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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/18/2023 | naked capitalism

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got wrapped around the axle on Trump (also birds). More in a bit. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Yellow Warbler (Northern), Bonner’s Ferry Boundary, Idaho, United States. “On the edge of the marsh near the Nature Conservancy Ball Creek Ranch preserve. Habitat: Freshwater Marsh.”

“Showcasing the spectacle of bird migration” [BirdCast]. • I’m not a stone birder, so I don’t already know about this. Cornell Lab of Ornithology involved, which is nice. Handy map:

“Swarms of birds will fly over the US soon. Explore BirdCast’s new migration tool to help you prepare” [USA Today]. “For each region, BirdCast includes a migrants’ noticeability (how likely birders are to notice a given species’ arrival or departure based on eBird reports), estimated arrival date, influx, peak and departure. Some species are missing dates if their arrival or departure occurs largely outside of the spring months, or if a species lingers in the region before or after migration, BirdCast said.”

* * *

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

The Constitutional Order

“Banning Trump” [Eric Posner, Project Syndicate]. On Chase’s opinion in Griffin: “Baude and Paulsen, by contrast, condemn Chase of a technical error of judicial interpretation, committing the ‘classic blunder’ of ‘swapping in original intent for original meaning’ when he interpreted the amendment. They think Chase should have enforced the ill-considered impulses of Congress, come what may. And they think today’s secretaries of state should enforce those same ill-considered, vengeful impulses, as embodied in the text and original understanding in 1868. The implication is that they should disregard the utterly different context – the elimination from the ballot of a former president and Republican Party frontrunner – despite the impact of disenfranchising a huge portion of the electorate in its own eyes. It is hard to think of a better way to discredit both democracy and the rule of law in a single blow.”

“The Limited Sweep and Ineffectual Force of False Analogies: A Brief Reply to Baude and Paulsen” [F. E. Guerra-Pujol, SSRN]. “For starters, Baude and Paulsen’s self-execution argument is built on the shaky foundation of two false and misleading analogies. One is to the age, citizenship, and residency requirements set forth in the Qualifications Clause in Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution. The other faulty comparison they make is to the Thirteenth Amendment. Both of these constitutional analogies, however, could serve as textbook illustrations of , a logical fallacy that bedevils most forms of Originalist scholarship. At a high enough level of generality, for example, it is true that both apples and oranges are alike–after all, both are pieces of fruit that taste sweet–but when one inspects or bites into them one will soon discover that apples are, in fact, quite different from oranges. To begin with, although the Fourteenth Amendment’s Disqualification Clause and the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in Article II share a similar linguistic structure to some degree, e.g. “”no person shall …,”” both provisions are substantively different, for they attempt to solve different problems in different ways. Simply put, .” • If self-executing, the second is a judgment call; the first is not.

“Do Liberals Think the Supreme Court Will Save Us From Trump?” [MSN]. “[E]ven assuming that there was an airtight case on originalist grounds, it would be unwise to assume that it will actually sway votes among the conservative justices. Whatever one makes of originalism as an academic pursuit, it is not practiced by conservative justices in anything resembling a legitimately principled or objective manner. All too often, originalism in the courts is little more than an outcome-driven interpretive method that somehow — magically — almost always aligns with the political and policy prerogatives of the Republican Party…. It was one thing for them to have rejected Trump’s various legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the courts after he lost, but it would be another thing entirely for them to prevent him from running altogether, particularly when most Republican politicians and Republican voters strongly support his candidacy. For this to work, at a bare minimum, a comprehensive and compelling legal argument with broad ideological appeal and robust bipartisan support would likely need to come together. That may emerge as litigation proceeds, and as scholars and lawyers continue to debate and refine their ideas, but it is not here yet. For now, Trump’s opponents need to focus on beating him the old-fashioned way — at the ballot box.”

* * *

“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:

The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.

Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.

