By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Bird Song of the Day
California Quail week at Naked Capitalism continues.
“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
“Pelosi positive for COVID-19, was at White House with Biden” [Associated Press]. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tested positive for COVID-19, a day after appearing unmasked at a White House event with President Joe Biden. Pelosi received a positive test result for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic, her spokesman Drew Hammill said Thursday in a tweet. He said she had tested negative earlier in the week.” • This after the cluster at the Gridiron Club. Elites hate masks, changed policy to remove mask requirements, didn’t wear masks, and now they’re all infecting each other. Karma in near-real time:
Pelosi, who has tested positive for COVID, yesterday afternoon: pic.twitter.com/RkPSh4Xami
— Kathryn Watson (@kathrynw5) April 7, 2022
All unmasked, all smiling for the photo op. Examples to us all.
* * *
Starting with positives:
GC 22-04: “The Right to Refrain from Captive Audience and other Mandatory Meetings” pic.twitter.com/5IdbllEln8
— Brandon Magner (@BrandonMagner) April 7, 2022
“Student Loan Pause Is Extended Through August 31, White House Says” [Teen Vogue]. “The Biden administration is expected to extend the student loan moratorium until August 31, according to reporting by Bloomberg and The Hill. An official announcement is set for Wednesday. This will be the fourth payment pause since President Biden took office less than two years ago, and the seventh pause since the federal COVID relief bill was first implemented in 2020. As with earlier extensions, the interest rates on loans are expected to remain at 0% for the duration of the pause.” • In 2020, under [gasps] President Trump.
* * *
The Democrat machine seems to be throwing a lot of cogs. Gradually, and then suddenly:
“Jill Biden’s Secret Service detail is infiltrated by two FAKE Homeland Security agents who showered security personnel with gifts including $40,000-a-year penthouse and $2,000 assault rifle” [Daily Mail]. “Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, were taken into custody as more than a dozen FBI agents charged into a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington on Wednesday evening. Photos posted to social media Wednesday night showed FBI crews moving boxes out of their luxury apartment and even bringing in a big box truck to the scene. Taherzadeh and Ali are accused of posing as members of a fake Department of Homeland Security taskforce investigating gang violence and the January 6 Capitol riots. The pair, whose nationalities have not been revealed, are said to have driven around in an official-looking SUV equipped with flashing lights. They are said to have successfully ingratiated themselves with Secret Service agents, who they supplied with rent-free luxury apartments, high-end electronics and policing equipment. Four members of the agency – including the first lady’s bodyguard – have been placed on leave, with their identities not revealed. In one instance, Taherzadeh allegedly offered a member of First Lady Jill Biden’s security detail with a $2,000 assault rifle. He and Ali also reportedly supplied a USSS agent with a penthouse apartment valued at more than $40,000 a year. It is unclear what they had hoped to gain from the ruse, and prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing, even as four members of the Secret Service – including the one from the first lady’s security detail – have been placed on leave. Investigators have also not said whether the pair ever successfully managed to have direct contact with Mrs Biden, who is the most heavily-protected woman in the United States. In the meantime, Taherzadeh and Ali are being detained and are scheduled to appear in the US District Court in DC on Thursday.” • Oh-k-a-a-a-y…, I hope Dr. Biden was keeping a close watch on Joe’s meds, is all I can say.
“Here’s a dozen times Joe Biden played a role in son Hunter’s business dealings” [New York Post]. Item 3: “Hunter Biden acknowledged in a 2019 New Yorker magazine article that he and his dad once discussed Hunter’s job on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, which paid him as much as $83,333 a month when Joe Biden was vice president under President Barack Obama. ‘Dad said, ‘I hope you know what you are doing,’ and I said, ‘I do,’ ’ he recalled.” • So, the New York Post and the Daily Mail own the Hunter’s laptop story, and have the data, too. And then there’s James Biden.
Anne Applebaum and David Axelrod, together on the same stage:
The account quoted has been suspended. Here’s the video it commented on – Anne Applebaum, ‘disinformation’ expert, dismissing any relevance of Hunter Biden’s laptop: pic.twitter.com/zC6qctR2GV https://t.co/S82izR2TxN
— Tim Hayward (@Tim_Hayward_) April 7, 2022
Applebaum gets completely owned, and I’m sure doesn’t even know it.
