2:00PM Water Cooler 8/9/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Meadowlark, Big Rock Forest Preserve, Kane, Illinois, United States. “Calls given while perched at the top of a dead tree, approximately 18m above ground.”

* * *

Look for the Helpers

We need more doctors like this:

Last Friday, I wrote:

I don’t want Water Cooler to be an exercise in doomscrolling. That’s why there are birds at the top, in the sky, and plants at the bottom, for the earth. That said, the world isn’t in the best shape, and we do have to report that clearly, especially in the face of denial, minimization, layers of impacted PMC bullshit. That said, “”if it bleeds, it leads,”” meaning that our famously free press has little incentive to report good news beyond clickbait-y heartwarming anecdotes. That’s one reason I invented, quoting Mr. Rogers, “”Look for the helpers”” in the Covid section; to relieve the bleakness. Let’s expand the principle!

Links to stories about helpers are also good:

If readers wish to send me more links or photos of helpers in action, you can mail me with “”Helpers”” in the subject line. Could be Covid, could be any situation. Even helpful animals!


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

Biden Administration

“Why Did Biden Elevate CIA Director William Burns to His Cabinet?” [Tablet]. “Moving Burns into the cabinet should therefore be understood not as giving the CIA ‘a credibility boost,’ as The New York Times put it, but as a further normalization of the agency’s emergent role as a policy actor. Sanctioning and highlighting the agency’s political role poses a danger to its longtime mission of providing the president with clear, unbiased information and analysis. It is also dangerous for the American public, which faces an increased risk from a powerful foreign intelligence bureaucracy that is being positioned as an actor within the domestic sphere. Before 9/11, the CIA director could plausibly serve in the cabinet—as a representative from an outside agency providing data to the White House—without also assuming the more political role of serving on the president’s team. But while the formal ban on CIA involvement in domestic affairs remains, it has become all but empty of significance. The post-9/11 doctrine of interagency “”intelligence sharing”” and the formation of the now 18-member intelligence community means the CIA can and does hand off domestic intelligence it gathers and formulates to the FBI. The CIA-led intelligence community remains wounded and publicly compromised, moreover, by the insistence of so many eminent former intelligence chiefs in the days before the 2020 election that the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop was a Russian information operation, and thus a legitimate cause for both social media censorship and a journalistic blackout. Burns was not complicit in this now-infamous episode, but neither has he attempted (or been allowed) to acknowledge or apologize for it. If President Biden is in fact concerned with restoring the CIA’s credibility, he would do better to keep it outside his cabinet rather than brazenly welcoming it in.”


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“US judge sets hearing on evidence in Trump’s 2020 election case” [Reuters]. “Friday’s hearing comes after Trump’s defense team on Monday opposed a request from prosecutors for Chutkan to impose a protective order to ensure confidential evidence is not shared publicly by Trump, suggesting he could use the information to intimidate witnesses. Trump has pleaded not guilty and called the charges politically motivated. Trump’s attorneys said limits would infringe on his right to free speech, protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Trump is not expected to be present in the courtroom on Friday, after Chutkan waived his appearance. Typically, defense lawyers do not oppose such protective orders because doing so can delay the government from producing the evidence it intends to use at trial in a process known as discovery.” • It’s a nice point. If Trump’s Presidential run would have turned into a running commentary on the court proceedings, and a gag order prevented that, what are the First Amendment implications, especially given the presumption of innocence?

“Trump wants his election case moved out of D.C., pronto. That won’t be easy” [Reuters]. “Two major obstacles stand in the former president’s way. The first is 1976 appellate precedent from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, rejecting arguments by Watergate defendants H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and John Mitchell that their jury was tainted by bias and pre-trial publicity. The second is a heap of recent rulings by trial judges in federal court in Washington who have applied precedent from the Watergate case to deny venue transfer motions by defendants in criminal cases arising from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol…. In case after case involving accused Jan. 6 participants, including high-profile Oath Keeper defendants, trial judges have cited the appellate court’s directive in the Watergate case that their circuit’s ‘well-established procedure’ is to deny transfer motions until prospective jurors are questioned about their impartiality. Not a single Washington federal judge has agreed to transfer a Jan. 6 case out of the district before voir dire.”

“Numb to Trump: Data shows drop in scandal interest” [Axios]. “The public’s attention to former President Trump’s legal drama has declined with each subsequent indictment, according to new data pulled across television, social media and search activity… ‘The bombast and howling accusations after each charge, the lurid threats and endless victimologies, the mind numbing repetition of it all… is supposed to do just that: numb the mind so that sense making feels impossible and paying attention seems pointless,’ New York University’s Jay Rosen told Axios in an email.

‘There’s a name for it: flooding the zone with crap. It’s supposed to exhaust whatever interest we once had in following the news,’ Rosen added.” • Jay Rosen said that?

“Why wouldn’t people see politics in Trump indictments?” [Washington Examiner]. “A new pollfrom CBS News and YouGov… asked this question: “Which concerns you more right now: 1) That Donald Trump tried to overturn a presidential election, [or] 2) That the charges and indictment against Donald Trump are politically motivated, [or] 3) Both.” Thirty-eight percent said they were more concerned that Trump tried to overturn an election. And then a precisely equal number, 38%, said they were more concerned that the charges and indictment against Trump are politically motivated. And then 24% said they were equally concerned by both…. The bottom line is that many, many people see the Trump prosecutions as politically motivated. That does not mean they deny any Trump culpability. They just also see the obvious fact that the prosecutions have a large political component. They then believe, or suspect, that an action so clearly political might have a political motive behind it.”

“Opinion: Why Georgia might beat the feds at holding Trump accountable” [Los Angeles Times]. “You might be tempted to see these criminal proceedings in state courts as a superfluous sideshow to Trump’s federal indictment on charges related to overthrowing the 2020 election. In fact, these parallel cases are essential to protecting American democracy in three ways. [First,] even a newly inaugurated President Trump could not fire Fani Willis, the Georgia district attorney investigating his crimes in that state — or any other state official [and] state crimes are not subject to pardon by the president…. Second, Trump is not the only person who allegedly engaged in election subversion in 2020 and 2021, and the states are likely to be the most promising path for holding the others accountable too…. Finally, the state prosecutions remind us that American elections are decentralized and that the safeguarding of our democracy cannot just be the responsibility of the federal government.” • Every time I hear a Democrat say “our democracy” my back teeth itch. Still, good arguments.

“Previously Secret Memo Laid Out Strategy for Trump to Overturn Biden’s Win” [DNYUZ]. “The false electors’ scheme was perhaps the most sprawling of Mr. Trump’s various efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It involved lawyers working on his campaign’s behalf across seven states, dozens of electors willing to claim that Mr. Trump — not Mr. Biden — had won their states, and open resistance from some of those potential electors that the plan could be illegal or even ‘appear treasonous.’ In the end, it became the cornerstone of the indictment against Mr. Trump. While another lawyer — John Eastman, described as Co-Conspirator 2 in the indictment — became a key figure who championed the plan and worked more directly with Mr. Trump on it, Mr. Chesebro was an architect of it. He was first enlisted by the Trump campaign in Wisconsin to help with a legal challenge to the results there.'” • Chesebro is “Co-Conspirator 5.”

“For Washington Post’s Feared ‘Pinocchio’ Fact Checker, Forthrightness Dies in ‘Updates’ to Biden-Burisma Story” [RealClearPolitics]. “All told, the Post has run six corrections across its original and revised Kessler stories about the laptop emails and the Biden-Burisma dinner…. Despite the rolling disclosures reaching a critical mass, the Post has not published a separate news story examining its own errors, which misinformed voters ahead of the November 2020 presidential election and continued to mislead the public deep into the Biden presidency.”

