2:00PM Water Cooler 6/18/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Striated Wren-Babbler. Raja Sikatuna National Park, Bohol, Philippines. “Habitat: Forest.” The jungle is so noisy!

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) The Trump v. Biden debate.

(2) The Black vote, and who will get it.

(3) Epigenetics: Heritable memories?

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Look for the Helpers

From 2018, but still kind (dk):

There are other examples in the thread. Something about books….

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My email address is down by the plant; please send examples of “Helpers” there. In our increasingly desperate and fragile neoliberal society, everyday normal incidents and stories of “the communism of everyday life” are what I am looking for (and not, say, the Red Cross in Hawaii, or even the UNWRA in Gaza).


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

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Biden Administration

“Half a million immigrants could eventually get US citizenship under a new plan from Biden” [Associated Press]. ” President Joe Biden is taking an expansive election year step to offer relief to potentially hundreds of thousands of immigrants without legal status in the U.S., aiming to balance his own aggressive crackdown on the southern border earlier this month that enraged advocates and many Democratic lawmakers. The White House announced Tuesday that the Biden administration will, in the coming months, allow certain spouses of U.S. citizens without legal status to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. The move could affect upwards of half a million immigrants, according to senior administration officials. To qualify, an immigrant must have lived in the United States for 10 years as of Monday and be married to a U.S. citizen. If a qualifying immigrant’s application is approved, he or she would have three years to apply for a green card and receive a temporary work permit, shielded from deportation in the meantime. About 50,000 noncitizen children with parents who are married to U.S. citizen could also potentially qualify for the process, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity. There is no requirement on how long the couple must have been married, but no one becomes eligible after Monday. That means immigrants who reach that 10-year mark after Monday will not qualify for the program, according to the officials.” • Seems like an awkward compromise. Presumably trailing bait for the debate on the 27th, but how?


Less than a half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 24:

Still waiting for some discernible effect from Trump’s conviction (aside from, I suppose, his national numbers rising). Swing States (more here) still Brownian-motioning around. Of course, it goes without saying that these are all state polls, therefore bad, and most of the results are within the margin of error. If will be interesting to see whether the verdict in Judge Merchan’s court affects the polling, and if so, how.

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Trump (R): Trump on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Detroit, a critique. From the thread:

Trump (R): “Tim Scott Leverages Billionaires to Boost Vice-Presidential Bid” [Bloomberg]. “As the veepstakes heats up, [Scott’s] best shot at winning Trump’s approval may come from his ability to charm billionaires who’ve been hesitant to endorse the controversial former president. The more money Scott can raise, the bigger the financial war chest he can offer to deploy as Trump’s running mate. Already Scott’s political action committee has announced it’s spending $14 million to boost Black and Hispanic support for Trump and Republicans in November. And his 501(c)4 nonprofit, Great Opportunity Policy Inc., offers a flexible and powerful funding route. Unlike his PAC, it’s not required to disclose the names of its funders, an appealing prospect for conservative donors who don’t want to be publicly associated with Trump. And while Trump is considering several names for his VP pick, including Ohio Senator JD Vance, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, he spent the most time talking up Scott at an event last week on Capitol Hill. He’s called him an ‘unbelievable’ surrogate. Scott’s appeal to these super-wealthy donors rests on both policy and personality. Griffin said he’s known Scott for over a decade and admires how his ‘kindness, compassion, and political conviction’ guide ‘a relentless pursuit of the American Dream for every American in every community of our great country.’ In a Republican party that has taken a populist turn, at least in its rhetoric, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee sticks his neck out for Wall Street. He came from the financial world, a former insurance broker who touts his rise from poverty as proof that such success is still possible in America. Most importantly, wealthy donors and former colleagues say, Scott has a rare ability to connect one-on-one.” • Note that the USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll of Black voters (below) says Black voters would be less likely to vote for Trump if he picks Scott. So perhaps Scott could take Treasury.

Trump (R): “Playbook: Trump the team player” [Politico]. “Last night, House GOP strategists were carefully reviewing the nine candidates Trump recommended in the wake of the meeting. Several of them were inconsequential or re-endorsements of candidates who were on their way to victory, such as former Trump staffer BRIAN JACK, who is favored to win the primary runoff today in Georgia’s 3rd District. These were essentially Trump “protecting his batting average,” as someone quipped to Playbook last night. But there were two endorsements — for NANCY DAHLSTROM in Alaska and TOM BARRETT in Michigan — that stood out as evidence to Republicans that Trump is listening to Johnson and Hudson, just as he has generally listened to NRSC Chair STEVE DAINES in his Senate primary endorsements. Trump’s post about the Alaska race read as if he had just received a briefing on the state’s ranked choice voting system. Republicans believe the only way to defeat Democratic Rep. MARY PELTOLA is for Dahlstrom, Alaska’s lieutenant governor, to push Republican NICK BEGICH out of the race. Johnson chose Dahlstrom over Begich back in December and getting Trump to do the same was considered a top priority for the Mar-a-Lago meeting. It worked. Trump and Johnson uniting around Dahlstrom ‘is extremely consequential,’ said a national Republican strategist involved in House races. As Sarah Ferris notes, the hope is that Trump’s nod will ‘put Dahlstrom over the finish line in the upcoming primary, since Begich has said he will drop out if he loses, rather than run again and try his chances in ranked choice.'” • I think I liked Trump 1.0 better….

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Biden (D): “A Foreign Policy for the World as It Is” [Ben Rhodes, Foreign Affairs]. Rhodes coined “The Blob.” Worth a read; Rhodes criticizes Biden’s Gaza policy, which takes some guts. That said: “If Biden does win a second term, he should use it to build on those of his policies that have accounted for shifting global realities, while pivoting away from the political considerations, maximalism, and Western-centric view that have caused his administration to make some of the same mistakes as its predecessors.” • And a pony. Meanwhile, and by contrast:

Biden (D): Biden’s antitrust policies don’t meet with universal applause:

