2:00PM Water Cooler 10/27/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Australian Pelican, Carawine Gorge Camp Area, East Pilbara, Western Australia, Australia. “2 Feeding in water shallows inlet of a outlet channel. 1/2 moon. Able to see fish but I did see some [go] passed which they missed.” More splashing!

* * *


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

Our Famously Free Press


Time for the Countdown Clock!

“Trump leads Biden among ‘double-haters’ in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin: poll” [New York Post]. “Donald Trump has a narrow advantage over President Biden among voters who dislike both major-party front-runners across three key battleground states, a Democrat-commissioned poll has found. The former president leads the current president 51% to 48% among so-called “double-haters” in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to the survey conducted by Democratic firm GQR on behalf of pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country, first reported by NBC News.”

* * *

“U.S. attorney says probe of Biden-Ukraine ties, $10M bribe hamstrung by DOJ, FBI” [Washington Times]. “The U.S. attorney assigned to look into the Biden family’s deals in Ukraine, including allegations of pocketing a $10 million bribe, told House lawmakers that the Justice Department and FBI significantly hobbled his investigation….. A key piece of evidence under Mr. Brady’s review was the transcript of an interview with one of the FBI’s most credible confidential human sources who said he was told that then-Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden each accepted a $5 million bribe from the owner of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma. Mr. Brady determined that the allegation was credible enough to warrant further investigation and alerted three U.S. attorney’s offices, including the Delaware office investigating Hunter Biden on tax fraud charges. None of them followed up.”

* * *

“Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips launches a White House bid, challenging Biden” [NBC]. “Asked if he was running for president next year, Phillips said, ‘I am. I have to.’ ‘I will not sit still, I will not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying we’re going to be facing an emergency next November,’ Phillips added. Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night. Phillips, 54, has been a staunch critic of Biden’s re-election bid, citing a want for a younger leader to replace the 80-year-old president, and has previously called on other candidates to challenge him. ‘As a Democrat, I adore Joe Biden. He saved this country. He can cement his legacy,’ Phillips said in an August interview on NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘My real call to action right now is not about me. The call to action is to ask the president to pass the torch.’ ‘Enter the primary, my friends,’ Phillips added later in the interview. Everybody who is on the bench, meet the moment. Don’t wait five years. We need you now.'” • Everybody into the pool!

“55 Things You Need to Know About Dean Phillips” [Politico]. “23. He and his wife have a Norwich Terrier named Henry.” • Fine. How’s Henry in the biting department?

“Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips launches longshot bid for presidency” [Star-Tribune]. “Phillips started the campaign roll-out late Thursday and filed for New Hampshire’s presidential primary on Friday. He joyfully made his way to his campaign bus Friday morning on one of the most politically consequential days of his career and said ‘it’s time for change. It’s time for people with different perspectives, different backgrounds, different political perspectives, to come together.’ But not long after, Phillips more directly confronted Biden’s status. ‘The only person helping Donald Trump right now, I’m afraid, is President Biden, and that is the problem,’ Phillips told reporters…. Phillips has a conceivable path to victory in New Hampshire because Biden has chosen not to appear on the state’s primary ballot. Biden strongly supports the Democratic National Committee’s reshuffled order of state presidential primaries, which places South Carolina ahead of New Hampshire. And New Hampshire is defying the DNC by seeking to still hold its primary first. That means the only Democrats on New Hampshire’s primary ballot could be Phillips, author Marianne Williamson and other lesser-known candidates. Some Democrats in New Hampshire are expected to organize a write-in campaign for Biden. ‘I want to speak for the exhausted majority in America. The people who know that we have reached a point where we have got to stop the nonsense,’ Phillips told reporters as the day began.” • Betting, it would seem, on Biden’s medical status.

* * *

“Meet RFK Jr.’s eclectic, ragtag donor army threatening Biden and Trump in 2024” [Washington Examiner]. “An English rock star not fond of COVID-19 lockdowns, a left-wing film director who has come under fire for his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a billionaire security firm founder with ties to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. On its face, these three characters may not necessarily seem to have a whole lot in common. What they do share, however, is bankrolling the long-shot White House bid for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Democrat turned independent who thinks he has what it takes to unseat President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election…. Money doesn’t lie, either. Between July and September, Kennedy raked in an impressive $8.7 million in campaign donations. That’s $470,000 more than the third quarter haul for ex-United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, who at 8.3% polls third among Republican presidential hopefuls. During that same period, it’s also $758,000 more combined than contributions to both Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and former Vice President Mike Pence — whose campaigns have struggled to gain traction.” Also Timothy Mellon, Gavin de Becker, and Abby Rockefeller, billionaires all. More: “It’s a unique donor cohort, along with others who have given to Kennedy, and underscores how the candidate is pulling cash from across the political spectrum.” • Many others listed.

“He Was Once a Favorite of the Right. Now, Mike Pence Can’t Get a Crowd of 15 to a Pizza Ranch” [Politico]. “Iowa inflicts its own quadrennial and peculiar political indignities and hazing rituals on candidates. But few have submitted to them so fully as Pence, who even his own aides admit must deliver a surprise finish here next January to keep his decades-long presidential ambitions alive. He was the only candidate to actually ride a motorcycle at Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s July Roast and Ride. He spent more time at the Iowa State Fair than any other candidate.” • Commentary:

Politics is a rough game.

Republican Funhouse

“How Mike Johnson, One of Congress’ Staunchest Religious Conservatives, Became Second in Line to the President” [People]. “Johnson’s political positions are largely attributed to his ultraconservative religious views, which have led him to fight for prayer in public schools and lobby against abortion and same-sex marriage…. In one editorial written in 2004, Johnson espouses support for the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned the federal recognition of same-sex marriage until being found unconstitutional in 2015.” • DOMA having been signed by Bill Clinton…..

“How Mike Johnson Went from Relative Obscurity to Speaker of the House” [The New Yorker]. “The key to Johnson’s current standing among House Republicans is his role in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Trump’s refusal to accept the result put his congressional supporters in a bind. Their base shared Trump’s belief in the illegitimacy of the outcome, but privately the Party’s top leaders admitted that the President was unhinged…. Johnson had proposed an alternative that allowed members to skirt the question. According to a detailed report, published last year in the Times, he suggested that House Republicans could vote against certifying the results not just because of fraud, which no one could prove, but on arcane legal grounds. ‘Constitutional infirmity,’ Johnson called them. Many states had modified their voting procedures in response to the pandemic. But in the process, he argued, they had violated the Constitution. According to Johnson’s theory, they could only make changes to election protocol with the approval of each state’s own legislature; as a result, Republicans could rule out the results.” • This is the only useful nugget in a babbling brook of aghastide, and it’s wrong (and whatever happened the New Yorker’s vaunted fact-checking department?). I went and found Johnson’s amicus brief–

“Motion for Leave to File Brief Amicus Curiae and Brief Amicus Curiae of U.S. Representative Mike Johnson and 125 Other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File a Bill of Complaint and Motion for a Preliminary Injunction” (PDF) [Supreme Court of the United States]. An amicus brief for December 2020’s Texas v. Pennsylvania, which is a bit of a grab bag, involving the “Electors Clause” (more later), intrastate differences in the treatment of voters, and “material illegality” during the balloting process in the defendant states (PA, GA, MI, WI).

• The remedy sought by TX Attorney General Ken Paxton in Texas was “[to] enjoin the use of unlawful election results without review and ratification by the Defendant States’ legislatures and remand to the Defendant States’ respective legislatures to appoint Presidential Electors in a manner consistent with the Electors Clause and pursuant to 3 U.S.C. § 2.” The Supreme Court declined to hear the case based on standing: “[T]he justices explained that Texas lacked a legal right to sue, known as standing, and did not have a legal interest in how other states carried out their elections. As a result, the court rejected Texas’ lawsuit without considering the merits of the state’s case. Virtually all legal experts had given the lawsuit little chance of succeeding from the moment it was filed.”

