2:00PM Water Cooler 2/9/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Reader Query: Periodically we’ve posted threads of recommendations for vendors (doctors, dentists, restaurants, retail, gyms, performance venues) that are what I might call “airborne conscious,” that is, having proper ventilation (HEPA, CO2 meter, maybe Far UV), and masking. Am I right in thinking that there is no central repository for such vendors? Very infrequently I see a site float by, but nothing really seems to click. Thank you! –lambert P.S. There’s certainly nothing on Google Maps, in the sense that this information is a normal field like address and phone, which would indeed be very handy, though perhaps someone has built a Google map that does this.

Bird Song of the Day

Amazonian Grosbeak, ENE of Careiro do Castanho, Fazenda Toshiba. “Songs by a bird that was first heard calling, then singing, from very dense growth at the edge of tall terra firme forest along the road just beyond the second dip; the singing bird was about 6-8 meters away and 1-2 meters up when recorded; subsequent playback resulted in the bird approaching and giving calls; it was seen and clearly a male of this species, but a second bird was also heard calling; partly cloudy, mild breeze from the east, and in the upper 80s to low 90s.”

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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

“Did Biden give the order to destroy Putin’s Nord Stream pipeline after Ukraine invasion? Bombshell report claims Navy divers carried out mission to kill Russia’s gas stranglehold on Europe in audacious mission overseen by president” [Daily Mail]. “The sensational report by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, published to his Substack, cites a source ‘with direct knowledge of the operational planning’ behind the alleged plot. The White House and the CIA flatly rejected the report on Wednesday, branding it ‘complete fiction’.” • So this story ought to be hopping the Atlantic pretty soon, or would, if wartime censorship were not in effect. A Republican reacts to it:

Note that the Hersh story carefully explains how the spooks (and, I assume, Biden) were careful to avoid briefing Congress. More:

Fair enough, it’s a gotcha, but I expect Hersh to rise above a cesspit like the Times. He is, after all, a reporter, not a stenographer.

“IRS Names Advisors on Possible Government-Run Direct Filing System for Taxpayers” [Government Executive]. “Capitol Hill directed the IRS to look into the cost and feasibility of a government-owned direct e-filing system in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act – legislation that also included $80 billion in 10-year funding for the tax agency for enforcement, to upgrade tech and enhance its workforce. The IRS announced on Wednesday that it is on track to deliver the report to lawmakers in May, as required by the law, and has also picked nonprofit New America and tax expert of Loyal Law School, Ariel Jurow-Kleiman, to help write the report. The law directs the IRS to report on the cost of developing and running a direct e-file tax system, as well as taxpayer opinions on such a system and the opinion of a third-party on the feasibility, cost, and IRS capacity to deliver such a system.” • Why don’t they just send me a bill?


“Biden talks economy, China, political division in exclusive interview with Judy Woodruff” [PBS]. On his poor polling, Biden: “Because the polls don’t matter anymore. You got to make, what, 40, 50 calls and on a cell phone to get someone to answer a poll? Even the pollsters, you talk to them. Ask them what they think about this. Look.” • I don’t think he’s wrong.

“Democrats prop up Harris, Clinton for 2024 if Biden doesn’t run: poll” [The Hill]. “Harris’s position at the top of the survey — which was conducted between Feb. 3 and Feb. 6 by the polling firm Premise — comes as she faces approval ratings that are even lower than the president’s.” • Handy chart:

Who knows, but Clinton in second place is scary, even if Clinton leading Buttigeig is delicious.

* * *

“Turley Testifies on Censorship Before House Select Subcommittee” [Jonathan Turley]. Turley’s prepared testimony: “The Twitter Files raise serious questions of whether the United States government is now a partner in what may be the largest censorship system in our history. The involvement cuts across the Executive Branch, with confirmed coordination with agencies ranging from the CDC to the CIA. Even based on our limited knowledge, the size of this censorship system is breathtaking, and we only know of a fraction of its operations through the Twitter Files. Twitter has 450 million active users but it is still only ranked 15th in the number of users, after companies such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest. The assumption is that the government censorship program dovetailed with these other companies, which continue to refuse to share past communications or work with the government. Assuming that these efforts extended to these larger platforms, it is a government-supported censorship system that is unparalleled in history. Regardless of how one comes out on the constitutional ramifications of the government’s role in the censorship system, there should not be debate over the dangers that it presents to our democracy. The United States government may be outsourcing censorship, but the impact is still inimical to free speech values that define our country.”

“Ex-Twitter executives now say they forget key details of censoring Post’s Hunter Biden laptop scoop” [New York Post]. • There’s email, ffs. Are the Republicans going to butcher this?

“The Hunter Biden investigations, Act I” [Politico]. “Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer, said clearly in her opening statement that it was a mistake to block the Post’s Twitter account for two weeks, which is what they did. She said that thinking back, she would have reinstated them immediately; that was new, I hadn’t heard that.” • The story broke three weeks before the 2020 election. Twitter suppressed it for two of those three weeks. Somehow that context got left out of Politico’s coverage….

“Hunter Biden’s legal team asks Bannon, Stone, Giuliani and others to preserve evidence for future lawsuits” [NBC News]. “Hunter Biden’s legal team sent letters to Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon and 11 others on Wednesday asking them to preserve potential evidence for future lawsuits related to the alleged theft of personal data that may include information from his laptop, according to documents obtained by NBC News. The move is the latest in a new legal strategy by lawyers for President Joe Biden’s son, who plan to pursue a wide range of litigation against allies of Donald Trump and others involved in obtaining and disseminating data that they say is or may be the private property of their client.” • The only way forward is through. All the way through 2024….

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“The GOP Is Starting to Plot Against Donald Trump” [Politico]. “‘It is,’ he said, ‘A five-alarm fire. And there is nobody coming to put it out.’ ‘It,’ in this case, is the possibility that once again Donald Trump will prevail over a splintered Republican field, getting the same 30-40 percent he received in the early primaries in 2016, enough to win the nomination. ‘He,’ is a Republican donor and bundler, a Wall Street financier who regularly hobnobs with senior Republican officials but who also was, uniquely for his tribe, an early and enthusiastic supporter of Trump. His request for anonymity speaks to the bizarreness of this political moment, where even one time staunch supporters of the former president are reluctant to say out-loud what they and their cohort all say privately: That should the former president win the primary again, he would be very likely to lose again to Joe Biden, even as some polls show him besting his 2020 rival.” • I don’t buy the “splintered field” theory for a minute. Does this bundler really believe that if the Republicans had coalesced early behind Jebbie (or Marco Rubio) that Trump wouldn’t have won anyhow? The real problem is that Trump was the better candidate. The same for the general, too.

Republican Funhouse

“James O’Keefe Is on Paid Leave From Project Veritas” [New York Magazine]. “O’Keefe is his organization’s guiding ideological force and onscreen face, but his status as its day-to-day manager has become uncertain amid reports of internal turmoil, lawsuits from former employees, leaks about its internal workings, and a federal investigation into its conduct in purchasing a diary stolen from Ashley Biden, the president’s daughter. [Executive Director Daniel] Strack’s internal message to employees made reference to what he called ‘a distracting time’ and said that a board meeting had been held to discuss ‘the health of the organization’ and that while ‘we have not come up with final solutions yet we have made a few immediate decisions.’ The message said two top Project Veritas executives, including the nonprofit’s chief financial officer, had been ‘reinstated.’ Multiple sources said that the pair had recently been fired by O’Keefe.” • Blue sky-ing here, totally, but one might wonder if Pfizer sponsored the hit?

