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2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente. Bird Song of the Day Night sounds from Ethiopia. * * * #COVID19 At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. I’ve been thinking of new charts to monitor to alert us to the next outbreak, assuming there is one, but for now, the data from the South means I’ll stick to the status quo. Vaccination by region: Up and down, up and down, with a rising trendline, and an uptick in the South. Case count by United States regions: Case decline has now clearly flattened. Here are the case counts for the last four weeks in the South (as defined by the US Census: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland,

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Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 7/21/2021

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Night sounds from Ethiopia.

* * *


At reader request, I’ve added this daily chart from 91-DIVOC. The data is the Johns Hopkins CSSE data. Here is the site.

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching. I’ve been thinking of new charts to monitor to alert us to the next outbreak, assuming there is one, but for now, the data from the South means I’ll stick to the status quo.

Vaccination by region:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Up and down, up and down, with a rising trendline, and an uptick in the South.

Case count by United States regions:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Case decline has now clearly flattened.

Here are the case counts for the last four weeks in the South (as defined by the US Census: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Florida, capital of Latin America, has joined Texas in breaking away from the pack. To be fair, we aren’t seeing a steeply rising curve, either. Fizzling out?

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Not entirely good news.

Test positivity:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Downtick in the South?

Hospitalization (CDC):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Continued good news.

Deaths (Our World in Data):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Continued good news.

Covid cases worldwide:

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

Monroe Doctrine countries not doing so hot.

* * *


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Biden Administration

“Biden-Putin summit: Key takeaways from their high-stakes meeting” [ABC]. “Biden also called the summit “positive” and declared it a success at his later news conference, saying, “I did what I came to do.” Neither leader would bite when asked if they could trust the other. Biden said, ‘it’s not about trust.’ ‘This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest,’ he said. ‘Almost anyone that I would work out an agreement with that affected the American people’s interest, I don’t say, ‘Well, I trust you, no problem. Let’s see what happens.’ You know, as that old expression goes, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating.'” • Biden quoting Karl Marx certainly wasn’t on my bingo card. I wonder if he used that line with Putin?

“Biden’s big Putin bet” [Vox]. “If one phrase defines President Joe Biden’s approach to negotiating, it’s “all politics is personal.” When he uses that line, he aims to convey a rock-ribbed belief that finding what the other person can and can’t accept — be it a member of Congress from the other party or a foreign leader — will eventually lead to better relations and even mutually agreeable deals. During a Wednesday press conference following his Geneva summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden showed once more that he puts a lot of faith in that approach. ‘All foreign policy is the logical extension of personal relationships,” Biden said. ‘It’s the way human nature functions.’ That’s not Biden saying all it takes to improve US-Russia relations is to have a one-on-one chat with Putin, although they did have a roughly 90-minute discussion. It meant, as he went on to explain, that because of that discussion, both men are now clear on what red lines not to cross as they seek to cooperate on arms control, cybersecurity, and more. That outcome, in Biden’s mind, was worth the trip.” • Commentary:

I don’t know. The crowned heads of Europe were all related to each other in 1914, and communicated constantly. And yet….

“Biden: To be a good reporter, ‘you’ve got to have a negative view of life'” [The Hill]. Biden to the press: “‘I mean, you’re the brightest people in the country. You’re the most informed people on details. I’m not being solicitous. You are,’ Biden said. ‘But it makes no sense for me to negotiate with you. It makes no sense to me to tell you what I’m about to do. Not because I want to hide anything from you. But why would I telegraph that?'”

Come on, man:

“House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq War authorization” [Associated Press]. “he Democratic-led House, with the backing of President Joe Biden, passed legislation Thursday to repeal the 2002 authorization for use of military force in Iraq, a step supporters said was necessary for Congress to reassert its constitutional duty to weigh in on matters of war while detractors worried that it would embolden militia or terror groups operating in the region. The repeal legislation was passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 268-161. Forty-nine Republicans voted for the bill. Only one Democrat, Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, voted against it. Supporters said repeal would not affect U.S. military operations around the world, but could prevent current and future presidents from relying on it to conduct unrelated military actions. The White House says there are no ongoing military activities reliant solely upon the 2002 authorization.” • 2021 – 2002 = 19 years. Quife a legacy for the Bush administration.

