Links 1/31/2021

Naked mole rats have accents — and use them to discriminate against foreigners CNN

Crypto Entrepreneurs Seize on Reddit Revolt Ethos to Sway Users Bloomberg. Great. The dopamine loop comes to retail investing. Unless it’s already there?

GameStop mania: why Reddit traders are unlikely to face prosecution FT

Bit Structures Virtual Elena. The deck: “The death of physical retail has been greatly exaggerated.”

The Death of Economic Policy Stumbling and Mumbling

Big Tech is trying to take governments’ policy role FT

20 signs that the climate crisis has come home to roost High Country News


What Is Double-Masking? Here’s How It Can Keep You Safer From The Coronavirus Buzzfeed

America needs better masks to fight Covid-19 CNN

* * *

NERVTAG note on B.1.1.7 severity NERVTAG. UK government advisory group. On variants, a thread:

On the bright side, we’ve turned variant numeronyms into cute names. So there’s that.

* * *

Implementation and Evolution of Mitigation Measures, Testing, and Contact Tracing in the National Football League, August 9–November 21, 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly, CDC. From the abstract: “Assessment of the context of each interaction, including mask use, indoor versus outdoor setting, and ventilation, in addition to duration and proximity, can improve identification of high-risk contacts during contact tracing.” In a word, aerosols.

Covid: Data shows outbreaks in England’s offices in lockdown BBC. “Prof Cath Noakes, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee, said poorly ventilated offices could increase the chances of contracting Covid from tiny airborne particles by up to 70%.” Aerosols once more.

Our Reporters Who’ve Been Covering The Federal Executions Now Have COVID Indiana Public Media. The mail the Bureau of Prisons sent the reporter:

Note the 6-foot standard, irrelevant against aerosols, especially in a small, closed space.

Testing mobile air purifiers in a school classroom: Reducing the airborne transmission risk for SARS-CoV-2 medRxiv. From the Abstract: “Measurements and calculation demonstrate that air purifiers potentially represent a well-suited measure to reduce the risks of airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 substantially. Staying for two hours in a closed room with a highly infective person, we estimate that the inhaled dose is reduced by a factor of six….”

* * *

Sick kids in class, teachers punished for speaking out: Over 780 COVID-19 complaints reveal schools ignoring safety USA Today

Federal government wants Americans to buy groceries online, but most people on SNAP can’t USA Today

Computer-Shy Elderly Are Shouldered Aside in Vaccination Race Bloomberg

In Philadelphia, A Scandal Erupts Over Vaccination Startup Led By 22-Year-Old NPR. Enough with the ageism. Martin Shkreli was young once, too.

How the Search for Covid-19 Treatments Faltered While Vaccines Sped Ahead NYT

Doctor Do-Little​: The Case Against Anthony Fauci The Drift


China’s factory recovery slows in January as COVID-19 returns Reuters

Workers and Change in China: A Conversation with Manfred Elfstrom Made in China

BOOK REVIEW: Invisible China: How the Urban-Rural Divide Threatens China’s Rise Asia Sentinel

Britain opens visa scheme for millions of Hong Kongers Agence France Presse

Myanmar army backtracks amid coup fears Deutsche Welle

Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s anti-corruption czar, crowned party chief again Reuters

Australia reopens New Zealand ‘travel bubble’ after no new COVID-19 cases Channel News Asia


Biden signals a tougher line with the Taliban NBC. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.


Britain to apply for membership of CPTPP Asia-Pacific free trade bloc South China Morning Post

UK confident of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine supplies after call with EU chief Irish Examiner

European retailers face goods shortages as shipping costs soar FT

Scores of foreigners breach lockdown rules at Austrian ski resort Guardian


First on CNN: Trump’s impeachment defense team leaves less than two weeks before trial CNN. “The attorneys had not yet been paid any advance fees and a letter of intent was never signed.”

Ruling On The Record: The Senate’s Looming Prudential Questions Could Weigh Heavily With Members On Witnesses and Conviction Jonathan Turley

The Lincoln Project is a grift. But this is a fun letter:

Capitol Seizure

Text Messages Show Top Trump Campaign Fundraiser’s Key Role Planning the Rally That Preceded the Siege Pro Publica

Two Proud Boys members indicted for conspiracy in U.S. Capitol riots CNBC

“Stay in Place”—a D.C. Guardsman Reflects on Military Orders to “Do Nothing” During the Siege on the U.S. Capitol The War Horse

Biden Transition

Biden’s Grand Opening James Galbraith, Project Syndicate. Then again, that’s quite an act. What do you call it?

So when Galbraith writes “A broader reconstruction plan can and must come later; but crisis management remains the order of the day,” I have to wonder if that “broader plan” will turn out to be just like the $2,000 check that wasn’t: Less than promised, and not enough anyhow. For anyone with a short memory:

Biden signals support for Senate Democrats moving on COVID relief without GOP backing ABC

Democrats weigh expanding lower courts after Trump blitz The Hill

Trump left behind a sanctions minefield for Biden Politico

Cuomo callously addresses COVID nursing home report: ‘Who cares!’ NY Post

Police State Watch

How the LAPD and Palantir Use Data to Justify Racist Policing The Intercept

Lace the air with LSD LRB. MK-Ultra.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“This Secret Message Could Change Your Life!”: Wellness Culture, Jesus, and QAnon Snowden Stieber

Here’s What Happens to a Conspiracy-Driven Party Politico

Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Crazy And So Is The Rest Of Congress: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix Caitlin Johnstone

Who Actually Gets to “Escape” Into Fandom? Teen Vogue

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Longer Telegram: Toward a New American China Strategy. Anonymous, The Atlantic Council. They’re not the Pacific Council, ffs. Pivot from RussiaGate?

‘The Longer Telegram’ Is A Recipe For Costly Failure The American Conservative

Gone But Not Forgotten Foreign Affairs. The deck: “Trump’s Long Shadow and the End of American Credibility.” I’m so old I remember when “credibility” was the proffered justification for going to war in Vietnam, a war that we lost. Maybe “credibility” was due for a rethink in any case?

Fort Bliss says 11 hospitalized soldiers drank antifreeze they mistook for alcohol KVIA (Re Silc). Re Silc: “Like I say, we are in full USSR mode.”

Our Famously Free Press

Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins: ‘We’re on the precipice of the misinformation age’ FT. Legitimizing this… Blob Creature in “Lunch with the FT”? For shame!

Guillotine Watch

The aristocrats:

Class Warfare

They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants Reveal

The One Change I’d Make To The PRO Act Labor Law Lite

An Astrophysicist’s Detective Story: On That Giant Space Object That Passed Through the Solar System Literary Hub. ‘Oumuamua. A long-form teaser for the book.

Flecks of Extraterrestrial Dust, All Over the Roof NYT. Citizen science!

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. allan

    While a 22 year old, Mozart wrote the A minor piano sonata, the “Paris” Symphony (No. 31),
    and the Concerto for Flute and Harp in C major.
    So there’s hope yet for the would be vaccinated of Philadelphia.

    Speaking of vaccinations, more COVID-19 class warfare:

    URMC email suggested ‘major donors’ could jump vaccine line [WXXI]

    The University of Rochester Medical Center’s chief fundraiser told staff in an email that “major donors” to the hospital system who asked for vaccines could be given special consideration and leapfrog the inoculation queue by being shunted into what she called a “special patient services vaccine clinic.”

    A URMC spokesperson said the email was sent in error. …

    No, the email was leaked in error.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins: ‘We’re on the precipice of the misinformation age’”


    And then it says ‘Higgins is one of the internet’s good guys — a champion of truth in a post-truth world.’

    MWHAHAHAHAHAH (with tears in my eyes) make it stop. It’s too much.

    1. wilroncanada

      As my mother used to wax brilliant in Elliot Higgins’ math:
      If a centipede a pint, and a velocipede a quart, how much would a precipice?

    2. CarlH

      The comments at the FT seemed to eat it all up. They have deemed Higgins a hero of some sort. Depressing.

  3. Jr

    Re: Stay in Place

    The soldiers in the first photograph don’t appear to be in proper uniform. They look really cold, hugging themselves like that. Why don’t they have field coats on? For that matter, why didn’t they have cots?

    Also, is anyone getting the feeling that this riot was used as a Gulf of Tonkin style incident? To allow the authorities and tech companies to crack down? Apologies if this notion has already been discussed but it just occurred to me after reading this guy’s account of sitting on his hands while the Capitol got trashed.

    Finally, a belated “Glad you’re feeling better! to Yves.

    1. The Rev Kev

      What I don’t understand about those National Guard troops in DC is that I read that they have been forced to use MREs. I know for a fact that the National Guard has field kitchens so where are they all? They can’t all be in Afghanistan surely. I suspect that a lot of them are getting takeaway when they can but it must be a miserable duty post.

        1. Jr

          Upon reflection, it’s probably not these most apt historical comparison but you get my sentiment. Maybe the Reichstag Fire, this was a deliberate sabotage of law enforcement for an authoritarian end?

          To Rev’s point, that’s a great question. I remember an ancient, ‘Nam era 1st Sergeant telling us bald headed recruits that the Army will always feed you. It may be crappy at times but they will feed you. But this is unexplainable, they should be treating the Palace Guard like gold. All eyes are on them.

          More fuel on the fire, more messaging that everything is broken here.