* * *

“Ramaswamy first GOP presidential candidate to qualify for debate with pledge to support eventual party nominee” [FOX]. “The signing of a Republican Party pledge that all candidates will eventually support the party’s presidential nominee is underway, with White House hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy becoming the first to agree to the language drawn up by the Republican National Committee (RNC)…. According to the pledge, candidates must affirm they will only appear in debates sanctioned by the RNC, and, should they fail to sign the pledge or participate in a non-RNC sanctioned debate, they will not be able to participate in any further party sanctioned debates. ‘Additionally, I affirm that if I do not win the 2024 Republican nomination for President of the United States, I will honor the will of the primary voters and support the 2024 Republican presidential nominee in order to save our country and beat Joe Biden,’ the pledge goes on to say. ‘I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party,’ it adds.”

“Doug Burgum super PAC drops almost $4 million ad campaign in early voting states” [Washington Examiner]. “The Best of America PAC announced a $3.9 million television ad campaign in New Hampshire and Iowa on Wednesday, which will pay for the airtime of a 30-second spot that previously aired last month. ‘Governor Burgum is the conservative governor and business leader our country needs to unlock the best of America,’ said Emily Benavides, Best of America PAC spokeswoman, in a statement. ‘As we look forward to Governor Burgum’s debut on the debate stage later this month, we’re making sure New Hampshire and Iowa know that he will turn around our economy, unleash American energy, and rebuild our military so we can win the Cold War with China.'” • Woo hoo!

* * *

“Biden incorrectly claims he has declared a national emergency on climate” [CNN]. “President Joe Biden incorrectly claimed in an interview with The Weather Channel that he has already declared a national emergency on the climate crisis. ‘I’ve already done that,’ Biden said when asked whether he intends to do declare a climate emergency. ‘We’ve conserved more land, we’ve rejoined the Paris Climate Accords, we’ve passed the $368 billion climate control facility. We’re moving. It is the existential threat to humanity.’ When pressed again on whether he had actually declared a national emergency, Biden said: ‘Practically speaking, yes.'” • After a cue like that, Biden senses danger, and pivots to “practically speaking.”

“Biden’s health care wins are being undone — and at the worst possible time” [Politico]. “States across the country, both blue and red, are purging their Medicaid programs of millions of low-income enrollees for the first time in three years, after a pandemic policy meant to prevent vulnerable people from suddenly losing health coverage expired earlier this spring.” Needless to say, this policy was put in place under the Trump Administration; IIRC, the CARES Act. More: “Nearly 4 million Americans have been cut from Medicaid in the last three months, most of whom lost their insurance over paperwork issues. The number is projected to balloon to 15 million by this time next year, according to official estimates, though some now fear the final toll will be even bigger.” PMC gatekeepers at work. More: “The mass terminations, which together represent the biggest reshuffling of the health insurance landscape since Obamacare, come as Covid cases rise again and Biden embarks on a reelection campaign built around convincing working-class voters they’re better off than before.” • Idea: Let’s eliminate universal concrete material benefits:

The “European-Style Welfare State,” again, was built by the CARES Act under the Trump Administration. And all we get from Democrats about dismantling it is hand-wringing and that old standby, “no political will.”

“Comer Releases Third Bank Memo Detailing Payments to the Bidens from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine” (press release) [House Committee on Oversight and Accountability] (full memo). Plenty of detail about Burisma, but this item stands out:

In April 2014, a Kazakhstani Oligarch Wired the Exact Price of Biden’s Sportscar to a Bank Account Used by Archer and Biden: In February 2014, Hunter Biden met with Kenes Rakishev at a Washington, D.C. hotel. Rakishev worked closely with the prime minister of Kazakhstan, Karim Massimov. In April, Rakishev, a Kazakhstani oligarch, wired $142,300 to Rosemont Seneca Bohai. The next day, a payment was made from Rosemont Seneca Bohai for a sportscar for Hunter Biden in the amount of $142,300.  Archer and Biden then arranged for Burisma executives to visit Kazakhstan in June 2014 to evaluate a three-way deal among Burisma, a Chinese state-owned company, and the government of Kazakhstan.

“Impeaching a Trump Impeachment” [Wall Street Journal]. “Of Hunter’s several windfalls, his Burisma earnings most directly leveraged his father’s role, most directly link to a specific act by his father (the Shokin firing), and provide the most direct credence to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment defense, concerning his phone call to President Zelensky fishing for information about Biden dealings in Ukraine…. There’s some new news here. Mr. Trump may well have been informed by Attorney General William Barr about the Burisma insider who spoke to the FBI—which means Mr. Trump both can keep a secret and had a stronger foundation for his request to Mr. Zelensky, whose cooperation he sought in an FBI investigation that we now know was under way in response to the confidential informant’s testimony. Hmmm. The White House’s latest defense implicitly allows that Joe may have discussed business with Hunter but he wasn’t “”in business”” with Hunter. Plenty of room to maneuver is permitted if the facts show Joe did everything and anything to facilitate Hunter’s “”illusion of access”” short of selling an official act or joining Hunter’s payroll.” • “[M]ay well have been informed.” It would be irresponsible not to speculate. Commentary on Burisma:

“Kamala Harris Coming to Vineyard for Campaign Fundraiser” [Vineyard Gazette]. “The exact time and location of the [August 12] fundraiser, titled ‘A Grassroots Reception,’ were not disclosed in the invitation…. Ms. Leeds, one of the hosts, is a presidential appointee on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts and the CEO of Winning Strategies, LLC, a public affairs and political consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Ms. Fulp is the founder of Fulp Diversity and was the U.S. representative to the United Nations general assembly under President Barack Obama. Tickets for the event ranged from $50 to $10,000.” • Grassroots, totally. The summer workers can buy the $50 tickets, and summer visitors the $10,000 ones. I wonder who’ll be doing the catering? Obama’s cook?

* * *

Cornel West in good form:

RFK on pandemics:

Ivermection and hydrochloroquine have entered the chat.

* * *

“The 2024 Election Will Break New Ground” [Wall Street Journal]. “We are living in an unprecedented era of close presidential elections. In the 17 races between 1920 and 1984, the winner prevailed in the popular vote by 10 points or more on 10 occasions, and by 20 points or more five times. In the nine elections since, no winner has come close to a 10-point margin of victory, and on two occasions the candidate with a plurality of the popular vote lost the Electoral College. During this period, the number of truly contested swing states declined sharply, to only eight by 2020. A shift of 43,000 votes in Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona, states Mr. Biden carried by wafer-thin margins, would have yielded a tie in the Electoral College, throwing the election to the House for the first time since the 1824 election. Public opinion surveys thus far are pointing to yet another close contest whose outcome will be determined by narrow margins in the same states that became the sites of postelection legal struggles four years ago. Until the American people decide to award one party a majority that extends beyond a single presidency, today’s challenges to effective governance and national unity are all but certain to persist.” 

“House GOP 2024 strategy memo: We have to win in blue states” [Politico]. “Congressional Leadership Fund, a PAC aligned with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, has identified that about one-third of swing seats are in traditionally blue states. Republicans hold just a four-seat majority in Congress and will have to defend 13 seats in deep blue New York and California for the best chance to hold on to power in 2024. To aid in that effort, CLF is launching a ‘Blue State Project’ to compete in traditionally blue states…. Republicans in blue states will have a disadvantage when it comes to party infrastructure. CLF said it must create its own infrastructure focused on reaching ticket-splitting voters, building field programs to reach voters and investing in early voting, which Republicans have advised against in past cycles. The memo also told donors that CLF will need early funding to reserve television time in these comparably more expensive markets during the presidential year, which will also drive up rates. In addition to defending GOP gains in deep blue states, the Congressional Leadership Fund also identified offensive opportunities that it plans to invest in, starting with the open seats currently held by Democrats Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. It also said it plans to support challengers in the five seats held by Democrats that Donald Trump won in 2020.” • Interestingly, both Slotkin and Spanberger are CIA Democrats seeking higher office.

