2:00PM Water Cooler 1/16/2024 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got a late start. There’s plenty on Iowa, but I have to fill in around it… –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored), Wakely Mountain, New York, United States. “Long-Range Song is heard.”

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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


Less than a year to go!

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“56 percent in new poll willing to see Trump disqualified from ballots in all or some states” [The Hill]. “A majority of Americans in a new survey say they would support the Supreme Court either disqualifying former President Trump from presidential ballots across the country or letting states decide whether to include him on their ballots. Nearly one-third — 30 percent — of respondents in the ABC News/Ipsos survey said they think the justices should order that Trump be removed from ballots across the country, and 26 percent said they believed the matter should be left up to election officials in each state. Additionally, 39 percent of Americans surveyed said they think the Supreme Court should order Trump be kept on the ballot in all states. More than half of the survey’s respondents, 53 percent, said they believe the justices in the nation’s highest court will rule on the basis of law on the matter, while 43 percent said they think they will rule based on their political views on Trump.” • Headline is a touch deceptive…..

“Republicans Choose Chaos, Violence, And Election Lies” [Brian Buetler, Off Message]. “In year eight, something different is happening, and both Democrats and the media should be alert to it. This time around they have a clearer path to expunging Trump. With the Iowa caucuses now in the rearview mirror, they could rally for Nikki Haley the way Democratic elites flocked to Joe Biden when the 2020 primary came down to him and Bernie Sanders. Instead, they are choosing Trump, without reservation. Many had resolved to support him before the caucuses, and are trying now to edge his challengers out of the race.” • “Off message”? Really? (Note the extremely distorted view of 2020, which completely erases the role of The Wizard of Kalorama™.)

“Judicial Notice (01.13.24): In The Hot Seat” [David Lat, Original Jurisdiction]. “As first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of Trump’s co-defendants—Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official—alleged in a court filing that Willis and Nathan Wade, one of three special prosecutors she appointed to work on the matter, ‘have been engaged in an improper, clandestine personal relationship during the pendency of this case.” And because Wade has been paid more than $650,000 to date, some of which he allegedly used to take Willis on a Napa Valley trip and Caribbean cruises, both Willis and Wade “profit[ed] significantly from this prosecution, at the expense of the taxpayers.’ Roman’s motion further alleges that despite being hired to serve as a special prosecutor in an extremely high-profile, multi-defendant racketeering case, Nathan Wade has never tried a felony racketeering case—or any felony case, period. He also apparently billed Fulton County for 24 hours of work in a single day in November 2021, which is… not great. Roman seeks to have the charges against him dismissed, and he has also called for Willis, Wade, and the entire Fulton County DA’s office to be disqualified from the case…. What do Willis and Wade have to say? So far, not much. According to Willis’s office, the prosecution will respond through a court filing, and Judge Scott McAfee will then schedule a hearing, expected to take place next month…. But in remarks delivered today (Sunday) at Big Bethel A.M.E Church in Atlanta, Willis alluded obliquely to the controversy. She described herself as ‘imperfect’ and ‘flawed’—like Dr. King, whose ‘journey was full of mistakes’ and alleged ‘personal indiscretions.’ Without mentioning Wade by name, she praised his ‘impeccable’ credentials—and noted that even though she appointed three special prosecutors, critics are attacking only the Black man.” • Willis has a white boyfriend, too? Did she hire him?

“Fani Willis breaks silence on misconduct accusations” [The Hill]. “Willis, speaking Sunday with a congregation at the Big Bethel AME Church ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, did not directly address the allegations of an improper relationship with [special prosecutor Nathan Wade], but fiercely rejected claims she acted improper [sic] in hiring Wade in the state’s election interference case involving Trump and more than a dozen co-defendants…. Speaking as if she was having a conversation with God, Willis asked, ‘How come, God, the same Black man I hired was acceptable when a Republican in another country hired him and paid him twice the rate?’”

