Wednesday, June 22, 2022
HomeEconomics2:00PM Water Cooler 6/21/2022 | naked capitalism

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/21/2022 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Friendly Bush Warbler, Sabah, Malaysia. With forest sounds and a helicopter (?).

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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

“The January 6 Hearings Are Feckless Political Theater” [Peter Daou]. “The committee, which most Republicans boycotted, hired James Goldston, a documentary producer and former president of ABC News, to turn the hearings into engaging television with slick packaging and an array of pithy soundbites. The result is, and was meant to be, politics as reality television, a media diversion that will change nothing in the dismal American landscape. What should have been a serious bipartisan inquiry into an array of constitutional violations by the Trump administration has been turned into a prime-time campaign commercial for a Democratic Party running on fumes. The epistemology of television is complete.”

How exactly would a coup have happened? A thread:

Did I not get the memo on the “real theory”?

“Despite Growing Evidence, a Prosecution of Trump Would Face Challenges” [New York Times]. “What happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Trump wrote [see below on Trump’s statement], stemmed from an effort by Americans ‘to hold their elected officials accountable for the obvious signs of criminal activity throughout the election.’ His statement, while unfounded, carried a particular significance given the intensifying focus on whether he could face criminal charges. If the Justice Department were to bring a case against him, prosecutors would face the challenge of showing that he knew — or should have known — that his position was based on assertions about widespread election fraud that were false or that his attempt to block the congressional certification of the outcome was illegal.”

* * *

Sorry I missed Trump’s statement last week:

“STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP” (PDF) [Donald Trump]. Missed this when it came out. “The separation of powers is designed to make sure that no officials become dictators by granting the authority to make laws with the legislature and execute laws with the executive branch. No one office should have complete power. It must be separated among different offices. In 2020, separation of powers went out the window. The state executive branch, in both red and blue states, decided to completely ignore state laws, make up their own rules, and execute them. In other words, they became the little dictators our Constitution was designed to prevent. They illegally inflated voter rolls, illegally allowed harvested and stuffed ballots, abused the use of mail-in ballots, physically removed Republicans from counting facilities, abused the elderly in nursing homes, bribed election officials with donations, stopped counting on Election Night, gave Democrats three extra days to harvest ballots, and demanded that the American

people believe it was legitimate.” • I’ve gotta say, this is the first time I’ve seen the separation of powers applied to States. I’m no constitutional scholar. Does it? Here is the Daily Mail’s commentary–

“Trump responds to second day of January 6 hearings with 12-page statement where he blasts ‘SHAM’ investigation and complains ‘MAGA witnesses were interrogated behind closed doors’” [Daily Mail]. “But Trump, in his response, relies on the partisan support of his former adviser Peter Navarro and conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza to repeat his case that the election was stolen. Its footnotes are riddled with references to ‘2000 Mules,’ D’Souza’s much critcized documentary that claims to show how dropboxes were abused and the election was stolen from Trump.” • I still think that if Trump had been able to hire non-cray cray lawyer, Dominion would still be appealing a judgement to reveal its proprietary source code. So it goes.

“A Day After a Portrait of Pence in Danger, Trump Attacks Him Again” [New York Times]. “‘I never called Mike Pence a wimp,’ said Mr. Trump, whose daughter Ivanka was present for the call and later told her chief of staff that Mr. Trump had effectively called Mr. Pence a coward, using a vulgarity. Then, Mr. Trump went on to describe Mr. Pence as weak.’” • One of the reasons the Bolsheviks could seize the Winter Palace is that the Bolsheviks had organized the Czar’s machine-gun battalion in St. Petersburg. Somehow Trujp using bad words is being equated to this. (Last I checked, the Proud Boys weren’t packing, so….).

“The 22 wildest lines from Donald Trump’s 12(!)-page statement on the January 6 committee” [Chris Cilizza, CNN]. • Cilizza actually does a good job on this, which is pretty frightening. The last two lines:

21. “Nobody brings this up, but as President, I suffered years of vicious lies, scandals, and innuendo concerning a fake and contrived narrative of Russia, Russia, Russia.”

Allow me to quote from the Mueller Report: “(I)f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” reads the Mueller report. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. … Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

22. “This is merely an attempt to stop a man that is leading in every poll, against both Republicans and Democrats by wide margins, from running again for the Presidency.”

So, is Trump saying he is running for president again in 2024? Big news! Yeah, this feels like a good place to end.

Interesting on point #22; I’m not sure anybody else caught that.