Obama Legacy

Query for the readership: Would Obama have invaded Ukraine, if he had been elected for a third term?

Democrats en Déshabillé

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

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

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

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

* * *

“The New York City mayor is having his Aaron Judge year after all. And it’s not good.” [Politico]. “Adams — not unlike the Yankees captain, who was sidelined by a toe injury in June and July — has struggled all summer. There is a law enforcement investigation into a former member of his administration. There’s a looming federal takeover of city jails. The City Council overrode his veto of affordable housing bills. And now migrants are sleeping on sidewalks in Manhattan as a crisis over their arrivals grows worse. The nonstop hits call into question Adams’ depiction of himself as a strong executive who is running the nation’s largest city competently after years of mismanagement. And if the problems continue to spiral, Adams could have what every New York City leader fears most — a one-term mayoralty. ‘It has been a difficult couple of months,’ Basil Smikle, the former executive director of the New York State Democratic Party, said in a phone interview. ‘He needs some victories. He really needs some ways to change the conversation.’ A high-ranking Adams administration official put it more bluntly. ‘Horrible,’ said the official about the mayor’s recent troubles. The official was granted anonymity to speak candidly about the boss.” • What a waste. The cop with the million-watt smile implodes…. 

Realignment and Legitimacy


“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!

* * *

Censorship and Propaganda

“It’s just the summer flu.” 

OK, so how come flu positivity is flat, and Covid’s is up (see Walgreen’s):

And how come outpatient visits are down, and Covid cases are up (Biobot wasterwater data):


“World’s largest cruise ship prepares to sail as COVID-hit industry rebounds” [Al Jazeera]. • We’re gonna need a bigger Petri dish.

The wheels of commerce turn:

“Intra-host variation in the spike S1/S2 region of a feline coronavirus type-1 in a cat with persistent infection” [bioRxiv]. I know this is not Covid! For NC on feline Coronavirus, see here. From the Abstract: “Our studies indicate that FCoV-1 can independently persist in the gastrointestinal tract and heart of a cat over a long period of time without evidence of typical FIP signs, with intermittent viral shedding from the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.” • I am reminded of alert reader Roger Blakely’s comment yesterday.


“A Systematic Review of Persistent Clinical Features After SARS-CoV-2 in the Pediatric Population” [Pediatrics]. Meta-study. “Twenty seven cohorts and 4 cross-sectional studies met the inclusion criteria and involved over 15 000 pediatric participants. A total of more than 20 persistent symptoms and clinical features were reported among children and adolescents. 16.2% (95% confidence interval 8.5% to 28.6%) of the pediatric participants experienced 1 or more persistent symptom(s) at least 3 months post COVID-19. Female gender might be associated with developing certain long COVID symptoms.”


“The effectiveness of antimicrobial mouthwashes in reducing viral load in saliva of COVID-19 patients” [News Medical Life Sciences]. We reviewed the study covered by this article yesterday, but it makes a point I should have made: “Although mouthwashes reduce viral load in the saliva of SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals, the virus continues to replicate in the upper respiratory epithelia, thereby restoring viral loads in the saliva.” • Mouthwash, therefore, complements nasal sprays and washes, but does not replace them.

“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.

* * *

“Vascular Dysfunctions Contribute to the Long-Term Cognitive Deficits Following COVID-19” [Biology]. A literature review. From the Conclusion: “In summary, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can invade the brain and exert its neurological manifestation through binding to ACE2 on nerve cells and endothelial cells. A sound body of evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 impairs vascular integrity through direct or indirect viral infection, leading to endothelium damage and augmenting vascular penetrability in peripheral vessels, disrupting the [Blood Brain Barrier (BBB)] integrity and the CNS function. Given the evidence, the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen can induce cognitive impairment via vascular dysfunction, disruption of the BBB, interruption of oxygen supply, dissemination of intravascular coagulation, and neuro-inflammation. Taken together, the long-term cognitive consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection, to some extent, may be due to disruption of micro-structural and functional brain vasculatures during COVID-19 illness and in the recovery stages. In addition to the present evidence, future studies are needed to discover the exact long-term cognitive deficits in patients with COVID-19 and their probable mediator mechanisms.”


Elite Maleficence

The smile of a predator:

Handwashing. In 2023:

What an absolute disgrace. Shame LA Public Health, who understand neither airborne nor asymptomatic transmission. And in a city of four million! The brilliant contact page seems designed to avoid contact tranmission — there’s no phone — but here’s an email address: LiaisonCOVID19@ph.lacounty.gov. And speaking of Los Angeles–

“COVID-19 is ‘heating up all around’ this summer. Should we be wearing masks again?” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘Even though the declared emergency is over, COVID is still circulating — and it probably will be for quite some time. And so if you really don’t want to get sick, you can protect yourself by wearing a mask when you’re indoors,’ said Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County public health director and health officer. ‘But it’s, at this point, an individual decision.’ Wearing masks, even only on occasion in the highest-risk environments, can help ‘because the more people are together, the greater the chance that one of those people is going to be infectious and spread COVID to others,’ Cody said. That advice hasn’t changed, even with the end of the pandemic emergency. Cody fell ill with COVID-19 in February after eating in an indoor dining hall at her daughter’s college during a family weekend. Cody remembered pondering the risk at the time. ‘I just stood out there and thought, like, if I go in and dine at this event, I’m at risk. On the other hand, if I go in with my mask, and don’t dine, that’s not going to be really lovely for my daughter,”” she said. ‘And so I just thought about it, and I made a decision, you know: I just thought, for her, I’ll just take off my mask and go have lunch. And then I got COVID. I understood the risk. And I decided that for this particular event that was very meaningful to my daughter, that I dined like every other parent, I decided it was worth the risk. Cody said that after that experience, she generally keeps her mask on in indoor public venues, but ‘if there’s a social event where I think it’s really, really important to me, and if it’s not too crowded, and the ventilation seems OK, I might make an exception.'” • A tragic story, because Cody was early and right at the start of the pandemic. The “understand the risk” argument is wrong. What Cody means — and this is the whole “personal risk assessment” paradigm — is the risk to herself, personally. But what about the risk to others? What about those who Cody infected while she was pre- or asymptomatic? What if Cody herself was a superspreader?

* * *

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…. 


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, August 2:

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: 1,170,792 – 1,170,784 = 8 (8 * 365 = 2920 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

NOT UPDATED The Economist, August 6:

Lambert here:  No longer updated daily, for three days. Still 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

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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The Bezzle: “What’s the Deal With Sensor Tower?” [Daring Fireball]. “I wrote earlier this week about the onslaught of “”turns out Threads is a bust”” news stories following in the wake of ‘Threads launches as a sensational hit’ stories. One thing that’s struck me while following this is just how many of these stories cite Sensor Tower data. But how much should we take Sensor Tower’s usage data at face value?” Many reason now given why the Sensor Tower data isn’t a good proxy for Threads users. More: “We can judge the accuracy of, say, political pollsters by comparing their data to the actual results of elections. There’s no such reckoning for the usage data published by Sensor Tower and their ilk. It’s all unverifiable, but never reported as such. The news media so badly wants to know usage data that they just accept Sensor Tower and other such firms’ pronouncements at face value, without ever describing — let alone questioning — how they ostensibly know what they claim to know about very private data.”

