2:00PM Water Cooler 5/16/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Corn Bunting, Essonne, Essonne, Île-de-France, France. A chorus.

* * *


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

Spook Country

“Durham report on Trump-Russia investigation: What led to it and what happens next” [Associated Press]. “It didn’t take long for Republicans in Congress to react. Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said he had invited Durham to testify on Capitol Hill next week. Trump, too, sought to seize on the report, claiming anew in a post on his Truth Social platform that the Durham report had found “the crime of the century” and calling the Russia investigation the ‘Democrat Hoax.’ Though the FBI says it’s already taken some steps to address the problems cited in the report, Durham did say it’s possible more reform could be needed. One idea, he said, would be to provide additional scrutiny of politically sensitive investigations by identifying an official who would be responsible for challenging the steps taken in a probe. He said his team had considered but did not ultimately recommend steps that would curtail the FBI’s investigative authorities, including its use of tools under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to eavesdrop on suspected spies or terrorists.” • Coverage seems more than a little thin, so far.

“Report on Matters Related to Intelligence Activities and Investigations Arising Out ofthe 2016 Presidential Campaigns” (PDF) [Special Counsel John H. Durham]. I haven’t had time for even a quick scan, but I did catch this from the Executive Summary, which I haven’t seen elsewhere. “Crossfire Hurricane” is the FBI’s Trump investigation:

So, a double standard for Clinton vs. Trump. Odd!

Taibbi comments:


“Durham Report Condemns the FBI’s Russia Probe — But Don’t Expect It to Make a Difference” [Jonathan Turley, The Messenger]. “In the 305-page report released Monday, special counsel John Durham concluded that the Trump-Russia investigation was launched without a required minimal level of evidence and shattered a host of departmental standards. Let that sink in: The Justice Department — as well as the media that covered it — effectively shut down a duly elected presidency, based on what turned out to be a politically engineered hoax. That would make anyone angry. Really angry. Trump-level angry. The fact is, in this instance, Donald Trump was correct when he said he was the target of a political hitjob funded by the Clinton campaign and maintained by virtually every media outlet. There is a word for that: disinformation.” • Making the Disinformation Industrial Complex the world’s largest case of projection….


I guess it’s time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“IRS removes ‘entire investigative team’ in Hunter Biden probe, whistleblower claims retaliation: report” [FOX]. “The IRS has removed the ‘entire investigative team’ from its multi-year tax fraud investigation of Hunter Biden, and a whistleblower who raised concerns about the handling of the case is claiming the move was ‘clearly retaliatory,’ according to a Monday report. Per The New York Post, the whistleblower’s attorneys told Congress that the removal was on the order of the Department of Justice.”

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.

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“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. We are now up to 50/50 states (100%). This is really great! (It occurs to me that there are uses to which this data might be put, beyond helping people with “personal risk assessments” appropriate to their state. For example, thinking pessimistically, we might maintain the list and see which states go dark and when. We might also tabulate the properties of each site and look for differences and commonalities, for example the use of GIS (an exercise in Federalism). I do not that CA remains a little sketchy; it feels a little odd that there’s no statewide site, but I’ve never been able to find one. Also, my working assumption was that each state would have one site. That’s turned out not to be true; see e.g. ID. Trivially, it means I need to punctuate this list properly. Less trivially, there may be more local sites that should be added. NY city in NY state springs to mind, but I’m sure there are others. FL also springs to mind as a special case, because DeSantis will most probably be a Presidental candidate, and IIRC there was some foofra about their state dashboard. Thanks again!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (9), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (5), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

Template of a letter demanding universal masking:

I originally wrote “requesting,” but yes, “demanding.”


“Timing matters for COVID vaccine effectiveness” (locked) [Nature]. The deck: “Younger and older people gained greater protection if they had their jabs in the middle of the day.” • If the journals are going to lock down Covid content, our timeline is going to get even stupider.