• What Johnson did in his amicus brief was toss out the woo woo (“material illegality”), toss out differential treatment of voters, and focus only on the Electors Clause: “Art. II, § 1, cl. 2, directs that: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” From there, Johnson shows that in the defendant states, balloting processes (mail drops, etc.) were in fact changed by officials in the legislative branch, without legislative approval. Johnson concludes: “As members of the federal legislature, these amici seek to protect the constitutional role of state legislatures in determining the manner by which states choose their electors.” Now, both the Texas brief (in part) and Johnson’s brief (wholly) seem to be based on the “independent state legislature theory,” which is controversial to say the least, but Johnson’s brief is focused and to the point, unlike Paxton’s prolix screed. It’s also a piece of clever lawyering that did the Republicans a big, big favor: It gave them a brief they could sign onto, both pleasing Trump and above all not buying into the woo woo being emitted by Trump’s circus of bent lawyers. No wonder he’s such a likeable fellow. Commentary:

I think Derek Guy is a great account, and Mike Johnson (R-Brylcream) muscling in on it is to be deplored.

* * *

“The future looks Republican” [The Spectator]. “[W]hatever Trump might have done right or wrong with respect to Covid in 2021, the pandemic would have remained a source of bad headlines. With Afghanistan and Covid as defining issues of the first half of Trump’s second term, congressional Republicans would have faced brutal results in the 2022 midterms. Six-year midterms are historically agonizing for the party in the White House. With Trump in the White House, and in that issue environment, no political handicapper can have any doubt about GOP fortunes in 2022. There’s no point in guessing what would have happened in the last two years of a second consecutive Trump term, but given the scenarios above, and the fact that a two-term president has been succeeded in office by a member of his own party only once since the 1950s, one can predict with confidence that Republicans would not be on track to keep the White House in 2024. And a younger, more energetic Democrat than Joe Biden would be lined up to crush Mike Pence that November. Instead, Biden is president, and the Democrats are facing a grim 2024.” • Plausible, or cope?

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.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Often in error but still seductive: Why we can’t quit election polls” [The Conversation]. “Significantly, election polling benefits from a what-else-is-there attitude among journalists, opinion researchers, historians of public polling and politicians that no other reasonably accurate options exist in sampling the public’s views and attitudes. Extensive interviewing by political journalists, an earnest technique called ‘shoe-leather’ reporting, occasionally has been tried by news organizations seeking an alternative to reliance on polls. But such experiments have produced little success.” • Perhaps we have polls only for narrative purposes? One has to write something, after all.


“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!

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“Quantitative errors in the Cochrane review on ‘Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses'” (preprint) [arXiv]. “Our analysis of the Cochrane review and Loeb 2022 thus far demonstrates that these empirical studies utilize approaches for analysis that make unfounded assumptions in estimating effects. While the methods are conventional, they follow a pro-forma context that is not grounded in the circumstances of the trials and observational studies. In this section we introduce additional errors due to missing data, including on non-study participants, as well as compounding effects.” And:

Figure 2: A failure to evaluate assumptions and incorporate mathematical equations that correspond to study conditions leads to incorrect conclusions. The first row shows a standard representation of estimates of effects and confidence intervals. In many randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses, random effects equations (second row and Appendix A) are used to account for the impact of unobserved effects that result in random differences between study groups, but do not address systematic biases. Rows 3 through 8 in the table show six distinct types of errors in RCTs and meta-analyses of mask efficacy. Examples of how they appear in such studies are described in the text, including changes in variables, corrected equations for results (dashed rectangles) and consequences for conclusions. Conclusions revised based on these corrections are dramatically different from those drawn from individual studies and meta-analyses. The differences extend to estimates of effect size, confidence intervals, statistical significance, and the magnitude of benefit.”

Holy [family blog]!


“2% of kids and 7% of adults have gotten the new COVID shots, US data show” [Associated Press]. “One expert called the rates ‘abysmal.’ The numbers, presented Thursday at a meeting held by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, come from a national survey of thousands of Americans, conducted two weeks ago. The data also indicated that nearly 40% of adults said they probably or definitely will not get the shot. A similar percentage of parents said they did not plan to vaccinate their children. In the late summer, government health officials made the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign more like the annual flu campaign. Officials approved updated shots that have a single target, an omicron descendant named XBB.1.5. They replaced vaccines that targeted the original coronavirus strain and a much earlier omicron version. Last month, the CDC recommended the new shots for everyone 6 months and older.” • If you look at CDC’s variant chart (fresh today) you will see that XBB.1.5 barely registers; it’s last month’s news, or the month before that. I’m not a vax maven, and I would bet that the updated shot does apply to the new variants (to some degree), but what horrid failure in scientific comumunication this story is, if that’s true. Amidst the larger failure of 7% takeup. And yet there’s Mandy, swanning about the country unmasked, being photographed grinning at people. (NOTE: I would bet most people think of flu vaccines as nice-to-have, not have-to-have. I certainly do. So why CDC thought harnessing it’s Covid effort to the existing flu infratructure would do anything other than decrease uptake is beyond me.

“How to get the new COVID vaccine for free, with or without insurance” [CBS]. “Federal health authorities are urging Americans to reach out to their insurers after reports of some people encountering trouble getting their new COVID-19 vaccine shot for free. Those issues have arisen despite programs and requirements designed to make the shots available at no out-of-pocket cost for all Americans. The hurdles are new to this year’s commercial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer [but not, apparently, Novavax], which are now listed for more than $100 on the private market. Earlier during the pandemic, vaccines and boosters had all been paid for by the federal government.” A hundred bucks is cheap for a heart attack, so its hard to account for the uptake issues on that basis. More: “‘There have been a number of glitches with billing codes [and] shipping of vaccines,’ Dr. Céline Gounder, CBS News medical contributor and editor-at-large for public health at KFF Health News, said on ‘CBS Mornings’ Tuesday. Officials say this year’s hiccups in coverage of the shots should be temporary, as insurers and vaccinators work to iron out issues in the systems that handle billing for the shots.” • Of course! The billing codes! BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! The billing codes that shouldn’t even exist. We had a single payer system. Then we got rid of it. Then everything screwed up. Perhaps there’s a lesson here?


‘Tis a mystery!

No recent anecdata on Yankee Candles, however.

“Serotonin reduction in post-acute sequelae of viral infection” [Cell]. From the Abstract: “Several hypotheses have been formulated to explain the etiology of PASC, including viral persistence, chronic inflammation, hypercoagulability, and autonomic dysfunction. Here, we propose a mechanism that links all four hypotheses in a single pathway and provides actionable insights for therapeutic interventions. We find that PASC are associated with serotonin reduction. Viral infection and type I interferon-driven inflammation reduce serotonin through three mechanisms: diminished intestinal absorption of the serotonin precursor tryptophan; platelet hyperactivation and thrombocytopenia, which impacts serotonin storage; and enhanced MAO-mediated serotonin turnover. Peripheral serotonin reduction, in turn, impedes the activity of the vagus nerve and thereby impairs hippocampal responses and memory. These findings provide a possible explanation for neurocognitive symptoms associated with viral persistence in Long COVID, which may extend to other post-viral syndromes.”

“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.

Airborne AIDS:


For those whose memory of the AIDS crisis is better than mine, didn’t AIDS initially present as a [cough] “mild flu“? And didn’t AIDS also have epithelial effects?

