2:00PM Water Cooler 3/7/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, Biden’s SOTU is at 9:00pm. A live blog post goes up at 8:30pm, at which point this link will work.

Bird Song of the Day

River Warbler, Boetelerveld, Overijssel, Netherlands. Like chamber music.

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Some readers asked for something table of contents-like, so here are a few highlights amidst the density:

Bright Shiny Objects

(1) A hard-core originalist looks at Anderson.

(2) Super Tuesday wrap-up from Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

(3) Much well-meant advice for Biden.

(4) A fine rant on “our democracy” considered institutionally.

(5) LSD gets “breakthrough status” at FDA.


“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)

“The Originalist Disaster in Trump v. Anderson” [The Originalism Blog]. “The Supreme Court opinion says that nothing in the Constitution delegates to the states the power to disqualify federal candidates. But this is obviously mistaken under the original meaning. The Constitution says that ‘each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.’ This provision allocates to the states the power how to run their presidential elections. State legislatures could decide not to hold elections at all but could assign their electoral votes to the candidate of their choosing. States have broad authority to structure their presidential elections. While this authority might be subject to other constitutional limitations, the Court does not point to any such limitation here…. It is true that presidential elections have come to be viewed as national elections. This view has led many people to view the electoral college as inconsistent with such national elections and to argue for a national popular vote method instead. But that is not the system that the Constitution establishes. Instead, the Constitution grants significant authority to states over presidential elections. That is the original meaning.”

Biden Administration


Less than a year to go!

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Super Tuesday: “What Stood Out from Super Tuesday” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. ” If Trump’s weaker areas were bluer, higher-education bastions, indicating his ongoing problems within his own party with more moderate white collar voters, Biden’s weaker places were a mix of different kinds of places. While Biden won 85% in Texas, for instance, his shares were much weaker in South Texas, a traditionally Democratic area that swung hard to Trump in 2020. In North Carolina, “no preference” got 37%, its highest county-level share, in Robeson County, an Obama-to-Trump area that we have previously profiled in the Crystal Ball. These are places where the national Democratic brand has weakened among more conservative Democratic voters, some of whom (like in North Carolina, a party registration state) are registered Democrats who vote Republican in general elections (Biden still got 87% statewide). Biden also saw some protest votes presumably on his left, like in Minnesota, where Biden only got about 70% statewide, and “uncommitted” got about a quarter of the vote in Ramsey and Hennepin, the core, dark blue Twin Cities counties. All that said, and as we wrote last week, there probably is a bit too much straining going on to use primary results as predictors of the fall. While one can find weak points for both Biden and Trump, these were generally dominant performances befitting of an actual incumbent lacking a major challenger and a quasi-incumbent whose lone remaining rival, Haley, just has not shown much appeal to the core of the GOP.” • Knowledgeable, perceptive, granular, as befits Sabato. So sad that Amy Walter paywalled everything at Cook Political Report, the other font of non-hysterical wisdom….

Super Tuesday: “Biden and Trump? What a waste of the Super Tuesday primaries” [Los Angeles Times]. “Super Tuesday became a thing in 1988 in part because Walter Mondale had gotten trounced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and Democrats in the South wanted a stronger say in the primary, to balance out the influence of the earliest standalone contests with a cluster of votes on the same day. Democratic Party leaders were not immediately swayed; they put up Massachusetts’ own Michael Dukakis in 1988, who proceeded to get thumped by George H.W. Bush. What the back-to-back shellacking represented was growing pains. Finally, in 1992, Super Tuesday delivered on its promise, when Bill Clinton emerged victorious — after getting off to a rough start in Iowa and New Hampshire — by learning how to craft a message of coalition building. That’s how he won support of Black voters and the LGBTQ+ community. That’s how he won over the white working class as well. The same for Barack Obama, whose primary with Hillary Clinton produced vigorous debates about foreign and domestic policy leading into their Super Tuesday matchup. Voters in Democratic primaries had a real say that year about what they wanted the nation to look like. Tight control by timid parties saps all the democracy out of the democratic process.”

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Trump (R): “Trump calls for debate with Biden” [Anadolu Agency]. “Former US President Donald Trump challenged President Joe Biden to a debate, saying Wednesday that he is ready to face off against him ‘anytime.'” And even better: “Trump said he would be doing a live, ‘Play by Play, of Crooked Joe Biden’s State of the Union.'” • That’s original!

Trump (R): “Trump is rolling. But here are the 4 potholes still ahead” [Politico]. “Here are four major landmines that await him.. [(1)] Trump’s conglomerate of political groups collectively spent more than they raised in 2023, blowing through tens of millions of dollars on legal bills rather than accumulating cash in an off year. The former president still had $30 million in his campaign account as of Jan. 31, according to his most recent report with the Federal Election Commission. But that is far less than the $92.6 million he had at this time in 2020 and puts him at a considerable disadvantage compared to Biden, who had $56 million in his campaign account.” So lawfare works. More: “[(2)] Trump’s calendar in his criminal cases is in disarray, creating logistical challenges for his campaign…. Depending on how other cases shape up, Trump could end up spending considerable more time in courtrooms following the GOP convention in July. But if other cases continue to be delayed — something he’s benefited from as of late — Trump may not spend a single day torn between the campaign and his trials. It will be weeks or months before there is any clarity.” I would imagine better “in disarray” than all being tried at the same time? And: “[(3)] Trump will continue to face pressure to outline his position on abortion, which has become kryptonite for Republicans in recent elections. The former president has so far avoided articulating in public whether or not he supports a national abortion ban, something that Democrats have vowed to campaign against in the upcoming election.” Finally: “[(4)] After a bruising primary, Trump could face challenges in wooing the suburbanite voters who backed Haley.” • College-educated suburbanites, too….

Trump (R): “Trump Never Lost Control of GOP. He Only Tightened His Grasp” [Philip Wegmann, RealClearPolitics]. “The vanguard of Trump 2.0, Greene came into Congress pledging fealty to the former president. ‘They tried to call me fringe,’ recalled the Georgia Republican who began her time in office right after his exit and then achieved her own celebrity in the wake of Jan. 6 as ‘the RINOs reared their ugly head and tried to regain control.’ But the insurgency was short lived, and soon during his exile, colleagues started asking her for selfies. And then advice. ‘Now they come up and ask,’ she reported, ”how do I get ahold of Trump? Do you know who I should contact on his team? I’d really like to go down to Mar-a-Lago to endorse him.” Greene, perhaps the most loyal MAGA lieutenant in Congress, finds the ordeal understandable but ‘pathetic.’ As Trump continued his march through the early states, more and more members of the House GOP caucus ‘are bending the knee trying to make amends.'” • “Reported”?

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Biden (D): “Biden Can Still Win — If He Runs Like Harry Truman” [Politico]. “Several months earlier, Clark Clifford, a West Wing aide, and Jim Rowe, who formerly worked in FDR’s White House, drafted a 47-page memo that provided the framework for Truman’s comeback campaign. They recognized that the Democratic coalition was a messy collection of ethnic and interest groups, including Jews and Catholics, Southern white supremacists and African Americans, white ethnic union members and farmers. They observed that with the decline of urban and statewide machines, it would be increasingly difficult to glue the constituent parts together — but it could be done. Truman would have to offer something for everyone: Civil rights for Black Americans, recognition of Israel for Jews, strong union protections for urban workers and federal grain storage programs for farmers — an issue that seems niche to the modern eye but was of primary importance to the farm belt in 1948. They also encouraged Truman to play mean — against the Republicans, to be sure, but also against former Vice President Henry Wallace, who was running to his left on the Progressive party ticket. Their memo offers a surpassingly relevant playbook for Biden today.” • Biden’s not going on any whistlestop tour, though, nor delivering hundreds of speeches….

