2:00PM Water Cooler 5/15/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Oriole Warbler, Campement de Wassadou, Tambacounda, Senegal. “Duetting pair in ravine.” Go, Senegal!

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) More on Trump’s trial

(2) Biden and Trump to debate (without Kennedy).

(3) Raw milk enthusiasts resist H5N1 “fearmongering.”

(4) North Carolina’s horrid anti-masking law, and how to make sure it doesn’t pass.

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

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Less than a half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 10:

National results now moving Trump’s way. All of the Swing States (more here) are now in Trump’s column, including Michigan and Wisconsin. Pennsylvania leans more Trump this week than last. Of course, it goes without saying that these are all state polls, therefore bad, and most of the results are within the margin of error. Now, if either candidate starts breaking away in points, instead of tenths of a point…. NOTE I changed the notation: Up and down arrows for increases or decreases over last week, circles for no change. Red = Trump. Blue would be Biden if he were leading anywhere, but he isn’t.

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Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Cross-examination throws Michael Cohen off balance, but belabors point that he hates Trump” [FOX]. Final paragraph: “How much of this is swaying the public? In the latest New York Times poll, just 29% of those in six battleground states say they are paying ‘a lot’ of attention to Trump’s legal woes.”

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Trump New York hush-money trial is far from a slam dunk” [BBC]. From back in April: “[Bragg] says Trump Organization records were falsified to conceal or aid criminal activity. But even though the trial begins on Monday, he has not specified the exact crime allegedly hidden. He has however given clues. In court filings and interviews, Mr Bragg has said Mr Trump violated both state and federal election laws, and state tax laws. “The District Attorney’s office is not precluded from presenting to the jury a variety of alternative theories on sort of why the records were falsified,” says Shane T. Stansbury, a former assistant United States Attorney in New York’s southern district. But he adds that it is unclear if a state prosecutor can invoke a federal election crime, as it appears Mr Bragg intends to do. ‘We could have appellate courts and even the US Supreme Court weighing in on some of the federal questions that are part of this theory, so I think we’re a long way from having resolution on this case,’ he says.” • Oh good.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “The Appearance of Michael Cohen: A Wreck in Search of a Race” [Jonathan Turley]. “The calculus of Alvin Bragg is now obvious. He is counting on the jury convicting Trump regardless of the evidence. He believes that all he needs is to check the boxes on the elements of the crime, no matter how unbelievable the vehicle. The reason is that Bragg likely fears a directed verdict more than a jury verdict. After the government closes its evidence, the defense will move for a directed verdict on the basis that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. In other words, when the prosecution rests this week, Trump’s counsel will stand and ask Merchan to end the case before it is even given to the jury. Many of us agree with that assessment. After three weeks of testimony, there is still confusion on what crime Trump was allegedly seeking to cover up. Bragg has vaguely referred to using the denotation of payments to Daniels as ‘legal expenses’ as a fraud committed to steal the election. However, the election was over when those denotations were made. Moreover, many believe that such a characterization for payments related to a nondisclosure agreement was accurate. (Hillary Clinton’s campaign claimed in the same election that hiding the funding for the Steele dossier as legal expenses was perfectly accurate). Judge Juan Merchan, in my view, has failed repeatedly to protect the rights of the accused in this case. However, he can claim that there was enough alleged to give Bragg the chance to make his case. Thus far he has not done so and, if he is truly neutral, Merchan should grant the motion.” • I think Turley is table-pounding again. I doubt very much Merchan will grant a directed verdict.

Trump (R) (Bragg Merchan): “Trump Should Be Acquitted in Manhattan” [Andrew McCarthy, National Review]. This is well worth a complete and careful read. “Trump ought to be acquitted for the simplest of reasons: Prosecutors can’t prove their case — neither the case the grand jury actually charged, 34 counts of felony business-records falsification, nor the case that elected progressive Democratic district attorney Alvin Bragg has imagined into existence, an uncharged conspiracy to steal the 2016 election by suppressing politically damaging information in violation of federal campaign-finance law.” The business records charges: “Under §175.05 of New York’s penal law as relevant here, to establish the misdemeanor, prosecutors must prove that the accused ‘with intent to defraud . . . causes a false entry [to be made] in the business records of an enterprise’ (emphasis added). I have highlighted two elements of the crime because they are discrete and it is vital not to conflate them. If fraudulent intent could be assumed from the fact than an entry is false, the legislature would not have added the words ‘with intent to defraud.’ Both elements must be proved — falsity and fraudulent intent.” And: “As for the entries in the Trump Organization records, testimony at trial this week showed that the bookkeeping department logged payments as ‘legal expenses.’ Not much thought went into this: The bookkeeping department was using a drop-down menu on a computer program designed in the early nineties, and routinely put payments to lawyers and related expenses in this general category. That aside, these were legal expenses. Cohen was Trump’s lawyer when he negotiated the NDA with Daniels’ lawyers and paid the $130,000 to close the deal. That’s an expense incurred in a legal transaction.” McCarthy then goes on to discuss Cohen’s installement payments, where he thinks Bragg is on firmer ground, but this article was written before Cohen’s testimony. On election theft: “Bragg’s fever dream, which he’s trying to spin into an actionable conspiracy offense, is that Trump stole the 2016 election. But that’s partisan hyperbole, not a legal theory. New York has no crime of “election theft”; in the criminal law, there can be no conspiracy unless the objective of the conspiratorial enterprise is a crime. By Bragg’s lights — to the extent I can wrap my brain around his contention — Trump schemed to deprive the nation of a Hillary Clinton presidency.” On campaign finance, a potential object offense: “Federal campaign-finance laws are abstruse, so Congress unsurprisingly requires prosecutors to prove willfulness beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases involving them. Bragg can’t come anywhere close to providing such proof with respect to Trump’s supposed ‘intent’ to violate the laws regarding disclosure of campaign expenditures. Bragg contends that Trump paid money to conceal damaging information (Stormy’s allegation of a tryst) that would have harmed his election bid. Even if that’s true, to bury information in the context of a campaign is not the same thing as willfully transgressing the campaign-finance laws. There is no evidence that the campaign laws factored into Trump’s thinking at all. To the contrary, the evidence cuts the other way Bragg’s prosecutors have made much of Trump’s hands-on management style, his penchant for watching every penny and minimizing costs. If, as Bragg maintains, Trump believed that the Stormy NDA and the reimbursement of Cohen arising out of it were campaign expenditures under federal law, there is no reason to believe that Trump would have paid them out of his own pocket; he would instead have used campaign funds.” And: “Add to this that the FEC — a federal agency that actually has jurisdiction to enforce the campaign laws and expertise in applying them — investigated Trump and decided not to proceed against him. Why is that important? Because the FEC is in charge of civil enforcement. The civil burden of proof of a violation is a mere preponderance of the evidence, a significant step down from the burden on prosecutors to prove criminal offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. If the FEC concluded that it could not prevail against Trump on a civil-law standard, it is absurd to think he could be proved guilty on the daunting criminal-law standard.” • Again, this is from May 11, and doesn’t take Cohen’s testimony, which may speak to intent, into account. Still worth a read!

