2:00PM Water Cooler 2/21/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Golden-crowned Kingle, Forêt boréale de la Haute-Côte-Nord, Sept-Rivières, Quebec, Canada.

* * *


“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 (Eighth Amendment)

Engoron’s penalty seems so obviously excessive it could be grounds for appeal under the Eighth Amendment, but IANAL and no appeal has actually been filed. If in fact no Constitutional issues are involved, I’ll move this story to the Trump section under campaign 2024, with the rest of the lawfare stuff.

* * *

Trump quotes the Eighth Amendment:

Not seeing any lawyers jumping on the bandwagon (though see the Federalist Society’s Calabresi below).

“Dissolving Trump’s business empire would stand apart in history of NY fraud law” [Associated Press]. From January 29. ” An Associated Press analysis of nearly 70 years of civil cases under the law showed that such a penalty has only been imposed a dozen previous times, and Trump’s case stands apart in a significant way: It’s the only big business found that was threatened with a shutdown without a showing of obvious victims and major losses…. AP’s review of nearly 150 reported cases since New York’s ‘repeated fraud’ statute was passed in 1956 showed that nearly every previous time a company was taken away, victims and losses were key factors. Customers had lost money or bought defective products or never received services ordered, leaving them cheated and angry. What’s more, businesses were taken over almost always as a last resort to stop a fraud in progress and protect potential victims. They included a phony psychologist who sold dubious treatments, a fake lawyer who sold false claims he could get students into law school, and businessmen who marketed financial advice but instead swindled people out of their home deeds. In Trump’s case, his company stopped sending exaggerated financial figures about his net worth to Deutsche Bank and others at least two years ago, but a court-appointed monitor noted that was only after he was sued and that other financial documents continued to contain errors and misrepresentations.” • This article was written before the verdict; in fact, Trump’s businesses were not shut down, but put under the management of independent monitor Barbara Jones. That said, the absence of victims and losses is still anomalous.

“Donald Trump Faces Potential ‘Fire Sale’ of His Prized Business Assets” [Newsweek]. “Former President Donald Trump could face many of his properties being sold by the government at ‘fire sale prices’ if he refuses to pay the fine issued to him following his civil fraud trial in New York, a former White House counsel said. ‘Can he stiff them? No,’ John Dean, who served under Richard Nixon [nice!] during the Watergate scandal, told CNN on Saturday. ‘What’s going to happen is the attorney general will come in, they’ll seize the properties and they will liquidate them at fire sale prices—and that will take more buildings than he could probably negotiate.’ ‘This isn’t something that he can just sit on. Even if he appeals, the rate apparently goes on and on. So this is growing debt.'”

“Pay to Play: Trump Faces a Staggering Cost for Appeal” [Jonathan Turley]. “The expectation is that Trump can make the deposit or secure a bond to avoid what some gleefully called a “fire sale” on this properties. The deposit is now being celebrated as an added indignity and penalty. However, as New Yorkers cheer this moment, many business are likely wondering ‘but for the grace of God go I.’ Undervaluing or overvaluing property is a common practice, particularly in real estate. That is why representations, like the one made by the Trump Corporation, come with a warning that estimates are their own and that the banks need to make their assessments. Faced with high crime and high taxes, the spectacle in Manhattan is only likely to accelerate the exodus of businesses and high-earners from the city. That prospect has already alarmed Gov. Kathy Hochul who declared ‘business people have nothing to worry about, because they’re very different than Donald Trump and his behavior.’ That sounds a lot like ‘you are fine so long as you are not Trump.’ Yet, that is not reassuring to businesses who want a legal system that is based on something other than selective and arbitrary enforcement…. That is not the type of assurance that most businesses would accept in risking billions in investment. Despite the high taxes and falling services in New York, the city remained a draw for business as a commercial and legal center. The experience and objectivity of courts in dealing with business disputes was a selling point for companies. That has been shattered by the James campaign and the Engoron ruling. Telling business to just ‘don’t be like Trump’ is more menacing than consoling. Letitia James is now the face of New York corporate law — it is the ‘face that launched a thousand ships’ toward Florida.” • Maybe. We haven’t seen that, though. Anyhow, why Florida as opposed to Texas?[Trump

“Donald Trump Able to Post $400M Bond to Appeal Engoron Ruling: Alina Habba” [Newsweek]. “[Trump lawyer Alina] Habba went on to explain that the bond, which will have to be posted within 30 days after the verdict, will end up totaling close to $400 million. According to a report by NBC News, the appeal bond equals Trump’s $355 million verdict plus a 9 percent post-judgment interest, which would be collected by the state of New York in the case that Trump loses his appeal. ‘What they’re trying to do between this case between my last case is put [Trump] out of business,’ Habba continued. ‘It’s not gonna work, number one. Number two, what they’re doing is a scare tactic. Unfortunately, they picked the wrong guy to pick on, in my opinion, because he’s strong, he’s resilient and he happens to have a lot of cash.'”

“President Trump’s Kafkaesque Civil Trial in New York State” [Steven Calabresi, Reason]. Ugh, libertarians [let me take a moment to start running a bath]. That said, Calabresi’s got hold of the right end of the stick: “The bottom line is that a never before used New York State penalty has been twisted into a tool for a grossly excessive fine and more seriously the completely inappropriate appointment of Judge Jones as an ‘independent monitor’ who can micromanage the Trump business, which she is not competent to do, and to even order the dissolution of the Trump Business in New York State…. Ms. James and Judge Engeron have essentially turned a vaguely worded New York State law into a modern day Bill of Attainder targeted at Donald Trump both for political gain and because they despise his political views and desperately want to call his truthfulness into question as he runs for President of the United States inn 2024. In doing this, the have violated Trump’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and of the press; his Fifth Amendment right not to be deprived of liberty or property without due process of law; his Fifth Amendment right not to have property taken away from him except for a pubic use with just compensation being paid; his Eighth Amendment right not to be made to pay an excessive fine; his Article IV, Section 2 right as a citizen of Florida to do make and enforce contracts in New York on the same terms as are other New Yorkers; and his Fourteenth Amendment right to be free to pursue an occupation without unnecessary and burdensome regulation…. If the New York State appellate courts do not reverse this judgment, the U.S. Supreme Court MUST grant cert on this case and reverse Judge Engeron’s outrageous decisions.” So far as I know, that’s not an option so far. This, however, is a little over the top: “The civil fraud judgment against Donald Trump is a travesty and an unjust political act rivaled only in American politics by the killing of former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton by Vice President Aaron Burr.” • It is only of taking people’s money is the same as killing them [how’s that bath coming].


Less than a year to go!

* * *

Haley (R): Still in there punching:

* * *

Biden (D): “It’s time for the White House to put up or shut up” [Nate Silver, Silver Bulletin]. This from Silver is, in fact, well worth a read. “A lot of commentators that I respect have pointed out that Biden ought to do more public events that would help to allay public doubts about his mental sharpness. The problem is, one can infer the reason that Biden is not doing them — namely that the White House comms team is rational and has inferred that the cost of doing them outweighs the benefits because Biden is too likely to come across poorly…. Say that, in any given period of time — maybe over the course of a couple months — Biden has 20 opportunities to do what you might call Improvisational Public Appearances (IPAs). We can define these as events where Biden is not merely making pre-scripted remarks and instead faces sustained questioning from the media, voters or other public figures…. The White House has worked with Biden for a long time and they know his performance varies based on the setting, who he’s taking questions from, and his fatigue level. So what do they do? Well, they do their best to… [make] excuses for Biden to avoid these IPAs or never scheduling them in the first place….. The analogy is to an NBA player who’s aging and losing his shot. If he only takes wide-open jumpers, his shooting percentage may remain tolerable — but you can observe the decline in his skills from the lack of shooting volume… Biden’s doing a lot fewer interviews than even the media-hostile Trump. And when he does them, his performance is still just mediocre. That’s why something like turning down a Super Bowl interview ought to be highly concerning…. It’s also why the press conference from two weeks ago was worrying. This was an IPA that Biden basically couldn’t avoid. You can’t respond to your own Justice Department’s claim that your memory is failing by not saying anything at all. And yet when forced to make this appearance, Biden’s performance was poor.” And Silver’s ask: “Over the course of the next several weeks, Biden should do four lengthy sitdown interviews with … nonpartisan reporters with a track record of asking tough questions would work great. A complete recording of the interviews should be made public. The interviews ought to include a mix of different media (e.g. television and print) and journalistic perspectives…. This really isn’t too much to ask. These are the sorts of interviews that every other recent president has done…. If Biden was willing to take five hours to speak with Hur, he ought to to take five hours for this. And if he can’t, it’s awfully audacious to ask Americans to make him president for another four years.” • Yep.

