2:00PM Water Cooler 5/17/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Bullock’s/Baltimore Oriole, Tamarack Ranch, Logan, Colorado, United States. “Highway noise.”

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) North Carolina pulls the anti-mask bill for what seems like rational revisions (if you accept the cop-friendly, anti-protester aspect).

(2) New Trump defense trips Cohen up, putting a conviction at risk.

(3) Peggy Noonan interviews a Wildwood, NY attendee.

(4) Another CDC atrocity.

(5) RCP averages: Trump continues slow but steady advance in swing states.

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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 17:

National results static, but most of the Swing States (more here) are incrementally, but steadily, moving Trump’s way. 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): “Michael Cohen gives Donald Trump his best day in hush money trial so far” [CNN]. “Cohen appeared to be tripped up over an account of a call he’d previously said under oath was to discuss Trump’s hush money payment to adult film Star Stormy Daniels. It emerged under questioning on Thursday that, at least to begin with, the topic of the call was about another matter entirely…. ‘I think what happened today still is so devastating they have to do something,’ Ryan Goodman, a professor at NYU Law, told CNN’s Erin Burnett. ‘If the case ended today and there were final statements, I think there would not be a conviction.'” And this is CNN, not FOX. More: “n one of the most dramatic moments in the entire trial, Blanche drilled down on a call that Cohen placed to his boss’ bodyguard, Keith Schiller, who was with Trump on October 24, 2016. Cohen had testified earlier this week that the purpose of the call was to discuss with Trump ‘the Stormy Daniels matter and the resolution of it.’ But Blanche produced a text from Cohen to Schiller before the call in which the lawyer said he wanted to get help in dealing with a 14-year-old who was prank calling him. He didn’t mention Daniels in the text ahead of the conversation, which only lasted 96 seconds. ‘That was a lie!’ Blanche said, raising his voice. ‘You did not talk to President Trump on that night, you talked to Keith Schiller. … You can admit it.’ Blanche argued that it was impossible that Cohen would have had sufficient time to discuss the prank calls and then go on to update Trump about the complicated situation with Daniels. Cohen insisted, ‘I believe I also spoke to President Trump and told him everything regarding the Stormy Daniels matter was being worked on and it’s going to be resolved.’ Blanche then wielded a rhetorical dagger, telling Cohen: ‘We are not asking for your belief – this jury doesn’t want to hear what you think happened.’ Judge Juan Merchan sustained an immediate objection from the prosecution to the comment, but Trump’s lawyer had emphatically made his point. The exchange was so significant because – notwithstanding days of testimony and evidence put on by the prosecution to corroborate claims that Trump broke the law – the case still largely depends on Cohen, himself a convicted felon who has a proven record of lying. Since the burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt lies with the prosecution, the exchange could raise the chances of at least one juror questioning Cohen’s version of events.” • Oopsie.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Getting Played: The Demolition of Cohen on Cross Examination Reveals ‘The Grift’ to a New York Jury” [Jonathan Turley]. “For any discerning juror, the trial has been conspicuously lacking any clear statement from the prosecutors of what crime Trump was attempting to commit by allegedly mischaracterizing payments as ‘legal expenses.’ Even liberal legal experts have continued to express doubt over what crime is being alleged as the government rests its case. There is also the failure of the prosecutors to establish that Trump even knew of how payments were denoted or that these denotations were actually fraudulent in denoting payments to a lawyer as legal expenses…. New Yorkers are a curious breed. Yes, they overwhelmingly hate Trump, but they also universally hate being treated like chumps. When they get this case, they just might look around the courtroom and decide that they are the suckers in a crooked game.”

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “On Trump and the Elusive Fantasy of a 2024 Election Game-Changer” [Susan Glasser, The New Yorker]. “Much harder to predict is whether even a conviction in this case might finally move the largely immovable American electorate. Polls hint that the answer is just maybe yes, at least among a small percentage of Republicans who do not identify as part of the Party’s most fervently pro-Trump maga base. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll on the eve of the New York trial, for example, twenty-four per cent of Republicans, including thirteen per cent of Trump supporters, said that they would not support him in November if he was convicted of a felony. But, with the trial finishing its fifth week and rapidly moving toward a verdict, experience strongly suggests that some skepticism is in order. The story of the past eight years is littered with examples of Republicans accepting the previously unimaginable from Trump. Why should this time be any different?” •

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Michael Cohen on the Stand, Part I” [Lawfare]. May 13: “You’re active on Twitter? Correct. And TikTok? Correct. You do a nightly live TikTok? He’s live on TikTok for more than an hour nightly. What’s the point of doing it? To build an audience, to create community, to vent. I’m having trouble sleeping, so it’s an outlet. You also make money off of it? It does make money, Cohen admits, though it’s not significant. Since Cohen started ‘TikToking nightly’ (Blanche’s words) six weeks ago, how many times a week do you talk about Trump? Well I only do it six days a week, Cohen says (chuckles from the press), so I’d say about six times a week.” • Worth reading in full, but unless I missed something — time presses — neither Cohen nor Trump was really marked up on the first day.

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Michael Cohen pressed on his crimes and lies as defense attacks key Trump hush money trial witness” [Associated Press]. That’s quite a headline from the normally staid AP. “In one clip played in court Thursday, Cohen could be heard using an expletive and saying he truly hopes ‘that this man ends up in prison.’ ‘It won’t bring back the year that I lost or the damage done to my family. But revenge is a dish best served cold,’ Cohen was heard saying. ‘You better believe that I want this man to go down.’ Cohen acknowledged he has continued to attack Trump, even during the trial.”

