2:00PM Water Cooler 3/14/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Generous readers, we are now at 307 231 204 177 donors, or 76% 57%51%44% of our goal of 400 donors (25 more than last year). I will have the final 2024 Fundraiser post up in a short while, but yuou have moved the needle out of the “Catastrophically Bad” zone into the “Let’s Make This a Success!” zone [lambert sighs in relief], for which I am very grateful. If you have not already done so, please support Water Cooler (or donate to provide the support that the unlucky cannot). And now to find some bird songs. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Kashmir Nuthatch, Yousmarg Forest Area, Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir, India.

* * *

In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Cooperation Jackson.

(2) Turmoil in the Biden advance team…..

(3) The strange death of John Barnett in the midst of his Boeing deposition.

(4) Right to Repair in Oregon.

(5) Ibogaine (and Hunter Thompson).

Look for the Helpers

“Really, Really Free Market” [Cooperation Jackson (judy2shoes)]. Saturday, March 23, 2024, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM, 939 W Capitol St., Jackson, MS 39203. “Join Cooperation Jackson and local allies and partners on Saturday, March 23, 2024 for this mutual aid exchange to meet the material needs of our families and community.” judy2shoes writes:

I’ve been following this group for a number of years now, and in spite of the head winds they’ve encountered, they’ve persevered. My heart is with them, and I hope they succeed in what they are trying to accomplish.

* * *

Lambert here: I hope readers will send in more examples like the above (“brighten the corner where you are“). The helper(s) don’t need to be heroic, let alone dramatic, or ego-driven, and certainly not institutional. To cite, of all people, the American Enterprise Institute, writing on Occupy, and citing to David Graeber:

In addition to trucking, bartering, and knocking each other over the head, Graeber argues that human beings also engage in a wholly different kind of economic activity: We often share things we have with others. When Graeber says that we are already communists, he is referring to those quite familiar situations in which we really do operate by the maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

People of all cultures, including our own, invariably practice the communism of everyday life when dealing with their family and close friends. A mother does not expect her child to pay her for her baby-sitting services. A brother does not rent out his baseball glove to his brother on an hourly basis. If a friend is sick and needs something from the store, we pick it up for her and would never think of asking for gas money in return.

As Graeber points out, this kind of behavior comes out most conspicuously during a crisis, such as a natural disaster. At such times, people will voluntarily, even cheerfully, extend a helping hand to those who are most in need of one. Less dramatically, the same principle is at work whenever we are at a store that has a box on the counter that says “Leave a penny, take a penny,” intended to help out those who don’t have the exact change. In all these cases we are witnessing the spontaneous application of the communist maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

In our increasingly desperate and fragile neoliberal society, everyday normal incidents and stories of “the communism of everyday life” are what I am looking for (and not, say, the Red Cross in Hawaii, or even the UNWRA in Gaza). My email address is down by the plant; please send examples of “Helpers” there. (Yes, this is the kind of standing element I purged in the editorial redesign, but I’m going to leave it up for a bit to let the ideas sink in.)


* * *

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

Biden Administration

“Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is putting together an investor group to buy TikTok” [NBC]. “The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill that if signed into law would force ByteDance to either divest its flagship global app or face an effective ban on TikTok within the U.S. ‘I think the legislation should pass and I think it should be sold,’ Mnuchin told CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ on Thursday. ‘It’s a great business and I’m going to put together a group to buy TikTok.'” • So that’s one motivation: A forced sale. Commentary:


Less than a year to go!

I guess I kinda have to:

Interesting for the swing (toss-up) states, but I don’t think worth all that much. A map of the 5-way race would be far more useful, given that Kennedy isn’t doing badly at all.

* * *

Trump (R): “Cell data contradicts Fani Willis’ testimony, court documents suggest” [Scripps News]. “A court filing in Atlanta raised new questions about Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ relationship with the special prosecutor she hired to oversee the election interference case against former President Donald Trump. Cellphone data obtained by Trump’s legal team shows Nathan Wade, the special prosecutor, visited Willis’ neighborhood at least 35 times in the 11 months before Willis hired him in late 2021. Twice, Wade arrived late at night and left early the following morning. The data shows about 2,000 calls and 12,000 text messages between Wade and Willis from January 2021 to November 2021. The data seems to contradict testimony by Wade and Willis about the timeline of their relationship. They are under scrutiny by defense lawyers who say a conflict of interest should disqualify Willis’ office from the election case. Willis and Wade said their romantic relationship began in 2022 after a grand jury indicted Trump and 18 other people for trying to overturn Georgia’s election results in 2020.” • Whoops. I wonder if their case is put together as sloppily as their timeline?

Trump (R): “Kemp signs Georgia law reviving prosecutor sanctions panel. Democrats fear it’s aimed at Fani Willis” [Associated Press]. “Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law Wednesday that lets a state commission begin operating with powers to discipline and remove prosecutors, potentially disrupting Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ prosecution of former President Donald Trump. ;This legislation will help us ensure rogue and incompetent prosecutors are held accountable if they refuse to uphold the law,’ Kemp said before signing the bill, flanked by Republican legislative leaders. ‘As we know all too well, crime has been on the rise across the country, and is especially prevalent in cities where prosecutors are giving criminals a free pass or failing to put them behind bars due to lack of professional conduct.’ Though Kemp signed legislation last year creating the Prosecuting Attorneys Qualifications Commission, it was unable to begin operating after the state Supreme Court in November refused to approve rules governing its conduct. The justices said they had ‘grave doubts’ about their ability to regulate the duties of district attorneys beyond the practice of law. Tuesday’s measure removes the requirement for Supreme Court approval. The measure is likely to face renewed legal challenges. Four district attorneys dropped their previous lawsuit challenging the commission after the Supreme Court set it aside.” • Georgia politics…

Trump (R): “Fulton County ethics board drops Fani Willis complaints from hearing” [The Hill]. “The Fulton County Board of Ethics was expected to hear two complaints against Willis after her romance with a special prosecutor on the election interference case involving former President Trump raised concerns of a conflict of interest. The board determined it does not have jurisdiction over Willis, who is a state constitutional officer in her role.”

* * *

Trump (R): “Trump “floods the zone” as general election tests desensitized voters” [Axios]. “For eight years, the hurricane of news conjured by Trump’s unprecedented behavior and rhetoric has enraged, exhilarated and eventually numbed much of the American public…. Many voters have tuned out — or priced in — Trump’s baggage and legal issues… Financial Times columnist Ed Luce calls this phenomenon ‘the banality of chaos.’ Trump’s candidacy is ‘so far off the charts it is almost paranormal,’ Luce writes, but most of the former president’s controversies no longer break through to the public.” • To be fair, just because Democrats are experiencing aghastitude over something Trump said doesn’t necessarily mean you or I should not be aghast…. But it’s certainly hard to sort.

Trump (R): “Exclusive: Trump launched CIA covert influence operation against China” [Reuters]. • “Three former officials told Reuters that the CIA created a small team of operatives who used bogus internet identities to spread negative narratives about Xi Jinping’s government while leaking disparaging intelligence to overseas news outlets. The effort, which began in 2019, has not been previously reported.” • And I bet it was just as effective as RussiaGate. How do you say “we will beat it together” in Mandarin?

