2:00PM Water Cooler 12/20/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Kind readers, thanks so much for all your help on my query yesteday. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Stone Partridge, PN du Niokolo-Koba–Campement du Lion, Tambacounda, Senegal. “Two types of calls can be heard, the r-weet..r weet in the beggining and tiuu tiuu in the end. Editing: High-pass filter, some amplification.”

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“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

For reference, here is Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States:

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Also for reference, “The Sweep and Force of Section Three” (PDF) [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. • This is the paper, from Federalist Society members, note well, that lit the fuse..

* * *

“Colorado Supreme Court declares Donald Trump is ineligible for the White House” [Associated Press]. “A divided Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday declared former President Donald Trump ineligible for the White House under the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause and removed him from the state’s presidential primary ballot, setting up a likely showdown in the nation’s highest court to decide whether the front-runner for the GOP nomination can remain in the race…. The court stayed its decision until Jan. 4, or until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the case. Colorado officials say the issue must be settled by Jan. 5, the deadline for the state to print its presidential primary ballots…. Trump’s attorneys had promised to appeal any disqualification immediately to the nation’s highest court, which has the final say about constitutional matters…. Trump lost Colorado by 13 percentage points in 2020 and doesn’t need the state to win next year’s presidential election. But the danger for the former president is that more courts and election officials will follow Colorado’s lead and exclude Trump from must-win states.” • Here is the opinion–

“Supreme Court Case No. 23SA300 Appeal Pursuant to § 1-1-113(3), C.R.S. (2023) District Court, City and County of Denver, Case No. 23CV32577 Honorable Sarah B. Wallace, Judge” (PDF) [The Supreme Court of the State of Colorado]. • Footnote 2 raises an interesting point:

“Colorado Supreme Court” [BallotPedia]. “As of August 2021, all seven judges on the court were appointed by Democratic governors.” • The last appointment was in 2021.

“Colorado Supreme Court Rules Trump is Ineligible for the Presidency Under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment” [Reason]. “The 4-3 vote is not as close as it looks. Two of the three dissenting justices did so on the ground that Colorado state election law doesn’t give the state courts the authority to decide Section 3 issues. They did not endorse any of the federal constitutional arguments on Trump’s side. And these state statutory issues probably cannot be reviewed by the US Supreme Court, because state supreme courts are the final arbiters of the meaning of state law (with a few exceptions that do not apply here).”

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Due process:

“Trump disqualified from Colorado’s 2024 primary ballot by state Supreme Court” [WaPo]. “The Colorado Supreme Court’s majority determined that the trial judge was allowed to consider Congress’s investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, which contributed to the determination that Trump engaged in insurrection. ‘We conclude that the foregoing evidence, the great bulk of which was undisputed at trial, established that President Trump engaged in insurrection,’ the majority wrote.” • Insurrection is a crime (“18 U.S. Code § 2383 – Rebellion or insurrection“). Trump has never been charged with it, let alone convicted of it; nor have any other Capitol rioters, not even the Proud Boys. By Occam’s razor, the simplest explantion for Trump not being charged is that the prosecutor felt they couldn’t make the case. So, instead, we launder a Democrat investigation into facticity through the court system. That’s due process? Commentary:

“Column: A seismic Colorado court decision just upended Trump’s campaign. Here’s what comes next” [Los Angeles Times]. “So what is the court’s conservative majority likely to do? It has several options if it wants to reverse the state decision. The least likely avenue is to overturn the factual findings of the Colorado trial court. That’s why the lower court’s finding, after a weeklong trial, that Trump engaged in insurrection was such a significant step toward Tuesday’s decision. Appellate courts are normally loath to reverse factual findings in the absence of a clear error.” • Big win, then, for the Democrats.

“Trump barred from appearing on Colorado presidential primary ballot, state Supreme Court rules” [New York Post]. “One of the three dissenting judges on the state Supreme Court wrote Tuesday that questions surrounding the case were too complex to be determined at the state level, and the government can’t bar someone from holding office without due process. ‘Even if we are convinced that a candidate committed horrible acts in the past — dare I say, engaged in insurrection — there must be procedural due process before we can declare that individual disqualified from holding public office,’ Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright wrote.” • That concept of “self-execution” is a real Pandora’s box, isn’t it?

“Enforcing the Insurrection Clause Against Trump Strengthens Our Democracy” [Constitutional Accountability Center]. “Enforcing the Disqualification Clause is not antidemocratic. Our Constitution does not leave presidential eligibility entirely to voters. For instance, candidates who fail to meet the age requirements (“thirty five”) or citizenship requirements (“natural born Citizen”) contained in Article II, Section 1, are ineligible for the presidency no matter how popular they might be with voters. No good argument exists for ignoring Section 1 of Article II to allow voters to decide, just as no good argument exists for ignoring Section Three of the 14th Amendment.” • No due process needed for age, so no due process needed for insurrection?

“Colorado Supreme Court bars Donald Trump from the state’s ballot in 2024, ruling he’s disqualified by Jan. 6 actions” [Denver Post]. “‘[This lawsuit] was never really about keeping Trump’s name off Colorado’s ballot, because he was never going to win our electoral votes,’ [Doug Spencer, a University of Colorado law professor with a focus on election law,] said, referring to Colorado voters’ decisive rejection of Trump in 2016 and 2020. ‘It was about using our state law to get a ruling like this — and maybe now other courts will look at this and maybe not be so skittish.'” • Oh. Interestingly:

So the Ivy League PMC were happy to use the Colorado courts for their interests as a national class, but the local PMC were not?

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The “officer of the United States” controversy:

“Why 14th Amendment bars Trump from office: A constitutional law scholar explains principle behind Colorado Supreme Court ruling” [Mark A. Graber, The Conversation]. “The presidential oath’s wording is slightly different from that of other federal officers, but everyone in the federal government swears to uphold the Constitution before being allowed to take office.” • Two oaths, but one type of office? Seems a little blithe.

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Insurrection and rebellion:

“Judge Luttig explains why Donald Trump is disqualified from the presidency” [MSNBC]. Luttig: “All that any of us are able to do is evaluate the positive, objective law — in this instance, the Constitution and Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Under the plain, clear terms of Section 3, the former president would be disqualified from holding the presidency again — specifically, for the reason that his plan and effort and attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election and remain in power, notwithstanding that the American people had voted to confer the powers of the presidency on Joe Biden, constitutes a clear violation of the Executive Vesting Clause in the Constitution, which prescribes that a president will hold office for only a four-year term, unless and until he is re-elected to the presidency by the American people. The former president’s effort to overturn the election and remain in power is precisely what constitutes a rebellion against the Constitution of the United States.”

“Yielding to Temptation: Colorado’s Supreme Court Blocks Democracy to Bar Trump on the 2024 Ballot” [Jonathon Turley, The Messenger] “The result is an opinion that lacks any limiting principles. It places the nation on a slippery slope where red and blue states could now engage in tit-for-tat disqualifications. According to the Colorado Supreme Court, those decisions do not need to be based on the specific comments made by figures like Trump. Instead, it ruled, courts can now include any statements made before or after a speech to establish a ‘true threat.'” • From the decision, on “true threats”:

Hmm. Presumably the people doing the “self-executing” part will be figuring that out?

