2:00PM Water Cooler 10/3/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Say’s Phoebe, Mount Falcon Park, Morrison Trailhead, Jefferson, Colorado, United States.

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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

The Constitutional Order

“Former federal judge rips Washington Post over 14th Amendment editorial” [The Hill]. “Former federal judge Michael Luttig ripped The Washington Post’s Monday op-ed against invoking the 14th Amendment to disqualify former President Trump from the 2024 election, calling it “perhaps the most journalistically incompetent and irresponsible” piece he has ever read on the U.S. Constitution.” • Here is Luttig’s tweet storm:

* * *

“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:

The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.

Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.

Capitol Seizure

“January 6 Was Not an Attempted Coup” [The American Conservative]. “[T]he events of January 6 exhibited virtually none of the characteristics of the dozens of successful or unsuccessful coups around the world over the past seven decades. If this really was an attempted coup, it must have been organized by Monty Python…. The most obvious defect was that Trump and the other alleged plotters did not even make an attempt to shut down a notoriously hostile news media, including most notably, the television networks…. A second pervasive feature of genuine coups is the role of military units trusted wholeheartedly by those people making a bid to overthrow the existing political order…. A final coup feature missing from the January 6 episode were sizable, ongoing pro-coup demonstrations, especially once violence erupted at the Capitol…. People who robotically insist that January 6 was a failed coup need to explain why the episode did not have any of the major features that dozens of successful and unsuccessful coups in other countries have exhibited. It is far more likely that the disorder was simply a riot that a handful of frustrated, right-wing policy zealots waged. Such violence cannot be tolerated, and the perpetrators deserve to be prosecuted—as hundreds have been. But it is wrong to conflate a riot (however nasty) with an organized insurrection.” • Yep.

Biden Administration

“Congress dodged a government shutdown. Here are the winners and losers from a messy fight.” [USA Today]. “The ‘clean’ continuing resolution noticeably omits President Joe Biden’s request for additional U.S. aid to Ukraine, which has bipartisan support. McCarthy, who has had to placate all corners of his conference, left Ukraine funding out of the continuing resolution in a win for some opponents to funding the Ukraine war effort. Enmity toward U.S. aid to Ukraine among House Republicans has appeared to grow as the war drags on. Nearly half of House Republicans voted to strip $300 million in Ukraine aid from an annual defense spending bill last week.” • Stripping Ukraine funding seems to be, oddly, an afterthought in most of the coverage, and not framed as a victory for Gaetz (depicted as a loser). But it’s hard to see how Democrats, regardless of what they say, would not consider it a real loss. After all, it’s their war.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Donald Trump’s Fraud Trial in New York” [Wall Street Journal]. “In comments at the courthouse, Mr. Trump called it a “witch hunt,” and he has a point. Yet the investigation also seems to have caught some typical Trumpian deception…. Judge Engoron acknowledged that this asset puffery doesn’t seem to have created losses for the creditors: ‘Defendants correctly assert that ‘the record is devoid of any evidence of default, breach, late payment, or any complaint of harm.” The judge said, however, that legally speaking this is ‘completely irrelevant.’ Whether he is correct under New York law is a possible subject of appeal…. But the lenders weren’t naifs and had to know Mr. Trump’s penchant for lying. Mr. Trump appears to believe he could claim anything, as long as he tacked on a disclaimer. ‘They call it ‘worthless clause,” he said in a deposition, ‘because it makes the statement ‘worthless.”…. Yet Mr. Trump is right that Ms. James is a partisan Democrat who campaigned on going after him. The night she won the AG’s race in November 2018, she proclaimed: ‘I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings.’ This is an abuse of prosecutorial power, targeting a person and then hunting for something to charge him with.” • “I give up. Why can’t they?” –“I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts,” X.

“Trump fundraises off fraud trial: ‘Nothing can break me'” [The Hill]. “Trump’s campaign blasted out a fundraising email with a subject line of ‘I just left the courthouse’ roughly 20 minutes after court was dismissed in Manhattan, where the former president had been present.” Trump campaign firing on all eight cylinders already. More: “The fundraising email was similar to those Trump has sent after indictments and court appearances in other criminal proceedings, including federal cases in Washington, D.C., and in Florida, and it underscored how the former president and his campaign have sought to capitalize politically on Trump’s legal woes.”

“Who is Arthur Engoron? Judge weighing future of Donald Trump empire is Ivy League-educated ex-cabbie” [Associated Press]. “Engoron has been involved in Trump-related cases since 2020, when he was assigned to intervene in quarrels among Trump’s lawyers and James’ office over demands for evidence and the direction of her investigation. Trump’s lawyers wanted James’ lawsuit moved to a judge in the court’s Commercial Division, which is set up to handle complex corporate litigation, but an administrative judge kept the case with Engoron, citing his experience with the matter.”

* * *

“Trump campaigns before thousands in friendly blue-collar, eastern Iowa, touting trade, farm policy” [Associated Press]. “Trump headlined an afternoon event in Ottumwa, where 2,500 packed the inside of an event hall at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa. The small city is a hub in eastern Iowa and the seat of Wapello County, one of 31 counties Trump carried in 2016 that Democrat Barack Obama had won four years earlier. It was Trump’s second trip in two weeks to eastern Iowa, where he was drawing large crowds…. The crowd spent hours waiting outdoors to enter the Trump event, despite sweltering heat uncommon for early October. It was a stark contrast to the roughly 200 who attended a campaign stop in suburban Des Moines Saturday by former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has gained renewed interest in Iowa since the first two Republican presidential debates. Trump is expected back to the Waterloo and Cedar Rapids areas next week…. Trump volunteers at the site held clipboards stacked with pledge cards and asked attendees whether they would commit to support Trump at the caucuses.” • Presumably all the campaigns use pledge cards, but it still shows professional advance work.

“‘We love the farmers.’ Trump, aiming to cement support in Iowa, signs John Deere combine” [Des Moines Register]. “After his speech, he visited a farm northeast of Oskaloosa, where he shook hands with a line of farmers, greeted their wives and left a large Sharpie signature on a John Deere combine. ‘We love the farmers, and we appreciate the farmers,’ he told them. ‘You wouldn’t want anything else, right? I don’t think you’d want to do what I do.'”

“Trump campaign calls on RNC to cancel third GOP debate” [The Hill]. “‘The RNC should immediately put an end to any further primary debates so we can train our fire on Crooked Joe Biden and quit wasting time and money that could be going to evicting Biden from the White House,’ [Trump campaign senior advisers Chris LaCivita] said in a statement following the second debate.”

* * *

“Hunter Biden’s Legal Saga Enters Fraught New Chapter” [Wall Street Journal]. “Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony gun charges, opening a fraught new chapter in his long legal saga in the same federal courthouse in Delaware where, roughly two months earlier, he had hoped to put those troubles behind him…. Prosecutors didn’t bring tax charges against him last month, but they could still do so. Weiss has signaled that he may bring such a case in either California or Washington, D.C., where the younger Biden lived during the years at issue.”

* * *

“Column: A solid Senate pick and a craven move by Gavin Newsom” [Los Angeles Times]. “But Newsom never should have appointed her — or anyone else — to fill Feinstein’s seat without a promise to serve the balance of the late senator’s term, then stand aside once voters made their selection. Just last month, the governor had said he would see to that. ‘Interim appointment,’ he said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ noting that a fiercely competitive Senate primary was already well underway and he wished to steer clear. ‘It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off,’ Newsom said, and he was absolutely right. ‘That primary is just a matter of months away. I don’t want to tip the balance of that.’ Um. Never mind. Newsom went ahead and showed he was just fine upending that balance, assuming Butler decides to seek a full term. She has yet to publicly state her plans. But if Butler chooses to run, she’ll get no opposition from the governor. ‘If that person decides she wants to seek a full term in 2024, then she is free to do so,’ spokesman Anthony York said hours before Newsom announced his pick Sunday night. ‘There is absolutely no litmus test, no promise.’ And no consistency from the governor.” • I admit it never occurred to me that Butler would hang out on Capitol Hill for a few months and then blow town, presumably to server on a Newsom campaign. My bad! On Butler, commentary:

“Burn!” (as I believe we used to say, back in 2003).