“Liz Cheney Is Winning the January 6 Committee” [National Review]. “Congresswoman Cheney has been very effective in relating the committee’s blistering case against the former president. In the short run, however, recent polls suggest an inverse correlation between the impression she has made on the country at large (favorable) and the impression she has made at home in red Wyoming, where pro-Trumpers dominate GOP politics (not so favorable). There are two poles in GOP politics right now: (a) the too-gradually eroding pro-Trump faction that punches above its weight in intraparty matters and (b) the preponderant but diffident “wouldn’t it be nice if he just went away and let us fight today’s battles instead of relitigating 2020” crowd. These camps leave no traction for a “virulently anti-Trump” alternative — it motivates the former and, by keeping Trump front and center, irritates the latter. That being the case, there is no stomach for impeaching Trump yet again. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it. It’s that everything has its moment, and that moment is past. Today’s prudent Republican position is that Trump is a real problem but one that is fading (though too slowly); in the meantime, GOP objectives must be: Keep the spotlight on the faltering Biden administration and its ruinous woke-progressivism, wallop Democrats in the midterms, and then nominate someone who can win a national presidential election. The assumption is that the cumulative effect of pursuing these aims will marginalize Trump.”

Biden Administration

“AARP launches ads in W. Va. urging Manchin to support reconciliation bill” [NBC]. “AARP, the advocacy group for Americans over fifty, is launching new cable and broadcast TV ads in West Virginia urging centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., to support a budget reconciliation bill that includes a major prescription drug savings policy…. The recent Manchin-Schumer negotiations have been tight-lipped and the West Virginia Democrat, who scuttled the House-passed Build Back Better Act, is facing conflicting pressures on striking a narrower reconciliation deal over tax and spending policy that can bypass the filibuster. The new AARP ad campaign is designed to push back on drug industry opposition to the savings policy and aims to give Manchin political cover to support the bill.”


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NY: “How Many N.Y. Democrats Does It Take to Fill a House Seat? Try 15.” [New York Times]. “Mr. de Blasio, who once believed he could be elected president, has now set his sights lower, aiming to represent a newly redrawn House district in New York City. But he is far from alone. Others contesting the seat include a Levi Strauss heir who helped impeach Donald J. Trump; rising stars from the City Council and State Assembly; a Chinese American activist involved in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests; and a pathbreaking liberal who was the youngest woman ever elected to Congress — 50 years ago.There is also a sitting congressman currently representing a suburban region, who only recently moved into the district. Exactly when, he couldn’t say. ‘Time is a blur,’ said the congressman, Mondaire Jones, pivoting away from questions about his new residency, ‘when you’re fighting to end gun violence in America.’”


“Democrats Expect Joe Biden to Run in 2024. They’re Less Sure If He Should.” [Wall Street Journal]. “The White House has repeatedly said that Mr. Biden, 79, the oldest president to be sworn into office, intends to run for re-election. A person familiar with the president’s advisers’ thinking said they are planning on him running and that the private conversations have matched the public statements. The current discussion is that an announcement would happen after the midterm elections, likely sometime in the spring of 2023, this person said…. conversations with Democrats in Washington and in primary states found most don’t see a better or realistic option than the incumbent to top the 2024 ticket. Key Democrats also said they doubted many top-tier candidates would try to push Vice President Kamala Harris aside if Mr. Biden chose not to run, and early polls suggest she would likely be the initial front-runner in such an event. But her own poll numbers aren’t better than Mr. Biden’s, and Democrats have mixed views of how strong she would be leading a ticket. And some noted the party’s nomination fights in 2016 and 2020 included strong runs by liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), who has ruled out running against Mr. Biden but not Ms. Harris. Speculation among Democrats has touched on other 2020 contenders—Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and current Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg—as well as Biden infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu and Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Gavin Newsom of California, who has been taking a more assertive national role in sparring with Republicans on issues like abortion. But there is no obvious person whom party leaders would see as the best pick if neither Mr. Biden nor Ms. Harris topped the ticket.” • All familiar to NC readers. I think we need to give Jesse Ventura a serious look. We’d need to balance the ticket with somebody who has more Washington experience, so I’m going with Ventura/Kissinger.

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.

* * *


Lots of detail on RussiaGate. “Lawfare insurrection” is good framing, not least because it underlines how much the imperial apparatus is being deployed domestically:

Realignment and Legitimacy

Cf. Judges 12:6:

Cray cray? Or something more?


I am but a humble tape-watcher, and I’m perplexed about the current state of play. Case data is showing the fiddling-and-diddling behavior characteristic of a peak. However, nothing I hear in anecdotal case data tells me there’s any relief. Hospitalization data (trailing) is easing (and so the hospital-centric public health establishment probably thinks Covid is done). Positivity data (leading) has been fiddling and diddling as it too does at peaks. Then again, waste-water data (leading) is slightly downThe wild card is variants BA.4/5 (and I thought we were supposed to be giving names to these things). All the variant sources I have say BA.4/5 are up, but they differ as to how much and where, and the data is two weeks behind (hat tip, CDC; who could have known we’d need to track variant data?). I am reminded of the “stairstep” (see the Case count chart below: I muttered about this at the time) that marked the Delta/Omicron transition, just before Omicron’s amazing take-off. Perhaps a BA.4/5 transition will exhibit the same behavior. OTOH, I could be projecting patterns into clouds.