“Why Did Trump Supporters Storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6? Because of Trump, New Harvard Study Finds” [The Harvard Crimson]. “Shorenstein Center researchers found that 20.6 percent of the rioters, a plurality, were motivated to take part in the riot because they supported Trump. Another 20.6 percent of the rioters cited Trump’s fraudulent claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged as their primary reason for participating in the Jan. 6 riot. The third most common reason for attacking the Capitol: a desire to start a civil war or an armed revolution, according to the study. Almost 8 percent of defendants indicated it was their main motivation.” • Hmm.

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“Colorado’s ineligibility ruling threatens profound disruption in 2024” [Politico]. “The ruling will almost certainly wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court. And while the widespread expectation is it will be reversed or put on hold, the mere fact of it reaching the nation’s highest court threatens to produce dramatic fallout. The judges have been placed by Trump, once again, in the thick of a unique and highly fraught mix of politics and constitutional law — not only grappling with an issue that several of their Federalist Society brethren have put forth but forced to decide the fate of the ex-president who installed half of its current majority…. Roberts and the rest of the Court will be under enormous pressure — and intense scrutiny from both Trump and his political opponents. After the 2020 presidential election, the high court repeatedly swatted down a series of challenges from Trump and his allies despite the commanding six-justice conservative majority built on Trump’s watch.”

“Will the U.S.Supreme Court Keep Donald Trump Off the Ballot ? Some Initial Thoughts” [Election Law Blog]. “It is far from clear that the U.S. Supreme Court will reach the merits—there are many legal doctrines like ripeness and mootness that would give the Court a way to avoid deciding the issues in the case. But it is imperative for the political stability of the U.S. to get a definitive judicial resolution of these questions as soon as possible…. Once again the Supreme Court is being thrust into the center of a U.S. presidential election. But unlike in 2000 the general political instability in the United States makes the situation now much more precarious.” • Commentary:

“Turley deeply troubled by Colorado barring Trump from ballot: Could be ‘incredibly destabilizing'” [FOX]. Turley: “This is introducing the ability of states to effectively block the leading candidate for the presidency by barring them from ballots, and it will result in a tit-for-tat. And this is something that is quite familiar in other countries. This is the way things are in places like Iran, where they have ballot cleansing, where you have people in government tell you who’s just not appropriate for you to vote for.”

“”Why 14th Amendment bars Trump from office: A constitutional law scholar explains principle behind Colorado Supreme Court ruling” [Mark A. Graber, The Conversation]. “Section 3 then says people can be disqualified from holding office if they ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion.’ Legal authorities from the American Revolution to the post-Civil War Reconstruction understood an insurrection to have occurred when two or more people resisted a federal law by force or violence for a public, or civic, purpose. Shay’s Rebellion, the Whiskey Insurrection, Burr’s Rebellion, John Brown’s Raid and other events were insurrections, even when the goal was not overturning the government. What these events had in common was that people were trying to prevent the enforcement of laws that were consequences of persuasion, coalition building and voting. Or they were trying to create new laws by force, violence and intimidation.” • Granting the premise, prosecution seems a bit selective. Surely, then, what we had previously classified as riots after the murder of George Floyd are insurrections? How about pro-Palestine protesters resisting arrest “by force”? Here again the lack of a stopping principle seems evident. NOTE I’m becoming persauded that the question of “what is an insurrection” is not one for the courts at all. If the voters vote the putative insurrectionist into office, isn’t that merely a successful popular rebellion? And one with remarkably little bloodshed?

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Vivek weighs in:

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Lambert here: I’ve muttered for some time that the distinctive competence of the modern political party is control over the ballot: Who gets on it, how it’s counted. In this and allied cases, we see this principle in full flower. If the Colorado decision is upheld, we will have established the precedent that officials of one party may remove candidates from another party from the ballot, for reasons they deem good and sufficient, and without due process. That’s how Baude and Paulsen’s idea that Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is “self-executing” is operationalized, which strikes me as extraordinarily naive, institutionally.


Less than a year to go!

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The Democrat existential dilemma: The PMC are too narrow a base for a permanent majority:

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“‘Medicare for All’ bill becomes part of Dean Phillips’ presidential pitch” [Politico]. • Oh, how I wish…. Thing is, Medicare just isn’t that great anymore, and I suspect that’s why the single payer community should have stuck with “single payer,” and so what if it’s wonky. Too late for tears….

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“”None of the above” option to appear on Colorado’s Democratic presidential primary ballots” [Colorado Sun]. “The Colorado Democratic Party added a “noncommitted delegate” choice to the March 5 ballot that gives voters the option of sending untethered representatives to the Democratic National Convention next year to select the party’s nominee. Instead of being bound to support a Democratic presidential primary candidate supported by Colorado voters, the delegates could back any candidate on the floor of the nominating convention. People voting in the Republican primary won’t have a similar choice.”

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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.

* * *

“John Fetterman Exits the Progressive Coalition” [Political Currents by Ross Barkan]. ” Fetterman is in the first year of a six-year term. He has time to repair relations with progressives or sever ties altogether. At this point, the latter is rapidly happening anyway. For the Pennsylvania activist class, Fetterman is increasingly persona non grata. Since he also needs to appeal to centrists and Israel-supporting Jews in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh metropolitan areas, he might not care at all. If he does go down this path, though, he’ll have to find a new way to raise cash and wrangle volunteers. There are many young people who showed up to canvass for Fetterman 2022 that will not bother for Fetterman 2028. They’ll have long memories—and other heroes by then.” • Fetterman’s campaign was brilliant. The candidate, troubled. The elected, a sad story.

“Senator Warren Escalates Criticism of Crypto Industry Groups in New Letters” [Yahoo Finance]. “Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has intensified her criticism of the crypto industry in a series of letters sent to industry groups and the Coinbase exchange. In a letter to the Coin Center crypto advocacy group, Warren accused the industry of using a ‘not-so secret weapon’ by hiring former defense and law enforcement officials in an alleged attempt to undermine Congressional efforts to address the role of crypto in financing terrorist groups, including Hamas. ‘This abuse of the revolving door is appalling, revealing that the crypto industry is spending millions to give itself a veneer of legitimacy while fighting tooth and nail to stonewall common sense rules designed to restrict the use of crypto for terror financing – rules that could cut into crypto company profits,’ Warren wrote in the letter. Similar letters were also sent to the Blockchain Association and Coinbase, according to Politico. Warren’s criticism stems from her concerns about the potential use of crypto to finance terrorist organizations, particularly in light of Hamas’ attack on Israel in October.”

Realignment and Legitimacy


“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 (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, 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, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

Handwashing audits v. airborne aerosol audits:

Scientific Communication

“COVID-19 levels high ahead of holiday travel season” [Axios]. “Almost every state reporting such data is showing at least “high” levels compared to baseline trends, with many reporting “very high” levels, as defined by the CDC.” • Axios redesigned CDC’s “50 shades of grey” into a color scheme that actually suggests danger:

“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.

