2:00PM Water Cooler 8/10/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Meadowlark, Clark MO Family Farm, Clark, Missouri, United States. This is short, but I think I hear a creaking tree branch!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“Vermont’s dairy industry saved majority of milk supply during catastrophic storm” [VT Digger (JF)]. “E.B. Flory’s voice broke several times on Friday describing how exceptional dedication in different parts of the dairy supply chain kept milk losses to a minimum this week…. ‘It’s been all hands on deck with many different sectors trying to get this done,’ Flory said. Haulers were incredibly dedicated, creatively trying to get to farms in whatever way possible, she said. ‘They had their own crises at home, you know. Their basements were flooded, and they were on the road getting the milk,’ Flory said.  And it wasn’t just drivers. In the Northeast Kingdom, agency milk inspector Eric Perkins decided he would help them, going ahead in his car to the next farm to scout the best route to avoid backups and turnarounds. That initiative was so successful that the state’s other inspectors adopted the practice in the other corners of the state. ;He stepped up and did something really innovative that we’ve never done before, and it really worked,’ Flory said.” • Worth thinking about for other… catastrophes (Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell is really good on this).


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


“Voters in Ohio reject GOP-backed proposal that would have made it tougher to protect abortion rights” [Associated Press]. “Ohio voters resoundingly rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to change the state’s constitution, setting up a fall campaign that will become the nation’s latest referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned nationwide protections last year. The defeat of Issue 1 on Tuesday keeps in place a simple majority threshold for passing future constitutional amendments, rather than the 60% supermajority that was proposed. Its supporters said the higher bar would protect the state’s foundational document from outside interest groups.” • 


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Trump says he won’t sign the loyalty pledge required for first GOP debate” [NBC]. “During a Newsmax interview, Trump said that he took issue with a particular clause of the pledge that says the candidate will support the eventual GOP nominee. ‘I wouldn’t sign the pledge,’ Trump told host Eric Bolling. ‘They want you to sign a pledge, but I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there there’s a problem.’ Trump declined to name the candidates he wouldn’t support, but criticized both former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie whom he said would both ‘ask me nasty questions.’ The two former governors have been sharp critics of Trump, the GOP front runner in the polls.” • A party that requires loyalty oaths. Hmm.

“Trump Plays Hamlet Ahead of the Republican Primary Debate” [Karl Rove (!), Wall Street Journal]. “To debate, or not to debate, that is the question. Donald Trump is asking, like the prince of Denmark, ‘Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ by declining to attend the Aug. 23 GOP presidential primary debate in Milwaukee or to show up to “”take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them.””… If I were a betting man, I’d say Mr. Trump shows up. He simply must be the center of attention. But no one knows now, probably including Mr. Trump. He may decide at the literal last hour.” • Here’s the entire soliloqy; I’m not sure Rove read all the way through. I don’t see “thus conscience does make cowards of us all” as being top of mind for Trump… 

“After Trump Interview, Newsmax Host Reads Disclaimer Acknowledging 2020 Election Results as ‘Legal and Final'” [The Messenger]. • This reminds me (hear me out) of Napoleon’s Old Guard at the Battle of Waterloo: ” Amazingly, Napoleon’s immortals were thrown back in the 11th hour and, for the first time ever, fled the field. “‘The Guard is retreating,’ ordinary French soldiers cried at the unbelievable spectacle. ‘Every man for himself!'” I cannot bring John Keegan’s The Face of Battle to hand, but in anatomizing Waterloo, he makes the point that when troops break, they break from the rear. That is, “the sharp end of the spear” is not the place to watch. Look at the troops in the rear, not yet committed to battle. Not Trump loyalists at the tip; those not engaged, or only weekly engaged.

“Trump’s Legal Team Is Enmeshed in a Tangle of Possible Conflicts” [New York Times]. “The legal team that Mr. Trump has assembled to represent him in the twin prosecutions by the special counsel, Jack Smith, is marked by a tangled web of potential conflicts and overlapping interests — so much so that Mr. Smith’s office has started asking questions. While it is not uncommon for lawyers in complex matters — like large mob cases or financial inquiries — to wear many hats or to play competing roles, the Gordian knot of intertwined imperatives in the Trump investigations is particularly intricate and insular. Some of the lawyers involved in the cases are representing both charged defendants and uncharged witnesses. At least one could eventually become a defendant, and another could end up as a witness in one case and Mr. Trump’s defender in a different one. All of that sits atop another thorny fact: Many of the lawyers are being paid by Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s political action committee, which has itself been under government scrutiny for months. Some of the witnesses those lawyers represent work for the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump’s company, but their legal defense has not been arranged by the company, but rather by Mr. Trump’s own legal team, a person with knowledge of the matter said.” • FlexNet Lawfare™? I mean, it’s not as if Smith, et al., are not also “a tangled web of potential conflicts and overlapping interests.” That goes for everyone and everybody in the Beltway!

* * *

“Another Campaign Shake-up Not a Good Sign for DeSantis'” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “it’s not great news for the Florida governor that he’s just undertaken the third round of major staffing changes in his campaign in less than a month…. Like [outgoing campaign manager Generra Peck], [his new campaign manager, James Uthmeier] is a 30-something with zero experience in national political campaigns.” • Plus they already worked for DeSantis, so no new blood.

* * *

“Tim Scott: It’s ‘ridiculous’ to talk about climate over border emergency” [The Hill]. “During an interview on ‘Fox & Friends,’ Scott, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, was asked about President Biden’s recent interview with The Weather Channel, in which the president said that ‘effectively speaking,’ [whatever that means] he already declared a national emergency concerning climate change.  Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade [serving up a softball] asked Scott why he believed Biden, who did the interview from the Grand Canyon where he had established a new national monument, did not instead do the interview near the southern border. Scott visited the southern border at Yuma, Ariz., last week. Calling it ‘a dereliction of duty,”” Scott [deftly fielded the question and] continued, ‘Let’s be clear about it. President Biden has failed this nation, especially in declaring the actual emergency, which is an emergency at our border. Fentanyl has killed 70,000 Americans; he should reinstate Title 42 for a health emergency called fentanyl. It’s killing Americans.'” • Red meat is bad for the climate.

