2:00PM Water Cooler 3/4/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, the Supreme Court decision on Anderson, the Colorado Section Three case that sought to throw Trump off the ballot under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, dropped just as I was starting, so I had to focus on that (and spend some time doing a happy dance that I correctly identified the salient features of the post). The rest of Water Cooler is more than a little gappy, so let me go to work remedying that now… –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Speckled Warbler, Coominglah State Forest (-24.9097, 150.9734), North Burnett, Queensland, Australia.

* * *


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

The Constitutional Order (Insurrection)

“Colorado can’t disqualify Donald Trump for running for president under insurrection clause, U.S. Supreme Court rules” [Colorado Sun]. “The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that Donald Trump should appear on Colorado’s presidential primary ballot and that any votes cast for him be counted, rejecting a Colorado Supreme Court finding that the Republican is disqualified from running for president again because he violated the so-called insurrection clause in the Constitution. The high court’s justices ruled that when it comes to presidential and other federal candidates, Congress, not states, are responsible for enforcing the clause, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment… Further, a majority of the justices found that Congress would have to pass specific legislation to enforce Section 3 of the 14th amendment.” • So, Section 5 is not a hood ornament. 9-0. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Federalist Society luminaries Baude and Paulsen frivolous, but….

“Supreme Court keeps Trump on ballot, rejects Colorado voter challenge” [WaPo]. “The decision leaves Trump as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination and for now removes the Supreme Court from directly determining the path of the 2024 presidential election. The justices fast-tracked the challenge from voters in Colorado…. In a sign of the high court’s awareness of the election calendar, the justices took the unusual step of announcing the opinion on the Supreme Court’s website on a day when the court is not in session, instead of issuing it from the bench later this month…. Trump reacted to the decision with a brief, all-caps message on his social media site. ‘BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!’ he wrote.”

“States can’t kick Trump off ballot, Supreme Court says” [Politico]. “States have no authority to remove Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday, short-circuiting efforts by his detractors to declare him disqualified over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The justices did not weigh in on the fraught question of whether Trump engaged in an insurrection by attempting to subvert the 2020 election results or stoking the violence on Jan. 6. But the high court ruled in an unsigned opinion that only Congress, not the states, can disqualify a presidential candidate under the Constitution’s ‘insurrection clause.”… The result — which came one day before the Super Tuesday primaries — was expected.'” • Here is the opinion–

“Donald J. Trump, Petitioner v. Norma Anderson, et al.” (PDF) [Supreme Court of the United States]. Since this is a unanimous opinion — i.e., I don’t have to worry about getting into bed with members of the Federalist Society — let me do a short happy dance for correctly pointing out some of the salient features of the case in “Strategy to Kick Trump Off the Ballot Under the Fourteenth Amendment Already Causing Chaos (So In Re Griffin Was Correctly Decided)“:

Baude and Paulsen aren’t doing a serious reading. In [Justice Samuel] Chase’s phrase [from In Re Griffin], “it must be ascertained what particular individuals are embraced by the definition,” we recognize what in the programming and math worlds is called a set membership function: “A function that specifies the degree to which a given input [say, Alexander Stephens] belongs to a set [say, insurrectionists].” That is, we need to determine the set of all insurrectionists; how do we “ascertain” that potential “inputs” to that set belong to it? That method of ascertainment is unknown, which is why “effective results, proceedings, evidence, decisions, and enforcement of decisions, more or less formal, are indispensable.” We do not need to do similar “ascertainment” for birthright citizenship, privileges or immunities, due process, and equal protection; all those are well understood, as the method to ascertain an insurrectionist was not (given that it had never been done before!). Chase conclude that these methods can “these can only be provided by Congress.”

The Supreme Court didn’t get all mathy. Nevertheless:

“Ascertainment”, then, is a central issue (as is the method(s) by which the ascertainment is done).

And I wrote:

What Chase in Griffin sought to avoid, and Baude and Paulsen incited by “Sweep and Force” has now come to pass, driven by an unholy alliance of Federalist Society members and liberal Democrat NGOs MR SUBLIMINAL Does the court give me leave to slay them outright?[1]. We have “various” “State” “actors” “exercising their usual authority with respect to such matters” as both Colorado and Maine have disqualifed Trump from the ballot.

And what do we have? Two different (“various”) branches of government, judicial and executive, in two states using two completely different evidentiary standards. Add one or two more states, another branch, and a few more evidentiary standards, and you’ve got a combinatorial explosion of “usual authority”! … Chief Justice Chase writes in In Re Griffin:

[A] construction, which must necessarily occasion great public and private mischief, must never be preferred to a construction which will occasion neither, or neither in so great degree, unless the terms of the instrument absolutely require such preference.

“Great public and private mischief” is exactly what is happening here. This is the Pandora’s box that “Sweep and Force” has gleefully opened. These already whacky results provide the clearest possible indication that Griffin was correctly decided, and that there should be national legislation to handle the ascertainment issues Chase described.

And the Supreme Court focused on different evidentiary standards as well:

As well as the chaotic outcome:

And the Court (here modulo the dissenters) did indeed recommend national legislation under Article 5. Now, to be fair, I only used the word “chaos” in the headline; for whatever reason, the Court, while citing to Griffin for “ascertainment,” did not cite to Griffin for the seemingly synonymous “great public and private mischief,” or for Chase’s principle of construction based on avoiding it. Nevertheless [lambert preens] not too bad for a humble blogger, especially in the face of an avalanche of propaganda contrary views across the political spectrum from liberal Democrats to Never Trumpers. Take that, Larry Tribe! Take that, J. Michael Luttig! And what a shame to see particular lawfare project come to naught (except for the fundraising, of course).

NOTE: Reading the decision, 9-0 is as close to an open-and-shut case as there is, regardless of the frothing and stamping of motivated reasoners. I don’t think we should infer the Court’s views on upcoming Trump cases from this outcome, since they may not be open and shut.

Capitol Seizure

“Some Jan. 6 sentences were improperly lengthened, appeals court rules” [Politico]. “A federal appeals court panel ruled Friday that Jan. 6 defendants who obstructed Congress’ work had their sentences improperly lengthened by judges who determined that they had interfered with the ‘administration of justice.’… Federal sentencing guidelines encourage judges to apply the ‘administration of justice’ enhancement to defendants who disrupt judicial proceedings like grand jury investigations or court hearings. The enhancement can increase recommended sentences by more than a year. The Justice Department has routinely asked judges to apply the enhancement to defendants who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, arguing that the session of Congress that day — meant to count electoral votes and certify the results of the 2020 election — should be considered the equivalent of a judicial proceeding.” That’s a goofy argument! Congress and the Judiciary are separate branches of government! And so: “A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument in an appeal brought by Larry Brock, a Jan. 6 defendant who was sentenced last year to a two-year prison term for obstructing Congress’ proceedings. U.S. District Judge John Bates — a George W. Bush appointee — calculated Brock’s sentence by including the enhancement for interfering with ‘administration of justice.’ …. Brock was among the earliest rioters to breach the Capitol, wearing military gear and surging with the mob onto the Senate floor. The appeals court panel affirmed Brock’s felony conviction for his action but ordered Bates to resentence him without the enhancement attached. ‘Brock’s interference with one stage of the electoral college vote-counting process — while no doubt endangering our democratic processes and temporarily derailing Congress’s constitutional work — did not interfere with the ‘administration of justice,” wrote Judge Patricia Millett in a unanimous ruling joined by Judges Cornelia Pillard and Judith Rogers.” • I love this use of the word “enhancement.”


