2:00PM Water Cooler 12/18/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, sorry to be a bit late. Every so often by VPN causes my browser to believe I’m in Norway, at which point search results and my mailer UI appear in Norwegian, and I have to spend a few minutes persuading my browser otherwise. More politics shortly. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day


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

Case count by United States region:

Resuming the upward climb, though at a lesser slope. Looks like the Midwest did it, from the regional data. I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching, because I don’t think the peak is coming in the next days, or even weeks. Is the virus gathering itself for another leap?

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California) instead of the Midwest:

Yikes, California!

Test positivity by region:

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

Distinct flattening. Hospitalization is also discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate by region:

Slight decrease in deaths slope, now driven by the Midwest and the South. I don’t much care for that gradual increase in the fatality rate and wonder what’s behind it.


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

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

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

Democrats in Disarray

“Here’s who is likely to get a second stimulus check under the latest relief package” [CNBC]. “The latest $900 billion pandemic rescue package is set to include support in the form of $300 enhanced weekly unemployment benefits, small business loans, funding to help with vaccine distribution, food assistance and emergency rental relief. The legislation also is expected to include a second round of stimulus payments — up to $600 to $700 per individual, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters on Wednesday. That’s about half of the $1,200 maximum stimulus per person provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The good news is that new stimulus payments will be available for dependents, including adult dependents such as college students, according to the Washington Post. As for who’s getting a check, as of now, lawmakers are basing eligibility on the same income standards established in the CARES Act.” • Complex, means-tested, inadequate, an insult to the working class. So liberal Democrats love it. Or in pictorial form:


GA: “In Georgia, a Rare Campaign Where People’s Eyes Aren’t Glued to the Polls” [New York Times]. • Maybe… Maybe… Maybe because people have just had a bad experience with polls?

GA: “Over 1.1 million ballots cast in early voting for Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs” [Reuters]. “The surge in turnout after four days of early in-person voting, and about four weeks of mail-in voting, showed that voter participation in the two races is on pace to rival the records set in the November presidential contest in which Biden defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump. State data published on Friday showed the number of accepted ballots was just below the level seen at the same point in early voting for November’s election. Voting in the Senate runoffs, which are taking place because no candidate won 50% support on Nov. 3, ends on Jan. 5. Biden’s razor-thin victory in Georgia last month amid record-high turnout underscored the Southern state’s transformation from Republican stronghold to one of the country’s most competitive political battlegrounds.”

Transition to Biden

UPDATE “‘Democracy Has Gotten a Reprieve With Biden’s Victory. That’s All It Is.'” (interview) [Bernie Sanders, The Nation]. Sanders: “I want to underline that point a dozen times. This is a guy who’s crazy and is completely undisciplined. What happens if you have the next person around who is not crazy and is not undisciplined, who does not go around attacking people like Dr. [Anthony] Fauci or the [network] correspondents? Then you’re in real danger…. There are a million reasons why a candidate loses. It has to do with the candidate. It has to do with the district. It has to do with the opponent. But I think the main problem is the Democratic Party is not clear about what it stands for.” • One thing the Democrat Party stands for is quite clear: No universal concrete material benefits (see Yglesias, amazingly enough, below). No working class empowerment, not even card-check. I suppose I could think of something positive given enough a few minutes — jobs for the boys and girls? — but time presses….

“Cabinet of firsts but first a climate cabinet” [Indian Country]. “President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Haaland as interior secretary. The historic pick would make her the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations. Haaland, who is vice chair of the House committee on Natural Resources, will have a significant role managing public lands. ‘Right now,’ she said in an earlier statement, ‘public lands emit close to 25 percent of the carbon emissions, the total carbon emissions of our country. And that’s because this administration has gone hog wild with leasing off land to the gas and oil industry.'” • This is one Biden appointment I’m happy with (and I hope readers don’t undeceive me…).

UPDATE “Progressives push for key national security positions under Biden” [The Hill]. “Dozens of progressive organizations will deliver a book to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team on Friday with staffing recommendations for 100 positions in his administration within the national security space. The book contains 100 profiles of left-leaning foreign policy experts and potential positions they could fill. The effort was led by Yasmine Taeb, a Democratic National Committee member and a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, and Alex McCoy, the political director at Common Defense. Of the 100 people included in the Progressive Foreign Policy Talent Pipeline, about two-thirds are women or people of color, and the overriding qualifier was that none of the candidates have corporate ties or backgrounds. The candidates generally advocate for foreign policy restraint and support cutting the budget at the Pentagon and pulling the U.S. out of foreign entanglements.” • That’s what we like to hear. (I don’t know why people see “dozens of progressive organizations” as a strength. It’s not. It’s a weakness.)

UPDATE Lawrence Wilkerson on Biden’s pro-war cabinet” (podcast) [Pushback with Aaron Maté]. Wilkerson: “I don’t see a different kind of administration being formed. And it disturbs me because it just means more of the same — a little more calmness, a little more serenity, which lulls everyone into thinking that things are better, when in fact they’re not.” • To brunch!

UPDATE “Biden: Political efforts to target son amount to ‘foul play'” [The Hill]. “When Colbert pressed again on whether Biden could work with Republicans who have targeted Hunter Biden, the president-elect said that he could. ‘If it benefits the country, then yes. I really mean it,’ he said. ‘Because look, there’s so much at stake and the American people, I think they can smell the phoniness, smell what’s true and not true.'”

UPDATE “Joe Biden Wears a ‘Kick Me’ Sign” [Politico]. “The conservative mind typically has a natural deference to authority, making Republicans more likely to respond positively to the notion of a president laying down the law and punishing dissenters. The liberal mind typically has a natural skepticism toward authority, and a natural sympathy to the grievances and demands of its own special-interest constituencies, especially when these are groups that historically have faced prejudice.” • Dear Lord. Anybody who saw the Party instantly line up behind Biden after the party Leader, Obama, blessed him, and saw Biden win states he hadn’t even opened campaign offices in, knows there’s plenty of the authoritarian follower in a Democrat loyalist. As for “natural sympathy,” read Thomas Frank on how the liberal Democrats systematically betrayed their (former) working class base. Who edited this tripe?

Transition from Trump

“13 Things Trump Got Right” [David Frum, The Atlantic]. In a fine example of bathos, Frum starts with “Stricter Regulation of Vaping.” Notable omissions: Deep-sixing TPP, and not getting involved in a ground war (like Iraq) or an air war (like the regime change in Libya). If Frum does not regard those as achievements, that’s an implicit assessment of what he thinks Biden is likely to do…

“Never-Trump movement splinters as its villain heads for the exit” [Politico]. “More than a dozen leaders of the never-Trump movement said in interviews that they see their work as far from over once Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. They want to keep the heat on Republicans who serve as Trump foot soldiers and to provide cover for those who reject far-out conspiracy theories and attacks on democracy. But how to do it is another story. After beating Trump and creating a permission structure for some GOP voters to back Biden, the task now, they said, is to turn back Republicans’ embrace of authoritarianism and transform their party in the process. But ask each of the never-Trump leaders what that means, and you get a different answer from each of them.”


“Hackers used SolarWinds’ dominance against it in sprawling spy campaign” [Reuters]. “Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password ‘solarwinds123′” • Taking candy from a baby. And now the baby is squalling….

UPDATE “The Russian ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’ That Wasn’t” [The American Conservative]. “Infiltration and extracting information is not an act of war, but evidence of the typical espionage operations that are conducted against near peer adversaries.”

UPDATE “Lawmakers ask whether massive hack amounted to act of war” [The Hill]. • I say nuke ’em. It’s the only way to be safe.

Obama Legacy

“Why Did Obama Forget Who Brought Him to the Dance?” [Politico]. “But there’s a strange lacuna in A Promised Land, a missing thread that I kept looking for but never found. That thread is his popular base…. But as is by now well known, once Obama entered office, he abandoned this army and staked his presidency on the inside-the-Beltway strategies of his first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel…. So as I read A Promised Land, I kept looking for hindsight about cardinal political error. Obama offers none. The words ‘Organizing for America’ don’t appear anywhere in the book.” • Everytime I read another story about Squandered Promised Land, Obama looks worse.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Inside the Left’s New, ‘Mature’ Political Strategy” [Politico]. “‘The Justice Democrats have 10 members in Congress, and the House Democrats have — I think it’s a six-seat majority,’ says Chakrabarti. ‘Now they can negotiate as mature partners at a table. They have real power.'” • Great. Then hold up the relief bill for $1200, ffs.

UPDATE “The real history of race and the New Deal” [Matthew Yglesias, Slow Boring]. “Material benefits trumped FDR’s terrible civil rights records.” • What the heck’s gotten into Yglesias? He keeps writing stuff I agree with.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 12 December 2020 – Improvement Continues” [Econintersect]. “Total rail traffic has two components – carloads and intermodal (containers or trailers on rail cars). Container exports from China have recovered, container exports from the U.S. remain deep in contraction. This week again intermodal continued in expansion year-over-year and continues on a strengthening trendline. Carloads are still in contraction year-over-year this week – but nearing positive territory.But overall because of the strength of intermodal, rail is growing year-over-year.”

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Shipping: “Postal Police Officers Blame Mail Theft Increase on Decision to End Neighborhood Patrols” [NBC Washington]. “A policy change could be to blame for increased mail theft across our area, a postal insider told the News4 I-Team. The head of the Postal Police Officers Association says the U.S. Postal Service removed its uniformed officers from patrols that deter those kinds of crimes, instead stationing them inside postal processing facilities. ‘It’s nuts; it’s absolutely crazy,’ said Frank Albergo, president of the PPOA. ‘They pulled us off the street. There are no more marked postal police vehicles out in the street. I mean, it’s actually inviting crime.’ Albergo contacted the I-Team after seeing a November investigation featuring Maryland families who reported having checks stolen from blue collection boxes. One eyewitness even saw the thieves in action, using a special arrow key that unlocks all of the blue mailboxes within a given area. Court records show carriers are frequently targeted for their keys.” • I had no idea there were marked postal police vehicles. Readers?

