2:00PM Water Cooler 9/21/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Moustached Grass-Warbler, Nairobi NP, Nairobi, Kenya.

* * *


“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

“The Dry Run: The Ouster of a County Official as an ‘Insurrectionist’ Creates Ominous Precedents for Trump” [Lawfare]. From 2022; this has been brewing for some time. “A judge today removed a county official from office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the hoary post-Civil War provision that bars certain people from holding office if they have “”engaged in insurrection”” against the United States. Judge Francis Mathew, of the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, ousted Otero County (N.M.) Commissioner Couy Griffin, due to his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. According to lawyers who brought the case, it represents the first time a court has disqualified an official under Section 3 since 1869. (Congress refused to seat a U.S. congressman, Victor Berger, under the section in 1919.) Mathew’s 49-page ruling also marked the first formal judicial finding that the Capitol riot amounted to an “”insurrection”” within the meaning of that constitutional provision. The decision could have enormous repercussions for the nation’s next presidential race, as advocacy groups have vowed to try to bar Trump from appearing on state ballots on the grounds that his role in instigating the Capitol riot disqualifies him from holding federal office. Asked by Lawfare for comment, Griffin, who represented himself in the case, said in an email: ‘Perfect example of tyranny. To use the civil courts and the ruling of a liberal district court judge to subvert the will of the people who already spoke thr[ough] a failed recall [vote] is tyranny in its purest form. Maybe this is the start of the Biden regime[‘]s war on ultra maga Americans.'”

“Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Imprudence of Originalism” [Ius & Iustitium]. “[T]he best contemporary source for the original legal meaning of Section Three adopts an entirely different approach to the interpretation of law [from originalism: Griffin’s Case… Baude and Paulsen’s argument for self-execution is in large part an attack on Chase’s opinion. They accuse him of the gravest jurisprudential sins in the originalist bible. Attention to consequences… Attention to authorial intent…. And commitment to the rationality of law…. But I will note the irony implicit in Baude and Paulsen’s decision to attack Griffin’s Case on originalist grounds. Given how naturally Chief Justice Chase takes up the interpretive tools of the classical legal tradition, whence their confidence that originalism is the rule in ‘our constitutional system'”? • Key question!

* * *

“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.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“How Donald Trump’s DOJ gave Biden a major assist in the coming impeachment probe” [Politico]. “In January 2020, the Donald Trump-led Justice Department formally declared that impeachment inquiries by the House are invalid unless the chamber takes formal votes to authorize them. That opinion — issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — came in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to launch an impeachment inquiry into Trump without initially holding a vote for it. Not only is it still on the books, it is binding on the current administration as it responds to Tuesday’s announcement by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to authorize an impeachment inquiry into Biden, again without a vote…. Biden, as the president, would have more flexibility about whether to heed the OLC opinion. But he could simply choose to follow Trump’s precedent. He also may have grounds to assert executive privilege that could similarly tie up GOP investigators — claims Trump also lodged to jam his own inquiry.”

* * *

“The Democrats’ Deal With the Devil” [Wall Street Journal]. “The existential threat to the Democratic establishment as the 2020 presidential primaries unfolded was Vermont’s socialist senator, Bernie Sanders. Coming off a big win in the Nevada caucuses, Sen. Sanders headed to South Carolina with a leading delegate count of 45—and momentum. The Democrats’ No. 2 vote-getter then wasn’t Joe Biden. It was, incredible to recall, Pete Buttigieg, holding 26 delegates after the voting in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Mr. Biden was third, with 15 delegates after a poor showing in Nevada. Trailing was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a progressive who lacked Bernie’s mysterious charisma. The Clyburn endorsement, which sent a signal to the state’s black voters, boosted Mr. Biden to a 48.6% win in South Carolina…. Let’s understand what happened back in South Carolina…. The conceit now, or euphemism, in every conversation or poll is that Mr. Biden is “”too old.”” As in the 25th Amendment’s capacity concerns. But the Biden inner circle knew in February 2020 that the former vice president was already on the brink of being ‘too old.’ Thus the Delaware-basement campaign. But by committing to Mr. Biden, the Democrats got possession of the powers of the presidency for four years… Now that fellow on the other side of Faustian bargains has shown up to tell the Democrats their payment is due. After giving them four years of extraordinary power, he’s taking back Joe Biden. What lies ahead for the Biden-less party could be a hard slog.”

“As GOP slams Garland over Hunter Biden probe, he keeps repeating he had no role” [FOX]. “As Garland repeated his basic answers with robotic precision – he’s stayed out of it, Weiss a Trump appointee, he had the authority, I promoted him at his request, I can’t discuss ongoing criminal investigations – he gave no ground. Usually Cabinet members facing a hostile panel will take a couple of jabs back, but Garland never abandoned his Sphinx-like demeanor. Maybe a couple of Republicans wished they had put him on the Supreme Court.” • Video:

The dude in the horn-rimmed glasses is entertaining.

* * *

“Eric Clapton helps raise $1 million for RFK Jr. campaign” [The Hill] but “Eric Clapton Raises $2M for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Campaign in California [Hollywood Reporter]. Half when to Kennedy’s PAC.

“Who’s Funding the DNC?” [Liam Sturgess, The Kennedy Beacon]. “It’s time to ask directly: who is funding the DNC and thus deciding the party’s nominee?” Plenty of names. This caught my eye: “[T’here are additional donors contributing directly to the DNC. The largest individual donor is Michael Sacks, Chairman and CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management (GCM), an ‘alternative investments‘ firm in Chicago. Sacks is a part-owner of the Chicago-Sun Times newspaper, which ran a story in July titled Don’t let RFK Jr. kill you. The piece is filled with vitriol towards Kennedy and re-interpretations of his criticisms of the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, and the CIA’s established complicity in the murder of his uncle and father. Sacks is also on the board of directors for the Obama Foundation [of course], whose namesake declared in June that he didn’t anticipate ‘any kind of serious primary challenge to Joe Biden,’ and that the Democratic Party was unified in support of the incumbent. With his trifecta of influence in finance, politics and the media, Sacks’ donations are not difficult to view as conflicts of interest.” • Then of course there’s the question of where the money goes. From five years ago, questions not answered then, and not answered to this day:

First words: “This smells.” Indeed.

