2:00PM Water Cooler 12/26/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

White Stork, Strasbourg–Parc de l’Orangerie, Bas-Rhin, Grand Est, France. “Several pairs clapping on their nests.”

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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

“Tracking Section 3 Trump Disqualification Challenges” [Lawfare]. “The procedural posture and legal theories behind these challenges vary greatly, and a dismissal in any particular action does not necessarily bar other challenges from being brought in that same state.” Handy map:

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Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment:

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

So, “self-executing”?

“There are five judicial opinions out of Colorado on this Trump ballot thing” [Jarvis, ThreadReader]. “I think SCOTUS will reverse the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court, and will largely follow the dissent of Justice Samour. I think the SCOTUS decision will be either 9-0 or 7-2…. The trial court held that Section 3 did not apply to the President, and the trial court might be right. Justice Samour did not need to resolve that issue, though [in dissent]… Because of Section FIVE of the 14th Amendment. That section says hey — you know the whole insurrection thing we just talked about? How is this supposed to work? Who gets to decide who engaged in an insurrection? What sort of standard of proof applies? Is it a civil trial or a criminal trial? Is it a judge or a jury or someone else who decides that a particular person engaged in insurrection and therefore disqualified? What if they’re already appointed – do they still get paid while the proceedings are going on? The 14th amendment doesn’t answer any of these questions. Instead, Section 5 says that Congress gets to pass legislation to give enforcement power to carry out Section 3… And Congress did just that! Justice Samour points out that in 1870, Congress passed a law that allowed for both civil and criminal enforcement of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.” • This is an assault on the “self-executing” concept, since — arguably! — if Section Three were self-executing, Section Five would not be necessary. Interesting argument. More on both sides soon.

“The Meaning and Ambiguity of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment” (PDF) [Kurt Lash, SSRN].

[N]one of the multiple drafts of Section Three addressed whether the text could be enforced in the absence of congressional enabling legislation. Instead, key framers insisted that the text was not self-executing. For example, drafting committee member Thaddeus Stevens explained that Congress would have to pass enabling legislation since the Joint Committee’s draft of Section Three ‘will not execute itself.’… As far as enabling legislation is concerned, every time the subject arose the speak speaker presumed the necessity of such legislation. This was publicly announced understanding of Thaddeus Stevens, the view of Thomas Chalfant in the Pennsylvania ratifying debates, the view of Chief Justice Chase in Griffin’s Case, and the view of Lyman Trumbull during the passage of the 1869 Enforcement Act. I have not discovered a single person who thought the text was self-executing and capable of disqualifying a candidate prior to some kind of adjudication. It would have been surprising to find otherwise, given the Republican commitment to due process–a concern reflected in the opening section of the Fourteenth Amendment itself.”


“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” (PDF) [William Baude & Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law School]. The paper that started it all.

While Section Three’s requirements could be made the subject of enforcement legislation by Congress, under its general power under Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment “to enforce” the provisions of the amendment, no such legislation is constitutionally required as a prerequisite to Section Three doing what Section Three itself does. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase’s circuit court opinion to the contrary, In re Griffin,6 is simply wrong on this point—full of sleight of hand, motivated reasoning, and self-defeating maneuvers—as we will explain at length. In re Griffin should be hooted down the pages of history, purged from our constitutional understanding of Section Three.

Pounding the table? More:

55Professor Magliocca concurs. Magliocca, Amnesty, supra note 5, at 106 & n.101 (noting that “enacting enforcement legislation does not imply that legislation is required” and that the existence of Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment does not imply that the other sections are not self-executing). Indeed, this is especially so because Congress may have been responding to the decision in Griffin’s Case (wrongly) holding that such legislation was required for Section Three to have operative legal effect.

So Congressional intent is irrelevant if Griffin was “wrongly” decided? Who thought it was wrong at the time? If Section Five is a hood ornament. why include it at all?

* * *

“California secretary of state responds to calls to strike Trump from the presidential ballot” [CBS]. “California’s secretary of state issued a tepid response to the lieutenant governor’s call to strike Donald Trump’s name from the presidential ballot on Friday. ‘The former President’s conduct tainted and continues to sow the public’s mistrust in government and the legitimacy of elections, so it is more critical than ever to safeguard elections in a way that transcends political divisions,’ Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber wrote in an open letter to Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis… ‘Removing a candidate from the ballot under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is not something my office takes lightly and is not as simple as the requirement that a person be at least 35 years old to be president,’ Weber wrote. Weber did not indicate if she would fulfill Kounalakis’s request, claiming that the decision to omit or include Trump on the ballot must “be grounded firmly in the laws and processes in place in California and our Constitution.” • Hmm.

“Former federal judge: The Constitution will disqualify Trump from higher office, ‘not Joe Biden'” [The Hill]. Luttig: “It will be crystal clear to the American public that it’s the Constitution of the United States that’s disqualifying the former president from higher office, if he is to be disqualified. It’s not President Joe Biden. It’s not the Democrats. It’s not the anti-Trumpers.” • What a bizarre statement. The Constitution isn’t a scrap of paper, but it is a document; documents don’t do anything. Only humans, acting in their official capacities, can disqualify Trump. Lutting, in erasing that which relates the Constitution and the person — the office — makes a clever move; it’s precisely the corruption of office by party that makes Section Three disqualification so dangerous.

“The Colorado Court’s Ruling Banning Trump From the Ballot Is Sharp as Hell” [Elie Mystal. The New Republic]. “[Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment] doesn’t say ‘convicted’ of insurrection…. It says what it says: Government officers who engage in insurrection cannot be officers of the government again. Donald Trump engaged in insurrection. That’s not me saying it, or Jack Smith saying it; that’s what the first court to hear this case, the Colorado state court, ruled at trial a few weeks ago.” • So now a court ruling is the same as a trial? Really? You can bet Mystal would be thundering his outrage if another court, in a Red State, ruled the opposite. That’s why due process demands a trial, not a court ruling.

