2:00PM Water Cooler 5/12/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Madagascar Nightjar, Jardin Botanique A, Ampijoroa Forestry Station, Mahajanga, Madagascar.

* * *


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

Biden Administration

A Pathetically Small Bargain:


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

When they tell you who they are — authoritians and authoritarian followers — believe them:

It’s almost as if they think they can keep Biden under wraps for [checks clock] 542 days; seems dubious. But not to them. (See If You Want to Know What the Democratic Party Is, Just Ask Their Lawyer; “we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.” And that’s what they’re doing, isn’t it? Just like Obama’s Night of the Long Knives, which happened three years after this post was written).

“Or anyone else” is, I think, the most important part. They don’t want anyone emerging!

* * *

Trump dominating the news cycle once more. Like old times:

“Trump’s defiance at the CNN town hall may scare off many voters — but not the GOP base” [Associated Press]. “Trump’s defiant performance at the CNN town hall on Wednesday may ultimately hurt his standing with key groups of voters in next fall’s general election, especially women, suburbanites and independents. But the reaction of those who attended also demonstrated his extraordinary grip on the conservative voters who will soon decide the fight for the GOP presidential nomination.” • Bourdieu would love the self-appointed power relation presumed by “defiance.”

“The Worst Thing to Come Out of Trump’s Town Hall Didn’t Come From Trump” [The Atlantic]. “You know it because you know Donald Trump. Performative cruelty, preening selfishness, bluster, hatred, insults, lies—it was a grotesque display made even worse by the fact that the grotesquerie was entirely predictable. Trump is, in the strictest sense, old news. He is a known quantity. He is no longer capable of revealing anything new, about himself or his movement. Because of that, only one piece of relevant news emerged from the town hall. It came not from the event itself, but from the speech that CNN’s CEO, Chris Licht, delivered in a network-wide editorial call this morning. Licht congratulated the town hall’s moderator, Kaitlan Collins, on her effort to coax truth out of Trump’s lies. And he did so in particular terms: ‘Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news,’ Licht said, according to the media reporter (and former CNN anchor) Brian Stelter. ‘Made a lot of news.’ And ‘that is our job.'” • Trump on Ukraine wasn’t news? These people have lost their minds. Commentary:

“The next Trump: younger and to the right” [Axios]. “Vivek Ramaswamy — the little-known biotech multimillionaire who jumped into the ’24 GOP presidential race — is auditioning to be the party’s next Donald Trump, with hyper-Trumpian positions on the border, voting, culture wars and more…. By running to the right of Trump, the 37-year-old entrepreneur seems to be positioning himself as heir apparent to the former president, 76. Ramaswamy is an understudy in plain sight — and already mentioned as a plausible V.P. pick for Trump.” • But can Ramaswamy own the libs? Certainly Trump owns the libs; he’s beein living rent free in their heads for 2023 – 2016 = seven years now, and it looks like the lease is permanent.

“Two high-profile Iowa Republicans endorse Ron DeSantis in 2024 Iowa caucuses” [Des Moines Register]. “Two high-profile Iowa Republicans — Senate President Amy Sinclair and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl — are endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ potential presidential bid as he returns to the state this weekend ahead of a likely presidential run. DeSantis is scheduled to hold a pair of events Saturday in Sioux Center and Cedar Rapids — the same day former President Donald Trump is set to appear at a rally in Des Moines.”

“Scoop: Manchin flirts with Iowa voters” [Axios]. “Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) may not have announced that he’s running as a third-party candidate for president. But he’s acting like it. Manchin took time from his busy Senate schedule to tell a gathering of Iowa business and community leaders Wednesday in D.C. that he’s “fiscally responsible and socially compassionate” — another hint that he’s considering a potential third-party presidential bid. Back in the Senate, he released a statement vowing to oppose all President Biden’s EPA nominees over the administration’s “radical climate agenda.”

Manchin’s recent no-mercy campaign against Biden could be related to his potential re-election bid in deep-red West Virginia — but it’s also a sign of just how far he’s willing to go to blow up the president’s plans. Iowa Democrats are furious with their national party for stripping their first-in-the-nation status on the presidential calendar. But Iowa voters still pride themselves on their ability — if not their right — to judge candidates up close and in-person.” • It’s a shame the Iowa Democrats got nothing for screwing Sanders. Shows you how gratitude works in the Democrat Party.

* * *

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Interview with the Classical Republican” [Equality by Lot]. “I was interviewed some time ago about sortition for the Classical Republican. It was a wide-ranging conversation that included discussion of this blog. The interview is now on Youtube, and can be viewed here. Note that the Classical Republican has an entire Youtube playlist devoted to sortition which features, in addition to my interview, an extended conversation with longtime sortition advocate Oliver Dowlen and other interesting videos. The playlist can be found here.” • I don’t normally link to bare video links, but sortition is important, so here ya go.


“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), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Helpful autotweet:

Covid Is Airborne

“An overview of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and engineering strategies to mitigate risk” [Journal of Building Engineering]. “The successful applications of engineering approaches in reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 are lacking. In this review, the environmental factors that influence the transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2, such as ventilation flow rates, humidity, and temperature, are discussed. Besides, additional macro and micro weather factors, regional and global transmission, and the variants of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 are also reviewed. Engineering approaches that practically reduce the risks of SARS-CoV-2 transmissions are reported. Given the complex human behavior, environmental properties, and dynamic nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it is reasonable to summarize that SARS-CoV-2 may not be eradicated even with the timely implementation of interventions. Therefore, more research exploring the potential cost-effective ways to control the transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2 may be a worthwhile pursuit to moderate the current crisis.” • Masking is an engineering approach, and successful (though the social engineering aspect has been less successful). I think we have some HVAC mavens in the readership; perhaps they can comment.


