2:00PM Water Cooler 9/19/2022 | naked capitalism

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Patient readers, I had to get up and walk around after I read that Biden quote. More shortly. –lambert

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

House Sparrow, Stewart Park, Tompkins, New York, United States. “Calls from a group going to roost in a cedar next to the boathouse.”

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

“Here’s food for thought, had Ahab time to think; but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“You can’t really dust for vomit.” Nigel Tufnel, This is Spinal Tap

Biden Administration

“President Joe Biden: The 2022 60 Minutes Interview” [CBS News]. I expressed my amazement a few times that all Biden had to un on was Ukraine and Covid. It looks like that’s what he’ll do:

Scott Pelley: Mr. President, first Detroit Auto Show in three years. Is the pandemic over?

President Joe Biden: . We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s– but the pandemic is over. if you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it.

The pandemic is not over. Case numbers are at a plateau and wildly understated. Deaths, though not as understated, are also at at a plateau. Community tranmission is high in 83.33% of the country. And if one variant has good immune escape, we’re in for a bad winter. Biden is flat out lying, openly. Biden is lying worse than Bush did with “Mission Accomplished”:

For all his buffoonery, “The Former Guy” at least gave as Operation Warp Speed. What has Biden given us but 500,000 more deaths, the destruction of public health, the destruction of non-pharmaceutical measures like masking, and a complete lack of prepartion for the next respiratory pandemic, which will surely come? [pounds head on desk].

And, oh yeah, people aren’t wearing masks because propaganda works and the Biden Administration worked vigorously to discredit them. And as for “Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape,” I guess that makes the 4 million people out of work from Long Covid nobodies. Come to think of it, that’s pretty accurate. All I can say is it would be a damn shame if Queen Elizabeth’s funeral was a superspreading even for all the world’s leaders. OK, I’m stopping here before I stroke out.


* * *

PA: “In private memo, Fetterman confronts a new obstacle: Getting outspent” [Politico]. “John Fetterman continues to lead Mehmet Oz in the polls, but the Pennsylvania Democrat’s Senate campaign is privately sounding the alarm that things could change if he continues getting outspent on TV. In an internal memo on Tuesday to big-dollar donors, Fetterman campaign manager Brendan McPhillips warned that Oz and his Republican allies are together investing more in television ads than Fetterman and Democratic super PACs that support him. ‘I am writing with a wake-up call,’ said McPhillips in the message, which was obtained first by POLITICO. ‘In the last three weeks alone, Republicans have spent nearly $12 million dollars — significantly outspending us and out-communicating on the airwaves. We cannot allow this to continue unabated.’”


“Is Ron DeSantis the Future of the Republican Party?” [New York Times]. “Early in the Tallahassee transition, DeSantis burrowed into some essential reading material: a binder enumerating the powers of the office. ‘He was soaking that up,’ Scott Parkinson, the transition’s deputy executive director, told me. DeSantis’s aim, he has said, was to understand all the ‘pressure points’ within the system: what required legislative cooperation, what he could do unilaterally, which appointments needed which approvals.” • I wonder if Trump did that; I doubt it. If he had, he would have been “The Smart Trump.”

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.

* * *

The Pied Piper strategy is a two-flavored self-licking ice cream cone:

And defeat can taste just as sweet as victory, ka-ching!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“COVID is still killing hundreds a day, even as society begins to move on” [Los Angeles Times]. What does “society” “begins to move on” even mean? More: “After a death, doctors usually hash out whether it was avoidable. Now it’s happening hundreds of times a day, ‘and there’s no interest in doing a postmortem of the problem,’ said [Eric] Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. Instead, the impulse is often to wave it away. When someone loses a loved one to COVID, ‘often the first thing that’s asked of you is either, ‘Were they vaccinated?’ or ‘Did they have a preexisting condition?” said Urquiza of Marked by COVID. ‘I think people are asking that because they want to reaffirm their own sense of safety. ‘Oh, Kristin’s dad died because he had x, y or z — I don’t.” Morales said that people tend to assume that cancer alone took his mother. When he told a friend that she ultimately died after getting COVID, the friend was surprised. ‘Really? COVID? How did that happen?’’ the friend asked Morales. ‘People aren’t dying of COVID anymore.” • Yes, they are. Story after story after story.