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“Ron DeSantis just failed in Iowa. And it’s only going to get worse from here” [MSNBC]. “DeSantis invested tremendous resources in the Hawkeye State, and even as his campaign dealt with financial troubles, he specifically prioritized investing in campaign staff and field operations there. He also hustled to secure local endorsements and succeeded in securing some big ones, including evangelical power broker Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Super PACs backing his candidacy spent tremendous amounts of cash on ads and door-knocking operations, seeing that strategy as the prime opportunity to derail the Trump train. But in the weeks before the race, one of those PACs, Never Back Down, spiked its ad buy plans after sensing that DeSantis’ candidacy was already a lost cause. Monday’s results vindicated its concerns. If DeSantis couldn’t pull off a win in Iowa — where he went all in and where voters are uniquely open to non-front-runner candidates — it’s hard to imagine where he can win. ”

“Former Obama Advisor David Plouffe: Ron DeSantis Was A ‘Terrible Candidate’” [RealClearPolitics]. “DAVID PLOUFFE: You know, to become the nominee of a party, you actually have to be a decent candidate…. The political graveyard is littered with people who look like on paper, they would be strong presidential candidates, but having gone through this, I mean, this is basically like a searing proctological exam beamed into every home. And very few people come out whole on the other side. And he was diminished by this….But I think, strategically, I think it was the right decision to go all-in Iowa. I don’t think there was another strategy out there. You know, and historically, that has worked for a few candidates. It hasn’t worked for most.”

“Haley’s Missed Opportunity: Iowa Slows Her Roll Into New Hampshire” [New York Times]. “Ms. Haley’s argument that she was the best Republican to thwart Mr. Biden’s re-election may have been persuasive with college-educated Republican voters, 39 percent of whom backed her in a New York Times/Siena College poll released last month. But in a wider Republican electorate that has been transformed by Mr. Trump into a bastion of voters without a college education, Ms. Haley, in the Times/Siena poll, had the support of just 3 percent of those voters.” • The Elizabeth Warren of Republican politics. Also an Indian! Wait. Not that kind of Indian!

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“Biden campaign staffs up, hires Ocasio-Cortez spokesperson” [The Hill]. “The Biden campaign hired a former spokesperson for progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to its communications team, as it seeks to beef up its national staff ahead of the election…. The bulking up of the campaign team comes amid scrutiny from several prominent Democrats who are criticizing the team’s strategy and structure. These political figures, including former President Obama, expressed concerns over the structure of the team in which too few staff are empowered to make decisions without first clearing them with the White House, The Washington Post reported earlier this month. The campaign argued it is building its staff up at the right time. A source close to the campaign defended the timing to The Hill earlier this month, stating, ‘Everyone I’ve spoken to on the campaign is working diligently on broadening the campaign to win. They’re staffing up at all levels including at the leadership level, which is totally appropriate at this point.’”

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“RFK Jr. defends Kennedy administration wiretap of Martin Luther King Jr.” [Politico]. “In an exclusive interview with POLITICO, Kennedy said that his father, Robert F. Kennedy — who authorized the wiretapping of King as attorney general — and President John F. Kennedy permitted the eavesdropping because they were ‘making big bets on King, particularly in organizing the March on Washington.’ ‘They were betting not only the civil rights movement but their own careers. And they knew that Hoover was out to ruin King,’ said Robert Kennedy Jr., referring to J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director at the time. He argued that the Kennedy administration had a legitimate reason to go along with Hoover’s determination to surveil King. The FBI director saw King as a dangerous radical with Communists in his inner circle. ‘There was good reason for them doing that at the time,’ Kennedy said, ‘because J. Edgar Hoover was out to destroy Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement and Hoover said to them that Martin Luther King’s chief was a communist. My father gave permission to Hoover to wiretap them so he could prove that his suspicions about King were either right or wrong,’ he continued. ‘I think, politically, they had to do it.’”

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IA: “Trump Savors Historic Iowa Win, Haley Turns Up the Heat, DeSantis Survives” [Newsweek]. “[I]t was Trump who emerged as the overwhelming victor, taking more than 51 percent of the vote—a margin that exceeded George W. Bush’s 2000 win, in which he took 41 percent of the vote. Trump was also nearly 30 points clear of his nearest rival, DeSantis, the largest margin of victory in history. DeSantis had 21.3 percent of votes, and Haley was in third with 19.1 percent. Ramaswamy received 7.7 percent and dropped out, immediately endorsing Trump.” • Half of Republicans voted for Trump; half did not (thought that’s not the headline). But the half that did not “have no place to go.” In any case:

IA: “31 minutes: Trump’s historic Iowa victory puts America on notice” [Axios]. “The astonishing speed and sweep of former President Trump’s victory in the Iowa caucuses last night delivered a massive wakeup call to Republican skeptics still dreaming of a post-MAGA world…. He couldn’t have scripted it any better: Trump won 98 of 99 counties in Iowa, dominating virtually every demographic while physically campaigning in the state far less than any of his top rivals.”

