2:00PM Water Cooler 1/31/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Northern Shrike, Chemin Bradley, St-Armand, Brome-Missisquoi, Quebec, Canada.

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

The Constitutional Order (Invasion)

“Election Countdown, 282 Days to Go: The “States’ Rights” Era Returns.” [James Fallows, Breaking the News]. “This past Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US federal government had jurisdiction over US national borders. And specifically that if Texas National Guard and other Texas forces kept installing razor wire along the Rio Grande, on orders from Governor Greg Abbott, they could not prevent US Border Patrol officers from removing it. The Supreme Court ruling came with no explanation and was only by a 5-4 margin. It’s a sign of our times that this was even a close call, given longstanding Court rulings that the national government controls national borders. Americans hold passports from the United States, not from Iowa or California. When an international flight lands at Newark airport, inbound passengers deal with federal agents, not New Jersey state police…. The politics of immigration and ‘the mess at the border’ are long-brewing and increasingly nasty. But the Texas reaction is significant. The Supreme Court said: Here is what you will do. Texas said: We won’t. That’s oversimplified but not by much. Even more important is what happened next. Apart from Greg Abbott in Texas, there are 26 other Republican governors. All but one of them signed a letter three days ago, supporting the Texas assertion of ‘Constitutional Right to Self-Defense.'” • To be fair, gun-humping does scale. Look at Biden’s foreign policy! Handy map:

Good think those nukes in North Dakota are obsolete….

“Republican Governors Band Together, Issue Joint Statement Supporting Texas’ Constitutional Right to Self-Defense” [Republican Governors Association]. “The authors of the U.S. Constitution made clear that in times like this, states have a right of self-defense, under Article 4, Section 4 and Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution. Because the Biden Administration has abdicated its constitutional compact duties to the states, Texas has every legal justification to protect the sovereignty of our states and our nation.” • Compact theory. Hat tip, Greg Abbott (far more effective and dangerous than that short fella from Florida).

Biden Administration

“Our Open Border Policy Is Not an Accident” [Michael Lind, The Tablet]. “Over the past three years, the Biden administration has effectively rewritten U.S. immigration law, creating an entirely new stream of quasi-legal immigration under the rubric of “parole.” The discretion of the federal government to grant parole or legal residence and work permits to a small number of refugees and other foreign nationals has been used by the Biden administration to rip a hole in America’s southern border in order to invite millions of foreign nationals, most of them from Latin America and Central America and the Caribbean, to travel to the U.S. border, from which they are dispersed across the country and supported chiefly by state and local governments and government-funded NGOs. As of September 2023, an estimated 3.8 million immigrants entered the U.S. under the Biden administration. Of these, 2.3 million have been given Notices to Appear (NTAs) before an immigration court—which could allow them to stay in the U.S. in a ‘twilight status’ for years before a court date. Of the rest, an estimated 1.5 million are illegal immigrants who sneaked across the border or overstayed their visas and remain, with the government having no idea of their whereabouts, and with Democrat-dominated ‘sanctuary cities’ actively thwarting the ability of federal immigration officials to identify and deport them.” And: “America’s economic elite agrees that immigrant-driven wage suppression, thanks in part to Biden’s policies, has ameliorated inflation. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell in 2022 attributed inflation in part to lower numbers of immigrants. The chief political economist of Goldman Sachs, Alec Phillips, recently declared that ‘the labor market has started to loosen up,’ reducing the ability of workers to bid up wages: ‘And there’s clearly been a disproportionate contribution from immigrants.’ Although immigrants are only 18% of the workforce, three-quarters of the increase in the labor supply over the last two years [i.e., since the pandemic] has consisted of immigrant workers.” • Making up the million lost to Covid, I would imagine, who were disproportionately working class.


Less than a year to go!

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Trump (R): “Trump Will Win” [The American Conservative]. “Trump’s voters look for America and worry they see a future Brazil. Their detractors blame the Electoral College, or talk radio, or ignorance, or Putin. So are Trump’s win in 2016 and likely win in 2024 inexplicable? Try again.” • Hard to excerpt…

Trump (R): “This Isn’t Only a Trump Election” [Peggy Noonan]. “[Haley] could ruminate on the Trump tragedy. He was a breakthrough figure, he did defeat a weak and detached establishment. But he can’t be president again because there’s something wrong with him. We [who?] all know this, we all use different words to describe the ‘something,’ but we know what it produces: impeachments, embarrassments, scandal, 1/6.” All of which appear by spontaneous generation, apparently. More: “Meanwhile three things cause unique disquiet among the non-Trump-supporting majority in America, especially after Iowa. One is that in 2016 Trump supporters didn’t know precisely what they were getting. Now they do. Eight years ago it was a very American thing to do, giving the outsider a chance. You never know in life, people grow in office, the presidency softens rough edges. That didn’t happen. They know what they’re electing now. Second, when Mr. Trump first came in, in 2017, he didn’t know a president’s true and legitimate powers, he wasn’t interested in history, wasn’t up nights reading Robert Caro. He got rolled by a Republican Congress, was too incompetent to get a wall, was surrounded by political aides who were inexperienced and unaccomplished—the famous “island of broken toys.” This time he’ll go in with experience and can be more effectively bad. How long will it take before he starts saying the Constitution mandates a limit of two presidential terms, but his second term was stolen so that means he gets another term after this one? Third, Mr. Trump shouldn’t be president, and neither should Joe Biden, because they aren’t what we need for the future. What do we need? Someone who feels in her or his gut the wound of the open border and will stop illegal immigration; someone who can cut through the knot of ‘globalism’ vs. ‘isolationism,’ a serious argument that is becoming a cartoon one (internationalists don’t really want to start wars all over; isolationists know we are part of the world and can’t just pull up the bridge). If we can cut through all that we’ll go some distance to forging a true national stance toward the world, and only then can we answer the proper strategy toward China, the responsibility of America in Asia and the Mideast. Someone who can take on identity politics, who knows we all must stand equal. Someone who can reiterate the idea that we do have national values. Those few (but huge) things, if a leader got them right, would mark a national comeback, and not a further sinking into the mire of the dramas of the past decade.” • Hey, how about not whacking a few hundred thousand people after declaring the Covid pandemic is over?

Trump (R): “Trump Is Not the Cause of the Chaos” [RealClearPolitics]. “Trump’s chief primary opponent, Nikki Haley, says that “chaos” accompanies him. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan argues that ‘impeachments, embarrassments, scandal, [and] 1/6’ follow in his wake. Democrats and their stenographers at once-great news organizations say Trump’s description of his enemies as ‘vermin’ upon whom he will seek “retribution” is proof that he plans to rule as a murderous dictator. In their telling, all of this has come out of thin air – the uncaused cause and inevitable result of Trump’s movement across the landscape. Like the winds and thunderclaps of yore, he unleashes himself upon an innocent people. The tumult is solely a reflection of his evil nature. This is superficial to the point of being laughable, but it’s the story they’re telling. Trump is not the cause of this uproar. The behavior they deem beyond the pale and disqualifying is largely the effect of the vicious and dishonest attacks they have leveled against him since he announced his candidacy in 2015. Donald Trump is the greatest victim not felled by an assassin in the history of the presidency. No one has more of a right to express grievance than this man whose enemies have sought retribution against him for the sin of winning an election. He is not a cosmic force determined to impose his will, but a man under siege who largely lashes out in self-defense.”

