Home Economy 2:00PM Water Cooler 7/14/2023 | naked capitalism

2:00PM Water Cooler 7/14/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Happy Bastille Day! –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Pink-breasted Lark, near Lembeni, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. “Recordist’s Notes: Song of two birds from the ground.”

* * *


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

Biden Administration

“Biden trips on Air Force One stairs again after ‘watch your step’ sign added” [Independent]. “‘About half way up he appeared to stumble very slightly but kept walking on up. He turned to wave to the staff out on the tarmac and went in,’ a pool report noted. The president’s latest slip came days after a sign reading ‘watch your step’ was placed on the stairs leading up to Air Force One as he arrived at Stansted Airport in the United Kingdom on Sunday.”


Time for the Countdown Clock!

* * *

“Why Trump Gets Underestimated” [Rich Lowry, Politico]. “[Trump is] in a strong position to win a major party’s presidential nomination for the third consecutive time, something that hasn’t been done since Roosevelt won the Democratic nod four times in a row from 1932 to 1944…. The Occam’s razor explanation for Trump’s continued strength is that he’s a good politician, more so than is commonly recognized… Beneath all the Trumpian qualities, there’s a politician with many of the traditional attributes long cultivated and prized by candidates and officeholders…. Since time immemorial, and certainly since the rise of the era of mass media, it has mattered whether a politician has personal magnetism and can draw attention…. Compared to other politicians, Trump is a little like how Eddie Murphy described Elvis Presley, whom Murphy admires for his sheer ‘presence.’ As Murphy put it, ‘When Elvis walked into a room, Elvis Presley was in the fucking room.’” And: “On top of this, Trump is a people person, whose endless appetite for talk makes most extroverts seem reserved by comparison…. Not only that, as a long-time club owner, hosting and entertaining people is a professional obligation; he’s perfectly capable of being gracious when he wants to. This means he has the good politician’s knack for putting someone at ease and making it seem they matter to him, before getting to the main event — Trump himself, of course, and whatever he might want…. Finally, authenticity is the coin of the realm in politics. Trump is canny, but not overtly calculating. Nearly unadvisable, which his lawyers have learned to their regret, Trump has a free and easy quality. He’ll say whatever he wants, especially about his opponent…. .” • Or a way that was once standard. Compare this to, say, Buttigieg or, heaven forfend, Harris.

* * *

“Three Things To Watch This Summer That Could Impact The GOP Primary Race” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “[S]ome Republican strategists I’ve spoken with argue that the weight of Trump’s legal troubles is taking an unseen toll. Republicans are rallying behind Trump because they see him being unfairly attacked. But, defending him is different from voting for him. Many of these GOP voters are weary of the chaos and the drama that engulfs the former president. And, .” Note lack of agency in “get.” Lawfare…. And: “Trump has every reason to be a no-show [at ]. No front-running candidate wants to give their lower-polling challengers an opportunity to attack and/or embarrass them. DeSantis’ situation, however, is a bit more complicated. Without Trump on stage, DeSantis is the obvious target for the lower polling contenders. Everyone there wants to dethrone DeSantis from his second-place perch. Why give them the chance to do that? At the same time, with his support slipping among voters, the donor class and even Rupert Murdoch, DeSantis needs to prove he deserves to be seen as the most likely successor to Trump. He has to prove that he can both take a punch, and throw them too. It’s hard to understate the importance of these debates for DeSantis.” And: “The Hawkeye State has been notoriously bad at picking the GOP nominee. The last winner of a GOP caucus to go on to win the nomination was George W. Bush in 2000. However, Trump’s rivals understand that if Trump wins here, it may be impossible to stop his roll to the nomination. This is why you are seeing most of the GOP field camped out in the state…. That’s why we are all waiting with bated breath for , the gold standard survey conducted by Ann Selzer for the Des Moines Register, to be released. The last Iowa Poll, conducted in March, didn’t include any horse-race matchups, but it did show Trump’s overall approval rating among GOP voters in the state slipping. If history is any guide, we will likely see an Iowa poll drop in late August or Labor Day. This will be our first chance to check in on whether all the money and attention that candidates like DeSantis and Scott have put into Iowa have moved numbers or if it shows Trump’s staying power to be as sturdy as ever.”

