2:00PM Water Cooler 2/23/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1.5 km WSW of Johnsontown, Berkeley, West Virginia, United States. “Behavior and other notes: Adult male Ruby-crowned Kinglet giving calls and subsong while foraging in the lower branches of a Virginia Pine.”

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


Less than a year to go!

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This week’s polling:

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Trump (R): “Could Tulsi Gabbard Become Trump’s Very Weird VP Choice?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “you don’t really see many people or politicians go from far left to far right or back again. An exception is clearly former Democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. A big-time backer of Bernie Sanders in 2016, and a favorite of the anti-war left, Gabbard’s most famous moment on the 2020 Democratic nomination trail was her sharp attack on Kamala Harris in a debate for putting ‘over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations’ as a prosecutor. Today, though, Gabbard is scheduled be the keynote speaker at a Mar-a-Lago fundraising dinner for the 917 Society — a nonprofit best known for distributing pocket-size copies of the Constitution… Gabbard hasn’t endorsed Trump for president just yet, but she’s definitely been on a sojourn toward MAGA-land for a while now. Her strongly anti-interventionist views (including hostility to any aid to Ukraine) has been a constant. But in October 2022, she formally left the Democratic Party… Soon thereafter, Gabbard’s trajectory was made clear by her endorsement of the Senate candidacy of MAGA favorite J.D. Vance. …. At an event in South Carolina earlier this week, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham asked [Trump] about a list of vice-presidential prospects that included Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, Byron Donalds, Kristi Noem … and Gabbard. Trump replied: All ‘of those people are good. They’re all solid.” (His campaign later clarified that DeSantis was not under consideration, and that Elise Stefanik was a possibility, too.) It’s well known that Team Trump is interested in broadening his coalition by choosing a veep who is a woman, a person of color, or someone well outside the political Establishment. Gabbard fits all three criteria.” • Hmm. Trump could do worse.

Trump (R): “The Swiftboater Coming for Biden” [David Freedlander, New York Magazine]. “A longtime brawler and veteran of Republican politics, including the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry in 2004, today LaCivita is officially senior adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — but he is really the de facto co–campaign manager along with Susie Wiles. Together, they have brought an unprecedented level of discipline to the campaign’s third iteration.” And: “According to a dozen people working on and close to the campaign, Wiles and LaCivita have figured out that part of Trump’s appeal is the performance and that he can’t really be managed anyway — look no further than Trump randomly urging Russia to attack NATO members. Instead, Wiles manages internal matters (“She controls the checkbook,” as one person put it) while LaCivita plots the overall strategy. He ran the ground game in Iowa that crushed Ron DeSantis in the caucuses and pushed the Republican parties of Nevada and California to change their delegate-allocation rules to favor Trump.” Importantly: “‘2016 was a totally shambolic operation, just a guy on a plane surrounded by a rotating cast of jokers,’ says Liam Donovan, a Republican strategist. ‘By 2020, you had a more professionalized operation, but the campaign was led by his web designer until the home stretch. He came close with the B-team, and now we get to see what happens when you bring in some of the most shrewd, calculating, and ruthless operators in the party.'” • Of course, there is the budget….

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Haley (R): “She’s not quitting. Takeaways from Nikki Haley’s push to stay in the GOP contest against Trump” [Associated Press]. “Ahead of a major speech on Tuesday, Haley told The Associated Press that she’s staying in the race no matter what at least until after another 20 states vote through Super Tuesday on March 5.” Not a long time. More: “But somehow, even as the losses begin to pile up, Haley is raising money at the strongest rate of her political career. Haley’s campaign raised $5 million in a fundraising swing after her second-place finish in New Hampshire that included stops in Texas, Florida, New York, and California, according to campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas. Her campaign raised $16.5 million in January alone — her best fundraising month ever. She raised another $1 million last week in the 24 hours after Trump attacked her husband, a military serviceman currently serving overseas.” And: “‘People are not looking six months down the road when these court cases have taken place,’ Haley said. ‘He’s going to be in a courtroom all of March, April, May and June. How in the world do you win a general election when these cases keep going and the judgments keep coming?'” • A good question, that the Trump campaign team has no doubt considered carefully.

Haley (R): “The Democrats Paying for Nikki Haley to Stay in the Race” [The American Conservative]. “A POLITICO analysis of FEC filings by Haley’s campaign found that, in January alone, approximately 1,600 donors to President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020 also donated to Haley’s campaign. These were not just small-dollar donors; they were responsible for more than $500,000 of donations last month. In total, more than 5,200 donors to Biden’s 2020 campaign have donated to Haley’s primary campaign.” • So Haley’s appeal is bipartisan!

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Biden (D): “Biden’s cheat sheets at fundraisers worry donors” [Axios]. “President Biden has been using notecards in closed-door fundraisers, calling on prescreened donors and then consulting his notes to provide detailed answers, according to people familiar with the routine. Biden’s reliance on notecards to help explain his own policy positions — on questions he knows are coming — is raising concerns among some donors about Biden’s age. The staged Q&A sessions have left some donors wondering whether Biden can withstand the rigors of a presidential campaign, let alone potential debates with former President Trump, 77. Biden advisers say the president is given notecards only for very detailed and technical questions, and say he frequently does spontaneous Q&As. Most recent presidents — including Trump, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have carried crib notes, or used teleprompters, to help guide them through various public events and meetings. In Biden’s case, donors have noticed he’s also using notecards in private events. Biden’s notecards are partly the result of a detail-oriented staff that wants to ensure his fundraisers are successful.” • Which indeed they have been.

