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2:00PM Water Cooler 9/8/2023 | naked capitalism

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day

Iberian Chiffchaff, Fonte Benémola, Loulé, Faro, Portugal.

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“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

The Constitutional Order

“Routine Disqualification: Every State Has Kept Ineligible Candidates Off the Ballot, and Trump Could Be Next” [POGO]. The headline is deceptive. “Trump could be next,” indeed, but not as result of the cases described by POGO, as we shall see. “[R]emoving disqualified candidates from the ballot is not [unprecendented]. It is a standard and essential tool used by secretaries of state and other state election officials to maintain the integrity of their electoral processes by barring individuals who are not constitutionally qualified to run for or hold office. Secretaries of state should exercise this authority, consistent with their states’ laws, to implement [the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol] recommendation to enforce Section 3 by excluding from the ballot candidates who are ineligible to hold office.” This report was published on January 6, 2023 (a nice touch). The Section 3 recommendation is on page 690; so this thing really has been bubbling for some time; it took Baude and Paulsen to blow the the lid off. More: “In anticipation of the likelihood that individuals who violated Section 3 will seek office in the future, this report highlights examples of how states have excluded disqualified candidates from appearing on ballots in the past. The historical record shows that this is a common occurrence, with examples from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and involving candidates seeking local, state, and federal office, including the presidency. Below, we highlight notable cases from our survey of ballot disqualifications in 10 states.” Case study #1: “residency requirement”; #2: “10 years of law practice”; #3: “not a natural-born citizen”; #4: “term-limited”; #5: “convicted of an infamous crime”; #6: “running mates be from different states”; #7 age requirement; #8: “convicted of felonies”; #9: “ineligible to serve in an office whose salary was increased”; #10: “exceeded the state’s statutory retirement age.” All ten cases are cut and dried. They are not judgment calls. Further, in the case of crimes, conviction was a requirement. The Trump matter is a judgement call, and he has not (yet) been convicted of the relevant crime for Section Three (insurrection). This is dreck, and I’m shocked that POGO has produced it; they should stick to their lane, which is taking down the F-35.

“Was Trump ‘an Officer of the United States’?” [Michael Mukasey, Wall Street Journal]. “To the extent its text is relevant here, [Section Three] denies to a discrete category of people—including those who have taken an oath ‘as an officer of the United States . . . to support the Constitution of the United States’—the right to serve as a ‘Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office . . . under the United States’ if they ‘have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against same.’…. The use of the term “officer of the United States” in other constitutional provisions shows that it refers only to appointed officials, not to elected ones. In U.S. v. Mouat (1888), the Supreme Court ruled that “unless a person in the service of the government . . . holds his place by virtue of an appointment . . ., he is not, strictly speaking, an officer of the United States.” Chief Justice John Roberts reiterated the point in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (2010): “The people do not vote for the ‘Officers of the United States.’… [Trump] didn’t take and thus didn’t violate an oath as an ‘Officer of the United States,’ and so cannot be barred by the 14th Amendment from seeking re-election. Even a criminal conviction wouldn’t bar him from seeking and winning the presidency. The Constitution specifies only that a person seeking that office be at least 35, a natural-born citizen and a 14-year U.S. resident. If Mr. Trump is to be kept from office, it will have to be done the old-fashioned way, the way it was done in 2020—by defeating him in an election.” • Seemingly overlooked in this controversy is the fact that President, alone among all officials, is elected by the population of the entire United States (granted, indirectly, through electors). Obviously, that’s not true of any appointed officials, and so their case is different from a President’s.

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“The Sweep and Force of Section Three” [William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen, University of Pennsylvania Law Review]. I highly recommend this piece (and the ensuing discussion at NC, starting here). As a former English major and a fan of close reading, I’m not averse to “originalism,” of which Baude and Paulsen provide a magisterial example, in the sense that understanding the law as a text must begin with understanding the plain, public meaning of the words used when the text was written. That’s how I read Shakespeare, or Joyce, so why not the Constitution? Just as long as understanding doesn’t end there! In any case, I’m working through it. One thing I notice is that there do seem to have been rather a lot of rebellions and insurrections, not just the Civil War. To me, this is parallel to one lesson I drew from Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast (episode 1): There are rather a lot of revolutions, too. Alert reader Pensions Guy summarizes Baude and Paulsen as follows:

The authors go through an exhaustive textual and originalism analysis of Section Three, and their Federalist Society leanings do not deter them from reaching their conclusion that officials in every State who are charged with determining candidate qualifications should conclude that Donald Trump is disqualified from being on ballots because of the oath he took on Inauguration Day 2017 and subsequently violated through his role in the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021.

