2:00PM Water Cooler 5/31/2024 | naked capitalism

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Eastern Phoebe, Leo’s House, Lumpkin, Georgia, United States. “Leo’s House” is such a great location. Is there a person named Leo, who has a house? (Lumpkin has a historic preservation program, so it’s possible there is a house named “Leo’s House,” with a plaque, but if so, it doesn’t show up in search. Lumpkin readers?)

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

Less than a half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 24:

A mixed bag for Team Trump, this week with some Swing States (more here) Brownian-motioning themselves back toward him, including Pennsylvania. Not, however, Michigan, to which Trump paid a visit. Of course, it goes without saying that these are all state polls, therefore bad, and most of the results are within the margin of error. If will be interesting to see whether the verdict in Judge Merchan’s court affects the polling, and if so, how.

* * *

Trump (R) (Bragg/Merchan): “Queens man convicted” [Queens Daily Eagle]. “Former Jamaica Estates resident Donald Trump was convicted by a Manhattan jury on Thursday of 34 counts of falsifying business records in an effort to cover up a sex scandal he feared would ruin his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election. The jury’s verdict, which came after only two days of deliberations, makes Trump the first president from Queens – or anywhere in the United States, for that matter – to become a felon. The conviction puts an end to the trial in Manhattan Criminal Court that began a month and a half ago, and brought hundreds of journalists and spectators of all stripes to the aging courthouse at 100 Centre Street. The trial was overseen by another man from the World’s Borough, Justice Juan Merchan, who was raised in Jackson Heights.” • Commentary:

A “criminogenic environment,” as Bill Black used to say.

Trump (R): “Prosecutors Got Trump — But They Contorted the Law” [Ellie Honig, New York Magazine]. Worth reading carefully and in full. “Both of these things can be true at once: The jury did its job, and this case was an ill-conceived, unjustified mess. Sure, victory is the great deodorant, but a guilty verdict doesn’t make it all pure and right…. The district attorney’s press office and its flaks often proclaim that falsification of business records charges are ‘commonplace‘…. But when you impose meaningful search parameters, the truth emerges: The charges against Trump are obscure, and nearly entirely unprecedented. In fact, no state prosecutor — in New York, or Wyoming, or anywhere — has ever charged federal election laws as a direct or predicate state crime, against anyone, for anything. None. Ever…. So, to inflate the charges up to the lowest-level felony (Class E, on a scale of Class A through E) — and to electroshock them back to life within the longer felony statute of limitations — the DA alleged that the falsification of business records was committed ‘with intent to commit another crime.’ Here, according to prosecutors, the ‘another crime’ is a New York State election-law violation, which in turn incorporates three separate ‘unlawful means’: federal campaign crimes, tax crimes, and falsification of still more documents. — and the judge declined[1] to force them to pony up — until right before closing arguments. (This, folks, is what indictments are for.)” As I have been muttering for some time. More: “In these key respects, the charges against Trump aren’t just unusual. They’re bespoke, seemingly crafted individually for the former president and nobody else.” That would be called a bill of attainder[2].” • Again, well worth a read. NOTES [1] Merchan and Bragg worked “in concert.” [2] I’ve been thinking hard about the case architecture and concluding that was expertly constructed to bring about this result; the concealment of the “object offense” in the charges, for example, confused coverage throughout and, as Honig points out, denied the defendant the chance to prepare a defense. I muttered today to Yves about “crafted,” though I don’t think I used that work. But an entire liberal Democrat flex-net — I would speculate — including Bragg and quite possibly Merchan, worked on this project; they did well. (On the flex-net, see “Inside the Off-the-Record Calls Held by Anti-Trump Legal Pundits.” Legal eagles, media personalities, former prosecutors. No mention of organs of state security. Oddly.)

Trump (R): “Article 390 – NY Criminal Procedure Law, PRE-SENTENCE REPORTS” [The Law Firm of Andrew M. Stengel]. “S 390.30 Scope of pre-sentence investigation and report…. 2. Physical and mental examinations. Whenever information is available with respect to the defendant’s physical and mental condition, the pre-sentence investigation must include the gathering of such information. In the case of a felony or a class A misdemeanor, or in any case where a person under the age of twenty-one is convicted of a crime, .” • Hmm. At least for the “New York State Health Service Corps“: “(c) Designated facility or agency shall mean a facility or institution designated by the Commissioner of Health, in consultation with the State Health Service Corps advisory committee that is: (1) operated by: …. (iii) the Department of Correctional Services…,” among other entities. It would be nice if the office of the practitioner doing the examination were not a patronage gift (i.e., controlled by the Democrat Party), but who can say?

