2:00PM Water Cooler 4/6/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Generous readers, 🌡️ We are at 289 donors. 289 donors / goal of 375 = 77.07%. Thank you! We are coming down the home stretch. I will put up this year’s final fundraising post shortly, but nothing prevents you from
clicking the Tip Jar at the bottom of the screen immediately!

Here are words from readers for you ponder while I walk the numbers:

MG: “Thanks for the near daily dose of sanity and levity.  Please use at least some sums for purchase of a good pillow.  I always shudder when I read “Lambert bangs head against desk” — we need you to keep that head intact despite the many incentives for you to bang it! P.S. and yes, some more servings of Bourdieu please.” I would love to do more Bourdieu. I have my head almost entirely in the news flow, and that doesn’t make our timeline any less stupid.

DB: “More and more lately, when I interact with the world, I feel as though I must have gone insane. Thank you for the daily reminders that the world is an insane place. Cheers!”

TB: “‘Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.’ – Blaise Pascal, i.e. don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

AC: “For Veronica.” I don’t know what this means, but I am happy to pass the message along.

* * *

Bird Song of the Day

“Eastern Bluebird, Amelia, Virginia, United States.” Sounds very excited about something!

* * *


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


“Trump should have taken an arraignment victory lap. Instead, he disappointed” [Charlotte Observer]. “When the indictment was revealed Tuesday afternoon, it became immediately apparent that there was little there, there. No new evidence. No new witnesses. No new charges. Just a yawn-inducing business records case. Trump had been right. Even his detractors knew it….. In many ways, Trump had won. Or at least, he could claim victory. Despite having the day start with arrest and fingerprinting, he had been proven right. Trump could now make the case, with some evidence, that this was a witch hunt and that he was the victim of the politicization of the criminal justice system. And as he jetted back to Florida, many were speculating about the fireworks that would be coming in the victory-lap national address that was promised that evening from Mar-a-Lago. The speech was a tremendous opportunity for Trump. News networks, which had long ago abandoned covering his rallies, cleared their airwaves. Here, for the first time in years, was an opportunity to speak to people who would never come to his rallies, and who likely didn’t vote for him in 2020. It was a chance to do something he has been failing at badly: building his base going into 2024. Yet with all of that hype, with all the attention, and with all the momentum on his side, the former President delivered a bland (even “low-energy”!) list of grievances peppered with bizarre references to debt-to-equity ratios on his bank loans and the disclaimer language on his financial disclosure forms. It was perhaps, his worst speech in recent memory. Stunningly, it was almost entirely scripted, with only glimpses of Trump’s signature extemporaneous fire… Despite the circumstances, Donald Trump was where he longed to be on Tuesday night: on a stage with the whole world watching. And he failed to deliver.” • Scripted? Trump? Huh???

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. files paperwork to run for president as a Democrat” [CNN]. “Environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2024 as a Democrat.” • Hat tip, Andrew Wakefield.

“Marianne Williamson Making Gains Against Joe Biden, New Poll Suggests” [Newsweek]. “After nearly a month of campaigning, a new poll by Echelon Insights shows Williamson backed by a double-digit percentage of likely Democratic primary voters. The survey, which was conducted from March 27 to 29, showed the long-shot contender with 10 percent of likely Democratic voters saying that they’d ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ back her, compared to 73 percent who supported Biden. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.8 percent.”

Republican Funhouse

“The last 48 hours revealed the GOP’s intractable 2024 dilemma” [Vox]. “In the past 48 hours, three major news events have revealed a fundamental problem for the Republican Party’s political future. First, Donald Trump was formally indicted in New York — a move by prosecutors that appears to have unified the party around him, cementing his already rising poll numbers and making it harder to imagine the GOP ever moving on…. Second, Republicans lost control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in an off-year election — a campaign where abortion was ‘the dominating issue‘… Third, the Florida Senate on Monday approved a six-week ban on abortion — a bill pushed and supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The GOP’s most plausible non-Trump candidate has now tied himself to one of its most unpopular policy positions with a proven capacity to power Democratic electoral wins.” Primary v. general… And: “Many Republican primary voters believe, very deeply, that society’s liberal elite is against them [incredible though that may seem] and Trump and that the indictment is yet another part of this vast plot.” • I think “plot” is doing a lot of work there. Is a Keynesian Beauty Contest a plot?

“Freedom Caucus and progressives lock arms — and that could be bad news for McCarthy” [Politico]. “The Donald Trump-aligned Freedom Caucus and the Progressive Caucus are openly uniting in favor of repealing two decades-old war authorizations in Iraq. That’s on top of growing agreement between the two groups’ members in favor of revamping government surveillance powers and curbing defense spending. ‘Sometimes the political spectrum is more of a circle than a line. At some point, you might have sometimes-differing motives or different ranges, but you end up [at] the same conclusion, and that’s okay,’ said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a vocal Freedom Caucus member. ‘That’s kind of how our system works.’ This alignment could create headaches for McCarthy, because he can only lose four members of his own party during any given floor vote in the closely divided House. And while the Senate has already passed its own bipartisan reversal of the Iraq war authorizations, most of the House GOP is not yet bought in on that issue, and there’s no consensus in the party about cutting Pentagon funding.” • Hmm.

