2:00PM Water Cooler 5/5/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

European Starling, Chez Cobbolds, Ille-et-Vilaine, Bretagne, France. “Song.”

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

Capitol Seizure


Biden Administration

“The job crunch hits the White House as Biden searches for a new pandemic czar” [Politico]. The deck: “They approached everyone.” Unsurprising. Those without integrity know they’ll get no support from Biden. Those with any shreds of remaining integrity are amazed and appalled by what Biden has done. And both must see the job as, well, a dead end. “A week before Biden is set to declare an end to the nation’s public health emergency and dissolve his current Covid team, the White House still hasn’t found a director to run the new office charged with keeping up the fight.” Ah, “fighting for.” More: “The fledgling Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response was intended to serve as a permanent command center for federal efforts to keep Covid under control, coordinate pandemic work across the government and guard against future public health threats…. The slow progress now threatens to dash Biden aides’ hopes of orchestrating a May 11 handoff from the current Covid team to the incoming pandemic preparedness chief, a way to reassure Americans that the White House is still closely monitoring the virus even as it dismantles its emergency response apparatus. It’s also alarmed outside public health experts who worry the Covid team’s dissolution will create a vacuum at the government’s highest levels, increasing the odds of strategic missteps and further diminishing political will in the White House and on Capitol Hill to continue the battle against Covid. While Congress authorized the creation of the new pandemic preparedness office late last year, it did not put any new funding behind it.” Oh, well done. More: “And in an ominous early sign, the White House office’s most immediate Covid goal — overseeing the development of next-generation vaccines — is tied to a $5 billion pot that health experts worry Congress could end up clawing back as part of a compromise deal on the debt ceiling. ‘So much of what they’re looking toward in terms of preparedness is through next-gen [vaccines],’ said Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and former Biden transition Covid adviser. ‘If we have a misstep in trying to get early work done for new vaccines then that’ll be a big challenge — and that again will fall back on being their responsibility.’ It all amounts to a job with few clear advantages — and all of the blame if Covid comes roaring back or the government is caught off-guard by a public health emergency once again.” • These are the adults in the room. They delivered a policy of mass infection without mitigation. Trump, with Operation Warp Speed, netted out better, and Biden squandered the temporary advantage Trump had won.


“Column: Despite accusations of rape and other crimes, Trump’s up in the polls. How can that be?” [Los Angeles Times]. “I guess it’s possible that Republicans really don’t care about Donald Trump’s run-ins with the law. Maybe, despite the numerous allegations, investigations and charges against him — for rape, for defamation, for seeking to subvert the 2020 election, for his role in the Jan. 6 assault, for falsifying records about hush money payments — he will maintain his position as the front-running GOP candidate and once again persuade his tens of millions of zealous supporters to vote for him. It’s a stunning and depressing display of the lowering of national expectations, a remarkable nadir we’ve reached, that a candidate accused of multiple criminal acts is a perfectly credible contender for the presidency. No sitting or former president has ever been charged with a crime until Trump. It’s one of his many historic firsts, along with being twice impeached.” Just out of curiosity: Whatever happened with that Bragg dude? The walls were closing in again, but then they weren’t. More: “It’s true, of course, that he hasn’t yet been convicted of anything.” • Oh.

“Asa Hutchinson: Donald Trump has led us astray” [CNN]. “We must no longer accept blatant bias and partisan bickering as the norm from politicians or media personalities. This starts by moving past the misguided notion that the media is an enemy of the state and the people, a falsehood perpetuated by certain Republican leaders, like Trump, in recent years.” • Quite right. The media is part of the State, as Taibbi shows this morning.

“What we know about the GOP’s big, vague claims about Biden ‘bribery'” [Axios]. “House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday subpoenaed the FBI for a June 2020 form called an FD-1023, which is used to memorialize interviews with sources and often includes unverified information. According to a whistleblower, the FD-1023 ‘describes an alleged criminal scheme involving’ Biden and a ‘foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions’ while he was vice president. The identity of the whistleblower and the foreign country allegedly involved have not been disclosed. Nor have any other details, including the year. The subpoena is also intended to uncover whether the FBI and Justice Department appropriately investigated any such allegation of bribery made by a source, according to the letter sent by Grassley and Comer.” • Let’s wait and see.

“The Senate map comes into sharper focus” [Politico]. “The launch of President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign and Donald Trump’s slow-bleed takedown of GOP rival Ron DeSantis has so far drowned out discussion about the other high-stakes political pursuit of 2024: the battle for the Senate. In short, Democrats are facing a brutal slog across the national map to hold their slim majority. The party is forced to defend 22 Senate seats (including the two independents who caucus with Democrats), while Republicans must defend just 11. And those Democratic-held seats aren’t exactly in optimal locations. Three are in red states that Trump won in 2020. Five more are in highly competitive swing states. No Republican incumbents are running in states that Biden won. Together, it explains why conventional wisdom holds that the GOP will recapture the Senate. But a lot has happened in recent weeks — and much of it is good news for Democrats. A handful of Democratic incumbents viewed as potential retirees in tough states have announced their intention to run for reelection. The prospect of messy Republican primaries — some featuring polarizing candidates who are likely to be weak general election nominees — has once again reared its head. Now comes the latest development: Colin Allred, a Dallas-area Democratic congressman, announced Wednesday his intention to challenge Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.” •

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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“How Rep. James Clyburn Protected His District at a Cost to Black Democrats” [Politico]. “As the [redistricting] process commenced, Clyburn had a problem: His once majority Black district had suffered a daunting exodus of residents since the last count. He wanted his seat to be made as safe as possible. Republicans understood the powerful Black Democrat could not be ignored, even though he came from the opposing party and had no official role in the state-level process. Fortunately for them, Clyburn, who is 82 and was recently reelected to his 16th term, had long ago made peace with the art of bartering…. The resulting map, finalized in January 2022, made Clyburn’s lock on power stronger than it might have been otherwise. A House of Representatives seat that Democrats held as recently as 2018 would become even more solid for the incumbent Republican. This came at a cost: Democrats now have virtually no shot of winning any congressional seat in South Carolina other than Clyburn’s, state political leaders on both sides of the aisle say.” • Your Black Misleadership Class in action!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“National Police Association and Other Groups Sue to Obtain Audrey Hale Manifesto” [Jonathan Turley]. “It is not uncommon for there to be a delay in the release of information in a major crime pending investigation. What was weird is that the police quickly confirmed that Hale acted alone and Hale was dead. There is no prosecution that will occur in the case. Yet, it is May and the authorities are still refusing to release the manifesto . . . and they will not fully explain why. Now, the National Police Association and other groups are suing to make the writings and other materials of mass shooter Audrey Hale public. There were twenty journals, five laptops, a suicide note, yearbooks, cellphones and various notes written by Hale, 28, that were seized from the house she shared with her parents. There have been press reports that the authorities consider the manifesto to be ‘astronomically dangerous.'” Yeah? Who decides that, and why? See Taibbi’s two stories in this morning’s links. More: “The Tennessee Public Records Act governs records created by any governmental entity of Tennessee, including the police department. The law covers all records ‘regardless of physical form or characteristic, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any governmental entity.’ Note the verb ‘received.’ That would include this evidence. Furthermore, ‘made’ would include emails addressing why authorities decided to withhold the documents. If these are public records they must ‘be open for personal inspection by any citizen of this state,’ and custodians cannot refuse access ‘unless otherwise provided by state law.’ There is an exception under Rule 16(a)(2) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure for ongoing investigations or prosecutions, but this case is clearly not active in the sense of any additional charges. Hale is dead. The law does not contemplate that the government can simply declare that a case is forever pending as a way to avoid disclosures. I do not know what is in the manifesto or why it is so unnerving for authorities. However, what is clearly ‘dangerous’ is for officials to flaunt the law and withhold information from the press and the public.” • What is this “law” of which you speak? Turley seems not to understand that we’ve been under a State of Exception since 2016.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Look for the Helpers

I’m filing this here because the account is a helper. This anecdote:

I don’t see many of the “bafflingly angry” in RL. But I see plenty of anecdote on Twitter, and they’re not bots. I don’t understand the psychology, individual or collective, at all.

