2:00PM Water Cooler 11/2/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Plain Mountain Finch, Lokat Bangus (Little Bangus Valley), Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir, India. “Several cuts of song and one of what may be calls, or possibly another song type, from a bird perched on a medium-height spruce tree just above treeline.”

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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

“Trump sues over efforts to keep him off Michigan ballot” [The Hill]. “Former President Trump’s attorneys have filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson from refusing to put him on the ballot for the state’s 2024 presidential primary and general elections. The lawsuit was filed Monday and asks the court to affirm that Benson (D) lacks the authority to decide whether Trump can be disqualified from the ballot under an interpretation of the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit asks the court to enter an injunction stopping her from barring Trump from the ballot…. Benson has said she will not try to keep Trump off the ballot in Michigan. Trump’s attorneys said the former president has sent Benson a letter asking her to confirm him as one of the official candidates and that she has not responded to that letter.. The disagreement began after a lawsuit was filed by Free Speech for People, the same group that filed in Minnesota.”

“Minnesota justices appear skeptical that states should decide Trump’s eligibility for the ballot” [Associated Press]. “Minnesota Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical Thursday that states have the authority to block former President Donald Trump from the ballot, with some suggesting that Congress is best positioned to decide whether his role in the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol should prevent him from running. Justices sharply questioned an attorney representing Minnesota voters who had sued to keep Trump off the state ballot under the rarely used ‘insurrection’ clause of the U.S. Constitution. Citing Congress’ role in certifying presidential electors and its ability to impeach, several justices said it seemed as if questions of eligibility should be settled there. ‘And those all seem to suggest there is a fundamental role for Congress to play and not the states because of that,’ Chief Justice Natalie E. Hudson said. ‘It’s that interrelation that I think is troubling, that suggests that this is a national matter for Congress to decide.'”

“Interesting Standing Dispute in Fourteenth Amendment Section 3 Case Against Trump” [Reason]. From Castro v. Warner, a pro se Fourteenth Amendment Filing, the court writes: “In several filings, Mr. Castro has attacked the character or intelligence of opposing counsel, as well as judges and court staff. The Court’s docket is not a social media feed, and any future filing with ad hominem attacks, inappropriate statements about individuals involved in this litigation, or other snide and malicious comments will be stricken from the record.”

Biden Administration

“Israel-Gaza war: US House rejects effort to censure Rashida Tlaib” [Al Jazeera]. “The US House of Representatives has rejected an effort to censure Palestinian American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat who has been advocating for Palestinian rights amid Israel’s war on Gaza. The measure, which was introduced by far-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, was halted in a 222 to 186 vote on Wednesday, with 23 Republicans joining the Democrats in opposing it. A Democratic effort to in turn censure Greene was called off in response.”

“31 Democrats vote to keep Santos in Congress” [The Hill]. “A total of 31 Democrats joined 182 Republicans in voting to keep Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) in Congress on Wednesday, killing a Republican-led effort to oust the embattled lawmaker. The lower chamber voted 213-179-19 against a resolution to expel Santos, marking the second unsuccessful attempt this year to eject the first-term lawmaker from the House. A two-thirds threshold is needed to expel a member of Congress… The effort to oust Santos was spearheaded by a group of fellow first-term New York Republicans — led by Rep. Anthony D’Esposito — who moved last week to force a vote to expel Santos in the wake of his mounting legal battles. D’Esposito called the legislation to the floor as a privileged resolution, a procedural gambit that forces leadership to set a vote within two legislative days.” • Cf. John 8:7.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

Only four more days until a full year to election day!

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“”Your Money’s in Joe’s House”: The Biden Family’s Version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life'” [Jonathan Turley]. The headline is deceptive; it doesn’t refer to Joe Biden, but to the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Nevertheless. “What is new now, according to House Republicans, is an emerging pattern of how the Bidens turned influence-peddling into the equivalent of the family’s personal savings & loan operation. Money moving between key family members was labeled as a ‘loan’ in at least one instance, and Hunter has claimed other money as ‘loans’ — a framing that not only offered plausible deniability but non-taxable income.Two IRS whistleblowers, who testified before House investigators in July, highlighted the use of a loan allegedly to evade public disclosure and taxation. Hunter allegedly took large payments from dubious foreign sources and listed them as ‘loans,’ despite no evidence of repayment or any standard loan agreement. This month, House investigators discovered that, in 2018, the president’s brother James received two loans totaling $600,000 from Americore Health, which they described as ‘a financially distressed and failing rural hospital operator.’ According to the company’s bankruptcy proceedings, it made the loans ‘based upon representations that his last name, ‘Biden,’ could ‘open doors'” to new overseas investors. On the day he received the second loan transfer, James Biden sent a check for the same amount — $200,000 — to Joe Biden as a ‘loan reimbursement.’ Recently, the House Oversight Committee revealed that just after Joe Biden announced his 2020 presidential candidacy, Hunter Biden received a $250,000 loan from a Chinese businessman using the address of his father’s Delaware home. The generous transfer of funds was from Xiangsheng ‘Jonathan’ Li, a Chinese businessman connected to the investment fund Bohai Harvest RST. (President Biden reportedly later wrote a college-admission recommendation for Li’s daughter). What happened next was vintage Biden family: A Hollywood lawyer, who had just met Hunter at a political gathering, reportedly suddenly took over the repayment of that loan, with no explanation, and later reportedly paid for some of Hunter’s tax bills and living expenses as well. So, it appears that $250,000 went to Hunter, but the loan obligation was shifted to a Democratic political donor.” • Nice people being nice to each other!

“Arab American support for Biden, Democrats plummets over Israel, poll shows” [Reuters]. “- President Joe Biden’s support among Arab Americans, who are crucial voters in battleground election states, has plunged from a comfortable majority in 2020 to just 17%, a new poll shows, amid growing anger over the Democratic president’s support for Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Arab American support for Biden, at 59% in 2020, fell even before the outbreak of violence in the Middle East to 35%, the poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute showed, but has halved since. The poll, released Tuesday, marks the first time since its inception in 1997 that a majority of Arab Americans did not identify as Democrats – 32% now identify as Republicans and 31% as independents. Forty percent of those polled said they would vote for former President Donald Trump, the likely Republican candidate in 2024, up 5 percentage points from 2020. The poll was conducted by John Zogby Strategies of 500 Arab Americans with some answering online only. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.” • Not a superexcellent poll, but surely directionally correct.

MI: “Democrats fear that Biden’s Israel-Hamas war stance could cost him reelection in Michigan” [Associated Press]. “Michigan was a critical component of the so-called blue wall of states that includes Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that Biden returned to the Democratic column, helping him win the White House in 2020. Since then, Democrats have felt more confident about their standing in Michigan, particularly after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer notched a commanding 10-point reelection victory last year.” Whitmer, of course, had a nice little tailwind from the spooks, what with a typical FBI entrapment scheme. More: “Michigan holds the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the nation and over 310,000 residents are of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry. Many in the community are pledging to coalesce against Biden’s reelection campaign unless he calls for a ceasefire in the war. Anger over Democrats’ response to the war was on full display this past weekend in Wayne County, home to the largest bloc of Democratic votes in the state and the source of much of the pushback. A day after thousands of people gathered in downtown Detroit to call for a ceasefire, Gov. Whitmer had a Sunday appearance in Dearborn canceled after a protest was planned outside the event. Whitmer, a co-chair of Biden’s reelection campaign, said in a statement that her appearance would have ‘distracted’ from the event.”

