2:00PM Water Cooler 5/06/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

The end of Warbler Week Two at Naked Capitalism. From Luzerne, Michigan. A duet! Next week, the Hermit Thrush (hat tip Noone from Nowheresville).

* * *

Politics

“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

Biden Adminstration

“Biden isn’t serious about forgiving student debt. ‘Means-testing’ is a con” [David Sirota and Andrew Perez, Guardian]. “In trial-ballooning the college debt relief proposal, the president is boosting the media-manufactured fiction that real, universal college debt relief would mostly help rich Ivy League kids – even though data from the Roosevelt Institute conclusively proves that canceling student debt ‘would provide more benefits to those with fewer economic resources and could play a critical role in addressing the racial wealth gap and building the Black middle class.’ As the report points out: ‘People from wealthy backgrounds (and their parents) rarely use student loans to pay for college.’ But setting aside how the media-driven discourse omits those inconvenient facts, what’s noteworthy here is the underlying principle. This latest discussion of means-testing follows Biden and congressional Democrats pushing to substantially limit eligibility for Covid-19 survival checks and the expanded child tax credit. Taken together, it suggests that Democrats’ zeal for means-testing is no anomaly – it is a deeply held ideology that is both dangerous for the party’s electoral prospects and for the country’s fraying social contract. The superficial appeal of means-testing is obvious: it promises to prevent giving even more public money to rich people who don’t need it. But in practice, means-testing is a way to take simple universal programs and make them complicated and inaccessible. Calculating exact income levels and then proving them for eligibility means reams of red tape for both the potential beneficiary and a government bureaucracy that must be created to process that paperwork.” • As I’ve been saying for some years now…

2022

* * *

“Biden comes out fighting in pre-election reboot” [CNN]. Might as well. “Rooting a midterm election campaign on the idea that all Republicans share Trump’s extremist, anti-democratic tendencies is a risk. Such a strategy failed for Democrats last year, when Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin captured the governor’s mansion. The Republican pioneered a campaign targeting rising prices and concern among parents over education after a year of pandemic lockdowns and conservative complaints about how schools dealt with race and transgender issues. For all his visibility, Trump isn’t on the ballot this year and voters are squarely focused on the economy. But given Democrats’ uphill midterm battle, a White House message that targets MAGA-world extremism and seeks to capitalize on threats to abortion rights may be Biden’s only bet.” • Heaven forfend Democrats should deliver on policy. Oh, and this little detail: “[Karine] Jean-Pierre, currently Psaki’s deputy, will be the first Black and out LGBTQ person [be White House press secretary]. Jean-Pierre’s family includes her partner, CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter.” One big happy!

PA: “Fetterman climbs past 50 percent in Pennsylvania primary: poll” [The Hill]. “Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has surged to majority support in the Democratic Senate primary, according to a new Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday. The poll found Fetterman with 53 percent support among the field, far ahead of Rep. Conor Lamb (D) at 14 percent. Fetterman is leading with all factions of the party, but 51 percent said they could still change their mind on a candidate before voting. Lamb is struggling to overcome Fetterman’s wide name recognition, as 39 percent say they don’t know enough about Lamb to have an opinion on him compared to 21 believing the same about Fetterman. Fetterman also has a 67 percent favorability rating compared to Lamb’s 46 percent rating. In April, Fetterman had 41 percent support, while Lamb was at 17 percent.” • And:

It’s hard to blow a 53 – 14 = 39 point lead in 11 days (assuming the poll is accurate).

PA: Insta, but not, really:

Fetterman really makes photos from the places where he campaigns works for him. (It’s like Chris Arnade, though the photos aren’t nearly as good.)

2024

“A Biden-Trump rematch is increasingly likely. But neither side wants to move first.” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have both told aides and confidants that they’re more likely to run for the White House next cycle — and confident in their chances of winning — if the other runs, too. But as each camp gears up for a rematch of the bitterly contested 2020 contest, there remains a small hiccup: Neither is inclined to take the plunge first. It’s a game of political chicken that — as described by more than a half dozen advisers to the two men — has largely frozen the field among Democrats and Republicans alike, raising questions about the future health of two parties being led by a pair of candidates who, by that Election Day, would have long ago celebrated their 75th birthdays. The current president has had repeated conversations with allies that he would need to run again to prevent Trump from reclaiming the Oval Office. Like he did in 2020, Biden views Trump as an existential threat to American democracy. And like he did in 2020, Biden thinks he’s the only one who can beat him. He plans to more aggressively target Trump as the midterm season approaches — both as a means of turning around his party’s standing for the midterms but also to set up a contrast for the future. ‘This MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that’s existed in recent American history,’ Biden said on Wednesday.”

Trump could run on his record. The chart shows thatTrump’s economic policy on recovery was far superior to Obamas, and didn’t screw the working class nearly so hard:

Trump could, if he were so inclined, also run on (1) getting out of TPP, (2) Operation Warp Speed, (3) not getting into a war with Russia (which Clinton was clearly planning to do), and (4) abolishing ObamaCare’s mandate (which saved me, at least, over $600 bucks, coincidentallly the same amount Joe Biden owes me).

“A Tuesday To Remember for Political Junkies” [Cook Political Report]. “To be sure, a third or more of Republicans are and will remain loyal to Trump. They’d walk on hot coals for him. But there are about as many who like much of what Trump has said or done, but see his act as wearing a bit thin. They are looking for a less flawed vehicle for substantially the same message. Finally, one or more Republican contenders will plant a flag representing a very different GOP than Trump’s, curious to see just how many will gather around it. Over the years it has been frequently useful to think about nomination contests in terms of lanes, like in track or swimming competitions, in which similarly situated or positioned candidates compete with one another before going on to face fundamentally different ones. Obviously there will be a Trump/MAGA lane, which may well include Trump himself. Of course there would likely be a less pugilistic, MAGA-Lite lane that could include former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at least two governors—Greg Abbott of Texas and Kristi Noem of South Dakota—as well as former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Two more preliminary heats might take place in the “Un-Trump Lane,” comprising candidates who demonstrate clear stylistic differences with the former president, even if they agree on policy, and a “Never Trump Lane,” which would be diametrically opposed on nearly every measure. Who fits into which category is highly debatable, but you may see names here like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire; Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rick Scott of Florida, and Tim Scott of South Carolina; Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; and former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas. And given the bizarre happenings of the last few years, who is to say that this couldn’t take yet another unexpected turn?”

