2:00PM Water Cooler 4/11/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

American Goldfinch, Hyland-Bush Lakes Park–Visitor Center, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States.

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Mandy Cohen et al. write a paywalled article in the NEJM that erases Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions from public health, and warns aerosol scientists and ventilation engineers that their work won’t be funded.

(2) Biden ballot access fight in Ohio and Alabama.

(3) Trump at Chick-Fil-A.

(4) Taibbi on class (interview with Les Leopold).


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

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Biden Administration

Four years after the start of an airborne pandemic:

Sounds impressive, until you realize that CDC — our premier public health agency — just threw aerosol scientists and ventilation engineers under the bus and erased Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions from the public health lexicon. So you have to wonder what “revolutionize” and “prioritized” really mean.


Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, April 5

Here is Friday’s RCP poll. Trump is still up in all the Swing States (more here), but still leading with one exception: PA. I’ve highlighted it again, (1) because BIden is now up there, and (2) it’s an outlier, has been for weeks. Why isn’t Trump doing well there? (I’ll work out a better way to do this, but for now: Blue dot = move toward Biden; red dot = move toward Trump. No statistical signficance to any of it, and state polls are bad anyhow!)

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Trump (R): “Prosecutor assigned to probe Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones in Trump election interference case” [The Hill]. “A Georgia prosecutor has been assigned to criminally investigate the state’s Republican lieutenant governor, Burt Jones, for his alleged role in former President Trump’s attempt to subvert the state’s 2020 election results. Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia, tasked himself with the probe 21 months after the Fulton County district attorney’s office was disqualified from Jones’s case. The office was disqualified because Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) headlined a fundraiser for a Democratic candidate who went on to face Jones in his race for lieutenant governor. The judge overseeing the matter described Willis’s decision to partake as a ‘what are you thinking?’ moment.” And not for the last time! More: “In a brief statement Thursday announcing his appointment, Skandalakis’s office said ‘no further comments will be made at this time.’ Jones was one of 16 pro-Trump electors who falsely signed documents claiming the former president won the state in 2020. While he was a state senator, he also attempted to convene a special session of Georgia’s Legislature with the aim of overturning President Biden’s win. Jones said in a statement to The Hill that he looks forward to a ‘quick resolution’ of the matter, slamming Willis for making a ‘mockery of this legal process.'”

Trump (R): “The porn star, the president and a ‘hush money’ payment” [Agence France Presse]. “In 2011, as Trump was contemplating a White House run against Democrat Barack Obama, ‘In Touch’ magazine contacted [Stormy] Daniels about the Lake Tahoe encounter. Daniels took a polygraph exam, which she says she passed, and was to have been paid $15,000. The story never ran, squashed by Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer nicknamed ‘The Pitbull.’ Daniels said she was threatened soon afterwards by a man in a parking lot who warned her to ‘Leave Trump alone.’ The Lake Tahoe story resurfaced in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign in which Trump was the Republican nominee and at a time when he was already facing flak for crude remarks about women made in an ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. The National Enquirer, a tabloid owned by a Trump ally, discovered that Daniels was seeking bidders for her potentially damaging story about her tryst with Trump. The tabloid put her in touch with Cohen. Cohen, who has since turned against Trump, acknowledged arranging a $130,000 ‘hush money’ payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence about the 2006 encounter. Daniels and Trump — under the pseudonyms Peggy Peterson and David Dennison — entered into a nondisclosure agreement prepared by Cohen. Trump’s reimbursements to Cohen for the $130,000 payment form the basis of the 34 counts of falsifying business records he faces as part of a scheme to ‘unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election.'” • I so don’t want to read Bragg’s filing, but I’m going to have to gear up and do it. The “hush money” frame bores me to tears. In a world where Jeffrey Epstein and P. Diddy have hours of videotape showing whole elite cadres at play, we’re worried because a billionaire paid off a mistress? Really? OTOH, if Trump used campaign money to do that, it strikes me as wrong (and perhaps illegal). But in AFP’s explanation, which makes Bragg’s case seem convoluted and creaky, that doesn’t seem to be the case; in fact, a flex net (Enquirer editor + Cohen) seems to have handled the matter for Trump. That seems to be where the falsified business records aspect comes in, but isn’t that normally a misdemeanor? Did the “unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election” part turn it into a felony? What in a candidate’s life does not influence an election? If Melania changed her cosmetics so she looked better on TV, that could “influence the election” ffs. So I suppose Bragg should be looking into her records too. All this is a long-winded and exasperated way of saying, again, I need to read Bragg’s filing. But from the press coverage, the case should never have been brought, and wouldn’t have been if Trump weren’t Trump, and New York weren’t a Democrat state.

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Trump (R): “Can I have thirty milkshakes?”

I don’t care of it’s a photo op. Of course it’s a photo op!

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Biden (D): “Resurgent inflation looms over Joe Biden’s White House bid” [Financial Times]. “The 3.5 per cent annual increase in the March consumer price index followed a 3.2 per cent gain a month earlier, and has made it suddenly much harder for Biden to argue that inflation is continuing to move steadily downwards since hitting a multi-decade peak in the summer of 2022. If followed by other higher than expected inflation figures in the coming weeks, it could also lead the Federal Reserve to push back interest rate cuts that would bring relief from high borrowing costs for many American households this year. Even though the US economy has created more than 15mn jobs under Biden’s watch, the jump in inflation during his tenure has cast a cloud over his handling of the economy and remains one of his biggest political weaknesses heading into the November vote. White House officials on Wednesday said that they had always expected the process of bringing down inflation to be bumpy — and that they believe inflation will soon begin easing again.”

