2:00PM Water Cooler 1/12/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, as you know, my workflow woes will only be solved when Apple gives me back control of the iPad I paid them for, eight days from now (on Inauguration Day, oddly). Nice timing, with an overwhelming mass of material from the Capitol seizure. Please check back at 3:00 or so for more material on that, plus at long last some thoughts from me. Sorry for the slowness. Also, comments have returned; please see Yves here. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

The bird singing and that buzzing insect really conjure up the prairie.

#COVID19

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

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?

I finally cajoled the 91-DIVOC UI into giving me hospitalization, positivity, fatalities, and above all vaccination, besides case count nationally and in the Big States. I’ll mess around more with them during the week to improve them. I think the new UI will allow me to integrate more data series legibly, especially vaccination.

Vaccination by region:

The South is the national champion for vaccination, so far.

Case count by United States region:

Big states (New York, Florida, Texas, California):

Oh, California!

Test positivity:

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.

Hospitalization:

Big jump in Northeast hospitalization, but perhaps its reporting. Hospitalization is 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 (plus deaths):

Fatality rate looking a little better, though still not as good as two months ago.

* * *

NY: “New York state will open Covid vaccinations to everyone 65 and over, Gov. Cuomo says” [CNBC]. “Cuomo said further expanding to those 65 and older will open the eligibility to about 7 million people, but the state is only receiving about 300,000 doses per week… Cuomo said the state is still dealing with a ‘drip, drip, drip from the faucet of federal dosage availability,’ which is inhibiting the state’s ability to vaccinate people. The federal government has been withholding more than half of all available vaccine doses to ensure that there’s enough for second booster shots needed to achieve maximum immunity. But the Trump administration will announce Tuesday that the government will begin distributing those doses to states, a senior administration official told CNBC.” • Oy. Pouring more water into a clogged sink doesn’t unclog it. We’re looking at a last mile problem, not a supply problem. That would be the better problem to have!

OR: “Oregon COVID-19 cases creep upward, raising questions about post-holiday surge” [OregonLive]. “Oregon reported 1,225 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday, part of a trend of increasing cases that started in the week after Christmas. The rolling seven-day average of new cases stood at 898 on Dec. 30. But it has increased slightly — to an average of 1,032 on Sunday — raising questions of whether holiday travel and indoor celebrations are the culprit that’s nudging numbers up. State officials haven’t officially declared a ‘post-holiday surge’ is underway, but they do say coronavirus transmission had been ‘decreased dramatically’ between late November and mid-December before starting an upward trajectory.”

Politics

“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

Inaugural

“Troops Flood a Rattled Washington Ahead of the Biden Inauguration” [New York Times]. “Law enforcement authorities, responding to threats of violence before the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, will deploy up to 15,000 National Guard troops to the nation’s capital and set up checkpoints in the city to avoid the botched response that helped rioters overrun the Capitol last week. Sixteen groups — some of them armed and most of them hard-line supporters of President Trump — have registered to stage protests in Washington, prompting deep concern among federal officials about an event that has historically been a packed celebration of American democracy. … Despite the increasing alarm, Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee said he was determined to make an outdoor appearance at the event to call on a divided nation to come together at a time of political and public health crisis. The inauguration’s theme is ‘America United. Mr. Biden also plans to visit Arlington National Cemetery with three former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — adding another challenge for federal law enforcement authorities…. Fliers circulated in encrypted WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram groups over the weekend calling for an ‘armed march on Capitol Hill and all state capitols’ at noon Jan. 17. The fliers, which include the instruction to ‘come armed at your personal discretion,’ also appeared on the chat sites Gab and Parler, which have attracted far-right voices. Various local militia groups in states like Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan have posted calls on those platforms for their members to come out in force.” • Speaking of those fliers–

“Who Is Behind the Planned “Armed March on Capitol Hill” and Is It a Deep State Plot?” [Gateway Pundit]. I rarely look at right-wing sites, and this is not an impressive site or post. “For the record, these “armed protests” in the coming days ARE NOT sanctioned by the Trump Campaign. We are looking more into who is behind this movement.” • Then there’s a look at one of the flyers for the event, which includes the word “boogaloo.” “Are people really that stupid to put ‘boogaloo’ in their social media posts?” • Well, first, I don’t see why not, and second, clearly any intelligence behind this movement lies elsewhere.

“Trump declares state of emergency in DC ahead of Biden’s inauguration as police reveal three more plots to attack the Capitol – including the ‘largest armed protest to take place on American soil’ – as FBI warns of armed unrest in ALL 50 states” [Daily Mail]. “Donald Trump last night declared a state of emergency in Washington D.C. as police revealed three plots to attack the Capitol ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration – including the ‘largest armed protest in American history.’ It comes as the FBI alerted its staff to possible uprisings at capitols in all 50 states ahead of Inauguration Day, particularly if Trump is removed from office before Biden enters the White House. Trump’s declaration allows the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate with local authorities as Democrats had been furiously demanding.” • No detail on the three plots.

Capitol Seizure

“Director of Army Staff disputes Capitol Police chief account of National Guard deployment” [The Hill]. “Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, the director of the Army Staff, on Monday disputed former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s account of how and when the National Guard was deployed to assist with Wednesday’s Capitol riots, saying that he did not push back against calls for deployment. The top Army official contradicted what Sund told The Washington Post occurred on a conference call between officials. Piatt said that ‘as soon as’ Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy received the request from the Capitol Police to deploy the National Guard, ‘he ran to the Acting Secretary of Defense’s office to request approval.’…. Piatt said authorization to activate the National Guard came ‘approximately forty minutes after that call initiated,’ though the first National Guard personnel did not arrive on the scene until 5:40 p.m., after four of the five deaths amid the riot had already occurred.” • I think, in all of this, we need to remember that the press and the political class are players. They have same personnel and interests after the Capitol seizure as they did before, and that anything they say needs to be taken with a dose of salts. Hence I tried yesterday to get as much granular and on-the-ground information as I could.

“How Trump’s pied pipers rallied a faithful mob to the Capitol” [Reuters]. “Weeks before mobs besieged the Capitol building in Washington, a bright red bus crisscrossed the United States, emblazoned with a huge image of President Donald Trump in suit and tie with a clenched fist above his shoulder…. At more than 25 stops – in parking lots and airplane hangers in states including Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee – flight-attendant-turned-political-activist Amy Kremer and other speakers exhorted crowds to join her and others in Washington to fight for Trump and overturn the election. The story of how the pied-pipers of Trumpism enlisted supporters illustrates the dramatic evolution of Trump’s voters into an effective and well-financed network of activist groups. The crowds that rally organizers recruited were joined in Washington by more radical right-wing groups that have increasingly become a fixture at pro-Trump demonstrations – including white supremacists and devotees of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles and cannibals. Others among the diverse array of promoters for post-election Trump protests included a pillow magnate, a right-wing college students’ organization, the newly formed activist network Stop the Steal and an upstart broadcasting group begun by a stay-at-home dad who devoted himself to chronicling Trump rallies, according to a Reuters examination of disclosure records and interviews with protest organizers.” And: “Many in the crowd of thousands took that fight to the Capitol Police with far more than fiery rhetoric, battling officers with a makeshift arsenal that included metal pipes, wooden poles with embedded nails, aluminum baseball bats, a hockey stick, a wooden door ripped off its hinges, and a coffee table, according to Reuters photographers at the scene and other videos posted online. One American flag waver bludgeoned an officer repeatedly with the flagpole as fellow rioters dragged the cop from the building and down a set of outside steps.” • This is the best aggregation of detail I have yet seen.

“Yes, It Was a Coup Attempt. Here’s Why.” [Fiona Hill, Politico]. “I’ve been studying authoritarian regimes for three decades, and I know the signs of a coup when I see them. Technically, what Trump attempted is what’s known as a ‘self-coup.’ Nicolas Maduro perpetrated a self-coup in Venezuela after losing the 2017 elections…. There’s a standard coup “checklist” analysts use to evaluate coups, and we can use it to assess Trump’s moves to prevent the peaceful transfer of executive power. To successfully usurp or hold power, you need to control the military and paramilitary units, communications, the judiciary, government institutions, and the legislature; and mobilize popular support.” • Hill then systemically goes through the checklist and demonstrates that all of her items are hypotheticals. Honestly, if Hill had been handling some Ukrainian coupsters, and one of them stole the Legislature’s lectern and put it on eBay, she’d be off the fascist coup desk permanently. I don’t mean to minimize the event, just to point out that when a national security goon wants to apply her goonish priors to domestic politics, a hermeneutic of suspicion is well-warranted. I note also that Hill does not have a job with the Biden administration.

“What Just Happened?” [Patrick Wyman, Perspectives]. Key point: “The same cast of characters will show up again and again. This ties directly into the last point: The people involved don’t go away afterward. They stick around, becoming key cogs in the next thing, and the thing after that…. People with experience in the last thing usually take part in the next. That’s one of the key takeaways from my fellow history podcaster Mike Duncan’s lovely book The Storm Before the Storm, on the opening phases of the downfall of the Roman Republic: It’s the same people, over and over again. Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus, the three members of the First Triumvirate, were all heavily involved in the prior round of civil wars and disturbances; Crassus led troops for Sulla, Pompey first gained fame as Sulla’s “teenaged butcher,” and Marius, Sulla’s great rival, was Caesar’s uncle. Old grudges carried forward; one line crossed led to another, from the executions of senators to massacres in Rome itself, until finally only the Rubicon was left. We know what happened next…. The only thing that matters now is whether we allow this to become normal, part of the cost of doing business, or whether we re-draw the lines to emphasize that it’s completely unacceptable. If violent extremists want to be violent extremists, they’ll find ways, but we can make those would attempt to benefit from their violence pay the price for their allegiance…. If there’s a lesson to draw from history here, it’s that only consequences – visible and serious consequences – will contain the damage.” • As Ritholtz points out:

Just maybe we shouldn’t have given Hitler a Space Force and more Pentagon money that he asked for. #JustSaying…

* * *

Here are a few ill-formed thoughts on the Capitol seizure and its aftermath.

First, I think the essential question is not “Is this a coup?” but “Is this a fascist inflection point?” Scholar of Fascism Robert Paxton proposes five stages: “(1) the initial creation of fascist movements; (2) their rooting as parties in a political system; (3) the acquisition of power; (4) the exercise of power; and, finally, in the longer term, (5) radicalization or entropy.” We might regard the Capitol seizure as a botched — first? — attempt as a transition between stages (2) and (3). (I do not agree with the definition of fascism as the merger of corporations and the state, because in the ruling class the two are always merged; Gramsci urges that the state and civil society can be seperated only as objects of study. Janine Wedel would agree. I also do not agree that fascism is a European phenomenon; in fact, I think that fascism originated in the post-Civil War South.)

Paxton regards “a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants” as an essential aspect of fascism. I do not think that can be said to be the case today, but the presence of police and lower-ranking military personnel at every level of the Capitol seizure is very, very concerning. (Of course, these “militants” do not have the scale of the defeated troops of the Central Powers who came home after the war and formed paramilitary groups after World War I; or the defeated Confederate soldiers who formed the KKK.)

In my view, therefore, the absolute strategic priority to preserve the Republic would be making sure that a body of “nationalist militants” is never allowed to form. (I should say that I don’t know how to prevent this, at least today; the only present-day parallel I can think of, which may be apocryphal, is when Yassir Arafat sponsored an intelligence operation to defang his (male) militant wing by getting them married and settled down. A more typical American solution would be to throw money at them; if Ashli Babbitt’s business had succeeded she might be alive today. I doubt means-tested tax breaks would do the trick, though.) That said, it isn’t clear to me that the liberal Democrat wing currently in the ascendance has the strategic or operational capability to do this.

Strategically, the overwhelming desire — lust is not to strong a word — of liberal Democrats is to separate themselves from Republicans in the manner of taboo; hence the tactics of moralizing, punishing, shunning, shaming, the emotions of disgust, hatred, and fear, and so forth. (I admit that Republicans not masking when both parties were trapped together for hours in a closed room, which led to Jayapal becoming infected with Covid, is indeed something to be ashamed of.) The same applies to deplatforming them (though the noble efforts of Silicon Valley no doubt have more to do with the change in administration than anything else). The difficulty with a taboo that separates liberal Democrats from conservatives (modulo the pathetic Never Trumpers) is that conservatives will become even more homogenous in terms of both ideology and tactics. Hitherto, the militant right — which I am identifying, rightly or wrongly, with the militias and the Bundy types — has been marked by an almost Protestant-level of schisms and fragmentation. The liberal Democrat shaming and shunning strategy seems almost guaranteed to unify the militias with each other, and them with the conservative mainstream, creating “a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants,” which, for all its faults, today’s Republican Party is not.

Operationally, there is an overwhelming cry by liberal Democrats that Capitol seizure participants — who conservatives will surely come to regard as proxies for themselves if they do not already — be hunted down and punished. That’s fine, I suppose, for those who took selfies of themselves — why? — breaking the law, but how does it scale? Quis custodiet ipses? How do liberal Democrats invoke the police power of the State against militants when police officers, in many cases, are those militants? Perhaps through the intelligence community and the press, as with RussiaGate? Perhaps through leveraging the platforms? Perhaps through financialization? The liberal Democrat lust to punish and their ability to do so seems out of synch, particularly if “committed nationalist militants” are targeting a mass of millions of Trump voters.

I don’t know. Readers, thoughts?

Transition from Trump

“Trump defends remarks before Capitol riots, calling them ‘totally appropriate'” [The Hill]. “President Trump on Tuesday said his remarks to supporters just before they stormed the U.S. Capitol last week were ‘totally appropriate,’ even as they have become the basis for an article of impeachment against him. ‘They’ve analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence, and everybody, to the T, thought it was totally appropriate,’ Trump told reporters as he departed Joint Base Andrews to visit the border with Mexico.” • We had vetting. We had the best vetting.

“Trump dropped by biggest lender Deutsche Bank for future business: NYT” [Reuters]. “Deutsche Bank will not do business in the future with U.S. President Donald Trump or his companies in the wake of his supporters’ assault on the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times reported.”

Transition to Biden

“Sanders to wield gavel as gatekeeper for key Biden proposals” [The Hill]. “As Budget chair, Sanders will have the opportunity to shape each reconciliation bill. He addressed that new role on Tuesday. ‘In the past, Republicans used budget reconciliation to pass massive tax breaks for the rich and large corporations with a simple majority vote,’ Sanders tweeted. ‘As the incoming Chairman of the Budget Committee, I will fight to use the same process to boldly address the needs of working families.'” • “Fight to,” ugh. Plus, Sanders and Manchin, a marriage made in heaven. Nevertheless, better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish.

“Biden’s Covid vaccine distribution plan still in flux days before inauguration” [CNN]. “One source close to Biden’s Covid task force and privy to the team’s planning said a number of different ideas to accomplish mass vaccination are being discussed, though those plans remain in flux. The source said even with a lot more aid from the federal government, individual states would still call the shots depending on each of its vaccination needs and how they choose to utilize the serves of the government. Private pharmacies would also continue to have a large role to play, that source said. Some of the challenges on that front include simply having enough medical personnel on site to observe patients for 15 to 30 minutes after they’ve been vaccinated, which requires a lot of manpower and physical space. Biden’s publicly stated goal of getting 100 million shots done in his first 100 days in office is seen as “doable,” this source said, but will require the federal government, individual states and private companies to work together seamlessly — a dynamic that currently does not exist now, they said.”

“Anna Wintour on the Kamala Harris Cover” [New York Times]. “[WINTOUR:] And the picture was taken by a wonderful young photographer, Tyler Mitchell, who had previously photographed Beyonce for us, and also a wildly successful December cover of Harry Styles. And he had the wonderful idea of putting her in front of the colors of her sorority, which are sort of like a pink and a green. And she’s standing in a black pantsuit, and a white t-shirt, and sneakers. [INTERVIEWER:]

Is this her clothing? These are her own clothes? [WINTOUR:] Yes, and she looks fantastic.” • This is Obama’s tan suit, but from liberals. Personally, I don’t see why Harris wasn’t in a police uniform, holding a truncheon and dangling some handcuffs, but I don’t wish to substitute my own editorial judgment for Wintour’s. Anyhow, a thread on this important controversy:

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.

Small Business Optimism: “December 2020 Small Business Optimism Drops Below Index Average in December” [Econintersect]. “The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index declined 5.5 points in December to 95.9, falling below the average Index value since 1973 of 98. Nine of the 10 Index components declined and only one improved. Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months declined 24 points to a net negative 16%…. Said NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg: “This month’s drop in small business optimism is historically very large, and most of the decline was due to the outlook of sales and business conditions in 2021. Small businesses are concerned about potential new economic policy in the new administration and the increased spread of COVID-19 that is causing renewed government-mandated business closures across the nation.”

* * *

Bitcoin: “Bitcoin Rebounds While Leaving Everyone in Dark on True Worth” [Bloomberg]. “The digital coin rose 4.9% to $35,616 as of 11:30 a.m. in London, following yesterday’s 11% slide. The latest bout of roller-coaster volatility recalls past boom and bust cycles including the 2017 bubble, and has investors debating whether this is a healthy correction or the end of the latest bull run for cryptocurrencies.” • True worth, um…

Tech: “The pandemic proved that ‘the PC is essential’: HP executive” [Yahoo Finance]. “The coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people around the world to turn their living rooms into their new offices. And one of the biggest beneficiaries of this transformation has been the PC market. According to Canalys, the PC market grew by a whopping 25% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2020, with more than 90 million units shipped worldwide.” • Otherwise, this is product placement for HP. Yech!

Tech: “Spotify Bets Big on Podcasts as a Path to Profitability” [Bloomberg]. “In the past two years, Spotify has spent close to $900 million acquiring podcast production and technology companies. And it’s spent millions more on exclusive rights to shows from celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and TikTok star Addison Rae. Two of its most popular programs are comedian Joe Rogan’s The Joe Rogan Experience and The Michelle Obama Podcast, and Spotify expects new shows from Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, to put up big numbers, too.” • Those bloodsucking Silicon Valley ghouls are going to destroy podcasting exactly as they destroyed the blogosphere.

Manufacturing: “Boeing’s 2020 aircraft cancellations worst on record, despite December Max orders” [CNBC]. “Customers canceled orders for more than 650 planes last year. Boeing removed more than 1,000 planes from its backlog, taking into account orders it didn’t think would be fulfilled. That marked the worst year for net orders on record for the company, according to data from Teal Group, an aerospace consulting firm. Boeing delivered 157 planes in 2020, the fewest since 1984, according to Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group.”

Mr. Market: “Wall Street Visionaries Provide Chilling Views on Next Big Risk” [Bloomberg]. Goldman Sachs: Cybersecurity. Bridgewater Associates: Displacement of the workforce. Two Sigma Investments: “We may be building a world that is not particularly designed for humans.”

Leading Indicator: “Carnival expects 2021 loss but says 2022 bookings are strong” [ABC]. “Carnival Corp. said Monday its 2022 cruise bookings are running ahead of 2019 numbers, a good sign that guests will return once the pandemic has eased…. The company is confident customers will return as it slowly ramps up business. As of Dec. 20, bookings for the second half of 2021 were within historical ranges despite minimal advertising and marketing, Carnival said.” • So cruise cancellations would be something a bear would look at.

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 65 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jan 12 at 12:16pm.

Health Care

Handy guide to the naming convention for proteins, a thread:

“What sunspots are whispering about covid-19?” [Medical Hypotheses]. “Several studies point to the antimicrobial effects of ELF electromagnetic fields. Such fields have accompanied life from the very beginning, and it is possible that they played a significant role in its emergence and evolution. However, the literature on the biological effects of ELF electromagnetic fields is controversial, and we still lack an understanding of the complex mechanisms that make such effects, observed in many experiments, possible. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how fragile we are in the face of powerful processes operating in the biosphere. We believe that understanding the role of ELF electromagnetic fields in regulating the biosphere is important in our fight against Covid-19, and research in this direction should be intensified.” • I’m putting this out here as a marker and only because its peer-reviewed (and not, because I really am a trusting soul, as a honeypot for 5G speculation now that comments have returned).