“McCarthy brings in record haul at first fundraiser since becoming speaker” [Politico]. • That should help McCarthy. Mother’s milk.

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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“Biden Aims to Win Back White Working-Class Voters Through Their Wallets” [New York Times]. Fascinatingly, the first Wayback Machine headline is “Biden Breaks Ground on a Huge Project: Winning Back the White Working Class.” Not the same. “With his call for a “blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America,” President Biden on Tuesday night acknowledged rhetorically what Democrats have been preparing for two years: a fierce campaign to win back white working-class voters through the creation of hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs that do not require a college degree… much of that path was already laid by the last Congress with the signing of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a $280 billion measure to rekindle a domestic semiconductor industry and the Inflation Reduction Act, which included $370 billion for low-emission energy to combat climate change. Whether or not Mr. Biden can persuade a divided Congress to act on his remaining plans, the money from those laws has just begun to flow, and a surge of hiring is coming. Many of those jobs will be in the industrial battlegrounds that Democrats either took back from Mr. Trump in 2020 or will need in 2024, when endangered senators like Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin face re-election. But Democrats will have to match those jobs against Republican appeals aimed at white grievances.” • It certainly is a novel project: Change the class composition of the country to your electoral base. We’ll see how it goes. $1.65 trillion, taking all the programs together, really isn’t very much when spread out over a decade.

“James Carville Attacks GOP, Marjorie Taylor Greene As ‘White Trash'” [HuffPo]. “Democratic political consultant James Carville on Wednesday described Republican lawmakers who heckled President Joe Biden during his State of the Union speech as ‘white trash.’ ‘I tell people I have the equivalent of a PhD in white trashology, and we saw real white trash on display,’ Carville told MSNBC anchor Ari Melber.” • Hmm.

“Fetterman in Washington hospital ‘for observation’ after feeling lightheaded” [CNN]. “‘Towards the end of the Senate Democratic retreat today, Senator John Fetterman began feeling lightheaded. He left and called his staff, who picked him up and drove him to The George Washington University Hospital. Initial tests did not show evidence of a new stroke, but doctors are running more tests and John is remaining overnight for observation,’ Fetterman’s communications director, Joe Calvello, said in the statement.” • A Senate Democrat retreat would make any dull normal light-headed. Nevertheless.

Realignment and Legitimacy


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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“CR Box Instructions” (PDF) [Google Drive]. English-, French-, German-language CR Box Instructions for download. The UK has an otherworldly electrical system, so here is theirs:

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• Mastravaganza: “We Still Don’t Know What Works Best to Slow the Spread Of COVID-19” [Time]. Assuming that’s the goal of the Biden administration, which it isn’t. Mass infection without mitigation is the goal. That said: “Because of a lack of research on NPIs, we still can’t answer important questions like: which government measures had the greatest and the least impact? How did the sequencing and timing of these NPIs affect their effectiveness? Which measures caused more harm than benefit? We need answers to these questions so we can prepare for the next pandemic, armed with better knowledge.” • How odd such information was never collected. Well, I guess we’ll never know. On masks:

With all NPIs, when you start digging into the research evidence, the picture isn’t always clear cut. Take masks. From a basic science perspective, masks work—they filter the particles that we breathe. High filtration masks, like N95s, work better than surgical or cloth masks. Masking provides quite a bit of protection for the people wearing them against respiratory diseases, and can also help reduce transmission from an infected person to others.

In theory, then, if every person in the world had worn a high-quality mask 24/7 for a few weeks the COVID-19 pandemic would have been, if not over, then at least substantially slowed. But in practice, the intervention that we implemented was not some perfect ideal of mask-wearing, in which everyone consistently wore a well-fitting N95 in every situation. During surges, not everyone masked indoors, not everyone wore N95s, and those who did wear a mask may have worn them imperfectly (we’ve all seen people wearing masks with their noses uncovered, or even with their masks hanging around their necks).

I think the picture is quite “clear cut.” “We” ran a massive social experiment — much like we’ve done with vax — to see if we can degrade the basic physics of masks to a level of non-performance by having WHO and CDC initially discourage their use, then periodically and randomly shifting policy, never providing simple instructions for purchase or use, not having public figures model them, allowing a constant drumbeat of business-friendly punditry to discourage them, and ulimately by shaming and mocking mask-wearers. The experiment, obviously, was a massive success, and a template for future mitigations for climate change. Of course, we could simply have mailed them out to every American citizen, along with test kits, but that would be far too simple.

• Maskstravaganza: “How Liberals Killed Masking (Unlocked)” (podcast) [Death Panel]. “We look back at how such a basic intervention as masking during a pandemic became increasingly scrutinized, undermined, and ultimately stigmatized in mainstream discourse over the last three years.” • Good, but long and complex. It occurs to me that we’ve had two other long deliverables lately: The first being Jeff Gerth’s four-part demolition of RussiaGate in the Columbia Journalism Review; the second being Hersh’s 5000-word Nord Stream story. These two stories, and Death Panel’s podcast are all works of contemporary history; there seems to be a demand for a “usable past,” one at least not dominated by bullshit. These three pieces — by no means CT — are all, in their own way, examples of how to analyze a SCAD (“State Crime Against Democracy”), though the State has a different role to play in each sequence of events.

• Maskstravaganza:

At least Maddow could have mentioned the only masker was Sanders.

* * *

• “FDA nixes EUA ambitions for Eiger’s COVID treatment, proposes full approval pathway instead” [Fierce Pharma]. “In March, Eiger reported that peginterferon lambda reduced the risk of ER visits longer than six hours by 50% compared to placebo. A total of 84% of treated patients were at least partially vaccinated and the company said that the treatment was also found to be effective against the Omicron variant. Regardless, Eiger says the FDA relayed that an EUA was unlikely to be granted in the ‘current context of the pandemic.’ Instead, the agency suggested the company consider an additional pivotal trial so it could take the full approval route, unlikely to be the most tantalizing option given the cost of a new trial. The company said that as a result, it’s considering all options for peginterferon lambda, including emergency authorization outside of the U.S. and ‘strategic options for continued development’ of the therapy. ‘ • What the hell does the “current context of the pandemic” mean?

* * *

• Hospital Infection Control at it again:

* * *

• Ouch:

A toned-down version of the “birds aren’t real” CT, perhaps.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED 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.

• “Is wastewater the answer for tracking all disease outbreaks?” [Jeremy Faust, Inside Medicine]. “The problem is that a neat correlation between detected levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and case counts has not been precisely worked out. Even if a good correlation can be worked out, the ratios may change with new variants and other factors. Still, qualitatively, it’s pretty clear that when SARS-CoV-2 wastewater levels go up, reported Covid-19 case counts follow suit. That knowledge has been powerful. The CDC now has a national wastewater surveillance system online that anyone can browse.” • Yeah CDC has such a site, and users can indeed browse it. When it’s up. Or when the data from the treatment plant in your area isn’t greyed out. Or if you don’t live in the South, which is hardly participating in the program at all. Given CDC’s performance for everything else in the pandemic, I wouldn’t be surprised if they put some nimrod in charge, to sabotage the program with bad management.


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 9:

-0.6%. Still on the 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.


SITE DOWN Wastewater data (CDC), February 4:

Less grey, though still too much; a lot less red.