Capitol Seizure

“A Jan. 6 rioter was convicted and sentenced in secret. No one will say why” [Independent]. “Hundreds of rioters have been charged, convicted and sentenced for joining the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. Unlike their cases, Samuel Lazar’s appears to have been resolved in secret — kept under seal with no explanation, even after his release from prison. Lazar, 37, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, was arrested in July 2021 on charges that he came to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, dressed in tactical gear and protective goggles, and used chemical spray on officers who were desperately trying to beat back the angry Donald Trump supporters. There is no public record of a conviction or a sentence in Lazar’s court docket… Lazar shouted profane insults at police through the bullhorn, calling them tyrants and yelling, ‘Let’s get their guns!’ Another video captured Lazar saying, ‘There’s a time for peace and there’s a time for war.’” • As is well-known: The first one calling for violence is always the cop. Or the spook.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *
“Donald Trump Denounces DeSantis Abortion Ban As ‘A Terrible Mistake’” [Vanity Fair]. “Donald Trump called Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s six-week abortion ban ‘a terrible thing and a terrible mistake,’ underscoring the kind of contrast he hopes to draw with his chief primary rival on an issue that has proven to be an electoral liability for the GOP. In an interview with Kristen Welker during her Sunday debut as the new Meet the Press moderator on NBC, Trump refused to say whether he’d sign a 15-week federal abortion ban if it came across his desk as president. ‘I would sit down with both sides, and I’d negotiate something, and we’ll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years. I’m not going to say I would or I wouldn’t,’ Trump said. ‘I mean, ‘DeSanctus’ is willing to sign a five-week and six-week ban.’” • I love it, Trump moving to DeSantis’s left on abortion…. Still, that “I’d negotiate something” might wear thin after awhile? That’s Trump’s line on Ukraine, too.

“Full transcript: Read Kristen Welker’s interview with Trump” [NBC] Meet the Press. I’ve got to edit down Trump on Ukraine, because he’s really got his “riffing jazzily” thing going. A sidebar: “Riffing jazzily” is taken from my 2016 post, “Fear and Loathing at the Cross Arena in Bangor, Maine: Donald Trump Makes Headlines.” Would it surprise you to learn that this post doesn’t show up in Google?

End sidebar, back to Trump:

[TRUMP:] Ukraine would have never happened if I were president. If this election weren’t rigged, Ukraine would have never happened. You would have hundreds of thousands of people, including lots of soldiers, still living. The cities would be flourishing, or at least up. These are cities that can never be rebuilt again, certainly not the way they were, magnificent buildings all ripped down like a demolition site. It would have never happened for two reasons. Number one, and most importantly, Putin has a lot of respect for me. And he wouldn’t have played games. And I told him, “”Don’t ever go in.”” And he would never have gone in. This was only after I left that this happened…. Equally as importantly, oil prices would have been at $40 a barrel instead of $110 a barrel. So he wouldn’t have been able to afford going in. He actually is the only nation that made money, because oil has been driven up so high by stupid people like Biden.

Just to that key question though, Mr. President, do you think that our security, the United States’ security, is linked to Ukraine’s security?

[TRUMP:] I think that Europe has to do more. We’re in for $200 billion. They’re in for $25 billion. And it affects them more than it affects us. It certainly affects them much more than it affects us.

I don’t know if Trump is asking for my vote here, exactly, but he’s certainly adjacent to it.

“Jack Smith goes too far in trying to gag Donald Trump” [Jonathan Turley, New York Post]. “[The words] ‘a narrowly tailored order that imposes modest, permissible restrictions’ were used by Special Counsel Jack Smith to propose a gag order that would sharply curtail the ability of former President Donald Trump to criticize Smith and his prosecution. The Smith motion is anything but ‘narrowly tailored.’ … ‘The motion states that Trump’s ‘recent extrajudicial statements are intended to undermine public confidence in an institution — the judicial system — and to undermine confidence in and intimidate individuals — the Court, the jury pool, witnesses, and prosecutors.’” The jury pool is the general public. Is Trump really not to be permitted to address the general public when he’s running for office? More: “One of the top issues in this presidential campaign is Trump’s insistence that the Justice Department and the criminal justice system have been weaponized by Democrats. He was running on that issue even before the four separate criminal cases were filed against him in Florida, Georgia, New York, and Washington, D.C. More importantly, it is an issue that is resonating with tens of millions of Americans.  One poll showed 62% of the public viewed the prosecutions as ‘politically motivated.’  Another poll shows that 65% still view the prosecutions as ‘serious.’” • So the general public is taking a quite sensible view.