Our school systems really don’t seem to be anti-fragile:

“Infection control theatre” is a keeper. Something to bring up at your local school board….

The Biosphere

“Apollo astronauts left their poop on the moon. We gotta go back for that shit.” [Vox]. “[T]he bigger human footprint on the moon is, arguably, the 96 bags of human waste left behind by the six Apollo missions that landed there…. Around 50 percent of [the fecal] mass is made up of bacteria, representing some of the 1,000-plus species of microbes that live in your gut. In a piece of poop lives a whole wondrous ecosystem…. With the Apollo 11 moon landing, we took microbial life on Earth to the most extreme environment it has ever been in. Which means the human feces — along with bags of urine, food waste, vomit, and other waste in the bags, which also might contain microbial life — on the moon represents a natural, though unintended, experiment. The question the experiment will answer: How resilient is life in the face of the brutal environment of the moon?”

“Tech companies aren’t doing enough to keep their devices out of landfills, and neither are we” [CNBC]. “”Smartphones and tablets are challenging,” John Shegerian, CEO of ERI says. ‘Many of them are no longer made with screws; they’re made with glue. Glue makes things very hard to take apart and recover materials from because it degrades the value of the commodity product itself.’ About 6.9 million metric tons of e-waste was produced in the US alone in 2019, according to Global E-Waste Monitor, a research group that tracks electronic waste. That’s about the same weight as 19 Empire State Buildings. Of that, only about 15% was collected for recycling. And some of the minerals and metals being thrown away with our e-waste aren’t just valuable; they’re toxic. Creating a phone that stayed relevant for four or five years instead of one or two could make a huge difference.” • 

Screening Room

“Matrix analysis (1): Battery” [Marxian Matrix]. “This publication is called the Marxian Matrix and I thought it would be a great idea that we start by a precise analysis of the Wachowskis’ Matrix. After watching the movies again for the purposes of this analysis, I have come to believe that it is not only a great idea, but an indispensable stop on the path of our inquiry into the present structure of social relations. This first part and the next three that follow are, as it were, arguments for this indispensability.” • From 2018, which does not affect its germane nature.

Class Warfare

Innovation:

News of the Wired

I don’t want to pitch for this guy’s store….

… but perhaps the idea springs out of the zeitgeist now (“no idea why I drew this”) with the realization that the platforms can deplatform anybody at any time, arbitrarily (“If your politics depends on a platform, you don’t have a politics”). But that’s not true for good ol’ print which, after all, worked very well for the Bolsheviks….

And I like Fetterman, but he’s getting too much press lately. Still:

Butter Gritty is shlock, totally (i.e., not kitsch).

Words to live by:

However, interesting things happen when you transfer these maxims to the realm of the political class….

* * *

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 (SE):

SE writes: “Take your pick–trees or moss! Taken in the woods of West Virginia.”

* * *

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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.

277 comments

        1. JTMcPhee

          Nothing in the “Transition Integrity Project” document about “election fraud,” of course, even though there’s this lip service: “Focus on readiness in the states, providing political support for a complete and accurate count.” I guess, of course, for some definition of complete and accurate count. See, e.g., Nevada and Iowa Dem primaries, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/11/democrat-primary-elections-need-reform and Ohio and Georgia voter suppression, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/14/us/politics/ohio-voter-purge.html and https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/12/georgia-republicans-are-going-all-in-on-voter-suppression

          It’s been interesting to watch the Narrative manufacturing the consent in favor of Biden the Silent and the demonization of Trump. Now McConnell is even kicking him, as he gets downed by the Narrative, “purging him from the Republican Party.” No insurgents allowed by the powers that be, anywhere in the political space. Back to locking it all down, with new oppressive legislation and new powers for the state security apparatus and new faces at the Ministry of Truth…

          We so very much want it to be settled, back to normalcy in the hands of the adults in the room, and back to sleep… the Biden admin will make it all good again, remember how good we had it back in 2015…

          Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Well, yes . . . and – Clinton was even more objectivelier horribler. Is there even yet a lesson in that?

              Reply
            2. Massinissa

              You can pretty much say that about every president in the last 70 years or so.

              Pretty much everyone on NC dislike Trump, but a lot of us are also wary of TDS.

              Reply
  1. Arizona Slim

    Horns are honking in Tucson. Nurses protesting short staffing. Hospital administration not amused. Link:

    https://www.kold.com/2021/01/12/carondelet-health-network-disapproves-car-honking-event-outside-hospitals-amid-covid-case-surge/

    Up in Phoenix, our governor delivers his State of the State speech. Link:

    https://www.kgun9.com/news/state/gov-ducey-pushes-in-person-learning-during-state-of-the-state

    Meanwhile, teachers and our Superintendent of Education are appalled. And speaking out.

    Reply
    1. mnm

      Carondelet is either part of HCA or Tenet chain. Even before covid they short staff and don’t have supplies. I am presently working at a facility that is in a for profit chain, same here. They provide such a limited amount of PPE that some just don’t bother wearing it, bosses wonder why their staff is all sick.
      I will wear a laundry bag before going without, can’t afford to get sick. PPE gowns are essentially garbage bags anyway

      Reply
    2. chris

      I still have family in AZ. I know a lot of teachers there. I got a great education while growing up in Tucson. I don’t agree with everything Ducey says by any stretch but he’s right about the schools. And that’s a problem. There are going to be a lot of hard decisions to make soon with respect to schools.

      Virtual learning is failing a lot of families in our community in Maryland, as you’d expect because we have a lot of studies like this one that show iPads and chrome books aren’t great for education to begin with and you need special training to help incorporate them into your teaching style. I expect our experience is similar to many others. To do this right, you need to help students who don’t have this tech at home to overcome their procedural memory and help them shift to this new style of learning and doing work. And, it’s no small feat to make sure every kid has one of these tools. Lots of families are sharing one chrome book for multiple students and schools haven’t been able to provide enough for all students in many districts. All that assumes that WiFi access isn’t a problem, that you have a parent home to help walk students and sometimes teachers through IT difficulties, that you can help your student navigate the maze of apps that have been purchased to help teacher manage their assignments, etc. etc.

      In short, this is a nightmare with multiple dimensions to it.

      If we decide that school isn’t safe for kids right now then we should shut it down, wait out the period of this increased transmission, and then restart when things are safer. What we have now is demonstrably awful and creating an unequal mess. I hate that answer because I want our schools open NOW. But with union resistance to doing anything different we might as well give up. There’s not going to be any public school this year where I live.

      Reply
      1. Massinissa

        “If we decide that school isn’t safe for kids right now then we should shut it down, wait out the period of this increased transmission, and then restart when things are safer.”

        I mean, even putting the systemic problems with opening schools aside, it may take quite awhile for this period of increased transmission to stop. It wouldn’t entirely surprise me if we end up still fighting this worsened strain months from now, especially if the vaccination roll out continues to be such a disaster. Just saying, I don’t believe this is something that can be solved in a month or two, so it isn’t just the dysfunction of school systems that will keep opening schools again very difficult.

        Reply
  2. ambrit

    Querry: Are locally themed anecdotes about covid related conditions still legitimate subjects for comments?
    I went to my GP yesterday for the semi-annual check-up and talked to her about covid effects locally.
    1) The local hospitals are still running full out at maximum capacity. No “official” triage program in place at present.
    2) She, a GP MD, just had her first mRNA vaccine shot two days ago. She looked as if she had been side swiped by the proverbial truck. She was noticeably “weak” and moving slower than is her usual wont. Her private philosophy was that she should get the vaccine as part of her profession’s duty to ‘protect’ their patients in the long run. She was aware of the ‘thin’ history of mRNA vaccines but was being stoic about the risks. “I’d still rather take my chances with the vaccine than Covid. I’ve seen some things lately you wouldn’t believe” was her argument. (I am lucky to have a GP who is willing to argue, and not instantly demand unconditional ‘obedience.’)
    3) The best public ‘messaging’ about vaccine related issues I have encountered have been on, of all things, the Nextdoor e-mail “community” ‘app.’ That source laid out the State of Mississippi program. The State agency involved seems to have an in-house team that works these sorts of ‘media.’
    3A) The app says that there are still vaccine doses available locally, as in the immediate metropolitan area, and roughly how many doses will be available per day going forward. The preferred populations the vaccine doses are ‘reserved’ for at the present are: medical professionals, “first responders,” and those over the age of 75.
    Life goes on.
    Stay safe!

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Are locally themed anecdotes about covid related conditions still legitimate subjects for comments?

      We encourage them. Reports from the ground are always good, especially after private equity killed off local newspapers.

      Reply
      1. drexciya

        Well let me try to give you a bit of cheer in the US, by noting how awful the roll-out in The Netherlands is:
        – Hugo de Jonge, the responsible minister, was most likely counting on the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which was postponed. This has been covered here previously (issues with the trials).
        – So they weren’t properly prepared for the first two “approved” vaccines. (FAIL 1) This is also caused by the involvement of multiple official organizations in the process.
        – Next up, we got lots of discussion and attempts to “pull the strings”, to get group A or B vaccinated first. (FAIL 2) So, eventually, the vaccine is now being applied for the elderly and their caregivers, but some people have been trying to get into the queue as well. There’s even a word for that, which has been trending on Dutch Twitter; “vaccinvoordringers”.
        – Because there has been a mixed reception concerning the vaccines, and the people who are supposed to get vaccinated, this hasn’t been a smooth process at all. So it will take quite some time to get people vaccinated. We’re really at the bottom when it comes to the vaccination progress in Europe.

        As for me, I will be waiting for the GSK-Sanofi vaccine, which, as far as I know, seems to be the closest thing to a classic vaccine. I’m rather wary of the more experimental vaccines.

        Reply
    2. Yves Smith

      Yes, reader anecdotes on any topic related to news or established themes like US medical care being an exercise in rent extraction or crapification are very much welcome.

      Reply
      1. boots

        I got my first dose in KY today at the hospital where I work. Missed it last time around and was so mad I wrote the CEO.

        Splitting headache, nausea, fever, enlarged lymph nodes,,sharp pain in my upper back teeth bilaterally. Been in bed with the lights out since my spouse dragged me off the couch and helped me out of my clothes.

        The CEO said today that we’d had no vaccination reactions after almost 200 shots. That’s great! What that means is no anaphylactic allergic reactions during our 15 min post shot observation period or reported to workmans comp later.

        However I’m sure I’m sure I’m not the only person with a working immune system and boy is it working right now. Working way harder than it does after my annual flu vaccine.

        It was in our gym with sign ups every 15 mins. 2 pages of CDC paperwork at the first table, staffed by one person, 2 vaccination stations, staffed with one nurse each, and recliners with egg timers on the arms for the 15 min observation. Facing the armchairs were our chief nursing officer and second in command with laptops. Give one of them your paperwork and they enter it into a national vaccination database. Then go home with a card printed off from the CDC with the second dose date.

        With 5 staff, we gave a little over 200 doses in 4 days. They won’t be vaccinating our families, though.

        Reply
        1. paintedjaguar

          Not very helpful info when you don’t specify the type of vaccine you took. Yeah, I might guess correctly but…

          Reply
    3. IM Doc

      Hello All! – Good to be back. I really appreciate the thinking that goes along with reading comments here and it has been greatly missed.

      Here in our shire, only about half the health care workers took the shots. This came as a complete surprise to the hospital admin. Many were very angry. No shots wasted here – the elderly got the rest. I think in the Pfizer vials there was an extra dose in each one.

      The first round of shots went fairly smoothly. Not so, the second round. Had one cardiac event that led to a head wound on the way down. All is well – that person is OK. Office was inundated for the next day or two with fever/chills, headaches, weakness and all types of flu like complaints. Everyone seemed to be doing well after a few days – however, in my life I have never seen lymph nodes like this on patients. Certainly nothing like any other vaccines.

      Curiously, have already had 2 patients COVID positive after the 2nd shot. Clearly, that happened in the trials in the second shots – but seems to be a bit more than expected.

      This physician will not be seen on social media taking the shot. When asked by patients if I have – they are nicely informed that I will not be taking a vaccine right now because I am following the advice of science and not the talking heads on TV. We have a very limited supply, and will for the foreseeable future. It should be our number one goal to keep people out of hospital and not dying. While there is a supply issue I will insist that all vaccines go to those in high risk groups. My cohort has an extremely low chance of being in the hospital. I will wait until vaccine supply issues are not a problem. We must unclog our hospitals first.

      Have really missed you all –

      Reply
      1. kareninca

        Thank you for your posts.

        My mom is in CT; she had surgery last month but is doing fine. Yesterday her visiting nurse, a woman in her 50s from a fancy town in CT (whom my mom, being a small town type herself, thought of as ritzy) said that she did not intend to be vaccinated. She was not convinced of the safety of the vaccines.

        Reply
    4. Ronald Grissman

      There is in fact no ‘GP’, boarded certified specialist in America. For most patients they see, for primary care an ‘internist’ or family doctors (which is a much harder certification).

      Reply
      1. rtah100

        This sounds intriguing but, as ever looking into US healthcare from outside, I feel I need a translator. What does it mean, in career / industry structure terms?

        What is a boarded certified specialist? How can a general practitioner be a specialist? Is an “internist” a consulting speciality in itself rather than an alternative track?

        Can you unpack your comment a bit, please, Ronald?

        Reply
      2. ambrit

        You have me at a disadvantage sir. I believed that I was following proper usage. Do enlighten me, seriously. Language can be a slippery beastie at the best of times.
        Should the placement have been MD before GP?
        Your humble and obedient servant;
        Simplicius

        Reply
        1. IM Doc

          I will try to explain.

          Internal medicine is a specialty in medicine – 3 years of training after medical school. Has changed somewhat over the years – but in general- trained to take care of sicker patients with multiple medical issues. They also see people in the hospital – but even that has been changed in the past 10 years. This 3 year training must be completed by anyone doing any of the subspecialty training programs – cardiology, GI, ID, etc. Dr. House was a general internist as was Dr. Marcus Welby.

          Family practice – is a specialty mainly for outpatient care of all ages including peds. There was a time, especially in rural medicine where they did minor surgery and OB procedures – but that has largely passed us by. They are not as thoroughly trained in very sick care.

          GP – or general practitioners – really have disappeared – and the new graduates that do this now are often a bit shady as far as their training. In general, this means that someone has done JUST an internship – not a full residency to specialize in internal medicine or family practice. This was very common generations ago – but no longer is. The ones that do this here in the USA are either very old, or new grads with problems – usually drug related.

          When people say GP in America – they are usually referring to a PCP – and that is almost always a family practice doc or a general internist.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Thank you for taking the time to help. A lot of what people think is current practice is really a ‘memory’ of days gone bye. That was the case with me and the GP nomenclature.
            So, I should properly use PCP to refer to my medica. (Do Latin ‘tags’ have to follow the gender rules of proper Latin in general use?)

            Reply
            1. rtah100

              Interesting – thank you taking the trouble to explain, IM Doc.

              UK training has two tracks: you specialise in “hospital medicine”, with a view to becoming a consultant (as either a surgeon or a physician) or you train in general practice (which these days has a range of specialisation possible, e.g. geriatric, paediatric, sports medicine, diabetes management etc. but most GP’s are just GP’s). There is still a widespread view that people choosing to be a GP is choosing to quit hospital medicine.

              The terms “primary care physician” and “family doctor” have no currency – the former is just a formal description of a GP and the latter is just an informal synonym. The phrase “internist” is also unheard of – indeed, I am not sure that “internal medicine” has any meaning in the UK either, I have never seen it used to describe hospital departments etc. but it might be used in academic medicine as a category.

              It is certainly not clear to me what the point of a GP is in the UK, other than as a gatekeeper, given you only get a 10 minute consultation and, in many GP practices, not with your named doctor but whoever is on duty with a free slot!

              The only population sectors who benefit from regular primary care are pregnant women and infants (but the health visitor scheme of domicilary healthcare by specialist nurses is falling apart) and people with chronic conditions (diabetes, emphysema). Anybody in the “generally healthy” category is a low priority, which is crazy for preventative medicine.

              Reply
    5. notabanker

      I saw my PCP last week for this first time in a while. At the end, I asked how he was doing, generally, and he volunteered that he had just taken the first shot. He has no issues with it. I asked him if it was the mRNA version, and he said yes. Further went on to say that “they” had gene sequenced the virus in January 2020 and had developed the vaccine over a weekend.

      Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not saying this is fact, but it is most certainly a fact that he volunteered this info to me in casual conversation.

      Reply
      1. IM Doc

        This is largely true. He forgot to tell you the part where they discussed this over a few drinks in a bar and started their work on a napkin. I am trying to find the link with this story – but no luck as of yet. If I find it I will post.

        Reply
        1. Michaelmas

          Further went on to say that “they” had gene sequenced the virus in January 2020 and had developed the vaccine over a weekend …I’m not saying this is fact

          Sure it’s fact. Slightly misunderstood in your version ….

          [1] The “they” who sequenced the virus were scientists over in China, who then sent the sequence over the internet so the scientists at Moderna could build the coronavirus in silico, then build a vaccine for it the same way.

          Presumably, a little later Moderna would have synthesized the virus and vaccine in vivo to make sure the real things matched the computer models. Very easily done — it’s not a big virus.

          [2] This sort of thing has been routine biotech for (at least) 15-18 years now.

          That’s why I’m a little sceptical about stories featuring accidental escape of a COV19 ‘gain-of-function’ model from the Wuhan lab, which is supposedly one of the most advanced labs on the planet. It’s possible, I grant, and certainly that sort of thing happened in the 1980s. But biotech capabilities and working methods between then and now have changed utterly.

          [3] As regards the over-the-weekend part, yes — that’s the point about mRNA vaccines. They’re meant to provide a very flexible chassis for any kind of vaccine.

          Moderna’s original business model was that it was going to build cancer vaccines i.e. personalized medicine on an expensive individual basis; a given cancer patient would have their tumor cells sequenced and this would then be the basis for building an individual-specific mRNA vaccine for that cancer.

          So it would have been an obvious thing to apply the technology to COV19

          Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    It was a week of tumult since we’ve last exchanged thoughts which allows time for reflection in an old fashioned way about a newfangled Pandora’s Box being opened, when you might’ve been anticipating Time Magazine’s take on something that happened a week before, as it was a respected journal with longevity on it’s side-which welcomed opinions of past events & reporting in following editions, but with the proviso that your name and city you lived in would be published, and Time had the right to print your words, a portion thereof or none at all. You had no say in the matter of what you wanted to say aside from the hope your opinion would resonate in such a way to impart importance by being published. If memory serves, the opinion page was just that, 1 page out of say 87 in the weekly. The proportion seems opposite now in blogs that don’t bother in an anything goes manner, such as Zero Hedge where the crazy is strong like bull.

    Everything that happened @ The Great Skedaddle #2 coming 8 score after the first-a decidedly different Battle of Bull Run Amok, was on account of Gresham’s Law applied to opinions that magically became truth online, and when lack of reason forces out reasoned thinking by shouting louder and playing dress-up with facts & a peril, it wins even though it represents a scintilla of supporters making a spectacle out of themselves, garnering 15 minutes of infamy in the bargain.

    We’re lucky to have a place like Naked Capitalism where a melange of critical thinkers from very varied lives hang out and can play an important impart, lets not wreck that privilege.

    Reply
    1. fwe'theewell

      I’m sorry, I still don’t know what the peril was, so if that could be clarified, that’d be great. I highly doubt the Bernie-sheepdog issue is what you’re talking about here. If I, for example, did some thing so egregious, please send me the dreaded email because I’m still in the dark. Thanks.

      Reply
      1. fwe'theewell

        I stand by my assertions and can provide sources. “Dress-up” is a gendered term and this comment section is riddled with similar bias and micro-aggression in favor of white men. Just because idpol won’t save us doesn’t mean this behavior is ok.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          That is utter crap and I am tired of people fabricating grounds for offense.

          Even back in the stone ages of the 1980s, on Wall Street, men would talk about “dress up” and “dressing up” when they had to wear black or white tie. The fact that dress up events are much less common for men than women (most of whom see any date as a requirement or excuse for “dress up”) does not mean the phenomenon is uniquely female. I have continued to hear straight and gay men in New York use that term for needing to wear their best attire to fundraisers, for instance.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Yves, I feel your pain.