Manufacturing: “U.S. Defense Department looks to bolster domestic chip manufacture with new program” [Reuters]. “The U.S. Defense Department will soon start soliciting proposals for a program to provide incentives to boost semiconductor manufacturing capabilities in the United States, according to a posting on a government contracting site. Major American semiconductor companies such as Apple Inc, Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp rely on outside manufacturers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) or Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to fabricate their chips in what are called foundries. Most of those foundries are located in Taiwan or South Korea. While Intel Corp operates U.S. chip factories, they are mostly dedicated to manufacturing its own chips rather than doing work for outside clients. The Defense Department is looking to change that dynamic by providing incentives for the development of chip-related intellectual property and the creation of advanced foundries in the United States, according to a notice posted to the website of the National Security Technology Accelerator, a nonprofit group that works to connect private-sector companies to government contract opportunities.”

Travel: “COVID-19: TUI boss rejects idea of turning away non-vaccinated holidaymakers” [Sky News]. Chief executive Fritz Joussen told reporters that turning away customers who have not had a vaccine ‘would be a mistake.’ He insisted that testing would be ‘absolutely the important thing.” The comments come after the head of Qantas – based in Australia, which has imposed some of the world’s toughest travel restrictions – said it would insist in future that international travellers have a vaccine before they fly.” • As of now, Joussen is correct: We don’t know if any of the vaccines (or whatever it is we all the mRNA platforms) prevent transmission.

Travel: “How Toxic Fumes Seep into the Air You Breathe on Planes” [Los Angeles Times]. The air you breathe on airplanes comes directly from the jet engines. Known as bleed air, it is safe, unless there is a mechanical issue — a faulty seal, for instance. When that happens, heated jet engine oil can leak into the air supply, potentially releasing toxic gases into the plane. For decades, the airline industry and its regulators have known about these incidents — called fume events — and have maintained that they are rare and that the toxic chemical levels are too low to pose serious health risks. But a Times investigation found that vapors from oil and other fluids seep into planes with alarming frequency across all airlines, at times creating chaos and confusion: Flight attendants vomit and pass out. Passengers struggle to breathe. Children get rushed to hospitals. Pilots reach for oxygen masks or gasp for air from opened cockpit windows. Such events are documented in airport paramedic records, NASA safety reports, federal aviation records and other filings reviewed by The Times.” • Something to fix while all the planes are still on the ground?

Concentration: “Google Faces U.S. Antitrust Regulators Who Want More Than Just Fines” [Bloomberg]. “On Thursday, after a barrage of antitrust lawsuits, Google mounted a defense of its most valuable business. The response showed it’s not a Ma Bell breakup Google fears, but being forced to alter its crown jewel—the search engine…. ‘This lawsuit demands changes to the design of Google Search, requiring us to prominently feature online middlemen in place of direct connections to businesses,’ Adam Cohen, Google’s director of economic policy, wrote in a blog post.” • For middlemen, read curators, bloggers, content creators, as opposed to algos (and whoever pays the Google for a top ranking). I think that Google should (a) index everything, which it no longer does, (b) roll the engine back to, say, 2008, when search wasn’t crapified, and (c) make the interface a list of blue links. Period. How hard could that be?

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Extreme Greed (previous close: 65 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 76 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 18 at 12:18pm. The Index returns!

Health Care

“The Elderly vs. Essential Workers: Who Should Get the Coronavirus Vaccine First?” [New York Times] (CDC PowerPoint). “Health care workers and the frailest of the elderly — residents of long-term-care facilities — will almost certainly get the first shots, under guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued on Thursday. But with vaccination expected to start this month, the debate among federal and state health officials about who goes next, and lobbying from outside groups to be included, is growing more urgent.” CDC has not adopted a policy; the PowerPoint gives options. Pulling out the most inflammatory quote: “Harald Schmidt, an expert in ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, said that it is reasonable to put essential workers ahead of older adults, given their risks, and that they are disproportionately minorities. ‘Older populations are whiter, ” Dr. Schmidt said. ‘Society is structured in a way that enables them to live longer. Instead of giving additional health benefits to those who already had more of them, we can start to level the playing field a bit.‘” • Of course, the real solution would have been to pay people to stay home, rather than forcing them into the workplace. That seems not to have occurred to the good Doctor Schmidt, who looks young-ish; I certainly hope he’s willing to follow fellow medical ethicist Ezekiel Emanuel when his time comes…

“Can We Do Twice as Many Vaccinations as We Thought?” [Zeynep Tufecki, New York Times]. “Both vaccines are supposed to be administered in two doses, a prime and a booster, 21 days apart for Pfizer and 28 days for Moderna. However, in data provided to the F.D.A., there are clues for a tantalizing possibility: that even a single dose may provide significant levels of protection against the disease. If that’s shown to be the case, this would be a game changer, allowing us to vaccinate up to twice the number of people and greatly alleviating the suffering not just in the United States, but also in countries where vaccine shortages may take years to resolve. But to get there — to test this possibility — we must act fast and must quickly acquire more data…. Crucially, though, we should begin immediate single-dose trials, recruiting volunteers from low-risk populations who are first in line for the vaccinations.” • Wait. Why are low-risjk populations first in line?

“Texas doctors in rural hotspots left out in cold on vaccine” [Reuters]. “Running in between patients, Dr. Eileen Sprys pauses to catch her breath, tries to gather herself, but cannot mask her frustration: The health care workers in her COVID-besieged West Texas hospital [Medical Arts Hospital in Lamesa, Texas] were left out of the first shipment of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, and they have no idea when they may get it…. Not a single rural hospital in this state that prides itself on its country roots received any doses of the vaccine this week, despite such medical outposts serving around 20% of the state’s population, or 3 million people…. Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for state health services, said there were two big reasons why rural areas were left off the initial Pfizer vaccine shipments. The first is that the smallest shipment contains 975 doses, so the state sent it to hospitals who said they had that many health care workers to inoculate. The second reason is that the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored in special freezers, which larger facilities were more likely to have. But that reasoning irks the doctors in Lamesa as their hospital had purchased one of those freezers in anticipation.” • Nobody could have predicted….

The Biosphere

I don’t think Williamson was Presidential timber, but the DNC shouldn’t have silenced her, either:

“Astronomers Get Their Wish, and a Cosmic Crisis Gets Worse” [Quanta]. “On December 3, humanity suddenly had information at its fingertips that people have wanted for, well, forever: the precise distances to the stars…. The data comes from the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft, which has spent the past six years stargazing from a perch 1 million miles high. The telescope has measured the “parallaxes” of 1.3 billion stars — tiny shifts in the stars’ apparent positions in the sky that reveal their distances…. Best of all for cosmologists, Gaia’s new catalogue includes the special stars whose distances serve as yardsticks for measuring all farther cosmological distances. Because of this, the new data has swiftly sharpened the biggest conundrum in modern cosmology: the unexpectedly fast expansion of the universe, known as the Hubble tension. The tension is this: The cosmos’s known ingredients and governing equations predict that it should currently be expanding at a rate of 67 kilometers per second per megaparsec — meaning we should see galaxies flying away from us 67 kilometers per second faster for each additional megaparsec of distance. Yet actual measurements consistently overshoot the mark. Galaxies are receding too quickly. The discrepancy thrillingly suggests that some unknown quickening agent may be afoot in the cosmos.”

Our Famously Free Press

“A Riveting ISIS Story, Told in a Times Podcast, Falls Apart” [New York Times]. “As a result of the review, The Times on Friday published an editors’ note that the podcast was “not sufficiently rigorous” and that the episodes presenting Mr. Chaudhry’s claims did not meet its standards.” • For some reason, this story is all about Chaudhry, and not about how Times reporting foisted a second Curveball on its credulous readership. Sadly, Typos of the Times hasn’t gotten to this article yet, but I include another tweet:

Making the point that when a news-gathering organization has shoddy copy-editing, it’s shoddy all the way through.

Police State Watch

“A Minneapolis cop told Somali American teens he was proud U.S. troops killed ‘you folk’ during Black Hawk Down. The police union fought to keep his job anyway.” [Sahan Journal]. ‘If you fuck with me, I’m gonna break your leg before you even get a chance to run,’ Officer Roderic Weber told one of the four Somali American teens in the car. ‘I don’t screw around.’ ‘Can you tell me why I’m being arrested?’ one of the teens asked. ‘Because I feel like arresting you,’ Weber replied. …. For more than five years, the City of Minneapolis didn’t publicly disclose the full events of that day. Now, Sahan Journal has obtained documents and recordings through a public records lawsuit against the city, which reveal for the first time that the Minneapolis officer subjected the teens to a litany of racist comments, within earshot of other officers and a police supervisor. No record has emerged to suggest any of these other officers intervened or reported their colleague to department leadership. The officer’s newly discovered words—described as volatile, prejudiced, and horrific by police accountability advocates—highlight the Minneapolis Police Department’s often tenuous relationship with people of color, and especially the Somali community. After an internal disciplinary investigation, the police department fired the officer. But the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis union fought to keep the officer’s badge at an employment arbitration hearing over a year after the incident. This process led to a scathing ruling which upheld the firing, calling the officer’s language ‘about as bad as it gets.'” • Wonder how that investigation into South Bend PD is going….

Department of Feline Felicity

Look on my works, ye mighty:

The Conservatory

OK boomer Diamond geezer:

Xmas Pregame Activities


Guillotine Watch

“The wealthy scramble for COVID-19 vaccines: ‘If I donate $25,000 … would that help me?'” [Los Angeles Times]. “They’re offering tens of thousands of dollars in cash, making their personal assistants pester doctors every day, and asking whether a five-figure donation to a hospital would help them jump the line. The COVID-19 vaccine is here — and so are the wealthy people who want it first. ‘We get hundreds of calls every single day,’ said Dr. Ehsan Ali, who runs Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor. His clients, who include Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, pay between $2,000 and $10,000 a year for personalized care. ‘This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients.'” • That last sentence is even more frightening than the headline, since it implies that the entire health care system is rotten from top to bottom; everything is for sale.

