2:00PM Water Cooler 2/26/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, please forgive this minimalist Water Cooler as I struggle to complete a post on Taylor Swift, Adele, and Covid, plus the pandemic insurance situation for performers. –lambert

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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 Desert Dog’s daughter:

Desert Dog writes: “My daughter writes…. 70 degree days have the flowers bursting 3-5 weeks early here in Missouri!”

And this:

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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. CaliforniaGee

    It’s about time: New effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom.

    “Last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office projected that the state budget faces a $73 billion deficit, nearly double Newsom’s own forecast.”

    Newsom is busy turning the state of California into a giant welfare refugee camp for automatically registered voters whenever they come in contact with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    Maybe the recall is just a trick to allow him to run instead of Biden?

    1. jm

      [Makes jacking off hand gesture]. Apologies for the crude image, but we truly are in the stupidest timeline. To be clear, I have nothing good to say about Newsom. As a life long Californian I have never voted for him and never will, but another attempted recall is pointless. The election cost of the last recall attempt in 2021 was an estimated $276 million (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-16/how-much-did-the-california-recall-cost-maybe-300-million) while having exactly a zero percent chance of success.

      So, the logic here is let’s punish the governor for overseeing a huge deficit by adding a couple, few hundred million to that deficit. Again with a zero percent chance of success. Yeah, that makes sense.

  2. Terry Flynn

    OK I will attempt to get people to compare reactions from their peers during recent months of “mysterious debilitating respiratory viruses”. Anecdata ahead so beware. I’ve overheard multiple people in supermarkets, when shopping for mum, remark on the huge levels of morbidity: Most recently a mother so exasperated by infections that she isolated her family for 3 days over a long weekend to stop bugs laying the household low.

    Masking has re-appeared in a major supermarket by all the middle aged/older staff. The sad thing is my FFP2 3M mask seems to indicate that *I* am the problem, rather than the fact that I’m wearing it to protect my impaired heart. Silver lining is that I’m not getting “accidentally on purpose” shopping trolleys (carts) banging into me so much these days. If you wanna stay 1 metre away from me then great!

    A close family member has almost certainly mirrored my long COVID experience and may be in early heart failure. Shops with frequent turnover of customers (hair salons and barbers) are being seized by landlords and closed overnight left right and centre in this part of Nottingham. Our main teaching hospital was in the Guardian regarding high levels of abuse from patients. The new “anchor store” for our suburb (selling basic groceries, non-regulated pharmacy goods, outdoor goods, electrical etc) has opened and my first visit suggested not a single staff member had any employment experience. “Failed state” sprung to mind.

  3. Tom Stone

    I finally watched the Aaron Bushnell video, it was not easy to do.
    The first violent deaths I witnessed were by fire, in the spring of 1963.
    BBQ baby back ribs were not on the menu for more than three decades.
    I am thankful to Karine Jeanne-Pierre for explaining that what’s happening in Gaza is DEFENSIVE genocide and thus OK, just as the US attacks on wedding parties were purely defensive in nature.
    The Video is a classic case of Mal Information, information that might lead the credulous and unsophisticated to question whether the slaughter and destruction enabled by the USA in Gaza is justified.
    Mr Bushnell’s actions were discourteous and disrespectful of both Israel and the US Administration and should be ignored by all because doing otherwise would make some important people uncomfortable.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Tom Stone: Aaron Bushnell’s sacrifice has bothered me all day long. Henry Moon Pie linked this morning to the Wikipedia entry on Thich Quang Duc, the first Buddhist monk to burn himself to death, in 1963, to protest repression in Vietnam. I am old enough to recall those images, which were shown on television.

      In the Wiki description, the writer David Halberstam notes that people in the crowd prostrated themselves.

      One wonders if we are indeed in the presence of a kind of divinity, an epiphany. And I write this as a bad Catholic and a bad Buddhist. Yet when true divinity erupts into the world, it disrupts.

      The powerful undoubtedly will try to hush this up. We wouldn’t want
      –soldiers disobeying orders and having ethics
      –young men killing themselves when they should be learning to fly drones
      –men pointing out that the U S of A is involved in two major proxy wars (and several other occupations and conflicts) when the president of the United States has more important things on his dwindling mind like his prowess in the bedroom, letting his dogs attack Secret Service agents, and channeling the country’s riches to be blown up overseas.
      –young men no longer believing the slogans.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Young men already are killing themselves at unseen before rates, deaths of “despair”. That’s not a sensible course were this really the land of opportunity. But it’s only opportunity for some.