* * *

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. press dinner explodes in war of words and farting” [New York Post]. “Here, it seems, [apparently drunk gossip columnist-turned-flack Doug Dechert, the host of the event], sensed the need for a new rhetorical tack, and let rip a loud, prolonged fart while yelling, as if to underscore his point, ‘I’m farting!’ The room, which included a handful of journalists as well as Kennedy’s campaign manager, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, was stunned, seemingly unsure about whether Dechert was farting at Haden-Guest personally or at the very notion of global warming. (Regrettably, we may assure readers that there was no room for doubt that the climate changed in the immediate environs of the dinner table.) The candidate maintained a steady composure in the face of the crisis.” • The lead is “Camelot it ain’t.” The entire event, and the story, says a lot about New York celebrities and press culture. It says nothing at all about Kennedy, which is why the lead — “Camelot it ain’t” — is deceptive. New York Magazine doesn’t cover itself with glory either, rewriting and embellishing the Post story, and concluding: “Someday this will be the only thing anyone remembers about RFK Jr.’s presidential candidacy.” Well, perhaps not.

“Leaked audio of Marianne Williamson volunteer staff call reveals a bleak state of her campaign” [Politico]. “Longshot Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson privately warned volunteers that her campaign was desperate for cash and that she did not have the personal funds to keep it going at its current state. ‘I have put my own money in, and I don’t have the money to continue putting it in at the level I have,’ Williamson said in a Zoom call for campaign volunteers obtained by POLITICO. ‘Cause remember I’m not making a living while I’m doing this.’ A best-selling author and spiritual guru, Williamson blamed several factors for the current financial status of her campaign. Among them, she alleged, were the press’ focus on internal turmoil and a concerted effort by her political opponents to sabotage her operations. She agreed with a volunteer on the Zoom who said that ‘DNC insiders’ and efforts from the Democratic Party are determined to ‘undermine her campaign.’ Williamson said she discussed the theory ‘quite a bit’ with her campaign manager Carlos Cardona. ‘It is shocking to us too,’ she said. ‘It really makes you wonder. I’ve never seen anything like this. And it does make you wonder…. politics is dirty.’ .” • Which they absolutely would do; they can talk themselves into anything. (Odd that Williamsonson has millions of TikTok viewers but can’t monetize them. Maybe she should hire, if sh e can, the person who ran Fetterman’s brilliant social media campaign.)

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 Case for Cornel West 2024 Is Extremely Weak” [Eric Levitz, New York Magazine]. “Under Biden, meanwhile, Democrats enacted a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill on a party-line vote. These measures collectively reduced poverty in the U.S. and triggered one of the fastest labor-market recoveries in history. Biden’s prioritization of full employment has yielded tight labor markets that increase the bargaining power of low-wage workers and abet union organizing. As a result, lower-income workers have recovered roughly 25 percent of the increase in wage inequality that accrued between Ronald Reagan’s election and Biden’s. The employment rate among disabled Americans, meanwhile, is at a record high.” • I’m a little amazed that Levitz, normally a pretty sharp cookie, overlooked, in his zeal to defend Biden, perhaps the central fact of today’s labor market: The million deaths from Covid (mostly on Biden’s watch), and more millions suffering from Long Covid. Of course the labor market is tight!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Crisis Over American Manhood Is Really Code for Something Else” [Politico]. “Before Hawley, masculinist philosophers tended to locate the calamity of manhood among the overly refined, the gentlemen in their hard collars and high hats. These pretty boys, they believed, desperately needed time on horseback or football fields to put hair on their chests. These days, elites like Hawley see a crisis among the proletariat. It’s an unexpected flip-flop, as workers and farmers, whom Hawley now faults for a lack of virility, were once the honest, plain-talking family men whose manliness was held up as exemplary to neurotic snobs. Why doesn’t Hawley take his pitch to elites? He didn’t respond to a request for an interview on the topic, but perhaps it’s because men without college educations are much more imperiled by mental illness, addiction and suicidality than college-educated men. They’re less contented. They’re less employed. And, for Hawley, that means they’re a riper political target — more easily sold on far-right memes and ‘woke’-bashing flexes as a way to cure what ails them.” And: “What do men want? After the conference ended and I finished reading Manhood, men remained an enigma. That old riddle deepens with the revelation, in Townsend’s book, that the word ‘masculinity’ was only coined in 1890, and that, before that, ‘manhood’ meant something like ‘humanity.’ Being virtuous (from ‘vir,’ meaning man) meant simply being humane. Perhaps masculine virtues like courage, honesty, and respect are just … virtues.” • According to my OED, masculinity (from French masculinité) dates from M18, the middle of the 18th Century. Meanwhile:


“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!

* * *

Censorship and Propaganda

I’m not sure if this is a general problem or not:

Can any readers who still have a Facebook account run a search on “Covid”? Meanwhile, here’s Threads:

(On the iPad, showing how Zuck was too lazy and greedy to make an iOS version.) That’s the result of a search for Covid. True, Threads, even though I reset my VPN from Singapore to the US, still gives me Singapore results, thereby proving that Meta censors results on behalf of governments, no doubt including our own.