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Prosecutors say Trump’s hush money was ‘election interference.’ Will jurors — and voters — believe it?” [Politico]. “Despite its tabloid roots in a “catch and kill” scheme aimed at suppressing the stories of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, Bragg’s defenders have described the scheme as a bid to win the White House in 2016 by fraudulently concealing information from voters. In this framing, the hush money scheme was a precursor to Trump’s bid to hang on to power by illegitimate means four years later. ‘It is an election interference gateway drug,’ said Norm Eisen, a former Obama White House ethics lawyer who served as a special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first impeachment of Trump. Eisen is at the forefront of the effort to rebrand the New York case and released a book earlier this month titled, ‘Trying Trump: A Guide to His First Election Interference Criminal Trial.'” Fine. What statute did Trump violate? More: “[Former Federal Election Commissioner Bradley Smith] said the issue in this case, as in Edwards’, isn’t just whether the defendant had a general understanding of campaign finance law, but could really have known for sure that what he was doing was illegal. ‘The strongest argument for Trump is that in fact there is quite a bit of controversy over whether this is illegal. Look at the FEC’s own rulings,’ Smith said. It’s unclear how Bragg’s prosecutors would meet that burden or if the judge will require them to. Pretrial motions didn’t really tee up the issue. It is likely to arise as the lawyers debate jury instructions or in a motion the defense typically makes asking the judge to toss the case after the prosecution’s witnesses have testified. Eisen said he thinks Justice Juan Merchan will apply a lower standard in the state prosecution [no doubt!]. ‘It’s so much easier than in federal court,” Eisen said. However, there’s a risk to allowing prosecutors to get a conviction without having to prove that Trump knew he was breaking the law: That issue could be strong fodder for an appeal and might lead to any guilty verdicts against Trump being overturned.”

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “The increasingly embarrassing details at Trump’s trial” [Aaron Blake, WaPo]. “Not only has the testimony tied Trump to an objectively seedy plot to keep Stormy Daniels’s and other people’s allegations against Trump from public view, but it also has occasionally featured some personal details that could live long in 2024 voters’ memories — and potentially campaign ads. And that’s not just when it comes to the salacious details of the alleged sexual encounter.” • “Objectively seedy.” Why, it’s almost as if that was Bragg’s goal!

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Trump (R): “Crypto is Trump’s new weapon against Biden” [Politico]. From last week: “Donald Trump is making presidential history all over again: He’s poised to be the first major party nominee to court cryptocurrency traders. It’s leaving some Democrats feeling uneasy. Trump told crypto backers at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday that they ‘better vote’ for him because of the way the Biden administration has unleashed a regulatory crackdown on the industry.” • Politico emptied its Rolodex on this one, but I’m guessing the explanation is simple: Trump is trying to peel away Kennedy voters, because Kennedy is pro-crypto. That’s disconcerting, because it means Trump is acting like a conventional politician, assembling bundles of verticals. I hope Susie Wiles didn’t get him thinking that way, but I attribute the change, if change it be, to Trump being tied up in court, and not being able to do A/B testing at rallies. Stoller agrees:

Trump (R): Wildwood, New Jersey:

Hmm. Goes with reader observations on lack of Trump yard signs [musical interlude].

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Haley (R): “Nikki Haley gathers her donors and ignores Trump” [Politico]. “During a private, two-day donor retreat in Charleston, South Carolina, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador thanked a group of around 100 donors and her team gave a presentation on her campaign’s fundraising and strategy. But Trump was barely mentioned even as Haley continues to rack up votes in primaries despite dropping out of the race in early March. As expected, Haley did not endorse the former president during the retreat, nor did she encourage her supporters to back his campaign, according to attendees at the event. The Charleston retreat showed the former GOP candidate continues to have the backing of an extremely loyal group of donors and supporters who plan to keep following her, even though she has yet to announce her next move beyond joining the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank.” • Hmm.

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Biden (D): Biden challenges Trump:

Biden (D): “Biden, Trump agree to June presidential debate hosted by CNN” [Axios]. “President Biden and former President Trump have agreed to participate in a June 27 presidential debate hosted by CNN. The CNN debate sets up a televised confrontation before either candidate’s nominations are formally complete and marks their first televised match-up since 2020. The candidates are threatening to cut the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which has managed debates since 1988, out of the process. The debate will be held in CNN’s Atlanta studios, the network announced Wednesday. CNN said no audience members will be present. The Biden campaign views the current debates as ‘structured like an entertainment spectacle’ that doesn’t enforce its own rules, per a letter to the commission released Wednesday. The campaign instead wants to work directly with broadcast networks that host both GOP and Democratic primary debates. The letter proposes just the two candidates and a moderator, with no audience. It also suggests microphones that cut off automatically at time limits and when it’s not a candidate’s turn to speak.” • I’m glad to see the Commission on Presidential Debates get the chop, but why not the League of Woman Voters? Presumably because Biden wants strict control over the environment — hence, no audience, which I think is unfortunate. Just select audience members at random.

Biden (D): “Biden Offers to Debate Trump, With Terms, Shunning the Debate Commission” [New York Times]. “Mr. Biden and his top aides want the debates to start much sooner than the dates proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates, so voters can see the two candidates side by side well before early voting begins in September. They want the debate to occur inside a TV studio, with microphones that automatically cut off when a speaker’s time limit elapses. And they want it to be just the two candidates and the moderator — without the raucous in-person audiences that Mr. Trump feeds on and without the participation of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or other independent or third-party candidates.” • I’m sure cutting out Kennedy suits Trump just fine.

