2:00PM Water Cooler 11/13/2023 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I apologize if this seems a bit thin. I had a bad case of the slows, and now I must go deal with household matters. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Wood Thrush, Parc du Sanctuaire, Drummond, Quebec, Canada. “a-a-iola tzzziiii, a-a-ioli tzzziiii, a-a-iola tzzziiii”. Reads like Joyce. Mrkgnao!

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

Biden Administration

“Great Moments In The International Rules-Based Order” [Eschaton]. Skipping Sullivan’s doublethinking doubletalk and going straight to Atrios: “This isn’t a defense of Russia. It just isn’t my job to pretend these people don’t just make up whatever happens to be convenient at the moment, and pretend it’s operating according to some noble moral and legal framework. Not the important thing, but there’s this thing about these overcredentialed eggheads genuinely thinking people can’t see what they’re doing. And, since they own the microphones, will misrepresent your criticisms and get away with it.” • It has occurred to me that “Our Democracy” is a lot like “The Rules-Based International Order.” This trope remains evergreen:

“The West Must Defeat Russia” [Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic]. “We need to start thinking not just about helping Ukraine, but about defeating Russia—or, if you prefer different language, persuading Russia to leave by any means possible.” • The plain meaning of “by any means possible” includes nuclear weapons.

“A Bitter Vindication for Ukraine Doves” [Branko Marcetic, Compact]. “Through it all, proponents of peace and restraint and many military experts stressed that an outright Ukrainian victory was highly unlikely, given the imbalance of military power between the two states and Russia’s stark advantages in a war of attrition…. For their efforts, pro-peace and pro-restraint voices were viciously attacked. They were slammed with scurrilous accusations of carrying water for the Kremlin, smeared as propagandists and traitors, charged with secretly supporting Putin’s war, and labeled appeasers no better than Neville Chamberlain in ‘rewarding’ a Hitler-like aggressor. Just recall the hailstorm of invective that rained down upon the group of House progressives who last October issued what one congressional aide accurately called ‘the world’s softest trial balloon about diplomacy.’ ‘Ukraine will win,’ was the incessantly repeated cry justifying this disgraceful behavior, as escalation proponents looked forward to a counteroffensive they were sure would justify this industrial-scale suffering. Well, it’s now five months since the Ukrainians launched their counteroffensive, and what has been the result? In short, it’s been an unmitigated failure.” • One thing is sure: Exactly as with Iraq, everybody who was wrong will be promoted.


Less than a year to go!

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“Oversight Chairman Comer: This Is Evidence Of Biden Family ‘Laundering’ Money From China; ‘Organized Crime’” [RealClearPolitics]. From November 5 because I missed it at the time, and quoting at length:

REP. JAMES COMER: We traced the $40,000 check that Joe Biden received all the way back to that WhatsApp message where Hunter Biden claimed his father was sitting beside him where he was shaking down the Chinese operative. That’s where that $40,000 was triggered.

We — just a few weeks after that text message, that $40,000 landed in Joe Biden’s pocket after the Bidens laundered it. But that money came from China, further evidence that Joe Biden benefited from his family’s influence peddling scheme….


We can connect the dots, because, as you showed on the screen, with this series of transactions, that’s called money laundering. And this was a very organized criminal enterprise by the Biden family. This wasn’t just some drug addict doing concoctions and making wild transactions. This was very organized.

And the reason they did these complicated transactions was to disguise the source of the revenue and to deceive the IRS from paying taxes. So what you’re going to see in the coming weeks is a lot of loans. Any time the Bidens have money, they’re going to claim it was a loan, because you don’t have to report loans on your taxes.

If you’re the IRS and you’re just looking at someone’s taxes, you would never know that Joe Biden got two checks for loan repayments, $200,000 and $40,000. You wouldn’t know about all the money that we’re going to show that James Biden took in and Hunter Biden took in from loans.

Loans is a way — it’s an integral part of money laundering, where you deceive from the IRS about the revenue you’re taking in. [A]ll we see in the Biden transactions are loans, loans, loans, but you never see where they made any interest payments on loans.

Very seldom do you see where they even made a principal payment on the loans. I think the Biden — the next big question the Biden family, including Joe Biden, is going to have to answer to the American people is, what exactly are the terms of these loans? What type of documentation do you have on these loans?

