2:00PM Water Cooler 2/22/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

I thought of jackdaws because of Konrad Lorenz’s wonderful King Solomon’s Ring, which I read when I was quite young (and unaware of Lorenz’s views on “social decline”).

EUrasian Jackdaw, Nord-Pas-de-Calais (retired), France. “Call, flight call.” And breaking waves?

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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

“Jill Biden says the US and Namibia ‘face many of the same challenges'” [The Hill]. “After the visit, the first lady and granddaughter Naomi Biden handed out boxes of White House M&Ms to a group of about 40 children standing outside in Katutura. ‘Hello, how are you? Candy from the White House!’ the first lady said. When she ran out of candy and a little boy came up to her, she gave him the tote bag the candy came in.”

“The Yalies take the wheel” [Politico]. “When President JOE BIDEN took office, he vowed to get rid of the buttoned-up, elitist culture that often defines Washington and, more specifically, White House hiring — the ‘pale, male and Yale’ flavor, as the old saying goes. Biden has made progress on the ‘pale’ and ‘male’ fronts, naming an all-female communications team when he first took office and elevating Black and Latino staffers to key decision-making roles. But he can’t seem to shake the Yale part. Or, more specifically, Yale Law School.” Goodness, it almost makes you think class > identity, where results are concerned. More; “Out of roughly 140 lawyers in the White House, approximately 36 hold degrees from Yale Law School, more than any other law school, according to a West Wing Playbook analysis. That figure doesn’t include the dozens of Yale Law graduates who have been appointed to agency positions throughout the Biden administration. The density of Yale lawyers on the White House campus has become a bit of a joke among some staffers who say it’s hard to go into a room without bumping into at least one alumni.” • George W. Bush, DeSantis, the Biden Administration…. I don’t think it’s fair, though, to remark on the “density” of Yale lawyers. Some of them are pretty bright, at least in their narrowly specialized fields.


“Watch: Trump stops at McDonald’s during East Palestine visit” [Fox8]. “While visiting the site of the horrific train derailment in East Palestine Wednesday, former President Donald Trump stopped in at a local restaurant — McDonald’s. ‘Is everyone willing to accept free food from Trump?’ he asked as he walked into the fast food spot, saying he planned to also purchase food for the local fire and police departments. He told the employees he knew the menu better than them and asked for a ‘nice array of things,’ while refraining to make an order for himself. Fielding questions from reporters, while getting his photo taken by nearby customers and employees alike, the President said he did not believe deregulation had anything to do with the train incident and that he had traveled to the area to make sure residents were taken care of.” • On “regulation,” see under Class Warfare; note that none of the reporters asked him about Precision Scheduled Railroading (and Trump, not being a detail person to say the least, probably doesn’t even know). Two Democrats react:

Always good to see liberal Democrats calling for the deaths of their political opponents; it’s an ever-green trope! Note also the focus on being smart (vs. IQ of 50), the deregulation talking point (it’s Trump’s fault the brake systems are bad, not Precision Scheduled Railroading and the “hot box”). Then there’s the usual refusal to accept reponsibility (Trump and Biden killed a million people between them, Biden killed more, and in my view has the greater culpabiliity, because he should have known better than to adopt a policy of mass infection without mitigation).

Personally, I think this is a good look for Trump, and not just because Biden was off swanning about in Kiev; Trump looks good striding around on the February grass in the black coat and red hat, no tie; it’s a much better look than the pomp of Air Force One. Still waiting for quondam Presidential hopeful and Democrat, Sherrod Brown, to show up. Then again, why would be? They’re only citizens.

“DeSantis wades into foreign policy, Ukraine” [The Hill]. “During an appearance on ‘Fox & Friends’ on Monday, the Florida governor and prospective White House contender blasted the Biden administration’s aid to Ukraine as a ‘blank-check policy’ and played down the threat that Moscow poses to NATO member countries in Europe. ‘They have effectively a blank-check policy with no clear strategic objective identified,’ DeSantis said. ‘These things can escalate. And I don’t think it’s in our interest to be getting into a proxy war with China getting involved over things like the borderlands or over Crimea.'” • Not the most coherent sentence. And not correct, either. There is a clear strategic objective in Ukraine: Regime change and the breakup of Russia. Not that we’re anywhere near achieving either of those things.

“The Forgotten Ron DeSantis Book” [The Atlantic]. Dreams From Our Founding Fathers (2011), a clear reference and contrast to Obama’s Dreams From My Father (the dude wrote two autobiographies; that should have told us something, in retrospect). It’s paywalled, but there’s this nugget: “Two of his children are named Madison and Mason presumably after James Madison and George Mason, the most intellectually interesting of the Virginians who helped fashion the Constitution.” I guess I can’t make jokes about how the PMC fights the battle against intergenerational precarity by sending “little Madison” to violin lessons. Oh well.

Republican Funhouse

“Why Are Republicans Going After ‘Wokeness’ Instead of Going After Biden?” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “For the last couple of years, but especially so this year, Republicans have used a war on ‘woke’ to rally their voters. It feels as if there’s more energy on the right for defeating the ideology of ‘wokeness’ than in defeating President Biden. Talk to a bunch of GOP voters and many, if not most, describe the president as mentally compromised. Many think the 80-year-old president is simply a puppet who is being manipulated by liberal leaders to do their bidding. This isn’t to say that Republicans don’t want to see Biden defeated. They do. But, Biden himself doesn’t garner the same sort of intense seething and gnashing of teeth from Republicans that the prospect of another Trump term brings out in Democrats. One of the biggest targets for ‘anti-woke’ legislation is transgender issues and kids. According to the website Track Trans Legislation, 38 states have seen anti-trans bills proposed in 2023, including 107 bills that focus on health care restriction for youth and 75 bills that address school/curriculum issues. On its face, this is an issue that not only gets support from conservatives, but also finds acceptance across a more broad cross-section of the public. Washington Post columnist David Byler wrote that the public ‘has recently become less open to transgender rights’ quoting surveys showing that “sixty percent of American adults reported last summer that they oppose including options other than ‘male’ and ‘female’ on government documents. Fifty-eight percent favor requiring transgender athletes to compete on teams that match their sex at birth. Forty-one percent say transgender individuals should be required to use the bathroom corresponding to their sex at birth (31 percent disagree and 28 percent don’t have a position). And Americans are roughly evenly split on whether public elementary schools should teach about gender identity.’ One of the reasons to talk this up, of course, is not simply to motivate the base, but to lure Democrats into a fight on terrain that is more challenging for them. Democrats would rather fight Republicans on issues where they have a noted advantage, like protecting Social Security and Medicare, than on things like gender identity where their coalition is divided.” • It has been my view for some time that sex and gender would be an issue in 2024; and that it would be ugly. Republican governors — Youngkin, DeSantis — are well-positioned to exploit this issue, since it’s mostly being fought out at the school board level. I also don’t know if the Democrats are that divided. The NGOs are not; the elected leadership is not.