“The Liberal Plot Against Democracy” [Samuel Moyn, Compass]. “An equally grave concern is what happens in the short and long run when self-styled democrats refuse the grubbiness of democracy itself. I suspect the backlash to constitutionally disqualifying Trump would be enormous. If that happens, it isn’t clear “our democracy” will survive the storm into which a Colorado court might just have piloted the ship of state. Regardless, it would be a strange way of responding to the most plausible truth—among so many baleful lies—that Trump has stood for: that America’s ongoing crisis is a result of elite failure, which is never going to be addressed so long as popular control of politics is seen as worth circumventing, rather than reclaiming.”

“Republican lawmakers seek to bar Biden from state ballots in an act of retribution” [Washington Times]. Because of course. “Aaron Bernstine of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Cory McGarr of the Arizona House of Representatives and Charlice Byrd of the Georgia House of Representatives released a joint statement on Thursday announcing their plan to remove Biden from the 2024 general election ballots in those three states…. ‘Colorado radicals just changed the game and we are not going to sit quietly while they destroy our Republic. To be clear, our objective is to showcase the absurdity of Colorado’s decision and allow ALL candidates to be on the ballot in all states. To do that, we must fight back as Republicans against the communists currently running our great country.'” • Communists. I wish!


Less than a year to go!

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“What the Polls Said This Year: Trump’s Up, Americans Are Down” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “At this point, a long-shot Haley upset in New Hampshire followed by another a month later in South Carolina is the only foreseeable development that could deny Trump an early nomination (by mid-March). DeSantis is just scratching for survival in Iowa and doesn’t have much of a path to success after that…. ‘Direction of the Country’ polls typically measure whether respondents regard America as being on ‘the right track’ or ‘off on the wrong track.’ 2023 polling on this question reflects the general sour mood of the public. The right-track/wrong-track ratio in the RCP averages began the year at 29.7 percent ‘right track’ to 63.7 percent ‘wrong track’ and managed to deteriorate to 24.6 percent ‘right track’ to 68.7 percent ‘wrong track’ at present. That’s hardly atypical, though: Gallup’s long-term polling on ‘satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S.’ hasn’t shown a majority feeling good since May 2003. We’re a grumpy bunch of people.” • No, Ed, ffs. We’re a people with a lot of be grumpy about. The Iraq War began in March 2003. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment was — you guessed it — May 1, 2003. There’s your turning point, right there.

“Donald Trump faces many signs of potential political trouble; here are a few of them” [USA Today]. “Here are some of the things that can and will happen to Trump as he pursues the presidency again: [(1)]Adverse court rulings: The potential for legal trouble is all around Trump and could pop up any time… [(2)] Falling poll numbers; rising rivals…. [(3)] Bad voter reaction: The ultimate bad sign for Trump would come from voters. If Trump underperforms in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 15, and DeSantis does better than expected, that will embolden opponents. If Haley defeats Trump in the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23, that could totally change the race. Haley also has high hopes in her home state of South Carolina, which holds its Republican primary on Feb. 24. As they walk through a political minefield, Trump and his campaign aides said they are counting on a huge haul of delegates on March 5, the day of “Super Tuesday” primaries in more than a dozen states. They hope to have enough delegates to clinch the nomination after a March 19 set of big-state primaries that include Florida and Ohio.” • I’m picturing Haley v. Harris…. No problems on the gender front, but what a pair of mediocrities.

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“The seven counties that will help explain the 2024 election” [NBC]. NBC’s Political Unit will follow them. “Maricopa County, Arizona: Home to Phoenix, it’s the biggest and swingiest county in battleground Arizona…. Miami-Dade County, Florida: With Latinos making up a majority of its residents, this county was once reliably Democratic…. Gwinnett County, Georgia: This diverse county (30% Black, 20% Latino, 14% Asian) is where the Democratic Party has had one of its biggest increases in its vote share from 2008 to 2020…. Kent County, Michigan: Home to Grand Rapids, this once-reliable Republican county started breaking the Democrats’ way in the Trump era…. Washoe County, Nevada: Representing Reno, it’s the swingiest county in Nevada, and it’s where Republicans have to win if they want to flip this battleground in 2024….. ErieDane County, Wisconsin: Home to Madison and the University of Wisconsin, this county is all about the Democratic intensity in highly educated college towns.”

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“A flood of retirements is shaking up the 2024 battle for the House” [NBC]. “Retirement announcements often come after the holidays, as lawmakers discuss their next steps with their families and weigh whether to continue in an increasingly dysfunctional Congress. And because Democrats need a net gain of just five seats to take control of the House in 2024, every seat is going to matter, and the dynamics can shift if a race suddenly becomes an open contest. So far, 35 House members — 23 Democrats and 12 Republicans — have announced they are retiring or leaving the chamber to run for other offices, according to the House press gallery. That’s still behind the 49 House members who decided not to run for re-election in the midterms in 2022, a redistricting year, but it’s only one shy of the 36 who bailed before the 2020 election, with time to add more to the list. More Democratic lawmakers in competitive districts have retired, resulting in seven open seats that the Cook Political Report with Amy Walter rates as in play.”

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IA: “To beat Trump, Nikki Haley tries to expand coalition, and fast” [Reuters]. “Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley has risen in opinion polls in recent months largely on the back of college-educated, affluent, suburban professionals, many of whom have tired of Donald Trump’s caustic rhetoric and legal troubles.” • Oh gawd. Haley is the Republican PMC candidate. Haley v. Harris, here we come!

NH: “Trump rails after poll shows Haley within 4 points in New Hampshire” [The Hill]. “According to a December survey by American Research Group Inc. asking voters who their preference was in the Republican presidential primary, Trump earned 33 percent support. Haley earned 29 percent, a significant milestone for the former U.N. ambassador, who appears to have been gaining ground on Trump’s steady lead in the state; the gap between her and the former president was well within the poll’s margin of error of 4 points.” • American Research Group is a NH firm whose record is not excellent. Still, Eugene McCarthy didn’t beat LBJ in New Hampshire; coming close was enough.

NH: “Marianne Williamson questions Dean Phillips’ move to the left” (video) [WMUR]. “He says he’s for [Medicare for All] now, but there’s nothing in his three terms of Congress to indicte that.” • Fair! Damascene conversions are rare in politics….

