2:00PM Water Cooler 1/16/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got a late start. There’s plenty on Iowa, but I have to fill in around it… –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored), Wakely Mountain, New York, United States. “Long-Range Song is heard.”

* * *


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


Less than a year to go!

* * *

“56 percent in new poll willing to see Trump disqualified from ballots in all or some states” [The Hill]. “A majority of Americans in a new survey say they would support the Supreme Court either disqualifying former President Trump from presidential ballots across the country or letting states decide whether to include him on their ballots. Nearly one-third — 30 percent — of respondents in the ABC News/Ipsos survey said they think the justices should order that Trump be removed from ballots across the country, and 26 percent said they believed the matter should be left up to election officials in each state. Additionally, 39 percent of Americans surveyed said they think the Supreme Court should order Trump be kept on the ballot in all states. More than half of the survey’s respondents, 53 percent, said they believe the justices in the nation’s highest court will rule on the basis of law on the matter, while 43 percent said they think they will rule based on their political views on Trump.” • Headline is a touch deceptive…..

“Republicans Choose Chaos, Violence, And Election Lies” [Brian Buetler, Off Message]. “In year eight, something different is happening, and both Democrats and the media should be alert to it. This time around they have a clearer path to expunging Trump. With the Iowa caucuses now in the rearview mirror, they could rally for Nikki Haley the way Democratic elites flocked to Joe Biden when the 2020 primary came down to him and Bernie Sanders. Instead, they are choosing Trump, without reservation. Many had resolved to support him before the caucuses, and are trying now to edge his challengers out of the race.” • “Off message”? Really? (Note the extremely distorted view of 2020, which completely erases the role of The Wizard of Kalorama™.)

“Judicial Notice (01.13.24): In The Hot Seat” [David Lat, Original Jurisdiction]. “As first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of Trump’s co-defendants—Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official—alleged in a court filing that Willis and Nathan Wade, one of three special prosecutors she appointed to work on the matter, ‘have been engaged in an improper, clandestine personal relationship during the pendency of this case.” And because Wade has been paid more than $650,000 to date, some of which he allegedly used to take Willis on a Napa Valley trip and Caribbean cruises, both Willis and Wade “profit[ed] significantly from this prosecution, at the expense of the taxpayers.’ Roman’s motion further alleges that despite being hired to serve as a special prosecutor in an extremely high-profile, multi-defendant racketeering case, Nathan Wade has never tried a felony racketeering case—or any felony case, period. He also apparently billed Fulton County for 24 hours of work in a single day in November 2021, which is… not great. Roman seeks to have the charges against him dismissed, and he has also called for Willis, Wade, and the entire Fulton County DA’s office to be disqualified from the case…. What do Willis and Wade have to say? So far, not much. According to Willis’s office, the prosecution will respond through a court filing, and Judge Scott McAfee will then schedule a hearing, expected to take place next month…. But in remarks delivered today (Sunday) at Big Bethel A.M.E Church in Atlanta, Willis alluded obliquely to the controversy. She described herself as ‘imperfect’ and ‘flawed’—like Dr. King, whose ‘journey was full of mistakes’ and alleged ‘personal indiscretions.’ Without mentioning Wade by name, she praised his ‘impeccable’ credentials—and noted that even though she appointed three special prosecutors, critics are attacking only the Black man.” • Willis has a white boyfriend, too? Did she hire him?

“Fani Willis breaks silence on misconduct accusations” [The Hill]. “Willis, speaking Sunday with a congregation at the Big Bethel AME Church ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, did not directly address the allegations of an improper relationship with [special prosecutor Nathan Wade], but fiercely rejected claims she acted improper [sic] in hiring Wade in the state’s election interference case involving Trump and more than a dozen co-defendants…. Speaking as if she was having a conversation with God, Willis asked, ‘How come, God, the same Black man I hired was acceptable when a Republican in another country hired him and paid him twice the rate?'”

* * *

“Ron DeSantis just failed in Iowa. And it’s only going to get worse from here” [MSNBC]. “DeSantis invested tremendous resources in the Hawkeye State, and even as his campaign dealt with financial troubles, he specifically prioritized investing in campaign staff and field operations there. He also hustled to secure local endorsements and succeeded in securing some big ones, including evangelical power broker Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Super PACs backing his candidacy spent tremendous amounts of cash on ads and door-knocking operations, seeing that strategy as the prime opportunity to derail the Trump train. But in the weeks before the race, one of those PACs, Never Back Down, spiked its ad buy plans after sensing that DeSantis’ candidacy was already a lost cause. Monday’s results vindicated its concerns. If DeSantis couldn’t pull off a win in Iowa — where he went all in and where voters are uniquely open to non-front-runner candidates — it’s hard to imagine where he can win. ”

“Former Obama Advisor David Plouffe: Ron DeSantis Was A ‘Terrible Candidate'” [RealClearPolitics]. “DAVID PLOUFFE: You know, to become the nominee of a party, you actually have to be a decent candidate…. The political graveyard is littered with people who look like on paper, they would be strong presidential candidates, but having gone through this, I mean, this is basically like a searing proctological exam beamed into every home. And very few people come out whole on the other side. And he was diminished by this….But I think, strategically, I think it was the right decision to go all-in Iowa. I don’t think there was another strategy out there. You know, and historically, that has worked for a few candidates. It hasn’t worked for most.”

“Haley’s Missed Opportunity: Iowa Slows Her Roll Into New Hampshire” [New York Times]. “Ms. Haley’s argument that she was the best Republican to thwart Mr. Biden’s re-election may have been persuasive with college-educated Republican voters, 39 percent of whom backed her in a New York Times/Siena College poll released last month. But in a wider Republican electorate that has been transformed by Mr. Trump into a bastion of voters without a college education, Ms. Haley, in the Times/Siena poll, had the support of just 3 percent of those voters.” • The Elizabeth Warren of Republican politics. Also an Indian! Wait. Not that kind of Indian!

* * *

“Biden campaign staffs up, hires Ocasio-Cortez spokesperson” [The Hill]. “The Biden campaign hired a former spokesperson for progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to its communications team, as it seeks to beef up its national staff ahead of the election…. The bulking up of the campaign team comes amid scrutiny from several prominent Democrats who are criticizing the team’s strategy and structure. These political figures, including former President Obama, expressed concerns over the structure of the team in which too few staff are empowered to make decisions without first clearing them with the White House, The Washington Post reported earlier this month. The campaign argued it is building its staff up at the right time. A source close to the campaign defended the timing to The Hill earlier this month, stating, ‘Everyone I’ve spoken to on the campaign is working diligently on broadening the campaign to win. They’re staffing up at all levels including at the leadership level, which is totally appropriate at this point.'”

