2:00PM Water Cooler 12/5/2023

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Undulated Tinamou, Cachuelita; Rio Tahuamanu. Lots going on, including a buzzing insect and, I swear, a train whistle.

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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

Biden Administration

Ah, the famous Biden “empathy”:


Less than a year to go!

* * *

“No, Trump Did Not Say ‘We’ve Been Waging an All-Out War on American Democracy'” [Snopes]. “Given the context of the remark (he was talking about Democrats), Trump presumably meant to say, ‘They’ve been waging an all-out war on American democracy,’ but flubbed the sentence such that he actually said, per the audio recording, ‘We’ve been waging an all-out war in American democracy.'” • What a shame, and so much frothing and stamping.

“A Warning” [Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic]. A banner: “In The Atlantic’s January/February 2024 issue, 24 writers imagine what a second Trump term would look like.” • An entire issue! (“If Trump Wins” — “The staff of The Atlantic on the threat a second term poses to American democracy”). They’ve already worked themselves into a lather. What’s it going to be like a month before election day?

“Trump Is Attacking Biden With Lies—and Getting Away With It” [Michael Tomasky, The New Republic]. “Will it work? Only if the Democrats let it…. First, I’ve been covering these people for a long, long time, and this is always, always, their first reflex: not to go toe-to-toe with the Republicans. Not to mix it up…. Second, imagine the Republicans in a similar situation. You think they’d say, No, we don’t need to attack? Of course they wouldn’t. And we can debate until the cows come home whether, say, all those Benghazi hearings and investigations were effective. I don’t know. But I do know that Hillary Clinton didn’t become president, and I feel certain that just dragging her up there for hearings, even though she largely ate their lunch, still created in swing voters’ minds a picture of a woman always on the defensive, always having to answer for something (again, every single allegation was false, but that didn’t matter).” • Preaching to the choir; the party of RussiaGate doesn’t have a whole lot to say about lying. In any case, it seems to me that by not electing Clinton, an active member of The Blob, we avoided war in the Middle East (remember the “No Fly” zone?), and, looking back, probably Ukraine as well. Avoided for four years at least. Not such a bad thing!

“Trump tries to turn the tables — but swing voters won’t be convinced by his ‘war on democracy’ remix” [Heather Digby Parton, Salon]. “This is Trump’s one true talent. He instinctively understands the power of turning his own flaws into his rivals’ and then criticizing them for it. Psychologists call this ‘projection’ and it is. But it’s more than that. Trump is corrupt and incompetent and he’s projecting that onto Biden to be sure. But he’s also feeding the cynic\ism that has overtaken our political culture.” • This mentality is very strange. Trump is simultaneously very weak (“Trump’s one true talent”) and immensely powerful (“most important election of our lifetime,” though not stated by Parton).

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“Here’s the ‘Jan. 6 Jurisprudence’ About to Be Unleashed on Trump” [Julie Kelly, RealClearPolitics]. “While Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team and Trump’s counsel spar over a number of issues, perhaps the biggest dispute will concern whether it will be possible to seat an impartial jury for the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee in a city that voted 92% for Joe Biden in 2020…. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya S. Chutkan recently set a jury selection schedule for Smith’s four-count indictment against Trump for the events of Jan. 6. She ordered both parties to begin developing a questionnaire, due Jan. 9, 2024, that hundreds of D.C. residents will be asked to complete so the court can begin the initial step of weeding out unqualified jurors… Trump’s lawyers are not discussing their strategy publicly, but sources have indicated to RealClearInvestigations that the defense will file a change of venue motion in the next month or two. Given the partisan composition of Washington, saturation coverage of the former president’s ongoing legal woes, and the city’s relatively small population, Trump will have a strong argument in favor of moving the trial outside of the nation’s capital. Yet a review of Jan. 6 cases to date suggests the odds are against that. Not a single judge on the D.C. District Court has granted a change of venue motion even for high-profile trials such as those for members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, the so-called “militia” groups involved in the Capitol protest.”

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“US Muslims launch anti-Biden campaign ahead of 2024 presidential election” [Anadalu Agency]. “Muslims in the US have launched a campaign against President Joe Biden’s bid for re-election in 2024 over his support for Israel in its war against the Palestinian group Hamas. A group of Muslim leaders from Michigan, Minnesota, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania gathered over the weekend in Dearborn, Michigan to launch the campaign. The campaign aims to encourage voters to withdraw their support for Biden due to his ‘unwillingness to call for a cease-fire and protect innocents in Palestine and Israel,’ it said in a statement…. The organizers emphasized that Muslim community leaders would collaborate to ensure Biden’s defeat in these states.” • Swing states. I’m not sure Biden thought this through.

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“Comer Releases Direct Monthly Payments to Joe Biden from Hunter Biden’s Business Entity” (press release) [House Committee on Oversight and Accountability]. Theory of the case: “The House Oversight Committee has identified over 20 shell companies and uncovered how the Bidens and their associates raked in over $24 million dollars between 2015 and 2019 by selling Joe Biden as ‘the brand.’ Financial records obtained show Hunter Biden’s business account, Owasco PC, received payments from Chinese-state linked companies and other foreign nationals and companies. Payments to Joe Biden from Hunter’s Owasco PC corporate account are part of a pattern revealing Joe Biden knew about, participated in, and benefited from his family’s influence peddling schemes. As the Bidens received millions from foreign nationals and companies in China, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Kazakhstan, Joe Biden dined with his family’s foreign associates, spoke to them by speakerphone, had coffee, attended meetings, and ultimately received payments that were funded by his family’s business dealings.”

