By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, this is a little underpowered because I finished up a post excoriating the Biden Administration on Covid policy (and another post). So this is an open thread, but temporarily. There’s too much going on for me not to post a Water Cooler, so I am going to break my rule, and do a full post in a couple of hours. So talk amongst yourselves, but refresh your browsers every so often. –lambert UPDATE Finished!
Bird Song of the Day
Canyon Wren, El Paso, Texas, United States. Suggested by MT_Wild (this is indeed Wren Week at Naked Capitalism). From El Paso; I wonder if Amfortas and his family hear(d) this bird. Of course, Texas is a big state….
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
“Raskin: Jan. 6 panel to highlight voting machine seizure meeting” [The Hill]. “Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2011 attack on the Capitol, said on Sunday that the panel in an upcoming hearing will focus on a White House meeting during which allies of former President Trump reportedly proposed seizing voting machines. ‘One of the things that people are going to learn is the fundamental importance of a meeting that took place in the White House on December the 18th,’ Raskin told CBS ‘Face the Nation’ guest moderator Robert Costa. Attorney Sidney Powell, former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others reportedly met with Trump on that day to discuss a proposal for the military to seize voting machines as part of the group’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Politico in January published a draft executive order that spelled out the proposal, which the outlet reported would have also given the Defense secretary 60 days to write an assessment of the election potentially as part of a scheme to keep Trump in power past Inauguration Day.” • Forgive my cynicism, but Lenin didn’t seize the Winter Place waving a draft. The pattern repeats: Trump tries to do something, somebody stops him, and he drops the idea and goes on to try something else.
“Logs show 10 House Republicans attended White House meeting on pressuring Pence” [Axios]. “Ten Republican members of Congress attended a Dec. 21 White House meeting focused on efforts to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn the 2020 election, according to the Jan. 6 committee. The revelation underscores how deep the involvement of some lawmakers were in former President Trump’s schemes to overturn the election even after the electoral college met to affirm President Biden’s victory.”
“Biden administration says federal law preempts state abortion bans when emergency care is needed” [CNN]. “In new clarifying guidance announced Monday, the Biden administration said that federal law preempts state abortion bans when emergency care is needed and that the federal government can penalize institutions or providers that fail to provide abortions as needed to treat medical emergencies. ‘Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,’ HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release Monday. ‘Today, in no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care.'” • Good.
“Schumer-Manchin talks on Dem agenda hit a new hurdle: Covid quarantine” [Politico]. “Nearly a year ago, Schumer and Manchin privately inked an agreement on a $1.5 trillion iteration of the bill the voluble New Yorker is now laboring to revive after Manchin pulled the plug in December. That their talks remain on uncertain footing reflects just how critical the party-line bill is to Schumer’s legacy as he balances multiple goals: holding onto Senate control past this fall, confirming as many of Joe Biden’s nominees as he can, passing his dearly sought U.S.-China bill and clinching a deal with Manchin. Schumer conducted two leadership meetings and a full caucus meeting virtually this week while battling Covid and spoke to Manchin Monday about the climate, prescription drug and tax bill that is captivating Senate Democrats. In Tuesday’s caucus meeting, Schumer indicated it’s his goal to put a Manchin-backed bill on the Senate floor before the August recess, using filibuster-evasion powers that expire Sept. 30, according to attendees.”
* * *
“Poll Shows Tight Race for Control of Congress as Class Divide Widens” [New York Times]. “the confluence of economic problems and resurgent cultural issues has helped turn the emerging class divide in the Democratic coalition into a chasm, as Republicans appear to be making new inroads among nonwhite and working-class voters — perhaps especially Hispanic voters — who remain more concerned about the economy and inflation than abortion rights and guns. For the first time in a Times/Siena national survey, Democrats had a larger share of support among white college graduates than among nonwhite voters — a striking indication of the shifting balance of political energy in the Democratic coalition. As recently as the 2016 congressional elections, Democrats won more than 70 percent of nonwhite voters while losing among white college graduates.” • The fundamental problem liberal Democrats have is that the PMC is too narrow a base.