“Disposable Masks Market- Share, Size & Forecast 2033” [Future Market Insights]. “The disposable masks market is likely to record a [Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)] of 7.4% during the forecast period. The market is expected to hold a market share of US$ 5.3 billion in 2023 while it is anticipated to cross a value of US$ 10.8 billion by 2033…. Rising awareness regarding airborne infections among consumers is spurring demand for disposable masks for personal use. The increasing incidence of viral outbreaks such as COVID-19 will propel the usage of disposable masks in the coming years…. Growing emphasis on personal safety and protection from airborne diseases and air pollution in the United States is anticipated to create opportunities for growth in the coming years.” And: “Increasing consumer inclination towards sustainable products is spurring demand for disposable face masks made from biodegradable materials…. In response to this, manufacturers are producing disposable masks using natural polymers. Few biodegradable materials used in disposable face masks are cellulose, starch, and lignin. Such developments are expected to bode well for the disposable masks market in the forthcoming years.” • I hesitate to say anything as grandiose as “history is on the side of maskers.” Nevertheless, I can say that maskers should hang tough; there’s a market for masks. This is, of course, quite different from the situation as portrayed in the press, Big Hospital, and the political class, but one expects that.

“Covid Cautions Continue for Some, Even as Federal Emergency Ends” [New York Times]. “For millions of Americans, the Covid-19 emergency, that disorienting stretch of lockdowns, mandates, free-floating anxiety and exhaustion came to a muted end sometime during the past couple of years, brought about by vaccines and antiviral drugs. The expiration of the federal public health emergency on Thursday was a barely noticed formality. But signs remain everywhere of a changed country: in the many thousands of families quietly grieving a loss, in the struggles of those suffering from long Covid and in the continued reliance by many Americans on one of the pandemic’s most hotly debated tools: the humble mask.” • With yesterday’s news from MGH and Stanford, the market study above, and now this hange in tone — no shaming and insults this time around — perhaps “the end of the beginning”? =

Another straw in the wind:

And another:

I do think that dentists tend, as a rule, to be more sane about masking, simply because most dentistry is an aerosol-generating procedure.

Celebrity Watch

Another canary hits the bottom of its cage:

One again, celebrity sightings is one of the few reliable proxies we have left.

More canaries:

Another proxy. I’d love to see an aggregation of reports on coughing from classical music venues (cf. “Why Do People Cough at Concerts?“, Ludwig Van Daily. 2023, and no mention of Covid!)


“Risk of post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection associated with pre-coronavirus disease obstructive sleep apnea diagnoses: an electronic health record-based analysis from the RECOVER initiative” [Sleep]. From the Abstract: “Adults with preexisting [Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)] were found to have significantly elevated odds of probable PASC. This finding was consistent across data sources, approaches for identifying COVID-19-positive patients, and definitions of PASC [Long Covid]. Patients with OSA may be at elevated risk for PASC after SARS-CoV-2 infection and should be monitored for post-acute sequelae.” “[P]art of the NIH Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative, which seeks to understand, treat, and prevent the post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC).”

Elite Maleficence

What on earth does CDC think it is doing:

So, if deaths from automobile crashes go up, and the percentage of Covid deaths goes down in proportion, the map becomes more green? Really?

The incongruities:

Where are the lawsuits?

* * *

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson).

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data from May 11:

Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Still on the high plateau.

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.

• This data stream is safe, at least for the present:


From CDC, May 13, 2023:

Lambert here: Looks like XBB.1.16 is rolling right along. Though XBB 1.9.1 is in the race as well.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 6:

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. 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.


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, May 8:

Lambert here: Walgreens is back up (hat tip, alert reader ChrisRUEcon). Hoorary! (I assume this also means you can still get test kits at Walgreens. It looks like you can order free test kits until May 11. What happens after that is not clear to me. Readers? UPDATE Something’s going on, because the date remains 5/8, but the difference percentage is now 5.4% (up).

Lambert here: 4%. That’s a lot. Though I don’t know how whether they reported, or are interpolating, the data from April 11, the last day I recorded, until today.


Death rate (Our World in Data), from April 30:

Lambert here: So this data feed, er, came alive again.

Total: 1,162,693 – 1,162,662 = 31 (31 * 365 = 11,315 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 May 9:

Lambert here: I don’t like sudden drops to zero much. The same thing also happened with the death rate data after WHO took over the feed.

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (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. )

• Just like the flu? Not!

• These two mortality sites seem to be telling very different stories, both from each other and from the Economist’s chart above. I’m not a mortality maven. Can readers clarify?

Mortality Watch (fjallstrom):

US Mortality (aleric):

Stats Watch

There are no offical statistics of interest today.

* * *

Climate: “Carbon Capture Is Hard. This Plant Shows Why” [Wall Street Journal]. “Only one commercial power plant in North America is currently operating with carbon capture. Its experience hasn’t been as smooth—or climate-friendly—as proponents of the rules might hope. That plant, the Boundary Dam Power Station Unit 3 in Canada’s Saskatchewan province, turns locally mined coal into enough electricity for 100,000 homes…. One of the plant’s generating units is outfitted with a $1.1 billion carbon-capture system, which utility officials say is now collecting around 80% of the unit’s carbon-dioxide emissions—some 875,000 metric tons in the past year…. The destination for all that captured carbon dioxide isn’t particularly green. Three-quarters of it is pumped underground to squeeze more oil out of a field 36 miles away operated by a different company—a solution that only adds to the problem of global greenhouse emissions. The rest of the captured carbon is stored nearby in an underground geologic formation. The unit is designed to operate until 2044, but Boundary Dam’s owner, SaskPower, says the benefits of operating a coal-fired power unit using carbon-capture technology are becoming less apparent. ‘Utility operators in the United States will be in the same boat as we are,’ said Rupen Pandya, president and chief executive of SaskPower. ”

The Bezzle: “Music Streaming Has a $2 Billion Fraud Problem That Goes Beyond AI” [Bloomberg]. “Taking advantage of the loose restrictions in an age of automated music distribution, such scammers have learned how to rake in money from mainstream music platforms, either by circulating minimally altered, copycat versions of popular songs and collecting the resulting per-stream payouts or by getting listeners to inadvertently consume their own music or ads by mislabeling uploaded content. … Worse yet, nobody at the major services appear[s] to be doing anything effective to stop the spread of the knockoffs.” • Just like Amazon.

