2:00PM Water Cooler 11/28/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Screamer, Ciénaga la Coroza, Córdoba, Colombia. “Duet.”

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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 Supremes

“Supreme Court to consider multi-pronged constitutional attack on SEC” [SCOTUSblog]. “The argument on Wednesday in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Jarkesy will present a remarkable spectacle of three entirely distinct constitutional challenges to wholly disparate attributes of the SEC. Ordinarily, the ability of the justices to control their docket would allow them to wait on each question for the development of a circuit conflict and select a suitable case in which to resolve each issue. But in this case a bold (I did not say “rogue”) panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit accepted all three arguments and invalidated three aspects of the SEC’s operations. To leave the decision unreviewed would force Congress to revise substantially the affected portions of the securities laws solely based on the opinion of one divided lower court panel – hence, the Supreme Court’s buffet of constitutional law topics on Wednesday morning…. The first question before the justices is whether Congress constitutionally authorized the agency to adjudicate administrative proceedings that impose monetary penalties. That raises a question under the court’s deeply fraught doctrine of “public rights,” which offers an exception to the Seventh Amendment jury trial requirement. …. The second question is whether Congress can delegate to the SEC the power to decide whether a case should be pursued as an administrative proceeding or as a civil enforcement action – that is, within the agency or in a federal district court. … The third question in the case is whether the Constitution allows Congress to give the SEC’s administrative law judges protection from removal.”

“Supreme Court to consider ‘quadrillion-dollar question’ in major tax case” [The Hill]. “At issue in Moore v. United States is the question of whether the federal government can tax certain types of “unrealized” gains, which are property like stocks or bonds that people own but from which they haven’t directly recouped the value, so they don’t have direct access to the money that the property is worth…. Even if the court limits the scope of its decision to the specific tax referenced in the case, known as the mandatory repatriation tax, a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs could cost $340 billion over the next decade, according to the Justice Department…. Critics of a blanket constitutional requirement for realization say the idea is trumped up, and it’s really just about the timing of when an asset is allowed to be taxed for accounting purposes. They point to a 1940 decision in Helvering v. Horst finding that ‘the rule that income is not taxable until realized has never been taken to mean that the taxpayer … can escape taxation because he has not himself received payment of it from his obligor.’ This is because the taxpayer ‘has fully enjoyed the benefit of the economic gain represented by his right to receive income,’ the court found. As such, the requirement was considered to be ‘founded on administrative convenience’ and ‘not one of exemption from taxation.'”


Less than a year to go!

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“How to Watch the DeSantis-Newsom Debate” [New York Times]. Moderated by Hannity. “Fox News will host a 90-minute debate between Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday…. Mr. DeSantis is facing an intensifying race as he pushes for a strong showing in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses in January….. He is facing Mr. Newsom, who has been a key ally of President Biden’s and a leading voice of the national Democratic Party. Mr. Newsom has gathered the kind of national support and connections with donors that would place him in a strong position for a future presidential run…. [T]he unusual spectacle reflects the current state of the presidential campaign: Mr. DeSantis has been slowly losing momentum and needs a jolt. Mr. Newsom has also been eager to further raise his national profile, and Mr. Biden needs powerful surrogates who can help make the case for a second term.” • “Spectacle.”

“The Memo: Newsom and DeSantis prepare to square off for Fox debate” [The Hill]. “For DeSantis, it is a rare opportunity to command center stage without anyone else stealing his thunder…. Newsom, for his part, is clearly positioning himself as a national figure within the Democratic Party. He has tamped down speculation that he would challenge President Biden for the nomination this year. But he would still be one of the most obvious alternatives if any serious mishap occurred for the 81-year-old Biden and, even if that does not happen, he has established himself as a top-tier candidate for the future. Adding an extra frisson to Thursday evening’s clash is the perception that the two men truly don’t like each other.” • Well, I truly don’t like either of them, too. I assume Newsom has his talking points ready, but it will be interesting to see what DeSantis’s oppo team comes up with. Also, “serious mishap”? As opposed to an unserious one?

“DeSantis v Newsom: the presidential match-up that isn’t” [The Economist]. “Picture it: two of America’s most powerful governors take the debate stage. One is sporting copious amounts of hair gel. The other may, or may not, be wearing lifted boots to appear taller…. In another universe this could have been a prime-time debate during the 2024 presidential campaign. Instead, Messrs DeSantis and Newsom will face off on Fox News on November 30th for reasons unclear even to the governors themselves. During an interview last month in Los Angeles, your correspondent asked Mr Newsom why Americans should watch a debate between one (floundering) presidential candidate, and a governor who is not (currently) running for anything. ‘I don’t know they should,’ he replied merrily.”

“Is Gov. Newsom losing political momentum as debate with Gov. DeSantis nears?” [Orlando Sentinel]. “Gavin Newsom is still a rising political star, but his path to national prominence has gotten rocky as he heads into his debate Thursday with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. His approval rating has sunk. He faces questions about his trip to China and the collapse of a major freeway in downtown Los Angeles. He angered longtime labor supporters by vetoing two bills they wanted, including one that would have provided strike benefits to jobless workers. When the idea of a Newsom-DeSantis debate was floated earlier this year, it promised an unfiltered look at two political up-and-comers who may someday compete for the presidency. It still has that potential, but the stars are not as bright.”

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“Not Only Can Trump Win, Right Now He’s the Favorite To Win” [Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics]. “As of this writing, Trump leads Biden by 2.6 percentage points nationally in the RealClearPolitics Average. This is Trump’s largest lead in the RCP average to date. Not for 2024, mind you. Ever. Let’s put this in perspective. In 2016, Trump led Hillary Clinton for all of five days in the national RCP Average, each of those days in the immediate aftermath of the Republican convention. He led in 29 polls taken over the course of the entire campaign, 10 of which are recorded in the RCP averages as Los Angeles Times/USC tracking polls. In 2020, Trump never led Biden in the national RCP Average. He briefly closed to within four points in early January of 2020, but that is it. He led in five polls all cycle. So, counting the L.A. Times tracker as a single poll, Trump led in a total of 24 national polls. This cycle? He’s led in that many since mid-September. He’s led in more polls in the past three weeks than he did against Biden in all of 2019-2020. You may be thinking that we don’t elect our president via the popular vote, but rather do so through the Electoral College. This is, of course, true. It also makes Trump’s current position in the polls all the more striking. After all, Trump has consistently outperformed his polling, and his Electoral College positioning has consistently been stronger than his national positioning.” • Check the post for state data: MI, PA, WI, FL, AZ, GA, OH.

