2:00PM Water Cooler 12/21/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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:

Despite Newsome’s yeoman efforts at the French Laundry, California’s case count continues to skyrocket.

Test positivity by region:

A wild swing in the West. Again.

Nowhere near 3%, though.

Hospitalization by region:

Distinct flattening, thanks to the Midwest and the West. 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:

A little dip, thanks to the Midwest. I don’t much care for that gradual increase in the fatality rate and wonder what’s behind it.

CA: “‘We are getting crushed.’ What’s behind the alarming rise in California’s Covid-19 cases” [CNN]. “Since the Thanksgiving holiday, California has faced a surge of Covid-19 infections unparalleled across the United States, leading to continued daily record highs in hospitalizations and deaths…. Multiple factors are at play when it comes to California’s sudden acceleration of coronavirus cases, including Covid-19 fatigue, resistance to stay-at-home regulations, the huge number of essential workers and the socioeconomic factors of the pandemic affecting poorer and minority households… “LA County is moving toward becoming the epicenter of the pandemic,” Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at LAC + USC Medical Center, warned in a media briefing Friday.” • Workman-like piece, but I don’t see an explanation for why California diverges so radically from Texas, New York, and Florida, all of which are very different. For example, “Covid-19 fatigue” surely applies across the board, and income disparities are stark everywhere. So why is California such an outlier?

CA: “‘The virus is moving in’: why California is losing the fight against Covid” [Guardian]. “Many have said the rules, which are expected to last through Christmas and order residents to stay home except for essential activities, bar hotels from accepting most out-of-state guests, shut down outdoor dining and personal care businesses, were complex, and at times seemingly contradictory. Why should residents minimize contact with people from other households, but retail shopping and entertainment production can continue? Why did rules initially order the closure of playgrounds, while allowing indoor shopping malls to remain open? And why do Californians need to limit social contact, when their governor and the mayor of San Francisco attended celebrations at a Michelin-starred restaurant?” • Much of this duplicates the material above, and has the same issues. If the issue is governance — “complex” and “contradictory” rules — are we really to say that California is more poorly governed than Florida or Texas? Anything’s possible, I suppose….

CA: “California, latest coronavirus epicenter, sets nationwide record for new cases: ‘The worst is still before us'” [WaPo]. “the state is still reeling from an influx of new infections tied to Thanksgiving holiday gatherings, while facing the prospect of an additional surge after Christmas.” But look again at the “Big states” chart above. The timing is right for Thanksgiving to have sparked California’s acceleration, but why did the same spark not not Texas, New York, and Florida abaze too? What is unique to California?

CA: “California has its most coronavirus deaths in a single day as cases, hospitalizations continue to surge” [Los Angeles Times]. “The death toll has been highest in Los Angeles, the state’s most populous county.” In other words, it’s not deplorable Red counties in the interior.

CA: “As California I.C.U.s fill up, the dead are counted by the hour” [New York Times]. “The ever-climbing numbers are all the more demoralizing for Californians because they have endured some of the most stringent pandemic restrictions in the country. But now more than ever, health officials said, they need to keep hunkering down.” • And that’s as close as this article comes to an explanation.

CA: “‘Nine Months Into It, the Adrenaline Is Gone and It’s Just Exhausting'” (interview) [Kaiser Health News]. Dr. Jeanne Noble, director of the COVID response at the University of California-San Francisco medical center: “We’ve done some things well and other things not so well. We were very late to implement closures in a targeted fashion. Restaurants and dining reopened this summer, and a lot of us couldn’t figure out why indoor dining was open. Why is indoor dining something we need to even be considering when we’ve just barely flattened our curve? It was very predictable that cases would go up when dining happened. And they did….. I would put dining and restaurants as being of minimal social importance and very high risk. We could have done this better. Closing [down society] when numbers go up is reasonable* and that saves lives. But I think we know enough that it should not be an across-the-board closing. I mean, with this latest order, they temporarily closed parks. And we’ve been telling people to go outside. It’s like, what? Are you kidding?” • So, governance again. Really? NOTE * It’s reasonable if you pay workers to stay home, which we as a society will not even consider.


“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 en Deshabille

“Relief Checks Out Next Week, Fed Fight Lingers” [Bloomberg]. “The House and Senate are set to vote Monday on a $900 billion pandemic relief package along with a $1.4 trillion measure to fund the government, after days of intense negotiations reversed a months-long stalemate just before lawmakers leave town for a holiday break.” • Reactions from the Twitter on that $600 (six hundred) bucks–

From a normally cheerful account:

Running the numbers:

I still think it’s big money. Nancy could buy 50 pints of ice cream with that money. Food for a month!

Good question:

One answer:

There is this to remember:

“”We are not embarrassed enough”: Ilhan Omar slams Congress for failing the public on COVID relief” [Salon]. “‘It’s really quite shameful that we find ourselves negotiating a deal with such a small amount of money when we know just how devastated the American people are across our country,’ said Omar, the whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). ‘Think about it: in March, we were able to send $1,200 checks to people and give them $600 in unemployment insurance benefits. And now we’re talking about possibly sending a one-time check, eight months later, of $600 and reducing that unemployment benefit to $300.’ ‘We are not embarrassed enough as leaders,’ said Omar, who last week joined a CPC letter (pdf) demanding ‘at least $2,000 for all working individuals and families’ in the relief package.” • I like Ilhan, but a sternly worded letter? Really?

* * *


Election Legitimacy

“Trump wants Supreme Court to overturn Pa. election results” [ABC]. “The Trump campaign’s filing Sunday appears to target three decisions of Pennsylvania’s Democratic-majority state Supreme Court. In November, the state’s highest court upheld a Philadelphia judge’s ruling that state law only required election officials to allow partisan observers to be able to see mail-in ballots being processed, not stand close enough to election workers to see the writing on individual envelopes. It also ruled that more than 8,300 mail-in ballots in Philadelphia that had been challenged by the Trump campaign because of minor technical errors — such as a voter’s failure to write their name, address or date on the outer ballot envelope — should be counted. In October, the court ruled unanimously that counties are prohibited from rejecting mail-in ballots simply because a voter’s signature does not resemble the signature on the person’s voter registration form. The Pennsylvania Republican Party has a pending petition on the state’s mail-in-ballot deadline in which the party specifically says in its appeal that it recognizes the issue will not affect the outcome of the 2020 election.”

“BUSTED? Why the numbers behind Mitch McConnell’s re-election don’t add up” [Raw Story (dk)]. “McConnell racked up huge vote leads in traditionally Democratic strongholds, including counties that he had never before carried.There were wide, unexplained discrepancies between the vote counts for presidential candidates and down-ballot candidates.Significant anomalies exist in the state’s voter records. Forty percent of the state’s counties carry more voters on their rolls than voting-age citizens.Kentucky and many other states using vote tabulation machines made by Election Systems & Software all reported down-ballot race results at significant odds with pre-election polls.” • My guess is that liberal Democrats think that setting digital voting in stone is far more important than even defeating McConnell.

Transition to Biden

Larry Summers is not yet a member of the Biden administration, nor, IIRC, Cass Sunstein or Rahm Emanuel:

Though Mayo Pete isn’t malevolent? Really?

I hate this timeline:


Too soon?

