2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Laughing Dove, Amara, Ethiopia. “Song from a bird on the ground in a small tilled field surrounded by boulders and a small cliff, followed by wing noise at the end of the cut as it flushed.”

* * *


“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

“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

Biden Administration

“Musk’s foreign investors in Twitter are ‘worthy’ of review, Biden says” [Politico]. “President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he would support a U.S. government review of the foreign investors backing Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter purchase…. ‘I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,’ Biden said during a post-election news conference at the White House. ‘Whether he is doing anything inappropriate — I’m suggesting that — I’m suggesting that it’s worth being looked at.’… Asked how a U.S. review would take place, Biden said, ‘there’s a lot of ways,’ but declined to elaborate.” • Hmm. Does Elon have a laptop?


“Calcified Politics Gives Us Another Close Election” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “But, as we have written extensively over the last two years, other fundamentals matter in our politics; fundamental structural realities make ‘landslide’ elections harder and harder to come by…. Events and the responses to them from politicians no longer have the ability to deeply and fundamentally reshape our politics or political coalitions. With fewer people willing to ‘defect’, even when they are unhappy with the status quo, you get more close elections and fewer ‘wave’ elections. Also, when every election is an existential election, the drop-off among ‘in-party’ voters, which was once common in midterm elections, is no longer the case.” And descending to earth: “In early 2021, Gov. Brian Kemp was considered the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the country. Today, he won re-election handily with 54 percent of the vote. In Florida, Ron DeSantis, who narrowly squeaked into office in 2018, crushed Democrat Charlie Crist with almost 60 percent of the vote. Kemp, of course, is one of the few Republicans to have survived Trump’s wrath. DeSantis is Trump’s most formidable potential rival. Both put a lot of coin in the ‘credibility’ bank this evening. Trump, meanwhile, watched many of his hand-picked candidates for governor and Senate go down to defeat. All eyes will be on Donald Trump for his November 15 “reveal” in Mar-A-Lago. But it’s DeSantis who has the momentum for 2024.”

“Midterm 2022: Not a Referendum, But a Choice” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “What was so unusual was the unevenness of the results. As noted above, Florida was a total disaster for Democrats, with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) winning reelection by huge margins (DeSantis won by almost 20 points, an incredible spread). The rout was so total that Democrats even had to sweat out a couple of House races that should have been easy victories. New York, too, went well for Republicans, as Rep. Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) held Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) to a modest victory and the GOP appears to have done well in House races there, including toppling Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-17), who conceded Wednesday morning. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may well remain the Majority Leader, but he saw much of his usual crossover support collapse last night — he took over 70% of the vote when he was last up, in 2016, but is sitting at just 56%. But in other places, Democrats did great. They won or are leading in almost every competitive House race of consequence in the Great Lakes region and scored major statewide victories in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. There was some sign of this in the leadup to the election, in which Democrats were fretting about some key races in blue states but were holding up well in battleground states; this wasn’t a mirage, it was reality. A lot of nonpartisan pollsters can hold their heads up high in this cycle — some of the GOP firms who released a flood of rosy Republican surveys, not so much. Tuesday also provided another reminder that Election Day chatter can be very deceiving — the turnout anecdotes and data we noticed on Twitter ended up being worthless in most instances. In our own projections, we set the parameters for what we thought would be a good but not great Republican night. It’s clear that the GOP vastly underperformed what we thought was likely to happen in the House, and probably, in aggregate, in Senate and governor races too, although let’s wait until all the votes are in before making a universal assessment of what happened. We hesitate to say much about Arizona and Nevada, where the vote count is ongoing and the picture muddled. The same is true of California, where several key House races remain in doubt and likely will remain so for some time.

“Why Democrats Don’t Win The Way They Should” [Black Agenda Report]. “It isn’t incompetence that keeps the democrats from fully realizing their political power. The terrible truth is that they prefer horse trading over the issues of importance to their donor class than they do meeting the needs of the people. Why does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi constantly speak of the need for a “strong republican party?” She needs a strong republican party, that is to say one which doesn’t resemble the January 6th rabble that frightened most of the nation. A more respectable and traditional republican party is one she can compromise with, and both sides of the aisle can represent the interests of the U.S. oligarchy while pretending otherwise.”

Youth vote:

* * *

“All eyes on Arizona and Nevada” [Politico]. “Washington woke up Thursday to a second day of waiting as vote counters in Arizona and Nevada tally the ballots that will decide the balance of power on Capitol Hill for the next two years. The two battleground states remained too close to call as of Thursday morning with hundreds of thousands of ballots yet to be tallied. A third uncalled Senate race in Georgia will head to a runoff election on Dec. 6, with neither candidate able to meet the 50 percent threshold needed to win. The Senate’s fate comes down to the three remaining uncalled races, as Republicans would need to pick up two Democratic seats to take back the Senate majority. If the parties split Arizona and Nevada, senatorial control will rely entirely on the outcome of the Georgia runoff in December.”

