2:00PM Water Cooler 4/2/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren, Coronado National Forest, Pearce, Ash Springs Trail, Cochise, Arizona, United States.

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Trump posts bond.

(2) Kennedy makes the ballot in NC.

(3) Shanahan: More detail.


“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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Less than a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, March 29

I think I’ll leave this up until this coming Friday, so I can at least mumble something about trends. Nationally, Trump is up 2.4% in the Five-Way, same as last week, give or take. Trump is still up in all the Swing States (more here). I’ve highlighted PA, (1) because Trump is actually down there, and (2) it’s an outlier, has been for weeks. Why isn’t Trump doing well there?

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“Trump posts $175 million bond in New York civil fraud case” [NBC]. “Former President Donald Trump has posted a $175 million bond in the New York civil fraud case, preventing seizure of his assets while the case is under appeal… Knight Specialty Insurance Co., the entity that underwrote Trump’s bond, is part of a group of companies run by Los Angeles-based billionaire Don Hankey, who is No. 128 on the 2023 Forbes 400 list and No. 317 on the 2023 Forbes billionaires list. Hankey has been an investor in Axos Bank, the financial institution that refinanced Trump’s loans on Trump Tower and Trump National Doral Miami in 2022. Axos has lent Trump $100 million in his refinancing of Trump Tower and $125 million more for Doral. Neither loan is due until 2032, according to the Office of Government Ethics disclosure Trump submitted in August.” • File that name away.

“Ex-Trump aide Hope Hicks expected to testify in former president’s New York criminal trial” [NBC]. I’ve always had a soft spot for Hicks, because one of the earliest stories I read on Trump was from a Bloomberg reporter; Hicks told him she couldn’t take his call just then because she was going to take a nap. A little taste of what was coming, I suppose. More: “‘I have learned that in the days following the Access Hollywood video [‘grab ’em by the pussy’], [then-Trump lawyer Michael] Cohen exchanged a series of calls, text messages and emails with Keith Davidson, who was then [Stephanie Clifford [a.k.a. Stormy Daniel]’s attorney, David Pecker and Dylan Howard of American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump, and Hope Hicks, who was then press secretary for Trump’s presidential campaign,” the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. ‘Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public, particularly in the wake of the Access Hollywood story,’ the affidavit said.” • Hicks will testify for the prosecution. We’ll see what she has to say.

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“Trump Media Shares Slump as Early Fervor Fades” [New York Times]. “Shares of former President Donald J. Trump’s social media company slumped more than 20 percent on Monday, as the fervor around the company’s debut on public markets last week appeared to subside. The sell-off cut the market value of Trump Media & Technology Group, which trades under the ticker ‘DJT,’ by some $2 billion, to about $6.5 billion. The value of Mr. Trump’s majority stake in the company fell to about $3.7 billion, from over $6 billion at its peak last week. Still, shares of Trump Media were higher than they were immediately before the firm merged with a public shell company on Tuesday and began trading on the Nasdaq. Strong support for the merged company after it began trading pushed its market value as high as $10 billion at one point last week. That raised eyebrows across Wall Street, given the relatively small size of Trump Media’s business. A filing on Monday showed that the company generated just $750,000 in revenue in the fourth quarter last year, bringing its full-year total to $4.1 million. Trump Media recorded a $58 million loss in 2023. It got more than $300 million in cash as part of its merger with the shell company. All the company’s revenues come from advertising on Truth Social, the digital platform that has become Mr. Trump’s main outlet for reaching his supporters and blasting his critics, political opponents and other perceived enemies, including the prosecutors and judges involved in his criminal and civil cases.” • I don’t play the ponies, so I don’t know if Trump has been able to convert any of this paper to cash, or how he would do so, absent simply sellling it, which he seems not to have done. Readers?

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“Trump’s VP search is starting to get serious” [Politico]. “Susie Wiles, a top adviser to Trump, is leading a close-to-the-vest process of narrowing a list of around a dozen lawmakers and other Republican personalities under consideration, according to multiple people familiar with the process. The campaign has already hired an outside firm to vet candidates and prepare research documents. Former first lady Melania Trump, who influenced Trump’s decision to select Mike Pence in 2016, has been kept apprised. And Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. said he speaks with his father frequently about who is in contention. While who is up or down seemingly changes by the minute, the list has included everyone from Tim Scott and Kristi Noem to Byron Donalds, Elise Stefanik, Tulsi Gabbard and J.D. Vance, whom Trump has called a ‘fighter.’ Trump, despite saying he doesn’t think the vice president matters all that much, regularly asks guests at his Mar-a-Lago club for their opinion on different options and, with a flair for suspense, teases his choices in private meetings and media interviews. The process is expected to take months. ‘He’s going to draw this out ‘Apprentice’-style,’ said one person close to the Trump campaign who was granted anonymity to speak freely.”

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Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. has qualified for ballot in North Carolina, campaign says” [The Hill]. Swing state. “Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign has added North Carolina to the expanding list of battleground states in which it has qualified for the ballot in November. The independent candidate’s campaign says it now has enough signatures to list Kennedy as a White House contender through the ‘We The People’ party, gathering 23,000 pledges of support in the purple state. ‘We have the field teams, volunteers, legal teams, paid circulators, supporters, and strategists ready to get the job done,’ Kennedy’s campaign press secretary Stefanie Spear said Monday in a statement announcing the news. North Carolina is considered an important swing state for all parties in 2024, including a potential third-party ticket. Former President Trump won the state by just more than 1 percentage point in 2020, giving Republicans a slight edge and inspiring Democrats to try to win it this cycle. The addition of the Tar Heel state brings Kennedy’s ballot qualified total to five states so far, including Utah, New Hampshire and Hawaii. In Nevada [second swing state], he cleared the signature threshold prior to meeting the requirement of having a declared vice president alongside his name, raising questions about whether he will have to regather signatures of support.”

Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. calls Biden ‘genuine threat to our democracy’ over social media censorship” [New York Post]. “Independent presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. reiterated Tuesday that he believes President Biden to present a greater threat to democracy than former President Donald Trump. ‘Biden has done something that no other president in history has done, which is to order media — particularly social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google — to censor his political opponents,’ the 70-year-old told ‘Fox & Friends’ on Tuesday. ‘If you have a president who can censor his political opponents, he has the license for any kind of atrocity — that is a genuine threat to our democracy.’ Efforts by the Biden administration to flag content for social media companies to moderate, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been subject to litigation before the Supreme Court. Justices on the high court heard oral arguments last month in a lawsuit challenging the Biden administration’s actions. On Monday night, Kennedy caused a stir by telling CNN that he ‘can make the argument that President Biden is much worse’ than Trump in terms of protecting democracy, drawing swift backlash from Democrats.” • No doubt!

Kennedy (I): “Column: Voters wishing for an alternative to Trump and Biden got one. Unfortunately, it’s RFK Jr.” [Los Angeles Times]. “Long before Trump, RFK Jr. was the original election denier, insisting that Republicans stole the 2004 election. Before COVID, Kennedy was already famous for falsely claiming that all vaccines are dangerous and that some cause autism. He also stands by his claim that cellphones and Wi-Fi cause cancer despite the lack of evidence of an increase in cancer rates amid exploding use of those technologies. Kennedy’s default position is that official explanations are suspect, which is another way of saying that all conspiracy theories — from 9/11 trutherism to fringe theories about the assassination of his own father to the idea that the COVID virus was engineered to spare Jewish and Chinese people — deserve the benefit of the doubt. It’s as if his entire political persona were designed to monetize what the political historian Richard Hofstadter called ‘the paranoid style in American politics.’ It’s a testament to the pervasiveness of the paranoid style that it’s difficult to figure out which party Kennedy will take more votes from. ‘Our campaign is a spoiler all right,’ Kennedy said last week while announcing his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, in Oakland. ‘It is a spoiler for President Biden and for President Trump.’ But there’s the rub: The same duopoly that Kennedy is running against ensures that he can be a spoiler for only one candidate. Hofstadter also said, ‘Third parties are like bees: once they have stung, they die.'” • On election 2004, it’s a judgement call. Kennedy’s post is, IIRC, on Ohio. I live-blogged that election all the way ’til coverage ended (from a café in Philly; yes, I’m that old). There was plenty suspect shenanigaos in Ohio; I’m too lazy to dig out the links — though I will at reader request — but there were plenty of sober-minded, non-conspiratorial observers who thought the results stank. On Covid: The Times link on SARS-CoV-2 being engineered to “spare Jewish and Chinese” people links to the New York Post, which cites to a video, providing a partial transcript. So I don’t think we’re dealing with the press simply making up quotes, as they often have done with Trump.

Kennedy (I): “Why Silicon Valley Reactionaries Love RFK Jr.” [The Nation]. “Silicon Valley money, often tied to people in the circle of Peter Thiel, has fueled Kennedy’s presidential run. As Axios reported last June, ‘Several of Silicon Valley’s noisiest tech moguls have begun to support the candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the vocal anti-vax activist who’s xcvkl;’ for the Democratic Party nomination.” These early backers included Elon Musk as well as venture capitalists Chamath Palihapitiya and David Sacks (a longtime business and ideological ally of Peter Thiel, a Paypal and Facebook tycoon who backed Donald Trump in 2016). Writing about this cohort in The New Republic in 2022, Jacob Silverman noted that a pivotal movement that helped coalesce the group was the successful campaign to recall Chesa Boudin as district attorney of California because of his support for criminal justice reform. Both Shanahan and Sacks contributed heavily to the Boudin recall campaign, which demonstrated that Silicon Valley money could roll back left-wing social movements. Prior to 2022, Shanahan was a typical wealthy Democratic Party donor, giving to figures such as Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden. But in 2022 she joined the anti-Boudin campaign, which connected her with a wider cohort of reactionary tech figures. As Shanahan explained, she didn’t think that criminal justice reform was necessary and ‘Chesa came into a situation that needed to be maintained, in my opinion, not necessarily reformed.’ There’s a pipeline that runs from anti-Boudin sentiment to supporting Robert Kennedy, but law-and-order politics is just one component of Shanahan’s journey. Another key factor was openness to alternative medicine and quack science, defended with the familiar contrarian defense that we need to ask questions. ”

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Kennedy (I): “55 Things You Need to Know About Nicole Shanahan” [Politico]. “In divorce proceedings, which were finalized in 2023, Shanahan sought over $1 billion from Brin. The final division of assets was settled in confidential arbitration.” • Hmm. Either Brin wants it confidential because she got a billion, or she does, because she didn’t. Regardless, she has enough to help Kennedy right now. Whether she can harvest from Silicon Valley — and, if so, from whom? — remains an open question.