“The Hunter Biden Saga Continues” [Wall Street Journal]. “House Republicans just took two big steps toward impeaching President Biden. The first came on Saturday, when Speaker Mike Johnson said he has the votes to approve a impeachment inquiry into the president, which would make official then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s declaration of one back in September. The second came Monday, when Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer made public a subpoenaed bank record showing that Joe Biden received in 2018 at least three direct monthly payments of $1,380 from Hunter Biden’s firm, Owasco PC. This comes on the heels of last week’s news that a bank investigator raised red flags in June 2018 about what Oversight says was ‘money from China that ultimately funded the $40,000 check’ to Joe Biden from his sister-in-law.” • These are all small sums, but then the Biden clan are cheap grifters. More interesting is what the money comes not from Hunter — dear Hunter! — personally, but from (one of) his firm(s), into which money from who-knows-where flowed (China, probably).

“House GOP Reveals Payments From Hunter to Joe Biden” [RealClearPolitics]. “The White House was unaware Monday afternoon of the latest revelation from the House Oversight Committee: previous, reoccurring payments from Hunter Biden to his father…. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, however, was not unaware of the payments. They were for a truck. ‘There Chairman Comer goes again – reheating what is old as new to try to revive his sham of an investigation,’ Abbe Lowell said in a statement to reporters. ‘The truth is Hunter’s father helped him when he was struggling financially due to his addiction and could not secure credit to finance a truck. When Hunter was able to, he paid his father back and took over the payments himself.’ More specifically, the payments were for a high-performance pickup truck, a Ford Raptor.” • Lowell is wrong, in fact lying. Dear Hunter didn’t pay his father back. His law firm did. The amounts, however, are trivial, only 2.3 times the $600 Joe Biden owes me. Surely, with the bank records in his possession, Comer can do better than this?

“Comer mischaracterizes Hunter Biden car payment reimbursement to his dad” [WaPo]. “Joe Biden signed for the truck and had it in his name — at a time when Hunter was in the depths of addiction, had a low credit score and couldn’t make the purchase himself, according to a person close to the Bidens, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private matter. The truck was used only for a limited time, going back to the dealer about a year after the purchase.” • WaPo recycles Lowell’s misdirection. Hunter didn’t pay anything. His law firm did. And the law firm made its money how?

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“DeSantis says he will win Iowa” [Politico]. Iowa is January 15. Close! DeSantis on Meet the Press: “We’re going to win Iowa. I think it’s going to help propel us to the nomination.” • I dunno. It’s possible that DeSantis can set himself up for a “Comeback Kid” narrative a la Bill Clinton in NH, 1992, and the press might even play along — DeSantis is a persistent cuss, still hanging around, I’ll give him that — but an outright win? I don’t think so.

“DeSantis Sets Himself Up for Humiliation in Iowa” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “Given the many troubles afflicting the DeSantis campaign and his two super-PACs lately, perhaps he thought calling his shot…. .would serve as a tonic for his beleaguered troops. But the reality is that, barring a miracle, he’s almost certainly not going to beat Donald Trump in Iowa. He trails the former president by nearly 30 points in the RealClearPolitics polling averages for the first-in-the-nation caucuses. And while there have certainly been upsets in Iowa before, no one has come back from that big a deficit this late in the day, particularly against a front-runner like Trump with an intensely committed base of support and few apparent vulnerabilities that he hasn’t already refuted. DeSantis’s real challenge in Iowa, moreover, is to hold second place against Nikki Haley, who has been gaining on him in the polls there (actually tying him in the most recent gold-standard Iowa Poll from the Des Moines Register, NBC News, and Mediacom) and passing him as if he’s standing still in polling of New Hampshire and South Carolina.” • Nikki Haley, whose support is totally organic….

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“R.F.K. Jr. Allies Say They’ll Spend Over $10 Million on Ballot Access” [New York Times]. “A super PAC backing the independent presidential candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is planning to spend $10 million to $15 million to get Mr. Kennedy on the ballot in 10 states, a substantial effort that, even if partly successful, could heighten Democratic concerns about his potential to play the role of spoiler in 2024….. The super PAC, American Values 2024, has raised at least $28 million… The states, which include several battlegrounds, are among the country’s most populous and carry, between them, 210 Electoral College votes — Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York and Texas.” Hmm. Too bad RFK threw away the Muslim vote. More: “Marc Elias, one of the Democratic Party’s leading election lawyers, has been retained by the super PAC American Bridge to vet third-party and independent candidates’ ballot access in battleground states where such candidates could damage Mr. Biden.” • Elias is a real piece of work (Elias was the cut-out between the Clinton campaign and Fusion GPS, which procured the Steele memo).

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IA: “Preference cards will give Iowa Democrats four options for president” [Bleeding Heartland]. “Registered Democrats who participate in the 2024 Iowa caucuses by mail will be able to select one of four options for president. The Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted on December 2 to ratify presidential preference cards that will list President Joe Biden, U.S. Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, author Marianne Williamson, and ‘uncommitted.’ Biden, Phillips, and Williamson were the only candidates who submitted a letter requesting to list their names on the preference cards, Stephen Gruber-Miller reported for the Des Moines Register. Uncommitted has always been an option at Iowa Democratic caucuses, and won the most delegates in 1976. In recent decades, few caucus-goers have chosen to stay uncommitted. The party is not calling the preference cards ‘ballots,’ in part to avoid upsetting New Hampshire officials who jealously guard that state’s law guaranteeing the first primary in the country. Although the cards will be tallied like ballots are, the caucus is a party-run operation, not an election administered by county and state officials.” • Cornel West blew it….

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.

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We get email:

The “most honest” claim may in fact be correct, since the claim that Democrats have overperformed at the state level is true (and bonus points for the Oxford comma). Interestingly, “workers and families” is a new locution, akin to the horrid “working familes” but implying the possibility of workers without (conventional) families; a nod to younger voters? Or maybe the change is a random blip, froth in the multiverse, because “we can’t afford [to have] state legislative races fly under the radar” certainly isn’t English, making me thinking the Democrats have a shiny new AI.