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Trump (R): “A New Jersey Friend Is Sticking With Trump” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal]. “have a friend who lives in western New Jersey near a lake. Dee is middle aged, works in sales in a service industry, had been a politically independent moderate most of her life, voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and, less fervently, 2020. When I last saw her, in February, she and her husband felt drawn to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. but that feeling has cooled. She didn’t like it that his family endorsed Joe Biden: ‘That was weird.’ She has also concluded the 2024 election will be close. “I think I’m not willing to take a chance, to experiment at this point.” So they are back to Donald Trump, with revived enthusiasm…. I asked Dee what she saw and experienced [at the Wildwood, NJ rally]. This is what I heard: Trump may scare you, but he makes her feel safe. ‘It was like he made you feel everything’s gonna be OK. The economy’s gonna get better; everybody’s freaking out about the border, but he’ll get it stopped.’…. At the rally she felt part of a rebel army, yet she also thinks the rallygoers represent the mass of regular Americans so maybe they’re not the rebels but the majority. She finds him hilarious. When he riffs about Al Capone and Hannibal Lecter he’s goofing with the crowd and being comical because he’s an entertainer. ‘He’s very funny and sarcastic,’ Dee says. ‘It’s like a husband sometimes.’ She does not trust the press, nor does she hate them. She just thinks they lie because they have preconceived notions and agendas: ‘They think we are smelly Walmart shoppers with no teeth.’ She says this not with bitterness but as a dry descriptor…. It went all day. ‘You’re on line at 8 a.m. for a 5 p.m. start. There were thousands on line with us. We made a bunch of friends. Everyone was friendly, peaceful.'” And on January 6: “I asked about Jan 6. Why didn’t that change her view of Trump? I, and many others, understand it as a singular event. Breaking in, smashing doors and windows, beating cops, threatening the vice president’s life—this was a violent assault on an institution that was also an assault on the Constitution. Doesn’t it threaten or imply something about the future? She said she understood but sees it differently. In Wildwood, ‘we had a bunch of Jan. 6 people in the crowd around us. Middle-aged white women—grandma. . . . The thing about Jan. 6 is we see it as a two-part story. His speech that day was a Trump speech, the crowd was a Trump crowd, it was kind of normal. Part 2 was the people up at the Capitol. But the people just at the speech, they quietly left, they got on the bus, they went home. There was the speech and the insanity up the street. We talked, I heard people say, ‘We left.” ‘There were some bad people and some agitators. They shouldn’t have gone in there. Some people broke windows, shouldn’t have happened. And some old ladies go to jail!’ ‘A lot of what happened at the Capitol—a lot of that was created. A constant narrative to make Trump look as bad as possible at all times.'” • “Dee lives in an affluent suburban community.” Still worth a read…

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Biden (D): “Biden’s team had a few demands for a Trump debate. A major one: No crowd” [Politico]. “An empty TV studio could, Biden aides feel, deprive their GOP rival of a major advantage when they face off. ‘Trump feeds off the crowd, they give him life,’ said one Biden adviser who was granted anonymity in order to discuss internal strategy. ‘We wanted to take that away.’ There were several conditions that the Biden team felt were necessary in order to agree to a debate with the former president, among them that at least one forum take place before the start of early voting and that the hosts weren’t from outlets with an ideological bent toward Trump. But in interviews with more than a half dozen officials and advisers who were not authorized to discuss private conversations, the issue of the crowd was consistent. Among their concerns were that the audience noise could disadvantage Biden, who sometimes has trouble hearing amid a din. They also wanted to ensure that there was a clean tempo and cadence to the debate and that it not turn into a shouting match or spectacle.” • Assuming the debate rules permit cellphones, maybe the Trump campaign could set up a watch party, then stream it to Trump’s phone. He could hold up the phone showing the cheering crowd at appropriate moments.

Biden (D): “Biden’s labor report card: Historian gives ‘Union Joe’ a higher grade than any president since FDR” [Erik Loomis, The Conversation]. In fact, the NLRB is much improved (not that Biden is running on that). This caught my eye: “In terms of Biden’s actions, the low point came in 2022, when he used the Railway Labor Act of 1926 to stop the railroad union from striking for better sick leave.” Not that I’m bitter. More: “Biden officials argued that the economy could not afford a rail shutdown, but political considerations around inflation before the midterm elections probably contributed to the administration’s response. At the same time, the Biden administration continued working behind the scenes to pressure rail companies to grant the workers their demands, and they largely did. Union leaders credit Biden for helping them get this victory for their workers. At the same time, the Biden administration continued working behind the scenes to pressure rail companies to grant the workers their demands, and they largely did. Union leaders credit Biden for helping them get this victory for their workers.” • The quote is from IBEW, but surely there are more central rail unions? Can readers comment?

BIden (D): “The Working Class-Sized Hole in Democratic Support Widens” [Ruy Teixiera, The Liberal Patriot]. “The Times poll provides data across the six key Presidential battleground states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—as well as data for each of these individual states. Here is what I found: Across the battleground, Biden is losing to Trump among working-class voters by 16 points. That compares to Biden’s national working-class deficit of just 4 points in 2020…. The October-to-May deterioration among working-class voters is actually a bit worse among likely voters…. The October-to-May deterioration is also worse among nonwhite working-class voters. Biden was ahead among these voters in the battleground states by 16 points last October (note that this compares to the 48 point advantage Biden had nationally in 2020). But his advantage among nonwhite working class voters has fallen to single digits—9 points—in the new data.” • Worth reading in full.

