2:00PM Water Cooler 4/13/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Towhee, 31 May 1955, Point Pelee; West Side, Ontario, Canada. “Song.” Note the date (!).

* * *


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


“Don’t Forget the Field” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Trump is taking up all the oxygen anyway. No candidate can break through that noise. Instead, now’s the time for Haley, Scott and others to take trips to the early states without being under the white-hot glare of 200 million TV cameras. Test out the stump speech. Get one-on-one time with the power players in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Build some buzz with grassroots leaders and influencers. Meanwhile, let DeSantis take all the incoming heat from the national media and Trump’s social media account. Let Trump rail against the Manhattan District Attorney. The more damaged DeSantis and Trump look, the more likely that donors and voters will be looking for a fresh and unblemished alternative. That’s the theory at least. And this is how then-Sen. John Edwards went from asterisk to 2004 contender. While early frontrunners Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt engaged in a knock-down, drag-out battle at the Iowa caucuses that year, Edwards was able to run above the fray, as a young, optimistic and approachable alternative…. As such, it makes zero sense for these lower-tier candidates to start a fight with Trump at this point. With the exception of Pence, the rest of these candidates are relatively unknown. They need to tell their story. They need to build a narrative. They can’t afford to be known as the candidate who was first to punch Trump….

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.

* * *

CA: “Could California decide control of Congress? A Democratic super PAC plans to spend $35 million in the state” [Los Angeles Times]. “Democrats consider California pivotal to the party’s efforts to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2024, with a super PAC tied to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledging Tuesday to spend $35 million on competitive congressional races in the state. nThat’s roughly triple what the group spent in the 2022 midterm campaigns in California, when Democrats underperformed in heavily blue states like California while fending off an expected Republican red wave in congressional races across the nation.”

CA: “Democrats Will Seek A ‘Temporary’ Replacement For Feinstein In Senate Judiciary Committee” [Forbes]. “Senate Democrats will seek a temporary replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the Senate Judiciary Committee, following a request made by the 89-year-old lawmaker whose absence from the Senate while she recovers from a bout of shingles has led to calls for her resignation from members of her own party. Acknowledging her return to Washington has been delayed due to her illness, Feinstein said Wednesday she has asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to ‘allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve’ in the Judiciary Committee until she’s able to return. The California lawmaker said she plans to return as soon as her medical team tells her ‘it’s safe for me to travel,’ and in the meantime, she will continue to work from her home in San Francisco. Earlier on Wednesday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) became the first major Democrat to publicly urge Feinstein to resign, owing to her poor health. In a tweet, Khanna said: ‘It’s time for [Sen. Feinstein] to resign. We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.'” • Not the only thing that does that…

Our Famously Free Press

Good question on the “OG” story:

“Who or What Is ‘Moon of Alabama’? And Why Is He Trying to Lynch Evan Gershkovich?” [Going Deep with Russ Baker]. • The ignorance.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Dramatic realignment swings working-class districts toward GOP” [Axios]. “Nine of the top 10 wealthiest congressional districts are represented by Democrats, while Republicans now represent most of the poorer half of the country, according to median income data provided by Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s (D-Ohio) office. The last several decades have ushered in a dramatic political realignment, as the GOP has broadened its appeal to a more diverse working class and Democrats have become the party of wealthier, more-educated voters. ‘Republicans were the party of the country club, and they’re increasingly the party of country,’ lobbyist and political analyst Bruce Mehlman told Axios. ‘We have seen an inversion of Democrat and Republican shares of the highest- and lowest-income districts — and the highest and lowest college degree-holding districts,’ Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman told Axios. 64% of congressional districts with median incomes below the national median are now represented by Republicans — a shift in historical party demographics, the data shows.” • Handy chart:

“The “Powell Memo” and the Supreme Court: A counteroffensive against the many” [Liberation School]. “In hindsight, the private memorandum Lewis F. Powell Jr. sent to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on August 23, 1971—known as the ‘Powell Memo’—in many ways represents the inaugural moment in this counteroffensive. Titled, ‘Attack on American Free Enterprise System,’ the Memo clearly expressed the sharpness of the class struggle at that time and encapsulated the capitalist class’ fear that they were losing the battles of ideas and the world. It undoubtedly laid the groundwork for some key components of U.S. imperialism’s new offensive against the global revolutionary upsurge that characterized the immediate post-World War II environment, an offensive that is still with us today. Understanding the background, context, and content of the Memo helps us get a sense of the right-wing counteroffensive against domestic people’s movements. Powell eventually entered the Supreme Court and helped usher in a wave of reactionary rulings against the people and for corporate profits. Thus, while the exact impacts of the Memo are hard to ascertain, they eventually made their way into the law books, attacking affirmative action and establishing a theory of corporate speech and ‘personhood.’ More immediately, after the Memo’s circulation, the Chamber of Commerce ‘expanded its base from around 60,000 firms in 1972 to over a quarter of a million ten years later,’ spending almost $1 billion annually to promote their interests.” • A billion was real money back then. Yves has a chapter on the Powell Memo in Econned.

“Opinion: It’s Unloving to Quickly Restore Fallen Pastors” [The Roys Report]. “Reflecting on fallen Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz, I wrote: ‘As for Carl and Laura Lentz, I’m not a betting woman, and I can’t speak to their personal lives or transformation off the screen and the stage. But I’ve seen enough to wager that Carl will announce a return to church ministry within six months, and that he and/or Laura will announce a book detailing their experience within a year.’ Then, on March 28, 2023 — six months to the day — Religion News Service reported that Lentz would be joining the staff of Transformation, a nondenominational megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, led by pastor Michael Todd. Maybe I need to spend a weekend in Atlantic City. Gambling jokes aside (I have been to Las Vegas once, with my parents; we spent a lot of time birdwatching in the desert), it brings me no joy to see disgraced pastors return to church ministry, when church ministry was the context that likely spurred their downfall in the first place… Redemption is not the same as restoration to church leadership. Personal transformation is different from public responsibility. And it’s not loving to quickly bring a fellow Christian back to the spotlight, when it’s the spotlight that quickened their fall from grace in the first place.” • I love that throwaway line about birdwatching in Vegas.


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

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

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

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

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Covid Is Airborne


Plot twist:


“High risk of autoimmune diseases after COVID-19” [Nature]. “…. SARS-CoV-2 infection leads to dysregulated immune responses…. Two studies that use large cohorts now highlight that SARS-CoV-2 infection is linked to a substantially increased risk of developing a diverse spectrum of new-onset autoimmune diseases… Chang et al. used the TriNetX network, which maintains the largest global COVID-19 dataset, and identified a study population of over 5.9 million adults from 48 global health care organizations…. The incidence of autoimmune conditions at 6 months follow-up was significantly higher in the COVID-19 cohort than in the non-COVID-19 group…. A similar study by Tesch et. al.3, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, evaluated a cohort of 640,701 vaccination-naive individuals with PCR-confirmed COVID-19 during 2020 for the risk of autoimmune conditions. The researchers identified a 42.6% higher likelihood of acquiring an autoimmune condition 3–15 months after infection compared with a non-COVID-19 cohort of 1,560,357 individuals matched for age, sex and whether they had a preexisting autoimmune disease.” • I don’t think you have to buy into everything Leonardi says, including his precise mechanism, to buy into immune dysregulation generally — which I do — but there’s no question Leonardi made an early and and courageous call.

“Enhanced inhibition of MHC-I expression by SARS-CoV-2 Omicron subvariants” [PNAS]. “Numerous pathogenic viruses have developed strategies to evade host CD8+ T cell-mediated clearance. Here, we demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 encodes multiple viral factors that can modulate major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) expression in the host cells. We found that MHC-I upregulation was strongly suppressed during SARS-CoV-2, but not influenza virus infection, in vivo. Notably, the Omicron subvariants showed an enhanced ability to suppress MHC-I compared to the original strain and the earlier SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs). We identified a mutation in the E protein shared by the Omicron subvariants that further suppressed MHC-I expression. Our results point to the inherently strong ability of SARS-CoV-2 to hinder MHC-I expression and demonstrated that Omicron subvariants have evolved an even more optimized capacity to evade CD8 T cell recognition.”

