By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Whoops, came unstuck in time, there. Date in title now fixed! –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Common Nightingale (golzii), Hunting Cabins, Almaty oblysy, Kazakhstan
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
“Doug Mastriano Is A Clear And Present Danger To Democracy” [Jennifer Cohn, Bucks County Beacon]. Cohn is very sound on paper ballots, and completely sold on RussiaGate [sigh]. “Mastriano, who spread one of the most blatant lies about the 2020 election, would get to choose the state’s top election official, the secretary of state, if elected in November. This has enormous implications for the 2024 presidential election because Pennsylvania carries a whopping 20 electoral votes. The only swing state with more electoral votes is Florida…. Mastriano, a close ally of former President Trump, posted a tweet on November 27, 2020, that swapped primary and general election data, creating the false impression that more mail ballots had been counted than were sent out in Pennsylvania. Both Reuters and Trump’s own Attorney General, William Barr, have debunked the content of the tweet. ‘That was one of the big ones,’ Barr has said of this false claim, explaining that Mastriano had taken ‘the number of applications for the Republican primary and … compared it to the number of absentee votes cast in the general election,’ but if you looked at the numbers ‘apples to apples there’s no discrepancy.’…. Mastriano has never deleted or apologized for the tweet.”
“Narratology: State of the Theory” [The Rectification of Names]. This is a fun read. But here’s the last paragraph: “What [Trump] was waiting for that long afternoon was for his troops to win, over the purposely hobbled Capitol Police and absent national guardsmen, upon which the victors would invite him down to make his grand entrance.” • Wait. There’s no link for “purposely hobbled Capitol Police.” There should be, because we just saw the, well, conspiracy theory get larger, as they always do, as RussiaGate showed. Was Tarik Johnson suborned by Trump? If so, did I not get the memo from the House Commitee? (Here is the Executive Team of the Capitol Police. Who “purposely hobbled” the cops? Of course, after Uvalde, a perfectly acceptable answer would be “nobody but themselves.”)
“Vermont US Sen. Patrick Leahy breaks hip, to have surgery” [Associated Press] (10:45AM). “Any prolonged absence by Leahy would complicate majority Democrats’ already precarious efforts to push controversial legislation and nominations through the 50-50 Senate over Republican opposition.” • Ooof. Emperor Manchin. And now that the Senate is 49-50.
“Biden backs exception to Senate filibuster rule to get abortion rights codified” [ABC] 1:20 PM). Biden: “We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law. And the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes to do that. And if the filibuster gets in the way it’s like voting rights, it should be we provide an exception for this, except the required exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision.” • So ending the filibuster depends on an 82-year-old man recovering from hip surgery….
* * *
“U.S. Supreme Court ruling limits EPA’s authority in regulating greenhouse gases” [Texas Tribune]. “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have broad authority to require states to decarbonize their electricity sectors, a decision that is expected to dramatically slow the United States’ ability to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate the effects of climate change. The court’s 6-3 ruling on a case sparked by Texas and 16 other states — which addressed an Obama-era regulation aimed at coal-fired power plants, one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation — was a blow to President Joe Biden’s plan to reduce U.S. emissions and meet the country’s goals under international agreements. Now, it will be difficult for the U.S. to do its part to meet a 1.5-degree Celsius target that scientists have said is key to preventing extreme effects of climate change, experts said.” • I need to read more on this; my impression was that the decision was going to be an assault on the regulatory state as such. Here’s the opinion.
“Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in to Supreme Court” [Politico]. The first…. public defender on the Supreme Court. That’s actually encouraging! “Jackson’s placement on the court will have no impact on its ideological tilt. Justices appointed by Republican president still outnumber their Democrat-appointed colleagues by a 6-3 margin. Her ceremony Thursday was small and brief, attended by a small group that included her husband and daughters. A larger formal ceremony, or investiture, is expected at a later date.” • Appointed by a Republican president, and moved up every step of the ladder by Democrats, because they were, after all, “highly qualified.”