Less than a year to go!

* * *

Biden (D): “How Biden aides are trying to protect the president from protests” [The HIU]. “President Joe Biden’s team is increasingly taking extraordinary steps to minimize disruption from pro-Palestinian protests at its events by making them smaller, withholding their exact locations from the media and public until his arrival, avoiding college campuses and, In at least one, for example, consider hiring a private company to screen participants. The efforts resulted in no disruptions to events organized by the White House or the campaign for Biden in the five weeks since he was interrupted a dozen times during a speech on abortion rights in Virginia. But they have also resulted in Biden appearing before fewer voters and failing to personally engage with some of the key constituencies whose support he has struggled to win, such as young voters.” You say “Keep Biden wrapped in tissue paper” like that’s a bad thing. More: “Many of Biden’s recent public appearances have been what the White House calls “OTR stops.” These are presidential visits to companies or residences that were not previously publicly announced and marked as ‘off the record.’ Biden aides describe such stops as efficient and innovative ways for him to meet voters. They said the events also typically generate positive local coverage while also providing the campaign with material to share on its digital platforms. ‘I think at some point [after Labor Day?] you’re going to see him do these big rallies and big crowds because that’s ultimately how you reach a large swath of voters,’ said a Democratic ally in the campaign. A Democratic strategist impressed by the staging at Biden’s student loan forgiveness event noted that while the precautions were understandable for would-be protesters, such measures pose a long-term political challenge for the party if its presidential candidate is unable to do so to hold large rallies on the university campus. But for now, a Biden adviser said, the small events tactic is expected to ‘continue in perpetuity.” • Hmm (and an odd source, via).

Biden (D): “Biden’s problem is with swing voters, not with his base” [Nate Silver, Silver Bulletin]. “Democrats should probably root for lower rather than higher turnout in November, a big change from the Obama years. (In a bit of good news for Biden, this also implies that he’ll probably gain ground when pollsters shift over polls of registered voters to polls of likely voters.)… [Swing voters] are people who are explicitly stating to pollsters that they are switching their vote from 2020. There are a substantial number of them. But these vote-switchers largely do not come from the core of the Democratic base. Among the roughly half of Biden 2020 voters in the Times poll who described themselves as Democratic primary voters, a relatively healthy 91 percent said they plan to vote for Biden again. People who vote in primaries tend to be more politically active and more loyal to their party. But if Biden is retaining only 83 percent of his 2020 vote overall, that implies he’s doing quite poorly with people who voted for him in 2020 but who are not loyal Democratic primary voters. Only about 75 percent of this group say they’ll vote for Biden again…. [T]he widespread assumption among Democrats that they can just run back their 2020 strategy or take a page from the Obama 2012 playbook appears to be flawed. There are still plenty of swing voters, and they’re swinging toward Trump.” • So Democrats should suppress the vote? Harris could help with that?

Biden (D): “Biden vs. Trump Polls: Joe’s Battleground Problem” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “In the most recent batch of battleground state polls, from Bloomberg–Morning Consult, Biden trailed Trump in a head-to-head matchup by nine points in North Carolina, six points in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada, four points in Wisconsin, and two points in Pennsylvania. In a five-way trial heat including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West, and Jill Stein, Trump’s lead ballooned to ten points in North Carolina, nine points in Arizona and (shockingly) Pennsylvania, seven points in Georgia and Nevada, and six points in Wisconsin. The five-way race actually shaved a point off Trump’s lead in Michigan…. the danger signs are there that Biden may need to have a distinct battleground-state strategy even if he pulls into a national lead over Trump and any other rivals.” • Not seeing any sign of that.

Biden (D): “For Democrats Pining for an Alternative, Biden Team Has a Message: Get Over It” [New York Times]. “‘There is no council of elders and I’m not sure if there was that an incumbent president, no matter who it was, would listen to them,’ said David Plouffe, the architect of President Barack Obama’s campaigns and one of the strategists who helped him pick Mr. Biden as his vice-presidential running mate in 2008. ‘He thinks, ‘Hey, I won and I beat the guy who’s going to run against me and I can do it again.'” And: “Where most Democrats are,’ said Mr. Plouffe, ‘is, ‘OK, this is going to be really hard, a high degree of difficulty, but ultimately there’s probably enough of the country who doesn’t want to sign up for a second Trump term that we can make this work.'” More: “An important moment for the president to assert himself will come on Thursday night when he delivers his State of the Union address to what historically should be his largest television audience of the year. He will talk about his record and what he wants to do for the next four years. But as important as any policy pronouncement will be how he presents himself.”

Biden (D): “Jill Biden puts Donald Trump on notice as her campaign role comes into focus” [CNN]. “As the first lady embarks on a three-day, four-stop battleground state campaign swing, launching the “Women for Biden-Harris” coalition, her role in the reelection effort is becoming clearer. The campaign is looking to use a top surrogate to organize – and mobilize – female voters heading into the general election, all while delivering a clear message about Trump.” I would have thought Harris had that job? More: “The first lady is also traveling through Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin, and she’s expected to court Black and Latino communities as the campaign looks to make inroads with those key demographic groups. Much of the first lady’s work in the early stages of the campaign has focused on crisscrossing the country for fundraisers, but in the months ahead she’s expected to become a more frequent presence on the trail advocating on behalf of her husband and his agenda.” • “Just call me ‘Edith Wilson‘!”

* * *

“The pipe dream presidential candidacy of Gavin Newsom or Michelle Obama” [Orange County Register]. “With her name on the ballot, Harris has never lost an election, winning her races for San Francisco district attorney, California attorney general, U.S. Senate and vice president. She does not believe she’s disqualified because of her so-called cackle. Nor does she consider herself having failed to determine the ‘root cause’ of the three-year massive influx of illegal immigration when all but the hosts on MSNBC know the root cause is Biden’s reversal of Trump’s border policies. In her identity party, she checks two boxes as a female who identifies as black. Blacks are the most loyal part of the Democratic base, with black women more loyal than the men. In a September 2023 article about its CBS News/YouGov poll, CBS News wrote, ‘Black Democrats are the most enthusiastic about Harris today, as they were three years ago.’ For the reasons outlined above, black voters — particularly black female voters — would resent a ploy to cast Harris aside, but there is one caveat: The substitute would have to be a popular black female. Only two fit the bill: Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. Winfrey does not want the gig and, despite the hopeful speculation, neither does Obama. She hates politics. So, Harris it is.” • Obama, Clinton, Biden, Harris. Quite a record. Anyhow, Harris did do well in debate with Biden (“that little girl was me“), but that’s a low bar. It remains to be seen how she would do in a debate with Trump (“that little boy was me” would be too delicious…).