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!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“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.

* * *

Roe (1). A handy timeline:

Complete debacle not to codify Roe, across the board, from electeds through NGOs through the press. Nobody, of course, will be held accountable, except fundraisers for not raising enough money.

Roe (2):

Even now, the Democrat leadership is completely unserious. It’s breathtaking, even to me.

Roe (3):

“Bad messsaging” is a standard answer for Democrat ills, and no, there are deeper problems. Nevertheless, a “take no prisoners’ style would be a pleasurable change from the mush they feed us today.

“What nudge theory got wrong” [Financial Times]. “[P]onder an advertising campaign from 1971 titled “Crying Indian”. This powerful TV commercial depicts a Native American man paddling down a river that is increasingly laden with trash. “Some people have a deep, abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country,” says a voiceover. “And some people don’t. People start pollution. People can stop it.” The Native American man turns to the camera, a single tear rolling down his cheek. But the message was not what it seemed (and not just because the actor’s parents were in fact Italian): it was funded by some of the leading companies in food and drink packaging. The advert placed responsibility squarely on the shoulders of individuals making selfish choices. It wasn’t governments who didn’t provide bins, or manufacturers who made unrecyclable products. No, the problem was you…. If, however, the real problem is not individual but systemic, then nudges are at best limited, and at worst, a harmful diversion. Historians such as Finis Dunaway now argue that the Crying Indian campaign was a deliberate attempt by corporate interests to change the subject. Is behavioural public policy, accidentally or deliberately, a similar distraction? A look at climate change policy suggests it might be. Behavioural science is all too good at producing perfect icing for the policy cake; practitioners must never forget the cake itself.” • Unlike Marie Antoinette….

Republican Funhouse

“Money, politics and patient safety: Abbott donors on Texas Medical Board” [KXAN]. “Gov. Greg Abbott tapped top-dollar donors to sit on the Texas Medical Board. He also appointed members — tasked with representing the consumer — who come from telecom, business, real estate and energy sectors, with no obvious patient advocacy or medical experience, a KXAN investigation revealed. The TMB’s mission is to ‘protect and enhance the public’s health, safety and welfare’ but some advocates worry that comes with a political price tag. ‘The question isn’t: ‘Is this someone who donated a bunch of money to a political campaign? Is this someone who checks a political box?,” said Ware Wendell, the executive director of the non-partisan organization Texas Watch, which advocates for patient safety. ‘The question should be: ‘Is this someone who’s going to make sure that patients are protected?'” • Patients will be protected as much as the telecom, business, real estate and energy sectors think they need to be. Exactly as at the Federal level.

Obama Legacy

“Transcript: Barack Obama Speech on Technology and Democracy” [Tech Policy Press]. “Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen what it looks like when a society loses the ability to distinguish truth from fiction. Mike McFaul and I were talking backstage, and my first time in Moscow as president, we gathered with all these civic activists. Putin at that time had receded from the foreground, and you had all these folks who are working to make Russia better. And we were reminiscing and thinking about that moment of possibility and what might have happened to him.” • This McFaul? The one normalizing fascism?

Good data, though. I bet SS Division Galicia didn’t have a staff psychologist. (I confess I skimmed the transcript of Obama’s blather hoping to see what concrete policies it was justifying — for example, confiscating money from independent journalists — but it was all so mushy and sentimental I couldn’t find anything. Maybe a reader will do better than I did.)

Trump Legacy

“Trump set the stage for Roe’s demise. For now, he doesn’t wanna talk about it.” [Politico]. “It should be Donald Trump’s crowning achievement, one that fulfilled the deepest wish many conservatives have held for generations. Three of the Supreme Court justices appointed by the former president signed onto the initial draft opinion that appears to signal the end of the landmark abortions right case, Roe v. Wade. But at a moment of seeming triumph, the normally braggadocious Trump has been subdued. The former president, never one to shy away from taking credit for accomplishments, real or imagined, has yet to crow about the majority draft opinion. And when asked about it in interviews, he steered clear of anything resembling a victory lap. Instead, he expressed displeasure that the draft leaked and sidestepped weighing in on the issue of abortion rights. On Wednesday night at Mar-a-Lago, he told POLITICO he was waiting to see ‘finality’ in the case. ‘Nobody knows what exactly it represents, if that’s going to be it,’ Trump said of the draft opinion. ‘I think the one thing that really is so horrible is the leaking… for the court and for the country.'” • Hmm.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What happens when the public loses faith in the Supreme Court?” [Vox]. “Political scientists who study the sources of Court legitimacy generally find that it stems from the perception that the Court is not a political body. The idea that justices are interpreting the law to the best of their abilities, rather than simply finding a justification for imposing their political preferences, is fundamental to the public’s faith in the institution as a whole. For decades, this belief has been fairly widespread in the American public, allowing the Court to weather some very controversial rulings. In 2000’s Bush v. Gore, for example, the Court divided along transparently partisan lines to elevate George W. Bush to the presidency, infuriating pretty much the entire Democratic Party. But the damage was not permanent: A 2007 study found that ‘the Court seems as widely trusted today as it was a decade ago,’ with no significant divisions by partisan affiliation. The single best predictor of faith in the Court was not party, but an individual’s ideological commitment to the rule of law.” • There’s a straight line from Scalia writing Bush v. Gore to select a President who would choose Justices Scalia found ideologically compatible, to the Court as currently composed. (Of course, gutless Democrat played their part.) It’s been clear that the Court was “poltical” since election 2000, since that was Scalia’s goal. Personally, I’d roll back all Court decisions until the point where the first post-Scalia judge took the bench, as (I know this metaphor is wrong, legally) “fruit of the poisonous tree” of Bush v. Gore. For the rest of it, Republicans took the Supreme Court seriously, Democrats didn’t — except for some identity politics foo-fraw — and here we are.

