2:00PM Water Cooler 7/28/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Freckled Nightjar, Omaruru; at railroad crossing just before Paula’s Cave, Namibia. “These birds sit in and on rocks near riverbeds. There was rain here during the night.”

* * *


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


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

Asking for my vote again:

“Trump and DeSantis to face off at Iowa’s famed Lincoln Day Dinner” [Washington Examiner]. “Iowa caucusgoers are about to be provided with their first side-by-side comparison of former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) as each candidate contends with a pivotal moment in their respective 2024 primary campaigns. The Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner is a critical opportunity for candidates to pitch themselves to the state’s caucusgoers, activists, and officials, according to University of Iowa politics professor Timothy Hagle. ‘What makes the RPI’s Lincoln Dinner a bigger deal is that it’s the state party putting it on, and those attending will be from across the state,’ Hagle told the Washington Examiner. ‘The event will draw many elected officials, as well as members of the county Republican organizations and other activists. That means it’s a very good place for candidates — and their staffs — to schmooze with the people that will be attending the caucuses, but also those who can influence others.’ That “influence” can include encouraging others to caucus for a candidate, but it can additionally encompass finding precinct representatives for the candidate or volunteers willing to door knock and phone call on their behalf, per Hagle.”

Meanwhile, a very long tweet on Jack Smith (hagiography here, here, and here):

All of dear Hunter’s Burisma dealings happened when Smith was head of Justice’s Public Integrity division….

* * *

“The Mysterious Dark Money Group Connecting Trump, Christie, and DeSantis” [Daily Beast]. “Peck, a widely respected Republican strategist who prefers to operate in the wings, is DeSantis’ 2024 campaign manager, having quietly steered him to victory in 2022. But before she took the top job, she helmed a battery of low-profile conservative advocacy groups—where the funding is largely untraceable and the spending is exceedingly difficult to unravel, often by design. Peck’s present, however, is distinctly different from her past. A presidential operation tasked with taking down the most powerful force in the Republican Party has to reckon with far more public scrutiny than Peck has dealt with previously. And the transparency demanded of federal campaigns is entirely different from the occult financials of the comparatively obscure dark money groups and consulting firms where she cut her political teeth. Peck’s approach, and the complications she faces today, are captured in the story of one of those groups—a dark money nonprofit that Chris Christie started to support then-President Trump, but which in hindsight looks more like an incubator for a future DeSantis presidency. But after Trump was acquitted and Christie was gone, the group assumed what seems like its true purpose all along: a nozzle to spray anonymous cash to a broad range of conservative groups, issues, and politicians. RDA’s filings don’t appear in IRS searches, nor in any other public database that compiles those records. The Daily Beast previously obtained the group’s 2020 filing, which shows it doled out $700,000 in grants. Those funds went to two other secretive entities, both of which, like RDA, are classified as 501(c)(4) ‘dark money’ groups—and both of which are directly tied to Peck. When one of those groups, ‘Building a Better America,’ emptied its coffers in 2021—the year Peck moved to Tallahassee to take over DeSantis’ 2022 campaign—the group poured almost all of its bank account into reforming a federal environmental policy of deep interest to DeSantis: a Florida mining project.”

“Biden Allies Now Want to Run Against ‘Collapsing’ DeSantis Over Trump” [Rolling Stone]. “Some of Biden’s closest confidants have in recent weeks told the president that DeSantis has performed so poorly in the primary, that the governor would likely be notably weaker than the twice-indicted Trump in a match-up against Biden, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. Biden has at times agreed with this premise in private conversations. It wasn’t always this way. As recently as late last year, there was a widespread feeling among Team Biden and prominent Democrats that the governor was the more formidable candidate than the twice-impeached former president. But the more they’ve seen of DeSantis running a presidential campaign, the less concerned they’ve become about whether he can be beaten.”

“DeSantis’ tourism district wants to cut $8 million for extra Disney deputies” [Orlando Sentinel]. “But district officials call the program ‘wasteful’ spending and say Disney should pay for its own private security, rather than relying on public dollars. Bay Lake’s proposed budget includes $7.4 million for off-duty deputies, while Lake Buena Vista has $2 million in its spending plan. With a combined population of only 53 residents, those cities are part of a unique government framework for Disney World. Disney hand-picks the residents of the cities, allowing the corporation to control the city councils.” • DeSantis could have been running against Disney, the corporation, because Disney’s deal with the state of Florida is absurd. But no, he had to tangle that up with “woke.”

“Florida’s Black history standards are even worse than reported” [Michael Harriot, the Grio]. “Not only are non-white taxpayers funding a disproportionately white version of history, but they are paying to whitewash their own. Meanwhile, white Floridians who want to learn more about their history and culture can take an Advanced Placement course in European History, German Language and Culture, French Language and Culture, Italian Language and Culture or United States History. Even those not necessarily interested in white history can enroll in the AP Chinese Language and Culture, Spanish Language and Culture, Spanish Literature and Culture, and Japanese Language and Culture. AP African American Studies is banned in Florida, partly because it makes white people uncomfortable. Florida’s STOP WOKE Act prohibits classroom instruction that makes white people ‘feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress, because of actions, in which the individual played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race.'”

“VP Kamala Harris backed national high school course about slaves’ ‘skills’ before Florida controversy” [NY Post]. “Vice President Kamala Harris once praised a college-level class about slavery taught in high schools across the nation — even though it’s nearly identical to the Florida lesson she recently blasted as replacing ‘history with lies.’ The College Board’s 2023 AP African American Studies course includes a lesson about slaves learning ‘specialized trades’ that they used ‘to provide for themselves’ once freed — recognized by Harris earlier this year as part of ‘American history.'”

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“Will the real Ramaswamy please stand up, please stand up” [Politico]. “During his time as an undergrad at Harvard, Ramaswamy had a side-hustle as a libertarian-minded rap artist who went by the stage name ‘Da Vek.’ The gig was an early sign of the extroverted, self-assured personality that has propelled him far further in the primary than virtually anyone expected. It makes him only the second known presidential candidate in a Republican party to have ever willingly embraced Eminem (after Marco Rubio). ‘I saw myself, honestly, making it big through American capitalism, and that’s why the Eminem story spoke to me,’ Ramaswamy, now 37 years old, said in an interview. A friend, who watched him rap at some point in his twenties, provided footage of it…. For Ramaswamy, the dabbling in rap was an early indication of the kind of presidential candidate he would be — one who is experimental, outgoing and most comfortable in the spotlight. Since launching his campaign earlier this year, Ramaswamy has been an omnipresent figure, demonstrating an eagerness to appear on a wide and diverse range of media platforms, from podcasts to Twitter Spaces.” • Meanwhile, a reader in NH reports: “Both of Vivek Whatshisname’s campaign signs are still there. Hard to see amongst the 3′ tall unmowed greens, but they’re there.” I would have expected them to be torn down.

* * *

“White House Backtracks on Hunter’s Business Deals” [CNN]. “Biden told Fox News on the campaign trail in September 2020, ‘I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,’ a categorical denial he later repeated the next month in a radio interview with WBZ Boston when he said, ‘I don’t discuss business with my son.’ But the verbiage shifted in June when Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House counsel’s office, told the Washington Examiner, ‘As we have said many times before, the president was not in business with his son.’ On Tuesday, the White House press secretary repeated that line. Asked by RealClearPolitics at the daily White House briefing Wednesday why the language had shifted and if both statements were simultaneously true, Karine Jean-Pierre replied, ‘Nothing has changed on this. You could ask me a million different ways on this question. Nothing has changed.'”

Biden “frail”:

“Frail Joe Biden FORCED to Use ‘Lower Stairs’ on Air Force One to Avoid More Embarrassing Tripping Incidents” [OK! Magazine]. “Biden is using “lower stairs” on Air Force One to avoid tripping incidents, such as the one that took place days prior amid his return from a press conference in Helsinki, Finland. Two of Biden’s advisors ‘privately acknowledged an intentional shift to steer the 80-year-old president to the lower stairs more often to make his travel easier and limit the possibility for missteps,’ it was reported. Another reported part of the plan was a change in his footwear, as he was notably wearing sneakers as opposed to dress shoes recently. ‘The sneakers are another concession to comfort necessitated by age,’ according to the report. ‘One person close to the president said Biden used to always resist wearing anything other than dress shoes, believing that any other footwear look was unpresidential. But he has eased up on that stance in recent months.'”