Biden (D): “Biden’s reset moment” [Axios]. “Biden officials see next month’s State of the Union address as a big, public reset moment — a chance to overcome or at least neutralize concerns about President Biden’s age and vitality.” • The SOTU is hardly improvised. I think Silver’s IPA litmus test is a good one.

Biden (D): “Inside Kamala Harris’ quiet effort to break through the Biden campaign’s information bubble” [CNN]. “More than two dozen sources tell CNN that Harris has been gathering information to help her penetrate what she sometimes refers to as the “bubble” of Biden campaign thinking, telling people she’s aiming to use that intelligence to push for changes in strategy and tactics that she hopes will put the ticket in better shape to win. Multiple leading Democrats, anxious about a campaign they fear might be stumbling past a point of no return, say their conversations with Harris have been a surprising and welcome change, after months of feeling sloughed off by the White House and Biden campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. ‘The ‘bedwetting’ complaints are running thin with people,’ said a person who attended one of the meetings, describing the general state of anxiety circulating in top Democratic circles. ‘The West Wing and the campaign need to be better.’ Harris did a good job fielding those responses, the person added, ‘and deserves credit for it.’ Many of those people also say that the conversations have shifted their opinions of the vice president, seeing her now as a more integral and complementary part of the reelection effort.” • They are desperate.

Biden (D): “How Biden Can Win” [John Nichols, The Nation]. “At the risk of deflating Joe Biden’s ego, let’s be honest: The priority in 2024 is not his reelection. It is Donald Trump’s defeat. To forge a coalition that can beat Trump and the Trump-aligned congressional Republicans, Biden must present his bid for a second term as the essential vehicle for derailing a self-proclaimed dictator-in-waiting who is uniquely unfit to occupy the Oval Office…. The voters are ripe for this argument. The NBC survey found that 61 percent of voters have major concerns about Trump’s ‘alleged wrongdoing, including multiple felony charges related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.’ And a lot of them are Republicans or Republican-leaning independents…. The prospect that Biden could expand his reelection coalition based on a democracy and rule-of-law appeal offers the president an avenue to make the race about more than himself. Yes, of course he should talk about a robust economy. But the key play for the Democrats is to highlight the overwhelming evidence that Trump, with his criminal charges and ‘I am your retribution’ rhetoric, is entirely at odds with core values of the American experiment.” • Double down on “our democracy,” in other words. My difficulty with this is that after Bush nuked the Fourth Amendment, Democrats rationalized and institutionalized the destruction. And now their Censorship Industrial Complex is coming for the First. Anyhow, any Sanders supporter knows that the Democrat commitment to democracy is hooey at best highly conditional. I would bet younger voters watching Biden play arms merchant to the genocidaires would have a similar sense of Democrat chutzpah.

* * *

“Who Will Be the Next President?” (PDF) [Moody’s Analytics]. “The economy may not be at the top of voters’ minds in every election, but it is rarely less than a close

second. This is the principle underpinning the Moody’s Analytics presidential election model. The model predicts whether the incumbent presidential candidate will win the popular vote in each state and the District of Columbia, and thus the necessary Electoral College votes to win the election. This type of presidential election analysis is not new. The first was in the late 1970s by Yale economist Ray Fair. However, his seminal work was based on relating national economic conditions with presidential election outcomes. What sets apart our work from similar efforts is a focus on regional economic conditions that are the basis for state-by-state projections of the Electoral College. This state-level approach has an impressive, though no longer perfect, track record. It incorrectly predicted that former President Donald Trump would win re-election in 2020. He did not. The political fallout from the pandemic and extraordinary turnout by Democrat voters upended his re-election bid. Our model could not pick up the impact of the pandemic black swan, and while we controlled for turnout, we had assumed turnout would be historically typical. Given the results of recent party primaries, the most likely scenario is that this election will be a rematch between current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. While the election will almost certainly be a nail-biter, we feel confident in the model’s 2024 prediction for who will be the next president. That is, President Biden will win re-election.” • Hmm.

* * *

Kennedy (I): “Kennedy: ‘If President Biden Wants To Run’ He Must Have ‘Unscripted” Debate With Me And Trump'” [RealClearPolitics]. Kennedy: ” We need a president who is on the ball, somebody we all trust to answer that phone call at three in the morning and to handle these complexities and the nuance of the crises that face our country at a very critical point in his story. I think he needs to show people he can do that, and the best way to do that is an open debate.” • Kennedy asking for one of Silver’s IPAs.

Kennedy (I): “RFK Jr. is courting Black voters, a group he once targeted with vaccine disinformation” [NBC News]. “In 2021, [Kennedy] produced a film called ‘Medical Racism: The New Apartheid‘ which used the real history of medical racism in the United States to peddle conspiracy theories that Covid vaccines were an effort to harm Black communities. The documentary-style film features Kennedy, as well as Tony Muhammad, a minister of the Nation of Islam who has claimed that vaccines are ‘genetically modified’ to harm Black children. Kevin Jenkins, CEO of the Urban Global Health Alliance, a New Jersey nonprofit group, who claimed that vaccine campaigns were a plot to ‘wipe out’ Black people, is also in the film. The film was released in the spring of 2021, just as Covid vaccines were becoming commonly available in the U.S. The pandemic took a staggering toll on human life, disproportionately impacting Black communities. Asked by NBC News on Sunday if he regretted spreading vaccine skepticism to the African American community while the Covid shots were first being rolled out, after the issue did not come up at his campaign event, Kennedy responded ‘No.’ Once a vocal anti-vaccine activist, Kennedy has been more subdued on the topic during his 2024 campaign. Pressed if he believes that vaccinating children leads to autism, Kennedy responded tersely, ‘What I believe is irrelevant.'” • Hmm.

* * *

Republican Funhouse

“Many believe the founders wanted a Christian America. Some want the government to declare one now” [Associated Press]. “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t mention Christianity or any specific religion. The Declaration of Independence famously proclaims that people’s rights come from a “Creator” and “Nature’s God” — but doesn’t specify who that is. Yet large numbers of Americans believe the founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation, and many believe it should be one. Such views are especially strong among Republicans and their white evangelical base. Already such views are being voiced by supporters of Donald Trump amid his bid to recapture the presidency. The idea of a Christian America means different things to different people. Pollsters have found a wide circle of Americans who hold general God-and-country sentiments. But within that is a smaller, hardcore group who also check other boxes in surveys — such as that the U.S. Constitution was inspired by God and that the federal government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation, advocate Christian values or stop enforcing the separation of church and state.” • A pile of garbage persistently built over many decades. Plenty of players under Bush the Younger believed these pernicious falsehoods, but there weren’t enough of them to run a competent administration (for all Harvard’s flaws, it really does have a better law school than Liberty University, and not just because of social (networking) and symbolic (credentials) capital. Perhaps, though, things have changed.

