2:00PM Water Cooler 1/8/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Peaceful Dove, Utopia Environment Reserve, Queensland, Australia. “Cut starts with tail up display then normal call from Peaceful Dove, lower calls from Bar-shouldered dove, subsequent tail up display calls from Peaceful.”

* * *


“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

“Brief for Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner” (PDF) [The United States Supreme Court]. “Brief for Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee as Amici Curiae in Support of PetitionerHistorical context severely undermines the lower court’s interpretation of Section Three. The Reconstruction Amendments “were specifically designed as an expansion of federal power and an intrusion on state sovereignty.” City of Rome v. United States, 446 U.S. 156, 179 (1980). Yet the Colorado Supreme Court transformed Section Three into a states’-rights superpower. According to the court, the Reconstruction Congress gave state officials—here, state courts and state election officials—the power to decide the most sensitive political questions about loyalty and legitimacy, and to then decide on that basis who may stand for election to the most important position in the national government. That claim—that the Reconstruction Congress gave States, including former Confederate States, the power to independently decide national candidates’ qualifications with no congressional permission—is implausible.” • A good argument, but Republicans arguing forcefully against states’-rights wasn’t on my Bingo card!

“‘This Week’ Transcript 1-7-24: House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi & Rep. Tony Gonzales” [FOX]. “STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Madam Speaker, if you believe he engaged in insurrection under the plain meaning of the 14th Amendment, you believe he’s ineligible to be president? PELOSI: Those laws – you know, those are up to the states. They have different laws from state to state. I don’t think he should ever have been president. STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s the Constitution.” • If by “those laws” Pelosi means ballot qualifications, she’s right, and Pelosi correcting Stephanopolous on a point of law wasn’t on my Bingo card either.

“How Trump 2024 is Shaping Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment” [University of Baltimore Law Review]. “New Mexico residents have already used Section Three to disqualify County Commissioner Couy Griffin for his participation in January 6th. The court found that Griffin engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States because he “appeared at a Stop the Steal rally in Albuquerque along with the New Mexico Civil Guard” and “was a featured speaker on a multi-city bus tour to Washington DC.” On this tour, his goal “was to rally and inflame crowds and recruit them to come to Washington DC” on January 6th. If a court finds Trump was as involved as Griffin in the January 6th attack on the Capitol, it could very well disqualify him from holding office. However, of the nine politicians that were accused in court of violating Section Three due to their involvement with January 6th, courts have only chosen to bar Griffin from office. Another possibility is that, much like Representative Greene, Trump’s actions will be too far removed from the incident for him to be disqualified. Representative Greene is the representative for Georgia’s 14th district in the House of Representatives. During the January 6th attack, Representative Greene posted a video on social media showing support for the participants. The court found this evidence insufficient to establish that Representative Greene violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The question becomes whether Trump’s actions are more akin to Griffin’s active recruiting or closer to Representative Greene’s passive support.” • Hmm.

“Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney decries Trump as a threat to U.S. democracy” [The Dartmouth]. “Throughout her speech, Cheney heavily criticized former President Donald Trump, stating that Trump’s attempt to ‘seize power’ following the 2020 election ‘threaten[ed] the very foundations of our democracy.’ Cheney described Trump as ‘depraved’ and ‘derelict in his duty’ for failing to tell insurrectionists to go home after many hours and expressed dissatisfaction with members of Congress who continue to support and endorse Trump.” • I’ve seen this talking about emerge in the last few days, including in Biden’s “Valley Forge” speech. So charge him for it!

Capitol Seizure


Sold out, but pre-orders available. On a different note–

“Family of Ashli Babbitt Files $30 Million Wrongful Death Action” [Jonathan Turley]. “The long-awaited tort action from the family of Ashli Babbitt has now been filed in Southern California. Babbitt was shot and killed on Jan. 6th and her family is seeking $30 million in a wrongful death action. Equally important, the lawsuit could force additional answers to why Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd shot and killed the unarmed protester as she attempted to climb through a window near the House Chamber…. Babbitt, 35, was an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter who participated in the riot three years ago. She was clearly committing criminal acts of trespass, property damage, and other offenses. However, the question is whether an officer is justified in shooting a protester when he admits that he did not see any weapon before discharging his weapon.”

Biden Administration


Less than a year to go!

* * *

* * *

Biden’s speech at Valley Forge:

Interesting for several reasons: The invitation-only audience chanting “Four More Years,” Biden in command of his faculties, at least during the speech (the stuff with Jill afterwards took awhile to enter the news cycle, and then only through the Daily Mail, as far as I can see). He may actually believe what he’s saying; his hatred and contempt for Trump were palpable. If the campaign goes with “Let Biden be Biden,” this is what we will get. Biden is certainly comfortable with the theme. I took a screen shot from the video:

I remember, back in the day, seeing the same expression on George W. Bush’s face quite often; the set of his jaw, the downturned mouth. Underneath the frat-boy demeanor, Bush was mean, a vicious S.O.B. Same with Biden.

