By Lambert Strether of Corrente
Readers, I apologize once more for the thinness of the Covid coverage, but there’s been so much happening in electoral politics I thought I should clear my backlog there. Life’s rich pageant! –lambert
Bird Song of the Day
Horned Lark, California, United States.
“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
“Jan. 6 committee divided on Dem meddling in GOP primaries” [Axios]. “Members of the House Jan. 6 committee are divided on whether to condemn the growing trend of Democrats meddling in GOP primaries to boost pro-Trump election deniers — a tactic designed to secure more favorable matchups in the general election. The committee has spent the last year warning that former President Trump and his allies — including candidates running in this year’s midterms — are endangering American democracy by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election…. Public backlash intensified yesterday when it emerged that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is boosting an election denier in his primary against Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) — one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot…. ‘The DCCC is playing with fire. It undercuts the great work of the Jan. 6 committee and makes us look like hypocrites,’ one Democratic member of Congress told Axios.” • The DCCC? Surely not.
“‘Kind of Wild/Creative’: Emails Shed Light on Trump Fake Electors Plan” [New York Times]. “Previously undisclosed emails provide an inside look at the increasingly desperate and often slapdash efforts by advisers to President Donald J. Trump to reverse his election defeat in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack, including acknowledgments that a key element of their plan was of dubious legality and lived up to its billing as ‘fake.’ The dozens of emails among people connected to the Trump campaign, outside advisers and close associates of Mr. Trump show a particular focus on assembling lists of people who would claim — with no basis — to be Electoral College electors on his behalf in battleground states that he had lost. In emails reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people who had worked with the Trump campaign at the time, one lawyer involved in the detailed discussions repeatedly used the word ‘fake’ to refer to the so-called electors, who were intended to provide Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress a rationale for derailing the congressional process of certifying the outcome. And lawyers working on the proposal made clear they knew that the pro-Trump electors they were putting forward might not hold up to legal scrutiny. ‘We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted,” Jack Wilenchik, a Phoenix-based lawyer who helped organize the pro-Trump electors in Arizona, wrote in a Dec. 8, 2020, email to Boris Epshteyn, a strategic adviser for the Trump campaign.” • It sounds like the Committee would rather indict the whole Republican Party instead of Trump, so why don’t they just go ahead and do that?
“McConnell says Pelosi would hand China a win if she sacks Taiwan trip after complaints” [New York Post]. “The Kentucky Republican was asked about the speaker traveling to Taiwan amid China’s threats and said there are other matters beyond the trip that should be discussed. ‘If she doesn’t go now, she’s handling China a sort of a victory of sorts,’ McConnell said at a Senate Republican leadership news conference on Tuesday.” • Oh, great. Has there ever been a truly bad idea that wasn’t bipartisan?
“Pelosi has invited senior lawmakers to join Taiwan trip, top Republican says” [NBC]. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has invited a small group of lawmakers on her official trip to Taiwan, including the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told NBC News on Wednesday. McCaul, the ranking member on the foreign affairs panel, said both he and Chairman Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., have been invited by the speaker on an upcoming trip to the self-ruling island that China sees as under its control. The Texas Republican said he declined the invitation due to a personal obligation that conflicts with the visit. The trip is slated to take place during the congressional August recess, though McCaul did not provide the exact dates. ‘Any member that wants to go, should. It shows political deterrence to President Xi,’ McCaul, a China hawk, said in a brief interview in the Capitol. ‘But she should also pay attention to the military if it’s going to cause a blowback and escalate things.’” • McCaul’s position is actually more responsible than Pelosi’s.
“House Democrats Urge More Vegetarian Meals in US Buildings” [Bloomberg]. “US government cafeterias should add vegetarian meal options to all menus, a group of 32 Democrats from the House of Representatives said in a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday….. Plant-based meals can produce “dramatic” improvements for individuals’ health, and serving them in federal facilities would reduce the government’s carbon footprint, the group said. Agriculture accounted for 11% of US greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.” • All true, but is “small ball” politics really what we need right now?
* * *
PA: “Gen Z mobilizes for midterm elections as study emphasizes young voters’ outsize impact on Pa. politics” [Post-Gazette]. “Earlier this summer, the political department at Tufts University in Massachusetts released a study ranking Pennsylvania as the top state where youth are poised to have a disproportionately high electoral impact in the 2022 elections. In part, that’s due to Pennsylvania’s high rate of youth voter registration, which sits at 69% — not to mention the substantial 54% of youth that actually voted in the 2020 elections, giving President Joe Biden a net advantage of 150,000 votes from that demographic.”