“Newsom vetoes bill to give striking workers unemployment benefits” [Los Angeles Times]. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation Saturday that would have granted striking workers unemployment benefits, a measure strongly supported by Hollywood unions and other influential labor organizations in California. Newsom’s rejection of Senate Bill 799 delivers a rare blow to organized labor, which has enjoyed strong support in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature.” •

* * *

Universal concrete material benefits:

Everything that made workers’ lives easier during the Trump administration — primarily, the CARES Act — was systematically stripped away by the Biden Administration. Now we see the results.

Republican Funhouse

“Republican congressman admits he ‘was praying’ for ‘small’ GOP House majority before 2022 midterm elections” [FOX]. “‘When a lot of people, unfortunately, were voting, to have a 270, 280 Republican House, I was praying each evening for a small majority, because I recognize that that small majority was the only way that we were going to advance a conservative agenda,’ Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., said during a closed briefing, which The Messenger first reported was ‘a virtual briefing for around 50 top conservative donors.'” • I don’t necessarily like Rosendale’s principles, but at least he has some. By contrast, can you imagine the (putative) Democrats left hoping, if not praying, for a small majority to advance their agenda? I can’t, which means to me that Democrats are liberals across the board. This also shows an interesting structural difference between the parties.

“A viewer’s guide to the McCarthy-Gaetz showdown” [Politico]. “If Democrats vote present, they can take themselves out of the “members voting” count and allow McCarthy to hang on with less than a full majority of the current House, and with potentially much less support than he got in January’s grueling speaker election.” But: “If McCarthy is booted, his immediate replacement won’t be chosen by Gaetz – it will be handpicked by McCarthy himself. Here’s why. Under a system created after Sept. 11, 2001, to ensure continuity of government, the House clerk would bring out a thus-far-secret list of McCarthy’s preferred successors. The first name on that list would immediately become an acting speaker, with all the authority of a regular speaker, and thus empowered to oversee the election of a new speaker.” • The plot thickens!

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.

* * *

“No, The Bowman Controversy Does Not Warrant Expulsion” [Jonathan Turley]. “Expulsion remains a rare remedy in Congress. Despite hundreds of years of often deep and angry political divisions, only 20 members have been expelled and only 5 were expelled from the House. Think of that for a moment. Five House members in the prior roughly 250 years. We now have 3 in one year being considered. The last time three members were up for expulsion, it was due to their support for the South in the Civil War. The House has had members that make the pirates of Penzance* look like teetotalers. Past members have included some who were embodiments of the greedy and the grotesque. The lack of expulsions historically has reflected an understanding that the use of this power can lead to a type of expulsion compulsion.” • However, Bowman did pull a fire alarm and then told an outrageous lie about it. Can we at least get the coverage right? And are we at liberty to mock him for it? NOTE * Who were not really pirates but “noblemen who have gone wrong.” Musical interlude:

“The Era Of Hostage Taking And Small Ransoms” [Brian Beutler, Off Message]. Beutler, late of Pod Save American. “Yes, Democrats are, at the moment, hobbled by Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, but at no point in the past two decades have they made ending this state of affairs a top party-building priority. Their indulgence has been inexcusable; their gluttony for punishment, undignified—just as it’s undignified to pay ransoms to Republicans, even small ones, when they threaten to harm the country. It’s not unreasonable for rank-and-file liberals to expect Democrats to draw a hard line against extortion. It’s not unreasonable for rank-and-file liberals to puzzle over why Democrats haven’t reconstituted their majority (through persuasion and strategic recruiting) to support changing the rules if and when Republicans abuse them. Tuberville and McCarthy are each disgraced in their own ways, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that they walked through doors Democrats left open for them. And we should worry a great deal about what will be in their sights the next time around, perhaps just 45 days from now, when they come barreling through again.” • So what the heck was Beutler doing podcasting with Obama’s speechwriter for what seems like forever?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How Elites Ate the Social Justice Movement” [Freddie deBoer, The Free Press]. “[I]f single-payer were passed tomorrow, we would have to start defending it tomorrow. We’d have to fight over how generous the benefits were. We would have to ensure that dental and vision benefits were covered. We would have to prevent the inevitable attempts by conservatives to tear down the system entirely or to make it considerably less generous, as they already do with Medicare and Social Security. There would be no rest. This is, I concede, a depressing condition, an exhausting one. But there’s no alternative. And perhaps there shouldn’t be. I still yearn for revolution, but I now recognize that any revolution must be a permanent one, in the sense meant by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels—that a perpetual revolutionary class must exist, remaining independent from the political machinery of its day and constantly pressing for a more radical future, even after great victory. This is the only way to truly secure the best good for the most people. We must see political success as an ever-receding horizon.” • The Bolsheviks did take power, after all, though deBoer carefully writes “perpetual” instead of “professional.” deBoer’s first sentence: “I’m a Marxist.” Fascinating to see him published in by Bari Weiss.

“Antisocialism and the rehabilitation of fascism” [Carl Beijer]. “Fascism, correctly understood as a radical eliminationist and expansionist ultranationalism that emerges when the middle class displaces the stress of severe economic precarity under capitalism onto minority scapegoats — fascism can still only be found among a narrow albeit dangerously powerful fraction of Ukraine’s population. Persisting characterizations of Ukraine as a nation of fascists are not just grossly inaccurate, nor are they merely cruel to a nation of innocent civilians suffering a horrific war of aggression. This line is also dangerously reactionary, serving at once to both legitimize the Kremlin’s preposterous ‘denazification’ rationale for invasion and to displace our own problem with fascism onto another country as some foreign, exotic phenomena. It contradicts none of this to add that the faction of our ruling class aligned with Ukraine in this war are using it as a pretext to villify socialism at the cost of rehabilitating twentieth century fascism.”

“Why MAGA Wants to Betray Ukraine” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. “Ukraine’s unexpectedly successful resistance to Russian aggression has also put other autocratic regimes that might have been tempted to engage in wars of conquest on notice that democracies aren’t that easy to overrun. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Russia’s failures in Ukraine have surely reduced the chances that China will invade Taiwan.” • Not sure how demonstrating to the world’s biggest manufacturing power that we can’t make enough ammo does that. (However, I applaud the not-very-subtle shifting of goalposts from defeating Putin and dismembering Russia to preventing “democracies” from being “over-run.”)


“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!

* * *


“Healthcare-associated respiratory viral infections after discontinuing universal masking” [Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology]:

When our hospital moved from universal masking in all clinical buildings to masking for all patient encounters only, we observed an immediate, substantial, and sustained increase healthcareassociated respiratory viral infections. These observations are informative regarding the impact of masking because—unlike rapid simultaneous implementation of numerous mitigation strategies in healthcare settings and the community early in the pandemic—no other changes in infection prevention strategies or staffing levels were implemented at our facility in late 2022. The elevated transmission pressure from community viruses during the winter respiratory virus season may explain part but not all of the increase in [healthcare-associated respiratory viral infections (HARVI] rate. Cases of healthcare-associated COVID-19 during this period approached what was seen during the omicron wave despite a consistently lower census of admitted patients positive for SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, local prevalences of most common respiratory viruses were steady or declining during the period when the HARVI rate rose dramatically.

Hopefully those psychos at HICPAC pay attention. Frustratingly, the article describes both “medical” masks and respirators as “masking.”

“50 Infected in NY Hospital COVID Outbreak: Mask Mandates Return” [The Messenger]. “Officials at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, New York, has reported 50 COVID infections among staffers this week, alongside 20 patients who have been admitted with the virus. ‘In order to protect our patients, our staff and families, we are requiring all patients and visitors to wear appropriate face coverings — surgical masks — while they are with us,” said Keith Collins, M.D., infectious disease specialist, in a statement. ‘COVID can be spread before you have symptoms and you may not know you are carrying it.’ ‘We have a number of patients who were diagnosed with COVID here. Because it’s unclear how they came in contact with the virus, universal masking is the best way to combat its spread,’ Lisa Mark, M.D., the hospital’s chief medical officer, added.” • Surgical masks. Oh well, baby steps. And the mandates should not need to “return.” They should never have been lifted.