Biden (D): “Bernie Sanders’s private warning to Biden about the 2024 campaign” [WaPo]. “In the roughly hour-long meeting, Sanders urged Biden to affirm the public’s frustration over the economy and focus on identifying the political opposition to enacting the president’s agenda — such as big businesses and pharmaceutical firms — rather than convince the public they should be pleased with current circumstances. Sanders also quoted to Biden a line from a 1937 address by Roosevelt, still two years from the end of the Great Depression: ‘I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.’ Sanders has personally reiterated the message multiple times since then, including in another meeting at the White House with top officials last week, the people said.”

Biden (D): “Biden’s 2024 advantage: An alliance of elites rigging the game” [New York Post]. “Unlike Carter, who really was the Democratic front man, Biden is a sock puppet for an institutional conglomerate that exercises enormous influence over our national politics, our government, and our culture. The elites who inhabit these institutions like to speak of the arrangement as ‘Our Democracy,’ which roughly translates into ‘given our obvious moral and intellectual superiority, we must be allowed to govern in perpetuity.'” Readers will recall that I’ve been muttering about “our democracy” for some time. This is the first full-throttled assault on the term that I can recall. More: “They have the tools to make it happen, too — wearing the appropriate masks and disguises, they often impersonate the popular will…. The options available to Our Democracy are, in reality, far more tentacular and oppressive than crude ballot-stuffing. It can, for example, take a lie and make it echo and thunder for years, like the half-million news articles published about Trump’s supposed criminal collusion with Russia. Or it can take the truth and bury it so deep that it has suffocated to death by the time some determined soul unearths it — think Hunter Biden. How is this done?” Good question! The Answer: “Well, here is a partial roster of the institutions Our Democracy controls at the moment: the White House, half of Congress, the federal bureaucracy, the scientific establishment and expert class in general, the old prestige media, the new digital media (minus Twitter/X), the universities, the arts and entertainment world, and famous corporations from Coca-Cola to Nike.” • The New York Post, of all people, left out the spooks?! (Granted, “partial roster,” but come on.

Biden (D): “It’s Not Just That Biden Is Old” [The Atlantic]. The deck: “It’s that he’s being reckless.” And: “Even many of Biden’s biggest defenders say privately that they didn’t expect him to run again. Biden himself suggested as much. ‘Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,’ Biden said at a March 2020 campaign rally in Detroit. He called himself a ‘transition candidate.’ Sarah Longwell, the Bulwark publisher who has conducted focus groups across the political spectrum, told me last September: ‘It seems pretty implicit in the way voters talk that they didn’t expect him to be a two-term president.’ I’m struck when I speak with exasperated Biden voters by how often they bring up the ‘bridge’ quote and the ‘transition candidate’ line. This suggests that they viewed their past support for Biden as an emergency proposition—and that his ongoing presence violates an implied bargain. Sure, politicians are always trying to keep their options open. But you can understand how voters might feel bait-and-switched by Biden’s refusal to go away. It’s easy to sympathize with an old-timer reluctant to give up something he loves. In Biden’s case, though, the stakes are potentially catastrophic.” • I guess I was never a “Biden voter.” It never occurred to me that he’d foreclose a run at a second term.

Biden (D): “Emails show ‘access’ to Biden family reason for Chinese business partnership with Hunter Biden” [Just the News]. “In late February, impeachment witness Jason Galanis—one of Hunter Biden’s partners in the Burnham venture—told Congress the firm served as place to integrate the ‘Biden Family Office’ with a ‘large-scale financial company.’ Galanis gave his testimony to Congress from inside federal prison where he is serving a sentence for a conviction related to a fraudulent tribal bonds scheme he carried out alongside Hunter Biden partner Devon Archer. ‘The entire value-add of Hunter Biden to our business was his family name and his access to his father, Vice President Joe Biden,’ he said in his opening statement to congressional investigators, Just the News previously reported. Emails recently obtained by Just the News show Henry Zhao—owner of Harvest Fund Management, which would partner with Burnham and Hunter Biden—was interested in the partnership because of the ‘access’ the firm could provide him, rather than primary financial concerns…. ‘[During] yesterday’s meeting Hunter underlined the value of being cautiously conservative in valuation as Henry believes in this first and foremost as an access vehicle with potential for future growth,’ one employee said.” • As we know, Democrats are big on “access”; it’s not surprising that they would view “access to Biden” as something to sell. (Also, “Biden Family Office,” is mere self-aggrandizement; billionaires have family offices (see NC here), and the Bidens are hardly billionaires. But even if having a family office is a stretch goal, it still shows the Biden clan’s ambition to slither up the greasy pole!

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Palmer (D): “Who is Jason Palmer? A previously unknown Democrat beats Biden in American Samoa’s Democratic caucus” [Associated Press]. “Out of 91 ballots cast in the territory’s caucus, Palmer won 51 and Biden won 40, according to the local party. ‘I found out that I had won because my phone started blowing up with friends and campaign staffers texting me,’ Palmer said in an interview late Tuesday. Palmer, 52, said he never visited the territory before the caucus. ‘I have been campaigning remotely, doing Zoom town halls, talking to people, listening to them about their concerns and what matters to them,’ he said.” And: “On the day before the caucus, Palmer posted on X that ;Washington D.C. is long overdue for a president who will be an advocate for American Samoa.’ His account includes pictures of young people holding homemade campaign signs.” • But what did Palmer actually say? There’s no reporting here. The Guardian is better–

Palmer (D): “Zoom meetings and beach clean-ups: how unknown Jason Palmer upset Biden in the American Samoa primary” [Guardian]. “On Wednesday, the chairman of the American Samoa Democratic Party, Ti’a Reid, congratulated the Palmer campaign on its victory and explained that a focus on local issues secured the outsiders victory…. “The Palmer campaign invested in local organisers and digital ad buys, which I believe assisted in their registration and turnout results,’ Reid says. Palmer’s ads were blazoned across local social media and homemade banners could be seen hanging from cars and in front of family homes…. Palmer was likely the only Democratic candidate to campaign in the territory…. Palmer’s campaign manager, Mario Arias, told The Washington Post that they had employed one staffer [(!!)] on the ground who helped organise local events like a beach clean-up day. ‘From what I’m gathering from the community there, they just wanted to be heard,’ Arias said… ‘When presidential campaigns invest in our territory locally, that is not only an advantage for their respective campaigns but it also promotes community awareness of our Caucus and event,” Reid says. Super Tuesday is not a popular event in the territory, and Reid says the highlight for him was ‘the level of youth engagement and awareness. A majority of our caucus attendees that stayed throughout the day were students from high schools. If each of them left with a better understanding of what happens in caucuses and primaries in the lead-up to our general elections in November, that is a success for me.'” • Fascinating. Encouraging, although not on a very large scale! And who among us doesn’t want to be heard?

Palmer (D): “Joe Biden Lost The Weirdest Democratic Primary Of 2024” [HuffPo]. “Palmer, a venture capitalist who has previously worked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and for the test prep company Kaplan, has generated far less attention than other Democratic challengers…. Palmer follows former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as an unexpected winner of the caucuses. Bloomberg won them in 2020, the only contest he won despite spending more than $1 billion over the course of his four-month campaign.” • Then we are also seeing extremely sloppy staffwork by the Biden campaign; they had a precedent to look at.