Biden (D): “FBI knew since 2016 Hunter Biden’s team nearly scored $120 million Ukrainian deal while Joe was VP” [Just the News]. “The FBI learned as far back as 2016 that Hunter Biden and his partners had plotted to set up a new venture in tax-friendly Liechtenstein that would be capitalized by a whopping $120 million investment from the controversial owner of the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings, according to documents obtained by Just the News that have been kept from the American public for eight years. The mega-deal was not referenced inside Hunter Biden’s now infamous laptop or during the 2019 impeachment proceedings involving Ukraine, but was instead chronicled in a trove of 3.39 million documents the FBI seized from Hunter Biden and his business partners during an investigation of securities fraud nearly a decade ago…. The new evidence shows the major investment plan was being built at the time when Hunter Biden was serving on Burisma’s board of directors and Joe Biden was still serving as Barack Obama’s vice president in charge of U.S.-Ukraine policy…. The evidence showed lawyers in both the United States and Ukraine were putting a final term sheet together ahead of September 2015 when Hunter Biden’s team got two consecutive pieces of bad news in a 24-hour span. First, one of Hunter Biden’s business associates, Galanis, was arrested in the securities fraud case on Sept. 24, 2015. Then, that same day, the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, gave a speech pressuring that country’s prosecutors to pursue Zlochevsky on corruption charges after months of inaction in the case.” • The only tie to Joe Biden is a dinner “at the swanky Cafe Milano restaurant in Washington, D.C.”, a dinner Biden should never have attended, but what of that.

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Biden (D): “Hollywood stars could be key to Biden’s campaign” [Axios]. “Biden’s campaign broke Democrats’ single-evening fundraising record during a previous high-profile event featuring several current and former presidents. A-listers, like those of Biden’s campaign extravaganza at the Peacock Theater, could be his secret weapon against former President Trump, The New York Times’ Peter Baker writes. Hollywood legend Jeffrey Katzenberg — a Biden campaign co-chair known for ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Shrek’ — is leading the charge. ‘While Katzenberg has not solved Biden’s age problem by any means … [he’s] helped build a war chest that has been outpacing the Trump campaign,’ Baker writes.” • I think a Trump dollar goes farther than a Biden dollar, so fundraising amounts aren’t directly comparable.

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“Trump, Biden and CNN Prepare for a Hostile Debate (With Muted Mics)” [New York Times]. “The 90 minutes of debate time will begin, according to the rules circulated by CNN, once the first question is answered. Up to five minutes are designated per question: two minutes for the opening answer, a one-minute rebuttal, a one-minute response to the rebuttal and an extra minute to be used at the discretion of the moderators. Each candidate will also be allowed a two-minute closing statement.” • I wonder how “the discretion of the moderators” will play out. More on the rules:

I’m still surprised Trump agreed to no audience.

“James Carville Says He Wouldn’t Bet on Trump Appearing at Next Week’s Debate: ‘If You Gave Me Even Money, I’d Say He’s a No-Show'” [Mediaite]. “[MSNBC’s Ari] Melber remarked on the microphone rule and asked Carville, ‘Will that matter?’ ‘Well, if I was a gambler – and actually, I am a gambler – I’d take even money that Trump doesn’t show up.’ ‘Ha!’ the host exclaimed incredulously. ‘You don’t think Trump’s coming next week?’ ‘I mean, I don’t know, but I think he’s gonna wake up and decide,’ Carville responded. ‘Just like he said he was gonna testify at his defense in his trial. He didn’t even put on a defense. Let him show up. I wouldn’t be shocked, but I certainly would not be surprised if you gave me even money, I’d say he’s a no-show.'” • Actually, Trump’s attorney’s did put on a defense; they called two witnesses. Anyhow, presumably Biden won’t be cross-examining Trump about his sex life. Although that would be entertaining.

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USA Today]. “Exclusive USA TODAY/Suffolk University polls of Black voters in Michigan and Pennsylvania, two crucial swing states, show a more complicated dynamic within a demographic group that is unexpectedly in play in November’s election…. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed in each state said they voted for Biden four years ago. Now, his support has fallen 20 percentage points in Pennsylvania (to 56%) and 22 points in Michigan (to 54%)…. The top reason volunteered by respondents in the survey was discontent with the job he’s done in the White House, followed by worries about his age and mental acuity. Third was concern about wars, including his support for Israel in the conflict in Gaza…. Biden’s big losses have resulted in small gains for Trump. In the poll, the presumptive Republican nominee was backed by 15% of Black voters in Michigan, compared with 9% who said they voted for him in 2020, and by 11% in Pennsylvania, compared with 8% in 2020… By more than 2 to 1, Trump drew more support from Black men than Black women − by 22% to 9% in Michigan, and 16% to 6% in Pennsylvania…. Despite [her] groundbreaking status, [Kamala Harris] is viewed a tick less favorably than Biden among Black voters in these two states, although her unfavorable rating is also a bit lower: 60% to 24% in Michigan and 55% to 30% in Pennsylvania…. A majority of Black voters, with percentages ranging from 55% to 59%, said they would be less likely to vote for Trump if he chose any of three Black men frequently mentioned as potential vice-presidential candidates: former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Florida Rep. Byron Donalds…. [Do] Black Americans [see Trump] as a fellow victim of an unfair justice system[?] By a 5 to 1 margin, 79% to 15%, Black voters in Michigan disagreed. In Pennsylvania, they disagreed by a margin of 7 to 1, 84% to 12%… Almost two-thirds of Black voters in each state − 64% in Michigan and 65% in Pennsylvania − said Trump’s conviction in New York on charges of falsifying business records in a hush-money scheme made them less likely to vote for him…. In 2020, just 1% of those surveyed said they voted for a third-party candidate. Now the drift from Biden has swelled that number to 15% in Michigan and 16% in Pennsylvania.” • Much to ponder….

“‘I’m Like Speechless’: CNN’s Harry Enten Says Trump ‘Careening Towards A Historic Performance’ With Black Voters” [Daily Caller]. Sorry, but it’s mainly quoting Enten: “‘I keep looking for this to change, to go back to a historical norm and it, simply put, has not yet. So this is the margin, or, Biden and Trump among black voters, compare where we were at this point in 2020, compare to where we are now. At this point, look at this. In 2020, Joe Biden was getting 86% of the African American vote. Look at where it is now. It’s 70%, that’s a 16-point drop, John,’ Enten told host John Berman. ‘And more than that, it’s not just that Joe Biden is losing ground. It’s that Donald Trump is gaining ground. You go from 7%, single-digits at this point in 2020, to now 21% and again, John, I keep looking for signs that this is going to go back to normal and I don’t see it yet in the polling of anything right now. We’re careening towards a historic performance for a Republican presidential candidate, the likes of which we have not seen in six decades.” • Working from the same numbers as USA Today above, but with a different tone (which I think is more appropriate).

