2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Thrush Nightingale, Spurn Bird Observatory Recording Area, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom.

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Look for the Helpers

From alert reader CC:

At one time you had put out the call for articles ( and pictures I hope), of helpers. In the above is little Penny, a miniature border collie on my daughter’s farm. She will help by being a watchdog, keep the free range chickens out of the barn or areas they don’t belong. Just say the word and she shoos them out. Helps keep away other critters that wander around the hills of Vermont. Maybe most importantly, just a wonderful, all around pleasant companion to all, at home or on the road. Trucking cattle, hay or on product delivery routes of farm subscribers.

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Patient readers, I have not given up on this category! However, I feel that I have not characterized it adequately. However, “I know what I like,” and CC’s picture + caption contribution was so on point I felt I had to print it.


“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

“A High-Risk Legal Effort to Keep Trump Off the Ballot” [The New Yorker]. “Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment says that anyone who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and then participates in an insurrection—or gives aid or comfort to those who have—is disqualified from holding any office, civil or military.” • I wish liberal Democrats would stop lying about this. That’s not what Section 3 says. But Larry Tribal says it does, and Larry is an honorable man. See here (and here for more examples of the sort of pack journalism in which I did not expect The New Yorker to engageMR SUBLIMINAL Oh, what’s the use….

Capitol Seizure

Our Famously Free Press

“The public doesn’t understand the risks of a Trump victory. That’s the media’s fault” [Margaret Sullivan, Guardian]. “Here’s what must be hammered home: Trump cannot be re-elected if you want the United States to be a place where elections decide outcomes, where voting rights matter, and where politicians don’t baselessly prosecute their adversaries.” • No ability to self-reflect at all. I’m so old I remember when Margaret Sullivan was good (when she was Ombudsman at the Times, though I suppose by comparison….).


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Trump picks up backing from two major GOP donors” [The Hill]. “Robert Bigelow, one of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) most prominent donors, said he is switching his support from the Florida governor to Trump. Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that DeSantis is ‘not strong enough,’ nor is he the commander in chief the U.S. needs…. Top GOP donor and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus also announced his endorsement of Trump on Thursday, arguing the former president is the ‘simple choice’ in a high-stakes political world…. The support comes on the heels of the third GOP presidential primary debate, which Trump notably did not attend. Despite his absence from the past GOP debates and his ongoing legal battles, the former president continues to hold a strong lead over his rivals.”

* * *

“DeSantis grapples with what’s next after third Republican debate” [Washington Examiner]. “Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has eased the immediate pressure on his campaign with a solid performance during the third 2024 Republican debate in Miami…. DeSantis himself described his priority during the debate as “articulating [his] vision directly” to Republicans, as opposed to his opponents or the moderators. But since the first outing last August in Milwaukee, the governor’s average national primary support has remained at 14%, according to RealClearPolitics. It has similarly been static in Iowa at 17%.”

* * *

“Democrats Grow More Confident in Campaign Message, but More Nervous About Biden” [Wall Street Journal]. “A year away from the 2024 election, Democrats see trends pulling in different directions: an electorate that appears motivated to vote in their favor, particularly on abortion, but is also deeply skeptical of handing another term to the party’s standard-bearer—President Biden. … Interviews with a dozen Democratic leaders in five swing states found that they registered varying degrees of concern about the president’s ability to defeat Trump, and some questioned the wisdom of putting him forward again as their nominee. ‘It feels like he was the perfect person for 2020. But not for 2024,’ said one former Democratic state lawmaker in Michigan, a key battleground. ‘He’s a transitional president and you have to know when to transition and it is now.’… ‘The sense I get from people is that they are hoping the president will make the decision that it’s in the best interest of the country that a stronger candidate be the Democratic Party’s nominee. I don’t think anyone is prepared to push him out,’ said one DNC member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ‘At some point, he may have no choice.'” • So far, the press has not gone into full pulling-the-wings-off-flies mode with Biden. It would be very easy for them to do so.

