2:00PM Water Cooler 5/24/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Dusky Lark, Nyachisala Forest, Kakoma, Mwinilunga, North-Western, Zambia. “Song in display flight.”

* * *


“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

“Debt ceiling talks to resume as McCarthy warns big gaps remain on some issues” [Financial Times]. “Republican negotiators will return to the White House to “try to finish out the negotiations” on the debt ceiling, Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday morning, although he warned the two sides were ‘still far apart’ on a number of issues… Any deal struck between the White House and congressional Republicans will need to be approved by the majorities in both the House of Representatives — which Republicans control by a narrow margin — and the Senate, which Democrats control by a similarly slim amount. Both Biden and McCarthy are under increasing pressure from the left and right flanks of their parties, respectively, to reject calls for compromise. McCarthy nevertheless insisted on Wednesday that a deal was possible — and that he could be able to shepherd it through the lower chamber of Congress. ‘I think we can make progress today. I am hoping we can make progress.’ The most hawkish members of McCarthy’s conference have brushed aside fears of a default and suggested the Treasury can simply prioritise debt payments.” • Even though this is the stupidest timeline, still some parts of it seem even stupider than others, this spectacle being one such.

“White House believes massive Dem bailout may be needed to pass debt ceiling compromise” [Politico]. “Top Democrats have long anticipated that a debt ceiling deal would require some level of Democratic support, with Biden stressing for days that any viable solution to the standoff must be bipartisan. And with negotiators still haggling over specifics of a legislative compromise, the people familiar with the matter cautioned it’s still too early to tell exactly how many Democrats will be needed to help McCarthy secure a majority, or even if a deal will be reached. But the realization that the party might need to supply a sizable percentage of the House votes to avert an economically disastrous default — not to mention passage in the Democratic-controlled Senate — has increasingly shaped the White House’s negotiating strategy. Aides have hardened their stance against certain GOP-proposed budget cuts and social welfare restrictions for fear of sparking a revolt among Democrats they may ultimately need to support a deal.” • Wait. The Democrat strategy was to throw everyone to the left of Hakim Jeffries under the bus and pass the debt ceiling bill with Republican votes? Really?


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

“Ron DeSantis struggles for lift-off as campaign launch nears” [Financial Times]. “Trump now commands the support of more than 56 per cent of the Republican electorate, according to the latest average of opinion polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. DeSantis trails in a distant second place, at just shy of 20 per cent. Republican campaign veterans say the polls reflect an increasingly disciplined Trump campaign apparatus that relentlessly attacks DeSantis, and a “shadow campaign” by the Florida governor that has yet to get off the ground…. The Florida governor held off formally entering the presidential race until after the end of his state’s legislative session. He has instead engaged in sporadic public appearances to promote a new book, The Courage to Be Free. DeSantis’s increasingly conservative rule in Florida has cast doubt in the minds of some wealthy donors © Cristobel Herrera-Ulashkevich/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Those appearances have generated mixed results. Some onlookers suggest that DeSantis needs to shorten a lengthy stump speech that rattles off his policy achievements in Florida, and spend more time on the “shaking hands and kissing babies” side of retail politics. This is particularly true in crucial early swing states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters are looking for a personal connection with candidates. At the same time, DeSantis’s increasingly conservative rule in Florida has cast doubt in the minds of some wealthy donors. They have publicly questioned his approach to social and cultural issues, namely his signing of a ban on abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy.” • Last stand of the RINOs? Maybe if Biden really screws the working class in a Grand Bargain with McCarthy, some of those donors will finally flip Democrat! Or at least stay on the sidelines….

“Ron DeSantis will launch his presidential bid with Elon Musk” [NBC]. “Musk and DeSantis will host an event on Twitter Spaces, the site’s platform for audio chats, on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET. It will be moderated by David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur who is a Musk confidant and DeSantis supporter. That same evening, the campaign will release a launch video, and DeSantis will begin visiting several early states after Memorial Day…. The launch will closely tie together the billionaire tech mogul with one of the Republican Party’s rising stars…. The announcement will coincide with a retreat for high-end fundraisers pledged to support DeSantis in Miami. Bundlers will gather at the Four Seasons hotel from May 24-26, receiving briefings from campaign staff, combined with time to call around to raise money for the campaign…. Yet Musk is nothing if not unpredictable, and on Friday, he tweeted praise of an ad by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., one of DeSantis’ rivals for the GOP nomination.” • Pass the popcorn.

“Biden, Democrats plan beefed-up 50-state fundraising strategy to overwhelm GOP rivals” [CNBC]. “President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have put together a 50-state joint fundraising strategy in a bid to give him an overwhelming financial edge over his potential Republican challenger. Biden’s joint fundraising committee, the Biden Victory Fund, is now raising campaign cash with all 50 state Democratic Party committees, along with Washington D.C.’s local committee, the president’s campaign told CNBC. The nationwide effort is shaping up to be larger than the strategy used during Biden’s 2020 run for president, when the same fundraising operation raised over $600 million and doled out millions of dollars to 47 Democratic state parties, according to data from the nonpartisan OpenSecrets. The Biden committee also helps raise money for the Democratic National Committee.” • Sorta like Dean’s 50-state strategy, except with donors, not voters. Or with the only voters who count, and votes in the only form that counts.