“Diabetes risk rises after COVID, massive study finds” [Nature]. Sadly, paywalled. “Even mild SARS-CoV-2 infections can amplify a person’s chance of developing diabetes, especially for those already susceptible to the disease.”

“Physicians agree long COVID is a problem, but they may not be ready to spot it and help” [Medical Economics]. “Half of doctors [in a Morning Consult poll] said long COVID is somewhat of a problem, while 28% called it a significant problem in the United States. Just 2% said it was not a problem at all – the same amount as those said they didn’t know or had no opinion, according to the December 2022 findings published last month. ‘Despite attempts by a small number of physicians to downplay the ongoing threat of COVID-19, these findings show that nearly all physicians recognize the threat of Long COVID, with only 2% saying it’s not a problem at all,’ de Beaumont Foundation President and CEO Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, [who commissioned the poll,] said in a statement. ‘And physicians and other Americans agree that we need more funding for Long COVID research.’ That doesn’t necessarily mean the physicians are ready to aid patients. In the results, 7% of physicians are ‘very confident’ diagnosing long COVID and just 4% said they are ‘very confident’ treating it.”


“How AIDS Activists Used ‘Die-Ins’ to Demand Attention to the Growing Epidemic” [History]. From 2021, still germane. “Founded in 1987, ACT UP ultimately organized thousands of protests, with die-ins becoming a signature tactic. And while AIDS activists weren’t the first to simulate death to call attention to lethal threats, the action became a powerful tool to show that, because the epidemic was being stigmatized and ignored, bodies were piling up. In ACT UP’s case, ‘they forced social and cultural institutions to take responsibility for the AIDS deaths by having to physically move the protesters’ bodies,’ says Matt Brim, professor of queer studies at City University of New York.” • Die-ins at hospitals that abandoned masking would work for me.

“The Extra Deaths” [Open Mind]. A thoughtful piece. The final three paragraphs:

Part of the problem may be a crisis in public health policy and thinking itself. “Our existing public health leaders are primarily clinical thinkers, lab scientists, medical doctors,” points out Eric Reinhart, an anthropologist of law and public health and a physician at Northwestern University. “They don’t look at society as a whole or tend to examine the structurally determined factors—that is, the policy choices—that render us vulnerable to disease.” That may be why CDC Director Rochelle Walensky guided America to the “you do you” phase of the pandemic, in which those at higher risk were advised to have a private conversation with their doctor [as if] on how to manage their lives.

Reinhart says thinking like a clinician inevitably undermines a collective response that should be focused on policy shifts to facilitate behavioral changes rather than individual behavior and choices made in isolation. In fact, we have been in a public health crisis for decades, he says. “Tens of thousands die every year because they can’t afford access to health care. Is that a crisis? We have a massive population that’s unhoused. Is that a crisis? We have a fatal overdose epidemic that is 20 times the global average. Isn’t that an emergency and a crisis?”

The mismanagement of public health messaging around the Covid-19 crisis has left us with lasting damage and a profound loss of trust in those whom we normally trust to guide us. Many now associate the pandemic with blunt-tool mandates that seemed to align public health with loss of freedom. There is a new wave of anti-vaccine sentiment. Those who are trying to look at our “excess excess” mortality straight on are at odds with those who want the entire nation to “make peace” with the virus right now. Individuals suffering from long Covid and ruined lives feel left behind, or ashamed, as do those who are immune-compromised. Masks—even when necessary for those at high risk—have been compared to diapers, and Walensky herself has called them a “scarlet letter.” No wonder #DiedSuddenly is a popular hashtag. Something deeper is dying and we know it.

“The invisibility of Long Covid has an even longer history” [Varsity]. “It turns out that for centuries, patients have survived epidemics only to have their lives changed by the seemingly endless nature of their symptoms. In the late 1800s, doctors noted ‘altered cognition‘ (what we might now call ‘brain fog’, a common symptom of Long Covid) in survivors of the 1889 and 1892 Russian flu pandemics. Similarly, smallpox and polio are now known to cause long-lasting conditions in the months, years, and decades following initial infection. Recently, the scale of post-polio syndrome has become clear – thirty years after infection, up to 85% of survivors, including those who had a relatively mild original case, may develop muscle weakness and pain. Long Covid is far from the first post-viral condition to emerge en masse in the wake of a pandemic. The marks of epidemic-triggered post-viral conditions can be seen throughout history; but these patients are often forgotten as soon as the acute phase is over. Even the 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic, to which COVID-19 is most often compared in the media, provoked post-viral conditions in survivors. Historian Laura Spinney describes the scale of the issue as significantly impacting economies, just as Long Covid has begun to do today: in Tanzania, ‘Long Flu’ triggered “the worst famine in a century” as fatigue prevented workers from planting the fields. The ‘Spanish Flu’ infected one in three people on Earth, and left up to 100 million dead – and yet was largely written out of collective memory, along with those who suffered from ‘Long Flu’.”

“How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America” [Smithsonian]. From 2017, still germane: “What proved even more deadly was the government policy toward the truth. When the United States entered the war, Woodrow Wilson demanded that ‘the spirit of ruthless brutality…enter into the very fibre of national life.’ So he created the Committee on Public Information, which was inspired by an adviser who wrote, ‘Truth and falsehood are arbitrary terms….The force of an idea lies in its inspirational value. It matters very little if it is true or false.’ At Wilson’s urging, Congress passed the Sedition Act, making it punishable with 20 years in prison to ‘utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United State…or to urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of production in this country of any thing or things…necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war.’ Government posters and advertisements urged people to report to the Justice Department anyone ‘who spreads pessimistic stories…cries for peace, or belittles our effort to win the war. Against this background, while influenza bled into American life, public health officials, determined to keep morale up, began to lie….. Across the country, public officials were lying. U.S. Surgeon General Rupert Blue said, ‘There is no cause for alarm if precautions are observed.’ New York City’s public health director declared ‘other bronchial diseases and not the so-called Spanish influenza…[caused] the illness of the majority of persons who were reported ill with influenza.’ The Los Angeles public health chief said, ‘If ordinary precautions are observed there is no cause for alarm.'” • Woodrow Wilson was a bad man and a bad President, albeit a “Progressive.”

Elite Malfeasance

“Three Years Later, Covid-19 Is Still a Health Threat. Journalism Needs to Reflect That” [Nieman Reports]. “The New York Times is not alone. Outlets like The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and NPR, to name just a few, have amplified voices and arguments that helped create a narrative that not only pathologizes those who remain cautious about the disease, but also fails to adequately convey the risks associated with Covid such that many people are unwittingly taking on potentially lifelong risks. In the process, we’ve failed at our field’s core tenets — to hold power to account and to follow the evidence. Our failures here could last a generation. As reporters, it’s our responsibility to accurately represent the needs of diverse perspectives and avoid an ableist bias that diminishes the real and lasting health concerns not only of those who are keenly at risk but those who are cautious about repeatedly catching a virus that scientists are still grappling to understand…. “People were testing regularly at their workplaces, in schools and complying with that,” Eiryn Griest Schwartzman, executive director of COVID Safe Campus, a coalition of academics and advocates pushing for improved mitigation efforts and disability inclusion in higher education, told me. “And then suddenly, the narrative shifted where that became something that’s ‘unfavorable’ even though polls still show that masking and other precautions like that are still popular and understood in shared public spaces, like transit and healthcare. There’s still public support, but it’s not being reported on in that way. More often it’s being reported on as something that support is fading, or unfeasible or not politically viable when it absolutely is. But those narratives are self-perpetuating, and they feed into policy.'” • More social conformity? Driven by the Hague-worthy pundits listed here (for starters)?