“The final countdown: Trump holds commanding lead over DeSantis, Haley, with 50 days until Iowa caucuses” [FOX]. “While Trump has held nearly 20 events in Iowa this year, the Florida governor has made roughly 130 stops, with many of those hosted by the DeSantis-aligned super PAC Never Back Down. Additionally, the super PAC has spent millions to put together a formidable ground game in Iowa. DeSantis also grabbed the high-profile endorsement earlier this month of Gov. Kim Reynolds, who remains very popular with Iowa Republicans. Last week, he won the backing of Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of The Family Leader, an influential social conservative organization in a state where evangelical voters play an outsized role in Republican politics…. However, what once appeared to be a two-candidate fight for the GOP nomination is now a three-way battle.. Haley, who has enjoyed momentum in the polls in recent months, thanks in part to well-received performances in the first three GOP presidential primary debates, has leapfrogged DeSantis for second place in New Hampshire – which holds the first primary and votes second in the Republican nominating schedule – and her home state – which holds the first southern contest. Now, she aims to make a fight of it in Iowa, where she is pulling even with DeSantis in some of the latest polls.” • Fifty shopping days until Iowa….

IA: “Top evangelical says ‘Iowa will rise up’ against Trump” [The Hill]. • After Trump’s judges nuked Roe. Why, the ingratitude! One would, after all, expect a good Christian to stay bought….

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“Trading on the family name: Don’t forget about Frank Biden” [Washington Times]. “What’s in a name? That depends on who you ask – some names are more valuable than others. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is asking President Biden whether his is worth $200,000 (or was in 2018, before inflation spiked). That was the amount of a check the president’s brother James wrote to Joe ostensibly as a ‘loan repayment.’ Mr. Comer wants to know the details because there’s no record of such a loan elsewhere in the president’s documents. It seems like a worthy question, given the allegations of Hunter Biden repeatedly using the family name to land lucrative sinecures at Ukrainian and Chinese energy companies – ‘10% for the Big Buy’ and all that. There aren’t too many families with $200,000 checks circulating, let alone life-long public servants in a position to make that kind of loan. While he’s at it, Chairman Comer shouldn’t neglect the other Biden brother. Frank Biden is a serial name-trader, going back at least to when he was a Florida real estate developer, and Joe was U.S. vice president. Since 2018, Frank has been a non-attorney senior adviser at the Berman Law Group, a Boca Raton, Florida law firm. On Jan. 20, 2021, the day of his brother’s presidential inauguration, Frank placed an ad in Florida’s Daily Business Review. As CNBC reported at the time, ‘The ad focuses on a lawsuit the firm is leading against a group of Florida sugar cane companies. It features a photo of Frank Biden, along with quotes regarding his relationship with the incoming president and the family name.'” • Just cheesy. The sheer grime and pettiness of the grift.

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“Dean Phillips says ‘it’s delusional’ to think Biden can beat Trump” [The Hill]. “Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) on Saturday criticized President Biden for his recent poll numbers, arguing it’s “delusional” to think he could overtake former President Trump in a rematch. ‘As a member of House Democratic Leadership, I supported and promoted the Biden agenda, Phillips wrote Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. ‘I campaigned for him, voted for him, and respect him.’ ‘But how can anyone read this and conclude he’s positioned to defeat Donald Trump?’ he added, sharing an article from Politico centered on Biden’s fall in approval ratings. ‘It’s delusional.’ The Politico analysis piece noted that in survey results from 13 separate pollsters in November alone, the president’s position had fallen in all but two of them.” • More from Phillips:

Oh, Dean. It’s gonna take more than that:

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“Manchin 2024 chatter puts spotlight on No Labels” [The Hill]. “The efforts of No Labels to organize a third-party ticket in 2024 got a potential boost with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) flirtation with a potential presidential bid…. Manchin’s talk of a possible White House run has put the spotlight on No Labels, a self-described “national movement of commonsense Americans” that is viewed as perhaps the most likely outlet for a third-party candidate to get on the ballot next year. The senator earlier this year attended a No Labels town hall event in New Hampshire along with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R).” Now comes the important part: “While Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West have separately launched independent presidential bids, it is unclear whether they will get on the ballot in enough states to significantly affect the 2024 race. No Labels, meanwhile, has already gained ballot access in 12 states. Clancy said the group is on track to be on the ballot or active in 27 states by the end of the year. The goal is to be on the ballot in 34 states by the spring, and Clancy noted the remaining 16 either require a named candidate to gain access or require less administrative work to get on the ballot and could be handled by an eventual ticket. No Labels expects to decide ‘sometime after March 15’ about whether to offer its ballot line to a ticket and who would be on a theoretical lineup.” • Manchin running for President is the stupidest idea I’ve heard in a long time, so I guess the chances are good it will happen. (I do think that there are plenty of people who seeing “No Labels” on the ballot would vote for that party on the name alone, a clever tactic.

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“Charles Koch’s anti-Trump group endorses Nikki Haley in Republican primary” [ABC]. “[Americans for Prosperity Action, the] Koch-backed group stayed out of the 2016 and 2020 presidential cycles but has significant resources to try and boost Haley’s campaign, though AFP Action is so far staying mum on how much it plans to spend. The group reported raising more than $70 million in its last public filing, in June, with $25 million coming from Koch himself and another $25 million from one of his nonprofit groups… AFP Action thinks it can make a difference: ABC News reviewed several internal memos, based on the organization’s polling and door-knocking operations in early states, suggesting that about four in 10 GOP voters in Iowa and New Hampshire say the primary campaign ‘hasn’t begun’ or has ‘just started.’ AFP Action also believes that three in four Republicans are open to a Trump alternative if they think that person has a better chance of winning.”

