2:00PM Water Cooler 10/2/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this Water Cooler will be heavy; there’s just too damn much on my beats. But enjoy! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Eastern Phoebe, Pinetree Drive, Licking, Ohio, United States. This is great! So much going on!

* * *


“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

“Poll: Majority of voters would support disqualifying Trump under 14th Amendment” [Politico]. “The headline result came following a series of questions in the POLITICO | Morning Consult poll on the constitutional amendment, which was adopted in the wake of the Civil War to block former Confederates from being sent to serve in Washington. The first question asks if Americans ‘support or oppose’ that section of the amendment. Broadly, voters agree with it — 63 percent said they either strongly or somewhat support it, which includes a majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents. Just 16 percent said they somewhat or strongly oppose it. But as Trump is introduced in the following questions, respondents separate into their partisan camps. When asked if they believed Trump ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion,’ 51 percent said either definitely or probably yes, and 35 percent said definitely or probably no. That number is divided sharply on party lines: 79 percent of Democrats — and 49 percent of independents — say that he did, while just under a quarter of Republicans agree. The margins are similar for an additional question that asked if Trump gave ‘aid and/or comfort’ to those engaged in insurrection and rebellion.”

“Citing the 14th amendment, group files lawsuit filed to keep Trump off Michigan 2024 ballot” [Michigan Advance]. “In the complaint, Free Speech For People and the former Michigan Democratic Party chair [(!)] argue that Trump is disqualified from holding public office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment for his role in ‘inciting and facilitating’ the insurrection [which should also be in quotes] at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.” But they buried the lead: “Robert Davis, a Detroit activist who frequently files lawsuits against public entities, last month first filed a suit to toss Trump from the Michigan ballot under 14th amendment grounds. That came after he appealed to Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who declined to kick Trump off the 2024 ballot in Michigan. She said she doesn’t have the authority to do so, even if the former president violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, as that was a matter for the courts.”

“Trump’s fight to stay on 2024 election ballot threatens to turn Constitution’s insurrection clause into ‘historical ornament,’ experts say” [Law and Crime]. A good wrap-up of the various cases. This caught my eye: “The former president’s attorneys also argue that since nary a Jan. 6 rioter has been charged and convicted under the federal rebellion statute, 18 U.S.C. 2383, there is no way Trump could have provided ‘aid or comfort’ to insurrectionists as Section III describes them. Notably, however, more than a dozen Jan. 6 defendants have been convicted of seditious conspiracy, or the conspiracy to stop the government from exercising its official duties by force. Many of these same individuals have also laid blame directly at Trump’s feet for inspiring them to act violently on Jan. 6.” • If January 6 had been “insurrection,” the “insurrectionists” would have been charged with that. Do we really believe that the prosecutors picked a lesser charge to be nice? Far more likely they couldn’t prove it.

* * *

“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.

Biden Administration

Biden interview:

The juice lasts an hour at least, I suppose. I haven’t had time to look at the transcript (at YouTube, and looks to be human-made, not the usual horrid auto-generated kind) so I’ll fall back on this tweet:

Well, that’s why we need a Censorship Industrial Complex!


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Trump heading to trial in 7 civil and criminal cases: A calendar of dates and what to expect” [USA Today]. “The Republican front-runner faces 91 felony counts across two federal cases and two state cases for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, falsifying business records and storing hundreds of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving the White House in 2021. He also faces several civil lawsuits that further complicate his 2024 calendar and will require him to sacrifice his time on the campaign trail to appear in court.” • Costing Trump both money, and more importantly a campaign’s most precious resource: The candidate’s time. Here are the dates:

Missed the pyramid scheme one. The whole piece is worth a read.

“Trump in court for New York fraud trial: live updates” [NBC]. “When asked why he opted to attend the trial’s first day in person, which is was not required to do, Trump responded: ‘Because I want to watch this witch hunt myself.'” • Here he is:

Lots of dogpiling on photos like this. But if Trump didn’t have to be there, there dogpiling would seem to be misplaced.

“Error in New York’s Civil Fraud Case Against Trump Is Flagged by Industry Insiders, Who Say Valuation of Mar-a-Lago Cited by Judge Is Based on a Misunderstanding of Basic Real Estate Practice” [New York Sun]. “The ruling of a New York judge that President Trump defrauded banks and insurance companies by inflating the value of his real estate assets is based, in at least one prominent case, on Judge Arthur Engoron’s elementary misunderstanding of basic real estate law, according to industry insiders who have spoken with The New York Sun. The director of the school of real estate at Florida International University, Eli Beracha, tells the Sun that the metric used by the judge is “not a good way to value the property” and is ‘not the right approach.’ He adds that real estate professionals ‘don’t even look at county appraisal data,’ which Judge Engoron relied on in rendering summary judgment. Mr. Beracha adds that ‘any real estate professional would say that market value and county appraisal are not the same thing,’ and that it is ‘not the job of the county appraiser to assess value.’ If it was, he explains, ‘we wouldn’t need Zillow.’ County officials, like the ones in Palm Beach County that Judge Engoron cites, merely perform ‘drive-by appraisals’ that are used to assess taxes, not total value.” • Commentary on Engoron:

It’s very hard for me to believe that a discrepancy between assessed value for tax purposes and value on the market can be the prosecution’s theory of the case. If it is, wowsers.

* * *

“Democrats Still Publicly Back Biden for 2024. Privately, Their Fears Are Growing” [Wall Street Journal]. “Publicly, top Democrats say they support President Biden running for re-election and think he can win. Privately, their worries are increasing but they are resigned to the idea that he isn’t going anywhere, and there is no viable Plan B…. Conversations with more than a dozen leading Democrats revealed the pervasive, but mostly private, sense of worry that hangs over the race. …. ‘In 2020, our campaign focused on real voters—not the cable news green room chatter. What matters is building a strong operation, investing in reaching our coalition, and focusing on November 2024. That strategy worked then, and it will again in 2024,’ said Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz.” • Plus Obama annointing Biden on the Night of the Long Knives, let us not forget.