Trump (R): “To beat Trump, we need to know why Americans keep voting for him. Psychologists may have the answer: [George Monbiot]. “Trump is king of the extrinsics. Some psychologists believe our values tend to cluster around certain poles, described as “intrinsic” and “extrinsic”. People with a strong set of intrinsic values are inclined towards empathy, intimacy and self-acceptance. They tend to be open to challenge and change, interested in universal rights and equality, and protective of other people and the living world. People at the extrinsic end of the spectrum are more attracted to prestige, status, image, fame, power and wealth. They are strongly motivated by the prospect of individual reward and praise. They are more likely to objectify and exploit other people, to behave rudely and aggressively and to dismiss social and environmental impacts. They have little interest in cooperation or community. People with a strong set of extrinsic values are more likely to suffer from frustration, dissatisfaction, stress, anxiety, anger and compulsive behaviour. Trump exemplifies extrinsic values.” • Wowsers. DId I grumble recently about binary thinking? Or projection? Or cope?

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Trump (R): “The Beltway Judge Hearing Trump Cases and Her Anti-Trump, Anti-Kavanaugh Husband” [Julie Kelly, RealClearInvestigations]. “For months progressives have been insisting that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any case that involves Trump because of his wife Ginni Thomas’ political involvement and participation in the events of Jan. 6. Those same interests have yet to express similar worries about [Judge Florence Y. Pan’s] objectivity, despite her husband’s longtime political activism and current opposition to another Trump presidency… Power couples are the lifeblood of Washington so it’s not unusual for political activists, judges, and White House bigwigs to rub elbows at fancy soirees like the October gala at the Kennedy Center. But Max Stier’s longtime ties to the Democratic Party, his access to key Biden administration officials, and his suggestion that Trump represents a threat to democracy at the same time his wife is handling sensitive matters related to the Department of Justice’s prosecution of the former president should raise questions about her impartiality.”

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Biden (D): “Why Is Biden Running?” [Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal]. Jenkins is a member of the Journal’s editorial board. “If Mr. Biden heeded the wishes of apparently 70% of voters, not only would he be freer now to take some steps vis-à-vis Iran and others that might be good for the country. Dominating the political news wouldn’t be Mr. Trump’s rout of a weakly contested GOP primary. It would be the thrilling battle of a fresh-faced generation of Democrats for the privilege of taking on the scandalized Mr. Trump and, in all likelihood, becoming the next president.” And: “If Mr. Trump is such a danger to America, democracy and apple pie, shouldn’t Mr. Biden be heeding voters, stepping aside and opening the door to a new generation of Democrats—albeit not represented by Adam Schiff, of course—with some class and decency, who can put up a better show against Mr. Trump?” • Correct. Everybody knows what a strong bench the Democrats have!

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D: “Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza” [New York Times]. “As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, a coalition of Black faith leaders is pressuring the Biden administration to push for a cease-fire — a campaign spurred in part by their parishioners, who are increasingly distressed by the suffering of Palestinians and critical of the president’s response to it. More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The effort at persuasion also carries a political warning, detailed in interviews with a dozen Black faith leaders and their allies. Many of their parishioners, these pastors said, are so dismayed by the president’s posture toward the war that their support for his re-election bid could be imperiled.” • Interesting, but I search in vain for a mention of South Carolina.

D: Some state Democrats breaking with the national party on Gaza:

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“Pandemic lessons for the 2024 US presidential election” [BMJ]. “During the devastating global covid-19 pandemic, one nation stood out: the United States saw “eye wateringly high” death rates compared with its peer nations. The 1.16 million Americans killed by covid-19 represent 16% of global deaths in a nation with 4% of the world’s population. One in three Americans knows someone who died from covid-19, about 300 000 children are estimated to have lost one or both parents, and there is a substantial burden of long covid.” On the bright side, we can eat again at Appleby’s with no masks! A new series at BMJ. See under Class Warfare.

Republican Funhouse

“Right-wing media figures target Taylor Swift with absurd conspiracy theory ahead of the Super Bowl” [CNN]. Not a fan of Swift’s, given her tour of superspreading events. “Right-wing media is burning red at Taylor Swift. With the Kansas City Chiefs headed to Super Bowl LVIII, influential MAGA Media personalities have started circulating conspiracy theories about the pop superstar, promoting the deranged notion that she is part of a sprawling psychological operations plot staged by the NFL and Democratic Party to deliver the 2024 presidential election to President Joe Biden. The attacks on Swift have been steadily building for weeks (see Fox News host Jesse Watters asking on his prime time program earlier this month if Swift is a ‘Pentagon asset,’ for example), but it reached a fever pitch on Monday. The bad blood is related to Swift’s 2020 endorsement of President Joe Biden and the fact that Travis Kelce, the Chiefs tight end whom she is dating, participated in an advertising campaign for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. A Monday story published by The New York Times, which noted Biden would like Swift’s endorsement again this year, added fuel to the fire.” • “I need to be on the right side of history”:

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Democrats rashly ignore political problems among their own usual voters” [Washington Examiner]. Well-meant advice from Republicans to Democrats, a genre unto itself. Nevertheless: “Biden’s problems include inflation, the border crisis, the Middle East, and his advanced age. The one most ignored, though, is the sin Clinton committed and Biden is continuing: the utter dismissal of the lives, their interests, and the contributions to this country of the people who live in places like here in Boone County or in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, or Mahoning County, Ohio, or Kenosha County, Wisconsin or Macomb County, Michigan.” • Or East Palestine, OH.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Americans Losing Trust in Nearly All Professions” [America’s New Majority Project]. “An initiative led by Gingrich 360,” so cum grano salis. Nevertheless:

Gallup’s 2023 Honesty and Ethics poll asked 800 respondents from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20 to rate the honesty and ethical standards of 23 listed professions. Nearly all answered negatively compared to previous years, following a downward trend in ratings since 2019:

  • 56% rate doctors highly, down from 65% in 2019. 
  • 45% rate police officers highly, down from 54% in 2019. 
  • 42% rate college teachers highly, down from 49% in 2019. 
  • 32% rate clergy highly, down from 40% in 2019. 
  • 19% rate journalists highly, down from 28% in 2019. 
  • 12% rate business leaders highly, down from 20% in 2019.

