2:00PM Water Cooler 5/9/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got a late start today. This should be enough to get you going; more soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Fiery-necked Nightjar, De Hoop Nature Reserve, Western Cape, South Africa. “Calling from bushes in the camp site by the vlei.”

* * *


“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

Hat tip to Stoller:

I only hope it’s not the kiss of death.

* * *

“Biden to meet with McCarthy, Jeffries, Schumer and McConnell on debt limit” [CBS]. “Mr. Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are gathering in the Oval Office at 4 p.m.”

“Deal or default? Biden, GOP must decide what’s on the table” [Associated Press]. “With the government at risk of being unable to meet its obligations as soon as June 1, raising the specter of economic chaos, Republicans are coming to the White House hoping to negotiate sweeping cuts to federal spending in exchange for allowing new borrowing to avoid default. Biden, on the other hand, is set to reinforce his opposition to allowing the country’s full faith and credit to be held “hostage” to negotiations — and to affirm his willingness to hold talks on the budget only after default is no longer a threat. The chasm between these opposite postures is fomenting uncertainty that is already roiling financial markets and threatens to turn into a tidal wave that swamps the country’s economy if not resolved.” • I just can’t get excited about this. The trainwreck is always avoided at the last minute. That said, there’s not much time:

“Fed’s Goolsbee Warns Debt-Limit Showdown Is Clouding Economic Outlook” [Bloomberg]. “Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Austan Goolsbee said a protracted showdown over the debt ceiling will make the Fed’s job much more difficult as it tries to assess the impact of bank-sector turmoil, which he said is leading to tighter credit conditions.” • Somehow I missed that Obama operative Goolsbee wormed his way into the Fed. What a freak show.


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

Christmas music in the stores on Halloween, but here we are…

* * *

“Biden Trails Trump as His Approval Rating Hits Low in ABC Poll” [Bloomberg]. “The percentage of those approving of Biden’s performance fell to 36%, six points lower than in February and a point off his previous low in early 2022, according to the survey conducted for the news organizations by Langer Research Associates. Some 56% disapproved of his performance, while 68% regarded Biden, at 80, as too old for another term. On the question of whom voters prefer for 2024, only 44% viewed Trump, 76, as too advanced in years. Participants also rated Trump’s physical health and mental acuity higher, and perceived the former president as having done a better job handling the economy when he was president than Biden has done in his term so far. When asked who they’d support in 2024, 44% said they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ vote for Trump, more than the 38% who said they’d do the same for Biden.”

“Kamala Harris Is Finding Her Stride as Team Biden’s Voice to Black Voters” [Bloomberg]. “‘The more she talked, the more passionate and fiery she got,’ said civil-rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton, who called her speech an ‘a-ha moment’ for an administration that lacked a reliable bond with the Black community. ‘All of us knew we were looking for something. She’s become that something.’ Harris is hitting some of her stride at a crucial moment as she and the president officially launch their reelection bid. Biden credits Black voters for his 2020 victory, with exit polls showing he carried 87% of the vote. But recent surveys reveal erosion in enthusiasm among the bloc, making it essential for Biden and Harris to bolster ties in the 18 months before the presidential election.”

“Trump’s weird weapon: Bad news” [Axios]. “Call it the Trump Law of Inverse Reactions: Everything that would seem to hurt the former president only makes him stronger…. This dynamic is similar to the stunning election of 2016… . For the first time in a long time, top Republicans and Democrats are telling us the same thing, in the same words — Trump looks impossible to beat for the Republican nomination…. Here’s another echo of 2016. Beltway and establishment Republicans are fantasizing that something magical will make Trump go away — instead of deploying a coordinated effort to supplant him.” • I’m looking at the seven bullet items of “things that would seem hurt” Trump — four court cases, one gaffe, and competition from other candidates — and ya know, it’s almost like there’s a lawfare campaign going on. Of course, this is domestic politics, so that would never happen. (Sharp-eyed readers will notice that there are seven items, but I list six. That’s because the normally reliable Axios editorial team didn’t catch that one of the bullet points was a dupe: “Faced rising competition from credible ’24 challengers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.” The Trump distortion field in action?

“Will Trump Prove to Be Another Romney?” [Wall Street Journal]. “So expect Team Biden to reuse the 2012 Democratic playbook. Like Mr. Biden, President Obama was vulnerable headed into his re-election campaign. His stimulus bill and Affordable Care Act had provoked the populist tea-party revolt. His campaign needed to change the contest from a referendum on Mr. Obama’s performance to a choice between an imperfect incumbent and an unacceptable challenger. The Obama high command quickly swung into action, blasting Mitt Romney well before he had won the long, contentious and costly nomination battle on April 24. Team Obama recognized that extolling Mr. Obama’s first-term record and outlining his vision for the future were insufficient. So on April 11, it opened up on Mr. Romney with an advertising blast depicting the former Massachusetts governor as a heartless plutocrat. Democrats kept this up for nearly seven months, pounding Mr. Romney as filthy rich, out-of-touch and indifferent to people’s everyday struggles—even as mistreating his dog. It worked.” • Trump doesn’t have a dog, does he? Anyhow, Romney did mistreat his dog. Animal abuse remains one of the few reliable markers for distinguishing a Republican from a Democrat.

“Five takeaways from Florida’s crucial 2023 legislative session” [The Hill]. “Wielding the power of newly minted supermajorities, state Republican lawmakers kicked off their annual session with a clear goal: deliver DeSantis a long list of policy wins that he can tout to GOP voters, both in Florida and nationally. For the most part, they accomplished that mission. Legislators approved multiple DeSantis-backed bills, including a measure allowing Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit, a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and a bill ending the unanimous jury requirement for death penalty recommendations.”

“Most Americans support anti-trans policies favored by GOP, poll shows” [WaPo]. “Clear majorities of Americans support restrictions affecting transgender children, a Washington Post-KFF poll finds, offering political jet fuel for Republicans in statehouses and Congress who are pushing measures restricting curriculum, sports participation and medical care. Most Americans don’t believe it’s even possible to be a gender that differs from that assigned at birth. A 57 percent majority of adults said a person’s gender is determined from the start, with 43 percent saying it can differ… And some Americans have become more conservative on these questions as Republicans have seized the issue and worked to promote new restrictions. The Pew Research Center found 60 percent last year saying one’s gender is determined by the sex assigned at birth, up from 54 percent in 2017.” • “Assigned”? As opposed to recognized? Discovered? Ascertained? I’m all for understanding power relations in medical care, as readers surely know, but at some point…. you’re bumping up against the uglies.