Taking “insurrection” as read (I need to do more reading), this has been more of my continuing coverage of Section Three.

Biden Administration

“Biden appears to be over Covid protocols” [Politico]. “For two days straight, the White House told anyone who would listen that President Joe Biden was taking his Covid exposure seriously by following a strict set of public health precautions. Then Biden strode into a room full of people on Wednesday and reduced those precautions to a punchline. ‘I’ve been tested again today, I’m clear across the board,’ Biden said, smiling as he held up his face mask. ‘They keep telling me, because it has to be 10 days or something, I gotta keep wearing it. But don’t tell them I didn’t have it when I walked in.’ The joke earned muted laughter from the audience. But outside the State Dining Room, it served as further confirmation of what many public health officials and outside experts have long come to believe: The president who once pledged to eliminate Covid altogether has grown significantly less worried about it. And may be all but over it on a personal level. ‘It’s unfortunate,’ said Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and former Covid adviser to the Biden transition. ‘Because as we begin to see the number of deaths rise in the country, Covid is still with us.’” • Biden pandering to one of the worst impulses in American political life today. Which gives me a hook for the following:

Both Biden’s behavior and the press’s coverage of his pre-Labor Day photo op Eliot-Hine Middle School was disgraceful even by today’s standards. I don’t have time to write up the links I collected, sadly. The conservative press amplified and dogpiled a short clip of Biden coughing into his left hand while shaking hands with schoolchildren with this right; the artfully written headlines (“‘Nasty and Disgusting’: President Joe Biden Ridiculed After Suffering Coughing Fit While Shaking Young Students’ Hands“) I read conveyed to me the impression that he was coughing into and then shaking with the same hand (“Will no one think of the children?”, who I would estimate to have been three or four in number). I couldn’t run down the original clip in the fever swamp of conservative posturing (not C-SPAN), but it’s noteworthy that professionals, including conservative professionals, must have thought the incident too trivial to write up. Meanwhile, the real scandal was that Biden wasn’t masked, and so wasn’t protecting the children. Naturally, the professionals didn’t this either, and equally naturally neither did the putative left. My concerns that the Bidens and their entourage had either created or been involved in a super-spreading event at Eliot-Hine were amplified when Dr. Jill Biden tested positive for Covid only five days later. There was naturally no press followup on that question [bangs head on desk]. The Bidens have shared a callous and savage disregard for the well-being of school-children since the first days of the pandemic, supporting neither ventilation nor masks, and upholding plexiglass barriers as an effective solution.


Time for the Countdown Clock!

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“BREAKING: Fulton special grand jury recommended 39 indictments” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. Lotta ham in that ham sandwich! One wonders what principle Fani Willis used to prune back the indictments. “The 28-page document was finalized in January but most of its contents were quickly sealed by a judge at the request of Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis.” And getting our grand juries straight: “In August, a separate criminal grand jury handed up a 41-count racketeering indictment against 19 people, using testimony and other information that was collected in part by the special grand jury…. The special grand jury met for nearly eight months between May 2022 and January 2023, hearing testimony from roughly 75 witnesses and issuing subpoenas for evidence…. Jurors organized their recommendations based on sets of events that occurred in Georgia in the aftermath of the 2020 election, including the infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call Trump placed to Raffensperger; a set of legislative hearings in which Giuliani and others aired false claims about the vote count in Georgia; and the appointment of a slate of Trump electors in Georgia even though Democrat Joe Biden had won the state.”

