2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Large Wren-Babbler, Pahang – Bukit Rengit, Pahang, Malaysia. I like the name, “Wren-Babbler.”

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In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Trump polling shows effects of conviction among independents.

(2) Biden fundraiser video.

(3) Kamala Harris mailer.

(4) H5N1 cluster continues.

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Look for the Helpers

From alert reader Diptherio:

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My email address is down by the plant; please send examples of “Helpers” there. In our increasingly desperate and fragile neoliberal society, everyday normal incidents and stories of “the communism of everyday life” are what I am looking for (and not, say, the Red Cross in Hawaii, or even the UNWRA in Gaza). –>

Politics

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

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2024

Less than a half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 24:

Still waiting for some discernible effect from Trump’s conviction (aside from, I suppose, his national numbers rising). Swing States (more here) still Brownian-motioning around. 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. If will be interesting to see whether the verdict in Judge Merchan’s court affects the polling, and if so, how.

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Trump (R): “New Polling Shows the Real Fallout From the Trump Conviction” [Politico]. “In the weeks since the verdict, both parties have sought to shape the public’s initial reaction, with Republicans largely denouncing it and Democrats citing the result as further evidence that Trump is unfit for office. To figure out how this unprecedented moment is being processed by the electorate, POLITICO Magazine partnered with Ipsos in a new survey…. Among the most notable findings in our poll: 21 percent of independents said the conviction made them less likely to support Trump and that it would be an important factor in their vote. In a close election, small shifts among independent and swing voters could determine the outcome.” But: “A sizable number of Americans, including independents, question whether the verdict was the result of a fair and impartial process. And although most respondents rejected the idea that the prosecution was brought to help President Joe Biden, a large number (43 percent of all respondents) either strongly or somewhat agreed that was the rationale for the case.” • So, still volatile.

Trump (R): “Trump unleashed: This is the calm before the storm” [Salon]. “Trump’s MAGA cultists treat his speeches and rallies like a type of religious service where they are worshipping their Dear Leader as a type of prophet and messiah-god-martyr. Trump is continuing to summon and channel Adolf Hitler and the Nazis as he uses eliminationist and other genocidal language to describe non-white migrants and refugees and the other people (Democrats, liberals, and “the Left”) he views as “vermin” and human pollution in American society…. The most naïve will continue to hide behind America’s ‘institutions’ and ‘national character’ and how ‘the guardrails’ and ‘the rule of law’ will supposedly not allow Trump to engage in the types of violence and authoritarian plans he has publicly outlined and promised against his “enemies.”” • The corollary here is that if the Democrats, from the base on upwards, genuinely believe this — and I have come to the reluctant conclusion that they do, and it’s not simply manipulation — they cannot possibly allow Trump to take office. An election where Biden wins the electoral college is, you might say, Plan B. What Plan A is we don’t know, but you can be sure it’s being gamed out, just as it was in 2020 (with 2016 a gentler version).

* * *

BIden (D): “If Biden doesn’t ace the first debate, will he be replaced at the convention?” [Douglas MacKinnon, The Hill]. “[T]he scheduled presidential debate on June 27 will be the most crucial test yet to determine Biden’s mental acuity…. The pressure on Biden to ‘ace’ the debate will be enormous…. The warnings from Silver, Stephens and others are critical because aside from an outright health emergency, there is only one more “political window” left to take the president out of the running and switch in another candidate in his place. That window being at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago beginning on August 19, where Biden’s delegates could be released to vote for a more able Democrat.” • Ed Kilgore says the Democrats would swap in Harris (and not Newsom, and not my favorite dark horse, Pritzker). I don’t disagree, partly because this really is the stupidest timeline, but also because the Democrat base thinks she’s OK, and how on earth do they throw a [genuflects] Black woman under the bus? Even a woman who’s putatively Black (sadly, I can’t seem to find the very early California campaign poster where she identifies as an Indian; this was before the “person of color” locution was invented).

Biden (D): This video, I believe, is not impeachable:

Watch how Obama guides Biden, especially that creepy little pat on the shoulder at 0:34 (“We’re almost back to your room, Joe, and you can lie down”). Yikes.

Biden (D): “White House, Obama team dispute characterization of fundraiser video” [The Hill]. “The White House and former President Obama’s team disputed the characterization that President Biden froze up on stage at a Los Angeles fundraiser and had to be led off the stage by the former president. The New York Post wrote about the video of Biden under the headline ‘Biden appears to freeze up, has to be led off stage by Obama at mega-bucks LA fundraiser.'” • I think the Post and the various Trump influencers are over-egging the pudding; they should just sit back and let Biden be Biden, which he will be. There doesn’t need to be any “freeze-up”; watching the way Obama guides Biden, along with Biden’s gait, is enough. They’re also making two risky bets: (1) that Biden won’t be properly juiced for the debate; and (2) that nothing similar will happen with Trump, who’s no spring chicken himself. Paging Susie Wiles!

Biden (D): I just got my first Harris mailer, so I felt I should add some helpful annotations, and share:

[1] Harris would hardly have begun her career as an old prosecutor, surely.

[2] The phrase “as Vice President of the United States” does not agree with the subject of the sentence, “President Biden and I,” unless Biden is, Schrodinger-like, simultaneously President and Vice President. (Readers, I know there’s a name for this error, but I can’t dredge it up. Please add in comments).