Another anecdote from a helper:



“Masks Work. Distorting Science to Dispute the Evidence Doesn’t” [Scientific American]. “Medical assertions of exclusive ‘ownership’ over the science of masks when they are used during a pandemic ignore the fact that they represent a well-understood engineered solution, with decades of widespread and successful use behind them. Demands to reject this evidence reflect a failure to recognize and respect interdisciplinary expertise that has undercut the global pandemic response. Placing randomized trials above other types of research such as observational, lab and modeling studies, has interfered with the COVID response. A randomized trial approach that allows a few studies to cancel out a huge body of research from other disciplines has no basis in science…. For masks, are randomized trials an appropriate way of evaluating a basic engineered safety system in the first place? We don’t rely on such trials for seat belts, bike helmets or life jackets, and the oft-cited randomized trial of parachutes is an old running joke. Why is that so hilarious? What do the engineers know that doctors don’t? In many scientific disciplines randomized trial methods are fundamentally inappropriate—akin to using a scalpel to mow a lawn. If something can be directly measured or accurately and precisely modeled, there is no need for complex, inefficient trials that put participants at risk. Engineering, perhaps the most ‘real-world’ of disciplines, doesn’t conduct randomized trials. Its necessary knowledge is well-understood. Everything from highways to ventilation systems—everything that moves us, cleans our air and our water, and puts satellites into orbit—succeeds without needing them. This includes many medical devices. When failures like a plane crash or catastrophic bridge collapse do occur, they are recognized and systematically analyzed to ensure they don’t happen again. The contrast with the lack of attention paid to public health failures in this pandemic is stark.”

“How a pandemic measure is being exploited by criminals: security experts” [CTV]. “‘We are seeing a lot of people who are up to no good keeping masks on, and I’m sure it’s to aid in their ability to do what they want to do,’ said James Blight with Paladin Security. Last week in Richmond, two men wearing masks were caught on surveillance video trying to steal bags from patrons of a popular seafood restaurant. They were chased down by staff who managed to retrieve a stolen bag, but RCMP say the masked men have not been identified. ‘I think the normalization of the medical mask makes it very challenging, it adds to the anonymity that a thief can have when they want to do something criminal,’ said Blight.” • The next step, of course, would be to make masking a crime. Adams made some gestures toward that in New York, but it seems not to have taken. But these goons won’t stop trying.


“Viral persistence, reactivation, and mechanisms of long COVID” [eLife]. “An intriguing aspect of [post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC, or “Long Covid”] is the discovery of reactivation of latent viruses after SARS-CoV-2 infection…. It has been shown that EBV, a herpesvirus that infects a majority of individuals and is typically in a latent state, can be reactivated after SARS-CoV-2 infection…. There has been evidence of reactivation of other herpesviruses, including cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus 1, human herpesvirus 6, and human herpesvirus 7, in acute SARS-CoV-2 infection… Furthermore, some human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) have been associated with more severe acute SARS-CoV-2 infection…. Therefore, while a few herpesviruses are known to be reactivated in PASC and other viruses have been found to be upregulated in acute disease, identification of the full range of viral species or nonviral pathogens that can be reactivated or triggered has not been characterized… Specifically, what spectrum of viruses is reactivated in PASC? Also of interest is whether the timing of latent virus reactivation relative to symptomatic onset of PASC is relevant. Reactivation of latent viruses has been linked to the dysregulation of the host immune response during acute SARS-CoV-2 infection [i.e., Leonardi was right, at least at the 30,000-foot level, when nobody else was] that is, by disabling the host type I interferon response via autoantibodies (Acharya et al., 2020), resulting in decreased control of these latent pathogens.” • Ya know, “dysregulation” of the “immune response” bears an uncomfortable resemblance to “acquired” “immune” “deficiency” “syndrome.” #JustSaying

Elite Maleficence

“Covid-19 Global Health Emergency Is Over After Three Years” [Bloomberg]. “Covid-19 no longer constitutes a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said, lowering its alert level three years after the novel coronavirus began killing millions of people as it swept across the world. The WHO said Friday it’s time to transition to long-term management of the pandemic after a panel met Thursday to discuss the recent evolution of the disease. The move is largely symbolic, given that most countries have returned to normal social behaviors, relaxing lockdowns and masking guidelines while reopening borders to travel. Still, three years of emergency measures leave behind a world that would be unrecognizable to pre-pandemic observers in a multitude of ways, with Zoom calls and working from home becoming routine.” That’s not what I would choose as unrecognizably new, but whatever. More: “Tedros said he wouldn’t hesitate if necessary to reconvene an emergency committee if Covid-19 becomes a bigger global danger again. The US is preparing to end its public health emergency May 11 as Covid infections return to levels seen at the outbreak’s beginning in 2020.” • They aren’t at that level at all, as the charts that I am still able to publish daily show.

The slow strangulation of Covid data sources reminds me of the Promontory series that Yves did c. 2013, which in my recollection put the lid on any accountability for the banks in the foreclosure crisis:

The political class and their masters in the oligarchy have performed a pretty neat trick: First, they turned a collective problem into a problem of “personal risk assessment.” Then they denied us the data to make such assessment on any basis other than propaganda in the press. (Meanwhile, elites know perfectly well what the score is; that’s why Davos was #DavosSafe. That’s why the Newton, MA school system, where Walensky and Jha send their kids, decided to spend a million bucks on clean air. In 2020. They know what the score is; they just don’t want you to know. If I had the time, I should look where the GBD goons send their kids.)

Hospital Infection Control continues to whack patients (1):

(Sources here.)

Hospital Infection Control continues to whack patients (2): “New Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade Reveals Significant Increase in Healthcare-Associated Infections and Worsening Patient Experience During COVID-19 Pandemic” [Hospital Safety Grade]. “The average risk of three healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)— including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI)—spiked to a 5-year high in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic and remain high, according to The Leapfrog Group’s spring 2023 Hospital Safety Grade data, released today. The Safety Grades also show a continued decline in patient experience measures, which are reported by patients and correlated with patient outcomes…. “The dramatic spike in HAIs reported in this Safety Grade cycle should stop hospitals in their tracks—infections like these can be life or death for some patients,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. ‘We recognize the tremendous strain the pandemic put on hospitals and their workforce, but alarming findings like these indicate hospitals must recommit to patient safety and build more resilience.'” • Hospitals haven’t been committed to patient safety for some time.

Soviet-style psychiatry:

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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 4:

Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Indeed, a slight uptick. Let’s wait and see. A chart of past peaks:

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.

• Another way to think about “waves”:


From CDC, May 6, 2023. Here we go again:

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 April 29:

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


I think Walgreens is gone. I’ll remove it on Monday.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

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

Total: 1,162,403 – 1,161,935 = 468 (468 * 365 = 170,820 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published April 23:

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. )

• “COVID-19 Mortality Working Group – Excess mortality continues in January 2023, but with less non-COVID excess mortality than in 2022” [Actuaries Digital]. “Total excess mortality for the month of January 2023 is 8% (+1,100 deaths) i.e. there were 1,100 more deaths than would have been expected if the pandemic had not happened. Two-thirds of the excess mortality is due to deaths from COVID-19 (+760 deaths), with another +230 COVID-19 related deaths, and the remaining excess of +150 had no mention of COVID-19 on the death certificate. The proportion of excess deaths that are not from or related to COVID-19 was lower in January 2023 (13%) than we saw across 2022 (33%).” • Hmm. I’m not an excess deaths maven. Can readers comment?

