2:00PM Water Cooler 2/7/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Evening Grosbeak (type 3), Bourgo Home, Bayfield, Wisconsin, United States.

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Politics

“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)

“Gaetz, Stefanik offer resolution declaring Trump ‘did not engage in insurrection'” [The Hill]. “Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) unveiled a resolution Tuesday that declares former President Trump ‘did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.’ The resolution — which spans one page and has more than 60 GOP co-sponsors — comes as groups across the country try to disqualify Trump from appearing on their 2024 presidential election ballots on claims that he engaged in an insurrection during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol…. ‘If we’re the purported victim, in Congress, and we’re saying this was not an insurrection, I think that will hold a great deal of weight,’ [Gaetz] added.”

“Sen. J.D. Vance: Congress “Should Have Fought” Over Multiple Slates Of Electors In 2020″ [RealClearPolitics]. Vance: “Do I think there were problems in 2020? Yes, I do. Do I think it was a problem that big technology companies, working with the intelligence services, censored the presidential campaign of Donald Trump? Yes. Do I think it’s a problem that Pennsylvania changed its balloting rules in the middle of the election season in a way that even some courts in Pennsylvania have said was illegal? Yes, I think these were problems, George, and I think there is a political solution to those problems. So, litigating which slate of electors were legitimate I think is fundamentally the political solution to the problems that existed in 2020. It’s a reasonable debate to have. … If I had been vice president [musical interlude] I would have told the states, like Pennsylvania, Georgia and so many others that we needed to have multiple slates of electors and I think the U.S. Congress should have fought over it from there. That is the legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of folks, including me, think had a lot of problems in 2020. I think that’s what we should have done.” • I do have a vague feeling that PA could have been a little whiffy; IIRC, the rules for ballot box drop-offs were changed under circumstances that gave rise to controversy.

“Meet the GOP insider leading the push to disqualify Trump in Colorado” [Ivana Saric, Axios]. “The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed to keep Donald Trump off of Colorado’s 2024 ballot is a 91-year-old fixture of the Colorado GOP…. A staunch Republican, Anderson had a 19-year career as a Colorado legislator and was the first woman to serve as majority leader in both the state House and state Senate…. Anderson told the Colorado Sun that she’ll be watching the Supreme Court arguments closely and is hopeful a decision will be reached quickly. ‘I’m very happy I’ve done it,’ she said. ‘It does take courage.'” • I’m feeling a little queasy about this narrative, which takes the focus off the NGOs driving the cases collectively, as lawfare. And Saric seems a curious choice for this beat. Also, although when “majority leader in both the state House and state Senate” I’m sure she was an insider, not now, not if she’s a moderate who voted for third-party candidates in 2016 and 2020.

Capitol Seizure

“FBI charged with Jan. 6 ‘cover-up’ in Ashli Babbitt shooting case” [Washington Examiner]. “In its new FOIA suit, Judicial Watch said that not only has the FBI refused its two demands for files but that the law enforcement agency has also stiff-armed the Justice Department office that advocates FOIA compliance, the Office of Information Policy…. In the wrongful death suit [brought by Aaron Babbitt and Judicial Watch] a new camera angle of the shooting was provided. The time-stamped video showed an unarmed Babbitt being pushed into the House Speaker’s Lobby as Byrd raises his gun. After he shot, she fell back, bleeding from the shoulder and neck.”

Biden Administration

“Behind the border mess: Open GOP rebellion against McConnell” [Politico]. “Trump and Speaker Mike Johnson helped squash the border bill’s prospects in the House while Ron Johnson, Lee, Cruz, Scott and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) pummeled it on TV and social media. The intensity of that assault turned many GOP senators sour on a border security deal that would have amounted to the most conservative immigration bill backed by a Democratic president in a generation — a bill they once said was the key to unlocking Ukraine aid. Though McConnell touted the work of Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and the bill’s endorsement by the Border Patrol union, he conceded what was obvious by Monday night: This legislation is dead. ‘The reason we ended up where we are is the members decided, since it was never going to become law, they didn’t want to deal with it,’ McConnell said in the interview. ‘I don’t know who is at fault here, in terms of trying to cast public blame.’ At Tuesday’s party meeting, Cruz told McConnell that the border deal was indefensible, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) questioned why the GOP would walk away from it, according to two people familiar with the meeting. That followed a Monday evening private meeting where Johnson got into a near-shouting match with Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), one of several senators who has tried to rebut Trump’s influence on the party.” • It wouldn’t have helped Biden anyhow; why wouldn’t voters vote for a real Republican?

2024

Less than a year to go!

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Trump (R): “Trump’s legal battles are at a critical moment with major implications for the 2024 election” [CNN]. “The collision between November’s presidential election and Trump’s extraordinary tangle of legal liabilities, trials, court appeals and tests of the rule of law is deepening as he tightens his grip on the Republican nomination. Several civil cases are moving toward their conclusions, with painful financial consequences for the ex-president. But there are growing signs that his delaying strategy, designed to postpone full accountability until after the election, could be working on several criminal fronts. And the nation’s top judges and justices are now wrestling with the consequences of Trump’s attempts to strain the guardrails of the political system to their limits. The resulting precedents will echo for as long as America remains a republic.” • A good round-up, if you filter for the aghastitude.

Trump (R): “Trump plans to stay away from Supreme Court arguments after turning past court appearances into campaign stops” [CNN]. “On Tuesday and Wednesday, lawyers and advisers for Trump are holding their first mock arguments to prepare to face the justices. The so-called “moot court arguments,” a staple of Supreme Court advocacy, are just one aspect of Trump’s more traditional approach to Thursday’s case…. Former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell will argue the case for Trump. This will be his sixth time arguing a case before the justices. He’s also an accomplished legal scholar who has published numerous works of scholarship in law journals and written on issues at the heart of the case, including the 14th Amendment. Unlike many Trump lawyers, he has mostly worked in government and academia before opening his own firm in 2018. Longtime Trump lawyer David Warrington also has played a significant behind-the-scenes role to prepare for Thursday. Warrington does not have Supreme Court experience but has worked with the former president for years and “understands how to get things done in Trump world,” according to a source familiar with the matter. And John Sauer, the lawyer who argued Trump’s immunity case before the DC Circuit, is expected to attend and participate in the moot courts this week in Washington, along with some of Trump’s criminal defense lawyers and his close legal adviser Boris Epshteyn. The caliber of lawyers and their methodical approach to this case are a stark contrast to that of Trump’s legal team in the recent trial in New York to determine damages owed to former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll for defamation.”