“Tech leaders have all the skills for politics. Still, most don’t want to run” [USA Today]. “Shanahan, a self-proclaimed “technologist,” is also a research fellow at CodeX, the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, which focuses on ‘humanistic coding.'” From the her Stanford bio: “Apart from the practical applications of legal technology, her academic research centers around Ronald Coase’s work on transaction cost theory. Entitled, ‘Coasean Mapping,’ she theorizes on the pace and nature of society’s adoption of artificial intelligence for law and government.” • Any readers have views on Ronald Coase and his work?

“RFK Jr.’s running mate an ‘unknown quantity’ with ‘deep pockets’ as GOP, Dems fear spoiler campaign: experts” [FOX]. “Who exactly Shanahan will appeal to, and which candidate that in turn hurts, remains unknown.” • Yep.

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Democrats en Déshabillé

“Why Democrats Can’t Quit Trump” [Wall Street Journal]. “I suspect, if I could speak uncharitably, that many Democrats secretly miss the Trump years… Most high-level Democrats had a lot more fun during the ‘resistance’ than they’ve had professing to believe, against all evidence, that President Biden is fully in control of his faculties and that his administration hasn’t been embroiled in one debacle after another from the beginning. Today’s liberal politicos look back on the years 2016-20, I imagine, in much the same way baby-boomer leftists used to talk about protesting the Vietnam War. We stood for something back then, man. We weren’t gonna let the pigs win! While Mr. Trump was in the White House, you could imagine yourself part of some noble band of freedom fighters, willing to do what it took to stop America’s slide into right-wing tyranny. Rereading accounts of the early Trump years, you can’t miss his enemies’ self-dramatization. ‘I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration . . . there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,’ FBI investigator Peter Strzok texted his colleague and lover Lisa Page in summer 2016. ‘It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.’ Mr. Strzok is among the partisans who dreamed up the idea that Mr. Trump won his election by colluding with the Russians…. Or recall Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) urging supporters in 2018 to harass top administration officials in public places. ‘If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station,’ she told supporters, ‘you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.’ How exciting it was to lead the struggle against dictatorship!” • It’s as if Aaron Sorkin wrote a second “West Wing,” but in their brains….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why are Americans so unhappy?” [The Hill]. “Overall, Americans feel broke and brokenhearted even with overall good national news on inflation.” Lol. More: “America is in a period of internal dissonance — not quite decay but something akin to it. We don’t feel like a happy country. Financial stress is one reason so many Americans want to move to another country. In a recent poll by Monmouth University, one-third of respondents said they would like to live in a different nation — a figure that stood at 10 percent 50 years ago. (Not many people had an exact destination in mind.) Other factors contribute to unhappiness, but the common issue is generalized worry about where America is going on almost every issue from education to politics, according to the most recent Gallup polling data. And the discontentment leads to a belief that America is not well respected overseas. Americans’ satisfaction with our global position is at its lowest since 2017 — also according to Gallup. Unhappiness is both a political state and a mental health crisis, although we rarely see them as interrelated. Anxiety affects 1 in 5 adults. More than 20 percent of teens have seriously considered suicide. Experts on mental health point to social media as one reason for social disconnectedness.” • A continuing pandemic would, of course, have nothing to do with “social disconnectedness.” Nor the million deaths and counting, which “disconnected” families, friends, co-workers, neighbors. Anyhow, if you’re one of that one-third considering expatriation, it might be wise to purchase a Canadian lapel pin…. (The Monmouth poll that figure is based in doesn’t take either income or location into account, ffs.)


“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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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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“Health systems ease up on masking” [Becker’s Hospital Review]. “Health systems are scaling back mask rules for staff, patients and visitors as respiratory virus season wanes…. Now, health systems are once again loosening masking guidelines. MaineHealth ended masking requirements for staff members providing direct patient care March 18, citing ‘a substantial decline in overall infection rates’ over the past month.” • It worked, so let’s stop (which is gonna be a big problem of avian influenza gets traction). This urge to control, this urge to do homework, this urge to twiddle, must be a PMC affliction. If you’re not going to clean the air — and nothing tells me hospitals are willing to commit to this, facility-wide — then just make masks the default policy, universally. Stop tinkering! I grant that means less make-work for administrators, but surely they can find other things to do with their valuable time. Oh, and Covid isn’t seasonal. I understand the institutional — as opposed to the scientific or medical — reasons why CDC would choose to manage all viruses transmitted through the respiratory tract is if they all were seasonal, but again, Covid is not seasonal.

Elite Maleficence

But why?

From what “infection” is Charles II being “shielded”?

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot April 1: Regional[2] Biobot April 1:
Variants[3] CDC March 30 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data April 1: National [6] CDC March 23:
National[7] Walgreens April 1: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic March 23:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC March 11: Variants[10] CDC March 11:
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 the level of previous Trump peaks. Not a great victory. Note also the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Backward revisions, I hate them.

[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.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Looks like a very gradual leveling off to a non-zero baseline, to me.

[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.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Job Openings” [Trading Economics]. “The number of job openings went up by 8,000 from the previous month to 8.756 million in February 2024, above market expectations of 8.75 million.”

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods rose by 1.4% from the previous month to $576.8 billion in February of 2024, trimming the upwardly revised 3.8% drop in January, and above market expectations of a 1% increase to point to further resilience of the US economy.”

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Retail: “Amazon Ditches ‘Just Walk Out’ Checkouts at Its Grocery Stores” [Gizmodo]. “Though it seemed completely automated, Just Walk Out relied on more than 1,000 people in India watching and labeling videos to ensure accurate checkouts. The cashiers were simply moved off-site, and they watched you as you shopped.” • Just like robot cars lol.