“Scoop: Trump shifts 2024 thinking” [Axios]. “President Trump’s closest confidants no longer expect him to imminently announce he’s running in 2024, three sources who’ve recently discussed the matter with the president tell Axios.” • “Imminently” is doing a lot of work, there. Personally, I don’t see why Trump doesn’t set up a network, and then play King- or Queenmaker.

Obama Legacy

“Barack Obama Has Nothing to Say About Central America” [Jacobin]. “In his recently released memoir A Promised Land, Barack Obama has neatly removed Central America from his narrative of the first years of his presidency. Perhaps he thought no one would notice.” • Just like the decision to deep-six OFA….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Inauguration Part 1 w/Special Guest Daniel Bessner” (podcast) [The West Wing Thing]. • Good discussion of the weekend’s dustup on the left, including but not limited to Jimmy Dore, David Sirota, and Briahna Joy Gray, staring at 24:03. Dave: “Dave’s really disappointed in all of his fellow leftists. People are reallly f*cking angry right now, and they should be. It’s justifiable. This is the time when countries fall. What we’re doing to our population is how governments are overthrown.”

I can’t speak to efficacy, but I like the sound of “Congress of Essential Workers”:

One of the good things about Occupy, IMNSHO, was that it sought to take and hold ground. (Smalls is the worker Amazon fired for having the temerity to organize a work stoppage.)

“The Biden Administration Faces A Legitimacy Crisis” [The American Conservative]. • It’s like the Republicans took the RussiaGate playbook and changed what got hacked. Fun, lucrative, embubbles millions, really screws the other party hard. So what’s not to like?

UPDATE More on that playbook. Dowd was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, although you woudn’t know that from his Twitter bio:

Dowd seems to think this playbook applies only to Trump’s effort to delegitimize the 2020 election by claims of fraud. It obviously applies to RussiaGate, and to the newest panic about putatively Russian hacking, too.

Or in more sophisticated terms:

UPDATE This is David Blight, Civil War scholar:

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.

National Activity Index: “November 2020 CFNAI Super Index Moving Average Index Suggests Slower, But Slightly Above-Average Growth” [Econintersect]. “This index is likely the best coincident indicator of the U.S. economy. A coincident indicator shows the current state of the economy. This month, three out of the four broad categories of indicators improved. The economy has slowed from its rate of growth in 2018 but now has moved above territory associated with recessions [a level below -0.7 indicates a recession is likely underway].”

Debt: “October 2020 Credit Access Survey: Shows Plunge in Credit Demand and Access” [Econintersect]. “The latest Credit Access Survey reveals the stark imprint of the pandemic on consumer credit markets, with most credit application and acceptance rates falling sharply after February 2020. Application and acceptance rates for credit card and credit limit increase requests showed the largest declines, followed by auto loans. Meanwhile, application and acceptance rates for mortgage refinances continued to surge through 2020, with primarily high credit score borrowers taking advantage of lower mortgage rates. Looking ahead, households generally lowered their expectations during 2020 regarding applying and receiving credit over the coming year. The average probability of being able to come up with $2,000 for an unexpected need also reached a new series low in October 2020.”

* * *

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Extreme Greed (previous close: 63 Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 69 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 21 at 12:19pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.)

Department of Feline Felicity

“Cats: Not a fan favourite when the critters are draped around an office packed with tech” [The Register]. “Delicately, he gave the client three options: ‘1: Rehome the cats. 2: Rehome the hardware onto the desktops, not a complete fix but definitely an improvement. 3: Regular monthly visits by the cat-friendly IT engineer with a hoover.’ ‘The client opted for number 3,’ Andrew told us. We have no doubt the monthly visit proved lucrative, both fiscally and in terms of client happiness.'”

Xmas Pregame Activities

Good Mom tone (#SoundUpForSid):

Ring Out the Old

Now figure out which way to hang it:

Groves of Academe

“UVM Faculty and Students Reel From Proposed Cuts” [Seven Days]. “Soon after the administration announced the sweeping cuts, which would phase out 12 of the college’s 56 majors, 11 of its 63 minors, and four of its 10 master’s programs, students and faculty swiftly condemned the proposal. Senior Katherine Brennan, a religion major, started a Change.org petition to protest the elimination of the religion department, which, along with the classics and geology departments, is slated to be cut. To date, nearly 4,400 people have signed it.” • In the Victorian era, religion and geology were opposed to each other. How times have changed. It seems — and I know this will surprise you — that the administration has proposed no cuts for itself. Not one Dean.

“Negotiations Go Astray in Connecticut” [Inside Higher Ed]. “A draft contract put forth by the university eliminates procedural protections regarding academic freedom, terminations and retrenchment; faculty ownership of original online course materials and the right to teach them; conference, travel and research funds; universitywide tenure committees; and privacy and grievance policies for personnel files. The university system also wants to increase teaching loads from 12 credit hours per semester to 15 and pilot changing the academic calendar from two to three terms, with faculty members required to teach for two such terms annually. In a stunning proposal that was apparently just a typo, the university system also sought to halve the value of teaching or contract time, from 1 credit hour per hour taught to 0.5 credit hours per hour taught. The Board of Regents for Connecticut State College and University System did not confirm the credit-hour change was a typo, but the faculty union believes it was.” • If the faculty don’t own the rights to their courses, I suppose the administrators can just print out Wikipedia pages or something.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“This Guilty Land” [Eric Foner, London Review of Books]. “The divergent paths chosen by Brown and Lincoln illuminate a problem as old as civilisation itself – what is a person’s moral responsibility in the face of glaring injustice?… Today, Lincoln is widely revered, while many Americans, including some historians, consider Brown mad. Yet it was Brown’s strategy that brought slavery to an end. In a note written shortly before his death, Brown wrote: ‘The crimes of this guilty land will not be purged away but with blood.’ And Lincoln, the centrist politician, ended up presiding over slaughter on a scale neither he nor Brown could possibly have imagined. At his Second Inaugural, in March 1865, Lincoln embraced Brown’s penetrating insight that slavery was already a system of violence and so could not be eradicated peacefully. Echoing Brown, Lincoln explained the Civil War’s staggering death toll as divine retribution for two and a half centuries of ‘blood drawn by the lash’. He was reminding his listeners that violence in America did not begin when John Brown unsheathed his sword; it was embedded in slave society from the outset. And in the end, as Brands concludes, ‘Union arms, not Union arguments, overthrew slavery.'” • Well worth a a read.

Guillotine Watch

Paradigm shift:

Of course, that’s not how it works…

Class Warfare

“Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+” [Texas Monthly]. • Read all the way to the end.

“My Mommies and Me” [Jewish Currents]. “I followed all my mommies, and I followed the mommies they followed. Homesteaders. Wifeys. Boymamas. Christ followers. Empaths. Holistic healers. Herbalists. Astral travelers. Antifeminists. Ohio dwellin’, Oahu livin’. Lilah, Heather, Sydnee, Sierra, Aubrey, Krystal, Jinger. I learned their names and their children’s; I studied the rhythms of their days. The mommies had husbands who worked in landscaping or the military, who politely smiled for the camera once a week when their wives sat them down to livestream a Q&A about marriage to a hundred thousand people. The mommies had babies with names like Raider and Rifle and Arkham and Taytum and Barley and Nehemiah. The mommies were custom-building their own mansions, buying their six children matching sets of sparkly clothing, having biweekly shoots with professional photographers to produce one beautiful image that would accompany a long caption about what it means to question your faith without abandoning it. I couldn’t believe people lived like this.” • Before giving way to completely uncharitable thoughts about “Mormon mommy bloggers on Instagram,” I should probably imagine how a similar piece could be written, using class and cultural markers for the author’s home place: Brooklyn. The same goes for the Texas wedding piece above.