Biden (D): “Old Yeller” [Axios]. “In private, [Biden’s] prone to yelling… Biden has such a quick-trigger temper that some aides try to avoid meeting alone with him. Some take a colleague, almost as a shield against a solo blast. The president’s admonitions include: “God dammit, how the f**k don’t you know this?!,” “Don’t f**king bullsh*t me!” and “Get the f**k out of here!” — according to current and former Biden aides who have witnessed and been on the receiving end of such outbursts. The private eruptions paint a more complicated picture of Biden as a manager and president than his carefully cultivated image as a kindly uncle who loves Aviator sunglasses and ice cream. Senior and lower-level aides alike can be in Biden’s line of fire. ‘No one is safe,’ said one administration official.” • So that explains Master and Commander (“Old Yeller” is, of course, the name of a dog, so Axios was giving a pretty broad hint, here).

Biden (D): “What happens if Biden drops out? The chaotic 1968 Democratic convention could be a clue” [Business Insider]. “That scenario hasn’t occurred since 1968. In late March, as the US involvement in the war in Vietnam raged on, Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would end his reelection bid following a narrow win in New Hampshire’s state primary. Less than a week later, a shooter killed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, stoking even more national drama. Without Johnson, the obvious Democratic nominee, his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, joined the primary fray against Sen. Eugene McCarthy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Having joined the election cycle late in the game, Humphrey was unable to make it onto several primary ballots. Undeterred, his campaign amassed delegates via an unconventional strategy: having allies stand in for him in certain primaries to disrupt the competition and allow state party leaders to send the delegates his way. After months of strategic campaigning, in early June, Humphrey had a sizable delegate lead over Kennedy and a several hundred delegate lead ahead of McCarthy. His campaign’s strategy appeared to be working, but an unexpected national tragedy quickly complicated its plans: Kennedy was assassinated, upending the primary race. With no candidate having amassed a majority of the nation’s delegates, the Democratic presidential nominee was decided at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where anti-war protesters angrily demonstrated outside.” I remember watching the convention live on a black-and-white TV; the white tear gas was vivid as the Chicago cops attacked the protesters; I especially remember a group of them clubbing a black-robed priest. Then there was Mayor Daley yelling “Kike!” at Abraham Ribicoff, who was antiwar. A spectacle indeed. More: “As it stands, it doesn’t appear that the DNC has any desire to recreate 1968’s contested convention in any capacity. Chairman Jaime Harrison said Monday that the idea of taking the nomination away from Biden and then winning in November — likely against former President Donald Trump — is ‘certifiably crazy actually.’ Unless Biden stuns the party and suddenly drops out, the current 81-year-old president is on a fast track to obtaining the Democratic presidential nomination.” • Events, dear boy, events; that’s what it would take. Volatility, dear boy, volatility.

Biden (D): “A Vote for Trump Is a Vote for Putin—and a World in Danger” [David Rothkopf, The Daily Beast]. “It is time to move beyond the political spin offered by GOP propagandists and Internet trolls and acknowledge that Trump and the MAGA movement are today active assets of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin, as essential to Russia’s future global ambitions as that country’s own armed forces…. After more than eight years of compiling evidence that demonstrates Russia’s efforts to co-opt the American right is perhaps the most successful intelligence operation of our time, we have to reject the transparent vocabulary of keyboard warriors [reporters] that still cry ‘hoax’ every time new and irrefutable evidence of GOP-Russia ties is presented.” • (Rothkopf is a fully paid-up pseudopodium of The Blob.) Damn. What’s that warbling sound?

Biden (D): “The ‘Russia Collusion’ Reboot Is Going To Be Terrible” [The Federalist]. “‘I don’t know what [Putin] has on [Trump], but I think it’s probably financial,’ Pelosi theorized. ‘Either something financial he has him on or something on the come — something that he expects to get.’… If Democrats had common decency, they would cook up a fresh conspiracy theory for us in 2024, because, really, the prospect of reliving the same hysterics over Russia for another year—or four—is just depressing…. Now, I don’t care how much you detest Trump. Accusing him of being a foreign asset or a spy, or contending that he’s being blackmailed, are stupid smears. Only a sap or a liar could possibly believe them at this point. Pelosi, cynically playing on the credulous nature of her constituents, surely doesn’t. She knows a nearly two-year special counsel investigation — largely prompted by a political oppo file paid for by Democrats — failed to uncover a single act of ‘collusion’ in 2016, much less kompromat on Trump. There were congressional investigations. There were leaked tax returns. Every major media organization in the nation spent an inordinate amount of time and treasure trying to expose Trump’s alleged sedition. This is why Pelosi is compelled to frame Trump’s alleged treachery as future quid pro quo. It’s certainly difficult to disprove future events.” • If Pelosi is projecting, that would imply blackmail is common in the Democrat “inner party.”

Biden (D): “FBI informant who lied about the Bidens’ ties to Ukrainian energy company had high-level Russian contacts: DOJ” [FOX]. • I have been remiss in covering this story for two reasons: First, I don’t like it when spooks pop out of nowhere and disturb the narrative flow. Second, Smirnov? Like the vodka? Really?

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“They surveyed 10,000 rural voters. Here’s what they learned.” (interview) [Politico]. “The sharp swing of rural voters toward the Republican Party since the 1980s cannot be explained by simply looking at demographic indicators like race, age and education, say Colby College professors Nicholas Jacobs and Daniel Shea, who published [The Rural Voter: The Politics of Place and the Disuniting of America] in November.”

After crunching the survey data, you identify place-based grievance and anxiety as the strongest indicators of being a rural voter. What is place-based anxiety or grievance, and why is it so important?

JACOBS: Demographic indicators do not do that good of a job [of identifying rural voters] compared to values. … When you ask questions about the community: Is your community better off? Will your kids have to leave your community in order to live a productive life? Are politicians listening to the needs of your community? That is a distinguishing feature of ruralness. Rural people are thinking about their rural communities in a different way. Suburbanites and urbanites are not thinking about that.

(“Try that in a small town.”) And:

What are some of the implications of your research for the 2024 presidential election?