Trump (R): “CNBC Transcript: Former President of the United States Donald Trump Speaks with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Today” [CNBC]. Because I know from long experience that the press never, ever quotes Trump accurately, the transcript:

Have you changed your, your outlook on how to handle entitlements Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Mr. President? Seems like something has to be done, or else we’re going to be stuck at 120% of debt to GDP forever.

[TRUMP:] So first of all, there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements in terms of cutting and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements, tremendous bad management of entitlements [B]. There’s tremendous amounts of things and numbers of things you can do. [A] So I don’t necessarily agree with the statement. [C] I know that they’re going to end up weakening social security because the country is weak.

So, [A] Trump disagrees with the softball question on entitlements and debt, and [B] emits the standard Republican trope on waste and fraud, [C] because that weakens the programs. The proof of the pudding is that after eight years of the Obama administration seeking a Grand Bargain that really would have cut Social Security and Medicare, Trump didn’t try to do that in his first time. (Of course, the Democrats may have thought they were denying Trump a political winner, who knows.)

* * *

Biden (D): “Biden’s advance team is rife with turmoil and toxicity, staff allege” [Politico]. “within the tight-knit advance community, there’s serious concern about the current direction of the office, according to interviews with 18 current and former White House staffers and people who have worked directly with it. The culture within the office has gotten so bad that the White House Counsel’s Office opened an investigation, according to three people who were contacted last fall by the office for interviews. Specifically, they said, investigators looked into complaints of verbal harassment by Ian Mellul, the former associate director of presidential advance. Mellul resigned March 1 after a monthslong investigation, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. Brie Moore, the former director of press advance, also resigned within the past few weeks following complaints from the press corps to the White House about her behavior, several people familiar with the office said… The Biden office has earned such a bad reputation that some seasoned vets have declined to pitch in when asked, according to four former White House staffers. Those familiar with the Biden operation said that meant more room for error, especially as the president travels more frequently ahead of the general election.” Importantly: “[S]ome upset with the culture on the advance team place blame on the person who oversaw it: Ryan Montoya…. [Some of the current and former Biden staffers] believe that because Montoya was trusted by Anthony Bernal, adviser to first lady Jill Biden and one of the most powerful figures within the Biden White House, as well as deputy chief of staff Annie Tomasini, he was shielded from discipline.” • Two things: The advance team is critical to the success of any campaign, but moreso with for Biden; the advance team organizes the sandbags so Biden doesn’t fall off the stage, for example. More importantly, this is the second story I’ve seen that takes a shot at “Doctor” Jill Biden. Hmm.

Biden (D): “The Fruits of the American Rescue Plan” [Democracy Journal]. Case for the defense: “Working-class adults and their children each received $2,000 $1,400 stabilization checks. The unemployed got $300 in enhanced weekly benefits, which bought them additional time and financial flexibility to find a good job as businesses reopened. An expanded child tax credit provided parents with young children with as much as $1,600 more per child. Billions of dollars for lower-income homeowners and renters helped keep people in their homes even as foreclosure and eviction moratoria expired.”

Biden (R): “Biden’s Best Shot Against Trump Lies in ‘Blue Wall’ States” [Bloomberg]. “In Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, his campaign sees signs for optimism, even as recent polling shows Biden trailing presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in those key battlegrounds…. The Biden campaign says it ranks no swing state above another — and is focusing on all of them to keep open multiple paths to get to 270 Electoral College votes. It has ramped up sharply, doubling its battleground state staffing this month. But unique factors in those one-time Blue Wall bastions – from demographics to the presence of well-placed allies – position them as his best shot at holding the White House. Biden can clinch a victory with their electoral votes even if he loses four other crucial swing states – Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are dotted with the kinds of small cities and manufacturing centers that Biden has long begged his party to not forget. Michigan and Pennsylvania in particular are also organized labor strongholds where the president – who appeared on an autoworker picket line last year – can hammer his oft-repeated message that unions built the middle class.”

Biden (D): “How unpopular is Joe Biden?” [FiveThirtyEight]. Handy chart:

No pop from the SOTU.

* * *

“Democrats prepare to go to war against third-party candidates” [NBC]. “The Democratic National Committee is building its first team to counter third-party and independent presidential candidates, people involved told NBC News, as the party and its allies prepare for a potential all-out war on candidates they view as spoilers. The DNC has hired veteran Democratic operative Lis Smith, best known for her work guiding the 2020 presidential campaign of Pete Buttigieg, to help oversee an aggressive communications component of its strategy, which also includes opposition research and legal challenges. Underscoring how important Democrats view the effort, it is being overseen by Mary Beth Cahill and Ramsey Reid, two veteran DNC insiders, who have already started issuing rare public statements rebuking Robert F. Kennedy Jr.” • Smith is good; she actually parleyed that homunculus into high office as Secretary of Transportation. It’s not her fault that after that, Buttigieg vanished mysteriously.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Have Democrats finally stopped wimping out?” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘One of us is playing with a rolling pin, and the other is fighting with a gun,’ an aide to Senate leaders once told me, frustrated that Democrats were adhering to Marquess of Queensberry rules as Republicans busted norms to pack the federal courts. ‘We always bring a butter knife to a gunfight,’ longtime Democratic strategist Brian Fallon similarly groused not long ago.'” • Holy Lord! Ask a Sanders supporter if Democrats play by “Marquess of Queensberry rules.” And RussiaGate? Having the spooks plant an operative in the Trump campaign? Lawfare scheme like Section Three?

“Why Are Democrats Turning Their Backs On People In States With GOP Senators?” [Balls and Strikes]. “When avowed segregationist James Eastland chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1956 to 1978, he enforced a policy to keep would-be judges who supported integration off the bench: Nominees would not receive confirmation hearings without sign-off from both home state senators. This custom, known as “blue slips” after the pieces of paper senators return to signal their approval of a nominee, persists today. And despite Joe Biden’s presence in the White House, it allows lone legislators to exercise veto power over presidential appointments… in less than four years, Biden has put more former public defenders, civil rights attorneys, and other nonprofit lawyers on the bench than any other president. But those appointments are largely limited to states with two Democratic senators…. Proponents of blue slips, such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, a Democrat, argue that they encourage “bipartisan cooperation” since, in theory, requiring the buy-in of home-state senators can foster compromise with the White House. In practice, that compromise seems to extend only in one direction. During President Donald Trump’s administration, Democrats returned 130 blue slips for district court nominees, leading to the confirmation of 84 judges. By January 2023, Republicans had returned only 12.” • And session after session, that is how Republicans remade the court system.

“The High Price of Democrats’ Anti-Trump Lawfare” [Wall Street Journal]. “The argument on behalf of this really quite unprecedented legal offensive boils down to one idea: No one is above the law. True. That view is sometimes known as ensuring respect for the law. My single-sentence reply is that the Democrats’ use of lawfare on this scale makes it likely that respect for the law will decline, and dangerously so, among much of the American public…. That the lawsuits have backfired politically, boosting Mr. Trump into an easy victory in the primaries, is incontestable. The media lately has been writing that the Trump legal team’s strategy of ‘delay’ is working, implying that Mr. Trump was supposed to take it all passively in the neck.”

