2:00PM Water Cooler 10/11/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I apologize. This Water Cooler was published on time, on March 11, 2023. I have no idea how this happened! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

House Wren, Sun Lakes SP, Grant, Washington, United States. “Natural song from seen bird at 12:30pm.”

* * *


“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

“Fontes: Donald Trump can’t be barred from the AZ ballot by the 14th Amendment” [AZ Mirror]. “In the Grand Canyon State, Secretary of State Adrian Fontes told KTAR in September that his office was mulling Trump’s legal eligibility for the ballot. And while the Arizona Supreme Court ruled last year that the anti-insurrectionist provision couldn’t be used against politicians involved in the Jan. 6 incident because there was no corresponding federal statute to enforce it, Fontes noted that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution likely overruled that decision. But on Wednesday, Fontes announced in an interview on Fox 10 Phoenix that his hands are tied by Arizona law. State law directs the secretary of state to certify candidates who both file to appear on the ballot in Arizona 100 days before the presidential preference election and were approved for the ballots of at least two other states. ‘At the end of the day, having consulted with legal experts, having consulted with election experts — the biggest objections to Mr. Trump, by the way, are from the conservative right and the Federalist Society guys,’ Fontes said. ‘They do not want him on the ballot. But I’m sorry I’m going to have to disappoint them because that’s state statute.'”

Biden Administration


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Alina Habba claims vindication after ‘forgetting’ to request Trump jury trial” [Raw Story]. “Trump attorney Alina Habba thanked New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron after he confirmed that Donald Trump would not have gotten a jury trial – even if defense counsel had asked for it. Shortly after the trial began, Habba was accused of ‘forgetting’ to request a jury trial on legal forms. ‘You have probably noticed or already read that this case has no jury,’ Engoron said at the start of the trial. ‘Neither side asked for one and, in any event, the remedies sought are all equitable in nature, mandating that the trial be a bench trial, one that a judge alone decides.’ But on Wednesday, Engoron clarified that a request from the defense would not have mattered. ‘I believe what happened here is that the [AG] clearly checked off non-jury,’ the judge said, according to court watcher Adam Klasfeld from The Messenger. ‘It would not have helped to make a motion, nobody forgot to check off a box.'” • A detail, but the false story generated a news cycle’s-worth of snark, so good to have it cleared up.

“Trump insinuates Obama is Biden’s ‘boss'” [The Hill]. • Not so far-fetched; see NC here.

* * *

“Biden interviewed as part of special counsel investigation into handling of classified documents” [Associated Press]. “President Joe Biden has been interviewed as part of an independent investigation into his handling of classified documents, the White House said late Monday. It’s a possible sign that the investigation is nearing its end.” • Virtually no detail in the article, interesting in itself. Background:

Shortly after Biden’s lawyer Richard Sauber confirmed a set of classified documents had been discovered in the garage of Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware home, the President acknowledged the find—and revealed they had been locked up alongside his beloved Corvette.

The revelation came from Biden’s appearance at an event on the economy in the White House’s South Court Auditorium. Fox News’ White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked the president, “Classified materials next to your Corvette? What were you thinking?”

“My Corvette’s in a locked garage, OK? So it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street,” Biden responded. “People know I take classified documents and classified materials seriously.”

So that’s alright then. The Daily Mail pulled a screen grab from that Biden campaign video of a sunglasses-wearing Biden driving his Corvette. I added the arrrow:

So that’s Biden’s operational definition of “[taking] classified materials seriously.” Good to know.

* * *

“Why Don’t Republicans Just Run on the Economy, Stupid?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “There are multiple reasons offered for this anomaly of the crazy-person party holding a lead, ranging from the president’s age to some sort of national malaise. But the most obvious reason from the data we have is that solid majorities of Americans are unhappy about the economy and blame Biden for it… And that’s with most major economic indices looking relatively sunny…. [But why] don’t [Republicans] exhibit some self-discipline by getting onto the obvious winning message and chirping like cicadas: Economy! Economy! Economy! I’m quite certain there are Republicans in boardrooms and country clubs all over America wondering just that.” In fact, they are, in their own way: “[T]he key thing to understand in processing wild Republican rhetoric on issues like congressional appropriations is that they and their supporters deeply believe the country’s economic problems are almost exclusively caused by excessive public spending and government overreach… While it’s impossible to sort out all the different evils with which Republicans associate “big government” and “runaway spending,” there’s no question that when they rage about these things they believe they are addressing the same economic concerns that their voters, as well as swing voters, want them to deal with urgently.” • Hmm.