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Black swan events are unpredictable by definition. So this video is odd:

Herridge, now at CBS, was Chief Intelligence Correspondent at FOX. Hmm.

“Meet the Americans Trying to Lower the Temperature in Politics” [Wall Street Journal]. :One conversation at a time, groups such as Braver Angels, which sponsored the discussion at its annual meeting this year, are aiming to lower the temperature in politics by encouraging Americans to leave their partisan corners and listen closely to those with differing views. They are part of a growing bridge-building movement that has drawn in tens of thousands of Americans as participants, many of whom see themselves as part of an ‘exhausted majority’ worried that the coarseness in politics is tearing the fabric of civic life.” Provenance of “exhausted majority,” from consultant Steve Schmidt through Tim Ryan to Dean Phillips. I’m exhausted too, but I don’t think for the same reasons. More: “These groups have won increased support from the donor community, including one alliance of right-of-center and liberal foundations that says it has raised about $40 million in less than three years toward a $100 million goal. They are also drawing from the work of social-science researchers at Stanford, Northwestern and many other universities who are testing which messages in ads and in-person conversations show the most promise in guiding American toward more productive forms of debate.” • Stanford, eh? So it’s a psy-op? NOTE If this “movement” had anything to do with deliberative democracy, which is promising, I’d be less jaundiced.

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:

d>. (“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.

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“Ukraine and Israel and the Two Joe Bidens” [Matt Duss, The New Republic]. “I heard President Biden’s October 20 Oval Office speech positing an equivalence between Israel and Ukraine, which I found misleading and, frankly, offensive. The reality is that Russia is occupying Ukraine to end Ukrainian self-determination, and Israel is doing the same to Palestine. “They’re not a real people and the land is really ours by right” is the position of both the Russian and Israeli governments regarding Ukrainians and Palestinians. Israel’s methods are not as extreme as Russia’s, and it’s very important to acknowledge that, but its goal is nonetheless the same: the prevention of the other’s independence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said explicitly that he had helped sustain Hamas in power in Gaza precisely because it served that goal. Many, including Israeli security officials, have been warning for years that it would lead to exactly what we’re seeing now: all-out war.” • Hmm.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why Did Harvard University Go After One of Its Best Black Professors? [Quillette]. Roland Fryer Jr. The article is interesting, but this factoid caught my eye: “Fryer’s first major published work, co-authored with Levitt, deconstructed the 1920s-era Ku Klux Klan…. [T]hey were surprised how expensive it was to become a KKK foot soldier: a $10 initiation fee, $6.50 for branded robes, a $5 annual membership charge, plus a mysterious yearly $1.80 ‘imperial tax.’ That’s equivalent to about $350 today—a lot of money for many of the joiners. Fryer tracked the money flow, and found that it fuelled lucrative paydays for upper management. An imperial ‘Kleagle‘ could pocket $300,000 a year (in 2006 dollars). D.C. Stephenson, the “Grand Dragon” of Indiana, made double that. The KKK has the look of what Levitt and Fryer call a ‘classic pyramid scheme,’ but for gullible racists.” • Hitler’s Nazis had to buy their own uniforms, too. I wonder if the Nazis got that idea from the KKK, just as they copied Jim Crow from us (see here “shirt movements” in interwar Europe, perhaps prefiguring the tactics of color revolutions).


“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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Vax-only fail:

And fail, fail again:

Vaccine harms are clearly real, but if they’re sending a signal, the signal is overwhelmed by Covid as such, at least for mortality:

Immune Dysregulation

“Single-cell RNA-Seq reveals intracellular microbial diversity within immune cells during SARS-CoV-2 infection and recovery” [Cell]. From the Abstract: “Intracellular microorganisms, like viruses, bacteria, and fungi, pose challenges in detection due to their non-culturable forms…. We utilized single-cell RNA-seq from PBMCs to probe intracellular microbes in healthy, SARS-CoV-2-positive, and recovered individuals… Staphylococcus aureus, Mycoplasma mycoides, Leptospira interrogans, and others displayed elevated levels in SARS-CoV-2-positive patients, suggesting possible disease association.” Oh, good. And: “An important finding from our analysis was that all the three bacterial species that are highly abundant in the recovered (B. aphidicola, C. beijerinckii, and E. canis) are opportunistic in nature. The increased abundance of opportunistic bacteria in the recovered might be attributed to the dysfunctional T cell response, as T cell dysfunction is associated with suppressed innate immune response.”


Executive dysfunction:

Science Is Popping

I ran this on December 22, but I’m running it again because I think it’s important:

Merry Christmas from Science. This is super interesting–

Cross-regulation of antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein and commensal microbiota via molecular mimicry Cell Host & Microbe. Granted, a mouse study (“monkeys exaggerate, and mice lie”). Nevertheless, the Abstract:

The commensal microflora provides a repertoire of antigens that illicit mucosal antibodies. In some cases, these antibodies can cross-react with host proteins, inducing autoimmunity, or with other microbial antigens. We demonstrate that the oral microbiota can induce salivary anti-SARS-CoV-2 Spike IgG antibodies via molecular mimicry. Anti-Spike IgG antibodies in the saliva correlated with enhanced abundance of Streptococcus salivarius 1 month after anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Several human commensal bacteria, including S. salivarius, were recognized by SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and induced cross-reactive anti-Spike antibodies in mice, facilitating SARS-CoV-2 clearance. A specific S. salivarius protein, RSSL-01370, contains regions with homology to the Spike receptor-binding domain, and immunization of mice with RSSL-01370 elicited anti-Spike IgG antibodies in the serum. Additionally, oral S. salivarius supplementation enhanced salivary anti-Spike antibodies in vaccinated individuals. Altogether, these data show that distinct species of the human microbiota can express molecular mimics of SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein, potentially enhancing protective immunity.


It is also evident that bacteria of the microbiota provide a vast repertoire of potential molecular mimics for the mucosal immune system, which may provide cross-reactive, pre-existing mucosal immunity against pathogens. Thus, commensal bacteria may contribute to the highly variable susceptibility of humans toward infection with the pathogen.


