2:00PM Water Cooler 9/13/2023

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Robin, Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary, Frederick, Maryland, United States. “Evening song with calls.”

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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


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“President Biden should not run again in 2024” [David Ignatius, WaPo]. The spook houseboy at WaPo speaks: “But I don’t think Biden and Vice President Harris should run for reelection…. Biden would carry two big liabilities into a 2024 campaign. He would be 82 when he began a second term. … [And] because of their concerns about Biden’s age, voters would sensibly focus on his presumptive running mate, Harris…. Politicians who know Biden well say that if he were convinced that Trump were truly vanquished, he would feel he had accomplished his political mission. He will run again if he believes in his gut that Trump will be the GOP nominee and that he has the best chance to defeat Trump and save the country from the nightmare of a revenge presidency.” Not clear how that will happen, however….. Time is running out. In a month or so, this decision will be cast in stone. It will be too late for other Democrats, including Harris, to test themselves in primaries and see whether they have the stuff of presidential leadership. Right now, there’s no clear alternative to Biden — no screamingly obvious replacement waiting in the wings. That might be the decider for Biden, that there’s seemingly nobody else. But maybe he will trust in democracy to discover new leadership, ‘in the arena.'” • Ignatius is correct that the Democrat bench is weak. Though presumably the spooks have somebody (“new leadership”) in mind (and also have more tape of Biden than you can possibly imagine); to them, “trust in [‘our’] democracy” would doubtless mean the ascendance of that somebody. However, Ignatius is not correct when he writes “Time is running out”; or rather, is correct if you think the primaries are anything other than “norms.” From “If You Want to Know What the Democratic Party Is, Just Ask Their Lawyer” (2017). That lawyer: “[W]here you have a party that’s saying, We’re gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we’re gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding, we could have — and we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.” If the Democrats want to nominate Michelle Obama based on applause-meter results from a seven-day “Meet the Candidates” TV special, they can do that; and you can bet the Blue MAGA and the press would applaud everything vociferously, not just the outcome but the process (“It was an emergency.” I tried to make sense of the bylaws of the Democratic Party; they were an incredibly tangled mess, mostly having to do with hiding the money, but also with diffusing responsibility.) It does make you wonder whether some kind soul, inspired by Ignatius’s evident sincerity, will take matters into their own hands and doctor the “juice” that somebody (Jill Biden?) carries around with them for Joe. “A real slow hot shot,” as William Gibson put it.

“Democrats need to realize that there is no alternative to Biden – and buck up” [Sidney Blumenthal, Guardian]. “But it is the Democrats who pull Biden underwater. They see his physical faults and shudder at his political fall. He is 80, his hair thinned, his gait slower and more careful. He is not eloquent. The slight hesitation of the stutter he overcame as a child seems occasionally to return. He is not Mick Jagger strutting at 80. The intensity of concern among Democrats about Biden is in direct proportion to their panic about Trump. They see in his fragility their own predicament. He is the screen on which they project their anxiety, insecurity and fear. They suffer from a crisis of bad nerves. The Democrats’ withholding creates a self-fulfilling prophesy. Spooked by the shadow of Trump, they react with disapproval of Biden, whose numbers are stagnant, flashing the sign that makes them more frightened. They do not censure Biden or dislike him. But they hope for a counter-factual scenario. There is none. Asked to name a specific person they would prefer to Biden, 18% of Democrats replied with a scattering of names. Bernie Sanders, 82, received the highest support at 3%. Sanders, who has twice run for the nomination, this time has early endorsed Biden. It has taken the democratic socialist to remind that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. If Biden were not to run, the counter-factual dream of a Hollywood ending with Michael Douglas from The American President materializing would be replaced with a ferocious primary of centrifugal force exposing the party’s fractured divides and the survivor most likely at no better rating than Biden at the current fraught moment. Biden’s presence leaves that bloodsport to another day.” • Well, I know which scenario the press would prefer: Volatility.