Tech: “New XZ backdoor scanner detects implant in any Linux binary” [Bleeping Computer]. “Firmware security firm Binarly has released a free online scanner to detect Linux executables impacted by the XZ Utils supply chain attack, tracked as CVE-2024-3094. CVE-2024-3094 is a supply chain compromise in XZ Utils, a set of data compression tools and libraries used in many major Linux distributions. Late last month, Microsoft engineer Andres Freud discovered the backdoor in the latest version of the XZ Utils package while investigating unusually slow SSH logins on Debian Sid, a rolling release of the Linux distribution.” • The XZ backdoor is actually post-worthy, given its social engineering aspects.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 2 at 1:49:21 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Plagues. “The lack of activity has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) • Bird flu not a concern?

Groves of Academe

“Twilight of the Wonks” [Walter Russell Mead, The Tablet]. “The pre-modern university was a small, loosely managed association, and its officials needed to pay the bills, discipline the students, arbitrate the petty jealousies of the faculty, and keep the university as a whole on the right side of the political and ecclesiastical powers of the day. A modern university, even of the second or third tier, will often be large enough to play a significant role as a local or even regional engine of economic development. It may well be the largest employer in the city or town in which it is sited. It will often manage operations ranging from top-of-the-line hospitals to world-class athletic facilities to academic printing presses and day care centers. Larger universities operate dining halls that feed thousands or even tens of thousands of people every day and carry out projects as diverse as cattle breeding and subatomic research…. At the same time, the relationship between higher education and social leadership has largely broken down. In pre-modern times, university graduates were almost entirely recruited from the upper classes, and their university study was consciously intended to equip them for the exercise of real power and leadership. The pre-modern university was dedicated to the artisanal production of new generations of elite leaders in a handful of roles closely related to the survival of the state. The modern university produces scientists, bureaucrats, managers, and assorted functionaries on an industrial scale to provide governments and the private sector with a range of skilled professionals and knowledge workers, most of whom will spend their lives following orders rather than giving them.” • Mead is a bit of a flannel merchant, but the topic is worth discussing….

The Gallery

“A Family Tree: Hippolyte Hodeau’s Trench Art (ca. 1917)” [The Public Domain Review]. “Like many soldiers, Hodeau spent hours huddled in these muddy channels. In order to kill time, perhaps, or lift his spirits, he gathered leaves from an oak tree — elongated, striated, forest green — and used a form of relief carving to inscribe the names of his daughters, Andrée and Eléonore, as well as the word ‘souvenir’ and what looks like ‘Argonne’. ‘Trench art’, as it’s called, wasn’t necessarily fashioned in dugouts and wasn’t usually so fragile. Collectors seek out letter openers made of shrapnel; crucifixes made of bullets; and artillery shells fashioned into everything from bracelets to clocks to candelabras. Wooden walking sticks were festooned with intricate carved heads, and tiny valentine pillows sewn and beaded for sweethearts back home. Hodeau’s engraved leaves are part of this resourceful genre, but there is another artistic tradition to which they also belong — that of arborglyphs, or tree carving. Humans have long regarded trees as witnesses….. As unique as his objects may seem, Hodeau was not alone in carving leaves. The art form flourished during World War I as a way to enhance letters home with a unique lightweight enclosure. Soldiers used a needle or knife to whittle between the oak and chestnut veins, leaving only words or, sometimes, an image. Due to the partial opacity of perforated leaves, the carvings are especially enchanting when lit from behind; sometimes they’re called ‘feuilles de poilus’, or ‘tree leaf lace.'” • An example (others at the link):

Zeitgeist Watch

“28 deaths at a California skydiving center, but the jumps go on” [SF Gate]. “It’s impossible to calculate the fatality rate per jump at the Parachute Center, because no one keeps track of how many people jump out of planes there — or how many have died while doing so. In 2018, [the center’s former owner, Bill Dause] told Sacramento’s KXTV-TV even he wasn’t sure how many deaths had occurred at his business. Dause declined to speak with SFGATE for this story.” • Why can’t people just make their personal risk assessments?

Guillotine Watch

“Elon Musk’s ambitions for Mars branded ‘dangerous illusion’ by top astronomer” [Daily Express]. “[Martin Rees, a leading astrophysicist and member of the Royal Households of the United Kingdom under the title of ‘Astronomer Royal’,] told the House of Lords’ podcast Lord Speaker’s Corner: ‘I don’t think [SpaceX’s plans] realistic and we’ve got to solve those problems here on Earth.’ ‘Dealing with climate change on Earth is a doddle compared to making Mars habitable. So I don’t think we should hold that out as a long-term aim at all.’ ‘I think there might be a few crazy pioneers living on Mars, just like there are people living at the South Pole, although it’s far less hospitable than the South Pole. ‘But the idea of mass migration to avoid the Earth’s problems, which he and a few other space enthusiasts adopt, that, I think, is a dangerous illusion.'” • 

News of the Wired

“The Human Hemisphere” [Radical Cartography]. “Just under 88 percent of humanity lives in the Northern Hemisphere; 82 percent lives in the Eastern Hemisphere…. So it looks like there might be some justification for Eurocentrism after all, at least geographically. Ah well.” • Hmm.

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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 TH:

TH writes: “Close-up of one of Sherman Library and Garden’s lovely cyclamen.”