      1. Felix_47

        As a 40 year veteran I can tell you that the reason is that the Army no longer does its own cooking even in Afghanistan and Iraq. They started to outsource cooking in desert storm to a degree when we were on the way in country as I recall. They would cook using dark skinned Indian slaves (they were Saudi contractor employees so slave is the correct word). These were often subcontracts from the big defense firms like Halliburton etc. In the field we still had field kitchens and cooks and they were regular troops who were trained to cook and that was the standard method and one I liked and we all liked it… built camaraderie and all of us had to do KP duty and use our imaginations to make something good out of a fixed assortment of raw materials. By Iraq I (Bush 2) they had fully transitioned to contractor provided food on disposable plastic plates. Same big US contractors and the same Asian subcontractors and the same Indians and Pakistanis who do all the slave labor in the Mideast. (when a Kuwaiti, Saudi or Iraqi contractor takes your passport and does not pay you because he claims he is paying the labor contractor who paid your airfare from Rawalpindi I would consider that slavery.) They would man, clean, cook and watch with hungry eyes as our soldiiers would throw away mountains of food, milk, ice cream and you name it while their families were starving. That was Camp Victory and all the others that I saw in Iraq. Afghanistan (Bush 2, Obama 1 and 2) was the same thing. Each FOB had a DFAC manned mostly by non Afghans (fear of terrorism) who were largely from India or Pakistan. Same labor contractors…..Halliburton etc. at the top taking a rake off and then subcontracting to some Pakistani who probably now has a house in the Bay Area with kids at Stanford. Same mountains of food thrown out and wasted to include lobster and steak in front of the hungry brown eyes of the workers….. On patrol or in the field it was MREs. Our military eating habits are really the face of the Ugly American but the contractors make bank and the Army does not have to have enlisted cooks and since I had years to think about it I calculated that every year we were downrange cost the taxpayer between 500,000 and a million dollars per capita based on location and not including veterans disability benefits so contracting out the work of cooks probably is cost effective for hte Army just as it is cost effective for our car manufacturers to move production to Mexico. Kind of the neoloberal Army. If we had a draft and if we paid soldiers subsistence wages like we used to and if serving was a national service instead of a job that many aspire to it would be much cheaper per soldier but we would really save because we would not be able to invade so many places because the mothers of the soldiers would raise hell just as in the Viet Nam era. Reinstituting the draft should be a major goal of anti war liberals in the USA. The Russians left Afghanistan because of the expense and pressure of the mothers. Now we just print more money and the mothers are silent because their kids are not forced to be there. The current lack of a draft means that many more kids will end up like Trump, a varsity athlete, who used bone spurs to get out of it and Biden, a varsity athlete, who used juvenile asthma to get out of it and like both who spent their entire adult lives isolated from the average American. One in fancy high rises in New York and the other in the senate. It would do the nation good to see the children of the Wall Street titans manning a field kitchen as draftee privates before they go to Yale and Harvard Law and their hedge fund of choice.

        1. KLG

          Thank you, Felix. I we had an inescapable Draft, with Heather and Brandon of the PMC doing the fighting and dying equally with Billy and Maria of the Deplorables, there would be no interminable and unwinnable wars in unnamable places.

          I have also often wondered at this subcontracting scam. It is no accident that mercenaries of all sorts are now called “contractors.” People naturally think of the building contractor who built their house rather than some skinhead with a $100K+ “contract” and an armored Escalade to drive around the ‘hood. Back in the day when the bad guys were coming over the wall the cooks grabbed their rifles, never too far away, and joined the fight. Same for the enlisted men and women doing the laundry, keeping the rosters, and sorting the mail. Now? Ha!

          In a related context, what if the consulate at Benghazi had been secured by a platoon of US Marines instead of an outside “contractor,” which is how I remember it (please correct me if I am mistaken). At the first sight of the “bad guys” said troublemakers would have been confronted with heavily armed, highly effective fighters with no back-down in them. And if they kept coming, close air support provided courtesy of the US Navy (assuming we had/have a functional fleet in the Mediterranean). But, hey, it was “cost effective” to contract out the duties of the United States Marine Corps…Well, not so much, actually.

        2. Donny

          Massive. Tax. Strike. This. April.

          New fighter plane? How about some goddamn PPE for our tax dollars?!

          1. Yves Smith


            You need to read up on MMT. Taxes do not fund Federal spending. That’s why the Pentagon has never worried about where the money for the next bombing run in the Middle East will come from.

            All a tax strike will do is get people hit with penalties and fines on top of taxes due, which will eventually be collected by wage and/or bank account garnishment.

        3. Keith

          In fairness, the KBR ran dining facilities were way better than anything the Marine Corps did, even in garrison. In a way, it makes sense, let the military focus on what it does best, producing widows and orphans while leaving the cooking and cleaning to others.

          1. Procopius

            As a retired REMF (google it) who served in Vietnam, I agree. The use of contractors was originally justified as freeing the soldiers from mundane chores so they could spend their time training and fighting. It was also sold as saving money, but in fact costs far more. I have mixed feelings about the draft, but in general agree with KLG. Something everybody was aware of, draftees were generally better disciplined and more competent (except for the poor Project 100,000 guys). Less likely to go AWOL or be put in the stockade. As for the Benghazi Thing, the normal complement of Marine Guards is actually pretty small, and, while I have the greatest admiration for Marines, I think the same thing would have happened to them as happened to the Capitol Police — they’d be overwhelmed by numbers. As for close air support, it was reported at the time (and many times during the many “investigations”) that the nearest aircraft were too far away to be helpful. And I don’t think anybody would have been willing to drop 500 pound iron bombs in the U.S. Capitol.

        4. curlydan

          Thanks, Felix_47, for an insightful comment on military cooking. Halliburton and their ilk are truly the scum of the earth but abetted by the system that supports their looting.

          While I can’t control what my early teen boys will do once they hit adulthood, I warn them that they should never fight in a war if the rich kids aren’t fighting.

        5. km

          To be fair, the Soviet Union had largely turned the war in Afghanistan around by the time they left, and the last Soviet troops to leave Afghanistan in 1989 left in good order, nothing like, say, The Last Helicopter Out Of Saigon.

          For that matter, the Najibullah government held on for two more years without Soviet troops, only falling when the government no longer received subsidized petroleum.

          1. rowlf

            The US military left South Vietnam in March 1973. Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese in April 1975. My younger adopted brother left Saigon on Operation Babylift and there was no room for him on the first C-5.

        6. Still Above Water

          One of my karaoke buddies is a cook in the Oregon National Guard, and last summer he posted a video of his mobile field kitchen that he shot during one of his weekend training exercises. He was quite proud of its Jet-A fueled stove burners.

          Maybe it varies from state to state, but there definitely are National Guard units with mobile field kitchens. So we still don’t have an answer to the good Rev’s question.

          Also, as an aside, karaoke is (or was) a great way to meet people outside your normal social circle.

          1. Keith

            You could probably say the same about the “all volunteer” military. Both do it as a job, aka for the money. One just collects his money directly from Uncle Sam while the other has an intermediary.

      2. polecat

        What would one expect, when one has to guard the rotund womb of the unknown dogfaced pony ‘soldier’. Takes a lot of Bron ‘doh’–‘what-are-we-doing-here!’ to stay cold and statuesque like that.

        1. Wukchumni

          I did a weeklong backpack trip with only MRE’s about 25 years ago and it didn’t really work that well, because the entrees really weren’t very good and oh so heavy compared to what i’d usually bring along, with a chemical heating element that was way awkward to use compared to a small stove. I’d never consider taking them again, although I gotta say, the pound cake was the bomb.

          1. Keith

            I remember those old ones, such as the now retired omelet with ham. I think they have improved the quality immensely since those days, heck the candy is even fresher. They are heavy, and when I was in the Marines, we would supplement with our own food, as well as had some fruits given to us to help the MRE’s go down. I also remember returning from the field to the barracks, and how nasty the common area toilets would get.

    2. Objective Ace

      I especially liked the comparison to the BLM protest: that the optics of that and the helicopters dive bombing protesters to get them to disperse was why they weren’t allowed to be present for the capital rally. Woe, is me.. all we were doing was reacting to public demands!

      As if there’s no middle ground

      1. Geo

        I once dated someone like that. If there was a problem her response was either (a.) full on shouting fits of anger and hostility, or (b.) the silent treatment and pouting for days.

        Good to know our National Guard and police forces are run by people with the emotional maturity of my ex.

        Of course, I don’t actually buy this excuse. Odd how the lapse of brutal force just happens to coincide with it being a rightwing protest. Funny how that always happens. The Bundy standoff(s), The khaki & white polo shirt marches a few years back, the anti-lockdown flare ups…. none of them met with a fraction of the force BLM or Occupy faced.

      2. Pat

        It was both an excuse and a justification. Not only was there no reason why more plain vans with men with riot gear couldn’t have been posted. But a large contingent could have been in the Capitol. The other big tell to me was the regretful, “we had riot gear” and a reference to Metropolitan Police with them who could have provided them to the trouble. But they were told to stay in place.

        IF the Capitol Police were going to get the help they needed why not dispatch those already available and nearby rather than wait for the next shift? It would no longer be about optics at that point. And it still doesn’t answer why the Capitol and Metropolitan Police failed to use standard disbursement techniques, other than they were inadequately staffed for a regular march.

        It may be incompetence, but as more stuff comes out, there is a darker side to this.

      3. Kurtismayfield

        Not only the BLM protest, but remember the Trump Inauguration? As soon as the agitators broke windows, the DC Police cracked down.

        The J20 defendants all were held responsible for the actions of a few. Hundreds of protestors were originally charged with inciting a riot and other charges. Eventually all charges were dropped:

        So the DC police had the ability to respond to rioters 4 years ago. The police tried to hold all responsible for the actions of a few In Jan 6th, they didn’t have that capacity all of the sudden.

        1. flora

          The Dems want to pass a new Domestic Ter*st law they’ve had written since 2019. Gotta have the narrative “need” to sell it to the politicians and the public. ;) /too foily?

    3. Skip Intro

      The article had a link to the “the Capital Guardians” sic. I thought it was a wonderful Freudian typo, substituting Capital for Capitol. Little did I know the actual site also spells it that way. Right out there in the open. In fact it is the DC Nat. Guard website with the distingushed header:

      District of Columbia National Guard
      Protecting The Capital and Defending The Nation Since 1802

      1. Yasha

        Nothing Freudian in this case — it turns out that “capital” has multiple meanings. In this case, “capital” refers to a city that’s a governmental center, as opposed to “capitol” which is a legislative building.

    4. dcblogger

      Also, is anyone getting the feeling that this riot was used as a Gulf of Tonkin style incident? To allow the authorities and tech companies to crack down?

      Are we to reject the evidence of our eyes? A violent mob attacked the US Capitol with the intention of hanging Mike Pence (they constructed a fully functional gallows) and murdering members of congress. But for the quick thinking actions of individual members of the Capitol Police and some congressional staffers, they would have succeeded. Trump would have declared martial law and the election disregarded. If they are not severely punished they will do it again, maybe successfully next time.

      The question is, why has Biden not insisted upon proper treatment of National Guard soldiers?

  4. Tom Stone

    The bait and switch of $1,400 checks instead of paltry one time $2,000 checks shows just how mean ( In the sense of small minded and cruel) Biden and the Democrats are.
    It feels like a deliberate provocation, especially since it wasn’t just Warnock, Biden himself said “$2,000 checks will be out the door immediately” if they won Georgia.
    If this is a ploy to guarantee losses in the mid terms so that the Dems have an excuse not to govern I expect it to work, however there are Millions of desperate Americans who will look at this as a deliberate insult.
    Which it is.
    Unintended consequences can be a bitch.

