2:00PM Water Cooler 9/18/2023

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle on Trump (also birds). More in a bit. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Yellow Warbler (Northern), Bonner’s Ferry Boundary, Idaho, United States. “On the edge of the marsh near the Nature Conservancy Ball Creek Ranch preserve. Habitat: Freshwater Marsh.”

“Showcasing the spectacle of bird migration” [BirdCast]. • I’m not a stone birder, so I don’t already know about this. Cornell Lab of Ornithology involved, which is nice. Handy map:

“Swarms of birds will fly over the US soon. Explore BirdCast’s new migration tool to help you prepare” [USA Today]. “For each region, BirdCast includes a migrants’ noticeability (how likely birders are to notice a given species’ arrival or departure based on eBird reports), estimated arrival date, influx, peak and departure. Some species are missing dates if their arrival or departure occurs largely outside of the spring months, or if a species lingers in the region before or after migration, BirdCast said.”

* * *


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

The Constitutional Order

“Banning Trump” [Eric Posner, Project Syndicate]. On Chase’s opinion in Griffin: “Baude and Paulsen, by contrast, condemn Chase of a technical error of judicial interpretation, committing the ‘classic blunder’ of ‘swapping in original intent for original meaning’ when he interpreted the amendment. They think Chase should have enforced the ill-considered impulses of Congress, come what may. And they think today’s secretaries of state should enforce those same ill-considered, vengeful impulses, as embodied in the text and original understanding in 1868. The implication is that they should disregard the utterly different context – the elimination from the ballot of a former president and Republican Party frontrunner – despite the impact of disenfranchising a huge portion of the electorate in its own eyes. It is hard to think of a better way to discredit both democracy and the rule of law in a single blow.”

“The Limited Sweep and Ineffectual Force of False Analogies: A Brief Reply to Baude and Paulsen” [F. E. Guerra-Pujol, SSRN]. “For starters, Baude and Paulsen’s self-execution argument is built on the shaky foundation of two false and misleading analogies. One is to the age, citizenship, and residency requirements set forth in the Qualifications Clause in Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution. The other faulty comparison they make is to the Thirteenth Amendment. Both of these constitutional analogies, however, could serve as textbook illustrations of the level of generality problem, a logical fallacy that bedevils most forms of Originalist scholarship. At a high enough level of generality, for example, it is true that both apples and oranges are alike–after all, both are pieces of fruit that taste sweet–but when one inspects or bites into them one will soon discover that apples are, in fact, quite different from oranges. To begin with, although the Fourteenth Amendment’s Disqualification Clause and the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in Article II share a similar linguistic structure to some degree, e.g. “”no person shall …,”” both provisions are substantively different, for they attempt to solve different problems in different ways. Simply put, it is one thing to impose a set of minimum qualifications for holding federal office–which is what the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in Article II do–and quite another to disqualify an otherwise eligible candidate from federal office for engaging in a full-scale insurrection or rebellion against the United States, which is what the Disqualification Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does.” • If self-executing, the second is a judgment call; the first is not.

“Do Liberals Think the Supreme Court Will Save Us From Trump?” [MSN]. “[E]ven assuming that there was an airtight case on originalist grounds, it would be unwise to assume that it will actually sway votes among the conservative justices. Whatever one makes of originalism as an academic pursuit, it is not practiced by conservative justices in anything resembling a legitimately principled or objective manner. All too often, originalism in the courts is little more than an outcome-driven interpretive method that somehow — magically — almost always aligns with the political and policy prerogatives of the Republican Party…. It was one thing for them to have rejected Trump’s various legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the courts after he lost, but it would be another thing entirely for them to prevent him from running altogether, particularly when most Republican politicians and Republican voters strongly support his candidacy. For this to work, at a bare minimum, a comprehensive and compelling legal argument with broad ideological appeal and robust bipartisan support would likely need to come together. That may emerge as litigation proceeds, and as scholars and lawyers continue to debate and refine their ideas, but it is not here yet. For now, Trump’s opponents need to focus on beating him the old-fashioned way — at the ballot box.”

* * *

“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:

The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.

Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.

Capitol Seizure

“A Jan. 6 rioter was convicted and sentenced in secret. No one will say why” [Independent]. “Hundreds of rioters have been charged, convicted and sentenced for joining the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. Unlike their cases, Samuel Lazar’s appears to have been resolved in secret — kept under seal with no explanation, even after his release from prison. Lazar, 37, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was arrested in July 2021 on charges that he came to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, dressed in tactical gear and protective goggles, and used chemical spray on officers who were desperately trying to beat back the angry Donald Trump supporters. There is no public record of a conviction or a sentence in Lazar’s court docket… Lazar shouted profane insults at police through the bullhorn, calling them tyrants and yelling, ‘Let’s get their guns!’ Another video captured Lazar saying, ‘There’s a time for peace and there’s a time for war.'” • As is well-known: The first one calling for violence is always the cop. Or the spook.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Donald Trump Denounces DeSantis Abortion Ban As ‘A Terrible Mistake'” [Vanity Fair]. “Donald Trump called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s six-week abortion ban ‘a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,’ underscoring the kind of contrast he hopes to draw with his chief primary rival on an issue that has proven to be an electoral liability for the GOP. In an interview with Kristen Welker during her Sunday debut as the new Meet the Press moderator on NBC, Trump refused to say whether he’d sign a 15-week federal abortion ban if it came across his desk as president. ‘I would sit down with both sides, and I’d negotiate something, and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years. I’m not going to say I would or I wouldn’t,’ Trump said. ‘I mean, ‘DeSanctus’ is willing to sign a five-week and six-week ban.'” • I love it, Trump moving to DeSantis’s left on abortion…. Still, that “I’d negotiate something” might wear thin after awhile? That’s Trump’s line on Ukraine, too.

“Full transcript: Read Kristen Welker’s interview with Trump” [NBC] Meet the Press. I’ve got to edit down Trump on Ukraine, because he’s really got his “riffing jazzily” thing going. A sidebar: “Riffing jazzily” is taken from my 2016 post, “Fear and Loathing at the Cross Arena in Bangor, Maine: Donald Trump Makes Headlines.” Would it surprise you to learn that this post doesn’t show up in Google?

End sidebar, back to Trump:

[TRUMP:] Ukraine would have never happened if I were president. If this election weren’t rigged, Ukraine would have never happened. You would have hundreds of thousands of people, including lots of soldiers, still living. The cities would be flourishing, or at least up. These are cities that can never be rebuilt again, certainly not the way they were, magnificent buildings all ripped down like a demolition site. It would have never happened for two reasons. Number one, and most importantly, Putin has a lot of respect for me. And he wouldn’t have played games. And I told him, “”Don’t ever go in.”” And he would never have gone in. This was only after I left that this happened…. Equally as importantly, oil prices would have been at $40 a barrel instead of $110 a barrel. So he wouldn’t have been able to afford going in. He actually is the only nation that made money, because oil has been driven up so high by stupid people like Biden.

Just to that key question though, Mr. President, do you think that our security, the United States’ security, is linked to Ukraine’s security?

[TRUMP:] I think that Europe has to do more. We’re in for $200 billion. They’re in for $25 billion. And it affects them more than it affects us. It certainly affects them much more than it affects us.

I don’t know if Trump is asking for my vote here, exactly, but he’s certainly adjacent to it.

“Jack Smith goes too far in trying to gag Donald Trump” [Jonathan Turley, New York Post]. “[The words] ‘a narrowly tailored order that imposes modest, permissible restrictions’ were used by Special Counsel Jack Smith to propose a gag order that would sharply curtail the ability of former President Donald Trump to criticize Smith and his prosecution. The Smith motion is anything but ‘narrowly tailored.’ … ‘The motion states that Trump’s ‘recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the Court, the jury pool, witnesses, and prosecutors.'” The jury pool is the general public. Is Trump really not to be permitted to address the general public when he’s running for office? More: “One of the top issues in this presidential campaign is Trump’s insistence that the Justice Department and the criminal justice system have been weaponized by Democrats. He was running on that issue even before the four separate criminal cases were filed against him in Florida, Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C. More importantly, it is an issue that is resonating with tens of millions of Americans.  One poll showed 62% of the public viewed the prosecutions as ‘politically motivated.’  Another poll shows that 65% still view the prosecutions as ‘serious.'” • So the general public is taking a quite sensible view.

* * *

“DeSantis Seeks Cash From Texas Donors as His Campaign Faces Upheaval” [Bloomberg]. “Texas could prove to be a gold mine for DeSantis’s political operation, which needs to bring in new donors to challenge Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Its energy-dependent economy would benefit from DeSantis’s plans to expand domestic fossil fuel production. As a bonus, his campaign finance director, Lauren Lofstrom, is a Texan…. The fundraising blitz comes at a critical time for the campaign that had been burning through cash at an unsustainable rate over the summer and has faced a steady drop in the polls. To combat these problems, DeSantis fired roughly a third of his staff, replaced his campaign manager and focused most of his time in Iowa. To keep the slimmed-down operation afloat, DeSantis needs more money…. The Texas trip comes roughly four months before early voting starts in the Iowa caucuses, where DeSantis allies and advisers acknowledge the Florida governor must perform well in order to stay competitive in the GOP primary. Trump, who has been indicted four times, leads him by an average of 43.9 points in national polls, according to RealClearPolitics.” • The press has it in for DeSantis so bad, you almost feel sorry for the scrappy little dude. Almost.

