2:00PM Water Cooler 2/6/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Evening Grosbeak (type 2), Sattley; Sierra Nevada Field Campus, California, United States. “Background Sounds: Yuba River; Species Sound: frequent; Breeding Status: not territorial, not breeding?; Special Song Type: dawn?”

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

The Constitutional Order (Insurrection)

“‘Disenfranchisement and Chaos’: The Supreme Court Hears Pivotal Case on Whether Trump Is Eligible to Run for President” [Pro Publica]. “The 14th Amendment bans insurrectionists from serving as a ‘Senator or Representatives in Congress,’ ‘electors of President and Vice President,’ or in ‘any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State.’ There is no direct mention of the presidency. It applies to anyone who took the oath of office to defend the Constitution, including anyone who was “an officer of the United States.” One camp of legal scholars argues that it would be nonsensical and inconsistent with the intent of those who drafted the amendment to say that it excluded the presidency…. Other scholars say the omission of the presidency from the 14th Amendment is so glaring that it can be read as an intentional decision. ‘It’s very strange to name the Senate and House but not the president,’ said Derek Muller, a Notre Dame law professor, characterizing this position. ‘If you list a bunch of things and you omit one thing, you probably did it on purpose.'” And: “In an amicus brief in the Trump v. Anderson case, Hasen, Ohio State law professor Ned Foley and longtime Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg lay out a chilling scenario in which the court deferred to Congress [via Section Five] on the question of Trump’s eligibility. If Trump were to win the presidential election and Democrats were to win control of Congress, then those Democratic lawmakers could, in theory, vote to disqualify Trump in January 2025 if they believe he engaged in insurrection, as many Democrats have said they do. ‘What would it mean for a Democratic Congress to say, ‘Donald Trump can’t serve even though he won?” Hasen said. ‘To me, that’s a recipe for potential political violence.'” • So keep Trump off the ballot?

“Here’s how 2 sentences in the Constitution rose from obscurity to ensnare Donald Trump” [Associated Press]. “In the summer of 2020, Gerard Magliocca, like many during the coronavirus pandemic, found himself stuck inside with time on his hands. A law professor at Indiana University, Magliocca emailed with another professor, who was writing a book about overlooked parts of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. He decided he would research the history of two long-neglected sentences in the post-Civil War addition that prohibit those who ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ from holding office. Magliocca posted a copy of his research — which he believed was the first law journal article ever written about Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — online in mid-December of 2020, then revised and re-posted it on Dec. 29. Eight days later, President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of his loss to Joe Biden. Magliocca watched as Republicans such as Sens. Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney described the attack as an ‘insurrection.’ That night, Magliocca composed a quick post on a legal blog: ‘Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,’ he wrote, ‘might apply to President Trump.’… Once she had dried her tears after watching rioters storm the Capitol, Norma Anderson sat down with one of the multiple copies of the Constitution she keeps around her house in the Denver suburbs and reread the 14th Amendment. ‘I made the connection,’ Anderson, now 91, said in an interview. Anderson is a former Republican leader of Colorado’s General Assembly and state Senate, and eventually would become the lead plaintiff in the case now before the Supreme Court… Anderson didn’t yet have the chance to spread the word beyond her own circle, but in the days after Jan. 6, thanks to scholars such as Magliocca and the University of Maryland law professor whose book project had inspired him, Mark Graber, Section 3 started its slow emergence from obscurity…. It took months before the first mention of Section 3 in a public document. Free Speech For People, a Massachusetts-based liberal nonprofit, sent letters to top election officials in all 50 states in June 2021, warning them not to place Trump on the ballot should he run again in 2024 because he had violated the provision.” • I’m not 100% confident in the timeline (or the intellectual history) My recollection — granted, the events were four years ago — was that Democrats began framing the Capitol riot as an insurrection rapidly; certainly within a week of the event; perhaps the Transition Integrity* Project, which gamed out the 2020 election, had insurrection as one possibility, so the idea was “in the air”? (The report contemplates Trump invoking the “Insurrection Act,” interestingly.) Readers? NOTE * The participant list is pretty amazing. “Never eat at a place called ‘Mom’s.'”

The Constitutional Order (Invasion)

“Goofy ‘God’s Army’ convoy on Texas border shows Trump’s MAGA movement is just one long con” [USA Today]. Opinion. “A much-ballyhooed convoy of MAGA patriots descended on a town near the southern border, ostensibly ready to protect America from what right-wing politicians like Gov. Greg Abbott cynically, dangerously and falsely call ‘an invasion.’ The ‘God’s Army’ convoy was supposed to be a mighty force of 700,000 or more people from every corner of America. It wound up being maybe a couple hundred vehicles parked at a rural ranch in Quemado, Texas – basically a Trump rally without a Trump, but with plenty of hucksters selling MAGA merch and grifting the easily grifted. Some actually visited the border in nearby Eagle Pass, Texas, and were surprised to not witness the invasion they had been promised. Convoy-goer Misty Gregory told MSNBC: ‘It’s not what I expected, but then again I don’t know what I expected. I can tell you it’s not as bad as what I thought, so that’s kind of eye-opening in itself.'” Ah! A Trump-supporting Bayesian! Whatever this convoy is, it’s not “a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants” (to quote Robert Paxton).

Biden Administration


So the labor market is safe, then?

Our Famously Free Press

Good. O’Keefe was always a creep:


Less than a year to go!

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“Trump is not immune from prosecution in his 2020 election interference case, US appeals court says” [Associated Press]. “A federal appeals panel ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump can face trial on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, sharply rejecting the former president’s claims that he is immune from prosecution while setting the stage for additional challenges that could further delay the case. The ruling is significant not only for its stark repudiation of Trump’s novel immunity claims but also because it breathes life back into a landmark prosecution that had been effectively frozen for weeks as the court considered the appeal. Yet the one-month gap between when the court heard arguments and issued its ruling has already created uncertainty about the timing of a trial in a calendar-jammed election year, with the judge overseeing the case last week canceling the initial March 4 date. Trump’s team vowed to appeal, which could postpones the case by weeks or months — particularly if the Supreme Court agrees to take it up. The judges gave Trump a week to ask the Supreme Court to get involved.” And: “‘Presidential immunity against federal indictment would mean that, as to the President, the Congress could not legislate, the Executive could not prosecute and the Judiciary could not review. We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter,’ the judges wrote.”