* * *
“DeSantis Seeks Cash From Texas Donors as His Campaign Faces Upheaval” [Bloomberg]. “Texas could prove to be a gold mine for DeSantis’s political operation, which needs to bring in new donors to challenge Trump, the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Its energy-dependent economy would benefit from DeSantis’s plans to expand domestic fossil fuel production. As a bonus, his campaign finance director, Lauren Lofstrom, is a Texan…. The fundraising blitz comes at a critical time for the campaign that had been burning through cash at an unsustainable rate over the summer and has faced a steady drop in the polls. To combat these problems, DeSantis fired roughly a third of his staff, replaced his campaign manager and focused most of his time in Iowa. To keep the slimmed-down operation afloat, DeSantis needs more money…. The Texas trip comes roughly four months before early voting starts in the Iowa caucuses, where DeSantis allies and advisers acknowledge the Florida governor must perform well in order to stay competitive in the GOP primary. Trump, who has been indicted four times, leads him by an average of 43.9 points in national polls, according to RealClearPolitics.” • The press has it in for DeSantis so bad, you almost feel sorry for the scrappy little dude. Almost.

* * *
“Three reasons Biden’s problems appear to be overblown” [Harry Enten, CNN]. “But while Biden clearly has problems – no president with an approval rating hovering around 40% is in good shape – some of his issues appear to be overblown at this time. Here are three reasons why… 1. Biden’s going to win the Democratic primary, unless something drastic [***cough***] happens… 2. The impeachment inquiry isn’t damaging Biden … yet…. While the vast majority of independents disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president (64%) in our latest CNN poll, only 39% think he did something illegal. An election about a potentially unpopular impeachment would be better for Biden than one about an issue that really hurts him (such as voters seeing him as too old)…. 3. Voters don’t like the state of the economy; it may not matter that much…. Believe it or not, fewer Americans say the economy is the top problem facing the country now (31%) than they have in either the median (40%) or average (45%) presidential election since 1988…. After all, there’s a reason why Democrats have consistently outperformed the 2020 presidential baseline in special elections this year. If things were really that bad for Biden and the Democrats, they’d most likely be losing elections all over the country. That simply isn’t happening at this point.” • That special elections link is interesting, because it shows Democrats doing very well in PA, a swing state.

“Three reasons Biden is struggling with Black and Latino voters” [Vox]. “But there is value in looking at the polls because they reveal something else: At this point in the campaign, it’s unarguable that Democrats, especially Biden, are facing a problem with voters of color. And that weaker standing with Black and Latino voters specifically seems to be fueling those tight national polling numbers. That lower level of support for Biden is distinct from previous election cycles. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn, who has been tracking this for some time, analyzed last year and this year’s New York Times/Siena polls of over 1,500 nonwhite respondents. He reports that Biden leads Trump 53 percent to 28 percent among registered nonwhite voters — a sharp drop off from the 70 percent support Biden garnered from voters of color in the 2020 election. Those numbers aren’t exclusive to the Times, either, but show up across surveys. That’s a much worse position than a Democratic candidate has been in for the last few election cycles. Whether this is a new problem or not is debatable (as I’ve written before, some Democratic operatives don’t want to concede they have a real problem with nonwhite voters). The causes for this weaker level of support are also up for debate: Some, like the liberal researcher and writer Ruy Teixeira, argue that progressive cultural politics are largely to blame, while other Democratic operatives argue this is a problem with messaging). But the trends in polls over the last year are all pointing at something, even if people disagree on the specific numbers at the margins.” • Teixeira now works for AEI ffs. But worth a read.

