2:00PM Water Cooler 9/22/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Mrs. Moreau’s Warbler, -6.37335, 36.92794, Morogoro, Tanzania.

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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

Biden Administration

“Biden tells Zelenskyy that U.S. will send Ukraine ATACMS long-range missiles” [NBC]. “President Joe Biden has told his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that the United States will provide a small number of long-range missiles to aid the war with Russia, three U.S. officials and a congressional official familiar with the discussions told NBC News on Friday. The officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not say when the missiles would be delivered or when a public announcement would be made…. Defense officials have said the U.S. does not have a large stockpile of excess ATACMS, which have a bigger payload than traditional artillery, to provide to Ukraine.”


Time for the Countdown Clock!

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“Trump says he always had autoworkers’ backs. Union leaders say his first-term record shows otherwise” [Associated Press]. “Trump will bypass the second Republican presidential debate on Sept. 27 to instead visit striking autoworkers in Michigan, where he has looked to position himself as an ally of blue-collar workers by promising to raise wages and protect jobs if elected to a second term. But union leaders say Trump’s record in the White House speaks for itself. Union leaders have said his first term was far from worker-friendly, citing unfavorable rulings from the nation’s top labor board and the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as unfulfilled promises of automotive jobs. While the United Auto Workers union has withheld an endorsement in the 2024 presidential race, its leadership has repeatedly rebuffed Trump. Nevertheless, Trump plans to speak directly to a room of former and current union members. A Trump campaign radio ad released Tuesday in Detroit and Toledo, Ohio, praised auto workers and said the former president has ‘always had their back.'” • Well, at least Trump’s showing up (exactly as in East Palestine).

IA: “Iowa Could Open Up the 2024 GOP Primary” [Karl Rove, Wall Street Journal]. “It’s beginning to dawn on Donald Trump that Iowa matters. Until now it looked as if the former president was devoting more time to meeting with lawyers than engaging with voters, so his recent burst of activity in the Hawkeye State is revealing. His notoriously cheap campaign dropped $700,000 on Iowa TV last week. He finally hired a director to oversee his Iowa ground game. On Wednesday he stopped in Maquoketa and Dubuque, and he vows to return to the state four times in October. That means that over the next six weeks he’ll spend about as many days in Iowa as he has over the past nine months…. Mr. Trump’s competitors, unburdened by multiple criminal indictments, are making up in their volume of appearances in early states what Mr. Trump gets with his infrequent rallies. Last Saturday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had six events in Iowa while former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley had eight stops there across Friday and Saturday… Today, the former president has a big lead in national GOP primary polls. But beware: Republican primary voters don’t like being taken for granted. Right now that’s what Mr. Trump and his team are doing. Voters know how to register their unhappiness.” • Rove points to the possibility of a “surprising second” in Iowa, as with Mondale and Hart in 1984 (though surely the surprise is manufactured by the press?). That would mean a long drawn-out campaign.

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Republican Funhouse

“Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events” [Pro Publica]. “During [the annual winter donor summit of the Koch network], the [Justice Thomas] went to a private dinner for the network’s donors. Thomas has attended Koch donor events at least twice over the years, according to interviews with three former network employees and one major donor. The justice was brought in to speak, staffers said, in the hopes that such access would encourage donors to continue giving. That puts Thomas in the extraordinary position of having served as a fundraising draw for a network that has brought cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term. …. Thomas’ involvement in the events is part of a yearslong, personal relationship with the Koch brothers that has remained almost entirely out of public view. It developed over years of trips to the Bohemian Grove, a secretive all-men’s retreat in Northern California. Thomas has been a regular at the Grove for two decades, where he stayed in a small camp with real estate billionaire Harlan Crow and the Kochs, according to records and people who’ve spent time with him there…. ‘I can’t imagine — it takes my breath away, frankly — that he would go to a Koch network event for donors,’ said John E. Jones III, a retired federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush. Jones said that if he had gone to a Koch summit as a district court judge, ‘I’d have gotten a letter that would’ve commenced a disciplinary proceeding.’ ‘What you’re seeing is a slow creep toward unethical behavior. Do it if you can get away with it,’ Jones said.'”

“The Billionaire Keeping TikTok on Phones in the U.S.” [Wall Street Journal]. “TikTok had hardly any friends in government earlier this year as the Biden administration, Congress and state legislatures were threatening to ban the Chinese-owned video giant. TikTok now has many more friends, with something in common: backing from billionaire financier Jeff Yass. They’ve helped stall attempts to outlaw America’s most-downloaded app. Yass’s investment company, Susquehanna International Group, bet big on TikTok in 2012, buying a stake in parent company ByteDance now measured at about 15%. That translates into a personal stake for Yass of 7% in ByteDance. It is worth roughly $21 billion based on the company’s recent valuation, or much of his $28 billion net worth as gauged by Bloomberg. Yass is also one of the top donors to the Club for Growth, an influential conservative group that rallied Republican opposition to a TikTok ban. Yass has donated $61 million to the Club for Growth’s political-spending arm since 2010, or about 24% of its total, according to federal records. Club for Growth made public its opposition to banning TikTok in March, in an opinion article by its president, at a time when sentiment against the platform among segments of both parties was running high on Capitol Hill. Days later, Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) stood up on the Senate floor and quashed an attempt to fast-track a bill by Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) to ban downloading of the TikTok app….. In June, Yass donated $3 million to a political committee backing Paul. Including that contribution, Yass and his wife, Janine Yass, have donated more than $24 million to Paul or committees that support him since 2015, according to federal records. Club for Growth has given a Paul-supporting political committee $1.8 million since 2020.” • That’s nice.