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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What a great quote from SBF:

“[W]oke shit for transactional purposes.” Surely not? Atrios is 100% correct:

Still waiting for the blockbuster stories!

“‘Moderate PAC’ is latest big-money push to keep Democrats in line on Israel” [MondoWeiss]. “A new Democratic political action committee (PAC) has arisen, dedicated to cultivating what it refers to as ‘moderate policies.’ It stands against Republicans, as it supports only Democrats, but primarily, it aims to move the Democratic party to the right. It’s the latest iteration of conservative efforts to revive the classical conservatism that has been drowned by right-wing fanaticism, creating the so-called “Never-Trump Republicans” who don’t have a political home for the moment…. The new PAC, which intends to raise at least $20 million to target progressive candidates in the 2024 election, currently has only one major donor: billionaire Jeffrey Yass. That name may not be familiar to most Americans, but it’s one we need to get to know better. Yass, often referred to as the richest person in Pennsylvania, is the driving force behind funding for the Kohelet Forum, an organization that bears a great deal of responsibility for pushing Israeli policy to the far right, and whose network expands not only throughout Israel but also deep into the United States…. In the U.S., Yass is a major figure in the background of Republican donations. He is a leading funder of Club for Growth, which supports the Trump base of the Republican party, including many who sought to overturn the 2020 election.” • Oh good. More on Yass from (sigh) WikiPedia: “He is the co-founder and managing director of the Philadelphia-based Susquehanna International Group (SIG) and an early investor in TikTok. In 2001, he joined the executive advisory council of the Cato Institute.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Will the Left Stand Up to the Deep State?” [Compact]. “In 2020, Mickey Windecker showed up in Denver smoking cigars, driving a hearse loaded with guns, and talking ultra-radical claptrap about having served with Marxist Kurdish guerrillas in Syria. Despite his preposterous persona, Windecker managed to entrap one BLM activist into pleading guilty on weapons charges. He also worked to inflame peaceful demonstrations by ‘encouraging people to break windows and leading marches directly into police traps.’ Windecker and his FBI handlers even attempted to recruit BLM activists into an assassination plot against Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Ultimately unsuccessful, this scheme shows the outrageous lengths to which the bureau will go to manufacture threats. It is reasonable to assume this was not the only recent FBI infiltration of a left political movement.” • So, the Democrats have a very clear choice here: Supporting BLM, or the organs of state security. I wonder why their choice will be?


Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. (I still think “Something Awful” is coming, however. I mean, besides what we already know about.) Stay safe out there!

• Readers, since the national data systems in the United States are being vandalized, let’s start collecting links to state data, too. If readers would send me links (see Plant below) to their favorite State and local dashboards/wastewater sites, that would be great. Canadians, too! Or leave a link in Comments.

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

Resources, United States (Local): CA (dashboard), Marin; CO (wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NM (dashboard); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater). No longer functional: UT (dashboard).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Festoonic, Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JF, Joe, John, JM (2), JW, Michael King, LaRuse, mrsyk, otisyves, Petal (5), RK, nRL, RM, Rod, tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White. (Readers, I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy to scan. (If you leave your link in comments, I use your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle.)

• More like this, please! Total: 1 6 11 18 20 22 26/50 (52% of US states). We should list states that do not have Covid resources, or have stopped updating their sites, so others do not look fruitlessly. Thank you!

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Look for the Helpers

“Inside these parents’ long, nerdy struggle over how to improve air quality in Calgary schools” [CBC]. “[T]his stuff matters, especially for Canadians, who spend so much time indoors during the winter months. These systems deliver the majority of the air we breathe…. School administrators say they’ve upgraded the filters in these systems “wherever possible” to a higher standard, known as MERV-13. These filters are much better at trapping tiny particles, such as viruses, in the air…. Both the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD) say they’ve put ventilation upgrades at the core of their strategy to improve air quality in schools. In addition to MERV-13 filters, they say they have taken additional protective steps, such as setting the systems to maximize fresh-air intake and running them in ‘occupied mode’ before and after school each day to further flush out stale air and replace it with clean air. In Edmonton, however, the public school board has gone a step further. It made similar upgrades to its ventilation systems, but it didn’t stop there. It also purchased nearly 6,000 portable HEPA filter units — enough for every classroom and office — as an additional layer of protection from viruses, allergens and other airborne particles that can make people sick. ‘We invested in these measures in an effort to provide the safest possible learning and working environments for our staff and students,’ said Veronica Jubinville, a spokesperson with Edmonton Public Schools. Those portable HEPA filters were installed in Edmonton last spring. Ever since, the group of concerned parents here in Calgary have been wondering why the same can’t happen in their kids’ classrooms. ‘I can’t understand why anyone would block these measures,’ said Lacey Elliot, who has one child in kindergarten and another in Grade 2. ‘We all breathe air. We know how viruses are transmitted. We have the resources to keep our kids healthy and further help alleviate this public health issue. Why would we not do this?'” • Worth reading in full. The parents smuggled in CO2 meters!