Biden (D): “Biden Zeitgeist Watch” [Joe Klein, Sanity Clause]. I suppose I should be gratified that Klein — “Joke Line,” back in the days of the blogosphere — has adopted “Zeitgeist Watch” as a trope [lambert blushes modestly], and I agree with the bottom line at the end: “Biden is in trouble. He needs to talk to people outside his inner circle—and then take action—if he’s going to have a chance in November.” • But not much of what’s in between.

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Biden (D): “GOP-run states are warning that they could keep Biden off the ballot” [Business Insider]. “It all comes down to deadlines that fall before Biden is officially nominated, and both Ohio and Alabama officials say Biden could be too late…. [T]he state of Alabama requires political parties to provide their certificate of nomination no later than 82 days before the election, which is set for November 5. The Democratic National Convention — where Biden would get the formal nod — is scheduled to begin four days after that deadline, on August 19th. The same issue arose in 2020 when the Republican National Convention, where Trump was officially nominated, happened after Alabama’s deadline. But Trump was still allowed on the ballot that year because the state’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a special bill making a one-time exception to its deadline. Alabama officials could do the same thing again this year for the Democrats — if they wanted to. The state of Ohio, run by GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, has also flagged that the Democratic convention is happening after Ohio’s own August 7 deadline. Like Alabama, Ohio requires political parties to give their official nominations before the deadline if they want to appear on the ballot. And ahead of the 2020 election, the state also made a one-time exception to that rule because both the DNC and RNC that year were scheduled for after the deadline, a spokesperson for the Ohio Secretary of State confirmed to BI.” But: “‘Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states,’ a spokesperson for the Biden campaign said in a statement shared with BI. ‘State officials have the ability to grant provisional ballot access certification prior to the conclusion of presidential nominating conventions.’ ‘In 2020 alone,” the statement continues, ‘states like Alabama, Illinois, Montana, and Washington all allowed provisional certification for Democratic and Republican nominees.'”

Biden (D): “Joe Biden campaign hints at litigation if Alabama keeps president off ballot” [Alabama Reflector]. “In a letter to Mike Jones, general counsel for the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, Birmingham Attorney Barry Ragsdale, representing the campaign, said the party could provisionally certify Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as Democratic Party’s nominees by an Aug. 15 deadline…. [Alabama Secretary of State Wes] Allen on Thursday doubled-down on his stance. ‘On January 16, 2023, I took an oath to uphold Alabama law and that is what I am going to do. My office will accept all certifications that comply with Alabama [law]. That statute does not provide for ‘provisional certifications’ or any other exceptions,’ he said in a statement to the Reflector.

Biden (D): “Ohio and Alabama Are Playing Ballot Games With Biden” [Bloomberg]. “Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Cleveland.com that no major-party presidential nominee, let alone the incumbent president, has ever been excluded from a state ballot over what is essentially a technicality. Deliberately leaving the Democratic nominee off the ballot because a deadline was missed by two weeks or less is a cynical and offensive approach to what should be a mostly nonpartisan office. Secretaries of state, no matter their party, are charged with administering elections on behalf of all voters. Most take a fair and scrupulously neutral approach to the job…. Rules for thee but not for me is seldom a good idea — especially when it comes to what should be the impartial administration of elections that are the very foundation on which our democracy rests.” • In this case, “our democracy” is not used cynically….

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Kennedy (I): “Rep. Ro Khanna calls on RFK Jr.’s running mate to step down. Here’s how Nicole Shanahan responded” [CBS]. “Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California called on Nicole Shanahan, the running mate of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, to step down, warning that supporting Kennedy could pave the way for former President Donald Trump to win the election. He made his pitch to her in a letter he shared with CBS News, though he hadn’t yet sent it to Shanahan.” Courteous! More: “‘Even Trump himself, and other members of his team, have admitted that a RFK Jr. ticket will help his reelection,’ Khanna wrote in his letter. ‘While you may have fair disagreements on the Democratic Party’s platform, it is clear that a second term for Trump would be disastrous for climate and undo the work of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant action Congress has taken on clean energy and climate change in our nation’s history,’ Khanna went on. When reached by CBS News, Shanahan opted to post her response to the letter on social media, making it clear she had little patience for Khanna’s latest thoughts on the Kennedy campaign.” • Here it is:

[1] Chair of Pershing Capital, a large hedge fund.

[2] Prominent Democrat troll, account with 748K followers (I have always found “dumbass” to be an especially graceless locution, but hitherto I have associated it with conservatives. Live and learn!)

“RFK’s running mate Nicole Shanahan tears into Democrat Ro Khanna for calling on her to ditch the presidential candidate because it could help Trump win: ‘How anti-democratic!'” [Daily Mail]. “Following her post to X, RFK Jr. posted: ‘I’m so grateful for your courage and grace Nicole. ‘I have always admired RoKhanna. His flip flop here is disappointing. The party has power to bludgeon men of character into wavering.'” • Ouch!~

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NE: “Charlie Kirk: Making Nebraska Winner-Take-All Unlocks The West For Trump” [RealClearPolitics]. KIRK: “If we are able to get Nebraska to become winner-take-all and no longer do this goofy system where they have one electoral vote for the liberal city of Omaha. Joe Biden would then not be able to get to 270 electoral votes, it would end in a 269 tie and it would go to the House of Representatives and Donald Trump will become president of the United States.” But there’s a snag: “For many reasons I don’t want to get into right now the legislature was not able to get their act together last week. Fine. Special session. We have the votes if a special session is called to get this done…. Phase one is the governor of Nebraska, who has been terrific on this, Governor Pillen, has to call a special session. This is a call to action for the entire War Room posse, not just Nebraska. All across the country to contact the governor of Nebraska and say call a special session to go to winner-take-all.” • Lot of moving parts here. Let’s wait and see.