“Americans Can Barely Afford Homes — and That’s a Problem for Biden” [Bloomberg]. “Record-low US housing affordability is squeezing homebuyers and renters while threatening to spill into presidential politics… Milwaukee, the largest city in key swing state Wisconsin, saw affordability deteriorate in its rental market more than almost any US metro area in the year ended July, according to a measure by the National Association of Realtors. The region also recorded one of the greatest increases in mortgage burden among the biggest 50 metros in the past year, data from Zillow show…. Philadelphia, another major population center in a closely fought battleground state, is also among the US metros with the largest increases in mortgage burdens last year, according to Zillow data.”

* * *
“Tim Scott: I’m dating a ‘lovely Christian girl’” [The Hill]. • Is she from Canada?

* * *
“He Was a Hillary Clinton Cheerleader. Now He Calls Democrats a Threat” [New York Times]. Interesting piece on Peter Daou (who, with his Verrit platform, seems to have anticipated the Censorship Industrial Complex, even if the effort came to nothing). Daou:

Look at the suffering created by the system and fight the system. Don’t get attached to one politician or one party. I find the idea of anarchist philosophy, along the lines of David Graeber, quite intriguing: You know, no power dynamics, no coercion, a structure in which in which we all cooperate, and there’s true equality, right?

In the end, what Dr. West is doing, this is the way you do it: . And that’s what we’re going to be doing to the very last day. He will be on the ballot. And this is not going to be some sort of process in which, you know, “”Down the line, well, maybe not, if this is going to bring on a Republican.””

We are working to get on the ballot. In the general election, there are going to be at least three choices, and he will be one of them.

* * *
“Another Whitmer Fednapping Case Goes Boom” [Declassified with Julie Kelly]. “In another blow to the FBI’s concocted plot to kidnap and assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, a jury in Antrim County today acquitted three men indicted on state charges for their alleged role in the scheme…. The verdicts represent the second time a jury has acquitted individuals charged in the FBI-orchestrated plot. In April 2022, a Grand Rapids jury acquitted Daniel Harris, Jr. and Brandon Caserta on federal kidnapping and weapons charges. The jury hung on the remaining defendants, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, Jr.; both were convicted after a second trial in August 2022. (Two co-defendants pleaded guilty and testified for the government at both trials.) During the course of the federal proceedings, defense attorneys uncovered an elaborate entrapment scheme that involved dozens of FBI informants, supervising agents, and undercover employees.” • Whitmer’s not on my Presidential radar at all, or even my Vice-Presidential radar, but she’s certainly spook-adjacent, so perhaps she’ll move up on the charts.

* * *
“Analysis: Senate tilting red, House blue for 2024” [Axios]. “The possibility of a split congressional decision in 2024, with the Senate flipping to Republicans and the House turning over to Democrats, is looking increasingly likely….  To win back control of the Senate, Republicans only need to net two seats (one if the GOP presidential nominee prevails)…. But House Republicans are in an equally precarious position. To win back control of the House, Democrats only need to flip a net five seats…. There are only five senators representing states carried by the opposing party’s presidential candidate. Of those, the only ones up for re-election in 2024 are [ West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, Montana’s Jon Tester and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown]. There are currently only 23 lawmakers (18 Republicans, 5 Democrats) representing House districts carried by the presidential candidate from the opposite party. That means House Republicans face a whole lot more exposure than Democrats unless their swing-district members can create ample distance from their party’s leadership.

