By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Patient readers, I have had a bit of a debacle today: a long and liquid repast (albeit delicious). I will begin with the Covid charts, and deliver more soon (but after 2:00). –lambert UPDATE All done!
Bird Song of the Day
Crested Satinbird, The Gap, Central, Papua New Guinea. Not quite sure what I’m hearing, here. I mean, I know it’s a bird….
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51
“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“You can’t really dust for vomit.” Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap
“Congress implies UFOs have non-human origins” [The Hill]. • Maybe we’ve found out where the lizard people come from?
* * *
On that “threats to democracy” poll, pushed by the sadly diminished Froomkin here:
— Dan Froomkin/PressWatchers.org (@froomkin) August 22, 2022
So yeah, they split the economy into two questions instead of the usual one. Add up "Cost of living" and "Jobs and the Economy" and "the economy is easily the top issue. Also no cross-tab on how many concerned by "threats to democracy" were Trump voters… https://t.co/tUISVVzvC0 pic.twitter.com/sVyOXRrty0
— Wesley Yang (@wesyang) August 23, 2022
“GOP Will Lose The Senate Because Of Bad Candidates” [Down with Tyranny]. “A new PPP poll of Wisconsin voters, released yesterday, shows that 55% of Wisconsinites are concerned (50% ‘very concerned’) about Sen. Ron Johnson’s role in trying to put fake elector documents from Wisconsin and Michigan into the former Vice President’s hands on January 6th, including 57% of independents. Will it play into the November election? I think so… and this kind of thing is hurting Republicans in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Arizona… maybe even Florida.”
“Litigation by Leak: Government Officials Leak New Details on the Mar-a-Lago Raid While Continuing to Oppose Disclosures in Court” [Jonathan Turley]. “It is litigation by leak where the government prevents others (including the target) from seeing key representations made to the court while releasing selective facts to its own advantage. It shows utter contempt for the court and the public. The question is whether the court will take note of this series of leaks. Most judges do not like to be played so openly and publicly by government officials. Moreover, the leaks should push Garland to reverse course as suggested in a recent column and order substantive disclosures in the affidavit in light of the government’s prior leaks.” • One could wish for new scripts, instead of recycled ones.
“Trump Was Hoarding Some of America’s Most Sensitive Secrets, Letter Reveals” [Rolling Stone]. ““Special access program” is a classification protocol specific to highly sensitive materials and information that can include everything from ‘black projects’ to information regarding presidential communications and transportation security. Access to these types of materials is extremely limited, often to just a select group of high-level intelligence and military officials. Additionally, some of these materials may only be stored and accessed in secure facilities.” • Well, if I were gonna classify RussiaGate, I’d get out my “Special Access” rubber stamp and do just that. #JustSaying. Meanwhile, as an antidote to the pearl-clutching, see the Federation of American Scientists on “What Is Overclassification.”
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.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Underreported And Massive Theocratic Movement Joins Forces With Michael Flynn And Roger Stone” [Jennifer Cohn, Bucks County Beacon]. “The [New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)] is a rapidly accelerating and dangerously under-reported worldwide Christian authoritarian movement. It practices faith healing and exorcism and promotes dominionism, a belief that Christians must take control of government, business and culture in order for Jesus to return to earth…. Longtime Trump advisor Roger Stone, who works with Flynn and has ties to violent extremists, embraces the NAR as well. He, Flynn, and other like-minded MAGA influencers and Christian authoritarian zealots are coming to Pennsylvania for the final stop of the so-called “Reawaken America Tour” (RAT). The tour was founded by Clay Clarkson, a far right podcast host from Oklahoma, and is sponsored by NAR apostle Steve Strang through Charisma News, one of Strang’s media companies. Several NAR apostles have spoken on the RAT. Spooky Nook Sports in Mannheim is hosting the event on October 21 and 22.” • Cohn is sound on voting machines, unsound on voting machines. and I’m not clear whether this article is (yet another) example of a yarn diagram with the yarn drawn too tight. The last administration where the Christian Right really dominated was the Bush Administration, and it didn’t go well.