Biden (D): “Kamala for governor? She jokes, but the state lacks a giant” [Politico]. Eighteen paragraphs down: “Vice President Kamala Harris has joked to friends that she may return to California to run for governor if Democrats lose the White House this fall, taking a page from Richard Nixon, two people familiar with her remarks said. ‘That did not happen,’ Harris spokesperson Kirsten Allen told Politico in response. ‘This November, the vice president will be preparing to be inaugurated for the second term of the Biden-Harris administration.” • That’s the only serious mention of Harris. So the headline is trying to make a story where no story — that we know about — exists. Which is interesting in itself.

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“The most powerful pro-Israel group in American politics isn’t… talking about Israel” [Politico]. “The most prominent pro-Israel group in American politics has promised to pour tens of millions of dollars into this year’s elections. But it’s mostly not talking about Israel. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has entered several congressional races so far, attacking some candidates and boosting their own. But the topic of Israel has come up only minimally, in a handful of Republican races. And the group hasn’t talked about Israel in Democratic primaries at all.” • That’s clarifying. Now we’re just talking price, right?

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“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: Covid

“Explosive household spread of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in China in late 2022” [Building and Environment]. N = 12,037. From the Abstract: “Immediately after easing the 3-year zero-COVID policy in mainland China, an explosive spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 occurred in late 2022, despite most people staying at home.” Showing that non-pharmaceutical interventions are, in fact, effective. More: “Better ventilation in shared corridors and living rooms was associated with a lower household daily incidence rate and a lower fever occurrence.” More: “Residing on upper floors was associated with a higher daily incidence rate.” Amoy Gardens redux. More: “Wearing an N95 respirator when leaving home could effectively reduce household infection risk. The observed similarity in the peak infection rate and its date of occurrence in different provincial regions suggest the spontaneous and simultaneous spread of the Omicron variant across the country. Crowded households, poor ventilation in shared common corridors, and residing on upper floors were associated with a higher incidence and more symptoms of disease.” • Fine, fine, but where’s the RCT? Anyhow…. I still remain bewildered and appalled that China, with three years to work with, didn’t even begin to approach ventilation; as if the world’s greatest manufacturing power couldn’t put an HVAC in every room and commercial space. The only thing I can conclude is that for China’s ruling class, just as for our own, that ultimately the deaths were the point.


“NC House temporarily shelves bill barring the wearing of masks. Move comes as objections continue” [Winston-Salem Journal]. “[HB237] was placed into the gatekeeper House Rules and Operations committee, which typically meets on Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday and Thursday mornings. However, House speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, has the discretion during session to take a bill out of committee and place it on the floor calendar. The expectation is that the House will reject Senate changes to the bill and send it to a concurrence committee to reach a potential compromise on the language…. A Change.org petition urging lawmakers to rethink the bill has already gotten nearly 3,700 signatures. The petition cites concerns about people who wear masks for medical reasons. Sen. Danny Britt Jr., R-Scotland, told the Senate Rules and Operations committee earlier Wednesday that ‘we’re still in discussions with the House on how to tailor the medical exception to this mask policy for folks who may suffer from communicable diseases.’

‘We want to ensure that this doesn’t violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, so there will be some tweaking along the way.'” • Partial good news? In any case, it couldn’t hurt to keep up the pressure: Here again is the petition and (from yesterday) here are some numbers to call. Maybe that Buck Newton nimrod got stuffed back in his box? Nice to see the Biden Administration weighing in, too. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! Not.


“Adjuvanted subunit intranasal vaccine prevents SARS-CoV-2 onward transmission in hamsters” [bioRxiv]. From the Abstract: “Most COVID-19 vaccine trials have focused on recipient protection, not protection of their contacts, a critical need. As a subunit intranasal COVID-19 vaccine reduced nasopharyngeal virus more than did an intramuscular (IM) vaccine, we hypothesized that this vaccine might reduce onward transmission to others. We vaccinated hamsters with either the IM-administrated Moderna mRNA vaccine twice or one dose of mRNA IM followed by adjuvanted subunit intranasal vaccine. 24 hours after SARS-CoV-2 challenge, these animals were housed with naïve recipients in a contactless chamber that allows airborne transmission. Onward airborne transmission was profoundly blocked: the donor and recipients of the intranasal vaccine-boosted group had lower oral and lung viral loads (VL), which correlated with mucosal ACE2 inhibition activity. These data strongly support the use of the intranasal vaccine as a boost to protect not only the vaccinated person, but also people exposed to the vaccinated person, a key public health goal.” • Good news (although optimistic about the goals of public health).

Testing and Tracking

A ray of hope on hospital data:

Sequelae: Covid

“What do we know about covid-19’s effects on the brain?” [BMJ]. “Is it the virus entering the brain? This is a complex issue and the subject of much debate. In vitro studies have found that the virus disrupts the blood-brain barrier, although this was seen only with the original wild-type SARS-CoV-2 and omicron variants. This research also found that the virus may affect the function of cells in the central nervous system. Because loss of smell is a common symptom, some researchers have suggested that the virus may enter the brain through the olfactory system. Stephen Griffin, virologist at the University of Leeds, notes that the UK Biobank study recorded ‘reduced grey matter thickness—comprised of the main cellular ‘bodies’ of neurons, rather than their tendril-like projections—in parts of the brain linked with olfactory sensing, namely the limbic system and primary olfactory cortex,’ which could be evidence for this route of entry. However, there’s little other evidence that the virus enters cells in the brain. Schifitto says, ‘There’s been one report suggesting the virus gets into astrocytes; others have not really found the virus in specific cells.’ But he adds, ‘The virus can cause damage without infecting cells. If it’s activating other cells in the brain that cause inflammation, you don’t need the virus to be there to cause problems. The amount of cytokines in the blood could activate, for example, microglia, a classical cell type involved in chronic neuroinflammation.'”