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“How Taxpayers Will Heavily Subsidize Democrat Boots on the Ground This Election” [RealClearInvestigations]. • Because tax-exempt Democrat NGOs optimize for demographics that will support them. Perhaps we should take out the demographic aspect and target based on sortition….

“Republicans Flag Problems in Small-Donor Cash Crunch” [RealClearPolitics]. “In its first year of operation, [Republican donation platform] WinRed and Trump’s combined efforts had a good track record. Trump, for instance, amassed $626.6 million from small-dollar donors, 35% more than Joe Biden did during the 2020 cycle. So far in the 2024 campaign, however, Trump can’t count on such a significant small-dollar advantage to make up for Democrats’ overall grassroots fundraising advantage. Last year, he raised just $51 million from small donors, less than half what he raised in 2019. Meanwhile, ActBlue collected $959,627,475, nearly a billion dollars, in small increments through the end of February, compared to WinRed’s $430,965,507 as of December of last year, the latest federal election records available. The RNC says that large and small donations to entities supporting Trump have steadily risen since November when it became clear that he would be the nominee. They also point to the former president’s April 6 Palm Beach fundraiser, which hauled in a record $50.5 million following Biden’s star-studded event on March 28 in New York that brought in $26 million…. The next Federal Election Commission filing deadline will provide a clearer picture, but many Republicans are on edge, angry that WinRed hasn’t lived up to its hype and worried that leadership changes at the RNC and in the House and Senate will all contribute to a GOP money chase loss in a critical election year.”


“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

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Covid Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Transmission: H5N1

“CAFOs, novel influenza, and the need for One Health approaches” [One Health]. This is very dense and I can’t summarize it (though it’s worth a read, clearly). APHIS, in its mission statement, supports One Health. Here is a diagram of the “One Health Triad”:

Elite Maleficence

“Integrating Public Health and Health Care — Protecting Health as a Team Sport” [Charlene A. Wong, M.D., M.S.H.P., Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., and Mandy K. Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., NEJM]. Here, in its entirety, is the Abstract: “Protecting health is a team sport — yet the public health and clinical care systems meant to advance this goal have been siloed for too long.” • I guess the public isn’t on the team, the article is paywalled. (Strange that Mandy didn’t get the paywall lifted, because NEJM has been quite good at making Covid articles open access). Fortunately, some kind soul imaged the article:

And guess what! There are other people Mandy doesn’t want on her team besides the public! Table 1:

(For the panel at top left: CDC doubles or triples down on Covid as a seasonal respiratory virus, when (a) Covid is not seasonal, and (b) is respiratory in transmission but not in its effects, which are vascular, neurological, and long-lasting, unlike RSV, say. Of course, CDC wants to put all these infections in the same cubes and on the same lanyards back in Atlanta, so here we are.)

More importantly: Note the three-times repeated mantra: Vaccines MR SUBLIMINAL Ka-ching!, testing MR SUBLIMINAL Ka-ching!, treatment MR SUBLIMINAL Ka-ching!. Mandy erases non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) MR SUBLIMINAL Zero ka-ching! entirely, since NPIs are none of those there. Apparently, going forward as we say, ventilation, masking, and quarantine are to be erased from the public health lexicon (quarantine despite its use since the mid-17th century). Notice also that vaccines, testing, treatment do not include prevention (“better than cure”), which is what NPIs accomplish; so not only are NPIs erases, but the personnel who could design and implement preventive strategies for airborne diseases are comprehensively rejected. CDC wants no input from aerosol scientists or ventilation engineers (like ASHRAE or, for that matter, NIOSH). They’re not on Mandy’s team! This is also shown in the text of the document:

The scope of “collaborative efforts” with “health care partners” is defined by Table 1. Hence, no investment for “data, lab, or workforce” that includes NPIs, ventilation, or aerosol tranmission generally. Needless to say, this does not bode well for the upcoming HICPAC guidance, where hospitals tried to ram through reducing NPIs until a public outcry stopped them, at least temporariliy.

Finally, “vaccines, testing, treatment” is also a comprehensive rejection of the “Swiss Cheese Model” of multiple layers of protection. Going forward, those and the model itself are to be outside the scope of “public health” entirely.

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot April 8: Regional[2] Biobot April 8:
Variants[3] CDC March 30 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data April 14: National [6] CDC March 23:
National[7] Walgreens April 1: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic March 30:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC March 18: Variants[10] CDC March 18:
Weekly deaths New York Times March 16: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times March 16:


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) Our curve has now flattened out at a level far above valleys under Trump. 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) No backward revisons….

[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) CDC seems to have killed this off, since the link is broken, I think in favor of this thing. I will try to confirm. UPDATE Yes, leave it to CDC to kill a page, and then announce it was archived a day later. And heaven forfend CDC should explain where to go to get equivalent data, if any. I liked the ER data, because it seemed really hard to game. And speaking of Emergency Departments:

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Looks like a very gradual leveling off to a non-zero baseline, to me. I suppose to a tame epidemiologist it looks like “endemicity,” but to me it looks like another tranche of lethality.

