2:00PM Water Cooler 1/6/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Peaceful Dove, Utopia Environment Reserve, Queensland, Australia. “Cut starts with tail up display then normal call from Peaceful Dove, lower calls from Bar-shouldered dove, subsequent tail up display calls from Peaceful.”

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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

The Constitutional Order

“Brief for Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner” (PDF) [The United States Supreme Court]. “Brief for Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee as Amici Curiae in Support of PetitionerHistorical context severely undermines the lower court’s interpretation of Section Three. The Reconstruction Amendments “were specifically designed as an expansion of federal power and an intrusion on state sovereignty.” City of Rome v. United States, 446 U.S. 156, 179 (1980). Yet the Colorado Supreme Court transformed Section Three into a states’-rights superpower. According to the court, the Reconstruction Congress gave state officials—here, state courts and state election officials—the power to decide the most sensitive political questions about loyalty and legitimacy, and to then decide on that basis who may stand for election to the most important position in the national government. That claim—that the Reconstruction Congress gave States, including former Confederate States, the power to independently decide national candidates’ qualifications with no congressional permission—is implausible.” • A good argument, but Republicans arguing forcefully against states’-rights wasn’t on my Bingo card!

“‘This Week’ Transcript 1-7-24: House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi & Rep. Tony Gonzales” [FOX]. “STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Madam Speaker, if you believe he engaged in insurrection under the plain meaning of the 14th Amendment, you believe he’s ineligible to be president? PELOSI: Those laws – you know, those are up to the states. They have different laws from state to state. I don’t think he should ever have been president. STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s the Constitution.” • If by “those laws” Pelosi means ballot qualifications, she’s right, and Pelosi correcting Stephanopolous on a point of law wasn’t on my Bingo card either.

“How Trump 2024 is Shaping Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment” [University of Baltimore Law Review]. “New Mexico residents have already used Section Three to disqualify County Commissioner Couy Griffin for his participation in January 6th. The court found that Griffin engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States because he “appeared at a Stop the Steal rally in Albuquerque along with the New Mexico Civil Guard” and “was a featured speaker on a multi-city bus tour to Washington DC.” On this tour, his goal “was to rally and inflame crowds and recruit them to come to Washington DC” on January 6th. If a court finds Trump was as involved as Griffin in the January 6th attack on the Capitol, it could very well disqualify him from holding office. However, of the nine politicians that were accused in court of violating Section Three due to their involvement with January 6th, courts have only chosen to bar Griffin from office. Another possibility is that, much like Representative Greene, Trump’s actions will be too far removed from the incident for him to be disqualified. Representative Greene is the representative for Georgia’s 14th district in the House of Representatives. During the January 6th attack, Representative Greene posted a video on social media showing support for the participants. The court found this evidence insufficient to establish that Representative Greene violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The question becomes whether Trump’s actions are more akin to Griffin’s active recruiting or closer to Representative Greene’s passive support.” • Hmm.

“Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney decries Trump as a threat to U.S. democracy” [The Dartmouth]. “Throughout her speech, Cheney heavily criticized former President Donald Trump, stating that Trump’s attempt to ‘seize power’ following the 2020 election ‘threaten[ed] the very foundations of our democracy.’ Cheney described Trump as ‘depraved’ and ‘derelict in his duty’ for and expressed dissatisfaction with members of Congress who continue to support and endorse Trump.” • I’ve seen this talking about emerge in the last few days, including in Biden’s “Valley Forge” speech. So charge him for it!

Capitol Seizure


Sold out, but pre-orders available. On a different note–

“Family of Ashli Babbitt Files $30 Million Wrongful Death Action” [Jonathan Turley]. “The long-awaited tort action from the family of Ashli Babbitt has now been filed in Southern California. Babbitt was shot and killed on Jan. 6th and her family is seeking $30 million in a wrongful death action. Equally important, the lawsuit could force additional answers to why Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd shot and killed the unarmed protester as she attempted to climb through a window near the House Chamber…. Babbitt, 35, was an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter who participated in the riot three years ago. She was clearly committing criminal acts of trespass, property damage, and other offenses. However, the question is whether an officer is justified in shooting a protester when he admits that he did not see any weapon before discharging his weapon.”