“How Haley’s Hawks Brought Carnage to Ukraine” [The American Conservative]. “[T]he ‘responsible people’ are determined to maintain their perches of responsibility—which is to say, their power. On the right, this means a concerted push to manufacture enthusiasm for Nikki Haley’s challenge to Donald Trump in the GOP primary. A $1,000-per-ticket fundraiser for Haley on Nov. 13, previously unreported elsewhere, opened a revealing window onto this effort…. The host committee was a who’s who of the sorts of “responsible people” who plunged the United States into two fruitless wars in the two decades after 9/11 and/or served as hired guns for various foreign regimes and companies.” • The list is not actually that impressive, since most of the above-baseline hawks are in the Biden administration (Nuland et al.).

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“The Mind-Bending Politics of RFK Jr.’s Spoiler Campaign” [Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine]. “At this point, all that’s clear is that no one has any idea what will happen between now and November 2024 or how to respond to the threat Kennedy poses to the Biden-Trump binary. As it is, Kennedy is in some cases polling not far behind either likely major-party nominee and in all cases polling well enough that, were the election held today, his presence in the race would define what the next chapter of American history looks like. As he put it, ‘My intention is to spoil it for both of them.’… His supporters are ‘moderate and thoughtful,’ ‘critical thinkers,’ ‘people who are willing to question orthodoxy and people who are fed up with ideological orthodoxy,; Kennedy told me. ;We have a lot of antiwar people who were traditionally left-wing Democrats, but I’d say the major portion is really in the middle, and they tend to be people who listen to podcasts, to longform interviews, which is a form that I think is really sympathetic to me.’ He added, ‘It’s like a big version of the Milgram experiment,’ by which he means that they represent the 35 percent of participants in the famous study who refused to press the button to zap others with lethal voltages of electric shocks.” • Well worth a read.

RFK on the spooks:

Notice that Carlson, very gently, pushes back.

“Robert Kennedy Jr. counts on youth in push to get on all 50 state ballots” [Washington Times]. “Mr. Kennedy’s next event takes place in Utah [see below] on Thursday, and his choice of location is of note. He’ll host his rally at Sky SLC — a spacious, open-air, three-level Salt Lake City nightclub and concert venue with a retractable glass roof, VIP suites, high-tech lighting and state of the art sound. The site can accommodate 1,000 people…. ‘We have a robust ballot-access team and RFK Jr.’s name will be on the ballot in all 50 states,’ said Stefanie Spear, press secretary for the Kennedy campaign. ‘We have begun signature collection in open states and are confident Mr. Kennedy will get the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the White House,’ she said.”

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“The philosopher-in-chief” [Deseret News]. “There’s no presidential candidate quite like Dr. Cornel West. He’s a public philosopher, not a politician; he’s more inclined to speak of America’s challenges as moral conundrums than as policy failures. Instead of citing Washington and Jefferson on the stump, he quotes Stevie Wonder and Duke Ellington. And instead of strategically launching the first in-person rally of his campaign in Pennsylvania or Georgia or any other number of 2024 swing states, West touched down in Salt Lake City Monday night, on the eve of the city’s mayoral election. The reason, West told a crowd of of about 200 at the University of Utah’s student union, is simple: the city is about to choose its mayor by ranked choice voting for the first time, a victory for democracy, per West’s view. He’d also come to endorse Michael Valentine, a 35-year-old activist facing off against an incumbent, Erin Mendenhall, and one of her predecessors, Rocky Anderson — each vying to become the leader of Utah’s most progressive city. It didn’t hurt, either, that Utah’s relatively lax rules to get on a presidential ballot — you just need to get the requisite signatures and pay a fee — bode well for West. ‘As you all know, we’re focusing on ballot access,’ West said. ‘Utah is going to be the No. 1 state in my campaign that will put me on the ballot.’ The crowd cheered.” Also: “‘I think there’s a very good chance (Biden) may not even be the candidate,’ West told me. ‘I think there’s a good chance he’ll run out of gas, and there’s a chance Trump might end up in jail.'” • So, in the stability v. volatility dichotomy, West is a volatilist (as am I).

“Gabor Maté and Cornel West on Gaza and the Human Soul” (video) [Useful Idiots, YouTube].

“Cornel West hits Sanders for not calling for cease-fire in Gaza: ‘Pretty pathetic'” [The Hill]. • He’s not wrong.

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Republican Funhouse

“Donations to GOP drop as worries mount about the party’s finances” [WaPo]. “The Republican Party’s finances are increasingly worrisome to party members, advisers to former president Donald Trump, and other operatives involved in the 2024 election effort, according to 10 people familiar with the matter. The Republican National Committee disclosed that it had $9.1 million in cash on hand as of Oct. 30, the lowest amount for the RNC in any Federal Election Commission report since February 2015. That compares with about $20 million at the same point in the 2016 election cycle and about $61 million four years ago, when Trump was in the White House. The Democratic National Committee reported having $17.7 million as of Oct. 30, almost twice as much as the Republican Party, with one year before the election…. Donors have not cut as many large checks to the RNC in recent years, and the party’s small-dollar program has also suffered, according to people familiar with the party’s finances, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal party details. Some donors aren’t giving to the RNC because they think that will help Trump, which they don’t want to do, these people said, while others have said they prefer to wait until 2024 to give. Some have grown frustrated with the party’s leadership, people close to major donors said…. An RNC spokeswoman said the party has nonetheless deployed staff in 15 swing states to start working on get-out-the-vote efforts and election monitoring. The party is also pursuing 70 lawsuits in 19 states challenging voting rules and is encouraging Republicans to use early voting and mail ballots — methods Trump and his allies have disparaged, even as RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel repeatedly touts the importance of the ‘Bank Your Vote’ initiative. All federal party committees — Democratic and Republican — have seen downturns in revenue since 2021, a trend that operatives usually attribute to inflation and donor fatigue.” • “Donor fatigue” reminds me of another catchphrase that occupies the space analysis should: “immunity debt.”

