2:00PM Water Cooler 2/8/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Evening Grosbeak (type 4), Silverthorne; Wildernest subdivision, Colorado, United States. “Several different male Type 4 Evening Grosbeaks highlighted in [t]his cut, giving flight calls and trill calls. Many finches in the area on this day (Pine Grosbeaks, Cassin’s Finches, rosy-finches, siskins), exhibiting many different singing behaviors. Some may be in background of this cut besides the species listed.”

* * *

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)

For those who like to watch, alert reader marym provides these links to the oral arguments for Anderson today at the Supreme Court:

Rick Hasen Live Blog of Oral Arguments in Trump Disqualification Case at Supreme Court (Refresh This Page Frequently for Updates), Election Law Blog

Live Oral Argument Audio, Supreme Court of the United States

Hat tip to alert reader GH for going through the amici briefs; perhaps the questions will reveal which briefs the Justices (and their clerks) engaged with.

* * *

“Section Three Is Not A ‘Political Question'” [Reason]. “We note that in the Trump v. Anderson litigation, both the Colorado District and the Colorado Supreme Court found Section Three to be justiciable and Trump has not pressed a political question argument in his Supreme Court merits briefs.” • This time Trump seems to have competent counsel, so that’s that. A counter-argument Trump’s lawyers have not made:

“The Only Way Trump Stays on the Ballot Is if the Supreme Court Rejects the Constitution” [John Nichols, The Nation]. • Nichols makes the tired argument that determining if a candidate is an insurrectionist is as simple as determining their age. And by tired, I mean deeply bogus to anybody not taking The Nation Petri Dish Cruise. To repeat: Insurrection is a crime under 18 U.S. Code § 2383.” If determining whether Trump was an insurrectionist were cut and dried, Trump would have been charged with it. Why didn’t Jack Smith or anybody else do that? Because they looked at Trump’s fingers and thought they weren’t all that short? Because they didn’t think they could win the case, that’s why. And if Nichols thinks disqualifying a candidate on any standard less than “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a recipe for either “establish[ing] justice” or “insur[ing] domestic tranquility” (United States Constitution, Preamble), I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you. Musical interlude.

“‘Judged by history’: Trump’s 14th Amendment fight at Supreme Court poses an enormous test for John Roberts” [CNN]. “For any chief justice, the best outcome is usually one that yields a unanimous vote – or something close to it. When it comes to the election case, many experts believe his easiest path will be a narrow decision in which Trump remains on the ballot and the Supreme Court avoids sweeping conclusions about Trump’s actions. ‘It would be much better if it was unanimous and it didn’t look like a partisan decision,’ said Tom Ginsburg, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and co-author of a 2018 book about the threat of democratic decay. ‘The challenge for Roberts is to take a jurisprudential route that will get nine votes.’ That may involve looking for legal “off ramps” that settle the case in a limited way. The court, for instance, could rule that the insurrection ban doesn’t apply to presidents or that it requires a law from Congress to be enforced.

“6 key questions in Supreme Court fight over Trump’s ballot eligibility” [Politico]. “The trial court judge who heard evidence in the Colorado case concluded that the events did amount to an insurrection — and easily so. Higher courts are usually highly deferential to that sort of fact-finding. About 1,300 criminal cases have been filed over the events of Jan. 6. No one has been charged with committing the specific crime of insurrection, though about 14 have been charged with or pleaded guilty to a related charge of seditious conspiracy. Notably, when the Justice Department, through special counsel Jack Smith, brought a criminal case against Trump last August over his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, there was also no insurrection charge.” • Odd, eh?

“Supreme Court could toss Trump eligibility dispute to Congress” [Roll Call]. “Trump and Republican members of Congress have argued in briefs that the 14th Amendment requires Congress to approve ‘implementing legislation’ to authorize enforcement of Section 3. The Colorado Republican Party also has backed that argument that the so-called insurrection clause is ‘not self-executing,’ which means that Congress must pass a law to permit individuals to sue under the provision. A Supreme Court decision that sided with that argument would leave it to Congress to pass such a bill before anyone — Trump as well as other candidates in future elections — could be barred from holding office under the 14th Amendment. The political realities on Capitol Hill make that exceedingly unlikely during this presidential campaign, but the question would remain open going forward.” • There are many more entertaining scenarios in the article, but that one seems the most likely.

“The Supreme Court’s Colorado Trump Test” [Wall Street Journal]. The case for Trump, concluding: “The best course for the country would be for the Justices to settle this case on the narrow legal issues, and not to enter the political fight over whether Jan. 6 was an insurrection.” Baude and Paulsen dispute this, as they must. And the Trump team doesn’t make the argument that insurrection is a political question. But more: “The Justices don’t need to go there if they find that Section 3 doesn’t cover the President. A 9-0 decision would send a unified message to the country that Colorado is wrong on the law.” • It would, but much depends on the nature of the decision. My guess is that there will be a lot of yammering about court-packing.

* * *

“Another Trump case at the Supreme Court? His argument for immunity could be a tough sell” [USA Today]. “A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday forcefully rejected Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution for the potential crimes tied to trying to stay in office despite losing the election…. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan had scheduled Trump’s trial for March 4, but suspended pre-trial deadlines and eventually postponed the trial date as Trump’s appeal unfolded. The appeals court said the suspension will expire Monday unless Trump asks the Supreme Court to keep it in place by then. At that point, it will be up to the high court whether to keep the case on hold while it decides whether to hear the case. ‘It puts the Supreme Court in the hot seat, gives Trump only six days to write this petition on an emergency basis, and it’s going to be one of the most significant things that the Supreme Court does in relation to the 2024 election,’ said Rick Hasen, a professor and election law expert at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.” • I wish I could 100% reject Trump’s immunity claim. However, in some Third World countries, laws are written with a view toward later entrapping political enemies (I suppose the Radical Republicans did something like that to Andrew Johnson with the “Tenure of Office Act”). I would veiew this possibility as extremely remote, were it not for the fact that the New York law that enabled E. Jean Carroll to sue him, which was passed by a Democrat legislature and signed by a Democrat governor, seemed tailored to enable her to do so (perilously close to a bill of attainder). In countries where the rule of law is a real thing, Presidential immunity makes no sense at all. In countries were lawfare is the rule, maybe it does.