Stats Watch

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The Bezzle: “Waymo doubles robotaxi service area in Phoenix in bid to grow driverless trips tenfold” [TechCrunch]. “Waymo is doubling its commercial robotaxi service area in the Phoenix metro area, an expansion that will add new suburbs and connect previously isolated sections of the sprawling and car-dependent desert city. The service area, which now includes Scottsdale, nearly all of Tempe and larger sections of Chandler and Mesa, is 180 square miles in size…. A larger service area, particularly one that allows for riders to take driverless Waymo vehicles from one suburb to downtown or to the airport, is critical for the company to grow its business and generate more revenue. The expansion will also help the company scale beyond the 10,000 autonomous trips that public riders take each week in Phoenix and San Francisco combined, Waymo Chief Product Officer Saswat Panigrahi said in a media briefing.” • 10,000 is a tiny, tiny number.

Tech: “Web3’s fake version of Web history” [Dave Karpf, The Future, Now and Then]. This is well worth a read, and properly situates the much-loved and long-lost blogosphere. From the conclusion: “Clearly Generative AI will figure into the Internet of the 2020s. Among the three competing visions of the next Internet, the AI proponents have emerged victorious. It’s too early to say what it will eventually look like. It is not too early to regulate how it is deployed and monetized. And, as a result, there’s a very real sense in which Web3 is already yesterday’s digital future. The crypto crash in 2022 silenced most of the Web3 hype bubble. You read much less about DAOs and play-to-earn games than you did a year or two ago. The tech journalists who spent early 2022 insisting ‘with all the money and talent in that space, there must be something real there’ have collectively reached the conclusion that it was scams all-the-way-down after all.” •

Manufacturing: “Overinflated: The Journey of a Humble Tire Reveals Why Prices Are Still So High” [ProPublica]. “The lowly tire shop, it turns out, may be one of the best places to examine the post-pandemic recovery and its uncertain future. Tires have been buffeted by nearly every force driving inflation since the pandemic began — from border shutdowns that prevented migrant workers overseas from reaching rubber plantations to the war in Ukraine’s toll on an obscure but essential ingredient in tires called carbon black. Americans depend on tires to get to work, to get groceries — essentially to live, in much of the country. But unlike food and gas, tires aren’t something people typically budget for… For most customers, a tire is — as one industry veteran put it — a ‘grudge purchase.’ They have little time to shop around and a huge information gap. ‘Consumers don’t really have a frame of reference on what a tire should cost, because you only buy them every few years,’ said Phillip Kane, a business consultant and former executive at Goodyear and Pirelli. Bill Wood, an economist who studies the plastics and rubber industries, was more blunt: ‘They can tell you it’s going to cost whatever it’s going to cost, and as long as it doesn’t sound like it’s made out of gold, you’re going to say, ‘OK.”Since the start of 2021, manufacturers have announced dozens of price increases, sometimes amounting to double-digit percentage hikes. Yet customers have continued buying.” • Well worth a read. I love this “industrial romance” stuff, there should be more of it.

Labor Market: “Jobs Report: Manufacturing Jobs Flat at Historically Low Unemployment” [Industry Week]. “Unemployment in and outside of manufacturing remained at historically low levels last month, according to the latest data from the Department of Labor. The latest Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.4% with approximately 250,000 new jobs added in April. Manufacturing jobs growth remained similarly flat, with 11,000 jobs added last month, though the manufacturing unemployment rate remained at a historic low of 2.8. That’s one-tenth of a percent lower than it was in March, but still one percentage point higher than its previous low point of December 2022, when it hit 1.8%. Almost all jobs added in manufacturing were in durable goods production, which made up 10,000 of new manufacturing jobs in April. The largest-growing sectors were transportation equipment and fabricated metal product manufacturing, which added 6,800 and 6,300 jobs, respectively.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 4 at 1:17 PM ET.


“US approves 1st vaccine for RSV after decades of attempts” [Associated Press]. “The U.S. approved the first vaccine for RSV on Wednesday, shots to protect older adults against a respiratory virus that’s most notorious for attacking babies but endangers their grandparents, too. The Food and Drug Administration decision makes GSK’s shot, called Arexvy, the first of several potential vaccines in the pipeline for RSV to be licensed anywhere. The move sets the stage for adults 60 and older to get vaccinated this fall — but first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must decide if every senior really needs RSV protection or only those considered at high risk from the respiratory syncytial virus. CDC’s advisers will debate that question in June. After decades of failure in the quest for an RSV vaccine, doctors are anxious to finally have something to offer — especially after a virus surge that strained hospitals last fall.” • At this point, I can’t help wondering if the timing is political, designed to restore the credibility lost through the failure of mRNA vaccines to be sterilizing, and their safety issues.

Our Famously Free Press

And they’re still at it:

(More here.)

Who cares about “confidence” if you’re getting the clicks?

I’m not so sure that Taibbi is right, here. The Times readership, I would urge, is if anything working hard to make their bubble impenetrable.

Guillotine Watch

“Why do we buy into ‘stealth wealth’ and the class who wear it?” [Guardian]. “‘Stealth wealth’ is the name given to the clothes worn by the extremely rich – very fine wools in navy or grey, oversized coats, tiny handbags, whites so bright they’re almost blue, a thousand shades of camel, a whole caravan of them, a palette that whispers “taste” with a little lisp. Logos are replaced with secret codes – a clever little stitch at the hem, or a hoodie made of cashmere. Woven through these merino wools and pale suedes are the codes and strappings of a life where the wrong type of collar, for example, betrays you as a gatecrasher, a fraud. For years now, the fashion press has monitored and marketed these clothes to the rest of us, frauds every last one, with the unspoken promise that if we spend the equivalent of the price of a car on our new jumper, we too might gain access to a world that doesn’t want us.” • William Gibson’s word for this kind of clothing is “simple.”

Class Warfare

“Writers strike looks to be a long fight, as Hollywood braces” [Associated Press]. “Hollywood writers picketing to preserve pay and job security outside major studios and streamers braced for a long fight at the outset of a strike that immediately forced late-night shows into hiatus, put other productions on pause and had the entire industry slowing its roll. The first Hollywood strike in 15 years commenced Tuesday as the 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America stopped working when their contract expired. The union is seeking higher minimum pay, more writers per show and less exclusivity on single projects, among other demands — all conditions it says have been diminished in the content boom of the streaming era…. The last Hollywood strike, from the same union in 2007 and 2008, took three months to resolve. With no talks or even plans to talk pending between the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents studios and productions companies, there is no telling how long writers will have to go without pay, or how many major productions will be delayed, shortened or scrapped.” • Same script as the rail strike and every other strike. Somehow, just giving the workers what they want in exchange for a speedy settlement is never an option…. 

“Unionizing Freelancers: What Recent Progress Means For The Self-Employed” [Forbes]. “The problem of unionizing freelancers is tricky because there are many different types of freelancers. Some freelancers shouldn’t actually be classified as freelancers, as they work 40 hours per week for the same organization. This problem, known as misclassification, is a massive issue because these misclassified workers should get benefits from their companies. Uber drivers, for instance, are not considered full-time Uber employees, and as such, do not have access to their healthcare…. Efforts to stop misclassification are underway in California, New Jersey, and New York, including offering a third category of employees known as ‘dependent contractors.’ Bernie Sanders has tried to introduce the Workplace Democracy Act to right some of the wrongs of the National Labor Relations Act, which allows companies not to offer benefits to independent contractors. The act—last introduced in 2018—would ensure that anyone who works for anyone else has some protections. Unfortunately, anywhere from 10-30% of workers are still misclassified as independent contractors.” • Outright theft.