IA: “How Donald Trump built a base that catapulted him to a historic Iowa Caucuses victory” [Des Moines Register]. “Iowa Republicans also credited Trump with quietly assembling an organizing juggernaut that identified supporters and drew in first-time caucusgoers. ‘The clear message coming out of Iowa is that grassroots organizing matters,’ said Republican operative Nicole Schlinger. ‘The Trump campaign did not take his monumental support from Iowans for granted. Unlike 2016, they knew exactly who their supporters were and turned them out.’” • After a headline like that, we get this at the very end of the story?! The WSJ is better–

IA: “How Trump Became Unstoppable in Iowa” [Wall Street Journal]. “The crowd was dotted with white caps bearing the words “TRUMP CAUCUS CAPTAIN” in embroidered gold letters, and the former president wore one himself—a totem of the ruthlessly professional organization that Trump’s campaign has built, a far cry from the slapdash operation that failed to deliver him Iowa in early 2016.” The “captain” concept is very old-fashioned and effective; DCBlogger would appreciate it, though perhaps not Trump’s use of it. Of course, in a political party, not a campaign, the captain positions are permanent (“precinct captain,” “block captain”). I wonder if Trump will consider that? More: ” The former president had hired two brutally effective and experienced operatives to run his campaign: Chris LaCivita, famed for his work two decades ago thrashing Democrat John Kerry with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and Susie Wiles, who had helped DeSantis get elected before being unceremoniously ejected from the governor’s orbit. Campaign observers credit them with turning the once-shambolic Trump operation into a lean, mean, professionally run shop that missed no opportunity to stifle DeSantis early.” • Beneath all the chaos, Trump sometimes manages to make excellent hires. But only sometimes.

IA: “1 winner and 3 losers from the Iowa caucuses” [Vox]. “The final RealClearPolitics polling average had Trump at 52.5 percent of the vote. As of Monday night, he was around 51 percent. That number could still move a bit as more votes are counted, but it won’t shift that much — the polls appear to have been basically right. That’s good news for Trump going forward: There wasn’t any sort of massive, unnoticed sea change in the GOP electorate in which voters abandoned him. They are still with him. And we have every reason to believe they’ll be with him in the next primary and caucus contests, too. Trump hasn’t locked down the race yet, of course; Iowa is just one state. Haley will get to take her shot in New Hampshire. But the central political fact of the past eight and a half years has been the unshakable loyalty to Trump demonstrated by much of the GOP base. It would take a seismic event to dislodge him as the GOP frontrunner.”

IA: “Iowa caucus highlights: Trump wins, DeSantis takes second in weather-impacted 2024 Republican contest” [NBC]. “Before the snow came and the temperature dropped below zero and roads were caked in ice, Republicans had predicted this year’s turnout for the caucuses would smash records. Some went so far as to say the number of voters might reach 200,000 — well above the nearly 187,000 who showed up for the last contested Republican caucus in 2016. Then winter spoke. With some votes left to be tallied, it was clear that turnout tonight was much lower than had been expected before frigid winds ripped across the state. The NBC News Decision Desk projected that it would amount to about 120,000 voters, more in line with the turnout in 2012 than in 2016.”

IA: “Three Disparate Tickets Out of Iowa” [RealClearPolitics]. “‘I really think this is the time now for everybody in our country to come together. We want to come together, whether it’s Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative,’ he told supporters…. Trump was acting more like a guy who’d sewn up the nomination.” • Commentary:

IA: “Trump Receives a Warm Embrace in Frigid Iowa” [The New Yorker]. “The weather in Iowa was already not great, but people queued outside for six hours, then waited inside for three more for Trump to take the stage.” And: “I talked to B.J., a caucus captain, as she came down a marble staircase from the taping. ‘A Trump voter will turn out regardless of the weather,’ she said. Trump had done an impromptu meet and greet, and signed her captain hat. ‘We’ve been persecuted, so it’s nice to be around people who think the way we do, who understand what’s going on.’ She started crying. ‘I’m not a wacky Trump person, but I have three beautiful boys, and they don’t deserve the country we’re living in. Those rallies are like the best rock concert you’ve ever been to. When I took my son, he said, ‘Wow, I didn’t know so many people thought the way we do.” She went on, ‘In my opinion, there’s only two parties: the uniparty and the MAGA party. The uniparty is deep state, Democrats and Republicans. The MAGA party is America First.’”