Republican Funhouse

“Lasch’s critique of “narcissism”: middlebrow pseudoscience for godless conservatives” [Carl Beijer]. “Contemporary political punditry is totally overrun with journalists and social media personalities psychoanalyzing each other — and almost all of it is complete bullshit… Here, I just want to take a moment to address one of the most persistent and idiotic cases of polipsych punditry in our discourse today: right-wing folks calling people “narcissists”, ostensibly in allusion to Christopher Lasch… matters here is that Lasch wrote a book called The Culture of Narcissism. CoN [ouch!] is probably best understood as an attempt to rehabilitate ordinary Protestant right ideas about the cultural consequences of godlessness for godless conservative elites. Critics who think this a simplification of Lasch have likely just simplified Protestant thought, which has a whole sophisticated theology on Luciferian pride and how the perversions of vanity and selfishness play out culturally and psychologically. Consciously or by osmosis, Lasch has plainly absorbed these ideas; his innovation is to try to rearticulate them through a quasi-Freudian, quasi-clinical lens of psychological narcissism. This angle is perfect for political pundits who want to play amateur psychologist — a good description of the author himself, who of course has no formal training or professional background in psychology. It’s also a good fit for influencers who want to pander to the Protestant right, but who find religious claims about sin and godlessness a little too passé. It is, finally, a good fit for the extremely lazy, because in its popular form Lasch’s theory has become a hammer that turns everything into a nail: everything my haters do is narcissism, the reigning psychopathology of our age. The basic problem here is that Lasch’s claim is just empirically incorrect. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the actual condition in question with all of its pathological psychodynamics and behavioral problems, is comically rare in the United States.” • I read CoN when it came out; it struck me as sloppily argued and discursive.

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.

* * *

“Nonprofits Involved in SF Corruption Scandal Revealed in Unsealed Filings” [The San Francisco Standard] (“financed by Michael Moritz, a general partner at Sequoia Capital”). “Two nonprofits that San Francisco has awarded millions in funding have been directly linked to the corruption scandal surrounding former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru for the first time, in a newly unsealed plea agreement. In the agreement, signed in 2021, former Recology executive Paul Giusti admits that he sought to influence Nuru’s official actions by directing payments from the waste company to both the Clean City Coalition and the Asian Pacific American Community Center. Federal prosecutors moved to unseal the agreement in February, and the filing was later referenced as part of the case against another Recology executive charged in the scandal, John Porter. The revelations of the involvement of the two nonprofits—which have active city contracts worth about $7.5 million combined—come after Porter pleaded guilty Tuesday to a fraud conspiracy charge. Porter, an ex-Recology vice president, admitted that he conspired to bribe Nuru, including with $55,000 in payments concealed as donations for needy children that were used to throw holiday parties for Nuru’s friends, workers and political supporters, prosecutors said.”

Wonderfully clarifying:

Emily Oster was the very first recipient of our Sociopath of the Day award!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“For Saner Politics, Try Stronger Parties” [Wall Street Journal]. “Today, the movement to weaken the national party structures that began in 1968 has reached its logical result: The power of the two national party organizations has declined so dramatically that they sometimes appear to be bystanders to a political system in which they were once.” • Any Democrat who experienced either 2016 or 2020 knows that’s just not so.

“Americans Need to Acknowledge Their Unwritten Constitution” [Foreign Policy]. “Politico Magazine recently published a guide to etiquette for life in the District of Columbia. One of the rules went well beyond simple etiquette, highlighting a provision of America’s unwritten Constitution: ‘If someone has ever been elected or appointed to anything, ever, they are to be addressed by that title going forward—a requirement that does not expire at death.’… Take the rule at hand. The title of nobility clause in Article 1, Section 9 of the written text states: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.’ But what are titles like ambassador, general, president, and senator—used for life and not just to indicate a temporary appointment—if not titles of nobility? It is not just Politico readers who use them: The federal government does, too. It is the U.S. equivalent of a life peerage, a British noble rank that is not hereditary. And it does not stop there…. This formalization of aristocratic cultural traits matters, of course. The creation of a permanent ruling class runs directly counter to the spirit of the example famously set by George Washington. It perpetuates hierarchy without accountability or responsibility. ” • Interesting article, almost as if written by an anthropologist. But it’s certainly odd to hear a conservative arguing aagainst the formalization of aristocratic traits.” Maybe they’re not unhappy with the idea of a Norms Fairy as such, just this particular Norms Fairy?

“Berkeley professor apologizes for false Indigenous identity” [Associated Press]. • False? The professor “identified as.” Don’t we have to take them at their word?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

Look for the Helpers

In reaction to MGH eliminating masking:

Available for download here. Marketing mavens, what do you think of this collateral?

Covid Is Airborne

“Book Review: Healthy Buildings” [Construction Physics (Carolinian)]. “The basic argument of Healthy Buildings is simple. Modern society has created a large number of rules to protect the environment, both because we think the environment is valuable in itself, but also because we realize that a dirty, polluted environment can negatively impact people’s health. Clean air regulations such as the Clean Air Act, for instance, were created largely as public health measures…. But people spend nearly all their time indoors. Americans spend 90% or more of their time indoors… Allen and Macomber go through a variety of ways that indoor spaces can negatively impact health. The largest, most important one is ventilation and air quality. Current ventilation standards (such as ASHRAE 62.1 and 62.2), consider occupant health (along with comfort), and are designed to minimize pollutant concentrations, but they (according to Allen and Macomber) don’t go far enough. They also don’t include considerations for things like minimizing airborne pathogens. And standards such as 62.1 and 62.2 are design standards – they stipulate what ventilation performance should be achieved at the time of construction, but there’s little in the way to ensure that this is achieved during actual operation. In practice, buildings often have ventilation rates and measures of air quality that are substantially below design requirements.” • Good work, even if co-author Joseph Allen went completely round the twist, as an anti-masker.


“Empathising with masked targets: limited side effects of face masks on empathy for dynamic, context-rich stimuli.” [Cognition and Emotion (square coats)]. “Recent research suggests that face masks undermine observers’ ability to correctly identify emotions in faces that are partially covered by a face mask. Nearly all these studies used still images of target faces. However, such images represent a rather decontextualised way of perceiving affective responses and preclude the investigation of emotional (as compared to cognitive) components of empathy. In our study, we examined whether face mask effects would hold once the presentation mode was changed to observing film clips of people talking about autobiographical events, and whether such effects would extend to emotional components of empathy (i.e. emotional congruence and sympathy). Our findings indicate that under these more ecologically valid conditions, face masks do not have an effect on empathic accuracy and emotional congruence. Face masks also did not shift empathic motives related to affiliation and cognitive effort. Covering the face by either a mask or by a black bar did, however, reduce feelings of sympathy for the target persons.” • Hmm.