Trump (R): “What Happens, Exactly, If Trump Is Sentenced to Prison?” [Ankush Khardori, New York Magazine]. The lead: “In the moments after the verdict, Donald Trump would not be hauled off to prison right away. White-collar defendants are typically allowed to remain out on bail pending sentencing, which means, in the case of our former and maybe future commander-in-chief, that he could continue to campaign for president in the meantime. But let’s game it out: If Trump is found guilty, how long till he has to put on an orange (or, as we’ll learn, olive-green) jumpsuit?” • The sheer thirst in this piece is overwhelming. It’s like very high-class prison pornography.

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Haley (R): “Nikki Haley loses to ‘none of these candidates’ option in Nevada primary” [Washington Examiner]. “With 86% of the ballots tallied, “none of these candidates” had 63% of the vote, while Haley had 31%, and former Vice President Mike Pence, who dropped out of the race last year, netted 4% of the vote.”

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Biden (D): The stupid! It b-u-u-r-r-r-r-n-n-n-n-n-s-s-s!

Mutually reinforcing hysteria about brown working class people at the Rio Grande, nothing about H1B’s in Seattle and Palo Alto (“They’re just like us!”), and nothing, nothing at all, ever, about an asymptomatic, airborne Level Three Biohazard loose in the population, that’s already killed a million people and looks likely to kill a few hundred thousand more. (Yes, I know the population at the border is more, er, diverse these days. But the clichés are clichés because they express certain truths.)

Biden (D): “Counterpoint: Bidenomics’ rosy data vs. the price of Snickers bars” [Bruce Yandle, Orlando Sentinel]. “By many indicators that matter to a lot of brilliant economists, industrialists, financial analysts and Democratic Party politicians, “Bidenomics” is delivering the goods. But for rank-and-file voters, something is missing. Public sentiment about the economy has been rising lately, but it remains well below the pre-COVID years in respected measures like the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index. The mood, it appears, fails to match the latest 2023 real GDP growth estimates, which came in at 2.5%. Clearly, there is a disconnect, and we shouldn’t brush off the understanding of consumers who are more bothered by their job prospects or the prices of Snickers candy bars, ground beef or a tank of gas than they are impressed by Consumer Price Index trends. In fact, a closer look at the data reveals a picture more murky than rosy…. Writing recently on the disconnect in economic perceptions, economist Paul Donovan argued that we need a “Snickers bar index.” If politicians want to know how consumers really feel, they need to shop regularly at a typical grocery store, keeping an eye on the changing prices of Snickers (candy went up about 13% last year), ground beef and a pound of coffee. People buy and consume these things frequently; few scan or even care about Department of Commerce reports.” • I left out the part about Carl Jung on data v. understanding. A Mercatus Center dude quoting Carl Jung; that’s a turn-up for the books!

Biden (D): “Why Is Joe Biden So Unpopular?” [Sean Trende, RealCalerPolitics]. “Growth is over 3%, unemployment is under 4%, and inflation has fallen from its peak. So why the seeming paradox of an unpopular president in a time of strong economic growth, especially when the strength of the economy is itself a traditional predictor of presidential job approval? There are two reasons. First, we ought not fall into the trap that many commentators – especially political scientists – fall into of economic reductionism. Yes, it is ‘the economy stupid,’ as the iconic sign hanging inside Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters famously reminded his staff in 1992. Less well-remembered, however, the sign also listed ‘Change vs. more of the same’ as the first principle of the campaign, with ‘Don’t forget healthcare’ as an additional item. So people do care about the economy, but they also care about things ranging from the war raging in the Middle East to their overall perception of the president….. More importantly, commentators misunderstand the nature of inflation…. First, inflation is never “transitory.” Even after it is over, price levels rarely fall appreciably (indeed, deflation has its own problems). Consumers don’t automatically reset their baseline. So even if prices are level (and there is still inflation in the U.S.; it is just the rate that has slowed), people are still surprised when they pay $2 per pound for chicken, comparing it to when chicken was $1.44 for a pound in 2021. Second, inflation is constantly in our face. Every time a consumer goes to the store and makes a purchase, they’re reminded of the impact. This is true for gasoline, food, clothing – every commodity an individual consumes. That’s not to say other indicators don’t hurt; it’s just to say they are not felt as often. It isn’t just goods and services either. The main tool the Fed has to fight inflation – raising interest rates – has secondary and tertiary consequences…. [F]or a society accustomed to using their houses as ATMs when interest rates were low, it’s an unsettling change. For people who want to get into the housing market for the first time, it’s an even bigger problem. Finally, and most insidiously, inflation affects everyone…. Inflation hits you no matter what you’re purchasing. If your idea of a night out is dinner at McDonald’s, your extra value meals cost more. If your idea of a night out is Outback Steakhouse, prices were up by 5% in 2022 alone (though the beloved franchise has vowed to rein in price increases moving forward.) As for fine dining, my wife and I celebrated a special occasion at a fancy steakhouse in Ohio recently and shelled out around $80 per steak.” • $80 for a steak? Yikes! Does this match reader experience?!

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Biden (D): “Biden and the Democrats have a significant cash advantage” [MSNBC]. “Biden’s main campaign committee started 2024 with about $46 million in cash on hand, significantly more than Trump’s $33 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. To be clear, Biden’s lead over Trump isn’t massive, and around the same point in the 2020 election cycle then-President Trump had a whopping $102.7 million in cash on hand. But there are a number of reasons that Biden’s financial advantage may be particularly durable. While Biden isn’t facing a significant challenger in the primaries, Trump will have to spend money in the GOP primaries to defeat former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — who has a decent amount of cash on hand herself and could theoretically carry on for a while even if she continues to lose nominating contests. The bigger drain on Trump’s war chest, though, is his vast array of legal entanglements. The Trump campaign and affiliated political action committees reportedly spent around $50 million on legal bills for Trump and his inner circle. These efforts will continue to be a drain on Trump’s wallet, siphoning funds that would otherwise be spent on messaging, turnout and other campaign operations.” Lawfare working as intended, then? More: “Some — including my colleague Hayes Brown — would argue that Trump recoups some of his legal spending because his court appearances and his widely discussed legal arguments function as a kind of advertising for his presidential campaign and a way to boost his coffers. There’s some truth to that. But Trump’s ability to capitalize on his legal woes is waning: A new Reuters report shows that whereas his main fundraising group was once able to raise up to $4 million in a day around court appearances, by the end of last year those fundraising hauls sank to close to Trump’s overall daily fundraising average of $300,000.” • That should change when the cases begin; it’s interesting to think that Trump’s strategy of delay on the court cases might lead to a massive infusion of cash later in the election.