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Automobile accidents as a proxy for society-wide loss of executive function?

Origins Debate

Lambert here: I don’t recall a comment on this yesterday, and it is in fact important.

“American scientists misled Pentagon on research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology” [U.S. Right to Know]. “U.S. Right to Know has obtained [how] an early draft of DEFUSE [A 2018 research proposal called DEFUSE called for synthesizing spike proteins with furin cleavage sites] with comments from “PD” and “BRS.” Emails show these commenters to be “Peter Daszak” and “Baric, Ralph S.”” The project was not approved, but the annotations on the draft look to this bystander to be exceptionally nasty:

The Wuhan Lab, in other words, will use the cheaper BSL-2 facility:

“BSL-2 experiments are more convenient and less expensive than BSL-3 experiments … However, BSL-2 provides a far lower level of biosafety than BSL-3 does. This lower safety level is especially dangerous for experiments involving viruses that can be transmitted by air,” [Justin Kinney, a quantitative biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and co-founder of Biosafety Now] said. “It is very concerning that Daszak and Baric appear to have considered it legitimate to move high-risk experiments from BSL-3 to BSL-2. It is also concerning that they appear to have considered doing so in secret, instead of disclosing this important change of experimental plans and biosafety precautions in their grant proposal.”

Not a good look, at the very least. And projects that aren’t approved can get recycled into projects that are.


“There Is Money in Prevention” [Britta Domke, Harvard Business manager]. Important. We ran a Google-translated version of this in Links on 12/15, but this one is official. The deck: “Companies have been ignoring the enormous long Covid risk for too long. Now they’re paying for it – literally. Implementing the Swiss cheese system could make them largely Covid-proof in no time. So what needs to be done?” • Swiss cheese model! Excellent!

Elite Maleficence

“Failure to protect: COVID infection control policy privileges poor-quality evidence” (preprint) [medRxiv]. Important. From the Conclusion: “Many of the concerns we and others have raised regarding the Loeb 2022 study are both major and obvious. The initial proposal to employ discontinuous use of N95 against a suspected aerosol hazard is a fatal flaw by itself, and is also present in two influenza studies often cited as evidence against efficacy of N95: one by Loeb in 2009 and one by Radonovich in 2019. Their uncritical embrace along with the flawed and controversial Cochrane review in efforts to downgrade the level of protection required for SARS-CoV-2 highlights a need to halt these efforts until good faith can be confirmed (as opposed to being e.g. an attempt to construct a retroactive justification for prior failures to provide adequate PPE). This includes any and all attempts to reduce PPE requirements for infectious aerosols, specifically including the HICPAC process, which relies significantly on the fatally flawed studies listed above, and via administrative manipulations such as altering the classification of SARS-CoV-2 as an RG3 pathogen. All PPE decisions should be fully transparent and standards-based, and those standards should not be weakened in the absence of a true interdisciplinary consensus including representatives of affected workers. Efforts to override those standards or subordinate them to EBM heuristics(199,200) should be permanently ended.” • A massive takedown of Loeb M, Bartholomew A, Hashmi M, Tarhuni W, Hassany M, Youngster I, et al. Medical Masks Versus N95 Respirators for Preventing COVID-19 Among Health Care Workers. Ann Intern Med. 2022 Dec;175(12):1629–38. Loeb and Conly are, apparently, running buddies.

“Project NextGen is ignoring new COVID-19 antivirals when we need them most” [The Hill]. “The $5 billion initiative being administered by Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)-led Project NextGen has failed to invest in the next generation of oral COVID-19 antivirals. Next-generation oral antivirals, some of which are already in development, are likely to be the most practical and productive investment to help protect our most at-risk individuals and bring us closer to moving beyond this pandemic. However, without government/private partnerships similar to what were implemented for vaccines and monoclonal antibody development, new next-generation oral antivirals currently in development may not reach the finish line. … Project NextGen’s funding priorities have consistently neglected oral antivirals and, instead, prioritized vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), as evidenced by each of its funding rounds for programs completed to date. While these tools have been useful in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic, they alone cannot be a successful long-term strategy. We’re stuck in a perpetual game of catch-up with updated vaccines that are often outdated before they’re even available due to new SARS-CoV-2 mutations. COVID-19 mAbs have been even less reliable, as the first round of authorizations were quickly revoked due to waning efficacy.”

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, December 18:

Lambert here: As a totally “gut feel” tapewatcher, I would expect this peak to meet or exceed the two previous Biden peaks; after all, we haven’t really begun the next bout of holiday travel, or the next rounds of superspreading events celebrations. Plus students haven’t come from from school, and then returned. So a higher peak seems pretty much “baked in.” And that’s before we get to new variants, like JN.1. The real thing to watch is the slope of the curve. If it starts to go vertical, and if it keeps on doing so, then hold onto your hats. (Next week’s reading, however, is Christmas Day; there may well be a data-driven drop.) Stay safe out there! Only 14 superspreading days until Christmas!

Regional data:

Hard to see why the regional split (and it sure would be nice to have more granular data). Weather forcing Northerners indoors? Seems facile. There’s snow in the Rockies (green color, West), for example.

• Looks like wastewater is still a suitable proxy for cases:


NOT UPDATED From CDC, December 9:

Lambert here: JN.1, shown on the NowCast for the first time, coming up fast on the outside, while BA.2.86 fades.

From CDC, November25:

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

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, December 16:

Lambert: Return to upward movement. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator.

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. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.


NOT UPDATED Bellwether New York City, data as of December 18:

Lambert here: I don’t like that little upward spike (you’ve got to look closely at the most recent date). Let’s hope it doesn’t keep happening.

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

Moving ahead briskly!

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, December 18:

-0.3%. Down. (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.)

From Cleveland Clinic, December 16:

Lambert here: Plateauing. 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, November 27:

Turning upward.

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 27:

BA.2.86 blasting upward. This would be a great early warning system, if the warning were in fact early instead of weeks late, good job, CDC.


NOT UPDATED Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, December 9:

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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The Economy: “The economic year ahead will not be binary” [Financial Times]. “But economic reality in 2024 is likely to be far less binary, and much more nuanced, than many market participants and policymakers believe. The first and most obvious is that the pandemic and the policy response to it has made it very difficult to predict where the US and global economy will be based on old models. Employment, wages and other key metrics are refusing to follow historic trends in many places. Second, decoupling and the rise of industrial policy have introduced a new dynamic into fiscal policy and trade relations — one that will continue to play out no matter who wins the US presidential election next year. And third, there is an ongoing interest rate arbitrage affecting business and consumers that still has years to run.” • For both one and two, the slogan I’ve been toying with applies: The only real market is the labor market.

Media: “ChatGPT Is Turning the Internet Into Plumbing” [The Atlantic]. “Earlier today, OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, announced a partnership with the media conglomerate Axel Springer that seems to get us closer to an answer. Under the arrangement, ChatGPT will gain the capacity to present its users with ‘summaries of selected global news content’ published by the news organizations in Axel Springer’s portfolio, which includes Politico and Business Insider. The details are not altogether clear, but the announcement indicates that when you query ChatGPT, the bot will be able to spin up responses based on Axel Springer stories, accompanied by links to the stories themselves. Likewise, material from Axel Springer publications will be used as training data for OpenAI, advancing the company’s products—which may have already consumed something like the entire internet.” • An autocoprophagic doom loop, when the summaries get fed back into the training sets, as they will.