“Dems inch toward House majority with recent court wins” [Politico]. “The fundamentals of the 2024 campaign are still taking shape, but one thing is already clear: A flurry of court actions might cost Republicans the House majority. In the past nine days, state and federal judges threw out two congressional maps — and helped Democrats avoid a worst-case scenario in Ohio — kicking off an unusually busy redistricting calendar heading into the election year. All told, a dozen or more seats across at least six states could be redrawn, increasing the likelihood Democrats could chip away the five-seat GOP House majority through redistricting alone. Democrats could pick up an extra seat in each of a handful of states, including Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, and perhaps several more in New York. Republicans could still pick up as many as four seats in North Carolina, but the recent rulings put Democrats in a position to offset those losses — and then some. Redistricting could not only give Democrats a slight edge in their bid to reclaim the majority they lost in 2022 but also increase the number of Black members in their conference.” • Hopefully reactionaries from the Black Misleadership Class!

* * *
“Biden weighed by economic concerns, age in potential 2024 rematch with Trump, Reuters/Ipsos poll shows” [Reuters]. “But in a worrisome result for Biden, . In those states, Trump led with 41% to Biden’s 35%, and 24% undecided. The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online nationwide from Sept. 8 through Sept. 14, gathering responses from 4,413 U.S. adults. It had a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of about 2 percentage points.” • I’d put in the 270toWin map, but it was last updated July 28. Swing states were in play then, too.

IA: “A local struggle over carbon pipelines in Iowa is becoming a 2024 presidential flashpoint” [NBC]. “Republican presidential hopefuls hitting the trail in Iowa are being peppered with questions about abortion, social issues and government spending — and also carbon dioxide pipelines and eminent domain. The questions stem from efforts by three companies — Summit Carbon Solutions, Navigator CO₂ Ventures and Wolf Carbon Solutions — that propose a series of underground pipelines to move carbon dioxide emitted from ethanol and other industrial plants in Iowa to either North Dakota or Illinois. But many landowners are not interested in the idea, which has led Navigator to seek permission in Iowa to use eminent domain, which allows the government to seize private land for public projects, The Gazette newspaper of Cedar Rapids reported in March. It has residents in small Iowa towns like Nevada and Glenwood in an uproar — and it has become the latest local political issue in one of the influential early-voting states to turn into a venue for presidential politics. Ahead of 2024, the pipeline issue is forcing GOP candidates to strike a delicate balance among protecting landowners’ rights, supporting the ethanol industry and demonstrating an understanding of the critical role agriculture plays statewide.”

Republican Funhouse

“Too Hot For the Heritage Foundation!” [Politico]. “Avik Roy, a longtime fixture in Republican policy-wonk circles, made a splash this summer when he organized a manifesto pushing back on the nationalist, market-skeptical tendencies on the new, Trump-era right. The document, signed by Jeb Bush, Grover Norquist, George Will, and a couple hundred other conservative worthies, generated a decent amount of inside-the-Beltway buzz when it launched in July. It wasn’t just that Freedom Conservatism: A Statement of Principles highlighted a family feud within the movement. It was the very fact that its pieties about the majesty of capitalism were even controversial — an indication of just how far conservative economic theology had drifted.” So apparently there are “NatCons” and “FreeCons” (at least in the Beltway). I think I have to read Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind to get a grip on all this. (Robin’s site is broken. Can anyone tell him?) More: “‘It’s like we’re back in City College in 1938 with Alcove 1 and Alcove 2 and the Trotskyites and the Stalinists,’ mused Tevi Troy, a veteran of Beltway conservative policy debates and someone who has written thoughtfully on the meaning of think tanks themselves. It was a time and place of rather different politics, but a similar sense of peril — and a similar fetish for manifestos.” • Indeed!

“Grumbles Left and Right: Two Books on the Past and Future of Conservatism” [Wall Street Journal]. “One prevalent line of thought runs something like this. The post-World War II conservative coalition’s stress on the free market and individual liberty made sense during the Cold War, when Soviet totalitarianism threatened the West and tempted its intellectuals to embrace Marxian centralization, but what’s needed now is cultural and economic solidarity. This critique, popular among some self-described ‘national conservatives,’ overestimates the good and underestimates the harm government planning can bring about. Still, it isn’t an unreasonable argument. R.R. Reno’s ‘Return of the Strong Gods’ (2019) is an eloquent expression of it. But a number of vocal ‘nat cons,’ as they’re called, takes the complaint further. Not only is the Cold War-era conservative’s defense of markets and individualism no longer needed, they contend; 20th-century conservatives who promoted economic and personal liberty weren’t conservatives at all but ‘right-wing liberals.’ Deliberately or not, these ‘conservatives’—nat cons are liberal users of ironic quotation marks—did their part to foster the moral anarchy of present-day America and over time divested conservatism of whatever authority it might have used to stop the bedlam.” • “National Conservatives.” I dunno. Are we saying the bad part about the National Socialsts was the Socialist part? (not that the socialist part was real; just chameleon-like protective coloration).