An election official punches out. Forever:

The Republicans have a monopoly of violence. Why?

“Crypto becomes a political player” [Axios]. “Cryptocurrency is showing its growing power in national politics, with its own billionaires tilting the balance in key midterm contests — and operatives in both major parties rushing to implement the underlying technologies to boost their candidates and campaigns…. Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) bested primary challenger Nina Turner on Tuesday with the backing of Protect Our Future. The deep-pocketed super PAC is financed by Sam Bankman-Fried, co-CEO of crypto exchange FTX. FTX’s other co-CEO, Ryan Salame, is single-handedly funding another super PAC, American Dream Federal Action. It backed Indiana Republican Erin Houchin, a former state senator who also won a House primary on Tuesday.” • Well, it’s not like the crypto bros are the only fraudsters out there, so I guess we should just… accept it.

#COVID19

Lambert here: I am but a humble tape-watcher, but if some trusting, non-realist soul tells you that “Covid is over,” you can tell them that cases are up, transmission is up, test positivity is up, hospitalization is up, rapid riser counties are up, and wastewater is up, too. And this is all from data designed to support the narrative that “Covid is over,” and gamed within an inch of its life. So, if signals like that are flashing red, consider what the real signal must be like. (Note also this is all with BA.2 only, and with what the establishment considers an “immune wall” made from vaccination and prior infection. Since semper aliquid novi Africam adferre, and we’ve let ‘er rip at the airports…. Well, I just hope we get lucky with BA.4 and BA.5. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

Burn!

* * *

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness 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:

Looks like the train is rolling, now. Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out. Also remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. One source said they though cases might be undercounted by a factor of six. Gottlieb thinks we only pick up one in seven or eight. The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. The blue “Biden Line” shows what the case count would be if it were 61,000 * 6 = 366,000, i.e. not gamed. (I changed the Biden Line from dotted to solid because the dotted line was too hard to draw properly in my crude tool.)

Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

Worth noting that cases have nearly doubled in four weeks.

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.

NC readers aren’t the only ones who know the CDC’s “community level” metric is a PR-driven crock of sh*t:

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

“Walgreens reaches $683 mln opioid settlement with Florida” [Reuters]. “Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA.O) said on Thursday it has reached a $683 million settlement with Florida to resolve claims that the pharmacy chain exacerbated an opioid epidemic in the state. The settlement includes $620 million to be paid to Florida over 18 years, plus $63 million for legal fees. Florida is the first state to settle its opioid claims against major pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS Health Corp (CVS.N), collecting more than $1.1 billion from the two companies. The settlement ends a trial that began on April 11, after Walgreens decided not to join a combined $878 million settlement with four other healthcare companies, including CVS. Walgreens did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the settlement.” • Just to say that while I appreciate the value of Walgreen’s tracker, it’s still a public relations effort.

MWRA wastewater data:

Both North and South MWRA water systems are now up. Hat tip, readers for calling this.

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 Biobot Analytics:

Northeast unflattened, and — hat tip to readers for pointing to this — it looks like past aggregation was adjusted up. But that drop in the West looks like an adjustment, too. Do we have any readers who track non-biobot wastewater in the West?

Cases lag wastewater data.

“We’re Flushing Some of Our Best COVID Data Down the Toilet” [Slate]. “According to the CDC, 80 percent of households in the United States have their wastewater go to a municipal treatment plant, which it can reach in a matter of hours. Testing wastewater can therefore track the virus in almost real time. Infected people often start shedding virus days before they have any symptoms, if they develop symptoms at all. Collected wastewater can carry COVID before the person who shed it even knows they are sick. That means that wastewater testing can serve as a very effective early warning system, said Freedman, helping to alert public health officials of future surges or ascendant variants. That early shedding is “the biological characteristic of COVID [that] actually makes wastewater testing effectively a good way of solving how the virus evolves and how the virus spreads in the community,” he said. Another advantage to wastewater testing is that it’s passive, said Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health who writes the newsletter Your Local Epidemiologist. ‘You’re captured irrespective of your testing behavior,’ she said. With wastewater testing, said Jetelina, as long as you flush your toilet, your data is picked up. But like any technology, wastewater testing has its limitations. Depending on the wastewater collection method, samples can be diluted by different amounts by stormwater, or street runoff. That makes it difficult to judge what different virus concentrations in wastewater really mean, though following trends is still useful. Scientists have also been surprised to find variants in wastewater that have never been found in clinical testing samples, said [Shangxin Yang, the assistant medical director of the clinical microbiology laboratory at the University of California Los Angeles], leaving some to suspect that the virus data comes from infected animals in the area. Wastewater also can’t tell scientists anything about the potential severity of an upcoming surge, whether a new variant is particularly harsh or mild, only that people are becoming infected, said Yang.” • Good, measured article well-worth a read.

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

California and Washington better. Everywhere else status quo. It occurs to me that one sign that all is not well is the refusal of this map to “clear.” We are supposed to get a rapid rise, followed by a fall. But we’re not. In the main, red stays red. (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.) It would be nice if the falling wastewater measures in California presaged a drop in cases. (OTOH, the Biobot data is only as good as the non-representative sample it uses, so…).

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red. Now California is red as well. The Upper Midwest is moving that way, too. (The Unorganized Territories in Maine are back to red, good job.)

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

The “orangization” of New England is quite striking. The baseline is getting higher, too. (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.)

“5th Wave? New York COVID Hospitalizations Top 2,000, Nearly Tripling in a Month” {NBC New York]. “New York COVID-19 hospitalizations topped 2,000 for the first time since late February on Tuesday, rising nearly three-fold in just a month as highly contagious subvariants of omicron trigger pleas for renewed caution from officials locally and nationally. The upward trend continued Wednesday. As of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s latest update, 2,119 New Yorkers were hospitalized with COVID across the state’s 10 regions, a 153% increase since April 3 alone though still well below the nearly 13,000 admitted during the variant’s January surge peak…. No new COVID protocol will be implemented (or reimplemented) at this point in the city, but should the alert level reach high — the highest of the three laid out by health officials — an indoor face mask mandate for all people regardless of vaccination could return.” • And speaking of New York:

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,023,908 1,023,513. Now even the death rate is up. By a lot. Did CDC discover a bunch of death certificates stuffed in a drawer? I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Broadly down. (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The US unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.6 percent in April of 2022, remaining the lowest since February 2020 and compared with market expectations of 3.5 percent. The number of unemployed people declined by 11 thousand to 5.941 million, while employment levels fell by 353 thousand to 158.105 million. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate fell to a 3-month low of 62.2 percent in April, from 62.4 percent in March.” • I wonder how many non-participants have Long Covid.

