2:00PM Water Cooler 2/9/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Evening Grosbeak (type 1), Coos, Oregon, United States. “Chatters, trills, dawn. Weather was misty. Habitat: Yard, Suburban.”

* * *

Politics

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

The Constitutional Order (Insurrection)

Lambert here: Patient readers, I would like to preen a little for (a) recognizing that the Section Three story was important and (b) covering it relentlessly (and from all sides). More, (c) I was skeptical of the case being made, (d) appropriately so, given the tenor of the Justices’ questioning (across the board, not just the conservatives. Of course, we don’t know what the ultimate outcome will be — and there are other case in the works — but I think you were well prepared for the explosion of coverage now that it has finally happened. (Hat tip to alert reader GH for sending me the amici briefs!)

“The Supreme Court seems poised to reject efforts to kick Trump off the ballot over the Capitol riot” [Associated Press]. “The Supreme Court seems poised to reject attempts to kick former President Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot, with conservative and liberal justices in apparent agreement in a case that puts them at the heart of a presidential election. A definitive ruling for Trump, the leading Republican candidate for president, would largely end efforts in Colorado, Maine and elsewhere to prevent his name from appearing on the ballot…. But on a Supreme Court that prefers to avoid cases in which it is the final arbiter of a political dispute, the justices appeared to be searching for a consensus ruling and the issue of congressional action seemed to draw the most support. Justice Elena Kagan was among several justices who wanted to know “why a single state should decide who gets to be president of the United States.’” But it’s unlikely that Congress would act. So where would that leave us? Finally: “In addition to the immunity issue, the court also will hear an appeal in April from one of the more than 1,200 people charged in the Capitol riot. The case could upend a charge prosecutors have brought against more than 300 people, including Trump.” • It’s going to be quite a year!

“The Five Minute Fix” [WaPo]. “The Supreme Court didn’t even have to hear the case. But the justices probably recognized the extraordinary public interest in whether a presidential candidate is an insurrectionist. Which suggests they could rule very soon, before more states have their primaries in March. They have three main options, ranked in order of least to most likely….. 1. They could decide Trump can’t be on all state ballots: This would be cataclysmic for Trump, and it’s the least likely option, based on how skeptical the judges sounded today about Colorado’s argument…. 2. They could decide Trump can be on all state ballots: This would keep the status quo. Trump could precede as a normal presidential candidate. 3. They could narrowly rule on just the Colorado case: This would be the most complicated outcome, according to secretaries of states The Washington Post has talked to. This decision would leave it up to state election officials, or even Congress, to decide what to do with Trump. But while that’s an unsatisfactory answer to the public, it might be the easiest decision for the justices, who never wanted this case in the first place, [aid Jessica Levinson, a legal analyst and law professor at Loyola Marymount University] said.” • Hmm. If that’s the most likely option, then “domestic tranquillity” looks a little shaky.

2024

Less than a year to go!

* * *

“Trump has his best day of 2024” [CNN]. “Donald Trump had his best day of 2024 so far… The former president was handed a political gift. An independent special counsel poured kerosene on concerns about Joe Biden’s age with pointed language about the president’s poor memory after concluding Biden had willfully mishandled classified documents – and that his failing memory makes him impossible to convict. Biden was on defense at a hastily called White House news conference. “My memory is fine,” Biden said. He is on a glide path to the Republican nomination. Trump romped in the Nevada and US Virgin Island caucuses Thursday night, continuing his unbeaten streak and making Nikki Haley’s campaign feel futile. He appears poised for a win at the Supreme Court. Justices expressed deep skepticism that Colorado could declare him an insurrectionist and bar him from their election ballots. It’s a one-two-three combo that should have Trump feeling solid about his political future, at least for a moment.” • Lucky in his

* * *

“Report on the Investigation Into Unauthorized Removal, Retention, and Disclosure of Classified Documents Discovered at Locations Including the Penn Eiden Center and the Delaware Private Residence of President Joseph R. Eiden, Jr.” [Special Counsel Robert K. Hur, U.S. Department of Justice]. Here are the passages that are causing so much agita:

And it appears Biden’s memory has been problematic since at least 2017, that is before he was President:

(Note that an interview with a ghostwriter is not an official proceeding; people forget things in official proceedings all the time!) Since I came up during the Terry Schiavo debacle, when ridiculous and tendentious armchair diagnosis — much of it from doctors! — was rife, I’m careful on topics like this. Dementia has a lot of behavioral symptoms (and if Biden has been formally tested, the results are not available to us). Memory loss is one. Aggressive behavior is another, which is why I flagged Biden’s “rage” in links this morning. If the press really wants to go into pulling-the-wings-off-flies mode, they can ask Biden to count backwards from 100 by sevens in his next presser, if any. If there is a trustworthy, apartisan videopgrapher/editor in this world, they might consider making documenting Biden’s gait over time. Finally, it’s worth noting that Biden has had Covid twice, and that dementia has been a well-known Covid sequela since 2021. As I wrote back in seq: “A sociopathic elite is one thing, that we’re used to; but a sociopathic elite with brain damage is quite another.”