Trump (R): Editors everywhere wrote exactly the same headline (with a few variations way lower in the thread):

The thread concludes:

“The importance of our local markets, a plural press”… without a shred of irony! Looks more like PMC schooling behavior to me.

* * *

Trump (R): “We Are Starting to Enjoy Hatred” [Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal]. “But some enjoy their hatred—this is the new part, and I think pretty widespread—because it helps them avoid seeing that they are involved in a tragedy. One will likely fail physically in coming years—he’s failing now—and be replaced by a vice president who is wholly unsuited for the presidency because she is wholly unserious, who has had four years to prove herself in a baseline way and failed to meet even the modest standards by which vice presidents are judged. The other may, on being elected or even before then, be thrown into the slammer for one of the felony charges against him, including those connected to attempting to overthrow a democratic national election. This is a tragedy—that this is what we’ve got, these are our choices. When you’ve got a major hate on, you don’t have to notice.” • Hate as a form of denialism; interesting concept.

Trump (R): “Trump campaign hauls in $35M, says it broke fundraising record after conviction” [Axios]. “Former President Trump’s campaign said Friday that it had a $34.8 million windfall after he was convicted of 34 felonies in his New York hush money trial. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s campaign said the haul was ‘nearly double’ its previous single-day fundraising record on the WinRed platform for Republican donors.” • Woo hoo!

Trump (R): “Karl Rove Warns That a Guilty Verdict Could Cost Trump Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania” [Mediaite]. “Fox News contributor and veteran political strategist Karl Rove said that a guilty verdict in presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s hush money trial could cost him the key swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania on Thursday. During an appearance on America Reports, Rove was asked to evaluate a recent NPR/PBS Newshour poll gauging how voters might react to a conviction. It found that 15% of both registered and independent voters would be more likely to vote for Trump in the case of a guilty verdict, while 17% of the former group and 11% of the latter would be less likely to support him. The remainders in both groups said a conviction would make no difference to their decision.” • As Rove points out, 15% (registered, more) – 17% (registered, less) = 2% less. The margins are too small to cr*p around.

Trump (R): “Guilt Complex: Trump’s Felony Convictions Are a Big Political Problem” [Politico]. “Trump simply cannot beat President Joe Biden relying solely on the votes of people who think his legal travails are a politically motivated scam, and who cheer Trump not in spite of his transgressions but because of them…. There are plenty of such people — enough to power this generation’s most important political movement — but still not enough to win the election…. [Clinton’s email scandal resonated] because for many people it painted a picture of someone who thought she operated above the rules. The Manhattan conviction, according to operatives in both parties, allows Biden to put Trump in a similar box. There are two demographic slices he’ll be aiming at with such an appeal. One is highly educated, highly informed traditional Republicans, who can reliably be expected to vote. They don’t like Trump but are open to voting for him because they regard Biden as too old or his administration as too anti-business. The conviction makes it harder for this group to rationalize a Trump vote as the best among bad alternatives. The other is low-information, less reliable voters. They typically aren’t paying close attention to the news, but a big event like the conviction can penetrate their consciousness in lasting ways. Among both groups the argument is less that Trump is a would-be dictator who could end democracy. It is that he is a self-absorbed agent of chaos who is too preoccupied with his own troubles to govern effectively. In both cases, small movements could have large consequences.” • Except that “Trump is a would-be dictator who could end democracy” is a message the Democrats have had the knobs up to 11 on for months (“What if This Is Our Last Real Election?”) Can they really just turn those knobs down to zero? And turn up the “agent of chaos” knob?