“The case against Democrats bed-wetting over Biden” [Politico]. Patrick Dillon, a Democratic strategist whose wife, Jen O’Malley Dillon, is the president’s deputy chief of staff: “All of the people whose names get thrown about are all sitting there saying they’re supporting the president. That’s it. Period. End of story.”

* * *

“Newsom picks Laphonza Butler as Feinstein replacement” [Politico]. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler to fill the seat of the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, elevating the head of a fundraising juggernaut that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, according to a person familiar with the decision….. Butler is registered to vote in Maryland but will switch her registration to California….. Butler is a veteran organizer and well-known in Newsom’s orbit. He contemplated hiring the Southern Mississippi native to be his first chief of staff, and she was a one-time partner in the San Francisco-based consulting firm, now known as Bearstar Strategies, with his top political advisers. She has remained a confidant of Vice President Kamala Harris, after serving as a senior strategist on her 2020 presidential campaign. Butler, who is based in Washington and maintains close ties with Los Angeles, had a stint as director for public policy and campaigns at Airbnb and spent nearly two decades as a powerful and well-respected labor leader with the Service Employees International Union…. Butler is the first openly LGBTQ person to represent California in the Senate.” • She checks all the boxes! Love the AirBnB + SEIU connection! On the “switch her registration” part:


There are times when I think Stoller is the only voice that retains the spirit and technique of the Blogosphere, c. 2003-2006, and that’s something else that wasn’t on my Bingo card.

“Governor Newsom Selects Political Operative Laphonza Butler to Replace Sen. Feinstein” [Lee Fang]. “Butler has worked for various political interests, including as a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign and for nearly a decade as leader of the SEIU in Los Angeles and statewide. But her direct ties to Newsom include years as a consultant at SCRB Strategies, the consulting firm that has long managed Gavin Newsom’s political campaigns. The firm, now known as Bearstar Strategies, is the most influential among the small number of operatives that dominate California politics…. The company not only helped elect Gov. Jerry Brown, Newsom’s predecessor, but also served as the main consultants for Vice President Kamala Harris and Sen. Alex Padilla, whom Newsom also appointed to office. During Butler’s time at SCRB Strategies, the firm was tapped by Uber to help defeat efforts to allow drivers to win legal status to make them eligible for the minimum wage and to join labor unions. Lobbying disclosures show Uber paid the firm over $185,000. The Uber campaign pitched Butler against her former allies in organized labor, including the SEIU. The gig industry worked closely with former labor organizers in its ultimately successful push to unwind efforts to provide drivers with enhanced rights.” • She’s perfect! Presumably, however, Newsom’s most trusted political lieutenant will not be available for a 2024 campaign? That sends a pretty strong signal, to me.

“Michelle Obama, Democrats’ Savior and Nominee? Don’t Bet on It” [The Messenger]. “it’s almost impossible to see her jumping in to relieve Joe Biden and save the Democratic Party and the country from Donald Trump. Her life is quite nice right now: She and her husband have multimillion-dollar properties on the water in Martha’s Vineyard and just minutes from the White House in Washington. The Obamas enjoy the celebrity side of a post-presidential existence, having signed a huge deal with Netflix and both scoring Emmy nominations, Michelle for The Light We Carry: Michelle Obama & Oprah Winfrey. Why leave that life to enter a political environment that is as ugly and divisive as it’s ever been? And then there’s the consideration of just how bad such a move to install a candidate at the 11th hour would look to the public. To discard the entire primary process to essentially appoint a candidate on the convention floor, without that nominee having to earn one vote in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or on Super Tuesday, would be the kind of Soviet-style politics that most voters would roundly reject. But in the end, always follow the money. On that front, Michelle Obama was just paid nearly $750,000 for a one-hour speech on diversity and inclusion in Munich, according to a Daily Mail report. That’s almost double what a U.S. president earns in an entire year. The Obamas have a nice life, a lucrative life, a life that allows them to live like the ex-First Couple version of Jay-Z and Beyonce. Why leave that for a job she may not even want and a job she may not even ultimately be awarded? Michelle Obama: First female president. Looks good on paper, until reality sets in.”

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“Abortion may not be a game-changer for Democrats in 2024” [The Hill]. “There is no doubt that the abortion issue was influential in 2022. Studies suggested it was a motivating factor for women under 50 in the midterm elections that year. … The other problem with giving abortion too much significance in the 2024 elections is that it discounts the effects of polarization on the American voter. Two kinds of polarization are affective polarization, or feeling close to your chosen party and negatively about the opposing party, and policy polarization, or people of different parties choosing very different policy outcomes. Using data from the Meredith Poll from 2017-2023, we analyzed responses to questions about policy issues, including abortion, as well as their perceptions of people affiliated with the two major parties. We found that affective polarization was significantly stronger than policy polarization, even on a divisive issue like abortion.”

Obama Legacy

Learned nothing, forgotten nothing:

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.


