2:00PM Water Cooler 8/3/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Galapagos Martin, Galápagos, Ecuador. This recording is deservedly marked down because it’s mostly the sound of waves on the rocky shore, although the birds are audible from “a rock ledge about 20 feet above the water.” But I like that the recording was done on the Galápagos Island, and I really like the sound of the ocean.

* * *


“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

Capitol Seizure

“First on CNN: Jan. 6 text messages wiped from phones of key Trump Pentagon officials” [CNN]. “The Defense Department wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, according to court filings…. ‘DOD and Army conveyed to Plaintiff that when an employee separates from DOD or Army he or she turns in the government-issued phone, and the phone is wiped,’ the government said in the filing. ‘For those custodians no longer with the agency, the text messages were not preserved and therefore could not be searched, although it is possible that particular text messages could have been saved into other records systems such as email.’ The acknowledgment that the records were not preserved has taken on new significance in the wake of the ongoing scandal over the loss of Secret Service agents’ texts from January 6. ‘It just reveals a widespread lack of taking seriously the obligation to preserve records, to ensure accountability, to ensure accountability to their partners in the legislative branch and to the American people,’ Sawyer said. The Secret Service has said that its texts were lost as a result of a previously scheduled data migration of its agents’ cell phones that began on January 27, 2021, exactly three weeks after the attack on the US Capitol.” • So far as I can tell from the story, the phones were wiped because they were Pentagon phones, not because they were Trump Pentagon phones. We will, of course, be waiting with baited breath for the Biden Administration to “git tough” with records preservation *** cough *** Hunter’s laptops, plural *** cough ***.


“The Kansas Abortion Shocker” [The Atlantic]. “Voters [In Kansas] decisively rejected an amendment that would have allowed the state’s Republican-controlled legislature to ban abortion. With more than 95 percent of precincts reporting, the ‘No’ vote was leading by nearly 18 points. The surprising result keeps abortion legal in a GOP stronghold, one of the few states in the region where conservative majorities have not already outlawed the procedure.” • Eighteen points is rather a lot. The Republican dog may regret it caught the abortion car. Handy map:

Perhaps we have Kansas readers who can expand on this? Seems like good news to me.

Biden Administration

“Biden’s antitrust adviser Tim Wu leaving White House” [Politico]. “Tim Wu, the White House adviser helping to drive the administration’s push to rein in corporate giants with tougher antitrust enforcement is planning to leave his position in the coming months, according to a person with knowledge of the move…. Wu was part of a trio of antitrust hawks President Joe Biden installed last year as part of a push to curb the power sprawling companies — a fight that has focused in particular on tech titans like Amazon and Google. It’s unclear what Wu’s departure means for the Biden administration’s antitrust strategy, but it does mean one of the key drivers of Biden’s antitrust strategy won’t be there to push for those changes anymore…. From his position on the National Economic Council, Wu was a primary architect of Biden’s wide-ranging executive order from July 2021 designed to boost competition throughout the economy….. Wu, along with Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and Justice Department antitrust head Jonathan Kanter, have been praised by progressive advocates looking to rein in corporate power. Wu had also worked on competition policy under President Barack Obama in addition to stints at the FTC and New York Attorney General’s office.” • This is not good news at all.

“Doctor: Biden’s COVID symptoms return, in ‘good spirits’” [Associated Press]. “Biden is required to remain in isolation through at least Thursday under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines — and perhaps longer under tougher White House protocols if he continues to test positive.” • I’m curious to know why White House guidelines would be tougher than guidelines for, oh, “essential workers.”


* * *

AZ: “Trump-Endorsed Election Denier Mark Finchem Wins Arizona Secretary of State Primary” [HuffPo]. “Part of a so-called America First slate of election-denying secretary of state candidates, he will join Nevada’s Jim Marchant and Michigan’s Kristina Karamo as the most prominent right-wing Republicans vying to win seats in order to exert influence over key swing state elections…. “There ain’t gonna be no concession speech coming from this guy,” Finchem said at a campaign fundraiser in late June, according to the Arizona Republic. “I’m going to demand 100% hand count (of ballots) if there’s the slightest hint of any impropriety. And I would urge the next governor to do the same thing.'”• Well, the ballots ought to have been hand-counted from the beginning, ffs. Notice how hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, would entirely defuse this conflict? One can only wonder why Democrats don’t support that policy.

AZ: “Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers loses state Senate bid” [Associated Press]. “Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers lost his bid for a state Senate seat after refusing then-President Donald Trump’s pleas to help overturn the 2020 election results and testifying before Congress about the efforts. Bowers tried to move to the state Senate because of term limits. He lost to former state Sen. David Farnsworth, who criticized him for refusing to help Trump or go along with a contentious 2021 “audit” that Republican leaders in the Senate commissioned.”


He’s running:

Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

“The Kamala Conundrum” [New York Magazine]. “Harris’s office has seen enough turnover to make it a much-whispered-about story line in Washington and beyond. She has replaced her chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, communications director, spokeswoman, national security adviser, and speechwriter (twice), and her longest-serving senior aide, domestic-policy adviser Rohini Kosoglu, will depart this summer. Though Biden and Harris get along and meet regularly, it is rarely in the kind of one-on-one setting like the lunches that famously formed the cornerstone of Biden’s relationship with Barack Obama…. [H]er new staff has suggested she take advantage of interviews with celebrities and influencers to reach nonpolitically focused audiences.” • Let me know how that works out.

“Two House Dem committee chairs are the latest to cast doubt on a Joe Biden run in 2024. We’re keeping a running count of who’s with them” [Politico]. “House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.): ‘Too early to say. Doesn’t serve the purpose of the Democratic Party to, to deal with that until after the midterms.’… House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.): ‘I don’t believe he’s running for reelection.’ (She backtracked in a tweet on Wednesday, saying she would ‘absolutely support President Biden, if he decides to run for re-election’ and calling him the ‘strong and effective leader we need right now.'” • Some backtracking!

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *

“The Democrats Didn’t Just Fail to Defend Social Programs. They Actively Undermined Them” (interview) [Lily Geismer, Jacobin]. ” I wanted to go beyond thinking only about the Democratic Party as a weak party that’s in defensive reaction, which doesn’t give much of a road map for understanding current tensions within the party that can’t be explained through that lens. I also think it also lets the Democrats off the hook.” • Grab a cup of coffee. I think most of us known this history, but it’s nice to see it laid out all in one place.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Delegitimizing the Administrative State” [Nonsite]. “In West Virginia v. EPA, the Supreme Court held that the Environmental Protection Agency did not have the authority to enact a plan it had proposed (but never implemented) because the EPA’s actions presented an “extraordinary case” that triggered application of the major questions doctrine.1 That doctrine, in short, asserts that when issues are very important an agency cannot act on them unless Congress explicitly told the agency it could address the issue in the way it planned to act. It should be apparent in that brief description that the major questions doctrine is a powerful tool in limiting the ability of the administrative state to effectively respond to public policy crises. But the immediate outcome in the case—limiting the ability of the EPA to combat climate change—is only one part of the decision’s significance to constitutional government. The decision by the Court and the concurring opinion by Justice Gorsuch make clear that the Court is waging a war on the legitimacy of the administrative state itself.” • Yep.

“Who Profits?” [The Baffler]. “Nonprofits have grown steadily since the early 1960s, when politicians looked to dramatically expand the role of public-private partnerships in urban governance, particularly in distressed areas. Today, they comprise the third largest sector of the U.S. economy: well over 1.5 million nonprofits employ roughly 12.5 million people as of 2017, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. This growth has coincided with decades of yawning inequality, prompting social movements and scholars alike to look askance at the so-called ‘nonprofit industrial complex‘—the dense networks that connect community activists with professional social workers and managers, public administrators, and philanthropists.” The PMC, in other words. Let it never be said we don’t have a Jobs Guarantee! More: “The inherent financial constraints and unavoidable political considerations that shaped the priorities of local nonprofits rendered them into an intermediary and professionalized, yet tenuous, representation of broader social movements. Their growth was matched by a preponderance of time-consuming administrative paperwork and evaluation.” • Well worth reading in full.


• “What precautions should families take as children return to school? Our medical analyst explains” [CNN]. Leana Wen, naturally. “It all comes down to how much the family wants to avoid Covid-19.” Absolutely no consideration given to other families, let alone collective well-being. And this is a professor of “public” heatlth! I’ve already given Wen her award, I’m not sure what more I can do [bangs head on desk].

