2:00PM Water Cooler 4/16/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Bull Rock Rd, Essex, New York, United States.

* * *

In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Kennedy on the ballot in Iowa.

(2) Pilots told not to rush (“problematic trends”).

(3) Gold : Now would be a good time to sell it.


“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)

“Supreme Court casts doubt on obstruction charges against hundreds of Jan. 6 rioters” [Los Angeles Times]. “The court’s conservatives questioned whether the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was aimed at corporate accounting fraud, can be used more broadly to prosecute those who obstruct “any official proceeding,” including Congress’ 2021 certification of President Biden’s election victory…. More than 1,200 rioters were arrested for the Jan. 6 break-in at the Capitol….. Most were charged with assaulting the police officers who were on duty or with disorderly and disruptive conduct. Some were also charged with carrying dangerous or deadly weapons. A few hundred were also charged with seeking to obstruct an official proceeding.” More: “At issue is how to interpret two clauses in the law. It states that it is a crime if someone ‘corruptly — alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.'” • The Solicitor General says the two clauses stand alone (my reading); the Chief Justice says the second depends on the first.


Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, April 5

Here this Friday’s RCP poll. Trump is still up in all the Swing States (more here), 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 dot = no change (presumably because state polls are not that numerous so far from election day).

* * *

Trump (R): “‘It’s clearly strategic’: Why Trump kept attacking judges’ families” [Politico]. “In three different court cases over the past six months, judges imposed gag orders that restrained the former president from vilifying witnesses, court employees and others involved in the proceedings against him. In each case, Trump responded by verbally attacking not only the prosecutors and judges themselves, but also their family members. ‘It’s clearly strategic,’ said Ty Cobb, who served as a White House lawyer under Trump but has become a frequent critic of the former president. ‘His attacks are designed around his traditional approach to delegitimizing the proceedings.'” • I don’t like it. I don’t much like Judge Merchan’s daughter working for Mom’s Authentic Campaigns either, a Democrat consulting firm. One can say that father and daughter are independent agents. One could also say that father and daughter are nodes in the same network.

* * *

Trump (R): “Trump’s Fundraising Shows Reliance on Oil Sector, Wealthy Donors” [Bloomberg]. ” Donald Trump relied on a small cadre of donors to contribute a hefty portion of his March fundraising haul, showing the early success of his pivot to wealthy benefactors to finance his presidential bid…. The $23.6 million from deep-pocketed donors accounted for a substantial part of the $65.6 million he and the Republican Party raised that month, the latest disclosures to the US Federal Election Commission show… Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has amassed a record war chest for this point in an election year. Outside groups supporting Biden, led by his main super political action committee, the Future Forward PAC, have now pledged $1 billion to support him.” • That’s real money.

* * *

Trump (R): Not asking for my vote (or the vote of a lot of conservatives, either):

Trump (R): Really not asking for my vote:

So much for MMR! Here is a discussion of this piece in New York Magazine; Trump is quoted accurately, but it’s unclear whether he means (a) “Covid vaccine mandates” or (b) “vaccine mandates” generally. If (a), Trump was just sloppy in his wording, not unknown for him. But if he’s pandering to the anti-vax faction in RFK’s base, he means (b). We shall see.

* * *

“Young Voters Are More Concerned With the Economy. That’s Bad for Biden” [Bloomberg]. “‘The President is fighting to lower costs for young Americans — forgiving student debt, lowering health [sic] and eliminating junk fees,” Seth Schuster, a Biden campaign spokesperson, said by e-mail.” • I don’t know why Democrats deeply believe that “fighting” and “fighting for” are an effective trope, but apparently they do. They just can’t give it up! Anyhow, a handy chart:

* * *

Biden (D): “It’s Not the Economy. It’s the Pandemic” [The Atlantic]. “In our lifetime, COVID posed an unprecedented threat in both its overwhelming scope and severity; it left most Americans unable to protect themselves and, at times, at a loss to comprehend what was happening. That meets the clinical definition of trauma: an overwhelming experience in which you are threatened with serious physical or psychological harm…. [T]he feelings that that [the early pandemic] experience ignited are still very much alive. This can make it difficult to rationally assess the state of our lives and our country…. One remedy is for leaders to encourage remembrance while providing accurate and trustworthy information about both the past and the present. In the early days of the pandemic, President Donald Trump mishandled the crisis and peddled misinformation about COVID. But with 2020 a traumatic blur, Trump seems to have become the beneficiary of our collective amnesia, and Biden the repository for lingering emotional discontent…. [I]n the past two years, [Biden], like almost everyone else [ha ha], has largely tried to proceed as if everyone is back to normal. Meanwhile, American minds and hearts simply aren’t ready—whether we realize it or not…. By prompting Americans to remember what we endured together, paradoxically, Biden could help free all of us to more fully experience the present.”