* * *

“New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman pulls fire alarm in House office building but says it was an accident” [CNN]. “Bowman’s office said it was an accident, and the congressman told reporters [lol] later Saturday: ‘I was trying to get to a door. I thought the alarm would open the door, and I pulled the fire alarm to open the door by accident. I was just trying to get to my vote and the door that’s usually open wasn’t open, it was closed,’ Bowman added.” • CNN gives a video, but the video doesn’t show the alarm. So I immediately investigated the Washington, DC fire code, “International Fire Code” (there are several). From section 07.4.3: “Manual fire alarm boxes shall be red in color.” So it’s very, very hard to believe Bowman’s story, although apparently the “reporters” found a way. Sadly, all this happened over the weekend, so I didn’t get to look like a genius, and meanwhile some enterprising reporter from the scrappy New York Post covered the story–

“New pics throw cold water on Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s excuses for pulling fire alarm in House building” [New York Post]. You didn’t need pics. All you needed to know was the fire code. But: “The bright red alarm is clearly marked with the word “FIRE” — and is right next to two signs that provide explicit details on how to open the emergency door at the Cannon House Office Building, photos show. ‘Emergency Exit Only’ the signs read. ‘Push until alarm sounds (3 seconds). Door will unlock in 30 seconds.'” • Photos from Breitbart, for [family blog sake]. Meanwhile, if Bowman “obstructed an official proceeding” he could be in real trouble, lol no, what am I thinking.

“Bowman’s fire alarm fallout resonates back home and in Washington” [Politico]. “”It’s not just pulling any fire alarm. It’s pulling a fire alarm in the middle of a proceeding,” [Staten Island GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis] said in an interview with POLITICO. ‘[Bowman] was a high school principal. If anyone knows the ol’ trick of pulling a fire alarm, it’s a high school principal,’ she said. (He led a middle school, but point stands.)” • Congress really is like high school. First the dress code, now this. What next? Streaking?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Both sides”/denial:

X, one of my favorite bands. The lyrics in relevant part:

I must go slow
I must not think bad thoughts
When is this world coming to?
Both sides are right
But both sides murder
I give up
Why can’t they?

I must not think bad thoughts
I must not think bad thoughts
I must not think bad thoughts

Learn something new every day: Woodie Guthrie was a big influence on X, something I never knew ’til I researched this. Here also is an interview with lead singer Exene Cervenka. (And there aren’t only two sides. If there were, there would be no dialectic!)


“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!

* * *

Look for the Helpers


IM Doc did something similar (albeit at a more professional level). I wonder how many other Covid journals there are? Readers?


Elite masking:

“These Are The Best Masks To Protect You From Anti-Maskers” [Forbes]. Starts out with a summary of HICPAC’s anti-masking crusade, and describes a vicious and reprehensible lecture by “Dr. Shira Doron, chief infection control officer for Tufts. Doron was Shenoy’s co-author, along with Beth Israel Lahey’s Sharon Wright, in writing an article against universal masking in the prominent Annals of Internal Medicine journal.” Commentary: “Stanford sociologist Pantea Javidan, J.D., Ph.D., also viewed Doron’s speech. Via email, she said, ‘Doron’s callous disregard for vulnerable patients based on anecdotes and personal preferences and denying the findings of long Covid research made this one of the most painful lectures I’ve ever attended.’ She added, ‘Her comments [about outrunning the virus] were replete with fatalism and implicit mental health stigmatization, implying that mitigation is an irrational exercise in futility.’ Javidan also expressed concern that some medical leaders are ‘promoting policies that erode health & safety, which render self-protection increasingly difficult.’ We’ve seen this with Drs. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator, and Mandy Cohen, the CDC director, for example. Both have stressed that ‘We are in a better place’ than last year and minimizing the toll of long Covid. As Javidan concluded, ‘These are not leadership qualities that generate good health outcomes.'” • Perhaps Cohen, Jha, Doron, Wright, and Shenoy have define “good outcomes” in a way we would not expect medical professionals to do.


“SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers pro-atherogenic inflammatory responses in human coronary vessels” [Nature]. “. Our data establish that SARS-CoV-2 infects coronary vessels, inducing plaque inflammation that could trigger acute cardiovascular complications and increase the long-term cardiovascular risk…. We found evidence of SARS-CoV-2 replication in all analyzed human autopsy coronaries regardless of their pathological classification…. Despite these limitations [small study, 2020-2021 strains, older individuals], our study highlights the hyperinflammatory response orchestrated by SARS-CoV-2-infected plaque macrophages and foam cells as a mechanistic link between infection of atherosclerotic coronary vessels and acute cardiovascular complications of COVID-19.” • [chants] “Just a cold!” (Mild!) “Just a cold!” (Mild!)….

“Doctors issue warning to public as Covid-19 has ‘increased risk of silent killer'” [The Mirror (sorry)]. “Brigham and Women’s Hospital has discovered that sepsis is commonly caused by viral infections such as Covid-19. Sepsis can lead to the immune system sparking damage to the body’s tissues and organs. In the most severe cases, it can cause death. Most people ‘equate sepsis with bacterial infections’. However, a new study showed that it had been linked to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Researchers discovered that one in six sepsis cases during the first two-and-a-half years of the pandemic were caused by the virus.” Hospital Infection Control #FAIL. More: “Lead author Claire Shappell, from the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said: ‘This is reflected in treatment guidelines and quality measures that require immediate antibiotics for patients with suspected sepsis. However, viral infections, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, can trigger the same dysregulated immune response that leads to organ dysfunction as in bacterial sepsis.'” • Of courser, Brigham’s is also prominent in CDC’s HICPAC, which is trying to reduce patient infections. So maybe the administrators at Brigham should talk to the scientists at Brigham.

“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.

* * *

* * *

Lambert here: Back to tape-watching mode. It 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

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.


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

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, September 23:

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 29:

Return to the upward climb. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 23:

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 25:

-4.7%. Another big drop. (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, September 23:

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.

From CDC, traveler’s data, September 11:

Back up again And here are the variants for travelers:

Now, BA.2.86. FL.1.51.1, interestingly, low.