* * *

“RFK Jr. defends Kennedy administration wiretap of Martin Luther King Jr.” [Politico]. “In an exclusive interview with POLITICO, Kennedy said that his father, Robert F. Kennedy — who authorized the wiretapping of King as attorney general — and President John F. Kennedy permitted the eavesdropping because they were ‘making big bets on King, particularly in organizing the March on Washington.’ ‘They were betting not only the civil rights movement but their own careers. And they knew that Hoover was out to ruin King,’ said Robert Kennedy Jr., referring to J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director at the time. He argued that the Kennedy administration had a legitimate reason to go along with Hoover’s determination to surveil King. The FBI director saw King as a dangerous radical with Communists in his inner circle. ‘There was good reason for them doing that at the time,’ Kennedy said, ‘because J. Edgar Hoover was out to destroy Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement and Hoover said to them that Martin Luther King’s chief was a communist. My father gave permission to Hoover to wiretap them so he could prove that his suspicions about King were either right or wrong,’ he continued. ‘I think, politically, they had to do it.'”

* * *

IA: “Trump Savors Historic Iowa Win, Haley Turns Up the Heat, DeSantis Survives” [Newsweek]. “[I]t was Trump who emerged as the overwhelming victor, taking more than 51 percent of the vote—a margin that exceeded George W. Bush’s 2000 win, in which he took 41 percent of the vote. Trump was also nearly 30 points clear of his nearest rival, DeSantis, the largest margin of victory in history. DeSantis had 21.3 percent of votes, and Haley was in third with 19.1 percent. Ramaswamy received 7.7 percent and dropped out, immediately endorsing Trump.” • Half of Republicans voted for Trump; half did not (thought that’s not the headline). But the half that did not “have no place to go.” In any case:

IA: “31 minutes: Trump’s historic Iowa victory puts America on notice” [Axios]. “The astonishing speed and sweep of former President Trump’s victory in the Iowa caucuses last night delivered a massive wakeup call to Republican skeptics still dreaming of a post-MAGA world…. He couldn’t have scripted it any better: Trump won 98 of 99 counties in Iowa, dominating virtually every demographic while physically campaigning in the state far less than any of his top rivals.”

IA: “How Donald Trump built a base that catapulted him to a historic Iowa Caucuses victory” [Des Moines Register]. “Iowa Republicans also credited Trump with quietly assembling an organizing juggernaut that identified supporters and drew in first-time caucusgoers. ‘The clear message coming out of Iowa is that grassroots organizing matters,’ said Republican operative Nicole Schlinger. ‘The Trump campaign did not take his monumental support from Iowans for granted. Unlike 2016, they knew exactly who their supporters were and turned them out.'” • After a headline like that, we get this at the very end of the story?! The WSJ is better–

IA: “How Trump Became Unstoppable in Iowa” [Wall Street Journal]. “The crowd was dotted with white caps bearing the words “TRUMP CAUCUS CAPTAIN” in embroidered gold letters, and the former president wore one himself—a totem of the ruthlessly professional organization that Trump’s campaign has built, a far cry from the slapdash operation that failed to deliver him Iowa in early 2016.” The “captain” concept is very old-fashioned and effective; DCBlogger would appreciate it, though perhaps not Trump’s use of it. Of course, in a political party, not a campaign, the captain positions are permanent (“precinct captain,” “block captain”). I wonder if Trump will consider that? More: ” The former president had hired two brutally effective and experienced operatives to run his campaign: Chris LaCivita, famed for his work two decades ago thrashing Democrat John Kerry with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Susie Wiles, who had helped DeSantis get elected before being unceremoniously ejected from the governor’s orbit. Campaign observers credit them with turning the once-shambolic Trump operation into a lean, mean, professionally run shop that missed no opportunity to stifle DeSantis early.” • Beneath all the chaos, Trump sometimes manages to make excellent hires. But only sometimes.

IA: “1 winner and 3 losers from the Iowa caucuses” [Vox]. “The final RealClearPolitics polling average had Trump at 52.5 percent of the vote. As of Monday night, he was around 51 percent. That number could still move a bit as more votes are counted, but it won’t shift that much — the polls appear to have been basically right. That’s good news for Trump going forward: There wasn’t any sort of massive, unnoticed sea change in the GOP electorate in which voters abandoned him. They are still with him. And we have every reason to believe they’ll be with him in the next primary and caucus contests, too. Trump hasn’t locked down the race yet, of course; Iowa is just one state. Haley will get to take her shot in New Hampshire. But the central political fact of the past eight and a half years has been the unshakable loyalty to Trump demonstrated by much of the GOP base. It would take a seismic event to dislodge him as the GOP frontrunner.”

IA: “Iowa caucus highlights: Trump wins, DeSantis takes second in weather-impacted 2024 Republican contest” [NBC]. “Before the snow came and the temperature dropped below zero and roads were caked in ice, Republicans had predicted this year’s turnout for the caucuses would smash records. Some went so far as to say the number of voters might reach 200,000 — well above the nearly 187,000 who showed up for the last contested Republican caucus in 2016. Then winter spoke. With some votes left to be tallied, it was clear that turnout tonight was much lower than had been expected before frigid winds ripped across the state. The NBC News Decision Desk projected that it would amount to about 120,000 voters, more in line with the turnout in 2012 than in 2016.”

IA: “Three Disparate Tickets Out of Iowa” [RealClearPolitics]. “‘I really think this is the time now for everybody in our country to come together. We want to come together, whether it’s Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative,’ he told supporters…. Trump was acting more like a guy who’d sewn up the nomination.” • Commentary:

IA: “Trump Receives a Warm Embrace in Frigid Iowa” [The New Yorker]. “The weather in Iowa was already not great, but people queued outside for six hours, then waited inside for three more for Trump to take the stage.” And: “I talked to B.J., a caucus captain, as she came down a marble staircase from the taping. ‘A Trump voter will turn out regardless of the weather,’ she said. Trump had done an impromptu meet and greet, and signed her captain hat. ‘We’ve been persecuted, so it’s nice to be around people who think the way we do, who understand what’s going on.’ She started crying. ‘I’m not a wacky Trump person, but I have three beautiful boys, and they don’t deserve the country we’re living in. Those rallies are like the best rock concert you’ve ever been to. When I took my son, he said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know so many people thought the way we do.” She went on, ‘In my opinion, there’s only two parties: the uniparty and the MAGA party. The uniparty is deep state, Democrats and Republicans. The MAGA party is America First.'”