* * *

Elite Maleficence

I’m glad to see 60 minutes focus on #CovidIsAirborne:

OTOH, the exoneration of WHO, CDC, the public health administration, and two Administrations is a little hard to take.

“How Soap Works: The Science Behind Handwashing” [Pfizer]. “While there’s still much we don’t understand about COVID-19, there’s one piece of advice that experts in the health care community agree on: washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways people can keep from getting sick, and from passing the virus to others.” • To be fair, here’s Pfizer on masks, though they won’t use the words “airborne” or “aerosol,” sticking to the obfuscatory ”

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Case Data

UPDATE Great news:

I’ll need to check out if their coverage has changed, but nevertheless, great news (in short supply, lately).

From BioBot wastewater data, October 27:

Regional data:


From CDC, October 28:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, with FL.1.15.1 and XBB. trailing. No BA.2.86 (although that has showed up in CDC’s airport testing). Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, October 14:

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, October 21:

Lambert here: Flattening? Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator until Verily gets its house in order (and working class-centric, since I would doubt the upper crust goes to the ER).

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 27:

Leveling at a high plateau (which previous peaks didn’t do). (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. October 14:

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 23:

0.7%. Slight increase. (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 21:

Lambert here: Slight increase. 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, October 9:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers:

Sudden big BA.2.86 appearance.


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: 1,180,376 – 1,180,288 = 88 (88 * 365 = 32,120 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 27:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

• Maybe I should junk this chart….

Stats Watch

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased by 0.3% from a month earlier in September 2023, following a 0.4% rise in August and slightly below market consensus of 0.4%.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 26 Fear (previous close: 25 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 26 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 27 at 1:45:02 PM ET.


“Maine Democrat calls for assault weapons ban after past opposition” [The Hill]. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine):

‘Out of fear of this dangerous world that we live in, in my determination to protect my own daughter and wife in our own community, because of a false confidence that our community was above this and that we could be in full control, among many other misjudgments, I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war, like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime,’ Golden said at a press conference Thursday.

“The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles, like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my hometown of Lewiston, Maine,” he continued. “For the good of my community, I will work with any colleague to get this done in the time that I have left in Congress.”

“To the people of Lewiston, my constituents throughout the 2nd District, to those who lost loved ones and to those who have been harmed, I ask for forgiveness and support as I seek to put an end to these terrible shootings,” he said.

“‘How Much Blood Is Your Fun Worth?'” [The Alantic]. “People own AR-15s because they think they’re sexy and cool and manly. Because they have barely any recoil and Army surplus ammo is cheap. Because their buddies have them, so why shouldn’t they? Because they are toys—the most dangerous toys in America, but toys nonetheless…. And if the past 24 hours have convinced me of anything, it is that the only way things are ever going to get better is if more gun owners start asking our friends the one question that matters: How much blood is your fun worth?”


“Half of US states had antiviral shortages in 2022-23 flu season” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “Over half of US state and territorial public health preparedness directors (PHPDs) surveyed said they experienced shortages of flu antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) during the 2022-23 respiratory virus season, forcing many to turn to national or state stockpiles…. ‘It is possible that local antiviral shortages were due to earlier and higher than expected influenza activity in the 2022-2023 influenza season compared with the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 influenza seasons, with consequent higher demand for oseltamivir,’ the study authors wrote, adding that the results highlight the need to monitor local and national antiviral supply distribution.” • I wonder why. ‘Tis a mystery!

News you can use:

Zeitgeist Watch

I meant to pair these two yesterday, but misplaced the second:

Yikes (1):

Yikes (2):

Once again:

I give up. Why can’t they?

But on a more optimistic note:

Class Warfare

“Mayan Seeds Against Feminist Monoculture” [Counterpunch]. “‘Feminist friends told me: Aura, you are a woman first and then you are Mayan. And we got entangled in those discussions that made no sense to me (…) Whoever is prioritizing a level of the struggle is speaking from one place, they are doing politics from one place and they are doing academia from one place. The people who are fighting because they are women are not being threatened with the threat that their people could be exterminated, that the river could be carried away, because they enjoy certain safe conditions that allow them to say ‘now I fight because I am a woman’, but that’s not the case for indigenous women and rural women.””

News of the Wired

“Grammar Changes How We See, an Australian Language Shows” [Scientific American]. “Field linguists, whose work brings them regularly into contact with the stunning diversity of the world’s languages, also have long doubted the idea that a person’s native language has no impact on their thought processes…. The studies Levinson described demonstrated a clear relation between the grammar of a participant’s language—specifically, the way words were ordered in it—and the way the person assessed a picture. For example, with a picture of a woman washing a child, English speakers, who perceived the woman as the subject, tended to look at the woman first…. Tseltal speakers did it differently. The grammar of Tseltal, spoken in Chiapas, Mexico, obliges speakers to produce a verb first. So when a group from Levinson’s laboratory used eye tracking to understand sentence planning and production in Tseltal, the researchers found that speakers viewed the woman and the child more evenly, looking back and forth between the two. Psycholinguists call this relational encoding… Murrinhpatha [has no word order]. In that initial window the Murrinhpatha speakers were looking evenly back and forth across both characters in the scene, getting a sense of the entire event. Then, once they had decided which word order they were going to use, they started to look primarily at the character they mentioned first. At that point a person who produced a sentence that started with, say, the woman instead of the child spent more time looking at the woman. If instead they produced a sentence that started with the child, they spent more time looking at the child. Essentially, Nordlinger explains, “what a speaker looked at first in a sustained way after the initial 400-millisecond window was the thing that they mentioned first.'” • Bordieu stans: I would file this under “habitus.” Yes?

“A Third of Chocolate Products Are High in Heavy Metals, CR’s Tests Find” [Consumer Reports]. “As expected, dark chocolates tended to have higher levels of heavy metals and milk chocolate lower. ‘But every product we tested had detectable amounts of lead and cadmium,’ says James E. Rogers, PhD, director and acting head of product safety testing at CR. ‘Sixteen of the 48 products had amounts above CR’s levels of concern for at least one of the heavy metals—in some cases more than twice our limit—but we did find safer options in each category of chocolate products.'”

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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 TH:

TH writes: “I’ve never had a camera that could duplicate the vibrancy of red well. I’d worry that it’s me doing something wrong, but I notice on tv shows that red jumps around when anyone is wearing it, so I think it’s more likely that wave length isn’t as easily contained as others. That never stops me from running up to a beautifully vibrant red rose though, so here’s yet another attempt gone afoul.”

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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. diptherio

    A friend went to get his Covid booster the other day and was told by they wouldn’t have any for at least three weeks. So if no one is getting them, why the delay for the people who want them?

    1. ambrit

      Is this consistent across the “vaccine” spectrum? I have read of areas that were limited to one or two of the “vaccines” ‘on offer.’ For instance, where are our nasal “vaccines?” Where are the Cuban “vaccines?”
      “Vaccine” is doing a LOT of heavy lifting here.

        1. mrsyk

          The ms and I were able to get the Novavax here in SW Vermont at the CVS last weekend. The trick is calling the pharmacy and asking for it, at least that worked for us. We were the first two doses they administered.

          1. marcyincny

            I also had to call the local CVS here in central NY and was told by the puzzled pharmacist that yes, we could have appointments for Novavax on Monday but was I sure I wanted it, they hadn’t administered it to anyone else. Oh the profound ignorance everywhere you turn…

        2. Jen

          If you are on twitter, the best resource for finding Novovax is @Friesein. Yes, it’s ridiculous that we are forced to rely on social media for this, but this is where we are. People are providing them with updates as the find out where it is being offered, and they are compiling by state.