PA: “John Fetterman Isn’t Doing What He Thinks He Is With His Meme Roasts of Dr. Oz” [Slate]. Key point: “[T]here is little evidence that social media resonance has a tangible effect on electoral success.” • I view the social media effort as a holding action (and also a way to distract the vicious children in the political class with memes, which is both fun and the right thing to do). So long as Fetterman’s numbers hoild up, I won’t worry too much. (I’m a lot more worried about Fetterman’s performance in debate, if there is one. Maybe they could make things easy for Oz, and hold it at Rutgers?)
PA: Everybody hates a tourist:
My mom shopped there today and complained that there were more tourists than usual. https://t.co/J7La0tKZbK
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) July 26, 2022
(Good idea for a Fetterman theme song, actually.)
TX: “If enough Texas Democrats vote, Beto O’Rourke will be governor, Dallas county judge says” [Dallas Morning-News]. “The prospects for Democrats in Texas are “ever-improving,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told the crowd at the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas on Friday. He said the party can win by reaching out to new voters and those who typically don’t vote for Democrats. Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott, is working to appeal to disaffected Republicans and independents, in addition to Democrats. ‘If enough Democrats in Texas vote, Beto O’Rourke will be our governor,’ he told the fired-up crowd.
“Trump tiptoes closer to new White House run in DC address” [The Hill]. “Trump’s viability as a leader of the party has been thrown into question at least for the moment as a House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol spotlights the former president’s role in spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election, encouraging his supporters to come to the Capitol and then doing nothing for hours to quell the violence. Polling has shown majorities believe Trump bears responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack. And more recent polls have indicated at least some of the Republican Party is willing to move on from Trump in favor of an alternative candidate in 2024.” • Reaction to Trump’s America First Agenda Summit in Washington, DC.
“Mike Pence squares up to Donald Trump as former running mates eye 2024 bids” [Financial Times]. “On Tuesday morning, Mike Pence stood before a crowd of young Republicans in Washington DC, outlining his vision for the future of the party and calling on its supporters to avoid ‘the temptation to look back’. Six hours later and a mile down the road, the former vice-president’s erstwhile boss, Donald Trump, made his own pitch for the party’s future at a conference for the America First Policy Institute, repeating his disproved claims of fraud in the 2020 election and teasing the possibility of another presidential run. ‘If I renounced my beliefs, if I agreed to stay silent . . . the persecution of Donald Trump would stop immediately,’ he told the crowd. ‘But that’s not what I will do . . . I have to save our country.’ The back-to-back speeches in the US capital were the latest evidence of the simmering feud between the former running mates turned political foes and of their competing political ambitions, with both eyeing a bid for the White House in 2024. In his speech at the Young America’s Foundation’s National Conservative Student Conference, Pence attacked the ‘aggressive liberalism’ [lol] of the Biden administration and Democrats and said this year’s midterm elections offered Republicans ‘the best chance we will ever have to build a lasting majority.’ But he also made a thinly veiled plea for the party to break with Trump, urging Republicans to focus on winning Congress and then the White House rather than fighting historic battles. ‘Now some people may choose to focus on the past,’ he said. ‘But elections . . . are about the future. And I believe conservatives must focus on the future to win back America.’ Pence is hoping he can overcome anger among Republican voters — many of whom fault him for certifying Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020 — by taking credit for economic, immigration and trade policies implemented during the Trump administration.” • I would speculate that many Republican voters are of the mind of Baron Harkonnen: “The man must die. He tried to help my enemies.” Certainly one future to look forward to! One of life’s little ironies is that Pence, as the man who didn’t “get into the car,” is perhaps best positioned to articulate a “theory of the case” against Trump’s actions or inactions during the Capitol seizure. I don’t see Pence as the master communicator who could perform that plot reversal, however.
“Buttigieg edges out Biden among Democrats in New Hampshire poll” [The Hill]. “The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Survey Center Granite Poll found that 17 percent of likely 2024 Democratic primary voters in the state would choose Buttigieg among a list of Democrats, or those who caucus with Democrats, who are considered possible 2024 presidential contenders. Biden received 16 percent support, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who each came in at 10 percent. A handful of other Democrats, in addition Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), received less than 10 percent. The margin of error for among the Democrats polled specifically is plus or minus 4.7 points, meaning Buttgieg and Biden are statistically tied among voters. But the polling further demonstrates that Democrats are not wedded to the idea of choosing Biden as their nominee in the next presidential cycle. The White House has said Biden intends to run in 2024, though Buttigieg has not made any announcements on the matter.” • One might think that treatring defense of “our democracy” as a core value and then nominating a candidate who declared himself (falsely) the winner of a primary before a single vote was officially counted* would somehow be at odds, but then these are Democrats, who are notably flexible in their thinking. NOTE * Iowa 2020.