• ”St. Louis research fuels COVID-19 nasal vaccine rollout in India” [St Louis Post-Dispatch]. Not, you will notice, in the United States. “The science behind India’s new nasal vaccine for COVID-19 has its roots in St. Louis. India-based drug company Bharat Biotech announced Tuesday that its nasal vaccine had received emergency approval. The vaccine technology was licensed from Washington University. Dr. Michael Diamond, a Washington University professor and viral immunologist, said he began working on the vaccine in the spring of 2020 with fellow Washington University professor Dr. David Curiel. The world’s scientific community was just mobilizing on its massive, urgent search for methods to treat and prevent the new coronavirus. Diamond and Curiel knew many other researchers were racing to develop vaccines, but they didn’t see anyone else pursuing oral or nasal vaccines…. The nasal vaccine’s approval comes as the U.S. rolls out doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which have been modified to specifically target the most recent variants of the virus. And a similar update for the nasal vaccines may already be on the way. ‘We’ve already done it,’ Diamond said. ‘We’re testing them now.’” • Good for Bharat, which has not, however, released its data.

• ”COVID-19 Booster Nasal Vaccine Study for Adults Who Have NOT Had COVID-19 Infection” [Cincinnati Childrens]. “Cincinnati Children’s is conducting a research study, sometimes known as a clinical trial or clinical study, to learn about vaccine that may offer protection from COVID-19…. [Participants Have not had a COVID-19 infection and have had 2 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.” • Two years in….

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: Gerson stans:

A duckbill. Anybody ou there use Gersons? I love my 3M Aura, but any increase in breathability would be a plus. I can just hear the slogans: “Breathable, but not gappy!” (leaving the visuals to your imagination). Why has this never been done? We used to be able to do advertising in this country:

• Maskstravaganza: Good idea, like Amtrak’s Quiet Cars:

I take this as a sign that the antimask death cult ridiculousness has reached some sort of limit. At least in New York (which, granted, had a terrible early experience and adopted collective discipline in response), there is actually a market for spaces where lack of infectiousness is a priority. Now put CO2 meters everywhere, like the Japanese do. So people can “make their own choices.”

• Maskstravaganza:

• Maskstravanganza:

A keeper….

• I hate to think like this, but somebody else besides me sees the demand for smiles as a power trip:

* * *

• “To boost or not to boost” [Eric Topol, Ground Truths]. “The reluctance for Americans to get a booster shot has been striking. The United States currently ranks 73rd among countries for its uptake of boosters at 33% of its population. All peer, rich countries around the world are at least double that rate. Countries ranking above the US now include Rwanda, Uzbekistan, Iran, Honduras, and Azerbaijan. Seemingly, you’d have to work very hard to show up this poorly as the country that first validated the vaccines, manufactures them, and has had such a surfeit supply that it has >50 million shots it can’t get anyone to take. Nonetheless, it has maintained optimism and purchased 171 million new Omicron BA.5 variant bivalent shots. There are many reasons for this abject failure—a veritable booster botch—stemming back to the beginning of the US booster campaign plan in August 2021, with mass public confusion induced by a different plan announced every few days and infighting between the different governmental agencies (CDC, FDA, NIH, WH) as to the appropriate strategy. This was compounded by the very late endorsement that boosters are necessary for all adults that did not come until the end of November, even though the data from Israel and other countries were clearcut many months prior to that juncture. Delays, confusion, and poor messaging got boosters off on the wrong footing. All the anti-science, anti-vax, mis- and disinformation hasn’t helped at all, and has never been effectively countered.”

* * *

• Seatbelts, too:

Of course, in the 90s we weren’t a failed state.

* * *

• “Natural immunity”:

Speed limits take away your freedom.

* * *

Case Count

Case count for the United States:

Cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the nominal case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~69,000. Today, it’s 62,400 and 62,400 * 6 = a Biden line at 374,400. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. If you look at the Fauci line, you will see that despite the bleating and yammering about Covid being “over,” we have only just recently reached the (nominal) case level of November 1, 2021, and we are very far from that of July 1, 2021. And the real level is much worse.

Lambert here: The fall in case count looks impressive enough. What the Fauci Line shows, however, is that we have at last achieved the level of the initial peak, when New York was storing the bodies in refrigerator trucks. So the endzone celebrations are, to my mind, premature. Not that anyone will throw a flag. Of course, the real story is in the charts for California and the South. See below.