My daughter is 10. Masked every day for 2 yrs, lunches home. Think the only kid in grade not infected by covid at least once (teachers too). Friday, relative visited her at mom's n didn't disclose had been exposed. Today she was +ve at lunch n this evening 39 C fever.
— Andrew Ewing (@AndrewEwing11) August 22, 2022
My kids are currently recovering. Also got through 2 years of school masked.
Caught it at summer camp when a parent tested positive and sent their child maskless to camp AND without bothering to test her
— Kat Cha (@KatieCharette2) August 22, 2022
“The 5 Laws Of Human Stupidity And How To Be A ‘Non-Stupid’ Investor” [Seeking Alpha (Karl)]. • Since this is the stupidest timeline, these laws may be of interest:
• Law 1: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
• Law 2: The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
• Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
• Law 4: Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
• Law 5: A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
Amusing, and I’m sure many examples of these Laws in operation can be found. I do not see, however, how these Laws can give an account of how stupid people attain positions of real power, a topic of concern to many.
“Anthony Fauci’s Retirement Marks the End of an Era” [Gregg Gonsalves, New York Times]. Gonsalves is a lot kinder than I would be, perhaps giving respect to an ancient and formidable adversary. So I won’t pull out the hagiography. But these two passages caught my eye: “As the Yale historian Frank Snowden has noted, from the middle of the 20th century until the advent of AIDS — during what he called ‘an age of ‘ — scientists had largely declared mission accomplished in terms of the battle against infectious diseases…. If the age of Dr. Fauci was one in which we looked forward to progress, even if always piecemeal, the current era is the age of ‘We have the tools.’ It is a distinct new pessimism of spirit, cynicism of the will, born of the of some physicians but mostly of the political calculations of others that doing more on this pandemic is untenable. The sound you hear is the thud of resignation in the face of the suffering of so many over the past two and a half years and a summer in which we add hundreds to the dead every day in the United States.” • I’m wondering if “hubris” gives a better account of the Covid debacle than stupidity, especially for the PMC. Wikipedia (sorry) has an interesting passage: “In ancient Athens, hubris was defined as the use of violence to shame the victim (this sense of hubris could also characterize rape). Aristotle defined hubris as shaming the victim, not because of anything that happened to the committer or might happen to the committer, but merely for that committer’s own gratification.” Shaming mask-wearers, for example, might fit into this framework. Hubris, though, like stupidity, is a characteristic of what Bertie Wooster’s Jeeves called “the psychology of the individual,” so again, probably not a sufficiently powerful explanation.
• ”What were the historical reasons for the resistance to recognizing airborne transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic?” [Indoor Air (Sub-Boreal)]. From the Practical Implications section of the Abstract: “Since the early 20th century, there has been resistance to accept that diseases transmit through the air, which was particularly damaging during the COVID-19 pandemic. A key reason for this resistance lies in the history of the scientific understanding of disease transmission: Transmission through the air was thought dominant during most of human history, but the pendulum swung too far in the early 20th century. For decades, no important disease was thought to be airborne. By clarifying this history and the errors rooted in it that still persist, we hope to facilitate progress in this field in the future.” • Well worth a read, since this is open access (the authors, including Jimenez, Marr, and Tufecki, have already put forward this thesis in other venues. But you’ve got to hammer, hammer, hammer on the proponents of the old paradigm — “droplet goons” — until they shift their mindset or their funerals are announced.
