2:00PM Water Cooler 2/13/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Purple Finch (Eastern), Sapsucker Woods–Lab Building Area Tompkins, New York, United States. “NOTES: SHORT SONG – NO ‘PHOEBE’ NOTE. USED PART IN ‘AMERICAN BIRD SONGS’ VOL. I. ALSO RRN 51-37-5 THROUGH 7…. The Territory Song as well as vocal mimicry is heard. There is a nice example of an Eastern Bluebird and Eastern Phoebe being mimicked (at 22 sec and 1:12). A robin may also be mimicked.” From 1951 (!!).

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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

Lambert here: I added another “Constitutional Order” section: “Convention.” This keeps happening….

The Constitutional Order (Insurrection)

“Supreme Court to confront 14th Amendment disqualification — and not just Trump’s” [The Hill]. “Just days after the justices heard oral arguments in Trump’s historic case Thursday, they are scheduled this week to consider taking up another official’s disqualification: a New Mexico county commissioner who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Before the Trump challenges gained steam, a state judge booted from office Couy Griffin, who had been found guilty of entering a restricted area during the riot. Griffin, the founder of Cowboys for Trump, is now urging the justices to hear his appeal, even as they begin writing their opinion in Trump’s case. Griffin’s petition is scheduled to be discussed at the justices’ closed-door conference Friday.” And: “‘[N]one of the trial court’s findings are sufficient to conclude that Mr. Griffin somehow engaged in ‘insurrection’ against the United States,’ Griffin’s attorneys wrote in their appeal to the Supreme Court. ‘At best, the trial court’s findings were sufficient to conclude that Mr. Griffin engaged in a riot intended to create a disturbance or a civil commotion.’”

The Constitutional Order (Convention)

“Warn Voters About the Radicalism Beyond Trump” [The New Republic]. “Although the convention push has been all but ignored by the commentariat and national Democratic leaders, it has powerhouse backing. The Koch network and other dark-money donors are generously funding it. The corporation-underwritten American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has supplied ‘model legislation’ and training to Republican state legislators…. Convention of States Action (COS), the 501c(4) organization leading the campaign, whose head was a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, has recruited and deployed volunteers to lobby their legislatures. (It also offers training in ‘biblical citizenship.’) COS has held three practice conventions with legislators from nearly every state. The Heritage Foundation—the 800-pound gorilla on the right—recently signed on in ‘a game-changing report‘ that such a convention would be ‘a potent check on federal power’ and is ‘a worthy cause.’ … Under Article V of the Constitution, Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments” when it receives applications from two-thirds of the states. In reality, this is hard, because one party would need to control both houses of 34 state legislatures (or 33 plus unicameral Nebraska). But ALEC has fabricated a claim built around the idea that enough states have made past calls for a convention, some going back decades, for the idea to proceed. It plans to use these outdated state resolutions to argue to the courts that they should force Congress to convene one. But it gets worse. If Republicans control Congress, they won’t have to bother with litigation, because it would be up to the majority in control to determine the validity of the applications—and Article V lacks the guardrails to prevent this manipulation. Seriously? Yes, alas. House Speaker Mike Johnson, who would be in a position to call it, is a longtime ally of COS.” • Maybe. I do take both the Koch Brothers and ALEC very seriously. This, Project 2025. How come all the (revolutionary) energy is on the conservative side?


Less than a year to go!

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Phillips (D): “What to know about Dean Phillips, the Jewish congressman running for US president” [Times of Israel]. “Talking runs in the Jewish Minnesota congressman’s family — his grandmother is Dear Abby. And he’s friends with Ilhan Omar, despite their polar opposite views on a range of issues, including Israel, because they like to talk things through. Now, Phillips, 54, is hoping that penchant for dialogue will fuel his latest endeavor — a long-shot bid to defeat Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential primary. ‘The greatest challenge we face right now isn’t ideology, isn’t issue based, it’s conversation, the lack of conversation,’ the Minnesota Democrat said in ads for his first congressional campaign for the House in 2018, which he re-upped for his presidential campaign. ‘And the great intention of my campaign in my personal mandate is to get people to talk.’ Phillips doesn’t differ much from Biden on policy, and hasn’t garnered any meaningful support from other elected officials or in the polls. But so far, as primary season approaches, he’s refused to back down.” Phillips recycled his ads…. On Israel, Phillips: “‘Hamas is a clear & present danger to Israel, Palestinians, & peace, & must be destroyed,’ he wrote. ‘Netanyahu is a clear & present danger to Israel, Palestinians, & peace, & must be democratically replaced. .’” • That would help, possibly.