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“The 2024 candidate-bots are here” [Politico]. “On Wednesday, the [Chat2024] project will officially unveil the AI-powered avatars of 17 leading presidential candidates. Each one is a chatbot trained on reams of data generated from at least a hundred sources, like candidates’ video appearances and writings.” One hundred sources is not much. “The project is a creation of Dara Ladjevardian, the co-founder of AI startup Delph, [and] amounts to a PR stunt for Delphi’s services, of course, but Ladjevardian… thinks AI avatars have a prominent role to play in the future of campaigning, governing and public opinion tracking. He said the project was inspired by his [2020] experience knocking on doors in the Houston area to support a losing congressional bid by his mother, Democrat Sima Ladjevardian… . He found that most voters learned about candidates from snippets of television coverage, and argues that chatbots provide a more engaging, in-depth alternative. He hopes the presidential bots will attract the attention of campaigns up and down the ballot and entice them to pay to host the avatars on their own websites. In addition to providing campaigns with a new way to show off their candidates, Ladjevardian said he intends to sell them on the idea that they can analyze the queries voters send to chatbots to better understand public opinion.” • Hmm. Wait until we can dispense with the human entirely….

“Urgent Recommendations in Law, Media, Politics, and Tech for Fair and Legitimate 2024 U.S. Elections” (PDF) [Ad Hoc Committee for 2024 Election Fairness and Legitimacy]. “In jurisdictions of over 1000 voters, paper ballots should be tabulated by optical-scan computers; ballots should be tabulated in smaller jurisdictions either by optical-scan computers or by hand counting. Post-election audits should be conducted by human inspection of the human-readable portions of the paper ballots.” So why not eliminate a layer of complexity and — follow me closely here — mark the paper ballots by hand? Also: “A wealth of scientific studies have concluded that there is no known method to guarantee the security of a voted ballot returned through the internet.” • So “internet voting” is dead at last? I hope so!

2020 Post Mortem

“Fox Sued by New York City Pension Funds Over Election Falsehoods” [New York Times]. “New York City’s pension funds sued the Fox Corporation and its board on Tuesday, accusing the company of neglecting its duty to shareholders by opening itself up to defamation lawsuits from the persistent broadcasting of falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit, filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery, is the most significant shareholder action since Fox settled a blockbuster defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems in April for $787.5 million. The city’s five pension funds represent nearly 800,000 current and retired workers and are worth $253 billion. ‘We are shareholders at a company that, unfortunately, has a longstanding practice of allowing conspiracy theories that its executives and its board know are false to be repeated over and over and over again, despite the very clear and present risk of defamation lawsuits eroding shareholder value,’ said Brad Lander, New York City’s comptroller, who oversees the pension funds. ‘And there has been no effort to make governance reforms.'”• Hmm. I wonder who the expert witnesses about CT will be.

Obama Legacy

“A Company Family: The Untold History of Obama and the CIA” [Covert Action Magazine (jsn)]. Re-upping this from Links of August 31; one stop shopping for Obama’s spook connections, and they are numerous. But see also the final paragraph on the Pritzkers, the oligarchs in the other Democrat state. “Penny Pritzker of the Pritzker banking dynasty—ranked number 9 on the Forbes list with a fortune of $32.5 billion—gave $500,000 to Obama’s second inauguration—earning her appointment as Obama’s Secretary of Commerce. The Pritzker family—which made its fortune through ownership of Hyatt hotels—had long ties to the CIA. They were leading depositors in the Bahamas-based Castle Bank, a CIA outfit founded by one of the CIA’s mob liaisons, Paul Helliwell, which specialized in off-shoring money.[27] The Pritzkers were also war profiteers. In 1953, family patriarchs Jay and Robert Pritzker founded the Marmon Group, an industrial holding company which includes the subsidiary Marmon Aerospace and Defense which manufactures wires and cables for aerospace, military vehicles, combat systems, radar installations and naval shipboards. The Pritzkers—like the Crowns—thus personally profited from Obama’s mammoth military budgets, which outstripped those of President Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year, Obama’s naval buildup in the South China Sea and his overseeing more sales of military weaponry than any other president—$60 billion more than President Bush.[28]” • Meanwhile, I am persuaded, J. B. Pritzker waits for Biden to slip a cog….