Biden Administration


Less than a year to go!

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Biden’s speech at Valley Forge:

Interesting for several reasons: The invitation-only audience chanting “Four More Years,” Biden in command of his faculties, at least during the speech (the stuff with Jill afterwards took awhile to enter the news cycle, and then only through the Daily Mail, as far as I can see). He may actually believe what he’s saying; his hatred and contempt for Trump were palpable. If the campaign goes with “Let Biden be Biden,” this is what we will get. Biden is certainly comfortable with the theme. I took a screen shot from the video:

I remember, back in the day, seeing the same expression on George W. Bush’s face quite often; the set of his jaw, the downturned mouth. Underneath the frat-boy demeanor, Bush was mean, a vicious S.O.B. Same with Biden.

“Protesters disrupt Biden, president resumes remarks at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church” [Post and Courier]. From the live coverage: “Biden has been interrupted by protestors calling for a ceasefire in Palestine. ‘There’s blood on your hands,’ protestors shouted. Biden stopped and said, ‘That’s alright.’ The audience started chanting ‘Four more years’ so loud that the demonstrators could not be heard. Secret Service agents promptly ushered the protesters out of the sanctuary. Biden resumed his speech, saying, ‘I understand your passion.’ Biden said that he’s working with the Israeli government.” • The reporter tweets:

Interestingly, they’ve got Biden going down the big stairs again. Maybe they tinkered with his dose?

“Obama, worried about Trump, urges Biden circle to bolster campaign” [WaPo]. “Obama’s conversation with Biden on the subject took place during a private lunch at the White House in recent months, one of the people said, a meeting that has not been previously reported. Biden, who has long used Obama as a sounding board, invited his former boss to lunch, and the two discussed a range of topics including the 2024 election. During the lunch, Obama noted the success of his reelection campaign structure in 2012, when some of his top presidential aides, including David Axelrod and Jim Messina, left the White House to take charge of the reelection operation in Chicago. That is a sharp contrast from Biden’s approach of leaving his closest aides at the White House even though they are involved in all the key decisions made by the campaign. Obama also recommended that Biden seek counsel from Obama’s own former campaign aides, which Biden officials say they have done, the people said.” • This article is rather gauzy. I think that Obama, through his anonymous sources, is saying “Hire some of my people.” And he’s also, in the gentlest possible way, positioning the blame cannons (“Joe didn’t follow my advice”).

“Biden campaign responds to report on Obama warnings about Trump” [The Hill].

“Clyburn concerned Biden campaign isn’t breaking through ‘MAGA wall’” [The Hill]. “‘I have no problem with the Biden administration and what it has done. My problem is that we have not been able to break through that MAGA wall in order to get to people exactly what this president has done,’ Clyburn said in an interview on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ Clyburn, a long-time South Carolina representative in the House, is often credited with helping Biden’s campaign ultimately clinch the 2020 Democratic nomination after winning the Palmetto State that year. Biden won his first early contest in the South Carolina primary, after securing Clyburn’s endorsement. In the interview Sunday, Clyburn said he has sat down with Biden to express his concerns about the Biden team’s reelection campaign, but stressed he was ‘not worried,’ but ‘very concerned.’” • “Concerned,” in the Beltway, means “hair on fire.”

