Wednesday , May 25 2022
Home / Naked Capitalism / 2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Summary:
By Lambert Strether of Corrente Bird Song of the Day Warbler Week at Naked Capitalism continues. From Tompkins, NY. There’s a lot going on, but you have to turn it up to hear the background. * * * Politics “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 “Jan. 6 committee to hold series of hearings starting in June” [NBC]. “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold a series of hearings on the probe in June, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said. There will be as many as eight hearings, the first on June 9,

Topics:
Lambert Strether considers the following as important: ,

This could be interesting, too:

Lambert Strether writes 2:00PM Water Cooler 5/03/2022

Yves Smith writes Michael Hudson Talks with Katie Halper and Aaron Maté About the Broader Ramifications of the US/NATO Conflict with Russia

Nick Corbishley writes Could Spain’s Latest Spying Scandal, “Catalangate”, Topple the Pedro Sánchez Government?

Yves Smith writes Leaked Draft Opinion Shows Supreme Court Set to Strike Down Roe v. Wade

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Warbler Week at Naked Capitalism continues. From Tompkins, NY. There’s a lot going on, but you have to turn it up to hear the background.

* * *

Politics

“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

“Jan. 6 committee to hold series of hearings starting in June” [NBC]. “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol will hold a series of hearings on the probe in June, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said. There will be as many as eight hearings, the first on June 9, with some scheduled for prime time and others during the day, he said. Thompson told reporters as he left the Capitol on Thursday that the public will hear from outside witnesses, people ‘we’ve not heard from before,’ adding that ‘their testimony will be on point as to why this investigation was so important.’ ‘We’ll tell the story about what happened,’ he said. ‘We will use a combination of witnesses, exhibits, things that we have through the tens of thousands of exhibits we’ve interviewed and looked at, as well as the, you know, hundreds of witnesses we’ve deposed or just talked to in general.'” • I remember the Watergate hearings. I also remember the Iran-Contra hearings and, in more recent times, Benghazi. I wonder which these hearings will most resemble?

“House panel to explore impeachment, judicial ethics in wake of Ginni Thomas texts” [The Hill]. “House Democrats on Wednesday will hold a hearing on Supreme Court ethics and the possibility of impeaching justices, a move that follows the revelation of controversial text messages from Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas…. In March, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack revealed Thomas’s text messages to Meadows urging him to not let Trump concede the 2020 election, asserting without evidence that there was fraud in the election and expressing frustration that Republican members of Congress were not doing more to help overturn the results. That further heightened outrage at Clarence Thomas, given that he could rule on cases about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. A group of 24 House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts and Thomas asking Thomas to recuse himself from such cases….. Impeaching Clarence Thomas would be a heavy political lift.”

Biden Adminstration

“Biden seeks $33 billion war chest to support Ukraine, Zelenskiy wants quick approval” [Reuters]. • So now we’ve got to check with President Manchin and President Zelensky?

“Sanders pressures Biden on Amazon unions: ‘The time for talk is over’” [Politico]. “Bernie Sanders says Joe Biden’s the most pro-union president he’s ever seen, at least rhetorically speaking. Now he’s leaning on his 2020 primary rival to match those words with action. The Vermont senator sent Biden a Tuesday letter, obtained by POLITICO, asking the president to cut off federal contracts to Amazon until the massive company stops what he calls its ‘illegal anti-union activity.’ As the Senate Budget Committee chair, Sanders will also hold a hearing next week dedicated to calculating how many federal contracts go to companies that are fighting back against unionization efforts, with a focus on Amazon. While Sanders’ Amazon antagonism is no surprise, his squeeze on Biden for action against the company signals a new phase of his pro-union strategy. He’s urging Biden to create a new executive order that prevents companies that violate labor law from being eligible for government contracts. And asked if Biden has fallen short in his union support thus far as president, Sanders said bluntly in an interview: ‘Yes, he has.'”