* * *

Biden denies RFK Secret Service protection:

Why, it’s almost as if Biden were petty-minded and vindictive….

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Cornel West:

* * *

The No Labels Scheme: Not Just Dangerous But Undemocratic” [Al From (!!), The Bulwark]. “[I]t is also worth noting more generally what the No Labels scheme would mean for our democratic system: It would roll the clock back on a half century of reforms by both major parties to democratize the way we select presidential candidates, to make the process more transparent, and to create new pathways for insurgent candidates to pursue the highest office in our land—all goals No Labels claims to support. Unlike the two major parties, No Labels plans no primaries or caucuses that allow tens of millions of Americans to participate in choosing their nominee. The organization remains curiously vague about its nominating process, saying only that it will hold a convention in Dallas next spring. A small private convention, funded by secret money, with self-selected delegates, as No Labels proposes, is not a step toward more democracy and transparency.” • Dude. Remember how Obama selected Biden in 2020? Anyhow, the No Labels process is exactly what the DNC would revert to, if the outcome of balloting is not to their liking; see If You Want to Know What the Democratic Party Is, Just Ask Their Lawyer.

“A Four-Way Race? The 2024 Presidential Contest is Anything But Settled” [Politico]. “We are underestimating how turbulent next year’s campaign will be and how likely, on the current trajectory, it is to become a three or even four-person race. If voters are faced with a nearly 82-year-old incumbent who may not be able to serve a full second term and a 78-year-old challenger who could be a felon by election day, millions will seek a safe harbor… The possibility of Cornel West, tapping into the youthful discontent with the president, claiming votes from Biden’s left and a moderate, third-party candidate offering an escape hatch for voters who grudgingly supported Biden in 2020 is already panicking senior Democrats. But these officials have taken solace that, despite Biden’s weak approval ratings, no elected Democrat has emerged to challenge the president in the primary… Yet even that may no longer be a sure thing. U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Minnesota moderate, has been receiving inquiries about his willingness to challenge Biden and is going to New York City next week to meet with Democratic donors about such a race, I’m told. Phillips, who’s in his third term representing suburban Minneapolis, has drawn attention from contributors by both denouncing the ‘No Labels’ attempt to field a third-party ticket and calling for a contested Democratic primary next year. A former executive, he’s also the sort of pro-business social moderate with private sector experience who corporate leaders usually pine for in a presidential candidate.” • A “centrist dipshit“?

“The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2024” [CNN]. Manchin, Tester, Sherrod Brown, Sinema, Jacky Rosen, Tammy Baldwin, Bob Casey, Debbie Stabenow, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott.

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Citizens’ Assemblies Are Upgrading Democracy: Fair Algorithms Are Part of the Program” [Scientific American]. “The Irish Parliament convened a citizens’ assembly, whose 99 members were chosen at random. The selection process ensured that the group’s composition represented the Irish population along dimensions such as age, gender and geography. Over several months in 2016 and 2017, the assembly heard expert opinions and held extensive discussions regarding the legalization of abortion. Its recommendation, supported by a significant majority of members, was to allow abortions in all circumstances, subject to limits on the length of pregnancy. These conclusions set the stage for a 2018 referendum in which 66 percent of Ireland’s voters chose to repeal the Eighth Amendment, enabling abortion to be legalized. Such an outcome had been almost inconceivable a few years earlier. The Irish citizens’ assembly is just one example of a widespread phenomenon. In recent years hundreds of such groups have convened around the world, their members randomly selected from the concerned population and given time and information to aid their deliberations. Citizens’ assemblies in France, Germany, the U.K., Washington State and elsewhere have charted pathways for reducing carbon emissions. An assembly in Canada sought methods of mitigating hate speech and fake news; another in Australia recommended ethical approaches to human genome editing; and yet another in Oregon identified policies for COVID pandemic recovery. Taken together, these assemblies have demonstrated an impressive capacity to uncover the will of the people and build consensus. The effectiveness of citizens’ assemblies isn’t surprising.”

* * *

“Dianne Feinstein misstep in key Senate committee raises more questions on lawmakers’ ages” [Sacramento Bee]. “For at least the second time in a week, Democratic colleagues had to prod Sen. Dianne Feinstein on how to vote in a committee meeting, once again raising questions about her fitness for office and whether elected officials should be subject to an age limit. In Thursday during a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the California Democrat failed to cast a vote until directed by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, the committee chair. Feinstein, 90, didn’t initially respond when prompted to say ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ regarding a defense spending bill. ‘Say aye,’ Murray, the committee’s chairwoman, encouraged three times. Feinstein started to read from prepared remarks before an aide whispered to stop her. Another back-and-forth between Murray and Feinstein ensued, with the California Democrat seemingly questioning what to do. Feinstein then sat back and said, ‘aye.'”

“Mitch McConnell’s abrupt episode has an important public health takeaway” [STAT]. “The handling of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s abrupt medical issue this week is raising concerns among medical experts that the event sent a potentially dangerous public-health message — that when someone experiences an episode with symptoms like McConnell’s, they can simply return to work as though nothing had happened…. It’s unknown whether McConnell was examined by a doctor who cleared him to resume the press conference, and McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment on that matter. [Jose Vega, a neurologist at the East Carolina Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina] notes that he doesn’t necessarily think it would have been appropriate or essential to rush McConnell to the ER in front of cameras. But he added that people with ‘this very symptom, the very thing that this man suffered in front of those cameras — these are people who are brought to the hospital routinely to be examined for a potential acute stroke.'”

* * *

“Deep dive into Meta’s algorithms shows that America’s political polarization has no easy fix” [Associated Press]. “The powerful algorithms used by Facebook and Instagram to deliver content to users have increasingly been blamed for amplifying misinformation and political polarization. But a series of groundbreaking studies published Thursday suggest addressing these challenges is not as simple as tweaking the platforms’ software. The four research papers, published in Science and Nature, also reveal the extent of political echo chambers on Facebook, where conservatives and liberals rely on divergent sources of information, interact with opposing groups and consume distinctly different amounts of misinformation.” Importantly: “When they replaced the algorithm with a simple chronological listing of posts from friends — an option Facebook recently made available to users — it had no measurable impact on polarization. When they turned off Facebook’s reshare option, which allows users to quickly share viral posts, users saw significantly less news from untrustworthy sources and less political news overall, but there were no significant changes to their political attitudes. Likewise, reducing the content that Facebook users get from accounts with the same ideological alignment had no significant effect on polarization, susceptibility to misinformation or extremist views. Together, the findings suggest that Facebook users seek out content that aligns with their views and that the algorithms help by ‘making it easier for people to do what they’re inclined to do,’ according to David Lazer, a Northeastern University professor who worked on all four papers. Eliminating the algorithm altogether drastically reduced the time users spent on either Facebook or Instagram while increasing their time on TikTok, YouTube or other sites, showing just how important these systems are to Meta in the increasingly crowded social media landscape.” • Yes, the problem is political parties, not social media.

* * *

“Inside Washington’s most exclusive club” [Axios]. “White House chief of staff Jeff Zients invited all the former occupants of his office — Democrats and Republicans — to the White House this month for a wide-ranging conversation on the presidency, followed by a casual dinner at his D.C. home, according to participants…. Most of the counsel — along with praise for keeping the economy humming and resolving the debt ceiling standoff — was centered on how to run the White House effectively, regardless of which party controls it…. In all, 12 former chiefs attended: Jack Watson (Carter), Mack McLarty (Clinton), Erskine Bowles (Clinton), John Podesta (Clinton), Andy Card (Bush 43), Josh Bolten (Bush 43), Japan Ambassador Rahm Emanuel (Obama), Bill Daley (Obama), Jack Lew (Obama), Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough (Obama), Mick Mulvaney (Trump) and Ron Klain (Biden)…. [F]or the attendees, there’s camaraderie and comfort in belonging to the most exclusive club in Washington — and one that now includes dinner.” Oh good. “One practical tip from both Democrats and Republicans: Make sure the president takes debate prep seriously. Presidents tend to think they are prepared. They rarely are.”


