2:00PM Water Cooler 11/8/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I’ll be setting up an election day thread, which will fire at 7:30PM. Enjoy! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Mourning Dove, Finger Lakes NF–Horton Pasture and Interloken Trail, Seneca, New York, United States.

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“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

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Senior White House Official Involved in Undisclosed Talks With Top Putin Aides” [Wall Street Journal]. “President Biden’s top national-security adviser has engaged in recent months in confidential conversations with top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to reduce the risk of a broader conflict over Ukraine and warn Moscow against using nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, U.S. and allied officials said…..

“Biden’s National Security Strategy Uses Fear as a Cover for Reckless Ambition” [Time]. “The U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) of 2022, recently issued by the Biden administration but in practice a product of the bipartisan establishment, is a strangely fearful document. Most of it is devoted to the dire threats to the U.S. and allied position in the world supposedly represented by Russia and China (with the occasional glance at Iran and North Korea). And yet the NSS misses what ought to be a blindingly obvious fact: that if the U.S. stands on the defensive on the basis of its existing alliance systems (as it did with great success in Europe during the Cold War), America’s political and military position in the most important parts of the world is not just strong, it is virtually unassailable by any outside power. Grave dangers to the U.S.-led democratic West do exist, but they are mainly internal to our societies, or consequent on climate change, an issue which—although described as a ‘potentially existential threat’—is shockingly and entirely downplayed by the NSS. The basis of the tremendous strength of the U.S. position lies in American military power in alliance with local states that are themselves economically and politically strong; while Russian and Chinese alliance systems are weak by comparison. As long as these U.S. alliances remain in place, America cannot be expelled from Europe or the Far East except by direct and totally successful military aggression against these countries—something that any rival cannot hope to achieve and would be suicidal to attempt.”


* * *

“Three Most Likely Scenarios for Tuesday” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “When it comes to possible outcomes on Tuesday night, I see three potential scenarios. 1. The Classic “Tsunami” Election…. [like 1994/2006/2010.] Two things need to happen for this scenario to play out: 1) Democratic voters are less motivated to vote while Republicans turnout at much higher levels and 2) independent voters break decisively toward Republicans by 12-15 points. In this scenario, Republicans would win at least 30 House seats and 3-4 Senate seats…. 1994/2006/2010 [like 2018]…. 2. A “Wavey” Election [like 2018] This scenario would produce a GOP gain in the House in the 20s and a likely one-seat gain in the Senate. In this scenario, turnout is roughly even to slightly better for Republicans. Independent voters, however, break decisively for Republicans (say by 10-12 points). The closest races break for Republicans, but there are fewer ‘surprise’ pick-ups… 3. A Red Ripple [no analog]. In this scenario, Democratic and Republican turnout is basically equal — with both sides able to juice their base. Instead of breaking decisively for Republicans, independent voters give Republicans a small advantage. Republicans pick up seats in pink/red districts and states, but fail to make gains into districts or states that Biden won handily in 2020. In this scenario, Democrats lose the House by a very small margin (maybe 8-12 seats) and Democrats keep the Senate.” • Since this is the stupidest timeline, and “Red Ripple” is the stupidest outcome — because it would leave the Democrat leadership mostly in place — my entirely random, don’t care, there’s-no-data-anyhow-so-WTF dart gets thrown at “Red Ripple.”

“Final Ratings for the 2022 Election” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Our final Senate pick is 51-49 Republican, or a net Republican gain of 1 seat. Our final House pick is 237-198 Republican, or a net Republican gain of 24 seats… Democrats control the presidency as well as, narrowly, both chambers of Congress. Republicans have polling advantages on some of the key issues of the campaign (such as the economy/inflation problem). President Biden is unpopular, with his approval stuck in the low 40s. These are good conditions for the opposition party in a midterm — the kind of conditions that make this, to us, more of an ordinary midterm (one where the president’s party suffers losses, like the last 4 midterms) than an extraordinary one (when the president’s party does well, like 1998 and 2002). The confounding factors, such as Republican candidate problems in certain Senate, gubernatorial, and House races; the unpopularity of the GOP-controlled Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade; and the lingering presence of Biden’s predecessor all combine to give Democrats an opportunity to limit their losses, and perhaps even save their Senate majority. To the extent these factors matter, our best guess is that they end up imposing some limitations on the size of GOP gains this year. That’s reflected in our projections, which we think represent a good but not necessarily great night for Republicans.” • Pretty close to “Red Ripple.” Sabato could be right, too.

“What the final pre-election polls tell us about how the midterms will turn out” [Vox]. “[I]t’s worth taking stock of the polling picture one last time. And in my view there are four important things to keep in mind. First, the final polls look pretty good for Republicans, suggesting they’re the favorites to have a good night. Second, polling does not show a total collapse of Democrats in key races — many contests still look close, and GOP poll leads aren’t big enough to suggest the overall outcome is a sure thing, particularly in the Senate. Third, since Democratic majorities in each chamber are so slim, Republicans actually don’t need a red wave to gain a great deal of power — even a narrow GOP win could give Republicans control of the House and Senate. Fourth, the final polls could well be significantly off, as they have in the past — and, since they’ve tended to underestimate Republican performance in recent cycles, a bigger red wave remains quite plausible too. Comparatively, the best plausible outcome for Democrats appears to be something close to a draw (which would be quite good by historical midterm election standards).” • Pretty close to “Red Ripple.” So I guess the conventional wisdom….

And lastly:

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“Midterms: Billionaires spent lavishly on the 2022 elections — and signaled even bigger plans for 2023” [Yahoo News]. “When it comes to mega-donor giving and the 2022 election, Republican billionaires hold a clear advantage. According to data compiled by Opensecrets.org, seven of the campaign’s top 10 donors to federal elections are Republicans who have given somewhere around a quarter of a billion dollars to GOP causes. And the influence of the ultra-rich is even more widely felt. A recent report from a group called Americans for Tax Fairness finds that a total of 465 billionaires from both parties have dumped about $881 million into federal elections this campaign.” • Handy chart:

Not sure “givers” is the word I’d use….

“Ticket-splitters could play key role in battleground states” [The Hill]. “Ticket-splitters are poised to play a pivotal role in a handful of key battleground states, like Pennsylvania and Georgia, where signs are growing that voters may be willing to cross party lines for certain candidates. In Georgia, where voters will choose their next governor and U.S. senator next week, polling has routinely shown Gov. Brian Kemp leading his Democratic rival Stacey Abrams by distinct margins, while Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) has maintained a narrow edge over Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate nominee. A similar dynamic is playing out in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Josh Shapiro has opened up a sizable advantage over Republican Doug Mastriano in the race for governor. Meanwhile, in the state’s Senate race, Democrat John Fetterman has seen his once-yawning lead over Republican nominee Mehmet Oz evaporate, leaving the two candidates virtually deadlocked.”

“Republicans Are Planning an All-Out Assault on the Working Class If They Win Next Week” [Jacobin]. “Though both parties are hostile to a working-class agenda, the Republicans’ plans to hobble worker organizing, stoke war, accelerate climate disaster, and tear apart what’s left of the US social safety net will, without serious resistance, herald major suffering and setbacks for working Americans. And all of it will be made more likely by the sizable Democratic factions likely to collaborate with them on key issues. But with a possible expansion of progressive numbers in Congress creating an avenue for blocking at least some of this, now is the time to plan for resistance.” • Yes, the progressives were strong on opposing the war. Oh, wait….

* * *

“A guide to the election deniers in midterm races” [CNN]. “Secretary of state: At least 12 of 27 Republican candidates have tried to overturn, rejected or questioned the 2020 results. Governor: At least 22 of 36 Republican candidates have tried to overturn, rejected, questioned or declined to affirm the 2020 results. US Senate: At least 19 of 35 Republican candidates have tried to overturn, rejected, questioned or declined to affirm the 2020 results.” • I do think “or questioned” is doing a lot of work, there.

“Election officials look to harden tabulation centers against 2020-type chaos” [Politico]. “‘What are you doing to respond to people that may show up at your office and want to see you ballot counting, how are you handling that?’ [Neal Kelley — the former registrar of voters in Orange County, Calif, who is now the chair of of the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections] said. ‘I have been saying this as much as I can, if you’re calling 911 on Election Day, it’s too late.'” • Erm, count the ballots in public? (As long as the “people” aren’t carrying, I suppose.)

“Maricopa County sees widespread problems with ballot tabulators on Election Day. But votes will still be counted.” [Votebeat Arizona]. “The machines that tabulate ballots at Maricopa County vote centers are having widespread issues, with about 20% of locations affected. The affected vote-counting machines are rejecting about one ballot out of every five ballots inserted, Maricopa County Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said at a news conference on Election Day, about three hours after polls opened.” • “The cheapest, fastest, and most reliable components of a computer system are those that aren’t there.” –Jon Benteley, Programming Pearls. In this case, why is the computer system there at all?

“No, Texas voting machines aren’t switching your votes” [Texas Tribune]. The deck: “Sensitive touch screens aren’t always user friendly and make it easy for voters to accidentally select the wrong candidate. Voters should carefully review their ballots before submitting them.” • Sounds ideal!

“1 big thing: The limitations of gerrymandering” [Axios]. “If Republicans only won the districts that Trump carried, they’d be in the minority. Even if they carried all the seats that Biden won by five points or less, they’d still only have a majority of 224 (R+11) — hardly a comfortable outcome for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)… Several of the states [Oregon, Illinois, Nevada] in which Democrats controlled the redistricting process could end up becoming “dummymanders” — a term describing an attempted gerrymander that backfires…. If Democrats lose control of their House majority, gerrymandering won’t be the culprit. The political environment will often disrupt the best-laid plans (or maps!) of both parties.”