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Whitmer (D): “The FBI’s Double Agent” [The Intercept]. “A month before the 2020 presidential election, the Justice Department announced that the FBI had foiled a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose pandemic lockdown measures drew harsh criticism from President Donald Trump and his supporters. The alleged plot coincided with growing concern about far-right political violence in America. But the FBI quickly realized it had a problem: A key informant in the case, a career snitch with a long rap sheet, had helped to orchestrate the kidnapping plot. During the undercover sting, the FBI ignored crimes that the informant, Stephen Robeson, appeared to have committed, including fraud and illegal possession of a sniper rifle. The Whitmer kidnapping case followed a pattern familiar from hundreds of previous FBI counterterrorism stings that have targeted Muslims in the post-9/11 era. Those cases too raised questions about whether the crimes could have happened at all without the prodding of undercover agents and informants.” • I’ve gotta ask, Why Whitmer? Clearly, the entire episode would have the effect of boosting her stature, should she run for even higher office. I mean, do random FBI offices really arrange to kidnap Governors without checking in with the higher-ups? And what did the higher-ups hope to gain? Whitmer as an asset? But how would that work? The whole episode could dovetail very neatly with Democrat J6 hysteria, making this factoid even more odd: “Steven D’Antuono, the head of the FBI field office in Detroit during the time of the so-called Whitmer kidnapping plot, was promoted in October 2020 to lead the DC field office, a coveted post in the bureau, just before the Jan. 6 riot took place [a]ccording to Deadline Detroit….”

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“The six swing states that will decide the US presidential race” [Financial Times]. Interesting wrap-up with 2016 and 2020 results, subheads showing (claiming) key issues in each state: Arizona (11): immigration; Georgia (16): election interference; Michigan (15): Israel and green energy; Nevada (6): unemployment and the economy; Pennsylvania (19): rust-belt rejuvenation; Wisconsin (10): abortion. On Pennsylvania, because its the tighest race: “Biden makes much of his working-class roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But he will have to strike a careful balance as he tries to hold on to the state in November. He will need to court both climate-conscious voters and progressives in cities such as Philadelphia, as well as workers in western Pennsylvania’s rust belt and the state’s vast shale gas fracking industry. Unions and even some members of Biden’s Democratic party have been critical of the White House move this year to halt new exports of liquefied natural gas, saying it could hurt local industry. Trump has touted American oil and gas while criticising Biden’s green policies — part of his pitch to states such as Pennsylvania. The fate of the state’s electoral college votes could be decided by which comes out on top: Pennsylvania’s more urban voters in the east, or its blue-collar rural voters in the west.” • The FT left out Pittburgh….

“Big Mysteries Surround the Predictable Presidential Rematch” [RealClearPolitics]. About the psychodrama; fun and worth reading in full. On Biden: “What they didn’t count on was Biden’s heroic self-image. His multiple plagiarism scandals reveal his rare ability to convince himself that other people’s ideas are really his own. Despite all evidence, he believes he is the smartest guy in the room. His insistence on repeating false stories – on everything from the deaths of his first wife and his son Beau, to his trips on Amtrak and his handling of classified documents – suggests he lives in a fantasy world where his tall tales are true. Democratic leaders are going to have a hard time convincing the president, who apparently believes he is leading the race, to stand down. The people love me, man.”

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Republican Funhouse

“Fact Focus: Claims Biden administration is secretly flying migrants into the country are unfounded” [Associated Press]. “Under a Biden policy in effect since January 2023, up to 30,000 people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela can enter the country monthly if they apply online with a financial sponsor and arrive at a specified airport, paying their own way. Biden exercised his ‘parole’ authority, which, under a 1952 law, allows him to admit people ‘only on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” Whatever that means. And: ‘Each month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection discloses how many people from these four countries were allowed to enter the country. On Jan. 26, the agency reported 327,000 were vetted and authorized for travel. There were more than 67,000 Cubans, 126,000 Haitians, 53,000 Nicaraguans and 81,000 Venezuelans.” But: “[P]eople admitted into the country under parole have no path to citizenship. They can obtain work permits for a limited time but voters must be U.S. citizens.” • Speculating freely: “Financial sponsor” and “paying their own way” screams gusano to me. Just what the country needs: More Juan Greedos.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Democrats’ latest problem: 1 in 5 Latino voters are considering switching parties” [Vox]. “Some 19.4 percent, or about one in five Latino voters, say they have considered changing their political affiliation either by switching parties or becoming independents, according to a national survey released by Florida International University (FIU) and the marketing firm Adsmovil. A majority of those wavering voters (61.1 percent) say they’d be open to leaving the Democratic Party and a plurality of those Democratic waverers (38.1 percent) would become Republicans. Though that’s a small share of all Latino voters, that’s still a significant number for a demographic group whose loyalty to Democrats has been eroding since Donald Trump’s presidency. ‘We used to say in political science that party [identification] was one of the most stable things that we could use to study,’ Eduardo Gamarra, the co-director of FIU’s Latino Public Opinion Forum and the author of this study, told me. ‘It was generational. You could go back three or four generations of voters and [party ID] would remain stable. Now, all of that is changing, and especially so among Hispanics.'” • Hmm.

2020 Post Mortem

“ABC reprimands producer for giving data to Trump campaign” [Politico]. “ABC News said it has reprimanded its top producer for investigative reporting for giving Donald Trump’s presidential campaign proprietary exit polling data on election night 2016…. In their new book ‘Let Trump Be Trump,’ campaign insiders Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie wrote that Chris Vlasto — then-executive producer of ‘Good Morning America’ and now senior executive producer for investigative reporting — called Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, at 5:01 p.m. on election night with information being shared within a consortium of The Associated Press and the major TV networks. ‘Vlasto had the early exit numbers that the consortium of news networks — the Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News — had collected,’ Lewandowski and Bossie wrote. ‘The consortium followed eleven battleground states, including Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Trump was down in eight of the eleven states by five to eight points. The news was devastating. A kill shot.’ … Bossie had known Vlasto for decades, going back to when Bossie was a Republican House investigator in the 1990s and Vlasto was covering the Clinton Whitewater investigations, according to the book. Vlasto was consideredfor a senior communications position in the Trump White House in the weeks after the election before pulling himself out of consideration.” • Break out the yarn?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Goodbye America! A quarter of US adults want their state to secede – Texans, Californians, and New Yorkers are closest to the exit, but can YOU guess which state wants out the most?” [Daily Mail]. YouGov poll. Handy map:

It’s bipartisan!

I wonder what Stoller’s reading list looks like these days….


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

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Covid is Airborne

“Impacts of lid closure during toilet flushing and of toilet bowl cleaning on viral contamination of surfaces in United States restrooms” [American Journal of Infection Control]. “These results demonstrate that closing the toilet lid prior to flushing does not mitigate the risk of contaminating bathroom surfaces and that disinfection of all restroom surfaces (ie, toilet rim, floors) may be necessary after flushing or after toilet brush used for the reduction of virus cross-contamination.”


Meeting people where they are”:

N95s are good for PM2.5 and wildfire smoke, too….

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Just in case you’re inclined to believe a word of what Biden says in the SOTU:


“Long-term findings on working memory neural dynamics in healthcare workers after mild COVID-19” [Clinical Neurophysiology]. N = 77. From the Abstract: “COVID-19 participants exhibited a distinct neural pattern with lower parieto-occipital N1 amplitudes and higher frontal P2 amplitudes as compared to non-infected healthcare workers. We found no behavioural differences (reaction times and error rates) in working memory functioning between groups…. The current findings point out that ERPs could serve as valuable neural indices for detecting distinctive patterns in working memory functioning of COVID-19 participants, even in mild cases. However, further research is required to precisely ascertain the long-term cognitive effects of COVID-19 beyond one-year post-infection.” • So, a pattern but no behavioural difference. I suppose that’s encouraging…

Elite Maleficence

If I were working out how best of perform a serial passage experiment on the entire American population, I’d want some “sweet treats” too!

