Can Go to China.” So, for example: “Only Biden could enable Eugenics at the national level.” If that isn’t living at the heart of a cyclone, then I don’t know what is.

  29. spud

    congrats Rob, really good article. love his exposure of the roots of fascism, woodrew wilson.


    “One would imagine that since the Americans – the CIA, the MIC (Military Industrial Complex), the oil and gas industry, Wall Street, and Big Tech wanted this war with Russia, that there is a plan for ending it. In case you missed it, none of these but the Russians are known for strategic thinking. For the last five decades the US has been systematically de-industrialized with no apparent plan for what else the American people might do to earn a living. Remember when the US was outsourcing its military production to China? The same people are still running things.”

    bill clinton was the one who really outsourced military manufacturing along with everything else, what a mental midget.

    1. agent ranger smith

      Their plan for the American people is for the American people to die quickly. Not so quickly that the American people begin to suspect something. But quickly enough to get the job done. That’s what opiates, despair-management engineering, let’er rip covid and let’er creep long covid, etc. are for.

  30. square coats

    This might be commonly known and/or previously mentioned here, but I just stumbled across the fact that the Chair of ProPublica’s board of directors, Paul Sagan, is also on Moderna’s board of directors. I just thought I’d mention it fwiw, twimc, etc.

  31. thousand points of green

    About the water in the baobab tree trunk . . . baobab trees store the water they extract from the soil they grow in in the spongy wood of their trunk. I wonder if cutting some of the wood out of that trunk causes some of that tree-stored water to seep out of the wood-wound into the excavated space . . . analogous to digging a well. Here is an article I found about ” water from baobabs”.

    That article and this next one mention that baobab trees also channel rainwater falling on them into little natural hollows at branch-bases and such.

    One suspects the villagers have learned over time just how much water they can take from the tree without water-starving it to death over time.

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