“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; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); 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: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

A trip to the dentist:

It does seem that dentists are more amenable, no doubt because they know that dentistry is an Aerosol-Generating Procedure. Sadly, the goons in Hospital Infection Control cannot bring themselves to accept that breathing and talking also generate aerosols.


“I received a $47,000 Covid bill – but the treatment was ‘exceptional'” [Cruise Passenger] and “Aussie couple charged $21,000 for catching Covid on their overseas cruise” [Cruise Passenger]. • Commentary:


“Photodisinfection cuts COVID in meat processing plant” [Ondine Bio]. “Newly published research in the journal Public Health Practice shows that a weekly program of nasal photodisinfection implemented at a major Western Canada meat packing plant, alongside standard safety measures recommended by the US Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (“CDC”), reduced the expected COVID-19 positivity rate by over 99%, from 1,344 expected positive PCR tests to 3 positive PCR tests out of over 21,000 administered tests over a seven-month period.” • Big if true!

“Something Awful”

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). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

* * *

“Neuroinvasion and anosmia are independent phenomena upon infection with SARS-CoV-2 and its variants” [Nature]. Hamster study. Nevertheless, from the Abstract: “[A]ll SARS-CoV-2 variants are neuroinvasive, regardless of the clinical presentation they induce. Taken together, this confirms that neuroinvasion and anosmia are independent phenomena upon SARS-CoV-2 infection. Using newly generated nanoluciferase-expressing SARS-CoV-2, we validate the olfactory pathway as a major entry point into the brain in vivo and demonstrate in vitro that SARS-CoV-2 travels retrogradely and anterogradely along axons in microfluidic neuron-epithelial networks.” • Yikes.

The Jackpot

“An Unwelcome Visitor Returns This Summer. Hint: It’s Covid.” [Wall Street Journal]. “One possible factor: Heat waves are sending people fleeing for air-conditioned indoor spaces, where Covid transmits more easily compared with outside. Summer travel might also play a role, as people crowd into airports and bring their germs along with them crisscrossing the world. ‘We are in a very warm year and people are spending a lot of time indoors,’ said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, chief of infectious diseases and epidemiology at UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. ‘People are congregating in air-conditioned settings and that is providing an opportunity for transmission.'” • Filing this under The Jackpot because of the cascading, interacting factors; “in a crisis, things correlate.”

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, July 27:

Lambert here: People have now noticed this chart, I assume because CDC gave them permission to do so. Doubling in about a week. One thing is sure: If it doubles again (blue line), the levels of cope and denial will be off the charts.

Regional data:

Lambert here: Note the backward revision. Now all regions are reporting increases at more or less the same rate.

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.

Regional variant data:

Whatever the cause of the uptick in the Northeast, it’s not EG.5 (the orange pie slice), which seems evenly distributed.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, July 22:

Lambert here: EG.5 still on the leaderboard, but getting crowded out (?) by all those XBB’s.

From CDC, July 8:

Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, July 22:

Lambert here: Increase is now quite distinct.

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.


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, July 24:

3.5%. Vertical, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

From CDC, July 10:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one….


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, July 26:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?,,

Total: 1,169,777 – 1,169,747 = 30 (30 * 365 = 10,950 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).

Excess Deaths

The Economist, July 28:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily. Odd. 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

Inflation: “United States Core Pce Price Index MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Core PCE prices in the US, which exclude food and energy, went up by 0.2% month-over-month in June 2023, easing from a 0.3% increase in the previous month and in line with market expectations. The annual rate, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge to measure inflation, rose by 4.1%, the lowest since September 2021 and less than market expectations of 4.2%.”

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* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 82 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 28 at 1:45 PM ET.

Groves of Academe

This cranky humanities major agrees:

Class Warfare

“The Talent Strikes Back” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal]. Nooners does class conflict. “I’m neither an entertainment reporter nor an industry veteran, but I watch the business and culture of Hollywood pretty closely, and I have a bad feeling about this strike. I hope I’m wrong, but the struggle between the writers and actors unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers looks to me as if it will go long and be epic. We may look back on it as one of the consequential labor actions of the 21st century…. My fear is that the conflict isn’t between competent owners of companies operating profitably and union members who want a larger share. It’s not Ford in 1960 vs. the guys on the assembly line or, still going back in time, prosperous newspaper owners vs. reporters. It’s not the secure vs. the hungry. It looks more like Lost People without vision vs. Aggrieved People feeling genuine grief. The Lost People are the corporate CEOs and studio and streaming bosses who were concussed when the world shifted under everyone’s feet in 2020. …. Charitable gloss: They did their best as a historic plague collided with a technological revolution. Less charitable read: They made blunder after blunder and will now cut to reduce costs as uncreatively as they spent…. Against them are the Aggrieved People, the actors and writers. In the rise of streaming they were denied, against tradition and history, full residual payment for their work. And they see artificial intelligence for what it is: I am become death, destroyer of jobs. And worlds. And words.

News of the Wired

Ray Bradybury:

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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 Stephen V:

Stephen V writes: “I’ve planted a flower bed partly to relieve neighbors’ anxiety at my lack of a lawn (bermudagrass has been mostly replaced with clover and rye). From left to right: Catnip, Sage, Yarrow, and Hellebore (blooming since February!)” Awesome!

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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. antidlc

    The other day Lambert had this link about the new CDC director:

    The article had this photo:

    Dr. Mandy Cohen attempts to manipulate scientific equipment in a Class III biological safety cabinet in a training facility at the CDC’s main campus in Atlanta on Thursday.

    From December 4, 2020:
    A look inside Stanford’s expanded Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) lab

    University photographer Andrew Brodhead takes us inside Stanford’s expanded Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) lab. This type of lab is capable of handling microbes that can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through inhalation, such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

    With the aim of enhancing research on SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, Stanford University has expanded its Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) lab. This type of lab is capable of handling airborne microbes that can cause serious or potentially lethal disease.

    With the aim of enhancing research on SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, Stanford University has expanded its Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) lab. This type of lab is capable of handling airborne microbes that can cause serious or potentially lethal disease.

    (bold mine)

    Take a look at the photos that show the PPE.


    1. ashley

      in a training facility

      perhaps theres nothing in the cabinet, making it a prime spot for a stupid photo op?

  2. Mark Gisleson

    re: Ramaswamy’s yard sign (OK, not a hard surname once you’ve seen it a few times ; )

    You made me think about it. Most yard sign “acquisitions” are impulsive so I’m thinking that in an age of everyone having a phone, sign snatchers now think twice. Likewise the consequences of late night collection efforts have also gone up thanks to surveillance cams.

    Thinking a little harder. Yeah, in fact I think in a tight race I’d be worried about false flag yardsign attacks. If it’s too hard to do without getting caught, then fake catching the other side doing it : )

    1. some guy

      And after that, false flag yardsign installations. Mass posting of team B yardsigns in thousands or millions of team A peoples’ yards.

  3. Berny3

    Can anyone tell me what nasal photodisinfection is exactly? Did a Google search on the term, but everything seemed to just refer to it instead of describing it. Do you aim a blacklight at your nose? Sorry, I know that’s silly but I’m at a loss here.

    1. Verifyfirst

      The paragraph links to the research paper, which is remarkable: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666535223000393?via%3Dihub

      “Nasal photodisinfection, known more specifically as antimicrobial photodisinfection therapy (aPDT), has been investigated as an adjunct to these interventions to further mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19 outbreaks within the workplace and surrounding communities, including the potential impact of asymptomatic transmission [8]. aPDT involves the application of a topical photosensitizer inside the nose, which has a positive charge that preferentially binds to negatively-charged microorganisms. Two small nasal cones connected to a light source are then inserted into the nares (nostrils) to activate the photosensitizer using a specific wavelength of red light. During illumination, the excited photosensitizer reacts with nearby oxygen which generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) that destroy a broad spectrum of microbes including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This treatment is painless and takes approximately 5 min to administer.”

      Apparently this is used in some hospital in Canada? How did those hospitals do with noscomial transmission, versus others?

      I am gobsmacked–if this stuff really works as described, widespread adoption in workplaces would seem to have dramatically reduced Covid incidence (together with other measures, or maybe even without other measures?). Is this crazy expensive or what’s the problem??!!