Mandy is so, so much worse than Rochelle….

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More lethal advice from CDC. Handwashing does not prevent airborne transmission:

More lethal advice from CDC. Covid is far more deadly than the flu:

Something about that style of artwork — the friendly, soft-edged, above all harmless look — raises my hackles. Just like smiling, maskless nurses or doctors, there’s nothing harmless about it at all; instead, it’s manipulative and controlling, and to no good end.

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot March 4: Regional[2] Biobot March 4:
Variants[3] CDC March 2 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC February 24
New York[5] New York State, data February 28 (??): National [6] CDC February 24:
National[7] Walgreens March 4: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic February 24:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC February 12: Variants[10] CDC February 12:
Weekly deaths New York Times February 24: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times February 24:


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

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


[1] (Biobot) Biobot drops, conformant to Walgreen positivity data (if that is indeed not a data artifact). Note, however, the area “under the curve,” besides looking at peaks. That area is larger under Biden than under Trump, and it seems to be rising steadily if unevenly.

[2] (Biobot) Regional separation re-emerges.

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

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

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Not flattening. (I’m assuming that the 2/28 date for the data is a glitch.)

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

[7] (Walgreens) That’s a big drop! 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. UPDATE Given the extraordinary and sudden drop-off, I thought I’d check to see if the population being tested changed in some way. Here are the absolute numbers on February 14, at the edge of the cliff:

And here are the absolute numbers on March 3:

As you can see, there’s an order of magnitude decrease in those testing between those two dates. Was there an event on or about February 14 that is a candidate suggesting an account of this massive shift in behavior? Why yes, yes there is:

“CDC plans to drop five-day covid isolation guidelines” [WaPo] (February 13, 2024).

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

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

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Backward revisions remove NV.1 data. JN.1 dominates utterly.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US was 217K in the week ended March 2, 2024, unchanged from the previous week’s revised level and above market expectations of 215K.”

* * *

Tech: “Want to Steal a Tesla? Try Using a Flipper Zero” [Gizmodo]. “Security researchers report they uncovered a design flaw that let them hijack a Tesla using a Flipper Zero, a controversial $169 hacking tool. Partners Tommy Mysk and Talal Haj Bakry of Mysk Inc. said the attack is as simple as swiping a Tesla owner’s login information, opening the Tesla app, and driving away. The victim would have no idea they lost their $40,000 vehicle. Mysk said the exploit takes minutes, and to prove it all works, he stole his own car. The issue isn’t ‘hacking’ in the sense of breaking into software, it’s a social engineering attack that fools a user into handing over their information. Using a Flipper, the researchers set up a WiFi network called ‘Tesla Guest,’ the name Tesla uses for its guest networks at service centers. Mysk then created a website that looks like Tesla’s login page. The process is simple. In this scenario, hackers could broadcast the network near a charging station, where a bored driver might be looking for entertainment. The victim connects to the WiFi network and enters their username and password on the fake Tesla website. The hacker then uses the credentials to log in to the real Tesla app, which triggers a two-factor authentication code. The victim enters that code into the fake website, and the thief gains access to their account. Once you’re logged into the Tesla app, you can set up a ‘phone key’ which lets you unlock and control the car over Bluetooth with a smartphone. From there, the car is yours.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 75 Extreme Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 7 at 1:27:46 PM ET.

Photo Book

“Jennifer Croft on photography as an unexpected writing tool” (email) [Literary Hub]. “Depth of field is also called ‘the zone of sharpness.’ Deciding on your depth of field means deciding how much environmental context you want to give your reader in your story. You can reduce distraction by blurring or omitting the things that aren’t directly related to your subject. Or you can do the reverse: You can celebrate your subject’s whole vast network by depicting as many connections as you can fit into your frame, creating not so much a portrait as a landscape.” • Ulysses, for example, would be ƒ/64. Can’t think of a story with, say, ƒ/2.8. Readers?


“Fasting-mimicking diet causes hepatic and blood markers changes indicating reduced biological age and disease risk” [Nature]. “Based on a validated measure of biological age predictive of morbidity and mortality, 3 FMD cycles were associated with a decrease of 2.5 years in median biological age, independent of weight loss. Nearly identical findings resulted from a second clinical study (NCT04150159). Together these results provide initial support for beneficial effects of the FMD on multiple cardiometabolic risk factors and biomarkers of biological age.” FMD: “The periodic use of a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD; a plant-based, low-calorie and low-protein 5-day lasting dietary intervention) followed by a normal diet has positive effects on both cellular function and healthspan.” • Not usually a fan of diets, but since it’s in Nature….

News of the Wired

“Single dose of LSD provides immediate and lasting relief from anxiety, study says” [CNN]. “A clinical trial’s encouraging results won US Food and Drug Administration breakthrough therapy status for an LSD formulation to treat generalized anxiety disorder, Mind Medicine Inc. announced Thursday. The biopharmaceutical company is developing the drug…. The designation, however, ‘is an offer from the agency to engage more closely in drug development,’ Karlin said. ‘It affects timelines of response and our ability to get more interactions with the agency so that we can be sure that we’re in lockstep agreement as we move forward.’ Two other companies have also received FDA breakthrough therapy status: psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression and to MDMA, (3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine) commonly known as ecstasy or molly, for post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.” • My, er, understanding is that set and setting are critical to having a good trip. So I’m wondering how the trial handled that.

* * *

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 Xihuitl:

Xihuitl writes: “Leaves on a Seattle sidewalk after a storm.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Feral Finster

    Re: Biden (D): “Biden Can Still Win — If He Runs Like Harry Truman” [Politico].
    Biden (D): “Bernie Sanders’s private warning to Biden about the 2024 campaign” [WaPo]:

    So why wasn’t Biden doing any of this all the time he had a Team D majority in both houses of Congress? And what’s to prevent him from developing a convenient case of amnesia, should he get re-elected?

    Re: Biden (D): “Biden’s 2024 advantage: An alliance of elites rigging the game” [New York Post]

    Now this is an intelligent take (other thanthe loopy tough guy talk), and it’s basically how Biden was able to wheeze out a win in 2020. You don’t get to be an elite by playing fair and playing by the rules, and elites don’t, as a rule, like games not rigged in their favor.

    1. Lefty Godot

      Promises, promises! How many times have we heard these wonderful ideas, tax the rich, Medicare for all, etc., when they’re campaigning. Then once they’re in it all becomes privatizing services and “stimulating the economy” (handing out government money to corporations that were their donors). Anyone who falls for their malarkey again should be ashamed of themselves.

    2. nippersdad

      I read the article on governing like Harry Truman the other day, and if it is to be believed it sounds like Biden has been following this method for his entire tenure. I cannot remember when he has failed to slap the hippies when given even the slightest opportunity. It is kind of his modus operandi.

      Those two articles are mutually exclusive, and it is not surprising that Bernie would raise his head just before an election. The only thing about the hippies they appreciate is their willingness to believe that change is possible from the same old cast of characters.

        1. nippersdad

          He was a real mixed bag. Adding to your point about the CIA, dropping those bombs on Japan was a pretty bad thing as well. I have to say, though, that when he was on his game he did very well. I have always loved this part of one of his speeches:

          “I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.