“For Patient Safety, It Is Not Time to Take Off Masks in Health Care Settings” (opinion) [Annals of Internal Medicine]. “Laboratory studies have done what clinical research has not and demonstrated that surgical masks—and to a greater extent, filtering facepiece respirators—are effective in limiting the spread of aerosols and droplets from individuals infected with influenza, coronaviruses, and other respiratory viruses. Although not 100% effective, they substantially reduce quantities of virus expelled during coughing or talking, thereby mitigating risk. Real-world experience shows the effectiveness of mask wearing in clinical settings. Thanks largely to universal masking and use of other personal protective equipment, health care personnel have been at far greater risk for acquiring COVID-19 from community than occupational exposures…. We are struck by the broad efficacy of masks for source control and protection during the pandemic and find this to be one of the major lessons learned with enduring value as a patient safety measure in health care. A striking finding was the remarkable reduction in the health care–associated transmission of virtually all respiratory viruses, not simply SARS-CoV-2, in our institutions and others. Although not all of our colleagues agree with our approach [Shenoy], a survey of hospital epidemiologists across the country suggests that, as recently as the fall and winter of 2022, about 97% of surveyed hospital epidemiologists were not eager to eliminate masks in their facilities. Perhaps that sentiment has shifted in the past 4 months, but the support of many infection prevention experts for using masks for broad prevention of respiratory virus transmission, and not simply SARS-CoV-2, suggests that many others share this view. In our enthusiasm to return to the appearance and feeling of normalcy, and as institutions decide which mitigation strategies to discontinue, we strongly advocate not discarding this important lesson learned for the sake of our patients’ safety.” • The same venue that published MGH Infection Control Unit director Shenoy’s vile screed. Really shoving the knife in there with “sentiment,” “enthusiasm”, and “feeling,” all of which imply that anti-mask policies are not science-based.

“Masks back in Giro d’Italia as COVID-19 hits the race” [Reuters]. “Giro d’Italia followers coming into contact with riders will be required to wear masks in the wake of COVID-19 cases that hit the race and forced overall leader Remco Evenepoel to abandon the ‘Corsa Rosa’, race director Mauro Vegni said on Monday. Belgian Evenepoel pulled out of the race on Sunday, shortly after regaining the overall lead with a tight victory in the time trial after Colombian Rigoberto Uran and Italian Filippo Ganna were also ruled out with the virus. ‘We relaxed our attention too soon,’ Vegni told Italian sports daily La Gazetta dello Sport on the Giro’s first rest day.” • Oh.


Social determinants of masking:

Testing and Tracking


“How much COVID is in my community? It’s getting harder to tell” [Los Angeles Time]. “On Thursday, the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker ended reporting of aggregate cases and removed test positivity data. The old tracker listed weekly COVID-19 deaths; the new version reports on the percentage of COVID-associated deaths among all reported deaths, based on provisional death certificate data, to indicate the COVID death trend. The tracker’s lead data point was the number of people newly admitted to the hospital with a lab-confirmed coronavirus infection over the prior week…. While coronavirus-positive hospitalization metrics are vital in illustrating what, if any, pressure COVID-19 is exerting on hospitals, some experts note they provide only a limited look at transmission.” Dr. Mario Ramirez, an emergency medicine physician and managing director at Opportunity Labs, a nonprofit research and consulting firm: “And so what I worry about is that by the time that data makes its way back, it’s usually two, three, four weeks old — particularly because hospitalization is a lagging indicator and certainly death is, as well. We will be several weeks behind an increase in cases if that’s what’s happening.” • So “personal risk assessment” was a giant rug-pull, wasn’t it?


“The government giving up on COVID protections means throwing immunocompromised people to the wolves” [Salon]. “The medical model focuses on preventing and treating individual conditions in individual bodies, rather than correcting systemic factors that affect people at the community level. It’s a reductive approach that ignores the social determinants and forms of discrimination that shape health outcomes. It’s concerned with correcting deviations from a normal defined by the absence of disease and disability…. The Biden administration has employed the medical model’s good health, good morals paradigm to rationalize abandoning vulnerable Americans to disability and death from COVID-19. Biden’s policies are designed to get everyone back to work, but they also appeal to well and non-disabled people’s fear of a medicalized “abnormal”. According to Biden and the CDC, people who have bad health outcomes from COVID-19 have made bad individual choices- they are unvaccinated , politically undesirable, or have “comorbidities.” The problem with this narrative is that individual good fortune is not necessarily the result of good behavior. Individualism — even when it’s billed as morality — cannot protect people from an airborne, ever-mutating virus. This can only be done through public health policy that protects the collective, with the needs of its most vulnerable as its foundation…. [The erasure of sick and disabled people from the public sphere] in turn normalizes the continued abuses of sick and disabled people. We are ignored by public health policy and denied critical care, but our suffering is unseen, confined to private homes and medical-industrial complex “care” facilities. Keeping our unnecessary deaths out of sight and out of mind is an American tradition. In fact, it is the foundation of eugenics in the United States.” • Well worth a read.