“Don’t” order me around:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Our Democracy”:

The United States is not a serious country.

“Anti-Israel protesters swarm The Post, NY Times printing plant, accuse Times of manufacturing ‘consent for genocide'” [NY Post]. • Interesting tactic. It would be great if the unions inside the building were in solidarity with the protesters outside (probably possible, with a level of effort).


* * *

“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!

* * *

Covid is Airborne

“COVID-19 outbreak at a residential apartment building in Northern Ontario, Canada” [Epidemiology & Infection (SES)]. “A case-control study examined building-specific exposures and resident behaviours that may have increased the odds of being a case. A professional engineer assessed the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Whole genome sequencing and an in-depth genomic analysis were performed. Forty-five outbreak confirmed cases were identified. From the case-control study, being on the upper floors (OR: 10.4; 95% CI: 1.63-66.9) or within three adjacent vertical lines (OR: 28.3; 3.57-225) were both significantly associated with being a case of COVID-19, after adjusting for age. There were no significant differences in reported behaviours, use of shared spaces, or precautions taken between cases and controls. Assessment of the building’s ventilation found uncontrolled air leakage between apartment units. A single genomic cluster was identified, where most sequences were identical to one another. Findings from the multiple components of this investigation are suggestive of aerosol transmission between units.” • Amoy Gardens all over again!

The United States is not a serious country:

Why aren’t we manufacturing crboxes like these? (Granted, the Xi government could have used the time bought by Zero Covid to ramp up manufacturing of crboxes en masse, so they are about as serious as we are, at least about protecting their working class; I would imagine The Great Hall of the People is well ventilated. Nevertheless, kudos to these engineers.)

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

“Estimating The Impact of Public Health Interventions on COVID Mortality in The United States Using Reductions in Influenza Mortality as an Indicator Of Non-Pharmaceutical Infection Control” (preprint). From the Abstract: “Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for control of COVID include a range of methods from masks to closures of schools and businesses with the efficacy of any individual strategy contingent on which other NPIs are employed and the extent of compliance with those strategies. In the case of a public health intervention, one typically looks at historical data for comparison, but, because COVID is a new disease, we have no such data. However, we do have extensive historical data for influenza, a respiratory disease with similar modes of transmission. Influenza incidence and mortality dropped dramatically during the COVID pandemic, almost certainly because of these NPIs. The extent of that drop provides an indirect measure of the efficacy of COVID NPIs in stopping the transmission of respiratory infections.” Ingenious! More: “These results provide strong evidence that [influenza mortality reduction (IMR)] is an accurate indicator of the efficacy of NPIs in controlling transmission of respiratory infections, including COVID….. The resulting model suggests that NPIs prevented 831,000 COVID related deaths in the United States over the course of the pandemic.” • So the GBD goons (hard eugenicists) and the public health establishment (soft eugenicists), both of whom fought NPIs tooth and nail, both have plenty of blood on their hands. And a second example–

“The Covid-19 pandemic killed off one strain of the flu, and that will change the next vaccines” [CNN]. “For 10 years, Americans have had access to flu shots that protect against four strains of the virus: two A strains and two B strains. Starting this fall, however, all the flu shots distributed in the United States will contain only three strains, and the change happened in part because of Covid-19. On Tuesday, a panel of experts who advise the US Food and Drug Administration on vaccines voted unanimously to recommend three-strain flu vaccines that will exclude any viruses from B strains that are part of branch of the flu’s family tree called Yamagata. Yamagata viruses were in decline before the pandemic, and all the precautions that helped people avoid Covid-19 – including masking, staying at home and better ventilation – appear to have finished them off. They haven’t been detected in testing since March 2020.” • But hopefully Mandy can bring them back!

Celebrity Watch

“Impact of COVID-19 on football attacking players’ match technical performance: a longitudinal study” [Nature]. “This study examined the impact of COVID-19 on 28 indicators of match technical performance (MTP) for football attacking players upon their return to play. Analyzing data from 100 players in the Big Five European football leagues, covering 1500 matches each before and after COVID-19 over 3 years (2020–2023), revealed significant differences in 76% of players’ MTP indicators. Notably, 14 indicators, particularly the five indicators linked to scoring, significantly decreased post-COVID-19. On average, players needed 3.09 matches to regain pre-infection MTP levels.” • The elite players recovered their soccer skills more rapidly.

* * *

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot March 12: Regional[2] Biobot March 12:

Variants[3] CDC March 2 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 9
New York[5] New York State, data March 13: National [6] CDC February 24:
National[7] Walgreens March 11: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic March 9:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC February 19: Variants[10] CDC February 19:
Weekly deaths New York Times March 2: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times March 2:


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) A bit “modified rapture” (“could be worse”) but we our falling curve has now reached the level of previous Trump peaks. Not a great victory. Note also the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Regional separation re-emerges.

[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) “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.”

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Not flattening. (Date for data corrected; it was a glitch.)

[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) Leveling out.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening.

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

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Backward revisions remove NV.1 data. JN.1 dominates utterly.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US fell by 1,000 to 209,000 in the week ended March 8, 2024, below market expectations of 218,000.”

Inflation: “United States Producer Price Inflation MoM” [Trading Economics]. “The Producer Price Index for final demand in the United States rose by 0.6% month-over-month in February 2024, marking the largest increase since last August and surpassing market expectations of a 0.3% advance. Goods prices rose by 1.2%, the most in six months, primarily driven by a 4.4% surge in energy costs and a 1.0% uptick in food prices.”

Retail Sales: “United States Retail Sales YoY” [Trading Economics]. “Retail Sales in the United States increased 1.50 percent year-on-year in February of 2024, following a flat reading in January.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “The Strange Death of a Boeing Whistleblower” [Maureen Tkacik, The American Prospect]. And the deck: “There’s no way America’s last great manufacturer murdered a prominent critic … is there?” Tkacik is very good on Boeing institutionally, and that’s what this article covers (or rehashes). But the ellipses in the deck are doing a lot of work that, frankly, I would expect a reporter of Tkacik’s caliber to be doing. For example, Barnet, found dead in his car, was still holding the (a?) gun. That seemed odd — wouldn’t the recoil kick the gun out of his hand? — and yesterday IM Doc wrote:

I hearken back to my medical school classes……Sessions on forensic pathology. In that day, it was far more likely that any physician especially in rural communities would be called upon for coroner duties. This is really no longer the case in our world today.

I remembered something – and I went back to my notes today just now and I quote from the lecture notes from the pathology/coroner professor –

“If the suicidal deceased is gripping or holding the gun, one must always look for other signs of foul play. Suicide victims are simply unlikely to be gripping a firearm in any way, shape or form. Every suicide by gun I have ever seen causes the firearm to be inches or feet from the body.”

From the 1980s and my distant past and certainly not expert opinion – but still probably very germane.