“White House makes last push to save some of Build Back Better bill” [Financial Times]. “The White House is making a last-ditch effort to salvage parts of Joe Biden’s once-sweeping economic agenda, junking spending commitments and focusing on deficit reduction in an attempt to win over centrist Democratic senators. Officials told the Financial Times they still want to pass elements of the Build Back Better programme, Biden’s attempt to overhaul the US welfare system, despite previous resistance from within the president’s party. However, the revised legislation is likely to be a severely reduced version of the original, containing minimal if any social spending, as part of an effort to appease Joe Manchin, the conservative Democrat from West Virginia who torpedoed the bill’s previous iteration. The White House is desperate for congressional victories as the president’s approval slumps in the polls and the party is predicted to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in November’s midterm elections. Experts warn that lawmakers have only weeks to pass any legislation before members of Congress leave Washington to start campaigning.” • The party Schumer and Pelosi built is doing what they built it to do. Somehow, I don’t see “deficit reduction” as the issue that will carry the day in the midterms.

“Biden says he’s considering student debt forgiveness, but less than $50,000” [NBC News]. “‘I am considering dealing with some debt reduction,’ he told reporters at the White House. ‘I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction [per borrower],’ he noted, ‘but I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there are there will be additional debt forgiveness.’ ‘I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks,’ Biden said.” • You can drown in six inches of water just well as six feet. Why not abolish it all? (And for those who paid, give it back. Why not?)

* * *

OSHA hearing on rules for covid-19 worker protection in health care settings (SG), a thread:

Here’s a link to the aerosol portion of the show, starting with Prather (I can’t embed, sorry). SG: “The speakers are astonishingly frank about the failings of the CDC.”

“Servers at correspondents’ dinner not approached about testing, vaccination requirements, union says” [The Hill]. “A union representing the servers for the upcoming White House Correspondents’ Dinner reportedly said they have not been approached about COVID-19 testing and vaccine requirements for the event. The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) said earlier this month that it will require attendees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to show a same-day negative test to attend the April 30 dinner. Unite Here Local 25 representative Benjy Cannon told Axios on Wednesday that the Hilton hotel, where the event will be hosted, hadn’t yet approached servers about those requirements.” • How’s the ventilation?

2022

* * *

GA: “Kemp’s Special PAC Ordered to Stop Raising Money Until Primary” [Bloomberg]. “A federal judge ordered a special political action committee to stop raising money for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s re-election bid until after the May 24 primary, putting a temporary end to a money-raising advantage the incumbent has enjoyed for months. Judge Mark Cohen of Georgia’s Northern District in Atlanta said on Thursday that the committee, Georgians First, must wait until after the primary to continue raising money. The PAC is one of a handful of so-called “leadership committees” created by state legislation last year that allow incumbents to raise unlimited amounts of money from individual donors. Opposing candidates can use the committees, too, but not until after they become their party’s official nominee. Democrat Stacey Abrams’s leadership committee, One Georgia, had petitioned the court to allow her to begin using it weeks ago on the grounds that she was the only Democratic gubernatorial candidate on the ballot and therefore the de facto nominee. Cohen rejected that argument, suggesting she would have better luck asking that Kemp’s special committee’s fundraising be temporarily stopped, which her campaign then did.”

IA: “Iowa Democrats won’t speak truth to ethanol power” [Bleeding Heartland]. “Iowa Democrats have almost uniformly supported policies to benefit the ethanol industry since the first federal Renewable Fuel Standard became law in 2005. The orthodoxy surrounding this issue—which University of Iowa research engineer Chris Jones has dubbed ‘The Iowa Singularity’—has influenced federal policy, because presidential hopefuls from both parties have pledged allegiance to ethanol when campaigning in Iowa. Many Iowans don’t realize that corn-based ethanol was intended to be a transitional fuel toward cellulosic ethanol, produced from plant material rather than grains. But cellulosic production never proved viable on a large scale; Instead of questioning the value of an ongoing massive government investment in ethanol, most Iowa Democratic politicians have stuck with the program, demonstrating their loyalty to the industry at every opportunity.”

