By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, I could not get to Stats today because I got wrapped round the axle on the House Capitol seizure hearings. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Italian Sparrow. San Cono, Italy. “At Farm House on roof, large number of individuals nesting in roof tiles.” Sheep and dogs included! If you have a suggestion for a sparrow species, please leave it in comments (I think I’ll do another week of sparrows).
“Sparrow ID Guides from Macaulay Library and Bird Academy” [The Cornell Lab of Ornithology]. Free downloads. “Sparrows are a challenge to birders of all skill levels because they’re often skulky and hard to see. At first they seem like dull brown birds, but when you get a good look, they show beautiful and intricate patterns on their feathers. Because many species are hard to see, they are sought after by avid listers and those who appreciate the beauty of birds. Whether you’re at home or out in the field, these helpful four-sheet sparrow reference guides have full-color photos of eastern, central, western and widespread sparrows.”
“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
On the Capitol Hill riot, I’m anchored on this image:
Did I experience aghastitude on “1/6″™? No. The Winter Palace in 1917 this was not. And what if that guy, instead of being a right-winger in a Trump hat, had been a union guy with a giant inflatable rat? I would have been cheering him on! Finally somebody stood up! What’s really driving the liberal Democrats — and, I suppose, Never Trump Republicans — is that deep down they think Capitol Hill is their space, democracy is “our” democracy, norms are their their norms, and that they will be comfortable again when the “insurrectionists” are rooted out and purged. But it’s not, it’s not, they’re not, and they won’t be. They lost their minds in 2016 for the same reasons, and never did manage to find them again, party leadership and PMC base together.
This AP chart, which I repost from yesterday, bears me out:
Insurrection is a crime (18 U.S. Code § 2383). So how come Merrick Garland charged the vast majority of the “insurrectionists” with illegal parading? Is Garland a puppet of Putin?
* * *
I’m starting to look at the Committee materials (I can’t bear to watch the videos):
“Read Rep. Liz Cheney’s opening statement in first Jan. 6 hearing” [NBC]. Cheney is presenting a prosecutor’s “We will show” opening statement (and incidentally providing the roadmap and schedule for the rest of the hearing). These sentences on the first two pages caught my eye: “Tonight, you will see never-before-seen footage [who cares] of the on our Capitol… A mob… You will see evidence of what motivated this .” • Again, look at Garland’s charge sheet. Cases of violence: two (2). Cheney’s rhetorical strategy, as Thompson’s (below) seems to be to conflate the rioters and all the other participants on the day (see the discussion of “silos” yesterday). I think that makes sense as a rhetorical strategy, but it’s the only kind of sense it makes. Carrying off the House podium and putting it up on Ebay — instead of selling it off in a back room, the norm — isn’t the same thing as “seditious conspiracy.” It’s just not.
“Read the full text of chair Bennie Thompson’s remarks in first Jan. 6 hearing” [NBC News]. From Links, but here it is again. This, I think, is Thompson’s key point: “It was of the Constitution who stormed and occupied the Capitol.” (“Domestic enemies” comes from the Oath of Office that Federal officials take; 5 U.S. Code § 3331.) Note that Thompson characterizes all participants in the riot as “domestic enemies,” throwing the guy with the Trump hat, the Proud Boys, Trump’s entourage, and Trump himself into the same bucket. Legally and I would argue morally, this is wrong; again, the majority of charges brought were for illegal parading, and not for insurrection. (The Proud Boys — and the Proud Boys only — were charged with “seditious conspiracy,” which reinforces my point.) Politically, where we’re talking not only the rioters proper, but for those who, for whatever reason (see item below), identity with them, liberal Democrats have escalated from Clinton’s 2016 “basket of deplorables” to Thompson’s 2022 “domestic enemies.” It didn’t work in 2016, and I don’t think it will work in 2022.
On the supposed interference with the count of Electoral College Ballots:
Unless they killed off enough Dems to change who had majority control of the chamber, the outcome would have been the same. Congress just would have re-convened a couple days later vs that same night
If they're killing until the majority changes, that's a hard coup IMO https://t.co/YnWAMa1cav
— T. Greg Doucette (@greg_doucette) June 10, 2022
(NOTE: AFAIK, none of the rioters were carrying; they left their guns behind.) So did it even matter that Pence didn’t get in the car?