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Biden (D): “Playbook: The other trials hanging over 2024” [Politico]. “Two radio interviews Biden recorded with Black journalists will air today, one in Milwaukee, and the other in Atlanta … on Thursday, Biden is set to meet with plaintiffs from the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case and their families … on Friday, he will give remarks at an NAACP event featuring the Brown plaintiffs and members of the Little Rock Nine … on Saturday, he heads to Atlanta for a campaign event … and on Sunday, he will give the commencement address at Morehouse College, the legendary all-male HBCU, before traveling to Detroit for the annual NAACP Freedom Fund dinner. It’s quite the run of events, and while most of these have been planned for some time, we’re still struck by (1) the timing — coming just as the new NYT/Siena polls put a new spotlight on his persistent weakness with Black voters — and (2) the conventionality of the outreach here, which leans heavily on a civil-rights focus that might not be especially relevant to the young and politically unengaged voters who are dissatisfied with Biden and flirting with other candidates.” • Investing a lot of the campaign’s most valuable resource — the candidate’s time — very early, and on a constituency I would think they had locked up.

Biden (D): “Panic or patience? The Democrats’ dilemma as Biden stumbles out of the gate” [Washington Examiner]. “Trump’s leads are not big, at least not in most places, and by historical standards should not be insurmountable. Trump is up by 1.2 points nationally. The RealClearPolitics average shows him ahead by just 0.6 points in Wisconsin. Biden and the Democrats have a money advantage over Trump, enhanced by the fact that only one candidate faces staggering legal bills. The Democratic campaign apparatus should be formidable. This is also extremely early in the general election cycle. Democrats exceeded expectations in the midterm elections. They have added to their coalition higher propensity voters in the Trump era. Biden has dismissed ‘the polling data’ as having been ‘wrong all along’ although that was as much a comment about the public’s conclusions about the economy as the accuracy of the polls. This is an argument for trusting the process and the Biden campaign to methodically erode Trump’s leads in the battleground states in the coming months as voters start paying closer attention. It is a safer bet, these Democrats contend, than trying to force out Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in favor of candidates who did not participate in a primary process the incumbent largely dominated.” • Harris really does work as an insurance policy. If there is to be another candidate (Newsom, Pritzker, whoever) Harris has to be thrown under the bus. I don’t see how that happens, and Black voters would be unhappy (see above two links) and very willing to share their unhappiness. But I can’t imagine a more gravitas-free Presidential candidate than Harris. If the Democrat machine is capable of putting her in the Oval Office, my hat will be off to them.

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WI: “Biden campaign works to woo Black voters in key swing state of Wisconsin” [ABC]. “In his fourth trip to Wisconsin already this year, President Joe Biden on Wednesday, at an intimate [i.e., controlllable in case of disaster] campaign event in the swing state, sought out Black voters to speak about the stakes in November… On Wednesday the campaign announced a new $14 million paid media investment for May that includes seven-figure investments into African American, Hispanic, and AAPI media. Wisconsin has special political significance. It’s part of the critical ‘blue wall’ in the Midwest that voted Democratic for decades before Trump’s candidacy. Biden only won the state over Trump in 2020 by some 20,000 votes. A loss in November would likely be a major blow to his reelection effort. According to the latest Marquette Law School polling, just 37% of Black voters in Wisconsin say they’re ‘very enthusiastic’ about November’s presidential election. The coveted group makes up nearly 7% of the state’s population, according to the 2020 census and 21% in Milwaukee. In a recent Washington Post/Ipsos poll, Biden faces additional problems with Black Americans in terms of turnout. The poll found that 62% of Black Americans say they’re ‘absolutely certain to vote,’ down from 74% in June 2020.”

WV: “Jan. 6 felony rioter Derrick Evans loses GOP House primary in West Virginia” [NBC News]. “Evans’ fundraising emails, with subject lines like “I did time in Prison for Trump,” have highlighted his actions on Jan. 6 as a selling point for his candidacy. One ad even featured stock video of fake FBI agents busting through a window feet-first, when, in fact, video shows that Evans’ 2021 arrest was relatively mundane…. [Rep. Carol Miller], who was first elected to the House in 2018, is a supporter of Trump, and she aligned with him in nearly all of her votes when he was in office. Miller was even one of 147 Republicans who voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory after the Capitol attack. Trump did not endorse in Miller’s primary.” • Ten paragraphs on the riot (not an “insurrection,” hmm) but no actual results (!), which were Reed 63%, Miller 37%.

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“Column: A lesson from Presidents Biden and Trump — the new normal is nonstop crises” [Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times]. “‘People are reeling from the sense that we can’t get going in the right direction,’ said Celinda Lake, one of Biden’s top pollsters, relating sentiments from voters in focus groups. ‘They’ve been shocked by events they never expected: Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine, Gaza, even the wildfires in Maui and the collapse of the bridge in Baltimore.'” • Not to mention a pandemic in which a million people died. “Focus” seems rather like a misnomer….

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Can the 2024 DNC Thwart Chicago Protests by Going Virtual?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. • They’d l-o-o-o-v-e to go virtual. If Biden slips a cog, they stop the tape. And if the Convention ends up in a smoke-filled room, nobody will be able to cover it. The protesters are just giving them a handy excuse for what they want to do anyway.


“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

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Covid 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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Airborne Transmission

“Nukit Tempest Review” [Joey Fox, It’s Airborne]. “Nukit recently created a new air cleaner called the Tempest, which I think could be the best one on the market for many situations. It uses the PC fans to ensure high clean air delivery rate with very low noise…. This is currently the best model for people who want a sturdy and professional looking air cleaner. If I was asked to design a space with in room air cleaners, this is could be the best option, so I’m pickier with this than any other one I’ve seen.”• Although Fox does suggest improvements, this a big thumbs up for Naomi Wu’s company from a highly credible North American source.

Transmission: H5N1

“How fast is bird flu spreading in US cows? ‘We have no idea'” [The Hill]. “‘Without testing, without surveillance, we have no idea [of the spread],’ [Erin Sorrell, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security] said. ‘We are not able to essentially move forward with an improved approach to protecting agricultural workers from occupational exposures if we don’t understand how they were exposed, and the potential risk of additional people being exposed and infected.’ … Farmers have been reluctant to allow federal health officials onto their land to test potentially infected cattle amid uncertainty about how their businesses would be impacted. Farmworkers have also been reluctant to participate in screening, and experts said it’s likely due to a mix of fears over job loss, immigration status, language barriers and general distrust in public health systems. ‘They are socioeconomically vulnerable. … In some circumstances, it kind of requires the buy-in of the employer to engage in surveillance of these workers. And that hasn’t happened in a substantial way to date,’ said Jessica Leibler, an environmental epidemiologist at Boston University’s school of public health.” • [Family blog] their businesses if they depend on infected cattle. Of course, that will never happen, because libertarians will immediately start yammering about tyranny. And they’re gonna yammer us all the way into the next pandemic.