PA: “John Fetterman’s Health Clouds Pennsylvania Senate Race” [Wall Street Journal]. “Since suffering a stroke two months ago, John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and Democratic nominee for the Senate, has walked as far as 4 miles on local trails, taken family trips to area vacation spots and handled errands such as dropping off his children at day camp, his campaign says. What he hasn’t done is appear at public events where voters can get a sense of his stamina, speaking skills and ability to take on his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, the physician famous for his TV program ‘The Dr. Oz Show.'” • RealClearPolitics rates this a toss-up, but USA Today has Fterrman up by 9% — a month ago. More current no-name polls have Fetterman up by 4% and 5%. Not bad for somebody who isn’t on the trail at all.
PA: “So far, nothing has slowed John Fetterman’s ability to raise funds” [PennLive]. “John Fetterman’s cash machine is still rolling — and gaining speed. The lieutenant governor raised $8.3 million for his U.S. Senate campaign between his Democratic primary win and the end of June, according to campaign figures shared first with The Inquirer. That was part of a record-setting $11 million haul over April, May, and June…. Since he won the nomination, more than 139,000 donors have given to Fetterman for the first time, his campaign said, accounting for about two-thirds of his donors in the last quarter. And while it’s likely bigger donors will start giving to Fetterman, given the national stakes of the Senate race, his average donation was $31 during the last three months, his campaign said, signaling enduring support from grassroots donors who chip in smaller amounts.”
PA: “Pennsylvania sues county election boards over refusal to certify primary results” [NBC]. “In a 21-page filing, officials asked the Commonwealth Court in Pennsylvania to order the elections boards in Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties to certify results to include absentee and mail-in ballots cast by qualified voters without handwritten dates to avoid further ‘delaying resolution of the 2022 primary election.'” • Hmm.
“Biden fires back at 2024 doubts: Democrats ‘want me to run’” [The Hill]. “Biden allies maintain that the president remains the best chance to beat Trump, citing his 2020 election win. Biden’s comments on Tuesday came after a progressive organization RootsAction launched a campaign to oppose another Biden run.”
“Charges: Man lit his camper on fire, defaced own garage to appear targeted due to Trump flag” [CBS]. • Now the Democrats have their own Jussie Smollett. What a hoot!
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.
* * *
The party of war:
2/ We are currently in the first inning of a decades-long battle for liberal democracy and our values and we cannot turn our back on those fighting for freedom at the first sign of economic or political pain.
— Suraj Patel (@surajpatelnyc) July 12, 2022
The crazy thing is that Patel seems to think his ideas are fresh, and he is some sort of insurgent:
“Best and the brightest” who have been locked out of a generation of policy making
— Suraj Patel (@surajpatelnyc) July 12, 2022
(“The best and the brightest,” for those who, like Patel, don’t know, were the PMC of their day: The Ivy Leaguers who lost the Vietnam war while slaughtering millions, as described by David Halberstam in his book of that name. Irony really is dead, isn’t it?)
— aaina (🪞) (@aainafai) July 12, 2022
Maybe I need to be as realist about non-pharmaceutical interventions as I am about geopolitics. But the stupid. It’s very hard to bear.
“Masks for COVID: Updating the evidence” [fast.ai]. ” I’ve noticed some signs in recent weeks that people might be open to avoiding COVID again.” • Optimism! Good round-up in a neutral tone; well worth a read.
“They” is most definitely bipartisan.
They failed on airborne transmission.
They failed on air quality.
They failed on masking.
They failed on rapid tests.
Now they are failing on the vaccines.
No boosters available.
No omicron update after 7 months.
No approval for under 5.
— Joey Fox, P. Eng, M.A.Sc (@joeyfox85) July 12, 2022
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:
Starting to feel like the train is rolling. Let’s see what next week brings. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. Under the hood the BA.4/BA.5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. 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. The previous count was ~119,000. Today, it’s ~126,000 and 126,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 756,000 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have 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.
Regional case count for four weeks:
Now the South and West.
Florida and Texas, still trading places.
