2:00PM Water Cooler 2/7/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Golden Grosbeak. Caracas; Chuao Distrito Capital, Venezuela.

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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

“What to Watch: New political vibes this State of the Union” [Associated Press]. • A stirring spectacle indeed! I wonder if Big Z will pop in? Commentary:

We need to protect adults from the platforms just as much as children. Biden could begin by breaking them up.

“Playbook: Inside Biden’s high-road SOTU” [Politico]. “Biden told aides to take out the acronyms and craft a speech that ‘explains in very plain terms to Americans watching at home exactly what we have gotten done,’ according to one person familiar with the prep.” • That plays to Biden’s strengths, and if you didn’t know the guy (he owes me six hundred bucks) you’d believe him. If they juice Biden up properly, he should do well.

“What Biden promised in last year’s State of the Union: Report card” [ABC]. On Covid: “More than 267,000 people died of COVID last year, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with the disease continuing to be a leading cause of death in the U.S., despite Americans moving away from mitigation measures. This year’s address comes as the Biden administration has confirmed it will end both the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency on May 11. The current public health emergency is in place through April, while the national emergency is in place until March. ‘I know some are talking about ‘living with COVID-19.’ Tonight, I say that we will never just accept living with COVID-19,’ Biden said last year.” The lie direct. More: “Lawmakers were required last year to have a negative COVID test to enter the chamber. Several Republicans boycotted the speech by refusing to test — and in a sign the virus was still virulent at least four positive cases turned up afterward.” • This year, of course, we won’t know.

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“Millions of New Yorkers will feel health care change as COVID emergency ends. Here’s how” [Gothamist]. “[M]illions of New Yorkers who were allowed to remain on Medicaid without scrutiny during the pandemic will be re-evaluated for eligibility starting in April. This move will restore a cycle of disenrollment and reenrollment that’s known to generate interruptions in health care among low-income communities. In New York state, some of the nearly 8 million enrollees will be kicked off of the public health insurance program by July, although state officials said many will likely qualify for other types of subsidized health coverage. Free COVID-19 tests could also soon be harder to come by as insurance coverage requirements expire.” • Lots and lots of detail here. NY residents should read..


“For the good of the country, Biden and Harris should bow out of the 2024 election” [George Will, WaPo]. The genre where Republicans offer well-meant advice to Democrats is an old one. But perhaps the situation is so desperate that Will, remarkably, is writing in good faith. Skipping over Biden to Harris: “Transcripts of her verbal meanderings cannot convey their eerie strangeness. Videos of them should be watched. Meanwhile, here are her Proustian thoughts about broadband in Louisiana: ‘The governor and I and we were all doing a tour of the library here and talking about the significance of the passage of time. Right? The significance of the passage of time. So, when you think about it, there is great significance to the passage of time in terms of what we need to do to lay these wires, what we need to do to create these jobs. And there is such great significance to the passage of time when we think about a day in the life of our children … .’ What most excited her about the Inflation Reduction Act? ‘I have a particular fondness, I must tell you, for electric school buses. I love electric school buses. I really do . . . I’ve been on these electric school buses . . . 25 million children in our country, every day, go to school on those diesel-fueled school buses. And hundreds, thousands of school bus drivers are driving those buses. Which are then, these people—these children, these adults—are inhaling what is toxic air.’ Harris at an international conference: ‘We will work together, and continue to work together, to address these issues, to tackle these challenges, and to work together as we continue to work operating from the new norms, rules and agreements, that we will convene to work together.’ She added: ‘We will work together.’… Harris on space: ‘Space — it affects us all, and it connects us all.’ On whether Democrats ‘failed’ by not codifying abortion rights in federal law: ‘I think that, to be very honest with you, I do believe that we should have rightly believed, but we certainly believe that certain issues are just settled.’ On equity: ‘Equitable treatment means we all end up in the same place.’ … Enough. She sounds, as a critic has said, like someone giving a book report on a book she has not read.” • “Things are more like they are now than they’ve ever been before.” —Apocryphal, attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower. To be fair, I didn’t verify Will’s quotes.

“Joe Biden’s Classified-Documents Scandal Will Save Trump from His” [Andrew McCarthy, National Review]. “n January 8, 2023, one thing seemed dead certain: Donald Trump was going to be indicted for his grossly negligent mishandling of national-defense secrets — in the main, classified documents he illegally retained at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. It was no longer a question of if, but when. Now that prospect is unlikely, at best. For that, the former president can thank his nemeses, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. The Obama Justice Department’s failure to charge Clinton in her email scandal, despite her years-long mishandling of intelligence (to say nothing of her BleachBit destruction of tens of thousands of government records), left Biden’s DOJ little daylight to rationalize that Trump’s offenses were so beyond the pale that prosecution was warranted. Despite this challenge, prosecutors mobilized through the latter months of 2022, seemingly convinced that they could justify charging the former president. That sliver of daylight was closed on January 9, however, when CBS News reported the first of a humiliating series of revelations that President Biden has for years been illegally retaining classified information in multiple unauthorized locations — not only from his days in the Obama administration but also from his decades in the Senate, which ended 14 years ago. At the time of that stunning disclosure, prosecutors were meticulously building a criminal case against Trump.” • And, oddly, to this day we don’t know who was behind the “stunning disclosure.” Now, given the authoritarian and heirarchical nature of the Democrat Party, it seems most likely that Obama’s hand held the dagger (the same hand that gifted Biden the nomination in 2020). But if that’s true, that would imply either that (a) Obama believes that the Republicans will not nominate Trump, the beneficiary of his backstabbing, or (b) that the 2024 nominee will beat Trump. The Democrat track record on (a) is bad, despite the universal chorus of approval for short-bodied vulgarian DeSantis. And Democrat prospects for (b) are bad, because who do they run? Harris [smothered laughter]? Mayo Pete? Who? Say what you will about Trump, he looms as a giant above these pigmies. (Sadly, I was rather looking forward to giving consideration to voting for Trump if he ran, like Eugene Debs, from his jail cell. I mean, some crooks put another crook in jail. Why get excited?)