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“Democrats quietly move to succeed Biden” [Axios]. “Democratic governors and senators are quietly moving to boost their national profiles and position themselves to run for president in 2028 — or in 2024, if President Biden unexpectedly drops out…. In recent months, more than half a dozen Democratic lawmakers have established national political organizations, embarked on resume-building foreign trips, and visited states that traditionally hold early presidential primaries.” Booker, Pritzker, Whitmer, Harris, Newsom are the big ones; Phil Murphy, Ro Khanna (see below), Mark Kelly, and Josh Shapiro are also mentioned. More: “If Biden were to leave the race before the end of this year, there likely would be time for candidates to get on enough state ballots to determine the nomination. But if he were to exit after Jan. 1, the nomination fight more likely would go to the Democrats’ convention in Chicago because candidates wouldn’t be able to get on the ballot in enough states, according to a recent analysis by the Brookings Institution’s Elaine Kamarck, who has been on the DNC’s Rules Committee since 1997. In that case, Biden likely would have some delegates and could ask them to support a candidate — but the delegates would be free to support who they want.” • Hot take, worth what you paid for it: Pritzker is the pick of the litter, even though Newsom thinks he is. UPDATE On Newsom, I got too glib, and forgot his dyslexia issues, which are serious. He may want oligarchical power as a Pacific Rim state, and not in Washington at all. Let’s wait and see.

“What happens if a presidential candidate cannot take office due to death or incapacitation before January 2025?” [Elaine Kamarck, Brookings Institution]. “The authority of the national parties to choose their nominee in the event the nominee can’t run comes as a surprise to many in this day of wall-to-wall primaries. And yet, it is a reminder that the choice of a nominee is party business — not state law, not federal law, and not constitutional law.” • Yep. For the Democrats, see NC here. Once again — and we’re seeing this come into even sharper focus with the Fourteenth Amendment controversy — control of the ballot is the distinctive competence of the modern political party.

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“Brazile pans Dean Phillips run against Biden: ‘Have fun out there'” [The Hill]. “Brazile said she wasn’t sure what Phillips’s ‘game plan’ was, noting the uphill challenge that Phillips would have in order to launch any real challenge to unseat the incumbent president. ‘This is 2023, and the last time I looked at the calendar, there are at least six states that you have to be on the ballot by the end of next month, 22 states before the end of the year. The race for delegates is not a popularity contest. It is a race where you have to actually go out and identify, recruit people,’ she said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday, where she serves as a panelist. ‘So good luck, Mr. Phillips. Have fun out there. But, guess what? I will not be seeing him in Chicago unless he’s an automatic superdelegate,’ she said, referring to the city hosting the Democratic National Convention.”

“The real threat Dean Phillips poses to Biden” [Politico]. “Even Biden’s backers in New Hampshire, where Phillips is counting on an early upset, are worried about his age. A 63 percent majority of Democratic primary voters supporting Biden in a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll last month said age was their biggest concern about the president. Already, the Minnesota congressmember is signaling this will be a central part of his argument. And he is perhaps a better messenger than Trump, who is only three years younger than Biden.” • As I said, I think “exhausted majority” isn’t a bad message–

“Minnesota’s Phillips sees ‘exhausted majority’ as his path to the White House” [MPR News]. “The kickoff has been highly orchestrated, with long-form profiles and national television interviews built in around it. Phillips is also facing scrutiny on a scale he did not receive as a congressional candidate with his finances, past comments and more under the microscope. But he does have some presidential campaign veterans surrounding him. Steve Schmidt, who helped Republican Sen. John McCain to the nomination in 2008, is a top Phillips strategist.” • Schmidt is a Lincoln Project veteran, if “veteran” is the word I want. Here is the origin of the phrase–

“The Hidden Tribes of America” (PDF) [More in Common]. Dates from 2018. Funding. From this diagram, “exhausted majority” is another way of saying [genuflects] “centrists.”

And in prose, from page 117:

America’s tribal politics, from social media trolling to debates in the halls of Congress, are repelling a majority of Americans. The Exhausted Majority is uncomfortable with the ideological conformity and the outrage culture that have taken hold in the most highly engaged tribes. Americans in the Exhausted Majority are often hesitant to weigh in for fear of saying the wrong thing. This contributes to the detachment of the 41 percent of Americans who belong to the Passive Liberal and Politically Disengaged tribes. Public issues have always engaged some individuals more strongly than others. What is striking now is the widening gulf between those who are highly engaged in America’s polarized political debates and the Exhausted Majority of Americans, who find the relentless ideological conflict dispiriting. They feel unrepresented in today’s polarized politics. The views of the Exhausted Majority are grounds for hope as well as concern. On the one hand, they reject ideological purity and recognize the necessity of compromise in politics as in all areas of life. On the other hand, their detachment (and the media’s preference for conflict) allows the opposing wings of the spectrum to dominate public debate. This contributes to the misperception that America is made up of just two groups who are hell-bent on defeating each other at all costs. A new understanding of the American political landscape is needed, one that no longer airbrushes this Exhausted Majority out of the picture, but puts them in the center.

Look, I’m exhausted because people are dropping like flies, whether from “Democrat wars” or the Biden administration’s stochastic eugenicism on Covid. But I’m not sure I’m, well, represented in this framework. (Also, I think “tribalism” isn’t sociology, even sloppy sociology; it’s just market segmentation applied to political views based on surveys; see page 5.)

“An exhausted majority in America is tired of polarization, wants those governing to seek common ground” [Cleveland.com]. From January 2023: “A term used by Rep. Tim Ryan in his Senate campaign, this majority of Americans is what we call, the ‘Exhausted Majority’— those that generally are more flexible in their political views, fed up with polarization, believe we can find common ground, and are less active in our political discourse. Nationwide, they represent two-thirds of the population, yet are not as present in our public debates. While Ryan didn’t win, there’s evidence that the ‘exhausted majority’ voice is one that we should start listening to more closely… Despite the portrayal of a “divided” nation, we don’t have to choose this story of polarization and division. But in order to do that we must resist the temptation to view our fellow Americans’ views through the narrow lens of the divisive voices we hear in our public arenas.” • From a More in Common staffer. Note that Tim Ryan had Steve Schmidt as an advisor, as does Phillips.

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“Spoiler alert? Poll has RFK Jr. grabbing 22 percent against Biden and Trump” [Politico]. “Running with a promise to ‘spoil’ the 2024 presidential contest, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just received a sign that he might be making good on that pitch: A recent poll shows him with 22 percent support in a hypothetical three-way race against President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Biden, by contrast, would take 39 percent of the vote, and Trump would come away with 36 percent, according to the Quinnipiac University’s survey. In another positive sign for Kennedy, he came away with the backing of a plurality of independents: 36 percent chose him, compared with 31 percent for Trump and 30 percent for Biden. The overall 22 percent does not suggest he can yet break through the two-party system and put his name on the Electoral College map next year as an independent. But the bigger threat his candidacy poses to Biden and Trump is the possibility of siphoning just enough votes from one of them to swing an otherwise coin-flip state in November.” • Yep. Though it’s early, I haven’t seen any evidence that RFK is concentrating on this or that swing state.

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“Backing Biden in 2024, this Democrat congressman sparks 2028 speculation” [FOX]. “‘I do whatever the president tells me when it comes to 2024 and his team,’ Khanna said during a Fox News Digital interview. ‘I’m a foot soldier when it comes to making sure he gets reelected.’ But that mission may pay dividends for Khanna in 2028, when 47-year-old politician from California may have national aspirations.”

