2:00PM Water Cooler 5/04/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 5/04/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Warbler Week Two at Naked Capitalism. From Manitoba, Canada ion 1958 (!). Seven minutes of intermittent warbling, with trail sounds and night birds.

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“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

Capitol Seizure

Biden Adminstration

I’m going to skip all the liberal Democrat aghastitude on the Alito draft over-turning Roe, because we’ve heard it all before, and present instead such posts as I can find on the legal cases against Alito; they’re pretty thin on the ground.

Biden checked with President Manchin on that filibuster thing:

“THOMAS E. DOBBS, STATE HEALTH OFFICER OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL, PETITIONERS v. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION, FT AL.” (PDF) [Supreme Court of the United States]. This is Alito’s draft. Appendix A is “contains statutes criminalizing abortion at all stages of pregnancy in the States existing in 1868. The statutes appear in chronological order.” And so “Missouri (1825)” is first on the list (and I’m not sure, frankly, that “Missouri (1825)” is the killer argument Alito seems to think it is). Here is a critique of Appendix A’s list:

The thread is long, and does make me wonder if Appendix A is an example of conservative “copy-pasta.”

“The Supreme Court’s draft opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade, annotated” (not paywalled) [WaPo]. For example, a clever tactic by Alito:

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If anybody has a post defending Roe’s drafting, please add in comments; I find Alito’s excoriation pretty convincing (which says nothing about the effects of his draft, if it becomes “the law of the land”).

“It’s impossible to wall off reversing Roe from landmark marriage and contraception rulings” [CNN]. “In the draft, Alito said that what “sharply distinguishes” Roe, and the 1992 follow-up Casey v. Planned Parenthood, from those other cases is that abortion destroys ‘potential life.’ ‘None of the other decisions cited by Roe and Casey, involved the critical moral question posed by abortion,’ he said. ‘They do not support the right to an abortion, and by the same token, our conclusion that the Constitution does not confer such a right does not undermine them in any way.’ But critics of the draft decision will take cold comfort in Alito’s words attempting to wall off abortion from everything else They believe that if Alito’s opinion is ultimately rendered, it will represent an opening salvo in a push to target other rights grounded in privacy and liberty. It will also destabilize the law by rendering the legal doctrine of stare decisis — the notion that courts should follow their precedents even if they disagree with them, to protect the cohesion of the law — a dead letter. And it will raise new questions about the politicization of the court… legal experts are skeptical that the fallout won’t be swift. They point to another part of Alito’s draft opinion. He noted that the Biden administration had relied upon decisions like Lawrence v. Texas (the right to engage in private, consensual sexual acts) and Obergefell v. Hodges (the right to marry a person of the same sex) in defending Roe. ‘These attempts to justify abortion through appeals to a broader right to autonomy and to define one’s ‘concept of existence’ prove too much,’ Alito wrote. He said that such criteria ‘at a high level of generality’ could license fundamental ‘rights to illicit drug use, prostitution, and the like.’ ‘None of these rights has any claim to being deeply rooted in history,’ he said.” • To say that legal reasoning has knock-on effects is not to refute the reasoning. That said, this “deeply rooted in history” catchphrase — What is “deep”? What is “rooted”? Who decides? — which Alito fondles as if it were a rosary, doesn’t impress me much. Slavery, after all, was rooted in history. So was the idea that the State couldn’t set maximum working hours (Lochner). One might, in fact, argue that in history, “the only constant is change.” That is the root.

“Gay marriage, other rights at risk after U.S. Supreme Court abortion move” [Reuters]. “Abortion is among a number of fundamental rights that the court over many decades recognized at least in part as what are called “substantive” due process liberties, including contraception in 1965, interracial marriage in 1967 and same-sex marriage in 2015. Though these rights are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, they are linked to personal privacy, autonomy, dignity and equality. Conservative critics of the substantive due process principle have said it improperly lets unelected justices make policy choices better left to legislators. Alito reasoned in the draft that substantive due process rights must be ‘deeply rooted’ in U.S. history and tradition and essential to the nation’s ‘scheme of ordered liberty.’ Abortion, he said, is not, and rejected arguments that it is essential for privacy and bodily autonomy reasons.” • Roots grow downward, as the tree grows. Hence, the most deeply rooted roots are the newest, not the oldest, as Alito would have it. Block that metaphor!

““Deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” [Hogeland’s Bad History]. “For precedent [on “deeply rooted”], Alito cites Washington v. Glucksberg—that’s the source of the material in the quotation marks above. In that 1997 decision, the court came up with what Justice Kavanaugh has called “the Glucksberg test,” a concept that the legal right wing has adopted as the standard for determining which if any rights not enumerated in the Constitution are protected and which are not. In 2018, the writer Ian Millhiser pointed out in a ThinkProgress article that in his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh asserted that ‘all roads lead to the Glucksberg test,; from which Milhiser deduced—correctly, we now know, if we didn’t before—that Kavanaugh was eager to overturn Roe v. Wade. Millhiser also noted that in a 2017 speech, Kavanaugh had already explicitly connected the Glucksberg test to the idea that the Roe case had been wrongly decided. All of which Senator Collins either didn’t notice or care to notice, or pretended not to notice, when she claimed she’d reject any nominee who would overturn it…. But wait. A principle so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental? That’s a rule? I mean—ranked by whom? How? And the conscience of which of the people? Not of the very essence of a scheme of ordered liberty? Who decided what’s of the ‘very essence’ of such a scheme? When?… Alito’s draft thus cites precedent that itself relies on decisions denying federal protections for trial by jury and against self-incrimination. Along with Kavanaugh’s and others’ elevating such stuff as the basis for a so-called hard-and-fast test, all of this suggests to me that the roots of the deep-rootedness run pretty deeply into an Anglophile national fantasia wrapped in a wishful oratory framed in the passive voice.” • Well worth a read as Hogeland traces back the case law.

“No, Justices Did Not Commit Perjury in Their Confirmation Hearings When Asked About Roe” [Jonathan Turley]. “In recent hearings, some of us have criticized Democratic members for demanding assurances on how nominees would vote on particular cases or issues. However, both Democratic and Republican nominees have largely stuck to rote responses on Roe and other cases to refuse to make such commitments. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously insisted, there would be ‘no forecasts, no hints.’ The problem is that politicians often display a type of selective auditory attention problem: they hear what they want to hear. Indeed, confirmation hearings are highly choreographed on both sides. Each senator seeks to secure a thirty-second clip showing that he or she secured assurances or trashed a nominee. For pro-choice senators like Sen. Collins, it is essential to have some answer that would support a claim that, despite seemingly antagonistic judicial philosophical views, a nominee would not likely overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.” • I think Turley is logic-chopping, here. I don’t think the issue is perjury, or what was said at the hearings (“confirmation nonspeak’). Certainly, for Collins, the issue is that Kavanaugh looked her in the eye in her office and lied to her face. I don’t know what the legalities of that are. (I mean, is lying to a Senator like lying to the FBI? During a job interview.) Structurally, the issue is credentialism-blinded liberal Democrats made the hearings all about “professional qualifications,” when they should have hammered on ideology from the beginning. Bork should have been the start of that, not the ending.

“Democratic Party Betrayal, Abortion, and the Supreme Court” [Black Agenda Report]. The lead: “Democrats have been fooled into thinking that only the courts can protect abortion rights. In fact, legislation could protect abortion permanently, but their party has refused to do that. Now that SCOTUS control is lost because of their corruption and betrayals, they continue to spin lies that bamboozle the party faithful.” • Yep. It does occur to me that working class women lost the right to a legal abortion years ago. The voters the Democrats hope to activate, one might speculate, are suburban women. If that’s true, it will be interesting to see how the Republican attempt to nationalize issues with the schools play out, since schools are also a matter of great concern to these women.