“Biden 2024? Most Democrats say no thank you: AP-NORC poll” [Associated Press]. “[A] new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research…. shows just 37% of Democrats say they want him to seek a second term, down from 52% in the weeks before last year’s midterm elections. While Biden has trumpeted his legislative victories and ability to govern, the poll suggests relatively few U.S. adults give him high marks on either. Follow-up interviews with poll respondents suggest that many believe the 80-year-old’s age is a liability, with people focused on his coughing, his gait, his gaffes and the possibility that the world’s most stressful job would be better suited for someone younger.” • Hmm.

“Joe Biden starts making his case for a second term” [Financial Times]. “‘Biden has weathered a lot of storms: it’s pretty clear the pandemic is coming to an end, we have best job growth in decades, inflation may be creeping down, and his control of the situation in Ukraine has been no less than masterful,’ says Elaine Kamarck [bio], a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the Washington think-tank, and a former Clinton administration official. ‘Does he go bounding up the stage? No! But who the hell cares?'”

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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“40% of Americans believe that socialism is good”:

I will certainly be looking to Democrats to leverage this vote. Especially the “progressive” ones….

This seems like a recent development:

Los Angeles readers?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Beautiful Portrait of My Enemy: A Review of the True Believer (Part 1)” [From the New World]. “The myth which Hoffer first executes is the myth of oppressor and oppressed, at least in the context of mass movements. The oppressed are simply not who join mass movements. This seems in line with the Brahmin Left and Merchant Right divide of the present day…. The second is the myth of self-interest, once again in the context of mass movements. Hoffer draws a distinction between a practical organization and a mass movement. A practical organization is one in which the main incentive is “self-advancement”, which Hoffer describes as an incremental change in oneself. In order to believe in self-advancement, one has to believe in oneself to begin with. A person who does not believe in himself will be utterly unmotivated by this type of organization. A mass movement is different. It promises rebirth.” • Hmm.


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).

Lambert here: Looks like “leveling off to a high plateau” across the board. Stay safe out there!

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“Covid was devastating – why are we pretending it didn’t happen?” [Guardian]. “My friend, who suffers badly from long Covid, struggles to understand the refusal of many people to think or talk about the pandemic; their reluctance to understand what it has taken from her and from so many others. She’s baffled by the apparent desire to pretend it never happened, or that it wasn’t a big deal…. Then there’s the absence of formal memorialising… I suppose the lack of a definitive end point makes that harder. There’s no armistice; we’re living through a fizzle (at best: there’s always the fear it could get worse again). It’s hard to tell ourselves a clear story about Covid when we don’t know how it ends. This happened with Spanish flu, too: Laura Spinney’s book on the 1918 pandemic describes the ‘collective forgetting’ and the absence of official memorials. It was, Spinney says, remembered ‘personally, not collectively … as millions of discrete, private tragedies.’ But surely that’s no longer possible now, when digital life means we’re all enmeshed in one another’s experiences to an unprecedented degree. I certainly can’t forget the private tragedies I saw and read about. But I discovered something else in Spinney’s book: the word nallunguarluku – ‘pretend it didn’t happen.’ It’s what elders in one Alaska community devastated by successive epidemics apparently advised people to do. Have we all just decided to nallunguarluku?” • Word of the day: nallunguarluku. Also, I’m not big on slapping the word “colonized” on everything. OTOH, there’s no little irony in the fact that the Alaskan (and post-1492) pandemics were caused by colonizers. What goes around comes around

* * *

• “Intro to Far-UV” [Joey Fox]. The introduction: “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a lightbulb that you could install, it wouldn’t have any bad effects on people and still be able to kill airborne pathogens, like viruses?” The conclusion: “While far-UV can be used effectively and within recommended threshold limit values (TLVs), this is still a relatively new technology. Technologies like upper room UV and HEPA filters have been around for over 80 years. We’ve been using ventilation for centuries, but far-UV has only been used in the past couple of decades. It has great potential, but as discussed, there is still a lot we don’t know. It currently is also pretty expensive, for example many of the 15 W fixtures by Ushio (the most well known company) are around $2000-$3000 and would likely require replacement every year or two. Because of the unknowns and the fact that we have a safe and effective alternative with upper room UV, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers Indoor Air Quality Advisory group does not recommend against far-UV, but recommends that there should be more data about its use before widespread implementation. The CDC also recommends the use of upper room UV in occupied spaces, but advises caution with the use of far-UV (see FAQ #7).” • In between we have a fair-minded summary of the technology and the science. My concern is that we live on the stupidest timeline; hence the message of the introduction will dominate, and all the caveats and qualifications in the conclusion will be ignored. After all, if you can point to a blue-ish lightbulb and say “no worries,” why invest in ventilation? Unfair, I know.

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No, they have not:

OTOH, the account is a reporter from the Boston Globe…

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• Maskstravaganza: Masks for those who serve the “talent.” Just not for you:

• Maskstravaganza: A “Green Book” for maskers once more:

Surely there’s a central site where such material can be pulled together?

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• Hospital Infection Control goons are at it again:

You can’t control infection if there isn’t any. Think, people!

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Questions for WHO:

Something to watch for as we track bird flu, perhaps

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Case Data

BioBot wastewater data from February 6:

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.


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

The previous map:

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


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published February 7:

-0.4%. Fiddling and diddling at a high plateau, equal to previous peaks.

• “Almost 1,000 people wait up to 13 hours for COVID-19 testing in Maryvale” [Arizona Central]. • Over, totally over.


Wastewater data (CDC), February 3:

Less grey, a lot less red.

January 30:

NOT UPDATED And MWRA data, February 2:

Looks to me like New England’s regional surge is winding down. No bump from the students returning.


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), January 23:

Lambert here: XBB overtakes BQ. CH not moving too fast, reassuring, because a Tweet in Links, January 11 from GM drew attention to it (“displays such a high relative growth advantage”) and in Water Cooler, January 18, from Nature: “CH.1.1 and CA.3.1 variants were highly resistant to both monovalent and bivalent mRNA vaccinations.”

