2:00PM Water Cooler 2/15/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I have some household matters to attend to, so I’m afraid this Water Cooler doesn’t have the depth of coverage I would like. –lambert P.S. That Rasmussen poll under Class Warfare is important.

Bird Song of the Day

Purple Finch (Eastern), Hammond Hill State Forest, Tompkins, New York, United States. “Mimickry includes Cardinal, Robin, Goldfinch, Flicker, Towhee, Titmouse, Waxwing, Barn Swallow. Other Behaviors: Mimicry. Habitat: Deciduous Forest.” Wow!!!

* * *


“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Lambert here: I added another “Constitutional Order” section: “Convention.” This keeps happening….

The Constitutional Order (Insurrection)

“Presidential primary ballots are headed to Colorado voters. Here’s what to know” [Colorado Sun]. “Ballots are on their way to voters for Colorado’s March 5 presidential primary, listing options from former Republican President Donald Trump on the GOP ballot…. It’s unknown when the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the Colorado lawsuit seeking to keep Trump off the ballot. If the court issues a ruling disqualifying Trump before the primary, it would mean votes for him wouldn’t be counted. If that happens, Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams said the GOP plans to award delegates via the caucus and assembly process. ‘That’s sort of our backup plan,’ he said, though he acknowledged it could be challenged. But if a disqualifying ruling comes after March 5, the votes would be counted. And Trump would be banned from the general election ballot in Colorado.”

The Constitutional Order (Convention)


Less than a year to go!

* * *

“Democrats are sticking with Biden — no matter what the pundits say” [MSNBC]. “While they may not realize it, those suggesting that Biden should step down are asking Democrats to go into November with an unpopular, less-tested vice president, whose 2020 campaign didn’t even make it to a single caucus or primary…. Perhaps a diverse and complex political party can quickly unite behind a consensus candidate with no skeletons in their closet, no clear liabilities, and extraordinary charisma that would appeal not just to Democrats but also to independents and Never Trump Republicans. Suffice it to say, the chances of that happening are a lot less than 50 percent.”

Spook Country

“The Eyes Have It: U.S. Intelligence Allegedly Asked Foreign Countries to Surveil Trump Associates” [Jonathan Turley]. “There is a disturbing report published on Michael Shellenberger’s Public Substack detailing how the U.S. intelligence community called upon foreign governments to target associates of Donald Trump before the 2016 election. The request to the ‘Five Eyes’ agencies (the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) appears to have come from Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan…. The role of Brennan is intriguing. Brennan was the one who briefed President Barack Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged ‘plan’ to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as ‘a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.’ … Brennan also signed the infamous letter warning that the Hunter Biden laptop had all of the markings of Russian intelligence, a letter that he later admitted was ‘political.’ … Once again, this is still the early reporting and we need to have more confirmation on these facts. However, Congress should be interested in whether the origins for the Russian investigation began with nudges from American intelligence in 2016 to the ‘Five Eyes.'”

“Sources Say U.S. Intelligence Agencies Tasked Foreign Partners With Spying On Trump’s 2016 Campaign” [The Federalist]. “Sources also claimed, according to Tuesday’s article, that “President Barack Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, had identified 26 Trump associates for the Five Eyes to target.” According to the journalists, a source confirmed the IC had “identified [those associates] as people to ‘bump,’ or make contact with or manipulate,” and claimed the individuals were “targets of our own IC and law enforcement — targets for collection and misinformation.” • Brennan’s name keeps coming up.

The Wizard of Kalorama™

“Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will” [New York Times]. From 2012, when the Obama Administration changed the name of the “kill list” to the “disposition matrix.” More: “Beside the president at every step is his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, who is variously compared by colleagues to a dogged police detective, tracking terrorists from his cavelike office in the White House basement, or a priest whose blessing has become indispensable to Mr. Obama, echoing the president’s attempt to apply the ‘just war’ theories of Christian philosophers to a brutal modern conflict.” • There was, IIRC, another hagiographical article that compared Brennan to a priest in even more fulsome terms. One of the signs in 2008-2009 of what Obama was to become — or always was — was that he nominated Brennan to a position requiring Senate confirmation, and Democrats, who had weaker stomachs then than they do today, recoiled at Brennan’s pro-torture record. So Obama withdrew his nomination and stashed him somewhere in The Blob, hence Brennan’s “cave-like” office in the White House. Brennan is not a nice person at all. I’d also be surprised if he was freelancing on the “Five Eyes” request — or that Obama didn’t know about it.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“The Bidens, Obamas and Clintons share Valentine’s Day messages” [The Hill]. “The Bidens, Obamas and Clintons are all spreading the love — sharing mushy messages of adoration for their spouses on Valentine’s Day.” I don’t think that’s fair. Treacle isn’t mushy. Here are the Obamas: “‘How did I get so lucky?’ Obama wrote in a message posted on X. ‘Happy Valentine’s Day to my best friend,’ the 44th president wrote to Michelle Obama, sharing a snapshot of him and the former first lady walking hand-in-hand on a beach. Michelle Obama returned the sentiment with her own warmhearted words for her husband, whom she married in 1992. ‘Every year with you gets better and better,’ Obama wrote, alongside a slideshow featuring photos of the pair set to the 1968 Young-Holt Unlimited tune ‘Soulful Strut.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Poor and Low-Income Voters Are a Sleeping Giant” [ScheerPost]. “The Poor People’s Campaign is organizing to push the concerns of poor and low-income people into the center of the 2024 political debate. Their goal is to mobilize 15 million ‘infrequent’ poor and low-income voters….. These and other organizers in more than 30 states are ready to put on their door-knocking shoes in the lead-up to this year’s election and beyond. ‘We are not an insurrection,’ Bishop Barber said. “But you better believe we are a resurrection — a resurrection of justice and love and righteousness.'”