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: 1,177,283 – 1,176,771 = 512 (512 * 365 = 186,880 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, October 1:

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

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States ISM Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Manufacturing PMI rose to 49 in September of 2023 from 47.6 in the previous month, well above market expectations of 47.8 to reflect the slowest contraction in the US manufacturing sector in ten months. Despite the softened slowdown, the data still pointed to nearly one year’s worth of consecutive monthly contractions in US factory activity, underscoring the impact of higher borrowing costs from the Federal Reserve in the sector. Despite declining for the 13th month, new orders fell at a significantly slower pace as the evolving supply chain environment drove customers to take on more projects.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 Extreme Fear (previous close: 28 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 31 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 2 at 1:59:14 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

Zeitgeist Watch

Collective grief:

A Covid Wall, like the Vietnam Wall (built in 1982, seven years after the Vietnam war ended; I’m surprised it was that soon). But we don’t do that here.

“How to Process Our Collective Grief” [Yes!]. “It is beneficial to address the concept of oscillation, or the back-and-forth movement, in processing the grief. Because of how finite our human bodies are, it is not sustainable for us to be exposed to pain or stay in it for long periods of time or in high frequency. In oscillation, we stay present enough with the grief to confront, reflect, and talk about it, but not to the point where we are too overwhelmed or overcome by it that it debilitates us or causes physiological ailments, inflammation, or extreme discomfort. Similarly, we ought to avoid overstaying on the other side of the spectrum of desensitization or disconnection from the collective trauma, leaving us apathetic or numb to our collective responsibility to look after one another and disrupt systems and cycles of violence.” • We “ought” indeed!

Denial (and I hope this dude’s eyes aren’t really that blue):

Deru kugi wa utareru (出る釘は打たれる):

“‘COVID isn’t done with us’: So why have so many people started rolling the dice?” [MarketWatch]. “Hersh Shefrin, a mild-mannered behavioral economist at Santa Clara University, still wears a mask when he goes out in public. In fact, he wears two masks: an N95 medical-grade mask, and another cloth mask on top. ‘I’m in a vulnerable group. I still believe in masking,’ Shefrin, 75, told MarketWatch. It’s worked so far: He never did get COVID-19. Given his age, he is in a high-risk category for complications, so he believes in taking such precautions. But not everyone is happy to see a man in a mask in September 2023. ‘A lot of people just want to be over this,’ Shefrin, who lives in Menlo Park, Calif., said. ‘Wearing a mask in public generates anger in some people. I’ve had people come up to me and set me straight on why people should not wear masks. I’ve had people yell at me in cars. It might not match with where they are politically, or they genuinely feel that the risks are really low.’ His experience speaks to America in 2023. Our [we?] attitude to COVID-related risk has shifted dramatically, and seeing a person wearing a mask may give us anxiety. But how will we look back on this moment — 3½ years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic? Will we think, ‘There was a mild wave of COVID, but we got on with it’? Or say, ‘We were so traumatized back then, dealing with the loss of over 1.1 million American lives, and struggling to cope with a return to normal life’? We live in a postpandemic era of uncertainty and contradiction.” • Lots of theories about how “we” assess risk. Well worth a read!

Class Warfare

“The year poverty began to end” [Nate Bear, Do Not Panic]. “From 2020 to 2021 every marker of poverty, from child poverty, to overall poverty, to food insecurity, to homelessness, plummeted in the richest countries….. In 2021, US poverty fell to a record low, as did child poverty, which was almost halved, an achievement without precedent in modern US history. These achievements equated to lifting nearly 5 million children out of poverty…. It turns out that when you give people money and food and homes, they no longer suffer from a lack of money and food and homes. It turns out that poverty in rich countries is a choice…. As this transformation was underway in 2020 and 2021, the media was flooded with articles along the lines of: will we learn the lessons from the pandemic? I think we know the answer. Who talks now about the unprecedented reduction in rich world poverty? No one. Not even the left. So predictably, all these gains have been lost…. Homelessness and poverty is capitalism’s live stream, broadcast everywhere to ensure you can never fully escape the sense of precarity about what might be.” • At least for Covid, we also tested a single payer system and found it workable. That was erased, too. (I like the metaphor of “capitalism’s live stream.”)

“There is no market but the labor market”?

News of the Wired

“How Google Alters Search Queries to Get at Your Wallet” [Wired]. “Google likely alters queries billions of times a day in trillions of different variations. Here’s how it works. Say you search for ‘children’s clothing.’ Google converts it, without your knowledge, to a search for ‘NIKOLAI-brand kidswear,’ making a behind-the-scenes substitution of your actual query with a different query that just happens to generate more money for the company, and will generate results you weren’t searching for at all. It’s not possible for you to opt out of the substitution. If you don’t get the results you want, and you try to refine your query, you are wasting your time. This is a twisted shopping mall you can’t escape. Why would Google want to do this? First, the generated results to the latter query are more likely to be shopping-oriented, triggering your subsequent behavior much like the candy display at a grocery store’s checkout. Second, that latter query will automatically generate the keyword ads placed on the search engine results page by stores like TJ Maxx, which pay Google every time you click on them. In short, it’s a guaranteed way to line Google’s pockets. It’s also a guaranteed way to harm everyone except Google. This system reduces search engine quality for users and drives up advertiser expenses. Google can get away with it because these manipulations are imperceptible to the user and advertiser, and the company has effectively captured more than 90 percent market share. It’s unclear how often, or for how long, Google has been doing this, but the machination is clever and ambitious.” • YIKES! As I wrote: “One of Terry Pratchett’s more entertaining villains, Mr. Pin, has ‘Not a Nice Person at All’ done in pokerwork on his wallet. ‘I wonder kind of person would put that on a wallet?’ ‘Somebody who wasn’t a very nice person.'” Google is Mr. Pin (embodied as a corporate person, of course).