“Elections 2023: Democrats Enjoy a Strong Night” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Last night’s results have given Democrats a shot in the arm and have confounded the recent narrative about Democrats being in deep trouble next year. But it’s also true that these races in many respects differ from the election coming up next year. It may be the case that President Biden is in fact uniquely vulnerable, and that even former President Trump — himself dragged down by plenty of vulnerabilities that likely are not getting the kind of attention now that they will if he is renominated — could beat Biden. It may also be the case that polling a year out from an election is not predictive (and it often is not). Maybe the Democrats do just have an advantage now in smaller turnout, off-year elections as their base has absorbed many higher-turnout, college-educated voters while shedding lower-turnout voters who don’t have a four-year degree. Maybe the presidential year turnout will bring out more Trump voters and give the Republicans a clearer shot. About all we feel comfortable saying is that we should continue to expect the presidential race to be close and competitive — a boring statement, we know, but probably true. One other thing before we take a quick look at some more granular results: In case it wasn’t already blindingly obvious before, the abortion issue in a post-Dobbs political environment continues to be a significant advantage for Democrats. ”

* * *

“The real reason Republicans aren’t winning swing voters” [FOX]. “Another election night in which the Republicans had to put away those champagne bottles they had on ice and keep them for perhaps another day. It wasn’t a disaster for them, but it also wasn’t the results they were expecting to hear from the voters, either. What is the message the voters are sending? A lot has been written about how the abortion issue is backfiring on the Republicans, and it is. But that’s not really the reason they are failing to win over swing voters unhappy with the economy and other issues. What voters are saying is that they want more personal freedom. Abortions over the last several decades have been greatly declining in numbers, down about two-thirds from their peak numbers. People don’t really want more abortions, as today most women have access to and use contraception — but they do want the personal freedom of having the choice of abortion — hence the very name ‘pro-choice.'” • Hmm.

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IA: “Vander Plaats Won’t Cancel Iowa Forum Despite RNC Warning” [RealClearPolitics]. “When the influential evangelical organization invited each of the 2024 GOP presidential candidates to attend its Thanksgiving forum, the Republican National Committee quietly warned the campaigns that participating in the event would disqualify them from all future sanctioned debates, RealClearPolitics was first to report. Regardless, the Iowa Family Leader doesn’t have plans to reschedule or reformat. ‘We are going to move forward with the forum,’ said Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of the organization. The issue is what exactly constitutes a debate. According to the RNC counsel, the forum is an unsanctioned debate, and participating in the event would violate the pledge candidates signed in order to participate in the sanctioned debates. According to Vander Plaats, who characterized all his conversations with the RNC as ‘amiable,’ this is nonsense. ‘First of all, this is not a debate, not even close,’ he told RCP in a Thursday morning interview, noting how his organization previously hosted primary candidates in 2012 and 2016 without incident. Rather than standing behind podiums, attendees sit around the same table. And rather than exchanging barbs, in past years, they’ve talked about their faith. The rules are simple. ‘You can’t talk negative about anybody at the table,’ he said.” • Bring a mop and bucket to clean up the smam.

VA: “How Virginia’s Elections Came Down to the Wire” [Wall Street Journal]. “[A] closer look at the returns shows that GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin performed better in state Legislature races than the headlines suggest. The Old Dominion is competitive for Republicans who aren’t in the mold of Donald Trump…. Mr. Youngkin threw his full political weight behind holding the House of Delegates and flipping the state Senate, part of why Democrats were so relieved he failed…. Of the parts of the state Donald Trump carried in 2020, Republicans outpaced ‘the former president in every district,’ as analyst Sean Trende notes. The GOP carried 13 districts won by President Biden in 2020 and seven that Democrats won in 2022 congressional races. Republicans came up short in suburban areas like Loudoun County in Northern Virginia and outside Richmond. But they did add one seat in the upper chamber for a 21-19 split. The GOP’s Danny Diggs, a longtime local sheriff, managed to defeat Democratic incumbent Senator Monty Mason in the southeastern peninsula around Williamsburg. One more seat would have given the GOP control. In Northern Virginia in Manassas, Republican Bill Woolf lost to his Democratic opponent by fewer than 2,000 votes of more than 57,000 cast—in a district Democrats carried by more than six points in last year’s congressional elections.” • This article reads like cope, an attempt to rehabilitate Youngkin for 2024. But a loss is a loss.