“Jurors, Not Voters, Could Give Biden a Second Term” [By Ron Faucheu, CNN]. FIling this here, and not 2024. “The recent Bloomberg/Morning Consult poll of seven critical swing states shows Trump receiving 48% of the combined vote and Biden getting 42%. The survey also finds that if Trump is convicted of a crime, 18% of his own voters in these key states would be unwilling, very or somewhat, to stick with him. That may seem like a small number, but in electoral terms, it could be decisive: If Trump loses 18% of his current vote in swing states, he drops from 48% to a little over 39% – a number low enough for Biden, at 42%, to overtake him. You ask: If Trump loses votes based on a guilty verdict, where would these voters go? Biden wouldn’t get many, if any. A portion could stay home and not vote, which hurts Republican candidates down ballot. The biggest chunk of disaffected Trump voters would likely move to independent candidate Robert Kennedy Jr., who Republicans regard favorably and widely view as a protest vehicle. Bloomberg/Morning Consult polling finds that 50% of Trump’s current supporters in key states have positive feelings toward Kennedy, with far fewer holding negative views. This scenario, far from certain but still possible, would give Kennedy a chance to run up his vote total higher than current polls indicate. But as long as the race is seen as a competitive Trump-Biden contest, any Trump losses ultimately help Biden win.” • “The Supreme Court leads the election returns….”

“Justice Jackson has weighed in on more legal questions of Jan. 6 rioting than any other Supreme Court member” [CNN]. “Then-Judge Jackson ultimately handed the rioter cases she was assigned off to other judges when she left the [DC] district court after President Joe Biden elevated her to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. But her statements from the period immediately following the attack offer an indication of how she might approach the riot in the Trump ballot case. ‘Many of the attendees of this rally were lured to the Capitol Building itself,’ she said at a March 2021 hearing for Texas rioter Christopher Grider (he was later convicted). ‘They participated in what many scholars and commentators have characterized as an armed insurrection … If there is a more serious offense in terms of who we are as a society and the democratic order that is at the core of our constitutional scheme, I don’t know what is.'”

* * *

“A Legal Outsider, an Offbeat Theory and the Fate of the 2024 Election” [New York Times]. “In the world of American legal scholarship, Seth Barrett Tillman is an outsider in more ways than one. An associate professor at a university in Ireland, he has put forward unusual interpretations of the meaning of the U.S. Constitution that for years have largely gone ignored — if not outright dismissed as crackpot. But at 60, Professor Tillman is enjoying some level of vindication. When the U.S. Supreme Court considers on Thursday whether former President Donald J. Trump is barred from Colorado’s primary ballot, a seemingly counterintuitive theory that Professor Tillman has championed for more than 15 years will take center stage and could shape the presidential election. The Constitution uses various terms to refer to government officers or offices. The conventional view is that they all share the same meaning. But by his account, each is distinct — and that, crucially for the case before the court, the particular phrase ‘officer of the United States’ refers only to appointed positions, not the presidency.” • I like the human interest stories, this dude, the 91-year-old lady, Graber, but I think the fundamental question is this: Why did the Democrat fraction of the political class instantly and pervasively frame the Capitol Hill riot as a quote-unquote “insurrection”? I don’t remember the first example of this “classification struggle,” but I wrote against that characteristic only 16 days after January 6, “The Organizational Capacity and Behavioral Characteristics of the Capitol Rioters (First Cut)“, concluding:

So, now that we’ve looked at the organizational capacity of the rioters (poor) and behavioral characteristics (inexplicable to me, which doesn’t mean inexplicable), what again was the Capitol Seizure? Given that the question-and-answer “What’s the plan? I have no idea” seems accurate, “riot” seems far more appropriate than “insurrection,” let alone “coup.”

Such “schooling behavior” is highly characteristic of the PMC, even moreso in the political class, but the impetus is unknown. Perhaps the Election Integrity Project’s wargame?

Biden Administration

“A State of the Union for the Middle Class” [William Galston, Wall Street Journal]. “This brings me to what for you must be the most bitter pill: Running on your record probably won’t be enough to win. While your list of legislative accomplishments is long, many of the effects won’t be apparent until well after the election, and what voters see now hasn’t persuaded them that you merit a second term. This stubborn fact leads to my core advice: Your State of the Union address should focus mostly on the future. Here are two examples of what you can offer. First, you should underscore your determination to attack high prices head-on. You’ve made a good start by capping the cost of insulin, enabling Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and going after junk fees. But as I’ve argued in previous columns, you should expand the battle to include persistently high food prices, which reflect (among other factors) oligopolies in key food sectors such as meat and poultry and decisions by major food companies to maintain their expanded profit margins long after pandemic disruptions disappeared. Your administration has had little to say about high housing costs, which prevent many couples with young children from buying their first homes. Governors around the country are beginning to address this problem, and you should too… Second: Roughly 6 in 10 voters haven’t completed a four-year college degree and won’t ever do so. You need to offer them a credible plan to enhance their incomes and social mobility. A college degree represents one path to the middle class, but, as you have rightly insisted, it shouldn’t be the only one.” • Do it, or Trump will?

2024

Less than a year to go!

* * *

Trump(R): “Inside Donald Trump’s Incredible Cash Crunch” [Daily Beast]. “Donald Trump is just days away from getting slammed with a court judgment that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars as a punishment for his decades of bank fraud with the Trump Organization. And two little-known New York laws could leave Trump scrambling for cash: a requirement that he immediately front the money to appeal the decision, and a sky-high state interest rate. During a deposition with the New York Attorney General in April 2023, Trump boasted that he had $400 million in cash, bragging about how it’s ‘a lot for a developer.’ But even if that were true, it likely won’t be enough to simultaneously cover last month’s $83 million verdict at his rape defamation trial—which he needs to immediately set aside to appeal that case—and the $370 million demanded by the AG for his incessant lying to banks. While the judge deciding the bank fraud case hasn’t come up with a final figure that Trump owes, every indication is that it will be into the hundreds of millions. A message from the judge on Tuesday actually suggested it could be even more than what the New York AG is seeking. Trump’s sudden cash demands are exacerbated by a quirk in New York law. Not only would the judgment get automatically inflated by an unusually high interest rate of 9 percent, but Trump would need to give the court the enlarged total—plus an extra 10 to 20 percent—in order to appeal and have another day in court. And it would all be due by mid-March.”