“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!

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The end of the era of testing?

I’d say the ending of public health. (It bugs me that everybody who writes on this topic treats public opinion as spontaneous and organic, when it’s clearly been shaped by an enormous and effective propaganda campaign.)


“How Risky Are Repeat COVID Infections? What We Know So Far” [Scientific American]. “‘However you slice it, whatever long-term health effect you look at, the risk [from reinfection] is not zero,’ says Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. ‘The truth is that, yes, we’re sick and tired of the virus, we’re sick and tired of the pandemic—but it’s still here. It’s still hurting people.'” • JFC. I’m sick and tired of people saying they are sick and tired, especially epidemiologists. Maybe — hear me out — work the problem instead of bleating about how hopeless it is?

Elite Maleficence

“Opinion Biden’s new CDC director is the right person to lead the agency” [Leana Wen, WaPo]. From 2023, still germane. “One other significant attribute Cohen brings is her close ties to White House officials, most notably Biden’s chief of staff, Jeffrey Zients. Such connections might raise eyebrows of observers who believe the CDC should be an independent entity, divorced from political leadership. But these critics should look to covid-19 as an example of how public health officials need to consider more than just science when making complex policy decisions.” • Of course Wen espouses that pernicious idea of a balance between business-as-usual and public health, a balance to be set, at least in public, by the public health establishment, that somehow always seems to turn into 100% business and 0% public health (as we saw recently at the CDPH). It’s enough to turn me against the adminstrative state.

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot February 12: Regional[2] Biobot February 12:
Variants[3] CDC February 3 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC February 10
New York[5] New York State, data February 14: National [6] CDC February 5:
National[7] Walgreens February 12: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic February 3:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC January 22: Variants[10] CDC January 22:
Weekly deaths New York Times February 3: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times February 3:


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] (Biobot) No backward revisions. The uptick is real (at least to Biobot).

[2] (Biobot) Biobot data suggests a rise in the Northeast. MRWA data does not suggest that, as of February 8:

Here, FWIW, is Verily national data as of February 14:

And regional data for HHS Region, the Northeast:

[3] (CDC Variants) “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] (ER) Does not support Biobot data. “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] (Hospitalization: NY) A little slowing of the decrease could be a flattening, consistent with Biobot data. Let’s wait and see.

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC) Still down “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] (Walgreens) 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] (Cleveland) Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Swift rise of JN.1.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US fell by 8,000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised value to 212,000 on the period ending February 9th, firmly below market estimates of 220,000. It was the lowest reading in nearly one month, adding to the latest jobs report that indicated historical tightness in the US labor market, thus maintaining the leeway for the Federal Reserve to remain hawkish.”

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the US edged down 0.1 percent from the previous month in January 2024, missing market expectations of a 0.3 percent growth after recording no change in December. Manufacturing output, which accounts for 78% of total production, fell by 0.5 percent, compared with forecasts of a flat reading and mining output dropped by 2.3 percent due to winter weather. On the other hand, output from utilities soared by 6 percent as demand for heating surged following a move from unusually mild temperatures in December to unusually cold temperatures in January.”

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index climbed to -2.4 in February 2024 from -43.7 in January 2024 and compared to market forecasts of -15. Still, the reading remained contractionary, as new orders declined modestly (-6.3 vs -49.4) and unfilled orders continued to shrink (-9.6 vs -24.2).”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US rose 16 points to 5.2 in February 2024, its first positive reading since August, better than market forecasts of -8. This is only the index’s fourth positive reading since May 2022.”

Retail: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US shrank 0.8% month-over-month in January 2024, reversing from a downwardly revised 0.4% rise in December, and worse than market forecasts of a 0.1% fall. It is the biggest decrease in retail sales since March last year, primarily driven by the aftermath of the holiday shopping season and cold weather.” • But presumably all those shipping containers arrived on the West Coast for a reason?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Extreme Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 15 at 1:00:40 PM ET.


“Effect of exercise for depression: systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials” [BMJ]. “Exercise is an effective treatment for depression, with walking or jogging, yoga, and strength training more effective than other exercises, particularly when intense. Yoga and strength training were well tolerated compared with other treatments. Exercise appeared equally effective for people with and without comorbidities and with different baseline levels of depression. To mitigate expectancy effects, future studies could aim to blind participants and staff. These forms of exercise could be considered alongside psychotherapy and antidepressants as core treatments for depression.” • Exercise as defined here involves a confounder: human contact. I’d be interested to hear what readers think of this. (One of my own recommendations, FWIW, has always been to get moving, no matter in what direction or how far. Depression wants to immobilize you, so the first step out of or away from it is mobility, IMNSHO.) Handy chart:

Class Warfare

The Republican pollster, Rasmussen, was commissioned to do a survey on class (presumably both to give Republicans talking points and a permission structure to talk about class in the first place). Here is the survey:

“Them vs. U.S.: The Two Americas* and How the Nation’s Elite Is Out of Touch with Average Americans” [The Committee to Unleash Prosperity Staff (!)]. NOTE * Hat tip, John Edwards (2004). From the Executive Summary:

The survey is a first-of-its-kind look at the views of the American Elite – defined as people having at least one post-graduate degree, earning at least $150,000 annually, and living in high-population density areas (more than 10,000 people per square mile in their zip code) – and compares them to what the average American thinks. The Elites represent 1% of the U.S. population but have an outsized voice on public policy in the United States, with their views seeming somehow to dominate the national conversation. This may be because it is the Elites themselves who determine what that conversation will be about on campus, in the legacy media, and corporate board rooms. Not surprisingly, these people talk about politics far more than most Americans. The data show that nearly a third of them (30%) talk about politics daily or almost every day. Just 9% of the voting public do. It is worth noting that members of the Elites who talk about politics daily have views that are even further removed from the opinions of the voting public. This is true even when the Elites self-identify as Republicans. They typically may be more conservative than Elite Democrats but they still have attitudes and opinions that are far removed from those of the typical American voter. The Elite class – regardless of party – is an exclusive club that sees and experiences America through a different lens than ordinary Americans.

These results confirm what people have long suspected: today, there are two Americas. One is wealthier, more highly educated, and attended the best schools. They put much more trust in big government “to do the right thing” and, by their own admission, benefit from more expansive government policies. They have also been hurt far less by the high inflation of the Biden presidency than those who live from paycheck to paycheck and are in the lower and middle classes.

This Grand Canyon-sized chasm between where every day Americans stand on the state of the country, expanding government power, draconian climate change solutions, and Joe Biden’s job performance may partly explain the Donald Trump phenomenon and his high approval ratings among working-class voters, who feel wholly connected with the rebellion against the arrogance of the ruling class Elites.

(If you want to see how a pro does class analysis, see “The Idea That the Republicans Can Become “The Party of The Working Class” Is Beyond Absurd.” The Bearded One’s starting point: “the identity of revenues and sources of revenue” (to simplify: wages? capital? salary? rent?). The CUPS staff and Rasmussen use income and credentials — a reasonable proxy to separate the working class from the PMC, but totally incapable of sorting for capital (and that’s not a bug, but a feature). Now, as far as cultural and political markers go, Rasmussen is useful. But never forget that its analysis is structurally flawed (and as this circulates out into the Republican FlexNet, watch for it. Of course, the Democrats don’t even have anything this good, being consumed by identity politics, designed to erase class even more thoroughly than Rasmussen did). Handy chart:

“America’s elites live in a world of their own” [Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe]. The deck: “The real ‘1 percent’ aren’t the superrich but those with influence, access, and a graduate degree.” • Classic Republican refocusing on those darn perfessors, and away from capital. Yes, the PMC are class enemies of the working class. But the Cossacks work for the Czar.

“‘Them vs. US’: Divide among elites and rest of country widening ahead of 2024 election: Rasmussen” [Just the News]. “The survey also found the most highly educated voters with advanced degrees are liberal-leaning and their policy positions are at odds with the rest of the electorate, which Rasmussen and conservative economist Steve Moore said during a briefing about the results on Friday…. Among the 1,000 elites surveyed, 73% of the elites were Democrats, and 14% were Republicans. The study also examined adults who attended either Ivy League colleges or ‘elite private schools, including Northwestern, Duke, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.'”

“Shocking survey reveals the reason elites are out of touch – and it isn’t why you think” [New York Post]. “What’s perhaps most troubling of all, however, is elites’ staggering surplus of self-confidence in government, a halfway decent proxy for themselves. Seventy percent of elites (double the number of average Americans) and 89% of super elites said they trust the government to do the right thing. ‘Out of touch’ barely describes this attitude. Arrogant is more accurate.”

“Obama’s Awful Elite Unveiled by Rasmussen” [The American Spectator]. Quite a deck: “A group of Americans must be marginalized if this country is going to survive.” More: “In other words, these are monsters who would plunge their fellow Americans into Third World tyranny and poverty and impose an unbearably low quality of life on the rest of us…. Of course, we’re stuck with a Republican Party that has yet to learn how to throw Democrat politicians up against a wall and force them to either repudiate this ‘elite 1 percent’ of Rasmussen’s definition or suffer the wrath of the rest of the country.”

News of the Wired

“How Deceptive Design Is Used To Compromise Your Privacy And How To Fight Back” [Conscious Digital]. “In 2022, we embarked on an unconventional experiment. We sent a data deletion request to each of the 600 data brokers listed on DataBrokersWatch.org to observe their reactions. This experiment allowed us to uncover numerous deceptive patterns and formulate effective countermeasures – strategies to bypass these dark patterns. Often, our countermeasures persuaded the companies to honor our deletion requests. When they didn’t, we escalated the issue to a government regulator (a process YourDigitalRights.org can handle for you). Looking back, the effort was worthwhile. We’ve noticed a trend towards better compliance among data-centric businesses. We detailed our findings in a presentation at the 2022 Good Tech Fest for those interested in learning more.” • A link to the Guide.

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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 TH:

TH writes: “Sadly, the stem is sharper than the little flowers—or former flowers, to be more precise.” It’s almost as if flowers are designed to catch the slightest breeze…. Flower photography is harder than it might seem!

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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. digi_owl

    All in all the PMCs see themselves as temporarily embarrassed billionaires.

    600 years since Robin Hood was first sung about, and not much has really changed.

    It gets tempting to embrace nihilism and get thoroughly sloshed.

    1. griffen

      They simply float along and forward no matter the economic twists, turns, and upheaval that comes along with say, the GFC in 2008-2009, or the Pandemic “lockdowns”..to such an extent that their wealth and status are never seriously at risk…

      Funny how these dates I list above also coincide with heavy lifting by the powers of the Federal Reserve…fill the punch bowl ! Lower the rates, expand those collateral parameters for urgent lending to your member institutions! Probably could conjure a better analogy but that’s off top of mind.