“More than $200 Million in City-Purchased COVID Gear Auctioned Off For Just $500,000” [The City]. “An investigation by THE CITY has determined that since last summer, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) has systematically tried to auction off millions of dollars worth of COVID-related personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies — gowns, face shields, hand sanitizer, KN95 masks, N95 masks — that the department decided are no longer needed. Many of these supplies remain in their original packaging and are brand-new. The City was able to connect specific auctions to 20 COVID-related medical supply contracts and confirmed the sales with a source familiar with the agency’s auction efforts who spoke to THE CITY on the condition of anonymity. About 9.5 million items purchased by the city government from $224 million in COVID-related contracts at the pandemic’s 2020 peak have been auctioned so far, garnering about $500,000.” • Why on earth didn’t the City just give it all away, to protect its own citizens?

Another flawless victory for scientific communication from the public health establishment:

Elite Malfeasance

“The COVID-19 Pandemic Will Be Over When Americans Think It Is” [Steven Phillips, Time]. “[T]he country will not fully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic until most people in our diverse nation accept the risk and consequences of exposure to a ubiquitous SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.” • Rule #2. Hilarity ensues: Once again, “personal risk assessment” is an enormous tax on time. Further, the powers-that-be are systematically removing all the data sources the general public would use to perform risk assessments; Johns Hopkins shutting down its laudable efforts being only the most recent. Finally, elites have no inclination whatever to accept the “risks and consequences of exposure”; hence Davos Man ventilating and filtering his air; Biden ventilating and filtering his gymnasium appearance; and Jha and Walensky’s wealthy community spending millions to ventilate its school system. More: “A recent national poll demonstrates a strikingly divided public, not ready to make peace with the virus: while nearly half say that they have returned to their pre-COVID life, one-third still believe this is more than a year away or never.” “Make peace” with the virus? Did this dude really write that? “Make peace” with the vascular and neurological damage? “Make peace” with Long Covid? Also, one-third is a remarkably high number, given the enormous wave of eugenicist propaganda that daily engulfs us. Finally: “Instead a sharper understanding can be gained through an agnostic evaluation of the evidence and science. Today, this strongly supports a new paradigm of ‘living with the virus’ through accepting exposure for most Americans.” • What a vile screed. Phillips is a member of the American College of Epidemiology. I wonder if they support his view? Or have they joined what can only be characterized as a death cult? (Not for elites, of course; just for the rest of us.) Phillips is quite a character:

I don’t accept “dictates”; that’s not how Flex Nets work. Still, it’s good to know that Phillips is Blob-adjacent.

“The Flu-ification of COVID Policy Is Almost Complete” [The Atlantic]. The deck: “The government is pushing harder than ever to make ‘yearly COVID shots’ a thing.” Fortunately, the Covid variant train only leaves once a year. “A seasonal strategy works best for a seasonal virus—and SARS-CoV-2 just isn’t there yet, says Hana El Sahly, an infectious-disease physician at Baylor College of Medicine. Though flu viruses tend to hop between the globe’s hemispheres, alternately troubling the north and the south during their respective cold months, this new coronavirus has yet to confine its spread to one part of the calendar. (Marks, of the FDA, tried to address this concern at today’s meeting, asserting that “we’re starting to see some seasonality” and that fall was indeed very sensible for an annual rollout.) SARS-CoV-2 has also been spitting out concerning variants and subvariants at a faster rate than the flu (and flu shots already have a hard time keeping up with evolution). The FDA’s new proposal suggests picking SARS-CoV-2 variants in June to have a vaccine ready by September, a shorter timeline than is used for flu. That still might not be fast enough: “By the time we detect a variant, it will have ripped through the global population and, in a few more weeks, died down,” El Sahly told me. The world got a preview of this problem with last year’s bivalent shot, which overlapped with the dominance of its target subvariants for only a couple of months. A flu model for COVID would make more sense “if we had stable, predictable dynamics,” says Avnika Amin, a vaccine epidemiologist at Emory University. “I don’t think we’re at that point.”

The Jackpot

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from February 21:

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case 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.

Lambert here: Once again, what happened on or before March 16? I’ve marked the date on the chart, because at least one other person has an answer:

I don’t think there’s just one factor, though. Walensky’s scarlet letter remark was February 24, 2022 (which speaks to keeping the case rate high, no matter that the case count is low).


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 23:

-1.8%. Still high, but at last a distinct downturn


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,143,760 – 1,142,981 – 1,142,704 = 779 (779 * 365 = 284,335 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). Well, the total wasn’t 192 again. Not that I feel better about it.

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. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)

• “Why the Covid-19 Death Toll in the U.S. Is Still Rising” [Wall Street Journal]. “The U.S. averaged about 400 deaths a day in a three-month span covering November through January, based on weekly Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts of death certificates listing Covid-19 as the underlying or contributing cause. Data from the most recent weeks are incomplete. There has been significant improvement: The country averaged roughly 1,700 deaths a day in the same period a year before. The same wintertime period two years ago was even worse: about 2,800 daily deaths. The current pace, however, is still enough to keep Covid-19 among the major causes of death in the U.S. The disease ranked at No. 3 in 2020 and 2021, behind heart disease and cancer, and might rank there again in 2022 Deaths caused by Covid are heavily concentrated among the elderly, an analysis of CDC data shows. In recent weeks people 75 years and older have represented about seven of every 10 Covid-19 deaths. This age group peaked at 64% of the total during the severe winter surge two years ago and tumbled as low as a one-third of deaths when the Delta variant struck in 2021.” • Well, at least we’re helping to keep the Social Security trust fund solvent. Everyone must do their part!