Happy 75th birthday World Health Organization BMJ. Still up:

As I keep saying, the deadliest sources of “disinformation” have been trusted, authoritative NGOs or State entities, like WHO and CDC.

* * *

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

Lambert here: Only one update (deaths) and that one is bad data. Yikes.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from April 10:

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.

• Surging in Asia?

The account doesn’t put all his charts in one thread, for some reason, but he has several more besides India:

Something to watch.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from April 8:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Anyhow, I added a grey “Fauci line” just to show that Covid wasn’t “over” when they started saying it was, and it’s not over now. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


*** STILL *** NOT UPDATED From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published April 11:

-1.8%. Below the low point of the previous valley.

Lambert here: Walgreens always updates. If they’re shutting it down, I’ll be disappointed…


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,157,462 – 1,157,194 = 268 (268 * 365 = 97,820 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).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published April 2:

Lambert here: Big jump from the last reading in the “Central Estimate.”

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. Looks like a data issue, to me. I”m not sure how often this updates, and if it doesn’t, I’ll remove it. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it.

• “COVID-19 a leading cause of death in children and young people in the US” [Imperial College London]. “Analysis of US health data highlights COVID-19 was a leading cause of death in children and young people, ranking 8th overall. COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for more than 940,000 people in the US, including over 1,300 deaths among children and young people aged 0–19 years. These are the findings of a new study, led by researchers at the University of Oxford, and including researchers from the Department of Mathematics and MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, which published in the journal JAMA Network Open.” •

Stats Watch

“United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 11 thousand to 239 thousand in the week ending April 8th, overshooting market expectations of 232 thousand. It was the first increase in unemployment claims in three weeks, in line with a batch of data for March that pointed to the softening of the US labor market to strengthen current bets that the Federal Reserve could cut rates multiple times this year.”

* * *

Finance: “More Junk-Rated Companies Are Facing Credit Downgrades and Defaults” [Wall Street Journal]. “While highly rated companies are proving largely resilient during the postpandemic economic turbulence, businesses with lower credit ratings and floating-rate debt are increasingly struggling with steep increases to debt-servicing costs and a possible recession as the Federal Reserve continues interest-rate hikes. What’s more, still-steep inflation and softer demand are also expected to erode some companies’ profit margins, the ratings firms said. The higher borrowing costs for risky credit are resulting in more rating downgrades and an acceleration of defaults. Default rates for low-rated U.S. companies will likely hit 5.4% in February 2024, up from 2.5% in February 2023 and higher than the long-term average of 4.7%, ratings firm Moody’s Investors Service said in a report last month. A recession as well as an increase in unemployment and wider credit spreads, or the difference in corporate bonds compared with that of safe Treasurys, could cause defaults to rise further, Moody’s said. ‘What triggers a default is becoming more relevant in 2023, because everything is kind of worsening,’ said Christina Padgett, head of the leveraged finance practice at Moody’s.”

Banking: “Deposit Crisis Sets Up a Tough First Quarter for All but the Biggest Banks” [Wall Street Journal]. “A deposit run that felled Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank has hurt small banks much more than big ones, draining low-cost funding that has fueled their profitability in recent years.” • Hurt small banks more than big ones? Huh. Imagine that.

Banking: “J.P. Morgan flagged large Epstein withdrawals before his 2008 conviction, lawsuit alleges” [MarketWatch]. “J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. was reportedly aware that the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein was paying underage girls to be brought to his home, years before he was convicted in 2008, according to a lawsuit filing released on Wednesday…. The new filing alleged that the J.P. Morgan Rapid Response Team had internally raised the alarm in 2006 that Epstein was ‘routinely’ making withdrawals, from $40,000 to $80,000 several times per month, totaling over $750,000 per year. Banks must file suspicious activity reports on large transactions. The lawsuit alleges that the bank failed to do so. The filing says that senior executive and head of asset and wealth management Mary Erdoes admitted in a deposition that the bank was ‘aware by 2006 that Epstein was accused of paying cash to have underage girls and young women brought to his home.’…. The filing also said Epstein’s interest in young girls was so notorious at the bank that senior executives would joke about it.” • These are not nice people, even if they do smile a lot.

Tech: “This startup wants to train art-generating AI strictly on licensed images” [TechCrunch]. • So this is a new thing? That means all previously strip-mined Generative AI datasets were premised on the theft of intellectual property. Nice! Of course, this is Silicon Valley, so we expect nothing less. More to the point, some appreciable portion of all the market value of current AI firms should be clawed back ASAP, whether by lawsuits or confiscatory taxation.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 62 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 13 at 1:15 PM ET.


“The stunning reach of America’s gun violence epidemic” [Politico]. “Almost everyone surveyed — 84 percent — reported taking some kind of precaution to protect themselves and their families. That ranges from buying a gun for self defense to practicing shooting to avoiding crowded places — like music festivals or clubs — avoiding public transport, changing (or at least thinking about changing) what school their kids go to, or avoiding religious services, celebrations, or cultural events.” That is, Covid is not the only reason Americans are practicing social distancing. And: “Fully 44 percent of parents with kids under age 18 said there’s a gun in their house — and a third of that group said the guns were stored loaded, or stored in an unlocked location. Close to two-thirds — 61 percent — said the guns are stored together with ammunition.” • No reason a death cult can’t hide in plain sight, normalized.

Our Famously Free Press

“MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan Gets Basic Facts Wrong on DHS Content Moderation Partnership” [Lee Fang]. MSNBC pundit Mehdi Hasan, in a series of tweets over the last five days, has repeatedly claimed that Matt Taibbi “deliberately & under oath misrepresented” the facts when he testified to Congress last month. Hasan linked to a video of Taibbi’s testimony, in which the Racket News journalist noted that ‘Twitter executives did not distinguish between [the Department of Homeland Security] or [the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] and this group [the Election Integrity Partnership]’ and that emails show and EIP worked in concert with CISA to flag content for moderation. Hasan claimed this is a lie, that Taibbi conflated a private nonprofit with a government agency during his testimony, and that EIP only worked with the Center for Internet Security, or CIS, a private sector organization with a similar acronym, not CISA. It’s a serious charge and federal crime to make false statements to Congress, one punishable with prison time.” I’m getting a little tired of liberal Democrats trying to throw their political opponents in jail. More: “[T]he record shows that CISA, the government agency, was involved in the very formation of EIP and was one of the most important government partners to the group in its bid to influence content moderation decisions at firms such as Facebook and Twitter. EIP’s own leaders have said as much, and there is endless documentation – from publicly available websites, to discovery from litigation, and from the ‘Twitter Files’ – that all confirm this relationship and CISA’s role in assisting EIP. In other words, Hasan is wrong and presents a deeply distorted view of the mechanics of this process. Taibbi’s testimony, especially the video excerpted by Hasan, is accurate.” • MSNBC can sure pick ’em. I wonder if anybody ever found out who hacked the copy of Reid’s blog in the Wayback Machine, the one where she noted (this is one of the milder remarks) Harriet Miers’ “lesbian haircut”? (Yes, it was beyond absurd for Bush to nominate Miers, but Reid was attack-dogging on that?)

Zeitgeist Watch

“A woman with tuberculosis took a bus to a casino while an officer with a warrant for her arrest let her go” [NBC]. “A Washington state woman who has been diagnosed with tuberculosis and refused numerous orders to isolate was spotted boarding a bus to a casino by an officer who had been tailing her and had a warrant for her arrest, according to a court filing obtained Wednesday. Instead of arresting the woman, identified only as V.N. in documents filed in Pierce County Superior Court, the officer let her go and a local judge found her in contempt…. It isn’t clear which casino V.N. went to or why the officer, who wasn’t identified in the filing, didn’t take her into custody.” • “Because freedom” would be my guess.