“Mapping the Lobbying Footprint of Harmful Industries: 23 Years of Data From OpenSecrets” [The Milbank Quarterly]. “We found that the ultraprocessed food industry spent the most on lobbying ($1.15 billion), followed by gambling ($817 million), tobacco ($755 million), and alcohol ($541 million). Overall, companies were more active than trade associations, with associations being least active in the tobacco industry. Spending was often highly concentrated, with two organizations accounting for almost 60% of tobacco spending and four organizations accounting for more than half of alcohol spending. Lobbyists that had formerly worked in government were mainly employed by third-party lobby firms.” And the lead: “The definition of commercial determinants of health (CDoHs) set out in The Lancet 2023 series recognizes that commercial actors are diverse and have different impacts on health. Yet too often, public health advocates fail to make these distinctions, referring to ‘the industry’ or ‘corporations’ as a proxy for harmful commercial actors. This lack of nuance stymies efforts to develop a science of commercial determinants.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Testing and Tracking

“Continued selection on cryptic SARS-CoV-2 observed in Missouri wastewater” [PLOS Pathogens]. From the Abstract: “Deep sequencing of wastewater to detect SARS-CoV-2 has been used during the COVID-19 pandemic to monitor viral variants as they appear and circulate in communities. SARS-CoV-2 lineages of an unknown source that have not been detected in clinical samples, referred to as cryptic lineages, are sometimes repeatedly detected from specific locations. We have continued to detect one such lineage previously seen in a Missouri site. This cryptic lineage has continued to evolve, indicating continued selective pressure similar to that observed in Omicron lineages.” And: “The convergence of the cryptic lineage and Omicron variants suggest similar selection pressures. The origin of Omicron and the origin of the MO45 cryptic lineage are unknown. At least in some cases, cryptic lineages appear to be derived from individuals with persistent SARS-CoV-2 infections. However, as the MO45 cryptic lineage hasn’t been traced, a non-human source cannot be ruled out. Since the cryptic lineage in some cases acquired changes prior to Omicron, continued monitoring of waste water for such cryptic lineages may provide foreknowledge of changes, or at least the position of changes, likely to be selected for in the circulating Omicron variants.”


“Can the government ask social media sites to take down Covid misinformation? SCOTUS will weigh in” [STAT]. ” The Supreme Court will this March hear arguments centered on the government’s role in communicating — and sometimes censoring — pertinent public health information in the midst of a pandemic. At the core of the lawsuit is whether the federal government’s requests for social media and search giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to moderate Covid-19 misinformation violated users’ First Amendment rights. While the suit was originally filed by then-Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt — and known as Missouri v. Biden — a range of plaintiffs arguing that the Biden administration suppressed their Covid-19 content later joined. Those include Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, who co-authored a paper, the Great Barrington Declaration, advancing the theory that people could achieve herd immunity without vaccines.” Jay, Martin, good job. More: “The case is now referred to as Murthy v. Missouri. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — the same court that heard the mifepristone case that will head to the Supreme Court later in March — ruled that a range of government agencies, including the Health and Human Services Department, the State Department, and cybersecurity officials, were prohibited from influencing social media companies’ content-moderation policies.” • On the Great Barrington Declaration:

An open letter that made headlines calling for a herd immunity approach to Covid-19 lists a number of apparently fake names among its expert signatories, including “Dr Johnny Bananas” and “Professor Cominic Dummings”.

The Great Barrington declaration, which was said to have been signed by more than 15,000 scientists and medical practitioners around the world, was found by Sky News to contain numerous false names, as well as those of several homeopaths.

Others listed include a resident at the “university of your mum” and another supposed specialist whose name was the first verse of the Macarena.

Sky News discovered 18 self-declared homeopaths in the list of expert names and more than 100 therapists whose expertise included massage, hypnotherapy and Mongolian khoomii singing.

Sky News yet! One can only wonder why GBD got the traction that it did.


“Omicron Spike confers enhanced infectivity and interferon resistance to SARS-CoV-2 in human nasal tissue” [Nature]. From the Abtract: “Omicron emerged following COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, displaced previous SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern worldwide, and gave rise to lineages that continue to spread. Here, we show that Omicron exhibits increased infectivity in primary adult upper airway tissue relative to Delta. Using recombinant forms of SARS-CoV-2 and nasal epithelial cells cultured at the liquid-air interface, we show that mutations unique to Omicron Spike enable enhanced entry into nasal tissue. Unlike earlier variants of SARS-CoV-2, our findings suggest that Omicron enters nasal cells independently of serine transmembrane proteases and instead relies upon metalloproteinases to catalyze membrane fusion. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this entry pathway unlocked by Omicron Spike enables evasion from constitutive and interferon-induced antiviral factors that restrict SARS-CoV-2 entry following attachment. Therefore, the increased transmissibility exhibited by Omicron in humans may be attributed not only to its evasion of vaccine-elicited adaptive immunity, but also to its superior invasion of nasal epithelia and resistance to the cell-intrinsic barriers present therein.” • Good thing those nasal vaccines are proceeding at an Operation Warp Speed pace! Oh, wait…


“Lung function trajectories in mild COVID-19 with two-year follow-up” (accepted manuscript) [Journal of Infectious Diseases]. N = 52. From the Abstract: “Objective To characterize lung function dynamics in individuals with mild COVID-19 from pre-infection to two years post-infection…. Conclusion Our results indicate that mild COVID-19 infection affects lung function at time of infection with limited recovery two years after infection.”

Elite Maleficence

The sheer historical ignorance of “vax and relax”:

We seem to instinctively — or not, perhaps, instinctively — reject multilayered solutions. This goes for “The Swiss Cheese Model” as well.

NOTE This is an attempt to improve the legibility of Twitter screen dumps. Is it working?

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot January 29: Regional[2] Biobot January 29:
Variants[3] CDC January 27 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC January 20
New York[5] New York State, data January 29: National [6] CDC January 20:
National[7] Walgreens January 29: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic January 27:
Travelers Data
Positivity[8] CDC January 8: Variants[9] CDC January 8:
Weekly deaths New York Times January 20: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times January 20:


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] Even after a decline, we’re still higher than any of the surges under Trump.

[2] Slight increase in MWRA wastewater data, as of January 25, i.e. the incubation period from the student’s return:

[3] “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.

[4] “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.

[5] Decrease for the city aligns with wastewater data.

[6] “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†”.

[7] -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.)

[8] Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US hired 107K workers in January 2024, below a downwardly revised 158K in December and forecasts of 145K. Services-providing companies were responsible for 77K jobs, while goods producers added 30K.”

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “Chicago PMI in the United States decreased to 46 points in January from 47.20 points in December of 2023.”

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Manufacturing: “Intel’s Humbling” [Stratechery]. “At Intel, manufacturing has always called the shots. The design side of the company had to accommodate the fabs, whether that be using their archaic design software, working around manufacturing challenges, or figuring out how to make a faster chip on recycled equipment. This made sense for a long time, but there was a cost: Intel designs stopped being innovative and became dependent on Intel’s manufacturing for performance; when Intel’s manufacturing prowess hit a wall Intel’s designs were exposed…. Intel did none of these things, and had a mentality and culture that ran in the exact opposite direction: in a foundry, manufacturing is not king but a servant; customer sales is not about “take-it-or-leave-it” but “let us help you solve your problem.” I was — and frankly, remain — dubious about Intel’s ability to create that sort of culture internally….” • Hard to excerpt for me, since I’m neither a chip nor a Silicon Valley maven. It does seem, however, that Intel is doing better than Boeing. That’s a mercy!

The Economy: “U.S. winning world economic war” [Axios]. “Strong growth in the U.S. labor force was one factor — both due to more Americans choosing to enter the workforce and a surge in immigration. • Hmm. Immigration?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 74 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 31 at 1:47:04 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

“Elmo’s wellness check uncovers existential dread and despair on social media” [NBC]. Here’s the Tweet:

More: “All Elmo did was ask a simple question, but the responses were so overwhelming that ‘Sesame Street’s’ official X account shared a link to mental health resources.”