      1. semper loquitur

        One problem is that it, and all anti-septic sprays and gargles, kills the good with the bad. Sounds like this one does too. It behooves one to find ways to fortify and refresh our nasal/oral biomes, if that’s possible. I’m looking into supplements myself.

        semper, who is not a doctor and who does not offer medical advice

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > refresh our nasal/oral biomes

          I think this is a good perspective.

          Reminds me of an old family joke about a long-forgotten TV series: “Mucus Welby, M.D.”

      2. megrim

        …So does this mean Trump might have had a good idea when he talked about “somehow bringing the light inside the body” to disinfect Covid??? 2023 keeps getting weirder!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > …So does this mean Trump might have had a good idea when he talked about “somehow bringing the light inside the body” to disinfect Covid???

          Thank you for recalling that episode to our attention; it was so sad. Trump actually got intrigued by the science and, being Trump, blurted it out. He was then monstered by Pelosi et al. (he didn’t recommend injecting bleach, I checked the transcript), there was a dogpile, and he gave up hosting the public Covid sessions altogether which, say what you will, at least signaled the issue was important and showed he was willing to face the public, very much unlike Biden, I might add.

      3. Cassandra

        Perhaps someone could correct me if I am misinterpreting the summary:

        In an effort to mitigate the transmission and consequences of the disease among such workers and the community at large, aPDT was added to a well-established bundle of pre-existing pandemic safety measures (e.g., mask-wearing, testing, contact tracing, workplace-engineered barriers, increased paid sick leave).

        And then the results:

        a statistically significant lower PCR test positivity rate in the study population in comparison to the case rates for the local Canadian province.

        So the nasal disinfection protocol was added to the bundle of “well-established” NPIs such as masking, testing, sick leave, etc. There was good compliance from motivated study participants, who then had very very few cases compared with the general public who presumably did not have all of the layers of NPIs in addition to missing out on the nasal disinfection protocol.

        And this study was considered for publication?

        1. maipenrai

          Like 95% of the other research we see lately. Pure garbage.
          But hey by all means laser your nose.

  4. Pat

    Considering the numerous daily assaults we have it is sort of amazing to me that the one that enraged me today was the mere mention of Ambassador to Japan Raymond Emmanuel.
    That that piece of scum is a friggin’ ambassador rather than serving out his life in prison on numerous counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment is an atrocity.
    Sure it’s bad that he cleared the way for Obama’s desecration of a treasured park for his palace of self aggrandizement, but that pales compared to the fact the top police in his administration ran a secret black box prison that incarcerated numerous black Chicagoans.
    Well it is hard to top that as an illustration that our Justice System is perhaps broken beyond repair.
    It is to weep.

    1. some guy

      Surely wildcat movie projectionists could use the flat walls of the Obama Palace to project various anti-Obama footage on.

      ” Hey pal, you always said you were a screen for people to project their own stuff onto.”

        1. Verifyfirst

          I think mausoleum is a better descriptor. It has that massive, oppressive sort of feel to it…..

    2. SG

      As someone who used to live and work in Tokyo, I’m just amused by the notion of someone with Rahm’s temperament attempting to negotiate with the Japanese.

  5. some guy

    . . . ” “Biden Allies Now Want to Run Against ‘Collapsing’ DeSantis Over Trump” ” . . .

    . . . oh really . . .

    I wonder if that means the ClintoBama BidenDem Media Industrial Complex will try their Pied Piper strategy all over again in order to get DeSantis nominated , if they can achieve it.

    1. Tim

      One thing you have to realize is how difficult it is to be a salesman for a bad product. That is what you sign up for as part of a political campaign.

      There are a whole lot of things you can’t allow yourself to understand if you want to keep your job, which makes it very difficult to be creative, and a clear headed problem solver.

      The easiest out mentally is to focus on the competition and how bad their product is which gives you an anchor to truth, preventing yourself from going crazy.

  6. Carolinian


    A later report said that Mr. Obama might have been present at the estate that evening without Michelle. Was he Mr. Tafari’s paddle-board companion? Did he make the 911 call? Mr. Tafari was reportedly no longer in the Obama’s employ and was writing a book about his experiences as the first family’s cook. One reported morsel attributed to the book is that Barack and Michele Obama almost never had meals together. What else was in it? Possibly Mr. Tafari had a book deal. Has anyone located the editor and asked to see the manuscript or interviewed him/her/they about what’s in it? Mr. Tafari, who had videotaped his lap-swimming abilities previously, and was considered an able swimmer, was supposedly just visiting Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend. How did he get through the Obama’s Secret Service security to go paddle-boarding if the Obamas were out for the evening? Did he lug his own paddle-board to the scene, or borrow one from the Obama’s equipment shed? Who let him in there? My goodness, what a busy gal Lisa Monaco must be these days. So much that needs a good fixing!


    I’m tellin’ ya they already made this movie, Roman Polanski directing.


    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Maybe big shot Democrats will belatedly realize that they best stay away from Martha’s Vineyard and the vicinity.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > writing a book about his experiences as the first family’s cook

      Kunstler asks good questions. I wonder if the 911 call was taped and, if so, whether it could be FOIAed.

      Perhaps the manuscript was in that extremely hypothetical safe deposit box I mentioned.

      On another note, I’ve been to Chappaquiddick and seen the site. There’s no way Teddy’s story holds up, or should have held up with decent reporting.

        1. JohnA

          Or as the dialog between Mary Jo and Ed:
          “But what if I get pregnant?”

          “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

    3. Acacia

      “Cook!! Where’s my hasenpfeffer??”

      And I suppose his book manuscript just inexplicably disappeared.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > And I suppose his book manuscript just inexplicably disappeared.

        Our enterprising free press is doubtless running down Tafari’s* agent as we speak. Perhaps the heirs, if any, would like to publish it.

        NOTE * As in Ras Tafari? What’s up with that? (musical interlude)

  7. Pat

    It isn’t the fact that Biden’s advisors have realized that DeSantis campaign is crashing and burning that is amazing to me, it is that these idiots think there is some way of gaming the Republican system so they can get him to be Biden’s competitor.
    Do these geniuses really think that a campaign that couldn’t even remember they needed to win in the rust belt to actually win the Presidency was the reason Trump won the 2016 Republican primary? There entire strategy regarding Trump is only strengthening him (people do not like witch hunts, especially when those hunting clearly live in collapsing glass houses.)
    They are as delusional as their candidate.

    1. Carolinian

      Biden just doesn’t look well. I find it hard to imagine that he will hold up until the next election much less after that. Call it elder abuse (or self abuse) or some kind of scheme to keep a lid on politics for the time being. Of course if he had said that he wasn’t running then he instantly would become a lame duck with a war and legally threatened son on his hands.

      1. Objective Ace

        Can’t he just pardon his son? The only reason his son’s history is an issue is because it looks bad politically if Biden is running

        1. Carolinian

          Biden just needs to go. It’s not about his son but about him. He seems incapable of making correct decisions. And the result is an insecure person with a very authoritarian personality. He never should have been elected in the first place and the mistake just keeps getting worse.

        2. Pat

          And pardoning him won’t make it go away. It just looks even more corrupt. Not one Republican will stop making it an issue.

        3. John k

          I bet hunter will be pardoned, but not before the election. Maybe he’s already done it, signed and dated, just in case he croaks suddenly.

    2. chris

      What campaign? Has Biden done any events? Is he planning on any events? Or is he going to constrain himself to the donor living rooms and his basement?

      Can you imagine the problem with trying to campaign this coming winter if we get a flu epidemic or another COVID surge? I think it’s clear the DNC and others will make it so that Biden isn’t exposed to any risks. So how will the campaign work when he doesn’t have any popular surrogates to help him when he’s taking a nap in Delaware?

  8. pjay

    “A Four-Way Race? The 2024 Presidential Contest is Anything But Settled” [Politico]

    I thought this statement was interesting:

    “The possibility of Cornel West, tapping into the youthful discontent with the president, claiming votes from Biden’s left and a moderate, third-party candidate offering an escape hatch for voters who grudgingly supported Biden in 2020 is already panicking senior Democrats. But these officials have taken solace that, despite Biden’s weak approval ratings, no elected Democrat has emerged to challenge the president in the primary.”