* * *

“3 Economic Risks That Could Decide the 2024 Race” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “The linchpin of the case for Democratic optimism, however, is the assumption that public sentiment about the economy will only improve between now and November 2024. By all appearances, widespread antipathy for inflation and other forms of post-pandemic economic dysfunction has weighed on Biden’s approval ratings over the past two years. But in recent months, price growth has slowed while employment has remained high. The so-called misery index — the unemployment rate combined with the inflation rate — is now at a lower level than it had reached during the reelections of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.” And: “It’s unclear precisely how much of the public’s displeasure with the economy reflects objective material conditions and how much derives from media coverage or a diffuse discontent with post-pandemic life.” From the commentariat, as material as the digits to the right of TOTAL on a ton of receipts. More: “Here, three risk factors that threaten to undermine the U.S. economy — and thus Biden’s reelection prospects — next year: 1. Oil prices could rise and then remain elevated…. 2. Americans might suddenly start feeling the pain of the Fed’s rapid interest-rate hikes…. 3. Consumer spending could drop precipitously as households’ reserves are exhausted.” • Let’s wait and see.

* * *

“Democrats keep winning special elections in battleground states” [The Hill]. “Brent Peabody of the Center for a New American Security has tracked Democrats’ overperformance in more than 20 state elections in 2023. The party’s candidates have outpaced Biden’s 2020 performance by substantial margins. Noting the same trend, ABC News reported that Democrats had ‘outperformed the partisan lean‘ by an average of 10 percent in an analysis of 23 special elections in 2023. That doesn’t mean they always won, as 10 percent would not be enough in deep red districts. But it is a good sign for Democratic presidential hopes in 2024 battleground states.”

PA: “Democrats retain narrow control of Pennsylvania House after special election” [Associated Press]. “Democrats will retain their one-vote majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after voters in Pittsburgh on Tuesday elected former congressional aide Lindsay Powell. Powell’s victory gives Democrats a 102-101 majority in the House. Republicans have a 28-22 majority in the Senate….” • Important, since PA is a swing state.

Republican Funhouse

“The new conservative dilemma” [The New Criterion]. “In setting forth this new strategy for the Left, Marcuse broke with Marxism in some important respects. He did not see workers as a revolutionary group, because affluence and consumerism had lulled them into support for capitalist America. Marcuse looked instead to new groups—students, intellectuals, blacks, and feminists—to carry forward the revolution against capitalism. Marcuse claimed that the number of allies and allied groups would expand as the capitalist system created demands for more teachers, professors, government workers, and the like. More important, Marcuse called for a cultural revolution rather than a proletarian seizure of power—in other words, a gradual revolution in values that would destroy consumerism, eliminate racism, change the relations between the sexes, transform educational practices, and eventually wreck the existing bourgeois culture that sustained the capitalist order. While conservatives were celebrating victories in the Cold War and the restoration of free markets and lower taxes in the United States, radicals were busy penetrating the system in preparation for an opportunity to overthrow it—an opportunity they seized in 2020.” • “Some important respects” is doing a lot of work there! 

“Inside the Next Republican Revolution” [Politico]. “In truth, the program laid out by [Paul] Dans and his fellow Trumpers, called Project 2025, is far more ambitious than anything Ronald Reagan dreamed up. Dans, from his seat inside The Heritage Foundation, and scores of conservative groups aligned with his program are seeking to roll back nothing less than 100 years of what they see as liberal encroachment on Washington. They want to overturn what began as Woodrow Wilson’s creation of a federal administrative elite and later grew into a vast, unaccountable and mostly liberal bureaucracy (as conservatives view it) under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society… The Project 2025 team is scouring records and social media accounts to rule out heretics — effectively administering loyalty tests — and launching a so-called Presidential Administration Academy that tutors future MAGA bureaucrats with video classes in ‘Conservative Governance 101.’ Dans says 17 lectures have been prepared (with titles such as ‘Oversight and Investigations’ and ‘The Federal Budget Process’), with another 13 in production, and nearly a thousand potential new bureaucrats recruited from around the country are already in training. These efforts are intended to ensure that the chaos and high-level defections of Trump’s first term never happen again, along with prosecutions like the ones the ex-president now faces.” • Well worth a read; I mean, at least they’re thinking of how to solve the problem of Trump not being able to hire good help. That said, the Bushies had the same issue: As it turned out, it really wasn’t possible to run the country (or win the Iraq War) with conservative activists and graduates from Christianist law schools. I doubt that Project 2025 will scale, at least in the short term; sending in some cherub who’s watched a few videos to deal with one of Neera Tanden’s fixers — or, more to the point, a spook — isn’t a recipe for success. 

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.

* * *

There is a sort of polishing or optimization process that every Democrat seems to undergo. It happened to AOC. Now Fetterman demonstrates fealty (and may not even know that’s what he’s doing):

Now, I like picador work as much as the next man; no problem there. But “fully support” Ukraine? Besides being mealy-mouthed (unlike, say, “jagoff”, or “save democracy by wearing a suit”) what does that even mean? Boots on the ground? Nuclear weapons?

NOTE To pre-empt vacuous dogpiling, I consistently expressed admiration for Fetterman’s “Every County, Every Vote” campaign, while reserving judgment on the candidate himself. Also, clinical depression is a terrible disease (though I have wondered what I would feel if I encountered The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™ for the first time. Situational depression, at the very least, seems like an entirely rational response).

* * *

Michelle Goldberg told the Democrats to stop doing this:

The “team” locution seems new. Here it is again:

This is the mug:

Bourdieu speaks of “symbolic violence” below. I’m here for it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Juror Who Made Race Comments Removed From $1.3 Billion Tax Case” [Bloomberg]. “One Black man, Juror 44, allegedly said the defendants deserved to go to jail ‘because they are rich, White and entitled.’ A White female, Juror 26, told the judge that she’s ‘a White person standing up for White people.’ The judge had to repeatedly intervene, telling the panel at one point not to say ‘f—— you’ to one another.” And the deck: “Judge lets juror ‘standing up for White people’ stay on case.” • Idpol pollutes the jury pool….


“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!

* * *


“Mask Mandate Demanded By California Students” [Newsweek]. “Some California college students are fighting to have mask mandates reinstated amid ongoing discussions around the return to some COVID-19 precautions. Last week, the Disabled Students Union (DSU) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), announced on Instagram that a proposed resolution titled ‘A Resolution to Mandate Masking, Weekly PCR testing, and Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccines, and to Improve Ventilation, and Reinstate the COVID-19 Task Force’ failed to receive enough votes from the university’s Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC). Some of the main aspects of the resolution proposed by the DSU included mask requirements for indoor and crowded outdoor spaces, weekly COVID-19 PCR testing requirements, updated COVID-19 vaccine requirements, and the reinstatement of the COVID-19 task force at UCLA.” • 

* * *

Having little hair, I have a measure of privilege regarding masks and hair issues. Perhaps these tweets will help:


This is the hack:

Ear savers:

I hope this helps!