Lambert here: Wierdly, the screen shot about has been replaced today by data from “10/7/2022.” (It’s clearly not current data; BQ.1* and XBB do not dominate.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), January 14 (Weighted Estimates Only*):

BQ.1* takes first place. XBB coming up fast. (For BQ.1/XBB and vaccine escape, see here.) CH.* now appears, a week after Walgreens. Here is Region 2, the Northeast:

CH.1* appears, but slightly below the national average. XBB utterly dominates, making clear that Region 2 (New England) varies greatly from the national average.

Here are all the regions, in a series of uncaptioned, legend-free and confusing pie charts:

It almost looks like, with respect to variants at least, there several pandemics, not one. The Northeast, where XBB (blue) dominates, and the other regions, with different proportions of other variants, but XBB not dominating. Odd. (Yes, I know the colors are the same as on the bar chart above. However, there are two charts, one bar, one pie, and on a laptop one cannot see both at same time. Just another example of CDC blithering at the level of the smallest detail.)

NOTE * CDC used to have a “Nowcast Off” radio button, which I used because of my bad experience with CDC models like Nowcast. CDC explains (I think) the change in the following note:

Weighted estimates (provided for all weeks except the most recent three weeks) are variant proportions that are based on empirical (observed) genomic sequencing data. These estimates are not available for the most recent weeks because of the time it takes to generate the unweighted data, including sample collection, specimen treatment, shipping, analysis, and upload into public databases.

Sublineages with weighted estimates less than 1% of all circulating variants are combined with their parent lineage. When the weighted estimate of a sublineage crosses the 1% threshold and has substitutions in the spike protein that could affect vaccine efficacy, transmission, or severity, it may be separated from its parent lineage and displayed on its own in the variant proportions data.

Nowcast estimates (provided for the most recent three weeks when the “Nowcast on” option is selected below) are model-based projections of variant proportions for the most recent weeks to enable timely public health action. CDC uses the Nowcast to forecast variant proportions before the weighted estimates are available for a given week.

Someone who can interpret The Great Runes can look at this; but I don’t have time today.

As a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization, updated February 7:

Hospitalization data for Queens, updated February 4:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,136,448 – 1,136,313 = 135 (135 * 365 = 49,275 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. (Though CDC may be jiggering the numbers soon. Lower, naturally.)

Stats Watch

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US increased for a second month to 57.6 in January of 2023, the highest level since September, and compared to 54.6 in December, mainly driven by warehousing metrics. Warehousing capacity declined for the 30th consecutive month….”

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The Bezzle: “Google announces ChatGPT rival Bard, with wider availability in ‘coming weeks'” [The Verge]. • So awesome. Maybe Google can fix Search with it.

The Bezzle: “Getty Images sues AI art generator Stable Diffusion in the US for copyright infringement” [The Verge]. “Getty Images has filed a lawsuit in the US against Stability AI, creators of open-source AI art generator Stable Diffusion, escalating its legal battle against the firm. The stock photography company is accusing Stability AI of ‘brazen infringement of Getty Images’ intellectual property on a staggering scale.’ It claims that Stability AI copied more than 12 million images from its database ‘without permission … or compensation … as part of its efforts to build a competing business,’ and that the startup has infringed on both the company’s copyright and trademark protections. The lawsuit is the latest volley in the ongoing legal struggle between the creators of AI art generators and rights-holders. AI art tools require illustrations, artwork, and photographs to use as training data, and often scrape it from the web without the creator’s consent.” • “Scrape it from the web without the creator’s consent.” Or, in the vulgate, “steal.” What The Bearded One calls “primitive accumulation.”

Tech: “The Mastodon Bump Is Now a Slump” [Wired]. “Mastodon’s active monthly user count dropped to 1.4 million by late January. It now has nearly half a million fewer total registered users than at the start of the year. Many newcomers have complained that Mastodon is hard to use. Some have returned to the devilish bird they knew: Twitter.” • IMNSHO, a universal address space is to be preferred to the Fediverse. There, Twitter, for all its faults, will always have the advantage.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 7 at 1:18 PM EST.

The Conservatory

On segues and Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” ChiGal comments:

>possibly the best segue in live rock and roll

nothing against Lou Reed, but no.

Skull & Roses, Not Fade Away/Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad, that first lick glinting like a thread of gold woven into a tapestry of rhythm… “like ringing a bell”

So herewith:

I am or at least was a DeadHead, so I have to say that NFA > GDTRFB did, er, cross my mind. I would say that the segue in “Sweet Jane” is unique both for its surprise, and for the tightness of the band; truly a one-of-a-kind moment and experience. For the Dead — let me just throw out the claim that they were a dance band, and the best ever — improvised segues were their essence as a band; the exact nature of a segue varied on any given night, but the audience knew one was coming. The nature of the surprise is different.

The Gallery

“On or about December 1910 human character changed.” –Virginia Woolf, of 1910’s Post-Impressionist Ball:

Strange combination of Cloisonnism (?) and finger-painting….