“Determinants of the Onset and Prognosis of the Post-COVID-19 Condition: A 2-Year Prospective Cohort Study” (preprint) [The Lancet]. Another major study from last week, albeit a preprint. N = 548. From the Abstract: “At least 5-10% of subjects surviving COVID-19 develop the post-COVID-19 condition (PCC) or “Long COVID”. The clinical presentation of PCC is heterogeneous, its pathogenesis is being deciphered, and objective, validated biomarkers are lacking. It is unknown if PCC is a single entity or a heterogeneous syndrome with overlapping pathophysiological basis. In a large crossectional evaluation, the RECOVER study in the US identified four clusters of subjects with PCC according to their presenting symptoms. The long-term clinical implications of PCC remain unknown… Preexisting medical and socioeconomic factors, as well as acute COVID-19 symptoms, predict the development of and recovery from the PCC. Recovery is extremely rare during the first 2 years, .” • There’s only a major challenge if you believe Long Covid sufferers would get care. But why would you believe that?

“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

* * *

Elite Maleficence

Touching the way Jha has Wachter’s back:

Note the subtle minimization of “respiratory illnesses.” Covid may present as respiratory, but it is also a vascular and neurological disease, including Long Covid (not rationally classifiable as “respiratory” to the slightest degree). These people are so good at what they do….

The Jackpot

“A paradigm shift away from condoms: Focusing STI prevention on evidence-based interventions” [Journal of the American Academy of Physicians Assistants]. “Over the past few decades, evolving and diverse sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention methods—methods significantly more effective than barrier protection—have caused a paradigm shift away from the traditional, limited, blanket recommendation to use condoms. Although condoms provide a barrier to body fluid-based STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV, condom use is limited and often misunderstood, and counseling patients to use barriers may be ineffective.” And:

Rather than focusing on condom use, clinicians can improve patient sexual health by following CDC guidelines to:

  • perform routine, opt-out HIV testing for all people in all healthcare settings
  • discuss PrEP with all sexually active patients regardless of age, relationship status or structure, number of sexual partners, or barrier protection use
  • screen for gonorrhea and chlamydia infections of the pharynx, genitals, and rectum at the site(s) of exposure, regardless of signs or symptoms
  • strictly follow guidelines for bacterial STI treatment, especially oral gonorrhea.

I’m gonna have to put my waders and look at CDC and STIs, to see who else they’re infecting and killing [bangs head on desk]. Commentary:

Condoms are a simple and well-engineered solution that variants can’t defeat. Why on earthy would we believe that PrEP and “bacterial STI treatment” will function for the forseeable future?

* * *

Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, July 13:

Lambert here: Still on the upswing.

Regional data:

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.

Regional variant data:

Whatever the cause of the uptick in the Northeast, it’s not EG.5 (the orange pie slice), which seems evenly distributed.



Lambert here: EG.5 moving like a bat out of hell, showing unactionable nature (uselessness) of these CDC two-week-lag charts (here, and in positivity, too). They’re not even performative!

From CDC, June 24:

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, July 8:

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.


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, July 10:

5.7%. Going vertical, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater.

From CDC, June 26:

Lambert here: This is the CDC’s “Traveler-Based Genomic Surveillance” data. They say “maps,” but I don’t see one….


Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, July 14:

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: 1,168,610 – 1,168,5581,168,414 = 52 (52 * 365 = 18,980 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, July 12:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

* * *

Tech: “Various conservative grievances and hyperfixations” [Garbage Day]. “Musk bought Twitter because he believed it would grant him some kind of cultural legitimacy. He’s spoken openly about the social network’s influence on politics and media and how he still hopes to turn it into a central feed for human discourse that we can all use while working as debt slaves in his mines on Mars, or whatever. And Musk, like all good conmen, has proceeded to turn around and try and sell that supposed legitimacy downstream to users, as well as figures like Carlson or, more recently, MrBeast, who Musk has been begging to post directly to the platform. But now Threads, with its hundred million users, packed full of brands and real, or real-ish, celebrities, has pretty effortlessly revealed exactly how small and, most importantly, niche Twitter is these days. And I don’t think it’s going to take too long for not just media figures like Carlson, but also paying Twitter Blue subscribers, to realize that they’re spending all of their time and energy posting on some weird guy’s website.” • I just checked my Threads feeds and its just as horrid as you would expect: Some media properties where management said “We’ve got to be there!” and then miles and miles of Instagram dreck, and nothing in between. And I can’t curate my feed to make the badness go away, because Zuck needs to control the algo. So much of the reporting on this is driven by personal animus against Musk. And why? Because he took the Censorship Industrial Complex’s play-toy away from them. Liberal Democrats hate it when that happens.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 80 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 14 at 1:35 PM ET.

Class Warfare

Something to look forward to:

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

* * *

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 CH:

CH writes: “Unidentified shelf fungus on mature mulberry tree, Minneapolis.”

* * *

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