Were you going to pay these loans back? Were these forgivable loans? Were these grants? If so, in addition to influence peddling, which we have clearly proved the Bidens were doing, they have tax fraud implications with the IRS.

Comer presents a coherent theory of the case without getting wrapped round the axle with rhetoric. Remarkable! The timelines should be interesting.

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“Jen Psaki: Trump Would End Rule Of Law In America, But Sure, Biden Is Three Years Older And Occasionally Trips” [RealClearPolitics]. • I dunno. Maybe some acid would mellow the dude out.

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Cornel West on Gaza:

(However, a socialist should know that the class/humanity dichotomy is a category error. After all, capitalists are human, too; even global capitalists.)

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“Opinion: A third-party run is a risk we can’t afford” [James E. Clyburn, CNN]. “I have served in Congress under five presidents and have known them all. President Joe Biden is among the finest. He has guided this nation with extraordinary skill, deep foresight and abiding decency. His fatherly demeanor and compassionate tone do not engender the attractive headlines and quotable sound bite for which many seem to yearn.” • I’ve gotta say, my own father never sniffed my hair, although his demeanor was otherwise impeccable. I guess I missed out. Perhaps Clyburn’s mileage varies.

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“Post-Election Analysis: Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi” [Sean Trende, RealClearPolitics]. Too much to excerpt (and the aptronymic Trende was, remarkably, a member of VA’s redistricting commission). My takeaway is, to coin a phrase, that “all politics is local”; despite the attempts by the national party apparatchiks to nationalize the elections just past, each state had its own unique factors. Well worth a read, if only to hear a calm voice.

Obama Legacy

Republican Funhouse

“In protests against Israel, ‘American way of freedom’ is being ‘deeply challenged,’ says author and historian” [FOX]. “‘As an admirer of this country,’ says Guinness, a British national, ‘I think there’s no question most Americans would agree [that] what Americans love supremely is freedom. The American way of freedom coming out of the Hebrew routes in Exodus is a distinctive freedom. And yet it’s been deeply challenged today…. Guinness warns that we are at a crucial time in this country. The division, he says, stems from two competing philosophies: one based on the American Revolution of 1776, the other on the French Revolution of 1789. In his book, ‘The Magna Carta of Humanity: Sinai’s Revolutionary Faith and the Future of Freedom,’ Guinness lays out the difference and why we should be concerned. On a recent episode of ‘Lighthouse Faith’ podcast, he said, ‘Ideas like postmodernism, radical multiculturalism, the sexual revolution, the cancel culture, critical race theory, all that stuff — all of those come down from the French Revolution, not the American Revolution. And so you’ve got a deep division about what the country stands for and is today. And it must be resolved.’ Guinness says just like before the Civil War — we cannot stand as a house divided.” • More sugar!

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.

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The Wizard of Kalorama™ weighs in:

Obama’s slowly increasing presence in election 2024 gives me the creeps (and I’m sure Joe Biden hears footsteps, at least metaphorically). Of course, I might be reading too much into this; Obama might has be billing the DLCC for a nothingburger, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“3.2-The Broken Regime” (podcast) [Mike Duncan, Revolutions]. I finally brutalized Apple’s iPad podcast app into letting me play a single podcast in order (use “Stations”) and so I started listening to Revolutions again. This episode sets the scene for 1789 in France by describing the jurisdictional dysfunction of the Ancien Régime, which may remind readers of our own day. The podcast starts (to personalize) with Cromwell and ends with Lenin (and Duncan’s treatment of the Russian Revolution is very level-headed and fair). One high-level conclusion I draw is that revolutions are not that infrequent. I really can’t recommend this podcast enough. (No substitute for works like The Coming of the Third Reich, because the bandwidth of a book with full scholarly apparatus is so much greater, but for what it is? Superb.)


“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!

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Covid is Airborne

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Or “live with it,” for that matter:

Allen’s views on masks are craven, but he’s right on this.


