By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Bird Song of the Day
Painted Bunting, Wichita Mountains, Comanche, Oklahoma, United States. “Songs from a male perched prominently on a tall oak.”
Readers, since these are the waning hours of Saturnalia, I’m going to be very lazy, and not do a full Water Cooler. Specifically, I’m going to leave out most of the Covid material — all the “good” data is yet to come after holiday travel finishes, and in any case I can’t really add to the message “Stay safe out there!” — and everything else will be sketchy.
I’m sure will have more posting soon on the past year, and the year that is to come, but you still might care to comment on 2022, and 2023. For example:
of all the hard lessons i learned this year, perhaps the biggest heartbreak was that legal prescription weed just isn’t very good!
— elizabeth catte (@elizabethcatte) December 30, 2022
Readers? What about you? Lessons learned?
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles
“Sam Bankman-Fried had four White House meetings THIS YEAR: Bombshell report reveals disgraced crypto mogul met with top Biden aides as recently as September” [Daily Mail]. “The Democratic donor, 30, awaiting trial for what prosecutors say is one of the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history held talks with senior White House advisor Steve Ricchetti on September 8, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. He has had at least two other meetings with Ricchetti on April 22 and May 12 and another with top aide Bruce Reed. Bankman-Fried’s brother Gabriel also participated in a meeting on his own on May 13. The latest report is further evidence of the deep ties Bankman-Fried had with Washington before he was charged with swindling investors out of at least $1.8 billion. The White House has refused to say whether Biden will give back some of the $5.2 million in donations from the fallen FTX founder gave to his campaign and connected groups in 2020.” • Oh.
“White House antitrust adviser Tim Wu set to depart” [Politico]. “Wu was the architect of President Joe Biden’s 2021 executive order on competition policy that directed agencies across the federal government to boost competition throughout the economy…. ‘We had the rare opportunity in this Administration to try and steer the giant battleship of antitrust policy in a new direction,’ Wu said in a statement provided by the White House. ‘We got more done over the last two years than I would have ever imagined, and it has been the opportunity of a lifetime to work on that project with an extraordinarily talented group of colleagues in the White House and the federal agencies.’” • I hope this isn’t a bad sign. Commentary:
Our statement on key antitrust expert Tim Wu leaving the White House. https://t.co/JnfQbIgock
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) December 30, 2022
“Trump’s tax returns released after long fight with Congress” [Associated Press]. “The documents include individual returns from Trump and his wife, Melania, along with Trump’s business entities. They show how Trump used the tax code to lower his tax obligations and they reveal details about foreign accounts and the performance of some of his highest-profile business ventures.” • Totally not a nothingburger!
Democrats en Déshabillé
Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert
I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:
The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.
Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
* * *
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Note From San Francisco” [Matt Taibbi, TK News]. “At the moment, all we can do is show a few pieces of what we think might be a larger story. I believe the broader picture will eventually describe a company that was directly or indirectly blamed for allowing Donald Trump to get elected, and whose subjugation and takeover by a furious combination of politicians, enforcement officials, and media then became a priority as soon as Trump took office.” • What a nothingburger!!
“Covid Year Three (Unlocked)” (podcast) [Death Panel (enoughisenough)]. “On the sociological production of the end of the pandemic.” “We take a look back at the year’s events and the major social and political developments that worked to normalize covid in 2022.” • This is a great podcast. This episode begins with a sonic montage of various luminaries, including Walensky. I wonder if Walensky’s voice sounds like Marcie Frost’s? It should.
Note from the grounded:
— 𝕭𝖊𝖆𝖘𝖙 𝖔𝖋 𝕭𝖎𝖗𝖉𝖎𝖓’ (@GREGNEISE) December 28, 2022
Of course, if “Covid is airborne” had been appearing on every chyron in America for two years, that Southwest passenger probably would have spelled “airborne” right.
As long as it’s “mild” Russian Roulette:
Russian roulette is safe for most people.
— Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis (@DrLoupis) December 29, 2022
Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [TradingEconomics]. “The Chicago PMI in the United States increased to 44.9 points in December of 2022 recovering slightly from a 30-month low of 37.20 points hit in November and compared to market forecasts of 40. The reading pointed to a fourth consecutive month of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.”
Supply Chain: “From the docks of Southern California and Europe to the parcel hubs in the Midwest and the store shelves in New York, signs are growing that the global supply-chain crisis is over” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Covid-19 pandemic that spawned product shortages, shipping bottlenecks and soaring transport costs may not be gone, but… goods are moving around the world again, reaching companies and consumers. Despite widespread government and industry attempts to unwind the bottlenecks, the real break may have come in the demand slowdown that has eased the pressure on strained operations.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 35 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 38 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 30 at 1:06 PM EST.
“How Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and world’s 500 richest billionaires lost $1.9 trillion in 2022” [Bloomberg]. • Happy new year! And many more like it!
“Socialist candidate Will Lehman exposes massive voter suppression in the UAW elections” [WSWS]. “One million out of 1.1 million eligible members did not vote in the election because the UAW leadership deliberately kept them in the dark. This is not a matter of opinion but of provable fact. Lehman’s protest describes, for example, how the UAW national “Member News” web page, which is incorporated into many local union web sites, made no reference to the election whatsoever between July 29 and November 29. While it maintained a conspiracy of silence around the union’s internal elections, the bureaucracy devoted vast resources to campaigning for the Democratic Party in the national midterm elections. In those elections, which took place at the very same time as the union election, the bureaucracy utilized advanced techniques, organized public events, and bombarded union members with advertising in an effort to increase turnout by reminding workers of voting deadlines. There is no innocent explanation for this contrast.”
I haven’t mentioned this lately, but I maintain a list of open access online collections of radical, left-wing and labour historical documents. Over 350 collections from around the world are currently listed. And always looking for more!https://t.co/6Y5g1aLQTK
— Evan Smith (@evansmithhist) December 28, 2022
News of the Wired
“How did the Babylonians know √2 up to six digits?” [The Palindrome]. “This clay tablet from 1800-1600 BC shows that ancient Babylonians were able to approximate the square root of two with 99.9999% precision. How did they do it?” • For math mavens!
Happy New Year!
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 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 Tom:
Tom writes: “On our walk with the dogs today at Middlesex Fells Reservation in Massachusetts we found this one tree that, remarkably, sill has leaves on it. It’s late December and after the heavy wind and rain last week so it’s quite a surprise to find any leaves on trees. So this really stood out and looked ghostly. Whatever commenter can tell me about it would be welcome.”
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