2:00PM Water Cooler 6/28/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

More soon. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Nightingale Wren, Cayo, Belize.

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Lambert here: One reader suggested changing these quotes; I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I need to think about it. I don’t want to be too doomy — we are not short of inventory in that department — but I don’t want to go all chipped and Pollyanna-esque, either.

“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

Roe v. Wade

“How Did Roe Fall?” [New York Times]. “The beginning of the end of Roe v. Wade arrived on election night in November 2010. That night, control of state houses across the country flipped from Democrat to Republican, almost to the number: Democrats had controlled 27 state legislatures going in and ended up with 16; Republicans started with 14 and ended up controlling 25. Republicans swept not only the South but Democratic strongholds in the Midwest, picking up more seats nationwide than either party had in four decades. By the time the votes had been counted, they held their biggest margin since the Great Depression.” • So we have Obama’s miserably inadequate response to the Crash to thank for the loss of Roe, too. Thanks, Obama! You and Timmy sure did foam that runway!

UPDATE “Sen. Josh Hawley predicts the overturning of Roe v. Wade will cause a ‘major sorting out across the country’ and allow the GOP to ‘extend their strength in the Electoral College'” [MSN]. “‘I think we will see a major sorting out across the country that is already underway, as we speak, as states move to change their laws or adopt new laws in response to this decision,’ he said. ‘I think it’ll probably redraw some demographic lines around the country, and will lead to impacts in voting patterns, I think, all around the country.’ Hawley said that individuals may make decisions about where they choose to live in the United States based on those laws, possibly relocating in the process. ‘More and more red states, they’re going to become more red, and purple states are going to become red, and the blue states are going to get a lot bluer,’ he said. That, in turn, may give Republicans an even greater advantage in the Electoral College, the country’s system for electing presidents. Under that system, the president is decided based on the votes of 538 electors allocated to each state based on their populations.” • Legitimacy crisis, here we come (implicit in “a lot bluer”).

UPDATE “Roe Is the New Prohibition” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. “As Prohibition became a nationwide reality, Americans rapidly changed their mind about the idea. Support for Prohibition declined, then collapsed. Not only was the Volstead Act repealed, in 1933, but the Constitution was further amended so that nobody could ever try such a thing ever again. That’s where the story usually ends. But now let’s add one more chapter, the one most relevant to our present situation. When Prohibition did finally end, so too did the culture war over alcohol. Emotions that had burned fiercely for more than half a century sputtered out after 1933…. [C]ompromise is exactly what happened after Prohibition was tried…. Prohibition and Dobbs were and are projects that seek to impose the values of a cohesive and well-organized cultural minority upon a diverse and less-organized cultural majority. Those projects can work for a time, but only for a time. In a country with a representative voting system—even a system as distorted in favor of the rural and conservative as the American system was in the 1920s and is again today—the cultural majority is bound to prevail sooner or later.”

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Capitol Seizure

UPDATE “Could Trump Face Justice Over the Fraudulent Electors?” [The Bulwark]. “[I]t arguably borders on insanity to believe that law enforcement will, at long last, find the weak spot in Trump’s otherwise impenetrable armor of impunity. But if anything can, my money is on the fake elector scheme. Five months ago I wrote that the scheme to sign and submit phony electoral certificates in five states, executed by mostly low-level local officials, could mushroom into potential criminal accountability for high-level officials in Trump’s orbit, up to and including Trump himself… Over a two-day period last week, at least nine people in four different states reportedly received federal grand jury subpoenas in connection with the fake elector investigation. The recipients included not only some of the phony electors themselves but also ‘aides to Mr. Trump’s campaign.’ Federal agents also executed search warrants directed at the chairman of the Nevada Republican party and the party’s secretary.” And: “The final link in the chain was supplied last week when the House January 6th committee revealed that none other than the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, had directly linked Trump to the fake elector scheme. McDaniel recounted that Trump had personally called her to put his attorney John Eastman on the line ‘to talk about the importance of the R.N.C. helping the campaign gather these contingent electors.’ Read the word ‘contingent’ to be a self-protective euphemism for ‘fake.’ While the Jan. 6th Committee didn’t publicly clarify the timing of McDaniel’s conversation with Trump and Eastman, if it occurred after December 11, when all fifty states had certified the election results and Trump’s final Supreme Court challenge had been rejected, there were no serious ‘contingencies’ left.” • Something to watch. Maybe the walls will close in. (I agree that the hearings are pointless if law enforcement does not close in. One retrospectively legalizes a coup only in Third World countries.)

“John Eastman’s long, strange trip to the heart of the Jan. 6 investigation” [Los Angeles Times]. “Eastman remains a senior fellow at the [Claremont Institute], which, after decades on the geographical and intellectual fringes of the right, found new prominence during the Trump years. The think tank’s embrace of upheaval and crisis as necessary to usher in America’s renewal aligned neatly with the norms-busting president. Claremonsters, as they call themselves, use apocalyptic rhetoric to convey the staggering stakes, as they see them, or to at least get people’s attention. That cataclysmic viewpoint spilled into the Jan. 6 hearings, when former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said in a deposition that he had warned Eastman his scheme to have the vice president invalidate the election would ’cause riots in the streets.’ ‘And [Eastman] said words to the effect of, ‘There has been violence in the history of our country, Eric, to protect the democracy or protect the republic,’ Herschmann said. Eastman was so committed to this line of thinking that he continued to seek avenues to overturn Trump’s loss, even in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He unsuccessfully sought a pardon from Trump and now finds himself potentially in criminal jeopardy. ‘Unfortunately, he drank the Kool-Aid that President Trump was selling — that the election was a fraud,’ [John Yoo, a former lawyer in George W. Bush’s administration and a tenured professor at UC Berkeley] said.” • Holy moley, John Yoo, who “justified” torture for Bush, is now a RINO. Strange times. (To its credit, the Times mentions Yoo’s role.)

“How the House Jan. 6 Panel Has Redefined the Congressional Hearing” [New York Times]. “The five sessions the panel has produced so far this month resemble a tightly scripted television series. Each episode has a defined story with a beginning, middle and end. Heroes and villains are clearly identified. Only a few of the committee members speak at any given hearing, and those who do often read from teleprompters. The answers to the questions are known before they are asked. There is no grandstanding or partisan rancor.” • I think WaterGate was pretty tightly scripted; lawyers never ask questions they don’t know the answer to. But I guess “Made for TV” hearings are new. Once again, we live in the stupidest timeline.

Biden Administration

Democrat flaccidity (1): “Fighting for”:

Shorter: “I’m in a plane and you’re not.””

Democrat flaccidity (2): “Strategic strategy”:

Shorter: “We’re waiting to see how it polls with suburban women.”

“”It Feels Like They Couldn’t Care Less”: Democrats Under Fire After Overturning of Roe” [Eoin Higgins, The Flashpoint]. Lots of quotes from protesters, including this: “I just can’t get behind people basically fundraising off my health—and the health and lives of other potentially pregnant people,’ Lauren said.”


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UPDATE OK: “Republicans Race for Runoff in Oklahoma Senate Special Election” [Bloomberg (Super Extra)]. “The biggest question in Tuesday’s special election primary for a Senate seat in Oklahoma is which one of the dozen other Republicans will face Rep. Markwayne Mullin in a runoff…. Despite Mullin’s likely edge, a runoff will allow candidates to sharpen their messages after a primary that was mainly about who is the most conservative on social issues. All the leading primary candidates tout religious values and oppose abortion rights and gun control. They all espouse loyalty to former President Donald Trump, though Trump hasn’t endorsed anyone in the race….. Scott Pruitt, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency in the Trump Administration, is the best-known candidate nationally and was expected to be a factor. But he trails badly in fundraising and polling, and is a long-shot to make the runoff, political analysts in the state said… In a brief interview, Mullin, now in his fifth House term, touted his business background as head of a family plumbing company and said the main difference between him and the other candidates is ‘the resumé.’ With ‘this many Republicans in the reddest state in the union, policy—most of the time—we’re going to line up on,’ Mullin said.”


