ECONOMY

2:00PM Water Cooler 2/6/2024 | naked capitalism

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Evening Grosbeak (type 2), Sattley; Sierra Nevada Field Campus, California, United States. “Background Sounds: Yuba River; Species Sound: frequent; Breeding Status: not territorial, not breeding?; Special Song Type: dawn?”

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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)

“‘Disenfranchisement and Chaos’: The Supreme Court Hears Pivotal Case on Whether Trump Is Eligible to Run for President” [Pro Publica]. “The 14th Amendment bans insurrectionists from serving as a ‘Senator or Representatives in Congress,’ ‘electors of President and Vice President,’ or in ‘any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State.’ There is no direct mention of the presidency. It applies to anyone who took the oath of office to defend the Constitution, including anyone who was “an officer of the United States.” One camp of legal scholars argues that it would be nonsensical and inconsistent with the intent of those who drafted the amendment to say that it excluded the presidency…. Other scholars say the omission of the presidency from the 14th Amendment is so glaring that it can be read as an intentional decision. ‘It’s very strange to name the Senate and House but not the president,’ said Derek Muller, a Notre Dame law professor, characterizing this position. ‘If you list a bunch of things and you omit one thing, you probably did it on purpose.’” And: “In an amicus brief in the Trump v. Anderson case, Hasen, Ohio State law professor Ned Foley and longtime Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg lay out a chilling scenario in which the court deferred to Congress [via Section Five] on the question of Trump’s eligibility. If Trump were to win the presidential election and Democrats were to win control of Congress, then those Democratic lawmakers could, in theory, vote to disqualify Trump in January 2025 if they believe he engaged in insurrection, as many Democrats have said they do. ‘What would it mean for a Democratic Congress to say, ‘Donald Trump can’t serve even though he won?” Hasen said. ‘To me, that’s a recipe for potential political violence.’” • So keep Trump off the ballot?

“Here’s how 2 sentences in the Constitution rose from obscurity to ensnare Donald Trump” [Associated Press]. “In the summer of 2020, Gerard Magliocca, like many during the coronavirus pandemic, found himself stuck inside with time on his hands. A law professor at Indiana University, Magliocca emailed with another professor, who was writing a book about overlooked parts of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. He decided he would research the history of two long-neglected sentences in the post-Civil War addition that prohibit those who ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion’ from holding office. Magliocca posted a copy of his research — which he believed was the first law journal article ever written about Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — online in mid-December of 2020, then revised and re-posted it on Dec. 29. Eight days later, President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of his loss to Joe Biden. Magliocca watched as Republicans such as Sens. Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney described the attack as an ‘insurrection.’ That night, Magliocca composed a quick post on a legal blog: ‘Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,’ he wrote, ‘might apply to President Trump.’… Once she had dried her tears after watching rioters storm the Capitol, Norma Anderson sat down with one of the multiple copies of the Constitution she keeps around her house in the Denver suburbs and reread the 14th Amendment. ‘I made the connection,’ Anderson, now 91, said in an interview. Anderson is a former Republican leader of Colorado’s General Assembly and state Senate, and eventually would become the lead plaintiff in the case now before the Supreme Court… Anderson didn’t yet have the chance to spread the word beyond her own circle, but in the days after Jan. 6, thanks to scholars such as Magliocca and the University of Maryland law professor whose book project had inspired him, Mark Graber, Section 3 started its slow emergence from obscurity…. It took months before the first mention of Section 3 in a public document. Free Speech For People, a Massachusetts-based liberal nonprofit, sent letters to top election officials in all 50 states in June 2021, warning them not to place Trump on the ballot should he run again in 2024 because he had violated the provision.” • I’m not 100% confident in the timeline (or the intellectual history) My recollection — granted, the events were four years ago — was that Democrats began framing the Capitol riot as an insurrection rapidly; certainly within a week of the event; perhaps the Transition Integrity* Project, which gamed out the 2020 election, had insurrection as one possibility, so the idea was “in the air”? (The report contemplates Trump invoking the “Insurrection Act,” interestingly.) Readers? NOTE * The participant list is pretty amazing. “Never eat at a place called ‘Mom’s.’”