Class Warfare

“We Can’t Ignore Class Dealignment” [Matt Karp, Jacobin]. “Yes, a thin majority of lower-income voters is still Democratic; and of course, many higher earners are still Republicans. But invoking these groups is a way of talking past the point. Dealignment has nothing to do with the minor auto-parts barons who voted for Trump, as they did for Gerald Ford, or the unionized health care workers who voted for Biden, as they did for Jimmy Carter. Dealignment, like most historical phenomena, is not an absolute; it is a process. Or, more prosaically, a trend: and it focuses attention on the voters who are in motion across the party system, in both directions. Not those who stay, but those who leave. It is of course important to understand more precisely who these voters are. But after wading through all the sociological complexities, it turns out that the two key groups are relatively easy to describe, as Maisano acknowledges: lower-education, lower-income voters moving Right; higher-education, higher-income voters moving Left.” Whatever direction higher-income voters are moving in, it’s not “left” and cannot be. Karp is very, very smart. Why adopt this frame? IMNSHO, Karp is letting the analysis of symbolic capital (“In This House”) drive class analysis, the reverse of what should be. More: “[T]he social base for progressive or socialist politics is a different group: sociocultural professionals, mostly, with less active support from some groups of service workers.” First, this statement is a nonsense: Is there, for example, the slightest motion of the PMC toward single payer? That project is flatlined — during a pandemic, I might add — thanks to a combination of the Sanders implosion and Biden’s successful co-option of Democrat electeds across the board. More importantly, socialism “or” progressivism is like saying chalk “or” cheese. Are we really to believe that the (hegemonic) PMC are in favor of control by the working class of the means of production? Their very existence as a class is predicated on preventing that! Here, I think that Karp is conflating the self-presentation of the PMC (“In This House” once more) with the material realities that make the PMC what it is. See my review of Karp’s Vast Southern Empire, which is clear-eyed and excellent about the Slave Power in the run-up to the Civil War. Would that Karp could apply the same clarity of thinking, the same scholarship, to the present day.

“Seven Theses on American Politics” [New Left Review]. Linked to 12/24, but relevant to the above: “Beginning in the 1990s, and definitively since 2000, Republican and Democrat rule alternates on the narrowest of margins. Winning an election no longer involves appealing to a vast shifting centre but hinges on turnout and mobilization of a deeply but closely divided electorate. This new electoral structure is related to the rise of a new regime of accumulation: let us call it political capitalism. Under political capitalism, raw political power, rather than productive investment, is the key determinant of the rate of return. This new form of accumulation is associated with a series of novel mechanisms of ‘politically constituted rip-off’. These include an escalating series of tax breaks, the privatization of public assets at bargain-basement prices, quantitative easing plus ultra-low interest rates, to promote stock-market speculation—and, crucially, massive state spending aimed directly at private industry, with trickledown effects for the broader population: Bush’s Prescription Drug legislation, Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Trump’s cares Act, Biden’s American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure and chips Acts and the Inflation Reduction Act. All these mechanisms of surplus extraction are openly and obviously political. They allow for returns, not on the basis of investment in plant, equipment, labour and inputs to produce use values, but rather on the basis of investments in politics…. The rise of political capitalism has profoundly reconfigured politics. At the elite level, it is associated with vertiginous levels of campaign expenditure and open corruption on a vast scale. At the mass level, it is associated with the unravelling of the previous hegemonic order, for in a persistently low- or no-growth environment––‘secular stagnation’—parties can no longer operate on the basis of programmes for growth. They cannot therefore preside over a ‘class compromise’ in the classic sense. In these conditions, political parties become fundamentally fiscal rather than productivist coalitions.” • This is really worth a read, though as usual with NLR, you should settle down in an easy chair with a cup of coffee.

“The lessons of the rail struggle of 2022” [The Railroad Workers Rank-and-File Committee, WSWS]. “Throughout, the union officials worked hand-in-glove with Biden, provided political cover for the PEB, bought Congress time through endless delays and sought to enforce contracts through dubious votes marred by fraud. They lied to us, told us repeatedly that we did not have the right to strike and that nothing could be done if Congress intervened. In the end, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson even claimed that Biden’s intervention against us was for “the good of the country!” In reality, it was for the good of the profit interests of American businesses. This is not just a case of a few bad apples at the top. This is a system of labor control which they have worked out over decades. It is institutionalized partly through the RLA and similar laws but extends even beyond that. In the union bureaucracy, corporate America and Washington see a means of enforcing de-facto bans on strikes. Biden is attempting to build on this in other critical industries, including on the docks where workers have been without a contract for more than 6 months.”

“Americans turn to credit cards to cope with high inflation: US credit reporting agency” [Andalou Agency]. “Total credit card balances reached $930 billion in the last quarter of 2022, rising from $785 billion in the same period of 2021, TransUnion said in its Q4 2022 Quarterly Credit Industry Insights Report on Wednesday. ‘Whether it’s shopping for a new car or buying eggs in the grocery store, consumers continue to be impacted in ways big and small by both high inflation and the interest rate hikes implemented by the Federal Reserve, which we anticipate may continue for at least a few more months,’ said Michele Raneri, the vice president of US research and consulting at TransUnion, quoted by the agency. ‘If more moderated rate hikes continue, it would be a good sign that the increases have been working, and that some relief from high inflation may be on the horizon. Until then, we fully expect consumers to continue to look to credit products such as credit cards, HELOCs and unsecured personal loans to help make ends meet and put themselves in stronger financial standing moving forward,’ she added. The number of credit cards reached 518.4 million at the end of 2022, rising from 485.9 million the year before, according to the report. The average debt per borrower rose to $5,805, up from $5,127, during the same period, TransUnion said.”

News of the Wired

“How to Stop Ruminating” [New York Times]. “If you find that your thoughts are so excessive and overwhelming that you can’t seem to stop them, or if they’re so distracting that you’re falling behind on responsibilities at work or at home, you’re probably experiencing rumination, said Dr. Tracey Marks, a psychiatrist in private practice in Atlanta.” One way to stop: “When you’re ruminating, it’s possible to get stuck in a negative feedback loop where you feel bad about ruminating, which itself can lead to more rumination and deepened feelings of distress. Setting aside 10 to 30 minutes of dedicated “worry or rumination time” periodically can help relieve that pressure.” • A worry timer… I don’t know about that one. Would I worry I set it wrong?

Feel Good Cleveland Week continues. From @lance_aerial:


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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 ChetG:

ChetG once more: This is my favorite, or when wood becomes alive in a different way: It’s an antlered creature (complete with eyes). My wife had a heart attack on November 26, and the shock of it is still
with us, especially in terms of present and upcoming doctor visits. So my concentration is none too good, and I’ve only begun going outdoors and taking photos again in January.” I think in my commentary yesterday I obscured ChetG’s news regarding his wife. I wish them both the best.