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“Conventional wisdom said Trump couldn’t win in 2016. This historian’s ‘keys’ said he would. What are those keys telling us today?” [Morningstar]. “Biden holds an edge this November based on American University professor Allan Lichtman’s analysis of 13 historical predictors [see here]. Recent polling news has been very promising for Donald Trump. But with nine months still to go in the presidential race, American University professor Allan Lichtman says Joe Biden holds an edge according to the historical ‘keys’ to victory. For now, anyway. Five of the 13 historical predictors of victory favor Biden, while three favor Trump, and the rest are still up for grabs, Lichtman told MarketWatch in an interview.” Lichtman has form: “At one notable moment in recent history, the ‘keys’ predicted Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016 – against all the conventional wisdom and most polling.” And: “One of the most fascinating aspects of these so-called keys to the White House is that they give you an intriguing view of the battleground for the election. An eruption of major social unrest (such as in 1968 or 2020) would be a negative for Biden (Key No. 8). So would be a strong third-party campaign, as in, say, 1980 (John Anderson), 2000 (Ralph Nader) and 2016 (Jill Stein). So would be a major scandal hitting the administration (Key No. 9).” • Lichtman expects to make a call in August. Note that the keys currently up for grabs (“social unrest”, “third party”, “scandal”) all fall into the volatility bucket, unlike (say), “an incumbent running for re-election (Key No. 3).”

“The Political Perils of Democrats’ Rose-Colored Glasses” [Stanley Greenberg, The American Prospect]. “The elite cheer that inflation has come down to 3.5 percent is itself the problem. Why don’t voters want to thank President Biden and embrace the economists who won the debate? But what does 3.5 percent mean? It means that the rate of increase in prices is still much higher than it was under prior presidents. Prices haven’t gone down. Prices are still 17 percent higher than before the pandemic and 20 percent higher for a basket of groceries…. Gallup released its monthly economic confidence poll, with the headline ‘Economic Mood Improves, but Inflation Still Vexing Americans.’ It’s the Democrats who are responsible for the improvement. But the percentage who rate the economy as ‘poor’ is 45 percent—barely changed from the previous month. And critically, there has been no change in the 63 percent who think “high prices pose a severe or moderate financial hardship.’ Krugman and others just ignore the fact that the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is 20 points lower than when Trump was president. The Gallup poll reports its findings under the title ‘Economic Confidence Improves to Highest Level in Two Years, but Still Low.’ This inflationary period, produced by the pandemic and the Ukraine war, has left the average family exhausted after 30 months of covering the monthly bills. Right now, in every country where I look at surveys, high prices are the top problem.” • Dunno if I accept that explanation for “this inflationary period.” Prices go up because firms raise them. A diametrically opposed view–

“Biden is quietly narrowing the race against Trump, but challenges lie ahead” [The Hill]. “Evidence is beginning to emerge that Biden has at the very least, stabilized the race and that the ‘Trump surge’ has cooled off. Biden appears to have either narrowed Trump’s lead, or even taken the lead in at least some critical swing states, including Pennsylvania, where Biden holds a 1 point lead (43 percent to 42 percent), per Franklin & Marshall College, and Wisconsin, where Fox News polling shows a virtual tie. Likewise, a national Quinnipiac poll shows President Biden leading by 6 points (50 percent to 44 percent). While certainly an outlier, when all of these polls are netted out, it is clear that, while Trump likely has a slim lead nationally and in a handful of swing states, Biden can make a credible argument that the race is considerably narrower than just a few months ago. Why is this happening? There are several reasons. First, the economy continues to improve with the International Monetary Fund projecting a ‘soft landing’ last week. Further, inflation continues to moderate, the job market remains robust — the country added 353,000 jobs last month — and the good news about the economy is beginning to settle in among voters. In a major win for the Biden administration, The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index reported consumers are 27 percent more optimistic about the ‘short run’ outlook for business conditions and 14 percent more optimistic about their finances. This is due, in major part, to salary increases beginning to outpace inflation, easing the burden on everyday Americans.” • “27 percent more” is not an absolute number….

“President Biden’s job approval rating is abysmal. Here’s why he might beat Trump anyway” [Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times]. “For decades, successful presidential and congressional candidates followed the rule that you swing to your party’s liberal or conservative base in the primary election and then tack back to the center in the general election. Barack Obama largely ignored that rule, and Trump really ignored it, without repercussions. And most House and Senate candidates now ignore that rule. That’s because the electorate has sorted to the point where the real challenge to incumbency is usually in primaries, not generals. As a result, candidates increasingly rely on turning out their base rather than persuading voters in the middle. This points to one reason approval ratings may not matter as much anymore. In a polarized electorate, most people vote against the other party more than they vote for their own. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that among voters who dislike both candidates, Biden has a commanding 13-point lead. If that holds, it could be all the president needs.”

“Biden torched for claiming that he recently met with dead former President of France: ‘Not a healthy sign'” [FOX]. “Biden told an audience in Las Vegas on Sunday about a meeting he had with French President Emmanuel Macron during a G7 meeting in England after he had already assumed the presidency. ‘I sat down and I said, ‘America’s back,” Biden recalled. ‘And Mitterrand from Germany – I mean from France – looked at me and said…’… François Mitterrand was France’s president between 1981 and 1995. He died in 1996. Biden appeared to trail off before collecting his thoughts to finish the sentence: ‘Well, how long are you back for?'” • Mitterrand’s English is remarkably idiomatic….

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Speaking of the youth vote:

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Straw in the wind?

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NV: “Biden warns of a ‘nightmare’ future for the country if Trump should win again, and lists reasons why” [Associated Press]. “In Tuesday’s Nevada Democratic presidential primary, Biden faces only token opposition from author Marianne Williamson and a few relatively unknown challengers [Dean Phillips]. He won Nevada in November 2020 by fewer than 3 percentage points. But he came to Nevada to rouse voters for the fall campaign as well…. The state known largely for its casino and hospitality industries is synonymous with split-ticket, hard-to-predict results. It has a transient, working-class population and large Latino, Filipino and Chinese American and Black communities . Nevada has a stark rural-urban divide, with more than 88% of active registered voters — and much of its political power — in the two most populous counties, which include the Las Vegas and Reno metro areas…. But early signs show Biden could have more ground to make up than in past races. Voters are largely dissatisfied with the likely Biden-Trump rematch. A New York Times/Siena poll from November put Biden’s approval rating at 36% in Nevada…. Dan Lee, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that for Biden, ‘the map says he has to hold on to Nevada.'”

NV: “In Las Vegas, Biden Promotes Promises Kept to Black and Hispanic Voters” [New York Times]. “Nevada will hold its Democratic primary on Tuesday, the party’s second official nominating contest after South Carolina. But Mr. Biden faces scant opposition here. One long-shot challenger, Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota — who finished third in South Carolina on Saturday, behind the self-help author Marianne Williamson — will not even be on the ballot. Instead, Mr. Biden made his trip on Sunday with an eye to the general election. Although Nevada has voted for Democrats in every presidential election since 2008, including for Mr. Biden in 2020, it remains a swing state with a recently elected Republican governor. In November, a New York Times/Siena poll found that Mr. Biden was trailing Mr. Trump by 10 points in Nevada.”