Class Warfare

“Make the Golf Course a Public Sex Forest!” (excerpt) [The New Inquiry]. The intro should be cut by 80%, and the excerpt greatly expanded. From the intro: “The editors and contributors of Make the Golf Course a Public Sex Forest, excerpted below, understand the centrality of erotics to the creation of a better tomorrow; and they know where to start.” I’m not so sure about that. Couldn’t gun ownership, at least in its more outré manifestations, come under the heading of erotics? From the excerpt: “I hate golf. The word sounds like a fist.” • Also, beavers.

News of the Wired

But how do you amend it:

* * *

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 TW:

TW: “I shared one of these late last year and people liked it. Here’s another from a different park and forest and with snow. This time it’s Cat Rock Park in Weston, MA.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. fresno dan

    “Dramatic realignment swings working-class districts toward GOP” [Axios]. “Nine of the top 10 wealthiest congressional districts are represented by Democrats, while Republicans now represent most of the poorer half of the country, according to median income data provided by Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s (D-Ohio) office. The last several decades have ushered in a dramatic political realignment, as the GOP has broadened its appeal to a more diverse working class and Democrats have become the party of wealthier, more-educated voters.
    Of course, the story advanced by the MSM is that the poorer don’t know all the dems have done for them, while in fact the poorer know all the dems have done to them….

      1. Nikkikat

        It does seem a little arraigned doesn’t it. CNN and MSNBC going nuts over his guns and the fact there was racist anti Jew comments. These are the things that drive the anchors into absolute shivers of excitement. They were talking more about that than the crime he is alleged to have committed by posting these docs online.

            1. Daryl

              Someone should ask them why the dragnet surveillance over essentially all communications didn’t include a chatroom.

      2. lambert strether

        He’s wearing those red pants that make him really stand out amongst the camo-clad goons when photographed from the air. Not that I’m foily.

  2. Raymond Sim

    Regarding the Iwasaki lab’s findings on SARS-2 now commencing to evolve towards enhanced evasion of T- cell mediated immune response, I’d be very grateful for Brain Trust input as to how much of a watershed moment this may be.

    Am I correct to infer that this could lead to the loss of the vaccines’ protective effect against severe disease?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Like the climate scientist said as we head over the 1.5 degree C mark, “We are living in an experiment.” With such a high number of people harboring the disease at all times and over time, we are living in another experiment: let’s see just how many variants we can create and what kinds of effects they might have on us. Whee!

      But whatever we do, don’t adapt. Strive for “normal” at all costs. The insanity isn’t only at the top. And repeated bouts with Covid aren’t making things better.

  3. Carolinian

    That Baker piece

    It is true historically that on occasion reporters have been used for intelligence purposes — and during the Cold War, editors admitted that they perceived themselves as “on the same team” as the US government — but while such co-optation was at one time common, it is much rarer these days.

    LOL. They don’t call them Pravda and Izvestia for nothin.

    And of course those of us who don’t live under an MSM turnip patch know that the author of MOA lives in Germany and has military knowledge from having served in their army. Of course he may have made this cover story up decades ago on the theory that some day he’d have to boost Putin or it could be that Baker is a maroon who presumes to comment on the web while knowing little about it and sniffing snobbishly about how the whole thing must be in Alabama.

    1. John Zelnicker

      I read two paragraphs of the Baker piece and closed the tab. It was just too ridiculous.

      He actually thinks the blog comes from Alabama??

      What an idiot, to be kind.

    2. Donald

      You could tell what sort of quality argument to expect when he lumped Taibbi in with Bannon.

      I don’t even like Moon of Alabama that much, and don’t think the arrested reporter was a spy, but I read MoA because some of what he says is interesting and you have to be an idiot to trust the mainstream narrative on any foreign policy issue. Baker thinks the press is skeptical of the government. I read the NYT daily— most of the time it’s pro- US propaganda.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      not to niggle overmuch, but Maroons are pretty much what many more of us should be aiming for in our counter-collapse “preps”

      …and yes:
      this baker person is breathless in their stupid vapidity.
      a low point for that paper, fer sure.

      1. JM

        Thank you for that! I didn’t know that was an actual reference, I always thought it was just a silly bugs bunny joke playing on a mispronunciation.

    4. magpie

      Russ Baker’s approach has definitely changed over the past decade. I can’t bring myself to read his MoA piece, and I used to read all his stuff.

    5. notabanker

      The very first comment nails it.
      7 hr ago

      Try to imagine a Russian reporter showing up outside of General Dynamics factory and asking lots of questions about weapons production, shifts, delivery, and more, and then you expect the USA security organizations (governmental and private) and the major press to think this is normal. Yeah, right.

    6. chris

      I’m waiting to hear how we must imprison all of these “so-called” journalists to stop them from speaking out against the regime, er, government and it’s rightfully elected ruling class. I can imagine Mr. Kirby giving a presser about normal citizens not needing to read anything from sites like MoA, most especially because the comments are full of un-American ideas and horrible racist things. We must jail these thought criminals and fascists for the sake of our democracy! Also, we noticed you haven’t sent us your monthly tithe yet. You better do it of you’ll get to provide comments to the fascists in jail, in person…

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      i agree with the sentiment behind this.
      freedom means free, or it dont…within the fences of having to share the world(but not the golf course, necessarily) with others who believe differently.
      i mean, there are still bathhouses…(i am thorough in my lay anthropology)
      i dont see the problem.

  4. wuzzy

    “I love that throwaway line about birdwatching in Vegas.”

    They were watching pigeons ;)

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      That sort of line drives me nuts, because I find it really distracting from the key point they’re trying to make. I don’t really care what the reporter did in Vegas — they have a limited amount of my time, and I’d like them to strongly convince me of their position, not share their vacation plans.

      Unless the pastor was also abusing birds (in which case it should be presented as evidence, not a throwaway).

  5. Synoia

    Why do the “wars” for example Myanmar’s military government continue to be able to get anew ammunition and parts for their military equipment?

    The same question applies for The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group continues to attack villages in the Benin region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    1. ambrit

      It’s ‘Tradition.’ Remember Zaharoff who sold guns to both sides of WW-1. The Purveyors of Death are equal opportunity.
      One could characterize Munitions Sales as one of the original Globalist enterprises.

  6. Screwball

    Multiple Twitter accounts, including the NYT, are reporting “OG” has been arrested.

    1. petal

      FBI make arrest in Massachusetts after suspected leaker of top secret Pentagon files identified online

      Snip: “FBI investigators have arrested Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old suspected of being behind the biggest US intelligence leak in nearly a decade.

      Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed that the National Guardsman had been arrested in North Dighton, Massachusetts ‘without incident’.

      He said Teixeira will appear in a local court as part of the investigation into ‘alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmissions of classified national defense information.’

      He was a member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard and the leader of an online chat group where top secret Pentagon documents were published.

      It is the most embarrassing security breach for any US administration since WikiLeaks obtained more than 700,000 classified documents and diplomatic cables in 2013.

      His identity was first revealed by the New York Times after a scandal-hit week for US President Joe Biden as the secret dossiers circulated online.
      The inside of Teixeira’s childhood home in Bristol, Massachusetts, matched photos of the sensitive files on US intelligence and the Ukraine war which have been shared on forums since the end of last year, according to the Times.

      The FBI now wants to question Teixeira, whose mother Dawn confirmed to the Times that he is an active member working out of a base in Cape Cod and has been taking more night shifts.

      A spokesman for the US Justice Department declined to comment when contacted by DailyMail.com.”

