2:00PM Water Cooler 1/4/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Great Cuckoo-Dove, Varirata National Park Central, Papua New Guinea. A bird calling. Elevation: 486 m.”

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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

“Evidence that the President is an “Officer of the United States” for Purposes of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment” [James Heilpern and Michael T. Worley, SSRN]. From the Abstract: “Part I reviews Blackman and Tillman’s article [at NC here] and the use of its arguments in the Colorado litigation. In Part II, we respond to these arguments as a textual matter, ultimately concluding that ‘officer of the United States’ was not a term of art at the time of the Founding. In Part III and IV, we then turn to the meaning of the phrase at the time of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Part III, we discuss and confirm that historical records including the text, legislative history and ratification debates of the Fourteenth Amendment, the legislative history of the Fifteenth Amendment, and popular sources such as contemporary newspapers demonstrate that elected officials can be ‘officers of the United States.’ Part IV then discusses specific evidence that the President is not just an officer, but is an ‘officer of the United States’ as contemporaries of the 14th Amendment would have understood that term, relying on numerous texts, including legislative history, newspapers, and proclamations from President Andrew Johnson himself Part V reexamines case law that Blackman and Tillman rely on.” • If this is in fact dispositive, that knocks out one big argument on the anti-Section Three side.

“The Supreme Court is expected to determine whether Trump can keep running for president. Here’s why” [Associated Press]. • This is a reasonably fair-minded summary of the issues at play. Worth a read!

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“Could a Trump Win Put His Running Mate in Office?” [The New Yorker]. Wild stuff! “What if Trump wins the election and Congress declines to remove his disqualification [under Section Three for insurrection]? The possibility that Trump cannot hold office until Congress votes to let him is the centerpiece of the amicus brief, also filed on Wednesday, on behalf of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and its chair, Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana. Authored by Noel Francisco, Trump’s former Solicitor General, and other respected conservative lawyers of the Supreme Court bar, the brief states that, ‘even if the Colorado Supreme Court were correct that President Trump cannot take office on Inauguration Day,” he is still permitted to run ‘and also seek removal of any alleged disqualification [the ‘disability’ of Section Three] from Congress if necessary [which takes a two-thirds vote from each House].’ What happens in the meantime, according to the N.R.S.C., is specified in the Twentieth Amendment, which Trump’s petition acknowledges only in passing: ‘if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified.’… That implies that voters who believe that Trump is disqualified as an insurrectionist have the ability to elect him expecting that his running mate will be President, possibly throughout the four-year term. … That Trump’s former Solicitor General, Senate Republicans, and prominent, highly credentialed, conservative lawyers are foregrounding a scenario wherein Trump’s running mate acts as the President on Day One invites, wittingly or not, a Republican insurgency that could assert Trump’s disqualification only after his running mate rides Trump’s popularity to electoral victory and effectively becomes President-in-waiting.” • So Trump responds by picking who as insurance? Surely not Haley or DeSantis. How about RFK Jr.? Kidding! I think….

“It’s not just Trump: Democrats are moving to bar Republicans from ballots nationwide” [Jonathan Turley, New York Post]. “As the decisions disqualifying former President Donald Trump from the 2024 election work their way through the courts, a new filing in Pennsylvania seeks the same ‘ballot cleansing’ by barring Republican Rep. Scott Perry…. Former congressional candidate Gene Stilp, who’s made headlines by burning MAGA flags with swastikas outside courthouses, filed the challenge…. But what’s chilling is how many support such efforts, including Democratic officeholders from Maine’s secretary of state to dozens of members of Congress. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) sought to bar 126 members of Congress under the same theory for challenging the election before Jan. 6, 2021. Similar legislation from Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) to disqualify members got 63 co-sponsors, all Democrats, including New York Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Ritchie Torres and ‘Squad’ members Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan…. The grounds were virtually identical to those of Stilp. He accuses Perry of supporting challenges to Biden’s election and opposing its certification. Of course, he ignores Democratic members who sought to block certification of Republican presidents under the very same law with no factual or legal basis.” • For example:

Capitol Seizure

“One attack, two interpretations: Biden and Trump both make the Jan. 6 riot a political rallying cry” [Associated Press]. “Biden’s campaign also announced an advertising push starting Saturday with a spot centering on the Capitol attack. In the ad, Biden says, ‘There’s something dangerous happening in America.’ ‘There’s an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy,’ Biden says as images from the insurrection appear. ‘All of us are being asked right now, what will we do to maintain our democracy.’ His campaign is spending $500,000 to run the 60-second ad on national television news and on local evening news in TV markets in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as shorter versions on digital platforms.” • $500,000 is not very much. And I’ve gotta say, I’ve got a hard time reconciling the party of the Censorship Industrial Complex with democracy, let alone “ours.” Here’s the ad:

Here’s the final frame. I don’t think “DEMOCRACY” is in Gotham, but that fussy look is sure Obama 2008:

Dudes, that campaign was 2024 – 2008 = 16 years ago. That’s a long time.


Less than a year to go!

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“Trump lawyers seek to hold Jack Smith in contempt of court in 2020 election case” [Axios]. “Former President Trump’s legal team on Thursday filed a motion arguing that special counsel Jack Smith should be held in contempt of court for allegedly violating a stay order in the federal 2020 election case. Trump’s team is arguing that Smith and his team continued to submit court filings after Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered a pause to proceedings in the case.” • We haven’t heard from any legal beagles yet, so I’m on my own here. Here is the docket; here is Trump’s motion for a stay; here is Chutkan granting it. Trump: “President Donald J. Trump respectfully submits this motion for an order enforcing the automatic stay of all district court proceedings….” Chutkan: “the court hereby STAYS the deadlines and proceedings scheduled by its Pretrial Order, as amended.” What is a “proceeding”? Legal Information Institute: “A judicial proceeding is any proceeding over which a judge presides. The precise definition of judicial proceeding varies depending on the jurisdiction, and may include quasi-judicial proceedings.” What Trump is ticked off about is that Prosecutor Jack Smith is continuing to make filings. Is filing a document with the clerk of the court a “judicial proceeding”? IANAL, but I’m dubious. Perhaps a reader who actually knows what they’re talking about can weigh in!

“Trump shores up new wave of congressional support ahead of Iowa caucuses” [Washington Examiner]. “The former president boasts more than 100 endorsements and counting in the House and Senate because he “never stops working the phones,” according to senior Trump adviser Jason Miller…. The polls, in which Trump has expanded his lead and maintained the support of the majority of Republicans, are driving members to make their move, [GOP strategist John Feehery] said.”

“Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor Will Be Investigated in the Trump Case. But by Whom?” [New York Times]. “Since the indictment of former President Donald J. Trump and 18 of his allies last summer on election interference charges in Georgia, a delicate question has gone unanswered: Would criminal charges also be coming for Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, a longtime Trump supporter and one of the most ambitious politicians in the Southern swing state? Mr. Jones was one of the 16 Republicans who acted as fake electors for Mr. Trump in Georgia in an effort to overturn his 2020 defeat. Three of them are charged with felonies, including violating the state racketeering law. But in 2022, a judge blocked the Fulton County district attorney who led the investigation, Fani T. Willis, from developing a case against Mr. Jones, citing a conflict of interest because she had headlined a fund-raiser for his Democratic rival in the lieutenant governor’s race. It is now up to a state agency called the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia to find a special prosecutor to investigate Mr. Jones, who has denied any wrongdoing. The head of the agency, Peter J. Skandalakis, has for months said little about the selection process.” • Holy moley, Georgia politics. What a tangle!

“Trump Touts Yet ANOTHER Dead-End 2020 Election Fraud Report” [The Daily Beast]. “Trump wrote proudly that the report is “fully verified, most of the information was gotten from Government Sources, Tapes, and other Public Records, and compiled by the most highly qualified Election Experts in the Country.'” • Here’s a copy of the report, which at least is written in a sober style (I say “copy” because this one is undated and unsigned. No authors (!). I have to say, though, that the after reading about the bucket of snakes that is Georgia politics, I wish I had time to go through that section, if only to debunk it. So far as I can tell, this isn’t covered anywhere but the Daily Beast.