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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The Bezzle: “Science Fiction Magazines Battle a Flood of Chatbot-Generated Stories” [New York Times]. “The editors of three science fiction magazines — Clarkesworld, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Asimov’s Science Fiction — said this week that they had been flooded by submissions of works of fiction generated by A.I. chatbots…. [Neil Clarke, the editor of Clarkesworld] declined to be more specific, saying he did not want to give those submitting the stories any advantages. The writing is also ‘bad in spectacular ways,’ Mr. Clarke said. ‘They’re just prompting, dumping, pasting and submitting to a magazine.’ He wrote on Twitter that the submissions were largely ‘driven by ‘side hustle’ experts making claims of easy money with ChatGPT.’ ‘It’s not just going to go away on its own, and I don’t have a solution,’ Mr. Clarke wrote on his blog. ‘I’m tinkering with some, but this isn’t a game of whack-a-mole that anyone can ‘win.’ The best we can hope for is to bail enough water to stay afloat. (Like we needed one more thing to bail.)'” • So OpenAI has enabled bottom-feeder tech hustlers to cream off the margin of small literary magazines. Swell. Good job. Progress.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 63 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 22 at 1:58 PM ET.

Photo Book


“Protecting the Legitimacy of Medical Expertise” [New England Journal of Medicine]. “Medical licensing gives doctors something uncommon in the United States: monopoly protection precluding unlicensed people from competing to provide services. In upholding the legality of state licensing of doctors in 1889, the Supreme Court observed that because ‘comparatively few can judge of the qualifications of [a physician’s] learning and skill,’ the public must rely on ‘the assurance given by his license, issued by an authority competent to judge in that respect, that he possesses the requisite qualifications.’ Licensing boards — composed largely of physicians, with some representation from the lay public — therefore have an obligation to ensure that the practitioners they license meet certain minimum standards. Additional privileges are conferred by certifying boards, which provide assurance that the specialized physicians they certify have met professionally determined standards at the end of training and over the course of their career; board certification is commonly relied on as part of hiring and privileging decisions in health care settings…. [E]xpertise and authority are increasingly seen as means for elites to establish and support existing hierarchies…. Perhaps the most substantial threat to expertise is that members of the public are coming to believe that facts don’t exist — that all facts are political and therefore a matter of opinion.” • The immediate stimulus for this article is state legislation prohibiting doctors from perscribing Ivermectin. That controversy aside, a remarkable number of M.D.s are swerving out of their lanes (see here) and leveraging their credentials to take eugenicist views on masking, epidemiology, public health, and so forth. If ever there is an example of “establishing” and “supporting” “existing hierarchies,” this is it. Ditto “facts don’t exist,” of which anti-masker doctors provide many fine examples. And speaking of IVM:

Note once again the hospital-centric viewpoint: Prophylaxis isn’t considered in Swaminathan’s little joke. And I like Greenhalgh; she’s done some great work!

Groves of Academe

Our Famously Free Press

Class Warfare

East Palestine:

“Railroaded Part Four – NTSB report day in East Palestine and my interview about it with The Lever” (interview) [The Holler]. John Russell of The Holler is interviewed by Frank Capallo of The Level: “[CAPALLO]: “You’ve also been speaking to the rail workers about this specific derailment, which they are saying was caused by a wheel bearing issue rather than the brake system. So can you go into a little bit of detail about that? Because I don’t think this is something that our audience has really heard about yet. [RUSSELL:] But there’s video of this wheel bearing glowing white hot for as much as 20 miles before the derailment. And this was caught by ring doorbell cameras, security footage, etc…. Because had these braking system has been updated and the chemicals classified accurately this disaster and the response likely would have been much less terrible. Rail workers have been telling me about this wheel bearing since I arrived here. And they’ve also told me that PSR, precision scheduled railroad, has put pressure on every aspect of how the railroads are run, including inspection and maintenance on things like wheel bearings.” • Well, I’m glad that finally somebody at The Level knows about the bearing (“the hot box“). (It has occurred to me that the immediate focus on regulating braking systems + regulation vs. bearings + Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) has appeal for liberal Democrats, (a) because they could focus on blaming Trump (correctly) for deregulation, while (b) not talking to actual rail workers, who they just screwed over with their anti-strike legislation, and (c) definitely avoided talking about worker empowerment, let alone nationalization, which talking about PSR would have entailed. I was surprised to see Lever News erasing the views of rail workers, but these are strange times). However, I don’t see a reason to split the difference on braking systems. Again, if you investigate what rail workers have to say, you will find that the East Palestine train was improperly “blocked,” with the heavy cars at the front. I would need to know that new braking systems would bring an improperly blocked train to a safe stop. This is naturally not addressed

More on Norfolk Southern:

The thread also details another Norfolk Southern “hot box” incident, this time on an engine, which led to a derailment in which “dumped thousands of gallons of molten paraffin wax in the city of Sandusky, also in Ohio.”

“Norfolk Southern CEO to East Palestine residents: ‘I understand the anger'” [The Hill]. No, you don’t. You really don’t. “Jim Stewart, who said he has lived in East Palestine for 65 years, said that he no longer feels safe in the town, and is worried about the value of his home. He said he has had a lingering cough since the derailment and has developed a rash on his cheek. ‘Did you shorten my life, now? I want to retire and enjoy it. How are we gonna enjoy it? You burned me,’ he said. ‘We were going to sell our house. Our value went poof. Do I mow the grass? Do I — can I plant tomatoes next summer? What can I do? I’m afraid to.'” •

“Ohio train derailment: Residents confront officials as Norfolk Southern announces new cleanup plan” [ABC]. [Norfolk Southern Railway President and CEO Alan Shaw.] told East Palestine residents that Norfolk Southern is ‘absolutely focused on safety’ and the company invests more than $1 billion each year toward maintenance and equipment. But he admitted that ‘clearly this is a situation where our safety culture and our investments didn’t prevent this accident.'” • Nor did your bonuses, stock buybacks, or Precision Scheduled Railroading. “Safety culture” my Sweet Aunt Fanny. So guys like Shaw, that means having one man drive a two-mile long train. That’s what they’re aiming for, and it’s ridiculous.

“Norfolk Southern, in wake of toxic derailment, gives in on sick days for one of its unions” [CNN]. “Norfolk Southern has agreed to give one of its unions the paid sick days it demanded for members in negotiations last year, and is in talks to grant sick days to its other unions as well. The announcement comes hours after the company’s chief financial officer, Mark George, told investors that it is still struggling to fill the open positions it has at almost all 95 locations where staff is based. George also said the company may have cut staff too deep during the early days of the pandemic, and that it has had trouble bringing back laid-off staff members. ‘Norfolk Southern’s success is built upon the incredible work our craft railroaders perform every day, and we are committed to improving their quality of life in partnership with our union leaders,’ said Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw in a statement announcing the deal.” • Sounds like Shaw doesn’t want the railroads to be nationalized. We should do that whether he wants it or not.