Health Care

“Court again leaves Affordable Care Act in place” [SCOTUSBlog]. “In a much-anticipated decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected another effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law often regarded as the signature legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama. The justices did not reach the main issue in the case: whether the entirety of the ACA was rendered unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance. Instead, by a vote of 7-2, the justices ruled that neither the states nor the individuals challenging the mandate have a legal right to sue, known as standing. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion. He was joined by the other two liberal justices, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, as well as four conservatives: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Samuel Alito wrote a dissent and was joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Clinton endorses Nina Turner’s opponent:

The kiss of death, hopefully.

“New York’s mayoral race remains a tossup after final Democratic debate” [Politico]. “After six months of endless zoom forums, erratic polls and a truncated campaign season, the race remains a tossup less than a week out. With ranked-choice voting throwing more uncertainty into the process, the Democratic nominee, who is all but certain to win the general election, will likely not be named until well after Tuesday’s primary…. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have already cast their votes: As of Wednesday, 84,132 ballots have come in through early voting, which kicked off on Saturday, according to the city Board of Elections. But the turnout so far has been slow compared to the hordes who lined up to vote early in the November presidential election. Going into the closing weekend of the race, campaigns have much more work to do to win over and turn out potential supporters.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “12 June 2021 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Modestly Improves” [Econintersect]. “Market expectations for weekly initial unemployment claims (from Econoday) were 350 K to 370 K (consensus 364 K), and the Department of Labor reported 412,000 new claims. The more important (because of the volatility in the weekly reported claims and seasonality errors in adjusting the data) 4 week moving average moved from 403,000 (reported last week as 402,500) to 395,000.”

Manufacturing: “June 2021 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Index Little Changed” [Econintersect]. “Overall, this report was worse than last month as key elements declined.”

* * *

Tech: “The Citizen App’s Gamification of Vigilantism” [The New Republic]. “To get a sense of what Citizen and its corporate backers want—what it might become as it scales beyond simple transcriptions of police scanner reports to a fully featured, video-rich social network and media center—it’s helpful to survey recent coverage of the app and to poke through some of the company’s own media and job listings. The vision that emerges is grim, almost like Running Man, the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie about a game show where criminals try to escape from people sent to hunt them down. Citizen seems to aspire to nothing less than a vertically integrated, 24-hour news-and-reporting network for crime, which, by offering constant notifications, live media, and premium protection services, including in-person private security, hopes to monetize the fears of an uncertain public—the same public it’s supposed to be informing. If Citizen’s vision for itself succeeds, the next big social network will be one that turns people into surveillers—and potential suspects—in a constantly monetized livestream of supposedly crime-ridden urban life. Using fear as a revenue stream, the company seems less concerned with promoting care for one’s fellow citizens than redefining crime, broadcasting it, and securing its most wealthy users against it. For the rest of us, well, we can try to enjoy the show.” •

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 40 Fear (previous close: 45 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 52 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 17 at 12:50pm. No longer stuck in neutral!

Health Care

“COVID-19 Deaths: Who Wasn’t Counted?” [Capital & Main]. “Since early in the pandemic, epidemiologists, concerned with the potential undercounting of virus cases in situations like Gilliam’s and Davis’ (especially in the wake of an early bungled rollout of COVID-19 testing), have tracked “excess death” as a rough approximation of the pandemic’s impact on the country. The statistic, a widely accepted way of monitoring the emergence of mass casualty events such as infectious outbreaks, compares the overall death rate over the past 16 months to that of the prior eight years. The spike since last year has been stunning. Between Feb. 1, 2020, and June 9, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracked up to 713,873 excess deaths, of which nearly a quarter — up to 169,687 — are not currently attributed to COVID-19. That many Americans would fill the New Orleans Superdome twice over. By June of last year, Americans’ average life expectancy had fallen to 77.8 years, meaning Americans were expected to live a full year less, on average, than they had been expected to live in 2019. While not all of the excess deaths during the pandemic are likely to have been caused directly by COVID-19, experts say the discrepancy points to the likely undercounting of COVID-19 cases because it is far higher than can be explained by historical patterns or official COVID-19 numbers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently estimated that, globally, the true death burden from the pandemic is up to three times that of official statistics. Widely accepted scientific models estimating excess death — like the one used by the WHO — have been met with skepticism from some conservatives, who have derided them as efforts to inflate the counts. But if the models are accurate, it means that thousands of deaths resembling Davis’ and Gilliam’s — with official causes other than COVID-19, but reasons to suspect otherwise — could be going uncounted.”