Class Warfare

“American Oligarchy” [Mother Jones]. Here’s the lead: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered an unprecedented crackdown by the United States and other Western nations on the mansions, megayachts, and bank accounts of Russia’s ultrawealthy tycoons. Yet targeting Russia’s oligarchs surfaced some uncomfortable questions about our own political and financial systems and the people who shape them. So we thought it was time for a good, long look in the mirror. For our January + February 2024 issue, Mother Jones explores the rise and power of the emerging class of billionaires—fueled by the monopolistic growth of Big Tech—who are remaking America in their own decadent and extractive image. Their bored whims and futuristic fantasies shape how and where you live and work, even as their own worlds are increasingly siloed off from the rest of us. Welcome to the American Oligarchy.” • I don’t know what’s gotten into Mother Jones. Anyhow, here’s the TOC. David Corn makes an appearance, and there’s nothing from Stoller, so I dunno….

“US workers during the covid-19 pandemic: uneven risks, inadequate protections, and predictable consequences” [BMJ]. Key Messages:

  • Covid-19 disproportionately affected workers who had to leave home and go to work to keep society functioning

  • Low wage Black and Hispanic workers were disproportionately represented among workers who could not work from home, and disproportionately affected

  • Actions by US occupational and public health agencies fell far short of what was needed to make workplaces safe during the pandemic

  • Protecting worker health in the next pandemic requires action now for paid family and medical leave, better social supports, and better workplace protection policies

Musical interlude.

“More People Are Being Classified as Gig Workers. That’s Bad for Everyone” [New York Times]. “What comes to mind when you think of a mom-and-pop small business: A hardware store? A diner? A family-run clothing store or small-scale supermarket? Here’s one that’s probably never crossed your mind: a dishwashing business. By that, I mean a business of a single person — unincorporated, no business address or capital behind him, just one guy — working as a dishwasher for a restaurant, using the restaurant’s machinery to wash the restaurant’s dishes on the restaurant’s premises. Two explosive enforcement actions disclosed by the City and County of Denver this month expose the lengths to which some corporations will go in trying to exploit the ‘gig’ business model. At issue is whether dishwashers and others like them, placed in their jobs by online temporary staffing agencies, are employees of the agencies or independent contractors running their own businesses.”

The peasants did rather well after the Black Death. For awhile, anyhow:

News of the Wired

“I Spent My Childhood as a Guinea Pig for Science. It Was … Great?” [Slate]. “In my earliest recollection from the story of my life as a human lab rat, I’m 7 or 8 years old. I’m sitting in an experiment room in Tolman Hall, a Brutalist building on the north side of the University of California, Berkeley, campus. In the room, there are two people: a man and me. For the past hour or so, he has been asking me questions about myself, my relationships with my family members, and who I imagine I might grow up to be…. Here, I am seen. In this sparsely decorated small room, I feel special. In Tolman Hall, to which I am periodically brought for reasons that have not been revealed to me yet, I am the center of attention. When I speak, these adults listen attentively, nod encouragingly, and take notes. It feels like love.”

* * *

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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. Kisha

    “Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza”

    Snoop Dog endorses Trump

    African Americans, with the exception of the Mercedes driving, government contract non-profit sector females, are going to support Trump.

    The Question for everybody:

    “Are you better off now than you were during the Trump presidency?”

    1. ambrit

      I’m waiting for “Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease Fire in Texas.”
      Much as I hate to say it; a better question will be: “Who do you think will be less dangerous to you in 2025?”

      1. ashley

        what do you do when the answer is neither?! under biden we might be getting nuked, under trump my queer kind might be getting rounded up and exterminated.

        our choices seem to be world war or civil war.

  2. hemeantwell

    Re Monbiot’s sifting through the conceptual debris of psychology, “extrinsics” sound a lot like the “narcissists” that were deplored not so long ago. Anyway, it’s great that that it has spectrum disorder potential. Watch the publications fly as researchers hash out how to weight components. If Trump helps the MSM stay afloat financially, he can also help a few assistant professors get tenure.

  3. Rob Urie

    Re: “To beat Trump, we need to know why Americans keep voting for him. Psychologists may have the answer”

    It’s sad to see Monbiot so far off in the wilderness.

    So, the world has two kinds of people. Okay. Eight billion humans come in two types.

    And their psychologies determine who they vote for. How about those who voted twice for Obama and then voted for Trump? Is that intrinsic or extrinsic?

    According to Freud, the Irish were the only people impervious to psychoanalysis.

    But who would answer questions openly (psychoanalysis) when for four hundred years everyone who did so was killed or brutalized by the Brits?

    Monbiot’s theory is flawed.

    1. pjay

      – “How about those who voted twice for Obama and then voted for Trump? Is that intrinsic or extrinsic?”

      Clearly such people have suffered significant psychological trauma which somehow reshaped their core personality. Perhaps Science, for which Monbiot is a great Champion, will come up with an effective treatment for such a malady.

      More “Republican Brain” bulls**t from a clueless liberal (at least I *think* he’s clueless; otherwise he’s a devious and cynical propagandist).

      1. c_heale

        Given he is a journalist (cynical) and works for the neoliberal Guardian newspaper (propagandist), I think it is self evident.

    2. clarky90

      Re; “Psychologists may have the answer…..” NO!

      A true tragic, tragic story from my life.

      My darling little brother, Davy, killed himself in 1994.

      He was “diagnosed” and “treated ” as Schizophrenic by expert psychologists.

      He was, in fact suffering from chronic and severe, coeliac disease. (gluten intolerance times 100). Coeliac disease starved him of nutrients. Towards the end of his beautiful life, he was hyper impacted by even tiny amounts of gluten, which is in almost everything. (even soy sauce). I figured out most of this at the time. I urged him to avoid all wheat products……

      …..However, at the time, I didn’t realize that beer (and flavor enhancers) had gluten in them. (It was the 1980s). Beer destroyed him in the end….

      Psychology is a digital approach to human health. However, IMO, most of what ails us is simply (and inexpensively) mechanical (deficiencies of/or sensitivities to). ie Too much gluten, too much sugar, too much seed oils, too little sunshine, too little exercise, too few acquaintances, too little affordable housing ………. Common sense.

      We risk life by trivializing every “problem”, as a “lack of psychology”.

      A pox on psychologists, and the Digital Culture that promotes them as “the answer.”

      Poor and working class people are not attracted to Trump because of physchology. It is because of a huge deficiency of physical needs….

        1. clarky90

          Dear Cassandra

          Thank you so very much for your kind condolences. It is meaningful.

          I miss my little brother. He would be 71 yo if he was still alive.

        1. clarky90

          Dear katiebird

          Thank you….. Received! My eyes well up….

          All of us have lost loved ones to this “virtual wellness” madness.

          Hugs and love back to you, and to yours!

  4. Jason Boxman

    I’m seeing more illness in the past 2 months at an employer I know than I’ve seen this whole Pandemic. People are just out not feeling well, or having a mysterious virus going around. No mention, of course, of COVID. Four in the past six days.

    The population level of damage from this is likely to be staggering.

    Thankfully Joe Biden slayed public health!

    1. Utah

      I have a coworker who has had COVID three times. She is now getting every single cold and flu and strep throat that comes into our school. I told her this is why I mask and keep my air purifier on. She told me she didn’t believe in that kind of stuff.