“Protesters disrupt Biden, president resumes remarks at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church” [Post and Courier]. From the live coverage: “Biden has been interrupted by protestors calling for a ceasefire in Palestine. ‘There’s blood on your hands,’ protestors shouted. Biden stopped and said, ‘That’s alright.’ The audience started chanting ‘Four more years’ so loud that the demonstrators could not be heard. Secret Service agents promptly ushered the protesters out of the sanctuary. Biden resumed his speech, saying, ‘I understand your passion.’ Biden said that he’s working with the Israeli government.” • The reporter tweets:

Interestingly, they’ve got Biden going down the big stairs again. Maybe they tinkered with his dose?

“Obama, worried about Trump, urges Biden circle to bolster campaign” [WaPo]. “Obama’s conversation with Biden on the subject took place during a private lunch at the White House in recent months, one of the people said, a meeting that has not been previously reported. Biden, who has long used Obama as a sounding board, invited his former boss to lunch, and the two discussed a range of topics including the 2024 election. During the lunch, Obama noted the success of his reelection campaign structure in 2012, when some of his top presidential aides, including David Axelrod and Jim Messina, left the White House to take charge of the reelection operation in Chicago. That is a sharp contrast from Biden’s approach of leaving his closest aides at the White House even though they are involved in all the key decisions made by the campaign. Obama also recommended that Biden seek counsel from Obama’s own former campaign aides, which Biden officials say they have done, the people said.” • This article is rather gauzy. I think that Obama, through his anonymous sources, is saying “Hire some of my people.” And he’s also, in the gentlest possible way, positioning the blame cannons (“Joe didn’t follow my advice”).

“Biden campaign responds to report on Obama warnings about Trump” [The Hill].

“Clyburn concerned Biden campaign isn’t breaking through ‘MAGA wall'” [The Hill]. “‘I have no problem with the Biden administration and what it has done. My problem is that we have not been able to break through that MAGA wall in order to get to people exactly what this president has done,’ Clyburn said in an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ Clyburn, a long-time South Carolina representative in the House, is often credited with helping Biden’s campaign ultimately clinch the 2020 Democratic nomination after winning the Palmetto State that year. Biden won his first early contest in the South Carolina primary, after securing Clyburn’s endorsement. In the interview Sunday, Clyburn said he has sat down with Biden to express his concerns about the Biden team’s reelection campaign, but stressed he was ‘not worried,’ but ‘very concerned.'” • “Concerned,” in the Beltway, means “hair on fire.”

“House GOP Recommends Hunter Biden Be Held in Contempt of Congress” [The Daily Beast]. “House Republicans filed a resolution Monday requesting that Hunter Biden be held in contempt of Congress for defying a ‘critical’ deposition request related to the GOP’s impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden…. If the resolution passes the committees, the full House—which has a slim Republican majority—will vote on whether Biden should be held in contempt of Congress. If that vote passes, the House can then refer the recommendation to the Department of Justice, which would ultimately decide if Biden should be criminally charged.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trump allies seek to co-opt coming election-security case to bolster 2020 lie” [WaPo]. The deck: “The largely left-leaning plaintiffs in the federal civil case going to trial this week in Georgia allege that the state’s voting machines are vulnerable to hacking — not that they have been hacked.” More: “The people U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg declared to be not ‘conspiracy theorists of any variety’ are the largely left-leaning plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was filed in Georgia long before the 2020 election and that is slated to go to trial this week. They argue that voting machines there present security risks that state officials are constitutionally obligated to address — and they have the backing, Totenberg wrote, of ‘some of the nation’s leading cybersecurity experts and computer scientists.’ A favorable outcome for the plaintiffs would have extraordinary implications: Georgia, one of the swing states that decided the last presidential election, could head into the 2024 cycle with machines that a federal judge has deemed dangerously vulnerable to security breaches, at least as currently operated. Though it would be aimed at ensuring a more secure voting system, such a ruling could have unpredictable implications for the public understanding of election integrity, particularly if it is mischaracterized by those seeking to sow doubt about past and future elections.” • However, electronic voting machines are in a phishing equilibrium (encapsulated: “If fraud can happen, it will already have happened,” on the same principle that a twenty dollar bill lying in the street is probably a discarded fake, since somebody would already have picked up a real one).


“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!