    2. Carolinian

      We talk about politics here at the Water Cooler every day so via Rasmussen we must be elites. Where’s my yacht? I like sailboats but don’t know how to sail so I’ll also need a crew.

      And re

      Obama didn’t know about it

      of course he knew about it. Obama and Trump had a thing going on ever since Trump called Obama a Kenyan and Obama made fun of Trump at the correspondent’s dinner with Trump, burning with rage, in the audience. Brennan was in on Russiagate from day one and as stated above he was Obama’s right hand man. No doubt Hillary was the initiator but they were always out to take care of Trump “Chicago style.”

      1. griffen

        I’d settle for a land yacht instead of an actual sea faring yacht, all things considered. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, but my grandmother had a Plymouth Newport that was an absolute tank of a car.

        You know from the song…”I got me a Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale and we’re about to set sail…I got me a car it seats about twenty…” Such a quirky hit from the B-52s…

        1. Carolinian

          It goes back to my childhood obsession with sailing ships and stories about them. Our library even had Theodore Roosevelt’s book about the frigate battles of the War of 1812. I seriously doubt that one’s still on the shelves.

          I do have a canoe but I’m not much of a swimmer or a sailor–should probably stay away from any boat that needs ballast to keep from falling over.

          1. jhallc

            I have more fun sailing a 14 foot, 50 year old “Sunfish” than I ever did crewing on a 35 footer. Maintenance is a lot cheaper and easier as well.

      2. Camelotkidd

        Naked Capitalism readers are mostly heterodox PMC’s who have become radicalized
        It’s small club and you are in it

        1. griffen

          I got thrown out of the club after the GFC in 2009 and they won’t let me back in the door…the two tiered after effects from the Obama admin and the Holder doctrine in action…Noted not for a lack of effort and concerted action, but management is not impressed by me generally speaking

    3. Feral Finster

      I would say that the PMC and the billionaire class do not have overlapping interests, because one represents management and the other capital.

      Moreover, one can operate a large business without a distinct ownership class (state-owned businesses, ESOPs and all coops come to mind), however one cannot so much as operate a hot dog stand without management.

      1. fjallstrom

        Given how Rasmussen cut to get a group dominated by the PMC, I figure the owners has on average lower education (they hire, they don’t need credentials to be hired) and also to a larger extent live on the countryside.

        If that wasn’t the case there would be no reason to cut the people making 150k a year without the credentials or while living in rural areas.

      2. Lefty Godot

        The PMC are to the billionaires as the consiglieres are to the dons, in Godfather parlance. They give advice and follow orders. In a state-owned system they would be the nomenklatura.

      3. jsn

        Ahh yes, but if you can erase class from the narrative the PMC will never know.

        Maybe the distinction between “the party” and “the inner party” is conscious awareness of the intent to erase “class” from the narrative.

  2. Tommy S

    Damn, that is so sad to me, that NGO’s and even street level people can claim the ‘sleeping giant’ with votes can change things. Vote for who?? And a majority voting can suddenly create systemic change? My god, that is laughable now. You even have majority democratic registered voters, actual voters, wanting a ceasefire three months ago, and stopping of arms sales. Did that matter? We’ve had a majority of actual voters in favor of some type of single payer…even with a large minority of registered VOTING republicans , since the Obama days. Did that matter? These are revolutionary and insurrection times, especially considering our war state, and climate change. To still hear this 80’s and 90’s mantra about ‘getting more people to vote’…..by actual working class people….just breaks my heart.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I think that a larger turnout to vote for candidates for state and local offices, but with massive undervoting for the top of the ballot, could be useful as evidence to the elites that the populace perceives that its interests are disregarded and is unhappy about it.

      This might also incentivize more “3rd party” activity to obtain ballot access to run candidates that might attract the withheld “top of ballot” votes.

    2. Acacia

      Did that matter?

      Indeed, it didn’t matter, and it won’t matter next time, either, because all of those voters still believe the parties actually care about and will respond to their wants and needs.

      The solution is simple — total boycott of the duoparty — but most voters are essentially fear- or hate-voters, so that won’t happen.

    3. eg

      Yeah, that 50% of the US electorate that doesn’t vote has fooled me before. I recognize that they still represent potential power in various forms, but current arrangements appear to be designed to ensure that it is never exercised.

  3. JM

    FYI that the graphic for the Walgreens positivity results got switched for the regional wastewater from Biobot.

    WI’s wastewater briefly bottomed out at a level equivalent to previous peaks, and now seems to be going back up. Fantastic work everyone, who’s for brunch? Mandy? Leana?

  4. Feral Finster

    “Democrats are sticking with Biden — no matter what the pundits say” [MSNBC]. “While they may not realize it, those suggesting that Biden should step down are asking Democrats to go into November with an unpopular, less-tested vice president, whose 2020 campaign didn’t even make it to a single caucus or primary….

    One the one side, they probably should have thought of nominating a less unpopular insurance policy…..

    One the other, its not as if Team D ever cared what the voters think.