Obama Legacy

“Where Did the Carter White House’s Solar Panels Go?” [Scientific American]. From 2010, and a fine example of how the press covered for Obama. Carter put the panels up. Reagan took the panels down. Somehow, the panels ended up at Unity College in Maine. That far, the story gets. What the story omits is that several Unity College students, fairly early in the Obama administrationk, drove the panels down to the White House and tried to give them back, assuming — as perhaps an idealistic young person of that time would — that Obama would accept them with gratitude (and some clever West Wing type would reap the PR benefits and stomp on Reagan, as Reagan so richly deserved). Well… They didn’t get to meet with Obama, and they didn’t get to hand off the panels. However, they met with a staffer, who gave them some brochures! (Too lazy to find the links, but I wrote it up at the time).

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

* * *
“The Left Can’t Stop Wondering Where Bill Clinton Went Wrong. The Answer Explains a Lot” [Slate]. “The creation of a permanent and engaged New Deal–style coalition that could win decisive legislative majorities and pass progressive policy in the 1990s would have required a potent and engaged labor movement. Yet Lichtenstein and Stein [in A Fabulous Failure] depict a rising politician undermining progressive allies, selling out unions, and largely acceding to corporate interests. The authors allude to young Clinton’s deeply held “”progressive”” sensibilities and determination to enact reform “”from within.”” But how committed was Clinton to the cause of working people when his first date with his future wife, in 1971, involved crossing a picket line at Yale? Lichtenstein and Stein never quite square this circle.” From the concluding paragraph: “This impressive survey of a leader’s (somewhat) good intentions led astray by structural forces, personal failings, and a hefty dose of realpolitik might have led Lichtenstein and Stein to address larger questions about the deleterious impact of inequality on civil society and the basic contradictions between democracy and capitalism.” • Pretty radical for Slate (!). Worth reading in full just to remind ourselves how horrid Clinton was.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Hat tips to helpful readers: 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, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

“Understanding The Cochrane Mask RCT Review” [Pandemic Accountability Index]. Good clean fun. “Anyone citing this Cochrane “gold standard” review is either unable to read & think critically, or simply doesn’t care & is using the Cochrane name – one they never heard of or cared about previous to 2023 – to mislead you, their audience, and/or the general public to think that there is not effective protection from a deadly & disabling airborne virus. The entire field of PPE engineering disproves this absurd claim – and you don’t see PPE engineers showing up at hospitals to tell oncologists like Prasad how to do their job. If you find yourself trusting dishonest, manipulative cranks like Jefferson or Vinay Prasad, bankrolled by racist billionaires like Jeffrey Tucker, then maybe ‘the science’ isn’t wrong – and you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror about how you were so easily deceived by these pitiful charlatans.” • NOTE: This post gets that “Carl Heneghan is a hidden co-author.” But it misses that an unlisted co-author violates Cochrane’s explicit standards, as I show here. And Cochrane let the authors get away with it.

Covid is Airborne

As Nipah may be:

“Nipah virus: India’s Kerala state moves quickly to control fresh outbreak” [BMJ]. “The Indian state of Kerala has closed schools, offices, and public transport in the Kozhikode district in response to a re-emergence of the potentially deadly Nipah virus. The decision on 13 September was made as a precaution against the spread of the virus, which has seen two deaths and six confirmed cases so far.” • A precaution! What a concept!