“We’re Misunderstanding What Caused Jan. 6” [FiveThirtyEight]. “‘They’re interested in political reform and not in the fact that people are pissed.’ That’s something University of Michigan political science professor Christian Davenport told me in the days after Jan. 6…. Davenport was trying to get me to understand that while the riot at the Capitol was inherently political, the divisions fueling it were not. Right and left, Democrat and Republican: Those splits exist in society, but they weren’t the cause of what happened. Income inequality, racial resentment, declining trust in institutions — those were the really dangerous things, Davenport said. We tend to think of those divisions as partisan because that’s the divide our polling data is set up to track. But in quantifying and graphing the tree counts, we miss the fact that we are in a forest…. A team of researchers found in a 2021 paper that an anti-establishment dimension would explain some of the more worrying extremes in American politics — things like support for conspiracy theories, endorsement of anti-expertise opinions and seeing politics as a battle between good and evil — better than the left-right dimension of our politics. One of those researchers, University of Miami political science professor Joseph Uscinski, found no difference in the prevalence of anti-establishment beliefs between Democrats and Republicans, using survey data collected in October 2020. What’s more, Uscinski found that anti-establishment ideologies better predicted belief in the conspiracies of QAnon and Trump’s claims of voter fraud than did left-right orientations.”
* * *
CA: “California primary results: Who is advancing to November?” [Cal Matters]. “For the impatient among you, we have bad news: California election officials take their time counting every last ballot. The outcome of particularly close races might not be certain for days, if not longer.”
CO: “Dems meddle in Senate primary to advance hardline MAGA Republican” [Politico]. • Worked in 2016, let’s try it again!
PA: “GOP takes indirect aim at Fetterman’s health in Pennsylvania Senate race” [NBC]. “rather than directly criticize Fetterman over his health, Republicans are taking a different approach: bashing the Democrat for not being more transparent about the stroke that hospitalized him four days before he handily won the May 17 primary… Fetterman’s wife, Gisele Fetterman, insisted in an NBC News interview that aired Wednesday that her family and the campaign were open about his condition as they were just trying to “navigate these very personal and difficult things very publicly.’ ‘We have done a superb job on transparency,’ she said.” • When you’re explaining, you’re losing.
I love the Nixon account:
That's the thing: either you hate Biden and think he's a gangster, or he died five years ago and so forth, or you like him well enough, you want to shake his hand, have him give your kid a pep talk. But no one actually believes in him. https://t.co/Yo5gjqm1x9
— Richard M. Nixon (@dick_nixon) June 10, 2022
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.
* * *
“Democrats Need a Vision. Fast.” [New York Magazine]. “In recent comments to Politico, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont cut to the heart of the matter. ‘You really can’t win an election with a bumper sticker that says: ‘Well, we can’t do much, but the other side is worse,” he said, suggesting that the party make an affirmative case for holding on to power, ‘a Newt Gingrich–style ‘Contract with America,’’ as Politico put it. The democratic socialist raises a strong argument. It’s not enough for Democrats to portray the GOP as a threat to democracy, even though this is certainly a true statement. They need to explain what exactly they’ll do with the power they want if they stand any hope of not being wiped out in the midterm elections. That case has not been forthcoming. It has not always been clear what Democrats stand for exactly. The party’s big-tent ethos prevents it from staking out a coherent identity. Its neoliberal commitments strand it in a morass of means-testing and personal responsibility and incremental achievements. Party moderates contribute to the problem, as Sanders pointed out…. A savvy political class would address voters where they are and offer something positive in return for power.” • I agree with Sanders, but it’s much, much too late. To make any difference for 2022 or 2024, a new “Contract with America” would have to be accompanied by a blood sacrifice of the existing Party leadership. Na ga happen.
Realignment and Legitimacy
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 high, transmission is high, test positivity is high, wastewater detection is up, and hospitalization is up in many states. 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. But it’s starting to look like we won’t.