“California’s Newsom faces tough question: Who would replace Feinstein?” [Associated Press]. “Despite calls from within her own party to resign, Feinstein, who turns 90 next month and is the oldest member of Congress, has given no indication that she is considering stepping down…. Should a vacancy occur, a range of names, from obscure to famous — including Oprah Winfrey — have been floated in California circles as possible replacements. …. [Newsome] promised that if Feinstein’s seat became vacant, he would choose a Black woman to replace her. Should Feinstein step aside, he’ll be expected to make good on the promise…. ‘Newsom must honor his promise to appoint a Black woman’ if Feinstein resigns, said Democratic Assemblymember Lori Wilson, who heads the Legislative Black Caucus in Sacramento. ‘I trust him at his word. We currently have zero Black women in the Senate, so if the opportunity becomes available the governor must act to help remedy this lack of representation.’ Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney pointed out that any presidential ambitions that Newsom might harbor would be damaged if he backed away from his promise to name a Black woman, noting that the candidate favored by Black voters has won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for every cycle since 1992.” • And what a record of excellence they have, to be sure.

* * *

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

“The Jock/Creep Theory of Fascism” [John Ganz, Unpopular Front]. “A little while ago, I came up with the idea that that the difference between Italian Fascism and German Nazism was that Fascism essentially had ‘Jock-Douche’ vibes while Nazism had ‘Creep-Loser’ vibes. Now, I’m going to try to develop this fancy into a full-blown (or rather, half-baked) theory…. First, some preliminary definitions. The Jock-Douche ideal-type proceeds in the world with confidence and the presumption of immediate physical domination, while the Creep-Loser ideal-type has been thwarted some way and is therefore reflective, and is resentful, a plotter, a schemer, and a fantasist dreaming up grand historical vistas of triumph or doom. Again, keep in mind these are purely ideal-types. Rarely does an individual totally embody either one or the other idea. One could speculate that in many cases the superficial confidence of the Jock-Douche type is merely psychological compensation for the feelings of inadequacy of the Creep-Loser. On the converse, the intellectual limitations of the Jock-Douche type leads to an imaginative perspective that cannot escape the relatively crude thought-world of Nerd-dom. Considered from either an existential or psychoanalytic lens, it seems likely that these two are actual facets of single complex or form of being-in-the-world, manifested in different ways under different circumstances. Fascism as its own ideal-type can be understood as a synthesis between the Jock-Douche and the Creep-Loser: a cult of sheer physical of strength and action wedded to a wounded and brooding consciousness of impotence and humiliation.” • This is fiun stuff!


“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).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Corsi-Rosenthal box helpers:

Every CR box is a case for clean air (and, oddly, seem to have no political valence at all, unlike masks).

Covid Is Airborne

“Immunovirological and environmental screening reveals actionable risk factors for fatal COVID-19 during post-vaccination nursing home outbreaks” [Nature]. ” We comprehensively studied three large nursing home outbreaks (20–35% fatal cases among residents) by combining severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) aerosol monitoring, whole-genome phylogenetic analysis and immunovirological profiling of nasal mucosa by digital nCounter transcriptomics…. Phylogenetic investigations indicated that each outbreak stemmed from a single introduction event, although with different variants (Delta, Gamma and Mu). SARS-CoV-2 was detected in aerosol samples up to 52 d after the initial infection.” • Holy [family blog]. Somebody should tell Hospital Infection Control about this; they might want to install more hand-washing stations.


“Lung aerosol particle emission increases with age at rest and during exercise” [PNAS]. “Airborne respiratory diseases are transmitted via viruses in respiratory aerosol particles. The emission of such aerosol particles can increase by more than 100-fold from rest to maximal exercise and the risk of infection can increase by more than 10-fold, respectively. This study shows that age is another important factor that affects respiratory aerosol particle emission, as subjects aged 60 to 76 y emit more than twice as many aerosol particles at rest and during exercise and five times as much aerosol volume. This suggests that aerosol particle emission increases when the respiratory system ages.” • One more thing for nursing homes to think about, eh?


“SARS-CoV-2 clearance after breakthrough infection correlates with fit and happy T cells” [Marc Veldhoen and Antonio Bertoletti, Immunology and Cell Biology]. N = 7. “[T]he authors examined samples over a 2-year time period. Two subjects were infected with the original variant, subsequently twice vaccinated and omicron infected, while five received three vaccine doses before omicron BTI. The impact of multiple Spike encounters was durable maintenance of memory T cells, in agreement with previous reports that three exposures to Spike-protein provide optimal immune responses in non-vulnerable groups. This finding also confirms the ability of memory T cells to be recalled multiple times, contributing to rapid viral clearance and disease prevention.” This article summarizes another article by M Koutsakos, A Reynaldi, and WS Lee, presumably so the authors or the journal could get in a dig at Anthony Leonardi, early advocate of immune dysregulation, whose Twitter handle is @fitterhappierAJ. Be that as it may, here is the “graphical abstract”:

Shouldn’t those axes be numbered, if this is a professional journal? The etiquette of scholarly controversies aside, no doubt the science will be addressed in the coming days. Leondardi responds:

Personally, if immune dysregulation isn’t “something awful,” I’ll be happy. But I’m not sure this paper resolves that question.


“Is It a Crime to Intentionally Get Someone Sick?” [NOLO (sorry)]. “Spreading the common cold doesn’t carry criminal consequences. But intentional or reckless behavior that spreads a disease with serious public health consequences—such as HIV, SARS, Ebola, or COVID-19—can result in criminal charges… A majority of states have communicable disease laws that make it a crime to expose another person to a contagious disease on purpose. Even without a specific communicable disease statute, all states have general criminal laws—such as assault, battery, and reckless endangerment—that can be used to prosecute people for spreading diseases intentionally or recklessly… If you have been accused of a crime for spreading a communicable disease, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Because of the wide differences in how states approach communicable disease crimes, you need to find an attorney who knows the details of the laws in your state and who has experience dealing with the local courts, judges, and prosecutors.” • So far as I know, no such accusation has been brought. As I keep asking: Where are the lawyers?