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.

* * *

“A Revisionist History Of Cuomogate” [Lever News (Bob)]. “As the pandemic began, Cuomo passed a budget that included a little-noticed provision giving nursing home and hospital executives sweeping immunity from liability for ‘any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of arranging for or providing health care services’ to address the COVID-19 outbreak…. A report by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) found that the immunity provisions ‘can provide financial incentives to for-profit nursing home operators to put residents at risk of harm by refraining from investing public funds to obtain sufficient staffing to meet residents’ care needs, to purchase sufficient [personal protective equipment] for staff, and to provide effective training to staff to comply with infection control protocols during pandemics and other public health emergencies.’…. A few days after Cuomo’s resignation, new Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) released a report admitting that 12,000 more New York state residents had died of COVID-19 than Cuomo’s administration had reported. About a quarter of those dead were nursing home residents.” • Stochastic eugenicism.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why the ‘Ruling Class’ Need Not Rule: Nicos Poulantzas and the Marxist Theory of the State [Cosmonaut]. This is long, and as Yves would say, meaty. But some serious thinking going on (though “Althusser” is a trigger word for me). “Unlike the feudal system, where economic exploitation is explicitly political, the capitalist state uniquely has relative autonomy from the economy and its dominant classes. This relative separation between the economic and the political is conjoined with the state’s new impersonal form of legitimacy based on ‘the will of the people’ as opposed to the divine right, allowing it to present itself as representative of the ‘nation’s general interests’ and its laws take a seemingly ‘neutral’ character. This obscures the class relations of the depoliticized capitalist ‘economy’ which reproduces a division between those who live off manual labor, ‘intellectual labor,’ and owners of capital who profit from it. From the very start, this division of labor (for the most part) effectively excludes the vast majority of powerless wage laborers from partaking in the ruling of the state, the creation of its laws, the enforcement of those laws, and the production of ideology and established ‘knowledge’ that rationalizes this process. These ‘objective structures’ of the capitalist mode of production that constitute what Poulantzas calls the ‘institutional materiality’ of the state will be further elaborated upon with other components of his theory throughout this essay. Thus, an inherent class bias is built into the system that is ideologically veiled by the state’s neutral status as a guarantor of the nation’s ‘public interest’ and its legal atomization of classes into individual ‘citizens’ with formally equal rights.” And: “Poulantzas asserts that even if there is a shift in class composition within state apparatuses in favor of the popular classes, ‘the state tends sooner or later to re-establish the relationship of forces in favor of the bourgeoisie, sometimes in a new form.'” • See, e.g., the Powell Memo.

“Why America Abandoned the Greatest Economy in History” [Rogé Karma, The Atlantic]. “Why did America abandon the New Deal so decisively? And why did so many voters and politicians embrace the free-market consensus that replaced it?…. Three main theories have emerged, each with its own account of how we got here and what it might take to change course. One theory holds that the story is fundamentally about the white backlash to civil-rights legislation. Another pins more blame on the Democratic Party’s cultural elitism. And the third focuses on the role of global crises beyond any political party’s control. Each theory is incomplete on its own.” Oddly, no mention of the neoliberal turn coincident with the Powell memo.” Fast forward: “Today, we seem to be living through another inflection point in American politics—one that in some ways resembles the ’60s and ’70s. Then and now, previously durable coalitions collapsed, new issues surged to the fore, and policies once considered radical became mainstream. Political leaders in both parties no longer feel the same need to bow at the altar of free markets and small government. But, also like the ’70s, the current moment is defined by a sense of unresolved contestation. Although many old ideas have lost their hold, they have yet to be replaced by a new economic consensus. The old order is crumbling, but a new one has yet to be born.” Oblique Gramsci reference? More: “Since taking office, President Joe Biden has pursued an ambitious policy agenda designed to transform the U.S. economy and taken overt shots at Reagan’s legacy. ‘Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore,’ Biden quipped in 2020. Yet an economic paradigm is only as strong as the political coalition that backs it. Unlike Nixon, Biden has not figured out how to cleave apart his opponents’ coalition. And unlike Reagan, he hasn’t hit upon the kind of grand political narrative needed to forge a new one. Current polling suggests that he may struggle to win reelection. Meanwhile, the Republican Party struggles to muster any coherent economic agenda. A handful of Republican senators, including J. D. Vance, Marco Rubio, and Josh Hawley, have embraced economic populism to some degree, but they remain a minority within their party.” • This field does seem a bit more dynamic than foreign policy and national security. But those two fields set a low bar.


“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!

* * *


More optimism:

A long thread describing the conversation between the account (Covid-conscious) and the doctor (not especially), culminating in this:

“I think we all got carried away” may be as good an explanation as we’ll ever get. But I’d love to see some real sociological investigation done on this. (Although HICPAC is not “carried away” at all; they are quite clear on their mission.

Censorship and Propaganda

“What’s behind China’s mysterious wave of childhood pneumonia?” [Nature]. “Nationwide lockdowns and other measures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19 prevented seasonal pathogens from circulating, giving people less opportunity to build up immunity against these microorganisms, a phenomenon known as ‘immunity debt’, said Francois Balloux, a computational biologist at University College London, in a statement to the UK Science Media Centre. “Since China experienced a far longer and harsher lockdown than essentially any other country on Earth, it was anticipated that those ‘lockdown exit’ waves could be substantial in China,” said Balloux.” • I don’t know why Nature is promoting immunity debt (see, e.g.), while not promoting immune dysregulation. Here is a history of the term, which seems to have been invented by bent pediatricians and then amplified by our famously free press–

“‘Immunity Debt’? Established 2021” [Counter-Disinformation]. A media critique tracing the term to its origin. “This is how one unconvincing paper and the Wall Street Journal seeded the idea of immunity debt which was then repeated and amplified by other media sources. From being mentioned in a single paper released in May, by mid July immunity debt was being treated as a well established and well known part of scientific literature. It’s astounding that the same people who dismiss so many studies as lacking rigour or not being valid because there isn’t a RCT were so quick to adopt immunity debt when you consider the time it took for covid to be accepted as being airborne, how long some have continued to debate masks, and how air filtration is still not accepted as a means to reducing transmission. The high standards required to justify measures in schools dissipated like a puff of smoke when a concept to argue against measures in schools was encountered.” • One obvious literature search:

Likely the most studied population on earth….