News of the Wired

“‘He created something magical’: Calvin and Hobbes fans rejoice as creator plans first work in decades” [Guardian]. ” Last week’s announcement of Watterson’s first major work in nearly 30 years – The Mysteries, a vibrantly illustrated “fable for grown-ups” – stunned fans and called for celebration. ‘This is pretty exciting and monumental that he’s releasing a whole book,’ says Nevin Martell of Washington DC, a lifelong reader and the author of Looking for Calvin and Hobbes, a story of the strip and Watterson that’s also part memoir. ‘I’m surprised and yet not surprised – surprised in the sense that he’s putting something out, not surprised that since he is putting something out, it’s so wildly different from what he did on Calvin and Hobbes.’… The book is a collaboration between Watterson and the celebrated caricaturist John Kascht, and it appears far bleaker than either illustrator’s earlier work. The few published panels are sombre and foreboding, presented in shades of gray. ‘The style of the writing, the style of the art is intensely different from Calvin and Hobbes. And I think that’s a very conscious decision on [Watterson’s] part. He would not ever want to be pigeonholed as just the Calvin and Hobbes guy,’ Martell says.”

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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. digi_owl

      Hmm, Meyer. The guy responsible for the Norwegian Stay Behind organization, and whom the Norwegian surveillance vessel is named after.

      No, i have not read the article. I only did some quick searching regarding Norway and the Vietnam war.

      What i find is that USA bought MTBs from Norway for brown water ops along the Vietnam coast. And supposedly Meyer recruited civilian Norwegian captains to crew three of them, that were used to land south Vietnamese spec ops, and US “instructors”, in North Vietnam right before the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

    1. flora

      So NS has big bucks to buy another railroad, but can’t maintain it’s current track lines or trains safety? What could go wrong?

      1. Carolinian

        FWIW they apparently do perform maintenance on some of their tracks since a year or so ago they came through here changing out ties. They’ve also claimed that the car with the bad bearing was supplied by the chemical company. That still doesn’t excuse the mislabeled train, lack of inspection etc.

        I’m told that when one of our new trails passed under a Norfolk Southern trestle they not only insisted on a covered section under the trestle (falling ballast) but wanted the local NGO to pay for one of their NS personnel to stay in town to make sure it was done to their satisfaction. Which is to say their liability lawyers sweat the small stuff but go all ostrich if safety is going to cost them money.

        We are self known as Hub City because my town was always a railroad junction going back to Civil War times (and now a freeway junction). Given how much freight traffic passes through here the Ohio disaster does give one pause.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That does not sound good that. If there was ever a chemical train wreck in your city, there won’t be much time to make a move as the people in East Palestine found out. Being serious here, but have you and your family ever given thought to having a bug-out bag each? Anything happens and you just grab those bags, get into your car and go where it is safe (preferably upwind) till it is safe to return.

          1. Carolinian

            I often walk the just mentioned trail and our trains tend to be stacked containers and cattle cars. It could be that hazard trains are routed away from towns the size of this one–even using Norfolk Southern’s standards.

            1. John

              The management have failed as stewards by their actions and by their inactions. The mere mention of stock buybacks to jack up share price, hefty dividends to mostly institutional investors, bonuses to the upper tier of management for the very actions that feather their nests is sufficient reason to demand sweeping change in the way they run their business and if that does not happen promptly, nationalize it.

  1. fresno dan

    “Watch: Trump stops at McDonald’s during East Palestine visit” [Fox8].
    Does anybody know where I can get a complete TRANSCRIPT of Trump’s remarks while he was in East Palestine? (yes, I googled it, and….the results DON’T have transcripts in them)
    So I look through a number of news reports, and some say Trump said that he believes Norfolk Southern will honor committments to clean up, other reports say Trump was “tough” on the railroad. If Trump was “easy” on the railroad, I find that tone deaf, but who knows if he really said it? Really – is there any reason why just snippets of what a major politician says is reported? Does that really make any sense anymore where there is plenty of room on the internet for EVERY word???
    I am just tired of having to trust the media’s synopsis of what politicians are saying when there is abundant evidence that they are not doing it accurately or completely. And I really hate having to listen to youtube videos, which are usually incomplete anyway.

    1. Screwball

      Breaking Points (today).

      I watched this on Breaking Points with Krystal & Saager. The link above is to one segment which contained “part” of Trumps speech. I don’t remember if it showed where it came from. That might help you if it does. In the clip he talked about the railroad, and the response, but not a lot.

      1. fresno dan

        thanks for that. So, I have to listen about the water bottles, and the video has a fade out and fade in, so I don’t know what was left out or for how long.
        I would like to just cut and paste what Trump said – Trump is kinda wishy washy, (something to the effect that the railroad has to honor their committments, and Trump thinks they will) which just means that Trump is just a typical politician (maybe he ALWAYS was?). Probably in the past, and I think more so with Trump than other politicians, the MSM and FOX emphasized and ignored whatever inflamed their audiences (i.e., increased their ratings) the most….
        It just shows that the vaunted free market press will not necessarily supply the most complete and objective information….

        1. marym

          No transcripts but the first link appears to be his full speech. 17:06 minutes – he speaks till about 10:35, then other speakers, then he starts shaking hands so it seems to be over. The second link is the visit to McDonald’s. 6:31 minutes – shows him entering, and ends with him throwing hats, so not clear if that was the end of the visit.


          1. fresno dan

            Thank you so much!
            Still, I hate to have to listen to the guy, and 17 minutes is an eternity – I just find his voice iritating. I just soooo much prefer the written word – I can do a word search to find the subjects I am interested in, and it is easier to copy and save quotes for future reference. Most of what most politicians say is drivel and unimportant to me. Its like a big conspiracy to obfuscate what they are really saying.