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“Democrats and the Euroleft” [Harold Mayerson, The American Prospect]. “Unfortunately, Starmer and other Labour leaders seemed to have propelled their party from Corbyn’s radicalism and borderline antisemitism….” • Absolutely not. I certainly hope Mayerson’s falsehood isn’t the first sign that a combination of the spooks, the Israeli embassy, and the press (not just AIPAC) is going to weaponize anti-Semitism to start taking down US politicians, as they did Corbyn. FWIW — literally nothing to the powers that be — Mayerson just dropped several notches in my regard.

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“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Airborne Transmission

“Carbon dioxide guidelines for indoor air quality: a review” [Nature]. From the Abstract: “Many current indoor carbon dioxide (CO2) guidelines for indoor air quality specified no adverse effects intended for control. Odor dissatisfaction was the effect mentioned most frequently, few mentioned health, and three mentioned control of infectious disease. Only one CO2 guideline was developed from scientific models to control airborne transmission of COVID‐19. Most guidelines provided no supportive evidence for specified limits; few provided persuasive evidence. No scientific basis is apparent for setting one CO2 limit for IAQ across all buildings, setting a CO2 limit for IAQ as an extended time-weighted average, or using a one-time CO2 measurement to verify a desired VR.” • A ways to go, apparently. Perhaps citizen science from those with CO2 monitors could help.

Transmission: Covid

Surge anecdata (1):

Surge anecdata (2):

Surge anecdata (3):


Make it make sense (1):

Make it make sense (2):

Immune Dysregulation

“Infectious diseases skyrocket worldwide fueled by COVID-19 pandemic” [World Socialist Web Site]. “A new study has found that the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past four years coincides with a new surge in many other infectious diseases far beyond their pre-pandemic levels. The study was reported by Airfinity, a UK-based data and analytics company that specializes in monitoring and forecasting trends in global disease and public health. The implication of this finding is that the systematic dismantling of public health measures by capitalist governments worldwide, allowing SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, unimpeded access to the world’s population, has created the conditions for even greater damage to human health. Airfinity previously tracked the horrendous impact of lifting Zero-COVID in China at the end of 2022, which led to hundreds of millions of people being infected and more than a million deaths. Last week the company posted a new analysis on its webpage showing that ‘the world is seeing a resurgence of at least 13 infectious diseases, with cases higher than before the pandemic in many regions. Over 40 countries or territories have reported at least one infectious disease resurgence that’s 10-fold or more over their pre-pandemic baseline.'”


Does make you wonder how Brownnose Institute gets such traction:

Elite Maleficence

I’m not sure the establishment view on aerosols is that concise or nonchalant:

Perhaps a veteran of the AIDS crisis can tell us whether public health is moving at the same pace as it did then, or more slowly. Hard to believe they’re moving faster, and the H5N1 response is even more of a cluster than the Covid response, and I’m not the only one saying it.

“NIH email scandal: A ‘shocking disregard’ for public record-keeping or within federal rules?” [FedScoop]. The deck: “A National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases official who said he was told how to make emails ‘disappear’ shines a light on the difficult task of managing electronic government records.” This caught my eye: “The Morens incident highlights other ways that federal officials can theoretically try to avoid FOIA requests about their electronic communications. It’s not uncommon for FOIA officers to encourage requesters to share specific keywords in order to conduct records searches. But emails from Greg Folkers, Fauci’s former chief of staff at NIAID, included misspellings of key terms that individuals might have included in their request for records, such as “EcoHealth” written as “Ec~Health” and virologist Kristian Anderson spelled as “anders$n.” A Republican-led group of legislators has charged that the misspellings were intentional.” • Why not go the whole nine yards and use one-time pads?

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

This week[1] CDC June 10: Last Week[2] CDC June 3 (until next week):

Variants[3] CDC June 8 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC June 8
New York[5] New York State, data June 17: National [6] CDC May 25:
National[7] Walgreens June 10: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic June 8:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC May 27: Variants[10] CDC May 27:
Weekly Deaths vs. % Positivity [11]CDC June 8: Weekly Deaths vs. ED Visits [12]CDC June 8:


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] (CDC) This week’s wastewater map, with hot spots annotated. The numbers in the right hand column are identical. The dots on the map are not.

[2] (CDC) Last week’s wastewater map.

[3] (CDC Variants) FWIW, given that last week KP.2 was all over everything like kudzu, and now it’s KP.3. If the “Nowcast” can’t even forecast two weeks out, why are we doing it at all?

[4] (ER) This is the best I can do for now. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) A slight decrease followed by a return to a slight, steady increase. (The New York city area has form; in 2020, as the home of two international airports (JFK and EWR) it was an important entry point for the virus into the country (and from thence up the Hudson River valley, as the rich sought to escape, and then around the country through air travel.)

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC). This is the best I can do for now. Note the assumption that Covid is seasonal is built into the presentation. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[7] (Walgreens) 4.3%; big jump. (Because there is data in “current view” tab, I think white states here have experienced “no change,” as opposed to have no data.)

[8] (Cleveland) Going up.

[9] (Travelers: Positivity) Up. Those sh*theads at CDC have changed the chart so that it doesn’t even run back to 1/21/23, as it used to, but now starts 1/1/24. There’s also no way to adjust the time rasnge. CDC really doesn’t want you to be able to take a historical view of the pandemic, or compare one surge to another. In an any case, that’s why the shape of the curve has changed.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Same deal. Those sh*theads. I’m leaving this here for another week because I loathe them so much:

[11] Deaths low, but positivity up.

[12] Deaths low, ED up.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the US rose 0.9 percent from a month earlier in May 2024, more than market expectations of a 0.3 percent increase and after showing no growth in April. Manufacturing output, which makes up 78% of total production, advanced 0.9 percent, compared with market forecast of a 0.3 percent increase.”

Retail: “U.S. Retail Sales” [Trading Economics]. “Retail sales in the US edged up a 0.1% month-over-month in May 2024, following a downwardly revised 0.2% fall in April and below forecasts of a 0.2%, in another sign consumer sentiment is cooling. Sales of sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and books recorded the biggest increase (2.8%), followed by clothing (0.9%), motor vehicle and part dealers (0.8%) and nonstore retailers (0.8%).”