Class Warfare

In the Matter of the Claim of Colin Lowry, Respondent. Uber Technologies, Inc., Appellant. Commissioner of Labor, Respondent New York State Law Reporting Bureau. No coverage of this yet:

Based upon the record as a whole, we conclude that substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that Uber exercised sufficient control over the drivers to establish an employment relationship. Uber controls the drivers’ access to their customers, calculates and collects the fares and sets the drivers’ rate of compensation. Drivers may choose the route to take in transporting customers, but Uber provides a navigation system, tracks the drivers’ location on the app throughout the trip and reserves the right to adjust the fare if the drivers take an inefficient route. Uber also controls the vehicle used, precludes certain driver behavior and uses its rating system to encourage and promote drivers to conduct themselves in a way that maintains “a positive environment” and “a fun atmosphere in the car.” Considering the foregoing, we find no reason to disturb the Board’s finding of an employment relationship

“Dear Mackenzie: There’s One More Donation You Owe to the World” [In These Times]. “Ama­zon needs a union. And I am hap­py to say: Macken­zie Scott, you can help with that. It’s hard to orga­nize a com­pa­ny like Ama­zon, both because it is a larg­er beast than any indi­vid­ual union has resources for, and because it will spend a great deal of mon­ey on lies and intim­i­da­tion to pre­vent its work­ers from exer­cis­ing their fun­da­men­tal right to orga­nize. But mon­ey can help to even the play­ing field. For a small frac­tion of the mon­ey you just gave out — say, $100 mil­lion — it would be pos­si­ble to hire orga­niz­ers nation­wide with the express pur­pose of union­iz­ing Ama­zon.” • Yep!

* * *

“Fairfax school board switches to ‘holistic review’ admissions system for Thomas Jefferson High School” [WaPo]. “The revised admissions process is the most radical change that TJ has seen since its founding in 1985, although school officials have made other adjustments at least eight times over the past decade. Every time, the goal was diversity: TJ has enrolled single-digits percentages of Black and Hispanic students throughout its history. Early in its history, TJ was majority White; in more recent years, it has become majority Asian, with a significant White contingent. (The 2019-2020 student body was 70 percent Asian and 20 percent White.)”The Fairfax County Public Schools board voted Thursday to adopt a ‘holistic review’ for admissions to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a revision meant to boost diversity at the top-tier magnet school and that ends months of fraught and fiery debate…

“WA school district apologizes for excluding Asians as POC” [Northwest Asian Weekly]. “The North Thurston Public Schools excluded Asian American students as people of color in its latest equity report, called ‘Monitoring Student Growth.’ The ‘students of color; included ‘Black, Latinx [sic], Native American, Pacific Islander, and Multi-Racial Students’ and the study measured their ‘persistent opportunity gaps.’ Many Asian Americans were upset and, consequently, the district issued an apology. The school district said the study was to help underperforming groups by ‘eliminating achievement and opportunity gaps.’…’We feel it is important to continue the practice of disaggregating data, so we make equity-based decisions. When we reviewed our disaggregated data, it showed that our district is systemically meeting the instructional needs of both our Asian and white students and not meeting the instructional needs for our Black, Indigenous, Multi-racial, Pacific Islander, and Latinx students. The intent was never to ignore Asian students as ‘students of color.'”

News of the Wired

“7 Magic Phrases That Make You Instantly Likable on Video Calls” [Michael Thompson]. • Not any more.

Economics (1):

I feel so nudged….

Economics (2):

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (JU):

From Three Rivers, CA. Love the autumn haze over the mountains.

Readers, I’m still running a bit low on plants. If you all — and especially readers who have not contributed before! — would kindly send me some more fresh ones, that would be great. Thank you!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. chris

    I can speak to the question of why low risk populations are going to be given the vaccine first. My wife and others who are involved in making vaccines have been trying to explain this for months.

    You give the vaccines to the people who are least at risk first so that you accomplish two things: (1) you expand the pool of people who have had it so any issues with the vaccine that occur in healthy people can be examined and you improve your chances of not exposing less healthy people to the same issues, and (2) the more healthy people who have the vaccine the lower the population is that can get and spread whatever you’re vaccinating against which helps to protect those who can’t get the vaccine.

    It’s a system that is intended to build herd immunity while protecting people who may be at risk from undesirable effects from new vaccines while also shielding those who are immunocompromised and can’t get the vaccine. That’s why it’s a big deal if a large part of the healthy population rebels and won’t get the vaccine.

    1. tegnost

      exactly, why bother with trials, just give it to healthy people and see what happens.If you’re involved in making vaccines then I can see some financial benefit to you, in the short term at least (which of course is the world we consume in) so yeah I can see how you might be concerned that your test subjects may balk.

      1. chris

        I don’t think you understand. There’s no animus here. You’re basically just expanding the challenge groups from the trials after you’ve confirmed it’s OK to do so. If you want to find some kinda nefarious political manipulation, look at Gilead and their roll out of drugs during this time. Look at Remdesivir.

        Expanding a vaccine to the least risky population first is how things usually work. It’s a good sign that we’re not trying to change that too much even during a time of extraordinary need.

          1. chris

            I’m utterly confused by your stance on this. If you treat people with a lot of other problems how do you know if you vaccine works in healthy people or if it just can’t overcome all the problems in someone who’s already sick with other things? You typically don’t plan out trials for things that include dozens of confounding variables at the start. Also, God forbid something does go wrong. Who do you think is better suited to handle that – a younger healthy adult or an older sickly individual?

            1. a different chris

              Not that it will help, but my son a few years ago would have been categorized (in a vacuum) as almost completely “low risk” (the only category that would take him to risk-bottom would be if he were my daughter instead).

              But life isn’t a vacuum, he worked at WPIC, aka “Western Psych”.

              Patients would be dragged in from the street by cops. Said patients would often throw poop at the staff. Spitting on staff was almost de rigueur.

              Which I would think would put his former co-workers “first in line” and deservedly so.

        1. Phillip Cross

          “I don’t think you understand.” seems to be a universally valid response to any tegnost post.

    2. JTMcPhee

      What information do you have that the vaccines in play do anything to “lower the spread” of this disease? Per the comments here at NC and what I have read elsewhere, here is nothing in the scientific record that shows these novel molecules keep even inoculated people from continuing to release active virions into the air and sewage. And as to this herd-immunity thing, it’s hardly clear that inoculating (I won’t say “immunizing, since that does too seem to be proven) jabbing the people least at risk first will do anything in the way of protecting the more vulnerable part of us from the disease? I must be thick, but as things stand, the science on the record, and “policy” as far as I can see, might support the idea that inoculating healthier (read richer, privileged) people first might reduce the number of adverse events from injection of the molecule, giving the healthier a better chance of surviving the adverse event. But “shielding the immune compromised” or people with other health issues? How is that going to work?

      Maybe the mRNA vaccines now approved, under a misapplication of the terms of the EUA provision, and the other ones in the pipeline to approval by a hard-pressed agency demonstrated to have long ago abandoned the precautionary principle, might be a magic bullet to immunity. But as with claims that these will stop the spread of the disease that ignore the lack of proof that they stop transmission by inoculated persons, there is no showing that immunity persists or even that reinfection is mitigated.

      And as noted in the links today, rich people are trying to buy the right to jump the line. One might almost hope that the mRNA “approved” molecules ended up having a whole lot of adverse effects, immediately and down the road, giving the rich and the “preferred” different kind of “preference” and “privilege…”

      Of course it looks like “health care workers” (what about the briefly adored and now ignored “essential workers?”) will be at or near the top of the list, to be the experimental animals in this grand beta trial… So there’s that. I wonder if Gates and Buffett and Zuckerberg and Koch the rest are champing at the bit to get jabbed, or are waiting in their elite spaces to see what happens to the ragged mob.

      1. chris

        The prevention of spread is a qualified “might” right now. We don’t know for sure if either vaccine currently approved under an EUA will or won’t do it. I am more hopeful for Moderna’s vaccine because they made that with the help from NIH and other vaccine research centers as opposed to Pfizer which made a big deal about going it alone. That’s why Moderna checked the limits on its cold chain storage requirements and stability early on and Pfizer didn’t. Moderna learned about that from their work on zika, ebola, and other projects. So they made a product that could be stored and used by the people who needed to use it as opposed to Pfizer which made a product and didn’t understand the environment it would be used in as well.

        I have been reading the stuff on this site for a long time and I am just as aware as anyone of the many failings of our government and our regulatory agencies. I understand people are skeptical and scared. But I think we’re dealing with 3 unique things here and they’re making everyone even more suspicious than they should be:

        1) the mRNA vaccine. This is not new tech but it’s certainly a new use and it’s never been approved for use in humans before. It’s also a bizarre kind of voodoo to listen to how it works. It targets the proteins on the outside of the virus and not the virus itself??? That’s very different from prior approaches. The idea that you have a vaccine against a virus and there’s no virus of any kind in it is not what most people think of when they think of a vaccine.

        2) the speed at which everything came together. This all happened in the blink of an eye compared to past experiences. From identifying what SARA-COV-2 was to having a vaccine with a 95% efficacy that is shipped and being used in less than a year????? That’s insanely fast. It makes sense to be skeptical. But you should also understand that were where we are now because of tremendous advances in biotechnology that weren’t around 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. It’s hard to be on the edge of such a revolution and no doubt that it’s all wrong. It’s also legitimately scary to think about what happens if it all works as intended.