News of the Wired

Winter (1):

Winter (2):

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RH writes: “Cedars in Maine.”

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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. Louis Fyne

      fortunately my library only charges $0.05 per page. I can print the bill and still have $320 left over.

      Thanks Nancy, Chuck and all the DC Democrats!

      Not praising Orange Man but if you look at Trump’s Twitter feed, he’s been consistently more pro-direct cash payments to people than the Dems. Especially last Fall when Trump was willing to cave and sign a $1.5 trillion bill.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Trump isn’t a rationale actor. After the ET tape, he was loudly condemned by the GOP “thought” leaders. Within three days, they were bending the knee to Trump.

  1. Lou Anton

    CA infections – agree that there’s nothing all that different about the day-to-day compared to other states. Could the UK strain have made it over and spread (or vice versa – CA went up first)? Or maybe an independent mutation? Since the activities people are doing aren’t all that different, maybe it’s the virus that’s changed.

    1. cocomaan

      Yeah, I remember back this summer people were talking about a strain (or whatever it’s called) of covid hitting the East coast and another hitting the West coast, and I haven’t heard much about it since.

    2. Louis Fyne

      (IMO) more like non-compliance or failure to execute good social distancing and good masking in CA, NY. Example, person-to-person transmission at house parties. Such that the end result is CA NY is fairing no better (or worse) than FL TX.

      And media and health officials are awful with masking messaging.

      A disposable paper mask literally is than nothing but nowhere close to the protection offered by N95-KN95-KF94 melt-blown masks. Or multi-layered (cotton + polyester) homemade masks.

      Yet here we are. People roaming around with a flappy paper mask (likely used over multiple days) believing that they’re 100% protected since the CDC/media doesn’t articulate the difference among masks.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        IIRC, NY really got The Fear, and good masking practice and social distancing persist to this day. Perhaps California never did? Still, that doesn’t explain why Florida and Texas are like New York, and not California.

        1. bassmule

          “It’s reasonable if you pay workers to stay home, which we as a society will not even consider.”

          Is it really we as a society? Or is it The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, aka a bunch of old gasbags who barely pretend to care about anything other than the comforts of the Donor Class?

        2. ChrisPacific

          I have a few (not many) friends who remained in NYC after the spike. On the occasions when they go out and about and take photos, I’m always struck by the small numbers of people, ubiquitous masks, and clear social distancing. While there is certainly some selection bias (my friends wouldn’t be visiting those places if all of those things weren’t true) it does somewhat reinforce your point.

        3. upstater

          In central NY state, mask use is near 100%. Mostly cloth or paper and a more than a few N95s or KN95s.

          But people apparently socialized at bars for Halloween and family get togethers for Thanksgiving and cases exploded. Hundreds of positives and 10+ deaths of elderly per day. It was so nice into October with very few cases. Things were largely BAU in late summer and early Fall.

          We only go out when absolutely necessary.

        4. Oso_in_Oakland

          it’s surprising how many in California still don’t get it, we think of ourselves in toto as smart out here yet large % of folks only mask up when entering businesses, otherwise maskless when nobody regulating. LA county seems worse than the bay area, in terms of what family members in SoCal report back.
          media will show people masked/distanced entering Trader Joes. if a CNN crew followed them they’d lose their masks in their vehicle and never put them on again til their next Trader Joe run.

          1. Anthony G Stegman

            There is no good reason to wear a mask every time one steps outside their home. For example, I take daily walks outside maskless. I am not reckless as I can easily social distance when outside. California’s COVID cases are occurring in clusters, not widespread throughout every community. It is misleading to say COVID is out of control across the state. In many zip codes the numbers are quite small. The high rates of poverty are driving COVID numbers in the “Golden State”. Beverly Hills doesn’t have a COVID problem. Nor does Hillsborough or Newport Beach. East San Jose does, as does East Los Angeles.

            1. Felix_47

              An obvious truth. Problem is that the large underclass in Ca live in close quarters. Building and safety does not have the personnel or interest in really regulating it. Drive through places like Paramount or East LA or even Pomona or San Bernadino or parts of Riverside. and you see huge numbers of cars per living unit. The government does not want to limit migration from south of the border and so crowding is dramatic. And a migrant needs a car more than an individual apartment. That is a hidden cost of our failure to penalize employers hiring illegals. But what is most important is that businesses got their lunch deduction back just now under Trump and we wealthy in California will get our SALT deduction back by the next tax year.

      2. furies

        Yeah I tried but couldn’t keep it in yesterday when at the neighborhood market, gathering the last of it before the holiday, the clerk checking me out was ‘masked” but for his nose. I said something; it got heated and ugly–he told *me* I was rude; that he gave me excellent ‘customer service’ but he did not have to wear his mask properly for me, go suck it, Karen.

        We are so fu*ked.

        1. Jen

          A number of stores in my area have added “You must wear your mask OVER YOUR NOSE” signs to the already prolific “no mask, no entry, no exceptions.” Compliance looks to be 100%.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Did you wish him/her death-by-Covid? I would have . . . . if I were confident that I could beat him / her into bad health if he/she got physical in response.

      3. IM Doc

        I had to go to the nearest big city – more than 100 miles away to do Christmas shopping this weekend.
        I went to Target, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Costco.
        I have not ventured to the big city since before this pandemic started – to put it bluntly, I was horrified. In my little rural area – for the most part, the masking and distancing is being done voluntarily.
        In this city in all 4 stores, I would dare say that at best a third of the masking was being done correctly. Forget about distancing, it was cheek to cheek in all 4 locations.
        The only place that was policing was Costco – and if they saw someone sans mask they were immediately confronted , and if refusal, they were bounced out of the store.
        The other three were basically super-spreader events, just as I have read about repeatedly for this whole year but never personally witnessed. I got out as soon as I could. I could not believe it. On the way out of the store in both Wal-Mart and the Sam’s club was a big kiosk – “What you need to know about the COVID vaccine.” One could instantly tell these were not PRO-VACCINE locations. They were absolutely mobbed. And to add insult to injury, you get to walk by the Salvation Army bell-ringer sans mask in all 4 places. I have no doubt at all that at least some of this type of behavior is playing a role in CALIF ( my experience is not there).

        1. Janie

          My limited experience in Salem, Oregon: about 80pc masked, 80pc of those correctly – so, 64pc. About four days ago, local press said Oregon ranked 4th best in covid stats. Oregon’s population is about 80pc.

          1. marku52

            Here in Medford, OR, I see compliance in stores, at least, is fairly good. You see the occasional no masker, and the “chin guard” approach once in a while. Our cases in Jackson County run 50-100/day anyway. I think it’s private parties.

            1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

              In Hillsboro/Banks I feel like I never see people with incorrect masks…

              Any Oregoners wanna do a Virtual NC Meetup soon?