      So… Not just COVID, but I think that there’s a lot to be said about COVID making the immune system dysregulate. I heard it a lot in parent teacher conferences last week. Everybody is sick all of the time. Strep, and then the flu, and then pink eye, and then rsv. Multiple families. Still, I was the only one masked up and telling parents thanks for keeping your kids home with a fever.

    2. midtownwageslave

      I’ve witnessed first hand over the past few years how members of my department(~10) have deteriorated, more and more as time goes on. It’s truly stunning to see this in such a short period of time.

      These are PMC types that have disregard any type of COVID mitigation strategy, who are now perpetually sick.

      Repeat COVID infections, RSV, Strep, pneumonia, persistent coughs, and many “colds”.

      As for me, my layers includes n95s, mouthwash, and nasal sprays. The devil’s lettuce is more like wishful thinking but hey so far, so good.

        1. kareninca

          A daily claritin if you want to up your game (assuming no medical reason for you not to consider it). And an AirTamer.

          I’m not vaxxed, and I do what you do and then some, and so far I haven’t caught it.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You may find yourself made head of your department simply by being healthy enough to still do your job. But it is a tragic situation when you get down to it. A year or two ago somebody mentioned in comments about two executives actually making this their strategy – outlasting their competition from other executives by masking, etc.

          1. The Rev Kev

            If you had a law degree, you may have been one of the smarties that ignored this pandemic and are now coming down with ‘repeat COVID infections, RSV, Strep, pneumonia, persistent coughs, and many “colds”.‘ There but for the grace of god…

  5. Feral Finster

    “‘To beat Trump, we need to know why Americans keep voting for him. Psychologists may have the answer:’ [George Monbiot].”

    More condescension, more armchair diagnosis. O goodie!

    1. ChrisFromGA

      They never look inward and ask simple questions, like, what are neoliberals doing to drive “deplorables” to despair, do they?

      1. fjallstrom

        Years ago I saw a clip on youtube that is gone now. I think the title was “From Democracy to Dictatorship” and the presenter spoke in very clear Queen’s English. Probably BBC, but could be from anywhere in the Anglosphere. Probably late 40ies or early 50ies.

        Anyway it presented how societies move towards dictatorship when power gets concentrated, looking at different aspects of power.

        Speaker: “When economic power is distributed widely among the population society gets more democratic. But when economic power is concentrated…”

        Stereotypical US boss, with a Texas snarl screaming at covering employees: “I am the boss, what I say goes and if you don’t like it you are fired!”

        Speaker:”… society moves towards dictatorship.”

        So anyway, the knowledge is there. It was collected and disseminated after world war two. Full employment, unionisation, distributed economic power. Rising living standards are also great, but people can do a lot with a little if the burdens are shared. If not, well “… society moves towards dictatorship.”

        But such a course is politically impossible, and therefore advocating it is deeply unserious. And being taken seriously is important for being in the serious papers. So instead it’s pop psychology.

    2. eg

      It’s literally anything to avoid acknowledging the obvious — that the PMC, the Dems and their donor class have arranged things such that the vast majority of working people’s lives are miserable.

  6. Jason Boxman

    From Trump Will Win

    So, who really believes Joe Biden and his running dogs in the liberal media when they say things are actually OK? What tiny percentage of Americans are they talking to?

    So as near as I can tell, there is no single metric by which to grade Biden’s administration whereby he’s delivered any worthwhile material benefits. It seems a complete failure on almost every aspect, save anti-trust. From inflation, to multiple new wars, to the canceling of large, popular aid programs, to failure to control our borders, what exactly has Biden even done that’s worthwhile? Saber rattle against China? The (not) inflation reduction act? I struggle to come up with any real successes.

    And Biden and the Democrats have terminated public health, killed almost a million people, and ensured that vaccines are thoroughly discredited along with non-pharmaceutical interventions generally. The United States seems worse off on just about every single metric except stock market performance.

    Indeed, Biden might be just about the worst president in American history; he assumed office in the midst of a shi**y deal, and failed to rise to the moment, rejected any such moment were even taking place. Liberal Democrats as well.

    Also, I liked We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and found it a worthwhile read.

    1. The Rev Kev

      But at least the MIC is making out like bandits. They have their order books for weapons filled up for actual decades to come, even if half their stuff is not fit for the modern battlefield.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Not a fan of Uncle Joe, but he supported (however tepidly) the UAW strikers and has made good appointments to the NLRB. Small change compared to Ukraine, Gaza, the Border, etc, but real nonetheless.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Threw the railroad workers under the train. Inconsistent.

        With COVID threw everyone under the bus.

      2. My Note

        We are all (East) Palestinians with Joe Biden’s tireless representation of his constituents in the senate starting in 1972.

        “Delaware is now home to 1.9 million corporations, including more than 300,000 registered in 2022 alone. Each year, it rakes in some $2 billion in corporate taxes and fees, far more than any other state. The constituents of Delaware lawmakers, “in a very real sense, are companies,” as the University of Cambridge’s Jason Sharman, an expert on money laundering and corporate regulation, has noted.”

        From the Mother Jones article on Oligarchs.

    3. Ellery O'Farrell

      Not a fan of Uncle Joe at all, at all. But the FTC’s Lisa Khan has been doing good work on the monopoly front, which presumably will be completely undone if Trump becomes president (in less than a year). This time, I gather the Heritage Foundation has been preparing lists of replacements for all discretionary officials…

      Not just the FTC. This could reverse whatever positive restrictions the various agencies have been imposing on neo-liberalism, PPCs, partnerships to administer natural resources–a long list. Not that they’ve actually done much to help people with their ordinary lives, but anything is better than nothing.

      On the other hand, maybe Trump wouldn’t go to war with the rest of the world.

      What a choice….

      1. Pat

        Not really. At least not for the people who really hired Joe. Could be why he has not been rescued in some manner. While stocks are okay, much of the rest of the economy is struggling. Not even ignoring a pandemic has gotten workers back into offices. CRE is in free fall, all of real estate is hurting. Many big name companies are not meeting expectations and are shedding workers and investors. Consumer sales only look good on paper. The military misadventures have been revelation after revelation of America’s weakness…and how bad their weapons are in the 22nd century. America is shedding Allie’s and lackey countries, and the ones that are staying cannot feel real secure. Give a subject, pretty much anyone here can point out how it has failed. And the public, well Joe screwed up his biggest job. Good old Joe who everybody knows. He comes in and everything goes back to normal. He was supposed to make them feel normal. He was to get them back to being tranquilized and unaware. But no one feels it is normal. No one. Instead people are uneasy and untrusting. And yes, I do believe that we were supposed to think the two parties were just doing their usual.

        There is a reason why the screws are being tightened on information…and it isn’t because nothing has changed. It is because it has changed so much that their position is no longer protected.

  7. diptherio

    With both of our legacy political parties at a particularly low ebb, it seemed like an appropriate time to put this idea forward once again: how about a third party based on grassroots democracy? Democracy in a political party? Sounds crazy, I know, but I think such a thing might actually be possible.

    How to Fix US Politics (YouTube)

    1. The Rev Kev

      No good. Neither of the two main parties would allow it and in fact they work together to change laws and the like on a local level to make sure that a third party never gets off the ground.

      1. ambrit

        Too true. That’s why any viable “Third Party” in America will have to have a radical armed wing associated with it.