          But when a Democratic candidate goes out and explains what the New Deal and fair Deal really are–when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people–then Democrats can win, even in places where they have never won before. It has been proven time and again.”

          That would still be true today. There is a lot of good stuff in there. I really cannot see Biden pulling that off. It just isn’t in the Senator from MBNA’s DNA.


          1. Belle

            I’m more of a Henry A. Wallace fan myself. It’s a shame Hannegan (a buddy of Truman and the Prendergast machine) got Wallace off the ticket in 44.
            Incidentally, for better or worse, Wallace may have changed America more for his work out of office. His corn breeding helped .majorly increase the production of corn in the USA, and his breeding chickens helped significantly increase the world’s chicken population.

        2. Adam Eran

          Don’t forget Truman integrated the military. He also proposed Medicare-for-All, but the Dixiecrats thwarted him because they were afraid they’d have to integrate their hospitals. People of color are icky, after all.

          Racism! The gift that keeps on giving!

          …so yeah, along with giving the green light to dropping the A-bomb on Japan, definitely a mixed bag.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Originalist Disaster

    OK, but what about the “norms” we keep hearing so much about?!?!? Aren’t they, along with the “rules based order”, what preserves “our democracy”?

    Much like “states rights”, “norms” get tossed out when they become inconvenient for a particular political faction.

    If we’re going to abolish the electoral college, political parties need to go with it.

    1. nippersdad

      Very true. It has actually been shocking how speedy the transition from “white supremacists are bad” to “you are not allowed to criticize our UkroNazis or ZioNazis because democracy”, or something. I think there actually used to be norms, but now that they change every week or so it is becoming hard for even the most casual observer to find them credible.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Fun fact. Those UkroNazis are hard-core white supremacists as well and want to “purify” their nation.

  3. 4paul

    Photo Book – poetry is f2.8, or even 0.95 … in prose it’s been done sometimes as POV, I think Flowers for Algernon for example.

  4. Feral Finster

    “Those cases too raised questions about whether the crimes could have happened at all without the prodding of undercover agents and informants.” • I’ve gotta ask, Why Whitmer? Clearly, the entire episode would have the effect of boosting her stature, should she run for even higher office. I mean, do random FBI offices really arrange to kidnap Governors without checking in with the higher-ups? And what did the higher-ups hope to gain? Whitmer as an asset? But how would that work? ”

    I can answer that – it sends out the message that Those Who Oppose Us Are The Extremists, The Bad People. Don’t Be One Of Them!

  5. Sub-Boreal

    For the Canadian COVID-careful, a heartening development: launching of the Canadian Covid Society.

    From their introductory message:

    Despite everyone’s hope, a vaccine-only strategy has not successfully gotten rid of the virus. We’re now into our ninth? tenth? (who’s counting?) wave of Covid, with no end in sight. We’re told it is endemic now, and we must “learn to live with it,” which in effect, seems to mean ignore it. Continue with life as if nothing has changed. And for many, the vulnerable, the elderly, learning to live with the virus means learning to die with it, and increasingly, for the rest of us, learning to become disabled by it.

    Public health efforts seem to have evaporated when it comes to Covid.

    Most major healthcare institutions have yet to acknowledge the reality of airborne transmission, which at this point is settled science. The Public Health Agency of Canada to its credit, states that the virus “moves through the air like smoke” but will not use the terms aerosol or airborne, likely due to the legal and regulatory implications. Provincial public health bodies have been uniformly silent on the issue, except once, when the outgoing New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer was forced to acknowledge it under questioning in the legislature. How are people to protect themselves if they don’t have a basic understanding of how it is transmitted? Our protective strategy as it stands today is akin to trying to stop the spread of chlamydia without acknowledging the role of sex.

    Although vaccines are important, the combined impact of multiple layers of protection would be many times more effective than our current vaccine-only approach. The public needs education on the fact that immune protection wanes and therefore past vaccines aren’t adequately protective against today’s variants. The current uptake of 15% for the XBB Covid vaccine does not bode well for our protection against the surging JN.1 variants, or for ones to come. With substantial social media-based misinformation and disinformation on vaccine effectiveness and safety, there is a need to counter this with more and better evidence. And we need well-funded research on improved, sterilizing vaccines.

    Canada needs a formal inquiry to assess what went wrong (and right) in our response to Covid. The Campbell inquiry following SARS-1 in 2003 laid out an excellent blueprint for future pandemic responses, which has been ignored throughout this pandemic. We need to ensure that never happens again.

  6. lyman alpha blob

    “Ulysses, for example, would be ƒ/64”

    Now you’re just showing off, Lambert. I mean, to make that judgement, wouldn’t you have actually have had to read Ulysses? Who does that?!?!?!*

    * Asked by someone who has read the first 28 pages of Ulysses about 28 times and never gotten further….

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I have read Ulysses. I loathe the overlong Nighttown section, but the rest is terrific (at every level, including technically). If anyone wants a key to “Leopold Bloom’s and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” Hugh Kenner’s Ulysses is excellent (and maybe you can just treat it as a standalone book, if you’re interested in literary mechanics).

      1. jsn

        ƒ/2.8, I believe would be the depth of field of most of Hemingway’s short stories.

        “ A Clean Well Lighted Place” & “The Short Happy Life of Francis McComber” spring to mind.

      2. JohnA

        I have also read Ulysses and loved it, but agree the first pages must be endured rather than enjoyed, however perserverance certainly pays. Can recommend Ulysses Annotated by Don Gifford, that provides clues and explanations to all sorts of passages.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The last time I opened the book, I found the first section excruciatinglu painful, when it became clear to me how lacerating Mulligan’s teasing, and bullying, and even sympathy must have been for Stephen, given his mother’s death and his behavior at her deathbed (not that Stephen isn’t internally milking that set of emotions for everything he can even as, and even though they’re quite genuine (and quite complicated)).

          Interesting to imagine which characters would mask. Mulligan no, Stephen yes, Blazes Boylan hell no, Bloom yes, Molly Bloom if and when Bloom asked her and explained the science, but not while singing, the funeral attendees no, the medical students of course not. The citizen hell no (“freedom”).

    2. Adrian

      I’ve read half of it twice, pretty sure that counts as reading it, even if it was the same half both time…

    3. Bugs

      It’s actually a very rewarding book. I also highly recommend Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which is to the postmodern novel what Ulysses is to the modern. These tomes seem intimidating because they’re sort of a time commitment, but you only live once and great literature is something we all need.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        That one is also on my shelf, started twice but not finished yet. Not really sure why, since I do love a doorstopper of a book, and I’ve read a bunch of DFW. Maybe once I’m retired…

        Have you ever read The Pale King ? I thought about picking that one up, but I’m never sure of how good these posthumous novels are, and I really should finish Infinite Jest first. But I’d buy a copy on a good recommendation.

        1. JBird4049

          I like some of Wallace’s writing, but too often it is just too facile for me to enjoy although his A Supposedly Fun Thing That I’ll Never Do Again is good.

          Maybe I should say that I feel like there a pane of glass between what I am reading and the writing itself. It is like there is story with feelings trying to be born, but is murdered by the post-modernist monster where nothing is actually real or has true meaning. I do not think that was his intent, but too much modern writing even honest ones are infected with the post-(post?)-modernism of our time. A writer like George Sand Hemingway would have their writing poisoned by whatever is in our culture. It is in the damn air we breathe. But that story leaked out some real emotions because, I think, of his exasperation with his “fun” cruise. I should dig out the book that has the story.