* * *

Covid is Airborne

“Avoiding COVID was about more than just keeping 2 metres apart, study finds” [EuroNews]. “Researchers from the Nuffield Department for Medicine at the University of Oxford analysed data from 7 million people in England and Wales who, during the health emergency, were notified by the country’s NHS COVID-19 app that they had been in contact with someone who was infected. The goal was to find out how many of those alerted actually contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus…. The researchers took advantage of this ‘treasure trove’ of information to study the relation between distance and duration of an encounter with an infected person to see how this would influence the risk of someone being infected. And it turns out that duration is as important as distance, if not more. ‘Everybody was focussed on the distance. There was this 1-metre or 2-metre distance rule in shops, at stations. But distance should have never been the focus of it because as we know now, the truth is more nuanced than that,’ Ferretti said. ‘Once you’re a short distance from someone, it’s the duration that matters. If you’re exposed for 10 seconds, you must be very unlucky for the particles from the mouth of the infected person to get to your mouth or your nose. But if you stay there one hour, of course yEou will try your luck 60 times with respect to one minute.'” And: “The researchers found that longer exposures at greater distances had a similar risk to shorter exposures at closer distances….. [T]he longer someone spent with another person who was sick, the more likely they were to get sick themselves, even if they kept a 2-metre distance at all times.” • Droplet dogma would not predict this. Aerosol spread would.

Even the history of aerosol transmission as been erased. Public health has a lot to answer for:


“They have to make their own decisions”:

Incredible body language; leafing through the briefing book is a very nice touch!

Censorship and Propaganda

“Prepare For The Ultimate Gaslighting” [Julio Vincent Gambuto, WBUR]. From 2020 (!!!!):

Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how to “reopen” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal.

Billions of dollars will be spent on advertising, messaging and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in traditional forms — a billboard here, commercials there — and in new-media forms, like memes.

In truth, you crave that feeling of normalcy. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.

He got that right!

* * *

Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, January 5:

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.

Lambert here: Called it. Impressively, the Biden administration has now blown through all previous records, with the single exception of the Omicron, the top of the leaderboard, a record also set by itself. Congratulations to the Biden team! I know a lot of people think the peak will come in the next two weeks or so; I’d like to hear at least some anecdotal evidence of that beyond the models (because recall JN.1, whose peak this is, is extremely infectious).

Regional data:

Regional split continues. What’s more worrisome is that the slope of the curve in the Northeast got steeper (although, as ever, Biobot data is subject to backward revision).


NOT UPDATED From CDC, January 6:

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

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, 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 8:

Lambert here: I like the slope of that curve even less, and 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 30:

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.

From CDC, traveler’s data, December 18:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, December 18:

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


Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, December 30:

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

The Economy: “One of the most commonly cited recession indicators that’s been flashing red has a major flaw, NDR says” [Business Insider]. “One of the most commonly cited recession indicators is the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, and it’s been flashing red for nearly two years. åThe forward-looking index has declined 20 months in a row, is down 12.6% from its peak two years ago, and is down 7.6% over the past year. The index has never seen such a sharp and persistent decline without an economic recession unfolding shortly thereafter. But this time might finally be different as it appears the index has ‘cried wolf,’ Ned Davis Research said in a recent note. The firm highlighted why the economic index’s perfect track record of warning about an imminent recession might have finally come to an end. ‘The LEI may be another victim of pandemic related distortions,’ NDR said. That’s because the underlying components of the index weigh goods too heavily and services not enough. That’s a problem when you consider that the makeup of today’s economy is roughly 85% services. ‘Five of the ten indicators are goods-related and three are financial-related,’ NDR explained. Only one component of the LEI captures the services economy, and that’s unemployment claims. The heavy reliance on goods-focused components is why the leading index failed to catch the sharp reacceleration in the US economy during the second half of 2023, in which GDP grew by about 5% in the third-quarter.”

Manufacturing: “Alaska Airlines accident could have been ‘much more tragic,’ NTSB official says” [NBC]. “Seats adjacent to the blowout, which occurred when a panel called a door plug detached from the plane, were not occupied, and the aircraft’s altitude meant passengers were likely seated with seatbelts in use, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said during a news conference Saturday night.” • Here are the 737 MAX seats to avoid:

Manufacturing: On the “door plug” itself, a long thread, excerpted:

Big if true. Perhaps mechanical engineers and aircraft mavens in the readership can comment.

Manufacturing: “The door fell off”:

Newer readers may not be aware that this is an homage “The Front Fell Off”, by the brilliant Australian comedy duo Clark & Dawe (here very, very young):

Manufacturing: The system worked:

Useful perspective, but surely the system is coming ever closer to not working?

Manufacturing: “Alaska 737 cockpit voice recorder data erasure renews safety debate” [Reuters]. “The cockpit voice recorder data on the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet which lost a panel mid-flight on Friday was overwritten, U.S. authorities said, renewing attention on an industry call for longer in-flight recordings. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair Jennifer Homendy said on Sunday no data was available on the cockpit voice recorder because it was not retrieved within two hours – when recording restarts, erasing previous data. The U.S. requires cockpit voice recorders to log two hours of data versus 25 hours in Europe for planes made after 2021. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has since 2016 called for 25-hour recording on pl anes manufactured from 2021. ‘There was a lot going on, on the flight deck and on the plane. It’s a very chaotic event. The circuit breaker for the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) was not pulled. The maintenance team went out to get it, but it was right at about the two-hour mark,’ Homendy said.” • Whoops.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 8 at 1:53:07 PM ET.