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. (H opefully, 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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“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; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); 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: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“Addressing Education and Health Inequity: Perspectives from the North of England” (PDF) [Child of the North All-Party Parliamentary Group] “Classroom Air Cleaning Technologies (Class-ACT) – how integrated datasets can be used to address fundamental research questions The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of good ventilation in the prevention of airborne diseases [63, 64, 65]. Many classrooms are poorly ventilated, which increases the risk of a child or member of staff contracting an airborne illness [66]. One possible solution to poorly ventilated classrooms is the provision of ‘air cleaning technologies’ that remove particles from the circulating air. These include the Covid-19 virus and other pathogens, as well as particles that can cause asthma or hay fever. The linked health and education data available in Connected Bradford allowed the Class-ACT project [67] to conduct a randomised trial to understand the impact that air cleaning technologies had on children’s attendance in school. By combining health records with school absences, the study found that schools that had these relatively low-cost air cleaning technologies fitted showed significantly lower absence rates. Without these connected datasets it would only be possible to obtain a piecemeal picture of the potential for disease transmission to be reduced through fitting air-cleaning technologies within schools.” • First ventilation controlled study I am aware of. Somebody tell HICPAC!


“First COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine being developed by Dartmouth Health, the NIH and Exothera” [Healthcare Finance]. “The National Institutes of Health, Belgium-based viral vector manufacturer Exothera and researchers at Dartmouth Health’s Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine are working to develop and bring to market the first nasal COVID-19 vaccine. Clinical trials are planned for the United States and Africa. The nasal-spray vaccine will not require refrigeration and does not need to be administered by a medical professional, making it a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 in developing parts of the world, according to Dartmouth Health, the health system for its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), in Lebanon, New Hampshire…. ‘We are pleased to join this collaborative effort to develop and assess the safety, immunogenicity, and effectiveness of an adenovirus type 4 based vaccine expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as a novel approach to the prevention of COVID-19,’ said Wright, who is also a professor of pediatrics at Geisel. ‘Although unique in the COVID field, the vaccine has precedent in the highly successful prevention of adenovirus respiratory disease in the United States military.'” • Project NextGen goes unmentioned, so I assume this is a parallel effort. And if there’s in fact a successful “precedent” for nasal vaccines, that moves the Biden Administration’s failure to move forward on them from the stupid box to the evil box.

“Something Awful”

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). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, September 11:

This time, it’s the South bringing down the curve

Regional data:

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 2:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). No BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, September 2:

Lambert here: Another Labor Day weekend drop, like Walgreens? Typically, three-day weekends don’t coincide with peak infection!

Lambert here: I changed this ER chart to a Covid-only chart broken down by age. Note the highlighting.

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


Bellwether New York City, data as of September 12:

Still climbing. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 2:

At least now we now that hospitalization tracks positivity, which is nice. Even if we don’t know how many cases there are. And positivity as high as it’s been at any time, except for Omicron.


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, September 11:

0.4% Still thinking the dip is Labor Day data. Or perhaps people were actually testing for Labor Day, and stopped. The absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, August 21:

A drop!

No BA.2.86 for two of the long-delayed collection weeks.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 6:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?

Total: 1,174,691 – 1,174,631 = 60 (60 * 365 = 21,900 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

The Economist, September 13:

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

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Core Inflation Rate MoM” [Trading Economics]. “US core consumer prices, which exclude volatile items such as food and energy, rose by 0.3% from the previous month in August of 2023, above market expectations of a 0.2% increase and accelerating from 0.2% advances in the two earlier months.”