“Direct SARS-CoV-2 infection of the human inner ear may underlie COVID-19-associated audiovestibular dysfunction” [Nature]. “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. A growing number of sensory symptoms have been linked to this illness. Here, we describe patients with COVID-19 and new-onset of hearing loss, tinnitus and/or dizziness. To examine the underlying molecular mechanisms of these symptoms, we studied human and mouse inner ear tissue. We also generated some of the first human cellular models of infectious inner ear disease. We show that human and mouse inner ear cells have the molecular machinery to allow SARS-CoV-2 entry. We further show that SARS-CoV-2 can infect specific human inner ear cell types. Our findings suggest that inner ear infection may underlie COVID-19-associated problems with hearing and balance.” • And speaking of hearing:

Readers will recall that communications difficulties for the hard of hearing were one of the excuses MGH’s Erica Shenoy gave for dropping universal masking.

Brain damage anecdotes:

Elite Maleficence

“We Want Them Infected” [bioethics today]. “During a raging pandemic with a brand-new virus, influential doctors from prominent universities advocated for the mass infection of unvaccinated youth in the failed hopes of achieving herd immunity. In an effort to unpack this physician-led misinformation disaster, I recently published a book titled ‘We Want Them Infected.‘ I catalog how vocal physicians from prominent universities embraced the anti-vaccine movement in the failed quest for herd immunity and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID. The book title’s four words, we want them infected, come not from some random crackpot, but from Dr. Paul Alexander, an epidemiologist and official in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration. On July 4, 2020, before anyone had been vaccinated, he said: “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle-aged with no conditions, etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd [immunity]…we want them infected….” Dr. Alexander avoided euphemisms and spoke in plain language. His stated plan was to use unvaccinated young people as human shields to open everything up and ‘protect the vulnerable’ via ‘natural immunity.'” • IIRC, Fauci was for “herd immunity” too — and kept moving the goalposts for the percent of the population that needed to be infected to achieve it.

On that noxious and offensive “living in fear” trope:

“Living in fear” really ought to be classified as “fighting words.” I’m so sick of it (not literally, fortunately).

* * *

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 8:

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

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.


NOT UPDATED 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.


Lambert here: Walgreens is back up (hat tip, alert reader ChrisRUEcon). Hoorary! (I assume this also means you can still get test kits at Walgreens. It looks like you can order free test kits until May 11. What happens after that is not clear to me. Readers? (I would also be very happy if the site continued live after May 11.)

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


Death rate (Our World in Data):

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

Total: 1,162,471 – 1,162,403 = 68 (68 * 365 = 24,820 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

Excess deaths (The Economist), published May 9:

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

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

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

Mortality Watch (fjallstrom):

US Mortality (aleric):

Stats Watch

Business Optimism: “United States NFIB Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States fell to 89 in April of 2023, the lowest since January of 2013, from 90.1 in March, and compared to forecasts of 89.6. Labor quality was the top business problem as more owners struggle with finding qualified workers for their open positions.” • I wonder why? ‘Tis a mystery!

Business Optimism: “United States IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index dropped 5.8 points to 41.6 in May 2023, the lowest level since November and significantly below market expectations of 48.2. The latest reading was also lower than April’s 16-month high of 47.4 and has been pessimistic for the past 21 months.”

* * *

Tech: “Introducing Total Crap, The First Magazine Written Entirely by AI” [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]. “In many ways, fear of automated writing is similar to fear of automatic elevators without operators. At first, passengers were afraid to ride in automatic elevators because they were accustomed to the presence of human operators. In time, they realized that it was safer to use the automatic versions. Similarly, many people are now afraid that automated writing is prone to errors, incapable of originality, or destined to relegate millions of skilled workers to lives of uselessness and destitution. In fact, automated writing is safer than the manual version.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 9 at 1:12 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Oil Supply/Price. “Oil prices are back down” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! I wonder where that’s coming from?


Our Famously Free Press

Guillotine Watch

Class Warfare

“Biden calls for ‘fair deal’ for writers as strike continues” [CNN]. • A fair deal is what the workers want. How about that?

Everything’s going according to plan:

Class consciousness:

Deploying social capital:

Accumulating social capital:

At least at some restaurants. I don’t think the author means outdoor dining at Applebee’s, if such a thing is even possible.

News of the Wired

“Dose-response relationships of LSD-induced subjective experiences in humans” [Nature]. “The considerable variability observed in most factors and scales points to the role of non-pharmacological factors in shaping subjective experiences.” • No sh*t, Sherlock!

Seeing clearly for the first time:

Of course, seeing clearly for the first time isn’t always wonderful. But this is wonderful.

This is a real shame:

We can never know what a marriage is like from the outside. That said, apparently Miranda brought a lot of joy into Greenwald’s life (whose life, I would speculate, was not markedly joyful before he met and married Miranda in Brazil). My sympathies to Greenwald and his family. What a terrible event, especially with Miranda so young, and with so many good years ahead of him. Readers on the Twitter may wish to go and say kind things.

* * *

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 FM:

FM writes: “Pretty purple creepers in Portland, Oregon. I saw this scene on my way to the dentist.”

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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. Carolinian

    Re trans I’m reading a book by a WSJ reporter called Irreversible Damage that looks into whether “transitioning” among teenage girls is a genuine scientific thing or a social media, TikTok, school teachers and the education establishment don’t know what they are talking about thing. It suggests the latter and points to the history of gender dysphoria where he desire to change one’s body has almost invariably been boys to girls with pre puberty symptoms. Whereas body image problems have always been common among young women with the resulting eating disorders and other syndromes.

    Regardless of the science this seems like a bizarre issue for the Dems to take up since it is strictly preaching to the converted. The book says that those young women who “transition” very often have sympathetic “progressive” and perhaps affluent parents. Whereas thaditionally the size of the trans cohort has been quite tiny, unlike gays and lesbians who comprise a sizable percentage that the Repubs also now solicit.

    What is really going on with all this?

    1. Hepativore

      To put it bluntly, why do we treat “trans” people with hormones that have deleterious side-effects and with dangerous surgery that comes with a whole laundry list of debilitating complications with little benefit?

      We do not give diet pills to anorexics or cut the limbs off of people with body integrity disorder, instead we give sufferers CBT, and focus on having a healthy self-image. As being “trans” is a body image disorder like anorexia or apotemnophilia, why do we treat it differently compared to other disorders? My guess is that this is because there is a lot of money to be made off of “medical transitioning” as they basically become lifelong medical patients from the lucrative surgeries and medications that “trans” people are being pushed into by pharmaceutical companies and plastic surgeons as well as treating the expensive complications that result.