Unsurprising, I suppose, that the large states (Texas, Florida; California) would have the largest absolute numbers.
9.9%, up another point. Yikes. Looks like a lot of people came back from the Fourth of July barbecue hacking and wheezing. The Covid train always leaves on time! (I also wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe (correctly) that it’s more likely they will be infected. What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.
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.
Status quo, i.e. it’s a not-over pandemic.
Lambert here: After the move from the CDC to the laughingly named ‘https://healthdata.gov,” this notice appeared: “Effective June 22, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.” Hence, the “NOT UPDATED”s; my bad. So now the administration has belatedly come to the realization that we’re in a BA.5 surge, and yet essential data for making our personal risk assessment is only available twice a week. What’s the over/under on whether they actually deliver tomorrow?
Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 7:
Previous Rapid Riser data:
Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 7:
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 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].
Variant data, national (Walgreens), June 30:
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), June 25:
BA.5 moving along nicely.
Wastewater data (CDC), Jun 25, 2022 – Jul 09, 2022:
Lots of orange, more red. Not good. 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.
Lambert here: It loaded today!
Death rate (Our World in Data):
1,046,232. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.
The Bezzle: “Three Arrows Founders’ Whereabouts Unknown, Liquidators Say” [Bloomberg]. “The founders of bankrupt crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital haven’t been cooperating in the firm’s liquidation process and their whereabouts were unknown as of Friday, according to court papers…. The hedge fund’s liquidators traveled to Three Arrows’ office address in Singapore in late June in an attempt to track down the founders, according to court papers. It appeared dormant: the door was locked, computers were inactive and mail was stuffed under the door. People working in the surrounding offices said they hadn’t seen anyone enter or exit the office recently. The liquidators spoke with lawyers for Davies and Zhu via videoconference last week, according to court papers, but did not speak to the founders directly. ‘While persons identifying themselves as ‘Su Zhu’ and ‘Kyle’ were present on the Zoom call, their video was turned off and they were on mute at all times with neither of them speaking despite questions being posed to them directly,’ Teneo’s Crumpler said in his court declaration.” • Incorporated in the Virgin Islands, located in Singapore… No red flags there! (But shouldn’t a polity that whips people for depositing chewed gum on the streets be a little more pro-active about preventing enormous frauds?
The Bezzle: “Pay Me For My Genius” [Eschaton]. “While I’m revisiting “proved fucking right about Elon,” I do want to remind people that the dream of self-driving cars (in any kind of coming soon timeline) is over and our glorious capital markets allocated billions and billions to the project when they just could’ve handed me a bit of cash. Here’s a recent piece describing the experience of the cutting edge in service self-driving cars. The basic point is that technology is absolutely amazing and impressive, total science fiction rocket surgery, but it just isn’t good enough to be useful or commercially viable…. A car that works great 95% of the time is… not a car that works well enough!” • The social function of capitalists is to allocate capital. Why are they so stupid about it? (Also, Atrios was not the only old school blogger to call bullshit on self-driving cars (here; here).
The Bezzle: A familiar sight:
A fire recently broke out at #Tesla’s car spray workshop in Suzhou, an insider told Yicai Global today, after online pictures showed several burned vehicles, some of them down to the frame. The workshop suspended business and cause of the accident is still under investigation. pic.twitter.com/QLhfLaxUyC
— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) July 12, 2022
The paint booth didn’t work in Fremont, either.
The Economy: “WTF Happened In 1971?” [wtfhappenedin1971.com (WhoaMolly)]. • What it says on the tin; in 1971 there was an abrupt, almost revolutionary, discountinuity that affected the entire economy. The key chart is at the top:
I entered the labor market in 1971 full-time, but I don’t think that was it….
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 23 Extreme Fear (previous close: 25 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 24 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 12 at 12:53 PM EDT.