“Republican lawmaker wins Wisconsin state Senate seat, creating supermajority” [CBS]. “Republican state Rep. Dan Knodl defeated a Democratic attorney to win an open Senate seat in Tuesday’s special election, creating a GOP supermajority in the chamber that could be used to impeach Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and other office holders.” • Like the new Supreme Court justice.

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: Where’s Diane?

One would expect to meet with the Senator herself, and not with her “office.”

CA: Fiesty:

IL: “The big upset in the Chicago mayor’s race, explained” [Vox]. “Vallas and Johnson are nearly perfect contrasts of Democratic candidates and their bases of support. Though Vallas was long expected to emerge from the first round of voting near the top of the pack, Johnson did not have a lot of name recognition throughout the first wave of campaigning. Johnson’s second-place finish was the culmination of a late burst of support that coincided with the slow slide in the polls of US Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, the onetime frontrunner, and the gradual consolidation of progressive support around Johnson… The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) had been working hard to convince voters of Vallas’s controversial past as the former CEO of the Chicago public school system and to boost Johnson’s credentials as a solid progressive Democrat. Though still an underdog, Johnson gained the backing of both traditional bastions of liberal support, such as the CTU and an array of SEIU-affiliated unions, and national progressive groups like Our Revolution and the Working Families Party, which have invested time in rallying supporters, door-knocking, and informing voters about their options…. Boosting Vallas had been the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union that represents the majority of Chicago’s police officers.” Importantly: “Vallas’s more hardline message on crime seemed to resonate with white voters and could have peeled away support from Johnson among Black and Latino voters. But the neighborhoods most affected by crime did not back Vallas in the first round. Tuesday’s results have likely confirmed that, despite inroads, Vallas’s crime-focused message did not work to persuade enough of those voters.” • The whole piece is worth a read. Handy map:

PA: “Sen. John Fetterman on depression, recovery, and ‘making up any lost time'” [CBS News]. • Despite the Beltway sourcing, I think this is touching:

“Hope” being “a strange feeling for me to have” is so very far from Bill Clinton’s “A Man from Hope” or Obama’s “Hope and Change” (and I think more in tune with the times, too). I hope Fetterman makes it (as a person. Who knows what his legislative record will be?)

NY: “From agitator to insider: The evolution of AOC” [Politico]. “Ocasio-Cortez is operating in a much different place now, and nothing encapsulates that repositioning more than her ascension to a top role on the Oversight Committee. Her role as vice ranking member has helped Democratic leadership bring her closer inside their tent — and allowed her to assert herself as an institutional force, while still channeling the energy she brought as a 29-year-old newcomer in 2019…. It’s no accident that Ocasio-Cortez made an institutional home on the Oversight panel: Perhaps more than any other House committee, it offers members who clearly communicate a chance to go viral and force answers from the powerful.” • Well, let’s have oversight, then. How about the CDC?

Our Famously Free Press

“Love him? Hate him? For Donald Trump, attention is attention” [Associated Press]. “In the currency of today’s attention economy, Donald Trump is the world’s richest man…. For the most part, Americans had left behind the all-Trump, all the time ethos that governed our days between 2016 and, say, mid-2021. So that Trump-flavored thrum that has prevailed since news of the indictment emerged Thursday was hardly new. Familiar, too, was the uneasy collision of exhibition with seriousness, of the mannered machinations of government with the anything-goes rhetoric of reality-TV-inflected, 21st-century populism.” • Ka-ching!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Amid polarization, minority party lawmakers face penalties” [Associated Press]. “Oklahoma Republicans removed the state’s only nonbinary legislator from House committees after the lawmaker provided refuge to a transgender rights activist. In Florida, two Democratic leaders were arrested for participating in a protest over abortion restrictions. And in Tennessee, three Democratic House members are facing expulsion for using a bullhorn in the House chamber to show support for demonstrators demanding gun control. In an increasingly polarized political atmosphere, experts say these kinds of harsh punishments for minority party members standing up for principles they believe in are becoming more common, especially when acts of civil disobedience clash with the rigid policies and procedures of legislative decorum. The modern-day division between Democrats and Republicans is at its highest level since immediately after the Civil War, said Scot Schraufnagel, a political science professor at Northern Illinois University who has studied and written about political incivility. ‘I used to teach students that it’s not as bad as it once was,’ Schraufnagel said. ‘It’s as bad or worse than it’s ever been, with the caveat that we don’t have data from pre-Civil War era.'”

“Report details ‘staggering’ church sex abuse in Maryland” [Associated Press]. “More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability, according to a long-awaited state report released Wednesday that revealed the scope of abuse spanning 80 years and accused church leaders of decades of coverups. The report paints a damning picture of the archdiocese, which is the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the country and spans much of Maryland. Some parishes, schools and congregations had more than one abuser at the same time — including St. Mark Parish in Catonsville, which had 11 abusers living and working there between 1964 and 2004. One deacon admitted to molesting over 100 children. Another priest was allowed to feign hepatitis treatment and make other excuses to avoid facing abuse allegations.” • And we wonder why trust in institutions erodes.