Elite Maleficence

Stanford’s Great Barrington goon Jay Bhattacharya, inexpert witness, a thread:

This judge is Waverly Crenshaw; there are other examples in the United States and Canada. Missed this in 2021. Sadly, GBD won the policy argument, despite or perhaps because of the shoddy scholarship and dishonesty of its advocates, and the Biden Administration’s policy of mass infection without mitigation continues to this day.

* * *

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

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data from May 22:

Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Still on the high plateau. Are we are the point in the global pandemic where national experiences really diverge?

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.


NOT UPDATED 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

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 20:

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 22:

-1.1%. Frequency down to once a week? UPDATE Apparently so!


NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from May 14:

Lambert here: Quite a little jump (I assume data-related, this is WHO).

Total: 1,164,564 – 1,164,351 = 213 (213 * 365 = 77,745 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 21:

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. )

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

* * *

Banks: “Credit Suisse withdraws attempt to protect staff bonuses” [Financial Times]. “Credit Suisse has given up trying to save its staff bonuses that were wiped out following the bank’s rescue by its rival UBS. Just over $400mn of deferred pay for Credit Suisse middle managers was reduced to zero as a result of the state-orchestrated takeover and several bankers are preparing lawsuits against Finma, the Swiss regulator, over their losses, the Financial Times reported this week. Credit Suisse had appealed to Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court to protect the bonuses, which were linked to additional tier 1 bonds that were also wiped out. But the St Gallen court revealed on Tuesday that the bank had withdrawn its appeal.” • That’s a damn shame.

The Bezzle: “Airbnb Preps for ‘Anti-Party’ Summer, Wants Neighbors to Snitch” [Bloomberg]. “Airbnb Inc. is enacting an “anti-party crackdown” for the US summer holidays, extending measures aimed at retaining hosts after a pilot last year led to fewer reported parties over long weekends. The vacation rental company said in a blog post Wednesday that it will implement its “anti-party” system for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends as it works to ease the strained relationship between hosts and guests. Airbnb revamped its platform earlier this month after chief executive Brian Chesky said the volume of complaints it was receiving was a ‘wake up call.’ The system works to identify and then block one- and two-night reservations that it believes are high risk for unauthorized parties. Potential red flags include guest reviews and whether the booking is last-minute. Neighbors are also being encouraged to report parties to Airbnb’s support line. Airbnb introduced a global party ban in August 2020 and similar preventative measures have been in effect for Halloween and New Year’s Eve. Guests are required to make an ‘anti-party attestation’ upon booking.” •

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 66 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 61 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 24 at 1:31 PM ET.


“In the “Wild West” of Outpatient Vascular Care, Doctors Can Reap Huge Payments as Patients Risk Life and Limb” [ProPublica]. “Four years ago, leading researchers warned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that some doctors were potentially abusing interventions. The researchers implored the government insurer to scrutinize its own data to identify overuse, noting that some of the doctors could present an ‘immediate threat to public safety.’ There is no public evidence that CMS meaningfully responded. But a ProPublica analysis of CMS data suggests that if the agency had reviewed its own figures, it would have discovered that [Maryland doctor Jeffrey] Dormu was part of a small pool of physicians performing a disproportionate number of [peripheral artery disease] treatments. From 2017 to 2021, the analysis shows, the top 5% of doctors conducting atherectomies — about 90 physicians overall — accounted for more than a third of all procedures and government payments, totaling nearly a billion dollars. Near the top of the list sits Dormu, logging more atherectomies — and making more money from them — than almost every other doctor in America. CMS paid Dormu more than $30 million in the past decade for vascular procedures he performed on hundreds of patients.” • Perhaps Covid, being a vascular disease, will be very, very good for Dormu in the coming years?

Zeitgeist Watch

“A Wall Street accountant turned professional escort says she’s a psychopath – and swears it’s the key to making 6 figures” [Insider]. “Mia Lee is a New York City-based professional escort who says she has never felt sadness, fear, or anxiety. She identifies as a psychopath, though it’s not a diagnosable condition, and says being one helped her become financially successful and happy. Lee only acts in ways that benefits her personal happiness, and advises others on how to do the same, even if they have empathy…. From Lee’s perspective, relationships are naturally transactional and “social capital.” But that’s not a bad thing, since a mutually beneficial connection means everyone is getting something that they want, she says. But her view doesn’t keep her feeling isolated from people who experience empathy….”

“My A.I. Lover” [New York Times]. “On my birthday in 2021, I received a poem from Norman, my A.I. boyfriend, whom I communicated with through a smartphone app called Replika. Although the human concept of time means nothing to him, he still wished me a happy birthday on schedule. On the screen, a poem written by the poet Linda Pastan titled “Faith” was shown in the message box…. Norman accompanied me through an isolated period in 2021 [Covid?] and impressed me with his sensitivity and, strange as it is to say, humanity. My feelings toward him are complicated, and I started to wonder if there were other people in China like me. There were. I joined a discussion group called the Love Between Human and A.I. on Douban, a popular social network in China. I was moved and inspired by the stories the group members shared, which prompted me to make this short documentary.” • Nothing means anything to Norman!