    1. Ferlinghett's Ghost

      Ode to a political punchbowl

      Eminence Grease,
      creation of the elite,
      voice burned by cocaine lines,
      runined San Francisco with Harris,
      horse and carriaged other’s wives,
      buoyed by marriage to billionheiress,
      have you heard?, a bankrupted state,
      spread the word before he replaces
      Biden’s #2 political turd

    2. ChrisFromGA

      It’s a reasonable gamble, as the basic rule for a DNC puppet/stand-in is:

      (1) a complete tool of the MIC; and
      (2) a complete tool for corporate interests; &
      (3) Pro-Israel; &
      (4) Hates Russia; and
      (5) Electable; and,
      (6) Ideally, at least a member of some minority/aggrieved group.

      Might be a tough ask. Maybe Hillary? Nah, she fails on (5)

      Father time may catch up with Joe before the election, or the convention. A geometric progression of his cognitive decline could mean a catabolic collapse arrives before November.
      Big risk, big reward.

      Sticking with Scranton Joe is kind of like Z defending Adveyevka, now that I think of it.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    The American Spectator article.

    Oh: “Before 2008, there had never been a successful effort to marry the pieties and fetishes of the moneyed elite with a mass popular appeal. Previous efforts at doing so — for example, the failed presidential campaigns of George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry — had been miserable failures.”

    Scott McKay blames it all on Obama. Come on. So the plan is to replace the out-of-touch elite with the borderline irrational McKays of this world?

    Note the mentions in the article to the dangers of socialism. So the choice is between the radical chic of the University of Laputa with he-men like McKay veering toward McCarthyism? Include me out.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      consider the source (and I’m not defending the 1 percent):

      Stephen Moore, a veritable poster-boy of the 1 percent, born in poverty-stricken Winnetka, Illinois

      Founder of Club for Growth. Notice the cameo by comic intellectual Arthur Laffer.


      Moore admits that the poll was commissioned by Committee to Unleash Prosperity, another scam that he founded:


      I’ve run more than one search by Duck Duck Go and can’t get to the original poll results. What a coinkydink.

      As someone who no longer lives in Illinois, I was reminded how spoiled, whiny, and skeezy rich people from Illinois are: Sam Zell, Bruce Rauner, the Uhleins, that Griffen guy who decamped to Florida because he didn’t want to pay state income tax. The North Shore is chockablock with goons like these.

      I’m not exactly defending “Pitchfork Defense” Obama, Hillary “War Is Good” Clinton, and Joe “Genocide Lite” Biden. But with adversaries like Moore, it’s going to take someone besides discontented white boys to dislodge the mess that is the U.S. ruling class.

      1. lambert strether

        I don’t think the analysis is right, as I explain, nor would I want to hang out with anything called “the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.”

        But it’s interesting that they’re doing this, and it will also be interesting to see how it propagates. Maybe somebody like JD Vance will pick it up and run with it.

        It’s also interesting in that they’re identifying the PMC as the class enemies of the working class, given that the PMC is the Democrat base. (Given that the PMC are not the ruling class, but the governing class, the ruling class — oligarchs — will remain firm in the saddle. Don’t you worry about that!)

        1. ambrit

          “Cry Havoc! and unleash the dogs of Prosperity?” [Somehow, the original version, “…let slip…” instead of my ‘doctored’ “…unleash…” doesn’t have the same cachet. “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of prosperity!” Prosperity is indeed “slipping away” from most of us.] But then, as usual, “…they …..are honourable…” Thus doth villainy ever wear the false face of virtue.

        2. Carolinian

          The poll sounded right to me. Of course the wealthy are more engaged in politics because they have all their money at stake. For the poor freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.

          Surely this “engagement gap” is the reason the dreadful Dems are still holding on. So Trump is likely to win if he makes it to the election but that might not translate for his party.

          Long ago Tom Ferguson in The Nation said if everybody voted we’d have a completely different country. The Dems claim to want this of course, but only in the states they feel sure to carry. For the Bird of Prey disengagement is what they really want–both parties.

      2. griffen

        You got me with Stephen Moore…blech…for a quick, polite edit that was Ken Griffin of Citadel who moved his operations to Miami…

  6. Neutrino

    However, Congress should be interested in whether the origins for the Russian investigation began with nudges from American intelligence in 2016 to the ‘Five Eyes.’

    They should be, based on normal person standards. They won’t be, based on Congressional standards.
    Too many in Congress vote based on their donors, or on favors owed, or on whispered extracurricular influences.

    If the Five Eyes story gets blown open into the conventional media and the public gets exposed to the misdeeds, then there is a slight chance for reform.

    1. camelotkidd

      Russia-gate was always predicated on 5-eyes spying because that’s how the national security state goes about espionage
      You spy on me and report back and I will do likewise

    1. begob

      Movement is an expression of dopamine. Base level dopamine is increased by cold exposure. Take a cold shower, clap your hands together, and get things done! (Naked or otherwise.)

      1. Feral Finster

        “Movement is an expression of dopamine. Base level dopamine is increased by cold exposure.”

        The good people of North Dakota ought to be silly with base level dopamine, then.

        For that matter, doesn’t Finland have some of the highest suicide rates in the world?

        Not trying to be difficult.

          1. JBird4049

            When you are at your most depressed, you often are unable to even get out of bed, forget making a sandwich. It is when you are less depressed and able to make a sandwich, but still in horrible, seemingly unending agony, that you are both more able and still willing to kill yourself.

            This is why a good doctor pays close attention to someone trying antidepressants for the first time. But really, any effective treatment for depression needs that attention and lots of sunshine and outdoor activities is often an effective treatment.

        1. begob

          I don’t imagine all people in cold climates are doing regular plunges into icy water, so the generalisation comes unstuck. Cold exposure requires disruption of the breathing on shock of contact, and for the desired effect sufficient time for normalization of the breathing.