Now, other readers point out that it’s not universal that a suicide victim wouldn’t be holding onto the gun. But it’s still an unaddressed oddity. Tkacik also writes:

Unlike would-be whistleblower clients who find themselves “perp walked” out of the plant without access to their phones or email accounts, Turkewitz told the Prospect, “John had meticulously documented everything, he had thousands of pages stored on his computer.”

The obvious question: Where’s the computer? In the car? In the hotel room? At the lawyer’s? With the cops? Where? And nothing new at the Post and Courier. I guess they must be waiting for the police report to write their story [snort].

Manufacturing: “Investigator says she asked Boeing’s CEO who handled panel that blew off a jet. He couldn’t help her” [Associated Press]. “The nation’s chief accident investigator said Wednesday that her agency still doesn’t know who worked on the panel that blew off a jetliner in January and that Boeing’s CEO told her that he couldn’t provide the information because the company has no records about the job…. Homendy’s latest letter to the Senate Commerce Committee was a follow-up to her appearance before the panel last week. Shortly after her testimony ended, Boeing provided names of 25 employees who work on doors at the company’s 737 factory near Seattle…. She said, however, the company still hasn’t said which of the workers removed the panel, which plugs a hole left when extra emergency doors are not required on a plane. She said she even called Boeing CEO David Calhoun. ‘He stated he was unable to provide that information and maintained that Boeing has no records of the work being performed,” Homendy wrote. Boeing did not comment on the phone call.'” • Odd.

Tech: “Oregon Passes Right To Repair Law Apple Lobbied To Kill” [TechDirt]. “Oregon has officially become the seventh state (behind New York, California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Maine, and Minnesota) to pass “right to repair” legislation, making it easier and more affordable for consumers to independently repair their own electronics. The bill, which passed the Oregon Senate last month 25-5 and the House on Monday 42-13, is a bit more robust than the versions passed in earlier states. Among other things, the bill requires that device manufacturers make parts, tools and repair manuals available to consumers and third-party repair shops on ‘fair and reasonable terms.’ But it also takes aim at ‘parts pairing,’ or the practice of preventing you from replacing device parts without the approval of a company or its restrictive software. Apple, which routinely uses this practice to try and monopolize repair, lobbied extensively against the Oregon bill. As usual, under the (false) claim that eliminating parts pairing would put public safety and security at risk… In reality, Apple is concerned that the crackdown on ‘parts pairing’ will further erode the company’s lucrative efforts to monopolize repair and slow down the rate of shiny new phone sales. Apple has generally tried to pretend than its done a complete 180 on right to repair, when it’s generally been more of a 40 degree turn toward slightly more reasonable policies.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 73 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 14 at 12:27:54 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“I Always Knew I Was Different. I Just Didn’t Know I Was a Sociopath” [Wall Street Journal]. “It is a tragic misconception that all sociopaths are doomed to hopeless, loveless lives. The truth is that I share a personality type with millions of others, many of whom have good jobs, close-knit families and real friends. We represent a truth that’s hard to believe: There’s nothing inherently immoral about having limited access to emotion. I offer my story because I know I’m not alone.” • Hmm.

The 420

“Psychedelic drug ibogaine hailed as healing. U.S. patients ask why it’s illegal” [WaPo]. “[A] Stanford University study published in January showing that ibogaine dramatically improved symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in 30 Special Operations veterans diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. For advocates, that study offers the latest evidence that patients should have access to the drug in the United States, where it remains illegal despite decades of encouraging findings, principally for use treating addiction. Even as momentum could be shifting in ibogaine’s favor, concerns persist about the threat the drug poses to the heart, reflecting a risk-reward calculation that frames studies of other psychedelic agents. The increased interest in ibogaine arrives amid urgent efforts to ease the nation’s deadly addiction crisis and comes as companies race to develop psychedelics to treat mental health ailments.” • That, plus a population-wide of cognitive function, for some extremely unknown reason? (I’m so old I remember when Hunter Thompson wrote that ibogaine was the source of Ed Muskie’s brain paralysis.)

Class Warfare

PMCs gotta PMC:

I learned to eat in Montreal, which partakes of the Parisian notion that the server is a professional, so sheesh, mind games? That would get in the way of my enjoyment of fine dining. But perhaps people feed on things other than food….

News of the Wired

“Voyager 1 starts making sense again after months of babble” [The Register]. The flight team sent a poke, got a memory dump (!!), in response. “The time lag is a problem. A command from Earth takes 22.5 hours to reach the probe, and the same period is needed again for a response. This means a 45-hour wait to see what a given command might have done. The availability of skills is also an issue. Many of the engineers who worked on the project – Voyager 1 launched in 1977 – are no longer around, and the team that remains is faced with trawling through reams of decades-old documents to deal with unanticipated issues arising today.” • Like much else? Literally and metaphorically?

* * *

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 No Spam:

No Spam writes: “Up the peninsula us cleaner water, these guys hanging out. Apparently the are a leaning indicator for polluted water, and given one sees ‘bazillions of cargo carriers and tankers every time you look at the ocean, in a few minutes I count more than a dozen. Twenty-four hrs a day so the shoppers can remodel.”

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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. Feral Finster

    “Democrats prepare to go to war against third-party candidates” [NBC]. “

    If that is not a reason to vote third party or stay home, then I don’t know what is a reason.

    And I don’t care if Bernie Sanders and the entire Squad were to personally bicycle to my residence for no reason other than to urge me to vote Team D.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      The headline implies they’ve ever stopped war against third-party candidates. Seems to me like this has been going on since well before Nader cost Gore the election *eye roll*.

      1. LifelongLib

        FWIW, here in Hawaii the Libertarians (who presumably take votes from the Republican Party) usually outpoll Greens (who presumably take votes from the Democratic Party). So third parties here are a net benefit to Democrats. Of course it actually doesn’t matter since Hawaii is solidly Democratic anyway.

  2. Carolinian

    My single-sentence reply is that the Democrats’ use of lawfare on this scale makes it likely that respect for the law will decline, and dangerously so, among much of the American public

    In line with Links story on shoplifting I witnessed yet another probable instance yesterday. If the law can be the plaything of the Dems (in the name of respect!) then why not the proles goes the argument should it get that far. The poor store employees obviously don’t see themselves as cops.

  3. digi_owl

    “the team that remains is faced with trawling through reams of decades-old documents to deal with unanticipated issues arising today.”

    At least they have documentation…

  4. Camelotkidd

    The term “entitlements” sets my teeth on edge
    Another example of how the plutocrats and their corporate media sock-puppets have coopted language

    1. notabanker

      Hear, hear….

      Let’s talk about spook and defense funding “entitlements”. Not only do they feel entitled to getting whatever they want, there is zero accountability on how they are actually spending the money. I’m tired of watching a third of my paycheck evaporate and then have politicians preach to me about what I am or am not entitled to.

      1. notabanker

        Lots of good content today Lambert!

        Re: Tic Toc- yes there is truth in the tweet, but what the Chinese are doing with that app and its capabilities should still be a big concern to Americans. Yes, the hypocrisy is thick, but that does not mean we should just allow the Chinese free rein.

        Biden admin dysfunction:” I am shocked, shocked to find gambling here!”

        Oh, and good to know sociopaths are people too! Thanks WSJ!