      2. Carolinian

        Don’t they cover up everything now? They learned the lesson of the “television war.”

        I’m old enough too although I was a kid in 1963. Other famous images included the naked Vietnamese girl running from a napalmed village and the insurgent just after being shot in the head point blank by a S. Vietnamese police. This happened during Tet.

        Instead of real images we get fake images like the ones produced during the Syrian insurgency. So they don’t mind images and videos as long as they are fake.

        One could despair about all the lying but propaganda isn’t what it used to be as seen by the many on this blog who have seen the real images. I don’t think TPTB can keep up the facade forever and while Americans are famously indifferent to the rest of the world enough are noticing to make a difference.

        1. Dean Falk

          Carolinian most Americans & I am American are actually opposed to the genocidal Israeli war machine murdering 71 percent or more antiwar! Most men & women I meet are strongly antiwar bur are not in a position to stop the war machine

        2. Screwball

          Instead of real images we get fake images like the ones produced during the Syrian insurgency. So they don’t mind images and videos as long as they are fake.

          Real images… I’m old, I remember Nam. I missed the draft in 1973 by a year or I would have been gone – pulled #8. I knew many my age and older who ended up there. Many didn’t come back and not too many I knew came home the same. Years later at a garage party one night, people were talking about what it was like in Nam.

          One guy who was there – was there. He was a computer wiz at that time but several tours in Nam. You could tell he had demons – for lack of a better way to put it. He didn’t say anything at first. Someone brought up how they could kill innocent women and children. He coldly looked at this lady and said “don’t lead them as much.”

          I will never forget that, nor will I ever forget my buddies who still suffer for what they did to them. Screw war, and all those who promote it.

          I think I’ll spin up the songs Fortunate Son, and then Imagine. Our world is so sad.

          1. digi_owl

            As i understand it, after WW1 there was statistics done that found that most soldiers, who at the time was trained in marksmanship using round targets, would fire above the enemy to scare them rather than kill them.

            Based on that armies switched to training on pop up human torsos in order to make the act of shooting at a human reflexive.

            And there is all the stories about how newbies were welcomed to nam, and about how unless they survived a patrol without putting the rest of the platoon at risk they were considered a liability.

            Things like that, plus ages of data on cults and similar, makes one wonder if dropping someone into an isolated group ruled by a charismatic psychopath or narcissist will lead to the newcomer adopting similar behavior traits as a survival mechanism.

            And that in turn may make one ponder office politics if there is any truth to the claim that there are more psychopaths in corporate leaderships than there are in prisons.

            1. Screwball

              And that in turn may make one ponder office politics if there is any truth to the claim that there are more psychopaths in corporate leaderships than there are in prisons.

              Love it! Spent 30 years in Office Space.

              I played golf with a truck driver and a professor. Both did tours. Every once in a while they would talk about it. I was silent as a bug. I can’t imagine. They had a saying; they couldn’t do anything worse than send you to Nam.

              One night in a bowling alley I worked at a guy went crazy in the bathroom. Hid in the back stall. Thought he was in a foxhole. He was losing it. Scared the livin…out of me.

              Why, and for what? *spit*

              1. JohnnySacks

                Isn’t ‘dropping someone into an isolated group ruled by a charismatic psychopath or narcissist will lead to the newcomer adopting similar behavior traits as a survival mechanism‘ the core function of basic training?

                Got in a discussion with a vet about the pervasive myth that everyone who went to Vietnam, Korea, etc. did it out of selfless courage and the fire of freedom in their belly. Many, if not most, were told where to be and when to be there, and if they had any thoughts that freedom meant being able to say no, a warrant was put out for their arrest and they were dragged off to jail in handcuffs.

        3. Carolinian

          More on this


          Six months later on Nov. 2, 1965, Norman Morrison, a 31-year-old Quaker from Baltimore, a father of three young children, died of self-immolation at the Pentagon. Morrison felt that traditional protests against the war had done little to end it and decided that setting himself on fire at the Pentagon might mobilize enough people to force the United States government to abandon its involvement in Vietnam.