          Meanwhile, the CDC, while offering Novovax as an option to search for, continues to inform me that it is not available within 100 miles. Having secured my jab at a Costco that is 86 miles away, I can assure you that is not the case. Might have been able to find something closer but I figured I could spend hours calling around, or just get in my car and go.

          There were a surprising number of people wearing N95s at Costco. The nurse who administered the vaccine was not among them. As I departed the jab room, I did hear the hiss of a spray can, and catch a whiff of lysol.

          No side effects. Not even a sore arm.

          1. Utah

            Novavax’s website is a good resource to find where one might find it. But that means one would have to already know it exists and made that decision to find it. Which… par for the course I guess?

        3. Amfortas the Hippie

          id hafta make a special trip…and get an appointment…and no sure thing, even then…60 miles one way to get a novovax.
          moderna is all thats available out here…if that.
          its a culling.

    2. chris

      I need one hour today calling pharmacies that vaccine.gov said had Novavax. They wouldn’t let me schedule an appointment for Novacax and their websites don’t let me request it. Very frustrating.

  2. ambrit

    I’m coming to the conclusion that one of the malefic outcomes of the Coronavirus 19 Pandemic is that, contrary to popular belief, it is not killing off enough of our Gerontocrats. Cognitive impairment? The Gerontocrats are already prone to that. As has been said ad nauseum; the coronavirus is spreading the good news of the Jackpot, but it is not evenly distributed.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      The coronavid forcefield matrix we all live in is driving the emergence and evolution of a popular grassroots counterculture in real time.

      We could call it the Covid Care Community culture or whatever we want to call it. But it is a spontaneously emerging and self-organizing and spreading group of grass-roots level individuals and groups creating a culture of covid resistance and avoidance and containment, in quiet opposition to and defiance of the government and the establishment working to spread covid everywhere to everyone deliberately on purpose. It could become a durable counterculture and if its members show less covid and less covidementia and less collateral covid-caused and covid-related diseases, including less cancers; then the CCC ( Covid Care Community) counterculture will have proven its Darwinian contribution to its members enhanced survival relative to people outside the CCC counterculture.

      Perhaps the CCC counterculture could inspire other sets of people with other sets of concerns to initiate and grow and evolve their own countercultures to meet those other sets of concerns. Perhaps those emerging countercultures, including the CCC counterculture, could even set up a ” Council of Countercultures” to begin doing a Long March through all the political and cultural and civic institutions to reconquer America for themselves and anyone who wishes to adopt their outlook and support-join their efforts.

      And leave their opponents and detractors out in the cold and the dark, Darwinianly speaking.

      1. i just don't like the gravy

        Yeah that’s great and all but the people with long Covid are in charges of the nukes

      2. albrt

        I’m not sure that lowering the national life expectancy to 58 helps us deal with gerontocrats who are already 80. If anything it just makes them less concerned about the future.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We could call it the Covid Care Community culture or whatever we want to call it. But it is a spontaneously emerging and self-organizing and spreading group of grass-roots level individuals and groups creating a culture of covid resistance and avoidance and containment, in quiet opposition to and defiance of the government and the establishment working to spread covid everywhere to everyone deliberately on purpose.

        I absolutely agree with this and would welcome links.

        1. Randall Flagg

          The Covid Care Community ( CCC, an updated version of the Civilian Conservation Corps), it seems to me to be happening right here before my very eyes on this site with everyone reporting on where they get their shots, how they’ve searched out shot locations, in the past with their own research and reporting it here, the steps they use to mitigate catching Covid. Yves, Lambert’s reporting and research, IM Doc.,the list is long…
          As many have mentioned, this site has been and is a beacon of intelligence on all things C-19, more care shown for each other than anything shown us by the TPTB.

    2. notabanker

      I’m thinking we are a few or more years away from understanding the full human health impact of the pangolin bat virus that was, in a tragic case of serendipity, somehow transported to a wet market blocks away from the Wuhan Virus lab where these things are carefully studied under world class security precautions. We should all be thankful that Gates, the spooks and Stanford held a tabletop exercise on this very scenario just two months before the outbreak, or we would really be scrambling to try to figure out how to contain this thing.

      I feel fortunate that I just booked a cruise (they are incredibly cheap at the last minute these days) and with the savings I can spring for my 6th dna modifying booster. Now I can really party like it’s 1999. Now if I could just shake this damn head cold……

  3. lyman alpha blob

    RE: 55 Things You Need to Know About Dean Phillips

    Is being a bullsh**ter one of them?* Because going by the quote in the NBC piece above the Politico one, he most certainly is. Because this –

    ‘As a Democrat, I adore Joe Biden. He saved this country. He can cement his legacy,’

    – is just nonsense. I can see all the homeless encampments growing by the day, the opioid deaths are still happening, and currently there is a real crazy person running around my state with an assault rifle nobody has seen fit to ban, to name just a few off the top of my head. And even if Phillips is of the mistaken belief that Ukraine or Israel are parts of “our” country, they look pretty well damaged right now too.

    If this guy wanted my vote, he’d be telling us what a disaster Biden has been, which would actually be the truth. Pandering instead to the TDS-infected will only make me sit this one out.

    * I did scan the Politico piece and it seemed to be merely a bunch of puffery. Maybe try including some policy positions in the top ten rather than telling us his likes/dislikes and who he looks like. We aren’t all of us still in the 3rd grade.

    1. nippersdad

      “If this guy wanted my vote, he’d be telling us what a disaster Biden has been,…”

      But you are not his target market! He is speaking to the superdelegates that he has likely already lined up a representative sample of for when Biden falls down the stairs again and takes Kamala with him. He IS Biden, only a hundred and ten years younger. I think Lambert is spot on when he says he is “Betting, it would seem, on Biden’s medical status.” Such things can be arranged.

      This guy appears to be in on it, himself, when he doth protest too much:


      I’m sorry, but that that just read to me like a PR stunt to get him into the spotlight before it becomes a requirement.

      The Dean candidacy will be pointless until it isn’t. This guy was lab grown in the bowels of the DNC for nothing to essentially change. And that is all they are interested in.

    2. pjay

      C’mon now lyman. Politico did include some policy positions, though granted they were further down on the list after “one of the luckiest guys in the world.” For example:

      #28: In his first campaign, he presented himself as a “fiscally responsible, socially inclusive” moderate focused on bipartisanship and pragmatic governance…

      #29: He also pitched his business acumen as a major selling point for voters: “I’d like to bring some of the business principles, the fiscal responsibility that I appreciate in the Republican Party, to Democrats,” he said.

      #32: The first caucus he joined upon taking office was the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of business-friendly centrists that isn’t actually known for solving problems. He now serves as the caucus’ vice-chair.

      #39: Georgetown University’s Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy ranked him the 13th most bipartisan member of the House during the 117th Congress…

      So he is just what we need to “unite” this country and “solve its problems” in a “bipartisan” manner: another “moderate, fiscally responsible” corporate Democrat with “business acumen.” What’s not to like for the Big Money folks? But just in case anyone needs reassuring, there’s this:

      #45: He has voted with Biden’s stated policy positions 100 percent of the time.

      A young Biden! I’m sold. Finally we can let ol’ Joe retire for a much-deserved rest. And he is apparently *not* a billionaire – just a mere multi-millionaire. So there’s that, too. He can relate to the common folks.

        1. JBird4049

          Hasn’t release of debt been labeled as communism? Isn’t much like how homelessness and child poverty is supposedly good economics by preventing mooching or something?

  4. Laura in So Cal

    Re: Heavy Metals in Chocolate

    I’m glad I read the article because it was slightly less alarming than the headline. I’m not going to stop eating chocolate, but this might help me not to overindulge which I don’t need to do anyway.