* * *

• Here is the CDC on Monkeypox transmission:

For the record, I once again run CDC’s guidance on the Monkeypox in the Congo, which indicates that indeed it can be airborne:

Perhaps those Negroes on the Dark Continent talk more loudly? Could that be why Covid is airborne in the Congo, but not the United States?

• Here is an enormous thread showing how Smallpox is airborne, with a ton of literature. Worth going through it all:

So, Monkeypox is just like Smallpox, so much alike the same vaccines can be used, but one is airborne and the other is not?

NOTE Again, readers know I have strong priors on airborne transmission (but not unbacked by evidence). At a minimum, however, it would be nice if CDC straightened itself out on what its transmission model for Monkeypox actually is, and why they chose it.

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: “The Efficacy of Facemasks in the Prevention of COVID-19: A Systematic Review” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Metastudy. “The initial review yielded 1732 studies, which were reviewed by three study team members. Sixty-one full text studies were found to meet entry criteria, and 13 studies yielded data that was used in the final analysis. In all, 243 subjects were infected with COVID-19, of whom 97 had been wearing masks and 146 had not. The probability of getting COVID-19 for mask wearers was 7% (97/1463, p=0.002), for non-mask wearers, probability was 52% (158/303, p=0.94).” Funding Statement: “This study did not receive any funding.”

• Maskstravaganza:

For some, “letting down these people” was the goal. How else does one cull the herd?

• “‘Downgrade your mask before entering’—a dangerous NHS policy at a critical public health juncture” [BMJ]. “Local masking policies vary widely, but anecdotal reports indicate that some issue all visitors with a single-use disposable paper mask on arrival and ask them to replace the mask they are currently wearing with it. A request for examples on Twitter quickly drew dozens of responses including from immunosuppressed people who had attended for chemotherapy or scans and had been asked to remove their high-filtration FFP2 or FFP3 respirator and replace it with a single-use disposable mask as a condition of entry. In some, but not all, examples, the individual had been able to negotiate putting the single-use mask on top of their respirator. SARS-CoV-2 is an airborne pathogen which is transmitted when people inhale viral particles that infected individuals exhale when speaking, coughing, sneezing, and even just breathing. In contrast with droplet infection which usually occurs via a single ballistic hit, airborne infection risk increases incrementally with the amount of time the lining of the lungs spend continuously exposed to viral-laden air—in other words, with time spent indoors breathing contaminated air.” • So if your hosptials Infection Control administrator is a droplet goon, you could be be up sh*t creek without a paddle. Good job UK Health Security Agency, but the same applies in the US.

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

Case count for the United States:

Lambert here: This tapewatcher is slightly befuddled by the case data. Set aside the worrying assumption that the curves for real cases are the same shape as the curves for reported cases, even though there’s nothing to prove this. But cases are not going through the roof, at least in terms of case reporting. Data artifact? “Vaccine wall”? Why this slow, sawtooth pattern when BA.5 is known to be very infectious? Note that the Walgreens positivity tracker urges that the BA.5 peak was more or less the same level as the Omicron peak, i.e., the real level of infection really is indicated by the blue “Biden Line” (and hence, for example, the level of Long Covid). Note also that deaths exhibit the same weird sawtooth pattern as cases, albeit not at Omicron levels.

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 ~125,000 Today, it’s ~121,700 and 121,700 * 6 = a Biden line at 750,000 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:

The South:

What kind of sick game are Abbott and DeSantis playing? (It has not escaped my notice that big states are driving the national case count, and that DeSantis (Florida) and Newsom (California) are both Presidential timber, and Abbbot might consider himself so.)

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

North Carolina and Georgia have no data today (hence the gaps in the chart).

The West:

Yesterday’s big drop reversed. I’m just not sure I can trust California data. For example, here is San Diego wastewater:

What do California readers think?


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 1:

-0.6%. (I 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.) Starting to look like positivity has peaked, at least for Walgreen’s test population.


NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you. For July 21, 2020:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a totally not-over pandemic.

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 3:

Improvements everywhere (except New Hampshire. Tourism?).

Previous Rapid Riser data:

Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August 3:

More green. Good!


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), July 14:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 16 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely.


Wastewater data (CDC), July 30:

I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest (red) and next-highest (orange) levels (somewhat like Rapid Riser Counties, see on here). What’s visible is that a lot of cities are in trouble; but that coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border. 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.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,055,975 – 1,055,576 = 399 (* 365 = 145,635; the new normal). I have added an anti-triumphalist 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.

NOTE Readers, I introduced a new piece of arithmetic: The level of death that the CDC and the political class generally would like us to become accustomed to.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Factory Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US manufactured goods jumped 2% month-over-month in June of 2022, extending the upwardly revised 1.8% rise in May and well above market forecasts of a 1.1% increase, reflecting strong demand for products. Orders rose 2% among the non-durable goods industries, supported by petroleum and coal products (6%) and chemical products (1.1%). Durable goods industries rose at a slower 0.3%, with strong contributions from computers and electronic products (1.4%) and electronic equipment and appliances (1.3%), while transportation equipment stagnated.” • If we’re in a recession, it sure is a weird one. Perhaps the Fed needs to punish us more.

Services: “United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI unexpectedly increased to 56.7 in July of 2022, the highest in 3-months, from 55.3 in June and beating market forecasts of 53.5.”

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US declined for a fourth month to 60.7 in July of 2022, the lowest reading since May of 2020 mostly due to a decline in transportation prices. The index stayed below the all-time average of 65.3 for a second time but still pointed to a healthy rate of expansion in the logistics industry…. Warehousing Utilization (68.8) and Inventory Levels (68.8) remained strong. source

* * *

The Bezzle: “Untying Tether” (excerpt) [Doomberg]. “Bankruptcy proceedings are notoriously vicious affairs. When multiple classes of creditors are owed more money than what’s available to be split, the brawl over what remains can get bloody. Like vultures crowding a wounded animal, bankruptcy attorneys leave no bone unpicked…. The entanglement of Tether in the Celsius affair puts the controversial operator of the world’s largest crypto stablecoin in an incredibly uncomfortable position, one which might finally pierce the veil of secrecy the company works so hard to preserve. If things play out the way we suspect, Tether could soon be forced to reveal damning specifics about the nature of its business practices. The relationship between Celsius and Tether – especially in the days leading up to Celsius’ demise – just might give interested teams of aggressive lawyers the opening they needed to force Tether to come clean. Let’s dig in.” • Also a potted explanation of the prioritization of creditor claims, which I suspect will be handy.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 39 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 2 at 1:43 PM EDT.

The Conservatory

Did it help then? Would it help now?

Zeitgeist Watch

I wonder what the German word for this is. Not quite schadenfreude:

Class Warfare

“NLRB demand for UMWA to pay Warrior Met Coal strike costs ‘outrageous,’ threatens American workers’ right to strike” [United Mine Workers]. “The United Mine Workers of America today made it clear that it will vigorously challenge an outrageous assessment of damages made by the National Labor Relations Board Region 10 regarding the UMWA’s 16-month strike against Warrior Met Coal in Alabama. ‘This is a slap in the face not just to the workers who are fighting for better jobs at Warrior Met Coal, but to every worker who stands up to their boss anywhere in America,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. ‘There are charges for security, cameras, capital expenditures, buses for transporting scabs across picket lines, and the cost of lost production.’ ‘What is the purpose of a strike if not to impact the operations of the employer, including production,’ Roberts asked. ‘Is it now the policy of the federal government that unions be required to pay a company’s losses as a consequence of their members exercising their rights as working people? This is outrageous and effectively negates workers’ right to strike. It cannot stand.’ The union entered into a settlement agreement in June with NLRB Region 10 regarding charges the company had made about picket line activity in order to save striking members and families from days of hostile questioning by company lawyers. On July 22, the NLRB sent the union a detailed list of damages totaling $13.3 million dollars, more than 33 times the estimated amount NLRB lawyers had initially indicated would be assessed.” • Joe Biden, friend of the working class.

“Warrior Met Coal Declares Special Cash Dividend” [BusinessWire]. • That’s nice.