“Georgia panel urged criminal charges against Lindsey Graham and other Trump allies” [Politico]. “The special grand jury recommended charges against Graham, Perdue and Loeffler, among of others, for their role in a ‘national effort to overturn the 2020 election.’ It’s unclear precisely what facts the panel based its recommendations on, and the document doesn’t elaborate on the rationale behind any of its findings.” • Here is the report. Jurors added footnotes to the report if they wished to express dissenting views, which is interesting, and could point to a hung jury in future. For example:


I would not characterize the view of either juror as ill-thought-out.

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“Democrats wake up to red flags over Biden’s latest poll numbers” [The Hill]. “Democrats woke up Thursday to yet another poll showing a large percentage of voters are concerned about President Biden’s age and data that showed most GOP primary candidates fared well in hypothetical match-ups with Biden. A CNN poll contained numerous red flags for Biden and Democrats. It found 46 percent of registered voters said any Republican presidential nominee would be better than Biden in next year’s election, and 49 percent said Biden’s age was their biggest concern about him as a candidate in 2024. Biden’s overall approval rating in the poll was 39 percent, and just 74 percent among Democrats. And in hypothetical head-to-heads, Biden is neck and neck with most of his potential Republican opponents, including former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) led Biden by 6 points in a theoretical general election match-up between the two, according to the CNN poll.” • Panic in Kalorama?

“How not to have a psychic meltdown when you see new Trump-Biden poll numbers” [MSNBC]. “In The Wall Street Journal’s latest poll of the 2024 election, President Biden and former president Donald Trump are locked at 46% each. Other recent polls have shown essentially the same thing. While there will be many twists and turns before next November, at this point the race is a toss-up. If that makes you feel like your country has gone mad, you’re not alone.” Those of us who have long argued that the Democrats could win a permanent majority by delivering universal concrete material benefits feel Democrats have gone mad. (These are, after all, the people who blackballed Thomas Frank after he wrote Listen, Liberal!) More: “While political reporters obsess over the anger and resentments felt by blue-collar white men in Rust Belt diners, liberals’ emotions are seldom considered worthy of the same kind of exploration.” Well, except for the constant preening self-regard in venues like MSNBC. But let that pass. More: “[P]art of me looks at those polls and wants to respond not with calm and reason, but with a blood-curdling scream of rage.” That’s a damn shame. More: “My informal canvas of liberal friends reveals that this feeling — something like incredulous despair verging on panic — is not unusual. We tamp it down and joke about it, but it never disappears.” Film at 11! More: “Like many on the left, I will never again be seduced by the inspiring feeling of hope and belonging we felt when Barack Obama was elected in 2008. But the emotions of 2020 were supposed to be less naïve. When Biden won, it felt like a return to sanity.” • Well, I have to stop now. Worth reading in full!

“‘I’m OK, but Things Are Terrible’” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. “If President Biden loses his bid for re-election, a key factor will be the widespread perception that the economy is doing badly on his watch. Poll after poll shows Americans rating economic conditions as very bad and giving Biden very low approval for his economic management. The strange thing is that these bad ratings are persisting even as the economy, by any normal measure, has been doing extremely well…. So why are people so negative about an economy that by all standard measures is doing very well?…. There’s substantial evidence that people don’t feel that they personally are doing badly. Both surveys and consumer behavior suggest, on the contrary, that while most Americans feel that they’re doing OK, they believe that the economy is doing badly, where ‘the economy’ presumably means other people. What explains negativity about a good economy? Partisanship is surely a factor…. Beyond that, the events of the past few years — not just inflation and higher interest rates but also the disruption Covid caused to everyone’s lives, and perhaps the sense that America is coming apart politically — may have engendered a sourness, an unwillingness to acknowledge good news even when it happens.” • Gig economy, offices as death traps, ditto hospitals and schools… I would re-interpret what Krugman is saying this way: Inside the household, people may well be holding on (consumer spending, for example). But outside the household (that is, “the economy”) nothing is working (especially true if you are young). Every so often, I list the American systems I would run rather than be involved with: the health care system, the law enforcement system, the financial system, the university system, the school system (if I had kids), the welfare system, the political system… It’s a long list. The conservative trope here is “crime,” and the liberal trope is “gunz,” but I think there is a general, low-level sense that safety is not just about crime, or guns, and that safety is lacking, generally, out in “the economy.