    Sigh…chocolate is one of my small and relatively inexpensive pleasures. It sure does suck to have it tainted.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      When time permits, I will read the article. One of the things I will look for is whether the article says anything about how the lead and the cadmium get into the chocolate to begin with. Because that is something very much worth knowing.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      “Prayer in school”? Hadn’t heard that one in a long time but it made me pause. Which is potentially more offensive: prayers led by teachers or elementary education teachers leading discussions of sex education books? [And how on earth did neolibz manage to inject sex education into grade schools when they still can’t get every school district to teach high school biology properly?]

      Johnson’s talk about helping Ukraine was in the context of stripping Ukraine out of any Israel funding bill. Win/lose but it was lose/lose before McCarthy got dumped.

      He’ll tick me off on many issues but I suspect I’m going to really like Speaker Johnson. At the very least, everyone will know where he stands. I’m dreaming I know, but I like to think he might expel Hakeem Jeffries for that fire alarm stunt. Now that the new footage has been released, it’s impossible not to see it as a deliberate crime committed for the purpose of disrupting a vote in progress. By J6 rules he should get 20 years to life.

      1. nippersdad

        Not a huge fan of Jordan, but I was eagerly awaiting the impeachment process and how it would affect those who have protected Biden. Johnson getting the gavel puts that back on the agenda, and I will be grateful for that.

        Anyone who delegitimizes the establishment Democratic party may not get my vote, but they will certainly have my support.

      2. Pat

        Unless they have video of Jeffries directing Jamaal Bowman to pull the alarm, you are out of luck.
        I admit I am still pissed that Bowman was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor about this last week. There was certainly far more criminal intent than most of the rioters on January 6, but you know deplorable and all.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Um, I really have no defense for mixing up Bowman and Jeffries so I’ll blame the Compound Z (my go-to excuse until the bag runs out).

          1. Pat

            It’s fine. I’m not so sure Jeffries wasn’t trying to get people to think of something. But since Jamaal is from uptown of me the incredibly entitled and tone deaf action plus the stupid excuse resonated with me and I kept it straight.
            (And I’d like most of them thrown out.)

          2. ambrit

            I knew it was in there somewhere. Our Gerontocrat Legislature is upheld and empowered by Zombis Dust. I just knew it.

            1. Mark Gisleson

              Not quite Zombis Dust but: “Compound Z is a hybrid weed strain made from a genetic cross between Apples & Bananas and White Runtz… It is one of the most trichome heavy strains on the market, and often looks like it has just been sprayed with crystals. It is a potent and balanced strain that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.”

              I must confess that I have no clue what criteris is used to qualify for any time of the day but the rest of the description was classic AI with every other sentence starting with “Compound Z is” and the word ‘strain’ appearing with bizarre frequency.

              Not recommending it, but I do yell at the screen 43% less often while reading the news when going with Compound Z as opposed to a more sativa heavy strain.

              1. ambrit

                I prefer old fashioned Ouahaca for those “time to unwind” end of days times. And I swear the “news” is looking more and more like an episode of “Kafka Theatre.” Full contact ‘attitude adjustment’ is almost required to “experience” the “news” today.
                I do remember some strains from back in the day that would render the user akin to a Zombis.
                Stay safe as you wanna be!

      3. Utah

        As an atheist teacher I wouldn’t even know where to begin with prayer in school, especially in a state dominated by one religion. Which prayers do we do? Which god do we pray to? I have Jewish kids and Muslim kids and Catholic kids and a whole slew of Mormon (church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, as they prefer it) kids. Can I pray to Zeus? What about Aphrodite? Does it have to be a judeo- based god?

        Sometimes I wonder what I’m willing to lose my license for. This would probably be one of those things. Also, teaching high school biology is ridiculous with the amount of nonsense standards states come up with. I’m not sure scientists are included when they come up with curricular goals.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > As an atheist teacher I wouldn’t even know where to begin with prayer in school

          Does the Bible use the term “front hole”? No? Case closed. Or maybe not!

          1. ambrit

            “Does the Bible use the term “front hole”?” Maybe not, but I have seen the term “font hole” used to describe those who wish not to be typecast. /s
            “Dude, she’ll just love the new Soyaburger!”
            “No way my man. She’s a classic fonthole.”
            “Oh man! That’s like so not right!”
            “You didn’t see her when she wore the t-shirt.”
            “What? I guess not.”
            “Yeah, it said “Does not play well with others.” in hand painted cursive italic.”
            “Oh man! All the news that’s fit to script!”
            “You been reading the Paper of Record again? Shame!”
            “Shut up you and pass me that attitude adjustment unit.”

  5. Marcus

    At a conservative political meeting the other night.
    The obligatory question: “Do support Israel?”

    My turn came.
    “I support Israel, and I support Palestine. Y’all are free to write a check to whomever you want. Our tax dollars should be spent on Americans, our military belongs at our border, not theirs.”

    1. notabanker

      I’ve never been more embarrassed and ashamed of being an American. And this is likely as good as it will get in the remainder of my lifetime.

  6. JBird4049

    >>>“The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles, like the one used by the sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my hometown of Lewiston, Maine,” he continued. “For the good of my community, I will work with any colleague to get this done in the time that I have left in Congress.”

    Really, when compared to all the other horrors going on, this is really, really, really, small stuff, but I thought “assault rifles” were banned, which would mean that he is calling for a ban on something that is already banned? Wouldn’t this make just political bullbleep? Unless he wants to ban semi automatic guns rifles, which are most of them these days of any calibre. Or am I losing the plot here? That is certainly possible.

    1. flora

      Yep, actual assault rifles, automatic fire rifles are already banned. Either the guy doesn’t know this, doesn’t know what it means, or he’s a tool.

      Where is he on free speech and the sensor ship industrial complex I wonder. Seriously. Is he all in on silencing voices he doesn’t approve of? (I’m guessing the answer is ‘yes'[.

    2. ambrit

      He obviously doesn’t know how “good” a shooter can get with a bolt action rifle if he or she takes the time to practice.
      Someone elsewhere suggested that any ban on automatic weapons include the police.
      I know that’ll never happen. At least we will still have IEDs.

    3. aletheia33

      my impression is, whether he’s reading the signs on the ground in his district right or not, he’s just chasing his reelection.
      or maybe chasing a bigger opportunity.
      “i will work with any colleague to get this done”–what does that actually mean?
      not much IMO.

  7. DG

    I just returned from checking at three local CVS pharmacies. As directed by Novavax I went to vaccines.gov to get a location for getting a Novavax Covid vaccine. I was directed to only CVS pharmacies. The site said they had it in stock. When I tried to register on line I was told I was scheduling for a Moderna vaccine and if I wanted Novavax I had to contact my pharmacist. Encounter phone tree. Hours wasted.

    When I got to the pharmacy, their computers showed they had Novavax….but they did not. They had no idea where it was or when they would get it.

    Fortunately all my other slices of Swiss cheese are in place and operating.

    BTW, when I checked on vaccines.gov for Moderna vaccines, just to see how the webpage operated, my only choices were Publix grocery store pharmacies. The webpage must work like Google search.

  8. nippersdad

    “….one can predict with confidence that Republicans would not be on track to keep the White House in 2024. And a younger, more energetic Democrat than Joe Biden would be lined up to crush Mike Pence that November. Instead, Biden is president, and the Democrats are facing a grim 2024.” • Plausible, or cope?

    I would say that that was an extremely plausible point to make insofar as the Sanders crowd was making that argument in ’20. They forced Hillary on us and we got Trump. If they tried to force Biden on us they would get an even worse Trump. That Trump is now the “even worse” option can be laid at the feet of a Democratic party that went out of its’ way to keep him in the news with all of their RussiaGating and lawfare. They just never seem to learn that after all of their efforts to Pied Piper him, their efforts to deplatform him are similarly ill advised.