“Flu season is over, but there is a viral surge in California wastewater. Is it avian flu?” [Los Angeles Times]. “An unusual surge in flu viruses detected at wastewater treatment plants in California and other parts of the country is raising concerns among some experts that H5N1 bird flu may be spreading farther and faster than health officers initially thought. In the last several weeks, wastewater surveillance at 59 of 190 U.S. municipal and regional sewage plants has revealed an out-of-season spike in influenza A flu viruses — a category that also includes H5N1. The testing — which is intended to monitor the prevalence of ‘normal’ flu viruses that affect humans — has also shown a moderate to high upward trend at 40 sites across California, including San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. Almost every city tested in the Bay Area shows moderate to high increases of type A viruses…. ‘There seems to be an outbreak throughout California, and, as far as I know, they haven’t reported any infected cows in that state yet,’ said Marc Johnson, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the University of Missouri, referring to the cluster of yellow and orange dots on the WastewaterSCAN map. Johnson is among a number of experts urging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test specifically for H5N1 and to make those results public.” • Seems like what CDC from butchering the Covid tests was to avoid testing, and, if testing happens, conceal the results as long as possible. Why the heck isn’t Maskless Mandy out there jawboning the farmers? Or, for that matter, Biden? More from Johnson:

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“Raw-milk fans plan to drink up as experts warn of high levels of H5N1 virus” [Ars Technica]. “To drink raw milk at any time is to flirt with dangerous germs. But, amid an unprecedented outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in US dairy cows, the risks have ratcheted up considerably. Health experts have stepped up warnings against drinking raw milk during the outbreak, the scope of which is still unknown. Yet, raw milk enthusiasts are undaunted by the heightened risk. The California-based Raw Milk Institute called the warnings ‘clearly fearmongering.’ The institute’s founder, Mark McAfee, told the Los Angeles Times this weekend that his customers are, in fact, specifically requesting raw milk from H5N1-infected cows. According to McAfee, his customers believe, without evidence, that directly drinking high levels of the avian influenza virus will give them immunity to the deadly pathogen.” • A problem that may solve itself, over time….


(The thread includes a sample email.)

NC’s anti-mask law (2):

NC’s anti-mask law (3):

But why the baggy blue….

Elite Maleficence

Cleaning the air for themselves, but not for us:

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Lambert here: Patient readers, I’m going to have to rethink this beautifully formatted table. Looks like Biobot data still functions, CDC variant data functions, ER visits are dead, New York hospitalization seems to be dead since 5/1 [No, it’s alive!], when CDC stopped mandatory hospital data collection, Walgreens functions, Cleveland Clinic functions, CDC traveler’s data functions, New York Times death data has stopped. (Note that the two metrics the hospital-centric CDC cared about, hospitalization and deaths, have both gone down). Ideally I would replace hospitalization and death data, but I’m not sure how. I might also expand the wastewater section to include (yech) Verily data, H5N1 if I can get it. Suggestions and sources welcome.

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

National[1] Biobot May 13: Regional[2] Biobot May 13:
Variants[3] CDC May 11 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC March 23
New York[5] New York State, data May 14: National [6] CDC May 4:
National[7] Walgreens May 13: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic May 4:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC April 22: Variants[10] CDC April 22:
Weekly deaths New York Times March 16: Percent of deaths due to Covid-19 New York Times March 16:


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) Slight upward movement, supported by yesterday’s Walgreen’s positivity.

[2] (Biobot) No backward revisons….

[3] (CDC Variants) FWIW, given that the model completely missed KP.2.

[4] (ER) CDC seems to have killed this off, since the link is broken, I think in favor of this thing. I will try to confirm. UPDATE Yes, leave it to CDC to kill a page, and then announce it was archived a day later. And heaven forfend CDC should explain where to go to get equivalent data, if any. I liked the ER data, because it seemed really hard to game.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) The data is now updating again. I suppose to a tame epidemiologist it looks like “endemicity,” but to me it looks like another tranche of lethality.

[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) Slight uptick.

[8] (Cleveland) Leveling out.

[9] (Travelers: Posivitity) Flattens.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) JN.1 dominates utterly. Still no mention of KP.2

[11] Looks like the Times isn’t reporting death data any more? Maybe I need to go back to The Economist….

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI)” [Trading Economics]. “The consumer price index in the United States rose by 3.4% year-over-year to 313.548 points in April 2024, following a 3.5% increase in March and below the market consensus of a 3.4% advance. ” • 3.4% < 3.4%? Manufacturing: "United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index" [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index fell to -15.6 in May 2024 from -14.3 in the previous month, below the market consensus of -10.0. The reading suggested that business activity declined for a sixth consecutive month in New York State, with new orders falling significantly and unfilled orders continuing to shrink while shipments held steady. Delivery times shortened, and inventories were little changed. Labor market conditions remained weak, with employment and hours worked continuing to move lower.”

Retail: “United States Retail Sales YoY” [Trading Economics]. “Retail Sales in the United States increased 3% year-on-year in April 2024, following a downwardly revised 3.8% gain in March.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “DOJ: Boeing breached 2021 safety agreement that prevented charges for crashes” [Axios]. “The Department of Justice said Boeing breached its obligations under a 2021 agreement that allowed it to avoid criminal prosecution for two fatal 737 MAX crashes, according to a court filing Tuesday. Under the agreement, Boeing paid more than $2.5 billion to settle criminal charges related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration allegations in connection with the FAA’s investigation into the jet crashes that killed 346 people in 2018 and 2019. The DOJ said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, that Boeing failed to ‘design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations,’ per Reuters.” • Whoopsie.

Manufacturing: “Ex-Boeing engineer sidelined after a 787 critique defends troubled plane” [Dominic Gates, Seattle Times]. “Salehpour’s main allegations center on how the large 787 fuselage sections are fastened together with a “splice plate” around the circular join between them. (He made separate allegations about poor manufacturing quality on Boeing’s 777 jet.) His concern on the 787 is how Boeing deals with tiny gaps at those major fuselage joins. These gaps are not along the circumference of the join but inside the aircraft, between the splice plate and the skin of the fuselage. Salehpour claims the forces Boeing mechanics apply to close these gaps during final assembly can damage the carbon composite skin around the fasteners at the join — risking a major structural failure… Hart-Smith [also a Boeing dissident] believes Salehpour is mistaken. His analysis supports Boeing’s insistence that the 787 fuselage gaps are not a safety risk. Salehpour is ‘right in theory that if you have to apply too much force to close the gaps during assembly, that could damage the structure,’ Hart-Smith said in a phone interview from Australia. ‘But it appears the gaps are not big enough to make that happen. ‘It’s not a safety issue.'” • That would be nice.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 15 at 1:49:41 PM ET.