* * *

Biden (D): “Biden classified document probe ends without charges” [Politico]. “Regardless of the findings of Hur’s probe, criminal charges for Biden were unlikely because of longstanding Justice Department legal opinions effectively precluding charges against a sitting president.” • Wait. Don’t all the arguments for indicting a President when they’re out of office apply for when they are in office? Rule of Law, and so forth?

Biden (D): “Biden claims German leader who died in 2017 attended 2021 G7 meeting – as he mixes up dead European leader in SAME story for second time in a WEEK” [Daily Mail]. “President Joe Biden has again claimed he was speaking with a dead dignitary at the 2021 G7 Summit – marking the second time in a week the president has appeared to reference meeting a deceased leader. The 81-year-old president, speaking in Las Vegas Monday, told an anecdote about attending the summit in England in June 2021, where he referenced speaking to French President Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996, instead of current leader Emmanuel Macron.”

Williamson (D): “Longshot Biden challenger Marianne Williamson drops out of race: ‘Much to be grateful for'” [FOX]. “Longshot Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has suspended her presidential campaign. Williamson announced that she will no longer be pursuing the White House in 2024 in a video posted to X, formerly Twitter, Wednesday night. ‘I read a quote the other day that said that sunsets are proof that endings can be beautiful too, and so today, even though it is time to suspend my campaign for the presidency, I do want to see the beauty and I want all of you who so incredibly supported me on this journey – as donors, as supporters, as team and as volunteers – to see the beauty too,’ she opened the video saying.”

* * *

“Democrats sound alarm, take action against Biden’s third-party threats” [WaPo]. On RFK Jr. at the upcoming Libertarian conference in CA: “I get the feeling that he [Junior] wants to feel it [the ballot line] out,’ said Angela McArdle, the chair of the Libertarian National Committee, which has welcomed the attention. ‘We love the courageous stance he took against lockdowns and mandates, but foreign policy is the biggest hurdle that he has to overcome.'”

The five-way (from 270toWin):

I’ll have to track this; the thing to watch for is a slow increase in RFK Jr’s share.

Interesting chart on media mentions (from Brookings):

RFK Jr. seems low.

* * *

“Lawmakers see blue-collar voters as key in Biden-Trump rematch” [Roll Call]. “Working-class voters of today are like those of the 20th century in that many lack a college degree. But they are different because many are no longer working in unionized manufacturing jobs, which have declined substantially in recent decades. Nowadays, the broad term covers workers in industries like retail, personal services, health care, food services and similar sectors. And these days, many are not members of a labor union — but they do have a political preference. ‘While working class voters harbor reservations about both political parties, they align more with Republicans than with Democrats on most of the matters that concern them,’ according to the Brookings Institution’s William Galston, a former Clinton White House aide. In New Hampshire’s GOP primary, Trump dominated among voters without a college degree, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Because many aim to one day start their own business, hurdles like permitting and regulations mean ‘they are less instinctively pro-government than were members of the working class in the long era of Democratic dominance that stretched from the 1930s through the 1960s,’ Galston added.” • I think “many” is doing a lot of work, there. Hard to imagine constructions workers whinging about hard-hat regulations, for example. Or railworkers wanting less regulation? I don’t think so.

* * *

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Those Are People” [Atrios, Eschaton]. “One of my firm belief is that our politics would be greatly improved by shutting off cable news in Congressional offices. This was obvious to me 20 years or so ago when I first paid a visit to some of those offices. Things like ‘the border crisis’ are a crisis because they are on teevee, not because of anything real, and while I don’t think my personal politics are universally popular, I don’t think allowing yourself to be led around by the worst people in the world (conservatives, shitty political journalists, and the democratic mercenary consultant class) is the smart play, either.” • Atrios left the spooks off his list (and the NGOs (and the Censorship Industrial Complex))

“A local redistricting battle in a New York City suburb may lead to a national fight” [NPR]. “In Nassau County, voters of color and white voters tend to prefer different candidates. And the number of people identifying as white and not Hispanic has dropped more than 11% over the past decade, as Black, Latino and Asian American residents now make up more than a third of eligible voters. But on the current map for the county legislature, those voters of color make up the majority of eligible voters in only four out of 19 districts, or less than a quarter. The map’s challengers argue there should be six such districts. ‘The white voice always seems to overpower our voices. And I feel like if we’re not represented as whole, the representative will go to that powerful white voice before they listen to our concerns,’ says Jordan-Awalom, who wants to keep her village united in one voting district. ‘We have had the same fight for so long, so obviously we’re not being heard. And I think it has to change.’ That change, she hopes, will come through an unprecedented way of directly challenging a local voting map under a state voting rights act — an emerging tool that advocates hope can help fortify the rights of voters of color as opponents continue to chip away at protections against racial discrimination under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.”

#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!

* * *

Morbidity and Mortality

“Excess natural-cause mortality in US counties and its association with reported COVID-19 deaths” [PNAS]. “In the present study, we estimated that approximately 1.2 million excess natural-cause deaths occurred in US counties during the first 30 mo of the pandemic. Nearly 163,000 of these excess natural-cause deaths were not reported to COVID-19. The relative gap between excess natural-cause mortality and reported COVID-19 mortality was largest in nonmetropolitan counties, the West, and the South. Contrary to prior literature which indicated that these gaps were mostly limited to the early months of the pandemic\, we found nearly as many excess deaths reported to non-COVID-19 natural causes in the pandemic’s second year as the first year… In the present study, we examined temporal correlations between reported COVID-19 deaths and excess deaths reported to non-COVID-19 natural causes. In nearly all Census divisions and metropolitan–nonmetropolitan categories, we found that increases in reported COVID-19 deaths correlated with increases in excess deaths reported to non-COVID-19 natural causes in the same or prior month (positive correlation at a lag of 0 and/or −1 mo). In many Census Divisions and metropolitan–nonmetropolitan, we also observed that increases in reported COVID-19 deaths correlated with decreases in excess deaths reported to non-COVID-19 natural causes… The temporal correlations we observed suggest that many excess deaths reported to non-COVID-19 natural causes during the first 30 mo of the pandemic in the United States were unrecognized COVID-19 deaths. Community-level awareness of COVID-19 mortality risk changed markedly with local peaks in reported COVID-19 deaths in ways that affected testing and surveillance, despite high awareness of the pandemic overall.” • Handy map:

Interestingly, the problematic areas aren’t nearly as concentrated in the former Confederacy as they so often are, in cases like this,

* * *

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 7: 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

“United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US fell by 9,000 to 218,000 from the prior week’s upwardly revised value in the February 2nd report, slightly below estimates of 220,000 but remaining firmly above the average from the last two months. In the meantime, continuing claims eased by 23,000 to 1,871,000 in the last week of January. Despite remaining firmly above the average from the last two months, the figures continue to point to a slowing albeit strong labor market.”