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

The 420

“Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants” [Journal of Natural Products]. From 2022, still germaine. In vitro. Commentary:

No doubt!

News of the Wired

“What really has a 1 in a million chance?” [Berkeley]. From a statistics class: “20 coin tosses (by me) all coming up Tails. YES… If you tossed the coins then the first answer would be NO, unless I’m very confident you lack the ability to fool me …”

* * *

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 Carla:

Carla writes: “My begonia summers on the patio, but this is its winter home.”

• Kind readers, I think I’m OK on plants for awhile, though it never hurts to have more!

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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. Hepativore

      Biden is almost like a presidential version of insane mayor Adam West from Family Guy.

      I can only imagine how much coordination and complex operations are involved behind the scenes to maintain the failing illusion that the naked and senile emperor is still wearing clothes.

    2. Screwball

      Who to choose? I just watched a small segment of Jay Shetty’s “On Purpose” podcast (never heard of the guy). The interviewee is terrified of what might happen in the 2024 election, and it even keeps her up at night.

      Michelle Obama.

      A sighting. More to come? I think so. She would get the women out to vote, and her name is Obama. Plausible, IMO. They have nothing else, and hubby is calling the shots anyway, IMO.

      Now I’m the one terrified and losing sleep.

      1. MaryLand

        I’ve long thought she would be the default candidate. She gets all the Dems, many women, many minorities, and can bask in the glow of her husband’s glamour. The Obama Camelot returns to the great relief of the nation.

      2. Carolinian

        Well Michelle would make better counterprogramming to Don “I’m here all week” Trump but supposedly she doesn’t want to do it on top of it being such an obviously cynical move.

          1. Pat

            The overhyped Michelle losing. My desire for shadenfreud screams yes, my anti violence self screams no. The sanity of the Democratic PMC class is already strained to the breaking point. I don’t want to see totally unhinged.

      3. steppenwolf fetchit

        Maybe Michelle and Hillary will run together on the same ticket. Michelle will run for President and Hillary will run for Vice President. If elected, Hillary will then work to create a Cheney-style Fourth Branch nearly-co-presidency for herself.

        They could talk about how they have buried the hatchet for the good of the country.
        All Hail Michellary Clintobama.

        1. The Rev Kev

          How about Harry & Meghan? Meghan already is an American citizen so can run and if she wins, you will have Royalty in the White House. What’s not to like?

          1. Pat

            Gossip has had Meghan lobbying Newsom hard for an appointment to Congress. And devastated when she didn’t get Feinstein’s seat.
            Watching the train wreck that has been their media and charity work I have to think they would make Trump look good even without half of DC working overtime to punish them for winning. Not that Biden hasn’t already done that.

    3. Steve H.

      Taibbi is learning from Trump. His cadence has shifted, mimicking his subject. Trumps use of short words and interjections shifts the classic rhetorical flow of iambic pentameter. He tends to make his phrases less than ten syllables per line. All of these are nine syllables:

      It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it?
      Crooked Joe searching for the exit
      He incited an insurrection!

      In iambic pentameter, these are (at nine syllables) short, masculine, and definitive. As he shortens them, the lines become more poetic, evocative of emotion, and less of a rhetorical statement. Taibbi is doing the same:

      an artery-clogged casino boss
      with bankruptcies and a comb-over.


      things that as a citizen
      made you want to puke from shame.

      Compare to Taibbi’s most famous sentence:

      The world’s most powerful investment bank
      is a great vampire squid
      wrapped around the face of humanity,
      relentlessly jamming its blood funnel
      into anything that smells like money.

      That is fully iambic pentameter, with a breath-pause in the second line, to let the imagery imprint itself.

      So it seems to me.

      1. Bosko

        I appreciate your attention to standard rules of English prosody, but are you really saying that good English-language writing can be hammered into ten syllables, and bad English-language writing will be more or less than ten syllables, when you try to force it into that measure? Because that would be ridiculous. “Relentlessly jamming its blood funnel,” for example, isn’t iambic pentameter by any stretch, because it ends on an unstressed (feminine) syllable, which doesn’t “count.” And recall that in Shakespeare’s later plays, fully a third of the so-called “iambic pentameter” metrical lines contain more than ten syllables. Scanning is always an idle pursuit, but I suppose you’re taking the piss.

        1. Steve H.

          It isn’t so much good v bad English, but what it’s used for. More like diesel v gas engines, each has qualities which serve their ends well. Forebrain v limbic.

          For the technique of the analysis, refer thee well to Cicely Berry:

          All that we have talked about and looked at so far has been to do with just this: the structure within a speech or sequence of speeches. And we have found that this structure depends on:

          1. How the metre is disposed within a line, and how the sense stress works with the metre stress.

          2. The through energies of line, thought phrase, and whole thought structure. We have to be aware of how each on those three contributes to the momentum forward.