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“Joe unplugged: Biden fundraisers clash with US script, please donors” [Reuters]. “As president, Joe Biden has relied heavily on Teleprompters and pre-written scripts for his public speeches, a mostly disciplined approach that’s been in sharp contrast to his decades of free-wheeling, sometimes less-than-diplomatic remarks…. Biden’s open-mic disclosures are clashing with the White House system built to keep him on script. The comments sometimes baffle, rankle, or worry his aides, who are forced to explain or contradict them later. They often struggle to shift attention back to the administration’s message of the day, or explain why Biden’s comments are seemingly at odds with official U.S. policy. As Biden himself has acknowledged, his candor can sometimes cause problems. ‘No one ever doubts I mean what I say,’ Biden told donors last year. ‘The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean.'” • But here’s an example:

Biden also told donors at the same fundraiser that he told Netanyahu his government needed “to change,” and he had said in the past that “I don’t agree with a damn thing you have to say.” As Biden warmed up to the topic, reporters were asked to leave the room by Biden’s aides, but declined to do so… The comments on Israel instantly became a top news story of the day, displacing a visit to Washington by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was pleading with Republicans in Congress to approve more funding to repel Russia’s invasion.

But wouldn’t that be exactly what Biden wanted?

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“Christie says Haley ‘knew exactly what she was doing’ in Civil War remarks” [The Hill]. “‘She’s smart and she knows better. And she didn’t say it because she’s a racist. Because she’s not … The reason she did it is just as bad, if not worse, and should make everybody concerned about her candidacy: She did it because she’s unwilling to offend anyone by telling the truth,’ Christie said in the remarks provided by a spokesperson. Christie’s remarks continued: ‘If she is unwilling to stand up and say that slavery is what caused the Civil War because she’s afraid of offending constituents in some other part of the country, if she’s afraid to say that Donald Trump is unfit because she’s afraid of offending people who support Donald Trump, and because maybe she harbors in the back of her mind being vice president or being secretary of State and since she won’t deny it, we have to believe that she’s willing to do it … What’s going to happen when she has to stand up against forces in our own party who want to drag this country deeper and deeper into anger and division and exhaustion?'” • Christie’s not wrong!

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What about the ballot line in Utah?

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“The Battle for Normie Ridge” [John Halpin, The Liberal Patriot]. “The real contested battle for the presidency lies among a mixed group of less engaged Americans who fall into two basic categories of what are often called “normie voters”: people who dislike politics, don’t care much for either Biden or Trump, hold mainstream views, and just want stable and secure lives for their families without a lot of drama. Some of these voters are still deciding and others are considering whether to vote at all. One branch of normie Americans currently leans more Democratic, and is made up mostly of college-educated, white, suburban voters who don’t like extreme politics and candidates of any kind, who support abortion rights as a legal matter, and who generally place a premium on quality-of-life issues around crime, schools, and the economy. The other broad group of normie Americans leans more Republican and is made up of working-class voters without a 4-year degree (mostly white but increasingly black and Hispanic) who don’t like social lecturing and weird views from elites, who remain pinched from the lingering effects of inflation and stagnant wages, and who also worry about crime but are most concerned about immigration and the chaos at the southern border. The problem for Biden and Trump is that neither one of these normie voter groups alone will be enough to pull out an Electoral College victory in a handful of states.” • Somehow “stagnant wages” aren’t a “quality of life” issue. That’s our Democrats!

“Want to Understand 2024? Look at 1948.” [Nate Cohn, New York Times]. “There was a period of economic unrest that bears a striking resemblance to today: the aftermath of World War II, when Americans were near great prosperity yet found themselves frustrated by the economy and their president…. But in the era of modern economic data, Harry Truman was the only president besides Joe Biden to oversee an economy with inflation over 7 percent while unemployment stayed under 4 percent and G.D.P. growth kept climbing. Voters weren’t overjoyed then, either. Instead, they saw Mr. Truman as incompetent, feared another depression and doubted their economic future, even though they were at the dawn of postwar economic prosperity. The source of postwar inflation was fundamentally similar to post-pandemic inflation. The end of wartime rationing unleashed years of pent-up consumer demand …. The Cold War, civil rights, Israel and other domestic issues combined to put extraordinary political pressure on an increasingly fractured Democratic coalition… In the end, Mr. Truman won in perhaps the most celebrated comeback in American electoral history, including the iconic ‘Dewey Beats Truman’ headline and photograph.”

Republican Funhouse

“We Sat Down With the Conservative Mastermind Behind Claudine Gay’s Ouster” [Politico]. “But this really was a team effort that involved three primary points of leverage. First was the narrative leverage, and this was done primarily by me, Christopher Brunet and Aaron Sibarium. Second was the financial leverage, which was led by Bill Ackman and other Harvard donors. And finally, there was the political leverage which was really led by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s masterful performance with Claudine Gay at her hearings. When you put those three elements together — narrative, financial and political pressure — and you squeeze hard enough, you see the results that we got today, which was the resignation of America’s most powerful academic leader…. But I knew that in order to achieve my objective, we had to get the narrative into the left-wing media. But the left-wing uniformly ignored the story for 10 days and tried to bury it, so I engaged in a kind of a thoughtful and substantive campaign of shaming and bullying my colleagues on the left to take seriously the story of the most significant academic corruption scandal in Harvard’s history…. Once my position — which began on the right — became the dominant position across the center-left, I knew that it was just a matter of time before we were going to be successful…. I’ve run the same playbook on critical race theory, on gender ideology, on DEI bureaucracy. For the time being, given the structure of our institutions, this is a universal strategy that can be applied by the right to most issues.” And: “I worked on critical race theory for a very long time before it yielded fruit, but this Claudine Gay story has shown that we can drive major, paradigm-shifting victories over a compressed timeframe. I’d like to engage in more experimentation on how we can cycle up some of these campaigns very quickly.” • Very interesting and well worth a read. Of course, this confuses liberals and the left, and liberals have indeed, as Rufo points out, grown “complacent, lazy, entitled and ripe for disruption.”

“Another House Republican plans early exit from Congress” [Axios]. “Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) is planning an earlier-than-expected departure this month to become president of Youngstown State University…. Johnson is a member of the centrist Republican Governance Group, the pragmatist Main Street Caucus and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus…. Republicans will be down to just 219 seats to Democrats’ 213 once Johnson leaves.”

Democrats en Déshabillé

“How Greg Abbott Forced Democrats to Change” [Newsweek]. “Texas Governor Greg Abbott has reshaped the U.S. political landscape on immigration by busing migrants from Texas to Democratic-led sanctuary cities. Abbott, a Republican, in 2022 began busing migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation, amid an influx of migrants arriving to the southern border. There were more than 2.4 million encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border during the 2023 fiscal year, up from roughly 1.7 million in 2021, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)….. Mona Kleinberg, assistant professor at Queens College of the City University of New York, told Newsweek that Abbott has put Democrats in a ‘lose-lose’ situation by convincing a ‘notoriously immigrant-friendly city that immigration is a burden.'” Hmm. Was is Abbott who did the convincing? More: “She warned that Abbott’s success does not bode well for Democrats in 2024, as immigration remains a hot-button issue. Biden must offer a ‘positive counter-narrative on immigration’ or risk backing Republicans’ stance, Kleinberg said.” Kamala’s in charge of that, so what’s the issue? More: “‘If they adopt an anti-immigrant stance like the Republicans, they will also alienate the voters who vote Democratic because Democrats have historically been more friendly—or shall we say—less hostile, toward immigrants than the Republicans. So it is a lose-lose situation unless Democrats can present policy solutions that include positive messaging on migration.'” • Being a “sanctuary city” is all very well, until somebody takes you up on the offer.