“Who’s Bankrolling the Shutdown Showdown?” [Exposed by CMD]. “The ‘No Security, No Funding‘ framework used by the Freedom Caucus for its demands is echoed in materials being circulated by right-wing groups including the Conservative Partnership Institute (or CPI, which effectively provides staffing for the Freedom Caucus), the secretive Council for National Policy’s Conservative Action Project, the America First Policy Institute, the Heritage Foundation, Club for Growth, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Family Research Council, and the Eagle Forum, all of which are pushing for a government shutdown unless their ideological demands are met. Although these groups’ arguments focus on reigning in government spending, their demands have hardly anything to do with the federal budget since they’re all based on culture war priorities. For example, a recent letter circulated by the Conservative Action Project and signed by more than 100 individuals — including representatives from the groups mentioned above — contends that any spending bill must include policy reforms that would ‘stop the woke cancer that has infected the Pentagon.'” • Which is cray cray, because cancer isn’t infectious. Anyhow, if “woke” was the knee-jerking barnburner these guys think it is, DeSantis wouldn’t be buying new lifts for his shows. Stale, flat, unprofitable…..  

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

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“Sen. Menendez, wife indicted on bribe charges as probe finds $100,000 in gold bars, prosecutors say” [Associated Press]. “The sweeping indictment alleges that Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, provided sensitive and non-public U.S. government information to Egyptian government officials and took other steps to secretly help Egypt, including ghost-writing a letter on behalf of Egypt pushing other senators to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to the country. Authorities also allege the senator sought to derail a criminal investigation into an associate by pushing for a U.S. attorney nominee he believed could be influenced. A search of the couple’s home turned up $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in hidden cash, said prosecutors, who announced the charges against the 69-year-old Democrat nearly six years after an earlier criminal case against him ended with a deadlocked jury. The latest indictment is unrelated to the earlier charges that alleged Menendez accepted lavish gifts to pressure government officials on behalf of a Florida doctor.” • Commentary:


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“A corruption trial revealed a #MeToo ethics entanglement for a top Biden adviser” [NPR]. From Septembr 13, still germane. “A top adviser to President Joe Biden, whose prominent communications firm helped launch a high-profile effort to assist victims of sexual harassment, rape and assault, was also a paid adviser to a powerful Illinois politician while he was being sued by one of those victims. Anita Dunn, co-founder of the communications firm SKDK and widely considered a member of the president’s inner circle, provided “crisis communications” assistance to Michael Madigan, the then-Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, from 2018 to 2019. That work netted Dunn and her firm more than $200,000, according to campaign finance disclosures. While Dunn was advising Madigan, Hampton received support in her case from Dunn’s firm, which partnered with the anti-harassment charity the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. Dunn’s work for Madigan was specifically focused on responding to allegations stemming from Hampton’s lawsuit. As a result, SKDK (the D stands for “Dunn”) was on the one hand supporting Hampton in her harassment and retaliation case through its partnership with the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and on the other getting paid by a defendant in that very lawsuit. Reached by phone, Dunn said she was heading into a meeting and told NPR to ‘just call SKDK on that, thank you,’ before hanging up…. NPR asked for a copy of SKDK’s conflict of interest policy, but the firm declined to provide it.” • Good reporting by NPR and well worth a read for the horrid detail, though if Dunn were a Republican the welkin would still be ringing with the cries of aghastitude.

“Democrats drop PR firm co-founded by top Biden adviser over ‘disqualifying’ #MeToo conflict” [FOX]. “Illinois House Democrats have dropped a top communications firm co-founded by a member of President Biden’s inner circle after it was revealed it raked in $200,000 providing counsel to a Democratic campaign facing sexual harassment charges while also positioning itself as a leader in the #MeToo movement. ‘The glaring conflict of interest and conduct in this case sends a chilling message to victims and survivors that they can’t even trust the people who claim to be their greatest supporters,’ Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, said Monday in a statement to NPR. ‘We find this to be deeply disheartening and disqualifying for us,'” • FOX quoting NPR. What is this world coming to! (And it is interesting that NPR felt free to take a pot shot at an important figure in BidenWorld.)

The Bush Legacy

Our Famously Free Press


Roe v. Wade

Trucker Convoys

2018 Post Mortem


2016 Post Mortem



Election Legitimacy


The Debate

Riots and Protests

The Debates



“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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Science fiction stuff!

Yesterday, hair. Today, beards:

Covid is Airborne

Good news (1):

This could also have been, as I have grumbled before, been done a year ago at least, say by Dr. Jill Biden and some cute schoolkids on Oprah or Good Morning America. 

Good news (2):

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CSA = Canadian Standards Organization; LTC = Long-Term Care:

And the sociology of standards-writing:

Sounds like HICPAC…. (I ran this tweet yesterday because it was interesting in itself, but the tweet was in response to Fox, who at press time had deleted his tweet, replacing it later with the tweet above.)

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Looks like there’s demand?

“Spikevax,” though. That’s a little too on-the-nose for me. 

Testing and Tracking

Can any New York readers confirm or deny this idiocy?

Here’s a happy thought!

But I guess if you want to find out if you’re still shedding — or find out of you have a Covid reservoir somewhere in your body? — this is a good method.

Elite Maleficence

Readers, have any of you gotten reactions like this?

I can understand a negative reaction to “public health” as practiced. But to the very idea? A second example:

Only Belgium. But the EU allows this?

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, September 18:

Lambert here: “Data last updated September 18, 2023 from samples collected during the week of September 11, 2023. This Thursday’s update is delayed. Visualizations are next expected to be updated on September 25, 2023. Most recent data are subject to change.” So even wastewater data is turning to garbage? (I checked CDC data, and it was updated on September 18, too? Funding issues? Everybody using the same lab behind the scenes, and there was a debacle of some kind?)=

Lambert here: The national drop is due exclusively to the South. Other signals — scattered and partial though they be — also converge on a drop: ER visits, positivity. We shall see. (I would include CDC’s wastewater map for comparison, but it’s eleven days old.)

