2:00PM Water Cooler 2/1/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Shrike, Bayfield, Wisconsin, United States. This is great! A symphony, including percussion from two woodpeckers!

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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 (Insurrection)

Alert reader GH kindly read more amicus briefs for Anderson. Some highlights:

“Brief for J. Michael Luttig, et al, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “First, Section 3 has life only because it applies fully to those who violate its terms and still retain or regain enough popularity potentially to be elected or be appointed by elected officials. Section 3 would be a dead letter if the Court refused to apply it because an insurrectionist had popularity with large numbers of voters.” A clever answer to “Let the voters decide.” OTOH, the best way for voters to have decided, over time, would have been for Section 5 to have been instantiated in legislation, this being a representative democracy. More: “Second, the Civil War generation recognized that what started as an insurrection in a single state—the secession of South Carolina in December 1860—had metastasized into a Civil War…. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment was the Civil War generation’s powerful deterrent to ensure that even an at-first localized insurrection would never again happen. See, e.g., Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 2918 (May 31, 1866) (Sen. Willey) (Section 3 ‘is a measure of self-defense. . . . [L]ooking to the future peace and security of the country.’). That deterrent worked for over 150 years. The task of interpreting that deterrent commands respect.” • The deterrent argument is new to me. However, I’m not seeing a footnote after “That deterrent worked for over 150 years.” When that [glassbowl] Woodrow Wilson jailed Eugene Debs, one can argue that he could have treated Debs as an insurrectionist. That he did not argues that in fact Section Three is a dead letter (until it came alive again when Democrats and Never-Trumpers, desperate to find a work-around to the ballot, innovated).

“Brief for Professor Kermit Roosevelt, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “[Chief Justice Salmon Chase]: ‘In the very nature of things, it must be ascertained what particular individuals are embraced by the definition [of, e.g., insurrection], before any sentence of exclusion can be made to operate.’…. To some extent, this is accurate. Before a particular individual can be declared to be disqualified, some kind of procedure is necessary. And it may even be that a habeas petition is not the proper procedure. But it does not follow that the needed procedure can only be provided by Congress. As discussed below, state courts and state legislatures play an active role in the enforcement of constitutional rules.” • Not buying it. The brief leaves out Chase’s key point: “[A] construction, which must necessarily occasion great public and private, must never be preferred to a construction which will occasion neither.” As I wrote:

And what do we have? Two different (“various”) branches of government, judicial and executive, in two states using two completely different evidentiary standards. Add one or two more states, another branch, and a few more evidentiary standards, and you’ve got a combinatorial explosion of “usual authority”! And what is the average voter to think? That the only outcome that matters is kicking Trump off the ballot, so that Maine’s “relaxed” and Colorado’s “clear and convincing” both amount to due process? And while we’re talking about evidentiary standards, whatever happened to “beyond a reasonable doubt”? With the Justice Department and entire political class bellowing for Trump to be convicted, why on earth has Biden’s Justice Department never charged him under 18 U.S. Code § 2383 – Rebellion or insurrection? One might be forgiven for concluding that they never charged him because they couldn’t convict him. So, by definition, Maine and Colorado, in their decisions, are disqualifying Trump even though there’s “reasonable doubt” that he is an insurrectionist…. ‘Great public and private mischief’ is exactly what is happening here. This is the Pandora’s box that [Baud and Paulsen have] gleefully opened. These already whacky results provide the clearest possible indication that Griffin was correctly decided, and that there should be national legislation to handle the ascertainment issues Chase described.

“Brief of Constitutional Law Professor Mark Graber, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “When Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment was framed, constitutional lawyers recognized that an insurrection involved a) an assemblage, b) resisting any law or interfering with the course of a governmental proceeding, c) by force or intimidation, d) for a public purpose. Persons engaged in an insurrection when they incited, assisted, or otherwise acted in concert with others bent on resisting law by force or violence for a public purpose. The Members of Congress who played a crucial role drafting Section Three stated that no difference existed between inciting and engaging in an insurrection.” • So, in 2009, when Dr. Margaret Flowers and other single payer advocates (“an assemblage”) interrupted (“by force”) Sen. Max Baucus’s hearings (“interfer[ed] with the course of a governmental proceeding”) because single payer witnesses weren’t included (“for a public purpose”), and were hauled away by the Capitol police, they were engaged in insurrection? GTFO. Most civil disobedience events would also be included.

“Brief of Experts in Democracy, Trump v. Anderson” (PDF) [In the Supreme Court of the United States]. “There are many risk factors that make democracies more likely to falter or fail. But no single element is as important as an elected leader conceding power peacefully based on the will of the voters. Countries whose leaders take that action are democratic – however illiberal or flawed they may be. The peaceful transition of power is so important that one of the 20th century’s foremost political scientists, Samuel Huntington, established the benchmark that no democracy could be considered safely consolidated until one party had peacefully transferred power to another, and the same had occurred in the other direction. The United States is not the first democracy to have an incumbent leader refuse to concede after legal challenges were exhausted. But there are no parallels among strong, consolidated democracies. The events of January 6 unfortunately bear closer resemblance to what happens in some of the world’s weakest democracies…. This brief is not submitted lightly. There are grave issues to consider in removing a presidential candidate from deliberation by the voters. Taking a popular candidate out of consideration can breed distrust in the system. And yet, this concern is equally valid if the court fails to act: distrust in the system is precisely what has been fueled by the insurrection and claims of fraud perpetuated by the former President. In countries where courts have avoided their role as an equal, independent branch with the power to override Executives on issues of constitutionality, democracy continues to slip away. So does the independence of the courts themselves.” • This seems to me to be the strongest brief historically and sociologically. There seems to be no original Constitutional argumentation in it. I’d also note that democracy hasn’t reached its parlous state because of one man; ask any Sanders voter.

GH: “Trump’s Reply Brief is now due on Monday, with oral argument next Thursday. That will be a big day.” And a busy week!


Less than a year to go!

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“Bloomberg poll: Biden losing ground to Trump on immigration” [Axios]. “The percentage of voters who said immigration was the ‘single most important issue’ to them in November went up in six of the seven swing states polled in a new Bloomberg News/Morning Consult survey. 61% of those voters in those states say Biden is at least somewhat responsible for the wave of migration on the U.S.-Mexico border. On the same question, 30% blamed the Trump administration and 38% blamed congressional Republicans. Voters in those states say they trust Trump over Biden on immigration 52% to 30%. The 22 percentage point margin is up five points since the last poll in December. Arizona*, Nevada, Georgia*, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania*, and Michigan* are the seven states featured in the poll.” • NOTE * Flipped from backing Trump in 2016 to backing Biden in 2020.

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Haley (R): “Nikki Haley’s ‘sticky’ problem: Will big donors stay?” [New York Post]. “In Haley’s somewhat strange quest for the GOP nomination, she needs big money more than votes from the party’s rank and file. It helps her stay in the race long enough to hope Trump face-plants in a way that makes her the nominee, maybe without winning a single state, consultants close to her admit. Haley’s dilemma, of course, is that she’s a moderate in a populist party. The old country-club-types, Wall Street execs and free-marketeers are now a back-bench caucus. Donald Trump’s MAGA movement has converted the GOP base to “blue” — as in blue-collar, anti-globalist, and definitely not Wall Street-friendly. He finances his campaign with his own (allegedly) enormous wealth but mostly through contributions from these base voters and the equivalent of free ads buys, intense media coverage every time he says something crazy. Candidates like Haley need money from the non-populist but still cash-rich fat-cat minority to compete and hopefully outlast The Donald.” • In other words, Haley is totally not organic, a creature of the funders?