The Fed: “Is the Fed data-driven or data-ridden?” [Claudia Sahm, Stay-at-Home Macro]. “The data do not tell us what they mean. We must always draw inferences. We must decide which data deserve attention, which models to feed them into, and how they should help inform decisions. Data are not and must not be driving. Hyping a handful of data points, especially preliminary ones, is the path to bad decisions. Judgment is always in charge at the Fed. I worked for a decade at the Fed on the staff’s forecast. It’s the one getting attention now for saying a recession is likely in the second half of this year. How did a recession make it into the forecast? The senior staff made the call and put it in. No one data point, frankly, no constellation of data points, tells us affirmatively that a recession is the most likely outcome. In the end, it is about judgment. And not everyone agrees. Chair Powell told us he looked at the same data and came to a different conclusion.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 58 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 12 at 1:06 PM ET.

The Gallery

“Hannah Gadsby Addresses Sackler Ties to Their Brooklyn Museum Show: ‘There’s a Problem with Money in the Art World'” [ARTnews]. “Last month, the Brooklyn Museum announced that comedian Hannah Gadsby, whose 2018 Netflix special memorably skewered the male-centric art canon, had been tapped to co-curate an exhibition on Pablo Picasso. This week, Gadsby addressed a controversy trailing the upcoming show—the museum’s lingering ties to the infamous Sackler family. ‘I’m doing a show at the Brooklyn Museum. There’s one Sackler on the board [trustee emerita Elizabeth A. Sackler]. We vetted this. Apparently, they’ve separated their earning streams from the problematic one,’ Gadsby told Variety. ‘I mean, take that with a grain of salt. Doesn’t matter what cultural institution you work with in America, you’re going to be working with billionaires and there’s not a billionaire on this planet that is not fucked up. It is just morally reprehensible.’ Gadsby, who uses they/them pronouns, added, ‘I was assured that they’d separated from the opioids strain. That’s where it lands. I don’t see it as a clean win-win. That’s for sure, but I’m not sure how to navigate this world.'” More: “They continued: “There’s an elephant in the room [with Elizabeth A. Sackler], yeah. There’s a problem with money in the art world, generally. That also is part of my perspective on Picasso. Like, is he a hero, or is he just worth a lot of money?'” • Well….

Incidentally, Musk nuking the artbots was a stupid and retrograde decision, and I hope the new CEO has a different policy. The artbots are utterly harmless, aren’t in it for the money, and make Twitter a much more pleasant place to be. (This Picasso is just a little but too easy on the eyes, perhaps, because of the iconic — touristy — church tower. But Picasso is clearly not “just worth a lot of money.” What a vacuous statement from such a putatively bold curator.)

Class Warfare

“Column: Your boss wants AI to replace you. The writers’ strike shows how to fight back” [Los Angeles Times]. “One of those workers put it to me bluntly on the picket line, where screenwriters were protesting, among other things, the entertainment industry’s openness to using artificial intelligence to churn out scripts: ‘F— ChatGPT.’ But it’s not just screenwriters — the movement includes illustrators, freelance writers and digital content creators of every stripe. ‘Every day,’ the artist and activist Molly Crabapple tells me, ‘another place that used to hire human artists has filled the spot with schlock from [AI image generator] Midjourney. If illustrators want to remain illustrators in two years, they have to fight now.’ Each week brings more companies announcing they will replace jobs with AI, Twitter threads about departments that have been laid off, and pseudo-academic reports about how vulnerable millions of livelihoods are to AI. So, from labor organizing to class-action lawsuits to campaigns to assert the immorality of using AI-generated works, there’s an increasingly aggressive effort taking shape to protect jobs from being subsumed or degraded by AI. Their core strategies include refusing to submit to the idea that AI content generation is “the future,” mobilizing union power against AI exploitation, targeting copyright violations with lawsuits and pushing for industrywide bans against the use of cheap AI material. They’re just getting started. And for the sake of everyone who is not a corporate executive, a middle manager or an AI startup founder, we’d better hope it works. Whose future does AI really serve? The answer to that is ‘Big Tech’ and, to a lesser degree, your boss.'” • Yes, those are the antagonists, and those are the stakes. It’s not a coincidence that workers are being replaced immediately after depopulation, disproportionately of the working class, from Covid.