* * *

“Why Is America Fractured? Blame College, a New Book Argues.” [New York Times]. “[Will] Bunch describes how the dream of college as a tool for democratic citizenship has ‘instead become the rough show-us-your-papers demand for clinging to the middle class.'” And: “While universities always publicly denounce funding cuts, many were not-so-secretly glad for the excuse to become more exclusive, expensive and focused on the wants of the wealthy. That’s how excellence has always been defined in American higher education. Just as tectonic economic shifts left tens of millions of workers needing new training and credentials, the public university system was becoming less affordable and more beholden to “meritocratic” ideas that thinly disguised the interests of the ruling class. Meanwhile, even students who might have been inclined by background and politics to embrace higher learning became disillusioned by the spiraling crisis of debt.”

News of the Wired

I am not yet wired today.

* * *

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 Expat2Uruguay:

Expat2Uruguay writes: I’m traveling in Mexico and I was at the Mayan ruin at the Ek Balam Archaeological Site near Valladolid and spotted this tree, which immediately made me think of that infamous liar, so appropriate for our times of fake news, or is it fake nose?”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Big River Bandido

    “Looking for a poor quality yet expensive restaurant to recommend to an enemy. Any suggestions?”

    I suggest The Palms in Washington, DC. In 2000 I ate a tuna steak there and contracted hepatitis A from it. (Many times since have I wished this same fate on members of Congress.)

    Now I am going to go pass the time by playing a little solitaire…

    1. griffen

      A recent thread was discussing Golden Corral, perhaps that is a destination to suggest but they aren’t everywhere. I visited their locations enough, so I’ve no plan to go again soon…or ever for that matter.

      Plenty of people have a recoil effect for a Waffle House. Not me personally. Cheap breakfast eats.

        1. rowlf

          Rev. Billy C. Wirtz – Waffle House Fire

          I actually visited a Waffle House in Savannah Georgia that had a very good cook. Amazing what an artist can do with common ingredients.

          Oh yeah, if you see more pawn shops than Waffle Houses in a X mile strip you are in a bad neighborhood. In the past you could do local navigation by counting Waffle Houses, just like long distance interstate navigation worked with counting Stuckey’s.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > I actually visited a Waffle House in Savannah Georgia that had a very good cook.

            At least when I was traveling about the country as a consultant, many years ago, there was an East-West line going through southern Pennsylvania where you could expect “good cooking” in ordinary venues. I don’t know if that’s still true.

      1. Gerundegut

        Ponderosa is the executive bathroom (key needed) to the Golden Corral family bathroom (baby changing station with no wipes in the holder and some sketchy smears on the fold out table)


  2. Samuel Conner

    > ‘Downgrade your mask before entering’

    Perhaps one could finesse this problem by donning the lesser-protective mask before entering the facility, and then covering it with a full air-isolated hazmat suit.

    1. CanCyn

      “• So if your hosptials Infection Control administrator is a droplet goon, you could be be up sh*t creek without a paddle. Good job UK Health Security Agency, but the same applies in the US.“
      And in Canada, where we know the droplet goons abound. I have had to go to medical facilities 4 times (in eastern Ontario) during the pandemic. Aside from a walk-in clinic, every time I was asked to remove my KN95 mask in exchange for a flimsy disposable surgical mask. Was always able to negotiate putting it on over my mask. I was told at one place that the masks were used to easily identify patients. Sigh.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I was told at one place that the masks were used to easily identify patient

        Why, it’s almost as if they value institutional imperatives over patient health and safety!

        1. CanCyn

          Indeed, not to mention worker health… along your line of thinking, why not have N95 with institution colours/logo for staff and N95s in a different colour to give out to patients?

  3. nippersdad

    Re wiped DOD phones.

    What ever happened to that facility built by Homeland Security that drinks water and saves everything? It is wild that they can pick up random things from years back by nobodies at three degrees of separation, but this is some kind of big story now. I smell a rat. If they can’t even store stuff from their own governmental phones then we should ask for our money back.

    1. herman_sampson

      I guess it’s too much to ask the NSA for the data (and the data “erased” by the Secret Service)? I thought they recorded and stored everything (although they say they do not do so for USians).

    2. Adam Eran

      Look if they’re willing kill Jeffrey Epstein, I’d say wiping phones is the least they’ll do.

  4. jr

    “Expat2Uruguay writes: I’m traveling in Mexico and I was at the Mayan ruin at the Ek Balam Archaeological Site near Valladolid and spotted this tree, which immediately made me think of that infamous liar, so appropriate for our times of fake news, or is it fake nose?”

    Funny how the human mind works, I was instantly reminded of the day I first discovered my father’s extensive collection of Playboy and Penthouse magazines.

    1. ambrit

      I read “infamous liar” and mused that the tree didn’t look anything like Ronald Reagan.

  5. nippersdad

    I welcome Pete Buttigieg to the presidential sweepstakes. For someone who likes to live vicariously, we have had distressingly little coverage of the Wine Cave scene since he flatlined in South Carolina. He will be the butt of many gig-worker jokes on Twitter, and that is about the best we can expect from his second failed attempt at being relevant.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      And the conservatives will have a field day with him, since having overturned Roe, they’re now aiming for Obergefell, from which he has substantially benefitted.

    2. ChrisPacific

      That’s a little harsh. I think we can also expect:
      – Many erudite speeches that leave audiences impressed at his intelligence while somehow having no recollection of what he actually said
      – Another airing of Pete’s Somaliland Holiday Snaps, prompting several ‘nothing to see here’ dismissals in the MSM
      – His time as transport secretary painted as a great success despite his failure to do anything about supply chain issues (or anything else really)
      – An inexplicably well-funded media campaign culminating in a support base of 5% to 10% of the primary vote
      – A strategically timed capitulation and throwing of support behind the establishment candidate of choice

    3. The Rev Kev

      The fact that Joe Biden was the choice for President presented to voters – and Kamala Harris as his Vice-President – shows that it would be all too easy for Pete Buttigieg to be presented to voters as the only choice to be President. People pushing him will say that it will be so progressive to have the first gay President as it will help LGBT people everywhere. That is the same argument as having Obama as the first black President but after eight years of him, the cause of blacks went backwards. That tweet showing him sucking up to the intelligence community confirms whatever you want to know about him. Just another loyal Son of the Empire.

      1. nippersdad

        I don’t know. I think Idpol has about had its’ fifteen minutes when it comes to ol’ Pete. There are those who would buy it, but you can’t win elections with only ten percent of the vote. I feel as though powdered eggs and milk will be far more popular on ebay right about the time he gets up on his two hind legs and has to explain why starting two front wars were so important that we had to sacrifice everyone on their altar. He is going to be radioactive; hopefully not literally.

        The mere fact that he has been in the same room with Biden will prolly doom any chances he ever had. But, I would love to see his debates with Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene. That would be must see TV.

        1. flora

          The comedy of errors leading to the rise of pols like Buttigieg is the plot line in the 1979 satire “Being There.” ;)

          1. nippersdad


            I just get the impression that the American people are just exhausted with it all. Give me someone who can crush a beer can on his head AND explain how to fix it all without the usual gimmickry and I will show you someone who could win. I don’t follow Fetterman, but from the little I have seen he sounds like the new paradigm.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Give me someone who can crush a beer can on his head AND explain how to fix it all without the usual gimmickry and I will show you someone who could win.

              Fetterman looks like the new paradigm (unless you consider Jesse Venture the only begetter of same). He campaigns like that, too — all that investment in every county really paid off, now that he’s campaigning on the Twitter while still 11 points ahead.

              Whether Fetterman is the new paradigm, I don’t know. I like very much that all the Democrat regulars hate him; that’s my baseline. I like that the Democrat regulars tried to run Black straw from Philly against him and it didn’t work. I like that he took down that twerp Conor Lamb. I like that he never glad-handed anybody at the state Capitol. What that would all add up to in practice in the apple-rotting barrel that is the Beltway, I don’t know.

              1. nippersdad

                He sounds right. I think it is the very slickness of people like Pete that will damn them.; Been there, done that………..There is no novelty in that anymore.

      2. nippersdad

        Speaking of idpol, Ro Khanna is running as well. Sabby Sabs went after him, and I thought this was interesting:


        Ro mentions the ACA three times, and I would have loved to see his face had Sabby asked why Obama strained every nerve to pass Newt Gingrich’s health care bill. That wasn’t progressive in ’93, why Ro thinks it is now is something that always annoys me. As long as she was at it, it might have been nice to point out that Obama’s bail out of the banksters and ongoing QE did him no harm, either.