IA: “Slouching Towards Trump” [Nate Silver, Silver Bulletin]. January 13. “What I’m getting at emotionally though is that I sense a lot of numbness to the idea of Trump winning another term…. But nobody seems to be acting as though Trump is an existential threat to democracy or anything else. People might think that, and perhaps they are quite rational to think that. But they aren’t acting like it…. The pandemic, however, was an extremely traumatic shared experience that I’m convinced the world still really hasn’t processed yet. Between the mass death and the massive disruption to the fabric of everyday life, 2020 was the worst year of most of our lives. The debates over COVID strategy are still fairly raw; the wounds haven’t really healed. Meanwhile, nearly everyone is in an eschatological mood these days. Every political quadrant thinks that civilization is going to end, whether because of climate change or unaligned artificial intelligence or the ‘Woke Mind Virus‘. Compared to all of that, a second Trump term — hey, we survived the first one, didn’t we? — doesn’t seem like a particularly high-stakes proposition.”

* * *

“Billionaire Bill Ackman Backs Dean Phillips to Challenge Biden” [Bloomberg] (January 14). “‘Ackman is giving the money to a political action committee that supports Phillips. The contribution is “by far the largest investment I have ever made in someone running for office,’ he added. He joins a small but growing group of prominent supporters for Phillips. Mike Novogratz, chief executive officer of Galaxy Investment Partners, announced in December he plans to support Phillips.” • Ackman’s endorsement:

“Dean Phillips floats a Cabinet post for Musk or Ackman” [Politico] (January 15). “Phillips, who is running a longshot bid against President Joe Biden, spoke with Musk, hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman and podcast host Jason Calacanis for a wide-ranging conversation on Musk’s X spaces platform. Eventually, the topic turned to what his first 100 days in office would look like. The Minnesota representative said he would build ‘the most extraordinary bipartisan Cabinet in American history.’ ‘Maybe we will have a third of them on this spaces right now, guys,’s he added. As for other first 100 day priorities, Phillips also said he’d use ‘zero-based budgeting’ and hire an international consulting firm to conduct a ‘top-down assessment’ of the federal government.” • An international consulting firm? Hey, how about McKinsey?

“Field of bad dreams: Biden rival makes quip after no one turns up to 2024 event” [Guardian] (January 9). “Contemplating a New Hampshire campaign event to which not one voter showed up, the Minnesota congressman and Democratic presidential hopeful Dean Phillips told reporters on Tuesday: ‘Sometimes, if you build it, they don’t come.’… In Manchester, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, Phillips parked his ‘Government Repair Truck’ – a tested campaign prop – outside a Hilton hotel, planning to talk to voters while handing out Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, a staple for New Englanders, notably including Ben Affleck. Unfortunately, reports of sparsely or non-attended campaign events are a staple of presidential primary campaigns. According to NBC News, no one showed up to chat with Phillips in part because the temperature was below freezing, thereby sending drivers to an underground parking garage from which they could enter the hotel. Phillips ‘ended up pouring coffee for the staffers who were there’, NBC said, adding that the candidate made his Field of Dreams quip to reporters.” • So big deal. Politics ain’t beanbag. What a non-story.

* * *

MI: “Biden struggling in Michigan as Trump grabs strong lead, poll shows” [Detroit News]. “[I]n a potential contest between Biden and Trump, who is facing a historic onslaught of criminal charges, 47% of likely voters said they preferred the Republican, while 39% selected Biden, an 8-point advantage for Trump, according to the survey with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points. In addition, 3% said they would vote for another candidate, and 11% said they were undecided. Trump’s lead over Biden widened to as much as 12 points when voters surveyed were given a list of third-party candidates. Biden, the current president, and Trump, the former president, are widely expected to emerge this year as their parties’ nominees…. ‘If I were a Democrat in Michigan, I would be breaking the emergency fire alarms in the White House and demanding to know what the plan is for Michigan,’ Czuba said. “Because these numbers are very bad for any incumbent of any party.” ….Those who gave Biden negative reviews were asked an open-ended question about why they had an unfavorable opinion of him. The most frequent answers were related to his age, his general level of competence and his mental competence with 41% of the responses connected to those topics…. The poll’s findings are warning signs for Michigan Democrats who’ve scored a series of political victories over the last six years and have taken control of state government.” • Apparently, Palestine didn’t show up in the open-ended question.

NH: “Haley says she won’t debate DeSantis in NH unless Trump participates” [Valley News]. “‘We’ve had five great debates in this campaign,’ Haley said in a statement, released as she campaigned in New Hampshire. ‘Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either be with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.'” • Ouch!

PA: “The Democrat, the Fracking Executive and the Deal They Struck. Can It Work?” [Wall Street Journal]. “An unusual agreement between Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and a natural-gas driller could serve as a model for finding consensus over an issue that continues to divide much of the U.S.: fracking. … After he became governor, Shapiro said he spent months discussing the need for data from drilling operations with CNX Chief Executive Nick DeIuliis. CNX then pledged it would disclose the chemicals it uses in drilling, increase the distance between its drilling operations and residences and schools while it studies the data, and post data on air and water monitoring for the general public…. An independent company is now gathering some CNX data and sending it to state regulators and CNX, which is publishing it, enabling everyone to see the results of a company voluntarily tracking and disclosing information on its operations…. Besides temporarily increasing the minimum distance between wells and homes and schools, CNX will conduct water monitoring before and after drilling. It will give state regulators access to two drilling sites starting in February to conduct in-depth air studies. The company will also refrain from hiring former state environmental regulators for two years after they have left office, among other things. With those changes, the company is now voluntarily following most of the recommendations of the state grand-jury report that Shapiro oversaw as attorney general in 2020.” • Shapiro is said to have “political aspirations beyond the state”….