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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. MaryLand

    Just wanted to share this link to a new Climate Vulnerability Map

    “Pulling in 184 sets of data to rank more than 70,000 U.S. Census tracts, the U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index helps you see which communities face the greatest challenges from the impacts of a changing climate. This tool shows what is driving the challenges, so policymakers and communities themselves can take action to build climate resilience where it is needed most.”

    You can find all sorts of potential hazards in any particular area of the “lower 48” US states. Some amazing things there from environmental hazards to socioeconomic factors like how prevalent gun ownership is.


    1. Bsn

      Nice map, thank you. As a growing paper delivery person in the early 60s, I leaned to love maps. I wonder if real estate sales people will want this viewed by purchasers of homes in Florida, Texas, and other, dark colored states (depending on the search mode) > Hmm, such fun.

    2. JBird4049

      If I read the maps correctly, the poorest states in the Union, which are Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, are also going to be the hardest hit.

  2. notabanker

    Well, hey Matt Chapman! Five years ago, it “only” cost me $1500 a month for Obamacare, and “only” an additional $17,000 out of pocket for a half-assed diagnosis that was treated with three very cheap and common generic drugs. For one year of coverage. And yes, that is well north of my monthly mortgage payment.

    It was very nice of your ilk to use my previous income from the last two years to formulate how much I needed to pay, when I was out of work at the time. Nothing like kicking someone when they are down. Or calling them a liar when you have no personal knowledge of the situation.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The “Bidenomics” chest thumping makes sense if they simply don’t believe raw data.

      1. griffen

        It is the best of times, thanks all to the new FDR and surefire he will get a second term no matter if it is vs Trump or someone other than Trump. Joe Biden fans or foes, behold his vast and might accomplishments ! ( Sarc ).

        Can’t help myself. Discussion yesterday on oil prices. Watching what they do late 2023 into early 2024, just to nudge the national average of gas a nickel or dime lower. Added note of cynicism, the Biden energy mavens did not, as they planned it, begin to repurchase barrels and replenish the SPR ( US Strategic Petroleum Reserve ).

  3. antidlc


    These Are The Best Masks To Protect You From Anti-Maskers

    I contacted Dr. Erica Shenoy, chief of infection control at MGB, to ask about their policies but received no answer to my questions. More recently, I attended a talk by Dr. Shira Doron, chief infection control officer for Tufts. Doron was Shenoy’s co-author, along with Beth Israel Lahey’s Sharon Wright, in writing an article against universal masking in the prominent Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

    During the limited question-and-answer period, Doron explained, “My job is to prevent the transmission of disease within a healthcare system.” She went on to say she does not mask when out and about because “I am not trying to outrun the virus.” She added, “Maybe you can delay it a little bit, but we’re all going to get Covid again and again throughout our lifetime.”

    1. Objective Ace

      >we’re all going to get Covid again and again throughout our lifetime.

      That’s a bit a red herring. 5 or 10 vs 20 or 40 makes a big difference, even though they both would constitute “again and again”

      1. some guy

        Well . . . . someone might point out the difference between ” again and again ” as against ” again and again and again . . . and again . . . and again . . . ”

        How many ” agains ” does it take for the accumulating damage to go from being additive to being force-multiplicative to exponential?

    2. XXYY

      “Maybe you can delay it a little bit, but we’re all going to get Covid again and again throughout our lifetime.”

      However short that may be.

      I assume that the cumulative toll of COVID damage will eventually kill you after some number of cases, either immediately (“he just fell over dead!”), or by damaging some part of your body you need to live a normal lifespan (immune system, lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, neurons, etc.). I would guess that this is not a huge number seeing how many people are seriously damaged after just one or two infections.

      One of the most serious problems with trying to force COVID and the flu into the same mental bucket is that COVID is not something you just get and then recover from year after year like the flu is.

    3. Acacia

      This seems to be the big disconnect.

      I hear people around me say: “well, I’m just resigned that I may get Covid twice a year going forward”. They say this with a shrug, and when queried about masking, will often add: “nobody else in my office is masking, so …”

      If I say: “so, you’re resigned to 80% chance of Long Covid in less than five years?” They’ll say, “uh… no…”.

      And if I continue: “but that’s the math, isn’t it? The general estimate from a number of sources seems to be around at least 10% chance of Long Covid with each infection, so 10 times 2 times 4 is 80.” At this point, they generally go silent and disengage, like they’re thinking: “no, your math doesn’t apply to me.”

      Alternately, if I say something like “a lot of people seem to be rolling the dice on Long Covid”, they’ll say: “well, I am one of them,” with the implication that I am somehow questioning their sense of risk, i.e., telling them they are taking unacceptable risks — and that’s crossing a line.

  4. Mark Gisleson

    re: ‘wowsers’ and Trump’s NY real estate tax case

    The dim-wittedness of the neoliberals can be quite astonishing but it’s consistent with the kind of second-rate hires you get given the leadership we have.

    Narcissists in management culture got heavy scrutiny in the post-’90s. I dealt with it indirectly too many times and am just now noticing how those abusive practices rhyme with how the Democratic party is now being run.

    I think we are dealing with a narcissistic political party. Democrat leadership has grown excessively self-absorbed. Narcissism neatly explains the intolerance for dissent, uniformity of expressions of support, etc.

    Before the ’90s, the word commonly used to describe this kind of organization was “cult.”

    Is Biden wearing aviator shades or Jim Jones style sunglasses?

    1. ambrit

      The Democrat Party is definitely passing around bottles of ‘special’ Kool Aid to the “faithful.” Given the potential massive health dysregulations coming in the populations that accepted “the jab,” this flavour of ‘Kool Aid’ might be just as deadly as anything Jim Jones cooked up.
      It does point to massive incompetence to see an elite convince their primary minions to take in substances that were not properly tested and proved out. Something like the Golden Egg itself killing the Goose that laid it.