“The Founders’ antidote to demagoguery is a lesson for today” [

Democrats en Déshabillé

“The Breakup” [Matthew Karp, The Nation]. More on Teixeira’s idpol apostasy. “Do political parties make coalitions, or do coalitions make political parties? In American electoral commentary, the commonsense view is that parties stand for certain principles or policies—on gun control, say, or taxes, or abortion—and then ordinary voters line up with the party that is closest to their own beliefs. But for Karl Marx and his acolytes, this view of parties was nonsense. Political parties were defined not by their stated platforms but by the character of their social base.” Madison, who wrote the Federalist Papers before the advent of parties, believed this of factions. ‘This fact did not need to be reduced to mere ‘egoistic class interest,’ Marx contended in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte; nor did it require a rigid view of social class itself. The party representing the petty bourgeoisie in 19th-century France, for example, was not composed only of ‘shopkeepers or the enthusiastic champions of shopkeepers.’ Its members came from a hundred different places and had a thousand different ideas; they also sincerely believed in the general emancipation of society. Nevertheless, their politics were driven, like water flowing downhill, ‘to the same problems and solutions’ that ‘the material interest and social position’ of their class suggested….. its broadest historical sense, the Marxist view is difficult to refute. In political warfare, our attention is drawn to the loud artillery blasts of candidates and campaigns, but a party’s ultimate impact generally depends on the much larger, slower infantry movements of its social base.” Concluding: “The Democratic coalition today is built to fight, and perhaps to win, [the culture war] struggle. It is not built to become a ‘party of the people,’ a vehicle to oppose elite rule, or a force for major economic reform. Insofar as the upper-middle-class Democratic base finds itself pinched or bruised by the reckless march of capital, it may consider mild adjustments to the fiscal or regulatory order; insofar as it wishes to reward the less-advantaged voters inside the coalition, it may support mild increases in welfare spending. But a party that wins 60 percent support from the wealthiest 10 percent of the country and 75 percent support from top earners in business and finance and that claims enthusiastic allegiance from much of the billionaire class will not organize a new New Deal. Its ‘material interest and social position’ simply does not favor a transformation of class power in the United States—or, to say the same thing in different words, a government that can deliver good jobs, healthcare, housing, and education to all its people. To change the world, the Democrats will first have to change themselves.” • Which will never, ever happen. So here we are! (One comment: Karp consistently identifies identity politics/culture war policies as “left” positions. They’re not. There is only one left position: Putting capital under democratic control. There, I said it :-)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Lab-Grown Testicles Created In Male Fertility Breakthrough” [Study Finds]. • Make up your own jokes!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Look for the Helpers

“A literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel Coronavirus.” [LitCovid, National Institutes of Health]. “LitCovid is the most comprehensive resource on the subject, providing a central access to 400,114 (and growing ) relevant articles in PubMed. The articles are updated daily and are further categorized by different research topics (e.g. transmission) and geographic locations.” • This is good, but the subject list reflects their ontological commitments (i.e., what’s real or not real):

Notice anything missing? That’s right: Non-pharmaceutical interventions (masking, ventilation). These guys are supposed to be the National Institutes of Health, not the National lnstitutes of Things Hospitals and Big Pharma Believe Are Important Because Reasons.


“Supreme Court turns away House GOP lawmakers’ appeal over mask rule violations” [The Hill]. “The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to revive a lawsuit from three House Republicans after their pay was docked for not complying with a pandemic-era mask requirement on the chamber floor. In a brief order without any noted dissents, the court let stand a lower ruling that tossed the constitutional challenge filed by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). The three conservative lawmakers were fined $500 in May 2021 after flouting the House floor mask mandate that was put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, kicking off a years-long attempt by the trio of lawmakers to get the penalties lifted…. The lawmakers were protesting the House floor mask mandate, highlighting the fact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recently said individuals who are fully vaccinated did not need to wear masks in most public settings.” • CDC, good job. After all, aysymptomatic tranmission is not a thing (nor presymptomatic).


“Mom, 33, almost dies of heart failure due to COVID after dismissing these signs: ‘Really confused'” [Today]. • NC readers have long known of that Covid creates vascular damage. But now it’s on The Today Show (a “mom,” of course).

* * *

That charlatan Campbell’s white, fibrous clots:

White, fibrous clots (2):

* * *

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot February 19: Regional[2] Biobot February 19:
Variants[3] CDC February 17 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC February 17
New York[5] New York State, data February 16: National [6] CDC February 10:
National[7] Walgreens February 19: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic February 17:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC January 29: Variants[10] CDC January 29:
Weekly deaths New York Times February 10: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times February 10:


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

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


[1] (Biobot) Again, no backward revisions. The uptick is real (at least to Biobot). Note this anomaly:

Looks like Covid might not be seasonal? Who knew? Hoerger comments:

[2] (Biobot) Here, FWIW, is Verily regional data as of February 20. CDC Region 1:

And Region 2:

Verily data, then, shows no anomaly. Presumably, Biobot sewersheds and Verily sewersheds do not overlap.

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

[4] (ER) Does not support Biobot data. “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.”

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) A little more decrease, consistent with Biobot data, but not much. Let’s wait and see.

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC) Still down. “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”.

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

[8] (Cleveland) Flattening, consistent with Biobot data.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Down, albeit in the rear view mirror.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) JN.1 utterly dominant.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Supply Chain: “Construction of a new electric-vehicle supply chain is stalling on faltering consumer sales and tumbling prices for the sector’s bedrock minerals” [Paul Page, Wall Street Journal]. Lithium giant Albemarle is deferring spending on a high-profile project to build a processing plant and Swiss mining and trading giant Glencore suspended work on a nickel mine and processing plant and is now seeking a buyer for a stake in the project. The WSJ’s Rhiannon Hoyle and Julie Steinberg report that producers of nickel and lithium, which are used in lithium-ion batteries for EVs, have been pulling back and looking to save cash after a painfully quick fall in commodity prices. The world is suddenly awash with the metals after producers ramped up projects to feed the global EV industry and sales of the vehicles have been losing momentum. Some policymakers fear the curtailed plans will derail recent efforts to diversify critical supply chains away from China.”

The Bezzle: “Google reneged on the monopolistic bargain” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “A funny thing happened on the way to the enshittocene: Google – which astonished the world when it reinvented search, blowing Altavista and Yahoo out of the water with a search tool that seemed magic – suddenly turned into a pile of shit. Google’s search results are terrible. The top of the page is dominated by spam, scams, and ads. A surprising number of those ads are scams. Sometimes, these are high-stakes scams played out by well-resourced adversaries who stand to make a fortune by tricking Google. But often these scams are perpetrated by petty grifters who are making a couple bucks at this. These aren’t hyper-resourced, sophisticated attackers. They’re the SEO equivalent of script kiddies, and they’re running circles around Google…. The deal we made with Google was, “You monopolize search and use your monopoly rents to ensure that we never, ever try another search engine. In return, you will somehow distinguish between low-effort, useless nonsense and good information. You promised us that if you got to be the unelected, permanent overlord of all information access, you would ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.'” They broke the deal.” • This is a must-read. Doctorow does a deepish dive into the enshittification of product reviews, including air purifiers [see next link]. Not great during an airborne pandemic!

The Bezzle: “How Google is killing independent sites like ours” [HouseFresh]. • A must-read, that clearly demonstrates how both Better Homes and Gardens and Real simple faked product reviews of air purifiers. Fake labs, fake photos, fake experts, fake everything, doing great in SEO and infesting everything, including Reddit threads. Hat tip, private equity.