“With COVID-19 cases edging up, London hospitals revise masking rules” [CBC]. “As cases of COVID-19 climb in the London region, London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and St. Josephs’s Health Care London are revising their masking rules to require staff and doctors in direct contact with patients to wear masks, and recommend visitors and patients do the same.” IOW, not universal. More: “‘Updated masking guidelines, in combination with other protective measures like staying up to date on vaccinations, is part of our responsive strategy this respiratory season,’ said Dr. Michael Silverman, the chair and chief of infectious diseases in London, and medical director of infection prevention and control and the Infectious Diseases Care Program at St. Joseph’s in a statement.” • [family blog] your make-work, useless, lethal “responsive strategy.” Just mandate universal masking. Also, for the record, Covid is not seasonal. Nor best thought of as respiratory.

Choice of words:

“Topical prophylactic” is so much better than “face covering.”


Extraordinarily poor scientific communication:


The Royal Society has an entire issue of meta-studiets on Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), “The effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions on the COVID-19 pandemic: the evidence,” all open sourced. From the executive summary: “There is clear evidence from studies conducted during the pandemic that stringent implementation of packages of NPIs was effective in some countries in reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2. There is also evidence for the effectiveness of individual NPIs, but most NPIs were implemented in packages. Disentangling the effects of one NPI when other NPIs were implemented at the same time presents a significant challenge. Evidence suggests that NPIs were, in general, more effective when case numbers and the associated transmission intensity of SARS-CoV-2 were lower. NPIs became less effective as more transmissible variants of the virus emerged (eg Delta, Omicron) which were better adapted to spreading between people and evading immune responses. Stringency of application of individual NPIs and groups of NPIs influenced rates of transmission, eg respirator masks were more effective than surgical masks and two weeks of quarantine were more effective than shorter periods.”

From and Abstracts for each article:

Face Masks: ” Despite the ROB, and allowing for uncertain and variable efficacy, we conclude that wearing masks, wearing higher quality masks (respirators), and mask mandates generally reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission in these study populations.”

Social Distancing: “The more stringent [Social Distancing Measures (SDMs)] such as stay-at-home orders, restrictions on mass gatherings and closures were estimated to be most effective at reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Most studies included in this review suggested that combinations of SDMs successfully slowed or even stopped SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the community.

Testing, contact tracing and isolation: “Based on the scarcity of robust empirical evidence, we were not able to draw any firm quantitative conclusions about the quantitative impact of TTI interventions in different epidemic contexts. While the majority of studies found that testing, tracing and isolation reduced transmission, evidence for the scale of this impact is only available for specific scenarios and hence is not necessarily generalizable.”

International border control: “We find that symptomatic screening measures were not particularly effective, but that diagnostic-based screening methods were more effective at identifying infected travellers. Targeted travel restrictions levied against travellers from Wuhan were likely temporarily effective but insufficient to stop the exportation of the virus to the rest of the world. Quarantine of inbound travellers was also likely effective at reducing transmission, but only with relatively long quarantine periods, and came with important economic and social effects.”

Environmental control (EC) measures: “EC NPIs considered in this review are room ventilation, air filtration/cleaning, room occupancy, surface disinfection, barrier devices, CO2 monitoring and one-way-systems….. Evidence suggests that EC NPIs of ventilation, air cleaning devices and reduction in room-occupancy may have a role in reducing transmission in certain settings. However, the evidence was usually of low or very low quality and certainty, and hence the level of confidence ascribed to this conclusion is low. Based on the evidence found, it was not possible to draw any specific conclusions regarding the effectiveness of surface disinfection and the use of barrier devices.”

Communications: “This review explored the effectiveness of communications in enhancing the adoption of or adherence to behavioural interventions (non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)) related to COVID-19…. Included studies suggest that NPI adoption or adherence was generally high, and communication had significant impacts, with key themes including clarity and consistency, trust and control.” • UK case study.

“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.

* * *

* * *

Lambert here: Back to tape-watching mode. It looks to me like the current surge has some ways to run, given how wastewater flattened, with the East Coast up. Let’s wait and see.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, October 2:

Lambert here: Leveling out to a high plateau wasn’t on my Bingo card! Perhaps FL.1.5.1, high in the Northeast, has something going for it that other variants don’t have?

Regional data:

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


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 30:

Lambert here: September 30 is tomorrow, but never mind that. Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“), with FL.1.15.1, HV.1, and XBB. trailing. Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, September 16:

Lambert here: 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 23:

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 October 3:

Levelling off again. (New York state is steadily rising, but it’s New York City that’s the bellwether.) 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 23:

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?


From Walgreens, October 2:

-1.0%. Another big drop. (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 Cleveland Clinic, September 23:

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.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, September 11:

Back up again And here are the variants for travelers:

Now, BA.2.86. FL.1.51.1, interestingly, low.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 27:

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: 1,177,793 – 1,177,283 = 510 (510 * 365 = 186,150 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, October 1:

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

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings rose by 690,000 from the previous month to 9.61 million in August 2023, well above the market consensus of 8.8 million and indicating a robust labor market despite the Fed’s unprecedented monetary policy tightening measures.”

Employment Situation: “Be skeptical of that job openings number” [Axios]. “Actual business hiring was basically unchanged in August, rising to 5.9 million people hired. The hiring rate was stable at 3.7%. The number of people who were laid off or quit was also flat in August. Moreover, the job openings number frequently displays volatility that doesn’t seem to align with any underlying economic change. The rubber-meets-road indicators around actual hiring and layoffs are more stable. Meanwhile, many other data points are consistent with a slowing labor market.

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the United States increased to 52.4 in September 2023, pointing to the second consecutive month of expansion and the strongest growth in the logistics sector in seven months.”

* * *

Retail: “Retail theft isn’t actually increasing much, major industry study finds” [CNBC]. “Retail theft has caught the attention of the masses in recent years, from startling smash-and-grab videos during the depths of the Covid pandemic to corporate earnings calls where retailers like Target and Foot Locker are discussing losses from organized retail crime more than they ever have. But the effect of theft on retailers’ bottom lines is about the same as it has been for years, according to the latest data released Tuesday in the widely used industry survey conducted by the National Retail Federation. Total retail shrink grew to more than $112 billion in 2022, up from $93.9 billion the year before, according to the newest National Retail Security Survey. The metric, which accounts for various types of inventory loss including theft, damage and vendor error, generally rises as retail sales climb. While retailers and the NRF are increasingly saying crime is cutting into profits, losses from internal and external theft last year were largely on par with historical trends. They made up 65% of total shrink, the survey found.” But: “Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported more violence associated with organized retail crime than a year ago. In the last survey, 81% reported an increase in violence.” • However, I would want more than a survey of retailers to accept that.

Manufacturing: “Boeing Settles Allegations of Shortcuts in V-22 Osprey Manufacturing” [Manufacturing.net]. “The company has long held a contract to manufacture the V-22 Osprey, a vertical takeoff and landing military aircraft. According to the U.S. Justice Department, Boeing from 2007 to 2018 failed to adhere to agreed upon standards for the fabrication of composite components. The U.S. government contends Boeing failed to perform required monthly testing on autoclaves used in the composite cure process and was not in compliance with additional requirements related to the testing at its facility in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. As a result, the company has agreed to pay $8.1 million to settle the alleged violations of the False Claims Act.” • Well, I’m sure the 787s are OK!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 28 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 31 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 2 at 1:59:14 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

Photo Book

“A Forthcoming Book Turns a New Leaf On Remarkable Photographs of Trees From Around the World” [Colossal]. “Looking At Trees, a forthcoming book compiled with an introduction by artist Sophie Howarth, encourages us to reconnect with our natural surroundings. Images by more than two dozen contemporary photographers, including Beth Moon, Marc Alcock, and Myoung Ho Lee, explore a range of different species, ecosystems, and landscapes. From enigmatic plantations to lofty dwellings, the volume explores the diverse ways in which the woody plants are an important part of our daily lives, even if sometimes we have to remember to notice them.” • Here’s one:

And even though this is not a photo, it may help artists–

“Leonardo da Vinci Was Wrong – Scientists Disprove ‘Rule of Trees'” [SciTech Daily]. “Da Vinci’s interest in drawing led him to look at the size ratios of different objects, including trees, so that he could create more accurate representations of them. To correctly represent trees, he perceived a so-called ‘Rule of trees’ which states that ‘all the branches of a tree at every stage of its height are equal in thickness to the trunk when put together.’… [But f]or water and nutrients to move efficiently through the tree, from root to leaf tip, the vascular system has to maintain ‘hydraulic resistance’. Ruben Valbuena and Stuart Sopp of Bangor University and SLU have calculated that for hydraulic resistance to work, there comes a point where the ‘Rule of Trees’ can no longer hold true. In order to efficiently transport liquids from roots to leaf tips, a tree’s vascular channels need to maintain a certain dimension to maintain hydraulic resistance. Therefore, the plant has to reduce its volume as it reaches its extremities, causing a higher ratio of the capillary to the surrounding plant mass.”

