2:00PM Water Cooler 10/9/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, you must be content with this skeletal post, since I am finishing up a post on Covid and celebrities. Talk amongst yourselves! I’ll make it up to you tomorrow, I swear! –lambert

In the meantime, I am not posting on this, because it’s single sourced and even though there’s some agreement from respected aerosol scientists, there’s no real confirmation, and most importantly, I can’t find the document, though if some kind soul wants throw a copy over the transom I would be eternally grateful (address below at the Plant):


My yellow waders, however, stand ready!

* * *

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 EMM:

EMM writes: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

* * *

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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. Screwball

    Ok, so the world got a bit more crazy over the weekend with what’s going on with Israel, Hamas, and whoever else. Hard to tell what the truth really is (I think most would agree), as usual. But I knew, at some point, someone would get the blame for this latest news. A NYT best selling author named Thom Hartmann (never heard of him but my PMC friends seem to love him) has figured it out (I feel so much better now). From a Tweet;

    Hartmann Tweet contents

    Hamas apparently knew how to get around Israel’s Iron Dome defenses. They probably learned this from Iran. Iran almost certainly got the information from Russia. And who gave it to Russia? Sure looks like it was Donald Trump, at the request of Putin:

    Annnnd, of course my PMC friends eat it up like a box of chocolates. How long can EVERYTHING be blamed on Russia, Putin, Trump? Enough already!

    1. Random

      The way they got “around” it is by saturating it.
      Big secret.
      Not like it’s a system with a proven track record anyways against anything more than homemade rockets.
      But of course that’s too simple of an explanation. It’s Trump and Putin.

    2. Vicky Cookies

      “probably”, “almost certainly”, and “sure looks like” all do pole-vaults in this awful bit of writing. Probably, the author saw an event which dismayed him, and, almost certainly, some neurons fired, and what happened next? It sure looks like free association on a theme, in this case, official enemies.

    3. Randall Flagg

      It was a bit chilly put today and not as much sun as forecasted.
      Damn that Donald Trump!
      Most useful excuse ever, “It’s Trump’s fault”
      Didn’t get that raise or promotion? Trump’s fault.
      Wife left you? Trump’s fault.
      On and on.

    4. chris

      And remember, Israel neither confirms nor denies that it has nuclear weapons. It just has weapons grade plutonium and missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads. This conflict might put an end to the speculation. I am very concerned that Israel will use a tactical nuke against Gaza unless it gets its way.

      1. The Rev Kev

        If the Collective West is perfectly fine with artillery strikes, drone attacks and infantry raids on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in the Ukraine, you think that the west would also be perfectly fine with Palestinian drone attacks on the Dima nuclear research station in Israel as well? I mean, it’s not as if the Israelis have nukes there as they have never confirmed their existence.

        1. in_still_water

          Most of this administration (especially the Obama remnants like the recently departed Iranian envoy Robert Malley) would seem not have much of an issue with a Palestinian drone attack on the Dima nuclear research station.

      2. ashley

        i dont think theyll use any kind of nukes on gaza because they want it to be usable for their settlers after they take it. nukes would ruin the land. theyll just conventionally bomb it to the stone ages regardless of who or how many they kill in the process.

        1. chris

          Strongly disagree with that point of view. What Israel fears most is a two front war. They would sacrifice the land to provide a sense of security because then they could focus on the West Bank territory and the border with Lebanon. The presence of hundreds of hostages means they can’t conventionally bomb things either. But if things get desperate they may well decide it’s all a worthy sacrifice.

    5. The Rev Kev

      Putin has a summer dacha in their minds by now that is rent free. Right next door to that Trump mansion.

      1. ambrit

        Ah yes. Putin’s new Florida Dacha, right next to the H—mouth from which the Orange Satan emerges to wreak havoc on the Earth; “Mir A Lago.”

    6. ChrisRUEcon

      All roads lead to Putin!!!