  5. jackiebass

    People on both parts of the political spectrum don’t seem to understand the difference between what a candidate promises and what they can deliver. This is really prevalent in the office of president. When running for president candidates usually make a lot of good sounding grand and glorious promises. This happens during every presidential campaign starting in the primaries. We have a government with more than one branch. Often these promises can only be delivered with approval of the legislature. Unless the presidents party controls both houses of congress it is difficult to deliver. In fact in the senate it usually means 60 senators. People need to understand that campaign promises are often not deliverable. The late Meryl Haggard in one of his songs called these promises Rainbow Stew. When deciding on a candidate one needs to understand all candidates serve big portions of Rainbow Stew. I guess what I’m saying is voters really don’t understand how our government is set up and works. Perhaps a comprehensive course in American Government should be required for a high school diploma.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Not just American politicians. And I quote: ‘After winning the 1996 Australian Federal election John Howard slashed spending on Education, Health, Social Welfare blaming a budget deficit left by the previous government. When it was pointed out that he had promised not to cut spending on these areas as part of his election platform and that he had lied, he claimed that these were “non-core promises”‘

    2. tegnost

      You’re absolutely right. The gov is set up to bail out the rich and wall st. What the h e double hockey sticks do you plebes want? A sparkle pony? Remember how fast they bailed out wall st? QE? Corporate bond purchases? As with democrat “incompetence” in all the various primary debacles, the mistakes, and the money, and the lies… They all go one way, they all serve the same scoundrels. Really great for the people with inflated assets though. And speaking of which, my friend on food stamps gets $195 a month and she’s supposed to order online? This country isn’t worth saving.

        1. Geo

          The poor in this country need to incorporate. PovertInc? Peasant Corp?

          Romney was wrong. Corporations aren’t people. They’re important. People aren’t.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Why do people refer to the shoveling of huge wealth out of the public worth into the pockets of the filthy rich as a “bailout?”

        It’s a rip-off, a steal, a theft of massive scale, not a hand of help and rescue extended to a person in real difficulties, which is what I would understand a bail-out to lexically be.

        In the same category corner, why is “donor” the descriptor used to describe the bribes and payoffs paid over by corps and billionaires to the legislators and bureaucrats and executives who lay down and impose “policy” in their favor?

    3. Pelham


      I’ve understood this quite well for at least 50 years and I still say that when politicians make any kind of hard-edged promise, they should be held fully to account if they don’t earnestly try to follow through.

      In fact, there ought to be a swift mechanism for removing politicians who simply shuck off their promises once in office — as happened with Obama and is now happening with Biden. When they begin “negotiating against themselves,” that’s a sure tell. If we routinely accept that campaign orations bear no resemblance to what pols will do when elected, how can there possibly be any representation, any democracy?

      I know that what I’m saying is very simple and leaves little latitude for what’s widely accepted as the sausage-making of the legislative process. But I can’t believe that turning a blind eye to calculated deceptions and utterly filthy practices in the sausage factory — as so often advised — is conducive in any way to decent or even tolerable government.

      1. timbers

        Agree. If campaign promises don’t count, then neither should votes and I should – demand – the right to take back my vote, and should enough others do that with me to change the election, the office holder should be immediately removed from office.

        1. JTMcPhee

          When the only candidates are those chosen by the two halves of the Monoparty of Great Wealth, that is not much of a remedy. As in Biden defaults on all his “progressive promises,” Trump Bad Orange Man is the Prez for another 4 years.

          All these wishful fixes ain’t gonna happen, folks — the game is rigged, and little marginal hopefully suggested tweaks and all those modifications of the Game that are so earnestly put forth (ranked choice voting?) will not change the direction of flow of wealth in any significant way. Except distribution among the Woke Folks and their inherited privilege.

    4. Don Cafferty

      “People need to understand that campaign promises are often not deliverable.” I know that I will be lambasted for saying, “People [and the campaigners] need to understand that campaign promises are often not deliverable.” I will be told that the campaigners already know that. The point that I am making is that in my country, one political party has abused campaign promises so much that it is now known as the party that promises but does not deliver. When it does deliver, it is known as the party that promises to the left and delivers to the right. A second point, ” … voters really don’t understand how our government is set up and works …”, is evident in the current Covid-19 situation. The voting public doesn’t understand the [separate] responsibilities of the differing levels of government. I have attended enough federal and provincial public political debates to observe that political candidates are often (regularly) asked questions that are beyond the responsibility of the level of government that they are seeking office. Sometimes the political candidates themselves are clueless and introduce their support and interest in affairs that are outside of the office and level of government that they seek. I find that federal political candidates are particularly prone to express interests that are beyond that government’s authority. The audience is generally unaware.

    5. Geo

      While I agree with your sentiment (too few seem to know much about the process) I completely disagree with it regarding this promise.

      You don’t promise a starving dog a bite to eat then get mad if you don’t deliver and the dog bites you. The American people are desperate. Biden promised them $2k relief immediately. He and the Dems are going to get bitten. If they do nothing expect 2022 to be a mauling.

      GWB put money in people hands. Trump put money in people’s hands. Dems might want to try to govern at least as well as those two dimwits.

    6. Kurtismayfield

      How come one side is allowed to deliver on promises, but the other side isn’t?

      Trump gave his supporters exactly what he promised.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Except, among other things, that promise to “drain the swamp.” Bribery (lobbying and “campaign” money), the muck of the swamp, was up during the Trump years. And Pompeo, e.g., that fatuous gasbag, landed lightly, as so many others did and will, in a very good paying gig.

        I read the Obamas are closing in on a net worth of $100 million. Hope the Obama cheerleading squad is happy for him…

    7. Jason Boxman

      But this is a specific, material promise. Vote us the senate, you will get a $2,000 check. It’s not “we’ll fight climate change” or whatever.

      And there are several paths to possible success:

      – Reconciliation, deploying whatever publicly visible tactics necessary to convince every Democrat senator to vote in favor
      – Eliminate the filibuster for this to make it a vote 50+1 vote, deploying whatever publicly visible tactics necessary to convince every Democrat senator to vote in favor
      – Reconciliation, pull a few Republican senators, offering whatever reasonable compromise is necessary to secure their votes

      Given the severity of the situation, making an earnest attempt to do this is truly the least the Democrat Party can do, and they aren’t even going to do that!

      Of course, I expected nothing, so I’m not surprised. But I’m not someone in need of immediate material aid.

      1. Aumua

        It’s just a big middle finger, right in the face of everyone. Obviously Biden could just make the checks $2000 but he’s not going to and you know why? “Because f*ck you, that’s why. You’ll take whatever scraps we throw you, and you’ll be grateful for them.”

    8. Chris Smith

      If a politician promises deliverables during a campaign, and then fails to deliver those deliverables in office, then that politician should rightfully be scorned and then voted out. Politicians are elected to get results not give a litany of excuses of why they could not deliver. The solution here, to my mind, is that politicians should cease over-promising and voters should cease re-electing politicians who do not deliver.

      What we have instead is a system built on BS (I am here using the philosophical definition of BS, see Henry Frankfurt “On Bull****”). The politician knows they are being untrue when they over-promise, the voter knows that the politician is being untrue and yet plays along. Thus the whole system is built on BS. This needs to stop.

      1. JTMcPhee

        The only campaign promises that are worth more than a bucket of warm spit are the ones made in swank spaces, mostly out of the “public” eye (barring Fifth Columnists ratting on them, like Romney’s “46%” sneer being recorded and publicized by a brave bartender, to people who represent, or can dispense from their own personal hoard, lots of bribe money. “It’s a private club, and you ain’t in it.”

    9. Eduardo

      When a politician makes a campaign promise they are obligated to go through the motions of pretending they tried to make it happen before giving up on it. That is the time honored American Way.

    10. dcblogger

      Trump never had 60 votes for his actions, neither did Bush43, but they got their way. It is embarrassingly obvious that Democrats are not even trying.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Well you have to remember the Democrats job.. to provide the firewall against the left. So they avoid any success that might make their left happy. Don’t worry, Biden will do what he is placed there to do.

      2. neo-realist

        The dems have stubborn blue dogs in their midst that make it difficult with a slight numerical majority, e.g., Manchin, Sinema.

        1. bob

          What if the dems really didn’t want to do it? How would that look any different from the current situation?

          If a tree falls in the woods….If the dems admitted they didn’t want to do it, would the apologists still post?

        2. wilroncanada

          Some, including Manchin and Sinema, I would rate as Fake Democrats, even more right-wing than blue dogs. It happens because the whole US election system is f&&ked.

      1. bob

        Foaming the runway with condescension…

        “Perhaps a comprehensive course in American Government should be required for a high school diploma.”


        1. HotFlash

          Perhaps there could be an entrance exam for political candidates. We have to pass an exam to get a driver’s license, ffs.

    11. Olivier

      Re. the difference between what a candidate promises and what they can deliver, George Friedman (of Geopolitical Futures) just penned an editorial on this very topic.

      1. wilroncanada

        It could be that election promises are just like “promises” made by candidates for my high school student council 60 years ago. The delivery takes a long time. One candidate (in jest, of course) promised co-ed washrooms. Now, 60 years later,they have them. They’re called unisex.

    12. Massinissa

      “Perhaps a comprehensive course in American Government should be required for a high school diploma.”

      Jackie, you said this same thing at least a month ago. I remember because I responded to it at the time. Not really sure you need to repeat it multiple times.

  6. Fireship

    > In Philadelphia, A Scandal Erupts Over Vaccination Startup Led By 22-Year-Old

    Doroshin comes across as a nasty, psychotic POS. America at its finest. Dear God, can this bufoonish country get any more degraded? Putting no-nothing braggart child hustlers in charge of a major city’s pandemic response? Is this real or a bad parody? Seriously! lol. Can the last serious person in America please turn off the lights on the way out? Actually, leave them on cos this is some hilarious sht.

    Disclaimer: this is also tragic and I pity the victims of USA (Utmost Satanic Avarice).

    1. IM Doc

      When I first read this story last week, I literally thought it was from The Onion or The Babylon Bee.

      But no – it is absolutely true. And absolutely very concerning.

      My father, an epidemiologist for the WHO and a public health officer must be doing thousands of RPMs in his grave right now.

  7. Wukchumni

    As of early November, Lake Powell’s surface elevation had declined by 35 feet since the same date in 2017, and summer hydroelectric output from Glen Canyon Dam’s turbines was 13% below the previous summer’s.

    20 signs that the climate crisis has come home to roost High Country News

    Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 Upper Basin drought contingency plan.

    The 24-month study released in January by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which projects two years of operations at the river’s biggest reservoirs, showed Lake Powell possibly dipping below an elevation of 3,525 feet above sea level in 2022. That elevation was designated as a critical threshold in a 2019 agreement to preserve the ability to produce hydropower at Glen Canyon Dam.