The Gallery

It’s been awhile since Elon killed off the artbots, and anything from the deeply odd Lawrence Alma-Tadema came across my feed:

Zeitgeist Watch

“Propaganda’s casualties.” [The Floutist]. “Such is the power of propaganda: People are led to believe outright lies, to think whatever their government wants them to, and to act in ways completely at odds with reality and their own best interest. Propaganda validates preexisting biases which are themselves the product of propaganda. To put it another way: Propaganda creates a self-perpetuating information ecosystem in which each lie, or half-truth, confirms the next so that people can no longer tell what is true from what is false, or what advances their own security and wellbeing from what actually undermines it…. Propaganda makes a mockery of truth: Anything can be made to appear true so that truth itself loses all meaning and, in the process, reality itself. Consequently, the entire social and political order becomes one-dimensional and cartoon-like—a mere parody of itself as the country that boasts about defending democracy everywhere undermines it. The point cannot be overstated: It is not just the telling of truth that is lost but the ability of people to recognize it. Unable to discern what is true from what is false people are robbed of the ability to make sound decisions about the world in which they live.” • Good thing we’re not building any propaganda into our AI training sets. Oh, wait….

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The Rules-Based International Order Is Quietly Disintegrating” [Walter Russell Mead, Wall Street Journal]. The peroration: “States are imploding and the rule of law is disappearing across large parts of the world. In Latin America, narco-trafficking crime organizations have infiltrated or supplanted weak states. Something similar is happening in the Sahel, with jihadist groups and bandits openly defying the authority of shambolic governments. Russia, China and Iran are happily fishing in these troubled waters, with few signs of effective Western responses to a growing security threat. The ignominious collapse of French power across Africa has been more dramatic, but the palsied incompetence of American responses to the erosion of civil order among our own neighbors is at least equally disgraceful, and equally grave. Threatened by powerful and relentless adversaries from without, undermined by political decadence and institutional decay from within, the rules-based international order has not been this imperiled since the 1930s.” • Since the 1930s? Before World War II? “Show me you’re completely ahistorical without saying your completely ahistorical.” (Also, I love pundits with three names, especially trochaic names.)

Class Warfare

“Huge strike could happen at Kaiser health facilities starting Wednesday. Here’s what we know” [Los Angeles Times]. “Tens of thousands of Kaiser Permanente employees in California and other states plan to go on strike Wednesday after union contracts expired for a huge swath of the Kaiser workforce. The planned strike involves several labor organizations that are part of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. The biggest is SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, which represents nearly 60,000 employees in California….. The majority of the Kaiser workforce is unionized, but not all of the unions that represent its employees are taking part in the three-day strike. For instance, many of the registered nurses working at Kaiser Permanente facilities in Southern California belong to unions that aren’t part of the coalition.”

News of the Wired

“Wilhelm Reich on Pleasure and the Genesis of Anxiety” [Epoché]. “[Reich] proposes in the following passages to schematize the living being as a blob, or, say, as a balloon. Let’s imagine a living balloon that, to survive, needs to remain inflated. It can encounter two problems: either, having lost some air, it is too deflated, and needs to ‘incorporate’ some air – reinflate itself – or, having too much air inside, it needs to release some of its air – deflate. It is important to note that both of them, inflation and deflation, are movements. At first, the difference between these two seems merely to lie in a difference of direction, a quantitative difference. To quench a hunger, we need to incorporate the nutrients that we lack; there is, in that sense, a central movement. Libidinal desire, on the other hand, is marked by a peripheral movement, a movement to the outside, a release. These two movements are obviously connected: when we get hungry, we need to start looking for food, which means that we need to get in contact with the world, as Reich says in the quote above. The libidinal (peripheral) movement therefore goes before the (central) movement of incorporation. At the same time, though, the libidinal movement and the movement of incorporation correspond to different problems: ‘underpressure’: lack of pressure that needs to be compensated, and ‘overpressure’: excess of pressure that needs to be released. There is, in that sense, also a qualitative difference between these two.” • I’m not sure that’s how organisms operate; but it’s certainly suggestive of how The Blob operates.

* * *

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 DG:

DG writes: “Deciduous rhododendron.”

* * *

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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. Fisherman Eddie

    Newsom’s gone off the deep end. Caligula named a horse to the senate. Not quite there yet. His appointing a prerequisite black lesbian, and resident of Maryland, to be California senator shows him to be a total and complete fool.

    Even the San Francisco Chronicle thinks so. It’s a bastion of the lunatic left, cheerleading the San Francisco Family, Willie Brown, Kamala Harris, Newsom and all the hangers on, now under federal indictment, or in prison, like the ex director of Public Works, Mohammend Nuru. He was the boyfriend of the Mayor, London Breed, a ‘po little girl of color who grew up in the projects,’ who is married to the heir of the second largest fortune in Asia, Lawrence Liu. He is the son and billionaire Lui Che Woo, whose net worth has been estimated at $13 Billion.


    1. SG

      I think the major impact to me is that Butler will stop sending me solicitations to contribute to Emily’s List and start sending me solicitations to contribute to her reelection campaign – in spite of the fact that I do not now and never have lived in California (and hope to Cthulhu that I never do).

    2. Tom Stone

      The other Senator Newsome appointed is Alex Padilla, who is famous for handing California to HRC during the 2016 Primaries by not counting the 3,000,000 votes made by those with “No Party Preference”.

    3. Jonathan King

      From what plausible perspective are Willie Brown, Kamala Harris, and Gavin Newsom the “lunatic left”? I live here, and don’t know a soul who would find that credible. Lunatics they may be, but left, nuh uh. They are as problematic to the self-identified left today as Feinstein and Pelosi were in their local heyday. Tools, every one of them, of the lunatic Democratic center is how I see that lot. But then most rightists these days are labeling run of the mill Dems as Marxists, so political nomenclature is in its lunatic expansionary phase anyway. Carry on.

  2. Louis Fyne

    tin foil hat time…

    the monthly tornado/civil defense siren test went way long today. >3 min today versus the usual 30 sec.

    If Democrats pull a page from the GOP in 2004 and make the 2024 elections all about national security, I hope that I’m not glowing in 2025 like that scene from the film “Terminator 2”.

    1. ambrit

      Today, (Oct. 3, 2023,) is slated to be the day of a major test of the Emergency Preparedness System. All cell phones, etc. will be ‘dinged’ with “test” messages emanating from Homeland Security, Civil Defense, etc. Rumours are that the ‘back doors’ built into most civilian personal computers at the behest of the Organs of State Security will be “tested” as well.
      It is a real case of “tin foil hat” time.

          1. Randy

            Here they went off last night, 10/2, off and on randomly, . Problem was blamed on two old siren sites served by phone lines that will be disconnected soon.
            All I can say is, “Sheesh”. We need something resembling competence, somewhere, as in somebody should be minding the counter of the store.

          2. ambrit

            “More Science High! It’s gone!”
            No more ‘Shoes for Industry’ for America now. It has become “access” to shoes, for those with adequate economic and social credit scores.

  3. Watt4Bob

    I went online to check the status of my arrangements to start paying off my portion of our family’s student loan debt last night.

    My previous request for what the loan servicing company called a “Graduated” plan seems to have been erased, even though they sent me a confirmation email that told me they would notify me of their decision.