* * *

“A history of the medical mask and the rise of throwaway culture” [The Lancet]. “It was mainly the use of the mask to cover the mouth and nose (and beard) during the Manchurian plague of 1910–11 and the influenza pandemic of 1918–19 that turned the face mask into a means of protecting medical workers and patients from infectious diseases outside of the operating room. During the 1918–19 influenza pandemic, wearing a mask became mandatory for police forces, medical workers, and even residents in some US cities, although its use was often controversial. Yet in cities like San Francisco, the decline in deaths from influenza was partly attributed to the mandatory mask-wearing policies. At this point, the rationale for wearing masks moved beyond their original use in the operating theatre: they now also protected the wearer against infection.” •

Covid is Airborne

The sociology of standards-writing:

Sounds like HICPAC….

* * *

“Intro to Far-UV” [Joey Fox]. “At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when people were discussing far-UV as a possible solution, there were discussions about ozone generation. It seemed the consensus was that it isn’t a concern. For example, this publication came to the conclusion that “”the contribution of the main 222-nm wavelength to the ozone generation is usually negligible.’… However, recently there have been multiple publications which can be found here and here which directly measured ozone generation from far-UV lamps. The conclusions were that the ozone generation was significant and should be considered when designing a whole room far-UV system…. Because these issues are still not well known, caution is still warranted with far-UV. Upper room UV, while not being as effective, can still provide 20–30 equivalent air changes per hour without directly exposing occupants to UV light, so it is currently a reasonable alternative. However, in small spaces and spaces with low ceilings, upper room UV is not an option, so far-UV might be the only possibility to get a very high disinfection rate and provide a high level of protection. In my opinion, for personal residential use, far-UV can be considered, but should only be used in high-risk situations and should be accompanied with ventilation (open windows) and filtration to mitigate air pollution from far-UV. When used in this way, the benefits likely outweigh the risks.” • Important!

* * *

“73% of parents are concerned about how poor air quality affects their child’s health. Here’s what experts say.” [Yahoo Life!]:

For the study, researchers polled approximately 2,000 parents and asked them about their local air quality, as well as how concerned they were about it. The researchers found that most parents (73%) said they were concerned about the impact of air quality problems on their children’s health, but just 63% said they felt that they knew what actions to take around air quality problems.

Two-thirds of parents also said that, in the past two years, they experienced at least one day with poor or unhealthy air quality in their area due to wildfires, excessive heat, seasonal changes like pollen, elevated ozone levels and industrial pollution.

The majority of parents — 92% — said they got their information about air quality from news or weather reports, and they did the following when levels were bad:

  • kept their windows closed (69%)
  • limited their child’s time outdoors (68%)
  • had their child avoid strenuous outdoor activities (47%)
  • used a home air filter (19%)
  • had their child wear a mask when outdoors (11%)

Worth noting: 14% of those surveyed said they took no action when air quality was poor in their area, but nearly 1 in 5 of the parents polled said they believe that poor air quality impacted their child’s health.

A long way to go….. 

Elite Maleficence

“Northeastern University granted $17.5 million by CDC to become infectious disease detection, prep center” [FOX]. “The Center for Advanced Epidemic Analytics and Predictive Modeling Technology, or EPISTORM, will ‘help detect and prepare the United States for the next outbreak of infectious disease, especially in rural areas,’ according to the university’s Northeastern Global News (NGN). The funds will be used to coordinate the work of various consortium members across the U.S. to prepare local communities for outbreaks, including RSV and the seasonal flu.” But: “The EPISTORM center will lead a group of universities, health care organization and private companies in the research. Neighboring Boston University, as well as Indiana University, the University of Florida, and the University of California at San Diego are the educational institutions in the consortium. Other group members include Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Concentric Ginkgo Bioworks, MaineHealth and Northern Light Health. New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists are also represented in the group.” • It would be nice to see wastewater and aerosol scientists at the table (nobody from the University of Colorado, for example?

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED 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 16:

Drop coinciding with wastewater drop.

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 20:

Drop continues. 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.

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC? 


NOT UPDATED 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 16:

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: 1,175,495 – 1,175,395 = 100 (100 * 365 = 36,500 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 21:

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

• CDC puts out another light:

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits plummeted by 20,000 to 201,000 on the week ending September 16th, the lowest since late January and well below market expectations of 225,000. Meanwhile, continuing claims fell by 21,000 to a near eight-month low of 1,662,000 in the earlier week, indicating the unemployed are having an easier time finding new work. The data added to evidence that the labor market remains at historically tight levels, pointing to added resilience to the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening cycle and adding leeway for a potential hike in November.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US fell to -13.5 in September 2023, down from 12 in August and worse than market forecasts of -0.7.”

* * *

Finance: “Airlines Are Just Banks Now” [The Atlantic]. “Here’s how the system works now: Airlines create points out of nothing and sell them for real money to banks with co-branded credit cards. The banks award points to cardholders for spending, and both the banks and credit-card companies make money off the swipe fees from the use of the card. Cardholders can redeem points for flights, as well as other goods and services sold through the airlines’ proprietary e-commerce portals. For the airlines, this is a great deal. They incur no costs from points until they are redeemed—or ever, if the points are forgotten. This setup has made loyalty programs highly lucrative. Consumers now charge nearly 1 percent of U.S. GDP to Delta’s American Express credit cards alone. A 2020 analysis by the Financial Times found that Wall Street lenders valued the major airlines’ mileage programs more highly than the airlines themselves. United’s MileagePlus program, for example, was valued at $22 billion, while the company’s market cap at the time was only $10.6 billion. Is this a good deal for the American consumer? That’s a trickier question. Paying for a flight or a hotel room with points may feel like a free bonus, but because credit-card-swipe fees increase prices across the economy—Visa or Mastercard takes a cut of every sale—redeeming points is more like getting a little kickback. Certainly the system is bad for Americans who don’t have points-earning cards. They pay higher prices on ordinary goods and services but don’t get the points, effectively subsidizing the perks of card users, who tend to be wealthier already. Like the federal reserve, airlines issue currency—points—out of thin air. They also get to decide how much that currency is worth and what it can be spent on. This helps explain why the points system feels so opaque and, often, unfair. Online analysts try to offer estimates of points’ cash value, but airlines can reduce these values after the fact and change how points can be redeemed.” • Hmm. Readers?