“Trump Voters Need a New Direction” [Peggy Noonan]. A big slab of quotation, but as readers know, I stan for Nooners. “In 2016 Trump supporters called an audible, threw the long ball, and to the shock of all won. There were things beyond country-love and insight in the Trumpian brew—the joy of social resentment, some jacked-up nihilism, the pleasure of suddenly having comrades and belonging to something, of suddenly having power and being able to rub your so-called superiors’ faces in it. But there was strategy, too. Republicans can argue about Donald Trump’s single term. He was not strictly speaking a capable man, which surprised those who think the rich are. It’s not that he couldn’t make a deal; it’s that he never knew where the deal was, didn’t know who to go to because he didn’t understand Washington. The border is more overwhelmed than ever, the wall wasn’t built, China continues to loom. But there were no new wars, and conservative justices joined the high court…. Now we jump to this moment, to the Jan. 6 committee and the testimony—under oath—of Mr. Trump’s loyalists, who worked for him in the White House and led his 2020 re-election effort. What they said in essence—and again, under oath—is that the idea the election was stolen was all made up, pure fiction, a deliberate lie aimed at overturning the election. This was an act against the Constitution, against the formal and informal arrangements and traditions better people had labored to maintain for more than two centuries. The president’s people had told him he hadn’t won. On election night, according to one witness, everyone said so but an ‘inebriated’ Rudy Giuliani. But a drunk Rudy wasn’t enough, so Mr. Trump looked around for kooks, crooks and freaks. He didn’t have to look far because America has lots of them, and Trumpworld more than most. Their efforts were knocked down in the courts by Trump-appointed judges and rebuffed in the states by Republican officials. Mr. Trump tried to get his vice president to go along, but he refused. So he threw his most passionate supporters on the ground into it, and told them to march on the Capitol. ‘Be there, will be wild!’ Those poor stupid [oops] people did. From the testimony of those arrested: ‘Trump asked us to come,’ said Robert Schornack. Eric Barber: ‘He personally asked us to come to D.C. that day . . . for everything he’s done for us, if this is the only thing he’s gonna ask of me, I’ll do it.’ Daniel Herendeen understood Trump to be saying, ‘Come to D.C., big things are gonna happen.’ More than 800 people were arrested. Some have served painful time; there was at least one suicide. There is no record of Mr. Trump visiting them in prison. There is no record of his paying their bills. No record of his taking responsibility for their actions and requesting mercy. No record they were shown a cent of the $250 million Mr. Trump’s small-donor fundraising operation took in after the election. The 1/6 hearings have been a powerful indictment, well-documented and undeniable. It is wishful thinking on the part of Trump supporters to dismiss the hearings on the grounds that most Americans didn’t watch them. Everything said will filter out and down, seep into the general knowledge base, and come to be understood as “what happened.” It will further damage Mr. Trump’s standing.” • Old bourbon though she is, I always think Nooners is worth a read. Concluding: “Trump voters: Call an audible again. Look at the field and the facts, be strategic. Donald Trump, in the 2016 primaries, tended to win with about a third of the vote. In a field of 17 that was enough. It’s looking like the GOP field could be larger than expected in 2024, and of course Mr. Trump could run again and win the nomination again. It will be easier for him if past Trump voters fail to think strategically, and if donors big and small don’t move early to winnow the field…. So that’s what I tell Trump voters: Be serious. Move quickly. Let go of the anvil that, in the most buoyant waters imaginable, will sink you to the bottom of the sea.” • A conscious reference to: “When you’re opponent’s drowning, throw ’em an anvil”?

“Why Ron DeSantis Can Beat Trump in 2024” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. “If you want to get a sense of which way the Republican Party is headed in 2024, here are two straws in the wind. First, Gary Fineout reported that Ron DeSantis might not seek Donald Trump’s endorsement in his reelection contest for governor — a risk DeSantis can probably afford, given the Republican tidal wave that will be at his back in November. Second, a poll of likely Republican-primary voters in New Hampshire found DeSantis edging out Trump 39 percent to 37 percent. If you still think DeSantis is only floating a presidential campaign in the hopes Trump will back out, think again. DeSantis is building a campaign to take on Trump. And he can win. … [DeSantis] is the beneficiary of a concerted effort by Republican elites to promote his candidacy. The coordination behind DeSantis is reminiscent of how the party coalesced behind George W. Bush in 1999. What had begun as a wide-open race with multiple contestants winnowed very quickly as the word got out that Bush was the pick. Something very much like that is occurring with DeSantis. DeSantis is hoovering up cash from the party’s donor class, including the support of at least 42 billionaires. The most telling fact about the New Hampshire poll is that while DeSantis leads Trump by just two points overall, he leads among Fox News watchers by 14 points and among conservative radio listeners by 16 points. Republicans who consume conservative media are getting the message. The voters who are not yet tuned in to conservative media may still name Trump in polls, but they are likely to follow.” • So the 1/6 Committee — see Nooners, above — is doing the RINOs a solid?

“The Man Most Responsible for Ending Roe Worries That It Could Hurt His Party” [New York Times]. “Publicly, former President Donald J. Trump heralded the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday ending federal abortion protections as a victory. Yet, as he faces possible prosecution over his efforts to subvert the 2020 election and prepares for a likely 2024 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has privately told friends and advisers the ruling will be ‘bad for Republicans.’ When a draft copy of the decision leaked in May, Mr. Trump began telling friends and advisers that it would anger suburban women, a group who helped tilt the 2020 race to President Biden, and would lead to a backlash against Republicans in the November midterm elections. In other conversations, Mr. Trump has told people that measures like the Texas state law banning most abortions after six weeks and allowing citizens to file lawsuits against people who enable abortions are ‘so stupid,’ according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions. The Supreme Court let the measure stand in December 2021.”

UPDATE “Biden Irked by Democrats Who Won’t Take ‘Yes’ for an Answer on 2024” [New York Times]. “Earlier this month, when Senator Bernie Sanders said he would not challenge President Biden in 2024, Mr. Biden was so relieved he invited his former rival to dinner at the White House the next night. Mr. Biden has been eager for signs of loyalty — and they have been few and far between.” Well, I’m glad Sanders got a dinner out of all this, at least. I wonder if he broke any china? And then there’s this: “Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who some wealthy donors [proving again that we are in the stupidest timeline] are hoping will consider a third-party presidential bid., declined to say whether he would consider such a run or if he planned to back Mr. Biden. ‘We’re just trying to do our daily thing, brother,’ Mr. Manchin said. ‘Trying to do what we got to do that’s good for the country.'” Oh. More: “The president has made clear he wants a primary calendar that better reflects the party’s racial diversity, all but assuring the demise of first-in-the-nation status for the Iowa, which was hostile to Mr. Biden in his last two presidential bids. Senior Democrats are considering moving up Michigan, a critical general election state where the president has a number of allies in labor and elected office.” Wait. Doesn’t Biden owe Clyburn? And this: “But White House aides believe they can direct Mrs. Clinton’s energy toward assisting with the public response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe.” A-a-a-a-u-u-u-g-h-h-h!!! My eyes!!!!! The reporter really emptied his Rolodex, didn’t he? Well worth a read.

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.