Republican Funhouse

“Key moderate Republican comes out in favor of impeaching Mayorkas, says he should be ‘tried for treason'” [FOX]. “Rep. John James, R-Mich., who represents a swing district that former President Donald Trump won by just 1% in 2020, told Fox News Digital that not only should Mayorkas be impeached but tried for treason as well. ‘Secretary Mayorkas must be impeached and tried for treason,’ he said. ‘Evidence will prove that Mayorkas’ sustained and willful betrayal of the public trust makes him an accessory to the poisoning of millions of Americans, complicit in a modern-day slave trade and so derelict in his duty to secure the homeland that it crosses unequivocally into the realm of high crimes and misdemeanors….’ ‘These are human beings we’re talking about. These are men and women. These are children,’ he said. ‘These are God’s creatures, who are being herded like cattle, like chattel, like, like animals, by these coyotes. And they’re being bought and sold to the tune of $32 million per week just in the Del Rio sector.'” • Poisoned how? Fentanyl? What am I missing here?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Left Behind” [The American Prospect]. “The white working class was once the backbone of the Democratic Party, and as late as 2008 gave Barack Obama 40 percent of their vote. In 2016, however, white working-class support for Hillary Clinton was just 28 percent. A comparable shift was seen among rural voters, who in 2008 gave Obama 45 percent of their votes, and in 2016 gave Clinton a bare 33 percent…. How did the worldviews of so many of these voters reverse so completely? These conundrums are only conundrums if we assume that it’s their worldviews, rather than their world, that have changed…. In assessing, then, the politics of rural America and the white working class today, what’s tipped it into Trumpism isn’t cultural rage, which has been an ever-present factor of varying intensities. It’s the economic abandonment of their towns and their livelihoods by American capital, and the decades of indifference to that abandonment shown by their governments.” Interestingly: “The most decisive change, as I’ve noted before, was the almost complete flight of capital from small-town and rural America. As surveys from the Economic Innovation Group have demonstrated, in the recoveries following the 1992-1994 recession and the dot-com bust of 2000-2001, the level of new business formation in counties with small population declined, but still existed. In the recovery following 2008, however, a flat zero percent of new business startups occurred in rural and small-town areas. Offshoring had begun to weaken their economies beginning in the early 1990s, but the shift to a postindustrial economy had been so accelerated and magnified by our trade policies that the economic world of much of the working class, and nearly all of it in rural areas, had been hollowed out by the time Donald Trump came down the escalator in Trump Tower. The one industry that did take root in these communities during these years was opioid distribution.” • Interesting to think of Trumpism as a conservative reaction to a capital strike in small-town and rural America.

“Security of Georgia’s Dominion voting machines put on trial” [CBS]. “A yearslong dispute over the security of Georgia’s elections and its voting machines came to a head Tuesday morning in an Atlanta courtroom. Opening statements began in the federal trial examining whether the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Georgia can be hacked or manipulated, making their use in elections unconstitutional. The case dates to 2017 and was filed by several voters and the Coalition for Good Governance against members of the State Election Board and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The plaintiffs say they’re not disputing any election results in Georgia, and their case is unrelated to the 2020 election and the defamation lawsuits brought by Dominion against Fox News and others. David Cross, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, laid out the case for banning Dominion touch-screen voting machines. In Georgia, once voters make their choices, the ballot is printed with their votes and a QR code. The QR code is ultimately what’s read and cast as the voter’s ballot. Plaintiffs want the state to revert to paper ballots because they say this will assure voters that their ballots are being counted correctly.” • I will never forgive Trump for bigfooting this issue and then butchering the job.

“The Iowa Pizza Chain That Explains How Our Politics Became So Dysfunctional” [Politico]. “Since the birth of both the caucuses and Pizza Ranch, both have nationalized. What struck me about my time at Pizza Ranches is how I never heard an Iowan ask a question with a local spin. They wanted to know about the candidate’s foreign policy, about their plans for the border, about whether Biden was a hologram. There weren’t any questions about biodiesel or ethanol subsidies or soybean prices. Forty-three years after the first Pizza Ranch opened, our fractured politics and society are visibly on display there — both in terms of direct political campaigning, but also the way political tribalism has seeped into so many aspects of our personal lives, with local communities and idiosyncrasies flattened along the way. In all my time eating alongside voters at the restaurants, I never met someone who described themselves as a Democrat.” • Lots of local color on Iowa, so well worth a read, but the central point goes beyond Iowa….


“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!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

The top two examples are personal; read the (long) thread for the “political”:

Elite Maleficence

A tweet from the Cohen account:

I’m totally sure it’s authentically Mandy and not some intern because there’s no mention of non-pharmaceutical interventions.

The Jackpot

Stochastic eugenicism:

This is what I see coming, at least in the US, and I can’t for the life of me see what to do about it.

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, January 16:

Lambert here #3: Slight decrease in slope, due to the Northeast and the West (unless it’s a data issue). Personally, I wouldn’t call a peak, based entirely on the anecdotes I’m scrolling through, which are not encouraging, particularly with regard to the schools. Very unscientific, I agree! Let’s wait and see. Note that I don’t accept the PMC “homework” model, whose most famous exponent is Sociopath of the Day Bob Wachter, where you adjust your behavior according to multiple sources of (horrible, gappy, lagged) data about infection levels (ignoring “risk of ruin”). Just stick with your protocol day in and day out, my advice. K.I.S.S. However, tracking these trends, besides having intrinsic interest, is pragmatically useful for major decisions, like travel, cruises (surely not, readers), relocation, family events, communication with recalcitrant HCWs, etc.

Lambert #4: Looks like I was too pessimistic! (Of course, half the cases under the curve take place after the peak….)

Regional data:

Big decline in the Northeast!

• I’ve got a give credit to Hoerger; he called the peak early, but he did call it:


NOT UPDATED From CDC, January 6:

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

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, January 6:

Lambert: Down, but New Year’s reporting?

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 January 16:

Lambert here: Continued decrease!

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. January 6:

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, January 15:

-0.7%. (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, January 13:

Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, December 25:

Up, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, December 25:

Note the chart has been revised to reflect that JN.1 is BA.2.86.1 (the numbers “roll over”).


NOT UPDATED Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, January 6:

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index plunged to -43.7 in January 2024, the lowest reading since May 2020, signalling a sharp drop in manufacturing activity in the NY state.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 Greed (previous close: 70 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 16 at 1:52:12 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [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?