* * *

“RFK Jr. goes independent. Does that hurt Biden or Trump?” [Politico]. “Kennedy’s support so far is coming roughly evenly from Biden and former President Donald Trump. But third-party candidacies can be unpredictable, and Kennedy’s anti-vaccination stance gives him more room to draw from Republicans than Democrats…. It’s not clear whether the current polling represents Kennedy’s floor, ceiling or somewhere in between. But he could have the financial resources to mount a credible campaign. In addition to the campaign itself, Kennedy has the backing of a super PAC, American Values 2024, that is funded mostly by conservative donor Timothy Mellon and billionaire Gavin de Becker. That PAC already had $9.8 million in the bank as of the end of June. That’s still far less than Biden and Trump will have to spend, but Kennedy’s wealthy donors could do more to close the gap in the coming months.” • Mellon and de Becker? Really?

* * *

“‘There is no alternative’: Cornel West, presidential hopeful, is not backing down” [Guardian]. “At a fundraising event in Busboys and Poets, a leftwing bookshop and restaurant in Washington, West – a veteran activist of myriad causes – insisted he seeks the sympathies of neither cohort, but is instead trying to woo alienated, hardened non-voters. ‘I think that we are not clear if either Biden or Trump will be in the actual election because things are so flexible and fluid right now,’ he said on being asked by the Guardian to respond to warnings that his candidacy was a boon to Trump. ‘But I happen to be focusing on the 40% that don’t vote at all, and I happen to be pulling from the 62% of folk who do vote but who would never vote for the two parties. So if there is some taking from both parties, it’s going to be very, very small.’ ‘I’ve got to be able to speak the truth no matter what. I’m planning to do that until the very end. So in that sense, who knows who’s stealing from who.’ With Trump buoyant in many polls, some have likened West’s presence to that of the longtime activist Ralph Nader in 2000, who was widely believed to have persuaded wavering voters to switch to him from Al Gore in the key battleground of Florida, tipping the state and thus the election to George W Bush. An Emerson College poll conducted in August showed Biden and Trump tied on 44% apiece in a two-way matchup. West’s addition to the ballot saw him polling at 5% and Trump leading Biden by 42% to 41%. A survey carried out in June by Echelon Insight reached a similar conclusion, with West polling at 4%.” • 4% – 5% is not bad at all, given that West must have virtually no name recognition. So ballot access is the issue. Too bad the Greens are so dysfunctional that functionally they’re an echelon of defense for the Republicans and the Democrats.

“The 2024 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet” [The Atlantic]. “No one alive has seen a race like the 2024 presidential election.” The Atlantic, like West, opts for volatility over stability. On West: “Let’s hear from Brother West: ‘Do we have what it takes? We shall see,’ he said. ‘But some of us are going to go down fighting, go down swinging, with style and a smile.’ Sounds like a no, but it should be a lively, entertaining campaign.” • I will say that, at least for me, West is the only candidate who hasn’t said something utterly disqualifying. Whether that speaks well for his prospects, I can’t say.

Republican Funhouse

“Here’s how we know the Republican Party has become an autocratic movement” [Stuart Stevens, Los Angeles Times]. Stevens is a long-time Republican operative, and a Never Trumper. “As Hannah Arendt wrote in ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’: ‘Total loyalty is possible only when fidelity is emptied of all concrete content, from which changes of mind might naturally arise. The totalitarian movements, each in its own way, have done their utmost to get rid of the party programs which specified concrete content and which they inherited from earlier, non‑totalitarian stages of development…. While it is difficult to attribute any deliberate or methodical plan to Donald Trump, whose mind operates like an old-fashioned pinball machine on tilt, his basic antidemocratic, strongman instincts have crushed dissent in the Republican Party, empowering the underlying authoritarian impulses within the party. A once-center-right political party with core ideological principles is now marching toward the formation of an autocratic state….. What’s unfolding in the Republican Party is an inevitable step in the cycle of authoritarian movements. What once was deemed sufficiently pure is judged to be inadequate and in need of purging. The Night of the Long Knives, the murder of Leon Trotsky, the Red Guards, the Khmer Rouge — each was the result of a radical movement further purifying its core membership and ideology, and something very similar is taking place among today’s Republicans.” • A RINO quoting Arendt is an interesting phenomenon. Who next? Lenin?