[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) JN.1 dominates utterly.

[11] Looks like the Times isn’t reporting death data any more? Maybe I need to go back to The Economist:

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US fell by 11,000 to 211,000 in the week ending April 6th, the lowest in one month, and below market expectations of 215,000. The decline countered the increase brought by the upwardly revised, two-month high in the earlier week to add further evidence of a tight labor market in the US economy, in line with the strength in the latest jobs report, to add leeway for the Fed to hold rates higher for longer to combat inflation.”

Inflation: “United States Producer Prices” [Trading Economics]. “Producer Prices in the United States increased to 143.69 points in March from 143.47 points in February of 2024. Producer Prices in the United States averaged 116.59 points from 2009 until 2024, reaching an all time high of 143.69 points in March of 2024 and a record low of 100.20 points in November of 2009.”

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Finance: “Credit-card delinquency rates were worst on record in Fed study” [Yahoo Finance]. “Almost 3.5% of card balances were at least 30 days past due as of the end of December, the Philadelphia Fed said. That’s the highest figure in the data series going back to 2012, and up by about 30 basis points from the previous quarter. The ‘Stress among cardholders was further underscored in payment behavior, as the share of accounts making minimum payments rose 34 basis points to a series high,’ according to the report.” • Best economy ever!

Tech: We own our own search data:

So, does that mean the NSA has to disgorge all Google search histories from its Utah Data Center?

Manufacturing: “Amid cover-up of whistleblower John Barnett’s ‘suicide,’ new Boeing whistleblower exposes safety violations in manufacture of 787 Dreamliner” [WSWS]. “Like Barnett, Salehpour told the Times he had been repeatedly retaliated against for bringing up his concerns about the shortcut methods employed by Boeing on Dreamliner jets. The engineer’s attorney, Debra S. Katz, said that when Salehpour approached his supervisors with his concerns or tried to bring them up at safety meetings, he was silenced and transferred to another product line, the 777.” • Surprisingly, WSWS omits that Salehpour was threatened with violence by his superiors. Hat tip to alert reader Car Burglar for noticing this passage in the Seattle Times piece:

“At one point, his [787] boss threatened him with physical violence,” [Salehpour lawyer Debra Katz] added. “That was documented. That actually was in writing. He turned the threat of physical violence over to HR and HR did not discipline the offending supervisor.”

Given the threat of violence, no doubt the Charleston police are diligently interviewing Boeing’s managers. Although the fact that the supervisor feft free to put a threat of violence in writing suggests a sense of impunity…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 54 Neutral (previous close: 61 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 10 at 2:00:01 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“As bans spread, fluoride in drinking water divides communities across the US” [USA Today]. “In February, the Board of County Commissioners in Union County, whose seat is Monroe, voted 3-2 to stop adding fluoride to drinking water at the Yadkin River Water Treatment Plant, the only water source wholly owned and operated by the county. But the decision came after heated discussions among residents and county officials. ‘My children had the blessing of growing up with fluoride in their water and … they have very little dental issues,’ said Commissioner Richard Helms ahead of the vote. A fellow commissioner saw it differently: ‘Let’s stop putting something in the water that’s meant to treat us, and give people the freedom to choose,’ said David Williams.” • For those who came in late:

I have often thought that General Ripper was directionallly correct — flouride, no; but PFAS, Endocrine Disruptors, and heaven knows what else.

The Gallery

“Pompeii: Breathtaking new paintings found at ancient city” [BBC]. “A third of the lost city has still to be cleared of volcanic debris. The current dig, the biggest in a generation, is underlining Pompeii’s position as the world’s premier window on the people and culture of the Roman empire. Park director Dr Gabriel Zuchtriegel presented the ‘black room’ exclusively to the BBC on Thursday. It was likely the walls’ stark colour was chosen to hide the smoke deposits from lamps used during entertaining after sunset. ‘In the shimmering light, the paintings would have almost come to life,’ he said.” • For example:

Class Warfare

“The Real Book About the ‘White Working Class'” (interview with Matt Taibbi) [Les Leopold, Racket News]. I’m so happy Taibbi covered this topic, and in a not-paywalled post to boot (I was getting a little tired of reading about how those eugenicist Great Barrington goons wrapped themselves in the First Amendment). The whole piece is worth reading, but here is a key analytical tool, crisply explained:

The passage of NAFTA led to a lot of job losses, but a bigger cause is a phenomenon I’ve covered here and which Leopold tackles: stock buybacks.

Buybacks happen when big companies use cash or borrow funds to buy their own stock on the marketplace, then retire the shares. Both the buying and the retiring tend to drive share prices up, which is a good thing for executives compensated in company stock, but less advantageous for those not privy to the company’s plans.

The implications of this are crucial. As Leopold notes below, most people assume layoffs are just cold hard economic reality, the unavoidable result of market forces taking their toll on uncompetitive businesses. But it’s not always true. Healthy companies will cut jobs just to up share prices for executives, who increasingly are compensated in company equity. Leopold cites a stat saying 85% of executive compensation comes in the form of stock awards, creating massive incentives to spend on buybacks. I’ve seen both higher and lower numbers, but even the low end (Harvard Business Review put the number at 59% globally and 75% in “the Americas”) is significant.

In the end, Leopold posits that while Democratic voters believe they need to shift to more illiberal positions to win working class voters, they’d more likely need to emphasize mass layoffs as a root of rural anger, which would force them to choose between Wall Street donors and rural votes.