February 3:

NOT UPDATED And MWRA data, February 4:

Minor uptick, north and south.


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.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), January 30:

Lambert here: XBB overtakes BQ. CH down, 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 8:

Hospitalization data for Queens, updated February 5:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,137,929 – 1,136,960 = 969 (969 * 365 = 353,685 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose to 196 thousand in the week ending February 4th, from the previous week’s nine-month low of 183 thousand and above market expectations of 190 thousand. Still, the latest figure suggested the labor market remained tight, which could contribute further to inflationary pressure in the world’s largest economy.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “‘Sam? Are you there?!’ The bizarre and brutal final hours of FTX” [Financial Times]. Wild, wild stuff; I would imagine somebody’s pitching it in Hollywood right now. “‘Nobody had gone through a disaster before, so people were breaking psychologically,’ said someone close to them. ‘It was never more apparent to me how young all of them were than in the 72-hour period before bankruptcy.'”

The Bezzle: AI = BS:

The Bezzle: AI = BS:

The Bezzle: “Big Tech and Generative AI” [Tanay Jaipuria, Tanay’s Newsletter]. Author is a VC. “Today, I’ll discuss what the big tech companies – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple – had to say about their plans for Generative AI in their most recent earnings call last week.” In particular, Google: “[CEO Pichai] also hinted that their most powerful language models will come to search in some experimental formats. Language models like BERT and MUM have improved Search results for four years now, enabling significant ranking improvements and multimodal search like Google Lens. Very soon, people will be able to interact directly with our newest, most powerful language models as a companion to Search in experimental and innovative ways. Stay tuned.” • Most would agree that over the last four years Google Search results have gone right down the crapper. Thanks, AI!

The Bezzle: “Google confirms AI-generated content isn’t against Search guidelines” [9to5 Google]. “In a new post to the Google Search Central blog, Google clarifies its stance on AI-generated content and how Search treats that content. The short version is that Google Search guidelines don’t directly ban AI-generated content. Rather, Google will reward ‘high-quality content, however it is produced.’ The company defines ‘high-quality content’ based on ‘expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness,’ or ‘E-E-A-T.'” Which explains why NC gets no Google hits, I suppose. More: “While Google won’t penalize AI-generated content directly, it does say that using AI to create content that carries the ‘primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results’ is still a violation of policy, but that not all use of automation is considered spam.” • Swell. Let the games begin. (Does make you wonder if Google plans to auto-generate mountains of AI-generated crap by itself, then search that, in a sort of closed loop. Certainly simpler and cheaper than crawling a bunch of stupid websites.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 79 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 9 at 1:41 PM EST.

Our Famously Free Press

Day One of the Hersh Watch:

Nothing from state media as of this writing:

“Why Substack?” [Seymour Hersh, Substack]. “Here, I have the kind of freedom I’ve always fought for. I’ve watched writer after writer on this platform as they’ve freed themselves from their publishers’ economic interests, run deep with stories without fear of word counts or column inches, and—most importantly—spoken directly to their readers. And that last point, for me, is the clincher. I’ve never been interested in socializing with pols or cozying up to money types at the self-important cocktail get togethers—the star-fucking parties, I always liked to call them. I’m at my best when I swig cheap bourbon with the servicemen, work over the first-year law firm associates for intel, or swap stories with the junior minister from a country most people can’t name. That’s always been my style. And as it turns out, it’s the ethos of this online community as well. What you’ll find here is, I hope, a reflection of that freedom. The story you will read today is the truth as I worked for three months to find, with no pressure from a publisher, editors or peers to make it hew to certain lines of thought—or pare it back to assuage their fears. Substack simply means reporting is back . . . unfiltered and unprogrammed—just the way I like it.” • OK, but now let’s have a second source.

“Twitter Kept Entire ‘Database’ of Republican Requests to Censor Posts” [Rolling Stone]. “The Trump administration and its allied Republicans in Congress routinely asked Twitter to take down posts they objected to — the exact behavior that they’re claiming makes President Biden, the Democrats, and Twitter complicit in an anti-free speech conspiracy to muzzle conservatives online.” • Taibbi’s “Twitter Files” post argues that the Democrats made many more requests, were granted many more requests, were far more embedded in Twitter’s administration, and that tribalist Democrats dominated the moderation team. So, not “the exact same behavior.”

Class Warfare

“More Than 400 Writers Guild Members Call on MSNBC to Reach ‘Fair Contract’ With Union” [Hollywood Reporter]. “The Writers Guild of America East is putting some additional pressure on MSNBC to expedite contract negotiations. More than 400 members of the union — including star members Tina Fey, Lilly Wachowski and David Simon — are calling on the cable news brand to agree ‘to a fair contract that includes the pay and protections [MSNBC union members] deserve’ in a petition released on Wednesday. The WGA East’s bargaining unit at MSNBC, a group of more than 300 writers, producers, fact-checkers and others, has been negotiating with MSNBC and NBCUniversal management for over a year on their first contract since the union’s certification via a National Labor Relations Board election in August 2021.”

“The Big MOOP at Burning Man” [New York Magazine]. MOOP = “Matter Out of Place.” Interesting description of Burning Man: “MOOP of a different sort threatens the playa: a proposed geothermal exploration project about ten miles from the dry lake bed where tens of thousands of techno-utopianists and Silicon Valley executives in booty shorts gather each summer…. The festival began in 1986 with a small crowd watching as an eight-foot effigy (the “man” of Burning Man) was set ablaze on a San Francisco beach; today it’s a cultural institution not unlike Disney, if Disney Adults were into ethical non-monogamy and psilocybin. There are offshoot Burning Man festivals in Africa and Asia, regional “leadership summits” for Burners, a journal in which attendees ruminate on the festival’s “diaspora” and a massive economy of RV vendors and private-jet charters expressly affiliated with the Nevada event. In Black Rock City, no money exchanges hands and the tenets of radical self-reliance and decommodification reign supreme. A “gifting economy” encourages participants to bring supplies — sunscreen, egg sandwiches, back rubs — which are presented to and traded among revelers. But Burning Man the organization, which has expanded to become a de facto manager of the region as much as the producer of a yearly eight-day rave, exerts significant cash investment and political muscle to further its interests.”

“How To Be A Scab” 101:

News of the Wired

“I, too, have flown a giant balloon over North Carolina” [North Carolina Rabbit Hole]. “Today, stratospheric balloon flights are an incredibly common thing. Meteorologists around the world launch them twice a day from some 900 locations to make precise weather observations and forecasts. Detailed information on wind patterns make it possible to know where balloons will end up. Even so, flights can easily go awry. The Chinese government’s official excuse for their balloon’s walkabout over the United States was straight out of the Diplomatic Mission to Alderaan Playbook. China stated that its ‘research’ balloon had merely had drifted into this country’s airspace by mistake—a mistake that’s apparently occurred several times before. Even if this seems ludicrous, it is possible. I know this. Because nearly a decade ago, I too lost a stratospheric balloon over North Carolina.”

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

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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. griffen

    Ahem, James Carville speaks his mind. He does have some fairly memorable quotes like the one below, my opinion is worth two cents of course. “Drag a $100 bill through a trailer park and see what turns up.”

    Deplorables. White trash candidates. Stupid primary voters. He left out followers of all things rassling , and music fans of Skynyrd ( I give no offense to fans of the band myself ).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > James Carville speaks his mind

      If Biden is serious about winning over the (white) working class, he’ll stuff Carville back into his box, unless he gets with the program.