* * *

“Dollars to Dining: Bank records show proximity of Joe Biden meetings to son’s foreign payments” [Just the News]. “In the weeks before she dined with Joe Biden at a swanky Washington D.C. restaurant in April 2014, Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina deposited $3.5 million into a bank account tied to Hunter Biden’s businesses and also committed to invest in a New York City real estate project with Biden’s partners, bank records collected by Congress and emails among the younger Biden’s business partners show. ‘Any news on this?’ Hunter Biden emailed his partner Devon Archer on April 13, 2014, seeking an update on a real estate deal in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City….. Archer, who recently testified to Congress, wrote back the future presidential son that the Russian businesswoman and wife of former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov was committed to the project. “Seller is flaking. Asked for 90 days. We made a $41mm offer. Yelena confirmed green light to fund deposit,”” he replied. The emails and bank records make clear that Hunter Biden’s ability to provide foreign suitors access to his father, then the vice president, particularly came at times when deals were pending. The pattern, according to evidence made public Wednesday by the House Oversight Committee, was unmistakable. ‘It’s a huge concern,’ House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer told the Just the News, No Noise television show Wednesday night. ‘Everything timed out. With these payments, Joe Biden was always within range.’ ‘Every single person that wired the Bidens tens of millions of dollars from around the world had some type of communication with Joe Biden. Joe Biden is the brand. That’s what Devon Archer testified under oath. Joe Biden is the brand, and his family was selling the brand,’ Comer added. The pattern seen in the Baturina anecdote was repeated for other foreign clients in Kazakhstan and Ukraine as well, the committee stated.” •  Explains the timeline presentation, quite an improvement over yarn diagrams.

“GOP memo argues direct payments to President Biden not needed to show corruption” [The Hill]. • They are correct; see Zephyr Teachout at NC here.

“Does Ukraine Have Kompromat on Joe Biden?” [Max Abrahms, Newsweek]. “And what was this kompromat that Russia had over Trump, per our august media institutions? Putin apparently had sex tapes of Trump with prostitutes peeing on him. It seems so ridiculous that anyone—let alone our most august media institutions—believed this in hindsight. We now know that the pee tape stemmed from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But the kompromat conspiracy theory was essential for the [lying yet undicted] Democrats’ narrative that Russia possessed boundless influence over the president…. It’s a much more reasonable question about Joe Biden than it ever was when posed as a certainty about Trump. After all, Hunter Biden was paid many millions of dollars by the shady Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, despite having no qualifications for the job that anyone could point to beyond being the son of the Vice President at the time—which proved fortunate when his father fired the general prosecutor of Ukraine, Viktor Shokin, who had begun an investigation into the Burisma-Hunter gravy train.” • I’m afraid a lost the trail with Shokin. I need a timeline!

* * *

“Pritzker’s Truth Police: How the Illinois Governor Made the Case Against the Trump Indictment” [Jonathan Turley]. “Recently, a federal judge correctly ruled that a new Illinois law targeting pro-life centers is ‘painfully and blatantly a violation of the First Amendment.’  The Deceptive Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers Act would have allowed the state to crackdown on centers for what it considers ‘deceptive tactics’ to influence pregnant women to have their babies.. The most concerning statement came from Pritzker himself. In a CNN interview… Pritzker declared that the law is ‘just like the case against President Trump. You have a right to free speech, but you don’t have a right to lie.’ … In 2012, in the United States v. Alvarez decision, the Supreme Court held 6-3 that it is unconstitutional to criminalize lies in a case involving a politician who lied about military decorations. Notably, the Court’s warning about criminalizing false or misleading speech fits the Illinois law and Pritzker to a tee. The Court said that such laws ‘would give government a broad censorial power unprecedented in this Court’s cases or in our constitutional tradition. The mere potential for the exercise of that power casts a chill, a chill the First Amendment cannot permit if free speech, thought, and discourse are to remain a foundation of our freedom.'” • One might view this as a signal from Pritzker to the Censorship Industrial Complex that he is fully on board.

“‘Like a boxing match’: Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom embrace ‘risk’ in surprise debate” [NBC]. “As political strategists on both sides of the aisle told NBC News, DeSantis’ acceptance was not coming from a place of strength; he agreed to the challenge as his poll numbers have been trailing off and he seeks to reset his campaign. What’s more, the one-on-one showdown carries considerable risk for the Florida governor, these strategists said, should he stumble or falter in the setting. With Newsom not running for president, DeSantis is taking time to confront an opponent who isn’t actually an opponent for 2024.  But some strategists said this still is a risk worth taking for DeSantis, in no small part because of the interest a California vs. Florida contest could draw in prime time.”

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.

* * *

“It Is Quite Likely That Some Of Our Faves Will Be Implicated” [Eschaton]. “I actually don’t think much of interest will come out of the campaign finance portion of the SBF prosecution, but it is *possible* and some people might be nervous.”

“The Secret Hand Behind the Women Who Stood by Cuomo? His Sister” [New York Times]. “The menacing posts began cropping up on Twitter last September just hours after a former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York sued him over sexual harassment claims. The tweets attacked the aide, Charlotte Bennett, in starkly personal terms. ‘Your life will be dissected like a frog in a HS science class,’ read one of the most threatening, which also featured a photo of Ms. Bennett dancing at a bar in lingerie. The post was part of a thread written by Anna Vavare, a leader of a small but devoted group of mostly older women who banded together online to defend Mr. Cuomo from a cascade of sexual misconduct claims that led to his resignation in August 2021. But it turns out, her tweets had secretly been ordered up by someone even closer to the former governor’s cause: Madeline Cuomo, his sister…. Far from an isolated episode, the unvarnished exchange is part of a trove of more than 4,000 text messages, emails and voice memos between leaders of the group and Ms. Cuomo shared with The Times this summer.” Nice people. Also sad: ‘She didn’t want to be my girlfriend — she was using us.'”

“AIPAC steps up efforts to oust anti-Israel lawmakers” [Jewish Insider]. “In recent months, AIPAC has stepped up its recruitment efforts to challenge Democratic incumbents who have clashed with the pro-Israel establishment, pushing the activist left into a defensive crouch as it prepares for a potentially bruising primary cycle. The bipartisan pro-Israel group has been actively courting a slate of House candidates to oppose marquee members of the ‘Squad,’ including Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), according to multiple sources familiar with AIPAC’s outreach who spoke with Jewish Insider on Tuesday. The recruitment efforts have come amid a surprise shake-up at a leading progressive group, Justice Democrats, which laid off nearly half of its staff last month. The embattled group has claimed a few major victories over pro-Israel Democrats in previous primaries, but has otherwise struggled to raise money after an expensive election cycle in which several progressive candidates were defeated by establishment Democrats. While AIPAC quietly opposed Omar last cycle by contributing $350,000 to a separate group created to boost a top Democratic primary challenger, its latest efforts point to a new and potentially more expansive direction for the group, whose affiliated super PAC, launched in late 2021, has largely engaged in open-seat races rather than challenging incumbents.” • Election meddling, surely.