[TAIBBI:] What’s the biggest misconception about layoffs?

[LEOPOLD:] Most people think that mass layoffs are inevitable, right? They’re the result of technology, globalization. You can’t do anything about it, and that’s why nobody cares about it. Oh, AI is going to come in, something else is going to come in. We’re going to lay off workers. You can’t do anything about it. And all you have to do is open the hood a little bit, and what you’ll find behind most mass layoffs is a stock buyback and/or a leveraged buyout. They’ve taken a shitload of loans using a company as collateral and now to service those loans, you lay off a couple thousand workers and you’re all set. It’s remarkable. And then the BS that they tell working families is, “don’t worry, your kids, they’re going to get educated. They’re going to get high-tech jobs.” But last year, the high-tech industry laid off 262,000 workers, and so far it’s 57,000 this year.

TAIBBI: Yikes.

[LEOPOLD:] These are booming, highly profitable industries. They’re also the leaders in stock buybacks. The best way to pay for stock buyback is just lop off a bunch of workers. Of course you probably know that better than I do. This has been ripping through the news industry, all kinds of consolidations that go on where a private equity company comes in and the first thing they do is cut costs. Right? Lay off workers.


[LEOPOLD:]So this whole issue has just been swept under the rug. It’s hard for me to get it out from under the rug. We estimate 30 million people have gone through a mass layoff since 1996.

[TAIBBI:]: That number is amazing. It would explain almost the entire shift in American politics.

[LEOPOLD:] I hate to be so focused on one force, but it’s a powerful force. I mean, think about it. Look, you and I are lucky. We have skills where we can move around. It’s not devastating, but can you imagine if you just go from one unstable situation to another? I saw it in these Oberlin workers. A couple of them got very anti-liberal. They used to respect this liberal college and its values, but now they’ve been treated like this for no reason and goodbye. They don’t respect them anymore. I asked the question at a steelworkers’ workshop with about 50 people in there. I said, how many people here have gone through a mass layoff. It was 48.

Mass layoffs, mass infection…

News of the Wired

“Watch your garden glow with new genetically modified bioluminescent petunias” [NPR]. “The petunia with bright, white flowers looks like something you’d buy in spring at a garden nursery. But, when the lights are turned out, the petals slowly start lighting up with a greenish, white glow. The plant is always glowing, it’s just our eyes that need to adjust to see the light. The newest buds are the brightest and punctuate the glowing flowers. ‘That’s why we call it the Firefly Petunia. Because these bright buds resemble fireflies sitting on top of the plant,’ [Keith] Wood [of Light Bio] explained. And despite its name, this plant doesn’t have any firefly genes, rather four genes from a bioluminescent mushroom and a fifth from a fungi.” • Perhaps a kind reader would like to test?

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


A writes: “Here are a couple of wintry milkweed views. They come from a neighbor’s sidewalk garden just east of the Union Street bridge over the Gowanus Canal. Having no outdoor space to cultivate, I am most grateful to those who gladden my eyes by their urban gardening.”

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Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for three or four days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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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. IM Doc

    “Vaccines, testing, and treatment.”

    Unless I glossed over it – unmentioned above is the fact that these three strategies are where the money is – as in listening to a slot machine dump out the quarters in an endless loop.

    Other NPI – not so much cash involved, and may actually be a negative cash source as in making medical buildings etc to do major remodelling. That would not do well for the multimillion dollar CEO salaries.

    1. CA


      April 11, 2024

      Global Stockpile of Cholera Vaccine Is Gone as Outbreaks Spread
      One company is going to great lengths to build it up, but it will be years before it returns to the minimum level.
      By Stephanie Nolen

      Doses of cholera vaccine are being given to patients as fast as they are produced and the global stockpile has run completely dry, as deadly outbreaks of the disease continue to spread.

      This does not shock anyone in the field of emergency epidemic response because the vaccine stockpile has been precariously low for years.

      The surprise — the good news, which is in itself surprising since ‘cholera’ and ‘good news’ are rarely used together — is that three new vaccine makers are setting up production lines and joining the effort to replenish the stockpile.

      And a fourth company, the only one that currently makes the vaccine, which is given orally, has been working at a pace that experts describe as “heroic” to expand its production.

      Yet even with all this, the total global supply of the vaccine that will become available this year will be, at best, a quarter of what is needed.

      At the end of February, countries had already reported 79,300 cases and 1,100 deaths from cholera this year. Since there is no uniform system for counting cases, this is most likely a gross underestimate…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Unless I glossed over it – unmentioned above is the fact that these three strategies are where the money is –

      Let me add a few ka-chings right now :-)

      1. thoughtful person

        This might be like when the Dept of War changed it’s name to the Dept of Defense. Newspeak has taken over the CDC. It’s all about maximizing profit, keeping the wealthy alive and population reduction for the rest of us.

        Judging from the actions of our elites, that is what I see happening. Yep, the Jackpot comences, slowly but surely, and it won’t be over for a couple decades.

        1. jsn

          The “Control” in CDC is about channeling disease into profitable streams.

          Making money is Gods work, the neoliberal greater good.

    3. KLG

      “Vaccines, testing, and treatment.”