[3] Once again, if Democrats really believe this, they cannot let Trump take office.

[4] I guess they’re going with “our democracy” and not populism (though one could argue that “our progress” gestures vaguely in the direction of populism).

[5] Contradicts [3]. Why am I sending twenty five bucks to prevent rhetoric?

* * *

“Who Is Favored To Win The 2024 Presidential Election?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “The 2024 presidential election starts out in our forecast as a toss-up. While former President Donald Trump has a lead in most key swing states, they are close enough that a small amount of movement — or the polls being a little too favorable to Republicans — could result in President Joe Biden’s reelection. Right now, Biden is favored to win in 494 out of 1,000 simulations of how the election could go, while Trump wins in 502 of our simulations. In 4 simulations, no candidate wins a majority of Electoral College votes, which would throw the election to the House of Representatives. Our forecast launches just a week and a half after Trump was convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection to a scheme to pay hush money to a porn star during the 2016 election. Since May 30, he has lost ground in the polls, with his national margin in 538’s polling average falling from +1.7 to +1.0 as of Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern. Our forecast today thinks there is more room for Biden to improve, with economic and political “fundamentals” indicators pulling his predicted margin in the national popular vote up from -1.0 to +2.3 points. But he still lags in the key swing states, with his margin at just 1 point in Pennsylvania, the likeliest state to tip the Electoral College to either candidate, well within our uncertainty interval. And with five months left until Election Day, there is still a lot of room for the polls to change, as indicated by the 3-in-10 chance of either Trump or Biden winning a landslide of more than 350 electoral votes come Nov. 5.” • Apparently Silver’s designers felt that scrollbars weren’t needed [snarl]…. Anyhow, dragging the cursor across the text to the very end, this looks like spurious precision, to me:

“Resilience Part 1 (or a First Look at the 538 Model for 2024)” [Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo]. “538 just released its official 2024 forecast model. It shows a toss-up. (Technically, out of a thousand simulations, Biden wins 53% of the times and Trump wins 47% of the times.) This is significant, but not perhaps in the way you think. First, while poll averages are helpful to making sense of the current state of the race, forecasts are like predicting the future. In fact, they are literally about predicting the future. And predicting the future is hard — a basic life lesson if you haven’t come across it yet. To me, the 538 modeling is the gold standard. But I see it still as half a novelty. That’s no criticism of the people who put it together, incredibly smart folks [who left effing scrolls bars off the page, that kind of smart]. It’s just that there are a lot of factors that can’t be reduced to formulas and data inputs and the data that can be put into the model come with their own clouds of uncertainty. To me it’s a helpful data exercise which takes a knowledgable person’s range of factors, adds a bunch more and looks at them in a systematic and consistent-over-time fashion, stripped of wishful thinking. That’s helpful. It’s just not the be all and end all. But here’s why it’s significant.” • And on into “glass half full.” And Marshall is perfectly correct. In a 50/50 race there are paths to victory for Biden, too, just as there were for Trump in 2016. Adding, I prefer Silver the pundit to 538 the modeler. At least with the former, the assumptions are visible. Speaking of glass half full–

“The Overlooked (But Real) Possibility of a Big Democratic Win” [The Atlantic]. “The relentless focus on Trump is understandable, but it has obscured a central reality of the 2024 election: Democrats have a real chance to sweep the presidency, House, and Senate. And if they do, their congressional majority would likely be more cohesive and progressive than during President Joe Biden’s first two years in office. Biden’s deficit in the polls is much smaller than the party’s panic suggests and has narrowed since Trump’s felony convictions. Democrats need to flip only a few seats to recapture the House. Holding the Senate won’t be easy, but thanks to the retirements of a pair of maverick Democrats, even a small majority could open a path to [pathetically small] substantial legislative achievements such as the passage of a comprehensive voting-rights bill, a federal guarantee for abortion rights, lower drug prices, and an expanded social safety net.” More: “Progressives are prodding him in this direction too. In April, the Congressional Progressive Caucus published an agenda comprising dozens of policies that it believes Democratic majorities could enact in a Biden second term and that it wants the president to highlight during the campaign. The group excluded proposals that Biden doesn’t support, such as Medicare for All. But it featured many ideas that fell just short of passing in 2021 and 2022, such as expanding Medicare coverage and Social Security benefits, implementing universal pre-K and tuition-free public college, and restoring an expanded child tax credit.” • That’s our Progressives! Never leading, always following!

“The dread election: Share of ‘double haters’ hits historic high” [Axios]. “A quarter of Americans hold unfavorable views of both President Biden and former President Trump — the highest share of ‘double haters‘ at this stage in any of the last 10 elections, according to new Pew Research data. The closely watched bloc has nearly doubled in size since 2020, making this fall’s Trump vs. Biden rematch the most dreaded election in modern political history…. Top strategists say the race is likely to be decided by 6% of voters in six swing states. Many of them will hold their nose and pick a candidate they dislike in November.” But: “‘They may dislike both candidates, but the intensity on Trump’s negative is higher,’ Democratic pollster Jefrey Pollock told Axios. ‘A campaign that has the resources to persuade those individuals has some advantage.'”

