2:00PM Water Cooler 8/31/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 8/31/2022 1

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient Readers, I interrupted my Water Cooler prep to perform an administrative task, hence what you will see at 2:00 will be truncated; more to come. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Great Bowerbird, Queensland, Australia. “Male near his 5 bowers (1 active, 4 older).” Five! Also lots of ambient noises, including, I swear, an owl.

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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

“Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Privately Blew Up Biden Nominee Needed to Enact Regulatory Agenda” [The Intercept]. “Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was the one to scuttle President Joe Biden’s choice to head the obscure but all-important Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, according to sources familiar with the standoff. The office was created to help speed — or, more accurately, make somewhat less torturous — the process of writing regulations, which requires input from the public, legal reviews, and coordination among a variety of agencies. The office will be crucial for implementing the Inflation Reduction Act, particularly its climate provisions, and with the House and Senate not guaranteed a Democratic majority come January, it could play an outsize role in carrying out Biden’s agenda…. The Biden administration began vetting Ganesh Sitaraman, a law professor at Vanderbilt University, in 2021…. Months later, in late spring, Sinema informed the White House that she would oppose Sitaraman. … Sitaraman is a former aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and the author of the book ‘The Public Option: How to Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality.’ He’s also a close friend of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.” • Ah, the dreaded public option. I can’t wait to see who 2022’s Sinema is. Because the Democrats always seem to have one.

It’s excellent the way that living a normal life has morphed into a return to debt slavery:


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AZ: “The Master Key to the Senate” [The American Conservative]. “Monday’s message from what looks like a hotel elevator bay is primary Masters through and through. ‘I’m declaring war on Joe Biden’s dysfunctional affirmative action regime,’ he tweeted with the video. ‘I don’t care if every single employee at the Fed is a black lesbian,’ he said, ‘as long as they’re hired for their competence and not because of what they look like or who they sleep with. News for Joe Biden, we are done with [I hate that “done with” locution] this affirmative action regime.’ So far, safe enough, but then, the consultant heart attack: ‘I can’t think of a single policy since the end of Jim Crow that’s been worse or more divisive for race relations in this country. Race quotas are wrong. Gender quotas are wrong. They’re unjust. They’re illegal. But the Democrats are addicted to this kind of identity politics garbage.” More: “Recent reports indicate the Senate Leadership Fund has cut about $8 million in advertising buys from the Arizona Senate race against Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly. Originally slated to kick off after Labor Day, nationally funded ads are now scheduled to start in October, a half-hearted last-month get-out-the-vote push before Arizonans head to the polls…. So the Trump-endorsed Masters has for now been released on his own recognizance. There is an upside to the national party apparently deciding you’re too much trouble to help; you can go and do your thing.”

PA: “Oz stumbles fuel Democratic hopes in Pennsylvania” [The Hill]. “Recent polling suggests that Fetterman is benefitting from the race’s current dynamics, with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifting the contest from ‘toss-up’ to ‘lean Democratic.’ ‘I think it presents an opportunity that nobody envisioned when the calendar turned to ’22,’ said T.J. Rooney, the former chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. ‘But having said that, there’s still a lot of ground to cover.’” • Rooney, despite being a Democrat loyalist, is correct. It’s not even Labor Day yet. More: “Recent polls have varied, with an Emerson College poll released on Monday showing Fetterman leading Oz 48 percent to 44 percent, and a separate Franklin and Marshall College poll released last week showing Fetterman leading Oz 76 percent to 62 percent. Fetterman’s lead is likely lower than 13 points, with the Real Clear Politics polling average showing him leading Oz by 7.8 points. ‘They’ve got reason to be optimistic, but I wouldn’t put Fetterman in office just yet,’ said Keith Naughton, a Republican consultant with experience working in Pennsylvania.”

PA: Good clean fun:

PA: “Fetterman rejects Oz offer to hold first debate, calls list of ‘concessions’ insulting” [NBC]. “John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for an open Senate seat in Pennsylvania, rejected Mehmet Oz’s offer to hold their first debate next week, saying the GOP candidate’s campaign thinks “it is funny to mock” his recovery from a stroke. ‘I’m eager to put my record and my values up against Dr. Oz’s any day of the week,’ Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, said in a statement Tuesday evening. ‘As I recover from this stroke and improve my auditory processing and speech, I look forward to continuing to meet with the people of Pennsylvania.’” • Here are the “concessions” from the Oz campaign:

Nice people running the Oz campaign, I must say. What will they do next? Kick Fetterman’s puppy?

PA: Fetterman on the trail (1):

PA: Fetterman on the trail (2):

PA: Fetterman’s theory of the case (see the above two tweets):

I don’t expect much from Fetterman or any other Democrat on policy, but the tactic is music to my ears. It’s much more important than a made-for-TV debate. Anyhow, Fetterman didn’t do too well in his Democrat primary debate, and still won in a walk while stroke-bound. In any case, if the Oz campaign staff is any good at all, they’ll have an oppo researcher recording Fetterman’s every public appearance, and if he slips a cog, the negative ads will start running the next day. So I don’t think much of their eye-poking over the debate; they’ll have what they want soon enough, if it is there to be had. Meanwhile, they look like [glassbowls], and for what? Also, Fetterman can’t be the only big guy in central PA who stroked out from a poor diet and too much hard work. I would bet people have priced all that in already.


