By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, I’m afraid I haven’t totally caught up with the news over the weekend. More tomorrow, hopefully. –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Large Wren-Babbler, Pahang National Park, Malaysia. I’m imagining a Monty Python sketch for the “LNS Catalog Number….” voice-over…
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
“Top Democrats are blasting President Joe Biden’s stated intention to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey” [Politico]. • Total focus on the midterms, obviously. Good to see it.
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Something to look forward to!
“Winning: An Interview with Christopher Rufo” (interview) [IM—1776]. The entire piece is well worth a read, especially for any Democrats who want to see how a serious political party functions, before it’s too late. This caught my eye: “Mark Granza: Getting parents to unite in order to achieve political goals is an unusual strategy. Where did you get that idea? Christopher Rufo: It happened, again, by accident. I did a series of reports on [Critical Race Theory (CRT)] in education that sparked a lot of discussion and then I started noticing these incredible clips circulating on social media of parents speaking it at school board meetings. It was totally spontaneous at the beginning. Then I put together a Critical Race Theory Briefing Book and worked on model policies, which gave people the language they needed to succeed and a template for policymaking at state legislatures. The secret to good activism is not mass, but leverage. The narratives about CRT sparked an immense public response and politicians, who are always looking at the intensity of voter sentiment, started to deliver laws that protected their constituents and protected families from indoctrination. The GOP then adopted a smart frame — ‘parental rights,’ ‘the parents’ party’ — that created a set of policies and connotations that is very appealing to families. In the most recent generic ballot polling, parents with children in the home support Republicans by a 28-point margin. This is a political sea change. It drove the success of Glenn Youngkin and school choice initiatives across the country. The impact is undeniable.” • Hoo boy.
“Veer, and Now” [Brian Beutler]. “There’s a trope among highly partisan Democrats that people who complain about the lifelessness of the party’s leaders are always shouting “do something!” at them without ever specifying what. I try pretty hard in this space and elsewhere to be clear about what I think would work better than the status quo, but I also want to stand up here for the concept of just appearing to do stuff. It’s stupid, and it was the source of a lot of clownishness and losing court fights and hooliganism, but Donald Trump was downright hyperactive about pretending to do stuff, and I think it helped him mask the truth of a failed presidency. We would all quite reasonably sniff ‘that isn’t legal’ or ‘he can’t do that.’ And usually we were right. Most of the time nothing came of it; sometimes he managed to mow down the guardrails and get his way on dubious authority. But the point was less about governing than conveying a sense of action and control, and I think it goes a long way toward explaining why he held on to Republican voters so well and managed to increase his vote share despite basically wrecking the country.” • Beutler should veer from his aghastitude. Neither the CARES Act (“money in your pocket”), which was superior in every way to Obama’s reaction to the Great Financial Crisis, nor Operation Warp Speed can go under the heading of “wrecking the country.” Nor can not going to war with Russia. Biden squandered all that, making him a worse President than Trump.
“Democrats facing a Donald Trump conundrum heading into 2024” [AlterNet]. To charge Trump, or not: “‘Through the efforts of the House January 6 committee, strong evidence has emerged of multiple serious crimes, committed by President Trump, as well as his lawyers, other aides, and supporters—all aimed at overturning the result of the 2020 election,’ [Paul Quirk, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia] said. He later added, ‘Although this evidence has not been subjected to cross-examination, challenged by opposing witnesses, or tested in a trial, it amounts to a very compelling evidence of likely criminality. And yet it is not at all clear that Biden’s Justice Department has gotten the memo.'” • Holy Lord. Whose job is it to get the memo to Garland?
“Five under-the-radar Democrats who could run for president in 2024” [The Hill]. Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Stacey Abrams (“She’s going to have to win a race first”), Rep. Ro Khanna (Calif.), Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Mitch Landrieu. Weak, weak bench. Why not just run Liz Cheney and have done with it?
“Waiting (and Waiting) for an Adams Doctrine” [New York Magazine]. “What we are seeing is something quite different from mayoralties of recent memory — a politics that is mostly public performance with a mayor who makes news more for what he says and how he appears than for what his administration is actually doing…. As an administration official put it, “Sometimes working here can feel like Jurassic Park, and he is the T. rex and is going to keep on testing the fences until he breaks through. He needs somebody who can whisper in his ear, ‘Mr. Mayor, I’m sorry, but you are out of your fucking mind right now.'” • Remind you of anyone? A politician who quite recently achieved unexpected success?