“Blue states open 2024 election year with migrant crisis escalating” [Politico]. “Texas has also sidestepped new rules for sending migrants to Chicago, which has seen more than 26,000 asylum seekers arrive since August 2022. At 1 a.m. on Sunday, a Boeing 777 from San Antonio dropped off 350 asylum seekers to the airport in Rockford, about 90 miles west of Chicago. Eight buses chartered by Abbott’s administration then dropped off the migrants to surrounding suburbs. The new arrivals took trains and other modes of transportation from there to make their way to the landing zone in downtown Chicago, according to the city. The move follows rules passed last month to fine bus companies that don’t follow the drop-off procedures for migrants. They include only delivering the new arrivals to the city’s landing zone on Mondays through Fridays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

“The FBI-Tainted Whitmer ‘Kidnap Plot’ You’ve Heard Next to Nothing About” [Julie Kelly, RealClearInvestigations]. “On Oct. 8, 2020, Whitmer announced the shocking arrests of several men accused of planning to kidnap and possibly assassinate her. The case produced alarming headlines just weeks before Election Day; Democrats, including Whitmer, used news of the plot to blame Trump for inciting violence. Joe Biden commended the FBI for thwarting the abduction plan and, in a written statement issued the same day, claimed that “there is a through line from President Trump’s dog whistles and tolerance of hate….” Biden continued that line of attack during campaign speeches in Michigan, a swing state that voted for Trump in 2016, and one Biden needed to capture to win the presidency…. [C]ourt documents have recast the episode as something more sinister. Instead of a heroic effort by the FBI to safeguard the country from domestic terrorists, it now appears to have been a broad conspiracy by law enforcement to entrap American citizens who held unpopular political views…. the operation sound like something out of a Hollywood script. It features secretive cash payouts; drug- and booze-fueled parties; a convicted wife-beating FBI investigator; a career felon revealed as a longtime FBI asset and later accused of acting as a ‘double agent’; and a dramatic takedown scene at the end. Public defenders representing the accused have identified at least 12 FBI informants and three undercover FBI agents managed by FBI officials in numerous field offices responsible for framing the men.” • Interesting play in the playbook? (I have a vague memory, and I can’t run it down, that FBI agents involved in this entrapment scheme were also active in January 6. Readers?)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trump’s Final Battle Has Begun” [Frank Bruni, New York Times]. “‘I see our political process pulling away from where people are on the ground,’ said Danielle Allen, a professor of political philosophy, ethics and public policy at Harvard who is an advocate of better civics education and more constructive engagement in civic life. ‘The political process has become a kind of theatrical spectacle, and on the ground, since 2016, we’ve seen this incredible growth of grass-roots organizations working on all kinds of civic health. I think people are getting healthier — or have been — over the past seven years, and our politics doesn’t reflect that.’ She noted that in a growing number of states, there are serious movements to do away with party primaries, a political reform intended to counter partisanship and produce more moderate, consensus winners.” • Allen’s perspective is certainly unique, and welcome, if true. Can readers comment? (Are the “grass-roots organizations” really just liberal Democrat NGOs? Or is something going on that’s not making the news?)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

A brilliant discussion from Naomi Wu:

I know that fecal aerosols are a problem, but maybe the Asian “squat toilet” has something going for it:


Anti-masking is an assault on the working class (1):

Anti-masking is an assault on the working class (2):

An assault that’s hopefully defeated:

Immune Dysregulation

“The Cough That Doesn’t End” [New York Magazine]. “I was at a long-awaited panel discussion at my friends’ private home, listening to Senator Kristen Gillibrand speak about paid leave and reproductive rights with women’s-health entrepreneurs Priyanka Jain and Alessandra Henderson, when I first heard it: the Cough. Henderson, the founder of a women’s-health company called Elektra Health, coughed discreetly from the makeshift stage. Then she coughed again. It was dry and quick and frequent. Every so often, she would turn her head, raise her hands, and, behind the swishy curtain of her chic blonde bob, cough. A woman stole over and slipped her a cough drop. Gillibrand had warmed up and was on a tear about TikTok. (Not a fan, by the way.) And still, discreetly but certainly not imperceptibly, coughing. Henderson did not otherwise seem sick. She was a power woman on a panel with a senator, in peak form, but what can I say? These days, you notice the cough. Who among us has not walked the streets of New York beset by the scourge of the season, the persistent hacking cough? Maybe you currently have one yourself, or the person in the subway seat next to you is coughing, or you’ve narrowly escaped catching a cold from your throat-clearing cubicle neighbor. Even if you’re been personally spared, you’ve likely noticed that the entire city is hacking away right now, or maybe in this endless COVID era, it’s all just harder to ignore.” • This is actually a good piece, in that it mentions Covid. (Perhaps the “respiratory virus season” frame allows this.) There’s even mention of air filters! Still, there are two missing pieces of information. First, immune dysregulation from Covid is not mentioned. Why are so many so sick? Second, there’s no mention that Covid transmits asymptomatically; it’s not only the coughing people you have to worry about!

Denial and Cope

Here is another wildly speculative explanation for what Jessica Wildfire calls “The Great Abdication” (Links, today). Like yesterday’s thinking, this comes from the Neurodivergent (ND) community, who have to do a lot of thinking about why Neurotypical (NT) people behave as they do. Again, sorry for the small size, but it’s the best I can do given my monitor:


It really is possible to avoid infection with layered protection. Here is how one mother protected her baby:


Loss of executive function in the aircraft collision in Japan?

The plane (JA722A) that pulled out onto the runway read back the Tower’s instructions to “hold short” correctly. Then they did the exact opposite, pulled out, and JL516, landing, crashed into them.

Origins Debate

“CIA accused of hiding records that analysts took ‘monetary incentives’ to bury COVID lab leak finding” [New York Post]. “An offshoot of the conservative Heritage Foundation is suing the Central Intelligence Agency, accusing it of withholding records detailing payoffs to analysts to bury findings that a lab leak was the most likely explanation for the COVID-19 pandemic. The think tank’s Oversight Project filed a federal lawsuit against the CIA Dec. 22, alleging the agency did not comply with its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about analysts who allegedly “received monetary incentives to change their position on the origins of the virus,” according to a copy of the complaint first reported Tuesday by the Daily Caller.” • Hmm.

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, December 23:

Lambert here: Still going up. As a totally “gut feel” tapewatcher, I would expect this peak to meet or exceed the two previous Biden peaks; after all, we haven’t really begun the next bout of holiday travel, or the next rounds of superspreading events celebrations. Plus students haven’t come from from school, and then returned. So a higher peak seems pretty much “baked in.” And that’s before we get to new variants, like JN.1. The real thing to watch is the slope of the curve. If it starts to go vertical, and if it keeps on doing so, then hold onto your hats.

Regional data:

Regional split continues.

• FFS:

Verily and CDC are also not updated. So here we are in the midst of a peak, and no data. What a public health debacle.

• CDC also has a this “national trends” chart from the National Wastewater Surveillance system, which is, as we have come to expect from CDC web designers, completely separate from its “wastewater surveillance” page. Anyhow, here’s from NWSS, even though it too ends on December 23:

Comparing NWSS to Biobot, the peaks and valleys are more or less the same, but lack Biobot’s regional bifurcation (which starts in December). The chart is also a little deceptive, in that “all results” could lead the naive to believe that the chart covers the entire pandemic, when in fact NWSS only goes back to January 2022. However, the grey bar to indicate data subject to backward revision is good, and Biobot should adopt it.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, December 23:

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

From CDC, December 9:

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

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, December 30:

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

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.


Bellwether New York City, data as of January 3:

Lambert here: I still don’t like the slope of that curve, and notice we’re approaching previous peak levels (granted, not 2020 or 2022, but respectable).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. December 23:

Moving ahead briskly!

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?


Lambert here: Notice that for both Walgreens and the Cleveland Clinic, that although the percentage of positives is stable, the absolute numbers have greatly increased; Walgreen’s doubled. This speaks well of people; they’re getting tested before the holidays (and in face of a shit*tstorm barrage of propaganda and peer pressure to minimize, too).

NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, January 2:

1.1%. Up. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, December 30:

Lambert here: Percentage plateaued. Absolute numbers steadily increasing.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, December 11:

Turning down.

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

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


NOT UPDATED Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, December 23:

• “Long COVID Has Caused Thousands of US Deaths: New CDC Data” [Medscape]. “While COVID has now claimed more than 1 million lives in the United States alone, these aren’t the only fatalities caused at least in part by the virus… More than 5000 Americans have died from long COVID since the start of the pandemic, according to new estimates from the CDC… It’s also difficult to distinguish between how many deaths related to the virus ultimately occur as a result of long COVID rather than acute infections. That’s because it may depend on a variety of factors, including how consistently medical examiners follow the CDC guidelines, said Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, chief of research at the Veterans Affairs, St. Louis Health Care System and a senior clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis. ‘Long COVID remains massively underdiagnosed, and death in people with long COVID is misattributed to other things,’ Al-Aly said.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States ADP Employment Change” [Trading Economics]. “Private businesses in the US hired 164K workers in December 2023, higher than a downwardly revised 101K in November and beating forecasts of 115K. Leisure and hospitality led the way, as the sector added 59K jobs, followed by education/health services (42K), construction (24K), financial activities (18K), and trade/transportation/utilities (15K). In contrast, job losses were seen in manufacturing (-13K), information services (-2K) and natural resources and mining (-2K). ”

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits sank by 18,000 to 202,000 in the last week of 2023, firmly below market expectations of 216,000 to mark the lowest claim count since October.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 77 Extreme Greed (previous close: 72 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 4 at 1:30:16 PM ET.