Biden (D): “Joe Biden’s empathy was his superpower in 2020. Can he find it again in 2024?” [Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times]. “Some days it feels as if that kindly Uncle Joe has been replaced by a cranky old pol annoyed at voters who don’t give him credit for a strong economy…. But a chorus of Democratic strategists say it’s the wrong message, mainly because it’s missing the element that was once Biden’s political superpower: empathy. ‘You can’t tell people they’re better off than they think they are,’ said Mark Mellman, a veteran political consultant. ‘It’s important to acknowledge their pain. Otherwise it comes across as a signal that you don’t understand their lives.’ ‘I wouldn’t go out there and extol the miracle of the Biden economy,’ said David Axelrod. ‘The message needs to start with empathy and focus on prices, which is the issue that matters most to voters,’ said Stanley Greenberg, who helped Bill Clinton win the presidency in 1992. Otherwise, he said, ‘people just get angrier and angrier.’ During the 2020 campaign, when Americans were reeling from the human and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden spoke often of his personal history — his upbringing in a family of modest means, the death of his first wife and baby daughter in a 1972 highway crash, the 2015 death of his son Beau — and his feeling of kinship with others who suffered losses.” • Well, Biden’s got hundreds of thousands more to feel kinship with now!

* * *

Biden (D): “Joe Rogan reveals when he thinks the Democratic Party will kick Biden to the curb” [FOX]. “‘May. I think [Biden]’s got until May,’ Rogan said, shocking his guest. ‘I feel like right around May they’re going to pull him.’ ‘And Newsom comes in,’ Schulz added. Rogan said, ‘I think he just has health problems and then the country understands, and Newsom is gonna have his support fully and Kamala is gonna be like ‘I don’t even want to be president, I’m cool with being vice president.” ‘So Newsom runs with Kamala?’ Schulz asked. ‘Yeah, I think so’ Rogan said, ‘I don’t think they can pull Kamala,’ suggesting she is not a liability for now ‘as long as they can keep her quiet.'” • I don’t know if Kamala can smile and grit her teeth for that long, though. I doubt it.

Newsom (D): “Gavin Newsom Can’t Help Himself” [The Atlantic]. “The last paragraph: “Being around Newsom, you sense an ongoing tug between boyish and sober impulses. He can fall heavily on nostalgia—and RFK quotes—while asserting himself as an agent of the future. He reveres the old-school pols who mentored him while striving to be inventive and distinct. It is vital, Newsom told me, ‘to take risks and not be reckless, but keep trying things.’ To be original but restrained when necessary. ‘I don’t want to be derivative; might be as close as he comes to codifying a leadership philosophy: the Roger Bannister theory of life [Bannister “didn’t know that he couldn’t”] tempered by the venerated principle of waiting one’s turn, if it ever comes.” • An obvious beat sweetener. The question is, why a beat sweetener now?

* * *

Kennedy (I): “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to be on Iowa ballot” [WHBF]. “Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. met the requirement of 500 signatures to get on the Iowa ballot. Organizers say nearly a thousand people attended an event yesterday in West Des Moines. Only 650 there signed the form.” • Commentary:

Kennedy (I): “Robert F Kennedy Jr claims Trump had asked him to be running mate” [Guardian]. • Ugh. They hate Kennedy as much as they hate Trump. Commentary:

Kennedy (I): Shanahan asking for my vote, though she probably doesn’t know it:

See NC here on “mycelial mats” (2012).