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DeSantis (R): “‘Traitor’: After bitter primary, DeSantis may struggle to win over Trump supporters if he runs again” [Associated Press]. “But after a scorched-earth primary in which Trump pounded DeSantis viciously for the better part of a year, interviews with voters across early-voting states suggest the Florida governor may have an uphill battle if he chooses to run for president again in 2028. Many Trump supporters not only dislike DeSantis, but echo Trump’s assertions that DeSantis betrayed him and say they would never consider him again. ‘I think he stabbed Trump in the back,’ said Pamela Shinkwin, 73, who lives in Massachusetts and traveled to New Hampshire for one of the former president’s final rallies before his double-digit victory in the primary. DeSantis’ campaign against Trump had soured her on the governor, she said. Mary Sullivan, 76, a retired registered nurse from Manchester, slammed both DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for daring to run in the first place.” • But 73 and 76…. Anyhow, DeSantis was just a terrible candidate. Why would he run again, any more than Marco Rubio did?

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RFK Jr (I): “Half of RFK Jr.’s Massive Fundraising Haul Came From Two People” [Rolling Stone]. “Robert Kennedy Jr. and a super PAC backing his 2024 presidential campaign have raised $50 million, according to new federal election records released Wednesday. Half of that staggering cash haul has come from two people. Timothy Mellon, a Republican megadonor who has also backed former President Donald Trump, has donated another $10 million to the pro-Kennedy super PAC, American Values 2024. Mellon, an heir to the Mellon banking fortune, gave a total of $15 million to the group in 2023. He separately donated $10 million to Make America Great Again Inc., a pro-Trump super PAC, in the second half of 2023. Gavin de Becker, who leads Kennedy’s private security team, donated $5.5 million to American Values 2024 in October; he has given a total of $10 million to the pro-Kennedy super PAC.”

RFK Jr (I): “RFK Jr.’s possible Libertarian bid rankles Democrats” [The Hill]. “Kennedy’s consideration of another party switch comes as he faces significant scrutiny over whether he will be able to qualify for enough ballots nationwide as an Independent heading into the general election after unsuccessfully primarying Biden…. Racking up enough signatures to qualify as an Independent, he stressed, is not likely to be an issue, with deadlines up until August. ‘We’ll be on the ballot in every state,’ he asserted, adding that he has a ‘ground team’ working in the most critical states. But Democrats are still largely dismissive about his push to gain ballot access across the country. Their wish is that he falls short of the roughly half-dozen states that will be consequential to both major parties in the fall. Kennedy running as a Libertarian, however, could change the outcome of the race in unknown ways. It would also make it easier for him to appear on Election Day ballots, experts say. ‘This would help RFK Jr. in terms of ballot access, as the Libertarians already have access in many places,’ said Kyle Kondik, an election analyst and managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. ‘The Libertarians have been the most consistent third-party presence in American politics over the past few decades,’ he said. Kennedy has so far taken small steps to familiarize himself with the Libertarian cause. He’s slated to speak at the party’s convention in California, a delegate-rich state where he has started collecting signatures, according to his campaign’s ballot access website.” • I don’t think speaking at a party convention is ever a “small step.”

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MI: “Biden’s team is blaming Iran for American deaths. How will the US respond?” [Politico]. “Biden’s support for Israel has hurt the campaign badly with the sizable Arab-American population in Michigan, and his team is scrambling to find other paths to victory in the battleground state, according to two campaign advisers granted anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about strategy.”

Republican Funhouse

“Trump Allies Pledge ‘Holy War’ Against Taylor” [Rolling Stone]. “According to three people familiar with the matter, Trump loyalists working on or close to the former president’s campaign, longtime Trump allies in right-wing media, and an array of outside advisers to the ex-president have long taken it as a given that Swift will eventually endorse Biden (as she did in 2020). Indeed, several of these Republicans and conservative media figures have discussed the matter with Trump over the past few months, the sources say…. While Swift has not yet issued an endorsement in the 2024 race, The New York Times reported Monday that Swift is a key name on Biden aides’ ‘wish lists of potential surrogates.’ A potential Swift appearance at Super Bowl LVIII alongside her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, has already prompted the MAGA right’s culture-war pugilists into a conspiracy-fueled froth about how this NFL season has been rigged to boost Biden…. Behind the scenes, Trump has reacted to the possibility of Biden and Swift teaming up against him this year not with alarm, but with an instant projection of ego. In recent weeks, the former president has told people in his orbit that no amount of A-list celebrity endorsements will save Biden. Trump has also privately claimed that he is ‘more popular’ than Swift and that he has more committed fans than she does, a person close to Trump and another source with knowledge of the matter tell Rolling Stone.” • This clip has resurfaced and is making the rounds:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“6 initiatives head to WA ballot with $6M support of Brian Heywood” [Seattle Times]. “Pouring more than $6 million of his money into a paid signature-gathering campaign, Heywood has almost single-handedly bankrolled six initiatives that are likely headed to the November ballot. The unprecedented initiative slate would eliminate the state’s new capital gains tax, repeal a landmark climate law, allow people to opt out of a long-term care payroll tax and reverse police-pursuit restrictions passed in recent years by the Legislature. They’d also ban local and state income taxes and guarantee parents access to information on K-12 school curricula and school medical records. All six initiatives have been certified as having received the required signatures to make the 2024 ballot. The final one, targeting the state’s long-term care payroll tax, was certified on Friday by the Secretary of State’s Office.” • Ironically, Heywood moved to Washington from California, where the result of the initiative process has been mixed at best.


“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 (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, 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, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“Low-Cost Mitigation of Aerosol Pathogen Transmission in Expedient Outdoor Housing” [Nukit Research and Development, GoogleDocs]. First paragraph: “We were contacted on January 10th, 2024, and asked to advise on [Covid] mitigation for a common but poorly studied indoor space—a small cabin or tent that served as the living arrangements for ‘Froglet’ Taylor, a 43-year-old unhoused woman living in Houston, Texas.” • Mitigation required because Froglet shares the tent with others when its cold, and it’s a 3C’s space par excellence (closed, crowded, close contact). Worth reading in full. (NuKit is Naomi Wu, for those who haven’t followed the account).


“Penn Jillette Wants to Talk It All Out” [Cracked]. Conversion experience:

For so long, you identified as Libertarian. What changed?

I completely have not used the word Libertarian in describing myself since I got an email during lockdown where a person from a Libertarian organization wrote to me and said, “We’re doing an anti-mask demonstration in Vegas, and obviously we’d like you to head it.” I looked at that email and I went, “The fact they sent me this email is something I need to be very ashamed of, and I need to change.” Now, you can make the argument that maybe you don’t need to mandate masks — you can make the argument that maybe that shouldn’t be the government’s job — but you cannot make the argument that you shouldn’t wear masks. It is the exact reciprocal of seatbelts because if I don’t wear a seatbelt, my chances of fucking myself up increase — if I don’t wear a mask, the chance of fucking someone else up increase.

Many times when I identified as Libertarian, people said to me, “It’s just rich white guys that don’t want to be told what to do,” and I had a zillion answers to that — and now that seems 100 percent accurate.

Testing and Tracking

“Replication-Competent Virus Detected in Blood of a Fatal COVID-19 Case” (case study) [Annals of Internal Medicine]. From the Discussion: ” Our case proves that replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 can traffic in blood during COVID-19 and seed tissues throughout the body. Use of a permissive Vero cell line increased sensitivity of detecting SARS-CoV-2 in plasma from our patient, as did using plasma from a critically ill but seronegative patient. Cell culture induced minor SARS-CoV-2 sequence variability, consistent with known Vero E6 cell culture effects, but overall, the same isolate was recovered before and after culture from the lungs, plasma, and heart of this patient. Further studies are needed to determine the implications of our findings for persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 variants, those with mild illness, persons recently vaccinated, or persons with waning immunity after natural infection or vaccination.” • So far as I can tell, Red Cross blood donation policy doesn’t require a test for Covid.