“Biden angrily pushes back at special counsel’s report that questioned his memory, handling of docs” [Associated Press]. “‘How in the hell dare he raise that?” Biden asked, about Hur’s comments regarding his son’s death, saying he didn’t believe it was any of Hur’s business. When asked about the report earlier Thursday in a private moment with a handful of House Democrats ahead of his speech at their suburban Virginia retreat, Biden responded angrily, according to two people familiar with his comments* , saying, ‘You think I would f—— forget the day my son died?’The people did not want to address the matter publicly and spoke of condition of anonymity. Biden pointedly noted that he had sat for five hours of in-person interviews in the immediate aftermath of Hamas’s October attack on Israel, when ‘I was in the middle of handling an international crisis.’” • NOTE * Harris supporters?

“Joe Biden: Political grenade thrusts age into spotlight” [BBC]. “Other Biden allies have pushed back on Mr Hur’s impartiality, pointing out that he was appointed to a US attorney office by Donald Trump in 2017. It was Biden Attorney General Merrick Garland who selected Mr Hur as special counsel, however.” • Hur’s bio.

“Eight Words and a Verbal Slip Put Biden’s Age Back at the Center of 2024” [New York Times]. “[A] visibly angry Mr. Biden made the exact type of verbal flub that has kept Democrats so nervous for months, mistakenly referring to the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as the ‘president of Mexico’ as he tried to address the latest developments in the war in Gaza…. The Trump operation has made plain its intent to use Mr. Biden’s stiffer gait [see above] and sometimes garbled speech to cast him as weak.”

“5 takeaways from special counsel report on Biden’s classified documents” [The Hill]. “While Hur’s comments about Biden’s age and memory will no doubt sting on the campaign trail, the special counsel’s rationale for not bringing charges rests both on the law and Biden’s ability to cast doubt on claims he intentionally kept the records. The Espionage Act prohibits ‘willful’ retention of national defense information, placing a burden on prosecutors to show violators kept documents intentionally. It’s a task made more difficult given that Biden alerted authorities to his possession of the documents. ‘His cooperation with our investigation, including by reporting to the government that the Afghanistan documents were in his Delaware garage, will likely convince some jurors that he made an innocent mistake, rather than acting willfully — that is, with intent to break the law — as the statute requires,’ Hur wrote. But there were also other factors that backed Biden’s stance that he was unaware the records were in his home. The Afghanistan documents were ‘in Mr. Biden’s Delaware garage — in a badly damaged box surrounded by household detritus,’ Hur said.” • Well, who doesn’t have a little “household detritus”? MR SUBLIMINAL Not you, Hunter! Seriously, though, if Trump had done this?

* * *

Anything that makes Donald Trump, Jr. look like a winner:

“Clinton adviser Begala on Hur report: ‘This is terrible for Democrats’” [Politico]. “Democratic strategist and former Clinton advisor Paul Begala issued a warning to Democrats after the release of a special counsel report that questioned President Joe Biden’s memory…. ‘Look, I’m a Biden supporter. And I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every two hours and wet the bed. This is terrible for Democrats. And anybody with a functioning brain knows that,’ said Begala, who was a chief strategist to the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign and later served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton in the White House, in an appearance Friday on CNN…. ‘I want to see more Joe Biden, and the gaffes are built in. But instead of simply saying, ‘I’m OK’, he just simply, he needs to be on the attack 24/7 for the next 269 days,’ Begala said.” • I don’t know if Biden has that capability any more. In 2020, he campaigned from his basement. This is four years later….

“Obama AG Eric Holder blasts special counsel’s report” [Politico]. ‘Special Counsel Hur report on Biden classified documents issues contains way too many gratuitous remarks and is flatly inconsistent with long standing DOJ traditions,’ Holder said in a post on X early Friday morning. ‘Had this report been subject to a normal DOJ review these remarks would undoubtedly have been excised.’”