Kennedy (I): “The Candidacy and Claims of RFK Jr.” [Rajiv Sethi]. “Kennedy believes with a high degree of subjective certainty many things that are likely to be false, or at best remain unsupported by the very evidence he cites. I discuss one such case below, pertaining to all-cause mortality associated with the Pfizer vaccine. But the evidence is ambiguous enough to create doubts, and the failure of many mainstream outlets and experts to acknowledge these doubts fuels suspicion in the public at large, making people receptive to exaggerated claims in the opposite direction. Furthermore, the general themes that arise in Kennedy’s rhetoric—the corrupting influence of money in politics, the folly of military adventurism abroad, the smugness and failures of elite opinion, and the need for open and robust debate—will strike a chord with many voters across the ideological spectrum. It’s an uphill campaign but I don’t think that it is doomed to failure.” • Depending on how failure and success are defined.

* * *

“The Senate, House, and White House Could All Change Hands in November” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “If you had to bet on what will happen this year, the odds favor a Republican takeover of the Senate and a Democratic takeover of the House… Never in the history of the Democratic-Republican duopoly dating back to the last election prior to the Civil War have both the House and Senate flipped in opposite directions. Typically the tides that pull once chamber pull both. But in recent years a new geographical concentration of the parties has given Republicans a big Senate advantage in some cycles that resists national trends… A double-flip of House and Senate would ensure continued divided control of the federal government and, given the currently extreme polarization of the parties, very likely additional gridlock. There’s a chance of something even more remarkable happening in November, however: a triple flip of House, Senate and the White House, leaving no stone unturned. That has actually happened once in American history: in 1952, when the New Deal era emphatically ended with Dwight D. Eisenhower breaking a 20-year Democratic winning streak in presidential elections, while Republicans also flipped both chambers of Congress (which Democrats had narrowly maintained control of in 1950 despite losing a lot of seats).”

“It’s beginning to look a lot like 2016” [The Hill]. “The disconnect between what’s popular with the entertainment media and the Democratic Party and what’s popular with voters played a significant role in the 2016 election. Democratic Party officials trapped themselves in an echo chamber, trusting the advice and assurances of people all in the same socioeconomic rung. They actually believed their own press and lost sight of voters’ concerns. In fact, they disregarded voters’ concerns outright, even after it became apparent Clinton was failing to connect with traditionally pro-Democratic voting blocs. They didn’t campaign as if there was any question of who would win the election. Clinton didn’t even visit Wisconsin — not even once. Consequently, Trump’s victory caught basically everyone in the Democratic Party and media by surprise. Now, in 2024, Trump has a long road ahead of him, especially considering that he, like Biden, polls terribly. Trump’s campaign inspires little confidence. The former president is out there hawking sneakers, bibles and perfume, all while his surrogates panhandle online for donations to pay off his legal bills. But do you know what else Trump did recently? On March 28, he flew up from Florida to attend the wake of slain NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller, who had been shot and killed during a traffic stop. Diller is survived by his wife and their one-year-old son. During Diller’s wake, across town, Biden and his campaign were putting the finishing touches on a glitzy, star-studded campaign fundraiser, where they yukked it up later that evening with Stephen Colbert and Lizzo. For a mere $100,000, attendees could have their pictures taken with Biden and former Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.” • Same deal with Trump at Chick-fil-A in Atlanta. Remember the people who cheered his motorcade when Trump drove by on the way to his arraignment?

Our Famously Free Press

This one is really fun to watch with the sound down:

The facial expressions! The body language!

Republican Funhouse



“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

* * *

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!

* * *


I don’t know why Trump’s Surgeon General exhibits greater integrity and courage and either of Biden’s two CDC Directors, but here we are:

Sequelae: Covid

“American Air Pilots Cite ‘Significant’ Jump in Safety Issues” [MSN]. “The union for American Airlines Group Inc. pilots warned members to be vigilant amid a ‘significant spike’ in safety- and maintenance-related problems at the carrier. The Allied Pilots Association cited ‘problematic trends’ in a memo sent April 13, including instances of tools like a hammer being left in airplane wheel wells and an increasing number of collisions between aircraft while they’re being towed. The union, which represents about 15,000 pilots, implored its members to avoid rushing while doing their jobs and to not be pressured into doing anything unsafe…. The union cited other problems, such as increasing instances of equipment being left in sterile areas where planes pull into gates and faulty paperwork documenting when damaged aircraft are ferried to another location.” • Sounds like loss of executive function due to (repeated) Covid infection, to me. See here at NC for one pilot’s view.