“Class Conflict and the Democratic Party” [Musa Al-Gharbi, The Liberal Patriot]. “The key schism that lies at the heart of dysfunction within the Democratic Party and the U.S. political system more broadly is between professionals associated with ‘knowledge economy’ industries and those who feel themselves to be the ‘losers’ in the knowledge economy—including growing numbers of working-class and non-white voters.” And:

Similar patterns held in 2020: the occupations and employers with the largest number of workers who donated to the Biden-Harris campaign included teachers, educators and professors, lawyers, medical and psychiatric professionals, people who work in advertising, communications and entertainment, consultants, human resources professionals and administrators, architects and designers, IT specialists and engineers. Industries that provided the highest total contributions to the Democrats included securities and investment, education, lawyers and law firms, health professionals, non-profits, electronics companies, business services, entertainment, and civil service.

Of course, these “workers” are not limited to the “knowledge economy” (which I suppose is a candidate for the semantic space once occupied by Richard Floria’s “creative class” back in 2008). These are the PMC. Obviously, there’s no serious class analysis going on here; Al-Gharbi is just stringing together buzz-phrases. More:

The increasing dominance of knowledge economy professionals over the Democratic Party has had a range of profound impacts on the contemporary U.S. political landscape. First and foremost, it has contributed to a growing disconnect between the economic priorities of the party relative to most others in the U.S., especially working-class Americans. As sociologist Shamus Khan has shown, the economics of elites tend to operate “counter-cyclically” to the rest of society, meaning that developments that tend to be good for elites are often bad for everyone else and vice versa.

As the article title suggests, an amusing reinvention. Anyhow, I can’t bear to read any more. Hilariously, we’re all Thomas Frank now, including quondam identity politics maven Ruy Teixeira, whose blog this is.

“‘Time to Be Bold’: Advice for Democrats from a Quietly Powerful Governor” [Politico]. Tim Walz is the Democrat governor of Minnesota. “People often use the DGA chairmanship as a way to build a national fundraising network as they think about running for president, so should we read anything into your move here? WALZ: Well, I’m flattered that you would say so. No, I just believe in the DGA. I want to give back. I’ve seen the effectiveness of it. They helped me in my race. But also, I’m a firm believer now that governors do make a difference. We saw it in Minnesota, we saw it in Michigan, we saw it in Colorado. We see these trifecta states improving folks’ lives, and so this is my way to give back. I believe in the organization. And I’m just honored to do it. But you’re not ruling anything out in the future? [WALZ] I have a friend of mine who always said, ‘Don’t ever turn down a job you’ve never been offered.’ So, my job is to focus on this, and to be honest, I’ve got 11 races next year and that is my focus.” • Nudging his hat toward the ring?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Jacobin once again endorses Sweden’s “herd immunity” COVID policies” [WSWS]. “Jacobin was a key voice in supporting ‘herd immunity’ from the beginning. First, in September 2020 Jacobin promoted and interviewed Martin Kulldorf, the Swedish-American academic who co-authored the Great Barrington Declaration that sanctioned mass infection with COVID-19 even before the rollout of vaccines. In a passage from the interview, approvingly retweeted by Jacobin publisher Bhaskar Sunkara, Kulldorff declared, ‘The lockdown is the worst assault on the working class in half a century.'” I would have thought the hundreds of thousands of deaths were? But maybe that’s just me. More: “Soon after his interview with Jacobin, Kulldorf held a private meeting with Donald Trump to advise him on his COVID-19 response, which centered on fully reopening schools, discouraging masking and promoting large public gatherings to facilitate the spread of the virus. Also present at the meeting were GBD co-authors Jay Bhattacharya and Sunetra Gupta, as well as Scott Atlas and Joseph Ladapo.” Super ugly. WSWS has Jacobin dead to rights on this. And: “These forces, whether Jacobin, Vänsterpartiet (the Left Party), the Swedish Social Democrats, the DSA, or various other pseudo-left groups around the world, do not represent the working class and are not socialists. Their leadership is stock full of middle-class careerists for whom the pandemic has largely been seen as an unfortunate accident, an annoyance, perhaps a tragedy, but all-together something in the past and unavoidable.” • Correct, though one would think that a Marxist-adjacent publication like WSWS would avoid the mushy term, “middle class.”


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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“Child mask mandates for COVID-19: a systematic review” [BMJ]. A meta-study. “We screened 597 studies and included 22 in the final analysis. There were no randomised controlled trials in children assessing the benefits of mask wearing to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection or transmission. The six observational studies reporting an association between child masking and lower infection rate or antibody seropositivity had critical (n=5) or serious (n=1) risk of bias; all six were potentially confounded by important differences between masked and unmasked groups and two were shown to have non-significant results when reanalysed. Sixteen other observational studies found no association between mask wearing and infection or transmission. Real-world effectiveness of child mask mandates against SARS-CoV-2 transmission or infection has not been demonstrated with high-quality evidence.” • If we assume [genuflects] RCTs to be “high-quality,” not a given. This study is, naturally, being trumpeted by eugenicsts like Monica Ghandi, who performs the usual rhetorical trick of transforming “has not been demonstated” into “does not.” Ghandi, perhaps unfairly, makes this study suspect in my eyes; so does all the faffing and moaning about needing to see children’s faces. In any case, regardless of the study’s validity, one would think that inappropriateness of masking for (say) children under five would make it all the more important for other non-pharmaceutical interventions, like ventilation, air filtration, adults wearing masks, and so forth. Oddly, or not, the eugenicists never take this extra step.