SHEA: I hope Democrats appreciate the size of the rural voting bloc. This is a group of voters that is more important for the Republican Party than either Black voters or young voters are for the Democratic coalition. This is a big important group, and if the Democrats can’t chip away and make some inroads, it is not good on a national level and it’s going to be very bad at the state-level. … One of the reasons it may be hard for Democrats to go into rural areas is that they’ve come to believe these are bastions of crazy Trumpers. … But what we show in this book is that there are genuine concerns that pre-date Donald Trump by decades. Take the anxiety that all Americans feel about the future, double it, and extend it back extra decades. That’s the story of rural America.

I would sure like a handy map of rural votes in Swing States, but a cursory search doesn’t yield one. Readers?

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“The presidential money machine is stalling out, and there are warning signs for both Biden and Trump” [Politico]. “Joe Biden and Donald Trump are raising less money than past presidential candidates, and both are spending big to shore up their weaknesses. Biden has spent millions on ads that are so far failing to arrest his decline in the polls, and Trump, in even worse financial shape, is blowing through tens of millions of dollars on legal costs to stay on the campaign trail and forestall a possible prison sentence. Together, Biden’s $56 million in cash on hand heading into this month and Trump’s $30.5 million are less combined than Trump alone had this time four years ago, $92.6 million. The candidates are still raising millions — Biden raised $15.7 million in January — but gone are the eye-popping sums from previous cycles, which boomed as online giving became commonplace. Donor fatigue, especially among those online small-dollar givers who powered Biden and Trump in 2020, means campaigns have to keep a tight budget. Combine that with the way the candidates’ biggest deficiencies are eating into their stockpiles, and there’s a growing prospect of a possible cash crunch in the summer and fall once the general election begins in earnest. That could force the campaigns to target a smaller-than-typical list of battleground states, rather than experimenting with expanded, more ambitious electoral targets and innovative-but-unproven ways of reaching new voters.” • Setting up a natural experiment in battleground states.

“Teamsters report first major GOP donation in years, surprising Republicans” [Axios]. “The Teamsters’ $45,000 donation to the Republican National Committee’s convention fund, per Federal Election Commission reports, comes as Trump and President Biden vie for blue collar support in key swing states ahead of this year’s election. The reported contribution is not an endorsement. But it’s a powerful statement from a union that’s supported every Democratic presidential nominee since Al Gore. It represents the Teamsters’ first big donation to the RNC since 2004, the Washington Post reports.” But: “The party has neither received a check from the union nor heard anything about the contribution coming, a source familiar with the RNC told Axios…. Asked why the Teamsters reported the donation to the FEC before sending the money, spokesperson Kara Deniz said the union has ‘a strict internal auditing and reporting process that is followed before any contributions are sent.'”

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“Phillips says he’s open to being Haley VP on ‘unity ticket'” [The Hill (CI)]. Phillips: “I think America could be very well served by some type of a bipartisan ticket that restores faith in government and most importantly, demonstrates to the world — to the world — that America can work together and restore its extraordinary brand around the entire world.” • A branding exercise, then? Come on.

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Our Famously Free Press

“CBS faces uproar after seizing investigative journalist’s files” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. Turley broke this story, apparently. “CBS officials took the unusual step of seizing her files, computers and records, including information on privileged sources…. I have spoken confidentially with current and former CBS employees who have stated that they could not recall the company ever taking such a step before. One former CBS journalist said that many employees ‘are confused why [Herridge] was laid off, as one of the correspondents who broke news regularly and did a lot of original reporting.’…. A former CBS manager, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he had ‘never heard of anything like this.’ He attested to the fact that, in past departures, journalists took all of their files and office contents. Indeed, the company would box up everything from cups to post-its for departing reporters. He said the holding of the material was ‘outrageous’ and clearly endangered confidential sources…. The timing of Herridge’s termination immediately raised suspicions in Washington. She was pursuing stories that were unwelcomed by the Biden White House and many Democratic powerhouses, including the Hur report on Joe Biden’s diminished mental capacity, the Biden corruption scandal and the Hunter Biden laptop. She continued to pursue these stories despite reports of pushback from CBS executives, including CBS News President Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews…. The network grabbed Herridge’s notes and files and informed her that it would decide what, if anything, would be turned over to her. The files likely contain confidential material from both her stints at Fox and CBS. Those records, it suggests, are presumptively the property of CBS News. For many of us who have worked in the media for decades, this action is nothing short of shocking. Journalists are generally allowed to leave with their files. Under the standard contract, including the one at CBS, journalists agree that they will make files available to the network if needed in future litigation. That presupposes that they will retain control of their files. Such files are crucial for reporters, who use past contacts and work in pursuing new stories with other outlets or who cap their careers with personal memoirs.” • One can only wonder what story Herridge was about to break. Perhaps “endanger[ing] confidential sources” was the point?

Republican Funhouse

“Exclusive: Senate Republican demands Biden block credit card company merger” [Axios]. “Hawley’s stance aligns him with other critics of the deal, most of whom are Democrats, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who also has called for regulators to block the deal…. Hawley was the first Republican to call for the deal to be blocked, and it could signal more scrutiny from the populist wing of the GOP.” • Hmm.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Nobody worry about Nancy, she’s doing fine:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Appeals court rules NYC law allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections violates state constitution” [The Hill]. “The Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department ruled against the bill allowing noncitizens to vote in local New York City elections, including for mayor, in a 3-1 decision released Wednesday. The New York City Council approved the bill in 2021 and quickly faced a lawsuit challenging the law after Mayor Eric Adams (D) enacted it in 2022.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“The Harm of Air Changes” [Joey Fox, Medium]. Very important. “[A]ir [C]hanges [per Hour (ACH)] is the wrong way to measure exposure to viruses and risk of airborne disease transmission…. Briefly, the harm from any pollutant is related to the rate a pollutant is generated and the rate it is removed. Infectious aerosols are generated by infectious people and pose a risk to susceptible people. As more people enter the space, the risk of the space increases, so the amount of clean air delivered needs to increase. This is why the best metric for exposure to airborne infectious diseases is airflow per person. This is used in ASHRAE 241.” And: “Rooms with higher occupant density are higher risk, but ACH completely ignores occupancy. ACH is the wrong metric with no basis in physics. This isn’t just a philosophical disagreement – it can have significant implications. Assessing risk is essential for addressing the harm for pollutants. Failure to assess risk leads to a failure to mitigate harm.” Naturally, CDC has butchered this: “The CDC’s recent recommendations for public spaces is to have 5 air changes per hour. However, they admit themselves that the metric is often wrong: ‘Large volume spaces with very few occupants (e.g., a warehouse) may not require 5 ACH and spaces with high occupancy or higher-risk occupants may need higher than 5 ACH.’ If a ‘scientific; basis to design spaces only works some of the time, then it isn’t scientific.” • Centers for Disease strikes again.