“The Story of Our Universe May Be Starting to Unravel” [New York Times]. • Stop projecting! “Our democracy” is enough. “Our universe” is too much.

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“Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Unravel The Warfare Machine That Is Bankrupting This Country” [RealClearPolitics]. RFK, Jr.: “Number one, we have to unravel the warfare business, the warfare machine, that is bankrupting our country. Paul Kennedy, a Yale historian, has done this extraordinary history on the decline of empires. And every empire in the last 500 years, its death knell was overextending its military abroad. We’ve spent $8 trillion on war in the last 20 years, since 2002, that has gotten us nothing. It has made us less safe. The Chinese spent $8 trillion during that same period building ports, bridges, roads, schools, universities, and hospitals. And they’re now the principal creditor for almost every nation in Latin America and Africa.” • He’s talkin’ sense, Merle.

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Democrats en Déshabillé

Patient readers, it seems that people are actually reading the back-dated post! But I have not updated it, and there are many updates. So I will have to do that. –lambert

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.

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“Bernie Sanders Champions ’32-Hour Work Week With No Loss in Pay’” [Common Dreams]. • It’s too late. 2020 was the time to pivot to the working class, when Sanders had a movement, a list, the national spotlight, and a cresting wave of unionizing to ride. Right now, I feel like I’m listening to a version of the German Socialist Party after they voted for war credits in 1914. What’s the point? Very saddening, but true.

Our Famously Free Press

“Donald Trump Destroyed Horse Race Journalism” [Politico]. “For a generation or longer, it has been the abiding wish of press critics like Jay Rosen and a smattering of regional papers to eliminate ‘horse race journalism’ from campaign coverage. Horseracism, to lift a 20-year-old neologism by Brian Montopoli, offends because it draws on sports reporting to reduce campaigns to athletic contests where sides are ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ instead of surfacing and analyzing substantive issues. Political polls, fundraising numbers, endorsements and debates are the coin of this realm as journalists deploy race-track metaphors — so-and-so is ‘surging’ or ‘breaking away from the pack’ to describe the races rather than directly address the election’s political stakes… This year, the anti-horseracists finally got their wish as the reporting conventions that have served journalists for so long have proved useless in covering the Republican side of the presidential race. … Former President Donald Trump commands such a dominant position that it makes more sense to rely on the metaphors of weather to portray the campaign as a hurricane or avalanche rather than a sporting event. There is no neck-and-neck reality for reporters to reflect upon. … How did Trump do it? … Trump stymied the usual flow by running as an incumbent president, not an aspiring one, and GOP primary voters accommodating him…. In many, if not most, Republican minds, Trump is as much of an incumbent as Joe Biden is to Democrats.” • Re: stability vs. volatility, this is a stability take.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Presidential Libraries of Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan and More Warn About State of US Democracy in First Ever Joint Statement” [Mediaite]. “Presidential Libraries for multiple former U.S. Presidents have written a joint statement for the first time to warn about the state of American democracy. The statement is co-signed by libraries for past presidents, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George & Barbara Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. The presidential library for Donald J. Trump is notably absent, mainly because it does not yet exist similarly. It is thought to be their first-ever joint statement on American democracy and includes the ominous phrase ‘others see our own house in disarray.’ ‘Americans have a strong interest in supporting democratic movements and respect for human rights around the world because free societies elsewhere contribute to our own security and prosperity here at home,’ the statement reads. ‘But that interest is undermined when others see our own house in disarray.’ ‘The world will not wait for us to address our problems, so we must both continue to strive toward a more perfect union and help those abroad looking for U.S. leadership,’ it continues before calling on ‘Our elected officials must lead by example and govern effectively in ways that deliver for the American people. This, in turn, will help to restore trust in public service.’” • Fine words butter no parsnips.


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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“Something Awful”

Lambert here: I’m getting the feeling that the “Something Awful” might be a sawtooth pattern — variant after variant — that averages out to a permanently high plateau. Lots of exceptionally nasty sequelae, most likely deriving from immune dysregulation (says this layperson). To which we might add brain damage, including personality changes therefrom.

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Case Data

From BioBot wastewater data, September 8:

Leveling out? I would attribute this to Labor Day data issues (a note above the chart no longer visible says the data was delayed) but I would expect this to be consistent across regions, which it isn’t.