IA: “Slouching Towards Trump” [Nate Silver, Silver Bulletin]. January 13. “What I’m getting at emotionally though is that I sense a lot of numbness to the idea of Trump winning another term…. But nobody seems to be acting as though Trump is an existential threat to democracy or anything else. People might think that, and perhaps they are quite rational to think that. But they aren’t acting like it…. The pandemic, however, was an extremely traumatic shared experience that I’m convinced the world still really hasn’t processed yet. Between the mass death and the massive disruption to the fabric of everyday life, 2020 was the worst year of most of our lives. The debates over COVID strategy are still fairly raw; the wounds haven’t really healed. Meanwhile, nearly everyone is in an eschatological mood these days. Every political quadrant thinks that civilization is going to end, whether because of climate change or unaligned artificial intelligence or the ‘Woke Mind Virus‘. Compared to all of that, a second Trump term — hey, we survived the first one, didn’t we? — doesn’t seem like a particularly high-stakes proposition.”

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“Billionaire Bill Ackman Backs Dean Phillips to Challenge Biden” [Bloomberg] (January 14). “‘Ackman is giving the money to a political action committee that supports Phillips. The contribution is “by far the largest investment I have ever made in someone running for office,’ he added. He joins a small but growing group of prominent supporters for Phillips. Mike Novogratz, chief executive officer of Galaxy Investment Partners, announced in December he plans to support Phillips.” • Ackman’s endorsement:

“Dean Phillips floats a Cabinet post for Musk or Ackman” [Politico] (January 15). “Phillips, who is running a longshot bid against President Joe Biden, spoke with Musk, hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman and podcast host Jason Calacanis for a wide-ranging conversation on Musk’s X spaces platform. Eventually, the topic turned to what his first 100 days in office would look like. The Minnesota representative said he would build ‘the most extraordinary bipartisan Cabinet in American history.’ ‘Maybe we will have a third of them on this spaces right now, guys,’s he added. As for other first 100 day priorities, Phillips also said he’d use ‘zero-based budgeting’ and hire an international consulting firm to conduct a ‘top-down assessment’ of the federal government.” • An international consulting firm? Hey, how about McKinsey?

“Field of bad dreams: Biden rival makes quip after no one turns up to 2024 event” [Guardian] (January 9). “Contemplating a New Hampshire campaign event to which not one voter showed up, the Minnesota congressman and Democratic presidential hopeful Dean Phillips told reporters on Tuesday: ‘Sometimes, if you build it, they don’t come.’… In Manchester, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, Phillips parked his ‘Government Repair Truck’ – a tested campaign prop – outside a Hilton hotel, planning to talk to voters while handing out Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, a staple for New Englanders, notably including Ben Affleck. Unfortunately, reports of sparsely or non-attended campaign events are a staple of presidential primary campaigns. According to NBC News, no one showed up to chat with Phillips in part because the temperature was below freezing, thereby sending drivers to an underground parking garage from which they could enter the hotel. Phillips ‘ended up pouring coffee for the staffers who were there’, NBC said, adding that the candidate made his Field of Dreams quip to reporters.” • So big deal. Politics ain’t beanbag. What a non-story.

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MI: “Biden struggling in Michigan as Trump grabs strong lead, poll shows” [Detroit News]. “[I]n a potential contest between Biden and Trump, who is facing a historic onslaught of criminal charges, 47% of likely voters said they preferred the Republican, while 39% selected Biden, an 8-point advantage for Trump, according to the survey with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points. In addition, 3% said they would vote for another candidate, and 11% said they were undecided. Trump’s lead over Biden widened to as much as 12 points when voters surveyed were given a list of third-party candidates. Biden, the current president, and Trump, the former president, are widely expected to emerge this year as their parties’ nominees…. ‘If I were a Democrat in Michigan, I would be breaking the emergency fire alarms in the White House and demanding to know what the plan is for Michigan,’ Czuba said. “Because these numbers are very bad for any incumbent of any party.” ….Those who gave Biden negative reviews were asked an open-ended question about why they had an unfavorable opinion of him. The most frequent answers were related to his age, his general level of competence and his mental competence with 41% of the responses connected to those topics…. The poll’s findings are warning signs for Michigan Democrats who’ve scored a series of political victories over the last six years and have taken control of state government.” • Apparently, Palestine didn’t show up in the open-ended question.

NH: “Haley says she won’t debate DeSantis in NH unless Trump participates” [Valley News]. “‘We’ve had five great debates in this campaign,’ Haley said in a statement, released as she campaigned in New Hampshire. ‘Unfortunately, Donald Trump has ducked all of them. He has nowhere left to hide. The next debate I do will either be with Donald Trump or with Joe Biden. I look forward to it.’” • Ouch!