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“Why A Second Trump-Biden Matchup Won’t Be A Rerun Of The 2020 Election” [HuffPo]. “It’s easy to overlook the ways in which Biden-Trump 2.0 would be dramatically different from the first time around…. Back in 2020, the campaign took place right as COVID-19 was first spreading, creating a[n ongoing] once-in-a-lifetime [we hope] public health crisis. This election is unfolding amid a pair of violent international crises, the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. The main economic challenge in 2020 was to prop up the economy as the pandemic threatened to shut it down. Today, the main challenge with the economy is to keep it running without letting it overheat. Violent crime is now going down instead of up. Illegal border crossings are going up instead of down. And of course, in 2020, abortion was still a right throughout the U.S., albeit with restrictions. Now it exists only in some states, and is under threat in others. But there’s another, less obvious difference between 2020 and 2024, and it might matter even more. Today, we know a great deal more about the two men who are likely to appear on the ballot.”

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“Democratic and Republican elites fear RFK Jr.’s growing path to victory” [The Hill]. “34. That may very well become the symbolic magic number in the November presidential election. In what is shaping up to be a three-person contest between President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the question becomes: Which candidate can garner 34 percent of the popular vote or higher?… [B]y becoming the standard-bearer for the Libertarian Party, Kennedy would be significantly more likely to get on state ballots, including key battleground states… All of that hints at a very interesting political and electoral possibility. What if Kennedy — who “has no chance” and is only going to serve as a “spoiler” — not only runs on the Libertarian Party ticket and gets on key swing state ballots but continues to peel off more and more young and independent voters with a smattering of dissatisfied Democrats and Republicans? Some polls have already shown Kennedy at about 21 percent of the popular vote. With just over nine months to go before the election, what if he grows his support at just over 1 percent per month? Impossible?” • Gotta brush up on what happens if an election is thrown to the House.

“Third-party candidates could win Trump the White House again” [Unherd]. “Biden is six points ahead of Trump in a two-way national race, but the addition of RFK Jr., Stein and West reduces his lead to just two points in a separate Quinnipiac poll. Kennedy takes the lion’s share of third-party votes, 21%, compared to West and Stein’s 3% and 2%. December polling indicates that a three-way race involving RFK boosts Trump by five points, and it can safely be assumed that Stein and West primarily win votes from would-be Biden supporters. … Any impact of third-party candidates in heavily blue or red states would not bridge the massive margins that Joe Biden or Trump are projected to win in those states — only influence in swing states meaningfully impacts the election. ” • Handy chart:

That “three-way” locution is extremely unfortunate….

Spook Country

Democrats en Déshabillé

One of my favorite accounts, from Black Twitter days:

“Did Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal’s campaign make up dozens of false news stories?” [Philadelphia Inquirer]. “Rochelle Bilal ran for Philadelphia sheriff as a reformer in 2019, pledging to clean up an office long plagued by corruption, controversy, and financial irregularities so extensive that they gave accountants actual nightmares. Her first term in office has been bumpy, to put it mildly, as she has dealt with everything from whistle-blower lawsuits to a broken tax-sale system. But Bilal has been telling a different story on her campaign website. It features dozens of favorable headlines attributed to local news organizations such as NBC10, CBS3, WHYY, and The Inquirer, all listing the dates of publication. ‘This page,’ the site proclaims, ‘highlights Sheriff Bilal’s record of accomplishment during her time in office.’ One snag: No one can seem to find any of the supposed news stories…. By Friday morning, the link to the 31 phantom news headlines had been removed from Bilal’s main campaign site…. Reaction from communications ethicists and media studies experts ranged from ‘nutty’ and ‘really odd’ to ‘brazen’ and ‘outrageous.’ One theory: Maybe a campaign staffer used an AI chatbot to generate headlines about the sheriff.” • Oops. Makes me wonder what else we’ve missed….

#COVID19

“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!

* * *

Maskstravaganza

“Not wearing a mask during COVID-19 health emergency isn’t a free speech right, appeals court says” [Associated Press]. “‘A question shadowing suits such as these is whether there is a First Amendment right to refuse to wear a protective mask as required by valid health and safety orders put in place during a recognized public health emergency. Like all courts to address this issue, we conclude there is not,’ the court said.” • What a shame. “The right to infect others shall not be infringed.”

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“Phil Hellmuth Wants Ike Haxton to Take Off the Facemask: ‘This Isn’t Online Poker'” [Poker News]. “‘No one should be able to cover their face, unless you use your own hands to do it. This isn’t online poker. ‘Tells’ matter in live poker: it is a skill to hide your tells and another skill to read your opponent’s tells,’ Hellmuth wrote…. ‘When there’s six people left in a tournament, you don’t have any real concerns of COVID,’ Hellmuth continued.” Dear Lord. No, #CovidIsAirborne, and moves like smoke through the entire facility. Anyhow, the obvious solution is to mandate universal masking.

“Opinion: Hellmuth Should Walk Back His Comments About Ike Haxton’s Mask-Wearing” [Vegas Slots Online]. “Taking a bizarre shot against players who choose to wear a mask at the table, Hellmuth proclaimed that ‘no one should be able to cover their face’ at the poker table. He singled out Haxton as someone who he claims gains an advantage over his opponents by wearing a mask. It was a puerile take backed up by weak arguments about the importance of live tells. Haxton doesn’t wear a balaclava. He wears N95 Respirators and similar quality medical masks that provide respiratory protection to the wearer by very effectively filtering airborne particles. Hellmuth questioning his motivation is asinine and as Haxton rightly points out, poker writers that ‘both sides’ this story should be ashamed of themselves.” • Masks don’t “cover the face,” since our eyes — the windows of the soul — aren’t covered (at least by a respirator; we’re not going all Darth Vader here). Is Hellmuth really saying that eyes give no tells? And how come “nobody should be able to infect anyone else with an asymptomatic, airborne Level Three Biohazard” part of the discussion?

Vaccines

A good question:

Eliminate the “sterilizing” part, and capitalism will swing into action. A subscription-based nasal vaccine business model would be a surefire winner!

Sequelae

The labor market would like a word:

“Dang. I know I put those bolts somewhere!”

Elite Maleficence

I guess I have to follow US Right to Know more closely, because here they’re doing the Lord’s Work on airborne transmission:

Shorter: They knew. (Munster claims priority on #CovidIsAirborne as of February 20, 2020 — how long ago but Xi told Trump the same thing on February 7, according to Woodward.)

“Measles has exploded in Europe. Clinicians say it’s only a matter of time before outbreaks hit Canada” [CBC]. It’s almost as if there’s a common thread here, all these contagious diseases so suddenly. Anyhow: “But measles is exceptionally contagious. ‘Normally we think that, as long as somebody doesn’t cough in our face … or shake our hand with their, you know, snotty hand, we will be OK, right? ‘ [Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, division head of infectious diseases at McMaster Children’s Hospital] said. ‘That is sort of the rule for most respiratory viruses.'” • What is it with hospital infectioon control?

One more reason to avoid air travel:

What will they do? Eject passengers who care them?

“Long COVID research goes private” [National Public Radio]. “Proal doesn’t work for the government or a university. She runs a nonprofit called PolyBio Research Foundation. It’s funding much of this cutting-edge work thanks to $30 million donated by a Russian Canadian billionaire from the world of crypto.” • [bangs head on desk].