NV: “Why Nevada Has Two Dueling GOP Nominating Contests This Week” [Slate]. “This week, it’s Nevada Republicans’ turn to choose their party’s presidential nominee. The process is simple. On Tuesday, they go to the polls and vote for a candidate. Oh, except the candidate most of them want, Donald Trump, will not be on the ballot, which has led to mass confusion. Nikki Haley will be on the ballot, though. So will ‘none of the above.’ Oh, and there are no delegates at stake in this primary. To have their votes matter, Nevada Republicans will have to participate in Thursday’s party-run caucus, in which Trump will be an option but Haley won’t.” • Sounds worse than Iowa 2000!

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“The states that matter in 2024” [ Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call]. “This column is about the nine states that in November will decide (1) the presidential contest, (2) the fight for the Senate, and (3) the fight for control of the House of Representatives…. Three Great Lakes states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin) and three Southern/Sunbelt toss-ups (Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada) are likely to pick the next president of the United States. Donald Trump carried five of the six states in 2016 (losing only Nevada), while Joe Biden carried all six four years later. The margins in all those states, in both 2016 and 2020, were extremely narrow, and most nonpartisan handicappers expect they will be close again this November. Two other states are worth watching but aren’t likely to be as crucial: New Hampshire (carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020) and North Carolina (carried by Trump twice). Two states that divide their Electoral College votes by congressional district (Maine and Nebraska) merit your attention, as well. But none of those states come close to being as decisive as the Big Six.” • Also the Senate and the House. It would be nice government remained divided…

Spook Country

“Homeland Security Cited Inaccurate Allegation to Censor New York Times Journalist” [RealClearInvestigations]. “As the 2020 Election Day count dragged on into the next morning in the crucial swing state of Wisconsin, the New York Times campaign reporter Reid Epstein reported a hiccup at 4:52 a.m.: ‘Green Bay’s absentee ballot results are being delayed because one of the vote-counting machines ran out of ink and an elections official had to return to City Hall to get more.’ Eight minutes later Epstein sent a follow-up tweet giving the all-clear: ‘Clerk has returned with printer ink!’ This tiny drama from Wednesday, Nov. 4, would be lost to history but for the deep consternation it ignited among influential members of the government and tech industry. Details uncovered in the Twitter Files and revealed here for the first time show that Epstein’s tweet prompted immediate and mostly successful speech suppression efforts by the Department of Homeland Security and others who were intent on undermining any facts or claims that might possibly be used to question the integrity of the 2020 election…. Epstein’s tweet set off immediate alarm bells in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. At 5:11 a.m., 19 minutes after Epstein’s first tweet, an election clerk from another part of the state, Rachel Rodriguez, disputed the Times’ reporting on Twitter: ‘I’m very familiar with the ballot scanners Green Bay uses,” wrote Rodriguez. ‘There’s no ink involved.’ Four minutes later, at 5:15 a.m., the official Twitter account of the Wisconsin Elections Commission retweeted Rodriguez’s post commenting, ‘Rachel is correct.’ Except she was not. Although most of Green Bay’s voting machines did not use ink – the DS200, the primary vote-counting machine, relied on thermal tape – that year, there was another machine involved. Local officials, in expectation of higher turnout for the heated presidential race and newly eased rules concerning absentee ballots, opted to additionally use the DS450, a high-speed tabulator that prints results through an external ink-jet printer.” However: “CIS quickly elevated the tweet in a ‘Misinformation Report’ sent to officials at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the DHS sub-agency with a focus on policing social media. Brian Scully, a DHS official with CISA who then led a task force on ‘countering foreign influence,’ attached a screenshot of the Epstein tweet and sent it to Twitter along with a note that claimed the ‘tweet alleges tabulation machine ran out of ink which caused delay in counting absentee ballots – there is no ink involved in tabulation machine (Green Bay, WI).'” • Clowns with hairtrigger trouble.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Sirota’s right:

But dance with the one that brung ya!

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“‘A Strategic Mistake on the Part of My Party’: A Top Dem Speaks Out on the Border” [Politico]. Rep. Veronica Escobar: “This is the toughest domestic policy issue that we are facing today.” • Not, of course, Covid, which has killed a million people and rising.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“No Labels files DOJ complaint about groups boycotting its 2024 presidential ballot access effort” [CBS]. From January: “‘We have set forth substantial evidence and allege that based on that evidence, there is a group of activists and artists [(!!)] and party officials who have participated in alleged illegal conspiracy to use intimidation, harassment and fear against representatives of no labels, its donors and as potential candidates, [No Labels leader and lawyer Dan Webb] said. The political group said in the 11-page complaint that it’s ‘one thing to oppose candidates who are running; it’s another to use intimidation to prevent them from even getting in front of the voters.’…. One of the incidents mentioned in the complaint alleges the former finance director for the Democratic Party and a representative of the Lincoln Project Melissa Moss allegedly threatened the ‘financial future’ of No Labels co-founder and board member Holly Page. ‘You have no idea of the forces aligned against you. You will never be able to work in Democratic politics again,’ the letter claims Moss told Page.” Six ways from Sunday… More: “The complaint also cites Matt Bennett, co-founder the center-left think tank Third Way, alleging he hosted meetings with several House and Senate chiefs of staff to raise concerns about No Labels’ effort by calling it a ‘dangerous and bad idea.'” Tsk! More: “In another meeting with neo-conservative Bill Kristol and Third Way supporters, No Labels claims that Bennett ‘encouraged’ participants “to identify any No Labels staff, donors, vendors and potential candidates to pressure them into withdrawing their support and/or even their relationship with No Labels.'” • All this is standard operating procedure for Democrats since at least 2000 (Nader); see Taibbi here for a good rant. Readers will also recall the Flexians at the DCCC, which blacklisted consultants and operatives working “insurgents.” I can’t find a copy of the complaint — readers? — but absent a theory of the case (RICO?), I’m inclined to file this story under “politics ain’t beanbag.”

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“Are Americans Headed Toward a Civil War?” [The American Conservative]. “Such questions are brought to mind by a book published back in 1998, Kevin Phillips’ The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America. That volume connects three conflicts, the impacts of which were felt strongly on both sides of the Atlantic: the English Civil War of the 17th century, the American Revolution of the 18th century, and the American Civil War of the 19th century…. The stern motif of The Cousins’ Wars is…wars. As he wrote, the three wars in his chronicle have been ‘the central staircase’ of Anglo-American history. Lest anyone miss his point, he added, ‘Bloodshed…is to lasting electoral arrangements what carbon has been to steel.’ The point: Sometimes conflicts are so deep that they simply can’t be resolved through peaceable means.” And: “As Phillips writes, history is not made by class, it’s made by clash. That is, the conflict of one group against another, which can include rich against rich and poor against poor.” Class is “clash,” ffs. And: “Will we, in fact, have a fourth Cousins’ War? To be sure, both sides, Red and Blue, cite a long train of abuses, and without a doubt we have an upcoming crazy train of elections and the inevitable disputes. Yet the Anglo-Saxons were always good at better angel-ing; they might have fought like the dickens, but in the end they stopped well short of outright annihilation and permanent vendettas. So let’s pray that post-WASP America can summon up the same spirit of pragmatism, updating the Puritan dream of a city upon a hill with a new vision: two cities upon the hill.” • Hmm.