          3. How the thoughts are broken up, be it in prose or verse, is directly related to the emotional state of the character.

          4. The substance of the word – i.e., the number of syllables, the length of vowel, and the quantity and type of consonants; all this within one line gives it its particular character, and this tells us of the quality of the thought.

          5. The use of antithesis, and how this sets up the parameters of the thought.

          6. The logic of the imagery, and how the finding of the image is directly related to where the character is placed in terms of the laws and structure of his particular world, and of nature, and also how very often there is a ladder of imagery set up which leads us through a scene or part of a scene.

          [The Actor and the Text, p. 229]

        2. vegasmike

          Shakespeare’s plays are mostly written in iambic pentameter blank verse, a ten syllabus line with an accent on the second syllable. Iambic pentameter to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, sounds so elegant, so intelligent. I learned that back in high school. Also, as an old New Yorker, I have to tell you that cross ventilation was a great real estate selling point, because in the summer your apartment would feel cooler.

  1. petal

    NC Friends, Jamie Raskin (D-MD) will be speaking at Dartmouth today 5-615pm (EST US). It is entitled “Democracy vs Autocracy in 2024: Rep.Jamie Raskin (D-MD), discusses the historic stakes of the 2024 election, and its potential impact on the future of American democracy. Professor Herschel Nachlis moderates.”
    Livestream can be found here.
    Again, I will not be attending as my elderly hound’s walkies and dinner takes precedence, and I simply have no tolerance left for these people. All gone. Cheers!

    1. upstater

      I’m disappointed we didn’t get the livestream blogging of Liz Cheney. /s

      Some PMCs take this VERY seriously.

  2. IMOR

    “Underneath the frat-boy demeanor, Bush was mean, a vicious S.O.B.”
    Department of Redundancy Bureau would like a word.
    But honestly, Biden’s tendency to let expressions of impatience slide to open exasperation and then choler was plain during committee work from the late 80s onwward. I was always surprised he maintained the Genial Joe/Serious Uncle Joe cycle so well during eight years as VP.

  3. lyman alpha blob

    W’s frown always struck me as a fratboy doofus trying to look serious. Biden’s looks more like involuntary old man rictus.

    Same result either way – both have vicious mean streaks and love to sic the dogs on people, or more literally, drop the bombs.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And about siccing the dogs, literally, Harper’s had the following in their most recent issue – https://harpers.org/archive/2024/01/major-issue-secret-service-biden-dogs-major-commander-bites/

      Major Issue

      From emails exchanged by Secret Service agents between March 2021 and November 2022 regarding president Joe Biden’s dogs, Major and Commander.

      We have noticed Major getting more aggressive

      Be careful around that dog

      That stupid dog

      Freaking clown

      He bit me twice

      Now I’m pissed

      I was working an evening shift

      Major came around the corner

      I looked up and saw him

      Major running at full stride

      He locked eyes

      Something serious was about to go down

      I proceeded to walk

      Major barked loudly

      I immediately stopped and put my hands up

      Major advanced

      He came charging at me

      “Major, stop!”

      The dog jumps and bites

      I lift my arm up

      The dog was still attached

      The First Lady was attempting to pull the dog off

      The First Lady couldn’t regain control

      The dog bit a second time on the right buttock

      SMH …

      I could not avoid this unusual circumstance

      Looks like the dog was being playful

      But playful can go wrong quickly

      My leg and arm still hurt

      Feels like I was in a dog fight lol

  4. petal

    NH attorney general issues cease and desist order to Democratic National Committee
    “CONCORD, N.H. (WCAX) – New Hampshire’s Republican attorney general on Monday issued a cease and desist order to the Democratic National Committee.

    John Formella said it stems from a letter sent on Friday by the committee to the New Hampshire Democratic Party. In that letter, Formella says the DNC told the state party to tell people the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary election on Jan. 23 is “meaningless.”

    Formella says statements like that are misleading and could prevent voters from participating.

    New Hampshire’s primary came under fire from Democrats at the national level when the Granite State refused to give up its first-in-the-nation primary status to South Carolina.

    The DNC still considers South Carolina, on Feb. 3, to be first.”

    1. Carolinian

      We’re number one. Think I will vote this time (after several Covid years) just for the satisfaction.

    2. flora

      A small quote from B’s speech above in links: “Our leaders return power to the people, and they do it willingly.”

      Except in primaries … / ;)

      1. nippersdad

        …….and wars, and bailouts, and spying, and health care………..Gilens and Page showed us the men behind the curtain back in 2015. I hope someone at Petal’s above referenced Raskin speech will helpfully point that out for him.

  5. Roger Blakely

    We did it! We blew past the January 2023 and July 2022 SARS-CoV-2 wastewater peaks like they were standing still. The curve has not even peaked yet. I didn’t think that this would happen. I thought that January 2024 would be slightly better than January 2023.