* * *

“What is the 25th Amendment? A simplified explanation of what it does, who can invoke it” [USA Today]. “The 25th Amendment cannot be executed by a single party. Instead, it takes a few steps of approval by multiple parties. The vice president is the primary starting point for invoking the 25th Amendment, specifically the fourth section. The vice president, in conjunction with either a majority of the executive Cabinet or a specific “body” designated by Congress, must invoke the Amendment in tandem. The vice president takes over once these parties submit a formal written declaration to Congress. If the president refutes this, they can return to power for four days, in which time the other parties can again submit a declaration invoking the president’s removal. If this happens, the VP takes over again and Congress must secure a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate within 21 days to permanently remove the president.” • So Kamala Harris pulls the trigger. Oh, good. I wonder if the flight-trackers show any movement from Willie Brown; she’d want to consult with her oldest, most trusted advisors. (My thought, which I don’t think I ever wrote up, was that the ideal time to defenestrate Biden would be a month or so before the Democratic National Convention starting August 19. That way, the Convention, which has plenary powers, could simply pick the candidate in a smoke-filled room, which is what the party grandees would like to do anyhow. February is much, much too early; it gives rivals time to start their own campaigns. It also opens jp space for RFK Jr.

“Republicans Call For Biden’s Removal By 25th Amendment After Hur Report: What It Is And Why That Won’t Happen” [Forbes]. “The calls for invoking the 25th Amendment are among mounting criticism from Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, about Biden’s mental well-being given the report’s findings. But the calls are unlikely to be more than partisan chatter as invoking the 25th Amendment would require the support of the vice president and of Biden’s Democratic cabinet. The group would have to agree he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” according to Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. From there it’s an even steeper uphill battle for Biden to be removed from office. Two-thirds majorities of both chambers would then have to vote and approve of stripping the president of his powers.” • I wonder what Mrs. Woodrow Wilson Jill Biden thinks….

* * *

“Could Taylor Swift Help Biden Win Re-Election? Yes, According to the Data” [Morning Consult]. “3% of U.S. voters say they are avid fans of Swift, along with 37% who consider themselves casual fans. Roughly 2 in 3 avid Swift fans who are registered to vote would like to see her endorse Biden’s re-election, compared with 30% of all voters who agree. Only 51% of Swift’s youngest fans who are eligible to vote (ages 18-34) said they’ll definitely participate in the November election, suggesting that a Swift advocacy effort could help Biden run up the score among this left-leaning group — especially if she can activate her casual followers. 64% of voters who identify as avid Swift fans say they’re supporting Biden for re-election this year.” • Does seem a little trivial, after the Hur report. But one carries on!

* * *

* * *

#COVID19

“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!

* * *

Vaccination and Vaccines

“One Simple Change May Dramatically Boost The Effect of COVID-19 Vaccines” [Science Alert]. “Four weeks after the second jab, those who received shots in both arms had up to a four-fold increase in SARS-CoV-2-specific serum antibodies compared to those who got shots in just one arm. What’s more, this improved immune response lasted more than a year after the booster was administered. ‘It turned out to be one of the more significant things we’ve found, and it’s probably not limited to just COVID vaccines,’ [infectious disease specialist Marcel Curlin] hypothesizes. ‘We may be seeing an important immunologic function.’ Curlin and his colleagues are not yet sure what that special function is, or how it works, but they have an idea. When a vaccine is given in muscle, the antigens in the medicine are recognized by immune cells, which ‘handcuff’ the invaders and take them to the lymph nodes for further questioning. This then primes the immune system against this particular antigen by sort of sending out wanted signs of the invader. The thing is, different sides of the body drain to different lymph nodes, so by triggering an immune response on both sides, the body may be more on guard.”

Immune Dysregulation

Finally!

Sequelae

“Temporal Association between COVID-19 Infection and Subsequent New-Onset Dementia in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” (preprint) [The Lancet]. Metastudy of 11 studies. “This review primarily aimed to investigate the potential role of COVID-19 in leading to [New Onset Dementia (NOD)] among older adults aged 60 years and older over various time intervals…. In subgroup analyses, NOD risk was significantly higher in the COVID-19 group compared to C2 at 12 months post-COVID… Cognitive impairment was nearly twice as likely in COVID-19 survivors compared to those uninfected.” • See above on Biden.