“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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Immune Dysregulation

“Hundreds of exposures possible from local measles case that traveled through busy regional airport” [WHIO]. “On Monday, the Ohio Department of Health announced the potential for measles exposure at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport…. The case was initially identified in a child who was evaluated at Dayton Children’s Hospital in the main campus Emergency Department on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31. ‘During the time of exposure where the individual was being evaluated, there were 232 other children, they’re being evaluated as well,’ Medical Director Becky Thomas, Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County said…. Thomas said the lack of vaccinations [thanks, Junior] since the pandemic coupled with traveling, has created recent measles outbreaks in the country, when it was once considered to be eliminated nationwide in 2000.” • But why now? ‘Tis a mystery! (If Yves is right and Boeing is indeed being pillaged and burned liquidated, perhaps that’s a good thing; less air travel means less infection, as Taleb pointed out, one month into the pandemic.

Minimizers, chanting in chorus:

Denial and Cope

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent:

Science Is Popping

“Viral afterlife: SARS-CoV-2 as a reservoir of immunomimetic peptides that reassemble into proinflammatory supramolecular complexes” [PNAS]. From the Abstract: “At present, there are no criteria to evaluate whether a coronavirus can cause pandemics with severe inflammation or just common colds. We provide a possible answer by considering the virus not only as an infectious agent but as a reservoir of replicated peptide motifs that are not themselves pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) that specifically bind to pattern recognition receptors but are nevertheless capable of drastic immune amplification via self-assembly with PAMPs. We show evidence that viral peptide fragments from SARS-CoV-2 but not harmless coronavirus homologs can ‘reassemble’ with dsRNA into a form of proinflammatory nanocrystalline condensed matter, resulting in cooperative, multivalent immune recognition and grossly amplified inflammatory responses.” And: “Results presented here indicate that there exist intrinsically proinflammatory sequences found in the SARS-CoV-2 proteome that are not found in common cold coronavirus homologs, sequences that strongly activate immune responses in a broad range of cell and tissue types connected to disease states in multiple systems.” • Perhaps a Brain Trust member will comment! Here is the press release–

“Viral protein fragments may unlock mystery behind serious COVID-19 outcomes” (press release) [Eurekalert]. And the deck: “‘Zombie’ virus fragments continue to cause inflammation after the virus is destroyed.” More: “Using an artificial intelligence system they developed, the study authors scanned the entire collection of proteins produced by SARS-CoV-2 and then performed an exhaustive series of validation experiments. The scientists found that certain viral protein fragments, generated after the SARS-CoV-2 virus is broken down into pieces, can mimic a key component of the body’s machinery for amplifying immune signals. Their discoveries suggest that some of the most serious COVID-19 outcomes can result from these fragments overstimulating the immune system, thereby causing rampant inflammation in widely different contexts such as cytokine storms and lethal blood coagulation…. ‘We saw that the various forms of debris from the destroyed virus can reassemble into these biologically active ‘zombie’ complexes,” Wong said. ‘It is interesting that the human peptide being imitated by the viral fragments has been implicated in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus, and that different aspects of COVID-19 are reminiscent of these autoimmune conditions….” • The press release is written in English, and it’s worth a slow and careful read. Another summary–

“”Zombie” COVID particles may be responsible for lethal disease” [The New Atlas]. “An impressive new study led by researchers from UCLA is offering a novel hypothesis to explain SARS-CoV-2 severity. Using an AI-driven machine-learning system the researchers discovered SARS-CoV-2 is broken down into fragments in a human body, and this viral debris can uniquely resemble endogenous peptides that overstimulate the immune system. This may play a significant role in the strange variable severity of disease from person to person. ‘The textbooks tell us that after the virus is destroyed, the sick host ‘wins,’ and different pieces of virus can be used to train the immune system for future recognition,’ says corresponding author Gerald Wong. But the story of a virus isn’t exactly as simple as that. After a virus is neutralized by the immune system it is rapidly broken down, or dissolved, into tiny fragments. It has generally been assumed this stage of viral degradation was innocuous, but recent research has suggested some of these smaller viral fragments could trigger innate immune responses that account for severe disease associated with hyper inflammation.” • Worth a read too!

Elite Maleficence

“Rampant COVID Poses New Challenges in the Fifth Year of the Pandemic” [Scientific American]. “What’s it like emotionally to be so deep in trying to understand and respond to the pandemic? It’s pretty incredible. I mean, I can’t believe we’re entering year five of COVID. There are some massive mental health impacts, globally, that we’re not dealing with. I’m dealing with my own, which I’m only now starting to reflect upon. I didn’t give it a chance—I didn’t have the opportunity to give time to it—but now I’m actually taking some time because this is not normal. The COVID pandemic was not normal. This amount of death is not normal. It didn’t have to be this way.”• Idea: Stop recommending policies that infect people–

“Updated WHO COVID prevention guidance may endanger rather than protect, some experts say” [Center for Disease Research and Policy]. Sounds like John Conly, droplet goon, still controls WHO:

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) newly updated COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines purport to protect healthcare workers, patients, and the community, but some experts say they may encourage risky behavior by propagating long-disproven ideas about how viruses spread. “I think they put healthcare workers and patients and the community at significant risk,” said Lisa Brosseau, ScD, CIH, an expert on respiratory protection and infectious diseases and a CIDRAP research consultant. One of the main problems, said Raina Macintyre, MBBS, PhD, professor and head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute in Sydney, Australia, is that the document doesn’t incorporate many of the lessons learned during the pandemic—such as the major role of COVID-19 spread among people with no symptoms. “The guidelines suggest using symptoms to screen people,” she said via email. “This is seen in health guidelines in many countries—emphasis on symptoms (‘wear a mask if you feel unwell’), when we know a substantial proportion of transmission is asymptomatic, which is a major rationale for universal masking in high-transmission settings.” Similarly, David Michaels, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist and professor at George Washington University School of Public Health and a former administrator at the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), said the guidelines don’t directly address the modes of COVID-19 transmission. “I was very disappointed,” he told CIDRAP News, referring to the WHO’s adherence to what he calls “droplet dogma,'” or the misguided belief that SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly through droplets rather than aerosols. “It hasn’t fully recognized the concept that this novel coronavirus is airborne.”

Four years in, and here we are. WHO’s scientists remind me of those good Germans who just couldn’t understand where all that smoke was coming from. Obviously, WHO should never be entrusted with anything, and that includes their precious pandemic treaty, and if the wingers kill that off, good for them.

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I hate not only the compliance, but the complicity that follows the compliance:

Cf. Luke 17:1-2.