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

Cases
National[1] Biobot February 5: Regional[2] Biobot February 5:
Variants[3] CDC February 3 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC February 3
Hospitalization
New York[5] New York State, data February 5: National [6] CDC January 27:

Positivity
National[7] Walgreens February 5: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic February 3:

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

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

LEGEND

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.”

NOTES

[1] Yes, up, but we’ll want to wait until next week to see if there are backward revisions. I’d be more comfortable if some positivity figures were up, too, or the ER (UPDATE: It’s not). 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] 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.” 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 no longer aligns with wastewater data (if indeed Biobot’s spike is real).

[6] 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] 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

Supply Chain: “United States LMI Logistics Managers Index Current” [Trading Economics]. “The Logistics Manager’s Index in the US increased to 55.6 in January 2024, the highest in three months, from 50.6 in December. For the first time since September 2019, every metric is in expansion territory, led by an increase in the restocking of inventories (52.8 vs 44.3), especially for retailers, after a busy holiday season.”

* * *

Tech: “”Wherever you get your podcasts” is a radical statement” [Anil Dash]. Late to the party, but a welcome guest. “[B]eing able to say, “wherever you get your podcasts” is a radical statement. Because what it represents is the triumph of exactly the kind of technology that’s supposed to be impossible: open, empowering tech that’s not owned by any one company, that can’t be controlled by any one company, and that allows people to have ownership over their work and their relationship with their audience. See, podcasting as a technology grew out of the early era of the social web, when the norms of technology creators were that they were expected to create open systems, which interoperated with tools by other creators and even other companies. This was based on the successes of earlier generations of the internet, like email and even the web itself. Podcasting was basically the last such invention to become mainstream, with millions of people listening every day, and countless people able to create in the medium. And of course, it creates tons of oppportunities for businesses too, whether it’s people making amazing podcasts like Roman Mars does, or giants like Apple or Spotify building businesses around the medium. Contrast this to other media formats online, like YouTube or Tiktok or Twitch, which don’t rely on open systems, and are wholly owned by individual tech companies. On those platforms, creators are constantly chasing the latest algorithmic shifts, and are subject to the whims of advertising algorithms that are completely opaque. If a creator gets fed up enough to want to leave a platform, they’re stuck — those viewers or listeners are tied to the company that hosts the content. But in the podcasting world, creators can (assuming they work out the business deals necessary to do so) actually take their ball and go home, because the underlying ‘feed’ — the special file that podcasting apps look at to know when there’s a new episode — is something they can actually move over to a new system or a new host, without losing all their subscribers or followers. Indeed, this idea of having a ‘portable’ audience is so appealing that it’s even been revived in the new wave of open format-based social networks that have arisen.” • What the blogosphere used to be before the Robber Barons of Silicon Valley took over. Should be “social [inter]media[tion].” That way the rental extraction part — the flip side of which is the censorship part, that being the social media side hustle — gets neatly erased.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 6 at 2:26:21 PM ET.

The Gallery

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Art” [William Deresiewicz, Salmagundi]. “Art is for increasing life. That, I believe, after all the other purposes receive their due, is really what it’s for—why we revere it, why we give our hearts to it. What do I mean by increasing life? How can we live more, given that we can’t live longer? Through attention and intensity. Being fully present to the world, and feeling without reservation: the two things that making art requires and that experiencing it involves. “Being in love,” Tim Kreider writes, “is one of the only times when life is anything like art,” but the reverse is also true. Art is one of the only times when life is anything like being in love. Attention, intensity. It is also one of the only times when waking life is anything like dreaming. I awaken from a dream, from its saturation of meaning and feeling, its world of color and complete fulfillment, its crowd of presences, of distant friends, old lovers, dead parents, to the drabness of quotidian life, to the narrowness of my existence, to my same old dismal self. Oh yeah, it’s me again. How can I regain that paradise, which was here just a moment ago? Only through art: through music, through story, through the alchemy of verse. I was listening to Abbey Road the other day. Somewhere between “You Never Give Me Your Money” and “Golden Slumbers,” I finally understood Nabokov’s definition of aesthetic bliss: “a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.” It is in this respect, and this one only, that art is utopian….” • “Art is for” used as anaphora…. (Source of the “Thirteen Ways” trope.)

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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 BB:

BB writes: “This dahlia plant was seeded indoors in mid-April then transplanted outdoors; where it survived the munching rabbits. Then, after surviving a few light frosts, the dahlia plant finally bloomed late in the season.” Too all late bloomers everywhere….

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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.

83 comments

  1. Sub-Boreal

    The bloom is off the “critical minerals” boom in Canada before it even took off: How crashing metals prices are dashing Canada’s dream of leading in critical minerals.

    The story is paywalled, so here are key excerpts:

    The recent crash has been swift. The price of lithium carbonate has dropped to roughly US$13,500 a tonne, according to Argus Media, down more than 80 per cent in little more than one year. In response, existing producers and processors such as Liontown Resources, based in Australia, and Albemarle, based in the United States, have shelved a mine expansion and laid off workers.

    The price of nickel, meanwhile, has tumbled nearly 50 per cent over the same period, with three-month nickel futures falling to US$16,020 on the London Metal Exchange. Cobalt and graphite prices are struggling just the same.

    Cooling demand for electric vehicles is one of the driving forces behind the recent drops. The likes of nickel, lithium, cobalt and graphite are all used in EV batteries, and until recently the hope was that rising demand for electric cars would create an undersupply of these metals.

    Because the situation has turned so dire, some mining leaders are calling for the largest Canadian pension funds to step up and provide long-term capital that can withstand short-term market fluctuations.

    “If the pension funds invest more in the domestic resource sector, it would allow Canada to compete with Saudi Arabia, China and others,” mining industry veterans Frank Giustra and Pierre Lassonde wrote in The Globe and Mail this week. “Junior resource companies are like seedlings for our future mineral needs. We need to nurture them.”

    If one of those names seems vaguely familiar, here’s a memory jog.

    Reply
  2. Mikerw0

    FWIW, and I tend to not use NC for general horserace politics as the topic is way to depressing…

    I think Haley defies conventional wisdom and basically stays on a limited budget for quite awhile, likely funded by some rich guys. My logic is it’s low-cost to hang around the net and see if the party decides it needs to jettison Trump, say over his legal issues. Then she is the candidate standing to the degree there are functional party elders. That said, she is already persona non grata to MAGA-world, so she can’t harm herself any further.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Sounds like a formula for Biden re-election if that’s what the “party elders” (who exactly?) want. Haley has yet to establish she’s anything other than vaporware despite the boosterism of Noonan and the others. She just lost in Nevada to none of the above by 33 percent.