Science Is Popping

“Scientists discover receptor that blocks COVID-19 infection” [Phys.org]. “University of Sydney scientists have discovered a protein in the lung that blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection and forms a natural protective barrier in the human body. This protein, the leucine-rich repeat-containing protein 15 (LRRC15), is an inbuilt receptor that binds the SARS-CoV-2 virus without passing on the infection. The research opens up an entirely new area of immunology research around LRRC15 and offers a promising pathway to develop new drugs to prevent viral infection from coronaviruses like COVID-19 or deal with fibrosis in the lungs….. The COVID-19 virus infects humans by using a spike protein to attach to a specific receptor in our cells. It primarily uses a protein called the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor to enter human cells. Lung cells have high levels of ACE2 receptors, which is why the COVID-19 virus often causes severe problems in this organ of infected people. Like ACE2, LRRC15 is a receptor for coronavirus, meaning the virus can bind to it. But unlike ACE2, LRRC15 does not support infection. It can, however, stick to the virus and immobilize it. In the process, it prevents other vulnerable cells from becoming infected. ‘We think it acts a bit like Velcro, molecular Velcro, in that it sticks to the spike of the virus and then pulls it away from the target cell types,’ Dr. [Lipin] Loo said.”

“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

Yeah, but who says it was a mistake?

(To be fair, when I think about these issues seriously, as an analyst, I take the spotlight off the individuals and focus on “institutional materiality” (neat phrase). Still, to see these ensuited, embubbled, smiling people mouthing platitudes…. It really frosts me.

A reader throws this over the transom:

This morning I was walking through the check-in/waiting area of the Cancer Center and overheard a (unmasked) check-in person informing an older lady that she’d have to wear a mask during all of her appointments today because ‘it hasn’t been 10 days.’ Meaning she’d answered yes to having had covid in the last 10 days. The older lady was standing there unmasked-amongst a huge waiting room full of cancer patients. It was one of those “WTF?” moments. Nothing makes sense anymore and it makes my brain hurt. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, I suppose. And of course all they hand out are baggy blues because our administrator only spends money on PR and superficial things while the hospital is hemorrhaging employees due to poor pay and working conditions. Wastewater numbers are so high, and there’s still no mask mandate at the hospital. The MDs should all lose their licenses. They are the worst offenders. Rant over. And the Departmental Christmas party is Friday night at the main cafeteria on campus. Should be interesting.”

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, November 27:

Lambert here: Case counts moving smartly upward (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:

That Midwest near-vertical curve is concerning, although as ever with Biobot you have to watch for backward revisions.


From CDC, November25:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, but BA.2.86 coming up fast on the outside.

From CDC, November 11:

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 18:

Lambert here: Slight increases in some age groups, conforming to wastewater data. 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 28:

Up. Level-ish, but I bet hospitalization drops over the holiday weekend. Let’s wait and see. New York state as a whole looks more like a spike. (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]).

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. November 18:

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


From Walgreens, November 27:

0.4%. Up. (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.)

From Cleveland Clinic, November 25:

Lambert here: Increase (with backward revision; guess they thought it was over). I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

From CDC, traveler’s data, November 6:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 6:

BA.2.86 coming along nicely.


Total: 1,183,455 – 1,183,396 = 59 (59 * 365 = 21,535 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). 

Lambert here: This number is too small no matter what. Iowa Covid19 Tracker hasn’t been updated since September 27, 2023. I may have to revert to CDC data. Yech.

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, November 18:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Manufacturing Activity Index in the Richmond area decreased to -5 in November 2023 from 3 in October, missing market expectations of 1.”

* * *

Tech: “Instagram’s Algorithm Delivers Toxic Video Mix to Adults Who Follow Children” [Wall Street Journal]. “nstagram’s Reels video service is designed to show users streams of short videos on topics the system decides will interest them, such as sports, fashion or humor. The Meta Platforms social app does the same thing for users its algorithm decides might have a prurient interest in children, testing by The Wall Street Journal showed. The Journal sought to determine what Instagram’s Reels algorithm would recommend to test accounts set up to follow only young gymnasts, cheerleaders and other teen and preteen influencers active on the platform. Instagram’s system served jarring doses of salacious content to those test accounts, including risqué footage of children as well as overtly sexual adult videos—and ads for some of the biggest U.S. brands. The Journal set up the test accounts after observing that the thousands of followers of such young people’s accounts often include large numbers of adult men, and that many of the accounts who followed those children also had demonstrated interest in sex content related to both children and adults. The Journal also tested what the algorithm would recommend after its accounts followed some of those users as well, which produced more-disturbing content interspersed with ads. In a stream of videos recommended by Instagram, an ad for the dating app Bumble appeared between a video of someone stroking the face of a life-size latex doll and a video of a young girl with a digitally obscured face lifting up her shirt to expose her midriff. In another, a Pizza Hut commercial followed a video of a man lying on a bed with his arm around what the caption said was a 10-year-old girl. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, a child-protection group, separately ran similar tests on its own, with similar results.” • One can only wonder whether there will be immediate calls by liberal Democrats for Biden and Harris to abandon Threads, an X competitor owned by Meta, or whether there will be a deafening silence. I’m betting on silence.