      From yesterday, if I may repeat myself: “During this time (of pandemic) the leaders of Biomedicine chose not to remember what they (should) have known for more than 50 years, unlike the original diabetologists who were acting intelligently but often in a semi-blind state: Lasting immunity to coronaviruses, whether by vaccination or previous infection, is a unicorn. Thus, we have mRNA vaccines that are as novel today as insulin was 100 years ago. Also revolutionary. Also very profitable. The imperative of Biomedicine this time was to “Do something now!” Understood. But the scientific foundation had already established that this something was unlikely to work. And it has not worked by the standards the people have come to expect of vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines prevent neither the disease nor its transmission. They might lessen the serious of the disease, but much of that can be attributed to better, learned clinical management.”

  2. IM Doc

    There is absolutely nothing to inflation at all – nothing……anyone who says otherwise is obviously trying to get Trump elected – so my TV told me this AM………


    I was a young one during the 1970s. One of my hobbies back then was stamp collecting – still have the notebooks full of stamps from the 60s 70s and 80s. Looked through them a few days ago – and 1st class stamp amounts were relatively stable for decades – and then came the late 1970s and 80s. And you can turn the pages and see inflation in action.

    And now, we are having another relatively large increase in just 4 months. Up to 73 cents – just think about that for a moment.

    I just do not see how this “look away, nothing to see here” approach is going to be a winning strategy for the Biden team. It would be absolutely comical if not so tragic for most people around me. It is not just stamps either.

    1. Screwball

      The gaslighting is off the charts, especially from this administration. But they are all guilty. We see what our wallets and bank accounts tell us. Don’t know what to believe from any of the press about anything.

      All the dems have is they are not Trump, gaslighting us to Mars, and maybe abortion, for those not familiar with Lucy and the football.

      I was told yesterday, when a conversation came up that Trump said abortion should be left up to the states; States’ rights is practically the textbook definition of fascism, which elevates the rights of the state above the rights of the people.

      Why didn’t the dems codify it when they had a super majority? I think the readership here knows the answer to that. Others, not so much.

      At least they don’t blame it on Putin or Russia.

      1. Randall Flagg

        >At least they don’t blame it on Putin or Russia.

        Not yet anyways… But, give it time.

    2. KLG

      Just picked up the only prescription we have between the two of us. The increase has been >100% over the past year. From $4.50 per month to $10. A generic drug long used to lower blood pressure. The absolute increase is trivial for us, but not for everyone. And this drug is essential. I wonder what Krugman would say?

  3. antidlc

    In yesterday’s Water Cooler, I posted some info on the NY Times investigation of MultiPlan:

    The NY Times had another article:
    In Battle Over Health Care Costs, Private Equity Plays Both Sides

    As medical practices owned by private equity firms fuel overbilling, a payment tool also backed by such investors helps insurers boost their profits.

    Insurance companies have long blamed private-equity-owned hospitals and physician groups for exorbitant billing that drives up health care costs. But a tool backed by private equity is helping insurers make billions of dollars and shift costs to patients.

    The tool, Data iSight, is the premier offering of a cost-containment firm called MultiPlan that has attracted round after round of private equity investment since positioning itself as a central player in the lucrative medical payments field. Today Hellman & Friedman, the California-based private equity giant, and the Saudi Arabian government’s sovereign wealth fund are among the firm’s largest investors.

    HIstory of private equity and MultiPlan::

    The firm’s annual revenues had reached about $1 billion, and three sets of private equity investors had cashed in. After buying MultiPlan for just over $3 billion in 2010 from the Carlyle Group, the firms BC Partners and Silver Lake sold it for a reported $4.4 billion in 2014 to Starr Investment Holdings and Partners Group, which sold it two years later to Hellman & Friedman for a reported $7.5 billion.

    Prior history (2009):
    United HealthGroup to pay $50M to settle charges of rigged rates

    United HealthGroup has agreed to a $50 million settlement following an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo into charges that the insurer overcharged its members millions of dollars for healthcare.
    At issue is the Ingenix database, owned by United HealthGroup and used by the insurer to calculate reimbursement rates.

      1. antidlc

        It seems like everywhere you turn in health care, private equity is there.

        Just FYI,
        Yves mentioned MultiPlan back in 2014 in this post:

        Again, nothing came back. I called a third time. This representative maintained, contrary to what the two previous ones said, that my doctor was not a Cigna doctor. I said that wasn’t right, but if so, that meant my claim should be reprocessed at the rate I had paid for services. He tried to maintain that the “Multiplan” discount, which is a network discount calculated by a third-party vendor, was the “ordinary and customary” rate, which is utterly ridiculous (the fee for the visit was normal for NYC standards and the discount was shockingly large, 63%).

        Up until recent events, I had never heard of MultiPlan and Change Healthcare. Just more players taking their slice of our healthcare dollars.

        And Ingenix changed its name to OptumInsight:

    1. antidlc

      And who was CEO of Ingenix?


      Andy Slavitt must answer for ObamaCare failures

      Slavitt had also been CEO of Ingenix when that company settled a 2009 lawsuit and paid $50 million to the state of New York and $350 million to the American Medical Association over allegations of medical data fraud. Ingenix subsequently changed its name to Optum.

      Andy Slavitt, appointed by Obama to be the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and later nominated to be the administrator.

        1. Jason Boxman

          You can’t forget Tax Cheat Timmy either! Can’t let law breaking get in the way of hiring good stewards of neoliberal capitalism!

  4. CA


    April 11, 2024

    Omicron variant dominates COVID-19 cases in China in March, with JN.1 becoming main strain: China CDC

    Throughout the month of March 2024, the Chinese mainland reported that the new cases of COVID-19 were all caused by the Omicron variant, with the main prevalent strain becoming the JN.1 series variant. This variant encompasses 89 evolutionary branches, with the top three strains being JN.1, JN.1.4, and JN.1.1.