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AOC on a “legitimacy crisis”:

AOC asking the Democrat leadership to, well, lead….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“America Is Sliding Into the Long Pandemic Defeat” [Ed Yong, The Atlantic]. Another great slab of quotation, I apologize: “In 2018, while reporting on pandemic preparedness in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I heard many people joking about the fictional 15th article of the country’s constitution: Débrouillez-vous, or ‘Figure it out yourself.’ It was a droll and weary acknowledgment that the government won’t save you, and you must make do with the resources you’ve got. The United States is now firmly in the débrouillez-vous era of the COVID-19 pandemic.” We call it “personal risk assessment.” More: “Across the country, almost all government efforts to curtail the coronavirus have evaporated….. I have interviewed dozens of other local officials, community organizers, and grassroots groups who are also swimming furiously against the tide of governmental apathy to push some pandemic response forward, even if incrementally. This is an endeavor that all of American society would benefit from; it is currently concentrated among a network of exhausted individuals who are trying to figure out this pandemic, while living up to public health’s central tenet: Protect the health of all people, and the most vulnerable especially…. Building a stronger public-health system demands an unfettering of the moral imagination: Americans need to believe that their government should invest in systems that keep everyone safer from disease—and to trust that such systems are even possible. But throughout his decades-long career, [AIDS activist and Yale epidemiologist Greg] Gonsalves has witnessed social safety nets being repeatedly shredded, leading to ‘a collapse of any faith in the state to do good,’ he told me. That faith eroded further when public institutions buckled during the pandemic, and when two successive administrations failed to control the coronavirus. The resulting ‘pandemic fatigue’ is not just a craving for the status quo, but a deep cynicism over the possibility of something better. In one study, most Americans preferred a better, fairer post-pandemic future, but mistakenly thought a ‘back-to-normal’ one was more popular [a Keynesian beauty contest, but one where the minimizers were given the megaphone by the 1%] —and so more likely>. ‘People can imagine a world with crypto-banking and the metaverse, so why is it so hard to imagine a world with less disease and death?’ Céline Gounder of Kaiser Health News said.” • The entire piece is well worth a read. For me, the pervasive sense that the United States has just given up is very, very hard to bear; I don’t recognize the country any more, as Yves said the other day. (Of course, Yong is arguing against this thesis — and efforts like Corsi boxes, hard-core masking, and Covid meetups support him — so perhaps we might distinguish between the so-called “United States” and elites (who may not have “given up,” and may well be actively malevolent), and within elites between capital and its enablers in the PMC). Ah well, nevertheless.

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In the Blue paradise of California:



I am but a humble tape-watcher, and I’m perplexed about the current state of play. Case data is showing the fiddling-and-diddling behavior characteristic of a peak. However, nothing I hear in anecdotal case data tells me there’s any relief. Hospitalization data (trailing) is easing (and so the hospital-centric public health establishment probably thinks Covid is done). Positivity data (leading) has been fiddling and diddling as it too does at peaks. Then again, waste-water data (leading) is slightly down. The wild card is variants BA.4/5 (and I thought we were supposed to be giving names to these things). All the variant sources I have say BA.4/5 are up, but they differ as to how much and where, and the data is two weeks behind (hat tip, CDC; who could have known we’d need to track variant data?). I am reminded of the “stairstep” (see the Case count chart below: I muttered about this at the time) that marked the Delta/Omicron transition, just before Omicron’s amazing take-off. Perhaps a BA.4/5 transition will exhibit the same behavior. OTOH, I could be projecting patterns into clouds.

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• “China’s Shock Covid Shift Adds Fuel to World-Beating Stock Rally” [Bloomberg]. “Chinese shares rallied ever closer to a bull market after Beijing unexpectedly halved the mandatory quarantine period, boosting optimism of a shift away from the government’s Covid Zero policy that has clouded the outlook for investors.” • Clarifying! And see Rule #2.

• ”The BA.5 story” [Eric Topol, Ground Truths]. The lead: “The Omicron sub-variant BA.5 is the worst version of the virus that we’ve seen. It takes immune escape, already extensive, to the next level, and, as a function of that, enhanced transmissibility, well beyond Omicron (BA.1) and other Omicron family variants that we’ve seen (including BA.1.1, BA.2, BA.2.12.1, and BA.4). You could say it’s not so bad because there hasn’t been a marked rise in hospitalizations and deaths as we saw with Omicron, but that’s only because we had such a striking adverse impact from Omicron, for which there is at least some cross-immunity (BA.1 to BA.5).” More: “Obviously, the non-pharmacologic mitigating measures that include high-quality make (N95/KN95), physical distancing, ventilation and air filtration would help, but pandemic fatigue [and official propaganda]. has led to very low level of adoption…. There is no right answer but variant chasing is a flawed approach. By the time a BA.5 vaccine booster is potentially available, who knows what will be the predominant strain? All of this gets back to the vital need for new generation of vaccines that are universal, that is variant-proof—either against all sarbecoviruses or against all β-coronaviruses. And the pivotal importance of nasal vaccines to promote mucosal immunity and help block the transmission chain. These goals are paramount, along with more and better antiviral drugs, but they are not getting adequate traction or priority.”

• Long Thread on personal risk assessment:

Useful, but it would sure be helpful when doing my “personal risk assessment” homework if official data sources weren’t incomplete, corrupted, or going dark, ffs.

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“The next epidemic may be here. The U.S. isn’t ready for it” [STAT]. “If HIV and Covid-19 were wake-up calls for the government to prioritize public health, monkeypox shows the consequences of hitting the snooze button too many times.”

• “What do we learn?”

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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.

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91-DIVOC is back (hosanna, hosanna) and with it my beloved state and regional breakdowns. So long, New York Times! Case count for the United States:

The totals are more or less level, but under the hood the BA.4/5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. 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 DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. Yesterday, the count was ~ 103,000. Today, it’s 106,300, and 106,300 * 6 = a Biden line at 618,000. 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.

• ”National Numbers, June 26″ [Covid Data Dispatch]. “New hospital admissions, the number of COVID-19 patients who sought treatment, rose slightly in the last week: about 4,400 patients were admitted each day nationwide, compared to 4,300 last week. Wastewater data from Biobot shows a national plateau, as coronavirus levels drop in the Northeast and West while rising in the South and remaining stagnant in the Midwest. Why this prolonged plateau? Most likely, the rise of immune-evading Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 is preventing a BA.2-initiated wave from truly dipping back down.” • So I am not the only tapewatcher with this intuition….

Regional case count:

The South:

Seems like the South has its own jurisdictional differences. And holy moley, Florida? What’s witih your data? I know it’s released weekly, but these stairsteps? You can’t keep losing reports in a drawer; it looks odd!

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

1.2%. (I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to and check on the goons at CDC.)

NOT UPDATED Wastewater data, regional (Biobot Analytics), June 22:

STILL BROKEN Wastewater data (CDC), June 4 – June 18:

CDC’s wastewater chart is down again.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, regional (Biobot), June 8:

Out of date compared to Walgreens (below) but still showing doubling behavior.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 22:

Nice doubling behavior, implying BA.4/5 should be happily dominant just in time for the travel weekend of July 4, good job everyone.

Variant data, national (CDC), June 11:

Doubling behavior moving along quite briskly.

Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does (BA.4/BA.5 is 27.7% as of June 18) but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants?? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

NOT UPDATED AGAIN WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

No matter what else the CDC butchered, this report has been regular as clockwork since forever. Now it’s stopped for two days (and wastewater collection for three). From the data perspective, the CDC is a controlled flight into terrain, with all the instruments dead.

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.

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:

West Coast, and Midwest are all red. More and more orange (“substantial”) on the East Coast, with some yellow breaking out. Great Plains speckled with yellow and blue.


Very volatile. And speaking of BA.4/BA.5:

Get ready.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,041,027 1,040,805. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Stats Watch

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the US rose 2 percent month-over-month to $880.6 billion in May of 2022, easing from an upwardly revised 2.3 percent advance in April, a preliminary estimate showed. Both durable goods (2.2 percent vs 2.4 percent in April) and nondurable (1.8 percent vs 2.2 percent) stocks increased at a softer pace. On an annual basis, wholesale inventories surged 25 percent in May.” • That seems like rather a lot.

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Richmond Fed composite manufacturing index fell to -19 in June of 2022 from -9 in May, as two of its three component indexes dropped further into negative territory. The indexes for shipments (-16 vs -14 in May) and volume of new orders (-38 vs -29) declined while the employment index rose (23 vs 8). The wage index also remained elevated, despite a minor downward shift, indicating that a large share of firms continue to report increasing wages.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Crypto exchange CoinFlex is raising $47 million through a new coin after a major investor fails to pay debt” [CNBC]. “Cryptocurrency exchange CoinFlex on Tuesday issued a new token to raise funds in a bid to restart withdrawals for its customers, after one client failed to repay a massive debt. CoinFlex said it would issue $47 million worth of a digital coin, offering 20% interest, which it’s calling Recovery Value USD, or rvUSD…. The company declined to name the investor, but said the individual ‘is a high-integrity person of significant means, experiencing temporary liquidity issues due to a credit (and price) crunch in crypto markets (and non-crypto markets), with substantial shareholdings in several unicorn private companies and a large portfolio.’ By issuing the new rvUSD tokens, CoinFlex will be hoping to raise enough money to cover the shortfall in its books left by the investor and resume withdrawals for users. It is offering a 20% interest rate for people willing to buy rvUSD to entice investors.” • Wild!