MI: “Michigan Republican resigns from GOP committee citing ‘delusional lies'” {Detroit News]. “For five years, Daunt has been one of about 100 members of the Republican Party’s state committee, a panel that helps guide the party’s decisions. But that ended Tuesday with his immediate resignation, three days after a contentious GOP convention in Grand Rapids. Instead of focusing on Democrats’ ‘myriad failures,’ Daunt wrote that ‘feckless, cowardly party ‘leaders’ have made the election here in Michigan a test of who is the most cravenly loyal to Donald Trump and re-litigating the results of the 2020 cycle.’ Daunt described Trump as a ‘deranged narcissist.'”

NY: “New York’s top court throws out district lines and delays primary” [Politico]. “New York’s top court on Wednesday rejected the state’s new congressional and state Senate lines, complicating this year’s election process and likely delaying at least some of the state’s June primaries. The state Court of Appeals found that lawmakers failed to follow the ‘prescribed constitutional procedure’ for drawing maps and that those they created ‘were drawn with an unconstitutional partisan intent.’ Under the set of maps approved by the Legislature earlier this year, Democrats were poised to pick up as many as three seats in the House.” • Oopsie.

2024

“The 2024 Waiting Game” [The Cook Political Report]. “For months now, discussions about 2024 have mostly focused on whether Donald Trump will run for president. This framing works out well for both Trump and the political media: Trump gets the spotlight he craves, and the political media gets the clicks and eyeballs they need. But, the far more exciting and consequential question is whether or not Pres. Joe Biden will be on the ballot in 2024. Democratic voters are at best lukewarm at the prospect of a Biden reelection campaign. That sentiment has been picked up in both quantitative and qualitative surveys…. Given we haven’t seen either one of these scenarios — a president retiring after one term or getting a serious primary challenge — in many, many years, it’s hard for us to imagine how this would work. Would the party apparatus rally around the incumbent or let the chips fall where they may? Would Biden announce his intentions on whether he’ll seek a second term early enough to give his potential successors or challengers enough time to prepare? If he decides to forgo reelection, how early will he be willing to declare himself a lame-duck? The longer he waits, the messier the Democratic nomination fight. Will a Democrat jump into the race regardless of Biden’s intentions? And then there’s the 800-lb gorilla in the room: Vice President Harris. It’s no secret that many in the political establishment see her as a weak 2024 nominee. She also lacks grassroots strength outside of DC for a potential candidacy. But, while the vice president has traditionally been the obvious successor in a case like this, that doesn’t mean it will happen. But, say many Democrats I speak with, if not Harris, than whom? And, who on the Democratic bench can beat Trump in 2024? I don’t know. And, guess what, no one else does either…. Consciously or not, many voters, including many Democrats, voted for Biden in 2020, assuming that he would be a one-term president. They weren’t thinking about the logistical and political difficulties that a one-term presidency would pose to the party in four years. Their top issue was beating Trump, and they saw him as the best choice to do that. At this point, however, Democrats are ready for someone new, and Democratic elites should dismiss these concerns at their own peril.” • When Biden is still the pick of the litter, you know you’re in trouble.

“Seven Lessons Democrats Need to Learn — Fast” [David Brooks, New York Times]. “The Democrats’ largest problem is this: We are living in an age of fear, insecurity and disorder on an array of fronts. The Republicans have traditionally been known as the party of toughness and order. Democrats are going to have to find a posture that is tough on disorder, and tough on the causes of disorder.” • They seem to be working on that. Look at Eric Adams and the homeless, for example.