    During the same period, 588 new severe cases and 26 deaths were reported across the mainland, with one death attributed to respiratory failure caused by COVID-19 infection and 25 deaths due to underlying health conditions combined with COVID-19 infection.

    The daily number of patients seeking treatment at fever clinics fluctuated at around 160,000 throughout March, peaking at 188,000 on March 12 before gradually decreasing to a low of 134,000 on March 30…

  5. Joe Well

    Re: bans on fluoride in drinking water

    One of my favorite Yves Smith-isms is, “the stupid, it burns”. That has repeated in my head so many times when reading some headline like this. There is just no way to deal with some things that are just so omni-stupid, in terms of science, basic facts, priorities, ethics…you can’t engage, you just have to shake your head.

    On the bright side, this idiocy further erodes the concept of public health, one of the greatest obstacles to private sector profiteering. Think of the the billions that fluoridization is costing the dental industry? /s

    1. scott s.

      No fluoride in Hawaii drinking water (except on military bases) and I doubt you will ever see it.

    1. Lena

      Thank you, flora. Excellent interview with Les Leopold.

      I just checked with my local public library. They have *zero* books by Leopold in their collection. It is not a small library system. I put in a request that they order his latest book.

      1. flora

        I looked for it in WC before I left my comment but didn’t find it then. Great minds think alike… or something. / ;)

        These mass layoffs over 30 years for CEO profits might explain the Dem estab’s eagerness to blame the victims of those policies. You know, rural whites are bad people and we hates them, my Precious. / ;)

      2. flora

        There’s a nice shout out to NC and your article ‘Neo-liberalism Expresses as Simple Rules’ in the comments section of Taibbi’s article.

    2. Martin Oline

      Thanks for linking this, it’s a very good interview. I checked three library systems and no one has it. Barnes & Noble do not have it except to order. I think I will follow Lena’s lead and make a request.

    3. Carolinian

      Thanks for the link. My own take would be–having grown up in the South–that one certainly can’t say that white working class racism was a myth. But it would be more to the point to say that the pretense of gentility and lack of racism by the elite classes is also a myth. And so, since blogs like this one are mostly talking about the powerful, that’s what gets the attention. And also so, since the defenders of the elites don’t want to talk about their own faults, they blame their victims. Ultimately it’s all about power–who has it and who doesn’t and who kicks down and who tries to kick up.

      What seems definite and undeniable is that we are going through a rather decadent social stage at the moment. It could be time for other countries, cultures, to take the lead.

      1. flora

        Yes. And it’s very sly of the Dem estab to blame rural whites only. Plenty of Black, Latino, and others lost jobs and got outsourced at the same rates over the last 20 years. Blaming whites only is a sly divide-the-races game so all the displaced workers don’t come together over economics. I mean, isn’t that the entire point of white Robin DeAngelo, of “White Fragility” fame, getting hired by companies to run her sensitivity workshops? (Which didn’t work out too well when the workers of all races discovered after a bit that they didn’t need more sensitivity training or self-examination, they needed better pay.) / ;)

        1. Carolinian

          I’ll add that while being a victim doesn’t make you virtuous it may very well make you more empathetic which is why all those laid off whites could be, if anything, a lot friendlier to blacks than they used to be. At least where I live I don’t see the racial animus that was so very present when I was growing up. Perhaps my racially mixed town is an outlier.

          Or perhaps the gerontocracy, which so much rules us, prefers to keep reliving the last century rather than the somewhat different one that exists. They’ve learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

        2. steppenwolf fetchit

          Someone should ask DeAngelo in public the following question to see how she reacts . . .
          ” Why do you call yourself White? Aren’t you Italian? Who died and made you White?”

  6. Val

    Notice how particular dogs are not barking in the CDC’s and Red Cross’ latest in JAMA?

    The pointy, spikey half of the study is missing. It would be irresponsible to not publish the relevant missing serological data set. And so it is. One wonders if the authors could entertain some polite questions without delaminating.

  7. ambrit

    “Finally, “vaccines, testing, treatment” is also a comprehensive rejection of the “Swiss Cheese Model” of multiple layers of protection. Going forward, those are to be outside the scope of “public health” entirely.”
    Considering how the Davos Crowd manages their “Personal Protection Plans,” I would be remiss not to suggest that the ‘plan’ is to “empower” Private Health, with all its revenue streams, and gatekeeping functions.
    My more cynical self figures that, when proper healthcare is strictly restricted to those with money and or power, then another leg of the Jackpot Triad will be ‘enabled.’
    As the saying goes; “Only the Good die young.”

  8. Samuel Conner

    > So you have to wonder what “revolutionize” and “prioritized” really mean.

    Perhaps it’s a “half-revolution”, .i.e. a 180.

    As to “prioritize”, … well, “prior” is in the past, so maybe this is actually about leaving those agendas behind.

  9. Jason Boxman

    So essentially, Mandy redefined public health to exclude, well, public health. This is the individualized approach to public health, writ large. An approach that has failed and continues to fail the American people daily.

    I can’t wait for Biden’s next term!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Brian Berletic makes the point that the US cannot compete with Russia in putting out military equipment as the US industries are profit orientated while the Russian industries are needs based. Looks like the same is true of public health as only those measures that prove profitable are being pushed by people like Mandy. As a thought experiment, suppose that aspirin was proven to cure Covid – even long Covid – in a matter of days. You think that the CDC would push for this or discredit it?