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Pritzker (D): “‘I smell a rat,’ says Dem Gov. Pritzker of special counsel report on Biden” [Politico]. “The Illinois governor, an heir to the Hyatt Hotel empire, is a major donor to the Democratic Party and helped lead the effort to bring the Democratic National Convention to Chicago in August. It’s put him in close contact over the years with Biden. ‘I’ve been with the president of the United States many times,’ Pritzker said. ‘He is on the ball. The man knows more than most of us have forgotten.’” • Dang. What’s that slurping sound?

Pritzker (D): “Exclusive: Pritzker, Johnson, Preckwinkle meet to discuss Chicago migrant situation” [NBC Chicago]. “Three key officials in charge of coordinating the response to the ongoing migrant situation in Chicago met on Monday at City Hall, according to NBC Chicago Political Reporter Mary Ann Ahern. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle both attended the meeting with Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson as hundreds of migrants continue to arrive in the city…. Pritzker said the meeting was productive and that the three officials got along well during the conversation. ‘(It was) good discussion and planning,’ he said. ‘We’ve been doing this with our staffs for quite some time now, and in regular intervals of meetings with the principals.’” • Is that the same as “a full and frank exchange of views”? Whoever goes under the bus here, it won’t be Pritzker, and there certainly won’t be anything untoward during the Democrat National Convention, which runs August 19-22. Not much time, actually.

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“What to watch in Tuesday’s special elections in New York and Pennsylvania” [The Hill]. “In New York’s 3rd Congressional District, former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) is facing off against Republican Mazi Pilip following the ousting of former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). The district, which includes parts of Long Island and Queens, has become more purple in recent years, increasingly favoring Republicans at the local level. Further south in the Philadelphia suburb of Bucks County, Pa., Democrat Jim Prokopiak and Republican Candace Cabanas are competing to represent Pennsylvania’s 140th state House district. Bucks County is considered one of the country’s quintessential suburban swing districts and could provide intel about suburban and independent voters going into November.” • Bucks County in PA, a swing state….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Multiple threats to election systems prompt US cybersecurity agency to boost cooperation with states” [Associated Press]. “The program announced this week includes 10 new hires, all of whom join the federal agency with extensive election experience. They will be based throughout the country and join other staff already in place that have been conducting cyber and physical security reviews for election offices that request them.” • The real message here is that if you’re an election official, you can get a far more lucrative job with the spooks. (Conversely, if a spook shows up in your office, whether overtly or covertly, they’re your friend.) Note that paper ballots aren’t hackable, and so we won’t be seeing them anytime soon, if the people who built this program have any say in the matter. Or the election officials, for that matter. The corruption used to be at the level of “Buy me a steak.” Now it’s at the level of “Give me a job.”


“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 (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Elite Maleficence


“Health Secretary Becerra defends CDC’s COVID isolation guidance that California shortened” [Times-Herald] (January 30). The deck: “Secretary said people who downplay COVID threat are ‘playing with fire.’” But I can’t find that quote anywhere else, or the interview it comes from. Instead, we get this weak stuff: “‘The CDC’s information is guidance, it is not mandatory, it is the best judgment of the experts who have been reviewing the evidence and data on what COVID is doing,’ Becerra, secretary of Health and Human Services, said in an interview Monday with the Bay Area News Group during a stop in San Jose. ‘States sometimes adopt it completely, oftentimes they don’t,’ Becerra said. ‘States run their health care systems, we don’t. … It’s up to them to decide what to do for their people. And . We hope that they would heed the guidance. And we intend to be partners as they determine how to move forward.’” • Becerrara was a lawyer, former Attorney General of California, totally the right man at the right time to helm HHS during a pandemic. See this post from yesterday on California’s move: “The California “Department of Political Health” Mandates Covid Infection with Its New “One Day” Order (and How to Stop Them.”