Tech: “3 websites go live every second” [Anadolu Agency]. “With over 1 billion active websites worldwide, three new websites are launched every second, with Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter featuring as the most visited sites on the internet. According to data from the webpage building website Siteefy, 10,500 websites are launched every hour worldwide, 175 sites every minute, and three sites every second. Among the websites across the world, 18% (nearly 202 million) of them are used actively. Each day, 252,000 new websites are created, equaling 10,500 sites per hour, 175 sites per minute, and three sites per second going live Based on data from similarweb.com, ‘google.com’ is the most-visited site globally, followed by ‘youtube.com,’ ‘facebook.com,’ ‘instagram.com,’ and ‘twitter.com.’ Regarding average visit durations, users spend approximately 10 minutes and 38 seconds on Google, 20 minutes and 25 seconds on YouTube, 10 minutes and 43 seconds on Facebook, 8 minutes and 22 seconds on Instagram, and 10 minutes and 47 seconds on Twitter.” • Interesting that Twitter ranks so high.

Supply Chain: A tornado struck a Pfizer warehouse, and you’ll never guess what happened next:

Supply Chain: “How Yellow’s Downfall Is Rippling Through the Economy” [Wall Street Journal]. “Yellow was a $5.2 billion business as recently as last year when it moved around 50,000 shipments a day in a trucking network that made it a fundamental part of the supply chains of hundreds of U.S. companies.” Well worth a read. Here’s the real estate angle: “Those and other trucking companies may also pick up some of Yellow’s sprawling real estate holdings, including the dozens of truck terminals the carrier has accumulated around the U.S. to move freight. Many of them are in prime locations near population centers and will hit the market at a time when building new trucking facilities faces pushback in communities.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 9 at 1:13 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Florida school district to only teach excerpts from Shakespeare under new regulations” [Sky News]. • Meanwhile, children should be exposed to lethal pathogens to toughen up their immune systems. It’s a funny old world.

The Gallery

Class Warfare

“Why are actors making movies during the strike? What to know about SAG-AFTRA waivers” [Associated Press]. • Because they’re scabs.

News of the Wired

“Could walking extend your lifespan? – study” [Jerusalem Post]. “Public health and sports medicine specialists have recommended that people walk 10,000 steps a day to promote good health. But that number doesn’t seem to be holy. The number of steps you should walk every day to start seeing benefits to your health is lower than previously thought, according to the largest analysis ever to investigate this. The study, just published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that walking an average of at least 3,967 steps a day started to reduce the risk of dying from any cause, and 2,337 steps a day reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. The new analysis of 226,889 people from 17 different studies around the world has shown that the more you walk, the greater the health benefits. The risk of dying from any cause or from cardiovascular disease decreases significantly with every 500 to 1000 extra steps you walk. An increase of 1,000 steps a day was associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of dying from any cause, while an increase of 500 steps a day was associated with a 7% reduction in dying from heart disease and stroke.” • Meta-analysis. Nevertheless! Be sure to look up at the sky, not down at your feet!

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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 EM:

EM writes: “How we doing? From Ireland.”

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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

    Be sure to look up at the sky, not down at your feet!

    That would be nice, but my walking path has too many lifts in the sidewalk and if I’m not careful and looking down, I’ll trip.

    I messed up my knee once…don’t want to do that again.

    1. Carla

      Yeah, I broke my wrist that way in 2007 — have a titanium plate and 10 screws in there. By 2021, I forgot again, tripped and fell, suffering a slight arm fracture — fortunately, no surgery needed the second time. I look up at the sky when I’m sitting down.

      1. mr walker

        small tips from a person who does a lot of running (not me): when tying one’s shoe laces, before the bow stage, lap the laces not just once; but two or even three times. The added friction reduces the likelihood of shoelaces coming undone.

      2. Carla

        @Lambert — Maybe cities in Maine take better care of their sidewalks. Here in Ohio, it’s the responsibility of homeowners leading to uneven — and never in the good sense — results.

    2. Lee

      I stepped into a pothole on the sidewalk and the pain of the sprain put me in a state of shock for about an hour. I almost passed out and barely made it home just half a block away with the support of two broad shouldered walking companions. I do frequently look up but only after carefully surveying the ground ahead.

      1. Terry Flynn

        I feel for you. I have a degree of hypermobility – diagnosed by rheumatology consultant friend in the pub of all places (that made punters laugh) – and unfortunately I never did enough of the advised exercises to strengthen and stabilise ankle joints etc.

        Now in “pothole Britain” I live on constant alert when doing my walking for my health so I don’t get yet another sprain.

    3. Harold

      I fell while looking up at the stars while walking. Fortunately my knee injury was temporary, but boy was it painful going down the subway stairs for a week or two.
      Now I try to look at the sidewalk some feet ahead while walking, keeping my eyes moving, as we were taught to do in driving instruction. Also take care to pick up my feet and to wear shoes that are supportive and not loose. Falling is actually a cause of death among us olds.

    4. Mark Gisleson

      If you can look at the sky while walking, there must not be many dogs in your neighborhood.

    5. Art Vandalay

      Happy longevity as the wages of the Flaneur. A word I’d probably never have known were it not for our gracious host.

    6. Solar Hero

      Yeah – the Kamana method is you only look up when you are immobile – but you should be looking up, and therefore moving slower.

    7. Wukchumni

      Walked about 80,000 steps this past week and the High Sierra is jaw dropping beautiful with still a lot of snow in the upper climes and much of it of the ‘watermelon snow’ variety.

      I have no issues with looking up as I walk, and might have craned my neck from so much ogling, ha ha.

      Wildflowers are about 1 1/2 months later than usual on account of the winter of record for the past 125 years, and as varied and bountiful as i’ve ever seen in my 40 or so years of traipsing around the backcountry.

      The lay of some of the land we were on…


  2. IM Doc

    About the Pfizer warehouse being hit by a tornado and all the drugs that are on that list above regarding shortages.

    It is the absolute mission of the FDA to make certain that both safety and supply of drugs is absolutely secure. For years, there have been doctors like me screaming that we have a severe problem in this area. It just takes living through a critical drug shortage with a few of your patients to get your attention. Far too long, critical drugs and critical drug ingredients have been farmed out to China and India. We were assured this is totally fine and safe and there would be no disruptions. Please explain that to my multiple dozens of patients with ADD, diabetes, depression, asthma, cancer, and inflammatory conditions who cannot source critical medications in the past year. It is now a chunk of time every day for me to play “dial for dollars” trying to find them meds in other cities or even change to something else. In many cases, these shortages have been going on for more than a year. No sign of any improvement. Incompetence on a grand scale.

    And now this tornado. Just a few comments about items on that list. Dopamine and dobutamine are critical drugs in cardiac arrest situations, congestive heart failure, sepsis and anesthesia. Bicarb is a critical drug on the crash carts for codes and anesthesia. There are multiple examples on that list, for instance, sodium acetate, that are IV bags that OTHER drugs like antibiotics and chemotherapy are put into to be given IV. If you do not have these bags, there may be nothing else compatible with the drug. Mixing and matching may not be an option and it may not even be legal. What I am saying is the loss of those types of agents will have tentacles into all kinds of medical therapy.

    How much would it cost to build 4 or 5 multiply redundant factories in the 4 corners of the lower 48 that would be able to easily supply the country with no issues and have the ability to escalate production if there is an event like this at 1 or 2 of them? Did anyone think of that 10 years ago when these massive drug shortages began to happen with regularity. Why yes they did indeed think of it and verbalize it…..and they were laughed out of conference rooms. I saw it with my own two eyes.

    Constructing 4 or 5 megafactories for generic pharma products. That would likely be in the billions to do complete – but I doubt it would be anywhere near the 100 billion or so already sent to the oligarchs in the Ukraine…….

    What a complete joke all of these regulatory agencies have become.

    The incompetence here is staggering. We as citizens have allowed this to happen, and I fear that consequences are on the way.

    1. Carla

      1. Because markets.
      2. Go die.

      I wrote those rules of neoliberalism (did they originate with Lambert?) in a comment on a NYT article. They didn’t publish my comment.

    2. Paradan

      How much would it cost to build 4 or 5 multiply redundant factories in the 4 corners of the lower 48 that would be able to easily supply the country with no issues and have the ability to escalate production if there is an event like this at 1 or 2 of them? Did anyone think of that 10 years ago when these massive drug shortages began to happen with regularity. Why yes they did indeed think of it and verbalize it…..and they were laughed out of conference rooms. I saw it with my own two eyes.