    Hmm. Wasn’t there a guy named, let’s see, oh yeah, Kennedy, who is running specifically as a Democrat? I skimmed that whole long article to see if he was mentioned. I don’t think so; maybe I missed it. And what is this “primary” of which the author speaks? Are there going to be primaries? If so, would it be reasonable to think Kennedy might enter them? I guess it is true that he is not an *elected* Democrat. But not even mentioning his name, given his polling numbers, is pretty funny.

    Quite an invisible man routine here.

      1. JBird4049

        Yes, it was, but note just what happened at its conclusion, which is what worries me. The splintering of the main parties then, as it would be here, came from the stress imposed on the political parties not dealing with the most important issues, which was slavery then.

        Unlike the with the later Progressive Movement/Party, which was co-opted and subsumed by the Democratic Party adopting many of the reforms advocated the Progressives, the prewar Democratic Party spilt into the Northern and Southern Democratic Parties. The competing Whigs just dissolved and reformed into the Republicans. I think that is going to the exact pattern here of either time, but that it will rhyme with the losers decided to grab their marbles (and everyone else’s) and leave the game. That is what the Southern Slavocracy did.

        However, today, unlike the previous times, there is no contemporary broad, big tent movement or party, which the 1900 Democrats and Progressives, and the New Deal and Great Society Democrats were. Imagine if the American Abolitionists were made irrelevant, much like the American Left, or even the former conservative members of the pre George H. Bush Republican Party were and are.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Yes, it was, but note just what happened at its conclusion, which is what worries me.

          If a split today promised a result equivalent to ending the Slave Power, I’d be all for it. But no such luck, as you point out.

    1. notabanker

      Politico knows the primaries are a farce. And Kennedy running as a Democrat is DOA. He could win 100% of the vote in every state primary and they’ll just change convention rules and boot him out. There is zero chance of RFK jr getting the nomination.

      1. nippersdad

        Very true. Sanders won every precinct in West Virginia in ’16 and the state still went to Hillary based upon the superdelegate vote. They don’t even need to change convention rules to get there.

        1. Milton

          I can see the party structure incorporating super duper delegates should the need arise.

          1. Cassandra

            The need will not arise. Remember the clown car of Dem candidates at the end of 2019? At the time, Elder Statesman Obama said he would not get involved in the process “unless it looks like Bernie is running away with it”. So the weekend before Super Tuesday, Obama had a few chats and miraculously, the field cleared for Biden.


            The amazing thing is that there are still so many Charlie Browns who are willing to play football with Lucy.

      2. some guy

        Still . . . . wildcat voters for Kennedy or Williamson in the primaries could vote for Kennedy and/or Williamson that they ” would have won or come in second” if not such Inner DemParty rules and rule-changes.

        Let Kennedy and/or Williamson win the majority of delegates and then make the Inner DemParty pick its own creature anyway in full view of God and CSPAN.

      3. Acacia

        Exactly this. But voting for West is somehow “throwing away your vote…” Got it.

        I wonder if anybody has explored the Democrat party as a cult, à la the Peoples Temple, because that’s really how it looks sometimes.

        1. Hepativore

          This is why I think that Cornel West would be better served to run as a Democrat, and then do a “dirty break” when the DNC inevitably changes the rules to remove him from the primary. While I acknowledge the sentiment that DNC will always rig their primaries to pick their donor-chosen candidate, our electoral system makes it even easier to marginalize third-party candidates, as they rarely even get airtime on cable news or even acknowledgement by the media and political establishment. Most political “normies” do not even know they exist in the first place and will vote for whomever Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. tell them to vote for if they even vote at all.

          By running as a Democrat and then doing a dirty break after the guaranteed DNC rigging, Cornel West would have nothing to lose and everything to gain, as it might help him and his ideas get more exposure by forcing the Democratic Party’s hand as it strikes him down in full view of a normally-uninformed or uncaring voterbase.

          1. nippersdad

            Were he to do so he would lose what credibility he has. Those supporting him remember that he endorsed Biden after Sanders got out of the primaries in ’20. Were he to run as a Democrat he would immediately be seen as a sheep dog, and that would be the last you would ever hear about him.

          2. Acacia

            My concern with this strategy would be that by submitting himself to the party and its “rules”, the DNC would be in a position not only to throw West under the bus, but to “explain” through all of their sycophantic media channels why he isn’t a viable candidate. Not only would the DNC inevitably strike West down, but they would absolutely spin a narrative about why he lost ‘fair and square’ — and the political “normies” who just vote for “whomever Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. tell them to vote for” will accept that narrative.

            Maybe you’ve had conversations with libs, especially around the last two elections, who start telling you why, for example, Biden was actually preferable to Sanders, or they start talking about Sanders’ flaws, etc. It would be like that all over again.

            I think this points to a deeper problem, which is the hold that the media has over the “thinking” of so many people. I don’t see that the spectacle of the DNC repeatedly throwing candidates under the bus is going to have any effect on this. The problem lies elsewhere.

        2. LifelongLib

          I’m 67 and I plan to vote for West. Does that mean I’m still youthful? It’s true that I’ve been discontented with every president since my youth…

  9. Roger Blakely

    Dr. Osterholm mentioned something interesting in yesterday’s Osterholm Update that was news to me. EG.5, in spite of its name, is actually a variant of XBB.1.9.2. If they had just named it XBB., we would have expected EG.5 to do what it has done.

    Fifteen of the top seventeen variants are variants of XBB.

    I am guessing that there is probably something worse about having a cloud of so many variants. I want to go back to the good old days in April when XBB.1.5 was 85% of the viral load.

    The XBB rash on my face, neck, and chest is receding ever-so-slowly. Walking through a cloud of fifteen variants of XBB in the grocery store is probably causing the problem. Between January and June XBB.1.5 did not give me a rash.

  10. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “…the more they’ve seen of DeSantis running a presidential campaign, the less concerned they’ve become about whether he can be beaten…

    Well, perhaps Mrs. Clinton could tell them how that worked out for her.

    Has any war been won by underestimating the strength of the opponent?

  11. antidlc

    Private equity strikes again.

    Private Equity Wreckers Come For Your Health Insurance

    The private-equity backed health insurer Friday Health Plans collapsed under order by Colorado state regulators on July 18, stranding 30,000 policyholders without health insurance as of August 31 — forcing them to pursue new plans in the middle of the year and rendering the money they’ve already spent towards annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums moot.

    The implosion of Friday Health Plans, which offered plans on seven state health insurance exchanges, comes as other private equity-backed insurers have faced similar issues. Bright Health, which was backed by private equity titan The Blackstone Group among others, had to end its insurance business on the exchanges last year, leaving hundreds of thousands of people to find new insurance policies for 2023.

    In total, more than a million people have lost their health insurance thanks to the failures of the two private equity-backed insurers.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Somehow watching these private equity firms at work in America is like watching piranhas skeletonizing a live cow.

    1. griffen

      All that protection for the younger Biden, leaves me with the impression we really are experiencing a “Gladiator” type moment in time. Private conversation between Marcus Aurelius and Maximus…

      “Commodus,is not a moral man. You have known that since you were young”

      So much, for the glory of Rome, er….Delaware elite. Added comment, I have this recurring thought that Hunter has learned this behavior somewhere…wait for it…no one screws with me…

  12. kareninca

    AOC doesn’t look well. I don’t mean this in a catty way; she really doesn’t. Look at her eyes themselves, the area under her eyes, her forehead, her mouth: https://hotair.com/john-s-2/2023/07/25/is-aoc-just-a-regular-democrat-now-n567157. I think it is the vaccines plus infection that do this, but that is speculation based on what I think I see.

    I know a guy in his 70s who had covid 8-9 months ago; it wasn’t too bad at the time; not great but not terrible; he used Paxlovid. Last month he had pneumonia which left him briefly hospitalized; now he is almost all better. A couple of days ago he said on zoom that he was so eager to be around other people at an upcoming event (not that he lives in an isolated situation really), that he was looking forward to human contact, to human voices in person, looking forward to breathing the same air as other people. Yes, he really said that he was looking forward to breathing the same air as other people!!!!! This guy is not stupid; he is both well-educated and innately reasonably smart. This is why I think the virus messes with brains.