      Also while CNN etc love to dwell on Trump behind bars that now seems unlikely to happen in time for the election.

      Reply
    2. Feral Finster

      “I think Haley defies conventional wisdom and basically stays on a limited budget for quite awhile, likely funded by some rich guys. My logic is it’s low-cost to hang around the net and see if the party decides it needs to jettison Trump, say over his legal issues. Then she is the candidate standing to the degree there are functional party elders.”

      Either that or she is following in the footsteps of one Kamala Harris; that is, by saying the things that Team R bigwigs like to hear, she is positioning herself for a nomination in some future Team R administration.

      For that matter, Haley was a vocal and vociferous Never-Trumper in 2016, then Trump foolishly appointed her as UN Ambassador. So maybe she thinks that a President Trump will do something equally foolish once more. Lord knows that the man appears incapable of learning much.

      Reply
      1. KD

        For that matter, Haley was a vocal and vociferous Never-Trumper in 2016, then Trump foolishly appointed her as UN Ambassador.

        Perhaps, but what did she have to do to get that Ambassador post?

        Reply
      2. FlyoverBoy

        For a man who’s incapable of learning much, he’s brandishing a vastly more efficient campaign organization and a far more competent team of Supreme Court lawyers than before. Maybe he’s getting lucky. Twice.

        Reply
      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Lord knows that the man appears incapable of learning much

        In 2016, Trump did A/B testing in his speeches to find out which lines worked. Nobody capable of doing that is incapable of learning.

        Why people persist in believing that Trump — who vanquished not one but two party institutions in 2016, came within a few tens of thousands of votes of winning in 2020, and in the meantime completely remade the Republican party — is some sort of buffoon is beyond me.

        Reply
        1. Darthbobber

          Because he plays the buffoon very adroitly. Better than Boris Johnson, who also relied on tactical buffoonery as a calculated public persona.

          Reply
  3. Tom Stone

    I was thinking about the huge cost our Congresscritters would lay if they condemned the Genocide in Gaza.
    They wouldn’t be invited to the nice parties.
    People would say mean things about them
    It would be harder to get a good table in the best restaurants.
    Some might not get re elected, meaning they would have to spend time with what used to be their constituents.
    Weighing those drawbacks against the lives of 2,700,000 human beings and it is easy to see why even Bernie Sanders, the “Conscience of the Senate” have decided not to condemn the ethnic cleansing which they have enabled.

    Reply
    1. rowlf

      What happens if a bunch of Congresscritters come to the conclusion that as a group they can condemn the Genocide in Gaza and throw off their fetters and bridles from a foreign country?

      Reply
  4. Mikel

    “After the delta & 1st omicron surge in the US, my lab had to abandon cognitive screenings (memory) to assess study eligibility because tasks like subtracting 7 from 100 (93…86…79) was a barrier for COLLEGE students to enter. Of those who passed, most couldn’t perform the nBack…”

    What if Covid only amplified what was already taking place due to tech distractions and assorted meds?

    Reply
    1. Harold

      Agreed. My 88 yr.-old grandmother, a public elementary school teacher for many, many years, could rattle off subtracting 7 from 100 backwards with the greatest of ease, though she was patently suffering from dementia in other areas.

      Sadly, she lived to be 95, if you can call it living, at least she wouldn’t have called it living and it was terrible for all of us, too. She used to say, “If I can’t read, shoot me!”

      I don’t think I could do it, or ever could have done it, at least not rapidly.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal

        generally, I have noticed a pattern–and I think regardless of their use of technology–of those educated earlier in the 20th C being able better to retain stuff they learned, from multiplication tables to important dates in history to verses from famous poems which they can recite from memory. Rote memorization fell into disfavor, maybe in the 70s?

        Today I asked a new patient (60 yo) to perform the task and after saying, “I don’t think I can,” she rattled off the correct numbers down to 72 at which point I stopped her. Many many younger patients cannot get to 86 (and this is before the pandemic too, before smart phones, before the ubiquitous internet)…

        Reply
        1. Cassandra

          People in their sixties learned a number of basic skills– addition, subtraction, making change– before cheap calculators were everywhere. People who were not necessarily academically inclined just *knew* that there was a reason that a 25 cent coin was called a quarter and that if someone gave you a dollar bill for a 75 cent item, you gave one of those coins back. Those screening tests called for subtraction of sevens because it actually required some mental effort rather than being a spinal reflex.

          Fast forward a few years and credit card sized calculators were everywhere for $2.99. Registers at fast food outlets not only calculated the total and the change due, they would often spit out the requisite coins. A couple of decades later, people didn’t really need to remember details because google would supply a page of relevant articles in a fraction of a second. Good times…

          So it is not surprising that people under fifty might struggle with that test. Having said that, I am very much afraid that the aftermath of universal Covid infections will exacerbate the effects of 21st century life on cognition and attention, to the point that technology can no longer compensate for it.

          Reply
  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Many ways of looking at art (even more than thirteen) by the estimable William Deresiewicz. In a sense, he is offering a long Whitmanesque poem, with deep breaths and sidetracks and observations.

    To sum up: Give us bread and give us roses.

    To sum up: The end of Angels in America, “And I bless you: More life. The great work begins.”

    Reply
    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      A question of art and love (as Deresiewicz notes), from the timeless Marianne Moore.

      “The Paper Nautilus”

      For authorities whose hopes
      are shaped by mercenaries?
      Writers entrapped by
      teatime fame and by
      commuters’ comforts? Not for these
      the paper nautilus
      constructs her thin glass shell.

      Giving her perishable
      souvenir of hope, a dull
      white outside and smooth-
      edged inner surface
      glossy as the sea, the watchful
      maker of it guards it
      day and night; she scarcely

      eats until the eggs are hatched.
      Buried eight-fold in her eight
      arms, for she is in
      a sense a devil-
      fish, her glass ram’shorn-cradled freight
      is hid but is not crushed;
      as Hercules, bitten

      by a crab loyal to the hydra,
      was hindered to succeed,
      the intensively
      watched eggs coming from
      the shell free it when they are freed,—
      leaving its wasp-nest flaws
      of white on white, and close-

      laid Ionic chiton-folds
      like the lines in the mane of
      a Parthenon horse,
      round which the arms had
      wound themselves as if they knew love
      is the only fortress
      strong enough to trust to.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Art is entertainment–high or low. Greatness is highly overrated and often based on the assumption that people who are good at writing stories or using language or brushes or cameras or (actors) “their instrument” have profound views on the meaning of everything.

      Of course we need imaginative stimulus to form our own views about what is going on and in that sense the arts are highly valuable and arguably necessary.

      Pauline Kael once wrote that even bad movies give you something. She was certainly capable of slinging around “great” herself, but also the great debunker of previous fashions in taste. Taste, she said, is “the great divider.”