Apart from host-intrinsic factors, the initial virus load may affect disease outcome and severity, and there is increasing evidence of microbiota changes during severe COVID-19, suggesting that the microbiota composition may be a risk factor for the development of severe disease as well. The data are conflicting in terms of the genera associated with disease severity, which is probably due to the heterogeneity of the patient cohorts and differences in treatment. A common denominator is that acute COVID-19 is associated with the prevalence of opportunistic bacteria and depletion of immunomodulatory bacteria.


In summary, we here provide the first evidence that distinct bacteria of the microbiota of the oro-nasopharyngeal tract contribute to the regulation of mucosal immunity to SARS-CoV-2 by means of their molecular mimicry of the RBD of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein and that they support the persistence of salivary immunity.

Intriguing! As I keep saying, we don’t really know very much…

Here is a long thread on the article, suggesting regulating (?) commensal bacteria with probiotics:

FWIW, BLIS K12 seems to be sold out on Amazon. Readers?

I know that proibiotics (see here) tends toward the woo woo, but since the article is from the Liebniz Institute….

This makes me hopeful because it’s genuinely “outside-the-box” thinking. (I keep remarking on how little we know, but that’s actually an optimistic perspective because that means there’s a lot to learn!)

“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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* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, December 23:

Lambert here: Still going up. 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.

Regional data:

Regional split continues.


From CDC, December 23:

Lambert here: JN.1 now dominates. That was fast.

From CDC, December 9:

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, 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.


Bellwether New York City, data as of December 22:

Lambert here: That’s a very ugly upward slope, steeper, if my eyes do not decieve, than any previous. Will be interesting to see holidays, and post-holidays

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. December 16:

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.)

NOT UPDATED 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.

From CDC, traveler’s data, December 4:

Turning down.

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, December 4:

BA.2.86 turns down. 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 16:

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas improved to -9.3 in December of 2023 from -19.9 in the previous month, pointing to the lowest amount of pessimism in Texas manufacturing in one year.” • Oil bidness in better shape, then?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 79 Extreme Greed (previous close: 76 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 26 at 1:49:46 PM ET. Woo hoo.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Volcanoes. “A volcano erupts in Iceland after weeks of quake activity” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • What are they waiting for? A red heifer?

Class Warfare

“Gaza Ceasefire Protesters are Shutting Down Weapons Manufacturers” [Teen Vogue]. “According to organizer Lara Kiswani, she and other organizers had just a few hours to galvanize protesters to form a picket line at the port around 6 a.m. Kiswani is the executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), one of the organizations that led the demonstration…. AROC led the first #BlocktheBoat campaign, in 2014, alongside a coalition of local organizations, picketing for days and discouraging rank and file workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 from working ships owned by Zim Integrated Shipping Services, the largest Israeli cargo shipping company. In 2021, when a Zim vessel attempted to return to the Port of Oakland for the first time in seven years, ILWU 10 workers refused to cross he #BlocktheBoat community picket line, heeding the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions’ call for US labor unions to ‘boycott the Israeli occupation’ in part by ‘refusing to unload their ships.'” • The departing ship was delayed, but not stopped. Lots of detail in the article, which I am no longer surprised to see in Teen Vogue, and nowhere else.

Vote yourself a farm,” but no:

News of the Wired

“Watch sand defy gravity and flow uphill thanks to ‘negative friction'” [Ars Technica]. Here we go:

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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 Oguk:

Oguk: “Bees ‘n’ broccoli late fall New England.”

Kind readers, I’m running short of plants. More harvest photos like this one would be nice. Or snowy scenes. Or whatever! Thank you so much!

* * *

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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. Feral Finster

    “The Liberal Plot Against Democracy” [Samuel Moyn, Compass].

    Liberals are all in favor of democracy, complete with a weepy love for The Common Persyn, but only in the abstract, and only as long as the hoi polloi do as they’re told.

    Otherwise, they’re just deplorables.

  2. petal

    Checked mail today and there was a campaign mailer knocking Nimarata Haley. I’ll send pictures. I think it was sent by a Trump pac.

      1. petal

        Could always do them both on another day, now that there is one for and one against. There haven’t been mailers from any other candidates in a while, so I guess it’d now down to only those two. The notice is up in the PO about the primary.

        1. Kilgore Trout

          I’ve seen the anti-Haley ad run on Boston’s Channel 5, and I assume on WMUR. It claimins Haley raised the gas tax after saying she wouldn’t. It’s targeting that segment of the GOP/Libertarian Right for whom “taxes” are the only thing that matters. It always works at the state level: the “pledge” to disavow a “broad-based” sales or income tax is still the single most important thing a state-wide candidate in NH must do to remain viable.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              lol. nothing about the cray cray, then…or the zealot gleam in her eye.
              the handful of vids ive watched of her of late, she comes off like a more or less secular michelle bachman.

              oh…and now kamala is texting me, asking for $25.(quarter bag?…and how do these frelling people get my number any way?)
              i replied, fwiw:
              “renounce empire, restore the republic,rein in the corps, and then we can talk.
              we need a new new deal…and universal healthcare.
              otherwise, i aint voting for y’all. Jill Stein, 2024”

          1. Carolinian

            Haley has been gone for awhile and just when we Carolinians thought the nightmare was over Lambert keeps saying that name. The attack is probing her rep as a flipflopper because she was a Reagan Republican before she flopped into a ‘woman of color therefore don’t you want me for president’ Republican. So she said no taxes but then raised our low gas tax to pay for the roads that Repubs do indeed love since they often come with new union free industries. Similarly on the Confederate flag she was for it before against it…against Trump before being for him to further herself. Heck she would probably turn on Israel too if it would get her POTUS.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the “pledge” to disavow a “broad-based” sales or income tax is still the single most important thing a state-wide candidate in NH must do to remain viable.

            Totally the state we want as a gatekeeper. Although South Carolina is bad in a different way.

    1. IM Doc

      I got my mailer from Nikki Haley today. I instantly trash anything that comes with a return address of Washington DC. That is a sure sign that if you do decide to donate, the majority if not all your cash will be going to lobbyists and party insiders in DC.

      Imagine my surprise today when I noted the return address was a PO Box in Topeka, Kansas. Yes, TOPEKA. There must be an awesome grifting story there.