Immune Dysregulation

Light breaking through, if a bit late:


“The counterintuitive implications of superspreading diseases” [Nature]. Important! “Our recent theoretical studies have shown that superspreading plays a profound role in determining the most effective strategies to curb a disease outbreak…. Specifically, we found that mitigation strategies that reduce contacts in public spaces are vastly more effective when superspreading is a key driver of high average transmissibility (R0). Consequently, the closing of venues such as concert halls and bars can significantly curb the spread of a superspreading respiratory pathogen, while the same measures may do little to halt a non-superspreading pathogen with the same basic reproductive number. The origin of this effect lies in the statistics of superspreading, which somewhat counterintuitively imply that most infected individuals do not become very infectious. Thus, mitigation of a superspreading disease relies on either a) directly targeting interventions at superspreaders or b) limiting the number of contacts that the typical infected individual has. The former strategy depends on being able to a priori identify the superspreader—often practically impossible [due to Covid’s aymptomatic nature]—while the latter does not.” IMNSHO, the whole notion and framing of “lockdowns” was stupid. One needed to look at venues and their ventilation characteristics (Japan’s 3Cs) and shut down on that basis, not on the basis of venue function (i.e., some churches would stay open, others would not, and the one’s that were closed would have the choice of making the changes to keep the public safe). Ah well. More: “Therefore, it is critical to distinguish between superspreading as a consequence of social behavior/contact rate heterogeneity, and superspreading rooted in biological factors, all of which may affect susceptibility as well as infectiousness. At present, the exact etiology of the superspreading phenomenon remains incompletely understood.” • Well worth a read.

“Superspreader” [IMDB]. “During the COVID-19 lockdowns, an Evangelical Christian singer stands up for religious liberties by holding mass outdoor worship concerts.” • Dear Lord.


“Gray Matter Thickness and Subcortical Nuclear Volume in Men After SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Infection” [JAMA]. From the Key Points: In this cohort study of 61 male patients with Omicron infection, the gray matter thickness in the left precuneus and right lateral occipital region and the ratio of the right hippocampus volume to the total intracranial volume were significantly reduced in the acute phase. Gray matter thickness and subcortical nuclear volume injury were significantly associated with anxiety and cognitive function.” • So, literal brain damage. Alrighty then.

“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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Elite Maleficence

CDC plays “the green map” trick a second time, green being far more relaxing than the red it replaced (MV):


I confess I didn’t see or raise the color issue; I liked the “shades of gray” scale, because it enables me to distinguish high levels (black) from low (light grey). But the critics are correct about the “soothing” agenda, and not using red to signal danger is a real loss (though for me the more colorful versions don’t work as high-to-low scales). Anyhow, suffice to say that there is a vast literature on this topic in the design field, which I have not mastered, but suffice to say that CDC butchered the job, and for their usual bad motives.

One more comment on the scale:

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, November 27:

Lambert here: Case counts moving smartly upward (and tinfoil hat time: This is the, er, inflection point CDC was trying to conceal when they gave the contract to Verily and didn’t ensure a seamless transition).

Regional data:

That Midwest near-vertical curve is concerning, although as ever with Biobot you have to watch for backward revisions.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, November25:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, but BA.2.86 coming up fast on the outside.

From CDC, November 11:

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, November 25:

Lambert here: Slight increases in some age groups, conforming to wastewater data. 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 5:

Steadily up. New York state as a whole looks more like a spike. (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. November 25:


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?


From Walgreens, December 4:

0.2%. Up. (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 2:

Lambert here: Increase (with backward revision; guess they thought it was over). 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, November 13:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, November 6:

BA.2.86 20% of the the total last week, 25% of the total this week.


Total: 1,184,159 – 1,183,754 – 1,183,664 = 405 (405 * 365 = 147,825 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease). 

Lambert here: This number is too small no matter what. Iowa Covid19 Tracker hasn’t been updated since September 27, 2023. I may have to revert to CDC data. Yech.

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, November 18:

Lambert here: Gonna have to whack this, too. How does an automated model not update? Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the United States fell to 49.4 in November of 2023 from 56.5 in October which was the highest in nine months. The logistics sector moved back to contraction after three straight months of growth, as firms are selling off inventories quickly due to Q4 holiday sales.”

Services: “United States ISM Services PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI increased to 52.7 in November 2023 from 51.8 in October, beating forecasts of 52. The reading pointed to stronger growth in the services sector, amid faster increases in business activity/production and employment.”

* * *

Tech: “The first humanoid robot factory is about to open” [Axios]. “A factory planning to pump out 10,000 two-legged robots a year is taking shape in Salem, Oregon — the better to help Amazon and other giant companies with dangerous hauling, lifting and moving. Agility Robotics says that its RoboFab manufacturing facility will be the first to mass-produce humanoid robots, which could be nimbler and more versatile than their existing industrial counterparts. China seems to think so: Beijing recently announced a goal of mass-producing humanoid robots by 2025. Agility Robotics, which makes a bot named Digit that’s being tested by Amazon, plans to open RoboFab early next year, inaugurating what CEO Damion Shelton calls ‘the world’s first purpose-built humanoid robot factory.’ ‘We’ve placed a very high priority on just getting robots out there as fast as possible,’ [CEO Damion Shelton], who’s also a co-founder, tells Axios. ‘Our big plan is that we want to get to general-purpose humanoids as soon as we can. There’s a growing backlog of orders for Digit, which the company says is the first commercially available human-shaped robot designed for warehouse work. Agility has produced about 100 robots since its founding in 2016.” • Kill them with fire.

Tech: “ChatGPT can leak training data, violate privacy, says Google’s DeepMind’ [ZD Net]. The deck: “Simply instructing ChatGPT to repeat the word ‘poem’ endlessly forced the program to cough [barf] up whole sections of text copied from its [stolen] training data, breaking the program’s guardrails.” • There’s that “guardrails” metaphor again….

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 68 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 5 at 1:57:14 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged. Yet again!! [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • What’s with this index holding steady? Not sacrificed enough goats? No red heifer?

The Gallery


Whatever this is, it’s not a landscape.