      1. ambrit

        Both. The virus definitely messes with both propaganda and brains. There might even be a similar pathway involved in both.

    1. LifelongLib

      Maybe he just longs for a world where so innocent a thing as getting close to someone else won’t kill you.

      1. kareninca

        He longs for that world, and he will be acting as if it exists. I don’t think that will work out well. The virus finds our weak spots; we each have weak spots.

        1. JBird4049

          I get wanting to actually have real personal, social interactions without a blasted mask. I really do, but having enjoyed nearly dying from pneumonia myself, I would think that it would be more on his mind. I was still in my thirties when it happened and I was still getting better close to two months after.

          1. kareninca

            I think it will be a superspreader event. It is in Ohio, and cases are rising there. They are actually telling unvaccinated participants that they have to mask and stay six feet from kids. But the vaccinated can frolic at will, without a care or a mask. I do like these people but I am going to stay far, far away.

  13. LawnDart

    (Almost) Daily Derailment(s):

    Busy week…

    Train derails in Cook County: Riverdale police

    RIVERDALE, Ill. – A train derailed in Riverdale Friday morning, according to the south suburban officials.

    The incident happened near 140th and School Streets around 7 a.m.

    The fire department reported several cars on their side, no injuries, and no expected danger to the public, Riverdale PD Chief Mark Kozeluh said.


    Train Derailment In Camanche

    A train derailed at the 4th Avenue crossing in Camanche Wednesday.


    Three injured as SEPTA trolley derails, hits historic building

    Resident of structure dating to 1766 is unhurt; incident prompts SEPTA ‘safety stand down’


    NTSB blames poor track conditions for fatal 2021 derailment of Amtrak’s Empire Builder

    It was traveling on tracks in Montana owned by BNSF Railway..


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > BNSF Railway

      Owned by Buffet. Sounds like deferred maintenance. Looking at train videos, as one does, BNSF locos are often quite dirty, dirtier than the norm for the US. Any real data to back up this impression?

  14. deedee

    I find the whole No Labels kerfuffle to be too schadenfreudelicious to resist.
    After decades of pearl-clutching about how “Dems need to move to the center and stop being so left” and to “vote Blue no matter who” for Manchin, the Democratic party is getting exactly what it deserves right now. Add heaping servings of insiders worrying about Biden’s electability, the Kamala conundrum, heat for 30 mins at 350 degrees, and serve warm!

  15. Val

    It’s a real life Boschian tableau ain’t it? The right panel of our triptych: Holman Square, Emmanuel, the Obammer Ziggurat on the Olmstead-designed historic park, shady figures paddling about the former garden of earthly delights– where a grinning, bare-assed Biden Family enjoys a picnic of tar as warfare and fire rage across the horizon, and armies of skeletons assemble in phalanx, etc.

    Well Happy Friday e’rbody!

  16. Pat

    The film and television industry finances are a mystery wrapped in a cloak buried in a bog.
    Just a point for Nooners, the streaming section is particularly opaque. Amazon might not have pioneered the distract investors with something new to keep them from realizing how little actual value there is in the company, but they spent years being largely unprofitable doing that. People may not have realized it when all those reports came out awhile ago about their virtual assistant division having cost billions and never being profitable, but their streaming arm Prime Video was a big part of that division. There have also been questions about Netflix profits versus losses for about five years I know about. Even with that the streamers were cutting into traditional movie releases long before 2020. There are two big problems going on here, and they are the same for many businesses. The company managements are run by MBAs more concerned with quarterly reports for investors than with what the business is supposed to produce. Not surprising considering executive pay is structured to generously reward the one and not the other. In the process their product has been deeply degraded, disappointing and often outright alienating the customers who should be going to movies.

    The business may not survive these strikes, but continuing as it is will not only bankrupt the majority of its workers, it will also destroy its product line even further. There not only needs to be compensation changes, there need to be management changes. That is the most necessary and the least likely to happen.

    I love plays, musicals, television and film. When they work they are instructive, illuminating, magical. But what the studio and streaming heads do not realize is that they are not so necessary that people will not give them up. People need food and shelter, refrigerators and washers may not be necessities but they are close. Film and television, well… I think books will last longer, music and story telling even longer. Alternatives closer to home do exist. But recognizing self destructive tendencies is as hard for businesses as it is for individuals.

    1. GramSci

      «I love plays, musicals, television and film.»

      Me too. But I find that, mutatis mutandis, the quality of the experience is inversely proportional to the cost of the production.

  17. nippersdad

    Additional info on Dean Phillips: he was the guy deputed to be point man of the attack on Ihlan Omar when she was talking about it being all about the Benjimans, and was a large part of the reason that her next primary was contested. Once she was tamed, he then proffered her for the post she now holds on the Foreign Relations Committee.

    “We may not always agree on policy, but we unequivocally agree that in a nation built on the principle of freedom of speech, she should be free to represent her opinions on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Indeed, that is the essence of democracy………..“Rep. Omar has not threatened violence against fellow members of Congress or encouraged an insurrection against her own country. She and I have spoken about the language that has offended many, including me, and she has apologized and ensured it will not happen again.“*

    So free speech is fine and dandy with ol’ Dean right up until you actually use it, at which point it is necessary to ensure that it will not be used again.

    * https://phillips.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=917

    1. John

      Dean Philips: household name in at least part of Minnesota otherwise a nonentity. Who makes up this stuff? Absurd! Inconceivable!

  18. chris

    Re: cranky humanities majors…

    I don’t know. I think it depends on the teachers and the programs. Given the sheer volume of material you need to consume and understand to be in upper level science or engineering classes, I’m not aware of any reason why STEM oriented people couldn’t handle the suggested workload.

    From discussions my professors in humanities type classes, at the institutions I attended, I don’t think they took anything out or dumbed it down for the engineers. But then, I went to school at places where they’d fail you, and they expected you to engage with the material and learn. Especially at the graduate level. Time was your grades in engineering were A, B, or “what will you be doing next semester, because it won’t be as student in this department…”

    My understanding is that has changed now. Adjunct and marginally attached profs are less likely to make classes hard or fail students. So many people are pursuing graduate degrees the quality had to adjust to handle the volume. I haven’t heard of engineering profs being pressured to go easy on kids, but, I have heard mention that the “gen ed” and non major courses should be “optimized” to permit engineers to complete their programs in 4 years. I’ve also seen grad students and TAs in the humanities get pretty raw deals compared to students who can tie themselves to engineering grants.

    YMMV I guess.

    1. nippersdad

      A cousin of mine was going back to school about ten years ago and needed to retake some of the humanities courses he had skipped due to the sheer number of books he would have had to buy and read. Clearly that had not changed, as he ended up borrowing about twenty books out of our library. It was actually shocking how many he needed to read, and if he had had to buy them all at once it would have been very spendy. Not something most people can afford for a survey literature course.

      The surprise for me was them expecting that their students could do anything else.

        1. chris

          Yeah, the book thing is a scam. Especially when the prof teaching the class makes you buy their book. The worst I ever had was $1000 per semester in book expenses. I understand it can be more than that now in the sciences and many of those materials will be digital so you can’t “own” them. Which is really awful. I still have most of the books I’ve used from all my classes.

        2. nippersdad

          Yep, love those. Back when I was in school there was just the University book shop and some places in a mall somewhere, and they were not nearly as reasonable.

          I still have my $200.00 used Con Law book; never went into the law but could never bring myself to sell it for ten bucks just so that they could resell it for another $200.00. Some things have changed for the better.

    2. Acacia

      I think it depends on the teachers and the programs.

      I have also not heard of faculty dumbing down the reading for the engineers — maybe it happens, idk —, but I would say the outcomes do depend on the students.

      In my experience, having now taught in the humanities for some decades, many of the future STEM students just don’t have the mastery of English to handle the writing requirements. I suspect it’s one of the reasons why you find so many foreign students in science and engineering programs.