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• ”The Hollow Walls and Hidden Tunnels of Vancouver’s Storied Orpheum Theatre” [Monte Cristo Magazine].. “‘One of the most up-to-date ventilating systems on the continent was installed,’ notes former Orpheum manager Ivan Ackery in his memoirs. ‘Air was brought from the outside and blown through a series of water sprays or screens, heated to any desired degree, then forced through a system of ducts which distributed it to every part of the building through hundreds of small pipes which opened beneath the seats. , and with the aid of these huge air-washers, clean, dust-free air of even temperature was ensured at all times.’” • In 1927….

• Maskstravaganza:

* * *

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.

* * *

I cannot find a case count chart that integrates regional and national subtotals, so we are that much stupider. I thought the New York Times had the nicest data presentationL

Case count for the United States:

More or less level. Remember that 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 case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. Yesterday, the count was 106,900. Today, it’s 96,000, and 96,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 576000. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes had a basis in reality. (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.

• Swiss cheese strategy:

Or, we could not emulate Japan at all, and let ‘er rip!

• How is it that the only media figure raising questions on data is…. Zerlina Maxwell:

From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker:

0.0%. (I’m leaving the corporate logo on as a slap to and check on the goons at CDC.)

NOT UPDATED Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, June 15

• “Surveillance of omicron variants through wastewater epidemiology: Latest developments in environmental monitoring of pandemic” [Science of the Total Environment]. From the Abstract: “WBE has been a monitoring system that can give purposeful and inclusive real-time assessments of civic society as well as environmental health… This information will help to improve early detection strategies, designing a prevention strategy to reduce their spread, infection control and therapies, thus, strengthening our global preparedness to fight future epidemics.”

NOT UPDATED Variant data, regional (Biobot), June 1:

Hoo boy. Here is Biobot from May 25:

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), May 28:

Variant data, national (CDC), June 4:

Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. June 4 is two weeks ago, and given doubling behavior, BA.4/5 are probably beginning to dominate!

• “Omicron sub-variants BA.4, BA.5 account for 21% of COVID variants in U.S. – CDC” [Reuters]. “The BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are estimated to make up about 8.3% and 13.3% of the coronavirus variants in the United States as of June 11, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday.” • Estimated! Estimated! That’s CDC’s effing model, and we know how much to trust their models! Why in the name of all that is holy, and two years into the pandemic, aren’t we measuring?

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

Status quo.

The previous release:

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:

West Coast, and Midwest are all red. Seeing some orange (“substantial”) on the East Coast. Great Plains speckled with yellow and blue. Vermont reverts from blue to orange.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

Very volatile.

Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,038,385 1,037,928. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of interest today.

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* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 22 Extreme Fear (previous close: 14 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 17 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 21 at 1:50 PM EDT.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188. (Remember that bringing on the Rapture is good.)

Naked Capitalism Cooking Community™


I’d like to help you, Tom, in any way I can….


“Gaming’s Latest ‘AI’ Woman Recycles The Usual Sexist Tropes” [Kotaku]. “When I first saw Ana, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds publisher Krafton’s attempt to put a face on its artificial ‘virtual human’ technology, I was disappointed to see that this supposed Web 3.0 innovation was really just another pretty, pale girl. She’s airbrushed, but still tangible. She’s biting her tongue, looking at you. And I fear she exists only to be looked at, and not much else. Krafton released its first images of Ana on June 15. We got two tight close-ups of a vaguely East Asian woman with all of the expected egirl accoutrements, dyed hair and adventurous ear piercings. Ana, who was created with Unreal Engine, has a lightning bolt tattooed on her finger. It’s clearly visible when she puts her pinky up to her lips to stare at you with clear, amorous intent.” • Gad.

Class Warfare

“Natalia Molina, “A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community” (U California Press, 2022)” (podcast) [New Books Network]. ” Through deep research and vivid storytelling, Molina follows restaurant workers from the kitchen and the front of the house across borders and through the decades. These people’s stories illuminate the many facets of the immigrant experience: immigrants’ complex networks of family and community and the small but essential pleasures of daily life, as well as cross-currents of gender and sexuality and pressures of racism and segregation. The Nayarit was a local landmark, popular with both Hollywood stars and restaurant workers from across the city and beloved for its fresh, traditionally prepared Mexican food. But as Molina argues, it was also, and most importantly, a place where ethnic Mexicans and other Latinx L.A. residents could step into the fullness of their lives, nourishing themselves and one another. A Place at the Nayarit is a stirring exploration of how racialized minorities create a sense of belonging. It will resonate with anyone who has felt like an outsider and had a special place where they felt like an insider.”

News of the Wired

I’ll say he was “like”:

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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 JT McPhee:

JT McPhee writes: “Not sure what this is.”

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