Tech: “‘Harry Potter’ audiobook narrator Stephen Fry said AI was used to steal his voice, and warned that convincing deepfake videos of celebrities will be next” [Business Insider]. “He added: ‘It could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm Parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission. And this, what you just heard, was done without my knowledge. So I heard about this, I sent it to my agents on both sides of the Atlantic, and they went ballistic —  they had no idea such a thing was possible.’ Fry said he warned his agent that this was just the beginning. ‘It won’t be long until full deepfake videos are just as convincing,’ he said.” • Please don’t tell the Ukrainians. Though they probably already know.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 46 Neutral (previous close: 47 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 21 at 1:41:53 PM ET.

The Gallery

“A 19th Century Masterpiece That Scandalizes Still” [Vulture]. Olympia, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “The Black model is Laure. We do not know her last name, though like Meurent she posed for Manet multiple times. She is dressed in a light pink, holding a bouquet of flowers…. Manet has not painted her crudely or without tenderness, and there is an awareness of Laure’s presence and her thoughts as she looks upon Meurent’s prone figure….. He described Laure in his journal as being ‘very beautiful.’…. He is a master of the color black; few artists have ever painted such rich combinations of this shade. His brush handling is simultaneously studied and quick, deft and unpredictable. …. Although it took a long time for western audiences to even see Laure properly, there is something in her pose that breaks with other conventions of perspective. Like the viewer, she is looking at Meurent. But the viewer can see her too. So here lies another reading of the painting: It is almost as if Manet were asking us to see the courtesan, this modern Venus representing the depths and peaks of European culture, through another set of eyes, dimly glimpsed in the background.” • I dug out my copy of Bourdieu’s Manet from the avalanche next to my bedside table; he has this to say (pp 241-2):

Only one person — using a pseudonym, Ravenez — understood that Olympia was a parody of Titian’s Venus of Urbino. which is at once shocking and problematic: How could anyone fail to see this?

Many commentators focus on the position of the sitter’s hand in Olympia: Oddly enough, this is one of the things about the painting that generated the most outrage. Manet was exasperated by the poses that studio models were asked to strike. He kept saying: ‘Come on, do you really act like that when you are going about your life?’…. It seems fair to say that he wanted a natural pose, but what was the purpose of the hand in a nude? It served as a fig leaf. So he painted a hand which does indeed serve as a fig leaf…. [We should] bear inmind that understanding [Olympia‘s] specific formal revolution means seeing it as a parody, that is to say, as an act of symbolic violence perpretrated against a dominant symbolic form.

Perhaps if any of our New York readers go to the show, they can report back.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Play Undead: The Hidden Healing Power of Self-Triggering” [OK Doomer]. “My horror binge happened to coincide with Halloween season, so I made a ritual out of it. A few times a week, I watched a horror movie. I marched my way through all of the Paranormal Activity franchise. I watched the Insidious and The Conjuring movies. I worked my way up to Sinister and The Babadook, widely regarded as the scariest movies ever made. The next day, I always woke up feeling more relaxed. Things didn’t bother me as much. Painful memories started to resurface, but my brain could deal with them. It could process them. It was prepared for the flood of emotions. It was ready for the catharsis that followed. Horror movies helped me grieve an abusive parent.” • Hmm.

“For John Todd Wright, 1952-2023” [Michael Smith, Crying in the Wilderness]. • This is a poem from Michael Smith, old-school blogger from “Stop Me Before I Vote Again,” inventor of “The Ratchet Effect.”

Class Warfare

“Confused Automakers Braced for Strike at the Wrong Plants” [The Intercept]. “In the weeks leading up to the strike, a cat-and-mouse game between the UAW and the companies unfolded, a version of guerrilla warfare between the parties. Through targeted walk-offs, the union aimed to disrupt the companies’ operations with the fewest possible workers, which would allow the union’s strike fund to last longer into the conflict — essentially forcing the companies to pay workers even during the strike period. The companies, meanwhile, sought to anticipate precisely which plants would be struck and reorganize production and distribution to minimize losses. The Big Three guessed badly.” The article doesn’t say this, but it looks like the UAW got a story planted in the press that suckered the Big Three into thinking the wrong plants were targets. Well played!

“How UAW Tossed Its Old Playbook and Pursued a Surprise-Attack Strike Strategy” [Wall Street Journal]. “The strike—which targets three assembly plants in three different states—was the first time the 88-year-old union had staged simultaneous walkouts at all three automakers. Fain has threatened walkouts at additional plants could come, and with little notice, the longer negotiations drag on…. For Fain, there are also risks. The novel tactic creates more complexity and confusion for the UAW’s members, and will require more discipline among workers in order to succeed, some workers and labor experts say. Unlike a traditional all-in walkout, Fain’s strategy is having an uneven effect on members within an organization whose motto is solidarity….. The president’s core group of advisers included a cohort of experienced UAW members who were keen to work with the new administration, including people in research and organizing who were knowledgeable about the union’s history and had relationships with its locals. There were also newcomers, especially in the communications, legal and political strategy departments. Members of this team largely had roots in the Service Employees International Union, a big healthcare union, as well as Labor Notes, an online publication that describes itself as a voice for union activists.” • I don’t know why I have to read the Wall Street Journal ffs to get this level of detail. Where is Kim Kelly in Teen Vogue?!

“Michigan businesses offer discounts to UAW workers on strike against Big Three” [MLive]. “Some Michigan businesses are offering discounted prices to United Auto Workers as an act of solidarity in the ongoing strike against automakers Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis…. UAW members can stop by Ella Mae’s Place, a soul food restaurant in Detroit, to receive 10% off their order, too.” • I would swear I remembered Ella Mae’s Place, possibly from a previous election. Can’t find anything though!

“Tesla is the next biggest union target in the United States. Sorry, Elon Musk” [Guardian]. “Though it doesn’t sell as many cars in America as the big three, the total value of Tesla (thanks to an army of cult-like investors) is more than five times the value of the Big Three companies combined. Despite years of effort from the UAW, Tesla is not unionized. The company has been found guilty of illegal union-busting tactics, including firing workers who were trying to organize. Such tactics are fully in line with the attitude of Musk himself, who has routinely made anti-union statements and publicly threatened to take away employees’ stock options if they unionized…. When the large majority of an industry is unionized, big strikes can raise standards for everyone, raising the floor for union and non-union workers alike. When only part of an industry is unionized, though, the non-union companies will always feel like they have an economic advantage – and, as a consequence, the unionized companies will fight harder against union demands, because they fear being undercut by their non-union competitors…. This dynamic is playing out in the auto strike right now. Tesla already pays its workers significantly less than the big three, and as long as Musk has no union to answer to, he will sit back and savor a UAW win against his competitors that widens that gap. There is a straightforward solution to this: unionize Tesla.”