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GA: “The Trump era has changed the politics of local elections in Georgia, a pivotal 2024 battleground” [Associated Press]. “Going into the 2024 presidential election, the dynamics in Johns Creek and other nearby Atlanta suburbs reflect how partisan and cultural divisions that intensified since Trump’s 2016 run have trickled down to local campaigns. Some activists and voters now view these nominally nonpartisan contests as critical fronts in shaping the nation’s identity. ‘People have a right to know who they’re voting for,’ said Betsy Kramer, a Republican Party volunteer who is backing [Stacy] Skinner in Johns Creek, which is about 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta in Fulton County. ‘I’m not voting for a Democrat,’ Kramer said. ‘I’m concerned that if Democrats start taking over north Fulton, the whole area is going to change dramatically.’ The suburbs of Georgia’s largest city once anchored the state’s Republican establishment. Today, they play a prime role in determining the outcomes of statewide races. In 2020, they were pivotal in Democrat Joe Biden’s close victory over Trump, the Republican incumbent, in the president election. This swath of the metro area has become more demographically and politically diverse over recent decades, with growth among Asian American, Black and Hispanic populations that help boost Democrats’ vote totals. The share of Georgia residents who identify as white and non-Hispanic fell in the most recent census to 50.1%, the lowest on record. Additionally, some Republicans who still make up north Fulton County’s electoral majority have never marched in lockstep with Trump and the tea party, a movement that opposes the Washington political establishment and espouses conservative and libertarian philosophy. In 2020, Trump underperformed historical Republican advantages in the area on his way to losing Georgia by fewer than 12,000 votes out of 5 million cast. And the region once elected Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state who bucked Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat, to the state Senate.”

VA: “Why a 2023 Virginia Election Is a Proving Ground for 2024” [Wall Street Journal]. “THE PLAINS, Va.—For clues about the strength of both parties’ messages heading into 2024, look no further than this suburban Northern Virginia enclave…. The Nov. 7 contest pits Republican Juan Pablo Segura, a 35-year-old entrepreneur, against Democrat Russet Perry, 39, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer and prosecutor.” Awesome. Another CIA Democrat. More: “The seat is key to Democrats’ bid to keep their slim edge in the 40-seat Senate, where they have squared off against Youngkin and Republicans who narrowly lead the House…. The battle for the newly drawn seat covering parts of affluent Loudoun and Fauquier counties is shaping up as the state’s most expensive Senate race this year, with more than $11 million raised through Oct. 26. If Republicans flip the Senate and hold the House, the GOP will have a trifecta with Youngkin in the governor’s office.”

VA: “Virginia’s Election Could Decide Fate of Youngkin’s Education Agenda” [The 74]. “Virginia, where Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin still has two years left in his term [is] a true battleground whose outcome could serve as a bellwether for the national mood. And in few other states have education debates played such a prominent role in recent political history…. Control over the State Assembly will be decided by just a handful of swing seats, but the range of possibilities for governance is huge. If Democrats maintain their 22-18 lead in the state Senate — and perhaps win a majority in the House of Delegates, where Republicans currently hold a four-seat edge — they will retain the ability to check Youngkin’s ambitions and escape the rightward thrust that has brought expanded school choice and anti-critical race theory legislation to states like Florida. But if the governor’s party is able to capture both chambers, he could ride his conservative record and electoral victories to an enviable perch in the Republican presidential primary.” • New source for me that quotes Emily Oster approvingly, so Handle with Care. Nonetheless, on the politics, they’re right.

Republican Funhouse

“Speaker Johnson: Decision on Biden impeachment articles coming ‘very soon'” [The Hill]. “Asked during a press conference if he believes there is enough evidence to move on articles of impeachment against Biden, Johnson said: ‘I do believe that very soon we are coming to a point of decision on it.’ He later added, ‘We’re gonna follow the evidence where it leads and we’ll see, and I’m not gonna pre-determine it this morning.’ The newly minted Speaker, who has a constitutional law background, emphasized the importance of due process.”

“Speaker Johnson taps veteran GOP operative as chief spokesperson” [Politico]. “Speaker Mike Johnson has tapped veteran Republican operative Raj Shah to build and oversee his communications operation, according to a person familiar with the move…. Shah previously spent four years as senior vice president for public affairs at Fox Corporation. Before that, he served as a top communications official in the Trump White House, and was research director at the Republican National Committee during the 2016 campaign.”

“Does New Speaker of the House Mike Johnson Have a Bank Account?’ [Daily Beast]. “Newly elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) does not have a bank account. At least, that’s what Johnson reports on years of personal financial disclosures, which date back to 2016 and reveal a financial life that, in the context of his role as a congressman and now speaker, appears extraordinarily precarious. Over the course of seven years, Johnson has never reported a checking or savings account in his name, nor in the name of his wife or any of his children, disclosures show. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have money stashed in any investments, with his latest filing—covering 2022—showing no assets whatsoever. Of course, it’s unlikely Johnson doesn’t actually have a bank account. What’s more likely is Johnson lives paycheck to paycheck—so much so that he doesn’t have enough money in his bank account to trigger the checking account disclosure rules for members of Congress.” • Speaks well of him, actually.

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

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Realignment and Legitimacy


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

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

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Censorship and Propaganda

“COVID Lockdowns Were a Giant Experiment. It Was a Failure” [New York Magazine]. • Right, that’s why 1.9 million Chinese died after Xi kowtowed to capital and abandoned Zero Covid. Oh well, they had it coming would have died anyhow.

“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

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Elite Maleficence

HICPAC is meeting today:

“Healthcare Personnel Use of N95 Respirators or Medical/ Surgical Masks for Protection Against Respiratory Infections: A Systematic Review and MetaAnalysis” (PDF) (draft) [CDC]. Weirdly, this garbage barge draft — better than a PowerPoint, at least! — has no cover sheet giving the author(s). Also, all the material that went into the creation of this draft should be public for CDC to be in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). It’s not. A cursory reading yields this footnote on page two. The text, at 1-5:

And note 2, within the 1-5 range:

Note 2 refers to the long-discredited, shamelessly tendentious, bungled, and Brownnose Institute-driven Cochrane Report. So we’re only two pages in, and we already know the unknown producers of this dreck deliverable are not only sloppy copy editors — I have helpfully highlighted the subject verb-agreement issue; one can only wonder what else is wrong — but lacking in scientific judgment (one can only hope that none of the authors were adversely affected by the superspreading event that CDC sponsored for its “infection detectives” in April).

And reading further:

At [1]: I guess we’ll have to see about that. Quoting from the JAMA article linked in yesterday’s Water Cooler: “The higher filtration efficiency of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks provides further evidence of efficacy—essentially, a dose-response association of the intervention with the outcome.” Yes, this is a community setting, but I’d be hard-pressed to see why engineering that works in a community settings doesn’t work in a hospital. Also, I note that the natural RCT mask study from BanglaDesh was excluded, given its conclusion that surgical masks were better than cloth masks; IOW, the better the engineering, the better the protection.

At [2]: Doesn’t this boil down to saying that all existing studies are enormously confounded?

I hope to have more on this emissionvile screed document over the weekend. (I remember the word “robust” from my consulting days; for deliverables, “robust” meant several honkin’ big binders. This steamer draft is clearly “robust”; it’s a ginormous Gish Gallop, and so I’ll need to find an angle of attack that a simple blogger can execute.

Instant karma:

Now, this really implies droplet tranmission, so the joke reinforces droplet dogma, but there is something delicious about HICPAC members spraying SARS-CoV-2-laded loogies in each other. No one can say they didn’t earn it!

By their fruits shall ye know them:

No filtration, very few masks.

Right now the Committee members are infecting each other at lunch:

Maybe some kind reader will take a listen…

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, October 30:

Lambert here: Cases leveling out to a high plateau wasn’t on my Bingo card. And Thanksgiving is coming up.

Regional data:


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, October 28:

Lambert here: 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 2:

Flattened, (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 30:

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, October 30:

1.3%. Increase. (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, October 28:

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 9:

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

Sudden big BA.2.86 appearance.