Employment Situation: “United States Non Farm Payrolls” [Trading Economics]. “The US economy added 428K jobs in April of 2022, the same as a downwardly revised 428K in March and above forecasts of 391K. It marks a 12th straight month of job gains above 400K but easing from a February gain of 714K amid an increasingly tight labor market. Employment increased across all sectors, with the largest gains occurring in leisure and hospitality (78K), namely food services and drinking places (44K) and accommodation (22K); manufacturing (55K), mainly durable goods (31K); and transportation and warehousing (52K). Still, that leaves the economy down by 1.2 million from its pre-pandemic level….”

Employment Situation: “United States Challenger Job Cuts” [Trading Economics]. “US-based companies announced plans to cut 24,286 jobs from their payrolls in April of 2022, the most since May last year, and a 14% increase from the 21,387 announced in March. It is the first time this year job cuts were higher than the corresponding month a year earlier. Entertainment/Leisure led all industries with 3,675 job cuts, followed by the Services sector (3,453), Financial companies (2,772) and Retailers (2,213). So far this year, employers announced plans to cut 79,982 job cuts, the lowest recorded January-April total on record.”

* * *

Retail: “How some big grocery chains help ensure that food deserts stay barren” [The Counter]. “Restrictive covenants are provisions written into deeds and lease agreements that govern how a piece of property can or cannot be used, sometimes indefinitely. Grocery chains have been using them at least since the 1950s as a way to make sure that if they’ve built out a large and costly brick-and-mortar supermarket—a store’s footprint can sprawl for 5,000 square feet or much more—no other supermarket will threaten its profits. As Kang wrote in a paper that she recently delivered at a Yale Law School grocery conference, “It’s self-evident from these restrictions that [grocery companies’] tactic is solely and wholly intended to hinder competition.’ A restrictive covenant might work like this: Stop & Shop, which is owned by Dutch conglomerate Ahold Delhaize, builds a supermarket in a community that needs it. Great news! However, if Stop & Shop eventually decides it no longer wants to keep this store open, it might lease the space to another retailer. Only, it can add a clause to the lease that disallows the new retailer from opening another grocery store in the space—or even a bodega, a farm stand, or any kind of food vendor.”

Shipping: “Large truckload carriers say recent downturn not hurting them” [Freight Waves]. “While a host of unfavorable freight data points appeared by the end of the first quarter, with trend lines declining further to start the second quarter, many executives at the nation’s largest trucking companies are presenting a much rosier outlook than the data suggests. During the first-quarter earnings season, management teams from publicly traded carriers acknowledged softness in the spot truckload market but said the loosening in capacity won’t likely hurt them. The growing consensus in the industry is that the little guy is likely in store for pain if spot TL fundamentals have reset lower for the near term. On the other side, well-capitalized, large operators with the majority of their business tied to annual contracts will see a much more manageable environment if the market moderates further.” • ‘Twas ever thus.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 28 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 6 at 1:38 PM EDT.

The Gallery

Mr. Market has a sad:

Class Warfare

What we like to see (1):

What we like to see (2):

Personally, I think Smalls looks rather distinguished in his “Eat the Rich” ensemble (really!).

News of the Wired

“How You Really Use Mathematics To Define Paper Size” [Street Science]. “Consider an A0 sheet of paper. It is rectangular with dimensions of 841 mm x 1189 mm. If you fold it in half along its longer side, each folded side would represent one A1 sheet each. If you fold the two A1 sheets along their respective longer sides, you will end up with four A2 sheets. Repeating the process would yield eight A3 sheets, sixteen A4 sheets, thirty-two A5 sheets, sixty-four A6 sheets, 128 A7 sheets, and 256 A8 sheets respectively each time around.” • This is the result. I skipped the math, which involves √2.

“7 Ayurvedic remedies experts say can ease your cold, flu and Covid symptoms – from guduchi and ginger to tulsi and triphala” [South China Morning Post]. • W-e-l-l-l-l…..

* * *

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 MA:

MA writes: “I was watering the hibiscus when I noticed a tiny nest with a single egg a couple of days ago.
Then, each morning for the last two days, we discover a new egg, apparently added overnight! Today there are three! This is in a pot with the hibiscus (rosa sinensis), plus some green onion (planted by utilitarian mother-in-law when I wasn’t looking), thyme, violets and Greek oregano. It’s a nice little jungle. The birds are sparrow-size, both brown, but one (probably the male) is more intense brown with a white collar, if I remember correctly. They were flittering around for a few days, and then disappeared and we haven’t seen them for a few days – but apparently they come at night to lay an egg! Lovely gift to our household. This is on a balcony in SF Bay area.”

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NOTE ON PAYPAL: As some readers may know, PayPal whacked Consortium News’s account, for no justification that I can see. It’s to be hoped that Consortium News has its account completely restored, and that NC doesn’t come under the same ban hammer. In the meantime, until I/we can come up with an alternative, I must continue to rely on PayPal (and rely I do). I will be cleaning out the account daily, and PayPal does give a heads-up, so your risk is minimal. Please carry on as before, or, if you feel you must, write me and I will send you directions for sending a check. Please put “PayPal” in the subject line. Thank you for your support! It is much appreciated, and helps me with responsibilities. –lambert

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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.

90 comments

  1. Jen

    Cook on the 2024 race: “And given the bizarre happenings of the last few years, who is to say that this couldn’t take yet another unexpected turn?”

    Like Tulsi Gabbard running for the republican nomination.