“Both expelled members of ‘Tennessee Three’ win back their state House seats” [Associated Press]. “Tennessee Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, who became Democratic heroes as members of the ‘Tennessee Three,’ reclaimed their legislative seats Thursday after they were expelled for involvement in a gun control protest on the House floor. The young Black lawmakers were reinstated by local officials after being booted from the GOP-dominated Statehouse, but only on an interim basis. They advanced Thursday through a special election to fully reclaim their positions.” • At Federal level, could such a protest have been constructed as “influencing… an official proceeding”? I’m guessing yes, depending.

“NYC shutters public health library that was critical resource during COVID due to budget cuts” [New York Daily News]. “The William Hallock Park Memorial Public Health Library, located in Long Island City, Queens, has for decades provided department epidemiologists and the public with access to peer-reviewed medical journals, databases, books and other research materials, on site and electronically as well as via loans. The library is named after renowned bacteriologist William Hallock Park, who was credited with creating vaccines to treat and prevent diphtheria in the early 1900s. But the department informed staff this summer that it is shuttering the library due to cost-saving directives ordered by Mayor Adams earlier in the year.” • Cop-loving Democrats… 

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Senile State” [Michael Lind, Tablet]. “The problem of gerontocracy is easy to exaggerate, however, because Biden and Trump are not typical of recent presidents. At their inaugurations, Obama was 47, George W. Bush 54, and Bill Clinton 46. And the U.S. House of Representatives is getting younger. While the median age in today’s Senate is higher than ever at 55.3 years, the median age of members of the current 118th Congress is 57.9 years, down from the 117th’s median of 58.9. Moreover, elderly presidents, senators, and members of the House do not have elderly staffs. In the current Congress, the average age of Senate staffers is 33 and the average age of House staffers is 32. Elderly Supreme Court justices have clerks just out of law school to do research and draft opinions. Much of the actual work of government in Washington in every branch is done by men and women between their 20s and their 60s…. Successful politicians simply do not have as much time to read widely and consider alternate viewpoints as they did when they were college students or young activists. The day-to-day work of campaigning and governing takes up most of their time and energy, and there is little time to reflect on whether they should modify their basic assumptions—something few people do in any walk of life. The problem, then, is that in the normal course of politics those whose political worldview froze when they were 26 or 30 finally ascend to a significant position of power only at the age of 50 or 60 or 70. Now that they are in a position to actually influence policy, they naturally tend to try to carry out a program that they were committed to in their youth, despite the fact that rapid technological or economic or social change may have already rendered many of their assumptions obsolete…. Like any interpretation of politics, generational analysis can be taken too far [no kidding]. My purpose here is to emphasize the mismatch of policies suited for one era by a politician who comes to power a generation later.” • One funeral at a time… 

“Bananamerica: Unity Index Hits 29-Month Low Amid Biden’s Lawfare Turmoil” [TIPP Insights]. “In keeping with its innovative tradition, TechnoMetrica developed the Unity Index, a barometer of the country’s unity based on the question: In general, would you say the United States is Very United, Somewhat United, Somewhat Divided, or Very Divided? It is the only objective measure that tracks unity in the United States.” • Handy chart:

I think unity is kinda like sincerity: If you fake it, you’ve got it made!


“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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“Real Madrid Players Train in Futuristic Masks Ahead of New Season” [Sports Brief]:

I would like to see something a little more fashion forward; then again, this is Real Madrid, so perhaps we are seeing fashion forward defined.

A fanfest gets it right, and CDC’s “disease detectives” got it wrong. Go figure:

Alert reader JF (also) writes:

I recently found a dentist with strict COVID protections in place.  This was my favorite line from their website:

N95 & ASTM Level 3 Masks

The beautiful smiles of our clinical team – dentists, hygienists, and assistants – will be protected behind double-masking at all times.

I did a search. Hot damn. Several places, so some dentists are reading the same sources:


Celebrity Watch

“Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger Pauses Show and Says His Throat Feels ‘Absolutely Destroyed’: ‘I Can’t Do This’ [People]. • Why? ‘Tis a mystery! 

Meanwhile, another celebrity, Andy Slavitt:

I listened through the cringey ads, and yes, Slavitt’s voice sounds “absolutely destroyed.” Whatever could it be? (He’s interviewing Mandy Cohen, who is far too downy a bird to give him a quote like Rochelle Walensky’s “scarlet letter.” Poor Rochelle, in over her head from the beginning.

Testing and Tracking

“Why tracking COVID reinfections has waned even as more people became sick” [ABC]. “‘There’s been a real desire by everyone to return to a state of normal and so as long as we are heavily tracking and reporting COVID numbers, things are not feeling normal,’ Dr. Ashley Drews, Houston Methodist medical director of infection prevention and control, told ABC News.” • Oh. For some definition of “real,” for some definition of “everyone,” and for some definition of “normal” (and “feeling,” if it comes to that).


“Long covid has derailed my life. Make no mistake: It could yours, too” [WaPo]. “I’ve watched in horror as our public institutions have turned their back on containment. The virus is still very much with us, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stopped reporting on cases. States have shut down testing. Corporations, rather than improving ventilation in their buildings, have pushed for shield laws indemnifying them against lawsuits. Despite the crystal-clear science on the damage covid-19 does to our bodies, medical settings have dropped mask requirements, so patients now gamble their health to receive care. Those of us who are high-risk or immunocompromised, or who just don’t want to roll the dice on death and misery, have not only been left behind — we’re being actively mocked and pathologized. I’ve personally been ridiculed, heckled and coughed on for wearing my N95. Acquaintances who were understanding in the beginning are now irritated, even offended. One demanded: How long are you going to do this? As if trying to avoid covid was an attack on her, rather than an attempt to keep myself from sliding further into an abyss that threatens to swallow my family. The United States has always been a terrible place to be sick and disabled. Ableism is baked into our myths of bootstrapping and self-reliance, in which health is virtue and illness is degeneracy. It is long past time for a bedrock shift, for all of us.” • An absolute moral collapse, at a civilizational level.

“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.