PA: “Smiling Fetterman Asks Oz If He’d Mind Slowly Repeating Concession For 5th Time” [The Onion]. “‘I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that. A little slower please. You said something about losing? I just want to be absolutely certain I’m hearing this right.’ At press time, Fetterman suggested that perhaps he could accept the concession in person if he were ever in New Jersey.”


“Progressive group launches ‘Don’t Run Joe’ campaign in New Hampshire” [The Hill]. “A progressive grassroots organization linked to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially launched its “Don’t Run Joe” campaign in New Hampshire on Wednesday in a bid to dampen a 2024 White House run from President Biden. As promised back in July, RootsAction launched the campaign just one day after the midterm elections, hoping to discourage Biden from seeking a second term. ‘It’s clear that Joe Biden should not be the party’s presidential nominee in 2024,’ the campaign said in a press release on Wednesday.” • I hate that locution “linked to.” Linked how? By whom? It’s never said. When you hear “linked to,” think “yarn diagram.”

“Trump Threatens to Reveal Unflattering Information About DeSantis if He Runs” [New York Times]. “Mr. Trump added, in remarks published on Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal, ‘If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering. I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.’ The former president, preparing to announce a rare candidacy for the White House after a defeat, was thus openly threatening to smear the person who would be considered his leading rival, should he choose to run.” • Oh, the agastitude!

“Trump Got a Midterm Shellacking. It Doesn’t Mean Much for 2024” [Politico]. “Trump, the original power of positive thinking candidate, sloughed off the defeat like a Gila monster shedding its skin…. But Trump’s 2022 embarrassment says little about his staying power as a candidate…. Untested by the 2022 election is Trump’s viability as a presidential candidate in 2024. Only a fraction of the party faithful who supported him in December 2020 has peeled off. His ability to raise money remains solid. And victorious Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — a likely top Trump contender for the nomination — has yet to prove an electoral appeal outside of his home state. Do you remember what a formidable presidential candidate Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was thought to be before he ran face-first into the Trump angle grinder in the 2015 primary debates? The ashes of the 2022 election have yet to turn cold. The press corps can’t afford to repeat the mistake it’s made time and again by underestimating Trump. Even Gila monsters have a few bad days. That said, it’s true that Trump has never appeared to be politically weaker than he is at this moment. Reporters and columnists have sniffed this out, so it’s only natural that they’ve taken out their tape measures to properly dress him in a pinewood overcoat. But midterm elections are midterm elections — important to restock Congress and the various offices around the country but almost worthless in predicting a presidential aspirant’s immediate future.” • I go back to Trump speaking for over fifteen minutes in a driving rainstorm. Show me another candidate who would do that for their voters. Trump’s flaws are of gigantic scale. Yet he remains of a different scale than the rest of the field. Certainly the Republican field. He’s simply a bigger man.

Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“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.

* * *


Lambert here: I can’t call a winter surge, though we’ll really have to wait for Thanksgiving travel. However, high transmission (CDC), the elevation and continued increase in positivity (Walgreens), and the steady takeover of BQ.1* (CDC; Walgreens) are all a little unsettling (as is the apparent proliferation of variants). Stay safe out there!

• ”How Did We Get Here?” [Britta Love, Sex, Drugs, and Covid]. The deck: “Consenting to a Mass Disabling Event.” “In this moment we have, somehow, collectively decided that it is OK that our most vulnerable members of society – the elderly, immunocompromised, the chronically ill and disabled, are being systematically excluded from participating in society outside of the home, indefinitely. For the most part, we do not even mask in medical offices or grocery stores to better protect them/us. They/we can either remain isolated, or risk death. Make no mistake, this is the normalization of eugenics…. If you’ve ever wondered what you would be doing if you lived in one of the scary times in history, when a society had decided some people had less value than others, where structures of power colluded to whitewash the truth about harm that was happening to hundreds of thousands of people each day, when social norms had shifted to normalize death and suffering of many for the benefit of the few? You’re doing it right now.” • The adults are in charge!

• From the WikiPedia entry (sorry!) on Geoffrey Rose, an eminent epidemiologist whose ideas have been credited with transforming the approach to strategies for improving health:

Of his numerous publications, there are two that stand out in terms of their influence on the discipline of epidemiology, the seminal 1985 article “Sick Individuals and Sick Populations” and his 1992 book “The Strategy of Preventive Medicine”. The impact goes beyond the field of epidemiology and into that of public health generally. One publication claimed that “A casual Social Sciences Citation Index search yielded over 700 citations of this work”. As S Schwartz and AV Diez-Roux pointed out, the central lesson that has been integrated into the aforementioned fields is that “a large number of people at a small risk may give rise to more cases of disease than the small number who are at high risk“. It was their assertion that this insight of Rose has profound implications for intervention and prevention strategies, and has been incorporated into research contexts through an understanding of the difference between measures of absolute and relative risk.