“Was Biden Ignored by Obama at White House? What Videos Really Show” [Newsweek]. “However, the clip on the Fox News show was cut short moments before Obama turns to Biden. Biden then introduced Obama to a woman and the pair shake hands and exchanged pleasantries before Biden, Harris and Obama move through the room to greet other attendees.” • This is apparently the exculpatory video:
The end of this one stops early before you see he was introducing someone pic.twitter.com/l55K5ibMpx
— Acyn (@Acyn) April 6, 2022
I’m not persuaded, either by Biden’s demeanor or by the interactions. The interaction I see is Harris and Obama working the crowd side-by-side, together, and Biden — hand on Obama’s shoulder — trying to join the twosome. That never happens, and as this video shows, they never do join up, and all move off in different directions.
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.
* * *
Concrete material benefits (1):
Reminder that the ACA is under water in polling among the age group that utilizes medical care the most but is not covered by Medicare.
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) April 6, 2022
Concrete material benefits (2):
NEW: Congressional Democrats had a 12-point generic ballot lead over the GOP in December among recipients of the expanded child tax credit.
— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) April 6, 2022
Concrete material benefits, albeit of a different sort:
The DCCC blacklisted vendors working for progressive challengers, this is public and common knowledge. Somehow, a liberal pundit who’s covered Dems for many years can’t think of anything they could do to dissuade one of the party’s top vendors from helping Amazon crush workers https://t.co/k9amfFsAsO
— Andrew Perez (@andrewperezdc) April 2, 2022
“Texas Rejects 12% of Mail Ballots in First Vote Since Crackdown” [Bloomberg]. “According to updated data released Wednesday by the secretary of state, 24,636 mail-in ballots were not counted, for an overall rate of 12.4%. By comparison, less than 1% of mail-in ballots were rejected in the entire U.S. in the 2020 election, according to figures from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. In September, Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed a sweeping elections overhaul, adding a new requirement that voters provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the envelope used to return a ballot so it can be matched with their voter file.”
“Republican registrations surge in Pennsylvania in warning sign for Democrats” [Reuters]. “Republicans are registering formerly Democratic voters at four times the rate that Democrats are making the reverse conversion in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, a warning sign for Democrats as they try to keep control of the U.S. Congress. The Republican gains in Pennsylvania, home to a critical U.S. Senate race, follow a pattern seen in other states that could have competitive contests in November’s elections, as high levels of disapproval with President Joe Biden’s handling of his job are helping narrow the long-held advantage held by Democrats in numbers of registered voters….. While registered Democrats still outnumber registered Republicans by more than half a million in Pennsylvania – 4 million Democrats to 3.4 million Republicans as of March 28 – the long-held Democratic advantage continues to narrow and is on pace to be the smallest in a general election since 2005.”
“Treating Politics Like the NCAA Tournament” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. No brackets. Betting: “According to the PredictIt betting odds, there is an 84 percent chance that Republicans will capture the House in November, a 77 percent chance that the GOP wins a Senate majority, and a 72 percent chance that Republicans end up controlling both…. Obviously, no one has a fully functional crystal ball, but the collective conclusions of rank-and-file bettors currently match most election experts, reflecting the nature of midterm elections, the increasing nationalization of our elections, and turnout. Either a president’s fellow party members vote in reasonably high numbers or they don’t (usually it’s the latter). Either those in the opposition party turn out in strong numbers, or they don’t (they usually do). Either independents are favorably disposed towards the party of a sitting president or they aren’t (usually they are not)…. Politically speaking, though, polls are quite clear that voters remember—and resent—the insistence by the president and his administration that any inflationary pressures would be both minimal and transitory. For presidents, issue contamination can be a problem. That is, once voters get mad at you for one issue, it colors their assessment of you on nearly everything else.”