    Combined, Lakes Powell and Mead are forecast later this year to hit their lowest levels since the two reservoirs filled decades ago.

    As exceptional drought conditions expanded to more than 65% of the watershed’s total land area in 2020, operational forecasts for the Colorado River have worsened dramatically. From October to November 2020, Bureau of Reclamation models projected a possible 1 million acre-foot drop in Lake Powell’s water storage due to lagging snowpack totals and record soil moisture deficits.
    Look @ this map and most of the Colorado River basin is in extreme drought
    Notice how HCN related that Lake Powell has dropped 35 feet since 2017, and the more mainstream media uses a highfalutin number above sea lea level that makes it look as if there’s thousands of feet of water in the lake. Nice subterfuge!

    Lake Mead resembles the Aral Sea, boat launching ramps @ marinas 400-500 feet from water, and more importantly what’s left of the lake will not be able to provide hydropower to Hoover Dam in the not too distant future. I’ve found that few people in LV really know whats going on, as nobody really drives the length of Lake Mead, as there’s nothing there to entice them to go. If you were on the LV Strip, you’d have no idea what’s happening.

    I propose that every Vegas casino have stationary bicycles (think Peloton) in front of their houses of chance hooked up so the punters & assorted proles can provide cycle-power, and light up some of the signature neon lights in glitter gulch.

    Las Vegas is so done, parched for 20 years and then a pandemic shows up-the coup de grâce.

    1. JWP

      Will we ever see calls to remove the Glenn Canyon Dam gain legitimate strength? The porous sandstone in lake Powell loses half the water stored with more lost to evaporation. In terms of conserving water, it’d be better served to drain Powell as far as it can go to fill Mead where more water is conserved.

      1. Wukchumni

        Hard to say whether it’ll be removed or not, lots of people have an interest in the lake for recreational pursuits, and it would cost a tidy sum to remove it…

        In the meantime, what a perfect opportunity to pimp my favorite John McPhee book from 50 years ago:

        Encounters with the Archrdruid

        McPhee goes on a river raft trip on the Colorado with the leader of the Sierra Club: David Brower, and the head of the Bureau of Reclamation: Floyd Dominy.

        It’d be like doing a raft trip with Trump, Obama & Chomsky.

  8. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “the media influencer badge”:

    Brilliant, and worth a click through. There are no doubt many people ready to line up for their “very own plaster baronial crest” at $2,999.99, but got pranked by the end of the web site.

    I like her other works: as well.

    1. Fireship

      I thought it was meaningless crap. Which is probably the perfect “art” for a meaningless, crap society. Most of her “work” seems like the stuff you’d come up with at a corporate brain-storming session. Sushi crepes, anyone? Nathan Barley’s hell world has come true. Well futile!

      1. The Historian

        I thought this was hilarious! I’m waiting to see these crests show up on abandoned buildings, sheds and shacks, and all sorts of urban rot!

      2. Basil Pesto

        Nathan Barley is an extremely undervalued cultural artefact. Probably more/just as prescient as Black Mirror.

        Can’t quite tell if Ms Baskin is in on the joke or not. Or hedging.

    2. IM Doc

      My first thought when I saw that article – was “Is there a better way to mark your home for the wrath of future mobs?” –

      Sort of like a reverse Passover.

    3. polecat

      Yeah .. About that stain glass airplane window ..

      I’d prefer mine being a depiction of a tinkering Cloud Yeti, to uh, you know .. contemplate and maybe conquer, my Inner Shatner.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    The Longer Telegram: Toward a New American China Strategy. Anonymous, The Atlantic Council. They’re not the Pacific Council, ffs. Pivot from RussiaGate?

    ‘The Longer Telegram’ Is A Recipe For Costly Failure The American Conservative

    Its depressing that this sort of stuff (i.e. the content of The Longer Telegram) is taken seriously by People who Matter, but its inevitable when you have a vast employment apparatus geared at generating and implementing policies like this. Quite simply, too many peoples jobs depend on an aggressive foreign policy.

    But that said, some sort of strategy is needed (even not having a strategy is a strategy), but what i find striking about The Longer Telegram (something it shares with other, less aggressive and anti-imperialistic alternatives), is that it is written as if everyone else in the region doesn’t matter. Koreans, Japanese, Thais, Vietnamese, etc., either don’t seem to exist, or (as often seems the assumption among many left wing anti-imperialist writers), have no discernible agency outside of responding to US or Chinese moves.

    The reality is that if you just look at one metric alone – military spending – most of the mid sized powers in the region are rapidly arming up, and the focus is very much on protecting their own interests. Its pretty clear that they see a future world in which the US either disappears, or becomes chronically unreliable, and China becomes the big beast on their doorstep. They are also looking at nukes – the South Koreans, Japanese and Taiwanese have all had some type of programme and are almost certainly capable of developing warheads rapidly if they see the need.

    The future of Asia is going to be complex, possibly quite violent, and there are far more than just two players in the game.

    1. Weimer

      I would hope that if the Asians are left to their own devices (meaning that a certain power butts out, gracefully or not), there’d be no need for the future to be “quite violent.” Let’s hope their general pragmatism wins, and they just continue to trade and develop their societies, peacefully.
      Something similar for the “complex future.”

      1. Basil Pesto

        I would hope that if the Asians are left to their own devices (meaning that a certain power butts out, gracefully or not), there’d be no need for the future to be “quite violent.”

        uh, is there anything about the past of the region that gives you said hope for the future?

  10. Carla

    A link to add:

    I know it’s useless to shout into the wind, but I live very well without Amazon. Just saying, it can be done and is not onerous, despite Matt Stoller insisting a consumer boycott is useless. I understand that failure of the retail arm of Amazon would still leave a Goliath with monopoly positions in other industries standing. Neverthless, wouldn’t less cheap sh*t purchased from and delivered by Amazon be a net plus for the retail sector and the environment?

    1. marym

      I’ll join your shout into the wind. Years ago when stories first appeared about working conditions at the warehouses, I stopped ordering from Amazon. I actually assumed most people would do the same and that it would help get results for the workers. Except for supermarket shopping and a few neighborhood shops, I buy everything on line, occasionally by phone. It’s not difficult at all, and I’ve never had a problem.

      1. c_heale

        I now never buy from Amazon either and encourage my friends not to. It’s easy as long as you know it also owns some other companies (like Abebooks). It’s easy to find other online stores nowadays, much easier than a few years ago.Many of these are at least the same price. And since a lot of the reviews are now know to be false, it’s hardly worth looking at the website at all.

    2. Ella

      I rarely buy from amazon. Unfortunately my boss gave me a $25 gift card to Amazon for the holidays. After a $25 giftcard to Starbucks last year which I also never buy from…..

    3. Carolinian

      My brother lives on Amazon but even he says it’s a lousy place to buy groceries–sometimes stale products and not very competitive prices.

      Stories on business sites suggest that Walmart is serious about taking on Amazon and may yet give us a duopoly of online bigfeet rather than a monopoly. Walmart is adding robot operated dedicated product picking areas to their stores to enlarge the available range of goods for nearby orders

      1. Wukchumni

        I ordered $40 worth of Topo Chico bottled water from Wal*Mart last month and it was heavy and delivered free in 2 boxes by UPS.

        It would’ve cost me about $50 to ship, if I was the seller.

    4. Geo

      You’re not alone. Been abstaining from using them since their early days when they quite vocally were trying to demolish bookstores. Have broken that boycott twice over the years (some items are literally only available on Amazon now) but for the most part have lived without them.

      Sure, the still get my money when I use IMDb,, and probably numerous other sites online. And, my films are available on Amazon so I’m a total hypocrite. But, even if my measly boycott is a mere ripple in the ocean, if enough of us did it might make a splash.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Your films . . . . as in, films you make?

        If Amazon is the only outlet left, because Amazon has destroyed every other outlet there was, how does that make you a hypocrite? Doesn’t that make you a captive? A prisoner of Amazon?

    5. Alternate Delegate

      When Amazon bought Whole Foods I was able to consolidate two entries from my boycott list into one.

      Never bought from Amazon. Never will.

    6. DJG

      Carla: Thanks. Same here. I order on-line direct from publishers and bookstores (not Amazon). I sent Christmas gifts using local stores, especially since these days everyone is willing to ship gifts.

      In fact, I recently had someone diddle with a charge card. I got a notice that someone had charged something at Amazon Marketplace, whatever that is. I called the issuer and replaced the card.

      So Amazon may be a good way of knowing if someone hacked a card…

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Scores of foreigners breach lockdown rules at Austrian ski resort”

    It would be interesting to see just who those 96 people were. I doubt that they were just ski-b*ms as virtually most of the ski resorts are closed last I heard. Considering there were Britons, Danes, Swedes, Romanians, Germans, Australians, Irish people and Poles, perhaps they bored people with a bit of money behind them that could not stand to miss a skiing trip. Meanwhile in Paris, police there had to shut down a gathering of a similar number of people but this one was for an orgy. I wonder if they at least used hand sanitizer-

    1. PlutoniumKun

      There are a lot of people determined to have their trips abroad, no matter what. Some have convinced themselves that its not a problem as they are young and healthy. Its not just the young – the late 70’s mother of a guy I know insisted on flying on a Spanish holiday in November, despite her families pleas not to do it. She said she couldn’t bear sitting at home any more and needed the sunshine, and to hell with Covid.

      I also know a some younger people who have annual ‘get togethers’ in one place or another – surfers, skiers, in one case MMA fans, and they simply haven’t been able to resist the urge to keep it up, they’ve just changed venue or been more surreptitious. One friend of a friend who works in a warehouse did this over Christmas, turned up back at work in early January and was told in no uncertain terms by his management to sit at home for 2 weeks – someone in his company had sent his social media feed to his boss. I’m surprised they didn’t fire him, but I’m pretty sure they refused to pay him for the two weeks quarantine.

      1. Stephen C.

        Okay, what about getting on a plane and going abroad to initiate a plan to apply for residency outside of the USA? The next six months might be our collective last chance, getting out just under the wire, as it were, before they lock us inside Camp USA. This might be especially pertinent for someone who, because of inflammatory disease preconditions, is wary of the vaccine, and sees vaccine passports coming down the pike. Asking for a friend.

        But a ski vacation? Nah.

      2. Pelham

        As for the affluent indulging in foreign travel, I wonder whether at some level they believe their wealth and lifestyles somehow render them much less likely to contract the disease. After all, affluence does elevate them from nearly all the miseries and precarity that most of us endure.