Elite Maleficence

“Urge the CDC to Listen to Frontline Health Care Workers and Patients!” [National Nurses United]. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has tasked its advisory committee (HICPAC) to update infection control guidance for health care settings. HICPAC’s draft, which was finalized by a unanimous vote in November 2023, proposes to weaken existing practice and fails to acknowledge the science on aerosol transmission and respiratory protection. After conducting its review, the CDC is sending back HICPAC’s draft for more work!” • Sign the Petition!

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot January 29: Regional[2] Biobot January 29:
Variants[3] CDC January 27 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC January 20
New York[5] New York State, data January 31: National [6] CDC January 20:
National[7] Walgreens January 29: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic January 27:
Travelers Data
Positivity[8] CDC January 8: Variants[9] CDC January 8:
Weekly deaths New York Times January 20: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times January 20:


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] Even after a decline, we’re still higher than any of the surges under Trump.

[2] Slight increase in MWRA wastewater data, as of January 25, i.e. the incubation period from the student’s return:

[3] “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.

[4] “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. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.

[5] Decrease for the city aligns with wastewater data.

[6] “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†”.

[7] -0.7%. (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.)

[8] Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming for unemployment benefits in the US rose for a second consecutive week to 224K in the week ended January 27th, the highest reading since mid-November, compared to an upwardly revised 215K in the previous week and forecast of 212K.”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based employers announced plans to cut 82307 jobs in January 2024, the most in ten months, compared to 34817 in December 2023. With the exception of last January’s total, this is the highest number of job cuts announced in January since January 2009.” • Oof.

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI in the US improved to 49.1 in January 2024, the highest since October 2022, from 47.1 in December, and well above forecasts of 47. The reading continued to point to a contraction in the manufacturing sector, although at a much softer pace, as demand moderately improved, output remained stable and inputs are accommodative.”

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Manufacturing: “Tesla sued for allegedly mishandling hazardous waste in California for years” [TechCrunch]. “Tesla has been sued by 25 California counties alleging the automaker has repeatedly mishandled hazardous waste at facilities throughout the state. The lawsuit was filed after months of settlement talks apparently fell apart. The complaint, filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court, states that Tesla improperly labeled and disposed of materials like ‘lead acid batteries and other batteries,’ paints, brake fluid, aerosols, antifreeze, acetone, diesel fuel and more at its production and service facilities throughout the state. Tesla also allegedly improperly disposed of the waste, both on-site and at landfills that can’t accept hazardous waste.”

Tech: “How hard is it to cheat with ChatGPT in technical interviews? We ran an experiment” [interviewing.io]. “We were stunned to discover that interviewers reported no suspicions of cheating, and interestingly, interviewees were largely confident that they were getting away with it, too. 81% reported no concerns about being caught, 13% thought they might have tipped off the interviewer, and an astonishingly small 6% of participants thought the interviewer suspected them of cheating.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 64 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 1 at 1:37:49 PM ET.

Book Nook

“Against Disruption: On the Bulletpointization of Books” [Literary Hub]. “The popularity of book summary services like Blinkist and Shortform is a perfect encapsulation of what gets lost (nuance) in the bulletpointification of books, in which every bit of information is served in digestible bite-sized portions that you can upload right to your brain. A recent Blinkist post titled ‘7 Blinks To Understand the Conflict Between Israel and Hamas,’ may give you some idea of the scale of such bullet point derangement, as if a blink was a proper unit of measurement to use to understand a genocide happening before the world’s eyes. I have seen many VC-funded book startups come and go, usually led by well-intentioned people who think they have a good idea about how to ‘save’ books. Remember all of the startups saying that they would be the Netflix of books? The latest bunch of startups that are for sure going to ‘fix’ what’s wrong with books are focused on AI. Yann LeCun, the chief AI scientist at Meta, proposed in a tweet about AI assistants that if Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media defines books as ‘a user interface to knowledge,’ then AI assistants are poised to become ‘a better user interface to knowledge.'” • Only if the crooks in the AI world can steal all O’Reilly’s content for their training sets.

Zeitgeist Watch

The responses are… enlightening:

I try not to hate, and especially not hate institutions (a category error, I think). That said, I might make an exception for the CDC:

Shut up. Shut up, shut up, shut up. And of course:

“Response to Elmo’s ‘checking in’ post underscores U.S. mental health crisis” [Axios]. “The responses to Elmo’s post that was seen an estimated 140 million-plus times underscore a growing mental health crisis across the U.S. and a national spike in anxiety and depression, with young people driving a rise in mental health spending in recent years.” One might see a refusal to “live in fear” (such an odd phrase) as a response to this. More: “American spending on mental health with private insurance surged during the pandemic, while Gallup polling in 2023 found 23% of U.S. adults visited a mental health professional in 2022, compared to 13% in 2004. Three recent studies suggest overdose deaths, depression and barriers to care have weighed heaviest on disadvantaged and minority groups — and they’re aligning to widen health disparities as the U.S. emerges from the pandemic, per Axios’ Caitlin Owens.” • “[E]merges from the pandemic” from the pandemic is delicately put. I wonder if the pandemic could be — hear me out — the common factor in all these social sequelae?

Class Warfare

Covid and the labor force:

Not a “political issue” at all, of course. Readers, any anecdotes like this from you? This account is from New York, where we know Covid has been spiking.

NOTE This is another attempt to cut down on jaggies from text screen dumps. Readers?


Plus ça change….

“What’s Going On, Actually” [Radio Sof]. “The problems arise of course when foolish people such as myself naively believe that a Doctor of Science must be interested in Science, that institutions that teach philosophy must be interested in Truth and Justice, that large religious organizations that follow the teachings of Jesus must be interested in the Poor, and so forth and so on. Oops! In short, in every institution, there are the people who are there because of the institution’s higher or abstract ideals such as Learning, Music, Jesus, Sports, Science, etc. etc., and then there are the people who are there to leverage their abilities to gain power inside the institution and then leverage the institution to gain power in the world at large. And there’s always some of each, but I always thought of the latter as the minority, but now I am not so sure.” • This is the distinction I have drawn between hegemonic and exceptional PMC (the exceptional being those “who are there because of the institution’s higher or abstract ideals,” and by definition in the minority). Of course, this is a binary, therefore wrong, and there should probably be at least one more bucket for those who just keep their heads down.

“Land Report 100” [The Land Report]. “In 2024, America’s largest landowner is Red Emmerson. Red and his family own 2,411,000 acres in California, Oregon, and Washington through their timber-products company, Sierra Pacific Industries. The Emmersons became America’s largest landowners in 2021 when they acquired 175,000 acres in Oregon from Seneca Timber Company. With that acquisition, the Emmersons surpassed Liberty Media chairman John Malone’s 2,200,000 acres. CNN founder Ted Turner is America’s third largest landowner with 2 million acres in the Southeast, on the Great Plains, and across the West.” • This is the original report, previously cited by RT.

News of the Wired

Alert reader PI sends this:

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, 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 IM:

IM writes: “A January photo, though it looks rather green. Still air for mirror-like reflections, cedars growing in the swampy conditions they love. On Mayne Island in the strait of Georgia.” Swamp in a good way.

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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. ChrisFromGA

    Ode to Benjamin Netanyahu

    Vicious Old Thug

    (Melody from “Pretty Young Thing,” by MJ, a.k.a. the King of Pop, Best interpreted as sung by Nikki Haley, or perhaps Lindsay Graham, assuming he can sing soprano and hit those high notes!)