      Constructing 4 or 5 megafactories for generic pharma products. That would likely be in the billions to do complete – but I doubt it would be anywhere near the 100 billion or so already sent to the oligarchs in the Ukraine…….

      I’ve been thinking this exact same thing, almost all chemicals start with the same half dozen or so basic ingredients (sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, ammonia, etc.). Environmentalists would throw a fit cause it’s a waste generating industry, but the goods outweigh the bads. We need like a TVA for pharmaceuticals.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Could it also produce cheap generic drugs for repurposing, y’know, like the ones that were so demonized recently?

      2. Paradan

        BTW I’d like to take a moment to add a similar upcoming issue here…

        War with China. WTF do these psychopaths think is gonna happen when we start sinking Chinese ships? Every hospital in America will run out of critical supplies in a week or two. A year or so of this and excess deaths will be in the millions. Alternative suppliers exist, but will not be able to scale up in time. Also they won’t want to invest in the necessary capital to scale up, since the war will be over soon. Whats was it they said in 1914, “It’ll all be over by Christmas”. No doubt the Neocons plan to use these deaths to stir up support for the war.

        1. digi_owl

          Maybe they plan on issuing letters of marque, so that any cargo outbound from China can be redirected to a US controlled port?

        2. Carla

          “excess deaths will be in the millions”

          Probably fine with our elites. They’ll make sure they have what they need. Everybody else can Go Die. But after a number of weeks or months, it will hit them: Omigod! Who’s going to clean the house? And a few weeks after that: Uh, who’s producing food?

    3. some guy

      Would the private business community which has captured and which directs all these regulatory agencies permit them to build any such large ( presumably publicly owned) factories for this or any other reason?

      Wouldn’t the current privatism-biased orientation of government forbid the building of any such thing?

      If so, is it really fair to blame all these regulatory agencies if they have zero say in the matter?

      1. IM Doc

        I believe at least two times this past 5 years, severe drug shortages of one kind or another have been blamed on hurricanes destroying or flooding plants.

      2. Rodeo Clownfish

        Most plants were closed down many years ago. Only a relative few remain compared to what was once on the island. The reason for the exodus is reduction in what were generous tax breaks for manufactures in PR.

    4. Verifyfirst

      “We as citizens have allowed this to happen”. What, pray tell, could I have done? Supported Democrats? Supported Republicans?

    5. Terry Flynn

      Totally agree. Some anecdata from across the pond showing things had already begun to deteriorate. For those depressed patients who respond to pharmaceuticals, there are always some who have to “go all the way up the treatment ladder” to a first generation MAOI antidepressant. To this day, older psychiatrists (in my experience) in UK, Australia and Sweden still swear by them and were never sweet-talked by glamorous sales reps who sold Prozac etc in the 80s.

      Systematic reviews have continued to show that the MAOI (most notably, but not exclusively in all patients, Tranylcypromine) is the most effective antidepressant ever invented. Of course most younger physicians were taught that MAOIs are “leech therapy” (the infamous but vastly overblown “cheese effect”). Obviously, patients who do silly stuff like going on mega “French soft cheese tasting weekends” shouldn’t be trusted with an MAOI but the typical effective clinical dose is now established in UK to largely discount diet restrictions.

      Tranylcypromine probably went off patent around time I was born. Yet the NHS is charged around £900 per month to treat me. I looked up USA prices. I’m not generally a fan of US healthcare but I found suppliers charging 10% of this. The UK needs a publicly owned generic supplier to stop this price gouging/predatory pricing. Already, the “other” main MAOI has largely been withdrawn because it must be refrigerated and supply chain disruption means supply to patients can’t be guaranteed.

      One final note that ties in with NC’s periodic pieces on the gut biome – MAOIs spurred a lot of this research since they act on gut and brain. If we let all our MAOI patients die off then we’ll have to relearn a bunch of lessons.

      1. ambrit

        Over here in the North American Deep South, (I speak from experience,) the public health agencies first resort when presented with depression in a patient was Prozac. I suffered the ravages of that evil drug just long enough to determine that, of the two, Prozaced into oblivion, or functionally depressed, I chose functionally depressed.
        In the public sphere at least, the policy seems to have been to take the easy way out. Like many drugs, it is overprescribed. It seems to have it’s place in a treatment regime, but it inhabits a fairly narrow treatment space in the generality of the patient population.
        As for ” If we let all our MAOI patients die off then we’ll have to relearn a bunch of lessons.” I suggest that, when all Terran human interactions are ‘financialized,’ then the cost to benefit ratio becomes the determining factor. Under such a system, there will be a Triage effect in control of the outcomes. A reasonably large cohort of the public will then be consigned to the Void. The ‘die off” of the MAOI patients is the lesson.
        Stay safe.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Sorry you had to endure that. Sadly it is very illustrative of what happened re SSRIs/SNRIs. They got licensed on basis of a biochemical model that was…… Let’s just say controversial….

          I sadly didn’t bookmark it but remember that NC linked to an article in recent years reporting that the clever biochemistry bods had worked out how these drugs REALLY work (in the relatively small segment of people for whom they are appropriate and to the small extent they do once side effects are considered). Of course this whole process was the wrong way round!

          You’re right about the die-off. It’s very very obviously being implemented in the UK. I have regularly looked up the number of scripts written in my city….. Let’s just say I can’t distinguish it from die offs among a cohort who were started on an MAOI 50 years ago. There are very very few “additions” to the cohort getting these meds. Which is very sad. I have to instruct every single physician I see about it to ensure they don’t give me MI/stroke by giving some fancy but hardly “stretching the boundaries” drug they now use but which interacts.

          But to end on a good note – my GP has just referred me to an immunologist for my long COVID!

  3. nippersdad

    IIRC, Burns’ Nyet means Nyet cable* was written during the Obama Administration when he was the Ambassador to Russia, a time in which Obama was saying that Russia had the advantage of proximity to any potential conflict with nearly unlimited ability to escalate (escalatory dominance, I think he called it). He was still saying that he was trying to implement the Minsk Accords as late as Feb. 2016.**

    “We are pressing hard to see Minsk fully implemented by the time the president leaves office,” said a senior administration official, referring to the pact brokered by France and Germany and signed by Ukraine and Russia. “We’re aiming for implementation during the second half of 2016.”

    So, no, in spite of the obvious pressure on him it did not look like he would have gone to war with Ukraine in a third term. That was Hillary’s bailiwick. As for Burns, his recent turn to the dark side has shown him to be a careerist neocon. He has supported this action as much as the more prominent members of the State Department. He just sold out.

    * https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/08MOSCOW265_a.html

    ** https://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/obama-ukraine-russia-putin-219783

  4. ambrit

    “Would Obama have invaded Ukraine, if he had been elected for a third term?”
    If either Malia or Sasha were on the board of Burisma he would have.
    Also, what function would Hillary have filled in the third Obama Presidency? Head of Homeland Security.

    1. nippersdad

      Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?

      You would get to bomb more people that way. Nothing sexier for her than to proclaim that she came, she saw and they died.

      1. ambrit

        I’m supposing that the Head of the Joint Chiefs has to be a career military officer. However, all is not lost, the Secretary of the Department of ‘Defense’ is usually a civilian. She would love that bailiwick. Think of all of the “voluntary contributions” to the Clinton Foundation the Military Industrial Complex would fund.
        War is a Racket, and Bill and Hillary are long time Racketeers.

    2. Carolinian

      Kunstler claims that once Joe steps aside Obama will be having his third term via controlling Kamala. Obama has kept his house in DC. I’m not sure whether this was a crack or Kunstler has serious information.