The Jackpot

“Analyzing the Historical Rate of Catastrophes” [Bounded Regret]. ” If we define a catastrophe as an event killing 1% of the global population within a decade, then 11 such catastrophes have occurred since 1500, for a base rate of 2% per year. If we raise the bar to killing 10% of the population, the base rate drops by an order of magnitude, to 0.2%…. History also gives us qualitative insights. For instance, all the catastrophes in the previous paragraph were epidemics, wars, or famines. Further, many events were multi-causal—the worst epidemics occurred when populations were already weakened by famine, and many epidemics and famines were precipitated by changes in climate or by political turmoil. Species extinctions are also multi-causal, and the common culprits are climate change, natural disasters, invasive species, and humans…. From this perspective, what are the possible drivers of catastrophe in the 21st century? Some answers are obvious from the list above—pandemics, climate change, and major wars continue to be serious threats. Famines are less obviously threatening, as the last major one was in 1961, but preparing for them may still be prudent. And political turmoil, when not itself catastrophic, creates the conditions for other catastrophes to occur.” • Well worth a read. A little grim, but I’m a “Give it to me straight, doc” kind of guy. These are numbers it’s good to have.

News of the Wired

“Russell’s Paradox of ghostwriters” [Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science]. “That particular memoir-book was a gag, but it got me thinking of this general idea of recursive writing. A writer hiring a ghostwriter . . . what a great idea! Of course this happens all the time when the writer is a brand name, as with James Patterson. But then what if Patterson’s ghostwriter is busy and hires a ghostwriter of his own…” • Now throw AI into the mix…

* * *

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 EM:

EM writes: “Here is a mushroom growing out of an old sunflower stem. It could be a modern art masterpiece. ”

* * *

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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. Screwball

    Lambert, it looks like you have a un-closed bold tag somewhere after News of the WiredStatistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science].

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      But probably another format tag of some kind, because the side menu is all at the bottom now as well.

      Anticipating the fix by the “orts and scraps” phase … ;-)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        You are correct, sir! I have indeed added the orts and scraps.

        Baffled by this, since the HTML close tag — should have been </strong> but was </strong. — has been sitting there for years, unmolested*, as I picked up my template day after day.

        Perhaps one of those tiny, insensible shifts from one timeline to another. I hope this one is better!

        NOTE * After I gave a careful explanation of close tags the other day, too!

  2. Tom Stone

    I’m willing to bet Hunter’s Ford Raptor was bright red.
    500 Horsepower with all the weight in the front, just right for towing a loaded six horse trailer over the Rocky Mountains at 80 MPH…

  3. Mark Gisleson

    Horrible thought: I’m not up to speed on Iowa Republican caucus rules but I see absolutely nothing stopping Democrats from caucusing as Republicans to prop up a Trump challenger.

    Biden canceling caucuses and primaries makes it very easy for activists and true believers to cross over.

    1. Hepativore

      I know that some Democratic Party candidates such as Cenk Uygur and Marianne Williamson want to try and challenge the decision to cancel Florida state primaries, but wouldn’t the decision of judge William J. Zloch dismissing the fraud lawsuit against the DNC in 2017 also deny legal standing to challenge the Florida state Democratic Party?

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Absolutely. Back when the neolibs took over they changed all the rules so only they could be in charge. More to the point, everyone else had to do as they said or just leave already. A lot of people left which speaks to the wisdom of running a political coalition like a corporation.

        Something about all of this is very shambolic. I for one am beginning to get very strong “about to be eaten” vibes. Maybe just a case of deja Buttigieg, but then again I am worthy and deserve to be eaten first! #Cthulutheran

        1. ambrit

          ” #Cthulutheran”
          Like the Elder Lovecraft nailing the 95 species to the cathedral doors.
          This election cycle, the stars are going to be in the proper alignment.

          1. Hepativore

            I would compare it to the Fall of the House of Usher, with the Democratic Party sinking and cracking under the weight of its own misdeeds over the decades of neoliberalism, yet it would rather die than part with the neoliberal paradigm that is crushing it

            1. ambrit

              Following up on the Poe theme; “The Masque of the Blue No Matter Who Death.”
              Reminds me of the competing chariot teams, distinguished by the different colours of their liveries, in the hippodrome of ancient Constantinople. Mass rioting was often the result of close races. Sound familiar?

    2. Late Introvert

      You have to be registered to the respective party to vote in their Caucus in Iowa. So I can’t vote in either one.

      1. scott s.

        I suspect “registration” as used in party rules is simply a declaration of intent. Mainly you get in the party database for fundraising, get-out-the-vote, etc. Looks about the same as what we have in Hawaii, except the Iowa precinct caucus elects delegates to county convention and eventually state convention where national delegates get selected/bound to candidates. In Hawaii we use a ballot/vote procedure and national delegates are selected/bound directly from the tabulation without convention elections.

  4. pjay

    Ol’ Joe was just not thinking far enough ahead. If only he would have set up the Biden Foundation and established the Biden Global Initiative he would have been home free. And the Biden clan would not have to fool with all of these small, multiple-laundered transactions either.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And the Biden clan would not have to fool with all of these small, multiple-laundered transactions either.

      That’s true, but the existing system had been working well for the entire clan for many years, so it would be hard to change. And honestly, a Biden Global Initiative? Not plausible. Also, if I have the details right, the Bidens’ write checks to each other and call them loan repayments, and nothing is documented. That would be hard to unwind.

      Dance with the one that brung ya!

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Small amounts coupled with Hunter’s documented whining about Joe always getting a cut suggests something quite different to me.

        Paying over a big chunk is what it is. What grates on people is when they get chiseled. Totally hypothetical example:

        Fredo Corleone: So anyhow the crypto to your Cayman account is all by the book so we’re square for this month.

        Don Corleone: Not so fast. Crypto, always this crypto. Last month it dropped in value between when our friends in China sent their respect and when it actually arrived in my account. I lost money. We’re not doing it that way anymore. Back to using trained dolphins like the OSS did during WWII!

        Fredo Corleone: Wow, geez. Well you’re da capo so yeah sure, back to using dolphins. [shrugs] See ya next month!

        Don Corleone: Hey, waitaminute–we’re still not done here. All these months we been doing this stupid crypto thing? All these months I’ve been losing money? Who’s gonna pay for that, huh?!

        Fredo Corleone: Wha? Uh, I mean how much we talkin’ here?