The Bezzle: “Electric scooter company Bird files for bankruptcy” [TechCrunch]. • That’s a damn shame.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 79 Extreme Greed (previous close: 79 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 67 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 20 at 1:02:56 PM ET.

Groves of Academe

“Swimming Pools and Granite Countertops: How College Dorms Got So Expensive” [Wall Street Journal]. “Many schools demolished older, cheaper residence halls, switching out double-occupancy rooms and shared hallway bathrooms for more private accommodations with communal amenities such as study lounges, fitness centers and swimming pools. The median increase for the most expensive housing offering at the 12 schools was 114%, adjusted for inflation. Many of these luxury dorms were built and run by private developers. The schools often receive a cut of the rent revenue, making the dorms a potential gold mine.”

News of the Wired

“Was an ancient bacterium awakened by an industrial accident?” [The Economist]. • This is fascinating, but I’m baffled how to excerpt it.

* * *

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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. Pensions Guy

      You have already done a pretty good job of presenting the broad spectrum of reactions. I support the majority opinion in Colorado as a correct analysis of the law. I also predict that the Supreme Court will affirm and that Justice Thomas will not participate in the decision. He has a former law clerk who is under indictment in Georgia, likely one of the unindicted co-conspirators in D.C., and about to lose his law license in California. His wife deleted her text messages to Mark Meadows about the coup, but Meadows did not. She wound up expressing regret about sending those messages when she was deposed. More importantly, the big Republican benefactors of Justice Thomas have abandoned Trump, so they won’t care if he recuses himself. Path of least resistance for him. . ..

      1. John

        Predicting what Thomas is likely to do often looks easy, but he has something of the contrarian in him so, let’s see what happens.

      2. hk

        Chief Justice Taney also made made a ruling in Dred Scott based on correct analysis of the law at the time. That was also the single most destructive and stupidest thing that could have been done. One hopes that modern day Taneys can only be found in CO supreme court.

  1. Carolinian

    Good for Vivek. Nikki’s only hope is that Trump is excluded so we know what she will say. If one wants to really attack Trump perhaps it should be for putting unqualified people like Haley or his lawyer David Friedman (source of the campus antisemitism allegations) in his administration.


    And since the Cooler takes all comers this Construction Physics on the building of the Apollo spacecraft is very good.


    Is it really possible that private contractors are going to reproduce such a complex accomplishment in the near future?

  2. Feral Finster

    “Yielding to Temptation: Colorado’s Supreme Court Blocks Democracy to Bar Trump on the 2024 Ballot” [Jonathon Turley, The Messenger] “The result is an opinion that lacks any limiting principles. It places the nation on a slippery slope where red and blue states could now engage in tit-for-tat disqualifications. According to the Colorado Supreme Court, those decisions do not need to be based on the specific comments made by figures like Trump. Instead, it ruled, courts can now include any statements made before or after a speech to establish a ‘true threat.’” • From the decision, on “true threats”:

    So, for instance, a South Dakota court could rule that Biden supporters talking about dismantling the Electoral College or a coup to prevent a Trump presidency is a “true threat”….no specific words or action or outcome needed.

    Good to know.

    1. Big River Bandido

      If this were not merely dumb dirty politics disguised as law, you would be correct. But having a legal argument won’t be important; all that matters is whether you have the political coalition in place to ram it through.

      1. Feral Finster

        Of course this is but politics under color of law. That’s why I mentioned a South Dakota court, which is a state where you can legally hunt Democrats and liberals year-round, including with specially trained dogs. (I think the rez is a preserve, though.)

        1. ambrit

          I’m told that the South Dakota State Wildlife Department does not list Democrat Party members and Liberals as one species.
          We are indeed lucky that a reasonably well educated State Wildlife department employee stopped the mistaken definition of Liber-tarians as referring to Librarians, with a defined season running from September first to May first. Liber-tarians should be hunted during their “off time” from the end of the school year to the beginning of the next school year. {Naturalists, (you know, that bunch that runs around naked all the time,) are not sure as to how Liber-tarians reproduce.} So, the hunting season for that species is somewhat ad hoc.
          Stay safe. Save the Prairie Chicken.

      1. lambert strether

        Wait until the tit for tat cycle begins. As I said, “self-executing” is remarkably naive, institutionally.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Indeed. Some people might go so far as to think that directly and unambiguously fomenting a genocide against the clear dictates of international law might disqualify someone from the ballot, too.

            1. John

              Hypothetical: The election was not certified on 6 January 2021 as the forced entrance into the capital and events which transpired thereafter continued to prevent it. On 20 January 2021 would Donald Trump have sought to continue as President? Would that not constitute insurrection.

              After 6 January, Trump took/allowed measures to quell the disturbances thus allowing the constitutional process to play out and Biden to take office on 20 January 2021. Obviously no successful insurrection.

              But we sit with the unknown middle and it must be decided.

        2. pjay

          Exactly. Not “hysterical” at all, but in fact a very likely outcome if this ridiculously destabilizing interpretation is allowed to stand. “Naive” is much too kind a word to describe such legal “scholarship.” Actually, I think treating it as some sort of objective determination of the Law by Wise Judges or expert Legal Scholars is pure pretense. This whole performance built around the Baude and Paulsen article is just another element in the massive lawfare effort to keep Trump off the 2024 ballot.

          1. notabanker

            I agree and think Turley is spot on, other than we are far past the slippery slope. We’re doin 55 at the top of the mountain.

      2. Feral Finster

        In other words, there is nothing to prevent a red state court from engaging in tit for tat behavior, especially since the standard for a “true threat” is so vague, but you have to defend your team.

      3. Carolinian

        Turley may be from the right but hard to argue with his legal reasoning here. The hysteria is in the notion that the 14th amendment has anything to do with Trump. If the Dems are this desperate they need to give Biden the boot, stat.

        Lawfare is for losers.

        1. Even keel

          It makes sense that the section is limited to exclude the president. That office is the only nationwide office. The section precludes a small faction of the country from returning an insurrector to office. Ie for sectional reasons.

          However, if a person has enough political support across the country, then past history doesn’t matter. That decision to elect that person is effectively a nationwide referendum.

          By contrast, the section prevents one state, or one district, from doing something on their own and seating someone against the national will.

          I think this is important and not talked about enough. The textual analysis and close reading is not mere pedantry. It establishes a system that makes sense.

  3. Val

    The weeks adjacent to Christmas and 4th of July holiday are always rich in inconvenient facts– those that must surface briefly before being aggressively memory-holed. It’s the holiday porpoise, and this year may be the best whale watching season ever.

    Triumphant Rus breaching in DC, two years to the day from their “indivisible security” letters to the Blob and NATOstans. Speculating now that somebody knew they were coming and ordered up that genuine Colorado nothingburger with extra cheese. Judges do love a pat on the head from the national security state.