        2. Bugs

          I liked The Pale King a lot. There’s much there around human integrity and what it means to work, what a job is, that is profound. And the descriptions of the middle of Illinois take your breath away. That said, it was unfinished and I wonder what he would have thought of it. I suppose he would have burned it if he didn’t want it published. Poor guy. RIP.

    4. Adam Eran

      How anyone could read Ulysses without help (See Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses… is beyond me. You must have help, or it’s just gibberish.

      Actually, I’m more of a Beckett fan, even having read the stupid book. On the other hand, Marshal McLuhan makes some sense out of Finnegan’s Wake (and I still like McLuhan and Beckett better)

    1. NYT_Memes

      Plantidote: I see slug heaven and the slugs there to prove it. Living in PNW I look for them.

  7. antidlc

    NNU condemns CDC’s decision to shorten the five-day isolation guidance for Covid-19

    National Nurses United (NNU) condemns the decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lump Covid-19 guidance in with other respiratory viruses and to shorten its isolation guidance for Covid. Slashing the Covid isolation guidance from five days to potentially just 24 hours based on the presence of fever ignores the available scientific evidence that people with Covid infections often remain infectious well beyond five days.

    On Feb. 23, 2024, NNU wrote to CDC Director Mandy Cohen warning the agency not to relax its Covid isolation guidance, urging the CDC “to follow the science to develop guidance that will best protect people’s health,” noting “Scientific research indicates that many people infected with SARS-CoV-2 remain positive and potentially infectious for five or more days.

    “We are deeply disheartened to once again see the CDC weakening protections for public health, which will mean more transmission, illness, hospitalizations, and cases of Long Covid,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “We must protect nurses’ health and safety so that they can continue to care for their patients, especially due to the staffing crisis that many hospitals face.”

    1. flora

      tsk. You don’t understand. Back in the day most employees had this thing called “sick leave.” Employees could accrue one day a month or so and could use their accumulated sick leave days to stay home for a week or more without losing pay if they were sick. Such a quaint olden time that was. / s

      Now? Who has sick leave? Corporations want their workers on the job every single scheduled employment day. (The CDC knows who its boss is). / meh

        1. ambrit

          He’ll fight for the Palestinian people’s “access” to a port.
          Without Marines ashore forming a defensive perimeter, the ‘port’ will be nothing more than an inducement to the Israelis to continue “lawnmowing.”

          1. ChrisFromGA

            I’m thinking it will be like a floating pier or pontoon bridge. Perhaps if the supply ships are able to get close enough to shore, they can fire it out of a cannon and it will “augur in” to the beachhead.

            Perhaps a repurposing of some sort of amphibious assault bridge to get troops to shore.

            Israel can always interdict any materials onshore and hold them up while they inspect them for weapons.

          2. Feral Finster

            Even if the Biden sent an entire Marine Expeditionary Force, they’d basically be crowd-control assisting the Israeli lawncare operation.
            Team D cultists would insist that this was a major humanitarian advance, assisted by Team R sociopaths who would assure us that Biden was “aiding terrorists”, which he would be, but Team R would have the identities of the terrorists and victims backwards.

        2. JohnA

          But the new port can presumably subsequently be used by Israel to facilitate stealing the offshore oil and gas belonging to Gaza. Win/Win alround for Biden and Bibi!

    1. CA


      March 7, 2024

      OSINT * Reveals Unprecedented Extent of U.S. Arms Airlift to Israel Since Oct. 7
      The Biden administration has reportedly made 100 secret arms sales to Israel since start of Gaza war. Publicly available flight data shows how it unfolded
      By Avi Scharf

      * Open-source intelligence

      1. Alice X

        ~100 secret arms sales to Israel since start of Gaza war.

        That went around Congress to procure.

      1. ambrit

        I’ll put this here and leave it at that:
        Forget the “ceasefire” and “end to occupation” ideas. The Ultra Zionists would sabotage those, even were they to be proposed and “implemented.”
        The eventual end game of this crisis will be the end of the State of Israel as a coherent entity. The Zionists have tried to shoot themselves ‘in the foot’ and managed to hit themselves in the head.

        I considered self censoring this comment, but decided that someone has to put it out there. It is a possibility.

      2. ChrisFromGA

        Consider a person who gets assaulted, and both their legs broken.

        This is the equivalent of the assailants bestie walking up and handing them a band-aid.

        Completely a charade, and an insult as well.

    2. Dessa

      Calling it early: This is the first stage of port development for their offshore natural gas mining project, doing double duty as a whitewash for the genocide

      1. midtownwageslave

        Think of all the jobs for starved and maimed Palestinians this would create. They could help clean up the inevitable oil spill, too.

      2. tegnost

        I think you’ve got it.
        Once there it will never leave.
        Paging Amos Hochstein…Amos Hochstein to the blue and white genocide phone please…
        from his about page

        Amos J. Hochstein is an Israeli-American businessman, diplomat, and former lobbyist. Currently the Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser for Energy and Investment


        A real globalist swamp creature

    3. The Rev Kev

      Rather than a hypothetical port which could the months to set up, they could just let the trucks in where you have hundreds sitting at the border right now. That could be done today but that would not suit Operation Starvation by the Israelis.

  8. DJG, Reality Czar

    Ulysses, for example, would be ƒ/64. Can’t think of a story with, say, ƒ/2.8. Readers?”

    There are many writers whose work focuses closely on the foreground and examines a subject up close, pushing away the larger world. I suspect Flannery O’Connor may be f/2.8. Faulkner does an f/2.8 tale in As I Lay Dying.

    In poetry, it would be the difference between Whitman at f/64 and Dickinson at f/2.8.

    In Italian literature, you’d have Dante at f/64, and examining the stars, too, with someone like Tomasi di Lampedusa in the Leopard, who seems to be set at f/64 in fact set much closer to the subject, f/8?, and Conversation in Sicily by Elio Vittorini at f/2.8, a book with an almost shocking intimacy and closeup focus on the narrator’s courageous mother.

      1. petal

        A friend has this meme hanging in their lab: “Come to the Dark Side-we have cookies.”

          1. ambrit

            Vikky the Sith Lady. Hmmm…..Did she sense a disturbance in the Force and decided to get out ahead of the rush?

    1. flora

      adding, SoU begins at 9:00 p.m Eastern Time (ET) zone, per PBS.

      So that’s a start at 8 pm Central, 7 pm Mountain, 6 pm Pacific time zones for live coverage. Not sure what Hawaii’s time zone is.

    2. Stephen V.

      Who’s got room for orts? You deserve the night off — at least!
      I know the Big Guy has given us permission to stay up, but that’s my bed time.

    3. notabanker

      Part of me wants to see this train wreck, but a bigger part of me is questioning how long my stomach can handle it.

      1. nippersdad

        If it could be condensed into the actual speech it might be worth watching just to see if he falls off the podium, but all of that standing and sitting, booing and clapping, panning the crowd and showing who made the politically astute invite makes it simply endless.

        An Oscars for the truly ugly is not conducive to sleeping well afterwards.

      2. Randall Flagg

        Though I don’t mind a few beers at the end of a day and I’m tempted to make it a drinking game (pick your trigger words or phrase), I have no interest putting myself into a coma.
        But all the same, I’ll go with: Since my election, my adminsistration has…

      3. Randall Flagg

        And as somebody said this am. “Watching this SOTU tonight is like watching a NASCAR race for the wrecks”.

  9. Val

    FBI flavorite Guvnah G’retch is the dim and very suggestible totalitarian bulb visiting Taiwan today.