“CDC plans to loosen covid isolation guidance” [WaPo] (February 13). “For the first time since 2021, the CDC plans to loosen its covid isolation recommendations to align with guidance on how to avoid transmitting flu and RSV, according to four agency officials and two experts familiar with the discussions. CDC officials acknowledged in internal discussions and in a briefing last week with state health officials how much the covid-19 landscape has changed since the virus emerged four years ago, killing nearly 1.2 million people in the United States and shuttering businesses and schools. The new reality — with most people having developed a level of immunity to the virus because of prior infection or vaccination — warrants a shift to a more practical approach, experts and health officials say.” Under the proposed approach, people would no longer need to stay home if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the aid of medication and their symptoms are mild and improving, according to three agency officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal discussions. It would base isolation decisions on clinical symptoms, rather than specifying that you need to isolate for a set number of days. The federal recommendation follows similar moves by Oregon and California. The White House has yet to sign off on the guidance, which , officials said.” • We’re in midst of the second highest spike since Omicron, and the public health establishment is chanting “Most people have a level of immunity” and “It’s just like the flu.” Swell. Also, was Becerra (see “Shot,” above) ignorant or uninformed about the Center for Disease’s plans, or was pressure brought to bear at some point in the last two weeks?

“CDC to drop five-day Covid isolation guidelines for people who test positive – after nearly four years” [Daily Mail]. “The guidelines still need to be signed off by the White House and will then be released in April for public comment — which will last for 30 to 60 days. Officials will then address any further requests before publishing the final version — a process that could take until this summer. CDC officials decided on the shift during an internal meeting, reports suggest…. Dr Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, said: ‘Public health has to be realistic. In making recommendations to the public today, we have to try to get the most out of what people are willing to do. You can be absolutely right in the science and yet accomplish nothing because no one will listen to you.’” • Osterholm is a useful idiot; CDC dropped the original isolation guidance from 10 days to 5 days because of pressure from Delta Airlines. To be fair, rolling over for corporations is a fine definition of realism.

“The US Just Scrapped Its Final Covid Protection Measure” [Nate Bear, ¡Do Not Panic!]. Not quite true; the California order may be challenged, and there is public feedback to come for the CDC change. The left must get things right! A good rant, though: “It’s a lie that this change is motivated by what people are or aren’t willing to do. No one is demanding to be put back to work when sick! This is about business interests and greed. This is about greasing the wheels of capitalism with the mucus of covid-sickened bodies…. The ‘realistic’ thing, we’re being told, is to accept that people must be pushed sickly into capitalism’s buzz saw.” • Rule #2.

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


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

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


[1] Yes, up, but we’ll want to wait until next week to see if there are backward revisions. I’d be more comfortable if some positivity figures were up, too, or the ER (UPDATE: It’s not). Verily data, FWIW, also suggests an increase:

[2] Biobot data suggests a rise in the Northeast. MRWA data does not suggest that:

I also tried Verily’s regional data and CDC’s mapm but I wasn’t confident I was seeing a signal in either.

[3] “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.

[4] Does not support Biobot data. “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. And of course, we’re not even getting into the quality of the wastewater sites that we have as a proxy for Covid infection overall.

[5] Decrease for the city no longer aligns with wastewater data (if indeed Biobot’s spike is real).

[6] Still down “Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC, updates weekly for the previous MMWR week (Sunday-Saturday) on Thursdays (Deaths, Emergency Department Visits, Test Positivity) and weekly the following Mondays (Hospitalizations) by 8 pm ET†”.

[7] 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.

[8] Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

[9] Up, albeit in the rear view mirror.

Stats Watch

Inflation: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI)” [Trading Economics]. “The consumer price index in the United States rose by 3.1% year-over-year to 308.417 points in January 2024, easing from a 3.4% increase in December but exceeding the market consensus of a 2.9% advance.”

Business Optimism: “United States Nfib Business Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index in the US fell to 89.9 in January 2024, the lowest in eight months, compared to 91.9 in December 2023 and forecasts of 91.1, as labor quality and inflation were both a top concern. Twenty percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, down three points from last month and one point behind labor quality as the top problem.” • W would “labor quality” drop? ‘Tis a mystery!