Zeitgeist Watch

And when streaming fails?

So much for all our cultural inheritance….

News of the Wired

“‘Giant’ predator worms more than half a billion years old discovered in North Greenland” (press release) [University of Bristol]. “The new fossil animals have been named Timorebestia, meaning ‘terror beasts’ in Latin. Adorned with fins down the sides of their body, a distinct head with long antennae, massive jaw structures inside their mouth and growing to more than 30cm in length, these were some of the largest swimming animals in the Early Cambrian times…. ‘We have many more exciting findings to share in the coming years that will help show how the earliest animal ecosystems looked like and evolved,’ [Tae Yoon Park from the Korean Polar Research Institute, senior author and field expedition leader] concluded.”

“Fossil evidence of photosynthesis gets a billion years older” [Ars Technica]. “New fossils described by a team at the University of Liège push unambiguous evidence of photosynthesis back over a billion years to 1.7 billion years ago.” • Maybe some kind reader can translate the rest!

* * *

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 TH:

TH writes: “This little fella with exceedingly long antennae is exploring an Alyogyne hakeifolia, (Red Centered Hibiscus) Naples Island, Long Beach, CA.”

• Kind readers, I still am not comfortable that I have enough plants in the queue. Snow-covered trees! Icy flowers! The fall harvest! Autumn leaves! Last year’s wildflowers! Also, of course, honorary plants like fungi and lichen! Algae!

* * *

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:

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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. camelotkidd

    There’s a new movie entitled Civil War that’s hitting theaters in 2024, followed by a presidential election that promises to be the most contentious since 1968. With Joe Biden’s popularity plummeting, liberals have decided that “lawfare” is their best bet. Colorado and Maine just took Trump off the ballot, which almost guarantees the 2024 election to be explosive in ways never before seen. Either mass civil unrest or outright civil war.

    Just imagine the reaction of millions of Americans, many whom are heavily armed, when they are not allowed to vote for their preferred candidate. I can, and it strikes me that liberals didn’t really think this thing through.

    It appears that liberals, largely composed of the professional/managerial/class (PMC), and represented by the Democratic party would rather tear the country apart than put forth a progressive candidate and universal policies that benefit the vast majority of Americans. Instead liberals, allied with the deep state, have waged a no-holds-barred assault on the 1st Amendment and aimed the “Censorship Industrial Complex” at American citizens, all because of their strident hatred of Trump and his MAGA supporters. Russia-gate was the prime example of the lawlessness, but for liberals anything goes when it come to Trump.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Trying to get the leading political opposition figure disqualified is one thing. But trying to block other candidates of the opposing party is breathtakingly reckless. At the moment a main Democrat charge is that some Repubs are refusing to accept the results of the 2020 election even though they had threatened to do the same if they had lost. But if the Democrats are successful in getting Republican candidates removed from the rolls, then no Federal election will ever be recognized as being a fair election again with any President being regarded as only being there through dodgy lawfare. This I never saw coming. But how long until this tactic is being done on the State level to remove political opponents. This is playing with sweaty dynamite this as it means that every election will be illegitimate by definition. If the Repubs get in then they might go after the Democrats for doing this under Roman-style treason trials.

    2. LifelongLib

      The original U.S. Civil War always had an obvious resolution — initially the restoration of the Union, later expanded to include the abolition of slavery.

      I don’t know how we would resolve this hypothetical new Civil War, or what it would even be about — Biden vs Trump, how many genders there are vs how big a clip I can snap into my AK-47? None of that is worth shooting anyone for. And what would the Constitutional solution be?

    3. LawnDart

      Civil War (the Movie) just seems to pander to a segment of LARPers who are likely take paintball and airsoft games a little too seriously. Sure, IRL there’s obviously Trumpanzies who’ll angrily hoot and screech if “their” candidate loses or is denied office, but I really doubt that you’ll see “mass civil unrest or outright civil war” as the vast majority of the public can’t be bothered to give 2-s#!ts about the election– they got lives to lead and bills to pay, and voting doesn’t change a thing anyway.

      Good luck convincing anyone but the most extreme party-faithful that Election 2024 is a hill to die on.

      But who knows, perhaps the FBI will sponsor, organize, and arm a few “insurgency” groups that they can later parade in front of the cameras in order to give MSM media-types something to cluck and chatter about– gotta show that they’re doing something about something.

    4. caucus99percenter

      In the German state of Saxony, the latest poll has the Social Democrats (SPD) polling at three percent and the right-wing populist AfD at 37 percent.


      So what’s the three-percent party’s response? That’s right — the SPD wants the 37-percent party banned. In order to “save democracy.”


      As with Trump in the U.S., in Germany it’s “anything goes if it hurts the AfD.”

      Of course, this only leads to people in former East Germany supporting the AfD as they can rightfully argue that they have seen this method of governing before.

  2. Henry Moon Pie

    ” this Claudine Gay story has shown that we can drive major, paradigm-shifting victories over a compressed timeframe.”

    I love it when them consultant types talk dirty.

    1. Jake

      Pretty weird to see PBS NewsHour today giving another long talk about this story with the same guy from yesterday defending her. I paraphrase: “These guys are all racists and what she did is a nothing burger. Just a couple of mistakes with citations and generous use of language by others. We should not have to listen to charges of wrong doing from racists.” That ‘generous use of language by others’ were his exact words, none of the others. TBH they at least had someone on to push back.

  3. Michael Hudson

    Re who should Trump appoint as VP running mate in November, I remember one of the bad Stuart kings (I think it was Charles, not James) said to his son, “Do you think that they would remove me to get YOU?”

    Re the ballot access debate, my ideal would to be to ban candidates from BOTH the Republican AND Democratic parties.
    (Conflict-of-interest acknowledgement: I support Jill Stein.)

    1. NYMutza

      I recall reading book last year titled Conspiracy Theory In America written by Lance deHaven-Smith in which he mentioned that the 25th Amendment to the Constitution came about after the assassination of John F Kennedy because it would be an easier and cleaner way to be rid of a president compared to assassination. In the wake of the 25th Amendment presidents made sure to select running mates far less capable than they in order to minimize the chance that they would be removed from office via the 25th Amendment. As far as Trump’s travails go he might be wise to select a real doofus as a running mate.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Kamala. That is who I immediately thought of when Michael Hudson mentioned that quote ‘Do you think that they would remove me to get YOU?’

        2. Feral Finster

          Good point. Kamala makes Quayle look like an Elder Statesman and Serious Thinker by comparison.

          And nobody claims that Quayle had sex with Willie Brown to get his position. Not even once!

      1. ambrit

        Why not go back to the “original” method used wherein the second place candidate was appointed Vice President? That would be a real “checks and balances” system.

  4. flora

    Yesterday, the comment was made that people in the govt bureaucracy might be against T because they want to keep their jobs. That made sense to me. This former CIA guy has a new book out about the internal dissension in the agencies. It sounds like an internal PMC struggle to me. 11 minutes. Kind of interesting, imo. Holding on to their jobs.

    Ex-CIA analyst STUNS America after saying intel agencies to be politically active again in 2024 election:

    “Significant problem!”


    1. Lee

      Thanks for the link. Re govt bureaucrats concerned about losing their jobs, I assume you are referencing Project 2025 (Wikipedia). I may have missed it, but I don’t recall much discussion of it here at NC as to what it might portend should its proposed changes be enacted by Trump et al.

      1. NYMutza

        Wasn’t it Richard Nixon during his “imperial presidency” say something to the effect “if a president does it it is not illegal”? Trump is very late to the game.

          1. undercurrent

            I understand your point, but I’d like you to finish it by revealing who said ‘If the FBI does it it is not illegal.’ I have no respect for the FBI (and they could probably care less), and it’s naive to think they are just another honest federal agency, but the source would be of some benefit.

              1. undercurrent

                Thanks. I recall another comment by Nixon, I am not a crook. Can you think of some current US President who might soon be saying something like that? I can.

    2. Feral Finster

      Of course the alphabet agencies are politically active, regardless what the law allows or says.

    3. Carolinian

      Trump now says his biggest mistake was not clearing out the Swamp. Doubtless the swamp creatures take this seriously however seriously Trump takes it.

      I’m a member of that school that thinks Trump never expected to really win in 2016 and was both shocked and unprepared for the outcome. Whatever he might do next time there are plenty of restraints to stand in the way of the much gaslit “fascism” worry bead.