      And while I don’t like Obama I don’t think he would have invaded Ukraine or provoked a war the way Blinken/Biden did. After all Hillary tried to get him to attack Syria and he didn’t.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        > Kunstler claims that once Joe steps aside Obama will be having his third term via controlling Kamala.

        Kamala Harris will never be president … unless Biden croaks before leaving office.

        Kamala’s exit strategy is to go back to CA as governor by doing a swap with Newson to replace her on the 2024 Dem ticket.

  5. nippersdad

    Re: “Kamala Harris Coming to Vineyard for Campaign Fundraiser” [Vineyard Gazette]

    Good catch! That title of “Grassroots Fundraiser” in Martha’s Vineyard really does tell you all you need to know about whose “precious democracy” we are talking about. I hope that Cornell West sees that and puts it into his fundraising pitch. Wasn’t it Maya Angelou who said that “When they tell you who they are, listen to them the first time”?

    There is just no situational awareness at all there.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Wasn’t it Maya Angelou who said that “When they tell you who they are, listen to them the first time”?

      These are running around:

      “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

      “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

      “When people show you—or tell you—who they are, believe them the first time.”

      1. nippersdad

        Reading further one sees that it is being held at an undisclosed location. What? Does Dick Cheney have a house on Martha’s Vineyard? You really cannot tell the difference between these people anymore.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        I’ve always liked to ‘know more’ so my rule is: Don’t tell someone to shut up when they’re trying to tell you who they are. No clue who said that first but I think it may have Aesop.

    2. some guy

      As long as Obama is permitted to retain any legacy-credibility in the hearts and minds of millions of Black voters, it is doubtful that any of those millions would ever vote for West under any circumstance.

      Could West do something to “napalm-strike” Obama’s legacy-credibility and burn it all the way down to the ground? What if the West campaign were to say, at some strategic point, ” vote for West and help elect America’s first Black President”. Would that bring Obama screaming onto the public stage where West and West’s surrogates could hit Obama with all the most embarassing and credibility-destroying items from various Obama biographies, and cause Obama to melt down irrecoverably in public?

      Destroying the Obama reputation and then the Clinton reputation after that are important first steps in any effort to declintaminate and disobamafy the Democratic Party in particular and American politics in general. Until those two leaking political superfund sites are cleaned up, nothing else is possible on the non-Republican sides of the political battlespace.

      1. nippersdad

        If anyone is capable of that it would be Cornel West. His Occupy Wall Street debate at the Oxford Union is still must see TV, and if he brings that to a debate Obama, not to mention Biden, will have no place to hide.


        That is a napalm strike at the heart of the Democratic party if I ever saw one, and he does it with grace, charm and elan.

        1. Hepativore

          The trouble is, that many of the PMC Obots are so diehard in their lionization of Obama that any criticism or attempt to point out the fact that he was largely a Reaganite Republican with a “D” instead of the usual “R” next to his name will just cause them to reflexively put their proverbial fingers in their ears and disregard it.

          As an example of how far gone these sorts of people are, go on a place like Balloon Juice, a PMC haven. Any mention of “Cornel West” or not giving penance to St. Barack or St. Hillary there will quickly get you dogpiled as a Russian agent, Maga-hat-wearing, dudebro, Berniebagger.

          The sad thing is that these are the people that actually tend to vote in record numbers, and they will not listen to anything that does not come from the news anchors on CNN or MSNBC and the PMC universally thinks that Biden is doing a “great job” thanks to their invincible cognitive dissonance. Cornel West is a dirty word to them for daring to challenge the Democratic Party’s chosen one (Biden) if they even pay any attention to the fact that Cornel West even exists.

          1. nippersdad

            I have gotten into it with people like that before, and you are right, they are hard nuts to crack. I don’t expect much from them, but they do have problems answering the question of how they managed to get Bush Jr. twice and then Trump.

            We cannot all be Russian bots. If they want to remain viable as a party, they are going to need to answer that question. Clearly just insulting people is not getting the job done, so they are going to need another strategy.

          2. some guy

            i am not speaking here of the PMC robots. I am speaking of ordinary Black people, like some of my co-workers here at work. There are not enough PMCs to make all by themselves a decisive voting-bloc difference in a national election. But there are enough ordinary Black people. It is they who will change outcomes by either remaining in thrall to the memory of the Sainted Obama and the Sainted Clintons . . . or by setting their minds and memories free.

            And it is they whom West would have to figure out how to reach and in whose eyes West would have to get Obama to self-immolate its own public persona and reputation.
            Obama, Clyburn and all the others will be instructing all those millions to never ever vote for West under any circumstances because of the deadly danger of a Trump re-election.

            I myself might consider that deadly danger deadly enough to be worth voting against.
            But if West wants substantial mainstream ordinary Black-people votes, he is going to have to break the power of the Clintobamas to get Black America to vote Blue no matter Who for President.

            He will have to put it in terms that Oprah’s audience out here in TV land will accept.

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      Is Kamala a strong swimmer? Partying with Democrats on that island has a way of revealing that.

    4. The Rev Kev

      The last time I read of Kamala going to the Vineyard was monthsbefore the last Presidential election. She had been eliminated from the pool of Democrat Presidential candidates as she had done so badly, especially when Tulsi Gabbard tore her apart in one debate. Her performance was almost as bad as Joe Bidens.

      And then mysteriously they became the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates.

  6. Angie Neer

    EM: thanks for your plant photo. I’m a total sucker for rugged, rocky landscapes, especially when they include plants seemingly sprouting from solid rock.

  7. ambrit

    ” Shows you what public health can do when it’s firing on all eight cylinders!” And the engine is a rotary one.
    Like the Los Angeles Public Health Apparat still promoting hand washing when Florence Nightingale realized the value of clean air back in the 1850s! While, oh my G–, Dr. Lister did his thing around the same time as Nurse Nightingale.
    This is, or was, settled medical science for the past a hundred and fifty years. Now, Heaven help us. No one else will.

    1. curlydan

      That combined with the LA Times’ ruminations of Dr. Cody on “Should I Mask or Should I Not?”… the stupid in LA, it BURNS!!!

    2. anon in so cal

      Los Angeles County Public Health has been consistently good about recommending and requiring masking.

      That was an unfortunate tweet. Probably from a summer intern or someone from the Biden admin. The grammar was cringey, also.

      LA County PH may be one of the few U.S. public health departments still mandating masks in all healthcare / dental / patient care settings. I routinely seem complaints from various parts of the nation about mask-less healthcare workers.




      1. ambrit

        Ah, I see you are right. That was an outlier of the PMC True Believer cohorts then as far as Los Angeles County is concerned.
        I need to get my knee looked at.

  8. Carolinian

    White House has announced some revised versions of Biden statements including that he “practically didn’t help Hunter with his business” and that he “practically didn’t take a bribe.” Also anyone making accusations against Biden is practically a Putin sympathizer or possibly Hitler.

    Should clear the air.

    And I try to walk a couple of miles every day, having the time to do so.

  9. marym

    “US judge sets hearing on evidence in Trump’s 2020 election case”

    Some accounts on lawyer/lawyer-ish twitter point out the distinction between the protective order requested by the government that would prevent the defendant from publicly disseminating material provided to him in discovery; and a gag order which would prevent him from speaking publicly about the case. They also say the former order is routine, and that if he keeps on saying [some subset of what he’s saying] a gag order may be a next step. ianal

    1. ambrit

      I don’t believe that “forcing” the Judge to impose a gag order is part of a plan, but the political effect of such an order would be massive. It would become a ‘huuuuge’ political asset and a tool for the Trump campaign. The “deplorables” would become cemented in their beliefs concerning the “rigged” nature of modern politics in America.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, good distinctions (though I’m not sure they’re distinctions that make a difference so far as Trump is concerned, he not being strong on boundaries).