From East Palestine:

Thanks for nothing, Norfolk Southern!

News of the Wired

“Train Panoramas” [Kottke.org]. “A piece of software called Trainbot can watch a piece of train track, detect passing trains, and then stitch together panoramic images of the full-length trains. The software for running your own trainbot is available on Github and ‘should work with any video4linux USB cam, or Raspberry Pi camera v3 modules.'” • Cool!

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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. ambrit

      With a video of the arrest. Full SWAT team action. Coming soon to a home or apartment near you.
      I’m convinced that the Ukraine is a Beta testing ground for the Neo-liberal social control methodology.
      Stay safe. Don’t answer the door.

    2. The Rev Kev

      And Zelensky can claim that it is nothing to do with him as he is not in country. Think that western leaders will press him on this issue?

  1. Martin Oline

    The final episode (#20) of Defragged History series The Eighty Years War started today at 2 PM EST. This has been a wonderful series and for those who have not seen it you can now binge watch all 20 episodes on YouTube which will take over twenty hours.
    Defragged History You Tube linky

  2. John

    Pandemic Preparedness: How do you prepare for a happening, an event, a calamity, an overwhelming disease the nature of which is unknown? Were I confronted with this conundrum, I would advocate the creation and sustenance of a vigorous public health system? I would consult with epidemiologists to get their views on measures to be prepared in general and their views, or best guesses, on what might be the nature of a future pandemic. But the 1918-1919 pandemic was the most recent happening, event, calamity, overwhelming disease of unknown origins and for which there was no defense until Covid-19. Having little remaining faith in this administration, I expect verbiage, PR; great steaming piles of verbiage and PR from the power point rangers and then … nothing.

    1. JBird4049

      The creation of institutions like the CDC at all levels of government is the reason why there was not any pandemic as bad as the 1918 pandemic aside from ones like AIDS. Diseases like malaria, yellow fever, and tuberculosis were common through most of American history. Polio, smallpox, rubella were only eradicated in the lifetime of the parents or grandparents of the latest generation. Three generations ago.

      Since those various institutions have been politicized, defunded, and corrupted, the return of not just epidemics, but pandemics, can be expected.

  3. ambrit

    I’m getting the feeling that the “something awful” we are all wondering about is a slow motion societal collapse. A few years ago I joked that someone should do a modern version of “The Decameron,” which was centred around the idea of the wealthy people and their minions escaping from the mass of society and wiling away the time in rustic isolation while waiting out the worst ravages of the Plague. Now I look up and see Enclaves for the wealthy quietly springing up in out of the way places. The old plagues went on for significant periods of time, often years. We might be at the beginning of this latest Plague, with years to run.
    The Jackpot people should be very careful that this exercise in population “rectification” doesn’t become a species population bottleneck.
    “The Old Ones were giants but they lost control of their appetites and thus as a just punishment the Gods humbled them.”

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Totally don’t want to be here when the current wealthy learn humility…

      Hey ambrit, totally off topic but you seem to know a bit about Mississippi…

      Anything thing you suggest making time to see or something not to be missed? Only have 2 days…

      1. ambrit

        That depends on what part of Mississippi you will be visiting. The State is a rectangle and a bit longer going North to South. We live in the Southern third, ie. the Gulf Coast and environs. The state really is like Ceasar’s Gaul, divided into three parts. The Northern third is similar to Tennessee and Kentucky. The middle third can best be described as America’s Third World Project Beta Testing Zone. The lower third, including the Gulf Coast region is a classic multi-cultural meltingpot. You’ll get Red necks, Black necks, Latinos, Acadians, the Rich (who seem to be the same wherever you encounter them,) and what we like to call the Neo-Carpetbaggers. The Coast and the Casinos attracted a slew of managerials and assorted hangers on. [Someone with the proper credentials has to separate the Marks from their money after all.]
        If you like inland fishing, this is a good place to do it. On the Coast, offshore fishing is still very good, despite BP’s best efforts to destroy the marine ecosystem. the seafood on the Coast is still excellent. Look for the smaller ‘Mom and Pop’ restaurants. I know from personal experience that a lot of the ‘chain’ places use frozen seafood. (Who knows where that lot came from.)
        Anyway, enjoy wherever you go.
        For the Mobile area, Mr. Zelnicker would be your best guide. Another regular here seems to live in the Memphis region, I believe Polar Socialist (sorry if I get that wrong.) There is also someone who comments occasionally who lives in the region south of Jackson, the capitol.
        If you go to Jackson, try and have a “local guide.” My reading is that Jackson is seriously dangerous now to visit. A significant segment of the population there lives in poverty. As an old sociology teacher once put it; “Crime is a rational response to externally imposed poverty.”

        1. Janie

          Polar Donkey is in Memphis. Polar Socialist is, I think, in northern Europe. Vicksburg is historic and interesting. I like Holly Springs for small town experience; Tupelo is Elvis. Fried catfish, hush puppies and cole slaw are typical and good; you’ll get grits in lieu of potatoes for breakfast. Learn to tolerate a slow pace of conversation. Oh, and Oxford…

          1. Janie

            PS. Relative was in Mississippi on business, ordered iced tea, took a sip and said you it’s got sugar in it. Waitress said if you wanted it unsweetened you should have ordered it that way. Just a little warning…

            1. ambrit

              People put tons of sugar in everything here. It’s no wonder we always ‘win’ the American Obesity Prize. We’re also pretty high up on the Diabetes Index. Alabama is presently #1 for that.

          2. ambrit

            Thanks for the correction. I remembered the Polar part, but wasn’t certain about the Socialist Donkey part.
            Right about Oxford and that whole upper east corner of the state. Corinth is an interesting little place. You can include the upper west part of Alabama, say to Muscle Shoals and Huntsville in with the Corinth “region.” All there partake of the Tennessee ‘feel.’
            If you are into America’s prehistory, there are numerous Pre-Colombian mound sites in Mississippi. It might be a bit soggy though. We have been having rain galore. The intact mound sites, Emerald being pretty much the biggest and best displayed, generally follow along the banks of the Mississippi River. Across the river in Louisiana are even more sites.
            See: http://trails.mdah.ms.gov/mmt/
            One caveat; as my Missouri situated brother-in-law once said: “These little towns are all the same.” So, as the immortal Knight advised; “Choose wisely.”
            One note of caution: avoid all the casinos. If you like gambling, go to Vegas. Mississippi casinos are cut rate versions of their big brothers and big sisters elsewhere. As I read somewhere once, the bulk of a casino’s revenue stream comes from the slot machines. The table games are mainly for show and to impart a false glamour to the entire tawdry exercise in regressive taxation.
            Somehow, though, I feel that you are beyond the allures of the flashing lights.
            Be safe and enjoy the local cuisine. As we have discovered, each mini-region has subtle variations in food. Hush puppies seem to be differently prepared from town to town. We have never figured it out.

          3. Fiery Hunt

            Thanks Janie!
            Looking for small town goodness…looking up Holly Springs when I get home…

        2. Fiery Hunt

          Thank you so much!
          Thought about bring my rod but don’t know if I’ll have time.
          Heading to Laurel than wandering!