“Poll: Youngkin Job-Approval Rating Hits 55 Percent” [National Review]. “A new poll by Roanoke College shows GOP governor Glenn Youngkin’s job-approval rating ticking up to 55 percent in Virginia, while President Biden’s job-approval rating is at a dismal 39 percent in a state he carried 54 percent to 44 percent in the 2020 presidential election. The Roanoke poll finds that most voters in the state disapprove of overturning Roe v. Wade, but the decision hasn’t hurt the pro-life governor’s standing. Youngkin said he’d push for a 15-week limit on abortion in the state, with exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother. But he has also said he’d sign an earlier limit on abortion if it made it through the state legislature.” • Presumably Roe v. Wade will be a long-forgotten memory by 2024 anyhow.

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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2020 Post Mortem

“Graham argues in new filing that calls to Georgia election officials are protected” [The Hill]. “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday pushed back against a recent filing by the Fulton County, Ga., district attorney that asked a federal judge to support a subpoena against him as part of a probe into former President Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state…. The South Carolina senator’s latest filing continues to argue that the call is protected under the Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, which protects lawmakers from lawsuits and prosecution for things they say and do as part of their legislative work, and it requests the court quash the entire subpoena.” • Nah, man.

Obama Legacy

“‘Picturing The Obamas’ Documentary Framed At Smithsonian Channel” [Deadline]. “A documentary about President Barack and Mrs. Michelle Obama’s portraits commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery is being drawn up by Smithsonian Channel. The Paramount Global-owned cabler is launching Picturing the Obamas on September 10 – three days after the unveiling of the White House portraits of the Obamas. The doc will see curators, journalists, and art critics discuss the ways that the pair’s portraits disrupted traditional presidential portraiture and spurred museums to reach new audiences. The portraits were unveiled in 2018, captivating the world, becoming an instant social media sensation and bringing record numbers to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. The Obamas’ portraits were created by two Black artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, a first for presidential portraits commissioned for the museum’s collection. They doubled annual attendance at the National Portrait Gallery and they went on a national tour last year. The special will include exclusive access as the portraits travel to museums in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston and Brooklyn. The film examines the legacy of the first Black president and First Lady through the experiences of everyday people. It follows a Latina community organizer, a young artist from Southside Chicago, and multigenerational members of the oldest Black sorority as they visit the portraits and reflect on the meaning of the Obamas today.” • The meaning? People don’t have meanings.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Biden on political violence (1):

Well, unless you’re suppressing Occupy from a DHS fusion center…. Or sending the National Guard to Ferguson… Or putting some poor schlub in a choehold…. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Biden on political violence (2):

Well, that’s helpful….

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“Exposing LA County Elections” [Patel Patriot’s Devolution Series] • This is a yard diagram, but I don’t think drawn too tight. Interestingly, it mentions Everyone Counts, a horrid vendor also used by [drumroll] CalPERS. It also mentions VSAP, but doesn’t go into the technical reasons for VSAP’s awfulness, as this extensive NC post does. (I should hat tip a reader for this link, but I can’t find them. Raise your hand in comments!)

Biden is correct than a real insurrection takes more than cosplay:


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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

Case count for the United States:

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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 ~88,700. Today, it’s ~88,700 and 88,700 * 6 = a Biden line at 532,200 per day. (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.

Regional case count for four weeks:

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The South:

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Florida and Texas to resume their dance?

The South (minus Texas and Florida):

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The West:

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Wastewater data (CDC), August 27:

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Very unhappy with the grey dots in California, or virtually no dots in Texas and Florida. We have no check on case numbers in critical states.

For grins, August 23:

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What I’m really worried about is an increase in grey dots (“no recent data”). because that would mean the effort is being shut down or defunded.


From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, August 30:

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-1.1%. The downward trend inside the red circle is actually encouraging.


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.)

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This is actually improving. More yellow in the Plains states and the Mountain states.

Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), August 30:

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

Previous Rapid Riser data:

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Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), August 30:

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Lots of green, which should make the hospital-centric goons at the Centers for Disease happy. Then again, Light Green is trending down, and Dark Green is straight down. What I would like to see is a lot of Dark Green. But I’m not.

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].

Lambert here: The last real — i.e., not modeled — data from CDC is August 6. That’s such a ginormous derelection I don’t even know what to say. Basic disrespect for honest, hardworking Americans trying to make their “personal risk assessments.” How on earth are people supposed to do that without variant data? Do the morons at CDC think BA.5 is going to be the last?

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), August 13:

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No sign of BA2.75 at Walgreens, despite its success in India and presence in Bay Area wastewater.

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), August 6 (Nowcast off):

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No sign of BA2.75 as yet.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

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Total: 1,069,748 – 1,069,499 = 249 (249 * 365 = 90,885, 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.

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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 RM:

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RM writes: “The grasshoppers have been rather vicious this year but the bees don’t mind them eating the leaves but don’t really care to dine with them on the sweets.” I’ve taken the bee + sunflower photo myself — but not this one!

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