        2. crittermom

          Yikes! Sounds like many cases of ‘ya can’t fix stupid’. Too many still in denial?

          Fortunately, at our ‘local’ Walmart (an hour away over a mountain pass) most everyone I’ve seen is in compliance & even practice social distancing, in addition to masks. (I have noted many teenagers sans masks hanging in groups around town, however, which makes me shudder).

          Our tiny local grocery (located in a gas station) is a different story.
          Despite the signs on the door stating masks must be worn (by order of the governor), neither the owner nor employees EVER wear masks. They only did it for, at most, one week this past summer.
          No disinfecting of carts, doors (or anything else?), either.
          I avoid it, preferring to go without if I must.

          I was then not surprised when the clerks office called last week to reschedule my appointment to get my car plates until the 31st, saying the courthouse has been closed down due to 2 cases of the virus among the employees.
          I can only wonder if they grocery shopped locally?

          They alone, being the only grocery within an hour, could be a super spreader.
          But with a reputation of 86ing anyone who even looks at the owner crossways (I’d been warned about her even before moving here) & a large sign in the front window “We have the right to refuse service to anyone”, I just shut up & stay away.

      4. ChiGal in Carolina

        Disposable paper mask? Are you referring to the surgical masks? I don’t usually use them (use multilayered cloth ones with filter pocket and nose wire I can wear around my neck with a lanyard when outside in case of need).

        But though their shape isn’t great at preventing airborne transmission, they do have an electrostatically charged later and repel or trap droplets I believe. Do you know otherwise?

      5. Arizona Slim

        Bingo! One of my Tucson acquaintances spent three months of this year in Santa Monica.

        According to her, pulling the tee shirt collar over the nosed counted as acceptable masking. And that was truly infuriating.

        What really made her mad was the lack of masking in crowded places like the path that runs along the beach. OMG. When she told me about that, I was afraid that she’d blow a gasket.

    3. Carolinian

      For quite awhile after the disease made the scene Arkansas had very few cases. Now its deaths per million figure is up there close to the national average. And California too had a low rate at first. Perhaps states that were slow at first simply have more available victims and then catch up. In other words the controlling factor is not masks or distancing but the number of people who are likely to become ill.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Seems to me the experience of S. Korea, japan, Vietnam and other places where there was early success in controlling the spread, is that they are dealing now with Covid-exhaustion. And the reality that as long as there is a reservoir of even a few asymptomatic people, even at the present level of virulence and transmissibility of the virus, there’s no stopping the march to “dead herd immunity.” Given human nature, and the flow of airborne virions.

  2. Hank Linderman

    Re California and becoming the epicenter in America for COVID, I’m guessing the Lakers and Dodgers winning seasons and related parties must have had something to do with it. Oh, and the run of big parties in Malibu, Beverly Hills, downtown LA, etc. could have been factors as well.

    Went to Trader Joe’s in Culver City last night, took about 2 minutes to realize we should leave: the aisles were full of people, not nearly enough social distancing, no management by the store, just come on in! At least everyone was wearing masks. A local park had kid’s soccer games, didn’t get close enough to see if they were wearing masks but – I thought these activities were prohibited? I hear there is now *negative* occupancy in LA County hospitals.


    1. Lou Anton

      The sports celebration point is super-interesting, and sort of fits the with when lift-off happened. Maybe October created the higher base of infections in the first place.

      1. Louis Fyne

        sports means house parties to watch the game. And Halloween too.

        Indoors, one or two rooms + >2 hours gathering + lots of talking and screaming + alcohol + people mingling = 1 infecting many

    2. anon in so cal

      Several TJs in Los Angeles County have clusters….

      Otherwise, yes, all the reasons stated, plus Newsom defied the advice of Santa Clara County health commissioner, Dr. Sara Cody, and reopened too fast.
      Now, even with cases and fatalities out of control, malls and retail stores are open for business…..

      A while back there was a discussion on here about using ICU capacity as a parameter for formulating guidelines for the pandemic. In retrospect, I think the plan–even here in California—was, and is, the nonsensical, criminal, goal of herd immunity. Otherwise, there would be a total shutdown—airports, freeways, etc.—for some specified time, along with some kind of UBI and some kind of food provisioning. Can the military be used for that?

      1. ambrit

        The National Guard could be used for that. The Guard works the “accident scenes” for the state as part of it’s ‘regular’ job. However, someone would have to declare a state of emergency. I see no politicos around who have the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to make a big decision like that. Look at how hard it was to get Mickey Mouse lock downs earlier this year.
        I can still ‘see’ there being an enforced shutdown, but without the other assistance.

      2. Gavin

        Mr. Strether, you forgot to insert

        “Why should residents minimize contact with people from other households, but “large corporate owned, Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities sustaining, political party donors, who benefit from small business shutdowns
        retail shopping and entertainment production can continue?”

        1. sd

          I work in the entertainment industry so I feel an obligation to describe the day to day within the rigid protocols that were agreed to by Labor and Management which can readily be found online .

          A typical project has about 140 people working on it divided into pods – A closest to the actors, C furthest from the actors, and B the middle (sometimes color coded, yellow, blue, red). Closest to the actors are typically tested 3x a week, sometimes more with rapid tests. Furthest C are tested 1x a week and never have contact with A.

          Each group works in smaller pods of 4-6 so that if someone test something positive, a pod can easily be tested, retested and quarantined for two weeks if necessary.

          In addition, there are regular temperature checks before work starts. Anyone with symptoms is asked to stay home and test outside at a lab before returning to work. If a family member has COVID, again, stay home. Exposure to someone without COVID requires additional testing.

          PPE is required, including face shields when in prolonged contact with another crew member. There is constant sanitizing of sets, props, dressing, equipment, vehicles, etc. Offices are limited to no more than two people with an air purifier with hepa filters which are regularly changed. Anyone who can work from home is encouraged to do so.

          For the holidays, we’ve been given protocols that require we report all travel, limit contact outside of our immediate family, and essentially stay home. This is what it takes today. It’s stressful.

          And we all take it very seriously because this is what we need to do to make sure we don’t get sick so we can keep working.

      3. Massinissa

        Retail stores I get, to some extent. But Malls? Literally the place where consumers go to interact with other people socially? Maybe keep those closed?

        Also on herd immunity… I think like 5% of the country has had some variant of covid by now, and look how much its damaged the economy overall and how overflowed the health system is. I don’t want to be rude to them, but Herd Immunists really think everything will be right and dandy when 55% more of the population get covid? And under what sort of timescale do they even expect that to happen?

      4. Oso_in_Oakland

        the California national guard was deployed to South Central during the 1992 riots, if memory serves 32 square miles patrolled by 14K troops. Cali has around 20K national guard.
        of course not a parallel, point only to say it takes a lot of manpower to patrol and respond. Not to mention all the people from far left to far right and even in the middle would call this martial law. Still, i’ve seen the guard helping with food and ppe distribution in other states and people for the most part reacted sensibly. possibly contact with local non-political community leaders could pave the way for the guard to enter and keep strife to a minimum, especially in those communities hardest hit by Covid.

  3. Fiery Hunt

    I tend to think that California’s surge is mostly a 2 part story.