“Telling the Truth about the 2020 Election” [By Thomas B. Griffith, J. Michael Luttig, Michael W. Mcconnell, Theodore B. Olson, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, and Dave Hoppe, National Review]. “Continuing allegations that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ are roiling our politics and dividing our country. Indeed, now a significant percentage of the American public doubts the legitimacy of our system. That caused us, political conservatives who have spent most of our careers working to uphold the Constitution and the conservative principles upon which it is based, to delve deeply into those charges and gauge their accuracy. All of us have either worked in Republican Party politics at multiple levels and in various capacities or worked in the government as a result of Republican appointments. Indeed, one of us, Theodore B. Olson, successfully represented George W. Bush in a Supreme Court case that ended Al Gore’s unmerited challenge to the results of the 2000 presidential election. We have no affiliation with the Democratic Party…. Because allegations of fraudulent and rigged elections are so seriously affecting public opinion, especially among Republicans, we conducted an open-minded examination of the many claims by former president Trump and his supporters and allies who agree with him about the 2020 election and attempted to act on their beliefs. We take such claims seriously…. Therefore, we painstakingly surveyed each of the 187 counts in the 64 court cases brought on Trump’s behalf contesting the results of the 2020 election, the state recounts and contests brought in the name of the former president, and the post-election reviews undertaken in the six key battleground states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) to determine whether there is any fire amidst all the smoke. Our review has led us to conclude that there is simply no evidence of fraud in the 2020 presidential election of the magnitude necessary to shift the result in any state, let alone the nation as a whole. In fact, not even a single precinct’s outcome was reversed.” • Their report. It is not, however, clear that the Republican Party in which these individuals were grandees even exists anymore.
Democrats en Déshabillé
I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:
The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). ; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. . (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.
Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.
* * *
“‘There was almost no debate’: How Dems’ defense spending spree went from shocker to snoozer” [Politico]. “Last year, Democrats on Capitol Hill stunned observers when they voted to ladle tens of billions of extra dollars onto President Joe Biden’s first Pentagon budget. Wielding control of the House, Senate and White House for the first time in a decade, Democrats were expected to hold the line on Pentagon spending that ballooned under Republicans and the Trump administration. Now, Congress is poised to do it again — with even more money at stake — and it’s anything but shocking.” • That’s because Democrats are the War Party.
Bill Kristol as not part of the Republican Establishment….
For the Republican establishment, there are no real limits or red lines. Bigotry, conspiracy, anti-democracy–all are to be overlooked in the service of victory for the Party.
First overlooked. Then rationalized. Then justified. Ultimately…embraced.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) July 26, 2022
The mind reels. It’s like, say, Cromwell morphing into a Royalist.
I think about this 2009 story a lot.
A Dem governor of a red state touting single-payer & then this from the Dem president (who had previously said he supported M4A).
“Minutes later, Obama made it clear he does not favor adopting such a system in the US” https://t.co/71j73P29Zp
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) July 26, 2022
And undercutting a Red State advocate!
“Biden’s Problems Go Back To 2009” [Seeing the Forest]. Final sentence: “When you think about ALL the things Democrats could have done after the public DEMANDED change, putting Obama into the presidency and delivering HUGE majorities in the House and Senate – but chose not to – you can see why things are the way they are today.” • Exactly.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“America’s Self-Obsession Is Killing Its Democracy” [The Atlantic]. “American democracy is dying. There are plenty of medicines that would cure it. Unfortunately, our political dysfunction means we’re choosing not to use them, and as time passes, fewer treatments become available to us, even though the disease is becoming terminal. No major prodemocracy reforms have passed Congress. No key political figures who tried to overturn an American election have faced real accountability. The president who orchestrated the greatest threat to our democracy in modern times is free to run for reelection, and may well return to office. Our current situation started with a botched diagnosis. When Trump first rose to political prominence, much of the American political class reacted with amusement, seeing him as a sideshow. Even if he won, they thought, he’d tweet like a populist firebrand while governing like a Romney Republican, constrained by the system. But for those who had watched Trump-like authoritarian strongmen rise in Turkey, India, Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Venezuela, Trump was never entertaining. He was ominously familiar. At issue was a classic frame-of-reference problem. America’s political culture is astonishingly insular. Turn on cable news and it’s all America, all the time. Other countries occasionally make cameos, but the story is still about us… Our self-obsession means that whenever authoritarianism rises abroad, it’s mentioned briefly, if at all. Have you ever spotted a breathless octobox of talking heads on CNN or Fox News debating the death of democracy in Turkey, Sri Lanka, or the Philippines? That’s why most American pundits and journalists used an ‘outsider comes to Washington’ framework to process Trump’s campaign and his presidency, when they should have been fitting every fresh fact into an ‘authoritarian populist’ framework or a ‘democratic death spiral’ framework. While debates raged over tax cuts and offensive tweets, the biggest story was often obscured: The system itself was at risk.” • In fact, America, although deeply provincial, is indeed exceptional:
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 26, 2022
We’re engaged in a massive social experiment to see whether an elite (ruling + governing classes) can “cull the herd” in six-figure quantities, and still retain hegemony (TINA); the Covid pandemic is only the latest and most obvious example. So far, the answer seems to be yes, or even “Hell, yeah!” Viewed in that light, is “the system” “at risk” at all?