      Even more alarming is sad to say I am still registered D. Why on earth would I be on her mail list?

      1. Acacia

        Why on earth would I be on her mail list?

        Hmm. What’s to stop the GOP from playing their own version of the Chuck Schumer “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania…” game?

      2. JTMcPhee

        Doesn’t ActBlue or other Dem looters sell their (that’s how I’m sure they think of the mopes and muppets unfortunately “attached” to the Dem Brand (TM) ) mailing/texting/harrassment lists, or leak them by error or corruption, to anyone with the price?

      3. Pat

        Not to give Haley any real credit, but my personal opinion is that all political operatives and consultants have determined (accurately) that the party with the largest percentage of unhappy voters is the Democratic Party. That isn’t to say that there aren’t large numbers of Republicans looking at their Representation and going WTF, just that it has been a pretty disappointing few years if you wanted people friendly policies and actions from Democrats. The core 25% aren’t going anywhere but Biden, the rest however will consider other candidates. And with the party protecting Biden, the other candidates are largely not Democrats.

  3. petal

    Intel will build $25 billion chip factory in Israel’s ‘largest investment ever’
    Snip: “The Israeli government and Intel confirmed plans to build a $25 billion chipmaking factory in the south of the country, an investment Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as the biggest in Israel’s history.

    The American tech giant already employs 11,700 people in Israel and has invested more than $50 billion in the country over the last 50 years.

    Intel now wants to expand its existing chipmaking factory at Kiryat Gat — about 16 miles northeast of Gaza — undeterred by the October 7 attacks and the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Reuters earlier reported the news.

    “Intel has chosen to approve an unprecedented investment of $25 billion and to establish its new factory right here in Israel,” Israel’s finance minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote in a post on X on Tuesday.

    “This investment promises to foster high-quality employment opportunities with elevated productivity in remote areas and will significantly contribute to the growth of the Israeli economy,” he added.”

    1. vao

      I immediately asked myself “what kind of goodies might the Israeli government be providing to Intel”, and, reading the article, there was one in plain view:

      The Israeli government will provide a grant of $3.2 billion for the expansion of the Kiryat Gat plant, spread over several years, Israeli media reported.

    2. Wukchumni

      My brother in law who worked for the ‘Estes rocket factory’ in Tucson, related that it could take 18 months to make multi million $ missiles, on account of chip availability.

  4. Regis Tufarian

    “The Colorado Court’s Ruling Banning Trump From the Ballot Is Sharp as Hell”

    I don’t think that Trump should be removed from any ballot on account of Section 3.
    However, to say that a criminal conviction of insurrection is a necessary prerequisite to remove a person from the ballot goes too far, in my opinion.

    Robert E. Lee was never convicted of insurrection. Neither was Nathan Bedford Forest nor the vast majority of those who took up arms against the central government of the United States from 1861-65.

    Yet, if those people were not engaged in insurrection, then the word has no meaning. I don’t need a finding by a jury of 12 to know that those people were, in fact, engaged in insurrection.

    So, the question remains: Conviction or no conviction, was Jan. 6 an insurrection?

    Going by the precedent of the civil war, the answer is a resounding no.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Lash piece is full of good clean fun, and (according to Lash) is the first to put the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in context (“No work to date has presented a systematic investigation of the framing and ratification history of Section Three”). He writes:

      Despite text, structure, precedent, legal authority, and commonsense canons of interpretation, some scholars insist that Section Three cannot be reasonably read as excluding the office of President of the United States. Such an omission would be “absurd,” they insist, since it would allow rebels like Jefferson Davis to become President of the United States (or Donald Trump). These claims reflect concerns of the present, not those in play at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment. No one during the framing debates referenced the need to prevent the American people from electing the wrong person as President of the United States. Nor is there any evidence that the ratifiers had any such concern, much less read Section Three as addressing the ridiculous possibility of America electing Jefferson Davis President, Instead, ratifiers discussed the very real need to prevent states from sending Jefferson Davis or any other leading rebel to Congress.

      (So much for “But Jeff Davis….”). Hence failure to mention the President.

      1. Juancito

        These arguments all seem to ignore the career arc of Alexander Stephens. Vice president to Jefferson Davis who went on to hold office as a US Representative for Georgia in the 1870s.

        1. Pensions Guy

          Stephens in fact was one of the people who led to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment when, after the Civil War ended, Georgia elected him as a Senator, but the Senate refused to seat him and then began the debates which led to the Amendment. The Amnesty Act of 1872 did not include Stephens in the categories of former officeholders still prohibited from holding office under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Georgia then elected him as a Representative. https://constitutionalcommentary.lib.umn.edu/article/amnesty-and-section-three-of-the-fourteenth-amendment/

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they can try to prove that Trump is actually a real-life Confederate. Then those 160 year old laws could be put to use.

    3. Pensions Guy

      Trial lawyers love admissions in judicio, statements by a lawyer representing a litigant. Such admissions eliminate the necessity of proof and bar the party making the admission from contesting it. In that connection, we should consider the impact of this admission by President Trump’s counsel during the impeachment trial in the Senate. https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4946237/user-clip-mvdv-agrees-insurrection “everyone agrees [there was a violent insurrection]” This clip was offered at the Colorado hearing and was admitted into evidence.

  5. Kilgore Trout

    Matt Duss: “Israel’s methods are not as extreme as Russia’s.” I stopped skimming at that point. Just how far removed from reality can a “progressive” be? The subhead to the article asks whether a morally consistent foreign policy is possible. The short answer here is “Yes, but”… only when the sociopathic Neo-cons who guide foreign policy in the US are gone. Or the US fails as a state. Who wants to bet which comes first? “There never was a good war or a bad peace.” –Ben Franklin

    1. Feral Finster

      I read that and it became immediately obvious that the Matt Duss tool’s head is firmly and deeply lodged up the fundamental orifice of the PMC.

      Is this guy high?

      1. nippersdad

        Duss was Sanders’ primary foreign policy advisor, and the answer to why Sanders has always been so weak on foreign policy. That guy has been high for a very long time.

    2. nippersdad

      Also too:

      “The reality is that Russia is occupying Ukraine to end Ukrainian self-determination,” is something that I also “found misleading and, frankly, offensive.”