Regional data:

The same regional variation also appears in the Walgreen’s positivity data. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.

• One of our best indicators, The Yankee Candle Index:

There’s a real disconnect between official (CDC) and quasi-official (Biobot) data, and anecdotes like this, and anecdotes generally (especially from parents). It’s making me a little queasy, although I grant I am easily queased. Then again, would we have all these euphemisms if there were nothing to euphemize?


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 16:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). Still BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.

From CDC, September 2:


Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

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 16:

Drop coinciding with wastewater drop.

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 21:

Flattened peak continues. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 16:

Lambert here:  At least we can see that positivity and hospitalization correlate.

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC? 


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, September 18:                                                                                       

-8.3%. An enormous drop (so not Labor Day data). However, I cannot recall seeing the map so polarized; so much deep green, so much deep red. 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 Cleveland Clinic, September 16:

Lambert here: I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

From CDC, traveler’s data, September 4:

Back up again And here are the variants:

No BA.2.86 for three of the long-delayed collection weeks. We know BA.2.86 is in the country, so apparently it escaped CDC’s net.


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 20:

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: 1,175,562  – 1,175,495 = 67 (67 * 365 = 24,455 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 21:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily again. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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Real Estate:  “W.P. Carey Exits Office Market as Demand Sinks Because of ‘Work-From-Home’ Trend” [Investopedia (ChrisFromGA)]. “The collapse in demand for commercial office space after the pandemic-related rise in “work from home” (WFH) has led W.P. Carey (WPC) to exit that business segment. The real estate investor announced that its board has unanimously agreed to exit the market by spinning off or selling all the office assets in its portfolio.” • Hmm.

Tech: “Apple fucked us on right to repair (again)” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “Right to repair has no cannier, more dedicated adversary than Apple, a company whose most innovative work is dreaming up new ways to sneakily sabotage electronics repair while claiming to be a caring environmental steward, a lie that covers up the mountains of e-waste that Apple dooms our descendants to wade through….. Tim Cook laid it out for his investors: when people can repair their devices, they don’t buy new ones. When people don’t buy new devices, Apple doesn’t sell them new devices. It’s that’s simple…. VIN-locking is used by automakers to block independent mechanics from repairing your car; even if they use the manufacturer’s own parts, the parts and the engine will refuse to work together until the manufacturer’s rep keys in the unlock code.” • Well worth a read, since everybody’s VIN-locking. 

Entertainment: “WWE founder Vince McMahon sets the stage for his possible exit” [Axios]. “Pro wrestling magnate Vince McMahon is hinting that he wants out of the family business, according to regulatory filings tied to WWE’s recent merger with the UFC. The new combined entity, TKO, has registered all of McMahon’s shares for sale, thus enabling him to avoid the lockup period that applies to other TKO stockholders like Endeavor and Silver Lake. McMahon currently holds around 28.84 million TKO shares, which was valued at $3 billion as of yesterday’s market close.” • Not too shabbby.


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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 22 at 1:37:25 PM ET.

The Conservatory

“‘Stop Making Sense’ and the Transformative Power of Collaboration” [The New Yorker]. “It is now having a theatrical rerelease, in a new restoration.” Terrific on the big screen:

A propos!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“‘Inquiry’ launched into Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at BU” [Boston Globe]. “Boston University said it is conducting an ‘inquiry’ into celebrity author Ibram X. Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research after receiving complaints about the center’s culture and grant management. The announcement trails news of recent layoffs at the center, which launched in June 2020 amid the racial justice protests that followed the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Saida Grundy, a BU professor who worked at the center from fall 2020 to spring 2021, sent an email to then-provost Jean Morrison in December 2021 alleging dysfunction and a “”pattern of amassing grants without any commitment to producing the research obligated”” by them, according to The Boston Globe.” 

Class Warfare

“UAW Strikes at More GM and Stellantis Sites, But Spares Ford” [Wall Street Journal]. “The United Auto Workers union on Friday sent another 5,600 members out on strike at General Motors GM and Chrysler-parent Stellantis, widening the impact of its work stoppage and extending it to parts-distribution centers that supply dealerships. The union spared Ford from additional walkouts, saying it was making progress in contract talks with the automaker. UAW President Shawn Fain told members during a livestream address Friday morning that the action targets 38 parts-distribution centers across 20 states. The move brings the number of UAW members on strike to more than 18,000. The distribution facilities ship service parts to dealerships. Crimping the flow of components from the centers is likely to disrupt GM and Stellantis dealers’ service operations, potentially leading to longer wait times for customers. Fain said Ford had sweetened its offer in recent days, and the union wanted to recognize that the company was serious about reaching a deal…. In 2019, when the UAW went on strike across all of GM’s U.S. facilities, the cutoff of service parts to dealerships began affecting stores within a week. Dealers struggled to get backup components. Many said they had to turn away service customers.”

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“Blue-collar workers are our only hope” [Unherd]. “AI’s problems start at the top. Unlike the internet, which spawned a number of independent companies (including Google and Microsoft), AI seems to be controlled by existing tech giants, which are investing heavily in these new firms. ARM, for instance, the British-based chip designer whose IPO last week set Wall Street aflutter, is garnering huge investments from other Big Tech firms, including Nvidia, Intel, AMD and Apple. Elsewhere, Open AI’s largest investor is Microsoft, while DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014…. According to the US Labor Department, AI and automation could impact as many as many as 90 million American workers, with warehouse workers among the most prominent losers. What will really alter class relations, however, is the impact on more professional jobs. They have been the ascendent class for the last two generations, growing at an average annual rate of 2.2% since 2001 — well above the 0.4% annual rise for total employment. But whereas the computer revolution was a boon to those working as programmers and market researchers, AI does the job for them, often with more speed and accuracy. As Rony Abovitz, one of the pioneers of virtual reality and AI, has observed: “”It’s the end of the white-collar knowledge work.”” In such a world, it is not hard to envisage a new kind of class conflict that extends beyond the traditional Marxist conflict between low-wage workers and better-educated owners.” • No, it’s exactly the traditional Marxist conflict between capital (buyers of labor power) and workers (sellers of labor power). AI, in theory, would reduce the PMC to worker status by eliminating their symbolic capital (credentials, conference presentations, awards, etc.) and their social capital (FlexNets). Of course, AI really is bullshit and really does suck, so such a transition would not be universal. But that’s the idea. Same “conflict” in more technical — and in my mind, less supple — terms:

“Marxism & Class” [MR Online]. “Class is a key concept for Marxism. The word has many uses as a term of differentiation and stratification. In social-political-economic terms, it is a way of categorising social groups in terms of wealth, status, education, occupation, and culture, often in a very loose and somewhat shoddy way, when it is addressed at all. For Marxism, it is a more precise concept and one that is central to its whole analysis of society. So what is class for Marxism and how is it different from other approaches? Basically, Marxism sees class in terms of relationship to the means of production. In capitalist society, there are two primary classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat—those who own the means of production and those who depend on wage labour to live. Within these classes, there are various strata and other differences, but the great divide is between those who do the work of the world and those who are able to appropriate the fruits of their work, who can extract the surplus value of labour without labouring. I am assuming a broad definition of who is the working class here, including not only the prototypical proletarian, a male manual labourer, but all who work by hand or brain, those who make the world as we know it happen, those who live by their labour, whether plumbers or pilots or professors, whether they build houses, stack shelves, perform surgery, or pursue scientific research, of all genders, races, ethnicities, and nations, the many who are manipulated into serving the interests of the few.” • Some issues: (1) Marx, in the single page (!!) final chapter of Capital Volume III identifies at least four:

There are three great social groups whose members, the individuals forming them, live on wages [(1) working class], profit [(2) bourgieosie] and ground-rent [(3) rentiers] respectively, on the realisation of their labour-power, their capital, and their landed property.

However, from this standpoint, physicians and officials, e.g., [(4) PMC].would also constitute two classes, for they belong to two distinct social groups, the members of each of these groups receiving their revenue from one and the same source. The same would also be true of the infinite fragmentation of interest and rank into which the division of social labour splits labourers as well as capitalists and landlords-the latter, e.g., into owners of vineyards, farm owners, owners of forests, mine owners and owners of fisheries.

(In classic “proof too small to be contained in the margin,” the final sentence reads “[Here the manuscript breaks off.]”) (2) I am strongly in favor of adding social and symbolic capital to the mix, a la Bourdieu, because otherwise there’s no way to give an account of the workings of propaganda and delusion (as well as love, filiality, piety, etc.). Bourdiue remarks somewhere that “sociology is a martial art,” and I think the [M|m]arxists could use some new moves that don’t sacrifice analytical rigor.

“Sen. Fetterman, the Senate dress code, and Conspicuous Consumption” [Real Economics]. “[T]here is a school of American economics, called the institutionlists, centered on the work and writings of perhaps the biggest gadfly ever among American professional economists, Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). Veblen is famous for coining the phrase “”conspicuous consumption.”” It was the title of the fourth chapter of his 1899 book, The Theory of the Leisure Class. The title of Chapter Seven in that book is, “”Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture,”” and it is here that Veblen explains how the Leisure Class — basically, the rich and their hangers on, and the various elites of the different parts of society — creates and enforces standards of taste and culture (the pecuniary culture) that reinforces and perpetuates their dominant role in society. Quite simply, elites dress in such a way as to make clear they do not have to do any work in order to exist. This signifies their status, position, wealth, and power as superior to everyone else.  So, the working and lower classes are expected to wear hoodies and shorts. Senators, Congresspeople, bankers, lawyers, and so on, are expected to wear suits, damn it. You do want to fit in, don’t you?” • To me, Veblen is anticipating Bourdieu (who also has a lot to say about taste and its formation). Fetterman’s Carhartts are not only a form of symbolic capital, they are an assault on other forms of symbolic capital, attempting to devalue them; see discussion of Manet’s Olympia yesterday.

News of the Wired

“Money Is Pouring Into AI. Skeptics Say It’s a ‘Grift Shift.” [Institutional Investor]. “Coming off the worst year in recent history for venture capitalists, private market players like Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue Management, Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital, and Softbank quickly redirected their dollars to AI upstarts. Meanwhile, the stock prices of the big tech names suspected to be the major beneficiaries of this often-called “”revolutionary”” form of artificial intelligence have skyrocketed. The 2022 tech downturn became a faint memory as some five tech companies — Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Nvidia — accounted for the lion’s share of the stock market’s remarkable comeback this year, with the S&P 500 rising 20 percent through July. Nvidia, maker of the superfast chips that switched from powering bitcoin mining to making generative AI possible, has gained more than 250 percent so far in 2023, making it the S&P index’s top gainer…. Orso Partners co-founder Nate Koppikar, who is also short Applied Digital, has a term for what he sees going on. He calls the phenomenon “”the grift shift”” — arguing that companies and venture capital funds have pivoted from their losing crypto and tech bets to cash in on the AI moment.” • “Grift shift” is a keeper, which would seem to have wide application.

* * *

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 TH:

TH writes: “Mealy cup sage, Naples Island, Long Beach, CA. My initial reason for photographing these was to remind myself with iPhone’s “Plant look-up” what it is. Then I pulled back and shifted to the side, trying to frame it a bit better. I was hoping to make that railing that separates the walk from the bay less prominent, and ended up liking this angle with the fountain grass and palm fronds best.”