      3. spud

        he will have Rob Reiners, Joy Behars, Whoopie Goldbergs, and Bette Midlers vote, the ones that really count.

  6. Samuel Conner

    > a new piece of arithmetic:

    Given that this will be with us for a long time, and assuming that WC will continue to track it at the current level of detail, a metric that might be of interest both now and for future retrospective comparisons is

    “COVID deaths as a fraction of deaths from all causes”

    (per this page,


    2020 deaths from all causes were about 3.3 million, so this new normal is a significant perturbation to the mortality statistics)

    Of course, if this metric changes in the future, it might be hard to interpret the meaning of the change. The fraction could increase if Long COVID predisposes people to worse outcomes on subsequent acute infections. But the fraction could decrease if Long COVID predisposes people to adverse outcomes from other medical conditions (which would be recorded as “cause of death”) even more than it does from reinfection.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s a good idea.

      The other number I wish I had was a number for Long Covid. We could just use a percentage of cases, but the case data is awful. It would be nice if there were a proxy of some sort, like “I went to ____, and all I got was a lousy case of Long Covid” T-shirts or some such. Of course, I assume our active and thorough public health establishment is working on that right now.

      1. Verifyfirst

        The census puts out a “Household Pulse” survey every two weeks–if you look at Table 11 under the “Health” section, you find:

        Standard Error Table 11. Current Status and Duration of COVID-19 Symptoms, by Select Characteristics

        1. curlydan

          Interesting survey! 24% of “Total Population 18 Years and Older who Received a Positive COVID-19 Test or Diagnosis from Healthcare Provider” say they _currently_ have COVID symptoms. That’s out of an estimated population of 100 million people.

          35% of that 100 million experienced COVID symptoms for 3 months or more.

          51% of transgender people report currently having COVID symptoms.

          Looking at income and long COVID (3 months+ of symptoms) shows a very linear trend, i.e. long COVID most common in the poorest income group of less than $25K (45% have or had 3 months+ of symptoms) and eventually going down to only 20% among the $200K+ income group with 3 months+ of symptoms.

      2. ChrisPacific

        Data on long Covid in general is really difficult to find. I’ve been trying to get a rough estimate by multiplying the rate of occurrence (most studies seem to put it at around 4-5% for Omicron) by the number of infections – daily, annually or total. If that’s accurate, it comes to a very large number. You’d think they would be making more noise about it.

        The other thing that’s hard to judge is the proportion of long Covid cases that are severely debilitating and/or cause long term impairment of some form (years or more). Media love to write stories about single individuals on this (the woman who has no taste or smell after 2 years, the elite athlete who still can’t run around the block, etc.) but there’s never any indication whether these are outliers or a significant fraction of the population. That’s the part that’s keeping me at home and away from people still, and It’s frustrating to be unable to properly quantify the risk.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > frustrating to be unable to properly quantify the risk

          Wait. You’re telling me you don’t have the data to make a meaningful personal risk assessment?

    2. Rick

      I’m suspicious of the attribution of deaths to covid. I doubt many fatal cardiovascular events weeks or months later are attributed to the infection.

      Here’s a site that shows all excess mortality:
      Excess mortality

      A lot of dying has gone on the last couple of years.

      1. Mikel

        Aug. 2021 through Oct. 2021. Many states had serious serious rises in that period.

        Mindboggling jumps:
        Alaska – Aug 2021 thru Jan 2022
        Conneticutt – March thru June 2020
        DC – March thru June 2020
        Mass. – March thru June 2020
        NJ – March thru June 2020
        NY – March thru June 2020
        N. Dakota – Sept. 2020 thru Dec. 2020
        S. Dakota – Sept. 2020 thru Dec. 2020
        Wyoming – Aug. 2021

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Here’s a site that shows all excess mortality:

        Thanks. I stopped running the CDC’s excess mortality chart when it became clear that the enormous typo in the legend was never going to be fixed. That means nobody in CDC is looking at it, meaning we can’t be sure the algo is correct.

  7. DJG, Reality Czar

    It’s fascinating, in a sick sort of way, how monkeypox is being forced through a filter of puritanism so that instead of saying it’s an airborne disease, we get to talk about it as involving ‘intimate contact.” Even Wikipedia recognizes that the virus is airborne:

    “Human-to-human transmission can occur through exposure to infected body fluids or contaminated objects, by small droplets, and possibly through the airborne route.[1][21] People can spread the virus from the onset of symptoms until all the lesions have scabbed and fallen off; with some evidence of spread for more than a week after lesions have crusted.[20”

    What’s remarkable to me is how avoiding the simple facts means that monkeypox is now “socially constructed.” It’s those darn gayfolk. Hold on to your pustules, because it’s going to be a bumpy night.

    Likewise, we see the “social construction” of masks and how the social construction of masks took the less advantageous route. That is, it is well known the wearing masks stopped last winter’s flu season, and wearing masks is very helpful in preventing spread of COVID. One wouldn’t know it from the “social constructed” disagreements.

    So much for the dealing with evidence. As an admirer of Lucretius (and Epicurus), who said that one can rely on the evidence of one’s senses, I’m not impressed with how many people cannot deal with data without dragging those data through the swamp of their opinions. Which is the very definition of propaganda.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that this denial of airborne transmission is all about money, whether you are talking about Coronavirus or Monkeypox. An airborne transmission of a virus would require a more expensive revamping of buildings, attention being paid to ventilation, etc. If you deny it happening, you can get away with just handing out a cheap surgical mask and not even making it mandatory.

    2. kareninca

      It sure is going to take the joy out of shopping at Goodwill. I ordered some used clothing online very recently, in order to purchase before monkeypox is a factor. I guess one could quarantine used clothes for several weeks after buying them online. I’m still pondering the microbe’s resistance to soap and water. I’m not used to germs that can’t be killed by the washing machine.

      But then, how much do I have to worry? I am old enough to have had a smallpox vaccination. Does this mean I should be volunteering to help in situations where that vaccination makes me safe enough? Oh, right, they wouldn’t want me; I haven’t taken the covid vaccine.

      Is this variant of monkeypox going to evolve to get around those old vaccinations?

      Also, is it spreading now because of its new genetic mix? Or is it spreading because the population’s overall immune condition is weakening? I would like to know if people who have been covid-vaccinated are more or less likely to catch it, and whether people who have had covid are more or less likely to catch it.

  8. Screwball

    A couple of things. 1) Tim Wu. From the article; Wu was part of a trio of antitrust hawks President Joe Biden installed last year as part of a push to curb the power sprawling companies — a fight that has focused in particular on tech titans like Amazon and Google.

    What exactly has Tim and his cohorts done to curb the power of these tech behemoths?

    2) Mayo Pete. Running, for sure. My PMC friends adore this battery powered chameleon robot humanoid. I can’t think of too many people more puke worthy myself, but that’s just me. Can’t someone find a scandal or something to get this creep out of office before heaven only knows what damage he can do with more power. NO to Pete, full stop.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What exactly has Tim and his cohorts done to curb the power of these tech behemoths?

      I quoted some of this; the article has more. The Biden Administration has been unexpectedly not entirely bad on anti-trust. as even Stoller agrees. (Of course, I think that if Khan actually brought a big case against Google et al. and looked ready to win it, the Democrats would trade a settlement for a brutal censorship regime even worse than the one we have. But Khan still would have gotten farther than anyone in a long time…).

      1. Pat

        Yeah, when people started trying to list Biden’s accomplishments to support that greatest President ever idiocy of Reiner’s, this was pretty much the only thing that worked for me. (But then I take a closer look at his judicial nominees then most so called liberals do.) it truly is the most surprising and helpful thing in his entire administration.

        1. John

          My candidates for greatest ever: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. I remember FDR from a child’s perspective. He is head, houlders, trunk, and knees above all his successors

          1. elissa3

            Only FDR and Lincoln were true political geniuses. Without either one, there is no USA. Washington is especially notable for how he walked away from being crowned king-president when a good chunk of the elite thought he should be. Or maybe he was just fed up with the lot.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                LBJ and Nixon were both great and tragically flawed figures. If we had either of them in office today we would be so much better off.