          Morrison’s choice to self-immolate was particularly symbolic in that it followed President Lyndon Johnson’s controversial decision to authorize the use of napalm in Vietnam, a burning gel that sticks to the skin and melts the flesh.

          Apparently, unbeknownst to Morrison, he chose to set himself on fire beneath the Pentagon window of then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.[…]

          At our 2014 meeting at the Vietnam-USA Friendship Society office in Hanoi, David Hartsough presented Held in the Light, a book written by Ann Morrison, the widow of Norman Morrison, to Ambassador Chin, a retired Vietnamese ambassador to the United Nations and now an official of the Society. Hartsough also read a letter from Ann Morrison to the people of Vietnam.

          Ambassador Chin responded by telling the group that the acts of Norman Morrison and other Americans in ending their lives are well remembered by the people of Vietnam.

          He added that every Vietnamese school child learns a song and poem written by Vietnamese poet To Huu called “Emily, My Child” dedicated to the young daughter that Morrison was holding only moments before he set himself on fire at the Pentagon. The poem reminds Emily that her father died because he felt he had to object in the most visible way to the deaths of Vietnamese children at the hands of the United States government.

      1. Em

        Thank you! That was rough but I owe him a watch, I think we all do. I can only hope that he fell very quickly into unconsciousness after he fell to the ground

      2. Judith

        My daughter sent me the statement from Hamas. She saw it on twitter, which I cannot access.

        Hamas official statement on Aaron Bushnell “We

        in the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) express our deepest condolences and our full solidarity with the family and friends of the American pilot Aaron Bushnell, whose name has been immortalized as a defender of human values and the oppression of the Palestinian people who are suffering because of the American administration and its unjust policies, as well as the American activist Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by a Zionist bulldozer in Rafah in In 2003, it is the same city that Bushnell paid with his life for putting pressure on his country’s government to prevent the criminal Zionist army from attacking it and committing massacres and violations there.

        The administration of US President Biden bears full responsibility for the death of US Army pilot Aaron Bushnell due to its policy that supported the Nazi Zionist entity in its war of extermination against our Palestinian people, as he gave his life in order to shed light on the Zionist massacres and ethnic cleansing against our people in the Gaza Strip.

        The heroic pilot, Aaron Bushnell, will remain immortal in the memory of our Palestinian people and the free people of the world, and a symbol of the spirit of global human solidarity with our people and their just cause.

        The tragic accident that cost Pilot Bushnell his life is an expression of the growing state of anger among the American people who reject their country’s policy that contributes to the killing and extermination of our people, and who reject their government’s violation of universal human values, by providing cover to ensure the impunity of the entity and its Nazi leaders from punishment and accountability.”

  4. kana

    This teaching was revealed through the Ancient Greek Mystery Schools, by Plato, by the Neoplatonists, and by those traditions connected to them , e.g., the ancient Gnostics (Christian and otherwise) Kabbalists, and Sufis. Later on the teachings were seen in different versions from the newer western esoteric traditions e.g., Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, Martinism, Hermetic Orders, etc., during and after the Renaissance. Most if not all were claiming to be presenting the earlier esoteric traditions, often claiming to be descended from them by some supposed ancient documents, a hidden lineage, or even by direct communication from “Hidden” or “Ascended Masters.” From The Secret Teaching of All Ages

  5. Wukchumni

    I think we’ve reached a low ebb at my Wal*Mart in Visalia…

    All of the deodorants are behind locked glass-

    1. griffen

      Hey that Old Spice special spice scented men’s product is not for the taking ! By the way, last week My Cousin Vinny was on one of the movie channels ( AMC maybe )…speaking of theft and lawyers.

      Now a simple old push up option like Speed Stick…who’s really gonna care. I keep seeing headlines about the demise of self check out, but alas my local grocery chain doesn’t get the memo. I actually prefer that choice, so I don’t have 50 bags to hold 51 products that I purchased. Plus I can see the math actively while I ring up my purchases.

    2. digi_owl

      I’m surprised they have not returned to having everything behind a counter, like the general store of old.

    3. Lena

      I remember when security cameras were a rarity in local supermarkets. For a long time, the ONLY camera in the large supermarket chain where I shopped was focused directly on the baby formula section. This was years before any recent shortage of baby formula. It was a purposeful targeting of poor parents who might be desperate enough to steal baby formula to feed their infants.