        1. pjay

          What is it that you think the Chinese are doing? (Not intended as snark but as a legit question)

          1. Duke of Prunes

            Not “notabanker”, but it seems plausible that those in control could tweak the TT algorithms to amplify stories to push certain ideology or sow discord (clutch pearls tightly). Not unlike what our domestic social media overlords might be doing… projection much? Once again, it’s ok when we do it.

            For example, consider these Gaza videos. Maybe the young folk wouldn’t be so up in arms if TT didn’t blast these out 24×7 (I don’t use TT so I don’t know if this is true).

            Also (and I think this is possibly as important), TT is “stealing” a big chunk of advertising revenue from Google/Meta.

            1. pjay

              I don’t use TT either, and I understand your point. But I have to say that if China is able to make a dent in the propaganda wall of our “domestic social media overlords,” then more power to them! And I’m not nearly as worried about how the CCP might use the individual data of my grandkids.

              Personally, though I also lack personal experience with Tic Toc, I think the urgency of this issue to the powers that be is *all* about Gaza.

        2. John

          Perhaps I have not paid close enough attention, but I do not recall seeing anything that explained exactly what the Chinese are supposed to be doing with the Tik Tok app that is injurious to US National Security. To be clear, when I hear the term “National Security”, I start looking under the covers for what the DC Bubble writ large wants to keep hidden from those whom they claim to represent. This looks more and more like a panic move to control and censor a platform that does not agree with the revealed wisdom of those who think they must be obeyed.

          What is that term for the combination of corporations and government? You know when money and government get together to pull all the strings. Wasn’t there something like that in Italy once upon a time?

    2. spud

      yep, they are a paid for insurance program by the users. they do not add one cent to government debt.

      next up to try to pay for the trade deficit, and the wars for free trade if they can’t raid S.S. and medicare, is a VAT tax, most likely will happen in the end no matter what.

  5. Sub-Boreal

    My COVID data point for this week (jointly filed under “Sooooo glad to be retired”):

    A former colleague apologized for a tardy reply to an email, explaining that they’d been sick at home with something respiratory and were feeling exhausted, all while their kids also had “something”.

    One can’t help feeling bad for this person, and also noting the they’re not the only one in my circle in this pickle.


    It’s also not hard to notice that parents with kids in school / daycare seem to have been among the first who simply gave up on any COVID precautions. Was it just fatalism – thinking that there was no point in being careful at work because the kids were just going to bring it home from school / daycare anyhow?

    In this instance, back in 2020, this individual was actually more strict about mask-wearing than I was, but at some point gave up, and I haven’t seen them wearing one for at least a couple of years.

    BTW, their specialty is microbiology.

  6. ambrit

    That DCCC fundraising ‘appeal,’ (more like a diktat,) should include a $27 donation ‘button.’ {Purely in the interests of stroking the “nostalgia” of the Sanders, Occupy, ‘Fifty State’, etc. donors from years gone bye.}
    I’m still wondering how ‘popular’ the “Hillary fur Fuhrer” signage will be.

    1. griffen

      It’s “Herr Turn”. \sarc

      once more again with feeling…had to get the spelling appropriate…

  7. caucus99percenter

    In a series of strips by Joshua Barkman, a mouse, a moose, a beetle, an owl, and two other kinds of birds share a psychedelic experience briefly enabling them to communicate with each other across species boundaries. From October 2022. Start:


    Now if there were only something with similar effects on humans divided by their politics …

    1. Martin Oline

      I don’t know, I’ve had my consciousness expanded so much it has stretch marks . . .

    2. Jorge

      You might really like the movie “Upstream Color”- the whole plot is about a shared consciousness exploited by a string of evil people, and the journey of the victims. It is an astounding movie- almost wordless, all storytelling is visual, about a basically sci-fi plot that nobody has heard of. I had a different interpretation of plot points than other people did. Mesmerizing.

      By the guy who did “Primer”, one of the best time-travel movies ever.


  8. ambrit

    Curious Zeitgeist Report.
    Went to the W–M— yesterday for some “stuff.” (Cue George Carlin! Mr. Carlin. Please pick up one of the myriad of White Courtesy Phones. {Also available now in a Rainbow of colours!})
    Checked in with the Pharmacy about getting a Tetanus booster shot. (Spring garden season has arrived, along with numerous cuts, stabs, scrapes and assorted violations of my corporeal integrity.) La Medica earlier this week, at the clinic, said that they cannot ‘authorize’ the booster unless some bodily harm is documented. (!!!???) Obscure Medicare rules were cited as authority.
    Well, the Pharmacy nurse said something similar. Without an “incident report,” I would have to pay the full freight, about $55 USD. The same Medicare rules were mentioned for the denial. The Pharmacy nurse mumbled that the Medicare ‘managers’ must want to steer me to a doctor’s office for the shot. Later, thinking this through, it occurred to me that paying cash out of pocket would be cheaper than paying for a Doctor’s visit and then the co-pay for Medicare. (I have not met my annual “deductible’ for Medicare yet. Aren’t I a lucky boy!)
    Ah. Welcome to America and our Second World Problems!
    As an aside, I noticed price hikes on the items on the shelves at the W–M— again. This appears to have become a Pandemic of Rising Prices. Somme enterprising outfit must be working on a “vaccine” for this “new kind of a flu” stalking the Aisles of America.
    Toiling in the Trenches of Tranches. Keeping American Capitalism Safe From Democracy!
    Stay safe.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Cue George Carlin! Mr. Carlin. Please pick up one of the myriad of White Courtesy Phones.

      Is the mythical “white courtesy phone” a George Carlin riff???

      1. Michael McK

        I always think of the Robin Williams routine: White courtesy telephone for P.W. Botha, (sp?) P.W. Botha, white courtesy telephone.

      2. ambrit

        I’m not sure if Carlin used the “White Courtesy Phone” bit, but Carlin’s mention is a call back to the infamous “stuff” routine.
        The “Courtesy Phone” riff may be mythical, indeed, it could be fabulous, but it is ‘currency’ among those ‘in the know.’
        Certes, if I may, coming as I do from the heartland of Deploristan, it is also negotiable tender among those “In the No.”
        Be safe. Take no wooden Indians.

  9. JM

    I just contributed, and some gentle encouragement for those out there who tend to procrastinate. It’s a tough time financially for many, myself included, but this is something that has true value and is worth preserving I’d say.

  10. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “Anti-Israel protesters swarm The Post, NY Times printing plant…”:

    NYTimes headline this morning (and still up): “Schumer Urges New Leadership in Israel, Calling Netanyahu an Obstacle to Peace” with the sub-heading:

    “The top Senate Democrat, the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the United States, spoke from the Senate floor to condemn Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and call for elections to replace him.”


    Boy, when the Blob has lost Chuck Schumer…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I believe that on the Israeli political spectrum, Bibi’s a moderate. So getting him ousted could live the situation worse than it already is, if the goat sacrificers take over (and get their fingers on the button).

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        The goat sacrificers have already taken most of the way over. Netanyahu is their willing sockpuppet as long as they preserve his coalition government for him long enough for him to keep himself out of court and maybe out of jail.