According to Rose, the ‘high-risk strategy’ to prevention is a clinically oriented approach to preventive medicine which focuses its efforts on needy individuals with the highest levels of the risk factor (‘the deviant minority with high-risk status’), and uses the established framework of medical services.

This “high risk” strategy is exactly the “focused prevention” advocated by the scumsucking eugenicists courageous yet misguided authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, who provided the ideological justification for the Biden Administration to abandon protections.

In other words, the ‘high-risk strategy’ is ‘a targeted rescue operation for vulnerable individuals’. The aim is to help each person reduce the high level of exposure to a cause or to some intermediate variable. Main strengths of this strategy include: the intervention may be matched to the needs of the individual; it may avoid interference with those who are not at a special risk; it may be accommodated within the ethical and cultural values, organisation, and economics, of the health care system; selectivity may increase the likelihood of a cost-effective use of resources. Main weaknesses of the high-risk strategy are: prevention may become medicalised; success may be palliative and temporary; the contribution to overall (population) control of a disease may be small; the preventive intervention may be behaviourally or culturally inadequate or unsustainable; it has a poor ability to predict which individuals will benefit from the intervention.

A failure of high-risk prevention strategies is their inability to prevent disease in the large part of the population at a relatively small risk and from which most cases of diseases originate.

In other words, the Biden Administration’s “high risk” strategy failed in exactly the way Rose predicted it would fail. Under the Biden Administration, the public health establishment systematically erased a 2022 – 1992 = 30-year-old discipline, good job.

• On Covid denial:

For those who came in late, a clip:

* * *

• Cute:

* * *

• Maskstravaganza: Bonnie Henry is the Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia:

Dear Lord. I keep meaning to do a write-up on Henry, because she’s such an egregious example of everything that’s wrong with public health. Canadian readers, you can give me pointers in comments, or send them to me via email. Thank you!

• Yet another thread on mask availability:

Made in America!

* * *

• The direct approach:

* * *


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.)

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 2


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, November 8:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 3

1.1%. Increase.


Wastewater data (CDC), November 6:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 4

Lambert here: Each dot is a sewershed, and since finally we’re getting some orange dots for New York, I thought I’d click on the dot for Queens, where both JFK and LGA are located, with results that you see. Heaven forfend CDC should give us a variant breakdown by sewershed, so we don’t know if that upward-pointing arrow is due to BQ.1* or not. In any case, if you are the cautious sort, I’d consider EWR (though of course there are many other factors to consider, like ventilation and the configuration of bathrooms). Weirdly, CDC wastewater is lagging both anecdotal reports and hospital data, but I figure that’s just CDC’s data shop, what can you do.

November 5:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 5


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. 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? [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk]. UPDATE Yes. See NC here on Pango. Every Friday, a stately, academic pace utterly incompatible with protecting yourself against a variant exhibiting doubling behavior.

Variant data, national (Walgreens), October 24:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 6

Lambert here: BQ.1* moving along quite briskly.

Variant data, national (CDC), October 15 (Nowcast off):

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 7

BQ.1* moving along quite briskly. New York/New Jersey numbers are higher:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 8

NOT UPDATED And as a check, since New York is a BQ.1* hotbed, New York hospitalization continues to increase, from November 9:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 9

Lambert here: I’ve added yellow lines to show the slopes of previous surges. This one seems pretty sedate, as surges go.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 10

Total: 1,099,494 – 1,098,524 = 970 (970 * 365 = 354,050, which is today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

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.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 7,000 to 225,000 on the week ending November 5th, the highest increase in four weeks and surpassing expectations of 220,000. The result eased perceptions of a tighter labor market, clashing with the hawkish policy signaled by the Federal Reserve in its November meeting.”

Inflation: “United States Inflation Rate” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US slowed for a 4th month to 7.7% in October, the lowest since January, and below forecasts of 8%. It compares with 8.2% in September.”

Inflation: “United States Consumer Price Index (CPI)” [Trading Economics]. “The annual inflation rate in the US slowed for a fourth month to 7.7% in October of 2022, the lowest since January, and below market forecasts of 8%. It compares with 8.2% in September. Compared to the previous month, the CPI rose 0.4%, the same as in September and below expectations of a higher 0.6% rate. The index for shelter contributed over half of the monthly all items increase, with the indexes for gasoline and food also increasing. Still, figures continue to point to strong inflationary pressures and a broad price increase across the economy, mainly in the services sector while prices of goods have benefited from some improvements in supply chains.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “FTX’ed: The Tangled Ties Of Celsius Network and Sam Bankman-Fried” [Dirty Bubble Media]. From October 31:

However, it would behoove any interested parties to learn a little bit more about the many ties between Celsius Network and Sam Bankman-Fried. Public records, media reports, and blockchain analysis demonstrate that Celsius and SBF had a unique and multifaceted relationship. We show that:

  1. FTX enabled Celsius to manipulate CEL token markets. During 2021, Celsius appears to have purchased well over 40 million CEL tokens on FTX to drive up and maintain CEL price. This period coincides with the due diligence and announcement of Celsius’ $750 million equity raise from Westcap and La CDPQ.