* * *

Tech: “FCC Makes AI-Generated Voices in Robocalls Illegal” [FCC]. “The FCC announced the unanimous adoption of a Declaratory Ruling that recognizes calls made with AI-generated voices are “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Greed (previous close: 75 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 8 at 1:33:37 PM ET.

The Conservatory

“Carmina Burana” [Michael Smith, Crying in the Wilderness]. Program notes: “Carmina has been popular for a long time, and everybody has heard at least some of it. It’s easy to like. To say that it’s accessible, however, is not to say that it’s trivial. The mediaeval origin of the texts clearly suggested some mediaeval compositional techniques – organum and fauxbourdon, and lots of parallel octaves and fourths and fifths. Melodic lines often recall liturgical chant. The harmonic texture can be shaggy, but it’s never arbitrary, and the voice-leading is always logical, though not always smooth. But a certain edgy angularity seems to have been what Orff was going for. The insistent rhythm is never monotonous, and Orff makes sure to leave a few bumps in the road, just to keep us all on our toes. He has his own idiosyncratic way of notating time signatures, and he switches a good deal among measures of three beats, and four beats, and five and six beats. Somehow he stitches these together in a way that seems reasonable and discursive rather than punitive (and there are other composers who fall into the latter category). In particular, the expansion of the measure in Carmina often seems to be a way of lending emphasis to some portion of the text.” • I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra play Carmina, back in the day, It was certainly rousing! What the heck, it’s only an hour long:

Don’t try listening during your afternoon nap, though!

Guillotine Watch

“Decabillionaire Dynasties: These Are The Richest Families In America” [Forbes]. “At a time when markets and asset values are soaring, and the number of billionaires seems to multiply by the day, Forbes decided to up the ante and rank only those families worth $10 billion or more. Forty-five multigenerational families made the cut. Altogether they are worth a combined $1.3 trillion. By comparison, just 36 families were worth $10 billion or more in 2020, the last time Forbes counted up the fortunes of America’s richest families. These extended families live all across the country in at least 23 states and are based out of hometowns ranging from Louisville, Kentucky to Wichita, Kansas to Racine, Wisconsin. But there are certain places where more of them can be found. New York City, home to the descendants of makeup mogul Estée Lauder (d. 2004) and publishing legend William Randolph Hearst (d. 1951) as well as the Rockefellers, has the most with seven. Chicago (four families) and Atlanta (three families) round out the top three.” Clans, like I’ve said. More: “Not all families have fared as well. Four clans who were worth more than $10 billion in 2020 have since lost their decabillionaire status. Among them: Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family (estimated net worth: $5.2 billion), whose offer to settle all OxyContin-related civil claims against them for $6 billion has been appealed to the Supreme Court. The descendants of New York real estate moguls Sol Goldman (d. 1987) and his brother Irving Goldman (d. 1995) also dropped $7.7 billion to an estimated $5.5 billion fortune, due to significantly lower property valuations revealed as part of an intrafamily legal dispute among Sol’s children.”

Class Warfare

Class consciousness:

Reminds me of this classic clip:

News of the Wired

“My experiment in phonelessness was a failure. It also changed my life” [Guardian]. ” I’m currently on my phone for 90 minutes a day. Five of those are spent on Instagram. I no longer feel addicted.” Oh. More: “Another slow burn has been the increase in time spent reading. I think it’s also the reason I no longer lose whole days on Instagram. Opening any social media apps now, they strike me as … silly. Maybe concentration really is a muscle – that hungers to lift heavier things as you build it. Of course, plenty of people enjoy both. This isn’t to say all social media content is shallow and pointless! (Even though I do think that!)” And: “For any capitalism fans, I must note that my freelance income has risen, and I’m more productive. I don’t find it helpful to vilify tech companies so much, and no longer personify my phone. The shiny, infinite-content machine is not a muse, cold lover or nemesis. It’s a tool. More than anything else, it’s a barometer of my discontent. When I notice that weight in my hand, the pull toward distraction and escape, I try to diagnose what’s really going on with me.”

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, 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 Carla:

Carla writes: “Some large plants silhouetted in a January sunrise — rare in Cleveland! (The winter sunrise, not the trees!)” Wow!!

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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.

108 comments

    1. Michael King

      Thank you for these links. Her behaviour and that of provincial health minister Adrian Dix is the main reason we are not voting NDP come the next election (it will be Green). They are truly world-class sociopaths.

      Reply
  1. ChrisFromGA

    Wall Street Desk:

    S&P 5k hats on order … Wall St. must fight … for the right … to party!

    (Kick it!)

    You wake up to more wars, man, them Houthis gotta go!
    You ask for cuts, please? But the Fed says no!
    You missed NVDA, and didn’t do your homework
    But this market gonna party like a Grammy winner twerks

    Wall Street must fight … for the right .. to party!

    Jay Powell on “60 Minutes” and he says, “no way!”
    But that hypocrite prints $3B a day!
    Man, dealing with FOMO is such a drag
    Watch your next door neighbor at a cocktail party, brag (bust it)

    Wall street must fight … for the right .. to party!

    Don’t bid up a bankrupt meme stock, chapter 7 beware!
    I’ll kick you out of my exchange if customer funds ain’t there
    The SEC busted in and said “Your 10-Q lies!”
    Ah, Feds are just jealous, it’s a dot-com reprise!

    Wall St must fight … for their right … to party!

    Parrrrr-tay!
    S&P 5K!!

    Melody (?) from “Right to Party” by the Beastie Boys

    Reply
    1. griffen

      Nicely done! Worthy of applause. But minor edit, that title is “Fight for your Right”. I’m certain Kansas City fans are waiting for the moment, quite possibly, that Kelce belts it out while holding their 3rd Lombardi trophy.

      And speaking of their music, Wall St does not want to hear “Sabotage” !!

      Reply
  2. Elijah SR

    I grew up on that block in Cleveland, surreal to see my old front yard on NC. Those sunrises are rare in the wintertime. Gorgeous picture.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      With Zhaluzhny gone, Zelenski will make a clean sweep of the officer corps so that only his supporters remain – or that is at least his plan.