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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. Cervantes

    The Coase theorem states that, if no transaction costs (“frictions”) exist, the efficient outcome will occur as a result of bargaining, regardless of the initial endowment of property rights.

    For example, it doesn’t matter who owns the valuable piece of empty land in a city, it can be developed to the highest and best use by the most qualified developer since they can just pay for the land, or give the owner a stake, etc.

    The Coase theorem has two implications: first, it focuses economic law and policy queries on the existence of transaction costs. Why doesn’t the most efficient outcome exist? Because it’s too expensive, regulated, or involves too many rent-seeking middlemen to get the appropriate deal done. These frictions may be reduced through entrepreneurship and/or policy changes.

    Second, the Coase theorem focuses economic law and policy queries away from distributional questions. Note, the Coase theorem does not state the distribution of surplus that would occur as a result of bargaining. It just says that if there are no transaction costs, deals can be done to get the “pie” to the biggest possible size, regardless of the initial slice sizes. However, the initial allocation of “slices” will invariably affect bargaining and the resulting post-bargaining “slices.” In fact, this comes back into the existence of transaction costs because the behavioral economics wealth effect can create transaction costs.

    The Coase theorem is generally associated with the Chicago school, but it has been thoroughly squeezed and massaged by behavioral economists (“nudge” people) to be somewhat less right-wing in application. But if you think the biggest questions in political economy are distributional, the Coase theorem would generally not be interesting to you (unless you can use it to prove that the economy would still be efficient if wealth is redistributed).

    1. notabanker

      Thanks for this. It makes a lot of sense this would appeal to a ‘self-made’ tech bajillionaire. They are had to slice away at the pie countless times, so it makes sense they would want it more efficient, especially in areas of governmental policy. Unfortunately, it will likely not be in the best interests of distributional problem, in fact, may make it much worse. Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but the thanks applies regardless.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Second, the Coase theorem focuses economic law and policy queries away from distributional questions.

      So when Shanahan, at her launch speech, said this:

      The purpose of wealth is to help those in need.

      she didn’t necessarily have redistribution in mind. One could, to take what I would hope is a limit case of stupidity, frame a foundation promoting “financial literacy” (“how to get in debt and stay there”) as “helping those in need.”

  2. Emma

    The tweet from AJ Leonardi reminded me to check on Aura N95 prices. You can now get 440 masks for $68 (or 15 cents per mask) on Amazon which is cheaper than I’ve ever seen them. Now may be a good time to stock up again. They’re good for outdoor use too, now that everybody seems to have a fire season.

    1. Samuel Conner

      Those are the 3M Aura 9205+. I agree that it’s a very good price, but in my experience, the rubber-band around-the-back-of-head straps are not very durable. These are basically disposables as the band will snap with repeated use.

      The 9210+, which uses elastic cloth for its straps, is a bit below $1.00 per each in 240-per-case quantity, better than a year ago, but in the same ball-park. They can be used repeatedly without fear of the elastic snapping, though it does lose some of its tension with repeat use.

      1. Emma

        Funny how people differ on little things like rubber bands. I hated the 9210+ bands. Too tight and pulls my hair. I find the blue rubber bands of the 9205 masks have just the right amount of tension for a good fit but is still relatively easy to put on and take off. I usually throw them away before either of the bands snap. I think they lose electrical charge for filtering after a while, so I throw them away after a few wears anyways.

  3. IMOR

    RFK Jr./tech squillionaires: Boudin recall.
    “…helped coalesce the group was the successful campaign to recall Chesa Boudin as district attorney of California… .”
    No. S.F. DA, not Cali A.G. Wonder if the other ‘facts’ in the piece are equally accurate.

  4. Richard Marens

    I’ve actually written on Coase, and the short version goes as follows:

    In the thirties, the British Coase, though still an undergrad, toured a number of very large American firms, of which the US had a vastly disproportionate number compared to the rest of the world.

    He came to the unremarkable conclusion that sometimes, especially for large continent-spanning firms of the time, it is cheaper and/or more dependable to order employees to do or make something, than to rely on markets, since there are costs and risks to transacting in markets. That conclusion initiated an academic literature known as “theories of the firm” and his brand: transaction cost economics.

    In more recent decades an economist named Oliver Williamson elaborated the idea, becoming Kobe to Coase’s MJ, Stitt to his Bird, etc..

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > He came to the unremarkable conclusion that sometimes, especially for large continent-spanning firms of the time, it is cheaper and/or more dependable to order employees to do or make something, than to rely on markets, since there are costs and risks to transacting in markets.

      Hmm. Thinking about it, I suppose this squares with the earlier comment that:

      The Coase theorem states that, if no transaction costs (“frictions”) exist, the efficient outcome will occur as a result of bargaining, regardless of the initial endowment of property rights.

      I guess the property rights in question are “Who owns the firm?”

  5. Samuel Conner

    It seems to me that this bit >

    “ake effect by summer. The move by the Democratic administration angered board members, who called it a ‘last-minute stunt’ that undermines their regulatory process. It also sparked a protest by warehouse workers, who temporarily shut down the meeting as they waved signs declaring that ‘Heat Kills!’ and loudly chanted, ‘What do we want? Heat protection! When do we want it? Now!’” • Gavin Newsom, the worker’s friend”

    is either missing its beginning and associated link or was carved off of something earlier in the post, though I did not see an obvious candidate.

  6. Calebanker

    Beware of billionairesses in politics. Newsom’s wife, Seibel Systems, and Shanahan, Sergei Brin’s ad driven censor empire alimony settlement.