            ‘Tragic ComicCon’ was about the players looking the part, playing dress-up for the occasion, be it male or female.

            Reply
  4. Lex

    I can identify by sight all the birds that frequent our feeders and their calls, so I know who’s there even when I can’t see them. When I listen to the recorded sounds of birds here, I like to think there about other people, other where in the world who step out of their doors and think, ‘sounds like a pipit’, and file it away as they continue to gather information about the natural world around them. There’s peace and comfort in that….

    … unlike a photo of a Cambodian bullfrog that at first glance looked like an unhoused tortoise….. talk about your cognitive dissonance!

    Reply
  5. Amfortas the hippie

    wow.
    i’ve really missed y’all,lol.
    some things i’ve been obsessing over today:(all from centerish righty places no less)
    https://hotair.com/archives/allahpundit/2021/01/11/no-really-trump-still-charge/

    https://thebulwark.com/were-in-an-extraconstitutional-limbo/

    https://thebulwark.com/the-political-context-of-the-assault-on-the-capitol/

    what a fascinating time to be alive.
    add in very few press conferences and other assorted official updates, and it’s pretty scary how much we still don’t know about the current situation. “Extraconstitutional crisis”.

    I’ve directed my bunch to stay on the farm as much as possible.

    and look!:https://twitter.com/KyleBiedermann/status/1347564052281774080

    state rep from just down the road…i’ve been to his hardware store a couple of times…doesn’t seem remarkably crazy in person(for rural Texas, at least)

    —–
    and, for those who are wondering, wife skated through a “mild case” of covid, with symptoms that were indistinguishable from our normal january allergies, with a brief flirtation with an 100 degree fever. Her and youngest are now cleared to be released into the wild, their quarantine period over.
    eldest has another week of quarantine, due to his last possible exposure.
    i tested negative, but my last “:exposure” was wife’s last day of quarantine…yesterday. I can get tested again next monday.
    along with our exceptional cold weather…and a second round of snow(another 4″)…and the pain this kind of weather gives me, this has been a hell of a week or two…i was a nervous wreck even before the magabillies went nuts.

    and on that, aside from the aclu argument, banning all those idiots from twitter has just made them harder to surveill…Parler looked too much like an FBI honeypot,lol…and i’m reluctant to try setting up duckblinds on telegraph or gag or whatever, since i don’t understand the tech.
    Ergo,i have no idea what my trumper neighbors are thinking about right now…all my usual sources report a studied quiet.
    …and what little i’ve been in town since the election confirms this: nothing to overhear, because nobody’s talking about this stuff in public spaces.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Thanks for the update! It sounds like the Amfortas clan is on the mend.

      Oh, you’ve inspired me to do something here in Tucson. I’ve set up a duckblind on our local Nextdoor group. Other than the usual flurry of lost pet posts, I’m seeing a lot of people noting the appearance of new homeless camps in the central part of our city. Some are quite concerned about criminal activity that could be associated with these camps, while others are asking for compassion toward those who are less fortunate.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        We are seeing the same phenomenon here concerning Nextdoor.
        Querries about “gunshots heard” or “suspicious characters,” are on the increase. Warnings about petty thefts and ‘stalkings’ are also on the rise. I have seen several posts on Nextdoor about strangers peering in windows or trying outside doors recently.
        What is worrying about this is that the past year has seen a significant “upgunning” of the population. People are afraid, and more and more resorting to the “comfort” of ‘blue steel’ to allay their fears. Add this to desperate people trying to ‘push the envelope’ on “private property,” and you have another recipe for disaster.
        You would be surprised at the number of people, at least around here, who have ARs and AKs in the hall closet.
        The general consensus “on the street” is that the homeless camps are getting bigger.

        Reply
        1. Dan

          Hello guys and welcome back Lambert and Yves. Hopefully recreated by some time off.

          Same thing here on Nextdoor S.F. Actual crime already ridiculously high compared to years ago; 36,000 car break ins in 2018 with 6 convictions, fewer now with no tourists and few commuters, but increasing in severity. Example: In the best neighborhood of the city, a young woman had her French poodle ripped out of her arms by a guy who aimed a gun at her and then smashed her in the face. She was targeted because of the dog.
          https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/San-Francisco-woman-robbed-of-dog-assaulted-at-15854195.php

          “San Francisco police stopped releasing the mug shots as part of an effort to stop perpetuating racial stereotypes, the city’s police chief announced”
          https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/san-fransisco-police-halt-release-most-mug-shots-effort-stop-n1232692

          Reply
        2. Mason

          I volunteered at the biggest food bank in the state for about a month, there was a small homeless camp not too far by since it has the local shelters and showers. It maybe quadrupled in size through 2020. I’ll check again.

          There is a drug house tucked further in my neighborhood. It’s always been a nuisance but I listened to a neighbor complain that she called 911 like 70+ times the past year. Plenty of shootings now. Someone wanted to start a arcade near my place but got shot and killed infront of the store.

          It’s not looking good. I’m taking EMT classes… self defense… maybe go to the shooting range for the first time. I’m not screwin’ around. My prepper tendencies started February last year and it’s just escalated since then.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Agree about the “prepper” tendencies. Now, when the subject comes up, being called a ‘prepper’ is no longer an insult.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              If I ever venture out these days i’m wearing Sperry Topsiders sans socks, tan Dockers and a turquoise Izod shirt with the sleeves of a sweater in a soft neutral shade drooping over my shoulders to form somewhat of an X.

              I agree, the sooner you learn how to be a preppy, the more ready you’ll be when things get weird and you might have to wear the same ensemble repeatedly?

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Don’t forget to have those copies of National Lampoon and the New Yorker tastefully laid out on the coffee table for guests to peruse.

                Reply
    2. Pat

      So glad to hear that your wife “skated” through. Will keep you and yours in the good thoughts space.

      I am worried about the censorship and the drive underground. Despite the celebration of many around me, I see the responses to the riot as putting an infected bandage on a wound. No good is going to come from it.

      Reply
    3. jr

      Good to hear your family is on the mend Amfortas, and hello NC, it’s good to be back. I was also thinking that it’s going to be harder to track the loons now that they are being chased off every platform. It will be >very< interesting and perhaps even useful to see how they adapt to this. They won’t be the last voices de-platformed in the coming months and years.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        pretty much agree with your assessment…”the absolute strategic priority to preserve the Republic would be making sure that a body of “nationalist militants” is never allowed to form.”.
        what i get from watching these people up close for most of my life…as well as 7-8 years fulltime watching them online, during late Bush2 and into Teaparty time…is that this is exactly what’s been happening. all this started with the GOP/Big Bidness getting tired of being unable to win elections…the specific turning point in my view of the history is Weyrich, Viggarie(sp-2) and Phillips in the lobby of the St Louis Hojo with a napkin plan to use Roe v Wade and general fear and loathing of the Youth Culture to gin up a stay behind army to vote for republicans.
        as with the early versions of the Militia Movement(starting in my part of east texas in the late 70’s), sometimes, a handful here or there of the true believers get too big for their britches and embarrass the grand poobah class.
        and there’s a cocaine/heroin aspect, too….as in this shallow but broad movement building* builds up tolerance, and the hit must get bigger each iteration. (*shallow as in: a simplistic bumpersticker economic plan, and etc.)
        i was paying close attention to my neighbors, online and off, when the teaparty was conjured into existence…this mess is just the next step up to a more powerful heroin hit….the poobah’s have always been playing with fire with all this.

        when i finally emerge from quarantine/hibernation, my ears will be wide open in the feedstore, hardware store, auction barn, etc.

        one thing…purely personal…that i’ve been angry about since wednesday, is that a bunch of the insurrectionist clowns looked a lot like me…bearded, hairy, unkempt.
        But i’ve always been this way…but this very type of person is very much akin to the rednecks that chased me with baseball bats for having “long hair”, back in the day.
        i was similarly angry with the duck dynasty people,lol.|
        of course, from the mug shots starting to appear, they grew it all out for this event, and then went home and shaved.

        Reply
        1. Glen

          I agree with all of the above, and am actually becoming distressed with the response. I am not excusing violence, but I am very concerned that just like in 2008, we are going to let the people that CAUSED this whole mess get away with it?

          Reply
        2. Nick Crowley

          My opinion(just talking here).
          These people do these things based off of a true or false sense of “oppression”. Of course some people who showed up probably didn’t think it would go as far as it did and backed off. I’m talking the real hard liners here. The ones who planned to attack. These are the ones that somebody like the FBI infiltrates and breaks up. Get arrests, thus preventing the ability to own guns. People like this will always be around but you want to keep them grumbling on their couch with an ankle bracelet, not rallying by the thousands.

          I think if social media didn’t exist for these people the numbers and organization wouldn’t exist.

          And back to the “oppression”. I am worried for the future as figureheads like Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk are ginning up the college kids by the thousands. Then a percentage of these college kids graduate with huge debt, don’t get jobs and look to somebody, anybody to blame.

          Reply
    4. Halcyon

      I’m very happy to hear that you are all doing well, with good wishes for continued good health.

      As for the Republic, its health looking slightly less rude at the moment. But the 6th was a big date for them to rally around. The next one is the inauguration. That would be the obvious time for alertness.

      There are the .win forums / fever swamps which are open access and a pretty good guide to what the collective MAGAs are thinking at any given time. Enter at your own risk!

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      Good to hear that you and your family came through OK. I guess that mean that your sons can be back in the game as far as going out to the local community again – at least for awhile.

      Reply
    6. freedomny

      So glad to hear you and your family are doing well!

      This banning of ppl off of platforms is really concerning…as is the enthusiasm from corporate Democrats to add even “more” surveillance laws on top of what came after 9/11. This can only lead to additional privacy issues and gov/corporate censorship. I’d personally like more public enthusiasm for breaking up Facebook, Google, YouTube and turning Twitter into a public utility….

      Reply
    7. Daryl

      Glad to hear your family made it through, my friend. Hope you don’t test positive either, keep us posted.

      I am still perhaps naively clinging to the hope that I can make it to getting a working vaccine, but things are getting pretty out of hand here.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    My dad had endured the jackboot thuggery of the Nazis & the Soviets and he emigrated to this country right in the middle of McCarthyism-1952. He told me it shook him so in that here he thought he left it all behind, and first and foremost greeting him upon arrival was fear, which is the main ingredient when cooking up disorder in a society.

    The new McCarthyism doesn’t so much rhyme but curiously has the same name, sinister methods and purpose. All of its tendrils need to go, these elected exhibitionist seditionists in our midst. My Congressman is but one of many roots in need of hacking.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      And if the majority of his constituents don’t want to hack? Hack them?

      As for the specter of McCarthyism, I’d say that is a bipartisan affair although aimed rightward at the moment. If Twitter gets to decide it’s only a matter of time before this blog you are praising winds up in the cross hairs.

      What the country really needs is a giant calmative, as Mary Hartman used to say. Trump will soon be gone and we can turn to more important things.

      BTW speaking of divisive figures, Sheldon Adelson has shuffled off. That might be a big blow to the Trump faction right there.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Adelson’s death is interesting. Without him, what kind of funding will pro-Likud operations actually get? I don’t expect policy changes, but without pressure, I can see Israel being dropped as an issue. I don’t think its a blow to movement conservatives in the US, but without dedicated funding, will they keep the message discipline?

        Reply
    2. JBird4049

      Wukchumni,

      Lately, I keep having flashes of Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son I haven’t been giving too much thought as while my mind does try to tell me things by tricks like that, it’s often hard to know what it means or if it’s it just heartburn. But it has been gently whacking me upside my head for a few weeks. Months? Just very briefly in my line of sight as if it was right in front of me.

      “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?” One side of my family also had some fun with the FBI back then. Funny, it was usually on the suspicion of thinking bad thoughts or who you associated with sometimes decades in the past. For these “crimes” you were only able to escape by abject apologizing and by snitching on other; the snitched were not necessarily guilty of anything, but just convenient sacrifices. The list of the guilty just kept on growing. This cancerous list of Fellow Travelers ate gays, lesbians, union organizers, and civil rights activists. The vulnerable and the troublesome. Those convenient nails crushed by virtue signaling’s hammer.

      Just as thousands of people were destroyed so that monsters like Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn could gain political power and wealth. All done in living memory, which makes this current BS not only scary thing to be avoided, but an obvious tool to be used as well.

      That is why I believe that not ideology, but looking for those either in the fear of the mob or hunger for power, game, and wealth are what should be looked at to find the who and the what. Those of us with actual beliefs, whatever they may be, are Grade A Prime beef for them. And as the fear, despair desperation, as well as the struggle for power increases expect the real bloodshed to start.

      Maybe we’ll see Red Shirts or Silver Shirts as political uniforms as has happened in the United States in the past? Has anyone heard of anything like it being suggested or even done today? Am I losing it for even thinking it a realistic possibility even in the near future?

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’ve been expecting it since i was a teenager in the 80’s…and watched them run up to the line, and pull back…generally coincident with a republican entering the white house.
        from Patrick Wyman’s thing:
        “When you look at these pictures, the most striking thing is how normal the people in the crowd look. They’re just everyday folks. Sometimes they’re even smiling.

        As much as we’d like to think that terrible actions demand an equally terrible frame of mind, that’s not the case. These people went on about their lives afterward. They went back to work, back to their homes. Their children went back to school. They voted in elections, married, had children, and passed on their values. ”

        during my Wild Years, living in the van throughout Dixie(89-94?), my running buddy…who was only as racist as prison had made him…and i were at a store in west lake charles, where he had grown up.
        old high school buddy of his shows up and we help him load up kegs…HS buddy says “free beer, hop in”…and away we went, to a big field in the middle of nowhere louisiana.
        took us a while to figure out it was a frelling Klan rally. Both of us were appalled, and extremely nervous, but
        we were stuck…so we stayed by the beer truck and watched.
        ordinary people…not ravening monsters…by all appearances.
        but they were very enthusiastic about the yelling and the rhetoric, and when the cross burned, and the hoods came off, and everyone wandered to their trucks, we expected interrogation…or stink-eye at the very least…instead,there was a look of post-orgasmia….smiling blissfully…even beatifically…emotions spent, and unit cohesion regenerated.
        serves the same social purpose as an orgia or a rave…and there was a large helping of that last wednesday.

        this comes right out of the tent revivals and camp meetings of the fundy/evang/charismatic portions of american christiandom.

        Wyman also points out, earlier, that this keeps recurring, and they go further every time…just a bit.
        This feels more leap-ish, to me, than last time.
        I’m in strictly Listening Mode for the foreseeable future when i venture into town.
        New New Deal Evangelising in indefinitely on hold.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Seeing smiles of the people standing around a charred human being that they had just lynched is also disturbing. The unreality of it makes horror difficult. People smiling and posing for a photograph: the remains of a human being still smoking in front of them. You can see such Americana if you look on the internet. I have read that some have children standing in similar pictures as if it were a lark, a fun thing to do having been brought by their families.

          Amazing isn’t what people will say if they think you are one of “them?” I have always accepted the idea of the Good Germans being capable of the various genocides. After all, almost nobody had to do any such murders especially of whole towns and villages even if you were posted to an Einsatzgruppen (death squad). They would usually let you stand to the side or have something alcoholic. Yet, more often than not, the average soldier would do his “duty.” Then there were the local neighbors… and Jews were the majority, or six of the eleven million murdered in the same actions. Poles, Slavs in general, teachers, government official, lesbians and gays,Romani, political dissidents, the physically and mentally disabled. Anybody really.

          Makes me have not much faith in the people right now. That I have any is due to the times when good, brave people and even saints arose, but they are notable because they are rarer than we would like.

          Reply
          1. drexciya

            The World War 2 YouTube channel has a special set of reports named the War on Humanity, and one very nasty detail, is that the inhabitants, in some of the conquered lands, happily cooperated with the Nazi’s. Romania as well as the Baltic States also took part in the rounding up and killing of Jews.

            The current setting up of people against each other, and denouncing the other group, and refusing to see them as equals is pretty scary, and in situations of crisis, this might lead to some very bad outcomes.

            Reply
        2. ambrit

          True about what Hannah Arendt famously called “the banality of evil” in her book on Eichman.
          I went to what I have been told was the last public cross burning in Louisiana, up in Walker Louisiana, near Baton Rouge. The sheer ordinariness of the people there was the surprise. When I met and talked to David Duke back then, he came across as a garden variety political opportunist.
          The perverse communitarian spirit of these movements seems to be the hook that catches and then holds on to the crowds.
          I personally have known several long hair Klansmen. H—, the entire Country Outlaw ethos reeks of less than savoury ideas.
          I don’t feel too endangered here yet, but I will take your admonition to heart and start running in ‘hull down’ mode.
          Stay safe.

          Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Hypocrisy is the right word.

          That Roy Cohn was gay was common knowledge. Heck, he had young men delivered to him, if he hadn’t picked up his own sex partner, at his home most nights when he was a powerbroker or
          in the government.

          However, he was part of the Club. The same club as today where those that matter are protected and always fail upwards; at the time some gay or lesbian governmental office clerk is threatened with ruin if they don’t tattle about other “deviants” by, IIRC, the FBI or some other agency. Him dying of AIDS, abandoned by everyone, was excellent karma.

          That today’s Club is trying to impeach Trump in record time shows how scared they are. They are trying to throw him out of the Club.

          Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      What is noteworthy about this McCarthyism is the fact that it will be more politically correct McCarthyism. In the Duck Dynasty Raid on Capital Hill there was one guy that was described variously as Viking Guy, Viking Dude, Man in Horned Hat, Viking Man but nowhere have I read of who this guy was actually dressing as. The main stream media refused to go there due perhaps to “cultural sensitivities” but here is a page that might give a hint-

      https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/448108231651933567/

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I thought he resembled a Georgia O’Keeffe painting come to life, a genuine specimen of the see me-dig me school.

        Reply
      2. rtah100

        There was one article in which he was being condemned for cultural appropriation of Native American dress. Cannot find one, vaguely remember the denunciation was from a woman named Theresa (?).

        Reply
  7. Mikel

    Listening to the alarm of global leaders over Big Tech’s censorship policies, one gets the feeling they are more concerned than ever about the global dominance of those companies.

    Reply
  8. Ranger Rick

    Impeachment part two: electric boogaloo. Now with even more hair-pulling, elbow-jabbing and wailing. This is it, the home stretch before Inauguration, and instead of feeling an intense sensation of chastisement that the American public would elect Donald Trump of all people to the highest office in the country, the political class is worried they won’t be able to mount his head on their wall. Bush v. Gore was just a sign of the times, I guess: elections are so close now that accusations of impropriety are just a matter of course — and people believe them. I can only imagine the deep dives that will be written after this about the “most scrutinized election in US history” and what it says about the public’s confidence in the electoral system.

    Not to go completely into la-la land, but when I think back on the US history I was taught in public school, we got maybe two examples of times when elections were publicly, visibly influenced: the tale of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed, and the origins of Bleeding Kansas. Watergate was still too recent to be taught (the “50 years before it’s history” rule, I guess). Further examples were completely absent from the books and discussion. The popular idea that the vote is being manipulated has to come from somewhere, and somewhere far more recent than 19th century politics. The election in 2000 is the place to start looking, I think.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      all this obviously unhinged arble garble about, from what i can tell, non-existent election manipulation and skullduggery, is sure gonna be handy in the next few democratic primary seasons.
      “Bernie=Trump, Trump=Evil, therefore, Bernie= Evil”.
      easy as cake.

      what i think will be interesting is whether the GOP similarly messes with it’s primaries.(that they allowed a little democracy is how we got trump, after all).

      as far as what dems want…let alone what gop wants….and let alone what that thing behind both of them wants…it’s still too early to tell.
      as i’ve said, trump has been a 4 year Cold-911….if not Lihopped, then accepted and built upon.