        Don Corleone: $19, 320.32, thirteen months worth of my getting screwed by this lame crypto stuff.

        Fredo Corleone: Twenty Gs?! Uh yeah but I’m a little short right now can I —

        Don Corleone: Figured that so I did the math. You owe me $1,380.00 a month on the nose. That you can do so do it. Use your lawyers so it doesn’t connect us.

        Fredo Corleone: Whatever you say dad.

        Total hypothetical, probably nothing never even happened.

        1. ambrit

          I’m afraid that we have ‘cats’ closer to Heydrich than Goebbels in this Administration.
          Now I’m watching out for a low key Rehoboth Beach Conference to finalize the ‘solution’ to the Democrat Party’s problems. No doubt, Fauci would be a central figure in the deliberations.

          1. Procopius

            I’m off topic with this, but did you ever notice how much Stephen Miller (Trump’s adviser) looks like Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich? They’re dead ringers.

  5. Jeff N

    covid anecdotes: one FB friend has Covid, one has a cold with loss of taste, but she swears that every cold she has had in her life is accompanied by loss of taste.
    Also, Morrissey canceled a concert

  6. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “…what are the possible drivers of catastrophe … Famines are less obviously threatening, as the last major one was in 1961, …

    So, because we had one 62 years ago, we won’t have one again soon? 8 of 17 events in the ‘strict’ category were famines – 47%. Was there not a link in recent weeks about the potential loss of bananas? Was there not a link in recent weeks about the destruction of farmland, crops, and greenhouses in two major war zones? I’d assert that famine (probably more localized than global, admittedly) may be one of the most likely outcomes of human activity in the next 50 years.

    1. clarky90

      Re; “catastrophe”

      “Our Sun (a star)”, being too big to criticise, is completely innocent I say!

      So what if it indelicately farts in our direction (CMEs), causing a mass die off of life…., or two mass die offs, or three……..

  7. Trees&Trunks

    Jacobin & Sweden.
    Sweden didn’t close their State Institute for Racial Biology https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Institute_for_Racial_Biology until 1958 and nobody working there had the necessary incentives to reconsider their priorities (as opposed Nazis of the common people in Germany, unlike highly positioned Nazis that were promoted in NATO, US and Canada, that until today have to eat humblepie) . Then it was renamed to the State Institute for Human Genetics. This must have had some social-intellectual hereditary consequences that could be seen during the Covid when the basic idea was to conduct biological warfare on the population and let the genes take care of the situation.

    This denazification-stuff coming from Russia unto Ukraine: I wonder how much this is relevant for the rest if EU.

  8. Bsn

    Good Garland Nixon today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPb7gOCZAe8
    He discusses the “diversity” that we are seeing so much of now a dayz. Some real helpful concepts that one can think on and use in a discussion regarding this latest flavor. My favorite part of what he says is, “remember the me too movement?” Why don’t we hear that term anymore? Gotta listen to find out.

  9. digi_owl

    Interesting how that Digits robot is yet another awkward hip design that results in it shuffling along like a grandma.

    So far only Boston Dynamics seems to have hit on a usable hip design in their Atlas model.

    But besides that, Fraunhofer has a far more interesting design in that they dispensed with the humanoid shape but still came up with something that can operate human tools.


    1. Adam

      The tennis balls on it are a nice touch. Reminds me of my grandmother’s walker with the tennis balls on the bottom of the legs. But I was hoping for something a little more interesting looking like the robot from lost in space. (1960’s version)

    1. Feral Finster

      Congratulations, that is the single most asinine thing that I have read all day, and there are seven hours left to go.

      The idea that Liz Cheney would take more votes away from Trump than from Biden is a laff.

      As if there were tons of Team R voters in swing states who were desperate for an alternative to Trump but not willing to vote for Biden, but at the same time not a lot more voters who were prepared to vote for Halfwit Joe for the sole reason that he is Not Trump. And who aren’t going to see a Liz Cheney presidency as nothing other than an attempt to draw votes away from Trump, a Kanye 2024?

      I’m not criticizing you, Petal. You’re the messenger, not the 11-D Chess Strategist who thought up this turkey.

      1. petal

        All good, Feral. As we are in the stupidest timeline, I count nothing out anymore. I figure the crazier it is, the more likely it is to happen. sigh.
        Oh, I almost forgot, Liz Cheney will be here on campus in a month.

        1. Screwball

          As we are in the stupidest timeline, I count nothing out anymore.

          Me either. They are taking gaslighting to an entirely new level. Nothing would shock me at this point.

          1. pjay

            I don’t know. I can see Liz appealing to Mike Pence’s massive constituency. So now that he’s gone it makes perfect sense for her to round up all those potential voters (apparently very few of them live in Wyoming). And since she’s a woman she might even pick up some support from feminist Resistance types who don’t want to vote for old white guys. Watch out Nikki; she was anti-Trump before it was cool (for Republicans, that is).

            All I know is that I’ve seen her face five or six times today on TV – and I watch very little TV. So one more prominent voice predicting the Trump apocalypse – and boosting Trump’s poll numbers another 10 points.

          1. petal

            hehe if that is what one calls campus? I am not sure what her schedule is, like if she is talking to classes or groups or just speaking. Not sure I could stomach going. Getting too old for that stuff.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Liz Cheney will be here on campus in a month

          We eagerly anticipate your report.

          Am I right that Clinton (Monday video) and Cheney now have similar hair styles?*

          NOTE * Envisaging a Clinton/Cheney ticket, bipartisan, “Government of National Unity” and so on….

          1. petal

            I’ll try. Starting a new gig Jan 1 so not sure if I can make it. Going to lose my flexibility. Hoping it will be videotaped or streamed.

      2. Pat

        Any headlines on this should be “Desperate to remain relevant, unelectable Liz Cheney threatens to run for President.” The subheading could be “Believe or not, she thinks she can take votes from Donald Trump. She must think the Cheneys can still create their own reality.”