    You know you, you make me feel so bad inside
    I always wanted a thug just like you
    Such a V.O.T., Vicious Old Thug, ooh

    What part of Mordor are you from, Bibi?
    And, ooh, won’t you take me there
    Right away, won’t you, Bibi?
    Slaughteroni, you’ve got to be
    Spark a world war, genocide with me

    Don’t you know now is the perfect time?
    We can make it right, turn off Gaza city lights
    Then tonight, ease the killing pain
    Let me take you to the max

    I wanna thug like you (V.O.T.)
    Vicious old thug
    I will defend you (from I.C.C.)
    Lawyer up and stare
    And I’ll take you there, ooh-oh

    I wanna thug like you (V.O.T.)
    Vicious old thug
    I will defend you (I.C.C.)
    Western press don’t care
    And I’ll take you there, ooh-oh

    Nothing can stop this burning desire to kill with you
    Got to get to you, baby
    Won’t you come, it’s emergency
    Cool my nakba yearning
    Honey, don’t set captives free

    Don’t you know now is the perfect time?
    We can dim the lights, just to make it right
    In the night, hit the Red Cross spot
    I’ll give ’em all ordnance I’ve got

    I wanna thug like u (V.O.T.)
    Vicious old thug
    I will defend you (I.C.C.)
    Western press don’t care
    And I’ll take you there, ooh-oh
    I wanna thug like you (V.O.T.)
    Vicious old thug
    I will defend you (I.C.C.)
    Lawyer up and stare
    And I’ll take you there, ooh-oh, hee-hee!

    Vicious old thug .. uhh!
    Vicious old thug … (power guitar riff)
    Vicious old thug … uhh!
    Vicious old thug

    Vicious old thugs, repeat after me, say:
    “Na-na-nak-ba” (Na-na-nak-ba)
    Sing, “na-nak-ba” (Na-nak-ba)
    “Na-na-nak-ba” (Na-na-nak-ba)

    Oh, you’re the king of despair

    I want a thug like you (V.O.T.)
    Vicious old thug
    I will defend you (I.C.C.)
    Western press don’t care
    And I’ll take you there, ooh-oh
    I want thug like you (V.O.T.)
    Vicious old thug
    I will defend you (I.C.C.)
    Western press don’t care
    And I’ll take you there, ooh-oh

  2. Tommy S

    Maybe with all these questionable articles ….say those about ‘40,000’ in one year to Denver. (oh c’mon really?)…and millions being allowed to stay here….we could go to ICE base gov’t stats and start from there. Cuz it sure don’t seem like I see the number 400,000 deported and returned just last year, in all these MSM and pundit articles about the subject. Nor do I see that arrests have doubled in just two years. To me, this is like the present lie of ‘crime skyrocketing’…. https://www.ice.gov/spotlight/statistics?fbclid=IwAR2Q7Cy3ritLGQyqo_6oS17sL_KiFziFw94xcM-T4BIm_QmfgW0Uoh_Wc_Y

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > pundit articles

      Same issue with the moral panic about retail theft, which was really about chains want to close stores, IIRC.

      If we think of the immigrants at the border as a queue, then the queue has a certain length (and width, if a queue can have a width). I wonder if there are any back of the envelope calculations of the scale of the queue, over time.

      1. hamstak

        Speaking of the retail theft moral panic, I was recently in a certain general retailer (who shall go unnamed) to pick up a few sundry items, including a package of athletic socks. I was stunned to find men’s undergarments behind lockable glass doors. The thing is, all of the doors were unlocked and slightly ajar. So either they were in the process of being stocked, or the store was experiencing declining sales in that area due to customers deciding it was too much hassle just for the sake of a six-pack of briefs.

      2. Duke of Prunes

        I’m sure some of the store closings are corporations using shoplifting as an excuse. However, I looked at one of the studies one of these “debunking” articles relied on, and it was quite poor. They decided to remove the data from New York for some specious (to me) reason (almost like “we’re removing the NY data because it didn’t support our conclusion”… ok, they didn’t say that, but that is what it looked like to me). Then, it solely relied on “reported shoplifting”. How much shoplifting gets reported in places like Chicago or San Fran where only extreme shoplifting is prosecuted?

        Again, I can totally believe that large corporations used shoplifting as a cover story to close some locations, and big media help amplify these stories to further run cover. However, this doesn’t mean that shoplifting is big problem in many parts of the country. I know some people who run “mom and pops” and they claim it is worse than ever (maybe they just have short memories?).

  3. Feral Finster

    “Haley (R): “Nikki Haley’s ‘sticky’ problem: Will big donors stay?” [New York Post]. “In Haley’s somewhat strange quest for the GOP nomination, she needs big money more than votes from the party’s rank and file. It helps her stay in the race long enough to hope Trump face-plants in a way that makes her the nominee, maybe without winning a single state, consultants close to her admit.”

    Not sure I buy it. All Haley has to do is not concede and then hope that she can be Plan B. “Not conceding” doesn’t require a lot of cash, and the MSM is happy to serve as her volunteer P.R. outfit.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > All Haley has to do is not concede and then hope that she can be Plan B.

      Your comment gives me the opportunity to run this image, which I couldn’t get to:

      I think Abbott is gunning for being Plan B. And getting 26 states to buy into his Confederate-era Constitutional theorizing is a step toward that goal; it certainly ranks him ahead of that damp squib DeSantis; the best DeSantis could do was that stunt of sending immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard (amusing, I admit).

      Speculating freely, Trump knows this, which is why he threw a spanner into the works on a border compromise in Congress. Not only does that deny Biden a “bipartisan” win, it denies Abbott a win, since Abbott would surely get credit on the Republican side.

    2. Carolinian

      If Trump were to be forced to withdraw he could then ask his by then considerable delegates to support the candidate of his choice, which would not be Haley. It might be Tim Scott who now stands on the stage with him at rallies. All this was covered in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man–play and movie.

      Haley is in in that other movie with Rod Steiger where the two of them are in the back seat of the car. Nik: “Not my night?! Not my night?! I could have been a contender!” Out of politeness I won’t quote the rest…..

      1. Feral Finster

        Good point, but since Haley ain’t gonna be getting many delegates on her own as long as Trump is in the race, I’m not sure that it matters.

        Could be she is just burnishing her credentials for a few more board seats, a sinecure at a think tank or something.

  4. cgregory

    Payment for gathering ballot initiative signatures should be outlawed. It’s a tactic that only benefits the wealthy.

  5. Samuel Conner

    Nice to see the “masking is analogous to wearing a seat belt” argument made in public.

    I haven’t worked up the guts to ask some elderly friends who are anti-maskers when they plan to dispense with the inconvenience of seat belts.

    1. Kitty

      Most masks don’t stop you from spreading Covid, nor getting it, unless high quality properly worn, no eyeglass steaming, and brand new with the electrostatic charge intact.

      Seatbelts that easily tear in a crash is the analogy.

      O.T. Is there a peer reviewed study that anyone could point us to that shows that healthy immune systems are not better than those compromised by vaccines?

      1. JBird4049

        An improperly fitted mask is no good, but masking is part of a numbers game. While a properly fitted N95 or an elastomeric mask are the most effective, wearing any mask does something positive. Masks are not the single defense from Covid, it is just the final one, and while not total effective, it decreases both risk of infection and severity of the illness. It also protects others from you if you are infectious.

        Restated, I worry about people just wearing a mask, not if they are doing everything right about it, as every bit helps at least a little. If we can make it normal to do so, then we push for better quality masking.

      2. Angie Neer

        Eyeglass steaming does not necessarily indicate bad fit. Your breath contains water vapor, which is a gas that can pass through a filter just like any other gas. If your glasses are cool enough (and they’re usually cooler than your breath), some of the vapor will condense on them.

  6. JohnA

    Excuse my ignorance as a European, of all things American. But how in any stretch of the imagination can Nikki Haley be considered a moderate? The woman wants to start wars in every part of the world.

    1. SeventyTwoTrillion

      Wanting to start wars in every part of the world is a minimum requirement for campaigning for the presidency. Nothing abnormal there.