“A storm is brewing in the Senate, too” [The Spectator]. “After the US House stole the spotlight last week, sources on the Hill say a similar, yet more “behind-closed-doors” brouhaha is brewing within the Senate. In the face of a government shutdown, conservatives have been in ‘constant’ cross-chamber communication. For instance, when the Schumer-McConnell bill, with its $6 billion of funding for Ukraine, was on the table the weekend before last, Senate Republicans were apprised that House Democrats were filibustering to get it passed. As the House convened on Saturday September 30, and the Senate convened at noon for a 1 p.m. vote on the continuing resolution, Senate conservatives — led by Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Ron Johnson — urged their colleagues to withhold their votes to force the Democrats to pass the ‘clean’ (free from Ukraine funding) CR. Had the House and Senate not been so ‘plugged-in’ via meetings, texts, calls, dinners, etc., the Senate conservatives would not have been prepared to stand as firmly as they did. A source within the Senate tells me overriding McConnell’s dictates ‘never happens’ and is a sign of ‘a huge vibe shift’ and an imminent Senate showdown.” • Madison would hate this. So would Tip O’Neill: “The House Republicans are not the enemy, they’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.”

“McCarthy Mutiny Reveals Cracks in Constellation of Pro-Trump Universe” [RealClearPolitics]. “This kind of compromise was untenable for Russ Vought, a former White House colleague and ideological ally of Miller. It was Vought’s ultra-conservative Center for Renewing America that served as a nerve center for the foot soldiers of the first McCarthy mutiny. It was Vought who handed rank-and-file conservatives a strategy used to force McCarthy into making key concessions to become speaker. Less than 24 hours after the midterms failed to produce a wide majority for Republicans, he said that the hardline House Freedom Caucus ‘was made for this moment.’ In the weeks that followed, CRA offered both parliamentary advice and public cover for the revolt. A run-and-gun playbook was published online two days later. ‘House conservatives will not need a majority to prevail. They merely need to block & veto until they get an acceptable candidate,’ Vought said at the time, arguing that McCarthy was ‘a peace-time leader’ unfit for the current moment when the right was ‘in a cold civil war’ and what was needed was to seize conflict ‘by the throat.’ A senior congressional staffer involved in the struggle called Vought’s group ‘the earliest and most public advocate of a determined negotiating position against McCarthy’ and credited them for making ‘an early investment that paid off in a transformative set of rules.’ And it worked. A source familiar with the work of Vought’s group and Congress marveled at the concessions that McCarthy had made with his right flank. “We haven’t seen a power-sharing agreement like this since Sam Rayburn,’ they told RCP. One of the concessions: maintaining the ability of a single member to force a vote on dismissing the speaker.” • Vought ran the OMB (!) under Trump.

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.