      Reply
  3. Sub-Boreal

    Although the focus is on Canada, there are lessons here which are applicable to other fossil fuel producing G7 countries: A New Report Maps Canada’s ‘Daunting’ Path to Net-Zero Carbon.

    Original report is here. Also: summary version.

    The author, David Hughes, blows away the fairy dust and magical thinking in most mainstream energy scenarios. For many years he worked in obscurity in the Canadian federal government as the geological specialist in charge of compiling fossil fuel reserve estimates, but since his retirement he has blossomed into a much broader expert on all things related to Canadian energy policy. He has a real knack for cutting through the baloney. A few years ago, I brought him in as a guest speaker at our little College on the Tundra, and he didn’t disappoint, especially those who appreciate data-rich analysis rather than hand-waving.

    Reply
  4. Amfortas the Hippie

    being a fly-by, today…so not sure if this was noticed.
    Dugin weighs in:
    https://twitter.com/Agdchan/status/1755636653513683022

    it would be really, really cool if we, here in the heart of the empire, had actual lefties saying such things….let alone trying to accomplish such things.
    “Woke”-ism, and an hundred other diversionary and artificial dividing strategems have relegated the Left to obscurity…..like the Jedi, after the 3rd film.

    i know i sure feel like Yoda in his jungle hut, or Kenobi in his cave.
    (currently jamming Wagner’s Parsifal and the Grail Knights at the Wilderness Bar, while waiting for the carne guisada to thicken up in the big dutch oven)

    Reply
    1. Glen

      Breaking Points weighs in on the Tucker interview:

      Hillary MELTS DOWN Over Tucker, Putin Interview
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpqokbWQGXs

      So Hillary’s going with the “useful Idiot” rant. Funny thing is if I have to weigh how much the Clintons did to wreck America vs. Tucker, then we have to create a whole new category for the Clintons. How about “Essential Idiots”? All the NAFTA/deregulation/off shoring compared to one interview, it’s not even in the same league.

      And Putin and the whole Russiagate BS? More complete “Essential Idiot” [family blogging] crap going on there too.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        mom is firmly in Hillary’s camp, on this…Putin is a dictator, bent on taking over the world, etc.
        Because her newsgathering consists of msdnc on tv all day, and kos.
        and thats it…aside from the popups she gets about all the amazing government programs that my intransigence keeps me from taking advantage of.
        ive sent her links…even to videos of putin and lavrov from the kremlin website…to specifically compare and contrast what she’s hearing as translation, to what they say they’re saying.
        but she’s “afraid of russian malware”….bc some msdnc bot talked abt that that one time,lol.
        hopeless.
        i mean, she’ll argue with me if i say water flows downhill, and all…but still.(this makes her a great captive proxy for study of the PMC)

        Reply
      2. spud

        as long as the elites in america have to pay no price for their follies, the clintonites will get away with running the show long after they are out of office.

        the clintons took a meat axe to america, and today we see the results. its a long long slide down because of them, and that downhill slide is not done yet.

        Reply
    2. Dessa

      “Woke”-ism is just rightwing code for not hating minorities. If the left abandons this, what do they even stand for?

      Reply
      1. ForFawkesSakes

        Economic equality and universal healthcare will go a long way in deconstructing institutional barriers that minorities face everyday.

        The left needs to abandon identity politics and last focus on those issues.

        Reply
      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        woke is an attempt…so far sort of successful…to undermine the Actual Left and bog us down in useless bickering.
        its almost as if its a CIA op…as it gels, 1:1 with what they’ve done in other countries for like their entire history.
        read the various army field manuals about counterinsurgency…as well as the Jakarta Method.
        thats whats happening here…just more subtle, for now.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Stuff like wokeism, Black Lives Matter, cancel culture, MeeToo, etc. How much of that came onto the scene after the Occupy Wall Street protests were crushed by Obama? That later was all about class based protests and was actually a danger to the establishment. All of the former are in no way a serious challenge to the establishment so can be tolerated until, like a fad, they go away.

          Reply
          1. Dessa

            How do you plan to achieve class solidarity if you dismiss the genuine grievances and perspectives the underclassses? There is no revolution without black people (to name an example), and you’re never going to sell us on the idea that shit will be hunky-dory on race if only we abolish class. It’s a non starter.

            If you want to divide the left, start by telling black people that they shouldn’t be mad about George Floyd.

            Reply
            1. The Rev Kev

              It wasn’t the black people movement that was wrong. It was how quickly it all went away and you had a coupla of the leaders walking away after buying multiple mansions. That tells me that it was a hijacked movement.

              Reply
        1. Late Introvert

          And if you truly focus on class you end up friends with all kinds of different people from all kinds of places and races. Even, gulp, Christians and other conservatives!

          Reply
        2. Dessa

          Race is a class division. It exists alongside and intersects with labor class.

          It’s surely apparent to the educated commentariat here that it was invented to divide us, and was quite effective at that, but it is nonetheless a real thing today in the same way money is real and it needs to be acknowledged for us to have any hope of class unity.

          Reply
  5. Carolinian

    Turley with his usual summer upper.

    Jan. 6 was a national tragedy. I publicly condemned President Trump’s speech that day while it was being given — and I denounced the riot as a “constitutional desecration.” However, it has not been treated legally as an insurrection. Those charged for their role in the attack that day are largely facing trespass and other less serious charges — rather than insurrection or sedition. While the FBI launched a massive national investigation, it did not find evidence of an insurrection. While a few were charged with seditious conspiracy, no one was charged with insurrection. Trump has never been charged with either incitement or insurrection.

    The clause was created in reference to a real Civil War in which over 750,000 people died in combat. The confederacy formed a government, an army, a currency, and carried out diplomatic missions.

    Conversely, in my view, Jan. 6 was a protest that became a riot.

    In the court of common sense some of us have always said that blocking your opponent with judicial creativity violates the spirit of the Constitution more than whatever happened on Jan 6. But for those who believe the(ir) ends justify the means–i.e. R2P–then run it up the flagpole.

    Reply
        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          combine with the Vlahos thing i linked somewhere, re: Gracchii
          its getting pretty silly, that us little people understand the lessons of history rather better than our supposed Betters.
          i mean, whatsitgonnatake to crack a few of those mirrored bubbles?
          actual insurrection?(likely co-opt it to their ends)
          assassination?(ditto)
          how about a real general strike?
          well, we’d hafta sell the idea, far and wide, and avoiding altogether anything even resembling orthodoxy as to WHY….so as to get the most folks on board…and not get bogged down in the usual nit picking bullshit.
          so, that means we need a universal Cause, that crosses not only USA party and ideological lines….but also internationally.
          i sincerely wish that that could be “end the american empire, and focus on the homefront”….but the idea that we’re an empire is still(remarkably!) anathema in my country,lol.