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot February 5: Regional[2] Biobot February 5:
Variants[3] CDC February 3 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC January 27

New York[5] New York State, data February 5: National [6] CDC January 27:

Walgreens February 5: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic January 27:

Travelers Data
Positivity[8] CDC January 15: Variants[9] CDC January 15:

Weekly deaths New York Times January 27: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times January 27:


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] Yes, up, but we’ll want to wait until next week to see if there are backward revisions. I’d be more comfortably if some positivity figures were up, too. Verily data, FWIW, also suggests an increase:

[2] Biobot data suggests a rise in the Northeast. MRWA data does not suggest that:

I also tried Verily’s regional data and CDC’s mapm but I wasn’t confident I was seeing a signal in either.

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

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

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

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

[7] -0.7%. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

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

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

Stats Watch

Economic Optimism: “United States Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The RealClearMarkets/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US fell to 44 in February 2024 from 44.7 in January, well below forecasts of 47.2. The Personal Financial Outlook, a measure of how Americans feel about their own finances in the next six months, dropped to 53.4 from 55 and confidence in Federal Economic Policies, which measures views on the effectiveness of government economic policies, declined to 39 from 39.8. On the other hand, the Six-Month Economic Outlook, which measures how consumers perceive the economy’s prospects in the next six months, improved to 39.6 from 39.3 in January. Meanwhile, optimism among investors slid 10.2% to 49.3 while it gained among non-investors by 5.1% to 41.3.”

* * *

Real Estate: “Lease Expirations and CRE Property Performance” (PDF) [Federal Reserve Bank of Boston]. “Overall, [Commercial Real Estate (CRE)] lease expirations during the pandemic have so far had only modestly larger effects on occupancy or income compared with the period before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, for office properties, the predicted effect of lease expirations on occupancy increased by about one-half during the pandemic, and the predicted effect on NOI rose by about one-third…. These effects vary substantially across localities…. Relative to global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) and nonbank CRE lenders, regional and community banks have lower concentrations of office lending in CBDs and areas with a greater shift to remote work.” • Hmm. Perhaps real estate mavens in the readership can comment.

The Bezzle: “Real identity of Bitcoin founder ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ could FINALLY be revealed in court…and may unlock £36billion fortune” [The Sun]. “A UK court will now decide if Craig Wright, 54, is the mysterious, anonymous crypto-king who disappeared from the internet over a decade ago…. For years now, Wright has unsuccessfully claimed to be the legendary Nakamoto and has dragged various naysayers through the courts in an attempt to be legally recognised as Bitcoin’s creator… Wright has also failed to provide the private keys — a secure code consisting of a hexadecimal string of numbers and letters — that would finally unlock the 1.1million Bitcoins mined by Nakamoto. He told a Norwegian court in 2022 that he had destroyed the computer hard drive that held the keys.” • Wait, what?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 73 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 6 at 2:26:21 PM ET.

Class Warfare

“Employers want to fire workers without getting shamed on TikTok” [Bloomberg]. “Videos of disastrous layoffs accumulating on TikTok are prompting companies to seek help in delivering the bad news. More people are sharing intimate details and recordings from workplace conversations that used to transpire behind closed doors. TikToks about getting laid off are now routinely dissected in public — from CEOs’ mea culpa memos to awkwardly timed announcements and the precise intonation used by human resources managers. Fear of social-media backlash has executives, especially from smaller tech firms that don’t have big HR operations, looking for advice on how to lay people off without it blowing up in their faces… While the overall jobs market data remains robust, big job cuts are nonetheless showing up in a slew of industries to start the year, most notably in tech, where several of America’s largest employers are nixing hundreds or thousands of positions. United Parcel Service Inc. also announced last week that it will slash 12,000 management jobs, and Citigroup Inc. has said it plans to eliminate 20,000 roles by 2026.” • I so don’t want to go on TikTok. Do I have to?

“Labor board regional official clears way for Dartmouth hoops union” [ESPN]. “A National Labor Relations Board regional official ruled on Monday that Dartmouth basketball players are employees of the school, clearing the way for an election that would create the first labor union for NCAA athletes. All 15 members of the Dartmouth men’s basketball team signed a petition in September asking to join Local 560 of the Service Employees International Union, which already represents some other employees at the Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire. Unionizing would allow the players to negotiate not only over salary but working conditions, including practice hours and travel. ‘Because Dartmouth has the right to control the work performed by the Dartmouth men’s basketball team, and the players perform that work in exchange for compensation, I find that the petitioned-for basketball players are employees within the meaning of the (National Labor Relations) Act,’ NLRB Regional Director Laura Sacks wrote.” • Awsome!

“McDonald’s CEO promises ‘affordability’ amid backlash over $18 Big Mac combos, $6 hash browns” [New York Post]. • If you want an operational definition of a dystopia, eighteen bucks for a Big Mac is a pretty good start.

* * *

Rule #2:

News of the Wired

“These Paintings Reveal How the Dutch Adapted to Extreme Weather During the Little Ice Age” [Smithsonian]. “Even artworks that don’t center on climate anomalies can offer clues about the [Little Ice Age (LIA)]. Scholars have used paintings of Venice’s historic architecture to track rising sea levels by comparing the positions of algal bands along the buildings’ walls then and now. A 2010 study of a 1571 painting by Paolo Veronese, who likely employed a camera obscura to ensure proportional accuracy, concluded that the sea level outside of the Coccina family’s palace was roughly 30 inches lower at the time than it is at present.” • So I guess Instagram is good for something.

The past is not dead (and hoping resolution is sufficient):

* * *

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 TH:

TH writes: “I’m not sure what this flower is. The photo was taken at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.”

* * *

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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. No More Wars

      Or got their $600 dollars.

      Countdown to election:

      Four more wars!
      Four more wars!

      Third World War ahead?

      You too will become ash?

      Hiden/Barris, not the one.

    2. gk

      And on all train drivers who got sick time after their strike. Not to mention the Americans who finally got the $600 he owes us.

  1. Adam

    Re: the cbs article.

    I stopped reading the article at this point: The complaint also cites Matt Bennett, co-founder the center-left think tank Third Way. How far to the right do you have to be to believe that the Third Way is center left?

    1. nippersmom

      These are the same people who insist on calling Biden, Pelosi, et al “the left”. They somehow seem to think fascism with all-gender restrooms isn’t really fascism.

  2. Carolinian

    Thanks for the extensive coverage today. Re the whistling past the graveyard section on Biden’s little noticed leg up–what I just said. If this country re-elects Biden then it is truly hopeless and a rented Bobcat should make that back yard bomb shelter easier to build. The very fact that Joe is going around spouting his apres moi le deluge pitch shows that he has nothing.

    And this is somewhat interesting–how will the future of Ukraine be like Chechnya?


    1. rowlf

      Almost a year ago I took my wife to one of her friend’s house in central Georgia. The house had been built in the early 1960s and had a Popular Mechanics type fallout shelter in the backyard. Being a junior member of the Curt LeMay club I was curious about it and was given a tour of it.