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Tech: Oops:

Tech: “Inside Snapchat’s Teen Opioid Crisis” [Rolling Stone]. “Between 2019 and 2021, the number of teen deaths from fentanyl tripled — and the driver of that plague, per the cops and feds I talked to, was fake pills sold online. Phony opioids that looked like Oxycontins but were cut with fentanyl, not oxycodone; bogus Xanax but with fentanyl, not alprazolam, on board. Name any pharmaceutical with a foothold on campus — Adderall, Valium, Suboxone, what-have-you — and it was instantly available via social media and delivered to your door like Papa John’s. The folks compounding those pills weren’t pharm-school grads. They were cartel adjuncts or lost-soul dropouts with a storage unit and a pill press. And whether their fentanyl came from Mexico or directly from China, they were everywhere and nowhere at once: invisible on the street but ubiquitous online; and many were hawking poison disguised as pharma drugs over Snapchat. Meanwhile, no one seemed to be doing a damn thing about it. The DEA didn’t launch its first PSA alert until the fall of 2021, and local cops walked away, or made half-hearted searches of a deceased kid’s phone for actionable links to the dealer. Those links were long gone, though, scrubbed minutes or hours after the last exchange between seller and buyer. That, Neville learned, was why the dealers had moved to Snapchat: It was effectively a safe space for them. All forensics vanished within 24 hours, wiped clean by the delete function of the app. That wasn’t a bug but a feature of Snap, the code choice that sent its fortunes soaring and marked it out from its social media rivals. On TikTok and Instagram, your DMs and photos largely lived till you deleted them, one by one. On Snap, it was the reverse: Everything turned to smoke unless you manually saved it to your account.” • Stoller comments:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 17 at 1:48:29 PM ET.


“More good news for coffee drinkers from a study of sitting and sipping” [WaPo]. “Sedentary coffee drinkers had a 24 percent reduced risk of mortality compared with those who sat for more than six hours and didn’t drink coffee, according to the lead author of a study published recently in the journal BMC Public Health. The finding, which was not part of the original article, was calculated at The Washington Post’s request and provided by Huimin Zhou, a researcher at the Medical College of Soochow University’s School of Public Health in China and the lead author of the study on coffee and health.”

“Eating Cheese Helps You Age Better, Scientists Say” [Newsweek]. From a paywalled Nature study: “They also found that lack of activity, smoking, and watching too much TV were associated with poorer well-being, while eating more cheese and fruits were associated with better well-being. ‘We found that lifestyle factors such as sedentary behaviour (that is, TV watching time), smoking (that is, age of smoking initiation and cigarettes per day), and dietary intakes of cheese and fresh fruit, as well as behaviours and performances such as medication use (that is, antihypertensive medication and NSAIDs), cognitive performance and age at menarche, each mediated 1.82 percent to 9.54 percent of the total effect of the well-being spectrum on [healthiness of aging],’ the researchers wrote. ‘Most of these mediators were well-established risk factors associated with aging-related outcomes, and our findings extend their roles in linking mental well-being to healthy aging.'” • I’ve got the coffee-at-my-desk part down — in fact, I just bought a new (low-end) espresso machine — so now I have to get the cheese part under control. Grapes are a fruit. Does wine count as a fruit?

The Gallery

More wallpaper from the Nabis, this time Vuillard:

I Am Not An Art Critic (IANAAC), but I remember seeing several paintings from the Nabis, I think at the Corcoran, when I lived in DC. The drafting and the brushwork were not, to my mind, especially brilliant — very much unlike the Impressionists! — but ZOMG the color! The paintings seemed to float in the air, free of the frame and the wall, as Rothkos are said to do (never seen it myself, but that’s what they say).

News of the Wired

“The big idea: can you inherit memories from your ancestors?” [Guardian]. “Scientists working in the emerging field of epigenetics have discovered the mechanism that allows lived experience and acquired knowledge to be passed on within one generation, by altering the shape of a particular gene. This means that an individual’s life experience doesn’t die with them but endures in genetic form. The impact of the starvation your Dutch grandmother suffered during the second world war, for example, or the trauma inflicted on your grandfather when he fled his home as a refugee, might go on to shape your parents’ brains, their behaviours and eventually yours. Much of the early epigenetic work was performed in model organisms, including mice. My favourite study is one that left the neuroscience community reeling when it was published in Nature Neuroscience, in 2014. Carried out by Prof Kerry Ressler at Emory University, Georgia, the study’s findings neatly dissect the way in which a person’s behaviours are affected by ancestral experience. The study made use of mice’s love of cherries. Typically, when a waft of sweet cherry scent reaches a mouse’s nose, a signal is sent to the nucleus accumbens, causing this pleasure zone to light up and motivate the mouse to scurry around in search of the treat. The scientists exposed a group of mice first to a cherry-like smell and then immediately to a mild electric shock. The mice quickly learned to freeze in anticipation every time they smelled cherries. They had pups, and their pups were left to lead happy lives without electric shocks, though with no access to cherries. The pups grew up and had offspring of their own. At this point, the scientists took up the experiment again. Could the acquired association of a shock with the sweet smell possibly have been transmitted to the third generation? It had. The grandpups were highly fearful of and more sensitive to the smell of cherries. How had this happened? The team discovered that the DNA in the grandfather mouse’s sperm had changed shape. This in turn changed the way the neuronal circuit was laid down in his pups and their pups, rerouting some nerve cells from the nose away from the pleasure and reward circuits and connecting them to the amygdala, which is involved in fear. The gene for this olfactory receptor had been demethylated (chemically tagged), so that the circuits for detecting it were enhanced. Through a combination of these changes, the traumatic memories cascaded across generations to ensure the pups would acquire the hard-won wisdom that cherries might smell delicious, but were bad news.” • 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 DG:

DG writes: “Dwarf laceleaf japanese maple salvaged from a mid-century ranch teardown and replaced by a McMansion in MD, transplanted to near Roanoke, VA. Also columbine, creeping phlox, a bulb whose name I can’t recall, and weeds.”

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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. Wukchumni

      Re: Masters Debaters…

      I understand it won’t have an audience, would it be possible to get a laugh track for us watching at home, and maybe a little suspenseful music at appropriate points in the Old Mano y Old Mano night at the oratory.

      1. griffen

        I look forward to this debate of high performing, mentally excellent and vibrant politicians lay their best plans forward for achieving high goals for the average American family. Lower incomes and higher inflation ain’t going so great!