      Reply
      1. Tom Stone

        I do not consider ANY election where E Voting or E tabulating takes place to be legitimate.
        None of the systems that have emerged are secure, some are utterly trivial to hack and some are connected to the internet when their descriptive literature states explicitly that they are not.
        There are only two reasons to use these systems and machines.
        1) Fraud.
        2) Graft.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i agree totally…but practically all of the whinging i’ve seen from right wingers for months…from trump on down…has been about ballots…not papertrailless computer BMD’s.
          i’ve wondered about this, off and on….but never tried to chase it down.
          even the yelling about Dominioon wasn’t about the code or the impenetrable black box machines…but the truckloads of paper ballots and boxes under tables of paper ballots, and ballots in the trash, in the creek, in the dumpster….
          it’s as if the entire RW echo chamber just overlooked that other part of it…the part that’s harder to understand if you’re a plumber or a real estate agent or own some non-tech small business….which was apparently the target audience.

          Reply
          1. drexciya

            If they were really serious (and the GOP isn’t), they would make a strong case for paper ballots. In The Netherlands, electronic voting systems were more or less forbidden somewhere around 2007, after hackers (old school Hacktic people) showed how poorly secured these devices are.

            It’s unfortunate that Trump didn’t have some useful people around him, who can convince him of this type of measure. He completely dropped the ball on Big Tech as well, and now he is suffering because of it.

            Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The popular idea that the vote is being manipulated has to come from somewhere, and somewhere far more recent than 19th century politics. The election in 2000 is the place to start looking, I think.

      Bush’s lawyer’s were far better than Trump’s.

      Reply
      1. Howard Beale IV

        Trump’s lawyers is like 1 win (and a minor one at that) to 63 brutal losses – and many of the judges and defense attorneys are filing Show Cause motion to sanction and/or disbar Trump-associated attorneys in these suits.

        Reply
      2. edmondo

        Part of the issue with “real votes” in Pennsylvania at least is that the PA Supreme Court made changes to the absentee voting law that the PA legislature refused to do. Because of the pandemic, PA Democrats got the SC to do what the legislature refused to do. Not a lawyer, but the state constitution says the legislature is the only one who determines voting law. Oh and the Dems used that excuse to get the Greens kicked off the ballot.

        I guess which side you come down on is determined by your Red/Blue dichotomy. Personally I am amazed that anyone showed up to vote for either one of these chuckleheads.

        Reply
        1. marym

          There have been 16 post-election cases in PA, so maybe my reply doesn’t address the one to which you refer, but if it’s Kelly v. PA, the expansion of absentee voting case that Hawley has cited in his participation in the Republican attempt to disenfranchise PA voters:

          The Trump team argued that the law passed by the Republican-led legislature with Republican support in 10/2019 was unconstitutional under the PA state constitution. The PA SC dismissed the petition to discard the ballots because the suit wasn’t brought until more than a year after the law was passed, and after voters had voted in good faith according to the law in 2020 in both the June PA primary and the general election.

          The plaintiffs have appealed to the USSC, which yesterday declined the request to expedite this and several other cases filed by Trump/allies.

          PA SC order: https://www.democracydocket.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2020/11/68MAP2020pco-104617959120808426.pdf

          All PA cases: https://www.democracydocket.com/state/pennsylvania/?by_case_type=post-election

          https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/11/supreme-court-refuses-quick-action-on-trump-election-lawsuits.html

          Reply
        2. John

          In 1960 the vote in Illinois and Texas was questioned at the time and since. I always understood that it seemed more than likely that “the graveyard” voted in Chicago and that Lyndon “influenced ” the vote in Texas. Never really investigated much less proven as far as I know. If I remember correctly, Nixon did not challenge Illinois because the southern part of the state was as dodgy on his behalf as Chicago was for Kennedy. Perhaps the nickname ‘Landslide Lyndon” and that 87 vote triumph over Coke Stevenson had something to do with the suspicions.

          Reply
      3. Chromex

        Te American public voted AGAINST Trump in both elections. Our founding fathers in their less-than-infinite wisdom, decided to instill an undemocratic system instead of whoever gets the majority wins. This can continue to happen until the EC is abolished. Yet not a whisper of abolishing same have I hear lately.
        I am not sanguine about either Hilary or Gore ( do not get me wrong I did not vote for Trump) but the matter of fact is that, however close the margin, these candidates were preferred by the majority of voters and the majority of voters did not get their wish. I find all this prattle about our democratic system amusing. We have a profoundly UNdemocratic system. Trump is exhibit A in why that is perhaps not a great idea.

        Reply
        1. John Wright

          But remember that HRC’s popular voting margin over Trump came from winning California by such a large margin.

          The totals of the other 49 states favored Trump.

          And after an adult lifetime in politics, HRC seemed not to know about electoral college math,

          So a great many people voted against HRC, if California’s count is removed.

          As has been remarked in NC before, Trump was a reaction to what the Democrats had on offer with HRC.

          I’d like to see candidates who can win with reasonable margins BECAUSE they offer something of value to the American voter other than “vote for me, I’m not as bad as the other guy”

          Enter Joe Biden, who like HRC, has a record of warmongering, financial industry favoritism, elite protection and family first dealing.

          I agree that we have an undemocratic system but for the reason that a well functioning democratic system would elevate quality candidates.

          The USA’s system fails at offering good candidates to the voters, which I view as “profoundly UNdemocratic”

          Reply
          1. Basil Pesto

            So a great many people voted against HRC, if California’s count is removed.

            What is the point of this observation? If me auntie had bollocks she’d be me uncle.

            That HRC’s campaign cocked up in part due to inadequately strategising by failing to properly account for the electoral college is not an argument one way or the other for the political/democratic merit or otherwise of the electoral college system, unless you are a very rabid anti-Hilary partisan.

            Reply
        2. Procopius

          This can continue to happen until the EC is abolished. Yet not a whisper of abolishing same have I hear lately.

          Whenever I see this sentiment, I wonder if the writer realizes that the EC can only be abolished by constitutional amendment or by a new constitution. I’m terrified by the thought of a new constitutional convention, given the passion of the crazy people. Even if it was possible to abolish the electoral college by statute, I don’t think it would be possible in today’s atmosphere. After all, they can’t even abolish the filibuster in the Senate, and that only needs fifty Senators plus the vice president.

          Reply
      4. ronnie mitchell

        Ted Cruz was one of the lawyers during the recount.
        “The long, messy, aborted recount of votes in Florida in the 2000 election — and the U.S. Supreme Court’s last-minute intervention — was a big moment in U.S. politics. It was also a big moment in the life and career of Ted Cruz, a 29-year-old policy adviser to George W. Bush’s campaign who was sent to help out the Bush legal team in Tallahassee.”

        https://theweek.com/speedreads/601379/ted-cruz-part-george-w-bushs-2000-florida-recount-team-bush-called-theodore

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i wrote to ted cruz while the insurrection circus was still ongoing:
          “Reptile,
          stop this madness.
          After 40 years of gop trying to disenfranchise everyone they didn’t like, for y’all to suddenly discover an abiding love for democracy is the height of hypocrisy.
          And the results of the last few weeks of the orange babyman yelling about stolen elections….and people(sic) like you doing nothing but egging it on…should be apparent, by now.
          Just look out the window(and in the halls) of the people’s house.
          Your “objection” this morning was gross pandering to those monsters….you guys shot the hog full of meth with the tea party, and rode it around for a while.
          Now it’s loose.
          Cease and desist…and please…retire from public life.
          Find a nice sunny rock to sun on.
          Just go away.
          You and your ilk make me ashamed to be an American and a Texan.”

          he hasn’t replied, as yet.

          he was the popular choice during the gop primary out my way…i’ll be interested to learn how my neighbors feel about him these days(if i can figure out how to extract that info without them knowing…it’s a lot easier to find out such things when they are mad at both parties(circa:2014-2019))

          Reply
          1. JBird4049

            Considering that the membership of much of the Democratic Party switched to the Republican Party because of the “nightmare” of the Civil Rights Movement and the enticements of Richard M. Nixon’s Southern Strategy, you could suggest that the “Republicans” of today are the Dixiecrats of the past. Same people with different signage. So, 150 years of disenfranchisement rather than a mere 40.

            Reply
      5. Stephen the tech critic

        Maybe Trump’s lawyers weren’t trying to win. Trump wanted them to “do” something and was willing to pay them, so they filed a bunch of frivolous claims—election litigation theater?

        The problem with stronger claims is that they might make things look *worse* for Republicans. If I recall correctly, when Sidney Powell began raising doubts about the integrity of the Dominion machines, the Trump campaign practically disowned / canceled her. Why? If Republicans do habitually steal elections in various ways, the last thing they want to do is litigate for Trump in a way that would blow the cover on a bigger steal.

        This is all hypothetical of course. My understanding of the Dominion BMDs is that the information about the voter’s selections printed on the official/master copy of the ballot is obfuscated such that the voter cannot verify its accuracy. It is extremely difficult to definitively prevent computer systems from being tampered with by a determined hacker, and as the Solar Winds hack shows, it’s possible for widespread hacks to go undetected for several months, even as they impact numerous .gov agencies and Fortune 500 companies. It’s extremely ironic that, according to those “authoritative sources”, Russia hacked and/or otherwise interfered with our elections in 2016 but absolutely did not do so in 2020. Yet, the widespread SolarWinds infiltration by “the Russians” was not detected until after election 2020 is over.

        Perhaps I’m idealistic, but I believe there’s still opportunity to restore faith in the electoral system. I am very pleased to see NC advocating for Hand-Marked Paper Ballots Counted in Public. I wonder what it will take to “sell” this issue to citizens and maybe spearhead a massive public campaign organized around it. Even more than issues like health-care, I imagine that there ought to be almost universal public support for such a policy, *if* people can be adequately informed as to its benefits. This could be a positive and more peaceful way of harnessing the passions emerging from the 2020 election.

        Just to add: I imagine that for many people, fraudulent elections *are* justification for violence. I’m not endorsing this view but merely pointing out that if we can remove concerns about election fraud, we might substantially deescalate the situation.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Maybe Trump’s lawyers weren’t trying to win. Trump wanted them to “do” something and was willing to pay them, so they filed a bunch of frivolous claims—election litigation theater?

          I’ve considered this, that Trump was playing for time with the frivolous suits. But even a frivolous suit can be properly dressed up in legal form. (Also, a lot of the reporting was like Monty Python’s The Argument Clinic: “Yes it is!” “No it isn’t.” I never did encounter at the AP or institutional level a round-up of the claims, which seemed to be ruled out as frivolous a priori. In fact, the claims in the ones I was able to read were on the order of “Look at this YouTube!,” with the possible exception of PA, dismissed for laches not on the merits, if any.) But Bush’s arguments in Florida 2000 were bad, too. He just had superb lawyering. (Now that I think of it, the Supreme Court was in play in 2000, so of course every Federalist Society lawyer wanted to pitch in. Trump’s very success with the courts worked against him, then, ironically enough.) Trump had lousy lawyering.

          > My understanding of the Dominion BMDs is that the information about the voter’s selections printed on the official/master copy of the ballot is obfuscated such that the voter cannot verify its accuracy. It is extremely difficult to definitively prevent computer systems from being tampered with by a determined hacker, and as the Solar Winds hack shows

          You are correct. Powell of course polluted the case against BMDs with her cray cray and failure to genuinely master the material. (She did not, IIRC, demand to examine the source code.) Instead she created yarn diagrams, attractive to the Q types, but not helpful to her case. I would guess Powell’s cray cray was too much even for the Trump White House, and some relatively sane lawyer got her thrown under the bus. I also speculate that both parties are perfectly happy with a system that allows them to steal elections, and neither party wishes to be the first to disarm. I don’t think that drove the Trump campaign to disown her; it would be the RNC that worried about the nuts and bolts of election theft, not the Trump people, who don’t listen to the RNC.

          > I wonder what it will take to “sell” this issue to citizens

          I despair. I’m concerned that a “horns effect” is taking place, and the legitimacy of the 2020 election is being taken to mean that BMDs are also legitimate, and that anybody who attempts to question the system will be met with “You must love Trump,” even though we both know the technical case for hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public is irrefutable, as does anyone else who looks at the issue seriously.

          Reply
      6. Glen

        Much better lawyers. Three of the lawyers involved in the 2000 Florida recount are now on the SCOTUS:

        Roberts
        Kavanaugh
        Barrett

        Reply
  9. nippersmom

    “Trump dropped by biggest lender Deutsche Bank for future business”
    When you’ve lost Deutsche Bank…

    On another topic, I wonder if the higher number of vaccinations in the South is related to a higher percentage of older (thus eligible) population?

    Reply
    1. John Zelnicker

      @nippersmom
      January 12, 2021 at 3:08 pm
      ——-

      It’s been said that if you owe the bank $300,000 it’s your problem; if you owe the bank $300 million, it’s their problem.

      IIRC, Deutsche Bank was the one that forgave something like $400 million in casino debt for Trump many years ago.

      Reply
      1. Tvc15

        And from a July 2020 Reuters article, “Deutsche Bank will pay a $150 million fine from a New York regulator for allowing disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to make payments to Russian models and withdraw suspicious amounts of cash during five years as a client.

        Epstein was a Deutsche Bank client from August 2013 to December 2018, when the relationship ended after further negative press surfaced about his misconduct.

        The transactions processed by the German bank included payments to alleged accomplices, lawyers, victims, Russian models and women with Eastern European surnames, and “suspicious” cash withdrawals averaging $200,000 a year.”

        Apparently Deutsche Bank ignores one of the “3 C’s” of risk management…Character.

        Reply
  10. Zar

    According to the timeline in this NYT piece, as well as a couple other accounts I’ve seen, the Capitol Hill rioters started trickling in before 12:00 EST, and barricades started getting overrun around 1:00. Trump’s speech didn’t end until well after 1:00. (The last barricades went down around 2:10.)
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/01/12/us/capitol-mob-timeline.html

    This suggests a couple things to me:

    1. Some amount of advance planning went into the mob scene at the capitol, with people set to arrive both before and after Trump’s event. It clearly wasn’t purely a spur-of-the-moment reaction to Trump’s speech. So what was the plan exactly, and whose plan was it? (I’m sure there are many answers to both questions, but I’d appreciate a clearer picture of the organizers’ balance of influence over events.)

    2. This might complicate the picture presented at any votes, hearings, or trials called to censure Trump or remove him from office. Blame for the violence can be shifted to hardcore early-arrivers who couldn’t have been present for Trump’s speech, which is identified as the Official Call for Insurrection in the House’s resolution to kick Trump out:
    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/read-the-house-resolution-calling-on-pence-to-invoke-25th-amendment-to-remove-trump

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d appreciate a clearer picture of the organizers’ balance of influence over events

      That’s very good. Since the Capitol is over a mile away from the rally site, I pictured a sorting process, where some headed for the liquor stores and the hotel, and some (the more militant) headed for the Capitol, but clearly the timeline complicates that picture.

      Links to those “other accounts” would be appreciated, even if I do already have far too many.

      Reply
      1. Zar

        To be clear, I think the “sorting process” impression is accurate. It’s just that people arrived at the Capitol building at varying times, not all together.

        One of the articles I had in mind was a bust—I misrecalled the timing of the events described. Here’s the other, which describes a “sparse crowd” near the the capitol building at 9 am. Perhaps the same ones the start of the NYT timeline identifies as Proud Boys.
        https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/06/how-capitol-hill-riots-started-455654

        The Politico article continues by saying that marchers showed up at 2:00 to break down the barricades. The NYT article contradicts that slightly, saying that some marchers started at 12:15, ostensibly prompted by Trump saying “After this, we’re going to walk down…to the Capitol.” (More followed throughout the rally and after it ended.) An odd time to leave, but maybe they wanted to beat the traffic. Google Maps says they’d arrive around 12:45.

        And then there’s the rioter who came prepared to detain any stray senators he happened to find:
        https://www.cbsnews.com/news/capitol-riots-zip-ties-larry-brock-eric-munchel-arrested/

        Zip-ties aren’t standard rioter gear, to my knowledge. This guy planned ahead for a break-in, and he wasn’t disappointed.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Sorry to be the “dog in the manger” here, but what the “zip tie rioter” was kited out with comports with the load out a “prepper / survivalist” ‘aficionado’ would naturally carry as part of the “fetish experience.” For a sub-group of the present day counter-culture, being seen as ‘ready for anything’ would be felt to be a massive case of ‘virtue signaling.’ I have seen “state security ‘ride along’ cultists” so accoutered as a normal part of their ensemble. There is such a ‘thing’ as Disaster Porn, and an associated Cos-play milieu.
          We will not even get into “furrys” today.
          See, with appropriate adult supervision: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furry_convention

          Reply
        2. caucus99percenter

          On the other hand, as a sometime peruser of “build your own (possibly electric) mouse or rat trap” videos, I have seen many instances of do-it-yourselfers, especially Asian ones, using zip ties as cheap and easy, yet rat-proof, “install with your bare hands” fasteners to hold pieces of their creations together.

          So zip ties could well be in the category of lightweight “never know when they might come in handy,” Boy-Scout-motto “be prepared” type items that backpackers or people with a prepper mentality might carry around, with no malice aforethought. More evidence of bad intent is needed than mere presence of zip ties.

          Reply
    2. Amfortas the hippie

      the petit bourgeoisie foederati, and even the east texas beerjoint brigades and the angy grandma front ,were cover for the mercs.(single file platoon of Oathkeeprs, for instance)
      mercs, plausibly, were after heads and hostages.
      really wish we had a good C. Wright Mills analog, right about now, so we might approximate Cui Bono with a little less breathlessness and distraction.

      I wandered in what remains of easily accessible Rightyland this morning…eg: Comments on gateway pundit and thedonald.win, etc.
      threeway balance between angry despondency, what they’re calling “hopium”(usually with the rather cryptic Q references, notably) and a somewhat cleaned up version of “kill the libs”.

      sort of broad agreement that the fbi warnings and such are antifa false flags, and/or honeypots(lots of Winnie the Pooh references)
      also a lot more democratic and woke trolls than there used to be.
      Oh…and now Breitbart is a commie rag….so…you know…f&^k them…
      who knew?

      Reply
    3. Phillip Cross

      The ‘planning’ was all over social media, in plain sight, once Trump invited the possibility of a 1/6 protest on Twitter. I witnessed many high profile ‘conservatives’ saying words to the effect of “1/6 is our 1776 moment”. Trump retained plausible deniability in his messaging. The rabble rousing came from folks such as his lawyer Lin Wood, and other online “influencers”.

      That is to say, the protest and it’s intensity wasn’t in the least bit unexpected. The hand’s off response, and the knock on effects, makes me wonder if a spectacularly successful ‘rope a dope’ strategy was employed on the day?

      Reply
      1. Zar

        I agree, but that’s just my unfounded impression. I haven’t seen much in the news about it, beyond vague descriptions focused on Parler. I’m interested in how concrete and specific the plans were, and to what degree they were “professionally” organized.

        Reply
      2. Zar

        As for rope-a-doping, it’s an attractive theory. Hanlon’s razor can only go so far, after all. My first comment when I heard about the Capitol building getting stormed was that I couldn’t believe the police were so badly caught off guard.

        But first-hand accounts describe a near-miss–rioters would have come into contact with Senators if they weren’t led away at the last moment. That speaks against the riot being a controlled situation.
        https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/01/11/nation/capitol-police-officer-hailed-after-appearing-lead-rioters-away-unsecured-senate-chamber/

        So I suppose I wouldn’t point the finger at Democrats in particular. They might stand to gain from the present situation, but they stood to lose their heads.

        Reply
        1. Massinissa

          “So I suppose I wouldn’t point the finger at Democrats in particular. They might stand to gain from the present situation, but they stood to lose their heads.”

          I mean, to be fair, even the Republicans like Pence weren’t entirely safe here either. I find it doubtful the majority of congressman from either party had any idea it would be like this.

          On the other hand, its possible this was a PR stunt for something bigger in the next two weeks. I find that very doubtful, but not entirely impossible. Though to be fair I don’t think there’s any organization capable of masterminding any of this, so its not impossible that this could be just a freak occurrence. We shall see.

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            if the gop holds together*, Pence is toast after this. He was a pretend fringer any way, from early on. I always got the feeling that he was playing along, even during preteaparty days.
            that is certainly how the lumpencommentariat at gateway pundit, thedonald, etc see him, now.

            *there’s talk of forming a pure(!) third party, but it’s just random comments, so far…met with inchoate approval, but still random.
            these folks still think they’re running the show.
            all those shiny balls they’ve been chasing are Very Important,lol.