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MI: “Michigan Ballot Measure Seeks to Shield State Elections from Trumpian Conspiracies” [BOLTS]. “Of the nine key sections in Proposal 2, some would make new strides in expanding access. Most significantly, it would establish nine days of early in-person voting in the state. Right now, Michiganders who want to vote in-person before Election Day can do so in their local clerk’s offices with an absentee ballot, instead of having broader access to polling stations and voting machines. The measure would also supply state-funded postage to vote by mail, and create new mandates for townships to set up ballot drop boxes. ‘It’s the role of our government to make sure people have the ability to vote and aren’t bogged down by constructed barriers,’ says Branden Snyder, co-executive director of the group Detroit Action, another member of the coalition that backs the measures. But much of Proposal 2 is driven by a separate goal: to protect Michigan’s election systems from the shockwaves of the Big Lie. The measure contains provisions to protect the process of certifying results to lower the chances that an election is overturned, and to narrow who can audit election results to prevent an Arizona-style spectacle…. Proposal 2 would also establish that only election officials such as the secretary of state can conduct post-election audits, not private groups. And it would require that all audit funding be publicly disclosed. These reforms would remove the possibility of any ‘forensic audit’ funded of the sort that Trump supporters tried to push for in 2021.” • Well… If they think increasing the attack surface with drop boxes and mail-in ballots is going help with fraud charges, I think they should reconsider.

OK: “Feud with tribes threatens Oklahoma governor’s reelection” [Indian Country]. “Many of the 39 tribes based in Oklahoma have played roles in state politics for decades, often behind the scenes. They became bigger, more outspoken players when voters approved Las Vegas-style gambling in 2004. The budgets of several major tribes ballooned with casino revenue. This year, in their most forceful political move yet, they are wielding their considerable influence to oppose a second term for Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, himself a Cherokee citizen, who is facing a tough reelection challenge after feuding with the tribes for nearly his entire first term. With the election just weeks away, five of the state’s most powerful tribes jointly endorsed Stitt’s Democratic opponent, Joy Hofmeister, the state’s public schools superintendent who has promised a more cooperative relationship with the tribal nations. It’s the first time in modern history that the tribes, which often have unique or competing interests, have weighed in on a governor’s race in such a public way. ‘I don’t know that I’ve ever seen (the tribes) more active than they are today,’ said Pat McFerron, a longtime Oklahoma GOP political consultant and pollster. ‘I think they might have flown under the radar a little bit more before.'”

PA: “The Democrat Who Picks Fights With Bad Guys” [David Sirota, The Lever]. “Already being mentioned as a future Democratic presidential contender, [Josh] Shapiro, 49, is campaigning in Republican territory in the final days of the gubernatorial race for his so-called ‘Big Fights Bus Tour’ — and the battles he has waged as Pennsylvania’s attorney general are top of mind among the cheering crowd. One old timer tells me Shapiro’s barrage of lawsuits against health care and fracking companies shows ‘he’s the only one who seems like he’s doing anything in Harrisburg.’ Giving me a tour of the building’s ancient duckpin bowling lanes, Cro Club owner Jim Brandemarte confides that he’s a practicing Catholic but likes that Shapiro ‘had the guts to go after the priests’ — a reference to the biggest case Shapiro ever brought as the state’s top law enforcement official. Watching the scene, I can’t help but think Shapiro — my old Junior Jewish Basketball League buddy from the Philly suburbs — may have found the recipe I’ve spent a quarter century hunting for: the one that channels working-class rage away from culture wars and into populist economics, rather than insisting the rage is deplorable or pretending it doesn’t exist.” • Hmm.

PA: “Philly elections officials adopted a last-minute change that will slow down the counting of votes” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “If Pennsylvania’s high-stakes U.S. Senate race is as close as expected, a wait for results out of the state’s largest city is sure to shine a national spotlight on Philadelphia, similar to after the 2020 presidential election. The city commissioners, the three-member elections board, voted 2-1 to reinstate what is known as poll book reconciliation — a means of flagging mail ballots submitted by voters who also voted in person — during an emergency 7 a.m. meeting. It was a sudden reversal of a decision they made less than a week ago and came a day after a city judge, responding to a Republican lawsuit, said they could move forward without the process. ‘I want to be very clear that when there are conversations that occur later this evening about whether or not Philadelphia has counted all of their ballots that the reason that some ballots would not be counted is that Republicans targeted Philadelphia — and only Philadelphia — to force us to conduct a procedure that no other county does,’ Seth Bluestein, the sole Republican commissioner, said before voting for reconciliation.”

PA: “Pennsylvania voters scramble to cast new ballots after GOP lawsuit” [WaPo]. “Six days after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated thousands of mail-in ballots in response to a Republican lawsuit, citizens in Philadelphia and other parts of this battleground state scrambled to cast replacements so their votes will be counted on Election Day…. Multiple judges have ruled over the past two years that mail ballots returned on time by eligible Pennsylvania voters should be counted even if they lack a date on the outer envelope. Republicans sued in October to reverse that policy, arguing that it violated state law. Last Tuesday, they won a favorable ruling from the state Supreme Court, which directed counties not to count ballots with missing or inaccurate dates.”

PA: “John Fetterman’s Pa. Senate campaign is suing to have undated and misdated ballots counted” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s campaign for U.S. Senate has joined the legal fight over whether mail ballots with no date or the incorrect date should be counted in Tuesday’s election. The Democratic campaign sued Pennsylvania elections officials Monday asking a federal judge to order that all mail ballots be counted regardless of what date, if any, voters wrote on the outside of the envelope. State law requires that voters handwrite a date on the outer envelope when returning their mail ballots, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week that undated and wrongly dated mail ballots be set aside and not counted. The court issued a follow-up order Saturday setting specific date ranges that the handwritten dates must fall within. There will likely be tens of thousands of undated and wrongly dated ballots rejected statewide under that ruling. Because mail ballots are so disproportionately used by Democrats over Republicans, that will likely mean thousands, if not tens of thousands, of net votes for Fetterman that are rejected.” • Voters not doing their homework properly? A Democrat own-goal in an overly complex system, what a surprise.


Trump still in form (1):

Pretty good!

Trump still in form (2):

Hard to imagine another politician pulling this off…

Trump still in form (3):

“Biden’s and Trump’s Performances on the 2022 Trail Sow Doubts About 2024” [Politico]. “What every Republican leader knows, but few dare say out loud, is that 2022 would mark the third consecutive year that Republicans not named or tainted by Trump had a good election. For all the affection Trump enjoys from his base, there’s a reason why it’s Democrats who are the most eager to make him the face of the GOP…. But, as it has been since Trump declared his candidacy in 2015, the question for Republicans remains whether they will take steps to confront him. The final pre-midterms NBC poll found just 30 percent of GOP voters calling themselves more supporters of Donald Trump than supporters of the Republican Party, a new low. Yet if the party doesn’t rally around an alternative, that 30 percent may still be enough of a foundation for Trump to win the nomination against a divided field, his path to the nomination six years ago.” • That “Yet if….” See above.

“Casey DeSantis, Florida’s ‘co-governor’: Rivals, friends, and former colleagues say she’s the secret behind husband Ron DeSantis’ meteoric rise” [Business Insider]. “Ron has been described as ‘Trump with a brain’ — someone who has channeled the GOP’s pugilistic grievance politics and polished them up. That polish is in large part thanks to Casey. In public appearances her sheath dresses and jumpsuits are perfectly tailored, her jewelry simple: pearl earrings or hoops, sometimes a silver cross necklace. Her Instagram page is filled with pictures of her hugging people in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, of her and her family at sporting events with their hands over their hearts pledging allegiance. In one of the most humid states in the country, she never seems to sweat. Even her stories of raising three small children in the governor’s mansion, anecdotes about their coloring on the walls of the state dining room and singing into the security guards’ microphones before dawn, are told with a practiced bemused expression. Ron, 44, has by now been examined and reexamined by the press as a hypothetical presidential candidate. The New York Times Magazine suggested he might be the ‘future of the Republican Party’; the Financial Times labeled him Trump ‘without the drama’; and The New Yorker posited he could displace the 45th president as the ‘combatant-in-chief.’ Casey, on the other hand, is often mentioned in passing, framed as a political wife and mother. But Florida’s first lady is more than a convenient helpmate to her husband’s ambitions. Several people told Insider she’s an equal partner, a masterful image maker, and a powerful confidant to a man at the forefront of GOP politics. If there were no Casey, there would be no Ron. ‘It’s clear she’s the X factor,’ said Scott Parkinson, one of Ron’s former chiefs of staff in the US House of Representatives. ‘They complete the political element that is Ron DeSantis. Without Casey, he would not be the same person.'”