        1. JBird4049

          Like Sinn Fein and the IRA? I hope people realize that everyone just in the same city at the same time with similar organizations in the United States will be RICO’d, and convicted, somehow, despite a lack of evidence unless it is manufactured or done with testilying (perjury)? With no particular attention paid to actual guilt or innocence?

          1. ambrit

            Yes. Also the Black Civil Rights movement and the Black Panthers. Or, the early Union movement and the radical bombers.
            One of the greatest “tricks” pulled off by the Ruling Elites is to convince the public that “lawfare” and ‘electoral politics’ are the only “respectable” methods of bringing about change within a society. “Respectable” is doing a lot of ‘heavy pushing down’ (the opposite of ‘lifting’) there.

    2. fjallstrom

      I think to get such a party of the ground you need to first get incumbents. A possible way would be to locally run candidates in both primaries and caucus with each other if elected.

      Officially be a membership organisation for better policies or something. Form the party when your electeds are kicked out or take over one or more of the legacy parties. If successful on state level you gain control of the ballot line.

  8. nippersdad

    “Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza” [New York Times]. • Interesting, but I search in vain for a mention of South Carolina.

    I suspect that they are not listening to Mark Lamont Hill. This came out almost immediately after Biden visited that church in South Carolina, and it is pretty much what one would expect. References to “bourgeois negroes who who will allow the church to be used as as shields for empire” is not what they are used to reporting on.


  9. Mikel

    “Strong growth in the U.S. labor force was one factor — both due to more Americans choosing to enter the workforce and a surge in immigration. • Hmm. Immigration?

    I keep reading about layoffs. So? Hmmm?

    1. ambrit

      Probably layoffs in “official” workers versus a surge in ‘gig workers,’ and other off the books arrangements.
      This is becoming more and more a “Robber Baron” economy.

  10. ChrisFromGA

    Powell dropped a bomb on CRE

    (whistling sound)

    Zoom came along
    It changed your world
    With bandwidth aplenty

    Coof lit the fuse
    Tenants refuse
    To show up at your digs

    (but you need that rent)


    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE, baby
    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE

    (but you need that rent!)

    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE, baby
    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE

    Your CEO’s
    Like butts in seats
    (Pretend to be busy)

    They’ll turf ’em out
    If they don’t show

    They’ll turn em loose
    If they don’t move like pawns

    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE, baby
    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE

    (but you need that rent)

    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE, baby
    Jay dropped a bomb on CRE

    Now crickets chirp
    Inside the walls
    The parking lot sports weeds

    There’s no one left
    To water plants
    And someone moved your cheese

    (But you need that rent!)


    Interest rates in motion
    Inflationary notions
    No more ZIRP for thee

    CMBS explosion
    Coffee pot corrosion
    It’s now a massa-cree!

    (whistling sound)

    (Repeat Chorus, the sound of large ordinance hitting office buildings.)


  11. Kit

    Another factor, in service industries, retail and restaurants, in much of the U.S., you cannot get hired unless you speak Spanish.

    Those who do not are the first to be let go. My daughter is anxious to get a job after graduating. Looks like she’ll have to spend a year in Mexico learning a second language so that she can apply for a job in the country her ancestors built.

      1. Laura in So Cal

        I’ve seen this in job postings here in Southern California, “Spanish speakers preferred”, “must be bi-lingual, English/Spanish”. Either the work force you are joining is mostly Spanish speaking and you need to be able to communicate or your customers are mostly Spanish speakers.

        A close friend just quit her job as a program director for a local homelessness charity. She hired her own replacement and one of their criteria was speaking both English and Spanish. It wasn’t required but was high on the list of desired skills.

      2. Joe Renter

        I live in central coast CA and on CL many jobs posted are looking for bilingual speakers. I grew up in this state and the changes are quite amazing. I guess when you double the population and have late state capitalism things can’t help but change radically.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder if there is a language line in the US. A kinda unofficial border where on one side it is virtually required in the workforce to speak Spanish while on the other you can still get by on just English. For sure it would be there though it may not be fixed line.

      1. ambrit

        The infiltration of ‘braceros’ is pretty much universal in America now. I read last year about some Mexican “guest workers” that were injured in a traffic accident in I believe New Hampshire.
        Think the Nativists versus the Immigrants in “Gangs of New York.” We’re headed there fast.

        1. JBird4049

          >>>Think the Nativists versus the Immigrants in “Gangs of New York.” We’re headed there fast.

          I had high school classmates working in construction or occupations like garbage collection. This was four decades ago and considering I had family working in similar jobs, but add part time agricultural work, I find the whole white people don’t want to work, all the while driving down wages and busting unions everywhere, annoying. However, what worries me, actually freaking terrifies, is the violence that will happen when the next downturn hits and now we have Americans and longterm residents with green cards competing against the recent six million plus immigrants.

          Yes, I know that people will bring up the lazy American, or the Deplorable or Disposable, and hard working immigrants, but just how many people will peacefully accept these excuses? Then add the ongoing illegal use of the B-1 and B-2 visas by corporations. I guess that the elites are counting on the police state and the military, but can they? Just how likely is a demagogue to come to power using the issues of wage and employment suppression?

          1. ashley

            Just how likely is a demagogue to come to power using the issues of wage and employment suppression?

            that is what trump is doing, the whole “immigrants are taking your jobs” thing thats been going around for decades now. hes just uglier about it and more focused on the crime aspect than the wage one.

  12. Socal Rhino

    On Covid misinformation: I think a good start would be to ensure that the US Government does not spread it. Start with the CDC, or close them, and start from scratch.

    Had a discussion this weekend with elderly friends who are lifelong Democrats. They are appalled at the idea that Democrats commonly view Trump supporters as idiots or uneducated rednecks (I pointed out that to be fair many Republicans assume all Democrats are “commies”). One wished that people would talk to people who don’t agree with their politics and hear them out. He added that he makes a point of consuming media from right oriented orgs.

  13. Bazarov

    I don’t have tiktok, but occasionally a friend of mine will text individual tiktok videos to me that he finds noteworthy. Usually they’re clips of Biden’s hilarious dementia babble. This time, however, he sent along a clip from a Texan comedian who did some frankly remarkable citizen-reporting on the Eagle Pass kerfuffle, reporting that I can’t believe hasn’t been done by the “professionals”–no wait, I can believe it because the “professionals” aren’t journalists, they’re “media employees” a.k.a “propagandists”.

    Here’s a link to the tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@pettyaf_comedy/video/7328799031537241390

  14. weighfairer

    Throwing this over the transom:

    I’m a 38 year old lifelong leftist who has never really wanted to vote Dem (went to Nader rallies etc in my youth) but always has chosen the lesser of two evils and voted Dem in general elections. I probably will again and vote for Biden (although my greatest hope is that stronger third party candidates blow the election up and lead to ranked choice voting).

    I was just blown away when I found out that my wife and her best friend (37 year old, white and black respectively both from Atlanta) are considering not voting at all after a lifetime of being super politically active Obama and Hillary-loving Democrats because of Biden’s response to Gaza. They never batted an eye at Dem foreign policy anywhere including supporting sanctions on Cuba, China, Venezuela, Russia etc. Both are exemplary PMC law school grads, one with an award winning podcast who hosted Michael McFaul and the other works in the state court system.