“What Now?” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “But, what about a blue state, like Virginia. In the 2021 gubernatorial contest, Democrat Terry McAuliffe spent more than $2 million on ads like this one accusing his GOP opponent, Glenn Youngkin of wanting to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. Even so, that was less than half the amount that the McAuliffe campaign on ads trying to link Youngkin with Donald Trump. This suggests that the abortion issue, even in a state as blue as this one, wasn’t moving the needle for the voters the McAuliffe campaign was targeting. Exit polls in that race found that Youngkin did better among the 54 percent of Virginia voters who fall in the middle of the spectrum on the issue of abortion. Youngkin took 37 percent of the vote among those who want abortion to be “legal in most cases,” while McAuliffe took just 12 percent of the vote among those who want abortion to be ‘illegal in most cases.’ Bottom Line: We are in the very early stages of what could be the first major change to abortion laws in 50 years. As such, we need to watch the above benchmarks like salience and enthusiasm about the issue very closely. And, given that these battles will take place at the state level, we’ll also need to get more state by state data to make any projections on the impact it could have on individual statewide races.”


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“Trump flexes and the center shrinks: 5 takeaways from a key primary night” [Politico]. “Trump probably has one more chance to run for president, in 2024. But the 75-year-old former president is putting an imprint on the party in the midterms that could last for decades, regardless of whether he runs again. Vance, his endorsed candidate in the Ohio Senate race, is only 37. Max Miller, a former Trump aide who won his House primary in Ohio in a landslide, is in his early 30s. In a northeast Ohio House race, Trump-backed attorney Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, who is 30, was running ahead in early returns. Rep. Ted Budd, who has a comfortable lead in North Carolina’s Senate primary, which will be held later this month, is 50. If Trump’s candidates keep winning, it will all add up to a lot of Trump loyalty coursing through the party for years.” Also and interestingly: “Of all of Mike Pence’s carefully plotted maneuvers ahead of a possible 2024 presidential bid, it was his endorsement of a close friend in a little-watched Indiana county prosecutor race that proved most pivotal in his backyard. In the GOP primary for Hamilton County prosecutor, Pence backed challenger Greg Garrison, his handpicked successor on his old radio show “The Mike Pence Show.” Pence pulled out all of the stops for Garrison, who beat longtime incumbent D. Lee Buckingham Tuesday night.” And: “There’s one area in which the activist wing of the Republican Party appears likely to keep struggling — dispatching incumbent governors.”

OH: “Vance Wins Republican Senate Primary in Ohio After Nod From Trump” [New York Times]. “J.D. Vance, the best-selling author whose “Hillbilly Elegy” about life in Appalachia illuminated a slice of the country that felt left behind, decisively won the Ohio Senate primary on Tuesday after a late endorsement by Donald J. Trump helped him surge past his rivals in a crowded field. Casting himself as a fighter against the nation’s elites, Mr. Vance ran as a Trump-style pugilist and outsider who railed against the threats of drugs, Democrats and illegal immigration, while thoroughly backpedaling from his past criticisms of the former president…. Mr. Vance had been trailing in most polls behind Josh Mandel, a former Ohio state treasurer who had also aggressively pursued Mr. Trump’s backing, until the former president’s mid-April endorsement helped vault Mr. Vance ahead…. Trump-style Republicans did not prevail in the other top contest on Tuesday. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a more traditional Republican who has held offices in the state for more than 40 years, finished far ahead of his multiple primary rivals after a strong right-wing challenge never gained traction despite some conservative backlash to Mr. DeWine’s early and assertive response to the coronavirus pandemic…. In the Senate race, Mr. Vance will now face Representative Tim Ryan, a 48-year-old Democrat from the Youngstown area who has positioned himself as a champion of blue-collar values and has not aligned with some of his party’s more progressive positions.” • The press fell in love with “Hillbilly Elegy,” no doubt because of its emphasis on personal risk assessment responsibility. (If you want to get a real look at what’s happening out in the biomass, look at Chris Arnade’s photographs, which are brilliant and far more interesting than Vance, who after all grew up to be a venture capitalist, and a good friend of Peter Thiel, though not, so far as we know, an actual blood bag.) The Trillbillies won’t think much of Vance’s victory, I would venture to guess.

OH: “House Incumbent Tops Progressive as Democrats Wrestle Over Focus” [Bloomberg]. “Representative Shontel Brown easily turned back a challenge from progressive activist Nina Turner in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat in Ohio that was seen as part of the struggle for influence between the party’s two wings. With most of the ballots counted in the Cleveland-based district, Brown had 66% of the vote to Turner’s 33%, according to a tally compiled by the Associated Press.” • Yikes. Sadly, I think Turner needs to find another line of work.