The Constitutional Order (Invasion)

“Goofy ‘God’s Army’ convoy on Texas border shows Trump’s MAGA movement is just one long con” [USA Today]. Opinion. “A much-ballyhooed convoy of MAGA patriots descended on a town near the southern border, ostensibly ready to protect America from what right-wing politicians like Gov. Greg Abbott cynically, dangerously and falsely call ‘an invasion.’ The ‘God’s Army’ convoy was supposed to be a mighty force of 700,000 or more people from every corner of America. It wound up being maybe a couple hundred vehicles parked at a rural ranch in Quemado, Texas – basically a Trump rally without a Trump, but with plenty of hucksters selling MAGA merch and grifting the easily grifted. Some actually visited the border in nearby Eagle Pass, Texas, and were surprised to not witness the invasion they had been promised. Convoy-goer Misty Gregory told MSNBC: ‘It’s not what I expected, but then again I don’t know what I expected. I can tell you it’s not as bad as what I thought, so that’s kind of eye-opening in itself.’” Ah! A Trump-supporting Bayesian! Whatever this convoy is, it’s not “a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants” (to quote Robert Paxton).

Biden Administration

Hmm:

So the labor market is safe, then?

Our Famously Free Press

Good. O’Keefe was always a creep:

2024

Less than a year to go!

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“Trump is not immune from prosecution in his 2020 election interference case, US appeals court says” [Associated Press]. “A federal appeals panel ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump can face trial on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, sharply rejecting the former president’s claims that he is immune from prosecution while setting the stage for additional challenges that could further delay the case. The ruling is significant not only for its stark repudiation of Trump’s novel immunity claims but also because it breathes life back into a landmark prosecution that had been effectively frozen for weeks as the court considered the appeal. Yet the one-month gap between when the court heard arguments and issued its ruling has already created uncertainty about the timing of a trial in a calendar-jammed election year, with the judge overseeing the case last week canceling the initial March 4 date. Trump’s team vowed to appeal, which could postpones the case by weeks or months — particularly if the Supreme Court agrees to take it up. The judges gave Trump a week to ask the Supreme Court to get involved.” And: “‘Presidential immunity against federal indictment would mean that, as to the President, the Congress could not legislate, the Executive could not prosecute and the Judiciary could not review. We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter,’ the judges wrote.”

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“Conventional wisdom said Trump couldn’t win in 2016. This historian’s ‘keys’ said he would. What are those keys telling us today?” [Morningstar]. “Biden holds an edge this November based on American University professor Allan Lichtman’s analysis of 13 historical predictors [see here]. Recent polling news has been very promising for Donald Trump. But with nine months still to go in the presidential race, American University professor Allan Lichtman says Joe Biden holds an edge according to the historical ‘keys’ to victory. For now, anyway. Five of the 13 historical predictors of victory favor Biden, while three favor Trump, and the rest are still up for grabs, Lichtman told MarketWatch in an interview.” Lichtman has form: “At one notable moment in recent history, the ‘keys’ predicted Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016 – against all the conventional wisdom and most polling.” And: “One of the most fascinating aspects of these so-called keys to the White House is that they give you an intriguing view of the battleground for the election. An eruption of major social unrest (such as in 1968 or 2020) would be a negative for Biden (Key No. 8). So would be a strong third-party campaign, as in, say, 1980 (John Anderson), 2000 (Ralph Nader) and 2016 (Jill Stein). So would be a major scandal hitting the administration (Key No. 9).” • Lichtman expects to make a call in August. Note that the keys currently up for grabs (“social unrest”, “third party”, “scandal”) all fall into the volatility bucket, unlike (say), “an incumbent running for re-election (Key No. 3).”