        2. Tom Doak

          That’s why Julian Assange is in prison and WikiLeaks was so dangerous. They published the full, unabridged cache of whatever they found. Indeed most of the early objections to it were about his responsibility to redact identities of agents, etc. [ie bow to the censors].

      2. Otis B Driftwood

        I watched this and it was exactly the kind of shallow reporting we have come to expect from most media. They focus on the “optics” of Trump’s visit, how bad Buti-whatver looked coming in after and had nothing to say about how both parties made this happen via deregulation and first-priority always given to corporate donors.

    2. griffen

      I clicked on the above tweet, because well why not. I will never comprehend the ability to comprehend another’s plight from afar, whether that is on a keyboard or starting at your magical cell device. Honestly the supposed “Lincoln” individual may be from there but that is a pretty classless thing to write, my two cents. I grew up in a rural part of eastern North Carolina, and while they may live simply back that way there is really nothing simple about survival. Especially when hurricanes can dump a few feet of water in your lap.

      Punching down. Not sure what that signifies other than the fact that one can do so. And the ivory tower folks were left to wonder how Trump won the first time in 2016. (To be said as well, I can’t condone the Trump embrace of the big lie or any nonsense with Powell or Rudy, etc…)

      1. Laughingsong

        Agreed. I was frankly appalled at that tweet and the comments. More reasons to never ever get a social media account, I wouldn’t survive it.

        1. JBird4049

          It is easy to punch down once you refuse to see the betrayal and abuse being done by the supposed good guys. If you cannot see the evil you and yours are doing, then it becomes all about have mean or stupid the other people are being, not the response to the evil being or has been committed.

        2. The Rev Kev

          I do note the obligatory Ukrainian flag on that account about ‘Rubes surround the traitor.’ When the Russian roll over the Ukraine and the Republicans sweep the Presidency in 2024 because of things like Ohio, she will have no idea why or what happened. In fact, she will be shattered. Check out the tweets in that account-


          A hint for that lady. They look to Trump because Biden couldn’t be a**** about going to Ohio and who spent nearly 120 billion dollars for the Ukraine.

          1. JBird4049

            🤢 Oh my word. I checked her tweets and they are certainly vitriolic towards anyone not Democratic, but particularly towards residents of East Palestine.

            No self awareness at all in that woman.

    3. lambert strether

      You absolutely cannot trust the press to quote Trump accurately. This was one of the first things I noticed in 2016, and I had to search out transcripts, every time.

      1. fresno dan

        Oh I agree particularly with Trump. I think Trump did not know how to caveat his comments to the liking of the press, although there are many, many examples where Trump was outrageously quoted out of context.
        But I am sure it happens with other politicians as well. There is no real need for it to be done that way, other than for the MSM to get to edit and present things as they like.

        1. ambrit

          Second try.
          Re. “…the MSM get to edit and present things as they like.”
          Donning my Mr. Cynic chapeau, I did some “fact checking” and came up with; “…edit and present things as they (are told to.)”
          Stay safe and dry!

  2. semper loquitur

    “This fall we had a few days of very poor air quality from smoke. I went to a parent-teacher council meeting where ppl waited outside masked, then ripped their masks off once let in, even though it was still visibly smoky inside and community COVID levels were high.”

    A story from my paintballing days came to mind when I read this. My squad and I were playing on a guy’s multi-acre property one afternoon. It was a pretty big group of players, over 30.

    In the middle of the area was a firepit and picnic tables. When people were tagged, they would congregate here to BS. All around us the battle raged on.

    A significant number of players would immediately rip off their masks as soon as they sat down. They weren’t playing anymore, so why wear a mask? They are admittedly stuffy to wear.

    The problem was that the air was filled with paintballs whizzing by. This wasn’t some protected zone. It was just a space to sit down in the middle of the field. But because they weren’t actually in play, despite the patently obvious danger of being blinded by a stray ball, some people felt it was safe to unmask.

    It’s amazing what the human mind can ignore when it wants to.

  3. Stephen V

    Shocking! Will the Left:
    Similar can be said for the Jan. 6 riot. Both the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys—two groups crucial in planning Jan. 6—were heavily infiltrated by the FBI. Even the Proud Boys’ national chairman, Enrique Tarrio, had worked as an undercover FBI informant on numerous cases prior to joining the far-right group. By his own admission to Reuters, Tarrio routinely “let police departments know of the Proud Boys’ plans.”
    Great article by an economist, no less.

  4. paddy

    desantis: ‘They have effectively a blank-check policy with no clear strategic objective identified,’

    there is a strategic objective: turn russian federation into serbia, that is 7 -stans, plundered by the neolibs.

    biden’s handlers won’t let it be stated.

  5. fresno dan

    But while Trump and Vance and Gabbard are all showing up, the actual people running this country have been missing in action. It took until February 16—nearly a full two weeks after the crash—for the first top Biden official, EPA administrator Michael Regan, to be on the scene. Meanwhile, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg—who has one job, overseeing the infrastructure of this country—has not yet witnessed the catastrophe in person nor did he acknowledge it until February 13, though he is scheduled to arrive today. President Joe Biden released a fact sheet about the accident and tweeted about it, but he hasn’t given a speech about it, let alone visited the town. In fact, on Monday, he was 5,000 miles away in Kyiv, meeting with the president of Ukraine and pledging more aid in the war against Russia.
    You could argue the political shift started as far back as September 19, 1977, the day known as Black Monday, when the steel mills started shutting down in Youngstown, in nearby Mahoning County. Thousands of workers lost their jobs, but when the locals tried to deliver a petition to then-President Carter to grant them some relief, “they were largely ignored,” said Paul Sracic, a political science professor at Youngstown State University.
    The Biden administration’s refusal to declare East Palestine a disaster area and grant FEMA aid feels eerily similar to Black Monday now, especially as the tragedy comes at a time of worker strife. Last year, two of the country’s largest freight rail labor unions threatened to strike, citing grievances such as staffing shortages and a requirement that workers be on call on short notice as often as seven days a week. Then, in December, Biden stepped in and signed legislation that imposed an agreement between the rail companies, including Norfolk Southern and its workers. A strike was averted, but the workers got little of what they asked for.
    Sometimes, it seems so clear in retrospect. I saw a documentary just last night on Hulu called The China Hustle and it did a good job of explaining how Chinese companies used American shell companies to get listed on US stock exchanges, despite the ostensible rules and regulations about them being audited prior to listing. (as guilty as China was, as one talking head commented, there were Americans eager to let them do it…) But what was ?interesting/disspiriting? was all the American presidents talking about how letting China in would be all so good for our markets. And you see how Norfolk Southern is having excuses make for it, and you substitute the word wealthy for markets, it becomes very easy to see how, and for who, the rules get written…
    By the way, why can’t the market supply Ukraine with everything it needs?