* * *

Lambert here: I was beginning to think that all my data was drying up… Then most of them came through, all at once. Lots of stars today!

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot April 15: Regional[2] Biobot April 15:
Variants[3] CDC April 13 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data April 15: National [6] CDC April 6:

National[7] Walgreens April 15: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic April 6:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC March 25: Variants[10] CDC March 25:
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.

[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) Still down.

[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

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial Production in the United States flattened year-on-year in March 2024, following a downwardly revised 0.3% fall in February. Utilities were down 3.1% and mining declined 2% while manufacturing rose 0.8%.”

Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US plunged 14.7% month-over-month to an annualized rate of 1.321 million in March 2024, reversing from an upwardly revised 1.549 million level in February and well below forecasts of 1.48 million.”

* * *

The Economy: Things are going great:

(I assume people only sell gold when they anticipate hard times, or are experiencing them.)

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 41 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 16 at 1:57:16 PM ET. World War III is bad for business.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) • Bird flu not a concern?

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

* * *

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 GS:

GS writes: “Hanging carnivorous Pitcher Plant (specimen from Phillipines), Flecker Gardens, Cairns QLD Australia.”

* * *

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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. Louis Fyne

    I was looking at bags of potting, gardening soil, etc. (I had given up after every brand I bought—from store brand to name brand—usually disappointed me).

    Thank you to the states of Michigan and Georgia (and one/two others that I can’t remember), those states require ingredient labels for soil now (don’t know when that happened).

    There is no federal/FTC-USDA definition for retail “soil,” so contractors for all the brands generally combine mulch/compost w/some chemical fertilizer and then market the stuffing out of it.

    PS, if you see “organic” on a soil bag label—that is not the same as “USDA Organic.” It just means that the stuff has elemental carbon.

    1. flora

      Thanks for the tip about “organic” potting soil. A store clerk was repeating the “organic” soil advertising to me, what they’d had described to them and said nothing about this. It sells at a premium price. Sounds like I could make an “organic” potting soil by adding some gardening charcoal flakes to the mix … maybe.

      1. Louis Fyne

        My rabbit hole journey into the soil business started after I found plastic chunks in some “organic” potting soil.

        Unless one *really* trusts the supplier, don’t buy a bulk amount of soil without trying some out.

        IMO, avoid national brands (they almost all outsource production) and ask your local nursery for their suggestions.

        And don’t be shocked/be understanding, the good stuff is not cheap

    2. Objective Ace

      What exactly are you looking for in your soil? I can’t imagine anything really being good for you unless its removed from a native environment like peat moss.

      1. flora

        an aside: The ancient Amazonian dark earth or black earth was remarkably fecund. Has anyone found or recorded this earth’s (soil) composition? It still seems a great mystery to modern scientists and horiticulturists. Guess I’m asking you because I think if anyone knows if the secret has been found that you will know. Thanks.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The remarkable thing about that ancient Amazonian dark earth was that it was not natural top soil but was built up by the people that lived there over the generations.

    3. Retired Carpenter

      For those living in rural/horsey areas: If you know where some horse manure is dumped, you can get good potting soil by digging up the earth beneath the pile. In addition, usually the lowest layers of the pile are composted and can be used as a good nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Do not use “fresh” manure…That is for politicians.

  2. griffen

    Given the article earlier in Links about music , lyrics and the lack of any legitimate creativity ( real , perceived or whatever ) I’m going to channel a fun tune on just the many, many economic things in the US are going very well ( yep here is the \sarc )…

    Things are going great,
    And they’re only getting better,
    doing alright getting good grades
    future so bright, I gotta wear shades

  3. Feral Finster

    “Biden (D): “Joe Biden’s empathy was his superpower in 2020. Can he find it again in 2024?” [Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times]. “Some days it feels as if that kindly Uncle Joe has been replaced by a cranky old pol annoyed at voters who don’t give him credit for a strong economy….”

    Is this McManus dude high? Biden’s sole and only selling point was that he wasn’t Trump. That’s it.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      He’s the LA Times go-to guy for heavily varnished insider takes and yes, you can get really high from working with varnish; imo McManus has been running on fumes for decades.