      What sets you apart from all the other candidates who want to start a bunch of wars is: a) which wars in particular you focus on more than others (China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, etc), and b) whether you want a “careful” war with “precision” strikes – that is, bombing hospitals full of civilians if you hear a whisper of a rumour that an enemy combatant has even been thinking about that hospital within the last 10 years – or more overtly genocidal, like the European colonial wars of the 18th and 19th century… and, well… the 20th century too, actually, looking at Algeria and Vietnam and Korea. And, uh, the 21st century too, as it happens, looking at Israel and Syria. Netanyahu will find himself in good company with King Leopold II and other such delightful figures when he descends to the deepest pit of hell. At this rate, Biden will be tagging along with him, and future US presidents if American foreign policy continues to be this way.

      1. JBird4049

        It is a scale with our presidents and the factions in the War Uniparty:

        1) Color Revolutions or coups with financial aid and training to fight the communists terrorists,

        2) or bombings, droning, and assassinations,

        3) or just outright old style military invasions complete with ground troops and tanks?

        With the justifications being:

        A) Real geopolitical goals and calculations, which does, albeit rarely, happens.

        B) Some people just have a hate-on for someone or some country because reasons such as Evil Putin-Russian, Xi-China, 2nd or 3rd tier country acting like an independent country, not a whipped dog, satrapy or protectorate of the American Empire. Frequently this.

        C) Greed with some in the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex wanting to boost stock prices, or pay for their new mansion, or third spouse. This is common, I think.

        I remember briefly believing, like a damn fool, that the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex would have its expansion halted or even curtailed at the end of the Cold War. Oh, boy, was I wrong. The entire country is more warlike and fearful, with a greater, almost all encompassing security state ignoring all our rights and the needs for mere survival. And the homicide rate was its highest over thirty years ago, but they tell us to fear everyone and everything. I guess it is good for business.

        I lived through half of the Cold War as an adult or an aware teenager, and knew along with most everyone else, that it could all go away in an afternoon. Perhaps, just because of an accident or mistake, not even a intention for a war and the vast nuclear arsenals and militaries that dwarfed those of today. Just read some of the fiction, particular the science fiction, to see what was in our collective subconscious. Read about the riots, the assassinations, COINTELPRO, and other horrific happenings in the United States and then of horrors like Operation Condor and the Jakarta Method, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Dark, dark stuff, and yet, I felt and saw less fear from everyone.

          1. John

            I felt and saw less fear from everyone

            My experience also. Could it be that the US was confident of its strength then as it is not today and was not in the 1990s even though for that moment the US had no peer? When all you are doing is sitting on the heap of treasure to keep it away from everyone else, enemies are everywhere?

    2. Feral Finster

      Surely you jest? And don’t kid yourself. The european leadership will meekly obey any command of its American Master.

  7. Carolinian

    Haley is totally not organic, a creature of the funders?

    Of course. And the Trumpies have been putting out a claim that she may not even be eligible. Her parents were not yet citizens when she was born and therefore they question whether she is a “natural born” citizen as stated in the Constitution.

    Not that that one will land or even matter at this point. As for “moderate”


    1. The Rev Kev

      Hmmm. John McCain was born in Panama so was technically an American but they let him run for President anyway. But choosing Sarah Palin was a self goal on his part and anybody who chooses Neocon Nikki will be doing the same.

      1. flora

        McCain was born in the old Panama Canal Zone which was a US territory back in the day, before Jimmy Carter signed a treaty transferring it back to Panama over time. His parents were US citizens. So nothing questionable here. Anymore than say children born to UK citizens in Hong Kong before the transfer being considered UK citizens by birth.

        1. The Rev Kev

          It would be interesting to chart up Presidents and Presidential candidates by those who were born in America and go back at least two generations and those who were born in America but whose ties to America are a bit more nebulous – people like Obama and Nikki and Kamala. I am noticing a kinda preference for the later which may be for the purpose of appealing to immigrants. But the net result is black candidates who are not actual American blacks and do not share their experiences and may not have much sympathy with them.

        2. Carolinian

          Fun stuff. CNN and the others are accusing the Trump people of going all Kenyan again but here is the legal argument.

          Nikki Haley is NOT a ‘natural born Citizen” of the United States to constitutional standards since both of her parents were foreign nationals who were NOT U.S. citizens when Nikki Haley was born in the USA. She is missing two legs of the three legs of the ‘natural born Citizen’ test. She is of course a basic “Citizen” at birth per the Wong Kim Ark legal decision by the U.S. Supreme Court of 1898 and the man-made positive naturalization law USC 1401, and as such she is eligible to be a Governor or a Member of Congress, but she is not a natural law “natural born Citizen” at birth, and thus is NOT eligible to be President and Commander in Chief of our military or the Vice President, per our U.S. Constitution. She inherited multiple national allegiances at birth due to her parents being foreign nationals living in the USA when she was born. Nikki Haley did not have sole allegiance and unity of citizenship at birth to the USA and only the USA.


          So it is sort of the same as the accusations against Obama but the point is doubtless more to highlight her brief provenance as a citizen for those who might care about this.

          Nikki is over so it’s now moot. And she did get her shot and can only blame herself, not the law parsers.

          1. Carolinian

            Just to add that if “allegiance” is the issue then Trump himself may have some questions to answer given that he may have appointed Nikki to the UN only to please contributor and now deceased Israel booster Sheldon Adelson. Perhaps the real allegiance problem with our politicians–all of them–is their allegiance to money.

          2. JBird4049

            All this blathering about who is a “real” American is usually disguised racism or political sliming. If you were born on American soil or to an American, you are an American and a citizen. I do not like Nikki Hailey, and I am happy with her not being the president, but anyone who uses the “not a real American” as an attack is being an ass.

        3. hk

          More than that, they were (or at least his father was) US military personnel stationed there, so that was a bit of bruhaha for the sake of bruhaha…

            1. The Rev Kev

              …who helped cover up the attack by the Israelis on the USS Liberty. The apple did not fall far from the tree.

        4. Terry Flynn

          I don’t disagree with your US-Panama point. But unfortunately the British Empire analogy might be misleading to anyone not schooled in the minutiae of “subject” versus “citizen” in the former British Empire.

          UK govts (particularly the 1979+ Tory ones) used legal loopholes to deny British citizenship to LOTS of people (specifically HK Chinese). Lots of people who by any sensible interpretation should have been full “UK citizens” were classed as “subjects” – something exploited by Mrs Thatcher in one of the perennial Tory “keep those nasty immigrants out” drives.

          A HK friend spent close to half of his 3 years of his PhD (shortly after the HK handover) trying to convince the British govt that by their own laws he was British. Eventually he won. But not before he (like many highly educated and extremely well integrated Anglo in nature Sikhs) said “enough of this pantomime” and got Canadian citizenship in mere weeks. (BTW I am aware of current Canadian Sikh issues…. This guy and his wider group had no time for religious fundamentalism. He didn’t even observe the five “k”s). UK gained a handful of votes. Canada gained an expert in infectious diseases epidemiology. My mum’s fight with the UK Home Office to prove she was entitled to British citizenship is a story for another day.

    2. marym

      Through the years Trump has said he would end birthright citizenship by executive order, or that it would need to be ended by a law passed by Congress. Since he thinks it needs federal intervention to make it illegal even he must know it’s legal.

      The link gives the general history of findings by courts and Constitutional experts that based on the 14th Amendment children born in the US of non-citizen parents are citizens.

      1. Carolinian

        Rigtht. I’m not aware if Trump himself has made this sally against Haley and it sounds more like CNN and others pumping up another TDS talking point. Trump has no reason to worry about Haley even if CNN hopes otherwise.

        As I read it the legal argument is about original intent after not just a revolution but a kind of civil war with some of the population still loyal to England. They are saying the meaning of that late 18th century time was that natural born meant parents are citizens of the United States but only in the context of who can run for president.