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Tech: “Adyen is the underdog among payment companies” [Market Screener]. “The volume of transactions processed in 2023 was up 26% on the previous year, thanks in particular to a strategic partnership with the controversial CashApp application. Payments processed at the point of sale – one-sixth of sales – rose by 42%. On the other hand, the decline in margins reflects the acute and abundant competition in the sector, as at PayPal. Despite a 22% increase in sales over the year, operating profit before depreciation and amortization – or EBITDA – rose by just 2%. Is the Dutch company’s advantage sustainable in the long term? Adyen used to boast an operating margin and profitability twice those of PayPal; a unified technological platform and lower wage costs explained this difference. But PayPal is undergoing restructuring – as is Stripe. The two American industry leaders are making no secret of their ambitions: to return to growth, even if this means sacrificing margin points in the short term. They are betting that, in the longer term, merchants’ dependence on their services will give them powerful pricing power.”

Manufacturing: “Blowing the Door Off Boeing’s ‘Epstein Deal’” [Mauren Tkacik, The American Prospect]. “[Paul Cassell, a former federal judge] is the country’s pre-eminent expert on the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act, a 2004 statute that requires federal prosecutors to “confer” with victims throughout criminal investigations, and ensure those victims are invited to participate in ‘any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding’ concerning their perpetrators. In Boeing’s case, federal prosecutors had not only refused to confer with grieving families, but they repeatedly and falsely told them that Boeing was not under investigation at all, then implausibly denied they even counted as ‘victims’ of the crimes the agency had been probing…. The CVRA is a weird statute, almost more of an etiquette guide than a legitimate law. The wording very explicitly states it cannot be used as grounds to demand a new trial, seek damages from the government, supersede state law, or ‘impair the prosecutorial discretion of the Attorney General.’ Cassell, a former protégé of Antonin Scalia and card-carrying Federalist Society member, had failed in the past to use the government’s failure to consult victims to overturn wrist-slap Bush administration plea bargains over a BP oil refinery explosion that killed 15 in 2005 and a Citgo refinery leak that sickened 15 residents of Corpus Christi over the course of a decade. But two years before Boeing’s DPA, Cassell had wielded the law to functionally—if not jurisprudentially—defenestrate perhaps the most appalling plea deal of all time, the September 2007 non-prosecution agreement between then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta and the late pedophile sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. …. Boeing’s victims wondered if the ‘Epstein deal’ Filip had scored for his client might be similarly cast aside if the gory details behind it were exposed. But the clock was ticking: The DPA had been set to expire three years after it went into effect, after which the DOJ would spend another six months assessing Boeing’s compliance before moving to either extend the agreement or, more likely, dismiss it altogether with prejudice. That meant that for practical purposes, the victims could only hope to exert any influence over the DOJ’s treatment of Boeing until June 2024. But for nearly two years, Cassell tried and failed to extract information about how Boeing had landed its sweetheart deal. Finally in December, he found a Freedom of Information Act attorney named Greg Lipper to sue DOJ for stonewalling the victims’ families. Then, two days before Boeing’s DPA was set to expire, another brand-new Boeing 737 MAX experienced a bizarre and terrifying malfunction just a few minutes after takeoff, when a door plug flew clean off the fuselage and landed fully intact in some guy’s Portland backyard.” • Worth reading in full.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 Greed (previous close: 77 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 13 at 1:37:54 PM ET.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.) NOTE on #42 Plagues: “The coronavirus pandemic has maxed out this category.” More honest than most!

Zeitgeist Watch

“Chernobyl’s mutant wolves appear to have developed resistance to cancer, study finds” [Sky News]. “Dr Cara Love, an evolutionary biologist and ecotoxicologist at Princeton University in the US, has been studying how the Chernobyl wolves survive despite generations of exposure to radioactive particles….. The researchers discovered that Chernobyl wolves are exposed to upwards of 11.28 millirem of radiation every day for their entire lives – which is more than six times the legal safety limit for a human. Dr Love found the wolves have altered immune systems similar to cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment, but more significantly she also identified specific parts of the animals’ genetic information that seemed resilient to increased cancer risk.” • So, evolution in near-real time. Interesting. Encouraging?

News of the Wired

“Her Incredible Sense Of Smell Is Helping Scientists Find New Ways To Diagnose Disease” [NPR]. From 2020. This is Parkinson’s. Remember how sniffer dogs could detect Covid? Somehow, that idea just went away….

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

DL writes: “Big Basin: Redwood sprouts.”

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