PA: Another Fetterman/Lamb/Kenyatta debate, seemingly with few fireworks:


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!). 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.

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Our Famously Free Press

“Sen. Josh Hawley introduces bill to dissolve Biden’s ‘unconstitutional’ DHS disinformation board” [FOX]. • Hawley’s bill could, of course, be performative (though Republicans do tend to get things done). If Republicans deliver on this, I’m gonna have to give serious consideration to no longer giving Democrat candidates the deference I would normally give them. (I try to be cynical, or realistic, enough, I really do, but never, never would I have imagined that a shadowy combination of Silicon Valley tech firms and Blob drones would try to deny writers the means to make a living by exercising their First Amendment rights. It’s astounding. And under a Democrat Administration, too. (The idea that the dominant factions of the PMC, after 2016, gobsmacked by the loss of their champion to Trump, simultaneously came to class consciousness and declared “a state of exception” gives an account of such events.) Consortium News had less than $10,000 in their PayPal account when the ban hammer came down. That’s the catering bill for a half-day conference of weapons manufacturers on Capitol Hill. Why the hysterical reaction to a tiny venue? “Blob Fragility”?


“To Spy on a Trump Aide, the FBI Pursued a Dossier Rumor the Press Shot Down as ‘Bullshit’” [RealClear Investigations]. “Though the FBI presumably had access to better sources than the newspaper, agents did little to verify the rumor that Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page had secretly met with sanctioned Kremlin officials in Moscow. Instead, the bureau pounced on the dossier report the day it received it, immediately plugging the rumor into an application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to wiretap Page as a suspected Russian agent. The allegation, peddled to both the press and FBI in the summer of 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to dig up dirt on Trump during the presidential race, proved to be the linchpin in winning approval for the 2016 warrant, which was renewed three times in 2017 – even though the FBI learned there were serious holes in the story and had failed to independently corroborate it. The revelations of early media skepticism about the Trump-Russia narrative before journalists embraced it are included in a 62-page batch of emails between Fusion and prominent Beltway reporters released by Special Counsel John Durham, who is scouring the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for evidence of abuse and criminal wrongdoing. The documents suggest that some journalists, as keen as they were to report dirt on Trump, were nevertheless more cautious than FBI investigators about embracing hearsay information served up by Clinton agents. (The FBI declined comment.)”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Institutionalist’s Dilemma” [Alex Pareene]. “One of the more consequential contradictions of the Democratic Party is that the vast majority of its staffers, consultants, electeds, and media avatars, along with a substantial portion of its electoral base, are institutionalists. They believe, broadly, in The System. The System worked for them, and if The System’s outputs are bad, it is because we need more of the right sort of people to join or be elected to enter The System. But when the party does manage to win majorities, it depends on support from a substantial number of anti-system people. Barack Obama defeated the Clintons with this sacred knowledge, before he started reading David Brooks. Institutionalists, in my experience, have trouble reaching an anti-system person, because they think being against The System is an inherently adolescent and silly mindset. But believing in things like “the integrity of the Supreme Court” has proven to be, I think, much sillier, and much more childish…. I think some people in the White House have some sick hope that the end of Roe will galvanize the midterm electorate. Something like that may indeed happen. But if they wish to understand why the president has been bleeding youth support for the last year they should try to imagine these young people (and “young”, at this point, has expanded to like 45) not as the annoying and hyper-engaged freaks they see on Twitter every day, but as ones they don’t see anywhere, because, having been urged to pay furious attention by people in the party, they discovered that those people had absolutely no realistic plans to overcome entrenched, systemic obstacles to progress. Maybe some of those voters went back to brunch. I suspect many of them went back to work brunch.”