The Gallery

Klimt? Reminds me of Whistler!

News of the Wired

“Niklaus Wirth, or the Importance of Being Simple” [Communications of the ACM]. “[Wirth] had a witty, subtle — sometimes caustic — humor. Here is a Niklaus Wirth story. On the seventh day of creation God looked at the result. (Side note: Wirth was an atheist, which adds spice to the choice of setting for the story.) He (God) was pretty happy about it. He started looking at the list of professions and felt good: all — policeman, minister, nurse, street sweeper, interior designer, opera singer, personal trainer, supermarket cashier, tax collector… — had some advantages and some disadvantages. But then He got to the University Professor row. The Advantages entry was impressive: long holidays, decent salary, you basically get to do what you want, and so on; but the Disadvantages entry was empty! Such a scandalous discrepancy could not be tolerated. For a moment, a cloud obscured His face. He thought and thought and finally His smile came back. At that point, He had created colleagues.”

* * *

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 tennesseewaltzer:

Tennesseewaltzer writes: “Here is a roadside winter wonderland–this happens with snow and rain and freezing temperatures, which moderate to produce the icicles. Typically along a state thoroughfare cut through the local stone which undergirds so much of Middle Tennessee land.” I don’t think I can characterize water or stone as honorary plants, but this is a lovely winter scene, so herewith.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. Tom Stone

    I’m very happy with my SS COLA increase, after deducting my increased Medicare cost and adjusting for the decrease in food benefits from $68 Monthly to $45 monthly I’m ahead by $3.00.
    Joe Biden is the best President America has seen since Hillary Clinton.

    1. Screwball

      Funny how that works, isn’t it. Same thing last year, little bonus here, take it away (and then some) there.

      1. JBird4049

        My Mom has said the same thing. Every increase in her pension from CalPERS is matched by the increase in her Medicare payments. Meaning that she effectively never has had a COLA increase as all the other costs just keep going up as well.

        The Important People in the Know all say the Orange Man Bad is a threat to Our Democracy™ and that he will destroy the United States, if not the World, but somehow the cancellation of multiple Democratic primaries, the politicizing of the law, and the slow economic collapse, as well as the growing police state, is never mentioned or is pooh-pooh’d away.

        Maybe if the Democratic Party with its politicians and its subsidiary NGOs, glitterati, and literati, stopped telling me my eyes were lying to me and actually started to do actions and create policies that would help all Americans, I might actually vote for one of them. And the blasted means testing everyone has to go through just to get any kind of help, but not the wealthy and/or well connected.

        But they cannot even accept this even privately to themselves, it looks like. Meaning more Putin, Putin, Putin or whatever propaganda in 2024 while they lose it both politically and mentally.

        1. Screwball

          Agree, and I can’t wait until they don’t re-up my cable bill discount and I pay another 30 bucks a month for internet. It matters to retired people like me who are on fixed income.

          We all must sacrifice to save democracy ya know…

  2. Lou Anton

    Thanks as always, Lambo. With the deep freeze in the midwest, kids have been staying hope since Friday in a lot of places. Here’s hoping it temporarily neutralizes schools as a (the?) hot spot.

  3. Carolinian

    Re third place Haley and “heat”–wasn’t she somewhat ahead of DeSantis a couple of weeks ago? Seems like cold to me. Somebody tell the MSM.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Organization matters, and Hailey is one of tge more deranged candidates in recent years, kept afloat by a few donors and a hopeful msm.

      I figure GOP talent has been hiding with governors and such.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The most amazing thing to me about Iowa is that Trump actually had a ground game, and a good one. I wonder if they’ll roll that out to the Swing States, at least.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Twitter is one thing, but the only clip of Trump I’ve seen (I don’t watch much infotainment anymore) was Trump at the College Republicans in NYC. Playing to the crowd is one thing, but he seemed reined in.

          Keeping in mind Will Rogers observation, I think it wouldn’t take much for Trump to embrace GOP discipline or at least be controlled. Despite the cover missteps, he needed 90 thousands votes in three states. That should be sobering to Trump and his more rationale associates. Youngkin had a fairly even statewide increase. He performed well with parents of school age kids. PMC who consider wanting to try the nyt crossword puzzle to be the same as standing in a Wal mart parking lot registering voters aren’t going to organize for Biden no matter how hard they watch msdnc.

          Team Blue looks like they will have no enthusiasm, a party elite more concerned with insulting it’s potential voters, and an undisciplined and disinterested with the issues candidate. This was before Biden became a genocidal madman.

    2. Feral Finster

      I expect Haley’s stirring third place victory will be spun as the greatest triumph since The Battle Of Marathon of something.

        1. ambrit

          Get qith ye Illuminati Game Plan O Seer of Ye North.
          That’s Nikki Haley; America’s Most Organic Republican Candidate, or AMORC for short.
          As Above, So Below.

            1. ambrit

              Thou kennest o enlightened one.
              Join up ye divers dots to reveal ye esoteric sigil; a five pointed Starre!

    3. The Rev Kev

      Re third place Haley. Typically third prize here should be a set of steak knives. Come to think of it, giving knives to Halley should be the last thing that you do. Good news is that Vivek Ramaswamy flamed out so there is that. He is now throwing his support to Trump.

      1. Late Introvert

        But so is Kim Reynolds, who threw her very light weight support behind turd boy from Florida before throwing it back just yesterday when it was obvious creepy Ron would lose.

        I actually predicted Trump would choose Kim as running mate last year, so fessing up to that.

  4. antidlc

    She’s back:

    The under-prescribing of Paxlovid may be our biggest covid policy failure

    By Leana S. Wen
    Contributing columnist|
    January 16, 2024 at 7:30 a.m. EST

    The United States suffers from a litany of policy failures in the response to covid-19. Low vaccine uptake in vulnerable populations such as nursing homes remains a major problem, as does the lack of investment in local and state public health infrastructure.
    But one deficiency stands out above the rest: The antiviral medication Paxlovid is highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, yet the usage rate is staggeringly low. Only about 15 percent of high-risk individuals who contract the coronavirus are prescribed the drug.

    1. sleeplessintokyo

      She obviously either cannot read scientific literature or she chooses to ignore it.
      Paxlovid was shown to be effective (marginally so at that) only in unvaccinated. The results of ERIC SR were never published. Guess why?