            Reply
            1. Massinissa

              “*there’s talk of forming a pure(!) third party, but it’s just random comments, so far…met with inchoate approval, but still random.”

              Er, who is talking about this? Random comments from the fringe right or the moderate right? Can’t tell if you’re implying some Republicans are recoiling from the influence of the fringe right or if its radicals thinking the mainstream Republican party is against them.

              Reply
              1. Amfortas the hippie

                the Fringe…in comments on GW pundit, etc.
                they’re busy cancelling everyone to the right of mo brooks.
                even breitbart.com.
                i figure that this is a good thing, on one level…since they will thereby move/be moved farther from actual power.
                it’s a bad thing, oth, in that Power resides more than ever in the Big Center.
                the Neoliberal Cult is the one that really matters….and that cult uses the right fringe as shock troops and as a tool to discipline the Real Left…not antifa/woke, but what bernie pointed towards.

                as someone mentioned, Hawley is in the toilet…but this mess is just the excuse. his real crime was working with bernie on real material benefits, and signing on to the niskasen wing of righty-ish labor.

                if i adjust my tinfoil, and stroke my prophet beard just so, i can almost see all this chaos as an end run around what had been growing in the weeds since Occupy.
                the Powers want a new cold war and a new, well spoken and likable Reagan analog…and i glean that the whole internecine cold civil war phase of legitimising themselves, while distracting us’n’s, has grown tiresome.
                the Center will go after the Right, now, in much the same way as they’ve gone after the Left for a century or more.
                The real left will still be targeted, but we’ll get a UBI, etc to mollify us…along with all the woke theater to keep us fighting with ourselves and the new righty pariah class.

                Reply
                1. neo-realist

                  I can’t imagine the center will go after the right as hard as the left. Not only does the center possess stronger ideological hate for the left, but their receipt of the benefits of big donor $$$ and post-political career perks is dependent on crushing the left. The center will smack the right on the wrist since it sees it as a potential voting block to cleave some votes off of to win elections (by positioning itself as anti-left), and expands their potential pool of donors to draw from, e.g., Koch Bros.

                  Reply
                2. drumlin woodchuckles

                  Wokecism only works on the political economy leftist when the racemailer can succeed in making the political economy leftist feel guilty for not being woke.

                  Once the political economy left learns to reject and revile wokecism, then individual p.e. leftists can begin to learn how to use the Vampire’s own tools to dismantle the Vampire’s own castle.

                  Perhaps it can start by being willing to say things like: ” I am not woke. And I am not your ally. And I never will be.”
                  and . . . . ” I will support reparations for Slavery when you support reparations for Strip Mining.”

                  When real leftist individuals become immune and indifferent to wokecist racemail, then they will be emotionally and psychologically free to build a real left wing community with wokecists and ally-demanders rigidly excluded from it.

                  Reply
                  1. Amfortas the hippie

                    “…free to build a real left wing community with wokecists and ally-demanders rigidly excluded from it….”
                    …which is when the fbi plants, and/or paramilitary death squads get rolled in.
                    “Political Economy Left”(+10) will not be allowed to get any foothold.
                    I agree that the PE Left is the most dangerous enemy…but the Fringe Right will likely get more than a smack on the wrist for a time.
                    In those Righty comments sections i’ve been perusing, economic grievances, and new dealish remedies, are at least mentioned…Q-Shaman’s post-riot interviews include reference to $600 checks being inadequate, too.
                    there’s anger at giant corp welfare, as well as a lack of domestic investment that would help the people…in righty flavored rhetoric, of course…lots of little things…”Hawleyish” things…that must be purged from that side of the lumpenproletariat.
                    These things aren’t prominent…but they’re there, and not being self-policed like beforetimes.
                    To me, these things represent the potential for L/R agreement…however unlikely…and this cannot be countenanced.

                    …and the inconsistency doesn’t matter…the fringy right calling biden a socialist, while calling for actual socialist adjacent things.
                    (like the collectively owned solar farm my local right has been talking about and even running for office on)

                    Reply
                    1. drumlin woodchuckles

                      Any wannabe re-emergent PE left will have to learn how to create a social cultural behavioral immune system for identifying, isolating and neutralizing any FBI cancer cells or AIDS viruses which are sent to infiltrate and disrupt that wannabe re-emergent PE left.

                      Many of those FBI cancer cells and AIDS viruses will come disguised as Coalition Of Wokeness ( COW) leftists because that is the perfect disguise. Rigidly excluding COW leftists from a PE left would deprive the FBI of that means of disguise.

        2. Phillip Cross

          As far as I could see, when the intruders got to the edge of the “rope-a-dope zone”, near to anyone “important”, they were given a choice of turning back or getting shot in the head.

          I don’t know if you saw what happened to the woman who was killed, but she decided to keep going, even though she had a gun pointed at her, and made about 6 inches of progress before she was shot dead.

          Reply
          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Yes, that was my read too. Kayfabe with a body count, but only about as bloody as what would ensue if, say, drunken fans of a losing NFL team tried storming the winners’ locker room in defiance of the local PD.

            Sam Kriss

            It’s funny in the way that the truth is always funny. Here is the bland citadel of American power, big white halls with mediocre paintings, men in breeches either firing muskets at each other or engaged in some lofty Enlightenment-era debate. The myth of America. And here, hooting and hollering as they ransack the place, are the Americans. This is the world you made: an army of corn-fed cretins, blasted in the face by digital media until their brains shrivelled into radioactive pebbles; churning flesh in the gears of the most advanced bureaucracy ever devised by man…. Not the wretched of the earth, but a new kind of lumpen. The rabble at the dead end of history, lost in a world that no longer needs their productive labour, or their folkways, or their lives….

            But what kind of Rome is Washington DC? To be honest, maybe it’s the same one. Philip K Dick got it: The Empire never ended.

            A single state, unevenly distributed in time. Storming out of the colonial lands to the west, far away from the traditional centres of civilisation. A ruling class that turns its genocidal conquests into a series of fun and fashionable diversions: foreign food, foreign décor, foreign clothes, foreign gods…. Slave plantations. A set of good solid decent civic virtues that always seem to have really existed somewhere in the past, however far back you go. (Or – and this is always a nice rhetorical trick – among the barbarians.) And that unique combination of brutality and silliness, entertainment and administration and death….

            Reply
    4. Dan

      Adam Schiff’s Anti-Domestic Terrorism bill failed in 2019.
      Aug 16, 2019. H.R. 4192 (116th). To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide for an offense for acts of terrorism occurring in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, and for other purposes.”
      (Like censoring and shutting down the internet?)

      How much you want to bet it’s resurrected post Inauguration Day, with the 100,000 “rioters” being the excuse? How’s that for planning?

      “In this letter to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, the ACLU urged Members to oppose H.R. 4192, Confronting the Threat of Domestic Terrorism Act. By reifying and broadening domestic terrorism authorities, H.R. 4192 would unnecessarily expand law enforcement authorities to target and discriminate against the very communities Congress is seeking to protect. The additional crimes, criminal penalties, and expansion of the death penalty in H.R. 4192 would further incorporate abusive terrorism authorities into a discriminatory criminal justice system.”
      https://www.aclu.org/letter/aclu-statement-opposing-hr-4192-confronting-threat-domestic-terrorism-act

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      At the time of the raid I immediately looked up the strength of the DC National Guard – it is 3,400 people – and wondered where they all were. But can you imagine if there were a team of professionals taking part in that raid instead of those clowns? Taking down DC police with silenced head shots, equipped with flash-bang and regular grenades, automatic rifles, working to blue prints of the building? It would have been a massacre. Even then, the DC Police helped those raiders as they helpfully pointed the way to Chuck Schumer’s office while slamming down a New York Times reporter and destroying her cameras. But it is not like the Capital Building has not had problems with violence in the past-

      https://www.history.com/news/us-capitol-building-violence-fires

      All I say is that it’s a good thing that the DC Police did not have a Broken Arrow Protocol-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctnK7wdJmAo

      Reply
  11. hunkerdown

    Huzzah! I hope it’s constructive for me to drop a Link in here that might be of particular interest to our gracious hosts: German FM proposes joint EU-US ‘Marshall Plan for Democracy’ following Capitol riot

    Germany? Marshall Fund? Surely that isn’t an oblique reference to the German Marshall Fund, one of the foundations behind the Atlantic Council, the neolibcon think tank that brought us (and particularly our gracious hosts) the ProPornOT scam. Surely Mr. Maas’ calls for “liberal democracy” and “unity” aren’t calls for the totalitarian censorship regime already in progress, under the supermanagerial reich Chaudhary and Chappe warned us about, as referenced a few times in Links since its publication (but no less germane). Shirley… (If I were Russia, I’d be pulling Nord Stream 2 right back out of the water starting yesterday.)

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Sorry, I do not have that information. However, whenever I have suggested that the “roll out” of the vaccines itself is the Phase III trials, I have had absolutely no push back or attempt to rebut my “joking” contention. This includes several medical professionals.
      The Zeitgeist is sullen now.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’ve talked to prolly 10-15 healthcare types in the last month, and always ask about the vaccine…and that aspect is usually brought up, by me or them.
        wife is ready to get it(moderna in whatever arbitrary health district we’re in), and i’m ready to let her.
        after our recent scare,I’m even thinking about it…in spite of my misgivings.
        about 1/3 of the above cohort has said they’re waiting for oxford or J&J/Jannsen….and fear of the quick rollout of relatively new and untested vaccine tech is the #1 reason.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Yeah, and I did notice the “putting off” the approval of the Oxford vaccine till mid year.
          Am I being more than usually cynical, (a very high bar,) or does that not pass the smell test?
          The big complication with everything related to the Dreaded Pathogen is the general lack of ‘solid’ evidence from which to make an informed judgment.
          I am coming to the opinion, (I have the ‘other thing’ too, of course,) is that all processes wherein politics is part of the decision making are, by definition, pseudo-scientific.
          Be safe all.

          Reply
        2. rtah100

          There was a post on the mRNA vaccines at In the Pipeline which had a fascinating discussion in the comments. I have been disquieted by the mRNA “First in man” vaccines and have resolved to get the Oxford vaccine, if at all. Now, finally, I can articulate a reason, which is that the mRNA is not localised to the tissues targeted by the virus (tropism). So there is the potential for systemic antigen expression and therefore for auto-immune disorders, on subsequent exposure (booster, infection etc). We’re not seeing it on the booster shots (unless that’s a very dark motivation for delaying them!) but who knows what active viral infection brings.

          https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2021/01/11/rna-vaccines-and-their-lipids

          Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            thanks for that!
            the nerd herd in that commentariat is breathtaking, and i feel a little less tinfoily for not trusting these 2 vaccines, and their too fast totalising acceptance imperative.

            reading through, it occurs to me that i only understand all that stuff in the same manner i understand lorenzian manifolds and spacetime…because i’ve been reading Scientific American for 40+ years.
            ie: well enough to muse about it under the Big Oak, or while driving, and arrive at a good enough conclusion.
            wife…and prolly 99.999% of the people i know IRL would stop reading at the first sentence….and i’m far too inexpert to provide them my usual hillbilly whisperer translations.
            with gravitational waves, this is unproblematic…but during a pandemic, and with all the purposeful sh^t in the waters of our collective understandings of things, it is problematic, indeed.
            thanks, again…and Derek is now bookmarked in a more easily rediscovered place.

            Reply
          2. drexciya

            I would recommend waiting for the GSK-Sanofi vaccine. That seems to be the closest to a classic vaccine. This was recommended by a Dutch expert on an alternative media channel. The official Dutch media are only cheer leading for any vaccine. He also noted that the current vaccines are not necessary for people who are not in a high risk group.

            Experts’ take on vaccines (with English subtitles)

            Reply
    2. Rock Hard

      I saw in the news that University of Colorado is beginning a phase 3 trial of something, though the article either didn’t mention which one or I’ve forgotten.

      Reply
      1. IM Doc

        I understand – and I may be incorrect – that they may be actually doing a trial on Ivermectin in the USA and I heard that it was in Colorado. Again – I am not certain I am remembering that correctly and it may not be correct.

        Reply
  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    Please refresh your browsers. I added more from my overwhelming store of Capitol seizure material, and also wrote a short essay on what is to be done (damned if I know, but not what is being done).

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      And this is the reaction to Joe Biden, who has already announced he hopes to save the GOP. I tend to think the overriding phenomenon in our zeitgeist especially among upper classes has been no accountability and what they think they can get away with. So you see it with the rioters last week. The handwringing among certain “liberal” types is to express befuddlement at how the rioters weren’t actual hillbillies. They couldn’t even complain about the “boat people” preferring to gripe about poor people and “slow learners” per Caitlin Flanagan.

      The efforts of movement conservatives to flood judgeships has been well publicized, but what is the rate of these people joining being promoted within the various security agencies? 171 House Republicans voted against the certification or their respective part of the process. This means 171 align with the rioters or are afraid enough of their local electorates represent a critical mass of people aligned with the rioters.

      Accountability is the easy answer, but what that looks like depends on where we are. I think we need to undo much of anything since “Department of Homeland Security” was first mentioned.

      Reply
    2. stefan

      The violent disruption of the Senate chamber at the US Capitol on January 6 during the lawful certification of the presidential election, a signal act in the customarily peaceful transfer of power, is an act of sedition pure and simple.

      Acts and statements prior to, during, or after to encourage, finance, facilitate, incite, guide, or abet a violent act of sedition are necessarily instances of seditious conspiracy.

      It may well be that those found to be participating in a seditious conspiracy in this instance ought to be treated with clemency. That remains to be decided after a thorough process of investigation and, where called for, court proceeding.

      Reply
    3. lyman alpha blob

      I thought this take from Kyle Kulinski was particularly good regarding what should be done with Trump. He advocates using the 14th Amendment and after to listening to the argument, I agree. It would bar Trump from ever running for public office again, and wouldn’t require any Republican assistance as passage requires a simple majority.

      I don’t think the public at large will stand for another impeachment – the Rising show has pointed out that while impeachment is favored highly by Democrats, overall it only comes in at 56% favorability as the vast majority of Republican voters are still opposed, and after the Dems ridiculous efforts earlier this year it isn’t hard to see why.

      It would also force the corporate media to talk about something other than Trump, as there will be no question about whether he’ll run again. After seeing emails leaked by wikileaks from the 2016 campaign where Clinton staffers discuss convincing their media contacts to promote Trump because he’d be easier for Hillary to beat (that still cracks me up!), I wonder if the politicos would be able to pull the trigger on that knowing the ratings would go right down the tubes for Maddow and Blitzer and their other media pals. So maybe they’ll go the impeachment route anyway, fail, and keep the gravy train rolling instead with everyone at each other’s throats and the door still open for another Trump run. Kaching!!

      Anyhoo, 14th amendment sounds pretty good to me for dealing with Trump – as to what to do with the larger issues you brought up, that’s a good question. I am far less worried about fascism coming from a bunch of guys in leather chaps and buffalo hats looking to take selfies (not that it isn’t a possibility) than I am from it coming from a confluence of Republicans joining the Democrat party in league with big tech and the security state. I probably don’t have to remind readers here of how many times Obama praised Reagan to the point where I took him at his word on that. One party with the corporations, spooks and military on their side is a lot more dangerous to the republic than the rump Republican party of loony tunes and some cops.

      Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    My buddy is a retired ex Federal LEO* who makes a living here teaching a required CCW class-in order to be permitted to hide their ambition. There’s maybe 100-200 CCW permits in LA & SF, versus tens of thousands here in the red bastion of the state, a weird dichotomy, but then again this area of the state was also partial to the CSA, when sentiment in San Francisco would have been 95% pro Union @ the time.

    I asked him who his clientele was the other day and he related:

    “My clientele is everyone. A few sessions ago it was all Hispanic and black younger people. That class was fantastic b/c they were so energetic. For the most part the permit seeker is an older demographic.

    Most come from the Valley where home invasions are a regular event. I’d say about 1 in 8 of my students has been the victim of a home invasion. Not an issue for the foothill people, generally.

    The bigger issue is they almost to a man and woman, refuse to wear masks. There is an allowance for this in the outdoor training but I tell them, “you want to carry a gun to protect yourself against a perceived threat? COVID is also a threat, statistically more of a threat than a use of force scenario. Consider wearing a mask.”

    I’m the only one out there ever wearing a mask.”

    I now get what what our no masks worn by the staff local restaurant is all about, the owner is offering a niche market for like minded maskless types-an odd selling point to be sure, but what loyal customers!

    * He’s very Covid wary, a friend who is an active LEO recently went through a bout of 10 days of hell with it in hospital.

    Reply
      1. Michaelmas

        LEO is law enforcement officer.

        CCW is probably ‘concealed carried weapon’ or something similar that i can’t be arsed to google.

        Less acronymized jargon would be preferable, I agree.

        Reply
          1. Kevin Carhart

            Plus I didn’t see anyone gloss “CSA” yet. That’s Confederate States of America, right Wukchumni? Kevin Phillips touches on this in _American Theocracy_ which I highly recommend.

            ” … San Francisco was Yankee-dominated … Confederate flags flew in Stockton, San Jose, Visalia, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino and Los Angeles … a short-lived training camp for Confederate recruits was set up in El Monte …”

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Yes, the Confederacy was favored in the CVBB (Central Valley Bible Belt).

              I apologize for all the achronimony i’ve caused.

              Reply
      2. RMO

        LEO = Law Enforcement Officer and CCW refers to the permit required to carry a concealed firearm in public.

        Seems odd going for a concealed carry permit as the result of a home invasion but I guess once someone’s scared enough to consider having a firearm loaded and ready to go at home having it on them at all times and in all places isn’t much of a step.

        Reply
  14. pricklyone

    “Patient readers, as you know, my workflow woes will only be solved when Apple gives me back control of the iPad I paid them for”
    Does this mean you have become dependent on a platform? (grinning)
    Tough to avoid when it is a system that works for you, undoubtedly.
    Apple harder to fight that city hall…

    Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Requiem for a heavy wait is the tattoo reverberating down from on high…

    The past week has been lousy with F-35 sorties from Naval Air Station Lemoore, 4 days out of 7 they were going through their paces-the most activity in a week that I can remember, I go months between hearing the Edsel of the air sometimes~

    Adelson passing away at this juncture is interesting coming so close to Trump’s term passing away, and lookie here, Netanyahu is on the ropes and as if the evangs will ever get another chance to make their self fulfilling death wish come to fruition, a Cinderella story ending of odd bedfellows all in cahoots, save Sheldon.

    Reply
  16. ChrisAtRU

    “It’s good to have you back …. ” ;-)

    Been away in that hell-hole called #Twitter mostly, but glad to see comments back.

    #BestFamilyBlogEver

    Reply
  17. King

    I am trying to understand how recent events have shaped the views of the hardcore Russiagate crowd. There were plenty of Putin references on the 6th so it hasn’t gone away. It’s eerily similar how ‘stop the steal’ acted on objectives not so different to those I’d heard almost four years ago except from ‘liberals’ who wanted the FBI to do the job for them. Would have been all nice and legal too going by the Russiagate fantasy.

    Reply
    1. Michaelmas

      It’s eerily similar how ‘stop the steal’ acted on objectives not so different … from ‘liberals’ who wanted the FBI to do the job for them … (re) the Russiagate fantasy.

      Indeed.

      Well, live by the fake news, die by the fake news. ‘The moronic inferno’ was the phrase that Wyndham Lewis, a British writer of the early 20th century, used about the U.S. (This was picked up by Saul Bellow, who was in turn echoed by Martin Amis)

      Reply
    2. RMO

      I was astounded at the lack of seeming care for how dangerous a road was taken with the Russiagate crowd – all just to avoid admitting the Dems ran such a woefully poor campaign they lost to Donald bleedin’ Trump of all people. It seemed inevitable to me that the next Republican loss would take the same route of trying to delegitimize the election as well. I didn’t expect something as violent as what happened a few days ago though.