Readers in both the US and the UK: Can this possibly be true? Is it true where you are?

I mean, I suppose it could be:

“You do you! [cough] [spew].” If this is true, maybe I should file it under Zeitgeist Watch….


The scale is compressed compared to the Biobot chart that I use, but the tendency is correct:

Remember that although peaks matter, the case counts under the curve matter just as much.


“Researchers identify mechanism behind brain fog in long COVID” [Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy]. “Disruptions in the blood-brain barrier along with a hyperactive immune system are the likely mechanisms behind “brain fog” in patients who are experiencing long COVID, an Irish research team reported today in Nature Neuroscience. Brain fog has been reported during acute COVID infection and has also been reported in nearly 50% of patients who experience long COVID, or symptoms well past the acute phase of COVID-19. The blood-brain barrier disruption mechanism was suspected before, but to test the connection, the group first analyzed blood samples to look for any biomarker differences between those who did and didn’t report brain fog. They examined blood samples from 76 patients who were hospitalized with acute COVID in early 2020, comparing findings with pre-pandemic samples from 25 other patients to look for any differences in coagulation patterns and immune response. Those who reported brain fog had higher levels of a protein (S100β) produced by brain cells not normally found in the blood, which hinted at a ‘leaky’ blood-brain barrier. For the second part of the study, the researchers conducted brain scans using dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI to examine brain circulation in 11 people who had recovered from COVID and 22 who had long COVID, which included 11 people who reported brain fog. They found that long-COVID patients with brain fog had a leaky blood-brain barrier when compared to other long COVID patients and to others who had recovered. The group’s experiments also found that long-COVID patients with brain fog had increased levels of clotting markers in their blood.” • More Long Covid biomarkers not even sought for by those useless gits at NIH. Here’s the original. One attractive feature of this approach is that it gives an account for loss of smell (anosmia): ”

Morbidity and Mortality

“Covid death toll in US likely 16% higher than official tally, study says” [Guardian]. Cites to this PLOS One study, already linked. I’m putting this here to remind myself to put a line showing the revised estimate on the New York Times death charts.

Elite Maleficence

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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 22: 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 17: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times February 17:


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) Not flattening.

[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

Manufacturing: “United States Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’s general business activity index for manufacturing in Texas slipped 17 points to -27.4 in January 2024, the lowest in eight months, suggesting a deeper contraction during the month.”

* * *

Antitrust: “Potential Criminal Activity Revealed in the Kroger-Albertsons Merger” [Matt Stoller, BIG]. “[E]nforcers found what looks like criminal behavior by Albertsons and Kroger to suppress worker wages, and are actually doing something about it beyond just challenging the merger…. The Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser published evidence in his complaint that the two firms routinely colluded to not hire each other’s workers in order to suppress wages and break their unions. This dynamic was particularly bad in early 2022, when unionized workers at a Kroger supermarket chain, King Soopers, went on strike after their contract expired. And let’s be clear, these firms hate unions. Kroger executives, for instance, had previously considered ‘closing’ unionized stores in Washington state ‘for a period of time to make them nonunion.’ Why didn’t Kroger shut down union stores temporarily? The answer is competition. If they had done so, rivals would have taken their customers A different path, rather than shutting stores, was to work with a rival to collude against workers, which is what Albertsons and Kroger did. And there are emails.” • Ugh. Speaking of supermarkets:

The Bezzle: “Private Equity Payouts at Major Firms Plummet 49% in Two Years” [Bloomberg]. Via Stoller. “For years, limited partners have relied on a metric known as internal rate of return — a measure of gains on future cash flows — to determine whether to back an investment. That standard worked when cash was cheap. Now, investors are zeroing in on a different yardstick. So-called distributed to paid-in capital — the ratio of cash generated to what’s invested — has overtaken IRR as the most critical metric for investors. It’s gaining traction in the aftermath of higher borrowing costs and a dearth of deals, which hindered the ability of buyout shops to exit investments and return money to investors. The focus on cash returns is ratcheting up pressure on private equity firms to deliver in a tough dealmaking environment.” • Hmm.

Tech: “What Happens to Your Sensitive Data When a Data Broker Goes Bankrupt?” [The Markup]. “In 2021, a company specializing in collecting and selling location data called Near bragged that it was ‘The World’s Largest Dataset of People’s Behavior in the Real-World,’ with data representing ‘1.6B people across 44 countries.’ Last year the company went public with a valuation of $1 billion (via a SPAC). Seven months later it filed for bankruptcy and has agreed to sell the company. But for the ‘1.6B people’ that Near said its data represents, the important question is: What happens to Near’s mountain of location data? Any company could gain access to it through purchasing the company’s assets.” But: “Last week, Sen. Ron Wyden wrote the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agency to “protect consumers and investors from the outrageous conduct” of Near, citing his office’s investigation into the India-based company.” And: “This week, a new bankruptcy court filing showed that Wyden’s requests were granted. The order placed restrictions on the use, sale, licensing or transfer of location data collected from sensitive locations in the U.S. and requires any company that purchases the data to establish a ‘sensitive location data program’ with detailed policies for such data and ensure ongoing monitoring and compliance, including the creation of a list of sensitive locations such as reproductive health care facilities, doctor’s offices, houses of worship, mental health care providers, corrections facilities and shelters among others. The order demands that unless consumers have explicitly provided consent, the company must cease any collection, use or transfer of location data.” • Good for Wyden, good for the FTC. Now do biometric data….