      1. agent ranger smith

        I read somewhere that Carville is descended from a South Louisiana semi-cajun-descended rural gentry family. A little town of Carville, Louisiana is supposed to be named after one of his ancestors.

        So since Carville is descended from modestly affluent Southern White Cash, it makes perfect sense that he would mock Southern White Trash.

      2. spud

        YEP, because carville is a cheer leading supporter of bill clintons quackonomics that ruined america.

        it won’t take trump long to point out to the the midwest, what was done to them by bill clinton, and that has created the mess where america lost its super power status.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I made the mistake of putting the name James Carville into a Google Images search. Don’t. Just don’t. You read through the guy’s Wikipedia entry and there is not that much to respect as he is just a political hustler. So once tried to have Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” banned but years later was all in on protecting Bill Clinton from charges of sexual assault-


    3. Heidi’s Walker

      If MTG is white trash for calling Biden a liar, then Pelosi tearing up a copy of Trump’s state of the union address makes her white trailer trash. The look on Pelosi’s face when she did that made me think what a warped soul.

  2. Carolinian

    Thanks for the Hersh. Here’s hoping it’s not another three months before his next story or if it is then the result is a doozy.

    As for Biden and polls–if they were at 60 percent he would be extolling their accuracy. The man has an excuse for everything and often a made up excuse. If we concede that polls are not infallible can we also concede that they are not worthless? Has Biden ever even been over 50 percent in any poll? This is the man who threatens us with WW3.

    But then the news media have approval in the twenties and they threaten the same. It would be helpful if somebody, anybody, in our ruling class would show a little contrition

      1. Carolinian

        I was just about to link this. He says a more elaborate operation would have been necessary to blow up the multi ton pipeline segments and says the Kearsage, a usn naval assault ship with an internal well deck must have lingered on the scene to do it including digging out the seabottom around the pipe and then replacing it before leaving. However with an entire ship’s crew involved that sounds not very stealthy at all. B’s case is circumstantial and Hersh’s based on an unknown informer. Perhaps the Swedes really do need to speak up about their investigation and its details. They have said that it was definitely sabotage.

        1. notabanker

          Other than the operation itself, the whole thing reeks of amateur hour. They made two public statements they were going to shut them down. Then they get shutdown and deny doing it. And have zero interest in finding out who did. Maybe it was the Russians. Lol. I mean seriously, this is the best they got. Maybe Joe was fighting for it and someone else finished the job.

          1. agent ranger smith

            King Biden the Joeth – – ” Will no one rid me of this meddlesome pipeline?”

            Some plausibly deniable cutout – – ” On it, boss.”

      2. Cas

        One of the commenters at MofA links to a story in Anti-Spiegel. His comment and the link:

        “Another part of the puzzle, a German / Russian blogger is reporting about a whistleblower who contacted him last October. His story completely matches that of Hersh:
        It’s obviously in German but please machine-translate the whole piece yourself if you are interested.”


        The anonymous source participated in the BALTOPS exercise and thought something was amiss. Anti-Spiegel didn’t print the story because it wasn’t verifiable but after Hersch’s article came out decided it was worth printing. TL:DR Some divers in high-tech diving suits helicoptered in for the “mining” exercise, worked in an area different from the exercise site.

    1. Carolinian

      ZH says Tucker Carlson highlighted the Hersh on his program last night. So the media omerta ends at Fox.

  3. Carolinian

    Some more usefutl Nikki bashing.


    To the extent that there is a fight among Republicans over the direction of their party’s foreign policy, Haley is squarely in the camp of the hawkish internationalists that have dominated the GOP’s policymaking apparatus for decades. […]

    While she was representing the US at the United Nations, Haley sometimes seemed to be running her own foreign policy alongside the one coming out of the State Department. As a result, her relationship with then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reportedly a contentious one. She tried to use her position in New York to build up her credentials as a foreign policy hawk, and she wasn’t interested in coordinating with Foggy Bottom. Despite the diplomatic position she held, she was not very diplomatic. She preferred lecturing, making demands, and talking about “taking names” of countries that failed to endorse US proposals. […]

    Since leaving government service, Haley has continued to speak out on foreign policy issues with the same combative rhetoric that she preferred using as ambassador. Her advocacy group, Stand for America, has staked out extreme hardline positions on foreign policy. Her foreign policy commentary has sometimes been peppered with snide partisan attacks, as it was when she claimed that Democrats were the “only ones mourning” Iranian IRGC general Qassem Soleimani after Trump ordered his assassination.

    Trump is a lot smarter than Nikki and is threatening to play the peace card even as she pretends it’s still 2001. If you are going to surf the Zeitgeist you need to keep up.

  4. skippy

    Ref Googles AI ignores date restrictions/Generative AI

    Google seems too ignore search date restrictions so it can spam the inquire list with the approved narrative, can’t let anything get in the way of that hay. Anywho its just like the robodebt thingy when human agency is claimed to be removed for the sake of so called socioeconomic efficiencies which by past human recourse political or otherwise.

    Been watching that fab show ‘BARRY’ about the ex afghan solider/sniper coming home to the States to become a hit man. Actress girl friend ends up writing and staring in hit woke TV show, 98 score on rotten tomatoes for its premier, only to have show cancelled because the production companies AI said it did not hit enough vertical clusters [bawhahaha]. The director of the production company said she could not go against its [AI] decision. So she lost out to a show with a 24 score because it did hit more vertical clusters ….. basically behavioral demographics about consumption and interests …

    Been awhile since l laughed out loud so often watching something, so many rim shots on so many topics, Military life, L.A. life, Gang life, direction of Showbiz, Tech and Survival of the Fittest[tm] with a smile …

    1. skippy

      Sorry I should have added the production director could not reverse the AI decision[????] because of how investors[tm] might respond …

      Which brings me to ponder the idea that ***Jackpot*** was/is investor driven …

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        But the story is a natural progression since the end of season 1 and then season 2. Its not forced. They aren’t pretending events didn’t happen to have Bill Hader just be a funny dude. Watch Larry David’s Clear History if you want that.

        Hollywood is a racket though. I think this is the actress/gf’s first steady job at 35, and she’s fantastic.

        1. skippy

          Oh the part about Barry exposing his past in Afghanistan with his first kill/s to the acting class vs reality gave me a flash back – too my early days in L.A. circa 80s … rolling with the flow of the classes expectations and not the reality of the backslapping from his platoons mates … their minds would just implode …

          Ahhh … Sal Danos class was a carbon copy … chortle …

    2. skippy

      I just want to reiterate my observation that the companies top authority would not/could not over ride the decision made by the AI because of concerns about how investors would feel/think about it and how that would effect the valuation of the company. Not based on the quality or popularity of the show, but if it hit enough broad metrics wrt peoples consumption/actions before-during-after the show, and a bunch of other social media metrics.

      So were right back to the fruit fly trials where reinforcement loops dictate all outcomes e.g. individuals are powerless to make any changes and it all becomes fait accompli “Becuase” Markets[tm] ….

      Anyway I’m just glad I escaped all that …

  5. skippy

    The whole masks thingy reminds me of the old psychological studies done with young kids where they identify the good from bad people by their faces – alone – from head shot photos.