      1. Glen

        Wow, that was amazingly quick, but I still wonder why he did it. If he had legitimate access to the material, he must have gone through a security background check to be given access, and those are not trivial. Last I knew an FBI background check was very expensive (~$90K), and took over nine months (and this information is VERY DATED, I’m sure it’s more expensive and longer now).

        And I’m just taking a stab at it here, but do you think OG stands for “Old Guard”?

        1. Daryl

          Well, it was quick after the media attention, but seems he’d been leaking these for months.

          Guessing OG stands for “original gangster.”

        2. flora

          “I still wonder why he did it.”

          You assume his guilt before there’s been a trial, discovery, and such?
          The question is, did he do it?

          see also, Assange.

        3. The Rev Kev

          A security background check? Last I heard there were over five million Americans with security clearances. That is one out of every sixty-seven people that you see on the streets.

        4. skippy

          If said person did anything wrt classified materials all I gotta say is some don’t have a clue about the ***Gamer Thingy*** …. let alone the whole growing up with Comps and Cred in the tenuous affiliations in tube space … wheeee~~~~

          On that note I would say here in OZ for sometime know that having a yank voice in game is a big target on your back – see side of a barn.

          Yep that’s right NC’ers, just a hint of some yank will set them right off, not that I have been here since 95. Usually I parry with are all yanks the same and then segway into which state in OZ do you come from e.g. NSW or the new Vic wetbacks flooding Qld with their hair products. It gets frisky lmmao …

      2. Adam1

        This doesn’t pass the smell test or it really is bad. How does an 21 year old of any standing have access to this kind of info. Seems like someone else should be in cuffs here from a breach of security perspective.

        1. Glen

          One smell test is that ALL of his close friends and family should know that he was investigated for a security clearance.

          Having been there, done that, all of my close friends and family were interviewed by the FBI. I don’t believe they had to sign any documents asking them to not talk about it either, but maybe that happens now.

          1. Angie Neer

            I was recently interviewed regarding a friend seeking a security clearance, and I didn’t have to sign or pledge anything.

          2. Angie Neer

            Re security clearances, decades ago I knew a professor of physics who was interviewed regarding a possible security clearance at a National Lab for one of his colleagues. After the interviewer asked about addictions (nope), financial problems (nope), sexual secrets (nope), etc, etc. he wrapped up with, “well, is there anything else that could compromise him in this position?” and the answer was “Yes. He’s a lousy physicist.”

      3. Henry Moon Pie

        He was identified and located not by the FBI or DOJ, but by Bellingcat. From what I heard over 15 minutes of listening about this is that most Fox anchors must own stock in Bellingcat. Martha McCallum actually advocated hiring them to replace the FBI.

        We’ll probably learn that the young guardsman was hired by the Russians who will later manage to slip Novichock into his cell and kill him.

        Democrats will vow to never allow Bellingcat to replace the FBI until the Rs agree that Crowdstrike gets its share of the action.

    2. Louis Fyne

      A couple of Twitter accounts that I generally respect on military matters have labeled “OG” as a patsy/fall guy in a wider scheme….

      A 21 y.o. w/security clearance prints these documents, lets them stew on a Discord channel….fellow gamers aloof to the gravity of said documents.

      IMO, 100% plausible in our era of US terminal imperial rot.

      Imperial rot for allegedly having>1MM people have “Top Secret” clearance;
      rot for the lazy training given to OG;
      rot for OG not taking the concept of “Top Secret” seriously;
      rot for fellow gamers not having any circumspection re. current events;
      rot for OG not knowing about Reality Winner;
      rot for DoD training not showing Reality Winner’s mugshot on day #1 of “Now that you have Top Secret clearance….” training.

      1. Louis Fyne

        and the biggest indicia of rot: leakers were done for internet dopamine versus a higher moral calling in the name of transparency or ending senseless death

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Several sites I read made the point that the “tell” that the leaks were planted by the beltway crowd is the way the NYT, WaPo and CNN all covered it so heavily.

          Remember when the Hersh story broke – they wouldn’t touch it with a 39 & 1/2 foot pole.

          If there were anything truly harmful to IS interests in there, it would have been a media blackout.

          Now watch the kid disappear. Witness protection plan?

      2. ChrisPacific

        It sounds way too stupid to be real, which is often a pretty good indicator that it is, in fact, real (because people really are that stupid).

        It does suggest some pretty serious training deficiencies. Along with Reality Winner’s mug shot, there ought to be an intensive course in Letting People Be Wrong Online, especially when correcting them would require you to breach your clearance.

        The proto-fascist gun nut does sound straight from central casting, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be true. I thought the intelligence agencies were just lying to us as usual about the imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      For this to be true, I can only imagine our security complex would have to have taken no effective actions on real security access since Manning and Snowden. Not inconceivable but a hell of a headdesk.

  7. Tim

    “7% of physicians are ‘very confident’ diagnosing long COVID and just 4% said they are ‘very confident’ treating it.”
    My mother has had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for almost 40 years, and was constantly accused by doctors of being a head case, because it wasn’t a clinical diagnosis. With a little luck some are still alive and are enjoying the Chronic fatigue symptoms of long COVID now.

    A leopard can’t change its spots.

  8. ambrit

    “Make the Golf Course a Public Sex Forest” sounds like a prospectus for a Dogging Resort.
    No wonder the (New Inquiry) site wasn’t linked. It looks like a dodgy MLM sales shop.

    1. griffen

      The jokes practically write themselves.

      That’s a hazard, take relief!
      No one likes being in the sand.
      Don’t pee into the wind, laddie.

    2. skippy

      In my knowledge they have always been so … club house at night thingy and then in the day the bums sleeping in the ruff next to the fence having fun exposing themselves to the older lady’s playing thought next to the camp site … hitchhiker might have something too say about all that …

  9. griffen

    Ah, John Edwards. I wonder if he still has a nice estate somewhere in central North Carolina; I want to say Orange County but could be Chatham County. My recollection is that he had made good bank in the legal profession before making a run to the US Senate.

    1. Jason Boxman

      He was saying the right things before Sanders ran for president. Perhaps in the end an empty suit as well, who knows, but few others under the Democrat banner were saying such things. Two Americas is more true today than ever, the rich and everyone else.

  10. fresno dan

    I think with the goading of Russia, the war propaganda that pervades America and American media, that there is really only one significant possible presidential candidate who draws attention to the issue says something about the American political system.

    I think this song couldn’t be written, couldn’t even be conceived of now a days, and couldn’t be played on the corporate media. Its as if war is good for everything…

    1. ChrisFromGA

      The zeitgeist is very 1914-ish. Especially in W Europe and the US where it ain’t our sons and daughters getting slaughtered.

      I suspect anyone near the Donbas might have a different perspective.

      1. fresno dan

        Who will be this century’s Smedley Butler to say it was all a racket?
        Eerie that it was about 100 years.

  11. JM

    Something for a future Art section (if there are Twitter bots on him I guess) could be Honore Daumier. His drawing skills were top notch, with biting social commentary in his comics.

    Which brings me to a question: I’ve been looking for a book with good quality reproductions of Daumier’s works with minimal luck. Would anyone in the comentariat happen to be aware of something that would fit the bill? Bonus points for English language, but I’m most interested in the works themselves.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      There is a catalogue raisonne of his works (1968), but it’s out of print, and rather pricey. A good library may have a copy, or get a copy via inter-library loan (always worth asking!).

      The images in the Daumier-Register are often only ok.

      1. JM

        Thank you! I’ve had good luck before with inter-library loans so I’ll try that if they don’t have a local copy.

        And I agree with Amfortas, I can’t think of many other places where I’d be able to ask and reasonably expect an answer!

  12. Matthew G. Saroff

    With Large Language Models, (Not calling it artificial intelligence because it has much to do with intelligence as I do with the dietary habits of Franklin Graham) we are missing the lessons of vape pens: If you think that they cause no harm, and let them start up without a serious examination of what this could lead to, and how to regulate it.