• “This New COVID Wave May Be More Like a Flood” [New York Magazine]. “A new COVID wave now fueled by four Omicron subvariants continues to drive up infections throughout the country. Though there are signs that the surge in the Northeast has begun to stabilize, infections are on the rise in other regions and the level of community transmission remains high across the vast majority of the country. There is also reason to worry that the current wave may not subside for a long time, particularly now that the two newest and most troubling Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, may be starting to outcompete their predecessors. While previous nationwide surges in cases have mostly played out as single waves, this new one might be more like a flood. .” • A fellow tape-watcher. It’s very distressing that the metrics we needed — variant spread — are so slow to appear, whether at Biobot or CDC. What’s up with that?
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:
Level. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the blue “Biden Line” at that point. Yesterday, the count was 108,900. Today, it’s 108,500, and 108,500 * 6 = a Biden line at 651,000. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes had a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.
Here are cases for the last four weeks:
Up, but fiddling and diddling. This tracker does this at peaks, but also not at peaks. (I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to and check on the goons at CDC.)
Both South and North down.
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.
Cases lag wastewater data.
NOT UPDATED From Biobot Analytics:
Note that BA.4 and BA.5 are increasing in the South (as of May 18). I checked CDC, they’re not update either (from May 21).
From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:
West Coast and Southwest much better. Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia better. Illinois and Indiana better. Arkansas worse. That little speck of red in New York state is gone.
The previous release:
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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.
West Coast, and Midwest are all red. Seeing some orange (“substantial”) on the East Coast. Great Plains speckled with yellow. (As has been the case for weeks, even while people were yammering that “Covid is over!”)
Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
Death rate (Our World in Data):
1,035,031. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.
Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.
The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday:
What kind of organization puts “in recent weeks” in an explanatory dropdown, and then obviously never comes back to check? Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks.
CDC, if you’re reading this, please send a signal by getting this fixed. And then throw some documents over the transom. In complete confidentiality! Obviously, nobody at CDC is checking the excess deaths chart, because otherwise the typo would be fixed. I certainly hope there are no “coding errors” in the algo.
— Francis Bacon (@baconartbot) June 9, 2022
News of the Wired
“This Robotic Finger Is Covered in Living Human Skin” [Gizmodo]. • Kill it with fire anyhow.
Two papers relevant to The Jackpot:
“Governing Boring Apocalypses: A New Typology of Existential Vulnerabilities and Exposures for Existential Risk Research” (PDF) [Futures]. From 2018, still germane. From the Abstract: “[I]dentified existential risks are frequently characterised by relatively singular origin events and concrete pathways of harm which directly jeopardize the survival of humanity, or undercut its potential for long-term technological progress. While this approach aptly identifies the most cataclysmic fates which may befall humanity, we argue that catastrophic ‘existential outcomes’ may likely arise from a broader range of sources and societal vulnerabilities…. Latent structural vulnerabilities in our technological systems and in our (institutional and cultural) societal arrangements (e.g. systemic ‘normal accidents’; institutional absence or failure; cultural distrust of authorities) may increase our susceptibility—the likelihood that we succumb to existential hazards…. We argue that far from being peripheral footnotes to their more direct and immediately terminal counterparts, these ‘boring apocalypses’ may well prove to be the more endemic and problematic, dragging down and undercutting short-term successes in mitigating more spectacular risks.” And from the text: “Thus, our view is that a materialised existential risk (what we call an ‘existential hazard’) is sufficient to lead to an (existentially) ‘adverse outcome’, but crucially, that this is unnecessary to reach that result. If the overarching objective is to lower the probability of human extinction or significant technological curtailment, adopting an array of approaches which complement the mitigation of direct existential risks are required.” This reminds me of the layered (“Swiss Cheese”) model for extinguishing Covid — one which our society signally failed to adopt. These pathways to civilizational collapse are all boring, in the typology of the authors:s
“How complex systems fail” [Richard Cook]. From the Abstract: “Complex systems are heavily and successfully defended against failure. The high consequences of failure lead over time to the construction of multiple layers of defense against failure. These defenses include obvious technical components (e.g. backup systems, ‘safety’ features of equipment) and human components (e.g. training, knowledge) but also a variety of organizational, institutional, and regulatory defenses (e.g. policies and procedures, certification, work rules, team training). The effect of these measures is to provide a series of shields that normally divert operations away from accidents. Catastrophe requires multiple failures – single point failures are not enough.” • One might regard “freedom” as removing these shields.
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 dk:
dk writes; “Yucca (Agavaceae) outside my door in ABQ NM.”
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