Our Famously Free Press
Well, at least nobody trusts Breitbart:
NEW Trust in Media 2022 Poll:
— YouGov America (@YouGovAmerica) April 5, 2022
“Hillary Clinton Receives $225,000 Speaking Fee For Telling Grandson Bedtime Story” [The Onion]. “She even stayed afterward to sign a copy of the book and take any questions Jasper might have.”
If you missed it, here last week’s post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.
Case count by United States regions:
In the aggregate, cases are down. However, cases in the Northeast are up (reinforced by wastewater rapid riser, and now hospitalization data (albeit from a low baseline).
“America Is Staring Down Its First So What? Wave” [The Atlantic]. “If the United States has been riding a COVID-19 ’coaster for the past two-plus years, New York and a flush of states in the Northeast have consistently been seated in the train’s front car. And right now, in those parts of the country, coronavirus cases are, once again, going up. The rest of America may soon follow, now that BA.2—the more annoying, faster-spreading sister of the original Omicron variant, BA.1—has overtaken its sibling to become the nation’s dominant version of SARS-CoV-2. Technologically and immunologically speaking, Americans should be well prepared to duel a new iteration of SARS-CoV-2, with two years of vaccines, testing, treatment, masking, ventilation, and distancing know-how in hand. Our immunity from BA.1 is also relatively fresh, and the weather’s rapidly warming. In theory, the nation could be poised to stem BA.2’s inbound tide, and make this variant’s cameo our least devastating to date. But theory, at this point, seems unlikely to translate into practice. As national concern for COVID withers, the country’s capacity to track the coronavirus is on a decided downswing. Community test sites are closing, and even the enthusiasm for at-home tests seems to be on a serious wane; even though Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a new deal on domestic pandemic funding, those patterns could stick. Testing and case reporting are now so “abysmal” that we’re losing sight of essential transmission trends, says Jessica Malaty Rivera, a research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. ‘It’s so bad that I could never look at the data and make any informed choice.’ Testing is how individuals, communities, and experts stay on top of where the virus is and whom it’s affecting; it’s also one of the main bases of the CDC’s new guidance on when to mask up again. Without it, the nation’s ability to forecast whatever wave might come around next is bound to be clouded. • Joe, Rochelle, Jeffrey, Tony: Good job. Jha had better be superb on TV.
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.
Still going up, both in the aggregate and in the North and South Systems. Too soon for a Fauci line? I’d give it a week.
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.
From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:
Every so often I think of doing away with this chart, and then there’s another flare-up. Hello, Santa Barbara County in California! Hello, Arizona! I remember using the metaphor of flying coals in a forest fire — many land, but sputter out; a few catch, and the first spreads. What I notice about this round of flare-up is that the “coals” are the size of multiple counties, not, as previously, single ones. FWIW! (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:
Continuing slow improvement as the map shifts from mostly red to mostly yellow (assuming the numbers aren’t jiggered). However, look at the Northeast, which remains stubbornly red.
Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
Again, I don’t like the sudden effloresence of yellow and orange. I don’t care that the baseline is low. 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.)
A new way for hospitals to game the data:
Covid hospitalizations are only counted in Massachusetts if the patient is given Dexamethasone, which is only recommended for those on oxygen. I feel the death & hospitalization criteria will extend across other states soon 😣 pic.twitter.com/J6ykG56Zrz
— MayasMommy2 #NotMeUs (@SheriD17536431) April 1, 2022
IM Doc writes: “I would guess with Omicron about 60% of the patients were on Dexamethasone – so no – not an adequate proxy” for hospitalization.
Just a reminder:
As with everything else, because the United States is not a serious country, our hospitalization data is bad. Here the baseilne is off:
Hospital trick: patients admitted with covid in 10-12 days become post-covid & no longer counted as hospitalized covid patients. ICU is full of post-covid patients that are here for 30, 40, 50 & more days. Not counted in the official stats.
— Dr. Natalia 💉😷 (@SolNataMD) January 24, 2022
Death rate (Our World in Data):
1,009,390. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. An unfortunate upward blip. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Even if the numbers are going down, they’re still democidally high.
Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 5 thousand to 166 thousand in the week ended April 2nd, back to levels not seen since 1968. Figures came well below market expectations of 200K, in another sign of a tight job market and robust labor demand. The Department of Labor revised the methodology used to seasonally adjust the national initial claims and continued claims to reflect a change in the estimation of the models.”
The Bezzle: “The Hottest NFT Marketplace is Mostly Users Selling to Themselves” [Bloomberg]. “A closer look at the LooksRare platform that has quickly become the leading NFT marketplace by trading volume shows that most of the activity is actually users selling tokens to themselves to help earn rewards in the form of more coins. The platform was launched in January by two anonymous co-founders — who go by Zodd and Guts — as an alternative to market leader OpenSea during the height of the NFT boom. The site had planned to add new features to lure NFT enthusiasts, according to a blog post at the time. Almost all of those initiatives have focused on the incentive program built around the Looks token awarded to active users of the platform. About $18 billion of the trading volume on the platform, or about 95% of the total activity, can be attributed to what’s often referred to as wash sales, according to data compiled by NFT tracker CryptoSlam. The transactions are seen as one of the many gray areas in crypto when it comes to regulation. In this case, the sales are done to win new tokens rather than to pump up nonfungible token prices to lure unsuspecting buyers. The marketplace benefits from the fees generated by each transaction.” • We just said it looks rare.
The Bezzle: “We could be spending an hour a day in the metaverse by 2026. But what will we be doing there?” [World Economic Forum]. Gartner propaganda: “The metaverse will have a ‘virtual economy’, including digital currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Gartner says. NFTs are unique digital tokens that can be used to buy, own and sell digital or physical items online, including music, art and property. Gartner also predicts that employers will be able to better engage and collaborate with their workers through ‘immersive workspaces’ in virtual offices. Businesses won’t need to create infrastructure for this, because it will be provided by the metaverse.” • I have not seen an example of an NFT being used to buy a physical object. Have I missed something? Also, every item of digital artwork I have seen in the NFT space has been ugly and stupid, college undergraduate UV poster-level ugly and stupid:
Enter The Great Egg Hunt. Caduceus, the world's first blockchain dedicated to metaverse development. Come join the journey 🚀
— Caduceus (@Caduceus_CMP) April 4, 2022
But perhaps that’s just me, the old codger. Readers?
The Bezzle: I’m sure Schultz thinks this will get those darn kids back onside:
For those of you praying that I was kidding, here's the video proof.
In an address today aimed at unionizing workers, multi-billionaire Howard Schultz revealed that Starbucks is going to get into the NFT business "sometime before the end of this calendar year" pic.twitter.com/Jb2rGjgHj4
— Jordan Zakarin (@jordanzakarin) April 5, 2022
Will the Starbucks NFTs taste burnt too?
The Bezzle: “Tesla-Backed Startup Made Cheap Power a Debt Burden for the World’s Poorest” [Bloomberg]. “Since solar pay-as-you-go, or paygo, was introduced almost a decade ago, it has been hailed as the answer to the elusive challenge of bringing electricity to hundreds of millions of people currently off the grid in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It began in the spirit of the microcredit model that Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Muhammad Yunus popularized in the 1980s.” Uh oh. More: “Because solar paygo is a low-margin, high-default business, and investors and commercial lenders often demand quick returns, companies end up on a funding treadmill. The former employees say the solar startups are pressured to grow at rates that can be achieved only through high prices, unreliable products, misleading sales pitches, and little or no due diligence. The consequence is “a social impact credit trap,” says Daniel Waldron, a solar specialist who analyzed the industry for the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, an organization of international development agencies, and now works at impact investment company Acumen…. In some places half the loans ended up unpaid, and those who continued paying struggled. During the pandemic, one study found, 43% of paygo customers had to cut back on food consumption to keep their service. Now some of Zola and D.light’s competitors are pursuing an even more vulnerable customer base: refugees in camps in Rwanda, Uganda, and elsewhere.”
Tech: Thank you — and I never, ever thought I would say this — Elon:
Do you want an edit button?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
One of the genuinely refreshing things about Twitter is that management and programmers hate their users. I don’t know whether Elon will change that, or whether its a good thing. Still, Twitter users have been screaming for an Edit button for years. Those dolts over at Facebook figured out how to do that. So why not?