    I went through the process again, and this time as I completed the form there were two check boxes at the bottom of the page, one of which noted that this loan “Cannot be foregiven”.

    Nice to know it’s up to the loan servicing company to decide such things.

    And Joe still owes me $600.

    1. johnherbiehancock

      I am asking them for a full accounting because it looks like there was a stretch of time when I was making payments and the balance didn’t change for months.

      Like even down to the last cent. I can’t imagine my monthly payment matched the monthly accrued interest perfectly for long stretches of time.

      unfortunately, due to repayments restarting, wait times are off the charts.

  4. Daryl

    > “Why MAGA Wants to Betray Ukraine”

    Betray is fascinating verbiage. It seems to suggest that we all collectively owe or have promised Ukraine something.

    1. Samuel Conner

      To the extent “the West” has been using Ukraine as an instrument of anti-RF policy, I think one could argue that there is some kind of moral obligation, but it would be to end the conflict ASAP and repair the harms suffered, rather than to continue encouraging and aiding it on its current path toward national destruction.

      1. griffen

        Do you want Putin to win?!? Scandalous! ( Sarc ).

        I’m happy to keep Putin in his yard, indeed and yes, but these continual wars ( Global war on terror, Global war on this/that/other, America exceptionalism ) begin taking their toll after lo these many years after the initial 9/11/01 act of terror. I mean to not give risible offense to Ukraine, but their leader is a hack who ought to dress slightly better, more professionally even, when continuing to make his Christmas list demands of the American people. Added point, why are Americans footing the tax bill of the Ukraine public pension rolls? I’m sure American seniors are in line to do so, or perhaps not. I’m thinking out loud, perhaps it’s a no.

  5. ambrit

    North American Deep South Zeitgeist report.
    Went to the Clinic for the now quarterly check-up. [I have been arguing with the Clinic for at the least a year that I cannot afford such extravagant medical expenditures, to no avail.]
    I mentioned to La Medica about some 60 somethings that we know of that have had menstrual periods resume right after they took “the jab.” Her reply, straight faced was that the women involved should get checked for cancer, since that was the probable source of the problem. She then turned her back on me and walked away, even as I began to reply to her Diktat. This is not a stupid person at all. However, I had a kensho moment and realized just how entrenched the PMC group think is in that class today. Yet, she is one of the few workers in the Clinic that wears a mask.
    It is beginning to look like Alice in Wonderland in America.
    Took the bus both ways and I was the only one masked. Some masks at the Clinic, but few and far between.
    The percentage of the general public that masks has settled down to a small portion of the whole.
    My question now is, will that small portion be the survivors? Or are we all doomed?
    The ‘real’ question now is; is the spike protein transferable from mother to fetus in the womb? If Yes, then Terran humanity is doomed, and the Zeta Reticualn plan is certain to prevail. If No, then there is hope for some ‘clean’ Terran human survivors.

    1. notabanker

      FWIW, I was speaking with my cardio’s RN a couple of weeks ago and told her I was not vaxxed and never plan to and she responded quite positively, you are going to be my kind of patient, I think were her words. Not all is lost yet.

      I watched both of the Alice in Wonderland movies over the weekend. I wish America was that simple.

      Finally, Anu will be most unhappy if the Zeta Reticulan clan interferes with his creations.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Alice in Wonderland

      The books are wonderful children’s literature, emphasis literature (and probably could not be written, let alone published, today).

      I think you mean something like Brazil, They Live, the Stepford Wives, or Soylent Green. Or possibly The Last of Us.

      1. ambrit

        Well, Dodgson, (the ‘real’ Carroll,) was a Victorian PMC, a Lecturer in Mathematics no less.
        Lewis Carroll: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Carroll
        Alas for us, but all of your suggested “Fictional” works apply.
        I suspect that R’yleh is actually situated somewhere in the depths of the Chesapeake Bay, probably at the centre of the meteor crater. Thus, the somewhat ‘dubious’ nature of local customs. The psychic and psychological effects of the proximity of one of the more malignant “Elder Gods” is evident in the socio-political character of the Elites residing in the District of Columbia. [I have hazarded to suggest that that eminent facade be renamed the District of Cthulhu, (thus preserving the Initials,) but have been met with a resounding silence. Dare I say it, the Silence of the Tomb.]
        Chesapeake Bay meteor crater: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesapeake_Bay_impact_crater
        Stay safe.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Sorry to hear all this, ambrit. Looks like the Great Reset is actually going to be the Great Resorting instead. I wonder how things will have shaken out by 2030? Will that PMC group finally realize that they have been sold down the river as well?

      1. ambrit

        I’m thinking that by that time, 2030 or so, the present day PMC will have been divided into a Higher PMC and a Lower PMC, and the two subtly set against each other in competition for the crumbs that fall off of the Oligarchs’ dinner table.
        Given the nature of the virus so far, I see no reason why this Pandemic slows down, much less “shakes out” in under a century. Previous pandemics have dragged on for centuries.
        The argument has been made that International Air Travel has speeded up the spread of pathogens by orders of magnitude. So far, so bad, but this has also speeded up the mutation rate. When the entire world is your petri dish, who knows what can be “discovered” in the fields of infectious diseases and “public health.”

      1. ambrit

        That might be the case, but I was quite disappointed to find that a woman that I had previously respected has succumbed to the “Official Narrative” concerning all things Covid.
        I bought up a valid query and was condescendingly given a subtle Appeal to Authority in reply. The attitude alone destroyed much of my trust in that individual, and the institution.
        Is this “cancer” issue going to be the standard reply to all questions about the Coronavirus and menstrual irregularities? Secondly, if there is a sudden spike in female ovarian cancers, will the possibility of the spike protein being the culprit even be investigated?
        Too many unanswered questions, and yet another “Honoured Profession” reduced to the status of “Vulgar Trade.”
        Since you all over there on the shores of the balmy Pacific have a new, absentee Senatrix, will she be allowed to conduct California based business via Zoom and Skype?
        Stay safe.

        1. kareninca

          So many doctors have now quit that we have to lower our standards a lot. I’d just be glad that she is still working and available for whatever she is available for.

          1. ambrit

            Good point, but it does feel like we have been reduced to “the lesser of X evils” territory.
            I do not blame the woman. She has a job to keep, and navigate through the deadly shoals of bureaucratic mud as well.
            I’m beginning to adopt the theory that the main ‘driver’ of the diminution of the Medical Arts is financialization, pure and simple.

    1. PM3

      Brent Carver is still the finest Pirate that ever was. The Stratford Festival production is available on YT and is a real treat.

  6. DJG, Reality Czar

    Does Carl Beijer seem rather fuzzy today, or is it just me?

    First, I’m not buying “banal Eastern Orthodox conservatism,” because I have doubts that he knows what he means. “Banal” is filling in for something: I know not what.

    Second, his definition of fascism, which is “correct,” in his words, needs some work: “Fascism, correctly [?] understood as a radical [?] eliminationist {?] and expansionist [?] ultranationalism that emerges when the middle class [?] displaces the stress of severe economic precarity [?] under capitalism onto minority scapegoats”

    Nope. I think that we can safely call fascism the combination of the upper economic classes, the military, and traditionalist political parties using nationalism, hierarchy, religion, and fear to oppress the majority of workers and farmers as well as specific minority groups used as scapegoats to induce obedience.

    Third, I can’t make heads or tails of this unless the whole thing turns on what he thinks (and repeats) is his justified rage at the Kremlin, which is ahistorical, bad tactics, and misinformed. >

    Leftists who are rightly horrified by this propaganda may be tempted to believe that our ruling class is acting out of some knowing ideological commitment to fascism qua fascism; but in the context of prevailing opinion among the liberal ruling class, the more plausible explanation is that they are acting out of cynical commitment to capitalism. They see in the war against Ukraine an opportunity to leverage rightful outrage at Kremlin imperialists against the memory of communism, and they’re taking advantage of it.

    Cynical commitment to capitalism that happens to be wedded to the military and to dreams of empire? Hmmm. Sounds like fascism qua fascism qua fascism. Hint: quack, quack. See my revised definition of fascism above. Beijer wants to dance around fascist tendencies in the Anglo-American world. He’s more worried about the Russian Empire (scapegoat) than It Can’t Happen Here (the mirror).