      Duss appears to have conveniently forgotten all of those years of warnings by Russia, failed agreements with Russia and referenda that Russia sponsored giving the Donbass the very self determination that Duss cannot see there. But, then, he does have much in common with Nuland and Blinken; they all have roots in Ukraine that they seldom find it convenient to mention.


      1. NN Cassandra

        IMO that line is stupid even on more fundamental level. The charge of genocide/ending of Ukraine by Putin is based on the fact that he calls Ukrainians the same people as Russians, brotherly nation, etc. I guess from the point of view of fanatics who hate Russians it’s haram to even suggest they are the same as Russians. Which, incidentally, is essentially the same position Israeli government/fanatics has regarding Palestinians.

        So for example Russia takes refugees from the war zone in Ukraine, but for some reason Israel doesn’t do the same with Palestinians, it instead hopes to ethnically cleanse them and scatter them around the world permanently. There seems to be quite significant difference between these two approaches.

        1. nippersdad

          Absolutely! In an apples to apples comparison: Russia gets kids out of the warzone, as is required under the Geneva Conventions, and it is condemned as a war crime at the UN. Israel deliberately kills ten thousand kids in a concentration camp, but it would be “anti-semitic” to point that out so the State Department tries to crush an investigation in Switzerland.


          Just when you think they can get no more repulsive, they tend to surprise you.

      2. herman_sampson

        And contrary to the Zionists suporting Hamas for years, it was NATO that was supporting Ukraine: or did NATO want Ukraine to disappear like the Zionists want the Palestinians to disappear?

    3. CA

      ‘ Matt Duss: “Israel’s methods are not as extreme as Russia’s.” ‘


      Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

      An argument I hear all the time from supporters of the Israeli government is “many German civilians were killed in the process of defeating the Nazis, it’s double standards when the world now blames us for killing civilians whilst we try to defeat Hamas”.

      Here’s why this argument is 100% wrong….

      11:28 AM · Dec 25, 2023

  6. Carla

    “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.”

    I’ve been meaning to provide an update to this comments for weeks. There is almost no masking AT ALL in Cleveland Clinic’s Hillcrest Hospital, and I can only assume this holds true for most of their Cleveland area facilities. The odd patient or healthcare “professional” who masks (whether with cloth, N95 or a baggy blue) stands out like a sore thumb.

    I have been told that in Cleveland’s University Hospitals, the area’s other major hospital system, about 10 percent of healthcare “professionals” are masked, but I do not have first-hand knowledge of this.

    Whether there are Covid-only areas in either hospital system where the people routinely mask, I have no idea…

    Covid is over. Haven’t we gotten the message YET? (A close relative of mine just tested positive with her first known Covid infection on Christmas day.)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Cleveland Clinic

      I don’t know what’s happened to Hospital Infection Control. They seem to have lost their minds:

      1. upstater

        Masks are optional at cancer centers in upstate NY. Several MDs and NPs had COVID (but not reporting for work) during my wife’s treatments. chemo, radiation, bone marrow… not a problem! A friend bought an in-home dialysis at great expense to avoid infections, COVIDand otherwise, at the huge, PE owned local dialysis centers.

  7. ChrisPacific

    Black Swan events have to be one of the most misused concepts out there. I bet Taleb regrets ever inventing the term. I think of them as consequences of model error – things that are predicted to be rare or impossible, but aren’t, because the model is based on incorrect assumptions, extrapolates from past conditions that no longer apply, or something similar. The term is instead popularly used to refer to acts of God or stuff that couldn’t possibly have been predicted, which is a complete misrepresentation.

    I thought maybe she was saying that the world is becoming more volatile (wars and internal division are indeed possible contributors to that) but then she talked about exploitation by adversaries like Iran or North Korea. So I think she’s saying that something big is going to go wrong, and preemptively laying blame on Russia, Iran, China etc. Judging by the last few years I’d say that’s just politics as usual, not a Black Swan at all.

    1. JBird4049

      I think that this is being very charitable as Black Swan events can be deliberately created; “they” have legislation to be passed as well as military/security/police state contingency planning ready to be used if something That Is Unacceptable happens, such as the King in Orange either wins the Oval Office or is stopped with legally dubious chicanery.

      It not just about His Orangness. He is merely the most obvious PMC horror. It looks increasing like the Thatcherite saying of TINA or there is no alternative to Neoliberalism is becoming gospel among the ruling class. They are determined to use any means including destroying the rule of law to keep it true.

      To be truthful, I do not know that this is true, but I would bet a great that it is.

      1. Jason Boxman

        If Trump wins and is denied that victory by liberal Democrats and the national security state, oooh boy… That’s gonna be something. Stay frosty.

    2. Lefty Godot

      I think she’s saying that something big is going to go wrong, and preemptively laying blame on Russia, Iran, China etc.

      I think it’s more like she’s guaranteeing something big is going to go wrong, because the plan is already in the works among her fellow travelers. Like Biden pre-confessing to the destruction of Nord Stream, these people can’t seem to avoid bragging in advance.

    3. LilD

      “black swan” was used for millennia* to mean something impossible
      Since “ everyone knows that all swans are white “

      Then Europeans got to Australia and oops.

      Taleb wrote a book but didn’t invent the term

      Now, it’s generally used to mean an extreme outlier.

      That’s fine, but the meaning of acts of god or unpredictable events is exactly the original meaning of the term.

      * possibly from Juvenal’s Satire VI,
      A rare bird on this earth, in the very likeness of a black swan;

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think of them as consequences of model error

      All models are wrong but some are useful, one of the more useful properties being the ability to say “Cans? Down the road? I don’t see any cans!”