“Can DeSantis Beat Trump among Non-College and Rural Voters?” [National Review]. “DeSantis carries the risk in a primary of having a similar problem to the one faced by Elizabeth Warren, who appealed to a lot of well-educated progressives as well as liberal journalists but didn’t really connect beyond that. DeSantis is more skilled than Warren, of course, but Trump is also more formidable among Republicans than anybody Warren faced. There is certainly the possibility that DeSantis becomes a favorite of white-collar Republicans and professional conservatives looking to move on from Trump, but that rural voters say, ‘not so fast!'” • I don’t think Casey will let Ron campaign with a giant inflatable dog. So there’s that.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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 Democracy” [Dave Denison, The Baffler]. “The Democrats had eight years of a Clinton administration and eight years of Obama. It seemed never to occur to them that the wheels really could fall off the democratic jalopy, that a “win at all costs” Republican Party would manipulate the undemocratic features of our creaky constitutional machinery. The Democrats spent crucial years misunderstanding actually existing capitalism, underestimating their opponents’ ruthless tactics and rancid populism, and neglecting to build new coalitions across race and class boundaries in the places where it mattered most. They became the party that asked not what it could do for you, but what you could do for it—by way of a donation. They never got close to a serious effort against inequality and the concentration of wealth; they failed to protect reproductive rights, labor rights, and voting rights. The era of big government was over, said Bill Clinton. It was time to think small.” • Well worth a read.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Can DSA Go the Distance?” [Sam Adler-Bell, Dissent]. “DSA National Director Maria Svart has called DSA “a socialist organization for people who want to win things.” And that’s not a bad pitch, especially for those of us who spent our formative years on the left losing, if virtuously, over and over again. DSA, in fits and starts, has been winning and building power across the country. Though New York remains its stronghold, DSA has elected more than 120 candidates to local office nationwide—including six socialists to the Chicago City Council, four to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and two to State Senate in Minnesota. Meanwhile, DSA members have mobilized to support striking teachers in West Virginia, Denver, Los Angeles, and Oakland, while encouraging activists to join unions in strategic sectors across the country. And although housing organizing remains a somewhat neglected part of its national program, DSA members have helped build tenant unions in Oakland, Houston, Boston, and Lexington, Kentucky. In a matter of years, DSA has turned from a musty debate club for retired social democrats into an electoral powerhouse of young, ecumenical radicals; it remains the most effective socialist organization the country has seen in a century. And yet it’s impossible to ignore a certain malaise that has settled over the organization, along with the broader left: a sense that an era of ceaseless momentum has passed, and existing modes of organizing have begun to exhaust themselves. In the past year, membership dipped from a peak of 94,000 and plateaued around 91,000 activists—only a small fraction of whom are regularly involved in organizing work. Those who remain largely agree about the obstacles they face: a difficulty in winning elections beyond a base of downwardly mobile professionals, a failure to translate those victories into legislative change, and—at times—an insular culture of debate, primarily online, in which disagreement can take on toxic, personal dimensions. DSA cadre disagree, however, about how best to resolve these issues: whether to double down on the existing electoral strategy, how to incorporate labor and tenant organizing more fully into their vision, and how best to mediate and overcome internal strife. In a 2021 year-end reflection, Svart encouraged DSA members to think of themselves as “strategic, long distance runners for socialism.” The question remains whether the organization can keep pace.”

“When Politics Becomes Professional” [Corey Robin, Jacobin]. “I’ve just finished a lengthy piece on the memoirs of the Obama administration, and one of the most striking elements of those reminiscences is how fluidly and fluently the Obamanauts channel the activist traditions of the 1960s into the professional (neo)liberal politics of the Democratic Party since the 1980s. That translation had already begun in the 1970s, with the election of black mayors and other black officials. Back then, however, there was more awareness that the electoral turn was a diminution (perhaps necessary but nonetheless a diminution) of the mass movement in the streets. As one representative publication of black activists put it: “The marching has stopped.” Professional politics was what replaced it. By the time of Obama’s election, that awareness of diminution had been completely lost. His election was viewed as simply another step forward…. The tragedy of the stories Freeman tells and I’ve read in the Obamanaut memoirs is how easy it is to forget the radical origins and roots of those bureaucracies and leaderships, how once the work of repression (and other political factors) is done (often with the help of those leaders and bureaucracies, as we saw during the McCarthy era), all we’re left with is a professionalized political class, who can’t even mix memory and desire, who have not even the wish, much less capacity, to stir dull roots with spring rain.” • The Eliot allusion seems a propos….

“#MeToo, Five Years Later: Why Time’s Up Imploded” [Hollywood Reporter]. Concluding paragraphs: “When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, several of the women who had been key leaders at Time’s Up emerged in an ad hoc group holding weekly Zoom calls around the issue of abortion rights, including McGrath, Shaw and Rebecca Goldman, the former Time’s Up COO, who is now a co-founder of the impact firm Acora Partners. When the women introduced themselves, they never mentioned Time’s Up, according to two sources who were on the calls. Says one, ‘It’s like Time’s Up never happened.'” • What the heck is an “impact firm”?


Lambert here: I can’t call a winter surge, though we’ll really have to wait for Thanksgiving travel. However, high transmission, the continued increase in positivity (Walgreens), and the steady takeover of BQ.1* are all a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants).

* * *

• World Ventilation Day:

“[A] global network of poorly ventilated rooms” mapping neatly to social networks mapping neatly to the accumulation of social capital — in some of those rooms, you’ve got to smile….

• She’s b-a-a-c-k!

Commentary suitably scathing:

And of course not a peep about ventilation or masking. Walensky’s relentless commitment to the bit is her most impressive quality.

• How public health advocacy might function, if Walensky chose to do it:

• “Walt Disney drops COVID-19 vaccination mandate from many TV shows as shutdown fears recede” [Los Angeles Times]. • Let’s see what studios that actually rely on talent do.

* * *

•”What If COVID Reinfections Wear Down Our Immunity?” [The Tyee]. The deck: “Dr. Anthony Leonardi is a lightning rod for debate. If he’s right, this pandemic poses a greater threat than widely assumed.” More: “[W]hat if COVID wears down T cells in people who get it, and does so increasingly with each reinfection? [Leonardi argues that] T cells are becoming hyperactivated by SARS-CoV-2 and are prematurely aging, harming organs, and becoming exhausted trying to rid the body of an immune-evasive virus.” And: “The record shows that Leonardi has been remarkably prescient, constant and often correct. Yes, his thesis about exhausted T cells and immune dysfunction still remain a working hypothesis. Still, there is much evidence that the virus is causing widespread immune dysregulation in both mild and severe cases. Herd immunity, as Leonardi predicted, remains a fiction. Reinfections have been associated with worrisome outcomes in a highly touted study. The Leonardi Effect may well explain a surge in bacterial, viral and fungal infections after waves of COVID. The risks to children remain grave in the absence of masks and good air filtration and ventilation.” • Well worth a read; this is a good deep dive. Of course, I’m just a layperson; I’d be interested to know what our Brain Trust thinks.

* * *

• Something in the air?

Tennessee location…. The UV is probably goldplating; the filter is enough. Still, at least they are protected by the filter.

* * *

• I’m so old I remember when Saturday Night Live was funny:

To be fair, parts of this video are funny, but also very, very dark.

* * *


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.)


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, November 7:

1.1%. Increase.


Wastewater data (CDC), November 4:

October 31:


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), October 24:

Lambert here: BQ.1* moving along quite briskly.

UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), October 15 (Nowcast off):

BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. New York/New Jersey numbers are higher:

And as a check, New York hospitalization continues to increase:


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,098,387 – 1,097,881 – 1,096,717 = 506 (506 * 365 = 184,690, which is today’s LivingWith™ number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the LivingWith™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease.

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.

Stats Watch

Zeitgeist: “United States Nfib Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the United States fell to a three-month low of 91.3 in October of 2022, compared to 92.1 in September. Thirty-three percent of owners reported that inflation was the most important issue in operating their business, up three points from September. At the same time, the number of owners who plan to increase employment in the next three months fell to 20% and 50% said they raised average selling prices.”

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Manufacturing: “The Car Safety Feature That Kills the Other Guy” [Slate]. “For decades, roadway safety efforts have focused on a single, dominant mission: Protect the people inside cars. At first, that meant correcting obviously dangerous vehicle designs and mandating essential features like seat belts. Such efforts were good and well; society is clearly better off when a car is less likely to flip over on a curve and eject its passengers. But vehicle safety issues are very different now. Car buyers who purchase an SUV or truck ‘to protect themselves’ are turning safety into a zero-sum game, with pedestrians and cyclists paying the price. As the Insurance Institute pointed out in its tweet, buying a bigger car can be a rational choice for an individual or family. But when you scale that decision across an entire nation, it’s a recipe for carnage.” •

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 60 Greed (previous close: 61 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 8 at 2:41 PM EST.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Photo Book

“Ways of living” [Aeon]. “Berger was a self-styled outsider: he had run away from boarding school as a teenager, and left England for France in his 30s. Art was best, he said, when it was born of struggle and inspired belief. At its worst, it was little more than a luxury good. The difference extended to the very mode of aesthetic response – appreciation or critique? This is the significance behind the act of vandalism that opens Ways of Seeing. Viewers soon learn that the painting Berger cut was a facsimile, but the metaphor of the scalpel is plain: to question is to dissect. It is to cut past the scrim of beauty, and reveal more fundamental anatomies: capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, mimetic desire…. On a formal level, Berger was obsessed by the arts of sight: drawing, painting, photography, cinema. He often wrote about appearances directly, conjuring small physical presences as few others could: the way that a lizard shimmies as it moves, the warmth of grass in the sun, the ‘red of young eyelids shut tight’. His best essays convey a miraculous gratitude that the world comes into view at all…. Achoice about a way to live presented itself to Berger shortly after he made Ways of Seeing. He was in his late 40s and had achieved an international level of fame. The invitations started coming in. He could have taken a position at a museum or university. He could have entered a world of sinecures and fellowships, residencies and agents, conferences and airports. He turned down almost all of this.” • I see this is from 2019, but it’s still good. I see that I must go find “Ways of Seeing” on YouTube (assuming it’s there) now that I am done with LeCarré….

The Gallery

De planes! De planes!

Class Warfare

This is not all of Twitter:

But it’s sure all the coverage of Twitter….