        Money for Ukraine yes. Money for Americans,,,meh probably no. You can’t insure your stuff or eat better and healthier based on your 2024 YTD gains in the stock market! Maybe you could if you too were a Bezos or a Gates.

      2. ChrisFromGA

        Suggestions for Musical accompaniment:

        + Joe freezes – “Freeze Frame!” by J. Geils Band
        + Joe says “My ceasefire plan for Gaza” – “Lies” By the Thompson Twins
        + Joe calls Trump a Convicted Felon – “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash
        (Also useful for Trump’s entrance.)

        1. Wukchumni

          I feel In The Jailhouse Now performed by Johnny Cash, playing on repeat in the background would bring gravitas to the proceedings.

          1. ChrisFromGA

            Too bad Trump’s sentencing isn’t until July 11. Can you imagine, “Live from the Wyoming County Jail … the Presidential Debate?” (Johnny Cash songs start playing …)

        2. griffen

          Joe loses his place on stage or some poorly timed shuffling of his feet or lower extremities, and unfortunately takes a slight tumble in view of the cameras…same rule applies to Trump if he somehow does a “self immolation act” about laws and justice..

          Johnny Cash cover of “Hurt”… original recorded by Nine Inch Nails.

  1. lyman alpha blob

    What literal war criminals does this thomas person think Biden should be going after? Friend of the Democrat party George W Bush? Cheney? One or both of the Clintons? Barry O? Biden himself?

    Not just a rhetorical question – I can’t read the threads but if anyone else can and he mentions it, I’d be interested to know.

    1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

      I can’t read it either, but my bet is Israelis.

      Fat chance.

    2. Bugs

      Yeah it’s like the executive branch is limited to one task at a time. All those agencies and the cabinet just stand by watching until it’s their turn. Seriously though, what kind of watery porridge do these types have for brains? Is it a disease? Or maybe the closure of all the insane asylums was a bad idea? Who tf even knows. I’ll be in France for the elections over the next few weeks – speaking of insane. It’s gonna cook, as the kids say.

    3. steppenwolf fetchit

      Literal war criminals have powerful connections and supporters which Taylor Swift and/or Ticketmaster just don’t have.

      Going after Taylor Swift and/or Ticketmaster won’t get you Epsteined. Going after Bush, Cheney, Netanyahu, etc. just might.

  2. Disappointed

    Harold Meyerson ostentatiously resigned from the DSA over alleged antisemitism a few months back. Ditto for Maurice Isserman who now is banging the anti-Communist drum.

    1. pjay

      Add Meyerson to my long and growing list of writers whom I actually used to take seriously but I now consider worthless. Anyone who describes Corbyn in this way is either a liar, a total idiot, or so ideologically biased toward a particular issue as to be delusional. I assume the last is the case for Meyerson.

  3. antidlc

    From the Editorial Board of WAPO:
    Long covid might presage a wave of disability claims. Get ready.
    Long covid is a looming potential challenge to public health and governments around the world.

    Long covid, the symptoms that can linger for months or even years after infection with the pandemic virus, is still a subject of considerable uncertainty. The virus can damage the body in a multitude of ways, leading researchers to list more than 200 symptoms, and there is no single diagnostic test or cure. But even with the unknowns, evidence suggests that long covid could burden millions of people. Its effects — on individuals, but also on society at large — could be protracted and expensive.

    No mention that the way to avoid long COVID is not to get COVID.
    No mention of ways to avoid getting COVID.

    1. Jason Boxman

      That is pretty comical; because the effects multiply with infections, so why not sound the alarm that without a course correction, this is only the beginning of the damage to come, not simply the worst case. This is the stupidest timeline.

  4. Stephen V

    : “FBI knew since 2016 Hunter Biden’s team nearly scored $120 million Ukrainian deal while Joe was VP” [Just the News].
    Clearly FBI stands for
    F.eds B.uried I.t .

    Here’s looking at you, Epstein videotapes etal.

    1. Reply

      Re: Hunter et al.

      Some eventual dénouement might show the subtlety and finesse of the feds. Instead of mere two-tier justice, there could be tranches, terminology borrowed from Wall Street. That could allow appropriate risk pricing and premia, downsides and expirations or springing clauses, with non-traceable funds. Can’t wait for the movie? /s

  5. Terry Flynn

    Re epigenetics. The passed down memory stuff seems a stretch to me. However, I was gobsmacked in first decade of this century at Bristol Dept of Social Medicine (as it was then) when top epidemiology people like Professor George Davey-Smith and his colleagues first gave presentations discussing how epigenetics could explain how changes in my father’s or grandfather’s diet (looking at you, increasingly processed food) could have turned genes on and off leading to all sorts of otherwise unexplained changes in disease prevalence in my generation.

    So what do I know.

    1. t

      Not really memory though, more like instinct. Genes adjusting to adapt to the current environment.

    2. pjay

      I read a lot of popular science when I was a kid. I’m old enough to remember when “catastrophism” was ridiculed as goofy pseudo-science. Then came the Alvarez’s work, Chicxulub, the Deccan traps, etc. and the science changed. Now you’re telling me that “Lamarckism” was correct? What do any of us know, really?

  6. Reply

    Epigenetics = Litigation Futures

    depending, once again, on what the definition of Is is. /s

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think it would depend the locale. “Inner city” neighborhoods that had highways jammed through them mgiht sue automobile manufacturers, for example (or the makers of tires, additives, etc).

    1. Roland Chrisjohn

      Epigenetics = offloading responsibilities for continuing assimilation/genocide policies against Native Peoples in Canada.

  7. Lee

    Surge anecdata:

    I’m noticing more people wearing masks lately. Oddly, a good number of these are people outdoors wearing surgical masks, some even while bicycling. Perhaps it’s not pathogens but rather pollen that they are concerned about. I know surgical masks are crap at preventing disease transmission, are they any good for pollen allergies?

    As to Carville’s offer of an even-money bet that Trump will be a no-show at the upcoming debate, I’d take that bet. OTOH, maybe Carville has inside info that Trump’s days on earth are numbered in single digits. In which case, there’d be dancing in the streets where I live.