* * *


Elite Maleficence

Where are the lawsuits:

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, August 7:

Lambert here: We have now surpassed the second peak (#2), of the previous Covid pandemic infection peaks. I would like to congratulate the Biden administration and the public health establishment, the CDC especially, for this enormous and unprecedented achievement. And a tip of the ol’ Water Cooler hat to the Great Barrington goons, whose policies have been followed so assiduously! I wonder which of the previous peaks (#1, #3, or #4) we’ll surpass next. A curious fact: All of Biden’s peaks are all higher than Trump’s peaks. Shows you what public health can do when it’s firing on all eight cylinders! Musical interlude.

Regional data:

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

Regional variant data:

EG.5 (the orange pie slice) still seems evenly distributed.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, August 5:

From CDC, July 22:

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

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, August 5:

Lambert here: Increase is even more distinct. (The black line is “combined”, but it is easy to see that Covid, the red line, is driving everything.)

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, August 7:

3.4%. Interestingly, people are citing to this, too, as well as Biobot. Vertical-ish, 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.)

NOT UPDATED From CDC, July 17:

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, August 9:

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: 1,170,864 – 1,170,792 = 72 (72 * 365 = 26,280 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). 

• I knew I was right not to use CDC charts:

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, August 6:

Lambert here:  No longer updated daily. Odd when it was, odd when it stopped. 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

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped by 21,000 from the prior week to 248,000 on the week ending August 5th, the highest in one month, sharply above expectations of 230,000. Despite remaining at a historically low level, the figure suggested that the US labor market is starting to soften from stubbornly tight levels since the start of the year, loosely aligning with recent bets that the Federal Reserve may refrain from tightening monetary policy further this year.”=

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “Annual inflation rate in the US accelerated to 3.2% in July 2023 from 3% in June, but below forecasts of 3.3%. It marks a halt in the 12 consecutive months of declines, due to base effects.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “WeWork Taps Directors With Bankruptcy Chops After Board Resignations” [Wall Street Journal]. “WeWork reshuffled its board after the resignation of three directors who disagreed with its governance and strategy, replacing them with corporate bankruptcy experts as it cast doubt on its ability to survive turmoil in the office-building market.” • Oh.

Tech: “Amazon Prime Air loses two key operations leaders, as drone delivery struggles continue” [CNBC]. “Amazon has lost two executives key to the company’s drone delivery operations, the latest setback for an aspirational program that’s required hefty investment but has experienced scant success…. The departures come at a critical juncture for Prime Air, which has struggled to transition into a fully operational service since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos predicted in 2013 that within five years Amazon would deliver by drone packages weighing 5 pounds or less to customers’ doorsteps… But problems for Prime Air predated the economic downturn. The drone unit has been hamstrung by regulatory restrictions that limit where deliveries can be made…. There’s also been a string of crashes.” • That’s a damn shame.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 67 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 10 at 1:43 PM ET.

Our Famously Free Press

“All the News the CIA Sees Fit to Print” [David Talbot, The Kennedy Beacon]. “John Kiriakou looked up from his desk at CIA headquarters and was stunned to see The Washington Post investigative reporter, Bob Woodward, walking through the secure area without an agency escort. On another occasion, Kiriakou—who rose at the CIA to become executive assistant to the deputy in charge of operations, the spy agency’s dark activities—saw CNN host Wolf Blitzer wandering unattended through the same area, despite the CIA’s ban on communicating with the media.” • As I urged

Clearly, we have moved very far from the form of Constitutional government envisioned by the Framers. Here is Madison on the particularities of office in Federalist 51:

But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

(By “”place,”” Madison means sense 9, “”a job, post, or office,”” with “”persons in high places”” being the usage example.) For example, it should be not merely wrong, but not in any FBI agent’s interest to be censoring domestic communications on Twitter; but clearly that’s not happening. With the particularities of office dissolved, everybody can be on the same “”team,”” everybody can follow the same “”leaders,”” regardless of the “”department”” they belong to (“”the absolute fusion of state, corporate, and civil society organizations””). Under Fuherprinzip, every place becomes the same place.

Clearly, then, Woodward, Blitzer, and the spooks all see themselves as being in the same “place,” not different “places.” They are all on the same team; all the “departments” are merged into one… Blob. RFK’s substack, BTW.

Guillotine Watch

“The Gradations of @ssholery: A Jerks Week Explainer” [The Ringer]. • In principle I’m all for classification schemes. But “Billionaire” seems to be missing.

Class Warfare

“What Tech Workers Want to Do Next: AI and Cloud Computing” [Morning Consult]. “In a year of massive unrest for tech workers, the nearly quarter-million layoffs in the industry and the rapid growth of the artificial intelligence sector are coloring tech workers’ professional priorities and interests. A new Morning Consult survey of hundreds of workers in technical roles — including software engineers, software product managers, data scientists, IT specialists and others — reveals the areas in which these individuals say they want to work, and what they’re seeking in their next employer. Specifically, many are looking for job security and opportunities in AI or cloud computing.” • Clouds of bullshit….

News of the Wired

News you can use:

Not that I recommend this, of course.

On the chestnut tree:

For more on chestnuts, see NC here.

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Into_The_Abyss writes: “A nice surprise while cycling the other night, only see it bloom once a year.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. petal

    Two news items from the old College:
    1. Asa Hutchinson on the Path to the Presidency at Dartmouth
    The GOP candidate warns students and community members democracy is under attack.
    “But the former two-term Arkansas governor’s remarks began and ended with the U.S. system of justice—the “foundation of our democracy”—which, he said, is under attack by former President Donald Trump.”
    (Couldn’t bring myself to go to that one, sorry, guys.)

    2. Trump and allies boost calls for Justice Dept. takeover in new attack on democratic institutions
    “We should worry even more about the degree of control he’ll attempt to
    wield over federal law enforcement,” the government professor says in an
    Associated Press story about allies of Donald Trump seeking to curb the
    independence of the Justice Department.”

      1. Carolinian

        Pelosi said it would be the end of the world. She may have meant her world.

        I think a lot of us don’t want Trump. We don’t want Biden more. Trump had his chance to clean out the Swamp so no reason to think he would be any better at it in the sequel. He’s really running for personal grievance reasons. Maybe Biden is running–like Netanyahu–to stay out of jail. Where do we get these people?

        1. Screwball

          Agree. Truly amazing isn’t it?

          It all begs the question; how do we fix it?

          I have no clue.