“The Political Perils of Democrats’ Rose-Colored Glasses” [Stanley Greenberg, The American Prospect]. “The elite cheer that inflation has come down to 3.5 percent is itself the problem. Why don’t voters want to thank President Biden and embrace the economists who won the debate? But what does 3.5 percent mean? It means that the rate of increase in prices is still much higher than it was under prior presidents. Prices haven’t gone down. Prices are still 17 percent higher than before the pandemic and 20 percent higher for a basket of groceries…. Gallup released its monthly economic confidence poll, with the headline ‘Economic Mood Improves, but Inflation Still Vexing Americans.’ It’s the Democrats who are responsible for the improvement. But the percentage who rate the economy as ‘poor’ is 45 percent—barely changed from the previous month. And critically, there has been no change in the 63 percent who think “high prices pose a severe or moderate financial hardship.’ Krugman and others just ignore the fact that the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is 20 points lower than when Trump was president. The Gallup poll reports its findings under the title ‘Economic Confidence Improves to Highest Level in Two Years, but Still Low.’ This inflationary period, produced by the pandemic and the Ukraine war, has left the average family exhausted after 30 months of covering the monthly bills. Right now, in every country where I look at surveys, high prices are the top problem.” • Dunno if I accept that explanation for “this inflationary period.” Prices go up because firms raise them. A diametrically opposed view–

“Biden is quietly narrowing the race against Trump, but challenges lie ahead” [The Hill]. “Evidence is beginning to emerge that Biden has at the very least, stabilized the race and that the ‘Trump surge’ has cooled off. Biden appears to have either narrowed Trump’s lead, or even taken the lead in at least some critical swing states, including Pennsylvania, where Biden holds a 1 point lead (43 percent to 42 percent), per Franklin & Marshall College, and Wisconsin, where Fox News polling shows a virtual tie. Likewise, a national Quinnipiac poll shows President Biden leading by 6 points (50 percent to 44 percent). While certainly an outlier, when all of these polls are netted out, it is clear that, while Trump likely has a slim lead nationally and in a handful of swing states, Biden can make a credible argument that the race is considerably narrower than just a few months ago. Why is this happening? There are several reasons. First, the economy continues to improve with the International Monetary Fund projecting a ‘soft landing’ last week. Further, inflation continues to moderate, the job market remains robust — the country added 353,000 jobs last month — and the good news about the economy is beginning to settle in among voters. In a major win for the Biden administration, The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index reported consumers are 27 percent more optimistic about the ‘short run’ outlook for business conditions and 14 percent more optimistic about their finances. This is due, in major part, to salary increases beginning to outpace inflation, easing the burden on everyday Americans.” • “27 percent more” is not an absolute number….

“President Biden’s job approval rating is abysmal. Here’s why he might beat Trump anyway” [Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times]. “For decades, successful presidential and congressional candidates followed the rule that you swing to your party’s liberal or conservative base in the primary election and then tack back to the center in the general election. Barack Obama largely ignored that rule, and Trump really ignored it, without repercussions. And most House and Senate candidates now ignore that rule. That’s because the electorate has sorted to the point where the real challenge to incumbency is usually in primaries, not generals. As a result, candidates increasingly rely on turning out their base rather than persuading voters in the middle. This points to one reason approval ratings may not matter as much anymore. In a polarized electorate, most people vote against the other party more than they vote for their own. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that among voters who dislike both candidates, Biden has a commanding 13-point lead. If that holds, it could be all the president needs.”

“Biden torched for claiming that he recently met with dead former President of France: ‘Not a healthy sign’” [FOX]. “Biden told an audience in Las Vegas on Sunday about a meeting he had with French President Emmanuel Macron during a G7 meeting in England after he had already assumed the presidency. ‘I sat down and I said, ‘America’s back,” Biden recalled. ‘And Mitterrand from Germany – I mean from France – looked at me and said…’… François Mitterrand was France’s president between 1981 and 1995. He died in 1996. Biden appeared to trail off before collecting his thoughts to finish the sentence: ‘Well, how long are you back for?’” • Mitterrand’s English is remarkably idiomatic….

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Speaking of the youth vote:


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Straw in the wind?