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.
* * *
Auto-kinbaku-bi once more:
Yes, the party intentionally recruited people it knew would oppose the main elements of its agenda. https://t.co/1kx7GujTSA
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) July 2, 2022
Making assumptions on “its agenda,” but let that pass.
Realignment and Legitimacy
The class structure and “doing your own research”:
But we’re not individually capable of doing that at scale in an advanced society. To critically review scientific findings takes time. And every level of abstraction relies on trust in some authority or expert. You would spend 25 hours a day evaluating sources and fact finding.
— thebluecheese (@thebleucheese) July 2, 2022
And each level of abstraction is peopled/represented/managed by (fear of precarity-driven) rent-seekers and gatekeepers. (That is the tendency; you have some classes of authorities who are open and honest. I would urge they are exceptional. Actually, that’s a nice dichotomy: hegemonic v. exceptional. Droplet goons are an example of the former; aerosol community of the latter. So we could say of the PMC as a class: There are exceptional and hegemonic subclasses. (Note than an exceptional subclass would not be a collection of exceptional individuals, but a set whose social relations enable individuals to become exceptional.)
Don’t make me give you another award, Bob!
Long, insane thread on all the math that the chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco thinks people might want to do to individually decide whether their individual risk tolerance calls for wearing masks right now. https://t.co/wDM2kpL2ci
— midnucas #FueraLUMA 🇵🇷 (@midnucas) February 20, 2022
A layered strategy works (1):
Air audits, Hepa Filters and CO2 Monitor were initially expensive, especially while we were constantly in lockdowns and restrictions. But it is already paying off now as we still haven’t had any employees being infected with the virus at work pic.twitter.com/WpkpdZPr47
— Apricot Tree Cafe (@ApricotTreeCaf1) July 2, 2022
A layered strategy works (2):
10 days post-wedding, we’ve had zero new COVID cases among all the attendees (approx. 150 people.) Was it the masking? Was it the Corsi-Rosenthal boxes? Was it a 99.9% vaccinated and boosted attendee list? It was all of the above. We prioritized safety AND had a great time. Fin.
— Lavanya Krishnan, MS, MPH (@l_krishnan) July 3, 2022
The wedding industry is huge, and weddings are up this year. How long before some clever firms start marketing “Covid-free Weddings”?
My Twitter list is not a random sample. But on the pro-mask side, opinion seems to be hardening (which I view as a literally healthy thing):
1/ We have *never* had a dedicated public health campaign on wearing a mask to protect yourself & others. It’s truly quite an extraordinary omission. Which means either the Government doesn’t want people wearing masks or doesn’t care if they don’t.
— Celia Green (@1CeliaGreen) July 3, 2022
As I keep saying: “Democidal elites” is a parsimonious explanation.
Please watch Nicolas Smit’s OSHA testimony. @PPEtoheros
And we wonder why health care workers are leaving in droves. https://t.co/Hm1GvDQYDo
— Denise Dewald, MD 🗽 (@denise_dewald) May 10, 2022
An unmasked woman in the checkout line next to me just loudly said to the unmasked cashier, when asked for ID, “Don’t touch it though. I’ll hold it for you. I have COVID.”
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) July 2, 2022
So actually @delta I don’t “respect the choice about masking” made by my neighbor on DL466 on Sunday, because his maskless coughing and spluttering over 6 hours has had a predictable result. He chose for me and I don’t appreciate that he was able to. pic.twitter.com/1lu6eMBeMg
— Andrew McGowan (@Praxeas) June 30, 2022
I don’t care that it’s “allowed.”
Rest assured that if you knowingly get on a plane/ train/ go to the mall/ dine indoors etc with an active COVID infection— esp without an N95 or elastomeric—you’re a psychopath.
— Dana Parish (@danaparish) July 3, 2022
What's worse than cholera? Burdening businesses with the taxes needed to fund construction of this unproven 'sewer' technology. No thank you sir, I will take my drinking water the way God intended it: Naturally enchanced with feces. #FecalUrgencyofNormal#1854CholeraEpidemic
— Neoliberal John Snow (@NeoliberalSnow) July 3, 2022
That’s hardly fair. You would drink your feces-enhanced water after conducting a personal risk assessment. People are so cynical these days!