* * *

“Does SBF Really Seem Like A Guy Who Just Wants To Do Good” [Eschaton]. “Is there anything about SBF that makes you think he’s a saint? Is there anything about most of the fans of SBF that suggests they were good judges of who is or isn’t a saint? Oh, Sam, he just wants to get rich so he can do good? Back then he was doing good by [checks notes] supporting crypto politicians and throwing money at journalists to do his PR for him. A big part of the appeal of EA – and then SBF – was they were “doing good” the right way, unlike all the stupid hippies. Earning to Give AND to Own The Libs. Another big part of the appeal was all the fucking money.” • And, as Atrios keeps pointing out, you know the names of a lot of those journalists. And NGO types. But you don’t know whether they were on the SB t*t. What you can assume is that there were rather a lot of them, given the general sense of the tide going out in NGO Land. Such a shame. In terms of disclosure, rather like Epstein’s Black Book.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Is Everything Suddenly Going to Hell?” [Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Instapundit]. “Is everything going to hell? Maybe, maybe not. There are lots of reasons to feel bad about everything: The domestic political situation, the domestic – and global – economic picture, foreign affairs and national security, culture. And they’re good reasons, and you should be worried. But. It’s also the case that a lot more people are suddenly noticing how bad things have gotten…. You see it in the growing realization that the Biden Administration – and, really, the entire Western governing class – is clueless and inept on foreign policy and national security, and pretty much everything else. And you see it in a growing impatience with the gentry class fixations on race, gender, and climate change [oof] while ordinary people struggle to make ends meet. A few years ago most of our society was sleepwalking toward disaster. Now more and more people are awake and noticing.” On waking, see NC here. Good so far. And then: “Awareness on its own doesn’t fix things. Still, it’s a start. An analogy: I’ve worked on Second Amendment issues for three decades or so.” • Holy moley. Motivated reasoners on the High Court, great minds thinking alike when performing textual analysis, butcher the interpretation of a gerund. That’s a reason to feel good? Still, silver lining. Socialist Rifle Association, anyone? NOTE Adding, I meant to bring 1860 Republican Wide Awake clubs into my post on waking, but had to leave it on the cutting room floor. I’ve gotta say, the torchlight parades and point one of a typical Wide Awake chapter’s charter — “To act as a political police” — seem a little… eerie.


“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).

t impact voters the most, experts say. Yet despite the significance, they are also the elections that drive the fewest number of voters to the polls…. Low voter turnout for municipal elections can be attributed to a number of things such as when the local elections are not held during a congressional election year and especially during a presidential election year…. A lack of awareness of local issues can be a contributing factor to the problem of low voter turnout. News coverage focuses on national, state and large market issues, leaving smaller communities without coverage on local issues…. ‘If you think of the power of one vote, one vote means a lot if only several hundred people vote,’ [Dr. Yu Ouyang, associate professor of political science at Purdue University Northwest] said.” • I’m not sure that’s true except in the most trivial sense. In a system where democracy is so decayed, perhaps nobody and nothing important appears in the ballot in the first place. Paradoxically, your vote would mean the most only when exercised with many others.

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

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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“They’re back: Cleveland Clinic to return to masking at Ohio hospitals” [Cleveland.com (PI)]. “‘To help limit the spread of viruses and protect ourselves and our most vulnerable patients we are asking caregivers to please mask in inpatient units within our Ohio hospitals beginning Oct. 17 (Tuesday). Visitors and patients are highly encouraged to mask as able,’ said the staff email provided to The Plain Dealer.” • What crap. #CovidIsAirborne. That means the entire facility needs to be masked, and everyone in it (“as able” means that an accommodation should be requested and granted, not that people can swan around breathing airborne bio-effluent into shared air just because they feel like it. Ten-to-one, a million-to-one, the masks are “baggy blues,” too.

“Masking rules returning to N.S. hospitals, one month after they were dropped” [Global News]. “Nova Scotia Health facilities, including the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax, are bringing back masking requirements in anticipation of respiratory virus season…. As of Thursday, masks will be required upon entry and in common and public areas, including hallways, elevators, staircases and cafeterias. Clinical areas where patients and caregivers are present will also require a mask. As well, inpatient and ambulatory care settings will have a masking rule.” Better than the renowned Cleveland Clinic ffs. But I don’t know what kind of mask. The tweeted announcement suggests a “baggy blue.”