Transportation: “Failed wheel bearing caused Kentucky derailment, CSX says” [Trains]. “CSX says a failed wheel bearing caused the Nov. 22 derailment that led to an evacuation of residents in Livington, Ky., on Thanksgiving. In a Sunday statement, the railroad said it has completed the removal of all 16 railcars involved in the incident that occurred about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and has completed removal of the spilled sulphur that caught fire and led to the evacuation….” • Bearings again, eh? This time, CSX, not Norfolk Southern. CSX uses precision scheduled railroading too, unsurprisingly.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 28 at 1:57:03 PM ET.

The Gallery

“Hard Times” [The Nation]. “WPA work can be challenging to engage with as art, rather than as history or propaganda: Created for government-run facilities and subject to state-imposed constraints, it clashes with our ideals of artistic freedom. The WPA’s guidelines forbade overt political content (although it found its way in nonetheless) and steered artists toward legibility, prioritizing representation over abstraction and favoring the social realist aesthetic. Artists trying to get by in an era of mass unemployment had little choice but to accept these constraints. Yet this context makes the individual visions that shine through all the more meaningful. By working within such constraints, artists like Guston discovered new modes of representation and irony.”

Class Warfare

“Why rich people tend to think they deserve their money” [Marketplace]. From 2021, still germane. “One experiment by psychologists at the University of California, Irvine, invited pairs of strangers to play a rigged Monopoly game where a coin flip designated one player rich and one poor. The rich players received twice as much money as their opponent to begin with; as they played the game, they got to roll two dice instead of one and move around the board twice as fast as their opponent; when they passed ‘Go,’ they collected $200 to their opponent’s $100…. In various ways — through body language and boasting about their wealth, by smacking their pieces loudly against the playing board and making light of their opponents’ misfortune — the rich players began to act as though they deserved the good fortune that was largely a result of their lucky roll of the dice. At the end of the game, when researchers asked the rich players why they had won the game, not one person attributed it to luck. ‘They don’t talk about the flip of the coin. They talk about the things that they did. They talk about their acumen, they talk about their competencies, they talk about this decision or that decision,’ that contributed to their win, [psychologist Paul Piff] said in an interview with host David Brancaccio. Piff said the experiment reveals a fundamental bias that most humans share. ‘When something good happens to you, we think about the things that we did that contributed to that success,’ Piff said.” • Hmm.

“Work and Workplace” [Gallup]. Handy table:

“Pluralistic: The moral injury of having your work enshittified” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “There’s a name for phenomenon in which you care so much about your job that you endure poor conditions and abuse: it’s called ‘vocational awe,’ as coined by Fobazi Ettarh…. Ettarh uses the term to apply to traditionally low-waged workers like librarians, teachers and nurses. In our book Chokepoint Capitalism, Rebecca Giblin and I talked about how it applies to artists and other creative workers, too… But vocational awe is also omnipresent in tech. The grandiose claims to be on a mission to make the world a better place are not just puffery – they’re a vital means of motivating workers who can easily quit their jobs and find a new one to put in 16-hour days…. Today, atomized tech workers who are ordered to enshittify the products they take pride in are losing the argument. … It’s a form of moral injury, and it’s palpable in the first-person accounts of former workers who’ve exited these large firms or the entire field…. My contention here is not that Google’s enshittification was precipitated by a change in personnel via the promotion of managers who have shitty ideas. Google’s enshittification was precipitated by a change in discipline, as the negative consequences of heeding those shitty ideas were abolished thanks to monopoly. This is bad news for people like me, who rely on services like Google Maps as cognitive prostheses.” • Lots of good stuff here, including this aphorism: “An app is just a web-page wrapped in enough IP to make it a crime to install an ad-blocker.” Also, the new Google map design is horrid.

News of the Wired

Periodic Table of Tools” • Handy chart:

* * *

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 notabanker:

notabanker writes: “Took this shot today right when the sun was setting.”

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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. Mikel

    “Supreme Court to consider multi-pronged constitutional attack on SEC” [SCOTUSblog].

    As if the degenerates can’t steal enough already…
    Not people at all interested in sanity or negotiation.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I no longer believe that the u.s. government serves the u.s. Populace. I am starting feel that the u.s. government is actively working against the u.s. Populace. Not one of the three branches of government are on our side.

        1. Glen

          Thanks, that”s good.

          Yeah, it’s not new, it’s just coming up the food chain slowly and surely. It’s been nothing but reality for my daughter and her friends trying to start an “adult life” since the GFC.

          I get a pretty good laugh out of “Bidenomics”. Really, put your name on this? And then wonder why your poll numbers tank?

  2. Mark Gisleson

    Evangelicos like Bob Vander Plaats believe their flock will follow them wherever they’re led but there’s not a lot of sheep in Iowa. Mostly cattle and hogs.

    Hogs can’t be led, they have to be pushed or enticed and in any event we’re not talking about lobbyists.

    Vander Plaats looks like a cattle guy. Cattle are driven not led, and only if they want to be. Getting cattle to go from the barn to the pasture and back again is easy. Good luck trying to get them to go anywhere else. A herd is not a flock, not even close.

    News media will never understand Iowa. The same people go on the news every four years and every four years most Iowans ignore the heck out of them. In a Republican state Republican Bob Vander Plaats has never won a general election.

    1. flora

      Great comment. As far as Vander Plaats goes one can only wonder what Bob Ray would say. (Pretty sure the MSM doesn’t understand my comment. ha.) / ;)

  3. Jeremy Grimm

    Some time ago there was mention of 3M in-the-nose air filters. Has anyone tried them? Are they any good?

    1. dogwood

      Hi Jeremy,
      I ordered a sample package of the 3M in the nose filters and found them to be silly. One size did fit up in my nostrils but they were flimsily made and not stable in my nose and would not give me any confidence at all in a room full of sick people.

      Loved the CW, GM conversation. Insightful and relaxing (rare!). Thank you!

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thank you for the feedback. I am trying to figure out how to get some dental work done as safely as possible.

        I guess I may try to make a nose mask using a section of an N95.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      The Mate-West youtube is very interesting!