          Reply
    1. dave -- just dave

      My reason for disagreeing with the “a protest that became a riot” interpretation –

      because it was coordinated with an effort aimed at blocking the electoral vote counting and slipping in some fake electors.

      Have I made this up, or did it happen?

      Reply
      1. Late Introvert

        In a very haphazard, and ultimately futile, manner. So challenging elections and then losing that challenge is now a crime I guess, but not when the Demrats do it.

        Reply
      2. spud

        voting against a the incumbent is a insurrection then. pulling a fire alarm during a congressional vote is for sure, a insurrection. occupying a federal building to show your displeasure at genocide, is a insurrection correct?

        the clintonites really did turn america into a banana republic with all the hallmarks of fascism.

        Reply
    2. jsn

      I think the Vox piece Lambert linked is a limited hangout by our Spook/Media. Its’ summary is a set up for future accusations which circumstances strangely facilitated on the considered day.

      Having listened to Carlson’s interview with the DC Chief of Police on 1/6 prior to it being paywalled on his new site, the production of 1/6 certainly seemed planned and coordinated, but not by the rioters or Trump.

      “Insurrection” didn’t turn up everywhere all of a sudden by accident and per the Vox piece a lot of expertise had been working on a strategy for that day for quite some time.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    Who should I run into on the slopes, but Disraeli, who is a pretty competent snowboarder. Now sharing a lift with him, Francois & Helmut

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      (Very obscure pun.) Does he ‘sponsor’ any Gear? [Tis the Cream of the Jest, or is it the Jest of the Cream?] Anyway, that’s enough of my flirtation with the Esoteric Cabell. {Despite Dom Manuel’s exhortations to “study the Cabella assiduously!” /And this being pooh poohed, even when Economists study patterns comprised of numbers, the sure sign of Economics being yet another Esoteric Science.\} But I digress…..

      Reply
        1. ambrit

          While singing “Tales of Brave Zelensky.”
          To think, the Social Contract was saved by a “Little Blue Dress” back in 1998. Now, the Grand Bargain beckons, leading us all into a Big Padded Cell. The inmates are running the asylum.

          Reply
          1. spud

            i think Lenin would have said let them finish off what bill clinton almost accomplished, the complete dismantling of the new deal, and a return to robber baron international economics.

            bill clintons medicare advantage will finally have its partner, cat food social security.

            what quicker way to bring down the whole shebang on their idiotic heads.

            same with the VAT TAX and the E.U., what the idiotic left signed up for getting rid of their sovereignty, and putting almost all of the financial burden onto the wage earner for trade, what could possibly go wrong:)

            Reply
    1. Carolinian

      If Trump appears to win the election in November and Democrats control Congress, there will be a serious effort to disqualify Trump when Electoral College votes are counted in January

      Huh? Isn’t that exactly what they accused Trump of trying to do in his “insurrection”? And if they disqualify him–for Jan 6 presumably–after the voters have spoken then who becomes president? The Republican VP?

      This sounds like a dopey hypothetical but that’s just me.

      Reply
      1. scott s.

        The Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2023 included a law, codified at Division P Title I [136 Stat. 5233] as “Electoral Count Reform Act”. The Act introduces a new piece of paper “Certificate of Ascertainment of Appointment of Electors” which each state/DC must submit to the US by the 6th day prior to the meeting of electors (to vote), copies of which must go to the electors. On electoral vote day (first Tues in Dec) the electors prepare their ballots and their copy of the certificate of ascertainment and forward via state executive (DC Mayor) to Congress. The law provides for specific judicial process for disputes of the certificate.

        The role of VP as President of the Senate is declared to be “ministerial” (denies the Eastman theory). Congress has only 2 grounds to object (requires 1/5th vote of each house):

        1. Electors not properly certified under certificate of ascertainment.

        2. Elector’s vote not “regularly given”.

        Each house meets separately to consider the objection, and each must vote to sustain the objection.

        In the event one or more elector votes have been objected to and sustained, the total number of electors is reduced by that amount (and number required for a majority modified). If there is no majority, then the procedures of Amendment XII to have the House vote by state for one of the top 3 as President.

        This act also allows states to change popular vote “election day” from that set by law (Tues after 1st Mon in Nov) , “as necessitated by force majeure events that are extraordinary and catastrophic”

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      We’ll see, but it looks like my thinking on this has not been wrong, at least as of now [lambert blushed modestly].

      When Trump couldn’t get decent lawyers on election theft, that should have told him to back off, but instead he bulled ahead with that pack of bozos. This shows what good lawyering can do.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      If through legal shenanigans they actually kick Trump off the ballot, what if he pulls a swifty by nominating Donald Trump Jr. to take his place. His supporters would understand that a vote for him is the same as enabling Trump to get into the White House by the side door and he is of the right age after all. It would almost be a standing joke for MAGA supporters that when they Shout Trump! Trump! Trump at a Donald Trump Jr. rally, that it would be really for the Don.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Let Michelle be the Democrat nominee and the MSMs will yell in lockstep; “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

        Reply
  7. Feral Finster

    Biden (D): “Biden claims German leader who died in 2017 attended 2021 G7 meeting – as he mixes up dead European leader in SAME story for second time in a WEEK” [Daily Mail]. “President Joe Biden has again claimed he was speaking with a dead dignitary at the 2021 G7 Summit – marking the second time in a week the president has appeared to reference meeting a deceased leader. The 81-year-old president, speaking in Las Vegas Monday, told an anecdote about attending the summit in England in June 2021, where he referenced speaking to French President Francois Mitterrand, who died in 1996, instead of current leader Emmanuel Macron.”

    Shouldn’t surprise you at all that Biden cannot remember and never learned the name of the guy who shines his shoes or the woman who brings him his coffee.

    Reply
    1. gk

      On the day he died, Mitterand is supposed to have said “It’s not death that scares me, but not being alive”. He should have been even more scared of meeting Biden after he died.

      Reply
    2. Lou Anton

      I think it reveals that Joe (heck, all politicians maybe) just make stuff up. The whole story was made up, his brain just grabbed the wrong name while he was spinning his yarn.