      1. John

        I passed on voting for either Clinton or Trump in 2016. In 2020 I reluctantly voted for Biden having considered passing again as New York was going to go for Biden. I have regretted doing so. When I was born FDR was president So I have seen them all, remember them all. Biden is the worst of the lot. My focus is foreign policy, always has been, and his is an utter disaster. I hope to survive it. Show me a candidate who does not support the Israeli genocide in Gaza and recognizes the busted flush that is Ukraine and has the good sense to throw in the hand, i.e. look for a way out that is a bit more sensible than cut and run, and I would vote for her or him.

    2. Pat

      Funnily enough I think they also missed that his superpower in 2020 was that he got to totally control his situation since he got to campaign from his basement. His people totally controlled the cameras and could pull it at any moment, technical difficulties you know. Joe not having to meet people irl is pretty much the only way he could get elected, anger at Trump was only the impetus for his being considered at all.
      Biden’s stories have never worn well, and he has always been a crotchety creep. Kindly Uncle Joe is a PR trope, same with having a beer with Bush 2. It had little reality ever.

    3. The Rev Kev

      That headline kinda floored me as Biden may be many things but empathetic is absolutely not one that he could ever be accused of and I mean ever. He is as empathetic as a lizard and the only thing that he cares about is himself.

        1. Pat

          Hunter was merely his screw up MLM mark for illegal influence peddling, it was Beau that was his favorite toy. It was Beau who he liked and considered his legacy, both politically and as a corrupt operative. But neither one approached Joe Biden’s love and empathy for Joe Biden,

  4. Feral Finster

    Re: Au as ATM. I know a human who does retail and wholesale bullion trading.

    Last I checked, he was grossing a substantial sum, and his business is situated in the Middle Of Nowhere, in a relatively prosperous location. The biggest problem, he says, is getting enough product, not getting buyers for that product. He can sell everything he pulls in.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      a year ago, in a tight spot, i drove 40 miles one way to a jeweller that was recced by a chick i trust with such things…to get my cache of family jools appraised, informally.
      bunch of rings mostly…women’s rings.
      with big , gaudy “precious” stones set upon them.
      stones were what i was interested in…opals picked from the ground in australia during the war by my grandad, rubies, sapphires, etc all of similar, but ultimately unknown, provenance….dudelooked through the rocks with his instruments.
      my bs artist radar is fine tuned by this point in my life….and i grokked that this old man wasnt trying to screw me,somehow….whole lot:$500.
      i wonder what the gold in them thar rings is worth, now…
      prolly not enough to justify the 100 mile round trip
      and thats my sole direct inheritance from my grandpeople.
      rest was intercepted my my folks and mostly squandered on bougie/boomer appearance.
      (eg: dad’s yachts,lol….never owned a one of them…all a revolving mess of credit and insurance…he played a Rich Man in real life, not on tv.)

      sigh.(see? some of us can resent the boomers without hating the grandmother working at walmart/mcdonalds)

      1. roxan

        Amfortas, buy a goldstone and a scale. I’ve had jewelers in small shops explain why a gem was or wasn’t valuable. Look for someone with a certificate from the Gemology Institute of America (GIA). Study KITCO, and read the comments.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          this guy had the diplomas,lol…and he was recced by someone i know well(30+ years) who does jewelry in her life….ie: cares about those rocks orders of magnitudes more than i do.
          and the vibe i got from him was one of honesty, as well.
          he refused to charge me for the assessment, and i gave him a 20 for lunch anyway.
          i mean, i kinda like turquoise…but im happy with what i inherited…and have neather the means nor the motive to go seeking more.
          the obsession with pretty rocks so prevalent in our civilisation is beyond me.

          moms engagement ring…first wife lost the diamond…so when i gave it to Tam…she’s like, “where’s the fucking rock?!”
          so i go outside and take a hammer to the nearest chunk of quartz(i’m sure ive told this story)…and kept beating on it til i got a suitable sized chunk…then superglued that damned thing into the setting…and went back and got on my knees again.

      2. Feral Finster

        FWIW, my contact is honest and he runs an honest operation. The same cannot be said for everyone in that line of business.

  5. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Kirby’s body language

    OK, but doesn’t he always look like he’s got a 4 foot length of rebar rammed up his [family blog]? Persistent mendacity does take a toll.