          1. ambrit

            If you like pretty pictures, Laurel has an excellent small fine arts museum in the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art. This is it’s centennial year. It’s based around a private collection and is pretty interesting. The Museum itself is free to get in, (they ask for a few bucks but a lot of us don’t have the spare change and they don’t really mind too much,) and is situated on an older residential street just off of downtown. It’s really a big old style mansion that grew to house the collection.
            See: https://www.lrma.org/visit/
            Maps, sort of: https://mdot.ms.gov/documents/Planning/Maps/Scenic%20Byways/Mississippi%20Scenic%20Byways.pdf
            Mississippi is a fairly rural state. Expect to do a lot of “scenic” driving. Trees everywhere. Probably nothing like places like Montana or Wyoming, but then, they are on another continent compared to the Southeast.

          2. ambrit

            Addendum: If starting at Laurel, you can go west on state Highway 84 to the Mississippi and see Brookhaven and then Natchez. That will be a two and a half hour drive. Natchez is one of the oldest towns on the Mississippi river. Getting to Brookhaven you pass through several small towns: Collins, Prentiss, and Monticello. Once at Natchez, you can head south to the Empty Quarter of Mississippi, or north towards Vicksburg. Vicksburg has extensive Civil War history.
            East takes you to Waynesboro, which is pretty much a part of Alabama, East Coast Country.
            North takes you to Meridian, which is a questionable place. Pretty big with all of the charm of a decayed inner city without any of the redeeming cultural attractions, unless you like Naval Air Stations. Past that you enter Alabama. See East Coast Country.
            South takes you through Hattiesburg and on to the Gulf Coast. That’s a long drive with lots of trees. You drive through a big part of the De Soto National Forest, on a fairly well maintained WPA highway. From Laurel to the Gulf is a good two hour drive.
            WPA roads: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/28932104/wpa-addition-of-22-ft-north-bound/

            1. Fiery Hunt

              We’re landing in the Big Easy and headed up to Laurel from there.
              Big loop I think thru Natchez and back down..
              The Wifey’s dad came from Catahoula Parish.
              Scenic drives and seeing if we could make a living is what we’re looking for!

              1. Fiery Hunt

                Big Civil War buff and would love to see the site of the Seige
                Of Vicksburg…

                1. ambrit

                  A big trip. You will enjoy it.
                  Going north from N’Awlins, you can take the Interstate and meander through Pontchatoula, and then Hammond. Pontchatoula is a classic mix of New Country and quaint. (The downtown caters to the Boomer retro ethos.) Hammond is bigger with more of a New South feel. Up from there is McComb in southern Mississippi. It has some ‘quaintness’ to impart. West from McComb on 98 gets you to Natchez. (The alternate route from Baton Rouge to Natchez is back roads all the way. Get to Baton Rouge by driving straight north west from the New Orleans airport on Interstate 10, or, for the “backroads experience,” take the River Road north. [Give yourself plenty of time if you chose that route. Traffic is unpredictable on those two lane blacktops.] At 61, actually in Baton Rouge which is a pretty big place, go north.) Staying on 61 north will get you to Vicksburg. Catahoula Parish is just about thirty or so miles west of the Mississippi River in the vicinity of Natchez. Easy to get to Jonesville from Natchez.
                  Enjoy the trip!

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Nashville shooter’s manifesto–

    So there’s the theory that the manifesto contains accusations of sexual abuse by the shooter against the school she once attended and now attacked. Then there’s this in the article linked:

    Former police officer-turned author and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Joseph Giacalone said the public “has a right to know” what’s in the manifesto “even if it’s heavily redacted,” but believes authorities are worried about the effect releasing it could have.

    “I think what the FBI is really concerned here with, and I think law enforcement, is that if there is something in there that is truly damaging for the transgender community, I think they are hesitant to do it because they are afraid of a violent backlash against that protected class of people.”

    Remember that Tucker, in one of his less “evolved” moments, had a show about this and talked of a war against Christians waged by the transgender community. It’s a thing on the Right. So that would be tricky.

    1. Janeway

      So, if abuse was what caused this, vs. trying to start a militant war against the Right, you would expect that it would be released with redactions of names pending investigation. If it is a Christchurch shooter type rant, then I can see why there is much more hesitation to release it. Perhaps it is a bit of both.

    2. Geo

      That’s always been the problem with all this “war on…” framing. From a war on Christmas to straws to styrofoam to candy to whatever topic of the day is used to sell fear and pharmaceutical ads. Tell people enough that they’re at war and they’ll start to believe it. Fox has always been the top drama queen of “War On” hysterics but that mind disease has spread and now it’s everywhere.

      Sure, it’s a war on Christians. Why not? We can point out Jim David Adkisson shot up a Unitarian Church leaving behind a manifesto railing against liberals, Democrats, African Americans, and homosexuals, but he’s just a lone wolf. Dylan Roof shot up a black church and left a manifesto railing against blacks, Jews, and Latinos but again, lone wolf. And, I could go on listing these examples until the internet runs out of bytes to store the text.

      One thing they’re never portrayed as is part of the War on Christians even though they literally shot churches. Why? Because those crying about a war on Christians share many of the same views – the same enemies- as those guys.

      So, yeah, a trans person committed a mass shooting and potentially left a harmful manifesto. And now Fox and the right wing can cry about a war on those poor perpetually persecuted Christians. All trans people will be framed as degenerate satanist killers or whatever. And the manufactured wars will gain new recruits and acts of violence will escalate.

      Erich Fromm wrote decades ago about how the human desires to transcend through creation: birth, planting seeds, art, building, loving. But, when a person’s ability to create is stifled they are drawn to destruction as their form of transcendence. To take a life is to transcend beyond your own limitations.

      If we cannot recognize this is the stem of the violence we see all around us we’ll never change it. Too many lives are stifled from creating due to debt, isolation, corporatization, and so many other factors that they resort to destruction to find purpose and connect to something bigger than themselves.

      Fromm’s definition of evil was “Life turning against itself.” That is our news media. It is all outrage designed to keep us watching/buying through fear by turning us against each other. We wage the trivial wars they peddle us or sit by helpless to resist them.

      Even as a longtime trans friend and ally there are aspects of their current activism I find counterproductive and just plain wrong. But, this idea the right has latched on to that the trans community is a danger would be laughable if there weren’t such real world consequences for that community.

      The extreme example often used is Radio Rwanda. Obviously we aren’t anywhere near that but the tactics are similar and the people pushing culture wars for profit are the ones we should be most afraid of. These chickenhawk generals sitting in their multimillion dollar homes turning us against each other are carnival barkers and conmen. The fact that so many follow them is depressing.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Thanks for this, Geo. I was lucky enough to have a high school teacher who had us read Fromm’s The Sane Society. At a less lofty level, it’s getting a lot like the pink slime hate deluge in Ghostbusters II>

    3. FreeMarketApologist

      I tend to think this is mostly piffle, as many manifestos are, but maybe there’s some strong juju in those docs. She should have done a Ted Kaczynski, and sent the material to the Times and the Post. (and it would be a useful benchmark to see what they would do today, vs how they did in 1995).

  5. giantsquid

    Re: “Viral persistence, reactivation, and mechanisms of long COVID”

    AIDS and Covid-19 have at least two things in common: EBV reactivation and the development of autoimmune diseases.

    “Spectrum of autoimmune diseases associated with HIV infection seems to be unexpectedly wide, involving several organs, such as lungs (sarcoidosis), thyroid gland (Graves’ disease), liver (autoimmune hepatitis), connective tissue (systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, polyarteritis nodosa and other types of vasculitis, antiphospholipid syndrome) or hematopoietic system (autoimmune cytopenias).”


    “Autoimmune hemolytic anemia, immune thrombocytopenic purpura, autoimmune thyroid diseases, Kawasaki disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and the detection of autoantibodies are the cues to the discovery of the potential of COVID-19 in inducing autoimmunity.”


    HIV infections also lead to recurrent EBV reactivation.