    Reply
    1. michael Ismoe

      An election between two 80 year old geezers could hardly be described as “a race.” More likely, it’s an oatmeal-eating contest.

      Reply
  2. Carolinian

    Re Biden versus Trump–Trump is going to do what he is going to do but letting Biden run again would be another huuuuge mistake by the Dems in my not too daring prediction. Therefore he must be running unless fate intervenes.

    Reply
    1. GC54

      Doesn’t seem random to me. I just got

      “Yesterday, I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a free speech on YouTube program for Muslims who open a PC cafe that operates for 15 weeks in a doomsday bunker.”

      She’s ahead of the (downward) curve.

      Reply
      1. Guild Navigator

        Oddly Specific Kamala Harris Policy Generator by @ne0liberal

        “Yesterday, I announced that, as president, I’ll establish a public transit program for senior citizens who open an Arby’s that operates for 9 years in an excavation site.”

        I was just thinking of making use of an Arby’s coupon I had on my phone tomorrow while thinking of visiting some areas known for their archeological significance in the Moundsville, WV area.

        Coinkydink?

        I know it is not good food but nostalgia these days provides psychic comfort unavailable by other means without doing excessive harm, all this talk of 10K degree gamma-ray suntans and bird flu has my brain absolutely frozen (plus still recovering from COVID – today is a week since I first tested positive with a home test, later confirmed with a second test from a different manufacturer).

        Reply
    2. John

      Biden said he would forgive some student debt. Biden has the power to forgive student debt. Biden has not forgiven any student debt. Ergo, Biden has no intention of forgiving student debt. … Unless … unless … there is an advantage to him. That’s politics.

      Reply
  3. jr

    The Word on the Streets of Brooklyn:

    Took a quick walk to my supermarket yesterday. Lots of people on the street, in restaurants, and at the sidewalk cafes. Low numbers of masks in evidence. In the store, the staff wore them, often haphazardly, but only a few of the customers did. I got at least one sour look, for my mask I believe. Good times.

    Reply
  4. hemeantwell

    The idea of an Azov psychologist is getting into oxymoron territory. You certainly would have to stay away from any tampering with the system of self-elevating identifications and other-denigrating projections that are part of life on planet Azov. Hitler talked with the SS about having to overcome guilt feelings over exterminist policies, he could serve as her Freud.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Maybe she would analyze whether their love of the Fuehrer was the result of daddy issues.

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      Surely the boys and girls at our own APA will be glad to tell us that interrogation specialists are psychologists. As they do.

      Reply
  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Holy crapola.

    That tweet about the psychologist of the Azov Battalion was lifted, translated almost word for word (no use of the word “antiterrorist”), and published, with the photo, on page 8 of today’s paper edition of La Stampa. La Stampa refrains from using the obsequious and obscene “Glory to the Heroes” tag. I guess that they retain some residue of slimy morals.

    Observations, fellow groundlings:
    –Will these mainstream media outlets be forced to fire the people who produced and approved such crap?
    –Do these mainstream media outlets truly think that we are that stupid?
    (As noted in an essay in yesterday’s Fatto Quotidiano in which Daniela Ranieri reminds us that the mainstream media are mixing elogies to democracy with blabber about neonazi Avov soldiers sacrificing themselves behind those human shields who just happened to end up in an enormous steel mill…)
    –Does a psychologist for a neonazi organization conduct sensitivity training? Group therapy for “wounded warriors”? Or was she there so that the Glorious Warriors wouldn’t be triggered by things like the lampshades made of human skin that their real-nazi forbears engaged in as handicrafts?
    –Is there any way that we as readers can figure out how much Ukrainian propaganda is being vacuumed up and vomited out by media workers in the U S of A and EU?

    Reply
    1. Safety First

      In order:

      – No, no-one will be fired. Some may possibly be promoted, however.
      – Yes, yes they do. Always have, in fact.
      – I imagine it’s the same as with any military psychologist, just in this case assigned to a specific unit. Sort of like their counselor Troi, but without the pajamas or the push-up-bra-dress, err, maybe. Remember, Ukraine was reforming its army to a NATO standard, hence they would have the same or similar specialist roles as, say, the US Army.
      – Simple – all of it. Every last bit. Well – except perhaps for the really stupid bits like when they tried to post screenshots from Arma III (a getting-long-in-the-tooth video game) as proof they’d shot something down.

      Look, this is no different in the slightest from how in the 1980’s Bin Laden and the Mujaheddeen were the “good guys”, down to glowing NY Times articles (“he builds roads! and fights communism!”) and big-budget Hollywood flicks (Rambo III, which just slams you in the face with propaganda starting about five minutes in).

      Possible future blowback? Long-term consequences? Not even the slightest pretense at having the moral high ground? Tcha! Tcha, I say!..

      Reply
    2. Rodeo Clownfish

      Was she active in interrogations? That’s one role the U.S. military has for the profession. The article on that topic from this morning Links was quite disturbing…

      Reply
  6. JohnA

    Re This McFaul? The one normalizing fascism?

    How did this guy ever become an ambassador? He has not even got a blood cell of diplomacy in his body, let alone a bone. Pathetic individual, but, by singing from the right hymn sheet, has a sinecure in Stanford and a huge house according to himself.

    Reply
    1. Safety First

      Ask, and ye shall receive, from the Wiki:

      “In 1994, McFaul and one-time close friend and colleague Sergey Markov helped found the Moscow Carnegie Center…Two years later, Alexander Korzhakov, a confidante of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, invited McFaul to the Kremlin during the 1996 Russian presidential election, because of McFaul’s research on electoral politics…In 2009, McFaul joined the Barack Obama administration as a senior adviser in Washington, D.C., where he was the architect of the so-called “Russian reset” policy…[In 2011] McFaul became the first non-career diplomat to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia.”

      So – a Russia-Yeltsin guy under Clinton (remember, the 1996 election was the one the US helped rig), then a Russia-anti-Putin guy under Obama, then Obama’s ambassador. The line through those particular dots are as straight as an arrow.