    1. Samuel Conner

      IMO even the crap masks are a good start; it suggests that people are starting to take the hazards more seriously. I use a N95 respirator when cycling. Even when alone and working outdoors in the yard, I wear an N95 (usually an old, soiled one that probably is not as effective at filtering electrostatically). There’s a remote chance that someone will approach me to speak (this has happened on multiple occasions, typically neighbors interested in plants), but basically in this circumstance, I’m just signalling to any onlookers that “I think there is still a problem and I’m willing to inconvenience myself for the sake of safety.”

      To adapt a popular saying about persevering in widely disfavored but true points of view, “First, they laugh. Then they get sick. Then they agree.”

      1. Lee

        I bought a P-100 Elipse for smoke during fire season before the pandemic. Now I always wear it when inside buildings other than my home.

  8. Lee

    Dear Old Blighty, rats and sinking ship edition:

    Millionaires are abandoning the UK in droves, new research shows

    Tangentially related, a completely demoralized former Tory, Rory Stewart, discusses his book Is Being a Politician the Worst Job in the World? with the New Yorker’s David Remnick, for whom Lambert appears to harbor great loathing, undoubtedly with good cause. In any event, I found the discussion bleakly informative. If only more politicians came to the realization of how sick and twisted our system of governance is. The greatest reflection of human nature, indeed. Let us hope not.


      1. Lee

        One thing mentioned, unfortunately only in passing, were the constraints placed on U.K.’s fiscal options, as compared to the U.S., by not being the home, or would that be McMansion, of the world’s reserve currency.

  9. skippy

    Ref: Coffee ….

    As discussed on NC before, Machines, even low cost, are completely unnecessary. Italian stove tops have no moving parts, do not need to be de-calcified, and only have one part [O-ring] which will ever need replacing, clean up is a rise and a wipe.

    For those that want espresso/crema there is the Brikka model of which I use. Frothy milk is done at the same time [jug with two stage plunger] and the whole process is less than 5 min. Personal I use a small hand grinder for my coffee but, pre ground is fine. I also recommend looking at on line coffee suppliers over supermarket brands for better coffee and a wider range. There are some amazing single origin coffees out there and will blow you away.

    You will never look back …

    1. Pavel

      I’ve been using the classic Bialetti Moka Express (in 2 or 3 sizes) for probably 30 years and in 4 different cities… I just started a new morning ritual whereby I cycle through about 6 different espresso cups each morning and serve the coffee with the Moka Express on a tray with my yogurt. Very pleasant indeed.

      My best friend in NY has had at least 2, probably 3 of the very fancy Jura espresso machines, but I suspect each cost about $1500 or $2000 at least. They make good coffee but honestly mine with a little $30 or $40 Bialetti taste just as good IMO. And much easier to clean. :-)

      Simple pleasures are the best!

      1. ian

        When I visited Sicily there was a marketplace in the town where I was staying. There was a booth that sold nothing but replacement parts for the Bialetti Moka pots – gaskets, handles, even hinge pins. Sicilians are a thrifty lot.

      2. mrsyk

        Now I have to go down to the kitchen and see what brand we use. Kontessa. Works great. That’s the house coffee almost 25 years now.

      3. skippy

        Yes Pavel, Bialetti in 2/4 cup sizes. I know when its done due the burbling sound and milk comes off moments later when I see it steam and finger test e.g. milk goes sweet at the right temp and froths better. I also have friends is 6K range machines, problem is if they go down its expensive and slow turn around to get fixed. Yes with good water, beans, and skill [yes you have to learn to use the high end ones] it makes fine coffees.

        I just like the low cost, simplicity, whilst still getting a good cuppa. Not to mention when pulling long days at work I can bring the camp stove and make a coffee in moments.

    2. Bugs

      I use an Isomac Millennium with the matching grinder. My spouse has nicknamed it “Mussolini”. It breaks down every couple years but it’s so beautiful… and the coffee is brilliant. I also like filter through a simple porcelain Melitta holder. She sort of invented filter coffee and I love her story.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        We have had a Rancilio for twenty years and my mate has made a couple of repairs to it and recently took it to a shop because it wasn’t heating. We grind our own beans and make due cappuccini every day we’re home. We also have a Bialetti Moka Express for when the power goes out.

    3. Victor Sciamarelli

      An amusing anecdote about Alfonso Bialetti is that when he died he was cremated and his ashes were put into the largest Bialetti Moka Express.
      An interesting photo of his funeral mass shows a crowded church with the Moka Express at the center of the altar.

          1. flora

            Erm, going back several decades now ( / ;) of course, if not hotplates then electric skillets (for meats and casseroles) or electric popcorn poppers (for rice or bean dishes or soup or etc). You could make a good meal using those two simple utensils, as I remember. / cheers

  10. Jason Boxman

    Half a million immigrants could eventually get US citizenship under a new plan from Biden

    Seems like an attempt to deal with COVID-induced labor shortages. But we can’t immigration our way out of mass population disability.

    1. Acacia

      Yep, immigrants can become disabled too, but anything to avoid addressing the underlying causes.

      1. Cassandra

        Chances are, those immigrants will fill some of the vacant positions but will become disabled before paying in to SSA for the required ten years, and therefore will not be eligible for SSDI. Yay Team Blue, always thinking ahead.

  11. The Rev Kev

    ‘Trump (R): Trump on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Detroit, a critique. From the thread:’

    From that same meeting which I found very noreworthy-

    DETROIT FAITH LEADER: “President Trump, I’m so humbled that you would be here. President Obama never came to the hood, so to speak. President Joe Biden, he went to the big NAACP dinner but he never came to the hood, so thank you.”’

    https://x.com/Breaking911/status/1802092989138784603 (30 secs)

    What is that they say that for winning, that in just turning up means that you are halfway there?

    1. Lee

      Trump’s being a racist is a major talking point for the Dems. But if his econo-nationalist populism gains greater electoral traction by being able to shed that particular charge, he and his will certainly pick up more PoC votes. Alas, they’ve still got the albatross of denying women’s reproductive rights hanging round their necks. And so we proceed onward through the miasma of contemporary American politics.

  12. Tom Doak

    I was just reading the news on the Boeing spacecraft that’s been having problems since it was launched last week. They have decided to go for re-entry on Wednesday June 26, in the middle of the night.

    Perhaps there is a good reason for the timing, like avoiding commercial aircraft, but it does seem like a convenient way to mute the reaction in case something goes badly wrong.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > poor bastards. i hope they get down okay.