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NV: “Biden warns of a ‘nightmare’ future for the country if Trump should win again, and lists reasons why” [Associated Press]. “In Tuesday’s Nevada Democratic presidential primary, Biden faces only token opposition from author Marianne Williamson and a few relatively unknown challengers [Dean Phillips]. He won Nevada in November 2020 by fewer than 3 percentage points. But he came to Nevada to rouse voters for the fall campaign as well…. The state known largely for its casino and hospitality industries is synonymous with split-ticket, hard-to-predict results. It has a transient, working-class population and large Latino, Filipino and Chinese American and Black communities . Nevada has a stark rural-urban divide, with more than 88% of active registered voters — and much of its political power — in the two most populous counties, which include the Las Vegas and Reno metro areas…. But early signs show Biden could have more ground to make up than in past races. Voters are largely dissatisfied with the likely Biden-Trump rematch. A New York Times/Siena poll from November put Biden’s approval rating at 36% in Nevada…. Dan Lee, an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that for Biden, ‘the map says he has to hold on to Nevada.’”

NV: “In Las Vegas, Biden Promotes Promises Kept to Black and Hispanic Voters” [New York Times]. “Nevada will hold its Democratic primary on Tuesday, the party’s second official nominating contest after South Carolina. But Mr. Biden faces scant opposition here. One long-shot challenger, Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota — who finished third in South Carolina on Saturday, behind the self-help author Marianne Williamson — will not even be on the ballot. Instead, Mr. Biden made his trip on Sunday with an eye to the general election. Although Nevada has voted for Democrats in every presidential election since 2008, including for Mr. Biden in 2020, it remains a swing state with a recently elected Republican governor. In November, a New York Times/Siena poll found that Mr. Biden was trailing Mr. Trump by 10 points in Nevada.”

NV: “Why Nevada Has Two Dueling GOP Nominating Contests This Week” [Slate]. “This week, it’s Nevada Republicans’ turn to choose their party’s presidential nominee. The process is simple. On Tuesday, they go to the polls and vote for a candidate. Oh, except the candidate most of them want, Donald Trump, will not be on the ballot, which has led to mass confusion. Nikki Haley will be on the ballot, though. So will ‘none of the above.’ Oh, and there are no delegates at stake in this primary. To have their votes matter, Nevada Republicans will have to participate in Thursday’s party-run caucus, in which Trump will be an option but Haley won’t.” • Sounds worse than Iowa 2000!

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“The states that matter in 2024” [ Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call]. “This column is about the nine states that in November will decide (1) the presidential contest, (2) the fight for the Senate, and (3) the fight for control of the House of Representatives…. Three Great Lakes states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin) and three Southern/Sunbelt toss-ups (Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada) are likely to pick the next president of the United States. Donald Trump carried five of the six states in 2016 (losing only Nevada), while Joe Biden carried all six four years later. The margins in all those states, in both 2016 and 2020, were extremely narrow, and most nonpartisan handicappers expect they will be close again this November. Two other states are worth watching but aren’t likely to be as crucial: New Hampshire (carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020) and North Carolina (carried by Trump twice). Two states that divide their Electoral College votes by congressional district (Maine and Nebraska) merit your attention, as well. But none of those states come close to being as decisive as the Big Six.” • Also the Senate and the House. It would be nice government remained divided…