The Gallery

A non-creepy Balthus!

Class Warfare

“Trypillia mega-sites: a social levelling concept?” [Antiquity]. “Explanations for the emergence and abandonment of the Chalcolithic Trypillia mega-sites have long been debated. Here, the authors use Gini coefficients based on the sizes of approximately 7000 houses at 38 Trypillia sites to assess inequality between households as a factor in the rise and/or demise of these settlements. The results indicate temporarily reduced social inequality at mega-sites. It was only after several generations that increased social differentiation re-emerged and this may explain the subsequent abandonment of the mega-sites. The results indicate that increases in social complexity need not be associated with greater social stratification and that large aggregations of population can, for a time at least, find mechanisms to reduce inequality.” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

“How Google Became Evil” [Dana Blankenhorn, Facing the Future]. “When a company loses its passion, when it tosses employee morale in the sink, it’s time to walk away. I dumped my Alphabet (Google) stock last week. Google began losing its way the day co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin left. They’re now the 6th and 7th richest people in the world. Their fortunes, taken together, would rank them 1st, by a huge margin. What are they doing? Not much. Page ‘invests in start-ups’ and ‘life extension.’ Brin has hosted a baby shower where adults wore diapers. These are no longer serious people. Yet both retain their voting stock meaning they, and in time their kids, will be absolute rulers of all Google domains.” • Oh.

* * *

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 IM:

IM writes: “The dearth of pines did not go unnoticed. A ponderosa pine from the ancient gneiss bluffs above vaseaux lake in the south okanagan. More than 400 days old I’m guessing.” In response to yesterday’s bonus plant, which I repost, with commentary:

I should pair this with a pine tree, but I don’t seem to have one in the queue….

And a pine tree magically appeared!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for three or four days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

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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

    “Column: A lesson from Presidents Biden and Trump — the new normal is nonstop crises” [Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times]. “‘People are reeling from the sense that we can’t get going in the right direction,’ said Celinda Lake, one of Biden’s top pollsters, relating sentiments from voters in focus groups. ‘They’ve been shocked by events they never expected: Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine, Gaza, even the wildfires in Maui and the collapse of the bridge in Baltimore.’” • Not to mention a pandemic in which a million people died. “Focus” seems rather like a misnomer….

    The current system is so beholden to special interest as to be literally unreformable.

    Take healthcare for example. Anyone with as brains as God gave a baby rabbit can tell that the US healthcare system is dysfunctional. By any objective measure, it delivers substandard outcomes and does so at an exorbitant cost.

    The problem is that all those inefficiencies mean profit$$. (Market theoreticians say that in a perfect market, everyone breaks even, which in turn demonstrates just how imperfect the US healthcare market is, but that is another matter.)

    Everyone agrees that reform is needed and inefficiencies eliminated. The problem is that the there are a lot of people and institutions that profit off those inefficiencies. None of them want their slice of the pie to be touched, all of them are entrenched and all of them have their congressmen on speed dial.

    To give a few examples:
    *The AMA
    *The trial lawyers
    *The HMOs and hospitals
    *The insurance companies
    *The alternative medicine industry (because legit medical care is expensive)
    *The pharma manufacturers (generic and name brand have somewhat different interests at stake here)
    *The universities (many of which perform services for Big Pharma and not only)
    *The unions (many of which run their own health insurance plans)

    Any real reform will put some of the above out of business, and will substantially limit the profits available to others.

    For instance, can you imagine the howling from the AMA if reforms had the effect of reducing doctors’ salaries to European levels? “How am I supposed to keep two ex-wives and a Porsche on a measly $85K a year?” For that matter, the ex-wives and the Porsche dealer won’t be too happy, either.

    The people in charge of these interests have careers and vacation homes at stake, and they are going to fight against reform a lot harder than someone not so heavily invested in the status quo will fight for reform.

    These interests don’t necessarily line up with one political party or the other, so it’s not like we can just vote Team D or Team R and we got the problem licked.

    1. Fastball

      “[] ..so it’s not like we can just vote Team D or Team R … []”

      I’ll file this under “how to describe the absolute need for a hard socialist revolution without actually calling for one”.

      1. Acacia

        A.k.a. Harkonnens.

        (With a special shout-out to H.R. Giger’s “Capo” Harkonnen Chair, which wannabe rentier Barons can pick up for a mere $30,000 (fiberglass model) or $50,000 for the full cast-aluminium beauty).

  2. brian wilder

    IANAL, but I imagine if Trump had been convicted of a federal crime in federal court, it would be OK to invoke that proven crime as the object offense. But, a state court cannot convict anyone of a federal crime, can it? And if the alleged federal crime serving as the object offense is unproven and untried, it is little more than slander to pose it as object offense.

    Maybe exposing the logic like that helps or not?

  3. lambert strether

    The NC vote outlawing masking (see Maskstravaganza) is 4:PM TODAY. If any readers can call, please consider calling NOW.

    PS, orts and scraps added.

    1. doug

      I am likely to be arrested when it passes. I will be out there.
      These folks have made up their minds. They really don’t care or respond to input in my district. We north carolinians voted in a veto proof majority which was a big mistake in my mind. The D’s needed a few seats, and failed to get them.

      1. flora

        Sue the lege for practicing medicine without a license.

        Banning mandates is one thing. Banning individual health decisions often made in consultation with their doctors is beyond stupid.

    2. Jason Boxman

      The state trying to actually kill me is a new experience; it’s not new to minorities nor undocumented workers nor the indigent in this country. I’m fortunate enough that I can move; and I’ll certainly communicate that to my state representatives, for what that’s worth. TN just over the border is so enlightened, they don’t have a state income tax, and IVM is available OTC; the tax savings alone make it a strong consideration, as my move would literally almost be free.

    3. lambert strether

      The bill passed with the health exemption removed. Sickening, literally so. Gross violation of the ADA, too.

      1. flora

        The courts will strike it down. Unfortunately, that will take some time.

        This is a stupid tit-for-tat game against the Dems for B demanding jab mandates with no religious or health exemptions, if I remember. That was stupid, too.

    1. Pat

      Well they couldn’t really say that Biden fears his son could end up making sure he goes to prison could they. I know I for one do not for a moment think Hunter being in prison concerns Joe for a red hot second except for its fallout on him.

    2. Wukchumni

      You have to look for a silver lining in these matters…

      Think of Hunter as being the First Pen Pal, history making!

  4. Samuel Conner

    > According to McAfee, his customers believe, without evidence, that directly drinking high levels of the avian influenza virus will give them immunity to the deadly pathogen.” • A problem that may solve itself, over time….