      Finally, the fact remains that somebody can take as many hormones that they like and get as many surgeries that they can, it will still not change the fact that they if they are a man or a woman, they always will be. A man can throw on a dress and wear lipstick if he likes, but he does not become “she” and should not be allowed in exclusively-female spaces, and a woman can wear a binder and fake beard but she does not become “he” and should not be in men’s locker rooms anymore than by my claiming to be Napoleon means that I am actually Napoleon.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Finally, the fact remains that somebody can take as many hormones that they like and get as many surgeries that they can, it will still not change the fact that they if they are a man or a woman, they always will be. A man can throw on a dress and wear lipstick if he likes, but he does not become “she” and should not be allowed in exclusively-female spaces, and a woman can wear a binder and fake beard but she does not become “he” and should not be in men’s locker rooms anymore than by my claiming to be Napoleon means that I am actually Napoleon.

        I don’t have the text with me, but Bourdieu opens a lecture on symbolic (charismatic) capital in Classification Struggles with the question: “What is the difference between Napoleon and a lunatic claiming to be Napoleon?” (Come to think of it, that’s also a theme of Terry Pratchett’s Making Money, where Cosmo Lavish attempts to become Lord Vetinari. I should really do a Bourdeusian interpretation of Terry Pratchett. That might be fun.) Anyhow—

        * * *

        I have no doubt that gender dysphoria is a real thing. I remember the 70s, during the sexual revolution so-called, when the number of gay people was tendentiously exaggerated — and, of course, “All great men were” — so I don’t trust these numbers either, but I’m sure the numbers are small in absolute terms (despite the media attention). I’m also sure that bad medical actors seek to profit from this.

        I don’t think it’s possible to change sex, the biological substrate of gender*, because sex is stamped into our very cells (and upward through pelvic structure, etc., the sort of thing a doctor would want and need to know). I do think it’s possible to alter the, as it were, “impedance mismatch” between sex and gender through the various techniques described (including “the chop” and whatever the inverse of “the chop” is known as). In general, as in the 70s, I’m with Mrs. Patrick Campbell, who said: “Does it really matter what these affectionate people do—so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses?”

        I think, however, that both in sports and locker rooms, biological realities are overwhelmingly salient, and so my bumping uglies rule applies. Currently, I’m thinking women’s sports should be reserved for biological women (or men) on grounds of fairness. Locker rooms and bathrooms should be reserved for beings visually indistinguishable from women (or men) on grounds of privacy. (That is, “the chop” doesn’t allow a quondam man to compete in women’s sports, but would allow a man who transitioned to a woman to use a woman’s bathroom. No, we’re going to have to rely on social norms instead of checking people at the door ffs.) To clarify by putting this more concretely, “Some dude who gets an operation that enables them to become a winner shouldn’t be able to deprive my daughter of an athletic scholarship that involved many years of work,” “Nobody gets to shake their dick at my daughter in her locker room, no matter what gender they self-identify as.” Adding, that if the Republicans manage to frame Democrats as advocating either or both of those positions, they’ll lose in 2024 (and in my view, will deserve it).

        NOTE * I’m leery of layered, static structures — as for example base and superstructure in vulgar Marxism — but these are the tools I have now.

        1. Carla

          “No, we’re going to have to rely on social norms instead of checking people at the door ffs.”

          What social norms? Do we have those anymore? Serious question.

          I think I’m really just getting too old and may have to check out soon.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > What social norms? Do we have those anymore? Serious question.

            I think at the level of schools we have them. They’re contested, but they exist.

        2. Hepativore

          I have no doubt that gender dysphoria exist either, but true gender dysphoria seems to be very rare. However, I do not think that medical transitioning should even be legal. This is because the outcomes of hormones and especially SRS are horrifying and rather poor unlike what many of its promoters would have you believe.

          It seems like it is akin to performing gastric bypass surgery on somebody who is anorexic, so we should treat gender dysphoria like other psychiatric disorders, not surgery.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I begin at the point that gender dysphoria is a real thing. That doesn’t mean that it can be tied to something genetic or physical, but to its sufferers, it is very real. It has been and continues to be treated in some venues with medication and psychological therapy. I have no idea how effective that approach is, but for some reason, another treatment route is becoming increasingly common: hormones and perhaps, surgery.

      About 15 months ago, this article “Better mental health found among transgender people who started hormones as teens.” But the study was not conducted only among teens. Here’s what the study found about transgender people who began the hormone route as adults:

      But the researchers found that those who started hormone treatment in adulthood were more likely to engage in binge drinking and use of illicit substances than those who never accessed the treatment. “Some individuals may become more confident and socially engaged when they begin taking hormones,” Turban said, adding that, in some cases, this increased confidence and social engagement may be linked to substance use. “This finding speaks to the importance of creating culturally tailored substance-use counseling programs for transgender individuals.”

      Now those who began treatment as adults did show improvement on the important measures of “severe psychological distress” and suicidal ideation, but with much less improvement than those who began treatment as adolescents.

      So the argument that’s being made among those arguing for hormone/surgery treatment for gender dysphoria in the psychological and medical industries is that to be effective, you gotta get ’em when they’re young. They do not seem willing to fall back to an “adults can choose what they want to do” argument.

      The state of knowledge in this area seems to cry for more investigation rather than taking actions on those we still regard as children that would be very hard, and sometimes impossible, to reverse. How does the improvement with hormone therapy compare to more traditional treatments? Why is there such a striking difference in the effectiveness of treatment when started young? Can any of these RCT studies be replicated?

      1. KD

        The real scary thing was looking at bone mass in adolescents, with studies pitched as hormone blockers don’t reduce bone mass–well, there is an enormous amount of bone mass that is being added in adolescence, which isn’t happening with these hormone blockers, so you are setting up a population for severe osteoporosis:

        Interestingly, some observational studies found a higher prevalence of low bone mass in trans women. Although some of these studies did not present BMD values and were not included in the present meta-analyses, they reported a prevalence of osteoporosis of about 25% in trans women with long-term CSHT [14, 33]. More recently, the results of another study by our group [13] were in line with these earlier studies, showing a prevalence of 18.3% of low bone mass in trans women after long-term CSHT, whereas no cases were observed in male or female controls [13]. Also, Lapauw et al. [12] found a prevalence of 35% of low bone mass after a mean of 96 months of estrogen therapy. The studies reporting osteoporosis or low bone mass prevalence >25% included trans women with previous GAS followed for 5 [12, 14] to 6.3 years [33] after the procedure. In our experience, hormone therapy is sometimes irregular, involving poor adherence, which may affect BMD, especially after GAS.