    The 1st piece and it’s the reason for most of CA’s infections is the number of Latinos living in poverty and/or severely packed households. Families are the most important part of Latino culture and I know at least three families where one household has spread it to other households in their family.

    The 2nd piece and it’s not insignificant is that the well-to-do, working from home, don’t-know-anyone-who’s been sick part of the population spent the summer traveling both in state and flying to other places like Hawaii and Mexico. Still stunned when I heard a friend took 4 generations from 4 households to Mexico over Thanksgiving. 2 days later…4 positives.

    There’s too many people here and certainly too many without the sense that God gave ’em.

    1. Mikel

      I thought Hawaii was enforcing the quarantine of travelers there? That’s changed already?

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Not the big island…negative test before you arrive and multiple tests while there is the latest.

      1. Lee

        Based on my observations of construction crews working in my SF bay area town, not wearing masks, nor is social distancing part of Latino working class culture. That, and crowded living conditions at home=Yikes!

        1. HotFlash

          Experienced similar in a factory with a largely Italian and Portuguese workforce. It was a stamping plant (made nails), could *not* get them to wear ear protection. Finally made a little headway with a film that the Hearing Society made, ended with a little (Italian-looking) girl, maybe 5 or 6, calling her grandfather, “Nonnino? Nonnino?” And he can’t hear her.

          Since then, our workplace safety laws require a joint worker + management + union (if any) safety committee, which must meet monthly and report any safety concerns, folloiw up of old concerns, any new regulations, updates to materials handling and so forth. Minutes must be posted promptly and are can be audited.

          Management can, as you would expect, be fined for unsafe conditions, but workers may be fined if they do fail to report unsafe conditions and must refuse work they feel to be unsafe — there’s a tip line to govt agencies. Nice to give the most affected some power!

          1. Gavin

            Workplace protections do not apply to households.

            “The average Hispanic family, though, is still larger than the national average: 3.87 people per Hispanic family, while the national average for all families is 3.19 people.”

            That number doesn’t take into account the grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews that make up the thrifty and money saving large households of the migrant diaspora.


      2. Janie

        Interesting. Chart shows lower percent of deaths, relative to case numbers, for Latinos than other ethnicities. Maybe because of that extended family support? Some years ago, a happiness survey in the US showed Hispanics as happiest and postulated that it was due to tight family connectedness.

        1. Louis Fyne

          Latinos skew younger than whites and blacks at the top-level demographics level.

          then throw in a slew of other possible interesting hypotheses: is there any difference in sunlight exposure? (vitamin D)

          diet? (capsaicin is an anti-inflammatory agent. Cumin is another anti-inflammatory agent.) access to health care? etc.

        2. Fiery Hunt

          I’d guess it’s because the Latino cases are primarily younger (almost half Latino infections are 34 years old or younger).

          I’d also say that it makes me question a lot of these statistics…For example, are Latino children more susceptible to inflection or…are they more likely to have been tested?

      3. cocomaan

        I mean, if it was a religious group not paying attention to these things, would we hesitate to observe it? I don’t think it’s racist to point out a group behavior if you can back it up with some data.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          I totally agree cocomaan!
          But I live in the SF Bay Area…and facts don’t tend to apply when it comes to issues of race and class.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Not race but there’s a cultural element. Anglos keep each other at arm’s length even in the best of times ;-)

        1. Fiery Hunt


          I also thought it is really interesting that in the under-18 year olds, Latinos have nearly 2X as many cases as all other races combined! (110,000 vs 57,000.. Among known race cases.)

          1. Wukchumni

            Those from Cali use up much more oil in the way of resources-as its a long way to anywhere from here. And we’re wealthier than most states, leading to more consumption, joy joy.

            As it stands the USA’s numbers from Covid are similar to resources used versus population, a 5 to 1 ratio compared to the rest of the world, and daresay Cali is more like 7-1?

    2. SD

      You’re definitely on to something here. The well-to-do, working from home crowd would absolutely crumble if their mostly Latino nannies, housekeepers, and maids weren’t able to go to work every day. The servants and their employers are interacting in close quarters and are almost certainly exposing each other to the virus. Always important to keep in mind that largely wealthy business travelers were the initial vector in the US.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Very much so. ..we know New York was part of the Italy wave; business/leisure travelers spread that “strain”.

        I still contend CA saw the virus as early.as November 2019 and, like China (where the West Coast got it from directly and early) we got spared the Spring Ravaging.

        Now it’s more the New York /UK style and it’s just gonna keep growing til they hardcore lock it down. My guess?

        Day after Christmas we’re gonna get shut down til at least the middle of January.

      2. Felix_47

        What are you going to rent in LA on a ten dollar per hour salary when you can only find work three days per week and you need to send half of it to your girlfriend in Honduras to support your three kids. ? It is so obvious that the ruling class does not want to limit cheap labor migration nor does small business. And it is obvious that the ruling class in the US does not want a social safety net.

    3. polecat

      The PCR tests are not reliable! So test ‘results, be they + or -, don’t mean a hill of beans.
      I could volunteer to be tested .. but I’d have better luck flippin a quarter …

      1. Yves Smith

        Specifically, John Hopkins said not trivial false negative rate of 20%. They had some suggestions as to how to reduce that (this was from a study in Oct) but I have seen nothing to indicate they have been implemented at any scale.

        But I believe the positives are pretty accurate. By contrast, the antigen test is pretty good only with symptomatic cases, delivers a lot of false positives otherwise.

  4. km

    “Personally, I don’t see why Trump doesn’t set up a network, and then play King- or Queenmaker.”

    Because: 1. That would require work, boring organizational work, cultivating underlings and then keeping an eye on them.

    2. Because that’s not Trump’s style.

    1. Darthbobber

      Yep. Usually the phrase “behind the scenes” gets paired with kingmaker. And Trump is allergic to anything but center stage.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Oh, I can see Trump playing kingmaker right out front on TV. I think he’d enjoy it. He’d be the center of attention, with no responsibility. As for organizational work, he would have people for that.

          1. Pat

            For good or for ill, how many people were actively working to block and even undermine his plans the last few years?

            How many will do that for a Trump tv program?

            Organizing for failure Is much more likely when you are unlikely to suffer any real consequences vs losing your job and being labeled either incompetent or untrustworthy in the private sector.

  5. Lemmy Caution

    As Covid infection rates surge, the vaccine roll out continues with the first shipments of the Moderna vaccine arriving at vaccination locations around the country.

    We already know that the Moderna vaccine causes far more side effects than the Pfizer vaccine — and that may be saying something.

    We all heard about the 6 anaphylactic reactions that occurred last week among 270,000 recipients of the vaccine. That suggests a risk of anaphylaxis of about 22 cases per million. That’s a lot compared to other vaccines like flu shots, where the risk is about 1.3 per million.

    No surprise then that the NIH is exploring whether to conduct a study of the vaccine with people who have a known risk for anaphylaxis.

    But there is another under reported aspect to the Pfizer vaccine that is barely mentioned in the mainstream press.

    In articles about reactions to the Pfizer vaccine, I’ve seen this same wording in four or five places, including this AP report:

    Less severe side effects have also been rare. Among the first 215,000 people to get vaccinated in the U.S., fewer than 1.5% of them had problems that left them unable to perform their normal activities or required medical care.