    And EBV reactivation is associated with several autoimmune diseases.
    “Chronic or recurrent EBV infection of epithelial cells has been linked to systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren’s syndrome, whereas chronic/recurrent infection of B cells has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.”


  6. Jason Boxman

    On Overinflated: The Journey of a Humble Tire Reveals Why Prices Are Still So High

    Over the last century, however, chemists and engineers have fiddled with that formula to make tires more agile, more durable, more fuel-efficient, quieter, better at braking on slick roads and able to perform as well in extreme heat as extreme cold. “We ask tires to do conflicting things,” said Howard Colvin, a retired tire industry chemist who once led Goodyear’s polymer research group. When driving on the freeway, we want tires to have as little friction as possible. But when braking in emergencies, we want them to be able to endure as much friction as possible. “When you think about what we ask a tire to do,” Colvin said, “the fact that tires and tire engineering can do it, to me, it’s pretty remarkable.”

    They’re also laced with poisons; A study was posted here some years ago that actually successfully identified a specific chemical from tires that was poisoning creatures from highway runoff in CA somewhere. Tires are nasty stuff. Every road in America is a superfund site, honestly. Electric cars ain’t gonna solve that. Nor is green energy. Man made chems are poisoning the whole world, climate change or not.

  7. Tom Stone

    I think the “Something Awful” will be a whole shitload of immunosuppressed people dying in a big hurry.
    We should have 20MM or so with Long Covid by the time the next ‘Flu season starts and unless you have experienced being immunosuppressed yourself it’s hard to communicate just how vulnerable those people are.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Well, snap.

      that will wreck havoc with what’s left of the economy. Fewer tax donkeys, more disability claims.

      Go long disability claims law firms.

      1. JBird4049

        About those disability claims. The state and county level SSA offices that process the claims are underfunded, overwhelmed, and usually say no to any claim, which then has to be appealed at least once before being approved. Unless it is something really obvious like terminal brain cancer, people are known to die before approval.

        So lots of stories of homeless people dying from Long Covid is coming soon; before anyone says that will not happen, please be aware of all of the people theoretically qualified for SSDI or SSI living on the streets right now.

        1. ambrit

          Our Jackpot in Inaction! All Hail our glorious Leaders!
          Taking the history of the Pinkerton’s as guide, expect Homeland Security to be privatized any day now. Plausible deniability in spades!

    2. kareninca

      How do we know how many people are immunosuppressed? Do they test some random sample of Americans every year (I doubt it)? Is it part of a regular medical panel (beats me)? How do we know how many people have long covid? Can you have it without symptoms? I don’t see why not.

      A guy named Alex Meshkin (who owns a company that makes medical test kits) just asked his twitter readers if they wanted to be able to buy a ” at-home collection / self pay – CD4 + Lymphocytes (Helper T Cells) blood test? Unsure on pricing with shipping but less than $99 all in.”

      I’d buy one. Then I could know if I need to up my game even more when the flu comes through.

      1. Acacia

        I’d also like some better numbers on how many ppl have Long COVID, tho that seems to be another casualty of the “data? we don’t need no stinkin’ data!” attitude that’s sweeping the institutions that should be collecting it.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    You may recall the Guardian article about Jackson Lahmeyer, pastor of a charismatic church in Oklahoma, who heads Pastors for Trump. This is him being interviewed by Steve Bannon who spends a lot of his time on his War Room channel talking about religion. Yesterday, he interviewed a Kazakhstani Bishop Schneider about transhumanism and how Vatican II (1962) went too far. These are the Latin Mass folks who include the Chiefs’ placekicker, Harrison Butker, who headed to a retreat after his Super Bowl winning kick rather than Disneyland. (Couldn’t help working that in.)

  9. Carolinian

    Re Waymo–Should I make it back to Phoenix I’m going to follow this thing around–see if it acts goofy. My friend lives in the far reaches of Mesa.

    1. IM Doc

      Until such time that the CDC begins releasing every shed of granular detail in the data, there will be no trust from me or many of my colleagues. They immediately need to start releasing every bit of the data in every detail. That is the only way we will ever have to answer so many of the questions, warranted or not, that are swirling around. Until that is done, there will be no credibility no matter who is in charge.

      Sadly, it is not like this is a hard thing to ask for. Complete transparency has been their usual operation until the past several years.

      Until they do that, it will not matter who they put in charge. As St Paul said, they will be but a clanging gong.

      I fear the chances of any of this changing are zero.

      1. Carla

        As long as American medicine is for-profit, there will be no trust in it from me or many, perhaps most, of the people I know.

        For-profit “healthcare” has been a disaster for the American people.

      2. britzklieg

        “They immediately need to start releasing every bit of the data in every detail. That is the only way we will ever have to answer so many of the questions, warranted or not, that are swirling around. Until that is done, there will be no credibility no matter who is in charge.”

        Hear, hear!

  10. Geo

    “Democrats now have virtually no shot of winning any congressional seat in South Carolina”

    “Democrats make South Carolina first presidential primary voting state”

    Can we officially change their party name to the Washington Generals? Because they are truly just there to get dunked on and lose to the GOP Globetrotters.

    1. Pat

      I really want the general theme of commentary on the SC primary to be “Let’s get it out of the way since no Democrat will ever win South Carolina, and it’s only value would be to name the biggest Republican wannabe of those running.”

      That won’t happen, but hope springs eternal.

      1. Carolinian

        We had Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings as late as 2005 so the Dems didn’t completely disappear with the “Southern Strategy” and Nixon. But the 21st century Dems really seem to have given up on the state. Plus the business with Clyburn has taken place in several Southern states and not just here.

      2. Hepativore

        It also looks like Biden is all set to forfeit the willfully DNC-neglected primary of New Hampshire to either Marianne Williamson and RFK, two candidates that officially do not exist according to the cable media blackout.

        The DNC does not care if it wins or loses, as like the Washington Generals, they still get paid regardless, so it can flip the electorate the bird with impunity.

        I can almost respect the straightforward and honest malice of the Republicans by comparison at this point as opposed to the two-faced and backstabbing dysfunctionality of the Democrats.

    1. Jason Boxman

      The agency will continue to monitor pathogens in wastewater and to track coronavirus variants, including those infecting travelers. But officials will scale back the frequency of reporting on variants from weekly to biweekly, and will suspend state-level information on variant spread.

      So that’s about it for data sources. I guess I can forever assume that each day is more dangerous than the last, and I’ll never return to “society”. America is a sh1t place anyway.

  11. Objective Ace

    >This came at a cost: Democrats now have virtually no shot of winning any congressional seat in South Carolina other than Clyburn’s

    This is logically the case in every instance of gerrymandering. You increase the odds of winning x seat at the expense of other seats. Is there some non arbitrary (or arbitrary?) threshold where gerrymandering suddenly becomes “not beneficial” someone could explain to me?

    1. nippersmom

      The difference is, the party being gerrymandered out of viably contesting seats usually is not so overtly complicit in the gerrymandering process.

    2. IMOR

      Traditionally: You do it across a state when in control of the legislature to achieve a larger majority than you currently have. You’ll want a tw-three seat cushion in your margin to account for any disaffected members of your own party abused by the new map.
      The last 25 years: You have more in common with your fellow incumbents than any other people on earth, your ‘party’ amounts to one meeting a year and a bunch of tv created in D.C, and you don’t take positions 10% different from those of the other ‘party’ on anything truly important. So your only redistricting motive is incumbent protection.

  12. JBird4049

    >>> “I guess it’s possible that Republicans really don’t care about Donald Trump’s run-ins with the law. Maybe, despite the numerous allegations, investigations and charges against him

    Unlike the Democrats who are as pure as the driven snow? The Orange God is a menace to our society, but please, every time some faux Goody Two-Shoes starts with the now canned melodrama of His-Danger-to-Democracy™️, I have to wonder if I should vote for the Orange One; maybe, just maybe, instead of wagging their windburned fingers at all the Disposable Deplorables, the Democratic Party could make and keep promises that would improve the daily lives of the bottom half of the American nation. I know that I would vote for them.