PA: “The Democrat, the Fracking Executive and the Deal They Struck. Can It Work?” [Wall Street Journal]. “An unusual agreement between Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and a natural-gas driller could serve as a model for finding consensus over an issue that continues to divide much of the U.S.: fracking. … After he became governor, Shapiro said he spent months discussing the need for data from drilling operations with CNX Chief Executive Nick DeIuliis. CNX then pledged it would disclose the chemicals it uses in drilling, increase the distance between its drilling operations and residences and schools while it studies the data, and post data on air and water monitoring for the general public…. An independent company is now gathering some CNX data and sending it to state regulators and CNX, which is publishing it, enabling everyone to see the results of a company voluntarily tracking and disclosing information on its operations…. Besides temporarily increasing the minimum distance between wells and homes and schools, CNX will conduct water monitoring before and after drilling. It will give state regulators access to two drilling sites starting in February to conduct in-depth air studies. The company will also refrain from hiring former state environmental regulators for two years after they have left office, among other things. With those changes, the company is now voluntarily following most of the recommendations of the state grand-jury report that Shapiro oversaw as attorney general in 2020.” • Shapiro is said to have “political aspirations beyond the state”….

Republican Funhouse

“Key moderate Republican comes out in favor of impeaching Mayorkas, says he should be ‘tried for treason’” [FOX]. “Rep. John James, R-Mich., who represents a swing district that former President Donald Trump won by just 1% in 2020, told Fox News Digital that not only should Mayorkas be impeached but tried for treason as well. ‘Secretary Mayorkas must be impeached and tried for treason,’ he said. ‘Evidence will prove that Mayorkas’ sustained and willful betrayal of the public trust makes him an accessory to the poisoning of millions of Americans, complicit in a modern-day slave trade and so derelict in his duty to secure the homeland that it crosses unequivocally into the realm of high crimes and misdemeanors….’ ‘These are human beings we’re talking about. These are men and women. These are children,’ he said. ‘These are God’s creatures, who are being herded like cattle, like chattel, like, like animals, by these coyotes. And they’re being bought and sold to the tune of $32 million per week just in the Del Rio sector.’” • Poisoned how? Fentanyl? What am I missing here?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Left Behind” [The American Prospect]. “The white working class was once the backbone of the Democratic Party, and as late as 2008 gave Barack Obama 40 percent of their vote. In 2016, however, white working-class support for Hillary Clinton was just 28 percent. A comparable shift was seen among rural voters, who in 2008 gave Obama 45 percent of their votes, and in 2016 gave Clinton a bare 33 percent…. How did the worldviews of so many of these voters reverse so completely? These conundrums are only conundrums if we assume that it’s their worldviews, rather than their world, that have changed…. In assessing, then, the politics of rural America and the white working class today, what’s tipped it into Trumpism isn’t cultural rage, which has been an ever-present factor of varying intensities. It’s the economic abandonment of their towns and their livelihoods by American capital, and the decades of indifference to that abandonment shown by their governments.” Interestingly: “The most decisive change, as I’ve noted before, was the almost complete flight of capital from small-town and rural America. . Offshoring had begun to weaken their economies beginning in the early 1990s, but the shift to a postindustrial economy had been so accelerated and magnified by our trade policies that the economic world of much of the working class, and nearly all of it in rural areas, had been hollowed out by the time Donald Trump came down the escalator in Trump Tower. The one industry that did take root in these communities during these years was opioid distribution.” • Interesting to think of Trumpism as a conservative reaction to a capital strike in small-town and rural America.

“Security of Georgia’s Dominion voting machines put on trial” [CBS]. “A yearslong dispute over the security of Georgia’s elections and its voting machines came to a head Tuesday morning in an Atlanta courtroom. Opening statements began in the federal trial examining whether the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Georgia can be hacked or manipulated, making their use in elections unconstitutional. The case dates to 2017 and was filed by several voters and the Coalition for Good Governance against members of the State Election Board and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The plaintiffs say they’re not disputing any election results in Georgia, and their case is unrelated to the 2020 election and the defamation lawsuits brought by Dominion against Fox News and others. David Cross, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, laid out the case for banning Dominion touch-screen voting machines. In Georgia, once voters make their choices, the ballot is printed with their votes and a QR code. The QR code is ultimately what’s read and cast as the voter’s ballot. Plaintiffs want the state to revert to paper ballots because they say this will assure voters that their ballots are being counted correctly.” • I will never forgive Trump for bigfooting this issue and then butchering the job.