“Further thoughts about the foreseeable future” [Roger Kimball, American Greatness]. Reads like the guy emptied his quote box, but this is fun: “Pollsters are busy taking the pulse of voters, and pundits are doing their owlish best to parse the data and take the auspices. It pains me to say that many of them are in the position of poor Publius Claudius Pulcher, commander of the Roman fleet in 249 at the Sicilian Battle of Drepana during the First Punic War. It was customary, before a battle, for Romans to consult the sacred chickens. Some feed was scattered in front of them. If they ate, the auspices were good and the battle could proceed. If they turned up the beaks at the food, however, the prudent commander held back. Pulcher scattered the food. The chickens didn’t eat. He tried again. Same result. Finally, exasperated, he had the beast[s] tossed overboard and is said to have remarked, Bidant, quoniam ēsse nolunt: let them drink since they do not want to eat! Pulcher, you will not be surprised to hear, lost the battle.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Fox’s Howie Kurtz Criticizes ‘Misleading’ Coverage Of Biden Cheapfake Video — Including Fox News” [Mediaite]. “Fox News host Howie Kurtz ripped “misleading” coverage — including Fox’s — of a cheapfake video of President Joe Biden at the G7 watching a skydiving show last week. The RNC Research account seized on a moment in which the president moved away from the group to congratulate a skydiver who was packing his chute. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy then grabbed Biden’s arm to draw his attention to a member of the skydiving team who was addressing the group of world leaders…. The New York Post then posted a version of the clip cropped vertically so the skydiver Biden was congratulating didn’t show in the video.” Kurtz: “[I]f you look at it from a slightly broader angle, the President had turned to chat with a skydiver who just landed as part of a show near the world leaders and to give the man a thumbs up before Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni guided him back to where they were taking a group photo.” • The moral: Always go with the wide-angle view, not the close-up. Photographers like close-ups; “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” said Robert Capa. But we should be looking for news photographs, not “good” photographs.

“Sinclair floods local news websites with hundreds of deceptive articles about Biden’s mental fitness” [Popular Information]. “On June 13, Sinclair’s National Desk published an article headlined, ‘Biden appears to wander away during G7 summit, escorted back by Italian PM.’ The article links to a social media post by right-wing polemicist Collin Rugg, who commented on a video clip by RNC Research. Rugg says Biden ‘appears to start wandering off at the G7 summit and has to be handled back in,’ describing it as a ‘clown show.’ The Trump campaign claimed Biden was ‘wandering around like a brain-dead zombie.’ Sinclair, echoing the Trump campaign’s political attack, described it as one of ‘a string of strange incidents for Biden.’ There was nothing strange about the incident. The G7 leaders watched a skydiving demonstration, with each parachuter carrying a flag for each nation. Biden briefly walks away from the group to give another parachuter a thumbs up. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that Biden ‘was being very polite and went over to talk to all of them individually.'” I did, in fact, see what purported to be the full video, which does this (video “purports to be” until proven otherwise). More: “Each of these crass political smears masquerading as journalism was syndicated to at least 86 local news websites owned by Sinclair. ”

Spook Country

“Intelligence Officials Secretly Paid by Big Tech to Fight Antitrust Reforms” [Lee Fang]. “High-level former intelligence and national security officials have provided crucial assistance to Silicon Valley giants as the tech firms fought off efforts to weaken online monopolies and force competition on major platforms… ‘We need to keep Big Tech strong — so it can keep America strong,’ claimed Robert O’Brien, the former White House National Security Advisor to President Trump. O’Brien has appeared on cable news programs and penned several opinion columns rallying opposition to tech antitrust reforms in Congress…. .The disclosures show that the tech group not only paid a group of former Trump intelligence officials but also retained the services of Global Strategy Group, a polling and consulting firm that advises the Democratic National Committee. CCIA, notably, repeatedly cited O’Brien’s concerns around national security and China, casting him as a neutral expert rather than a paid consultant.”

Clinton Legacy

“Hillary Clinton’s shock Tony’s appearance baffles viewers as she makes political joke” [Daily Express]. Clinton is a producer of the Broadway musical Suffs (“Suffragettes”). This seems to have been the joke: “While speaking about the suffragettes, she quipped she knows how ‘hard it can be to make change’, referring to her attempts for the Presidency.” • Her outfit:

If you had to run, I suppose that’s easier to do in a caftan that a Nina McLemore….

Syndemics

“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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Transmission: Covid

“Viral shedding of SARS-CoV-2 in body fluids associated with sexual activity: a systematic review and meta-analysis” [BMJ Open]. From the Abstract: “Objective: To identify and summarise the evidence on the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA detection and persistence in body fluids associated with sexual activity (saliva, semen, vaginal secretion, urine and faeces/rectal secretion)…. Results: … The maximum viral persistence for faeces/rectal secretions was 210 days, followed by semen 121 days, saliva 112 days, urine 77 days and vaginal secretions 13 days. Culturable SARS-CoV-2 was positive for saliva and faeces.” • News you can use!