    1. The Rev Kev

      When you are part of the blob, these sort of things come your way as rewards and are also a way of getting your tickets punched. Like how Hillary Clinton joined Columbia university as professor of practice at the School of International and Public Affairs.

  10. Dr. John Carpenter

    The dems have almost everything in their favor to prevent a “spoiler” from electing Trump. They have the money. They have the media. They have the name recognition. They have everything…except the policies. If they really wanted to, they could eat RFK Jr.’s lunch, but it would require changing the course they’ve been on since, heck, Jimmy Carter. And that simply isn’t going to happen.

    Their attempts to lawfare RFK out aren’t going as smoothly as they hoped. So I guess it’s on to shame and blame now? What’s next? They gonna stamp their feet and hold their breath until their faces turn blue? Have Hillary call and personally insult anyone even thinking of not voting blue?

  11. Adam1

    Inflation… LOL! Well if the FED would stop pumping about $400B in stimulus into the economy by keeping rates so high. I mean if we’re going to keep doing $400B in federal stimulus can I have my checks please and not some fat cat elite person who can afford to buy/own US Treasuries?!?!

  12. Objective Ace

    Who is going to the emergency department most with covid, its kids

    I hate to keep harping on this because it makes me sound unserious about Covid when I’m anything but. However, this chart is misleading and says nothing about who is going to the ER the most. The axis is % of ER visits due to respitory illness. The fact that a higher percent of children go to the ER for Covid then other reasons speaks nothing about the absolute numbers of children or adults in the ER for covid. We need the number of children and adults in the ER in the first place

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Today, I learned that this song was not written by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

      However, having heard both versions, I prefer hers.

      1. Jeff V

        Thanks for that, I had no idea the song had ever been covered.

        Ms Carpenter has a lovely voice (not something Mark K has ever been accused of!) but my tastes run more to the “rock and roll” style of the original.

        That song is the only reason I know what a Louisville Slugger is.

    2. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      HWY 395: the mother road. I’ve traveled North to South and lived within about a block of it for most my life. In 2 states.

  13. The Rev Kev

    ‘Brent Skorup
    Court says: “Indeed, Google’s licensing agreement makes clear that it does not own its users’ content. Instead, users own their Google content, which, according to testimony from a Google policy specialist, includes their search histories.” ‘

    Whereupon the judges of the Colorado Court immediately returned home and cleared their browser histories.

  14. Wukchumni

    Comeuppance see me sometime…

    Born into the white heat of the Cold War, I never felt all that bothered by the idea of us blowing ourselves up real good with nukes, but i’m a little anxious-feels like August 1939.

  15. Wukchumni

    My recollections of the OJ saga were colored by my business partner’s brother in law, one Alan Park-the limousine driver who picked up Simpson at his house, in order to bring him to LAX.

    He related this to us a day after it happened…

    Alan told us he knocked on OJ’s door and a voice said come back in 30 minutes, and OJ emerged on not a warm night sweating like a pig, of the nervous type.

    Then OJ did something I certainly never saw in a stretch limo in LA on the road, that is all the darkened windows were down all the way from his house to the airport.

    Alan sold his tale for a chunk of change to a tabloid in those thrilling days or pre-internet, and he would been slaughtered in the witness stand in court, for you see it was his very first day on the job.

    1. griffen

      I threw this into the transom today at the online work version of the break room, and the teams productivity went south for a brief respite. 30 years was a long time when I began to think it over, and his white Bronco dashing away from the various police cars. Interrupting the 1994 NBA Finals , what a colossal jerk!

      Someone in the aforementioned group chat dropped a few historical company references on us, and the memories of a Radio Shack or the Blockbuster were rekindled. Simple easy fun while it lasted. And for Simpson, may you burn a long eternity for what we know you did.

  16. Wukchumni

    It’s around 75 miles on Hwy 99 from Visalia to Bakersfield, and not 1 Trump sign in sight in either direction in California’s red state bastion. There would have been hundreds in the run-up to the 2016 & 2020 elections. And yeah, I get it, 7 months is a long way away.

    I think the farmers got completely screwed by Trump raising tariffs and the Chinese retaliating by slapping huge tariffs on almonds & pistachios, killing the wholesale price in the bargain.

    Hard to want more of that!

  17. Jason Boxman

    So riddle me this; given how corrupt and degenerate our public health, and indeed, much of our regulatory apparatus is, how is this better than “evil” Communism? I’d really love to know. Because I can select from 18 different types of toothpaste that have the same active ingredient in the same amount? Because I can get a cheap Android smartphone? LOL.

  18. Christopher Smith

    Re: “Ohio and Alabama Are Playing Ballot Games With Biden”

    Nonsense. The rules were well known, and the Dems decided not to follow them. They could have scheduled their convention to avoid this, but did not do so. And after all of the lawfare they have conducted against third parties, it nice to see them eat it. I hope Ohio and Alabama stick to their laws.

  19. notabanker

    Hey Lambert – I’m your Huckleberry on the bionuclear flowers. I was hooked on the first sentence. But at 29 bucks a pop plus shipping, it will be a limited trial. Maybe they’ll propagate.

    1. griffen

      I like that turn of the phrasing from a pivotal scene in Tombstone…. Johnny Ringo, you look like someone stepped over your grave… Michael Biehn who portrayed Ringo in Tombstone has given some funny interviews and anecdotes about the filming of Tombstone.

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