News of the Wired

“Something Awful is racing to save the best and worst of web history” [The Verge]. “Ubiquitous image host Imgur announced it would be deleting nudity and pornography starting in mid-May and, along with it, ‘old, unused, and inactive content’ not linked to an account. The wording was so vague nobody knew exactly what that meant. But the worst-case scenario was obvious: an unceremonious purge of images from one of the longest-running communities on the web. A frantic discussion thread commenced, and soon, the solution seemed obvious, too. Using a spreadsheet as a home base, with a tight deadline of May 15th, Something Awful’s members had to help download the source images of as many Imgur links as possible — ideally, anything ever posted to the site. A few weeks later, Something Awful’s owner — who goes by Jeffrey of YOSPOS — is feeling confident. “We’re rock-solid,” Jeffrey told The Verge via forum direct message. Though there’s still plenty of work to do, he says site members have secured multiple copies of a roughly three-terabyte collection of pictures and short videos, now held on both users’ hard drives and Something Awful’s own. He plans to have them hosted by the end of May, leaving a minimal gap if anything’s deleted. But what’s been internally dubbed the Great Imgur Download Caper isn’t a one-time averted crisis. It’s part of a constant struggle to shore up digital culture and to convince people that it matters.”

* * *

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

RM writes: “Firewood and flowers winter is over.”

* * *

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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. IM Doc

    From someone who actually watched the CNN Trump Town Hall in real time, this line in the above article really stands out…………..

    Performative cruelty, preening selfishness, bluster, hatred, insults, lies—it was a grotesque display made even worse by the fact that the grotesquerie was entirely predictable.

    Is the article referring to Trump? Or is the article referring to the absolutely abysmal excuse for a moderator and then the subsequent pundit panel?

    Sometimes, it is so hard to tell what is even being discussed……I just shake my head and realize that they are fighting about headlines and narratives. People who actually watched the presentation very likely came away with a completely different take.

    1. Janeway

      It’s an echo chamber on both sides. It’s frustrating for those who can see it for what it is – distraction from anything real and important to actual people and society.

    2. flora

      If the moderator was trying to have a debate instead of a townhall forum she sure did an awful job presenting progressive counterpoints. Mostly, she was obnoxious, imo.

      From Michael Knowles. Twtr clip of Anderson Cooper’s ‘morning after’ monolog: not the words of a confident Dem lib. / ;)

      This might be the single funniest thing I’ve ever seen.


      1. Martin Oline

        Anderson almost used up his thesaurus. Anger, disappointment, lie after lie, disturbing, awful, and outrageous. He issued a warning that those awful people in the audience who applauded that ‘bully’ represent about half of the American voting public. Oh my, where are the fainting salts?

      2. barefoot charley

        Anderson’s no Tucker Carlson, he’s employable. Today’s CNN company line is a) we report news, not our correct opinions, and b) TRUMP BUX ARE BACK! So this week CNN is Trump-oxygenating, and Anderson scolds his followers for expecting the usual expectorations instead (Let’s ignore how Kaitlin did ye olde CNN schtick). So he treats his very own audience like deplorables! Can’t wait for this not to end well.

        1. flora

          “…usual expectorations.” That’s hilarious since I’m pretty sure you know the definition of “expectoration.” / heh

    3. griffen

      CNN is behaving akin to Judge Smails (Ted Knight) out of the Caddyshack comedy classic. Trump is the Al Czervik (Dangerfield) who plays the foil to the judge and his haughty high falutin’ country club methods.

      This is Bushwood, we will never have the likes of you here! Snobs versus Slobs.

      1. pjay

        Excellent analogy. Electoral politics is just performative theater today, and at the movies people always root for the Slobs over the Snobs. That’s why the Slobs always win – in the movies. In real life it’s usually the other way around – except for Trump. The Establishment and their MSM lackeys seem completely oblivious to the fact that every time they pull this righteous judgmental crap Trump gains in popularity. Soon the Democrats will only be able to win a few metropolitan enclaves and college towns, a handful of blue islands in a vast sea of red. They’re almost there now.

      2. Bugs

        It’s truly that. And to carry on the metaphor, Al Czervik was a real estate developer who wanted to raze the golf course. Too bad the sequel stank. I always thought there was a better one to be made where maybe Danny interns for a senator and returns home for the summer and stays at Ty’s place. Hilarious antics ensue.

        1. flora

          adding: one wonders why the CNN audience tribe thinks, (or CNN managers think their viewing audience thinks), that somehow “escaping reality” is even a real thing. That is, like, if you don’t like what your opponent is saying you can simply dismiss it without counter argument and that is somehow a credible response. / oy

    4. tevhatch

      They brough on Trump to boost their ratings and still messed up. Lost opportunity to do a Bill Clinton vs. Republicans on FauxNews, who is vulnerable after dumping their star. CableNoNews would not even have to take more than one or two steps to be more right-wing than FauxNews. The quality of capitalist these days… they have no idea how to make money by direct competition, they only know how to fight over who bribes government the most/best.

    5. Acacia

      Kaitlan Collins, on her effort to coax truth out of Trump’s lies. And he did so in particular terms: ‘Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news,’ Licht said …

      Indeed, by trying to corner Trump on the Ukraine conflict, pressing him to choose sides — “Can you say if you want Ukraine or Russia to win this war?” — Collins made it clear that she, CNN, and the PMC they claim to speak for, are all basically on the side of the neocons. Not really news for readers of NC, of course.

      “Do you want Ukraine or Russia to win this war?” is another version of “either you’re with us or against us”, which is just the same neocon line of thought that led to this conflict in the first place, and which then tries to hector the collective West into taking sides. By refusing to respond to this and emphasizing the importance of ending the bloodshed, Trump actually came out a lot closer to the pacifist position expressed by critics like Chris Hedges.

  2. some guy

    Just because the National DemParty won’t facilitate any primary process, does that mean they can forbid
    any one or another State DemParty from holding its own primary? And if it did, would “delegates” thereby “selected and apportioned” be recognized at the National Convention or not? If not, then what?

    It is more than just authoritarians who will tolerate a zero-primaries Smoke-Filled-Room nominee. All DemParty “supprters” who fear a Republican administration worse will tolerate it. One supposes that is what the National DemParty Owners count on.