        3.) Operation Warpspeed. This is a brilliant application of the outsider bringing in a completely different perspective and blowing away norms. Throwing billions and billions of dollars to get a host of vaccines to market so that whatever ones were shown to work would already have supplies to distribute was a stroke of genius. I have no doubt that the only reason we even tried this insane approach is because Trump or whoever he was talking to so that he approved the idea wasn’t some cautious technocrat. This is something that only a real estate developer and a grand com artist would try to do. I can’t see Obama or anyone else like a typical politician coming up with something like we’ll pay for 100 vaccines and be OK with throwing away 90 of them as long we can get one to market really fast. That’s the good news. The bad news is when you do things that fast and you also prance about like a clown causing everyone to think everything that comes out of your mouth is a lie it means no one trusts what you’ve produced. Also, when you prioritize speed, you risk all sorts of other problems. You risk the production team getting Go Fever. But the calculated risk here is it’s better to best this thing faster with an OK tool than beat it perfectly later. That may have been the right approach. I don’t think we’ll know until we’re through this.

        I know I am biased coming from a research background and being married to a biotechnology scientist for many years. But know what I know about these programs and seeing what my wife and her colleagues do, I’m going to put my faith behind the people in the area who are fighting this fight. I think they’ll get the data to show this idea works eventually. If the vaccines really do work by preventing the virus from entering any cells because the vaccine trains our bodies to eliminate the spike protein then it’s not too far fetched to think it prevents spread too. But I admit we don’t know that yet.

        1. skippy

          LMMAO …. reads like the whole Microwave oven debacle by Pfizer … one of YS fave fables of profit driven expectations completely at odds with reality, but full steam ahead anyway ….

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            It doesn’t matter. You go to war with the Pharma you have. I don’t know if the government even has the operational capability to set up a Manhattan Project any more.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I can’t see Obama or anyone else like a typical politician coming up with something like we’ll pay for 100 vaccines and be OK with throwing away 90 of them as long we can get one to market really fast.

          I agree that the parallel architecture of Operation Warp Speed was great. But at the point where the drugs emerged from the pipeline things seem to have turned dicey. First, no public preparation at all (except PMC scolding and shaming plus some celebrities). Second, “first past the post” seems pretty weird. Third, the production of public data and peer reviewed studies also should have been seamless, and as we have seen with NEJM, it wasn’t. It’s like a “last mile” issue, except longer than a mile (the “last mile” being the actual injections).

          1. chris

            Yeah. As has been discussed on this site many times, it ain’t easy to “trust the science” or the scientists. They haven’t covered themselves with glory throughout this process. As biased as I am I think another observation that has been made here is proving true – the US really can’t do big things anymore. We don’t have the operational capacity for it.

    3. albrt

      I think the confusion comes from the definition of “risk.” People with the fewest health impairments are low risk in one sense, but healthy people can be at high risk because they work in a covid ward, for example.

      There may be medical and epidemiological reasons for giving the vaccine first to people who are low-risk in the sense of being healthy, but I don’t think that applies to healthy people who are at high occupational risk.

    4. HotFlash

      Chris, let me see if I have this right. If the goal is herd immunity, as opposed to protecting everyone, and given that the vaccine is limited, achievement of herd immunity would be better served if the population most likely to infect others is vaccinated (assuming the durn thing works). Thus, caregivers, who are in daily contact with infected and/or vulnerable people, would be high on the list. The ‘healthy’ population is still more-or-less in circulation in society, therefore much more likely to infect others, so they should get vaccinated. Nursing home residents are not, generally, otherwise in contact with people who may give them the virus, or at least quarantines can be continued for the duration to keep them safe (ideally). If herd immunity is the goal, then that strategy makes sense.

      1. Steve

        You are full of blue mud. Your comments completely negate the reality of nursing and retirement home settings being intensely infected. Stop posting ignorant positions.

        1. Yves Smith

          Your comment is utterly out of line. One more like this and you will be blacklisted.

          Caregivers at nursing homes are one of the biggest potential vectors of the disease.

      2. chris

        Well, let’s step back a minute and think about the one problem we’ve had throughout this entire period where some rules and laws are relaxed and some aren’t. There have been recent cases with authorized use of vaccines skipped the entire process more or less but those were extreme circumstances, like with Ebola. In a case like that, especially a few years back, your choice was almost certain death or this untested drug. It wasn’t a hard choice. But for vaccines intended for general use by the population youre shooting for a higher target.

        In general, my understanding is that vaccines that have been approved through the FDA, unless otherwise tested or approved, are initially approved for healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Once that general population has been exposed to the vaccine post FDA trials and we haven’t found anything specifically to question its efficacy or its side effects, then we can start using it on groups that are less healthy. And then eventually, you’ve covered the whole population. That’s usually a good idea with drugs that are solicitated by the government because in those cases they usually come with a guarantee that you can’t be sued for problems coming from the drug. The covid drugs that are covered under Operation Warpspeed have this exclusion too.

        But now we’re in this really urgent time and we’re trying to prevent people in critical positions from getting sick so that they stay healthy enough to help those who are sick. So we’re trying to map what’s usually done onto what we need to have right now. For example, the healthy exclusion still applies in my home state of Maryland but they’re reserving the initial available doses for specific groups in 3 phases and then the general population in a 4th phase.

        Now on to what you said. Yes, the goal is to protect nursing home residents but they generally aren’t in the population at large. So the emphasis is going to fall more on the side of those who could come in contact with the elderly. You’ll also recall from the articles posted here as well as IM Doc’s description that the population of people in the test group over 65 wasn’t large. So they may not know enough to fully support rolling it to the elderly, yet. So if you go about this by limiting the population that can come into contact and spread it to the least able to survive the exposure you end up helping more people in the end and giving people time to verify that things work before approving it for using on riskier populations.

        This all comes from listening to my wife and her colleagues as they work on different vaccine programs for the government. its also consisten with the philosophy behind regulations in the CFR for safety and industrial hygiene (which I know more about).

    5. chris

      Here’s a reference article explaining the different phases of the process for testing and approving vaccines in the US. Again, in the description for phase I, is the same kind of logic I referred to:

      If the vaccine is intended for children, researchers will first test adults, and then gradually step down the age of the test subjects until they reach their target.

    6. chris

      Here’s an article from CNN about the Moderna trials from last July. They explain that they’re specifically looking for people who will be out in the world and potentially exposed to COVID. It also says they were targeting 40% of their test group to have relevant health problems compared to the general population like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc. But that they couldn’t guarantee that would happen. So they likely got 60% or more trial participants who were generally healthy for testing purposes.

      The thinking behind the study design was similar in some respects to a challenge study but because COVID was so prevalent in the US they didn’t need to inject anyone with it like they would have done in a real challenge study.

  2. zagonostra

    >2020 Presidential election meddling

    So a couple of days ago the “Internal” review came out on what happened in the Iowa Caucuses and it garnered a small blip in that day’s news’s headlines. If you go to Google and search it now, it appears way down on the search results. After 4 years of non-stop false allegations on the Russians interfering in the elections we now have proof that the DNC meddled in the 2020 elections. Two election Presidential election cycles where there is evidence of manipulating the all sacred vote, and that’s it for news on this?

    Even Jacobin seems to not really give damn beyond the perfunctory coverage. The state:

    While it may not answer every question, the report certainly offers a plausible account of what happened and why, with the Shadow app predictably playing a leading role.

    So, was incompetence or malice at the root of the Iowa caucuses debacle? Based on the information contained within the audit, the disaster of February 3, 2020 looks like a fairly textbook case of internal Democratic Party morass, with a dollop of garden-variety ineptitude mixed in.

    That’s it, “plausible account” and the conclusion that it was “ineptitude?” Who is Jacobin covering for. I don’t
    buy it. I think malice and fore thought, collusion and lies are the heart of what happened in 2016 and 2020.

    This country has lost all sense of proportionality and sense of outrage at what was perpetrated. You have a political elite that has inserted their candidate under the guise of the “will of the people” and it gets a day or two in the news.

    Man are people ever so jaded with corruption, it’s now become the norm with scant a peep out of those who were robbed. Where are the legions of Bernie Supports? I know, save the indignation, this too shall pass…


      1. zagonostra

        It looks like there was one NC link/story and not many comments, so I probably missed it. I was also thinking not so much of NC in my jeremiad as the MSM; NC is exceptional and not the norm when it comes to providing useful news.

        I don’t know what I was expecting.

        1. Hepativore

          The real question is does this have any implications for Nina Turner’s campaign in Ohio? She was on Sanders’ campaign team and Turner has a reputation for being even more outspoken than Sanders did. While Turner is off to a phenomenonal start, does this mean that we can expect the same degree of DNC meddling in senatorial and Congressional elections now that the precedent has been set with Sanders?

          In the eyes of the elite, Turner probably has the Mark of Sanders and I am sure that we can expect the DNC to try and intervene.

          1. Grateful Dude

            wasn’t the primary against AOC DNC meddling? And prohibiting primaries against Blue Dog type incumbents, and banishing the Progressive Caucus’ consultants from party patronage?

            Nothing new. Not lately anyway.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Try using DuckDuckGo or something else besides Google for your search engine default. I tossed Google fo DDG years ago. Probably I just don’t know what crapification exists in DDG, given that anything decent involving a lot of people always seems to get crapified, but it works for me at present.

      1. albrt

        I use DuckDuckGo most of the time because I believe it doesn’t track me (as much). Unfortunately DuckDuckGo does not produce very good results – they are in line with the crappy results Google now produces, mostly aimed at selling you stuff and not useful for research beyond a Wikipedia entry or two.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          DuckDuckGo uses Bing’s index plus material gathered by its own crawlers. So its index isn’t nearly as good as Google’s. On the other hand, Google’s search results are so crapified its not clear any more what good its massive index is. I constantly have the problem of not being able to find stuff I know I have written. That use case once worked very well, so I didn’t have to use WP’s horrid internal search; now it doesn’t work as well.

          So, Silicon Valley, you crapified search, good job

    2. Temporarily Sane

      The DSA and associated media outfits like Jacobin and TYT essentially serve as sheep herders leading left-leaning folk directly into the poison embrace of the Democratic Party.