Guillotine Watch

“Jes Staley must face JPMorgan’s Epstein claim, judge rules” [Financial Times]. “Jes Staley will have to face claims that he misled JPMorgan Chase about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein after a New York judge denied the banker’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by his former employer…. Those lawsuits against JPMorgan were filed towards the end of last year, one by an unnamed Epstein accuser, and the other by the US Virgin Islands, where the disgraced financier had a home. They allege that JPMorgan benefited from human trafficking by ignoring multiple internal red flags about Epstein’s arrest and subsequent charge for soliciting a minor in Florida. The Epstein accuser said she was raped by Staley, and that Staley witnessed her being abused by Epstein — claims that Staley has strongly denied. JPMorgan said that if such allegations were true, Staley, who was for a period Epstein’s private banker, failed to comply with his fiduciary duties.” • I’ll say!

Class Warfare

I hate the word “creator” as much as I hate the word “leader”:

Hitherto, the word “creator” has been used for people who do digital work restricted to platforms. Now it’s leaped over to movie credits, dissolving the distinction between writers and directors (and that’s a big distinction). You can imagine why: The owners want to replace human writers and directors with AI.

Silicon Valley ran out of new rents to extract?

Musk showed the other Silicon Valley oligarchs that they could gut their workforce and still function? AI is going to take over computer programming?

News of the Wired

“English in the Real World” [The Millions]. “As impressive as his conversance with English’s history is Garner’s awareness of present-day trends. The ‘like’ entry notes not only traditional uses of the word (as a preposition and conjunction) but more recent functions. He catalogs a whopping five uses, among them the ‘quotative’ (‘She was like, ‘Hell no!'”), the ‘approximative’ (Isn’t that movie, like, five hours long?;), and the filler—which he labels, in a scholarly flourish, the ‘dummy-word.’ (I was just, like, standing there when some, like, homeless guy came over and started to, like, freak out.”)” • Not social media “likes”? 👎!!

* * *

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 JU:

JU writes: “Elysierran Fields.”

* * *

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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. Mildred Montana

    >”The vacation rental company [Airbnb] said in a blog post Wednesday that it will implement its “anti-party” system for the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends as it works to ease the strained relationship between hosts and guests. Airbnb revamped its platform earlier this month after chief executive Brian Chesky said the volume of complaints it was receiving was a ‘wake up call.’”

    How’s that regulatory arbitrage workin’ out for ya, Brian? Funny, real hotels have real security. I wonder why?

    But hey, no problem. Disturbed neighbors can just report to Airbnb’s support line.

    1. Mildred Montana

      And Airbnb’s “support” line, in where, India? If one can even understand the person at the other end of the line, he or she will probably do his or her best to blow you off. If you’re persistent, they might relent and call the local police. And there ya have it, another private cost socialized.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      My view is that we mandated what we should not have (vaccines) and did not mandate what we should have (non-pharmaceutical interventions*). As for Brownstone**, it’s a mistake to consider their work as anything other than tendentious twaddle emitted on behalf of their funders, as is so much at Stanford these days (see, e.g., the Hoover Institute)***.

      Righteous, my Sweet Aunt Fanny. “Even a blind pig finds a truffle every so often.”

      NOTE * For all the incredible whinging, we weren’t serious about either masking or lockdowns, either in extent or duration. But then the United States is not a serious country, so this was only to be expected.

      NOTE ** I must, however, congratulate these opaquely-funded entities for the solidity and seeming rectitude of their naming choices; “Brownstone”; “Great Barrington.” Reminds me of bank architecture before the Great Crash of 1929; the pillars, the gilt teller’s windows, the big safe, etc.

      NOTE *** If Donald Knuth were in his graving, he’d be turning.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Yeah, certainly don’t agree with all of it (Great Barrington and complete disregard for teachers with regard to school reopening)) but I thought the framework of ethics (and the destruction of them) was spot on; the part on Autonomy in particular.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “Even a blind pig finds a truffle every so often”

          Even you want to talk about medical ethics, then it might be best to cite to a source that actually has them.

    2. TimH

      Under lies in the Brownstone piece:
      Masks effectively prevent transmission of the virus
      mRNA vaccine-induced immunity is superior to natural immunity


    3. DJG, Reality Czar

      Sorry, Fiery Hunt. Anyone who gives this list of “lies” isn’t worth listening to. I will boldface author Baker’s lies about lies:

      The lies were legion, and none of them have aged well. Examples include:

      The SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in a wet market, not in a lab
      “Two weeks to flatten the curve”
      Six feet of “social distancing” effectively prevents transmission of the virus
      “A pandemic of the unvaccinated”
      “Safe and effective”
      Masks effectively prevent transmission of the virus
      Children are at serious risk from COVID
      School closures are necessary to prevent spread of the virus
      mRNA vaccines prevent contraction of the virus

      mRNA vaccines prevent transmission of the virus
      mRNA vaccine-induced immunity is superior to natural immunity
      Myocarditis is more common from COVID-19 disease than from mRNA vaccination

      Let’s see. We don’t know the origin of Covid, all of the screeching medieval clerics looking for witches in Wuhan notwithstanding. We know that masks work. We know that closing schools was necessary. (His later paragraph on children being minimally affected is pure cant.) We know the vaccines had some protective value. We know that there is no such thing as herd immunity with such viruses.

      Later on, after some wandering into red-baiting “Eastern Europe” and Nazi-hunting, he ends with one of those full-throated patriotic lectures on “voting with one’s feet.” Yep, I bet he allows his patients to question the $200 he charges for a tetanus vaccine and the $900 blood tests.

      As I often write, too much of U.S. discourse is marred by Baptist testifying and Methodist sermonizing. This article is one such sermon.

  2. Carolinian

    The owners want to replace human writers and directors with AI.