Elite Maleficence

“Bird flu snapshot: A critic of the U.S. response speaks out, and USDA tries to ‘corner the virus'” [STAT]. “Seth Berkley, the former head of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, gave voice last week to a point of view STAT has been hearing for a while about the U.S. response to the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in dairy cows. ‘It’s been shocking to watch the ineptitude,’ Berkley, an American currently living in Switzerland, said… Berkley was talking, among other things, about the surveillance being done to try to get a handle on how widespread the outbreak has actually become. It has been nearly three months since the virus was first identified in cattle, and the country is no closer to an answer to that question…. Have any of the affected herds cleared their infections? If so, how many? The USDA couldn’t answer those questions on Thursday. And yet Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack confidently declared at a press conference earlier this month that his department feels it knows how the virus is moving between herds and how to stop it. ‘We are trying to essentially corner the virus,’ Vilsack said, despite the fact that operators of only 11 of the affected herds have applied for USDA help to improve biosecurity on their farms and defray testing costs.” • I have to confess, there are times when our institutional response makes me feel like this:

The videographer survived, fortunately, as I, and you who are reading this have done, so far. So, not “fear mongering” but clarity, rational apprehension, anticipation.

“It will be a miracle if H5N1 does not go full explosive pandemic.” [Lazarus Long, ThreadReader]. “So, the USDA is telling us not to worry because they are depending on public health to test people to let us know if it is spreading in people. Who are not being tested.” Oh. More: “Not coincidentally, did you know that 10% of poultry workers test positive for H5N1? Per @NIOSH, in DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2008–128. “Protecting Poultry Workers from Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)” In which they recommend respirators or PAPR.” • PAPR = Powered Air Purifying Respirator.

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

Wastewater
Dad Joke This week[1] CDC June 10: Last Week[2] CDC June 3 (until next week):

Variants[3] CDC June 8 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC June 1
Hospitalization
New York[5] New York State, data June 14: National [6] CDC May 25:

Positivity
National[7] Walgreens June 10: Dad Joke Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic June 8:
Travelers Data
Dad Joke Positivity[9] CDC May 27: Dad Joke Variants[10] CDC May 27:
Deaths
Weekly Deaths vs. % Positivity [11]CDC June 1: Weekly Deaths vs. ED Visits [12]CDC June 1:

LEGEND

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

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

NOTES

[1] (CDC) This week’s wastewater map, with hot spots annotated. The numbers in the right hand column are identical. The dots on the map are not.

[2] (CDC) Last week’s wastewater map.

[3] (CDC Variants) FWIW, given that last week KP.2 was all over everything like kudzu, and now it’s KP.3. If the “Nowcast” can’t even forecast two weeks out, why are we doing it at all?

[4] (ER) This is the best I can do for now. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) A slight decrease followed by a return to a slight, steady increase. (The New York city area has form; in 2020, as the home of two international airports (JFK and EWR) it was an important entry point for the virus into the country (and from thence up the Hudson River valley, as the rich sought to escape, and then around the country through air travel.)

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC). This is the best I can do for now. Note the assumption that Covid is seasonal is built into the presentation. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[7] (Walgreens) 4.3%; big jump. (Because there is data in “current view” tab, I think white states here have experienced “no change,” as opposed to have no data.)

[8] (Cleveland) Going up.

[9] (Travelers: Positivity) Up. Those sh*theads at CDC have changed the chart so that it doesn’t even run back to 1/21/23, as it used to, but now starts 1/1/24. There’s also no way to adjust the time rasnge. CDC really doesn’t want you to be able to take a historical view of the pandemic, or compare one surge to another. In an any case, that’s why the shape of the curve has changed.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Same deal. Those sh*theads. I’m leaving this here for another week because I loathe them so much:

[11] Deaths low, but positivity up.

[12] Deaths low, ED up.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index increased to -6 in June 2024 from -15.6 in May, beating forecasts of -9. It is the highest reading in four months, although it still pointed to a moderate decline in business activity in the New York State.”

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Tech: “Proton is taking its privacy-first apps to a nonprofit foundation model” [Ars Technica]. “‘We believe that if we want to bring about large-scale change, Proton can’t be billionaire-subsidized (like Signal), Google-subsidized (like Mozilla), government-subsidized (like Tor), donation-subsidized (like Wikipedia), or even speculation-subsidized (like the plethora of crypto ‘foundations’),’ Proton CEO Andy Yen wrote in a blog post announcing the transition. “Instead, Proton must have a profitable and healthy business at its core.’ The announcement comes exactly 10 years to the day after a crowdfunding campaign saw 10,000 people give more than $500,000 to launch Proton Mail. To make it happen, Yen, along with co-founder Jason Stockman and first employee Dingchao Lu, endowed the Proton Foundation with some of their shares. The Proton Foundation is now the primary shareholder of the business Proton, which Yen states will ‘make irrevocable our wish that Proton remains in perpetuity an organization that places people ahead of profits.’ Among other members of the Foundation’s board is Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of HTML, HTTP, and almost everything else about the web. Of particular importance is where Proton and the Proton Foundation are located: Switzerland. As Yen noted, Swiss foundations do not have shareholders and are instead obligated to act “in accordance with the purpose for which they were established.’ While the for-profit entity Proton AG can still do things like offer stock options to recruits and even raise its own capital on private markets, the Foundation serves as a backstop against moving too far from Proton’s founding mission, Yen wrote.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 17 at 1:48:29 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) • Bird flu not a concern, apparently. Still flirting with the 189 ceiling….

The Gallery

Some say the Nabis are just wallpaper. And sometimes they are! But what wallpaper!

News of the Wired

“NASA again delays Boeing Starliner’s return home” [Phys.org]. “Mark Nappi, vice president of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, added, “We have an incredible opportunity to spend more time at station and perform more tests which provides invaluable data unique to our position.” • Nothing to see here!