“House GOP Recommends Hunter Biden Be Held in Contempt of Congress” [The Daily Beast]. “House Republicans filed a resolution Monday requesting that Hunter Biden be held in contempt of Congress for defying a ‘critical’ deposition request related to the GOP’s impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden…. If the resolution passes the committees, the full House—which has a slim Republican majority—will vote on whether Biden should be held in contempt of Congress. If that vote passes, the House can then refer the recommendation to the Department of Justice, which would ultimately decide if Biden should be criminally charged.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trump allies seek to co-opt coming election-security case to bolster 2020 lie” [WaPo]. The deck: “The largely left-leaning plaintiffs in the federal civil case going to trial this week in Georgia allege that the state’s voting machines are vulnerable to hacking — not that they have been hacked.” More: “The people U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg declared to be not ‘conspiracy theorists of any variety’ are the largely left-leaning plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was filed in Georgia long before the 2020 election and that is slated to go to trial this week. They argue that voting machines there present security risks that state officials are constitutionally obligated to address — and they have the backing, Totenberg wrote, of ‘some of the nation’s leading cybersecurity experts and computer scientists.’ A favorable outcome for the plaintiffs would have extraordinary implications: Georgia, one of the swing states that decided the last presidential election, could head into the 2024 cycle with machines that a federal judge has deemed dangerously vulnerable to security breaches, at least as currently operated. Though it would be aimed at ensuring a more secure voting system, such a ruling could have unpredictable implications for the public understanding of election integrity, particularly if it is mischaracterized by those seeking to sow doubt about past and future elections.” • However, electronic voting machines are in a phishing equilibrium (encapsulated: “If fraud can happen, it will already have happened,” on the same principle that a twenty dollar bill lying in the street is probably a discarded fake, since somebody would already have picked up a real one).


“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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Covid is Airborne

“Avoiding COVID was about more than just keeping 2 metres apart, study finds” [EuroNews]. “Researchers from the Nuffield Department for Medicine at the University of Oxford analysed data from 7 million people in England and Wales who, during the health emergency, were notified by the country’s NHS COVID-19 app that they had been in contact with someone who was infected. The goal was to find out how many of those alerted actually contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus…. The researchers took advantage of this ‘treasure trove’ of information to study the relation between distance and duration of an encounter with an infected person to see how this would influence the risk of someone being infected. And it turns out that . ‘Everybody was focussed on the distance. There was this 1-metre or 2-metre distance rule in shops, at stations. But distance should have never been the focus of it because as we know now, the truth is more nuanced than that,’ Ferretti said. ‘Once you’re a short distance from someone, it’s the duration that matters. If you’re exposed for 10 seconds, you must be very unlucky for the particles from the mouth of the infected person to get to your mouth or your nose. But if you stay there one hour, of course yEou will try your luck 60 times with respect to one minute.’” And: “The researchers found that longer exposures at greater distances had a similar risk to shorter exposures at closer distances….. [T]he longer someone spent with another person who was sick, the more likely they were to get sick themselves, even if they kept a 2-metre distance at all times.” • Droplet dogma would not predict this. Aerosol spread would.

Even the history of aerosol transmission as been erased. Public health has a lot to answer for:


“They have to make their own decisions”:

Incredible body language; leafing through the briefing book is a very nice touch!

Censorship and Propaganda

“Prepare For The Ultimate Gaslighting” [Julio Vincent Gambuto, WBUR]. From 2020 (!!!!):

Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how to “reopen” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal.

Billions of dollars will be spent on advertising, messaging and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in traditional forms — a billboard here, commercials there — and in new-media forms, like memes.

In truth, you crave that feeling of normalcy. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lie in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.

He got that right!

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Case Data

NOT UPDATED From BioBot wastewater data, January 5:

Lambert here: Still going up. As a totally “gut feel” tapewatcher, I would expect this peak to meet or exceed the two previous Biden peaks; after all, we haven’t really begun the next bout of holiday travel, or the next rounds of superspreading events celebrations. Plus students haven’t come from from school, and then returned. So a higher peak seems pretty much “baked in.” And that’s before we get to new variants, like JN.1. The real thing to watch is the slope of the curve. If it starts to go vertical, and if it keeps on doing so, then hold onto your hats.

Lambert here: Called it. Impressively, the Biden administration has now blown through all previous records, with the single exception of the Omicron, the top of the leaderboard, a record also set by itself. Congratulations to the Biden team! I know a lot of people think the peak will come in the next two weeks or so; I’d like to hear at least some anecdotal evidence of that beyond the models (because recall JN.1, whose peak this is, is extremely infectious).

Regional data:

Regional split continues. What’s more worrisome is that the slope of the curve in the Northeast got steeper (although, as ever, Biobot data is subject to backward revision).


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, December 30:

Lambert: Return to upward movement. Only a week’s lag, so this may be our best current nationwide, current indicator.

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 8:

Lambert here: I like the slope of that curve even less, and we’re approaching previous peak levels (granted, not 2020 or 2022, but respectable).