      Cursory link I like to drop at times like these:

      Why Putin’s Foes Deplore U.S. Fixation On Election Meddling (via the New York Times)

      TL;DR – The more the aforementioned fixations ascribe to Putin all manner of capacities to control geopolitical events, the stronger he actually becomes at home and abroad in countries less sympathetic to U.S. hegemony.

      I also just realized that article is still paywalled … and that the paywall plea for subscription actually says:

      “Support independent journalism with a subscription.”


      “Independent” doing a lot of work there, no doubt.

    7. notabanker

      So Google and wiki tell me this guy is the number one progressive radio show host in the US. Basically a blue Rush Limbaugh. The twitter comments destroy him, I haven’t found a supportive one yet, so Elon’s virtual playground does have some redeeming qualities.

      He doubles down on his assertion based on a WaPo story that accuses Trump of revealing code word info about Islamic Terrorists. What he doesn’t say is the same article says the Trump went off script and discussed details of an Islamic State terrorist threat using laptop computers on aircraft. So unless those tricky Hamas buggers hacked into Israeli security while flying on a plane over Tel Aviv, not sure this is all that helpful to the cause.

      But, ya know, the chances of his listenership actually reading the WaPo article is about the same as him actually reading it, so it’s all good. Oh, did I mention the article was from 2017, when Trump was President?:

      For almost anyone in government, discussing such matters with an adversary would be illegal. As president, Trump has broad authority to declassify government secrets, making it unlikely that his disclosures broke the law.

      Of course, the blob saw it differently:

      The CIA declined to comment, and the NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

      But wait, there’s more!

      “Everyone knows this stream is very sensitive, and the idea of sharing it at this level of granularity with the Russians is troubling,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official

      “It is all kind of shocking,” said a former senior U.S. official who is close to current administration officials. “Trump seems to be very reckless and doesn’t grasp the gravity of the things he’s dealing with, especially when it comes to intelligence and national security. And it’s all clouded because of this problem he has with Russia.”

      And there was another former senior officials who felt compelled to jump in as well. Under anonymity of course.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > another former senior officials who felt compelled to jump in as well

        Rats defending a garbage dump. I mean, history tells us there is such a thing as “national security,” but there’s no particular reason to confuse the national security establishment with national security as such.

        Trump is, shall we say, undisciplined and given to puffery. But he gets this, he gets what they are, and it makes them crazy.

    8. Carolinian

      My brother just sent me this claim via email!….luuuvs Thom Hartman.

      Didn’t Hartman once have a show on RT? What a turncoat.

    9. Nikkikat

      Thom Hartmann is a Democratic Party cheerleader. Always, always GOP bad. Democrats good. He supported Hillary, Joe Biden and threw Bernie under the bus. Clueless.

  2. Lee

    EMM writes: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”


    Autumn brings on in me a strange sense of nostalgic longing. But longing for what, I cannot say. It has no form, nor is it associated with time, place, or persons I can summon from memory.

    Friends’ wedding haiku:

    In the season when
    All that flourished now withers:
    laughter, lace, and wine.

      1. Lee

        That too. I do not do well in hot weather, nor in too cold weather either. I am a dyed in the wool San Francisco Bay Area weather wimp.

        1. southern appalachian

          There’s not enough appreciation for Basho here where I live, or among my friends. I don’t what to do with that.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > 5 -ly blogging hot ___

            One more syllable needed :-)

            Agree on Bashō; read him years ago. As a crude Westerner, I tend to think of haiku as just a little bit twee. And for high-schoolers. Not Bashō. Ezra Pound-level discipline, imagery. And unexpectedness.

  3. JM

    Lambert, I recall you were looking at browsers, and wanted to mention that Firefox recently added on-machine (local) translation of several Western languages; that would give an option to ditch Google for some translation needs. I tried it on a German article linked last week, and the French tweet and was pleased with the results. It seems to sometimes be in the address bar but you can get it through the Menu any time.

      1. megrim

        Have you tried Vivaldi? It’s super customizable, and I have hundreds of tabs open on it right now. You can create “tab stacks” and even save whole reams of tabs as “saved sessions.” Too many other features to begin to try to list them. They finally have it for iOS!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I will have hundreds of tabs open when aggregating, not only for the day itself, but to preserve what gets left on the cutting room floor.