        The ever expanding list of short term heroes of the Orange Man Bad resistance is increasingly comical. Liz is already running on fumes despite the media trying to prop her up. It will take longer, but I fully expect Letitia James and Jack Smith to end up scrambling to save themselves before this is all over.

    2. kareninca

      I have a friend who is a lifelong PMC Democrat; she hates Trump beyond anything. She told me excitedly that she planned to vote for Liz Cheney early and often (as a Biden alternative). Then I told her that Cheney was a warmonger like her father and she lost interest.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > She told me excitedly

        That’s what I don’t get, the feverishness. A Trump “fan” is easier for me to understand; I have a “mental model” of fandom, and people are fans of all sorts of things. But who could possibly be “excited” about voting for Cheney, for any reason? I wonder if Trump appears in your friend’s dreams….

        1. Screwball

          I wonder if Trump appears in your friend’s dreams….

          From someone who witnessed this stuff up close and personal – yes, they probably do see Trump in their dreams.

          My ex had stage 10 TDS. He took over her life. He was all she thought about every waking hour of every day she wasn’t working or busy with something to take her mind of him. Her and some other ladies started a support group in town when he got elected – which turned into a political activist group – all about being against Trump.

          She went to the doctor and got on “happy pills” which cost $40 a month – because Trump. The first thing she did after waking up in the morning was grab the phone and see what Trump news was going to be the outrage of the day – because Trump. An reckless driver cuts you off, they have to be a Trumper – because Trump. If someone, anyone, said something bad about Trump, they loved them. But if anything bad happened, it was because Trump.

          Completely obsessed an consumed over Trump. Every waking minute was about hating Trump, and you can’t hate him enough. I’ve never seen anything like it, and she wasn’t the only one I knew with this obsession. Trump, or, I should probably say, her hatred for Trump, literally took over her life. Very sad to watch.

  10. Samuel Conner

    > “workers and families”

    perhaps this locution reflects recognition that public health policies are creating a category of families in which all the working-age family members are too ill for employment.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > reflects recognition

      Correct objectively, but could a Democrat actually recognize that? (As opposed to, I suppose, “cognize,” if that’s a word; see for the first time.)

  11. SD

    RE: “workers and families”

    Enough already.

    I remember Obama’s persistent and revealing speechifying tic “mothers and daughters,” which he deployed whenever he spoke publicly about economic issues, abortion, health care, and anything that didn’t have to do with defense, intelligence, or “Terror Tuesdays.” Saying “women” aloud would have been easier, perhaps more mellifluous, and of course more accurate and inclusive. (But clearly inconvenient when discussing Terror Tuesdays, etc.)

    Deep-state-approved Democrat politicians inevitably have a linguistic tell like this that would lose them their shirts in a poker game, if they ever deigned to sit down at a table and play fair. I appreciate Lambert’s close reading of these seemingly small linguistic details. They say everything.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I appreciate Lambert’s close reading of these seemingly small linguistic details. They say everything.

      [lambert blushes modestly]

      “Deep State,” however, is not a thing. Remember what Gramsci (paraphrasing) said: State and civil society are separate only as objects of study. (Pillow talk between Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan would be a miniature example of this.)

  12. Otto Reply

    re: A Warning – esp Jeffrey Goldberg.
    In yesterday’s WC comments, flora posted this link of a conversation between Chris Hedges and Norman Finkelstein. Finkelstein was on a roll about “woke” media ganging up to take out Bernie Sanders. Including Jeffrey Goldberg who NF describes as an Israeli prison guard in Gaza and an accessory to torture; stenographer for Netanyahu & Obama and most recently Zelensky, who wants all out war w/ Russia. (begins 30:25) Caveat lector!

  13. Jason Boxman

    So I’d given it much thought today, and I realized COVID can’t be real for most people because they have no mental model that fits. Getting a “bad flu” fits. Even getting it during the summer fits, when there’s no flu. People get sick, it sucks, they think they recover, whatever. Done.

    It can’t be COVID, though. For conservatives, it’s always been a hoax. If it originates from liberal public health establishment, it is by definition garbage. For liberal Democrats, vax and relax and Biden said it’s over. So again no COVID here. Mix that up with a complete lack of any testing availability and the limited effectiveness of RATs, and you have a lot of not/never COVID.

    I’m going to be honest, too. Maybe that’s less shocking than when a liberal Democrat grifting fundraiser is, but here it is.

    In the beginning, I thought masks were bunk too. I wasn’t sick, and I had no reason to be wearing one. The CDC said wash your hands, no one was touching — people were kind of afraid to — and elevators were getting those special antiseptic button covers or whatever. I had no reason to wear a mask by my estimation.

    Reading NC, I learned about airborne transmission. I was able to change my mental model, when new facts came in. Now you could not pry my P100 from my dead, infected hands. I don’t go anywhere without it. But I accept airborne transmission as the nearly universal route of infection.

    But if you look around, I don’t see any virus in the air. It’s quite a leap. And in the end, it still requires trust and a leap of faith that what I’ve read is legitimate. I can’t replicate studies, or perform regression analysis on papers to ascertain the strength of conclusions, or infer proper study design, or population size. I just can’t. Eventually it comes down to trust, in your sources.

    Getting back to COVID, people don’t have the proper mental model for this; and when you get a “bad flu” and recover, it all makes sense. It must be what it is, and the world is the same as it always was. That the world is foundationally no different today than it was in any day in 2019. I don’t know how you’d convince anyone in a low trust society that SARS2 is real, dangerous, wrecking havoc.

    So instead we each face a Pandemic entirely alone, literally, because every single person you interact with is a risk to you. Public health does not and cannot work in this fashion.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I don’t know how you’d convince anyone in a low trust society that SARS2 is real, dangerous, wrecking havoc.

      That is an excellent point, and this is an excellent comment.

      One might look at the covid-conscious, then, especially pro-mask people, as trying to build higher-trust islands in a low trust society. An interesting project!