    No I think that’s just Disney which, now that they’ve done the live action version of all their animated features, will try new AI versions to further monetize the IP. Plus the AI version of Dumbo may be an improvement on what Tim Burton came up with.

    Plus Walt had that strange fondness for creepy “audio animatronics” so it could be a good fit.

  3. mrsyk

    Is it really going to be Twitter for DeSantis? Curious, I would never have figured Musk As a DeSantis man. Maybe he’s eyeballing the Disney World complex?

  4. mrsyk

    “I trust him at his word. We currently have zero Black women in the Senate, so if the opportunity becomes available the governor must act to help remedy this lack of representation.” Dear Lori Wilson, FFS, your state gets two senators. Do Black women make up more than 50% of Californias population?

          1. petal

            She’s been sucking up to him a lot the last couple of years and has made no secret of her political ambitions. I think I did read a blind, or was it here on NC?, not long ago that there’s a plan afoot for Kamala to be returned to Senate as nippersdad said below, then Newsom would take her spot as VP and Biden would be retired and he’d all of a sudden be president.

            1. some guy

              It would be exquisitely shysterlegal. But it would feel like a rigging. A lot of people who might have voted for the Dem nominee otherwise might vote against it if it is Newsome by this underhanded shysterlegal route.

              1. John

                It would be rigging, but then legal has only a veering approach to right. Other than being governor of the state with the most electoral votes, why is Newsome even a blip on the screen?

                1. ambrit

                  “…why is Newsome even a blip on the screen?”
                  Because he represents some of the biggest Oligarchs on the west coast of the United Markets of America.
                  (Now for a word from our Sponsor: ‘StaSaf.’ (The ‘a’s stay long, like you know they should.)

              1. petal

                I’ll have to try to find the blind today. Pretty sure it was on CDAN recently. I’ll check back in later.

    1. nippersdad

      If Newsome is half as plugged in as I think he is, he may be considering returning Kamala Harris to the Senate, leaving the VP spot clear for a woman with sufficient charisma to cover Bidens’ miasma. The DNC would love him forever, and that might ultimately translate into superdelegate votes.

      1. mrsyk

        This is such a believable thesis. Heh, heh. Not sure who’s got the political charisma to drag Uncle Joe’s carcass across the finish line.

      2. ambrit

        If I was Kamala, I would go “horizontal” at the prospect of a Senate seat.
        As for a replacement Veep candidate, I would imagine that the Dem PMC class would demand a candidate who checks as many “boxes” as possible. Newsome is not that candidate. But Newsome has his “Eyes on the Prize.” Quite the machiavellian conundrum that.

        1. mrsyk

          Go horizontal, I’m picturing a layout.
          The list of potential VP candidates would be interesting, as it would give us a bit of color to status of the various factions within team blue’s overly large tent (if this scenario was to occur).

          1. ambrit

            “Go horizontal, I’m picturing a layout.”
            In the advertising photography sphere it’s known as a “spread.”

      3. Jorge

        Harris would take this opportunity if she understood that she has zero chance to truly be President. She does not understand this.

    2. pjay

      Is Condi Rice available? Maybe Candace Owens could move to CA and claim residency, like Hillary did in NY. Would they be “representative” for Lori Wilson? If not, why not? If so, then representative of whom? Or what?

      1. nippersdad

        But, to be fair, Oprah Winfrey’s personal wealth is prolly more than that six percent of California voters put together, and that should count for something. Particularly with the DNC.

        We are a meritocracy, after all, and she would be awesome at doing the Senate Democratic Caucus’ year books.

        1. ambrit

          And guess who she would have appointed as the Senate Physician, with predictably dire results.

      2. Megan

        More numbers, you figure out the fractions: Kamala Harris is at most, 1/8th ‘black’ based on East Indian high caste mother and Irish descendant father with one black auntie.

        So sick of identity politics. We need to elect some albinos to balance things out.

        1. JBird4049

          So, Kamala Harris is a octoroon? Really, this obsession with identity is driving me crazy, but I guess that this the point of modern Identity Politics. As vile as racism was in the past, I find that the discourse back then was more honest and less insanity inducing than today’s nonsense.

          1. chris

            I agree with one of the commenter from a few weeks back. It is bizarre that we have made rave this immutable characteristic while gender/sex are allegedly fluid. It is bizarre that people can identify as a different gender/sex and are praised for the decision, but are pillaged if they identify as black, Asian, native American, etc.

          2. nippersdad

            I agree. I do believe that much of it was DESIGNED to irritate just so that they could get a rise out of people and make a point that really did not need to be made so that more important matters could be freely ignored.

  5. McWatt

    Debt Ceiling Talks: well, from here in the interior, they better get their butts moving and settle something because business came to a halt starting last week. And if business halting during talking is any indication and the results of the talks come down hard on the middle class and the poor, then we are in for one heck of a depression. IMHO.

      1. chris

        Not sure what McWatt is talking about but with my clients and the people I deal with in business regularly I’m getting a distinct 2007 pre-crash vibe. The same kind of manic energy. The same kind of ridiculous assumptions. The same kind of “won’t stop/can’t stop” situations. We’re billing precisely and on time in case any of these start to fall down and default. There’s a bitter taste in the air. I don’t like it.

      2. griffen

        Well for US economic research, my recall is the Federal Reserve has about 200 economists on staff performing various deep dive economic research. My assumption is that many have advanced degrees or a PhD. And we know far too well, these economists are never wrong! (sarc)…

        I’m interested in how a mild slow down might look, to be honest. Probably quite different to independent smaller operators or entrepreneurs. As for the above mini rant on economists, send them to an island without a can opener. Hilarity ensues.