The Bezzle: “Inside the Funding Frenzy at Anthropic, One of A.I.’s Hottest Start-Up” [New York Times]. “For all of A.I.’s promise of transforming every aspect of society, it has started by upending Silicon Valley’s start-up deal-making. Young companies typically raise money every 15 months or so, after showing that their businesses have grown. But since generative A.I. — which can generate text, images, sounds and video — burst onto the scene in late 2022, the rule book has been thrown out as investors have fought for a piece of the hottest developers…. Investors cannot afford to lose out on the action because “if you miss the winner in the space, you’re kind of out of the game,” said Ilya Strebulaev, a finance professor at Stanford…. Some investments in A.I. start-ups by the tech giants have recently attracted regulatory attention. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission said it had opened an inquiry into Amazon’s and Google’s investments in Anthropic for potential antitrust violations.” But: “As part of the pact, Anthropic agreed to build its A.I. using specialized computer chips designed by Amazon. If Anthropic is a success, Amazon’s shares in the start-up could pay off handsomely. In the meantime, the cloud computing deal will lift Amazon’s bottom line. The deal was structured as convertible notes, or debt that becomes equity when Anthropic hits certain milestones, two people familiar with the structure said. Some investors have questioned such deals because companies like Google and Amazon are investing money that ends up bolstering their own revenues. The companies said the arrangements were kosher.” • No doubt. I don’t play the ponies, so all this is a little beyond me. Do any readers remember whether similar deals were made during the Dot Com era?

The Bezzle: “Air Canada Has to Honor a Refund Policy Its Chatbot Made Up” [Wired]. • I smell business model. People really need to start designing prompts that yield corporate refunds. Or, better, have AI do it.

Labor Market: “Google Lays Off Thousands More Employees Despite Record Profits One Year After Laying off 12,000 Employees As Workers Begin Worrying AI is Slowly Replacing Them” [Yahoo News]. “The layoffs have sparked widespread concern among Google employees, not just about job security but also about the ethical implications of their work, especially as the company continues to invest heavily in advancing AI technology. There’s a growing apprehension that the push towards automation and AI could eventually lead to further job replacements, adding to the existing anxiety over layoffs​​… [Google’s senior vice president, Philipp Schindler] said, ‘I want to be clear, when we restructure, there’s always an opportunity to be more efficient and smarter in how we service and grow our customers.’ He went on to say, ‘We’re not restructuring because AI is taking away roles that’s important here. But we see significant opportunities here with our AI-powered solution to actually deliver incredible ROI at scale, and that’s why we’re doing some of those adjustments.'” • I would expect ginormous theft of intellectual property followed by bullshit generation to have equally ginormous ROI. Who wouldn’t?

Labor Market: “A long-running labor battle over the first big new container terminal in the U.S. in several years reached the legal end of the road” [Paul Page, Wall Street Journal]. “The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear a case brought by South Carolina’s ports authority in a dispute with the dockworkers’ union over staffing at the new Leatherman Terminal. The WSJ Logistics Report’s Paul Berger writes the rejection lets stand a lower-court ruling that effectively pushes the Port of Charleston to use an all-union labor force at the site. The South Carolina Ports Authority says it will now work with the International Longshoremen’s Association to resolve the standoff that has hamstrung operations at the facility. Leatherman is a linchpin for efforts to expand handling capacity at the East Coast’s No. 4 port. The decision gives the ILA a victory as the union prepares to negotiate a new contract this year with East and Gulf coast ports.” • A union win from the Trump Court? Mirabile dictu!

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 69 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 21 at 1:16:17 PM ET.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Rise in measles cases at Broward elementary school could just be the beginning, doctor says” [CBS]. “‘Measles is spread just like an upper respiratory infection. So, it’s the droplets,’ [Dr. Pallavi Aneja, the program director of Internal Medicine Residency at HCA FL Northwest and Westside Hospitals] said. “If a child is sick — just getting sick with a runny nose, with conjunctivitis, which is red eyes, low-grade fever — that could be just beginning stages of measles.'” • Maybe the real pandemic was the droplet dogmatists we met along the way. Meanwhile, in Florida:

Class Warfare

Good to see People’s CDC on CBS:

Labor is the source of all value. That’s why firms have to force you back to work.

News of the Wired

“Stop postponing things by embracing the mess” [Deprocrastination]. “You have only what you have right now. If you feel okay-ish, and you have 30 minutes of largely uninterrupted time, now’s the time to do something. Expect things to not go 100% according to plan. Wake up late? Reset Meeting canceled? Reset. Morning routine interrupted? Reset. If you know that these imperfections are extremely likely, you can react with more presence of mind and make the best of the situation. For example, I write this on the train, late to my dentist appointment because it snowed overnight. Hardly an ideal situation, and yet I write. I could easily justify to myself that I should do nothing and fret over how bad this situation is (and I indeed did for about 10 minutes), but I still have 30 minutes of the train ride and so why not do a bit of work? If I hadn’t written anything on that train, I wouldn’t have had a place to continue. I wouldn’t have anything to edit, to improve, and to share. Because of my attitude to make the best out of the situation, however messy it was, I was somewhat productive, and felt better about how I spent my time as a result.”

* * *

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, lichen, 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 SC:

SC writes: “Here is a very plain-appearing plant-start project photo that is a bit unusual because of the
species – Camellia sinensis, aka ‘Tea.’ I have included some verbiage that may interest readers who like to propagate perennials.” I am so happy to see another project from SC. Here is the “verbiage”:

For a number of years I’ve been trying to establish a cold-hardy variety of Camellia sinensis, aka “Tea”, in my yard from purchased year-old plants, but I have tended to bungle the first Winter and the plants have died within a year or so. This Winter, I’m trying to start the things from seed in hope of getting plants into the ground months earlier than I have in prior years. The plants seller, “Camellia Forest Nursery”, sells seeds as well as plants and this year the cold hardy variety, “Korea”, that I have been trying to establish was available as seed, at a price that was very favorable compared with plants. If these plants don’t survive, I’ll drop the idea, or just keep a few in containers as indoor plants. The attached photo shows three trays of starts from these seeds, started 5 to 6 weeks earlier than the year-end date of the photo. The five largest plants in the right-most tray had a “head start” in that they already had emergent radicles when I opened the seed packet (my bad for not opening the package right away). The 3rd tray at left has a couple of small shoots poking up (at this writing, 5 days later, most pots in that tray have emergent seedlings). The germination rate thus far is above 50%. Tea is a bit of work to process after the harvest of new growth; one can’t simply clip off a few leaves at any time of the year and steep them. If these survive, they may end up simply functioning as a low hedge. I like the idea of “edible/drinkable landscaping” but unless the global tea trade collapses, these may end up simply as decorations.

Readers, do any of you have your “starts” going?

* * *

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

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

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

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

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. NotTimothyGeithner

    “Biden officials see next month’s State of the Union address

    With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, “oh no, the President is on tv. Oh, right, I can watch Spring Training games.”

    1. Rip Van Winkle

      Who was the hall of fame baseball player named after a president then portrayed in a movie by a future president?

  2. bassmule

    re: “Dissolving Trump’s business empire would stand apart in history of NY fraud law”

    “An Associated Press analysis of nearly 70 years of civil cases under the law showed that such a penalty has only been imposed a dozen previous times, and Trump’s case stands apart in a significant way:”

    Let me propose that wealth is a factor? He’s a billionaire. Does proportionality apply here? Billionaires are not like you and me. For them, $100 million is cash found behind the sofa. And with the exception of Trump, who seems to enjoy stiffing his lawyers, Billionaires can buy (call it what it is) judges, all the way up to Clarence. Just sayin’

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Let me propose that wealth is a factor?

      So far as I know, “progressive” fines (like a progressive income tax), where the richer you are, the more you pay, aren’t on offer.

  3. Wukchumni

    Biden (D): “Inside Kamala Harris’ quiet effort to break through the Biden campaign’s information bubble”

    You know the mind destroyed his might
    Might divided his way
    Tried to run
    Tried to hide
    Break on through to the other side
    Break on through to the other side
    Break on through to the other side, yeah

    She gave out pressers here
    Dug our unintentional humor treasures there
    But can you still recall
    The time she tried to
    Break on through to the other side
    Break on through to the other side

    C’mon, yeah

    Everybody loves my baby
    Everybody loves my baby
    She get high on her own supply
    She get high
    She get high
    She get high, yeah

    I found a Jamaican island in your past
    Canada, where you went to school
    Claims that mystify us
    Eyes that lie
    Break on through to the other side
    Break on through to the other side
    Break on through, ow
    Oh, yeah

    Joe made the scene
    Week to week
    Day to day
    Hour to hour
    Her gate is straight
    Deep and wide
    Break on through to the other side
    Break on through to the other side
    Break on through
    Break on through
    Break on through
    Break on through
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

    Break On Through (to the other side), by the Doors


    1. Rip Van Winkle

      Better than the drug-addled Dr. Seuss manner she normally speaks. I’m sure there is a diner on the west side of Chicago that will serve green eggs and ham in August.