    And: What can the memory of communism do now? Scare the easily scared? Provide statues for pigeons to perch on?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Does Carl Beijer seem rather fuzzy today, or is it just me?

      It’s not just you. I picked what I thought was the most useful quote from an uneven piece.

    2. Feral Finster

      Beijer is correct in that most Ukrainians aren’t fascists.

      However, the west has given the Fascists a free hand to act outside any law, and has made it clear that they are the West’s Special Pets, with special access to the cargo and special dispensation from master.

      Naturally, most people gravitate to the perceived winners, or at least to whoever decides who gets a share of The Goodies.

      1. Snailslime

        Actual, committed fascists were never the majority anywhere, including in Nazi Germany, arguably they never even tried or intended to really convert the entire population, so pointing out that the same obviously also goes for Ukraine is trivial and irrelevant.

        If everyone being fascist is a requirement for there being a fascist regime than no fascist regime ever existed anywhere.

        The likelihood of anyone making such an argument in good faith is vanishingly small.

  7. Harold

    There are quite a few purple evergreen rhododendrons, but I had no idea that any deciduous purple rhododendrons existed. Except maybe for the Rhodora, celebrated by Emerson, Rhododendron canadensis, which is really magenta but looks purplish in some lights. Emerson’s poem is sort of uneven but contains the memorable lines, “Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why / This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,” Tell them that, “if eyes were meant for seeing, / Then beauty is its own excuse for being.”

  8. Carolinian

    Re shrink–a twenty percent increase over one year is actually a lot is it not? And that percentage may be much greater in some areas than in others which is why a national survey isn’t capturing the picture. The retailers may be saying that areas like CA and OR that treat shoplifting as a mere nuisance are threatening to create a national trend that really does threaten them.

    And I’m not sure I disagree. Some of us like to shop at actual stores rather than on the internet.

    Also thanks for the Patrick Lawrence. I think he’s very good.

  9. notabanker

    I feel like the ‘There will be blood” book review in this mornings links is the thesis, and everything in the Water Cooler is another data point moving us closer to the event horizon.

    The twitter take down of the WaPo oped is of particular concern. They think this is about Trump. It is really not. In fact, it is about them.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I feel like the ‘There will be blood” book review

      I thought it was great, but I had questions.

      1) Close to ground level, I think Turchin would over-estimate the role of provincial lawyers who went to Paris and became lawyers, and underestimate the role of the peasants who burned all the land records.

      2) Higher up, his database is by definition retrospective. What if our situation is truly unprecedented?

      1. notabanker

        >What if our situation is truly unprecedented?

        I do think (and have pondered this) that is quite possible given the unprecedented techno-surveillance capabilities of today. Economic coercion at a macro-level has never been easier. Couple that with modern supply chain dependence and those are powerful weapons.

        The flipside though, those are weaknesses that would cripple the state if they can be undermined, and humans are quite inventive creatures when necessary. Having seen the tech sausage being made, TPTB vastly over estimate the resiliency of their creations.

      2. Ben Joseph

        The ecocatastrophe superimposed would seem to prevent the soft landing option. So unprecedented seems likely.

  10. kareninca

    I’m sorry – really I am – but I no longer believe the wastewater data. Something is very wrong. I know so very many people with covid right now, but the local wastewater level is ultra low. It is just not right.

    1. Ghost in the Machine

      I am having a similar feeling. Our wastewater is up some, but I know many people with Covid. As high as previous peaks with much higher wastewater levels. Please oh please don’t let this metric go bad!

    2. JM

      Same. I checked several Midwest/great lakes states last week when they were reporting a drop. Only one was slightly down, others were flat or slightly up. Maybe the plains states were dragging it down but it really raised my eyebrow. Was going to check again today or tomorrow.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’m sorry – really I am – but I no longer believe the wastewater data.

      No need to apologize. Your reaction is important and I must say I’ve been a bit leery* of it too, but I need to be conservative**. Like you, I’m noticing a virtual plethora of anecdote (not all of which can be attributed to Twitter’s algo feeding me what I want to read). The Yankee candle proxy indicator is up. Also, people are complaining about lack of taste in food, another proxy.

      Wastewater is, of course, a proxy for case data (and held up well in the past). Now, of course, we have no case data to cross-check it with.

      I have been trying to come up with another proxy to track but I’m unsure if it’s even possible. Something that evades the “health care” system. A proxy more rigorous than Yankee Candles. And ideally with weekly reporting.

      Cough syrup sales? Ingredients?

      Nasal spray sales?

      Shortages of anything that relieves respiratory symptoms. Kleenex???

      Records from schools, say school bus reports? Illness records? Absenteeism?

      Is there any way to scrape, say, Reddit for symptom keywords? Some other source?

      Can readers help?

      NOTE * Both Biobot and CDC are partial. Biobot, IIRC, has a contract with CDC. So there, if you are cynical enough, you are.

      NOTE ** In no sense does the BioBot data confirm that “Covid is over.” Quite the reverse!

      1. lambert strether

        Adding, I forgot journaling; one Twitter account linked to yesterday, and of course IM Doc’s careful records.

      2. Samuel Conner

        just speculating — trends.Google.com shows large excursions in search frequency for

        COVID symptoms

        with large peaks during the first two years of the pandemic, and smaller ones since late Winter 2022. The most recent peak was in early September.

        I don’t know how well one would expect search frequency to correlate with infection; presumably low-symptom cases and people with concerning symptoms but of the “it’s only a cold” mindset would self-select out of this sample.

        Switching between the Google trends page and the old arcgis COVID dashboard, there appears to my eye to be a reasonably good correlation between the pattern of peaks and valleys of the arcgis “cases” chart and the search trends chart. The relative heights of the pattern of peaks in the two charts correlates with Google trends better for the arcgis “deaths” chart than for the “cases” chart.

        It’s not a quantitative measure but it might provide a qualitative measure over short horizons of relative changes in concern, which I would expect to correlate crudely with the frequency of symptomatic infection among that residue of the population that is still concerned about the virus.

      3. kareninca

        The only “real” sign will be deaths. I posted yesterday about a 40-ish guy, a friend of an acquaintance here in Silicon Valley, who very recently tested positive and then a couple of days later died in his sleep. I’ve read that deaths spike during waves. Not hospital deaths necessarily, so hospitalizations might not then be a leading indicator. If people die quickly after being infected, due to vascular problems, there won’t be time for buying NyQuil. And it won’t be counted as covid.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Eventually life expectancy will be all we’ve got a huge lagging indicator. But maybe as America is a failed state, death reporting will cease to be reliable as well? A basic function of a state. Births and deaths.

      4. SES

        Someone, I forget who, wrote about using Paxlovid sales as an indicator. The data on this are released by Pfizer, and the approximate percentage of infected people getting Paxlovid can be estimated. I wish I’d bookmarked that Twitter thread!

        1. kareninca

          That sounds promising. But I don’t know how you could estimate what percentage of infected people were taking it.

    4. Jason Boxman

      For six months I’ve wondered if there’s some mutation that sheds less in stool. And then there’s a complicated normalization on the waste water reading themselves. We have no independent check any longer. I’ve tried and failed at Google Trends hunting. No idea where else to look.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > For six months I’ve wondered if there’s some mutation that sheds less in stool. And then there’s a complicated normalization on the waste water reading themselves.

        I did some research on normalization of waste water readings, and it reminded me of SEO (not in a good way). That said, if the process is the consistent, then at least we have a baseline for up, down, plateau, and a sense of the pervasiveness (“as bad as March 2020”), even if the absolute numbers are untrustworthy.

        Excellent question on stool. Let me see if I can dig into that.

  11. Ranger Rick

    I thought the “rules-based international order” was the phrase used to describe the parallel system of institutions that the US et al. set up to bypass the UN. Shouldn’t interested not-great-power parties be cheering for its demise? (I see this WSJ article as a continuation of that link I remember from a few days ago.)

    1. jsn

      Even as the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations were setting up the UN, on a track Kennedy hoped to return the US to, the Dulles brothers were envisioning the CIA, bequeathing us the “rat lines”, Pinochet and the current Canada / India fracas along with the war in Ukraine.