      1. digi_owl

        The swamp is deeper and murkier than one man is likely able to do much with.

        Lots of crooks, snakes and toadies in them waters.

  5. Naftali

    Bideneconomy “roaring ahead.” Sure thing… :-(

    Blue Shield of California cites “the economic headwinds we are now facing” in cutting 165 employees this month in Oakland. Every week hundreds of layoffs as long term employees are jettisoned.

    The Bay Area is a Potemkinconomy, with some noticable flash, but more trash. I think the best way to judge the state of affairs is to talk to Amazon delivery drivers. There are very diverse demographically. They go everywhere. They are overworked, underpaid and desperate.

    The homes they visit are reportedly becoming more cluttered, crowded, with lots of people at home, not working. Homeless camps are growing in spite of California taxpayers having spent over 22 Billion on ‘solving the problem’ under the billiant leadership of Gavin Newsom.

    In one of the wealthiest counties in America, here’s what has sprung up like a giant social toadstool in the last couple of years: “Binford Road A.K.A. Bidenford Road, has residents with mixed experiences, including those who have been chronically homeless and people who work full-time jobs but can’t afford a home.

    1. JohnnySacks

      Seems to be a semi-reasonable solution to a problem which has a price tag of a heck of a lot less than $22 billion. I can see why those who have would hate it, but those who have a vehicle are certainly better off than those who have a tent.
      I have a cousin living in the back of a box truck parked in his friend’s field right now, surprisingly, he’s OK with that. There’s not much out there a 70+ year old can do for work to pay the rents (Rhode Island)

      1. Gunny Sgt

        Like some commercial truck stops, if he could get warm in winter or cold in Summer pumped in via an insulated flexible duct from the house it would be ideal.

        Also, he can use the toilet in the house. The campers in Marin are dumping sewage into the nature preserve wetland which now has–surprise!–algae growing in what was once clear water.

        At the local and state level, the more tax dollars that are spent to support the homeless, the more who show up, that’s only common sense for them. Plenty of out of state plates on Binford Road.

        Have you seen the Orangeman’s solution for homeless veterans?

        “On Day One, President Donald J. Trump will sign an Executive Order to cut off Joe Biden’s massive spigot of funding for shelter and transport of illegal aliens and redirect those savings to provide shelter and treatment for homeless American Veterans.”


    2. flora

      The homeless are a job opportunity for the college degreed PMC class looking for managerial work. The more homeless, the more homeless manager jobs.

      Helping the homeless isn’t part of the gig, imo. Increasing govt grants for PMC jobs to ‘help the homeless’ is the gig. Hence, the need for ever more homeless people. Another self-licking ice cream cone. / my two cents.

      1. Jake

        This is the absolute truth. I used to live where there was a massive homeless problem and the city would dump piles of cash on non profits that “help” the homeless. Somehow they would get hundreds of millions a year and the problem always got worse. The homeless people I was friendly with hate those non profits. They aren’t stupid, they see what is going on as well. We called it the Homeless Industrial Complex. It was scary because we felt like the worse they made those camps look, the more people would agree to spend money on the non profits. And then if you try to fight them, you might end up with a new meth camp in your neighborhood next. There’s some really scary things going on in the HIC.

          1. Jake

            That video is great. We had a guy come out who had worked skid row in LA and talk with an APD guy and the [family blog] mayor. The mayor had nothing but long meandering BS answers while both police has smart things to say. It was so frustrating. The mayor was a real estate lawyer that lives in the penthouse of the W hotel. Completely out of touch and the type of guy who got in bed with a blockchain company pushing a scam to track homeless people with it. But the really crazy people where the Homes Not Handcuffs people advocating for defunding the police and letting people camp anywhere and do anything. It finally occurred to me that the people who are scamming the homeless are the same ones campaigning to get rig of the police. As soon as the Homes Not Handcuffs lost a ballot initiative massively, their main troublemaker went straight over to the Austin Justice Coalition to start more problems with law enforcement. AJC is run by a guy who has said that if someone shot his grandma in the face, he would not want them to go to jail. Even worse is that the local news refuses to report on any of it, or if they do, they get it all wrong and don’t bother to ever follow up or talk to anyone other than the non profits. If anyone reading this is considering a move to Austin, Texas, I would like to warn you, it’s been a failed city since 2019 or before, but most people there haven’t figured it out yet. Think San Francisco only worse because the state govt is only willing to help make it worse to make the demirat politicians look bad.

        1. digi_owl

          Seems like this is going on all over the non-profit sector, as management allocate more and more and more of the funds to their own paychecks.

          1. Jake

            The non profit I used to live near is notorious among the homeless. It used to be a church focused on recovery, but then some new people took over and it’s new specialty is finding people housing, supposedly. Along with that it does handouts to anyone who comes by. Some of these people are actual homeless people who get into drugs because that’s what everyone else in that area is doing, but most are hardcore drug addicts who are homeless because they chose meth or whatever over their family and friends years ago and all of those people were forced to make the choice to give up on them because it’s just too dangerous to continue trying to help.

            The non profits that cater to these hardcore drug addicts are in the perfect spot to setup major scams. Not just scamming the people who donate money or go volunteer, they scam the drug addicts directly. We have heard numerous stories over the years and they are always the same. “Mark helped me get financial support to get housing, then he deposits my checks for me and pays the rent for me and gives me the rest of my money as I need it. He says I have to do it this way if I want to get housing. Last month I had $550 left but Mark says all my money is gone already. I’m afraid to go to the police because that’s what Gary did but Gary didn’t get his money and now Mark won’t give him food anymore.” Even worse, after a few years of these stories, we heard from a police officer that they also take up people’s medications and them give them a daily dose each day, but the police have had multiple calls from people who say Mark keeps their drugs and tells them they are out half way through the month. We explained all of this to our city councilor and all she would say is “Mark is doing great work.” Years later we explained the same to another candidate for city council, Harvard educated :(, and he pretended to understand the issue during the campaign and even reacted positivly when we suggested the ordinace in Portland, OR that made these non profits move away from schools. The one I’m talking about is right across the street from an elementary school. A school the school district has been trying to close for decades. Anyway, of course once the kid from Harvard got in, with a lot of help from those of us who really needed his help, he turned into another one of the blob and actually said at a meeting where we were discussing the Girlscouts being robbed by a person who loiters at the non profit, he actually said “Mark is going great work.” Something is seriously wrong in the HIC and it’s going to get a lot, lot worse before the general population figures it out.

  6. Henry Moon Pie

    “Instead of a heroic effort by the FBI to safeguard the country from domestic terrorists, it now appears to have been a broad conspiracy by law enforcement to entrap American citizens who held unpopular political views”

    The only thing new about this is that right-wingers were targeted rather than protected as they typically are. The Cleveland Five were targeted by the FBI because a bunch of Libs who infested Occupy didn’t like their manners.

    Whether it’s against Lefties as has been their wont for 5 decades plus, or they’re persecuting MAGA, the Libs love to do a little oppressin’, I say the MAGA-ites get to complain when one of theirs gets gunned down like Fred Hampton.

    1. Carolinian

      One of the TDS raps against Trump is that he might–gasp–do away with the FBI or even the CIA. Both are devoutly to be wished. A republic doesn’t need no stinkin’ secret police force. An Empire….

  7. Terry Flynn

    Re COVID explosion. Here in Nottingham, centre of UK, the main East Midlands teaching hospital has issued a critical warning tweet (I can’t seem to link anymore thanks to Musk) saying that essentially the ED (ER for across the pond readers) is officially overwhelmed.

    No surprises to us locals. Mum was very ill for 48 hours encompassing Xmas day. Then I (as primary carer who “keeps to other side of the house mostly”) got it and was knocked down for 2 days. Then Dad. It ripped through sister’s family after their visit, and now they have a 2nd virus (also apparently respiratory). My Long COVID symptoms are flaring up again *sigh*.

    Literally every family we have contact with is struck down by “some virus”. No idea if it’s the newest variant of COVID, a slightly mutated version of one of the 3 or 4 flu strains we were all vaccinated against (we being our household, NOT sister’s household who don’t qualify and who have “double dip”), or just another respiratory virus.