  6. Adams

    Still no mention of the Seymour Hersh article on AP, NYT, WAPO, LAT, CT. Nothing in Le Monde. Very little in Mexico; nothing in La Prensa although Excelsior did pick up the Reuters story yesterday.

    No need for the sensory deprivation chamber here. Atrios is good on this: “…that f**king newspaper…” but Caitlin Johnstone is best at describing the warm bucket of s(p)it that the MSM bathes the American public in.

    1. Bugs

      France24 ran it. In a very neutral tone. It’s heavily subsidized by the government, for what it’s worth.

    2. Pelham

      On this subject, isn’t Germany — or Chancellor Scholtz — in one hell of a tight spot if the Hersh story is somehow confirmed or even gains traction? I see two possibilities for this plausibly confirmed act of war against both Russia and Germany: Either the Germans were quietly notified of the sabotage ahead of time. Or they weren’t.

      In the first case, Scholtz has a lot of explaining to do. I don’t see how he could survive in office or escape an even worse fate, perhaps (ideally) facing or evading an international tribunal of some sort along with high officials of the US and Norway.

      In the second case, Scholtz would or should face enormous pressure to do something decisive. Withdraw from NATO? Rebuild the German military and establish an alliance with Russia?

      Finally, given the stratospherically high likelihood from the get-go — well before the Hersh story — that this was a US operation with world-order-cracking potential consequences, doesn’t it seem odd that interest in it (admittedly including mine) faded so quickly?

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        More Chinese balloons on their way to keep us all distracted.

        In the meantime, bother your reps in Congress.

      2. eg

        The non-response to Hersh is completely in line with the ongoing non-response to the incident itself. Everything is going according to plan …

  7. Geo

    “Clinton in second place is scary, even if Clinton leading Buttigeig is delicious.”

    Are you saying you don’t want a sequel to 2016? Personally, I think Trump v. Clinton 2 would be a great Hollywood-style sequel. Bigger, louder, more expensive… same script just with added convoluted b-plots and comic relief side characters. In a country that loves sequels, reboots, and serialized entertainment, this is a perfect pairing for 2024.

    Of course, if it’s functioning government we’re hoping for it’s scary, but as tv infotainment spectacle it’s bound to be a blockbuster. And considering our current government functions more like that “immune system dysregulation” you mentioned maybe this sort of election would be the expected visible symptom of our deeply sick system?

      1. Barbara

        It’s the same people who loved Russiagate, shiver when she calls Putin Hitler, feel good about the proxy war, don’t give a flying f about lifting the sanctions against Syria, and are gonna stand by their “woman.”

      2. Daryl

        Is it loyalty or is it the Democrat strain of authoritarian following? e.g. if Clinton were to be attacked by the establishment, they would bail immediately, whereas some Repubs were trying to get rid of Trump from the start and it has only increased his popularity and attractiveness

      3. agent ranger smith

        Didn’t someone once say several years ago that there are tens of millions of devoted Clinton Cult members in this country, and that they will remain a civic threat and a civic menace for years to come?

        Well . . . there are. And they will.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Looking at the small selection of all too familiar names, it is like having a carny hustler come up to you and say ‘Pick a card. Any card.’

    2. curlydan

      I would love to see a second axis on that bar chart showing the “negative sentiment” rating on each candidate. I’d have to think that of the top 7, all would have high negatives besides maybe Newsom, and that’s probably because people don’t know him well since he’s only a state office holder whose kept his opinions fairly local (as opposed to Abrams). I’m confident HRC would lead the negatives overall.

      Even though I’m no longer a Sanders supporter, it’s fairly sad he can’t even top Klobuchar on that list.

      1. ETO

        How do you know that Bernie was included in the poll? I’m sure if he got a poor response they would have gladly waived it out there as a condemnation of Socialism. Everyone on the list are choices supported by the party. If you recall the beginning of the 2020 presidential primary season, when Bernie was the clear leader in polls, they wouldn’t even say his name.

  8. cnchal

    No narcissist wants to hide their face for any reason, for if they do the one beside him gets all the glory. Despite the massive hint their owners, DavosMan gave them.

    The badder thing is when even moar demented decisions, due to brain fog . . . er brain damage, are made by them.

    Speaking of brain damage, why is it so prevalent among doctors? Masks don’t work? How effing idiotic are these S class drivers?

  9. ChrisPacific

    Does anybody else notice one name that wasn’t included in the not-Biden candidates for 2024 poll?

    Not that I think he’ll run again, but it’s kind of comical to see him airbrushed out anyway.

    1. agent ranger smith

      That one name has probably had enough anyway, by this point.

      And he is so afraid of a MAGAnazi America that he will campaign his heart out for Clinton or Mayobama or Kamalabama or whatever creature the Democrats nominate in any event.

        1. agent ranger smith

          Its a fair question.

          ” Who put the horse’s head
          in Bernie Sanders’ bed?”

          After all, he probably doesn’t want to get the “Kennedy treatment” anymore than anybody else would want to get the “Kennedy treatment”.

          But he is also very scared, genuinely and no joke, about the rise of a Religio-Fascist MAGAnazi Gilead Republic in the space currently taken up by the ” United States of America.”

          He is also a very grass-roots-up mass-organization small-d democratic type of person, who deeply dislikes the concept of “revolutionary vanguard” and the “Dictatorship of the Revolutionary Vanguard” and probably got these dislikes from his earliest youth and exposure to the various socialist versus communits-versus etc. controversies and struggles of that time.
          ( This is just pure speculation on my part, to be sure).

          1. JBird4049

            I also think that they are not above threatening people that are personally important to Sanders. Tax problems/audits, legal issues, bad investments, health problems… all can be resolved (or created) by the Powers That Be.

            Also, the only really effective means to stop the religious fascists or the socialist revolution is to give the American people want they need and to stop making excuses for the Democratic Party. The same can be said about the Republican Party.

            The Very Important and Serious People are all worried about a revolution or coup, which is truly a real possibility sometime in the next decade (ten short years), but nobody with real power wants to do anything that might peacefully forestall it because it would interfere with the gravy train. Doing so would be much more profitable for everyone as well. If anyone wants a civil war, they are crazy moronically suicidal. But then there is Ukraine.

  10. agent ranger smith

    . . . ” The White House and the CIA flatly rejected the report on Wednesday, branding it ‘complete fiction’.” •
    Given the rule of thumb that an official government denial of something being policy is strong evidence for that something actually being government policy . . . is there an equally strong rule of thumb about an official government denial of having taken an action is strong evidence for the government having taken that action?

    Even if through “plausibly deniable” cutouts?

  11. fresno dan

    Margaret Kimberley
    Should we start a NY Times countdown? Will they ever cover Seymour Hersh #NordStream revelation?
    Now, I willing to wager real cash money that the NYT covers Seymour Hersh #NordStream revelation no sooner than it prints a story that the Steele dossier was fake news, and writes an editorial that Hunter Biden’s laptop should be investigated by a special prosecuter.

    1. Donald

      They may cover it if they can think of a way to make it seem ridiculous or if some part of it can be shown to be wrong or at least made to seem wrong. Otherwise not.

  12. Rob Urie

    Re: Hersh, ‘OK, but now let’s have a second source.’

    If an inheritance billionaire with an agenda hadn’t bought Twitter, there would be zero sources for that story.

    So, determining truth is about sitting around waiting for the phone to ring?

    Problem 1: you (we) don’t know what we don’t know and

    Problem 2: the most repressive government actors hide the most important secrets

    When one side has the power and controls the information, informed speculation is all that the people have.