  8. Terry Flynn

    Whilst I do seek to keep on top of USA laws regarding presidential candidates, I’ll admit that the “inter-state variation” is beginning to boggle my mind. I don’t wish to break NC rules and ask anyone to “do the work” but I just wondered if any USians have a two-sentence (or likewise) summary of what the issues are w.r.t. an independent like RFK jr actually getting on the ballot in enough states to be a genuine contender (or failing that, spoiler to the increasingly obvious two heavyweights)?

    I am aware that in the event of a plurality, not majority, for a candidate in the electoral college, there are a lot of potential shenanigans that can arise in the House and/or Senate.

    1. flora

      It’s unbelievably hard for an independent or new party to get on any US state’s ballot. The Libertarian Party is established and already on most state ballots from earlier eras’ campaigning. If RFKjr decides to ride the Libertarian Party horse it’s because that horse is established and has already made it over most of the ballot access hurdles. imo.

      Both major parties fight like demons to keep independents and new parties off the states ballots. See Matt Taibbi’s recent article on the dirty, brass knuckle lawfare used against Ralph Nader’s run.

      1. Stephen V

        You beat me too it flora! I was active in the Green Party at that time and witnessed Dem Party tactics first hand re: ballot access. But what was done to Nader 20 years ago?
        What an education in that Taibbi piece. Those prone to outrage are forewarned!

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Also in some states at least, like Maine, you need to maintain a certain percentage of the vote to keep ballot access for your party from year to year. I believe you need to get at least 5% of the vote for governor or presidential elections to keep it in Maine. That might be a little easier now that Maine has ranked choice voting, but I know the Green party has struggled with being recognized, and has lost access in the past if I remember right. Getting it back isn’t easy – the Democrat party will challenge signatures, etc. to keep any other liberal candidates off the ballot. And then they get stomped by Susan Collins anyway.

        More info here –


        1. Pat

          Percentage of vote is also at play in NY, at least for pre approval to be on the ballot for the following election. Meaning they don’t have to jump through hoops in a very short period to get on the ballot at all. I don’t remember the percentage, but do remember when Andrew Cuomo big footed their platform because they were afraid of him not being on their ballot line for governor as they didn’t think they wouldn’t get the percentage of the vote needed for a ballot line in the next election otherwise.

      3. Terry Flynn

        Many thanks Flora (and to the others who also took valuable time to educate a Brit/Aussie like me in the minutiae).

        There is an irony that in a country without a written constitution like the UK, the electoral rules are frequently simpler and more generally accepted across the populus than in one where a written constitution was supposed to eradicate all this nonsensical uncertainty.

  9. ambrit

    Most curious; Part the Second.
    It has happened again. Last week I had a longer comment come up in the queue and settle in place. Later, it was gone. No moderation warning, or other exhortation. It has just happened again to a Mini Zeitgeist Report. I did notice that I could not change a letter from lower case to upper case in the edit function. Otherwise, business as usual.
    Anyway, everyone stay safe!

    1. Terry Flynn

      I’ve had (kind of) opposite issue. After the “cache issue” was dealt with by NC (thx by the way), I’ve noticed that a much higher proportion of my comments appear instantly – without the 5 minute countdown allowing you to edit any fat finger effects. I frequently write comments in a text program to allow me to edit and give a 2nd thought as to “whether this point really needs to be made” before pasting into NC.

      Since I’ve been doing this for years, it can’t explain why I’m suddenly getting so many comments accepted. I suspect – in the light of a very nice explanation of the “lack of control” NC often has regarding auto-moderation from Yves many years ago – that “the system” is currently doing “the opposite” to before. Thus a bunch of my comments that I reckon should have the “5 mins to edit/rethink” property are going “straight to print” whilst some equally/more justifiable comments are being eaten.

      I’m just saying this because I hope it might help Yves, Lambert et al in further identifying glitches…. Even if it means more of my comments don’t get a “free pass”!

      1. ambrit

        I’m old enough that I can remember when computers were promoted as being wonder machines that would make life unbelievably easier for the downtrodden masses. Did this happen the way it was advertised?

        1. Wukchumni

          We have the best dump ever in Visalia, so easy to get ‘r done, $15 is the entrance fee and there’s a few dozen parking spots where you back up your truck and there’s a dumpster down below.

          A sign in front where you pay your $15 to the cashier exclaims…

          ‘NO computers or TV’s!’

          Could you imagine throwing out tv’s or God forbid computers, when you were a kid?

  10. notabanker

    Apologies if this has appeared here or in the links, but I haven’t seen coverage of it.

    Interesting piece today from breaking points. US Court issues opinion that Biden could be sponsoring Israeli genocide, but can’t rule on the matter due to “political question” which basically is the judgement of the admin, not their authority. Evidence presented in the US “comports” with ICJ ruling.


    1. nippersdad

      That was the outrage of the day, and complete BS. The judge claimed a lack of jurisdiction over federal and Constitutional law based upon a mere policy that was backed up by precedents set (IIRC) during the Bush II Admin. This is just basic Con law; Marbury vs. Madison confirmed the right of judicial review back during Jefferson’s presidency, and only a coward would deny that he had jurisdiction to pass judgment on this issue.

      Hopefully it will be appealed.

  11. LawnDart


    Boeing one incident away from 737 production halt, lessor says

    DUBLIN, Jan 29 (Reuters) – One of the aircraft industry’s most influential leaders believes Boeing (BA.N), opens new tab will face a heavier regulatory backlash if there are further production snags such as the one suspected of causing a door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 jet.
    If there is one more significant problem “the FAA will stop (737) production”, Air Lease Corp (AL.N), opens new tab Executive Chairman Steven Udvar-Hazy told reporters at the Airline Economics conference in Dublin on Monday, referring to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


  12. Feral Finster

    Meanwhile, I see that, according to the BBC World Service, the EU is upping their support to Ukraine from EUR 50 billion to EUR 83 billion.

    Stop kidding yourselves. The only way the West will give up is if they are forced to. They will not listen to reason, unless and until its the lives and property of eurocrats or their American Masters that are under threat.

    Among many other miscalculations, Russia has consistently refused to acknowledge just how sociopathic its enemies are.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      I’m pretty much in agreement, with the only reason to go short my own pessimism being that Russia has always been risk averse and patient.

      I would say that the big miscalculation here is that by not enforcing red lines more strictly, they’ve allowed the NATO to escalate without consequences. Also, economic war as shown by the Houthis yields results.

      An LNG tanker torpedoed in the Baltic Sea would likely send the right message.

      1. Feral Finster

        Russia may have been risk adverse and patient, but the West sees this not as reasonableness but as contemptible weakness.

        Of course, the german MSM would be howling about the torpedoing of an LNG tanker as an act of war. The fact that the United States or (LOL) Ukraine destroyed NordSteam? Well, that goes unmentioned, europeans shrug and stare at their shoes and hope that you’ll change the subject.

        Not fair, but too bad.

    2. OnceWere

      Isn’t that through to 2027 ? It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what Ukraine would need to actually win the war. I’m not sure what that figure is but I figure at least a guaranteed 100 billion per year for the next five years in order to have a chance.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that the Ukraine needs about $5 billion a month to keep going. So when that $60 billion was first brought up that would have been enough for a year and they should have not needed more till after the November election was over. Odd to think that when it was first brought up, that $60 billion was seen as an outrageous amount of money.

        1. Wukchumni

          …why did the chicken cross the road in Kiev?

          No one knows. But the road will have its vengeance!

            1. ambrit

              Then there is Chicken Little Kiev. (Really worried about the impending arrival of “The Little Red Hen” from, where else, Moscow.)