    The “herd immunity” jokes write themselves.

    I wonder if the public health authorities will produce PSAs themed “you are not a calf”.

  5. Tom Stonet

    It sure as heck is ‘Flu season in California, I have heard of seven cases in the last 2 weeks and I’m pretty isolated due to concerns about Covid.
    This may well be due to widespread immune dysregulation which is affecting tens of millions of Americans, if Avian ‘Flu does make the jump to Humans we will likely be hearing “Bring out your dead” instead of “Man, that was a bad case of ‘Flu”.

    1. Jason Boxman

      yes, my other thought was immune damage from repeat COVID infections might lead to flu circulating more readily outside of its traditional seasonality. If only we had any useful data.

    2. Lunker Walleye

      My California friend (North of Modesto) told me yesterday that she had been very ill for three days. She called it “a dreadful cold/flu type thing”.

    1. Pat

      Oh I have no doubt that it will, even if it stops now. Does anyone really think Haley or Abbott would hesitate to use these tactics against Democrats if given the opportunity?

      1. Feral Finster

        A Haley or an Abbott would not use such tactics on Uniparty members in good standing who happened to be part of the Team D faction. They are entitled to deference.

        They would not hesitate to use such tactics on congressmen who were outside the Washington Consensus, whether nominally Team R or Team D.

        1. Pat

          Oh, I think they might pull it on some big names if they were bothering them. We will only know for sure if one of them gets elected and HRC finally retires from view, but I don’t think membership will provide automatic protection.

          But you are right that state level lawfare prosecutions could be more problematic.

    2. Lost in OR

      it is eventually going to come back to bite them in the [family blog].

      I’m not so sure. Had a chat with my sister in Maine who can’t discuss this with anybody who doesn’t hate T as much as she does. Her big surprise is that media coverage can be manipulated. She gets the truth from MSNBC.

      I think people have formed their positions and that’s that. Wherever you stand, it’s just kayfabe?

    3. Belle

      That’s good. It will help those who don’t have those skeletons in their closet.
      Of course, the establishment already comes after them with propaganda. (See Sanders, Kucinich, Grayson, Turner, McKinney, Rowley, Manning…)

  6. SD

    Re: H5N1
    I posted a comment several days ago about unplugging from the Poultry/Meat/Dairy industrial complex by attempting a “vegan moment” during which I would not eat animal products of any kind. “Vegan” is so demonized and mocked as a way of eating that I’ve been uncomfortable even talking about it with my family and close friends. If I could re-brand vegan, I might put it in the same category as the BDS campaign or other boycotts, which it truly is for me. I am Boycotting the Industrial Poultry/Meat/Dairy complex. BIPMD? The CDC and FDA and USDA are corporate-captured, and I don’t trust anything they have to say when they say that something like H5N1-infected milk is nothing to worry about.

    P.S. I don’t think I will keep this boycott going permanently. I am fortunate to live in an area of the country, Western Massachusetts, where there is robust PMD production capability among local farmers and small-scale food processors. Wonderful cheeses, fantastic [but expensive–like $30 for a 4-5 pound chicken] poultry products, and a few local farms that raise cattle for beef. Since no one asked, I will keep the NC commentariat posted!

      1. SD

        Thank you. Some of those look amazing. There’s a spicy red lentil stew from Milk Street that I’ve made twice now that is my current go-to for a stick-to-your-ribs dish. Indian, Mexican, and Greek/Mediterranean recipes are easy to adapt if they’re not “accidentally vegan” already. It’s been a fun project so far.

    1. Phenix

      I have not eaten meat for 20+ years. I have been vegan in my house for 5+ years. I had to give up honey bc of my fructose intolerance….yes it’s a thing. I would eat my chicken’s eggs but those go to the dogs.

      I have had a few interesting conversations over the years. I am not a preachy vegan. I am a Buddhist so veganism is really part of the deal. I don’t really care what you eat. I only ask that you respect your food. I have only had issues with people that feel threatened by my diet… mostly other men.

  7. Will

    US gives Saudis green light to try to revive peace deal with Houthis


    US determination to keep Saudi Arabia engaged in a peace process with Israel has led Washington to give Riyadh an informal green light to try to revive a peace deal with the Houthis, the Yemen-based rebels who have been attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea since November.

    It now appears Saudi Arabia, with the support of the UN special envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, wants to press ahead with the roadmap [for peace], even though it could lead to large sums of money being handed to the Houthis, who will also eventually be given a permanent place in a proposed national unity government.

    In a meeting on Monday, Grundberg told the UN-recognised government in Aden opposed to the Houthis that peace talks should go ahead. He added that he had told the Houthis he could not envisage the roadmap being signed if the Red Sea attacks continued.

    Houthis about to be bought off?

    1. The Rev Kev

      The Saudis and the Houthis had this deal all ready to be signed off several months ago. But after the US declared them to be a terrorist entity after the attacks on the shipping, this made it impossible for the Saudis to do so lest they he hit by sanctions for supporting a terrorist entity. So will the Houthis buckle over a deal that they were going to get anyway? And even if they sign, after the war winds down in Gaza, I would fully expect the US to again declare the Houthis terrorists and seek to come after them.

  8. Pat

    Whatever else can be said about Trump in Wildwood, I do feel the need to point out that he is the only one of our useless octogenarian candidates who could have hung out in the cold campaigning for ninety minutes. And once again Trump and Biden lead a long list of people I would ban from the White House and government offices and jobs.

    And without a panel of moderators from the League of Women Voters who politely decline both suggested questions and any limits on topics from the candidates and their minions, I know I won’t bother watching a Biden/Trump debate. I believe those items to be the minimum requirements for any debate for national office which is why we will never see them put in place.

    1. Wukchumni

      The video was oddly poignant with a roller coaster in the background, and Trump could have been selling non-stick cookware, with 34 people vaguely interested, milling around.

      I think the public is tired of both him & Biden, but sadly one of them will prevail.

      1. Pat

        I think the public is tired period. Sadly both sides have managed to set up situations that scare the shit out of some people. (TDS on one, and I think the over the top prosecutions of January 6 rioters and the lawfare against Trump work the same way for the other.) I could be wrong, but imo most people desperately want change and peace, but know that the system is so corrupt it isn’t happening and that neither of these guys and the others in their parties aren’t going ever going to truly throw the billionaires into the volcano and actually support the needs of most Americans.

  9. Carolinian

    Re the campaign–I’m out West and per Lambert’s request only saw three pro Trump displays on the mostly interstate journey. But there was the self described Trump Maga Super Store near Knoxville. Didn’t stop over for merch.