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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. Mark Gisleson

    Re: Trump in Iowa, “surely the surprise is manufactured by the press?”

    I don’t think the press wields any power in Iowa anymore. The Des Moines Register exhausted their credibility in 2020 with their faddish not-Bernie-of-the-month club. There are no other statewide newspapers and the regional newspapers are stereotypically published by conservative business interests/chains but because newspapers are always city-based, rural folks are very distrusting of them, even when the editorial slant is pro-rural.

    A credible challenge would have to be enabled by Iowans in social media or on radio or with boots on the ground. These approaches seek to maximize their visibility and are noisy. No stealth potential. Arguably Trump owns Iowa social media, radio and people in the street so these approaches would be supplemental to something else.

    Because Rove made a point of commenting, my guess would be that Iowa may get buried in a massive wave of advertising. For who I know not. Maybe just to trash Trump but to elevate a challenger they’ll have to pick a challenger to repeat their message and therein lies the trap: choose wrong and suddenly you’re in the DMRegister candidate-of-the-month club territory.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      It’s telling, but not surprising, that the WSJ would say “…his notoriously cheap campaign… “, in that tone of voice that believes the winning strategy is the outspending strategy. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton would like to explain to the WSJ how effective that strategy was.

      I honestly think the WSJ would be happier if voters were required to vote for whomever directly handed each of them the largest bag of Benjamins. (Lambert’s concrete, universal, material benefits!) They’d certainly save a lot of ink and paper (well, electrons now) reporting the results.

      1. FlyoverBoy

        Trump and the Bushes are well known to hate each other’s guts ever since Trump drummed “Low Energy Jeb” out of the race, if not before. Having Trump enemy Murdoch host his fellow Trump enemy Rove to loudly voice their wishful thinking about a Republican nomination contest is neither surprising nor credible.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I noticed that slur too. Why would Trump spend big now when he still has *checks Lambert’s countdown clock* 410 days until the actual election? The real spending shouldn’t start till next year or else he will run himself out of campaign money.

    2. flora

      According to the recently impeached and acquitted Texas AG Ken Paxton on Tucker Carlson’s latest episode, Karl Rove is a liberal and Rove hates hates hates T. twtr ~ 45 minutes. Inside Texas baseball. / ;)

      Ep. 25 Liberals like Karl Rove just tried to annihilate Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. It didn’t work. Paxton just joined us for his first interview since his acquittal.


      1. Acacia

        Stubble tweet is a good one — and a solid reason to keep a smooth face :D. It does appear to be duplicated.

  2. Wukchumni

    Good news dept:

    I just got named to the Oujia board of directors, and have been consulting with the Speaker of the House, pseudoscience being a good match for pseudopolitics, as it turns out.

    Is there anything you’d like me to ask?

    1. ambrit

      Yes. Please find out who the present Court Astrologer is. That way gives us ‘mopes’ a side door into policy at the Executive level.
      The next Mercury in Retrograde, (Dec.13, ’23 to Jan.1, ’24) should be a propitious time to find out.
      Since you are dabbling in the Arcane Arts, do be very careful not to fall afoul of Hunter of the Dark. (I am told that a Silver Dollar is a potent propitiation with which to avert his attentions. If you must part with the silver, add a Silver Dime for “The Sniffer,” the Senior Devil that Hunter serves.)
      Stay safe, in all dimensions!

    2. notabanker

      I’m a Fire sign Leo and like to take charge, as well as generous, so I am here for you. If you need someone to tell you what to do, please don’t hesitate to ask. If I don’t have that particular subject matter expertise, I am excellent with search engines and can make internet-informed split-decisions with the best of them.

      Your welcome. And thanks for your service.

      1. Hepativore

        Alright. I am a 39-year-old air sign Aquarius who is looking for a way out of my dead end retail job after a failed career as a histologist in the biotech industry. I would like to have the same comfortable middle-class lifestyle as my parents did for the most part after doing everything that they said was “good advice”.

        How do I do the same financial voodoo spells that seem to work so well for the Bidens and the Clintons? Am I not sacrificing enough chickens?

        1. ambrit

          You have to step up in “class” like the Clintoons and Biddens did. How? You have to “engage” the Haitian obeyas, (why else did the clinton Foundation go to Haiti anyway?) and stop sacrificing chickens. For this level of the Dark Arts, people are the only acceptable sacrifice.
          [Both the Clintons and the Bidens have reliably sacrificed Terran humans in hecatombs.]
          Oh, and did you say you were an ‘hiss-tologist?’ How perfectly ophidian of you!

  3. Carolinian

    Re “VIN-locking” this sounds like Doctorow bs and indeed Wikipedia has never heard of the term. It is true that most car companies now require VIN matching for high security parts like alarm systems and digital keys and the famous immobilizer that my car doesn’t have. But there is some justification for this and as you would only want your bank making a replacement VISA card you might not want simply anybody being able to mess around with this section of the engine computer.

    Meanwhile the vast majority of parts on gasoline cars are unchipped and these mechanical parts are the ones most likely to wear out. Plus there are laws and even if there weren’t the car companies are not going to offer a car that only they can service because nobody would buy one. Yes luxury car makers like Tesla and Bmw and Mercedes are testing what they can get away with and yes commercial devices like tractors are controversially doing much more on the excuse of secret features and intellectual property.

    And finally even if the car makers did go this route a long ago and more sensible Doctorow told us that DRM doesn’t work and only invites hackers to overcome it–at least if the item is popular enough to attract attention.

    So if you don’t like IoT refrigerators or a car with rental seat heaters then don’t buy one. Some CT are over the top.

    1. Feral Finster

      My car has an anti-theft device known as a “stick shift”.

      If I had to park my old VW Beetle for extended periods, I would remove the rotor from inside the distributor and put it in my pocket. It would take any would-be thief forever to figure out why it would crank but never start.