“Gov. Pritzker in Nevada, Virginia, pushing for reproductive rights, fundraising for state parties” [Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times]. “And to jump ahead, if you want to know if I think Pritzker, in his second term as Illinois governor, will one day run for president, I do. It’s nothing he said. I’m just reading the tea leaves. The practical impact of being a billionaire is that the things Pritzker is doing now that could be construed as useful to a presidential bid — using his fortune to make massive contributions to candidates and causes he believes in, especially in the area of reproductive rights — are things he was doing before he was governor and would be doing anyway, no matter if he ever runs for the White House. That’s how he explained it to me.” And: “The are four main Pritzker lanes: 1) Pritzker’s official role as governor, where under his watch Illinois has become a haven for abortion rights; 2) Pritzker’s political operation and the JB for Governor campaign fund; 3) Pritzker’s personal political contributions and his ability to raise money from others; 4) Think Big America, which shares office space and staff with his political shop. Pritzker is also a top surrogate for the Biden campaign. In a below-the-radar trip to Washington last month, Pritzker and other governors met with Vice President Kamala Harris at her residence to talk about the campaign. ‘I think she wanted to hear our views about how it is going, the election that is, and what more the campaign can do and what was happening in our individual states.’ I asked Pritzker for his takeaways from that meeting, and he said, ‘I think there was no doubt that at least in the room, there was a common understanding that immigration and reproductive rights are the two most important issues that will help demotivate or motivate people to vote and that the president needs to address both of those himself directly, with help from all of us.'”

* * *

Democrats en Déshabillé

“The Return of the Clintons” [New York Magazine]. “By late November, Bill found himself closer to the center of presidential politics than he’d been since Hillary ran in 2016. He and Joe Biden hadn’t talked in person in a few months, but he had been making no secret to friends that he thought Biden wasn’t getting the credit he deserved for his accomplishments. Tucked into a quiet corner of Air Force One on the way to Georgia for Rosalynn Carter’s memorial service, the 42nd president repeated the sentiment to the 46th, chewing over the unique challenges of the presidency as almost no one else could. Flying south from Washington, they discussed Biden’s obstacles in a political environment warped by Trump — how hard it had gotten to focus public attention on what Biden was doing and how complicated it had become to turn around the national feeling about the economy. Hillary wasn’t part of that conversation, but she was on the plane, too — along with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden — and she had plenty of her own thoughts as Biden entered 2024 running behind her old foe in the polls. In recent months, the former secretary of state has begun convening groups of friends and political allies for private dinners to talk through the coming election season and to drum up badly needed support for Democratic candidates, starting with the president. The sessions are occasionally at the Clintons’ primary home in Chappaqua, but more often at their house in Washington, not far from the residence of Vice-President Kamala Harris, with whom she has quietly been keeping in touch.” • Via TV Tropes, “Raised Hand of Survival“:


“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

The United States is not a serious country:

Elite Maleficence

Point, counterpoint:

I would be interested to know where anarchist models of healthcare are being pursued. “Mask blocs”? Readers?

* * *

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot March 4: Regional[2] Biobot March 4:
Variants[3] CDC March 2 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC February 24
New York[5] New York State, data March 1: National [6] CDC February 24:
National[7] Walgreens February 26: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic February 24:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC February 12: Variants[10] CDC February 12:
Weekly deaths New York Times February 24: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times February 24:


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) Biobot drops, conformant to Walgreen positivity data (if that is indeed not a data artifact). Note, however, 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) Does not support Biobot data. “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.”

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Not flattening.

[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) That’s a big drop! It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening, consistent with Biobot data.

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

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

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Transportation: “Three Norfolk Southern trains derail in Pennsylvania” [The Hill]. “Three Norfolk Southern trains derailed after a collision in eastern Pennsylvania that, so far, has not caused any injuries or released hazardous materials. The incident occurred near Easton, Pa., Saturday morning along the Lehigh River. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said an unknown number of cars from those trains have derailed. ‘Preliminary information indicates that an eastbound NS train struck a stopped NS train on the same track,’ NTSB said in a statement to The Hill. ‘The wreckage from the striking train spilled onto an adjacent track and was struck by a westbound NS train. The collision led to the derailment of an unknown number of cars.'” • Collision Scheduled Railroading. This keeps happening, doesn’t it?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 79 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 4 at 12:37:23 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on climate. ” The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • Goat sacrificers irrelevant? Atlantic meridional overturning circulation irrelevant?

Class Warfare

“SPEEA: Pilot Contract Talks Illustrate Boeing Safety Culture Problems” [Yahoo Finance]. “The union for Flight Technical and Safety Pilots with Boeing’s Flight Operations Group says it has first-hand experience of the kinds of safety-culture problems [the FAA] reported on earlier this week…. ‘To put this in context,’ [Ray Goforth, SPEEA Executive Director] said, ‘Boeing has systematically hollowed out the SPEEA Pilot Instructors Unit, replacing valued Boeing expertise with contractors. The resulting degradation in expert advice given to Boeing’s airline customers is another example of the safety-culture problem highlighted by the FAA.’…. In another strange turn, Boeing asked SPEEA’s negotiators to sign a retroactive Non-Disclosure Agreement so that the union couldn’t tell its members how much they were being underpaid compared to their peers. SPEEA declined; Goforth called the request ‘weird.'” • Looks like that new lawyer Boeing promoted to head up HR is already hard at work!

News of the Wired

“Effect of gut microbiome modulation on muscle function and cognition: the PROMOTe randomised controlled trial” [Nature]. “Studies suggest that inducing gut microbiota changes may alter both muscle physiology and cognitive behaviour. Gut microbiota may play a role in both anabolic resistance of older muscle, and cognition. In this placebo controlled double blinded randomised controlled trial of 36 twin pairs (72 individuals), aged ≥60, each twin pair are block randomised to receive either placebo or prebiotic daily for 12 weeks. Resistance exercise and branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation is prescribed to all participants. Outcomes are physical function and cognition…. Our results demonstrate that cheap and readily available gut microbiome interventions may improve cognition in our ageing population.” • Now do Long Covid.

“Motion Blur All the Way Down” [Pierre Cusa]. “Motion blur started out purely as a film artifact, the result of a subject moving while the camera’s shutter is open. This artifact turned out to be desirable, especially for videos, because it improves the perceptual similarity between a video and a natural scene, something I’ll dive into in this section…. [T]here already exists a natural blur at the photoreceptor level, a phenomenon often called motion smear. So why do we add artificial motion blur in videos, and what is the link between motion smear and motion blur?” • Do a lot of math, so MEGO. However, as a photographer, I love motion blur. Rather like Millet trying to paint a peasant actually dropping a potato into a furrow; not as easy as it looks!