“How distrust harms society: Examining the common core of populist and conspiracy mentalities” [Phys.org]. “Populists and adherents of conspiracy theories have something in common: According to a new publication by Isabel Thielmann and Benjamin Hilbig, both have a high tendency for distrust…. According to the definitions used by the researchers, populists believe in a set of ideas that constructs society as divided between ‘the pure people’ and the corrupt and self-serving elites, whereas adherents of conspiracy theories tend to harbor suspicions that a group of (often powerful) actors join together in secret to achieve malevolent goals… Both groups share a worldview rooted in simplistic ‘us-versus-them’ and ‘good-versus-evil’ narratives that often directly influences their lives. They isolate themselves, reject science, believe in implausible theses, and fuel societal division—a phenomenon that became particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.” • Hmm. RussiaRussiaRussia is what. An impluable thesis?


“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). (Readers, if you leave your link in comments, I credit you by your handle. If you send it to me via email, I use your initials (in the absence of a handle. I am not putting your handle next to your contribution because I hope and expect the list will be long, and I want it to be easy for readers to scan.)

• More like this, please! Total: 1 6 11 18 20 22 26 27 28 38 39 43 47 50/50 (94% of US states).

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Masked introverts:

* * *

“Introducing: The Covid Underground” [Covid Underground]. The deck: “Welcome to The Covid Underground, a newsletter for the Covid-free movement and all of those who continue to avoid infection.” More: “True health is the ability to change. About 10-30% of the U.S. population has changed their lives in the light of the freeing revelations of 2020, and we keep changing. We are dynamically, creatively faithful to what was— briefly— plain to all: normal is a dangerous illusion.” • Worth a read.

“Covid Meetups” [COVID MEETUPS (JM)]. “A free service to find individuals, families and local businesses/services who take COVID precautions in your area.” • I played around with it some. It seems to be Facebook-driven, sadly, but you can use the Directory without logging in. I get rational hits from the U.S., but not from London, UK, FWIW.

Finding like-minded people on (sorry) Facebook:


It does seem that Hospital Infection Control in Canada is especially dominated by knuckle-draggoing mouthbreathers. IWK = IWK Health in Halifax. Here is the context:

No accommodation for the daughter. Here are all the elements of droplet dogma. In 2023!

Scientific Communication

“The perception of risk in contracting and spreading COVID-19 amongst individuals, households and vulnerable groups in England: a longitudinal qualitative study” [BMC Public Health]. In the UK. “Participants developed their own understanding of COVID-19 risk perception through personal experience and comparison with others around them, irrespective of vulnerability status. COVID-19 guidance was not complied with as intended by the government, and at times even rejected due to lack of trust. The format in which future pandemic guidance is conveyed must be carefully considered, and take into account individuals’ experiences that may lead to non-compliance.”


Science Is Popping

Elite Malfeasance

Coughing at the messenger:

* * *

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!

Case Data

NOT UPDATED BioBot wastewater data from April 3:

Lambert here: The decline did not bottom out; my pessism was happily unwarranted. However, note that if we look at “the area under the curve,” more people have died after Biden declared that “Covid is over” than before. And this will continue.

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.

• “State health officials track worrisome uptick in COVID hospitalizations” [Hawaii News Now]. “Hawaii is seeing a jump in the rate of COVID-19 infections and severe cases. The state Health Department reports the number of people hospitalized for COVID [we learn nothing; this is a lagging indicator] across the state surged early 90 percent over the past week. Health experts say the latest data is a reminder COVID remains a threat, especially during holiday periods when travel and social gatherings increase the risk of transmission [we learn nothing; where was the PR campaign before the “uptick”?] …. Healthcare professionals worry the trend could continue with the upcoming Easter holiday, graduation season and summer travel [ditto]. Another concern? The infection rate is likely much higher than what is being reported [we learn nothing]” • XBB 1.9.1.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from April 1:

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.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, published April 5:

-0.2%. At the low point of the last valley, but the first increases in awhile.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,156,300 – 1,155,668 = 632 (632 * 365 = 230,680 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 March 28:

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.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell by 18 thousand to 228 thousand in the week ending April 1st. The previous week’s data was revised sharply up to 248K from 196K initially reported reflecting a change in the methodology of adjusting for seasonality by the US Department of Labor.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based employers announced 89.7K job cuts in March of 2023, 319% above 21.387K a year earlier and 77.77K in February as higher interest rates are forcing companies to cut costs. It was the third time this year that cuts were higher than the corresponding month a year earlier.”