“Carnival Cruise Ship passengers say COVID overwhelmed ship” [Associated Press]. “Passengers on a Carnival Cruise Ship that docked Tuesday in Seattle say more than 100 people aboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19 and the ship was overwhelmed. Multiple people say they’re in quarantine at Seattle-area hotels after testing positive or being exposed to someone with COVID-19. Carnival Cruise Line would not confirm how many people tested positive, but said there were a number of positive cases, KING5 reported. Darren Sieferston, a passenger on the cruise from Miami to Seattle, is in quarantine after testing positive. He said the crew’s response was chaotic. ‘They didn’t have enough staff to handle the emergency that was happening, period,’ said Sieferston. ‘They were overwhelmed and they didn’t have a backup course in how to handle about 200 people affected with COVID. We all suffered.’ Passengers tell KING 5 they waited hours for meals, weren’t properly isolated and couldn’t get ahold of medical staff.” • Yes, this is what “living with Covid” means. What’s the issue here? Petri dishes gotta Petri!

Because “Covid is over” (1):

The account is BU’s Chair of the Department of Environmental Health.

WHCA superspreading event (1):

WHCA superspreading event (2):

WHCA superspreading event (3):

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(Via KHN.)

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Lambert here: I am but a humble tape-watcher, but if some trusting, non-realist soul tells you that “Covid is over,” you can tell them that cases are up, transmission is up, test positivity is up, hospitalization is up, rapid riser counties are up, and wastewater is up, too. And this is all from data designed to support the narrative that “Covid is over,” and gamed within an inch of its life. So, if signals like that are flashing red, consider what the real signal must be like. (Note also this is all with BA.2 only, and with what the establishment considers an “immune wall” made from vaccination and prior infection. Since semper aliquid novi Africam adferre, and we’ve let ‘er rip at the airports…. Well, I just hope we get lucky with BA.4 and BA.5. “God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.” –Otto von Bismarck.

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If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness 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:

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Looks like the train is rolling, now. Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out. Also 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. Gottlieb thinks we only pick up one in seven or eight. The “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises. The “Biden Line” shows what the case count would be if it were 57,000 * 6 = 342,000, i.e. not gamed. (I changed the Biden Line from dotted to solid because the dotted line was too hard to draw properly in my crude tool.)

Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

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Worth noting that cases have nearly doubled in four weeks.

“Newer, fitter descendants of Omicron variant begin to drive their own coronavirus waves” [CNN]. “There’s no denying the numbers: Even with spotty [crippled] reporting, Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising again in the United States.” Not to preen [lambert preens] but NC readers already know this. More: “Cases are trending up in most states and have increased by more than 50% compared with the previous week in Washington, Mississippi, Georgia, Maine, Hawaii, South Dakota, Nevada and Montana. In New York, more than a quarter of the state’s population is in a county with a ‘high’ Covid-19 community level, where the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends indoor masking. Average daily hospitalizations are up about 10% since last week, according to data collected by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The culprit this time appears to be a spinoff of Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant called BA.2.12.1, which was first flagged by New York state health officials in April.” • Er, no. The “culprit” is a public health establishment that not only failed to protect the public, but actively worked to harm them (and that establishments masters and owners).

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.

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

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I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to the goons at CDC.

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Both North and South services have turned up.

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.

From Biobot Analytics:

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Northeast unflattened, and — hat tip to readers for pointing to this — it looks like past aggregation was adjusted up.

Cases lag wastewater data.

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

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California slightly worse. Oregon worse. (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.) It would be nice if the falling wastewater measures in California presaged a drop in cases. (OTOH, the Biobot data is only as good as the non-representative sample it uses, so…).

Well spotted by alert reader Lou Anton:

Rapid Riser Counties:

As the “COVID weather pattern” moves NE to Midwest (and maybe West to SW in the future?), I can see the big metropolitan areas and college towns are getting hit:

Illinois: NE Cluster is Chicagoland, central Illinois is college towns (University of Illinois, Illinois State, Illinois Wesleyan), SW is the Metro East of St. Louis.

Wisco: Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay

Indiana: Gary, South Bend, West Lafayette, Indianapolis

Michigan: Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek

Ohio: Youngstown and Akron, Cincinnati meeting soon, meet you in the middle Columbus.

Let. ‘er. rip.

Confirming: The one red county in Kansas is Sedgwick, home of Wichita State. But don’t worry. All those kids will soon by traveling home for the summer! Oh, wait…

The previous release:

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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:

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The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red. Now California is red as well. The Upper Midwest is moving that way, too. (The Unorganized Territories in Maine are back to red, good job.)