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From TH:

TH writes: “This lovely flower is a Scabiosa columbaria, ‘Pink Mist’. It lives at the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar, California. I just love everything about it, but mostly the color!” Nice bokeh!

* * *

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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. Jason Boxman

    Had a lengthy conversation today with someone who’s daughter is immunocompromised; they even do Christmas outside. I shared all the layered defenses, including Corsi boxes, with this person. It’s heartening to find that at least some people are aware this hasn’t ended.

    Remember when liberal Democrats claimed to care about such people, until they didn’t? You don’t read anything anywhere in the NY Times about the immunocompromised anymore, that’s for sure!

    Their other daughter works a grocery job with real time scheduling; she can’t get a second job or schedule anything else during the hours that she might have to work. Doesn’t find out until 3pm Friday which days are actually going to be assigned for the next work cycle. All the labor uncertainly is foisted off on workers. What a horrible system.

    I did shared Biden administration’s positive work, shockingly, on anti-trust. A rare bright spot on an otherwise blighted record.

    1. Feral Finster

      “Remember when liberal Democrats claimed to care about such people, until they didn’t?”

      They pretended to care very much, as long as they needed a stick to hit Deplorables with.

  2. Terry Flynn

    Open thread? One issue that the MSM have all of a sudden jumped on is that George Galloway is no longer to be introduced to Parliament by David Davis (the arguably slightly nutty but pretty big on civil liberties Conservative MP who puts his money where his mouth is). Jeremy Corbyn did it. Which got the UK press into a predictable lather and will give the uniparty Conservative/Labour mainstreamers a mighty big stick to beat Galloway with, which they’d have had difficulty doing if Davis had done it.

    Question: what did the Tory whips say to Davis to get him to stand down? The guy is famously pugnacious and not afraid to fight the leaders of his own party so it all seems a bit odd. But this tin foily issue is probably small fry compared to a bunch of other things going on. Like the Tories obtaining their worst percentage share in a major opinion poll in the 40 year history of the organisation (IPSOS). It’s not the only poll to show such a deficit compared to Labour. The Tories are skirting close to the “cliff edge of first-past-the-post” – the point at which Reform UK could take enough votes from them to allow Labour to do to the Tories what happened to the Liberals approximately 80 years ago.

    I don’t honestly think a 1990s Canadian style decimation is on the cards for the Tories, but the fact the polls are getting perilously close to showing complete Tory collapse should be really worrying them.

    EDIT – updates by NC to the page have suddenly appeared upon “send”! Sorry.

    1. Feral Finster

      “Question: what did the Tory whips say to Davis to get him to stand down?”

      Simple, this is one thing that will cause Davis to be ejected from the party and cast into Outer Darkness. Because Muh Special Relationship.

      The problem is that Keir Starmer is as much of a craven sniveler as is Rishi Sunak.

  3. Calvin

    United States of Amnesia.
    93 F’ing executive orders to open up the border,
    sending Kamalips Harris, the human joke to “fix” it,
    and now Genocide Joe wants to “solve the problem”?

    Limbo politics, how low can you go?

    Joe be nimble, Joe be slick,
    Create a limbo shock,
    Solve it with a work permit crock.

  4. Carolinian

    Lawfare is for losers. Some of us are so old we can remember when the left cried foul as the Federalists used novel arguments to re-write economic regulation in the ’80s. But now it’s any stick to beat the snarling Trump dog (as they see it).

    Of course people in my region thought things like desegregation were lawfare but it was really they who were waging it with their laws designed to defeat equal treatment and their states rights argument that was so hoary that it had been crushed a hundred years prior.

    1. Feral Finster

      “Lawfare is for losers.”

      Lawfare is standard-issue banana republic stuff.

      Either you imprison the opposition candidate on any pretext or you remove him from the ballot on any pretext, and Voila! The Voice Of The People Has Spoken, triumphantly re-electing Our Beloved Leader with a whopping 98.3% of the vote*!

      *on 17% turnout, and that only because voters were given a free transistor radio for voting.

    2. Dessa

      Was kinda hoping Trump would be declared ineligible and Biden would die. A girl can dream

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Was kinda hoping Trump would be declared ineligible and Biden would die. A girl can dream

          We still might. It is only March and we have a whole Summer for it to go even more to Hades.

          If they are serious about Kamala Harris, I don’t see why it cannot be Governor Gavin Newsom, instead. Newsom is an amoral shark, but that is better than a demented, narcissistic hyena, sort of. Newsom vs Haley anyone? WTF is it about my state that produces such “interesting” candidates like Nixon, Reagan, Harris, and Newsom?

          The question I have is who is going to be the veep candidate for any of the likely presidential candidates seeing as they all look likely to implode midway of their term. Newsom is a very corrupt SOB. Harris is chaos incarnate. Trump is in good health if compared to Biden. Haley gives me the vibes of a better quality Newsom, but just as empty and ambitious.

          My guess is that it will come to who is the Vice President. If I vote, then that is what I will be voting on. My, what nightmares may yet come?

        2. Pat

          Clinton would roll over Harris with a motorized wheelchair if she couldn’t stomp over her to get to her “rightful place”, aka the Presidency.

          And I hate to say it, but any and all of those is as much a nightmare as our current most likely matchup. But since I am speculating… I think between Mother’s disgruntled acolytes and indifference to Harris, Haley gets the win in Harris vs Haley. And as most of Haley’s supposed popularity is Democratic fluffing, Hillary wins there (she won’t take the battleground states for granted again). Oh and third party votes, blank votes for President and just not showing up would be a higher percentage than the Republicans and Democratic votes combined.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Anderson, to my mind, was a no-brainer. (Bragg is dumb, Smith’s documents case is dumb, Willis seems to be imploding, but Smith’s “J6” case is not a no-brainer, though Smith has form: His Terry McAulliffe win was overturned because he over-reached.)

        And Biden… Well, who knows? It’s entertaining to watch.

  5. doug

    Yet I see this posted under JURISPRUDENCE in national news blog:

    The Supreme Court’s “Unanimous” Trump Ballot Ruling Is Actually a 5–4 Disaster

    Heads are exploding.
    I love the quotes. not sure why.

    1. Sardonia

      Just move the location of the quotation marks and it makes sense:

      Yet I see this posted under JURISPRUDENCE in national “news” blog:

      The Supreme Court’s Unanimous Trump Ballot Ruling Is Actually a 5–4 Disaster

    2. flora

      I hold no brief for T, but actually… actually… good on the Supremes for their unanimous decision.

      and, Appeals Court rules some J6 defendants’ sentences were improperly lengthened… good on the Appeals Court.

      Maybe the US hasn’t passed into Banana Republic territory. A longtime lawyer acquaintance remarked a few years ago that it would be the Courts that would finally and impartially sort things according to the Constitution.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > good on the Supremes for their unanimous decision

        I’m grateful that the Court majority (3 dissents IIRC) was so firmly in favor of Federalizing the Presidential ballot (based on Section 5 not being a hood ornament). Because if they hadn’t, the Democrats would be rolling out legislation right now in the states they control (“No, we said any candidate whose family name begins with ‘T.’ This is totally not a bill of attainder!”)