    1. Lunker Walleye

      His eyes look frightened. His mouth is tight at the corners. He has the hanky of death in his pocket. Listened with sound off. (I see your lips movin’ but I can’t hear ya talkin’.) Welker looks angry at several “responses” by Kirby.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        for all i know, he’s an actual xtian, and worried about his soul vs his job.
        he increasingly gives me this impression.
        ie: he knows he’s peddling BS.
        i expect him to find a reason to move on.
        knowing nothing about the guy, save body language and facial expression, during these …i’m sure…exceptionally trying times.

    2. curlydan

      He’s always looks like a generic 50s TV star, and I expect him start smoking a cig at any second.

      1. John

        To me Kirby looks too earnest to be a TV star … and he lacks to glossy surface. Does he love his job or hate it? Hard to tell? I never listen to what he says. It isn’t even clever b— s—.

    3. Lena

      Kirby has always reminded me of Charlie McCarthy without the monocle and the ability to speak off-script.

  6. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “I don’t know why Democrats deeply believe that “fighting” and “fighting for…“.

    Because it lets them play act on their own turf (“We’re in the halls of Congress fighting for you”), rather than actually doing and delivering something, i.e., providing concrete, universal, material benefits.

    1. Fastball


      If Democrats had encoded Roe v. Wade into law in one of their many opportunities, they would not need to be “fighting for” it now.

      Of course, that would obviate the need for those sweet, sweet campaign contributions and political donations.

    2. Reply

      More grifting opportunities with a fight than a win, just like more profit with a new must-have prescription than a cure.

  7. Fastball

    One can only conclude that RFK really believes his really creepy nonsense about Israel, because not believing it and switching sides would greatly improve his standing in the polls. The pro-Palestinian lane in the coming election is virtually empty, despite the wishes of the majority of Americans.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      so much for “our democracy”.
      i remain unrepresented.

      (wasnt there a document…pretty important,iirr….that addressed exactly that condition?)

  8. You're soaking in it!

    Biden (D): “It’s Not the Economy. It’s the Pandemic”

    Really? Wait until it’s the War . . .

  9. Pat

    I have to laugh at Rogan’s scenario. It could or couldn’t be true. I have no idea. But if Newsom is the Democratic Party answer to who can replace Biden on the ticket, it could be considered more evidence to support The Hill’s premise of their disconnect with voters.

    Well that is unless they have given up on winning the most important election ever and want to rid themselves of several albatrosses. Newsom, with or without Kamala is not going to win the Presidency. And unlike Hillary, neither Gavin or Kamala have a psychotic fan base to keep them relevant. Losing in November would end them.

    1. Big River Bandido

      In order for Newsom to be the presidential nominee, Harris would have to step aside. The Constitution requires that the presidential and vice-presidential nominees be from different states.

          1. Big River Bandido

            Cheney wasn’t the governor of Texas; Newsom cannot just choose to reside in another state on a whim. It would also be politically difficult for a VP to do that once elected from a particular state.

  10. Mikel

    “It’s Not the Economy. It’s the Pandemic” [The Atlantic]

    It’s still the lingering effects of the 2008 financial heist. It’s the lingering effect of mass shootings and opiod addiction. It’s the lingering effects of “the rent is too damn high.” It’s the lingering effects that show in worker participation rates that fell off a cliff in 2000 and any recovery from the 2020 Covid era still has not dented that trend. It’s the lingering effects of a private equity corporation posing as a country.
    Shall I continue???

    Welcome to Pricing Hell

    The ubiquitous rise of add-on fees and personalized pricing has turned buying stuff into a game you can’t win.

  11. Rick

    “Make polio great again” – actually, it’s lower in the CFR table than SARS-2 covid. This is *NOT* to say we should let it rip or not vaccinate, but rather we should take covid seriously. It also speaks the potential of a public health campaign. Seventy years after an effective eradication effort it is still seen as a terrible disease, which it is.

    We really are not rational as a species, however capable individuals may be.

    Human ID CFR, Wikipedia.