        I wonder if the Schumer call has anything to do with the meetings between Burns of CIA and whomever of Mossad that took place a little while ago. ” Six ways from Sunday” and all that.

        I am not an expert on the Israeli political spectrum. I suppose the easiest way to measure that spectrum is by finding out the percent each party with Knesset members holds in the Knesset and seeing where each of those parties is on the spectrum. I suspect the Goat Sacrifice Parties together amount to 20% or less of the spectrum. BenGvir and Smotrich by themselves add up to a little less than 10% of the Knesset members. If elections were forced would the more-moderate-than-Bibi parties find a way to run a fusion candidate among themselves? And if that fusion candidate got a little more votes than the Bibi Party, would that fusionist refuse to include the Goat Sacrifice Parties in his coalition government?

        Whatever happens, remember that this is what Parliamentary Democracy smells like.

    2. Daniil Adamov

      Does the Blob care that much about Netanyahu in particular? I think they may well find him a liability. Friend of Trump, probably more committed to personal political survival than to any great agenda, and so on. Get him out of the way and things can proceed more smoothly.

    3. nippersdad

      It looks like a sop to Michigan et al to me; Bibi as sacrificial goat (“We hear your pain!”). By the time elections would be held Gaza will already have been cleared. By the time they find out that the replacement is every bit as bad as Netanyahu the elections here would be over. Just something to get them over the hump, and it is prolly a bonus that Netanyahu is considered to be partial to Trump. His embarrassing Biden is not something that would be forgotten.

      Schumer has said before that his job in the Senate was to protect Israel, and I have no doubt that this strategy was evolved further up the food chain.

  11. Feral Finster

    Biden (D): “How unpopular is Joe Biden?” [FiveThirtyEight].

    Amazing, since every MSM jackhol has been at pains to assure us that the SOTU was the greatest oration since Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt or maybe since Leonidas at Thermopylae.

  12. mrsyk

    I’m feeling that Kim Dotcom tweet, both parts. Anyone here read that House Judiciary report on the NSF ending grants for digital censorship tool development from Sunday’s Links? I highly recommend it.

  13. ProNewerDeal

    is there a good 2024 anti-crypto as an investment and for transactions FAQ?

    I have a pro-crypto as investment friend, who often tries to go on about crypto and how “I am missing out”. I do not own any crypto.

    I reply that it does not pay a dividend, the only non-dividend paying financial asset are gold/silver, which have a 5000 year history of being valued as an investment by many parts of the world, and have an industrial-use price floor. Crypto has neither. Financial assets without paying dividends are hard to value.

    Crypto reminds me of the 1999-dot com, in that aspects could be a scam or at least overhyped/over-valued.

    A person should invest in financial assets that they understand and are comfortable with, which I do not in the case of crypto.

    I would like to point my pro-crypto friend to such a anti-crypto FAQ.

    1. Feral Finster

      “Anyone can make his own currency. The question is whether he can get anyone to accept it as tender.”

    2. Stubbins

      The most alarming thing I can find to point to with Crypto is the massive yawning chasm of bezzle beneath Tether. If you can’t be convinced that the whole edifice is a bubblicious fantasy from this example, you can’t be convinced.

    3. Michael King

      Physical gold and silver are tangible assets and only become financial assets through derivatives. Re: dividends. Stocks are financial assets and roughly 25% of the S&P 500 stocks do not pay dividends. Alphabet is an example.

    1. ChrisPacific

      I added the link you requested yesterday to the study, although it went straight to moderation as expected.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Copyreader query: Do you mean a “call-out” (negative) or a “shout-out” (positive)?


      “Calling out” refers to addressing or confronting someone’s inappropriate or offensive actions.
      This tactic is often employed to encourage change in behavior, promoting a more respectful and fair environment.
      You’ll find it frequently used in discussions about social issues, where people call out harmful stereotypes, biases, or prejudices.


      A public acknowledgment of recognition, gratitude, or respect, given as in a recorded song or on a live television program.

  14. petal

    My car insurance(I have a clean record and drive little) went from $241 in October 2023 to $289 today. Just opened the bill. State Farm can rot. So in a year up like $75.

    1. Angie Neer

      I also was confronted with a 25% increase in insurance recently. When I shopped around I found that ALL companies have a similar increase. They attribute it to 1) more mayhem on the road and 2) higher repair costs, both of which I find credible. Unfortunately.

      1. lambert strether

        It’s almost as if the actuaries have observed or predicted a population-wide loss of executive function

      2. MaryLand

        Same here. State Farm raised ours by 80% in some categories. We have had zero accidents/claims. They gave the same reasons for the increase. I compared 7 different companies and could not find a better deal. Collusion?

      3. albrt

        All my insurance costs have gone way up in the past 18 months – except legal malpractice insurance for some reason. I guess if the executive function deficits effect everyone, the clients are less likely to figure out the malpractice?

    2. Carolinian

      My State Farm went up shockingly as well and I dropped the collision although the liability is where it is truly soaring. Doubtless it’s not just bad driving and parts but the cost of the cars themselves. The average new car price now is $47 k.

      In any case my last accident was 30 years ago so I’ll take my chances.

      1. Wukchumni

        My car insurance went up 3% parroting the Fed’s inflation prediction, yeah right.

        Car insurance actually went up 40%

        Home insurance went up 20%, on top of last year’s 20% rise.

  15. bassmule

    I looked at the newsletter sample. Some people will tell you it looks amateur. To which I would respond: “That’s the point. Come here to read, not to admire the format.” This is my endorsement, and I’m sticking to it.

  16. caucus99percenter

    Girl Scouts tells troop to shut down Gaza fundraiser

    A Girl Scout Troop in Missouri recently broke away from the organization after it made legal threats against the group.

    For the Girl Scouts’ “Agents of Change” capstone project, a St. Louis county troop decided to make and sell bracelets to raise money for children in Gaza.

    The Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri said the move was “political” and instructed them to shut down the fundraiser.

    The children in this particular troop were inspired by other troops that raised money for war victims in Ukraine. Those troops faced no repercussions over their fundraisers.

    1. Jeff V

      Good to know that helping starving children is a political issue.

      Perhaps if they donated half the money to arms manufacturers it would then become politically neutral?

  17. flora

    re: frustrated that Democrats were adhering to Marquess of Queensberry rules as Republicans busted norms to pack the federal courts.

    Er, um, is this a call-out for Dem congressional pols to pack the federal courts? Even FDR was warned against that tactic as likely leading to an unanswerable blowback. Only if things were seen to be fair and evenhanded by Constitutional rules would they be accepted by the people, the voters in the US. sheesh.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      No, “packing” the Supreme Court referred to increasing the number of Supreme Court justices. I suspect what this article could be referred to as “biasing” the Federal Courts, which the Republican Party, Federalist Society, etc. have been doing for decades with DemParty permission. This article is about withdrawing that permission. ( Of course the DemParty will never withdraw that permission).

      As to “belief in fairness and evenhandedness by Constitutional rules” , that garbage barge has sailed and sank. No sensible person believes the Supreme Court is fair and evenhanded anymore since Bush v. Gore and more recent “decisions”. Sensible people recognize the Supreme Court ( and the lower courts more and more) are political battlefields which belong to whichever force conquers and holds them.