* * *

Biden (D): “What the Biden campaign thinks the Trump verdict means” [CNN]. “The convictions might not move the needle in a major way in the election, those close to the Biden reelection effort told CNN, but an acquittal could have really helped Trump – and that makes Thursday’s historic decision a win for the Biden campaign, if only because it is not a loss. A sense of despondency had started to creep in from top supporters and donors in recent weeks, as more moments that reelection campaign strategists had projected would shift the race – the beginning of the 2024 calendar year, the end of the Republican primaries, the coming of spring when they figured more people would pay attention to Trump’s record—have come and gone without any notable movement in the polls or overall dynamics…. But the conviction on 34 counts has reassured some of their mantra that the more people focus on Trump and the choice ahead of them, the better Biden’s November is going to be – and to push back on the ‘nothing matters’ sensibility that has helped power Trump through so many other dark moments over his last nine years in politics.” • I suppose “nothing matters” is a lowbrow way of saying nihilism; perhaps a compliment, in a way.

* * *

Biden (D): “Biden’s problems with younger voters are glaring, poll finds” [NPR]. “Voters 18-29 years old made up roughly 1 in 6 voters in 2020, and President Biden won them by more than 20 points, according to exit polls. He won voters under 45, who were 40% of the electorate, by double-digits, too… [T]he latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll underscores the depth of his problems…. In a head-to-head matchup with Trump, Biden and Trump are in a statistical tie, with Biden narrowly ahead 50%-48%. He leads by just 4 points with voters under 45 and by 6 with Gen Z/Millennials. But when independents Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West, as well as Green Party candidate Jill Stein are introduced, Biden trails Trump by 4 points. Trump leads by 6 with Gen Z/Millennials and by 8 with the under 45 group in this scenario.” Of those 18-29: “62% have an unfavorable opinion of him, while Trump gets a net-positive rating — 49%-42%. That’s the highest favorability rating for Trump of any of the age groups.

Biden (D): “One explanation for the 2024 election’s biggest mystery” [Eric Levitz, VOX]. “I’ve been toying with a different theory of the president’s woes, one that makes better sense of his peculiar demographic weaknesses: Voters with low levels of trust in society and the political system are shifting rightward. Donald Trump redefined the GOP in the eyes of many, associating the party with a paranoid vision of American life and a populist contempt for the nation’s political system. In response, Democrats rallied to the defense of America’s greatness, norms, and institutions. As the parties polarized on the question of whether America was ‘already great,’ voters with high levels of social trust and confidence in the political system became more Democratic, while those with low social trust and little faith in the government became more Republican. This miniature realignment was apparent in 2016 and 2020, according to some analysts. And there is some reason to think that it may have accelerated over the past four years. If it did, then Biden’s peculiar difficulties with young, nonwhite, and/or low-propensity voters would make more sense, as those demographic groups evince unusually little trust in their government or fellow Americans. This theory is merely speculative. It’s consistent with many data points but proven by none. If true, however, it does not bode well for the Biden campaign.” • Levitz, not unexpectedly, erases Covid; here I urge that “belief scarring” from lying and betrayal during the Covid pandemic led to lowered trust.

Biden (D): “‘A dying empire led by bad people’: Poll finds young voters despairing over US politics” [Semafor (Nippersdad)]. “As part of the online poll of 943 18-30-year-old registered voters, Blueprint asked participants to respond to a series of questions about the American political system: 49% agreed to some extent that elections in the country don’t represent people like them; 51% agreed to some extent that the political system in the US ‘doesn’t work for people like me;’ and 64% backed the statement that ‘America is in decline.’ A whopping 65% agreed either strongly or somewhat that ‘nearly all politicians are corrupt, and make money from their political power’ — only 7% disagreed. ‘I think these statements blow me away, the scale of these numbers with young voters,’ Evan Roth Smith, Blueprint’s lead pollster, told Semafor. ‘Young voters do not look at our politics and see any good guys. They see a dying empire led by bad people.’” Importantly: “: 51% of those polled said they were happier before the COVID-19 pandemic, 77% said that the event changed the country for the worse, and 45% said they feel less connected to friends and acquaintances compared with five years ago.” • See comment on “belief scarring” immediately above.

Democrats en Déshabillé

“Joe Manchin leaves the Democratic Party, files as independent” [Axios]. Joe: “My work here is done.”