        Results and conclusion: Between the start of GnRHa and age 22 years the lumbar areal BMD z score (for natal sex) in transwomen decreased significantly from -0.8 to -1.4 and in transmen there was a trend for decrease from 0.2 to -0.3. This suggests that the BMD was below their pretreatment potential and either attainment of peak bone mass has been delayed or peak bone mass itself is attenuated.



        Data from the Netherlands have shown that pretreatment BMD Z-scores determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) were significantly low in late-pubertal transgender girls before GnRHa and failed to normalize upon treatment with estradiol [9, 10]. Adult studies have similarly shown low BMD Z-scores in transgender women before and after GAH [11-13]. A UK study showed late-pubertal transgender boys had lower pretreatment BMD Z-scores by DXA at the spine and hip [14]. In contrast, another Dutch study that focused on transgender boys in late or postpuberty (median age, 16.5 years) showed normal mean pretreatment BMD Z-scores by DXA at the spine and hip [15]. Little is known, however, about BMD in early-pubertal transgender youth or about factors that impact skeletal health in this population, such as dietary calcium intake, vitamin D status, and weight-bearing exercise. Based on the low BMD Z-scores observed in the previously noted studies in late-pubertal adolescents and adults, further investigation of transgender youth in earlier stages of puberty is needed to determine when this disparity in BMD emerges.


    3. notabanker

      What is really going on with all this?

      Three card monte doesn’t work with only one card?

    4. cfraenkel

      What’s really going on with all this is our society is addicted to treating every possible issue as either / or. It has to be a ‘genuine scientific thing’ OR a ‘social media, TikToc etc’.

      Por que no los dos?

      My reference is the “Carpal Tunnel” epidemic of the ’90’s. Office work has always caused repetitive strain injuries. But early in the 90’s, some press rooms noticed this thing called “carpal tunnel syndrome”, which is and was a small minority of said injuries. They (the press) latched on to this thing, and all of a sudden everywhere you looked, people were being diagnosed with ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’, at rates 10x the prior incidence rate.

      Fast forward 10 years or so, the press gets tired of it’s chew toy, and workplace ergonomics professionals learn how to address the real problem (poor posture, stressful environments etc) and magically, the ‘carpal tunnel’ incidence rate goes back to it’s pre-hysteria norms. Many more people do get diagnosed with RSI, the more general, more accurate blanket term; and get successfully treated with workplace accommodations. More importantly, the 9 out of 10 people that were getting inappropriate and damaging carpal tunnel surgeries now aren’t getting their wrists hacked open for no good reason.

      Some of the same social dynamics are doubtlessly happening now. There is likely a more or less constant number of young people with real dysphoria, whatever that is. There’s also likely a much larger set of disaffected young people riding the trans is the new queer coolness wave.

      The rest of us need to stop insisting it’s one or the other. It’s both.

    5. Skip Intro

      What is really going on with all this?

      I believe the answer is that being trans is a fast way to shed unwanted privilege, and gain valuable social credit as an oppressed minority, despite the obvious access to resources implied by the will and capacity to to actually seek physical interventions for psychosocial discontent with a gender role. PMC parents also get bragging rights even if it only goes as far as pronoun replacement.

    6. Cetra Ess

      I think in order to properly treat this topic we need to trace the origin of the current “controversy” as manufactured and promoted by transphobes such as Matt Walsh and Jordan Peterson. Especially since, as mentioned here, this controversy impacts virtually nobody. The issue is being weaponized for reasons other than that trans is a threat to anyone.

      You may recall that Jordan Peterson has a pet lobster theory promoting the notion that there are alpha-males who serve an important function in lobster society, and without such a hierarchy lobster society would collapse. Peterson projects the same upon human society, argues without similar hierarchy there will be chaos. He also argues this is genetic and biological, inherent to religion and demonstrated by the history of humanity, the fact that societies have traditionally subjugated women. Elsewhere he also argues that feminine = chaos, masculine = order.

      His motivation here is to promote the view that inequality between men and women is natural, just, necessary and to be accepted.

      This is gender essentialism. The view that there are intrinsic characteristics and essences differentiating males and females. Gender essentialists point to genitalia and chromosomes as supporting this theory. A popular and widespread variation of this view is that females are inferior to males however it’s also true that many feminists share the essentialist view and many feminist philosophers just as equally hold that women are superior to men.

      Many women born as women will be stopped at the locker room to check their gender bona fides. Same with men, trans or not. Sex and gender are social constructs, we’ll never be able to “prove” the essence of either. Gender identity is simply how a person chooses to look and behave, to oppose someone’s gender identity is to tell someone how they’re expected to look, dress and behave according to our own perceptions of such, to impose our views, to restrict others.

      But in biology different animals have different characteristics that don’t conform to the essentialist view. The reality is most people have xy and xx chromosomes pairs but some may not, some may have one or an extra. Likewise, not all will have sex organs that match their chromosomes. And most will have these chromosome pairs but some will not behave in according to their genetics. And it’s quite apparent by now that people behave the way society expects them to, not how they might want to, and likewise people choose to go against those expectations.

      I’m old enough to remember how men with long hair where mocked as sissy women, where said to not be real men, then we went through the same again during the 80’s with the big hair and men wearing makeup. This all seems like a variation on the same theme – Peterson is all about how the modern male is under threat, needs to regain its place at the top of the hierarchy.

    1. Randall Flagg

      I think you’re onto something: The Daily Derailment Tracker…
      Necessary for those that may be downwind.

      1. LawnDart

        It’s consistent enough to be a feature, as long as the economy doesn’t go completely off-the-rails too. And to me at least, it kinda sums-up our overall state of affairs.

  2. Samuel Conner

    > A fair deal is what the workers want. How about that?

    Worker ownership of enterprises would align management and worker interests. Not sure how to get there from where we now are, particularly in view of the avalanche of downhill-flowing sh!t that our system creates.

    I’ll go on dreaming about better futures, but won’t be surprised if we end up in Peter Frase’s “fourth quadrant”


  3. ambrit

    Oh boy. “In fact, automated writing is safer than the manual version.” Safer for whom? Automated anything is easily controlled. It is, after all, mechanical in nature, thus, capable of prediction, and rectification. Wetware writing is Terran human based and thus prone to the dreaded ‘inspiration’ and ‘original thinking.’ Ensuring conformity in that group is hard work, and requires dedication and vigilance. In the best interests of short term thinking, we go with the ‘automated’ method. Easier, cheaper, and doesn’t talk back.
    Remain risk averse.

  4. ambrit

    Re. the antidote. Wonderful creepers, with a stunning Camellia bush in the background to compliment them.
    Our Camellias bloomed a month ago. Now the Gardenias are coming out. The scent is divine.