      1. Ellery O'Farrell

        I was at the checkout at a local bodega last night when I noticed a small disturbance behind me. Turned to see what it was: a man was being helped up and out the door by one of the staff, leaving behind a large quantity of health-food-type meal bars. Asked the checker if he fell down. No, she said: thief. It’s a quiet, safe neighborhood, so I was surprised.

        I haven’t seen a sidewalk vendor selling meal bars in the neighborhood. He was stealing them to eat because he didn’t have money for food. At least the staff didn’t treat him badly; he was just forced out the door. Nothing rough and no cops, and even the checker–a co-owner–seemed more sympathetic than angry. And this is Manhattan (far north, where it’s still affordable and a bit gritty).

        But it’s very depressing. Les Misérables come to life.

        1. eg

          Anatole France’s observation remains evergreen: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.”

    4. Carolinian

      I mentioned the other day that I had to get the key lady to buy something. Since it was a little bottle of pills I guess I could have pocketed it after she gave it to me (and after my ten minute wait) so for that at least it’s still the honor system and we Baptists worry about sinning.

      Clearly having Walmart plexy here in SC must indicate an influx of Californians (kidding?)

      Apparently the California wallys are also thinking about dialing back the self checkout, Target too.

      1. curlydan

        That’s the crazy thing–so many products behind glass and no key person in sight! They could make so much more money if the key person would just stay put there. Grrr…

        1. Wukchumni

          I thought I saw some giant cranes, and I think the plan is to soon enclose all of Wal*Mart in a locked glass case. with the good thing being it will be easy to find a key person.

          I made a joke as the young miss was opening the crown jewels (is deodorant ever over $10?) and she asked what kind, and I replied:

          ‘Et tu, Brut’

          It was lost in translation, as she tried to hand me a Right Guard, Praetorian if I’m not mistaken.

    5. Samuel Conner

      Perhaps it’s a low-profile public health measure.

      I have the impression that strong BO promotes (anti)social distancing.

    6. Laura in So Cal

      Mine too. We had to get help to open the case and then they put it into a plastic box with a locking lid that we took to the check out. Even though we only had a few things, we couldn’t use the self check out because we neede a checker to open the box.
      That was our last trip to Walmart for the foreseeable future. We usually only went every month or so to buy toiletries, cleaning supplies etc. We’ll pay more elsewhere to avoid the hassle.

    7. Pat

      Recent trip to Duane Reade aka Walgreens to pick up a couple of things. I went into the aisle with cookies to see if there was a sale on Pepperidge Farm cookies. A man was in the aisle stuffing boxes of crackers and cookies into a large tote. I wondered but since there was so much I figured he was just using it to get to check out. There is no self checkout and while waiting in line one of the cashiers started shouting “ What are you doing here again? Hey wait.” They went to go after the man from the cookie aisle leaving with two large totes. She was clearly frustrated as she came back in and talking loudly about how he was in multiple times a day. I wondered if some of it was because customers might be cranky about the so often empty shelves in the store. Has to hurt if you stocked them a few hours ago only to lose everything to a guy with a tote.

      For the record he wasn’t trying to hide. It was brazen, and no I didn’t get hunger. There are also soups in that aisle and they weren’t what he was stripping from the shelves. This drug store has increased the plexiglass and locked pegs for the pegboards, but nothing compared to what have seen and described here.

      1. NYT_Memes

        Cookies and other sweets are eaten by addicts before a fix. Experience data n=1. I rarely interact with these people but was caught in a scam at night once. FWIW

        So not a real case of hunger, at least for quality nutrition.

  6. Dean Falk

    RIP Aaron Bushnell Airman USAF As a peacetime USAR AKA US Army Reserve Veteran and antiwar AKA noninterventionist AKA propeace citizen I must say Bushnell has moral courage! I have telephoned numerous congressional & senatorial offices opposing using our money to fund & arm the genocidal israeli zionist war machine murdering Palestinians. Many offices have been rude obnoxious sarcastic and plainly ignoring me and other war opponents. Our government must end this war now and yes they are responsible 4 Bushnell dying.

    1. Em

      I think the fact that he appears to be a bright, normal looking, active airman is extremely significant. A lot of people will see him as someone who could be their friend, brother, or son.