    What if Kennedy and Kucinich and Williamson and perhaps other rebels were to try inventing a new party and getting it on the ballot in just enough states that if it then won those states it could deny either brand name party an election-winning majority of electoral college votes? If such figures and their supporters and disgruntled former DemParty members got together with enough lead time, could they organize such a selected-states Third Party into existence with enough time to wage and win a Victory-Denial Campaign in those particular states?

    1. LifelongLib

      Smoke-filled rooms gave us Lincoln, TR, FDR, LBJ. Even the less-stellar candidates at least knew how to wire-pull. Primaries on the other hand have given us a series of mediocrities who look good on TV but don’t know how to govern.

      1. Carolinian

        I’m not sure TR and LBJ bolster your argument. Plus smoke also gave us Truman and a host of other mediocrities. As for FDR, he had to fight off Al Smith who resented the sudden rise of his protege. Back then conventions did matter and whoever the bosses picked had to pass this test to move on. Roosevelt did it by walking to the podium–a piece of theater.

        The now overwhelming importance of money is what gives us so many mediocre choices. Big Money controls both parties.

      2. some guy

        Primaries also gave us McGovern. We will never know how he would have governed because a resentful old-line party leadership united in conspiring against McGovern and working to elect Nixon instead. And of course McGovern himself tried appeasing the old-liners by accepting Eagleton as his VP, instead of running and insurgent campaign just like his insurgent primary uprising.

        And primaries would have given us Sanders if the DemParty hadn’t conspired to engineer the nomination to Clinton and then to Biden. So again we will never know if a fair primary process might have given us an Entity. Because the primary process was cheated-on.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          Don’t forget labor’s shameful role. Reuther’s UAW and AFSCME supported the Democrat against Nixon. Meany’s AFL-CIO and the Teamsters were behind Nixon. And the reason was most of the unions were among the most vociferous supporters of the war.

          1. some guy

            That has never been touched on by Thomas Franks in his analysis of PMC takeover of the Democratic Party so far as I know.

            Large numbers of younger people were shown the violent hatred and contempt which union member Democrats for the War had for them, and they came to return it. I wonder how much of PMC Free-Trade supporting is rooted in vengeance against ” Meany for Nixon and the Vietnam War” and his people, for example.

    2. Martin Oline

      Regarding fairness within the apparatus of a political party, I believe a higher court ruled years back that political parties are private institutions and are under no constraints in regards to cheating their own members. They do not have to be ‘fair’ when it comes to counting the votes or fair representation. Witness Hilary Clinton winning all six of the coin tosses at tied caucuses in Iowa in 2016. There is no democracy in either the Republican or Democrat parties. It’s a private club and you ain’t in it. I can’t help it if I’m lucky. Idiot Wind

      1. Martin Oline

        Reference is to the song Idiot Wind

        Someone’s got it in for me
        They’re planting stories in the press
        Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out quick
        But when they will I can only guess
        They say I shot a man named Gray
        And took his wife to Italy
        She inherited a million bucks
        And when she died it came to me
        I can’t help it if I’m lucky

        – Robert Zimmerman

      2. LifelongLib

        It’s fine with me if a party selects candidates by consulting Tarot cards, but it should be honest with the members about what it’s doing.

        1. Paradan

          It’s in the DNC charter that the votes at a primary dont matter, and that the smokey room can pick any candidate it wants.

      3. The Rev Kev

        I saw one series of coin tosses where this kid was feeling with his fingers the result of it and the rigging was so blatant and on video that they had no shame in doing so. Everything had to be gamed to get the results that they wanted so short term “win” but long term loss of confidence in the process.

  3. some guy

    I suspect Ramaswamy will come off like a chihuahua pretending it’s a rottweiler. The impression will be sad and funny.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I recall that part of the reason Don Lemon was fired was that he was too mean to Ramaswamy on air.

      1. chris

        Not that he was too mean to Mr. Vivek, but that he was obsessively awful as an interviewer. They were supposed to talk about a lot of stuff and Lemon focused on how Vivek, a person of color, was not allowed to opine on anything pertaining the experiences of people of color in the USA. Vivek also made some comments about the history of gun control laws in the country, which were mostly correct but given in a very biased context, and Lemon lost his $hit. And the whole time, Vivek was arguing with Lemon, Lemon was ignoring his co-host. It was an absolutely awful exchange on the back of many prior awful exchanges and various awful things he did to people at CNN. I’m surprised it took them that long to fire him.

  4. Sub-Boreal

    My COVID war story for this week:

    My little College-on-the-Tundra is choosing a new senior administrator, and this week we’re meeting the two finalists at public events.

    Yesterday, we heard from the first candidate, who diligently recited the EDI phrasebook. I’ve developed a pretty decent immune response to that stuff – it just rolls off now – but what did rile me up was a Powerpoint slide with a title that referred to “Post-COVID”.

    I was taking in the event via Zoom, so when the question period started, I put this in the Chat window:

    Regarding the term “post-COVID”: COVID is not over, no matter what many want to believe.

    It’s great to use lots of language about EDI, but how will vulnerable members of our community feel equal and included when our leaders reinforce a narrative that exposes them to harm?

    The HR minion moderating the meeting translated that into an innocuous softball about how leaders can promote EDI (!), which gave the candidate a chance to spew a bit more word salad.

    I pushed back – twice – in the Chat, stating that my question hadn’t been addressed.

    Finally, with the time almost over, the Provost gave a somewhat less garbled version of my question. The candidate quickly apologized for using “post-COVID”, adding that the WHO had said that the pandemic was over [not true of course; WHO said that the “emergency” was over]. They then thrashed around a bit, and spewed some stuff about how wearing masks was hard for some who are just learning English (?), adding that they wore a mask during their trip to get here, because they didn’t want to get sick [but of course not in the meeting room]. Then they closed with some random comments about how online learning could help vulnerable students participate.