        1. wilroncanada

          Funny thing, Pelham. We had a case her in British Columbia, where the (former) CEO of The Great Canadian Gaming Corp. Rod Baker, 55, and his spouse Ekaterina, 32, flew to Whitehorse in the North West Territories. Spurning the 10-day quarantine order for anyone flying in, they then chartered a plane to Beaver Creek in Yukon, about 400 km northwest, near the Alaska border, where vaccinations were being administered to the isolate community of about 100. They claimed to be workers in one of the lodges to get their first dose of vaccine, then asked, right in the same site, for someone to call them a cab to the airport!!! When they got back to Whitehorse, the police were waiting for them to give them a fine for not quarantining. They later flew back to Vancouver where he resigned, and they are facing charges for line-busting. Of course, they will also have to forego their second dose.
          Unless, they fly to Florida, where a lot of semi-Canadians are getting “done”.

    2. 1 Kings

      Yep, like how the new Covid variant leap-fogged into Colorado.. Hmm, how could that have happened..?
      Same a-holes spread it last January throughtout the Euro after their chalet gatherings in the Alps.
      Their poop no stink, but their breathing has killed.

  12. Pat

    And that excuse works extremely well until you have all three branches of government with a large majority and can’t get diddly. Or get worse than diddly, aka a mandated healthcare reform that largely provided little or no healthcare but gave those industries a large regular income. But on every other score Majorities that are blocked by the same opposition that passes a large percentage of their priorities when they have one House and the Presidency.

    And here is that excuse trotted out again though this President has the majority in both Houses. Of course this majority Senate leadership has already shared that power with the MINORITY leader, something that McConnell would have never done.

    It is NOT Rainbow Stew it is Snake oil if the people elected do not use every lever they have to pass the agenda they ran on. And the Democrats never do that, they discover blocks on every item that was important to getting them elected. I will give Biden credit for at least using Executive Orders to sort of do things. Mind you Trump made the fact that the Presidency had gotten huge power for this over time to EVERY American, so the excuse that the President could do nothing without legislation died and left Biden with NO cover on it, but I suppose it is a small improvement.

    Look, I get that not everything we want and voted for will happen at the best of times. But there comes a point where you put forty years of experience together with the broken promises and you acknowledge that they have spent years not even getting you crumbs, but giving the big donors everything from wars, and legal sham charities to the ability to make billions and never give anything back but donations.

  13. PlutoniumKun

    Bit Structures Virtual Elena. The deck: “The death of physical retail has been greatly exaggerated.”

    I think this is correct. We are seeing fundamental changes in how retail works, but its not the death of it – people still want to go shopping. What we are seeing is a rapid change in retailing, but we’ve seen this happen multiple times in the past. We often forget how different shopping looked 20 or 40 or 60 years ago.

    Just as an example, I was reading in a local history about a Main Street in south Dublin in the 1950’s, before it was hobbled by the rise of the supermarkets. All the local shops had an agreement whereby they hired delivery boys to serve the local area, and each would take orders from the other. So Mrs. Ryan could call the local butcher, ask for her usual pork chops and also ask for some curtain hooks from the hardware, some onions from the greengrocer, and some fresh bread from the bakery. She would have her delivery at her door within an hour. She would settle up next time she was in any one of the shops. That sounds not to dissimilar from lots of local models developing with Covid, albeit with an extra bit of theft by some Deliveroo type company (and probably slower too). Certainly slower than even the fasted Amazon delivery. It was the supermarkets in the 1960’s that killed this model stone dead, and started the demise of many local Main Streets. And they in turn were at least partially killed by big box retailers.

    Department stores are a big casualty of Covid, many have shut lately, but many seem to be as much the casualty of private equity mismanagement and a misreading of the market. A few retail experts I’ve read are I think quite reasonably predicting that smaller department stores that seem a lot like the upmarket stores of a century ago will make a come back. Places with high quality staff who focus on helping and advising (and measuring up if possible) people who want to enjoy the shopping and maybe want to buy something a little special rather than whatever has been pushed on them by chain retailers as ‘this years must have’.

    On the lower end, one thing that struck me when shops here opened, in November, was that the biggest queues were at the fast fashion discount stores. Supposedly, these were being wiped out by cheap and cheerful online stores, but it seems that there is a limit to how much people will buy online – they want to try things on. Teen girls in particular seem to like the social aspect of shopping together, it just isn’t as much fun online.

    The good news is that the big casualties so far seem to be the chains, rather than the smaller, most specialist stores and restaurants. One thing I’ve noticed in my area is that a lot of independent restaurants have turned into delis. In my area there are now two former restaurants and one pub which now sell fruit and vegetables and upmarket foods, including locally produced preserves and fermented foods. Maybe thats niche, but maybe these are also going to bite into the model of chain restaurants. A few weeks ago when passing a small village I know where nearly every shop has closed over the past 10-20 years leaving just a small grocery, there is a brand new deli. It was opened by a cafe run by a local woman – she obviously decided the cafe couldn’t work in a downturn, so she opened a store front deli, including her home made cakes and breads. Even though the village is tiny and in a pretty poor rural area, there was a queue of people patiently waiting for their coffee and banoffi.

    1. wilroncanada

      In my little village, 70km north of Victoria, BC, two new businesses have opened since the pandemic began: a drug store (there hasn’t been a drugstore her for more than 20 years), and a kraft/gift shop (she is a graphic designer who sell in US and Canada, and can do her design work by computer from part of her store). In the nearest town 20 kms, several stores have closed permanently, but almost as many new ones have opened.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I think we’ll see more of this, especially if and when rents fall. There are lots of little businesses that don’t need a shop front, but if they are available at a reasonable rent, they’ll set one up. On my street, in a little forgotten corner a linen designer and a felt craftsman have set up little workshop/ retail outlets. Both largely depend on online business, but its an advantage to them to have somewhere that passer-by’s can drop in. You can see this in some little towns long term, like one of my favourite towns in Colorado, Salida. Local conservation ordinances led to a surplus of old style shop units, and they were taken up by crafts people and artists.

  14. Wukchumni

    Dominic Pezzola, 43, of Rochester, New York, and William Pepe, 31, of Beacon, New York, were initially charged by criminal complaint and arrested earlier this month, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

    Two Proud Boys members indicted for conspiracy in U.S. Capitol riots CNBC

    Was Pepe frog-marched to jail?

  15. flora

    re: Here’s What Happens to a Conspiracy-Driven Party – Politico

    Nothing about “russiarussiarussia”, then? / ;)

    1. urblintz

      I read no further than the sub-title which indicated the report would not include the Democrats and Russiagate, just another of Politico’s pointless partisan prevarications.

      1. km

        Yeah but the Russiagate conspiracy theory was approved and sanctioned by elite opinion, so that makes it Okay!

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      …. One lesson for 2021 Republicans is that being purely against something and someone can only take you so far….

      Wait, what???? A lesson for Republicans???? Did they sleep through joe’s entire “campaign?”

      Gotta say, all these “Hints from Heloise” columns from democrat and never-Trump propaganda media outlets “counseling” republicans on how not to blow themselves up are getting pretty comical. As if they’re really, really concerned that that might happen.

      If I were a bigger person, I’d “advise” the democrats to pay more attention to their own backyard, and quit trying to “solve” everybody else’s problems. But I’m not, so I won’t say that $1400 doesn’t equal $2000.

      1. Wukchumni

        At this point the advertising should be more like:

        Want a $2,000 check from the government?

        Buy scratch-off lottery tickets, and good luck!

  16. PlutoniumKun

    The Death of Economic Policy Stumbling and Mumbling

    The deck – nobody, on the right or the left, wants to talk about economics anymore. Politics is now just…. politics.

    I think this is precisely why MMT is so important – as our hosts and others have long pointed out, it was the hippies back in the 1970’s deciding that numbers just weren’t cool (unless you were coding) that meant the left lost the argument comprehensively to the neoliberals. But now even the right has given up on it – hence in the UK the former Thatcherites have turned into rabid mercantilists of an almost Maoist intensity. And nobody seems to have noticed.

    If there is one small bright spot to a Biden presidency, it is that at least in the early days, he is talking about industrial policy and the need to inject cash into peoples pockets as a macroeconomic necessity. Yes, we know he won’t deliver, but at least some type of real economic discussion is now on the agenda.

  17. timbers

    Federal government wants Americans to buy groceries online, but most people on SNAP can’t USA Today

    As a foodie in my own, limited application, yet still very important to me, I can’t resist responding in kind to anyone who thinks they want to take my food selections and choices away from me. Who’s going to choose the avocadoes of just the right amount of ripeness? Tomatoes that not too
    hard or too soft? Broccoli the freshest with no signs of rot? Fresh mushrooms not showing a bit of overly black aging marks on the shelf? Red onions no squishing from being passed over
    for too long?

    Retaliation is in order:

    Citizens want Federal government workers to relieve themselves in outhouse

    1. The Historian

      I’m not on SNAP and pickup is free in my area, but gawd, I cannot wait for Covid to be over so that I can go back to shopping for myself. Most people in this area don’t take Covid seriously and are shopping in stores, some with masks, some without, but I cannot take the risk right now so I shop online and pickup my groceries.

      What happens is that they dump their old food on you. You get soggy tomatoes, bread and milk that have their “use by” dates on the same day you buy them, old eggs, the worst cuts of meat, etc. I’ve stopped eating fresh salads because the produce I get is so bad. And it isn’t just one store that is doing this, it is all of them.

      1. Objective Ace

        I wonder if you could use instacart or task rabbit? At the very least they won’t be incentivized to get rid of the grocers expired stuff. With at least task rabbit you can communicate directions ahead of time. They’ll probably roll their eyes, but if you tip them well and promise continued weekly demand they should be willing to oblige

        1. The Historian

          And how much extra would that cost me?

          I could probably hire a personal shopper – if I had the money, couldn’t I?

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          What if none of the instacarters or task rabitters know anything about food? How then can they pick “good” food for you?

          Eventually people will try their best to get or build some kind of “supermask” so they can do their own food-hunting in stores. Perhaps someone will invent and sell a whole-head air-filter helmet something like an old-fashioned diving suit helmet that people can wear when leaving the house. It would fit over the whole head and neck and could be sealed airt-tightly around the base of the neck. Then people could do their own shopping again.

      2. polecat

        If st. Fauci, Cardigan Bill, the ‘WHO’ are you, Credulousy Decrepit Cranks, and any other assorted SchwabianCloud induced ‘perts’ have THEIR way, this Pan’sdemic will be everlasting. So you will continue to bubble-up, and Like It!

        THEY, on the other phomite laden hand …..