News of the Wired

“Science confirms: to light up the dance floor, turn up the bass” [Yahoo News]. “Researchers have taken a closer look at the relationship between bass frequencies and dancing, thanks to an experiment conducted during a real-life electronic music concert. The results, published Monday in the journal Current Biology, showed that participants danced almost 12 percent more when researchers introduced a very low frequency bass — one that dancers could not hear. ‘They couldn’t tell when those changes happened, but it was driving their movements,’ neuroscientist David Cameron of McMaster University, who led the study, told AFP. The results confirm the special relationship between bass and dance, which has never been scientifically proven.”

“This School Took Away Smartphones. The Kids Don’t Mind.” [Wall Street Journal]. “The school wanted to make sure parents and students could still reach each other, so it supplied the Light Phones. The devices have basic call and text functioning but no internet browser, camera or apps. Texting is designed to be clunky, and many students say it’s so slow that they don’t bother texting more than a few words at a time. Light Chief Executive Kaiwei Tang says the majority of the phone’s users are young adults trying to be more intentional about their phone use. But he says parents are getting interested in Light Phones for their kids. Buxton is the first school with which the company has partnered. Light is lending refurbished phones; the school pays for service.” •

* * *

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 Angie Neer:

Angie Neer writes: “Due to a quirk of local topography, direct sun hits this tree at times when others fore and aft of it are in shadow.” Wow!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

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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. petal

    Went to vote around 9a(northern NH) and asked the check-in ladies if it had been heavy this morning and they said yes, very, and that there had already been a line waiting when they opened up.

    1. Jen

      I stopped by the town offices in my little town around 7:45. The place was hopping. This is the first time in years where I haven’t been the only voter in the room at that hour.

      1. petal

        I had driven by that polling place for many years so knew about the morning rush so I waited. Didn’t want to be stuck in a full gym with covid going around. It was still to me, busy, when I went. I’ve never had to wait in line to put my ballot in the machine before today. Gym was pretty full. It will be interesting to see what the stats are when all is said and done.
        And there was a guy outside trying to talk to people about ranked choice voting.

      1. petal

        Very interesting, notabanker! I think this town may be one of the bluest in NH(chock full of liberal PMCs), and get the feeling they are absolutely terrified of a GOP wave-like the world is going to end.

        1. Skip Intro

          The feeling I get is that the House has been written off, but people indeed dread the likelihood that Joe Manchin will lose control of the Senate.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Traditionally Dems vote in the morning.

          If you know your precinct history, you can start extrapolating.

        3. Bosko

          I’m curious where you’re located (without getting too specific). I grew up around that area and my parents still live there–let’s say, around the Littleton area. My mom was ‘supervisor of the checklist’ at one point. I was in my hometown last year and saw a creepy flyer about a local Republican meeting that was very, very heavy on the ‘combatting the scourge of Socialism’ rhetoric… and then, one hears of these Libertarians moving to NH to establish a free market paradise. But the NH I knew was mostly mildly blue, older hippies and such, with little in the way of revanchism. (I live in Maine now.) On the local level, in northern New England, I do prefer the Democrats, since I think Republicans can do damage at Governor and below; but the milquetoast, fly-under-the-radar Democratic senators and congresspeople in the region have lost my vote, because I believe their mediocrity underwrites a lot of harm nationally and internationally (party strategy, foreign policy, etc.).

    2. IM Doc

      Our home is located between a very blue town and very red surrounding areas. Therefore, my home precinct and the others around us are ensconced in the middle of this and are very much purple. We have about equal numbers of both blue and red.

      Again – this election continues to surprise. I took the kids and wife and I and arrived very early this AM about 715AM. The line was already about 300 or so deep. This was not even close to the turnout in 2020 when we arrived at 7AM. Way way more. At the threshold where the campaigning had to stop, there was a group from both sides. Literally screaming at each other. One side MAGA – one side p#$%y hats.
      Lots of entire families of blue collar workers, and lots of minorities were in the line. We will see, but I would not be sitting well if I were a Dem right now in our area. There are several Dem incumbents in local races that may very well get the flush.

      I told my kids on the way to school. This is America. Mom and Dad’s votes mean just as much as everyone else in that room. No matter who you are – you get to vote. I am doing everything I can to make sure that is the America that they inherit.

      God Bless Us All – I hope we get through this next few days and the sun is still shining.

      And thank you to this blog and its owners and its commenters. Thanks for the sanity check.

      1. HotFlash

        And a God Bless You right back at you and your family, IM Doc. Thank you so much for all you have done, for us NCers, for your patients, and for your community (incl yr kids and wife — hi, IM doc’s family!).

  2. Wukchumni

    How could not 1 person in attendance have brought an umbrella to Trump’s rally in Florida?

    …of course it does make for a rather nifty lightning rod

    And the teetotalitarian leader could have uttered this about today’s election and it would have fit perfectly:

    Après moi, le déluge

    1. hunkerdown

      What happened to “Someone give this man a (rain)coat”? Did a bunch of elites meet behind our backs and decide that only crappy sacrifice narratives would be allowed on offer?

      Deluge? Oh Noah.

  3. Jeff W

    “The Democracy” [Dave Denison, The Baffler]

    The piece hasn’t really changed much from when it was listed in the Links back in October, actually. But I agree—if you didn’t read it then, it’s well worth the read.

    1. Lee

      Regarding the transformation of Democrats and social democratic parties of Europe, Michael Hudson’s pronouncement in his interview posted here today sums it up quite nicely IMHO.

      “But let’s just say there’s nothing the fascists would not like in the social democratic parties.”

      For now we get the “dictatorship of finance capital” with the absence for the most part and for the moment of the “openly terroristic” part.

    2. Anthony Noel

      My problem with the piece, and considering Thomas Frank is one of the founders it makes sense, is that for all the insight into pointing out the things that the Democrats have done it still insists on acting like those things were done accidently. Poor, naïve, well meaning Dems just wanted to help us all, but didn’t realize they were getting played by the big bad Republicans, and aw shucks it just happened that we destroyed the industrial base, instituted catastrophic welfare and criminal reform, played politics with healthcare and abortion, started, supported and continued vicious pointless wars of aggression, and continued to lead us to climate and civilizational death.

  4. Hepativore

    Here is a small bit of comfort for everybody if the Republicans win big with both the House and Senate and their frightening agenda gets pushed through. The Democrats were never going to do anything about it anyway, even if a few more progressives are elected or if by some miracle the Democrats retained their majority.

    The Democrats are inevitably going to just roll over and and vote in support of these Republican measures whether they are the majority party or not, so the only thing that changes is the excuse the Democratic Party gives as to why it supports Republican policies. You might have a few Democratic dissenters here and there like Bernie Sanders, but by and large the rest of the Democrats ignore such detractors.

    So, do not be too upset by the possibility of the Republicans advancing their right-wing agenda as they were going to get their way through their neoliberal enablers in the Democratic Party, anyway.

    1. JBird4049

      So, do not be too upset by the possibility of the Republicans advancing their right-wing agenda as they were going to get their way through their neoliberal enablers in the Democratic Party, anyway.

      People are individually voting against the Democratic Party more than they are voting for the Republican Party; the self serving betrayals and lies that have possibly destroyed the former party will also do the same to the latter if they keep the same pattern; that the Republicans might try and even succeed at rigging the vote tallies for the next presidential race will not change that. It will merely mean that the repressive measures for control will face equally, if not greater, blow back against them by the majority of the American people. What both sides are banking on is that the respect for the rule of law, for honoring the announced tallies will be respected, and obeyed by the nation. This is one hell of a gamble, which will probably go snake eyes for all the establishment’s gamblers, the Republicans’ greater ruthless use of violence and assassination will probably fail as will the Democrats’ enthusiastic use of the security state, or at least not be as successful was they want.

      The machinery supporting both parties has very shallow roots. It reminds me of a Redwood tree. Yes, they are truly massive, awe inspiring, trees that can live for thousands of years, but their roots are shallow and mainly on the surface. Their effectiveness depends on being interlaced with the other trees in the forest.

      Take away the other trees, much as they have taken away the churches, the unions, the social clubs, functioning famies, the various parts that make up a functioning, cohesive society, they, just like the political parties of today, do not have the deep, strong roots needed to stay up right. The tree is still three hundred feet tall, but is likely to just unexpectedly topple over from any unusally stresses. The only hopefull thing is that Redwood trees usually don’t die outright if they topple, but often sprout new trees along its length. After smashing three hundred feet of whatever is in the way.

      1. Luckless Pedestrian

        “The only hopefull thing is that Redwood trees usually don’t die outright if they topple, but often sprout new trees along its length”

        Known I think as “nurse logs.” A wonderful phrase and something our cultural ecosystem is very much in need of!

        1. Wukchumni

          It isn’t unusual to see a perfect line of say 5 or more Giant Sequoias of size, and the tree which birthed them that toppled over is quite dead, but that’s not how new growth is created, it comes via the pine cones falling in a line along the fallen Brobdingnagian.

          1. Lee

            We’ve got a redwood that has what appears to be multiple fused trunks in our local park. It’s not that tall, and I therefore assume, not that old, but the base is about fifteen feet or so wide. I’ve been meaning to provide a picture of it for the plantidote. Must get to that.

            1. Wukchumni

              There’s a White Fir nicknamed the Candelabra Tree just below the trail immediately past the Spring Creek bridge in Mineral King.

              It got hit by lightning or some malady came of it’s midriff about 40 feet up and went on living and compensating a bit, with 8 or 9 upright trees emanating from the tips of ends of horizontal branches just below the fall zone.

              One of the branches came off about a decade ago and rests with what was a 20 foot tall ‘treelet’ now grounded.

      2. orlbucfan

        There has absolutely been nothing reported about the Independent voters in these mid-term elections. Closed primaries are the main reason why I didn’t register as one when I was finally eligible to vote decades ago. Down here in Floridumb, all the screaming has been over god anoiting DeathSantis. We really know nothing yet about the other races. Our polls just closed everywhere ‘cept the Panhandle as they are on CST.