      It’s such a high sacrifice that I wouldn’t ever ask for another one. But I hope that any active military personnel and civilians working for DoD and various 3 letter agencies, whose conscience has been increasingly bothering them, will now ask themselves the same question Aaron Bucknell asked himself, and tender their resignations. People in Gaza are starving to death and UNWRA funds have still not been restored. Time for anonymous letters of concern by DC staffers has passed. It’s time for those who can stop the genocide by direct actions to do so and for the rest of us to support them the best that we can.

        1. Em

          I sure hope so. It’s amazing how many pundits who I had sorta respected (ie Big Serge) just outed themselves as unfeeling assholes who obviously can’t be bothered to watch the video. You’d think somebody who closely studied the sacrifices of literally tens of millions of Soviet soldiers would have some understanding of what Bushnell was doing.

          1. Daniil Adamov

            Fighting in defence of your country is a different paradigm from committing suicide in defiance of your country’s policy. I’m not surprised by his reaction.

            1. Em

              Then he is a piss poor analyst who didn’t understand the significance of the action particularly on his it calls back to the American-Vietnamese conflict.

              Sometimes the most important fight isn’t about killing your enemies but sacrificing your self for a greater good. If Aaron had attacked the embassy or a prominent Zionist politician, the backlash and repression would be immediate and overwhelming. He would have set back the Palestine solidarity movement tremendously.

              If he went AWOL in defiance of his orders, he would have been made an example of and been buried in a military prison for years. He would be mocked by sicko Zionists as a coward and antisemite. He clearly saw that given the extremity of the situation forced on him by the blood soaked Zionist politicians, only an extreme act of conscience was available out of his dilemma. It was a huge serious act for this young man. It Shook me even though I’ve been aware of the other self immolation and have been tracking the events closely since late September. I’ve witnessed 5 months of every kind of brutality and pain and perversion by the IDF. It still shook me.

              Aaron Bushnell made an enormous sacrifice for a principled position. Seeing the likes of Big Serge mock that sacrifice ensures that I will never take them seriously again.

              1. Daniil Adamov

                I think Serge is good for some things, but not for others. He definitely has his limits and I don’t much care for the occasional ideological posturing and poetising. Or the cheap shots (of which this may be one). His understanding of military history seems pretty good to me, however. Enough to keep reading him for that and nothing else.

                This is something different, though – and I agree with your analysis. I think what makes it so affecting is the combination of US military status and the fact that he is obviously lucid. As you say, it’s clearly a principled stance, not insanity or stupidity.

                1. Em

                  Thanks for your thoughts! You’re right! I was too hasty and loose with my condemnation in my flash of anger. I did read his Eastern front series and found them to be very clear and effective presentations of these truly massive battles.

                  I guess I’m just in shock that someone who could effectively convey the superhuman and often suicidal actions of so many soldiers and commanders, could not grok the action of one conscientious soldier. And in such an unkind way. It’s one thing to disagree with the decision but the nastiness and lack of feeling was unexpected.

              2. Polar Socialist

                He’s not a piss poor analyst, but he tends to pick one lens and one lens only which he then uses to analyse a certain situation or a sequence of events. Thus the analyses are systematic and very clear but lacking in depth.

                And his analyses rarely go to the political dimension; there he mostly shoots from the hip. Which is kinda weird, since his eponym is Sergei Witte, the first prime minister of the Russian Empire.

                1. Em

                  Yes, I am probably being too harsh. I guess that I just thought someone who spend so much time thinking about soldiers in really challenging situations would have more empathy for one.

          2. alfred venison

            Big Serge is Russian Orthodox so he is consistent with his faith and his take is therefore not surprising to me.

            For Andre Marytanov, on the other hand, Bushnell is (I paraphrase) “a g0ddamn hero !” (while, I imagine, pouring himself a three finger deep shot of “Jack”).

            Most interesting to me is Andrew Korybko who articulates a secularist objection to suicide (suicide is bad, d’OK, get the man help) and holds further that the act is/ will be counter productive to the cause.

            1. Em

              Korybko wants Palestinians and their supporters to be good little victims. Be patient and wait for the West or maybe Turkey/Egypt to save them (it’s been 5 months of a historically brutal siege, people are dying from starvation and have no home to return to – are they supposed to be nice little dead victims that future liberal Israeli settlers do land acknowledgement over?). Don’t make the white folks or Israelis too uncomfortable?