    It is tearing through the city and I got what was obviously a “cancellation slot” just before Xmas for an echocardiogram (as were ALL the others in the waiting room, with whom I talked to) since large numbers of people coming for scans etc are cancelling suddenly. Plus masks are re-appearing and fewer people in the supermarket are “accidentally on purpose” banging into me with their trolley upon seeing my FFP2 mask. And most of the staff are now masked again.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Thanks Lambert. I tend only to post my personal anecdotes when there is enough “hard data” (like your graphs), or just so many other anecdotes, to suggest I’m not crying wolf. I really am seeing “things break down” in retail around here.

        There is a deep irony that I’m getting cancellation slots and appointments for aspects of my condition that otherwise under the current govt would have not been dealt with for 6-12 months. I’m “filling dead people’s shoes”……which is very effed up, much as I want the specialists to start reading the kind of papers you routinely link to and do something for me ASAP. We really are in the worst timeline.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Tearing through New Orleans as well after the New Years Festivities of visiting Washington and Texas College Football Fans.

      Some corona, but a lot of RSV – Strep Throat as well.

      Everyone’s coughing and sick.

      Round 99…FIGHT!

      1. ambrit

        The RSV and strep throat must be what is beginning to show up in numbers here in the Wilds of Misisip. Sore throat and inner ears, dry hacking cough, no nasal discharge to speak of. It’s spreading far and wide here.
        I’m still not seeing any significant uptick in masking in the public yet.
        I’m all in for a new motto: “We don’t talk about Mask Club.”
        Stay safe in the Big Easy.

    1. Lee

      “Why are we still playing make-believe?”

      To borrow a phrase, and please don’t take this personally: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Or maybe it’s the stupid economy.

    2. flora

      Mr. Topol is quite a naif if he thinks any politician in a presidential election year will go near this topic after the fed govt ,under both T and B, screwed up so spectacularly in 2020 forward. Na gonna happen. (And B still owes me $600.)

      Also, individual private insurance out-iof-pocket cost issues for c19 treatments coverage now.

      1. NYMutza

        Pfizer desperately needs a huge increase in Covid cases. It’s share price has tanked recently. Preventive care is not a moneymaker for the drug lords.

      2. antidlc

        “(And B still owes me $600.)”

        He still owes me a public option. A decent public option would be worth far, far more to me than $600.

  8. kareninca

    I am trying to figure out in what way multiple covid infections would make things so much worse. If the body doesn’t clear the first infection (per the Jan. 4th 2024 “Muscle Abnormalities” Nature communications study Anthony Leonardi has cited)(plus other studies), and it hangs out in reservoirs, shouldn’t that be enough to be a problem? I wonder if a the antibodies the body produces for the second infection interfere in some way with the antibodies it made for the first infection (and is still making, since the body is still fighting off the first infection). Or if they attach in a funny way to antigens on the surface of cells that were already infected by the first infection. It is hard to picture what the hell is going on in someone who has had five infections; they must have brain and reproductive protected reservoirs filled to the brim and antigens and antibodies bouncing off of each other like crazy.

    I now know three people who have had a peculiar and unexplained unsteadiness/dizziness over the past several weeks. None of them were tested for covid, naturally; they had CT scans and a bunch of other costly tests but no $15 covid test. Also, the wastewater covid level in the Palo Alto, CA area is (essentially) the second highest it has been in the course of the pandemic, due to a sudden spike which looks like it is not done going up.

      1. kareninca

        Yes, as a bonus. I figured at the start of the pandemic that there would ultimately be so many strains that each person would finally be infected by just the right strain for him/her. In due time. Now I realize that each person will create his or her own artisanal strain of covid, like a brew pub beer particular to a locale, with its own hints of hop.

    1. Lee

      “I wonder if a the antibodies the body produces for the second infection interfere in some way with the antibodies it made for the first infection (and is still making, since the body is still fighting off the first infection).”

      Seems that your are describing original antigenic sin, which was first observed in relation to influenza in 1960, and subsequently to other viruses. Regarding Covid for example, “The relative ineffectiveness of the bivalent booster against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in patients who had previously received COVID-19 vaccines has been attributed to immunological imprinting.” (Wikipedia).

      1. kareninca

        The risk of ADE was one of the many reasons that I decided to skip the vaccine, and focus on masking (etc.) instead. So I have a very crude idea of how ADE works. I was wondering even back then if multiple infections could cause ADE in the case of covid. So maybe the increased risk of long covid after multiple infections is due to ADE?? But then there are the reservoirs. They have to make things worse, continuously pumping out antigens, and causing antibodies to be made. Imagine a person with five strains of antigens being pumped out, and five types of antibodies being made for them (maybe; maybe they can’t make new antibodies due to imprinting). It would be like being a walking viral stewpot.

        I was sorry that no-one picked up on the IgG4 tolerance tweet that was in the links yesterday. Brian Mowrey posted about this problem back on July 22 of 2022 (“Tolerance Cometh: IgG4 After Multiple-mRNA Doses”)(https://unglossed.substack.com/p/boosting-tolerance-igg4). He wrote in a subsequent post that there are medical ways to reverse this, but of course you’d have to admit the problem and then actually treat people (I can’t find that post now; he is very hard to read so I didn’t save it but I now regret that). I would guess that people will also get this sort of “tolerance” after multiple infections, too, but who knows, supposedly it is not showing up in unvaccinated people but they are rarely distinguished well in studies.

  9. Mark Gisleson

    A Julie Kelly ‘keeper’ from almost exactly one year ago identified at least one Michigan FBI agent as being very actively involved in 1/6 prosecutions.

    Steven D’Antuono, the FBI brass whom Wray moved from the Detroit field office to Washington, D.C. just a few weeks before the election, promised a scorched earth approach. “Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of criminal activity inside the Capitol. Bottom line—the FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation,” D’Antuono said in a January 8 statement. [link]

    I also remember seeing something more recent involving other FBI personnel but couldn’t yandex up a link. I admitting to being a pollyanna at times but I honestly think that if the DOJ authorized FBI agents to submit cases for prosecuting their superiors, we could get rid of most of some of the problem.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      She’s even more specific in today’s piece. Apparently he was the head of both field offices. From the article –

      “The incident took on greater significance when it was revealed that Steven D’Antuono, head of the Detroit FBI field office during the Whitmer caper, was promoted to head up the Washington, D.C., FBI field office three months before the events of Jan. 6.”

  10. Frank Hatfield

    Want to Understand 2024? Look at 1948.” [Nate Cohn, New York Times].
    Another PMCon Job to validate Biden.

    The only industrial power left in the world in 1948, with pent up domestic consumer demand, massive industrialization capacity, tons of savings and military pay stateside, and a desperate need worldwide for our exported products. Hundreds of thousands of military trained and skilled men coming back from overseas ready to start families in a country with far more open land and resources than now.

    Today we’re a deindustrialized joke, with closets overflowing with junk and no one able to afford anything because of high debt levels. Millions of ‘migrants’ pouring in ready to undercut wages and work cheap, while American women forestall family formation for careers, while many men laze around strung out with no mechanical skills or experience doing anything real.

    Also, America in 1948 was a white country with a common culture. Now what’s left of that is divided and internally infighting with a dog’s vomit of diversity, no common culture and the closest thing to common values Hollywood, pro sports and greed.

  11. flora

    “do away with primaries”

    There’s no need to do away with primaries. Make them open primaries where any registered voter, party member or independent, can vote in the party primary of their choice. (But not both R and D primary in the same year.) That would let unafiliated, independent voters vote in either party’s primary. More moderate candidates are the outcome of open primaries. Moderate candidates try to appeal to the moderate voter whether party member or not. Closed primaries lead to more extreme candidates pandering to the most wing-ish segment of their party.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      The problem is that those more moderate candidates are completely incapable of dealing with the crises upon us. What’s marked as “extreme” in our purportedly TINA world is exactly what’s required to solve some problems created by calamitous capitalism and our Compete and Consume culture.

    2. Pat

      I would have to see what alternative is offered, but my first thought is that no primaries just makes uniblob candidate selection easier.

      I would be willing to give a long multi runoff election process a try. Anybody and everyone on the first ballot, lose the bottom half for the second, lose half again for the third, last ballot being the final six to ten candidates left, winner of that gets the office or the electoral college votes. Two weeks between elections until the final which happens on Election Day.
      I realize that would break a lot of rice bowls but it might be interesting to see a situation where the two uniparties don’t have control of the process.

  12. marym

    > Trump’s fraud report

    From someone whose analysis I’ve found to be reliable. He’s done detailed, close to realtime reviews of election fraud claims, audits, and government responses in AZ.