* * *
“Has Abortion Changed the Subject in the Minds of Enough Voters?” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Anyone who’s sure they know what the midterm-election implications of the events over the last few weeks will be is a) a fool, b) a cheerleader, c) really new to politics, or d) some combination of those. Until there is a whole lot more polling data, certainty is folly.” And even then! More: “If you’re sensing some skepticism that the Supreme Court decisions, mass slayings, and fallout from Jan. 6 could be determinative, that’s because it would be truly extraordinary for a midterm election to be about anything other than the performance of the Oval Office occupant and the governing party. Such elections usually turn on whether voters want to stay the course or if they think it is time for a change.” And: “Sooner or later, abortion and guns may very well bite Republicans on the rear end. But my money is on later, and not until the economy is in the same time zone as normal… Obviously a party headed into a midterm election under such circumstances, with a president averaging a 39 percent approval and 57 percent disapproval, is desperately looking for a change in venue. My guess is that it is unlikely the judges in this case will grant one.” • Yep.
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.
* * *
“Opinion The fall of Roe is the culmination of the Democratic establishment’s failures” [Perry Bacon, Jr., WaPo]. “Biden, Pelosi and the group of political and policy strategists who perpetually hold top jobs in Democratic politics have presided over disappointing results for more than a decade, setting the stage for the fall of Roe and the other struggles of 2021-2022 — most notably, the wipeout of Democrats in 2010 and 2014; Donald Trump’s victory in 2016; the narrower-than-expected Democratic win in 2020…. Pelosi, Biden and other Democratic leaders of course don’t sit on the Supreme Court or in state legislatures. But too many of them have been major players in the party over the past two decades as it has failed to create an apparatus of media, think tanks and other institutions to rival what exists on the right. They have been deeply involved in bland Democratic campaigns and candidates who often lose key races to Republicans, even as the GOP has much less popular policy goals…. it’s not that the Republican establishment has done better — it has lost half the time, too. The critical difference, though, is that there have been several different Republican establishments over the past two decades, allowing the party to test out different strategies. In contrast, the Democratic leadership has aggressively blocked fresher faces from having much of a role in the party’s decision-making. Instead, we have watched over the past 18 months as Democrats made many of the same strategic mistakes that they did in 2009 and 2010, with some of the same people involved in the foibles… ” So far so good. But then we come to this: “There is a real ideological divide between the center-left and left in the Democratic Party. But I think an equally and perhaps more important fissure is between the political approach of the Old Guard and those who embrace a modern style of politics, such as Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, California Gov. Gavin and Illinois Gov. J.B. ; Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Elizabeth [🐍] (Mass.); Reps. Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), Adam B. (Calif.), Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.); Boston Mayor Michelle Wu; Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried; and Transportation Secretary Pete .” • A-A-U-G-H-H-H-H!!!!!! My eyes!!!!!!! In what way are the underlined names “modern”? No mention of Sanders, of course, who ran perhaps the most modern campaigns of all in both 2016 and 2020, since he bypassed the sclerotic party apparatus entirely. If the first Sanders surge came in 2024, there might have been some union organizers on his staff, instead of Brooklynite wannabe professionals and intersectionality goons. Ah well, nevertheless, sometimes the gears just don’t mesh…
“Obama says abortion rights law not a top priority” [Reuters]. From 2009. Good times. Thanks, Obama!
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Teachers alarmed by state’s infusing religion, downplaying race in civics training” [Miami Herald]. “The civics training, which is part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative, underscores the tension that has been building around education and how classrooms have become battlegrounds for politically contentious issues. In Florida, DeSantis and the Republican-led Legislature have pushed policies that limit what schools can teach about race, gender identity and certain aspects of history.” • What, nobody’s advocating a unit on union organizing?