      Reply
    3. Benny Profane

      Best chuckle today is “elderly man with memory problems”. Actually topped Hailey getting beat soundly by “none of the above” the other day. Fun.

      Reply
  8. Dezert Dog, Rex

    I really like the variety of the trees in the Cleveland photo. My partner that lived in Cleveland says that it is normally cloudy there so I can see how wonderful a sunrise is. Five different kinds of trees makes it a diverse community to go along with the population that lives with them.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      In spring, summer and fall, Cleveland weather is generally pretty nice. But winters are a long, grey slog, except for the occasional surprising sunrise, and right now — a weak sun is shining at the end of the day!

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        so im having an ohioan week, then.
        cloudy and prolly warmer than yall(almost 70), but warmth is mitigated by cold wind, light(Thank Goddess for small favors), but cold…no matter which direction its from(NW this am, West, midday, finally SW, now).

        an aside…since he was real little, my Youngest has had a weird affinity for Ohio…football and basketball, but also wanting to go to school there….and we have zero historical connection to that part of the country.
        orange is his favorite color.
        lol.

        Reply
  9. Tom Doak

    In the five-way election poll, I do not understand the last column of “Other,” which recieves anywhere from 5% to 20% of the support. What “other” popular candidate is there?

    Reply
    1. irenic

      I think “none of your damn business” would be “other”.

      About a dozen years ago I received a call from a pollster and since I was fed up with getting so many calls like this instead of hanging up I took the call. When asked who I was voting for president I said I would rather not say. The pollster then said I will put you down as undecided. I said: no, i know exactly who I am voting for. It’s none of your damn business! He started to get very angry. I was going to respond with some choice expletives when I went with another tack. In my most condescending voice I said, Oh you must not be an American since we have secret voting in the USA. That shut him up and the call ended. Turning it into a rather satisfying exchange!

      Reply
      1. scott s.

        With the advent of “mail-in voting” there is no verifiable “secret voting”. Secrecy is just an option the voter has (and could be coerced).

        Reply
        1. marym

          I don’t believe that the thousands of ordinary working people across the country who review mailing envelopes for signatures and whatever else the state requires, open the envelopes, remove the ballots, handle damaged ballots, and store the ballots for counting, with documented procedural controls such as working in teams and having monitors in place are dishonerable.

          Reply
  10. digi_owl

    The combination of guillotine watch and class warfare today brings to mind Galbraith’s Age of Uncertainty, that this site’s commentariat reacquainted me with recently.

    I think he made a mention of how the robber barons of the gilded age spent quite a bit of care and attention to the cut and fabric of their wardrobes etc.

    If we are in another gilded age, we should take heed that the last one ended not long before world war one…

    Reply
    1. Late Introvert

      And WWII happened about a decade after The Great Depression. I was telling my friends and family that back in 2008-10.

      Reply
  11. flora

    re: Tech: “FCC Makes AI-Generated Voices in Robocalls Illegal” [FCC].

    Good. Very good. Regardless of one’s party or interest affiliation this decision is very good, imo. It sets a precedent for reining in future “near real” sound or video forgeries designed to mislead people.

    Reply
    1. scott s.

      How does one determine a voice was “AI-generated”? Seems to me that if there is an action for “voice forgery” (not sure how you define that) I don’t see the “how” it was forged as significant. Seems like existing N-I-L rights should cover this.

      Reply
    1. curlydan

      I once watched a Bulls-Knicks playoff game in the early 90s with the announcers muted and Carmina Burana in the background. Quite the experience.

      Reply
  12. Ned

    “Decabillionaire Dynasties: These Are The Richest Families In America”

    Few notice that San Francisco mayor, London Breed, a ‘po little black girl from the housing projects, is married to the heir to the second largest fortune in Asia.

    California is a community property state. Who do you think is funding the Democratic supermajority in California politics? Chinese connections abound. Diane Feinstein’s chauffer, Eric Swallowell and his PLA girlfriend, Fang Fang,
    Kamala’s connections when D.A. with the hideouos chain smoking slob, but man could she round up votes, Rose Pak, Chinatown “community” organizer, who has a new subway station named for her… the list goes on and on.

    https://www.detectmind.com/who-is-mayor-london-breeds-husband-lawrence-lui/

    Reply
  13. Lambert Strether Post author

    If in fact that Supreme Court goes 9-0 or 8-1 in Trump’s favor, that would been that Trump beat those Federalist Society weasels like a gong, and a gaggle of Democrat NGOs too plus the usual suspects in the press, a not unpleasing result, although a consequentialist might be appalled.

    Now, of course, the Democrats will try to delegitimate the court (making assumptions about legitimacy, I grant), when if they’d fought all those nominations tooth and nail from the beginning, the composition of the court would be very different.

    Reply
    1. Ranger Rick

      I’m expecting 24/7 wall-to-wall “we’re going to have a civil war” coverage from now until the next president gets sworn in, trying to bait some people into doing something stupid. I expect some scary file photos of Michigan militia members (as well as some old canned stuff from the BLM standoffs) to be paraded around on TV, followed by machine-generated militia members in various situations there would not be cameras in (the revolution will not be televised, after all) afterwards. Maybe sprinkle in some of those Texas border protesters in case people start feeling a little too threatened.

      Reply
      1. flora

        re:”…trying to bait some people into doing something stupid. I expect some scary file photos of Michigan militia members (as well as some old canned stuff from the BLM standoffs) to be paraded around on TV, …”

        ha. probably. And don’t forget the 45-to-55 year-old Black Panther photos and videos from back in the day. (Does anyone still wear black berets with black leather jackets?) / ;)

        Reply
  14. Ranger Rick

    It’s funny to see my comment yesterday echoed in an opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal of all places. One chuckles to think of the reaction of business leaders reading “state of the middle class” over a cup of coffee in the morning. A pat on the back for a job well done, perhaps.

    Reply
      1. Ranger Rick

        It was in response to a political commentator wondering out loud why people did not believe the economy was doing great despite all the metrics to the contrary. The 10,000 foot view can’t reveal what’s obvious to people on the ground, as the opinion piece goes to some lengths to illustrate. The price of food, medicine and a place to live are some of the very basic human needs in the US, but gets almost no attention compared to the price of gasoline. I kind of want to sneer at the reference to how “governors are starting to address [the housing crisis]” — in Colorado for instance, the governor caused quite a stir by unilaterally trying to overrule home-rule municipalities on zoning for residential areas.