      Reply
      1. Feral Finster

        Is it not taught from old that the difference between High Art and low art is that the lowbrow crowd will put up with many things, but they will not suffer being bored.

        By contrast, High Art connoisseurs are perfectly ready and willing to be bored in pursuit of a sufficiently noble goal.

        There is a social and economic class angle here that needs to be explored further.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          You are only talking about high bad art. That’s not what I mean at all. Being boring is a great sin in all the arts. As I just said it’s entertainment.

          Of course how people choose to be entertained us where taste comes in.

          Reply
          1. Feral Finster

            I said nothing about good or bad art. It is possible to have interesting high art, but the willingness of the audience to suffer boredom is the source of high/low distinction.

            Reply
            1. Carolinian

              So you think those people paying high dollar to pack into the Metropolitan Opera are bored? I don’t think so even if that was the Marx Brothers version.

              High/Low merely refers to the breadth of the potential audience, not the attention span.

              Reply
            1. Retired Carpenter

              Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water
              “Boring” is only in the brain of the beholder.

              Reply
      2. DJG, Reality Czar

        The distinction between so-called high and low art is pure Anglosphere. It is trotted out by pseudopopulists to defend their poor judgment and by pseudosophisticates to defend their poor judgment.

        “Good at” — that means technique. Technique matters. The problem with U.S. films, though, is that they have devolved into being all technique and no story.

        Art that matters has a great deal of force. Art that matters makes its own rules and structures. Great art is often quite weird, quite strange.

        I’m thinking of pieces as weird and wonderful as Veronese’s Banquet at the House of Levi, Manet’s Déjeuner sur L’Herbe, Colette’s Chéri, Leaves of Grass by Whitman, Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, Angels in America by Tony Kushner, and Midsummer Nights Dream by That Guy from Stratford.

        Two of the greatest films of all times share that weirdness and sense of inventing themselves: “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” arguably the best film made in the U.S. of A, plus “Children of Paradise,” that remarkable mixture of all kinds of forms and plots, deftly laid down by Marcel Carné with an assist from the estimable Arletty.

        “High and low” are for doctoral students.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Sorry but I don’t think you remotely get what I’m saying. Kael–one of my heroes–made her reputation by going after pseudointellectuals and theories about art. In this view you educate your taste via experiencing lots of art. This gives you the measure of what is original and imaginative and what isn’t. And if it doesn’t have some spark of originality then it isn’t doing it’s job of expanding our own imaginative experience of the world.

          BTW she did like Children of Paradise. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes….seriously?

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Manet’s Déjeuner sur L’Herbe,

          Bourdieu, in his book on Manet, says that one reason “Déjeuner sur L’Herbe” was such a scandal is its size: It’s painted on a canvas the typical size for a pompier painting, commissioned, if I have this right, by officialdom to be hung in a public space.

          Reply
      3. HotFlash

        Re: ” Greatness is highly overrated and often based on the assumption that people who are good at writing stories or using language or brushes or cameras or (actors) “their instrument” have profound views on the meaning of everything.” I worked at an art school for a few years back in the 70″s, and have known many fine musicians.. Amazing how people who could draw a likeness or convey a tune somehow figured that made them philosophers.

        Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Had the most amazing sunrise last week and unlike other art it was fleeting, perhaps 5 minutes from when it was forming, to pedestrian looking clouds after one hellova show. I doubt it has ever been replicated, unique.

        Hard to put a price on such a viewing as it was free of charge-you just had to be there.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Western sunrises have been one of the great pleasures of my road trips. Where I live we don’t get nearly enough sky.

          Reply
  6. Feral Finster

    Why Is Joe Biden So Unpopular?” [Sean Trende, RealCalerPolitics]. “Growth is over 3%, unemployment is under 4%, and inflation has fallen from its peak…”

    Even taking those stats as given, growth is less than inflation. So even if your wages were somehow pegged to growth, you’re still worse off than you were.

    Reply
    1. Ranger Rick

      I’m beyond being impressed by how these political commentators cannot even conceptualize that “growth, unemployment, and inflation” mean nothing to the average voter who makes no more money now than they did 30 years ago, took a ~20% pay cut since 2019 in YoY inflation increases in food, energy, transportation, even entertainment, to say nothing of rent and interest rates or medical care and medicine. (If they’re lucky, wage earners get a 1-3% COLA raise per year…) They’re looking at these top line indicators and trying to divine something that a ground level view would say is misleading at best, objectively false at worst.

      Reply
      1. Reply

        Political commentators have to cut expenses, too.
        They are reduced to spin out of, or into, whole cloth.
        Anything for the Emperor’s wardrobe.
        /s

        Reply
      2. FlyoverBoy

        Getting even simpler, who doesn’t think that basic yardsticks like the GDP, Consumer Price Index and unemployment rate have been gamed into near-meaninglessness?

        Reply
        1. Objective Ace

          I dont think theyre meaningless. The problem is these metrics dont say anything about the distribution of the economy. That’s what Biden and the commentators are completely ignoring. All of the gains go to a selectively smaller and smaller group of individuals

          Reply
      3. Amfortas the Hippie

        and aren’t things like food, fuel, etc specifically excluded from the calculations that go into measuring “inflation”?
        like, on purpose, because they’re deemed “too volatile”?
        sigh.
        must be nice in those mirrored bubbleworlds…maybe i’d never want to venture out, either.

        Reply
    2. Henry Moon Pie

      Maybe this supposed disconnect will awaken some to the fact that GDP is a crappy measure of citizen welfare. The bankers and the billionaires need GDP growth to feed the capitalist monster, but while falls in GDP do foretell suffering on the way for us plebes, rises offer little to no benefit. Are the tent cities shrinking? Are the public schools thriving? Is everyone getting the medical and dental care they need? GDP has been rising dependably since 2010. How much progress has it meant on any of those more meaningful measures of citizen welfare?

      Reply
    3. Delmar Hawkins

      Biden, “Putin’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine has cut off a critical source of wheat, corn, barley, oilseeds, and cooking oil. It has also disrupted global supply chains for fertilizer, which farmers depend on to maximize yields.”

      Really? Biden’s sanctions are what cut farmers, your wallet and your stomach off from the above. That’s why grocery prices have doubled, so far.