Tech: “Prompt engineering is a task best left to AI models”[The Register]. “The absence of a coherent methodology to improve model performance via prompt optimization has led machine learning practitioners to incorporate so-called ‘positive thinking’ into system prompts.” In other words, “prompt” “engineering” [sic] is analytically equivalent to a cargo cult (although, happily for the investors, cargo sometimes arrives).

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 70 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 23 at 1:25:33 PM ET.

“It’s not even past”

I forgot this:

Two excellent podcast episodes on slavery as the obvious and contemporaneously announced cause of the Civil War are from David Bright and The Civil War & Reconstruction. See also Louis CK here (listen all the way to the end).

Everybody’s a Critic

“A Davidsonian version of Dissemination and Abandonment” [nonsite.org]. Since nonsite.org publishes Adolph Reed, I have to take them seriously. That said, I find this article (it mentions Derrida in the second sentence) utterly incomprehensible; perhaps we have a professional philosopher in the readership who can propose an interpretation. That said, at the very highest level, it does seem to me that philosophers of language must have useful perspectives on our current Bernays Sauce*-drenched discourse — if only I could understand them. NOTE * I forget who to hat tip for this brilliant phrase; Wukchumni?


“The 9 scariest words in the English language, per FTC’s chairwoman” [Becker’s Hospital Review]. Khan: “‘For many Americans, and perhaps many of you, the nine most terrifying words in the English language may be ‘I’m from your insurer, and I need prior authorization.'” Ms. Khan said healthcare is a key part of the FTC’s efforts to boost competition across the economy. She said there are five key pillars to that work: Scrutinizing ‘opaque middlemen across the healthcare supply chain’; tackling unlawful consolidation and rollups; ensuring antitrust enforcement protects all Americans, including workers, tackling unlawful practices by pharmaceutical companies; safeguarding sensitive health information.” • One of the few bright spots in the Biden Administration; I can’t imagine what he was thinking when he hired her.

News of the Wired

“Darwin Online has virtually reassembled the naturalist’s personal library” [Ars Technica]:

For the last 18 years, the Darwin Online project has painstakingly scoured all manner of archival records to reassemble a complete catalog of Darwin’s personal library virtually. The project released its complete 300-page online catalog—consisting of 7,400 titles across 13,000 volumes, with links to electronic copies of the works—to mark Darwin’s 215th birthday on February 12.

“This unprecedentedly detailed view of Darwin’s complete library allows one to appreciate more than ever that he was not an isolated figure working alone but an expert of his time building on the sophisticated science and studies and other knowledge of thousands of people,” project leader John van Wyhe of the National University of Singapore said. “Indeed, the size and range of works in the library makes manifest the extraordinary extent of Darwin’s research into the work of others.”

Darwin was a notoriously voracious reader, and Down House was packed with books, scientific journals pamphlets, and magazine clippings that caught his interest. He primarily kept his personal library in his study: an “Old Study” and, after an 1877 addition to the west end of the house, a “New Study.” A former governess named Louise Buob described how Darwin’s books and papers inevitably spilled “into the hall and corridors, whose walls are covered with books.”

The French literary critic Francisque Sarcey remarked in 1880 that the walls of the New Study were concealed “top to bottom” with books, as well as two bookcases in the middle of the study—one filled with books, the other with scientific instruments. This was very much a working library, with well-worn and often tattered books, as opposed to fine leather-bound volumes designed for display. After Darwin died, an appraiser valued the scientific library at just 30 pounds (about 2,000 pounds today) and the entire collection of books at a mere 66 pounds (about 4,400 pounds today). Collectors now pay a good deal more for a single book that once belonged to Darwin.

What a wonderful project!

* * *

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 Angie Neer:

Angie Neer writes: “Faded and dessicated Hydrangea blossoms in winter.” Gorgeous!

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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. JL

    A thought occurs… iterating on Lambert’s “AI = BS”, I humbly propose “AI = fully automated luxury BS”

  2. Carolinian

    I was going to offer up that AC link on Dems for Haley. Her base.

    The truth is that both parties no longer stand for much of anything and that’s the only reason a nonentity like Haley can sail along on her ego trip.

    1. Randall Flagg

      >The truth is that both parties no longer stand for much of anything and that’s the only reason a nonentity like Haley can sail along on her ego trip.

      I think they stand just fine with doing everything they can for their donors…

  3. Wukchumni

    Trump (R): “The Swiftboater Coming for Biden” [David Freedlander, New York Magazine]. “A longtime brawler and veteran of Republican politics, including the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry in 2004, today LaCivita is officially senior adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign —


    How does he make Taylor look bad?

    America’s sweetheart, especially in the coveted young adult women voter segment…

    1. ChrisFromGA

      I’m hoping she exercises her better judgment and stays out of making an overt endorsement. First, it wouldn’t ring true. A 30-year-old in the prime of her career, beauty, and health endorsing a warmonger who is probably one slip-and-fall away from permanent incapacity. Yeah, right!

      Second, it is always a bad move for entertainers to take sides in politics, with the exception of up-and-comers for whom there is no such thing as bad publicity. For a global star who’s already achieved world domination, it’s a no-win situation as you are guaranteed to lose 50% of your audience, or in her case, maybe 25%.

  4. Mark Gisleson

    Hmm, Old Yeller read like old news to me. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen those quotes (unasterisked) elsewhere and not recently. I don’t think it was mentioned much because if you’re talking about Biden’s conduct around others “yelling” comes pretty far down the list after 1. Memory, 2. Ukraine, 3. Israel, 4. Hands, 5. Dog Bites, etc.

    Yelling’s not enough, you have to throw something. Dog bites still a bigger concern. Get him to sic the dog on a staffer he’s just yelled at, then you have something worth leaking, something to make them break out the Dark Brandon Now With Commander The Robocop Dog memes.