The Bezzle: “why CoinFlex’s halting of withdrawals suggests far more serious institutional implosions are on the crypto horizon” [Reddit]. “i have a hypothesis that one of the reasons we are seeing mega-whales (read: probably but not necessarily exchange owners) engage in activities like the looting of DeFi platforms (look for the Solend threads in here), exchanges (this post, maybe also the AEX Global situation), and possibly each other (see update1 above) is because they have burned so much capital trying to keep the price of Bitcoin above certain levels that they need to find new pools of capital to use for that purpose. i have a mathematical model that tries to guess when they will go bust given various assumptions. it’s not a good enough model to share but i will say that with extremely generous assumptions i computed that they could not prop up the price at $30K more than 6-8 months.” • Perhaps somebody who understands what these crooks are up to can explain.

UPDATE Manufacturing: “Boeing 737 MAX mid-air emergencies revealed as US agency prepares to probe production issues” [ABC Australia]. Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX planes — which have twice crashed, killing 346 people — have experienced at least six mid-air emergencies and dozens of groundings in the year after an extensive probe cleared them to fly. …. An ABC investigation can also reveal the US government will announce a new audit examining Boeing’s production oversight of the 737 MAX planes…. All MAX planes worldwide were grounded after the second crash as a 20-month safety review was carried out. But in April last year, five months after they were cleared to fly again, 100 MAX jets were again withdrawn from service after the discovery of an electrical fault in the cockpit that could result in the loss of critical flight functions. Boeing told the ABC it traced the problem back to a change in production processes at its Utah factory.” Another union-busting facility, I presume. More: “Kwasi Adjekum, an assistant professor of aviation at the University of North Dakota and a former air crash investigator, identified seven of the mid-air emergencies as being very serious and said Boeing had cut corners with the design of the MAX and suffered persistent manufacturing problems. But he said the high number of electrical failures reported on MAX planes could be explained by wiring and components degrading while the aircraft sat in storage for up to 20 months.” • Oh great.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 28 Fear (previous close: 28 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 19 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 28 at 1:54 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Interest Rates. “Rates are being pushed up by higher inflation” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 189. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) I’ve been waiting for the Rapture Index to hit the all time high again. Now it has.

The Gallery

Write it:

News of the Wired

“Did I make it harder to sell your crappy, used crypto mining graphics card? Good” [TechRadar]. “A used graphics card just isn’t a good purchase right now. I said so, and I have no interest in making it easier for a lot of shady crypto miners to sell their worn-out GPUs by holding my tongue on this…. My interest is our entire readership, and given current inflation and cost-of-living issues, a lot of readers might be tempted to buy a used RTX 3080. I advised them that they might be buying a lemon and that there’s no way to tell a good card from a bad one.” • News you can use for gamers in the readership.

* * *

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 RM:

RM writers: “After two years of serious drought up in the short grass prairie, it’s nice to see this little display. I have been on serious notice that they are NOT to be mowed over.”

* * *

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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.


  1. jr

    Video about the incredibly low levels of water in Lake Mead:


    The narrator mentions that the lake has become even more dangerous to boat in because you can run into rocks easily. Even in good times, the wind can whip us waves of 3′ in a pretty short period of time.

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      Lake Powell is also in the same state. This is serious and shows no signs of improving, instead gets worse faster than expected.

        1. JBird4049

          With our luck, I suspect that either the drought will continue for another century or five until the West is just dried dust or in a few years rains like that of 1982 with its record king tide will come; the hills are already dying and what was the topsoil will just slither down the mountains and hills. I am sure that the many who live near rivers like the Russian and the Sacramento would be completely surprised.

  2. flora

    I’m so glad the politicians and the courts are finding ways to re-unite the country. Let’s see, a proxy war with RU, inflation through the roof, shortages and promises of more shortage, economic stress, and now reversing Roe. What will they come up next month and this fall to make us all even more united in togetherness as we head toward the polls? / ;)

    1. nippersdad

      China’s aggression against the Bikini Atoll cannot be ignored! Send out the Navy!

    2. griffen

      Locusts, the plague redux. But wait, weren’t the cicadas out last year in the US midwest?

      Or, a hurricane reaching category 6. Which isn’t a real thing, I don’t believe.

    3. LilD

      2022 doesn’t seem to be a better season than 2021. Only half of the episodes remaining. We need a new show runner.

  3. Jason Boxman

    The BA.5 story

    There is no right answer but variant chasing is a flawed approach. By the time a BA.5 vaccine booster is potentially available, who knows what will be the predominant strain? All of this gets back to the vital need for new generation of vaccines that are universal, that is variant-proof—either against all sarbecoviruses or against all β-coronaviruses. And the pivotal importance of nasal vaccines to promote mucosal immunity and help block the transmission chain. These goals are paramount, along with more and better antiviral drugs, but they are not getting adequate traction or priority.

    We’re all pretty screwed. No wonder I can’t focus at work ever. The United States is a country in terminal decline. Sleepy Biden can’t even be roused over Roe. His presidency is just elder abuse by the liberal Democrat establishment.

    1. will rodgers horse

      Here is the thing: Topol can wish for everyone to get a pony too but that doesn’t mean it will happen. WE do not have any solid reason to believe that we can develop a vaccine here that will prevent transmission and be universal. With flu we are nowhere close to that after 50 years.
      Now it might happen. But suggesting that is the likely solution is being willfully ignorant

  4. jr

    Apparently the Russians are serious about a nuclear strike on EU capitals:


    Someone mentioned people’s inability to believe in or perhaps even conceive of a nuclear war. I think it was yesterday. I have encountered this phenomenon on more than one occasion. The idea seems to be that no one would do such a thing. No one would push the button. I mention the fact that there are people perfectly willing to do such a thing and they shake their heads. Too much of a bummer, I guess, to consider.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>kill anyone who promotes nuclear war

        I remember the second half of the Cold War and look back with a shudder at all the movies, documentaries, books, and newspaper and magazine articles about any nuclear war as essentially The End, for civilization, if not humanity. If thirty years of living this did not work, I’m already dead, and so I do not need another depressing book.

        What I want to know is why anyone born before 1975 (about two decades before it ended) or has access to any of the stuff I was bombard with would actually do so?

        Fortunately, I am not Pelosi, Feinstein, McConnell, or Biden. Although, technically, the Four Ghouls of the Apocalypse are still alive. Kamala the Valley Girl is alive albeit soulless, heartless, and thoughtless. Since they are only alive in the technical sense, maybe they do not care? And Kamala is too terrified of being found out how empty a person she is and would rather us all die to not be found out.

    1. britzklieg

      PolygraphInfo: https://twitter.com/PolygraphInfo
      Get facts, understand context. Journalists at Voice of America investigate global misinformation & disinfo, finding truth and debunking lies



      https://theintercept.com/2022/04/11/nuclear-weapons-biden-russia-strike-policy/ : BIDEN’S NUCLEAR STRIKE POLICY IS THE SAME AS RUSSIA’S

      https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3648&context=lcp : THE VOICES OF AMERICA IN INTERNATIONAL RADIO PROPAGANDA

    2. JTMcPhee

      Doing my daily war pron circuit, Telegraph’s Intel Slava Z has a bunch of pictures apparently released by Russian sources. High-res satellite images of the hearts of each of the major Combined West capital cities, and the Pentagon of course. Unlike other images put out by “right wing” types, there’s no crosshairs or target reticle centered on the images. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/sarah-palins-crosshairs-ad-focus-gabrielle-giffords-debate/story?id=12576437

      I hope our careless, fearless leaders, who at least have a chance at getting to their bunkers before the Big Boom, get the message. But as forking idiotic as they are, maybe they just keep reciting “let them eat cake.. . Apres nous le deluge…”

      1. JBird4049

        Apres nous le deluge…” Since they appear to think death by radium poisoning is no big thing, that might be more a more appropriate saying than you might think, as radium water, AKA radioactive water was big early in the 20th Century. Radiation sure was popular. Along with coin operated x-ray devices to see the bones of your hands for the entertainment, which my Mom insist was a thing that she used. Can’t find those, but I have found shoe-fitting fluoroscopes. So, I guess that was a thing.