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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. ChrisFromGA

    Hey chatGPT – can you do better than this? Write me a parody of the current state of the stock market. Here is mine:

    Sung to the tune of “You never can tell” by Chuck Berry:

    It was a teenage REIT-wreck and the old folks wished it well
    You could see all the traders truly loved the high-yielding smell
    And now the young yield chasers and fools have rung the closing bell
    C’est la vie said the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell!

    They diversified to apartments
    With a two-handle coupon sale
    The balance sheet was crammed
    With CRE and empty cans of ale
    But when the pump found legs
    The little money comin’ worked out well

    C’est la vie said the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell!

    They had a pivot-gasm
    Boy did they let it blast!
    700 Dow handles, reddit pumps and all that jazz
    But when the Dow went down
    The rapid tempo of the pumping fell

    C’est la vie said the old folks, it goes you never can tell!

    They bought a souped up meme stock
    Was a left for dead .53 (cents per share)
    And rode it down to the basement
    In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
    It was there where the judge said:
    The assets don’t match liabilities

    C’est la vie said the the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell!

    1. fresno dan

      The State of the Union isn’t completely useless, as I argued here eight years ago. It can help a president shape and present his agenda to Congress and the public. But a well-written email or PowerPoint demonstration could probably do an equal job of organizing and explaining an administration’s ambitions for the coming year.
      other than as a drinking game for politiconistas, is there any reason for it?
      What is really sad…or disturbing, is that these people really think the TV audience wants to watch them?
      So what is the drinking game tonight???

      1. griffen

        Stop drinking until you feel elated and happy. Once properly in a state of inebriation, then an individual can absorb all the good things Mr. Biden has to say.

        Economy, great!
        Jobs report, great! (On a second read, some parts look too good to be true)
        Healthcare, best evah !
        Inflation, down ! (Who are we proles to quibble)
        Russia, bad !
        Ukraine, great !
        Zelenskyy, great !
        Covid 19, finished !
        Balloon, destroyed !

        And the usual markers. Fighting. Fighting. And, lest we forget, fighting !

      2. LifelongLib

        IIRC it’s required by the Constitution, although initially it was given in writing rather than as a speech.

      3. notabanker

        For those not drinking, you can always play fill in the blank:
        Democrats to wear crayons lapel pins to highlight ___________________

  2. griffen

    The sequel for those leaving the Twitter in droves is being updated. Twitter Games, Catching Fire (Again).

    I may hate you Twitter since evil menace Musk is around lurking, but I just can’t leave you. And I thought quitting cocaine was a hard thing to do! \sarc Sadly I confess that I do not use the tweet machine myself. I am but a mere tape watcher.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > evil menace Musk

      I think “the Twitter Files” is an unalloyed good, and for that we owe Musk.

      That said, I wish I knew whether he made a clean sweep of the spooks. Of course, it may be that the technical fraction of the PMC is so contaminated with spookery, especially in Silicon Valley, that this is not possible.

  3. Lex

    The problem with surfing on the Great Lakes is that the only good surfing is in the winter. Though sometimes if there’s the right storm there can be surfing in the other three seasons. We’ve got one locally and moderately Instagram famous surfer “Surfer Dan” who also has a big beard. He thus gets lots of great shots of his beard completely iced up.

    I swim in the lake regularly and will start going pretty early and keep going pretty late. But I’m not going to take up surfing to maximize my communing with Lake Superior time.

    1. spud

      the only swimming in superior in duluth is off the big island and its sugar sand beaches, never go further out than chest deep. it gets to cold then, and the rip tides will get you. starting early. never, i wait till june.

  4. Jen

    “Looks to me like New England’s regional surge is winding down. No bump from the students returning.”

    If wastewater testing is to be believed, as well as supporting anecdata from co-workers, we have a big bump in Hanover. Concentrations were below detection on 12/27, started going vertical as soon as the undergrads returned on 1/3, and are, hands down, the highest in the state. It looks like it’s starting to level off, but if the CDC were including Hanover in their map, which they are not, there would be a bright red dot signifying our status as plagueville.

    I just spent a few minutes comparing the CDC’s wastewater map to NH’s wastewater map. A few things stand out: 1) as I noted, Hanover does not appear in the CDC map, even though the “sewer shed” as the CDC calls it, is comparable to one of the sites in Sullivan county that is included in the CDC map. 2) The CDC map has a site in Carroll county (blue dot on the Maine border) that does not appear anywhere in the NH data; 3) The CDC data seems to exclude several other sites near the seacoast which also have pretty high concentrations, though well below Hanover.

  5. John Zelnicker

    I’ve got some questions about all of these top secret files being found where they don’t belong that’s been nagging me from the beginning.

    Do these presidents, vice-presidents, and senators actually box up these records themselves?

    Don’t they have “people” to do that for them?

    I don’t give the benefit of the doubt to any politician, but are we to believe that any of them went through their top secret files and decided to keep certain ones?

    Color me very skeptical, but I’ll keep an open mind.

    1. paddy

      sensitive records are serial number for each copy controlled. they have a detail file plan, and each taken out of the approved container is signed out…

      and the containers have combinations, and openings and closures are recorded.

      to get to Biden garage as with trump demands tracking the chain of custody for each record….

      White House seems pretty loose with sensitive documents…..

      1. John Zelnicker

        Thanks, paddy. I’ve said many times that I learn as much from the comments as I do from the post.

        Of course, that procedure brings up all kinds of other questions about how those documents got out and who is ultimately responsible. Pretty loose = very sloppy IMO.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Do these presidents, vice-presidents, and senators actually box up these records themselves?

      Apparently, the White House is completely cleaned out by the outgoing adminisration. And very rapidly, since the government must keep functioning until the very last day (for some definition of “function”).

      So it’s like a very rushed moving day. I recall this for several past administrations, not just Trump’s.

  6. John Zelnicker

    Lambert – That Grateful Dead segue is the three-fingered guitar picker (Jerry) at his best.