      And note – when he became ambassador, his first act upon arriving in Moscow was to summon (!!) Russia’s “liberal opposition” (the one that always gets ~5% popular support) to the US embassy. Before meeting with anyone from the government, that is. He has always, ALWAYS the regime-change, let’s go back to the Yeltsin era guy, and obviously he was right there in the thick of things when Obama had decided to do the Ukraine coup in the first place.

      My only surprise is that Biden didn’t actually give him a White House job, though I guess he’s got a very plush post at Stanford, so maybe he just didn’t want to give that up.

      Reply
  7. fresno dan

    “Trump set the stage for Roe’s demise. For now, he doesn’t wanna talk about it.” [Politico]. “It should be Donald Trump’s crowning achievement, one that fulfilled the deepest wish many conservatives have held for generations. Three of the Supreme Court justices appointed by the former president signed onto the initial draft opinion that appears to signal the end of the landmark abortions right case, Roe v. Wade. But at a moment of seeming triumph, the normally braggadocious Trump has been subdued.

    See clip at 38 seconds
    https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/trump-in-1999-i-am-very-pro-choice-480297539914
    Can it be that even Trump has a real, deep view on abortion, and it is not the position that is the most advantagious to ingratiate himself to his supporters, and that he never expected Roe to be actually overturned? hmmmm…nah.
    people can change their mind. When one is seeking a presidential nomination, people can change their mind alot…

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Everyone likes to think Trump is an idiot, but he shows surprisingly good recognition of the stupidity of others if not himself. I never thought he cared about abortion, probably thought it was good to have around. He promised to go there, and wasn’t going to rock that boat. I think he is surprised they are stupid enough to abolish the status quo and in a way that allows for a whole lot of destruction that will not be popular. He can’t say don’t be idiots, but he has to know it doesn’t do his future plans any good.

      Reply
      1. Keith Howard

        I seem to remember that years ago Karl Rove said that overturning Roe v. Wade would be a disaster for the R party. His reasoning: well-off suburban moms in bright red places count on being able to erase their daughters’ (and maybe sons’) unfortunate situation with minimum fuss. It was probably long enough ago that the medical (otc pills) method was not yet widely available. But the contortions at least some red state legislatures are likely to perform in the wake of the expected Scotus decision are going to be extremely disruptive. For my own part, I hope this unsurprising Scotus action will turn out to be a major detonator. There are a lot of other explosive social issues lying around just waiting to be touched off, and both contemptible Parties deserve to be blown to bits.

        Reply
        1. Michael Ismoe

          well-off suburban moms in bright red places count on being able to erase their daughters’ (and maybe sons’) unfortunate situation with minimum fuss.

          That’s the genius of the decision. “well-off suburban moms” will just send the kid to New Jersey for the weekend. “Poor, Black mothers of five” will have another mouth to feed.

          I suspect zero blowback. Just Dem outrage.

          Reply
            1. Hepativore

              The PMC suburbanites can easily afford to take their daughter to a nice vacation to a foreign country for a bit, then.

              I honestly do not understand why anti-abortion stances are so popular among the political right, as they cannot all be religiously-motivated. After all, if the Republican Party prides itself on its fiscal conservatism, would not forcing more people to take care of children they cannot afford lead more people to be on welfare, which they also hate? The foster care system is already overflowing as well.

              As an aside, the Democratic Party is fully aware that they are blowing it with Biden on this issue among many others, but they do not care. After Pelosi’s resounding support of a anti-abortion party members, it is obvious now that the DNC is perfectly content to be controlled opposition kayfabe. It matters little to their party leadership if they commit political suicide by acting in accordance with the wishes of their donors as they are rewarded with personal enrichment in the process.

              Reply
      2. fresno dan

        Pat
        I agree with you. I think Trump’s druthers is like in the video – he is pro choice if there are absolutely no drawbacks to himself, but he will do whatever it takes to get elected (how different is he from any other politician???)
        But Trump can’t do nuance – Trump understands a majority is prochoice, but can you imagine Trump being able to say safe, legal, and rare? And on this issue, Trump’s contradictions aren’t gonna be ignored by his base.

        Reply
    2. FreeMarketApologist

      Because if Roe were overturned he (though probably not at his age), or his male offspring would have one less option in their arsenal for dealing with women than they previously had?

      Reply
    3. Michaelmas

      Can it be that even Trump has a real, deep view on abortion, and it is not the position that is the most advantagious to ingratiate himself to his supporters?

      I seriously doubt it. Somewhere in my files I’ve an old one-page ad from the NYT print edition around 2008-9 which a bunch of celebrities paid for to say ‘we have to do something about climate change right now,’ and among them are Donald Trump and Ivanka. Later, of course, he said the exact opposite

      And that’s how Trump has always rolled. Talk to anybody who’s lived in New York and is familiar with Trump over the decades, and their basic assumption is that he’ll say anything that gets him media notice at the moment.

      Reply
    4. TBellT

      Can it be that even Trump has a real, deep view on abortion, and it is not the position that is the most advantagious to ingratiate himself to his supporters, and that he never expected Roe to be actually overturned?

      Does it matter if it actually got overturned? Either he had a false conception of the own judges he was nominating or he knew he was putting Roe at risk and plunged forward to make the Federalist Society happy. Neither paints him a good light.

      It’s also good to remember how Trump got played on ACB. He said he would send another 2k in checks, he could have used ACB as trading token with McConnell and Senate R’s to get it done. He rolled over and then McConnell didn’t even help him overturn the election results. For the “King of Deals” he sure got played. Unless you know…nominating ACB was a goal he shared with McConnell.

      Reply
      1. John

        Trump does and says what benefits him at the moment. If the opposite action or words are more advantageous at a later date, he will reverse himself. His words and actions are and always have been transactions leading to his perceived benefit to him.

        Reply
        1. TBellT

          And sometimes he gets it wrong. Getting another round of checks from McConnel might have saved his presidency.