Covid is Airborne

“‘It’s aerosol, stupid’: the professor who challenged medical chiefs” [Australian Financial Review]. “Just as Florence Nightingale led the ‘miasma’ reform movement during the Crimean War in the mid-1800s, arguing that many viruses were airborne and redesigning hospitals to improve ventilation, UNSW professor McLaws, who passed away at the weekend, was passionate that the early response to COVID -19 was not taking aerosol ventilation seriously.” Miasma turned out to be wrong as a theory of tranmission, though the bad science happily let to good engineering. Contrast droplet dogma, wrong as science, worse as engineering. More: “‘It’s aerosol, stupid,’ she politely but firmly told me in the winter of 2020 when authorities were puzzled by how seemingly sealed-off hotel rooms could still result in reinfection from sick travellers, sparking Melbourne’s deadly second wave hotel quarantine outbreak. McLaws had got hold of the hotel room plans and ventilation details from the ‘hot’ hotel, then known as Rydges on Swanston, where returning travellers were being housed for 14 days’ quarantine. In precise engineering detail, she explained how inadequate its ventilation system was for controlling aerosol infection and predicted the whole hotel quarantine program that national cabinet had signed up to would be flawed by breaches. There were more than two dozen hotel quarantine outbreaks and numerous statewide lockdowns over the next 18 months. Authorities finally recognised just how muddle-headed that program was and belatedly began building open air facilities such as those in Northern Territory that had been so successful in stemming reinfection.” • And then Gladys from Queensland New South Wales, along with Scotty from marketing, [family blogged] it all up, deliberately, for which they should appear in the dock at the Hague.

“Prevention of COVID-19 in workers: preparation, precaution, and protection” [Annals of Work Exposures and Health]. From the Abstract: “Relevant guidance for worker protection, including HCW protection, which existed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was disregarded both at international and national governmental levels. In many countries there were significant systemic flaws in strategy, culture, and resource availability, and hence in overall preparedness. When the pandemic struck, many experts and organizations advocated a precautionary approach with regard to worker protection, consistent with good occupational hygiene science, practice, and standards. In many Asian countries, protective measures were relatively stringent. However, many workers were left unprotected especially as the WHO, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other governments did not pursue adequate COVID-19 protective measures at work.” • What’s wrong with cleansing the weak from the working class, anyhow?

Censorship and Propaganda

Ha! A classification struggle:

“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

* * *

Elite Maleficence

Should somebody check in on the UK?

Apparently, Scottish hospital infection control can’t wrap its mind around asymptomatic transmission. Of course, if you are still in thrall to droplet dogma, tranmission is symptomatic: Coughing, sneezing, etc. So all things work together for good.

* * *

Lambert here: Back to tape-watching mode. It still looks to me like the current surge has some ways to run, given how wastewater flattened, with the East Coast up. Let’s wait and see.

Case Data

NOT UPDATED FFS! WHAT GIVES? From BioBot wastewater data, October 2:

Lambert here: Leveling out to a high plateau wasn’t on my Bingo card! Perhaps FL.1.5.1, high in the Northeast, has something going for it that other variants don’t have?

Regional data:

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

Seriously, what gives, Biobot? Nine days with no update and no announcement is CDC-level scientific commnication. Is there a problem at the lab? A funding issue? A supply chain debacle? “Covid is over,” so no data? What?


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 30:

Lambert here: September 30 is tomorrow, but never mind that. Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“), with FL.1.15.1, HV.1, and XBB. trailing. Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, September 16:

Lambert here: I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, October 7:

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 October 6:

Still decreasing. (New York state is steadily rising, but it’s New York City that’s the bellwether.) 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 30:

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, October 9:

-1.0%. Still dropping, though less than before. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, October 7:

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, September 18:

Back up again, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers:

Now, BA.2.86 for two weeks in a row. Bears watching.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 27:

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: 1,178,490 – 1,178,436 = 54 (54 * 365 = 19,710 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). 

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, October 10:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Producer Price Inflation MoM” [Trading Economics]. “Producer prices in the US rose 0.5% month-over-month in September 2023, the least in three months, following a 0.7% rise in August, but above market forecasts of 0.3%. Goods prices were up 0.9%, prompted by a 5.4% surge in gasoline cost. Prices for jet fuel, processed young chickens, meats, electric power, and diesel fuel also advanced. On the other hand, cost for fresh and dry vegetables declined 13.9% and prices for wood pulp and utility natural gas also fell.”

* * *

Retail: “California Right to Repair Signed into Law” [(the heroic) iFixit]. “Today marks a monumental step forward in the Right to Repair movement. We’re elated to announce that Governor Gavin Newsom has officially signed the California Right to Repair Act, SB 244, into law. This groundbreaking legislation passed the legislature almost unanimously last month. It has been championed by state senator Susan Talamantes Eggman and is cosponsored by iFixit, along with our colleagues in the more-fixable-stuff fight, CALPIRG (the California Public Interest Research Group), and Californians Against Waste.” • Good!