WV: “Why I Won’t Be Seeking Re-Election to the Senate” [Joe Manchin, Wall Street Journal]. “I will finish my term while traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is interest in building a movement to mobilize the middle, find common ground and bring Americans together.” • Hey, maybe a Phillips-Manchin ticket? Appealing to the “Exhausted Majority”? Or maybe… Manchin-Phillips? Or maybe not–

WV: “Dems’ new question for 2024: What will Manchin do?” [Axios]. “In a statement, No Labels — a well-funded organization that’s exploring a potential bipartisan presidential ticket — called Manchin a ‘tireless voice for America’s commonsense majority and a longtime ally of the No Labels movement.’ ‘Regarding our No Labels Unity presidential ticket, we are gathering input from our members across the country to understand the kind of leaders they would like to see in the White House,’ the statement said.” • Lots of good detail on those “No Labels” weasels (“Classification struggles? What classification struggles?”

WV: “Manchin Goes From Biden’s Most-Prized Democrat to Most Dangerous” [Bloomberg]. “A Manchin candidacy could capitalize on the growing number of “double haters” — voters who are dissatisfied with both Biden and Donald Trump — which now stands at 19% of the electorate in swing states, according to the Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll released Thursday. Right now, that void is being filled by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The poll shows that Kennedy’s independent campaign attracts supporters about equally from Trump and Biden supporters, owing to his family’s Democratic pedigree combined with anti-vaccine rhetoric that many Republicans find appealing. However, an independent bid by Manchin, an ex-Democrat, could damage Biden much more than Trump.” But: “Without party backing, the process to get an independent candidate on 50 state ballots — or even enough to plausibly compete in the Electoral College — can be expensive and time-consuming. And Manchin, at 76, would suffer from the same questions about age that dog Trump and Biden, the oldest presidential candidates on record.”

WV: “Joe Manchin retires, making Democrats’ brutal 2024 Senate map even more brutal” [VOX]. “Democrats currently have a 51-49 majority in the Senate, so losing Manchin’s seat would put them back to 50-50 — still enough for control if President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris win reelection. The problem is that Democrats’ 2024 Senate challenges go far beyond West Virginia. They face such a starkly unfavorable map that, if things even go somewhat poorly for the party, they could fall into a deep Senate hole for years to come. Besides Manchin, two other Democratic senators represent states Donald Trump won in 2020, and they’re also up for reelection in 2024. Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are both running again, but these are all very red states, and winning them in a presidential year will be quite difficult for Democrats. But the vulnerabilities go deeper. The only remotely close states (per presidential results) where Republicans are defending seats are Florida and Texas — two states where Democrats have had few victories in recent years. Meanwhile, Democrats are also defending seats in five states Joe Biden very narrowly won in 2020. These seats are currently held by Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).”

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.

* * *


“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!

* * *

“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.

* * *

Elite Maleficence

All part of “the urgency of normal”:

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, November 6:

Lambert here: Cases up, just in time for Thanksgiving (and tinfoil hat time: This is the, er, inflection point CDC was trying to conceal when they gave the contract to Verily and didn’t ensure a seamless transition).

Regional data:


NOTE I’m so happy to see that Biobot is back. I confess that I have not made a serious comparison of Biobot’s sample sets pre- and post-Verily. Nor to my knowledge has anyone. Readers?


NOT UPDATED From CDC, October 28:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, with FL.1.15.1 and XBB. trailing. No BA.2.86 (although that has showed up in CDC’s airport testing). Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, October 14:

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, November 4:

Lambert here: Still flattening. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator until Verily gets its house in order (and working class-centric, since I would doubt the upper crust goes to the ER).

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 November 10:

A definite decrease. Should be up in two weeks, though! (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. October 28:

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


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, November 6:

-1.4%. But bouncing around. (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, November 4:

Lambert here: Slight increase. 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, October 16:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers:

Sudden big BA.2.86 appearance. This variant chart has not been updated, which makes me wonder if CDC is gaming the data, and BA.2.86 is worse than we think.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 27:

Lambert here: Dunno why no updates. I may have to drop this one, with great reluctance; I like my sources non-CDC.