      Let’s just say I think I would prefer being in a sun chair on top of the fallout shelter than being in it when something big went off.

  3. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added orts and scraps, with plenty of Covid material, including WHO maleficence and what looks to this layperson like an intriguing PNAS study under “Science is Popping.”

  4. Jason Boxman

    The hilarity of liberal Democrats, protecting “their” democracy, by contorting themselves into such bizarre forms, to eliminate a popular former president from the ballot by means of pervasive legal challenges, in particular one specifically based on one particular reading of the Constitution itself, is quite mesmerizing to behold, is it not? That’s some democracy that they’re fighting to save, is it not? Definitely gets my vote!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > mesmerizing

      It is. One ginormous multi-level mesmerizing* operation**:

      NOTE * Didn’t know about the history here. From Mesmerizing Labor. The deck: “The man who introduced mesmerism to the US was a slave-owner from Guadeloupe, where planters were experimenting with ‘magnetizing’ their enslaved people.” And:

      Mesmerists enchanted their subjects in order to manage them, using mesmeric thrall [good word, “thrall”] and clairvoyance in labor discipline. With the help of his demonstration partner, the factory worker Cynthia Gleason, Poyen showed the owners of American cotton mills how enchantment could impose order—a magic trick he had seen performed in both French hospitals and Guadeloupean sugar plantations.

      Mesmerism was never institutionalized as a form of labor control, but still a fascinating geist in the zeitgeist!

      NOTE ** Cambridge Dictionary defines mesmerism: “to have someone’s attention completely so that they cannot think of anything else.” Intriguing to connect this primitive technology to today’s “attention economy,” specificially social media.

    1. flora

      adding: Sirota is right. Maybe they won’t dance with the one that took ’em. (Using the colloquial meaning of ‘to get taken.’ / ;)

  5. nippersdad

    Low hanging fruit, I know, but striking nonetheless:

    “So let’s pray that post-WASP America can summon up the same spirit of pragmatism, updating the Puritan dream of a city upon a hill with a new vision: two cities upon the hill.”

    I seem to recall that The Tale of Two Cities was about the run-up to the Reign of terror during the French Revolution.

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

    I strongly suspect that the guillotines will come out long before anyone commits to building two cities to lord it over the proles. No one is that invested in the present paradigm. The author didn’t have to go that far afield; Kennedy had much the better idea when he said that

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

    They will be the author of their own fates.

  6. Mark Gisleson

    $18 Big Mac didn’t horrify me half as much as $6 hashbrowns.

    Local butcher shop still has hamburger for less than $6/lb. That won’t last but it’s amazing how local businesses have kept prices down despite widespread price gouging elsewhere.

    1. C.O.

      Hmm, good point on the hashbrowns. Once, during the pre-covid days, when picking up a takeaway breakfast, I politely asked the person taking my order to leave off the hashbrowns. The clerk’s annoyed response was, “You won’t get a discount.” To which I replied, “That’s okay, I’m not looking for a discount, I just don’t want the hashbrowns, thanks.” So they filled the empty space in the take away container with hashbrowns. Emphasizing the point about how much they’re worth, I guess.

      These are the sorts of experiences that helped wean me from fast food eating, that’s for sure.

      1. Dessa

        That just sounds like an experienced customer service rep. Undoubtedly, they’ve had scammers aggressively question where their discount is, and ask them unanswerable questions about why they can’t get a discount. Or forgetful, bitter old Karens who complain loudly about somebody forgetting to put the hashbrowns in and insisting they never requested it.

        The warning was to cut off the former, and the hashbrown anyway was for the latter.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The warning was to cut off the former, and the hashbrown anyway was for the latter.

          Intriguing. It’s like Rule #1 is “avoid all customer disputes” (they slow down the line), and “hashbrowns anyway” is the solution to that. I’d speculate somebody in management thought deeply about this, and it’s in the franchise three-ring binder.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe they upped the prices in the US to compensate for the loses due to the boycott of them in the Middle East. But Maccas was supposed to be always about a cheap feed and eighteen bucks for a burger is not cheap. For the same price you could get the ingredients for a good meal from a supermarket that does not even need cooking.

    3. notabanker

      The local butcher here, the real butcher not the trendy suburbia $20 a pound for gourmet burgers that calls themselves an artisan, was always priced reasonably. Pre-pandemic it used to be about on par with grocery store prices, but nothing was ever on sale. So you could find stuff at the grocery store that was cheaper, but only for that week. Now, they are a downright bargain, and its not even close. Ground meat is a buck or two a pound cheaper, and the expensive cuts are $6-$10 a pound cheaper.

      Anything run by a corporation is just gouging. Because they can.

  7. Harold

    I think (or Dr. Google thinks) the flower may be Polystachya neobenthamia, a robust terrestrial African orchid with a sweet fragrance that is not much grown. (I like to play “name that plant”).

  8. Jason Boxman

    Rampant COVID Poses New Challenges in the Fifth Year of the Pandemic

    And never forget, this ends at any time. The public health tools to achieve this have been known for over a hundred years now: Ventilation, air filtration, contact tracing, universal respirator use, 14 day quarantines, pooled PCR testing, maybe even COVID shots if transmission is substantially reduced. (Sniffing dogs, far-UV, airborne virus detection prototypes mass produced, CO2 monitoring, ect ect ect) There are no secrets here. Unfortunately this must be coupled with mandatory material benefits, including paid sick leave, and all bills paid at 100% for 60 days during a true cessation of non-essential economic activity while people are forced to skip brunch, concerts, conferences, parties, and other social interactions outside the immediate family unit.

    Of course, provisioning society for this kind of serious event would require highly effective, competent executive function, which the west is entirely devoid of. To say nothing of the fact that it’s antithetical to neoliberal capitalism. It also requires trust in public health, and high trust in general, and America burned trust to the ground. This is a low trust country, and rightfully so given the extent of neoliberal rent extraction. You have to assume everyone is gonna f*ck you until proven otherwise. This is a healthy, default view to take.

    So here we are, in year five of the Pandemic, while credible evidence mounts that each infection can cause, after the acute phase, lasting, lifetime disability in those that are infected and for whom we have no infrastructure to care for or plan to replace in the workforce except by magic.

    Stay safe out there!

    (And NC is my outlet for attempting run-on sentences for your confusion and enjoyment. Sometimes you really have to just let go and let the words flow, ya know? Not embarrassed to admit that made me laugh)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > run-on sentences

      I think these sentences are long, but not run-on. Typically, one begins by trying to chop the sentence into independent clauses at the “and”s* (each clause then becoming a standalone sentence). I confess to writing the occasional run-on sentence, and I enjoy writing them, too; I would substitute “sinuous” for “run-on.” Who wants to be choppy?

      NOTE * Did you know that “spliceosome” is a word? It is!

  9. DJG, Reality Czar

    The American Conservative, Civil Wars, and loosey-goosey prognostications.