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The Bezzle: “Popular nasal decongestant doesn’t actually relieve congestion, FDA advisers say” [Associated Press]. “The leading decongestant used by millions of Americans looking for relief from a stuffy nose is no better than a dummy pill, according to government experts who reviewed the latest research on the long-questioned drug ingredient. Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Tuesday against the effectiveness of the key drug found in popular versions of Sudafed, Dayquil and other medications stocked on store shelves. ‘Modern studies, when well conducted, are not showing any improvement in congestion with phenylephrine,’ said Dr. Mark Dykewicz, an allergy specialist at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 51 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 13 at 1:38:57 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“The Falling Man” [Esquire]. A 9/11 story, from 2021. “The Falling Man” is a photo of one of the Twin Towers “jumpers,” and the story gives the origin, the publication history, and people’s reactions, including The Falling Man’s family. It’s moving, not typical 9/11 schlock, and well worth a read. This caught my eye: “From the beginning, the spectacle of doomed people jumping from the upper floors of the World Trade Center resisted redemption…. The trial that hundreds endured in the building and then in the air became its own kind of trial for the thousands watching them from the ground. No one ever got used to it; no one who saw it wished to see it again, although, of course, many saw it again. Each jumper, no matter how many there were, brought fresh horror, elicited shock, tested the spirit, struck a lasting blow. Those tumbling through the air remained, by all accounts, eerily silent; those on the ground screamed… And it was, at last, the sight of the jumpers that provided the corrective to those who insisted on saying that what they were witnessing was ‘like a movie,’ for this was an ending as unimaginable as it was unbearable: Americans responding to the worst terrorist attack in the history of the world with acts of heroism, with acts of sacrifice, with acts of generosity, with acts of martyrdom, and, by terrible necessity, with one prolonged act of—if these words can be applied to mass murder—mass suicide.: • When I see Covid, and its airborne transmission, normalized, I feel very much like I’m seeing an “unimaginable ending”; like I’m watching a mass suicide, albeit on a much larger scale than the 2,977 memorialized at the former WTC, and with the “jumpers” not “eerily silent” but chanting “lead your life,” as they have been taught, on the way down. It’s not especially “bearable.”

Class Warfare

Everything’s going according to plan:

Hence bots, AI, etc.

News of the Wired

“Why Roman concrete is still stronger than RAAC (and other modern concretes)” [Chemistry World]. “Whence this remarkable resilience of Roman concrete architecture? It’s all down to the chemistry. The key component of mortars and cements is lime: calcium oxide, made by heating a calcium carbonate mineral such as limestone to drive off CO2. Add water and you have slaked lime Ca(OH)2, which was typically mixed as a paste with sand or rubble (aggregate) to make concrete. The hydroxide gradually absorbs CO2 from the air and reforms a hard binder of calcium carbonate. But Roman concrete was different. They mixed lime with volcanic ash composed of glassy aluminosilicate minerals to make the cement that bound big chunks of volcanic rock in a kind of random three-dimensional mosaic. Instead of forming carbonate, the slaked lime reacted with components of the ash to produce calcium aluminosilicate phases – basically a kind of rock itself, which sets around the chunky aggregate in a similar way to how geological conglomerate rocks are made. Better still, the concrete can go on reacting for years and even centuries.” • This is, however, a matter of controversy, and according to the author, the MIT guys got it wrong!

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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 AM:

AM writes: “I was ‘flaneuring’ this evening and came across this scene at the St Anthony of Padua parish, of the Franciscan Friars organization. Flower worship on West Houston Street, NYC.”

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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. tegnost

    The Pritzker family—which made its fortune through ownership of Hyatt hotels—had long ties to the CIA. They were leading depositors in the Bahamas-based Castle Bank, a CIA outfit founded by one of the CIA’s mob liaisons, Paul Helliwell, which specialized in off-shoring money.[27] The Pritzkers were also war profiteers.

    In other words, eminently qualified for the current situation

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I was surprised the other day when I was tracking down this Overshoot Commission (what they would have appointed if the bullets had flown over Kennedy’s head?). The Overshoot Commission is a creation of the Paris Peace Forum, an orgsanization founded in 2018 with the support of Macron and the French government. It’s charge is “international governance” in contrast to the World Economic Forum and the Munich Security Conference.

      The list of supporters and partners reads like a Who’s Who of billionaires with Gates represented by multiple organizations, Soros, Bezos, the
      Rockefellers, the Carnegies (are there still Carnegies?) But no Pritzkers, no Hyatt, no Breakthrough Institute. So how did they not get invited to this party? The Overshoot Commission offshoot of the Paris Peace Forum is all about solar geoengineering, and the Pritzker Ecomodernists include David Keith, whom Gates hired to do solar geoengineering at Harvard. Are the Pritzkers not pals of Macron?

  2. Carolinian

    Wuk says Gavin has great hair whereas Biden has been bald (he’s had a procedure) for decades. The choice seems obvious.

    Just give us an empty headed spokesperson who won’t be flirting with WW3. Pleeze!!

  3. J.D. Hollis

    I lived around the corner from that church for over a decade on Thompson. Makes me miss the neighborhood.