    That’s a weird way of expressing the thought, but I think what they are trying to avoid saying is that 1.4% of 215,000 people who got vaccinated did have problems that left them unable to perform their normal activities or required medical care. Can that be right? If so, that means more than 3,000 people!

    So if the reactions to the Pfizer vaccine include 6 cases of anaphylaxis and 3,000 cases of reactions that left people left them unable to perform their normal activities or required medical care, and the side effects, including grade 3 reactions, from the Moderna vaccine are far more common, then we are really in for a bumpy ride.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we are really in for a bumpy ride

      I would want to know whether these are out-of-band for vaccines generally. I also think that “unable perform their normal activities or required medical care” needs a breakdown. 50/50? 80/20? 90/10?

      1. Cuibono

        anecdotally i am hearing of fatigue and arm pain from many and just arm pain from most.
        the data showed those in more than 50%. but these short term side effects are just natures way of reminding you that your immune system is kicking in…

        1. Lemmy Caution

          According to the Covid-19 work group, about 5,000 people out of 215,000 that received vaccinations were “unable to perform normal daily activities, unable to work, required care from doctor or health care professional.” We should know what expect.

        2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Talked to my Metairie/Nola Healthcare Worker friend who got a vaccine shot along with most of the hospital staff, and they said thereve been no adverse reactions to the Pfizer vaccine that they know of

      2. Lemmy Caution

        I haven’t been able to find the original source for this statement. The first time I saw it the statement I tried to find the source but gave up. I figured maybe the reporter just mangled some facts. Then I saw it in a few more articles, including the Wall Street Journal, I believe. Always expressed in the same weird way that downplayed the significance. I would love to see the breakdown as you suggest.

        I would like to know where the information came from.

        I already tried to find the reports of Covid vaccine reactions on the VAERS site maintained by HHS, but when you try to filter by vaccine name you can’t find the Pfizer vaccine.

        Then I discovered that the FDA and CDC are encouraging vaccine recipients to download the V-Safe app to their phones to report their vaccine reactions. Is that where this info is coming from?
        V-Safe is touted as a near real-time vaccine reaction reporting system. I think that when you submit a report, you get a follow-up call that gathers more info. If appropriate, that info then gets loaded into the VAERS database.

        I’ve looked to see if there is a citizen-facing dashboard or some way to see what is going on, but so far it looks like the info only goes one way.

      3. Lemmy Caution

        I found the original source. It’s in a slide show titled Anaphylaxis Following m-RNA COVID-19 Vaccine Receipt presented to the CDC from the ACIP COVID-19 Vaccines Work Group on Dec. 19.
        The relevant slide is slide 6, and the media reports about what is says are wrong. The percent of the 215,000 people who experienced a reaction to the shot that made them “unable to perform normal daily activities, unable to work, required care from doctor or health care professional” was 2.3%, not less than 1.5% as reported by the AP and other news sources. That means about 5,000 people experienced the adverse reactions described above.

    2. Glen

      I had a doctor’s appointment today, and the doctor was completely pissed off that nobody could tell her when she was going to be able to get the vaccine. She had contacted just about all the county and state agencies. She is older and definitely in the danger group.

      We truly live in a third world country. I think all that voting for Biden did was normalize it – nothing fundamentally is going to change. We’re $crewed.

      1. Massinissa

        “We truly live in a third world country. I think all that voting for Biden did was normalize it – nothing fundamentally is going to change. We’re $crewed.”

        I’m at the point where I almost wish Trump had won. At least we would have the chance of getting someone who isn’t Obama 2.0 in 2024. I’m becoming increasingly worried about what sort of candidates the Republicans are going to be trying in the next few years. Biden being a complete failure will be blamed on ‘socialism’ or some other complete nonsense.

        1. JWP

          +100. I’ve been thinking the same thing. People will equate the swings in the workin class and minorities towards the GOP with republican policies benefitting them even though they never have. With the dems staunchly upholding the status quo, 2024 is ripe for an intelligent trump who can do real damage while having a backing that supports serious violence against civilians in the name of “upholding freedom”. Progressives have gotta try and reach out to the trump working class to get them on board with the anti swamp economic policies.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > what sort of candidates the Republicans are going to be trying in the next few years.

          Oh, say, Josh Hawley and for VP — how about that nice Surgeon General who said that everybody should be vaccinated, including immigrants? Oh, and he’s young. And Black.

          People keep insisting the Republicans are dumb and can’t adapt. They can and will.

          That doesn’t mean they’ll become “the party of the working class,” because then they would have to empower the working class. But Holy Lord, would I like to see a whole lot of overly complex systems simplified so that dull normals could run them.

          1. neo-realist

            Republican politicians aren’t dumb, but looking at interview footage from the Trump rallies and listening to the comments from the republican line on c-span’s Washington Journal (going back to Bush II), certainly tells me that much of the base, or at least the working class segment of the base, is very dumb, and embraces their ignorance like a pig in mud.

            1. Pat

              Have you looked at the Democrats lately?

              And voting for Joe Biden is not a sign of any real intelligence, in fact for most of those voters it has to be from a place of ignorance, especially if you are a senior, have student loans, or are a minority.

              1. neo-realist

                Given the Trump administration threats to use the RICO statutes against left organizers, and promises of radical increases in military spending (55% of the budget), and social security cuts (25%). I think a lot of people who voted for Biden did so with their eyes open knowing he wasn’t FDR, but did so as a defensive measure against draconian Trump policies.

              2. Jonathan Holland Becnel


                I’d rather dumb rn Biden et alia….

                And FTR, dumb means something totally different to me now that I’ve stop looking down on ordinary Americans who are just trying to be happy…

  6. anon in so cal

    Killdeer are so cute! Tiny ballerinas. They would be out on the quad in the evening, making their haunting call.

  7. Dr. John Carpenter

    Cats & office IT: in my time in the trenches, I’ve had several desktop computers presented to me for shutting down randomly or other erratic performance issues, only to have the entire case filled with cat fur. I’ve always been amazed at how much shed can get in there, no matter how small the entry points are.

    1. petal

      My laptop recently needed its battery replaced. The guy at the shop commented about how when he opened it up to do the repair, it was full of dog hair. I’ve tried to be careful with it, but apparently have not been careful enough.

    2. flora

      Computer cooling fans pulling air through the computer plus static electricity: it’s a great combo. ;)

  8. Wukchumni

    Travel poster for Gulag Hockeypelago stresses importance of cold calculated moves, once a pawn of time.

  9. jo6pac

    Russia Russia Russia Russia

    Funny how these site run the same story today. The person on BJ even writes for bellcat

    Listen: Poisoned Russian opposition leader tricks agent into revealing details of the attack – Alternet.org

    Balloon Juice | Pwned! (balloon-juice.com)

    I see joe biden has taken the bait on Russia and will get even whatever that means.

    In other news Main Street gets thrown under the bus once more, not surprised.

  10. Keith

    If Trump really wanted to play troll to Biden, I think his best bet would be about an hour or so before Biden’s inauguration (enough to let a media frenzy ensue), pardon all federal inmate convicted of non-violent drug offenses. In his speech, he could note that Biden could start restoring the soul of the nation from where he damaged it, by presiding over the integration of these individuals into society.