  12. Wukchumni

    The pawn shop biz is really an awful business in that so little of what customers want a loan on, has any wholesale value. Here in Cali the loan has to be $2500 or more before the pawn broker can decide what sort of egregious rate to charge on interest, otherwise all loans below that amount are set by the state in terms of interest they can charge. I haven’t kept us with things, but they used to typically have a 80-90% redemption rate, meaning 8 to 9 out 10 people that hocked something, got it back when they repaid their loan. (with interest & fees, figure on 35%-40% interest rate, minimum)

    How much would you loan on a 5 year old 55 HD TV set or a set of 40v Ryobi electric tools that are well used?

    Anything made out of all that glitters is instantly wholesaleable, and the 1 item that’s like that.

    1. notabanker

      I talk to local bullion and coin dealers all the time here. There has been a boom on metals across all classes since SVB and it really hasn’t gone away. Any time there is a big spike in gold and or sliver people come out of the woodwork to cash in. There were lines out a shop locally at 10 am in the morning on a weekday when they might get 2 customers a day. The pawn shops are easier to move jewelry and lower carat stuff, dealers don’t want to deal with it. Some of the local dealers here don’t even want 40% coins anymore, cost of refining is too high.

      The pawn shop indicator may mean something, but I wouldn’t read a lot into it other than more people believe, and now seeing, that a chunk of metal is worth more than their paper dollars.

      1. smartars*

        re: ‘ … at 10 am in the morning on a weekday … ‘

        Thank you for clarifying that. Otherwise we might have thought you meant 10 am in the evening.

        (Sorry! Couldn’t help it. :-) That’s one of my favourite bugbears.)

    2. eg

      I picked up a decent Washburn electric guitar at a pawn shop over 30 years ago — still using it today, though I loaned out the amp I bought at the same time years ago.

  13. Jason Boxman

    Trump (R): Really not asking for my vote:

    Make no mistake, Trump would have engaged in Biden’s stochastic eugenics campaign. The only wild card is whether liberal Democrats would have gone along with it in totality, as they have with Biden; After all, virtue signaling is the defining characteristic of a liberal Democrat, along with a lack of capacity for self reflection, and under Trump protecting the “vulnerable” is a great virtue to signal.) With eugenics normalized by — a Democrat — I don’t think liberals or whatever the left might be today, will bother to care what Trump does in a second term. Indeed, vaccine whackjobism is a wealthy liberal phenomenon, as much as a conservative freedumb thing.

    (And as an aside, with the prominence of LLM models, spell check shouldn’t suck so much. I had to give up and Google stochastic because I never member and fat fingering it randomly is useless, Apple won’t even guess what I might mean, when my misspelling of it must be extremely common; Same for prominence, because when I’m pissed I can’t spell at all correctly.)

  14. C.O.

    The Bird Song of the Day lovers may enjoy this article that percolated up in one of my other newsfeeds:

    Birds Sing in Their Sleep – and Now We Can Decipher Their Dreams

    The underlying paper in the journal Chaos is interesting… it sounds like they recorded data from the birds studied in a humane way.

    Synthesizing Avia Dreams

    The sound generated from the data they recorded is impressive, too.

  15. Martin Oline

    I liked that comment: “Team Kennedy is a mycelium network for peace, love and hope.” It reminds me of when I was working as a mold maker in California and we advertised for help. Didn’t get a lot of responses but one applicant when asked about his experience with molds replied, “I’ve had a lot of experience with mycelia.” ‘Shroom me up Scotty!

  16. FreeMarketApologist

    Meanwhile, here’s a possible answer to the question of “why shouldn’t we do things to control the weather?”


    “Torrential rains across the United Arab Emirates prompted flight cancellations, forced schools to shut and brought traffic to a standstill.

    The heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the desert nation stemmed partly from cloud seeding. The UAE started cloud seeding operations in 2002 to address water security issues, even though the lack of drainage in many areas can trigger flooding.

    The Gulf state’s National Center of Meteorology dispatched seeding planes from Al Ain airport on Monday and Tuesday to take advantage of convective cloud formations, according to Ahmed Habib, a specialist meteorologist. That technique involves implanting chemicals and tiny particles — often natural salts such as potassium chloride — into the atmosphere to coax more rain from clouds.

    People took to social media to share updates on the aftermath of the weather. Some videos showed cars being swept off roads, while another showed the ceiling of a shop collapsing as water inundated one of Dubai’s most popular malls. The emirate’s metro was disrupted.