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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 RM:

RM writes: “I’m so pleased to see these spring flowers pop out but then I hear from a friend back East that her mom is busy digging them out of her yard.”

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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.

71 comments

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Whoops! I was in such a rush to get on to the pandemic material! Fixed!

      Adding, right in a standing element, too, one that’s been persisting for months, even years. Or maybe that single character change is a sign that I’ve moved from one timeline to another in the many worlds hypothesis. If so, I hope it’s a better one.

      1. ambrit

        Remind me one day to tell you about the timeline I acquired a copy of “The Complete Love Poetry of Edgar Rice Burroughs” from.
        (Very obscure reference that.)

  1. RoadDoggie

    Just a quick FYI, Silver is out at 538, and the byline on the latest post on their forecast is “—G. Elliott Morris”

    Silver has his own poker/politics substack and I believe will be publishing his forecast there going forward but I have not checked lately. Here is his blog: https://www.natesilver.net/

      1. RoadDoggie

        I think the TLDR is that ABC bought 538, laid off everybody perhaps including Silver.

        In Silvers recent post he states that he retained the IP to all the original models as well prior to his leaving in 2023. I look forward to seeing how they diverge this election cycle.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Biden cheapfake

    The uncropped version doesn’t do Biden any favors either so not sure why anyone felt the need to alter it. He clearly wanders and goes off script which is obvious from the looks of the other clowns/world leaders and the need for Meloni to usher him back.

    1. britzklieg

      Any attempt to defend Biden by denying his obviously failed condition is lipstick on a pig. That Trump is the alternative, sadly indeed disastrously, is immaterial. Genocide Joe has gotta go. Die Zeit ist um. US polity is a charade of grift and corruption perpetrated by pernicious charlatans willfully victimizing and blinding most everyone from both sides of the partisan divide.

      I’ll vote for Jill Stein and it won’t make a bit of difference.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Any attempt to defend Biden by denying his obviously failed condition is lipstick on a pig.

        It’s not an issue of “defending Biden,” unless your view of the news is wholly instrumental, which mine is not.

        1. Pat

          My view of the news is that we now see very little of it. And that it is yet another victim of our deeply corrupted system.
          Press organizations should not misrepresent what Biden does anymore than they should attribute Hillary Clinton’s loss to Russian interference. (But then I object to her being called a producer of Suffs rather than a paid front person). Or to be fairer, the frequent continued misrepresentation of Donald Trump’s presidency and his current actions by most of the media. Or more importantly the “news” of Ukraine and Gaza which is more propaganda than fact.
          There has always been an element of bias, news is produced by humans and they aren’t naturally neutral. But a case could be made that the majority of press outlets do not even try for it anymore.
          But I wish it weren’t so.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > My view of the news is that we now see very little of it. And that it is yet another victim of our deeply corrupted system.

            That’s true. But that’s no reason to emulate them.

      2. Carolinian

        Was really looking at skydivers but in fact did cause a war where 100s of thousands of people have died

        It’s all ok then!

        It’s the conscious Biden we have to worry about more than the gaga Biden. But in our hypervisual age the spin meisters only fret about the pictures.

  3. John k

    Silver worried polls overly biased towards reps…
    I recall polls widely expected a Clinton win in 2016. Is he worried pollsters, including himself, went too far towards reps since then?
    I don’t remember the polls prior to the razor thin 2020 election?
    My guess is the economy and war depressing news/fatigue will favor trump, plus the swings would have to sharply reverse. Are dems desperate enough to change horse? Imo if it’s Kamala it’ll be a landslide.

    1. Lou Anton

      Polls did overestimate the republican support level in the 2022 mid-terms (iirc), so I guess it’s not crazy to think it could be happening again.

      That Biden & Obama video, wow…just air as is for 25 seconds, then show a clip of trump doing the little dance moves he does at the podium sometimes, and end with “Trump 2024” a logo and this thing is over.

      1. jtab

        True, but things don’t just “happen”. What’s the reason for the polls being wrong in 2024, in so many states?

        There’s a huge pile of money for the pollster who can figure that out, and adjust for it before November.

  4. Wukchumni

    While not at quite Weekend at Bernie’s levels of desperation with Junior Soprano-er I mean Joe Biden, of what good does it do for him to limp to the finish line on November 5th?

    As far as the videos of Joe go, they’re worth not a thousand words, but hundreds of millions.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > As far as the videos of Joe go, they’re worth not a thousand words, but hundreds of millions.

      Yes, just as they are, no alterations or parsing necessary. To me, that video looks exactly like Obama leading an old and lost nursing home resident back to their room. No need for armchair diagnosis, or passing gleeful, five-year-old-level remarks about “pooping.” All you have to do is look at the personal interactions. Same with last video I showed of Biden at the meeting with Tik-Tok-ers his own campaign arranged. The set of his mouth shows a vicious, angry man. No need for further speculation.

      1. Wukchumni

        Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

        Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

        …from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

      2. Acacia

        I lol’d at the end of the video, when the curtain visibly came down on Obama and Ole Joe.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      Perhaps it is an offshoot of “Orangeman-bad-uh!” (a.k.a. Trump Derangement Syndrome.)

      “See! We beat the Orangeman with a vegetable! ” (Best heard in a cackling, Hillary voice.)