      Jacobin joining the outrage over Jimmy Dore walking the walk and trying to push “progressives” left is a case in point. I stopped taking Jacobin seriously after their weaselly endorsement of Biden and Ana Kasparian’s fawning interview of Madeline “It’s Worth It” Albright. Would not be surprised at all if they get CIA money.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m not sure anybody’s coming out of that dust-up looking real good, except possibly Katie Halper. I do think that if AOC confused Dore’s audience with her constituents, she made a mistake. Her responsibility is to the latter, not the former.

  3. DJG

    Norwegian? Is Mayor Pete living at your house now, preparing to ride the triumphal chariot to his new consulting job in the Department of Transportation?

    Or, and is it possible, is the current Plague of Hacks coming from Norway? Have the Hakkers started demanding ransoms paid in lefse?

    1. Mark Gisleson

      The new Interior Secretary is half Norwegian (like me but her dad was actually from Norway). She also appears to have been a Liz Warren supporter earlier this year, and a Hillary supporter in 2016.

      I’ll be pleasantly surprised if anything good comes out of this appointment. Biden’s folks appear to trust her and that’s not good.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Norwegian? It could have been worse with your VPN. It could have been set for Swedish and when you tried to reset it, discovered that your software had reached a consensus and it was agreed that you must live in Sweden after all and stopped you changing it.

  4. Caleb

    Liberals stopped discussing ICE the second that Joe Biden won the presidency

    Don’t think we haven’t noticed

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I thought liberals stopped discussing ICE the second they started to share Trump’s crimes from 2014.

      Liberals are still MIA on gun control too. Matt Stoller has called American liberalism (I am adding the modern American qualifier) a lifestyle brand.

        1. ambrit

          I say use it to “brand” a credit card.
          “Get your American Liberal Credit Card and get this bright Red and Blue tote! Let everyone know you’re on the “Right Side of History!”
          * Terms and restrictions apply.

      1. Massinissa

        I mean, to be fair, the word ‘Liberalism’ in America has a completely different context compared to how its used in Europe. Liberalism in europe is basically what we call Classical Liberalism over here, I.E. in Europe a Liberal is what over here we would call a Libertarian.

        (For that matter, in Europe the word Libertarian refers to a specific type of left wing individualist anarchist. Basically, American ‘Football’ is different from the Football (‘Soccer’) everyone else uses. Sigh… American Exceptionalism apparently applies to vocabulary.)

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Once upon a time “liberals” weren’t godawful in the US and though not perfect weren’t primarily invested in brunch and what their “faves” thought of Hamilton, the play not the man, they barely know who he is.

          Not everyone else uses “football” for soccer. There are several other countries including Japan and South Africa that use soccer. The term “soccer” came from England. I believe Orthodox countries largely use their own word. Free yourself of the tyranny of FIFA!

          As far as the use of “liberal” across continents, I think the US has been a functional political unit long enough to not have to adhere to European eccentricities over words. The French have had five Republics in all this time.

          1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

            Counting Republics:

            As Basil Fawlty famously said: “Don’t mention the War” – but In this context, I won’t mention the Civil War which reverberates down the centuries (what is the name of your local army base?).

            And also in this context I refer to the ever welcome Madison quote near the top – in conjunction with my favourite from Thailand: Same, same, but different.


  5. Milton

    His clients, who include Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, pay between $2,000 and $10,000 a year for personalized care.
    Holy crap! So concierge service is less expensive than ACA Bronze options? I think a zero, or two, is missing from those dollar amounts.

    1. IM Doc

      No, that is about right.

      That covers only the services of the PCP. It is not lab, x-rays, surgery or anything else.

      Anything else – hospital, rehab center, specialists, ER – is untouched by the concierge service – it is all on the patient.

      It is the most absurd model ever. The specialists HATE it because the PCP concierge docs call them and demand special care because of their own payment model. The PCPs are under extreme demand to produce rapid service. This can be very irritating to the specialists who are not in on the deal.

      The patient is in effect paying the PCP fee to have expedited consults and referral visits. At the expense of everyone else.

      When the PCP converts to this model, their patient cohort goes from 1800 or so down to 300. The other 1500 get sent to the winds and picked up by other PCPs who are already overburdened.

      I have known many colleagues who have regretted changing to this model very quickly. Rich people are often very boring on top of malignant personalities. Your 300 patients have your cell phone – and begin to call and ask if it is OK to put avocados in their soup. Yes – that is a true story.

      It is all so tragic. And all so America.

      1. albrt

        Thanks for this.

        Maybe I will start a business referring non-malignant personalities to primary care doctors for a concierge-lite practice. But I doubt I could find 300 non-malignant personalities within an hour driving distance.

    2. D. Fuller

      That’s probably the retainer fee for instant access. After that, care adds additional costs onto the bill, when needed.

      The doctor is a fixer, for the most part. A practicing medical consultant of the PMC. If you have a problem and he can’t do it? He’ll find someone to fix your problem. Usually, a friend. The Mafia works like this.

    3. Nealser

      I had a decent primary care physician (pcp) for 5 years. He fired me as a patient when he converted his practice to a VIP (sic) concierge service and I declined to pay the extra fees on top of the already high Blue Cross insurance premiums. These programs have greatly reduced the number of pcp available…and I live in a major metropolis

    4. Socal Rhino

      The charge is in addition to other costs, if it’s like the concierge plan pitched to me. Premise was that a stable stream of additional income allows the physician to maintain a smaller practice profitably. I don’t know if that ever came to fruition; I left that guy over other behaviors that struct me as rampant greed.

    5. Yves Smith

      The concierge service here in Mountain Brook is $3000 a year. And the MDs in that practice appear to like it and be doing well.

      Hate to say it, but it is very attractive here to elderly people. The one here has 75% seniors in its practice. I had a rant in a post about Medicare about how it is close to impossible here, if you are on Medicare, to get a nurse to come out to do a blood draw, since it is not a covered service under Medicare and anyone who takes Medicare won’t take a cash pay for a non-covered service even though that is OK under Medicare. Being able to get a nurse to come to your home when you need one and not have to go through hoops is very valuable.

      The big problem I hear from MDs is the reverse, that anyone in a concierge practice is almost by definition not as good a doctor by virtue of taking themselves out of the flow of the sort of cases they’d see in a more traditional practice. Even if they were when they started, they become stale.

    6. Ohnoyoucantdothat

      Used this guy for my PCR test in September. Only service that promised 24 hour turn around (actually 12 hours). Flew from Albuquerque to LA and stayed near LAX for 2 nights just for him. Costly but got result I needed. “Clinic” was tent in parking lot of closed restaurant. No traditional testing services would give me assurances they could meet timeframe. And no timely test, no entry at Moscow.

  6. Dalepues

    Save $0.00 Each.

    Free Parking. Five dollars.

    True story. Years ago when the Atlanta Braves played baseball at the Fulton County Stadium, there was a large sign on Glenwood Ave (about four blocks from the stadium) that read Free Parking in big bold letters. Below those letters, in the lower left hand corner, in much smaller letters, the sign also read $5.00. From I-20 you could see the Free Parking, but not the $5.00. Cars would exit off the Boulevard ramp and turn onto Glenwood for the free parking lot. A long line always formed. Once the cars got to the lot and could see the complete sign, five dollars and all, they were confused, sometimes a little angry. The conversation with the attendant collecting the five dollars generally went something like this:
    “Five dollars to park, sir”.
    “But the sign says free parking.”
    “The sign says five dollars, too. Five dollars, please.”
    “I don’t get this. The sign says Free Parking.”
    “Sir, do you want to park here or not?”
    “Here, take the damn five dollars. I’m going to report this shit.”
    “Thank you, sir.”

    1. farragut

      I recall, years ago, my eldest (aged 7 or 8 at the time) came to me with an advert from the local paper about some shiny, bouncy remote-controlled toy he wanted for Christmas. “And, LOOK, Dad–it says buy one get a second one for FREEEE!”
      I quietly pointed to the fine print mentioning the “Pay only shipping/handling” for the second ‘free’ item (which coincidentally was the same cost as the initial item). He puzzled at it for a sec, then let out a big “Ohhhhh, that’s sneaky!”
      I may have shed a tear of pride. My boy.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      When I went to Fenway Park as a kid, there was a line of sausage vendors outside the park and I paid $2 or $3 for one on my first trip. Going back a few years later, the price had gone up and I was then a smart mouthed teenager too dumb to realize that all the vendors charged the same price. One guy who looked like Mel from the old sitcom Alice but with a thick Boston accent overheard my complaint that I wasn’t paying $4 for a sausage and he looked at me and said “That’s right four dollars, but for you….four dollars”. Every trip I made to Fenway for years after that, I always made sure to find that same guy for my pregame weiner.

  7. Toshiro_Mifune

    “Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password ‘solarwinds123′”
    So then…. clearly the Russians.

    1. Janie

      About 1980 we converted from a manual system to a computer. The hardware went in, followed by software cor training, then parallel, then directories were transferred to the live system. We kept the training system for new hires. I hired a bright but inexperienced young man who buddied up with the only other young man in data entry. The days in, the experienced man came to me for help with inexplicable, random problems. Turns out, the regional IT head honcho, who had every function enabled for himself, had kept his same password on the live system that he had used in training. New hire used his breaks to explore, found the password and tried it on the live system. It worked! So, he was messing with his friend. I thought, “Good hire- he’s going places”. And he did.

      Just shows how the head honchos can foul up. For computer folks, I’ll add that he’s the same guy who once removed the physical disk packwithout logically dismounting it, ie writing the constantly changing active current bit map onto the drive. Cost about two days of rekeying. It being a big corp, he was promoted to national hq.

  8. IMOR

    Re: Dronziga/Judge Preska 500 days.
    She”s a senior judge. She”s sitting by assignment. The chief judge of that circuit can reassign the case and give her something else to do, or simply decline to renew her assignment, at any time. And any case turning into a multiyear grudge match is plenty grounds.