    And…Goodbye America! Encouraging that so many tiny fish born into endless oceans of propaganda could aspire to permanently escape, geographically- somehow, having already accomplished the same psychologically.

  10. ambrit

    Just a question for the In House retail banking boffins in the commentariat.
    My recently bought up local bank now has a policy of charging $5 USD for cashing cheques of over $100 USD value for those without an account at the bank. Is this legal? What about cheques drawn on the bank by bank customers presented for payment by the receivers of said cheques?
    The flyer includes this helpful hint; “Open a deposit account today to avoid a change in service and gain access to all the features you’d expect & more.”
    Something does not “feel” right about this. (Or maybe I am just not ‘up to speed’ with modern banking practices.)
    Thanks in advance.

    1. flora

      I think they are trying on something. Calling it a fee can get around a lot of regulation, for a time. For an individual personal account – not business account customer – the prospect of legally fighting the outrageous charge would cost more than it’s worth. Find a different local bank for your checking account requirements. (If the bank needs to charge a 5% fee to cash checks over $100? Just what kind of financial straights are they in? Do they not keep cash at the bank? Maybe they’re on the ropes.) / my two cents

      adding, Some local-ish bank tried that on in my town and lost customers, making them rethink the idea. / ;)

      1. flora

        adding: if this is the same fee they charge at their ATMs for non-account holders they might get a way with it. $5 seems excessive to me. But, hey!, there’s no inflation and the economy is doin’ great! / ;)

        1. ambrit

          Thanks for the info. The ‘new’ banking enterprise also now charges $8 USD a month “Service Fee” per chequing account and sometimes $5 USD for the savings account. (The rhyme and reason for the imposition of the fees is quite byzantine.)
          Bank associated ATMs are free to use for account holders, and non-bank ATMs have a $2 USD fee per item. So, this looks like a pure power play.
          It is instructive to note that the in-house web site did not produce any usable information when queried about “ATM fees.” All I got were ‘infomercials’ touting various bank “services.” I had to do a Google search to come up with the information I wanted. Reverse engineering the process, I found out that the relevant information concerning ATM fees was listed in the bank website under the heading of “Consumer Electronic Transfer Disclosure.”

          1. flora

            A lot of banks now have what I think are large service fees on savings or checking accounts that have an average balance under $X amount.

            Many banks, even the biggest banks, have a lot of unrealized losses in their commercial real estate mortgage lending portfolios right now. The very biggest banks are starting to play crazy games against each other.

            Banks aren’t the only financial option. There are credit unions (check their ratings), and savings and loans (check their ratings). / my 2 cents.

          2. griffen

            Coming in late. May I suggest taking some action to contact your state representative, or maybe consult on the interwebs for the state agency in charge of financial services oversight? Can’t possibly hurt to raise the question.

            Each state has some manner of agency like a DFI or DFS… Department of Financial followed by your choice of alphabetical tile…found it I believe, the DBCF.

  11. digi_owl

    Meh the only thing “controversial” about Flipper Zero is that it reveals that industries still rely on hubris and “obscurity” to “secure” their products.

    In effect they are more worried about defending their products against customers taking full control of their purchase than criminals.

    1. cfraenkel

      Heh! More than an echo to

      The Public Health Agency of Canada to its credit, states that the virus “moves through the air like smoke” but will not use the terms aerosol or airborne, likely due to the legal and regulatory implications

      from sub-boreal’s comment above.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Secession

    As a native non-flatlander, I’m disappointed to see VT down to 15%. They used to be so much better. A non-partisan ‘pox on all your houses’ secession was once greatly wished for. Now the “love me I’m a” liberals are voting for Nikki Haley.

  13. Wukchumni

    Gonna be on the road when glorious leader just checks in to see what condition our condition is in, so I’ll judge it upon voice only, and I can’t imbibe while driving, but today’s trigger word is once again…


  14. Jason Boxman

    Funny you mention pollen; I was only joking that pollen season must be early this year, because someone blamed their — likely — COVID symptoms on pollen yesterday in meatspace.

    But I guess I called it; This really is going to be the go-to for this year. Early allergies!


  15. Lefty Godot

    Single dose of LSD provides immediate and lasting relief from anxiety

    Yeah, sure, until the giant fluorescent space lizards come through the walls at you. Then anxiety turns to panic!

    1. Tom B.

      This was a phase 2b study to determine dosage range. Single dose of 100 micrograms seemed to provide best balance of efficacy and unwanted side effects. Trippy stuff only on first day. Drug was Lysergide d-tartrate, perhaps a patentable variant of LSD? which is Lysergic acid diethylamide. Study lasted 12 weeks, with claimed lasting benefits of up to 48% remission. Would want to see actual numbers.
      No special set and setting, just a minder to provide reassurance.
      Not aware of any peer reviewed paper published yet.
      ( Details from https://www.drugtopics.com/view/fda-grants-breakthrough-therapy-designation-to-lsd-based-treatment-for-generalized-anxiety-disorder )

  16. flora

    re: Fasting Mimicing diet. Fasting was once known as a health benefit used in time limited ways. Think of the season of Lent in the Christian calendar.
    Jimmy Dore talks with Dr. (PhD) Thomas Seyfried about diet, metabolism health, and diet (fasting). utube. ~50+ minutes.

    Breakthrough Cancer Treatment Using Keto Diet! w/ Dr. From Boston College


    1. Milton

      I perform a 24hr fast and a 20hr fast each week but I have a tough time trying not to make up for missed meals by doubling up when I break the fast. I haven’t looked into it but I would bet gorging after fasting probably is worse than if I had eaten normally during the fast period.

      1. Steve H.

        Fung says total calories ingested is still less than eating both days. And you get autophagy.

  17. flora

    re: Super Tuesday: “Biden and Trump? What a waste of the Super Tuesday primaries” [Los Angeles Times].

    The Super Tuesday primary is not just a state pres primary, it is also a state’s down ballot primary races. For example, in California the primary included Lee, Porter, Schiff, and Garvey for a Senate seat. Winners were Schiff (D)and Garvey(R), unfortunately from my point of view. California has an unusual primary process, mixing GOP and Dem candidates on the same ballot.

    1. nippersdad

      I’m loving the melt down over Porter pointing out how Schiff rigged the primaries by loading up Garvey with PAC funds to squeeze everyone else out. Schiff squealing about how “Trumpy” Porter is for illuminating the power of big money in California primaries is pretty rich from a leader of the party who has been promising to do something about Citizens United forever now.

      If they didn’t have a Trump to dump on they would have to invent one.

    2. Belle

      I’m not sure why CA did that, though my theory was that it was after Cindy Sheehan got second to Nancy Pelosi, way back when.

      1. Cas

        CA changed to open primaries, two top vote-getters to proceed to the general in response to Green Party candidate Audie Bock winning a CA Assembly seat in 1999. It was an run-off election, low turnout. She became the first Green to win a partisan seat not only in CA, but in the nation. The duopoly closed ranks and amended the CA Constitution with Prop 14, which did away with individual party primaries and created the top two highest vote-getters system. This effectively eliminated a third party candidate from ever advancing to the state general election. As the San Jose Mercury News declared, “California’s minor parties facing extinction under new voting system”
        The Green, Libertarian, and Peace and Freedom parties sued the CA Secty of State but lost (surprise!).
        As an aside, this is why talk of “we need a third party” is a blind alley. If ever we make progress, they change the rules.

