2:00PM Water Cooler 4/18/2022 | naked capitalism


By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

I think I will try for a week of Lyre Birds. (They are videos, too, but I can’t find one of Lyrebird courtship display.)

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Politics

“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Biden Adminstration

Another enormous success for Biden’s Vax-Only policy:

Doctors are influencers, after all. They probably think that aerosols are the result of aerosol-generaling procedures in hospital.

“Who lost Biden’s agenda? Democrats offer competing theories for failure of ‘Build Back Better’” [NBC]. “There is now a quiet effort underway to pass some version of the president’s agenda under a legislative process known as reconciliation, which allows Democrats to circumvent Republican opposition and pass a bill along party lines. Officials said Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, and Louisa Terrell, the White House director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, are having conversations with Democrats on Capitol Hill. That effort, however, has hardly been central for Congress so far this year, as the focus has been on Russia’s war in Ukraine, funding the government and confirming a Supreme Court nominee. Democrats also expect to pass the CHIPS Act, to bolster the domestic production of computer circuitry, and an election security measure in coming weeks. And officials are quick to argue that even without Build Back Better, the president’s legislative accomplishments are significant — from $1.9 trillion in Covid relief to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill.” • Oh no, an “election security measure.”

“A Biden Blood Bath?” [Charles Blow, New York Times]. “Poor messaging may contribute to the problem, but I think the problem is more on ground level, a gut level: How do people feel? They feel stuck and angry, they’re tired and overwhelmed, and that energy is being directed at Biden…. Poor messaging may contribute to the problem, but I think the problem is more on ground level, a gut level: How do people feel? They feel stuck and angry, they’re tired and overwhelmed, and that energy is being directed at Biden…. All the while, two major perennial issues are resurgent: crime and the economy.” • Agreement seems to be universal that a million dead in a pandemic and a proxy war with a nuclear power aren’t “issues.” Which is fine, I suppose, since the parties don’t think they’re issues either.

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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2022

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MN: “With An Attempt To Unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota House Race Sets Up A Contest On Policing” [The Intercept]. “FOR THE SECOND cycle in a row, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is facing a serious primary challenger. Former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels announced Thursday that his campaign had raised $350,000 in the month since its launch, with 75 percent in contributions under $100 and $320,000 cash on hand. Omar’s fundraising has been slower, pulling in $275,000 in the first quarter with an average donation of $13, with a total of $500,000 on hand. The Minneapolis primary will focus heavily on the question of policing. Over the past two years, the first count in the party establishment’s indictment of its progressive wing has been the push to “defund the police,” with President Joe Biden explicitly targeting the slogan during his State of the Union address and following it up with an infusion of cash for cops…. Almost two years ago, amid calls to reform the Minneapolis Police Department after cops there killed George Floyd, Samuels, who also served on the city’s school board, and his wife, Sondra, took on a new cause: In August 2020, they sued the city to hire more than 100 additional cops.” • Includes plenty of juicy detail on Samuels, like “got an envelope … with a couple grand.” The segment on the hot dog vendors is also good.

OH: “Nina Turner in the Democratic primary for the 11th Congressional District” [Cleveland.com]. “With some bumps along the way, and considering how recently she was elected, Brown has conducted herself reasonably well, shown relish for the job and a commitment to important Democratic issues like voting rights reform — although she should step down as party chair. But a fighter is what Greater Cleveland needs in Congress, especially with the strong possibility of a GOP takeover of the House. And a principled and focused fighter is what Greater Cleveland will get in Nina Turner.”

OH: “Oil Mogul Bankrolls Attempt To Buy Democratic Primary” [Lever News]. “One month after Samson Energy mogul Stacy Schusterman poured $2 million into DMFI PAC, the group purchased TV ads starting Monday to boost Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Ohio) in her primary campaign rematch against former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner in a newly redrawn Cleveland congressional district. The primary election date is May 3. Last year, DMFI PAC spent $1.9 million attacking Turner and promoting Brown, helping the latter win the seat in a special election. The group also spent $1.4 million attacking Sanders during his 2020 campaign…. Schusterman chairs Oklahoma-based Samson Energy, whose website describes it as a company that ‘was formed to allow the Schusterman family to remain in the oil and gas exploration and production business following their sale of Samson Investment Company in 2011.’ The company has been one of the country’s largest per-well emitters of greenhouse gas emissions.”