    Next up today: the 2nd candidate.

    Retirement beckons irresistibly…

      1. Sub-Boreal

        Thanks for the thought! I’m being very careful, and now that classes are done for the winter semester, I can work mostly from home except when I need to do the odd chore in my office or lab.

        I just got my spring booster (Moderna) this morning, but am not going to relax any precautions. I’m mindful of the limitations on the degree of protection that the mRNA vaccines actually provide.

        More generally, as I told one of my former students: “Just remember that the world works like high school, and that will explain most of what goes on”. The Cool Kids have decided that they’re done with COVID, and it’s just a few Freaks & Geeks who still fret about it. Everyone else just falls into line.

        As a latecomer to academia after gigs in gov’t and consulting, the most disappointing part of my ~ 20 year time here has been seeing how having advanced degrees, even in sciences, made zero difference to the individual and collective responses to the pandemic. I feel good about many of my experiences in research and teaching, but I’m almost wishing that I’d retired 4 years ago so I didn’t have to see this. Just 3 1/2 more months …

    1. The Rev Kev

      Translation from Candidate 1:

      ‘I do not care who I get sick with Covid by following the WHO/CDC narrative that the Pandemic is over so long as I can further my career and can then move on to my next gig.’

  5. Carolinian

    Re CNN–weren’t they going to save a lot of money by dumping all those high priced cheeseballs like Anderson Cooper? I wonder how many of their audience agree with IM Doc above with further ratings sinkage..

  6. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment… Derailment(s).

    But first a word from a swamp-critter on the subject (I actually kinda like this guy, even though I don’t approve of his choice of professions, although he is certainly gaining first-hand experience in train-wrecks):

    ‘Same Sh*t, Different Day,’ Says Fetterman After Yet Another Norfolk Southern Derailment

    “It’s time to finally hold Norfolk Southern and the big rail companies accountable for the harm they have caused in East Palestine and Darlington Township, and the harm they continue to cause with this dangerous, reckless, and selfish behavior.”


    Train derails in Mason sending three railcars into creek

    A train traveling through Mason, Tennessee derailed at about 4:20 a.m. on Thursday, May 11, 2023.


    Train derailment in Millen along West Winthrope Avenue

    The main railroad crossing in the city of Millen was blocked earlier Thursday after a train derailment, according to the Jenkins County Sheriff’s Office.


    1. upstater

      I assume Fetterman still supports the amended Rail Safety Act he cosponsored that stripped out limitations of train length and retirement of DOT-111 tank cars (the bomb wagons involved in all recent incendiary derailments). Withdrawing support would be appropriate.

      Removal of these items neutered the bill. It never included ECP braking or on board sensors for bearings.

  7. skippy

    Beautiful photo … but argh … why do some paint beautiful timber houses with low sheen paint – !!!!!!

    Semi gloss protects better and gives at least 4 more years of paint life, especially on horizontal weather bearing surfaces. Low sheen is a fuzzy paint [light de-refraction] which holds dirt, breeding ground for paint eating mold and microbes, which not only effects the paint, but he timber under it.

    Then again all the old houses were originally painted in gloss oil base.

    1. ambrit

      A bit further South in Louisiana, we lived out in the sticks where there were tons of tung oil trees. This was one of the primary growing areas for that once invaluable paint ingredient. When I worked for the surveyor, we occasionally ran into rows of old and gnarly tung trees. Plantations grew a lot of things besides cotton.
      Stay antipodally safe!

      1. skippy

        Still don’t mind tung oil on some bare timber stuff, but the water base is getting really good, especially floor coatings. No more polys which breath VOC for months, floors redone and little kids sleep in closed rooms a week later = lead paint chips thingy.

        Actually did a Queenslander house not long ago and the cladding for the reno out back was done in pine weather boards, about 4 years before. Total failure of coatings years before warranty on paint. Seems it was never washed properly and some mold took hold in the pine before it was painted. Sanded back to bare and you could see how the pine was already being eaten by it, all happening from behind the paint.

        Anyhoo … we’ll be doing the 7th house on that street soon in just a few years from everyone that lives on it seeing the prep/paint work results.

        Don’t worry about me as I’m not dead yet and its not like stuff has tried …

        1. ambrit

          Do you wash siding with TSP? We used that a lot here in Ye North American Deep South.
          Glad you are keeping busy. No Devil’s Playground there.

          1. skippy

            We soak – everything – with a 4 to 1 ratio of water/chlorine and then power wash. TSP is a drama with Phosphate runoff/plant stress and requires more PPE. Chlorine is a salt so it puts a chemical etch on the old paint whilst both killing and bleaching all the nasty stuff.

            No Devil’s Playground – Ha … after work I’m repainting the new place to a level 4 job. New roller blinds, new lighting, sanding and coating the old pine floors. Using intergrain enviropro invisible floor finish. Water base, no sheen, 2 coat system, 4hr recoat, 12hr dry, and 7 days furniture back. Walls have eggshell texture and defuse the light so well they became just solid colour picked out between the ceilings and the gloss white skirts/baseboards. Sigh can’t relax at home when everything bangs me in the eyes, syndrome from work, constantly scanning everything during the day, different lighting angles and body position too it all. Then its crazy doggies time, everyone stares at them, asks to meet them, what kinda of dogs are they, especially Ralph – big black hair commercial that moves more like a lion.