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: 1,181,151 – 1,180,669 = 482 (482 * 365 = 175,930 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 27:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose by 5,000 to 217,000 on the week ending October 28th, above market expectations of 210,000, to mark the highest amount of claims in nearly two months. In the meantime, continuing claims rose by 35,000 to 1,818,000 in the previous week, the highest since April and above market expectations of 1,800,000, suggesting that the unemployed are having greater difficulties finding employment. The data aligned with signals from the Federal Reserve that labor market conditions are going through some softening, despite remaining at historically tight levels.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based employers announced plans to cut 36,836 jobs in October 2023, the least in three months, and after 47,457 redundancies in September. The tech sector led all industries with 6,524 cuts, the most since May, followed by warehousing (4,138), financial companies (3,419), and insurers (2,752). ‘Job cut plans have slowed significantly since the first half of the year, and consumers have continued to spend, even in the face of high inflation. Pandemic savings and higher wages have gotten many workers through economic uncertainty,’ said Andy Challenger.”

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for manufactured goods in the US advanced 2.8 percent from the previous month to $601.5 in September 2023, the most since January 2021, more than market expectations of a 2.4 percent rise and after a 1 percent increase.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “WeWork plans to file for bankruptcy as early as next week, source says” [Reuters]. ” WeWork (WE.N) plans to file for bankruptcy as early as next week, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, as the SoftBank Group-backed company struggles with a massive debt pile and hefty losses. Shares of the flexible workspace provider fell 32% in extended trading after the Wall Street Journal first reported the news. They have fallen roughly 96% this year. New York-based WeWork is considering filing a Chapter 11 petition in New Jersey, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the matter. WeWork declined to comment. Earlier on Tuesday, WeWork said it had entered into an agreement with creditors for temporary postponement of payments for some of its debt, with the grace period nearing an end.”

Media: “US media veterans back new trading firm with financial news arm” [Financial Times]. “The business, founded by investor Nathaniel Brooks Horwitz and writer Sam Koppelman, would comprise two entities: a trading fund and a group of analysts and journalists producing stories based on publicly available material, according to several people familiar with the matter. The fund would place trades before articles were published, and then publish its research and trading thesis, they said, but would not trade on information that was not publicly available. The start-up, called Hunterbrook, had raised $10mn in seed funding and is targeting a $100mn launch for its fund, according to two people involved. ‘Watchdog’ was a name floated early on for the news arm. Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal, is acting as an adviser through his role with Outside the Box Investments, one of the company’s investors. Hunterbrook and Murray declined to comment. The venture capital arm of Emerson Collective, the philanthropic organisation run by Laurene Powell Jobs that is the majority owner of The Atlantic magazine, is also an investor. Representatives for Emerson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an early message to potential investors, seen by the Financial Times, Horwitz said the investment fund would get ‘unique access’ to articles before they are published. ‘Rather than try to predict or react to events, we time trades on news we break ourselves,’ he wrote, styling the venture as ‘the first trading fund driven by a global publication’.” • Hmm.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 2 at 1:22:25 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

As long as wint is on the Twitter:

Class Warfare

“An Epidemic of Unhappiness Is Consuming Young Americans. It Could Hobble the Economy” [Barron’s]. “In the latest research, I asked this question: Over the past 30 days, what number of those days [were] bad mental health days? If you said “every day of my life is a bad mental health day,” that’s what I call distress. In 2011, about 5% of women under age 25 reported mental distress. But by 2023, more than 10% said every day of their lives was a bad mental health day. The same thing is happening with young men. It isn’t just a young woman’s problem. Both young women and young men have seen this uptick, although for women it is worse. So far, we have seen that levels of mental distress vary especially by education—it is worse for the less-educated. At first, I thought the Covid-19 pandemic could be the cause, but it isn’t just Covid. It is clear in the data that the trend started prior to Covid. You can see that it started roughly in 2011. Covid just extended the trend.” • 2011? After it was clear Obama had taken away “hope,” perhaps. And that there would be no change. (Education is, of course, a proxy for class.)

News of the Wired

New Beatles song:

* * *

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

TH writes: “Nikon D3100; Hydrangea; Naples Island, Long Beach, California.”

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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. Wukchumni

    “The US House of Representatives has rejected an effort to censure Palestinian American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat who has been advocating for Palestinian rights amid Israel’s war on Gaza. The measure, which was introduced by far-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, was halted in a 222 to 186 vote on Wednesday, with 23 Republicans joining the Democrats in opposing it. A Democratic effort to in turn censure Greene was called off in response.”
    Speaking only for myself in these difficult times when being a Palinstinian Movement supporter is fraught with danger in that everyone was so outspoken against her last election, and we’ve had to switch over to M T-G, no mean feat and although they’re both kind of the same 1 step above trailer trash floozies, you have to respect the rank.

  2. steppenwolf fetchit

    The people and groups seeking to keep Trump off of various ballots are only doing so out of fear that he will win the election.

    The frenzy of their effort is a measure of the depth of their fear that he will win the election otherwise.

    I will not guess myself whether he could win or not. I think it is better to leave him free to run and just hope that he will lose in a real election. If he were to lose, his violent supporters would insurrectionize harder the more he lost by. It is better to get this stuff out in the open and see how a non-Trump majority ( if there is one) responds to all the TrumpANON violence to follow a Trump defeat. But since the same TrumpANONs would get just as violent if Trump were kept off of many ballots, it is better to let them be seen getting violent after a free and fair Trump defeat, if there is one.

    1. Jaime

      Growing word on the street in our upstate New York town is, if Trump isn’t allowed to run, we stop filing income taxes. Why should we hand our money to a govenment that is illigitimate?

      Everyone files a new w-4 E to exempt themselves from withholding, then just never files, or, starts accepting cash only in their businesses.

      1. fjallstrom

        The federal government isn’t dependent on taxes, it prints its own money.

        It is however dependent on the cooperation of its citizens, so such a movement might cause a mess at the IRS. But tax dodgers is a thing tax authorities in general know how to handle (make examples until cooperation is restored). For causing a more lasting mess, malicious compliance is often a more efficient tool. Then comes the hard parts of what part of the government to mess with and what the intended effect is. Clear goals is in general critical to sustain any kind of movement and avoid it just petering out.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          > The federal government isn’t dependent on taxes, it prints its own money.

          Correct. But states do not have the “power of the (printing) press”, and New York is a massive state that hosts America’s largest city (by population). Don’t discount the psychological effects of such a guerilla anti-tax effort at the state level.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Imagine the chaos if by the time of the next election. you can’t vote for Trump in Michigan – nor can you vote for Biden in Texas. Pennsylvania will not take votes for Vivek and so on for each political candidate.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        We mere citizens would all become 350 million pinballs in a game of Calvin Pinball. Or Pin Calvinball. Or whatever one wants to call it.

    3. John k

      I agree trump is awful. But it’s hard for me to see him as the lesser evil after the Ukraine disaster and now the, if anything, worse genocide.
      Not starting a war, and even trying to stop one, counts for a lot with me. In this day and age in this USA that’s a high bar.

  3. digi_owl

    The return of analog music media really do seem to solidify that my generation is nostalgic to the core. Maybe as some kind of defensive mechanism against the horrors coming towards us in the tunnel…

      1. digi_owl

        That is a particular Apple-ish phenomena. The file system on both Android and Windows can be accessed, though with ever more hoops to jump through on Android.

        Still, it did feel odd the first time i unpacked a new computer and it didn’t come with any sort of install or recovery media for the bundled software.

        And it does not help that the industry as a whole has moved to treating the OS like some CI/CD web site rather than a critical piece of complex software.