    “It’s a list of all the poorly thought out fraud claims with foot notes linking to another time someone made the poorly thought out fraud claim. So an infinite nonsense loop.”

    I didn’t find any reference to a version with author(s) identified. I found comments that the report references a “Report on Widespread Fraud in the Georgia 2020 Presidential Election” which isn’t linked and doesn’t come up in searches. I checked a few GA claims:

    Trump’s report [paraphrase]: Trump was winning at 10:15 but they kept on counting.

    Trump’s report: Fulton County ordered over 1 million absentee ballots days before the 2020 Election, without any envelopes and the time necessary to mail.

    Georgia Public Broadcasting reporter at the time:
    “Did Fulton County, Georgia order more than 1 million ballots before the November 2020 election? Yes. Is there a non-nefarious explanation? Also yes! Thread https://twitter.com/stphnfwlr/status/1459242091037478922

    Trump’s report: Fulton County certified 59,143 in-person votes on Election Day, despite the fact that only 14,152 people had voted as of 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2020.

    Lead Stories [Note: “an active part of Facebook’s partnership with third party fact checkers”]: [12/2023 email from GA SoS public info officer]“The poll tape is one record of votes cast either in a polling location or by a single machine. Sometimes they are not generated (the machine runs out of paper on which to print the tapes, for instance, or they just get lost). But a lack of a poll tape doesn’t invalidate a single vote. The counts of which have been recorded on the machine, by the scanners, by the number of ballots given out by the poll workers, in the Statement of Votes Cast, etc. A poll tape is not the only place votes get recorded.”

    Paging rowlf for counter arguments :)

      1. rowlf

        The BBee covers Georgia Governor Stacy Abrams’ concerns well. At least she is not an elections denier. /s

        Btw, I’d like to see Brian Kemp a US president as at least he has the political chops to match maybe the Russians.

    1. rowlf

      Hi marym,

      Thanks for the shout-out. Georgia politics is up there with college football in this area, except as Hunter Thompson would say, it is a blood sport.

      If you get interested in GA political games, try a long view of Fulton county having a rich history of voting concerns. Say, 30 years, or more.

      About a year ago I posted about an Atlanta race for local assembly seats where there no votes for one of the assembly persons even though she voted for herself. Oops. While that was a obvious screw up how many minor voting screw ups with electronic tabulators and ballot marking devices happen?

      There was also an interesting NPR podcast on curing ballots in the 2020 Georgia election that leaned in the desired direction for the group doing the legwork. Maybe curing ballots was what DJT was trying to get Raffensperger to go after but didn’t articulate it well. (go figure with Trump)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks marym, this is very good.

      Yes, I know most of its likely to be garbage (like AZ), despite the even tone. But… My father and I used to go “dump picking,” back in the day when that was possible/legal. If there’s stuff worth picking, GA is a good place to review.

  13. Regis Tufarian

    “Trump lawyers seek to hold Jack Smith in contempt of court in 2020 election case”

    From the order:

    Defendant’s appeal automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on Defendant.

    The reason for that part of the order is that, if the Appeals Court sides with Trump, there will be no trial because the case will be dismissed, so it does not make sense to act as if the Appeals Court will not side with Trump.

    But (and there’s always a but):

    The stay does not include:

    the measures [the court] has already imposed to safeguard the integrity of these proceedings, including: Defendant’s conditions of release,…; the protective orders governing discovery materials,…; the restrictions on extrajudicial statements,…; and protective jury procedures

    The motion which the government filed, IMO, is an attempt to move “this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on Defendant” because it is an attempt to exclude certain categories of evidence from a prospective trial (a “motion in limine“), which, again, will not happen if the appeals court sides with Trump:

    The Court should exclude the evidence and argument described above that have no bearing on the defendant’s guilt or innocence, are otherwise irrelevant, or are substantially more prejudicial than probative.

    Trump also states in the contempt motion that the government

    served thousands of pages of additional discovery, together with a purported draft exhibit list.

    That, too, moves “this case towards trial or impose[s] additional burdens of litigation on Defendant.”

    So, I think the government did violate the order. However, whether that will lead to sanctions is another question.

  14. ChrisFromGA

    CRE update: WeWork is walking away from more leases, taking advantage of the Ch. 11 bankruptcy code process to break contracts:


    Atlanta area office vacancy rate is 33% and with 8 more WeWork locations going Tango Uniform, it is sure gonna be a long, cold winter for office landlords.

    Mister No Tenants Risin’ …

    1. Late Introvert

      Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people. Sadly, I predict they will all get bailouts.

      1. tegnost


        FTA…Altos Labs Inc., a life sciences startup that works on cell regeneration, had $680.3 million in deposits with the bank. The privately held company has raised $3.27 billion from billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner, as well as Mubadala Investment Company and other investors. An Altos representative declined to comment.

        …a bit more than the 250,000 threshold

        I can’t even…
        Apartments are facing an over 30 percent vacancy market, and commercial rents are dropping at an alarming rate. The ultimate loser will be San Francisco residents, as property tax revenue will drastically reduce as commercial and residential properties will be reassessed at much lower values.

        Rents need to go down.
        Thanks for bailing out the scum of the earth joe, so the rent can stay too high
        Vote democrat, they’ll beat you with a cat o nine tails…the republicans just use a stick.

  15. Vicky Cookies

    No offense meant to any doctors here, but it has been my impression for a while that the nature of the field of medicine itself would tend to weed out empathetic people. When the human body is your workspace, it wouldn’t make sense to me to expect compassionate treatment, and that’s largely been borne out by my own experience.

    1. Carolinian

      One of my favorite shows is the long running (but now gone) British comedy Doc Martin where the joke is that he is a super competent doctor who is totally lacking in people skills although “unempathetic” perhaps too strong. When our lives are at stake he may be the one we want.

      However we want the system to be totally empathetic and another reason we Yanks like the show is the depiction of the old style NHS where citizens have a safety net they can depend on.

      So yes, it’s fiction for Americans but over the years was very popular.

  16. Vicky Cookies

    Re: “normies”: who the hell cares about the opinion of someone who hasn’t bothered to educate themselves? My favorite sentence in English, were I to ever hear it, would be “I am not competant to render an opinion, as this is not an area to which I have dedicated my study.”

  17. Jason Boxman

    The COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid does not reduce the risk of long COVID for vaccinated people who’ve tested positive for the virus for the first time, according to a new study by UCSF researchers.
    The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Medical Virology, also found that a higher share than previously reported experienced rebound symptoms and tested positive for COVID after taking the antiviral medication.


  18. The Rev Kev

    “The FBI-Tainted Whitmer ‘Kidnap Plot’ You’ve Heard Next to Nothing About”

    One of the most bizarre things I heard about this case was how at one stage this gang was in a van and the number of FBI informants actually outnumbered the boofheads that had been convinced to do this plot in that van.

    As for Federal agents abetting protesters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, last I heard there were about forty rioters that have not faced any charges while those who mostly just took selfies of themselves were sentenced to harsh prison terms. I wonder if that is still true.

  19. GramSci

    Re: Fecal aerosols

    Whenever I’ve lately been forced to vacate my cocoon and travel, I seek out public restrooms. Fecal aerosols notwithstanding, public restrooms are typically the best ventilated public spaces in these Great United States.

    Similarly, cheap motel rooms with individual A/C window units accessing outside air.

    1. ambrit

      The health codes concerning public places are pretty strict. The ventilation requirements of public restrooms have been well worked out for decades. For instance, there is a minimum distance between individual ‘stalls’ and the exhaust grill in the ceiling. There are also minimum cubic foot per minute (CFM) exhaust requirements as well. Alas, the idea of using closed “lids” on the ‘facilities’ has not been addressed. The open front toilet seats were considered “cleaner” than the closed front style, and thus ‘encouraged.’
      The minimum space requirements for toilets themselves are very specific. The reach of an ‘average’ person is used to determine the placement and distance from the “customer” of items like toilet paper rolls and flush valve handles. Spaces for wheelchair accessible stalls are also very strict. The stall has to enable a wheelchair to turn in a circle, with the door closed. Hand rails for support and personal ‘mobility’ onto and off of the toilet are set at scientifically determined locations and heights.
      There is a lot of real science involved in the design of bathrooms. Trust me. I’ve been there and done that.
      On a related note, now, in our fair half horse college town, former “cheap motel rooms with individual A/C window units” are now rented out as “Efficiency Apartments.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        IIRC, pressure flush toilets in airport bathrooms are massive aerosol spreaders, and all flush toilets are aserosol spreaders. It’s a good thing to change the air a lot, but if there’s an enormous aerosol explosion right in your face, even good ventilation will not help.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > cheap motel rooms with individual A/C window units accessing outside air.