        1. flora

          Thanks, Lambert. And per your “Because if they hadn’t, the Democrats would be rolling out legislation right now in the states they control” also applies to the GOP say 3-5 or 10 years from now. aka Banana Republic territory. / imo

        2. Neutrino

          Makes you glad for the Constitution as a rock, not to be damaged by the effluent of political insiders on some sandy creek bottom. Us great unwashed, flyover or otherwise, can take some solace in knowing that there are checks on the whims of the deranged that are facing existential crises, again.

          The Founding Fathers were much closer to the days of Bills of Attainder, and had what people now call Lived Experience. They weren’t perfect by any stretch but they are so far above the current crop of craven cowpies. May be adopting the new yout’ lingo would ignite some interest in the how and why of history and of those founding documents.

    3. hk

      I saw the same headline, but didn’t have time to check at that time. What was that about? :/

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Supreme Court’s “Unanimous” Trump Ballot Ruling Is Actually a 5–4 Disaster

      Here is the link:

      Second, it is bizarre to claim that the insurrection clause requires enabling legislation by Congress when the remainder of the 14th Amendment—indeed, all three amendments ratified after the Civil War—is “self-executing” (meaning it does not require congressional action for enforcement). Everyone agrees that Congress need not pass a law to ensure that all persons have due process, equal protection, and freedom from enslavement.

      First, as I wrote, because one of these things is not like the others:

      [W]e need to determine the set of all insurrectionists; how do we “ascertain” that potential “inputs” to that set belong to it? That method of ascertainment is unknown, which is why “effective results, proceedings, evidence, decisions, and enforcement of decisions, more or less formal, are indispensable.” We do not need to do similar “ascertainment” for birthright citizenship, privileges or immunities, due process, and equal protection; all those are well understood, as the method to ascertain an insurrectionist was not (given that it had never been done before!).

      (Of course, ascertainment inside the liberal Democrat bubble has already been performed, via “schoolling behavior,” so they may literally not comprehend this objection.)

      It’s noteworthy that the Slate author does not allude to the most obvious reason to firmly shut the door on non-Congressional action against putative insurrectionists: That Blue states would go ahead and pass their own laws contolling nballot access for Presidential elections (or get Courts they control to perform the same function). I’m not unhappy that this oarticular form of lawfare has been firmly ruled out; in fact, I’d be surprised if Democrats hadn’t gamed this out, maybe even written model legislation).

      1. Pat

        Nor would I. I would even posit that much of the gnashing of teeth that occurred yesterday was as much for this vision of the future as it was for the loss of this as a tool against Trump. Fighting against and limiting ballot access has been one of their most successful tools in remaining viable and is increasingly needed to retain their ability to ignore the electorate’s policy wishes and still be elected to office (can’t let them have an alternative).

        I know I shouldn’t be so surprised that someone supporting the self executing interpretation of this clause would ignore that how it was executed could easily be a clear denial of due process for its subject. This is the same group actively seeking draconian censorship rights without getting that this censorship is in itself a violation of the first amendment.

  6. Sub-Boreal

    On the recent evangelism in favour of plant-based diets: this (open access) paper will have something to annoy almost everyone: Unacceptable use of substandard metrics in policy decisions which mandate large reductions in animal-source foods.


    Many recent very influential reports, including those from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Risk Factor Collaborators, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, and the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, have recommended dramatic reductions or total exclusion of animal-source foods, particularly ruminant products (red meat and dairy), from the human diet. They strongly suggest that these dietary shifts will not only benefit planetary health but also human health. However, as detailed in this perspective, there are grounds for considerable concern in regard to the quality and transparency of the input data, the validity of the assumptions, and the appropriateness of the statistical modelling, used in the calculation of the global health estimates, which underpin the claimed human health benefits. The lessor bioavailability of protein and key micronutrients from plant-source foods versus animal-source foods was not adequately recognised nor addressed in any of these reports. Furthermore, assessments of bias and certainty were either limited or absent. Despite many of these errors and limitations being publically acknowledged by the GBD and the EAT-Lancet authors, no corrections have been applied to the published papers. As a consequence, these reports continue to erroneously influence food policy decisions and international dietary guidelines, such as the World Wildlife Fund’s Livewell Diet, and the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2023.

    This is certainly not my field, so I can only do the basics of normal information hygiene, like waiting for follow-up responses & commentaries, and scrolling to the end to look for funding info (none given, so presumably done on the author’s own dime, which is plausible for what is essentially a lit review) and any statement of conflicting interests (which you can read for yourselves). A simple search on her name brings up several videos released under the imprint of “European Livestock Voice”. If one is a vegan, there are some red flags; if an omnivore like me, yellow?

      1. Sub-Boreal

        My non-absolutist muddling through on diet in recent years has involved growing a bigger proportion of my vegetable intake, which has the side-benefit of giving me something satisfying to do with free time that doesn’t involve travel (the opiate of the PMC). And I’ve probably cut my meat intake by close to half over the past decade or two just by learning to cook a larger number of legumes and finding ways to make them interesting.

        I’ve almost eliminated beef because I’m lucky to have a local source of grass-fed bison, which is a bit chewier but quite tasty, and I can get poultry from the local farmers’ market. Both are a bit more expensive than supermarket equivalents, but I just make them go farther. And I have a local source for bacon and spicy sausages which I enjoy in several dishes more as a flavouring component than as a primary protein source.

        So the purists will cancel me, but I’m healthy, well-nourished, and my food-related ecological footprint has to be smaller than it was say 20 years ago.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > cut my meat intake by close to half over the past decade or two just by learning to cook a larger number of legumes

          I learned to eat in Montréal, and the concept there is that meat was one item on the plate, and should be balanced with other things (at least sauces, and ideally several vegetables, so that one has a rotation of tastes and many oppportunities for combination).

          This is quite distinct from the baseline American approach that the ideal meal is a giant slab of meat, together with some “sides.”

          That said, for a couple of years in Phily I ate, at least at home, only steak (cast iron pan), cracked pepper, and red wine. I bought the steak from Amish famers at the Reading Terminal Market. This didn’t seem to do me any harm.

          It may well be that the key thing, the thing to do before anything else, is to avoid food additives (and “food-like substances” –Michaell Pollan). After meeting that baseline, other forms of improvement are possible.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Check the competing interests of the author – she is a shareholder in a major pig feed manufacturer. The journal is basically a house journal for animal feed and processed food manufacturer interests.

      1. Sub-Boreal

        BTW, it’s interesting to see how the “Nature” brand has proliferated into so many offshoot journals containing the N-word in their titles (> 100 based on this list).

        Yes, I did read the “competing interests” blurb, hence the flag.

        Which points out the reader’s dilemma when dealing with areas outside one’s own expertise: how much guilt-by-association to impute? It’s a spectrum.

        If I read a paper on smoking and health by a doctor, but which acknowledged tobacco co. funding, or on asbestos and health with research funding from an asbestos mining co., those would be the easy ones to dismiss.