“The Iowa Pizza Chain That Explains How Our Politics Became So Dysfunctional” [Politico]. “Since the birth of both the caucuses and Pizza Ranch, both have nationalized. What struck me about my time at Pizza Ranches is how I never heard an Iowan ask a question with a local spin. They wanted to know about the candidate’s foreign policy, about their plans for the border, about whether Biden was a hologram. There weren’t any questions about biodiesel or ethanol subsidies or soybean prices. Forty-three years after the first Pizza Ranch opened, our fractured politics and society are visibly on display there — both in terms of direct political campaigning, but also the way political tribalism has seeped into so many aspects of our personal lives, with local communities and idiosyncrasies flattened along the way. In all my time eating alongside voters at the restaurants, I never met someone who described themselves as a Democrat.” • Lots of local color on Iowa, so well worth a read, but the central point goes beyond Iowa….


“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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Look for the Helpers

The top two examples are personal; read the (long) thread for the “political”:

Elite Maleficence

A tweet from the Cohen account:

I’m totally sure it’s authentically Mandy and not some intern because there’s no mention of non-pharmaceutical interventions.

The Jackpot

Stochastic eugenicism:

This is what I see coming, at least in the US, and I can’t for the life of me see what to do about it.

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Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, January 16:

Lambert here #3: Slight decrease in slope, due to the Northeast and the West (unless it’s a data issue). Personally, I wouldn’t call a peak, based entirely on the anecdotes I’m scrolling through, which are not encouraging, particularly with regard to the schools. Very unscientific, I agree! Let’s wait and see. Note that I don’t accept the PMC “homework” model, whose most famous exponent is Sociopath of the Day Bob Wachter, where you adjust your behavior according to multiple sources of (horrible, gappy, lagged) data about infection levels (ignoring “risk of ruin”). Just stick with your protocol day in and day out, my advice. K.I.S.S. However, tracking these trends, besides having intrinsic interest, is pragmatically useful for major decisions, like travel, cruises (surely not, readers), relocation, family events, communication with recalcitrant HCWs, etc.

Lambert #4: Looks like I was too pessimistic! (Of course, half the cases under the curve take place after the peak….)

Regional data:

Big decline in the Northeast!

• I’ve got a give credit to Hoerger; he called the peak early, but he did call it:


NOT UPDATED From CDC, January 6:

Lambert here: JN.1 now dominates. That was fast.

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, January 6:

Lambert: Down, but New Year’s reporting?

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. 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.


Bellwether New York City, data as of January 16:

Lambert here: Continued decrease!

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. January 6:

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?


From Walgreens, January 15:

-0.7%. (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.)

From Cleveland Clinic, January 13:

Lambert here: Percentage and absolute numbers down.

NOT UPDATED From CDC, traveler’s data, December 25:

Up, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, December 25:

Note the chart has been revised to reflect that JN.1 is BA.2.86.1 (the numbers “roll over”).


NOT UPDATED Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, January 6:

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The NY Empire State Manufacturing Index plunged to -43.7 in January 2024, the lowest reading since May 2020, signalling a sharp drop in manufacturing activity in the NY state.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 71 Greed (previous close: 70 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 71 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 16 at 1:52:12 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! • What are they waiting for? A red heifer?

The Gallery

Klimt? Reminds me of Whistler!

News of the Wired

“Niklaus Wirth, or the Importance of Being Simple” [Communications of the ACM]. “[Wirth] had a witty, subtle — sometimes caustic — humor. Here is a Niklaus Wirth story. On the seventh day of creation God looked at the result. (Side note: Wirth was an atheist, which adds spice to the choice of setting for the story.) He (God) was pretty happy about it. He started looking at the list of professions and felt good: all — policeman, minister, nurse, street sweeper, interior designer, opera singer, personal trainer, supermarket cashier, tax collector… — had some advantages and some disadvantages. But then He got to the University Professor row. The Advantages entry was impressive: long holidays, decent salary, you basically get to do what you want, and so on; but the Disadvantages entry was empty! Such a scandalous discrepancy could not be tolerated. For a moment, a cloud obscured His face. He thought and thought and finally His smile came back. At that point, He had created colleagues.”

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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 tennesseewaltzer:

Tennesseewaltzer writes: “Here is a roadside winter wonderland–this happens with snow and rain and freezing temperatures, which moderate to produce the icicles. Typically along a state thoroughfare cut through the local stone which undergirds so much of Middle Tennessee land.” I don’t think I can characterize water or stone as honorary plants, but this is a lovely winter scene, so herewith.

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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!

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