Celebrity Watch

Swift — whose entourage works hard not to infect the star — could do so much good, at no cost to herself. So much for the sensitive singer-songwriter:

I know she’s not alone, but sheesh!

Elite Maleficence

“CDC Releases Guidance for Preventing Spread of Infections in Schools to Keep Children Healthy and Learning” (press release) [CDC]. • Mandy slaughters more innocent children:

To be fair, I don’t know all the diseases to which school kids are subject; Covid is airborne; the RSV literature is infested with droplet dogma jargon, so I assume institutional inertia prevails rather than science, but RSV is also airborne as an aerosol; ditto for the flu. So when I comment exclusively on Covid, I think it’s fair to say I’m covering all three. Covid is also the most deadly, so it would make sense to anyone but CDC to make it the priority. I have helpfully annotated the press release (links available on request; time presses):

[1] Forgotten nothing, learned nothing (although to be fair, there’s no recommendation for Plexiglass barriers).

[2] Handwashing and “respiratory etiquette” (coughing into your elbow) do nothing against Covid.

[3] Heaven forfend you should do anything to improve ventilation now, like putting HVAC filters and Corsi-Rosenthal boxes in the schoolrooms; as far as Mandy is concerned, such devices might as well be science fiction. Of course, if you’re a rich district, like Newton, MA, you can protect your children right away, but if you’re not, then sure, wait. Why not?

[3] (oops) Fomite theatre. Sure, cleaning is good, but can we please not deceive ourselves

[4] Vaccinations do not, of course, prevent transmission.

[5] “Ill” as shown by symptoms, of course. But Covid spreads asymptomatically, which is why clean air should be the default, and not a reactive measure.

[6] What is “PPE”? Moonsuits? Below, they say “masks” (and not respirators). Which is it?

[7] No. No, they don’t. This is all fomite transmission-related. None of this will help with Covid at all.

[8] Masks as the absolutely last resort. For any sane teacher — and any sane parent — and especailly in a school that will have ten more years of bad ventilation because that’s when the “remodeling” will take place, masks should be the first resort. I mean, if CDC’s priority is indeed “keeping children healthy,” which it obviously is not.

“Pro-Infection Doctors Didn’t Just Want Kids in School. They Wanted Them There Unvaccinated, Untested, and Unmasked. They Wanted Them Infected” [Science-Based Medicine]. “It’s all enough to make one think that children learning in classrooms wasn’t the main priority for pro-infection doctors. Rather, their chief objective was to infect as many children as quickly as possible to hasten the arrival of herd immunity, and schools were just a tool to accomplish this goal- a goal they shared with their wealthy libertarian friend who told kids to dropout of public schools so they can smoke after their shift at Walmart and Chic-Fil-A.” • Yep.

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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 16: 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) Flat. 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) Up and down.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) KP.2 enters the chat, as does B.1.1.529 (with backward revision).

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

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “”I lost trust”: Why the OpenAI team in charge of safeguarding humanity imploded” [Vox]. “For months, OpenAI has been losing employees who care deeply about making sure AI is safe. Now, the company is positively hemorrhaging them. Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike announced their departures from OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, on Tuesday. They were the leaders of the company’s superalignment team — the team tasked with ensuring that AI stays aligned with the goals of its makers, rather than acting unpredictably and harming humanity. They’re not the only ones who’ve left. Since last November — when OpenAI’s board tried to fire CEO Sam Altman only to see him quickly claw his way back to power — at least five more of the company’s most safety-conscious employees have either quit or been pushed out. What’s going on here? If you’ve been following the saga on social media, you might think OpenAI secretly made a huge technological breakthrough. The meme ‘What did Ilya see?’ speculates that Sutskever, the former chief scientist, left because he saw something horrifying, like an AI system that could destroy humanity. But the real answer may have less to do with pessimism about technology and more to do with pessimism about humans — and one human in particular: Altman. According to sources familiar with the company, safety-minded employees have lost faith in him. ‘It’s a process of trust collapsing bit by bit, like dominoes falling one by one,’ a person with inside knowledge of the company told me, speaking on condition of anonymity.” • Why on earth would anybody except stupid money trust Sam Altman?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 60 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 17 at 1:58:59 PM ET.

The Gallery

Alert reader MB writes: “Sharing because I think readers will appreciate this. Sesshu Toyo, landscape 1495 (!) I hope you can see the variety of strokes and washes”:

Serendipitously, the tones go nicely with Carla’s image below.

News of the Wired

“Mechanical Movements of the Cold War: How the Soviets Revolutionized Wristwatches” [Collector’s Weekly]. “Then I popped off the back, expecting the typical interior: a battery, some metal circuitry and a plastic spacer. Instead, everything was beautifully finished—brushed metal gears, springs, and red ruby jewels. These are true rubies that are synthetically made, since rubies are extremely sturdy and resistant to the effects of continued friction. If you imagine a mechanical watch that’s ticking all day, every day, on someone’s wrist, there’s an enormous amount of friction that all of these parts incur. The classic ticking sound you hear in a mechanical watch represents various movements inside, and the vast majority of mechanical watches employ rubies so they can strike and pivot hundreds of thousands of times per day without wearing away.” • Fun stuff!