                LBJ was President from 1963 to 1969; Nixon from 1969 to 1974. Interestingly, this period straddled the inflection point in the mid-70s. It would be interesting to know if the tectonic shifts that started at that time amplified their flaws in any way.

                A reader recently posted a site that aggregated a large number of charts documenting this inflection point. (I think of it as when real wages flattened.)

                Can somebody who remembers repost the link?

            1. JBird4049

              >>>Or maybe he was just fed up with the lot.

              Could be. I would not be surprised.

              However, unlike our current bunch of elites, the Founders actually, not just read, but studied history especially the Roman Republic. They would have known about Cincinnatus, a leader famous for voluntarily giving up his dictatorship and going back to his farm, of the early Republic and then Julius Caesar, a leader famous for being murdered after seizing power, and effectively the last dictator of the Roman Republic.

            2. flora

              Their character counted for something, too. B. Clinton had political genius but a poor character, imo. He used his political savvy to make life much worse in the long run for millions and millions of his voters.

    2. Pat

      I was going to say there is so much out there showing Pete as a deceptive and incompetent empty suit, he won’t survive a campaign.

      But then I remembered that Biden was such an obviously bad candidate that he tanked early in his previous campaigns for President, but then a.whole bunch of people banded together to take a known sexually harassing, plagiarist demented ass with clearly corrupt doings with his son and brother over the line.

      And if Biden could survive, Pete will have a cakewalk to the nomination.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The elections just ratify and gift a thin veneer of “legitimacy” to the selection of candidate by closed-club parties.

      2. John

        I have not heard one name as a possible, even long shot, candidate for president in 2024 that I would vote for in any category above hold your nose and pick the least worst.

      3. nippersdad

        IIRC, there was an analysis that showed even Clyburn didn’t think that he could get Buttigieg over the line with black demographics. Pete also couldn’t compete with the Hispanic vote; he did terribly in Nevada. Hence Biden. That they could manage to get Biden elected with those demographics on board even after the demonstrated harm he had done with his crime and bankruptcy bills shows just how toxic Pete is with the minority vote. And you can’t win without them.


          1. nippersdad

            Maybe the White House should have another summit of the influencers on YouTube. It is prolly high time to bring back Elvis haircuts and platform shoes, then they could have a photoshoot of him with Zelensky for Vogue.

            The PR advantages would be incalculable.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I don’t understand the appeal of Mayor Pete.

          As we saw in Iowa 2020, Buttigeig is a vicious and unscrupulous infighter, as befits his McKinsey heritage. Some may find these characteristics attractive. I would love to count that slippery little scut out, but I don’t think we can.

    3. Stephen

      I don’t understand the appeal of Mayor Pete.

      What has he accomplished? I mean real, concrete, physical accomplishments. What exists now that would never have existed if not for his contribution?

      Ivy league credentials and a stint as a management consultant. Nothing particularly noteworthy in that. then went to Iraq as a REMF and again did nothing particularly noteworthy. He was a mediocre mayor of a failing rustbelt town. Was catapulted to public consciousness by a compliant media apparatus due primarily to identity politics, as the token gay guy in a Dem primary. Rewarded for an endorsement with a promised cabinet position.

      Now he’s a thoroughly mediocre Transportation Secretary who oversaw a series of cascading crises that directly caused the inflation problems we have now.

      I don’t get it. What does he expect to run on?

    4. notabanker

      A scandal?

      Like setting up a charitable foundation and getting payments from foreign governments while a cabinet member?

      Or maybe sleeping with your political mentor to get primo appointments on your way to the ticket?

      Or maybe having a close family member selling access to you to foreign governments in exchange for prominent and high paying board seats?

      Yeah, that would definitely bring him down.

  9. jr

    Esteemed Cornell University medical researcher and inventor Dr. Gary Nolan is interviewed by Tucker Carlson regarding the data on injuries caused to military personnel by UFO encounters:


    Some highlights:

    -Nolan asserts this is all very, very real. He won’t make claims other than to speak about the data he has been asked to analyze by the CIA but he makes no bones about it: There is something going on and it’s big. World-historical big.

    -While there are a number of incidents of people being harmed by exposure to UFO’s, mostly what appears to be radiation exposure, there is no evidence that he knows of where humans were specifically targeted for harm. The injuries range from damaged skin to damaged internal organs and up to “white disease” patches in the brain, i.e. dead zones. There have been some deaths.

    -He declines to speculate to Tucker what he thinks are behind these events/encounters but he did say his colleagues say it’s definitely not of human origin.

    -A Mexican physicist has developed a mathematics for a “warp” drive of some kind, it takes insane amounts of energy. Some other researchers have begun to apply those maths to what we know of UFO’s and it seems as if there is a fit.

    -Nolan asserts that the government and in turn aerospace corporations are in possession of UFO materials/technology but they cannot make heads nor tails of it. They have, of course, tried to profit off of it. Nolan says that the technology is “hundreds” of technology cycles ahead of our own.

    -The Vatican has records of encounters of UFO’s in it’s archives that go back a long time in history. There are other historical accounts as well.

    -Nolan relays that many of his colleagues at Cornell and in academia are warming up to exploring the UFO question, as the stigma begins to fade away. Also, he notes that a number of them have quietly discussed their own encounters with UFO’s with him. He saw one as well when he was a youth.

    -There is definitely a connection between the UFO’s and our nuclear technology. He opines that whoever is behind it all doesn’t want a bunch of monkeys running around with nukes, more or less. Who can blame them?

    -The reports of encounters with entities Nolan knows of entail “Grays” and the thinking is that they are biological robots of some kind acting as an intermediary. I thought of those robot animals researchers send into to wild dog packs and gorilla families.

    -No one has any idea what the Others want. Or if they are actually interested in us. If they wanted us all dead, we would be dead.

    Nolan does bring up the “Why would anyone want to talk to ants?” trope and I found that a bit disappointing. First of all, there are plenty of people who study ants and with good reason: they can be a force to be reckoned with:


    but more specifically, even for a bunch of rarified chimps, we do possess complex technologies and abstract thinking. Civilizations have to start somewhere. Perhaps our value to them is that we can see the world in a particular way. Nature is the best chemist around and Allah delights in infinite variety, is it so far of a stretch to imagine an intelligent species wanting to study the root origins of another intelligent species? Plus, we invented ice cream.

    1. jr

      I forgot to add that Nolan mentions that a school in New Jersey is now offering a post-doctoral fellowship to study UFO’s.

      1. petal

        The late Art Bell interviewed John Burroughs, of the Rendlesham Forest incident, and Burroughs said the MDs asked him if he had been exposed to radiation as his symptoms were pointing in that direction.

        1. jr

          Nolan briefly discusses Burroughs’ case, noting that his medical files were long classified. Also, the VA denied his intial claim. It took John McCain interceding to get Burroughs treated.

    2. Mikel

      Just spit balling here for fun:
      The aliens are just doing a survey of an area they can soon have conflict free. They don’t have to do any mass killing. They see the humans doing a fine job of killing themselves.

    3. Sutter Cane

      Perhaps our value to them is that we can see the world in a particular way.

      They heard Chuck Berry doing Johnny B. Goode from the record on Voyager, and decided they had to hear more of that.

    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      I watched the whole interview. I TOO have a couple observations.

      A) The Stanford doctor studys blood. Right? IIRC, he doesn’t go into the blood details on any of the UFO Encountees he personally interviewed. He says he drew blood from some. Why did he not talk about that? Instead, he focused on nausea/skin inflammation symptoms.

      B) Speaking of blood, and this is def my opinion only, the good scientist gave off Elizabeth Holmes vibes. Like Theranos is this dudes research bs too?

      C) Why is the possibility never mentioned that maybe it’s another country’s military who’s developing these UFOs?

      D) Havana Syndrome makes up a majority of the cases in the CIA X files. Hmmm…

      Anyways. Looks like being a UFO Encountee will become a new Identity Silo.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > Like Theranos is this dudes research bs too?

        A quick search at Pub Med on “Garry Nolan” yields hundreds of papers on conventional biomedical topics co-authored by him. In many of these, he is the final author in the author list, which typically means “corresponding author” (ie, head of the primary research group involved in the project).

        He’s a serious and very reputable academic.