        That said, i think what is happening with WD is that any reasonably competent dumbass in Asia can order a bunch of PCBs, a bunch of raw chips from Samsung or like, and get it all soldered together and shipped of to customers.

        On a different note i keep having this itch to adopt one of them compact flash descendant formats as a modern day “floppy”, as they seem to have a bit more heft to them than the ubiquitous (spring loaded) micro-SD.

        But all that is tangential to how nostalgia filled media has become lately.

        1. fjallstrom

          On the nostalgia bit, I recently saw an image somewhere of an old floppy with a USB-port sticking out. It looked like they just put a USB-stick inside an old floppy disk.

          For those wondering: It doesn’t serve a technical purpose, it is pure nostalgia.

          1. digi_owl

            Back during early digital cameras there were adapters that could take a memory card and have transfer via a floppy drive (them old drives were really “dumb”, with the magic happening in software).

            It needed a special driver though, as effectively it told the drive to keep the RW head steady rather than move it around.

            These days there is also floppy drive emulators that fit inside a standard bay size, that allows one to insert a USB driver or card. On there one can store image files of floppies to be loaded. Originally meant to keep early computerized factory machinery going, they have also found a market with people restoring old home computers.

  4. griffen

    We Work will soon be known as “Ok Didn’t Work”…onto the scrap heap you go with Sears, with Montgomery Ward, with Woolworth’s…but those were quite the iconic American brands. We Work, not so much.

    Crystal Pepsi maybe?

  5. steppenwolf fetchit

    “31 Democrats vote to keep Santos in Congress”

    I see that some of the Democrats are still just as too-clever-by-half as they were when they got Trump nominated as per the Pied Piper Strategy.

    1. nippersdad

      Much more likely that both parties want to take the tit -for-tat that has been passing for politics now for years off the table before the upcoming elections. They only have so much bandwidth to play with, and filling it with a food fight in Congress must poll badly.

  6. Wukchumni

    Pritzker is the pick of the litter, even though Newsom thinks he is.

    I thought Newsom was the one that blew through the pick, resulting in a TKO of a youth in Asia?

  7. nippersdad

    That Kennedy could make it to 22% in what appears to me to be a news blackout on the MSM is really very impressive. He must be doing a lot over in the right-o-sphere, because, since his views on Israel became known, he is barely existent on the left. With all of the siloing going on he is doing very well for himself, and the presidential cycle for normies has not yet even begun.

    I wonder where he will be next March, when regular voters start paying attention.

    1. t

      Gotta be purely the name. I cannot imagine anyone who spent 15 minutes reading up on his last 20 years would take him any more seriously than MTG.

      1. nippersdad

        An inordinate number of his supporters appear to be the never Trumper Republicans who would normally find a Kennedy to be anathema. Rather than a Kennedy, I have been wondering if he is not more like the Teddy Roosevelt of the Bull Moose party reinvisioned. A change in paradigm rather than a longing for the past.

        1. Carolinian

          The Boomers loved them some Kennedy cult. LBJ was obsessed with the Kennedys which may be why he kept the Best and not so Brightest around.

      2. pjay

        I’ve seen a number of extended discussions by Kennedy on key topics. On some of these he sounded considerably more knowledgeable and rational than any other candidate – by far. I did take him seriously for that reason, in particular on the crucial geopolitical subjects of Ukraine and Russia, on which he seemed to improve over time.

        Unfortunately, on other subjects he has been shaky. And on the subject of Israel (and Iran) he has been, if not the *worst*, then tied for the worst with almost all the others.

        Come to think of it MTG’s statements on Ukraine have been better (from my perspective) than almost any other elected politician. So what does that say about the rest of them?

        1. pjay

          I guess this is my way of asking: do you think there are any of these politicos who we should take any more seriously than Kennedy? If so who, and why?

  8. griffen

    It’s a Wonderful Life column. If you must, one of the comments includes a hilarious alternate ending / SNL video clip with the ever reliable Dana Carvey in the role of George Bailey. Change the Potter name from the film to the Biden family and that might best sum up the situation. Grubby mitts beong to those two guys, James and Hunter, with their weasel worded emails and exchanges.

    Democrats. “Nothing to see here, just family lending money to family and making repayment of said loan.” Yeah the IRS might have a say about that if they ever, I do mean ever, get to the root cause of all these supposed (but slowly being documented) loan amounts. Come to think of it though, every week I loan my labor to my existing employer and a week later they send me the remittance. I might like this after all!

    1. Wukchumni

      Donald Junior went with a variant of the Sergeant Schultz defense yesterday, I know nothing, I see nothing, nothing!

      The Donkey Show is used to charging for admission, but not being charged for lack of admission.

      1. griffen

        Hey it’s good for the goose so it’s good for the gander. Joe Biden knows near-nothing about money or money changers (loan payment) in the temple, so why should Donald Jr or even Eric….our leaders and elite are just too much akin to the Governor William Le Petomayne…”…work work work….”

        Cynical thought I had on Trump’s valuation assumptions and such…”our Dad’s penthouse is the largest penthouse in the history of forever”…the lender shrugs shoulders and says “sure, no need to look around” and vets the loan approval. What part of “vague” and “appraisal” is not a rejoinder to a bygone era circa 2007 in southern FL or the lights of Las Vegas?

        1. Wukchumni

          Alas poor Eric has long been the 25w incandescent bulb in the overhead compartment of the family, but always looks on the bright side…

      2. The Rev Kev

        Look at the bright side. If Biden ever goes on the stand and claims to remember nothing, he can always put it down to his dementia – and people would believe him.

    2. Jen G.

      I remember Carvey as Stewart and that SNL sketch. He used it to great effect in the Reagan: Mastermind? sketch as well, when he goes to visit his old friend ‘Dutch’ Reagan in the Oval Office and notes how much he’s changed since their Hollywood days.

      I found the likening to the Biden family’s shenanigans to George Bailey odd, and agree that a comparison to Potter is more apt. Biden is certainly as hardened. When George says that the money’s in “Joe’s house,” he means that it’s all been invested in the community and building something, as in housing for regular people and the poor inhabitants of Bedford Falls, including immigrants.

      That adage of ‘greatness being thrust upon’ one comes to mind. Bailey was reluctantly forced by events to carry on his father’s life work in the Building and Loan, a man whom Potter deemed a ‘loser’ because of his generosity. Biden is no George Bailey. Apropos of the movie, the plant picture fits too: Following the famous Charleston scene at the dance in “IAWL,” Stewart steps on Donna Reed’s sash, accidentally disrobing her and she ends up hiding in a Hydrangea bush.

  9. nippersdad

    Pritzker looks like the (now routine) self funding Milburn Pennybags* for this election cycle. If there is the downturn in the economy that the FED has been looking to engineer it just won’t matter how woke he is, he will be toast. Bloomberg was an extreme example, but I don’t see Pritzker doing any better. He is going to need the kids, and the kids just aren’t going to be interested in a guy who is prolly heavily invested in their student loans.

    * https://monopoly.fandom.com/wiki/Mr._Monopoly

  10. Mark Gisleson

    Great music video/documentary today. Really got caught up in it and then at the very end came the reminders that everything The Beatles must be owned, copyrighted and tightly controlled. Fandom permitted but don’t try to put up any tribute pages or mixtapes!

  11. nippersdad

    Re: Brazile pans Dean Phillips.

    “The race for delegates is not a popularity contest. It is a race where you have to actually go out and identify, recruit people,’ she said on ABC’s ‘This Week’ on Sunday, where she serves as a panelist. ‘So good luck, Mr. Phillips. Have fun out there. But, guess what? I will not be seeing him in Chicago unless he’s an automatic superdelegate,”’

    I’m pretty sure that Dean has already identified and recruited his people, those would be the superdelegate surrogates that are getting him in the news cycle, and as an automatic superdelegate himself (he is a Congressman, after all) it would appear obvious that he already has a base that will seat him in close proximity to Donna Brazile in Chicago. That just sounds like Brazile being Brazile again, but we may have to wait for her post election book to find out what percentage of the party he has bought.