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Carla:

Carla writes: “Wade Chapel, Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, OH, April 23, 2024.” A lovely day in early spring. I can’t photograph the sky to save my life, let alone a low-key sky like this….

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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. Sub-Boreal

    For my draft PMC phrase book, here’s a start at a compilation of officially blessed half-measures drawn from several policy realms.

    In themselves, most of these are not necessarily evil or useless, but their usual role is to be the farthest or sole point of reform, thus ensuring that nothing fundamentally changes. In public forums, both their supporters and opponents tend to invest them with a degree of efficacy or harmfulness vastly out of proportion to their actual effects on the ground.

    I’m hoping that readers will chime in with additions.

    – decriminalization (see: drug policy in British Columbia)
    – carbon tax (see: Canadian climate policy)
    – vax-only (see: pandemic response just about everywhere)
    – humanitarian pause (see: anywhere that genocidal activities need buffing)

    1. johnnyme

      I initially read the word “draft” as “daft”. When the phrase book progresses beyond the draft phase, you should be able to safely remove that extraneous letter ‘r’.


    2. ambrit

      -expert (see: properly credentialed and indoctrinated person)
      -terrorist: (see: person who opposes accepted opinion)
      -conspiracy theorist (see: person who disagrees with accepted opinion)
      -donor (see: person who contributes to and enables something)
      -political donor (see: person who contributes to and determines policy)
      -truth (see: unapproved information)
      -stay safe (see: Magical Thinking)

    3. lambert strether

      common-sense: trolling, performatively so. Usage example: “Common-sense gun control.”

      democracy: synonym, plutocracy. Usage example: “our democracy.”

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        I think ” our democracy” can have a different meaning depending on who says it. If Sanders says “our democracy” , I think he means ” all of ours’ democracy”. If Clinton says it, she means ” the plutocracy”.

        The phrase “our democracy” could be turned into class-combat fighting words from either end of the ladder. The Lower Class could well say ” we must take OUR democracy back away from THEM, so it is not THEM’s democracy anymore”, for example.

        Should we just let the Upper Class steal the phrase “our democracy” and put their fake copyright on it?

        Perhaps we could start saying ” everyones’ democracy” for what we would like to have.

    4. Thistlebreath

      -adjacent (close enough to see and smell but not have or touch, as in “Beverly Hills Adjacent”)

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        There was a time when ” fighting for” meant “fighting to achieve and to get”. When the nascent UAW spent the 1930s “fighting for” recognition and contracts, they weren’t pretending to ” fight for”. They were “fighting for it” in order to “get it”.

        So the Democrats have destroyed the value of “fighting for”. People who would still like to “fight for” something in order to “actually get it” can either take back the words “fighting for” or come up with new words. The problem is that if we/they/whomever come up with new words, the Rahmmanuel Clintobamacrats will poach and pollute that phrase too. One wonders if it is worth the effort for genuine results-seeking groups and movements to try de-polluting the phrase “fighting for” and create new phrases of derision for what the Clintobamacrats are doing . . . phrases like ” faking for” or “fake-fighting for” or “kayfabing for” or other better phrases that others might care to invent and launch.

    5. Skip Intro

      I’m triggered by neoliberal dog whistles like:

      – Market Based
      – Public private partnership

    6. Lena

      -food insecure (hungry)

      -housing insecure (homeless)

      -income insecure (poor)

      -low wealth individuals (poor people)

  2. Lambert Strether Post author

    I added orts and scraps, including Friday’s RCP polling, which shows continued small advances by Trump in the Swing States (although the national number is static).

    If this keeps up, I’m gonna have to start mentioning the word “trend.”

  3. Art_DogCT


    “I can’t photograph the sky to save my life, let alone a low-key sky like this….”

    Because I don’t know what you saw in the moment your made this photograph, I’m in no position to agree or disagree with your evaluation. As a photograph, before I read the caption, the image struck me as lovely. I like the clarity of the bare (ish) tree branches contrasted against the quite wonderfully captured sky, and the the white flowers below. I like that the gaze is not fully centered on the building, but angled somewhat. The effect is more open, somehow. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Angie Neer

      I think the comment about photographing the sky was Lambert’s not Carla’s. In my own photography, I’ve found it’s very easy to overexpose the sky, allowing the bright parts to get saturated, and making it impossible to recover the detail in the clouds—which drives me nuts. (Carla’s photo definitely does not have that problem.) I usually underexpose and then bring up the darker tones in post-processing. Some phone cameras can do that kind of thing automatically, but I usually disagree with my phone’s artistic judgement.

    2. lambert strether

      This is me, not Carls, whose comment is quoted. Carla can clearly photograph the sky

      1. Art_DogCT

        Sigh. This old dog has trouble with reading comprehension lately.

        Yet more sigh. It’s a sighing kind of life.

          1. ambrit

            Past a certain point in the ‘average’ Terran human lifespan, it becomes “devolution.”

    3. Rod

      I won’t get into sky photography, but will plug Carla’s haunt— Wade Chapel and the Lakewood Cemetary.
      Big History in that small, still functioning Chapel.
      highly recommended…


      I was there the Sunday after the Eclipse with my kid, looking at The Tiffany Window and Interior, listening to the Docent recall it’s Origin Story, meditating on living and dying—
      and I thought “Money and the Entitlement it bestows”
      David Rockefeller’s Oblisk is just up the way.