              I didn’t have a good opinion of him before. I’m not going to bother with him for anything in the future.

            2. Daniil Adamov

              But how would it be counterproductive? What are the powers that be going to do – call pro-Palestinian protestors names? Like they have not called them names before?

              1. alfred venison

                Good question. I don’t agree with him, I struggled to grasp where he was coming from and could get no further than suicide is bad. A lot of readers challenged him and I think his defence was incoherent/ weak, but he is the only one of those three whose position surprised me, I thought he would be more dispassionately geopolitical analytical, alas.

                Re Big Serge’s faith informed view : I follow other Orthodox believers on X & they all seem to regard it as an act of selfless martyrdom.

                Larry Johnson’s honourable soldier’s outrage at the unprofessional conduct of Israeli soldiers and officers (to put it mildly) is exactly what I expected of him. He is podcasting from Moscow at the moment but I’m looking forward to reading his take in due course.

                I’m still in shock, watching, saying little, waiting. sigh. thanks for bearing with my coping mechanism ramble. -a.v.

    2. Vicky Cookies

      A commenter on MoA pointed out that as a USAF Airman with a cybersecurity background stationed in San Antonio, where the NSA-affiliated branch of the USAF has long been, it’s plausible that his work, or that which he was around, was in signals intelligence for Israeli bombing runs.

      Let his burning illuminate the path forward. RIP Aaron Bushnell.

      1. John9

        RIP Aaron Bushnell! May you blaze with the brightness of a thousand suns! Free Palestine!
        Hopefully your sacrifice will snap some people out of it, the way Thich Quang Duc did my little teenage mind in 1963.
        How pathetic, the little cop with substitute penis in hand demanding you get on the ground. And the heroic EMT telling him we need a fire extinguisher, not a gun.

      2. Dean Falk

        RIP Aaron Bushnell if laborers in the weapons industry strikes or massively resigned quit that would hurt the Israeli war machine

  7. Wukchumni

    Had lunch @ McDonald’s (deftly avoids incoming brickbats…) and as far as I’m concerned, unintentional humor is clearly the best kind, and it came via a sign in the window that had at the top in white letters against a green background that said:

    Experience Speed

    and below it was the wording

    ‘Lets Get Digital
    Link Your Card
    Pay With Code’

    I only focused on the first 2 words, and then when I ordered at the drive-thru, I asked for the ‘McTweaker Combo-supersized’

    1. ambrit

      Also available with extra spun shakes!
      I must shamefacedly admit to patronizing a Mickey D’s recently. As usual, I asked for the All American Deal, (about as cheap as you can get.) No could do, so, I had a Quarter Pounder with cheese. Six bucks just for the burger. Sitting in the car eating the “food like substance,” I mentally listed the ‘cheap eats’ from the grocery store I could have bought with that six dollars. The kensho moment arrived. Fast food outlets are too expensive for “average” people in America now.
      It felt somewhat like the time one would get dead drunk so as to realize the next morning why one declines to drink heavily. Self conditioning, with periodic reinforcement.
      {“Let’s get digital” cries out for a send up of the old Olivia Newton John song.}
      Stay safe up in the Defensible Position.
      [Economic Philosophical Zen Yoga Police? “Assume a ‘Defensible Position!'”]

    1. Carolinian

      I heard MSNBC was saying Trump was in trouble because he only beat her by 20 percent.

      And if some group of chumps really bet 100 million on Haley besting Trump that really is a sad comment on the absurdity and waste of our political system. Clearly much higher tax rates on the rich are needed!

    2. flora

      Three paras from the longer article about Gallup’s polling numbers over a 20 year span.

      “The irony is even educated voters have been abandoning mainstream politics in general (and the Democratic Party in particular) for years. According to Gallup’s most recent annual survey results, people in the “college graduate only” category (i.e. no postgraduate degree) supported Democrats by a +13 margin in 2020. That number dropped to +12 in 2021, then it was +9, and settled at +5 at the end of 2023. The “some college” group, for people who attended but didn’t graduate, was at +3 for Democrats in 2018, but now sits at -9. Both stories recall the slide among once-sainted “forgotten middle class” voters that began in 1999, when those with high school educations or below started a long drop from +14 support for Democrats to their current level of -14.