      1. Lee

        And for a very large portion of the most vulnerable, the codgers like myself, Paxlovid is contraindicated due to drug interactions with medications commonly prescribed to control high blood pressure and other age related ailments.

      2. Bugs

        Let’s see that cite. It worked extremely well for myself, my spouse and family, all up to date on vaccination. Anecdotal sure, but believe me, it was night and day only an hour after taking it.

  5. lyman alpha blob

    Bill Ackman considers Phillips a good “investment”, does he?

    Kind of like how Nikki Haley let the cat out of the bag in the last debate when she told Desantis she knew the real reason he didn’t like her – because all his donors were giving to her now instead.

    Please though, keep making it clear who really matters in these elections, who the candidates are really “fighting for”, and then keep asking why people still want to vote for the Donald. Absolutely hilarious that we’re almost a decade in now and these asshats still can’t figure this out.

    1. nippersdad

      I absolutely loved Ackman’s tweet; there was just no self reflection at all in there. Saying the quiet part out loud, clearly it was written for fellow vampire capitalists, but anyone else reading that could see that their downsizing was imminent were he to get his way.

      The hatches have been battened against him, but Phillips is still someone to watch.

        1. nippersdad

          It’s not. As a down payment, though, it ain’t all that bad. Biden got a hundred million this quarter, and I have to wonder how much of that came from Ackman also. He is prolly hedging his bets.

  6. Jeff W

    “Klimt? Reminds me of Whistler!”

    Well, it’s a bit early, 1896, one year before Gustave Klimt founded the Secessionist Movement and two years before he completed his earliest Golden Phase work, Pallas Athene. And his signature Golden Phase really didn’t get underway till the first decade of the 20th century. So he wasn’t really painting what we, most people, anyway, think of as “Klimt” yet.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I was reacting to the colors and the brushwork. On reflection the composition is a bit strange, with the vertical blank on the right; I guess that reinforces the sense of “gathering round.” And the women do remind me of the gold period in their dress and hairstyle; these are more realistic versions.

  7. Nel

    39 percent of Americans surveyed said they think the Supreme Court should order Trump be kept on the ballot in all states.

    30% say strike him from the ballots. That 30% can continue to support the sysetem by filing income taxes etc.

    Depending what the court decides, the 39% should refuse to file in April.
    No taxation without representation.

    Put your money where your mouth is.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Where did those surveyed Americans live? Washington DC? New York city? San Francisco? Trump had such a massive win that I think that a lot of people will shelve plans of trying to have Trump kept off the ballots. Going by the results of that election, the blowback would be colossal and chaotic. Would they really be OK with the amount of civil disorder and the look internationally of a sitting President having his main rival banned?

      1. NYMutza

        Didn’t Vladimir Putin have his main rival jailed? Joe & Vlad as brothers in arms. Who knew? And all along I thought it was The Donald and Vlad who were soulmates.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Navalny? The guy that polled about 2% in elections. That guy? But if Project Ukraine had worked, I have no doubt that the west would have made him the President as he would have been one of ‘their’ guys.

          1. chris

            There have been a spate of articles discussing Navalny lately. He is no doubt a character that will be resurrected when needed. From a labor camp in Siberia if the latest reporting is accurate.

            I wonder if our elites are smart enough to think about the consequences of eliminating Trump using lawfare? I agree we might see some crazy coming from that decision but I don’t know if it would be enough to rattle the gilded cages of the people who abhor the deplorables.

  8. steppenwolf fetchit

    Nikki Haley is the Republican version of Joe Biden. Many Democrats will invade the Republican primaries to vote for Haley in the hopes that Haley gets thereby nominated. They will figure that if Biden gets defeated, a President Haley won’t be so bad.

    Meanwhile, if Trump get the Republican nomination regardless, he will choose for VP whomever hurt his feelings less effectively and got less under his skin. My feeling is he will choose the hapless DeSantis who will swallow his pride and submit to being Trump’s humble and lovable running mate.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      DeSantis has too much of a cartoon voice. He’s done. Florida isn’t at risk with a DWS campaign poisoning the well.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The Democrat Party in Florida must be really, really bad, to let this clown steamroll his way to victory in the Governor’s race. I mean, I knew they were bad. I just didn’t know they were this bad.

        1. ForFawkesSakes

          It’s unbelievably awful. Our most recent candidates were previously a Republican governor of the state over a decade ago and a guy found in a hotel room with a live boy and meth.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I can’t imagine Trump picking DeSantis. What’s in it for him? He can give DeSantis a Cabinet position, like DHS, where DeSantis’s experience at Gitmo should come in handy.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              The evangelicals are rationalizing their support for Pope Impious by claiming he may be imperfect, but he is still a vessel for god’s will. Lord works in mysterious ways and all. And he delivered for them – no more Roe.

              He doesn’t need a Xtian VP – they made him an honorary one.

      1. Pat

        I don’t know who Trump will pick, but I don’t think it will be Ron or Nikki. He can’t trust them. Ramaswarmy was trying but I don’t think he will make it either. There is probably a shortlist of people they will consider for all key positions. I think there are a couple of cabinet slots that aren’t prime for bribe handouts, for instance we learned Transportation can be done long distance and incompetently with Mayo Pete.

        I may not have oodles of respect for Trump, but I do think he is more strategic and aware than Democrats give him credit. He didn’t get through his first term without learning some things, including that just like NY many people in DC will smile to your face but not hesitate to knife you in the back. He has had time to really consider his choices.

        1. SocalJimObjects

          Ivanka Trump for VP. With her looks, she will neutralize both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama should they decide to run. America would not be able to resist a hot blonde.

          1. Mikel

            I remember the rumor from back around 2020 that his handlers had to talk him down from that choice back then.

      2. Utan

        I don’t think he can pick Desantis as VP because they’re from the same state. I don’t remember the law, but it’s old. But maybe it’s just a norm and not a law.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Article II, Section 1 (the Twelfth Amendment) (1804):

          The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;–The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates…

          As I read it, that means that the electors of, say, Florida, can vote for one candidate from Florida, but not both (i.e., not DeSantis and Trump). This would not, however, prevent both President and Vice President from being from Colorado.