        For a good shudder, just read about the Radium Girls along with Radium Jaw along with the earlier phossy jaw, which are also known as radium and phosphorus necrosis of the jaw respectively. Just be sure to do so in the sunlight and a favorite pet or plant.

        If we survive the next century, somebody is going write about us surviving the then to be previous two or three centuries as a wonder of an age.

        1. fjallstrom

          I read about radioactive hair removal.

          You just moved the radioactive miracle dodad over the areas where you wanted to get rid of unsightly body hair, and the hair fell right of!

  5. jr

    God that photo of Kablabla Harris is so obviously staged. The hand under the chin is supposed to reassure us that she is weighing the situation carefully, thoughtfully. I watched a video of her being interviewed on CNN. She thought of the overturning of Roe as the “daughter of a woman, and a granddaughter of a woman.”:


    When pressed about killing the filibuster, she said they don’t have the votes.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Has anyone told Manchin yet that they would deep six his wife’s cushy sinecure if he didn’t get his mind right on this or any number of other issues? If not, then we have to assume they don’t really want the votes if they do nothing to try to get them.

        1. Late Introvert

          And they’re actively attacking anyone who complains about it. People are getting paid to attack critics of the Dim Rats.

          1. JBird4049

            We need Lyndon Baines Johnson back. He was a corrupt, conniving, sleazy politico who would have ginsu’d, baked, broiled, oiled, and finally just boiled the Senate. He also gave a darn about something other than just money. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would not have a clue as to what happened to them even after the doing.

      1. neo-realist

        He’s bought and paid for, he doesn’t care and anything along the lines of screwing the wife or daughter would cause him to go republican or independent and the President would lose the Senate and the ability to, at the very least, confirm judges. That’s pretty much all he’s been good for and Biden got a lot of district court judges to counter the reactionary troglodytes selected by Trump.

          1. Acacia

            Given the staged AF2 photo, I first read her statement as: “We’re on this flight together”.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Kamala is on AF2 is she not?

        There is a Presidential seal at top left, so I don’t think it’s a private plane (unless the President and Vice-President carry a seal around with them, like Hunter Thompson carried the National Affairs Desk.

        1. caucus99percenter

          > like Hunter Thompson carried the National Affairs Desk

          Immediately calls to mind the photo of the man carrying the House Speaker’s lectern…

          I would have loved to see what Hunter Thompson would have been doing at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and what he would have written about it.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Kamala Harris wants people to know that she is doing something. She is watching television.

      1. Pavel

        And what about the global warming they keep talking about? Can’t they just outfit her with some model of Gulfstream? Or just let her do a zoom conference. God that woman is so annoying in so many ways.

  6. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the Capitol Seizure

    If this case is really going to turn on whether Trump floated the idea of seating alternate electors (and I’m still not sure by what mechanism that would overturn an election given that the number of electoral votes a candidate wins is already well known in advance, electors casting votes a couple months later is essentially a formality, and attempts to mess with it would be transparently obvious), then I’m really at a loss to explain why what seems to me to be the exact same idea was OK when it was being run up the flagpole to benefit Clinton.

    Is it because she claimed not to be involved with the effort, despite also not doing anything to discourage or disavow it? And do they really expect Trump not to point this out?!? I swear, it’s just blatant stupid everywhere you look these days.

    1. fresno dan

      I remember quite a bit about “faithless electors”
      Backers of Hamilton Electors are also preparing a wave of lawsuits challenging 29 state laws that purport to bind electors to the results of the statewide popular vote. These laws have never been enforced or tested, and many constitutional scholars believe they conflict with the Founders’ vision of the Electoral College as a deliberative body. Courtroom victories, they hope, will embolden other electors to join their cause.

      Well, is the electoral college a “deliberative body?” Like most things in politics, if it benefits you at that time and place, perfectly copacetic. If it doesn’t, than it most assuredly is not constitutional, presages the demise of the USA, and is a terrible bad thing. If there ever were any good sports in politics, there aren’t anymore…
      What is interesting is the not 29 states…uh, where is my calculator…oh yeah, 21 states where apparently the elector can vote for whom he/she pleases. Is it only norms that make them vote for the winner?
      And of course, I always must mention that California gets two senators to represent about 40 million, while the 40 million or so in 22 of the smallest states get 44 senators. So I can’t get too worked up about representation. Not to mention, as far as I can tell, all our representatives anyway work to represent the wealthiest anyway.

    2. Questa Nota

      The performativity, or maybe some other words like kayfabe, bullshit or {family blog} gets more refined with each incoming administration.

      Here are some elements:
      Limited Hangout
      Dirty up the opposition, which could even be members of one’s own party
      Ignore patently obvious
      Spin as second-nature, prevaricate as indicated
      Enlist trusted coerced media stenographers and talking heads
      Posturing, mixed in with talking points
      Finish in time for cocktails

      Curiously missing: addressing constituent concerns honestly, objectively, openly

  7. LawnDart

    New quotes? How about Job 3:3 (I prefer the full passage, but this snippet should suffice):

    Let the day perish wherein I was born, And the night which said, There is a man-child conceived.

    1. The Rev Kev

      How about this one-

      ‘There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.’ – Søren Kierkegaard

    2. LawnDart

      To add a more Soviet flavor, allow me to add a few by the poet Odarchenko:

      Black as lead
      The water bore
      Oblivion forevermore


      The snake is cut to pieces
      But still not dead
      The pieces will regrow
      And live again

      But I have a feeling this won’t do it for Lambert. I’ll need to step back from the day, do some thinking, then return to the subject: new quotes.

  8. flora

    re: As Prohibition became a nationwide reality, Americans rapidly changed their mind about the idea. Support for Prohibition declined, then collapsed. Not only was the Volstead Act repealed, in 1933,…

    FDR chose Happy Days Are Hear Again for his 1932 campaign theme song. ( This clip from a 1930 movie had to show a dry nightclub. ) / ;)


    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m descended from people who could make Prohibition-era bathtub gin like nobody’s business. According to my aunt, it was good stuff.

      1. LawnDart

        Half of one side were “friendly farmers” in NorCal, 60s-70s, the other half-of-a-half were high-level LE. Family gatherings were… …interesting.

      2. skk

        At the Greek Festival on Sat, ( yeah my risk assessment is to goto outdoor dos) I got chatting and shared my tele. # with someone who said he makes a really good retsina. I offered to swap MJ with him or for cash. Likelihood of me getting a call back when its ready?. Pretty low.
        But nothing ventured in Ventura…..nothing etc etc.

      3. Jack Pine

        Same. 2xGreat Grandad brewed for the Purple Gang. Spent the final year dry year in Leavenworth for his enterprising though.

  9. flora

    re: Hawley and GOP expansion.

    The Dem estab abandoned many Midwestern flyover states years ago.

  10. RockHard

    Re: CoinFlex

    Matt Levine covered this today and has covered related crypto things recently. His take is mostly that there’s a massive amount of leverage, with the same coin being used as collateral in multiple places, and in addition, while these things look like banking products, they’re not, partly because they aren’t regulated like banks. For example, talking about Coinflex, he wrote

    1. There are no regulatory capital requirements, and crypto banks often seem quite proud to be running at roughly zero equity. Tether, the biggest crypto bank, boasts of its 0.2% capital ratio; if the value of its assets declines by more than 0.2%, depositor money is at risk. Tether also boasts of its transparency, and while that is a bit silly, it is the case that for many other crypto-bank-type entities it is harder to guess how much equity capital they have.

    2. There is no prudential supervision, and crypto banks think nothing of concentrating, like, a third of their customers’ money in a single loan. We talked last week about Voyager Digital Ltd., another crypto bank, which had about a 4.3% capital ratio but loaned out more than twice its total capital to one hedge fund that went bust.

    3. Also, because there is no prudential supervision, crypto banks will sometimes concentrate their money in loans to their affiliates. The fact that Ver is both an investor in CoinFlex and a big borrower from CoinFlex is pretty standard in crypto even though it would be very bad in traditional banking. It is bad because, if your big borrower is also your big backer, you might be inclined to give him a special deal like, for instance, promising not to foreclose on his collateral even if he doesn’t meet margin calls.