          So far as I can determine, Arc’s sidebar is where tabs end up. It’s a vertical list on a laptop holds about 20 items. By contrast, the horizontal tab bar on a browser holds many, many more; squashed together, I grant. I want to see how many tabs I need to process, and I want to be able to pick individual tabs out instantly. I’m not going to be scrolling through the list on Arc’s sidebar. So the one thing I need they can’t do.

          I really want to use Arc because it’s very, very fast. But this one misfeature prevents me. I’ve had conversation with them, but so far to no effect.

          1. Acacia

            You might be able to do this with an extension that gives you a sidebar list of all tabs, e.g.:


            It would involve writing a little JavaScript but could work in the browser of your choice and would likely be much easier than getting the dudes on a dev team to rework their UI.

            Might be possible for it to sort and group the tabs by date, etc.

  4. GF

    RFK’s speech today switching to Independent:


    Some quotes:

    “I declared independence from Wall Street, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Ag, the military contractors, and their lobbyists who now outnumber members of Congress 20 to 1.

    I declared independence from the mercenary media that forever urges us to hate our neighbors and fear our friends.

    I declared independence from the cynical elites who betray our hope and amplify our divisions.

    And finally, I declared independence from the two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them, and the entire rigged system of rancor and rage, corruption and lies, that has turned government officials into indentured servants of their corporate bosses.”

    The entire speech is worth a read.

    1. LawnDart

      …I declared independence from the two political parties and the corrupt interests that dominate them, and the entire rigged system of rancor and rage, corruption and lies…

      Do ya think he focus-grouped this?

    2. steppenwolf fetchit

      I hope he can get on the ballot in enough states that if he can win just enough of them, he and his campaign can deny the brand name parties an electoral college victory.

      Throw it into the House of Representatives and force them to declare in public whose side they are on.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks. Those [glass bowls], I bet that’s the one, even if the title is different.

      “Infection prevention and control in the context of coronavirus disease (‎COVID-19)‎: a living guideline, 9 October 2023”

      “Living guideline,” my sweet Aunt Fanny. Just another way to obfuscate that #CovidIsAirborne.

      But apparently not! Perhaps I was too cynical?!

  5. The Rev Kev

    WHO: “Airborne Doesn’t Actually Mean Airborne, It Means Something Else That Doesn’t Mean Airborne.”

    Next headline. WHO redefines the meaning of the words ‘virus’ and ‘pandemic’ to mean something other than what they mean.

  6. nippersdad

    Interesting! Ramzan Kadyrov is apparently (Ukrainski Pravda via Yahoo, so huge chunk of salt) saying that he wants the Chechens to be sent in to referee the Israel/Palestinian thing.

    “Quote: “I’m once again urging all Muslims, all citizens, and our state to support the truth and put an end to this war. Or send us there on a peacekeeping mission. We will decide who’s right and who’s wrong. We will stop those who continue fighting.””


    Sending the Chechens in to sort them all out would be quite a sight to see.

  7. ambrit

    Has anyone else noticed the sudden uptick in Pro-Israel YouTube videos? Either that or the algorithm is now “suggesting” a flood of Pro-Israel videos to me individually.
    Does YouTube have a Hasbara Department now?
    This Information War is reaching absurd levels.
    Time to watch to see if some of the “noncompliant” bloggers get deplatformed.
    Stay safe. Stay independent thinking.

    1. caucus99percenter

      In Germany, for the usual historical reasons, the entire spectrum from far-left to far-right, with very few exceptions, is now on board with Israel turning Gaza from the cage and prison it already is, into a full-fledged disposable Petri dish a.k.a. death camp.

      Just as with 9/11, the mysterious simultaneous failure of the most thorough and extensive security systems on the planet, is eyebrow-raising. At any rate, IF there is a false-flag or LIHOP element at work here to justify ethnic cleansing, it has sicceeded.

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