          1. ambrit

            I thought that “Creepy” Joe was checking up on his Ukrainian “investments” since Hunter is too “hot” right now to be useful.

  6. Phenix

    I also don’t know if the Democrats are that divided. The NGOs are not; the elected leadership is not.

    Democratic voters are divided on this issue or at least the Democrats are losing voters based on this position. At least thats the view I am getting.

    My wife is active on a lot of Facebook mom groups. There is a lot of self selection in these populations as moderators will purge members that do not agree with woke positions on transgender issues ESPECIALLY trans women trying to erase women. A lot of breastfeeding mothers and postpartum mothers leave groups and find other mom groups once they are asked for posting about their female issues. It’s shocking to hear her read the comments and reactions.

    If the Republicans are able to make the upcoming elections about drag show for kids and erasure of women then they win. The people I know will vote against their interests to vote against trans women taking over female spaces and mothers taking their kids to see grown men dance on lingerie.

    This country is fundamentally socially conservative. A winning coalition is economically populist and socially conservative.

    1. JBird4049

      I do not think that the American nation is that conservative. What they are is anti-insanity. Give them reasoned arguments for change on something and they are likely to listen, maybe even agree to at least some change. Calling them all evil people for not agreeing to everything being advocated, including some very unorthodox (being polite here) ideas for change will get you nowhere.

      Sometimes a spade is a spade and needs to be call on like with being fine with slavery. Sometimes screaming at parents because they are worried about their children while the country is falling apart is nasty, insulting, and stupid. Someone says “Oh, look at that homeless family.” The response from the Moral and Caring People is “Do they have the right thoughts on trans people? If not, then the heck with them!”

      The more dispossessed there are who lack even the essentials needed to live, the louder the screaming comes from these Caring People, but it is never about hunger, homelessness, illness, even education or community. It is about some abstruse social rights that really wasn’t even noticed twenty years ago that must be completely agreed to. Even if I agreed with the people advocating for these social changes, I would be more concerned with everyone, and I mean everyone, having the essentials for living including a decent job that paid enough to live on; it is those people living on the fringes that need help the most getting a full belly anyways. Minorities, the poor, gays, lesbians, bi, veterans, the unusual, the autistic, the different, but I don’t see any of the government approved Democrats or Republicans talking about that.

      Scream at me about housing policy. That is something I care about and understand.

  7. Tim

    “Why on earth didn’t the City just give it all away, to protect its own citizens?”
    Probably because the Mayor’s biggest campaign donor bought them all and plans to sell them to citizens at full price on amazon, but that’s only a hunch

  8. Jason Boxman

    Always good to see liberal Democrats calling for the deaths of their political opponents; it’s an ever-green trope!

    This is a deep seated liberal Democrat and progressive value, and I saw this immediately following Trump’s election, in regards to the expected (not successful) repeat of ObamaCare. These people have form, as well. I noticed in some op eds, at the time, that clearly liberal Democrats, at least a slice of them, do seem to be authoritarians, and a line of thinking is that some people are too stupid to properly vote their interests (vote team Democrat), and deserve whatever mishap becomes them. (Meanwhile ObamaCare suffers from all the complex eligibility requirements and pitfalls that Lambert covered here in detail over many years after its passage.)

    I’ve despised liberal Democrats ever since, for such condescension and duplicity.

    Oh, and liberal Democrats were aghast at the Great Barrington Declaration, then later adopted that exact policy of mass death and infection. These people are scum. They can’t even claim ignorance. The policies are practically identical, the GBD ideal and Biden’s policies.

  9. Jason Boxman

    On living with, this seems to be a continuation in part of the America elite’s can’t-do attitude in general. When it comes to the public commons and the general welfare, we as a national simply can’t do anything. If cholera were a thing today, we’d need to learn to live with it, and anything about water sanitation would be suppressed or laughed at, because it would be too inconvenient to tackle the enormous issue of retrofitting plumbing and standing up water treatment. So it is today with safe air.

  10. Wukchumni

    Was Joey going to Kiev, kinda like FDR showing up in the Philippines in February 1942 to bolster morale?

    What sort of blowback occurs when we leave with our tale between our legs in the Ukraine…

    Exceptional day on the slopes @ Vail btw, what a mountain!

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’m shocked, shocked that you could say such a thing. Didn’t you know?

      ‘Media on Biden’s Kiev Layover: The Greatest Hero in Human History’

      https://twitter.com/tomselliott/status/1628452045303996416 (1:43 mins)

      Getting a bit brown there with all that praise. Mind you, old Joe was walking down a red carpet there and started to wonder off to the side so this guy had to walk up and prop him up on his left side to keep him walking on the red carpet.

          1. John

            …and another Yeltsin to follow… Is the plan to present such hopeless candidates that only the few and the deeply uninformed will vote?

      1. tevhatch

        I thought the link read: /tomsellsout/… at first glance, and taking a peek, it seems that’s how his parent raised him.

      2. griffen

        Back in the day (like 20 years), CNBC would run this pretty great video clip of penguins walking in a line…they would run it when a bigger tech firm had a bad quarter and all the analyst downgrades followed…

        The media are like those penguins. Look. So Brave. Wow. Vomit inducing.