            Don’t be concerned about little old me, having a great time post all the ex dramas and kids getting on with their lives …

  8. tevhatch

    The Bezzle: “Music Streaming Has a $2 Billion Fraud Problem That Goes Beyond AI”
    Not just Amazon… YouTube may be even worse, there are training siminars on how to use both platforms to do this sort of fraud advertising on the content they promote their trainees to rip off.

    1. Late Introvert

      Digital ads have been automated since the late 90s, I remember being tasked with inserting DoubleClick* code into all the web pages. No wonder it’s so easy to game.

      *pre-Google, and honestly this was one of the reasons I left the web developer trade, it was already getting super ugly back then

  9. Henry Moon Pie

    Carbon capture (or is it society capture?)–

    It’s nice to see a realistic article about carbon capture. Not only do we learn that the technology really hasn’t made much progress since the 70s, but we also find out why this technology keeps getting hauled out like it’s a magic solution.

    The article explains what happens to the captured carbon:

    The destination for all that captured carbon dioxide isn’t particularly green. Three-quarters of it is pumped underground to squeeze more oil out of a field 36 miles away operated by a different company—a solution that only adds to the problem of global greenhouse emissions.

    In the Permian Basin that straddles the Texas-New Mexico border, oil was first recovered using the natural pressure in the formation, the most dramatic example of which is the “gusher.” As the oil is recovered, the natural pressure drops, eventually to the point where this initial stage ends. At that point, roughly 90% of the oil remains. Oil companies then employ secondary recovery which injects water at high pressure into the formation to “wash” more of the oil out. The success of this process depends on many factors, but it’s a decent rule-of-thumb that water flood gets another 20% of the oil out, leaving 70% in the formation.

    At this point, tertiary recovery using CO2 under high pressure is injected into the wells. This was first done in the Permian basin using CO2 from a carbon capture project on natural gas power plants located right in the Permian Basin, but the amount of CO2 available was only enough for pilot projects. Shell and Mobil (remember them?) located and acquired the largest naturally occurring CO2 deposit called the McElmo Dome located in the Four Corners near Cortez, CO. In 1981, I was conducting litigation to acquire right-of-way for the billion-dollar Cortez Pipeline that brought the CO2 under high pressure from the Four Corners diagonally across New Mexico to Denver City, Texas in the middle of the Permian Basin. The pipeline was completed in 1982 (thanks to my stellar representation ;) ), and has been used for tertiary recovery ever since. By a very rough rule of thumb, somewhere between 40% and 50% of the CO2 originally contained in the McElmo Dome has been used. There are several other natural CO2 domes used in the United States, including the Bravo Dome, developed by Amoco in the 1980s and located closer to the Permian Basin than McElmo. All have been in use since the 80s and are in various states of depletion.

    So while carbon capture is being sold as “green” and a way to cut carbon emissions, it has been and continues to be a process that produces CO2 useful for already heavily tax favored tertiary recovery. As the article linked by Lambert notes, supporters of carbon capture are happy about some new tax breaks for the carbon capture process itself:

    Supporters say the rules, along with new federal tax credits, will help speed up the progress of carbon capture. Electric utilities have been reluctant to adopt the technology because it costs too much, not because it doesn’t work, according to Jay Duffy, litigation director for the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based environmental and research organization.

    So the real plan is to bribe utilities with tax credits to employ inefficient, energy intensive carbon capture so they can produce carbon to sell to oil companies to use in the ever-expanding tertiary recovery efforts in old oil fields as the naturally “captured” CO2 in McElemo and other domes is depleted.

    So guess what’s in Biden’s “Inflation Reduction Act,” the most wonderfulest, greenest legislation evah?

    The main policy encouraging carbon capture is called the 45Q tax credit. Mahmoud Abouelnaga, solutions fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said it’s had a limited effect. However, he said, the Inflation Reduction Act’s boost to the tax credit is changing that.

    “After the enhancement of 45Q, we have seen the announcement of so many projects all across the country,” he said, adding that carbon capture can work at scale if the infrastructure to move and store the carbon is there.

    Something’s been captured, but I don’t think it’s carbon.

    1. fjallstrom

      This way the Biden administration can blame the republicans. And he finally gets to cut (Biden whisper:) Medicare and Social security.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You may joke but I actually saw a video clip where he said precisely what you said in your second sentence and yes, he did use his Biden whisper in saying it.

  10. tevhatch

    Bloomberg Demands That Biden Meddle In Chad On The Pretext Of Averting A Sudanese Scenario
    Bloomberg is taking a page out of William R “Yellow Journalism” Hearst’s rags, using his bully pulpit to insist the USA interfere on behalf of his and his pals mining interest. This is much like Hearst went after Mexico’s Francisco I. Madero for reforms that put Hearst’s silver mines at risk (Madero, winner of the 1911 general election, was overthrown by a coup known as the Ten Tragic Days organized by Victoriano Huerta, Félix Díaz and the U.S. ambassador Henry L. Wilson. He was murdered two days later along with the vice president Pino).