  2. Celsius used FTX to liquidate hundreds of millions of dollars worth of user assets after freezing withdrawals. In addition to using the proceeds to pay back DeFi loans, a $104 million loan from FTX was discharged during this period.

  3. Celsius sent hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowed stablecoins through FTX, possibly using FTX as a clearinghouse for distributing loans to their institutional borrowers. We show that Celsius’ loan to the failed crypto hedge fund (Ponzi scam) Three Arrows Capital appears to have gone through FTX.

  4. Alameda Research is one of Celsius’ largest unsecured creditors, and Celsius’ largest unsecured creditor, “Pharos Fund,” is managed by a former co-founder of Alameda Research.

  5. Celsius Network and SBF share very close ties to the dubious stablecoin issuer Tether.

I haven’t been following the FTX debacle closely, because of course it’s a scam, but working from what I saw passby on my Twitter feed, this site was right early.

The Bezzle:

Well, maybe not a billionaire. Nevertheless.

The Bezzle: A thread on the malefactions of Elon Musk. Entertaining, but quite long:

The Bezzle: “Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Firing 11,000 After Company Spends $15B On Metaverse” [Kotaku]. Old news but the headline puts the story together well. “What [The Zuckerberg™] doesn’t mention at all [in his email to employees] is that the company wiped out its massive revenues on Reality Labs, the disastrous metaverse project that even the company’s own developers don’t want to use. The goal of the metaverse, if it can be said to have one, is to create some manner of online VR space where people will want to spend their time and money, which as yet has not proven at all popular or successful. With $15 billion spent on the project since 2021, and with Insider reporting that no one is saying exactly where all that money went, that’s seen average quarterly revenue reduced to $30 million since. It seems an enormous elephantine subject to have left out of Zuckerberg’s statement, not least when he says he’s ‘shifted more of our resources onto a smaller number of high priority growth areas,’ which incredibly includes ‘our long-term vision for the metaverse.’ We have reached out to Meta to ask about exactly this, and why Zuckerberg doesn’t refer to this spending in his memo. Unfortunately, their only response was to link us back to the memo we were asking about.”

Tech: I really should have remembered this:

Perhaps Musk, like Steve Jobs, has a reality distortion field….

Tech: “DuckDuckGo CEO: Search Engine Is Not Purging Independent Media” [Heavy]. • There’s meme running around….

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 63 Greed (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 10 at 12:36 PM EST.


I thought I was the only one who hated the concept of a “battle” against, say, cancer. But no:

Class Warfare

“The past two weeks in US unions, October 23rd-November 6th(ish), 2022” [Jonah Furman, Who Gets the Bird?]. On rail: “Rail negotiation updates continue to trickle in, with the 6,000 members of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen voting down their agreement, joining the BMWE in rejecting the latest deal and preparing to strike. Meanwhile, the 5,000 members of Machinists District Lodge 19 narrowly voted to ratify their deal (52% voted yes, with 59% turnout). The thing I have stressed throughout is that although each union needs to ratify an agreement for it to officially be over, if just one of the unions strike it will likely provoke a national lockout/shutdown that will force Congressional action. Marty Walsh apparently wanted to make sure no rail workers accidentally voted Democrat in Tuesday’s midterm elections, so he went on CNN to tell them that Congress will preempt a strike. Obviously, rail workers know that in the event of a strike they are going to be forced back onto the job, the question is just under what terms; if Walsh says they’re going to be preempted, presumably that’ll be under the shitty deal that he helped broker and that at least the BRS has already explicitly rejected. Interestingly, the BMWE voted down a proposal to extend their cooling off period, and then days later re-voted (“vote til you get it right!”) and decided to extend it.”

News of the Wired

So, the unique selling proposition of Mastodon is tone policing?

Yes, I know Mastodon is federated, but this “good vibes” thing seems to be cultural, across servers. We don’t need no steenkin’ vibes!

* * *

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 CK:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 11

CK writes: “From a long ago stroll near the Pyrenees.”

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So if you see a link you especially like, or an item you wouldn’t see anywhere else, please do not hesitate to express your appreciation in tangible form. Remember, a tip jar is for tipping! Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of donations helps me with expenses, and I factor in that trickle when setting fundraising goals:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

2:00PM Water Cooler 11/10/2022 12

If you hate PayPal, you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check. Thank you!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email