    Another thing to mention is the dominance of JN.1. I think that my skin rash since June was the result of being hit daily with twenty different subvariants of XBB. Getting hit with nothing but JN.1 every day may go easier on the immune system.

  6. steppenwolf fetchit

    About Biden’s face and Dubya’s face . . . I saw Obama wearing the exact same face. That Obama face could be paired with the same Dubya face and called ” separated at birth?”

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        The point is that that face indicates the mask slipped and the acting failed. That face reveals their true innermost selves.

  7. hemeantwell

    Re the Babbitt killing

    However, the question is whether an officer is justified in shooting a protester when he admits that he did not see any weapon before discharging his weapon.”

    That’s missing another dimension of the encounter, which was that Babbitt was part of group/mob trying to break through barricaded doors, quite possibly posing a threat to representatives on the other side. That said, one filament of the tapestry of gobsmackery draping my existence is why cops are trained to shoot to kill, not disable or, even better, to try to scare the bejeezus out of people and break up momentum. And, that said, her family should go after the clowns who worried about “optics” and delayed National Guard deployment.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      It now appears that law enforcement inside the Capitol were actively opening doors to let those outside come in, and that many law enforcement dressed as Trump supporters were already in the building to serve as tour guides to make sure the protesters made it to the best photo opp sites.

      Under those circumstances, the shooting of Ashley Babbitt was premeditated murder, if not by the cop, then by his superiors who didn’t let him in on the ‘gag.’ I have seen the word “barricaded” before, but I have yet to see a picture of how the door was actually barricaded which strikes me as odd since a picture of protesters crawling over barricades would have been front page worthy. The word barricaded, as it has been used, seems like an after the fact embellishment so I googled and found this. Wowsers! I think it’s pretty obvious this was a staged photo (did the Q-Shaman use a different door?). Would be nice to see a timestamp to find out when it was taken and if ‘rioters’ were even in the building at that point.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Video in the following article has the view from the other side of the door, including the shooting – https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/family-of-san-diego-woman-fatally-shot-storming-capitol-sues-u-s-for-30m/3396623/

        Definitely a very tense situation. Clearly someone had already broken a door pane before the video started, but the cops do appear the be holding people off, until they all suddenly decide to leave. Hard to tell exactly why with so much of the video beeped out.

        Definitely some more questions I’d like to see answered here.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Can you imagine what will happen when the lawyers for the family use the process of discovery?

      2. marym

        Can you be a little more specific than “It now appears…”?

        The first link below is a twitter thread with video that appears to be the same incident as the photo linked in your comment. The thread and the second link include some information about the video.

        I posted a link in the 7/21/2023 Water Cooler to the court document which has a detailed report of the shaman guy’s time at the Capitol, including documentation of the sources of video evidence. The time, place, and manner of his entry is described in that document on page 2. The third link below is some footage of him at the barrier and entering the building.


        1. Mark Gisleson

          Yeah my sense of the timeline was wrong. I just watched a Julie Kelly recced one-hour timeline video on Twitter that got me to rethink a lot of stuff. [link]

          Mainly I’m thinking I was way underestimating when I speculated that as many as 100 law enforcement embeds may have been involved.

    2. Angie Neer

      I am not a gun user myself, but my understanding is that the idea of “shoot to [something other than kill]” is fictional. Handguns are not precise except possibly under the most strictly controlled circumstances, and regardless of where you hit someone, a bullet is not a precise tool. In real life, you have to assume that any shot could be deadly. Therefore, law enforcers are not supposed to shoot until they’re sure killing is necessary. Obviously it doesn’t always work that way, given that there are human beings on both ends of the gun.

  8. Tom Stone

    I don’t believe Biden can last until November despite the happy juice they keep shooting him up with, he looks more fragile with each appearance.
    To me the big question is who he will choose as a running mate, Harris is first rate life insurance but no one in their right ( Or left) mind wants her anywhere near the big red button.
    ANY Dem who “Wins” this time will be seen as illegitimate by at least half the populace due to the 14th Amendment Lawfare, they spent 4 years calling Trump a Russian Agent and diminishing what legitimacy the office had, this latest craven ploy may well be the final blow.
    When the “Mandate of Heaven” (Legitimacy) disappears all that is left is Force.

    1. Feral Finster

      If the Establishment can only retain power by use of naked force and repression, then that is what they will do, without a moment’s hesitation.

      1. jsn

        I mean really, the things you have to do to get it through people’s heads we don’t live in a democracy, elections for at least a generation have existed only to keep everyone’s eyes off of real power.

        It all worked when “leadership” could still BS their way out of tight spots.

        But success breeds failure when you start believing your own BS.