“Nipah virus is spread by airborne cough droplets” [Australian Veterinary Journal]. From 1999, still germane. “Australian researchers have found that the newly discovered Nipah virus, which recently killed more than 100 people in Malaysia, can be spread by airborne droplets from infected pigs…. CSIRO researcher, Dr. Deborah Middleton, told the conference the virus is present in nasal mucous and saliva of infected pigs. ‘Our research into transmission of the virus shows that farm workers who became ill may have breathed-in or ingested fine particles coughed up by Nipah infected pigs. This result is important – as it tells us that people involved in any future outbreaks should wear breathing masks to avoid infections,’ she said.”

“The Use of Large-Particle Aerosol Exposure to Nipah Virus to Mimic Human Neurological Disease Manifestations in the African Green Monkey” [Journal of Infectious Diseases]. “To develop a neurological model for NiV infection, we exposed 6 adult African green monkeys to a large-particle (approximately 12 μm) aerosol containing NiV (Malaysian isolate)….Four of six animals showed abnormalities reminiscent of human disease in brain magnetic resonance images.” • Not epidemiology, not dispositive, but opens the possibility.

“Aerosol Survival, Disinfection and Formalin Inactivation of Nipah Virus” [Viruses]. “As NiV can spread from person-to-person and it can be found in respiratory secretions, data on the survival characteristics of NiV in aerosols are needed to contribute to the understanding of the potential role of the aerosolised virus in transmission… In this paper, we present novel data on the survival of NiV in small particle aerosols and demonstrate the efficacy of bleach and alcohol-based disinfection through the testing of reduction in NiV titre after short contact times with a range of concentrations of sodium hypochlorite and ethanol.” • Ditto.

Elite Maleficence

“The CDC wants your trust back: It’ll ‘take time to rebuild.’” [Politico]. Presumably that’s why Mandy’s not masking, and why ventilation is never mentioned, and why Biden’s vaccination without mitigation policy is still in force. “[CDC Director Mandy] Cohen will personally make the case in the coming weeks traveling across the country, including places with high uninsured rates to tout the administration’s Bridge Access Program, which provides Covid-19 vaccines for uninsured people…. ‘I want to make sure folks know, particularly in Florida, that vaccination remains a safe way in terms of protecting against severe disease, hospitalization and death,’ she said. ‘It’s important for Americans to get these shots.’” I’m so old I remember when the message was that vaccines protected you against tranmission! More: “‘She talked about how we need to be transparent with decision making, and we need to be transparent with our data,’ said Tao Kwan-Gett, Washington state’s chief science officer.” • What data? Oh, and the Green Map is still up. At least Walensky could plead ignorance. Not so Mandy.

* * *
Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, September 18:

Lambert here: The national drop is due exclusively to the South. Other signals — scattered and partial though they be — also converge on a drop: ER visits, positivity. We shall see. (I would include CDC’s wastewater map for comparison, but it’s eleven days old.)

Regional data:

The same regional variation also appears in the Walgreen’s positivity data. Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 16:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). Still BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.

From CDC, September 2:

Lambert here: Not sure what to make of this. I’m used to seeing a new variant take down the previously dominant variant. Here it looks like we have a “tag team,” all working together to cut XBB.1.5 down to size. I sure hope the volunteers doing Pangolin, on which this chart depends, don’t all move on the green fields and pastures new (or have their access to facilities cut by administrators of ill intent).

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

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, September 9:

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


Bellwether New York City, data as of September 16:

A slight drop. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 9:

Note the slight drop, consistent with Walgreens. At least now we now that hospitalization tracks positivity, which is nice. Even if we don’t know how many cases there are.