    Apocalyptic Pinkerton does indeed end on this stylistic and political mess: “Yet the Anglo-Saxons were always good at better angel-ing; they might have fought like the dickens, but in the end they stopped well short of outright annihilation and permanent vendettas. So let’s pray that post-WASP America can summon up the same spirit of pragmatism, updating the Puritan dream of a city upon a hill with a new vision: two cities upon the hill.”

    “They stopped well short of outright annihilation and permanent vendettas”: Check in with the Irish, Scots, and Cherokees about that.

    The rest is red / blue tittle-tattle and tripe. If there’s going to be a civil war in the U S of A, at least it shouldn’t be over sniping and name calling. Better polemics, please.

    1. John

      I am sometimes convinced that with the exception of the extirpation of legally recognized chattel slavery, the result of the civil war is yet to be determined.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Can’t help but think that the reason they go on about new civil wars and the like is that they want to bring in authoritarian laws which they say will prevent a new civil war, the Constitution be damned.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > they want to bring in authoritarian laws which they say will prevent a new civil war, the Constitution be damned

        “They” in this instance being both sides.*

        Of course, there is more than one side, so this is a false binary, and it would be interesting to think about how a competition between hegemonic factions itself becomes hegemonic.

    3. Bugs

      I couldn’t get through the atrocious writing in that piece. Like a conservative graduate student showing off to her thesis advisor, in the style of prose only they adore.

  10. flora

    “A 2010 study of a 1571 painting by Paolo Veronese, who likely employed a camera obscura to ensure proportional accuracy, ”

    Completely aside about the history of artists’ tools and technologies:

    See this video “Tim’s Vemeer”. no paywall. utube, 1hr 14 minutes. How did Vemeer create his paintings? An investigation.
    A Penn & Teller film, featuring Tim Jenison.

    Tim’s Vermeer – Full Documentary


      1. Jeff W

        Well, according to that link, Hockney’s theory, at least the one that was “roundly rejected,” applied to the early Renaissance (1420–1550) painters and Vermeer painted a century after that period ended so the rejection may not apply to him and his technique.

        I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other as to whether Vermeer used a camera obscura but I’ve long thought that the strongest argument in favor was the one made by Philip Steadman that “in at least half a dozen cases [of Vermeer’s paintings], this rectangle [formed by the image projected by the camera obscura] is precisely the same size as the corresponding painting,” assuming, of course, that Steadman’s right about the dimensions of the all-important rectangle.

  11. herman_sampson

    Well, here in Indianapolis, the super big mac combo is about $10 (I forget exactly), but the real inflation is that it is 1100 calories, half the daily suggested intake (unless you are an Olympic athlete).

  12. flora

    re: “Are Americans Headed Toward a Civil War?” [The American Conservative].

    Betteridges’s Law (of headlines). / ;)

  13. clarky90

    perhaps, explaining the philosophy underpinning the desecration of Gaza, that has left so many of us, perplexed??

    The Subterranean Temple

    “……But our vulnerability to sin is but G‑d’s “awesome plot on the sons of man.” G‑d created us with the capacity to do wrong only to enable us to uncover “the greater light that comes from darkness”—to enable us to exploit the momentum of our lowest descents to drive our highest achievements. There is much to be achieved through the virtuous development of our positive potential; but nothing compares with the fervor of the repentant sinner, with the passion of one who has confronted his darkest self to recoil in search of light. No man can pursue life with the intensity of one who is fleeing death.

    For centuries the Holy Temple has lain desolate, its essence contracted in a subterranean chamber deep beneath its ruined glory. But this terrible descent is, in truth, but the impetus for even higher ascent, even greater good, even more universal perfection, than what shone forth from the Temple in its first and second incarnations.

    The paths to this chamber are hidden, deep and winding. This is not the straight and true path of the righteous, but the furtive, convoluted path of the “returnee” (baal teshuvah)—a path that plunges to the depths of his soul to unleash the most potent forces buried therein…….”

    some background…..
    by Gershom Scholem

  14. Mo

    Name a member of Congress who would risk their life for a matter of principal. I would love to watch the Democrats eat their words if the Supreme Court did leave it up to a Democrat Congress to disqualify Trump.

    1. rowlf

      Quoting from US presents new blueprint to push Hezbollah away from Israeli border

      U.S. President Joe Biden’s Middle East envoy Amos Hochstein outlined the key elements of a political settlement to deescalate tensions between Israel and Hezbollah during his visit to the Jewish state on Sunday.

      The plan consists of two phases: In the first, Hezbollah would cease hostilities actions along the border with Israel and will retreat between eight to ten kilometers north from the border.

      Why doesn’t Texas just build their wall well inside Texas territory, say about 10 kilometers in? Let the Federal government handle the security zone.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Did COVID cases just bounce on a trendline?!

      Yes and no.

      Yes, because the trendline is a seven-day moving average.

      No, because Biobot data is often revised backward.

      We need to wait a week.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Homeland Security Cited Inaccurate Allegation to Censor New York Times Journalist”

    Can you imagine how they would have reacted if some clerk had tweeted out that they lost to key to the polling station and somebody had to go back to city hall to pick up the spare key? Shows how Homeland Security and all the other clowns are going to be on a knife edge this November and will go frantic over any minor problem that crops up which they always do.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Shows how Homeland Security and all the other clowns are going to be on a knife edge this November and will go frantic over any minor problem that crops up which they always do.

      Reminds me of Ohio 2004, where a fake phone call to Homeland Security shut down the count for some hours. Seems to me that’s the point here: Consciously or not, they’re asking for this. After all, defeating Trump is existential…

  16. Fastball

    I suspect that poll that has Goldberg hot to trot neglects the extreme likelihood that people who dislike Biden and Trump will stay home, or is worded in such a way to discount the possibility of non-voting. I hate Biden and loathe Trump, and that’s my plan.

  17. The Rev Kev

    Watching Democrats in blue run cities/states give us policy and legislation they told us to be afraid Republicans would pass. This is a direct attack on protesters and creating more mass surveillance.’

    Can you get arrested there in DC if you are wearing a mask in the middle of a Pandemic? But giving the police to call two people a crowd which can be broken up? Old Prussia had such a law but it was a lot more than two. When British author Jerome K. Jerome was visiting friends in Prussia and he and the family were all going out, he joked that the family grouping was more than the minimal number of people allowed. So the head of the family broke the family up into two groupings because you just never know.

  18. John k

    Less than 9 months to go!
    We know there will be a delivery, but which flavor? I have a strong opinion but no favorite.

  19. Tom Doak

    Lambert, your footnote about the Transition Integrity Project and the link to it was mind-boggling and I feel stupid I haven’t read that before. The most important questions it raised for me:

    1. What is the difference between Trump “plotting insurrection,” and Democratic establishment figures “war gaming possibilities in the event of a contested election” ?