    Trump’s fans seem to see the contest more in sporting terms than the apocalyptic turn of the Dems. Trump too?

    1. Wukchumni

      Was at the Woodlake Rodeo (‘America’s Most Beautiful Rodeo Grounds’ is the claim) on Saturday and there was a ‘Patriot Store’ stand outside in the 90 degree heat, and it was full of borderline immoral and/or thems fighting words different flavors of Trump merchandise.

      The audience was about 2/3rds Mexican-Americans, and I asked the proprietor how sales were going, and he gave me a knowing look that said all, and related:

      ‘This isn’t anything like the 2020 election, I made bank back then…’

      A slice of the action from 1969, doesn’t look all that different now~

      Suicide Race — cowboys swim horses through a pond at Woodlake Rodeo, California — 1969


  10. Fastball

    “Just select audience members at random”

    I think we’d be better off selecting Presidents at random, from amongst the US populace.

  11. ChrisFromGA

    Lawn mowin’

    Sung to the tune of, “Ramrod” by Bruce Springsteen


    1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4
    Hey little buddy with the yarmulke on
    From the land of milk and honey, ransack that aid ’til it’s gone
    Let your hair down Bibi and roll in them tanks
    Come on and meet me tonight, down where the bodies stank
    I’ve been working all week, I’m up to my neck in blood
    But come Saturday night I vaporize ’em good

    Well she’s a hot stepping hemi with a four on the floor
    But she’s a lawn-mowin’ engine built for forever wars
    And late at night when I’m crossin’ Joes’ red lines
    I swear I think of your pretty face when I let her unwind
    Well look over yonder see them Gaza lights
    Yeah come on little baby go lawn mowin’ tonight

    Well I say, come on, come on, come on little baby
    Come on, come on let’s depopulate it tonight
    Come on, come, come on little sugar
    Dance with your daddy and we’ll go lawn mowin’ tonight


    Hey, little darling won’t you say you will
    Meet me tonight up on top of the hill
    Well just a few miles ‘cross the Rafah line
    Well there’s some cute little shrapnel severin’ victims’ spines
    Say you’ll be mine little girl I’ll put my foot to the floor
    Give me the word now Bibi we’ll go lawn-movin’ forever wars
    Alright, yeah, hey, let’s go!

  12. Benny Profane

    “Objectively seedy.” Why, it’s almost as if that was Bragg’s goal!

    I just don’t get this. Weren’t we here in ’16 with Stormy and the grabbing video? And, again, the DNC thinks we forgot? It’s all new? Were supposed to be shocked? Gawd, these people are clueless, and should be voted out just for that. Same day Blinken strums Rockin in the Free World in Ukraine, obviously staged for media consumption. Makes for decent CNN ratings, I guess. Or, does it?

  13. thousand points of green

    Potential permaculture observation . . .

    Several years ago some garlic got into one of my ornamental beds. I decided to leave it there and “manage” it for mildly ornamental allium-style flower heads. When the stalk grew up and expanded its head of minibulbs, but hadn’t matured them yet; I would pick out all the young minibulbs and let the vestigial flowers between them grow into tiny little flowers just real enough to look nice and attract a few bees.

    At the end of it all I would pull them up and the ones which break off underground and only let the stalk come loose will all grow in place, leading to huge numbers of garlic plants.

    Just a few weeks ago, I saw at the farmers market someone selling “green garlics”, just like “green oniions” but very young garlic plants, not onion plants. I had never thought of that. They are mildly garlicy and taste pretty good. One could pull up or “snap off at ground leve” most of the little green garlic plants and leave a few behind to mature in place. One could then pull some of them up carefully to get bulbs of garlic and leave others in place to rest underground till they grow dense-packed bunches of garlic plants next year.

    That way one could get loads of “green garlics” with very little work, and no overt replanting-garlic work from year to year.

    1. IM Doc

      These are called scapes.

      They are an incredible seasonal addition to all kinds of things. We found this past weekend they are awesome in chimischurri sauce and homemade ranch dresssing. But the privilege is only a few weeks in spring. You must be very careful pulling them though. If done wrong you can damage the flower stalks.

      1. thousand points of green

        Thank you for replying and especially for the recipes. I will try those.

        I could be very wrong, but I think these are not scapes in that here in Michigan the scapes should not start emerging till about a month from now. I think these are very young actual garlic plants growing very close together. But I will keep watching the ones I don’t pull out to see what they do after they have been relieved of all that close-packed neighbor pressure. I will see if what I have considered to be the scapes emerge in a month or month-and-a-half the way I am used to. If they do, then I will continue to suspect that what I am currently pulling up( if they will pull up) or otherwise snapping off are indeed very young entire garlic plants.

        But time will tell . . .

  14. steppenwolf fetchit

    The only way I can imagine to bring back the League of Women Voters Debates would be for the League of Women Voters to get itself a You Tube channel and maybe other channels findable by the interested, and invite candidate to go onto League of Women Voters Debates run by the League of Women Voters according to the good old League of Women Voters rules.

    At first their audience would remain tiny. But if it grew from tiny to small, it might then grow big enough that brand name candidates might feel coerced by the audience size to go onto those debates.

    I see no other possible way that the League of Women Voters could possibly get back control of debates. It would have to launch its own and hope that ” if we build it, they will come.”

    1. rowlf

      A few years ago my wife naturalized and the League of Women Voters were there to register new voters. I mentioned that I like what they were doing and wished they still ran the debates. Nobody remembered running the debates.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        The BiParty Monopolists conspired with the Big TV Networks to set up their own ” League of Women Voters Not Allowed” debates. They did it over 3 decades ago I think. Current LOWV members would be a whole new generation of people, too young to know about any of that.

        Here is a link to an article about part of that exclusion and takeover, though I dimly remember the Two Parties and the Big Networks conspiring to subvert and supplant the LOWV debates even before that.
        Anyway, here is the link.

        Perhaps it would take a few name-recognized officeseekers and officeholders to start the LOWV debates restoration movement going by offering to be part of such a debate if LOWV could find a platform/outlet to host it and computer-cast it, etc.

  15. Acacia

    “The candidates are threatening to cut the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates”

    “Nonpartisan”? Really? So that means the CPD plans to include Jill Stein and Cornel West?

    Oh right, nah, didn’t think so.

    And “threatening to cut”…? — although we know the money for the CPD is coming from the duoparty.

    This is just another show of the duoparty doing its thing.

  16. Randall Flagg

    >[Family blog] their businesses if they depend on infected cattle. Of course, that will never happen, because libertarians will immediately start yammering about tyranny. And they’re gonna yammer us all the way into the next pandemic.