    1. Skippy

      Smells like the Free[tm] Banking Period, Tastes like the Free[tm] Banking Period, ZOMG … its the Digital Free[tm] Banking period ….

      History is just rife with this stuff yet the same ideologues in a synergy with moneyed backers keep revisiting this blight on humanity and call it Freedom[tm] …

      1. RockHard

        Levine wrote in the same article that crypto has recreated the banking environment from 2008. It’s almost like people want to crash the banking system

  11. Lou Anton

    Why does Hawley assume that purple goes red? Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio (maybe red at this point?), Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Georgia — I guess he thinks the striking down of Roe will galvanize Republican support in state and national elections? Maybe, but could easily swing the other way, right? Maybe the occasional swing voter (“normie” if I borrow the term from Matt Stoller) decides this is all officially bat-sh-t crazy and swings purple states blue.

    1. ambrit

      My question is; what is the next step considering that we have now removed the “Overturn Roe v Wade” funds raising engine from the Republican political machine? Does the Republican nomenklatura go even harder Right? That will get very ugly, and there is ample ‘fertile ground’ for such a Rightward expansion of the Republican ‘cosmos.’

      1. fresno dan

        I imagine I will get my head handed to me, but I don’t think abortion will be a big issue for dems or repubs – sure, for partisans and cable news, I think the abortion wars will continue, but I think the descrease in the number of abortions will be about 20%.

        (from the article) Blue states aren’t going to be restricting abortion at all, and their governors say they intend to use taxpayer dollars to cover the costs for women traveling from other states to get an abortion. Fourteen states have “trigger laws” that have already banned or will soon ban all or most abortions — Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. (Wisconsin has a ban that its Democratic governor says will not be enforced.)

        In most of those states, abortion clinics were already few and far between. The abortion rate in places such as Alabama (6.3 per 1,000 women) and Arkansas (5.1) is significantly lower than the rate in places such as the District of Columbia (23.9) and New York (20.3).
        Abortion via pills will be exceptionally tough to regulate or eliminate. Telehealth will allow those who want chemical abortions to consult doctors in other states. And we may well see abortion clinics set up shop near state lines in abortion-permitting states that border those where it’s banned.

        The end of Roe may well launch a new era where America has somewhat fewer abortions, and those who seek to terminate their pregnancies travel to the nearest pro-abortion state or obtain abortion pills through the mail. This is neither “The Handmaid’s Tale”–style misogynist dystopia that the pro-choice crowd warns about, nor the child-welcoming utopia that pro-lifers wish to see.

        There will be an effort to enact federal legislation, but it is difficult to see either pro-lifers or pro-choice forces attaining the necessary legislative majorities to do so. Assuming this year’s midterms shake out as expected, the US will have divided government until at least January 20, 2025, and abortion legislation from one side would face a filibuster from the other. Lawmakers would need not merely legislative majorities in both houses and control of the presidency, but majorities who think imposing policy changes on resistant states is a good idea.
        Will there be poor women who will not be able to travel or get a prescription for an abortion? Yes, but just like how many decades have the homeless and the people without medical access been ignored? Some issues will never resolve…

        1. Big River Bandido

          I agree with your assessment, fresno dan. I would sum it up thusly: now it’s their turn to hold the hot potato.

          Because of the intensely personal nature of abortion, post-Dobbs politicians will have to tame their anti-abortion rhetoric if they want to maintain a governing coalition. The shift in who holds the cards changes everything about the political calculus.

        2. GC54

          A single “morning after” pill costs $59! Locked away but “in principle” over the counter if the clerk can actually find the key. This was my wife’s experience yesterday when she sought to buy a pill “in case” for our two 20 something daughters. Succeeded eventually. Pharmacist said the pills come from Hungary and there has been quite a demand for them recently in this purple state with red whackjob legislature.

      2. Fraibert

        It seems to me that the smartest way forward for the Republicans is to switch to other issues that have higher immediate importance to the public (particularly inflation and the economy in general). If pro-life advocates complain, leadership could point to their big victory in _Roe_ as grounds to give other concerns priority and even issue a counterdemand for political support in these other areas.

        It’s hard to say if leadership would take that tact and I’m not sure it’s even a viable approach due to intraparty politics. But, realistically, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable response given that there’s only so much bandwidth to push on particular issues and the Republicans really did deliver a meaningful result in the abortion area.

  12. antidlc

    RE: “America Is Sliding Into the Long Pandemic Defeat”

    “For me, the pervasive sense that the United States has just given up is very, very hard to bear;…”

    It is profoundly depressing that they are doing nothing to control the spread, causing so many to get sick and then get sick again. According to https://charts.medriva.com/us
    219 people died yesterday and there were 93,475 new cases. 20% will develop long COVID.

    All the while the virus mutates.

    All because of an upcoming election:

    Many policy makers have moved on: “We’re heading into the midterms, and I think there’s a real desire to show confidence that they’ve solved this,” Céline Gounder, an infectious-disease specialist and the editor at large for public health at Kaiser Health News, told me.

    From my little corner of the world, people have just decided they are going to get it, and when they do get it, it will be “mlld”. If you try to explain that people can get very, very sick, they just don’t want to hear it. If you try to bring up long COVID, they have convinced themselves that long COVID won’t happen to them. When you try to educate them on the real dangers of brain damage or organ damage, they just tune out.

    So congratulations, Biden administration. Mission accomplished.

    1. Thistlebreath

      Time to re read a couple of high school-era short stories.

      “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

      “The Masque of the Red Death” by E.A. Poe

      Today’s Costco run revealed 5-10% of shoppers wore masks, me included. In a chain drugstore, just me.

    2. JTMcPhee

      What can we mopes expect from the vast corruption in the political class? We got a president who buys prostitutes for his corrupt looter son, pols engaged in orgies, bribery all around, murder to cover crimes, every “justice” organization in on it. https://townhall.com/columnists/derekhunter/2019/10/03/how-real-corruption-in-dc-works-n2554047

      And no wonder most of us are kind of throwing up our hands. There’s a few who are trying to create commensal communities and autarkic lifestyles. But it’s not like a lot of us aren’t childless, and even if we have kids, they’re more like bespoke accouterments to a rancid lifestyle, so why worry about what happens in the future or even the immediate present?

      1. albrt

        I am happy to be childless, so I will not attempt to speak for the originators of the current crop of bespoke accoutrements.

        What I will say is that when it comes to conserving resources for the future, humans collectively have exactly the same level of self-restraint as yeast. There is simply no point in being the one person who conserves more than is thought to be necessary for virtue signaling among one’s immediate circle.

  13. Chas

    About the quotes at the top of the page — I’ve been looking at the Talleyrand quote for what, a few years now at least, and long thought I understood it, but now it seems the more I look at it the more confused I get. If they learned nothing then there’s nothing to forget. I think if would have been better if Talleyrand said They had learned nothing and forgotten everything. That way it doubles down on their stupidity. I wonder if it comprehends differently in the original French.

    1. Balakirev

      I think Talleyrand means, “They have learned nothing since I last considered them, and they have forgotten none of their old, vicious habits of thought.” At least, that’s my take on it, for what it’s worth.

      1. Lee

        Or they just obdurately refuse to learn from their well remembered errors. They are malevolent fools.

    2. chris

      I’ve always taken that quote to mean they learned nothing about why they were removed from power, and upon being returned to it, had forgotten nothing about how to abuse power in such a way that the people would be tempted to remove them again.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t think I will change them all.

        I’m want cynical realistic, but not nihilistic. Not so easy these days!

        I was thinking of “The people of America [live] in the world’s most surprising and terrible country.” –Neal Stephensen, Snow Crash

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Talleyrand quote

      “Learned nothing” — They took no lessons from the beheading of Louis XVI in the French Revolution.

      “Forgotten nothing” — Bourbon Alzheimers, they forget everything but the grudges (and there are a lot of grudges).

  14. none

    News from Gunville: California’s DOJ has apparently doxxed all of California’s CCW permit holders (put their names/addresses/permit details. online). It’s unclear whether this was accidental or intentional. It includes permit holders such as judges, whose info is supposed to be exempt from FOIA. The release was supposedly for “transparency” but I think they only meant for it to be statistical info rather than PII.