        2. The Rev Kev

          ‘He’s really running for personal grievance reasons.’

          Maybe he is also running to stay out of prison. If he runs or not, that is where so many people are trying to put him – mostly Democrats – so it would be safer for him to be President.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Trump had his chance to clean out the Swamp so no reason to think he would be any better at it in the sequel. He’s really running for personal grievance reasons.

          I think Trump is running to defeat and punish his enemies. The issue is that his enemies — The Blob — ought to be defeated and punished, for the good of the country. Would Trump II be better? I don’t know. But as I keep saying: Getting out of TPP (a second NAFTA), the CARES Act*, Operation Warp Speed, and not getting into a proxy war with a nuclear power isn’t a bad record.**

          NOTE * The CARES Act put into place the closest analogue to a European welfare state that we’ve seen in some time; poverty actually decreased. Lots of people went on Medicaid. The Biden administration systematically dismantled all of that. “Learned nothing, forgotten nothing.”

          NOTE ** Also, my taxes went down my ~$600 because Trump made the ObamaCare mandate penalty go away. Joe Biden, OTOH, owes me $600.

      2. pjay

        LOL! That article is something! I just had to find out who this “leading democracy expert” was. Turns out it was Trygve Olson of the Lincoln Project. Here’s part of his bio:

        “Trygve Olson is the founder of Viking Strategies LLC, which provides clients worldwide with customized sovereign political risk and public affairs solutions. Mr. Olson focuses his work on developing understanding, devising strategies, and implementing cutting-edge networks and tactics to impact high-level perceptions and ultimate outcomes…”

        “Trygve has spent his career working at senior levels on elections in over thirty countries. In the United States has served in senior leadership positions on three Presidential campaigns, worked on numerous Congressional Elections, and done work for all the central Republican Party’s political committees. Abroad, he has spent over two decades working on behalf of the International Republican Institute (IRI) around the world. In 2001, he opened IRI’s Belarus program and office in Vilnius, Lithuania. Through this work, he was deployed worldwide to train activists fighting for democracy across the region, including Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and across Central Asia.”


        The IRI is the Republican branch of the National Endowment for Democracy, the CIA cut-out and John McCain’s old gig when he was paling around with Ukrainian Nazis. Those “deployed” to fight for “democracy” and shape “high-level perceptions” by the IRI are certainly the “experts” I want to hear from when it comes to the looming Fascist Danger. He should know.

        1. Screwball

          It is. I could hardly get through it. But it is exactly what so many live to read. Validation for their hate and contempt. That is true for both sides.

          No matter what I read, I always research the source (if needed). Always obvious to see the bias and agenda. This isn’t difficult, but that doesn’t matter to many.

          I don’t understand the world I live in.

      3. Daryl

        Jeez, there’s so much to unpack in that headline. Democracy expert… one of the things about Republicans is that unlike Ds, they actually do attempt to win elections.

  2. antidlc

    RE: Andy Slavitt

    His son had (maybe still has?) long COVID.

    Son of top Biden science adviser suffers from ‘long COVID’

    Andy Slavitt, a top adviser on the coronavirus pandemic to President Biden, revealed on Tuesday that his teenage son suffers from “long COVID,” a plethora of symptoms that continue to hound people who’ve been sickened with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Some of those symptoms can persist for months, making long COVID a public health challenge even as the pandemic otherwise ebbs.

    “He is young and fit and in the prime of his life,” Slavitt said, “but six months later he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath and ongoing and frequent flulike symptoms. His hands are cold to the touch.”

    From May, 2021.

      1. antidlc

        I used to think that the only way we would get this under control is if some high profile people (or their family members) got long COVID.

        Silly me.

        Just look at the members of Congress who have long COVID, and yet, as you say, here we are.

        1. some guy

          A lot of global warming denialist congressfolk and senators come from states which will be hit hardest and worst and first by global warming.

  3. Darthbobber

    The Lind gerontocracy piece.

    The intellectual gardening of the arteries seems institutional rather than individual to me.

    Nuland, Blinken, et al are pretty much one trick ponies who show no sign of being able to reconsider anything.

    And Buttigieg, Harris and company are as bereft of new ideas as their elders. (they actually seem bereft even of old ideas, other than the idea of wanting to be personally important.)

    The old mechanisms for pushing through course corrections are no longer effective, and not by accident.

    1. Carolinian

      Perhaps the prob is that these dotty old people are surrounding themselves with the worst of the young so they won’t look so bad by comparison. You have your 83 year old Pelosi and your 50 year younger AOC who before you know it is calling Pelosi Mama Bear.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > You have your 83 year old Pelosi and your 50 year younger AOC who before you know it is calling Pelosi Mama Bear.

        AOC visits ‘The View’ to praise Nancy Pelosi as the ‘mama bear of the Democratic Party’ and chide ‘Bernie bros’ New York Daily News

        I’ve always hated that “Mama Bear” locution (“A strong, aggressively protective mother. Likened to literal mother bears, which are notoriously violent and aggressive when confronting a danger to their offspring”). Protective only within the confines of a family (or party (another “Family”?)). So a mama bear wouldn’t protect a baby bear from, say, air pollution (or Covid). That’s not within their remit. So I don’t view “Mama Bear” as a compliment at all, though it’s present in many preening profiles.

        1. Mildred Montana

          >I don’t view “Mama Bear” as a compliment at all…

          I don’t either, having one in my extended family. As her children (my nieces and nephew) were growing up, my sister-in-law proudly pronounced herself as such—and she was.

          The result now that the kids are grown up? A tight family unit for them but a certain distance in their relations with other relatives. In those they’re friendly but not warm and, I dare say, slightly distrustful.

          Having had this experience, I see the term “Mama Bear” connoting an overly-close, almost unhealthy relationship that tends to exclude others.

        2. Acacia

          or party (another “Family”?)

          Heh, the party akin to a mafia organization, with a vicious “Mama Bear” as one of the capo.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Biden is too old, but Buttigieg and Harris are problematic because they are the kind of people who gravitated to Bill Clinton’s style of politics. The issue is they are 2nd and 3rd generation New Democrats. Officially, they promised to win and pass some good things in exchange for sacrificing a few things, hence the rationale why they would push DOMA or attack abortion rights.

      Not that I’m praising a guy like Robert Reich, but Peter Dao is a good example. He wasn’t attracted to the centrism or the rightwing politics as much as expectations that was the way to win.

  4. SFNative

    Presidential material? Hardly.