      Thrilled Mate hit CW up with the Roger Mudd question at the 53 minute mark, and that West knocked it out of the park. Anyone who quit early should pull this one back up and check out the last few minutes. [Trigger warning: last two minutes is mostly virtual hugs]

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      The non-Biden/non-Trump field of candidates looks as bleak to me as the Biden/Trump choice. I like Cornel West but I have no confidence he could run a government. I might hold my nose on Israel and vote for RFK Jr. just based on the hope he might declassify the JFK, RFK, MLK, ‘X’, and similar files and might just maybe do something about the CIA and larger SpiesIndustrial Complex. Of course, a lot would depend on who he picks for a Vice-President … just in case.

      1. Felix_47

        I have always felt that one reason for the problems with American Blacks was inadequate financing. By that I mean child support. Part of this is due to the high incarceration rate. Part is due to low earning jobs and multiple partners with children. And part of it is wilful. I notice that West had a pretty big recent child support judgement in New Jersey. He has been a high earner for many years. He babbles a good game but it would be nice to see him walk the walk. People complain about the plight of the Black community but consider that it is quite hard to raise four kids on a fast food salary. Direct cash assistance should be a federal priority rather than setting up new bureaucracies to distribute benefits which our current regime seems to favor as an art of patronage. In many ways the federal government is a dead beat dad.

  4. B24S

    Periodic Table of Tools. That’s my world, looks like my shop and garage. I’ve used, and still do, many, if not most, of those tools, and some not even mentioned. Even have the same model of pantograph.

    But I’m not buying the book to see how he’s organized it.

    Off to the shop now. I’m working on some 65 year old Italian brakes.

  5. Tom Stone

    Has Dean Phillips been living under a rock and watching “Leave it to Beaver” reruns ?
    If you hadn’t noticed before the 2016 Primaries, how could you miss (Now US Senator) Alex Padilla not counting 3,000,000 votes in California, handing the nomination to HRC?
    That primary was blatantly rigged from one end of the Country to the other, remember the 100K voters removed from the rolls illegally in NY?
    GMAFB, We will get someone who meets the FBI’s standards, like the Biden Family.
    This is systemic failure and it is starting to get messy.

    1. Big River Bandido

      That omission was by design. I simply do not view Phillips’ presidential run as sincere and genuine, I’ve seen too many Democrats to believe that anymore. My own view is that Phillips is best understood with this metaphor.

      The lightning rod is a little less accurate as a metaphor because it neglects Phillips’ contrived phoniness. But both of these metaphors lead to the same result: the deflection or dispersal of dissenting votes. That’s really Phillips’ only purpose: to give the disaffected Democrats a way to express their dissatisfaction, without being able to affect the outcome.

      Once his race ends, Phillips will use his enhanced profile to push for exactly the same PMC initiatives that he has devoted his career to thus far. Nothing, you might say, will fundamentally change.

  6. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “Instagram’s Algorithm Delivers Toxic Video Mix…

    I too will expect silence from electeds and those who harangue the electeds to “just do something!!”, but wonder if there could be a ‘defund the platform’ moment if the people who actually have power (advertisers and ad buyers) pull ad money from the platform until they radically reform their ways — a corporate-driven boycott, if you will. While I’d like to kill it all with fire, it may be that killing it by starvation would be a viable strategy.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Lots of people forget that it is Mark Zuckerberg that actually owns Instagram. Not expecting him to be called before Congress to explain why his algorithms are promoting kiddy pron as they have other priorities such as the next government shutdown or trying to send sixty billion to the Ukraine.

  7. britzklieg

    It’s well beyond messy, imho and extends far past the trivialities of Democratic partisanship. TINA (there is no alternative) from the ruling class has resulted in TINWO (there is no way out) for everyone else – feature not a bug. There will be no miracle (political, economic, artistic) that can redeem civilization and any cogent, indeed miraculous, ideas for change still percolating amongst the hopeful will forevermore be subdued by the technology of elite, sadistic authoritarianism. We will survive within it as best we can while it only gets worse and then we will die. There’s nothing left but perdition. “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

  8. johnherbiehancock

    “Periodic Table of Tools” could also be a picture of all American political leaders post-JFK

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Charles Koch’s anti-Trump group endorses Nikki Haley in Republican primary”

    So at this stage of the game, can we now label Nikki Haley as the Koch candidate?

    1. petal

      They’re the ones that have been consistently sending out the “If you vote for Trump, then Biden will win. Vote for a GOP Blob candidate so Biden doesn’t win” mailers.

  10. Big River Bandido

    Methinks the real “serious mishap” is the lamestream media which concocted such a stupid “debate” between political nothings with zero chance at becoming President, even “someday”.

    Some good might still come of this fiasco. Perhaps the network exec who came up with the idea will be fired.

  11. Lefty Godot

    “Manchin 2024 chatter puts spotlight on No Labels”

    Is there anyone besides “pundits” who gives two hoots about No Labels? Do they even have any name recognition outside the Beltway where real people live? Who is Manchin supposed to appeal to that would give their ridiculous project any credibility?

    The black hole of “moderate” ultraconservatism is not going to arouse any excitement with the silent “just break it” majority. Whereas I could easily see RFKjr pulling off a total upset by promising to break things, especially if we get some choice like Newsom versus DeSantis from the two established conservative parties.

    1. Mikel

      Those suckers pop up every election. You don’t hear a thing from them until election time. That’s how you know it’s a diversion straight outta the establishment.

    2. Acacia

      Re: RFKjr

      Watching that video with Tucker about “My Dinner with Mike Pompeo”, RFKjr is constantly stammering and his voice sounds terrible. It’s actually painful to listen to him.

      Has he been campaigning too much? I thought(?) he was rather more articulate.

      Anyway, yeah, no sh*t that nobody can reform the three-letter agencies.

      Glennon described this pretty well in his National Security and Double Government already a decade ago, and he was hardly the first to do so.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “How to Watch the DeSantis-Newsom Debate”

    It would be like watching two scorpions in a pit. Hopefully several months from now their names will probably be half-forgotten as wannabes.

    1. JBird4049

      Nah, Newsom is too slick and shiny to be a scorpion. He reminds me of a really good used car salesman and DeSantis is one of those slick traveling preacher types selling damnation for donations.