    Anyway the republic is long dead if it ever existed and I don’t care who is president but do hope everyone has a lovely holiday with friends and loved ones.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Yes, a lovely holiday dodging Covid annd obnoxious relatives…and full wishes that “ammo” continues to be high on the gift list.

      Just ran across a YT vid by some guy who buys AR- and AK and .50 BMG rifle magazines in lots of 100, spray-paints them in cami colors, loads them with 5.56 rounds, and stores them “someplace convenient in “inverted elastic bandoliers” to keep the dust out. He does his practice shooting using a separate small set of magazines (aka “clips”) so as not to wear out or compromise the function of his “shtf” stash. His notion is that It’s Coming Soon, and if people are shooting at you, you want lots of magazines, new and already loaded, so you don’t be trying to refill mags or clear mag-induced feed errors in the middle of a firefight with Them. Recently published, already over 10,000 views.

      In one of those “I buy abandoned storage units” videos, the auteur lucked into a gun lover’s stash — dozens of rifles and handguns, including assassin-grade with computer optics, most with suppressors, tens of thousands of rounds of 5.56, 7.62×39 and 54, .50 cal, a couple of RPG launchers and light antitank weapons. A 10×10 foot storage unit packed high. Seems the owner died in a car accident.

      SHTF, but also per the other bumper stickers, “Shit Happens,” and “Karma Is A Bitch.”

      Ammo is still readily available and not too expensive.

      What place and in what kind of political economy do preppers/ammo hoarders expect yo inhabit?

      1. i just dont like the gravy

        What place and in what kind of political economy do preppers/ammo hoarders expect [t]o inhabit?

        Exactly. Spending all this money on guns and ammo to “defend” yourself when SHTF. What’s the point? To survive makeshift in some Mad Max post-collapse future?

        Pure cope.

        1. Ducky

          What’s the point? To grow old and die in bed surrounded by young women you have impregnated after all the rules of society are overturned and you are the one with the canned goods and protection for them.

          “I have a masters in Feminist Studies” ain’t gonna be much use WTSHTF.

          Other than that, can’t think of a reason.

      2. ambrit

        Being “prepper” adjacent, I can attest that “preppers” and “ammo hoarders” are not one monolithic group. Think of them in Venn diagram terms as two big circles that overlap to a degree, but are not identical.
        To the nuanced thinkers, proper ‘prepping’ is more of a state of mind than a list of items.
        Besides, if I remember correctly, one is not advised to leave fully charged magazines lying about for extended periods of time. They rely on springs to push the metal servants of doom into the receivers of the firearms. Springs, being merely prosaic material objects, are prone to stress induced degradation, and wear out over time and use.
        ProAm tip. What did the soldiers in “the Sandbox” fear the most? Improvised Explosive Devices. Roadside bombs, etc. Think of Col. Lawrence working in the sands of the Palestine back in World War One. Unless one can gin up a decently sized organized military force with which to do battle against the Organs of State Security, one must fall back upon “irregular” warfare.
        History will yet again teach the eternal lesson; what is done first overseas against ‘foreign’ enemies will eventually “come home” and be done against the “enemies” of the Regime in the Heartland.
        Expect to see soon a ‘new’ definition of “Civil Disobedience.”
        The djinn is out of the bottle.

  4. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “Why Did Trump Supporters Storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6? Because of Trump, New Harvard Study Finds”

    And to the giant brains at Harvard that came to this conclusion, I would say “No s**t, Captain Obvious.”

    James Buchanan wasn’t running for president in 2020, now was he?

    1. The Rev Kev

      This ties in with what Lambert said-

      ‘So the Ivy League PMC were happy to use the Colorado courts for their interests as a national class, but the local PMC were not?’

      Some insurrection. They were so keen that all of them forgot to bring their guns. They did manage to take a lot of selfies though.

    2. Enter Laughing

      I went looking for the complete study and came up empty.

      Did find out that this study is a year and a half old, however.

      And that the study’s author, who is a misinformation specialist, got forced out of Harvard and had her research project Technology and Social Change ended early.

      I would really like to see the full study if anybody else had some luck in finding it.

  5. lambert strether

    I added orts and scraps, categorized the Colorado decision snippets, and added a brief comment. Enjoy!

    1. Feral Finster

      To be fair, Jihadi Julian is a bit bipolar or something.

      Ukraine will be offered the next token and Juiian will be back to masturbatory fantasies about the Master Race mastering the evil orcs or something until the next setback comes, and then Julian will have a sad.

      1. communistmole

        I can’t judge Röpcke’s mental health, but it seems to me that in Germany in general the Ukraine war is increasingly losing importance and the situation in the Middle East is taking center stage (which doesn’t change the anti-Russian attitude, of course).

        and à propos Germany:

        “Germany’s commitment to Israel by Pankaj Mishra

        As völkisch-authoritarian racism surges at home, the German authorities risk failing in their responsibility to the rest of the world: never again to become complicit in murderous ethnonationalism.”


  6. Seth Miller

    Due process?

    Yes, Lambert, whether you agree with the Colorado Supreme Court or not, Trump got due process in Colorado. By definition. He got notice and an opportunity to be heard: he could have but did not contest the trial evidence that the court found constitutes insurrection, and he had every opportunity to advance your argument, which is that in the absence of a criminal conviction Article 3 ought not to apply. I think your disagreement is on substantive grounds (i.e. on the issue of whether a conviction should be a predicate for disqualification), but not on due process grounds at all.

    1. John

      I hope we get a decision on this … one that can be generally accepted … soon or 2024 is going to bean “interesting” year.

      And to think, you dreamed of becoming a Supreme Court Justice. Rather like, It’s 4th and 25 and they won’t let you punt.

    2. lambert strether

      The trial “evidence” was a Democratic hearing, whose contents were laundered into facts by a Democrat court (a hearing, incidentally, where important tapes have gone missing).

      It’s possible, from footnote 2, that Trump’s lawyers butchered this. But the process still stinks.

      1. Pensions Guy

        As a retired trial lawyer, I watched the entire proceedings, and Trump’s witnesses were pitiful. The trial judge rightly judged Kash Patel to be not credible. She rightly judged the testimony of the Treasurer of the Colorado Republican Party as “largely irrelevant.” He was more like an accidental tourist, who testified he did not enter the Capitol because “I don’t like crowds.” Why was he even there? Likewise with Amy Kremer, who basically lied about the intent to march to the Capitol. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/group-planned-jan-6-rally-lied-capitol-march-plans-government-report-s-rcna130343 Three of the lawyers representing the Petitioners are former Supreme Court law clerks, and they did a fantastic job assembling and presenting the evidence. Trump’s lawyers are from a 3-person law firm, one of whom was the Colorado Secretary of State who refused to put an ineligible person on the presidential ballot years ago and was affirmed in that decision by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in a decision written by then-Judge Gorsuch. It’s not the fault of the Petitioners that their lawyers had a cornucopia of evidence from which to choose and that Trump’s lawyers had leftovers. None of that made for a “Democratic hearing”.