“On the campaign trail, many Republicans talk of violence” [WaPo]. “Both candidates described a country that was not merely in trouble, but being destroyed by leaders who despise most Americans — effectively part of a civil war. In both swing states and safe seats, many Republicans say that liberals hate them personally and may turn rioters or a police state on people who disobey them.” • NOTES  Are they wrong?  A police state? Democrats?! Commentary:
to be clear, “try” is the operative word here https://t.co/zd9VjOUpPH
— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) July 26, 2022
“Is Democracy Constitutional?” [Adam Serwer, The Atlantic]. “In Moore v. Harper, North Carolina Republicans are arguing that no other state body, including the state supreme court, has the power to restrict the legislature’s ability to set voting rules—specifically ones allowing legislators to gerrymander the state, in defiance of a ruling by the state supreme court finding that their plan violated the state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. This belief is based on a crank legal premise called the ‘independent-state-legislature theory.” Sounds like something John C. Calhoun would love. More: “The independent-state-legislature theory has drawn a great deal of attention for its most radical potential application, the possibility of a legislature voting to throw out its state’s presidential-election results and appointing electors to favor the candidate of its choice…. If the Supreme Court upholds the independent-state-legislature theory, it will deprive the public of yet another means of defending itself. For the party that appoMinted the majority of the justices, that would be ideal.”
“The English Vocabulary and the Future of Capitalism” [Capital as Power]. “Blair [Fix] compares [here] the use of economic versus biblical vocabularies. He shows (1) that, in the English language, the ‘jargons’ of the two vocabularies are almost mutually exclusive; (2) that, historically, the relative importance of these two jargons moved more or less inversely to each other; and (3) and most surprisingly, that in the late 20th century, the importance of biblical jargon started to rise while that of economics began to decline (first figure). If this latest inflection is a harbinger of future trends, Blair argues, we might have already passed ‘peak capitalism’. Commentary:
8/ If this latest inflection is a harbinger of future trends, Blair argues, we might have already passed ‘peak capitalism’.
— Bichler & Nitzan (@BichlerNitzan) July 25, 2022
Looks like yet another example of a “What the heck happened in the mid-70s?” chart….
* * *
“Right-wing group is quietly conducting review of 300,000 Tarrant County ballots from 2020 primary” [Texas Tribune]. “Around 40 volunteers with a conservative group questioning the integrity of Texas election results, as well as that of some election administrators, have begun a review of thousands of ballots from Tarrant County’s March 2020 GOP primary election…. Members are specifically counting votes in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, in which Sen. John Cornyn won with 73% of the vote in Tarrant County over his closest challenger, who won 13% of the county’s votes. The group also alleges a range of fraudulent activities related to the 2020 November general election in Tarrant and other counties across the state but has offered no evidence to support the allegations.” • It’s good that ballots are public records in Texas. But note that if the ballots were hand-marked and hand-counted in public, the adminstrative burden Tarrant County complains of would be eliminated. So would any doubt about election results.
• I will have more to say about airplane air in due course. Here’s a teaser:
— CO2Review (@Co2Review) July 26, 2022
• Your library could do this:
Looking to check out an Aranet4 CO2 monitor?
Your local library may be able to help. Now available in Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Peterborough & High River.
— Barry Hunt #COVIDisAirborne 🌬 😷🪟 (@BarryHunt008) July 26, 2022
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 for the United States:
The train is still rolling. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. Under the hood the BA.4/BA.5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~122,150. Today, it’s ~129,000 and 129,000 * 6 = a Biden line at 774,000 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.
Regional case count for four weeks:
A slow upswing in the rest of the south, beneath the Florida and Texas gyrations.
NOT UPDATED From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, July 19:
1.1%. Up. (I wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe, correctly, that it’s more likely they will be infected.) What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.