      Fertilizer Makes Headlines

      Purdue University-CME Group’s April Ag Economy Barometer showed producers experienced a challenge in sourcing fertilizer for 2022. The survey found 34% of producers reported trouble purchasing inputs, which is up 7% from surveys conducted in March. //

      “We’re going to see what actions we can take to increase fertilizer supplies globally,” says Biden. “We’re also going to see how we can work together to prevent export restrictions on food and agricultural inputs and bring more global production to market which will stabilize prices and bring more certainty to our farmers and keep people from dying of hunger.” U.S. imported more than 97% of its potash fertilizer from Russia. No potash, no flowers, no flowers, no fruit. Thanks Joe.

      https://www.agweb.com/news/policy/politics/biden-double-crop-because-we-cant-take-any-chances

      “Russia’s wheat production has risen by more than 60% over the last decade to make it the world’s largest exporter. It is expected to account for more than 20% of global wheat trade in the current 2022/23 season, thanks to competitive prices and ample supplies.” Not for Americans. Uncle Joe has cut you off from that.
      https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/have-western-sanctions-russia-impacted-its-wheat-exports-2023-05-11/

      All you crybabies whining about high food prices. Why didn’t you buy Ratheon stock? Woulda more than paid for the inconvenience of expensive food.

      Reply
  7. William Beyer

    Regarding the price of a Snickers bar…I sold DQ Dilly Bars in 1966 for a dime, receiving a $0.02 commission on each unit sold. A single bar is now $2.89. I can’t believe the CPI is up 29x since then, but maybe I’m wrong.

    Reply
  8. Lee

    “Democratic and Republican elites fear RFK Jr.’s growing path to victory” [The Hill]….• Gotta brush up on what happens if an election is thrown to the House.”

    Contingent election [Wikipedia]

    In the United States, a contingent election is used to elect the president or vice president if no candidate receives a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed. A presidential contingent election is decided by a special vote of the United States House of Representatives, while a vice-presidential contingent election is decided by a vote of the United States Senate. During a contingent election in the House, each state delegation votes en bloc to choose the president instead of representatives voting individually. Senators, by contrast, cast votes individually for vice president.

    So, each state gets one vote for president depending on a majority vote of U.S. house reps in each state. This would seem to boil down to which party holds majorities within each state. I think this gives the Rs the advantage. If someone would be so kind as to provide an actual count, I would appreciate it. Maybe I’m using the wrong search terms but I don’t seem to be able to easily find an answer. And easy is all I’m up to at the moment.

    Reply
    1. Ben Joseph

      it can safely be assumed that Stein and West primarily win votes from would-be Biden supporters.

      As an anti authoritarian pacifist, my rank list is West then Kennedy then stein then trump with Biden behind writing in daffy duck. Stein behind Jr because I fear she’d cave to the deep state orientation guide.

      Reply
  9. diptherio

    Hellmuth is a well known loudmouth and whiner in the poker world. Every time he doesn’t win a hand he takes it as a personal insult. Definitely the most childish man playing the game at a high level. Nobody takes his kvetching seriously. And no pro is making facial tells anyway…they call it a poker face for a reason.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > no pro is making facial tells anyway…they call it a poker face for a reason

      What an excellent point! I should have thought of this (and so, I would imagine, is anyone else with any sense).

      Reply
  10. Reply

    $80 steak?
    Never had one, but have heard tell of such. Massaged Kobe or Wagyu beef, or is a new competitor on the horizon?
    That fits into what some call an expensive, er, digestive cycle. :/

    Reply
    1. Ed S.

      A quick eyeball of the Ruth’s Chris Steak House (upscale chain steakhouse) dinner menu shows steak prices from a low of $52 for a petit filet (8 ounces) up to $148 for a “Tomahawk” porterhouse (40 ounces). Strip steak and ribeye at $59 and $67. And that’s just the steak. Completely a-la-cart menu, so with sides, wine, tax, tip probably around $120+ per person minimum.

      A quick look at an truly upscale place (Alexander’s Steakhouse) shows a Tajima F1 Strip steak (from Australia) at $155. Real Wagyu is on the menu but with no price listed (and priced in 4 ounce increments). Interpolating from the tasting menu ($195 per person + $100 per person for wine) that includes the Tajima F1 Strip indicates an additional $80 if you want real Japanese A5 wagyu. So probably somewhere around $250 for the steak – but at least you get leeks, mushrooms, and potatoes at Alexanders.

      Reply
    2. rowlf

      Two years ago I got to tag along to a Dallas steakhouse after a trade show as my boss was being recruited by another company. The food was fantastic and the waiter was as or more professional than what I have experienced in my travels in France (and other countries) with business associates.

      A nice neighborhood to visit on someone else’s expense account.

      (Steaks in Brazil and Argentina are great too.)

      Reply
      1. griffen

        It’s been well over a decade when I lived there in the DFW metroplex, and my career took a southerly route after 2009 but I will echo the above. Dallas and Plano did have excellent steak restaurants.

        Del Frisco’s. Bob’s in Plano Wow, those were great. It is from another life, it almost seems !

        Reply
  11. LawnDart

    Re; Sequelae

    So (long) covid can demolish a person’s ability to think and to reason, but it can also prevent that person from even recognizing that there is a problem (anosognosia).

    Airborn stupid-pills… the uninfected shall inherit the earth– if the overwhelming onslaught of mass-stupidity doesn’t kill them as well.

    Reply
    1. CanCyn

      This is my worry. We can protect ourselves from COVID (for the most part) but how do we protect ourselves from brain damaged people building things badly, doing repairs badly, driving poorly, etc that our lives depend upon???

      Reply
      1. Lee

        I would venture a guess that those of us in who live in high density populations will be, both literally and metaphorically, in deep sh*t.

        Reply
      2. Late Introvert

        My thoughts too. Good thing my default mode is stay home and avoid people, but that only gets you so far. Will be flying later this spring for a funeral .

        Reply
  12. Pat

    The thing about newsfeeds is that they show you more articles about subjects you have clicked on so take the following with a grain of salt.
    I have read multiple articles about grocery store chains closing locations even entire chains closing. In every single one there are sections about how this has a detrimental effect on areas. Some even mention food deserts, and this isn’t always about the areas we are used to hearing about food deserts in. I think this is an example of why politicians and commentators are totally mistaken in thinking statistics tell the real story. But the statistics they use tell the story they wish was the reality. But people worry about food. Paying for it being a big one, but sometimes it is even about getting food. People who have to be careful with their spending, even if it is not on the knife edge, really do not need to have to travel to get it. And this is just one example of not understanding.

    I am beyond tired of idiots treating responses they do not understand like they are inexplicable when they haven’t bothered to look beyond their own experience and the result they want. They could figure out why Biden isn’t popular if they forgot statistics and actually looked at people’s lives outside of their immediate circle.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > have read multiple articles about grocery store chains closing location

      Big newsfeed fan here. If you have any RSS feeds that cover topics like “grocery store chain closings” feel free to send them along!

      Reply
  13. annie

    my impression over the years is that you, carolinian, are capable of highly original perspectives on all sorts of material but when you fall back on kael it’s as if you’re trapped in some outmoded love affair. yes, kael’s early work at kpfk and her early books were such fun, a breath of fresh air in the mostly stale (american) critical film world. but not all that much later, imo, she too became an dogmatic auteurist, one often touting an inferior pantheon and thus missing some of the best new work. it was sad to watch, and she was not served well by her coterie of paulettes who relied on and parroted her judgements.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Oh I agree. Success turned her into the queen bee of the Paulettes and are we really supposed to love all those DePalma movies? She started out as an outsider and became an insider.