Total: 1,181,863 – 1,181,620 = 243 (243 * 365 = 88,695 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, November 10:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

The Bezzle: “What happened to Airbnb?” [Vox]. “Between mid-2021 and mid-2022, the number of new Airbnb hosts in the US jumped by over 50 percent, and the growth was biggest in small towns, says Lane. Expansion, however, hasn’t been an entirely positive change: In some cases, Airbnb has rapidly changed the character of these neighborhoods from residential areas to tourist towns. Because there are so many more listings now, Airbnb hosts say they are watching their bookings plummet. The flood of new hosts has meant fewer can earn good money. ‘Now, the markets are completely oversaturated,’ says Melody Wright, founder of mortgage strategy and technology company Huringa. Meanwhile, excess supply hasn’t led to lower prices, and anecdotes about bad Airbnb experiences keep pouring in. Some of the most vocal grievances center on cleaning fees. In the US, only 15 percent of Airbnb listings don’t have cleaning fees, and a NerdWallet analysis found that cleaning fees now make up about a quarter of the total price guests pay. Airbnb’s service fee is generally under 14 percent on top of the nightly rate, and it also takes 3 percent from most hosts. All this is encouraging a hospitality-industry doom loop: If hosts see their bookings drop, they might try to raise rates to make up for it (or at least resist lowering them), which drives guests back to hotels or the cheapest Airbnbs that tend to be run by bigger professional hosts who can afford to cut prices in ways small hosts can’t. If hosts try to lower rates to draw in more bookings, they might still be unable to turn a profit. ‘For both the guest and the host, it’s just not a good value proposition anymore,” says Wright. The only one winning, it seems, is Airbnb.'” • Sounds like enshittification….

Tech: “Restaurant Owners Are Fed Up With Reservation-Hoarding Bots” [Bloomberg]. The deck: “Platforms like Resy and Tock are searching for ways around algorithms that snatch up prime-time reservations and then re-sell them to desperate diners.”

Tech: “AI could cause ‘catastrophic’ financial crisis, says Yuval Noah Harari” [Guardian]. “‘What happens if AI is not only given greater control over the financial system of the world, but it starts creating new financial devices that only AI can understand, that no human being can understand?’ said [Yuval Noah Harari], adding that the 2007-08 financial crisis was caused by debt instruments such as collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) that few people understood and were thus inadequately regulated. ‘AI has the potential to create financial devices which are orders of magnitude more complex than CDOs. And just imagine the situation where we have a financial system that no human being is able to understand and therefore also not able to regulate,’ he said. ‘And then there is a financial crisis and nobody understands what is happening.'” • Just pull the plug and go back to paper to unwind everything… What fun!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 41 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 39 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 10 at 1:41:38 PM ET.

The Gallery

Shot (1816):

Chaser (1850):

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Carla:

Carla writes: “Monarch caterpillar on my milkweed. I’m excited!” Who would not be?

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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. Samuel Conner

    It seems to be milkweed week.

    Re: “Look for the Helpers”, are pollinators considered to be “helpers”? I get the impression that in recent years, they themselves are kind of in need of help.

    1. Randall Flagg

      For myself alone, my opinion is that the pollinators are ABSOLUTELY a helper and it’s not possible to agree more. . The dog is only that which comforts and serves us as a working animal and companion to humans. And that is important. If nothing else as a stress reliever, much like any pet in these insane times we are living in.
      Ferrets, you name it.
      We come home and they are there to greet us. They do not care that we are of any particular race or creed. Unconditional love to their owners.
      And that is different from the pollinators. Exponentially more important IMHO, IS the pollinators.
      Without them our food system is going down and then, we, as a species as well( but spoken as I am an uneducated fool, I could be way off base).

      I have always been baffled beyond belief that what appear to be such fragile creatures can be of such critical importance to humanity’s survival. Bees as well.
      We must never take for granted what these, and endless amounts of other industrious little creatures can do as part of the circle of life and our ability to survive.
      There is a beauty to them that is indescribable when watching them up close when they are collecting pollen on a flower of any kind, vegetable, fruit, you name it. All things great and small to steal a line…
      Apologies for the ramble…

  2. Pat

    My sense is that abortion is not going to be the driver in the Presidential race that it is in state races, at least for Democrats. That may prove wrong if anybody on the Supreme Court looks ready to drop, but since they have shot it back to the states not as much as in the past.
    The tribes are going to vote as they will. But will the independents that pick and choose among candidates place a priority on abortion or go long on the economy? And will they buy the fighting for you meme the Democrats cite or remember their inaction for both decades and in the weeks following the leaking of the Dobbs’ decision? And that is the point of Dobbs, it has become a state issue. What is a President Biden going to do, put in another ineffective Executive Order?