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.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is our first double winner of the coveted Sociopath of the Day Award
“Fauci says he’s taking 2nd course of Paxlovid after experiencing rebound with the antiviral treatment” [ABC]. “At this time, CDC states that there is currently no evidence that an additional treatment of Paxlovid, is needed, following a rebound. The Food and Drug Administration also says that ‘there is no evidence of benefit at this time for a longer course of treatment … or repeating a treatment course of Paxlovid in patients with recurrent COVID-19 symptoms following completion of a treatment course.’ The CDC currently recommends that doctors advise their patients with COVID-19 rebound to follow CDC’s guidance on isolation and take additional precautions to prevent transmission.” • And the only reason Dr. Anthony Fauci is getting a second treatment at all is that he’s Dr. Anthony Fauci and you’re not.
“The US COVID-19 surveillance environment: An ecological analysis of the relationship of testing adequacy in the context of vaccination” [Clinical Infectious Diseases]. Background: “COVID-19 testing is a critical component of public health surveillance and pandemic control, especially among the unvaccinated, as the nation resumes in-person activities.” Lol, no it’s not. That’s why we don’t do it.
“NIH-funded project offers efficient approach when tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants” [National Institutes of Health]. Original. “The research team proposed that genotyping could be effectively used for SARS-CoV-2 variant classification. Genotyping is a relatively low-cost, high-volume laboratory technique used by thousands of clinical laboratories across the country with minimal hardware and software requirements. The technique zeroes in on genetic reference points, or markers, and limits the intense process of sequencing a 30,000 base-pair SARS-CoV-2 genome to a focus set of about 45 or less of the relevant alterations that distinguish the variety of subvariants in circulation at a given time. It is performed with polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a technique that already makes up a portion of the laboratory testing for COVID-19. The team showed that known variants can be successfully identified in one to two days, for a fraction of the cost of next-generation sequencing.” • Good, although the funding was molasses-like. The Biden Administration abandoning the Operation Warp Speed business model was a massive dereliction of duty; we could and should have had this technology faster.
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 for the United States:
We now see a slight increase, 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 ~108,000. Today, it’s ~109,000, and 106,300 * 6 = a Biden line at 654,000. 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.
1.0%. (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:
Wastewater data (CDC), June 4 – June 18:
CDC’s wastewater chart is down again.
This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, regional (Biobot), June 8:
Out of date compared to Walgreens (below) but still showing doubling behavior.
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 15:
In 18 days, BA.4/5 has gone from 18 days, 9.66 to 28.47 (and this is not according to some sorta model, like CDC’s NowCast, which gives 35%). Nice doubling behavior, implying BA.4/5 should be happily dominant just in time for the travel weekend of July 4, good job everyone.
NOT UPDATED 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].
MORONIC CDC FAILS TO UPDATE “DAILY” REPORT YET AGAIN From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:
The West Coast is on fire again, as is Texas (but, oddly, not Florida). Illinois and West Virginia are heating up, too.
The previous release:
No matter what else the CDC butchered, they have published the Community Profile Report regular as clockwork since forever. It’s resumed after stopping for two days (and wastewater collection is still down). Just to be clear on the responsibilities:
Yes, the Community Profile Report commits to be “daily.” That the report didn’t come out for two days is a White House
f*ck-up responsibility, but multiple agencies are also involved. All of them look bad.
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.
MORONIC CDC FAILS TO UPDATE “DAILY” REPORT YET AGAIN Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
Very volatile, but a lot more yellow since the previous update several days ago.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
1,041,354. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.
Inflation: “United States Core PCE Price Index Annual Change” [Trading Economics]. “The core PCE Price Index inflation, the preferred gauge of inflation by the Fed, eased to 4.7 percent in May of 2022 from 4.9 percent in the prior month, the lowest in six months and slightly below market expectations of 4.8 percent.”
Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits decreased by 2K to 231K in the week that ended June 25th, compared with market forecasts of 228K, pointing to tight labour conditions.”
Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.5 percent from a month earlier in May 2022, the same as in the previous month and matching market expectations, as a rise in compensation and proprietors’ income offset a decrease in government social benefits. Within compensation, the increase reflected rises in both private and government wages and salaries. The increase in proprietors’ income was led by nonfarm income. The fall in government social benefits primarily reflected a decrease in transfers to nonprofit health care providers through the Provider Relief Fund that was partly offset by increases in Medicaid and Medicare.”