Spook Country

“Homeland Security Cited Inaccurate Allegation to Censor New York Times Journalist” [RealClearInvestigations]. “As the 2020 Election Day count dragged on into the next morning in the crucial swing state of Wisconsin, the New York Times campaign reporter Reid Epstein reported a hiccup at 4:52 a.m.: ‘Green Bay’s absentee ballot results are being delayed because one of the vote-counting machines ran out of ink and an elections official had to return to City Hall to get more.’ Eight minutes later Epstein sent a follow-up tweet giving the all-clear: ‘Clerk has returned with printer ink!’ This tiny drama from Wednesday, Nov. 4, would be lost to history but for the deep consternation it ignited among influential members of the government and tech industry. Details uncovered in the Twitter Files and revealed here for the first time show that Epstein’s tweet prompted immediate and mostly successful speech suppression efforts by the Department of Homeland Security and others who were intent on undermining any facts or claims that might possibly be used to question the integrity of the 2020 election…. Epstein’s tweet set off immediate alarm bells in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. At 5:11 a.m., 19 minutes after Epstein’s first tweet, an election clerk from another part of the state, Rachel Rodriguez, disputed the Times’ reporting on Twitter: ‘I’m very familiar with the ballot scanners Green Bay uses,” wrote Rodriguez. ‘There’s no ink involved.’ Four minutes later, at 5:15 a.m., the official Twitter account of the Wisconsin Elections Commission retweeted Rodriguez’s post commenting, ‘Rachel is correct.’ Except she was not. Although most of Green Bay’s voting machines did not use ink – the DS200, the primary vote-counting machine, relied on thermal tape – that year, there was another machine involved. Local officials, in expectation of higher turnout for the heated presidential race and newly eased rules concerning absentee ballots, opted to additionally use the DS450, a high-speed tabulator that prints results through an external ink-jet printer.” However: “CIS quickly elevated the tweet in a ‘Misinformation Report’ sent to officials at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the DHS sub-agency with a focus on policing social media. Brian Scully, a DHS official with CISA who then led a task force on ‘countering foreign influence,’ attached a screenshot of the Epstein tweet and sent it to Twitter along with a note that claimed the ‘tweet alleges tabulation machine ran out of ink which caused delay in counting absentee ballots – there is no ink involved in tabulation machine (Green Bay, WI).’” • Clowns with hairtrigger trouble.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Sirota’s right:

But dance with the one that brung ya!

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Shot:

Chaser:


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“‘A Strategic Mistake on the Part of My Party’: A Top Dem Speaks Out on the Border” [Politico]. Rep. Veronica Escobar: “This is the toughest domestic policy issue that we are facing today.” • Not, of course, Covid, which has killed a million people and rising.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“No Labels files DOJ complaint about groups boycotting its 2024 presidential ballot access effort” [CBS]. From January: “‘We have set forth substantial evidence and allege that based on that evidence, there is a group of activists and artists [(!!)] and party officials who have participated in alleged illegal conspiracy to use intimidation, harassment and fear against representatives of no labels, its donors and as potential candidates, [No Labels leader and lawyer Dan Webb] said. The political group said in the 11-page complaint that it’s ‘one thing to oppose candidates who are running; it’s another to use intimidation to prevent them from even getting in front of the voters.’…. One of the incidents mentioned in the complaint alleges the former finance director for the Democratic Party and a representative of the Lincoln Project Melissa Moss allegedly threatened the ‘financial future’ of No Labels co-founder and board member Holly Page. ‘You have no idea of the forces aligned against you. You will never be able to work in Democratic politics again,’ the letter claims Moss told Page.” Six ways from Sunday… More: “The complaint also cites Matt Bennett, co-founder the center-left think tank Third Way, alleging he hosted meetings with several House and Senate chiefs of staff to raise concerns about No Labels’ effort by calling it a ‘dangerous and bad idea.’” Tsk! More: “In another meeting with neo-conservative Bill Kristol and Third Way supporters, No Labels claims that Bennett ‘encouraged’ participants “to identify any No Labels staff, donors, vendors and potential candidates to pressure them into withdrawing their support and/or even their relationship with No Labels.’” • All this is standard operating procedure for Democrats since at least 2000 (Nader); see Taibbi here for a good rant. Readers will also recall the Flexians at the DCCC, which blacklisted consultants and operatives working “insurgents.” I can’t find a copy of the complaint — readers? — but absent a theory of the case (RICO?), I’m inclined to file this story under “politics ain’t beanbag.”

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“Are Americans Headed Toward a Civil War?” [The American Conservative]. “Such questions are brought to mind by a book published back in 1998, Kevin Phillips’ The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America. That volume connects three conflicts, the impacts of which were felt strongly on both sides of the Atlantic: the English Civil War of the 17th century, the American Revolution of the 18th century, and the American Civil War of the 19th century…. The stern motif of The Cousins’ Wars is…wars. As he wrote, the three wars in his chronicle have been ‘the central staircase’ of Anglo-American history. Lest anyone miss his point, he added, ‘Bloodshed…is to lasting electoral arrangements what carbon has been to steel.’ The point: Sometimes conflicts are so deep that they simply can’t be resolved through peaceable means.” And: “As Phillips writes, history is not made by class, it’s made by clash. That is, the conflict of one group against another, which can include rich against rich and poor against poor.” Class is “clash,” ffs. And: “Will we, in fact, have a fourth Cousins’ War? To be sure, both sides, Red and Blue, cite a long train of abuses, and without a doubt we have an upcoming crazy train of elections and the inevitable disputes. Yet the Anglo-Saxons were always good at better angel-ing; they might have fought like the dickens, but in the end they stopped well short of outright annihilation and permanent vendettas. So let’s pray that post-WASP America can summon up the same spirit of pragmatism, updating the Puritan dream of a city upon a hill with a new vision: two cities upon the hill.” • Hmm.