          Reply
  8. Carolinian

    Now Paypal says that Consortium really is banned. They certainly are sober and serious when comes to shunning people.

    https://consortiumnews.com/2022/05/06/mistaken-paypal-email-means-cn-is-permanently-banned/

    An agent from PayPal’s “escalation department” then said she could not provide any information about why the account was blocked because Robert Parry, the CN founder whose name is on the account, is deceased. She said they could only speak with him. PayPal is refusing to change the name to the current editor-in-chief because the account was permanently banned (even though days ago he submitted the documents necessary for a name change). The “escalation” agent also said she could not discuss details because she was worried about her “employment.”

    The “banality of evil” was a phrase once used for bureacrats just doing their job.

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      I would contribute to a fund for a huge lawsuit against PayPal, if some legal types wanted to set that up. I would also like to see a widespread boycott of them.

      Although I do use Venmo (owned by PP) occasionally to pay freelancers, I have refused to use PayPal for years, largely because they make it impossible to access if you don’t use them regularly.

      I would consider alternatives if people can suggest practical ones. I hate this company with a passion and I would like to fire them.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I would consider alternatives if people can suggest practical ones.

        So would I! I notice Caitlin Johnstone has, like, half a dozen. Not sure I want to manage that.

        Say what you will about PayPal, they’ve got a solid (if stolid) system set up. Email confirmations, 1099s, and so on. The back end has to work too.

        Reply
  9. Adam

    In regards to the vertical jump in US Covid death rate, I think it actually was the equivalent of someone finding a bunch of death certificates in a drawer. I noticed that North Carolina had a strange spike this week that pushed their death rate above Minnesota, California and Colorado when before they were below those states, but I never saw any daily totals that would support the large jump. A quick search doesn’t find any reporting on it.

    Reply
    1. John

      ISDS can be quite useful in this regard. One more arrow in the quiver of the many who will obstruct any action to mitigate climate change because it is not in their interest to do so. Live in the moment and ignore the coming generations.

      Reply
      1. LifelongLib

        Well, the article is a bit muddled, calling the people who were fired both “senior managers” and “senior-level workers”, some of whom were involved in union organizing. It’s not clear who exactly it’s talking about.

        Reply
  10. Pat

    Nothing tells you that DC and the White House are in a very thick protective bubble more than Biden thinking he can beat Trump and is the only one who can.

    Biden has the same number of votes that any Democrat has against Trump, the never Trump no matter who segment of the population. Nothing else is certain to him. I can say that his actions and administration has burnt a lot of bridges with people who had their doubts but were willing to give him a chance. Those votes are probably gone forever. Any advantages Biden had over Trump no longer exist.

    A lot can happen between now and November 2024, but IMO if the Democrats want to win in 2024, they better find a way to lose Biden…and Harris…and Clinton or they will lose to the Republican even Trump.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      If polls are to be believed then Trump is polling several points higher right now than Biden in popularity. Perhaps the November election will clarify things.

      Trump is no spring chicken himself. If the Dems really want to keep Trump in the past they’d do better not to run Biden which would only goad Trump to run as well. Isn’t there anyone under 70 who wants to be president?

      And re the above, are there really any Republicans not named Nikki Haley clamoring for Nikki Haley to run? Please please spare us GOP.

      Reply
    2. anon y'mouse

      ratcheting up hysteria about Repubs shooting the baby, and unearthing some scandals that were rolling around in the back of a drawer somewhere always tends to work. and a lot of people are banking on this Roe thing turning the tide in “save our ship(t!)” campaign.

      i mean, didn’t the most people EVER vote in the last pres. election? in the midst of a pandemic?

      Reply
    3. Big River Bandido

      The current “leaders” of the party — at both ends of Penn Ave — have so poisoned the well that the 2024 Democrat nomination won’t be worth a Continental.

      And even if it were, the Democrats have no one with the credibility or authenticity to win.

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Of course, Republicans don’t need no stinkin’ credibility or authenticity to win.

        Guess that shows you how utterly pathetic the Democrats really are. It should be a cakewalk to beat Republicans. But when you’re workin’ for the same people they are, it ain’t.

        Republicans are not credible or authentic. But they’re also not squishy.

        Reply
    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Nothing tells you that DC and the White House are in a very thick protective bubble more than Biden thinking he can beat Trump and is the only one who can.

      Well, who else can? Harris? Buttigeig? Clinton? Newsom? Inslee? Where exactly is Democrat Presidential timber to be found? (IIRC, Reagan was elected to a second term either having lost his mind or in the process of losing it; it’s not like there’s not a precedent.)

      Reply
      1. Pat

        I wish I thought being in the throes of dementia did disqualify you with the electorate. Personally I thought there was a fair amount of indication Joe had some issues before Obama and Clyburn managed to push him off on us, didn’t stop others from voting for him.
        As we have all noted the Clintons and the DLC have strangled candidate development. And lord knows Obama has never been about anybody but himself. So yes the pickings are slim. Looking at the lists of Governor and popularity is depressing as all get out. And anybody who can get past the Congressional Democratic machine is largely useless. I can’t believe I am going to throw this out there, I despise her, but how about Klobuchar. Granholm and Whitmer have some name recognition and aren’t entirely dead meat with the public yet.
        Hell at this rate the Democrats won’t have anyone to run in 2028.

        Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe Lambert should start clearing out that PayPal account twice a day. Time to make plans for when PayPal makes its move and have alternate schemes in place. You know its coming.

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        serious question, is there an alternative to paypal or cashap that is NOT based in the United States?

        Reply
        1. John Zelnicker

          dcblogger – The problem is that any cash app being used in the US has to interface with a US bank or have its own US banking license.

          Reply
          1. playon

            So the solution would be having a bank account offshore, preferably in a country that is not aligned with the west?

            Reply
            1. Tom Doak

              If you have an offshore account, you must register it with the IRS, and you can expect them to monitor you more closely – with all ten agents they have left!

              Reply
              1. Procopius

                If you live overseas you only have to report the account if it contains more than $10,000. I don’t know about Americans residing in CONUS.

                Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            As I understand it, and Yves knows this much better than I, the issue is being able to escape from the Visa/MC infrastructure — which is not possible.

            Yes, we could get an offshore account, if we wanted to raise a giant flag that said: “Please audit us in case we’re laundering money!”