    Thankfully, in the case of what is sold as AI these days, there is an easy way to prevent a destructive gold rush that establishes worst practices before regulators create ways to address the ills that said scramble for market share will create.

    Just place a hold on IP protections. Say that the databases, algorithms, and the like, as well as the products produced through LLM will not be granted patent or copyright. (Or the ability to create abusive licenses as is done with software and transgenic crops)

    Research will continue in academe, publish or perish, after all, but the mad race to be the next Mark Zuckerberg (Or something even worse) will end.

    IP is a subsidy funded by the rest of society, explicitly created for the public benefit.

    When something like this rolls around, the best way to ensure that we are not creating a disaster is to say, “No subsidies until we figure out how the finance guys will try to rat-**family-blog** this.

  13. Tom Stone

    If the problem is violent Guns then exorcism is the solution and the Vatican has teams of trained exorcists waiting to roll!
    If violent crime is caused by poverty, inequality, corruption, lack of opportunity and exposure to lead and other pollutants perhaps the solution lies elsewhere.
    Just a thought.

    1. JBird4049

      Guns might be a problem, but aside from more gun laws, nothing will change as the needed changes would take away the punch bowl and end the party. Can’t have mass suffering and death actually stop, if it means stopping the booze, orgies and cocaine, or would there be meth and crack nowadays as well?

    2. flora

      What if the problem is heavily psych medicated young people? What if pharma is as much a culprit? Hmm, can’t ask those questions. Might disturb the flow of spice pharma ad revenue to MSM.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      material wellbeing has an inverse relationship to violence, i would assume.
      we should run a large experiment with that…like with a 300 million sample size.

  14. JBird4049

    >>> “Could California decide control of Congress? A Democratic super PAC plans to spend $35 million in the state”

    As a native born child of a native born California, can anyone really, truly tell me that even those wacky John Birchers and Ayn Randian libertarians that compromise what is left of the California Republican Party could do any worse than the California Democratic Party? Really?

    Where I live is one of the wealthiest areas on planet Earth and has been for decades. You can find many serious people declaiming guns, homelessness, poverty, crime, the cost of education, the lack of medical care, racism, sexism, global warming, and animal abuse, but actually doing anything about it? Unless you take the very, very qualified exception for gun control while ignoring all of the reasons for their use, not much; the wealthier and Bluer the state becomes, the worst it is for most Californians.

    I am so tired of voting for the stupid and corrupt party and its evil actions. Let us see what the crazy and corrupt party’s evils will be.

  15. Verifyfirst

    Major Michigan health systems eliminate masking policies


    Thirteen hospital systems–“The chief clinical officers from all the health systems came together on a Zoom call and… we all agreed that it was going to be time for masks to come down.”

    “The masking was something that I think was detracting from our patient experience, from our team members’ experience,” Why you can just hear them pining to see our smiles…..

    “COVID-19 has become an illness that, in most cases, will be treated like other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu,” Corewell Health said in the news release. “All health systems will continue to provide stations with free masks and hand sanitizer at entrances for patients, visitors and team members who choose to use them. Patients can also ask their care teams to wear masks.”

    So that’s ok then…..

  16. polar donkey

    Guns, Crime, Schools- Every 30 seconds in Memphis a car is broken into and it happens everywhere in the city. Sometimes it is just for general theft or to try and steal the car, especially if car is newer/nicer. But a large percentage of car break ins are to steal guns. A friend Monday had his 20 year old ford ranger get broken into at the gym. He called safelite for a side window replacement. They don’t have an opening to even see him till May 6th. This same day, I hear a radio ad on sports talk radio from the local school system. The ad is begging people to send their kids to school for the rest of school year. “Go for friends, go for food, just go”. Apparently, around 30,000 kids are out an average every day. That’s about 1/3 of students. The police caught a crew of 5 car thieves that have been stealing cars for a year. Ages 12 to 15 years old. They’ve stolen close to 50 cars. Additionally, there are robberies and kidnappings, especially at grocery and department stores. Between the crime and street racing, the city seems to be devolving into chaos. 2 weeks ago, there was a 80 mph car chase down my residential street. Cops chasing 3 men and 1 woman in a black suv who robbed a Walgreens. The suv crashed a couple blocks away and police helicopter was flying overhead for 30 minutes looking for them. That same morning at 730, a woman got kidnapped at the nearest grocery store. Less than a mile away. It feels like once people realized police/government can’t maintain in schools, traffic laws, etc, why follow the rules. Rich area, poor area, black, white, it doesn’t matter. The city is going mad.

  17. kareninca

    I have a new data point. About eight months ago I ran into an acquaintance; we were outside in the sun and we were not wearing masks. It turned out that he was one of the few people I know who has not been vaccinated; we agreed that the vaccines had not been properly tested for safety or efficacy and that they were meant to make great fortunes for pharma. He looked robust, for him. He looked much better than the vaccinated people I knew, most of whom looked as if they had aged a lot.

    I ran into him again a few days ago. I was wearing a mask since I was volunteering and spending some time inside (with very few other people, in a very well ventilated space). He asked me why I was wearing a mask and I told him that I hadn’t caught covid yet and didn’t want to. He told me that he finally did catch covid, and it was terrible, but he was now completely over it. He said that he’d had many ailments as a kid growing up in Israel, but that this was somehow very different from anything that he had ever had. He still looked unwell.

    He then went back to masks. He told me that they didn’t work, and could even be harmful. It was just the strangest thing. He had not worn a mask and had caught covid. I was wearing a mask and had not caught covid. But he was telling me I shouldn’t wear a mask. I started to tell him about Xlear and claritin (as extra preventatives), but he didn’t want to know; he said he figured that having been infected would protect him.

    This guy is (was) one of the smarter people I know. Maybe the covid has taken up residence in his brain.

    1. tevhatch

      Smart enough to know if COVID dumbed him down, then to remain competitive in life it’s better if everyone else as much as possible, and certainly in his social circles lop off some IQ points (and probably EQ points**). Many of the people I know who got COVID have become more easy anger and worse at reading others’ emotions. Even if they are out of the job market, it makes navigating to a good place in society harder.

      1. kareninca

        That would definitely occur to him.

        I, on the other hand, am the well-intended dolt who keep thinking that someone will want to know how it is that I’ve so far avoided infection (despite declining the vaccine). But no-one wants to know.

        1. ambrit

          Do be careful. I see a program of demonization aimed at the “Covid Denialism Non-compliant” people in the public recently.
          When ‘things’ start going visibly sideways concerning the Pandemic, the Elites will begin to divert attention from their anti-social actions via the demonization process.
          I am aware that this is an assignment, but a database of resources related to avoiding social stigma and demonization will be useful for one’s future self preservation.
          Don’t be a victim. Be especially vigilant and, need I say, stay safe, in all ways.

          1. some guy

            If the best defense is a good offense, perhaps the targets of future ” covid-caution demonization” should learn how to counter-demonize and out-demonize the demonizers right back.

            Truth-based epithets like ” Typhoid Mary Covid Spreader” and other such accusations might become both necessary and useful.

            Maybe even start reading William S. Burroughs to learn some highly creative language.

            ” You think I am innarested in catching your nasty old Covidementia? I am not innarested at all.”

    2. Raymond Sim

      So many people simply can’t cope. They couldn’t cope with the magnitude of the danger, and they can’t cope with the magnitude of the consequences of their failure to face it. It’s grimly daunting – that dead weight of denial is going to have to be shifted. It will be a terrible thing that can do that. Something Awful.

      1. kareninca

        That is right. Most people I talk with get one thing right, or another thing, or another, but they miss the big picture. Since they can’t cope with it. There are so many people who still think vaccines prevent infection. Or that prior infection will protect them. Or that an infection that is mild when one first catches it, will stay mild (never mind that AIDS first shows up as something like a cold).