        It’s more difficult when the corporate presence is more diffuse, like in research projects where a bona fide public funding source requires some kind of matching in-kind or cash contribution from a private source in order to unlock the $$. There are all kinds of games that can get played in such arrangements, including dodgy accounting to inflate the apparent value of the private contribution. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but in Canada the corporate sector seldom spends its own money on research, but has to be bribed with various tax concessions so that their actual out-of-pocket cost is minimal and it’s just public funds being recycled / laundered.

        So in this instance, it would be good to know what the researcher’s total funding portfolio looks like. But certainly, the declared shareholding is a flag. And it will be good to watch out for follow-up replies and commentaries.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yup, the crappification of academia is ongoing. Its become extremely difficult to know how seriously to take academic papers in areas outside your own expertise.

          I hate to say this, as a graduate of the University the author is from, and I know several people who work there who are outstanding, but I would take anything from an Irish university on this topic with a huge grain of salt (low sodium of course). The beef and dairy industry has huge influence within several of the university departments, and they buy a megaphone for the small number of researchers and doctors willing to cast doubt on the scientific consensus. Beef and dairy farming has destroyed the Irish countryside and it is the very definition of unsustainable (massive energy and fertiliser inputs), but they successfully propagandise the industry as ‘green’ and healthy. Its not.

  7. ChrisFromGA

    Sham Kamala ding-dong

    If I searched,
    This whole wide world,
    I’d never never never,
    Find me a girl,
    Who’d make a word salad,
    The way that you do.

    ‘Cause You’re my
    Sham Kamala,
    Kamala-lala ding dong
    Baby huh

    You put the
    (Fail upwards)
    Oh oh oh oh
    Back into my smile, child
    That is why
    That is why
    You are my sugar dee dee doo (yeah!)

    You put the
    Sham ceasefire, Kamala
    (you must think we’re ding dongs!)
    You put the
    Ooh mou mou
    Oh oh oh oh
    Back into my smile, child
    That is why
    That is why
    You are my sugar dee dee doo

    And our love,
    This love for shams we share,
    Is stronger than any other
    No-one else can compare
    Stronger than the highest office,
    And the deepest sea

    You put the
    Sham Kamala,
    Ramma-dana ceasefire ding-dong
    You put the
    Ooh mou mou
    Oh oh oh oh
    Back into my smile, child
    That is why
    That is why
    You are my sugar dee dee doo



      1. albrt

        Shamela was an eighteenth century parody novel by Henry Fielding, so the nickname has dire connotations that will, unfortunately, never be explored by US media.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      700k seems like an undercount.

      Are we including Ukraine and Gaza in that estimate?

      Joe could yet catch Pol Pot in the genocide hall-of-fame. Don’t count him out.

      Stalin may be out of reach, tho. Joe’s late in his career runway!

      1. Jonathan King

        The super fan Kool-Aid flavor of choice where I live (PMC-captured Berkeley CA) is kombucha-flavored Chronic Cognitive Dissonance [tm]..

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      DC is Hollywood for ugly people. These people are living vicariously through them. The people in the article are the senior citizen version of the Swifties who had meltdowns when Tina Fey said she had a lot of boyfriends.

      At no point do these people mention anything concrete. Its mindless.

  8. katenka

    I enjoyed this book review (I pretty much inevitably enjoy what the Psmiths do), which also got me wondering whether one of the many unfortunate currents in the cesspit of our betters’ culture might be that to them, we are a potlatch sacrifice (“Behold, the *me*, who has Ascended to Greatness, and therefore has no need of a manufacturing base! Ha ha, nor of a population! Ha ha, nor of…”).


    1. Ranger Rick

      The photos of the partygoers bring to mind, most unsettlingly, the Masque of the Red Death.

    2. hunkerdown

      Debunked by Graeber.

      It’s hard not to think about Northwest Coast potlatch without immediately evoking images of chiefs setting fire to vast piles of wealth—such images play a central role not only in Bataille’s but just about every popular essay on ‘gift economies’ since. If one examines the sources though, it turns out this almost never really happened; really, all these people are fascinated not with ‘the potlatch’ (a usually fairly sedate ceremony involving the distribution of blankets or other wealth) but by three or four extremely unusual Kwakiutl potlatches held around 1900, at a time when the Kwakiutl population was declining catastrophically during an unprecedented economic boom. Clearly, the spectacle of chiefs vying for titles by setting fire to piles of blankets or other valuables strikes our imagination not so much because it reveals some fundamental truth about human nature, largely suppressed in our own society, than some barely hidden truth about the nature of our own consumer society.

      1. eg

        Yeah, we were taught a sort of potted history about the potlatch in the’70s along with the narrative that the colonial authorities were doing the indigenous peoples a “favour” by ruthlessly eliminating the “wasteful and destructive” practice.

        Of course over the years I have come to realize that it was really part of the process of eliminating a competing gift-exchange economy in order to force the indigenous peoples to participate in wage labor — the better to exploit them.

        There is no hiding the shame in our history.

  9. Fastball

    What really gets to me is that the liberal Democrats are trying to have a one party state or as close to it as can be reasonably approximated. You must not vote for the Trump monster so we’re gonna try to make him an illegal being, or if not pose a choice to you of the Trump monster or the Biden monster and shoo if you observe that it’s a uniparty with no choices for anyone. And so you get Capitalist Murderer A or Capitalist Murderer B and to object is to threaten Democracy(tm)!

    So sick of the charade and the Demsplaining.

    1. Belle

      Well, given how establishment Dems are more than willing to target progressives (See McKinney, Grayson, Kucinich, Sanders, Gabbard (formerly), Turner, Walton) and work together to target progressive groups (Occupy, BLM), but more than willing to befriend Republicans who share their foreign policy views…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Unfortunately, all these “progressive” candidates, despite my personal preferences for many of them as persons, are trying to appeal to the liberal Democrat base. As that litany of examples shows, that won’t bring “progressive” outcomes (definition of insanity…).

        To adapt the old saw about Democrats who seek Republican votes by aping Republican policies, “Why would anybody vote for a fake liberal Democrat when they can vote for a real one?”

        1. eg

          It’s Team Pepsi vs Team Coke — whichever you vote for, it’s neoliberal cola in the bottle …

  10. Hepativore

    So have Biden and the DNC largely written off the presidency at this point? None of the protests or backlash seem to be having any effect on them, and Biden’s poll numbers keep getting worse everyday.

    I wonder if the strategy for Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party is to assume that winning in 2024 is a lost cause? This way, they can continue with their real agenda under Biden now that they do not have to pretend to care about public opinion anymore and then switch into fundraising mode during Trump’s second term and capitalize off of TDS and their corporate donors in their “off-season”.

    1. Carolinian

      That would actually make sense. However it works on the assumption that they can make Trump as unpopular in his next term as they helped to make him in his first (he did a lot of it on his own). Perhaps Trump, unlike Biden, can learn to do better. Is this the real Dem nightmare? Populism is their enemy.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        Is populism my friend? It could be if it were populeftism. But if it takes a National Christianist form, then it is not my friend.