      Reply
      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Russiagate also had the negative effect of demobilizing more mass-based opposition to Trump. Once the strategy of neutralizing/disposing of him via a narrative with little purchase on reality or mass political concern became the default, you stopped seeing actions like the airport take-overs that followed his Muslim ban. Instead, things were given over to the likes of Adam Schiff, all while ignoring the cognitive dissonance of #resisting Hitler/Mussolini/Putin’s Mistress, while renewing the Patriot Act for him to govern under.

        Reply
  18. Carolinian

    I don’t know. Readers, thoughts?

    If it had really been a “coup” they would have been invading the Pentagon, not the Capitol. How many divisions does Nancy Pelosi have? What it really was was a riot. And Trump certainly deserves the blame for that although I’d guess his motive was more revenge for Steele dossier, 2016 etc. In other words he is trying to salt the earth for the Biden administration he must have known was coming for weeks now. If the Dems impeach they may give him his wish.

    Can’t we just move on and never again have to hear the word Trump?

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      No we can’t. Because the Trump and the MSM won’t let us.

      After a decent interval in seclusion, the Trump will Rise Again. And we will hear the word Trump over and over and over, as Trump and the MSM ” sixty-nine” eachother for fun and profit.

      No . . . the Cone of Silence will not descend over Mister Trump.

      Reply
  19. Mikel

    Thoughts on Lambert’s thoughts about the Capitol:

    Would it be far off the mark to say the seige isn’t over? There will be more info about the levels of organization and level of threat when we see how the Inauguration is handled, both security-wise and if threats materialize in the face of concern by some authorities. Also it remains to be seen if any further actions materialize at other state capitols and how that threat level is handled and assessed.

    If it’s hard to get a handle on how to define what is happening, it is because it is not something that is in the past. The situation is still fluid and active.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      I don’t think that’s far off the mark, honestly. I’m not going to have a sigh of relief until AT LEAST Jan 21. I’m very worried about this escalating. Assuming things don’t escalate, we should be sure this is over (at least in the short term) by the time February rolls around. But until then, I am not at all confident this is entirely over.

      I hope the next two weeks can simply pass by like normal. I just can’t bet on it being so.

      Reply
  20. Gulag

    Lambert stated:

    “I also do not agree that fascism is a European phenomenon: in fact I think that fascism originates in the Post-Civil War.”

    On the other hand, Paxton has argued on page 5 and page 24 of the Anatomy of Fascism that “…if something begins when it acquires a name, we can date the beginning of fascism precisely …”Italy is where fascism started.” The date was March 23, 1919 when Mussolini and some 100 buddies, the fasci italiani di combattimento, held a meeting in the room of the Milan Industrial and Commercial Alliance overlooking Piazza San Sepulcro in Milano “to declare war on socialism–because it has opposed nationalism” (pg. 5).

    Paxton was able to examine the “living” body of Europe over a period of time–1919 to the end of World War II–and he shows how the fascist disease was received, fought off or allowed to grow in some parts of Europe but not in others. Paxton states:

    ” Let us instead watch fascism in action, from its beginnings to its final cataclysm, within the complex web of interaction it forms with society (pp. 21-22).

    His five chapter headings define the successive phases of fascism in action: “Creating Fascist Movements” “Taking Root,” “Getting Power,” Exercising Power,” “Radicalization or Entropy?”

    This clever methodology enables Paxton to observe how in some countries fascism stopped short at phase one, the creation of fascist movements–the intellectual phase, while in others it only reached phase two, taking root in places where government instability, unemployment and other grievances were so high that a space for thinking that fascism might be a solution opened up. Paxton contends that only in Mussolini’s Italy and in Hitler’s Germany did fascism (as he understands it) blossom into phase four, exercising power and keeping it by waging expansionist wars, and only in Nazi Germany did fascism reach “radicalization,” with its policy of mass extermination.

    Reply
  21. Noone from Nowheresville

    @Lambert: My rambling thoughts while reading the ill-formed thoughts: Where / how does the 17-city paramilitary strike against Occupy and the subsequent Russiagate pre & post election investigations get slotted in the fascism model? What about the Obama immigrant raids after workers had won corporate concessions, then reversals once fruit started rotting in the fields? Does our viewpoint change at all if we look at these Obama & Trump “incidents” together from a class war perspective rather than separately as say factional internal wars between Republican v. Democrats. Do they become more or less dangerous taken together?

    Not looking for an answer. Just my own ill-formed thoughts with too many missing pieces. Must admit that the mid-season mini-series Red Wedding event did come as a surprise. Not that there was a march, rather how it played out.

    I suspect what happens in the next 6 weeks will be clarifying.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “Does our viewpoint change at all if we look at these Obama & Trump “incidents” together from a class war perspective rather than separately as say factional internal wars between Republican v. Democrats. Do they become more or less dangerous taken together?”

      that’s why i wished for a modern day c wright mills…it gets harder and harder to understand who is actually in charge, and who is a mere worker for those that remain unseen. Is Domhoff still around?
      I detect at least 2 major divisions within the oligarchy: old school extractives,and the chems and big ag that go with them…and the high tech/biomed/FIRE bunch.
      i bumped up against the underbelly of the former when i was a kid and a young man, due to grandad’s bidness(we built refineries) and mere proximity to the dark side of houston exurbia.
      i’ve had zero contact with the latter.
      if i had to guess, this looks like the former….godzilla, for which this was…among other things…a team-building exercise
      we’re suppose to root for mothra, though.

      Reply
  22. Bazarov

    “but how does it scale?”

    Very well. Though America has let its overall infrastructure decay, in one area in particular it has invested massively: prisons.

    America’s justice system is skewed so far in the prosecutor’s favor that the right to trial is a joke–very few risk the ire of the All Mighty Prosecutor by forcing them into a courtroom where poor defendants know they will lose because they cannot match the prosecutor’s vast resources. So, defendants do the rational thing: plead guilty, resulting in a near Soviet level of prosecutorial success and laughably few actual trials.

    Combine this “justice” system with a targeted effort at political repression of the far right and then combine that with the massive infrastructural capacity to house such new felons, and the upshot is an authoritarian solution to this political problem. Hell, it even creates a constituency by supporting jobs via prison construction and staffing.

    Such an authoritarian solution, far from being incompatible with the ideology of our elites, in fact comes naturally to them, as bourgeois parties–since they lost their revolutionary character after 1848–are classically “parties of order.” The apparatus of this “order” has been carefully constructed, taking its “coming out” as the anti-militia crackdown by Janet Reno in the 1990s. It was greatly intensified following the War on Terror, when it also gained unheard of surveillance capacities.

    Now, I imagine our kangaroo courts, our surveillance state, and our great gulag archipelago will be employed for a wide-ranging domestic political oppression, “mopping up” not only right wing radicals (as during the heady militia days of the 1990s) but also left-wingers identified with “antifa.”

    And it certainly will scale. After all, the prison contractors/guard unions and for-profit dungeon keepers are on the lookout for a “revenue stream” that can replace the influx of marijuana convicts they once depended on.

    “For things to stay the same, everything must change”–in this limited case, that of our monstrous injustice system and its attendant gulag, I believe Tancredi’s maxim stands.

    Reply
    1. Michaelmas

      …our kangaroo courts, our surveillance state, and our great gulag archipelago will be employed for a wide-ranging domestic political oppression, “mopping up” not only right wing radicals (as during the heady militia days of the 1990s) but also left-wingers identified with “antifa.”

      Which is why Kamala the Kop was installed at the heirarchy’s apex, despite the fact that the vast mass of Americans, including those in her own constituency, voted against her.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I still think that at least part of the reason for installing Kamala is because she showed what class she was loyal to by immunizing and impunifying Steve Mnuchin when all her office’s lawyers wanted him tried for certain financial fraud crimes.

        She was installed to be on hand to immunise and impunify the same people Obama immunized and impunified for their key driving roles in the GFC of 2008, when they do it again.

        Didn’t I read that various huge FIRE sector donors raised their donation rates when Kamala for VP was announced? Thereby showing that they “got the message”?

        Reply
    2. John G

      “America’s justice system is skewed so far in the prosecutor’s favor that the right to trial is a joke”: I have often wondered why, if justice is the ideal in our justice system, the Justice Department does not have both a Prosecutor Office and Defense Office paid by the state, especially since a defendant is innocent until proven guilty I think it is to the state’s benefit to protect the innocent as to punish the guilty, no matter the wealth of the charged.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        This is simplified. It’s “justice system” not the prosecution process per se.

        The costs of defense are so high most people can’t mount a competent defense. But the “reasonable doubt” standard means unless you were caught with a bloody knife in your hand over a dead body, if you can afford good enough counsel, you can snow most juries. So the defect is terrible court-appointed defenders.

        Having said that, Aaron Shwartz killed himself because the cost of defending a typical Federal case is $1.5 million and his probably would have gone higher, particularly since the Feds had decided to make an example of him and probably would have appealed had he won at trial. He didn’t want to bankrupt his family.

        Reply
        1. hemeantwell

          Thanks for remembering him. His prosecution and forced suicide over trying to make Jstor, an academic database, freely available is one of the larger travesties in a decade riddled with them. Call it stubborn Enlightenment delirium, but for the public to have easy access to “academic” journals could only help us. Even though it’s only a trickle, the stream of online only journals shows just how much the major academic publishers like Elsevier are nothing but rent-seeking toads now that print-based publication is no longer necessary.

          Reply
  23. Bwdik?

    anyone tracking legislation that is being proposed as a result of the recent DC events?
    that should tell us more than 1000’s of blog posts

    Reply
  24. Jen

    ” A more typical American solution would be to throw money at them; if Ashli Babbitt’s business had succeeded she might be alive today. I doubt means-tested tax breaks would do the trick, though.)”

    I’ve been thinking this, exactly. Helicopter in pallets of cash. Give everyone 2K per month at least through the mid terms, or, even better for the next 4 years. Dial back the desperation and despair. Provide headroom for shutdowns to control the virus without destroying peoples lives.

    But, we are, of course, speaking of the democrats.

    I think there is a second component to this of going after those who “show up again and again” like hell wouldn’t have it. Not sure our current security apparatus has the ability or interest in identifying the right targets.

    A friend of mine is posting on facebook that (short version) Trump will be restored to office on January 20. He’s ex-Navy. I have no reason thus far that he’s more than an armchair traveler when it comes to uprisings, but he clearly still believes there will be one.

    Finally, thank you for restoring the comments! I’ve missed, once again, all of you family bloggers.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      “A friend of mine is posting on facebook that (short version) Trump will be restored to office on January 20. He’s ex-Navy. I have no reason thus far that he’s more than an armchair traveler when it comes to uprisings, but he clearly still believes there will be one.”

      If you don’t mind me asking, I do have a question. Does he believe it because hes some kind of Trump True Believer? Or, does he know something about this that we don’t? Or has he spent much of his life analyzing this kind of thing and can tell by that where this is going? Your post wasn’t specific on this front, but it makes me curious and I had to ask.

      I suppose I’m just asking because I wish I had more acquaintances who are military or ex-military, so I could ask what their opinions are on this. From my armchair, I can’t tell what the general sentiment in the military is on this event, or for that matter what the general sentiment is among ex-military.

      Reply
      1. Jen

        I think he’s a Trump true believer. I don’t believe he’d put himself on the line – just likes to talk big. He has friends who share his views, and don’t. One of his friends commented that he didn’t know why the “left” didn’t just get ready to govern from the left instead of mass censorship and shutting “us” down.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I wonder how the “one of his friends” would receive the following answer: there is no such thing as a “left” with the power to govern from the left. Not in this country.

          And if he sincerely questioned how such a statement could possibly be true, that might be an opening to explain the difference between a Culture Of Wokeness left and a Political Economy left.

          Reply
    2. K.k

      “I’ve been thinking this, exactly. Helicopter in pallets of cash. Give everyone 2K per month at least through the mid terms, or, even better for the next 4 years. Dial back the desperation and despair. Provide headroom for shutdowns to control the virus without destroying peoples lives.”

      That can not be allowed. Whatever will our poor corporations do if we begin to mitigate the precarious nature of life for the most vulnerable workers. Surely the captive labor might start to decide to work less and not expose themselves and their families to a deadly virus.
      How dare you challenge our benevolent overlords. All praise to the mighty job creators.

      Reply
  25. Mikel

    One more thing in Lambert’s thoughts:

    “if Ashli Babbitt’s business had succeeded she might be alive today.”

    I haven’t really listened to alot of on-the-ground audio of that day, but I haven’t heard mentioned any protest of monopolies hurting small businesses during that day.
    But I have heard mention of mobs beating on black officers.

    Reply
  26. lyman alpha blob

    RE: …Mike Duncan’s lovely book The Storm Before the Storm

    I received that book for Xmas along with Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth and another that I think someone here may have recommended called A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear.

    Just noticed that all three were published by the same company which I’d never heard of before called Public Affairs. The three I received are not only very well written books, but they are also very well made and aesthetically pleasing. The publisher’s “About” page gives a nod to muckraker I. F. Stone and they have a bunch of other books that look pretty good and may be of interest to readers here.

    A link to their website for anyone interested – https://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/

    Reply
    1. Medbh

      I think he identified a problem, but I don’t see how his solution would work. He says “…what’s desperately needed is an institutional reporting mechanism that has credibility with the whole population. That means a channel that sees its mission as something separate from politics, or at least as separate from politics as possible.”

      That solution assumes that people would read non-partisan media if it was available. However, I suspect most people prefer to read media that conforms to their existing beliefs. Many people are unwilling to even expose themselves to alternative viewpoints. If you try to share something, they refuse and say “it’s just propaganda.” Many people don’t want to actually think, they just want to feel knowledgeable and have their views confirmed.

      Even the institutions/expertise that deal with more factual information (like the CDC) cannot separate themselves from politics, and are viewed by many as biased and agenda-driven.

      I don’t have any better solutions. But I don’t see how media can be perceived as widely credible, when for many, credibility requires conformity to existing beliefs.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Before the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine we did have network news that felt obligated to be at least reasonably even handed when it came to the two parties. Today’s media environment would be unrecognizable to that era. Blame it on TedTurner and cable news that in turn spawned Fox News, as Taibbi says. Or blame it on Newt Gingrich. Basically the Dems of today have turned into the Repubs of the 90s.

        But I for one would gladly watch an objective news source of any type. I think there is an audience for this

        Reply
      2. Michaelmas

        Medbh wrote: but I don’t see how his solution would work.

        It wouldn’t. Stoller says nothing about the central problem, that Facebook and Google have demonetized journalism’s old business model to the tune of eating up 80 percent of the ad revenues that used to support journalism.

        Today, there’s no money for investigative journalism — which always was expensive, time-consuming, and a big ask of editors — or even fact-checking, and the 24-hour always-on internet news cycle means that editors demand a hot take for click-through purposes ASAP so that any actual reporting is now rare.

        Essentially, what remains today is a Potemkin-like facade: from the front, the mass of normies see what looks like journalism as they know it, but there’s no reality behind that facade any longer.

        So what’s the alternative? Government-funded news media? That’s not going to happen in the U.S. is it? And if it did, why would anyone trust that to be anything more that government propaganda?

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          It would have to be subscription-based, with enough subscribers X just-high-enough a subscription price, to be able to support expensive real reporting and journalism such as we used to know. It could be called “pay reading”.

          Reply
  27. CloverBee

    Here is a blog post from a local, unsuccessful Democratic candidate, and military veteran on where the failures occurred during the Capitol riot.
    https://john988.substack.com/p/how-did-our-military-fail-to-protect?r=ehjd5&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1-5XQkq9FMKmudm9Es8pplCc0T-PXefT-yyHkaVnBqH-4rtqQo6ZCOy2Q

    I have friends and family who think this was a) good and b) just the beginning. A week later, they are very quiet (other than the occasional antifa comment), but the quiet is a bit more disconcerting than the normal exuberance for this cause.

    Reply
    1. Keith

      We had a saying in the Marines, “As long as everyone is b#$ching and moaning, things are good and people are working. It is when it gets quiet that you have to worry.”

      I lean right, and my take on this from a substance point is it is much ado about nothing. Since the spring, we have seen riots and what not. The only difference was that Congress got to see the fun firsthand. Also, from my POV, it appears the media does seem more lenient on their side (or at least what is perceived s their side), and many people are noticing (or perhaps both sides see themselves as victims, who knows- perspectives can alter reality). Right now, I think conservatives likely need to be quiet to watch. There are efforts to not only silence certain media sites, but dox people who have differing opinions. I think Link this morning mention about an army officer resigning because she attended the protest, not because she was a part of any rioting. This will likely create paranoia and lead people to believe they need to choose a side in the ongoing culture war.

      On a side note, allowing these protests is a good thing, especially with lock downs, as it lets people vent some steam. It seems the riot in the Capital Building was just a confluence of mistakes, rather than the beginning of some type of insurrection, but if certain groups use this to score political points and try and forcefully silence half the population, things will probably get worse, especially as IMHO silencing viewpoints just spread conspiracy theories Just my two cents.

      My theory about how things may have gone south, when a TAC contributor was at the protest, he mentioned that a CS can was inadvertently shot into the crowd. He chalked it up to the cops were going after the crowd, so the crowd became angry. I think the errant can merely caused people to try and get a way, creating a surge going away from the can, causing people to push forward. Then momentum took care of the rest. Add that with the emotions of a crowd (I have been swept up playing a bad guy for training purposes), and you get the mayhem for that day. Just a theory, I know.

      TAC article I am referencing, https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/what-i-saw-at-the-capitol/.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        ‘“As long as everyone is b#$ching and moaning, things are good and people are working. It is when it gets quiet that you have to worry.”

        Oddly enough I read exactly the same about British soldiers in the 19th century on the frontiers of the Empire. New officers were told that when the troops were moaning and complaining that all was well. But when those soldiers went quite, then that was the time to be careful.

        Reply
        1. CanCyn

          It is true about kids playing too – if you can hear them all is well. If they’re being quiet, you probably want to go check on them!

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            Got that right. In raising our kids we never worried much when they were making a noise. When things went quite was when we went looking to see what they were up to. These days with our grand-kids, when they go quite is when they are on their tablets. So, progress?

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Not really. I would prefer the old noisy kids to the siloed and quiescent proto-zombies I see everywhere today.
              My other dislike about the ‘tablet generation’ idea is that the process is training the population to adapt to a specific, and narrow, method of viewing and acting on their surrounding environment. I would go as far as to rephrase the old aphorism from the Skinner days to now say; “Think outside the screen.”

              Reply
              1. Amfortas the hippie

                for my youngest, who turns 14 in a couple of weeks, fortnite has become his pandemic version of hanging out talking shite with his buddies on the back porch.
                after school(virtual) and chores(crippled dad turns into a pumpkin after 5pm), he goes into his room, turns on that machine(a “playstation”, i think), don’s headphones, and starts excitedly yelling curses(we’ve never been obsessive about cussing, since i cuss all the time)
                I can hear his side of the excitement of whatever campaign they’re on…nothing analogous in my childhood, when Atari’s Pong was the bee’s knees for the nerds that were far less outdoorsy than I…I was constantly in the woods at that age, avoiding my tyrannical, Jocasta of a mother after the divorce, riding freight trains when they’d stop on the siding….
                but my boys take pride in their work…rarely grumbling…because i’ve endeavored to teach them to want to do the necessary tasks and to feel a bit of pride about contributing to the collective…except for the dishes, of course.
                so , sans any opportunity for “normal” teenage shenanigans, we tolerate his virtual cussfests with his friends.

                interestingly, after a year of such IRL isolation, 3 of his buddies are champing at the bit to come out here and clear fenclines for minwage for me,lol….our recent experience with covid…plus all this snow and bitter cold…has delayed this a bit.

                Reply
  28. IowanX

    Lambert—You invited thoughts from readers in reaction to your essay on the Capital seizure, so here goes:

    I completely agree that the right question is whether this is a fascist inflection point, and it clearly is. These people are not going away. Our system is currently structured to make it stronger. Alienation of workers, plus starvation wages, rentier economics etc have created a damaged, brittle nation, as a matter of policy. And our version of fascism does date from the post civil war period. That’s our exceptionalism.