      It’s interesting that the “rules based international order” only came into usage after Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, precipitated the NATO eastward expansions against the advice of George the First, who as a former CIA director understood the importance of keeping the quiet part quiet: UN legitimacy was a good cover for CIA lawlessness.

      After that, the US lost all self awareness and the “City on the Hill” turned from Beacon of Hope to Barad Dur.

    2. Random

      The rules based international order is whatever you want it to be.
      But on a serious note, it has no real definition or rules, so depends on the author.

      1. Gavin

        “All right, you primitive screwheads, listen up. This is my boomstick.”

        – The one, the only Bruce Campbell explaining how the first rules-based international order was going to work in the movie Evil Dead.

  12. XXYY

    Everything that made workers’ lives easier during the Trump administration — primarily, the CARES Act — was systematically stripped away by the Biden Administration.

    It is astonishing and remarkable. Many of us felt a strong sense of urgency after the 2020 elections, knowing that by 2022 and especially 2024 there needed to be obvious, concrete material changes in US society that were clearly traceable to the Democrats, if they didn’t want to lose one or more levers of power that they then held. This was especially urgent since Biden barely squeaked by in 2020 under economic and public health conditions that should have given him a landslide. The guy clearly had one foot on a banana peel even then.

    Once the Dems took office, not only did we see endless dithering, vacillating, and excuse-making as if they had all the time in the world, but we actually saw deliberate efforts to make things worse than they were under Trump.

    Quite an amazing case of self-sabotage.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Ugh, I’m remembering the cascading bathos of the Build Back Better thing.

      Was that before or after mandates?

  13. jsn

    “the rules-based international order has not been this imperiled since the 1930s”

    If by “the rules-based international order” you’re referring to the British Empire as chronicled by Mark Hanna in his “Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire”, well, then he’s quite right: that empire was fatally imperiled in the 30s, didn’t make it through the 40s in fact. And it’s hard to argue the US isn’t the heir to that empire, and with the OSS transubstantiation into the CIA, the heir to that empires international, imperial lawlessness.

    So, who knows what is pile of rhetoric means to him, but in a sense, about this, he’s right!

  14. XXYY

    KRUGMAN: Russian aggression has also put other autocratic regimes …. on notice that democracies aren’t that easy to overrun.


    I think the biggest and most unmistakable takeaway from the Ukraine war is that the West, and the US in particular, is now a powerless paper tiger that can barely achieve anything at this point in its history, let alone not be overrun. It’s industrial power is largely gone; it’s elites are doddering, corrupt and incompetent; and the creative abilities of its people are largely wasted on things that are pointless and don’t work.

    It’s quite remarkable to see the almost total reputational and military collapse of the world’s largest Imperial power in about 18 months. Future historians, if there are any, will look back and marvel at this two or three year period as a major turning point.

    1. albrt

      I think it would be very difficult for Russia or China to overrun the United States, given the distances involved.

      The problem is that the converse is also true, and our current elites are incapable of recognizing that. So the the U.S. empire, and perhaps even the United States itself, might very well collapse from trying to do too many impossible things, but the United States probably will not be overrun.

      1. Snailslime

        Of course neither Russia nor China have ever shown the slightest interest in overrunning the US, though the US may dream about overrunning them.

        Ironically Ukraine, which never was a democracy and never tried to be, managed to hold on as long as it did precisely thanks to being an absolutely ruthless, bloodthirsty, totalitarian, nazi terror regime, using sheer brutality and terror tactics to force compliance with continuing the war.

        Krugman is a complete Liar and there is no way that He does Not fully know that He is peddling lies.

        Drawing any correct conclusions from recent history is of course completely impossible under these circumstances, though the elites of course want to prevent Just that.

        Of anything we have seen the clear demonstration of the complete incompatibility of democracy with any prolonged war, not only in Ukraine (which as said was never a democracy and would have collapsed long ago, but still managed to grow ever more blatantly fascist and totalitarian over the course of the conflict) but also across the entire West were without exception ever more aggressively antidemocratic, authoritarian measures are not only undertaken but clearly necessary to prolong even mere support for this war.

        One shudders to think what measures the countries of the collective West will use against their own Population once they actually enter the war as active participants.

        Where Ukraine is concerned, it will be overrun soon enough, regardless of system of goverment, but even outside of the obvious fact of authoritarian regimes being clearly vastly superior at keeping a a long, difficult and losing war going, it does not seem that Krugman is not even attempting to propose any actual mechanism to explain his supposed democratic resilience.

        Small wonder though, seeing as no such thing exists, or at the very least we are not seeing any example of it anywhere.

  15. Adam

    Re the Paul Krugman article. It embarrasses me to say that earlier in my life, when I was a regular dead tree NYT reader, I actually thought this guy was truly smart. Now I wonder how anyone so smart could be so stupid and blind to reality. I guess they must pay him really well.

    1. Carolinian

      I presume he’s still at Princeton? He started out at Slate which was and presumably still is a very neoliberal outfit with Michael Kinsley having been a fixture at Washington Monthly.

      Now some of those folks are at The Atlantic.

      So Krugman as some kind of lefty was always suspect. I used to read him too. Have switched to some better economics commentary (here!!).

    2. Mikel

      “MAGA wants to betray…”
      That opening is a dog whistle, saying anyone not with the Ukraine grift must be “MAGA” and as if saying no to the mess of lies, degeneracy, and incompetence is betrayal.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Let’s see. Krugman must know that the US has already given the Ukraine about $130 billion and RNOs like Lindsay Graham are saying that another $60 have to be seen stat. And these are only the official amounts so who knows what other tens of billions have been sent to the Ukraine. And not only will this be an ongoing obligation until the end of history but Congress made certain that none of this could be audited. And to make it better, all that money is being borrowed meaning that it will have to be paid back – plus interest at a time when interest rates are rising. And this will mean that cuts will have to be made to pay back that money – likely to social security and medicare. So my conclusion is that Krugman is a total idiot so what else is new?

      1. Jason Boxman

        Thankfully it never needs to be “repaid”, but it’s an enormous waste of resources nonetheless.

    4. Donald

      Krugman has gone back and forth. He defended “ free trade” and sweatshops in the 90’s and ridiculed antiglobalization activists. He seemed to have converted to leftism in the Dubya era. I believed it. Then Sanders ran against the Anointed One and Krugman went ballistic. I was initially shocked, having thought Krugman had become a decent person, but he made it very clear in 2016 that he was the same as the guy I despised in the 90’s.

  16. SG

    Biggest R advantage on economy since 1991

    Which was, of course, the year before Bill Clinton was elected. This makes me doubt the significance of this particular metric.

  17. MaryLand

    Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine gets FDA authorization

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, bringing the number of immunizations effective against the current circulating strain up to three.

    The company’s CEO John Jacobs said people should be able to get the updated shot at “major pharmacies, physicians’ offices, clinics and various government entities” within the coming days.


    1. Walter

      Darn! Ya beat me to it (he says from Maryland).


      Gawd what a long URL!

      My cousin’s kid texted me an announcement of it just as I was going out. Had discussion with Yves and others a couple days ago—various new sites, and especially the several Novavax sites, confused the heck out of me, with older announcements seeming to indicate that the new one had already been approved. An interesting addition to the confusion is that the FDA does not issue a completely new EUA, it amends the previous one. So “XBB.1.5 (2023-2024 formula)” is in now, and “Original monovalent” is “no longer authorized.” Yeah, I know the World would fall down if these nits weren’t picked.

      Now, do I have enough trust in ANY of the Covid vaccines to get this jab? Gack!?

      Thanks to all.

    1. lambert strether

      “Far Left Democrat Faction Throws House Into Chaos as Pelosi Is Ousted”

      Oh, wait. I must have dreamed it.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Right?!! Right?!!! Proving once again that the feral GOP punishes the wayward for more effectively than Dum(b)ocrats.

      2. ChrisRUEcon

        LOL … to wit (via Reuters) …

        We need a speaker who will fight for something – anything – other than staying on as speaker,” said Republican Representative Bob Good.