      There are similar major defections afoot now among non-Hispanic black voters (+79 for Democrats in Barack Obama’s election year, down to +47 now), Hispanic voters (from +36 in 2016 to +12 now), voters under 29 (+23 in 2019, +8 now) and even women (+20 in 2018 to +9 now). Voters with postgraduate educations are one of the few growth groups for Democrats, at a whopping +29. All of this speaks to one of the major unreported stories of our time: a dramatic political realignment by income and class, presented as a schism between smart and ignorant, “normal” and not.

      A rational person watching American election results across the last 20 years would conclude the economy no longer works for most people, becoming dysfunctional enough that traditional ethnic coalitions are breaking down and even young college graduates are drifting from the status quo….”

      1. Acacia

        Voters with postgraduate educations are one of the few growth groups for Democrats, at a whopping +29.

        Interesting that the most educated of the educated are one of the few growth groups. Given the difference between declining support from those with college degrees vs. an increase of those with postgraduate degrees, methinks this support speaks to something other than education per se, e.g., the values of the PMC.

        1. Em

          There’s also some serious sortation and sunk cost fallacy in place. It is a fairly rare breed who willingly takes on $120,000 in student debt to get a Masters in Public Policy or $200,000 for an EMBA. DC is full of them.

  8. Jason Boxman

    So FYI I don’t have the analytical skills, but for those curious about MA attendance in schools Newton MA vs rest of the state, MA did publish an list of absenteeism as a spreadsheet with 2023 and 2022 rates:


    Looks like for someone with the proper skills, it could be an easy analysis. It has 2019 as a baseline as well!

    By eye ball the rates for all Newton schools is higher than 2019, but for that to be useful information, would need to compare that against all other districts to see if the magnitude is higher or lower or the same, and by how much; Is it statistically significant, ect. Beyond me at this junction though, sigh.

    While absenteeism is a problem state-wide, this chart doesn’t break out Newton, only Boston, Lawrence, and Brockton.

  9. upstater

    Clueless in NYC, Paul Krugman edition:

    The Mystery of White Rural Rage

    This process and its effects are laid out in devastating, terrifying and baffling detail in “White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy,” a new book by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman. I say “devastating” because the hardship of rural Americans is real, “terrifying” because the political backlash to this hardship poses a clear and present danger to our democracy, and “baffling” because at some level I still don’t get the politics.

    But the truth is that while white rural rage is arguably the single greatest threat facing American democracy, I have no good ideas about how to fight it.

    The elites, even fake Nobel Prize winners, are idiots. Maybe if these morons would take a six month winter sabbatical with a $800/month stipend in a mobile home up some hollow in Appalachia or the great plains they *might* begin to get it.

    1. ilsm

      Activate BLM and Antifa, Krugman is wringing hands over his democracy!

      “American democracy”, like the now stale OBE our democracy is a dog whistle for neoliberal democrats, you know the ones that thought 2020 riots were okay, that Russia made Trump, and that taking 3 or 5 days to find votes for Biden is purely righteous.

      That kind of democracy is threatened by white rural…

      We really need more urban renewal by arson

      To serve Krugman’s democracy.

    2. CA


      February 26, 2024

      The Mystery of White Rural Rage
      By Paul Krugman

      Will technological progress lead to mass unemployment? People have been asking that question for two centuries, and the actual answer has always ended up being no. Technology eliminates some jobs, but it has always generated enough new jobs to offset these losses, and there’s every reason to believe that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

      But progress isn’t painless. Business types and some economists may talk glowingly about the virtues of “creative destruction,” but the process can be devastating, economically and socially, for those who find themselves on the destruction side of the equation. This is especially true when technological change undermines not just individual workers but also whole communities.

      This isn’t a hypothetical proposition. It’s a big part of what has happened to rural America.

      This process and its effects are laid out in devastating, terrifying and baffling detail in “White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy,” a new book by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman. I say “devastating” because the hardship of rural Americans is real, “terrifying” because the political backlash to this hardship poses a clear and present danger to our democracy, and “baffling” because at some level I still don’t get the politics.

      Technology is the main driver of rural decline, Schaller and Waldman argue…

      [ I read the essay carefully, and read the essay again, and any sense to the writing escapes me. Rural “White” Americans have been wildly successful economically for generations and live desperately lonely, empty lives for all the success.