  9. Robert S.

    Re: Economics (1)

    Is that what that is? Nudging? I’ve been seeing that and similar strategies in a few places now. In Walmart 4 years ago, on a ceiling fan. Marked, ‘On Sale’, down to $69 from $69.97. I was so incredulous I took a photo and still have it.

    Amazon is lousy with this stuff. When you search for, I don’t know, Dr. Who brand jelly babies, you’ll get that but also completely unrelated products in your search results, like shoe polish and borax. I just chalked it up to stupidity and rotten algos making me annoyed but clearly I’ve been way too naïve and gullible.

    1. Massinissa

      I mean, when I was in Middle School (Mid 200s?) one of my teachers told a story about when she was in a store and saw the dress that she wanted a month before and saw a ‘SALE’ sign on it. She checked the price and realized they had raised the price, put it on sale, and it was MORE expensive than when she saw the dress previously. This kind of chicanery has probably been around for awhile, but its probably getting progressively more common and normalized now.

        1. RMO

          There was a customer of the paint business my family used to run who was constantly complaining that we didn’t give him as big a discount as the large chain supplier in the area. No matter how often we would point out that with his 15% discount at our shop he was paying less than he would with his 20% discount with the other guys because we had lower prices to begin with he wouldn’t let it go. He would even complain about it to our delivery drivers when they took him his paint. This guy didn’t buy much and we even considered just dropping him. In the end we altered the invoicing system so that just for his account the retail price was jacked up by about 15% across the board and then changed his discount to 20% He was happy after that, even though he was paying more money than before.

    1. edmondo

      Well, at least we know that piggish and entitled behavior is not a side effect of the vaccine. They were pre-existing conditions — PMC much?

    2. The Rev Kev

      I only got the very tail end of the clip but Pence just got his jab on TV along with Pence’s wife Karen and Surgeon General Jerome Adams. But as Mrs Rev Kev noted, one of those jabs was not like the other. Typically you put the needle in and push the plunger slowly home but with Pence, it was a literal jab, quick push and done. See it on the following film clip-


  10. Toshiro_Mifune

    7 Magic Phrases That Make You Instantly Likable on Video Calls

    One have have discovered is “Pardon my cat”. Cats in backgrounds or foregrounds of video calls instantly derail any meeting for several minutes.

  11. IMOR

    Covid Cali.
    While reading Water Cooler in my parked car (out of house for new owners to take possn), just got an Urgent! Statewide! Alert! on my phone.
    I thought, “Fire?? Major SoCal quake?! Insurrection?”- but I want to pass along the urgent news to our commentariat: Covid19 is spreading rapidly, and all CA counties are under a stay at home order! You’re welcome.
    FFS, so much performative BS. An added burden on all.

      1. IMOR

        Sorry, my point was that they sent an alert about a well in own situation with no new action taken or recc’d. Counties had all already been under the same orders with small diffs among for several days prior to the ALERT! ALERT!
        I need those to be news.

  12. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Does anyone really expect the likes of McConnell and Pelosi, two of the most dishonest and machiavellian schemers and careerist hacks I’ve ever witnessed, to come up with an honest attempt to help folks truly in need?

    So at the 11th hour it looks like it is all falling apart – the lies about an agreement being “imminent,” the blather about staying in DC until they pass something are slowly dawning on us. There is no bill or even a strategy other than lie to the press and kick the can. A CR keeping things afloat until Biden takes over looks more likely.

    They’re the worst of the worst.

    1. D. Fuller

      The 11th hour scam… the hand wringing, the wails, the pleas and cries. Then either a deal (with all sorts of goodies for their donor constituents, or not). If neither likes it, they play the blame game. If both like it, there are all sorts of goodies for their donor base.

      Nancy said something curious when she “caved” on the amount of aid, dropping from $3.8T to refusing a Republican offer of $1.8T to now, $998 billion – using an already existing CARES Act funds leftover. She said – relating to smaller amounts – that it was different now that Biden was President and that we have a vaccine.

      Used to justify her pursuit of austerity. If Trump would have remained President? She would have continued to grandstand before the cameras. Until it came time to “cave”. While she pointed fingers at Mitch and Mitch pointed fingers at her – all part of the circus.

      Both parties have their respective “base” fooled. Both parties serve their donor factions – with lots of crossover between factions; Goldman Sachs being the most notorious faction to play both sides.

    2. Screwball

      Twitter is ablaze with people asking and demanding help. It’s sad to see.

      On another note, I have filed income taxes for years via the online route. I collect SS. All received money goes to direct deposit (so they know who I am). I never received the first $1200. The IRS website tells me they don’t know why I didn’t get it. All the help stuff tells me I am eligible but they don’t know where my money is either.

      I’m glad I don’t need it, but I would like to have it, and it would be even better if I could figure out what to do about it. Their help is no help.

      Anyone else run into this?

  13. D. Fuller


    When I download a package for a Linux system, it usually comes with a PGP signature checksum that I can use to authenticate the package as being an original package. Any change introduced, for instance, the replacement of a package by a malicious package. Becomes instantly obvious.

    By distributing the checksum widely, any change of the checksum at the source, can be verified across multiple sites. The questions are: What type of authentication for the file was being used – both on the server- and client-sides? Were redundant checks being used or was any check simply sole-source from a server.

    Authenticating a checksum across multiple sites is not perfect. It can help. Key repositories should be used. Any hacker would have to change all checksum stored on multiple sites to avoid detection of their modified files. Maybe Solarwinds should look into it if they are not using such a system yet.

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      Shhhhhhhhhh…. Don’t talk about the security benefits of Linux! I do not want a crowd of people to start suing it and then becoming a bigger target for hackers.

      1. D. Fuller


        Now if only Linux would accept a limited commercial license that allowed devs to be paid a nominal fee.

        Still waiting for the takeover of the desktop. Oh, wait…. it is too fractured.

        Linux is great for running the Internet, databases, security? As for user features? Hasn’t been there yet for its entire existence. I still enjoy it though. Technically inclined users have no problem. The (l)user masses? It’s too hard for most. And that is the problem that will always sink Linux in Userland.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          I wish they would all just contributed on one distro, like Debian. These people who want cutting edge and all the glitter frustrate me. Debian 10 is so solid and I never have a problem. Using an SSD on a 7 year old Thinkpad I can brig up my browser and a webpage faster that a new Airbook.

          Ubuntu is fine but went full stpid with SNAP packages. But you are right, still too hard for most users and forget about trying to use it to mesh with an Apple phone.

          I disagree about the commercial license and I favor keeping it as anarchistic as possible. It is the only thing that has saved it from complete crapification.

        2. Glen

          Most of the big time devs work for the companies that use Linux as part of their business like Red Hat, IBM, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. Here’s the big users:


          And yes, Microsoft now contributes kernel code, and Windows 10 can have Linux in it: (Personally, I run Windows and MacOS in VMs in Linux instead of the other way around.)

          WSL 2 Setup and Config | Windows Subsystem for Linux 2

          There are wild rumors that Microsoft may completely dump their kernel and just use Linux under the hood at some point.

          The super devs like kernel maintainers work for the Linux Foundation.

          The distributions do tend to have a core team, and then package maintainers, and these do tend to be mostly volunteers, but there are some distributions that have both non-free and free versions. This is mostly to keep the corporate managers happy with a support phone number to call.

          I’m currently using ArchLinux, a rolling release, and was exchanging emails with the USB subsystem maintainer about problems I was having. He sent a patch for me to try, it worked, and it’s now incorporated into the kernel. I think the first time I worked with a Linux developer was about 1998 or so.

          As to security, Edward Snowden recommended a couple of releases so I think the cat is way out of the bag that it can be a very secure OS. I always got a kick out of this:

          Linus Torvalds – Backdoor In Linux

    2. apleb

      The DLL with the malicious code was digitally signed with the proper company signature, just like any linux repository package would. For anyone looking it was an “original” package/DLL.

      Windows DLLs are usually digitally signed. Every one of them.

      The main updateserver of the company was compromised. The buildserver maybe too otherwise hard to sign the resulting binary correctly. There is no way any of the mirrors can do anything if your Linux distro’s main server is broken.

  14. ambrit

    Re. postal police.
    Hmmm….. This could be an offshoot of the Post 9/11 Panic.
    When I worked for the USPS, back before 9/11, the Postal Inspectors were a shadowy menace, hidden in the bushes to catch unscrupulous mail carriers. They also had their own, dedicated and enclosed observation corridors, running up at ceiling height in the larger facilities. They never told anyone when and where they would be spending the day “observing.” On the street, they used plain, unmarked vehicles. Their entire method was secrecy. The observation corridors even had their own outside entrances, well hidden too, that even the Postmaster of the facility did not have the keys to.
    The above system seems to have worked well for decades. Why the Postal Inspectors would have wanted to be obvious in their presence is a mystery. Now, if Postal Police are a separate entity from the Postal Inspectors, things would make more sense. Then the whingeing would be a plain old turf building exercise.
    Things could have changed, but I do not remember ever hearing of a Postal Police back then, or now. Any information from a present day denizen of the USPS would be appreciated.

    1. Carolinian

      I feel fortunate to have an older house with a mail slot that leads inside the house. Supposedly all new homes–including fancy ones–are required to use cluster boxes or an old fashioned mailbox on the street.

      1. ambrit

        We live in an inner ring suburb in a not too large city. The entire city uses streetside mailboxes, and has for years I’m told by the old timers. Our house, built in the 1940’s, still has a small mail holder on the wall outside next to the front door.
        Stay safe!

    2. Swamp Yankee

      There is a Seinfeld episode where, IIRC, Newman, Kramer, and Jerry run afoul of the USPS Inspectors/Police, and (Spoiler alert) Newman is interrogated, Dirty War style, by the Postmaster General, played by a convincing Wilford Brimley. Pre-9/11, too.

    3. fajensen

      Possibly a requirement for having a SWAT team?

      Just About every organisation in the USA has one and the post office wants the same too?