  5. Jason Boxman

    Voters should carefully review their ballots before submitting them.

    At least in my NC county, that’s impossible. You get a bunch of bar codes with small print, closely spaced candidate names below that for each race. Even if there was some guarantee that the names match the bar codes, which there is not and cannot be beyond a doubt, you can’t really read these names easily to know that you’ve yourself not made a mistake. You also can’t confirm if you left any blank, although the touch screen UI does complain if you leave any races blank during the selection process. But after, how do you know? You can’t, names are listed only, not races.

    When I pointed out that there’s no way to be sure that the bar codes match, my local election official insulted me by calling me paranoid. Fun times.

    1. Screwball

      Ohio, here. My ballot was a blank sheet of paper about 5 inches wide and a foot long. You put it in the machine like a credit card, it eats it, you push buttons on a screen, get to review the choices, then hit send. It goes into a sealed box on the machine. The guy said they break the seal at the end of the night and take out the ballots.

      Kinda weird thinks I.

      1. notabanker

        Ohio here as well, same long piece of paper, but the machine spits it out and the end and you have to take it to another machine that tabulates. The actual voting choices are listed on the ballot in both barcode and printed format.

        1. Screwball

          Interesting. Why, since we are both in Ohio, would they do it different? Guessing, county, precinct thing. Sigh. I’m a retired engineer. One of the first things I learned was a simple rule: KISS – keep it simple, stupid.

          Voting shouldn’t be this way. I’m with Lambert all the way, and this shouldn’t be difficult.

          1. marym

            The Verified Voting map shows types of election day equipment by county. If you click on the map on the home page, then click on a state in the larger map there’s also information about early voting and absentee/mail voting equipment.


    2. Durans

      I’m also in NC, my area uses paper ballots. They are fill in the bubble style, and clear to make out who you are voting for. But they are then fed into a scanning machine for counting.

      One interesting anecdote, they were handing out pens in clear plastic wrapping to use. The text on the pens reads “I VOTED IN THE 2020 ELECTION #YourVoteCountsNC” one one side and a “Vote” emblem and “www.NCSBE.gov” on the other.

      (Yes it says 2020, not 2022)

      1. anon in so cal

        > Paper ballots with fill-in bubblies for mail-in ballots here in Los Angeles (where, happily, it’s raining torrentially). A real estate developer is running for mayor. Los Angeles spent a lot of money installing new electronic voting machines for in-person voting. These have had glitches. When I voted in person on Super Tuesday, the machine was squirrely.

        >Soros was a funder of our Los Angeles city council representative who parachuted in from the northeast, ousted a very responsive Asian-American council rep, and immediately tried to weaken local zoning regs.

        >Fetterman: an article says his stroke was due to a clot consequent to atrial fibrillation. But it also says he has a pacemaker and a defibrillator. A defibrillator suggests he has a ventricular arrhythmia or he has an enlarged/weakened heart. Do Democrats view him as a Dem placeholder?

      2. Jason Boxman

        What’s interesting about these machines is that you can actually confirm the counts by hand counts. With the barcode machines, you can only confirm that possibly erroneously printed barcodes tabulate correctly.

  6. hunkerdown

    Detroit suburbs, 12:30pm, 3 of 8 booths occupied, about 3-4 minutes from sign-in to receiving my ballot in the high #300s. I undervoted all neoliberal parties (R, D, L, “US Taxpayers”), only voting Working Class Party (whoever the hell they are, though it barely matters), and the odd Green where no WCP option was available. Voted all incumbents on the non-partisan section hoping to slow their ambitions.

    At the Mexican restaurant, a truck mechanic sitting at a table volunteered his knowledge of the supply chain into the conversation I was having with the waitress. He explained the restaurant’s difficulties in acquiring lettuce through a seemingly exaggerated account of CARB’s diesel truck fleet upgrade initiative, a conversation which became spirited toward the end. Reportedly, trucks not made within the past two years aren’t even allowed to be loaded.

    On the positive side, he accused me, where do I get my news from, and of course I dropped NC’s name. Maybe he’ll swing by and learn a thing or two, teach a thing or two.

  7. antidlc

    I drove by the local library, a polling place. The parking lot was full. People had to park in an overflow lot.

    Not sure what this means. Glad I didn’t have to go in. I voted by mail.

  8. ProNewerDeal

    fwd https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/excess-deaths-cumulative-per-100k-economist

    I would love to get the NC Covid Brain Trust to comment/interpret this data.

    My layman (not a biology/medical professional) interpretation of this data of per-capita Excess Deaths by nation, referred to here as E.

    1 E is a decent metric of the mortality effects of Covid by nation. A few nations could be an exception like Mynamar/Syria that had a Covid-unrelated mass death event due to war. This metric is superior than Health Department-Official Covid deaths by nation, due to many nations having inadequate data collection/accuracy.

    2 Shows that Covid is global and effecting nearly every nation, regardless of Covid public health measure or ruling government political orientation. Stated alternatively, ruling governments in nations of all 4 political spectrum quadrants are suffering from Covid – Left-Libertarian, Left-Authoritarian, Right-Libertarian, Right-Authoritarian.

    3 This data shows inanity of US regular Rs (both everyday persons and politician) Covid-downplaying talking point of
    “they died with Covid, not because of Covid”
    “hospitals are just labeling any death a Covid death to get paid more”
    “it is just a scam so that Trump/Rs won’t get reelected” – Not Everything Revolves Around USA Rs – Covid is effecting nearly every nation

    4 Presumably E captures not only deaths from the immediate acute Covid phase, but seemingly unrelated Covid deaths of those who suffer from cancer/stroke/etc that may have been exacerbated by Covid damaging organs, reducing T-Cells, etc. I recall reading that the death rate within 1 year of a Covid infection is significally higher.

    5 The nations’ with the best E performance are helping their own citizens and the world (via less viral replication and thus chance for new strain mutation), but it is Harm Reduction, not Harm Prevention. Eg China with 47/100K deaths is far superior to US 372/100K deaths, and their policy should probably be continued for public health/humanitarianism. OTOH if a new harm X killed an incremental 47/100K persons in under 3 years, that itself would be a significant public health concern.

    Analogy – China is like a person driving a car with a seatbelt. USA is like a person driving without seatbelt. Driving a car has an intrinsic mortality risk in either case, although wearing a seatbelt provides significant Harm Reduction.

    6 Because of even the best performing nations have significant Excess Deaths, the “Swiss Cheese Layered Harm Reduction” model Lambert advocates of multiple factors including N95 masks, air filtration, targeted lockdowns, etc remains as relevant than ever and far superior the current US “Vax-Only and Relax” policy.

    7 China’s Zero Covid approach provides significant harm reduction.

    8 Although “correlation is not causation”, the claims of physician Dr Kory and the flccc dot net organization of prophalyctic I-vitamin in reducing Covid risk seem plausible. Notice that many African nations where widespread prophalyctic I-vitamin was already established practice (iirc for River Blindness), have a relatively low E. Many of these African nations presumably have an even worse public health system and healthcare system than the USA’s, and despite this enjoy a low E. Considering that I-vitamin is “well tolerated”, periodic/weekly prophalyctic I-vitamin usage should be considered for inclusion in the Layered Harm Reduction model.

    9 As long as Covid is endemic in the world, even in high-wage nations like the US/Japan/etc, workers that can avoid or minimize Covid infections to where their physical and cerebral skills are maintained without significant Covid-damage, may enjoy near-Full Employment. There simply won’t be enough non-disabled workers available to enact a world economy nor US economy changing massive Automation nor Offshore Outsourcing nor Immigrant Worker wave while Covid is endemic. In other words it will be an All Hands On Deck case for the remaining smaller pool of non-disabled workers, globally.

    What do ya think?! (c) Ed Schultz

    1. Isotope_C14

      I’ve been occasionally lurking around here the last couple of weeks and hesitant to do much more than that, seeing as some really disappointing statements have been made re: the only health consideration in the world AKA COVID-19. I was deeply saddened when a person with a differing perspective on draconian lockdowns was implied to be a eugenicist, and I didn’t think I’d see that sort of thing around here.

      I also decline being considered a part of any “brain trust” as putting trust in others requires something much deeper than an online communication can afford. Working directly with scientists in a laboratory setting is required for that. You have to see yourself if they wrap every chemical they work with that says “protect from light” with aluminum foil -(while working in a lab with only fluorescent light)- so you know they don’t know anything about photochemistry. That doesn’t mean they know nothing, but it does call into question their critical thinking skills.

      I can see what you are doing with your many attempts to put all of these data into an equation. Unfortunately there are far too many confounders to do that. If all things were equal, and all individuals were recording data/stats reliably and this was all done in advance with a clear protocol, you could then compare apples to apples.

      In this case each country is a different fruit, some tastier than others, and while the data can be compiled, you can’t do much more than that with it.

      Each country would need to be sorted by age. IIRC the average age of Germans is 50+ whilst Nigeria is 26 or thereabouts somewhere. First all these stats would need to be sorted there. We know that older demographics were hit harder.

      Then you have environmental issues, how much natural Vit D are people exposed to yearly. What is the nutrition of a given country? Obesity rates? Actually your link with the cumulative death rate looks exactly what I’d assume about VIT D supplementation, with eastern Europe/RU with too many poor folk who aren’t supplementing with D.

      How many were exposed to the absolutely not COVID-19 that seems to have been circulating in Sept/Oct-Dec 2019?

      How is the data handled at collection? What is the diagnostic criteria for COVID in a given area? As we know PCR is not a diagnostic tool, but has been perverted to be used as one. So what CT is a positive?

      Do you see what I’m getting at here?