        2. OnceWere

          That five billion a month is I think the bare minimum to fund the Ukrainian government. They’d need a lot more than that to train and equp the half a million mobilization that they’ve been talking about, construct new fortifications to hold the Russians off for 2024, and rebuild an offensive force for 2025.

    3. eg

      The money doesn’t mean anything if there’s nothing to buy with it.

      In this case I suspect that the attraction is recycling of the funds via n-many grifts — might as well loot the place, eh?

  13. Dr. John Carpenter

    Beefing with a celebrity seems like the kind of catnip Trump can’t resist. Sign. Trumpies vs. Swifties. Is this what we’ve come to?

    1. pjay

      Hey, it may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS… and any other network covering such a “newsworthy” feud.

      Taylor strikes me as a very astute business woman. I hope she was paying attention to what happened with the Bud Light campaign. Or maybe she remembers what happened to the Dixie Chicks back when she was a young teen aspiring to be a star.

      1. Objective Ace

        >Taylor strikes me as a very astute business woman

        At a certain point, does it even matter? She’s a billionaire. She can say or endorse whomever she wants and it wont have any bearing on her standard of living now or in the future

        1. ChrisPacific

          Ask Jacinda Ardern how bad it could get (and it would be many times worse for Swift).

          No, she can’t be touched financially, but she could be driven off social media and out of public spaces, harassed, assaulted, assassinated etc. Powerful women – especially young and/or pretty women – in her position who are too free with their opinions are routinely threatened with all of this and more. She probably has the resources to protect herself, but she could be under siege pretty much indefinitely, and it wears on you eventually.

          This is almost certainly going on already to some extent, given the reactions we’ve seen so far.

      2. FlyoverBoy

        She’s undoubtedly a very astute business woman, but I also get a sense that she has a genuinely acute moral compass. Her deft move to retake control of her early library has all the earmarks of being ultimately driven by sincere moral outrage. She’s also said to be very considerate of her fans, beyond commercial necessity. We’ve become so inured to expecting utter insincerity from famous people that we don’t even consider the other possibility anymore.

        1. Carolinian

          If she endorses Biden I for one will question her moral compass and I know nothing about her.

          It does seem as though she is suddenly everywhere. I guess people once said the same about The Beatles.

          1. Felix_47

            I think it is general ignorance. She probably does not have much time for reflection or reading. I see that among my family and friends. And other culprits include golf, televised football, video games etc.

    2. Lee

      “Trumpies vs. Swifties. Is this what we’ve come to?”

      That might be more than a bit more interesting that Trump vs. Biden.

  14. lyman alpha blob

    From the amicus briefs –

    The events of January 6 unfortunately bear closer resemblance to what happens in some of the world’s weakest democracies.

    So does trying to use the spooks and the courts to remove an unfavored but popular political party or candidate. Just sayin’. Ukraine and Pakistan got nothing on You-essay!

    And a small quibble – I’d argue not that “our democracy” is in a parlous state, but that we lost it quite some time ago. Much like home Rome’s Republic disappeared, the exact date is uncertain. Kind of like how Hemingway went bankrupt – gradually, then suddenly. I’d hold W and Cheney responsible for the suddenly, not Trump.

    1. nippersdad

      Agreed about W and Cheney, but I think, unlike Rome, a precise date could be posited; it would be when Pelosi took impeachment off the table.

      Apologies if that is a Putin talking point. Apparently so many of them are these days (according to her) that one has difficulty keeping up.

  15. JM

    About the new screenshot of a Twitter post, it looks good to me, though I don’t know that I can detect a significant difference from ones in yesterdays post. I’m on Linux using Firefox, fwiw. I don’t know how workable this is, but I think if there are larger format images the most user-friendly thing to do would be to have those be links to the full size image. Either way it works for me.

    1. Tom B.

      This (Dana Parrish) screenshot looks fine, somewhat crisper than yesterdays David Berger example which had an embedded chart with tiny text that was very blurry. Not sure whats going on, though apparently recent MacOS versions have started to do weird things with font smoothing on non-retina displays. I’m on an iPad Air, latest IOS.

      I no longer click on schitter links (waste of time now and nitter has been blocked by schitter) so the screenshots are very helpful to me.

    1. TX crazy not crazy

      Where did that Trump Abbott photo come from? Abbott masked?

      I had same thought with the Governors letter but not the subsequent Trump tactic in mind.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Response to Elmo’s “checking in” post underscores U.S. mental health crisis”

    I would be guessing that the Biden White House would be leaning on the producers not to ask this question again before November and have the media quickly get this story out of public sight. The implications of the reaction to that simple tweet are too awful. They certainly would not want to see this happen in a coupla months time and have that story get away from them. It is like that tweet from the US Army not that long ago asking vets what the Army did for them – only to be deluged with responses from vets talking about ruined health, wrecked joints, constant back pains, trouble breathing, etc.

    1. Lee

      Elmo is a phking puppet puppet FCS! OTOH I am reminded of the wire monkey experiment. Elmo is soft and friendly, the basic sustenance providing wire monkey economy is not.

      “Harlow found that the infant monkeys spent significantly more time with the terry cloth mother than they did with the wire mother. When only the wire mother had food, the babies came to the wire mother to feed and immediately returned to cling to the cloth surrogate.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Elmo is a puppet who is not real. The question posed under the Elmo account was real and touched a raw nerve to all too many people. You look for the truth where you find it and I once found a very good piece of advice in a Hagar the Horrible cartoon a long time ago of all places.

  17. clarky90

    Re; “Response to Elmo’s “checking in” post underscores U.S. mental health crisis”

    I was listening to our National Radio (NZ’s PBS) and there was a talk about “Health Anxiety”.

    In a nutshell, the argument was….

    If you feel unwell or sick, and the doctors cannot diagnose a specific Dis-Ease, then you are “crazy” (suffering from aka…”Health Anxiety”) and you therefore require psychological intervention. (if you can afford it?)

    “Psychology” is the neo-witchcraft!. The instant explanation for every “unknown”.

    “Do you feel like shit? I have no idea why (!)… It’s gotta be a psychology deficiency! easy…, now off you go”

    “Next patient please.”

  18. herman_sampson

    It might be simplistic, but referring to yesterday’s article about psychology, would the hegemonic PMC be extrensically motivated and the exceptional PMC are intrinsics? My limited experience yields that “MAGA” types are actually a mix of extrinsics and intrinsics (besides which the answers to “why vote for trump?” are Hillary and Brandon.

  19. Wukchumni

    We collectively own around 404,000 acres of largely pristine land right behind me-in fact, never developed aside from a few roads and a fairly extensive trail system.

    It’ll never be sold to an Illionaire…

    1. Lee

      But never forget where you live: “[U.S. President] Jackson deployed an army major to tell the Choctaw and Cherokee Indians to leave their territory, promising them that they’d be allowed to stay in their new territory, “as long as the grass grows or water runs.” For generations of American Indians, the phrase has become a symbol for American duplicity.” From A People’s History of the United States.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Will Rogers – who was born as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation – said that the government kept their promise. He said that they sent those Indians to a region where the grass did not grow and the water never ran.

  20. Lee

    “NOTE This is another attempt to cut down on jaggies from text screen dumps. Readers?”

    WTF are “jaggies”? Looked it up on the search engine currently known as “Google” and got this:

    ‘”Jaggies” is the informal name for artifacts in raster images, most frequently from aliasing, which in turn is often caused by non-linear mixing effects producing high-frequency components, or missing or poor anti-aliasing filtering prior to sampling.’

    It appears that the language of today is leaving me behind. Chaucer, then Shakespeare and now me. What’s the world coming to?