    A random thought that might kill two birds (3?)with one stone, herd buyouts like there was back in the mid 80’s to reduce the milk surplus. Reduce the oversupply of milk, get rid of infected herds, maybe decrease beef prices with the extra meat coming onto the market, provided cooking beef kills the bird flu these guys say it’s okay, so far…https://www.healthline.com/health-news/bird-flu-beef-chicken-safe.


    1. Wukchumni

      To give you an idea of how we once went about things…

      I donated blood for about a decade, and one day about 7 years ago they hand me a tablet with 25 questions, and one of them was something to the effect of:’Did you spend a cumulative time of 6 weeks or more in the UK from 1984 to 1996′? and I’d spent much more time than that in merry olde, so I answered yes, and they informed me that on account of possible exposure to Mad Cow Disease, I was disqualified from ever giving blood again.

      Did I go to an abattoir or pasture in the UK?


      Did I have a few Wimpy burgers?


      1. kareninca

        They recently dropped that ban. I, too, was not able to donate blood for decades because I spent too much time in England, at the wrong time. But that is no longer a disqualification.

        However, now I can’t donate because the local SF Bay Area Red Cross blood bank requires that you remove your N95 to donate, so that they can stick a thermometer in your mouth. They refuse to use an ear or forehead thermometer on people who prefer to remain masked.. I’d rather not catch a respiratory disease, thank you. So they miss out on getting my covid-free (and vax free) blood. I guess they don’t care since they make more money from sick people than from well people. And they’d rather whine loudly to the press about shortages than accommodate their donors.

  17. none

    KP2 is the dominant variant now? Crap, I had heard they recently got JN1 vaccines deployed, though I hadn’t been paying careful attention. Now we need another iteration.

  18. SocalJimObjects

    The real purpose of the CPI nowadays is to boost the stock market. It’s not just 3.4% < 3.4%, inflation back in January was 3.1% so at best inflation is just spinning its wheels and can still re accelerate. Given peak driving season is approaching, expect gasoline to keep heading up.

  19. Jason Boxman

    Worthless information, but in my blunt open in online dating asking about Pandemic safety, in my small sample size of replies, the most common response for not using a respirator is not wanting to “live in fear” and wanting to “live my life”. Liberal Democrats did their work well.

    The saddest is probably the nurse that said she was there in the ED when there wasn’t enough PPE and vaccinated and unvaccinated people were dying, but in any case she can’t live her life in fear. I’m not going to change any minds, so I just say be safe, but honestly, medical professionals putting sick people at risk of getting SARS2 is kind of degenerate. There’s really nothing to say to that, and pointless to probe the rationale if you don’t want to get reported and banned from the service, but kind of horrifying nonetheless to hear.

    I kind of wish the world would just end. What a joke.

    The latest “country” girl wanted me to know I’m a loser. That was thoughtful, but not really surprising. This is NC and FL. I’ll probably find somewhat more enlightened people in major population centers outside the south, but I thought I’d look meticulously nationwide just for giggles and cruelty. This project should take 4-6 months. After that, maybe there is something to these AI bots?

      1. Jason Boxman

        So I’m blasted out of my mind now. Pandemic. Anyway.

        Did have a 2 hour conversation with someone in Florida that works in an organ donation network. Trump voter. Nice woman. We actually agreed on the working class Can have more in common with Trump voters than you’d think. Did accuse me of being a Biden Democrat, lol. She had COVID 3 (or 4 times). Said he was fatigued all the time. But was insistent that living live in fear is not the way. Has ongoing fatigue from COVID.

        Wasn’t that interested in my suggestions of IVM, and I never go to describing gargle, and nasal sprays such as Envoid.

        Most people really have moved on to other things, as far as I can tell so far.

        I don’t think I successfully expressed my story that, having been diagnosed with tinnitus when I was 20, that ignoring it was not the right choice. Taking steps to protect myself would have been a better choice. Instead I live with the consequences every minute of every hour of every day of my life. But I failed to impress this upon her.

        I guess you do what you can. Vodka empty. I guess in a few hours, the day begins again. Another Pandemic Day, where people think that you’re insane. You can’t save anyone. As I told her, this is why I don’t own any firearms. I bet eventually the business end looks really good. And most firearm deaths in America are self-inflicted.

        I encourage everyone to stay safe out there. As Lambert has said, and it seemed less real 10 years ago:

        Because markets, go die.

        Now it is visceral. Now it is visited upon even middle and upper-middle class people.

        I also wonder what it even means to live in fear? North Carolina outlawing respirators, how does that make sense? Is it living in fear to avoid ingesting heavy metals, or wildfire smoke? This whole world is twisted. Thank billionaire capitalists.

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          I wonder what a “not living in fear” person would say if you ask them if they wear seat belts in a car. If they say yes, you could tell them to stop living in fear of accidents and show their freedom by not wearing seatbelts any more. ( Or if there are laws about that, find something else people still do to stay safe about something and tell them to stop living in fear and stop doing that something. See what they say.)

    1. Acacia

      Not worthless, and I gather this is just a “feature” of dating sites now. They have a special power to surface the seemingly worst aspects of humanity, and especially the opposite sex. You have to keep reminding yourself that the social reality we normally inhabit becomes strangely and horribly distorted as it is filtered through the virtual space of the dating site app. I would also think it might take more than 4–6 months to evaluate this, if you can stomach that possibility, especially if you broaden the area. There must be a name or names for this general phenom, as there are researchers and people who really study “online culture” seriously (e.g., Danah Boyd).

      1. Jason Boxman

        I have done this for too long.

        From her Facebook, she skipped going to a recent conference to avoid putting other people at risk.

        This evil inflected upon us is the work of the elite; I think with proper understanding, people would not expose themselves or others to a level 3 biohazard.

        I really have lived longer than I ever cared to. I always thought I’d kill myself over my tinnitus by the time I was 30; that might have in fact been the better course of action rather than the slower death I now face. Climate change, Pandemic, next Pandemic! Biden’s wished for nuclear war. Take your pick.

        As far as as online dating goes, my only complaint is if you aren’t in the top 10%, you’re mostly out of luck if you’re a dude. But that’s been true since inception.

        My god Bones. What have we done?

  20. J.

    Biden’s speech at Morehouse may not go as planned. Some students and faculty have already been protesting.


    Morehouse’s president would rather cancel the ceremony than have disruptions:


    The archive.ph link isn’t working quite right but you can see the lead paragraphs.

    Related: The “outside agitator” that the police handcuffed and then tased during the Emory protests was a Morehouse student, supposedly. Here is the incident:



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