Police State Watch

“L.A. County sheriff’s deputy charged with deleting cellphone video of her assaulting man during arrest in Lancaster” [KTLA]. “Nicole Bell, 27, is accused of assaulting the man while he sat in the back of her patrol vehicle on July 30, the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release…. As the man was assaulted, a family member captured some of the attack on cellphone video. But Bell deleted the video from their phone, the DA’s office said. She’s facing one felony count each of accessing and altering computer data without permission; altering, planting or concealing evidence as a peace officer; and assault by an officer.” • From a long thread of examples showing the “Cops lying is common”:

From a #NeverTrump conservative!

“Entire Portland Police Rapid Response Team Resigns” [KXL]. “FM News 101 learned late Wednesday night that in response to the criminal indictment of Officer Corey Budworth, the bureaus entire Rapid Response Team resigned. Sources with the Police Bureau say the team voted unanimously to disband. The Rapid Response Team is a group of volunteer officers who respond to civil disobedience, demonstrations, and riots. Tuesday, a member of the team was charged with assault for actions during an August 18, 2020 riot in Southeast Portland.”


Looks like at least one MMTer on the inside:


“Freedom Ride: How Not to Celebrate Juneteenth” [Black Agenda Report]. “Juneteenth was largely a regional holiday celebrated by Black people in Texas and other southern states. It commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston and announced that slavery ended as per General Order Number 3… Juneteenth was a big event in the segregated south, a people’s holiday. That is how it should remain. Corporations which work against the people’s interests should not be allowed to absolve themselves by engaging in performative acts. Politicians who aid them at every turn should not be permitted to utter Juneteenth platitudes and create a new public relations farce. An opportunity to discuss resistance against oppression has been turned into a substance-free feel good day. Black people don’t need governmental or corporate acknowledgement in order to tell their stories. In fact, learning history for our own sake is of paramount importance. Juneteenth can be the starting point for further study. Let Juneteenth remain a commemoration with significance for ourselves. Doing otherwise inevitably leads to confusion.” • Well worth reading in full.

Guillotine Watch

Where’s the lie:

Class Warfare

“Opioids Rip Through U.S. Workforce, With Deaths at Record Level” [Bloomberg]. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic was the drug epidemic. Its relentless toll added a record 90,722 overdose deaths in the U.S. for the year through November 2020, a grim number obscured by coronavirus casualties that recently topped 600,000, according to federal data released Wednesday. As the virus transfixed the nation, the drug crisis spread to largely untouched parts of the country — exacerbated by the recession and millions of job losses. Not only stores and restaurants shuttered: Counseling services moved online, inpatient clinics closed and mobile clinics pulled back. Without support, many Americans relapsed and some turned to drugs for the first time…. Opioids are behind about three-fourths of the overdoses, according to Wednesday’s data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington was among the deadliest regions, seeing a 50% surge in deaths. Some of the impact is visible, such as the growing clusters of tents downtown where many overdoses occur, a sight so common that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell mentioned them several times this year.” • Oh, he did, then. Did he throw them any gold coins from his coach, as he passed?

Elon Musk’s vision of Mars:

“NGOism Serves the Status Quo” [Jacobin]. “The advocacy nonprofits that have taken the place of the old associations are markedly more oligarchical and top-down. They tend to be dominated by professional-class staffers, who only interact with their memberships through a mailing list. Members don’t drive these organizations through democratic debate; they’re much more staff- and funder-driven…In brief, the nonprofit sector carries out the functions that the government ought to provide, but with less funding, and in such a way that nonprofits are forced to be entrepreneurial — which is to say, dependent upon private interests. They execute what ought to be a government function, but in such a way that private interests can dictate the terms.” • Euthanize the NGOs, as I’ve been saying for some time. And worth noting that MacKenzie Scott’s recent big donation reinforces NGOs.

“Now Is Not the Time to Skimp on Tips” [New York Magazine]. • Was it ever?

“Tax the Rich! Also the Very Affluent! But Mainly the Rich!” [Al Franken, Rolling Stone]. “The fact is that every bit of what President Biden proposed is in everyone’s best interest. It’s not just ridiculous that we’re 13th in the world in infrastructure. It’s dangerous. If a bridge collapses, a Mercedes drops as fast as a Hyundai.” • The re-appearance of Franken is more interesting than the article itself.

News of the Wired

The road to virtual hell is paved… by Facebook. Naturally:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (TH):

2:00PM Water Cooler 6/17/2021

TH writes: “Getting some walking in at the Irvine Regional Park, the cheerfulness of this Mallow caught my attention.” The richness of the colors reminds me of autochrome (an old photo printing technology).

* * *

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 6/17/2021

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!2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2021

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