  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    I forgot to say that I added orts and scraps.

    Also, the HICPAC material is really important (unless the prospect of Covid becoming just another way for hospitals to infect people isn’t a concern).

    1. JBird4049

      Speaking with a bit of rage here…Important in that the lemmings can’t be bothered to strategically hundred dollar air cleaners in the auditorium? Or that masks are now a tribal identifier instead of as clear a public necessity as the noonday sun due to the constant tendentious, albeit ultimately suicidal, lying by such as HICPAC leaders here?

      If it is that they are still tenaciously down playing something akin to aerially transmissible AIDS and using both bureaucratic trickery and lies to hide this, thank you for going through this mockery and showing us that this is happening. Although it speaks poorly of me, and it would be an extremely uncomfortable reminder of the past, I would think it karmically just, a balancing of the scales, if they started dying from it. As it also seems to be unlikely to be stopped or reversed soon, I can dream that enough of these people will be forced to retire that other people who still care will replace them.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        If the ones who don’t mask or ventilate or take what precautions they can were to die off faster than the ones who do, then the case for Covid Caution would slowly ” make itself” as its enemies die off.
        Let’s hope this will be a case of ” funeral by funeral, science makes progress”.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > then the case for Covid Caution would slowly ” make itself” as its enemies die off.

          IMNSHO, protecting one’s self from Covid is adaptive, and the advantages, both evolutionarily in the longer term, and in terms of the accumulation of social and symbolic capital in the short term, will compound (and I mean that very literally).

          The few, the proud, the Airborne (I think “Airborne” is very good branding).

  13. petal

    Free Speech for People, according to Influence Watch, was lobbying to impeach Trump from the very day he took office. The names of these groups are killing me. They name them the complete opposite of what they are trying to do. One of the founders was Deval Patrick’s(former Gov-MA) chief legal counsel.

    These are not the actions of a party that is confident in its candidate. If you have to knock the other team’s guy out this way, and not beat him fair and square in the election, you are terrified and know you’re going to lose, and lose big. It’s like tell me you’re scared without telling me you’re scared. Like need a change of pants scared.

    1. Feral Finster

      Of course establishment types (Team D and Team R) know that Trump is likely to win in 2024. Of course they’re going to use lawfare to keep him off the ballot, in which case Muh Democracy Is Saved (by not lettering voters vote for their presumably preferred candidate).

      If the only way that they can win is by winning ugly, then they’ll try to win ugly.

  14. SD

    RE: Brazile’s “automatic superdelegate” comment

    The Democrat Party isn’t pretending–and hasn’t for a long time (at least since 2016 and probably well before that)–that it’s even trying to represent the people who have tended to vote for its candidates over the years.

    The Democrat Party is a fundraising and patronage machine with a side-hustle in not-governing. I calmed down after being a bitterly disappointed hardcore Bernie supporter in two presidential elections once I realized that.

    Pamela Paul is one of those pundits whom I mostly loathe, but she gets it mostly right today in the NYT.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The Democrat Party actually went to court a few short years ago and argued that their own organization is structured so that they don’t even have to listen to most of their own party members. So it’s more like the mafia where those running things – the mafia dons – don’t have to pay attention to all their own crooks, hustlers, scammers, pimps – nor anybody else for that matter. Only the made men – and women – have any say.

        1. fjallstrom

          As I understand the argument from the DNC lawyer, the courts has no power to force DNC (and by extension RNC) to be democratic in respect to registered voters or even to respect to their own rules and bylaws (because that would be political). It is an interesting argument, in particular the last part. What does a court do if the DNC (or RNC) elects a party chairman and some of the club members involved in the process claims that the chair was blatantly ballot stuffing and the meeting actually elected another president? Just not adjudicate the matter? Send one of the club presidents to Avignon?

          As I understand DNC and RNC they are both private clubs and the club members are what actually matters. Registered voters are supporters that can be consulted, if the club wants to. The DNC is a somewhat larger club, that had 437 members in 2016 versus RNC’s 168 in 2011 (latest numbers Wikipedia has). In theory the club members are elected, in practise this only matters when there are competing factions trying to wrestle control over the club. Witness how fast the DNC vice president Tulsi Gabbard fell from grace when she had opinions of her own but not a faction backing her up.

          So far the external relationship and internal rules. Then as in any organisation you have culture which often dictates how things are done in practise. I think this is where the DNC and RNC differs. The DNC’s internal culture has one very dominant faction and so the culture is focused on obeying and waiting for your turn. Witness how the lane was cleared for Clinton and how little it has mattered that it became public that she bought control over the club. Probably lots of talk about the importance of unity and how we all are working for the same goal. Until someone breaks the internal code, then they are anathema. Gabbard went to far. Sanders are still within the rules, though with warnings in the form of accusations about Russia when it looked like he might actually win in 2020.

          In contrast, the RNC’s culture looks adapted to handle competing factions and making them work together. And the key to that is fairly fair internal elections and decision making. You disagree, you vote, both winners and losers can accept the outcome, and you can then move forward. In such a club there are of course also limits and if you cross those you are out, but the system allows for a wider range of factions. In a way the system encourages new factions, and can thus drqaw in new participants and money.

          At least that is my view of how these critical components of the US republic is working these days.

  15. katiebird

    I am disappointed with the new Beatles song. It sounds more like something post-Beatles (which I think it is in every way) and also a dirge. It doesn’t sound Beatle-y to me. I’ve listened a couple of times and it just doesn’t click (for me.) Which is sad… I love The Beatles and want to like it.

    Signed, Bummed Out.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Well, that’s because it is. It’s based on a 1979 Lennon demo. It was supposed to be part of the ‘95 Anthology but, well, George had some choice words about it. (And was right, imnsho.)

        1. Polar Socialist

          “[family blogging] rubbish…” as told by Paul McCartney in the documentary “Mr Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO”.

          It’s not really clear from the context if George was referring to the miserable quality of the demo tape or the song itself, but given that Paul is at that point talking about how they in Beatles shot down each other’s ideas quite mercilessly, it’s likely George was talking about the song itself.

      1. pjay

        Yes. The publicity makes it sound like this wasn’t released with the Anthology because they lacked the technical capability to isolate Lennon’s voice adequately at the time. But my recollection was more along the lines of Dr. Carpenter.

    2. Angie Neer

      It’s a very simple song that could be touching, except they’ve overburdened it with a lot of “look at what we can do!” It’s like when Phil Spector applied his “wall of sound” approach to the Let It Be sessions. Too much. I can’t begrudge Paul and Ringo’s desire to collaborate one last time with their lost mates, but the song can’t sustain the weight of all the gee whiz stuff.

      1. katiebird

        That makes me wonder if Paul and Ringo should record actual Beatles songs with all the original group. I think they both sing Beatles songs in concert. So they aren’t against revisiting them.

    3. C.O.

      It has that weird, autotuned quality to it, kind of hollow-sounding, and to me the drum line seemed wrong somehow.