    “In 10 years”, Mayor Gavin Newsom pledged on June 30, 2004, “the worst of San Francisco’s homeless problem will be gone.”

    “The most seriously ill homeless people will be moved indoors, clearing downtown streets of in-your-face transients who were startling residents and tourists alike. Emergency shelters will cease to exist because nobody would need them. New arrivals to the streets will be helped immediately. This is a dramatic shift,” Newsom announced as he unveiled his “Ten Year Plan to Abolish Chronic Homelessness.”


    California has now funneled more than $20 billion into housing and homelessness programs since the 2018-19 fiscal year, and yet it had the largest increase in its homeless population of any other state from 2020 to 2022, with 172,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night, according to federal data. California accounts for 30% of the country’s homeless population and 50% of its unsheltered people, despite making up less than 12% of the total population.

    1. cnchal

      One would think wadding up $116,000 per homeless person would make a dent, but no. Filling up PMC iron rice bowls was the point.

  5. Carolinian

    Re Madison

    The problem with his regulation of human nature by competition idea is that it only works when you have competition. Whereas every tendency in our current era is to reduce competition and therefore challenges to bad behavior. When everything is corrupt including the president and most of the Congress then only reality can bring corruption to heel.

    So we are really victims of our hegemony which has managed to keep reality at bay for a few decades but maybe not much longer.

    The dreaded Putin is competition.

    And re Amazon Air–whatever one may think of Musk here’s betting he’d have those drones flying no matter how impractical. For all his billions one suspects Bezos isn’t a serious person when it comes to technology. Huckstering he can do.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      Corruption is not incompatible with competition, though it does tend to corrode institutionally arranged competition by corroding all institutions. Different corrupt groupings can compete with each other, but this competition is opaque and only accidentally beneficial to the public. The problem you are talking about here might be better described as the consolidation of real power within one corrupt group (as happened in Ukraine after 2014, say, as opposed to the more competitive situation that existed previously).

      1. Carolinian

        I’m not sure those founders thought any system could work–“a republic if you can keep it”–but Madison seemed to think that warring factions might work by preventing consolidation. In other words consolidation of power is the corruption because power corrupts, absolute power absolutely.

        So the question for now is where does the power lie and clearly it has become class power with the political system a sideshow to distract. The upper classes see their real threat and competition from the lower classes and Repub or Dem the main thing is to make sure “nothing fundamentally will change.” And of course on an individual level the main thing is to make sure you are in the right class.

        Undoubtedly this is much too big a topic to boil down rhetorically in a comment. So take my sally FWIW.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Funnily enough I saw some comments today by an Ukrainian thinker that corruption is the glue that keeps the state (Ukraine, in this case) together. If you take the corruption away, you take the very raison d’être of the state away and it will collapse. He was commenting Zelensky’s latest claim to get rid of corruption.

          But I guess it can be expanded to other states, too, that don’t seem to exists to provide for the citizens anymore. I wonder if there’s a room within MMT to study what level of corruption a state can finance and still remain sustainable?

          1. skippy

            Then some ponder the insentient bleating about freedoms and liberties …. from the market society camp …

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Madison seemed to think that warring factions might work by preventing consolidation. In other words consolidation of power is the corruption because power corrupts, absolute power absolutely.

          Yes, the fundamental requirement was to prevent tyranny, for which the operational definition was the concentration of judicial, legislative, and executive power. We are starting to see this concentration more and more. I think Obama’s kill list disposition matrix was Patient Zero for this trend.

  6. Wukchumni

    Avian botulism found in Tulare Lake in central California as water stagnates and heats (Fresno Bee)

    Couldn’t break into the ‘Bee Hive’ so all I have is the headline…

    There is quite the cacophony of funky Ag chems & fertilizers that were applied to the ground in farming the then dry lake bed which hasn’t been flooded like it is now since 1983.

  7. some guy

    Thank you for offering another Eastern meadowlark churr-call sequence. I miss my Eastern meadowlarks. Its been ten years since I heard my last one. ( I hope at least another song sequence might make an appearance).

    Here’s something interesting. The starling does a second-rate imitation of the Eastern meadowlark song in its rambling multipart song sequence. It also sometimes does a second rate imitation of the Eastern meadowlark’s churr-call. Also, where a lot of kinds of birds hop, the Eastern meadowlark and the starling both walk. Just a little thing that I have noticed.

  8. Michael Hudson

    Why do you think it’s the Ukrainians that want to hold blackmail over Biden (president). It’s the Blob! THEY wouldn’t trust Biden or any other president UNLESS they had blackmail to remove him if he showed “unauthorized initiative.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Ever notice in all this talk about the Bidens and Berisma and the Ukraine, there is not one word out about the Bidens and China? It’s like the dog that did not bark. Biden as VP went to China and son Hunter tagged along on Air Force One to make business deals while there. That is a pretty strong message that says that the Big Guy is actually in on any deals to get his 10%.

      1. SES

        This brings to mind a lovely bilingual pun from Indonesia in the 1990s, when Suharto’s wife, Bu Tien (i.e., Mme Tien), was sometimes popularly known as “Bu Tien persen” (persen = percent).

  9. Sub-Boreal

    An excellent commentary by an Australian insect ecologist on “What do COVID, climate change and the biodiversity crisis have in common?”


    Some people have lost support networks and are forced to make hard decisions about what rights and opportunities they can afford to forfeit to protect themselves, whether it be social invitations, career opportunities, or routine health appointments. They are unable to discuss the evidence of risks and impacts with friends, family, managers or work colleagues because the issue has become about value differences, not evidence-based risk management. Covid is a dirty word, an inconvenient truth.

    We’ve seen this before with global environmental crises. Not too long ago, avoiding talking about climate change became normalised and people who cared, who protested, who tried to galvanise action were labelled as over-reacting. The narrative persists – greenies, activists, environmentalists have become terms with derogatory undertones to suggest that what these people are saying is not worth listening to.

    My favourite bit:

    Washing our hands will protect us from an airborne virus. Biodiversity offsets will protect us from extinctions. Carbon offsets will protect us from climate change.

    Although this blog doesn’t have frequent postings, it has some perceptive observations on academic and scientific life.

  10. Benny Profane

    Vermonters impressed me after Irene in ’11, when I thought it would be a nasty winter for them with all the flood damage. Something like a hundred bridges were taken out, and a huge chunk of Rt. 4 above Rutland was gone, creating, essentially, a new gorge during that violent event. But, nope, most roads were functional before the snow dropped. They don’t wait around for federal help. Tough people who work together.