    1. griffen

      Fighting for you…Democracy…Our Democracy…Fight for Access to (this, that, or other)…Go long the popcorn cause it’s going to be a wild ride in 2024 !!

      Stack up cases of beer…not for celebration though…

    2. Lefty Godot

      I wonder if No Labels will find a way to split the difference on abortion. So their candidate, who will be splitting the difference between the right wing (Democrats) and frothing-at-the-mouth right wing (Republicans), can offer a “centrist” abortion position to go along with their other “centrist” positions.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    The liberals are all patting themselves on the back–hey, Roe v Wade was a fundraising opportunity but Dobbs is a gold rush! Yet the Manchin-a-ganza points to how weak the control of Congress is by the Democrats. Possibly deliberately, given the ever-convenient filibuster.

    Any party that just allowed its members to sanction Tlaib for expression of her legitimate viewpoint on Palestine isn’t worth much. (And if I recall correctly, Tlaib’s grandmother is still alive and living in a village in the West Bank near Jerusalem.)

    Manchin-Phillips? Why not go whole hog and give us Manchin-Lieberman? It will do wonders for the U.S. suicide rate–you won’t be able to go outside for a walk for all the people jumping out of windows from sheer exhaustion at listening to those two professional kvetches.

    Yet: Why are we even considering these non-existent candidacies? What states have No Labels on the ballot?


    Fascinating, consider how the Democrats are trying to keep the Green Party off the ballot.

    And then there’s Cenk Uygur, who can’t even run for president of the U S of A, being born in Turkey.

    It’s getting hard to separate the forest from the fantasies here. At least, Jill Stein seems to be ready for another run on the Green Party ticket, and I will vote for her again, even though we all know that she is a running dog Putin sympathizer. But she doesn’t whine like Lieberman.

    1. nippersdad

      Manchin/Lieberman is just a made to order ticket for the No Labels crowd; that seems distinctly likely. However, the electorate already has watered down mush from both legacy parties and I do not see what No Labels could add to the stew. I see a lot of corporate money spent to go nowhere with that one. Bloomberg should have been an object lesson that you cannot buy the presidency. Yet.

      I am still suspicious about Phillips. There seem to be an awful lot of rags that are suddenly interested in murmurs that only serve to keep him in the news. If there was a betting pool on that guy I would have been in on it a couple of months ago. The “come from behind candidacy” writes itself, and, as with obits, I suspect that most of it has already been written for when it becomes useful.

      Those lists of friendly journalists and outlets that the Hillary campaign compiled that came out with her e-mails is, no doubt, still around. This doesn’t look any different to me. Someone is working the refs.

  4. Matthew G. Saroff

    There are two reasons why the post Roe abortion debate matter, the first is because people support the right to an abortion.

    The second is because it has shown the American public that policy and governing can matter, and this is kryptonite to the ‘phants.

    1. Pat

      I suggest you remember that icon of women’s rights Hillary Clinton picked Tim Kaine as her running mate. Then take a stroll through Tim’s record on abortion rights. Hell take a really good look at Hillary’s record. It isn’t as bad as Tim’s but it isn’t stellar either.
      Dobb’s may have done what you said, but I think if it is kryptonite, it will prove to be bipartisan kryptonite in the end.
      If you look at the record anti abortion supporters have done a much better job of holding their elected officials feet to the fire. Time will tell, but that may have changed for abortion rights supporters. “Fighting for” and pro rights rhetoric will not be enough. They will want absolute denial of anti abortion judges (Democrats were agreeing to vote for anti abortion even as Dobbs was still new but being used to fundraise for party candidates) They will expect the passage of actual legislation that enshrines rights. Just saying the right things will not be enough to get you elected more than once.

  5. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding, “Restaurant Owners Are Fed Up With Reservation-Hoarding Bots,” the solution is easy.

    Charge a $5 or $10 reservation fee, and when the person who made the reservation shows up, refund the fee.