    You are correct that the participation of law enforcement in this matter is super important. I saw the police in DC during the BLM protests and it’s clear to me that racism is an essential part of this, but I’ll also suggest that evangelical/conservative Catholic influence is an under-rated undercurrent. IIRC, the Air Force Academy is filled with Evengelicals, and some folks on Twitter e.g. (@C_Stroop) and others are explaining the evangelical role in the current situation. In short: “There’s a God-given hierarchy in this country, dammit, and white, religious, petty bourgeoisie Americans want the damn 1950s/60s/ back.” There ARE a lot of them, and they damn sure voted.

    You are obviously correct in your observation that the D’s are going to be useless in all this, and alienate even more people with their tone-deafness, confident as always, “there’s nowhere else to go!” Killing Bernie was a big mistake, which they will come to regret. I told my wife in 2016 “Both Parties killed themselves, and neither one knows it” and I still think that’s true. How they die is TBD.

    Provided we survive this (meaning a Trump impeachment, and eventual prosecution for Trump family crimes) we’ll be left with a growing Trump party, (growing underground); the merged R+D neo-liberal shitshow; and ??? i.e. the missing “left” party we’re not allowed to have because we are a two party system. This seems dangerous in this economic environment.

    As an aside, Social media cancellations and new “terrorist” legislation are not helpful here, as it will be used to kill basic leftist policies and anti-racist protest, and piss off the right, who remain the side with the money. The opposition to it in the EU is a good sign.

    In conclusion, I don’t know, either. I just wanted to share my thoughts, which have a different emphasis.

    Reply
  29. Jeremy Grimm

    Random Thoughts on Lambert’s Essay:
    I cannot believe any claims made that the Capitol seizure — the event — took the Capitol’s security forces by surprise. Such claims are incredible considering the amount of surveillance. I also believe efforts to control the event were remarkably tepid compared with the way other mass gatherings have been crushed. My first impression of the event is of its artificiality — the artificiality of the gathered mob and the artificiality of the efforts to control the event. I have no idea what meaning to attribute to the event. I doubt the Populace will ever learn the truth of what happened, and why.

    I believe the definition of fascism as the merger of corporations and the state remains workable in spite of their consistent juncture in recent times. That “the state and civil society can be separated only as objects of study” is also true of modern corporations and the modern state. The purpose of such study should be to characterize the quality and nature of the merger. I believe fascism — not the pejorative ‘fascism’ with its manifold meanings — has become characteristic of most modern governments. I cannot regard Corporations as a feature of civil society especially as the interests and pursuits of Corporations deviate more and more from what in a civil society would be termed ‘human’.

    I believe the Capitol seizure was another of the many strange Kabuki events and dramas that shape and direct public opinion and debate. I believe speculations around the similarity between the Capitol seizure and events from the 1930s feed the purposes for which the event might be used, and may have been intended. I suspect the event will be used to further control what can be expressed through open channels on the web. I also suspect the event will serve as a tool for further bolstering the police. I believe the democrats’ tactics of “moralizing, punishing, shunning, shaming” has done little to unify the Left. The democrats’ tactics of “moralizing, punishing, shunning, shaming” may tend to unify militias and right wing groups but I doubt that it could accomplish a unity of any strength or consistent direction — it would be a unity of cats.

    Quis custodiet ipses? Who wants to guard the guards? The Government has worked hard over many years to build the kind of police whose service and protection we enjoy today. The Government is not our Government. It does not belong to the Populace. Who or what directs events is beyond my knowledge. I doubt what the Populace is told bears much relation to the underlying truth of matters.

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      Aye!
      Cui Bono, and the Shape of the Aristocracy is what interests me the most about this.
      the surreality of Q-Shaman(mouth always bellowing) and “Via getty”(ha!) with the podium, almost posing in some vaudevillian manner…and the other furhatted young guy yelling in the long vid where the woman was shot at the end…almost like they were there to cheerlead…football mascots.
      as i said before, the line of paramilitary people, hands on shoulders ahead of them, calmly and with apparent training making their way into the building while the circus raged, was the thing that worried me the most.

      and another thing i noticed, in all that footage and stills, was that the dems all looked sincerely scared out of their minds.
      the gop “establishment” types also.
      but the gop nutter wing were laughing and joking(that blonde Q woman, and her bearded fellow in the “i ain’t wearing a mask” story). only non-rioter smiles i saw in all of it.

      Reply
  30. WJ

    After donating to Sanders I was placed on several Democratic emailing lists. In the past few days I’ve received about seven emails targeting Josh Hawley explicitly, with subject headings like “Traitor” and “ruin his career.” The ostensible reason for these emails is of course Hawley’s role in Trump’s planned contestation of the election. But I find it interesting also that Hawley was the major Republican voice calling for $2,000 stimulus checks, and his was the kind of rightist faux-populism that arguably was most likely to become the real thing. I wonder whether a lot of this hysteria regarding recent events is not motivated in part by a desire to delegitimize anything associated with economic populism, by which of course I mean actual political democracy, over the next few years. The question is complex, as recently Biden has announced his support of $2,000 checks, after earlier approving the $600 “compromise,” but note that the push for a second impeachment distracts from both the stimulus question and the #ForcetheVote controversy. What do others think about all this? To what degree are Democratic leaders truly incensed about the Capitol riots and to what extent are we seeing a convenient theatrics?

    Reply
    1. Samuel Conner

      I have no idea what is going on in people’s thinking, but my own thinking is that there might be some enthusiasm for trying DJT in a D-controlled Senate. He is reputed to not be a disciplined witness (so I read years ago re: the desire to avoid face-to-face questioning during the Mueller investigation). It might be an opportunity to profoundly humiliate the man and his sympathizers.

      MM is reported to be “pleased” with the prospect of impeachment.

      Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Biden purposefully withheld his support for $2000 checks until after the $600 one was a fait accompli.

      Reply
  31. drumlin woodchuckles

    Since I see several of the newest posts still without “comments” functionality, I am guessing that the re-opening of comments will be partial and phased, depending on how commenting is seen to be going.

    Reply
  32. clarky90

    Re; “Fascism Robert Paxton proposes five stages: “(1) the initial creation of fascist movements…..”

    How are fascist movements created? It is not complex.

    For instance, the invasion of Latvia in 1940 by the USSR….reaction, murderous Latvian fascism in 1941

    Or hyperinflation in the Weimar Republc between 1921 and 1923……..and subsequent societal chaos… ? You guessed it.

    Imo, “right wing” fascism is “reactionary”, ie a reaction to chaos and oppression, not a thing in and of itself.

    Provide people with homes, good paying jobs, safe communities, universal healthcare, a fair legal system (blind justice), others to love and care about…. Safe food and water.. (free speech!)

    “Fascism” (and Antifa) will disappear. But we already know that.

    Repression does not stop Fascism, it creates Fascism.

    Thanks “liberal” innovators……you are completely innocent (/s)

    Reply
  33. Panduh

    I feel like Harris’ outfit is a great metaphor for the Democratic PMC wing. Give them a low bar to hurdle and they will try to limbo it wearing Timberlands.

    $2,000 to Amrerican people (or any other public good) and they will put means-testing on it.

    Reply
  34. Jeremy Grimm

    The site realclimate.org noted it is almost time to look for “summaries of the 2020 climate (due Jan 14th or so)”. It also described what it regarded as “perhaps the last weak ‘hurrah’ of a bankrupt cause” referring to some recent denialist Climate Change “flyers” posted featuring a faked Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) official logo, and claiming to be copyrighted by OSTP.

    If this is a last ‘hurrah’ for climate denialists and if Philip Mirowski is correct we should expect more and more geoengineering proposals will start showing up.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And if such proposals are declined even while nothing else effective is being done, India and China will get tired of waiting and begin engineering the geo all by themselves.

      And if anyone complains about it, they will just paint a picture of a hand on their atom bombs and tell all the unhappy campers to ” talk to the hand”.

      Reply
  35. Dalepues

    Lordy, I am so happy the comments are back. I don’t want to point you out, but there are at least fifteen or twenty of you who I treasure even more than the articles in the links. Is that okay? I don’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable….the comments, I have found, are frequently much better than the articles themselves! Many times too when someone comments on an article that I’ve skipped or overlooked, I’ll go back and read it, not wanting to miss something important. When someone (usually a stranger, hardly ever a regular) starts saying ugly things, I move on very quickly and don’t waste my time with them. Happy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Foy

      Yes, I start with the comments and work backwards to skim the links! Which is also partly due to the time of day here, and lots of quality comments are already posted by the time I read NC. As you say the comments often are better than the articles they are referring to and give me better information.

      Reply
  36. Carolinian

    Greenwald has a new post up as well

    https://greenwald.substack.com/p/how-silicon-valley-in-a-show-of-monopolistic

    Critics of Silicon Valley censorship for years heard the same refrain: tech platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter are private corporations and can host or ban whoever they want. If you don’t like what they are doing, the solution is not to complain or to regulate them. Instead, go create your own social media platform that operates the way you think it should.

    The founders of Parler heard that suggestion and tried. In August, 2018, they created a social media platform similar to Twitter but which promised far greater privacy protections, including a refusal to aggregate user data in order to monetize them to advertisers or algorithmically evaluate their interests in order to promote content or products to them. They also promised far greater free speech rights, rejecting the increasingly repressive content policing of Silicon Valley giants.[…]

    But today, if you want to download, sign up for, or use Parler, you will be unable to do so. That is because three Silicon Valley monopolies — Amazon, Google and Apple — abruptly united to remove Parler from the internet, exactly at the moment when it became the most-downloaded app in the country.

    If one were looking for evidence to demonstrate that these tech behemoths are, in fact, monopolies that engage in anti-competitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws, and will obliterate any attempt to compete with them in the marketplace, it would be difficult to imagine anything more compelling

    Greenwald says the site was created by libertarians, not Trump supporters, and rightwingers have migrated there as a protest against Facebook and Twitter. You will now be unable to download the app at all on an iPhone but there’s still the “side load” option on Android–assuming Parler finds another hosting service. He also says that many of the rioters at the Capitol used Youtube and Facebook but nobody is shutting them down.

    In other words if collusion and failure to provide common carriage isn’t a subject for antitrust then what is?

    Reply
  37. Wukchumni

    We’re fast approaching the same amount of dead in less than a year in the USA from Covid, versus combat deaths involving U.S. servicemen in all wars in the last century.

    The first time I was in DC I remember going to the Iwo Jima statue and being amazed at just how many foreign entanglements the USMC had been in, all documented around the periphery.

    Found this one interesting, the Polar Bear Expedition in Russia right smack dab in the middle of the Spanish flu in 1918-19.

    About 1/3rd of all deaths were on account of it~

    During their time in North Russia, the American forces suffered more than 210 casualties, including at least 110 deaths from battle, about 30 missing in action, and 70 deaths from disease, 90% of which were caused by the Spanish flu.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Expeditionary_Force,_North_Russia

    Reply
  38. Glen

    Chinese billionaires gone missing:

    Where is Jack Ma? Chinese tycoon not seen since Octoberhttps://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jan/05/where-is-jack-ma-chinese-tycoon-not-seen-since-october-alibaba

    I’ve heard at other source that other Chinese billionaires have also gone missing. There seems to be two reasons being discussed:
    1) Concern that Ma could become the “face” of the Hong Kong protests.
    2) Concern that everyone in China is using Ma’s electronic currency.

    I actually admire the Chinese governments willingness to go after their billionaires. No doubt they are a non-democratic and repressive society, but so far their government has not been sold to the wealthy unlike the US.

    Reply
    1. K.k

      Is he really missing? It was reported “sources close to the matter” say he is laying low.

      And its strange to me that just because the man hasn’t been making public appearances recently he is “missing”. I understand his current conflicts with the State but for all we know he could be recovering from a health incident or it could be any number of other things. The use of “missing” and the discussion around it seems to try to illicit images of poor jack in a gulag somewhere.

      Reply
  39. Glen

    I urge everybody to check and see if you have been affected by this:

    Hackers are exploiting a backdoor built into Zyxel devices. Are you patched?
    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/01/hackers-are-exploiting-a-backdoor-built-into-zyxel-devices-are-you-patched/

    Zyxel devices are often rebranded (I have an older CenturyLink modem/router based on a Zyxel device sitting on my desk) so check and make sure you’re got the latest firmware.

    More on suspected Russian hacking:

    Code deployed in US cyber-attack linked to suspected Russian hackers
    https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/01/hackers-are-exploiting-a-backdoor-built-into-zyxel-devices-are-you-patched/

    Note that is is still “suspected”. I don’t know if we’re ever going to see definitive proof that it is Russia, but all reports continue to show that the full extent of this penetration are serrverly under reported.

    Reply
  40. Tom Stone

    I suspect part of the reason the mob was allowed to get out of hand is that it was a Tar Baby and NO ONE in law enforcement wanted to touch it.
    If there was political capital to be made by having a presence you’d see every law enforcement agency within 100 miles show up.
    The Capitol Police got the shitty end of the stick and kinda sorta did their job.
    The public an media reactions were predictable a Domestic Terrorism law and overt censorship.
    There’s no reason to let a crisis go to waste and if you can nudge things along by not doing something…
    Do take a few minutes to read up on “Full Spectrum Persistent Area Wide Surveillance”, just for fun.

    Reply
  41. The Rev Kev

    Just thought that I would add one more thing about the Capital Hill riot and that is to do with the legislators. As a group, they have no problems passing legislation to launch sanctions on a starving Yemen or to deny any help to hundreds of millions of their fellow Americans in the middle of a pandemic during a massive economic collapse. But this time they were under personal attack. They were actually afraid for their lives. So now you have the deadly combination of frightened, powerful people. The Patriot Act came out of 9/11 but the threat to their personal safety then was only possible. Here it was in their face and you could see the fear on those faces. And this was not by BLM or Arabs or Muslims but Americans at one end of the Bell curve of American activists. So I have no doubt that you will have legislation coming up to be passed by Washington to do all sorts of interesting things. Massive censorship in partnership with Big Tech is a given. Those of you guys that use Twitter had better have a plan what to do if you find yourself locked out of your account one morning and no, I am not kidding. But again, frightened powerful legislators can make for some pretty horrible laws.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Those of you guys that use Twitter

      Not me. The late Cockburn proudly described Counterpunch as a Twitter free zone. Supposedly Twitter’s stock is down after they booted 80 million Trumpies. The tech companies have stymied Parler but some of us question why we need any of these social media companies. Groupthink seems to bring out the worst in people.

      And there’s no question that the media pay a lot more attention to the safety of their own hides than, say, a blown up building in Oklahoma City. Same for politicians.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      People keep forgetting the anthrax attacks. A newspaper editor was assassinated in Florida with anthrax.
      Then anthrax was sent to various Washington DC area offices, including to several Senators’s offices. This was a message from the Deep State that the Deep State could assassinate all the lawmakers with anthrax if the lawmakers did not pass the Deep State’s Patriot Act.

      So, yes. The lawmakers felt personally threatened right after 9/11 . . . . threatened by Deep State anthrax.

      Reply
  42. dcblogger

    for those who are interested, Audio Book Anatomy of Fascism by Paxton
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo4-6lQraY0&t=807s

    unlike lambert I am ALL FOR deplatforming Nazis. every bar needs a bouncer. I am also a big believer in shaming. All the members of the House who voted against certifying the results need to be booted out of teh House. People who refuse to wear masks should be treated like the threat to public health that they are.

    But ALSO Biden needs to pump millions into the economy to calm things down. Economic collapse feeds political extremism. Biden needs to cancel ALL student debt and use his executive authority to do anything he can to pump $ money into the economy. https://prospect.org/day-one-agenda

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      Problem is that once you start deciding what should and should not be speech, that cliched slippery slope goes from dry to wet to ice to Teflon mighty fast as does the cost of said forbidden speech. Also, too much of what is considered appropriate speech for the masses is based on what the Professional Managerial Class, that 10% that functions as the apparatchiks, considers so. The white, upper middle class, college educated, (neo)liberal, ultra-Blue, police loving, proto-reactionaries that considers what they believe is naturally so.

      Just like how the Red Scare started as a hunt for actual members of the Communist Party who were spying for the Soviet Union and expanded to include anyone not good little obedient, conformist, heterosexual, (mainline denominational) church going American citizens. It might have started as a sincere hunt for spies, although I don’t think so, but it became a means of gaining power, money, influence, and protection.

      That this cost the careers, health, and lives of not only individual people, but also entire families, while making a mockery of things like freedom of belief, the rule of law, and human dignity was not considered important enough to stop. That some people were sincere in their actions in some ways makes it worse. The whole “we had to destroy the village to save the village” I heard mentioned for the Vietnam War.

      Reply
      1. caucus99percenter

        In East Germany before the fall of the Wall, the regime’s whole shtick was, “Not doing what we do and imposing the restrictions we impose would only help Nazis, the capitalist class enemy in their purest form.”

        Officially, the Wall was referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.”

        So I second your dissent with respect to dcblogger — that way lies, if not full-blown madness, then ultimately conditions akin to the former East Germany. Just my two pfennig, of course.

        Reply
    1. Count Zero

      Well that’s not mandatory vaccination. You are free to get vaccinated or not. Universities are free to make a rule that students, at this specific moment in a global pandemic, need to be vaccinated. As a potential student you can weigh up your options and make a rational choice.

      Reply
  43. Edward

    I think the “insurrection” reflects the deterioration of American politics. People accept the results of an election when it is conducted fairly. If this does not happen a contest of power ensues, involving who can force who to accept what. This includes protests such as occurred in the capital, strikes, and in the extreme, violence. We have been living under the rule of elites who have trashed the conventions that keep U.S. politics civil. I think there was election tampering, and so what are you supposed to say to these protestors to convince them to go home? Why can’t a non-partisan commission be set up to investigate election fraud, as some Republicans urged? What is absurd, is that after all this fuss, we are still not talking about measures to make voting secure, such as using paper ballots, hand-counted in public. The Republicans, too, are guilty of their own sins, purging voter rolls and engaging in other dirty tricks. Americans live in a country where the news can’t be trusted, the elections are tampered with, democracy is a facade for a system based on bribery, and their economic situation is declining. In this situation, why wouldn’t there be protests? There is little sign that Washington is reconsidering its behavior and trying to improve.

    Reply
    1. Edward

      I should add that during his four years, Trump set terrible precedents, such as pulling out of treaties, or pardoning war criminals, that eroded the rule of law, leading us in the direction of this anarchy. His predecessors, indeed most of our institutions, were also guilty of violating laws, too. Much of the constitution has been eviscerated, with little protest; Americans don’t seem to care much about the constitution.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Biden won the popular vote by over 7 million so even if Trump was correct in all his claims–not at all likely–he would still have been a popular vote loser which should be food for thought for those who say Biden didn’t win.

      And while the election certainly wasn’t fairly conducted by the media how many of them are? The real rigging of the election was by presenting us with “the worst choice ever” as Taibbi called it. And for that reason claims about the sanctity of the process are pretty much balderdash. We’ll probably never escape from this trap until one side so utterly discredits itself that the other wins in a landslide that can’t be disputed. Or a third party could help break the close election logjam. There’s a reason why the Supreme Court has an odd number of members. Even numbers promote stasis–exactly what TPTB want.

      Reply
      1. Edward

        It depends on how much cheating actually occurred. The best presentation I have seen of the evidence for fraud is this article by “Russia Observer” Patrick Armstrong:

        https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2020/12/12/the-us-election-is-not-over/

        He is a retired Sovietologist and so a professional analyst of politics. Of the websites I read, Russia Observer is the only one that has really been presenting such evidence, which puzzles me. Maybe people are so eager to be rid of Trump that they really don’t want to consider this possibility. On an issue this important, though, I would have expected more of an effort to investigate what happened. We are told, in a confident voice, that “2020” had the “most secure election ever”, but without any evidence being provided to support this outlandish claim. I just don’t believe this, given the problems with electronic voting, the lack of transparency, and the fact that the political parties, not neutral people, manage the election. Such an outlandish claim says to me that the defenders of the election are doing something we have seen many times now, just saying what is convenient. My basic feeling is that the establishment has lost its credibility because of the lies, propaganda, and poor outcomes. Americans will not vote for them in large enough numbers, and so they are doubling down now with “phase two”, vote tampering.

        I should add that I don’t want to see another four years of Trump– not that I want Biden either. The thought of four more years of Trump and his hooligans… I am alienated from both candidates.