Tech: Please stop:
Tech: “Japanese robot can peel bananas cleanly, most of the time” [Reuters]. • Kill it with fire anyhow.
Manufacturing: “Tesla to open Texas factory critical to growth ambitions” [Reuters]. “Tesla Inc. will on Thursday hold an event to mark the opening of its $1.1 billion factory in Texas, which will help ramp up production of electric vehicles and batteries critical to its growth ambitions…. Combined with a new Berlin factory, the Austin factory is expected to double the company’s annual production capacity to 2 million vehicles. Tesla said it would also expand production at factories in California and Shanghai. Tesla has said it expects 50% annual increases in deliveries over a multiyear period.”
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 47 Neutral (previous close: 48 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 7 at 1:08pm.
So here we are at the start of the petroleum era (and not guitars or café tables or nudes descending staircases, etc.):
— Stuart Davis (@StuartDavisArt) March 31, 2022
I think later on Stuart Davis turns into a sort of American Matisse (in the cut-outs phase).
This actually scans:
— Nathan W. Pyle (@nathanwpyle) April 7, 2022
FIFA to The Hague:
Qatar 2022 World Cup Mascot Is Cartoon Ghost Of Dead Migrant Worker pic.twitter.com/7KAodKqrBh
— Le Chou (@LeChouNews) April 1, 2022
Our Famously Free Press
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made”:
The mind of liberal media mavens. pic.twitter.com/svwYCk3dy6
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 5, 2022
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (not a mistake):
— The Intercept Union (@InterceptUnion) April 6, 2022
“The Herbalism Community Is at War With Itself Over Abuse Allegations” [Vice]. Quite a lead: “Many of the stories about the 76-year-old herbalist Susun Weed—positive and negative, frightening and tame—begin like a fairy tale, with a green new apprentice traveling through the thick woods of upstate New York and arriving on the doorstep of a small house on Weed’s property, called the Nettles Patch. What happens next—the screaming, the ritualistic killing of rabbits and goats, the intense psychological pressure —is not really under dispute. But what those stories mean—how best to interpret the things that happen on Weed’s land—is a subject that’s surging, plant-like, from under the surface and flowering once again into view.” More: “Herbalists, for a variety of very good reasons, resist any kind of centralized governing body, and point to a long history of mainstream institutions attempting to suppress or cast doubt on the legitimacy of their field. Many of Weed’s supporters see the criticism of her as an attack on herbalism itself as a free and nonconformist space, an attempt to homogenize or regulate them in a way they think will harm the field as a whole.” • I seem to recall simliar issues with the Zen “community.”
Holy moley, look at the household income data:
Important new survey from @KFF
"People of color, lower income adults, and those with chronic conditions are more vigilant about COVID-19 precautions like masking, and want others to continue them as well"https://t.co/Q3nZstX3HY
— Prof. Gavin Yamey MD MPH (@GYamey) April 6, 2022
“COVID-19 health workers suffer combat-type moral trauma” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. n=2099. “A Duke University study shows that, amid COVID-19, US healthcare workers (HCWs) had similar rates of potential moral injury (PMI)—a type of trauma-induced wound to the psyche—as military combat veterans…. [L]ead author Jason Nieuwsma, PhD, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Duke researcher, said in a Duke Health press release. ‘While ‘burnout’ is often used to describe the effects of ongoing stress in the workplace, moral injury is used to describe the damage done to the conscience or identity of people who might witness, cause, or fail to prevent acts that go against their own moral standards,’ he said. ‘For example, with health care workers, this might entail them making choices or being part of situations that stray from their genuine commitment to healing.'” • One would expect the same to be happening with “public health” experts at CDC, but it isn’t. One can only wonder why.
News of the Wired
“The Leak” (podcast) [The West Wing Thing]. • A good take on Will Smith v. Chris Rock, if that is still a thing.
Only in Ancient Rome would going from L to XL be down a size
— Classical Studies Memɘs for Hellenistic Teens (@CSMFHT) April 7, 2022
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