    Residents had to bail out apartments and underground car parks were flooded. Some buildings also suffered power outages.

    Roads in Abu Dhabi were also flooded.”

  17. ChrisFromGA

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    The U.S. liquidator for collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX told attendees at the OffshoreAlert Conference in Miami Beach, Florida, the case was unlike any other he’d handled as the company had “no set of books,” forcing both onshore and offshore liquidators to scramble to track down assets.

    Law360, Miami (April 15, 2024, 10:23 PM EDT)

    But wait … there’s more!

    John J. Ray III, who is now CEO of FTX, said liquidators had no accounting books and records, no employee list, and none of the typical information about a company that a trustee would typically use to marshal assets and stem losses.

    FTX was public, wasn’t it? Sarbanes-Oxley? I seem to recall Ellison testified that they had seven balance sheets … but don’t worry, your crypto is safe!

    1. Wukchumni

      I hear Sam Bankman-Fried has dedicated the next 25 years to searching for the perps that did in FTX.

      Never did figure out how much MLB got for having the umps sporting a couple of FTX badges, but must have been around $200 million or thereabouts.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Whatever FTX paid MLB, rest assured there are no accounting ledgers for it, at least on Sam’s laptop.

        I wonder if FTX ever hired an accountant. I hope not, I wouldn’t want that gig on my resume.

  18. SD

    Re: Young voters concerned with the economy as bad for Biden:

    Armchair analysis here: I think the spell of seriousness and fundamentality of economics is finally wearing off, after at least 100 years or more. The wizards are gone.

    The kids these days (Americans under 40, more or less) seem more inclined to view economics as the pseuco-science that it is, particularly because of their diminished financial circumstances and prospects for a good, materially comfortable life.

    Economics as currently practiced is an ontological operation or “ont-op” [c.f. “psy-op”] as the podcasters at Subliminal Jihad (among my favorites) might say.

    It’s a con.

  19. Jason Boxman

    Going back and seeing the making of S10x17 Home Sweet Home, of The Walking Dead, it was interesting the COVID restrictions already, that aired in 2021, February but filmed I guess earlier. They kept combat small because of how many people action scenes need. Video of masked production staff plenty of surgical masks with big beards, lol. Even then garbage guidance from CDC.

  20. Wukchumni

    Tehachapi, Ca. is a favorite with many long term rentiers for whom there is no shoulder season, and who happened to be not very good in their line of work.

    The city tried hard to hide its prisons, and you’d never know there were any there, just passing through on Hwy 58.

    Needed a few things @ Home Depot, and its easy off-on from Hwy 58, lets go. Next time I’m bringing a metal cup to ring against the locked metal gates surrounding 80-90% of the merchandise.

    When I was able to hunt down an associate, asked him what happened?

    ‘Shoplifting, we’re getting killed by gangs that come in take as much high value on a cart as they can, and then the casual shoplifting, which has also gone up.’

    He let me fondle the plastic bottle of bar chain oil, but never relinquished his grip on the product, along with a total of $96 worth of other purchases he delivered to the cashier for me to complete my transaction, once I made payment.

    1. Glen

      Our Home Depot must be doing a bit better than the one you were in as the amount of items locked up is growing, but it’s more like 20%. All the bulk rolls of house wiring are locked up. And we don’t have sales associates taking items to checkout.

      I’m remodeling some really old plumbing that needs to be replaced so have been to Home Depot more than usual. I don’t think my house had indoor plumbing as originally built, but the plumbing I’m replacing is probably sixty years old.

      I have noticed that much of the help in hardware stores looks like the should be retired, and had a retired buddy of mine go back to work. High prices for everything is not going to get Biden re-elected. And telling everybody the economy is doing great is a WTF insane maneuver at this point.

    1. Daryl

      Fascinating if they really did give Israel notice of the targets. They really can’t reasonably be mad other than the fact that they’ve been exposed, which I guess to a bully is the worst thing.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The Iranians didn’t quite turn up at those Israeli bases beforehand with a can of paint and a brush to mark an ‘X’ on where those missiles were going to land to help the Israelis know where to move their F-35s from – but a 5 hour notice was about the same. I wonder if the Israelis abandoned those bases altogether before the strike so when those Iranian missiles arrived, nobody was home.

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