* * *

“Three reasons Biden’s problems appear to be overblown” [Harry Enten, CNN]. “But while Biden clearly has problems – no president with an approval rating hovering around 40% is in good shape – some of his issues appear to be overblown at this time. Here are three reasons why… 1. Biden’s going to win the Democratic primary, unless something drastic [***cough***] happens… 2. The impeachment inquiry isn’t damaging Biden … yet…. While the vast majority of independents disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president (64%) in our latest CNN poll, only 39% think he did something illegal. An election about a potentially unpopular impeachment would be better for Biden than one about an issue that really hurts him (such as voters seeing him as too old)…. 3. Voters don’t like the state of the economy; it may not matter that much…. Believe it or not, fewer Americans say the economy is the top problem facing the country now (31%) than they have in either the median (40%) or average (45%) presidential election since 1988…. After all, there’s a reason why Democrats have consistently outperformed the 2020 presidential baseline in special elections this year. If things were really that bad for Biden and the Democrats, they’d most likely be losing elections all over the country. That simply isn’t happening at this point.” • That special elections link is interesting, because it shows Democrats doing very well in PA, a swing state.

“Three reasons Biden is struggling with Black and Latino voters” [Vox]. “But there is value in looking at the polls because they reveal something else: At this point in the campaign, it’s unarguable that Democrats, especially Biden, are facing a problem with voters of color. And that weaker standing with Black and Latino voters specifically seems to be fueling those tight national polling numbers. That lower level of support for Biden is distinct from previous election cycles. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn, who has been tracking this for some time, analyzed last year and this year’s New York Times/Siena polls of over 1,500 nonwhite respondents. He reports that Biden leads Trump 53 percent to 28 percent among registered nonwhite voters — a sharp drop off from the 70 percent support Biden garnered from voters of color in the 2020 election. Those numbers aren’t exclusive to the Times, either, but show up across surveys. That’s a much worse position than a Democratic candidate has been in for the last few election cycles. Whether this is a new problem or not is debatable (as I’ve written before, some Democratic operatives don’t want to concede they have a real problem with nonwhite voters). The causes for this weaker level of support are also up for debate: Some, like the liberal researcher and writer Ruy Teixeira, argue that progressive cultural politics are largely to blame, while other Democratic operatives argue this is a problem with messaging). But the trends in polls over the last year are all pointing at something, even if people disagree on the specific numbers at the margins.” • Teixeira now works for AEI ffs. But worth a read.

“Americans Can Barely Afford Homes — and That’s a Problem for Biden” [Bloomberg]. “Record-low US housing affordability is squeezing homebuyers and renters while threatening to spill into presidential politics… Milwaukee, the largest city in key swing state Wisconsin, saw affordability deteriorate in its rental market more than almost any US metro area in the year ended July, according to a measure by the National Association of Realtors. The region also recorded one of the greatest increases in mortgage burden among the biggest 50 metros in the past year, data from Zillow show…. Philadelphia, another major population center in a closely fought battleground state, is also among the US metros with the largest increases in mortgage burdens last year, according to Zillow data.” 

* * *

“Tim Scott: I’m dating a ‘lovely Christian girl'” [The Hill]. • Is she from Canada?

* * *

“He Was a Hillary Clinton Cheerleader. Now He Calls Democrats a Threat” [New York Times]. Interesting piece on Peter Daou (who, with his Verrit platform, seems to have anticipated the Censorship Industrial Complex, even if the effort came to nothing). Daou:

Look at the suffering created by the system and fight the system. Don’t get attached to one politician or one party. I find the idea of anarchist philosophy, along the lines of David Graeber, quite intriguing: You know, no power dynamics, no coercion, a structure in which in which we all cooperate, and there’s true equality, right?

In the end, what Dr. West is doing, this is the way you do it: You go at the system directly. And that’s what we’re going to be doing to the very last day. He will be on the ballot. And this is not going to be some sort of process in which, you know, “”Down the line, well, maybe not, if this is going to bring on a Republican.””

We are working to get on the ballot. In the general election, there are going to be at least three choices, and he will be one of them.

* * *

“Another Whitmer Fednapping Case Goes Boom” [Declassified with Julie Kelly]. “In another blow to the FBI’s concocted plot to kidnap and assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, a jury in Antrim County today acquitted three men indicted on state charges for their alleged role in the scheme…. The verdicts represent the second time a jury has acquitted individuals charged in the FBI-orchestrated plot. In April 2022, a Grand Rapids jury acquitted Daniel Harris, Jr. and Brandon Caserta on federal kidnapping and weapons charges. The jury hung on the remaining defendants, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, Jr.; both were convicted after a second trial in August 2022. (Two co-defendants pleaded guilty and testified for the government at both trials.) During the course of the federal proceedings, defense attorneys uncovered an elaborate entrapment scheme that involved dozens of FBI informants, supervising agents, and undercover employees.” • Whitmer’s not on my Presidential radar at all, or even my Vice-Presidential radar, but she’s certainly spook-adjacent, so perhaps she’ll move up on the charts.

* * *

“Analysis: Senate tilting red, House blue for 2024” [Axios]. “The possibility of a split congressional decision in 2024, with the Senate flipping to Republicans and the House turning over to Democrats, is looking increasingly likely….  To win back control of the Senate, Republicans only need to net two seats (one if the GOP presidential nominee prevails)…. But House Republicans are in an equally precarious position. To win back control of the House, Democrats only need to flip a net five seats…. There are only five senators representing states carried by the opposing party’s presidential candidate. Of those, the only ones up for re-election in 2024 are [ West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Montana’s Jon Tester and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown]. There are currently only 23 lawmakers (18 Republicans, 5 Democrats) representing House districts carried by the presidential candidate from the opposite party. That means House Republicans face a whole lot more exposure than Democrats unless their swing-district members can create ample distance from their party’s leadership.

“Dems inch toward House majority with recent court wins” [Politico]. “The fundamentals of the 2024 campaign are still taking shape, but one thing is already clear: A flurry of court actions might cost Republicans the House majority. In the past nine days, state and federal judges threw out two congressional maps — and helped Democrats avoid a worst-case scenario in Ohio — kicking off an unusually busy redistricting calendar heading into the election year. All told, a dozen or more seats across at least six states could be redrawn, increasing the likelihood Democrats could chip away the five-seat GOP House majority through redistricting alone. Democrats could pick up an extra seat in each of a handful of states, including Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, and perhaps several more in New York. Republicans could still pick up as many as four seats in North Carolina, but the recent rulings put Democrats in a position to offset those losses — and then some. Redistricting could not only give Democrats a slight edge in their bid to reclaim the majority they lost in 2022 but also increase the number of Black members in their conference.” • Hopefully reactionaries from the Black Misleadership Class!

* * *

“Biden weighed by economic concerns, age in potential 2024 rematch with Trump, Reuters/Ipsos poll shows” [Reuters]. “But in a worrisome result for Biden, Trump held a small advantage in the seven states where the 2020 presidential election was closest: Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada and Michigan. In those states, Trump led with 41% to Biden’s 35%, and 24% undecided. The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online nationwide from Sept. 8 through Sept. 14, gathering responses from 4,413 U.S. adults. It had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 2 percentage points.” • I’d put in the 270toWin map, but it was last updated July 28. Swing states were in play then, too.

IA: “A local struggle over carbon pipelines in Iowa is becoming a 2024 presidential flashpoint” [NBC]. “Republican presidential hopefuls hitting the trail in Iowa are being peppered with questions about abortion, social issues and government spending — and also carbon dioxide pipelines and eminent domain. The questions stem from efforts by three companies — Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO₂ Ventures and Wolf Carbon Solutions — that propose a series of underground pipelines to move carbon dioxide emitted from ethanol and other industrial plants in Iowa to either North Dakota or Illinois. But many landowners are not interested in the idea, which has led Navigator to seek permission in Iowa to use eminent domain, which allows the government to seize private land for public projects, The Gazette newspaper of Cedar Rapids reported in March. It has residents in small Iowa towns like Nevada and Glenwood in an uproar — and it has become the latest local political issue in one of the influential early-voting states to turn into a venue for presidential politics. Ahead of 2024, the pipeline issue is forcing GOP candidates to strike a delicate balance among protecting landowners’ rights, supporting the ethanol industry and demonstrating an understanding of the critical role agriculture plays statewide.”