  4. Carolinian

    So RFKjr’s pitch is the same as Haley (I’m young) with the added fillip of “vote for a Kennedy” that has more cachet than vote for a Haley.

    I pick neither.

    Nikki says she’s not quitting because David didn’t quit against Goliath. Or something. Those Kochs not to mention Noonan have a lot to answer for. As we Southerners say that girl has a swelled head.

    1. Lee

      Pardon my nitpicking but David was armed with a projectile weapon and Goliath was not. Big G didn’t stand a chance.

  5. t

    I wish I had 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. Embrace the mess? Are there this many people who don’t reschedule their entire day, several times a day?

    1. Trees&Trunks

      Artificial intelligence is artificial. It is not for real.
      Also, since ChatGTP steals text from everywhere just to shit out the average of this mass of text, what is there to be surprised about.

      Forget ChatGTP visit the original https://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/ where you at least can a great laugh and human and academic stupidity.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>I would expect ginormous theft of intellectual property followed by bullshit generation to have equally ginormous ROI. Who wouldn’t?

        Does not the theft of intellectual property supposed to result in ginormous fines, fees, legal awards, maybe even prison time, why are these leeches not being sued to death at the least? Individuals singing in public for money can be found and sued if they use copyrighted songs, but writing can be stolen by the ton for free? WTF is that?

        No laws for the rich, but laws for the poor, which most writers, songwriters, playwrights, actors, and other artists very often are; pillage the poor and weak because we can; just tear it all down because “capitalism,” moving fast and destroying stuff, is so dang profitable, and therefore legitimate? Nice way to destroy a civilization, never you mind a single country.

        Anyways, the The Honest Broker, Ted Gioia, has an article on how he and other experts are having books being sold and attributed to them using AI scrapping of their own writings. Should I assume that any book made after 2022 is likely fraudulent? One always has to assume the possibility of being sold an illegal and/or bad quality book, but usually it is easy to check especially as many of my books are decades old in print.

        So, fortunately for me, most of my books are old ones on topics like history and the known fiction of my favorite writers. However, what about new writers trying to establish themselves or bloggers/substack writers?

        Again, how will I know and trust any new book?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Does not the theft of intellectual property supposed to result in ginormous fines, fees, legal awards, maybe even prison time, why are these leeches not being sued to death at the least?

          “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” especially when the squillionaires have invested billions in your firm.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      The “hallucinations” of AI were covered pretty well in the latest Chapo Trap House podcast. AI basically can parse metadata and regurgitate a result based on trying to combine what it finds. But it doesn’t actually “know” anything. The example they used was to ask for a picture of a monkey. It doesn’t know what that is. It can not create an image of a monkey from scratch. It can find information tagged as “monkey” and essentially average up the data and return a result. But it has no way to recognize that the creature it spit out with two heads, three tails and an extra leg looks weird.

      The hallucinations were always baked in. It’s not that in time things will improve, but in time, they will mutate further. That people seem surprised by this is a bit like a magician getting fooled by his own trick.

  6. Mark Gisleson

    Looking into my crystal ball: On the day of the SOTU speech Biden has a medical crisis, 25th Amendment is invoked and President-tempore(?) Harris delivers “Biden’s last speech” demanding immediate support for Israel and Ukraine.

    It buys time but because it’s temp POTUS Harris, new crises quickly emerge but it’s OK because look who’s back : ) !!! POTUS Sr returns from his accidental overdose and retakes the reins but under the close scrutiny of his medical team. No solid food, Dr Jill has to prechew his ice cream for him. Travel and interviews are forbidden.

    Biden gives his acceptance speech to the DNC convention from the White House living quarters wearing a British SAS style sweater and a skull cap (we’ve turned the thermostat down to save energy so we can send it to Kiev) but it’s hard not to notice that he doesn’t seem to have any hair. His skin tone looks good in a makeuppy way. A live broadcast but with a very edited feel.

    On November 6, expiring President Biden’s medical team declares a medical emergency and states that their patient cannot be moved due to a medical incident while in the Oval Office. Equipment has been brought in and the President’s life is being sustained but under no circumstances can he be moved. He remains in the Oval Office until December 2027 when President Trump has him removed following a Washington Post story showing leaked documentation that former President Biden had actually died in early 2026 and that his medical team spent most of their time on their phones or playing cards.

    This would be my best case scenario for the Democrats assuming there will be an election.

    1. notabanker

      The best drugs pharma can conjure up should keep him going on the teleprompter for a two hour span. Probably. I think we’ll find out.

      1. nippersdad

        RFK provisionally agreed to one with Blumenthal, but after talking to the Reverend Schmuley he promptly tucked his tail and ran away. That was a teachable moment in itself.

  7. Mo

    I can’t believe I used to love reading The Nation and had respect for John Nichols. Now he’s saying the reason I should support Genocide Joe is because Trump advertises himself as my retribution?? But I LOVE that line I think it’s genius.

    Meanwhile Biden is lunching at the Getty palace in SF right now. Should be interesting talk as Newsom is usually in attendance.

  8. Tom Stone

    I’ve been thinking about some of the indications that our timeline is becoming stupider, here are three off the top of my head.
    1) the Trump centered “Lawfare”, if I were Bezos, Ellison, Brin or one of the other Oligarchs this would make me very uneasy indeed.
    If it can be done to Trump, it can be done to them.
    The Fricking “Rule of Law” never applied to the underclass and although it did, out of a regrettable necessity apply to the middle classes it was primarily in place to protect the truly wealthy.
    2) Sending the funding units back to school in California after a one day “Isolation Period” thus massively increasing the number of infected children in a short period of time.
    With Covid, FFS.
    That won’t take long to blow up.
    3) Israel invading Lebanon while continuing the mass slaughter of Palestinians, assuming that the US Military will come to their assistance and further assuming said intervention will lead to a VICTORY!!!
    The “Samson Option”…

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Bingo. Trump broke kayfabe, even if he had no intention of acting on the things he said. The other oligarchs are team players.

    1. nippersdad

      Re: #3. It never seems to occur to neocons that the only war they have ever won was against Grenada’s university campus. To any normal person who ever thought about that it would be humiliating, but they never seem to take such views into account before they embark on new adventures.

      Maybe when they lose in Lebanon the penny will finally drop that they aren’t very good at this.

  9. steppenwolf fetchit

    Well, I have a sad discovery to report. . . .

    It seems that the Yahoo image aggregator I sometimes recommended in the past as a good way to find things by url diving from images has been enshitified out of existence. Unless someone else can recommend a way to get to the ” image finder-aggregator functionality” on Verizon’s Yahoo-all-the-web, it has indeed been abolished by Verizon. I assumed that as soon as Verizon realized they had such a functionality while cleaning out the attic, they would destroy it as soon as they realized they had it. And they have destroyed it.

    Oh well . . . it was nice while it lasted.

    1. steppenwolf fetchit

      ( Meanwhile, the google image aggregator still exists, so crappy is it is compared to what yahoo was, I guess I will be using google’s image aggregator now, because Verizon has abolished Yahoo’s image aggregator altogether.)

  10. Otto Reply

    “Make up your own jokes!”
    So, somebody grew a pair. Have White House press corps stenographers been informed?

        1. Eclair

          Tch! It’s gotta be the classic, ‘Three testicles walk into a bar. The first testicle …..