  10. Lee


    I really must question his statement that Remdesivir “kills you.” I believe he is describing the earlier days of the pandemic before it was well understood that antivirals are only effective if taken in the early viral stage of the disease, and are essentially useless in the second cytokine storm phase.

    1. Stephen V

      But he does say some nice words about big pharna on his platform (from London Daily Mail)::
      In a section on ‘honest government,’ the Democratic hopeful says that special interests are too entrenched with the government agencies that are supposed to monitor them.

      ‘Wall Street controls the SEC. Polluters and extractive industries dominate the EPA and BLM. Pharma controls the CDC, NIH, and FDA. Big Ag controls the USDA. Big Tech has captured the FTC,’ Kennedy said. ‘No wonder trust in government is at all-time lows. It’s time to earn it back.’

      In order to disentangle these entities, Kennedy said he would ‘protect whistleblowers and prosecute officials who abuse the public trust.’

      ‘We will rein in the lobbyists and slam shut the revolving door that shunts people from government agencies to lucrative positions in the companies they were supposed to regulate, and back again,’ the candidate added.

      1. some guy

        I hope both Kennedy and Williamson run hard in every DemParty primary which is permitted. If the Inner DemParty tries interfering, I hope that some State DemParties will hold their own “wildcat primaries” so we can at least see how many people would vote for either of those two in a primary.

        If they went to the Convention with so many delegates between them that the National Inner DemParty were forced to visibly override all that in public, that would at least lower the National DemParty’s reputation further and perhaps make it possible to either reconquer it or supercede it if time even remains before various breakdowns.

  11. Jason Boxman

    “Why wouldn’t people see politics in Trump indictments?”

    Worth noting that it is NOT exactly equal proportions, unless this survey is magic and there’s no margin of error; So it’s quite possible more people smell this as overtly political and find that concerning than find claims Trump tried to overturn an election are concerning.

    There’s a 2.9% MoE for this.

  12. ambrit

    My entry for the Plantidote Caption Contest (hat tip EM.)
    “Former site of Birnam Wood.” “Prospectus on request.”

  13. ambrit

    This is curious, and a new one for me.
    I posted a Mini Zeitgeist report about a half of an hour ago. It went up, as in it was displayed, without the dreaded ‘Black Box’ announcement. Approximately five minutes later, it disappeared.
    I’ve become an unofficial “Dragon feeder.”

  14. Jason Boxman

    The “understand the risk” argument is wrong. What Cody means — and this is the whole “personal risk assessment” paradigm — is the risk to herself, personally. But what about the risk to others? What about those who Cody infected while she was pre- or asymptomatic? What if Cody herself was a superspreader?

    It’s even wrong personally; Can a sane person, knowing that COVID causes;

    – Neurological damage
    – Vascular damage
    – Immune disregulation

    that each of these can and likely do happen even in “mild” cases and asymptomatic cases, not to mention a one in ten chance of getting long-COVID, sensibly decide that an indoor meal is a reasonable risk to take?

    I really don’t think so. Just on long-COVID, if you had a 10% chance of dying every time you got behind the wheel, I submit that no sane person would do this except to ferry someone to the ER.

    Or maybe I misunderstand the risks myself? LOL.

    Thanks Biden! Thanks Mandy!

    1. Jen

      My dad worked for an insurance company for his entire career, and in more innocent times, was proud of how quickly they paid claims.

  15. dougsinsb

    “Would Obama have invaded ….” A relevant question is, would RFK, Jr., because of his pro-Israeli bias, be sucked into a war with Iran?

  16. Mark Gisleson

    Strongly disagree that the actors still working are scabs, at least if the AP article is accurate.

    The companies still filming all agreed to the contract terms and are observing them. Those companies will reap a huge advantage over the unionbusting big studios the longer this drags on.

    Most important?

    We’re probably about to see a lot of top actors doing cameos and bit parts in movies and tv shows that are still shooting. This divide and conquer approach Hollywood style has the potential to be devastating to the way things are now. All the big studios really own are the lots, props and equipment. The talent and writers can easily go elsewhere.

    and I just clicked to edit because I’m not sure exactly what the actors status is, if they are locked out or just observing the picket line.

    and I’m editing again because Hollywood has a history of uncredited cameos

    1. Alex Cox

      Mark is entirely right. Lambert, you need to read the article you posted and retract that ‘scabs’ remark.

      SAG is granting waivers to production companies which agree to abide by its negotiating positions on salaries, residuals and AI. SAG members work on such productions with the Guild’s approval.

  17. IACylcone

    Re: Would Obama have invaded Ukraine given a third term.

    One of the few good things you can say about Obama is that he possesses a far more realistic understanding of foreign policy than most every other American politician. He’s still on board with the American imperial project and he constantly got rolled by opposing factions within the Deep State, but he at least he wasn’t totally high on his own supply.

    Case in point, he explicitly told Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview that Ukraine is a critical interest to Russia, and that it isn’t one for the U.S. Thus Obama’s reticence to provide weapons to Ukraine, which Republicans excoriated him over, in order to avoid a cycle of escalation that the U.S. would have no desire or will to match. For all the liberals chanting Slava Ukraine, it would be fun to see the looks on their faces when you remind them that the U.S. started sending actual weapons to Ukraine under the Trump Administration, unlike the Obama Administrations commitment to sending only non-lethal aid.

    1. The Rev Kev

      On the other hand he went nuts over the Russians in the last few months of his Presidency to the point of being absolutely nasty about it. First example that comes to mind was when he was seizing those Russians consulates that had been there for generations. The way that he was acting was like he had a personal grudge against them or something. Maybe because they wrecked his plans for Syria?

      1. Random

        As far as I’m aware Obama was actually happy with Russia helping him walk back the whole chemical weapons red line that he set that would have resulted in a direct intervention.
        Apparently Kerry and some other officials weren’t conveying him the messages from the Russian foreign ministry and Putin had to talk to him directly.
        That was around 2013 or 2014 though I think.
        Not sure if policy changed later or if it those were just PR moves before the election.

      2. Nikkikat

        Yes, I remember him going nuts too. He was forcing the diplomats to leave and closing consulates at record speed. Seemed crazy because he usually dragged his feet on things. I remember thinking this guy is unhinged over Russia?

  18. Michael Fiorillo

    I am far from an Obama fan, to put it mildly, but I think he’d have been reluctant to go into Ukraine. His refusal to send missiles there and his negotiating with Iran suggests some sense of limits to US power on his part.

    Regarding the millions being thrown off Medicaid, their eligibility ended on the day Trump was indicted in New York, with nary a mention of it in mainstream media at the time. Fifteen million people faced with loss of medical coverage, and #McResistance imbeciles were unaware, if not indifferent… because Stormy was going to Save the Republic.

    1. Pat

      I despise Obama, but I have always given him credit for recognizing what a disaster Hilary’s Libyan invasion was and realizing that the advice from that faction was almost consistently wrong. He and Kerry were still American Imperialists, but both seemed to recognize that we had limitations. There was more diplomacy during Kerry’s time at State than we had seen from the last three Secretaries of State. I’m still massively POed that Obama wasn’t willing to truly take on the MIC and probably the Intelligence community by failing to Court Martial and imprison the military officers who outright disobeyed orders and scuttled the Syrian detente with Russia, but I still have to give him credit.