        Representative Nancy Mace told reporters she voted to remove McCarthy as speaker because he broke promises to her on improving access to birth control and supporting a bill she wrote on rape kits.

        “I’ve made deals with Kevin McCarthy, with the speaker, that he has not kept to help women in this country,” Mace said. “We have done nothing for them.”

        “When you shake my hand and you make a promise and you don’t keep it, there are consequences,” she told reporters.

        Emphases mine.

        Imagine a world where #IceCreamNancy was made to pay for not keeping her promises and being a kleptocrat.

    2. GF

      For all the vitriolic rhetoric spewed by the “Crazy 8s” toward Democrats they ended up relying totally on the themto oust McCarthy.

    1. Daryl

      Good news. Hopefully, somebody will cook something up that helps find places to actually *get* it.

  18. John Beech

    My inbox is full of friends outraged about Governor Newsome appointing a black woman with sexual preferences for women (basically saying it just because she checks three boxes – female, gay, black) should shut the f-ck up. They are wrong! Why do I say this? First, it’s because unless you live in CA, you have no say in CA politics. Beyond that, isn’t it enough gays, blacks, and women have carried the dirty end of the stick since time immemorial enough reason to give her a pass? Later, when it’s time for an election, she can make her own case to hold the office and represent Californians. But until then, shut up . . . please!

    1. flora

      One of the wins of the first progressive era in the US was passing the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, making all Senators elected instead of appointed by state lege and governors.

      Tell your friends the stop-gap political appointment to fill a short term vacancy is just a throwback to an older era; they should be glad all senators are elected to full terms now. / ;)

      1. flora

        edit: originally, Senators were elected by their states’ legislatures, not by the popular vote. In effect, the legislatures appointed the Senators.

      2. scott s.

        The 17th was ratified because politics became increasingly national in the 19th century. As a result, voting for state legislatures was seen as a proxy for voting for senator. Goes as far back as Lincoln/Douglas in 1858. By ratifying the 17th, state legislators viewed it as unlinking their personal elections. The 17th gave appointment power to governors which does not exist for representatives (don’t know the reasoning behind that).

      1. notabanker

        Well, if the Governor of CA thinks there are no Democrats living in the state of California qualified to be a Senator, who am I to argue?

        1. Young

          If the qualifications were only black, lgbt and woman, he could have easily picked a random homeless Californian from the street of San Francisco.

          1. ambrit

            The “black” part is racist, the “lgbtq” part is gender phobic, and the “woman” part is genderist.
            See what “IdPol” has bought us to?

    2. ALM

      Butler is a former labor leader turned corporate lobbyist which infuriates me in my capacity as a female and California resident. She is a sell-out who worked on the Uber campaign to kill labor rights for gig workers. She also worked on Airbnb campaigns. That Newsom reached across the country for an intersectional corporate lobbyist turned fundraiser to represent 40 million Californias is galling.

    1. Jason Boxman

      I seriously respect conservatives; their politics might be insane, but they never cease attempting to realize that end. Remember when The Squad had the opportunity to withhold votes from Pelosi for Speaker, and instead rolled over; and this was a moment when the Democrat trifecta could have reasonably passed, say, universal health care, so forcing Pelosi on this issue was very sensible strategy, withholding votes for speakership, a valid tactic here.

      We all know how that worked out. And AOC is enjoying her sweet sweet Telsa ride these days. Thirty pieces of sliver indeed.

      1. Screwball

        I don’t see a downside to kicking McCarthy out of anything, so good for them. It’s all a circus anyway, so why not. Let’s hope they keep flushing and it becomes a trend.

        If nothing else, I hope it gets Ukraine funding stopped, and even better, a money cop on that beat. I know, I’m really in dream land now.

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    I looked through the latest fun reading from my Medicare part D drug insurance provider. My insurance rate for next year jumped by 78%. I’ll start looking for a new insurance provider tomorrow but I am worried there may not be many better choices available. After I retired I dreamed I might finally take a rest from reading and digesting excruciatingly dull government documents and performing complicated by pointless analysis of options.

  20. John

    I grew up reading the NY Herald Tribune. It closed. I read the NY Times for many years. It priced me out and then it changed beyond recognition. I once thought Paul Krugman a smart man. What happened? I had a subscription to The Atlantic (Monthly)for I cannot recall how many years. It became unreadable. The Economist became boring and predictable. Smithsonian Magazine is hanging in there … my last print subscription.

    Now the paywall is shutting off the internet. Have you noticed what Financial Times and Foreign Affairs think they are worth?

    Blogs and podcasts are what’s left. … Be selective.

    1. tegnost

      What happened?

      For me it was the meeting with stiglitz and obama, he came out tamed.
      I can only imagine the plight of an ivy league professor, faced daily by the magnificent children of the master class…so much promise…
      And he sold out.
      I and I think ambrit as well were directed to NC by Krugman in his blog, Calculated Risk along with it, I never looked back.

      1. ambrit

        “10/4 Elanor” to that tegnost.
        I remember a column by Krugman titled “I Do Not Want to Be Your Friend.” It was about the Facebook trend of “friending” everyone and anyone on the Internet.
        That piece summarized both the “right to be left alone” and the “Ivory Tower effect” for me.
        The first part of our lives, the agents of society work to indoctrinate us. The rest of our lives we work to undo the damage.
        Stay safe!

  21. steppenwolf fetchit

    Well, McCarthy is apparently out as Speaker. He wasn’t voted out. He just doesn’t want to be voted about at all. He has had enough.

    So who will it be? Speaker Jewish Space Lasers? Speaker Gripadick? Speaker Mat the Gaetz?

    So wow. Such awesome.

    1. tegnost

      The dems have pushed the overton window so far to the right the GOP has disintegrated.
      The dems are now the party of reagan, trickle down the campaign promise.
      My current betting odds are on neither biden nor trump in 2024 but rather one disruptive technocrat vs, another, and as with the cali senator, someone you’ve never heard of vs. the same.
      We’re delegitimizing.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        This would be a fine time for RFK Jr and Gabbard to run together on a ticket of whatever name or label. If those two could get their ticket onto just enough states to where they could win just enough of those states to deny the brand name candidates a victory, that would be great. Just to see it.

        West will get very few votes. He won’t pull a single vote away from Trump or Biden.

  22. Snailslime

    If the West was at all genuinely concerned about states collapsing and being replaced by criminal syndicates and terrorist paramilitaries, it would seek close cooperation with Russia, China and Iran, some of the last forces actively trying to create stability and uphold functional state structures on this sad ball of dust.

    It’s increasingly clear that you can’t possibly have both, being opposed to the destabilisation and collapse of states around the world and being opposed to Russia, China and Iran the way the collective west is.

    If you are obsessively against the later, there is no way in hell you are anywhere near as much opposed to the former as you pretend to be.

    It’s almost…. as if you were some kind of Empire of Chaos or something like that.

  23. VietnamVet

    The Non-pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) were successfully implemented in Asian and South Pacific nations the first year of SARS-2. It was the West that didn’t implement them fully that allowed the more transmissible Omicron variant to evolve in South Africa (that surgical masks couldn’t control) which then spread across the world by air transportation until even China gave up. Corporate/state propaganda intentionally downplays the truth. COVID is endemic and continues to mutate.

    The obvious can no longer be hidden. Even Jeff Bezos’ WaPo published “An epidemic of chronic illness is killing Americans in their prime”. It expands on the earlier identified “deaths of despair” in the USA and documents that there is an epidemic of early death of the middle-aged in the American heartland. In these cities there is around a twelve-year lower life expectancy if you live on the wrong side of the tracks.

    Long COVID remains unaddressed. It is not unreasonable to assume the influx of migrants being allowed into the USA is to provide replacement workers for the dead and ill.

    The proxy European World War III, shortages, homelessness, and the collapse of the healthcare system are driving the increasing turmoil. The US Speaker of the House (the third highest position in government) has been removed for the first time in history.

    There is one truth yet to be exposed. There are no rules. The one and only thing that matters is profit, not the lives or health of Americans, just increasing one’s individual wealth.

    “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing.”

    Only the restoration of democratic good government and the rule of law will reverse the deterioration.

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