        Yep. If I were in their place I’d be concerned, to say the least. Another Challenger disaster might be stake in the heart for Boeing, at least as a commerical manufacturer (the defense stuff would probably roll along regardless).

        1. Joker

          In order to avoid another Challenger/Columbia disaster, they have taken measures in the form of reducing number of people on board.

  13. Tom Stonet

    I suspect two things are turning Black Voters away from Biden.
    Gaza, does anyone think that Biden and the US Government would be enabling this slaughter if the people of Palestine had blonde hair and blue eyes?
    The Kangaroo Courts that convicted Trump, there’s not a single Black American who isn’t aware that the “Criminal Justice System ” is well named and that Black Americans are treated differently than white Americans. This is also a class issue, if you are poor and get caught up in the system you are screwed, however you are even more likely to be effed if you are Black.
    That’s the ugly reality and Black Americans are not allowed to forget it.

    1. CarlH

      There are a lot of blonde, blue eyed Russians and Ukrainians, but your point is well taken

    2. sarmaT

      …does anyone think that Biden and the US Government would be enabling this slaughter if the people of Palestine had blonde hair and blue eyes?

      You mean like Slavs that USA have been slaughter enabling in the Balkans and Ukraine?

  14. Objective Ace

    Doctors will do all of this but then refuse to put a mask on for 20 minutes to meet with you or perform a routine procedure.

    That orthopedic surgery is a $10,000 billable event versus a couple hundred dollar checkup. Ignoring the doctors not caring about there own health, it makes sense from the cost vs benefits perspective

  15. Carolinian

    Blinken clown car state department insults and scolds Vietnam for hosting Putin in a few days. Apparently baby Blinken unaware that Russian/Vietnam hookup goes back to the Vietnam War.


    Or maybe it’ll be Vietnam War 2 to go with Cold War 2. They are bringing back universal draft registration.

    Whatever the flaws of Trump he does seem unenthusiastic about starting new wars whereas Biden thinks Ukraine should go on forever if Europe will help that happen. Here’s an interesting portrait of Trump’s “shadow Sec State.”


    1. The Rev Kev

      Blinken: ‘Vietnam. How can you do this? After all that we have done to, errr, for you?

      This is all so ham-fisted with no awareness of living memory. Blinken and his State Department are just a bunch of muppets.

      1. rowlf

        Ambassador Chas Freeman says Blinken is the “black thumb” of diplomacy.


        He said he still behaves like a congressional staffer. Sees foreign policy as a domestic issue. Constantly talking “at” people instead of to them.

        He said every single important diplomatic relationship is in ruins because of Blinken’s incompetence.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There seems to be a streak of maliciousness in him as well. Just before the war he told Lavrov that of course the US would be stationing nukes on Ukraine’s border with Russia and the only thing up for discussion would be the number of them. Real mafia tactics. No wonder the Russians felt that they had to invade.

      2. Lunker Walleye

        Is it all simply intentional just to p*ss off the Russians at every turn? Lavrov must be so ready to retire.

      3. CA

        “Blinken: ‘Vietnam. How can you do this?”

        Simply consider the US campaign against using 600,000 doses of Sinovac Corvid-19 vaccine donated to the Philippines from February 2021. There is a US administration cruelty in such a case that is beyond all reason. Devastating cruelty.

      4. CA

        “Blinken: ‘Vietnam. How can you do this?’ ”

        Consider visa-free ease with which millions of visitors can come to Xinjiang, while the US continually imposes new sanctions on any commercial enterprise in Xinjiang for supposedly unthinkable crimes. But, the millions of visitors find no such crimes while the US sanctions become fiercer.

        The US is trying to destroy the well-being of 1.4 billion; trying to contain and stop the development of China.

          1. CA

            “As they say…”

            Forgive me, I thought I was supporting your observation which I thought important. I repeatedly find your writing incisive. Obviously I was unable to understand in this instance.

            1. The Rev Kev

              I was supporting your observation. I find it incredible that Washington is determined to fight China even though China has no interest in doing so. I guess that will mean sanctions, indirect sanctions on countries that trade with China, suspension from the SWIFT network (unlikely) and perhaps even theft of Chinese assets located in the US. China has any number of ways of hitting back but Washington seems oblivious of what could happen. So what I meant with my comment was that Washington is effing around with China and will soon find out what that means.

              1. CA

                “I find it incredible that Washington is determined to fight China even though China has no interest in doing so…”

                Now I understand, and the comment was scary and important. You are repeatedly incisive.

            2. CA

              When President Xi came to America to meet with the newly elected President Trump, the dinner reception was interrupted so that Trump could take Xi to an operation room to watch the bombing of Syria.  Such is American diplomacy in these times.  All implied or explicit threat.

              1. The Rev Kev

                I remember when a former leader of China visited the White House when Bush was President and instead of the Chinese national anthem being played, it was that for Taiwan. In addition, a Chinese female activist loudly scolded him from the audience without one Secret Service agent intervening or moving her away. And yes, this actually all happened.

                1. ChrisFromGA

                  The leadership of the US on both sides of the aisle are outright racists. They hate Asian people unless they’re supplicants like the Japanese.

                  End of story.

    2. Lee

      From the article:

      “The United States is not perfect, and its security does not require every nation on earth to resemble it politically. Throughout much of U.S. history, most Americans believed it was sufficient to stand as a model to others rather than to attempt to impose a political system on others.”

      While I applaud the sentiment (these guys are really asking for my vote), historically, Euro-American expansionism has often been the rule rather than the exception. Only the might of aspirational nation-states rather than moral righteousness is responsible for curbing this inclination. The much vaunted “rules based order” is a self-congratulatory, self-serving, and deceptive gesture toward an appealing notion.

  16. Acacia

    The question that keeps coming back to me is: when I meet somebody who is fully onboard with the current disinfo du jour, e.g., that Ukraine was just invaded by Russia for no reason except Putin’s putative imperial aspirations, or that Trump is going to destroy “our democracy”, or that the Great Orange Gollum has a vast following of far-right brownshirts secretly waiting to assemble on the National Mall, or the whole Russiagate disinformation campaign, or a variety of other recent campaigns to manipulate public opinion — how to express this to them?

    “I’m sorry that you were hoodwinked” doesn’t seem very good.

    “Wait… you actually believed that??” might be more or less rude, but I’m sure there are much better responses.

    1. albrt

      I don’t even try, because I don’t think it’s possible to break through unless the other person actually cares and wants to understand your point of view. Which for the average person in the United States does not even apply with spouses or children.