“Mass Disabling Event Denial” [Nate Bear, ¡Do Not Panic!]. “In 2022 scientists said covid was likely to be a mass disabling event. Mass media articles covered this forecast widely at the time…. Four years later, these forecasts are becoming our reality. The number of long-term sick in the UK was revised upwards this week to a record high of more than 2.8 million after falling consistently until 2020…. In the US the numbers are skyrocketing. On current trends the number of Americans registered as having a disability will top 10 million sometime next year. In Canada 27% of people now have a registered disability. The same thing is being seen in countries around the world. All since 2020. The mass disabling event we were warned of is here. But instead of headlines warning us that yes, indeed, those forecasts we wrote about are becoming reality, something strange is happening. The very same media and politicians who warned about the threat of covid as a mass disabling event are now blaming everything other than the virus for the mass disability.” • “It’s the lockdowns!” And people buy it. I’m baffled why they do….

* * *

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

LEGEND

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

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

NOTES

[1] 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 CPI seasonally adjusted” [Trading Economics]. “The seasonally-adjusted CPI in the United States increased by 0.2% month-over-month to 308.742 points in December 2023, the same pace as in November, revised data showed.” If only our paychecks were seasonally adjusted. And month-on-month: “US core consumer prices, which exclude volatile items such as food and energy, rose by 0.3% from the previous month in December 2023, the same as in November and in line with market expectations. Consumer prices eased for services excluding energy services (0.4% vs 0.5% in November), amid softer increases in transportation services (0.1% vs 1.1%). On the other hand, cost of shelter (0.5% vs 0.4%) and medical care services (0.7% vs 0.6%) advanced faster. Among goods, prices rebounded for apparel (0.1% vs -1.3%), new vehicles (0.3% vs -0.1%) and alcoholic beverages (0.3% vs -0.1%). Meanwhile, cost eased for used cars and trucks (0.5% vs 1.6% and fell for medical care commodities (-0.1% vs 0.5%) and tobacco and smoking products (-0.1% vs 1.1%).”

* * *

Tech: “Apple Is Lobbying Against Right to Repair Six Months After Supporting Right to Repair” [404 Media]. “An Apple executive lobbied against a strong right-to-repair bill in Oregon Thursday, which is the first time the company has had an employee actively outline its stance on right to repair at an open hearing. Apple’s position in Oregon shows that despite supporting a weaker right to repair law in California, it still intends to control its own repair ecosystem. It also sets up a highly interesting fight in the state because Google has come out in favor of the same legislation Apple is opposing.”

Manufacturing: “FAA says 737 Max operator discovered loose bolts in rudder control system on plane in December” [The Hill]. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said an operator of a 737 Max plane discovered loose bolts in a rudder control system for the plane. The FAA said it received a report about a missing nut, washer and ‘migrated’ bolt in the system from an operator in December of last year. It said Boeing then inspected all 737 Max 8, 737 Max 8-200, and 737 Max 9 planes in production and turned up another ‘under-torqued nut at the same location.’ Boeing said in a statement to The Hill on Friday that operators have inspected more than 1,400 737 MAX airplanes since late December and no other airplane was found with the condition that initiated the inspection. Inspections on related jets have been completed, the company added. The FAA, meanwhile, said in a statement on Thursday that inspections recommended by Boeing in December had been completed by all U.S. airlines in early January. ‘The FAA carefully reviewed the inspection results, which found no missing or loose rudder bolts,’ the FAA said. An airworthiness directive from the FAA that will require ‘a one-time inspection’ of the system in which the loose bolts were discovered for certain Max airplanes is scheduled to be published Monday.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 76 Greed (previous close: 75 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 8 at 1:33:37 PM ET.

The Gallery

“A Case for the Preservation of Abandoned Places” [Atlas Obscura]. A photo this gorgeous makes the case for abandonment:

What could be more beautiful than an abandoned prison….

News of the Wired

“‘Reading is so sexy’: gen Z turns to physical books and libraries” [Guardian]. “Gerber isn’t alone. Last year in the UK 669m physical books were sold, the highest overall level ever recorded. Research from Nielsen BookData highlights that it is print books that gen Z favour, accounting for 80% of purchases from November 2021 to 2022. Libraries are also reporting an uptick in gen Z users who favour their quiet over noisy coffee shops. In the UK in-person visits are up 71%.” • Best news I’ve heard in a long time!

* * *

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 pfish:

pfish writes: “A few flowers not yet id’d.” Name that plant?

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email