* * *

Banking: “BlackRock CEO knocks US payments system” [Payments Dive]. “From [BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink’s] perch leading the gigantic asset manager, he described how he sees payments innovations in the U.S. compared to such advances in other parts of the world. ‘In many emerging markets – like India, Brazil and parts of Africa – we are witnessing dramatic advances in digital payments, bringing down costs and advancing financial inclusion,’ he said in the letter to BlackRock investors that the company said was published March 15. Then, Fink jabbed the U.S. payments system. “By contrast, many developed markets, including the U.S., are lagging behind in innovation, leaving the cost of payments much higher.’ That’s a sentiment that was underscored last month by ACI Worldwide’s annual analysis of the progress that nations are making in adopting real-time payments, which allow consumers and businesses to send and settle instant digital payments around the clock, without hours or days of delay. Real-time means payments to landlords, suppliers, retailers, government agencies, employees and others settle in seconds.” • Maybe I’m just a Luddite, but that sounds like tight coupling, to me.

Tech: Now Silicon Valley is trying to buff the turd:

References are low-hanging fruit because citations are well structured by style guides. (The original Google algorithm was in fact a form of citation analysis — URLs are well structured too — so it’s pretty amazing the brain geniuses at OpenAI didn’t take them into account.) Higher-hanging fruit… concepts, tropes, topics…. It will be interesting to see what AI’s bullshit generator does with those.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 44 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 5 at 1:57 PM ET.


“Assisted-living homes are rejecting Medicaid and evicting seniors” [WaPo]. “A recent spate of evictions has ousted dozens of assisted-living residents in Wisconsin who depended on Medicaid to pay their bills – an increasingly common practice, according to industry representatives…. Residents of assisted-living facilities – promoted as a homier, more appealing alternative to nursing homes – face an especially precarious situation. While federal law protects Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing homes from eviction, the law does not protect residents of assisted-living facilities, leaving them with few options when turned out…. The U.S. government does not monitor or regulate assisted-living facilities, and no federal data is available on the frequency of evictions…. The industry blames evictions on insufficient Medicaid funding. Reimbursements, made under federal waivers that allow states to spend Medicaid dollars for elderly care outside of nursing homes, are not keeping up with rising costs, industry representatives said.”


“The Joy of Fortnite” [Kottke.org]. “And in our Fortnite games I saw [my daughter] cultivate prowess. I’m not talking merely about the widely discussed perceptual and cognitive benefits of video games, which include an improved ability to track objects in space and tune out cognitive ‘distractors.’ I’m talking about that suite of abilities sometimes referred to as ’21st-century skills’: imaginatively solving open-ended problems, working collaboratively in teams, synthesizing complex information streams.” • I’m a little disconcerted that the highest level of abstraction for “21st-century skills” is “team.” After all, somebody or something purposeful organizes the teams. So the “complex information streams” synthesized have definite limitations…..

The Gallery

What AI does at scale:

AI = Lichtenstein. And copyright is a red hearing. Our entire cultural heritage is being strip-mined, not just the fenced-in parts of it. It’s grotesque.

The Conservatory

Speaking of a low-trust society, this Hank Williams classic:

And another version:

Class Warfare

One anecdote about financial professionals:

News of the Wired

“A Collection of Cherry Blossoms” [The Atlantic]. “Spring started a little more than a week ago, and the Northern Hemisphere has begun to warm; flowers and trees are blooming. Gathered below are some recent images of people enjoying themselves among groves of flowering cherry-blossom trees in Tokyo; Munich; Washington, D.C.; and more—signs of warmer days to come.” • Lovely photos.

* * *

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 MichaelSF:

MichaelSF writes: “This is a watsonia in my backyard in early February near the beach in San Francisco, about 2 weeks after the flower stalk came up. These days spring seems to start in the middle of winter.”

* * *

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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. flora

    re: “Trump should have taken an arraignment victory lap. Instead, he disappointed” [Charlotte Observer].

    Methinks the writer doesn’t play poker. / ;)

    1. Not Again

      The walls are closing in – unfortunately, the walls are in the Oval Office.


      The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that, if the 2024 presidential election were between Biden and former President Donald Trump, 47% of Likely U.S. voters would vote for Trump, while 40% would vote for Biden. Another 11% say they would vote for some other candidate.

    1. Carolinian

      They set up a kiosk at McD headquarters and instead of scrolling for hamburgers the employees scroll for the pink slip list. They were then given a number and told to go sit at a table.

    2. griffen

      Dearest colleague, we are in deep gratitude of your excellent service, lo after these many years with our corporate structure. In light of this gratitude as of 5pm local time this coming Friday, please accept our sincerest of warm wishes in your future endeavors. Executive management are in need of newly replenished luxury vehicles, and instead we are requiring human sacrifices for these needs to be met. Please mind your step and be aware of the alligators pitted beneath the floor.

      Sincerely, your central planning human officials. \SARC

      I’m a fan of that movie. And to add context, it happened to me in between 2009 to 2012. Also a shout out for the Company Men, also a film about downsizing and repurposing.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    So I wonder how digital enthusiast and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink liked having his company’s office in Paris stormed by protesters today?

    About 100 people, including representatives of several labor unions, were on the ground floor of the building for about 10 minutes, chanting anti-reform slogans. BlackRock’s office is located on the third floor.

    “The meaning of this action is quite simple. We went to the headquarters of BlackRock to tell them: the money of workers, for our pensions, they are taking it,” Jerome Schmitt, spokesman for French union SUD, told CNN affiliate BFM-TV. BlackRock declined to comment.