    He is a showman, and now that we no longer have Barnum and Bailey around this is the Greatest Show on Earth. It, too, is clearly replete with clowns.

    1. ChrisPacific

      The ‘younger, more energetic Democrat’ thing seems to be predicated on the assumption that the party gerontocracy would be willing to hand the reins to a younger candidate who had their own opinions on policy and wasn’t just a party mouthpiece.

      And I think the clear message to the Sanders camp from the party in the 2020 primaries was: if it comes down to Sanders vs. Trump, we’re backing Trump.

  9. pjay

    “Trump leads Biden among ‘double-haters’ in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin: poll” [New York Post].

    “Double-haters”? That seems like a pretty negative label for people who are demonstrating the only sane and rational response to our current political farce. Maybe we can come up with a more positive term that reflects their sound judgment.

    1. griffen

      Find myself increasingly in the above categorically despising either option. Trump is a walking talking self centered business person, and the other is a lifetime politician who was subservient to his MBNA / finance masters in Delaware. And Biden maybe hard to pin down individually on any risible levels of corruption, but an awful lot of effort went into concealing information and payments rendered. Just saying the family business model is different than say, Mittens Romney earning income through a trust in the Cayman Islands.

      Let’s go Brandon, and I don’t mean Dark Brandon either. If a third option becomes viable then maybe there’s a chance for something ( at this moment anything ) incrementally, less despicable. Fourth option is the Antichrist maybe.

    2. aletheia33

      ’tis a mystery.

      percentages of the “voting eligible population” who have turned out to vote for president since 1992:
      1992 58.2%
      1996 51.7%
      2000 54.3%
      2004 60.1%
      2008 62.5%
      2012 58.0%
      2016 59.2%
      2020 66.9%

      one can only scratch one’s head and wonder,
      “why do they hate us?”
      “what’s wrong with them that they can’t make it to the polls?”
      “why isn’t the marketing working?”
      and keep on wondering in this bewildered manner
      for a few minutes on election night
      before turning one’s attention back to one’s most urgent, service-oriented priorities
      in service of whom it is unnecessary to name here at NC.


  10. Rick

    Yes, HIV infection presented (and still does) as at most a flu like malaise. The bad stuff typically doesn’t come for several years. Similar deal with syphilis – it can be asymptomatic for years but is even harder than AIDS to treat. Tuberculosis as well.

    Best not to get any of them (SARS, HIV, tuberculosis, or syphilis). Three of the four have active public health programs to prevent infection and provide treatment.

    1. marcyincny

      I have tried to make this point with a number of people with a certain amount of success, that many life threatening diseases first present with flu-like symptoms only to lie dormant for years before showing the full horror of the virus, bacteria, parasite…
      ‘Flu-like’ does NOT mean ‘like the flu’…

  11. Jason Boxman

    “2% of kids and 7% of adults have gotten the new COVID shots, US data show”

    The annual flu shot is as useless as the now “annual” COVID shots. What we’ve seen from 2020 is that we can eliminate the flu with universal masking and improved ventilation; Annual non-sterilizing shots for the flu has always been an exercise in individual risk assessment, a complete abdication of public health, but the public health crowd (they cannot be considered experts or professionals, except at ignoring evidence and promulgating deadly advice) that has intentionally rejected that respiratory viruses are transmitted via the air, and thus are airborne.

    And this is before getting to the FDA playing hide the ball with the data about the COVID shots; Why should anyone trust these things? I guess they thing adults lack object permanence, oh, what data? Safe and effective!! And given the lack of the level of support providing during the initial rollout of the shots, why would anyone in public health expect some other result with a market-based approach to an annual COVID shot campaign?

    These people are worthless.

  12. antidlc

    RE: 60 Minutes

    “To curb infection, we should have focused on indoor air systems.”

    To curb infection we should focus on indoor air systems.

    There, fixed it for you.

    1. The Rev Kev

      They could have – but then they would have had to invest in redesigning buildings taking into account air ventilation and retrofitting older buildings too. Better – and cheaper – to just tell people to take personal responsibility by washing their hands instead. If they still get sick, it is all their fault.

  13. Pat

    I’m going to be really curious to watch Kristen Gillibrand’s re-election campaign over the next year. Gillibrand is the first statewide candidate for DC since the Democratic party’s wheels started coming off the bus here in NY.
    First will she be primaried?
    Second will the Republicans field a credible candidate?
    Third will things deteriorate badly on the Middle Eastern front enough that anyone running against her could be also anti Ukrainian and anti Israeli support as well as opposed to open borders

    The migrants and Biden’s cratering support here might affect her, but it will be war and American support that will save her or throw her out. Right now NY is majority pro Israel. See the video above and the numbers for NYC. But, and I think this is a big but, I don’t think the majority of NYC area denizens really want to see their kids recruited to fight for Israel or having to deeply tighten their belts to pay for it. Especially as the stories keep falling apart. Escalating hostilities into the middle of next year will wear support down. It may not be obvious in the April primary but how the natural Zeitgeist is penetrating a deeply imbedded and bubbled electorate will be on view throughout the entire election season.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > would I like to know the whole story on this

        I agree. Makes me wonder if Biobot had really good relationships with the wastewater plants, and the Verily people, being Silicon Valley boors, couldn’t create them. I mean, how many weeks has it been, and the brain geniuses in Veriliy’s IT haven’t been able to put together a dashboard?

  14. jo6pac

    So this new speaker of the house is only to steps away from being potus. He makes trumpster and biden look real good about now. That’s not a good thing.

      1. Pat

        Some part of me wonders if there are any non brain damaged Democratic House members who are now regretting not throwing Kevin a vote. I mean the well being of the country versus party loyalty and the stupid notion that shutting down the government would get Jeffries the Speaker seat ended up getting them a super conservative who will be on the right side of Israel but will be a nightmare otherwise.
        Bright spot maybe, I think the odds of Biden getting impeached, and with evidence, just sky rocketed.
        Where are the popcorn futures!?!

      2. JBird4049

        >>>That’s a polling question from hell!

        Is this because we would all likely be in the afterlife if either of them became President?

  15. Pelham

    “People own AR-15s because they think they’re sexy and cool and manly …” and then more along these lines. This doesn’t strike me as a particularly well thought out argument to persuade people that maybe they shouldn’t own such weapons. It falls into the same category as Hillary’s rant about irredeemable deplorables and Obama’s Bible and gun clingers.

    Granted, there are truly awful reasons to own and wield an AR-15. But it’s also a mechanically fascinating, uniquely clever weapon with a storied history of development that’s fun to shoot, if that’s the sort of thing that floats one’s boat. And it is for a lot of law-abiding Americans who don’t need to justify their hobby to an Atlantic writer.

    1. Roland

      AR is a pretty good gun. Light, accurate, reliable, modular, affordable. Many types of ammunition are available, for a variety of applications.

      Every household in America should have one. Every adult citizen should know to operate and maintain them.

      I think that it is ludicrous that the entire people should be threatened with the loss of civil rights because of a few criminals.

      But the politicians who hate the US constitution never let an opportunity go to waste.

      In 2001 you lost a bunch of civil rights, and you’ve lost more since. You got to draw the line!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I think that it is ludicrous that the entire people should be threatened with the loss of civil rights because of a few criminals.

        Gun ownership is only a “civil right” because a gaggle of self-appointed (Bush v. Gore) reactionaries, supposedly expert in textualism and close reading, couldn’t — or wilfully didn’t — understand how a gerund works.

        Of course, society could be so decayed that normalizing weapons of war everywhere is a given. In that case, we should be encouraging Black Dad gun ownership groups, as well as the Socialist Rifle Association. Why not?