    The statistical info is very visible but you have to apparently do some slightly obscure clicking around to get to the PII. Gun people on reddit are expecting a wave of gun thefts, rental and employment denials, etc. They are asking readers to not publicize the exact path to the PII but they say it is not too hard to figure out. I haven’t tried to access it myself, and don’t intend to.

    I got this link through an outdoor related chat– I’m not a subscriber so I might be missing some context:


  15. ghiggler

    > Capitol Seizure

    I’ve always had some difficulty naming the events of 1/6.

    Riot is inadequate in two ways – on the one hand riots seem more spontaneous and less directed, on the other a fair number took part out of a sense of community, as an “I was there” experience, or just a selfie opportunity.

    Coup implies organized military under orders taking over the streets and institutions to effect abnormal political change, and that was not the case.

    Insurrection has the feeling of armed citizens self-organizing to take over the streets and institutions to effect abnormal political change, and that was not the really the case.

    I usually described it as a crowd that fueled a riot and finally an incursion into the Capitol.

    The hearings have made it clear that, at the highest levels, there was both planning ahead of the event and no surprise at what happened during the event; the level of violence was constrained; specific goals were to be achieved.

    At this point calling it a “special political operation” makes most sense.

           The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.

    ― Confucius

    1. jr

      “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.”

      Wow, we need this carved in 100 mile tall letters into the face of the moon.

      1. ghiggler

        Yves has used this at least as far back as 2008, so it has a venerable NC history.

        It is attributed to or paraphrased from Confucius in Analects XIII, so it has an even more venerable Chinese history.

        I saw it most recently in a comment by Alice X and it resonated. In my lives as mathematician and IT/business consultant it was always important to be clear on terms and to all use them the same way, otherwise poop.

    2. jonhoops

      It is what is called a “Soft Coup”, a coup by extra legal or dubious legal means. Not all coups have a military component.

      Examples would be the Carwash Affair in Brazil to remove Lula. The removal of Gough Whitlam in Australia in 1975 by the CIA.

      The novel and TV series “A Very British Coup” also lays out this kind of scenario.

  16. EGrise

    My candidate for a new quotation:

    “Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?”

    — Axel Oxenstierna, Swedish statesman, often attributed to Cardinal Richelieu

    1. ghiggler

      But see also:

              never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

      — Hanlon’s razor (Wikipedia)

  17. shinola

    There was a Jan 6 hearing this afternoon, apparently scheduled on short notice (at least I hadn’t previously heard about it); fortunately (for me anyway) it preempted a soap that my wife records, so I watched a good chunk of it.

    An aide to Mark Meadows (Cassidy Hutchinson) who was at the White House on the 6th testified to what she observed/heard going on between Trump, Meadows & some other advisors that seems to be pretty damning… I’m sure it will be in/on the news this evening.

    1. lambert strether

      That’s what I see on the Twitter. I’ll wait for coverage from a venue other than WaPo…

      1. Michael Ismoe

        I want someone to tell me how they expect to convict him? Half the country voted for him and half didn’t. Is the jury composed only of people with the last name “Cheney”? Merrick Garland is going to do what? Really? Without Sleepy Joe’s approval?

        I can’t wait for 2024 and the inevitable Not Guilty verdict. “I’m Donald Trump and I’m the ONLY candidate who has proved I’ve never broken the law.” The more the Dems huff and puff, the more they box themselves in. By the end of this, Trump will be getting The Presidential Medal at the Kennedy Center.

        1. albrt

          Nobody anywhere in the USDOJ is capable of prosecuting anything other than child porn and harassment cases against whistleblowers, so there will probably not be a prosecution coming out of this. Certainly not a successful one.

          That said, I am hearing unexpected things from partisans around me, just based on having things aired out. I was really glad to have the “suitcases of ballots” nonsense addressed. Some Republicans I know are taking the fake electors thing pretty seriously.

          The results will be more cultural than judicial, but this is an overly dynamic situation as Lambert likes to say, and it is hard to predict what will cause what.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > That said, I am hearing unexpected things from partisans around me, just based on having things aired out. I was really glad to have the “suitcases of ballots” nonsense addressed. Some Republicans I know are taking the fake electors thing pretty seriously.

            Yes, me too, both on Trump hassling election officials and the fake electors thing.

            I will say that if criminal indictments don’t come out of this hearing, it’s pretty much worthless. For example, we have many many examples of Trump being unhappy with what people around him were telling him. We have very few examples of Trump actually doing what people tell him he can’t do. Generally, he drops the matter and moves on to another person. America being run like a business, I guess.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Cassidy Hutchinson

      The usual suspects are in full “the walls are closing in!” mode. But then they do that a lot.

      So I have to read it, look at what was actually said, and so on. (Adding: I hardly ever “watch” movies, let alone “Made for TV” hearings. Too much potential for manipulation.

      1. caucus99percenter

        > hardly ever “watch” movies, let alone “Made for TV” hearings. Too much potential for manipulation

        Sound counter-suggestability hygiene. A fundament of NC and Water Cooler integrity and excellence.

  18. marym

    Josh Hawley
    “I would look for Republicans, as a result of this in time, to extend their strength in the Electoral College,” he said. “And that’s very good news for those of us who want to see Republican presidents elected, that want to see a Supreme Court that remains conservative permanent minority rule.”

  19. Reader_In_Cali

    Hello NC commentariat! I have a bit of a pantry clean out of anecdotes, for funsies:

    1) In the last 2 months I’ve gotten about 4 political polls that had a heavy emphasis on DeSantis v Trump (awareness and views of DeSantis, ditto for Trump, etc.). He’s def running. I find it a bit odd that I’m getting polled so frequently, particularly about R’s, as a registered D in California (I do this for convenience. CA is a one party state, as we all know). Perhaps it’s due to me voting for the Green Party candidate for president in both 2016 and 2020?

    2) Personal anecdote on the COVID front – On election day in SF, June 7th, I was volunteering and doing dispatch. I’m usually very vigilant about masking, but for whatever reason I decided not to for the majority of the day (not smart!). For over 12 hours I was sitting *maybe* a foot from another woman volunteering with me at the dining room table at which we’d setup our operation, she was also unmasked the majority of the day. She was complaining of an upset stomach for part of the day, which we all wrote off as bad nerves given the stress of this being election day. Wednesday morning she let us know she had a fever, and was getting tested for COVID. Her test came back positive. And another volunteer who was also present for a portion of the day tested positive that Thursday (though he wasn’t nearly as close to her as I). I tested at home and got a PCR test on Friday, though I was feeling fine, because I was sure I had contracted it since I was so close for so long to the index patient. Both tests were negative. I was shocked! There was minimal ventilation in the house via 2 open windows, but not a ton. Maybe that’s what did it? Or maybe I can attribute not getting sick to being on the FLCCC protocol since early 2021 (though I had to sub out IVM for Black Seed Oil once the former got harder to come by. I also add in CBD daily due to the NIH study findings). I got both of the Pfizer jabs in the spring of 2021, and declined betting a booster. Also, the other volunteer who was present also tested negative, too.

    The second anecdote is to say, I’m immensely grateful for the work Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, IM Doc, GM, Ignacio (everyone really!) have done over the course of the pandemic, specifically, to help inform readers. I attribute the fact that I have never tested positive for COVID to this tireless work. Thank you!

    1. Jason Boxman

      declined betting a booster

      Betting is apropos for the booster, as well, I think.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I bought some black cumin seeds at the food co-op. Grinding them up into powder is fairly easy with the Vitamix. What’s left is quite tasty when added to kefir with a splash of elderberry syrup.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’m immensely grateful for the work Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, IM Doc, GM, Ignacio (everyone really!) have done over the course of the pandemic, specifically, to help inform readers. I attribute the fact that I have never tested positive for COVID to this tireless work. Thank you!

      You’re welcome!

        1. caucus99percenter

          It’s impressive how Turkey throws its weight around and succeeds almost every time.

          The best example would be the ongoing military occupation of half the territory of Cyprus, an E.U. member — no one says a thing. Compare and contrast (a) Turkey’s setting up of a “Turkish republic” on Cyprus with (b) Russia’s recognition of Donbass and Luhansk republics as separate from Ukraine.