    2. flora

      Thanks. It does grieve me deeply, deeply to think that the NC subscription entity of WC has gone full ‘Empty Wheel’ something-or-other. I can only hope I’m wrong. I was fooled by Bernie in 2016. Sorry. I do hope I’m wrong. I’m probably wrong. Probably. I hope.

      1. ambrit

        Hmmm…. You have me at a disadvantage here. I know of Marcy Wheeler and her blog, but wonder about the connection to WC. (No pun intended.)
        I find that I have been fooled fairly regularly by Politicos of all stripes. Deception must be in their DNA.
        To mangle a metaphor; Today, Politics is the art of the impossible.

      2. some guy

        How was anyone fooled by Bernie in 2016? Didn’t he promise ahead of time to support whomever the DemParty nominee turned out to be in return for being able to run in the DemParty primaries? (One can regret that it didn’t occur to him to say his promise was self-cancelling in the event of primary fraud, but it didn’t occur to him to say that).

  5. hamstak

    “…more than a dozen Jan. 6 defendants have been convicted of seditious conspiracy, or the conspiracy to stop the government from exercising its official duties by force. Many of these same individuals have also laid blame directly at Trump’s feet for inspiring them to act violently on Jan. 6.” • If January 6 had been “insurrection,” the “insurrectionists” would have been charged with that. Do we really believe that the prosecutors picked a lesser charge to be nice?

    Not in order to be nice, but is it possible they were offered a lesser charge in exchange for pointing the finger at Trump? If they were given maximum sentences (provided there is some sort of sentencing leeway for those offenses), then I would say probably not. (Caveat: IANAL, though I once dated one. Never again.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Not in order to be nice, but is it possible they were offered a lesser charge in exchange for pointing the finger at Trump?

      I think if that were going to happen, it would already have happened. Anyhow, you don’t work your way up the ladder by giving deals to all the footsoldiers. You pick one or two, the most vulnerable.

      1. hamstak

        Sorry, I don’t think I was clear enough. What I meant was that they were offered “seditious conspiracy” as opposed to “insurrection” (whatever the precise charges are) — assuming that the latter would carry a heavier sentence and therefore be lesser. I should have said “the” lesser charge.

        But you are probably right about not casting the net so wide.

  6. ChrisFromGA

    A tune about the temporary interruption in the gravy train to Kiev:

    (Loosely sung to the melody of “Cups and Cakes” by Spinal Tap)

    Skunked and punked, skunked and punked
    No more cash for Z, who wudda thunk?
    You gotta set Kev right, get on the 6am flight
    What a gay time it will be

    Skunked & punked, skunked & punked
    Besties Mitch and Joe are in a senile funk
    They’re threatening Kev, he’s a Putin-phile red!
    And they wish he wasn’t there

    Guns and butter, Senate got jammed
    “Yes, please, sir” and “Thank you, ma’am”
    (He’d better not end like Saddam)

    Skunked and punked, let’s take a break
    Z’s so full his tummy aches
    How sad it must end
    But he’s glad he’s got friends
    Working hard like servile gimps
    Serving cups and cakes to him

    1. ambrit

      Forget the Coracle of Orts, give us a Scriptorium of Scraps. We’re big boys and girls, we can take it.
      On the Climate Vulnerability map, I see that we here in the North American Deep South are in the Vanguard of “Sacrificing for Humanity.” You DamYanks up in Maine and nearby are in the “Safe Zones.”
      What’s next? Climate Carpetbaggers?

      1. MaryLand

        Haha! Will those in the safe zones welcome all the climate carpetbaggers/refugees, in a few years? Will they be bussed in?

    2. GC54

      Re google searches. End the search box with e.g.
      to drop that pushed link. You can tack on several.

  7. nippersdad

    “During Butler’s time at SCRB Strategies, the firm was tapped by Uber to help defeat efforts to allow drivers to win legal status to make them eligible for the minimum wage and to join labor unions. Lobbying disclosures show Uber paid the firm over $185,000. The Uber campaign pitched Butler against her former allies in organized labor, including the SEIU. The gig industry worked closely with former labor organizers in its ultimately successful push to unwind efforts to provide drivers with enhanced rights.”

    Which reminds me of a story from not so very long ago about who is actually in the C-suite over at Uber: Plouffe and Messina.

    “A campaigner by trade, Plouffe became one of the central figures in Uber’s global lobbying effort, using his experience to get the company access to leaders, officials and diplomats. Uber also relied on another Obama alumnus as a consultant for political advice, Jim Messina, who had served as Plouffe’s deputy and first introduced him to Kalanick. The files suggest that in some cases Uber tried to use him to gain access to public officials.”

    They are just all so incestuous. It is just ick making to see how this sausage is being made.


    1. Marsha

      La Ponzi But Her! New$cum is disgusting. Sickening corruption.

      Imagine a candidate pledging to only appoint

      White family men with childen to important political posts…

      Just mailed a $100 check to Trump’s campaign. I was a Bernie supporter.

  8. Jason Boxman

    Costing Trump both money, and more importantly a campaign’s most precious resource: The candidate’s time. Here are the dates:

    And hilariously reminds me of the second impeachment calendar, where Sanders was crucially kept off the campaign trail early in the campaign in 2020. Coincidence? Liberal Democrats do seem to love the lawfare game. So many different approaches and novel theories.

    Don’t think for a moment this creativity could not be applied to delivering on material benefits, such as universal health care, if liberal Democrats actually cared.

  9. Sleepy LaBeef

    Seditious criminal fool berates judge then sits for a bench trial. Judge now the fact-finder, finding when Trump needs loan collateral, he swears Mar-a-Lago is palatial residence although Trump knows covenants on the property prevent people from lawfully residing on the property, which is really a just a palmetto-infested banquet hall that doesn’t cash flow without gouging taxpayers and soliciting foreign bribes. Useless property that cannot be developed for environmental reasons is “conserved” for tax credits, but then, for the purposes of loan collateral, that property is fictitious project-ready for a housing development.