  5. Henry Moon Pie

    I miss Aaron Mate taking over for Jimmy Dore. Now it’s back to Jimmy’s obsessive and stupid episodes pushing Covid denial.

    “People are losing track of work and a lot of bugs are being introduced into the code.”

    Sand in the gears. And it was the people who own the machine who carelessly and short-sightedly threw it in there. It’s the old saying: can’t see past your nose.

    1. Mikel

      A comedian that makes money on live shows – not surprising.
      Have to remember that there is some self-interest being served by latching onto the denial.

    2. Durans

      Jimmy correctly identified the government and approved experts were lying to us about Covid. He then turned around and fell hook line and sinker for outside groups that were also lying about Covid. I’ve greatly diminished my watching of his show because of that.

      1. anon in so cal

        Many individuals who are fully informed about Ukraine, and provide excellent insights and information, simultaneously articulate garbage positions about Covid/masking and about demographic growth. For example, many were influenced by that Cochrane article summarizing some extremely poorly designed and poorly executed RCTs, while others condemn the WEF for allegedly advocating decreased demographic growth.

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        I had cut down a lot because of his constant anger. Mate and Metzger were an odd couple, but it worked well except when Aaron would start giggling so hard he couldn’t continue.

        It does drive me crazy how people cannot manage to separate the lies about the efficacy of the vaccines from the truth about the seriousness of the disease. Not every thing that happens is a Deep State conspiracy. There are some things beyond the control of the WEF.

        1. britzklieg

          So many lies to separate but only two groups to separate into. Liberal/conservative, right/ left, blah/blah… Where does a Putin-supporting, still-masking, vaccine-questioning, woke-rejecting, peace-mongering, cop-loathing, pot-smoking, alcohol-eschewing, switch-hitting, squirrel-loving, Florida-dwelling, opera & jazz-singing guy belong?

    3. Mo

      Yeah Aaron is a great host. He’s such a relaxed and likable guy, perfect for a lefty talk show host. Good chemistry with Kurt and Misha as well.

  6. LadyXoc

    Dear Lambert: a certain percentage of babies are born neither clearly female or male; i.e. hermaphroditic. At birth, these children have been routinely surgically made into males or females, thus “assigned a sex at birth.” This is some very ugly stuff.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you for telling me something irrelevant I already knew. Biological systems are complex, accident prone, and capable of producing a small number of edge cases. One can urge that these cases be handled humanely without erecting an entire theory of gender fluidity upon them. It’s rather like arguing that bilateral symmetry is a social construct because a small number of conjoined twins have been born. In the overwhelming majority of cases, sex is recognized, and not “assigned,” as if it were a Dewey Decimal classification or a classroom task. A good thing too, given that this “machinery” is what the species has found adaptive for reproductive purposes.

    2. semper loquitur

      True, but missing context. The “assigned at birth” label has been expropriated by the trans movement, as with so many other things, and inflated to include people who are firmly within the spheres of either male or female. It’s a victimhood-claiming affectation, a performative buttress to their wingnut notions of the boundaries of self-identification.

    3. chris

      I don’t understand why people feel the need to write things like you wrote: “A certain percentage”?… try much less than 1%. according to that article and other recent research, babies born with physically intersex characteristics account for about 0.05% or less of births. The most common cause of physically intersex characteristics at birth results in roughly 1 in 15000 birth with ambiguous sexual characteristics. To give you an idea of how many babies that is, in 2021, in the US, about 3.6 million children were born. 1 in 15000 equates to about 244 babies born with the most common cause of intersex characteristics. 244 out of 3.6 million.

      I am not minimizing the lives of these people. I am not saying they do not deserve sympathy and equality and medical care. I am not saying that the laws which some legislatures are trying to pass would not be awful for people who do not fit into any normative physical condition. But what I think we can say, and should say, is that the idea that intersex people are suddenly this common condition and we face a plague of doctors “mis-assigning” sex at birth is a farce. It needs to stop. It does no good for the causes that I assume people like you want to champion.

      With the increasing rates of people identifying as trans I think we can say physically intersex characteristics are not driving this trend. Given the rates of emotional and mental health issues with people who identify as trans, I think we can say that they have a host of issues for which they need care and understanding.

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Care and understanding, absolutely; holding Center Left politics (or what passes for it) hostage, no.

        1. chris

          Yeah, I don’t understand that either. There’s probably a Pritzker funded NGO behind that push, or some other weird billionaire. The oddest thing is if you really did care about trans people, regardless of whether they came into that via intersex characteristics or choice, the best two things you could do at the level of the DNC would be a federal job guarantee and Medicare for All. Most non-binary people are poor and they experience challenges related to being poor. Most of the alleged hate crimes against trans people are really just poor people or sex workers getting caught in bad situations. Criminals aren’t checking bulges and pronouns before they shoot. They’re just attacking poor people who look like easy marks. A federal job guarantee would really help trans people to not be economically and socially marginalized due to few opportunities for paying work. Medicare for All would help us collect data on the best treatment and would allow these people to get the mental health care they need. Those two programs would help lots of other minorities who are currently suffering. It’s a shame so many Democrats are obsessed with “fighting for” symbolic things instead of winning benefits that would actually help the people they claim they care so much about.

          1. anahuna

            I certainly don’t disagree with your policy prescriptions, but I believe you underestimate the degree of fear and anger that any deviation from clearly defined gender roles arouses in portions of the public..Witness the word “deviant” itself, and witness the decades of attacks on gay males and females seen as “dykes.”‘

            Acting as interpreter for a pair who were transitioning from male to female, I became aware of a certain confusion in my own perceptions; some of the visual signals I was picking up — the long eyelashes, the make-up, certain feminine gestures— were at odds with the broad shoulders and a somewhat masculine “energy.” I found this slightly disturbing in a way that puzzled and intrigued me, but their stories of horrific abuse by everyone from sexual clients to the police made it clear that for various psychological reasons these characteristics can be infuriating to others.

            We are left with the question of how to protect the truly vulnerable without falling into the current trap of glorifying “gender fluidity.”

          2. Late Introvert

            Thank you @chris, I endorse your passionate remarks 100 percent. Dem’rats are not fit for purpose, they talk but they don’t deliver.

  7. Lambert Strether Post author

    I finished adding orts and scraps. This took a bit longer than it should have because I had to wrestle the campaign clock into submission! Only 545 days until Election Day!

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Only 272 days until the Iowa Caucuses!*

      *272 days from when you left this comment but only 271 days from the tomorrow I am leaving this comment from.

      1. flora

        er, is there any thing the Clintonists won’t destroy in their quest for … whatever their quest is? / ;)

  8. ChrisFromGA

    Re: brain damaged nation

    That’s going to accelerate the AI job replacement program.