“The covid public health emergency is ending: it now joins the ordinary emergency that is American health” [BMJ]. “It’s worth noting that during covid, the US also accessed our better selves. The country made sweeping changes to daily life to prevent the collapse of the healthcare system. Free covid testing, vaccines, and treatment made healthcare affordable and accessible, even if only narrowly and temporarily. The uninsurance rate in the US fell to a historic low of 8%, thanks to the expansion of Medicaid enrollment. Policymakers transformed the country’s tattered, piecemeal social safety net into a system of robust social protections. These experiences might have inspired Americans to think differently for the future. We could embrace a ‘new normal’ that includes Medicaid expansion and paid leave—recognising that these policies are essential not only for managing covid-19 but also for improving health more broadly. We could shore up our safety net hospitals and make bold investments in growing the health workforce in rural and underserved communities. We could make permanent pandemic innovations such as expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, the Child Tax Credit, and eviction prevention programs that protected Americans’ health and our economy. We could invest in the kinds of infrastructure that would make our schools, workplaces, and public spaces safer now, as well as better prepared for future pandemics. If the end of the public health emergency does not feel as full of celebratory closure as it should, it may be because many of our ’emergency’ responses felt like simple decency: covid called for a society that safeguards health. But the starting point should be to cure the country’s larger affliction—its ethos of giving up.”

“Now More Than Ever, We Need to Fight, Not Despair” [Gregg Gonsalves, The Nation]. “If we give in to despair, we allow the people in power, the ones who want us dispirited and defeated, to declare victory—and at that point, whatever chance we have of creating a better world is snuffed out. That is surrender…. You see, our leaders gave up a long time ago. The incentives in American political life are too strong for them to really give a damn. They’ve got other, more important, things on their minds…. Astra Taylor, at the end of her book Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, suggests that instead of embracing the cruel optimism of a better world waiting at the end of the road, we’ve got to realize that democracy is always in the making, and that it is not a ‘predictable or stable enterprise.’ She suggests, ‘instead of founding fathers let us be perennial midwives, helping always to deliver democracy anew.’ Speak. Organize. Fight. This is so much better than despair.” • Keep some masks to hand out, as some NC readers do.

Elite Maleficence

Yet another superspreading event, this time at the American Association of Immunologists. The PMC are so, so committed to the bit:

Apparently, whoever organized the “Gala” at Immunology2023 — sums it up, doesn’t it — didn’t read AAI’s policy:

What they cannot say: “Covid is airborne.” Since that gives an obvious rationale for masking, and no other rationale is given, it’s no wonder nobody paid attention.

More Covid hypoxia damaging higher brain function?

An M.D. shares his views:

From the Juvenescemce Medical Spa: “[MASON TODD TREBONY, M.D. FAAC] currently teaches and trains other medical practitioners in the practice of medicine and aesthetics, including: Botox and Dermal Filler training, PRP (Platelet-rich Plasma) training, weight loss, sclerotherapy, and facial aesthetics. Dr. Trebony enjoys life as a singer-songwriter, worship leader, UGA Bulldogs fan and alumnus, husband, and father of two beautiful daughters.” • Nice guy!

Harsh, but fair:

* * *

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson).

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data from May 15:

Lambert here: Unless the United States is completely, er, exceptional, we should be seeing an increase here soon. UPDATE Still on the high plateau. Are we are the point in the global pandemic where national experiences really diverge?

For now, I’m going to use this national wastewater data as the best proxy for case data (ignoring the clinical case data portion of this chart, which in my view “goes bad” after March 2022, for reasons as yet unexplained). At least we can spot trends, and compare current levels to equivalent past levels.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, May 13, 2023:

Lambert here: Looks like XBB.1.16 is rolling right along. Though XBB 1.9.1 is in the race as well.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, from May 6:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


From Walgreens, May 15:

Up 1%. Frequency down to once a week?