          Prize (to be determined) for the commenter submitting the most hilarious ending.

    1. Otto Reply

      A cryptorchid walks into a bar and asks for an Ubermensch. Sorry, mine Fuhrer, replies the bartender, we only have Lyftwaffe. Scheisse, says the Schicklgruber, guess I’ll just have to grow my own.

  11. Wukchumni

    Stock EVacuation

    Analysts’ average estimate for Rivian’s revenue for this year has fallen 43% over a 12-month period, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The average price target for the stock has dropped more than 35% over the same time.

    The trouble is that Rivian, as well as other smaller EV-makers such as Lucid Group Inc., face broader industry weakness at a time when they are least equipped to handle it. These companies need to scale up production in order to start making profits, which in turn requires spending cash. But with even Tesla cutting vehicle prices to shore up sales, there are going to be few takers for expensive cars made by Rivian and Lucid. (Bloomberg)

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      And buyers are (or certainly should be) spooked by the idea of committing to a multi-year car loan for a vehicle whose maker may be bankrupt before the end of the loan term.

  12. steppenwolf fetchit

    By the way, so far it still looks like Haley will keep running right through the last primary, the convention itself, and the bitter end.

    If she does that, then my “prediction-stock” value will go somewhat up, based upon my having predicted that some time ago. If she doesn’t, then it won’t.

    Some time ago Beau of the Fifth Column gave a video-talk about why he thought Haley will stay in to the bitter end. It made sense to me.

    1. NYT_Memes

      Nikki Haley: I wrote myself an email to keep, thinking maybe anyone on distribution would think I am nuts. I feel that we are open to freewheeling of ideas here, so here it is:

      2024 Election Performance, and it will be a well choreographed performance.

      Just food for thought. No more. Based on random observations from today,
      but of course lots of “coincidences” and circumstances preceding today.
      So much “news” today seems unusually well choreographed; it’s unreal.

      Haley keeps running. Trump prosecution succeeds, putting him in jail.
      Haley (the oligarchs preferred candidate) gets nominated and beats Biden.

      Landslide due to Biden’s campaign performance. Meet your real dictator.

      We shall see.

  13. TomDority

    A good president is one who happens to be on the job when you are having a run of good luck. — published in Tax Facts published in the interest of Sound Economics and American Ideals – some time in the 1920’s……
    The first was in the late 1970s by Yale economist Ray Fair. However, his seminal work was based on relating national economic conditions with presidential election outcomes.
    How things…. change?

  14. flora

    Trump vs the NY Dems: going from the Empire State to the Shakedown State. The very thing northern Dems used to accuse the old Southern states of practicing back in the day. Nice. / my 2 cents

    1. The Rev Kev

      If Trump does become President, you have to wonder how he will pay back New York for their efforts in trying to bankrupt him while he was running for president. He is not exactly a forgive and forget sort of guy.

      1. Wukchumni

        This is where the fortunate 11 month lag before inauguration comes in real handy, and it might be wise not to counter Lil’ Anthony Fremont’s absurd claims about attendance this time around, capisce?

      2. flora

        Ya know, I kinda reject this whole idea that T sees politics as revenge. I could be wrong. It’s pretty clear the Dem estab fears it (see the Clinton’s untimely deaths of political associates) ,and T’s desire for revenge, they say, and maybe the Dems believe in it out of projection or something. When Teddy Roosevelt was police commissioner in NYC before he ran for pres the police dept was not his best buds because he was trying to clean up corruption in the NYC police dept. I don’t know why I write this. Maybe cleaning up corruption is not the same identical thing as ‘revenge’. Who knows.

  15. Feral Finster

    “We Gotta Save Muh Democracy!” Of course, democrats have no interest in democracy, at least to the extent that they don’t win. Witness how quick they are to drop the First Amendment like a hot turd.

    Their only concern is in getting enough of the swing state voting public to believe otherwise.

  16. Feral Finster

    White, fibrous clots (2):

    Is that an image of boiled spiral pasta or am I not getting the joke?

    FWIW, google image search tells me that it is, in fact, pasta.

        1. lambert strether

          No. As I said, Campbell is a charlatan. The first image (from Greenhalgh, very sound on airborne) is of a string of sausages; the second (Oleson, epidemiology) is macaroni.

          So know you have some tools to satirize this nonsense when you encounter it; it’s already started to infest my feed.

          NOTE Adding, there are real vascular effects from Covid, no question. But these “white fibrous clots,” putatively encountered by embalmers, and now going viral, are not real.

  17. Carolinian

    Re Trump and evangelicals and the Associated Press–so the premise of the article is that Donald Trump–onetime denizen of Studio 54 and Plato’s Retreat–is running to turn the US into a Christian nation with all those other religions and atheists shipped off to some gulag? What is the premise? True, giving support to Israel is an evangelical goal but then the Catholic Biden is even more extreme on that score than Trump.

    This religious people are scary meme doesn’t seem too evident here in my corner of the Bible Belt where Baptist church attendance is sagging and gay rights parades are tolerated if not celebrated. There was a time when American culture was far more under the thumb of religion than it is now. So going back to the Founders is skipping a lot of in between. If it’s all about abortion and trans then those issues can be controversial even among the non religious. IMO the “Christian threat” straw man doesn’t stand up.

    1. nippersdad

      Alternatively, now that Alabama has determined that embryos are people there could be efforts made to provide for their political needs as well. Perhaps some Evangelical organization could adopt them all, and upon gaining their majority be assigned embryo whisperers, Santorum or Frist types with conservatorships, to vote on their behalf.

      Et voila! Declining attendance numbers would no longer a problem for Christianists when they have freezers full of voters. All they will have to do is continue paying the electric bill.

        1. nippersdad

          Dems need to get Woke on it now lest they end up with an embryo bloc gap! Texiera needs to get on that for a potentially emergent Democratic majority, stat.

      1. Carolinian

        I can’t vouch for Alabama which–going by what little travel I’ve done there–makes SC seem relatively cosmopolitan. On the other hand over at A. Conservative they call Biden a cafe Catholic because he defies Rome on abortion.

        Meanwhile has Trump ever even darkened a church door? Aren’t the fearful secularists confusing him with Pence?

        1. nippersdad

          SC is pretty cosmopolitan by the standards of this part of the Bible Belt. I’m just a few miles from the Alabama border, and have had plenty of conversations about “when life starts” for years now. Vats of frozen blastocysts are considered fair game, but what to do with them will become an increasingly important political issue. They haven’t heard the last of this by a long shot, because if there are lots of Evangelicals there are even more fiscal libertarians guarding their wallets.

          But as long as a demagogue like Trump tells them what they want to hear they are going to be on board until the ship sinks. Similarly, as long as Trump can find an audience to pander to he will continue to pander to them. They have the perfect mutualistic relationship that such as Pence could never hope to cobble together because Pence’s base is far too small to do anything with. What we may find, though, is that Project 2025 will be in direct conflict with the Christianists, and I suspect that the Kochtopus is not the one that will lose.

          1. marym

            Project 2025:
            Heritage Foundation’s on board with AL on this.

            Additional news today:
            “The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system has paused in vitro fertilization procedures following an Alabama Supreme Court decision due to fear of criminal prosecution and lawsuits, a spokeswoman said…The decision came less than a week after the Alabama Supreme Court released its ruling.”

            1. nippersdad

              “Project 2025:
              Heritage Foundation’s on board with AL on this.”

              Are you buying it or do you think it is an electoral stunt? This whole thing is strongly reminiscent of that time that Alabama outlawed illegal immigrants and all the crops rotted in the fields. They and the other states, like Georgia, that adopted it couldn’t run away fast enough, until the next immigration heavy election. The big money always ultimately wins out.

                1. nippersdad

                  You didn’t answer the question about whether or not the Kochtopus is being honest about its’ support for life at conception or it being an electoral stunt. My reading of your articles tends to make me believe it is a stunt in furtherance of their usual stance of deregulation and states rights.