      3. Winston Smith

        I still go shopping, with a mask, as early as possible in the morning and never on the weekend. Not available to all obviously. The spread of the more contagious variant means I will double mask or wear the KF94 or KN95 from now on. The production of these should be a national priority

        1. chuck roast

          Well, everybody in Stop & Shop had a mask on today. A couple of people got annoyed with me because I went down an aisle the “wrong” way. Not a smart shopper. We’ll soon have the National Guard directing traffic in Produce. Anyway, that what I get for shopping in the suburbs.

    2. tegnost

      I can see this being a real problem for amazon. They know who their customers are. They know who their wealthy customers are. They know their wealthy customers want high quality fruits and veggies, which as you point out need to be picked out from a pile that has a lot of not perfect and even not good choices. What to do with a warehouse full of sub par produce? They need more lessers to unload the bad stuff on… added bonus then wealthy people can lecture poors on their complaining about getting sub par food for their food stamp pittance. “What did you poors expect? Edible food?”
      We already have what is essentially a two tier food system, organic for rich people (otherwise known as actual food) and GMO pesticide laden but cheaper! ground meal and frankenfruit for the lower class…

      1. gc54

        We can expect “Amazon Day-Old” (TM), “savings delivered to you!!!” $1 coupon good towards digital download of some cr@p on Prime.

  18. The Historian

    Thank you for keeping that Biden promise of “$2000 check immediately” alive. It has pretty much faded from view – although I don’t think from people’s minds. People will remember come election day.

    I do wish the progressives were hyping it more to force the issue, though! Now would be a good time to spend whatever monies they have left from the election on getting this out to the public!

    1. The Rev Kev

      #BidenLied is topping Twitter trends at the moment which was quick. Below are two Russian sourced versions of this story. What is really interesting in them is the tweets which are worth reading, especially the one that says ‘That additional $1400 would be appreciated. I, for one, clearly understood that the stimulus would total $2000.’

      1. The Historian

        Thanks for those links. I don’t go to Twitter so I missed that #BidenLied hashtag.

        But many of those comments sound more like Bidenistas (remember the Clintonistas?) tweeting than what the feeling of people in this country is.

  19. BobW

    SNAP groceries–I am able to get groceries delivered using a SNAP card. Walmart, at least in this area, accepts the card for pickup and delivery. I had been using pickup for about a year, and they recently allowed it for delivery. Pickup had trouble with the portable card reader about half the time.
    I’m in my late 60s and have COPD, so this is a great help. I know about the bad Walmart, but this has to go on the plus side.

    1. Carla

      I’m very glad you’re getting the help you need. One thing about Amazon: it has done the impossible and made Walmart look — well, not good, but not quite as bad. But personally, I’m in a position to refrain from enriching the Walton family, and so I do so.

      1. RMO

        “One thing about Amazon: it has done the impossible and made Walmart look — well, not good, but not quite as bad”

        The silicon valley/tech promise: “There’s nothing in the world that is already so bad that we can’t make it much, much worse.”

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The silicon valley/tech promise: ” We’ll put a digital lamprey on the side of every analog lake trout in the world.”

    2. CitizenSissy

      Bob, I’m glad you’re able to safely get the groceries you need. IMHO the delivery systems are still overwhelmed, and many of those delivery customers could safely shop with appropriate safety protocols. An immunocompromised friend’s delivery orders were, early in the pandemic, FUBAR to the point where I piggyback her grocery list when I shop. I also remember reading about volunteer organizations whose members shopped for the homebound in NYC.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Flecks of Extraterrestrial Dust, All Over the Roof”

    Full credit to Jon Larsen for having the brilliance and determination in seeing through this idea of his. I wish him full success. I could not help and think that perhaps if the astronomers had checked, it may have turned out that there was also extraterrestrial dust on their telescopes as well. Being a big glass surface, that might have been a good place to collect samples of what they were looking for.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Reminds me of how, since prehistoric days, buckminsterfullerene had always been present in plain old soot — when it was finally discovered, what was really notable was that, prior to the discovery, it seems no scientist had ever bothered to look.

  21. noonespecial

    Re ProPublica/Text Messages –

    The article notes: Since April 2017, Wren and her Texas-based firm, Bluebonnet Consulting, have received more than $890,000 from the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee, FEC records show.”

    speculation by this commenter – Could it be that the road to Jan6th was in part paved by the machinations of the Mercer clan, who since at least 2016 have bet handsome loads on the MAGA dream? I would add that maybe, just maybe, a pardon for Steve Bannon somehow extends the protection blanket to the Mercers.

    From the Intercept:

    The Mercers have funded numerous other organizations now peddling baseless claims about the election…Rebekah Mercer is a principal investor in the Parler social media network and has an equity stake in Breitbart News, which has propagated false information about the election being stolen, and she is a close associate of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and current Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway as well as Flynn.

    1. ivoteno

      whenever i see “baseless claims” or “thoroughly debunked” in the media these days, i also tend to notice a certain smell that reminds me of farmland…

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I wonder how Democrats would respond if you told them you consider the Stolen Election claim just as baseless as the Russia Collusion claim, no more and no less.

  22. urblintz

    I have admired both the father and the son but after reading the Project Syndicate article I must conclude that the son has no clue as to who Joe Biden really is and found Galbraith’s optimism and hagiography cringe-worthy: “But following a magnificent inauguration, we are already seeing the first rays of coherent, qualified, dedicated, and serious leadership. Biden is certainly capable of meeting the emergency at hand, and he has already seized the moment.”


        1. dave

          It’s like Galbraith threw away the last 30+ years of Democratic Party and Joe Biden behavior and thought “screw it, Biden’s going to be a New Deal Democrat if it kills me!”

          Galbraith must want a job in DC.

    1. km

      I read that article, and I was amazed and infuriated.

      Apparently Galbraith Jr. really really wants to perform an obscene sexual favor for Biden and he can’t just come out and say it. Amazing.

      At the same time, I wasted two minutes of my life reading some dude’s mash note. Infuriating.

  23. Jeff W

    Reading about those naked mole rat accents led me to learn the answer to a far more, um, pressing question: Why and how do wombats poop those cuboid shapes for which they are “renowned”? (It’s always gratifying to discover that others are wondering the same thing you are.)

    I won’t spoil things by spilling the beans here but the answer suggests, as the wildlife ecologist from the University of Tasmania who revealed the findings said in a statement, “an entirely new way of manufacturing cubes.”

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Britain to apply for membership of CPTPP Asia-Pacific free trade bloc”

    Ummm, would that be wise? Especially in light of their history with the EU? The UK could use their economic weight to push around some of the smaller countries of the CPTPP if they joined. I could not help but think of why the UK joined the EU in the first place years ago- (1:44 mins)

  25. Phillip Cross

    “They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants”

    Sickening! I wish i could say “Unbelievable!”, but sadly it’s all too easy to believe, and entirely un-shocking that it is American Christians who are behind it.

    Look at vicious sociopath Janet Wilkerson, CAAIR’s founder and CEO, smugly grinning for the camera without an ounce of shame or self awareness. Multiply her repulsive waste of space by at least 100m and you start to understand why this country is in such a horrible place.

    1. Daryl

      A line near the end stood out to me:

      > “If working 40 hours a week is a slave camp, then all of America is a slave camp,” he said.

      Ah, a bit too on the nose… That this is allowed to happen at all is digusting.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Trump left behind a sanctions minefield for Biden”

    ‘The Biden team might also take an incremental approach: Offer some limited sanctions relief in exchange for initial actions on Iran’s part to roll back its recent nuclear advances as a first step toward a full return to the agreement by both countries.’

    Won’t work. I think that that deal is dead. Some people are trying to make the Saudis and Israelis part of the negotiation but both of them have made plain that their intent is to kill this deal stone dead so if you see them invited in, then you know the deal really is dead. The Iranians maintain that the US has to fulfill the original agreement on the grounds that if they cannot do that, then certainly they could not keep a new deal if one was stuck. The problem here is that the new deal’s condition amount to a disarmament and surrender document for the Iranians.

    An incremental approach is no good either.To lift sanctions, Biden can just sign a piece of paper. For the Iranians, this would be a long complicated expensive process that would take months as you are talking about an industrial processing facility. And even if it was done, there is no guarantee that the US would not put back new sanctions the very next week. It was what the US did under Obama after the first deal was signed. And has been pointed out in the past, there is a cost associated with being agreement-incapable. Nobody trusts or believes you anymore. And judging by how quickly Biden has been sending warships and aircraft to this region already, I doubt that there will be an outbreak of commonsense in Washington any time soon.

    1. km

      The Saudis and Iranians were invited in order to make sure that the deal is dead.

      “We really really wanted to, really, but Isra twisted our arm and the that Saudi prince who murders journalists gave us an Indian rope burn and we couldn’t, it was sooooo hard.”

  27. chris

    I thought this article would be interesting for the commentariat to read:

    “the preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring insofar as the type of rapid spread that was frequently observed in congregate living facilities or high-density worksites has not been reported in education settings in schools.”

    Without vaccines, but with safety precautions, opening schools is problem we can solve. It’s nice to hear that those types of problems still exist.

  28. flora

    re: Lace the Air With LSD -LRB

    …, Marks and his team of researchers unearthed some unexpected gems. The diary of George Hunter White, a dead Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent, was particularly startling. White had worked as Gottlieb’s fixer in the underworlds of New York and San Francisco, conducting drug experiments on unknowing subjects in brothels or at parties he held in CIA safehouses.

    So then, possibly, … the 1960’s Summer of Love counter culture and Leary’s “turn on, tune in, drop out” came from the CIA testing on mind control? The saying back in that youth milieu was “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” ? (i.e. don’t listen to your parents – they might be union members. /heh) CIA as godfather to the counter culture is an odd idea, but stranger things have happened.

    1. flora

      Maybe it worked. Who knows? A Matt Stoller essay:

      How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

      In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system.

      What’s more, the new members were antiwar, not necessarily anti-bank. “Our generation did not know the Depression,” then-Representative Paul Tsongas said. “The populism of the 1930s doesn’t really apply to the 1970s,” argued Pete Stark, a California member who launched his political career by affixing a giant peace sign onto the roof of the bank he owned.

      1. Carolinian

        By 1975, liberalism meant, as Carr put it, “where you were on issues like civil rights and the war in Vietnam.” With the exception of a few new members, like Miller and Waxman, suspicion of finance as a part of liberalism had vanished.

        So take away suspicion of Vietnam and militarism and cut to today. Of course the 60s antiwar movement had a Marxist rump but the Me Decade seems to have taken care of that.

      2. fresno dan

        January 31, 2021 at 11:00 am
        What’s more, the new members were antiwar…
        Perhaps I’m too cynical, but it seems to me it was anti draft and that once there was a volunteer force, the US was free to go where, and do what, the US (or the government of the US) wanted.