    4. Carla

      Thanks everyone for your kind comments about the Wade Chapel photo. During spring I often choose to take the leisurely route through the beautiful Lakeview Cemetery when driving to certain appointments. That view of the Wade Chapel, a favorite of mine, made me take time to back up and find a parking place. It was a photo that demanded to be taken! (I have discovered that although I love sunny weather, which we can hardly get enough of in NE Ohio, the more subtle lighting of overcast skies often yields better images).

  4. ChrisFromGA

    Jerome Powell has the Coof.

    I really hope it doesn’t eat through the part of his brain that involves impulse control.

  5. Tom Stone

    Letting Covid rip has a finite lifespan and I think this Fall will be the end of it.
    Too many sick kids and too many sick teachers to ignore.

    1. XXYY

      I’m curious, if Trump is elected, what he is going to do regarding covid. He actually seemed to view it with some concern towards the end of his last term, and also to realize it is necessary to preserve the health of the population if we want to keep the wealth machine moving along if for no other reason.

      After 4 years of Biden, there seems to be nowhere to go but up, although I keep thinking and saying that only to be proven wrong on a variety of fronts.

      1. steppenwolf fetchit

        There is certainly more room to go down on many fronts in many areas. Didn’t Adam Smith once say: ” There is a lot of ruin in a country”?

        More Biden will bring us even further down in some areas.

        Trump 2.0 will bring us even further down in some other areas.

        People will have to decide which areas are more important to actual aspects of their own personal , community and social survival and vote accordingly.

        You picks your poison and you takes your chances. Or as Hunter S. Thompson once put it . . . ” Buy the ticket, ride the ride.”

        1. JBird4049

          I think that it more like the choice of poisons as both present different ways of dying. I mean really, as one comedian said about the election that had Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the best reason for vote for one was each other. 335 million people in the United States and we wind up with this choice.

          So, this election is more of a choice of just how you would prefer to die than a choice of just how you prefer to live.

          1. steppenwolf fetchit

            Well, that is certainly a theory to which many will subscribe. Who knows . . . they could be right.

            Biden is more likely to cause a thermonuclear world war. That would be quick death all around. If he is somehow prevented or short-circuited from causing it, he would bring 4 more years of stagnation and ” fin de see-ehkleh” or however that word is spelled. Is it worth the risk of thermonuclear war to get 4 more years of stagnation? ( Perhaps we should think of Biden as “Brezhnev with a mean streak”).

            Trump would re-commit America to an accelerated heat death through re-accelerated carbon skyflooding and its attendant global warming. It would be a slower death with the pain dragged out longer. That’s not a risk if Trump is re-elected. That is a sure thing.

            There is also a big risk of Trump working to treat the “Big Blue Cities” like “conquered and occupied Enemy Territory”. There is a big risk of the MAGAnazi Trumpanons unleashing their Intrumpahamwe Militias all over the country. Those are not a sure thing but they are a big risk.

            If we re-elect Biden and escape thermonuclear war and get 4 years of stagnation, that gives 4 guaranteed years for all the people who consider themselves potential targets of the future potential Intrumpahamwe Militias to arm themselves and eachother at the personal, community, whole-towns-and-cities and maybe at the level of some whole Blue States levels; to be ready to protect themselves and save themselves and eachother in the event of a future Trump 2.0 getting elected on a platform of “Exterminate the Blue” and ” Glory to the Intrumpahamwe Militias”.

            If you know that the MAGAnons would like to be your Interahamwe and you know that they want to make you their Tutsis, which way do you vote?

            Which risk is bigger? Which is more likely? What do you vote for in order to buy some time to enhance your survival chances . . . maybe?

            Everyone will make their own choices, and Darwin will decide who was right.

  6. Harold

    Concerning spread of diseases in schools, small classes, very small in the case of the youngest children, are a no brainer.

      1. Harold

        Toddlers come home from daycare with continuous colds. This would be at least somewhat less likely if they interacted with the same small group every day, rather than with large ones. I speak as the grandparent of a toddler who has been in a daycare group since 13 mos. old (in Japan). I am not sure how large her groups is / or was. She is now 2, and her day ends at 6:pm. We just visited and all of us got quite severe colds, with fever in the case of her mother. Anyway, I believe in small classes for the littlest ones as best practice, regardless and that is just one more rationale..

  7. ChrisFromGA

    TO: Lambert

    I have taken the time to closely read your Water Coolio from May 8th with the title “Alvin Bragg’s theories (plural) of the Case in People v. Trump may be gradually emerging (there are three.)”

    I have a few thoughts, though I realize I’m more than a day late (and a dollar short.) Mind you, they’re based on 1 year of legal training, so usual disclaimers apply.

    First, thanks for taking the time to write it up so carefully. Starting with the statute, which is always the correct place to begin.

    A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when:

    (1) he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree; and
    (2)when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal in the commission thereof.

    NY §175-10.

    Note the word “intent” highlighted.