“‘Smell it down the hallway’: Cruise from hell hit with mix of Covid and gastro” [Newstalk ZB]. “A cruise ship has finally reached port in Australia after its passengers and crew were subjected to two weeks aboard a floating Petri dish of Covid and gastroenteritis…. A 57-year-old passenger told the Advertiser they believed several hundred people could be affected…. If the raw numbers were not horrifying enough, several passengers gave graphic descriptions of the environmental conditions aboard the Grand Princess. ‘We had a man two doors down from us who had Covid and gastro and we didn’t know about it, and you could smell it down the hallway, one passenger told Nine’s The Today Show.” • I don’t know why HICPAC wants to make America’s hospitals like cruise ships, but they do. (Oh, and the article mentions cleaning. Nothing about ventilation, which is odd, since #CovidIsAirborne).

“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.

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Elite Maleficence

“Recommendations for HICPAC” [People’s CDC]. “Over 900 occupational safety, aerosols science, public health, and medical experts have written to new CDC Director Mandy K. Cohen, MD, MPH, informing her that CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) must correct their review on COVID infection control measures to reflect the science of aerosol transmission through inhalation and their decision-making process must include patient advocates, infectious disease transmission scientists, aerosols scientists, healthcare personnel (providers and other frontline workers such as cleaning crews), union representatives, and occupational safety and health experts. HICPAC is a CDC committee that oversees policies and protocols on the prevention of infectious diseases in healthcare settings.” • Well worth a read.

“Is Nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 Still Worth Preventing?” [JAMA]. • Wrong question. The right question is: “Is Infection Control Worth Preserving as a Profession?”

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Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, November 6:

Lambert here: Cases up, just in time for Thanksgiving (and tinfoil hat time: This is the, er, inflection point CDC was trying to conceal when they gave the contract to Verily and didn’t ensure a seamless transition).

Regional data:



From CDC, November 11:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: HV.1, EG.5 a strong second, with FL.1.15.1 and XBB. trailing. No BA.2.86 (although that has showed up in CDC’s airport testing). Still a Bouillabaisse…

From CDC, October 28:

Lambert here: 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, November 4:

Lambert here: Still flattening. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator until Verily gets its house in order (and working class-centric, since I would doubt the upper crust goes to the ER).

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 November 13:

A definite decrease. Should be up in two weeks, though! (I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive, although the hospital-centric public health establishment loves it, hospitalization and deaths being the only metrics that matter [snort]).

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. November 4:

Lambert here: “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”. So where the heck is the update, CDC?


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, November 6:

-1.4%. But bouncing around. (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 From Cleveland Clinic, November 4:

Lambert here: Slight increase. 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.

From CDC, traveler’s data, October 23:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, still from November 2:

Sudden big BA.2.86 appearance. This variant chart has not been updated, which makes me wonder if CDC is gaming the data, and BA.2.86 is worse than we think.


Total: 1,181,872 – 1,181,863 – 1,181,620 = 9 (9 * 365 = 3285 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, November 12:

Lambert here: Based on a machine-learning model.

Stats Watch

Economic Optimism: “United States Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The RealClearMarkets/TIPP Economic Optimism Index rose to 44.5 in November 2023, the highest in seven months, from a twelve-year low of 36.3 in October. Still, the index has now been in negative territory for 26 consecutive months.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 41 Fear (previous close: 42 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 13 at 1:52:13 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most! • The goat sacrificers are going to defile the Al Aqsa mosque, and the Rapture Index is down? I hardly had them in the contrarian box! UPDATE I guess the indexing lags. I can’t recall a jump of two, and if Date Settings hadn’t been down one, it would have been three!

News of the Wired

“Terry Pratchett and the Maggi Soup Adverts” [Stuffed Crocodile]. Pratchett: “There were a number of reasons for switching to Goldmann, but a deeply personal one for me was the way Heyne (in Sourcery, I think, although it may have been in other books) inserted a soup advert in the text … a few black lines and then something like ‘Around about now our heroes must be pretty hungry and what better than a nourishing bowl’… etc, etc. My editor was pretty sick about it, but the company wouldn’t promise not to do it again, so that made it very easy to leave them. They did it to Iain Banks, too, and apparently at a con he tore out the offending page and ate it. Without croutons.”

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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 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 WB:

WB writes: “Grasses emergent in a cloudy pond.”

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