NOT UPDATED Death rate (Our World in Data), from May 7:

Lambert here: So this data feed, er, came alive again.

Total: 1,163,026 – 1,162,701 = 325 (325 * 365 = 118,625 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ 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).

Lambert here: Still low.

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED Excess deaths (The Economist), published May 9:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Industrial Production” [Trading Economics]. “Industrial production in the United States increased 0.2% year-on-year in April of 2023, following a downwardly revised 0.1% rise in March. The mining sector surged 5.6% while a decline was seen for manufacturing (-0.9%) and utilities (-0.4%).”

Capacity: “United States Capacity Utilization” [Trading Economics]. “Capacity utilization rate in the United States increased to a five-month high of 79.7% in April of 2023 from 79.4% in March, matching market forecasts.”

* * *

Insurance: “Living longer, healthier lives” [Swiss Re]. Coming soon: Swiss Re Institute’s publication “The Future of Life Expectancy – Forecasting Long-Term Mortality Improvement Trends for Insurance”• Well, that should be interesting. Readers, will any of you who follow the insurance industry alert us when this comes out? I don’t want to miss it. Thank you!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 59 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 16 at 1:36 PM ET.

Class Warfare

“American worker productivity is declining at the fastest rate in 75 years—and it could see CEOs go to war against WFH” [Fortune]. “The U.S. has now had five consecutive quarters of year-over-year declines in productivity, according to research from EY-Parthenon, using data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That has never happened before, in data going back to 1948…. CEOs such as JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff have argued that in-person workers are simply doing more work, better than their remote colleagues. Dimon says long-term remote work just doesn’t work for most employees; while Benioff says workers in the office consistently perform better. Both the bank and the tech giant have waffled on return-to-office mandates, but both have yielded to a hybrid plan—at least for now. Daco, however, highlighted another factor, which he says economists often underestimate, is that, over the past 18 months, the churn of labor has been ‘tremendous.’ He points to recent BLS and JOLTS reports, which have found that the number of job openings, hire rates and quit rates have all reached record highs. ‘That tells you it’s been very difficult for employers to, essentially, train their employees and bring them up to par with the productivity levels that would have been deemed normal pre-pandemic,” he says. When the pandemic hit, it brought a combination of early retirement, a mass exit from the workforce, and an avalanche of job-switchers, a phenomenon alternately called ‘the great resignation’ and ‘the labor shortage.’ Taken together, it created a dearth of productivity.” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

“Widely used chemical strongly linked to Parkinson’s disease” [Science]. “A groundbreaking epidemiological study has produced the most compelling evidence yet that exposure to the chemical solvent trichloroethylene (TCE)—common in soil and groundwater—increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The movement disorder afflicts about 1 million Americans, and is likely the fastest growing neurodegenerative disease in the world; its global prevalence has doubled in the past 25 years. The report, published today in JAMA Neurology, involved examining the medical records of tens of thousands of Marine Corps and Navy veterans who trained at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from 1975 to 1985. Those exposed there to water heavily contaminated with TCE had a 70% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease decades later compared with similar veterans who trained elsewhere. The Camp Lejeune contingent also had higher rates of symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and loss of smell that are early harbingers of Parkinson’s, which causes tremors; problems with moving, speaking, and balance; and in many cases dementia. Swallowing difficulties often lead to death from pneumonia.”

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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 doug:

doug writes: “Sumac in snow.

You asked what we were digging in the garden. We have Daikon radish, Danvers half Long carrots, and Music garlic. All were planted in the fall. We recently asked two neighbor sisters (4 and 6) to come pull a carrot and radish out of the ground. We have done this several times with different children and it is always fun.

It was fun. The next day we heard the bunny at the girls’ school got the carrots and the children learned to their surprise, the bunny ate the greens first. Then this weekend we see their Mom, buying carrots at the farmers market. So that bunny has had a diet upgrade, which I am glad to have had a small hand in.”

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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. Jason Boxman

    “The fact is, in this instance, Donald Trump was correct when he said he was the target of a political hitjob funded by the Clinton campaign and maintained by virtually every media outlet. There is a word for that: disinformation.”