        What really annoys me is that this is making the 1970s, which was my formative decade and which seeemed godawful at the time, now look Edenic. So I am forced to feel terrible about the Future of Young People. Not having reproduced myself, I had expected to never worry about that sort of thing, but things are so dire that now I do.

        My 80 y.o. mother and her 87 y.o. boyfriend sit around marveling at the fact that they grew up in the best of times. Well, yeah. But the 1970s? I’m supposed to feel as they do? Damn.

        I don’t want to think of That Thing that will shift people out of denial. Even I have my limits.

        1. some guy

          Maybe something to jolt the brain out of “vaccines prevent infection” where covid is concerned would be some variation on the phrase . . . ” an mRNA para-vaccinoid is not a vaccine”.

          1. kareninca

            It was hard enough to try to explain that to people before they were brain damaged. I tried pointing that out early on, but no-one “got” it then. And now they are in for a penny, in for a pound with their multiple infections; they are committed to seeing the “vaccine” as helpful as they catch this thing over and over again. If they haven’t caught it themselves (unlikely), people dear to them have, and so they don’t want to consider it for that reason.

        2. skippy

          In my military and industrial experience … cavalier or casual attitudes kill or diminish[.] Its just a question of when.

          1. kareninca

            It is hard enough to maintain diligence oneself, but it is even harder to make sure someone else stays careful. I feel so sorry for people with kids, and people who have uncooperative family members.

        3. Raymond Sim

          Right there with you. I graduated high school in ’75, and the fact that time and place now seem idyllic – my brain chokes on it. I went and gave hostages to fortune though, and they gave me more, even more loveable ones. Love hurts.

  18. ChrisFromGA

    JDAM-bomb ranch

    Sing to the tune of “Cadillac Ranch” by Bruce Springsteen

    There she sits buddy just a gleaming in the sun
    There to greet a DoD man when his day is done
    I’m gonna pack my pa, I wanna pack my Aunt
    Gonna take ‘em down to the JDAM-bomb ranch

    Navigable fins, baby, tail kit and a skirt
    Glides down just to take you straight to heaven here from earth
    Buddy when I die, throw my body in the back
    Drop me on a war zone in a JDAM-bomb attack

    JDAM’s back, JDAM attack
    Long and sleek, the earth turns black
    Open up jet engines let ‘em roar!
    We’re headed for extinction like Cretaceous dinosaurs

    Westmoreland back in ‘Nam in ‘69
    Cheney dodging scuds near the Kuwaiti borderline
    Even old Rummy with his “known unknown” dance
    All gonna meet up at the JDAM bomb ranch!

    JDAM’s back, JDAM attack
    Long and sleek, the earth turns black
    Open up jet engines let ‘em roar!
    We’re headed for extinction like Cretaceous dinosaurs

    Little girlie in the blue jeans so tight
    Riding along through the Zaporizhzna night
    Yer my last love, baby her my last chance
    Don’t let ‘em take me to the JDAM bomb ranch

    JDAM’s back, JDAM attack
    Long and sleek, the earth turns black
    Fell onto my house today
    Left a crater, big as Piscataway!

    (Sax outro)


  19. tevhatch

    HVAC industry, from capital investments to patents is heavily invested in the status quo, so COVID spreads by droplets it is. It will take a scam artist like Musk to figure out an edge with the government to overthrow it for aerosol.

  20. Amfortas the hippie

    and oh, look! a bunch of projection and mirrorless 2- minute hatemongering.

    writer is presumably near new york(Rikers, et alia—or houston, of dallas, or…) or has been there, yet yammers ominously about putins mass jail regime and the horrible conditions, within…and so on.
    hell, my cabin builder guy spent most his younger years in and out of texas prison…and ive had an earful of just how terrible our own jails are.
    (this is the part i latched on to, because of my guy telling his prison tales)

  21. Amfortas the hippie

    “There is, though, a significant difference between the concept of false consciousness developed by sections of the 19th-century progressive and Marxist movements and the contemporary framing of unawareness. The authors of the idea of false consciousness believed there was the potential for working people mystified by their illusions to acquire real or class consciousness. They even assigned them a historical role of transforming the world. Today, the unaware do not possess a historic mission. They are not simply unconscious but also ignorant, uninformed and need constant awareness raising. They do not simply lack awareness but have negative characteristics such as racism, prejudice, and authoritarian forms of behaviour.”

    never heard of this guy, but ran across it due to an alisdaire crooke article in strategic…whatever,lol…
    obviously onthe “conservative” side of things(small-c, maybe akin to kingsnorth or someone…)
    sad we dont have much of an intellectual “actual left” that cares about this sort of cultural anthropological type thing any more.
    without a bunch of hunting around, at least.

    the gist, so far, of this bit is that the PMC/Wokeratii think they’ve exited Plato’s Cave, when actually, they’ve entered a mirrored antechamber near the actual exit….and are stuck there, looking at themselves and mistaking the reflection for humanity.(see: Strange Wonder(gr:”thaumazein”)-https://www.maryjanerubenstein.com/strange-wonder/)

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      further on:
      “The project of detaching society from its past and liberating it from its influence is underwritten by a form of cultural self-flattery that serves as the psychological equivalent of ‘the end of history’.”

      whats missing is either a sense and practice of Humility…Socrates’ “I know that i dont know”…or, in that lack ,Nemesis coming along to punish Hubris.
      of all the pmc and pmc adjacent that i know, none of them ever examine their assumptions….and when pressed by me to do so, fumble around and end up mad at me,lol.
      this exercise is easier with the only nominally Goptea…again, small-c conservatives…mostly a-political, but culturally “Right-leaning”(if sometimes…or even fundamentally…(just unaware(!!))…lefties on political economy(with party support, i couldve sold Bernie out here with alacrity..i did it without them)

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        further reading, and it turns out he’s likely my kind of “liberal”:
        “The acquiescence of individuals who perceive themselves as liberals to the policing of dissenting viewpoints suggests that far from being confined to the authoritarian right, manifestations of illiberalism are evident within the ranks of self-defined liberals. In her discussion of the history of illiberalism, Helena Rosenblatt suggests that those who highlight this development are likely to be enemies of liberalism because they “claim that liberalism is itself illiberal or, at least, that it breeds illiberal sentiments and practices.” In contrast to such claims, we argue that illiberal liberalism is antithetical to the spirit and values of liberalism. This phenomenon expresses the failure to act in accordance with liberalism’s foundational values.”

        i remember arguing with my stepdad, when he was newly so, about how “taking him out behind the paintshed and shooting him” was a danger to our own Rights and Privileges….ie: even the worst child molesters deserved due process, and all the rest of the rights we are all supposed to have.
        i was able, over time, to convince Don of his error…and he ended up calling himself a “Liberal”…and watched Democracy Now, post Bush2.
        (he was even for Bernie, until Herself became the standard bearer, and glommed right on to that wagon(wth no small help from Mom, who still hasn;t forgiven me for being wholly against Hillary))

        1. digi_owl

          Voice anything like that on social media, and one will be a hammered with references to Paradox of Tolerance as a cheap gotcha.

          1. JBird4049

            Just like when Bloody Gina and her friends were relentlessly torturing people and sending to places like Gitmo with trial or even charges, or when the Patriot Act became real, and when one complained, the morally and ethically deficient, and ignorant of history, would repeatedly say that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

        2. skippy

          Classical Liberalism is just Western Christianity writ large and muddled with goal posts on shifting sands, too remain, an authoritarian force[tm] in shaping the social narrative which invariably seems anchored in the ***few chosen*** will always lead[tm] the masses to the glory hole …

          Thousands of years of this stuff …

      2. digi_owl

        Generations have by now been raised to show neither humility nor remorse, as those are the signs of a “weak” person.

        The west is effectively living in a warrior culture, put in to place in response to 9/11.