    1. bobert

      Are you using cetylpyridium mouthwash or povidone nose spray like I am? Because they are like napalm on your oral biota. I don’t know if the probiotics can survive that…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Are you using cetylpyridium mouthwash or povidone nose spray like I am? Because they are like napalm on your oral biota

        Excellent point, and hard to research, since “biota” is woo woo-adjacent. I thought this article provided a good place to start:

        Antiseptic gargling solutions piqued my interest during the COVID pandemic. Indeed, the mouth and the oral microbiome could influence how sick someone got from SARS-CoV-2 and if it would kill them. Gargling with an antiseptic was recommended to reduce the spread of COVID. In India, a 1% solution of povidone-iodine as an antiseptic mouthwash/gargle, nasal drop, and eye drop reduced COVID hospitalizations by 84%, deaths by 88%, and viral clearance by 26-fold.5-7 Other experts recommended gargling with a 1% hydrogen peroxide solution to prevent the spread of COVID. On the flip side, having a healthy mouth with a healthy oral microbiome reduced the risks of this respiratory virus.8

        The mouth is a critical player in lung infections. What we breathe in from our mouth can infect the lungs and set off inflammation. So, keeping the mouth and throat healthy is critical for keeping the lungs healthy. But how we keep our mouths healthy is up for debate.

        So, “up for debate.” I had two random thoughts:

        1) Apply the “herbicide” (Povidone) after likely exposure. Wait, and the “weeds” (the biota) will grow back. However, this goes against my philosophy of developing a routine and sticking to it (instead of constantly doing homework and fiddling, as the PMC want me to do).

        2) Adjust the “herbicide” so that it is less lethal to the biota (but still lethal to Covid). For example, perhaps salt water is better.* (Or there’s a startup out there with an Iodine/biota combo, with a philosophy rather like RoundUp’s.) There is also the possibiity, as with nasal spray, that it’s the inasctive ingredient that’s doing the job — the simple act of rinsing and flushing could be enough. (I don’t think that’s true in dentristry, but that’s a different case; when they say “aerosol generating procedure” they really mean it!

        Readers, thoughts?

        NOTE * Another example: When I feel a cold coming on, one of the things I do is gargle with honey, a “natural” (hate that word) antibiotic. It’s hard to imagine honey acting like napalm).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          For salt, my dentist insists that salty water is the best and most effective mouthwash, but I’ve never gotten a full explanation from him for this. He just describes commercial mouthwashes as a waste of money. He always says that gargling with salt water before brushing your teeth gets the best result for inflammation.

          As suggested above, there is an infuriating lack of information on something that should be pretty basic when it comes to looking after your health – its been known for decades that there is a close relationship between oral health and general overall health and the biota is certainly part of that. There seems to be very little research on the relationship between gut health and oral health – I must admit I always assumed it was pretty much the same thing, but it does seem there are specific oral bacteria (like streptococci K12) which have potentially very powerful positive impacts on respiratory viruses.

          The research seems to suggest that oral mouthwashes in particular are short term beneficial for Covid, but long term… it seems very difficult for a non-specialist like myself to find any information on it.

      2. farmboy

        So a rotating slew of oral treatments is on my menu. Xylitol, and povidone for nasal treatments are sometime applications. I may isolate for days at a time, seeing no one. Still I got a nasty covid like infection in 2022, hospitalized, life flighted from one hospital to another, nearly dead, have a pacemaker now. I will work these probiotics into rotation.

  8. Jason Boxman

    Did my year end accounting, my grocery cost monthly is up $50/mo on average for the preceding 12 months. That’s Bidenomics at work!

    1. Wukchumni

      I related to my relatives that yours truly was gonna get the money, as in take my SS $ when I hit 62, and they gave me discouraging looks, why not wait until I was 67 and get more moolah, and I explained how I’d lost 30-40% in buying power in the past couple of years, why wait until the money was worth bupkis. so I could get more?

        1. Janie

          No, the raise us recalculated each year based on inflation. My raise is $62 on $2100 this year, and that’s a bit shy of 8 percent.

          1. Benny Profane

            Two different things. You’re talking about the COLA raises for those already receiving SS, which have been generous the past few years. The other poster is talking about a standard calculation that one would receive a sum 8% higher every year one delays starting SS withdrawals.

            I started at age 62, I’m now 71. I just wanted to not have to wake up at 6am to go make someone else rich. No more Maggie’s farm. I calculate that I have received about 200,000 gross in that period, so you have to factor that in. How long will your extra earnings make it a wash? Six, maybe ten years? You’ll be 80, if you live that long. Meanwhile, I haven’t worked and travelled for a decade, while I still can.

  9. antidlc


    Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH
    Anyone can develop Long Covid — even our kiddos. The updated Covid vaccine remains the best protection against severe illness and reduces your child’s risk of developing #LongCOVID! See the latest

    No mention of masking or ventilation, but why did she post that anybody can develop long covid?

      1. JBird4049

        >>>What part of “immune dysregulation” does she not understand?

        I think that Upton Sinclair gave the answer: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

        Doctor Cohen’s job as Director of the CDC depends on her saying and doing all the right things. These things, at least with Covid, does not mean maintaining the welfare of her fellow Americans. I believe that she knows about the immune dysregulation, but believes losing her soul is worth the price of admission to her position and status. And I mean losing her soul literally.

        There is also a small chance that she is actually insane, but I don’t think so.

        Helping with the transmission of an Aerial AIDS. What a delightfully horrific thought.

    1. XXYY

      I have never heard that covid vaccines had any effect on the incidence of long covid. Of course, they do/did appear to reduce the incidence of hospitalization, but that is old news.

      Amazing that the head of the CDC is not a source of good information on disease control.

  10. Roger Blakely

    It looks as though this year’s January wastewater peak is going to be just as high as last year’s January wastewater peak. SARS-CoV-2 isn’t going away. SARS-CoV-2 is just as prevalent this year as it was last year.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > this year’s January wastewater peak is going to be just as high as last year’s January wastewater peak

      If we’re lucky. Perhaps our collective experiment in serial passage through an entire population will work out well!

  11. The Rev Kev

    ‘Chief Nerd
    👀 Catherine Herridge Predicts a ‘Black Swan Event’ in 2024’

    Thought to check on who she is exactly when at home and found that all she is is a newsie-


    But blind Freddy can tell you that next year that there is going to be a ****storm, errr, a banquet of consequences as decades of ill-informed policies and ambitions all fall over. The Ukraine, Israel, the economy, maybe Taiwan, the border region – and all happening in an election year when the government will be in election mode. Of course she ends her warning by dragging in North Korea China and Iran so maybe she thinks that those three countries will invade America like a “Red Dawn 2” redux.