  15. Dr. John Carpenter

    RE mail theft: I’ve never seen postal police but we could use some in my neighborhood. This morning I discovered Christmas cards in my mailbox that were opened and now addressed to me. Jjudging by the return addresses, and that the stakes weren’t canceled, someone a block away was trying to send them, im assuming. I’m guessing someone else stole them out of their mailbox, opened them and checked for cash and then stuck in my mailbox, for some reason. They even had the cheek to put the flag up, which was why I checked the box in the first place. I guess it’s that time of year.

    1. D. Fuller

      That’s okay. A “neighbor” from two blocks away delivered our mail one day, last week. All unopened. The substitute mail carrier fell down on the job. Not the first time either. That all started happening in the last few months. Before that, since there are actually two houses with the same number and street address on the same lot – one labeled “back”, the other “front” – occasionally the substitute carrier would mix up the mail. Now? 2 BLOCKS of a mixup.

      My screen is showing my reply to Dr. John Carpenter as not being a reply. This is a 2nd attempt.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’ve never seen the postal police. I was aware of them, but I thought they were primarily investigators and dealt with issues that might arise inside shipping areas.

      There was a mail sorting center near my parents with the last pick up at like Friday 630pm which worked out great for the perpetually late, so I always hit that post office. It was a big operation, and I never saw anything that said “Police” besides actual local cops who were “on patrol” in dream land or something. Not that I was there often, but the DMV and so forth were all there.

        1. ambrit

          If we are being franked about it, the Congressional Oversight Committee should hold their sessions in the overhead ‘observation’ corridors of Congress.

  16. Terry Flynn

    I really don’t get why so many economists are keen to either defend ergodicity or tweak theories to accommodate violations. First, see Ben-Akiva & Lerman book (1985) for more “user friendly” account of why averages of discrete outcomes DO NOT improve the average and can do the reverse – hint, go read what heteroscedasticity on the latent scale does to probit/logit models….. If you think it “just messes with standard errors” you fail stats 101.

    Second, even McFadden in his “Nobel” lecture pretty much acknowledged that the math psych people had the conceptualisation of the statistical error term right by acknowledging them at all – real people aren’t consistent outside highly specific/emotional contexts like abortion rights etc. 40+ years of research since have merely confirmed this.

    These people need to move on. New paradigm please. This is the stated preference equivalent of MMT.

  17. Krystyn Podgajski

    Dear Yves, Lambert, Jerry-Lynn, et all,

    It is frustrating to see so many Twitter links on here and I feel I have been seeing more and more lately. Twitter is pretty much Facebook Lite and while there are some clever bits posted on Twitter, it is so easy for their AI to grab our attention and promote the worst of us. I would rather read a full length article than read the most times useless replies one a twitter comment.

    I have no solutions other than suggesting screen grabs maybe?

    I have Twitter blocked in my hosts file to prevent myself from going down that attention sucking rabbot (not a typo) hole.

    1. Yves Smith

      I’m sorry but Twitter is not Facebook, not remotely. And you are seriously misinformed as to how it works. Twitter can’t reach through our pages to see what users view it any more than a site whose cross posts we use can see who reads them her. Among other thing, that sort of thing would massively tax Cloudflare and they would block it even if someone were to attempt to develop that capability.

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        I did not mean to imply that they were like Facebook that I feared them getting my information, more that they are trying to steal my attention.

        Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  18. zagonostra

    >Democratic Leaders Block AOC From Key Committee Spot

    David Doel covers this nicely on TheRationalNational though he fails to link this with withholding Speakership vote for Pelosi until she brings M4A up for a vote.

    But in a surprise, last-second Steering Committee meeting on exclusive committee assignments Thursday, which was scheduled at 10 p.m. the night before, centrist Democrats put on a show of support for Rice and against AOC, in what looks to have been a process-defying attempt to keep AOC out of the seat. Fellow New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries came out in support of Rice, contra Nadler, as did Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL).


    1. Geo

      Thanks for the Doel link! Will check it out.

      This is the real story of power plays within the party that so many seem to ignore. There’s a rightwing takeover of the party happening (not Clinton/Obama-right but ultra-right) and the handful of actual progressives are getting crushed while a portion of the progressive base has turned on them over this M4A symbolic vote thing. We act like they are all powerful and aren’t doing their jobs we elected them to do when in reality it appears they are being stomped on at every turn by the establishment and are barely allowed to exist.

      Already see sparks of outrage over Cory Bush doing an event with Clyburn. We might as well turn on her too even before she’s stepped foot in congress because we can’t allow any of them to, you know, do politics, while in political office. They’re only allowed to throw Molotov cocktails and anything less than that is capitulation. Seriously, many on the left have turned on Bernie, AOC, Omar, and now Bush, all because they haven’t changed a system rigged against them and hostile to the things they want to do.

      I don’t have any answers but I feel like holding their “feet to the fire” isn’t effective when they’re already facing an all out assault by the establishment. Otherwise we’re acting like Donald Rumsfeld when he said “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Again, I don’t have any answers but forcing them into battles they can’t win seems to be counterproductive considering this recent news.

      1. ambrit

        I was under the impression that the ‘pragmatic’ purpose of the “hold the vote” campaign was to ‘out’ the closet conservatives in the Democrat Party. If so, this move has already done some of that.
        As to the ultras trying a take over of the Democrat party, it is but the logical continuation of the 1990’s DLC/Third Way program, instituted by, you guessed it, Bill Clinton and Company.
        I’ll contend that, as in the 1960’s, when the Civil Rights Movement had the Black Panthers and other radical Black groups as “muscle” “waiting in the wings,” today’s progressives need the credible threat of a revolutionary movement really “burning down the house” to back up their demands.
        I make the above comments in the belief that, at present, the “Obama Night of the Long Lives,” has shown that ‘playing nice’ will get us absolutely nothing substantive from the Powers That Be, (used in an un-ironic sense.) So, before making credible threats, one needs to know whom to threaten. A scattergun approach to “hardball politics” could do more harm than good in that it would alienate otherwise friendly, or at least neutral politicos.
        And by the way, I must salute you for daring to do the hard work of retail politics in your area. It’s not something anyone could just pick up in an afternoon. It takes work, and faith. Take the musings of an old cynic such as myself with a big handful of Pink Himalayan salt. (I find it more than a bit amusing that anyone could consider my ideology, such as it is, as True Left. That said, that fact alone shows just how far Right American politics in general have become.)
        Stay safe and be vigilant!

      2. Aumua

        Yes, and not to mention the full on assaults from the official and far right, which are ongoing and quite vicious of course. So far I’ve not really been able to put into words exactly what I think is wrong with Jimmy Dore’s approach on the M4A/Pelosi thing. I’m still forming an opinion about it I guess. He’s always been right about a lot of things, but also he’s really risking nothing himself here but demanding that others risk everything. And in some sense he and his little fan club are doing the right’s dirty work for them in smearing the Democratic left-wing, such as it is.

        1. witters

          ‘… he’s really risking nothing himself here but demanding that others risk everything.’

          What is this ‘everything’?

  19. Chauncey Gardiner

    A hoot on the link to the photo you posted today under “Dept of Feline Felicity” on the passage from this earthly life of “Successful People” vs. “Unsuccessful People” vs. “People who love Cats”. Thanks!

  20. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re “WA school district apologizes for excluding Asians as POC”, we will have realized MLK’s dream of a society based on the content of our character when there is no longer a need to publicly address exceptions, inclusion or exclusion of any group from equitable treatment.

    1. JBird4049

      Funny isn’t? Somehow equality of opportunity and respect for one’s character has been transmogrified equality of outcome based on the color of their skin. Somehow we must be judged by our ancestry rather than by ourselves.

      What would Martin Luther King Jt. and Malcolm X be labeled if they had died today after doing what they had done then today? (I hope somebody understands the previous sentence.) With one dying after starting a fight for the poor and the other for peace? Racist? Terrorists? Communists? Class reductionist?

  21. Grant

    The left better start to really focus on the insights from MMT. I don’t see how the left can seriously take part in the class war on behalf of working people unless the types of stupid arguments Johnson gives are frontally challenged at the root level. If you bring those insights into the discussion, it would be much harder for ghouls like Johnson to make these types of arguments.


    1. Geo

      True but easier said then done. There’s so much illiteracy about our economic system by a society that’s been propagandized by confusing myths and fables conceived by Wall Street evangelists it’s hard to explain reality to most.

      Heck, I had to explain to someone (in their 70’s) recently that our currency is not finite and isn’t still backed by gold. Trying to explain MMT to people really freaks them out. “Money isn’t real? It’s all fabricated on faith by the Fed?” Plus, once they grasp MMT they might start to doubt the benevolent omnipotence of the invisible hand of the free market! Can’t allow that, can we? :)

      Plus, the name is a hard sell. “Modern” and “theory” make it sound like a newfangled whim instead of a functional form of economic practice.

      1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

        re: Modern Monetary…

        I bang on that describing the Modern Monetary Method should be promulgated. Method, Method, METHOD!

        But being a pragmatist I realize that such a change is just as likely as all elected politicians being willing and/or able to give a plain-language explanation of the consequences of fiat money.


        ps F almost looks like a P, so I would go with “Practice” happily.

  22. Mikel

    RE:“The wealthy scramble for COVID-19 vaccines: ‘If I donate $25,000 … would that help me?’” [Los Angeles Times].

    Such things are hardly ever publicized and now they are making it known everywhere? Like clockwork. These claims don’t pass the smell test either.

    (While I’m sure the wealthy DO pay to jump in line for a number of things).

    1. Massinissa

      I’m not sure I agree. They’re talking about LA in particular, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the rich there are scared shitless and panicking. Though I suppose you could be right, and if anything probably have a better chance of being right than I do. I’m not sure there’s enough evidence to really say at this point, but who knows. I think its times of crisis when things become most obvious about how a society really functions.