      I know it is human nature to try to make the simplest explanation out of a set of data points or say country A is doing something while Country B is not. There’s too many variables and at the end COVID is a mild illness (My long symptoms have mostly cleared a year later). 1M people die yearly of perfectly preventable diarrhea and not a single solitary person is enraged about that fact and that all it would take is 1B USD to increase sanitation in a couple 3rd world countries to cut that by 90%.

      Honestly right now people concerned about “Harm Reduction” should be eating their Vit D, dropping the seed/vegetable oils from the diet, never imbibe anything with aspartame and get out for a vigorous exercise at least thrice/week. Beyond that the data is so suspect that you might as well argue how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It will cause less cortisol which will also increase your health.

      1. Yves Smith

        Your assumption that Covid is a mild illness is fallacious. The evidence is mounting that every infection imposes an immune system and often even an organ cost. The damage accumulates over time. For instance, there has been a huge rise in formerly obscure cancers. That’s believed to be an effect of T cell derangement/exhaustion, since one of the big functions of T cells is to stop cancer cells from invading other cells.

      2. IM Doc

        I believe your points are very well taken.

        When we are talking about the USA, our entire data collection system is just a total mess. I am not sure it can be ever reliably used for anything about COVID.

        For example, much has been made in the past few months about USA having some of the highest mortality rates there are in the world from COVID. That is true….but is that truly a COVID issue or an adjacent problem? The vast majority of my own patients who have had a very negative outcome have been folks who have been overweight, out of control diabetics, gravely ill in some other way, or immunocompromised. The first two by far and away the problems. Is COVID killing a higher percentage of Americans because of how we have handled it specifically, or is it killing more Americans because there are 10 fast food joints at every intersection? Or is it multifactorial in ways we have not even imagined?

        The issue is this is very very difficult to tease out. As you say, there is a universe of confounding variables and issues.

        And the death rate is just one of the issues.

        But I was trained to see what is going on before my eyes, to process it with whatever data I had available and to immediately begin working with my patients on what I am seeing. This is ESPECIALLY SO in an emergency when little is known. Unfortunately, our federal health officials have done everything possible to squelch this approach. As anyone who has been reading my comments for the past 3 years can tell you – I have repeatedly stated – LOSE WEIGHT, EAT LESS SUGAR, GET THE A1C DOWN, EXERCISE, GET OUT IN THE SUN, HUG YOUR KIDS. For it is people who do those things who really seem to have better COVID outcomes before my very own eyes. And I have doubled down on this with my own cohort. And have had many many people listen and get much healthier.

        Unfortunately, these things have not ever been a priority of our federal health officials – and for that I am profoundly disappointed.

        And again, this is just one example.

        Do not even get me started, for example, on the definition of “vaccinated” or “unvaccinated”. Talk about confounding and misdirection.

        1. Yves Smith

          I would not depict China as having a terribly healthy population.

          Diabetes incidence is higher in China than the US. 12.4% v. 11.3% here. Also much less treatment of diabetes. Chinese like Mexicans have a greater propensity to get diabetes at normal body weights than Americans:


          Over 25% of Chinese are smokers v. 12.5% in US. And terrible air pollution, often water pollution too. I would never eat tilapia, for instance, 70% comes from China.

          In China, medicine is not held in high esteem as a profession. Doctors not better paid than average workers. Mao went after Western medicine and Chinese medicine is often still preferred. I grant some aspects of Chinese medicine seem to be effective but infectious diseases and diabetes is not one of its strengths.

          1. Isotope_C14

            Thanks IM Doc and Yves for your points (and above) – as an aside, I consider “Mild” as say, not Ebola, or other high-morbidity/mortality disease. The book isn’t closed on COVID but perhaps we shouldn’t be funding GOF research just in case an incompetent technician goes out clubbing after spraying his lab with an uncharacterized virus.

            The human brain seeks to see simplicity in complex scenarios where it is poorly tuned due to our short generational lifespan (2-4), and this is a problem that compounds our systemic inability to fund basic science to the degree that it should be.

            This leads to something we don’t do well. Multigenerational epigenetic studies are not terribly common. There isn’t really even a structure in place for something this complex, and there is no way for someone to profit off of it, so it won’t.

            I’ve read about a hypothesis that the increase in diabetes in particular areas were due to the fact that the grandfather of the diabetic experienced starvation at some time in life for a protracted period.

            What happens when that grandchild encounters a plush environment complete with every nutrient available?

            Were the grandfathers under Mao starved? I remember being told to finish my plate due to starving kids in China. Not that my empty plate would help that, but I’m trying to put something in perspective.

            What is the effect of that starvation + smoking? We will likely never know.

            Yet another confounder. That’s why biology is so interesting. Every time you think you have the answer, a new question appears.

            I read the other responses here, thank you for all of them. I hope that was a bot flora. I deeply respect Jay Battacharya <-sp Vinay Prasad, and even Dr. Drew. He's been on fire lately with his podcasts, for a whole month!

            Sorry if I don't respond to all of them, it's trivia night and gotta go!

            1. Basil Pesto

              I deeply respect Jay Battacharya, Vinay Prasad

              Why? they are transparently, risibly bad faith actors, to the point of frankly being scumbags (I’ve not heard of Dr Drew, you’ll forgive me if I eschew his podcast). Prasad has blocked reams of capable scientists and health practitioners making good faith rebuttals to his ridiculous bullshit. The dude is a charlatan, plain and simple (and even if one submitted that he made some valid point somewhere in his substack oeuvre, I would want to see it supported by at least two more, unpoliticised and independent sources. This level of ad hom caution is perfectly justifiable in his case; he simply cannot be trusted by dint of his very own actions and his naked sophistry.)

              Eugenics is a rather specific term; I think it’s sloppy to apply it in this case. The policy that Bhattacharya lobbied for in lieu of the measures that could have nipped this problem in the bud in 2020 can straightforwarfly be described as one of mass murder. Suffice it to say that it was not a surfeit of Vitamin D that lead to mass graves in brazil, morgue trucks in new york, the Italian army evacuating corpses from Bergamo, prolific corpse burnings in India, and numerous other extensively documented outrages of the past three years. It was Covid, and our inept response to it. The response that Bhattacharya, Kulldorff and several other unscrupulous goons (successfully) lobbied for. I can only continue to hope that most other NC readers won’t be seduced by their utterly self-serving rationalisations.

              Interesting as well that

              I also decline being considered a part of any “brain trust” as putting trust in others requires something much deeper than an online communication can afford.

              you apparently reject the colloquially nicknamed NC Covid Brain Trust (with a fairly excellent track record), yet stan for Bhattacharya (a “health economist” in, uh, the USA, at Stanford, and with obviously compromising institutional and political allegiances), Prasad (an oncologist-publicist and professional wrongster, who scarcely sees patients), and a podcaster.

              I think there are few NC commenters who understand the complexity of biology better than GM; I hope he weighs in as I’m sure he can see past the inane appeals to confounders and Vitamin D to downplay this nightmare. I am exhausted by the endless bullshit.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > transparently, risibly bad faith actors


                I think when you advocate for a policy that is known to have lethal effects on selected populations, it’s fair to call that eugenics. Just because there’s no officer at the Auschwitz railhead pointing some people to HappyVille and some people Pain City doesn’t mean the same process is not happening, albeit in a far more obfuscated way (it being the purpose of the institutions and funders that support “Jay” and “Vinay” to provide that obfuscation). “Jay” and “Vinay” still support killing the unfit, as does the political class they persuaded (and it wasn’t so hard for them to do that, either).

      3. flora

        a quick aside re: “I was deeply saddened when a person with a differing perspective on draconian lockdowns was implied to be a eugenicist, and I didn’t think I’d see that sort of thing around here. ”

        I know, me too. Except that I also know this is a popular site and “minders” of content (not moderators, but persons or bots engaged in steering conversation/emotions in a certain direction on popular sites) are also posting here. One was pretty notorious, even used the handle of a wiki moderator. They give themselves away.

        Point is, what you read that sounds very unlike the commentariate may well be from a bot farm or an external political or other “minder”. So, it’s frustrating and even shocking to read comments brutally smacking down any dissent but I don’t take it personally. It may not be a person on the other end, it may be a bot server doing the “smacking” and there have been a lot of them it seems since 2020. My 2 cents.

        1. flora

          adding: every US based popular site is coming under more and more pressure to “conform” or risk the displeasure of the destructo-mobs. They even went after Joe Rogan, most popular podcaster in the US. (They failed, but they went after him. ) I can only wonder the pressure liberal sites like NC are under to not stray too far from the “allowable” story lines on certain politically volatile topics. It too bad, really. I miss the old zest.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the only health consideration in the world AKA COVID-19

        Anytime you want me to stop trying to protect readers from a serious illness, just say the word, champ.

        Also, the ongoing Covid pandemic has enormous implications for “finance, economics, politics and power.” That’s our beat, in case you somehow missed that.

        > I was deeply saddened when a person with a differing perspective on draconian lockdowns was implied to be a eugenicist

        Stuck pig squeals. “Was implied” is in the passive voice. Did you have anyone in particular in mind? (Also, if by “draconian lockdowns” your comment refers to the ludicrously half-assed measures we took here in the United States… no. “Draconian” is doing way more work than a poor little classical tag should be expected to do.)

          1. lambert strether

            Passive aggressive doesn’t work with me. Especially combined with tone policing in defense of eugenicists.