        1. polecat

          Had the draft not ended when it did, I’d most likely not be here .. thus commenting from an entirely different ether altogether! .. as my number was just about up.

          I thank Mr. ‘peace-with-honor’ for what turned out for moi to be a better outcome. Still have that passport of my youth, that pointed toward LumberJackistan .. as my folks were on the verge of stepping over a border, for my sake.

          1. fresno dan

            January 31, 2021 at 11:50 am

            Had the draft not ended when it did, I’d most likely not be here
            Ironically, I’m in EXACTLY the same circumstances, but by another route. I joined the air force in ’75 – the war was over and the anti war sentiment meant I was pretty safe until the US figured out how to finagle us into another war. But after my enlistment was up, I got cancer about a year afterwards. I had no health insurance or funds for treatment. Back than, the Veterans Hospitals took in any veteran who needed help.
            So policy wise I wonder about having an all volunteer force, but individual wise it probably accounts for me being here today…

            1. polecat

              My brother had a whole bunch of friends who, both draft and enlisted I believe, never came back from that useless hell of a war. Nobody today sees the blood results of our wars, on the screen, as it was in the past.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          There was work that the problem was the Watergate babies were simply removed from Democratic party apparatuses and had no prior relations with institutional machines as the Democratic Party tried to get ahead of anti-institution sentiment. The electeds post WW2 were simultaneously leaving, eventually you get Bill Clinton as President. Self funding PMCs buying titles as opposed to people with any kind of vision or reason to be in government other than that it would be neat are the recruited candidates. Pelosi despite her buffoonery stays on because she promises these electeds they won’t have to do anything other than fundraiser and play Congresscritters.

          Take AOC. A healthy party would have been grooming her with state legislative races and so forth. I have no idea why Nelson of the flight attendants union is not being recruited for every state wide race. Class is an issue too, but they aren’t the dullard self funders Team Blue has cultivated since Watergate.

        3. John Zelnicker

          @fresno dan
          January 31, 2021 at 11:19 am

          I was deeply involved in the anti-war and anti-draft movements at the Univ. of Penn in the late 60’s/early 70’s. None of the folks I knew who were involved made any distinction between anti-war and anti-draft. It was all about opposition to the war and depriving the military of a few bodies to throw into the war machine.

          Most of the guys like me who signed the “I Won’t Go” petition saying they would refuse to be drafted seemed serious about it (a few hundred students signed the petition). I was prepared to flee to Canada since my lottery number was 29.

          These guys were as much anti-war as they were anti-draft.

    2. al

      See also:

      “Madness, Part 1: The Sleep Room”

      “Dr. Cameron had a guiding theory — that you could eliminate someone’s mental illness by wiping their mind clean. He developed a rigorous regimen of inducing prolonged periods of sleep, giving his patients electroshocks multiple times a day, and giving them intense cocktails of barbiturates, hallucinogens, and so-called “truth serums. In the U.S., this secret government program was run by the CIA. It had a name and a mission. Its name was MK-ULTRA.”

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      “So then, possibly, … the 1960’s Summer of Love counter culture and Leary’s “turn on, tune in, drop out” came from the CIA testing on mind control?”

      On the west coast, that’s pretty much what happened. Ken Kesey was part of an Army LSD experiment, decided he liked the experience, and figured out how to get a supply. The “acid tests,” the Grateful Dead and various other sorts of wonderfulness sprung from that.

      But on the east coast, Leary and Richard Alpert (later Ram Dass_ started with ‘shrooms, then moved to acid. No real connection to military/CIA elements.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      I remember reading once that when Ken Kesey was a student somewhere in the California system, he volunteered for some kind of psychology experiment, not knowing that it involved LSD and was CIA-funded.
      And he liked the experience so much he found out what the drug was and how/where to get it on his own.

      So perhaps it is better to say that the CIA may have god-stepfathered the LSD side of the counterculture.
      One wonders if the CIA really meant it to turn out that way.

      ( Well, if I had seen Henry Moon Pie’s comment in time, I would not have even needed to write this one).

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Unintended consequences–

        One old story is that the Army’s experiments didn’t work out too well. The soldiers who took LSD didn’t want to be soldiers anymore.

  29. Felix_47

    The Iranians are not unsophisticated when it comes to the US. I read somewhere that one third of the population of Beverly Hills is Iranian and similarly Irvine, another low rent community (not really). The mayor if BH is Iranian. They gravitate to these extremely high rent areas because of the schools. Many if not most are Jewish. Where I work a large proportion of the medical students are first generation Iranian meaning they scored high in US colleges and on US tests. And I do not think that UCLA or Berkeley or UCI or Stanford give them preferential admission as people of color even though for many English is their second language. They are kind of like the Chinese….high grades and quick minds are not considered “well rounded.”

  30. fresno dan
    Francis Bacon said,
    “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few are to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

    I could relate to Bacon’s comparison of reading on food. Whenever I picked up a book, I felt the need to finish it, an impulse similar to finishing all the food on my plate.
    I wonder how many books I haven’t started because I thought I had to finish them. I remember reading Crime and Punishment all the way through in my youth, and the only thing I can remember now is when a character introduces himself and goes on interminably describing his ancestry and other details about himself. Soon after, I figured out that the sunk cost of a book didn’t make it worth sinking my time into it if it wasn’t interesting to me. But, just as I feel compelled to clean my plate, I feel like I’m wasting a book if I don’t read all of it… (by the way, don’t clean your plate – no starving person eats because you get fatter)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Finishing a bad book is fine. Getting sucked into a bad series by a good first book is a crisis.

    2. Geo

      Between you and I we might find a balance. The number of books I’ve started and not finished is near infinite. Using the food analogy, I rarely clean a plate. Certain authors speak strongly to me and I devour their books but most I take in short doses over weeks, months, or even years. Many just don’t get picked up again.

      1. fresno dan

        Speaking of books, I have not read a celebrity biography since I was ???10 or 11??? – It was Sammy Davis Jr. Yes I Can If your wondering how a child comes across such a book, my stepdad worked in a second hand store, and brought home a wide assortment of stuff. I have a very good knowledge of high end car because of all the Road & Track magazines he brought home.
        And what I remember most is that Davis had his eye poked out from the center part of the steering wheel of his Cadillac in an auto accident. The dangers of a Veblen good.
        So, I am trying to widen what I am reading – 55 years since my last book about a Hollywood star – maybe time for another…
        AND I can’t believe I’m talking about ….Rob Lowe

    3. chuck roast

      Years ago I read Harlot’s Ghost by Norman Mailer. A short way into it I figured out that it was just a meandering nothing-burger, and Mailer had probably lost it. But Mailer had not forgotten how to write. So, I read the entire one thousand-plus pages just grooving on his great prose style. I am not exactly sure how to describe the Harlot’s Ghost meal.

  31. John Anthony La Pietra

    When I went to check out USA Today’s “sick kids, etc.” story, the first related-story side link said:

    Reopening America’s schools: Your child might not return to a classroom this year. Are teachers unions to blame?

    (Emphasis added.) Aargh. . . .

  32. urblintz

    I found the NYTimes article on “treatments” to be confused and disingenuous. Of course, hydroxychloroquine would be mentioned first – “There’s now a wealth of evidence that the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine did not work against Covid.” No link to that ‘wealth of evidence” and in the very next sentence admits (the writer would not accept “admits”, I imagine) that significant trials are still ongoing and no mention of the significant and credentialed push-back against HCL nay-sayers by professionals who have found it helpful in their practice. Then he mentions the disappointment with convalescent plasma, provides a link but doesn’t mention the lack of push-back from professionals and the overall acceptance that those findings are valid.

    The following is pure anecdote and I make no claims for it proving anything but…

    My sister-in-law caught Covid over Christmas. A week later my brother had it as well. Both were admitted to hospital, the wife with debilitating flu symptoms but no breathing issues. She was mostly admitted because she has an auto-immune disease, lupus. She was released after 3 days. My brother went to hospital a week later, specifically for the pneumonia and low oxygen, was proned, remdesevired and every thing else other than intubation. He was finally released after 10 days and is still monitoring his oxygen with good and less-than-good days.

    My sister-in-law has been taking HCL for her lupus, safely, for decades.

  33. polecat

    When we have the combined fragante delicto of Dante flambeau’ e.i. Big Disease pontificators, Big Pharma conjurers, and Big Lie Media peashell shillers – enabled by a feckless purple swirl of .gov .. is it any wonder that ANY effective treatments other than the Janky Jab are crickets to be ….??

    But by all means, hurry and get the ‘vaccine’ – say the ‘Perts’!

  34. allan

    Trump officials actively lobbied to deny states money for vaccine rollout last fall [STAT]

    Top Trump officials actively lobbied Congress to deny state governments any extra funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout last fall — despite frantic warnings from state officials that they didn’t have the money they needed to ramp up a massive vaccination operation.

    The push, described to STAT by congressional aides in both parties and openly acknowledged by one of the Trump officials, came from multiple high-ranking Trump health officials in repeated meetings with legislators.

    Without the extra money, states spent last October and November rationing the small pot of federal dollars they had been given. And when vaccines began shipping in December, states seemed woefully underprepared.

    The previously unreported lobbying efforts underscore that even after the Trump administration spent billions helping drug makers develop Covid-19 vaccines, it not only dismissed states’ concerns about the help they would need to roll them out, but actively undermined their efforts to press Congress to get the funding they needed. …

    Oddly, doesn’t fit with some narratives currently being pushed.

  35. SteveD

    Thank you for the link to the Fauci critique. His record on COVID is actually worse than I remember, and I remember it being pretty bad. IMO not a good reflection on the Biden team that they wanted to not only keep him on but effectively promote him. The most generous reading I will make of that is unadulterated cynicism – “Hey – sure he’s damaged goods, but he’s popular!”

    1. Tomonthebeach

      Drift’s Fauci hit piece is shamefully unjustified clickbait.

      It was Trump; not Fauci, who abolished the pandemic coordinating group at the White House soon after becoming President. It was Trump; not Fauci who froze public health activity back in December of 2019 so he could cover his ignorant political butt. It was Trump; not Fauci whose inaction created a mass shortage of protective clothing for medical workers nor was it Tony Fauci who did zip to gear up pharma production for when the first vaccines were approved. It was Trump; not Fauci who refused scientific cooperation in finding a vaccine and even withdrew from WHO.