      1. Mark Gisleson

        Sorry for misreading but since then I’ve been working on pitches for

        Robocop Dog

        Robo Cop Dog

        Cop Dog

        and just now I had a sudden flash of inspiration to develop something called Robo CuJoe, or maybe CuJoe Cop. Possibly CuJoe Dog. Not Cur Dog (insensitive).

  5. Screwball

    “The ‘Russia Collusion’ Reboot Is Going To Be Terrible” [The Federalist]. *snip* Now, I don’t care how much you detest Trump. Accusing him of being a foreign asset or a spy, or contending that he’s being blackmailed, are stupid smears. Only a sap or a liar could possibly believe them at this point.

    I sure know a lot of saps. They suck it up like a Hoover and repeat is endlessly.

    Not an endorsement, but a T squared ticket is a winner. I’ll take the copyright claim on that. Trump/Tulsi 2024.

    1. Carolinian

      I don’t like her Israel comments but have always said that she is a very talented politician. And that’s something conspicuously lacking in many others currently running including our native daughter.

        1. Carolinian

          I read about them but I don’t Twitter myself. Found this link for your example.

          Tulsi Gabbard, who is said to be covertly gunning for the Vice President ticket if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination, has been actively commenting on every event associated with US National security, and she didn’t waste time when it came to addressing the Israel-Hamas conflict.

          Her post read, “The United States must stand with Israel in the face of this terror attack by the Islamist terrorist group Hamas. This is just the latest example of the greater war being waged by both Sunni and Shia Islamist jihadists throughout the world.”

          She continued, “This should be a wake-up call to leaders everywhere that Islamist jihadists are the greatest short and long-term threat to the safety, security, and freedom of the American people, and people throughout the world.”


          1. Mike

            This is part and parcel of her Hinduist orientation- she does support Modi, and his nationalism vs. Pakistan, hence Muslims. this has always been the case.

            As for her being “left”, sorry, I don’t buy it and never did. Her support of Sanders was base on his foreign policy Democratic Party holdovers that made his friendship with Biden kinda obvious.

      1. Phenix

        Tulsi is blind when it comes to any faction that fought along side of Al-Qaeda/ISIS and it’s many rebrands. Many people forget that Hamas fought along side ISIS in the Syrian war…Hamas fought against Hezbollah and Iran.
        I have never heard Tulsi talk about Hezbollah. I have not heard much about Iran either. Neither has been a focus on the interviews I’ve heard her give or conduct…she has a podcast for a few months. She has been great on trans issues especially in women’s sports and safe areas ie shelters.

        1. CA

          “Tulsi is blind when it comes to any faction…”

          Tulsi Gabbard served 2 tours of active duty in Iraq as a commissioned officer and went to Syria as a Congressional Representative and commissioned officer to properly understand the violence that was racking the country. Gabbard was able to understand conditions in Syria, and reported correctly on them according to subsequently confirming scholarly reports.

    2. CA

      I have taught students who became soldiers, but I am not in any way a soldier. What I have learned from soldier students however is the need for empathy, for compassion, that a soldier should have. As for Tulsi Gabbard, what struck me several years ago is the empathy she has, This is a soldier who would have avoided Libya and Syria, while prominent Democrats ridiculed the avoidance. When Gabbard went to Syria, in opting for peace, she was maligned by prominent Democrats. I was startled and still am upset:


      Neera Tanden ✔@neeratanden

      People of Hawaii’s 2nd district – was it not enough for you that your representative met with a murderous dictator? Will this move you?


      CNN‏ ✔@CNN

      Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “Yes, I’m skeptical” of claim Assad regime is behind chemical weapons attack

      7:32 PM – 7 Apr 2017

        1. CA

          The way in which Neera Tanden, president of the Democratic interest group CAP, set out to destroy Tulsi Gabbard, a prominent Democratic member of Congress and a commissioned military officer who had served in active duty in Iraq, because Gabbard courageously and nobly wanted to keep America from a needless and wrong war in Syria is beyond disgraceful and shows how horrid neocons came to dominate the Democrat Party.

          Neera Tanden was and is among the closet allies of Joe Biden:


          Neera Tanden ✔@neeratanden

          People of Hawaii’s 2nd district – was it not enough for you that your representative met with a murderous dictator?

        1. tegnost

          OK, I had to look…

          Noun. paskudnyak (plural paskudnyaks) (derogatory) A nasty or contemptible person. (endearing) A young rascal; a boy who makes mischief.

  6. Wukchumni

    Biden (D): “Old Yeller” [Axios]. “In private, [Biden’s] prone to yelling… Biden has such a quick-trigger temper that some aides try to avoid meeting alone with him. Some take a colleague, almost as a shield against a solo blast. The president’s admonitions include: “God dammit, how the f**k don’t you know this?!,” “Don’t f**king bullsh*t me!” and “Get the f**k out of here!”
    Does our teetotalitarian leader have Tourettes?

        1. Feral Finster

          No need to speculate. It should be abundantly obvious.

          The fact that the White House staff doesn’t want let the doddering creep take a cognitive test should tell you all you need to know. They know the score better than anyone and they can’t even be sure that Biden will pass a test administered by a carefully selected and sympathetic doctor.

          For that matter, I’m not a medical doctor, but I can look at someone with a gunshot wound and say “you look like you’ve been shot!”

        2. John

          I’m seven years older than Biden. I just counted backward by sevens. You end at two not zero for the arithmetically challended.

        3. katiebird

          Why does it have to be backwards? If anyone asked me to count forward by sevens unexpectedly, I’d faint. … I do count forward by 3s all the time for my knitting so I’m not against the counting thing. But backwards? I’ve been having nightmares that someone’s going to make me do this in a hospital someday.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Why does it have to be backwards?

            I skimmed the Wikipedia article, and it doesn’t give the rationale. I suspect the cognitive load is greater going backwards; it certainly is for me!