  4. Wukchumni

    It was quiet, too quiet in a forum renowned by its silent but deadly approach. Somebody had to speak up.

    1. griffen

      Twas a week left in summer,
      Before Fall season arrives,
      People were scurrying in a hurry,
      For all the right reasons.

      Pumpkin Spice is now in the air,
      But also this brings Halloween scares,
      And candy galore a feast of refined sugar,
      Hey it keeps kids from picking boogers.

    2. Carolinian

      A quiet week in Lake Wobegone? My favorite pulp parody is given by Astaire in The Band Wagon.

      “She came at me in sections. She had more curves than a scenic railway.”

  5. Screwball

    Where to start in this bizarre crazy world we live in.

    I’ll start with the good news; Many Twitter people are reporting Mitt Romney will not run for the Senate again. That’s great news IMO. I consider him a warmongering, flip flopping, POS and America as a whole will be better off. His Bain Capital bought, wrecked, and closed our small towns largest employer, and it wasn’t pretty. Good riddance.

    An AP story linked below;
    Putin says prosecution of Trump shows US political system is ‘rotten’


    “As for the prosecution of Trump, for us what is happening in today’s conditions, in my opinion, is good because it shows the rottenness of the American political system, which cannot pretend to teach others democracy,” Putin said at an Eastern Economic Forum gathering in Russia’s Pacific Coast city of Vladivostok.

    “Everything that is happening with Trump is the persecution of a political rival for political reasons. That’s what it is. And this is being done in front of the public of the United States and the whole world,” he said.

    I’m sure some will hate him for telling the truth, but most of them hate him anyway? I can’t find much to argue in what he said. And of course we are not disappointed. Take it away Liz Cheney (who said in a Tweet);

    Putin has now officially endorsed the Putin-wing of the Republican Party.

    Putin Republicans & their enablers will end up on the ash heap of history. Patriotic Americans in both parties who believe in the values of liberal democracy will make sure of it.

    Of course! A little bitter Lizzy? I imagine that phrase will catch on. By the end of the week they will retire the MAGA Republicans and Putin Republicans will emerge as the new slur. At least this warmonger isn’t voting for more war money (not that it matters with all the other unhinged rabid war lovers we already have).

    What a world we live in.

    1. Pat

      I am just amused that Liz thinks tweets like that will eventually make her relevant in the Republican Party again. (I’m so sure she is now on the shortlist for VP for every nonTrump Presidential candidate. It isn’t as if they also haven’t figured out she isn’t running because it isn’t just in her home state she couldn’t even get elected for garbage collector.)

    2. Vicky Cookies

      Funny from Liz. I’m sure the social benefits of switching parties were worth it for her to push a third world war. Putin also said: “I think there will be no fundamental changes regarding Russia in US foreign policy, no matter who is elected president.” and “Mr. Trump says he will solve acute problems, including the Ukrainian crisis, in a few days, this can only please. Nevertheless, he too imposed sanctions on Russia during his presidency.” (via TASS).
      Now, this could be a bit of safeguarding from the escalatory risks arising from further Democratic Party hysteria regarding Russian ‘interference’; my read is that, whatever the other concerns, it is understood overseas that imperialism is bipartisan – as perhaps Ms. Cheny’s career proves – and that the military and economic drivers of policy are not significantly shifted by the occasional changing of the guard in the executive branch.

  6. LaRuse

    Re: Popular nasal decongestant doesn’t actually relieve congestion…
    I had a slight panic before I read the full article. It’s Sudafed season for me – the “hard” stuff that you have to have your ID scanned to buy. Something about ragweed season combined with my terrible dental health means the Autumn allergy season results in massive sinus pain and pressure that moves around my face and often into my jaws/teeth. An old school sudafed relieves that pain/pressure every time and I was just sure this was going to be the next step towards making pseudoephedrine completely unavailable.
    I am relieved to find that it’s just the dummy stuff they put on the market in place of pseudoephedrine that they are finally admitting doesn’t actually work. Anyone with a sinus headache could have told you that phenylephrine doesn’t work…
    It makes you wonder though how many other junk medicines are out on the counters that don’t do a thing for what they are labeled for? Yet I am looked down on and mocked in certain crowds for using herbs as medicinals (and I don’t mean everyone’s favorite Schedule 3 herb, but stuff like Mountain Rose Herbs Forest Tea for an upper respiratory cough) because they are “junk science” without RTCs.