    3. Carolinian

      I’m thinking more the comedy Dave. They need to find a Biden lookalike or maybe a video sim like Max Headroom.

      And yes even if he wins in November we’ll really be getting President Harris as he quickly exits the scene.

      1. Wukchumni

        They need to find a Biden lookalike or maybe a video sim like Max Headroom.

        …wasn’t that Robespierre’s nickname in the French Revolution?

        1. ambrit

          Watch that wit Wuk! You might cut yourself!
          For me, as I commented a few days ago, the interesting contest at the upcoming Democrat Party convention will be who the Veep candidate is. I would not put it past many nefarious characters in the Party to ease Harris out and replace her with their ‘real’ choice for President.

    1. aletheia33

      as a lowly copyeditor, not a professional grammarian, i call this simply gobbledegook,
      or “a tale told by an idiot”.

      the entire first sentence of the text has no clear connection to the paragraph that follows–
      one can guess a connection is being attempted between “prosecutor” and the trump trial?
      this is a bigger problem than grammar.

      the meaning of the garbled phrase seems likely to be simply “president biden and i are running”…
      but again–one cannot know that for sure–fixing the grammar there is insufficient IMHO to fully clarify the intended meaning (if any).

      sorry i can’t be more grammarianly lambert!

      … this level of verbal communication is becoming common in print, as lambert has often noted–perhaps due to copyeditors being fed to the great neoliberal devouring, combined with post-COVID brain fog on a wide scale.

  5. Neutrino

    Seeing the phrase a time or two

    if Democrats really believe this, they cannot let Trump take office

    causes the same reaction:
    not Democrats, or Republicans in an analogous case, but voters;
    not the DNC, nor the RNC, but voters.

    Maybe overthinking, but circumspection seems increasingly warranted when trust has cratered.

      1. Neutrino

        I think I was going for a notion of Democrats as some broad group, but actually led by insiders who set the tone. The sense of disenfranchising the base by dictating some action. Whichever party handing down proclamations while seeming to speak for a group that is spread out across a range going some standard deviations from that mean.

    1. LawnDart

      I was thinking that the fear-porn really cooks their eggplants– the party-faithful of either stripe totally get-off on it, and to me the election-season does look like one big circle-jerk as they OD on Two-Minute Hate the way a dying man might on Viagra during his last visit to a whorehouse.

      Being “afraid” really seems to make them happy and to fuel feelings of togetherness, and their feelings are what matter most, right? When it’s every animal for itself, what else is there?

  6. Death to America

    the error in [2] in the harris mailer is called a dangling modifier, if i’m not mistaken

    1. lambert strether

      Thank you. “Dangling modifier” sounds a lot like Harris’s existential position, doesn’t it?

      1. Mark Gisleson

        I couldn’t believe that anything that poorly written would get put out by any campaign. Still sweaty from lawn mowing, stoned and more than usually irritated I just wasted half an hour producing an approximation of what fundraising copy should read like done with the assumption the writers were ordered to attack Trump. Anyhow, this would be my version of what they did using a lot of their words except with purpose (i.e., guile aka trickery also known as your eyes are getting heavy, you will believe what you are about to read…:

        Donald Trump has been convicted on 34 counts and still awaits trial for felonies involving vote fraud, classified documents and the January 6th Insurrection. Since the voters retired him in 2020 he continues to roil the political waters as his MAGA mobs threaten the civil order. Trump attacks and vilifies the judges and witnesses brave enough to stand up to him and mutters darkly about “revenge.”

        More years ago than I now care to admit, I began my legal career as a county prosecutor. Election by election I continued to rise within our system which I must admit I think is the greatest democracy in the world. For the daughter of immigrants to rise to the high office of Vice President has been my greatest honor.

        Together President Biden and I are running not just for reelection. We evicted Donald Trump from the White House once, and we’re not letting him back in but it won’t be easy. Last month alone Trump’s fundraisers pulled in over $140 million in mostly large donations with more coming in as Wall Street makes their choice clear.

        The President and I understand that you’re not a fat cat and can’t write a big check like Trump’s donors do but we know we have numbers on our side and with enough checks for $25 we can match Trump’s fat cats mailing for mailing, ad for ad, rally for rally.

        Please let us know you’re still with us in our fight to keep America safe for decency and fair play.

        If you’ve saved information with ActBlue Express, your first two donations have already been processed : )

        This is not good, just better than what they mailed out. Given more time I think I could make it rhyme and match the cadence to that of a hit tune from SUFFS but first you would have to tie me down and make me listen to a bootleg of the play Hillary touted at the Emmys.

        1. ambrit

          “SUFFS”? With La Clinton involved, I would consider the title “Suffer” to be more appropriate.

  7. Tom Stone

    It seems certain that Biden will be replaced on the Ballot and it seems very likely to me that the Dems WILL doe “Whatever it takes to keep Trump out of the White House”.
    If the Bird ‘Flu takes off before the Election in a populace with widespread immune dysregulation it could complicate matters…
    I wonder how many County disaster preparedness offices have decided where the burn pits will go?

    1. JBird4049

      >>>I wonder how many County disaster preparedness offices have decided where the burn pits will go?

      I know that what you say might merely be in jest, but really, we have peak summer holidays coming up, and if that doesn’t work, we have the winter holidays right after the elections. Just perfect for the flu.