      1. semper loquitur

        I find the “NPR voice” to be absolutely maddening. Everything is rounded-off and passive/aggressive, slippery and slimy, even when a firm point is being made. It’s the aural equivalent of trying to squeeze a watermelon seed between your fingers…

      2. griffen

        Syrupy tones, like a hushed commentator on the delicate downhill putt facing a champion golfer at this week’s Masters, hosting their annual tourney on the green grounds of Augusta…”Jim if he sinks this putt you can size him up for the green jacket!”..

        1. Val

          Whilst motoring about, the wife’s loathing of NPR cannot be mollified–and she used to send them money–but I appreciate them for the master propagandists that they are. That crap doesn’t just happen. Miniscule and infrequent doses only, of course, and not suitable for the feeble-minded or authoritarian follower types of which we suffer a lamentable surplusage.
          But once identified, the fountains and firehoses of such state propaganda RussiaRussiaTrumpTrump, their products can be quite informative in a multiple inference framework…If you’re comfortable with that sort of activity and don’t mind the ad hominems.

          There’s also that persistent aspect of projection…
          “They isolate themselves, reject science (!), believe in implausible theses (!), and fuel societal division—a phenomenon that became particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

          The news is out…Enjoying the double dead dosing.

          1. The Rev vKev

            You and your wife could make a game out of listening to NPR. Note the propaganda techniques used and how they use certain words to convey the real message. I have began to do the same to the TV news here in Oz as the propaganda is so thick that you could lay it on with a trowel.

          2. JBird4049

            NPR and PBS used to be quite good, I think, but like most of the media have been co-opted and then absorbed by the (Neo) Liberal Collective, which makes my memories of it then compared to now depressing.

            Never perfect. Often clueless, but still a halfway decent collection of oddballs trying to be different from the corporate media in the past; it has been made a part of the Collective and even more propagandistic than the corporate media of the past.

            1. mrsyk

              Remember Robert J. Lurtsema? I loved listening to him read from the Times while I was having breakfast. Those were the days.

              1. JBird4049

                I don’t remember him, but do remember the relief I felt listening to them. Now, it is just aggravating as heck.

                I never knew just what I was going to get, and I was sometimes unpleasantly surprised, but now I am never surprised, but it is always an unpleasant experience.

                Does anyone remember the old KFAT radio out of Gilroy? It went off the air a few decades ago, but it was a really screwball country western music station. I often don’t like country western especially its soulless modern iteration, but KFAT could be pleasantly surprising.

                Unlike too much of modern music. “Hi, listen to our plasticized garbage. No songs with actual emotions. And certainly nothing like the old protest songs. We can’t offend our Overlords now.” This is the equivalent of what modern public radio has become as well. You almost can write the stories full of lies by omission and clichés yourself and I hate it.

        1. Carolinian

          Mara killed the liberal feel good vibe with all her hating on Bill Clinton although in retrospect she may have had a point.

          I stopped listening to NPR around the time they booted Bob Edwards.

  3. antidlc

    Re: ““BlackRock CEO knocks US payments system”

    Speaking of Larry Fink:

    Larry Fink’s Annual Chairman’s Letter to Investors

    Countries and companies need to pursue a “productivity imperative.” Successful countries will be those with higher healthy life expectancies, greater labor force participation rates, and higher rates of productivity. Successful companies that generate durable returns for shareholders will be those able to find enough workers, engage them at high rates of productivity, and find enough customers.

    Why life expectancy in the US is falling

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘greater labor force participation rates’

      Does that mean no remote working but to get the peons back into the offices again?

  4. petal

    Great Dead pick today, Lambert. Mike Ness of Social Distortion also does a nice version of it but a little slower on his Cheating At Solitaire album. Super album.
    Employees at hospital are already chomping at bit to rid themselves of those pesky masks. Lots of them with masks under nose or around chin today. Hanover wastewater has not been updated since March 21st. Interested to see what happens with students back and hospital dropping mask rule.

  5. Jason Boxman

    I, too, have been wondering how this mass disabling event might hurt or help my job. I guess we’ll see. If the portion of the population that is disabled is significant, I don’t know what kind of functional economy we’ll have, and push bits around on the Internet might not be in demand. Who knows?

    1. aletheia33

      i’ve begun to wonder too. in 5 years, with a shrunken minority who remain covid-uninfected, what is the/my world going to look like (along with everything else that will have gone down)? .

      i’ll be 73. i wonder if i will simply choose to help wherever i can and give the rest of my life away that way. i kinda like that idea. but i don’t know if i’d have that kind of heart/courage.

      meanwhile, i’m beginning to ask myself, vaguely, WHY exactly am i holding on to my uninfected condition? my $$ resources and health, currently precarious, are gradually going to become more so. i can imagine my resolve giving way. why not join “the rest of us” and just endure the fallout with everyone else? what will my days feel like with half my neighbors perhaps gone or disabled? will i be surrounded by empty condos–and that won’t be at all the worst of it? so far, i’m holding on, but what is really in store for those of us who manage to stay uninfected? i do wonder…

  6. ron paul rEVOLution

    >I think about that conversation a lot. It was so matter-of-fact, mercenary, cut-throat, cold … and they probably will do exactly what they said, and make a fortune off dystopia.