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

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Hospitalization is most definitely up in many places. (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.)

Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Total: 1,021,581 1,021,089. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. A blip upward, but every previous blip has been followed by continued decline, at least in the recent past.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

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Still a bumpy ride…. (Note the quality of these numbers varies wildly. For example, the UK is cutting back on testing data.

Stats Watch

“United States ISM Non Manufacturing PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The ISM Services PMI for the US fell to 57.1 in April of 2022 from 58.3 in March and below forecasts of 58.5, mostly due to the restricted labor pool which caused employment to fall (49.5 vs 54) and the slowing of new orders growth (54.6 vs 60.1).”

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Shipping: “Maersk Exits Russian Assets While Navigating China Congestion” [Bloomberg]. ” [Russia] accounted for 2% of its business. “We are writing down all the assets that we have in Russia to zero basically’ and will try to divest those port and warehousing assets in coming quarters, [CEO Soren Skou] says. ‘It will take a little while, I suspect, but there are active talks.’… ‘We are seeing the impact’ related to a lack of labor to move goods, he says. ‘The ports right now are open for business, but it only really works if the landside is also.’ Maersk is ‘seeing a negative impact on our volumes out of China right now from Covid-19 lockdowns — not as much as you may expect, but we’re certainly seeing an impact.’”

Tech: “Black Twitter Is Not a Place. It’s a Practice.” [Tressie McMillem Cottom, New York Times]. “On a typical day last week, my iPhone was logged into Twitter for over five hours.” That’s all? More: “Twitter is a small commons, not commonly held. It is nowhere near the largest or most profitable social networking site, but it is loud. It is a kaffeeklatsch for educated, middle-class cultural workers who kind of hate their jobs. Young people think we are old for using Twitter. Normal people think we are strange.” I disagree on this. Twitter has plenty of “normal” verticals; aerosol science being one such. More: “If you are a billionaire who wants to buy Twitter, you probably want to buy the Twitter that changes conversations and innovates culture. But the Twitter that Elon Musk is buying is not guaranteed to be that Twitter. Twitter’s significance is not about revenue or advertising platforms or new features. It is about communities that create ideas. The real Twitter lives in the practices of people who can migrate at any time. User migration and social fragmentation are the real present threat to Twitter’s cultural dominance.” • This is well worth a read, including the origin of Black Twitter in Live Journal (!),

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 34 Fear (previous close: 32 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 29 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 4 at 1:36 PM EDT.

The Gallery


Class Warfare

See the KHN chart under #COVID19.

News of the Wired

“What Birds Really Listen for in Birdsong (It’s Not What You Think)” [Scientific American]. “when researchers analyze birdsong, we usually break it down into smaller units, termed notes or syllables. We then group the syllables into sequences called phrases or motifs that have characteristic rhythms and tempos. In this way, we can measure potentially important aspects of song, such as the number of syllable types in a bird’s repertoire or the patterns in which phrases are arranged. These descriptions also parallel the ways we mark the relations among words in human syntax or among notes in musical compositions. But what do the birds think about all these features? How does birdsong sound to them? Recent research that my colleagues and I have conducted, along with work from a growing number of other scientists around the world, has revealed that birdsong sequences do not sound to birds like they do to us. Moreover, birds appear to listen most closely not to the melodies that catch our ears but rather to fine acoustic details in the chips and twangs of their songs that lie beyond the range of human perception.”

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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 Marku52:

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Marku52 writes: “The adequately named Redbud, pursued by Sasquatch.”

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NOTE ON PAYPAL: As some readers may know, PayPal whacked Consortium News’s account, for no justification that I can see. It’s to be hoped that Consortium News has its account restored, and that NC doesn’t come under the same ban hammer. In the meantime, until I/we can come up with an alternative, I must continue to rely on PayPal (and rely I do). I will be cleaning out the account daily, and PayPal does give a heads-up, so your risk is minimal. Please carry on as before, or, if you feel you must, write me and I will send you directions for sending a check. Please put “PayPal” in the subject line. Thank you for your support! It is much appreciated, and helps me with responsibilities. –lambert

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the recently concluded and — thank you! — successful 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 5/04/2022 17

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!

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