      Really, it does not seem such an unlikely thing that the only real planning that the local special action groups county disaster agencies have are mass graves and burn pits. On the down low as it were. Maybe they will send phone apps to organize collections. Call it the Bring Out Your Dead™️ healthcare app. The Cleansing must go on after all.

  8. Jason Boxman

    Trump’s MAGA cultists treat his speeches and rallies like a type of religious service where they are worshipping their Dear Leader as a type of prophet and messiah-god-martyr.

    Well, Stoller reviewed Trump’s 2016 speeches, some of them at least, recently, and at least in 2016 campaign he was certainly speaking against the capitalists, free trade, and outsourcing. So I can certainly see why some people deeply affected by liberal Democrat policy since Clinton might develop a deep reverence for this guy. Who else was speaking to them? Sadly, Stoller found for this campaign, Trump is not speaking against corporate greed.

    1. flora

      er, um, “cultists” vs citizens? huh.

      I like Stoller. He does seem too deferential, however, to the modern Dem estab as if they are still the old New Deal estab. They are not. / imo

  9. Jason Boxman

    New Walgreens just out after 11 am eastern; We’re up another 2.9%! Off like a rocket ship indeed!

    My heartfelt thank you to Biden and Cohen! This is the most consistently run eugenics program in recent history.

  10. Wukchumni

    “NASA again delays Boeing Starliner’s return home” [Phys.org]. “Mark Nappi, vice president of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, added, “We have an incredible opportunity to spend more time at station and perform more tests which provides invaluable data unique to our position.” • Nothing to see here!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    (International Boeing Mission) : I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I don’t suppose they could ask the Russians to mount a mission and have one of their craft bring back those astronauts, could they? Oh wait……

  11. Wukchumni

    Hard to believe Kevin and I have been divorced over 6 months now after 17 years together in haz-matrimony as my political leader, time flies when you give up your job and concentrate on being the spoiler in Ransom of Red Chief 2024! (with apologies to O. Henry)

    I’ve never seen Kev work so hard at anything, attempting to expel the hard 8 who rode him outta town on a gavel, er Caucus.

    Had all that campaign cash, and his first try failed miserably as Nancy Mace trounced his hand-picked has been in the NC primary~

    The Ransom Of Red Chief, by O. Henry

    IT LOOKED like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. We were down South, in Alabama — Bill Driscoll and myself — when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill afterward expressed it, “during a moment of temporary mental apparition”; but we didn’t find that out till later.

    https://www.online-literature.com/o_henry/1041/

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I juat checked my OED. “Suff,” as an abbreviation for “suffragette,” isn’t in it. Therefore, the usage is contemporary. Maybe some brain genius in Clinton’s circle coined it.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    A head scratcher – Waffle House is set to raise its minimum wage for tipped workers all the way up to a whopping $3/hr. That’s not a typo. There is no missing zero. But one would expect a corporate chain to pay as little as they can possibly get away with – the part that has me flummoxed is this bit from the article:

    “The federal minimum wage in 2025 is set to hit $15 per hour.”

    Last I knew it was $7.25/hr. Just checked again and it’s still $7.25/hr according to the Department of Labor’s own website, with no mention of any pending increase. Have I missed a really big story, or was this article maybe written by Artificial Ignorance?

    1. Belle

      Per labor law, the minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 under federal law. Tips are supposed to make it up to the minimum, and if not, the company is supposed to cover it.
      https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state/minimum-wage/tipped/2023
      One of the few recruiters who contacted me was a recruiter for Waffle House. Now, the Waffle Houses in my area were advertising pay above my current rate, though not my desired pay. However, it would be far more stressful work than my current job, and I have wanted out of the restaurant business for years.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I’m assuming the part I quoted from the article about federal minimum wage being set to reach $15/hr is referring to the non-tipped workers, not tipped ones. But I hadn’t heard anything about the minimum wage more than doubling next year.

        Also, I worked in the restaurant business for quite a while myself and wholeheartedly support your efforts to leave it.

        1. ambrit

          Especially the Waffle House cooks. They need to be competent short order cooks plus have photographic memories. (He or she has to keep all the orders, main course plus side items, in proper order, in their memory.)
          When I worked as a busboy and then waiter in the French Quarter, half of my problems came from co-workers. A greedier, more back stabbing bunch you would not want to meet. Maybe I just worked at the wrong places.

  13. Lunker Walleye

    Interior With Pink Wallpaper, Edouard Vuillard. I wonder if this is a true lithograph, rendered on a flat stone slab or if it was done on metal? Either way, there’s a lot of disciplined work that went into this sweet print. The busyness of the pattern seems a lot more important than the figure standing in the doorway. The latticework of the wallpaper reminds me of the pattern in today’s yellow flowers in the Plantidote.

    1. Jason Boxman

      It is a 179 page complaint. I’m hopeful this goes somewhere. Some choice bits:

      4. Pfizer said its COVID-19 vaccine was effective even though it knew its COVID19 vaccine waned over time and did not protect against COVID-19 variants. Pfizer concealed this
      critical effectiveness information from the public.

      5. Pfizer said its COVID-19 vaccine would prevent transmission of COVID-19 even
      though it knew it never studied the effect of its vaccine on transmission of COVID-19

      8. Pfizer’s actions and statements relating to its COVID-19 vaccine violated the
      Kansas Consumer Protection Act, K.S.A. 50-623 et seq., regardless of whether any individual
      consumer ultimately received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

      And how about this, playing hide the ball with the data:

      C. Pfizer used an extended study timeline to conceal critical data relating to the
      safety and effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine.