    Kennedy’s Pampered Palestinians position, his V.P.’s money chains and flip flopping doom him IMHO. Great on the environment…SFW?

    Controlled opposition RatFinK.

    1. Yves Smith

      Shanahan is likely not a billionaire. She had a pre-nup with Brin which seriously undermined any bargaining position.and sued for $1 billion anyhow. The settlement was rumored to be $340 million, mainly in stock. Now if she kept that in Google it probably appreciated a lot. Not that makes her less problematic. She is billionaire-adjacent and seems to like being mistaken for one.

  7. Dr. John Carpenter

    Why are Americans so unhappy? Because the people running the show keep insisting it’s just rain we’re feeling when we all can see where it’s really coming from.

  8. digi_owl

    One may well wonder how much more people would be living down south if not so much of the landmass was under a massive ice sheet.

    1. GC54

      … temporarily ice covered, although by the time it’s green again there won’t be many humans left.

      1. digi_owl

        Heh, yeah i think a recent computer game used ads for retiring to sunny Antarctica as a way to highlight to messed up the planet is in that universe (another was for Somalia as a holiday destination).

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Adding that to my phrase book, thank you!

      [lambert blushes modestly]

      Soft, a little overheated, often used as wrapping or bedding for infants… That’s Walter “I Have” Russell “Three Names” Mead’s prose, indeed….

      NOTE No intention whatever to connote the plaid-patterned shirts worn by working class men, back in the day.

  9. Googoogajoob

    ” I don’t play the ponies, so I don’t know if Trump has been able to convert any of this paper to cash, or how he would do so, absent simply sellling it, which he seems not to have done. Readers?”

    Can’t find the source so take this with a pinch of salt: My understanding is he can’t sell his shares for 6 months unless he gets a waiver from the board.

    Rather amusing situation as well – the only thing remotely holding up the price of that stock is Trump’s involvment. If he gets to dump it’s practically a guarantee the price will completely crater, which is likely why other board members who also have shares will be reluctant to green light it.

    It could be the long game though – even if this craters to say like a sub $5 stock he’s still made something from practically nothing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Can’t find the source so take this with a pinch of salt: My understanding is he can’t sell his shares for 6 months unless he gets a waiver from the board.

      Could he get a loan on them?

    2. fjallstrom

      I seem to remember a few years ago that Musk and Bezos and their likes borrowed with their stock as collateral? Iirc it was to get cash within diluting power or paying taxes.

      Is there any problems for Trump to do the same?

      1. FreeMarketApologist

        Probably no problems. He owns shares in the company worth X amount, and could use them as collateral for a loan of cash (for some amount less than X). This is pretty standard behavior for many people with significant holdings that are tied up (either because they’re restricted for some reason, or it would be reputationally damaging to be seen selling the shares).

    1. Carolinian

      Glad to hear it And

      The system of scanners and video cameras in each store is also incredibly expensive.

      Or, how many Indian subcontractors does it take to screw in an Amazon light bulb? That Bezos is a visionary or at least likes to play one.

      1. Angie Neer

        The Safeway that was formerly our preferred grocery was replaced by one of the “Just Walk Out” stores. As an Amazon objector, I haven’t walked in since.

      2. The Rev Kev

        I’m surprised that there is not an effort to have those Indian workers replaced by an AI who will do the same work. It seems like the logical next step for somebody like Amazon.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m surprised that there is not an effort to have those Indian workers replaced by an AI who will do the same work.

          Just maybe that’s because — hear me out — the AIs can’t do the work*. IIRC, count of humans monitoring robot cars was equal to the count of the cars, i.e. to drivers. Lol.. Read this somewhere, but can’t find it, so….

        2. fjallstrom

          The “AI” is in many cases workers in India or Africa. It’s outsourcing with a veneer of tech.

  10. Safety First

    Re: Trump’s money/bond/etc.

    If you read the spac’s pre-merger SEC filings, specifically the S-1 (or is it the S-4? one of the S’s), you’ll discover some fascinating things:

    1. Trump and others weren’t “investors” in Truth Social – they owned an $875mm convertible bond in Truth Social. The spac paid out the convert holders to execute the merger.

    2. Compensation for the convert holders was:

    a) $875mm in cash.

    b) 87.5 million shares of the merged company.

    c) Between 10 million and 15 million of additional shares in the merged company if the stock trades above $12.50-$17.50 for 20 consecutive trading days, which it is highly likely to do.

    3. Trump’s new stake in DJT is supposed to be 58%, presumably post-10-15 million share issuance, so you can work backwards to get something like a 70%-75% stake in Truth Social.

    In other words, Trump didn’t just get shares – he got 70%-75% of an $875mm cash payout, which works out to somewhere north of $600mm. Now, maybe he had other obligations, e.g. he’d borrowed some money to buy the original convert. But the point is, even without the appeals court reducing the bond size, he shouldn’t have had a problem post-merger.

    Of course, so far as I can ascertain, not a single, solitary journalist writing any of the “Trump’s bond” stories over the past few weeks has ever, ever bothered to read the S-1.

        1. Screwball

          Ticker symbol DJT is another good example how how crazy the market has become. Look at the chart. Penny stock stuff until it goes nuts. Then poops, which was a hot topic of the stage 5 T haters. Even made the NYT. Another example of the “everything bubble.” YTD up hundreds of percent, no P/E ratio, no data or numbers to back anything up.