    I pulled up a few cases in WL and there isn’t a lot out there. These seem to be relevant:

    People v. Papatonis, NY 1997
    People v. McCumiskey NY 2004
    People v. Norman NY 2004

    Of those, the most similar one I could find is:

    People v. McCumiskey, 784 N.Y.S.2d 816 (N.Y. App. Div. 4th Dept. 2004)

    This case looks like it established some sort of precedent as it is cited by other cases. And, fun fact, in NY State the “Supreme” court isn’t supreme. But, it’s an appellate level and the highest intermediate level court, so it sets some precedent for at least the Western District of NY. The 4th district includes Genessee County where the McCumiskey case was originally tried.

    Geek stuff: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Supreme_Court

    The McCumiskey court held that:

    Jury could convict defendant of falsifying business records if it concluded that defendant had intent to commit or conceal another crime, even if he was not convicted of other crime, and thus jury’s inability to reach verdict on count charging defendant with grand larceny was not inconsistent with fact that jury found defendant guilty of falsifying business records. McKinney’s Penal Law § 175.10.

    Now that is rather interesting because it implies that Bragg doesn’t have to show that Trump committed another crime or aided or concealed in the commission thereof, but only that he intended to.

    That’s a much lower bar to clear. I haven’t been following the trial very closely so no idea whether Bragg introduced an actual evidence to indicate Trump’s intent to commit another crime. Presumably, text messages and witness testimony could provide that, although I haven’t seen anything that looks very convincing.

    As for the 3 theories, I expect that FECA would provide the most fertile ground to convince a jury.
    I agree that the income tax thing looks like weak sauce. Simply overpaying someone isn’t likely to be seen as income tax fraud by a jury. Parties are free to contract whatever price they agree to exchange for consideration (in this case, legal services, or more bluntly, shut up and go away.) If I want to overpay my gardener (hypothetically, of course) so that they can pay their own Social Security and Medicare taxes, that’s freedom to contract, not tax fraud.

    Personal opinion – I would not be surprised to see Orangeman convicted. Based on the jury location (NY.) Not sure how though it will play out, Cohen may appear to the jury to be a sleazeball (along with Daniels) so their testimony may have been impeached. If he does get convicted, a year of jail time is a real possibility based on the caselaw I read.

    1. lambert strether

      > That’s a much lower bar to clear. I haven’t been following the trial very closely so no idea whether Bragg introduced an actual evidence to indicate Trump’s intent to commit another crime. Presumably, text messages and witness testimony could provide that, although I haven’t seen anything that looks very convincing.

      So far as I know, he hasn’t. I keep waiting for Bragg to pull a rabbit out of his hat, but maybe in closing arguments? (A technique we called sandbagging when I was a debater.)

      I don’t buy FECA because, under Federalism, I don’t see how states can enforce Federal crimes. Granted, the language is super-sloppy, but that’s grounds for appeal.

      I’m also a hawk on the business records aspect; legal services are what you pay a lawyer to do.

      I can see the jury convictinf because Trump must be guilty of something. I can also see them acquitting because no New Yorker likes to have their time wasted.

      Thanks for the case law. If I had access to Lexis I could do some real damage :-)

      1. ChrisFromGA

        What’s really strange to me is that in the other cases I read, first degree falsifications of records was charged as a package deal, I.e. FoR and larceny, FoR and insurance fraud.

        Here, Bragg is lazily not bothering to present the elements of the second crime? Hey ladies and gents of the jury, here are three possible object theories. You figure it out!

        I’ve read Turley and he doesn’t address this problem. He appears to be more interested in slamming Cohen, which is like dunking on a three year old.

        1. griffen

          Cohen deserves whatever he gets. Payback being what it is, he seems to want a pound of flesh after being severed from the Trump organization and not getting an invite to 1600 Pennsylvania for the very big time party in 2017 ( DOJ? AG ? Nope, nada ).

          Cohen was described as a new person and a believable sort prior to this trial, by those in the legal profession who really should know their truth teller”version” better than most of us mopes. Henry Aaron or Henry Hill , you decide…

  8. flora

    Igor Chudov has questions about the Fico assassination attempt. Normally I’d pass this off as overheated speculation. Then in today’s posts I read the EU Commission is circling the wagons around von der Layen to protect her Pfizer dealings from legal investigations. Makes one wonder….

    Leader of Slovakia Shot After Demanding Investigation Into COVID Vaccines
    Shot by a Progressive Party Operative


    1. flora

      adding: there’s a long and thoughtful comment in Igor’s comments section by Peka Bali that’s worth reading, imo.

  9. B24S

    Re “Mechanical Movements”-

    If you have a pre-Depression jeweled watch, it possibly has natural sapphires from Montana.

    In 1978 I worked at the Yogo sapphire mine in Montana, or at the ruins of said mine. It is one of the few places in the world that has “hard rock” sapphire deposits, as opposed alluvial/stream-bed gravel, and by then was the combination of the vertical shafts of the “British” mine and the horizontal adits of the
    “American” mine. I still have some documents of the mine shafts, as well as some “samples”.

    Gold was discovered in 1895 by prospector extraordinaire Charlie Hoover at Yogo Gulch, in the Little Belt mountains in central Montana. It didn’t yield much gold, and the riffles were often clogged with blue glass pebbles from stream-tumbled milk of magnesia bottles.

    When a school teacher in Connecticut sent him a letter asking him for a sample of the gold to show her students, Charlie prudently added some of the blue glass pebbles to the vial, so as not to give away so much gold. After a long spell, he finally received a reply, not mentioning the gold, but thanking him for the beautiful sapphires. He then sent a cigar box of them to Tiffany, and was paid more than he’d received from the gold he’d mined. While the gold wasn’t ignored, sapphires became the focus.