      1. Berny3

        Just being a stick shift itself is enough to repel 90% of the car thieves out there. How many people know how to work a manual transmission anymore?

          1. Feral Finster

            That is a problem. Still, all my cars that any human in their right mind would want to steal are stick, and one has a non-assisted clutch with a 2500# pressure plate. In other words, you need a left leg like a bear to get it in gear.

      2. Carolinian

        We’ve all seen it in the movies. Except that won’t work now because no distributors.

        Car theft has become a very big thing. Some joyriders in Los Vegas ran down and killed a cyclist while in a stolen Hyundai and said they enjoyed it. So sounds like TikTok–ground zero of the Hyundai/Kia theft problem–should be considered accessories to murder?

        Not that I’m bitter or anything. I use a steering wheel lock myself. But the theft craze has reportedly made it to my neck of the woods.

        I like my car a lot and personally don’t blame Hyndai. They’ve offered a workaround upgrade but I’m dubious about immobilizers in general since they might immobilize me. I say immobilize TikTok.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          every so often, someone will say to me:” man! dont you ever clean your truck?”
          i say, ” nah, thats my antitheft system.”
          filthy, with holes in the seats, windows always down, hasnt been washed since i bought it, in 06(its an 02, i think)…and the dash board caved in long ago, now with dusty skulls and pelvis bones and rolls of wire and driftwood and even an actual rat’s nest(uninhabited, currently)…and during spring and summer, i generally have a meadow in the bed.
          and its a stick, too,lol.
          i do remove my keys when i go anywhere out of my county, but i usually dont bother to roll the windows up(manual, and a pita.)

      3. JBird4049

        One could find the rotor and remove it almost without tools on a VW. Are there any cars like that today?

      4. Wukchumni

        I know what you’re thinking: “Is this a six speed or only five and where is reverse?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a manual transmission, the most difficult car to drive in the world, and would blow your chances of stealing it, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?

    2. Random

      It’s definitely a thing for Apple devices. A lot of parts simply don’t work if they aren’t registered with each other.
      For vehicles it’s prevalent in tractors and other industrial machines and I don’t think it’s widespread in personal vehicles yet (but Tesla has on occasion disabled or turned off features for 3rd party repairs or even resold cars).
      Much less BS than you would think.

      1. Carolinian

        But that’s not what I’m commenting on. I know Apple does this and they shouldn’t but I doubt any $50 or $100 smartphones are any more repairable. Those you throw away. Phones did used to have removable, replaceable batteries and they all still should.

        Apple is like BMW or Mercedes. They figure if you are worried about money then you are not their target customer. Me, I make phone calls with android. If I want to take pictures I have a better camera….don’t even carry the phone around with me.

        From what I hear new cars are adding a lot more “apps” and cell radio required features. No doubt they would be happy to push I o T but an article here the other days said even Tesla asks permission before connecting the car’s cell radio to their headquarters.

  4. griffen

    $100,000 in gold bars is just good old Doomsday prepped activity. So the couple plans ahead, for Stuff hits the fan…/ sarc

    Another day another official, shown as the hypocritical money monster that they are. I digress of course, nothing new to report. In other news I’m in the south but it’s different, first sojourn to the Dakota states.

    1. ThirtyOne

      A halal monopoly

      The full scope of the federal inquiry, including Ms. Menendez’s role, remains unknown. But the investigation appears to focus at least in part on the couple’s connection to a 40-year-old New Jersey businessman, Wael Hana, who has known Ms. Menendez since before she started dating the senator.

      Mr. Hana began operating a start-up company, IS EG Halal, in New Jersey in 2019, and it soon became the sole entity authorized to certify that any halal food product imported into Egypt from anywhere in the world had been prepared according to Islamic law.

      It was an unlikely development, given that Mr. Hana, a United States citizen born in Egypt, has said in court papers that he had no prior experience in the halal industry.

  5. Mikel

    “Money Is Pouring Into AI. Skeptics Say It’s a ‘Grift Shift.”

    CoreWeave…just file the name in your memory banks.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Says Koppikar, “This looks like a great market for fraudsters to chase because of the ability to ‘Theranos’ your product” with semifunctional prototypes and claims of AI being used in products that are really just powered by humans. He argues that many of the new AI companies “are complete frauds or will never have scalable revenue models,” adding, “There is going to be a staggering amount of capex burned on AI that goes nowhere.”

      In the old days, grifters used to move from town to town, constantly looking for naive ‘marks’ not hip to their confidence games.

      Seems we haven’t progressed much as a species.

      The use of “Theranos” as a verb is also a keeper.

    2. digi_owl

      Speaking of “AI”, i just saw a blog post/article about how if you ask the latest GPT who some famous person’s parent is it will answer correctly. But if you flip the question around and who so and so’s kid is, it will instead respond that it does not know thanks to lack of data. Never mind that this was a problem that apparently had been mentioned in a research paper all the way back in the 80s.

      1. Mikel

        If the algorithm isn’t even bothering to make up an answer regarding the famous (and probably the powerful too), this may have to with the ability of the famous and powerful to get the type of privacy (and by extension respect, concern for safety, and transparency)that will not be available to the rest of us.
        Besides, probably more than a few are probably scared of paternity suits.

  6. bobert

    Hubby had a video conference with a woman in Italy today. She has COVID. I was struck when she stated that she didn’t realize COVID was still a thing…

  7. notabanker

    Public Health- Practiced vs Idea?

    Just spitballin here, but why would most people differentiate? It is what it is. After the CDC and WHO have covered themselves in glory during the pandemic, and every single American who has ever had to use healthcare is fed up, Fauci has been exposed, etc….I would think there would be some understandable backlash toward the public health establishment here in the US.