PA:

This is the second time I’ve seen Biden give Fetterman a hand (the first was a photo op in Pittsburgh after the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse). I don’t see stuff like this happending for that little twerp Conor Lamb. Not sure what’s going on here.

2024

“Kamala Harris keeps traveling to unconventional places. Here’s why.” [Politico]. “The swing to Greenville is part of an under noticed strategy for the VP’s office, one in which she’s homed her focus on the ways in which administration policy is intersecting with overlooked communities. It’s brought her to other far-off, non-traditional locales, including a recent swing to Sunset, Louisiana, a rural town of fewer than 3,000 people, to tout the administration’s work expanding rural broadband. And it’s manifested itself in the ways in which she’s approached some of the White House’s big-ticket items. Weeks after the bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed into law, Harris convened a briefing with administration officials to go over the part of the bill related to charging stations for electric vehicles — an interest that had animated her dating back to her time in California politics. As staff went from page to page of the briefing document, she peppered them with questions. How would 500,000 charging stations be built and distributed? Who would build them? What would it mean for overlooked communities? ‘[She said] ‘Talk to me about a community that has been left behind, a rural community. Where are they going to go? How are they going to get put there?’ Mitch Landrieu, senior adviser to the president, recounted to POLITICO. ‘Now talk to me about an urban neighborhood that has been left behind where people are renting.” A month later, she was in Brandywine, Maryland, a majority Black city — though not exactly a locality at the vanguard of electoral politics — talking about EV stations and announcing the administration’s plan to make sure its charging network made it to communities like theirs. ‘It’s not necessarily that we’re going to win Mississippi or Louisiana, but it makes a difference in people knowing that they’re seen and they’re heard.’ The electoral benefits of going to remote communities in non-swing states seem decidedly limited for those in the Beltway, especially at a time when the White House is trying to turn around its polling nosedive and gain praise for the state of the jobs market. But administration officials contend that the symbolism of a vice presidential trip matters, and that when it’s tied with some larger announcement, it has a clear downstream upside.” • A “downstream upside.” Or maybe they send Harris to small places because she’s not ready for the big leagues.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The End of Progressive Intellectual Life” [Michael Lind, The Tablet]. “The space to the left-of-center that was once filled with magazines and organizations devoted to what Diana Trilling called the “life of significant contention” is now filled by the ritualized gobbledygook of foundation-funded, single-issue nonprofits like a pond choked by weeds…. It is not surprising that the written output of this billionaire-funded bureaucratic apparatus tends to read like an NGO word salad with crunchy croutons in the form of acronyms that stud post-intellectual progressive discourse: DEI, CRT, AAPI, BIPOC, LGBTQ+. Wokespeak is Grantspeak….Meanwhile, in one area of public policy or politics after another, Progressivism Inc. has shut down debate on the center left through its interlocking networks of program officers, nonprofit functionaries, and editors and writers, all of whom can move with more or less ease between these roles during their careers as bureaucratic functionaries whose salaries are ultimately paid by America’s richest families and individuals. The result is a spectacularly well-funded NGO-sphere whose intellectual depth and breadth are contracting all the time….. Who decides what is and is not permissible for American progressives to think or discuss or support? The answer is the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and other donor foundations, an increasing number of which are funded by fortunes rooted in Silicon Valley. It is this donor elite, bound together by a set of common class prejudices and economic interests, on which most progressive media, think tanks, and advocacy groups depend for funding. The center-left donor network uses its financial clout, exercised through its swarms of NGO bureaucrats, to impose common orthodoxy and common messaging on their grantees. The methods by which they enforce this discipline can be described as chain-ganging and shoe-horning. Chain-ganging (a term I have borrowed from international relations theory) in this context means implicitly or explicitly banning any grantee from publicly criticizing the positions of any other grantee…. Shoe-horning is what I call the progressive donor practice of requiring all grantees to assert their fealty to environmentalist orthodoxy and support for race and gender quotas, even if those topics have nothing to do with the subject of the grant.” • Commentary:

“Democracy experts”:

Yikes:

No wonder we don’t know how to do diplomacy anymore. Reminds me of Carl Schmitt.