          From the Civics Project, Palm Beach Post:

          There actually is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevents candidates for President and Vice President who live in the same state from running together. As a practical matter, it might be a bad idea, since presidential tickets are often put together to create geographic diversity. But, having two from the same state is permissible.

          The confusion comes from a misinterpretation of the Constitution. Article II, paragraph 3 states that “The electors … shall vote for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.” It’s a bit of unclear, but what it prohibits is an elector from casting both of his or her votes for candidates from the same state in which the elector lives.

          The provision stems from the original manner in which we elected a President. Until it was changed in 1804, Electoral College electors would vote for two people. The winner of the most votes would be the President, and the candidate finishing second became the Vice President. The purpose of the provision was to try and force electors to look outside their own political circles, and to make sure that the largest states did not create a monopoly on viable candidates.

          However, you can probably see the problem. The chief vote-getters are likely to be political rivals, and not exactly strong candidates to work together. In 1796, John Adams was elected President, with the runner-up being political rival Thomas Jefferson. As has been popularized in the stage play “Hamilton,” neither Adams nor Jefferson was a fan of the arrangement.

          In 1804, the United States adopted the 12th Amendment, which addresses some of the confusion around the Electoral College and altered the process. The Vice President was put on a separate ballot, allowing electors to vote for one person for President and another person for Vice President. Now, candidates for both offices simply run together as a unified ticket. However, the residual requirement that the electors could not cast both ballots for a person from their own state was not removed.

          (To me, “political rivals” glosses over the fact that parties have never had standing in our written Constitution, though obviously they are essential elements in our unwritten one.)

          As a practical matter, somebody better at arithmetic than I am might explain what happens when the electors of California meet, and the presidential candidate is — hear me out — Harris, and the vice-presidential candidate is Newsom. I guess they’d have to split their votes, and California has a lot of votes, so what then?

          1. scott s.

            Presumably electors would vote for someone else for VP, assuming state law doesn’t attempt to bind electors to popular vote. That might result in VP not receiving a majority, with decision moving to the Senate to select from the top two by majority vote per Amendment XII.

            If sate law binds electors to popular vote, then I think the legislature would see the problem and amend the law accordingly. If the votes of the electors were certified with both Harris and Newsom, seems like we have another “J6″/1876 on our hands.

    3. petal

      I think the “dems invading republican primaries to vote for Haley” is going to happen in NH. Maybe I’m wrong, but the TDS is strong here.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Ha ha, all the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” types vote for Haley, and as a result screw up the write-in campaign for Biden, giving Phillips a strong enough finish for the press to declare him the real winner, or at least a legitimate candidate. Of course, Clyburn’s South Carolina machine would shortly burst that bubble, but think of the entertainment value.

  9. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: Primaries: On the plus side, at least we got one libertarian tech bro squillionaire off the stage. (at least until he shows up on the jury panel of some reality show).

    Thank the voters of Iowa for small gifts.

    1. chris

      I enjoyed having Vivek around. If nothing else, he continued in Trump’s footsteps of asking reasonable questions that our leaders have decided shall not be discussed. Like his points on Israel, prior to 10/7, asking why the US can’t treat that country like every other country it deals with. A simple question. It sent the media and the donor class into paroxysms for two weeks. Now we don’t have anyone asking those questions in the race. What a pity.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Would not have wanted him near the gears of power. Remember when Vivek called for the IDF to behead the top 100 leaders of Hamas and line their heads up on stakes along the Israel-Gaza border? With instincts like that, what would he have been prepared to do to ordinary Americans who opposed him if he was the Prez? trying to be too mach by half.

  10. DJG, Reality Czar

    Bill Ackman throws his weight around again. Wowsers: He’s making Berlusconi look charming. That twiXt.

    Highlights: “Recently, I found a great leader who is looking to run a huge business that has lost its way, where enormous value can be created, and where huge societal benefit is the resulting outcome, if the business can be turned around.”

    Not even a damned new way of vomiting up the bile. Can’t his wife add some kicky plagiarized material?

    And this: “The business is burdened with significant pension liabilities, high healthcare costs, a massive and wasteful bureaucracy, and an enormous amount of debt.”

    I enjoyed the many product placements for his company, Peerless Grifting.

    I’m leaning more and more toward The Root’s thinking about Claudine Gay and her brush with the greatness that is Bill Ackman:

    This guy should be nowhere near the government of the United States.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘The business is burdened with significant pension liabilities, high healthcare costs, a massive and wasteful bureaucracy, and an enormous amount of debt.’

      I guess that his idea would be too privatize social security and medicare, privatize all government jobs except for foreign affairs and defence and then that debt would just magically “disappear”. Maybe. Bill Ackman’s motto for this plan would be ‘Welcome to Chop-Shop America.’

    2. MichaelC

      And yet he is a key and powerful player/funder of the Israeli lobby running this Palestine genocide operation, along w Leslie Wexner (Epstein’s godfather) et al.
      And they had the chutzpa to out themselves so effectively with the Congressional smackdown of the Ivy top dogs for getting out of line/off message.

      This isn’t going to age well for them, one hopes.

  11. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added orts and scraps — with a lot of interesting material on Iowa. Turns out Trump actually had an excellent ground game, even if he personally didn’t go to Pizza Ranch. I think I had to leave one comment on the cutting room floor, but it was to the effect that “Some of the candidates go to all 90 counties. Trump doesn’t need to, because the 90 counties come to him.” Hopefully more on the Covid front tomorrow; lots happening there, too, besides what we all devoutly hope is a peak.

  12. Jason Boxman

    It’s worth noting that since that trough in 2022, we’ve had almost consistently above 20% or even 25% positivity of the people that still choose to get tested at Walgreens. And testing is no longer free. I wonder how long the lines would be, if free PCR testing were still available; likely the reason it was nixed some years ago. A lot of people will do what’s in the public interest, if told what that is. Curiously, the Biden administration is intent upon obscuring behavior in the public interest. Odd, that.

  13. ChrisRUEcon


    … lemme just thrown another log on this fire.

    Via x/Twitter:

    Biden is scheduled to travel to Michigan at the end of the month to meet with Arab American voters.

    There is a problem – many are rejecting the invite to meet, while others have rebuffed outreach efforts.

    The meetings are in jeopardy, and currently looking like they won’t happen in Dearborn, which was the Biden team first and preferred choice.

    Don’t be surprised if this trip is “postponed due to scheduling.”