                  Article #1 appears to be against IVF: “IVF, as it’s practiced today, is not pro-life. The practices and methods commonly used violate the integrity of pre-born children.”

                  Article #2 is basically a paen to deregulation and the ability of the states to end-run the federal government on things like Medicare and Medicaid.

                  IOW, in my reading of them, Trump and his Evangelicals are being used as a vehicle for more of the same we have become used to from them. Cynical, but effective.

                  1. marym

                    I thought I was answering the question of whether Koch Heritage funding and promotion of policies favored by the religious right was a stunt for this election cycle. Sorry if I misunderstood.

                    Having achieved abortion de-legalization, and even criminalization, the secular conservative and/or libertarian right may be shifting their emphasis to other aspects of “deregulation” (government control) of reproductive rights, but I agree that it’s “more of the same” of using religion as a tool to support their pursuit of secular power.

                    The effect – whether by using Trump this time around, or the long term manipulation of the religious right – is being codified in state legislation and court rulings. It’s not just a matter of whether or not the secular power seekers continue to find it useful to campaign on reproductive issues.

                    1. nippersdad

                      Thank you. It looked like that to me, but one does not want to assume anything.

                      I see today that people like Kemp are coming out and saying that they don’t know enough about the issue to comment on it, and Haley has back tracked to say that the parents should have the ultimate rights in the matter. Those hospitals ending the program is already having an effect.

                      I foresee that ruling, as with the immigrant laws a few years ago, will soon be repealed. The big money always wins. But, the evangelicals got acknowledged, and that is what will matter to them.

          2. Carolinian

            I think Trump cares about evangelicals for just as long as it takes him to get re-elected and after that he’ll never be running for anything again and won’t need them. It’s true he gave us the end of Roe, but back then he needed all the allies he could get given the fanatical and unhinged opposition of a Hillary scorned and her posse.

            In fact I don’t think Trump is much of a conservative at all and he was a Democrat for awhile in NYC when it served his purposes. What he is is umbrageous–to use a fancy word for it–and so every fanatical action by the Dems produces an opposite reaction from Trump. Trump just wants to be admired and he’ll take it wherever it can find it. He was even tricked into hiring the goofy Haley as UN ambassador. She must have sucked up to him (not literally–eeeuw).

            Just a theory, but it beats the widespread Trump=Hitler theory.

            1. nippersdad

              Yup, I totally agree with that analysis. But I do have to admit that I would enjoy watching him go after his enemies; precisely the thing that they fear most.

              If we cannot have bread we can at least have circuses.

            2. Rip Van Winkle

              To borrow from Billy Jeff, “we are they going to go?” Trump needs to make the executive decision to do nothing. Maybe last time someone confused Pence with Spencer Tracy.

            3. Dr. John Carpenter

              Trump cares about Trump and little else. He’s a con-man and, as such, good and saying what people want to hear when he needs them around. I don’t think he’s conservative either, and certainly not evangelical.

              1. Carolinian

                He’s a narcissist at least. Does that really make him so much different from, say, Obama?

                Our system does not encourage statesman results.

        2. steppenwolf fetchit

          Fearful secularists don’t consider Trump a sincere National Christianist or an Evangelical or any other such thing. They fear the National Christianists, Evangelicals, Rapturaniacs and Armageddonites whose power Trump admires and whose support he courts.

          Confusing Trump with the National Christianist power seekers slip-streaming in behind him is like confusing the Trojan Horse with the Greek soldiers hiding inside of it. I don’t think the fearful secularists are making that mistake.

          1. Carolinian

            slip-streaming in behind him

            What does that mean? Should Trump become president again he will have power. The rapture preacher in Texas will have the same power he has now which is not very much. Basically you’re just giving the Pelosi 1/6 “the militias are coming to get us” spiel. Funny how when history looks back at the Waco Branch Davidians it turns out to be so much less than the politicians said at the time.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Considering the fact that there are so many varieties of Christianity, perhaps what they should do is have every State choose on denolination. So Pennsylvania would choose Amish while Utah would choose Later Day Saints. That way, people could move to the State that has the religion that they belong to. A union of fifty States of fifty different religions. What could possibly go wrong?


    2. Feral Finster

      It’s “you gotta hold your nose and vote Team D this one more time its important Muh Democracy ZOMG!”

      It does not matter why a person voted the way they did, whether they voted out of sincere conviction, to please their spouse, because of misleading ads, because of tribal loyalty, etc..

      The vote counts just the same.

    3. NYT_Memes

      So if embryos are children think of all the tax deductions available in each Petri dish!

      Good for one year only as they will pass at an age too early. A good way to help those mourning the losses.
      Someone in Alabama will figure this one out. Kaching!

  18. Sub-Boreal

    Readers, do any of you have your “starts” going?

    Almost – here in central BC, next weekend I’ll be starting leeks, shallots, and slow-growing pepper varieties indoors. Seedlings of the former two can usually be transplanted to the garden in late April, and pepper plants moved to the greenhouse in early May. But if the El Nino continues to weirdify the weather this year, who knows …

    1. thousand points of green

      If I were in a position to even be able to do what you are doing, I would start some seedlings to plant at the “normal times” and I would start some spares to be able to replant with just in case a very late herniated polar vortex came and freeze-killed everything I had planted at the normal time.

      1. Late Introvert

        I plan to stagger my tomato and pepper starts this year, 3 batches 3 weeks apart. This weekend is when I’ll get that all going. I need them both to come ripe at the same time for salsa and red sauce that I put up for the winter.

        Regarding polar vortex, here in Eastern Iowa you never put anything in the ground before “last frost”, and even then you might have a cut off milk container around it. We also just cover stuff at night if needed.

    2. Christine

      Yes, starts for storage onions, shallots, leeks and lots of hot peppers are up and growing! We like to eat, so lots more planned as well. We grow about 80% of our veggies and fruit. Anchorage, AK

  19. Wukchumni

    I wonder how Donald Trump’s golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes is doing?

    It lost it’s 18th hole to a land slip back in the day and is in the vicinity of major land shifting~

  20. kareninca

    I recently saw two people on reddit/covid positive recounting that they really couldn’t figure out how they caught covid this last time around. They did everything right (N95, Enovid, gargle, vaccinations for what that is worth, and so on). And they were very much isolated. I am wondering if they could have caught it from themselves. After all, it seems that when they autopsy people who have had covid, pretty much everyone has formed reservoirs somewhere. And then of course the virus in those reservoirs could mutate into a new variant, which that person could then catch. A bespoke variant, just for oneself.

    The wastewater levels in the Palo Alto, CA area are spiking again, enough to be in the high range. Where is the post January respite????????

    I am becoming fixated on my sense of smell. It seems to be deteriorating. This pandemic is enough to turn anyone into an obsessive.

    1. watermelonpunch

      Those nasal sprays, especially the more caustic ones, coupled with mouthwash are probably causing people to be more susceptible since I hear about people saying they’re causing sore throats, nasal soreness and nose bleeds and may in fact be having the opposite to a protective effect. At the least there’s no evidence that they’re not just pseudoscience grift being pushed on the desperate, as usual. So much pandemic profiteering using fraudulent appeal to authority citing “promising” articles from years ago never replicated and funded by the vendors.

      1. JBird4049

        It could be that the sprays and mouthwash are too caustic. I remember using the old iodine drops for cuts and if anyone used something like that without using enough distilled water, I can see a user’s insides getting hurt. Even if the damage was not physical, knocking down the normal biome would leave you more open to infection. How much is too much or too little?