    1. Carolinian

      If an inheritance billionaire with an agenda hadn’t bought Twitter, there would be zero sources for that story.

      Don’t follow you. What does Twitter have to do with Hersh?

      1. GramSci

        There are multiple sources for the NordStream story, not the least of which is the fact of BaltOps. Sy Hersh just brings another voice, one with many interesting details.

  13. IM Doc

    I do often wonder if these drug researchers ever talk to those of us on the front lines.

    Over the years, I have had several patients on interferon for various maladies – melanoma, renal cell cancer, and some autoimmune issues. Although it has been given by the oncologists or rheumatologists, it is the primary care doctor who gets to deal with the side effects. On more than one occasion, and actually when I look back on it – quite a few occasions, I have had to admit these patients for a night or two in the hospital for severe flu-like illnesses, hypotension, sepsis-like syndrome and I distinctly remember one patient with hemolytic anemia.

    Granted – that was interferon alfa – and the drug described above is interferon gamma. But I am still somewhat concerned. I am even more concerned when these drugs are being evaluated under the EUA architecture – there seems to be no accuracy in side effects and adverse events. Remember the PAXLOVID only causes rebound in 0.3% of cases schtick from months ago, wink wink wink.

    So gamma interferon is purported to decrease hospitalization in COVID. But how many are going to be admitted to the hospital because of side effects? Before I even think about giving it, I am going to be looking for an accurately tallied, analyzed, and reported side effect and adverse event and safety profile. This is what I have been doing for years anyway, my fudiciary and moral obligations to my patients have been present since I took the oath – and are not negated by the EUA. I have somewhat lost any trust I ever had in their safety statements. For these reasons, they have taken the doctors out of the equation – just line up at your local pharmacy…….and now you do not even need to have a COVID positive test to get Paxlovid. I am thinking it will be very similar for this drug. We should all just realize that interferons have been considered a type of chemotherapy before now – certainly not a lollipop.

  14. NN Cassandra

    Re Hersh. While it would be nice to have second source, it seems improbable that someone in high government position would completely invent such false story. What would be motive for that? Even for bureaucratic turf war, falsely accusing US government of terrorist attack against supposed ally looks like a bit of overkill, there must be plenty of garden variety corruption and incompetence to leak and score some points.

    1. Carolinian

      Maybe someone should ask the Swedes what do they know and when did they know it. They have supposedly investigated the sabotage and are staying mum.

      And if the Bidenistas are going to deny then tell us who did do it. They aren’t even good liars–just demand that everyone accept what they say./

      1. playon

        I can’t find the link now but I believe the Swedes responded to the story by saying something like “We can’t comment on confidential matters”. Not a denial…

    2. curlydan

      The detail in Hersh’s story I liked the most was the need to put remote-controlled detonators on the pipes just in case the BALTOPS ran long or they could not clear out if the area in time. I was like, “Hell YES!” that’s exactly what a person trying to cover tracks and minimize any connections would do. They have to find the exact right window to blow those suckers up and not leave it to a timer.

  15. agent ranger smith

    . . . ” Of course, we could simply have mailed them out to every American citizen, along with test kits, but that would be far too simple. ” . . .

    Re-imagine that sentence as . . . “Of course , we could simply have mailed them out to every American citizen, along with test kits, but that would have been far too non mass-lethal.”

    If the secret policy is really to secretly kill as many millions of Americans as possible over the next few decades, ” far too simple” would not be the reason for not mailing out masks and test kits.

  16. Bugs

    Really do appreciate the continued Covid coverage. It would be great if there were a chart and some numbers on incidence worldwide, like you used to put up. It would put the US situation in perspective and I think some of us could contribute anecdotal data, since the readers and contributors mostly span the globe.

  17. JustTheFacts

    A second source seems to me to be Red Herring: if the sources are anonymous, we are trusting Hersh whether he claims to have one or an infinite number of sources. So the question is: do you trust Hersh or not?

    1. hunkerdown

      The task before an intelligence analyst is to determine the degree of truth of any particular claim or narrative, not to perform that childishly reductive moral dispensation through which Puritan PMCs see all things. The story’s claims stand according to their explanatory power and their lack of material contradiction, which is open to contradiction and mutation as the story develops and more sources produce more claims, which are also open to contradiction.

      1. JustTheFacts

        If I understand what you are saying, yes, other independent sources are useful. But they need to be independent from Seymore Hersh.

        My point, which I think you didn’t understand, and perhaps I wasn’t clear enough, is that my understanding is that Lambert is asking Hersh for more sources. Since Hersh’s sources tend to be anonymous, if he provides another anonymous source, it is equivalent to still trusting Hersh.

        As to other sources, supposedly this is one although I cannot evaluate how trustworthy it is. The original October 2nd 2022 video is here.

  18. djrichard

    Credit to Maddow – tailed end in that same clip, she did identify Sanders as the mask wearer.

    1. tevhatch

      Yes, but I’ll admit I had a check too as I half expected her to mention him in a negative way – never miss a chance to get in another back-stab seems to be a motto of hers. Turns out he’s such a milksop for the neo-liberal state that all is forgiven.

  19. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Possible Government-Run Direct Filing System for Taxpayers

    At some point of estimated cost, the gov could buy the TurboTax division (software, staff, web sites, etc.) from Intuit (or one of the other reasonably good existing web-based packages out there), and just run it themselves. Would save everybody a lot of online ads and shameless marketing, and the problem could be quickly solved. The endless foot dragging on this is a clear signal that nobody wants it to happen.

    Same category of activity like mailing out masks and test kits.

      1. Hepativore

        Or, we could just have the government withhold your income taxes out of your paycheck automatically like they do with Social Security, and then send you a yearly statement showing their calculations.

        If you disagree with this assessment you could file and show where the error was made, but it would otherwise be an automatic system.

        They do this in some countries, and as the IRS has to check people’s filing numbers anyway when they are sent in, it does not seem like it would be too much to ask and it would remove a lot of headaches for the average person.

          1. Hepativore

            I know, I know…we would not want to deprive all of the commercial tax-preparing service companies of their hard-earned rent-seeking.

            Yay, neoliberalism! I suppose.

    1. Eclair

      I am sure that the for-profit tax prep companies are lobbying hard to keep their edge in the market. Not sure just what percentage of people going to HRBlock, et al., to file for their ‘refund,’ as the government subsidy that insures that the children of low wage earners have less chance to go to bed hungry at night is called, file only for that subsidy. The level of their income would not otherwise require them to file (unless they were unwise enough to allow their employers to withhold a portion of their earnings.) The ridiculous system allows tax prep corporations to skim off a percentage of the subsidy. A more rational government would simply design a system to deposit a child allowance monthly into the recipients’ bank accounts.

      On a related note, my spouse and I were driving about yesterday and listened to an NPR On Point long interview with Bloomberg reporter, Zachary Mider, and tax lawyer, Richard Covey. They detailed how the ultra-rich avoid paying taxes. The lawyer has been devising these schemes since the 1980’s (and Congress has been approving them.) Illuminating.

  20. Mikel

    The Bezzle: AI


    ChatGPT is smart, but it doesn’t know what Henry Ford knew: Algorithms don’t buy cars

    “…Everyone is focused on leveraging AI to cut labor costs, with little concern not only for the immediate customer experience but also for the future of American spending power…”

    And algos don’t buy clothes, houses, or take out loans.
    This is just some short term thinking to generate a tech stock bubble.