    Doing this, Trump would:
    – make the headlines,
    – remind about Biden’s role in black incarceration and maybe get the hard left more restless,
    – create a massive task and distraction for Biden to kick off his first 100 days, and
    – if he complains, rile up the blacks voters about being stabbed in the back.

    1. nycTerrierist


      and for the cherry on top, stick it to Clinton
      and pardon Assange and Snowden

      pretty please?

    2. urblintz

      If he really wants to see some heads explode Trump should re-register and campaign for 2024 as a Democrat, acknowledging that the Old Guard GOP abandoned him for Joe “Vichy” Biden and so he has no use for the party apparatus…. hahaha!

      That’d be one way for the Dems to get back some critical votes for tight races, while solidifying the fact that the 21st century Democrats are really just 20th century Republicans, heh…

      …and the truth of that may well amount to the most bizarre and cynical thought I have ever had.

      such are the time we live in.

      1. polecat

        Or he could simply start his own Party, denying any and all red rhinos from latching back on ..

        Betcha he’d garner – just through word of mouth alone – enough signatures in enough states, to make it on the ballot .. surpass ANYTHING the Greens may have done.

  11. John

    Given the blizzard, torrent, deluge of finger pointing, this time by Republicans, in 2016 by Democrats, why are we supposed to believe any or all of those virtuous souls showing us the sins of others? It was Russia or it was the voting machines or mysterious dumps of hundreds of thousands of ballots, or in another venue the Russians poisoned Navalny’s underwear or was it his water bottle. I skim over all this stuff. It is not worth my time.Wolf has been cried far too many times.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Russians poisoned Navalny’s underwear

      So the Russians are Underpants Gnomes. Good to know.

      On another note, I still don’t get why, if Putin wanted to kill Navalny, he let him leave Russia to go to Germany and get himself into a hospital. Did I not get the memo on this?

      1. Heruntergekommen Sein

        Navalny pulls a Rasputin. Putin’s administration let the poison metabolize for at least 24 hours while holding Navalny in custody prior to releasing Navalny for an atropine injection, a ventilator, and [probably] military-grade nerve agent antidote. The poison itself was administered with a masking toxin to produce nerve agent contraindications to minimize the effectiveness of treatment.

        Poison is an art. If the dose is too potent, your agent ends up in the hospital with the victim, where the jig will be up. Air monitors can pick up particles in the air [or radiation] after the fact, unwinding the exfil. Navalny’s fate is inconsequential, this method is designed to elicit perpetual fear and paranoia among the more hardened adversaries of the State. No place is safe. A hit-and-run would have been more lethal, but everybody internalizes the risk of catastrophic vehicular accidents every day.

        Tradition within the Russian bratva, the distance between the implement and the victim is proportional to the respect the assailant has for his victim. Killing a beloved father figure means a telescopic rifle and a shot center mass, avoiding the face and head. A despised traitor gets a bullet to the medulla oblongata with powder burns. Chemical weapons in the jockey shorts is so close, and so intimate, it conveys personal venom. But at the same time, the loyal servants of the state avoid the moral injury of seeing the event happen in person. More compellingly, putting time and space between the act and the demise allows for cleanup. Maybe the placement of red herrings at the scene influences the direction of investigation – ex. suspicious cocktails served elsewhere ties up a lot of detectives.

      2. Darthbobber

        Or why, if it was the underpants all along, they previously produced such an extensive body of “evidence”, with many affecting particulars, as the Mikado would say, about his f-ing drink as the source.

        The whole Noviwhatsis thing has also followed a weird trajectory from supposedly awesomely more lethal than previous military nerve gases, to seemingly usually nonlethal and administered in positively flippant fashion.

        I visualize Navalny getting ahold of Boris and Butthead, who knew perfectly well who they were talking to. And the conversation at the other end was like “I told him it was in his underpants. Hehhehhehheh.”

    1. neo-realist

      Their lack of shame is on par with Red State Iowa, which put Ernst back in office, Soybean price ignorance be damned.

      1. Big River Bandido

        In Iowa, as everywhere else, Democrats lose by nominating PMC neoliberals for seats that could be easily won with real commitment and follow-through on universal concrete material benefits.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          If Catfood Democrats are devoted to preventing the institution of universal concrete material benefits, then nominating PMC neoliberals is a way to prevent Real Democrats from getting those seats and is also a way to prevent universal concrete material benefits from even being discussed, let alone instituted.

          If the Catfood Democrats’ real goal is to prevent universal concrete material benefits, then carefully engineering “losses” to Republicans is winning the prevention of universal concrete material benefits.

          Viewed in this way, the PMC neoliberal Catfood Democrats are winning and winning and winning, cycle after cycle after cycle. We just have to be willing to admit to ourselves what the real goal of the PMC neoliberal Catfood Democrats really is. And they are winning that real goal. Which means they are winning.

  12. shtove

    I don’t see why Trump doesn’t set up a network, and then play King- or Queenmaker.

    Today I was on the laptop, but within earshot of a TV broadcast of an event called Turning Point USA. A woman’s voice came on: brash, confident, mocking. She went through a litany of what’s going wrong in that country, whipping up a storm of applause by pitching the COVID response as evidence of both government incompetence and elite conspiracy. All the problems were plain, the solutions simple yet vague. At one point she even elicited the dreaded chant of USA! USA! USA!

    For it was Judge Jeanine. I have a passing familiarity with her as a talking head on Fox News, and never before found her shtick remarkable. But I zoned out of what I was doing on the laptop with a shudder of realisation that she was leading a fascist rally. Maybe I’ve been reading too much about Carl Schmitt.

    You can catch it here – no idea how big of an event this is in America (link starts at 58 m): https://youtu.be/f_CkV3IDU3A?t=3537

  13. wadge22

    I really like “piñata economics.” Powerful metaphors like that are important for helping everyone understand what needs to be the goal.

    I’d like to note that those swinging the sticks upward from below have been blindfolded, since it was not drawn that way in the comic. But that is definitely part of the game.

  14. chuck roast

    Negotiations Go Astray in Connecticut

    Years ago we all used to laugh. When you got a taxi in Boston there was a 50-50 chance that the cab driver had a PhD…just another over-educated stiff. Now it appears that if you get a UBER in Connecticut (and Burlington) that the driver may be an actual ex-professor. It will again be comforting to know that calling a cab can improve your IQ. However, the Deans might want to call a friend if they need a lift.

  15. anon in so cal

    “Many U.S. health experts underestimated the coronavirus — until it was too late”

    “Many leading infectious disease specialists here underestimated the fast-moving outbreak in its first weeks and months, assuming that the United States would again emerge largely unscathed. American hubris prevented the country from reacting as quickly and effectively as Asian nations did, Adalja said.

    During the first two decades of this century, “there were a lot of fire alarms with no fire, so people tended to ignore this one,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, who acknowledged he underestimated the virus in its first few weeks.

    Back in January, Dr. William Schaffner was one of many who warned that the real danger to Americans was the common flu, which can kill up to 61,000 Americans a year.

    “Coronavirus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison,” said Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “The risk is trivial.”