Regional data:

Interestingly, the upswing begins before July 4, which neither accelerates nor retards it.


NOT UPDATED From CDC, September 2:

Lambert here: Top of the leaderboard: EG.5 (“Eris“). No BA.2.86 here, not even in the note, but see below at Positivity.

CDC: “As of May 11, genomic surveillance data will be reported biweekly, based on the availability of positive test specimens.” “Biweeekly: 1. occurring every two weeks. 2. occurring twice a week; semiweekly.” Looks like CDC has chosen sense #1. In essence, they’re telling us variants are nothing to worry about. Time will tell.

Covid Emergency Room Visits

NOT UPDATED From CDC NCIRD Surveillance, September 2:

Lambert here: Another Labor Day weekend drop, like Walgreens? Typically, three-day weekends don’t coincide with peak infection!

Lambert here: I changed this ER chart to a Covid-only chart broken down by age. Note the highlighting.

NOTE “Charts and data provided by CDC, updates Wednesday by 8am. For the past year, using a rolling 52-week period.” So not the entire pandemic, FFS (the implicit message here being that Covid is “just like the flu,” which is why the seasonal “rolling 52-week period” is appropriate for bothMR SUBLIMINAL I hate these people so much. Notice also that this chart shows, at least for its time period, that Covid is not seasonal, even though CDC is trying to get us to believe that it is, presumably so they can piggyback on the existing institutional apparatus for injections.


Bellwether New York City, data as of September 7:

Still moving up. I hate this metric because the lag makes it deceptive.

Here’s a different CDC visualization on hospitalization, nationwide, not by state, but with a date, at least. September 2:

At least now we now that hospitalization tracks positivity, which is nice. Even if we don’t know how many cases there are. And positivity as high as it’s been at any time, except for Omicron.


NOT UPDATED From Walgreens, September 4:

-2.7% Big drop, probably due to Labor Day travel, though the absolute numbers are still very small relative to June 2022, say. Interestingly, these do not correlate with the regional figures for wastewater. (It would be interesting to survey this population generally; these are people who, despite a tsunami of official propaganda and enormous peer pressure, went and got tested anyhow.)

From CDC, traveler’s data, August 21:

A drop!

No BA.2.86 for two of the long-delayed collection weeks.


NOT UPDATED Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, September 6:

Lambert here: The WHO data is worthless, so I replaced it with the Iowa Covid Data Tracker. Their method: “These data have been sourced, via the API from the CDC: This visualization updates on Wednesday evenings. Data are provisional and are adjusted weekly by the CDC.” I can’t seem to get a pop-up that shows a total of the three causes (top right). Readers?

Total: 1,174,558 – 1,174,467 = 91 (91 * 365 = 33,215 deaths per year, today’s YouGenicist™ number for “living with” Covid (quite a bit higher than the minimizers would like, though they can talk themselves into anything. If the YouGenicist™ metric keeps chugging along like this, I may just have to decide this is what the powers-that-be consider “mission accomplished” for this particular tranche of death and disease).

Excess Deaths

NOT UPDATED The Economist, September 7:

Lambert here: This is now being updated daily. Odd. Based on a machine-learning model. (The CDC has an excess estimate too, but since it ran forever with a massive typo in the Legend, I figured nobody was really looking at it, so I got rid it. )

Stats Watch

Inventories: “United States Wholesale Inventories” [Trading Economics]. “Wholesale inventories in the United States fell by 0.2% from a month earlier in July 2023, compared to the preliminary estimate of a 0.1% decrease and following a 0.7% drop in the prior month.”

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Retail: Alert reader Arizona Slim (their book) shares the following communication, “AZ Attorney General Complaint CIC# 23-010955”:


I would like to express my strenuous objection to this part of T-Mobile’s response to this complaint:

“In May 2023, T-Mobile began notifying customers about changes to the program for AutoPay bill credits. The majority of our customers use their bank account or debit card for AutoPay and will continue to receive a bill credit. However, customers enrolled in AutoPay with a credit card or through Apple Pay or Google Pay must change their AutoPay payment method on file to a debit card or bank account (ACH) to continue receiving the AutoPay monthly bill credit. Any customers impacted by this change received multiple notifications, via text message and bill message, before the bill credit was discontinued advising them how to keep the receiving [sic] the AutoPay bill credit.”