Republican Funhouse

“Too Hot For the Heritage Foundation!” [Politico]. “Avik Roy, a longtime fixture in Republican policy-wonk circles, made a splash this summer when he organized a manifesto pushing back on the nationalist, market-skeptical tendencies on the new, Trump-era right. The document, signed by Jeb Bush, Grover Norquist, George Will, and a couple hundred other conservative worthies, generated a decent amount of inside-the-Beltway buzz when it launched in July. It wasn’t just that Freedom Conservatism: A Statement of Principles highlighted a family feud within the movement. It was the very fact that its pieties about the majesty of capitalism were even controversial — an indication of just how far conservative economic theology had drifted.” So apparently there are “NatCons” and “FreeCons” (at least in the Beltway). I think I have to read Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind to get a grip on all this. (Robin’s site is broken. Can anyone tell him?) More: “‘It’s like we’re back in City College in 1938 with Alcove 1 and Alcove 2 and the Trotskyites and the Stalinists,’ mused Tevi Troy, a veteran of Beltway conservative policy debates and someone who has written thoughtfully on the meaning of think tanks themselves. It was a time and place of rather different politics, but a similar sense of peril — and a similar fetish for manifestos.” • Indeed!

“Grumbles Left and Right: Two Books on the Past and Future of Conservatism” [Wall Street Journal]. “One prevalent line of thought runs something like this. The post-World War II conservative coalition’s stress on the free market and individual liberty made sense during the Cold War, when Soviet totalitarianism threatened the West and tempted its intellectuals to embrace Marxian centralization, but what’s needed now is cultural and economic solidarity. This critique, popular among some self-described ‘national conservatives,’ overestimates the good and underestimates the harm government planning can bring about. Still, it isn’t an unreasonable argument. R.R. Reno’s ‘Return of the Strong Gods’ (2019) is an eloquent expression of it. But a number of vocal ‘nat cons,’ as they’re called, takes the complaint further. Not only is the Cold War-era conservative’s defense of markets and individualism no longer needed, they contend; 20th-century conservatives who promoted economic and personal liberty weren’t conservatives at all but ‘right-wing liberals.’ Deliberately or not, these ‘conservatives’—nat cons are liberal users of ironic quotation marks—did their part to foster the moral anarchy of present-day America and over time divested conservatism of whatever authority it might have used to stop the bedlam.” • “National Conservatives.” I dunno. Are we saying the bad part about the National Socialsts was the Socialist part? (not that the socialist part was real; just chameleon-like protective coloration).

Obama Legacy

“Where Did the Carter White House’s Solar Panels Go?” [Scientific American]. From 2010, and a fine example of how the press covered for Obama. Carter put the panels up. Reagan took the panels down. Somehow, the panels ended up at Unity College in Maine. That far, the story gets. What the story omits is that several Unity College students, fairly early in the Obama administrationk, drove the panels down to the White House and tried to give them back, assuming — as perhaps an idealistic young person of that time would — that Obama would accept them with gratitude (and some clever West Wing type would reap the PR benefits and stomp on Reagan, as Reagan so richly deserved). Well… They didn’t get to meet with Obama, and they didn’t get to hand off the panels. However, they met with a staffer, who gave them some brochures! (Too lazy to find the links, but I wrote it up at the 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.

* * *

“The Left Can’t Stop Wondering Where Bill Clinton Went Wrong. The Answer Explains a Lot” [Slate]. “The creation of a permanent and engaged New Deal–style coalition that could win decisive legislative majorities and pass progressive policy in the 1990s would have required a potent and engaged labor movement. Yet Lichtenstein and Stein [in A Fabulous Failure] depict a rising politician undermining progressive allies, selling out unions, and largely acceding to corporate interests. The authors allude to young Clinton’s deeply held “”progressive”” sensibilities and determination to enact reform “”from within.”” But how committed was Clinton to the cause of working people when his first date with his future wife, in 1971, involved crossing a picket line at Yale? Lichtenstein and Stein never quite square this circle.” From the concluding paragraph: “This impressive survey of a leader’s (somewhat) good intentions led astray by structural forces, personal failings, and a hefty dose of realpolitik might have led Lichtenstein and Stein to address larger questions about the deleterious impact of inequality on civil society and the basic contradictions between democracy and capitalism.” • Pretty radical for Slate (!). Worth reading in full just to remind ourselves how horrid Clinton was.


“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!

* * *


“Understanding The Cochrane Mask RCT Review” [Pandemic Accountability Index]. Good clean fun. “Anyone citing this Cochrane “gold standard” review is either unable to read & think critically, or simply doesn’t care & is using the Cochrane name – one they never heard of or cared about previous to 2023 – to mislead you, their audience, and/or the general public to think that there is not effective protection from a deadly & disabling airborne virus. The entire field of PPE engineering disproves this absurd claim – and you don’t see PPE engineers showing up at hospitals to tell oncologists like Prasad how to do their job. If you find yourself trusting dishonest, manipulative cranks like Jefferson or Vinay Prasad, bankrolled by racist billionaires like Jeffrey Tucker, then maybe ‘the science’ isn’t wrong – and you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror about how you were so easily deceived by these pitiful charlatans.” • NOTE: This post gets that “Carl Heneghan is a hidden co-author.” But it misses that an unlisted co-author violates Cochrane’s explicit standards, as I show here. And Cochrane let the authors get away with it.

Covid is Airborne

As Nipah may be:

“Nipah virus: India’s Kerala state moves quickly to control fresh outbreak” [BMJ]. “The Indian state of Kerala has closed schools, offices, and public transport in the Kozhikode district in response to a re-emergence of the potentially deadly Nipah virus. The decision on 13 September was made as a precaution against the spread of the virus, which has seen two deaths and six confirmed cases so far.” • A precaution! What a concept!

“Nipah virus is spread by airborne cough droplets” [Australian Veterinary Journal]. From 1999, still germane. “Australian researchers have found that the newly discovered Nipah virus, which recently killed more than 100 people in Malaysia, can be spread by airborne droplets from infected pigs…. CSIRO researcher, Dr. Deborah Middleton, told the conference the virus is present in nasal mucous and saliva of infected pigs. ‘Our research into transmission of the virus shows that farm workers who became ill may have breathed-in or ingested fine particles coughed up by Nipah infected pigs. This result is important – as it tells us that people involved in any future outbreaks should wear breathing masks to avoid infections,’ she said.”

“The Use of Large-Particle Aerosol Exposure to Nipah Virus to Mimic Human Neurological Disease Manifestations in the African Green Monkey” [Journal of Infectious Diseases]. “To develop a neurological model for NiV infection, we exposed 6 adult African green monkeys to a large-particle (approximately 12 μm) aerosol containing NiV (Malaysian isolate)….Four of six animals showed abnormalities reminiscent of human disease in brain magnetic resonance images.” • Not epidemiology, not dispositive, but opens the possibility.

“Aerosol Survival, Disinfection and Formalin Inactivation of Nipah Virus” [Viruses]. “As NiV can spread from person-to-person and it can be found in respiratory secretions, data on the survival characteristics of NiV in aerosols are needed to contribute to the understanding of the potential role of the aerosolised virus in transmission… In this paper, we present novel data on the survival of NiV in small particle aerosols and demonstrate the efficacy of bleach and alcohol-based disinfection through the testing of reduction in NiV titre after short contact times with a range of concentrations of sodium hypochlorite and ethanol.” • Ditto.

Elite Maleficence

“The CDC wants your trust back: It’ll ‘take time to rebuild.'” [Politico]. Presumably that’s why Mandy’s not masking, and why ventilation is never mentioned, and why Biden’s vaccination without mitigation policy is still in force. “[CDC Director Mandy] Cohen will personally make the case in the coming weeks traveling across the country, including places with high uninsured rates to tout the administration’s Bridge Access Program, which provides Covid-19 vaccines for uninsured people…. ‘I want to make sure folks know, particularly in Florida, that vaccination remains a safe way in terms of protecting against severe disease, hospitalization and death,’ she said. ‘It’s important for Americans to get these shots.'” I’m so old I remember when the message was that vaccines protected you against tranmission! More: “‘She talked about how we need to be transparent with decision making, and we need to be transparent with our data,’ said Tao Kwan-Gett, Washington state’s chief science officer.” • What data? Oh, and the Green Map is still up. At least Walensky could plead ignorance. Not so Mandy.

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, September 18:

Lambert here: The national drop is due exclusively to the South. Other signals — scattered and partial though they be — also converge on a drop: ER visits, positivity. We shall see. (I would include CDC’s wastewater map for comparison, but it’s eleven days old.)

Regional data:

The same regional variation also appears in the Walgreen’s positivity data. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 16:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). Still BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.

From CDC, September 2:

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

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, September 9:

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.


Bellwether New York City, data as of September 16:

A slight drop. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 9:

Note the slight drop, consistent with Walgreens. At least now we now that hospitalization tracks positivity, which is nice. Even if we don’t know how many cases there are.