  11. Thistlebreath

    We planted a Chestnut in 1980 in a Detroit suburb. Last time I looked via Zillow, it was over 30′ high. For the first half of my life, I carted around an 1855 ‘parlor grand’ 66 key piano made in Schenectady, NY from Rosewood stained Chestnut. The boards used for its case were over 14 inches wide.

    A magnum opus that’s anchored by the American Chestnut is “The Overstory,” a novel by Richard Powers. An astounding piece of writing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A magnum opus that’s anchored by the American Chestnut is “The Overstory,”

      I have a copy. I guess I should read it. I don’t read enough books nowadays and I need get back in the habit.

      1. Mildred Montana

        If you eventually try to get back in the habit, my advice is to go easy at first. That’s what I do. Magazines or true-crime books until my attention-span is geared up to tackle something more challenging.

  12. Adam

    My anecdata Covid report for today. Wife went in for an endoscopy this morning. None of the staff (nor any of the other patients except for one couple) were wearing masks with many of them coughing up a storm including the receptionist and I had to ask them to wear masks around my wife when she had the procedure. I’m hoping they did but there was no way to tell. In the recovery room when I went in to check on my wife, I had to ask again. The friendly nurse did but the doctor would not. Very frustrating.

    The kicker: we received an email from the Anesthesiologist’s firm demanded payment up front of their estimation of what insurance wouldn’t cover otherwise there could be a ‘delay in providing services’. Needless to say we paid up.

    1. ambrit

      Turn around and sue the anesthesiologist’s office for “extortion” and “mental pain and suffering.”

    2. aletheia33

      after repeated “practice” with annoying pushback, i’ve learned to ask in advance, politely, at the time of scheduling all medical appointments. my script is more or less as follows:

      “i have a request regarding my appointment–can all the providers who will be in a room with me be wearing an N95 mask, as i have an immune condition that makes me vulnerable to infection.” . . . “yes, i understand that masking is no longer required, and you will need to check with everyone to see if they’re willing. and so i would appreciate it if you could do that and then let me know, as i may not be able to come in if this need will not be accommodated.”

      so far, so good. no one has refused or failed to follow through at the time of the appointment. this may not be so easy to bring about at big city hospitals, but it’s worked for me both at my very small local rural hospital and at the high-level major hospital located further away, where i have to go when i cannot get the care i need locally.

      FWIW i am not formally disabled under the ADA (USG only very rarely approves that for chronic fatigue syndrome), but i do have multiple system health problems, including immune problems, that have conditioned my life for decades. i theorize that using the terms “accommodation” and “need” makes staff a little nervous, inclining them to politely agree to follow up and get back to me and to be somewhat unsure of the possible consequences of refusing my request.

      and when asking in advance, i am dealing with a receptionist, who usually knows nothing of the reasons for the rules she (they are usually women) must follow and cannot make any decisions regarding patients’ needs. asking in advance gives her (and everyone else) some time to process my request, instead of simply denying it in the heat of the moment when they’re caught up in their habitual routine of checking the patient in or of moving the patient along out of the waiting area and into the area of “care”.

      1. Late Introvert

        Thanks aletheia33, this is a very good post and I nominate it for a future We Like You email.

  13. Bugs

    Love those Real Madrid masks but they’re used to simulate high altitude training, not anything to do with Covid. I’ll stick with the easily available FFP2 here (behind head elastic) that I have unfortunately had to put back on in all situations except outdoors after only using it in places I judged had poor air exchange. Luckily rural French people seem to agree with me and masking has reappeared all over my neck of the woods. This sucks. Ymmv.

  14. Carla

    Re: The Senile State
    “Successful politicians simply do not have as much time to read widely and consider alternate viewpoints as they did when they were college students or young activists. The day-to-day work of DIALING FOR DOLLARS takes up most of their time and energy.”

    There. Fixed it for ya.

  15. flora

    re: Eastern Meadowlark song.

    I love both the Eastern and the Western Meadowlark song. Both are wonderful. Thanks.

    1. flora

      adding, re:
      “Vermont’s dairy industry saved majority of milk supply during catastrophic storm” [VT Digger (JF)]

      When the highly educated “we know better” crowd goes wonky, the “we’re here on the ground” crowd does the correct things to get the job done. / imo.

      1. aletheia33

        as i recall, during irene i heard rumors of conflicts flaring between “guys with backhoes”, who just went right in and used their “ground” skills to make the roads passable ASAP, and what i might call the “guys with clipboards” who were responsible for rebuilding them, especially the many small bridges, in such ways as to make them better resistant to future floods, a project the VT government had decided on and of course would take longer because it would have to be done via the usual bureaucratic processes.

        what i’m hearing people say now is that the damage has not been as extensive this time around because so many bridges were rebuilt to those new specifications post-irene.

        and at the same time, those guys with their backhoes and their selfless determination to rescue their families and communities were doing the right thing. and i imagine we can assume they’ve been out there doing it again this summer.

    1. urdsama

      I think this person is being a bit misleading.

      Looks like he filmed on a weekend, when the Embarcadero is usually quiet.

      Not saying SF doesn’t have serious issues, but this appears to be in bad faith by the person who posted this footage.

      1. Late Introvert

        My friend works on the Embarcadero, for the state of Cali. It’s super busy during the week, but nobody else ever goes there any other time.

        I lived in SF from ’88 to ’03. Friends tell me it has gotten worse, but the apocalypse stories are projection from the scared PMC who know it’s coming for them next. And they have no solution, only finger pointing.

        I say let’s bring back both mental hospitals and flop houses. Yes, it will be messy and cost money. Too f’ing bad.

        1. JBird4049

          There is doom-scrolling and real exaggeration. However, my sense is that the city as a whole is losing businesses and that foot traffic has been declining for decades.

          It is not, or at least wasn’t, noticeable enough for a single year, but I absolutely have noticed the difference from 2000 onwards with the number of empty storefronts increasing each year. I am not sure just what all the property owners expected when they kept increasing the leasing costs, which drove out businesses that are not always replaced.

          I mean I started to notice that problem in North Beach twenty-five years ago and if that part of the city is having problems along with the increasing desolation of Market Street, which started before then, there really is a problem. I suggest that the decay is no longer hidden by the still heavy traffic of Market along the Financial district. Think of the homeless, which have been a thing for decades, but they really became unavoidable as they moved onto the desolate part of Market or moving into the Main Library across from City Hall, or spilling out of the Tenderloin.