      I am completely lost; but the Krugman bitterness over farming mechanics is overpowering so what am I to think? ]

      1. tegnost

        The politics are simple.
        With the assistance of the field of economics, the party of the working class moved right to become the party of wall st. Blithely asserting that there will be pain but you lessers will be better for it, while in the mean time the rich and corporations slosh in the government trough, as does krugman benefit handsomely from student loans to the ultimate subprime borrowers…(bidens latest 1.3billlion is roughly .3% of total student debt). The ACA is transfer payments to the insurance industry and just as with student loans this makes the prices go up. The ukraine war is a “good investment”.
        There are no so blind as those who will not see

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        At this point, Krugman is preaching to the doubters in the choir. Biden especially lately but Team Blue in general has been awful. Drivel and rhetoric are what they have. To a certain extent, he’s trying to answer the doubts of “well meaning PMC” if a bit dull about “how is Trump doing so well” without actually addressing any point.

    3. Screwball

      Thanks for this upstater

      Extra points for clueless and Paul Krugman in the same sentence.

      From the more fun table, he actually said “I have no good ideas about how to fight it.” He should have stopped after ideas. Home Depot, Aisle 34, tool department.

      1. JBird4049

        I don’t suppose that shipping all those factories and their jobs overseas might have something to do with the rage? Then there are all the many, many businesses of all kinds that have been bought by private equity, which are stripped of any resources, the sent into bankruptcy leaving the workers, even much of the management, and the local communities with nothing? How about Flint, East Palestine, and Lahaina?

        And what is it with calling it White Working Class rage when that half of the class that isn’t White has been suffering even more and are turning away from the Democratic Party as well?

        Some people are just so enbubbled as to become morons.

      2. Jason Boxman

        These people really are functionally stupid. No wonder middle America hates these coastal liberals. Quick to judge, incapable of self reflection, easily manipulated by propaganda.

    4. CA

      Maybe if these morons would take a six month winter sabbatical with a $800/month stipend in a mobile home up some hollow in Appalachia or the great plains they *might* begin to get it.

      [ Was there a difference, say, when John Kennedy was running for President and visiting homes in rural West Virginia and sitting and listening to a family? I watched film strips in college, and wondered what meaningful change had come in the years since, but I do not have answers. Krugman leaves no outline of lives now. ]

  10. The Rev Kev

    ‘Not voting for Genocide Joe
    Why did this get codified into law overnight and Roe never did for 50 years’


    Tim Kaine
    No U.S. President can withdraw from NATO without congressional approval thanks to a bill I wrote and got passed into law.
    The NATO alliance is foundational for our national security—its strength is a reminder to authoritarians around the world that the free world remains united.


    1. ambrit

      Oh my. It writes itself.
      “…its strength is a reminder to authoritarians around the world that the free world remains united.” Under the watchful eyes of our benevolent and all knowing ‘fearless leaders.’ Authoritarians around the world can take heart that we are marching in solidarity with them.

  11. Pat

    Does anyone else here now have a knee jerk reaction when anyone speaks or writes about “our Democracy”, especially in warnings or worried tones?

    I have to admit that anymore I dismiss whatever is being said and assume that the bigger threat to democracy is whatever the article or the interview is supporting. And that applies even when what it is supporting is the premise that some group is a THREAT!

    I can’t decide which is the most absurd premise that white rural Americans are the biggest threat to “Our Democracy” or not funding the war (grift) in Ukraine is the big threat to “Our Democracy”. I guess I am just going to have to root for both of them and whatever other supposed threats have our Beltway regulars’ knickers in a twist to succeed.

    1. caucus99percenter

      That’s becoming my automatic reaction in Germany to all the agitation against the AfD and against populism / bottom-up social movements (Yellow Vests, protesting farmers) throughout the EU. “We’ve got to ban democracy to save it.”

    2. Jeff V

      I can’t get past the irony of the biggest threat to “our democracy” being people voting for the “wrong” candidates.

      I don’t get to vote in US presidential elections (quite reasonably, since I have no connection to the place!) but if I did I’d have always voted Democrat. Very reluctantly, in the case of Hilary, and apathetically in the case of Biden last time.

      This time, I’d be voting for Trump but keeping quiet about it – and that includes lying to pollsters if asked. If enough actual voters feel the same way as me then Biden is in big trouble.

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