From Walgreens, September 18:

-8.3%. An enormous drop (so not Labor Day data). However, I cannot recall seeing the map so polarized; so much deep green, so much deep red. 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 Cleveland Clinic, September 9:

Lambert here: I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, August 26:

A drop! And here are the variants:

No BA.2.86 for two of the long-delayed collection weeks. I have highlighted the two leaders: EG.5 and FL.1.5.1. Interestingly, those are the two leaders within the United States also, suggesting the national and international bouillabaisse is similar. Or we’re infecting the world.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 13:

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: 1,175,172 – 1,175,152 = 20 (20 * 365 = 7,300 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). 

Excess Deaths

The Economist, September 17:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily again. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 51 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 18 at 1:59:42 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! 

Class Warfare

“A UAW Strike Made in Washington” [Wall Street Journal]. “In many ways, this strike is made in Washington because of the Biden Administration’s policy mandating a rapid transition to electric vehicles. The UAW knows that EVs require fewer workers to make and will jeopardize union jobs making gas-powered cars. But the companies already lose money on EVs and worry about making too many concessions to the UAW that will cause them to lose even more as they are forced to build more EVs.” 

“Can the UAW Transform America Again?” [The New Republic]. “The Biden administration recently granted preference to union shops on a $15 billion package of loans and funding for E.V. conversion, but it did not require union shops. The UAW wants Biden to require them, and it’s withholding a 2024 endorsement from him to exert pressure. It isn’t clear Biden has the legal authority to do so. On the other hand, he has a reputation to defend as a friend to labor—a reputation he can’t afford to compromise heading into his 2024 reelection campaign.” Yes, the railroad workers didn’t threaten to strike close enough to the election, so the Democrats threw them under the train. More: “This strike will apply at least as much pressure on Biden to bend as it does on the Big Three auto companies. That’s asking a lot, and perhaps too much, of the most pro-labor president since Harry Truman. It may not work. Still, it’s glorious to see an American labor leader thinking big again.” 

“Fetterman joins striking UAW workers in Michigan” [Axios]. “Fetterman’s show of solidarity comes a day after President Biden said he is dispatching Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and adviser Gene Sperling to Detroit to help reach a settlement to the walkout that began at midnight Friday.”

News of the Wired

“Your Brain Is Not an Onion With a Tiny Reptile Inside” [Current Directions in Psychological Science]. “The purpose of this article is to clarify a widespread misconception in psychological science regarding nervous-system evolution. Many psychologists believe that as new vertebrate species arose, evolutionarily newer complex brain structures were laid on top of evolutionarily older simpler structures; that is, that an older core dealing with emotions and instinctive behaviors (the “”reptilian brain”” consisting of the basal ganglia and limbic system) lies within a newer brain capable of language, action planning, and so on. The important features of this model, often called the triune-brain theory, are that (a) newer components are literally layered outside of older components as new species emerge, and (b) these newer structures are associated with complex psychological functions we reserve for humans or, if we are feeling generous, for other primates and social mammals…. The correct view of evolution is that animals radiated from common ancestors… Within these radiations, complex nervous systems and sophisticated cognitive abilities evolved independently many times. For example, cephalopod mollusks, such as octopus and cuttlefish, possess tremendously complex nervous systems and behavior, and the same is true of some insects and other arthropods. Even among nonmammalian vertebrates, brain complexity has increased independently several times, particularly among some sharks, teleost fishes, and birds. Along with this misunderstanding comes the incorrect belief that adding complex neural structures allows increased behavioral complexity—that structural complexity endows functional complexity.” • Fascinating!

* * *

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 KW:

KW writes: “Cherokee ‘Lake’-Yahara River Flowage, July 22, 2022. We watched this ‘island’ float toward us from somewhere near the distant shore on a windy Summer day. The Sun was in our eyes so we couldn’t tell what it was. After 45 minutes or so, ‘they’ arrived, and now, a year later, thriving, looking like they have been there forever. Cat tails featured, among others. The marsh is reclaiming this place. Here’s a closer view of the ‘soil.'”


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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. notabanker

    The CDC wants your trust back. By telling you to take your vaccines, dammit!

    Well gee if you put it that way……

    1. flora

      er… maybe I’ve become too jaded, (always a risk from growing older), but if the CDC wants my trust back they’ll have to open their books. Who is getting royalty pharma payments at the CDC (and FDA), who is on track for the revolving door largess, (and who has benefited from the revolving door), how much of the CDC is directly funded by big pharma. If the CDC wants my trust back then they need to open the books. They now talk about transparency. So be transparent about the money. Follow the money. / oy

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Yep.. at this point I don’t trust one of the Federal institutions. After what we have seen from the CDC, I believe the complete capture of our federal institutions by the oligarchy is complete. At this point even if their opinions are correct it will be because moneyed interests align with the common good, or a broken clock is right twice a day.

    3. Tom Stone

      Speaking of trust in the Medical field I have caught three significant mistakes by my providers or my pharmacy this year.
      None in the prior six years, three this year…could something mysterious be causing a general decrease in competence?
      The latest?
      A prescription for NarCan prescribed by an MD I have never seen, clearly an input error but the Pharmacist was not happy with that thought, “Are you sure you don’t need this?.
      Apparently this timeline CAN get stupider.

  2. furnace

    I don’t have anything to contribute, besides than to say I really appreciate the Bird Song of the Day. Thanks.

  3. Not Again

    Howard Schultz resigns from Starbucks’ board.

    Armed with a $70 million war chest, centrist non-profit No Labels aims to upend the two-party status quo in Washington by offering a third way forward.

    Are these two stories connected?

  4. truly

    For those interested in Google search manipulation and how it impacts our democracy, I think the contents of this conversation has to be looked at.
    Jimmy Dore (I know, I know…) interviews a professor who has built analytical tools and documented how searches can be manipulated and votes moved towards their (search engine’s) favorite candidate.
    Important stuff.

  5. Anon

    Happy Monday, commentariat!

    Re: Axios

    Not mentioned in the piece is that the Rep. for VA-10, Jennifer Wexton will not be seeking re-election due to a progressing case of Parkinson’s, per her Twitter account. Given the lean of VA-10, it will probably go to another Democrat, but it may be a race to look at for later.

    1. John Steinbach

      Wexton is my Representative. She has bucked the mad rush of local Democrats to build dozens of huge data centers including the world’s largest complex, the Digital Gateway, directly abutting the Manassas Battlefield Park.

      Her district is historically moderate Republican, and was an important part of Youngkin’s victory. Stay tuned.

  6. hamstak

    Regarding the “Three reasons Biden’s problems appear to be overblown” excerpt, particularly:

    1. Biden’s going to win the Democratic primary…

    I am reminded of Jean Baudrilliard’s trio of short essays regarding Gulf I:

    – The Gulf War Will Not Take Place
    – The Gulf War Is Not Taking Place
    – The Gulf War Did Not Take Place

    in which he argued that this spectacle was less a war than a stage managed media event.

    Substitute in “2024 Democratic Primary” for “Gulf War”…

    The Gulf War Did Not Take Place

  7. IM Doc

    I have a comment to make about the CPI number – the engineering of which is way out of my wheelhouse.

    My family of 4 and I very rarely if ever go out to eat. We grow most of our own food and rely on the grocery stores for things that are not going to do well where we live OR are just too much land requirement for the produce – things like grain, beans, bananas, coffee, chocolate, etc. Everything else is done right here along with the neighbors’ dairy farm, and grass fed beef and pork, etc just a few miles away. We have big freezers at our house. We grow our own chickens and have eggs daily.

    So inflation, although obvious in the things we must buy and gasoline, is not something that messes with us badly. At least so far.

    So we were out recreating this weekend – and all were tired so we went to the local BBQ restaurant.

    Last year – SEP 10, 2022 – our bill for the 4 of us was 55.00 including the tip.
    This year – SEP 17, 2023 – the same exact food and drink ( my wife keeps everything) – 89.75 – AND an automatic 20% tip was added – no way out of that – for a total of 106.50.

    In one year we went from 55.00 to 106.50. Some of it seemed absolutely outrageous. The iced tea ordered from last year was 1.50. This year – 4.95.

    Same restaurant, same time of the year, exact same food/drink ordered.

    3.7% YOY my ass.

    I grieve for the young people trying to raise a family in this mess. Especially with all the obvious deception going on. And then to have people like Paul Krugman do his thing this weekend with how wonderful the economy is going is like pouring salt into wounds.

    We will not be eating out again for awhile for sure.

    I simply can no longer fathom how much longer our government is going to get away with lying about numbers like this. Inflation, gas prices, COVID, employment, whatever. They are making a complete mockery of our entire government in every way. It is actually very sad to see this happening.

    1. Screwball

      You are not alone. I buy the same things at the grocery every couple of weeks. I live alone. I used to cost me around $60-80, depending if I need cleaning stuff, cat food, ect. that I don’t buy all the time. Now it runs $100-120. Car insurance went up at least 20%, same with home insurance. Electric bill from around $100 to $160. The local gas station was $3.54 today, and has been over $3 since I can’t remember when. Those are just a few examples. I refuse to eat out.

      I hear the same stories from my friends, many who are retired and on fixed income. I also hear it from the younger people still working. I can’t say I’ve heard anyone that said things are “good.”