  9. Glen

    The Gregory Travis tweets have some misinformation on the 737 MAX 9 door plugs. Here’s an update video from 737 Technical Site that goes over how the door plugs are fastened shut:

    737 Mid-Cabin Emergency Exit Doors – Plug Option

    Those items outlines in red are part of the stop pads (on airplane) and stop fittings (on door plug) which transfer the pressure load from the door plug to the fuselage. The missing parts are probably used to adjust the closed fit of the door plug to the fuselage, not secure it in place.

      1. Acacia

        Not an engineer here, but I thought(?) lock washers are used in this sort of application.

        If the bolts were loose and the washers could spin, then really there was nothing keeping those bolts from loosening further. And from that photo, it kind of looks like the bolts were awkward to reach and somebody was too lazy tighten them properly.

        So, how many other bolts into the airframe are loose?

        1. Glen

          You’re right, none are supposed to be loose. All are supposed to be fastened in such a manner that nothing comes loose while being shook, and temp cycled.

          The Incredible Strength of Bolted Joints

          And you’re right, if those are loose, how many more are there?

          We’re only able to learn about what’s being found and tweeted about (and I suspect that informal reporting will stop or slow way down as various airline and airplane company VPs see it in the evening news.)

  10. Lena

    The Valley Forge audience at the beginning of Biden’s speech had the weakest sounding chant of “Four More Years!” I have ever heard. There was a wheezing quality to it. The audience could scarcely wait to sit down to catch their breath. Was it caused by apathy or repeated cases of Covid leading to Long Covid? Probably both.

    I suggest the Biden campaign change their 2024 reelection slogan from “Finish The Job” (who came up with that turkey?) to “The Front Fell Off”. Much more accurate and inspiring!

    1. The Rev Kev

      I wonder if anybody was taking readings of that air or perhaps taking air samples. Could be very revealing.

  11. Nick

    The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the country’s second-largest pension fund, may borrow more than $30 billion to help it maintain liquidity without having to sell assets at fire-sale prices, according to a new policy its investment committee will consider this month. (January 2024)

    How do they borrow if the state has a $68 Billion deficit and hasn’t passed an audit in several years? Will teachers get warrants, or IOUs, instead of pay? Nope, you cannot pay taxes with them. Yet another Newsom failure. And this guy wants to be president?


    1. jo6pac

      The California State Teachers’ Retirement System’

      Isn’t part of the state but is a separate run fund and NC has carried in the past how poorly they’re run. Sadly, it use to be one of the best run and strongest retirement funds in Amerika.

  12. Jason Boxman

    The door fell off indeed; You mean it suffered a decompression event at altitude. Talk about lack of executive function; Boeing by sheer luck avoided yet another casualty event. Multiple executives really ought to go to jail.

    1. Carolinian

      It was still climbing and only up to 16,000 ft–still not even close to Everest, more like Mt Whitney or Mt Ranier. The noise though must have been horrific.

      1. Screwball

        Thanks for this. I was wondering what the altitude was. Not a rocket scientist, but guessing if the plane had attained cruising altitude it would have been catastrophic.

        Between the TSA experience and lack of trust in airlines, I don’t even want to drive by an airport.

        1. The Rev Kev

          In a comedy skit a coupla decades ago, Red Skelton said that the name Boeing is like the sound a plane makes when something falls off of it as in-

          ‘Boeing! There goes another bit of the plane!’

          1. Screwball

            I’m old enough to remember Red. The world’s greatest clown. Talented guy. A buddy of mine met him at an art gallery. Said he was a gracious as could be. I ran across a picture the other day (wish I could link to it) of Red in clown face sitting on a bench with Jackie Gleason whose eyes were bugging out. Great picture. Two of the greats IMO.

            They both had shows and they were actually funny.

        2. flora

          Yeah. It isn’t that the safety protocols “worked”, it’s that in this instance on this plane they weren’t stressed at the plane’s normal range of expected flying altitude. They were damned lucky. Very damned lucky. Or as my grandmother might have said, “There but for the grace of God…”

    2. Will

      In my younger, more generous days, I opposed the death penalty as most murders are committed in a fit of passion and the death penalty does nothing to deter the perpetrators.

      In my wiser middle years, I recognize the need to be open to a wider range of views.

    3. LifelongLib

      I always thought a “plug door” opens inward, and that cabin pressure seals it more tightly. Hard to visualize how one could blow out without taking a chunk of the fuselage with it.

  13. Randy

    Oh God! I am the first to notice!

    The date for today’s Water Cooler says, 1/6/2024. Below that it says “Posted on January 8, 2024 by Lambert Strether”.

    Do I get a prize?

  14. The Rev Kev

    IT’S JANUARY 6 💣STORM THE CAPITOL — THE BOARD GAME 👮‍♂️👵🏻🧙‍♂️👨‍⚖️🥷 Now available for sale at http://trueanon.com/stc

    If that board game was anything like snakes and ladders, you would go up several levels because the Capitol Police let you in by opening the doors but at the top you would hit a snake and go all the way to the bottom because your realized that not a single person remembered to bring a gun.