#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!

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Immune Dysregulation

“Hundreds of exposures possible from local measles case that traveled through busy regional airport” [WHIO]. “On Monday, the Ohio Department of Health announced the potential for measles exposure at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport…. The case was initially identified in a child who was evaluated at Dayton Children’s Hospital in the main campus Emergency Department on Jan. 29 and Jan. 31. ‘During the time of exposure where the individual was being evaluated, there were 232 other children, they’re being evaluated as well,’ Medical Director Becky Thomas, Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County said…. Thomas said the lack of vaccinations [thanks, Junior] since the pandemic coupled with traveling, has created recent measles outbreaks in the country, when it was once considered to be eliminated nationwide in 2000.” • But why now? ‘Tis a mystery! (If Yves is right and Boeing is indeed being pillaged and burned liquidated, perhaps that’s a good thing; less air travel means less infection, as Taleb pointed out, one month into the pandemic.

Minimizers, chanting in chorus:

Denial and Cope

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent:

Science Is Popping

“Viral afterlife: SARS-CoV-2 as a reservoir of immunomimetic peptides that reassemble into proinflammatory supramolecular complexes” [PNAS]. From the Abstract: “At present, there are no criteria to evaluate whether a coronavirus can cause pandemics with severe inflammation or just common colds. We provide a possible answer by considering the virus not only as an infectious agent but as a reservoir of replicated peptide motifs that are not themselves pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) that specifically bind to pattern recognition receptors but are nevertheless capable of drastic immune amplification via self-assembly with PAMPs. We show evidence that viral peptide fragments from SARS-CoV-2 but not harmless coronavirus homologs can ‘reassemble’ with dsRNA into a form of proinflammatory nanocrystalline condensed matter, resulting in cooperative, multivalent immune recognition and grossly amplified inflammatory responses.” And: “Results presented here indicate that there exist intrinsically proinflammatory sequences found in the SARS-CoV-2 proteome that are not found in common cold coronavirus homologs, sequences that strongly activate immune responses in a broad range of cell and tissue types connected to disease states in multiple systems.” • Perhaps a Brain Trust member will comment! Here is the press release–

“Viral protein fragments may unlock mystery behind serious COVID-19 outcomes” (press release) [Eurekalert]. And the deck: “‘Zombie’ virus fragments continue to cause inflammation after the virus is destroyed.” More: “Using an artificial intelligence system they developed, the study authors scanned the entire collection of proteins produced by SARS-CoV-2 and then performed an exhaustive series of validation experiments. The scientists found that certain viral protein fragments, generated after the SARS-CoV-2 virus is broken down into pieces, can mimic a key component of the body’s machinery for amplifying immune signals. Their discoveries suggest that some of the most serious COVID-19 outcomes can result from these fragments overstimulating the immune system, thereby causing rampant inflammation in widely different contexts such as cytokine storms and lethal blood coagulation…. ‘We saw that the various forms of debris from the destroyed virus can reassemble into these biologically active ‘zombie’ complexes,” Wong said. ‘It is interesting that the human peptide being imitated by the viral fragments has been implicated in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and lupus, and that different aspects of COVID-19 are reminiscent of these autoimmune conditions….” • The press release is written in English, and it’s worth a slow and careful read. Another summary–