    If you look at our overseas operations in support of spreading freedom to the world and compare what’s done abroad to what liberal Democrats, the intelligence services, and the media did to the Trump presidency, you might even go so far as to say this was an attempt to foment a coup. If Republicans had been able to achieve a similar feat, you’d have liberal Democrats freaking out daily about how well armed conservatives are, and that Republicans were trying to spark a civil war. Lucky for us, liberal Democrats don’t seem to be particularly as well armed or considered to be so violence-adjacent. So instead all this amounted to was the Women’s March, and multiple failed impeachment attempts. (And the long term fusion of the intelligence services, the media, and liberal Democrats into a kind of cult that thinks only it can save and protect “our Democracy”.)

    1. some guy

      Liberal Democrats are schizoid. They complain about how well armed conservatives are but they won’t arm themselves equally well.

      They are also very stupid. They think they will get “their” government to violently and forcibly disarm the well armed conservatives. If they push that agenda far enough and hard enough, their dreams of Total Gun Control will die in a hail of bullets.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Trouble here is that this Get Trump campaign had the effect of making a radical change in foreign policy and put the US on a direct collision course with Russia. Trump couldn’t even meet with Putin without the media screaming treason which has never happened before. And because of this Democrat-manufactured Russiadidit campaign, it made the present war in the Ukraine possible with all its deaths and destruction. I hope that they are proud of themselves. Come to think of it, they probably are.

      1. bdy

        Russiagate was always as much about painting Putin with Trump as painting Trump with Putin.

      2. notabanker

        Clinton was going to pick this fight in Syria. Trump delayed their plans by 4 years.

        1. John k

          Before 2016 Clinton said ‘we have to confront Russia’. She and her aids were deeply involved preparing Ukraine for war with Russia, at least since 2008 when she became sec state.

  2. jo6pac

    the productivity level

    Is going down like the rate of pay. Why would anyone work their hardest for minimum wage? This would work for me

    1. Penelope

      Why would anyone raise their local taxes voluntarily when local governments won’t hire your children following some equity principles? Building permits? Forget it!

    2. griffen

      Work faster and smarter, peasants. For I am your CEO and your economic Redeemer, it is I that provides meaning to life and provides sustenance for thy table! \sarc

      Then there is the Office Space analogue for comparison. I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing work, Bob.

      1. Milton

        I’d say in a given week, I probably only do about 15 minutes of real, actual work.

    3. LawnDart

      We may have reached the point where even pretending to care is asking for too much.

    4. Robert Hahl

      I think the term declining productivity level is being used here as a euphemism for declining competence. If experienced workers cannot be retained then institutional memory is being lost. Soon nobody knows what they are supposed to be doing, least of all those young ivy league managers.

    5. Objective Ace

      Much of the article focused on the finance sector. I’d love to know how productivity in finance is measured. If it’s good for Jamie Diamond it’s a net negative for productivity of the economy as a whole

    6. Kurtismayfield

      Productivity increases have been just how much work the boss could push you to do. Now the worker is saying “push me more and I am gone.”, So there goes productivity!

    7. The Rev Kev

      Hard to push a workforce that is getting sicker and sicker as a whole. Good thing that management never goes near productions sites as all that constant coughing would quite annoy them.

    8. rowlf

      It would be a damn shame if productivity tracked real compensation again after 40 years. /s

    9. jsn

      Causes of decline in productivity:
      1. people who actually do things are increasingly disabled by COVID, or dead, exterminating skills with them
      2. computer and software “upgrades” are optimized for vendor profitability and are interfering with productivity growth by disrupting increasingly complex work flows
      3. higher education optimized for the experience of personal identity is anathema collective efforts of any kind, business included
      4. real wages continue to decline breaking an increasing number of fragile economic interdependencies
      5. complexity in general is reaching its point of diminishing returns

        1. JBird4049

          #3 might be better thought of as teaching memorization of stuff in college much like in high school. Actually, it is more than just just that and the minefield of Identity Politics has something to do with that. I remember people being a little more open to disagreements and discussions as long as people behave thirty years ago.