      I no longer teach lower division courses, but in the years that I did, I lost track of the number of foreign students that I saw with serious ESL problems. They would need a lot of help with just expressing their ideas clearly in English, and unfortunately they won’t get it in the typical freshman composition course, even when the requirement is a full year. Since that is not the curriculum in the required comp courses, students who need help with the basics, or with ESL problems — they get sent to a “campus writing center”, often run by grad students from the Education department, who don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings by correcting spelling, grammar, etc. In this way, the can gets kicked.

      And when I personally tried to give these students more attention, often the response was that they didn’t really care about being able to write a solid argumentative essay in English, because they had already decided on an engineering major, and “it’s not necessary”, etc.

      1. chris

        What a shame. Most of what I do as an engineer is write.

        In my experience, the other challenge that many ESL students face is the honor code. A lot of Asian countries don’t have a concept of individual work that is common in the west. I was on the Honor Court in grad school. Just about all of our cases of fraud/plagiarism/cheating were because some kid from an Asian country got frustrated with an assignment and cheated rather than ask for help. Sometimes the approaches they took required much more effort than actually doing the work. We tried to go easy on them when it was obvious they really didn’t understand what Plagiarism was.

    3. Sailor Bud

      The whole line is arrogant and unsupported. Because humanities majors “don’t do” math, it is assumed that they can’t, and that’s probably why some of these engineering types should study some humanities. They clearly need lessons in discernment.

      Most of them would embarrass themselves trying to play a violin concerto, for the same reason: it takes time to learn.

      The straight-A student isn’t necessarily impressive, either. A pro basketballer typically will concentrate on basketballing. Academics may suffer for it. Likewise, a humanities major, if they are dedicated and obsessed, may let gen-ed material suffer if they work extra diligently at their single craft. I’ve known hot hands in the arts, where there was not time to do much in the way of ‘diffie Qs’ and calc II, much less a foreign language course or nutrition class gen-ed.

      Hilariously, the named math disciplines aren’t exactly ultra difficult anyway, if one is diligent and has good explanations, or even tutors. The world had best start seeing smarts for what they really are. One can have a 200 IQ and still be an airhead, in dozens of ways.

      1. chris

        That’s a bit of a false dichotomy, right? I didn’t get the impression the tweet was talking about anything like virtuoso performers. I took it to mean things like anthropology or sociology or literature. So we’re not talking about artists vs. Math nerds. We’re talking about someone who has a course load with calculus vs. Someone who has western civ.

        In that case, it may very well be true that the STEM people could handle the coursework for reading, but the history major would have no capacity for prob and stat. With apologies to Prof. Harry and psychohistory in Foundation…

        1. Sailor Bud

          It wouldn’t be a false dichotomy. It would be, at worst, a bad comparison, but I brought up the violin thing because it is pattern based, like math. Either way, I don’t see much difference, but if that’s what we mean, then fine. Do like with like.

          The named coursework was differential equations and calc 2. I could find some tricky literature of similar time investment in every one of your named categories, and most of the oh-so-superior engineers I’ve met might not do so well unless they spent similar time on it.

          Ever read Joyce’s Ulysses? Do you think just anyone can interpret it, easily, and write a good essay about it? Many people can’t even make sense of it, especially young bachelor degree-aged kids.

          I wouldn’t make the assumption anyway. “It may very well be true” that the STEM people in question stink at writing or critical thinking, or that a humanities major can do fine with calculus. Who can prove it? You? Them?

          We don’t even know always, how well any of these kids does.

          Feynman, in SYJMF, went to L. America, and had top physics students give him perfect answers from textbook questions, but when he gave them examples using the same material, they didn’t recognize the same things they’d just spat out. His conclusion: “They don’t even know what they know!”

          1. chris

            I think you’re mixing things up in weird ways here.

            Violin playing is pattern based like following a recipe is pattern based. Virtuosity has nothing to do with the pattern, and simply being able to read and follow the instructions is no guarantee anyone will appreciate the result. I’d disagree that math is pattern based too, especially once you get to calculus. I also didn’t mention writing? Or critical thinking. Neither did the original post. The question, as I see it, is could a STEM oriented student handle the additional coursework that the cranky humanities person asserts has been removed from the curriculum because STEM. I think the answer is yes! Whether they would want to or not, who knows?

            And books like Ulysses are unique cases, whereas topics like differential equations are an entire category of knowledge for problem solving. Calc 2, typically multi-dimensional calculus in most curriculums, is tough because an awful lot of people, even engineers, can’t think in 3D. You seem to keep assuming that these math skills and backgrounds build naturally one on top of the other so that with proper tutors and time you can do it. That really isn’t true. But with reading, even reading difficult books like those written by Joyce or Tolstoy or whoever, it is true. The act of reading is the same. The lens of comprehension requires something quite different from the task of reading. But I’m sure we all know people who have read stuff and don’t understand it and yet put out a paper good enough to get a decent grade. That’s not so easy to do with math. Even with partial credit.

            As for history students moving to a course load with more calculus, I’m very much in doubt of that. Especially because in the US, that assumes a lot of background that if you’re not STEM tracked in high school you’re not going to get. To jump on that in college requires remedial coursework and then tough classes. I don’t see many humanities majors looking to do that. Or being capable of it based on experience. It is very hard to go from a non STEM course of study to a STEM program. It is much easier to go the other way. The joke being that engineering is pre-law or pre-business. That is just the way things are set up in the US.

            And from what’s available about him, Feynman was kind of a dick. I’m not sure I’d trust his take on things in his memoirs when he’s denigrating students in other countries.

            1. Acacia

              But I’m sure we all know people who have read stuff and don’t understand it and yet put out a paper good enough to get a decent grade. That’s not so easy to do with math. Even with partial credit.

              Study in the humanities is not so different from what you describe w.r.t. math: the knowledge required to understand many texts depends on a lot of experience reading to build up “the lens of comprehension”, as you put it. It doesn’t just follow from the simple act of reading, e.g., being able to read and understand Jane Austin doesn’t mean you’re prepared to grok what Proust is trying to explore.

              FWIW, I see the type of paper you describe all the time, in which the student read the work but clearly doesn’t understand it. Especially with theory, many students just get lost. In that situation — very common — there are lots of failure modes, but rest assured, they don’t get “a decent grade”.

              Again, the outcomes depend on the students, and not all students have the mastery of language or deep knowledge of the tradition to understand what they’re reading.

            2. Sailor Bud

              All I’m pointing out is that the most difficult things take massive time to do well.

              You think Ulysses is some special case, and it isn’t. It is just one book I named. Here’s another, and I can keep adding them and adding them if you like. Plutarch is history. Try to read his Parallel Lives without looking up the massive references he shovels in. You will understand almost none of them if you don’t know your history already. That is cumulative, and so is the bulk of math. Don’t remember how to do algebra? Good luck with trig or calc, & beyond.

              The point with the calc 2 and DEQs was: why intentionally pick such branches of math for comparison example if we’re talking ‘additional coursework,’ by definition a gen-ed? Hence, me going directly to Ulysses and violin concerti. Oh God, I’d love to read a bunch of math kids, like Sam Bankman-Fried, do analyses on Joyce. I’ve already read his banal moron talk about Shakespeare. Painful, but funny.

              I hope you don’t really think Tolstoy is difficult, tho. As for math, I still do think that tutoring, effort, and interest will do the trick for anyone with a fine brain, firing neurons, and desire – with anything, including virtuoso violin. Mozarts aren’t born, but made, and that is the current theory on prodigies. All chess GMs are products of childhood chess training beyond what you or I ever got. Read up on the Polgar sisters, for instance. All three, trained from the cradle to play chess, chess, chess.

              Violin playing is pattern based because music is. To be a complete musician, there is a system, complete with SATB studies that are the horror of nearly every conservatory student in the world. Most musicians couldn’t name the proper major third of a D# after decades of training (Fx, not Eb). To get good enough to improv a cadenza will require an understanding of all manner of things that take massive theoretical framework, including reharmonizing (not so easy!)

              And yes, you did mention writing? In your earlier reply and discussion with Acacia, where you said it is most of what you do. Critical thinking, I’m mentioning, and I’m allowed to, because conversations flow two ways and not just “we have to discuss what I or the OP mentioned.” It is one of the ways in which engineers may – and often do – suck in academics, along with everyone else, including humanities majors themselves. It is also the cornerstone, along with writing, to be a good humanities scholar, well past the stupid grade one gets. Can’t write an essay? You’ll be a poor lit major, no matter what grade you got or what major you had.