    — laurie allee (@laurieallee) April 5, 2023

    Good lord, it’s like Lev Zubov saying “I’m going to do The Jackpot. I’m going to do The Jackpot and get really rich.”

  7. C.O.

    More COVID-19 anecdata from Canada re. masking: I too have found that only the people at the dentist’s office have accurate information about how COVID-19 spreads and maintain a serious and consistent use of N-95 masks. At my last appointment with the hygienist for a cleaning, she said to me very quietly, with her properly fitted N-95 on observing me taking off mine preparatory to getting started, “I don’t want to get COVID either! At all.” While I was at the office, I was the only patient who had an N-95 on, and 3-5 other people came and went from their own appointments while I was there.

    The dentist, however, had a floppy surgical mask on and made clear his annoyance at having to wear such a thing to do his perfunctory check. Thankfully I knew about nasal sprays for prophylactic and post-exposure care from naked capitalism and the FLCCC.

    1. tevhatch

      My Canadian dentist, Dr. Douglas in Burlington, Ontario, wears a full face mask (equipped with mic and speaker) like I’d wear going into inspect nuclear power stations, and there are either Hepa or Corsi filters in each room depending on the size. Even my Hong Kong and Malaysian dentist can’t touch that. The point being ask around, some dentist take their own health seriously.

      1. C.O.

        To be sure, asking around is important, although sometimes local conditions can provide only so much. I’m glad your situation on that score is good! Where I live (medium-sized westcoast city) the regular dentists’ practices are shared ones, which is quite normal of course, but not so normally now it can be quite a challenge to find one where the co-practitioners are a stable group. The turnover of dentists is currently so high (gosh couldn’t have to do with COVID-19 exposure could it?) that it is a surprise to be able to hang onto the same dentist for more than a year, even if they stay in practice and you try to follow them to their new office. Hygienists though, they stay put.

  8. Tom Stone

    The phrase “Stabbed in the back” keeps coming to mind when I read about the UKE Nazi’s.
    One whole hell of a lot of weapons have been stolen on the way to the front and that includes RPG’s, MANPADS, Lots of M4’s and they are in the hands of right wing nut jobs.
    Many of whom are suffering from CTE and who will be mightily pissed at the “Collective West” and especially the good old USA.
    This has the potential to become extremely ugly

      1. JBird4049

        I wonder how much of it will go to the Mexican cartels and perhaps to the United States.

        The cartels are always looking for more weapons like this.

    1. The Rev Kev

      You can bet that when they lose this war, that the Ukrainians will be extremely resentful at not only the Russians but also the western countries because they did not do enough for them and its all their fault that they lost. You will probably find extremist elements among them – the same ones that we have been giving weapons too – will take it out on western countries to make them pay for failing them. And you can take that prediction to the bank.

    2. Skip Intro

      That’s when beefy surveillance systems monitoring all behavior, and inferring intent using AI will come in handy. Ahh the security state, cause of, and solution to, all our problems.

    3. Raymond Sim

      I think their “stab in the back” will come when the CIA commences helping Poland denazify western Ukraine.

  9. pjay

    “Freedom Caucus and progressives lock arms — and that could be bad news for McCarthy” [Politico].

    What? A “Red-Brown alliance” in Congress? Surely the fascists are coming to get us soon!

    I’m way too cynical about Congress these days to expect much from this. But if I allow myself a tiny bit of optimism, it does seem to indicate that the War Party consensus might be breaking down just a little. I hope they are prepared, because any threat to military spending is going to bring all hell down on them in the next election cycle. And we know what the media, including much of the “left,” will say about such an alliance.

  10. shinola

    “…For Donald Trump, attention is attention” [Associated Press].

    “The only bad publicity is no publicity” – usually attributed to P.T Barnum.

    1. Carolinian

      Or, alternately, “no such thing as bad publicity” (some Hollywood wag).

      Of course when your fifteen minutes of fame is up it leaves a hollow, empty feeling. Fortunately for Trump he never has that problem thanks to the Dems and TDS.

    2. Some guy

      Wasn’t it Wilde that said “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about?”

  11. B24S

    I’ve been enjoying you posting all these Dead clips. I WAS there, or at least some of them….

    Started looking the other day, and found these. Need to enlarge them a bit, but see the kid leaning on the stage whose head looks to be between Pigs’ boot and the congas, with the shine in his hair?


    In this shot my face is turned towards the camera-


    Can’t say I remember any details, but I’ve heard that’s proof you were there…

    1. tevhatch

      BTW, I’ve been to Finland twice, and remember seeing Fins with Nazi insignia on their uniform, turns out it was the Air Force. Do a visual search for Finland Air Force Nazi Symbol on some non-American controlled search engine, like Yandex.

        1. tevhatch

          Haha, you’re right. It looks like they replaced the swastika with the old Luftwaffe eagle. Nazis can’t help themselves.