“DeSantis amplifies 2024 chatter with trip to Nevada to campaign for Senate candidate Laxalt” [CNN]. “Coming off a showdown with Disney and a month of headlines for waging fights over hot-button social issues, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced himself to Republican primary voters in Nevada during a Wednesday campaign stop for US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt. DeSantis recounted for a packed Las Vegas bar his battles against the Biden administration and Disney and rattled off his conservative victories. He called Florida the ‘tip of the spear’ — a hint at possible future fights — and said Laxalt ‘will represent my voice in the United States Senate.’ ‘This is our opportunity to rattle the foundations of this decaying administration in Washington, DeSantis said. The event here marks the first time DeSantis as governor has ventured outside the Sunshine State to publicly campaign for a fellow Republican, and it comes amid growing chatter about DeSantis as a 2024 presidential contender. Nevada Republicans, used to presidential hopefuls making excuses to visit, were eager to get an early look at DeSantis. Ninety minutes before the event, more than 100 people were waiting outside Stoney’s Rockin’ Country near the Las Vegas Strip to hear from the Republican governor who took on Disney, helped enact a ban on certain school instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity, and opened Florida to tourists when many Vegas casinos struggled through Covid-19 restrictions.”

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.

* * *

Republican Funhouse

“How Nebraska’s Governor Became A General In A Right-Wing War Against Biden’s Conservation Goal” [HuffPo]. “Margaret Byfield wasn’t going to wait for actual information. She’d quickly concluded that the Biden administration’s goal of conserving 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030, known informally as ’30×30,’ was a ‘massive federal land grab’ in the making. What she needed now were soldiers for her opposition campaign. The more powerful, the better…. On Friday, which is Earth Day, American Stewards will sponsor a “STOP 30×30 Summit” in Lincoln, Nebraska — what Byfield has described as ‘the most important conference’ her group has ever organized. It will be a who’s who of land transfer proponents, climate change deniers, conservation foes and sympathizers of anti-government extremists. A release about the summit that went out last month boasted that it will ‘spoil environmentalist’s [sic] Earth Day’ and ‘send the clear message that America’s landowners would not be ‘voluntarily’ surrendering their property rights to the environmental agenda.’ Ricketts is hosting the event and will share the stage with Byfield, Boebert, Trump-era Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, anti-federal land Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory (R) and other leading figures of the anti-30×30 movement. The event’s sponsors include three of the nation’s fiercest proponents of climate change denialism — the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, The Heritage Foundation, and The Heartland Institute — and Protect the Harvest, a pro-agriculture, anti-animal rights group founded by oil tycoon Forrest Lucas.” • Names to remember.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Two Atlantic Lefts” [New Left Review]. “Yet the Squads [in the US and the UK] may still perhaps serve as a sort of synecdoche for the remaining fortunes of the Sanders and Corbyn electoral turns—which, half a decade ago, embodied the hopes of many for a left exit from the crisis. While elsewhere the radical oppositions that sprang into being after 2008 found expression in independent forms—Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, the Five Star Movement in Italy—in the us and uk they crystallized around leadership bids within the existing two-party systems. Both Sanders and Corbyn were roundly defeated, but the electoral gains symbolized by the squads have outlasted these defeats. For some, they represent the green shoots of a new democratic-socialist generation. For others, their successes are paltry comforts in the wake of left populism’s transatlantic defeats. To what extent do these groups go beyond the long-established practices of the parliamentary ‘soft left’ and congressional ‘progressive caucus’? By examining the self-positionings of the two squads, their constituencies and paths to office, as well as the political, institutional and ideological structures they confront, we may gain a clearer view of the obstacles facing the broader left as well; an indispensable starting point for thinking through how they might be overcome.” • Well worth a read. (If the US had five NLRs instead of one Jacobin and then the Nation, etc., we would be so much better off….