    I attended a lot of their concerts in the 70’s in the Philly-New York area and I’m still a Deadhead.

    “There’s nothing like a Grateful Dead concert!”

    1. Thistlebreath

      Nothing against Jerry, he was well and truly a master of his instrument. After he passed, the band was never the same. A good banjo player as well as lap/pedal steel. There are a few sites that trace the evolution of the guitars he played. What was one of his favorites was built by an amateur fireworks maker in Florida who perished when a batch of explosives detonated unexpectedly.

      But the segue in “Sweet Jane” still surprises me, 40 years on. It still gets my vote. Punch up some Mitch Ryder when Steve was still his guitarist with the Wheels and the passage’s origins will snap into focus.

      There are some Dave Gilmour riffs in Pink Floyd that deserve a listen. A descending chord sequence in “Sheep” is stunning in its utter simplicity.

      And there’s that riff in the middle of “Middle of the Road” featuring The Great Robbie McIntosh. A genius economy of style with a stunning effect.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        For segués it’s hard to beat some of the stuff the crazier bands do. Tropical @#$! Storm’s 1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) is a sludgy tribute to Jimi Hendrix that suddenly transitions into acid-drenched ’60s group harmonies that grow a pair of thumping drums to drive them through a hailstorm of incoherent lyrics that slip into a short jam before the actual song begins. Eighteeen minutes of your life you’ll never get back (or forget).

        Not work friendly, not children friendly, just brain puddly music from down under released in 2023 that I’m pretty sure Ted Gioia hasn’t reviewed yet. For fans of Zappa and The Residents who wish those bands had rocked out a little more often. OK, maybe not that clever but still an oversized beer can’s worth of schlockadelic music complete with little tiny insect voices just when you thought they couldn’t get any weirder but are really just warming up because the best psychedelic music was always about the wtf segués from one great thing into another even better great thing and yes eventually they do get back to Hendrix ; )

      2. griffen

        This discussion about a great guitarist and the incredible riffs. Can we perhaps move onward from musicians who are now pushing into their 70s or possibly into their 80s? Heck I saw Joe Walsh last April in concert, and he absolutely rips it on a few different songs. But I get it, anything from the Eagles may not qualify. To quote Lebowski, “come on man, the Eagles?”

        Lindsey Buckingham or Brian May anyone, anyone? Please tell me I am wrong. Although I recently turned the ripe age of 50, so my ears may not be well tune for the particular gifted musicians that we begin to opine about. Music to me is a personal taste and also a personal journey, or trail, that I can choose to walk alone or possibly with friends. I think Buckingham is a fascinating player.

        In a recent video from maybe two or so years ago, there is a cover of the Heart classic “Barracuda” where the lead is played by Nuno Bettencourt plus some guy* playing drums. I just will add that this cover kicked some ass. I could link it but that just ruins the fun of it all. *spoiler it’s Taylor Hawkins

        1. Nikkikat

          I’m with you Lindsey is a very under rated guitarist. Saw him numerous times. His style is unique. Also a dead head.really enjoy jerry solo too.

          1. LilD

            Saw the Jerry Garcia band in Marin several times
            Always amazing

            He ( like, though not at all like, Larry Carlton) was just so melodic with his solos. Ian Stich has a nice lesson or two on developing the process

            I just started playing with a new band and pulled this style out on my first solo and they liked it

        2. ChrisFromGA

          The more I listen to Fleetwood Mac the more I appreciate Lindsey B.

          I kind of wrote them off for about a decade or three, but now when I listen with a bit more miles on my odometer, he stands out among his peers.

          Plus he was innovative with the varispeed recording back when everything in a studio was analog.

          1. griffen

            Well I just did that to myself I suppose. I cannot promise it will get universal approval, but I will be sure to find a few keepers! I’m a child of the ’80s when MTV was still actively playing music videos. So, a bit of a forewarning on what I share.

            Added, I’m not much of a concert goer so much of what I find is curated based on prior views or flat stumbled into.

        3. britzklieg

          Move on at your own peril: “Youth is a gift of nature, age is a work of art” – Cicero

          but as you say, to each his own… I think Beck was equally gifted and far more interesting than Clapton or Paige and most people don’t even think of Stephen Stills first as a “guitarist” – the man can play. Most people don’t even know who Bruce Cockburn is… listen to this (at 74 years old, acoustic solo):


          and a younger electric version with an absolutely gorgeous segue followed by that remarkable ostinato that motors this brilliant song:


          Buckingham is fascinating… very unique, unlike anyone else

          If he’d lived, Terry Kath would be among the best oldsters too and he was a great writer as well. Chicago would not have emerged and excelled w/o him. And if Hendrix (who named Kath as a better player than himself) had lived…

          Eddie Hazel’s opening solo to “Maggot Brain” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOKn33-q4Ao

          Prince was an exceptional guitarist (better than his song writing, imho).

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > After he passed, the band was never the same.

        I think the pre-heroin Jerry is different from the post-heroin Jerry. Not sure when the dividing line is, my impression is a little before or after Europe 72.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Lambert – It was when Keith and Donna Godchaux joined the band in 1971-72.

          Keith is the one who introduced the band to heroin.

          IMNSHO, bringing in those two was the worst decision the Dead ever made. He made them junkies (or at least Jerry) and she couldn’t sing worth a damn, nothing but screeching, and it ruined a lot of their songs.

  7. notabanker

    How to Stop Ruminating
    I’ve found that not reading the NYT, WaPo, WSJ and FT is a great start. Not watching any cable news network probably helps as well, but I wouldn’t know for sure as I haven’t watched any of them since about 2003.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Is ruminating kinda like when you mull things over? As in doing some deep thinking? Yeah, I can see how the New York Times would not be a fan of that.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Video is better, it’s important to see these utterances in context. Not schooled well enough to remember if this is dada, flux or an old Weimar Republic cabaret schtick but I think we’re witnessing some world class performance art the likes of which I haven’t seen since Andy Kaufman allegedly died.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘To be fair, I didn’t verify Will’s quotes.’