  14. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Surely, with the bank records in his possession, Comer can do better than this?

    Perhaps the big payoffs were in cash. Better check the garage behind those boxes of classified documents.

    Flippancy aside, any withdrawals in cash or cashier’s check ought to be easy to identify from bank records. It wouldn’t show who those withdrawals might have gone to (although possible for a cashier’s check), and I’m sure Hunter will claim it went to his crack dealer, but it would show a pattern if such withdrawals did exist. You don’t set up shell companies and funnel money through that many different corporate and family accounts unless something sneaky is going on.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > You don’t set up shell companies and funnel money through that many different corporate and family accounts unless something sneaky is going on.

      I view the entire system as being like a river with tributaries. Many small streams of money flow into bigger streams of money and finally into a mighty stream of money. Biden clan members operate at all points along the tributary system, taking their personal cuts before adding their widow’s mites to the flow. “The Big Guy” is, of course, at the head of the stream.

      The point is that “water” downstream is virtually impossible to trace upstream.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Jacobin once again endorses Sweden’s “herd immunity” COVID policies”

    ‘While Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of Sweden, did not put it as crudely as Johnson, he stated in a leaked email that his plan was to “keep schools open to reach herd immunity faster.” ‘

    And there it is right there. The reason why in so many countries they were fanatical about getting kids to go back to school. To use those kids as a virus spread vector, no matter how many kids they lost. They were a great way to spread his virus throughout their communities by giving it to their families and neighbours and it worked. It sure is a good thing for Tegnall that herd immunity works with a Coronavirus or else all those tens of thousands of deaths in his country alone would have been a total waste and the responsibility would be on his shoulders. Remind me again – what do they call it when you kill people?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And there it is right there. The reason why in so many countries they were fanatical about getting kids to go back to school. To use those kids as a virus spread vector, no matter how many kids they lost.

      And people like Bhattacharya are still congratulating themselves for it, too. No remorse at all. (It’s also said to see Taibbi lionizing the guy. I’m all for “free speech,” but from Taibbi’s tone, it’s about more than that. I’d love to be wrong, please argue me out of this.)

  16. flora

    The Gallery.

    Why “ugh”? Bierstadt was a great painter in the romantic/heroic landscape genre. American schools of art in the 19th century played second fiddle to the European artists where Impressionism was in the avant-garde.

      1. Cassandra

        The Hudson River school was all about capturing light on canvas. And when you think about it, the majority of Monet’s paintings were pursuing the same goal. I am awed by the way that two very different techniques of applying solid pigment can capture that transcendent glow.

        There was a fabulous exhibit of the Luminists called, I think, “American Light” at the National Gallery in DC in 1980 which featured both Bierstadt and Church. I was in town for a protest march, like you do, and had the pleasure of admiring the artwork while waiting for the bus to go home. There was a documentary about the exhibit on YouTube some years ago.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Light plays a very important part in painting. I recall reading how the first English artists that came out to Oz were very frustrated by ‘Australian Light’ because it was like nothing they had experienced and it is noteworthy how the first Australian landscapes were painted just like something out of an English countryside. Even nowadays for international photographers the different light here has an appeal.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The Hudson River school was all about capturing light on canvas. And when you think about it, the majority of Monet’s paintings were pursuing the same goal.

          I feel that Monet is recreating the landscape in my mind, because of his deep knowledge of paint and the operations of the human eye and brain. To me, the Bierstadt is about what Bierstadt feels, not about what the landscript is (“is” of course being a contested word). It’s all too much. I’m not a fan of the sublime, I guess. Let me bring my own feelings, don’t hit me over the head with yours.

  17. Acacia

    Lambert, take a peek at the latest Biobot data on regions.

    Both the Midwest and Northeast are trending sharply upward now.

    Could be the expected post-Thanksgiving surge…

  18. ChrisRUEcon


    “We recognize that in the next four years, our decision may cause us to have an even more difficult time. But we believe that this will give us a chance to recalibrate, and the Democrats will have to consider whether they want our votes or not,”

    I’m very intrigued by this excerpt, and I wish the wider US Muslim community would explore reaching out “across the aisle” as it were. Perhaps some detente between Republican and Democrat Muslims can lead to some detente between the wider US Muslim community and Trump. Quite simply, if Muslims (irrespective of party affiliation) put themselves in the room, they allow themselves to be read (no one reads the room like Trump). Everyone who thought they could “push Biden left” has been made to look a fool. If the Democrat Muslims in swing states prove themselves to be of strategic assistance to Trump, why wouldn’t he want to listen?

    PS: Also wish someone would exploit Trump’s Saudi ties here as well …

    1. griffen

      I watch a decent amount of news, typically it’s business or sports related. But to be honest on the Saudi ties, I can count one Democrat in particular who has ever referenced in particular the ongoing research into the Saudi connections with Trump and especially young Jared.

      Damn poxes on them all. Rules are indeed for suckers. Clinton Global Initiative, just a “more good” way of doing such raising of funds. The reported and soon to be expanded upon Biden family corruption looks to be so much lesser, in comparison. Looks like basic tax fraud.

  19. James

    Really odd for a ‘water cooler’ post to contain so much Covid info. Absolutely no one is talking about covid at their water cooler. Only extremely online and extremely neurotic people seem to care about it at all anymore.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > it will disappear

          The Spanish Flu, ultimately, did disappear, leaving a legacy of Parkinson’s disease in the following decades. I fear the aftermath of Covid will be much worse, since Covid seems to infect every type of tissue in the body (though I’m assuming Spanish Flu did not).

          Now, Trump may have really been saying “Out of sight, out of mind, which means you just don’t track the numbers any more, as CDC is now doing more gradually and quietly, but the literal meaning of his words isn’t completely implausible.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > extremely neurotic

      First time I’ve heard avoiding an airborne Level Three Biohazard that causes long-term disability and possible brain damage called “neurotic,” but you learn something new every day. Care to expand on the reasons for your armchair diagnosis?

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