      Excellent point, although one does want a motel where it’s cheap safe to go out in the parking lot.

      1. ambrit

        Going to a motel is the definition of a “Cheap Date.” Keeping the ‘action’ out in the parking lot is another experience altogether, “dogging.”

  20. Tommy S

    One of the very few things I strongly disagree with on NC, is the idea that pops up “democrats are for open borders” and implies there is a huge surge of ‘illegals’ here. Not true from any factual articles I could find. And have been watching numbers, etc since Bill Clinton times. Bush jr actually legalized more than Obama did. There IS a huge surge of people wanting to get in! With thus increased refusals, and removals. And some increases of work permits etc. From today, ‘Being a “sanctuary city” is all very well, until somebody takes you up on the offer.” In such a city, like in SF, this merely covers misdemeanors , ID check on streets and such with police. When an illegal commits a felony, they are deported or go to court for jail, prison here. They will turn over an illegal to ICE, and they do, if there is a warrant out for them already! They are just barred from acting like ICE on our streets, and when people report crime etc. It’s a very reasonable idea. It also means illegal workers, who are paying just as much tax as me, can apply for housing, and now even a subsidy to BUY insurance if very poor….that doesn’t mean any ‘free stuff’. In the next article I note it says Texas sent “which has seen more than 26,000 asylum seekers arrive since August 2022.” These are people trying to follow a legal path for entry. They present themselves at a gov’t crossing. They are following the rules, but then are being used as pawns. ….I know you are all too busy, but if you can please post from someone with experience on the subject, with real numbers of the past 20 years, it may change your mind a bit. And as the great writers on NC as well as half the comments section bring up factually, the vast majority of asylum seekers….and then southern ILLEGAL crossings are mostly from areas that the USA has 1) supported fascist coup as we saw with a surge from Honduras after Obama/Clinton…and ultimately the stranglehold of imf/world bank on gov’ts, and on gov’ts that the USA sanctions (Venez., etc). Also as an aside it also interesting to look at actual make up of ‘illegals’. A huge chunk are not from down south over the border….but asians etc, that have over stayed a legal visa, or permit. Thank you so much for all, and allowing me to put my two bits in.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, the Biden executive order allowing a big upsurge in immigrants from Mexico and RFK, Jr’s accounts from spending 3 days there disprove your assertion. And the Dems and PMC enforcers are all over anyone who criticizes liberalized immigration.

      1. Tommy S

        RFK’s statements at the border, on the jimmy Dore show, are so unfactual. He stands there and says “all these people are getting let in and flown to your city”…my god. Just as his horrendous statements about Israel and Palestine are outright lies. Please , if anyone on NC has the time, search out immigrant groups down there with a factual record as well as …real statistical articles……..well anything but the pyscho RFK jr.

        1. Yves Smith

          Sorry, he spent three days there interviewing the migrants themselves, border police, NGO types, and has footage from there. Merely based on three days there he found plenty of counter-evidence to Biden Admin claims, such as a high proportion of immigrants being brought in by from Africa. The Biden Admin actually started shifting its statements after that. Citing what he said on a COMEDY show verges on bad faith as is mentioning his remarks on the Middle East, which is ad hom. You need to deal with his arguments on the merits.

      2. Tommy S

        From the Wash. Post even, a few days ago, “ICE’s workload has swelled under Biden. The number of migrants on the deportation docket has risen from 2.6 million in fiscal 2018 to about 6.2 million last fiscal year. The agency has approximately 6,000 immigration officers.
        All told, officials deported 142,580 immigrants to about 180 countries last fiscal year, including more than 44,000 from the interior and more than 98,000 from the border, the report said. Another 60,000 people were expelled under a Trump-era policy that ended in May.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/2023/12/29/immigrants-ice-border-deportations-2023/

  21. Jason Boxman

    During the first wave of COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) was used off-label despite the absence of evidence documenting its clinical benefits. Since then, a meta-analysis of randomised trials showed that HCQ use was associated with an 11% increase in the mortality rate. We aimed to estimate the number of HCQ-related deaths worldwide.


    Meta study. I can’t evaluate statistical rigor.

  22. steppenwolf fetchit

    Under the ” Trump win could put his running mate in office” scenario, what if Trump were to running-mate with Bernie Sanders? Not that he would, or that Sanders would accept it ( unless Sanders thought it would guarantee Trump’s defeat,)

    That would be some serious trollery at several levels.

  23. Even keel

    Section 3- Heiloern and Worley.

    This article, even if persuasive, only gets halfway there. It does not explain the oath discrepancy.

    To be dq’d, the person must have been both an “officer of the United States” and have sworn to “support the constitution.”

    Congress critters, and all the others, take the oath to support. Const., art VI:
    “ The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;”

    Presidential oath does not include a promise to “support” the constitution. He or she must “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    Art II sec 1 cl 8.

    Different Words of course mean different things.

    So, this article, even if persuasive, only gets halfway there. It does not explain the oath issue.

    As to the merits of the article, I think part IV is the key. And I’d say that it provides sufficient legal analysis to enable a judge who wants to agree with the conclusion to do so. But legislative history is a terribly fickle thing. I’ve no doubt that there would be sufficient evidence to enable a decision to the contrary as well.

    To me, the language games merely enable the decisions on the merits. And as I am partial to the policy reasons not to apply this provision to the president, if I were a judge I would find it does not. The unfortunate thing for the country is that I would be bound by legal norms and expectation to express my reasoning in the light of the language games, rather than, a la salmon chase in griffins case, by an open exposition of my consideration of the policy merits.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It does not explain the oath discrepancy.

      Excellent point, you are correct. To my simple mind, since the writers of the Amendment named other specific players, and did not name the President, they did not mean to include the President in the class of officers (since, I suppose, that’s how I would have written it: parallel construction*). Further, there’s a very good reason why the President is different in kind from all the other “officers”: The President alone (leaving aside the VP) is elected by the entire nation, and is the only elected officer in the executive branch (hence, possibly, the difference in the oaths). I freely admit I haven’t seen anyone else make either argument.

      NOTE I have not seen anybody make the argument that the Vice President is/is not subject to Section Three, though it might be in Baude and Paulson’s gigantic argument (recalling for a moment Dick Cheney’s argument that the VP was a Fourth Branch of government, since the VP also presides over the Senate….).

  24. Carolinian

    re Haley just reading a rundown of possible Trump VP picks and it says many Trump allies including his son say no way, no how to Haley as Veep. It said while Trump likes her his private nickname for Nikki was “birdbrain.” So even Trump thinks she is a maroon. It said he might pick Tim Scott though.

  25. VietnamVet

    Since the Imperial Democrats decided in 2014 to go to war with Russia to impose a regime change on the Kremlin, the propaganda, scapegoating and fundamental incompetence in the West have kept escalating. In essence, WW3 has started with regional wars in the Balkans and the Arabian Peninsula that the USA has no way of controlling. Plus there is an ongoing global pandemic of the mutating coronavirus variants. Waves of migrants are crossing into Europe and North America.

    The basic cause of the endless wars, pestilence, and shortages is the fact that 90% of the human population simply does not matter; only the wealthy and their retainers are of any importance. In the current global economic-political system only money has value. All “Vices” are profit generators. The current global economic system is amoral.

    The feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration due to inflation, stress, homelessness and illness are natural. The ruling plutocrats and their bought politicians project/displace these feelings onto outsider individuals or groups – “the other tribe”. Human empathy is eliminated. Communication is halted.

    Civil War 2024 is a certainty if the propaganda continues and Western rulers can’t grasp reality since they are paid by corporate warmongers not to. Only restoration of good government plus the ending the World War can restore peace and rebuild sovereign secular democratic nations that are protected by secure borders and the rule of law that is equal for all.

  26. Acacia

    Bad news:

    Sensorineural Hearing Loss in Patients with Long-COVID-19: Objective and Behavioral Audiometric Findings

    Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by COVID-19, as other symptoms in the nervous system. Hearing loss may also be the only symptom or complication of this disease or the symptoms of long COVID-19. […] There were statistically significant differences between the control and study groups. Sensorineural hearing loss was found in 65.5% of the tonal audiometry test. The stapes reflex was absent in almost 20% of post-COVID-19 patients.


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