“”Zombie” COVID particles may be responsible for lethal disease” [The New Atlas]. “An impressive new study led by researchers from UCLA is offering a novel hypothesis to explain SARS-CoV-2 severity. Using an AI-driven machine-learning system the researchers discovered SARS-CoV-2 is broken down into fragments in a human body, and this viral debris can uniquely resemble endogenous peptides that overstimulate the immune system. This may play a significant role in the strange variable severity of disease from person to person. ‘The textbooks tell us that after the virus is destroyed, the sick host ‘wins,’ and different pieces of virus can be used to train the immune system for future recognition,’ says corresponding author Gerald Wong. But the story of a virus isn’t exactly as simple as that. After a virus is neutralized by the immune system it is rapidly broken down, or dissolved, into tiny fragments. It has generally been assumed this stage of viral degradation was innocuous, but recent research has suggested some of these smaller viral fragments could trigger innate immune responses that account for severe disease associated with hyper inflammation.” • Worth a read too!

Elite Maleficence

“Rampant COVID Poses New Challenges in the Fifth Year of the Pandemic” [Scientific American]. “What’s it like emotionally to be so deep in trying to understand and respond to the pandemic? It’s pretty incredible. I mean, I can’t believe we’re entering year five of COVID. There are some massive mental health impacts, globally, that we’re not dealing with. I’m dealing with my own, which I’m only now starting to reflect upon. I didn’t give it a chance—I didn’t have the opportunity to give time to it—but now I’m actually taking some time because this is not normal. The COVID pandemic was not normal. This amount of death is not normal. It didn’t have to be this way.”• Idea: Stop recommending policies that infect people–

“Updated WHO COVID prevention guidance may endanger rather than protect, some experts say” [Center for Disease Research and Policy]. Sounds like John Conly, droplet goon, still controls WHO:

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) newly updated COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines purport to protect healthcare workers, patients, and the community, but some experts say they may encourage risky behavior by propagating long-disproven ideas about how viruses spread. “I think they put healthcare workers and patients and the community at significant risk,” said Lisa Brosseau, ScD, CIH, an expert on respiratory protection and infectious diseases and a CIDRAP research consultant. One of the main problems, said Raina Macintyre, MBBS, PhD, professor and head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute in Sydney, Australia, is that the document doesn’t incorporate many of the lessons learned during the pandemic—such as the major role of COVID-19 spread among people with no symptoms. “The guidelines suggest using symptoms to screen people,” she said via email. “This is seen in health guidelines in many countries—emphasis on symptoms (‘wear a mask if you feel unwell’), when we know a substantial proportion of transmission is asymptomatic, which is a major rationale for universal masking in high-transmission settings.” Similarly, David Michaels, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist and professor at George Washington University School of Public Health and a former administrator at the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), said the guidelines don’t directly address the modes of COVID-19 transmission. “I was very disappointed,” he told CIDRAP News, referring to the WHO’s adherence to what he calls “droplet dogma,’” or the misguided belief that SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly through droplets rather than aerosols. “It hasn’t fully recognized the concept that this novel coronavirus is airborne.”

Four years in, and here we are. WHO’s scientists remind me of those good Germans who just couldn’t understand where all that smoke was coming from. Obviously, WHO should never be entrusted with anything, and that includes their precious pandemic treaty, and if the wingers kill that off, good for them.

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I hate not only the compliance, but the complicity that follows the compliance:

Cf. Luke 17:1-2.

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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 comfortably if some positivity figures were up, too. 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] “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 aligns with wastewater data.

[6] “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] -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.)

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

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

Stats Watch

Economic Optimism: “United States Economic Optimism Index” [Trading Economics]. “The RealClearMarkets/TIPP Economic Optimism Index in the US fell to 44 in February 2024 from 44.7 in January, well below forecasts of 47.2. The Personal Financial Outlook, a measure of how Americans feel about their own finances in the next six months, dropped to 53.4 from 55 and confidence in Federal Economic Policies, which measures views on the effectiveness of government economic policies, declined to 39 from 39.8. On the other hand, the Six-Month Economic Outlook, which measures how consumers perceive the economy’s prospects in the next six months, improved to 39.6 from 39.3 in January. Meanwhile, optimism among investors slid 10.2% to 49.3 while it gained among non-investors by 5.1% to 41.3.”