  19. Wukchumni

    A ditty about Little Boy and Fat Man
    Two American bombs thought up in the heartland
    Little Boy’s gonna be a uranium scar
    Fat Man debuts from backseat of Bockscar

    Suckin’ on fire-seared cogs that used to be human beings
    Fat Man’s sittin’ on Japan’s lap
    He’s got his hands between Nagasaki’s knees
    Little Boy say, hey Fat Man lets run off
    Behind Hiroshima and see
    Dribble off those babbling brooks
    Let me do what I please
    And Little Boy say a

    Oh yeah life goes on
    Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
    Oh yeah life goes on
    Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone they wok on

    Little Boy sits back reflects his thoughts for a moment
    Scratches his head and does his best clean sweep
    Well you know Fat Man we oughta blow up the city
    Fat Man says, baby you ain’t missing no-thing
    Little Boy say a

    Oh yeah life goes on
    Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone
    Oh yeah life goes on
    Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone

    Gonna let it rock
    Let it roll
    Let the A Bomb come down
    And save my soul
    Hold on to U 235 as long as you can
    Changes comin’ round real soon
    Make us half-life women and men

    A ditty about Little Boy and Fat Man
    Two American bombs that went off according to plan

    Jack & Dianne, by John Mellencamp


    1. Carolinian

      So did you make it to your IMAX?

      There are some regular movie theaters showing Oppenheimer in 70mm using the film projectors they keep in a corner these days.

    1. flora

      From the longer article:

      “People like to say nothing matters anymore,” Greenberg said. “But the conversation that you’re not having actually does matter.” Try saying that one three times fast.

      A lot of coverage of Campaign 2024 is going to be like this, in which aides, pundits, and pollsters speak like fridge-magnet haikus or Alan Greenspan pressers. There are now so many taboo subjects in American politics that even data journalists, whose job is to give us the cold hard facts, are forced to communicate in allusions and metaphors, because what’s happening can’t be discussed.


      1. Henry Moon Pie

        I’d say our politics has become the affluent, in the form of the world’s richest 10%, versus the rest of humanity and versus the Earth and its non-human creatures.

        1. some guy

          Russian foreign minister has expressed a version of that in the phrase ” golden billion”. But one could divide the ” golden billion” into the “golden billion one percent” and the “fool’s golden billion 99%” because even if the fool’s golden billion 99% somehow identify with the politics of the politics of the golden billion one percent, they won’t benefit from those politics.

          I think the ” We are the 99 %” demonstrators were at least kind-of understanding that. So they were shut down hard.

  20. kareninca

    Today, while I was picking up a relative’s prescriptions at a Walgreens here in Silicon Valley, I asked the pharmacy person for some covid rapid antigen tests. Under my husband’s insurance they are still covered. She told me that they didn’t have any; hadn’t had any for over a month, didn’t expect to get any more, and couldn’t order any. Really she seemed annoyed by the idea that anyone would want one.

    I’m still required to test weekly for my volunteer position since CA law requires that of people who aren’t vaccinated. I’ll check other local pharmacies, and also for now I can still buy them on Amazon. But if I truly can’t get tests anymore I suppose I’ll just use the same test kit over and over again; that’s not any stupider than any of the rest of this.

    1. Steve H.

      > “Study: At-home rapid COVID tests may miss many infections” (press release) [CalTech]. “New research conducted at Caltech suggests that in many cases, rapid tests that use a nasal swab provide false negatives—suggesting that a person is infection-free even though other parts of their respiratory tract are teeming with the virus

      It’s a Pyrrhic test. Most people will view a Negative outcome as having information, which makes it worseless, since they are now misinformed and behaving like they’re confirmed Negative. And that’s how you get superspreading.

      Hmm. mRNA vaccines have a liability waiver. The rapid test does not. Since there is now evidence of a high False-Negative rate, does that present liability futures for the test provider? Unlikely, but it’s also unlikely your roof will be torn off in a hurricane if you live in Florida, yet insurance providers are fleeing. Actuaries with a thumb on the rudder.

      1. kareninca

        Yes, the at-home tests are especially bad at bad at catching asymptomatic cases.

        I think you presently get super spreading because people don’t do anything whatsoever to prevent spread; the lousy tests are barely used anymore.

  21. Wukchumni

    The devil in the details went down to Georgia
    He was lookin’ for votes to steal
    He was in a bind ’cause he was way behind
    He was willing to make a deal
    When he came across this lawyer figurin’ up a fiddle and playin’ it hot
    And said devil jumped upon a rally stump and said “Girl, tell me what you got?”

    “I bet you didn’t know it, but I like to fiddle, too
    And if you’d care to take a dare I’ll make a bet with you
    Now you play a pretty good fiddle, girl, but give the devil his due
    I’ll bet a fiddle of stole against your soul ’cause I think I’m better than you”

    The girl said, “My name’s Sidney, and it might be a sin
    But I’ll take your bet
    And you’re gonna regret ’cause I’m the best lawyer there’s ever been”

    Sidney, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard
    ‘Cause Hell’s broke loose in Georgia and the devil has run out of cards
    And if you win this shiny fiddle you get a cabinet role
    But if you lose the devil gets your soul

    The devil stated his case and he said, “I’ll start this show”
    And fire flew from his lips as sweat formed on his brow
    And he agitated all the right wings and they made an evil hiss
    And a band of demons joined in and it sounded something like this

    When the devil finished, Sidney said, “Well, you’re pretty good ol’ son
    But sit down in that chair right there and let me show you how it’s done”

    “Liar on the Mountain.” Run, boys, run!
    The devil’s in the details
    Chicken’s in the White House raising dough
    Did he win though, no”

    The devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat
    And he laid a retainer’s fee on the ground at Sidney’s feet
    Sidney said, “devil, just come on back if you ever wanna try again
    ‘Cause I’ve told you once–you son of a bitch–I’m the best there’s ever been”
    And he’d been played

    “Liar on the Mountain.” Run, boys, run!
    The devil’s in the details
    Chicken’s in the White House raising dough
    Did he win though, no”

    The Devil Went Down To Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band


  22. spud

    oh dear, free trade has claimed another one: a trade deficit and mounting public debt, Can Tunisia avoid bankruptcy?


    Can Tunisia avoid bankruptcy?
    Walid Abuhelal
    8 August 2023 16:13 BST | Last update: 15 hours 25 mins ago
    The country that launched the Arab Spring in 2011 has since faced an economic slowdown, a trade deficit and mounting public debt…

    “In terms of the balance of trade, Tunisia is a net importer, which means its imports are greater than its exports. As inflation rates increased worldwide, this deficit has doubled in the last 12 months to about $1.9bn, the same amount as the IMF bailout proposal, which has been rejected by the Tunisian president.”

  23. spud


    The leader of Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Traore, believes that the role of Russia and Africa in the fight against Nazism is hushed up.
    “Russia made great sacrifices to liberate Europe and the world from Nazism during World War II. We have the same story,” he stressed.
    “We are the forgotten peoples of the world. And we are here now to talk about the future of our countries, about what will happen tomorrow in the world we aspire to and in which there will be no interference in our internal affairs”

  24. Henry Moon Pie

    Vivek Ramaswamy: “We live in an era of the noble lie. The so-called lie that the government tells to its people because it believes the people can’t handle the truth…The government does not trust the people to select their leaders.”

    Vivek Ramaswamy: “…but the dirty little secret, Maria [Bartiromo], that not a lot of people know is the climate religion actually has nothing to do with the climate. It is all about power, control, dominion and apologizing for America’s own success. And the reason why is that this religion looks the other way when PetroChina picks up the projects that American companies drop. Last time I checked, it was global climate change, and also it’s hostile to nuclear energy, which is truly bizarre because that’s the best form of carbon-free energy production known to mankind. The problem for them is that nuclear energy might be too good at solving their alleged problem.”

    So Vivek’s idea of really leveling with the American people is to keep pitching the idea that the climate catastrophe is a hoax to take away your freedumbs. Somebody needs to do a detailed analysis of Ramaswamy’s investments. I bet he doesn’t play it so stupid when it comes to that.

    And Rupert Read had one of the best explanations for why nukes are an especially stupid idea as chaos spreads. You need a healthy society with stable politics and no external threats for nukes to be anything but a disaster waiting to happen.

    1. some guy

      The next time Vivek says that in public, I hope someone can ask him on camera if he plans to make contrarian investments based on ” the global is not warming”.

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