  11. Hana M

    The all-cause mortality data is very difficult to parse since many confounding factors are at play. 1. Early mortality (2020) was influenced by p*** poor treatment choices like overuse of ventilators, remdesivir, and underuse of antibiotics in post intubation pneumonia. 2. Mortality was influenced by the lockdowns–for example in the UK there were more deaths at home than in hospital as people were advised to stay home and many avoided treatment for genuine emergencies like heart attacks; foregone cancer screening, missed routine doctor’s appointments also may have played a role. 3. Another lockdown casualty was general health–closed gyms, lack of outdoor exercise, loneliness, depression, loss of jobs (and loss of health insurance in the US), increased alcohol and drug consumption, weight gain, lack of friends and family checking up on the elderly. School closures were associated with increased suicidality among the young, undetected child abuse, street crime, etc. 4. Then came the vaccines with 1,000+% increases in VAERS and Yellow Card reports of adverse events and deaths. The vaccines also seem to increase risk of Covid reinfections in a dose-dependent manner (each dose is associated with more breakthrough infections). 5. Then came the ultimate breakthrough infection–Omicron which was super transmissible and completely evaded the vaccines. I do not think the long term fall-out from ill-thought out policies will resolve itself easily. The US saw an average pandemic era weight gain of over thirty pounds, along with the attendant plagues of diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, etc. So the excess deaths will be hard to avoid and are likely to be with us for a long time. I also think that these confounding variables make it nearly impossible to tease out causality in cases of the cluster of syndromes that people are describing as long covid–any one of the factors listed above could be causing or worsening post viral outcomes. Interpret everything with great caution.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Totally agree, but dead is dead. In clown world, there won’t be any analysis to try and muster a public health response. Just cover it up or cram it down a memory hole.

      For a darker take, extrapolate out the effects of sustained excess mortality for 5-10 years on the labor force, productivity, and economic “growth.” For extra credit, assume roughly an additional 5% of the population are permanently disabled, due to depression, hot vaccine lots, or any other of the confounding variables.

      1. JBird4049

        I am not anything like informed, but roughly 1% of the population might have already died from Covid directly or indirectly. Add the lowering birthrate. It might, possibly, cause a five or ten percent decrease of the population in a decade.

        It is something that will be impossible to stuff down that memory hole and people will have a good understanding of who the responsible people will be for this.

      2. Hana M

        I don’t think ‘dead is dead’ quite nails the coffin. The death of an eighty year old who has lived a long full life is just not the same as the death of a teenager or a child or a young mother or father or even someone in their mid-career prime working years. They are not the same economically as you very cogently point out, and, even more importantly, they don’t carry the same emotional charge. One of the startling facets of the rise in mortality is that since the first covid wave, the burden of death has skewed towards the younger cohorts.

  12. JBird4049

    Looking at the whole scene:

    a) The political, maybe literal, embalming of Joe Biden and Diane Feinstein including the elimination of the presidential debates as part of this.

    b) AI suddenly being supposedly effective enough to dispose of all the analytical workers, writers and artists of all types, as well as the crapification of Google into near uselessness.

    c) The slow collapse of transportation including all the major ground shippers like USPS, FedEx, and DHL, plus the airlines and rail.

    d) Finally, the collapsing healthcare in this country along with all the people mysteriously getting sick and dying or just suddenly drop dead.

    e) Although this has been an ongoing mess for over twenty years, I should add the increasingly brutal, increasingly well armed and armored police and prison guards, who increasingly beat, rob, or kill people while hiding or distorting the crime statistics, including their own, and the larger departments going on stealth strikes over the complaints and reforms caused by all this.

    I guess having an elite trying to run things all by themselves with no help from the people with the training, knowledge, and real skills to do, but would give answers that the Rule Class, and their Professional Managerial Class minions, would not want to hear, nor do. So, they don’t, hire or listen, that is. Then add that most of the political economy is a grift being run by grifters and I include the politicians, businesses, NGOs, sports, the police, including the whole security state, and even gigantic chunks of the religious leadership, who have no intention of actually running anything; aside from stealing everything, including the nails salvaged from the still smoking ruins they created, they are determined to block any reforms or positive changes to keep the parasitization going as long as possible.

    Infested by parasites who have decapitated and then blocked effective, ethical leadership, atomized the population, then slowly consume for profit all the parts of a working society, nation, or country. Community, religion, civic organizations, government and politics, transportation and communication, infrastructure as in roads, canals, bridges, dams, flood control, medicine, finally utilities including sewage, water, and food. They are all this while ignoring this slow collapse of everything including the population and the growing possibility of civil unrest or outright revolt, probably believing that the degraded security state, while impressive on paper, is increasingly violently, ineffective.

    1. some guy

      It looks like the upper class has decided to treat America as a “burn down” property . . . . as in, burn it down, grab the insurance money, and run.

      Only physically deleting them and all their supporters and helpers as a class will delay their “burn it down” timetable.

      1. JBird4049

        Just like I have no desire to vote for the Orange Menace, nor the Mummy, I have no desire for being any kind of participant for whatever cleansing there might be even as just a witness; the dummies that blather about hate or defiance while forcing people like into impossible situation, really, most of the American nation are just so gosh darn annoying.

        It is like they actually believe what they are saying, while thinking that nothing bad to them after shoving most people into a corner like a rat.

  13. WRH

    wait, are we seriously supposed to be surprised that the President is going to push through some major spending cuts that whack everyone but the top 10%?
    I suspect SS is on the table. Though likely not Medicare as the big insurers are miking that one too badly to cut it.

  14. playon

    A friend of mine asked ChatGPT to write song lyrics about ChatGPT in the style of “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.

    I heard you on my screen last night
    Words and thoughts that seemed just right
    Your voice was clear, your knowledge vast
    I knew right then, the future’s past

    ChatGPT killed the human star
    ChatGPT killed the human star

    In my mind and in my heart
    Your words have left a lasting mark
    A machine that knows what I need
    The human touch, we now concede

    ChatGPT killed the human star
    ChatGPT killed the human star

    And now we see what once was feared
    A world where robots roam and steer
    The future’s here, it’s plain to see
    A new age of technology

    ChatGPT killed the human star
    ChatGPT killed the human star

    We’ll miss the days of face-to-face
    And human touch and warm embrace
    But progress calls, and we must heed
    The age of machines, it’s what we need

    ChatGPT killed the human star
    ChatGPT killed the human star

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