            Alternatively, we could find a vendor that isn’t as imbricated into The Blog as PayPal evidently is, and possibly has jurisdictional advantages, even if the infrastructure is the same.

            (It would be nice if either one of the Native American nations, or, alternatively a state like North Dakota or Wyoming could set up a banking “safe haven.”)

            Reply
  11. harrybothered

    I was in Oneida, NY on April 24th visiting my aunt at a rehabilitation center. We had to have Covid tests before they would let us go up. We were negative and we had a lovely visit then drove up to my aunt’s in Belleville.
    The next day, my cousin’s wife calls to say my cousin has Covid and he’s got a really bad case. We had stayed with them for three days in Rochester. I don’t feel like I have Covid, but now I’m worried that I have gotten it and have given it to two elderly aunts.

    We take another Covid home test on Wednesday April 27th – negative again and still no symptoms.

    So far no reports that either aunt has Covid. I feel like I’m very lucky.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Glad things are negative for you and if I am assuming correctly your aunt. Sorry about your cousin.

      Unfortunately I think we are all walking through a minefield. Thanks, Biden! (And Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and all the biggest donors…)

      Reply
    2. playon

      The home tests can give false negatives with Omicron. I definitely had COVID but my home test did not show it.

      Reply
  12. NorD94

    deja vu all over again

    White House preps for cold-weather wave of 100M COVID infections
    https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/3479806-white-house-preps-for-cold-weather-wave-of-100m-covid-infections/

    The White House is preparing for as many as 100 million Americans to get infected with COVID-19 during a wave this fall and winter if Congress does not provide new funding for vaccines and tests, a senior administration official said Friday, warning new money is needed to have enough vaccines for everyone.

    A senior administration official told a small group of reporters on Friday that the estimate is the median of a range of models from outside experts that the administration consults, meaning it is also possible significantly more Americans catch the virus, especially if there is a major new variant.

    That compares with the roughly 130-140 million Americans who are estimated to have been infected over the omicron wave this winter, which led to a significant spike in deaths.

    The administration argues the number of cases could be lower if new funding allows for many Americans to get updated vaccines this fall and for testing to be plentiful.

    Reply
    1. John Zelnicker

      NorD94 – Once again, it’s vax only. Got to have the money to give to Pfizer and Moderna (J&J’s vaccine is under heavy restriction now).

      These folks just refuse to learn that NPI’s are, in the end and if used correctly, a more effective strategy than vaccination.

      I got my J&J vaccination last July, but nothing since. I know its efficacy is probably nil at this point, but I always wear an N95 when in buildings with others. Making more vaccines available, even if free, is not going to motivate me to get another shot.

      I’m concerned about reports that multiple vaccinations can degrade the ability of certain foundational T-cells to respond to new infections. I’m 72 and in fairly good health except for my lifetime of smoking and I’d like to keep my immune system as high-functioning as possible.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The administration argues the number of cases could be lower if new funding allows for many Americans to get updated vaccines this fall and for testing to be plentiful.

      No reason to change course now! Full speed ahead!

      Reply
  13. Gc54

    Yet again “the ‘vaccines’ will prevent infection”. FFS no. The Nature paper linked today on child covid says the same thing … their high rate of infection is in part due to children not being eligible for ‘vaccination’.

    Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “Transcript: Barack Obama Speech on Technology and Democracy”

    Just finished reading this. He really is a smooth operator and knows how to make all the right sounds to the right audiences. If I had to summarize all that he said, I think that it would be ‘Ya’ll need to fix all this broken stuff to do with freedom of speech. The same stuff that I could never be bothered with in my eight years as President or which I worked hard against.’

    Reply
        1. Pat

          Michelle is also slick. Not being driven by jealousy probably helps, but she helps burnish the illusion better than Hillary ever did.

          Reply
          1. Jacob Hatch

            Have you seen her looks when Obama was chilling with Thai PM. and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt? She’s aware that Obama was still having sex with his real love, Sheila Miyoshi Jager, during his engagement to Michelle, so she looked really pissed when he went all loopy over Yingluck Shinawatra. Their marriage was about power.

            Reply
  15. Mikel

    Employment Situation: “United States Unemployment Rate”

    Yep, the downward pressure on the stock market is going to continue to slow down retirements.

    Reply
  16. Raymond Sim

    Regarding the downward dive of the western states wastewater graph: Here’s the the link to the SCAN page I check:

    https://soe-wbe-pilot.wl.r.appspot.com/charts#page=locationloggeddrilldown

    Here you’ll see lots of down-trending curves but they represent the ‘trimmed average’, and given the lack of recalibration they’re not really telling us much. The variation in the levels of the samples that exceeded the maximum is an important piece of the puzzle.

    In my opinion intuitive understanding of a phenomenon like Covid is hindered by the presentation of averaged values. The typically low frequency of sampling relative to the rapid ups and downs of superspreading accomplished (usually) by only a small number of those infected means that outlying values can be far more significant than averaging makes them appear. I believe I recall a member of the brain trust making some observations a while ago about the need to think in terms of the variance, not the mean.

    I had hoped wastewater data would be less subject to this, but I don’t think it is. I suspect the design of sewer systems generally tends to minimize turbulence in the flow, making it more temporally and spatially stratified than I had naively anticipated.

    If the averaging process being used involves discarding outlying values, and you don’t actually know how high your highest readings were because they maxed, well, your curve most likely understates the situation.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Here you’ll see lots of down-trending curves but they represent the ‘trimmed average’, and given the lack of recalibration they’re not really telling us much. The variation in the levels of the samples that exceeded the maximum is an important piece of the puzzle.

      Thanks. This is extremely useful (and gives an account of New England’s flattening to which readers drew attention).

      Reply
  17. JBird4049

    >>>The Republicans have a monopoly of violence. Why?

    The Norms Fairies?

    Besides, only icky Deplorables uses gunz. Not actual Blue checked people. It’s a group identifier for True Liberals™️ If they were serious about countering Republican violence, they could ask those many icky Leftists who are armed, but likely not PMC. Again, those icky people.

    Funny how past leftists were happy to throw down with fascists, Klansmen, cops, and corporate thugs. Must have been icky.

    Reply

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