    2. ambrit

      I’ve learnt the hard way that the best strategy is not to engage with such people if at all possible. Todays “true believers” are cult adjacent and take any criticism of “the Truth” as a personal attack. Best give such wide berth.
      As someone upthread said it, most people will not acknowledge ‘reality’ until it comes along and smacks them up the side of their heads.

  17. SD

    Re NIH email scandal: I’m not sure the supposed misspellings are evidence of malfeasance. Using a special character like $ or ~ as a stand-in for any letter of the alphabet is a common search technique in legal research databases like Lexis or Westlaw. For instance, if I’m looking for results related to EcuHealth or EcoHealth, I’d put in the special character so that my search ideally retrieves information related to both. Similarly, if I’m looking for results related to andersen or anderson, I’d use a special character in place of the last vowel to get info related to both of those names.

    Caveat: I do not know what kinds of advanced search capabilities our public servants in government health care roles have at their disposal. Malfeasance may be afoot, but there may be another explanation.

    1. mrsyk

      Malfeasance is assuredly afoot. If my memory serves me well, this is in relation to a volley of large fast track grants to develop digital censorship tools. Agree with your take on this particular chapter. Perhaps there is more to the FOIA search story.

    2. Acacia

      Content are search queries are two different things.

      The issue at hand is over the deliberate evasion of FOIA requests. Not sure if you read the article, but David Morens explained his practice of doing this in an email. It’s pretty much a smoking gun. So that’s one way of evading FOIA requests, by making sure the records don’t exist to get searched in the first place. The other tactic under scrutiny is to evade searches by inserting non-alphabetic characters in names, though we don’t yet(?) have the same admission of intent about that.

      In any case, the questionable use of special characters is in emails and documents, not in searches. As you note, some of these characters can be used as wildcards for search, e.g., % is the usual wildcard for SQL databases. $ can also work, depends on the system. But again, these are search queries, processed by a database server, not content in an email or document, which would be the target of those queries.

      Try this: paste “anders$n” into an MS-Word document and then search for “Anderson”. See what (doesn’t) happen? Then, try saving the document and use your OS to search for “Anderson”. Once again, you don’t find it.

      In principle, a SQL wildcard search could find these obfuscated names, but only if you know where to put the wildcard character. Assuming the best case that a FOIA search uses SQL databases (industry standard, but who knows how they do it), will the person or system handing the search request try all possible wildcard combinations of “Anderson”, and all possible wildcards for every single search term? I doubt it.

      1. aleric

        There are apparently a lot of dirty tricks for delaying FOIA requests – another issue with misspellings is to mangle the return address of the requester so that the information is lost or delayed in the mail. Couldn’t find the twitter thread where this was discussed, though just searching FOIA problems on twitter resulted in more rabbit holes than I could explore.

  18. DavidZ

    Mearsheimer forgets that Trump attacked Syria for the fake gas attacks staged by the UK/US funded White Helmets.

    Trump also assassinated Iran’s top military leader.

    The second one didn’t lead to a major escalation because of the benevolence of the Iranian government, not because Trump was not hawkish (cancelled the JCPOA unilaterally when Iran was in full compliance).

    With regards to Ukraine – Trump, from what I read somewhere, was the first President to cross the line of arming them with certain lethal weapons, something even Obama didn’t do.

    Would Trump have negotiated with Russia when they came out with their proposals to NATO & USA? His instinct may have been to do so, though I highly doubt he could have, as the US State itself is on a trajectory for war.

    Would he have been able to prevent Russia/Ukraine conflict, I highly doubt it.
    Prevent the funding of the war, I doubt he has the cajones to go against the MIC.

    1. Lee

      Therefore, so far as foreign policy is concerned for those of us living for the most part relatively powerlessly in the belly of the beast “nothing will change fundamentally” no matter which of two beasties slouches into the White House. It is both disheartening and infuriating to admit it but you’re probably right. OTOH, I surmise that Trump’s intention is to remake America, as to in what image I am uncertain, whereas Biden and his minions intend to remake the entire world into an image of themselves. Pick your poison wisely.

    2. Carolinian

      Well according to his so called “shadow secretary of State” linked above Trump fancies himself a genius negotiator who would indeed have opted for “jaw jaw” rather than “war war.” Whereas Biden’s approach to Russia is “Putin must go”–preferably by assassination no doubt if he could arrange it.

      And yes Trump’s moves against Iran and his cozy attitude toward Israel doubtless reflects a personal preference as well as a quid pro quo to people like the late Adelson who gave him a lot of money. But in that respect he’s joined by the even more servile Biden and the oddly servile RFK jr.

      I believe it’s quite possible that if Trump had continued the Ukraine war would not have happened. In fact I don’t think Biden/Blinken expected it either. They thought they were going to intimidate and sanction Russia into submission. Their agenda isn’t Trump’s agenda to the extent that he has one. He has even expressed contempt for NATO and questioned its usefulness.

      1. Kevin Walsh

        Remember how Trump allowed Pompeo and Bolton to sabotage his talks with North Korea? There’s no reason to think the same thing wouldn’t have happened with Russia.

        It was under Trump that the US withdrew from arms control treaties so that they wouldn’t have to allow inspection of US missile installations in Romania to make sure that they weren’t armed with nukes.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Mearsheimer forgets

      Routine chores, compared to fomenting wars involving not one but two nuclear powers. Try harder.

      P.S. Mearsheimer’s faculties are, in my view, completely intact.

  19. Jason Boxman

    One thing about #neuroCovid (acute and #LongCovid) is that it can happen regardless your COVID case is mild or not. Scratchy throat, stuffy runny nose, and mild cough are respiratory symptoms that do not correlate with neurological ones. Once the virus enters the brain (it can happen within days after infection with SARS-Cov-2), the pathology and symptoms can be independent of the infection in the upper respiratory tract. Neurological symptoms can happen without respiratory or other systemic ones.



    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m starting to think that the whole notion of “symptom” needs to be rethought (not matter how many checklists EBM has managed to get built into apps).

  20. Lunker Walleye

    I’m not an art critic either but thanks for showing this painting. When you post works of art, I typically do a little bit of research on the creator. Vuillard’s mother was a seamstress and he seems to have loved textiles. The color and patterning of this work is wonderful. His interiors and domestic scenes are charming.

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