    Reality is starting to set in for many that our community won’t forgot about the genocide.

    1. Feral Finster

      The only reason anyone, much less any Arab, should meet with Biden is to call him a murderer and genocidal sociopath.

      As loudly, frequently and publicly as possible.

  14. Feral Finster

    An Iowan friend tells me that Trump won 98 of Iowa’s 99 counties, and he lost ultra-liberal Johnson County (home of the University Of Iowa) by one vote.

    My friend is a Trump fan living in Johnson County and is kicking himself for not having gone to the caucus there.

  15. Glen

    So just a short weather report here from the PNW based on today’s plant image – it’s cold here (not as cold as many other places in the country, but for us – COLD), and everything here is frozen hard. I can only remember it being this cold for this long one other time in my forty years of living here.

    Some anecdotal data points:
    The water system on one of the Washington State ferries froze, and not one tied up in Eagle Harbor at the maintenance yard, it was the one running the Bainbridge Island to Seattle route.
    There are ice floes dumping into Commencement Bay (Tacoma) from the rivers.

    Hang in there everybody – it will warm up!

  16. William Beyer

    The Dominion voting machine case in Georgia should be interesting. I’ve been following it since 2018, along with other “black box” voting system horror stories. If you haven’t read “Votescam,” a book by Jim and Ken Collier published by Jim’s daughter, Victoria after their deaths, you should. Rigging voting machines has been going on as long as there have been machines for voting.

  17. Pat

    I wonder if all those good Democrats who are urging friends and acquaintances to cross over to Republican primaries to vote for Nikki Haley have considered that they may give the silent disgruntled Democrats who are unhappy with Biden and not even having an alternative to vote for might go and vote for Trump. There might not be as many as the Haley crossovers, but I am sure there are more than a few possible Trump crossovers.

  18. lyman alpha blob

    RE: ….I never heard an Iowan ask a question with a local spin.

    To use the stereotypical example given by the author – the rurals only care about farm issues – maybe the reason that the locals aren’t concerned about ethanol or soybean prices is because they don’t own the farms themselves anymore. Small farmers can’t make a go of it. My own family’s dairy farm with its 60 milking cows ended a 100 year run in 2023. From what I understand, the situation is similar in Iowa, with big agribusiness firms owning things for the most part. The person who cares about soybean prices is on the Chicago trading floor or sitting with their feet up on the desk in the C-suite at big ag HQ.

    Decades of neoliberalism have hollowed out the small towns and killed off small farms and the main streets they supported. What the locals care about these days are the prices at the dollar store, which is about all that’s left in a lot of small towns. And to the extent they care about border policy, might that be because of all the undocumented people big ag hires from south of said border which drives down wages for everybody?

    1. Screwball

      From an almost 70 year old who grew up in Ohio farm country I think this is correct. What a shame.

  19. petal

    WMUR/ABC News Republican New Hampshire primary debate canceled

    Snip:”MANCHESTER, N.H. —A Republican presidential primary debate planned for Thursday in New Hampshire has been canceled after two of the three candidates who qualified for the stage have declined to participate.

    Former President Donald Trump and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley declined invitations to Thursday’s WMUR/ABC News debate Thursday.

    The other major Republican presidential candidate who had met the debate criteria, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, had agreed to participate.”

  20. Mikel

    Trump kinda did a Kobe Bryant. Remember when he had that court case for sexual assualt and still showed up at a game and destroyed the competition?
    (Don’t have a horse in this year’s race, just repeating an analogy that I overheard).

  21. kareninca

    Today I had to stop by the lab at the giant HMO in Silicon Valley where my elderly relative gets his medical care. I have never seen the place so jammed. I needed to drive down to the deep parking levels, where I typically easily find a place to park, and they were all full; I had to wait for someone to vacate a parking space. The facility itself was thronged; people were wearing surgical masks (as is required), but hardly anyone was wearing an N95.

    As I stood in line at the lab (wearing my N95, having used Xlear and taken a claritin and wearing my AirTamer), the lady behind me, who was in her 40s, was telling her friend about her symptoms. She said that she was so tired she couldn’t move most of the time. She could do one tiny thing, but then she lost all energy, and had to sleep for hours.

    A 51 year old lady in my home town just died “suddenly and unexpectedly.” And a person in my zoom reading group just emailed the group to say he wouldn’t be attending for a while because of a sudden and unexpected death in his family. This is a real wave.

  22. Glen

    I must have missed this:

    Davos 2024: Ukraine to hold fourth peace formula talks on Sunday

    Of course, Russia is not invited so despite Davos’s best efforts to avoid multiple bouts of covid and long covid, it looks like their understanding of how peace talks work is mentally impaired. But still, interesting of all those billionaire elites to identify themselves in this fashion.

    I will have to re-read all that Russia has said about Ukraine’s allies and targeting opportunities. Given that Iran just took out some sort of “businessman”, they might want to keep a lower profile:

    Iranian Ballistic Missile Strike Kills Prominent Businessman In Iraqi Kurdistan

    Those billionaires travel all over the place don’t they? Sometimes $hit happens – even to private jets.

  23. Mikel

    The internet is undefeated:
    – “Imagine if Biden and Trump both die before the elections”
    – “Calls on tinfoil.”

  24. Delly

    Mr. Putin, send me a dream,

    A Kinzhal with a non-nuke to

    cream the globalist team,

    plop it into Davos and

    hear them scream, the whole

    world will thank you…

    Seriously, one precision guided munition
    could take them all out at once,
    what a favor to the world that would be!

    Sung to tune of Mr. Sandman

  25. kareninca

    I am putting my money on Elise Stefanik being Trump’s VP pick. I have read no rumors to that effect; I am predicting her because she is smart and tough and very loyal. I think she is probably like some of his high level hotel employees in that way, so he will feel he can trust her.

  26. griffen

    I recognize the morning hours are already here, but got around to reading the above article from American Prospect. I think I am going to share this among a few family members at a minimum…explaining Trump to non city dwellers and it does so cohesively. When all you’ve gotten as your reward, as a supporting voter, is an empty bag of promises ( thanks Obama, thanks Hillary ) then the choice becomes a bit more obvious.

    I also liked the summarizing paragraph at the end. Is the industrial policy from both the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPs Act a possible way forward…to be determined. I concede it is far too early in the actual building of factories to know.

Comments are closed.