From Walgreens, September 18:

-8.3%. An enormous drop (so not Labor Day data). However, I cannot recall seeing the map so polarized; so much deep green, so much deep red. The absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

NOT UPDATED Cleveland Clinic, September 9:

Lambert here: I know this is just Ohio, but the Cleveland Clinic is good*, and we’re starved for data, so…. NOTE * Even if hospital infection control is trying to kill patients by eliminating universal masking with N95s.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, August 26:

A drop! And here are the variants:

No BA.2.86 for two of the long-delayed collection weeks. I have highlighted the two leaders: EG.5 and FL.1.5.1. Interestingly, those are the two leaders within the United States also, suggesting the national and international bouillabaisse is similar. Or we’re infecting the world.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 13:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Conditions-Contributing-to-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Stat/hk9y-quqm. This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?

Total: 1,175,172 – 1,175,152 = 20 (20 * 365 = 7,300 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

Excess Deaths

The Economist, September 17:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily again. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

* * *
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 51 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 18 at 1:59:42 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

Class Warfare

“A UAW Strike Made in Washington” [Wall Street Journal]. “In many ways, this strike is made in Washington because of the Biden Administration’s policy mandating a rapid transition to electric vehicles. The UAW knows that EVs require fewer workers to make and will jeopardize union jobs making gas-powered cars. But the companies already lose money on EVs and worry about making too many concessions to the UAW that will cause them to lose even more as they are forced to build more EVs.”

“Can the UAW Transform America Again?” [The New Republic]. “The Biden administration recently granted preference to union shops on a $15 billion package of loans and funding for E.V. conversion, but it did not require union shops. The UAW wants Biden to require them, and it’s withholding a 2024 endorsement from him to exert pressure. It isn’t clear Biden has the legal authority to do so. On the other hand, he has a reputation to defend as a friend to labor—a reputation he can’t afford to compromise heading into his 2024 reelection campaign.” Yes, the railroad workers didn’t threaten to strike close enough to the election, so the Democrats threw them under the train. More: “This strike will apply at least as much pressure on Biden to bend as it does on the Big Three auto companies. That’s asking a lot, and perhaps too much, of the most pro-labor president since Harry Truman. It may not work. Still, it’s glorious to see an American labor leader thinking big again.”

“Fetterman joins striking UAW workers in Michigan” [Axios]. “Fetterman’s show of solidarity comes a day after President Biden said he is dispatching Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and adviser Gene Sperling to Detroit to help reach a settlement to the walkout that began at midnight Friday.”

News of the Wired

“Your Brain Is Not an Onion With a Tiny Reptile Inside” [Current Directions in Psychological Science]. “The purpose of this article is to clarify a widespread misconception in psychological science regarding nervous-system evolution. Many psychologists believe that as new vertebrate species arose, evolutionarily newer complex brain structures were laid on top of evolutionarily older simpler structures; that is, that an older core dealing with emotions and instinctive behaviors (the “”reptilian brain”” consisting of the basal ganglia and limbic system) lies within a newer brain capable of language, action planning, and so on. The important features of this model, often called the triune-brain theory, are that (a) newer components are literally layered outside of older components as new species emerge, and (b) these newer structures are associated with complex psychological functions we reserve for humans or, if we are feeling generous, for other primates and social mammals…. The correct view of evolution is that animals radiated from common ancestors… Within these radiations, complex nervous systems and sophisticated cognitive abilities evolved independently many times. For example, cephalopod mollusks, such as octopus and cuttlefish, possess tremendously complex nervous systems and behavior, and the same is true of some insects and other arthropods. Even among nonmammalian vertebrates, brain complexity has increased independently several times, particularly among some sharks, teleost fishes, and birds. Along with this misunderstanding comes the incorrect belief that adding complex neural structures allows increased behavioral complexity—that structural complexity endows functional complexity.” • Fascinating!

* * *
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 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 KW:

KW writes: “Cherokee ‘Lake’-Yahara River Flowage, July 22, 2022. We watched this ‘island’ float toward us from somewhere near the distant shore on a windy Summer day. The Sun was in our eyes so we couldn’t tell what it was. After 45 minutes or so, ‘they’ arrived, and now, a year later, thriving, looking like they have been there forever. Cat tails featured, among others. The marsh is reclaiming this place. Here’s a closer view of the ‘soil.’”


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