By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
Strange sounds from Oz!!!
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson
“‘Doobie Smoker’ sentenced for role in Jan. 6 riot” [NBC]. “A man who stormed the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack and dubbed himself the “Doobie Smoker” on social media after he smoked marijuana in the rotunda was sentenced to two years’ probation Thursday. Federal prosecutors had pushed for Eduardo Nicolas Alvear Gonzalez, whom the government described as a ‘self-employed social media influencer,’ to be sentenced to three months in jail, arguing that his frequent self-promotion and public statements describing the riot as ‘beautiful’ raised serious concerns about his respect for the rule of law.” • And whow among us is not a “self-employed social media influencer”?
“Anger and insults: Documents show DOJ pushed back bluntly at Trump effort” [The Hill]. “[T]he committee provided depositions with top Trump-era DOJ officials who speak candidly about the now-infamous January 2021 meeting where many threatened to resign as Trump mulled installing mid-level DOJ attorney Jeffrey Clark, one of his allies, as acting attorney general to forward an investigation. That includes comments that Clark ‘wouldn’t even know how to find his way to [FBI Director] Chris Wray’s office, much less march in there and direct the FBI what to do.’ Then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, had for days been pushing back against a president increasingly fixated on meritless election fraud claims and baffled by his grumblings he should install Clark. But they were still surprised to get an email from Clark shortly thereafter promoting ‘various theories that seemed to be derived from the internet,’ according to Donoghue. They included a theory that the Chinese government may have hacked into Dominion voting machines through a smart thermostat. That was followed with a request for an intelligence community briefing on the matter along with the request to have the Justice Department send a letter to Georgia asking it to stall certification of its election results pending a DOJ investigation. Donoghue said he had to read the letter more than once to digest what Clark was proposing, noting that the email made Rosen — a longtime colleague of Clark’s — ‘a little angry.’ Donoghue called Clark, who during a conversation between the two men said that he had been doing his own investigation.”
“Barr says Trump responsible for Jan. 6 riot ‘in the broad sense of that word'” [The Hilll]. “During an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, which is scheduled to air in full on Sunday, Barr was asked if the former president was responsible for what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. ‘I do think he was responsible in the broad sense of that word, and that it appears that part of the plan was to send this group up to the Hill. I think the whole idea was to intimidate Congress, and I think that that was wrong,’ Barr responded. Holt noted during the interview that Trump provided a three-page response to the network over Barr’s remarks, in which he called his former attorney general a ‘coward,’ ‘a big disappointment’ and ‘lazy.’ He also said Barr’s forthcoming memoir, ‘One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General,’ was ‘fake.’ In an excerpt of that response to NBC News, which was obtained by The Hill, Trump claimed that before the Jan. 6 rally, he had suggested that troops be stationed in Washington, D.C., and at the Capitol building, but that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) were not interested.” • “Suggested.” In writing? On tape?
A few orts and scraps on Ukraine:
“The Biden administration is ‘actively discussing’ sending Kamala to Romania and Poland in the coming days to show ‘solidarity’ with Ukraine as Putin continues his relentless attacks” [Daily Mail] (07:42 GMT) and “White House discussing sending Harris to Poland and Romania” [CNN] (17:11 GMT). • Hard to see why this hasn’t happened. I mean, do they want to solve the problem, or not?
Obama the realist:
President Obama, in 2016, on Russia, Ukraine and the US. He was being pressed by the neoconservative editor of @TheAtlantic, @JeffreyGoldberg, on why he refused to "stand up to Putin" by arming Ukraine. Here's what Obama said. Well worth reading. This was after Crimea annexation: pic.twitter.com/mxzPg7I1Uf
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 1, 2022
Let's get our terms straight, before the Left rewrites the damn dictionary. There are oligarchs, and there are billionaires. One literally dictates state policy via monopolistic financial influence. The other does this too but with a Russian accent which frightens me personally.