        1. earthling

          I remember that, lol! All the brave analysts would wait until the company had already taken a haircut and was clearly in trouble, then they give their ‘warning’. That clip probably did more to undermine the idea of analyst ratings than anything else.

  11. Jason Boxman

    Considering sociality and the pandemic. Just now. So, consider the fart. Seriously. Not really acceptable socially. Many jokes about it. Actual shaming if caught. Terrible smell. Harmless.

    Somehow COVID not so much, and not harmless. Air seems fine here, no worries. Maybe if the virus rankled the nose? And offended propriety?

  12. The Rev Kev

    The stupidity – it burns. So you had a group of activists paint the street outside the Russian Embassy in London blue & yellow as they are the colours of the Ukrainian flag. I don’t now about you guys but if I had to scrub yellow paint off my tires because of these lunatics, I would be seriously unimpressed. I mean, it’s not like they could have done it at 2 am when there was no traffic-


    Performative theater.

      1. ambrit

        This time the SAS “special” squad is not going to enter the embassy to “enforce the norms of the rules based order.” The Iranians were surprised and disorganized back then. The Russians are a different matter.

  13. JBird4049

    >>>Always good to see liberal Democrats calling for the deaths of their political opponents; it’s an ever-green trope!

    It has been normal to kill political opponents, their supporters, and reformers generally since the decade before the American Civil War; then there are the many, many overseas assassinations done by the CIA as well as the security forces and their death squads that they trained.

    This is nothing hidden, maybe aside from the lack of coverage of the extirpated Southern socialists post Reconstruction, and public libraries have had plenty of books on it.

    Do those people calling for, or at least being giddy over, the deaths of their fellow Americans realize that they are supporting the methods of the Ku Klux Klan, the Robber Barons’ goon squads, and the various state militias and national guard units, used on (often unarmed) American men, women, and children?

    However, almost everyone goes to high school, and the Democratic Party’s credential minions have all gone to college. Eventually, being pig ignorant does become stupidity especially if it is by choice.

    I am constantly startled by the amount of (cultivated?) ignorance shown by people often more educated than I am. I am not that well educated or even that well read, and I can be a bit foolish. Still, so much of this goes beyond foolishness, ignorance, or blinkered vision. Instead of wishing death upon entire families, what is so damn hard about asking questions, cracking open some books, while admitting ignorance or confusion?

      1. barefoot charley

        It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It

        At least the CAPS could be worse.

    1. earthling

      Working people are busy, working parents are really busy. A few of them are interested enough in politics to dig around and read up on foreign assassinations. But most of them want to pursue other interests in their limited free time. They get their news one sentence at a time from the crap provided by their phone, or the crap presented by the network news. If you press them, they might ask you if it is worth their time to learn how venal things are, if there is nothing they can do about it.

      1. JBird4049

        I am not really referring to the working poor, which I was a member for most of my life. It is a criticism of the supposedly educated, politically informed people in all types of positions.

        But our country overthrows a national government at least every two years since the start of the Cold War in 1947 to 2023. It has carried out many more assassinations both abroad and at home. And this says nothing about before 1947. All levels of American government plus corporations have been extremely violent.

        I get the difficulty of being informed when just trying to survive. It is hard to even try. The there is the increasingly government controlled media as well as the degraded public education, but using the excuse of being ignorant when the world is burning and likely going to explode soon is suicidally stupid. It will only get us more East Palestines.

  14. Expat2uruguay

    A new document has been published by the ministry of Foreign affairs for the People’s Republic of China:

    “US Hegemony and its Perils”

    The paper has been covered by both Gonzalo lira https://youtu.be/mj7mauNj8DY and Ben Norton https://youtu.be/HTiBksEHGrU
    The Duran also alluded to this document (4:30) before it was published. https://youtu.be/GI0UMJLLrXM

    Source of official document: https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjbxw/202302/t20230220_11027664.html

  15. marym

    The U.S. military earlier today repatriated to Pakistan two brothers who had been held but never charged with crimes in their nearly 20 years at Guantánamo Bay…Guantánamo Bay prison now holds 32 men. Of them, 18 are cleared to go like the Rabbani brothers — with diplomatic agreements…Now Ahmed Rabbani’s Guantanamo lawyers await word on how many paintings he was allowed to bring with him from the prison. His transfer is a test of a new Guantanamo art policy that was just this month disclosed by the Department of Defense.

    More on the 2017 ban on artists being allowed to take their art out when they were released, or give it to their lawyers.

    1. Jason Boxman

      A policy that spans liberal Democrat and Republican administrations, incarceration without charge, for twenty years. It’s impossible to fathom.

      1. marym

        Yes, every now and then a news report reminds me that it’s still important to try to fathom:

        Unfortunately Carol Rosenberg’s updated statistics are behind the NYT paywall, but as of 2016 from Andy Worthington:

        “Those charged number just 30 prisoners in total, out of the 779 men and boys held at Guantánamo since it opened in January 2002, although in half of those cases the charges have been dropped. Just eight prisoners have been convicted — and just two of those have taken place through trials rather than plea deals — and five of those men have been released. Seven other cases are ongoing.”


  16. will rodgers horse

    Flu model for covid vaccines presumes he flu model works . But flu deaths have never gone down since we started that model.

    1. JBird4049

      Are we sure about flu deaths never going down? They just have never gone away; it is a guesstimate as to which of the many flu variants will be the ones that arrive between production and distribution during the flu season.

      Usually they are right, but sometimes they are wrong in their choices. This is when the influenza deaths spike. But at least it is still a flu season with usually predictable strains to vaccinate against and not the constant stew of changing Covid variants.

      1. ambrit

        It’s also an object lesson on the fact that there have never been any successful “sterilizing vaccines” for coronaviruses. [Brains Trust correct me if I err, but I think that I am right.]

      2. Realist

        It’s extremely rare for anyone to die from flu. The CDC flu deaths statistic is derived by modeling how many old people die of pneumonia due to cold weather, rather than data from death certificates. Basically a dishonest marketing device for their flu shots.

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