    Although I previously thought the support for anybody but Trump might save Biden, this degree of erosion of Biden’s base blew my mind and is making me reconsider the odds.

    1. pjay

      As cynical as I am, I have been surprised at the push-back on this issue in some traditionally liberal/Democrat quarters. I thought the 1000 Black pastor’s story would quickly disappear, but it hasn’t. That a significant number of well-connected and well-informed Jewish activists have often led the protests has helped. It is true that Palestinian rights has been an acceptable cause for liberals in the past – as long as advocacy didn’t get *too* radical and stayed in the “two-state solution” lane. But the level of blatant genocidal destruction seems to have burst through the usual media barriers and Israel lobby propaganda.

      Of course right-wing Republicans are all-in for Israel, so it’s an issue that can keep the tribes polarized. But as you say, it sure does not seem to be a political winner for Biden or the Dems. Just shows you how captured they are, I guess.

    2. Verifyfirst

      Like your wife, the scales have fallen from my eyes. I think because Gaza has been so vicious, so brutal, and so overt. By an ostensibly civilized government, not a terrorist group.

      I’m 63, always voted Dem in the Presidential, not voting for Biden (not voting for Trump either, just to be clear). It was already iffy for Biden because of his blatant pre-election lies on Covid, which he then jettisoned when he thought it would benefit him politically to do so, following the Dem’s consultant report. So 1 million dead Americans is his first Genocide. (as an aside, we would be much better off today re: Covid if Trump had won–Trump would have done the same as Biden, but then Blue MAGA would have lost their minds–“irresponsible, unscientific, what about the children” they would have shrieked–and they would all still be triple masking today).

      But Gaza has affected me deeply, I think because the population cannot even flee–they are literally penned in. And they have no air defenses whatsoever. And cutting off essentially all food, water, power, internet. It’s like you built a wall around Cleveland and then carpet bombed it. It’s not a war in any normal sense of two opposing armies. It’s a deliberate torture and slaughter of 2 million people. It’s simply the vilest thing I have ever seen a supposedly Western government do during my adult life. That probably speaks more to my own ignorance of what all has been done–and is being done–by other governments all over the world–maybe because those were not live-streamed on Twitter?

      I don’t know. I had never paid much attention to Israel before, I grew up surrounded by Holocaust survivors and their children here in the US. People from my mothers generation who had personally fled the Nazis in often dramatic ways were our neighbors and friends. Apparently I gave Israel a mental pass because of that, because now that I have started to pay attention, Israel has been horrible for many years. I guess the scales have fallen from my eyes.

      I’m in Michigan, so swing a ling ding on that, you Dems. Not voting for Genocide Debbie Dingell or any other state or federal level Dems either. Maybe a Judge or two….. A most excellent outcome of this election would be Biden’s loss being attributed to his support for Israel. I don’t understand why AIPAC is allowed to overtly support and oppose federal candidates–talk about foreign interference!

    3. Acacia

      Biden is toast. From East Palestine to Gaza, his position is unforgivable.

      Lesser of two evils is a vote for the status quo. It’s a vote in support of the existing duopoly. Of course, as long as people vote for the status quo, nothing will change.

      If you really want stronger third party candidates — and millions of people do — then you can start voting for them now.

      1. chris

        People keep saying that. I’m really not sure. I think if it becomes obvious he’s going to lose we just won’t be allowed to vote. Or our votes will not be counted.

    4. Bill Urman

      Lesser of 2 evils? I’m not sure if there’s a mathematical formula capable of splitting the necessary number of individual hairs to accurately determine who is REALLY the most evil. I will not play that absurd game. I’ve never voted for a Republican and stopped voting for Democrats after the hopey, fakery of Obama’s 1st term. The political process is corrupt to the bone. There will be no change of substance coming from this system. I believe it’s attributed to Twain, “if voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” This is our pathetic reality.

  15. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added orts and scraps but forgot to say so! Generally I try to add entire blocks, but this time the additions are scattered throughout. There’s a lot going on!

  16. flora

    To be fair (/s) why should immigrants coming in over the southern border have to show any passport or documentation when it seems like they’re “world citizens” of the UN? / oy

    UN Budgets Millions for U.S.-Bound Migrants in 2024
    Public docs show cash handouts to help feed, transport, and house people headed for the U.S. border


    UN helping the cartels? What a deal.

  17. Feral Finster

    “The Biden administration has decided to bypass Congress and send aid to Ukraine via Greece, Forbes reports.

    The US Congress has been unable to take a decision on military aid to the Kiev regime for four months now, so Joe Biden has decided to replicate the German “Ringtausch” plan, transferring old surplus weapons to Greece on the condition that Greece will transfer some of its own surplus to Ukraine.

    In exchange for Greece’s agreement to participate in the plan, the US promised to consider giving the country $200 million to fund Athens’ armed forces.

    According to the Kathimerini newspaper and other media, the US has offered the Greek government three 87-foot Protector-class patrol boats, two Lockheed Martin C-130H aircraft, 10 Allison T56 turboprop engines for Lockheed P-3 patrol aircraft, 60 M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles and a shipment of transport trucks.

    The Democrats will declare all this equipment as defence surplus, assign it a value, presumably zero dollars, and hand it over to the Greek side for onward shipment to Ukraine.”

    Sorry, can’t get the link to copy. Anyway, the point is that the Empire is nowhere near ready to give up, and will do whatever it takes to keep the war going. No, they don’t care about law or Congress.

    Stop kidding yourselves, stop trying to declare premature victory.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Sending old weapons scrounged up from the empire’s satellites was probably always plan “B.” I even heard that Ecuador was going to send some relics.

      However, without fresh fiat from the Dread Pirate Powell’s ship o-plenty, there is no more direct budgetary support for Kiev and that spells trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with “D” and that stands for “Debt bomb.”

      Ukraine is unable to pay for any mobilization, as army grunts tend not to fight for free. Not to mention Ukraine’s deficit makes the US deficit look like chump change.

      Without actual dollars, they’ll have to print, borrow (assuming they can) and risk hyperinflation.

      1. Feral Finster

        You miss the point. The point is that the Administration is going to use any means, legal or otherwise, to keep the war going.

        And the EU will strongarm Hungary into acquiescing to finance Ukraine.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          I get they won’t stop trying, to the point of sending confederate era rifles.

          It’s the effectiveness of such moves that I doubt.

          1. Mikel

            Even if Ukraine surrenders, it won’t stop. The next proxy will be set into motion.
            It only stops when Europe no longer thinks of Russia as a threat.
            (I’m not saying I believe it’s the threat they claim. Just pointing out a state of affairs)

    2. The Rev Kev

      I read that Biden wants Greece to ship their Russian-built S-300s to the Ukraine. Will it help? No. But it helps foul up relations between Russia and Greece and when Greece goes looking for a replacement for those S-300s, they will have to go to the US for them. So, win win. Also read that Vikki Nuland is demanding that Erdogan get rid of his Russian-built S-400s so that he can get those F-35s and become once more part of the ‘F-35 family.’ But if Erdogan does that, he will have no real air defenses for his country as the US does not have the patriot batteries and their missiles to send to him. Erdogan probably needs good air defenses but not against Greece as you would expect but against Israel.

  18. Jason Boxman

    He got rolled by a Republican Congress, was too incompetent to get a wall,

    Never forget it was Pelosi virtue signaling shutting down the government over wall funding that… Biden kept building.