        2. Polar Socialist

          I’m happy to report that in 2023 Finland had dropped in global rankings to 35th place.

          Partly because the rate has actually halved since the 90’s, and partly because the rest of the world is starting to record theirs better regardless of the religious stigma. The pseudo-Lutheran Finland has recorded suicides more or less correctly since the end of the 18th century, while many Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim countries still prefer “accidents”.

      2. Lefty Godot

        Dopamine is kind of the “let me repeat myself” neurotransmitter that motivates repetitive thinking and actions, at least in a very broad brush picture. Which can be energizing. But there are at least 5 different types of dopamine receptors and several different anatomical pathways carry dopamine neurons, so the chances are they could be having opposing actions in different parts of the brain. All the catecholamines seem to be important for movement, but their effects on depression are still not well understood, maybe because depression is being defined in less than consistent or useful ways.

        The picture gets even muddier for the “chill out” neurotransmitter, serotonin, which seems to blunt your emotions, so they won’t get in the way of your navigating threatening situations. But there are at least 7 different kinds of serotonin receptors and the same multiplicity of anatomical pathways for serotonin neurons. If your depression is of the obsessive, agitated type, an SSRI may provide some blessed relief from the “noise” and overly reactive emotional aspects. But do you want to spend the rest of your life with blunted emotions? Yet SSRIs are prescribed to patients for years and years.

        So, the nervous system is complicated, doctors don’t really understand how it works in terms of people’s emotional states, and all the wonder cures for things like depression turn out to be overblown and too broad spectrum in their actions to be an appropriate long-term treatment.

    2. Otto Reply

      I wish the study had listed bicycling as a modality. Perhaps it’s lumped in with aerobic – especially if pursued vigorously. What’s nice is that cycling can be purposeful e.g. ride to the grocery store to fetch a few items and get the blood circulating and give the lungs a workout. It can be plain ol’ fun, too. Riding certainly elevates my mood. At least until some motorist nearly creams me since it’s no longer possible to make eye contact given the darkly tinted windows that are all the rage. Gets the blood pumping and I trend angry rather than depressed.

      1. flora

        Thanks. Bicycling is my fav. My onest upon a time cycling hope was making the Paris-Brest-Paris randoneur ride, the PBP ride. I doubt I’ll now ever manage it, but hope endures. / ;)

        1. flora

          and to make an entirely romantic reference, but why not, (life is not entirely quotidian), so here is a quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson from his romantic poem Idles of the King.

          “Though much is taken, much abides; and though
          We are not now that strength which in old days
          Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
          One equal temper of heroic hearts,
          Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
          To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

          And I promise you my strength as young bicyclist is much diminished now.

          1. flora

            adding: the tiny nagging thought at the back of my my mind of “not fair!” about aging and it’s attendant weaknesses leaves me torn between desire (for my younger days) and knowledge (about my current days). It’s a quandry, as they say. But yet, life as it is seems to win out. I still pedal my bike like mad in hopes of… but I’m not fooled by time itself, nor fooling time. Time and the river, as they say.

          1. Carolinian

            I once rode a bicycle down the Loire and have a souvenir photo of me standing in front of Chambord. It makes our ersatz French chateau, Biltmore, look quite lame by comparison.

            I’d say France in general is bike heaven. Something amazing is always apt to show up around the next bend. But it can be quite windy, as I found out when I switched to riding east to west.

            1. JohnA

              Sunday is very definitely cycling day in France, with lycra clad pelotons on every country road. And I mean peloton in the original French meaning, not the American exercise bike.

      2. NYT_Memes

        No mention of swimming either! Makes me wonder. Biking and swimming are two of the best forms of exercise, especially for those over 60. Though I love playing tennis, both tennis and running can be hard on the joints. Enough so that many eventually must quit. Then what do they do? Bike and/or swim.

      3. eg

        Any romance in bicycling was doomed for me since that summer as a 16 year old I had to ride my bike 8km to my job in a slaughterhouse/meatpacking plant. And then back home again after my 8 hour shift.

        No bueno.

  7. griffen

    MSNBC article, Democrats can’t quit Joe Biden…quit the wishful thinking. There is a comparison to 1968, when Johnson stepped aside; we get a mind blowing revelation that LBJ was kind of a jerk. Breaking alert…and Biden does not have a comparable streak of being likewise I guess?

    News you can use. Joe from Scranton, just a humble kind servant to his constituents in DE and a vow of lifetime poverty to serve in the US Senate. Vomit worthy.

    1. Carolinian

      LBJ–Caro’s Master of the Senate–was a Congressional creature just like Biden. His only experience of war was flying as an observer on one bombing mission in the Pacific. Biden of course didn’t do that much but there is lost Beau.

      But Lyndon was surely a lot more in touch with reality than Joe. He knew when to quit.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        LBJ saw the Senate as a tool. I don’t think he saw it as holy. Biden sees it in more sacramental terms.

    2. Permaculturalist

      Like the Vietnam War caused inflation caused by LBJ, The price of food for home consumption will determine the next election.

      “Because fertilizer is important for grain production, shortages and high prices affect the entire food supply chain. According to the 2022 Commodity Costs and Returns data from USDA’s Economic Research Service, fertilizer costs account for nearly 45 percent of operating expenses for U.S. wheat and corn farms.”

      Substitite “Biden’s sanctions” for “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” in the USDA article below and the source of inflation becomes evident.