  9. tegnost

    I’m on day 11 and while I suppose mild may describe the symptoms, they’ve morphed every day, more recently back spasms, stuffy nose, intermittent minor cough and the like…maybe less brain fog. The duration is not mild, had I any jobs to do I wouldn’t have done them. My layman’s takeaway is I’m not boosted but I’ve had the same outcome as boosted people so I’m not seeing the point. The usual suspects in my crowd pushing me to boost anyway… along with the accompanying eyeroll re my unwillingness. When I dropped my ballot I ran across another denizen who told me of another positive so I wasn’t the only one affected…
    As for the election I’d say red ripple also as the disgruntled are more likely to not vote rather than vote for the republican. I stuck with my accelerationist philosophy and only bucked the trend voting against the good ol’ boy sherriff.

    1. Old Jake

      Over here in Sequim, in the snow last night I dropped our ballots in the box (we vote by mail or drop our mailed-out ballots into a collection box, but at least they are hand marked on paper). One by one cars were driving by and dropping ballots in the box. Not that I hung around to watch, but there was one car 100 yards ahead of me that I saw drive off, and as I drove off another came into the area.

      As far as watching the polls or reading everyone’s reports, I’m ignoring the whole mess. Nothing important will change anyway.

      Tegnost, this has gone on all too long, all I can do is wish but I wish you a better day today and tomorrow and the rest. My daughter-in-law caught it in August, only five days feeling ill, but every day was different symptoms.

    2. tegnost

      updating that the other island positive, who is a cigarette smoker, is in the hospital…
      He’s otherwise pretty fit but watch out folks. N 95 or better please…
      He’s a friend so I’m hoping for the best…

  10. IM Doc

    About the Dr. Leonardi article about T-cell dysfunction in COVID.

    The article that Lambert has referenced is something I think we should all read and contemplate. The article is written for all to understand. It is not full of jargon and medicalese.

    The basic hypothesis being put forth is that COVID is exhausting our immune systems, particularly the T-cells, which are the “ace in the hole” for any immune action against a virus.

    I have heard this line of thinking debated in academic conferences for the past 2 years many times. I think it is becoming clear ( an in now way a consensus ) that this line of thinking is absolutely plausible.

    Right up front, this type of situation is already found in other human viral infections, most notably dengue fever, the defining pattern of which is that the second and subsequent infections are much worse, often lethal, than the first. Years of research have realized that a large component of this problem has to do with an exhausted immune system.

    Secondly, one could posit if this was really the case that eventually, the communal immune system would be so wiped out that fighting other infectious agents, both group and individually, may be a problem. Look around you. I have never seen so much RSV in my life. And now the flu is coming right up behind. Lots and lots of non-COVID illness. And especially the RSV – this has never been this pathogenic an infection in my career until the past few months.

    I ask very tough questions in conferences. Someone has to.

    If I were in a conference with Dr. Leonardi, I would have the following ready to go……

    “It is crystal clear in my practice, and in the chatter I hear from docs all around me, that the vaccinated patients are mainly the ones we are seeing quite literally over and over again. I have many that are now on infection #4 or 5. Again, this is clearly much more common in the vaccinated. Indeed, we now have studies coming in from everywhere that the VE ( vaccine effectiveness) often goes negative in many age groups and demographics only after a few weeks/months….the most recent is the Qatari study from NEJM just days ago. IOW, the vaccinated are very quickly becoming more likely to be infected. This is certainly obvious to me looking at my practice. If this is so, Dr. Leonardi, are you aware of the vaccines mitigating this effect on frequent infections? If not, is this not putting the vaccinated in more damage given your model?”

    That to me is the elephant in the room…..and I am hearing it being discussed nowhere. Unfortunately, I am starting to see in the multiply infected a significant propensity toward frequent other infections, shingles, severe fatigue, and lack of desire for exercise.

    There is so much we need to know – now. We need those who are unafraid to ask hard questions. But as was pointed out to me just a few weeks ago by one of my elder professors – critical thinking has been quashed. We simply cannot tolerate misinformation. Those who engage in it are the evildoers – just look at the New York Times.


    There really will need to be a day of accountability for all of this. Meanwhile, there are those of us out on the fruited plain, who have practices literally full of these kinds of patients. With all kinds of questions.

      1. IM Doc

        Sorry – it should read – IOW, the vaccinated are very quickly becoming more likely to be infected.”

          1. Arizona Slim

            IM Doc, if you ever come to Tucson, I am buying you a meal and at least one round of your favorite beverage. And, once again, thank you for all that you do.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I thought the Tyee article was impressive, particularly the part about Leonardi’s track record. He’s clearly not a negligible figure, and clearly not a crank.

      “Plausible” indeed!

      1. Lee

        Excellent article.

        I have had ME/CFS since experiencing a serious respiratory infection in 2006. This condition is also termed “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysregulation Syndrome” (CFIDS). It hit me just as I was able to retire with a modest degree of financial security. It’s horrific to imagine what effects will be wrought by a significantly larger proportion of the population suffering from a similar condition.

    2. Hana M

      Are the covid vaccines themselves causing immune exhaustion or is it the repeated infections–or is it both?
      My money is on “both”.

      1. Lee

        I don’t know the answer to your question but one of the worst things about the vaccines is the misrepresentations regarding them that have been cynically and criminally used to support policies and personal behaviors that continue to fuel the pandemic.

      2. FredW

        The question I have that I don’t see discussed properly anywhere is:

        Are the high number of excess deaths attributed to “not directly related to covid” caused by,
        1) covid,
        2) vaccinations,
        3) lockdowns, etc., or
        4) something else entirely?

        People reporting the excess deaths tend to implicitly imply one of the above, usually without saying it directly, but without providing evidence.

      3. flora

        Maybe military medicine is to medicine as military justice is to justice, to rewrite an old saying. (DARPA and BARDA.) / ;)

    3. Verifyfirst

      I don’t know what percentage of the adult population has had zero vaccinations-there are apparently a lot who have had at least one or two but not many more than that. And then there are the “fully vaccinated”, which would be four shots, last one within the past six months?

      So I guess one could have widespread waning immunity for the less than “fully” vaccinated group, which is probably the largest group, and even waning for the “fully” vacc’d after a period of time. Of course there is no 100% immunity from these vaccines, regardless of how recent or how many (witness CDC Director, who had her fifth (?) shot 2 weeks before getting Covid -for second time? Lucky for her, her employer gave her 17 (mild) days off and two courses of (mild) Paxlovid).

      There are so many possible permutations of individual vax history and timing, then throw in individual history of infections before, during or after vaccines. And more than one vaccine brand. And masking/ventilation practices of the individual, which may prevent some cases. And the ever changing variant soup. And the severity question–is that affected by any of these variables?

      I’m not sure how one disentangles all this.

    4. Objective Ace

      Any idea if your observations include JNJ or is it just the MRNA vaccines? I’m wondering what the implications may be for Novavax

  11. Lex

    Lot’s of horribly bad takes in the Time piece, as are required once the words Ukraine and/or Russia are uttered. But I’m wondering it seems like Lieven would have read one of these documents before or be relatively familiar with how the US portrays foreign policy. All of these (sorts of) documents, going back to the early 50’s are dripping with fear. Gen. LeMay is reported to have said that they’d need to “scare the hell out of the american people” to maintain defense budgets. The missile gap was a matter of generated fear, the domino theory, etc. etc. etc. The entirety of the national security state is built on existential fear of our existential enemy of the era.

    Lieven is correct in that the US is not in any more danger than it ever was, but the empire is in very great danger and in ways that it never has been before. The question is whether the US is willing to give up the empire to make sure that it’s secure because security on the domestic front will be negatively impacted by attempting (and failing) to maintain the empire. In fact, it’s the only thing that really could threaten the US’s domestic security.

    1. Lee

      Just as the institution of slavery in the U.S. was in the process of losing its economic viability for lack of new territories with still fertile soils to cultivate by means of territorial expansion, the neoliberal-capitalist economy is, with its concomitant inequities, absolutely dependent upon expansion in order to maintain function and avoid collapse. I’m not seeing a positive change of course here any time soon absent a great social upheaval within the hegemonic state. This could possibly be precipitated by yet another military defeat abroad coupled with growing economic hardship. Always the giddy optimist, me.

      1. marku52

        An excellent comment. As the US has already been looted down to the floor boards, finance capitalism must look for new horizons to loot. Russia would have been dandy.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Just as the institution of slavery in the U.S. was in the process of losing its economic viability for lack of new territories with still fertile soils to cultivate by means of territorial expansion

        I’m not sure about the exhausted soil argument[1]. The literature says that slaveholders were fervent agriculturalists.

        I think all you need for an explanation for expansionism is that (a) slavery was extremely profitable and (b) the slaveholder class had hegemony over US foreign policy (one reason they seceded when Lincoln was elected). See Matt Karp’s This Vast Southern Empire (review at NC here). The slaveholders where the 1850’s version of The Blob!

        [1] I want to see the scholarship, and I want to see it for the slave states as a while. Here is a fascinating article on tobacco in Maryland, which at first site supports the “soil exhaustion” thesis in the 1840s, but also points out remediation efforts by landowners (guano).

    2. The Rev Kev

      I thought that the telling remark was the quoted one-

      ‘The basis of the tremendous strength of the U.S. position lies in American military power in alliance with local states that are themselves economically and politically strong; while Russian and Chinese alliance systems are weak by comparison.’

      But what is happening is that the US is deliberately weakening their allies. The destruction of the NS2 pipelines has crippled European, hence NATO, industrial capacity which means their strength will wane. And the US forces their allies to buy their military gear, whether it works or not so the F-35 would be an example here. And the bullying tactics that Washington has used this year to try to force countries to sanction Russia has made them few friends and already this is having effects from economic relations through to UN votes. So the US and its supposed allies come down to “a mile wide and an inch deep.”