      Two con artists are the establishment’s selections for us rubes to “choose” from. I am almost praying that we get JFK jr, Cornel West, or even the Orange One to win. They all have flaws, but Gavin Newsom is as corrupt, narcissistic, and empty as they come.

  13. Adam Eran

    Re: The rich/poor Monopoly experiment:

    I had a relative that worked in philanthropy who met lots of wealthy guys trying to dodge taxes by making foundations. He said 90% of these guys were born on third base, but all of them wanted to act like they hit a triple.

    BTW, the rules for the instructive opposite of Monopoly (“Prosperity”) are available online. Instructive since the game’s inventor wanted to promote Henry George’s land tax.

  14. tegnost

    “Since taking office, President Joe Biden has pursued an ambitious policy agenda designed to transform the U.S. economy and taken overt shots at Reagan’s legacy.

    Biden is at the least aligned with politically, if not to the right of Ronnie Raygun. But he’s the master of a diminished/diminishing state and ronnie gets the statue for that achievement.

    “Since taking office, President Joe Biden has pursued an ambitious policy agenda designed to transform the U.S. economy and taken overt shots at Reagan’s legacy.‘Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore,’ Biden quipped

    the sisiphyian boulder is bouncing down the hill unattanded

  15. Sea Sched

    Wow Rocky Anderson is in the news! I am one of the few who voted for him in the 2012 presidential election after I read his platform description. How depressing he lost that mayoral race so badly but makes sense since after Obama winning twice scared the crap out of white people they of course had to skew way in the other direction with their votes.
    I’m surprised Rocky isn’t progressive enough for Cornel West and am also wondering what happened to the Justice Party, as it seems that would’ve been a much better fit for Cornel than the Green Party…

    I’m amazed RFK Jr is finally running and wonder what took him so long- over 15 years ago, I read about his river restoration efforts in environmental magazines and always thought he could win based on name recognition alone…now that he seems to be Q’d, he stands a good chance of winning over Trumpers and his environmental record (despite his racist antivax rants) could win over liberals, and his family name will win over boomers…if he is on the ballot, it will be really interesting how badly he spoils things for both the dems and repubs.

  16. notabanker

    Big pharma ripping a page out of big tech’s playbook. When they abandoned previous versions of software and decided everyone needs to “upgrade” we created ‘technical debt’. The spice must flow…….. moar vax pls.

  17. Joe Well

    Re: Dean Philips tweeting that Biden can’t win

    One of the first replies was from an apparently white woman, Dr Regina something, she actually put Dr in her Twitter profile name. You can’t make this stuff up. Here is her tweet, again, I have read thousands of online remarks like this, but still can’t get over how this has become normalized and a virtual class marker for the PMC:

    I know you’re a white male so this is unlikely, but have you ever considered that we just don’t like you? That we actually like President Uncle Joe, we think he and Kamala have done a great job, and we want them to have 4 more years to finish the job?


    1. The Rev Kev

      Notice the bit to the side on that page?

      ‘Voting Democratic since 1980. No Lists or DMs please! #StillWithHer, #BidenHarris2024’

      I’m not sure how she would react if Trump got in for a second time.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Why America Abandoned the Greatest Economy in History”

    Who believes this garbage? Especially when the guy say that Joe Biden is the answer to it all. I have a different interpretation to what happened. Mine says that Big Business, who were determined to reverse the legacy of FDR, captured both political parties by the 90s so that it did not matter who Americans voted for, it would end up being the same policies. So that meant union breaking, lowering wages, turning workers into debt peons and all the rest of it. Ordinary American were totally sidelined from any say in these policies and in fact a study was done several years ago that showed that average voters only got a say when it happened to align with what the elite wanted. So yes to gay marriage but not to universal health care.

  19. VietnamVet

    Elon Musk jumps into the Middle East quicksand. Those who made or inherited their wealth are congenitally incapable of acknowledging that “behind every great fortune is an equally great crime”. The top 1% to 10% serve the 0.1% Masters. All the rest of the lower 90% are worker-conscript-prisoner fodder to be killed or maimed in the endless wars or sickened by pandemics. PBS’s last Friday’s pundit caught COVID sniffles and was thankful for science.

    The Ukraine War would have ended in March 2022 but Boris Johnson nixed it. The Ukraine 2023 Summer Offensive was to knock out Russia and let western corporations take charge of Eurasia’s resources but failed. A second front in WWIII has opened in Gaza. A third front with China will kill globalization and shut down Elon Musk’s China Telsa factory.

    Chairman Xi dined with Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla chief Elon Musk and Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman in San Francisco two weeks ago. To sell IPhones inside the Eurasian Axis, peace is necessary with an Armistice signed and new DMZs built.

    Without Russia’s cheap energy Europe will soon be prostrate. A repeat of the1970s energy crisis will hit North America along with dollar devaluation. The West will splinter apart into new ethnic and religious zones. Steve Bannon points to the correlation between the Irish Riots and the free emigration of people. At some point inflation, suffering, and shortages will trigger a new people’s revolt to regain power back from the heartless incompetent aristocracy unless democratic nation states, e.g. government by and for the people, are restored.

  20. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding Instagram’s toxic algorithms, going with skeevy pedophile adjacent feeds is not a surprise, they are owned by the the criminal enterprise formerly known as Facebook™.

    In fact, they did this to a dad posting his newborn’s pictures as well, flooding his feed with pictures of ill and maimed babies:

    When my son was born last year, friends from all over wanted to share in my joy. So I decided to post a photo of him every day on Instagram.

    Within weeks, Instagram began showing images of babies with severe and uncommon health conditions, preying on my new-parent vulnerability to the suffering of children. My baby album was becoming a nightmare machine.

    This was not a bug, I have learned. This is how the software driving Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and lots of other apps has been designed to work. Their algorithms optimize for eliciting a reaction from us, ignoring the fact that often the shortest path to a click is fear, anger or sadness.

    The economic incentives in social media are to be horrible.

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