      I read the Tweet by Krugman the other day where he claims they have beat inflation. All I can say about him, and I have never been a fan; he should be on a shelf in the tool department of Home Depot. As far as our current government; if they didn’t have endless lies, they wouldn’t have anything.

      Let’s go Brandon!

      1. Tom Doak

        By “beating inflation,” they only mean that your groceries will go up another 3-5% next year, on top of the 50-75% they have already gone up.

        The price is never going back down.

        1. Screwball

          I’ve been watching the city council meetings over the last year. Small town Ohio, rural area, 18k pop. I watch them via replays on Youtube. Sewers have been an issue for quite some time. $$$$. They have an outside firm guide them with our sewer system decisions. 20 minute dog and pony show telling the council inflation is eating the cost and they must pass an ordinance raising sewer rates %5 annually. Not once in this 40 page powerpoint of vast nothingness did it even question – cutting costs.

          Of course my beancounter went off – %5? Whatever I am paying now, will double in 14.5 years. The rule of 72. Exponents are a b.

    2. Pat

      There is absolutely no way that the ice tea should be almost triple the price from last year. I say that as someone who buys a lot of tea, expensive tea leaves to lipton. I realize that a restaurant might be using a mix, and that is not something I buy, but no.
      And to remind people I live in a neighborhood not known for reasonable grocery stores.

      I don’t believe that our food inflation is anywhere near the low figure that the cheerleaders like to spout. Unfortunately people and businesses do try to take advantage of the inflation story. There is also the sad trope that once a price goes up, it tends to stick there. (Which is long term stupid.) I don’t know if there was a tea price spike due to supply line issues and the price stuck because people paid it. Or they offset the cost of something with the tea like bars do with soda and seltzer, but that rise was not entirely about inflation. It should have doubled at most.

      1. LaRuse

        One of my favorite treats is to get a Thai tea from one of the area pho shops, and not with the bobas in it or anything, just the dyed black tea and cream. A Thai tea used to run a pricey $3.95, but it was a treat and rare. And a “small” (still massive) bowl of pho used to run $6.95 – exceptionally cheap for the meal that it was – so a tea and a bowl cost less than $15 including a healthy tip.
        Back in June, after a hard day’s labor in the VA June humidity, I decided I needed that treat. A bowl of pho was now $12.95 and my beloved Thai tea was a jaw dropping $7.95.
        That day I went home and learned how to make Thai tea at home (it’s easy and I have access to an awesome international market that carries the assam blend tea less than 10 miles from my house).
        I don’t begrudge the pho shop. I know where they are in the West End of Richmond, rents have skyrocketed and the cost of everything is outrageous. So I will still stop in for a Small #4 from time to time but now if I want a Thai tea, I brew it at home.

    3. Carla

      I am with you 100%, IM Doc, in this, as in so many things. It is pure gouging, and no one is doing a g.d. thing about it. We live in the city and have to buy our food.

      Oh — and have you gotten a bill for homeowners’ and auto insurance lately? No claims whatsoever on either for YEARS. With $1,500 deductible on the homeowners’, why would we ever file a claim except for catastrophic loss?

      Insurance company claims our 1915 house has a replacement value of $800,000, but of course it is irreplaceable. It has a current market value (in this inflated housing market) of under $300,000 where we live, and no one would ever spend $800,000 to rebuild a house on this site.

      We’re not young, and we retired the mortgage years ago, but with the skyrocketing costs of food, energy and insurance, how on earth are we supposed to survive?

      Pouring salt in the wounds indeed.

      1. notabanker

        I’ve been through a catastrophic loss on a home, my guess is they are insuring you for the full cost of replacement in a catastrophic loss, which includes contents and temp housing. If not, you should look hard at your policy because you will need those things.

        I kinda, sorta know where you live, and I would guess it would cost at least $400K to rebuild from ground up where you are at, replacement value.

        The problem isn’t so much the over insurance as the process to get them to payout. Take pictures of EVERYTHING in your house. Open every drawer, every closet, every storage space etc….

        If you have expensive valuables that don’t obviously seem that way (like a rare painting or old jewelry), save receipts to prove their provenance, and store them offsite. In my experience, things like appliances and other big ticket items were not disputed, but the sheer volume of other things can add up really, really fast. In our case, it was things like books, video games, card collections, sports gear, clothes etc… We had a check the same day for replacement value of the house, but it took over a year to settle the contents claim.

        1. nippersdad

          Your point about contents is very important!

          In our experience: Rule of thumb thirty years ago was that contents would be approximately equal to the cost of the house, but that is clearly no longer the case (at least for us). Some houses have appreciated better than others, while for some the contents have appreciated better than the house.

          It was surprising to me how fast they added up when we last did an inventory; just think of the cost of every shirt and towel, and that before you get to the paintings, rugs and piano type stuff. We keep everything, so it was an exhausting process. You will not want to do that again any time soon. We ended up having to just videotape the spines of the books in the library.

          It is also very important to keep hard copies of your records in a safe deposit box. When we went to the insurance company a decade later to get a copy of what we had given them so that we could update it, we found that they had conveniently kept it on photocopy paper that had aged to the point where they could not read it.

          And don’t be surprised when you have to get a lot of riders for the outliers. Lamps made out of antique Chinese jars have appreciated all out of proportion to the ones they will assume you got from Target. So instead of “five lamps @ around fifty dollars apiece in the library”, you might end up with five different riders for “22 inch blue-on-celadon, Buddhistic dog of fo pattern floor jar, ca 1860, made into lamp with silk shade” at around fifteen hundred apiece…..And so on and so forth.

          Not that you could “replace” the collections of a lifetime anyway. Unfortunately we need to do all of that again, and I am dreading it.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Don’t forget to store copies of that inventory off-site. It will do you no good if the house burns down and taking that inventory with it.

      2. Objective Ace

        As NAB alluded too, replacement value and market value are not the same thing. Reach out to your insurance company (and some competitors?) and explain to them you would be fine walking away with the market value of your house rather then rebuilding in a worst case scenario. There’s probably other options for you that the insurance company isnt incentivized to advise you of unless you explicitly ask

    4. petal

      These days it’s too expensive to even think about having a child. Had been going to try, and then rent, food, daycare, insurances, and everything else skyrocketed so I’ve given up that dream. It made it impossible.

      1. Feral Finster

        In addition, what is considered the middle class standard for raising a human kitten has gone up astronomically in recent decades.

    5. Randall Flagg

      Maybe this will be unrealistic for some, but I think that for those that do not have the land or garden space there might be the options of bartering. You may have some skill/abilities/ good old fashioned labor that you could trade at local farms or neighbors for food. Or other things with your neighbors if possible.
      For a few years my better half who has a large vegetable garden had a few friends of hers join along to use some of the space to grow some veggies for themselves that they may have liked but others may not. Larger quantities were planted for stuff everyone would like. Think 400+ pounds of potatoes. All worked together on the entire space, weeding and watering when needed. If nothing else working together may have just lessened the drudgery that can be gardening at times. Of course this is only helpful for the growing seasons but cleverness will prevail in others. I know this will sound hopelessly naive to some when thinking about their own circumstances but I hope not.
      As an aside, for generations, the local general store in Norwich Vermont would take firewood in trade for payment of food. Of course that was long before regulations, rules and insurance guidelines started ruling the Earth. I know you can’t barter with the power company, insurance companies, grocery stores, etc. anymore (It was a different time)., but for the most basic of human needs, food, heating (if you burn wood), maybe it’s possible with local farms and woodlot owners.

      It’s pretty clear that with the state of the world, our own nation, our own neighborhoods, we have to somehow start helping each other out, looking out for each other, starting right next door if need be, we all have something to offer.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I have a comment to make about the CPI number – the engineering of which is way out of my wheelhouse.

      Using the word “engineering” advisedly!

      As with Covid, there’s a point where anecdotes don’t actually become data, but they do become more than anecdotes, when aggregated (“condensing fact from the vapor of nuance,” as Neal Stephenson says somewhere). So with your receipts. It’s been a theme here for some time.

      Note that prices go up because firms raise them….

    7. Socrates Pythagoras

      Beverages are high-margin items for restaurants. My guess is they are super-sizing drink prices in order to keep prices lower on other menu items.

    8. Jason Boxman

      Local breakfast place up 25%; I double checked from the last time I went; It’s now more expensive than it’s worth, as my eggs are simply better scrambled and basic white broad french toast isn’t worth that much, nor a sausage round. Too bad. (I always did takeout, but the place is always packed, as eating out is always worth getting COVID I guess?)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Hedonic is actually a different mechanism to lower inflation numbers. The mechanism you are referencing is the subsitution bias

          Sounds like some of these people have been handling data for the CDC. Does the BLS have a “green map”?