News of the Wired

“Wine’s True Origins Are Finally Revealed” [Scientific American]. “A large international group of researchers collected and analyzed 2,503 unique vines from domesticated table and wine grapes and 1,022 wild grapevines. By extracting DNA from the vines and determining the patterns of genetic variations among them, they found some surprises…. Genetic data indicate that 400,000 and 300,000 years ago grapes grew naturally across the western and central Eurasian continent. Roughly 200,000 years ago a cold, dry, ice-age climate slowly killed off vines in the central Mediterranean Sea region, cleaving vine habitat into two isolated areas: one to the west of the sea (today Portugal, Spain and France) and one to the east (roughly Israel, Syria, Turkey and Georgia). Around 56,000 years ago the eastern region separated again into smaller isolated areas: the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and western Asia (Israel, Jordon and Iraq)…. humans in western Asia domesticated table grapes around 11,000 years ago. Other people, in the Caucasus, domesticated wine grapes around the same time— although they probably didn’t master winemaking for another 2,000 or 3,000 years. Early farmers, the revised story goes, migrated from western Asia toward Iberia and brought table vines with them. Along the way the farmers crossbred the table vines with local wild grapevines. The earliest crossbreeding probably happened in what is now Israel and Turkey, creating muscat grapes, which are high in sugar—good for eating and fermenting. Gradually the table grape was genetically transformed into different wine grapes in the Balkans, Italy, France and Spain.” • Neat!

* * *

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 MT jefe:

MT jefe writes: “Wild iris and lupines, Montana.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. antidlc


    Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19

    Provisional Death Counts for COVID-19


    Datasets linked on this page will be available on data.cdc.gov. Please note that these datasets will no longer be updated after September 27, 2023.

    Provisional data is available on CDC WONDER (wonder.cdc.gov). Data are updated weekly, and users can query data by a variety of demographic, geographic, and temporal options.

    Please direct questions and inquiries to cdcinfo@cdc.gov with the subject line “NVSS Mortality Surveillance Data”.

      1. JBird4049

        I keep thinking of AIDS and all the fun it was back in the 1980s. It was another disease that dared not speak its name with the media and the government ignoring it excepting the medical system.

        I do not think that ignoring the deaths and the injuries is going to last as long as those in power hope for. Yes, it did take having AIDS breaking out into the hemophiliac population, many who needed blood transfusions, say during surgery, and the hardcore drug users for the government to finally get serious. However, even before, all those people dying was hard to hide even though it was “only” the gays doing the dying.

        I remember looking at the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday obituaries, seeing all those people dying “after a brief illness.” You know, because in the United States it hit the then deplorables of gays, drug users, and prostitutes, it was easier to ignore. Even when it hit the often middle class white party goers (It was the 1970s and 80s, now), the victim blaming was strong. Then came the hemophiliacs and surgery patients, which were a bit harder to victimize.

        I don’t remember the number of deaths, maybe because I do not want to remember, but despite Covid being less lethal with an often less painful and prolonged death, it still is frequently lethal and often crippling, and it is an airborne disease unlike HIV/AIDS. I am pretty sure Covid has killed more, but the deaths are less obvious. If people were getting Kaposi’s Sarcoma, it would be more obvious, but then again, AIDS kills you by destroying the immune system allowing everything else kill you. In that it like Covid somewhat, but my understanding is that it is the part of the immune system dealing with cancer that is the hardest hit, unlike with AIDS, which obliterates the disease fighting part.

        Who knows? Aside from increase deaths from cancer and heart attacks, plus all the symptoms of Long Covid, maybe I will get to see Kaposi’s again. Anyways, my overly long, maudlin comment was just supposed to say that the number of dying might soon be too much to hide.

  2. P-100

    Thanks all for the info on P-100 stuff the other day I learned some useful things.
    Regarding DIY air filters, I read on twitter somewhere awhile back (cant remember from whom) that taping one 20 inch MERV-13 to a 20 inch box fan was pretty much just as effective or close to as effective at filtration as building a Corsi-Rosenthal box. So in the interest of saving money on filters because cost is an issue, I want to duct tape one MERV-13 to a box fan instead of building the CR box. One website warned specifically about using Filterbuy MERV 13s from Amazon because they tested poorly at filtration, so I am looking at BNX Trufilter instead- does anyone have any experience with which brand of MERV-13s filter effectively and are available on Amazon? I tried Home Depot and Wal-mart but they only had MERV-12s or lower, so Amazon it is. The BNX filters were like 10$ each, the 3M Filtretes are like 20$ each, I dont want to double the cost with the 3Ms but if the off brand types dont work well then its worth paying 20$ per filter I guess.

    I would have thought I would place the filter at the front of the fan so air blows through it, but looking at the CR box instructions online it looks like I am supposed to put it in the back of the fan and it sucks air through the filter from the back to the front.

    Also, beginning September 25th, every U.S household can order 4 more free rapid covid tests delivered to their home, it says on covid.gov/tests

    1. Tom B.

      If the fan gets a filtered air supply, it prevent dust and yucky stuff from collecting on the blades and getting into the motor and bearings – very hard to clean especially if you have a smoker in the house or do any food frying. I was previously using a Honeywell HPA type HEPA filter which should have worked this way but due to poor case design it leaked enough crap through gaps in the plastic case that it got filthy inside and the motor became extremely noisy from bearing noise.
      Now using homemade box with 3M Filtrete 2200 filter on back, and four Noctua NF-A20 200mm, 800 RPM fans on front. Nice and quiet. The filter is expensive but is similar electrostatic type as N95 masks. After just a couple of months filter is noticeably brown, maybe due to local wildfire smoke, even with windows closed whenever PM2.5 is above 20 PPM. But hey, that could have ended up in my lungs !

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Number of folds is an important point. Filtretes are pricey, but with more folds have far more surface area than the bargain ones. So more filtration area=less replacement. With the one filter on the fan face, I’ve seen examples where they use the 3 or 4 inch thick filters that are out there. More surface area.

      I’ve actually purchased one of the computer fan units, because it means no dust in the house. As in, no dusting anymore.

  3. Johnstone Family

    3 Economic Risks That Could Decide the 2024 Race…the perception of and the real economy?

    As a Sanders disappointed and now (outraged at the DNC) Kennedy supporter,
    we vow to sit on our wallets until February 2025.