    1. LawnDart

      Re; Class Warfare

      Well, if more people are indeed leaving the workforce due to long-term illness, shouldn’t we see the stats via Social Security Disability claims?

      [Just a joke! A bitter joke…]

    2. playon

      Have you tried the cortisone based nasal sprays? They work well for me – also a simple nasal rinse with distilled water and saline I’ve found to be extremely helpful.

      1. SG

        I too have found nasal irrigation to be really helpful – and there have also been some studies showing that it reduces the likelihood of infection after COVID exposure (another layer for the “swiss cheese” protection model). If your issues are allergy-related, you can now buy antihistamine nasal spray (Azelastine) OTC. For me, at least, it works much better than steroids.

        1. britzklieg

          it’s intense, but ultimately the opposite of horrible… it’s life changing. Sinuses clear within seconds and the mucous thins and becomes wonderfully viscous which allows for a very satisfying clearing of the whole mechanism. It’s great for migraines and tinnitus as well… very clarifying, heh… https://sinusplumber.com/

          btw – the only fda approved medication (not that that’s a satisfactory measure) for migraines is a capsaicin (cayenne pepper) nasal spray. Works for me!

      1. skippy

        Grandfather on the farm had a small old bandaid tin with dried wild onion and garlic, small but potent stuff. Saw him shake a small about into his hand and pop it into his mouth and chew. Asked about and he gave me a sample … whoooboy … instantly everything opens up to the max …

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree with you. It took a modern study to learn that phenylephrine does not work? I learned this the first time I tried using phenylephrine instead of dealing with the ridiculous constraints on obtaining pseudoephedrine — a drug that had worked for me since I was a small child. I find it hard to believe that those cooking methamphetamine at scale have not found other better precursors than pseudoephedrine tablets, although I admit the pseudoephedrine restrictions probably did put a crimp on the efforts of small producers.

      Yes some nasal sprays work, but they are more expensive than generic pseudoephedrine. My neti pot also works. I prefer a combination of neti pot wash using sea salt accompanied by a pseudoephedrine tablet.

  7. John Beech

    . . . If Biden were not to run, the counter-factual dream of a Hollywood ending with Michael Douglas from The American President . . .

    Hey watch it, that’s one of our favorite movies. We have the DVD. Ditto, The West Wing boxed set, also family favorites.

    Hard to believe we voted Trump, eh?

      1. Carolinian

        American President was prior to West Wing, both written by Aaron Sorkin. The movie had Douglas and Annette Bening as the president’s girlfriend.

        Hey I’d vote for Michael Douglas. He’s a good guy. I loved his show with the late Alan Arkin.

  8. antidlc

    “When I see Covid, and its airborne transmission, normalized, I feel very much like I’m seeing an “unimaginable ending”; like I’m watching a mass suicide, albeit on a much larger scale than the 2,977 memorialized at the former WTC, and with the “jumpers” not “eerily silent” but chanting “lead your life,” as they have been taught, on the way down. It’s not especially “bearable.””

    Covid may have permanently damaged people’s immunity

    “People are turning up at long Covid clinics and saying: ‘No one told me that my fourth or fifth infection could cause this’.

  9. britzklieg

    “Americans responding to the worst terrorist attack in the history of the world…”

    I was in Manhattan that morning, not close (Upper West Side not close) and it was undoubtedly a horrible event. The “Falling Man” story is about as poignant as it gets…

    But “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” leaves no doubt in my mind that those most effected by Bush/Cheney’s “Shock and Awe” act of state terrorism against Iraq, based on verified falsehoods, supported by Colin Powell and most Democrats… and Tony Blair, of course, was worse. Far worse.

  10. Amfortas the Hippie

    i like stuff like that about roman concrete.
    such stuff is almost alive, even now.
    kinda like the old pane glass…still technically a liquid, and thicker at the bottom after an hundred or 2 years(i have a window in my house, salvaged from one of these 160 year old farm houses that is like that.)
    doesnt hold heat in fer sh&t,lol…but it’s cool looking.