Lambert here: I’m depressed. Walgreens has been so great, and now this data isn’t updating. What gives?
NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.
Status quo, i.e. it’s a totally not-over pandemic.
Lambert here: After the move from the CDC to the laughingly named ‘https://healthdata.gov,” this notice appeared: “Effective June 22, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.” So now the administration has belatedly come to the realization that we’re in a BA.5 surge, and yet essential data for making our personal risk assessment is only available twice a week. What’s the over/under on whether they actually deliver tomorrow?
Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 26:
Worse in California and Upstate New York (what’s up with that). Better in Texas. Status quo elsewere.
Previous Rapid Riser data:
Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 26:
Lots of yellow. Haven’t seen so little green (good) in quite some time.
Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), July 10:
NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (CDC), July 9 (Nowcast off):
BA.5 moving along nicely.
Wastewater data (CDC), Jul 23:
I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest levels (somewhat like Rapid Riser Counties, see on here). What’s visible is that a lot of cities are in trouble; but that coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border. This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.
Death rate (Our World in Data):
1,052,467. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.
Manufacturing: “United States Durable Goods Orders” [Trading Economics]. “New orders for US-made capital goods rose 1.9 percent from a month earlier in June of 2022, the most since January and the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Figures beat market forecasts for a 0.5 percent decrease in a sign that business spending plans remain strong so far despite higher interest rates and inflation.”
The Bezzle: “Dashcam repo” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. If you want a motto for the current economic situation, a touchstone to check in on whenever you hear about a new business model or a new depredation, I suggest Michael Hudson’s bedrock claim: “Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be paid.” 40 years of wage stagnation, combined with spiraling health, housing and education costs have produced a mountain of unpayable debts. Our society is organized around a small number of creditors extracting rents from an ever-growing pool of debtors whose ability to pay is eroded by every penalty and every emergency triggered by the lack of a cushion: Enter the digital arm-breaker. Networked, digital objects make arm-breaking cheaper and more effective than ever, transforming the artisinal, personal craft of terrorizing debtors into a mass-scale industrial activity. Miss a car payment? Maybe that car has a second, remote-controlled stereo that blares angry demands at you wherever you go: https://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/04/17/aa.bills.shut.engine.down/index.html Or maybe the dealer can immobilize it, disabling the ignition system: https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/miss-a-payment-good-luck-moving-that-car/ Or maybe it’s a Tesla, which will lock and immobilize itself and signal the dealer, then, when the repo man arrives, will flash its lights, honk its horn and back out of its parking place to ease repossession: https://tiremeetsroad.com/2021/03/18/tesla-allegedly-remotely-unlocks-model-3-owners-car-uses-smart-summon-to-help-repo-agent/ Algorithms can automate the arm-breaker’s creative sadism.” • A must-read.
Tech: “Google’s Nest Will Provide Data to Police Without a Warrant” [PetaPixel]. • That’s nice.
Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 37 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 27 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 27 at 1:20 PM EDT.
“Fake Dog for Home Security” [Tanner]. “I set up a fake dog that barks if my surveillance cameras are triggered while I’m out of town on vacation. It’s a pair of computer speakers plugged into a Raspberry Pi, which is an inexpensive single-board computer. One speaker faces the front door and the other faces the side door. When the front door camera is triggered my surveillance camera system sends a message to the Raspberry Pi. A simple program plays an audio clip of a big dog barking through the side speaker and then the front speaker. The change in speakers simulates a dog moving towards the front door. The opposite happens if the side door camera is triggered….”
“Brooklyn pastor says he and his wife were robbed of more than $1 million in jewelry while preaching” [CNN]. “A flashy Brooklyn pastor known for wearing designer outfits and extravagant jewelry says he was robbed along with his wife of more than $1 million while he was preaching at church Sunday. Police say they received a report that three people entered the Leaders of Tomorrow church Sunday with firearms and removed the jewelry pastor Lamor Miller-Whitehead, who goes by Bishop, and his wife were wearing.” • I think Jesus would have approved.
News of the Wired
“Help pick a syntax for CSS nesting” [Chrome Developers]. Not just for Chrome! Looks to me like the original CSS is more clear. But developers love them their squiggly brackets… Any CSS mavens in the readership with views?
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 Beez:
Beez writes: “2 in 1. Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants!” And: “Lambert! We are in luck. Attached is a Coral Fungi! Not as bright as some images yet encapsulates fungi & coral in one. Clavarioid fungi, colloquially Coral Fungi. Eucalyptus Ironbark flower in foreground amongst leaf litter. NSW Australia.”
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:
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!