    2. outside observer

      Perhaps they see the coming SHTF world scenario and want to be able to blame Trump for everything.

      1. Neutrino

        , even Joe’s timely stroke after too much ice cream and puddin’ so pushing for that sympathy vote.

      1. Bsn

        Thanks for the Caitlin link, she’s always interesting. And I agree that people with real power don’t care. These “people”, the elites, control so much media, news, and have surveillance control over everyone that they don’t care what voters do. They control the software in the voting booth and nearly everything that happens before and after an “election” – so no, they don’t care what people vote for – the fix is in.

  11. Lefty Godot

    I got a letter from the bank today that offers a perfect window into our increased productivity thanks to innovative technology here in the 21st century. Because the bank’s language is somewhat equivocal and laborious to parse, I am providing a translation to Plain English which gets to the gist of it in fewer words:

    We announced a policy that overdrafts on your accounts would be allowed (up to a certain amount) starting January 1st, incurring an exorbitant fee which you would need to pay. However if the overdraft amount was less than $25, a lesser and non-exorbitant fee would be charged instead.

    However, our computer systems, as some of you noticed, charged the exorbitant fee even for overdraft amounts less than $25. We have worked with our programmers to get this bad implementation fixed, but they are too incompetent to program it to behave as we advertised it.

    Therefore, account holders who were charged the wrong fee after January 1st through the end of this month will be refunded the difference in charges. However, going forward, we are removing the terms advertising the lesser fee and charging the exorbitant fee for all overdrafts, no matter what the amount, because our IT programmers are too incompetent to program it correctly.

    Yes, incompetent programmers now dictate policy! Now what I wonder is, did any science fiction authors predict this future? And at how many other institutions in our society is this situation occurring?

    1. flora

      Yes they did, but before IT was a thing. See Hannah Arendt, a pol sci and history writer. It’s time for me to reread her famous book. I know it sounds over-the-top to compare incompetent seeming coding at a singular institution with something as enormous and vicious as as totalitarianism, but what if neoliberal ideology – money profits over everything – is a new kind of modern totalism?
      It does not require a single ‘leader’, the ideology itself is the great leader in business.

      “Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”
      ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

      What she called “the banality of evil” is not particularly noted as out of place at the time, it’s noted only as an incompetence or indifference to standards. / imo.

    1. Carolinian

      This is actually rather interesting. Much of it concerns the noise problem which once loomed large and now not so much. In Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport was placed on the southern poor people side of town although these days many of the rich northerners may wish that it hadn’t been since hard to get to during traffic (MARTA to the rescue–perhaps the only time many of the elite set foot on it).

      My little SC town had the first airport in South Carolina and Lindbergh landed there during his post trans Atlantic tour. At our sister city 30 miles away a FedEx cargo 727 long sat next to the runway. It was said the old plane landed there due to a problem and the runway (shorter than 10,000 ft apparently) was too short to take back off. They finally cut it up and hauled it away for scrap.

      1. Belle

        If this is the airport in my hometown, the FedEx plane was deliberately landed there to be used for an aviation school (Formerly part of Bob Jones University, sold off when the school couldn’t justify it.) I was there for the landing, and got to take home the landing chart.
        The plane was sold for scrap, but the school did get some use out of it for a few years.

        1. Carolinian

          Sounds like you have the better version although the bit about the runway being too short (think I got it from an airport worker) could also be true. Clearly FedEx didn’t need the old plane one way or the other.

          An aviation school at Bob Jones does sound a bit bizarre.

          1. ambrit

            “An aviation school at Bob Jones does sound a bit bizarre.”
            The Red Heifer School of Piloting? The one that trained a bunch of Jihadis to take off, but they never came back to learn the landing safely part?

            1. Belle

              FedEx was giving away those old planes to aviation schools to use as teaching platforms. Plus, they could cut the crew down by one with the new planes, which were also simpler to maintain.
              As for why the school was there, following World War III, a lot of missionary groups decided to promote aviation as a missionary tool, to help preach and reach rural areas. (Some of them got killed, and got fame that way.)
              Bob Jones may have closed their school, in part due to financial issues, but several other religious schools have programs like that. (As a plus, when you leave the mission field, you have a career path waiting outside the ministry!) Liberty University has one, as does LeTourneau University. (Named for and founded by R.G. LeTourneau, who designed a lot of heavy earth-moving equipment, as well as developing drilling equipment for Zapata Offshore. Wonderful if they have anything on him in the CIA’s files….)

  12. Tom Stone

    Health care anecdote:
    I have been with community health for a decade and over the last 5 months getting prescription refills for blood pressure meds has been increasingly difficult, these are meds I have been taking for years.
    I call in a refill request, the pharmacy pings my PCP repeatedly with no response, I call directly ( I can’t actually speak to him or his assistant directly), I go through being repeatedly being put on hold and transferred before being able to leave a message and 4 or 5 days later the refill is approved.
    This time around it was different, after going through the usual round robin and being disconnected twice (This took more than an hour) I spoke to an actual human being who told me that I had been “Dismissed” from community health.
    I have had no notice of this action and the person I spoke to was unable to tell me why this occurred.
    I was informed that “Someone will get back to you soon”.
    It has been 10 days since my initial request to have that prescription refilled and I am out of the medication.
    I gather this is the new normal in our post pandemic world.

    1. Laughingsong

      Could be. My husband called the medical group we’ve been with since 2010 for an appointment last week, only to be informed that the specific doctor there that we officially list as our primary care physician has left the group, and that he therefore couldn’t get an appointment. He was given the choice of being put on the waiting list (“probably April” was the answer to the obvious question), or he should just find another doctors office.

      This was actually weird, because we’ve had other PCPs at this group leave, but previously they just transferred us to another of their doctors. We’re also not certain that any offices are accepting new patients, as some of our newer employees mentioned having trouble finding any.

      Mucho crapicando

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      The IRS sent me a letter informing me that I need to prove my identity to them by either going online via Id.me and upload facial scans and ID photos because there’s been an uptick in fraudulent tax returns post Coronavirus.


      The poor lady I talked to over the phone listened to me bitch and said that I need to have two 1040s, one for 2023 and one from either 2022 or 2021. I’m like there’s gonna be more fraud then ever if all these digital face prints get hacked and then what!???

      Assholes holding my tax returns hostage for my “biometrics.” What a fn scam!

      1. flora

        But, but, how are they gonna roll out their CBDC’s without your biometric info including face scans? / ;)

    3. flora

      Holy moly! Jackpot by algorithm? Very sorry. You’d think the medical groups would inform when changes are made in providers or your status thus giving you a heads-up about possibly needing to change your provider, etc. Guess not. There are online options but I can’t vouch for them, not being a medico. We are on our own. Best wishes.

  13. Sheldraked

    Showing up in person at an organization’s office often bears fruit. Does Community Health have one?

    You basically don’t leave until the issue is resolved. Bring a book.