    (i have “window panels”, made from that shiny cyano…something… rigid foam insulation board, edges taped, and whole thing wrapped in commercial saran, and then a sort of pillowcase….for all such ancient windows. both for extreme cold and for extreme heat. the trouble is not storing them(rack for that in corner of shop)…but remembering which one goes in which window)

  11. chris

    Anyone tried to create a new ID.me account for IRS purposes? The old sign in method was retired several months ago. For what I need to do, I was told going through the process was required. That process involves the third party working for the government to scan you using your own smart phone and comparing the image to whatever photo ID you provided. There’s a few pages of disclaimers you have to read through about what they do with the biometric data they collect as part of the process. The scanning they do with your phone is Trippy. The lined image they created made me look like I was 100 years old.

    I feel like I just gave the IRS part of my soul so I can have an easier time managing my taxes and quarterly estimated payments. I held out as long as I could but the IRS requires that you sign up with ID.me to use most of their self service stuff now.

    Not happy about that!

    1. antidlc

      Yes, chris, I mentioned this some time ago. I tried to get a copy of the estimated taxes I filed and found out about this process.

      I didn’t do it. I called the IRS the other day to talk to a real person, but there were options on the phone menu that can give you some info without having to go through id.me.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      paper, snail mail, only.
      i tell them i dont have electricity.
      live by rushlight in my big meadbarn, etc.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        IRS is maybe the nicest federal agency.
        ive had nothing but good dealings with them.
        even…especially…when i was in arrears after i closed my cafe…still had to pay all that payroll tax.
        they worked with me, no big deal…and no threats, at all.
        overall,prolly the best experience i’ve had with a federal agency.

        1. John Zelnicker

          Thank you, Amfortas.

          As a tax accountant I deal with the IRS on a regular basis, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Starting about 20 years ago, they changed their focus and attitude from being confrontational to emphasizing good customer service.

          Folks need to get over their old fears about the agency. Just don’t ignore their letters, get in touch with them or hire someone like me to do it.

  12. Hana M

    “paper ballots should be tabulated by optical-scan computers….” In my town paper ballots are all hand marked and then scanned. Isn’t this true of all optically scanned ballots?

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          here i will insert my habitual rant about a smaller polity, where you can Know the people counting your ballots.
          like i do.
          i know where they live, who their kids and grandkids are….where they all go to school…lol…and on and on.
          and so does everybody else.
          same thing with the bank presidents(2), bank manager(1-the other, ferrin, bank, wife’s aunt) and all the city and county govt people, down to the dog catcher, and up to the mayor.
          so yeah…smaller polities.
          i can barge in and talk to any one of those people.
          can you do the same, with the people making decisions for you?
          scale that up, and we’ll have an actual democratic republic.
          (Dark Crystal, at the end, where they merge)

  13. Jason Boxman

    Thinking about this now, from Biden’s “ha ha I’m not masked” performance, once again we know that Trump is honest in that he openly embraces the Great Barrington Declaration, whereas Biden and liberal Democrats maintain a kind of charade, which Biden himself is on record as not believing, while their actual policy is that of Donald Trump.

    Fun times.

      1. ambrit

        And next, just like HIV back in the “bad” old days, we’ll be told that only “those kind of people” get it.
        I can sense the “Othering” being constructed.

  14. Jason Boxman

    ‘We are pleased to join this collaborative effort to develop and assess the safety, immunogenicity, and effectiveness of an adenovirus type 4 based vaccine expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein as a novel approach to the prevention of COVID-19,’ said Wright

    But so far targeting the ‘spike’ has been an abject failure. Why will this time be any different?

    From SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines Based on the Spike Glycoprotein and Implications of New Viral Variants:

    Since the S glycoprotein plays an important role in the entry of the virus into host cells, it has been the main target of many vaccines since antibodies against this protein block the entry of the virus, inhibiting viral replication. The sequence of this protein was published on January 10, 2020 (60).

    In addition, an antibody that is capable of binding to RBD of both viruses SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 has been identified to neutralize both infections. The binding of this antibody to both RBDs has suggested that this site is less likely to mutate than another sites (32). Therefore, the RBD has been proposed as an excellent vaccine target.