While T-Mobile claims that the majority of their customers use their bank account or debit card for AutoPay, what they don’t say is that those methods of payment lack the consumer protections that credit cards have built in.

Furthermore, T-Mobile has experienced several major security breaches in recent years. Having all of those customer bank accounts and debit card numbers exposed has to be a major temptation to hackers. Think they aren’t paying attention to this AutoPay policy change?

I would like to conclude by referring to that old expression: If everyone else is jumping off a bridge, does that mean you should do the same?

Me, I would prefer to have the consumer protections that a credit card offers.

And I’ve also read that T-Mobile is using the excuse that credit card processing fees are so high, that’s why they’re removing the credit card AutoPay discount.

Well, news flash: T-Mobile isn’t some poverty-stricken small business. It’s owned by Deutsche Telekom and can easily afford to handle credit card processing fees.

So, consider this my protest against their decision and the excuses made to justify it. This is nothing more than a back-door price increase that could cause financial ruin to T-Mobile’s customers if the company experiences another data breach.

I hope this complaint has a happy outcome, and that Arizona Slim share it with us.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 52 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 57 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 6 at 1:26 PM ET.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Sanitary Commission’s Other Agenda” [JSTOR}. “Woefully inadequate medical facilities during the early years of the Civil War resulted in the formation of the United States Sanitary Commission. The civilian organization, funded by donations from Northern women’s aid societies, helped improve battlefield medicine and recuperative care. The Commission especially advanced the ideas and practices of public health, hygiene, and sanitation…. For, as historian Leslie A. Schwalm documents, the Commission’s white male leadership didn’t want the organization’s legacy to be as a ‘mere relief association.’ Instead, they touted their work for the advancement of racist science that ‘rationalized, naturalized, and justified racial hierarchies.’ According to Commission President Henry W. Bellows, the organization’s ‘truly scientific work’ was what Schwalm describes as a ‘large-scale endeavor to identify and catalog anatomical and physiological evidence of racial inferiority.’ … The Commission’s Secretary, Frederick Law Olmsted, was also committed to what he called ‘scientific inquiry’ into the ‘mental and moral peculiarities’ of the ‘negro of the South.’ The white women who were the backbone of the organization did their part by largely excluding Black women from participation at the grassroots and completely excluding them from leadership positions.” Frederick Law Olmsted… Say it’s not so. More: “‘The promotion of racial knowledge was neither a southern nor exclusively a pro-slavery enterprise,’ concludes Schwalm as she details ‘race-making‘ in action. The results would reverberate for generations, not least in health disparities: ‘racial exclusion and segregation continued to shape the infrastructure of medical education, practice, and research’ all through the long years of legal segregation and beyond.” • A “classification struggle” (here; here) with terrible consequences.

News of the Wired

“Ken Isaacs. How to build your own living structures” [We Find Wildness]. “How To Build Your Own Living Structures explains on how to build furniture, small houses and even vehicles using basic tools and materials… This book is a beautiful guide about how to make a variety of flexible experimental indoor interiors, storage units, and a microhouse. The microhouse is a flexible creation of architect, Ken Isaacs. The modular design is based on stacked tetrahedrons, which can be moved in and around each other providing shelter and dividing living space in a creative way. The book gives you step-by-step instructions with plans for many different versions of Isaac’s original designs interspersed with ideas about simplicity, and getting rid of our personal possessions. The book is type written and spiral round in a nice Do-It-Yourself aesthetic, and Isaacs writes in a genial manner as if he were sitting across the table from you. He muses on the philosophical meanings of surplus and uses the designs as a means of addressing life as whole; a simple place to raise a family and house extended family that has a low impact on the surrounding natural environment – by the The Library of Radiant Optimism for Let’s Re-Make the World.” • Seems to have contemporary relevance…

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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 Petal:

Petal writes: “There’s a small hillside on campus with 4 or 5 different types of mushrooms growing. There are so many of them, looks like a fungus farm.”

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Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime

Rayna Prime Editor