    1. Greg

      I am assuming that when Lambert says

      “Herridge, now at CBS, was Chief Intelligence Correspondent at FOX. Hmm.”

      the gist is that being an intel correspondent == being a mouthpiece for deep state shenanigans. So joining the dots recklessly, an announcement of intent? The Orange Man Must Go?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > an announcement of intent

        That was my reading, too. Ignatius must have been busy. Or perhaps the message is to conservatives*, since she was from FOX before her apostasy? Presumably those with a need to hear are hearing it… Or not!

        NOTE I assume Trump has a food-taster. And though I’m sure he pays his mechanics well, somebody’d better start walking the outside of the plane….

  12. Jason Boxman

    Walk today, heard one small child coughing. At grocery store, one worker and two customers coughing. One surgical mask. I rarely used to hear anyone cough that I recall maybe more attuned now. We’re at the end of the beginning with no mitigations and multiple infections per year per person. We’ll see how long this endures. Maybe 3-5 more years of ignorance? No mention of having the tools this year, for we have none apparently.

  13. Hank Linderman

    I’ve been part of Braver Angels for more than a year – one thing it isn’t yet is an “action” organization. But, you do get to mix with lots of folks you’d normally disagree with who are willing to become neighborly, friendly, and even friends – despite differences.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’ve been part of Braver Angels for more than a year –

      Truly the NC commentariat is the best commentariat. Can you give more detail on your experience?

      I wonder if the reference is to Lincoln’s first inaugural address:

      I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

      I assume “braver” because peer pressure and party affiliation means it’s not easy to be “better” for those who would wish to be.

      1. Mark Dempsey

        Lambert, see my comment below (if it ever gets out of moderation). It was called “Better Angels” when the seminar first came out, but they changed the name.

        As happy as I am that a NC reader is attending these meetings, personally, I think “Braver Angels” is marketing disguised as a political discussion. Sort of like TSA – “security theater” – the agency that misses 95% of the test bombs.

        The depth of political intransigence in the crowd who attended my event was surprising. One example: I told them socialism–public ownership–provided better outcomes. Our local electricity producer–SMUD–is publicly owned, while PG&E is privately owned. SMUD’s electricity is roughly 30% cheaper than PG&E’s and SMUD execs aren’t consulting with criminal attorneys to avoid charges of negligent homicide. PG&E caused several bad fires, and a gas line explosion in San Bruno because of their skimping on maintenance..

        “So…Socialism,” I said, “It works better and it’s cheaper.” When I said this, especially team red had eyes as big as saucers. One of team blue told me “No one wants to hear what you have to say, Mark.” Another blue team member said “Well, that’s you’re opinion.”

        There are solutions for many problems, but I’d submit willful ignorance is not a problem amenable to solving.

  14. Carolinian

    Come January Mickey becomes public property.


    Jenkins points to an explosion of creative glosses on “The Great Gatsby” after Fitzgerald’s novel entered the public domain in 2021: “New works such as Michael Farris Smith’s prequel ‘Nick,’ which tells the backstory of Nick Carraway, ‘Self-Made Boys,’ a young-adult ‘Great Gatsby remix’ centering on trans love, ‘The Gay Gatsby’ and ‘The Great Gatsby Undead’ (the zombie edition).”

    Think I missed all of those.

  15. VietnamVet

    A black swan in 2024 has become a prediction, almost a certainty, since WW3 has erupted in Ukraine and Gaza. Deterrence failed. Being the hegemon meant that only the Western Empire, since 9-11-2001, could invade and overthrow regimes in the war on terror. Not anymore. The USA cannot do anything about Russia’s and Israel’s invasions. Invading Yemen to pacify the Houthi or transferring confiscated Russian assets to Ukraine will only make things worse. Western Corporate Globalism is in a fatal dive. The closure of the Suez Canal to energy and global logistic shipping will speed it up.

    Indeed, the only way out, is to sign an Armistice like in Korea in 1953 and restart the Second Cold War with manned DMZs around the edge the Eurasian Axis. Except this time, the West is 33 trillion dollars in debt, losing access to Middle East petroleum, and its manpower is depleted by drugs, homelessness, obesity and long COVID. Only the restoration of a constitutional democratic republic will avoid a third American revolution that has been heating up to a near boil in 2023. The current year-end summaries point out the dysfunction of the current Congress and the elevation of Mike Johnson with the least leadership experience in history be Speaker.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > A black swan in 2024 has become a prediction, almost a certainty, since WW3 has erupted in Ukraine and Gaza

      Herridge was the intelligence correspondence for FOX. To me, spook-adjacent = spook asset, so I assume she’s issuing a warning, rather than a prediction. A signal of some sort, not sure from or to whom.

  16. Mark Dempsey

    I actually attended a “Braver Angels” seminar pre-COVID (and have written about it here)

    The set up is “Here’s a box, with team blue and team red, start thinking inside it.”

    My own team (blue) told me to shut up when I brought up anything outside the two obvious answers (red or blue) to all public policy questions.

    The red team leader, a member of the County’s Republican Central Committee, with a name I couldn’t make up, Jack Frost, said he believed Republicans needed better marketing. I thought “Yeah, Jack, better BS and manipulation, that’s what the public’s hungry for.”

    My experience with most political clubs is that they’re uninterested in solving public policy problems. They’d rather huddle around the fire and affirm their tribal membership. Solving problems is a distant concern.

    Meanwhile, Jack’s parting comment is worth a look. He said “I’m regretful Republicans didn’t do more to reduce national debt.” The “regretful” part is actually masterful marketing. He’s asking us to ignore the Republican record on deficits (“Reagan proved deficits don’t matter” – Dick Cheney), and humbly begging us to reach across the aisle and unite in cutting Social Security and Medicare (the actual agenda).

    My only regret is that I only thought of these great answers long after the seminar was over.

  17. XXYY

    I have never heard that covid vaccines had any effect on the incidence of long covid. Of course, they do/did appear to reduce the incidence of hospitalization, but that is old news.

    Amazing that the head of the CDC is not a source of good information on disease control.

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