        The interview is wild, and I wondered a bit that he was even allowed to mention his contacts with the intelligence community. Perhaps there is a “from above” push for more transparency.

        There’s a single published paper on this new research agenda, on the topic of methodologies for analysis of exotic materials (i.e., materials that may be associated with UAPs)


        I have no idea what to make of all this, other than that the principals are serious people. I would say, “stay tuned; this may get interesting.”

        1. Samuel Conner

          I’ll add that “renowned professor interested in UAP-related phenomena” is not a completely unprecedented thing.

          In the early-90s there was a conference at MIT on alien abductions. I believe it was organized by David Pritchard, a famous physicist who did ground-breaking work in the field of atomic physics and atom/light interactions.

          It may be that the kind of mind that is able to discover or invent completely new things is also open to possibilities that seem absurd to everyone else.

          I’m a little dismayed that, granting what was said in the interview, it has not in past been a higher priority for the US military to understand these phenomena. They might be matters of national security (technology developed by human adversaries), and if not then they might be more important than the parochial concern to prepare for conflicts with our human adversaries.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we do possess complex technologies and abstract thinking.

      In Our Friends from Frolix 8, Philip K. Dick suggests that what is really unique across planets is tsotchkes and kitsch, and that’s what the aliens want to trade.

  10. bradford

    The Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro wastewater data is broken down by variant; you can see the successive waves of BA.2, BA.2.12.1, and BA.5 (now dominant) over the past couple of months. It turns out that they add up to a roughly constant viral load, even though within each variant there is more or less the usual wave behavior.

    The data is updated weekly, and is available at https://metrotransitmn.shinyapps.io/metc-wastewater-covid-monitor/. The metro area includes a little more than half of the state population, although the city sewage system may not cover all of that.

    1. kareninca

      There is something I don’t understand. Couldn’t you have a constant high viral load in sewage – as we now seem to have in the Palo Alto, CA area – without new cases? Couldn’t it just be people who aren’t clearing the virus from their bodies, and so are continuing to excrete it? But who test negative when they have a nasal swab?

      It could be that earlier the sewage levels showed new infections, but that now it is just ongoing hidden infections. The charts look like chronic infection to me. Not that I am any sort of expert at all.

      That said, I still know people in this area who are catching it anew, or for the first time.

  11. madarka

    That tree looks like a Ceiba (for English speakers, it’s pronounced say-ba) common throughout the tropical Americas. Ceibas tend to grow tall and old with spectacular canopies. There are two or three specimens in the big parks in my city, but they’re too big to be regular city trees.

    Re monkeypox, I have to say I’m increasingly concerned. Given that it lingers in surfaces, is likely airborne, and there is nothing in particular being done to educate people or to actually curtail transmission anywhere in the world, it it gonna end up being endemic?

    1. mistah charley, ph.d.

      About monkeypox: Costco is one of the few public places I go to these days, and at a recent visit something like a third of the clientele were masked, as I was. We are in Montgomery county, MD, adjoining DC – I have read that Washington has the highest monkeypox rate in the country. As I entered the store on Monday I noted a fellow customer using the provided wipes to clean the cart handles. For covid, I have come to see that as overkill; but now, as monkeypox spreads, I think I will start doing that myself.

  12. Jason Boxman

    Mexico’s Cruel Drought: ‘Here You Have to Chase the Water’

    Small business owners like Ms. De Los Ángeles are frustrated that they are left to fend for themselves while Monterrey’s big industries are largely able to operate normally. Factories are able to draw 50 million cubic meters of water per year because of federal concessions that give them special access to the city’s aquifers.

    Seems apocalyptic.

    1. John

      Sounds like all the descriptions of small pox and it means of spreading that I have ever read. The only positive I can see is that it is far less lethal.

  13. Marti61

    Yup, I”m in Kansas. the other part of the story- Kris Kobach won the Republican primary for Kansas AG- what a piece of work- will probably be back on the public payroll. If you are familiar with his MO of creating chaos- the ability to pursue groundless prosecutions with public monies gives one pause. Even so, much relief out here.

    1. flora

      Yep. The GOP moderate wing doesn’t want him back, either. It was a much closer vote than he was expecting, winning only a plurality. Who can forget this career…uh…highlight?

      A Judge Sent Kris Kobach Back to Law School. Now He Wants To Be Kansas’ Attorney General.

      Kobach did such a poor job defending his state’s immigration law, the judge sentenced him to remedial law courses.


    2. voteforno6

      How organized was the “No” vote on the abortion amendment? There might be some lessons there.

      1. curlydan

        I’d say the pro-choice organization started slow. I would continually see pro-life bumper stickers and signs early in the year and complain to my family about the lack of pro-abortion rights signs. Until Roe v Wade was overturned, I didn’t see any yard signs. Then slowly the “No” signs overtook the pro-life signs in all the urban neighborhoods I saw. So the pro-abortion rights forces got their act together, but I think the U.S. Supreme Court decision (or the leaked decision) was what lit the fire.

        On the topic of the map shown above, I would not read too much into the “rural” counties voting majority pro-choice. Most of those rural counties on that map are in 1 of 3 categories: 1. Urban adjacent (i.e. near big counties like Johnson County, Sedgewick, Wyandotte), 2. Capitol adjacent (near Topeka and Shawnee county), or 3. University adjacent (near Douglas County and KU or Riley County and K-State). Now that doesn’t mean that pro-choice may have shaved points and people from other rural areas. Just a 10 percentage point flip from “Trump” voters to pro-choice voters among all those rural counties could make a big difference.

    3. Pelham

      Also in Kansas and a native: The map Lambert displays is interesting. The big pro-abortion vote was concentrated mainly — though not entirely — in the densely populated urban areas of Kansas City, Wichita and Topeka as well as Douglas and Riley counties, home to the big universities. So we see somewhat reproduced in plains-state miniature the red-blue voting pattern nationwide.

      1. Adam Eran

        I’ve searched the web in vain for any reference to the influence of Koch money in the abortion race. Could they have stuck to their libertarian values (any abortion, performed by anyone is legal), or sidestepped their willingness to lay those values aside (“Hey, let’s join Jerry Falwell in this political movement”), or just not participated? Anyone know?

        Personally, I’d suggest their willingness to fund a primary opponent of anyone who steps out of line in the R party is an important component of party discipline. After all, Kochs spent $889 million in 2016 on things political. (Pseudo-lefty) Soros only spent $27 million, less than 1/30th Kochs, and most of that on Hillary.

  14. cgregory

    Re: The SCOTUS ruling on the “extraordinary” nature of the EPA case. I seem to recall they used that same term in Bush v. Gore. Stand by for more “extraordinary” cases to come before them.

  15. ACF

    Re hand-counting ballots, while I’ve always appreciated its apparent simplicity, tabulators are actually more accurate/consistent (because in part they don’t get tired or distracted) and the sheer number of ballots to look at, in many places, makes hand counting profoundly impractical.

    Elected County Recorder Stephen Richer, (R) Maricopa County, AZ, has been really good on the need for tabulators. Many states toyed with bills to eliminate tabulators, none took the plunge. Nonetheless Nye County, NV, with some 30k voters, looks like it will this November.

    Of course, any tabulator needs to be tested before and after the count, and all counts should undergo routine audits as states generally require. These tests and audits are generally public, though traditionally most don’t go observe.

    Note: While I support tabulators counting votes that voters themselves record on paper (recognizing that a small number of people with disabilities will need an accommodation to vote independently and privately and not by filling in bubbles on a paper ballot), I adamantly oppose ballot marking devices or electronic voting machines generally, outside of the important disabled voter use case.

    1. Revenant

      The counter argument is that UK constituencies regularly hand count *and re-count* 50k+ votes by hand in a few hours after polling closes at 10pm (c. 100k voters in each but only 50% bother). Only in very close races or very spreadout constituencies (e.g. tje Highlands and Islands) are the results significantly delayed beyond the morning papers.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        They are only counting one race. My primary ballot yesterday had almost 15 different offices listed and two local initiatives.

        I am not so sure you want that many hands touching ballots.

      2. ACF

        Yes re many races.