• “Think the CDC F–ked up Covid-19? Monkeypox and Polio Aren’t Going Any Better” [Rolling Stone]. “The first big failure came in March 2020. Covid was spreading rapidly across the globe and, with no vaccines or proven therapies to prevent or treat the disease, countries had no choice but to lock down their populations and shut down their economies. What the world needed most at that moment was accurate information. That meant testing. While the World Health Organization in Geneva moved swiftly to ship test kits to poorer countries and wealthier countries such as China and South Korea quickly expanded their own production of tests, the United States fell far behind. It was the CDC’s fault. The agency had designed a PCR test kit that it intended to provide to state and local health departments. But the kit included a faulty reagent, making it unusable in most cases. Worse, the . So for a critical few weeks early in the pandemic, the United States was in the dark. Yes, Covid was spreading — that much was evident from all the people falling sick. But the CDC and state and local authorities couldn’t accurately track the virus’s transmission or tally up the total number of infections.” • NC readers have been able to follow this debacle in real time. I have always focused on the CDC’s test kit omnishambles, but Brain Trust member GM points out that the “sabotage” of the efforts of state and local labs to develop their own tests is also horrifying. I’m struggling to come up with an example of a government department in this bad shape that has also been successfully reformed. Wouldn’t it be simpler and safer to burn it to the ground?
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:
Quite a drop. But wait for the regional stories…
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 nominal 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 ~101,000. Today, it’s ~81,600 and 81,600 * 6 = a Biden line at 489,600 per day. (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. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.
Regional case count for four weeks:
Looks like there was a data issue somewhere in the Midwest.
We’re going to have to live with that ridiculous Florida curve for a week, ffs.
Another drop. No plateau.
• ”Google’s Covid Outbreak Is Currently The Largest Of Any Employer In Los Angeles” [Deadline]. Los Angeles, you say. “The number of Covid infections among Los Angeles-area Google employees nearly doubled over the weekend, according to the count on the county’s official Covid workplace outbreak site. On Friday, Deadline reported that the tech giant’s stylish Silicon Beach campus in Venice had recorded 145 infections. This morning, the L.A. County Public Health dashboard showed another 135 newly-tallied cases at the company’s massive Playa Vista complex. (There were another another 15 infections listed Friday for the Venice campus that no longer appear today.) Combined, those 280 infections constitute the largest current tally for any employer in the county. At LAX, 274 TSA employees are listed infected. Likewise 234 American Airlines workers. Those entities, however, are not only consumer-facing, but likely deal with the largest amount of foot traffic in the county. Google has 2,000 employees in Los Angeles, according to reporting by the Los Angeles Business Journal last year. If that is accurate, it would mean that 14% of the company’s workforce has been hit recently.” • Great news on LAX, too. I hope anybody traveling through LAX has their throat and nose sprays, is masked up, and avoids crowds (and especially crowded restrooms) in the terminal.
• “Apple drops mask requirements for most of its corporate workers” [The Verge]. “Apple is dropping its mask mandates for corporate employees at ‘most locations,’ according to an internal email from the COVID-19 response team, obtained by The Verge. ‘Don’t hesitate to continue wearing a face mask if you feel more comfortable doing so,’ the email reads. ‘Also, please respect every individual’s decision to wear a mask or not.'” • ”Please respect every individual’s decision to take a dump in the pool or not.” “Please respect every individual’s decision to smoke cigarettes or not.” And so forth.
From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 21:
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.
NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 19:
I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.
Previous Rapid Riser data:
NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August 19:
Flat calm on the hospital front. If you’re CDC, and that’s all that matters to you — because Long Covid isn’t a thing, and everybody who is really sick can get to a hospital — you’re probably feeling good right now.
NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.
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].
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 6:
Complete takeover by BA.5/BA.4. I wonder what’s coming next?
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 30 (Nowcast off):
BA.5/BA.4 moving along nicely.
• “Omicron subvariants BA.4.6 and BA.2.75 are here. How concerned should California be?” [Los Angeles Times]. “[T]he BA.2.75 subvariant has attracted attention for becoming dominant in India and outcompeting BA.5 there, according to a tweet from Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. ‘We’re now seeing signs it can also compete with BA.4.6 in Australia,’ Topol wrote. ‘Just the fact that variants can outcompete BA.5 is of concern.’ And a preprint study from scientists in China suggested that BA.2.75 ‘may prevail’ following the current BA.5 wave. What this means for California and the U.S. is not clear. There have been plenty of variants that have eventually fizzled out. And, as Topol wrote, the trajectory of a variant like BA.2.75 ‘may vary considerably between countries.'”