  16. Will

    I was recently told that the news app for the JoongAng (formerly the JoongAng Ilbo), the largest daily in Korea, has been pushing alerts on rising Covid cases in Korea… and the US and Canada. Presumably those alerts are linked to stories from the newspaper.

    I have no idea where they get their data from, but it seems I’m going to have to learn Korean in order to perform my daily Covid risk assessment for life in Toronto.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “‘Like a boxing match’: Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom embrace ‘risk’ in surprise debate”

    I’d rather watch the upcoming cage fight between Musk and Zuckerberg. At least with those two, they would know what they are trying to do.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “The Old Guard – 10 Amazing Facts About Napoleon’s Most Celebrated Soldiers”

    And here is how the end came for the Old Guard at Waterloo when it came down to a last winner take all fight-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt4mYUKjzn0 (11:31 mins)

    From the 1970 movie “Waterloo” filmed in – wait for it – the Ukraine. They came up against other professional soldiers – the British Regiments – who did not run but stood their ground and even outflanked them. There was even a Young Guard so I guess the idea was to make it a generational thing. The music being played as they marched is the famous ‘la victoire est a nous.’

  19. Wukchumni

    “if a debtor refuses to repay the money that he has borrowed, declaring that the signatures are false.”

    “All vices but one the young imitate of their own free will; avarice alone is enjoined on them against the grain. For that vice has a deceptive appearance and semblance of virtue, being gloomy of mien, severe in face and garb. The miser is openly commended for his thrift, being deemed a saving man, who will be a surer guardian of his own wealth than if it were watched by the dragons of the Hesperides or of Colchis. Moreover, such a one is thought to be skilled in the art of money-getting.”

    “No human passion has mingled more poison-bowls, none has more often wielded the murderous dagger, than the fierce craving for unbounded wealth. For the man who wants wealth must have it at once; what respect for laws, what fear, what sense of shame is to be found in a miser hurrying to be rich?”


  20. ChrisRUEcon


    “With Newsom not running for president, DeSantis is taking time to confront an opponent who isn’t actually an opponent for 2024.”

    Welcome to my parlor, said the spider to the fly … so no one on #TeamDeSantis has the temerity to ask, “Why would Newsom be engaging in a debate if he doesn’t intend to run?”

    I feel another reboot coming …

  21. Wukchumni

    If you ever plan to motor west
    Travel my way, take the highway that is best
    Get your kicks on route M 06

    It winds from Kyiv to Mukachevo
    More than 450 miles all the way
    Get your kicks on route M 06

    Now you go through Zhytomyr
    Zviahel, Korets
    And Rivne is mighty pretty
    You see Dubno,
    Brody & Lviv
    Stryi, Skole
    Don’t forget Skaliava
    Uzhhorod, and make chop-chop to Chop
    Won’t you get hip to this timely tip
    When you make that Ukraine trip
    Get your kicks on route M 06

    Won’t you get hip to this timely tip:
    When you make that run for more ammo trip
    Get your kicks on route M 06
    Get your kicks on route M 06
    Get your kicks on route M 06

    Route 66, performed by Chuck Berry


  22. Carolinian

    Interesting new Construction Physics on how Los Angeles became Auto-opolis. It was a late bloomer that grew up around street cars rather than walking and therefore lacked the density of cities like NYC. When the streetcars became increasingly congested and impractical people turned to cars. LA then set the pattern for other cities around the country.


    1. Wukchumni

      I duked it out with about 100 million other spermatozoa and prevailed right around the same time the last Red Car ran in LA, coincidence?

      …I think not

      1. The Rev Kev

        I had a different strategy. I shouted to those other 100 million spermatozoa ‘Look – a Chinese balloon!’ and while they were looking, I ducked away with a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes I saw Roger Rabbit too but–and the article is really a book review conveying the book’s viewpoint–I’d say the notion that Americans are never going to take public transit unless they have to is hard to refute. Yes some LA streetcars were still hanging on by the 30s but the public had already spoken in favor of cars and objected to the public transit subsidies that have always been necessary in the big cities. Whereas they were a lot more willing to pay gas tax subsidies so they could cruise main street in their 57 Chevys.

        I say all this because we out here in the heartland lived it. Take away our guns but our big metal monsters no way. Where I live the stupid things are even getting bigger. Only $10 gas will stop this and might then start that revolution the PMC are so worried about.

      2. Late Introvert

        Even my small Upper Midwest college town ripped out the streetcars. Rundell St. still shows visual evidence of the long-gone tracks. On the upside, buses are free here now. For the next 3 years, paid for with Covid funds.

  23. ChrisRUEcon

    #DeSantisVNewsomDebate #PartDeux

    … which brings me to my follow-up question:

    Is this debate a trial balloon of sorts for the #HouseOfTupac?!

    In other words … if Newsom performs well, do we advance to the next level of the game?

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Thanks for the #WaPo #LongCOVID article … nice of them to leave it beyond the paywall.

      I’ve re-X’d it as a #mustRead for today.

  24. The Rev Kev

    “All the News the CIA Sees Fit to Print”

    If The Washington Post investigative reporter, Bob Woodward and CNN host Wolf Blitzer are wandering unattended through secure areas of the CIA HQ building, then it can only mean that they are both working for the CIA. Maybe not as actual agents but as good as in that they are conduits for whatever Langley wants broadcast to the public. Nice to know.

  25. Victor Sciamarelli

    Interesting to learn, “Three In Four Americans Think We Live In A Divided Nation” especially considering Abraham Lincoln’s prescient phrase “A house divided cannot stand.” And while RFK, Jr., has made it a top priority of his campaign to end the division among Americans, he is ignored by the DNC.

    1. Mike Mc

      RFK Jr & Cornel West will be invisibled (my term) by the DNC unless Joe Biden dies, strokes out or is otherwise incapacitated. Voting for a barely President Harris could be a hard pass for the bluest of Team Blue.

      My pet tin foil hat theory was that 1) Harris would be taken out by some scandal; 2) Mayo Pete would be named as replacement VP; 3) Biden would decline to run if not disabled and 4) DNC would unite behind Pete and prolly Booker or Jeffries as his VP.

      OTOH all hell breaking loose in both Dem and GOP ranks seems increasingly possible; my Magic Eight Ball keeps saying, “Ask again later.” Oy.

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