— Dr. Gibson McFuck, Esq. (@GibsonMcFuck) March 4, 2022
“Americans Fear Economic Impact of Ukraine Conflict” [Rassmussen]. “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 74% of American Adults believe the Russian invasion of Ukraine is likely to hurt the American economy, including 40% who think it’s Very Likely the invasion will be bad for our economy. Only 14% don’t expect the Russia-Ukraine war to hurt the U.S. economy, while another 12% are not sure.” • The question: “How likely is it that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will hurt the American economy?”
Dudes, come on:
They look… fragile to me. Musical interlude:
(Big X fan here. And heck, it’s Friday.)
* * *
“Biden’s State of the Union Did Something New” [James Fallows, The Atlantic]. URL more to the point: “was-bidens-state-union-speech-good.” • This is worth a read, because Fallows goes through it line by line — as I do, when I put on my yellow waders — and annotates it. I skipped right to the Covid part. It’s incredibly weak. Fallows defense isn’t even half-hearted. Fallows thinks the speech is good, however.
“Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, With Long COVID Himself, Introduces Research Bill” [NECN]. “Nearly two years after getting COVID-19, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says he still has mild symptoms. Kaine joined two fellow Democratic senators, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, in introducing a bill Wednesday to fund research aimed at better understanding long COVID-19. ‘I tell people it feels like all my nerves have had like five cups of coffee,’ Kaine toldThe Washington Post in describing a ’24/7′ tingling sensation. The Comprehensive Access [***cough***] to Resources and Education (CARE) for Long COV
ID Act would centralize data about patient experiences and fund research into the effectiveness of treatments. It also would expand resources available to help those with lingering symptoms. Kaine’s flu-like symptoms began in March 2020 and went away within weeks, but the nerve tingling never stopped. He tested positive for coronavirus antibodies in May 2020. The little-understood phenomenon in which symptoms linger for weeks or months after a coronavirus infection could affect thousands.” • I wish our elected representatives didn’t have to experience things personally to understand their importance. But here we are. Long Covid, however, affects millions, not “thousands.”
Democrats en Déshabillé
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.
* * *
A nasty piece of work:
Sen. Toomey quietly slipped in an amendment to BAN postal banking into the Postal Service Reform Act.
This includes money orders, which @USPS sells $21 BILLION worth of per year.
We can’t let this happen. Call your Senator now!
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) March 3, 2022
* * *
“Hispanic women emerge as big winners in Texas GOP primary” [Politico]. “The GOP saw continued strong turnout in the state’s southernmost border counties in the latest display that Trump’s gains among Hispanic voters were no anomaly. But that was only part of the story. When the dust clears after the May 24 runoffs, as many as eight Latinos — including six women — could ultimately be Republican nominees for congressional seats across Texas. In the Rio Grande Valley alone, at least two Latinas will carry the GOP nod.” • As you can see, Sanders did very well in South Texas in 2020:
You’ve gotta wonder what the brain gemiuses in the Democrat leadership did to turn South Texas Hispanics into Republicans, but here we are.
But their stock trades:
Rep. Tom Suozzi discloses a bunch of stocks trades SUPER LATE with some over 4 years late.
The penalty? $200.
This is inexcusable.
See his purchases at https://t.co/lodTLftEbF
— unusual_whales (@unusual_whales) March 4, 2022
“Trump Just Endorsed an Oath Keeper’s Plan to Seize Control of the Republican Party” [ProPublica]. “The plan, known as the ‘precinct strategy,’ has been repeatedly promoted on Steve Bannon’s popular podcast. As ProPublica detailed last year, it has already inspired thousands of people to fill positions at the lowest rung of the party ladder. Though these positions are low-profile and often vacant, they hold critical powers: They help elect higher-ranking party officers, influence which candidates appear on the ballot, turn out voters on Election Day and even staff the polling precincts where people vote and the election boards that certify the results.” • So the scheme is to have activists… join the Republican Party? And exert political influence on it? And it’s inevitable this will work, because nobody else is willing to do the work of the party?
Realignment and Legitimacy
I’ve made the “Axelrove” joke myself. And for the low, low price of $16.05 per month…
Five years ago the New York Times called Daily Caller content "truly vile." Today they hired a Daily Caller reporter https://t.co/6kvNPSwgE5
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 3, 2022
Case count by United States regions:
Fellow tapewatchers will note that “up like a rocket, down like a stick” phase is done with, and the case count is now leveling out. At a level that, a year ago, was considered a crisis, but we’re “over” Covid now, so I suppose not.
NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.
The official narrative was “Covid is behind us,” and that the pandemic will be “over by January” (Gottlieb), and “I know some people seem to not want to give up on the wonderful pandemic, but you know what? It’s over” (Bill Maher) was completely exploded. What a surprise! This time, it may be different. But who knows?
Flattened out, continues encouraging (and independent from the CDC).
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.
I’m just waiting for CDC to find a way to jigger the wastewater statistics:
— Biobot Analytics (@BiobotAnalytics) March 2, 2022
From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:
See at “WTF.” I’d call Nebraska a data problem, except re-infections are still real infections, if you’re concerned with real people. (I know, I know; assumes facts not in evidence.) This looks to me like the CDC baseline is way too low, if every state counted like Nebraska is. Readers, can you talk me off the ledge? (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)
The previous release:
“Health update: Vermont’s COVID-19 outlook improves” [Vermont Public Radio]. “COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations and deaths are declining in Vermont, and health officials say they expect the numbers to keep falling. , there are still questions about how to keep older Vermonters and those with compromised immune systems safe.” • Amazing how “the endemic phase” because conventional wisdom without, so far as I can tell, any scientific justification at all. Is it wishful thinking? Is it MBAs thinking their spreadsheets rule the world, instead of the other way round? It’s bizarre. Like so much else.
Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission:
Continuing slow improvement, assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered.
Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
Sea of green once more. From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.)
Death rate (Our World in Data):
979,725. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci line.
The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday.
Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks. CDC, if you’re reading this, please send a signal by getting this fixed. And then throw some documents over the transom. In complete confidentiality!
Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The American economy added 678K jobs in February of 2022, the most in seven months and way above market forecasts of 400K. Job growth was widespread, led by leisure and hospitality (179K), namely food services and drinking places (124K) and accommodation (28K); professional and business services (95K), mainly temporary help services (36K), management of companies and enterprises (12K) and management and technical consulting services (10K); health care (64K); and construction (60K). That leaves employment 2.1 million jobs below its pre-pandemic level and many economists believe the job market could recover all the pandemic losses this year.”
Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate edged down to 3.8 percent in February of 2022 from 4 percent in the previous month, a new pandemic low and below market expectations of 3.9 percent. The number of unemployed persons edged down by 243 thousand to 6.270 million. In February 2020, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was 5.7 million. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate edged up to 62.3 percent in February, the highest level since March 2020.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 18 Extreme Fear (previous close: 22 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 33 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 4 at 1:17pm.
I look at most of Max Ernst dutifully, but I really like this one, perhaps because of the blue texture:
— Max Ernst (@artisternst) March 4, 2022
Ernst was big on birds, so I looked but didn’t spot one. I do see a cage….
Feral Hog Watch
Surely these “vital seed distributors” are not feral hogs?
Jav-a nice day! Javelina (say J as H) having breakfast near our wetland, btw the Rio Grande & levee, where #borderwall is being built. These vital seed distributors that ensure the survival of precious native plant species will be severely limited in range by stupid wall. pic.twitter.com/BjpvLLf9LS
— National Butterfly 🦋 (@NatButterflies) March 4, 2022
In any case, the National Butterfly Center has more important idiocies to worry about:
#BidenssBorderWall construction arrives at the western edge of our property. This concrete & steel cleaver through the LRGV Wildlife Conservation Corridor destroys a fragile remnant of native habitat, but does not stop human migration b/c it is build miles inside the U.S. #NoWall pic.twitter.com/3n7zDuMz9b
— National Butterfly 🦋 (@NatButterflies) February 28, 2022
Our Famously Free Press
I wrote a funny, romantic book that underscores the challenges of marriage and paints my husband as the hero of the story, and from the NY Times review to the tabloid coverage to The View, it's been warped to "Wife Is Total Bitch." https://t.co/61qnbMx2da
— Heather Havrilesky (@hhavrilesky) March 3, 2022
I’m not sure I’d buy the author’s book. But I sure buy the description of what our famously free press did to her.