    1. hunkerdown

      The Reuther defense. It doesn’t matter, though. Capitalist relations aren’t sacred because of their content, but because of their asymmetry. Labor’s role in society is to be busy and unable to acquire class markers, not to produce things. Other relations of subordination will evolve accordingly in order to preserve the grand leisure-labor class system. “The service economy” was a play in just that vein.

      1. Mikel

        The “service economy” includes financial services such as insurance and lending. All sorts of professional services….
        It’s going to be interesting. Algos don’t need any of it.

        1. JBird4049

          If the algos get rid of the economy, what good will the algos be with nothing to run? Even the corrupt, oligarchic banana republic or the Southern Slavocracy required a functional economy, however limited, to provide the resources for the nation to survive and the luxuries that the ruling families craved. Roads, ports, farms, construction, technicians, workers, even full service banks are all needed or else it all goes away; I don’t think our Beloved Owners are thinking this through especially if they are not even providing the Soylent Green or the grain dole… Even in California, I not see people blaming the Deplorables for the economy unless, maybe they are part of the Professional Managerial Class who are themselves being transformed from that into the Proletariat, and later into the Disposables.

          Go long on Long Pork, anyone?

    2. c_heale

      ChatGPT is not smart. It’s a medium without a message – a surface with nothing behind it.

      It’s dumb as in a dumb terminal.

  21. kareninca

    My mom lives in CT. She has a friend of many years who grew up in rural Maine (they are both retired schoolteachers). Her friend keeps up her connections with her home area in Maine. Today she told my mom of someone she knows there who had a lump on their stomach about the size of a fingernail. Their relatives/neighbors tried to get it checked, but there was no place to bring this person; there were no hospital rooms anywhere and no appointments. They tried other parts of Maine, including Portland, and also no luck. Finally they just recently managed to get the person to an appointment in Boston; by then the lump was the size of a grapefruit and the person quickly died.

    I know the person who was the source of this story and she is not someone who exaggerates; if anything, being from impoverished rural Maine, she is more likely to understate things. It sounds pretty bad out there in rural areas.

    I have a zoom church friend who lives about seven miles from the Ohio derailment fire. She asked us on zoom if any of us had seen it on the news. I was the only one who had. Who cares about Ohio I guess; not the mainstream media.

    1. notabanker

      The Ohio train derailment story was being surpressed from the very start. It did not appear in my google news feed until many hours later. I clicked on 16 different links to it once it did. 15 out of 16 had the same story, train derailed, burning fire, first responders on the scene, hasmat deployed in case there were any hazardous substances. Neighborhoods in the vicinity were being evacuated as needed, shelters set up in high schools, yada yada…..

      Only one link, a local TV station in BFE, and I had to dig for it, reported that it actually had hazardous materials and that it was vinyl chloride.

      This is where the corporate takeover of the press is flat out dangerous. Downtown Pittsburgh is 40 miles southeast, directly downwind of the prevailing winds here. It’s bad enough that people who breath that crap in are now prime candidates for liver cancer, but if it had been something more deadly, who here has any faith whatsoever that the government and press could / would have done anything to minimize the damage?

    2. griffen

      I happened to tune into ABC for the national broadcast. Live from the earthquake in Turkey. With multiple news assignments on the ongoing aftermath and rescue effort. Yeah nothing about OH, not even a blip. Pretty clear signal of a sort to the working class folk?

  22. RookieEMT

    Anything on that anti-war rally in Washington? The guest list looks a bit oddball but the attacks online against ‘Rage Against the War Machine’ look desperate.

    1. wol

      The quickest way to an antiwar movement is to reinstate the draft, include all genders and acronyms, no college deferments. If they can do it for child labor…

  23. tempestteacup

    No Bernie on that poll of potential Democratic presidential candidates in the absence of Scranton J. And while I might have otherwise dismissed that as reflecting his silence on the subject – if Amy Klobuchar, whichever capo of the Pritzker famiglia occupies the Illinois governor’s mansion, Mrs. Clinton (née Rodham – I believe she is sometimes known as H.R!.C!.), and Stacey Abrams can swim up from the political benthic zone, you’d think at least a few % of people would bestir themselves for Mr. Political Revolution – especially since he, unlike many of the others on the putrative Democratic ‘bench’, still actually does his politics job as an actual job.

    If I sound cynical, it’s because there’s something about Bernie’s collapse into the Democratic Party leadership still stings. I know it shouldn’t – it was always going to happen, how could you be surprised? – but it does. The man expedited legislation through Congress to override the railroaders strike mandate just as he pretended to be ‘fighting’ for extra sick days (that he knew they would not get). And all the while, at a time of international conflict unseen for decades, voting, voting, voting for those defense budget hikes, those boondoggles or workarounds or statements of solidarity with Zelensky and a puppet regime so dubious it makes Ferdinand Marcos look like a character from Sesame Street.

    I think of Jeremy Corbyn, who for partly temperamental reasons, partly due to the more complex intersection of mass/working class politics and state interests that exist in the Labour Party (compared to the pure bourgeois ruling class state of the Democratic Party), managed to smilingly deposit himself likewise in the dustheap of history. And I suppose what at least partly makes me so sad is that Corbyn, like Bernie, represented the last articulation of the 60s counterculture in mainstream public life.

    They offered a chance, at least so I thought in those heady days around 2015-16, to forge living links between the struggles of the 20th century and their foundations in still-relevant, meaningful theories about history, who gets to make it, and the rising political consciousness of those among us born into a post-cold war, neoliberal world. The potential to learn from, develop with, and catalyse one another was for me at the time, very exciting.

    Instead, I see Bernie retreating into his role an avuncular, occasionally ‘difficult’ but ultimately reliable part of the Democratic machine. Corbyn meanwhile has accepted the wholesale purging of the very people he encouraged to join the Labour Party, seemingly able to be roused only in defence of his own martyred status within the Labour Party that has long since blocked him from all its apps while spreading nasty rumours about his personal hygiene. They could not have demobilised their own new generation of supporters more if they’d been conscious, willing agents of the state.

    And so, instead of a living movement capable of reaching back past the dawn of the neoliberal era courtesy of those remaining radicals whose own struggles were in turn harked back to real revolutionary class struggle, pre-war socialism, the IWW, European revolution, and all the rest, we end up where we are, alienated and in states of endlessly re-articulated separation. The leadership of the mainstream American democratic socialist left passes from Bernie to AOC and the Squad, who alternate between appearing at celebrity events in their anti-poverty couture and descending on worker’s struggles (e.g. Hunt’s Point strike) like birds of ill omen – you can be sure that a strike is about to be betrayed or shut down when AOC gets on the bullhorn to further develop her brand.

    Apologies – I don’t know where I’m going here. It’s the bleak tail-end of winter and I’m feeling particularly woebegone politically, as even what passes for the mainstream left capitulates to a Western war fever that sucks all the oxygen for the room while the social conditions meant to have precipitated a fresh wave of conscious left-wing action worsen only now more or less ignored by the media.

    Where do we go next – and how do we get there? And how do we replace – quickly – the thoroughly discredited ‘leaders’ who have done so little with so much, for the purposes of exactly those that people believed they would struggle against?