    9. flora

      Oh, the Feds have fiddled the CPI number for decades – since at least the mid-1980’s- as a way to fiddle the Social Security and military disability inflation adjusted increase in pension payments. (“Chained CPI” anyone? a la B. Clinton.) Yes, they have. I still go to my local/locally owned restaurants and coffee shops a few times a month, knowing they don’t have access to near zero interest money – aka free money (unlike the chain outfits with WallSt backing). I go and pay the much higher prices a few times to keep my locally owned businesses in business. And because I like them. And because I know that once they’re driven out of business I’ll be left with nothing but price gouging Wall St. chain outfits. Supporting them is a sort of self defense, as much as I can. sigh…. And yes, inflation is bad right now ,no matter what the poobahs on Wall St or at the Fed say.

      1. flora

        adding with my foil bonnet on: as many outfits learned that creating shortages of items could drive prices higher for said items, I’m Sure (~) that destroying so many food growing and processing plants in the US in the last 2 years could not possibly (~) have an effect on prices. / foil bonnet off.

    10. Michael Mck

      Yeah, then there is the engineering that is the calculation of GNP. So much engineering, such a shakey house of cards.

    1. t

      Please just stop with this. There are pictures that show W-D and To–D and WI and To_

      With the dashes being her face, and a kitten (the Mild) and her body.

      There are also photos, presumably from some standing on something in the back, that she the while “… take the flu from WILD to mild” poster with the tiger and the kitten.

      And she definitely takes the mask off after the nurse steps away so anyone’s guess as to her diligence, but it is obvious that her hair goes down past her ears, which means she could be one of many who have an issue with their hair falling over their ears, and then the top head straps sliding down -meaning you are barely even masked and have to refit. This was a problem long before Covid and there are scrub caps with buttons to help with straps that my dental hygienist has been wearing for a decade, that I know of. Saw them often in nail salons, as well.

      People pop up occasionally saying, oh, well I do this with my hair, and my straps don’t slip! And the rest of us are like, good for you! I’m still depending on having my hair up in some way that creates a stop for the top strap.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There are also photos, presumably from some standing on something in the back, that she the while “… take the flu from WILD to mild” poster with the tiger and the kitten.

        Doesn’t this reinforce Verifyfirst’s point, rather than refuting it? And please decode “W-D and To–D and WI and To_”, as well as the “tiger and the kitten.” I can’t even see your dust here.

        As for masks and hair, I follow a large number of masking accounts, and I’m sure this issue has been discussed; when I encounter a method that would allow Mandy to maintain a reasonable hairstyle and model behavior that minimizes the possibilty of infecting others with an airborne Level 3 Biohazard — this one, or the next one — I’ll be sure to post it.

      2. flora

        re: “There are pictures that show W-D and To–D and WI and To_ ”

        er,…um,… what? I’ve no idea what you’re referencing.

        So… “I’ll do this with my hair, and my straps don’t slip.”

        Far be it from me to suggest any comment is from an AI chat thing, but your comment makes no sense, at least not to me.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Brilliant catch:

      Of course, the photo is staged, since the so-called “nurse” isn’t even in uniform. Hence, yes, “mild” is in position.

      I don’t think Mr. Subliminal took the day off; I think he had to go lie down after this one.

  8. some guy

    . . . ” “Full transcript: Read Kristen Welker’s interview with Trump” [NBC] Meet the Press. I’ve got to edit down Trump on Ukraine, because he’s really got his “riffing jazzily” thing going. A sidebar: “Riffing jazzily” is taken from my 2016 post, “Fear and Loathing at the Cross Arena in Bangor, Maine: Donald Trump Makes Headlines.” Would it surprise you to learn that this post doesn’t show up in Google? ” . . .

    I see a possibility for search-engine experts and expert-users, either professional or amateur; to perform an interesting experiment. If Google sets the lead standard for a totally corrupt and completely dishonest search engine, do any other search engines set a less-than-pure lead standard by comparison?

    What if search engine experts and/or heavy users were to try finding this exact particular item on all the various other search engines they know about? What if they discovered a search engine which could actually provide a link to this item? A link which actually links to it? They could then tell us the names of those better-than-google search engines. And the information about which search engines are better-than-google as determined by this experiment could spread outward like oil poured upon water.

    It could be a start towards leading and propelling thousands and then millions on a slow silent Stealth Long March out of google and into whatever other search engines are better than google.

    1. cfraenkel

      Both bing and DDG return the link. Took all of 30 sec to cut copy & confirm.

      This hardly calls for an expert or heavy user, you just need to make the teeny tiny effort to change your default search engine. (And stop using chrome, while you’re at it.) There’s nothing stopping you.

      ((of course that’s the problem, almost no one does, even if they’re aware of the dumpster fire that is google, it’s too much effort….)

      1. some guy

        Well, that’s two better-than-google search engines right there.

        If it is true that google users use google because they are too lazy to use something better, and it is that easy for people to find something better; then let the high-functioning sharp normals use better search engines and let the low-functioning dull normals keep using their google. Let them keep swimming in the toilet they choose to stay swimming in.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > you just need to make the teeny tiny effort to change your default search engine.

        So this would be your recommendation to the good folks bringing the anti-trust case against Google?

        1. some guy

          I am not cfraenkel but my advice to the anti-trust casebringers is to keep bringing the case.
          Google has obviously created a mass-behavioral nudge-filter and a flying funnel designed to catch and harvest hundreds of millions of people.

          That doesn’t mean that in the meantime, those who are aware of the problem shouldn’t avoid putting their paw into googles’ leg hold trap. They should avoid putting their paw into google’s leg hold trap.

          And spread the word about how other search engines deliver better searches. A slow spreading culture of digital rebellion and refusal.

        2. cfraenkel

          Oh no! Wishing them the very best of luck there. (though having to argue in front of a judge who seems to not understand what a browser is is not encouraging)

          That’s actually part of the anti-trust case, that google has spent so much to buy and keep it’s place as the default choice. It wouldn’t be worth paying for if the vast majority of the user base weren’t so prone to inertia.

          The problems with search are complicated, and not all entirely Google’s fault, though they did look the other way on the way to the bank. But the parent comment was making this particular instance out to be some big mystery, when it wasn’t, and looking for some expert to wade through thicket and show the path to the promised land. When the most useful thing he could do is change his default. Doesn’t matter to which, just as it’s not Google. If everyone who complained about how bad Google’s results were switched, there wouldn’t be a problem anymore since then they wouldn’t have the lock on the market anymore. But people won’t, so we’re stuck with hoping for the best in the court (and expecting the worst)

    2. GramSci

      This is exactly what Robert Epstein claims to be doing, per Truly’s link to Jimmy Dore, above in this thread.

      I’m not sure I fully trust Epstein. I found his presentation a little off-putting, so I spent the last fifteen minutes trying to google him, and I didn’t find much except a rather self-serving Wikipedia page.

    3. RA

      So I too did the search experiment across a few search engines. Here’s what I saw.
      I used Lambert’s search term:
      — “cross arena” site:www.nakedcapitalism.com —

      In my list of results, “2016” is the original post Lambert wanted;
      “today’s” is this water cooler post.

      — Google —
      today’s (the only result)

      — DuckDuckGo —
      ads (several for the arena)

      — Bing —
      ad (arena)

      — Swisscows —
      ads (jumble)
      today’s (in the middle of results)

      — StartPage —
      no results

      DDG is my default search engine and it did put 2016 at the top of the real results, but it started with several ads that certainly didn’t meet the ‘site:’ term.

      Google only gave today’s — definately not good.

      Bing results were good with ads only at the end, but there is a quirk I don’t like. In the list of results, the link for a result (say 2016 entry) is a link that points to bing.com… where it redirects to the actual link for nakedcapitalism. So you can’t copy the actual link from the results. The other engines have the actual link in their result.

      Swisscows was like google but with lots of ads. StartPage was a total fail.

      1. c_heale

        I’ve recently started using Startpage and I’m finding it pretty good. Duckduckgo seems to have really gone downhill recently – for example it stopped bringing up this site a few months ago, although I look at it every day. The other search I’ve started using recently is Brave which seems much more like the old (useful) Google.

        1. Hepativore

          Yandex is actually pretty good as well. I stopped using DuckDuckGo last year when the CEO announced that it would start filtering out “disinformation”.

      2. RA

        Based on other posts here — I added Brave and Yandex search engines to my firefox browser. Using the same search string Lambert used (and I copied above). Neither engine found either the 2016 or Today’s hits. As I mentioned earlier StartPage also failed to find either of the two known results.

        My guess is that it isn’t censorship, just failure to search well. Pretty disappointing that so many have issues.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > failure to search well

          Gee, thanks (says a Google user since, like 2003). I used to be able to use Google all the time to find past posts. Now I can’t. The only thing I can think of other than being downranked is that I use a VPN, not always set to the United States. But so what?

          1. RA

            I wasn’t clear. In “failure to search well” I was referring to Brave, Yandex and StartPage. They didn’t even give a hit on “Today’s” (this thread) in results.

            In my simple search tests only DDG and Bing returned the 2016 post you were seeking.

            Google returned this thread but not the 2016 one. It very well could be some kind of deliberate filtering. The title of the 2016 hit mentions Trump. I’m not using a VPN so I doubt that matters. I too didn’t see the 2016 result here when I used Google search.