#COVID19

If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

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Case count by United States regions:

Fiddling and diddling. Remember, it’s 100% certain the cases numbers are significantly understated. They’ve always been gamed, but it’s worse than before. One source said they though cases might be undercounted by a factor of six. Yikes. But how do we know? Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

NOTE I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it.

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

As usual, the crisis of the past is the normal of the present.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) service area includes 43 municipalities in and around Boston, including not only multiple school systems but several large universities. Since Boston is so very education-heavy, then, I think it could be a good leading indicator for Covid spread in schools generally.

For grins, here’s the wastewater of another college town, Ann Arbor, Michigan (hat tip kcp):

Improvement, unlike MWRA.

From Biobot Analytics:

Cases lag wastewater data.

From CDC Community Profile Reports (PDFs), “Rapid Riser” counties:

The Northeast isn’t looking too good, now confirmed by hospital data. I wonder how many Gridiron Club attendees took the Acela home the following morning? (Remember that these are rapid riser counties. A county that moves from red to green is not covid-free; the case count just isnt, well, rising rapidly.)

The previous release:

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you:

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Suddenly, the Northeast isn’t looking good. Of course, absolute levels are still low, so CDC can argue that nothing should be done. Again, I don’t like these sudden effloresences of yellow and orange. I don’t care that the baseline is low. From the point of view of our hospital-centric health care system, green everywhere means the emergency is over (and to be fair, this is reinforced by case count and wastewater). However, community transmission is still pervasive, which means that long Covid, plus continuing vascular damage, are not over. (Note trend, whether up or down, is marked by the arrow, at top. Admissions are presented in the graph, at the bottom. So it’s possible to have an upward trend, but from a very low baseline.) Oh, and if anybody tells you hospitalization is down, tell them “No, it very isn’t.”

A new way for hospitals to game the data:

IM Doc writes: “I would guess with Omicron about 60% of the patients were on Dexamethasone – so no – not an adequate proxy” for hospitalization.

Just a reminder:

As with everything else, because the United States is not a serious country, our hospitalization data is bad. Here the baseilne is off:

Gamed numbers aside, it also occurs to me that this time around, people might be avoiding hospitalization altogether, if they were relatives or friends of people who got hospitalized in earlier waves; no knock on the medical profession, but it was a bad way to go. (I wonder if there’s some sort of proxy that would show this.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,015,451 1,014,902. We did it. Break out the Victory Gin. have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. The numbers have been level for the past few days, and they’re still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

Stats Watch

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Retail: “‘White Hot: The Rise & Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch’ Review: How Youth Fashion Turned Fascist” [Variety]. “The journalist Moe Tkacik recalls that the first time she walked into an Abercrombie outlet, she said to herself, ‘Oh my God, they’ve bottled this. They have absolutely crystalized everything that I hate about high school and put it in a store.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 42 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 46 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 18 at 1:19pm.

Rapture Index: Closes up one on Israel: “Violence has erupted on the Temple Mount” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

The Gallery

So., NFTs for each can?

News of the Wired

Dad:


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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.

GE writes: “I’m mostly a lurker around the water cooler, but I noticed today’s plant image:”

GE writes: “I believe I recognize this particular tree and have even painted a small gouache sketch of its trunk (6×6?, in winter 2021). If I’m correct, this tree is in a cemetery in Vancouver, BC, and if so, I love that this particular plant has inspired more than one NC reader to capture its unique image:”

And GE writes: “The cherry blossoms in Vancouver are brief, but always spectacular!”

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