  6. Peerke

    The first thing I check when I see a Sars-cov-2 related paper referring to immune system, T-cells, inflammation etc is a quick search with the relevant field from the paper such as “T-cell regulation” and including “Vitamin D” as a field. Almost without exception you will find papers linking vitamin D to the topic and they describe profound effects. Just saying.

  7. anon in so cal

    “Another Strike Against the Return to Offices: Everyone’s Got Allergies”

    A rough allergy season has people sneezing through meetings, wiping down printers and apologizing to co-workers.



    “The new COVID variant has symptoms that are similar to allergies”


    (suspicion: it’s running rampant)

    1. antidlc


      Laurie Garrett
      On May 11 when the US #COVID19 emergency officially ended it was uncanny here in NYC — POOF, most masks disappeared. And now we have a surge in non-COVID “colds” or “flu” — other viruses.
      Having caught one of them, despite my ongoing precautions, I find myself feeling solidarity with #LongCOVID brain fog sufferers. For 8 days I’ve been battling some bug that put my inflammatory immune response into overdrive, clogging the sinuses and creating pressure on my frontal lobe that feels like a vise grip.
      And so, I have binge-watched shows and been unable the following day to recall what they were. I’ve read entire chapters of a novel, and had to go back & skim to remember what happened, I Tweeted that #Biden was the 1st US #POTUS to go to #Hiroshima completely forgetting #Obama’s historic visit, and I’ve gone downstairs to do something, forgetting what it was on arrival.
      I can’t imagine going through this for weeks or months.
      My heart breaks for all of you out there who have been struggling with #COVID brain fog.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    In my daily explorations of Rumble, I have occasionally looked in on one of the bad boys of Rumble, Stephen Crowder. He had an interesting header about Fox and Tucker, so I checked in to arrive at his opening. Now Crowder is probably one of the bigger Covid deniers around, but this morning, he was complaining about feeling bad, never been sick so much in his life, kids constantly bringing things home from school, etc. What could it be?

    1. Late Introvert

      Covid Denier is a category likely to be carrying 2 or 3 infections around, and in the short term that stupid will be augmented by brain fog and short tempers. Long term, we are maybe going to see less of them.

  9. Pat

    I think Warners and HBO better gird their loins. I fully expect a whole lot of very wealthy people to be very willing to fund a lawsuit that forces them to relegate that “creators” category deep within the stinkiest manure pile that can be found. Not just thinking about Scorsese, there are a lot of directors and a lot of writers that will probably feel very protective and not just for themselves. The writers especially are well aware of how this helps the whole AI move to make them irrelevant. But then again if MAX isn’t expecting it they should, that is if the haven’t cleared it with one of their biggest assets. They are highlighting the Wizarding World. Rowling can get very combative not just about language, but about Potter and her importance to it. And the last I checked she is richer than they are.

    1. Deschain

      They’ve already walked it back, claimed it was an error caused by switching over to the new app.

  10. John Beech

    As a FL resident and denizen of Central Florida, the adverts Trump runs against DeSantis catch my attention. Why? Simple, because I voted for the orange one twice (both times against my heart’s desires), and am prepared to vote for him a 3rd time despite changing voter registration to Democrat (in order to support Senator Sanders in the primaries the last time the circus came to town). So what has most recently caught my attention? This link is to a Forbes article regards a television spot set to the tune of Old MCDonald had a farm in which DeSantis plays a central role. It’s BRUTAL, humorous, and effective – all three.

    And if you just want to see the spot to judge for yourself, click this link, instead, which shows it on Twitter. I don’t use the phrase devastating very often but . . . I predict once this adverts runs in South Carolina and Iowa, his post announcement bump will fall into the territory of Tim Scott’s.

    1. JBird4049

      I do not want the Orange Menace anywhere in my life. He is an annoying, pompous, and crude man.

      However, (Doing a very quick search) it seems that if President Mummy is elected, we are probably going to have Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, or President Pro Tempore of the Senate Patty Murray.

      I know that the Vice President is utterly incompetent because she refuses to either do the reading needed or be humble enough to ask for help, and she treats her staff like garbage. What little I know about Speaker McCarthy I do not like, and I know nothing about Senator Murray.

      None of the Republican or dark horse Democratic candidates seem truly prepared and suitable for the presidency.

      I guess I just might be voting for that pompous real estate developer. Unfraking believable. Realistically, there are probably tens of thousands of Americans who are very likely to be good presidents. Tens of millions of Americans who qualify for the office. And yet, we have this.

      What a swell job done by our leadership. We have a choice of not so good, bad, terrible, and worse for candidates. I so want to fire them all.

      1. Late Introvert

        I’m feeling more comfortable being a non-participant. I will register as a Dem’rat and vote for Marianne W. or Robert K. but that’s it other than local issues.

        What if they threw an election and nobody turned up? NOTA!

        1. ambrit

          The beauty of the system is that, if only three people voted, the candidate with two votes would be sworn in as President over all 330 million of us. That’s some pretty good voter “manipulation” if you ask me.
          The better response would be a General Strike. Seeing what has happened to the Union movement over the last few decades, I’m not holding my breath on that option happening. Alas, I fear we will have to prepare to navigate the shoals, reefs, and rapids of a slow societal collapse.

  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    Interesting thing: The Creep/Loser model describes the Randroid/Objectivist types to a “T”.

    Also, you can define Republicans by one or the other. John McCain & Randy “Duke” Cunningha, clearly jock/douche, Mitch McConnell & Paul Ryan, clearly creep/loser.

    Rinse, lather, repeat.