  9. Charger01

    He Was a Hillary Clinton Cheerleader. Now He Calls Democrats a Threat” [New York Times].

    Chapo Trap House has an exquisite take from 2016 “Enter the Noid” episode, about Peter Daou, his Twitter compulsion and his obscure Verritt meme website. Well worth the time to laugh, I don’t think Peter will help Dr. West, as Peter seems to be permanently online.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t think Peter will help Dr. West, as Peter seems to be permanently online.

      Maybe. But he’ll do until somebody better comes along. (Running a campaign takes a lot of technical competence. I don’t think Daou possesses that competence, but it’s possible that he will connect West with people who do. Such people would probably be young, very hungry, smart, be disgusted by the Beltway, and have some experience. They must surely exist. It would be wonderful if — and this doesn’t even rise to the level of speculation — the young woman who ran Fetterman’s brilliant social media campaign took one look at the Beltway, fled in disgust, and went to work at an IHOP in Breezewood, PA, where she is rescued when the call comes in from the West campaign… Foolish, but you see what I mean.)

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          No … no … no … you missed it … encore une fois:

          “Such people would probably be young, very hungry, smart, be disgusted by the Beltway

          > Such people do not wish to shiv their own careers.

          You’re talking about Symone D. Sanders and Faiz Shakir …

  10. some guy

    The ” IA: “A local struggle over carbon pipelines in Iowa is becoming a 2024 presidential flashpoint” [NBC].”
    entry is reminding me of a long-ago-read sentence from near the end of William S Burroughs’s Naked Lunch.
    As best as I can remember it, it goes something like . . . ” the mechanisms of social control are breaking down and are shoving everyone into everyone else’s face.”

    The same can be said for our ever-more-creaky technosystem trying to keep flying on a kludge, a wing and a curse.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the mechanisms of social control are breaking down and are shoving everyone into everyone else’s face

      I cannot find the quote, but perhaps some other kind reader can.

    1. ambrit

      We can never “catch up.” We can but approach nearer and nearer to blessed completion.
      Why not steal a page from Larry Flynt’s playbook, (yes, that Larry Flynt.) He had a compendium of “items” even his jaded staff considered too outre for the flagship publication “Hustler.” They were collected into a rag they called “Hustler Rejects.” So, why not “Water Cooler Rejects?” [I know, yes, this could come across as an assignment. Thus, I present it as a “suggestion,” nothing more.]
      Stay safe all.

      1. some guy

        I remember a funny little Larry Flynt anecdote I read somewhere.

        Somebody in public called Larry Flynt a “smut peddler”. Larry Flynt replied . . . ” that’s MISTer smut peddler to you.”

      1. nippersdad

        And to keep it all in some kind of memory palace. The long term memories and ability to keep them all woven into a coherent narrative is something I have always admired in both the principals of the site and its’ commentariat.

  11. djrichard

    The Fed wants to cool spending; a strike, a shutdown and student loans may add ice

    Personally I think we’re going into recession/depression regardless due to the inherent problems in the euro-dollar system. But it’s hard for pundits to blame a recession/depression on the euro-dollar system (they don’t understand it), so they’ll be blaming the recession/depression on the strike or the shutdown or student debt, what have you. And of course the GOP will be blaming Biden.

    1. ambrit

      And the DNC will be blaming the ‘deplorable’ people of America.
      I seriously wonder if the Chinese could be watching this from afar and thinking; “D—! There goes our biggest market! What now?”

  12. Mikel

    “Grumbles Left and Right: Two Books on the Past and Future of Conservatism”

    Grumbles left and right, indeed. Add a third book and make it interesting:
    “The Empire on which the Black Sun Never Set: The Birth of International Fascism and Anglo-American Foreign Policy” by Cynthia Chung.

    Can read a sample on Amazan books.

    1. Anthony K Wikrent

      I think there is a very serious split developing on “the right” over economic issues. Reality is just too powerful to ignore, and the results of neoliberal free market ideology have can only be described as catastrophic, especially the strategic error of thinking free markets would democratize China. But the “nat cons” have yet to grasp the problem of oligarchy and its associated political and social pathologies. Quite simply, no society can tolerate a bunch of rich pricks running everything, and expect to remain stable. So I think there will be a war between the “nat cons” and the rest of the conservatives, while there rages a fight between “nat cons” over the issue of just how many rich and how much oligarchy the country can tolerate.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “nat cons” have yet to grasp the problem of oligarchy and its associated political and social pathologies.

        It’s not clear to me that they ever can, and if they do, it will be to oppose the truly global oligarchs, who treat nation-states as flags of convenience, and to support “American gentry,” who merely pillage the nation.

        1. Anthony K Wikrent

          Yes, I think your formulation is more accurate and precise. The “nat cons” will never confront the problem of oligarchy because they are yearning to be (or to remain) “American gentry.”

          It is useful to view the (anti)Republicans’ reaction to the suspension of the Senate dress code through the lens of Thorstein Veblen’s concepts of conspicuous consumption, pecuniary emulation, and conservation of archaic traits:

          The prescriptive position of the leisure class as the exemplar of reputability has imposed many features of the leisure-class theory of life upon the lower classes; with the result that there goes on, always and throughout society, a more or less persistent cultivation of these aristocratic traits. On this ground also these traits have a better chance of survival among the body of the people than would be the case if it were not for the precept and example of the leisure class. As one channel, and an important one, through which this transfusion of aristocratic views of life, and consequently more or less archaic traits of character goes on, may be mentioned the class of domestic servants. these have their notions of what is good and beautiful shaped by contact with the master class and carry the preconceptions so acquired back among their low-born equals, and so disseminate the higher ideals abroad through the community without the loss of time which this dissemination might otherwise suffer. The saying “Like master, like man, ” has a greater significance than is commonly appreciated for the rapid popular acceptance of many elements of upper-class culture.

  13. Screwball

    “Another Whitmer Fednapping Case Goes Boom”

    I read this the other day. I’m in Ohio, not far from Michigan. Many of my PMC friends are Michiganders, and they love them some Gretchen Whitmer. They call her big Gretch. They were on outrage Defcon 10 when it was reported those Trumpers (they live to hate him and his followers) tried to kidnap Whitmer, and still rant about it to this day. Of course nothing they watch or read will tell them the real truth, or about this story where 3 more were acquitted.

    This is another area where the news fails us (on purpose? I think so). They will beat this story to death when the narrative works in the right direction, but crickets when it changes against said narrative. So many are guilty of this. It drives me nuts.

    At the same time, I have to also blame my PMC friends; they have no desire to find the truth, do any self reflection, or even read/hear anything that goes against the echo chamber they choose to live in. If it doesn’t come from MSNBC, CNN, WaPo, NYT, Morning Joe, late night comedians, Bill Kristal, Max Boot, or the Democrats themselves (this also includes the CDC, WHO, etc., when it comes to COVID) – it’s fake news – plain and simple.

    It will eventually be the undoing of this country. Constantly sowing hate, contempt, and misinformation is a dangerous game to be playing. They should be ashamed, but I know they are not. This is today’s reality. *spit*

    1. Feral Finster

      I heard from a michigander PMC human that it didn’t matter that the defendants were innocent as well as victims of entrapment.

      Facts didn’t matter. They were badteam and therefore They. Must. Be..PUNISHED!

  14. ambrit

    “As is well-known: The first one calling for violence is always the cop. Or the spook.”
    Has anyone looked at what shoes or boots he was wearing that day?
    Also, this S Lazar wouldn’t be related to Bob Lazar, would he? Maybe if we could get a look at S Lazar’s birth records. (If he is shown as being born anywhere near Dulce Base, all bets are off.)

      1. ambrit

        My understanding is that military and police boots or shoes are designed for maximum comfort during extended periods of standing and walking. Nurses also have such needs. So, a standardized look is the norm. Apparatchiks of the Organs of State Security, being creatures of habit as it were, would default to their familiar work footwear, even on “secondment” to CoIntelpro projects.
        Secondly, the average “foot soldiers” working for the Powers That Be are not generally selected for imagination and self actuation. Habit and Tradition are their guides. Changing normal footwear, indeed uniforms, for the tatterdemalion look probably must be suggested to them by managers, handlers, overseers etc.
        So, yes, someone must have ‘learned the lesson’ already, but translating that into on the ground actions is another thing entirely.
        Stay safe. Keep that escape route to Fredricton open.

        1. nippersdad

          I seem to recall a picture here on WC just after the Jan. Sixth riots at the capitol where it was pointed out that the tight little groups of people wearing chinos and polos were prolly feds.

          They do have tells.

          1. ashley

            and its just as likely that they have official training (current or former military/contractor/police) but are working in a non official capacity for a right wing group. theres a concerning overlap between armed employees of the state and right wing sympathies.

            this dude likely sang, hence the short sentence and the secrecy.

            1. tegnost

              but are working in a non official capacity for a right wing group

              well we have two right wing parties, which one is sponsoring this…
              The secrecy is obviously because he worked for.gov. Hello. Is that arabica I smell?