              Maybe I could mention creative writing, for a humanities-based thing that is beyond mere teaching. Most people can’t write a good story to save their lives.

              That all said, yeah, I agree it is easier to get a good grade in humanities, but to do well in it? Not the same thing. Professors grade papers in subjective ways, along with some technical ones, if they even know to or care.

              Dunno what I’m going to say about the Feynman = dick, therefore easy to dismiss, so I guess I’ll dismiss it. He wasn’t insulting (Argentinian or Brazilian, forget) students out of bigotry. He was saying that the knowledge that enabled them to acquire an A grade was not enough for true practical understanding of the material. It would have been true if he were discussing Caltech students too. Lewis Carroll Epstein makes the same point with his book, Thinking Physics. No L. American students in view there at all.

              What was the Einstein quote about teaching again?

              Anyway, thanks for the healthy argument! I enjoy this stuff quite a bit, being a polymath between the two worlds.

            3. Acacia

              Largely agree with Sailor Bud, above. Ulysses is a singular work, but there are countless other texts similarly steeped in tradition. I see students crash into this all the time. Re: the instruction of math, though, I’m maybe a little less sanguine than Bud.

              Despite choosing the humanities at university, I also did the full year of calculus, and linear algebra thereafter. Being asked to rote memorize dozens of integral forms for 3D solids was probably the low point. Linear algebra was something else. Lots of theory and proofs. The course was taught by Ralph Abraham, who is something of a character (dynamical systems, ‘DMT: The Spirit Molecule’, chaos, heh). For young me, one of the most memorable moments was actually a digression in which Abraham announced to the crowd that “everybody in the field knows that the instruction of math in the US has largely been a failure — students don’t learn it”. In the next ten minutes, he gave a whirlwind summary of set theory, objects, morphisms, and it was like being hit by a lightning bolt. “Ah… so THIS is the big picture my math teachers have been gesturing at all these years!” I thought. Lol

        1. Sailor Bud

          lol, not an official one, no. I make up words like that all the time. ‘Balling’ is acceptable, so I stuck on the rest of the word.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “I received a $47,000 Covid bill – but the treatment was ‘exceptional’”

    It’s only a matter of time until the lawsuits start of people being charged tens of thousands of dollars in “medical” treatment but that that they will claim that it was the negligence of the ocean liner companies that caused them to be sick in the first place.

    1. Late Introvert

      IANAL, but I think it would be pretty easy for the lawyers on the side with deeper pockets to do discovery on all of the other places these fools could have gotten infected in the 2 weeks leading up to the cruise. A pox on both houses.

  20. Carolinian

    Interesting American Conservative take on Barbie, the movie and the doll

    The implication seems to be, for the critics, that Ken is getting a taste of the perennial female plight of existence. Still, it is a suggestive allowance from a feminist director that, at least in some places, the tables have well and truly turned. This second-class status Gerwig recognized is not limited to the world of dolls. For young men today, the picture looks a lot closer to what Barbie envisions than many care to admit. […]

    Are these men on the margins “Ken the way the girls would have him be”? Perhaps on its face, but female social behavior, especially in romantic relationships, suggests another conclusion. After all, men being “in their flop era,” as one Substack writer put it, is not an isolated problem. Indeed, for the vast majority of American women who hope to date and marry one of these males, the problem is theirs as well. Whether they blame male chauvinism, male inadequacy, or merely rising standards of acceptable relational behavior, women are incredibly vocal today about their dissatisfaction with the dating pool, yet unwilling to admit the causes.[…]

    In 2014, a study of child play habits found girls who grew up playing with Barbie dolls could imagine the future Barbie promised, with women as astronauts, doctors, and pilots. However, they did not imagine themselves in that future. Indeed, even within Handler’s lifetime, girls were clamoring for a Ken for Barbie to marry, a pregnant Barbie, and a Barbie with a baby. (Mattel responded to the latter wishes with a babysitter Barbie and, eventually, a pregnant Midge doll, but Barbie herself never had a child.) The promise of a successful career, it seems, was not enough to overrule many women’s desire to raise children.

    More here.


      1. ilpalazzo

        This doesn’t look half bad tbh and I’ve seen the movie a couple of times and read the manga. It does appear closer to the book format wise.

    1. vao

      It is seamless, but in several of those small scenes the “extensions” are noticeably repetitive and unimaginative.

      The tank with buildings in the background is very obvious, as are the atomic explosions in the city / landscape. They look as if a copy-paste of patterns existing in the original images was made to fill the space.

      Various scenes of Akira in an urban setting are typical: the original image — a careful composition with many details — is expanded with what are large surfaces of fairly flat elements. Lots of concrete pavements and walls, without any element to balance the composition.

      For instance, the scene of Akira uncovering that special motorbike: the walls and the ground are bare, there is clearly something missing. It looks as if the animator had had enough after drawing the central part, and just filled in the rest — which is exactly how the AI program proceeded. Had the scene in “vertical mode” been drawn by an animation artist, I would expect, say, a couple of rusty drums and some tarpaulin laying on the bottom, a pipe and a dangling cable towards the top, or perhaps a broken power box on the wall.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > AI made it look seamless

      I’m sure it didn’t, to anyone who knows the material. Same idea as cropping an oil painting to, say, letterbox format.

      “So good that even executives can’t tell the difference!”™ isn’t the recommendation some think it is. Or maybe it is, I dunno….

  21. ChrisRUEcon

    #COVID19 #PhotoDisinfection

    Oh wow … WOW.

    Thanks so much for that, Lambert.

    HUGE if true, indeed!

  22. SG

    According to 18USC § 3056. Powers, authorities, and duties of United States Secret Service, Biden doesn’t have the authority to grant RFK, Jr Secret Service protection. Paragraph 7 states that the Secret Service provides protection to:

    Major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates and, within 120 days of the general Presidential election, the spouses of such candidates. As used in this paragraph, the term “major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates” means those individuals identified as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security after consultation with an advisory committee consisting of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and one additional member selected by the other members of the committee.


    Note that neither the President nor the Secret Service itself has a direct role in that determination. I don’t think any candidate has received Secret Service protection this far from the general.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > those individuals identified as such by the Secretary of Homeland Security after consultation with an advisory committee consisting of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the House of Representatives, the majority and minority leaders of the Senate, and one additional member selected by the other members of the committee.

      Thanks! The Cossacks work for the Czar, of course, but “majority and minority” does insert some checks and balances.

      Hmm. RFK not looking good, then. That’s what I get for being nice :-)

  23. griffen

    Celebrity deaths entry to add for the week, I missed seeing this and quite likely the death of Sinead O’Connor is going to overshadow it. Randy Meisner of the Eagles passed away on Thursday. Apologies if its been covered already.


    Music has many opinions, some to like and some to dislike, so quite clearly the Eagles are in a hate or despise them category for some. Meisner was not touring, but with Vince Gill in tow I saw them play April 2022. Great show.

  24. ashley

    “Biden Allies Now Want to Run Against ‘Collapsing’ DeSantis Over Trump” [Rolling Stone]. “Some of Biden’s closest confidants have in recent weeks told the president that DeSantis has performed so poorly in the primary, that the governor would likely be notably weaker than the twice-indicted Trump in a match-up against Biden, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. Biden has at times agreed with this premise in private conversations. It wasn’t always this way. As recently as late last year, there was a widespread feeling among Team Biden and prominent Democrats that the governor was the more formidable candidate than the twice-impeached former president. But the more they’ve seen of DeSantis running a presidential campaign, the less concerned they’ve become about whether he can be beaten.”

    oh great, last time the democrats made their preferences known in who wins the republican primary we ended up with a narcissistic megalomaniac with a soft spot for fascism. they didnt learn then and they wont learn now. this time theyll get a fascist who makes the trains run on time. i bet that will be fruitful to fundraise off of while myself and my queer kind suffer.

  25. melvin keeney

    Lambert I think you missed the point on RFK Jr. It doesn’t matter when Secret Service protection starts. It only starts for those approved. That means it never starts for those not approved. He wasn’t approved.

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