    Meanwhile Trump cut taxes. Got the Court packed. Killed TPP. Seemed pretty effective to me.

    1. Pat

      By my count that is 5+ achievements, not all of which I welcome. Pretty sure that Joe can’t match that.

  19. CA

    Good grief..Forgive me if this is posted in the wrong place, but I do not know what place would be right:


    January 31, 2024

    China Is Targeting U.S. Infrastructure and Could ‘Wreak Chaos,’ F.B.I. Says
    In testimony before Congress, Christopher A. Wray, the agency’s director, said Beijing was preparing to sow chaos if disputes with the United States flared into conflict.
    By Glenn Thrush and Adam Goldman

    Christopher A. Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, warned on Wednesday that China was ramping up an extensive hacking operation geared at taking down the United States’ power grid, oil pipelines and water systems in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.

    Mr. Wray, appearing before a House subcommittee on China, offered an alarming assessment of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts. Its intent is to sow confusion, sap the United States’ will to fight and hamper the American military from deploying resources if the dispute over Taiwan, a major flashpoint between the two superpowers, escalates into a war, he added.

    Before his testimony, F.B.I. and Justice Department officials revealed that last month, they had obtained a court order that authorized them to gain access to servers infiltrated by Volt Typhoon, a Beijing-directed hacking network that has targeted a range of critical infrastructure systems, often by infiltrating small businesses, contractors or local government networks.

    “China’s hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities, if or when China decides the time has come to strike,” said Mr. Wray, who pressed the committee to increase funding for the bureau.

    “Low blows against civilians are part of China’s plan,” he added.

    Hackers for Volt Typhoon compromised hundreds of Cisco and NetGear routers, many of them outdated models no longer supported by manufacturer updates or security patches, in an effort to embed an army of sleeper cells that would be activated in a crisis.

    In May, U.S. officials warned business, local governments and foreign allies that the group was taking aim at “networks across U.S. critical infrastructure sectors” and was likely to apply the same techniques against other countries…

    1. Lee

      Alternatively, Beijing could offer to provide the expertise, and the laborers as well to make our infrastructure less fragile, more reliable, and less expensive. I’m pretty sure they could do it and at a price we could afford. We are after all their customers for so much else, why not this too? Given the way things are going, the next New Deal will have to be an import; we don’t make such things here anymore.

  20. CA

    “Low blows against civilians are part of China’s plan…”

    I think the article is especially important, important because of the complete irrationality. However, this is what the Director of the FBI is asserting and possibly that means I am incapable of judging rationality or what may be important. Excuse me, then, if I my judgement seems to be gone:


    January 31, 2024

    China Is Targeting U.S. Infrastructure and Could ‘Wreak Chaos,’ F.B.I. Says

  21. red plaid

    Regarding Intel, I think the excerpt captures the key issue. The Intel manufacturing team dictated all the terms and when the Intel design teams complained the manufacturing team would just say they were the leading-edge and eventually the competition would have to copy Intel. The manufacturing team did not have to compete for customers and isolated itself from all the innovation that the other foundries (TSMC, Samsung) and its customers created. Intel’s first attempt at a foundry in 2013 failed because other companies said it was too difficult to design with Intel’s transistors, but the manufacturing team ignored this feedback. Only after Intel manufacturing started failing to deliver did Intel realize it went too far favoring manufacturing over design.

    While I believe Intel has the right leadership and is moving in the right direction, I think one problem is Intel doesn’t pay well compared to its competition. If you go to websites that compare salaries (https://www.levels.fyi/), you can see Intel’s pay is far worse than its competitors. This is by design and Intel could get away with it when it was exciting and had the best transistors, but now it doesn’t attract the top-tier talent anymore.

  22. Fastball

    At this point, the liberals advancing their TDS “psychology” are in serious need of British style satire. Oh, why couldn’t the Trumpies have all just learned to code like we told them to! After all, college is free.

  23. GC54

    Agave clone babies have got to be the simplest thing to plant … gently twist off a baby, shove your thumb into the dirt, drop baby into the hole so that everything up to about an inch below the branches is covered, tap the dirt down, water daily for a week. That’s it. Spread the babies around when planting. Given sufficient desert water, the plant matures to flower in 6-8 years by shooting up an incredible 12 ft high stalk over a couple of weeks that is topped by cloned kids, then 6 months later topples over to croak. Amazing, enjoy. If you are really handy, make mezcal.

    1. albrt

      Not all agaves produce clone babies, most produce seeds. The ones that produce clone babies on the flower stalks are mostly survivals from pre-columbian agriculture, including Agave tequiliana.

    1. Lee

      Making this a matter for state electorates to decide is in the short run is a harder row to hoe than leaving the matter to a few judges, more than a few of them being indeed medieval in their reasoning. Taking this issue out of the hands of so few will in the long run be better decided by the many. And yes, “Hooray for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court!!!” They went for the majority opinion of the state’s citizens.

      Views about abortion among adults in Pennsylvania

  24. JBird4049

    >>>Good think those nukes in North Dakota are obsolete….

    Yeah, but what about the uranium in the warheads? It would be a really fabulous truck bomb.

  25. DavidZ

    The whole immigration debate is nonsense.

    people are immigrating from places where the USA USA USA has put sanctions (Venezuela, Cuba) or where we have supported governments which only care about the elites (businesses & capitalists in Honduras, Columbia, Guatemala etc).

    So the poor who can’t get healthcare, education, jobs etc, which the US government provides for free to it’s own citizens (but doesn’t allow it’s client states to provide to it’s own citizens), after years and years of suffering are migrating north. In the case of Venezuela the economic sanctions started in 2002, and 22 years later we are now seeing Venezuelans at the border.

    Solutions to prevent migration:
    – Shoot to kill
    – mass incarceration (cost $50,000 – $75,000 per year * 1 million people a year) – are Republicans willing to pay this?
    – mass incarceration with starvation

    Real Solutions:
    – yeah, no one wants to really do this, because the elites benefit from these client states + Monroe doctrine.

    1. Bruce F

      I feel the same way about the seemingly knee jerk responses/comments to the plight of the immigrants. To me the angriest comments always blame some poor SOB (and his/her family) who are desperate. (kick down/suck up; it’s in the water)
      To them I say: Why don’t you direct your anger at the US political establishment/donors who for decades have destroyed countless other countries leaving so many there with no real options other than to flee. Then throw some blame at the politicians who play games with the immigrants once they’re in the US.

  26. nippersdad

    Potential billionaire food fight at Harvard:

    Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who has donated more than $500 million to Harvard University over the years, has halted contributions to his alma mater…Griffin suggested that students at elite schools are “just caught up in the rhetoric of oppressor and oppressee and… just like whiny snowflakes.”


    He says that he still will not hire those kids that signed the petition against Israel, but, interestingly, says that one cannot paint them all with the same brush.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’t know what he is complaining about. For decades now billionaires have been using their money to get control of the universities so that they could heavily form the students there to their own liking and giving their own kids there free passes on any real work and study. And now that they succeeded, they are saying that they don’t want to hire those kids now as they are only ‘whiny snowflakes.’ Not only that, but American universities are rapidly dropping down in world rankings while nations that take education seriously go up the rankings to replace them.

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