          Welcome to the casino. Spin the wheel.

    1. Yves Smith

      That is super helpful.

      But by all accounts, it appears he could not have met the original bond deadline and size. For some reason I don’t have time to run down, the bond amount was larger than the judgement.

      1. John Zelnicker

        Yves – I think pre-judgement interest can be added to the damage amount to determine the original required bond amount. IIRC, I read this was the case with Trump’s bond until the court reduced it.

    1. GramSci

      … albeit with a Napoleon complex. Last year President Wren lived in our White (bird)House and avicided 1/3 of our bluebird clutch.

      1. mrsyk

        Slightly off topic. The (eastern I think) bluebird population is quite robust here this year. I’m a fan.

  11. fjallstrom

    Regarding universities, universities has from the beginning taught the noble heirs, the noble failsons, the power hungry future managers as well as the intellectual worker bees. It’s just that the topics were different.

    A medieval european university mostly taught future priests, lawyers and doctors. Some of them ended up in positions of power – bishops, archbishops and cardinals in particular – but a priest in a poor village was materially just a step up from a peasant. And he had to know both how many angels could dance upon a pin head, and how to manage the lands and animals that belonged to his church.

    The difference with today is one of quantity, not quality.

    1. LifelongLib

      The poor priest thing lasted into the 20th century. IIRC Orwell mentions that a prospective clergyman could graduate from Oxford or Cambridge, then get assigned to a few pounds a year parish where he had less money than the grocer. In Britain at the time social status didn’t necessarily relate to wealth.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Those newly minted clergymen that had family or wealthy connections could usually get assigned to a very good parish. Until 1868 there was a compulsory church tax on all the people in that parish so a wealthy parish meant a well-off clergyman. In a parish, they were on a level with the local gentry which is no surprise as very many of them came from the gentry themselves. Under English law, the eldest son inherited the entire estate, titles and everything else upon the death of the father. So all the other sons had to go for careers in the Army, Navy or the Church to support themselves.

  12. Carolinian

    A little late but Turley on the Easter Egg Roll. Biden has since denied there is such a thing as the Transgender Day of Visibility although Turley says it has been around for 15 years and just happened to fall on Easter–despite the presidential denial. The desire to substitute potatoes for eggs may be new however.


    Plus, Hunter in big trouble?


  13. Tom Stone

    How long will it be before one of the two major Presidential candidates calls Nicole Shanahan “Nicole Simpson” ?

    When someone or some group behave in a way that is objectively insane it is because they are insane.
    The bombing of the Iranian Embassy was an insane act, no sane person would have done this, the crazies are in charge and everyone’s ass is on the line.
    Calling all Oligarchs, Calling all Oligarchs, put a leash on the crazies or your ass will be toast too…
    Radioactive toast.

  14. Joe Well

    Re: 2004 presidential election

    I remember all the talk about “black boxes” among a lot of people, though no idea if RFK was one.

    My God, that election hurt. It was widely seen as a referendum on the GWB’s illegal invasion of Iraq and international dirty war.

    The election in Ohio was overseen by the Ohio Secretary of State, a Republican, which…is somehow seen as normal in the US. But in many countries that some Americans like to call “The Third World,” that would never be allowed. There is an international standard of having an impartial national electoral institute oversee elections, which in turn is monitored by a ton of observers, partisan and otherwise, including international observers. Just another way the US is a backwards international outlier.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The US does not tolerate international observers and in the 2020 elections only 40 were allowed. Some States made it a felony to have an international observer near a polling station.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > My God, that election hurt.

      It did. I remember going to bed after the vote with the Kerry campaign resolved to challenge the Ohio result. They even raised money for it. When I woke up in the morning, they had decided not to. After 2000 and Bush v. Gore.

      Kerry was a terrible candidate, wooden, equivocal, hollow.* The brain geniuses who run the Democrat Party decided that his military background — which did include credible anti-war work after his Vietnam experience — was enough to win. Then Rove’s oppo researchers Swift-boated him, and the Democrats laid down for it (as opposed to, for example, assaulting Bush on the complete lack of documentation for his putative service in the Texas Air National Guard, which meant he wasn’t sent to Vietnam at all). Of course, the Democrats couldn’t really attack Bush on the war as such, because so many of them supported it. So Kerry’s military services was the proxy for that, and when Rove, with his idea that assaulting the enemy’s strength is always the best strategy, took that away, there was nothing left….

      NOTE * No wonder he’s in charge of climate.

    3. fjallstrom

      I went and dug a bit. Trip down memory lane. Lots of dead links.

      This one wasn’t dead: The E-Vote Factor: Kerry Conceded But Did He Really Lose?

      With this nice nugget:

      Even though Kerry has stopped fighting for the presidency, serious questions abound about the use of electronic voting machines. Take this story: In a voting precinct in Ohio’s Franklin County, records show that 638 people cast ballots. Yet, George W Bush got 4,258 votes to John Kerry’s 260. In reality, Bush only received 365 votes. That means Bush got nearly 3,900 extra votes. And that’s just in one small precinct. This in a state that Bush officially won by only 136,000 votes. Elections officials blamed electronic voting for the extra Bush votes.

  15. Feral Finster

    Meanwhile, I see that Speaker Johnson has a whole new attitude concerning aid to Ukraine.

    I suspect that someone from Langley told him that he had his fun but now play-time is over and he’d best go along if he knows what is good for him.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      I hear dey got dem swamps down in Loosiana, a body could just disappear in dem bayoux, muh goodness gators got him!