          Perhaps the one exception to Turkey prevailing in recent years would be its helplessness vis-à-vis Israel’s killing of nine Turkish nationals on board the Mavi Marmara Gaza peace flotilla.

  20. ghiggler

    > Capitol Seizure / Video deposition:
    Liz Cheney:
            General, do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America?

    Mike Flynn
    This was/is a special political operation…

  21. ChrisRUEcon


    We started low with “Snake On A Plane”, but ended on a high note with “Voting Blue Is Not Enough! Democrats We Call Your Bluff!!

    Once again, the order of links … ::chef’s kiss::

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      China is going to have the least COVID-affected workforce in the world. Good on them! They feel safe moving from what a friend of mine called the 14+7 policy (2 weeks at point of disembarkation + one week at final destination) to a 7+3 because Omicron has a shorter incubation period.


      “This relaxation sends the signal that the economy comes first,” said Li Changmin, Managing Director at Snowball Wealth in Guangzhou. “It is a sign of importance of the economy at this point.”

      Really, Mr. Changmin?? Just who is this “Snowball Wealth”?!!

      LOL … student (and other) debt refinancing app (via snowballwealth.com) … yep! What’s a predatory US financial company doing in China?! Jeez, Bloomberg couldn’t find someone less odious to comment?!

      “And with inflation just over 2% — in contrast to more than 8% in the US — the People’s Bank of China is in a sweet spot that allows authorities to focus on policy stimulus.”

      Funny that eh? I guess when you are the supply chain – as in you manufacture the stuff yourself, and your energy needs can be met by cheaper oil from an international pariah, I guess 2% is pretty good, yeah. Is there no price gouging in China?!! WTH?

      “This news suggests that perhaps the authorities will not be as stringent with Covid controls as has been expected,” said Jane Foley, a strategist at Rabobank in London.

      Easy there, Jane … this is not like #PolioBoJo’s “let ‘r rip”, ok?! So perhaps curb you enthusiasm.

  22. skk

    Re 2nd hand graphics cards article
    It’s not just gamers who’ve felt the pinch because of crypto mining and who may gain with its collapse. I use them for deep learning\AI/machine learning ; their vector processing capabilities really speed things up. There is a whole eco system around this, cf tensorflow, torch.Graphics card prices have stayed stable,gone up some in the last 4. years. For me that’s new. Like for like, base on 30 year history of chips,, they should have dropped 75% or trade as junk.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “America Is in the ‘Figure It Out Yourself’ Era of the Pandemic”

    Just a minor quibble here. There is this new term of ‘Figure it out yourself’ that I am seeing but I do not think that it adequately captures the present situation. And that is why I favour another term seen often here as in ‘You’re on your own.’

    Meanwhile, I see that Melbourne here in Oz is really having their hospitals slammed. Last night for several hours if you called the emergency number (000 in Oz), there was literally no ambulances available to send as in n-o-n-e. They were all parked outside the main hospitals with patients in them due to high demand and staff off sick. So I guess that this is the new norm now.

    1. Jason Boxman

      On the NY Times COVID tracker, Australia has been dark red for a few months now. Terrifying.

      Stay safe out there!

    2. paul

      Make sure things are so terrible the new rent optimised options seem acceptable.

      It’s worked for most of my adult life.

      If it ain’t broke, break it anyway.

      ‘Good business is where you find it’© the creators of robocop, Neumeier,Miner

    3. ChrisRUEcon

      Stay safe, Rev …

      Similar here in Illinois. The COVID transmission map has been largely red for months now, but the hospitalization ebbs and flows. Seems like we’re at an ebb, but BA5 comin’

  24. Louis Fyne

    lmao, pundits acting like DeSantis beating Trump would be a “good” thing (from a progressive point of view).

    DeSantis has an actual worldview and ideology; and is an affable politican with smarts. Trump is a crass, discrete dealmaker who would have been happy to cut deals if Democrats just offered one.

    Please Spaghetti Monster let DeSantis win, only because I want to see progressive pundits/activists head explode over one more thing that they mess up and enjoy some schaudenfreude while living in the worst timeline ever

  25. Noone from Nowheresville

    Sen Hawley: It’s nice to know that both sides are anticipating a multi-decade battle. I hope the political social clubs get surprised and that it’s a battle that neither political social club is prepared for.

  26. Lex

    As a neighbor of Lake Superior I’m not surprised by the response tweet. Thankfully the response was not to the point of anger. If you’ve ever seen superior in anger, you know. Absolutely terrifying.

  27. Acacia

    From the data perspective, the CDC is a controlled flight into terrain, with all the instruments dead.

    Or, as I mused in yesterday’s WC, the instruments were insouciantly turned off.

  28. Art_DogCT

    For quote consideration:

    “Let me say, at the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”

    Che Guevara

  29. JTMcPhee

    Quote, from Baron Harkonnen in Dune:

    “A certain amount of killing has always been an arm of business.”

    Or Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22:

    “What’s good for the syndicate is good for everybody. It’s a syndicate, and everyone has a share.”

  30. tommy s.

    I’ve been reading about the bail system for like 15 years, and Taibbi did great work on this too. But that thread you just posted really put me in a rage…In a democrat city, in a democrat controlled state too. I live in SF, so a bit better here…..but the LA jail has always been horrible. At one point it was the largest ‘mental institution’ in the country……with no care of course. When does the country explode?

  31. super extra

    > OK primary results

    The special senate race will go to runoff between Mullin and TW Shannon – 43% to 18% – I haven’t been able to find a graph of the polling results over time but I would love to see what the internal polling on the messaging over the ads was, specifically the Mullin ‘trans kids’ one that got dropped the last two weeks and the Shannon ‘end birthright citizenship’ ad that got heavy play the same period. I will report back later in the season with each candidate’s (they’re both Trumpy, so this is probably A/B testing for the national issues)

    I am happy to report that noted lotion afficionado Scott Pruitt came in 5th with 5% of the vote.

    Interesting thing to keep an eye on: Hofmeister, the Democrat winner for the governor race (who changed parties to be able to run against the current governer I think), stated in her ads that she wants to ‘bring healthcare to all Oklahomans’. I think by this she means expanding the state’s version of “Medicare for all making <$25k/year" (Soonercare) to everyone.

  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    Among other things, Josh Hawley says . . . ” ‘More and more red states, they’re going to become more red, and purple states are going to become red, and the blue states are going to get a lot bluer,’ ”

    Does he just assume that purple states are going to go red? Or do the Republicans and the Conservatives already have a long plan ready to go to begin encouraging millions of blue minded people to leave the purple states? Is that how the blue states will get more deeply blue in the Hawley vision?

    The Democrats of course have a plan to stand by and watch it and raise money off it. Thats the Democrat Plan.

    What if tens of millions of non-Rightist people all decided on ways to contest the purple states from their direction . . . to do things to embluen the purple? Are there some states so evenly balanced or about to tip that more people moving into blue enclaves within purple states could make their population more heavily blue-weighted?

    Of course this color-coded talk is all ultra-simplified, but we know what we mean.

    By the way, back to Hawley’s ” the purple will go red” . . . i am reminded of the tension in North Carolina over the so-called “bathroom law”. But I only read one time what the North Carolina Republicans meant to achieve with that law. First, the law had all kinds of pro-upper-class bans on local regions enacting living wage laws, etc. That trans bathroom material was put in strictly to troll the Performative Liberals of the whole country. The NC Republicans saw that fast-growing parts of NC were getting more and more “blue-voting” immigrants. The NC Republicans decided to put that “trans bathroom” material into the bill to troll the Performative Liberals all around the country into “boycotting North Carolina”, because the parts of North Carolina they would boycott happened to be the parts that were growing fast and attracting blue people. So if they could get a boycott started against North Carolina, that boycott would affect the parts of the state where more Blue people were moving. It might even degrade the economy in those blue zones to where blue people already there would move away. So the Republicans were already practicing politically targetted economic and population attrition and degradation policies against the parts of North Carolina they were losing control over. And they counted on the Liberals of the Nation to be too stupid to understand that was the North Carolina Republicans’ strategically planned-out goal all along.
    That was some applied Hawleyism early on.

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