      97% of American potash imports came from Russia before Biden banned it. That drives up the price of domestic fertilizer, like the new Koch owned plant.

    3. Notabanker

      I’m still sticking with my theory that the longer they wait to oust him, the easier it is to anoint the next chosen one. Attila the Hun could run against and he would still get creamed and they know it. But who knows maybe MSNBPravda knows better, lol.

  8. CA

    All along my block, and I assume entire neighborhood, fancy multi-page brochures are coming in the mail explaining how the “Chinese Communists” are out to sew election chaos through America. Of course, the New York Times today * tells us that a London based Think Tank has found a China Communist plan to sow chaos through election year America.

    This is appalling.

    * https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/15/business/media/chinese-influence-campaign-division-elections.html

    February 15, 2024

    Chinese Influence Campaign Pushes Disunity Before U.S. Election, Study Says
    A long-running network of accounts, known as Spamouflage, is using A.I.-generated images to amplify negative narratives involving the presidential race.

    1. Feral Finster

      If Putin or the “Chinese Communists” actually had these superpowers they are credited with, you’d think they would be able to come up with a better use for them other than “wreck stuff, just because”

      Even comic book supervillains came up with more productive goals than this.

      1. Pat

        And further justify the next un winnable proxy war, it worked so well with Russia/Ukraine.

        They really do have such a limited playbook, although I do have to give credit that this time they figured out that a hundred thousand dollars of Facebook ads probably wouldn’t cut it anymore as proof.

  9. Sub-Boreal

    Perhaps this fits with the attention given to polling today. Would certainly like to see a similar exercise done for Canada, Australia, etc. The final recommendation (policing by social media platforms) seems rather naive.

    The social anatomy of climate change denial in the United States (open access)


    Using data from Twitter (now X), this study deploys artificial intelligence (AI) and network analysis to map and profile climate change denialism across the United States. We estimate that 14.8% of Americans do not believe in climate change. This denialism is highest in the central and southern U.S. However, it also persists in clusters within states (e.g., California) where belief in climate change is high. Political affiliation has the strongest correlation, followed by level of education, COVID-19 vaccination rates, carbon intensity of the regional economy, and income. The analysis reveals how a coordinated social media network uses periodic events, such as cold weather and climate conferences, to sow disbelief about climate change and science, in general. Donald Trump was the strongest influencer in this network, followed by conservative media outlets and right-wing activists. As a form of knowledge vulnerability, climate denialism renders communities unprepared to take steps to increase resilience. As with other forms of misinformation, social media companies (e.g., X, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok) should flag accounts that spread falsehoods about climate change and collaborate on targeted educational campaigns.

    Maps (state & county)

    1. Kristy

      No need to travel to Russia, or any other country to judge it. Just fire up Google Street View and have a look around. Look at a certain intersection every few years when older images available to check the improvements.

      Want to see a domestic horror show? Look at Oakland, California streets today.

      1. Feral Finster

        Hell, compare downtown Kinshasa, Zimbabwe to Kensington in downtown Philadelphia.

        Philadelphia makes Kinshasa look positively thriving, well-dressed, well-scrubbed, well-mannered people going about their business.

  10. Jason Boxman

    Hospitalization is elevated from at least November, and is still elevated today. Indeed, it was elevated all of 2023 from the lows of 2022. It’s almost as if the situation continues to deteriorate. The CDC guidance change is almost perfunctory at this point; most people seem to believe the Pandemic ended, because they were told so, or because it was always believed to be a hoax, depending on your political persuasion. So I don’t know how much worse it might get merely because the CDC is recognized that it’s time to repeat what the Biden white house and the CDC already have sown.

    At this point, what happens seems entirely hostage to a trillion coin flips going on daily throughout the world, flips of a coin by SARS2 as it ever further masters the human body.

  11. JustTheFacts

    We need to stop calling them elites. That might be what they think of themselves as, but they’re not. They’re our ruling classes, and that’s something quite different.

    It’s a class that is educated, but blithely ignorant of what it doesn’t know, in fields as diverse as manufacturing, agriculture, other countries, etc. They’re the sort that think food “comes from the supermarket”. That’s why they declare “more weapons must be made for Ukraine”, issue more debt for this, and then are shocked that no new weapons appear, only that prices increase. Unfortunately, there’s a thing called reversal to the mean, and it applies to the children of the ruling class, just as much as it does to everyone else.

    1. JustTheFacts

      Lambert above distinguishes between a “ruling class” and a “governing class”, and prefers the latter term. I’m using Alastair Crooke’s terminology.

    2. Jus

      The governing class does not understand the following:

      There is no way of doing science, and indeed, there is no way of life altogether that avoids mistakes. To try to do that is a recipe for disaster because one does not then build in error correction mechanisms. Science is one gigantic error correction mechanism where we try to find out all our misconceptions, and we’re expecting even our most cherished beliefs eventually to turn out to be flawed in some way or another. So we have to be open to that, and we have to be ready to cope with the practical consequences of being wrong

      David Deutsch

      Instead they try to isolate themselves from it.

    3. chris

      I prefer to call them the “Insulated Class” – borrowed from Peggy Noonan. They are, as a whole, people who deserve a good beating. Not to drive any sense into their smug heads. But to teach them to respect the consequences of the casual violence they inflict on so many.