    I view it as fatigue, at least from my perspective. I really don’t want to hear any more experts tell me what to do, unless I trust them and specifically ask them for advice. Otherwise, they can take a flying leap off a very short pier.

  8. Pat

    Lambert it is purely heresay, but teacher friends have told me that, yes, in NYC there is no notification of confirmed Covid cases, staff or student, by order from above. But they thought they were screwed anyway, as they no longer require testing on a regular basis so they believe that students with Covid and only mild symptoms will be attending in many cases, with or without knowing for sure.

    Adams is determined to keep the schools open and get attendance up. No matter what.

  9. Glen

    Uh oh, this looks like another George (from Seinfeld) moment, let’s please do the opposite:

    George Does The Opposite | The Opposite | Seinfeld

    So it looks like the ASML CEO is trying to politely warn the American elites that any further US technology embargos is going to blow up in America’s face:

    Weekly news roundup: ASML CEO warns against compelling China to be innovative and other top stories

    See, if you really want to stay ahead of China, you have to do this thing called “competition”.

    Restricting technology can work, but in this case, it will probably not work. Because it generally works like when you’re protecting a military secret – it cannot be talked about, and certainly things like published research, blueprints, real working machines, etc, must be very tightly controlled. When you’ve sold them a couple of the machines, and think stopping that is going to change things – well it will, but not in the way you suspect. Generally that will result in the country doing the hard work of figuring out how the original machine works, and then building better machines. Lots of better machines.

    Now, competition does not mean giving billions to the same clowns that CAUSED this problem and expecting different results. We have been giving funding via tax breaks, and other incentives for decades to these corporations so it’s not going to substantially change the situation. You really need to do bit more of a root cause analysis and figure out what caused this mess to begin with. I would strongly suggest that stock buy backs might be a good place to look. These were illegal for very good reasons. Then when you’ve maybe figured out how to structure CEO incentives to not continually profit off bleeding out the corporation, figure out how to make substantial R&D a good thing to do. (Hint: I think it’s called raise corporate taxes.) And then figure out how to prime the education pump and get a lot of people ready to work in these industries. (Anther hint, putting students in lifetime debt and making it extremely hard to move around due to housing costs will hinder this!)

    Because what we’ve been doing about the same thing for the last forty years – and it aint working.

  10. Pavel

    I love Talking Heads and Demme’s magnificent “Stop Making Sense” which stunned me when I saw it when it first came out.

    But that piece in The New Yorker was, I must say, one of the most pretentious reviews I’ve ever read, e.g. comparing the addition of a group of black musicians on stage to Godard’s use of Jean Seberg in “Breathless” (and a further reference to “Prenom: Carmen”).

    The whole thing could be in Private Eye’s “Pseud’s Corner”.

    Having said all that, the film is fantastic. I’d love to see it again in IMAX.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d love to see it again in IMAX.

      I saw it on an enormous screen at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA (or maybe the screen seemed so big because I was in the fifth row and, well, a little wide-eyed at the time).

      Amazing movie. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Great band at the top of its form, great music and prescient lyrics, camera-work so transparent you don’t even notice it, incredible stage dynamics. And really simple: Simple drum kit, no light show, no theatricality (except, I suppose, for Byrne’s Big Suit).

      I’d check the ventilation, but I’d try to see it on a big, big screen. For the sensory overload.

  11. The Rev Kev

    ‘Some 2024 GOP primary fundraising news: @VivekGRamaswamy
    is being hosted for a fundraiser by @chamath
    / @DavidSacks
    . The money is going toward a pro-Ramaswany PAC.’

    I’ll say. Here is their website. Astroturfing anyone?


    So what is American Exceptionalism?

    ‘American exceptionalism describes a conviction that the radical ideas woven into the very fabric of American history and tradition are, in fact, exceptional. Merit. Achievement. Free speech. Open debate. Self-governance and self-determination. Make no mistake, these are truly radical concepts, both in the modern world and throughout human history. The vast majority of civilizations haven’t embraced them—and still don’t. America did. That’s what makes us great.

    But today, the same values that built the greatest nation in the world from the ground up are under attack. Faith, patriotism, and hard work are drying up and vanishing—in their place rise the new secular cults of Woke-ism, COVID-ism, and Climate-ism. The high priests of this most unholy trilogy have infested the American government and private sector; they celebrate victimhood in place of excellence and identity politics in place of achievement. They kill jobs, weaken our national security, destroy the middle class, and sow division—and declare unending war on any and all who would stand in their way.

    We’ve put up with it for too long. We must remind ourselves and the world that America stands alone as the indispensable nation, the preeminent world power, the strongest force for Good in the history of mankind. Our country is at a tipping point—and to step back 
from that precarious ledge, we need courageous 
new leadership.

    Reviving American excellence starts with rediscovering what it means to be American. We’ve celebrated our diversity for so long we’ve forgotten all the ways we’re alike. Diversity alone is not our strength: our strength comes from unity across diversity, our ability to put aside our differences in service of a shared identity and common goals.

    If we resurrect what made us great, nobody can beat us.

    That’s the power of American Exceptionalism.’

    Reading between the lines, it seems to be MAGAs for higher end Republicans.

    1. Pat

      It is fundraising but the one possible bright spot for me would be if a goodly number of rich jerks spend millions going from one bright light Republican to the next trying to beat Trump.
      A million for DiSantis, another for Scott, even more for Vivek, maybe some for Haley and Christie, the more they give the better.

      I might wish the family blog jerks would actually do things that would be useful and helpful, but since they won’t I will happily watch them buy fake art, overpriced vintage wines whose real vintage is last week, and back losers (Republican or Democratic)

  12. GramSci

    Re: Kendi and ” “”pattern of amassing grants without any commitment to producing the research obligated”” by them, ”

    I’m not a big fan of Ibram X. Kendi, but congrats to him all the same! Brothers should *always* rip off da man where’er they can! It’s not like da man wouldn’t do the same to them. (Though I guess it might be responsible to ask *which* grants Ibram is shafting. The big bucks grants, or the ‘homeboy’ grants?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Brothers should *always* rip off da man where’er they can!