      Alas, I think in the end the “new song” was really about marketing – marketing was always going to play a major role, I know, but this seems more like an override of any real musicianship. The software for managing to get a clear vocal out of the old demo tape is a cautious win separately. It suggests some wonderful possibilities for restoring spoken word recordings. As I recall, there is a huge digitized collection of waxed cylinder and very early singles recordings on the Internet Archive just waiting for their chance.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “An Epidemic of Unhappiness Is Consuming Young Americans. It Could Hobble the Economy”
    I fathered a couple of unhappy Young Americans with mental health issues. Their impacts on the economy rate among the least of my concerns. Given a choice, I would be very reluctant to attempt growing up in today’s u.s. I feel increasingly fortunate to been a young adult in the 1970s and 1980s. Compared to the present it was a golden time. I remember those years as times of optimism and hope. Perhaps this was just the optimism of youth, but I doubt that. It felt as if things were getting better little-by-little. Humankind had just put footsteps and a small flag on the moon [I feel embarrassed even now that my country insisted in leaving its flag on the site of a great accomplishment by so many scientists and engineers gathered for the effort from many countries around the world]. It seemed as if Humankind need only exert the necessary effort – and there was no limit to what we might achieve. Cheap, clean, efficient fusion power would soon become available, and with enough energy and ingenuity we could do anything, fix any problem. What a change a few decades could bring.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      The Economy! The Economy! We must save the economy!

      What a family-blog shitty way to end that lede.

      People are dying! How can we stop then from dying SAVE THE ECONOMY?!!!


    2. Jason Boxman

      I even felt that way in the 90s. I didn’t realize this was the end of the golden age. Once I learned of climate I knew we were all screwed back in 2004.

  17. nippersdad

    Looking at the funding groups for More In Common, I would love to see a Venn diagram of their combined efforts. At a glance, to my undisciplined eye, they look like a Who’s Who of indoctrination organizations into the Klaus Schwab NWO; their goal appears to be putting moles into every niche everywhere. On their Wiki’s, one after the other of them extol their efforts to find carefully vetted Manchurian candidates and intern them in high corporate and government positions.


    1. Carolinian

      Had just been reading that. He evokes the time when “story” (which is to say factual information ) was all. And while he goes a bit easy on Ivy League journalists surely that’s very much part of the problem. “Nothing beats experience” is an even more relevant motto for reporters one would think.

  18. noonespecial

    Maybe file under The Bezzle?

    Not that this would surprise NC community, but my coffee doth runneth over. NC comments have objected to using the e-business site due to its ick factor.

    Surely Mr. Genius beezie is just such a damn solid bloke that his rep ought not to be hurt by these revelations.

    From Vice:


    “Newly unredacted sections of the Federal Trade Commission’s complaint against Amazon for “illegally maintaining monopoly power” show that company executives, including former CEO Jeff Bezos, knowingly made changes to the e-commerce platform that boosted profits while harming consumers and sellers, and making the site less usable. “Following directions from its founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon shifted gears so that it now litters its storefront with pay-to-play advertisements. Amazon executives internally acknowledge this creates ‘harm to consumers’ by making it ‘almost impossible for high quality, helpful organic content to win over barely relevant sponsored content.’”

    “The newly unredacted sections also contain information about Amazon’s “Project Nessie,” “When activated, this algorithm raises prices for those products and, when other stores follow suit, keeps the now-higher price in place. Amazon has deemed Project Nessie ‘an incredible success’: it has generated more than $1 billion in excess profit for Amazon…[Amazon person] states that the company claims Project Nessie is currently paused—but that in January of 2022, Herrington had asked about “turning on ‘[o]ur old friend Nessie, perhaps with some new targeting logic’ to juice profits for Amazon’s Retail arm.”

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The Hidden Tribes of America”

    I see no space there for ordinary Americans. People who just want to get on with their lives and concentrate on their friends and families, their co-workers and neighbours. People wanting to have fun, do their jobs and just wanting to have a decent decent li…

    ‘Oh no you don’t! Into that silo you go – and you stay there!’

  20. ChrisRUEcon


    > From this diagram, “exhausted majority” is another way of saying [genuflects] “centrists.”


    (via knowyourmeme)

  21. Tom Stone

    We Work is my favorite “Tech Company”, when I read the Biz plan I started giggling, then laughing out loud.
    Leasing office space long term (Using a separate LLC for each property) and subletting it short term….Dude, it’s radical, it totally revolutionizes the concept of office space!!!
    Trust me bro…

  22. Wukchumni

    S B-F is looking at potentially a century in the sin bin, guilty on all counts…

    You’d think that’d be the death knell for crypto, but Bitcoin is hanging in there close to $35k~

    1. Acacia

      BTC is up because there is once again hope that the SEC will approve a spot ETF for Bitcoin.

      I haven’t dug into this or why investors actually think this time will be different, but AFAICT that is what has juiced the price of BTC since around 10/17.

      SBF could be sent to slammer forever, but if the right kinds of ETFs are approved for BTC, the price will take off in expectation of all that institutional money pouring into those new shiny ETFs.

  23. Wukchumni

    There were strange things done in the Bahamas sun
    By the men who moil for crypto gold;
    The blockchain trails have their secret tales
    That would make your blood run cold;
    FTX investors have seen queer sights,
    But the queerest they ever did see
    Was that day on the marge of the Hudson River
    When the jury cremated Sam Bankman-Fried.

  24. Pat

    Am I the only one who looks at Johnson’s declaration that he has no bank accounts and no assets and figures there must be gigantic trust or LLC or some other financial entity under some dead relative’s name controlled by him that he isn’t acknowledging?
    Besides the fact that unlike truly poor people he should have no problem getting a bank account, financially it makes no sense not to have one. Especially if he does live very close to the bone. Cashing your check costs a significant amount, money orders cost, there is no real recourse for lost and stolen cash. Plus he has to have domiciles in two locations that he has to pay rent and utilities on. Remember sending cash is generally frowned upon.
    Now I know it was probably less ten years ago but the ADF is currently paying their general counsel almost $400,000. Even if it was only $300,000 when he held that position, he really took it in cash? No, don’t buy it.

    He is lying up the wazoo on that financial disclosure. He did something cute to avoid taxes decades ago and is still doing it. Oh sure there is some probable legal flim flam that means it isn’t perjury but it is not the truth.

    1. Wukchumni

      Fervent evangs are really into all that glitters, hell the word gold is mentioned 418 times in the bible, so they are extra fruity in that regard.

      I’m guessing most of Johnson’s assets are in something that isn’t reportable, thus there is no trail.

      1. ambrit

        Yes. He’s probably stacking gold and silver. That is classically evang.
        One clue to his ‘status’ will be who is the owner of record on the deeds to the house(s) he and family live in.

    2. kareninca

      I don’t think he’s lying. You would be surprised how destitute many ardently Christian people are. They really feel as if they have to donate whenever anyone asks them to, and to help their brother in need whenever the Lord leads them to (which is often). I know a number of such people. They themselves end up having no money at all. They trust to the Lord to help them in their own need.

      That is why I didn’t join a church until I was in my 50s. I couldn’t afford to give away that sort of money. I guess my faith was kind of weak, and it still is.

      I don’t think non-Christians can picture the mental lives of some Christians.

      (re the bank account, the article said that he could have a bank account but if it held under a certain amount of money it didn’t have to be reported as existing. He surely has a bank account, but it is nearly empty).

    3. ambrit

      Of course, he is from Louisiana, where financial “irregularities” are a way of life.
      The adventures of the late Edwin Edwards, some time Governor of the state is a teachable example.

      1. ambrit

        Give him some cred brother. He did own a big chunk of the Democrat Party for a while. That’s a lot like owning a pro sports team. Even Bush the Younger managed that trick. (We don’t see ‘Shrub’ living frugally in an old house like Truman did, do we?)

  25. Anthony K Wikrent

    And who was the ‘exhausted majority’ in the late 1850s? Didn’t they think at the time the abolitionists were dangerous lunatics?

    As Stirling Newberry posted about ten years ago, regarding the (anti)Republicans then; “There is no compromise with crazy.”