    2. The game scenario where Trump won the electoral college but Biden the popular vote was the most frightening . . . in the game play, Biden’s team would not concede and decided to challenge the idea that the Electoral College results should be the final say, resulting in a deadlock and mass confusion right up until Inauguration Day. Is that the Democrats’ back-up plan for 2024?

    3. Another game scenario had Democrats offering to concede in exchange for making D.C. and P.R. states, and turning California into five states, per former President Obama’s recommendations! My only question for that is WT[redacted] ?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Taibbi recently pointed out that most of the scenarios discussed in the Transition Integrity Project regarding what Trump might do to the Democrats were things the Democrats had already done to Trump over the course of the last several years. As to your 2nd point above, they also discussed what Trump might do to Biden supporters to rile them up so he could then turn around and accuse them of an insurrection. The Transition Integrity Project was produced in 2020. Very curious that the one scenario that the Democrats hadn’t yet done to Trump themselves when the report came out just happened to occur a short time later.

      I really think that point needs to be emphasized more.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Very curious that the one scenario that the Democrats hadn’t yet done to Trump themselves when the report came out just happened to occur a short time later.

        Every projection but the right one. Curious, you’re right.

    1. rookieEMT

      Holy family blog, I didn’t think that would happen either.

      About as shocking as Scott Ritter’s speech to Chechens.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Grab some popcorn. The freakout is going to be one for the ages and already some are saying that Tucker Carlson is guilty of treason.

        1. ambrit

          It’s fun to speculate that Carlson is a stalking horse for Elon Musk.
          I’m waiting for someone to float the idea of “nationalizing” the social media platforms; for the “good of the Nation,” of course. What other reason would there be?
          Added fun, the vision of “Creepy” Joe Biden getting over 90% of the ‘vote’ in the “Primary” election in SC strongly reminds one of the “good old days” in the much maligned Soviet Union under ‘Uncle” Joe Stalin. What is it about these ‘Joes?’
          The American Oligarchy has become that which it formerly opposed.

          1. tegnost

            well I know my boss pretends to pay me, but if I pretend to work he’s going to hire a venezuelan doctor who’ll do a year for cheap to get asylum, and whats not to like? the venezuelan doctor isn’t saddled with student debt and gets free housing, health care, and he can bring his ukrainian buddies when there’s extra work…it’s just win win win win win!

        2. notabanker

          He is a brave soul. He can easily get the Snowden / Assange treatment. It will be telling to see how he is villianized and how far they will go to shut down his web feed.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > He says Musk has given an undertaking to not take it down from X.

              Via RT:

              He praised Musk for his pledge “not to block or suppress the interview once we post it on his platform X,” confirming that the video would be available without a paywall to anyone who chose to watch it on the journalist’s own website as well.

              Via Sky News:

              He said Elon Musk had agreed not to “block” or “suppress” the interview on social media site X, but accused the Biden administration of “illegally spying” on his team’s text messages to stop “a Putin interview that we were planning”.

  20. none

    I don’t think anyone in the cryptocurrency world believes Wright is Satoshi. He is a nutball who claims to be Satoshi for self-promotional reasons.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “These Paintings Reveal How the Dutch Adapted to Extreme Weather During the Little Ice Age’

    Very interesting article and the same effects must have happened in the rest of Europe. My eye was drawn to one painting in that article – Vermeer’s “The Little Street” – as it is quite charming. Did a bit of research into it and found that back in 2015 through some neat research, that they were able to identify exactly where this scene was painted-



  22. Cliff

    Re: Gregory Travis Make Schools #DavosSafe tweet

    Am I missing something on these graphs? I don’t understand how this data makes his “children aren’t supposed to die” point at all. In the “normal year” data the under 18 category is given as 2% of deaths. In the 2021 data the under 18 category is not broken out, but the sum of the older categories is 99%, suggesting that the under 18 category was reduced to 1%. Certainly there is not much resolution with these integer percentages.

    You can see from the data that the age of death is definitely smeared downward into the middle two categories, but assuming children are those under 18, their group was better in 2021 given the data on these stacked bar graphs.

    Maybe he is trying to say that MORE (absolute number) under 18’s died, but their proportion of the increased total went down? Sorry, this is just bad data presentation. I think it really needs zooming and actual numbers on those two bottom categories (purple and yellow, barely visible) in order to possibly make his point.

  23. Glen

    NTSB is reporting that the bolts which were supposed to be installed to keep the door plug in place on the Alaska Air Boeing 737 Max 9 were not installed:

    NTSB says key bolts were missing from the door plug that blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9

    The NTSB investigators were probably looking for damage on the door structure and the airframe which should have been there to shear the bolts, or other witness marks and did not find them.

    Which leads to the next logical question – what else could be missing?

    And the question I have – who’s in charge of all this and when do they get their walking papers?

    1. digi_owl

      Likely never, as they are protected by the corporate veil.

      Whenever one trace the path backwards, it all comes down to shareholder demands for dividends and buybacks.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        From the copy of the report provided by alert reader Glen:

        Mid Exit Door Plug Description
        The airplane was equipped with a MED plug option… which Alaska Airlines had selected based on its desired seating configuration. Benefits afforded by the plug option include:

        1. More passenger comfort because of the lower density of passengers and thus passengers having more space.
        2. Reduced weight (63 lbs vs 150 lbs for the door configuration) and associated cost savings in operating the airplane.
        3. A full-sized passenger window.
        4. A structural component that does not have the complexity of a door with its associated parts, operations, and maintenance concerns.

        Lambert adds:

        5. Because profit.

        More from the report. I have helpfully highlighted a causality supported by, but not mentioned in, the report:

        The accident airplane was equipped with 178 passenger seats, of which rows 1 through 4 were first class, rows 6 through 9 were premium seats, and rows 10 through 34 were economy class. The MED plugs, with a standard window each, were located at row 26 on the right and left sides of the airplane. Each door plug was about 29 inches wide and 59 inches high.

        Eliminate class* and give everybody a window seat. Problem solved; no plug option required.

        NOTE * Yes, “class” in an airplane, being income-based, is only a proxy for class as understood by realist** economists. Nevertheless.

        META-NOTE ** I call your attention to this use of the word “realist.” I think I’m going to start using it.

  24. Jason Boxman

    From The cruelty of crypto

    In the early 2010s, bitcoin was predominantly bought and owned by affluent white men in tech and investment circles. But, by 2021, advocates were shilling the token as a pathway to generational wealth for Black Americans. Historically, Black Americans have struggled to build intergenerational wealth. Centuries of economic practices, from slavery to redlining, made it almost impossible to hold property, to own homes, or to build and transfer wealth from generation to generation. To this day, Black Americans still have the lowest rate of home ownership of any racial group in the United States. These rates have only declined since the financial crash, falling as low in 2019 as they were in the early 1960s, when race-based financial discrimination was still legal.

    And never forget the largest destruction of black wealth in history was facilitated by Barrack Obama by way of rejecting cramdowns and his HAMP debacle, a program that was such an utter failure it ultimately shutdown.


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