    The Democratic Party does not show any cause for being less dangerous than the Republican Party aside from being burning society’s structure more slowly. Because of their participation in creating the American Security State, while uncreating everything else, which will make the Republicans more dangerous when they are in power, I could say that they are more dangerous.

    After all, anything done or created by one American political party has always been copied by another. The rule of law as well as the many rules, mores, and even habits that used to be followed in this country were not only for society to function, but for the protection of everyone in it. Without them, it is the rule of the gang lords, their gangs, and their guns. Just look or read any history or folklore. Too bad too many Americans are amazingly suicidally foolish.

  13. Pavel

    It’s a stunning and depressing display of the lowering of national expectations, a remarkable nadir we’ve reached, that a candidate accused of multiple criminal acts is a perfectly credible contender for the presidency. No sitting or former president has ever been charged with a crime until Trump.

    The true remarkable nadir we’ve reached is that Bill Clinton, G W Bush, and Barack Obama weren’t charged with war crimes. Just sayin’.

    Too late to charge Madeleine Albright, alas.

    (And of course Trump and now Biden are also guilty of same.)

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Being a criminal is now a requirement for politicians.

      See Epstein, blackmailing, etc.

    2. nippersmom

      One can only hope Ms. Albright is now burning in her “special place in hell”.

  14. skippy

    Thought this pertains to a whole lot of geopol centered in the South China Sea and Nations with in a thousand miles of it. Noted on it before in the past due to its massive financial implications and other economic matters. Largely ignored as its on the sea floor and out of sight out of mind thingy …

    The future of the internet depends on who controls the South China Sea


    In this age of digital capitalism those cables next to the biggest market on the orb are worth more than all the gold or any other single asset class including oil IMO …

    1. skippy

      Wellie I guess some don’t understand that we don’t live in an agrarian/artisan of the mysteries economy anymore … not to mention its a globalist market now having a proxy fight over who is going to shape it without any big flashes of light that would puts all the past moot ….

      Put it this way NC’ers …. in today’s reality these cables are imperative, more so than say a nordstream, due to the fact that whilst energy proceeds everything, the information and its flows for commerce and transactional flows is manifold that of energy in transactions.

      Just imagine a key highway, rail, airport, just got taken out and their was no alternative route, even if one could be sorted in some hours, days, weeks, months, the loss would be billions in hours and their goes your pension fund or market portfolio and then like foxes with tails on fire run through the fields and its endless back filling by gov’s without any productivity near or far …

  15. Stephen V

    A bandaid for the single-employer misclassified worker: talk to your Tax Person. Change that 1099NEC into a Substitute W2. Make sure to post 1099 and reverse it on Sch C to satisfy the machine.
    Can’t write off expenses but getting 1/2 SS “paid for” is sweet.
    IRIS has never questioned in 25 years. YMMV.

  16. Sub-Boreal

    I blew up at her. “WHY did you tell me that, knowing how I feel? I don’t want my therapist to think I’m nuts.”
    Her “I don’t think you’re nuts, but I think the isolation and loneliness is also very bad. I’m hoping you can learn to strike a balance.”
    [emphasis mine]

    Ever since an environmentalist friend clued me in, “balance” has been high on my (ever-growing) list of Words That Oughta Be Banned (as in, “we have to balance the environment with the economy”).

    It’s almost always used against subordinate forces by those in power or possessing some kind of entrenched historical advantage.

    It is typically employed when the subordinates are showing glimmers of success at getting a teeny nibble of the pie, like when there has been a public opinion shift that now favours protection of the last 5% of endangered old forests: “Hey, conservation is good, but we gotta show some balance here.”

    “B _ _ _ _ _ e” is one of those plastic words that always gets the warning light glowing on my BS detector.

  17. LawnDart

    Proving that “off the rails” makes for a timeless metaphor, and updated more frequently than covid stats, time again for the (almost) Daily Derailment:

    Railroad Tracks Back in Service After Wisconsin Derailment

    Thursday’s derailment in Crawford County involved two of the train’s three locomotives and 10 cars carrying a variety of freight, including paint and lithium-ion batteries, Kent said. Four railway employees received minor injuries.


    [I’m pretty sure this is a new one– they all feel like they’re blending into a single, seemingly endless train-wreck…]

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      In an indicator of how crazy the thinking is getting out there. I watched a few minutes of a podcast on Rumble that attributed all these derailments not to Precision Railroading but to immigrants coming up from the southern border. Of course, on the Right, there’s all kinds of “The Chinese are coming!” with respect to the border. Now I don’t doubt that some problematic individuals do enter the country that way, but coming with the goal of derailing trains?

  18. JBird4049

    >>>William Gibson’s word for this kind of clothing is “simple.”

    Reading about the £1,000 cashmere sweater was painful. I could buy a decent suit for that and have some tailoring done as well. Nothing top of the line. Certainly not Saville Row, but good.

    The article does point out that having bland, but expensive clothing with just the right bits of accouterment is just how the wealthy identify themselves.

    Thing is that there was a continuum of clothing fashion back when suits were it. But today, not so much, if for no other reason than that the class system has become evermore sharp with the shrinking number of haves hiding from the growing number of have-nots with their clothing going so bland as to have no taste, or style, just a bit of colorless camouflage.

    1. skippy

      Most of this sorta stuff has been going on since time immemorial. The crux of it all is the shops that create these items of distinction, be it done by a cutter from scratch or some long established haberdashery. All grounded in the knowledge of fine textiles and stitching by the consumers.

      On that note I have a few things I’ve saved from that past, in my life, per se a European athletic fit camel hair jacket with light tan swede elbow patches made in the early 80s. Break it out once in long while and get nothing but comments on it. Wear it with jeans, Onitsuka tiger tennis shoes or my old cowboy boots and a white fine cotton dress shirt. A jacket over 40 years old gets nothing, but, eyeballs and comments, now that I’m a house painter, even if a master painter, painting 100+ old grand Queenslanders its even more curious/absurd as it messes with peoples perceptions = tell me again what you used too do?

      People in consumerist societies are indoctrinated from birth and environment to be influenced by such adornments. Can’t put a number on how many times I’ve been in full business kit and received special treatment – yes sir et al and then be in beach gear another time and be treated as lower class deferment to the receptionist. Case in point, had lots of dealings with a big law firm in Century City Towers L.A. for a firm I worked for, access to their upper floors was secure.

      Anywho … in the cut suit it was like parting the waters so I would not be inconvenienced by the mundane systems used to keep the rabble in their place – yes MR XXXX, can I get you anything Mr. XXXX, right this way Mr. XXXX whilst they push the button for the private elevator to the private floors – I don’t have to sully my fingers on the buttons some unwashed might have befouled. Then on one occasion I was having a semi day off and then needed to drop off some revised legal documents and not keen to shower/dress into the garb for just hand delivering some papers, went au naturel, vintage 60s board shorts, topsiders, surf T-shirt and Revo sunglasses. Receptionist that knew me so well bailed me up hard as some low life delivery boy. Said I needed to hand deliver and got the no way no way jose treatment. Until I dropped the sunglasses down so she could see my eyes and face better = wow the look on her face ….

      This is all just Milgrams white coat stuff and it suxass to deal with it, but its there.