    1. ambrit

      Systemically speaking, the Abolitionists were the “crazies.” They ended up fomenting a massive Civil War that ended with the Proto Plutocrats in the ascendant. The American War Between the States was a paradigm shift for Western culture.
      It took England decades to abolish slavery. America managed it in five.

  26. skippy

    Fun and Games ….

    People in my comments are saying this is like Call of Duty, but it’s not a game, Israel isn’t prepared for Vietnam!


    So just like with the Ukraine “some think[tm]” that you can force your political outcomes on others via some whizzbang gear and some training videos/practice in a safe zone … lmmao …

    Going into Gaza is like walking into a saloon of people you have done everything possible to piss off for years, all by yourself, after saying your going to burn it down, and everyone is carrying. How many angles can you cover 360 degrees, up and down, people popping out of holes via tunnels, and air support is moot because it would have to be danger close.

    Just the fact that bloke was able to run up to a tank and place a device on it and beat feet without any infantry support or response from the tank company is hilarious because they are all buttoned up. Then when the device goes off all the dust it kicks up blinds them to the bloke with the triple RPG. Although it sounds like he tried to fire it and forgot to take off the safety …. lmmao …

  27. The Rev Kev

    ‘without any infantry support’

    Saw that video earlier today but missed that. You’re right. Did they really send in tanks without infantry support? Don’t wanna do that. Some crazy sob might run up and plant a explosive device of your tank.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I believe the infantry support is staying inside their equally blind armored personnel carriers to avoid being hit by bullets or fragments from grenades and rockets.

      Or maybe the infantry had passed the tunnels already, were pinned down and the tanks were rushing to help them?

  28. ashley

    re: ““The Hidden Tribes of America” (PDF) [More in Common]. Dates from 2018. Funding. From this diagram, “exhausted majority” is another way of saying [genuflects] “centrists.””

    coming in as a far far far far farrrrrrr leftist who is visibly queer and wants billionaires heads on spikes and the overthrow of capitalism i am obviously not represented on this chart. but my two cents about who makes up the ‘exhausted majority’ and what they would support:

    1. they wanna keep capitalism but put a few moderate milquetoast reforms to it so its ever so slightly less dystopian. they lack any imagination of a system outside of what they know, and for much of the country it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of the economic system that is going to cause the end of the world. capitalism is seen as a ‘natural law’ as much as gravity is a ‘natural law.’ (and to be fair, we have gone through 100+ years of brainwashing to consider any other system of economics as inferior) The most revolutionary reform they might try is medicare for all, with kickbacks to the insurance companies and big pharma. a slightly better obamacare. (i on the other hand want full socialization/nationalization of the health system, which will never happen unless our democracy becomes an actual democracy)

    2. they dont really want war, but they also dont wanna leave ukrainians or israelis hanging so they support at minimum arms shipments (don’t get me started about how ukraine has a right to defend itself from a larger oppressor but palestine does not – ideological consistency is not the strong suit of the ‘exhausted majority’). they dont really think much about imperialism because by living inside the imperial core it doesnt really affect them. (IMO we’ve been fucking around since inception and were about to find out how much the rest of the world fucking hates american hegemony)

    3. they dont care about religious people or the religions they follow and believe in religious freedom – especially from religion, but they dont want religion dictating policy. theyre afraid of the white christian nationalists aka far right and rightfully so (im in full agreement with them on that).

    4. they believe in a women’s right to choose abortion, sometimes with caveats (not after x weeks, only in cases of rape/incest/threat to mother or baby’s life, etc) – i think this combined with the overstepping of the religious right is going to lead to some blowback against conservatives.

    5. they dont mind LGBTQ people nor care about gay marriage, but theyre uncomfortable with trans kids (mostly due to mis/disinformation regarding their medical treatment) and especially uncomfortable with trans women in women’s sports (despite not giving a damn about womens sports until trans women showed up). even more so uncomfortable that they feel they cant talk about the subject without walking on eggshells (despite being queer myself, i sympathize with the current political/social environment leading to self censorship and am not a fan of it – these a big complicated topics and it serves no one that we cant talk about it unless we are fully in support of or fully against trans people)

    6. they believe that we have racism in our history, and even in a our present day, but there isn’t racism hiding behind every shadow like activists make it out to be

    7. they support police reforms, but do not support ‘defund the police’ – i think they would sooner support the end of qualified immunity over the end of cash bail.

    8. they see a rise in crime (whether or not there actually is a rise in crime is irrelevant, feelings matter more than facts) and theyre scared. theyre scared of all the homeless and mentally ill people and want a solution for it… such as throwing them all in mental institutions. they do not see the connection between late stage capitalism and the rise of mentally ill and homeless people, which is why they only support only the most milquetoast reforms on the system. republicans are gonna go hard on this one, and make it seem like ‘crazy liberals’ are the fault of a perceived increase in crime.

    9. nearly everybody – especially those under 40! – are under immense stress as the cost of living goes higher and higher, housing unavailable and unaffordable, and it seems like absolutely nobody gives a damn about the bottom 90% of this country. the talk of the elites about how the economy is booming a fucking slap to the face. yeah, rich peoples yacht money is booming. thanks to our labor that we are improperly compensated for! i actually think this last tidbit is whats going to give the republicans the presidency – when democrats tell us everything is fine and we are crazy, we dont take that very well!

    10. climate change is here, it is obvious, it is destructive, it is terrifying, and not a single politician has any kind of meaningful solution, or is outright in complete denial that it is happening at all. its either electric cars for the managerial class or drill baby drill. neither solve the problem and actively make it worse. meanwhile, whole communities are being wiped out by floods, fires, stronger storms, etc. insurance companies are pulling out of the hardest hit areas and nobody in power seems to give a damn, and the effects are going to exponentially get worse.

    11. the push for back to the office for the laptop class, and the engineered recession on behalf of the fed are going to backfire immensely. its really obvious that the powers that be want to maintain their power at all costs, including propping up the commercial real estate bubble that is going to pop any day now.

    12. student loans – two entire generations just got completely and utterly fucked over and these ghouls expect us to vote for them? lmfao, get fucked biden. every single left leaning person i know (i am by far the most radical but capitalism-induced trauma has that effect) is pissed at bidens bullshit bait and switch on the loans. this is the ghoul who introduced legislation back when he was senator mastercard to prevent student loan discharge in bankruptcy so i dont know why anyone is surprised, but thats what happens when most of the electorate is comprised of idiots at best. i have friends – both approximately 30, married straight couple. husband is a computer scientist, wife is in nursing and going for a terminal degree in her field. both are making probably around 100k each and live in a comparatively lower cost of living area and own a modest starter home that they bought just before the insanity of 2020. they’ve been trying for a baby and just recently got the good news. now that the student loans are coming back on, husband took a night job stacking shelves at best buy and wife is taking on extra nursing shifts despite being pregnant! and already working full time in a high level position at an ivy league hospital because their student loan payments are about $3000 a month. these people are the perfect couple, did everything right, literally everything, and theyre taking on second jobs just to survive!!!

    and the democrats think the economy is better than ever? fuck them. i fucking hate them so fucking much. at least the republicans dont play pretend games and are proudly assholes carrying water for the wealthy.

    if you read this long diatribe all the way to the end, thank you. i feel so completely utterly silenced in this world since ive been banned from social media and ostracized in real life for my far left anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist views.

  29. David Beckemeyer

    The “The Hidden Tribes of America” definition of “exhausted majority” is another way of saying “centrists” but I think it goes beyond that. From experience hearing from listeners of my “Outrage Overload” podcast, there are those that identify with an “exhausted majority” who are not necessarily “centrist” by these assessments. I think there are lot of people frustrated by these labels and designations in general but they agree on being exhausted by the constant stream of outrage, fear, and anger messaging

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