The Bezzle: “So Far, AI Is a Money Pit That Isn’t Paying Off” [Gizmodo]. “The reasons why the AI business is struggling are diverse but one is quite well known: AI platforms are notoriously expensive to operate. Platforms like ChatGPT and DALL-E burn through an enormous amount of computing power and companies are struggling to figure out how to reduce that footprint. At the same time, the infrastructure to run AI systems—like powerful, high-priced AI computer chips—can be quite expensive. The cloud capacity necessary to train algorithms and run AI systems, meanwhile, is also expanding at a frightening rate. All of this energy consumption also means that AI is about as environmentally unfriendly as you can get. To get around the fact that they’re hemorrhaging money, many tech platforms are experimenting with different strategies to cut down on costs and computing power while still delivering the kinds of services they’ve promised to customers. Still, it’s hard not to see this whole thing as a bit of a stumble for the tech industry. Not only is AI a solution in search of a problem, but it’s also swiftly becoming something of a problem in search of a solution. Companies need to figure out how these tools make both economic and strategic sense—something that probably should have been ironed out before they were launched.” • That was fast. To be fair, the stupid hot money had to go somewhere, and the bloom was off the rose with crypto, blockchain, and the rest of that “industry.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 31 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 23 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 11 at 1:42:38 PM ET.

Class Warfare

“What a striking new study of death in America misses” [Vox]. The deck: “The big divide on premature death isn’t between college grads and non-grads. It’s between high school dropouts and everyone else.” An assault on Case-Deaton’s latest, and I’m nodding along, albeit not violently, until I encounter the “GAAHHHH! Kreplach!” moment, which is: “All this points to a very specific challenge that policymakers must confront: How to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease (and also cancer) among the poorest, least-educated Americans. Case and Deaton like to prescribe various economic measures as ways to combat rising death rates, like eliminating the link between employers and health insurance, expanding affordable housing, strengthening unions, and removing needless requirements that certain workers have bachelor’s degrees. I happen to think all those policies are good ideas. But I’m somewhat skeptical they would move the needle on heart disease among high school dropouts, especially compared to more targeted approaches like expanding cholesterol screening or ensuring Medicaid covers medicines like semaglutide that reduce the risk of heart disease. People dying now cannot wait for the whole US economy to transform to be more worker-friendly, as nice as that might be. They need solutions that are tailored for their specific problems, that can be implemented soon.” • So, got it, we’re going to hand those most at risk of death over to Big Pharma, instead of making society as a whole somewhat less vicious. Whenever you hear “targeted,” think stochastic eugenicism. Because those we target for help — remember de-institutionalization? — never seem to get it, and in fact become targets for Rule #2. That’s the effect produced by those GBD whack jobs too, come to think of it. See Bhattacharya and the rest of the service providers in the Stanford brothel fighting tooth and nail against HICPAC planning to take away infection protection from the [wipes tear] “vulnerable” in hospitals? No. Vox, good job.

News of the Wired

“What Is Ham Radio: A Newcomer’s Guide” [Field & Stream]. “Ham radio, or amateur radio, has remained a steadfast communication method since its inception. This form of communication has retained its importance and relevance in a rapidly digitizing world. While many might perceive it as just another hobby, ham radio celebrates camaraderie and serves as a useful backup communication method when modern systems fail.” Haw! Like that would ever happen. More: “At its core, ham radio is about communicating over specific radio frequencies designated for amateur use. But it’s much more than that. It’s about creating connections, often forging deep friendships with individuals you may never meet. …. Unlike the commercial frequencies used by radio stations that broadcast music or news, ham radio frequencies are purely for two-way interactions. Hams can communicate locally or try for more distant contacts, aiming for communications as distant as the International Space Station or bouncing signals off the moon. The versatility of the ham radio is evident in its varied uses. Beyond simple voice communication, some modes involve digital signals, morse code, and even image transmission.” • Interesting!

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Maggie:

Maggie writes: “My name is Maggie, I like to take pics of flowers and my dad reads naked capitalism everyday and he wanted me to send these to you.” This is an orange day lily. Wow!!!!