NOT UPDATED Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. December 30:

Moving ahead briskly!

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?


Lambert here: Notice that for both Walgreens and the Cleveland Clinic, that although the percentage of positives is stable, the absolute numbers have greatly increased; Walgreen’s doubled. This speaks well of people; they’re getting tested before the holidays (and in face of a shit*tstorm barrage of propaganda and peer pressure to minimize, too).

NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, January 2:

1.1%. Up. (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.)

NOT UPDATED From Cleveland Clinic, December 30:

Lambert here: Percentage plateaued. Absolute numbers steadily increasing.

From CDC, traveler’s data, December 18:

Down, albeit in the rear view mirror. And here are the variants for travelers, December 18:

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


Here is the New York Times, based on CDC data, December 30:

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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The Economy: “One of the most commonly cited recession indicators that’s been flashing red has a major flaw, NDR says” [Business Insider]. “One of the most commonly cited recession indicators is the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index, and it’s been flashing red for nearly two years. åThe forward-looking index has declined 20 months in a row, is down 12.6% from its peak two years ago, and is down 7.6% over the past year. The index has never seen such a sharp and persistent decline without an economic recession unfolding shortly thereafter. But this time might finally be different as it appears the index has ‘cried wolf,’ Ned Davis Research said in a recent note. The firm highlighted why the economic index’s perfect track record of warning about an imminent recession might have finally come to an end. ‘The LEI may be another victim of pandemic related distortions,’ NDR said. That’s because the underlying components of the index weigh goods too heavily and services not enough. That’s a problem when you consider that the makeup of today’s economy is roughly 85% services. ‘Five of the ten indicators are goods-related and three are financial-related,’ NDR explained. Only one component of the LEI captures the services economy, and that’s unemployment claims. The heavy reliance on goods-focused components is why the leading index failed to catch the sharp reacceleration in the US economy during the second half of 2023, in which GDP grew by about 5% in the third-quarter.”

Manufacturing: “Alaska Airlines accident could have been ‘much more tragic,’ NTSB official says” [NBC]. “Seats adjacent to the blowout, which occurred when a panel called a door plug detached from the plane, were not occupied, and the aircraft’s altitude meant passengers were likely seated with seatbelts in use, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said during a news conference Saturday night.” • Here are the 737 MAX seats to avoid:

Manufacturing: On the “door plug” itself, a long thread, excerpted:

Big if true. Perhaps mechanical engineers and aircraft mavens in the readership can comment.

Manufacturing: “The door fell off”:

Newer readers may not be aware that this is an homage “The Front Fell Off”, by the brilliant Australian comedy duo Clark & Dawe (here very, very young):

Manufacturing: The system worked:

Useful perspective, but surely the system is coming ever closer to not working?

Manufacturing: “Alaska 737 cockpit voice recorder data erasure renews safety debate” [Reuters]. “The cockpit voice recorder data on the Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 jet which lost a panel mid-flight on Friday was overwritten, U.S. authorities said, renewing attention on an industry call for longer in-flight recordings. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair Jennifer Homendy said on Sunday no data was available on the cockpit voice recorder because it was not retrieved within two hours – when recording restarts, erasing previous data. The U.S. requires cockpit voice recorders to log two hours of data versus 25 hours in Europe for planes made after 2021. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has since 2016 called for 25-hour recording on pl anes manufactured from 2021. ‘There was a lot going on, on the flight deck and on the plane. It’s a very chaotic event. The circuit breaker for the CVR (cockpit voice recorder) was not pulled. The maintenance team went out to get it, but it was right at about the two-hour mark,’ Homendy said.” • Whoops.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 73 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 8 at 1:53:07 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 420

“Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants” [Journal of Natural Products]. From 2022, still germaine. In vitro. Commentary:

No doubt!

News of the Wired

“What really has a 1 in a million chance?” [Berkeley]. From a statistics class: “20 coin tosses (by me) all coming up Tails. YES… If you tossed the coins then the first answer would be NO, unless I’m very confident you lack the ability to fool me …”

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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 Carla:

Carla writes: “My begonia summers on the patio, but this is its winter home.”

• Kind readers, I think I’m OK on plants for awhile, though it never hurts to have more!

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