      1. Mikel

        Well, yes, I should also consider these may be people who need to be in the limelight / surrounded by others for their trade.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      I made an unladylike noise when I read the details in this piece. Odds are successful line jumpers pay far more than a meager $25k to access the vaccine ahead of the common folk. And as you say, their machinations are not publicized and won’t be any time soon. If ever.

      The real reason we’re able to read an article on this topic is that it’s safely revealing the pitiful efforts of the not really rich, and not particularly powerful. The LA Times is not uncovering the nefarious ways of the hyper-elite in this piece; it’s artfully sneering at 87%er types who idiotically think they have a shot at something that is far, far beyond their grubby touch.

      1. ambrit

        Case in point being our political elites. How much of Trump’s treatment was performative and how much plain old self preserving.

      2. Daryl

        25k? Not even enough to get a park bench named after you, let alone a building or a wing of the hospital. Next…

      3. fajensen

        I always believed that rich people basically allows public healthcare to exist because they want to have the very best doctors and the most advanced treatments for themselves.

        They understand numbers: Without enough people “in the pipeline” there’s not enough statistics to find what the best treatments are and doctors working only on a few rich folks will not be trained to peak performance.

        Thus, these must be dumb money.

        The smart money gives it 6-18 months and then pick what vaccines they want.

  23. Swamp Yankee

    Re: Yglesias, as I said last night or the night before in comments: my theory of the case is that he’s once more trimming his sails to catch the change in prevailing winds. I’ve never met Yglesias, but I feel that I somehow know him because — though he is from wealth and I am a child of working people — we went to the same type of college at the same time, I’ve been reading him since we were both undergrads in the early 2000s, and he is a relatively shallow and pedestrian writer and individual and is relatively easy to explain once you realize that his goal is to be a kind of Millennial David Broder/Thomas Friedman, his finger constantly in the wind.

    Thus his evolution from pro-Iraq War liberal to anti-Iraq War liberal to economics blogger who doesn’t know anything about it to Obama apologist to now, his most recent avatar as the “respectable” wing of the DSA dem-soc left. (A similar dynamic explains the evolution of Oren Cass, whom I did know, well, and who was and is an enemy of mine, from a raging Neocon to a Romneyite policy guy to his new personality as a kind of Christian Democrat for the 21st c. USA).

    Also, FDR may have made an alliance with terrible segregationist Dixiecrats, but his own civil rights record was far from terrible; there’s a reason Black voters — many of them by now in Northern cities due to the Great Migration — begin the process of realigning to the Democratic Party during his Presidency after 70+ years of voting, where and when they could, for the GOP. He orders an end to segregation in war industries after A. Philip Randolph, head of the Pullman Car Porters’ Union (modern equivalent would probably be flight attendants) threatens a March on Washington in 1940 if he does not.

    Eleanor is even better, speaking against lynching and inviting Marian Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused her their venue (Mrs. Roosevelt was a DAR member).

    But again, here is Trust Fund Matty shifting with the winds, hedging his bets — material benefits is a sop to the Sandersite left, while the idea that FDR had a terrible civil rights record and was a racist is an a priori Truth (despite, you know, the facts — incorrigible we historians are!) for the Wokeista liberals. So he’s engaging in his usual balancing act here, is my read.

    1. John Wright

      But one can wonder if Yglesias will attempt to bury his recent book “One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger”?

      With Climate change advancing, a poor job market, and poor medical care for much of the current American population, Yglesias must be a true believer that “labor creates its own demand” and adding even MORE humans will find a solution to climate change.

      The Amazon entry has:

      “What would actually make America great: more people.”

      “If the most challenging crisis in living memory has shown us anything, it’s that America has lost the will and the means to lead. We can’t compete with the huge population clusters of the global marketplace by keeping our population static or letting it diminish, or with our crumbling transit and unaffordable housing. The winner in the future world is going to have more—more ideas, more ambition, more utilization of resources, more people. ”

      “Exactly how many Americans do we need to win? According to Matthew Yglesias, one billion.”

      And somehow that is going to fix bad USA infrastructure and affordable housing?

      Yglesias is at the ready to replace Tom Friedman..

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I forgot about his population 1 billion USA thing — wow. You can tell the guy hasn’t been outside the metro bubble much, or even just _outside_, never mind contemplated the carrying capacity of ecosystems.


  24. edmondo

    Patient readers, sorry to be a bit late. Every so often by VPN causes my browser to believe I’m in Norway,

    Look, I’m not saying that a variety of gremlins are always afoot but lately, the posts get later and later and the excuses are getting more and more ephemeral. Really, Lambert, your rationales for your tardiness are becoming so outlandish that the Trump people are now thinking about putting you on the legal team Lambert “Sidney” Strether has a ring to it, non?

    A word to the wise should be sufficient. I hope you accept this mild criticism with a cheery outlook. If your ways don’t soon mend. You have Jo6pak in your future. And Merry Christmas.

  25. Geo

    The Establishment Strikes Back

    (Excerpt) According to multiple people familiar with the proceedings, Ocasio-Cortez’s recent interview with The Intercept, where she said Speaker Pelosi needed to go, though there was no one to replace her, loomed over the proceedings.


    Well, looks like progressives have been totally shelved in favor or rightwing zealots in the party. Funny enough, the person that took AOC’s spot on the committee was against Pelosi in ‘18. But, it’s only bad if Pelosi is attacked from the right. The left isn’t allowed to say anything bad about her.

    Here’s a good tweet thread that summarizes and puts into more context: https://twitter.com/alex_sammon/status/1339964708317589505?s=21

    1. Geo

      Oops! Just saw this was already posted above. Should have done an updated read of comments before posting. :)

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Never-Trump movement splinters as its villain heads for the exit”

    So all those Republicans fought Trump every step of the way and won! Oh, wait a minute – that mean’s that they lost power and are now back in the wilderness like a bunch of losers. Only one thing to do now. Harass all other Republicans if they supported Trump, even if it costs them losing the mid-terms, losing the Senate and maybe losing the 2024 Presidential election as well. Sounds like a Plan.

    1. ambrit

      Wait, wait, wait! Do you mean to suggest that the Establishment Republicans are taking lessons from the Democrat Party now?
      Up really is down now!

  27. rowlf

    One of my favorite images of Keith Richards is on a chartered 747 for the band and crew for a mid 1990s tour, Richards gets some flight attendant garb and a beverage cart and is going through the aircraft cabin serving drinks to everyone, grinning ear to ear.

  28. Mikel

    This debate says alot about US foreign policy. Bolton debating Varoufakis? Couldn’t resist.


    “At the 2020 Holberg Debate, Amb. John Bolton and Member of the Hellenic Parliament Yanis Varoufakis discussed current threats to regional and global stability. The debate took place on 5 December and was chaired from Bergen, Norway.”

    One spoiler: Bolten throughout tries to make economics and US Foreign Policy seem unrelated (as if any country being invaded or “feared’ doesn’t have some corporations gain in mind).
    Yanis rightly leans into the global financial instability that constantly repeats itself and is worse with the hyper financialization of everything.

    If you have time…….

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Why Did Obama Forget Who Brought Him to the Dance?”

    Because that was the plan all along. To prove that he was a ‘team player’ to the Washington establishment, he sold them out as soon as he became President. Remember “Obama Girl”? Yeah, she got dumped for a better gig. When things turned a bit iffy in the 2012 campaign, they went back to those people who they had neglected over the past four years and ask for their support and trying to reconnect to them. By the time the 2016 campaign came rolling around, those people stopped picking up their phones or answering his emails. And in came Trump. So now Barry is trying to buff the turd of his legacy and having Grandpa moments about stuff that he does not want to have people remember.

  30. Anonymous

    The LA Times cabin fumes story is huge- probably the biggest coverup of the century. Airline management, Aircraft manufacturers, regulators and even the pilots Union have all played a part in suppressing the ubiquity and severity of the problem. It’s been successfully suppressed for decades. Every single commercial aircraft flying today, (with the exception of the 787) is toxic. Yes every single flight, not just the somewhat rare extreme fume events which make the news. It’s the constant low dose chronic exposure that accumulates as a toxic body load that predisposes air crew to serious injury during the more acute events. The delayed onset of the more severe symptoms (neurological, heart and lung) different responses/symptoms from different individuals and greatly varying individual susceptibility due to genetics have helped the cabin fume denialists and industry hired guns win court battles for years, but the tide may be turning as a JetBlue pilot won a landmark injury case just this year. I don’t know how many more decades the problem will take to get fixed, but one day people will look back on the last 70 years of air travel as an absolutely bizarre form of barbaric mass poisoning. Millions are needlessly poisoned and thousands have their health destroyed because the industry doesn’t want to retool the bleed air environmental architecture of aircraft when solutions exist and are even already in use in aircraft like 787. The toxic organophosphates which are added to jet engine oil become even more toxic when they are pyrolyzed and converted to aerosols and vapors. These same chemicals are used as pesticides and nearly identical to other organophosphates which are used in chemical weapons like Novichok, VX and Sarin. Unbelievable that people are breathing this stuff on airplanes every day with the blessing of regulators.

    The LA Times expose opens with a story about Spirit Airlines flight 708 and only speaks of the First Officer while not mentioning the Captain who lost his mind and died 50 days later. More on that topic and cabin air contamination here if you’re interested:


  31. Richard H Caldwell

    RE: Yglesias — I’m with you; he’s making sense, and it’s cognitive dissonance for me. Maybe a permanent change? We can only hope.

  32. Jack Parsons

    About Google: ads for search are still their only real cash cow. All other products have failed, as I understand it.

    They are facing pressure on ad income: a) Amazon also charges for vendor ads, and is eating away at Google’s take. Also, Bing search-based ads are making interesting money.

  33. drumlin woodchuckles

    I will offer a couple of words by which we could call these mRNA platforms-against-covid, if we want to.

    Neo-vaccinoids. Or pseudo-vaccinoids. But I like neo-vaccinoids better. Neo because they are new. VaccinOIDS because they are “like” vaccines, but they are not really vacCINES in any true classical sense.

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