          1. JBird4049

            I know that this will be an unpopular question, but if the Fins were using the swastika before the Nazis why change it? Plenty of people were using long before and still are other than the most Nazis. Unless anyone wants to say that both Indians and Native Americans are Nazis for still using the symbol as well? The Nazis just appropriated it thereby associating it with their own evil. Just do not give the symbol the same alignment and color scheme.

            1. tevhatch

              Because they joined the Nazis to invade the USSR. That they replaced it with the stylized Luftwaffe eagle put on the Nazi aircraft says they are not done poking the Russians.

              1. Polar Socialist

                Nah, the Finnish swastika comes from Swedish baron Eric von Rosen, who donated the first aircraft to Finnish Air Force. It had his “personal lucky emblem” painted on it.

                The fact that von Rosen was Göring’s brother-in-law and a white supremacist before Nazism even was invented had nothing to with it, I’m sure.

                It’s a dark pit so I don’t want to spent too much time in it, but for many (noble) Swedes who participated in the Finnish Civil War it was, shall we say, a “racial” matter: one can’t have them orcs governing one’s neighbor.

                1. JBird4049

                  Well, that’s nice to know. I still think that people cry Nazi far too often, but sometimes it is just that.

              2. JBird4049

                Considering that the Soviets actually invaded the country and stole some territory mainly to protect Leningrad/St. Petersburg, I am not surprised that Finland took a chance to get its territory back two years later during its Continuation War. Wouldn’t you?

                The eagle is more problematic time wise, and I would not be surprised if there were and are some neo-Nazis in the Finnish military. However, considering that I have seen the eagle motif frequently due to American Bald Eagle being a national symbol, including gargoyles of it on the Chrysler Building for example, it could easily be on the Finnish insignia just because it is an eagle. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

  12. Martin Oline

    For those interested, The Duran is now (3:20 PM) doing an interview with Robert Barnes. At 45 minutes he switches from the topic of Trump’s indictment to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign for president in 2024. One note – because it is still live right now the time scale on the video is from the end (running time) rather than the start. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. campaign comments by Robert Barnes

  13. Laughingsong

    “Lambert bangs head against desk”

    Someone buy that man a scrum cap!

    As far as the droplet cr@p goes…. Excuse me, maybe someone can correct my take here, but aren’t aerosols just really, really small droplets?

    1. Louiedog14

      But he does make those delicious English Muffins…you know, the ones with all the nooks and crannies to hold the grift in.

    2. tevhatch

      Just following in the footsteps of Koch Brother proxy, closet resident, and wizard bribe taker Antonin Scalia.

    3. Janeway

      Well, seems on par with the 10% for the big guy kickbacks Biden and his family gets. 1 supreme court justice vs. the president and numerous subordinates. And that doesn’t even touch Congress.

      Kettle, meet Pot

  14. RA

    Yesterday Petal provided an email from her hospital employer about masking rule changes.

    Just to show this must be a nationwide thing, here is an email I got from John Muir Health which has large medical centers a bit northeast of San Francisco and Oakland. Did the CDC send out some kind of boiler plate that April was the start of we-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-masks?

    [Also, not sure how I got on their email list. I’ve never been to any of their facilities and I live about 50 miles south of them.]

    Received 4-3-23
    From: John Muir Health
    Subject: Update on mask policy in our facilities
    — Masks no longer mandated in California healthcare facilities —
    The state and many county health departments are lifting the COVID-19 mask mandate for healthcare workers, patients and visitors in healthcare facilities as of April 3, 2023.

    We are making changes to our mask policy in John Muir Health facilities to reflect these changes, keeping in mind the health of all in our community.

    — Updated mask policy in our facilities as of April 3, 2023 —
    Wearing masks is encouraged, but optional, for physicians, staff, patients and visitors in our facilities.

    People working in or visiting our facilities may continue to wear masks of their choosing if they wish. Please be respectful and understanding of everyone’s personal choices to mask or not mask.

    In some cases, masks are required. Patients with respiratory symptoms, fever, or symptoms that may be from a viral illness will be required to wear masks for the health and safety of others.

    When visiting our facilities, we may also ask that you wear a mask in areas where patients who are immunocompromised are receiving care. Masks will continue to be available at our facilities.

    We understand that being in a health care facility can be stressful and that many are concerned about their health. We encourage our patients to request that we wear masks when treating you, if it would make you more comfortable.

    — We appreciate your patience —
    We continue to be amazed and grateful at how our community has supported one another in the past three years as circumstances continued to shift. Our mask policy may change again in the future if there is a surge in respiratory illness. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate changes as they come.

    And here’s a link to a brief web page from their site.

    1. JBird4049

      Looks like an arc of offices in the East Bay across several counties. Nice boilerplate pretending that they care, but really don’t as it all about the feelz and keeping appearances. It is nice to see that they still want to keep killing people. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)

    2. Raymond Sim

      At the Contra Costa central wastewater facility on March 31 the SARS-2 titer was about 5.8 times what it was March 31, 2022,, so roughly what it was on the way up to the big post-Thanksgiving spike Apparently mostly XBB now, though a lot seems unclassified. In November it was “BA.4 + BA.5 + BQ” so, they’re doffing mask just when the masks are very likely all they’ve really got going for them.