          Maybe, it is an increase in anxiety or fear. Nothing overwhelming, but much like how the police stations, courthouses, government offices, and airports are all increasingly fortified with the same buildings buildings becoming more foreboding and blocked off from the outside. While it really took off after 9/11, it has nothing to do with actual violence. I mean some of these buildings were around during the 1960s and 70s when there was some actual dangers. Today, in the Bay Area, not so much, but people act like they are living in a much dangerous times than the riots of fifty years that destroyed the centers of multiple cities.

          This is really noticeable after thirty years, but I think I noticed a change about five years ago. It is hard to tell just from taking a few classes during a semester, but the subsurface creepiness becomes more noticeable with time; it has also increased in strength. Again, I am not exactly clear what are the causes, as I think it is more than one.

          Regardless of the reasons, college and my old high school is nothing like that of decades ago with people playing, studying, or talking outside whenever there is sunshine especially after a hard winter. The high school reminds me of a dreary low security prison because of the staff’s attitude and the boarded up windows. And I rarely see anyone at the college unless it is during class changes.

          There is the decrease in comfortable spaces. The largish rooms with the clubs and associations, festooned with students, some teachers, and even some employees on break no longer exist. What does exist is ignored.

          Really, it feels like some of those descriptions of the emotional life in authoritarian and totalitarian countries. Yes, my second degree is a rather different experience.

          Whatever the reasons, this can’t be good for learning or understanding how to learn, discuss, and think, hopefully without fear, which is the most important thing that any decent college or even high school teach. There are still very good teachers, but their efforts are being overwhelmed by the larger society’s dysfunctions.

        2. jsn

          Regarding 2, I read this when it came out and it got me thinking about all the platforms my business rests on and the perpetual upgrade cycle.

          1. jsn

            Sorry, sloppy link. This is the key part:
            “He writes:

            I went online and started asking everyone I know in audio engineering how to deal with this situation. To my surprise, the advice I got back was nearly unanimous: unplug. Stop updating. Revert to the stable system you had before. And take everything offline so this doesn’t happen again.

            It seemed a clever solution to my small-scale, personal studio problem. But I was taken aback when some of the professionals who offered this advice said it is what they do, too. Even with their very extensive skillsets. Could it be that some of the most sophisticated audio technicians I know—mastering engineers in particular, those tasked in our industry with maintaining and constantly improving audio standards—choose to ignore innovation for the sake of stability?

            I’ve written several times about this ominous shift in technology—where ‘innovations’ increasingly punish users rather than empower them. But, as this article suggests, some users have started to take extreme measures in fighting back. Few pundits talk about it (so far), but this may be one of the key tech trends of the year.”

  3. LawnDart

    It seems like Biden can keep a train of thought for longer than they can keep actual trains on the tracks…

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    For second straight day, train derails in Houston area

    A train came off its tracks Tuesday in Seabrook, just a day a different train went off its tracks in Dacus, Texas.



    CSX train loses wheels, 18 cars derail in Wayne County

    MILTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) — A CSX train derailment is under investigation in Wayne County.


  4. petal

    Here is the AAI 2023 (Washington DC-oh, the irony) speakers program
    May 12th 7-8p was …Anthony Fauci, speaking about “Pandemic Preparedness and Response: Lessons from Covid-19”.
    There was also a talk about “Giving an effective media interview”.
    There is a page for the conference covid policy. It starts off with vaccination. Am I surprised at the policy or behaviour seen in the video? Nope. Been like that for a while now, even amongst our own dept.
    My old boss received a lifetime achievement award at this shindig.
    I see some familiar names, and former and current colleagues, in the speaker program list but I guess I am getting old because there aren’t as many as there used to be. I see 4 or 5 people I know or lab collaborators on the AAI council.

  5. some guy

    There should be an organized covid-realist movement to challenge and hopefully get-cancelled the license of this Mr. Todd Trebony and other Typhoid Mary plague spreaders like him.

      1. some guy

        Maybe if he were de-licensed, he might find it harder to cash in.

        Or maybe some infectious covijihadis can figure out how to get close to him and cough and breathe heavily.

  6. chris

    I thought this headline in my feed was interesting:

    Biden-Harris Administration Proposes Reforms to New Chemical Review Process to Protect Public Health, Promote Efficiency and Consistency

    Especially because the press release discussing this headline does not mention VP Harris and uses “Biden Administration” in the text. I get the EPA and chemical updates regularly as part of my job. This is the first time I remember seeing “Harris” in the headline. I’m going to see if I saved any from earlier because I don’t think I ever saw headlines with “Obama-Biden” like this in EPA press releases.