        1. SG

          It’s a nominative absolute. Like the ablative absolute in Latin or the locative absolute in Sanskrit, it may express either “causation” or “attendant circumstance”. As a result, it’s not immediately clear whether the original intention is to prevent the Federal government from disarming state militias (as you’ve asserted) or to allow near-universal ownership of weapons because ordinary citizens may need them to form a militia (as others contend). You could make a good faith (and grammatically correct!) argument for either.

          However, I find it difficult to imagine that the any of the Founders (elitist white males that they were) would have thought there was anything wrong with restricting access to weapons by the habitually violent or mentally unbalanced. Being elitist white males, they’d probably add the “lower orders” (i.e., indigenous, non-free, non-male, or non-propertied) to that restriction as well, even though the language of the amendment would apparently allow no such limitations. That is, of course, pure speculation on my part.

          I suppose the crux of the issue is whether the norms that applied in an 18th Century largely agrarian society should be accepted without question in a 21st Century society with vastly more destructive weapons technology.

      2. weird bats on halloween

        i gotta know, do you think people just sort of have one Permanent Vote for the right of their choosing, which they may martyr themselves for at any time? because that is what “guns protect rights” actually means.

        what freaks like you fantasize about is somehow a coming together, a militia-like congregation of nuts who will act together to protect a particular right. and there is precedent for this; it is the NRA. but any action outside of that seems to founder on its own premises. what happens when you and wilkins, who only has THREE AR-15s, disagree about how best to pursue the next right you mean to protect? how are you solving that conflict?

        and if you think you can manage that one without killing someone, why cant you use the same method to protect your rights without killing someone? do you honestly think the threat of individual violence is impressive to some otherwise omnipotent, faceless government force?

        do you simply think its easier and more fun, but no less effective, to own guns instead of going to town council meetings or running for the school board yourself? a sort of retail-based end-run around the tedious but necessary work of actual political participation?

        1. ambrit

          Alas, retail politics has been shown to be a wholly owned subsidiary of “Oligarchs-R-US.”
          Tell me how well “grassroots” politics has worked for you after the radioactive fallout settles down.
          America was created out of a revolution. It can be re-created the same way. We may not like the outcome, but change is inevitable. So, perhaps regionalism is the optimal end point of your idea? I’m not going to belittle the idea. It is about as good as the alternatives I see lurking just below the surface of the society-individual interface.
          I know not whether or not it is correct, but a lot of the gunned up people I meet seriously fear that someone else wishes to do them harm. That “someone else” ranges from the street thug on up to the national government. Looking around us, can you say that some of those fears are not valid?
          Stay safe.

          1. weird bats on halloween

            i have experienced theft, and ive had loaded guns pointed at me with intent to hurt or kill. i have taken an NRA-administrated shooting course and am authorized to conceal carry in a state where authorization is needed. i say all of this as my bonas fides for discussing the Real Threats Out There.

            the things that are primary threats to my life and liberty, and to most Americans’ lives and liberties, are illness and lack of money. even being mugged would not matter if i had enough money to cover it; if the mugger had enough money, they wouldn’t be mugging me, either. i will not decide that my personal safety requires carrying a gun out on the streets in this ostensibly first world country, because carrying a gun doesnt help with these problems unless i want to use it on people just like me.

            i will decide and act on my decision that everyone around me needs protection from lack of money and from illness. that involves being an active member of my community, including community building, political participation including but not limited to voting, working for entities who further these protections, and refusing to act in any way that aids the guys who are stealing from all of us and who are well-guarded from armed violence.

            ill stay safe, and ill keep your caviling, gun-excusing ass safe too. consider joining me!

            1. ambrit

              We have some experiences in common. I have had loaded guns pointed at me for the purposes of “reverse rent extraction.” Unlike you, I live in an “open carry” state. However, I note that ‘open carry’ can end up as an invitation to a gun fight.
              From my personal observations of “retail politics,” I’ll note that I have become cynical about said subject from sad experience.
              I fully agree with you about the root causes of most of the violence in our society today. However, that coupled with my jaundiced view of “retail politics,’ (Motto: The Fix is In,) leads me to note that the system itself is the problem. Unfettered Capitalism drives all the factors creating the want and misery at the present time.
              To the above, I ask how many ruling elites you know of who have voluntarily given up power? Cincinnatus is a culture hero of the West precisely because he is the exception to the rule.
              A new social organizing principle is needed, and it’s emergence won’t be pretty to watch.
              Acrimony aside, do keep yourself and those close to you safe. A healthy society depends on many points of view being available, viable, and protected from harm.

              1. weird bats on halloween

                ruling elites voluntarily give up power all the time. the US govt is engrossed in a decades long project to donate their regulatory and oversight powers to private capital, along with a more than incidental degree of self-defense and foreign policy. if you include as “voluntary” anything short of “at gunpoint” you can spend years learning about mergers and acquisitions, the primary form of american power transfer without a direct body count. if you dont mind a minor bit of corpse, probate and trust is another form of voluntary power transfer. and every two, four, or six years, our elites expose themselves to at least the threat of replacement by another power.

                not all of these forms of power are equally accessible, but all of them are voluntary, and guns do nothing for their clockworks nor to expand access to them. it is ridiculous for the average gun-american to look at this constant flow of power moving around and just declare that none of it works for them, so none of it works at all. then, to top it all off, they climb right into the swamp of power transfers they just swore was ineffective in order to back the NRA, which is a lobbying group!

                the necessary social organizing principle already exists, its just boring. you have to sit in the dull little conference rooms. you have to lick the spittle of silly little tyrants. if you dont have capital, you still have time and effort. are they equivalent? no, but this is not a little because the guys with capital keep changing the rules while the guys who need to rely on time and effort are instead…. buying guns.

                there are people at all ages who prefer the exciting idea of big changes done by someone else to the ordinary work of writing out the meeting minutes and arguing with kent and stephanie about parking assignments. when they are children, we call such people “childish.” when they are adults, for some reason, we invent such a deference to their opinions!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a mechanically fascinating, uniquely clever weapon with a storied history of development that’s fun to shoot

      The writer asked a question: “How much blood is your fun worth?” I don’t hear an answer. And I don’t think it’s a matter of justifying yourself to the Atlantic writer, but to yourself.

      NOTE “Mechanically fascinating, uniquely clever… with a storied history of development” could also be said of medieval torture instruments, no?

  16. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. attorney says probe of Biden-Ukraine ties, $10M bribe hamstrung by DOJ, FBI”

    Easiest way to understand what is going on is getting a piece of paper and listing all those charges. Then next to each charge, write in when the statute of limitations runs out on each of them. Then reorganize that list chronologically by how soon that charge has the clock run out on them. The joker in the pack is when Biden, just before leaving office, writes himself a pardon for the remainder of the charges.

  17. Camelotkidd

    I like how they’re admitting on 60 Minutes that Covid is airborne
    This why NC is always my first stop
    Much love to Yves and Lambert and the rest of the amazing writers
    The powerful antidote to corporate media

  18. Amfortas the Hippie

    sittin here, in a chair next to the bar, watching a zillion dragonflies swoop and cavort, and do their thing above me
    (i maintain habitats for them..favorite bug)
    and while im sittin there, a storm erupts out of the water vapor overhead, just to my north…
    i repair to the radar, and its heading away from me, to the north…associated with the sort of pre-front thats coming down….in anticipation of the real front thats coming mid-day sunday…85, down to 35…
    i want to shout at my dragonfly friends…”yer all gon die sunday..”…
    but they already know that, and go about their business anyway.

    tomorrow is my late wife’s birthday.
    Tammi would have been 50 years old, manana.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      i’m reminded of when i proposed.
      i had my mom’s engagement ring, but my first wife(a stray) had lost the dern diamond…but its still gold, right?
      so i’m on my knees, asking the question.
      she says, “where’s the rock?”

      so out the door i go…”wait right there…”…
      and get a chunk of quartz that is out there in the yard(we’re in quartz country)…and i take a hammer to it,,,
      come back in and get on my knees again, with a bit of superglue, and attach a lil quartz nugget into the damned ring.
      this is, apparently a big freaking deal…and oh so romantic…
      she went on and on.
      way before iphones, thankfully.