      Yeah, those transcripts are pretty accurate as I heard her saying that a few weeks ago. That is why I brought up the possibility in a recent comment that if she became Madame President, that they would be forced to let her give the US State of the Union speech which would be like listening to the Biggus Dickus speech. And remember that the average US State of the Union speech goes for about 50 minutes. So Kamala would be talking like this for 50 minutes too. (shudder)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      NLR can be as heavy as a doorstop-ready Xmas fruitcake, but to my mind they are the most serious, genuine left site on the Intertubes (along with Reed’s non-site). Both are absolutely always worth a read. Yes, WSWS is serious too, but I find that sometimes tactical considerations obtrude in what I would like to regard as news.

  8. agent ranger smith

    . . . ” Surely there’s a central site where such material can be pulled together?” . . .

    Maybe not. The authorities would like to prevent one from arising if they could. They would certainly like to keep it obscure.

    Maybe this very blog feature right here . . . Water Cooler . . . is the closest America is going to see to such a central site. Perhaps all such relevant information should be posted right herein comments by people who have their own little pieces of it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Perhaps all such relevant information should be posted

      It’s not a bad idea, but in essence it’s a proposal for a database, which would need to be maintained. If this were Drupal, it would be easy to do (and in fact I have done similar things). Hmm. Let me think about that.

      1. Late Introvert

        I think NC in general should have a database approach, with backups spread wide and far and also offline, on a controlled schedule.

        Not assigning work, happy to volunteer. IT archive person amongst other hats.

  9. semper loquitur

    re: ruminative thinking

    Hard to stop ruminating when the bills are due, the kids are sick, the news is bad, and the bank account is drained. And anyway, the whole problem with ruminating is that you cannot stop ruminating. If you could stop it by just saying “Stop!”, it wouldn’t be a problem.

    I suffer from ruminative thinking, driven by PTSD and bipolar disorder. It’s not what that doctor describes. Real ruminative thinking is when you hear the same thing, the exact same fu(king thing, over and over in your head until you literally start slapping the side of your skull in frustration. What is being described here is worry and despair, not surprisingly found in abundance in this blighted land. More boot-strappin’ bull$hit from a health care hustler…

  10. Stephen V

    Lambert: writing from Arkansas, the land of the totemic Pig (I mean even the Coach is referred to as Boss Hog),
    I think you meant *pygmie.*

  11. JTMcPhee

    For the compilation and anyone looking:

    My pcp is Dr. William Brown in Clearwater, FL. He personally masks (surgeon mask) but staff do not. His practice used to require patients to mask and the sign on the door tells us to go away if we are feeling sick. He’s sort of a gerontologist and spends a fair amount of time stopping in on his hospitalized patients. I asked about ivmekton mid-2021 and was told in no uncertain terms the CDC did not recommend animal meds, and he was uninterested in studies relating to its effectiveness or the FLCCC. Increasingly perfunctory involvement, he’s getting older too. Presses patients to punch their tickets for annual wellness visit.

    If there are any “Marcus Welby, MDs” left, I’d love to find one. Likely almost all have aged out or gotten absorbed by private equity owned practices and other forms of asocial medical services unproviders.

  12. NorD94

    Nearly Four in Ten Say Their Households Were Sick with COVID-19, the Flu, or RSV Recently Even as Most People Say They Aren’t Too Worried About Getting Seriously Ill https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/press-release/nearly-four-in-ten-households-were-sick-with-covid-19-the-flu-or-rsv-recently-even-as-most-people-say-they-arent-too-worried-about-getting-seriously-ill/

    Nearly four in ten (38%) people say their households were affected by this winter’s triple threat of viruses, with someone getting sick with the flu, COVID-19, or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and nearly half (46%) say the news of these three viruses spreading has made them more likely to wear masks or take other precautions to avoid getting sick, the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey finds.

    At the same time, almost three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the public says they are “not too” or “not at all” worried about getting seriously ill from the virus (69%), though 31% still say they are worried. That’s somewhat more than say the same about the flu (26%) or RSV (25%).

    The flu affected the largest share of households over the past month or so (27%), with smaller shares saying someone in their homes got sick with COVID-19 (15%) or RSV (10%).

    News about the three viruses also made some people more likely to take preventive measures such as wearing a mask in public (31%), avoiding large gatherings (26%), traveling less (20%), or avoiding eating indoors at restaurants (18%).

  13. TimmyB

    The belief that Trump was ever going to face charges for his supposed mishandling of classified documents was absurd. Trump, like all Presidents, had the ultimate power as president to classify or declassify any information he chose. (It is extremely odd how the vast amount of power a variety of US laws give a President
    is often ignored.)

    As a result, the prosecution, to convict Trump, would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that Trump didn’t declassify every document he took with him from the Whitehouse. That would be impossible to prove. So no prosecutor would ever indict him.

    1. agent ranger smith

      Is there a formalized procedure that a President has to go through to declassify something? Is it enough for a President to take the documents in question into a secret cave and wave the headless corpse of a black chicken over them three times while chanting: ” I declassify Thee, I declassify Thee, I declassify Thee ” . . . ? With no witnesses and no evidence that he did so except his own word after the claimed fact?

      1. marym

        The president can* issue an executive order to define procedures for declassification. Trump didn’t do this, so presumably Obama’s order remained in effect. Although Trump claimed to the media that he declassified documents, he hasn’t made this claim in court. He took boxes of papers, some classified, some not, that generally would be classified as government property, said they were his, and refused to give them all back in response to requests and then a subpoena. Whether that merits or will result in prosecution, it doesn’t seem to be dependent on the classification issue.

        *This isn’t explicitly defined in the constitution. In discussions of the issue, you’ll see it referenced as something that somehow flows from constitutional responsibilities. e.g. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/government-classification-and-mar-lago-documents

          1. John k

            I thought impeachment was only for fed office holders? If so, you’d have to wait until he was sworn in.