  15. Will

    Fashionable respirators?!

    Twitter link today re finance types planning on profiting from Covid dystopia eventually lead me to a Korean company producing KF94 masks printed with some very nice colours and patterns. About 100 different options to choose from.


    I think Lambert’s been bemoaning the lack of trendy mask wear for some time now.

    1. semper loquitur

      Don’t buy Cambridge masks whatever you do. Poorly fitting and ear-strapped. Wasted 50$.

      1. JBird4049

        Airgami won an award in a competition create by Federal government. It is a little expensive and delicate, but I can say that it is the most comfortable mask that I use. Plus, it does have a number of patterns and colors other than basic black or white.

      2. Revenant

        Sorry to hear about your experience, SL.

        My experience with the Cambridge mask (fabric one for cycling) was different. Their masks are very much not a 3M Aura experience. However, the Cambridge mask I bought came with separate headstrap and a nose bridge pad. The headstrap fastened to the ear loops and enable the whole thing to be tightened to the face excellently, albeit at the expense of creating a samurai topknot effect! I didn’t use the nose pad, the fit was tight enough without just using the embedded deformable metal strip.

        The mask version I bought had a further adjustment possible using a draw loop either side of the chin, to confirm the mask to the jaw better. This proved essential to tighten fully (leaving a problem of where to put the dangly strings) but, when tightened, the soft fabric mask fitted so well that the material was sucked in and out with normal breathing.

        Because it was soft and reusable and patterned, I kept the mask in my pocket as a ready-for-use mask for brief entry into shops etc. was likely. I saved the 3M Auras for travel and other situations where long and/or high exposure was expected. The Auras are reusable too (in practice if not by design / intended use) but they are white and become grubby overtime, even if kept in a ziploc bag when doffed, so the Cambridge mask was more practical to keep on one’s person casually.

  16. Onward to Dystopia

    Once again I feel totally at odds with literally anything the news machine has to say. Today the Sleepy Brandon administration is pointing the finger for the pullout of Afghanistan on Trump. I don’t get it. Leaving Afghanistan was possibly the only thing this brain-leaking-out-his-ears president has done right, as if he stumbled into it by pure accident. I’ve never considered the withdrawal from Afghanistan to be a disaster, and it’s really rich watching people pretend to care about the Afghan people. I guess there’s a lot of people who’s national pride feefees are hurt that the Afghan people didn’t want our Potemkin government. We coulda stayed there another 10 years, 20 years, the result would have been the same. We should’ve left LONG ago.

    1. Polar Socialist

      Leaving Afghanistan wasn’t a disaster, this is true. But the way it was executed, certainly looked like a disaster. Everybody else in Kabul just woke up one morning to realization USA had left during the night. NATO allies, local collaborators, just everybody.

      We all remember the ensuing chaos, that was completely avoidable.

  17. ACF

    Re impeaching the new D WI justice:

    “Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, acknowledged that threshold in an interview with WISN-TV on Wednesday saying, “we’re not going to use impeachments to overturn elections or anything like that.”
    “To impeach someone they would need to do something very serious, so no, we are not looking to start the impeachment process as a regular occurring event in Wisconsin,” he said.”

    The stakes are really high:

  18. Dr. John Carpenter

    The CA Twitter link is duplicated (where’s Dianne and the next one) or is it just on my phone?

    1. Acacia

      I see it too, though mostly lol’ing about the tweet’s suggestion that Feinstein is recovering from a Fentanyl bender.

  19. The Rev Kev

    Re Roy Lichtenstein grabbing that comic panel and using it for his art piece like it was a modern day NFT. I wonder if he did the same thing for his other famous art piece ‘Drowning woman?”

    ‘Drowning Girl is derived from the splash page from “Run for Love!”, illustrated by Tony Abruzzo and lettered by Ira Schnapp, in Secret Hearts #83 (November 1962), DC Comics. This is the same comic book issue that inspired Hopeless.’


    Does this mean that I could copy and enlarge a section of Jackson Pollock’s “Blue Poles”, that I could then sell it as a new piece of art for profit and fame?

      1. JBird4049

        There is a line where inspiration becomes theft. This is where the arguments begin, but almost all art has some beginnings in previous art. You could say that art is mainly making endless reiterations without making endless copies.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Wow. He really gives them both barrels. Looking forward to somebody doing the same to CNN and Fox.

    2. Carolinian

      ZH had the whole piece. I can’t comment on MSNBC–which I don’t get–but Taibbi is surely only feigning surprise at the low standards of cable news and especially, by all accounts, MSNBC. Perhaps he’s swayed by the fact that his father worked for NBC, but while the 70s gave us All the President’s Men they also gave us Network and Network won. Or to cite yet another iconic 70s show, instead of Lou Grant we get Ted Baxter. It’s all just a reality show to keep couch sitters glued to the commercials. Perhaps it’s what reality star Trump deserves but not what we deserve.

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