    Anyone else seeing things like this in the wild? Or is my memory for such things going bad?

    1. chris

      I answered my own question kind of. Apparently the press releases started having this kind of double billing in mid 2021 but they haven’t been consistent. It doesn’t seem like I ever received a press release or headline from the “Obama-Biden” or “Trump-Pence” administrations. So perhaps my memory isn’t horrible after all. Would still be interested if others had seen this kind of thing in other places.

    2. notabanker

      With AI under her belt, the new chemical review process should be a breeze. How hard is it to round up some CEO’s and tell them they have a moral obligation to do the right thing?

  7. petal

    It’s the end of the line for J&J’s COVID shot in the US, CDC says

    Snip:”J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine is “no longer available in the U.S.,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday. The last remaining doses in the U.S. stockpile expired May 7, 2023, with the CDC now giving instructions to “[d]ispose of any remaining Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with local, state and federal regulations.”

    For U.S. adults who received J&J’s shot—either at one or two doses—a follow-up bivalent mRNA dose, either from Moderna or Pfizer and BioNTech, is recommended “at least 2 months after completion of the previous dose,” the CDC said.”

    1. Arizona Slim

      Good riddance to bad rubbish.

      Reason for my saying this: One of my best friends was injured by that shot. She figured that the “one and done” route would be best, and what a disaster that turned out to be.

      Right after she got the shot, she started hallucinating and she had trouble using her legs. She also had tinnitus for a while. Nearly two years later, her legs still don’t work properly.

      Oh, she got COVID anyway. Happened a few weeks after she got that one shot, and she said that the after effects of the shot were much worse.

    2. rowlf

      Are there any suggestions for mitigating the side effects of the J&J vaccine? A bunch of us at work were skeptical of the mRNA vaccines suddenly being ok for use after years of never crossing the FDA finish line so we all got vaccinated with J&J. One coworker said it was like having Lyme disease all over again.

    3. Rainlover

      I got the J&J the first time, then was boosted with Novavax this past November. The only side effect I had with J&J was fatigue and a slight headache. But then I’m almost 75 and an immune-compromised cancer patient. Not exactly a good comparison to most healthy people with immune systems.

      I was suspicious that TPTB were trying to deep-six both of these shots. But Novavax is available; you just have to search for it. Here’s an article updated in October 2022 that contains info about its effectiveness.

        1. Jorge

          It is available under weird CDC guidelines, and I failed to get it a Kaiser this week. My only option is to print out the guidelines and drive 30 miles again, or drive 15 miles and lie to a drugstore pharmacist that I am immunocompromised.

          Yes, an aggravating development. Novavax has a XBB-oriented shot on the way, it may yet see the light of day. Also they only made money once in 35 years, and their stock is plummeting. (The $NVAX chart for the past few years is breathtaking. Worse than a regional bank!)

  8. JBird4049

    I have decided that the Good People of the Professional Managerial Class are doing self eugenics. To be sufficiently highbrow I should add some Latin word for “self,” but I forgotten all my Latin. :-)

    The people in past were more honest, more brutal about removing the “surplus population,” or euthanizing and sterilizing “defective individuals.” Disturbingly, I think I find the honesty of the former refreshing after reading the latter’s slick packaging of eugenics.

      1. John

        I propose euthanizing euphemisms for eugenics. If you have to lard what you are doing with convoluted language, you know you ought not be doing it. See it. Say it. Be direct.

  9. The Rev Kev

    That tweet about that dance rave was an interesting one-

    ‘Barry Hunt – #DavosSafe
    Something really strange is going on. I’ve gone to hundreds of medical conferences over the past 30 years. We didn’t have goofy superspreader dance raves.
    Why now?’

    Now that is the kicker. And people in comments know that those attendees will be going back to hospitals to visit their immunocompromised patients. That is willful negligence but at least they will be smiling.

    1. Daryl

      idk why we’re even hearing this guy about now, he’s irrelevant. Repubs have the House so they can be the villains that prevent the otherwise totally willing Dems from doing good stuff. Good luck to him with whatever wankery he’s attempting now.