      64. Pfizer initially estimated that it would complete the study by January 27, 2023, but
      that estimated date fell back to February 2024 because of a late vaccination of a single study
      participant (out of 44,000 participants). Jennifer Block, COVID-19: Researchers face wait for
      patient level data from Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials, BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL, July 12,
      2022;
      23 see also Pfizer’s Clinical Study Records.2

      Big if true:

      E
      . Pfizer destroyed the vaccine control group, which will conceal critical data
      relating to the safety and effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine.

      83. Finally, Pfizer kept its COVID-19 vaccine’s true effects hidden by destroying the
      control group participating in its vaccine trial.

      If it proves out, a lot of people should be in jail. Of course that won’t happen.

      Looks like Pfizer violated two separate consent degrees with Kanas. The damages are $20k per violation for the various consent degree violations. Maybe a decent sum, but still just the cost of doing business.

      But discovery for this ought to be nice and provide some clarifying information, perhaps a gateway to other lawsuits.

      The first 60 odd pages laid out all the facts in support of the state’s case.

      Even in December, 2021, Pfizer maintained the myth that the shots were sterilizing:

      In December 2021, a Pfizer press release quoted Chairman and CEO Dr. Bourla in
      a manner that again suggested that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine prevented transmission: “Ensuring
      as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” Pfizer and BioNTech Provide
      Update on Omicron Variant, Pfizer (Dec. 8, 2021) (emphasis added)

      Fun times. The biggest public health debacle in recent memory. Biden are the CDC are all about putting the sh*t back in the water, neh?

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Hillary Clinton’s shock Tony’s appearance baffles viewers as she makes political joke”

    The justification for her being there is that she is a producer for the show “Suffragettes”. I find that ironic in that if she was around over a century ago, she would be one of those trying to sell out the movement for her own personal gain so that women would only be getting the vote in the 1940s and not the 1920s and women like Susan B. Anthony would have been sidelined out of the movement long before.

  15. ChrisPacific

    It pains me to say that many of them are in the position of poor Publius Claudius Pulcher, commander of the Roman fleet in 249 at the Sicilian Battle of Drepana during the First Punic War.

    Dude. It does not ‘pain you’ to say that. It very clearly does the exact opposite.

  16. Alex Cox

    No news about George Galloway and the Workers Party in the UK?

    Nothing worth mentioning here, or in Links?

    Nothing at all, with the general election three weeks away?

    Really?

    1. Grebo

      The BBC apparently sees no need to include them in their polls. Five days ago they did cover a complaint from a “Mr Rowley, who is an ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust, and stood to be a Labour councillor” about some vaguely described “derogatory comments” a Workers Party candidate posted on Facebook.

      Seven days ago a candidate got sacked for anti-islamic remarks. They covered that. Nothing else since 4 June, except to simply note that they have 152 candidates standing.

  17. LawnDart

    Tech:

    On controlling the past…

    Artificial intelligence has rightfully become the subject of great controversy, even though it is still early to fully assess its impact.

    Within the genus of what has come to be known as deep fakes a specific and sinister class has emerged that is saturating the internet. It does not aim to inflict the usual annoyances such as altering an individual’s appearance, making him do or say things that in real life he never would, or depicting him credibly in a compromising situation for the purpose of discreditation. Instead of generating banal personal fakes, it does something that causes incomparably more harm. It deliberately falsifies the historical record by erasing the distinction between fact and fiction, truth and falsehood. It misleads the uninformed and the gullible by manufacturing events that theoretically could have, but never did happen.

    https://strategic-culture.su/news/2024/06/17/on-controlling-the-past/

  18. kareninca

    “We are trying to essentially corner
    the virus” within infected herds so it
    eventually dissipates, he said during
    a teleconference.”

    Hahahahaha!!!!! Why does that remind me of the solemn assurance, which was repeated to me by people who should have known better, that the vaccine Remains In the Arm, as if a little wall self-fabricated in order to keep it away from the rest of the body??? Of course very early on a Japanese study showed to went posthaste to the ovaries.

    We’re going to corner the virus!!!!!!!!!! That’ll show it!!!!!!!! It will cower in the corner, and tremble in fear, and then dissipate into the air!!!!!!

    That guy has watched too many Scooby Doo cartoons.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear’ – Trump on Covid-19 in 2020. It’s Deja vu all over again.

  19. XXYY

    Lambert: “Harris would hardly have begun her career as an old prosecutor, surely.”

    Never mentioned in Harris bios is the fact that she was for several years the girlfriend of longtime Assembly Speaker and Califormia political kingmaker Willie Brown. When they met, she was 29 and Brown was 60.

    Quoting from a piece in USA Today:

    Brown appointed Harris to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and then to the Medical Assistance Commission – positions that paid her more than $400,000 over five years, according to SF Weekly. Brown also gave Harris a BMW.

    “And I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco,” he said in his Chronicle letter Saturday.

    It’s quite easy to believe that Harris’s political career would never have gone anywhere without this critical boost to the young California politician. This rather blatant case of a mediocre political aspirant sleeping her way to the top is not something that her PR people want to be on the tip of everyone’s lips.

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