    People who buy from the bots lose, and the bots lose if they have reservations outstanding.

    1. notabanker

      I have a better idea. Do nothing.

      I could not care less about whiney exclusive restaurant owners in Manhattan and their clientele that obviously have more money than brains.

      These aren’t first world problems, these are delusional idiots that should be jettisoned into space problems. $325 for a dinner reservation? They deserve whatever they get.

      1. Carla

        We have a local pizza place, been in the same family for 65-70 years. Every 2-3 weeks, we treat ourselves to takeout pizza. At $22, I consider it expensive, but this ain’t your chain pizza, and it sure is yummy. I throw a salad together and call it dinner. In my experience, the pricey restaurants in our town never fail to disappoint. Simple tastes can stand one in good stead.

        1. notabanker

          NEOhio has some truly awesome family pizza businesses. I have no idea how dominos and the hut survive. Just about every neighborhood has a better local shop, there’s really no comparison.

          When I was overseas that was the one thing I really missed and could not get. Europe, Asia, UK, Africa, doesn’t matter. No one had pizza like here.

    2. flora

      Bots buying reservations to turn around and sell at a profit sounds like ticket scalping. Isn’t ticket scalping illegal in most states?

      1. Matthew G. Saroff

        Not for decades. See the Wiki.

        Even where it is illegal, the sales are technically made where it is legal.

        A quick Google shows that there are somewhere between 7 and 15 states where scalping is restricted, but the resellers (technically) operate in places where there are no restrictions.

  6. Carolinian

    Isn’t there an analysis that says the Repubs are more likely to take the Senate next year but may lose the House? So perhaps Manchin sees his influential little perch disappearing anyway.

    Some of us are just hoping we make to Nov 2024 without WW3 breaking out! Priorities.

  7. nippersdad

    I thought this was fun; apparently it is getting angsty in Congress:

    “Some Capitol Hill veterans said they’ve never seen the rancor so high within the caucus.

    “It’s hell,” said one Democratic lawmaker, who spoke anonymously to discuss a sensitive topic. “I’m really worried about the hate that I’m seeing everyplace.”

    Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a Jewish liberal who voted to censure Tlaib, echoed the concern, saying he’s now being ostracized by fellow progressives close to her.

    “It’s not healthy, it’s not mature, it’s not wise,” Cohen said. He declined to discuss specifics.”


    I have to wonder if some scales have not fallen off the eyes of the Progressive Caucus. Maybe the next time they are asked to gum up the works in order to achieve something they will actually do it.

    1. Pat

      Well the scales certainly haven’t fallen from Cohen’s eyes. Or from the eyes of my supposed Democratic representative Dan Goldman, not progressive. (I am sometimes amused by the fact that a neoliberal tool like Dan represents Greenwich Village and Chelsea considering their history. But then he does know not to cross the LGBTQ+++ issues, so I guess only the latest fights matter)

  8. notabanker

    Yes Margaret, there is a Santa Claus. And yes, what we need is more messaging pounded into the hundreds of millions of people who have been completely screwed over by American policies in the last three years.

    And thanks for letting me know that it’s Trump’s fault America now baselessly prosecutes its political adversaries.

    Bejeezus, you just can’t make this stuff up. Do they even proofread what the spooks send them to publish?

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘Jerome Adams
    The pandemic school closure debate is now often framed as being solely about the kids. However, it’s important to acknowledge that in 2020, the focus was mostly about using the kids as guinea pigs (ie subjecting them to a new virus) to achieve herd immunity + faster reopening.👇🏽’

    Saw the same here in Oz in this fanatical demand that kids had to go back to school, no matter the fact that schools were such great virus spread vectors. Down in Victoria you had this bigwig demand that all kids had to go to school which was followed a few hours later with news that another school or two had to close due to an outbreak there. I thought at the time it was just them wanting kids to go to school so that parents could go to work but am no longer so certain.

    1. JBird4049

      Bit late here, but I have to ask if any proponents of this “herd immunity” did not look at diseases like smallpox which does give you lifelong immunity, but only after killing 20% of each generation and often heavily scars, even blinds, a fair number of the survivors. Then there there is HIV/AIDS, which outside of an extremely small number of people, leaves no survivors and is incurable with the treatment only being of lifelong use of drugs to suppress the disease.