        1. IM Doc

          You may be correct – and this all my be perfectly legal.

          However, I have heard all my life about “jury nullification”. I always understood that to mean that the jury would directly find a defendant not guilty ( knowing full well they likely were ) because they felt that the law issues surrounding the case were so abhorrently immoral or wrong.

          I guess we are going to find out now if the same “nullification” applies to the voters of this country.

          I don’t know – sitting around the table in the doctor’s lounge today was just fascinating. Full of PMC liberal democrats – almost to the one – out of the 11 there – all 11 voted for Obama – out of the 11 there today – 3 sheepishly admitted to their colleagues they would be still voting for Biden. The general take – “I am going to have to do something else this time – we are going to have to have a country left for the grandchildren” – and for once, they are not referring to Trump.

          I can tell from what the few contacts I follow in my social media feeds that something similar has happened. The liberal PMC types are just horrified.

          In my opinion, the vaccine mandate decision and now this may be the two biggest political blunders of my lifetime. I can scarcely believe the arrogance.

          1. pjay

            Is this the type of evidence on which the Colorado decision was based? Because for one thing, he clearly says that there was “a violent insurrection *of* the Capitol,” and is clearly using “insurrection” here as a synonym for the invasion of the Capitol building, not the attempted overthrow of the government. Nor does this have anything to do with the question of whether Trump himself was advocating or abetting such an overthrow.

            You are certainly entitled to your opinion on this, and as always I *hate* having to defend Trump. But this example suggests you are reaching to justify this decision. I don’t know what other kind of evidence was presented here, but I am familiar with the arguments and evidence made during the impeachment hearings. If they are the same ones then that’s a problem for me.

        2. britzklieg

          The “insurrection” was a clown show and all the legal proceedings based on it are as well… as is too often the case with legal proceedings. But you, being a lawyer, know that. And yes, I am casting aspersions on your discipline as practiced, not on the noble aims which underlie it.

          “The first thing we do is, let’s kill all the lawyers.”


          And no, I didn’t vote for Trump however tempting it was given the corrupt nature of his opposition. Any damage Trump did to “democracy” during his 4 year-long (and now terminated) reign of error can not compare to that inflicted by Biden’s 4 decade-long (and now continuing) reign of terror.

      2. Seth Miller

        Was any evidence offered by Trump and excluded from the record? Were any witnesses denied the right to testify? Did Trump make any argument that the missing tapes contained evidence that would have changed the factual findings in the slightest? You are not arguing any recognizable due process violation here. You are arguing that because the judge is a Democrat, that’s enough showing of bias to deprive Trump of a fair hearing. That sort of claim requires proof, like anything else does. If they ever made me a judge, I wouldn’t want my political affiliation to be turned into an automatic knee jerk claim of bias. Trump gets plenty of breaks from Democrat judges, and plenty of punishment from Republican judges. I don’t see any serious due process claim here.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Shouldn’t the legal process here be a conviction on insurrection charges before one can be removed from the ballot for being an insurrectionist?

    3. The Rev Kev

      Did Trump actually get found guilty of insurrection by a regular law court? If so, why has he not been sent to prison? Colorado is disqualifying him on what is still an allegation and that is not a good basis for law that. If individual States start playing these games over national elections, then this is going to go sideways real fast.

      1. Seth Miller

        that question is central to the argument over what the insurrection clause means. Evidently, after the Civil War, that very argument was rejected, mostly because requiring a criminal conviction for every confederate soldier and official seemed at the time like a waste of time, not to mention that it ran against the amnesty policy at the time.

        IMHO, I don’t see why the civil trial that Trump lost here wouldn’t suffice. Trump lost the “insurrection” issue after a trial in a regular law court, albeit a civil, not a criminal, court. Colorado isn’t acting on an “allegation” but, instead, on affirmed findings of fact made after a full blown trial at which Trump had the opportunity to present a defense but evidently did not do so.

        1. ambrit

          In the spirit of nitpicking, allow me to observe that “insurrection” proper is necessarily a criminal proceeding. So, to convict the man, a criminal trial is necessary. A civil trial will not do.
          What I see here is a glorified kangaroo court process.
          We are not talking about punishments like ten lashes with a wet noodle. The integrity of the “Democratic Process” is at stake. (For some definition of ‘Democratic.’)
          The more I think about this, the more I feel that we are well into “Alice in Wonderland” territory.
          “Consider your verdict,” he [the King] said to the jury in a low, trembling voice.
          “No, no!” said the queen. “Sentence first—verdict afterward.”

        2. Late Introvert

          “IMHO, I don’t see why the civil trial that Trump lost here wouldn’t suffice.”

          Ya, that’s humble, LOL.

          And bringing up the “too many” confederate soldiers just cuts your argument off at the knees. Does that apply here?

  7. Mikel

    “The Democrat existential dilemma: The PMC are too narrow a base for a permanent majority…”

    Neither Dems or Repubs have been able to get a majority of registered voters (or the population in gemeral) for the longest. Both count on people holding their nose and accepting the wretchedness put in front of them by big money.

    And the biggest growing constituency is people with nothing left to lose due to the current economic system.

  8. Bsn

    I found this article funny: “Why Did Trump Supporters Storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6? Because of Trump, New Harvard Study Finds”
    Since about 10% of the participants were federal, state and DC officers the study is about as flawed as the Cochrane study was. N=Not Enough.

  9. Glen

    The PMC is starting to remind me of the Monopoly player that never figured out what the Monopoly game was designed to teach: one winner, everybody else loses.

    Smart enough to get a degree, stupid enough to think that matters.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “ChatGPT Is Turning the Internet Into Plumbing”

    The sweet irony. All those reporters out there churning out all that propaganda like bots to please their masters with Axel Springer being emblematic of the later. Propaganda on demand. And now all those reporters will be replaced by actual bots as they can churn out mindless propaganda just as well. Bonus points in that just like those reporters, ChatGPT can make up stuff too.

  11. JBird4049

    >>>“Swimming Pools and Granite Countertops: How College Dorms Got So Expensive”

    Granite countertops? And swimming pools? And just why does the school need a private company to build and run it? I could possibly see someone wanting a private bathroom, but this is just silliness.

    1. ambrit

      Yes in spades. I remember the dorms at the Poison Ivy League University I did not matriculate from. They were bare bones places to study, sleep, and recreate at the basic level. One big bathroom with common showers for each wing. No ‘lounges,’ rec-rooms, IT caves, meditation nooks, etc. etc.
      The expectations being nurtured in the tender breasts of today’s young “scholars” will come back to haunt them when their educational debt load exceeds their lifetime earnings potential.
      After World War 1.0, the literati spoke of “The Lost Generation.” Our future literate elites will need speak of “The New Lost Generation.”

      1. The Rev Kev

        Might have a new word here to describe students in the plural form-

        ‘an encumbrance of students’

    2. chris

      I have one child attending a public university now. Room and board, and the associated fees cost more than tuition every semester. In addition to that, they have fees that they levy on students unless certain other requirements are met. Like, if your student didn’t document their insurance coverage sufficiently, you get an additional $2500 per semester added to your bill for medical coverage while the student is on campus.