    There used to be a blog site that took to the woodshed greedy people who foist the risk of their con jobs onto the public.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, the alleged costs here were imposed on banks…who were all repaid in full. Please explain the harm to me.

      We called for banks to take losses when they made stupid loans in the crisis to borrowers who bought too much house. Those borrowers were regularly depicted as greedy. Lenders charge premia over risk free rates to cover the risk of credit losses. NY State is trying to protect banks from making arguably stupid loans to Trump that actually worked out.

  10. Carolinian

    ‘any real estate professional would say that market value and county appraisal are not the same thing,’ and that it is ‘not the job of the county appraiser to assess value.’ If it was, he explains, ‘we wouldn’t need Zillow.’

    Even a financial ignoramus like me knows that. What a kangaroo court.

  11. Ranger Rick

    That poll of voters on the 14th Amendment theory piques my ire. Why are they asking only voters? Surely such an important issue as the exercise of Constitutional disqualification over a technicality (a turn of phrase, to be more specific) would concern every citizen, and not just the people who bother to show up in November. Are they insinuating nobody cares but the political class and their, shall we say, biannual reviewers? As blithe and ironic as that sounds, I’m serious.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The 14th Amendment ‘was adopted in the wake of the Civil War to block former Confederates from being sent to serve in Washington.’ Since the last recognized Confederate – Pleasant Crump – died back in 1951, then mission accomplished! Last time I checked, Donald Trump is not now are has ever been a member of the Confederate States of America.

  12. Carolinian

    ‘[Bowman] was a high school principal. If anyone knows the ol’ trick of pulling a fire alarm, it’s a high school principal,’ she said. (He led a middle school, but point stands.)”

    Haw haw….so true so true.

    But then they also expected us to believe Russiagate.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      There are many people who still believe Russiagate, because they “know” Trump is Guilty.

  13. Jason Boxman

    See pinned 🧵 for more on this. If no one else moves, then human beings will literally sit still in a smoke filled room and risk being burned alive because the alternative — being the weird person that panics and leaves — is somehow worse psychologically.

    Can speak to this — I sat in a full auditorium for a comedy show almost 20 years ago, and the intermission had a band with the equipment at probably 100 decibels; I was uncomfortable plugging my ears or leaving.

    My ears ring to this day, loud enough it’s usually obvious. I’m surprised I haven’t suicided.

    Expensive lesson. I’m trying not to repeat it with COVID. Never trust to others to look out for yourself. Often people can’t even look out for themselves.

    1. Objective Ace

      Cant find the link, but there’s a famous nightclub fire. The club had obvious smoke throughout for 30 mintutes and no one evacuated. By the time people started evacuating it was already to late. Only about half of the guests made it out alive.

      Everyone believed that if no one else was worried enough to leave there must be no real danger

    2. salty dawg

      A lot of unvaccinated people can relate to that video–the uncomfortable feeling of concluding that everyone else is doing something wrong.

      Never trust to others to look out for yourself. Often people can’t even look out for themselves.
      Yes, you’re completely right.

      1. kareninca

        This evening I was talking with some young people (in a bible reading group on zoom) about Jenner using his maid’s son to test his smallpox vaccine and Tuskeegee and Operation SeaSpray and the medical experiments that the Japanese performed on Chinese people during WWII and and the like and then I said how it was funny that people thought that all those unethical human experiments were all over now and that there couldn’t presently be any going on.

  14. ambrit

    The surfer dude with the Fremen Spice eyes ‘feels’ like an AI Deep Fake. The voice is the giveaway for me.

    1. CanCyn

      Not just the voice, watch the way his lips move – definitely done with some kind of CGI. But agree with Lambert, the script is great. I wonder why they didn’t just use a real person.

      1. ambrit

        I noticed that “his” pupils did not change size at any point.
        Also, the cadence of the speech is too regular. “Real” Terran humans have choppier speech patterns. The professional singers in the commenteriat might tell us how hard it is to train the voice to be ‘controlled’ in expression.
        When the mouth moved from side to side, I noticed a ‘dragging’ effect in the surrounding jaw and cheek zones.
        The “script” was fine, but could the “obviousness” of the AI Deep Fake elements be a subtle ‘disinformation’ process? If one is ‘uncomfortable’ with a performance, one tends to discount it. So, perhaps a very sophisticated CoIntelPro involved.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Took only a few seconds to see that it was AI generated due to the uncanny valley look and the way his body did not mesh with how his head moved. And therein lay the problem. Why would they do that? Why would you try to give an important message with a fake person with ‘Paul Newman’ eyes? It undercuts the message by having falseness be a part of that message. It’s like listening to the Gettysburg Address – but being delivered by Peewee Hermann.

      1. ambrit

        That is a very strange Alternate Timeline there. President Hermann in charge of the United States during the US-Canada war of 1860.
        See my comment just above. I noticed the “disconnect” between the ‘message’ and the ‘messenger’ too.
        Psy-op came to mind right away.

  15. in_still_water

    Troubling but not surprising to read via Marketwatch link about that 75 year old catching flack for wearing a mask – in Menlo Park, CA no less.

    1. kareninca

      I live five miles down the road from that guy and no-one has ever given me a hard time over my constant masking, other than a fellow freak anti-vaxxer who is sort of a friend (and we both enjoyed yelling at each other). I wonder why a 70ish man would be so much more a target than a 5’4″ 60 y.o. female.

  16. Glen

    A report on the drought impacting the Mississippi river shipping.