        Reply
  44. ambrit

    First, a Zeitgeist item. Are we here in the NADS the only ones seeing severe shortages of meat and poultry in the grocery stores? We are also seeing a really severe shortage of dairy items. This is not limited to one store or chain.
    Second, what is the status of the $2000 stimulus cheques now that the impeachment theatre is crowding out all else in the MSM? Will the economic crisis be conveniently forgotten for now?

    Reply
    1. Phillip Cross

      Yes, its really spotty here too, all our local stores in AZ.

      Probably all the local meat processors are sick with Covid?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        To your point, I wonder just how local the meat supply in any one area is. We have battery chicken farms and processing plants nearby, but have no idea how large an area they supply. Beef and “the other white meat” processing facilities are evidently farther away than the chicken plants.
        Phyl wondered if there was a problem with the transportation system, such as as far as truck drivers getting the Dreaded Pathogen was concerned.
        There is too little useful information concerning the affected systems available.

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Now that is very interesting. Thanks for the link. Parenthetically, this could be a “perfect storm” of several issues with food preparation and distribution all hitting at once.
            Think chaos.

            Reply
    2. Keith

      I am in southeastern WA state, ag area where shortages happen often (I have had to make Spokane and Portland runs), but meat and dairy is looking good, and prices appear reasonable despite reports I have been reading on food inflation. That being said, we do have slaughterhouses out here, so maybe meat is easier to source than toilet paper and paper towels, which have been spotty.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        first day out of quarantine, wife and youngest ventured to walmart(closest “real store”), and youngest reported that the frozen food aisle was all but empty.
        frozen pizza especially, all but gone.
        restocking happens by algorithm and just-in-time…so what did the algorithm miss?
        said there was plenty of TP and paper plates….wine and beer aisle was thin, though.
        hard to parse….he’s still a newbie at this form of social surveillance…if i had been there, and seen empty freezers, i would have gone immediately to the drug store portion of the store, and looked at what was missing.

        Reply
  45. Synoia

    We wouldn’t be able to control super-intelligent machines

    Which raises the question:

    What happens when a super intelligent machine is wrong?

    There is a large distance between super intelligent and incorrect.

    Reply
    1. Basil Pesto

      that’s a very elegant question that I hadn’t considered before (though I’d not thought that deeply
      on the subject)

      Reply
  46. Anthony K Wikrent

    Lambert writes “the absolute strategic priority to preserve the Republic would be making sure that a body of “nationalist militants” is never allowed to form.” That is a tactical priority. The strategic priority must be to revive the ideology of republicanism.

    For example: QUOTE … the duty of a republic [is] to control “the selfishness of mankind … ; for liberty consists not in the permission to distress fellow citizens, by extorting extravagant advantages from them, in matters of commerce or otherwise.” Because it was commonly understood that “the exorbitant wealth of individuals” had a “most baneful influence” on the maintenance of republican governments and “therefore should be carefully guarded against…” END QUOTE (Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic. pages 63-64.)

    Capitalism and liberalism go hand in hand: self-interest is the bases of the market pricing mechanism. At this underlying philosophical level, liberals are simply not capable of resisting extreme capitalism and its pathologies. Hence, Clinton, Obama, Biden, and the whole neoliberal swoon at the feet of the Masters of the Universe, aka, financial predators, aka, Veblen’s The Leisure Class. Today, these pathologies of selfishness are easily seen in the libertarian / conservative argument that wearing a mask in a pandemic is an assault on personal liberty, as well as a libtard attempt to impose social control. In the founding period of the republic, people making such arguments would have been vilified and hounded out of the country to Canada or the Bahamas.

    Wood, again, p 60: QUOTE “In a republic “each individual gives up all private interest that is not consistent with the general good, the interest of the whole body.” For the republican patriots of 1776 the commonweal was all encompassing—a transcendent object with a unique moral worth that made partial considerations fade into insignificance. “Let regard be had only to the good of the whole” was the constant exhortation by publicists and clergy. END QUOTE

    Similarly, socialists, Marxists, and communists are philosophically incapable of resisting conservatism and neoliberlism. Philip Mirowski and Corey Robin have some really excellent articles on this; Mirowski in particular explains why von Mises’ conception of markets as a super calculator of value is philosophically impervious to any and all assaults by the left.

    My conclusion is that the only way you make conservatism and neoliberalism vulnerable philosophical is to jettison modernity’s separation of politics from economics, and return to a conception of political economy. And then, ask the simple and obvious question: what are the proper principles and policies of political economy for a republic? The first principle should be obvious: all concentrations of power are dangerous and must be broken up. Both political and economic power. That means, the rich are ALWAYS a threat to a republic. Go look up Madison’s Notes on the Vice of the Political System of the United States, and see what he wrote about people who control the “pecuniary” resources. Even better, read Machiavelli’s explanation, in the Discourses on Livy, of how and why the republic of Rome developed the office of the Tribunes to oppose the oligarchs of the Senate.

    Louis Brandeis’ solution to the problem of concentrated economic power was liberal through and through: allow organized labor to become a counterweight to the economic power of corporations. It hasn’t worked out too good, has it? But under republicanism, big economic power is opposed and dismantled simply because it is big.

    The only way to preserve the Republic, is to revive republicanism.

    Reply
    1. Foy

      “That means, the rich are ALWAYS a threat to a republic.”

      That’s exactly what Michael Hudson has been saying in his books and why there were debt jubilees in the past, to keep the creditors and rich from taking over society/state. Thanks for the comment, good to see it repeated there, I didn’t know about those comments from early in the Republic.

      Reply
      1. vlade

        “to keep … from taking over the society/state”. I disagree, I believe it was to prevent the poor from being so desperate they would be seen as having nothing to lose and hence clear and present danger to the elite *)

        This is what the elites don’t get. It’s much easier to control people who have something to lose than people who feel they have little to lose. Of course, the most dangerous are actualy people who have a small bit to lose but feel like they have nothing to lose, because when they lose even the bit they didn’t think they had, all hell’s going to loose.

        *) There were only very very short periods where the states weren’t controlled by the rich (even when the state was taken over by not-so-rich, after the takeover they generally becaue rich pretty quickly. Stalin, for example, had a great liking of American cars, as had most of the Soviet leaders post Stalin, most of them amassing quite a collection).

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > This is what the elites don’t get. It’s much easier to control people who have something to lose than people who feel they have little to lose.

          I think the “something to lose” line that cannot be crossed is (for parents) the children (“hostages to fortune”). So, a school system collapse or a vaccine debacle involving the young would be very bad. (I think people can tell themselves they will be the ones to win the lottery with college, etc., but when immediate physical survival is an issue, that is another matter.)

          Reply
          1. vlade

            That was the line that was crossed in 1989 in the CZ, where the regime beat up uni students on a demonstration (which wasn’t even strictly speaking anti-regime).

            People accepted beating of known dissidents (risks of trade), but when a peaceful student demo was crushed (and rumours of a student being beaten to deaths circulated, I always wonder how much it was a normal rumour mill and how much a real propaganda) by force, the penny has dropped.

            It was then interesting seeing how similar student demos were kettled in the UK not so long ago, and the UK populace didn’t seem to give a toss.

            Reply
            1. PlutoniumKun

              The same thing happened in South Korea in 1987. The government was busy cracking the heads of trade unionists and assorted leftists without any particular problem, then they made the mistake of killing a couple of elite University students who had joined in at the periphery of protests. This rapidly and irreversibly shifted the balance to the protestors as the urban middle and upper middle classes suddenly realised they could be the victims too.

              I saw an interview last week with a UK policemen who was astounded that the DC police didn’t use standard kettling tactics against the demonstrators. Kettling is horrible, but its very effective at neutralising demonstrators without providing obvious martyrs.

              Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Since the Republican Party has spent a century making very sure that “republicanism” means exactly whatever the Republican Party says it means at every moment to moment to moment, the ” republicanISM” being called for here would have to be given a somewhat different and differentiating name.

      Something like perhaps ” civic republicanism”, or “social republicanism” or “civic social republicanism” or “national civic republicanism” . . . . to keep the Republican Party and its trolls, moles and sappers from undermining the effort.

      And if a differentiating name can be created and defended against Republican Party co-optation and takeover and subversion, then it should perhaps be rolled out in those regions where it can take hold first and easiest. And those regions can govern themselves to some limited extent by its precepts and let other region-loads of people decide whether they like what they see.

      Reply
      1. Anthony K Wikrent

        Thank you for the excellent suggestion! It has always distressed me that so many people mentally associate the (anti-)Republican Party with republicanism. “Civic republicanism” I think captures best what I conceive republicanism to be, because civic virtue is a crucial component of civic republicanism. Civic virtue is important because it sets the standard that all citizens should do something with their lives that benefits their fellow men and women, thus benefiting the republic,

        This standard of positive good is what is missing from the conception of republicanism of Philip Pettit, John Rawls and others. I think even Mirowski and Robin are missing it. This idea of creating positive good shines through Alexander Hamilton’s Reports to Congress, especially the December 1791 Report on Manufactures in which Hamilton notes that government support is required to encourage the development and adoption of news ways of doing things.

        The best article on creating positive good that I have read so far is Edmund Morgan’s “The Puritan Ethic and the American Revolution” William and Mary Quarterly 24.1 (1967):

        “The Ethic conveyed the idea of each man’s and woman’s “calling” in life. “The emphasis of [work or labor] was on productivity for the benefit of society. In addition to working diligently at productive tasks, a man was supposed to be thrifty and frugal. It was good to produce but bad to consume any more than necessity required. A man was but a steward of the possessions he accumulated. If he indulged himself in luxurious living, he would have that much less with which to support church and society. If he needlessly consumed his substance, either from carelessness or from sensuality, he failed to honor the God who furnished him with it.” (91)

        And,

        “The calling of a ruler, as the colonists and their Puritan forebearers saw it, was like any other calling: it must serve the common good; it must be useful, productive; and it must be assiduously pursued.” (103)

        Note that the concept of stewardship conflicts with the Lockean insistence on the primacy of property rights. One of the most destructive myths we need to tear down is that of John Locke.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          You are most welcome! Feel free to re-engineer it further if indicated and if there is a way to find an affordable ” poor man’s Frank Luntz” to do focus group testing on the best form of the word, maybe that would be good too.

          Because there really does need to be a non-confusable brain-gripping word with the power to get people to hang around long enough for a second look and some reading about the subject.

          Reply
    3. eg

      I try to promote as widely as possible the understanding that the purpose of progressive taxation in a fiat currency regime is NOT to fund the state but to limit the damage/danger posed always and everywhere to democracy by plutocrats.

      The struggle against oligarchs goes all the way back to the rural userers of the Bronze Age.

      Reply
  47. urblintz

    My brother is home from hospital after a week battling the pneumonia… oxygen and who knows what else – ultimately he even got remdesivir, though it was after he’d turned for the better. They proned him too.

    69 year old professor emeritus of American Lit, fit as a fiddle, tennis and basketball 3-4 times a week, coach of women’s tennis team, published novelist and poet, all around good guy and I am much relieved. Yay!

    Reply
    1. epynonymous

      I’m currently selling my blood to make remesdevir. (technically, blood plasma, in the form of white blood cells. Different genres of science call them different things.) I have pretty serious allergies, so my regular blood’s white cell count is pretty high (since my allergy response creates an exaggerated immune response)

      Funnily enough, the pay for selling my blood plasma isn’t as high as some of the existing blood studies I was qualified for, but 300 bucks is almost as good as 450 every other time. (two weeks being the minimum between times. It took 6 whole months of back-to-back two week donations to get me below average WBC (white blood cell) levels.)

      I hear the treatment costs in the range of half a million dollars. Massachusetts doesn’t have nearly as many blood centers (for profit) as the deep south, and indeed the ‘study’ doctor is from the south. Long story.

      Selling blood is illegal, for obvious reasons of conflicting interests, but if it’s a study… or if it’s a ‘manufacuted blood product’ then those rules just fade away.

      More to say, but thank god for your family being okay before all else.

      A saved comment, unrelated, I would still like to share is that the idea that autism being so prevalent is a joke to me. The brain is being disrupted in-utero by… well, nobody knows but probably hormones… because autism is predominantly a condition effecting male children from birth. Women get autism at a 1-to-50 ratio to males easily, so implying that actions taken by women in selecting mates (when women don’t reguarly get autism) is… well… probably a lie.

      Purdue pharma/chicken seems a likely culprit. Not a sudden excess of reproductive freedom.

      If we treated Autism (which effects, as reported 1 in 54 births. Especially male births.) as seriously as COVID, then we would be a rational society. But both parties (D&R) could care less about public health and that is a fact.

      Reply
  48. Jeff N

    For those trucker hats, driver-facing cameras are now commonplace in trucking. If a driver (possibly from falling asleep) jerks the steering wheel or hits the brakes too hard, someone will review that video footage to see what the driver was doing.
    So that hat would be a good investment against them capturing your failure on tape.

    Reply
  49. VietnamVet

    I want to join the chorus and welcome back the comments. They provide a vital forum for finding the truth. This is the only site I visit regularly where reality has not been challenged by tribal beliefs and trolls. Where there still is discourse.

    The best description here of the current system is that it is “a corporate state” – government by and for corporations. But it is one step further, NAFTA trade pacts and supra-institutions like the EU make corporations superior to nations. In the USA, corporations are free to do anything they want to make money and are only be fined for their crimes (not jailed) even including manslaughter i.e. Purdue Pharma, PG&E and Boeing.

    Donald J Trump was a minor player in the hierarchy who latched onto populism to take over the Republican party. As also pointed out here, he is the symptom not the cause of the unrest. January 6th is the response to the de-industrialization of America and loss of jobs, lowered life expectancy due to homelessness, no healthcare and drug addiction. Ashli Babbitt served two tours in the Air Force in the endless wars and was deeply in debt. Identity politics is used by both parties to demonized ethnic groups to divide and conquer 90% of Americans; except, it is working too well and just as the color revolutions overseas, disunity breeds chaos.

    On Electoral Vote Counting Day, for the first time, the professional 10% felt real fear. Their response will be even worse than 9/11. Democrats (and Republicans) are the problem. The current system is broken – corrupt and incompetent. But they can’t admit it because this is how they can afford a mansion on Martha’s Vineyard.

    The return to government by and for the people is required to end the violence. Corporate money must be taken out of the elections and paper ballots counted in public. These are first steps. The Western Empire has fallen. This a Multi-polar world. Corporate propaganda no longer works. The USA is an ill quarantined nation that can only be saved by a unified federal public health/economic program to control the virus and end the economic depression. It is likely that for-profit vaccines will not work alone. There is no indication that the Biden/Harris Administration acknowledges reality any more than the failed Trump Presidency.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      @VietnamVet — Right on the money, as you so often are. Hope you are familiar with HJR-48, a constitutional amendment to end two things: constitutional rights for corporations and money as speech. Full text (it’s short):
      https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-joint-resolution/48/text

      For anyone who would like to support the grassroots group that has been fighting for this amendment for 10 years, it is movetoamend – dot – org

      Naked Capitalism and Move to Amend are the only two entities I support with monthly donations. Others get contributions once or twice a year.

      Reply
    2. orlbucfan

      VietnamVet: beautiful, eloquent comment which sums up my beliefs to a t. Glad the NC commentariat is back, alive, and well!

      Reply
    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Ian Welsh still has some of that sensible thread dialog between sensible people. You just have to speed-scroll past all the tribalists and the trolls and the tribalist trolls.

      Reply
  50. Daryl

    Unrelated to anything, but I would like to thank Lambert for prompting me to re-read Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch novels by quoting it several days ago.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      All Discworld novels are very good, not just the NW sub-series. I include in that the nominally “kids” Tiffany Aching books, which are still well worth a read.

      Reply
  51. Amfortas the hippie

    from one of the links, “by a commodius vicus of recirculation” , via Rod Dreher:
    “Some conservatives have been asking me why I’m directing so much of my anger at “our side,” when the “other side” has done so many horrible things. The short answer? Because I’m not responsible for the other side. I can’t change them. I have no influence over them. I am not surprised when my enemies do things I disagree with. It doesn’t make me angry, because I never expected anything different.
    But when my own side abandons its own principles willy-nilly, and then girds itself in the impregnable armour of puerile whataboutism (“Ok, so we did riot a little. But what about all those BLM riots over the summer, huh? Why didn’t the media get as angry about those!”), then I get angry.”

    https://johnjalsevac.com/2021/01/12/why-im-so-angry/

    I’m a left libertarian new dealer Proudhon admirer, and a non-religious jesus fan.
    I think it’s sadly hilarious that i find i could get along with the Drehers of the world better than i could with most of the folks who identify as “center-left” in this country.
    without the current bolus of socmed outrage, that’s the kind of “conservative” i am embedded with.
    I liked it a lot better when my neighbors were bored with politics, and distrustful of both parties.
    sigh.

    Reply
  52. The Historian

    “I don’t know. Readers, thoughts?”

    I’ve thought and thought about this since it happened and I think I have a different view, for what it is worth.

    First, I agree – this was not a coup attempt – but it was an insurrection. What frightens me is that the next one might actually be a coup attempt if these people are capable of learning – i.e., how Lenin staged his coup.

    One of the things I’ve noticed is that the militants that stormed the Capitol are actually not that cohesive of a group. There were Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and Qanon and various militiias, etc. They’ve unified under Trump because he gave them a platform – but without Trump, I tend to think that they will fracture again because each has their own grievances and each will want to be “the power”. Once they no longer have a national platform I believe that the infighting will begin. That is why Trump has to be thoroughly discredited and moved back into anonymity. I would have preferred the 25th Amendment solution but anything that will destroy his ability to be the ‘unifier’ will work for me. The trick is what do we do about the next ‘unifier’?

    I don’t have a problem with corporations limiting their access to social media – I would be a hypocrite otherwise because I believe that no web site should be forced to carry content that it doesn’t want. The real problem is not that AWS, Google, etc. are limiting their services – the problem is that AWS and Google, etc., are too big and control way too much of the social media. And I know that the militants will always find other ways to talk to each other as they are doing now under Telegram and Gab.

    What we need now are not more laws against them – the laws we have work fine – it would be nice if they were enforced. Here in Idaho we have many militants who stage mini insurrections and nothing is ever done about them – which has just made them more emboldened. There is really no reason to stage an insurrection at Idaho’s Capitol because Idaho voted more than 66% for Trump, but it will probably happen anyway just because the militants want to show their power. Yes, allow them to protest as is their right, but crack down on them when they step over the line. It won’t end the most militants’ attempts but it will stop the ‘go alongers’ who show up because their buddies showed up or because they just wanted to be a part of something. I think we have to always remember – these insurrectionists are actually a VERY SMALL minority of the people in this country and the most important thing we can do is not eliminate them – not possible – but work to keep them a VERY SMALL minority.

    But before we do anything else though, we need to lower the stress level. And I am gratified that Schumer at least understands that and is willing to bring up the $2000 stimulus immediately. Let us hope others in Congress understand that also. That has to be Priority 1 – even before any actions against Trump.

    There are lots of other things we need to do in this country to save ourselves, but I don’t think we will. All I can see us doing right now is trying to save what is left and hopefully buying us time to make some incremental changes before the United States completely falls apart. I don’t think we as a country really understand how dependent we are on the government and how hard it would be to actually physically survive without it.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      We had a militia-cum-church here and they really thought their flock of say 50 was going to take over things when the shit hit the fan.

      There’s no way of knowing, but the faces (few masks worn-that’s a clue as to who’s who) I saw @ the Capitol reminded me of our clique now doing time in your state.

      Calling them complete and utter nutjobs, is being polite.

      Reply
  53. Michael C.

    It figures Politico would include this line: “Nicolas Maduro perpetrated a self-coup in Venezuela after losing the 2017 elections.” The Right sat out the elections which catapulted Maduro to a win, though he lost seats in the National Assembly, and allowed the U.S. and its puppet allies to claim the elections were not fair. Elections observers said otherwise, but try googling the topic and getting a Left perspective on the subject. Google only gives you reporting by organizations like the NYT’s, WP, Reuters, the Guardian, etc., which all give the US and right-wing (Guaido) line.

    Reply

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