    3. griffen

      The university administrative bloat must be paid for, and looks like the lower class or poor students get stuck with expenses and debt in the process. Wonder what sort of subsidies and tax code manipulations that private real estate interests are up to, knowing the tendencies to follow a path of lower resistance.

      One of the lower paragraphs includes a quote from an “associate vice president for auxiliary enterprises” from Clemson University. At Clemson, reported housing revenues have exceeded expenses for each of the last five years. Had to read that twice. Clemson must have a burgeoning population of eye health students, I’ve met a couple this past year.

  12. Fastball

    Setting aside the applicability of this clause, has anyone thought through the reaction of the voting public when/if they get to the poll and on the President line is “Joseph Biden” and no one else who could possibly be president? Or Kamala “Word Salad” Harris for that matter?

    In a duopoly, with people lied to that they live in a “democracy”, you cannot just do away with the only serious opposition by putting it in prison and kicking it off the ballot without serious consequences, instability, and possible civil war.

    I have never voted for a Republican in my life — to me both parties are unacceptable and I’ve largely stopped voting — but it genuinely seem to me that the Democrats are vying to be “The Party” just as is purported to be in single party Communist Countries. If they think they are able to do this, it’s going to be a very nasty next few years while they discover that, no, they’re really quite wrong. It’s not just that Republicans won’t put up with it, there’s the vast plurality whose tolerance is being tested. It’s very unwise of the Democrats to put Independents and Republicans on the same side in this matter.

  13. flora

    Taibbi, referenced earlier, the public excerpt:

    On Trump and Colorado


    adding: cheering a ruling because “we like it” instead of “because it is Constitutionally correct” is childishness in the extreme, imo. Me thinks the current PMC class is the uber childishness class of our era. But that’s just me. / ;)

    1. LifelongLib

      Well, I’m old enough to remember the rigamorole around impeaching Nixon, so I’m not sure it was ever that different. My mom used to say that law is all about whose ox is gored. If it’s your ox it’s always a special case.

      1. Nikkikat

        I have also been thinking about the Nixon pardon, brought to you by the GOP. However, the one that gets me riled and has continued to rile me due to what it cost this country and it’s people and continues to do so, is the Supreme Court insinuating itself into GOP contrived ballot put into play by a GOP candidates brother in florida.
        Whereby the Supreme Court decided whether vote counting would be stopped and a winner declared. The entire democrat party stood by and let that happen even their candidate refused to do anything. George W Bush and Dick Cheney were and continue to be a monumental disaster. The trillion dollar war budget, the patriot act,
        The AUMF, the FISA court. I could go on and on.

      1. flora

        adding: This would be the same Robert Reich who found pres Clinton’s labor rules changes , job outsourcing and NAFTA, and welfare program changes just ducky. Because something or other. Neoliberalism means never having to say you’re sorry. (Where have I heard that before?) / ;)

        Reich is charming, attractive, erudite, and wrong.

  14. ChrisRUEcon

    #Trump #OrangeManNotOnBallot

    > So the Ivy League PMC were happy to use the Colorado courts for their interests as a national class, but the local PMC were not?

    This is something I have thought about before – that not all PMC are created equal. For the purposes of cultivating goldfish-brainery and normalizing cognitive dissonance, absolutely. However, when it comes to the actual power structures, I think those of us in Economics circles, for example, have long understood that Ivy Leaguers, or graduates of water adjacent (East Coast, West Coast, Lake Michigan) schools have tended to wield way more influence than others. The Ivy leaguers would have no doubt seen themselves as “deciders” and “upholders of democracy”. The local yokels would have seen themselves as more bound to the letter of the law as it pertains to ostensibly punishing a criminal act.

    I’ll repeat what I said yesterday – this won’t stick. It’s performative, and many memes will be spawned from the faces of liberal whose brains are going to predictably implode when the Supreme court reverses every such ruling before the general election.

    ::Joe Piscopo Voice::
    “I got ya Octobah surprise right hiehya!”

    1. ChrisRUEcon


      > Fetterman’s campaign was brilliant. The candidate, troubled. The elected, a sad story.

      Few truer words e’er spoken … Oooooof

    2. ChrisRUEcon


      Did not have “Hamas Kills Crypto” on my 2023 Bingo card!! In before the deadline, folks!

    3. ChrisRUEcon

      > This is the way things are in places like Iran, where they have ballot cleansing, where you have people in government tell you who’s just not appropriate for you to vote for.


      When people engage in US virtue-signaling like modern day Pharisees (Luke 18:9-14 – via biblegateway.com), it’s often a case of every criticism being a confession, every protest being a projection.

      Thanks to this exchange between Lambert and Alice X yesterday (via NC), I am happy to report that the US beat Iran to it in 1860.

    4. ChrisRUEcon


      Wow … gonna have to start calling this dude #IndianManBad

      Isn’t he Trump’s best acolyte right now?!! He wants that Veep spot real bad … does anyone think he’ll get it?! I’m not sure … I mean, he did call Trump a “sore loser” in 2020 (via YouTube), but even so … who else is in even in the running?

      Vivek as veep would lead to one of the most interesting vice presidential debates ever, though … LOL

      Son of India versus daughter of India! Hahahaha!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Both parties have ended up at the same destination. They both want a black face to appeal to their voters – but they don’t really want an American black face. And that went for Obama as well.

    5. Daniil Adamov

      This is only a guess, but “locals” may also be more invested in the functioning of local institutions, which would be somewhat compromised by such shenanigans (it does significant harm to their reputation with a part of the population, if nothing else). They would find it harder to move elsewhere later, for one thing.

  15. notabanker

    You all can tell me I’m nuts, I can take it. But it seems to me there is a much larger play here. The democrats, and many repubs, don’t want an election. The dems are going to get creamed with Joe, and the repubs are relegated to take orders from Trump.

    Whether you think they are righteous patriots or delusional yahoos doesn’t really matter. Supporters of Trump are disenfranchised US citizens and at some point they are not going to take it anymore and will take matters into their own hands. And we will all pay a huge price for that. Agitating them into doing something stupid early is a great scenario for the establishment so desperate to get rid of Trump. Nip it in the bud and establish the new order.

    OMG, actual violence! Martial law, bring in the troops, lock down the airwaves, seize control of the internet, and of course we cannot have an election in wartime, just think of the democracy! For how long you ask? Until there is no longer a threat to National Security. Or, however long it takes. Heard that before?

    I don’t think this is far fetched at all. In fact, I’ve been saying for a good while now what the political structure is doing makes no sense, unless there is no election. I think that is the actual objective here.

    1. chris

      Yeah… I can see all that happening. Mainly because I can see the Democrats and the PMC being stupid enough to believe they can start something like that and control it.

      1. Pat

        They do keep promoting the brains that thought the destabilization of the Middle East was going to bring democracy. Or that using a proxy and sanctions to fight the major nation whose last military failure was hundreds of years ago in order to topple their government and allow for more corporate looting but it only improves their lot. Or…well seriously can anybody think of one major initiative that wasn’t a profound failure?