  22. some guy

    This is still up?


    Really? On WHO’s website? Still up?

    This says to me that the WHO leaders definitely want to spread covid all around the world deliberately and on purpose, in furtherance of whatever their secret agenda ( ” To Serve Man” . . . ? ) might be.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They are literally beyond redemption. By the end of 2020 you could not get away with this sort of bs and yet here we are well into 2023 and they still have this up. More and more I find myself agreeing with Putin when he said that we in the west live in an empire of lies.

  23. ChrisPacific

    Apparently a volcano has now erupted in eastern Russia and is grounding planes in US territory (Alaska).

    I’m sure the Russia apologists will claim this was all just coincidence and the work of natural geologic forces, and that Putin didn’t know a thing about it beforehand.

    1. tegnost


      of course moonraker is a documentary in the milieu of idiocracy but the others are places I would start looking for the menacing asiatic, the poutine…kind of a weird nickname if you ask me but you know mafiosos…

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Democrats Will Seek A ‘Temporary’ Replacement For Feinstein In Senate Judiciary Committee”

    I thought I heard Nancy Pelosi say that if people say that they want Feinstein to stand down, then that is misogyny that. Feinstein will always have the support of people like Pelosi and Biden because if Feinstein is forced to retire because of old age, then where does that leave Biden and Pelosi. Maybe 80 is not a bad cut-off age for public office because why the hell are they still trying to run things and make sure that younger people don’t have a chance.

    1. some guy

      If Feinstein is forced to retire because of dementia, wouldn’t that be different, at least technically, from being forced to retire due to old age?

      There have been a few cases of non-demented officeholders over 80 years old. Claude Pepper of Florida.
      Conrad Adenauer of Germany. Rare exceptions, to be sure. Still . . . .

  25. The Rev Kev

    “History suggests we may forget the pandemic sooner than we think”

    I could see this happening very easily. Consider this – nearly every government has made a total balls up of their pandemic response as has organizations like the WHO and the CDC. All of them would want the whole thing forgotten and in the past and would help in a campaign to memory-hole the whole pandemic. Certainly a majority of people have proven that they would go along with such a campaign and would prefer to forget the horrors that they had to endure – such as wearing a mask or having to stay home (shudder). And people who would insist that it has never gone away would be either silenced, never have their work published as articles or else would have people tell them ‘to stop living in the past’. No, this could very easily happen and if they could do so for the Great Flu Pandemic, then they certainly could with the present pandemic – along with all those helpful social media algos to hide the pandemic.

    1. Basil Pesto

      That attitude belies a very basic and fundamental but apparently very common misapprehension of the problem, that people think this is some one-off event like the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, or a kind of Hollywood movie that can be neatly contained within a beginning-middle-end paradigm on a timescale of their own choosing – in this case a couple of years – rather than the one that nature will choose for us.

      But what we’ve actually done is introduce a new pathogen into the human population – not a mere respiratory virus but one that causes nasty multi-system disease, with multifarious attendant consequences to human health (as Lambert’s heroic work here documents on a daily basis).

      Thus the chattering class question of whether the pandemic is over/their assertion that it is, is a semantic one that misses the forest for the trees. One response to the qn of whether the pandemic is over is to reply: which one? Because WT through Delta was the first SARS2 pandemic, and Omicron and its subvariants have been the second SARS2 pandemic, in the same way there have been several influenza pandemics (this assertion seems to break some people’s brains, which is bizarre when it seems to me to be frankly self-evident). Maybe it’ll stop at those two! Maybe Omicron will go ‘endemic’ and it’ll be decades before a new serotype. On the other hand, maybe it won’t.

  26. Onward to Dystopia

    Frankly I wonder why anyone bothers to leak info to begin with. Time after time we’ve seen that the American people do not care, will do nothing. The Afghanistan Papers, Panama Papers, Sy Hersh, Snowden, Assange, etc. Straight down the memory hole. Forgotten in a week, replaced by the latest gun massacre or China Bad™ story.

    1. digi_owl

      Apparently to win some kudos points with their peers online.

      And people do not care because they can’t see it affect them or their loved ones directly, after all it is not US conscripts dying “over there”.

      1. some guy

        People have also learned not to care because they have learned they will not be permitted to do anything about what they care about. They have been taught this by exemplary instructional assassinations ( Kennedy, X, King, Kennedy, etc. etc.) and by many other methods.

        In our own day, numbers of people cared enough to try Occupy, to try nominating Sanders, etc. and were defeated by the organized establishment. Multimillion member protests against the onrushing Iraq War 2.0 were cone-of-silenced by all the big media, so people learned protest had no effect. So people learned not to care any more.

        ” People who care ” will have to find new and different ways to begin eroding and undermining various economic supports of the Corporate Free Trade Globalonial Plantation System. “Voting” and “protesting” and “demonstrating” will help “people who care” to find eachother and take comfort in eachothers’ numbers. But then those people will have to find out what really works and do that in some sort of co-ordination with eachother.

        Spreading counter-covid information which people can act on is effective resistance against the Jackpot Design Engineers in Authority who want everyone to get covid over and over and over again. Every person who does not get a case of covid they “could have gotten” with a little more obedience to the Typhoid Mary Covid-Spreaders in Authority represents a defeat to those Typhoid Mary Covid-Spreaders right there, for example.

    2. tegnost

      yeah, imagine the uproar if we were sending assault rifles to the ukrainians…
      I mean, it’s not who we are

  27. ChrisFromGA

    So this morning I poked some fun at Manchin for doing the walk of shame back from Zelensky’s frat house in Kiev.

    KatnissEverdeen asked for a take on Manchins travel buddy, country star Brad Paisley, whose cover of “You’ll never leave Harlan alive” has apparently been a hit.

    The similarities between the Donbas and southern Appalachia in terms of landscape and the people struggling to live don’t escape me. Quite sad. We’re paying billions to wipe out the poor and vulnerable over there. Coal miners, farmers, they are same as much of Paisleys fan base.

    Big money wants them out, turned to refugees or worse so Monsanto and Cargill can continue to pillage the planet.

    Sarcasm is my usual weapon but this one deserves more thoughtful consideration.

    Many of Paisleys fans likely are deluded into supporting a war that was instigated by their own government, and kills their spiritual brethren in another part of the world.

    So there is irony and tragedy in there.

    Here goes:

    In the deep dark hills of a land war crazy
    That’s the place where I trace my blood line
    And it’s there I read on a Facebook posting
    “We must fight the bear with their lives”

    Oh their granddads dads crossed the Carpathian Mountains
    They fought the Luftwaffe across the sky
    They said “won’t you join with the Russians and fight these Germans”
    Or we’ll never leave Kiev alive

    Where the sun comes up about 10 in the morning
    And the bombs fall three times a day
    And you’ll fill your cup with whatever bitter brew you’re drinking
    And you spend your life just thinking of how to get away

    Well we’ve both got coal up in yonder mountains
    ‘til the oligarchs arrived
    Waiving hundred dollar bills
    Said we’ll pay for your minerals
    Why is us vs. them still alive?

    How I yearn for the day when we wake up from the lies
    Of the politicians and their insider trading wives
    And I bet we’d dance on their graves
    And laugh and sing a new song
    Time to send these politicians to their demise

  28. some guy

    Well ! . . . There is apparently a computer-automated Swat-calling “service” that people who want to cause a Swatting can buy and direct against a target of choice without being traced. There should be a steady upsurge of Swattings emanating from this Swatting-for-a-price ‘service’. Here is the link.


    There may come a point where tens of millions of homeowners decide they have to make their houses bulletproof and bombproof and battering-ram proof in expectation of a Swatting-for-hire directed their way.
    Unless this and every other Swatting for hire company can be terminated with extreme prejudice as well as everyone who ever used their services.

Comments are closed.