The Agony Column
I guess I’ll file this here because Fesshole (one of my favorite accounts):
I've been promoted twice since 2020 despite averaging 4-5 hours of Football Manager each day. I delegate boring tasks to my team and share it to my bosses as huge successes. I even watch fake Youtube vids of conference calls to make my Mrs think I'm in meetings.
— Fesshole 🧻 (@fesshole) March 4, 2022
Note that in General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord’s classification scheme for officers, this poster is “qualified for the highest leadership duties.”
“A Brief History of a Doorway in Red Dwarf (1989-96)” [Dirty Feed]. • I read the words, but they don’t mean anything to me. Perhaps somebody familar with television, apparently, can explain. I orginally thought it was a game, but apparently not.
“‘Foxhole’ logistics union ends 49-day strike after demands met” [NME]. “A union of logistics players in Foxhole have ended their general strike after 49 days, following Siege Camp’s announcement that it will be implementing many of the organisation’s requested changes. Back in January, 1,800 logistics Foxhole players under the banner ‘Logistics Organisation for General Improvements’ launched an in-game general strike to highlight issues with the logistics system within the game. Their actions meant front-line soldiers struggled to be resupplied. In February, Siege Camp held a developer stream to outline what was next for the game, including changes to the logistics. The announced changes included an increased amount of ‘unstuck’ uses per war, quicker pull times, and other changes designed to make playing a logistics role less cumbersome. Several of these changes seem to specifically address the ten point open letter that the L.O.G.I. sent to developers in January.” • Jonah Furman is an excellent lanor reporter:
Honestly this seems really cool. It sounds like from some cursory reading that they basically made the game unplayable (or at least less playable) by refusing to do one of the core functions of the game playloop.
— Daily Union Elections (@UnionElections) March 4, 2022
To me, this is very important: I have been waiting, a bit like a cat at a mousehole, to see when politics and gaming would merge. Here is the first example I am familiar with — and it’s an in-game general strike (!!!).
Obviously, the Times needs to get better at union-busting:
The New York Times Tech Guild is really running up the score, despite the NYT's campaign urging these workers not to unionize. pic.twitter.com/NVSRzFNbmj
— Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) March 3, 2022
“New York REI Workers Have Voted to Unionize Amid a Growing Wave of Retail Unions” [Footwear News]. “86% of workers at the REI Co-Op in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in a vote conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on March 2. The initial results of the vote were 88-14, though official results are expected be tallied in the coming days, REI said…. The new union will represent 116 workers at the store, including all full- and part-time sales specialists, technical specialists, visual presentation specialists, shipping and receiving specialists, certified technicians, operations leads, sales leads, and shipping and receiving leads. The union will represent these workers in contract negotiations set to begin later this year.”
“Mountaire Farms said North Carolina worker complaints about a toxic chemical were ‘bogus.’ The state DOL just fined the company for serious violations.” [The Counter]. • Over/under on the size of the fine?
News of the Wired
Yves and I quote this from Dune often:
“Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that .”
Gonna use this, from George Katsiaficas’ essay on Marcuse, as the new excuse as to why I don’t drive pic.twitter.com/B46nrje8Zg
— lewis hodder (@lewishodder_) November 17, 2020
I don’t drive either, and the world is a better place for it.
An amazing thread on rebuilding soil:
Not just trees but forests systems including salmon rivers and bear habitat & flying squirrel habitat .
The coastal old growth forest of British Columbia also evapotranspiration huge amounts of water making it possible for that water to reach the dry interior. 2/ pic.twitter.com/CdDBL5pzn0
— BUILD SOIL; Plant Chestnuts! (@BuildSoil) November 15, 2021
I wish Biden would stop talking about the “soul” of America, whatever that is, and start talking about the soiil of America. He might do some actual good.
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. Today’s plant (TH):
TH: “This Orchid was in the Huntington Library / Museum / Botanical Garden’s Conservatory—the rainforest section. I think if I’d waited a few minutes my lens would have de-fogged, but I like the soft-focus effect.”
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