    Every dollar not spent into the Bideneconomy is a vote to stop possible nuclear annihilation, censorship, fomenting civil war and business as usual.

    Not One Cent of Discretionary Spending until then.
    Food and energy the only purchases.

    1. nippersdad

      So what happens to local economies with small businesses? Seems like we did that already with Covid, and it didn’t work out so well. Biden et al will get along just fine without your spending, but the same cannot be said for the two thirds of the country presently living paycheck to paycheck.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        not a perfect workaround, since every mom and pop still extant is plugged into the machine…but i target my spending to them.
        so at least i’m spending a better portion into the local economy than i would darkening the door of the various corporate outlets…that even exist way out here.
        i mean, the grocery store is owned by a regional corpse…but not in the same way that the dollar store(s) are.
        how they treat their people figures into it, too…i’ll take HEB(not a small company) over wallmart(gigantic behemoth), any day.
        heb, by all accounts, treats their people pretty well, comparatively.
        avoid extractive entities, who have a big presence on a stock market.

        until there’s a parallel system up and running, its likely the best we can do.

        and like ive said a million times on these pages…there’s no substitute for knowing your bank president…where he lives, where his kids and wife work and hang out, etc.
        it’s a check on bad behavior.

        1. nippersdad

          Yep. We have been boycotting places like Amazon, Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Krogers for decades now. Some of these places I cannot even remember why, but just that at some point it was deemed necessary.

          There is a lot to be said for giving your business to the little, family owned Chinese restaurant where Lucy knows your voice over the phone when you make your order rather than some doordash thing from a Krogers deli. I don’t really see why that should be hard to understand.

          One need only look at the homeless encampments behind Krogers and think about where they all came from to see the benefits of supporting your local economies. The Bushvilles have only gotten larger over the years, and Biden won’t care if you make his even larger, but we should.

          And, this will sound hokey, but “there but for the grace of God go I.” If we treated each other better maybe we would be less likely to vote in people who hate our guts.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            i have never been a christian, but “there, but for the grace of god, go i” is somewhere near the core of my Being.
            part of what got me run off from places like Kos and FB, and made me abandon the demparty.
            because i live among their enemies…and hafta interact with a bunch of people(now including most dems) who disagree with me about a whole lot of things.
            but what many of us agree on is that humans have inherent worth, and shouldnt be forced into outer darkness because they didnt use the right pronoun.

            1. nippersdad

              Though I would not call myself (much of a) Christian, either, the thing that I find most attractive about West is his emphasis on “the least of these”. When was the last time we heard such rhetoric from someone that we could actually believe of them?

              I made Kos and FB run me off, though. “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” is kind of my sweet spot. You just cannot go too far wrong that way.

          2. marym

            Some time during the 201X years when I first read stories about working conditions at Amazon warehouses, I stopped buying from Amazon. Also around that time I decided, except for electronics where it’s impossible, to buy only stuff made in the US. I didn’t think much about it, but somehow figured lots of people would do the same, and there would be some change to the direction we were heading. It hasn’t been difficult and I’ve never understood why it wasn’t important to more people, at least those with some flexibility about price or convenience.

  4. Adam

    “ Americans might suddenly start feeling the pain of the Fed’s rapid interest-rate hikes”

    Is this a joke? We’re already screaming about out of control greedflation. I guess it isn’t real until the courtiers, press lackeys and their donors care which isn’t likely until hell freezes over.

    1. nippersdad

      This is the point where Nancy Pelosi makes a video telling the proles to eat designer ice cream out of Sub-Zero freezers.

  5. LadyXox

    Airlines as banks: for anyone who listens to TrueAnonPod, this is old news. They basically did this entire story, including the figures of market cap vs. airline point valuation given in the excerpt above. See episode 310: The Plane Truth from Aug 10, 2023. The Atlantic should be paying Liz Franzac and Brace Belden.

  6. IMOR

    re: Trump DoJ ‘boost’ to Biden in impeachment process:
    My understanding has been that, like the state Attorney Generals’ opinions, DoJ opinions are advisory, reasoned statements of belief about what the law is, likely to be observed by and within the Executive branch, but without a shred of binding authority over or any particular weight before even the lowest court -apart from whatever value a judicial officer may find therein. Also hard to see it having substantial weight vs the plain language granting the House’s right to impeach.
    Fooforaw about ‘what stage of the impeachment process / articles of impeachment are we at right now?’ has been about which documents and what testimony can be witheld from Congress and which cannot, as I recall.
    Also, the especially lame impeachments of Trump are likely to be run from, going forward, rather than looked to for precedent. Much as no one’s likely to again wear gold stripes on their robe as Rehnquist did while presiding over Clinton’s impeachment trial.

    1. LaRuse

      Thank you for the hair hack! I have very long hair (nearly to my waist) and not only is it really ugly to wear the headstraps over my hair but my hair “eats” straps (it eats my hair elastics too, and if I try a round brush, my hair will swallow it whole!) and they have to be cut out. I have been wearing my hair in a bun a lot but that pulls hard on my scalp and adds to headaches.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        mines as long as the blonde nurse looking woman, above.
        this is one of the reasons i stick to my bandana.
        now do beards!

        and, just sayin…the redhead silently putting her mask on was one of the hottest things ive seen this week,lol.
        what have we come to as a nation?!

  7. antidlc

    From a professor at Northwestern University:

    Steven W. Thrasher, PhD, CPT
    It’s the first day of school and I made a video to share two tips on how we can keep our students & ourselves safer from Covid (& flu) during this surge.

    1) Wear a tight respirator. (I now ❤️ the 3M Vflex, so breathable😷)

    2) Make a Corsi-Rosenthal Box https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corsi%E2%80%93Rosenthal_Box

    video at the link.


  8. kareninca

    I just heard from my mom in CT that a friend of hers (and the friend’s husband) have caught covid for the first time. This is consistent with what I am hearing and seeing elsewhere; that the current variant is infecting a lot of people who have hitherto dodged covid. They had been reasonably cautious, and had masked in many settings (but they did eat out with a few friends in nearly-empty restaurants). A friend’s family in CT all had it two weeks ago, but they had had it before, and did not take any precautions at all. Several people in my liberal local online zoom church in CA have covid now. Given how many people I know who have it (that is, the most ever), I am wondering if the wastewater is really showing what is up.

    I have a friend who just developed liver cancer. It is very strange since she is in her early 60s and slim and does not drink or take drugs and has no family history of this; she has no risk factors; she eats lots of veggies. She has not ever caught covid (very cautious), but has been vaccinated. I know that people do just end up with cancer, but it is still a shock to me that she has this type. The 20 y.o. daughter of the friend of an online zoom church member has cancer (I forget the site of origin) that appeared suddenly and has spread to her liver.