    Dr. Paul Offit, who led development of a rotavirus vaccine, predicted that the coronavirus, like most respiratory bugs, would fade in the summer. “I can’t imagine, frankly, that it would cause even one-tenth of the damage that influenza causes every year in the United States,” Offit told Christiane Amanpour in a March 2 appearance on PBS.

    Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, worried — and tweeted — about the novel coronavirus from the beginning. But she says public health officials try to balance those fears with the reality that most small outbreaks in other countries typically don’t become global threats….”


  16. marym

    Anti-lockdown protest today in Salem OR – 2 threads. Protesters tried to break into the Capitol building. Somewhat typical remarks about freedom and tyrants; but jobs too, and this:

    (From the first thread): “We went to Back the Blue Rallies for 8 months and this is what we get!?”

    (From the second thread): One Anti-lockdown protester remarked sarcastically at the equipment police carry “we sure buy them nice trucks, so they can harass us”


    1. Glen

      I can remember a video of a town hall meeting in Vermont (I think) where they were debating getting some military surplus vehicles for the local police. One of the participants stood up and mentioned that he was a retired Marine colonel, and these were EXACTLY THE SAME VEHICLES that they used in his tours of Iraq to suppress and control rebel terrorists, and he knew these vehicle were totally inappropriate for local police use unless they were expecting a civil war..

      I’ll see if I can find the video – it’s pretty old maybe ten years ago or so. But he was right, the DoD was existentially giving away older military hardware, and it might have been better to just buy a couple more patrol cars.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Is this a miserable Third World country? Or is this a miserable Second World country?

          Is America’s future “Haiti”? Or is America’s future “Belarus”?

      1. Mao "No Landlords Now" Zedong

        The Pentagon is one record stating it’s preparing for a Judge Dredd future here in the US where it will be working with law enforcement to help put down water riots and other types of urban unrest. The military budget doesn’t get bigger every year, buying more and more fancy killing machines because they don’t intend to use them.

  17. chuck roast

    Beautiful pic from Fredrico Italiano. He has a great eye. The superior artist do snow. The rest are also-rans. The grays are wicked good…he has got the gray thing going. Of course some of the associated tweets are of Simon Stalenhag…an old NC fav. Shoulda’ guessed. I have been thinking about gray today. The most complex of colors if only because its extremes are no color at all. Perfect musing for the winter solstice. Sunset today at 4:19…here comes the sun!

    1. Lunker Walleye

      Caillebotte was schooled as an engineer and lawyer and his brother was a photographer. I remember an art history professor discussing Caillebotte’s work as having been influenced by photography. The rendering of shades and tints of gray in this work remind me of black and white pictures. He was very capable at painting structures which must have meshed nicely with his engineering background.

  18. Synoia

    What is unique to California?

    The mild autumn and early winter. It’s not better to stay inside at home.

    1. flora

      What else is unique to CA wrt C19 vs other states? The worst C19 outcomes are in people who are poor and/or more vit D deficient. CA is the most economically unequal state in the union. Some billionaires and a lot of very very poor people. CA also has a majority population that is most likely to have serious vit D deficiency in winter. Could be a coincidence.


      (The crazy patchwork of uncompensated shutdown/don’t shutdown rules isn’t helping.)

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+”

    Yeah, that end was a bit of a shocker. Then again, for years I have heard about girls planning their weddings from when they were still basically children. They would have an album and there would be plans inside, material samples, photographs and magazine cut-outs of other weddings, lists of future guests, menus, music lists, etc. Hard to say if this was a hobby or an obsession but come the day of the big pay-off,they would let nothing stand in their way which now includes the lives of the people at the wedding and their families. And as that article shows, the people at the wedding are in on it as well. In that social group, non-attendance is not an option.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      These are the people who do not deserve treatment for covid if they should get the covid they deliberately court ( and deliberately seek to spread) by their behavior. Them and their upper class covid scofflaw soulmates like Mayor Newsome, who does not deserve treatment for covid if he gets it because of that unmasked party-gathering he went to.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Immersed in the icy Oak Lake in Ontario, two Canadians play chess”

    And when they finally get out, they both insist on wearing shorts because its wintertime Canada, eh.

  21. Person

    While nobody was looking, Congress put the CASE Act (copyright “small claims” court) and a felony streaming provision (authored by none other than Thom Tillis) in the new spending bill: Sweeping new copyright measures poised to pass in spending bill.

    The CASE Act creates a “streamlined” process for small copyright claims through a quasi-judicial tribunal that of course would never be captured by copyright extremists. The tribunal can award damages of up to 15K per shared work.

    1. Daryl

      What garbage. Who even wants this? I thought the big companies figured out that suing single moms for hundreds of thousands of dollars was not good PR.

      If anything, these things, including DMCA, should all go through regular courts, and there should be severe fines for filing baseless claims.

  22. kareninca

    I think that the reason we are now having a lot of covid cases in CA is due to the weather. We had very few cases when it was warm and sunny; once the weather became cold – and it has become quite cold, for this area – things quickly worsened. Disclaimer: my only support for this claim is that I live here in Silicon Valley and that is the pattern I think I see.

  23. VietnamVet

    California was where new trends were born. But no longer does the state have Brian Wilson’s “Good Vibrations”. The USA is facing an existential crisis like the UK. The Western Empire is gone.

    WaPo headlined “…Trump’s denial, mismanagement and magical thinking led to the pandemic’s dark winter”. But this is misleading. This applies equally to Nancy Pelosi or Gavin Newsom. Inequality, corruption and incompetence are built into plutocratic rule based on one overriding principal; increase corporate profits.

    The initial Pfizer vaccine injections had 2.7% health impact events (equivalent to 270,000 reactions in a million jabs). This may be due to allergic responses to the nano-particles encasing the mRNA that contains polyethylene glycol (PEG). The compound is suspected to cause reactions in earlier vaccines but is also used in medicines and cosmetics. I have taken tablespoon amounts as an osmotic laxative with no reactions except it works.

    It is clear that the vaccines were rushed at warp speed into use because there is not a functional national public health system with medical care for all in the USA to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

    Those living in multi-generational housing are suffering the most along those who come in contact with them.

    1. apleb

      With 2.7% health impact events, it will be 27.000 reactions per million jabs.
      If that’s true, it must be very very minor impacts or “why the family blog is this stuff used on humans?”

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    Just seen on the reddit: this story and photo . . .
    “People queuing for up to 6 hours to get a covid test and police think it’s acceptable behaviour to fine them 100s of dollars for looking at their phones.” And here is the link . . .

    Who has ordered these police to do this? What town or city? What country? It looks like organized fine-harvest racketeering just from the caption and photo . . .

    1. The Rev Kev

      drumlin woodchuckles
      December 22, 2020 at 3:00 am

      That is Bondi in Sydney, Australia but it is not what it looks like. In Oz they crack down on using your mobile while driving and can include while the car is standing still but running. Too many people were getting themselves killed driving and using their mobiles which included texting while driving. If your mobile is in a cradle in the car you can use it. Otherwise, no. Here are the mobile laws for that (N.S.W.) State-


  25. The Rev Kev

    “My Mommies and Me”

    Just sat down to do a close read of this article and it kinda freaks me out. I would want nothing to do with such women much less imagine being married to one of them. OK, the numbers of them must be small but still, they seem to only have a nodding acquaintance with reality.

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