“Is politics making people sick? A lot of young people say so” [Los Angeles Times]. “That helps explain why a group of Harvard students and their faculty mentor found themselves briefing President Biden on Monday about the latest findings from the semiannual poll of American young people conducted by the university’s Institute of Politics…. The poll’s headline number was that Biden’s job approval among Americans aged 18 to 29 has continued to plummet, dropping 18 percentage points over the last year — from 59% in the first spring of Biden’s tenure to 41% now. That made the Harvard survey the latest in a series of polls to show Biden, and Democrats more generally, in trouble with the young voters who were key to their victories in 2018 and 2020. But the students also told Biden about another aspect of the poll which, in the long run, may matter more: A majority of young Americans, 52%, reported feeling ‘down, depressed, or hopeless’ for several days or more during the prior two weeks, and nearly 1 in 4 have had recent thoughts of hurting themselves or that they would be ‘better off dead.’… Democrats’ slim chances of keeping their Senate majority, and Biden’s ability to bounce back from his current problems, both depend heavily on finding ways to counter that and keep young Americans engaged and motivated. It’s no wonder that the Harvard poll caught the attention of the man in the Oval Office.” • Actually creative that Biden went to talk to them. I can’t help but wonder if identity politics, which the article also discusses, has the salutary effect of creating a sense of hopelessness?

“A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe” [The Atlantic]. “Ellie didn’t invent this device. That distinction goes to Lorraine Rothman, an Orange County public-school teacher and activist. In 1971, members of her feminist self-help group had been familiarizing themselves with the work of an illegal abortion clinic in Santa Monica. The owner, a psychologist named Harvey Karman, had designed a slender, flexible straw—now known as a Karman cannula, and a standard piece of medical equipment—which he used to draw the contents of a uterus into a large syringe. Karman’s method took only a few minutes and had been nicknamed a “lunch-hour abortion” because patients could return to regular activities afterward. It was less invasive than dilation and curettage, a procedure that uses a surgical instrument to scrape the uterine walls. Two years before the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade changed the legal landscape for abortion in the United States, Rothman was developing her own version of Karman’s apparatus, rummaging around aquarium stores and chemistry labs for parts. She added a bypass valve to prevent air from accidentally being pumped back into the uterus, and a mason jar to increase the holding capacity. The result was an abortion device that was easy to make and suitable for ending pregnancies during most of the first trimester. For purposes of plausible deniability, Rothman promoted the device as a tool for what she referred to as “menstrual extraction”: a technique a woman could use to pass her entire period at once, rather than over several days. In October 1971, she embarked on a Greyhound-bus tour with a fellow activist, Carol Downer, to spread the word. In six weeks, they visited 23 cities, traveling from Los Angeles to Manhattan and calling themselves the West Coast Sisters. Soon women all over the country were making the device, which Rothman and Downer had called a Del-Em.” • One applauds the ingenuity. At the same time, one could wish that the Democrats had embodied Roe in legislation, whenever in the last 2020 – 1973 = 47 years they held Congressional majorities. One can’t helping thinking that bourgeois feminists regarded Supreme Court judges as authoritative, since they are at the pinnacle of credentialed professionalism. The so-called “pro-life’ forces were not nearly so naive, and serious about their politics in a way that bourgeios feminists, for whom abolishing Roe is a complete debacle, never were.

#COVID19

Lambert here: 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, 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.

* * *

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.

* * *

Case count by United States regions:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

First decisive upward turn, so we’ll see how it goes. 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. In addition to the Fauci line, I have added a DNC-blue dotted “Biden Line” for what the case count would be if it were 55,000 * 6 = 330,000. Here are the cases for the last four weeks:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Looks like the Northeast has passed the torch to the West.

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:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

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

MWRA (Boston-area) wastewater detection:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

We’ll need to wait to week or so for the universitities and Easter weekend to unkink the data. (Both service areas turned down; I don’t think this is because the college semester has ended, either; readers please correct me.)

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:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Also encouraging, in that the Northeast is flattening. Not encouraging, in that the South is up. (See also case counts and rapid riser counties.) On the South:

Cases lag wastewater data.

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

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Status quo. But the Northeast, ChicagoLand, and the Southland and the Bay Area in California… Those are important counties to be rapidly rising. (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.)