        1. ambrit

          It took me a couple of years to lose my original weding ring. A horse in a lay up farm for race horses leaned over his stall and snuffled it up off of the table I had put it on, with my mechanical watch and wallet. (Washing a high strung horse is a full immersion experience.) The critter ate the ring and tried the wallet, but spit that back. The watch suffered not.
          Lesson to be learned; leave nothing that you want to keep, within the reach of any animal.
          In construction, it is often dangerous to wear jewelry while working. Rings can snag on nails, splinters, and moving machinery, sometimes taking a finger with it. Chains are especially dangerous. Snag a neck chain on a moving anything and you could be a goner.
          Here’s a toast to the departed.
          Stay safe, sane, sensible.

          1. griffen

            Inquiring minds wish to inquire…did the horse process in full the ring just in case you really wanted the ring back? I do not imagine that equine intestinal processing would do any wonders for that. You should have said to the horse…”the ring is mine….my precious…” ( in a growling Gollum like tone if you can muster it ).

            Yes to a toast and remembrance for the departed. Bit early on the east coast for a draft beverage yet.

      1. The Rev Kev

        “Where’s the rock?” Heh, heh. She sounds like she was one of the good ones and will stay dismembered.

    2. AndrewJ

      From here in the PNW, where fall is putting a blanket over everything, I enjoy your glimpses of life from the wilderness bar in your redoubt. Happy birthday to your wife, as she lives on in you and your boys.

  19. nippersdad

    It looks like Michigan is a goner for Biden. Apparently Muslim activists and pols are floating a plan for still voting Democratic but leaving the top space open as a protest vote. That sounds like something that could go viral for other constituencies that are lagging in the pols as well.


    1. The Rev Kev

      You are getting the same trend here in Oz where the Muslims here are writing off the sitting party because of their stance on what is happening in the middle east. Some seats the Labour party can forget in the next Federal election which previously would have been strong supporters of them. You wonder how this is playing in other countries that have large Muslims populations such as Germany and the UK.

        1. The Rev Kev

          This really does have the potential to blow up the electoral maps across all the countries that are giving total support for Israel without calling for a cease fire. And what the hell is France going to do when they have their next elections? Ban Muslim voters? A coupla counties have called a ban on Palestinian demonstrations only for it to be ignored. And it is just not Palestinians and Muslims turning up at those protests either. Here I was thinking that the NATO-Ukraine war radically altered the geopolitical map. This has the potential to really tear things up.

          1. tegnost

            Think expensive upholstery, 90 F degree plus weather, a rambunctious…I think they identify as precocious nowadays, 2 year old who likes finger painting, and a giant box full of hershey bars…

          2. vao

            Most muslim voters in France belong to the poor segments of the population, and many are to be found in those infamous suburbs prone to episodic, but spectacular riots. Successive French governments alienated that population long, long ago. And since political parties either do not care about them at all, or have programmes that do not appeal to them, those muslims do not vote. It is that simple.

            What happens to the middle-class muslim French might be interesting, but I suspect their class and political loyalties ultimately trump their solidarity with Palestine. All the more so since the vast majority of them have their origins in the Berber/Kabyl populations of North Africa, or in sub-saharian Africa — i.e. none are Arabs.

      1. caucus99percenter

        Right-wing populists in Germany and the Netherlands have always argued that for society to welcome Muslim immigrants en masse was to import the same unsolvable social problems and conflicts the latter claim they wished to leave behind.

        Suddenly the left, centrist, and Green mainstream — who would ban the right-wing opposition outright if they could, and in the case of the German AfD may yet succeed in doing so — are astonished and simply appalled at the discovery that the millions of Muslims they insisted would be malleable and manageable (Merkel: “Wir schaffen das”) are fervent in their support of, and identification with, Palestine.

        The paradoxical situation arises where that part of the mainstream that right-wingers scornfully call the “refugee industrial complex” — politicians, government agencies, and institutions such as churches, labor unions, and NGOs, all of whom not infrequently argue that even violently criminal migrants should not be deported because their actions stem from trauma, discrimination, or mental illness — seems to have suddenly swung around 180 degrees now that the focus is on Israel and Palestine.

        The most indignant among the establishment figures go so far as to demand that anyone engaging in any form of pro-Palestine activism be treated as an antisemite and backer of terrorists, deserving instant deportation. Unlike even violently criminal migrants who are often presented as nevertheless worthy of understanding and sympathy, to be pro-Palestine is to be against postwar Germany’s quasi-constitutional affirmation that loyalty to Israel is a sacred duty.

        As ever, diversity (earlier: “multiculturalism”, “pluralism”, “tolerance”, etc.) is all very well until it’s the wrong ox being gored.

        1. The Rev Kev

          There was a hint of the possibility that people from Muslim or conservatives countries would not toe the line here in Oz back in ’17 when it came to important matters. They had a postal vote to legalize gay marriage or not and it was passed by a majority. But there was an unexpected spanner in the works. Governments bring in migrants wholesale and for Labour, they can be counted on to be mostly supporters of their party. Like with migrants and the Democrat party in the US. Not this time. Those that came from Muslim or conservative countries came out and voted no on this matter because of their beliefs which pundits did not expect that and I think that it spooked them that their supporters would not always toe the party line-


  20. marym

    This (caps in original) is the current pinned tweet. Currently followed by several tweets with additional photos and video, including arrests.

    Jewish Voice for Peace @jvplive 6:22 PM · Oct 27, 2023


    1. Pat

      Good on them. At least they won’t be called anti-Semitic to their faces (I wouldn’t be so sure about behind their backs.) only delusional, misinformed and naive.
      Unfortunately I’m pretty sure that this will be falling on deaf ears among those who might be able to do something, especially the Jewish members of the NY Congressional delegation. They’re too busy lining up military funding and talking about “fighting” for humanitarian aid. Like the one truck of the twenty that was allowed through before both Houses overwhelmingly voted their undying support for a country actively pursuing genocide in every American’s name.

      1. vao

        they won’t be called anti-Semitic to their faces

        The epithet “self-hating Jew” has been a thing for a long time..

  21. Wukchumni

    The biblical account states that Samson was a Nazirite, and that he was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies and allow him to perform superhuman feats, including slaying a lion with his bare hands and massacring an entire army of Philistines using only the jawbone of an ass. However, if Samson’s long hair were cut, then his Nazirite vow would be violated and he would lose his strength. (Wiki)

    Samson Bankman-Fried showed up in court newly shorn short, hmmmm.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’t forget that SBK’s testimony has the potential to bring down the whole temple, errr, political system if they let him talk about all that money laundering that he did for both parties.

    2. ambrit

      Funny how Samson sounds exactly like the Greek Hero Hercules, isn’t it. Except for the long hair thing, the stories are pretty close. Both sound like culture heroes.

  22. cousinAdam

    Deep gratitude for the link to “Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” by X. That album lived in my car’s cassette deck in the early 80’s and that track always got turned up to “11”. My band did a fairly credible cover of “Make the Music Go Bang”. Great album (sigh) – very encouraging to learn that they’re still gigging (with the original lineup!). Wotta band – highly recommended!

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