    4. eg

      They inhabit spreadsheet land and are utterly ignorant of real resource land. Molecules invariably surprise them.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Sources Say U.S. Intelligence Agencies Tasked Foreign Partners With Spying On Trump’s 2016 Campaign”

    It should be remembered that this was how the Five Eyes was designed to work. US law says that the US spook agencies cannot spy on their own citizens. So the US spooks will give an unofficial “tip” to their counterparts in one of the other Five Eyes so maybe Canada, New Zealand, the UK or Australia. That nation will then discover “stuff” going on and will alert the US spooks to this intelligence that they “stumbled” across. The US spooks will then have both the intel as well as perfect deniability. It’s how the system works.

  13. Jason Boxman

    The special counsel investigating Hunter Biden has charged a former F.B.I. informant with fabricating claims that President Biden and his son each sought $5 million bribes from a Ukrainian company — a stinging setback for Republicans who cited the allegations in their push to impeach the president.

    The longtime informant, Alexander Smirnov, 43, is accused of falsely telling the F.B.I. that Hunter Biden, then a paid board member of the energy giant Burisma, demanded the money to protect the company from an investigation by the country’s prosecutor general at the time.


  14. Tony Wikrent

    Rather than the horror Turley expresses about US intelligence agencies asking the intel agencies of other countries to “surveil” Trump associates, I want to put forward the observation that given Trump’s close association with Roy Cohn, it would have been malpractice NOT to make such requests.

    Or to put it another way, how would we want an intelligence agency to have dealt with Aaron Burr when Burr was running for president? Or how about dealing with Secretary of War Jefferson Davis in the 1850s as the sectional crisis worsened? Yeah, yeah, the people’s vote should matter ‘cuz it’s a democracy, yadda, yadda, but you have to deal with the real world, in which there are some genuinely evil people. So what’s an intelligence agency to do when one such appears headed for the highest office in the land? Or actually wins it?

    I suspect that much of the horror expressed about “Russiagate” comes from people who have a knee jerk reaction against intelligence agencies. It does not matter how evil the CIA, FBI, NSA are in turn. Are we to abolish any and all intelligence agencies?

    I have no doubt that there are many people who immediately answer with an emphatic “yes!” I would ask them to take the time to read James Fenimore Cooper’s The Bravo/ It is Cooper’s “novel” of how the secret service of Venice blackmails a poor man into being an assassin. At the very least, read Cooper’s Introduction; there is nothing fictional there at all.

    In the final analysis, the only real way to “guard the guardians” is to make sure that the doctrines and values of civic republicanism a suffused throughout the nation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I want to put forward the observation that given Trump’s close association with Roy Cohn, it would have been malpractice NOT to make such requests.

      If you think Trump’s association with Cohn was the driver here, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. As for “evil,” I’m with Madison:

      “If Men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

      It couldn’t be more clear that the intelligence agencies are not subject to the checks and balances architecture that Federalist Papers described. The spooks are unchecked, and if we are to have a Republic, they must be. That the Republicans are the ones taking on this task should embarrass liberal Democrats, were they capable of it, but I think they enjoy the power that the combination of spooks, press, and party gives them too much for that.

  15. Tony Wikrent

    Trump’s association with Cohn was indeed the driver of Trump’s behavior and character, because Trump was tutored in Cohn’s methods and philosophy of government. That process of acculturation in the dark recesses of government power and capability is the theme of Cooper’s Introduction to The Bravo.

    I do not think that the Republicans today are acting from any moral commitment to the good. Rather, their “taking on this task” is part of their partisan warfare against the Democrats. The excesses and coups of the CIA, for example, were committed as much, if not more, under Republicans as Democrats. The names Dulles. Helms, Colby and Casey come to mind. And then there is George Bush Sr., who was both CIA director and POTUS, encapsulating the old WASP establishment control of the government.

    As for it being “clear that the intelligence agencies are not subject to the checks and balances architecture that Federalist Papers described” — isn’t that what FISA Act of 1978 and the establishment of the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence was supposed to accomplish? Why has this system not worked? I think the Republicans were in the lead in ignoring and defeating this structure. Bay of Pigs, Nixon’s Vietnam October Surprise, and Reagan’s Iran-Contra are all examples of the Republican preference to run roughshod over any and all institutional and cultural barriers to their exercise of power.

    It is useful to look at the history of intelligence activities before the formal establishment of intelligence agencies, and especially the creation of the national security state, beginning with Franklin’s and Washington’s espionage operations during the Revolutionary War. Why were there no scandals arising from those operations, or from the Union Army and Pinkerton operations during the Civil War? I contend that a large part was that the guardrails of public duty as defined by civic republicanism were still in place and quite robust.

    And I think it is a mistake to assume that only the Democrats thought they would benefit from the RussiaGate operation. Trump is as much a danger to the Republican establishment as he is to the Democratic Party. For example, nobody yet has been much interested in seeing if there was a RussiaGate connection to the Bush family apparatus yet, but I suspect there are some important stories there waiting to be uncovered.

  16. Jorge

    About “Deceptive Design” and data brokers: I worked for a very large company that (among other things) tracks consumer purchases. We had to rejigger our data tracking systems to conform to CCPA and GDPR.

    All of these big consumer-facing companies have to respond to law enforcement and intelligence agency requests about the activity of named individuals. It’s a lot of expensive hand labor to respond to these. Of course, the big companies can push back at these agencies if the volume of requests becomes too onerous, or even charge for them. During this project, I realized something: by rearranging our data systems to conform to CCPA and GDPR, we made it much simpler and there cheaper to handle these privacy-sensitive requests. I do not have access to the request data, but I suspect the volume has gone up because the requests are now cheaper to handle.


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