      I don’t make the real rules. I just notice what the real rules really are.

  18. SD

    I know too many people who fit the description in the tweet you posted on bad behavior at restaurants. One person (a friend for many years who ghosted me) was determined to send something back to the kitchen every time we went out together. Once, she sent back an order of french fries three times before our poor server delivered an acceptable version. An ex of mine whom I’m still in touch with gets huffy with servers, gets mad at other people at the table when they don’t order what he thinks they should(!), and has genuinely lost it–and has on more than one occasion been asked to leave–when there are children about who aren’t following the dictate to “be seen and not heard.”

    I went to fancy schools with these people but also worked during the summers as a dishwasher, busboy, and waiter as soon as I was old enough. As I’ve wended my way through life, I find myself really missing working in restaurants. It’s honest work and if you have a good group of people it can be really fun. Potatum is absolutely onto something with her tweet. The toxic workplaces where the oligarchy keeps the PMC toiling away at bullshit jobs (one of the people described above is a consultant, the other is in PR) does something really awful to human beings.

    1. Feral Finster

      I also went to fancy schools, but I recall one person who always treated wait-staff well, left fat tips, etc.. His family had owned restaurants and said that it was a hard way to make a living and it didn’t need to be made any harder.

      Considering that this guy was such a raging jerk in every other area of his life, I took that one to heart.

    2. The Rev Kev

      You get these sorts of mind games with tips where some people use their ability to give tips to exercise petty power over servers, especially female servers. NC had an article a few years back where this guy paid his staff a working wage and abolished tips and found that a lot of customers became very upset about this. A “power” had been taken away from them and they did not like that one bit.

    3. Belle

      As someone stuck working fast food, I can add there are people like that here too. Skipping the drive-through to order at the window, changing orders at the window, demanding food fresh at the window, and other general meanness. One time a customer threw an Icee(TM) at me through the window.
      And back when we had COVID precautions, people often ignored them. I could count on one hand the number of day that people did not try to get inside, despite the sign on the door.

  19. Art_DogCT

    An update on the Connecticut COVID data link. It is still active. But:

    As of June 1, 2023 regular reporting on COVID-19 ended. The Connecticut Department of Public Health has transitioned its reporting on COVID-19 to a combined viral respiratory disease report.

    This new data report integrates data that are relevant to current COVID-19 disease activity and trends with viral respiratory surveillance, including influenza and RSV. The 2023-2024 reporting period began on October 5, 2023, and is scheduled to end June 6, 2024.

    Current viral respiratory data, which includes data on COVID-19, can be found in datasets available here. The latest information on Viral Respiratory Diseases can be found on the Department of Public Health website here.

    The information I could access without registering is confusing, to say the least. Not at all useful for gauging my “personal risk”. Thanks to Brother Strether I am far better informed than I’d otherwise be. I came down with C19 about 4 weeks ago, home RAT confirmed. I treated my symptoms with OTC meds, and didn’t bother with seeking out Paxlovid. Positive test results continued for 10 days. I suppose I’d describe my case as “mild”, with return to feeling mostly status quo ante pestis some 5 days later. Still working on residual congestion. I’ve not bothered trying to report my case, for the reasons NC readers know all too well.

  20. flora

    re Graeber: People of all cultures, including our own, invariably practice the communism of everyday life when dealing with their family and close friends.

    I would not call it communism, which raises up the specter of big govt and endless govt forms to fill out for justification to do whatever. I would call it simply being a good neighbor. My neighbor needs help. I do not care what party or church or ideology my neighbor adheres to in their private life, he or she is my neighbor. We share a space. I help them, they help me. And so the neighborhood does well overall. And all that stuff.

    1. flora

      adding: might be a Midwestern thing. Brutal weather conditions here can be instantly changeable, etc. True fact: there was a day I remember when the weather report went from blizzard conditions to thunderstorm conditions, to hail storm conditions, to tornado warnings in a single day. 3-4 storm conditions in a single day.

      1. flora

        adding: not kidding, the weather report for the 5-9 county area was accurate. Blizzard conditions heavy blowing snow driving to work in the early morning, thunderstorms moving through at lunch time, hail storm conditions at 3 to 4 pm, and tornado warnings when driving home after work. The Midwestern over-the-top joke about changeable weather is funny ’cause it’s true. And helping another fellow in bad weather is a thing here.

  21. steppenwolf fetchit

    ” • To be fair, just because Democrats are experiencing aghastitude over something Trump said doesn’t necessarily mean you or I should not be aghast…. But it’s certainly hard to sort. ”

    Would the following be a useful rule of thumb for sorting? – – – ” If something that comes from a Democrat is considered aghastogenic, then that same something coming from Trump should be considered equally aghastogenic.”

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Investigator says she asked Boeing’s CEO who handled panel that blew off a jet. He couldn’t help her’

    It’s not suppose to be like that in aviation. Everything is supposed to be noted and recorded, especially major pieces of work being done. But Boeing is claiming that they lost those records which makes me think that Boeing isn’t making those records in the first place. Too time consuming I would guess to be the justification by management. Will there be a point reached where we say that Boeing isn’t a serious company?

    1. rowlf

      A friend used to post rants at a motorcycle forum:

      OK, so whose fking cow was it?

      Once upon a time Mrs O’Leary’s milking cow kicked a kerosene lamp into a bundle of straw and the entire City of Chicago was reduced to ashes.

      Well, probably not. Everyone knows the Irish started the fire. But the fable is illustrative of one thing: There was a time when we had a reasonable expectation of being able to assign blame.

      Now, not wanting yet another oil rig thread, the only reason we will mention the Deepwater Horizon clusterfk is to ask the question: Whose fking cow kicked the kerosene lamp over?

      The Deepwater Horizon Rig was registered…no, not in the USA…but in the Marshall Islands. Which is comforting because we all know the exceptional standards that the Marshal Islanders demand in all their structures.

      But never fear, even the Marshall Islands have inspection standards. Except their laws allow private companies to do the inspections. Private Companies that are selected, hired, and paid by the rig’s owner.

      OK, no problems with that I can see, I am sure those inspectors are some real hard asses.

      Now add to that the fact the Deepwater Horizon’s parent company recently moved their flag to Switzerland. And who knows more about deep ocean water than the Swiss?

      “See, American taxes and regulations chased another company overseas”. Well, not exactly, Fk-o. Their former headquarters was in that other Acme of Engineering Excellence, the Cayman Islands. I know when I hear “Cayman Islands” the first thing that comes to mind is transparency and accountability.

      So how fking far off the rails has the train gotten when the transparency and accountability requirements…of the Cayman Fking Islands…are considered too burdensome for modern multi-nationals?