The previous release:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

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. In fact, every day I go to the same URL. The day before yesterday, at the usual URL, I found this disgrace to humanity:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Fortunately, CDC only moved the transmissibility data to a new URL. So here again is the map CDC doesn’t want you to look at:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

The Northeast remains stubbornly and solidly red. Now California is red as well. The Upper Midwest is moving that way, too. (It looks like portions of Maine went from High (red) to Substantial (orange), but that part of Maine is the Unorganized Territories, where virtually nobody lives.

Hospitalization (CDC Community Profile):

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Remember the “sea of green”? Good times. Hospitalization is most definitely up. (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):

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Total: 1,020,159 1,019,774. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. Numbers still going down, still democidally high.

Covid cases in top us travel destinations (Statista):

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

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

The excess deaths chart appears weekly, on Friday:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

Look at the qualifications in that drop-down. And the ginormous typo, helpfully highlighted, has been there for weeks. CDC, if you’re reading this, please send a signal by getting this fixed. And then throw some documents over the transom. In complete confidentiality! Obviously, nobody at CDC is checking the excess deaths chart, because otherwise the typo would be fixed. I certainly hope there are no “coding errors” in the algo.

Stats Watch

GDP: “U.S. GDP falls by 1.4% in first quarter” [Le Monde].

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “Personal income in the United States increased 0.5 percent from a month earlier in March 2022, following a revised 0.7 percent growth in February and beating market expectations of a 0.4 percent gain, reflecting an increase in compensation, proprietors’ income, personal income receipts on assets, and government social benefits. The rise in compensation reflected increases in private and government wages and salaries. The increase in proprietors’ income was due to increased crop and livestock prices. Personal interest income drove the increase in individual income receipts on assets. Medicare and Medicaid were the driving forces behind the increase in government social benefits.”

Consumer Sentiment: “United States Michigan Consumer Sentiment” [Trading Economics]. “The University of Michigan consumer sentiment for the US was revised lower to 65.2 in April of 2022 from a preliminary of 65.7. The gauge for expectations was revised lower to 62.5 from 64.1 while the current conditions subindex was revised higher to 69.4 from 67.2. Inflation expectations were confirmed at 5.4% for the year ahead and 3% for the next five years. The downward slide in confidence represents the impact of uncertainty, which began with the pandemic and was reinforced by cross-currents, including the negative impact of inflation and higher interest rates, and the positive impact of a persistently strong labor market and rising wages. Moreover, consumers have lost confidence in economic policies, with fiscal actions increasingly hampered by partisanship in the runup to the Congressional elections.”

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago PMI in the United States decreased to 58.5 points in April of 2022 from 65.9 points in March and missing market forecasts of 62. It was the lowest reading since November of 2020, suggesting a slowdown in economic activity.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Twitter admits overstating audience figures for 3 years” [Financial Times]. “Twitter admitted to overstating its audience figures by almost 2mn users for about three years, as it reported its first quarterly results since the social media company agreed a $44bn buyout from Tesla chief Elon Musk. It is the second time that Twitter has miscalculated its user numbers, after discovering in 2017 that a similar error had gone unnoticed for three years. TAhe latest mistake was revealed just days after Twitter agreed a leveraged buyout by Musk. The entrepreneur has hinted at plans to reshape Twitter’s business model, which at present relies on advertising for more than 90 per cent of its revenues. Given the deal, Twitter’s first-quarter earnings report offered minimal commentary and did not include any guidance for the rest of the year. The company is also forgoing its usual conference call with analysts. First-quarter revenue increased 16 per cent to $1.2bn, which came in slightly below Wall Street’s forecasts. Twitter blamed that on ‘headwinds associated with the war in Ukraine.’ However, Twitter’s monetisable daily active users (mDAU), its unique metric for tracking its audience, came in better than investors expected at 229mn, with year-on-year growth of 6.4 per cent in the US and 18.1 per cent in the rest of the world. Net income jumped to $513mn, thanks to a one-off benefit from the $1bn sale of its mobile advertising unit MoPub to AppLovin, which closed in January.”