    1. Arizona Slim

      Slim nervously eyes the mead supply in the kitchen. I just started a new mead, and it won’t be ready for drinking until December. My current amount of mead won’t be enough for me to play this game, gosh-darn-it!

    2. Geo

      Is Taibbi trying to kill his readers? “Democracy is in the ballot” is a verbal tick at this point amongst the MSM, Dem politicians, and the never trump hucksters. That’s like saying take a drink every time Obama says “uh” or Trump says “biggest”.

    3. mrsyk

      Hot damn! Gotta check the cellar, see if there’s enough whiskey.
      Here in southern Vermont I received a ballot in the mail about a month ago which, after filling out, I can mail in or bring to the polling station and feed it into the tabulator. I chose the second option. The woman manning the books said business was good.

  12. Geo

    This article encapsulates what many have said on here recently. Wonder if there will be any accountability within Democratic circles for… just kidding! Accountability is for little people.

    – – –
    Backfire: Dems spent millions to get pro-Trump candidates on the ballot, and now they’re winning
    “It undercuts the urgency of Biden going out and giving these two big speeches about democracy being on the ballot then having at least some democratically aligned groups supporting candidates who are 2020 election deniers.”


    1. Duke of Prunes

      You would think the Ds would have learned their lesson about this strategy with Trump’s defeat of Hillary… oh yeah, that was the Ruskies. Never mind.

      Now, the Washington Times does tend to lean Trump so I’ll believe some of this when I see it… then again, the Ds are lately particularly adept at self-owning so it will not be a surprise, either.

  13. Anthony G Stegman

    Over at Counterpunch Ralph Nader wrote a column that implores all of us to vote. He maintains that by not voting we are enabling those who wish to do us harm (mostly Republicans per Ralph). What Ralph doesn’t mention is the paucity of alternative candidates to vote for. The ballot I received in the mail has only a handful of options for write-in candidates. The vast majority of options were fixed – fully vetted candidates who are very highly unlikely to upset the status quo. So why bother voting when it seems like such a waste of time?

  14. FreeMarketApologist

    Voted in my precinct in NYC (Midtown/UES), very much the PMC crowd, trending younger these days, along with the well off older (the substantially wealthy vote in districts north of me, or in FL). At 4:45pm there was only 1 other voter there, but the poll worker said they’d been quite busy in the morning, with a steady but light stream of people all day. She was expecting a crowd after 5pm once people got off work.

  15. Wukchumni

    Dateline: Altadena

    The newest Illionaire has just joined the ranks and who knows what he or she will do with a couple billion, but you could pretty much eliminate homelessness in Cali if you wanted to…

  16. griffen

    Watching the CNBC channel mid afternoon and there were rumblings of ill will and bad tidings that emanated from the bubbly world of crypto. It is as though FTX and Binance ( I think ) were channeling some weird variation on a famous Taylor Swift tune.

    It’s either Bad Blood or we are never ever getting back together. If work was not distracting me, I might have paid closer attention.

    The commentator on CNBC, well his takeaway was that the FTX commercial that featured none other than Larry David: “that aired during the Super Bowl…maybe that has not aged too well…”

    1. Wukchumni

      MLB umpires only have but 1 MLB patch on their uniforms, but insist on wearing a couple of FTX patches, so as to give you an idea what’s more important, baseball versus imaginary money.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Republicans Are Planning an All-Out Assault on the Working Class If They Win Next Week”

    That could backfire badly for them that. This is only the midterms being held, not the main 2024 Presidential elections. You can have a solid wave in one election but two years later, that wave can go in the opposite direction. Of course a lot depends on how the Democrats respond to today’s election. They might reform if the carnage is too bad or they might say that they were failed by their voters – and Susan Sarandon. I’m really curious to see what happens with the, ahem, progressives.

    1. Wukchumni

      I heard in case of a wipeout, Donkey Show true believers in show business will be making an exodus to Cañada, er La Cañada.

      1. Adam

        Uh, having had in laws, now outlaws, in la Canada, I don’t think any donkeys would be very welcome.

      2. ambrit

        Hmmm…. Sounds like the plot for a Woke Founding Narrative.
        Desperate refugees from Castigating Central take ship to a New World of Promise and Infinite Pronouns. Our brave herox sail the ship “Pinyata” to a New Beginning in the Great Rainbow North.
        Coming soon on your favourite streaming service!

  18. Jason Boxman

    From a tech Discord I’m on about people being sick. (Everyone’s gone to Discord from Slack for some reason. Bring back IRC.)

    I’m seeing this kind of thing at work as well.

    PersonA — Today at 10:24 AM
    I’m okay. A little better today. Went to the doctor yesterday morning and I have a upper respiratory infection rather than a sinus infection. Which is good. I just seem to be drained of energy
    PersonB — Today at 10:42 AM
    A lot of people are getting sick right now. I’m sick, fiancee is sick too.
    She says there are a lot of sick kids in the hospital.
    PersonA — Today at 10:44 AM
    My wife has been fighting a sinus infection for 3 weeks. At this rate we’ll have to cancel Thanksgiving if we aren’t better. Don’t want to pass it along to other family & friends
    PersonB — Today at 10:55 AM
    Yeah PersonC has been sick for over a week with a bad cough. I’ve had my sore throat since Saturday. It’s all viral though so doctors can’t do anything.

    And generally no one ever thinks it might be COVID. Because why would it be? No one seems to bother getting tested, either.

    As I said back in January, this is the most dangerous phase of the Pandemic yet. Stay safe out there!

    1. Jen

      Hounded my 89 year old dad until he got a PCR test for his “bad cold.” He had COVID. It didn’t even occur to him that it could be. His RATs came up negative.

      Co-worker was out with a “virus.” His entire family had COVID, but his RAT was negative so he thought he had something else.

  19. Karl

    RE: Graphic showing Soros as biggest donor by far to Democrats

    I’ve said this in previous posts to this site, but I’ll say it again: Soros, an emigre from Hungary after WW II, is very keen on Eastern European “democracy” and (according to his Open Society Foundation website) spent $18 billion on projects around the world since its founding around 1980. An “Open Society” (term coined by Karl Popper, who Soros claims as an intellectual father) has open borders to flows of capital, labor and information. The epitome of a “Closed Society” was the USSR (when Popper’s book was published in the ’70’s).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Soros has used his influence in the Democratic Party over the years to ensure that people like Madeleine Albright (parents fled Czechoslovakia) and Vicky Nuland (parents fled Ukraine) were placed in high places. I suspect he was a big supporter of Russophobes like McCain and Graham as well.

    Some of Soros’s “projects” may well have borne fruit in such diverse areas as the framework for the EU (free flow of capital and labor); EU and NATO expansion; the growing dominance of Neocons throughout the DC establishment; and much more. I’m not a conspiracist, and won’t say that Soros “caused” all of these things; but in the absence of a countervailing $18 billion force, I think he surely made a difference by lubricating and tipping the balance in many ways.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Some of Soros’s “projects” may well have borne fruit in such diverse areas as the framework for the EU (free flow of capital and labor); EU and NATO expansion; the growing dominance of Neocons throughout the DC establishment; and much more. I’m not a conspiracist, and won’t say that Soros “caused” all of these things; but in the absence of a countervailing $18 billion force, I think he surely made a difference by lubricating and tipping the balance in many ways.

      Not implausible at all. I had Soros filed under Eastern Europe in my mind. I failed to follow the money, so fifty lashes with a wet noodle for lambert.

  20. kareninca

    An ultra liberal physician in my ultra liberal zoom church – she is in New England – let us know this evening that she had just gotten over covid and that she fortunately does not have any lingering problems from it. Sometimes I feel as if I am living on Mars. Of course, since she is in her early 70s, if she does have problems in the upcoming months, she can blame them on her age. Not on a messed up immune system.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > An ultra liberal physician in my ultra liberal zoom church – she is in New England – let us know this evening that she had just gotten over covid and that she fortunately does not have any lingering problems from it.

      Serious question. Is there some kind of home test kit for blood clots?

      1. Steve H.

        Nope. The D-dimer test is what they use when they send blood to the laboratory. Elevated rates can show up with Covid and vaccination:

        Risks of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and bleeding after covid-19: nationwide self-controlled cases series and matched cohort study

        However, D-dimer is a product of breaking down a clot. Therapeutic research paid attention to larger clots, but microclotting wasn’t well understood (see ‘thrombotic storm’ as a rare condition). I’d be very cautious about assuming the D-dimer test rules out microclotting.

        1. kareninca

          That is why I take a natto serra capsule daily, on a very empty stomach. This is definitely not medical advice (since it could interfere with a med a person is taking, perhaps, or affect an existing ailment or medical state).

  21. Bosko

    John Berger was a really interesting guy, a compelling figure with such an interesting story, but like many people I read his works (which were considered indispensable in the 80s) now and am on the fence about whether it’s actually good or just warmed over Walter Benjamin.

  22. Raymond Sim

    Lambert, re wastewater data on non-Covid respiratory viruses. (I’ve been under the weather quite a lot lately or I’d have brought this to your attention a bit sooner.):

    SCAN Influenza page: https://soe-wbe-pilot.wl.r.appspot.com/charts#page=overview_influenza

    SCAN RSV page: https://soe-wbe-pilot.wl.r.appspot.com/charts#page=overview_RSV

    SCAN Human Metapneumovirus page: https://soe-wbe-pilot.wl.r.appspot.com/charts#page=overview_hmpv

    I don’t wholly trust the SCAN data anymore, but all the fishiness (as perceived by me) has involved individual sites, particularly UCD and Oceanside, reporting suspicious declines in levels or withholding/deleting data. The current across-the-board rapid increases don’t partake of that. I’m telling friends and family it’s “Brace for Impact!” time. (Or “Christmas in November.” maybe?)

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