Wastewater data (CDC), August 19:
Not happy with the grey dots in California, or virtually no dots in Texas and Florida. We have no check on case numbers in critical states.
For grins, August 16:
What I’m really worried about is an increase in grey dots (“no recent data”). because that would mean the effort is being shut down or defunded.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
Lambert here: Deaths also on a “high plateau.” If in fact the drop in cases is real, as CDC seems to believe, we should start seeing deaths, which lag, drop around September 1.
Total: 1,066,082 –
1,065,569 = 513 (513 * 365 = 187,245; today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, thought they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a 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.
• “New York State Led US Life-Expectancy Drop in 2020, CDC Says” [Bloomberg]. “Life expectancy in New York plummeted by three years in 2020, the biggest decline among all states in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Residents of the state are expected to live to just under 78, the 15th-highest life expectancy in the country and a steep drop from 2019, when they had the third-highest ranking, the health authority said in state-level data published Tuesday.” • Hat tip to Andy Cuomo for his stellar work cleaning out the Lebensunwertes Leben in nursing homes.
There are no official statistics of note today.
“The Era of Economic Whiplash Is Just Beginning” [Bloomberg]. “How often do you see employment in nonfarm businesses grow by 4.3% over two consecutive quarters, even as their production declined by 2.3%? How do you explain why car dealers employed 21,000 more workers in July than in April even though sales of motor vehicles and parts were roughly $9 billion lower? What would you tell builders who started 34,000 fewer housing units in July than in April but employed 36,000 more workers to do it?… ‘There is measurement noise,’ Jason Furman from Harvard’s Kennedy School told me. But ‘something very weird is going on in the underlying economy.’ Even the standard noise that regularly shows up in the data seems stranger than usual. For instance, GDP is, by definition, equal to gross domestic income. Somebody’s purchase is someone else’s sale. A modest gap often emerges between readings of the two because they are measured in different ways. But these days the gap is a gaping chasm, wider than anything we have ever seen: While GDP shrank 1.6% in the first quarter, GDI grew 1.8%.” • Maybe the Centers for Disease took over economic data and nobody told us?
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 45 Neutral (previous close: 46 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 56 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 23 at 3:15 PM EDT.
If this were Mnet, we’d see off-kilter cropping:
— CMA: Modern European Painting and Sculpture (@cma_modeuropean) August 23, 2022
Speaking of the male gender:
Second guy is so cool pic.twitter.com/p8fT8JTyYd
— Carl Beijer (@CarlBeijer) August 23, 2022
“Tensions fly high in East Hampton airport drama” [Financial Times]. “Local businesses don’t want to stymie the spending of literal high flyers, while summer people don’t appreciate the relentless chopping of elevator blades over their beach homes.” Hard to pick a side, here. More: ‘Eighty per cent of the town wants the airport to stay open, with restrictions on things like schedules,’ says Andy Sabin, a pro-airport Hamptons resident and plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against the town [which wants to privatize the airport to control the sound]. But we have the wackadoos out here. If you don’t like rich people, go to Venezuela or Cuba and you don’t have to worry about it any more.'” • Maybe Venezuela or Cuba will come here. As Mark Blythe says: “The Hamptons are not a defensible position.”
A photo that was originally captured in 1932, remake by Chicago iron workers. pic.twitter.com/cC6EFnqoJ7
— World Of History (@UmarBzv) August 23, 2022
Not shown, then or now: Administrators shoving them off.
News of the Wired
“Everything’s Going According to Plan” (since drumlin woodchuckles asked):
(This is actually a cover of a Russian punk rock original; I was introduced to both by (the great) Mark Ames. I like the Massive Attack version better (their sound, plus their natty jackets and unemphatic multiraciality).
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