        If madness is doing the same thing over and over and believing you will get a different result, then they are truly mad. They think that one…two….ten deeply problematic court cases will convince the public who don’t see Trump as the root of all the evil that he is. When instead each instance increases the numbers that think they are the biggest danger to Democracy.

      2. Tom Stone

        I give the odds that we will have an election at one in three.
        And the odds that we will see a terrorist attack on our “Beloved Homeland” before next November at better than eight in ten.
        If all else fails the Feebs can kidnap Gretchen Whitmer again.

    2. tegnost

      As with many of the other problems created by the in crowd, it’s hard to see a positive outcome, and yours has a narrative structure, which seems to be the only requirement :/

    3. Nikkikat

      It sounded like you were describing zelensky and Ukraine. Joe Biden’s admin. Calls Ukraine a democracy despite all of the above so maybe not so surprising the Dem party is pulling the same train into the station.

  16. Raymond Sim

    What got my attention in the DEFUSE material was the discussion of evaluating pre-dosing with antivirals as a prospective prophylaxis for soldiers likely to be exposed.

    Once again I find myself thinking that this looks like research aimed at eventually producing bioweapons. While I don’t have an opinion on the origin of Covid, I’m at the point where I think some sort of truth and reconciliation process on the research might be called for.

    1. Tom Stone

      Look up who Covid “Patient Zero” , patient one and patient two were and where they worked, that information has been available since early June.

  17. Anthony K Wikrent

    FFS, Jefferson Davis was never convicted of treason. Are you willing to argue that therefore Davis did not commit treason?

    1. Yves Smith

      Did you miss the civics lesson that describes a core principle of American jurisprudence, “innocent until proven guilty?” And the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt?

      Had you bothered checking (I take umbrage at being made to do research that the commenter should have made before engaging in assertions), US authorities dithered as to how to charge Jefferson Davis. And Davis thought he has a path to vindication:

      President Andrew Johnson’s cabinet was unsure what to do with Davis. They considered trying him by military court for war crimes—his alleged involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln or the mistreatment of Union prisoners of war at Andersonville Prison— but could not find any reliable evidence directly linking Davis to either. In late summer 1865, Attorney General James Speed determined that it was best to try Davis for treason in a civil criminal trial. In June 1866, the House of Representatives passed a resolution by a vote of 105 to 19 to put Davis on trial for treason. Davis also desired a trial to vindicate his actions. His defense lawyer, Charles O’Conor wanted to argue that Davis did not commit treason because he was no longer a citizen of the United States when Mississippi left the United States.[288] The trial was to be held in Richmond, which might be sympathetic to Davis, and an acquittal could be interpreted as validating the constitutionality of secession.


      Davis was imprisoned for two years and released on bail. Johnson gave all Confederate “participants in the rebellion” amnesty before his case was tried.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m certainly not willing to argue that the Civil War, 12 Apr 1861 – 9 Apr 1865 and the Capitol riot, 12:53pm – 6:14pm, January 6, 2020, were comparable events.

      It’s very simple. There’s a law on the books against insurrection. Neither the Democrat Justice Department nor any Democrat special prosecutor have charged him with it (nor any of the other J6 rioters).

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m certainly not willing to argue that the Civil War, 12 April 1861 – 9 April 1865 and the Capitol riot, 6 Januaru 2020, 12:53pm – 6:14pm, were comparable events.

      It’s very simple. There’s a Federal law on the books against insurrection. Neither the Democrat Justice Department nor any Democrat special prosecutor have charged Trump under it (nor any of the other J6 rioters). Why? Lack of personal and party animus? Hardly. Occams’s Razor compels the conclusion that they did not charge Trump with insurrection because they did not believe they could win. That is the prima facie case. Hence, complicated end runs like Colorado.

  18. VietnamVet

    The senility of Joe Biden is that he believes the propaganda of “Russian Aggression” that justifies the War Mongers’ increased profits at the expense of the lives of others and funds the opposing mercenary armies. The Russo-Ukrainian Russia War has brought the US Civil War and World War I forward into the 21st century where ruling the ideology is that “only money has value”. The soldiers in the trenches are replaceable until there aren’t any more alive.

    BP, Maersk Line – the shipping industry – have decided not to run the gauntlet into the Red Sea. The US doesn’t have the manpower or equipment to encircle Yemen and pacify the Houthis. More shortages and inflation are assured if Gazans keep being bombed by Israel until they are forced to move into the Sinai Peninsula.

    Ukraine and Gaza are fronts in WW3 that is already lost. It is just that no one with wealth is willing to pay the taxes to withdraw back to Fortress America and rebuild a government that serves the people rather than exploiting them into debt, sickness, and homelessness. A UN armistice, now, and constructing new DMZs along the edge of Eurasia are the only chance to restore good governance and preserve a western civilization that is poorer but is more equal, healthier, and provides shelter for its citizens.

  19. KLG

    Regarding lab work, BSL-2 means the following in practical terms (going from memory, since I have not needed to read the guidelines for several years for training students in proper lab procedure and behavior):

    The laboratory door has a lock (whether it is ever used or not)
    Used culture medium (liquid and agar) and culture dishes are treated with bleach and/or autoclaved (heated to 250F under pressure for at least 30 minutes) prior to being discarded
    Refrigerators have locks if they are used to store live cultures
    Lab personnel wear lab coats (when they feel like it; the cuffs can be problematic for the lab klutz)
    Lab personnel wear latex or nitrile gloves and eye protection (when they feel like it)
    No shorts or open-toed shoes (generally followed in all labs)

    Institutions and granting agencies require that you follow directions.

    A BSL-2 laboratory is required for all recombinant DNA work (cloning) IIRC, which has proven to be harmless (but was once a concern). It is not clear that “gain-of-function” research on a human pathogen would pass similar muster.

    Common bacterial strains used for recombinant DNA work are not viable outside laboratory culture media. This potential problem was addressed in the 1970s by Roy Curtiss and others. The common lab E. coli strains are harmless, but I wouldn’t recommend drinking them. I have worked with Entamoeba histolytica (amoebic dysentery) and Acanthamoeba castellanii (corneal keratitis) in my BSL-2 lab but the strains are attenuated and unable to infect humans unless you worked really hard at it. Same with the yeast strains I have used. The viruses were completely lame when it came to human infection but you were very careful at all times anyway. Otherwise none of your experiments would work.

    A BSL-2 laboratory can be considered in the same category as a commercial kitchen that is inspected by the local health department. Basically, wash your hands, don’t breathe on your cultures, maintain proper refrigeration, and above all don’t be stupid.

    BSL-2 laboratories are not for any potential human pathogen, bacterial, viral, fungal, protozoan. Period. Airborne viruses that can infect humans are most certainly not for BSL-2 laboratories. Those are for BSL-3 and BSL-4, where the requirements and standards are stringent and strictly maintained. And expensive in time, money, and infrastructure.

    I did work with one BSL-1 organism years ago. Requirements for that were wash your hands and don’t be stupid. Much like in your own kitchen. And those vegetables that have been washed and packaged? Wash them anyway.

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