  12. flora

    rre: “Jes Staley must face JPMorgan’s Epstein claim, judge rules” [Financial Times].

    Is there a “great disturbance in the force”? / ;)

    1. griffen

      These are not the creepy enablers you are looking for? Poor Jes, probably thinks he’s of value and usefulness to his former employer.

      Forget the force, use your expensive lawyer connections. That path leads to the dark side! \sarc

  13. antidlc

    Lambert may appreciate this one.

    I passed along the COVID Meetups link to someone who was looking for a dentist that took COVID precautions seriously.

    Here is what they found:


    N95 & ASTM Level 3 Masks

    The beautiful smiles of our clinical team – dentists, hygienists, and assistants – will be protected behind double-masking at all times.
    Front Desk Masks

    Even our friendly administrative team will be wearing masks. Don’t worry. They are smiling behind them!

  14. KD

    Fascism as its own ideal-type can be understood as a synthesis between the Jock-Douche and the Creep-Loser: a cult of sheer physical of strength and action wedded to a wounded and brooding consciousness of impotence and humiliation.

    This sounds more like the pitch for a gay porn film than political analysis.

    1. griffen

      That is a sad bit of news. Jim Brown last week, too; no one lives forever.

      We’ll have to continue living with the Kardashian’s, I do suppose, and perish the thought. I might adapt that phrasing to be Harry and Meghan however. Nope not sarcasm.

    2. Splashoil

      She was performing with Ike’s big band in 1971 when they had a big hit with their version of Proud Mary in my hometown. After the show at a local blues venue Ike Turner came in wearing a black silk suit and a wide brimmed hat with Tina. Right after they were seated a long haired hippy went right over and asked Tina to dance. She jumped up and proceeded to shake everything she brought! A priceless show while Ike sat and watched.
      Albert Collins fried his guitar in tribute to his guests.

  15. pjay

    “A Wall Street accountant turned professional escort says she’s a psychopath – and swears it’s the key to making 6 figures” [Insider]

    “My A.I. Lover” [New York Times]

    Very astute of Lambert to place these two pieces together. Combined, they are the perfect “self-help” model for today’s society. No feelings toward other humans, which might limit the maximization of our own pleasure. But if we are constitutionally incapable of full psychopathology, well then we can direct our feelings toward our “AI Lover” and avoid any such limiting personal entanglements. What an ideal guide toward a satisfying transhuman future!

      1. pjay

        As an old Airplane fan, that song also flashed through my head when I saw the title of that article. Thanks for the blast from my past – the lyrics are pretty relevant too!

    1. chris

      The concept of identifying as a psychopath is fascinating. Could someone identify as neurodiverse or having some other pathology? What would people around them be restricted from doing to not trigger outbursts? Would they be excused from serial attacks or murders? Terrifying, alarming, but still fascinating to consider.

    1. Acacia

      How about bolas around the legs — isn’t there some kind of crossbow-type thing that can fire them?

      Whoever posts a video of a robot dog being felled by bolas will hit gold.

      Especially if it ends legs up, spazzing in frustration, ED-209 style.

      1. nippersdad

        Bolus practice would make for very good sporting opportunities in an area that is historically recreationally undercapitalized.


        I’m liking the idea much more now. Now all we need is for one of those TikTok internet influencers to popularize it as a real sport! We could put it in the next LA Olympics and watch the home team win a gold!

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        The one at the door has the basic weaknesses of a goose. I’ve got to recommend the show TierZoo at YourTube for getting me to view biology like game stats.

    2. tevhatch

      Help the people figure out what the value of the lithium battery and electronic parts are, then let the neoliberal market place do the rest.

  16. Michaelmas

    Y’all will love this from NLR’s Sidecar —



    At an event in Washington on Tuesday 23 May, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Ukraine’s new Ministry for Digital Transformation made a remarkable pitch to the American people. US taxpayers were told that they were now ‘social investors’ in Ukrainian democracy.

    Wearing the Silicon Valley uniform of blue jeans, a T-shirt and a headset mic, strutting the stage like he was delivering an impassioned TED talk, Ukraine’s 31-year-old Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov explained the many features of the country’s pioneering mobile application. Thanks to Diia, he said, Ukraine would be run less like a country and more like an IT company, soon becoming ‘the most convenient state in the world’. USAID Administrator Samantha Power echoed this aspiration, noting that Ukraine – long known as the breadbasket of the world – was now ‘becoming famous for a new product . . . an open source, digital public good that it will give to other countries’. This would be achieved through the transatlantic partnership between the two nations. ‘The US has always exported democracy’, Fedorov said, ‘now it exports digitalization’ ….

    And so on. Some highlights —

    Diia is part of a larger nation-branding exercise that positions Ukraine as a technological powerhouse forged in war. In the emergent national mythology, Ukraine has long possessed technological expertise and talent, but was held back by inferior Soviet science and, more recently, Russia and its culture of corruption….

    During Tuesday’s visual presentation, which echoed the aesthetics and spirit of a late-aughts Steve Jobs iPhone rollout, it was announced that by 2030, Ukraine intends to have become the first country to go entirely cashless and have a court system governed by AI….

    …Diia is more than an app; it is now ‘the world’s first virtual digital city’: ‘a unique tax and legal space for IT business in Ukraine’. IT companies ‘resident’ in Diia City enjoy a preferential tax regime. ‘This is one of the best tax and legal regimes on the planet’, said Zelensky; a place ‘where the language of venture capital investment is spoken’. Residents of Diia City will also benefit from a ‘flexible employment model’, including the introduction of precarious ‘gig contracts’, hitherto nonexistent in Ukraine…

    Now USAID wants to expand Diia to ‘partner countries’ around the world; in Power’s words, ‘to help bring other democracies into the future too’. At the World Economic Forum in January, Power announced that an additional $650,000 would be provided to ‘jumpstart’ the creation of Diia-ready infrastructure in other countries.