        In addition to the many races/ballot propositions, the scale is different. American jurisdictions can have a million or more ballots to count, and lots and lots of America is empty space, many jurisdictions are sparse. In small places where elections are run on the municipal level instead of the county level, as is true in some states, or in some sparsely populated counties (many American counties are sparsely populated), I’m sure they do count ballots by hand. In some large places, like Suffolk County, NY absentee ballots would be counted by hand, every race. Even though there didn’t used to be that many of them, because NY had a strong in-person voting tradition, the process took weeks.

        1. ACF

          P.s. New York overhauled its absentee ballot canvassing process for the 2022 election, and absentee ballots will now be processed (the envelope reviewed to make sure the voter was eligible, signed the ballot, and the ballot signature matched) before election day, and the ballots will be fed into a tabulator the day before early voting starts, but they cannot be tabulated until close of polls.

          1. ACF

            Moreover, in 2020 the delay in AZ and WI in counting just the received-by-close-of-polls election day absentee ballots (which in large jurisdictions were surely fed into tabulators) coupled with the never-before-true clear partisan lean of the mail ballots, given President Trump’s demonization of mail voting, was enough to fuel fraud claims for the past two years.

            (In years past, mail votes often leaned R b/c Rs, the more shrewd and effective party, were very good about increasing turnout by using mail voting. In particular, old people lean R and old people are more likely to vote by mail. D voters–particularly Black people–were traditionally rightly suspicious their mail votes would be more likely rejected, disenfranchising them, and so voted in person. )

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > any tabulator needs to be tested before and after the count,

      I would say during, regularly, and in public. The difficulty is that any digital device is intrinsically hackable and without detection, and the stakes in most elections are enormous, so there’s every incentive to cheat.

  16. flora

    re: Brian Lowry tweet about Kansas Abortion amendment vote results.

    “One thing that is very striking about the abortion vote map from last night. It’s not just urban and suburban counties like WyCo, JoCo & Sedgwick– several rural GOP leaning counties like Osage (which hasn’t vote for a Dem since LBJ) also voted no. pic.twitter.com/cCIlQDDsPT

    — Bryan Lowry ”

    He’s picked up on something not noticed by the national press. In many, many western and southern KS counties that voted yes, where one expected the YES vote to be in landslide territory it wasn’t. In many of the heavy GOP counties the vote was much closer than expected. This down thread tweet puts it well.

    “And if you look at a lot of the Yes counties even then it was close. Saw a few splits like 52-48.”


    I went through the Topeka Capitol Journal newspaper’s online listing of county results and saw many rural, GOP majority counties with close votes. That was surprising.

    1. Daryl

      I wonder how much their galaxy brain tactics harmed this — the misleading texts and such.

  17. petal

    Jeff Bezos’ unfinished mega yacht towed away after bridge drama, threats of egging

    Snip:”Jeff Bezos’ unfinished mega yacht was towed away from a Dutch shipbuilding yard before dawn Tuesday just weeks after Rotterdam residents threatened to pelt the luxury vessel with eggs if the city went through with plans to dismantle a landmark bridge to make way for the $500 million ship.

    The 417-foot long, three-masted yacht, which goes by the name Y721, was relocated from the Oceanco shipyard in Alblasserdam to the Greenport yard just 24 miles away in Rotterdam, according to the German-language daily Der Spiegel.

    Video of the towing was posted to YouTube by Dutch yacht enthusiast Hanco Bol.

    “We never saw a transport going that fast,” Bol writes of what he witnessed. It took less than three hours for the ship to travel southwest along the Noord canal even though it normally requires nearly twice as much time to traverse the route, according to Bol.”

    1. griffen

      Pity poor little Jeff, deprived of his grown up toy. It’d be a damn shame if something happened to that yacht en route to….wherever they had to move it to ultimately install the ridiculous masts.

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    I suspect that the “keep legal abortion state-constitutional” vote in Kansas is not so-much an endorsement of legal abortion as it is rather more an expression of rising resentment against Christian Sharia Law and Christian Satanist Rule and Oppression. If THAT is what it is, then the Christian Satanists and the Talibangelicals and so forth may begin enjoying defeats in Kansas and other states on other issues, as normal people begin trying to drive the Christian Satanist/Talibangelical power-seekers back into their lead-lined crypt.

    As to abortion itself, Christian Satanist terrorist groups will re-increase their campaign of assassination, arson, bombing against abortion provision sites and personnel. While I will vote in support of legal abortion, I will not give my life for it. So since most Law Enforcement is antibortion and pro-Talibangelical in many of these states, it will become up to the probortion movement itself to begin arming and training to be able to field bigger action groups of assassins and counter-assassins, abortion-site defenders, car followers and Christian Satanists terrorism-supporter harrassers, home address and other-dox information finders and releasers, etc.

    The abortion rights that pro-legal-abortion supporters are not prepared to out-kill their violent enemies in defense of . . . are the legal-abortion rights which the supporters of legal abortion will lose in any case if the Christian Satanist movement can assassinate and arsonise and bomb and terrorise the abortion-provision community into cessation-of-activity or into physical extinction altogether.

    That is the Darwin’s Choice which the Christian Satanist community will force the legal abortion community to make.

    1. notabanker

      I cannot believe this nonsense is allowed here. The nutjobs at zero hedge are far more creative and entertaining with their delusional bigotry. This is amateur hour.

      1. Yves Smith

        I am sorry, we saw this only after it went live and too may people had commented on it. The mods were upset and asked me and I didn’t see their messages right away because reasons.

        I agree this is utterly inappropriate and makes the site look bad. But we DO NOT moderate all comments, only ones that hit tripwires wind up in moderation and most go through without prior review.

        I am as appalled as you are.

        Drumlin has been put in moderation.

    2. hunkerdown

      Pro-legal-abortion supporters are defending their “enemies”. It’s theater. If they really meant to be serious about it, they would just say

      Not yours

      stock photo of pregnant woman with hand cannon

      Bottom text

      You know why you don’t see that sign? Because allowing women to veto social reproduction on an individual basis isn’t what the two-party cosmos is about.

  19. Skippy

    O/T I feel compelled to advise our City of London readers that my eldest daughter is inbound and will be residing at City Walk, London Bridge, London SE1. Fair warning, whilst seemingly a playful marsupial sort with a very cheeky naughty cackle, one would not suspect from her visage, although, beware the miffed marsupial blow back – you’ve seen the videos on NC.

    One more thing … if the tears start run for your life … that activates the marsupial demon marsupial gateway and all bets are off …

    So if out and about and one hears that cackle above the din of everything else – that’s my fault for procreating … amends all …

    1. Revenant

      Is she here visiting or working? If an NC welcome or introductions would be useful, let us know – but she might want to avoid the old man’s weird blog friends!

      1. Skippy

        Her long term boyfriend from HS lives and works in the City [ex Fundsmith (accounting – too many lashes 6/7 days a week)] now working with some environmental mob] with a Oz mate [lawyer]. She is going to have a break from public service work in child services and then see whats on offer after a bit of travel.

        I think as her boyfriends family is originally from the area so she will be well looked after, but ta. Getting 5 star restaurant and some hot theater gig on the first night after landing treatment … ohhh la te da …

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > some hot theater gig

          I went to 13 shows in a ten days, including two King Lears, back in the day. In the 2020s, even pre-Covid, the offerings seemed a bit thinner.

          I hope your daughter was a wonderful time in London, still a world city despite the idiocy.

  20. StevRev

    Re: Maskstravaganza: “The Efficacy of Facemasks in the Prevention of COVID-19: A Systematic Review”

    One of the 13 studies that was included in the review dates from 2004 (using SARS as a stand-in for COVID-19, I guess). Another study used military style gas masks (i.e., supplied air respirators). Authors don’t do a very good job of explaining why they excluded the large majority of the published studies from their analysis.

  21. Karl

    Off Thread: According to Bloomberg Sinema wants to reduce tax hikes on the wealthy

    Senator Kyrsten Sinema is seeking to preserve a tax break for investment managers and narrow a levy hike on large corporations in the economic package Democrats want to pass as soon as this week, people familiar with the discussions said.

    Of course! This cynic’s theory: she’s just playing the part that Schumer has choreographed for her, as is Manchin.

    1. Daryl

      Thank goodness the carried interest tax loophole is still in place, I’ll think to myself as I fight off mutant raiders with a sharpened stick for a bucket of water in the year 2023.

  22. Mikel

    “‘Downgrade your mask before entering’—a dangerous NHS policy at a critical public health juncture” [BMJ].