    But we now have ample evidence that this target absolutely does mutate. A lot. Often. And confounds the immune system, so prior infection or vaccination does not prevent re-infection. So why continue to target this piece?

    And here’s this from The Atlantic: COVID-19 Vaccine Makers Are Looking Beyond the Spike Protein.

    In recent months, though, it’s become clear that the coronavirus is a slippery, shape-shifting foe—and spike appears to be one of its most malleable traits.

    May 21, 2021. Two years ago. So how is that working out?

    This is truly the stupidest timeline.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “The Falling Man”

    Something about this photo seems off to me. There were plenty of people who jumped that day and yet it is this photo that gets all the attention. One firefighter was saying after he arrived that they kept on hearing crash after crash and then they realized it was the sound of people hitting the ground. The notion of people jumping seems to have hit a raw nerve though and I heard one uniformed New York official a day or two later denying it ever happened in spite of all the videos. But precisely the same happened in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire – also in New York – and one man was seen helping one girl after another jump from a window. Given a choice, people will jump rather than burn alive in place. So this hunt for the identity of the guy in that photo is kinda weird and deliberately pushes away the photos and images of all the other people that faced the final decision that day and they get forgotten.

  16. notabanker

    So Biden’s out and it’s game on for his successor. I wonder what Josh,Toby, Sam, CJ or Charlie are up to these days?

  17. ambrit

    That flower worship tableau looks like an “Our Lady of Fatima” shrine. There is a lot of iconography to unpack in that ‘simple’ scene.

    1. Late Introvert

      To me it was just creepy, and not in a good way. Submit to the will of the church elders, get on your knees, and here’s some flowers that will die fast and we’ll scoop them up when they do. Also, it’s a hard stone you are kneeling on, but very very clean.

      Ya, I don’t get the Catholics at all.

      1. Yves Smith

        This comment is bigoted. I should rip it out but I will put you on notice instead. Please keep your prejudices to yourself if you want to remain in good standing;

  18. Glen

    A great talk by Rob Johnson and Tom Ferguson!

    The Lehman Disaster and Why It Matters Today

    On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers, a giant investment bank with a storied history, filed for bankruptcy. The shock was profound; world markets melted down.

    Over the next few days, one financial behemoth after another, including American International Group (AIG), Washington Mutual, and Wachovia collapsed. The crown jewels of Wall Street – Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs – slid toward the abyss. The Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and other regulators were forced to step in, sometimes in conjunction with famous private investors, to rescue the system. The government in effect nationalized AIG and, after two cliffhanging votes in Congress, it directly injected capital into leading private banks.

    Ever since then, debates have raged about why the authorities – the Fed and the Treasury — allowed Lehman to go broke, after earlier helping to salvage a series of other institutions.

    In this interview, INET President Robert Johnson and INET Research Director Thomas Ferguson review those dramatic events. They also draw disquieting parallels between the Lehman debacle and more recent episodes of financial deregulation, including controversies over crypto and private equity.

    When people discuss how FDR’s New Deal has been systemically dismantled, one of the key parts was Glass–Steagall legislation which was part of the Banking Act of 1933. The financial regulations put in place had made the finance sector a safer, more controlled, and productive part of society rather than the current giant FIRE sector monstrosity which buys our government, owns our MSM, makes extremely rich and powerful oligarchs but only by wrecking so much of our United States of America.

    One of Tom’s comments struck me, “There should not be the equivalent of Medicare for All for banks, but that’s what we got.”

    Indeed, no Medicare for All for the American people, but Wall St banks, and bankers, sure!

  19. Dou Gen

    I don’t know the Chinese characters for the food eaten in the Korean proverb, but if it is spicy red peppers, that would be 唐辛子, lit. “Chinese mustard plants, red peppers,” at least in Japanese. Actually, the character 唐 in Japanese also means “Korean” or even “foreign,” but dictionaries usually fixate on “Chinese,” so the Tuttle guidebook with the proverb in it may have followed that meaning. In the case of both Korea and Japan, hot red peppers were brought from Mexico by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. They were a much bigger hit in Korea than in Japan, though kimchee sushi is popular in some quarters. Btw, even if the proverb is usually written in hangul phonetic script in modern Korean, the original proverb would probably contain Chinese characters.

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