    The two mines were operating on the same volcanic dike, a vertical extrusion of pyrolytic rock, with crystals of aluminum oxide interspersed throughout. The dike rock was broken up, weathered (freeze/thaw cycles over winter), and washed to recover the stones the next season. The crystals tend to be “platy”, thin flat crystals that were easy to grind into watch jewels. Thicker, deeper, stones that cut into faceted gems are not as plentiful. (Mineral-geek alert- Under magnification you can see isosceles triangles etched into the exterior surface, with those on the opposite side “upside down”.)

    The development of synthetic sapphire/ruby (both aluminum oxide/carborundum, but with different trace minerals giving color; anything not red is considered sapphire) in the early 1920s, changes in tax law leading to double taxation of the British mine, a catastrophic storm that destroyed the “works”, and the Depression, all combined to shut down the mines. Several attempts at restarting them have proved problematic.

    The next year my future wife and I visited Yogo while camping across the Northwest. It was still possible to look down, see a glint of glass, and pick a sapphire out of the dirt.

    1. B24S

      Correction- I wrote carborundum (silicon carbide) when I meant corundum. Apologies, quite embarrassing. I should add that I find uncut stones far more interesting and attractive.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Ironically what he is accusing Russia, China and Iran of doing is nothing compared to what America’s establishment is doing to the country itself – and he is part of that establishment.

      1. CA

        Ironically what [Pompeo] is accusing Russia, China and Iran of doing…

        [ The aggressive foreign policy scapegoating of American officials from the President on down is domestically deceptive and disabling. ]

  10. griffen

    Sport desk update … And instead of a former all time great huddled into a white Ford Bronco in June 1994 we have a currently and possibly all time great professional golfer being charged with some pernicious charges in the early hours.

    This is such a ridiculous yet true headline and so very 2024. The Far Side couldn’t make this up ! Pro golfer assaulting a Louisville police officer? And..it isn’t John Daly!


    1. ChrisFromGA

      At least he got a taste of what black folks have to deal with on a routine basis.

      1. Verifyfirst

        This guy is charged with felony assaulting a police officer at 6am, and makes it to his tee time at 10AM? WTAF.

        1. Screwball

          And shot a 66, only 3 strokes behind the leader.

          Orwell didn’t even think of this stuff.

        2. griffen

          This is strictly my hypothetical view, but somebody high on the local level, or state level even, totem pole caught a whiff of this on the Twitter or X which was blowing up and likely placed a phone call. Probably could have been handled better and simply at the club entrance, but it was a rainy morning and there had just occurred an unfortunately fatal accident. Pro golfers aren’t pulling up to this event in a 20 year old Kia after all. Likely it’s a sponsor providing a nicely appointed sedan or SUV.

          It’s politics and also a major sporting event with significant tourist money coming into the region. Sad but true.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Pro-Infection Doctors Didn’t Just Want Kids in School. They Wanted Them There Unvaccinated, Untested, and Unmasked. They Wanted Them Infected.”

    It wasn’t just those doctors but politicians actually took up on those beliefs. Remember when Boris Johnson said that they should let the pandemic sweep its way across the country and take it on the chin? Using schools is a great vector for doing this and I still remember the fanaticism of some government in demanding that schools stay open. You gather several hundred kids in a school where they infect each other and when they go home they can infect their parents, grandparents and neighbours. It was a great mechanism for spreading this virus. You might lose a few kids but hey, no making an omelet without breaking a few eggs, amiright? And to think that these same quacks are now saying that they were doing so for the sake of the kid is revisionism of the worse sort. You have that too where the lockdowns are now being portrayed as a crime against humanity and the worse thing ever. But for these quacks, seeing those schools being ravaged again and again after three years is not what they thought would happen – mostly because they never thought about what a coronavirus actually meant in terms of there never being “herd immunity.” And that is what these quacks were aiming for, wasn’t it? And dammit I still remember doctors giving interviews talking more about effected portfolios rather than, you know, medical stuff.

    1. JBird4049

      I wonder if anyone brought up bubonic plague, tuberculosis, or smallpox in this herd immunity BS? Not only is impossible to get permanent “herd immunity” to coronaviruses there are plenty of diseases that are generally far more lethal even though for them you might get herd immunity. The survivors of smallpox did get permanent immunity, but death rates of 20% were common along with permanent scars even blindness. And this would reoccur every 15 years or so as the population of the unexposed would reach the density needed for another epidemic. The current pandemic/endemic disease can still possibly create a disease as deadly as smallpox especially the more it is allowed to continue unchecked. It is just the roll of the dice.

      We might not reach a crisis breakthrough due to a cumulative amount of suffering and disability, but of a sudden increase of people dying in great numbers as in the tens of thousands per a week.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I wonder if anyone brought up bubonic plague, tuberculosis, or smallpox in this herd immunity BS?

        Herd immunity has never had any serious thought behind it; it’s just a talking point. So, no.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > LoL more lack of executive function

      I don’t think this is an executive function issue; just simple militarism, been around forever. Now, when we start crashing the satellites into each other because somebody hit the wrong button, that will be an executive function (Covid sequala) issue.

      1. Jason Boxman

        I mean like with drones. It’s likely been obvious for a decade, but now there’s a race. We’re probably racing on supersonics now too. Or Biden can race to reshore chips decades after that horse left the barn to China. How much is actual incompetence or laziness or greed or hubris always difficult to portion. Racing to deal with obvious stuff headlines always feels like incompetence, followed by shock and fear. But never shame or humility.

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