    A personal anecdote. I got a mild case of Covid in Jan. 2022. I recovered quickly, but about four months later I started having severe anxiety and depression. Some was related to life changes, but I wonder if some part of my brain got the Swiss cheese treatment.

    The creative part of my brain works fine. Short term memory is another matter. Could be age related, as I am a early Gen-X-er. Exercise and mindfulness help.

  9. Sub-Boreal

    Animal abuse remains one of the few reliable markers for distinguishing a Republican from a Democrat.

    How soon they forget!

  10. Maggie

    Khameleon Harris Is Finding Her Stride,
    As an Indian woman, an Asian woman, a black woman, a Beverly Hills bimbo, a woman of color, in spite of being mostly Irish and Dravidian descent, a freedom fighter, a Canadian, a “Californian”, a V.P. who got less than 3% of California’s Democratic vote in the primary, a rapper adulator, an adultress when she served as Willie’s mistress, what’s next, converting for her husband, er, “partner?”

    Maybe the Trump campaign can print some “Run Kamala, run!” bumper stickers and send them out by the millions? I want one for the bullbar on the front of my truck.

    1. Felix_47

      Hey careful about the adultress thing. Did not Jill Biden’s first husband divorce her after her affair with Joe whose wife was still alive? I saw a video of the ex husband explaining all this one time. He found out because Joe had a collision in Jill’s Corvette and one of his friends told him about it some time later. Of course, that is not the official history as outlined in the Biden biography. It might help if the Bidens admitted it since it happens all the time and has from cave man days I am sure. Something young and prettier comes along. Now denting the Corvette….that is a sin. I think the video has been wiped from the internet.

    2. semper loquitur

      “I want one for the bullbar on the front of my truck.”

      For the win…

  11. Jason Boxman

    That said, there’s not much time:

    LOL, if this is really an emergency, shouldn’t Congress and Biden be available, every. F**king. Day. To get it resolved? These people seem incapable of governing at all. What a joke. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the “adults in the room”.

  12. Wukchumni

    A Christmas Carroll recounts the story of Oglerizer Accrued, an elderly voyeur who is visited by the ghost of his former legal counsel Michael Cohen and the spirits of Presidents Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Accrued is transformed into a man with $5 million less to his name.

  13. Hana M

    >She told me to take my mask off because ‘she couldn’t hear me’ so I simply shouted my name instead.

    No. Just no. As someone with severe hearing loss (me) could explain shouting distorts the sound more and makes it harder for the deaf person to understand what you are saying. It also humiliates the person (probably poorly paid) who is trying to serve you. If you don’t want to lower your mask simply hand over your ID so she can read your name and address and respond to other questions in writing. We will never get out of this mess if we refuse to exercise a little empathy and emotional IQ.

    Hearing loss affects approximately one-third of adults 61 to 70 years of age and more than 80 percent of those older than 85 years. A little compassion goes a long way.

    1. tevhatch

      …carry a pen and pocket note pad, with large, neatly printed common answers on the first few pages. Not too many people are going to confess in public that they can’t read or write, so be prepared if they look helpless.

  14. skippy

    Don’t know if you have seen this Lambert, thought of you and some others whilst I watched it -IQMWLTK thingy …

    Dr Iain McGilchrist: We are living in a deluded world


    Gleaned it whilst at Lars blog on the topic of ‘Attending economics seminars — a total waste of time!’

      1. tegnost

        yes. this is the rare “maybe you should listen to this”
        It won’t sway the true believers, but some lost souls may find solace…

    1. Lee

      I’m finding your linked lecture most interesting, particularly as it resonates with something I’m currently reading by D.T Suzuki that goes on at some length regarding the relationship between dhyana and prajna according to the Zen teacher Hui-Neng who is famous for his observation that “To begin with nothing exists.”

      Zen Doctrine of No Mind (pdf)


    2. tevhatch

      A very interesting talk, I’m tempted to order the book. It would be interesting to compare his work with Robert Sapolsky. Thank you.

      BTW, what is IQMWLTK an acronym for?

  15. Steve

    I have another holdover from the COVID PHE. Central Maine Health dropped masking requirements on May 1. Today I went in for blood work–nobody but me wearing a mask, but they still have separate bins for clean and used pens!

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Javier Fernando Cortez

      … further proof that fomite/droplet transmission has taken hold at the expense of the more pertinent aerosol one. #ThxWHOCDC

  16. Wukchumni

    I mentioned yesterday visiting a Home Depot in Visalia with everything of value (bar chain oil for my chainsaw was under wraps, to give you an idea) locked down and not so professionally done, as in whole caged shelves were locked down with a padlock in the middle securing the goods, which were quite obscured.

    Shoplifting must be outta control as social mores become relaxed, you’re not stealing from Jensen’s Hardware after all, and went to school with old man Jensen’s daughter, its corporate America-they won’t miss it.

    1. notabanker

      Nothing even closely resembling that here in Ohio. I was just there a bunch over a week ago. If you make it past the HD cashiers and the dozen or two good ole boys outside with lord knows what they have in those trucks, the cops will be sure to have fun tracking you down. If the balloons ever go up, Calla-forn-ee-ahh ain’t the place I’d wanna be.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        At Steelyard Home Depot in Cleveland, it’s locked down as Wuk describes. To buy a weedeater 6 months ago, I had to get a clerk to unlock the shelf and to escort me all the way to the checkout. A lot of labor cost there.

        And Wuk, I just finished watching McCarthy and McConnell outside the WH. I have to say your Kevin may have had to go through a lot of humiliation to become Speaker, but he sure looks good next to McConnell, who has really declined since that fall, and Biden, whose ever-narrowing squint will soon require them to acquire technology to post the teleprompter and stage directions on the inside of his eyelids. They’ll also need some auto-drive tech like what they use for parking.

        McCarthy is really coming into his own given the competition.

        1. Lost in OR

          Seems like Joe could easily consult with Nancy for the squinting issue. But I wouldn’t want to picture the two of them merged.

    2. square coats

      I have noticed in a couple 24 hour cvs stores in Boston that, not only are batteries locked on their hangers, so are fruit gummy snack packs…

  17. tevhatch

    Michelle Obama: a study of her work for the Daly machine, her long association with Valarie Jarrett and their long history in busting public housing would fully understand why she’ll never run for public office.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      She was Obama’s wife who didn’t do the campaign grind. Hillary was a prominent figure in the WH. Michelle is more like a Barbara Bush type. She’s cool, but she’s nothing.

      Michelle 24 is desperation by Team Blue types.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Destroying public housing is a bipartisan project, as are charter schools, which Michele’s hubby also took a great interest in.

  18. Matthew G. Saroff

    You were late in awarding Emily Oster your Sociopath of the Day award.