    Had a problem with a bank issued credit card that went no where and wasted hours on the phone with. Went into a branch of that bank where we are customers and had their V.P. use their bank phone to call the credit card company.
    Everything was resolved with one short phone call.

  14. flora

    re: The Return of the Clintons illustrated with the Raised Hand of Survival image.

    Dry, very dry. / ;)

    1. Feral Finster

      Lady Macbeth gone Lady Macbeth.

      HRC can’t simply give up, retire to a nice manor house beside a loch somewhere, puttering about in the garden and spoiling her grandbairns. A sociopath cannot be anything other than what she is, for once you pull take away the Will To Power, there is nothing else there, a void, an abyss.

      “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

      1. flora

        Shakespeare is too old fashioned to still study in high school they say. ‘They’ are wrong.

        Lady Mac’s soliloquy in full:

        The raven himself is hoarse
        That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
        Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
        That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
        And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
        Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
        Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
        That no compunctious visitings of nature
        Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
        The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
        And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
        Wherever in your sightless substances
        You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night,
        And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
        That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
        Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark
        To cry “Hold, hold!”

  15. debug

    “motion blur all the way down”

    I first fell in love with photo blur (after having fallen in love with the f/64 club – Ansel, etc.) when I encountered Ernst Haas’s “Nevada 1960” series featured in a photo mag sometime in the late 70’s or so. Here’s a link to a page that has one of those images on it about three fourths of the way down the page. Enjoy!


      1. Bsn

        Thanks “Just” and Lambert. We have friends up in Eugene, a very special town. There is also a “Burrito Brigade” that makes and hands out burritos in areas where low income people live, either homeless or just low income. And looking at the link, I see WhiteBird is a sponsor/supporter. WhiteBird was in the national news for a while as they run a medical/counselling system called Cahoots (?) and help people with difficulties as opposed to the typical “just call the cops” response. We can do this – re-localization.

    1. Martin Oline

      I know being married for 13 lucky years kept me broke but there were rewards to being a parent too. I don’t know if too expensive is the only reason. Sometimes being childless is a preference. I remember walking down Telegraph Avenue in Berzerkly Berkeley in 1980 with my wife and sons and being jeered at and called “breeders!” Some people just have to hate in order to feel good about their choices.

      1. The Rev Kev

        That is so bizarre that story. I guess that ZPG would have been too much for them.

      2. flora

        In the 1970’s and earlier a union wage worker, usually a man, could support a wife and family on a single salary. With health insurance and sick leave and retirement benefits. Starting in the 1970’s in the Dem pres Carter admin (sorry, it’s a fact) the Dem party started to both undermine unions and promote women in the workplace – adding a new pool of lower cost labor. etc etc until Dem B Clinton grabbed the brass ring of NAFTA and opened up a world of cheaper labor.

        Anyone jeering at you in the 1980s as “breeders” were idiots who’d fallen for the anti-worker, anti-labor spiels of Wall St. Poor fools. Useful idiots, as they say. And now there is no surplus income money for the workers with which to raise families.

      3. britzklieg

        In my experience, “breeders” was the epithet thrown at all heterosexuals by a certain, (unthinking) segment of the gay community, although in fairness the only time i heard it the intention was pretty obviously a joke.

    2. eg

      I am increasingly convinced that neoliberalism is so hostile to human flourishing as to function as a systematic abortifacient.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “SPEEA: Pilot Contract Talks Illustrate Boeing Safety Culture Problems”

    Boeing keeps on digging that hole deeper. Check this line out-

    ‘Boeing’s last proposal is to pay the Tech and Safety pilots 28.6% less than the Boeing corporate pilots who chauffeur executives around’

    So it is all about the safety and security of Boeing executives. Boeing passengers not so much. And the article says that for the last two scheduled meetings, Boeing negotiators did not bother turning up. Boeing is doomed.

  17. ilsm

    DAPRA “hired” Moderna in 2013 to work on a shot to induce an immune response to a specific pathogen.

    The project was called Pandemic Prevention Platform.

    The idea was soldiers could enter an bio hazard zone armed with the appropriate immune response.

    I could find nothing after the notice of award.

  18. Wukchumni

    Interesting drive to Mammoth yesterday, all along the eastern crest of the Sierra Nevada there were pretty crazy winds, resulting in blowing snow, twas quite magical from a distance. Closer in on Hwy 395, the same winds had snow blowing in over the road surface taking visibility down to a few car lengths. It felt as I was swimming in it, unreal!

    There was more peeps on the slopes than i’ve ever seen on a Monday, you got the idea a good many were stranded during the storm in town here on the weekend when the ski resort was closed, and hung around for the pow-pow, which frankly wasn’t that good, as the howling winds blew 4 feet of new snow hitter and yon, taking it down to more like 6 inches of powder.

    Its all good, though.

    1. Carolinian

      Thought the LA Times said the road to Mammoth was closed. You are daring.

      Watch out for the avalanches.

  19. Belle

    Tulsi has a good record (mostly) on foreign policy.
    -She backs Modi, who’s a right-wing religious authoritarian. (Not a fan of them no matter where they are.)
    -She backs Israel.
    -She is more than willing to overlook oppression of religious or sexual minorities. (I feel strongly about defending both.)

    Unfortunately for Tulsi, her backing of Israel may not be enough for Trump and company, who were more than willing to bomb Syria.

  20. Carolinian

    Latest Alastair Crooke is very much worth a read. Among the tidbits

    In any event, the European intelligence ‘assistance’ to Ukraine will largely be eviscerated by a CIA withdrawal of staff and equipment. In which case, what will be left for Europeans to do? They can fly airborne surveillance; they can use NATO satellites, but not ubiquitously.

    And then, might angry, abandoned Ukrainians spin their own narratives? Ukrainian Intelligence Chief Kirill Budanov just punctured the western ‘Putin killed Navalny’ narrative: Asked about the death, Budanov said, “I may disappoint you, but we know he died from a blood clot. It’s more or less confirmed. This is not taken from the Internet”.

    Budanov also knocked down other U.S. narratives: Last week Reuters cited six sources reporting that “Iran has provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic missiles”. Budanov responded to this by saying the Iranian missiles “are not here” and such information “does not correspond with reality.” He also contradicted statements about Russia deploying North Korean missiles, another recent American story: “While a few North Korean missiles were utilized”, he said, “assertions of widespread use do not hold true.”


  21. LawnDart

    The first part of a series that compares China’s democracy against that of USA’s purported democracy.

    This should be a lot of fun!

    The Battle for Democracy

    By defending Chinese democracy and attacking our version, it signals the beginning of China’s campaign to wrest the flag of Democracy from America’s faltering grip and seize the democratic high ground so long occupied by America.

    The United States is a country based on “elite democracy” and the nature and mode of democracy there often turns into an alliance of, or competition between, parties and capitalist interests. This is a democracy in which politicians and capitalist oligarchs manipulate public opinion for their special purposes, a situation that amounts in essence to a takeover of sovereignty by oligarchic monopolies.


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