    “… A request for examples on Twitter quickly drew dozens of responses including from immunosuppressed people who had attended for chemotherapy or scans and had been asked to remove their high-filtration FFP2 or FFP3 respirator and replace it with a single-use disposable mask as a condition of entry. ”

    How can you trust any medical advice they give on anything?
    That’s obvious that they are trying to kill somebody.

    1. jax

      Well, if this happens, at least we can end the animal cruelty towards pigs. Any lift in their burden will be appreciated, I’m sure.

    2. ChrisRUEcon

      I was thinking about (something like) this the other day, but because of the Star Trek movie where the Enterprise and crew time travel back to our time and Bones gives a woman in a hospital some magic that makes her grow a new kidney … LOL

      But yes, wonderful news that will probably be the plot to the next Bond film before it gets real when the tech and finance bros get their hands on it.

      Then again … Siempre Hay Esperanza (via YouTube, a hopeful instrumental interlude)

  23. Pat

    For those who don’t know only one of the two Congressional chairpersons quoted by Politico in regard to Biden running will be returning in January. Their Manhattan districts were rolled into one and they are locked in a primary battle. That actually makes Maloney backtracking on Biden more interesting, as it indicates she believes a significant portion of Manhattan apparently does not want to hear that Biden isn’t running.
    And yes my neighbors could be that stupid. (My small section of Manhattan is now combined with an another borough and wouldn’t be represented by either Nadler or Maloney).

  24. notabanker

    It seems to me that since the Bret Stephens NYT article basically calling for Biden not to run in 24, the wolves have been circling. Manchin suddenly sees the light on a climate change bill, Pelosi has a great desire to visit Taiwan, the rats are leaving Kamala’s ship, articles speculating on AOC and now Mayo Pete throwing up (pun intended) his trial balloons.

    It sure sounds like the deal for him to step aside is done and now they are scrambling to find the best replacement sociopath to back.

    1. Mikel

      I see that Taiwan had Pelosi wearing a mask. The Taiwanese can at least see some of the crazy going on here.

      1. Greg

        I noted specifically that the globe trotting provocateur was in an N95 while her hosts were all in surgical masks. Possibly some “we’ve got it under control but she’s from a let it rip country” calculation?

  25. ChrisRUEcon


    LOL … I love when there’s material on our “Vapid Veep” in the 2PM Water Cooler!

    > [H]er new staff has suggested she take advantage of interviews with celebrities and influencers to reach nonpolitically focused audiences

    Wow … “celebrities and influencers” … I guess Pokémon Go To The Polls (via YouTube) was already taken, so I we’re gonna have to TikTok To The MidTerms.

    Indeed, Lambert, let’s see how that works out for ’em.

    1. nippersdad

      Why not just cut the Gordian knot and get Kamala to run with Caitlyn Jenner as the VP? I can see the MSM crowd melting into a cuddle puddle over the whole bi-partisanishness of the whole thing.

      And they still would not look any more clownish than they already do.

  26. Carolinian

    So apparently Pelosi is now saying people are just picking on her because she is a woman and nobody got up in arms when Lindsey Graham and others visited the island in April. Which is exactly what you would expect her to say and indication this was not a Pelosi “win” as opined by Larry Johnson and others. Perhaps the Chinese themselves finally realized who they were dealing with and how she would be elevated in importance if they did try to stop her.

    A vain old woman tried to hog the spotlight and drew a great deal of negative attention to herself. Not a win.

    1. Questa Nota

      Pelosi could get credit for some focus group work, over cocktails and ice cream, to see what would get noticed and repeated by her stenographers, although she comes across as too imperious to deal with such.

      1. nippersdad

        Those focus groups must have taught her something. After her Kente cloth fail, at least she didn’t borrow one of Hillary’s Kim Jong Un suits.

      2. Carolinian

        BTW thinking about it I believe my comment is indeed a bit male chauvinist., But, still, you don’t get to break glass ceilings and put yourself in a position of great power and then pull the woman card when you are criticized. Pelosi attacks the cliche by playing into it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Pelosi is now saying people are just picking on her because she is a woman

      She’s third in line to the Presidency FFS. She’s probably the most powerful elected official in the United States after President Manchin and the Senate Parliamentarian. Really a second-rate answer from Pelosi.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My gut is Pelosi is trying to recapture past glory (the clap) by playing some golden oldies and genuinely expected a “yasss queen!” response. She can’t point to any particular reason for the overnight trip.

  27. Gulag

    Insightful articles like “Who Profits,” and “Delegitimizing the Administrative State,” seem to forget that one quite unique historical fact about the American political experience is that at its foundation it articulates an anti-power ethos.

    The ideas of equality, liberty and individualism do not form a coherent ideology but at their core, as expressed in the Constitution, they radiate an enduring interest in imposing limits on government power.

    Perhaps a deeper cause of crisis in American society is not the absence of a powerful administrative state but rather the never-ending gap between our somewhat incoherent ideals (equality, liberty and individualism) and the social and political institutions we manage to create–like the 1.5 million non-profits which end up as intermediary and professionalized…matched by a preponderance of time-consuming administrative paperwork and evaluation.”

    1. tegnost

      Regulation is what we want, not administration. Administrators enforce regulations.
      Liberty and individualism require regulations to prevent the powerful from taking said liberty and individualism away, i.e. administrators are only as good as the regulations they enforce…ww!! germany had good administrators…

  28. tegnost

    If we’re in a recession, it sure is a weird one

    maybe so sinema can use it as a reason to shower largesse upon her donors…
    I saw that justification in the bloomberg linked in comments above by Karl.
    I like the title of this one better, though…


    and commondreams linked through that article showers us with this little gem…
    and a worthwhile read if you’ve meditated or had your preferred meds first…


    Those sections—50264 and 50265—mandate oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska and bar the federal government from authorizing new wind or solar energy development “unless an onshore [oil and gas] lease sale has been held during the 120-day period ending on the date of the issuance of the right-of-way for wind or solar.”

    These are the parts of the BBB that have been bought and paid for.
    At 742 pages you can bet there’s more socialism for the rich in there , along with lots of sticks to beat the poor with. I bet lots of those gig workers don’t pay their taxes, for instance, so here we have money for irs enforcement combined with shelters from the same by the biggest cheaters.
    And the plan is to spread this system globally.
    It’s almost like it’s patriotic to root for russia and china, how weird is that?

    1. Jason Boxman

      It is almost as if liberal Democrats don’t take the climate emergency seriously, either.

  29. digi_owl

    One example of how weird the tech world has gotten:

    over on Github, a repository for source code, there is a tool called Copilot. It is an “AI” driven assistant that can make suggestions about your code.

    Apparently having the word “gender” anywhere in your code makes it stop functioning.

  30. Lambert Strether Post author

    > Maskstravaganza: “The Efficacy of Facemasks in the Prevention of COVID-19: A Systematic Review” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Metastudy

    I am wrong here. Not all studies that are meta (i.e., studies of studies) “metastudies.” As KLG carefully explains here, there is a hierarchy of studies that are meta, from lower to higher: Systematic reviews, Meta-analyses, Umbrella reviews.

    Searching on “covid ‘umbrella reviews'” turned up some amusing hits, but here is an umbrella review on masks from 2021: “The use of masks to protect against respiratory infections: An umbrella review“:

    The results of this review revealed that the use of masks is associated with a protective effect against respiratory infections in healthcare facilities, in long-term care facilities and at mass gatherings. Conclusions In light of the results, it seems reasonable to recommend the use of masks to the general population, but this use should be accompanied by a training programme to improve compliance, as not using them properly may increase the risk of infection.

    Sadly, the full text is not available. That last sentence is a little chilling, or OTOH completely to be expected, since CDC has harangued people to wear masks properly without modeling behavior or any sort of marketing campaign.

  31. Adam Eran

    Abortion: If ever there were an issue that could create heat without much light, this is it. A few years ago, I read that comparing abortion rates in Ireland (a prohibitor of abortion) with Holland (sex education, contraception and even legal prostitution) disclosed that Ireland had the higher abortion rate. Prohibition works about as well for abortion as it has for drugs.

    What’s the point of its prominence as an issue, then? It stirs up controversy and reliably brings evangelicals to the polls. Without controversy, drama, and the threat of chaos, why would anyone obey a single general?

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