            If you can knit, you’re doing fine. Knitting involves complicated data structures!

            1. VietnamVet

              “Old Yeller” goes back to at least when Joe Biden was in the Senate where he was first elected in 1972. The late Col. Lang in his blog commented that he couldn’t stand him after getting yelled at while briefing him in the Senate.

              At 80 I can can count forward by sevens but not backwards. I think it is like language. When young, your mind is flexible and learns new skills, if taught, but then ossifies with age and you can’t learn new tricks anymore.

              1. Martin Oline

                I remember the Lang episode, but to be fair, Lang himself liked to ‘yell’ in his Emails. I was the target of one of his rants when I wasn’t appreciative enough of his bio. One good thing about his intolerance is that Larry Johnson seemed to have been pushed off his site by Pat and TTG to the benefit of all of us who enjoy his work today.

      1. nippersmom

        I seem to recall (sorry, don’t have sources at hand) that these temper tantrums are not a new phenomenon for our Geriatric in Chief. I don’t think they can attributed to his dementia.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          Not new at all. There are plenty of examples on YouTube from his lengthy public career when the mask slipped. Heck, there were several times he got nasty with his own supporters on the 2016 campaign.

    1. flora

      er.. um.. “little Mike Johnson” vs Big Mike? / heh. Can they even hear themselves? And I ask as a lifelong Dem. / sheesh

      1. flora

        No one should think Mika’s dad, Zbigniew Brzezinski,
        Polish-American diplomat and political scientist (1928–2017) in the Carter admin, was left wing. / heh

          1. Pat

            Between their National Security Advisors and their Secretaries of State, you could really make a case for Democrats only pretending to be interested in peace and diplomacy instead being as big a war party as the Republicans. That is one seriously family blogged list of sociopaths.

  7. antidlc

    Lambert, here are some helpers:

    Artists in Residence NYC

    Our Mission
    Artists In Resistance (A.I.R.) NYC is a collective of disabled and chronically ill artists. We’re creating an air purifier lending library, and we need your help.

    Our goal is simple: support artists, performers and cultural workers in hosting COVID-safer, more accessible events.

    The pandemic is ongoing, and COVID continues to cause illness, disability, and death in our communities. Meanwhile, the public health response has been systematically dismantled. Our government, institutions, and workplaces have failed us, but we can protect each other. Illness need not be the price of living in community or participating in the arts.

  8. nippersmom

    Maxwell Smith, PhD
    Sep 4, 2022
    Why should I cover my mouth when I sneeze? If others are afraid, they can cover THEIR mouths when I sneeze.
    Maxwell Smith, PhD
    Umm…for those that don’t understand this is satire…it’s satire.

  9. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: The Herridge files…

    Is there something in her union agreement or employment agreement w/ CBS that states her work and underlying research is all her own property? If so, then I could see the reason for the fuss. Otherwise, she’s an employee, and her work product is the property of CBS, just like it is for most all white collar wage slaves. Welcome to the real world folks, and loosen up on those pearls.

    1. Pat

      But if it includes files from her days at other outlets because as per common practice she brought them with her, and some one in the article speculates it does, CBS has no right to that work product.

      And, yes, common practice is usually taken into account. But don’t worry the court system in the beltway is filled with judges like Engoron, people who will run roughshod over the law in order to protect the world from Trump, even if it means protecting a genocidal sociopath who is rapidly deteriorating mentally and would happily start a nuclear world war to show he is a big man.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Technically what you say is true. Technically. But not in the real world. CBS took all her files and I mean all of them which is against long accepted practice. It just does not happen. More to the point, what about those confidential sources that she built up? ‘When sources accept confidentiality assurances, it is an understanding that rests with the reporter. It is a matter of trust that can take a long time to establish on a personal level between a reporter and a source.’ The suspicion is that the White House leaned on CBS to do this so that they could get access to those confidential sources – and there goes freedom of the press. Now every investigative reporter in the US is having to create firewalls with their files so that if the news organizations that they work for pull a CBS on them, then sensitive files will be out of their reach. But in the meantime insiders will be more loath in talking to investigative reporters.

    3. Acacia

      What Rev Kev said.

      With this action, CBS has jumped the shark.

      We can now safely ignore anything they report as “journalism”.

      It’s just govt PR, probably spook infested.

      1. Carolinian

        Didn’t CBS jump the shark many years ago? Heck some of us think they sold out when they made Dan Rather anchor rather than Cronkite’s preferred replacement, Roger Mudd.

        It was said at the time that Cronkite didn’t want to quit despite being 65 and now news people are sometimes as old as Pelosi.

      2. griffen

        Journalism in the guise of cheerleading for their squad, and rooting against evil on the other side. Trump bad, Putin evil, Biden good and definitely not senile.

        Nothing more to it than that. Does seem a remarkable chain of events with CBS firing this reporter. Maybe she’ll join the ranks of a Substack or Racket news with a Taibii and Kirn…

  10. lyman alpha blob

    RE: He’s going to be in a courtroom all of March, April, May and June. How in the world do you win a general election when these cases keep going and the judgments keep coming?

    Not every other country in the world feels the need to have a constant 24/7/365 campaign to pick their leadership. In fact, some deliberately limit campaign seasons to mere months. Why does Haley assume the permacampaign is necessary in the US? That, plus the Donald isn’t exactly an unknown – the one who still needs to introduce herself to the public is Haley, not Trump.

    Also, those indictments, trials and courtroom appearances do seem to be goosing Trump’s popularity, not hurting it. You’d think the opposition might learn their lesson, but it’s been nearly a decade and they still can’t figure it out.

    Then there’s the TDS. The Donald can’t cut a fart without the media bloviating on it incessantly. I believe the figure during the 2016 election was $2-3 billion worth of free TeeVee time the major networks doled out to Trump, to the point they cut off Bernie mid-speech to show Trump’s empty podium in anticipation of his appearance. Asking the media to turn the cameras off Trump is like asking a teenager to put down their cellphone – they simply can’t resist the temptation and won’t do it.