“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

* * *

Covid 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 (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, 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, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

* * *

Censorship and Propaganda

I don’t know how Trump’s Surgeon General became one of the few sane voices around, but here we are:

Adams is also 100% correct on the bleach myth; I’m too time-pressed to look it up, but I checked the transcript, and Trump didn’t say it. Pelosi said he said it, and the press ran with it. When is Adams going to run for President so I can vote for him?


“Hawaii sees rise in COVID-19 positivity amid variant spread” [Star Advertiser]. “The Hawaii Department of Health has tracked consecutive increases in COVID-19 positivity rates over the past five weeks as new variants take hold in the islands. Health officials today reported an average positivity rate of 10.5%, up from 8.5% the previous week. On May 1, the average positivity rate was at 4.3%. he FLiRT variants — named after the technical names for their mutations — are descendants of JN.1, which was dominant in the U.S. earlier this year. The mutations potentially make the variants more immune-evasive by improving their binding ability to cells, and could possibly drive a wave of new COVID cases this summer, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. State health officials, meanwhile, are warning that COVID activity is on the rise, based on DOH’s new respiratory disease activity dashboard.” • Fortunately, Hawaii doesn’t have a major international airport, with a lot of passangers travelling to and from… Oh, wait…

Elite Maleficence

They knew:

Alert reader DD threw the entire RA form over the transom:

Does make you wonder where the CDC whistleblowers were. Is there a culture of feat at CDC? If so, it’s exceptional.

* * *

Lambert here: Patient readers, I’m going to have to rethink this beautifully formatted table. Biobot data is gone, CDC variant data functions, ER visits are dead, CDC stopped mandatory hospital data collection, New York Times death data has stopped. (Note that the two metrics the hospital-centric CDC cared about, hospitalization and deaths, have both gone dark). Ideally I would replace hospitalization and death data, but I’m not sure how. I might also expand the wastewater section to include (yech) Verily data, H5N1 if I can get it. Suggestions and sources welcome. UPDATE I replaced the Times death data with CDC data. Amusingly, the URL doesn’t include parameters to construct the tables; one must reconstruct then manually each time. Caltrops abound.

TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] (Biobot) Dead.

[2] (Biobot) Dead.

[3] (CDC Variants) FWIW, given that the model completely missed KP.2.

[4] (ER) This is the best I can do for now. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) Still going up, though fortunately no sign of geometric increase. The New York city area has form; in 2020, as the home of two international airports (JFK and EWR) it was an important entry point for the virus into the country (and from thence up the Hudson River valley, as the rich sought to escape, and around the country through air travel)

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC). This is the best I can do for now. Note the assumption that Covid is seasonal is built into the presentation. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[7] (Walgreens) Going up.

[8] (Cleveland) Going up.

[9] (Travelers: Positivity) Flattening.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) KP.2 enters the chat, as does B.1.1.529.

[11] Deaths low, but positivity up.

[12] Deaths low, ED not up.

Stats Watch

Personal Income: “United States Personal Income” [Trading Economics]. “US personal income rose by 0.3% from the previous month to $23.234 trillion in April of 2024, slowing from a 0.5% increase in the prior month, in line with market forecasts. Compensation of employees rose by 0.2%, a slight ease from the 0.6% gain the previous month, driven by slower increases in both wages and salaries (0.2% vs 0.6% in March) and supplements to wages and salaries (0.3% vs 0.4%).” • You say “ease” like that’s a good thing.

Manufacturing: “United States Chicago PMI” [Trading Economics]. “The Chicago Business Barometer, also known as the Chicago PMI, dropped to 35.4 in May of 2024 from 37.9 in the prior month, sharply missing market forecasts that ranged from 41 to 42.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Neutral (previous close: 45 Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 31 at 1:32:37 PM ET.

News of the Wired

I am not feeling wired today.

* * *

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, lichen, 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 DW:

DW writes: “A Star Magnolia (magnolia stellata) reflecting light from the kitchen window, and blooming about two weeks earlier than last year. The birds using the feeder are a tad nonplussed by the blossoms, but are quickly adjusting to them. Coos County, Oregon.” I’m not sure this challenging photo is a complete success, but it’s a neat idea and I include it in the hopes that others will be inspired to experiment with the technique.

* * *

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