  15. Angie Neer

    Re Covid test positivity: “I cannot recall seeing the map so polarized; so much deep green, so much deep red. The absolute numbers are still very small…” Rates of change (vs absolute levels) require careful interpretation, because they emphasize random variation (noise). The smaller the absolute numbers, the greater the noise will appear. I’m not saying that’s the only reason for the apparent polarization, but it can be a factor.

    But also, I strongly second the observation that “these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.” To the list of disincentives, add COST. I just had direct experience with this myself, paying $129 for a PCR test (at Walgreens). Quite a contrast from during the “emergency” when I got multiple PCR tests as well as a few dozen home antigen tests—all of which I and my family needed—for free. I’m well-off, but even I hesitated due to that cost. The number of people getting tested must be a very small fraction of the number infected.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The number of people getting tested must be a very small fraction of the number infected

      It would be nice if there were some sort of co-efficient — it would have changed over time — so we could infer the total number of those infected from today’s positivity numbers. Then we could use that to cross-check the wastewater data (itself assumed, by me and everyone, to be a good proxy for case numbers, but perhaps not.

  16. marym

    Motion to restrict Trump’s commentary:

    The motion requests a “restriction that is targeted at extrajudicial statements that present a serious and substantial danger of materially prejudicing this case. The Government’s proposed order specifies that such statements would include (a) statements regarding the identity, testimony, or credibility of prospective witnesses; and (b) statements about any party, witness, attorney, court personnel, or potential jurors that are disparaging and inflammatory, or intimidating.” Is this really unreasonable, given Trump’s constant trash talk about public officials and the “general public” – voters, election workers, urban residents, etc.?

    Maybe Turley’s correct that the proposed order is still broader than restrictions imposed in other cases (I don’t know) but the notion that it makes Trump some kind of unprecedented victim of the deep state – rather than a defendant who should refrain from disparaging witnesses and potential jurors, and potentially inspiring his followers to further harassment and intimidation – seems extreme. There’s plenty he can still talk about to the electorate, “including quotation or reference to public court records of the case or the defendant’s proclamations of innocence.”

  17. ambrit

    “…“including quotation or reference to public court records of the case.”
    The rub here is in the phrase, “public court records.” I believe the case can be made that the “officials” have so degraded and broadened the definition of what is “dangerous” to disclose that the entire concept is now moot.
    See Snowden, Assange, et. al. They released information the “officials” deemed “too dangerous to disclose.” They were persecuted for it. However, the ‘revealed’ information in each case proved to be in the publics’ interest to know, since that information, and the activities that generated said information, were capable of creating actions and attitudes world wide that would directly harm citizens of the country.
    On a related note, is there any venue in America today where a completely disinterested jury could be empaneled to hear a Trump case? It’s like closing the barn doors after the Politicos have escaped.

    1. marym

      Are you proposing that there will be evidence that’s somehow used against Trump but isn’t part of the public court records? Maybe it’s possible with some “national security” information in the FL documents case – I don’t understand the procedures for that – but it seems unlikely in the election interference and other cases against him.

      I consider that the jury selection process and the personal integrity of the ordinary citizens who serve as jurors still remain viable components of the system. Approximately 1/2 the national jury pool continues to support Trump. Proposing that he, any more or less than anyone else, can’t possibly get a fair trial is an insult to the citizenry, the very kind of insult that the special counsel’s motion is designed to avert.

      1. ambrit

        The personal integrity of the jurors is not the problem. One can possess integrity and still be swayed by internal biases that are unnoticed by the person possessing them. Such is accounted for by sufficiently seasoned legal “experts.” A ‘balanced’ jury is optimal in this situation.
        Considering “surprise” evidence, I must point out that the tangled history of ill dealings by the Police and Intelligence agencies in general has poisoned the well as far as “secret” information is concerned. “National Security” encompasses so much information now that it has become almost a running joke among the general public. I also foresee some “secret” testimony being utilized in these trials. That would make comparisons with Star Chamber proceedings complete.
        The reason that I am arguing that Trump cannot get a “fair trial” is that these charges have assumed the aspect of political lawfare by his adversaries against him and his political career.
        If Trump is to be so prosecuted, then where are the prosecutions of H Clinton for her egregious flouting of the State Secrecy statutes in relation to her basement internet server? Where are the prosecutions of H Biden for influence peddling and bribery attendant to the Burisma Holdings board position? Where is the FBI scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation and it’s dealings, especially as regards to Haiti?
        Finally, whether or not you agree with the idea, the optics of this situation paint Trump solidly as the victim of his political rivals. The timing of all this is the most suspicious part. Just before a major political campaign. Truly, the DNC and the adjacent PMCs are creating in Trump a “Martyr of the Deplorables.”
        The real “insult to the citizenry” here is the ongoing and continual over the last seven years campaign to disenfranchise the citizenry that voted for Trump in 2016, and later in 2020. The message from the Elites to the Plebeians is this: “We know what is best for you. If you will not do as we say voluntarily, then you will be forced to do as we say by hook or by crook.” The special counsel’s petition to the Court is, optically speaking, to muzzle and silence the Candidate. If the Candidate does transgress, then will be the time to act against him. At present, this looks suspiciously like a case of “Pre-crime.” I was not aware that the DoJ has precogs on it’s staff.
        Anyway, enough for now. We aren’t going to be solving all of our problems at once.

        1. tegnost

          If Trump is to be so prosecuted, then where are the prosecutions of H Clinton for her egregious flouting of the State Secrecy statutes in relation to her basement internet server?
          This point alone makes normal people angry
          We aren’t even trying to solve our problems…
          crisis is opportunity and all…

        2. marym

          Yes, efforts by Democrats to impede Trump’s presidency with Russiagate and Ukrainegate were disgraceful. (However, the person who tried to disenfranchise voters in 2020 was Trump). Republicans similarly investigated both Clintons repeatedly during the 90’s. There were multiple investigations of HRC for “Benghazi” and emails. Republicans in Congress tried to impede Obama’s presidency. Republicans have been investigating the Bidens for a few years now. Trump investigated Russiagate and the Clinton foundation . Ask them where are the prosecutions.

          The motion has numerous examples of Trump talking trash about witnesses and potential jurors. It’s a feature of his rhetoric beyond the specifics of this motion. He’s open about his hate for individuals and categories of people, and not just “elites.” He also knows how his followers respond. He welcomes it. He watched it on tv from the WH. He continues trash talking the GA election workers despite the harm already done to them. He surely knows that riot defendants have claimed in court to believe they were acting on his request. He chose to continue trying to be president after he lost an election, and to steal boxes full of government documents and fail to give them back; and he chooses to defend himself with hateful rhetoric. I’m pretty sure juries can sort this out. Meanwhile someone with such raging contempt for the people of this country doesn’t get my vote as a victim.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Proposing that he, any more or less than anyone else, can’t possibly get a fair trial is an insult to the citizenry, the very kind of insult that the special counsel’s motion is designed to avert.

        I agree, and the conclusion I draw is that Smith’s motion is 100% political and designed to help Trump lose the election.

  18. Onward to Dystopia

    Just saw this headline on the NYT: “F-35 Jet Mystery Appears to End as Searchers Find Debris”

    Earlier today I was doubling over with laughter at a headline calling on the public for help finding the missing jet.
    You know, it doesn’t surprise me that this country spent 20 years in Afghanistan and still lost to the Taliban.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Where Did the Carter White House’s Solar Panels Go?”

    Obama would never have put those solar panels back on the White House. He was as big an oil man as George Bush.

  20. maipenrai

    “Three reasons Biden is struggling with Black and Latino voters”
    1. Joe Biden
    2. Joe Biden
    3. Joe Biden

  21. maipenrai

    “The entire field of PPE engineering disproves this absurd claim ”
    no, it doesnt. Anyone claiming it does does not understand medical evidence.

      1. maipenrai

        there are countless examples of things well engineered that don’t have the effect we are looking for.
        The claim is” there is no solid evidence from well designed trials to show that Masks reduce transmission of Covid. ” How can this claim be absurd? It is simply a review of the best literature.
        The claim is not: there is no way to design a mask that filters tiny viral particles. That is an engineering question.

        1. debug

          The absurdity lies in the assertion that these were “well-designed trials” and that they yielded “solid evidence.” The “evidence” from the Cochrane Review and the methodolgies of the underlying studies have been debunked thoroughly by many here at NC in prior posts and comments.

          Further, from your original post: “Anyone claiming it does does not understand medical evidence.” The blanket assertion that anyone claiming contrary to your opinion does not understand evidence is quite an insult. I think many of the readers of NC have a very good grasp of what constitutes medical “evidence” these days when most of the major medical journals and the government agencies responsible for determining what “medical” “evidence” is are captured in their entirety by entities more interested in dollars than in the well-being of human beings.

          1. ambrit

            Repeating a falsehood loudly and continuously eventually turns it into “Common Knowledge.”
            In politics, “Common Knowledge” always trumps Truth.

Comments are closed.