  19. VietnamVet

    This is a peculiar time, much like the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    USA politics, media and propaganda are completely detached from reality. Stock trading in more US regional banks is halted. Yet, Fed’s Jerome Powell says U.S. banking system is ‘sound and resilient’. Rochelle Walensky is resigning citing the end of the COVID pandemic. On the drone attacks on the Kremlin, John Kirby said “We had nothing to do with this” i.e. the proxy WWIII in Europe that keeps escalating. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Is at Its Lowest Level Since 1984. OPEC is raising its prices. Inflation isn’t finished. A war with China in Taiwan would destroy the global semi-conductor industry.

    The cause of all of the above, the collapse of the current global neo-liberal hegemon, is not being addressed because it means that the inequality, greed and violence of the current capitalistic system would have to be fixed by the restoration of the western democratic republics and the rule of law, a 75% income tax rate on oligarchs and corporations, jailing wealthy criminals, and acknowledging that this is a multi-polar world, once again.

    1. skippy

      Sniff I can remember the not long ago cries of the economic orthodox decrying they want the[their] wealth back aka we [????] won after WWII and to the victors go the spoils …

      Wipes tear from eyes for the good old days where after the GFC the Gov bailed out the miscreants that set it all up and then went too day spas with girls, blow, and bubbles …

      Must be why flexian Zman is such a hot international item for spreading freedom and democracy for the hopes and dreams of the clawing at the brass ring unwashed …

  20. The Rev Kev

    ‘Shay Stewart Bouley
    That’s what I’m thinking, people have emerged with levels of anger that are simply not normal.’

    Maybe it is because that people realize down under that they have been thrown to the wolves by their governments with the complicity of the medical establishment and with the help of business interests. All for ‘the good of the economy.’ Even their children have been thrown to the wolves as well and this was true within the first few months of the pandemic.

  21. some guy

    . . . ” They delivered a policy of mass infection without mitigation. Trump, with Operation Warp Speed, netted out better, and Biden squandered the temporary advantage Trump had won. ”

    Trump also supported mass infection as hard as he could ( ” herd immunity”, etc.) I don’t know whether “layered defense against airborne spread” would be considered “mitigation” or “containment” of the virus. If we choose to lable ” layered defense against airborne spread” as “mitigation”, then Trump opposed and obstructed mitigation as hard as he could. Trump initiated the condemnation and demonization of masks and mask-wearing, and the Biden Administration simply continued that Trump policy and made it their own. ( Fauci didn’t demonize mask wearing. He cynically lied about the non-effectiveness of mask wearing. But he did not call mask-wearing unAmerican and unFreedom and unManly, the way Trump and all his movement supporters and spokesfolks did.)

    The “vaccines” are elsewhere in these posts and threads admitted to be non-sterilizing and irrelevant to slowing spread. The one good thing they did was to make quick death less likely upon infection, and that is a good thing. But given that the Biden Team merely accelerated the policy of mass spread and anti-containment which they inherited from Trump, what is the reason for this line of Trump apologetics?

    1. Jason Boxman

      In this, you could say that Trump did net out better insofar as his administration did pursue a government funded vaccine moonshot. Biden ignored this successful approach, while proclaiming to care about the immunocompromised, poors, ethnic minorities, ect.

      Other than that, both administrations seem bend on casual murder.

    2. tegnost

      Biden claimed to trust the science and bring the adults back in charge, neither of which he did, and pointing out that trump did something is the low bar that biden couldn’t scale… not really an apology but rather a metric to measure against

      1. some guy

        Well, that is true.

        On the other hand, part of what Trump aggressively did was to aggressively and deliberately demonize masks among his fanbase, millions of whom made public health actions more difficult or eventually impossible in states where public health officials would have rather protected public health.
        Some of them have been driven out of the counties or even whole states they lived in by steady threats of violence.

        What Biden did to make that even worse was to work to demonize masks among all the PMC liberals and the Pink Pussy Hat Clintonites as well. So now mask-wearing is demonized among both team-spirit political-fanbase wings of society. And the rest of us get to live in the sewage lagoon of typhoid mary covid spreading started by Trump and extended by Biden.

        And so the Reality-Based Covid-Caution community is doing its best to keep its members safe and spread the knowledge to those around them who are not proudly clueproof.

        Does anyone really think a President Trump 2.0 would do an about-face from the anti-testing anti-masking anti-etc. pollcy of President Trump 1.0?

    1. Daryl

      Anyone remember the article from maybe a week back claiming the timeslot was the star and Carlson was replacable? Aged like milk, that one did…

    2. skippy

      Sorry mate but Carlson is just like all the rest before him, yet all are in it for the money, status, not to mention low information handicaps. You will never see a person on corp MSM these days stray too far from the narrative, anyone that does gets the flick and now your Jones.

      Will Carlson now substack et all and offer health well being products or smoothies – ????? – so life goes on for him and his ….

      1. Pat

        But does life go on for Fox? That is the question raised by the Rev’s link.

        Carlson was as you put it, straying from the narrative. You can of course make the case that he was reading the public better than his bosses and so strayed because of money, others can make the case that he honestly believes both in free speech and that much of what we are being told is false which he couldn’t let that go. Either way, he’s off Fox, but unlike in the past, not only did his former time slot drop in ratings significantly, the entire line up did. And for the week.

        It may not last, but right now it looks like Fox is on its way to CNN viewer levels. Which would mean Fox shot itself in the foot.

      2. The Rev Kev

        At this point in time, I would give nominal support to anybody who questions the narrative whether it be a Tucker Carlson,a Jimmy Door, a Aaron Maté or a Caitlin Johnstone. As for Fox shutting down Carlson, this is real Bud Light level thinking going on here. Total own goal. And I am a guy who would be quite happy to see Fox burned down to the ground.

        1. skippy

          A.Its a Business that is only interested in both market share and income streams full stop.

          B. Post liberal start is targeted marketing to the right wing sorts full stops = malleable.

          C. Moore in the day was popular to a angry social segment and still did prime time HBO because of ad eyeballs and revenue e.g. did not care because $$$$.

          D. don’t make me deploy Python Life of Brian stuff about it …

    3. SocalJimObjects

      Give it a couple of months. Maybe Tucker will come back to Fox with an even bigger paycheck and a super hefty signing bonus. Heck, since he will be holding all the cards, the Murdochs will have to give him some equity and he gets to name his producer, his cameraman, heck he basically gets the whole shebang.

      1. Acacia

        Has such a thing ever happened with the Murdochs before?

        Not a rhetorical question. Honestly, I don’t know.

  22. The Rev Kev

    ‘UAE Exotic FaIconry & Finance𓅃
    The case of Kitty Genovese, as the legend that started the so-called “bystander effect”, alleging that the more people witness a crime in broad daylight, the more everyone will refuse to help, was all made-up. It was a collaboration between the New York Times editor and the chief of the NYPD to manufacture a story of neighbors refusing to help in order to push people into the belief that the only thing that works is calling the cops’

    More gaslighting that probably had the effect of encouraging people not to help other people in need because the “bystander effect” was actually a thing.

  23. Late Introvert

    Here in Eastern Iowa there have been “Desantis For President” ads on the TV for the past 3 weeks now.

    We don’t have cable, this is a cheap deck antenna pulling in the local stations that still broadcast. We get ABC, CBS, NBC, IPTV and then about 30 even worse stations, with the occasional decent rerun.

    Having missed Colombo by being too young at the time, enjoying those.

  24. Earl Erland

    It’s always fantastic to Loop around Strethers’ Compendium. Syrinx. What looks like fingerprints turns out to be why we have ears and eyes. Thank you.

  25. Justin

    Walgreens updated their site on May 8. Take a look and include in future Watercoolers.

  26. tweeps will believe anything from an “influencer”

    “Soviet-style psychiatry:”

    Oh Soylent_Spring, forever an unreliable narrator.

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