    1. GramSci

      I feel your pain(tm). Many people do, but not yet an electoral majority. Possibly never, because it would require the majority to feel the pain of others.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I know what you mean here. Whenever you have a political establishment facing a crisis – whether you are talking about Rome or late 18th century France – their first instinct is to crush any dissent to keep themselves on top. Initially it works and they congratulate themselves on a job well done but it is only recognized much later that all they have done is to severely restrict their future courses of actions and destroyed any off-ramps which could have steered their way from disaster. As events develop they find that they have fewer and fewer options no available and often choose courses of actions that only makes things worse. We are seeing that right now the past year where the collective west has been immolating themselves, have much reduced their influence, have their institutions become denigrated and are in the process of isolating themselves from the other 85% of the world. And their only solution? They only ever double down and have no reverse gear.

    3. JBird4049

      I am thinking more about the ongoing collapse of the Democratic Party. It is not really about age, but about being a competent, decent, and uncowed person and with the extremely limited sense of this only unlisted Sanders as well as the listed Ocasio-Cortez and Warren are that none of the other people in the poll are in anyway competent, decent, and uncowed. Harris is an incompetent, ambition crazed, empty soul of a woman and Clinton is just evil. Unless the goal is to just run a campaign to make money through grifting, which means winning is unimportant, how any of these people are expected to do well against any credible Republicans especially Trump is unknown to me.

      It is funny, but I am again getting those weird images flashing in my mind about certain subjects appear like when I think about the upcoming elections. It is not voluntary. They just appear, which just wonderful. Not. The American Whigs and Bleeding Kansas are prominent, which is not surprising, but John C. Calhoun and his defense of slavery as a positive good are more prominent in my head. It is not enjoyable seeing his crazy eyed face repeatedly. Neoliberalism as a positive good maybe?

      Also, on Senator Mike Lee being surprised on not being advised on the pipeline bombing, it is partially connected to Congress increasingly disconnecting itself from the running of the government; when the job is running a grift or destroying the government instead of being a government, which both parties are doing, why should anyone either talk to, vote for, or deal with you in anyway? Habit?

      The poll is also another indication and reason that both parties are becoming increasingly brittle with only the façade being important and not the rooms or even the foundation being looked to. Really, just how many people are willingly going to vote for Harris, Clinton, or Newsom besides habit or supposedly the lesser evil? I would sooner stick my big toe in the wall socket.

    4. Eclair

      Thanks for articulating what I, and many others here, are feeling, tempest.

      It’s that empty, but clear-headed, state that one reaches when it is evident that the relationship in which you have been existing, is one with an abusive partner, or parent. You can’t go on in the old manner, you know you are going to have to ditch that person and re-order your life, and you are afraid that you will not be up to the task. You wake up each morning with the sinking feeling that your old life is no longer livable. The future looks bleak, you are scared. But, you have made the decision that to remain in the old relationship is impossible, that it will eventually kill you, body … and, even worse, soul.

      So, you take the first tentative steps, divest yourself of the old furnishings, and look about for partners on the journey.

  24. antidlc

    Dr. Lucky Tran Retweeted

    This is a brilliant segment by the @Todayshow
    about the direct connection between catching Covid and the raised risk of a heart attack.
    I had to keep pinching myself to check it was real and I wasn’t dreaming.
    Thank you @NBCNews

    Video at the link

    Seven minute segment. At the end the doctor recommends masking, yet he sits maskless in close proximity to the two women.

  25. Acacia

    “Unusual Whales Democratic ETF (Ticker: NANC) will invest in equity securities purchased or sold by Democratic members of Congress and their spouses.

    Investments by members of Congress and their spouses must be disclosed pursuant to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (“STOCK Act”).”


    There’s an ETF for the GOP, too, called KRUZ.

  26. The Rev Kev

    ‘RM writes: “Ice fog last night at 8 above this morning.” We have seen this tree before, but this is lovely shot. I often return to the same site over and over again.’

    That is a great shot that. In some ways that tree resembles a giant snowflake.

      1. britzklieg

        I should have credited Hal David too, who passed in 2012. Lyricists are too often assumed to be the lesser partner in songwriting.

        There’s a story about Yip Harburg, lyricist for composer Harold Arlen (“The Wizard of Oz” and many other of their extant hits)… actually it’s a story about his wife. It’s reported that she and Arlen’s wife were together at some event when someone asked the latter “How does it feel to be married to the writer of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” when Harburg’s wife (Edelaine Roden) spoke up and said: “Excuse me, and with all due respect, but Harold wrote laaa laaa la la-la la la (singing the melody), my husband Yip wrote “Somewhere over the rainbow.”


  27. Wukchumni

    “The Big MOOP at Burning Man” [New York Magazine]. MOOP = “Matter Out of Place.” Interesting description of Burning Man:
    There’s always the inference of private jets bringing in Burners and other Richie Rich balderdash with a smidgen of truth and the fact is 99+% come by vehicle, but they miss the important stuff, such as there is NO trash to be found anywhere, nor any trash cans-you have to be responsible for keeping the playa tidy and taking the trash home to dispose of there, and more importantly the vibe-which is amazingly good-never any arguments or heated language heard in a city of around 80,000, nor has there ever been a gun used in anger in close to 40 years @ Burning Man.

  28. The Rev Kev

    ‘“Ex-Twitter executives now say they forget key details of censoring Post’s Hunter Biden laptop scoop” [New York Post]. • There’s email, ffs. Are the Republicans going to butcher this?’

    I don’t see why not. It would be par for the course.

  29. griffen

    Given some of the prior links earlier in the week in WC, regarding to music and truly incredible musicians. IE, like the intro for Sweet Jane and particularly guitarist virtuoso(s) performances. I have a lingering question to raise.

    Here is my inquiry. What the heck is the Grammy’s sole purpose to award a horrible song for the winning pop duo song? I mean the tune is just horrible. Do the Grammy awards celebrate “musicians” or instead are the runners of these supposed awards choosing to celebrate some new flavor of the year when it comes to a separate agenda. Apologies are in order I guess to Sam Smith, but that “Unholy” song is terrible. I don’t have lofty standards either, I listen to plenty of Poison, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard since my teen years.

  30. kareninca

    Every day I go to reddit/covidpositive to see some subset of what is up. I see a lot of people saying that they are getting covid, at long last, for the first time, despite continued caution.

    I’m not sure how those of us who are cautious can up our game, but perhaps we need to.

  31. BillC

    Re. Government-Run Direct [tax] Filing System

    This is not rocket science.

    We reside in Italy (not known for the world’s best public administration) since 2010 and have always filed our Italian taxes using no-cost, state-supplied, multi-platform (Java) tax-form software, on-line filing (now required of virtually all taxpayers who need to file a return), and direct bank-draft payment. The only thing the IRS needs to study is to pick the best such system in the world and imitate it.

    You can’t even say that US tax regulations are too Byzantine. After 12 years’ study, I’m pretty sure Italy has the US at least matched, if not beaten, in this department, too.

    Unfortunately, as US citizens, we also need to buy Turbo-Tax to complete and file a US return, which after foreign tax credits yields a tax due of $0.00. Too bad it takes me about a week’s work with spreadsheets to complete the US return, even using Turbo-Tax.

  32. Kurtismayfirld

    Re: Sam, are you there?

    My god these “journalists” are just concerned with setting up their next book or movie deal. The narrative of SBF as a “Kid” when he obviously set up all of this fraudulent disaster from the beginning is embarrassing. He is a smart, devious man and the journalist is just continuing this whiz kid narrative.

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