    I flew from CA to the east coast and back last week; I wore an N95 except when around a couple of family members; I wore my AirTamer around them (and gave them AirTamers); I used Xlear nasal spray and took two claritins a day and low dose methylene blue (not medical advice; dangerous to combine with some meds). Before I left I took a glob of Ivermectin (not medical advice). I didn’t catch covid. I’m not vaccinated and have never caught covid (no symptoms, and I test weekly for my volunteer position).

    For some reason my mom (age 80) and her boyfriend (age 87) are willing to use AirTamers. They won’t mask, and they won’t stay home at all, and they won’t use Xlear or claritin, but they will use AirTamers. I got them the type that have replaceable batteries, so they don’t have to figure out how to recharge using a computer outlet. It is better than nothing.

    I sent in my annual NC donation by check a few days ago.

  9. aj

    RE: “…the labor market remains at historically tight levels, pointing to added resilience to the Federal Reserve’s aggressive tightening cycle and adding leeway for a potential hike in November.”

    It doesn’t astound me that the Oligarchs’ solution to inflation is to continue to try to increase unemployment. What does astound me is that they are so open about it. And that people are so inculcated with neo-liberal ideology that this is considered normal. It also still astounds me that the Fed continues to think interest rates do anything besides change the rate of interest given that they proved they couldn’t raise the inflation rate when they want to and now can’t seem to lower it either.

    1. jo6pac

      I’m sure this bill has already been approved now they vote on it to make it legal. There’s way too much money involved to let nonprofits run the show. Sad but greed is good if you’re in congress or potus.

      1. nippersdad

        Yep. I cannot help but think of the guy everyone used to talk about here on the WC who was having children’s blood pumped into himself to try and stay young. As he gets older, what is to stop him from buying a chain of hospitals and charging those who cannot pay the bills with their live(r)s?

    2. The Rev Kev

      I don’t suppose that it has anything to do with the flow of organs coming from dying Ukrainian soldiers as well as children coming from the Ukraine, does it? That big business is seeing this and wants to jam their money funnel into it.

      1. nippersdad

        Would those be fresh enough, though?

        I can see the private equity morgue ads here already. “10% off all funerals* if we can have the liver, and a free coffin if we can have the heart.”
        *At selected locations, special terms and conditions may apply.

        And the MSDNC daytime ads. Scene: two elderly women at a nursing home: “Marge! They said they would pay off my student loan debt if I would give them Henry’s bladder!”

        Something to look forward to.

  10. CatmanPNW

    What it’s like getting boosters in Seattle: City, County, State, and Federal websites to locate updated vaccines are all wrong – of the 15 places I called the answer on the website was – “yes” but on the individual websites of the different locations none had it. After searching for the past 5 days, I finally found a CVS that had appointments. An hour away, but considering my health issues, worth it. Scheduled for tomorrow. But I called to confirm that it was the updated version, the pharmacy technician said, “make sure you call tomorrow because we really don’t know if we’ll have one.” – this after appointment made and confirmed.
    So: relatively unclear who should get a booster, extremely unclear where to get boosters, and even when you get an appointment you need to call ahead. It’s been 3 about 3.5 years right?
    And sorry for the rant.

    1. LaRuse

      My husband scheduled his updated booster for last Saturday at a local CVS, called Friday to make sure it was the latest version and all was on schedule and confirmed that it was. On Saturday, he showed up and they gave him the flu shot but didn’t have the new COVID shot in stock and didn’t know why someone told him they did. Okay. Weird.
      Yesterday, two people in my office (same insurance plan) went to get their COVID shots – one in the morning (she didn’t say where) and she was charged $155 for it and told insurance would reimburse her for it. The other got his on his lunch hour from CVS and wasn’t charged a dime. Okay. Weird.
      You would think that if the only plan the Administration has or wants is “vax vax vax,” they would go to at least some significant effort to make the vax a smooth and easy experience to go and get and afford.

      1. CatmanPNW

        Everyone I’ve called either doesn’t have it and doesn’t have any idea when, or “we don’t take walk-ins” and then their website only offers appointments up to a week later, and no available slots.
        Frustrating because the message was, “wait for the new one in mid-September” but when I talk to pharma reps or doc offices they think it’ll probably be mid-october before it’s relatively easy.
        I also don’t think people with insurance are expected to pay?
        Exactly though – if vax is the solution than wouldn’t it be important to have a knowledge of how to get it and then get it? And this isn’t even touching the fact that our vaccines could be a lot better – the spray, for instance.
        Just lack of prioritizing.

      2. Jason Boxman

        Biden (oops almost typed Obama) is just governing through better optics! Outcomes are irrelevant here.

      3. Amfortas the Hippie

        “…a smooth and easy experience…”
        both times i had it, they only had moderna…and the Texas Guard had to do it down in the big county barn where we got married.
        still needed an appointment…and men(very young men) with guns checked and rechecked before they would let me park.
        nurse/medic types inside were a lot cooler, and they didnt really feel all that militaristic, save for the fatigues.

        i’ll not take another MRNA vax…those two exceptions were because of wife’s cancer.
        i’ll do nonavax…but i think i’d prefer one of the Cuban versions/

  11. SteveD

    Lambert – Really appreciate the ongoing Section 3 coverage. I suspect this is going to turn into a very big story

  12. Amfortas the Hippie

    re: New Criterion thing:
    again with Woke=Left…or even Radical Left.
    this always sticks in my craw, to say the least.
    and ffs, Marcuse was like my least fave of the frankfurt school boys,lol…i’m partial to Habermas, myself.
    and this guy didnt even mention Judith Butler…whom i remember in the late 80’s as the harbinger of this particular perverse doom.(handed to me by my college lesbian friends)
    let alone the rosy historiography of the “Conservative Movement”…it didnt happen like that.
    as soon as these New Conservatives, post-conservatives, or whatever they finally agree to call themselves…can make room in their world for people like me of the Actual, Politico-economic, Left(ie: left of fdr, but with a hard core respect for universal rights)…we might make common cause.
    but they’re kneejerk stuck in arglebargle(scalia) from reagantimes.

    the pretense of intellectualism…but without any examined assumptions.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      and this:
      “If a president, perhaps Nixon or Reagan, threatened to cut a program, bureaucrats would leak news of the threat to friendly journalists, along with necessary information to defend said program—and the journalists were happy to publish it. Those presidents usually backed off. The result: the Great Society programs are still intact, and still expanding, sixty years later, despite conservative calls to cut them back or eliminate them. There are plenty of jobs in the government, education, and health establishment, many of them occupied by radicals engaged in the long march.”

      since billary, this has not been the case, as near as i can tell.
      “expansion of medicaid”?
      of “welfare”?
      dude has likely never even attempted to get on foodstamps…nor needed to.
      this reeks of the same trope that the $600 Scranton Joe, the New FDR, still owes me…causing people to abandon shit jobs en masse.