      1. Pat

        I’m hoping that we are hearing about Manchin now so that he can crash and burn at Presidential politics. Think Biden before Obama and the night of the long knives or Fred Thompson who couldn’t even use a run on Law and Order to get the primary voting public to give him the time of day. Maybe he could be the new Kamala, someone who can’t even get his home state to vote for him only without the power factions to hold him up. I can imagine even SC rejecting him. Joe could waste time and money only to be a has been with a debt ridden campaign by the end of February.

        If we still had a functioning press and criminal investigation agency I would be hoping for a full expose of his and his family’s corruption leading to arrests and incarceration. Sadly the Biden issues show that even when handed a smoking gun, the press will get in the way of the story. And the people who are entrusted to investigate and prosecute will actively bury it. So not even at my most fantasist level would I do that now.

        1. John

          Manchin is the sole member of the Manchin party. He looks after its welfare. The other 99 senators can look after their parties and their welfare. He has always appeared to me to be one of the most blatantly self-serving of all the congress critters.

    1. griffen

      That’s truly Keystone Kops territory. I begin to think I’m overly cynical, these columns serve as proof I’m still not quite cynical enough. All this confab emanated from a weak, thin dossier and clap trap conversation at a London bar.

      1. John

        In the end it was an incompetent attempt to interfere in the election for the benefit of a Democratic candidate who mistook campaigning for a grand tour before the coronation. Always looked that way to me.

  10. Willow

    Productivity is dropping due to increased sick days from Covid, long Covid and mRNA vaccine complications not from working from home. If anything WFH increases productivity. Inability to manage WFH is a manager competency problem nor a worker problem.

  11. chris

    Submitting this to the COVID brain trust. I was working at a lab today with a group of engineers from various companies and one of them mentioned this article, which others at the lab nodded to as correct when discussed. The primary subject of the article are claims that masking increases CO2 levels in women which are correlated with increases in stillbirth and miscarriage.

    I questioned this person’s summary because it didn’t make sense to me. Most of the population studies are showing that people don’t wear masks correctly and that they’re too loose. A paper claiming that they were being worn tight enough to allow pregnant women to build up higher concentrations of CO2 seemed like BS. There is work showing that pregnant women wearing N95 masks may require some accommodations. But that study does not go on to claim any negative effects on the woman or the fetus from mask wearing.

    IAQ is a tricky thing. COVID is pushing us to actually throw down real standards for it. I don’t have the background to discuss any biological effects or complications from excess CO2 exposure. I can’t imagine this is a study that people could actually perform because of IRB and ethics concerns. And these claims are an even trickier form of IAQ for the baby.

    I know there are various articles posted by Yves and Lambert discussing the benefits of better air and lower CO2 concentrations. I know ASHRAE is on board with that. The German article strikes me as the “let’er rip” crowd trying to launder dubious opinions through an academic wash. Kind of like the Brookings Institute economists who miraculously claimed to have public health expertise from Brown and just happened to design a meta study that showed lockdowns didn’t do anything to prevent the spread of COVID by using criteria that eliminated all the countries where they did work. (Which also showed that masking worked, but, strangely no one talked about that result at the time…)

    Anyway, I had no idea this kind of research was available. I expect it to be shared in anti-masking circles as another reason we should kill masks and embrace the virus :/

    1. Yves Smith

      Frankly I do not buy this application of CO2 levels. What matters is blood ox. There are studies that look at blood ox levels with masking and see no impact (although there may be a perceived impact with asthmatics and others with respiratory issues, but that seems to be more subjective than actual). I have tested my blood ox with masking (and I train hard) and see no impact, and similarly see no difference in performance when working out at the gym masked v. working out at home unmasked.

      This article indirectly confirms that high CO2 levels should show up in lower blood ox.

      You would expect ORs to monitor blood CO2 in addition to blood ox if this were an issue. I don’t believe this is done.

      1. Paradan

        Also I’d like to point out that the sensation of running out of air when you hold your breath is driven by blood CO2 levels building up and not O2 running down, so if masks were somehow causing an issue it would feel worse then just a little stuffy. People have been wearing these masks for hours at a time for decades now, and it was never an issue. TAC had an article about this yesterday, it made me swear out loud.

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