  15. scott s.

    Teacher “Bob” found the door/plug in his back yard. The only pix I’ve seen the structure itself seems intact, but would have been nice if he had taken a couple snaps from the side, so we could see what those tracks look like, also at the bottom where the hinge/spring mechanism is fitted. A pix floating around of what is purported to be United 737MAX9 with loose hardware on the hinge assembly doesn’t point to a smoking gun yet.

    The 4 “holding bolts” appear to be in shear, if they see any load at all (the two in the bottom hinge mechanism do seem like they would be subject to spring force load, though weight of the plug would seem to be opposing that).

    Finger pointing between “Spirit” and “Boeing” suggesting that Spirit fits the plugs for delivery to Boeing, while Boeing removes them to install interiors and is responsible for final “rigging” (ensure the plug is evenly loading the 12 circumferential “stops” against the fame “pads”). I’m assuming on the ground/unpressurized there is a certain amount of pre-load on the “pads”.

    Question about Dec 23 install of wifi in antenna pod atop the fuse near the plug location prompted denial by wifi installer of any work near plug.

    1. Glen

      I’ve linked to an article above on The Air Current that has pictures from what I assume is United inspections of the door plug. Loose fasteners on the hinge assembly.

  16. DGL

    Re: Biden down the long stairs.

    I do not think he is exiting Air Force One – the 747. So there is no optional exit.

  17. Jason Boxman

    ALL of my cleaners are constantly sick.

    They are either in the hospital, sick at home, or have doctor’s appointments. If it isn’t them, then it is a close family member.

    I am not complaining. I understand that things happen but I am concerned because this is ALWAYS happening.

    Does anyone else constantly experience this?

    Capitalism Twitter never mentions the COVID, but I am seeing stuff like this.


    What a mystery.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The Taiwan elections are fascinating, and while Taiwan, like all other democracies, has its share of awful politicians, I find the willingness of some leading politicians to address problems head on quite refreshing (although most Taiwanese would probably disagree considering the overall low opinion they have of them). There is a hard pragmatism in Taiwan society that is a nice contrast to any number of other countries I can think of – the excellent, if underfunded health service being one example.

      The one thing I struggle to get my head around is the quite abrupt shift in KMT politics that has occurred in the last decade or so. I don’t know if this reflects deeper changes, or is simply a reflection of the KMT growing much closer to Beijing in, shall we say, financial terms.

      On a related note, this Taiwan Times article on housing in Taiwan is very illuminating. I’m beginning to think that policy focusing on housing as a repository for family savings and wealth, which is something shared between China, ROC, Japan and (to a lesser extent) South Korea, may prove to be the achilles heel of the Asian model for rapid growth. A combination of demographic decline with overbuilding of housing stock, combined with a strong dependence on house values as a store of personal wealth is a potentially devastating combination.

      1. hk

        Agree entirely about the fundamental pragmatism in Taiwanese politics. In an odd way, also helpful is that the Taiwanese are very much committed to the idea of “procedural democracy.” Even during the martial law days, elections were fundamentally “procedurally fair,” which is to say that the votes were cast and counted extremely fairly and judiciously, with every effort going in to ensuring that it was so. (The real problem was how the votes were “delivered,” with lots of shady electoral processes involving abuse of public authority as electoral resources…but that’s hardly all that different from what’s going on in other “democracies”–as I imagine you and I are both familiar.) This ensure that, even if kinda opaque and certainly corrupt, politics are both highly institutionalized, functional, and stable with rather little likelihood that things would go off skids like, say, what went on in Ukraine in 2010s or Georgia in the preceding decade (or, even United States in 2016)–by this, I mean the sudden rise of destabilizing forces with highly “romantic” (in 1848 sense) bent towards politics–which I think is a good thing for the people of Taiwan.

        There’s a (kinda rambling) follow up post that’s currently in the moderation limbo, where I wondered aloud whether Beijing will one day be satisfied accepting Taiwanese as a “fraternal people” with a “special relationship” in close cooperation with the mainland, rather than a wayward “Chinese tribe” that must be brought back into the fold–much the way Putin viewed Ukraine before things fell apart in 2010s and beyond (and if the Taiwanese are willing to accept the former–which I tend to think most are, barring some extraordinary changes.). That may be the best thing for people on both sides of the Straits.

  18. Pat

    Color me beyond amused, the commercial I just saw for CNN’s coverage of tomorrow’s Republican debate made it sound so important rather than an exercise in wankery. From the commercial you might have thought that DeSantis or Haley were going to be the nominee and this was going to be a deciding factor.

    I believe in primaries. And while I would never vote for any of the lesser Republicans running for the nomination, or Trump, more power to them for running and trying to give people an option. But I guess “these guys want your vote, see if they give you a reason to give it to them” just wasn’t considered good marketing for the debate.

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