      2. kareninca

        I haven’t seen any sign of grift in the case of the nasal spray companies (as opposed to the massive vaccine grift). I settled upon Xlear since it isn’t caustic, it has been around since 2000, and is relatively cheap and stable (Enovid expires pretty quickly). And the company did a covid-protection clinical trial early in the pandemic and was attacked viciously by the government for daring to do so. And guess what, it does help. (https://www.biospace.com/article/releases/xlear-provides-new-data-to-the-dept-of-justice-study-showing-nasal-spray-reduces-covid-19-infections-by-62-percent-included/). I am very grateful to that company for doing the study and standing up for it and for selling the spray.

        1. Basil Pesto

          In regard to the Xlear article, what watermelonpunch said above applies:

          “So much pandemic profiteering using fraudulent appeal to authority citing “promising” articles from years ago never replicated and funded by the vendors.”

          I use sprays (I don’t bother with Xlear, whose puffery I find shonky), I can afford them, there’s some small signal that they might be useful (this has been observed with saline irrigation as well, so the xylitol/grapefruit extract in Xlear may not be doing anything at all), and there’s limited risk. But evidence for their efficacy remains very limited and people shouldn’t rely on them, certainly not exclusively, and expect a protective benefit (relative to, say, a fitted N95, which remains the most effective protection). I’m not convinced by wmp’s claim that they’re making people *more* susceptible. That claim needs more supporting information.

          Here’s a reasonable twitter thread on the limitations of sprays/spray research to date, from late last year.

          1. kareninca

            Of course one wouldn’t rely exclusively on nasal sprays. That would be nuts.

            I have read a number of online anecdotes of people who have caught covid despite using Enovid. I haven’t read any such concerning people using Xlear. For what that is worth.

            I use an N95, Xlear, and a daily claritin (and an AirTamer when I have to take my mask off e.g. for airport security). I haven’t caught covid yet (per weekly tests for my volunteer position). However, I am not vaxxed, and my susceptibility to infection maybe different from that of vaxxed people.

          2. kareninca

            As you say, saline may help. I know a retired schoolteacher who declined the vax and she uses saline spray often and vigorously and she hasn’t caught covid yet (or at least not symptomatic covid); that is her only preventative. However I think that is not a good system to rely on; not at all.

        1. kareninca

          I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the best option. I am not great at mixing stuff and also I feel a sense of loyalty to Xlear (which may cloud my judgment)(or not, since it is true I haven’t caught symptomatic covid yet) due to their standing up to a government lawsuit.

          Thank you very, very much for describing the AirTamer in earlier posts.

    2. SocalJimObjects

      It’s Reddit, it could be the case that there are people out there trying to gaslight other people.

      On Enovid, I recently visited Indonesia and decided to stock up from the country’s Official Seller. Imagine my surprise when they sent me products that were already expired!!! They basically took out the bottles from the old packagings, plastered a sticker with an expiry date of Dec 2024 (the real expiry date is Dec 2023) on each one, put them into new packagings and sent them off to customers. Glad I took a video of the entire unboxing of the package, etc, so I am only out the shipping cost.

      1. Basil Pesto

        It’s Reddit, it could be the case that there are people out there trying to gaslight other people.

        That’s possible. There are other variables to consider re the N95: has it been fit tested? (I can safely conclude that a 3M aura fits me well, as I simply no longer get sick; they only time I got pozzed with covid, I was using a recently purchased Flo Mask Pro, which I never got properly fit tested. That was a mistake on my part) Headband or earloop? Facial hair growth 3mm or longer? Has the mask been extensively re-used? More doffings/donnings and long periods of use will wear the bands and adversely impact fit, especially with auras which have pretty weak elastic bands; if you wear a respirator ~8hrs a day for a shift, you should probably be replacing it each day (which of course is not ideal, because that adds up). I also saw a guy say on twitter the other day (or maybe it was screencaps from reddit) that he got infected despite wearing N95s. Somebody then dug up earlier posts of him saying he went to restaurants regularly. One can’t eat and wear a respirator at the same time.

        It would be nice if these things were a bit more straightforward and there were fewer variables at play. Alas.

      2. kareninca

        Yes, that is true, reddit anecdotes could be invented.

        That is not good re the Enovid expiration. I am always worried when a product is costly that it will be faked in some way. That is one of the reasons I went with Xlear; no-one would bother faking it since it is so comparatively cheap. I do know a person who is not vaxxed who relies entirely on vigorous use of saline spray and so far she has not caught covid; one more anecdote.

  21. ChrisFromGA

    And … boom!


    A reminder from the Freedom Caucus that Johnson holds the ultimate weapon on the budget fight:

    “If we are not going to secure significant policy changes or even keep spending below the caps adopted by bipartisan majorities less than one year ago, why would we proceed when we could instead pass a year-long funding resolution that would save Americans $100 billion in year one?” the group asked.

    If I were Johnson I’d keep this one in my holster, ready to draw. Especially if the WH keeps harping about more money to kill Ukrainians and Jack off the MIC.

  22. The Rev Kev

    Worth listening to that CBS news clip where they realize that there is no science behind ‘get back to work even if you are infected.’ Corporate America can always be counted on to think only about short term horizons and never the big picture. So here Corporate America is telling people ‘If you get infected, get back to work. Covid ends up killing you? Walk it off. Now get back to work.’ Wonder what the workforce is going to look like in the 10th year of the Pandemic in 2029-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_-ZHqky_JM (4:46 mins)

    1. Rip Van Winkle

      I almost had a heart attack myself when she said, “…we need to put people first, not billionaires…”

  23. Old mate

    A warm thankyou from this long-term lurker to patient Lambert for the ongoing Trump lawfare content.

    I have found it hard to learn more on the topic and it seems to me, that in Australia at least, there is slim to no legacy media coverage of the Trump trials other than offhand references that there are a lot of em going on. No discussion such as found here of course, but to be fair to the media I’d guess 99% of Australians would just say “who cares, he’s a see-you-next-tuesday anyway” if the broader issues were highlighted

    Nevertheless I suggest the valuation and rape/defamation trials are yet another contender for “moment when the USA undeniably became a straight up third world country”. They are doing Khan over in exactly the same way in Pakistan – just do whatever until something sticks! And in both Pakistan and the USA, feels like a lot of people instinctively know it’s all bulldust

    A question for any helpful commenters here (as I adhere to the rule of not requesting work from our hosts), how many charges in total were brought under the temporary rule change in NY where the statute of limitations was paused? And was there a big push for this change before it happened? I’m thinking it can’t be the case that they changed the law just so they could take Trump to court… could it?

    1. Pat

      The fraud grounds were not changed for Trump. The one year long elimination of the statute of limitations for sexual harassment/molestation civil actions most certainly had him in mind. There were a fair number of suits filed against private figures, but also a couple of high profile figures got hit, sports and a rapper. And of course my favorite, the one against Andrew Cuomo on the last day it was in effect.

  24. Pat

    Nothing but what I observe and from looking up more on that NBC survey I think that Nichols is desperately trying to grasp onto something…anything that might give Biden an advantage. The economy…nope….Foreign policy….nope. And the latest survey has a shift of 55 voters from Trump if he is convicted of a felony out of 1000. Then and only then is Biden in the picture.

    The people I know who despise Trump are cheered by the midterm turnout. And here is a group saying that is going to save Biden. I will be majorly surprised if increased turnout translates to votes for Biden where he needs them most, swing states. In those states just. a few voter staying home or voting third party or just leaving the top of the ballot blank stand between Joe Biden and defeat. And no matter what the sheltered Nichols might want to think, it probably won’t be about Trump as fantasy dictator that is going to make the difference there.

    The coastal PMC may catch on before election night this time, but the Dems are backing a probable loser. And honestly I don’t know that they can pick a replacement with a chance either. It certainly isn’t Harris or Newsom. Perhaps more time should have been spent on making sure voters who aren’t major donors are in as good a shape or better than they were when Joe took office, rather than defeating Putin and keeping donors happy by taking things back to normal.

  25. Late Introvert

    I won’t vote for Trump, but I won’t for Biden either. They both suck. Sit it out here in Die-owa.

Comments are closed.