The Bezzle: “A $2 Trillion Free-Fall Rattles Crypto to the Core” [Bloomberg]. • That’s a damn shame.
The Bezzle (dk):
Herd of Cruise robocarcasses fouled streets 2 blocks from San Francisco city hall for hours.
— John Berry (@aniccia) June 30, 2022
Not very well attested. Perhaps California readers can comment?
Mr. Market: “Hedge fund manager Jim Chanos’s next ‘big short’ is data centres” [Financial Times]. “[Chanos] is raising several hundred million dollars for a fund that will take short positions in US-listed real estate investment trusts…. Data centres owned by groups such as Digital Realty Trust and Equinix are vast warehouses of servers that power large swaths of the internet…. The three biggest cloud providers, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, are by far the largest tenants of data centres. Chanos’s thesis is that these three “hyperscalers” prefer to build data centres to their own design rather than moving into existing ones; and when they do outsource, they typically offer low returns to their development partners. Chanos also said he believed that the real estate investment trusts were overvalued and in for a period of declining revenue and earnings growth. ‘The real problem for data centre Reits is technical obsolescence,’ said Chanos. ‘Their three biggest customers are becoming their biggest competitors. And when your biggest competitors are three of the most vicious competitors in the world then you have a problem.'” • My mind is reeling at the concept of real estate investment trusts for data centers, but I suppose it’s obvious once you think about it. Or was.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 23 Extreme Fear (previous close: 25 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 22 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 30 at 1:17 PM EDT.
Groves of Academe
“The Other Cancel Culture: How a Public University Is Bowing to a Conservative Crusade” [ProPublica]. “Across the country, elected officials in red states are seeking to impose their political views on public universities. Even as they decry liberal cancel culture, they’re leveraging the threat of budget cuts to scale back diversity initiatives, sanitize the teaching of American history and interfere with university policies and appointments…. Perhaps reflecting such tensions, the average tenure of public university presidents has declined from nine years to seven over the past two decades, and they are increasingly being fired or forced to resign, according to data prepared for this article by Sondra Barringer and Michael Harris, professors of higher education at Southern Methodist University. Between 2014 and 2020, 29% of departures by presidents of NCAA Division 1 public universities were involuntary, up from 19% between 2007 and 2013, and 10% between 2000 and 2006. Moreover, based on media reports and other sources, micromanaging or hyperpartisan boards were responsible for 24% of involuntary turnover at such universities in red states from 2014 to 2020, a rate more than four times higher than in blue states, Barringer and Harris found.”
They love David Ogilvy in Malaysia:
Baru selesai study harta karun copywriting ini buat tahun ke 4.
Ya, setiap tahun akan study balik copy ini.
Ingat nak buat sesi live adjust copy ni untuk kegunaan Digital Marketing. Park kat komen kalau nak noti –> pic.twitter.com/0RiLYmRtwa
— Robotys (@robotys) June 20, 2022
I got sucked in, and read most of it. I wonder if that’s a generational thing? The Intertubes aren’t even listed as a medium….
“Homicide Clusters by County” [Murder Accountability Project]. Interactive map. “MAP also estimates most homicides went unsolved in 130 major cities and urban areas in American in 2020, another record. The homicide rate is significantly higher in these jurisdictions, averaging nearly 23 homicides per 100,000 population. There is a broad, inverse relationship between rates of homicide clearance and occurrence. Communities that experience low clearance rates are much more likely to have elevated rates of murder. ‘The Murder Accountability Project firmly believes declining homicide clearance rates are the result of inadequate allocation of resources — detectives, forensic technicians, crime laboratory capacity, and adequate training of personnel,’ said MAP Chairman Thomas Hargrove. ‘This represents a failure of political will by local leaders.'”
“Johns Hopkins summer programs canceled as some students are en route” [WaPo]. “The email Chanel and other parents received Friday attributed the problem to lack of staffing. ‘The nationwide labor shortage affecting many industries has created conditions that make it impossible to deliver an experience that rises to the level of quality we expect for our families and programs,’ it said.”
News of the Wired
I am not feeling wired today.
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