    She should have gotten it when she was arguing against anti retrovirals to treat AIDS in Africa in 2005 or so.

    She is the sociopath of the century.

  19. nippersmom

    Animal abuse remains one of the few reliable markers for distinguishing a Republican from a Democrat.
    The Democrats’ ongoing hagiography of Fauci puts the lie to that statement.

  20. none

    I had a medical appointment yesterday. All staff at the clinic were wearing masks, and masks were required to enter the building. But almost everyone was wearing a surgical/procedure mask. The person who treated me (a 4th year med student under supervision of the MD’s) was the only one wearing an N95, a 3M Aura 9205. I had the slight sense of the 9205 having a little gap around the edges as if it weren’t properly fitted, but I didn’t comment. I do know that medical training involves showing how to fit-test masks with Bitrex or similar with fancy nebulizers.

    The exam room was quite small and windowless, though they kept a HEPA filter running in the room. I didn’t bring a CO2 monitor. I have a follow-up in a month and will try to bring one next time. Anyway they are paying at least some attention.

    At the end of the day though, N95’s cause some breathing obstruction that takes some getting used to, so people hate it. The solution is affordable powered masks. There have been several efforts to create those but none have gone anywhere. Basically they contain a battery powered fan that blows filtered air into the mask, so you can breathe with no added effort. They also reduce the amount of CO2 lingering in the mask, which can apparently cause problems if you wear the mask for long enough (hours at a time). I usually only wear a mask when I go into a public indoor space or if there are a lot of people around outdoors, and I try to get out of such places quickly, but having to wear it all day could get annoying.

    1. tevhatch

      A downside of every positive pressure (powered) mask that I have worn is that a speaker system is required for speaking, and the power supply for a decent interval hefty, and finally if anything does go wrong, they are a considerable burden and they provide very poor protection as the seals are designed for positive pressure.

    1. Screwball

      Wild stuff.

      This country has lost it’s way.

      All we have left is Bread and Circuses.

  21. Jason Boxman

    I’m struggling to know what to think as I watch America and western society self immolate in slow motion. Sometimes I have to wonder if I’m the problem, and there’s nothing actually wrong with the world at all. Maybe I’m misreading the evidence and SARS-COV-2 is totally benign. Maybe I’m the one that’s insane? How do you even know? When the overwhelming majority of people are walking off a cliff with a smile, maybe there’s actually no cliff there? Because I’m able to evaluate evidence and change my conclusion, I can’t help but be susceptible to the possibility that perhaps I’m wrong in all of this, not everyone else in the world. How can I know?

    1. Samuel Conner

      Think of yourself as a “hedge” — if you are right, your protective measures make it more likely that you’ll be around and still ambulatory enough to help clean up the mess in your corner of the calamity.

      For me, it feels a bit as if the current situation in the people’s (and, come to think of it, the authorities’) response to the CV pandemic is like the securitization crisis, albeit in slower motion — everyone thinks that their risk is lower than it actually is, because if there is progressive slow system collapse, the counterparties (in the medical system) on whom the risk-takers are relying may become progressively less able to perform as well as they currently do (not that current performance is something to celebrate).

      For me, “curiosity” is a motivator to keep protecting myself. I’d like to last long enough to see what comes after. I have a dim and fading, but not completely gone, hope that this crisis might lead to something better.

      Interesting times.

  22. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Trump

    He was a traitor before the election in 2016. Scandal can’t beat him.

  23. marym

    A review of some details in the WaPo polling data:

    “A WaPo Poll Found That Significant Majorities Support Pro-Trans Policies, But Reported The Exact Opposite

    Putting a giant “Most in U.S. back GOP’s anti-trans policies” headline on the front page when describing a poll that found that to be false is journalistic malpractice.

    [Question 30] was the only question that dealt with policy, and the overwhelming majority of people who responded said that they support laws protecting trans people from discrimination. Yet the Post’s framing landed the opposite conclusion.

    The Post’s questions about trans minors weren’t about support for specific policies, and weren’t anywhere near as anti-trans as the Post framed them…The framing of these questions didn’t ask if the government should enact laws imposing their beliefs on the public.”

    Link to the survey:

  24. The Rev Kev

    ‘I’m just screen capping this tweet by Bloomberg, as I don’t want to help amplify this insanity. But THEY ARE SAYING THE QUIET PART OUT LOUD. It’s good for big business if you start working as a child and die at the end of your ‘productive’ life, before you can retire. /contd/’

    And because they do while they are still working, their employers get to collect the ‘dead peasant insurance’ that they have on them-


    Those employees are worth more dead than alive to their employers.

  25. The Rev Kev

    ‘I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!’

    So how about some music to go along with it-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jK-NcRmVcw (4:45 mins)

    Just a stray though. Can you imagine walking down a hall with the official portraits of the US Presidents for the past half century? The last paintings would let you know how the wheels have really come off.

  26. Skip Intro

    “Give Us Care Not Covid”

    Poster is great, but I imagine it might be a bit more influential on hospital bosses if it included a bullet point like:

    “If you have had covid after a visit to this facility, you may be eligible for significant financial compensation due to egregious violation of standard infectious disease protocols.. Please call the Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe law firm at 1800-MGH-SICK”

  27. fjallstrom

    Regarding Mortality Watch and USMortality, I think the main difference between the graphs above is that you had a different setting.

    If you look at Excess death instead of Age Standardised Mortality Rate (ASMR), you get a similar curve with Mortality Watch as the one you get with USmortality.

    Age Standardised Mortality Rate is useful in comparing different countries with different population sizes and different age compositions. A country or state with a younger population may look artificially better without age standardisation.

    Something I also find neat about mortliaty.watch is that you can easily shift between views while keeping the same setting and by toggling or untoggling a little box under the graph you can see cumulative results.

    For example, with excess deaths and cumulative, one can see that the US has since the beginning of 2020 had about 1,3 million excess deaths, 140 thousand of which in California and 135 thousand in Texas. By switching to Excess ASMR one can see that in proportion to its population and age structure, Texas has had more excess deaths than California (or Illinois or New York). Excess is measured in numbers per 100k populaiton.

    If one looks just at deaths they also have a dotted line for the expected mortality (above which is excess mortality). So if we for example look at the US since 2000 it mostly folllows the same pattern until 2020 with the yearly flu season as peak and summer as valley. And one gets the dotted line for the covid years to see where deaths should have been.

    Of course, no tool is better then the data underpinning it. But as I worte in another comment, counting deaths is something western states has done since the 16th century, for taxation and property rights, and then drafts, voting rights and so on. So it is hard to obfuscate, because there are many knock on effects if a state does that.

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