      In 2020, there really was not experience with the disease to have even a clue about the long term effects of the disease; in trying to get this herd immunity, for the corporations’ benefit, the people “running” things were risking a possible continent wide civilization ending event. Our ruling elites really are morons.

      1. Carla

        “in trying to get this herd immunity, for the corporations’ benefit, the people “running” things were risking a possible continent wide civilization ending event”

        Yeah, and the fact is, we still don’t know.

        I was the mother of a young child 5 decades ago. I can hardly even imagine what it is like to be the mother of a young child now.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “What happened to Airbnb?”

    Was reading this article and had a thought. We’ve heard that idea of ‘you will own nothing and be happy’, right? Well if that came to fruition, would that not turn all of us into Airbnb customers going from place to place? And all the problems that present Airbnb customers come across like being bumped from lists and and like would be true for all people and how can you organize a viable community with transients as members? Come to think of it, that ‘you will own nothing and be happy’article was written from the viewpoint of a future person living this lifestyle but when I think back on it, there was absolutely no sign of that person being a member of a community or group or club or anything. Not even any friends. Odd that.

  11. Donna

    I can’t resist mentioning this especially as it relates to AI playing havoc with our financial system. Just to set the stage…..my Mom was born in 1917. She was the daughter of a coal miner who was instrumental in starting the Coal Miners’ union in her western PA county. The police were vicious. They patrolled threateningly on horseback up and down in front of their house. The police were known to have killed union advocates.

    Although a lifelong Democrat, she never trusted the establishment. When her Social Security check became available through direct deposit, she refused to enroll. She endured ridicule from her husband and kids until she turned 89 and my sister took over her bookkeeping. My Dad would say why won’t you take advantage of this convenience. She would say because “I would be giving up my freedom.” My Dad would quip back…..”What freedom, the freedom to go to the bank.”

    I have been saying for quite a few years now that my Mom was right. She intuitively knew that direct deposit was a step in a very wrong direction. Love that story about my Mom. She was a very smart cookie.

  12. Jason Boxman

    Today’s must read tweet that jives well with what’s been posted at NC for ages:

    I believe Covid is the first disease in recorded human history that humans have deliberately chosen to ‘live with’. Because that’s an empty slogan, it deliberately disguises two fundamentally different meanings. /1

    We have of course had to ENDURE some diseases, because they’re hard to control, have no treatments, etc. Colds, flu, TB, cancer, malaria, heart disease etc. But we’ve constantly worked to control spread of those, and develop treatments and preventions. /2

    That’s what ‘living with’ has historically meant. Enduring something, while trying to prevent, control and treat. But the ‘living with’ slogan for Covid means something fundamentally and historically different. It means to do nothing. Just infect, repeatedly. /3

    It’s not a fight against the disease, it’s a fight against public health itself. Funded by the same vested interests who have been assaulting everything with ‘public’ in its name or with a public focus. It’s an assault upon the concept of the public itself. /4

    (bold mine)


  13. michael99

    “…the Republican National Committee quietly warned the campaigns that participating in the event would disqualify them from all future sanctioned debates.”

    I for one would be interested in seeing a debate or townhall meeting with Williamson, Stein, West, RFK Jr, and what the heck – Phillips, on TV in primetime preferably. But I suppose the DNC would use similar tactics to squelch this.

    Doesn’t matter that a significant portion of their base is interested in hearing what they have to say because that is not the direction the parties want to go in. It is telling that they feel the need to make sure these don’t happen. Perpetuates “there is no alternative”.

    In the case of the alt-Dems named above, it would be interesting to see them on stage with each other as opposed to the usual situation where there’s a pack of centrist candidates and 1 or 2 non-centrist alternatives who are treated as unserious and even ignored by the moderators.

  14. steppenwolf fetchit

    Here is an interesting post from a car-mechanic from the justrolledintotheshop subreddit, about how the problem of fake counterfeit car parts from Amazon is so pervasive as to be a real threat and a menace to people who buy them and put them into their cars. The writer suggests that for their own safety people not buy car parts through Amazon.

    Titled . . . PSA: stop buying car parts on Amazon!


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