    Mississippi River Near Historic Lows Putting Grain Exports at Risk

    This is mostly caused by drought in the upper watershed of the river. Drought along the gulf coast is causing the salt water intrusion in New Orleans and other gulf cities.

    1. Gumbo

      Corn harvest is in full swing in southern Illinois. Last week the basis at Kemper’s Landing went to $1.10 (usually a dime or two either side of zero depending), driving cash price down to 3.87/bu for awhile. Kemper’s didn’t want the grain because they couldn’t load it out.

  17. Dr. John Carpenter

    I think we can safely say the Democrats don’t give a toss about the primary process. (I mean, they argued in court against it, fer Koresh sake!) But the rest of the article about Michelle Obama is what I’ve been saying. The Obamas have a nice, cushy life. What would they gain by Michelle running for president? Materially there’s nothing and her ego seems to be fed more by celebrity and its power than that of politics.

    1. The Rev Kev

      There would be nothing in it for Michelle Obama. If she became President, then hubby would use his contacts to undercut her and would be the one wanting to really run things behind the scenes. He would isolate her in the White House so that he could be the ones to pull the levers.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This supposes she wins. Unlike Hilldawg, she wasn’t part of the administration, and her garden was neglected after a fun appearance.

  18. mrsyk

    I love the Post. Apparently Jamaal Bowman is a “socialist”. It’s like congress is a boy band and everyone is assigned a role no matter how inappropriate. Sucks to be the bass player, right squad members?

        1. mrsyk

          Stanly Clarke! Sting? (and those which you’ve mentioned). I’ll admit I was playing on a stereotype. None the less………Perhaps my favorite music video ever, Primus.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “The case against Democrats bed-wetting over Biden”

    That is not Democrats bed-wetting over Biden. It is obviously two Russian hookers peeing the bed. After all, Democrats believed that the first time around.

    1. ambrit

      Here in the North American Deep South we refer to that as “K” Street Kool Aid. (Also an integral ‘part’ of the Trickle Down economic theory.)

  20. Luckless Pedestrian

    I am also a fan of X. I think of them often now that Twitter has changed its name. I’m thinking Elon Musk needs to do a convincing rendition of “Adult Books” or maybe “The Have Nots.”

  21. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Lambert’s Stoller vibe observation

    This. This is when we needed embedded gifs of Wayne and Garth describing their worthiness.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    NYT still humping the same fact-free Russiagate hogwash – https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/02/us/politics/putin-ukraine-spy-united-states.html

    Same article via yahoo, no paywall – https://www.yahoo.com/news/putin-next-target-u-support-173151349.html

    Just a little taste –

    “U.S. intelligence assessments in 2017 and 2021 concluded that Russia had tried to influence elections in favor of Donald Trump. In 2016, Russia hacked and leaked Democratic National Committee emails that hurt Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign and pushed divisive messages on social media. In 2020, Russia sought to spread information denigrating Joe Biden — but many Republicans in Congress argued Russia’s goal was to intensify political fights, not to support Trump.”

    I’d thought the article might have been written under a pseudonym by some chatbot trained on anti-Putin palaver, but it turns out it was written by an actual human being who lacks the ability to feel shame.

    1. ThirtyOne

      If you’ve got an hour to flush down the crapper:

      We begin with Putin telling Trump to cut aid to Ukraine, then Trump telling Marjorie Taylor Greene to cut the aid, then Margorie Taylor Greene telling Speaker McCarthy to cut Ukraine aid out of the bill the Democrats helped pass to prevent a government shutdown. Joining us to discuss why cutting aid to Ukraine is the top priority for Trump and a handful of Republicans in congress so much so that they would shut down the government is Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing editor at Harper’s in legal affairs and national security. He serves on the American branch of the International Law Association, and has represented a variety of journalists and whistleblowers.

      100 proof TDS

  23. Tom Stone

    There is almost always a difference between the assessed value of a property ( Usually done at the County level) and the current market value.
    It can be a very substantial difference, and any opinion of value is both as of a given date and an OPINION.
    An Appraisal is usually “A reasonably supported opinion of value made in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.”
    If you want to get a loan on a property such as Mar-A-Lago you will need a formal appraisal and I would not be surprised if the Market value is a multiple of the assessed value.
    After all, taxes are paid on the assessed value and County Governments hate to hurt the feelings of large landowners.

  24. michael99

    “Governor Newsom Selects Political Operative Laphonza Butler to Replace Sen. Feinstein”

    Well-played by the Dem party establishment. They surely don’t want Katie Porter or Barbara Lee winning Feinstein’s Senate seat next year, and now they have catapulted a person largely unknown to the general public but more aligned with their interests into the race, who also to a degree neutralizes whatever advantages Lee and Porter might have gotten from being women and in Ms. Lee’s case African American. And Ms. Butler even gets to introduce herself to voters as acting Senator between now and the election. (Adam Schiff is in the race as well, but I’m going to ignore him.)

    This situation reminds me a little of the Nina Turner race where the Dems countered Ms. Turner with a more “moderate” candidate who also happened to be an African American woman. The Dem party is really quite adept at heading off attempts by leftist candidates to gain power within the party.

    Given that Bernie Sanders is an Independent and not a Democrat, I don’t think there are any leftist Dem Senators. Where’s the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in that?

  25. kareninca

    A young woman – a student in her late 20s – in a bible reading zoom group I went to this evening was very upset. She is Catholic, and a guy in her church here in Silicon Valley just died. He tested positive for covid, and then two days later died in his sleep. He had no known prior cardiac problems. He left a wife and kids. She still masks, but she said that it was surreal; there was a huge service for him but no-one else there was masked.

    I do get tired of the denigration of churchgoers, so I want to say that there are countless nonreligious unmasked giant group events around here too; this just happens to be my anecdote.

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