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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. The Rev Kev

    ‘So that’s Biden’s operational definition of “[taking] classified materials seriously.” Good to know.’

    All part of that well known rule-

    ‘It’s OK when we do it.’

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it came out that Hunter swiped some of those files to sell to those Russian hookers in return for sex and drugs? Old Joe wouldn’t be able to write a pardon fast enough.

    1. Ben Joseph

      Actually I was thinking just the opposite. If Trump and Biden aren’t allowed access to classified documents, who, pray tell., is?

      And what filthy secrets do the blob fear discovery from Mar a Corvetto anyway?

      1. nippersmom

        It isn’t a question of being allowed access to the documents. It’s about taking them home and storing them in his garage and pretending that’s “secure”. When Trump allegedly had classified documents in his home, blue MAGA went insane. It is very much a case of “It’s OK when we do it” with those people.

  2. caucus99percenter

    Philadelphia resident Austin Seraphin, blind from birth, talks about his ham radio hobby on his blog:


    Blind people might have quite a lot to say re diversity and inclusion. But in the progressive-stack calculus, race and gender seem to outrank disability by a country mile, so they are seldom found feasting at the trough of the intersectionality grift complex.

    One of the links in the Field and Stream article goes to the ARRL website. What the NRA is to rifles and their owners, the ARRL or American Radio Relay League is to ham radio.

    1. Carolinian

      Marlon Brando was a ham and would use it to talk to people from Tahiti where he lived for awhile. My bro says hams are still around but may be Biden’s age.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Wow! Tahiti being a French colony, I wonder — did he operate under an American call sign or a French one? And did he also do Morse code, or just voice?

        In those days, Brando would have had to know Morse code in order to get a U.S. license. Hams who are really “old school” about their hobby still use it (often referring to it as CW, for “continuous wave”).

        The blind guy whose blog I linked to above, Austin Seraphin, talks about “handling traffic” — that’s ham lingo for putting in hours as a volunteer forwarding Morse code messages for third parties as a free public service.

    2. Late Introvert

      Sorry if this ends up a double post, but I was reminded of Steely Dan’s “King of The World”.

      Ham radio is resilient, the internet and AI and bitcoin not so much.

  3. The Rev Kev

    ‘And then Gladys from Queensland, along with Scotty from marketing, [family blogged] it all up, deliberately, for which they should appear in the dock at the Hague.’

    Minor correction. Gladys ran New South Wales, our biggest State that has Sydney in it. Gladys had lots of fights with outr own premier who wouldn’t just open up the borders because ‘It’s just the flu, mate.’

      1. The Rev Kev

        No, we did pretty good until they opened up the country. Our Premier – Annastacia Palaszczuk – got into a helluva lot of fights with Gladys because of her strong stance but Gladys had the PM – Scotty from Marketing – backing her and the rest is history. So we went from 917 deaths to *checks notes* about 22,820 deaths for the country at the present date. But at least the economy is no longer sad.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>So we went from 917 deaths to *checks notes* about 22,820 deaths for the country at the present date. But at least the economy is no longer sad.

          Yes, money lives well spent.

  4. Joe Well

    >>“Trump insinuates Obama is Biden’s ‘boss’”

    Biden is our generation’s Warren G. Harding, except his wife won’t have to poison him since he has one foot in the grave already.

      1. fjallstrom

        Harding also freed political prisoners (including Debs) that Wilson had put behind bars. Biden can’t even bring himself to drop the charges and free Assange.

  5. notabanker

    So we need to burn increasingly frightening amounts of fossil fuels to power AI to make companies more efficient at making stuff to sell to people without jobs. What could go wrong?

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Go easy on the Dread Pirate Powell!

          He’s doing his best to kill REITs, and FIRE in general.
          I scanned a headline today that the NAR is begging Powell not to raise rates anymore.

          At least one part of Wall Street is having a hard time fighting the Fed, instead of Main St., for a change.

    1. John

      I knew there was a reason all this green power stuff was a lot of hooey. AI must be powered! Profits, if any, protected! Because markets!