  21. The Rev Kev

    Today in totally unexpected news-

    Several months ago there was a pro-Palestinian rally on the steps of the Opera House in Sydney. Some people claimed that they heard some of them shouting ‘Gas the Jews!’ and based on that report, some States announced that they were ready to crack down on speech laws. Well the NSW Police put in a report this week. After going through all the audio of that evening with a fine tooth comb, they found that it never happened. Nobody said any such thing. Of course if at a pro-Israeli protest somebody shouts ‘Kill the Arabs!’ which is almost a slogan, nobody will like reporting that one.

  22. ambrit

    North American Deep South Mini-Zeitgeist Report 2.0.
    Gained access to motorized transport for a while and spent the weekend doing bulk cargo purchases and transport.
    The decline is noticeable now.
    Item: The KIA auto dealership on the second rate main drag here closed several weeks ago. The manager at the KFC next to it said that there was no “Going Out of Business” sale. One Friday evening, the signs came down, and the next week everything was shipped off to parts unknown.
    Item: A local Coffee Shoppe moved across the street, also on the second main drag, from an old Sonic drive in site to a long empty auto dealership site. The old showroom is the seating area, with tons of plate glass windows fronting the street. The kitchen was added in at the old service bays area. The ‘renovations’ took over a full year. Completed in fits and starts. Business there looks good so far. A try at creating a “Public Space?”
    Item: Drivers are more demented than two years ago. I’m now driving like a “little old lady” from purely self preservation desires. Turn signals are now a “lost art.”
    Item: The old Jiffy Lube site on the main drag has now been surrounded by six foot tall chain link fence and is filling up quickly with new looking cars. A side effect of the auto loan fiasco?
    Item: A lot more street corner beggars than ever before.
    Item: The ‘Poor area” (where we live,) Comcast office has closed. One now needs to drive four miles across town to the retail area adjacent to the gated communities and exurbs to do business with them. Our card was hacked, so I wanted to pay the bill in cash. A hyper modern retail front with five ‘salespeople’ in it. None of them could handle the bill. I had to insert bills into an ATM clone machine. It also accepted cards and various “Pay Schemes.” None of the people could help with any problems. Everything was handled remotely. They were there strictly as sales staff. Also, the machine did not give change. Overages were credited to the next bill. How thoughtful!
    Item: Mask wearing is up, but mainly among the older and ‘vulnerable’ cohorts. The young seemed to be “enjoying their freedom.” I don’t think that ‘Freedom from Intelligence’ was one of Roosevelt’s mottos.
    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
    Stay safe.

      1. ambrit

        Seeing as “Stranger in a Strange Land” was more in the lines of a religious oriented plot, I’m gravitating to this being a “Jackpot” related progression. I am now fully convinced that “The Jackpot” has begun and is ‘progressing’ nicely. Watch the next few Coronavirus variants closely.
        Also, I am feeling my age. I realized recently that the world that I grew up in is now fully dead. Sort of like how a Mid Victorian might have felt during the later days of the Edwardian period. Something bad looms just up ahead. For them it was WW-1. For us…?
        Stay safe on your defensible island. (Is a Tasmanian Politician anything like the Loony Tunes ‘Tasmanian Devil?’)

        1. The Rev Kev

          That’s the thing about life. The only constant in it is change. Nothing really stays the same whether it is people, places, cultures, etc. I was looking at photos from when I was young and suddenly realized that everybody in those photos would be aged by now or just gone. Creepy and sad that. Look at the changes that somebody born as the Greatest Generation went through. Prosperity as kids in the 20s, misery in the 30s as the Great Depression took hold, world war in the 40s entailing military service and by the 50s there was growing prosperity in America. And that was just in the first half of their lives. The only real good thing about change is that it enables growth and development. Sure, we live in dark times. Our present elites think that they now control everything and it will be this way forever but the elites of the past would like a quiet word with them.

          1. ambrit

            As I told the sisters after Mom passed recently; “Now we are the elders of our society.” I don’t think they liked that idea.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Got the same thing here with my brothers and sister as all the older generations are now gone. A side effect is that we are all probably wondering who will drop off their perch first. Better not mention that to your sisters.

              1. ambrit

                Nor do I want to go to the High School Fiftieth Reunion bash this year. It would feel a bit too much like a visit to ‘Undead High.’

        2. Pat

          I sometimes relate a story about going to town with my grandfather as a child and then as a late teen, figure just a couple of years over a decade. He was a small business owner and went to purchase product and bank. When I was young my grandfather, who was a social chap, was known, was happily greeted and treated with respect. But then so were the other customers I saw. The later trip was different. He was an annoyance and barely worth their time, his deposits weren’t high enough and his business wasn’t lucrative enough to even be polite. And once again same with others I saw at these businesses. This was the 60’s to the 70’s in less urban NM. And though much of this is about my unhappiness at seeing a beloved grandfather treated so badly, as I said it wasn’t just him it was the new SOP, and it was toxic. It left me with discomfort and distrust of the new American business ethic. That sense that people were only commodities in the MBA world and that it would be destructive has proven over time to be pretty on the money.
          American life, and in particular the ever increasing disrespect shown to average humans just doing what they can to get by are daily attacks on the spirit. People may not consciously know that they are no better than livestock which are only as valuable as the product they produce for their owners as far as the government and controlling powers are concerned, but deep down they get it.

          1. ambrit

            Yes indeed. Elites play with fire when they assume that people in general are stupid. Being stupid assumes an inability to learn from mistakes and new data. Most people, given the chance, can figure things out.
            I too remember the time when business relations were nowhere as toxic as is the case today. Functioning societies incorporate cooperation as basic working principles. When Social Darwinism takes hold, the society, as a society, is doomed.

        3. kareninca

          Either the next few coronavirus variants, or the upshot of the latest surge. So very many people have been infected this time around; I am wondering what they will be experiencing in three to six months. If there is a marked effect it will be a lot of people; it may be the end of the “time of pretending”.

          1. ambrit

            Sort of like the “Sitzkrieg” in 1939-40 Europe at the beginning of WW-2.
            See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoney_War
            After that, all H— broke out.
            For the Pandemic, we might be entering the phase of “aggressive opportunistic infections.”
            Add to the above the reported phenomena of “unavailable” pharmaceuticals on a large scale and we encounter a “perfect storm” situation.

  23. Carolinian

    I finally caught up with Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers which I thought was excellent–a kind of The Browning Version meets the early 1970s. It’s funny how a trip back to era can make themes like class conflict and antiwar so much more vivid than they are now. Anyhow, highly recommended.

  24. JBird4049

    >>>When that [glassbowl] Woodrow Wilson jailed Eugene Debs, one can argue that he could have treated Debs as an insurrectionist. That he did not argues that in fact Section Three is a dead letter (until it came alive again when Democrats and Never-Trumpers, desperate to find a work-around to the ballot, innovated).

    I can easily make the argument that the Woodrow Wilson Administration was the criminal here with the Creel Committee’s actions and the Palmer Raids. Making mere speech insurrectionist was probably too large a step even for them even though their mass censorship, deportations, and closing of many newspapers and magazines was more suppressive than anything (yet) done today.

    I think far too many Americans find it really easy to demand that someone be declared an insurrectionist or some other term like fascist. There is a very good reason why treason is defined in the Constitution as:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    There are good reasons why the Constitution has such strict definitions and limits on punishments. Saying that someone is an insurrectionist is one slight step to saying that they are traitors andor saying that they should be punished for it as well. But it is convenient and easy to shout the charges. And strangely, I haven’t seen a federal trial yet on Orange Menace being a traitor or an insurrectionist. We do still have a federal judiciary and Congress can still impeach people, yes?

    It is like with the Emoluments Clause with its prohibition of taking compensation from foreign governments being ignored or interpreted into meaninglessness by the courts. Presidents, Congress critters, and their families have taken millions of dollars in bribes from foreign companies and companies.

    The rules, even from the Constitution, are now twisted and played with for profit and political convenience without any thought or foresight to the consequences. It is not about the law or democracy at all.

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