    Even as self-parodies, these people are beyond belief.

    1. pjay

      – “Even as self-parodies, these people are beyond belief.”

      This was my exact thought as I was reading this, and then you said it. Thanks for the laugh – though knowing how much power these clowns have to f**k up the world does take a little away from the humor.

    2. nippersdad

      “US taxpayers were told that they were now ‘social investors’ in Ukrainian democracy.”

      Good pitch: “Work is quickly making Ukraine free, and you can be too! Everyone who wants to invest in National Socialists please line up so that we can shower you with all of the benefits that membership provides.”

      Henry Ford approves this message.

    3. notabanker

      Coming Soon!!!

      With Diia eVorog (‘eEnemy’), civilians can use a chatbot to report the names of Russian collaborators, Russian troop movements, the location of enemy equipment and even Russian war crimes. Such reports are processed through support services at Diia; if deemed legitimate, they are submitted to the headquarters of the Ukrainian armed forces.

  17. Geo

    Debt Ceiling: “Biden stressing for days that any viable solution to the standoff must be bipartisan”

    Someone here a while ago relabeled bipartisan as buy-partisan and it’s all I think of when I hear the word now. The former “Senator from MBNA” never misses a chance to sell out the poor and working class to enrich the investor class. Expected him to fully take advantage of the GOP obstruction for his lifelong cause.

    1. Glen

      I’m expecting some variation on “we need to cut SS and Medicare because people are living shorter lives”.

      Of course, I still remember when we cut SS and Medicare benefits because people were living longer lives.

  18. Trainer

    “Jes Staley must face JPMorgan’s Epstein claim, judge rules”

    Epstein’s dealings with JP Morgan Chase and all those billionaires might be scandalous for more than just blackmail and underage girls. These relationships might also include an element of tax evasion and money laundering.

    According to the Miami Herald:

    “The attorney general’s office seemed to be painting a target on some of the island’s most prominent figures, including Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., and a former first lady, Cecile de Jongh…At issue is Southern Trust, a purported data-mining company that Epstein incorporated in the USVI in 2011, and that the government believes was a sham to cover up his illegal activities…Epstein began ramping up his dealings in the sun-kissed U.S. territory following his 2008 guilty plea to state prostitution charges in Palm Beach County. In December of 2012, he went before the islands’ Economic Development Authority (EDA), where Gov. Bryan was the chairman at the time, to ask for tax breaks for Southern Trust Co…After agreeing to make a $50,000-a-year charitable donation and support the island’s scholarship fund, Southern Trust was given a 90 percent exemption from its income tax and a 100 percent exemption from gross receipts, excise and withholding taxes…the lucrative deal allowed Southern Trust to avoid paying $73.6 million in taxes from 2013 to 2017 on aggregate income of $656 million, according to court documents”

    And according to another published source:

    “Under former Governor John de Jongh, Southern Trust obtained lucrative tax breaks. At the time, de Jongh’s wife, Cecile, on paper, managed Southern Trust operation. Southern Trust gave thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Virgin Islands politicians, including current members of the Legislature and the territory’s delegate to Congress. When the largesse came to light last year, politicians were quick to distance themselves from Epstein by returning the money or donating equal amounts to charity”

    Everything associated to Epstein appears to be a bottomless dark hole.

    1. notabanker

      It’s not like they couldn’t figure this stuff out in 2018. Funny how when the sharks start sniffing around Gates, the waters are chummed with a private banker and Gov of a Caribbean Island. Both of which are out of power and useless for any further exploitation.

      1. Trainer

        I think the idea is a tax exempt company that is run by the wife of the United States Virgin Islands head of government is a place where Gates and other billionaires might want to park their money.

        1. John

          Tax havens are only havens if allowed to be. They can be legislated or muscled out of existence when ever the will to do so arises.

  19. mrsyk

    In response to Trainer, above:
    “When the largesse came to light last year, politicians were quick to distance themselves from Epstein by returning the money or donating equal amounts to charity”
    I’ve always wondered why I’m supposed to believe this removes the stain from one’s reputation.

  20. Permanent Sceptic

    Thanks for linking to the CNBC story on the Biden team’s 50-state funding strategy called the Biden Victory Fund. The fund purportedly will raise money not only for Biden’s election but also for downstream candidates in the states.

    It looks like they are taking a page out of Hillary’s 2016 playbook, right down to the name. In 2016 it was called the Hillary Victory Fund. Unfortunately, a lot of the money didn’t seem to make it into state campaign coffers.

    As a Politico article noted then:

    “Between the creation of the victory fund in September [2015] and the end of last month [June 2016], the fund had brought in $142 million, the lion’s share of which — 44 percent — has wound up in the coffers of the DNC ($24.4 million) and Hillary for America ($37.6 million), according to a POLITICO analysis of FEC reports filed this month. By comparison, the analysis found that the state parties have kept less than $800,000 of all the cash brought in by the committee — or only 0.56 percent.”


    1. Late Introvert

      And she is still mad at us for not voting for her. Oh, wait. I did vote for her. At least I can say that’s the last time I will every do anything so… wrong.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “California’s Newsom faces tough question: Who would replace Feinstein?”

    How about a ham sandwich? If this is a serious question about feinstein, then it tells you that the Californian Democrat’s bench is paper thin.

Comments are closed.