      A long time ago in a place very very far away, I designed and built Nuclear Submarines. Now, here is the deal: If I looked at a valve welded into a pipe run, I could tell the following (with a little research)
      • Who made the valve?
      • Who tested the valve and to what Standard?
      • When and where was it tested?
      • What material(s) was the valve made of?
      • Who manufactured and certified the material(s) and to what spec?
      • When was the valve welded in the system?
      • Who welded it and to what weld specification?
      • Who certified the welder?
      • Who inspected the weld?
      • Who certified the credentials of the inspector?
      • Etc, Etc, etc

      Now, the Nuclear Navy didn’t follow this procedure because they had nothing better to do, they did it because of the Thresher (SSN-593), which brought home in the worst way possible just how unforgiving the deep ocean is.

      So EB and the Navy always knew whose cow it was. And I mean always.

      But back to our Brave New Corporate World: With all the paranoia about even the simplest international accords leading to one world governments and blue helmeted UN thugs seizing American firearms and marching patriots into FEMA Camps…who the fk is in charge? Who’s accountable? Whose fking cow is it?

      Where was the fking Marshall Island, Cayman Island…Swiss Coast Guard when all this shit happened?

      Have we simply allowed Corporations to act as a series of de-facto Pirate Radio Ships, forever beyond the law? What’s the answer?

      1. Keith Howard

        This belongs in an anthology of rants, a sort of poetry collection, so to speak. Much appreciated.

      2. digi_owl

        These days that valve’s paper trail would have an accompanying stack of waivers for all the work done in China etc.

  23. Big River Bandido

    Three times now today, I have tried to send you $100 via PayPal. Three times now, I’ve received a message saying “we’re sorry we’re having technical difficulties”. As if I needed further proof of the continuing enshittification of our lives.

    I’ll keep trying. I would gladly send a check, but it’s been so long since I’ve written one I can’t begin to think of where my checkbook is.

    1. flora

      Goodness. If you know the bank that issued your checks and you still have an account with them then go to them and request some new checks. Won’t matter if you haven’t used up all your old checks yet. (Sound like you haven’t.) They should issue you 100 or more new checks with the starting check number at the last, final old check ending number + 1. And again, if the check show a gap in numbers that will be noted on the bank statement but not denied for payments.
      / my 2 cents.

    2. lambert strether

      All I can say is clear your cookies (or maybe use a clean browser with no plugins that allows JavaScript?). That what I do in cases like this

    3. flora

      adding: I’ve seen some very wonky stuff today on online payments things. And also on USPS tracking reports stuff. Who knows. The first notice made me think “What?!” I ignored it and tried again, which worked. But again, who knows what’s going on behind the screen? USPS reporting is wonky? Pretty crazy. Don’t be fooled into believing the first result you see, which could be temporary or something, etc. / eh

    4. SocalJimObjects

      If you are using Firefox, try using a Private Window, you might have to log in again, but I think it might provide a temporary solution to the problem.

  24. judy2shoes

    Lambert, it really did my heart good to open up Water Cooler and see that you highlighted Cooperation Jackson. Thank you! You, Yves, and the entire NC crew are doing good work, and helping the helpers is part of that.

    With gratitude,


  25. Carolinian

    Read it and weep


    One of the exceptions was the ex-president, Jimmy Carter. In 2015, he was asked on a radio show, the Thom Hartmann Program, what he thought about the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns.

    President Carter elaborated as follows: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and Congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over… At present, the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.”

    It would be a serious omission not to note the behavior of those running the show. After making that damning observation, the former president was cut off by the program, even though the statement by Carter should have been the start of the program, not its end. It should be noted that the program didn’t end with an invitation for him to return to discuss this crucial matter in depth – something for which he’s more than qualified. If you can’t question American democracy in the media, one can have a distinct impression about the absence of democracy in the U.S. and the media bias.

    Of course Americans aren’t suffering in the way that Gazans are, so perhaps the frog is not so much being boiled as lightly sauteed. When the house of cards finally collapses is when revolt will truly get serious. Perhaps this is what the powers that be are so worried about. It’s not that Trump isn’t an oligarch like them but he’s stirring up at least a little bit of resistance.

    1. Jason Boxman

      True. Citizens United was basically the final death kneel of American democracy. In life support since Bush v Gore.

    2. digi_owl

      USA is still “Rome”, and the dole (“strategic” petroleum reserve), while minimal, still holds.

  26. flora

    Imagine the correlation between AI and a false Middle Ages’ kingly pronouncement. Said kingly pronouncement would have a royal seal for all to see, authenticating the true kingly declarations of the pronouncement. But its truth or falsity could be check or verified by many means. Now imagine an AI pronouncement, modern, digital, electronic, with no other declarations of its truth than its own self referential claims, which might be no more than its own internal and unverified if-then-else algorithmic ‘hallucinogens.’ Because-I-say-so. With no bridle or check on its claims.

    1. digi_owl

      I really wish XKCD strips were dated, so one could place them in historical context. Because in hindsight it was clearly in tune with the rising political wave that crashed in 2016.


  27. Jason Boxman

    These people are the worst scum. Here’s Krugman on cue misquoting Trump.

    But that doesn’t make the budget irrelevant. It clearly signaled Democrats’ vision for the future — in particular, their belief that we can preserve the solvency of Social Security and Medicare by raising taxes on high incomes rather than by cutting benefits. And it draws a stark contrast with the vision of Donald Trump, who appeared to say during an interview with CNBC that he would seek to cut those programs.

    Remember when abortion was on the ballot every election? Lol. How about a “public option”?


  28. The Rev Kev

    Lots of big people got upset when the Pope came out and said maybe it was time for the Ukraine to quit. The latest is Josep Borrell saying ‘The Holy Pope entered a garden where no one invited him’ and ‘that now is not the moment when it is necessary to offer Ukraine to surrender. On the contrary, this is the moment when we need to continue to help.’


    I think the Pope really touched a raw nerve among war cheerers & war pigs here. Maybe because the later are realizing that they have lost and don’t want it pointed out.

  29. Bob

    From ABC News 4 in Charleston, NC:

    “CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — A close family friend of John Barnett said he predicted he might wind up dead and that a story could surface that he killed himself.

    But at the time, he told her not to believe it.

    “I know that he did not commit suicide,” said Jennifer, a friend of Barnett’s. “There’s no way.””


  30. digi_owl

    The juxtaposition of sociopathy and PMC dining is something.

    again and again i find myself thinking about bastard feudalism, affinity and PMC behavior.

    And in addition i can’t stop pondering if sociopathic and narcissistic behavior can be conditioned onto someone through exposure.

  31. steppenwolf fetchit

    Yesterday I tried sending a couple of comments about Hhunter S Tthompson and ibbogaine and they both just disappeared. Not into moderation. Just disappeared. So I am wondering if some program is watching out for those combination of words and disappearing comments upstream of their even reaching the blog headquarters?

    I tried respelling the twoo wurdz in question to see if this comment gets through.

    ( And it did get through. Into moderation, which is fine. But not simply vaporised disappeared as if never having been sent at all).

  32. steppenwolf fetchit

    The question came up as to why ibbogaine was banned when it was such an obscure drug. Was DEA/etc. afraid that millions of HST readers would try to find out what it was and get some?

    Or was the fear based on a possibility hinted at in this article . . .
    ” Iboggaine Detoxification Transitions Opioid and Cocaine Abusers Between Dependence and Abstinence: Clinical Observations and Treatment Outcomes ”


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