The Bezzle: “‘None of His Arguments Hold Water’: Elon Musk Loses Claim That His Consent Decree with the SEC Violates His First Amendment Rights” [Law and Crime]. “Billionaire Tesla co-founder Elon Musk lost his effort to terminate his consent decree with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the grounds that the mandatory pre-approval of his tweets that could move stocks violates his First Amendment rights. ‘With regard to the First Amendment argument, it is undisputed in this case that Musk’s tweets are at least presumptively ‘protected speech,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Liman wrote in a 22-page ruling on Wednesday. ‘At the same time, however, even Musk concedes that his free speech rights do not permit him to engage in speech that is or could ‘be considered fraudulent or otherwise violative of the securities laws.'”

Tech: “Amazon’s Covid-Era Buildout Proves Too Much as Demand Cools” [Bloomberg]. “Amazon.com Inc. acknowledged that a hiring and warehouse-building binge during the pandemic is catching up with the company as e-commerce sales growth inevitably slows from the torrid pace of the outbreak. That reality will weigh on revenue and profit going forward as consumers return to their pre-pandemic habits and inflation may cool their spending. Fuel and labor costs are already biting, and executives said Amazon was watching for whether shoppers will trim their purchases to offset rising prices. The dour results and forecast sent shares tumbling as much as 12% as the market opened in New York, their biggest intraday decline in almost eight years. The move brings Amazon’s losses for the year to 23%, outpacing the decline in the S&P 500.” • That’s a damn shame.

Supply Chain:

What do readers think?

Mr. Market:

Since I don’t play the ponies, I don’t know whether this is interesting or not.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 31 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 29 at 1:49 PM EDT.

Sports Desk

“NHL’s Brandon Sutter says long Covid has sidelined him for entire season” [Guardian]. “NHL veteran Brandon Sutter says he is still suffering from symptoms of long Covid a year after he first contracted the virus and is unsure when he will be able to return to the ice. Sutter was one of 21 Vancouver Canucks players to catch Covid during an outbreak among the team in March 2021, before a vaccine for the virus was widely available in Canada. He recovered sufficiently to play towards the end of last season but during the summer of 2021 he experienced a raised heart rate and breathing difficulties that felt ‘like someone was sitting on my chest’. The 33-year-old’s symptoms were serious enough that he was unable to play when the season started in October but by last month he started to practice again. However, he soon suffered a setback and he has not skated since early April.”

The Gallery

Clio:

(A capsa is a box for holding books and papers. Here in the United States, Clio’s capsa would be empty.)

Class Warfare

“Grocery workers’ union joins wave of Starbucks organizing campaigns” [Wisconsin Examiner]. “The United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) reported that it had filed petitions Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold union representation elections at Starbucks outlets in Fitchburg, Monona and Madison. … Starbucks employees are in the midst of a wave of union organizing across the U.S., primarily by an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).” • Heaven knows I hold no brief for the SEIU, but this seems a bit silly.

“Broken Homes” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “Levinson is one of thousands of poor, sick or highly vulnerable people left to languish and at times die in unstable, underfunded and understaffed residential hotel rooms overseen by a city department that reports directly to Mayor London Breed, a yearlong investigation by The San Francisco Chronicle found.” • Obviously, Breed should run for Senator.

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today, so here is a Degas:

I always like how Degas crops, but it seems to me he does not crop as a photographer would; I’m not sure why. Can art mavens comment?

* * *

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 GlennF:

2:00PM Water Cooler 4/29/2022

GlennF writes: “Attached is a photo of Oenothera caespitosa (Tufted Evening Primrose), a local wildflower I saw on my morning walk recently near Prescott AZ. It was a dry winter so not too many wildflowers this year.” I am in favor of morning walks, in fact walks of all sorts.

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 4/29/2022

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.