      2. ambrit

        He or she could invoke the Powers of Darkness, (where Democracy went to Die,) I mean, the Press, to act as Witnesses. (The analogy of American Press and Headless Chickens is too good to pass up.)

  14. Pat

    I can’t comment on all of Will’s Kamala quotes but at least two of them are accurate. It is harder on video to realize how bad the word salad is as she attempts to be personable, laughs at her cuteness etc. It is easy to think it is your fault you got lost UNTIL you replay it.

  15. The Rev Kev

    ‘This is pretty outrageous- HCW’s in BC are being told to NOT test themselves for COVID-19 and therefore do not need to isolate for 5 days.

    In a memo to staff, Island Health’s Dr. Réka Gustafson says the majority of HCW’s should not be tested and discourages them from doing so.’

    Must have got his inspiration from Trump with his if you don’t test you won’t find cases idea.

    1. C.O.

      Apparently she is tired of Bonnie Henry getting to announce all the recommendations for supersp… er, managing COVID-19.

  16. Beyond the rubicoN

    LAPD Airforce

    I can attest from first hand experience that they have at least a dozen choppers and at least 2 UAVs.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If just 1 ant intersects with its old trail,

      Presumably the ants, then, evolved to avoid this behavior, but I wonder how.

      Good metaphor, though. Far better than lemmings!

      1. hunkerdown

        I suppose they don’t take corners very well when on march.

        The parent Tweet showed a video of sheep circling for different reasons (listeriosis). Social media is like Jalisco cheese.

  17. John k

    Regarding why us politics are as they are…
    The divide has created 2 fervent but balanced teams. Donors pick the nominees, so they’re not appealing to most. Indies must pick between 2 unacceptable candidates, and this difficulty is making elections ever closer. Enormous sums are spent, not touting their candidate so much as focusing on the other guys unacceptable qualities.
    Maybe the stronger distaste is for the most recent winning party because every election finds most of the election worse off, an unavoidable result of the 2-parties policies. So always focus on the very bad ‘other’.
    Granted, Obama managed to con the indies into thinking he wants to help the lower half.
    Now bad weather in part of a state could swing the election.

  18. Rod

    FWIW—Senator Sanders was sporting a respirator for the SOTU. The only one I could observe.
    I can admire and respect that example from the Chair of HELP.

    1. ambrit

      I can too, but the man, notwithstanding his long record of doing “good” in the Halls of Congress seems to have devolved into a purely performative politician.
      When you have the ‘Bully Pulpit,’ you make outrageous demands and then ‘settle’ for something close to what you originally wanted.
      The opposite of the above was Obama. Obama was the master of shooting himself in the foot just before pleading inability to ‘get things done.’
      When this eventually breaks down, it will be a real blood bath. My anecdotal observation is that America is heavily “gunned up.” A systemic collapse does not have to be centrally planned or led.
      The Revolution will be crowdsourced.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > A systemic collapse does not have to be centrally planned or led.

        It’s sad that all the revolutionary energy comes from conservative/reactionary factions. More than sad. (Of course, in the old days we could have relied on the unions to bust some heads, but these are different times.)

        1. ambrit

          I note that the last major revolutionary change in American socio-politics was ‘created’ out of a well fed, self absorbed generation of the children of the “new” middle class. The Beats led the way, sort of a “Vanguard of the Hipiteriat.” The ‘youth’ followed in their footsteps, because that ‘youth’ did not have to dedicate all of their time to simple survival.
          Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs can be considered as late examples of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” movement. It can be argued that Roosevelt had enacted the “New Deal” to forestall a true revolution in America during the Great Depression. Roosevelt was a child of wealth. Unlike the politicos we suffer under today, Roosevelt had some self reflection. He understood the pitfalls of unfettered capitalism.
          Mix the late stage “New Deal” with the Beatnik Era and we have the Sixties, (which I’ll argue extended well into the 1970s.)
          Now we are reverting to the historical mean. Indeed, we will swing heavily into a Reaction. [I’ll argue that ‘The Jackpot’ is essentially reactionary in philosophy.]
          One major impediment to any serious improvement to the living standards of “the masses” is the Cult of Technology. A simple logic trick is being played on the people with the assertion that technological ‘advances’ are automatically “progressive.” This obscures the fact that such “advances” are merely an example of tool making. Tools are ‘neutral,’ if one were to grant them agency. The important point is the uses to which those ‘new’ tools are put. That is not a technological task, it is a political one.
          I’ll assert that Politics is the ‘Queen of the Sciences.’ (How much of Politics is science and how much is art is a question for the practitioners of said endeavour to answer. I’ll bet that you will get a different answer from each politico you ask that question of.)
          As to why most of today’s “revolutionary” energy is conservative, I’ll have to suggest that we immerse ourselves in the social organizations that seem to be the wellsprings of those reactionary movements; the churches and other small political groupings. I’ll go out on that well traveled by now rotten limb and say that my observations show that the well known aphorism is true: “All politics is local.” This leads one to observe that most recent “progressive” political groups and mini-movements begin as small, local affairs, and are generally effective. The rot sets in when outside actors come in and co-opt these small, successful, groups. So, what we need now is a new IWW or AFL, the old styles, not the new.
          Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. {Thanks for letting an old man rant.}
          Stay safe. Keep masking.

  19. Wukchumni

    Fabulous day on the slopes @ Mammoth with the dartful codgers, nothing but ‘hero snow’ on the tilted elySierran playing field of ski’d row…

  20. sharron2

    Our dermatologist Dr. James Bond in Southlake, Texas follows covid safe procedures. Masks are required and hepa filters in each examining room. He also has a medical condition. We go to many doctors for my husband’s agent orange conditions, and he is the one we feel safest with. Wish the others would be as conscientious.

    1. katiebird

      My dentist’s office is the same. HEPA filters in each section and room. And, Everyone except the receptionist is required to mask and patients are given something to gargle right before starting. I don’t know about my other docs.

Comments are closed.