      1. Googoogajoob

        The article reads as a bad case of sour grapes. These are the type of mfers who would cheer on the expansion of corporate power and influence but then turn aghast that the big businesses weren’t going to be also uniformly conservative in their views and policies?

        They got what they wanted and are now miserable. Not that I take much stock in companies espousing social values but it is a pretty easy case to make that they contributed to the enviroment that has them curling their lips out.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          local GOP partisan in produce aisle to her incredulous fiend:” i feel like i cant go anywhere without being afraid i’ll be shot at…”

          and i’m muttering to the taters, “shit, lady…this is what you frelling wanted.”

  13. The Rev Kev

    Obama/Michelle has a hide asking for money for the Dems and his first justification is to defend Roe vs. Wade. I saw two videos – back to back – where in the first on Obama promised to bring it finally into law if he was elected President. The second was after he became President and he said that it was no longer a priority for him. The Dems will absolutely never legislate for it because they would prefer to just keep on raising money off ‘the cause’. It will never happen. So when the Dems go to campaign, they can never say ‘We did this and we created that they have to say instead ‘We will fight for this and we will give access to that.’

  14. Tim

    “Finance: “Airlines Are Just Banks Now”

    Any points or miles based program is done to ensure obfuscation that the benefits just aren’t that great and are restrictive in redeeming.

    I only do cash back cards. Here is my current portfolio of 5 credit cards:
    2% on everything
    4.5% on groceries
    5% on gas
    5% on fast Food
    3% on internet purchase

    Of course these cash back cards that have real rewards benefits have to make up for it with higher rates. I carry over zero on all cards every month.

    I could use a debit card, but that exposes my checking account to theft, and with benefits like the cash back cards offer, why use a debit card that gives you nothing?

  15. Rodeo Clownfish

    Regarding the “Team” parlance in campaign emails: I suspect this is a dog-whistle to PMCers….at my Fortune 500 company it is a standard way to start an email to multiple colleagues. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “one team” mentality is common among white collar workers everywhere.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      my corporate aunt(IBM exec for as long as i can remember, now long retired) says “Team!”, and “Group!”a lot.
      has, also, for as long as i can remember.
      like a tic, or something.
      sounds like mrs doubtfire.
      a loud warbling…very annoying.
      i avoid her when she comes to see mom.

  16. Jason Boxman

    More crapification. I finally emailed Cook about my open support case with their AirPods no longer working with my Mac Mini. After three weeks, I finally received a curt, insulting reply from his staff telling me to pound sand. Granted my lifetime spend with Apple is under 3k, so I can’t say I’m surprised they won’t expend resources on a complex case, but there’s need to be dismissively insulting. Not even an offer to refund my money seeing as how my AirPods are potentially completely useless to me, being no longer fit for purpose. It’s not like $130 is any money to Apple. Cook could refund it himself from his ample wealth. I guess escalating an issue to my betters is beneath any reply save contempt these days?

    Thank you for your recent correspondence to Apple. We apologize for the delay in our response.

    The parties with whom you have previously communicated are empowered by Apple to address concerns such as yours. In each of your communications you have been provided with the same answer from Apple. According to your case number [number]: Apple is still investigating the issue and we won’t be able to provide an exact ETA on when it will be resolved. There is no further escalation point that will deal with this matter differently.

    We regret that you are not satisfied with this response, because Apple strives for customer satisfaction. It is our sincere hope that this situation will not diminish your enjoyment of the products and services that we provide.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Congratulations, Amf. That must have been a buzz. I can see that your son is smart. Instead of being on the field in the hot sun wearing an awkward uniform being thumped by strangers with heavy boots, he is instead in a nice shady stand sitting in a comfortable chair giving his analysis of current events while probably sipping a cool drink.

  17. Wukchumni

    The cryptos are high, the cryptos are low
    And you’re confused ’bout which one is go dough
    So i’ll sit in to give you a hand
    And lead you into, primrose path land

    Come on and take a Sam Bankman-Fried ride
    Free ride
    Come on and take it mom & dad by my side
    Come on and take a Sam Bankman-Fried ride!

    All over the country, I’m seeing the same
    Nobody’s winning, at this type of game
    We gotta do better, it’s time to begin
    You know all the answers
    Must come from a computer within

    Come on and take a Sam Bankman-Fried ride
    Free ride
    Come on and take it mom & dad by my side
    Come on and take a Sam Bankman-Fried ride!

    All over the country, I’m seeing the same
    Nobody’s winning, at this type of game
    We gotta do better, it’s time to begin
    You know all the answers
    Must come from a computer within

    Free Ride, by the Edgar Winter Group


      1. Wukchumni

        Until around the turn of the century and since 1954, you could get your photo taken @ Binion’s Casino in Las Vegas with their million $ horseshoe containing 100x $10,000 FRN’s, that is until they skyrocketed in collector value.

        A notaphilist I knew was in charge of restoration as many of them had been glued into the display and it took him about a week to dismantle the thing.


  18. turtle

    Regarding voice and video deep fakes, I don’t know if this link has been posted here in the past, but it’s a rough yet scary preview of what may be in our future (warning: swearing): https://www.twitch.tv/trumporbiden2024

    In short, it’s a fake video debate between an “AI” Trump and “AI” Biden where I guess users of the platform can make either one say anything they want. Like I said, it’s rough, but just imagine what could be done with enough money and experts thrown at it.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      lol. thanks for that!
      i watched it for much, much longer than i did the real debates.
      almost wanted to take notes for future insult material.

    2. turtle

      Correction: the AI politicians are responding to the users’ chat prompts, not saying what the chats tell them to say.

      While I was watching a human popped into the video to mention their costs, which included ChatGPT, Play.ht (the audio deep fake component), and Azure, I believe.

    3. Pat

      AI Biden looks to be more Biden 2008 than 2020-23 energy and vocal strength wise. The insults while slightly more scatological were on point for that time as well. Trump though seems more current.
      IOW, I think the creators are slightly gaming this.
      That said, yes it is far more entertaining than the real thing.

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