      It’s a tough call: (1) Set up an NGO and cash in or (2) abolish the NGOs entirely. I for one would go with option (2) — though it’s hard to see how that would be implemented.

      Then again, Kendi’s ideas are bad and fully in line with identity politic’s goal of splitting the working class into verticals, and I see that was harmful, ripoff or no.

  13. bwilli123

    Indian commentator SL Kanthan adds up the coincidences and suggests Modi (and India) are the subject of a slow moving hybrid war by the US (and its allies)
    ..”It started with a BBC documentary that recycled Hindu-Muslim conflicts from 20+ years ago; then, allegations against Indian billionaire Adani by an American company; followed by calls for better democracy by Soros; and now the latest bombshell accusations from Canada against the Indian government regarding the murder of Sikh separatists.


    1. bwilli123

      The FT gives the mighty Wurlitzer a couple of pumps..
      …”India’s western democratic allies have mostly kept their comments about these concerns compartmentalised — aired in brief remarks or behind closed doors — in the broader interest of a valued strategic relationship. But if Canada’s allegations of an Indian state-backed, extraterritorial assassination are found to be true, they will struggle to keep quiet. …”


      Somewhat ironic that there was no similar criticism upon the untimely demise of Qasem Soleimani.

  14. Pat

    Thinking about Rove.
    First no offense to the Texas AG, but the only reason anyone can point to Rove and call him a liberal without jeers and catcalls erupting is that the term has been so degraded over time. As I believe that Neo Liberals and Neoconservatives are much closer than we admit on many policies perhaps the real description could be either conservative Neoliberal or liberal Neoconservative.
    Secondly, Rove is clearly playing lots of games in that op-ed. Remember this was the man behind the reports of McCain’s biracial love child. And It isn’t as if any pundits excel at reading Iowa. He can just pretend that Trump got there just in time if the voters don’t care what he thinks. IMO, he should get that response ready. Trump and his people don’t care what Rove thinks, and undermining his confidence is the best that bit of chumming could do.
    Voters may not like being taken for granted and ignored but they dislike having their concerns ignored even more. I am guessing here, but looking at Trump’s competitors there is a good chance they are doing just that. If that’s so, Trump can show up weeks from now and point out they known him, play the room and talk about the issues important to them, and say that having to spend time defending his right to free speech and against cases brought to punish him for running takes up a lot of time.

    As for the cheap remark, the Roves of the world need candidates to spend. That’s how they make their living, directing that spending for a big paycheck. If people learn to spend less on campaigns it affects their bottom line.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Rove is clearly playing lots of games in that op-ed

      Bush nicknamed Rove “Turdblossom” for a reason. I think the biggest, er, nugget in the article is the idea of a “surprising second” in Iowa (“surprising,” that is, only to the campaign press devising the post-Iowa narrative). It would be funny Ramaswamy were that second. And the Republican primary in Iowa is only 114 days away, so it’s clearly time to speculate!

  15. digi_owl

    $3 billion thanks to having grown men run around in tights pretending to beat he crap out of reach other? Barnum really was laying down the facts…

  16. Acacia

    Re: Blue-collar workers are our only hope

    Kind of an odd mix of claims in this article, some that seem correct with those that miss the mark.

    E.g., accelerating the “feudalization of the West”, check. The existing hierarchy of tech corporate power will become stronger, check. But: ARM as an “upstart”? ARM has been around since 1990, and was bought by SoftBank in 2016, IIRC. The usual market analysts have been asking whether ARM is “the next Nvidia”, while noting that AI is not especially part of ARM’s business in the way that it is for Nvidia. If the argument is about the role of AI tech in this, methinks a better example is needed.

    As for the estimate from McKinsey et al about the impact of this, my expectation is that it will be both more widespread but fewer white-collar heads may actually roll. Instead, many jobs will be lost but many others will change more people will be tasked with glorified data-entry jobs, or cleaning up datasets, and new job titles will appear and a new sub-division of labor for all of this, kind of like how the first IT “revolution” created a bunch of new specialists, e.g., groups of engineers who focus solely on CSS frameworks for JavaScript apps. These new jobs will be less interesting than what the emerging white-collar class was hoping for, but they’ll find satisfaction and ‘merit’ in a new labor force concerned with feeding and tending the recalcitrant, cr*p AI tech.

    How this stacks up against the new division of labor outlined in this article — i.e., progressively minded professionals vs.the AI-enhanced elite — is likely more grey than we can forecast at the moment. While parts of the article make sense here, there are also some leaps. Are engineers working for Intel blue collar? I suppose this applies to people working on a fab line, but I can’t see the engineers who are actually designing chips as blue collar workers, and an important question will be whether there will be any solidarity between those workers on the fab line, and those who are “upstairs” designing what gets made on the fab line — that is much more difficult to imagine now.

  17. Lambert Strether Post author

    > an important question will be whether there will be any solidarity between those workers on the fab line, and those who are “upstairs” designing what gets made on the fab line — that is much more difficult to imagine now.

    Since this is the stupidest timeline, the answer is that there will be, but only too late.

    The tendency would be for all “knowledge workers” — more precisely, “symbol manipulators,” as we have often called them — to become part of the precariat, as AI consumes their past work and regurgitates it.* It’s possible that the Writers Guild, say, could spearhead the development of such solidarity (the West Wing Thing podcast was pretty searing) but it seems dubious to me.

    NOTE * Since AI is a bullshit generator, and worse, freezes all past conventional wisdom in its so-called training sets, AI output will be even worse than what we have now. But profitable!

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