  18. Glen

    Anecdotal data point: American health care – It’s all about the Billing

    I just spent the morning on the phone trying to find out why our medical coverage was cancelled. I think I might have got caught up in that billing system collapse because they had a record of my on line payment, but they did not process it and could no longer accept on line payments so I sent a check by priority mail. So we had to make a trip to Staples to get the Gel pens for checks so that your check doesn’t get stolen and scammed. (And while there, you have to get a clerk to open the doors to the bathrooms.) And all of this was to find out why my wife got a bill when we had medical coverage for a visit in January, but that could also be part of the medical billing mess or just part of the normal “you have coverage until you don’t” that Obamacare gave us.

    Whatever. For all the EU citizens and Canadian citizens out there hearing about the wonders of American health care, well absolutely, the doctors, nurses, techs, are wonderful, and do the best they can despite the fact that they are being slowly overworked/exposed to sickness. But basically you have to decide if you can afford it, or you want to put your family at risk of family crushing debt with every visit. My advice, you’d better fight like h$ll to keep the system you got because American health care is a nightmare.

    Stay safe out there!

  19. Mark Gisleson

    I liked that the LSD study emphasized the need for purity. Almost all the horror stories about LSD stem from ‘bad’ acid which can be anything from a minor annoyance (like a persistent vertical line on your screen) to a mind melting conflagration. Purity is very important if you mega-dose!

    After having a mind melting (campaign overwork) experience, I put myself back together with ‘grateful dead’ LSD (little purple plastic sheets of 100 tiny pyramids each containing 100micrograms of LSD). It worked really well, let me go back to college. Glad there’s a medical study to back up my 42-year-old field research ; )

    1. nippersdad

      How I read that: Looks like “Toria” is not going quietly into the dark night.

      “The US Embassy in Moscow has warned that “extremists” Germans are plotting to carry out attacks in the Russian capital [using Taurus missiles] within the next few days.”

      She is a real piece of work. Luckily their air defense is state of the art.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Emails show ‘access’ to Biden family reason for Chinese business partnership with Hunter Biden”

    The relationships were never hidden. Once when Biden as Veep flew to China on Air Force two, his son Hunter tagged along to make business deals with the Chinese. The fact that Hunter arrived on Air Force Two showed the Chinese who was really behind these deals.

  21. nippersdad

    Jack Smith, of the Trump documents case, parses what the meaning of the word “is” is:

    “While each of them, to varying degrees, bears a slight resemblance to this case … none is alleged to have willfully retained a vast trove of highly sensitive, confidential materials and repeatedly sought to thwart their lawful return and engaged in a multi-faceted scheme of deception and obstruction,” prosecutors argued in a 29-page brief. “There is no one who is similarly situated.”


    And so on and so forth. It is all of the deception that makes them so different. Seems like Hillary only giving over her e-mails after months of blithering and sorting by the lawyers of her cache in the basement bathroom (did they ever get that hard drive?) was a pretty close match. If Trump only did more yoga this could have all been avoided.

  22. spud

    the problem with the so-called originalist is, that the supremacy clause and article one, section eight trumps states rights. the supreme court just did that.

  23. bayoustjohndavid

    “The New York Post, of all people, left out the spooks?!”
    The column was written by a former CIA analyst, but I don’t know whether that makes it more or less surprising

  24. Pat

    Last Chance for rapid Covid tests from the government. They are suspending the program tomorrow, I am not sure if that includes tomorrow the eighth. But they did just accept an order from me.

    USPS link

    Sorry so late and so close just saw a bit on it.

  25. Darius

    Regarding the Real Clear Politics piece. I have had narcissists in my family. They lie constantly about stupid things. And they are stubborn about stupid or inane things. To the point of causing real inconvenience to those around them. Also, the distorted ego and manipulation. I see this in Biden. Particularly on Israel. He appears to have an irrational white savior complex about the Jews that he can’t let go of no matter what. That’s narcissistic behavior.

  26. Acacia

    So, my Twitter feed is suddenly getting regular tweets from @BidensWins, telling me how insanely great Biden is, and how all the polls are now saying he will wipe out Trump in November, etc. etc.

    Idk where this cr*p came from, but methinks somebody in his campaign decided they badly needed a social media propaganda blitz to rally the base and try to hoodwink a few million moar gullible voters to pull through.

  27. Pat

    There is no escape.
    I missed this at the Public somehow, but now there is Broadway.
    Suffs the Musical website
    A modern musical about the suffragette movement from a modern perspective with celebrity producers. Yup go down the page and you find :

    Read the official announcement in The New York Times from producers Jill Furman and Rachel Sussman, featuring comments from co-producers Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai.

    And this Reddit topic intro about the reviews will strike much of the NC commentators differently than most of the redditors.

    “I pretty much agreed word for word with the NYT review. The combination of subject matter and the show’s preoccupation with avoiding critique kind of suck the fun out of everything. I saw it last Friday, and I was glad I did, but it was a major downer. Everyone’s going to compare Suffs to Hamilton because it’s also a new musical at the Public based on historical events (it also has numerous winning performances in its ensemble cast), but I also feel that the problems with Suffs are either solved in a novel way by Hamilton or Hamilton gets the solution for free.”

    There is more but that gives the gist.

    Except that the TV commercial prominently features Hillary Clinton.
    *pounds head against wall*

  28. Glen

    Just saw this and trying to confirm with multiple sources – Kharkiv Offensive?

    The Bloom | NATO Expansion | Kharkiv Offensive Is About To Start. Military Summary For 2024.03.07

    Ukraine to start ‘mandatory evacuation’ from 57 settlements in Kharkiv

    Governor announces mandatory evacuation from near Kupiansk

    I haven’t seen anything about this in western MSM yet, but we’ll surely know more within the next 24 hours. To be honest, what I worry about is is the NATO/EU/American reaction to all of this (I’ll go into more below). And I don’t doubt that Ukraine will try some deep strikes of some sort if just to keep the news cycles more positive for them.

    So my basic concern about NATO over reaction goes back to the early days of NATO, and what would have happen if for some reason the Soviets had decided to over run Europe. I have come to believe since my Cold War days that the USSR never had any serious intentions to over run western Europe, but they were going to darn sure put a bunch of distance between any other army and their borders. And that pretty much meant Eastern Europe was their buffer zone.

    However, when the USSR and NATO forces were at their peak, the Soviet forces heavily out numbered and out gunned the western forces. The combat effectiveness for NATO forces trying to block the Fulda Gap was literally measured in hours if the Soviets came in force. The only ultimately effective deterrent became the use of so called tactical nukes like the Davy Crockett:

    Davy Crockett (nuclear device) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Crockett_(nuclear_device)

    So what is NATO/EU/America going to do if/when Russia makes some big advances in Ukraine? I was sorta hoping that Biden would have a more measured tone in tonight’s SOTU with regard to Ukraine. Certainly ramping up Ukraine is NOT going to do anything positive to get him elected, plus I think people will be horrified when they start to understand the true extent of the deaths in this war, and they’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Russia without making any significant dent. He says he will not deploy any troops. Really, so what’s left? I am really, really hoping calmer heads prevail.

    The irony here of course is that we know what the Russians will do if the $hit hits the fan and they are worried about the use of nukes. They will get help to make sure nothing bad happens:

    Why the Soviet nuclear arsenal stayed secure as the nation collapsed.

    If the situation was reversed, could you imagine our elites acting so responsibly?

    1. Yves Smith

      Dima tends to over-estimate what is about to happen.

      The Ukraine pullback is very likely true but that does not = imminent big Russian attack. They are short of troops and ammo and need to pull back to defensible positions, which in some parts of Ukraine are way behind the current lines.

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