    And perhaps Haley is forgetting that Trump’s opponent isn’t FDR or JFK – it’s RamblinBrandon who can’t stop drooling on himself.

    1. Pat

      And almost every triumphant news report of those trials is going to further alienate those Democrats who don’t happen to believe that Trump is the biggest threat the world. Kangaroo courts have that effect. Trump being shown being petulant but fully aware at those trials while Biden cannot make it through a campaign event convincingly isn’t going to help either. And Trump doesn’t have to pay for a dime of that. As an aside, index cards aren’t going to cut it, I fully expect that Biden’s aides are going to be increasingly nostalgic for campaigning from a basement.

      I will be deeply surprised if most Americans aren’t fed up with both of the major party candidates by Election Day. So much so that I will make the bet right now that between staying home, leaving the top of the ballot blank and voting third party a historic percentage of eligible voters will not vote for either of the two awful geriatric human beings that are likely to be the Republican and Democratic nominees for President.

    2. Cassandra

      > I believe the figure during the 2016 election was $2-3 billion worth of free TeeVee time the major networks doled out to Trump, to the point they cut off Bernie mid-speech to show Trump’s empty podium in anticipation of his appearance.

      However, the blue check media only gave Trump all the free airtime in 2015-2016 as part of the Mook/Podesta “Pied Piper” strategy. The idea was to block Bernie and Jeb! Bush, giving the Red Team nomination to someone so horrible, so dreadful, that the unwashed deplorables would gratefully accept the coronation of their rightful queen, HRC. I think everyone was astounded when the strategy failed, including Trump.

      I believe Trump had to pay for his airtime in 2020, though as the incumbent he could get coverage based on his office. At this point, I think the electorate he needs to reach for the upcoming campaign won’t be watching the talking heads anyway.

      1. Pat

        They gave him plenty of free air time in 2020 as well, it wasn’t just the incumbency. The difference between 2020 and 2016 was they were amused by him and treated his candidacy either quizzically or as an entertainment in 2016 at least until he got the nomination when it shifted to arrogant disdain for the racist loser. Once he won it was aghastitude or holding their noses while pretending to be objective for his term and the campaign. But he still drew more viewers and generated more clicks than anybody else, including basement boy. They might have liked to pretend it was coverage of the President not the candidate, but took every excuse to put him on air.

        Think the difference between how Sanders was handled and Trump. Whenever they had to cover him if possible it was a dry report, no clips no quotes and always less than two minutes. If they truly wanted to freeze him out that would have been the way things were handled. But rainmaker Trump got video, quotes (usually ridiculed or with aghast exclamations), and never less than three minutes. Often multiple stories in one broadcast (divided as President and candidate stories). Whether it was hate watching or appalled Trump fans he drove their ratings up and they wanted those higher numbers.

  11. cgregory

    Per the rules of “Pay to Play” which both parties have in the House, if Nancy Pelosi wants to be Speaker of the House again, she’s going to have to raise $25,000,000 to pay for being elected. So, 22 more days like this last one!

  12. Tom Stone

    Joe Biden has done more for childhood poverty ( It’s a new record) than any other President in my 70 years of life, refusing to vote for him is nothing but Ableism and should be condemned by all right thinking people!
    And he’s done nearly as good a job with the homeless, we have more homeless now than at any time since the great depression.
    A vote for Trump is a vote for Putin!!!

  13. flora

    re: Here’s an interactive map of cities and towns that have enacted limits or bans on dollar stores — a movement that has grown rapidly in recent years. ”

    Huh. And here’s Target adding a dollar store-like section to win back customers put off by their … uh …’woke’ ESG/DEI store displays.

    Target launches a new dollar-store-style budget brand


    So the question arises: Is the push back against dollar stores organic and local or is it Wall St. in origin? Or both? / ;)

    1. Ranger Rick

      It’s organic in the sense that if one opens in your vicinity, “there goes the neighborhood.” This is not so much a question about competition as it is property owners getting mad at the economic equivalent of a vehicle on cinderblocks on a neighbor’s front lawn.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That podcast title is a little concerning, but the podcaster, Michael Prysner, is married to Abby Martin of The Empire files. I think the right wingers aren’t the only ones who pull the yarn in their yarn diagrams too tight, but at least these guys aren’t pushing lunatic theories about pizza parlors. Yes, and Tulsi’s history is just a little sketchy. But who among us…

  14. The Rev Kev

    ‘Haley said. ‘He’s going to be in a courtroom all of March, April, May and June. How in the world do you win a general election when these cases keep going and the judgments keep coming?’

    That is not the negative that she thinks that is. I think that most people recognize that the reason that this is so for Trump is that it is actually a White House campaign to get rid of him through lawfare. Should it be noted that the State that gave all those bizarre judgments against Trump is actually a Democrat stronghold? And should it also be mentioned that Haley herself is getting Democrat support through both financial support and Democrats actually voting for her? And it is still only February. If the Biden WH keeps this up then America may end up with the nickname of the United Bananas of America.

    1. Synoia

      Nor to mention that Real Estate valuations are performed for Buyer if selling and Banks if lending and are completely performed by by Professionals with no attachment to the sellers.
      The same is true for property tax appraisals.

      Reliving on the sellers or owners valuations is not a part of valuations.

    2. Tom Stone

      I’m quite serious when I say that Long Covid may well be responsible for a lot of what’s coming out of politician’s mouths.
      “A vote for Trump is a vote for Putin”?
      We should be so lucky, Putin actually cares deeply both about the People of Russia and the Nation of Russia, he is the greatest Czar Russia has seen since Peter the Great.
      I’m 70 years old and the only US President of my lifetime who might have been as Intelligent and Patriotic as Putin was Richard Nixon, as corrupt as he was.

  15. Benny Profane

    “How in the world do you win a general election when these cases keep going and the judgments keep coming?”

    I’m thinking by ten points plus. Keep them coming.

Comments are closed.