• “Covid testing providers scale back despite worries of another winter surge” [NBC]. “Covid testing labs and at-home test manufacturers have been downsizing after government funding cuts and waning demand, despite concerns from health officials that the country could face another winter surge in infections…. Just how severe that wave will be will depend on whether the virus mutates to evade immunity from previous infections. But should the U.S. see a surge similar to last winter’s, Americans could find themselves in a similar testing bind, with at-home tests quickly selling out and people encountering long waits for laboratory PCR test results, public health officials said….. The number of reported Covid cases is currently a quarter of what it was at its peak last winter. But Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, estimates that , because so many are uncovered through at-home tests and aren’t reported to public health departments, or they aren’t being detected at all. He expects to see infections start to increase next month and continue to rise through the winter.” • 4% to 5%? I’m gonna need a bigger chart. On the bright side, it looks like Johns Hopkins is cutting down on reporting at exactly the right time!

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

The South (minus Texas and Florida):


The West:

What’s going on out there?


Wastewater data (CDC), September 13:

Lambert here: I added all the dots back in. The number of grey dots really concerns me. How can all the sites for international air travel center New York be grey (“no recent data”). And California’s pretty gappy, too.

For grins, September 11:


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, September 10:

-2.4%. Good news.


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. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

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.)

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), September 16:

I suppose that if case counts are indeed level, it’s likely there would be few rapid risers.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), September 16:

Sea of green!

NOTE: Rapid Riser and Hospitalization data are updated Wednesdays and Fridays.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), September 1:

Still no sign of BA.2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), August 27 (Nowcast off):

Two highlights: BA.4.6 has assumed a slightly greater proportion (more in the NowCast model, which I refuse to use). Also, first appearance of BA.2.75. So where is it, you ask?

The above chart shows variants nationally. I have gone through the CDC regions and made a table. As you can see, BA.2.75 is prominent in Region 2 (New York and New Jersey), followed by Region 5 (Midwest), and Region 1 (Northeast). Hmm.

Table 1: CDC Regional BA.2.75 Data, Sorted by % Total

CDC Region % Total States in Region
Region 2: 0.8% New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
Region 5: 0.7% Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin
Region 1: 0.7% Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Region 3: 0.4% Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia
Region 4: 0.4% Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
Region 7: 0.3% lowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska
Region 6: 0.0% Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Region 8: 0.0% Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 9: 0.0% Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands….
Region 10: 0.0% Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington

Let’s see if BA.2.75 starts doubling.

• BA.2.75.2:

And but:



Death rate (Our World in Data):

Lambert here: It is interesting that the deaths per 100,000 curve — with its curious recent flattening — has more or less the same shape as the case curve, suggesting that a “Biden Curve” would have more or less the same shape as the case count curve, as opposed to the straight line I am drawing for the current level.

Total: 1,078,663 – 1,078,018 = 645 (645 * 365 = 235,425, which is today’s LivingWith™* number (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, thought they can talk themselves into anything. Fluctuates quite a bit, but even the low numbers are bad). I have added an anti-triumphalist black Fauci Line.

It’s nice that for deaths I have a simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

• “Hundreds of Americans Will Die From COVID Today” [The Atlantic]. And the deck: “Is this what normal now looks like?” • Yes, if the liberal Democrats have anything to do with it.

• Excess deaths, Asia vs. the Imperial Heartland US and UK:

Thanksgiving Pre-Game Festivities

I know it’s early. Nevertheless:

The Gallery

We could use more of these:

Zeitgeist Watch

A home away from home:

Our Famously Free Press

Love the typewriters:

But today, half of ’em would be spooks… .

Class Warfare

“Where Are Family Offices Investing Globally?” [Forbes]. “UBS’ Global Family Office Report 2022 surveyed 221 single-family offices worldwide, with average assets under management of $2.2 billion. Cumulatively, these family enterprises oversee wealth totaling $493 billion. The report showed that in 2021, 57% of an average family office portfolio was funneled into traditional asset classes: equities (32%), fixed income (15%), and cash (10%), while 43% was directed toward alternative asset classes, comprising private equity (21%), real estate (12%), hedge funds (4%), private debt (2%), gold/ precious metals, commodities, arts and antiques (1% each), and less than 1% for infrastructure. What UBS found, however, was a strategic shift in how family offices are channeling their wealth. A growing trend in private market investments is more evident than ever, specifically towards private equity—the only asset class that gained steady allocations year after year. Why? About 74% of the respondents who are likely to allocate more investments in this alternative asset over three to five years believe it will overtake public markets in the future. ”

I suppose a consumer boycott isn’t the best thing for the workers, but sheesh:

Is this even legal?

News of the Wired

Travel tip:

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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 Re Silc:

And a close-up:

Re Silc writes: “Mount Lenox, MA.”

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