        Reply
        1. Lee

          In California the state government has usurped local zoning powers. The result in my town, an island in San Francisco bay off the coast of Oakland, has been to build thousand of residential units on low-lying waterfront composed of landfill. Between liquefaction from an earthquake and/or inundation from sea level rise a whole bunch of people just bought themselves some quicksand futures.

          Reply
  15. flora

    re: Class consciousness.

    I’ll add this about the MBA/PMC class, though I know they are not absolutely identical. From The American Spectator (yes, center-right) about Newt Gingerich’s (yes, him) about a right-leaning Rasmussen Poll. I think this is important. Just because it’s Gingerich and Rasmussen doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Is it right? I don’t know. It does seem to describe the deep disconnect between the highly credentialed PMC class and especially the highly credentialed from the Ivy League schools, and the working class, aka Main Street and most other Americans working for a living and not in a rarefied strata, imo.

    Obama’s Awful Elite Unveiled by Rasmussen

    https://spectator.org/obamas-awful-elite-unveiled-by-rasmussen/

    Self-reflection doesn’t seem to be a PMC thing.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      From your link’s survey of Obama supporters

      53 percent would ban private air conditioning;(obviously those large cities they live in are above the Mason Dixon)

      Joe Biden has an 84 percent approval rating (genocide, what genocide)

      71 percent have a favorable opinion of the legacy media (Anderson Cooper and Maddow do a high five)

      The same number, 47 percent, say there is “too much freedom” in America (Nikki agrees)

      35 percent say they’d “rather cheat than lose a close election.” That number doubles among the ones who say they’re active in politics daily (so Trump was right about the election funny business all along? we should at least keep open the possibility)

      Oh and

      responses came from people who had graduate degrees (not just graduate studies), family incomes above $150,000 a year

      Reply
        1. nippersdad

          Putin just called the government and their allies a bunch of Philistines! With a few notable holes, he is doing very well.

          Reply
      1. notabanker

        Overall I thought it was pretty good and came away thinking there is no US elected official of that caliber anywhere, or at the very least, I am completely unaware of who that would be.

        He mentions Bush’s specifically, don’t recall any specific reference to Obama, and was asked about Biden. I don’t recall any mention of Trump or even his time in office. His core stance was that the war started with Donbas in 2014 and the violation of the Minsk agreements. He referred to that often.

        Regardless of the coming avalanche of a bajillion twitter hot takes on the validity of his points / stances / posturing it is fundamentally undeniable that this is the Russian view of the situation, and it seems to me to be a reasonable stance. Certainly something a competent global leader would be able to navigate through. Unfortunately, the collective west seems to be fresh out of those lately.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          I read the summary–will watch it tomorrow. Sounds like the talking points won’t be unfamiliar to anyone who hangs out around here.

          Which is to say that the background is already well known to those who care to investigate. Whether the addition of the Tucker factor will make any change in US actions and public opinion (already negative on the Ukraine war) remains to be seen.

          Reply
        2. nippersdad

          He was all over the place when talking about US presidents, often I could only tell the difference between the Bushs by his references to Condoleeza Rice, but he did mention all of them. He actually said that he liked and worked well with both Shrub and Trump, which I am sure will be something emphasized tomorrow in the press.

          He was also unclear about the coflict in “the Caucasus”, when he would have been better off for American consumption talking about Georgia and the conflicts in South Ossettia and Abkhazia.

          A few points that I think Putin dropped the ball on were things like failing to mention the European Security Agreements proferred to NATO and the US prior to Russian recognition of the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk. He had really teed up the R2P process when talking about the illegality of the action in Serbia, but then dropped the ball when he was about to relate that to the legal rationale for R2P, why they came in on the side of the Dobass when they did. Similarly, he missed the connection between the battle of Debaltsevo, Angela Merkel and the initial Normandy Process which led to the first Minsk Agreement.

          Lots of little dots that could have been made clearer, but all in all he did a great job of making his case. Two hours with no notes! I don’t imagine that a Biden interview like that would be anywhere near as informative, even as it might inadvertently be more entertaining.

          Reply
    1. Skip Intro

      Tuckerpocalypse is unfolding, with over 10million views in the 1st hour, Team Biden has called an audible, and rolled out the President, who has just ‘cleared’ his name of the charge of being capable of remembering classified materials.

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        “Tuckerpocalypse! Love that!

        Ten million views! Rachel is going to have fits:

        “People also ask

        How many people watch the Rachel Maddow show?
        In March 2018, The Rachel Maddow Show was America’s highest-rated cable news show, besting Fox News’ Hannity, with Variety stating that “Maddow averaged 3.058 million viewers for the month, narrowly topping Hannity’s 3.00 million.”

        He is already leaving them in the dust.

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      If Biden is ‘too old and infirm to prosecute for withholding secret documents’, then wouldn’t he also be too old to actually handle secret documents as a President?

      Reply
      1. nippersdad

        Now we all get to see how Trump is treated. Have to say, I just do not see a graceful exit from that debacle. When Betrayus stuffed a bunch of classified materials down his pants and gave them to his mistress for a book they were writing no one really did a thing, Obama got off, Biden just got off for senility….hard to say that Trump is not being badly treated.

        This is totally going to support Republican priors, so they are going to have to withdraw that case toute suite.

        Reply
  16. Lefty Godot

    It’s strange, but I saw a map online earier today (here?) of UFO sightings per hundred thousand people per county in the US. Can’t find it now. But the distribution of high percentage of UFO sighting counties strongly resembled the percentage of excess deaths not attributed to COVID-19 in the “Excess natural-cause mortality in US counties and its association with reported COVID-19 deaths” entry above. Just coincidence?

    Reply
  17. Screwball

    There is a freak out because an American guy interviewed a foreign leader, a report says our President can’t remember things, and the S&P 500 put on it’s 5000 hat.

    Ain’t America great?

    Reply
  18. griffen

    Inflation watch, adult beverages…Bud Light and Mich Ultra prices are on the rise. I went Monday, pricing was x.xx ( $19.99 ) and last night pricing was now y.yy ( $20.99 ), the comparison works equally for an 18 pack of 12 oz bottle or an 18 pack of 12 oz cans.

    Transitory inflation, my eye. Then there’s the annual insurance billing but I need to break more closely into that one.

    Reply

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