L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein
“Angels and demons: exposing the dark side of Victoria’s Secret” [Guardian]. “[T]he multibillion-dollar lingerie juggernaut was an inescapable cultural phenomenon in the late 1990s and early 2000…. But behind the glitz and glitter touting female empowerment through in-your-face sexuality lay allegations of bullying and harassment of employees and models; executives dismissive of casting more diverse and inclusive models; and former billionaire CEO Les Wexner’s disconcertingly close ties to convicted sex offender and disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein…. Many of the more lurid details were still yet to be revealed, including that Wexner, now 84, enabled Epstein’s access to wealth and women by granting the financier broad powers over the corporate titan’s finances, philanthropy, and private life. Epstein even posed as a talent scout for Victoria’s Secret in 1997, luring a model to a Santa Monica hotel room where he groped and manhandled her. As the series lays out in detail, Epstein’s long and close relationship with Wexner facilitated the purchase of his townhouse (where he sexually abused underage girls) and private jet used to traffic his victims, known infamously in the media as the Lolita Express. (Wexner, who stepped down from the company last year, declined the series’ interview requests but denied knowledge of Epstein’s sexual misconduct while under his employ. The former chairman has acknowledged that on one occasion he was informed that Epstein was claiming an association with the company and that he forbade Epstein from doing it again. Wexner maintains that he severed ties with Epstein in 2008.) ‘New York’s a town where you fake it till you make it, and Epstein is the poster child of our time for that,” says [director Matt Tyrnauer], who previously oversaw Vanity Fair’s annual New Establishment list. ‘There was clearly nothing there of valuable substance and yet the New York media world and what passes for society – which is just basically a money culture, which I think at its core is very corrupt – seemed to either embrace him or just turn a blind eye. The more we examine that culture, which is basically a money and power and publicity culture, and the more that that façade is stripped away, the better.'” • Speaking of lists, did we have get Epstein and Maxwell’s client list? What the heck happened to it?
I am very hesitant to assign obesity in the US to lifestyle.
Something is DEEPLY wrong with their food quality.
You know this because Europeans immediately gain weight in the US without changing their eating habits and lose the weight just as easily when back in Europe.
— Porkchop Express (@Porkchop_EXP) July 12, 2022
Maybe there is a morphic resonance between us and our cars?
“Is There an Equation for Suicidal Lethality?” [MedPage Today]. Not a topic I like to cover, because this is one balance I don’t want to tip. This article is interesting to me, but if you’re at risk, think twice: “The risk in this essay is to go out on a ledge (I have literally been there) and attempt to find a mathematical expression of suicide lethality, irrespective of ideation, in a unique subsample. In so doing, I extrapolate beyond an earlier described and homogenous ideated cross factor product of deadliness, that is death expectation ‘x plan’ with tissue injury. However, this new thesis is not a final, unifying theory of everything suicidal.’ • The clinical stuff, I just dunno. Big if true.
“Even bosses are joining the Great Resignation” [Vox]. Wowsers. A rising tide of crapification. “Data shows that managers are leaving their jobs at elevated levels, and that even though resignation rates for workers overall have declined from their peak, lots of people are still quitting their jobs. The breadth of quits could exacerbate an already tight labor market as quits in one area precipitate quits in another, and this cycle could ensure that the Great Resignation — also known as the Great Reshuffling or Great Reconsideration — won’t stop anytime soon. Data on management departures comes from a number of sources. People analytics provider Visier found that resignation rates among managers went from 3.8 percent in the first half of 2021 to 5 percent in the first half of 2022, which represents a much bigger jump than for non-managers. Gusto, which provides payroll, benefits, and human resource management software, found quit rates among managers remained at the same peak level in June as they were last year, while those for non-managers have declined. LinkedIn found that the rate of people leaving their jobs at the director level has been growing much faster than at those at the entry level this year. The departure of bosses was also evident on job platform ZipRecruiter, which said job postings for managerial positions are growing at a faster rate than job listings at large, and currently make up 12 percent of job postings, up from 10 percent in June of last year. To be clear, levels of quits remain high across job types and levels.”
News of the Wired
My wife just said "if you hate everyone, you should eat something, and if you think everyone hates you, you should go to sleep" and I don't think I've heard a better life hack
— Norman the PhDM (@metadoxy) July 3, 2022
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