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:
I think we’re seeing data issues from a long weekend, hence the drop. Under the hood the BA.4/BA.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. The previous count was ~108,000. Today, it’s ~102,400, and 108,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 614,400. 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.
• “The BA.5 COVID Surge Is Here” [New York Magazine]. “The newest wave of COVID infections and reinfections, fueled by more transmissible subvariants of the Omicron strain including BA.4 and BA.5, continues to grow across the U.S. As countless Americans gather over the July 4 holiday weekend, it’s entirely possible that there are more new daily infections happening in the country than at any other point in the pandemic other than the Omicron wave.” • Joe, Rochelle, Ashish, good job.
So the national drop is mostly from the South, and the South is from Texas. Which is weird, because in the rapid riser chart, Texas is reddening.
2.4%. (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 29:
Wastewater data (CDC), Jun 14, 2022 – Jun 28, 2022:
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:
The current Walgreens variant chart is dated June 11, which is before June 15, and BA.4 has gone down. So I will check again tomorrow.
Variant data, national (CDC), July 2:
Hoo boy, with the caveat that those creeps at CDC have now made their “Nowcast” model mandatory (hence the big jump in BA.4/BA.5 from the last time they managed to update this site). 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 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].
From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:
West coast improves, Texas and the South do not, Illinois improves.
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.
Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):
Very volatile, but a lot more yellow and orange since the previous update several days ago.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
1,042,678. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.
Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods jumped 1.6% month-over-month in May of 2022, following an upwardly revised 0.7% rise in April and beating market forecasts of a 0.5% gain, in a sign demand for products remained string [sic].”
The Bezzle: “Celsius Customers Are Losing Hope for Their Locked-Up Crypto” [Wall Street Journal]. “It has been three weeks since crypto lender Celsius Network LLC took the drastic step of halting customers’ withdrawals. Many people are starting to wonder if they will ever see their money again. Alla Driksne says she has six figures worth of bitcoin and ethereum—her life savings—tied up in a Celsius account. On June 12, a Sunday, the company said it had paused customer withdrawals, saying it needed “to stabilize liquidity and operations.” Ms. Driksne couldn’t sleep for two days. ‘,’ said Ms. Driksne, who is 34 and creates online cooking courses.” • :-(
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 22 Extreme Fear (previous close: 24 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 5 at 1:22 PM EDT.
Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [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.
I’m a little amazed to see a version of Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes on YouTube. Here’s one of my favorite up-tempo Grateful dead tunes, which breaks off after 43 seconds because it’s authentic:
Reminds me a bit of the Flatlanders except, well, The Band.
Edouard Manet 1863
Musee d’Orsay pic.twitter.com/5gKwyzOgJF
— Olga Tuleninova 🦋 (@olgatuleninova) July 14, 2020
— Jean-Michel Basquiat (@artistbasquiat) July 2, 2022
Groves of Academe
If you are school-adjacent, you could look into this:
2) Key points: #COVIDisAirborne
⁰Using a smoke machine, a group of dads studied airflow patterns in the school's five classrooms and administration areas
⁰Goal was creating clean-air classrooms at school to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmissionhttps://t.co/aQGqIQkqdD
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) April 1, 2022
“Ep 5: What’s Ahead for Labor?” (podcast) [Adolph Reed, Class Matters]. “Adolph Reed Jr. talks with Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants/CWA and APWU President Mark Dimondstein about what’s ahead for Labor in this moment that holds out both promise and peril. Worker organizing efforts are underway across the country including at Amazon and Starbucks. Public support for unions is a 57-year high – with polling at 68% in favor.” • I’m very pleased to see that Reed has a podcast/
News of the Wired
Kill it with fire:
— John Hoare (@mumoss) July 2, 2022
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 AG:
AG writes: “Just for fun, I thought I’d dig through my collection for worthy Plantidote, but also featuring sparrows. Here is our beautiful Mountain Heather and a White–crowned Sparrow enjoying the view. Study images taken by Lake Winnemucca, up in the ‘High Country’ in Alpine County, CA, at 9,000 feet elevation. In the background are the short, stunted willows that grow in a narrow band around the lake (frozen and snow covered in winter).”
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