      But I think that early stuff is brilliant and her reliability as an essayist is what made her a great writer.

      Reply
      1. Lee

        I have found this commentary highly entertaining and have been artfully lead to finding about some new stuff. NC commentariat rocks.

        Reply
  14. Fastball

    The “brilliant” economists, industrialists, et al also couldn’t understand why Hillary Clinton failed so badly in the 2016 election against a buffoonish game show host. And remember, Hillary Clinton was running around saying things like “Medicare for all will never, ever happen”. I submit their chutzpah is blinding them, just as Israel’s chutzpah is blinding.

    Reply
    1. ForFawkesSakes

      We, The People, determined that Madame President Clinton “will never, ever happen” and we’ll be punished for it as long as they hold power.

      Reply
  15. Paradan

    So San Luis Obispo, CA., which is about half-way between LA and SF, just got a Tornado warning. Best part of the announcement was when they recommended that we take shelter in a basement. CA housing almost never has a basement, when I was kid I told it was for earthquake safety.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Sounds pretty dire. Stay safe out there.

      San Luis Obispo County
      By: Vivian Rennie , Dave HovdePosted at 3:51 PM, Feb 07, 2024 and last updated 4:01 PM, Feb 07, 2024
      The National Weather Service briefly issued a Tornado Warning for parts of coastal San Luis Obispo County on Wednesday afternoon. It expired at 3:50 p.m.

      At 3:36 p.m., the National Weather Service reported that severe thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado were located along a line extending from Morro Bay to 14 miles southwest of San Luis Obispo, moving east at 55 mph.

      Locations impacted were Morro Bay, Diablo Canyon, Los Osos, and Cayucos.

      Recent Stories from ksby.com

      Take shelter now if you are within the area of the warning. Stay away from windows This is part of a much larger line of storms that will march across the region quickly. We expect more warnings to be issued as this pushes east.
      https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/tornado-warning-issued-for-parts-of-san-luis-obispo-county

      Reply
    2. Late Introvert

      Grew up in Tornado country. My parents told me and I told my kid if you’re outside avoid trees and head for low ground, a ditch is ideal. Indoors, a bathtub is probably your best bet or a sturdy closet. If you hear a train coming, duck down low.

      Reply
  16. Googoogajoob

    One more reason to avoid air travel

    I can lend a little comment here as someone who underwrites commercial business insurance – it’s highly unlikely that any Insurers for Airlines/Airports (or broadly any commercial space) will be paying out a red cent on this. Shortly after the pandemic there was a mad rush to add in exclusions for communicable dieseases and lets face it they will not walk it back.

    That being said though, even prior to those changes I think there is a genuine practical issue of proving negligence when one is infected by Covid. Being able to credibly demonstrate where and how one was infected is a heavy lift on its own (and iirc many jurisdictions passed liabilty protections too for businesses from Covid)

    I do sympathize with the sentiment tho – it’s unfortunately a set of circumstances where parties can be reckless and deficient but never be made to hold the bag for their actions (or lack thereof)

    Reply
  17. Jason Boxman

    On cognitive ability, he also said:

    Mind you, we chalked it up to the stress & trauma of the pandemic at the time. We also had no evidence that our participants were ever infected but based on the demographic, lack of mitigations & nationwide statistics, I think it’s safe to say all/most were infected 1+ times.

    So as alarming as this might be, and I tend to believe most alarming things about COVID infections, in this case we don’t have positive PCR tests to prove a COVID infection is at play here. That said, there’s plenty of other evidence that a COVID infection absolutely effects the brain, as we’ve seen in imaging scans, and other cognitive tests, and various anecdotal evidence.

    Reply
  18. Jason Boxman

    New Report Raises Concerns About Long Covid in Children (NY Times via archive.ph)

    Surprised to find this.

    “Long Covid in the U.S., in adults and in kids, is a serious problem,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, chief of research and development at the V.A. St. Louis Health Care System and a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who studies the condition but was not involved in the new report. He said that the paper, which drew on numerous studies of long Covid in children, is “important” and illustrates that the condition can affect multiple organ systems.

    Holy s**t.

    The new review suggested that 10 to 20 percent of children in the United States who had Covid developed long Covid.

    (bold mine)

    What else can you say about this, depravity inflicted upon the young? What words are there, for an elite that despise their own country people so deeply? It’s casual eugenics.

    But don’t worry.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the prevalence of long Covid closer to 1 percent of children who have had Covid. (The estimate in adults is 7 percent.)

    That’s still a huge number. And will that number increase as children are infected two, three, or more times every single year, for their entire lives?

    But let them get sick:

    Generally speaking, most parents should not be worried that their children will develop long Covid, said Dr. Stephen Freedman, a professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine.

    No mention of mitigations, of any kind, at all, anywhere, just this.

    There are no drugs approved to treat long Covid, so doctors focus on managing symptoms and helping patients function day to day. Some doctors will prescribe medications to address issues like headaches and muscle pain.

    Never forget, we can end this in 60 days, with a true cessation of capitalism for that duration, provision of material benefits based on need, and the Federal Reserve making all payments clear, no matter the ability to pay.

    Good luck with that.

    Reply
  19. Carla

    Re: AP story on “the ‘right’ to not wear a mask — Lambert, I read that story a couple of times, and don’t understand your commentary at all.

    The story said (several times) “the court found that refusing to wear a mask during a public health emergency didn’t amount to free speech protected by the Constitution.”

    In other words, the right NOT to wear a mask is NOT protected by the Constitution.

    You apparently read it differently, and I’m hoping you can help me understand how I got it wrong.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I read this as plaintiffs claiming that the First Amendment allowed them NOT to wear a mask and that the Court wouldn’t accept that. Hence my ironic addition, but perhaps unclear, that restates plaintiffs’ ideology: “The right to infect others shall not be infringed.”

      Have a misread? I should find the case and read it; I wonder if it’s being appealed (supported by some winger foundation).

      Reply
      1. Carla

        Thanks for the explainer, Lambert. I thought you were summarizing the decision and of course that made no sense to me.

        Reply
  20. Jason Boxman

    Must read tweet on this.

    There’s been a lot a talk comparing HIV and SARS2 but they also have some important differences…

    Long and thorough.

    We haven’t really had something do such widespread damage in the modern era and leave people alive, but the big difference is that SARS2 is its own opportunistic pathogen while HIV is not… so when SARS2 wipes out your immune system…

    Can’t emphasize enough. Read this. Avoid infection.

    https://x.com/doneford/status/1755208576845643874?s=46

    Reply

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