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Real Estate: “Lease Expirations and CRE Property Performance” (PDF) [Federal Reserve Bank of Boston]. “Overall, [Commercial Real Estate (CRE)] lease expirations during the pandemic have so far had only modestly larger effects on occupancy or income compared with the period before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, for office properties, the predicted effect of lease expirations on occupancy increased by about one-half during the pandemic, and the predicted effect on NOI rose by about one-third…. These effects vary substantially across localities…. Relative to global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) and nonbank CRE lenders, regional and community banks have lower concentrations of office lending in CBDs and areas with a greater shift to remote work.” • Hmm. Perhaps real estate mavens in the readership can comment.

The Bezzle: “Real identity of Bitcoin founder ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ could FINALLY be revealed in court…and may unlock £36billion fortune” [The Sun]. “A UK court will now decide if Craig Wright, 54, is the mysterious, anonymous crypto-king who disappeared from the internet over a decade ago…. For years now, Wright has unsuccessfully claimed to be the legendary Nakamoto and has dragged various naysayers through the courts in an attempt to be legally recognised as Bitcoin’s creator… Wright has also failed to provide the private keys — a secure code consisting of a hexadecimal string of numbers and letters — that would finally unlock the 1.1million Bitcoins mined by Nakamoto. He told a Norwegian court in 2022 that he had destroyed the computer hard drive that held the keys.” • Wait, what?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 73 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 6 at 2:26:21 PM ET.

Class Warfare

“Employers want to fire workers without getting shamed on TikTok” [Bloomberg]. “Videos of disastrous layoffs accumulating on TikTok are prompting companies to seek help in delivering the bad news. More people are sharing intimate details and recordings from workplace conversations that used to transpire behind closed doors. TikToks about getting laid off are now routinely dissected in public — from CEOs’ mea culpa memos to awkwardly timed announcements and the precise intonation used by human resources managers. Fear of social-media backlash has executives, especially from smaller tech firms that don’t have big HR operations, looking for advice on how to lay people off without it blowing up in their faces… While the overall jobs market data remains robust, big job cuts are nonetheless showing up in a slew of industries to start the year, most notably in tech, where several of America’s largest employers are nixing hundreds or thousands of positions. United Parcel Service Inc. also announced last week that it will slash 12,000 management jobs, and Citigroup Inc. has said it plans to eliminate 20,000 roles by 2026.” • I so don’t want to go on TikTok. Do I have to?

“Labor board regional official clears way for Dartmouth hoops union” [ESPN]. “A National Labor Relations Board regional official ruled on Monday that Dartmouth basketball players are employees of the school, clearing the way for an election that would create the first labor union for NCAA athletes. All 15 members of the Dartmouth men’s basketball team signed a petition in September asking to join Local 560 of the Service Employees International Union, which already represents some other employees at the Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire. Unionizing would allow the players to negotiate not only over salary but working conditions, including practice hours and travel. ‘Because Dartmouth has the right to control the work performed by the Dartmouth men’s basketball team, and the players perform that work in exchange for compensation, I find that the petitioned-for basketball players are employees within the meaning of the (National Labor Relations) Act,’ NLRB Regional Director Laura Sacks wrote.” • Awsome!

“McDonald’s CEO promises ‘affordability’ amid backlash over $18 Big Mac combos, $6 hash browns” [New York Post]. • If you want an operational definition of a dystopia, eighteen bucks for a Big Mac is a pretty good start.

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Rule #2:

News of the Wired

“These Paintings Reveal How the Dutch Adapted to Extreme Weather During the Little Ice Age” [Smithsonian]. “Even artworks that don’t center on climate anomalies can offer clues about the [Little Ice Age (LIA)]. Scholars have used paintings of Venice’s historic architecture to track rising sea levels by comparing the positions of algal bands along the buildings’ walls then and now. A 2010 study of a 1571 painting by Paolo Veronese, who likely employed a camera obscura to ensure proportional accuracy, concluded that the sea level outside of the Coccina family’s palace was roughly 30 inches lower at the time than it is at present.” • So I guess Instagram is good for something.

The past is not dead (and hoping resolution is sufficient):

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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 TH:

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