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Why are Americans so unhappy?”

    There are elements of truth in this article but I do not think that she really gets it. You want to live in a country where through hard work, you can get ahead. But that is no longer really true that anymore and because of government-allowed corporate profiteering, prices have gotten out of control and health and education are the obvious examples here. That is why the most unhappy demographic is people under 30. They know. If it is a period of internal dissonance, then it is between those that live in an elite bubble and the rest of the country that are forced to live under their version of Bidenomics. And as a study has found, it matters of policy only the views of the elite are heard and acted on. Everybody else is ignored. This is not sustainable and we see the results of this more and more. Something’s gotta give.

    1. notabanker

      This article is the most superfluous of hand waving, and typical of MSM. Yeah the problem is mental health and young people with a brief attribute of social media. That it is now the fabric of the media communication complex and the source of many evils isn’t even a footnote. Something happened in the 2010’s. Jeez, tis a mystery. Couldn’t possibly happen to be the concentration of wealth driven by unlimited QE and bailouts. How much of that went to Americans? Do they think people just didn’t notice?

      Yeah Turmp was a huge shocker, only it wasn’t. It was part of a worldwide backlash on bailouts and then, austerity.

      Good news on inflation? Like no one has been to a grocery store, or frankly anywhere, for the last 3 years? Sorry if you milked the corporate profits, or tried to spin the politics like it’s not that bad, you ain’t getting a buy. You screwed the rest of us and we are not forgetting it.

      Our standing as a global leader has eroded since 2017. I for one, am completely shocked? What could possibly be behind that? And is it really 2017, or maybe really since 2020?

      And all Americans are just hunky dorry when it comes to the US handling of covid. It’s not like any of us noticed the stripping of civil liberties, including mandated untested vaccines, that aren’t really vaccines, but that’s ok since we changed the definition during the pandemic. And it was all good for big pharma and the shambles of the for profit US medical establishment masquerading as health care here.

      What is a shame, is that the premise of the piece is Americans unhappiness and they best they got is more doses of personal accountability. Let’s just be nice to each other, listen to one another, maintain a positive attitude because it’s good for your health. As if this isn’t already a huge part of the problem. This is the worst of type of messaging that could possibly be put out there. More condescending, we’ll tell you what to believe while ignoring reality because experts. Whoever wrote this isn’t worth 5% of what they are getting paid, which says everything there is to know about who is actually paying them.

  17. Pat

    There was a lot hinky with the 2004 election in Ohio. It was the first that really made me sure electronic voting machines was asking to have a result that didn’t match the actual vote. IIRC it was also the one that led the press to “improve” their methods of Election Day exit polling.

    However the thing that confirmed for me that that election was fixed was the Ohio results in 2008 sending Rove into a frenzy on air, including multiple protestations that this is wrong. Hacker group Anonymous later claimed to have hacked the system to remove the embellishments to the count. (The unsaid implication being that they were sure it was needed because of 2004.)

    And for the record, I don’t think anyone should trust NY states results anymore either. (They had to work so much harder to mess with every lever machine to change the vote.)

    1. rowlf

      You Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie.

      Several of us saw the same with our own lying eyes, but we are all supposed to forget it happened.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Going by memory here but I think that I have the gist of the story correct. Like happened in a previous election, some computers were supposed to go down and the vote tabulation was supposed to have been transferred to another set of servers. The servers there would ‘massage’ those votes and when the voting data was transferred back to the original computers, it would have a more Rove-friendly version here. But then a hacking group got involved and they saw the whole thing being set up while remaining unnoticed. But on that night they set up firewalls so that this could not happen and the votes remained the same. That was why Rove was having a melt down live on air. I would call what Rove and his cronies tried to do treason but hey, that is just me.

      Just found the article that I was trying to remember from-


      1. Procopius

        I’m really, really glad “treason” is so closely and clearly defined in the Constitution. If one tenth of the people being accused of treason every day now were actually tried for it and we had the old British Empire definition, we’d have to build a lot more prisons.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There was a lot hinky with the 2004 election in Ohio.

      It’s been a long time, so I don’t remember the Ohio counties anymore. There was hinkiness with how voting machines were purchased, and there were plenty of examples of more conventional voter suppression tactics, like creating long lines in Democrat districts, and so forth. Standard fare.

      At one point, a county building in which the counting was taking place was completely shut down (and IIRC the press thrown out) because, said the election officials, somebody had phoned a bomb scare in to the DHS. But somebody checked with the DHS, and no such call was made…

      NOTE And this curious press release from December 2008 (via Boing Boing): “Bush Insider Who Planned To Tell All Killed In Plane Crash: Non-Profit Demands Full Federal Investigation.” ‘

      A small plane crash, needless to say. Makes you think! (The “insider” was Michael Connell, a “Republican IT Guru”, who worked for Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, and Jebbie.

      Another story that just… vanished. Speaking of stories vanishing: That John Barnett was indeed assassinated, either by a Boeing insider, or a major stockholder, is entirely plausible.

      1. mrsyk

        I forgot about Connell. Another small plane crash victim. But who could forget the Rove gnashing teeth in an “agony of defeat” moment worthy of “Wide World of Sports”.

  18. SocalJimObjects

    Scary earthquake in Taiwan, with a magnitude of 7.4, it is supposedly the strongest earthquake in the last 25 years. I woke up early today because I had an interview with someone from the US, and I had to evacuate 5 minutes into the call :(


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