  6. Jake

    One of my favorite parts of HAM radio is APRS. Radios send out digital signals that sound like a modem and include GPS location and other information. Many weather stations beacon their weather data over APRS. Some of the radios that do APRS are connected to the internet, so you can go see HAM radio operators going places on a map. Some people put APRS beacons on weather ballons. Lots of fun. https://aprs.fi/#!mt=roadmap&z=11&ts=1696636800&te=1696723200&lat=30.5134&lng=-103.9052

  7. ChrisRUEcon

    Glad to see Water Cooler made it!! LOL

    Is Mercury still in retrograde?!!

    ::asking for a friend who also endured odd happenstance last couple days::

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      > I will say that, at least for me, West is the only candidate who hasn’t said something utterly disqualifying. Whether that speaks well for his prospects, I can’t say.

      In a better world it would speak well of his prospects, wouldn’t it? Instead we have to deal with the malaise of team-politics-as-sport …

      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        ChrisRUEcon: Besides having to deal with politics as team sport and the U.S. Congress as U.S. High School after too many doses of Boone’s Farm drinkies, we are dealing with a couple of politicians who are astute but also a mess. That would be RF Kennedy as well as Marianne Williamson, both of whom have experience in the political arena.

        Kennedy has been trading in nostalgia. All those “my uncle” / “my father” references. He trades in “inside knowledge” stuff that gets icky, to be polite. E.g., yes, there are problems with vaccine regulation and delivery, but what is his position? And now Israel. What’s so hard about understanding the grievances of Palestinians? Hell, as I’ve pointed out more than once at Naked Capitalism, the Israeli tactic of confiscating and destroying Palestinian olive trees (which are sacred) is pretty much murder. And that’s just how the Israelis have treated trees.

        Williamson? Is she in favor of peace or dissembling?

        Cornel West? Yes, he is the logical choice to get the U.S. out of its moral swamp. But is that a religious choice or a political choice? How do he and Peter Daou expect to get him on the ballot in forty-plus states?

        I’m glad to be voting absentee from the Chocolate City of the Undisclosed Region…

        And for your delectation, a Boone’s Farm bundt cake. Fun for the whole family:


        1. ChrisRUEcon

          LOL … OMG … Zima!


          > How do he and Peter Daou expect to get him on the ballot in forty-plus states?

          That this is a thing in a country that feverishly (and violently) tries to export “democracy” is deity level irony. But hey, duopoly rulez!

          My social network circles are largely Acela liberal types so needless to say, the pivot from standing with Ukrainian Nazis to standing with BiBi & The Genociders has been silky smooth.

          However, I detect more than a few break with the ranks. Not as many “Likes” on those posts … people have begun to realize that a nation kicking its own poor off its streets is showing amazing resolve in the pursuit of violence abroad, and it is leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of many. We shall see, dear DJG … we shall see.

    2. ChrisRUEcon


      That Vox article made me spew obscenities … I will never for the life of me understand how liberals can see themselves as somehow virtuous than conservatives when their basic argument is “we’ll kill you at a lower rate than the other guys, but just give us time … and means testing … to catch up!”

    3. DJG, Reality Czar

      ChrisRUEcon: Well, even though Mercury is a busy divinity, what with being in charge of letters, numbers, travel, seduction, and those duties as Psychopompos, Himself is not in retrograde right now. Mercury went direct on 15 September, and the “penumbra” would have ended around 1 October.

      But there’s that occasional mischief of Hermes.

      More preoccupying is that Everyone Else Divine seems to be in retrograde. Heck, no wonder there are two wars exploding, Hillary Clinton propagandizing, Biden in meltdown, and that darn gas pipeline from Finland going cricky-cracky.

      See: Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto. Because Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus all have influence over the opening and closing of ages, it’s no surprise that we feel as if we are going into a new era.


      1. LaRuse

        Pluto just stationed direct for its last ride out of Capricorn this week. Underworld themes abound, power struggles, and aggression. Pluto in Cap has been marked my major financial instability and rapid expansion of wealth inequality (Pluto ingressed into Capricorn in 2008 – not that any special was going on in finance in 2008). Add in a fairly malevolent solar eclipse this weekend, and this week in particular is pretty ugly if you are into space weather.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          > not that any special was going on in finance in 2008

          LOL … ::chef’s kiss for sarc::

          A script rewrite of sorts in the heavens … #PlotTwists

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