      It was Trump; not Fauci who did zero planning and coordination for national vaccination, and just dumped the vaccines on statehouse doorsteps essentially saying; “Here! You handle it.” Trump used Dr. Fauci, and other health experts, as political props to give his ignorant sales pitches for baseless cures to America offering false hopes for an early pandemic end. It was Fauci; not Trump who from his media exile betrayed Trump’s lies and baseless. It was Trump; not Fauci whose lies to the American public led to failures to wear masks, not social distance, etc. making infection spread. It was Trump who held regular super-spreader rallies as a way to hang on to his incompetent fraud of a presidency while mocking Americans for wearing masks while millions suffered and hundreds of thousands died. It was Anthony Fauci, MD who remained as the only proverbial adult voice in the room after all truthsayers bailed. And yet there are people who attack him for not creating a miracle in the midst of a pandemic over which he had constrained public health influence. It was Fauci; not Trump who has been the consistent credible voice of scientific facts in a raging storm of presidential lies.

      1. Winston Smith

        I would highly recommend listening again to Nancy Messonier’s press call nearly a year ago (!) on February 25th 2020. There are telling extracts of it in the “Totally Under Control” documentary. If you have access to Hulu, the extracts start at 56 minutes. We knew all we needed to know in order to take COVID very seriously then.

      2. Cuibono

        Ah yes, the proverbial adult in the room…been in that room for a suspiciously long time wouldn’t you say?

      3. IM Doc

        I hit the lottery in my medical residency when Dr. Fauci was in our city for a week. This was decades ago. He was on our Infectious Disease rounds during the midst of the AIDS epidemic. An incredible memory. He was a class act all around. Most Americans do not realize – he is to this day one of the lead editors, credited on the cover, of our foundational Internal Medicine Textbook – Harrison’s.

        Has he made mistakes? Absolutely. Have we all? Absolutely. I have watched him all this past year exemplifying for every American the concept of working in an impossible situation. I would add it was not just Trump. I distinctly remember two Congressional hearings when it was obvious he was trying to talk/educate and the Congresspeople were just yelling over him.

      4. Anthony G Stegman

        In my view the takedown of Fauci was long overdue. At 80 years old it is time for Fauci to gracefully retire and contemplate the good and bad of his long career. Four hundred thousand deaths ought not be minimized, or explained away. Fauci needs to be held accountable.

  36. DJG

    ProPublica: Text Messages Show Trump Consultants Planning Rally

    One of the things that struck me is that just about every major person involved, according to the article, is a woman. I have been wondering why it has taken so long to get the names of the organizers of the rally out there, and now I’m wondering at the composition of the list.

    In the last few weeks, we see Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton insisting that “all roads lead to Putin,” Janet Yellen unable to recuse herself after gobbling up Citadel money because “she’s an expert,” and Marjorie Taylor Greene emerging as potential winner of Immoralist of the Year.

    Just as Trump is a symptom and parody of the degradation of the U.S. business class, Pelosi in kente cloth and Greene looking for Jewish space lasers are symptoms and parodies of the degradation of U.S. feminism, which has devolved into careerism.

    We are a long way from Jane Addams, Dorothy Day, Shirley Chisholm, and even various middling women leaders like Jane Byrne or Olympia Snowe.

    It may be that the only option now is to use class analysis. An oppressor is an oppressor is an oppressor. Is it possible that there is no longer any use for feminism?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Feminism can be used to prevent intra-class solidarity, just like wokenism can be used to prevent intra-class solidarity. So there’s a use for feminism.

    1. al

      And perhaps, it should also be noted, that the unintended, but not unexpected spillovers negatively effecting the weakest and most vulnerable members in society, resulting from containment efforts are not inconsequential, see for example:

      “Increased proportion of physical child abuse injuries at a level I pediatric trauma center during the Covid-19 pandemic”

      “Hospital sees more babies with head trauma, fractures amid COVID-19 lockdown”


  37. Carolinian

    This is interesting–the foreign policy Overton Window

    But this is not just a quarrel over labels. It goes to the heart of how U.S. foreign policy debate has been defined and restricted for the last eighty years. Most pre-World War II Americans were committed internationalists, but they were internationalists of a different kind from those who set out to take sole possession of that name. Stephen Wertheim details how this was done very well in his book, “Tomorrow, the World,” where he explains how the myth of isolationism was first crafted to cast out all those internationalists who didn’t agree with a policy of U.S. armed dominance.

    Those who created the myth of isolationism did this so that they could claim the mantle of internationalism exclusively for themselves. Kupchan allows that there is something that can be learned from the “isolationists,” but he keeps using the misleading label throughout the book. While he says that he seeks to “refurbish isolationism and rehabilitate its reputation,” this isn’t possible when he uses the pejorative term and bemoans “isolationist comebacks” throughout.

    What Larison is implying but doesn’t quite say outright is that these days “internationalism” is simply a euphemism for imperialism, or, as he does say

    By comparing America to colonial European powers, Kupchan rigs the test so that America must be considered isolationist unless it engages in the same ambitious policies as the empires of that time. If the options are empire or isolationism, however, most states will qualify as isolationist, which just underscores how inaccurate and misleading the label is.

  38. Jason Boxman

    So, more crapification.

    I’m trying to establish Internet service at a new address. Because of a fraud alert I added to my credit reports, I’m always asked to provide verification. So trying to open an account using the Web site failed with a cryptic number to call.

    So I call, and we attempt the verification thing. Someone from the fraud department calls, while I’m on the line with the sales person, and we play the question game.

    What’s the question game you ask? I’m glad you asked!

    You’re asked a list of questions from one of the unnamed credit bureaus based on data it has about you that might or might not be accurate, and that they don’t necessarily care is accurate anyway. If you fail some number of questions, perhaps because you’re asked about an address you lived at 20 years ago in college or the exact amount of a car payment, you lose the question game.

    You might be given the option to send in authentic documents, but in this case I was not; Instead it was suggested by the sales agent that I call each credit bureau to confirm my information is correct, and that within 2 to 5 business days, the company will then have access to the updated information.

    In any case, I have no idea why I apparently failed the verification process, and I’ve been left to my own devices to resolve this if I want Internet service. And this is neoliberalism’s tax on your time. Why don’t we have municipal Internet service, anyway?

    Using a citizen’s SSN as a super secret identification token has always been a stupid idea.

    And whatever happened to Equifax and their disgraced CEO and leadership team? I still haven’t gotten my class action settlement check. Has anyone? This country has so many parallel horrors, it’s impossible to maintain the focus necessary on any one to provide any opening for change. If liberal Democrats think their $2k check betrayal will be soon forgotten, they’re probably right.

    (Also, found this, didn’t know about this: “Visit to get your free credit report. Through April 2021, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from all three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) at” on FTC web site.)

    1. jr

      I have had a similar experience. I applied for a credit card recently and had to remove the security lock I have placed on each of the “services” records. One, Equifax, was taking extra security measures and asking me questions about information 20+ years old, jobs I held for a year, addresses I had lived at for even less than that. In other words, stuff I had forgotten way back ago.

      When I failed to recall a number of questions, she told me I would have to send in a pile of documentation to remove the security lock. The credit card company rep told me they randomly pick from one of the agencies to assess one’s credit worthiness so I said “The heck.” and dropped it. I was reminded throughout the phone call that this was for my benefit, which is quite true. I would rather it be hard to get my info. It’s the fact that I’m faced with a “time tax” because of their ineptitude that burns.

      Crapification addendum: I just flossed my teeth. The dental floss, from CVS, leaves behind little threads that then have to be flossed out. This mundane act becomes a gauntlet, you have to floss very gently so as to remove the threads without producing more. Fortunately, there was another spool of CVS floss in the cabinet and this batch didn’t strip apart in my teeth. The threads don’t hurt but you an feel them in there, a minute pressure reminding you that things are steadily getting worse. That CVS cannot even guarantee a mature technology like dental floss is done right.

      1. Yves Smith

        On dental floss: there’s no evidence it helps ordinary people:

        What I like is dental picks (they have tiny plastic shields on one end, sort of like a very tiny elongated palm leaf) which clean crud between the sides of your teeth and scrape them more than floss does (as in seems more likely to remove plaque). But my teeth are very crowded. If yours are a bit less packed, there are little brush picks which do a similar job.

        Oil pulling in the AM also helps. And my plaque is even lower due to gargling 2X a day with my homebrew 1% povidone iodine. That stuff kills just about anything.

  39. General Jinjur

    January 30, 2021
    Evolutionary biologists Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein join Bill Maher to dicuss the nature and possible origins of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.«

      1. chris

        Someone is going to get a Nobel prize figuring out some of the contradictions that Weinstein has highlighted with respect to the virus.

        I don’t believe we’re smart enough to have created the virus or to have been able to mess with the coronavirus successfully to create this monster. All the genetic sequencing that’s been done shows pretty convincing evidence that this was not lab created. This is the 3rd coronavirus outbreak in 20 years, it came from a known hot spot, and it seems involved known mechanisms for development for a zoonotic virus. And yet…the big question that doesn’t even have an attempted answer yet is how did we end up with a virus that allegedly came from the wild and can’t spread outdoors in the sun? Like I said, we’ll probably see lots of PhDs and Nobels coming from the post pandemic research.

      2. IM Doc

        I hesitate to post this reference.

        Let me explain.

        The gentleman that runs that blog is at times a crackpot. But at times he is brilliant. I do not really agree with his politics, but I do read his blog to see what informed people on different sides are thinking.

        Surprisingly, he posted this today. To be fair and honest, this piece is highly well-referenced and it corresponds to things I have been hearing from Coronavirus experts in Grand Rounds all year.

        This was not written by the owner of that blog, rather, it is some type of guest post which I have to be honest, I have never seen him do before. They clearly know what they are talking about. And it is as good a discussion of “gain of function” research written in non-jargon English I have ever seen.

        FWIW, the questions asked at the end have never been successfully answered and are indeed critical to our understanding of this situation.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thank you for that link. Some ‘fringe’ commentators have been raising the possibility that the virus emerged from gain of function experiments in Wuhan gone wrong for a long time now. Although not scientists, two youtubers known as AVChina did a number of videos last summer using locally obtained sources indicating that there was a lot of ‘scrubbing’ of information in China around the Wuhan lab, including the mysterious disappearance of a lab scientist who was up to mid 2019 involved in coronavirus research, but seemingly died in November 2019, with all reference to her removed from official documents.

          I hesitate to comment on this, as the science is well beyond my pay grade and this obviously brings us into tin hat territory. I always try to apply Occam’s Razor and a little common sense when faced with this type of unknown. For me, the coincidence of this outbreak taking place almost literally a stones throw from the foremost lab for research into bat coronaviruses (in a vast city with little or no natural bat population) is just too great to accept the story of its natural occurrence without question. I think the proponents of the ‘this arose naturally via an unhygienic live animal market’ theory have at least as many difficult questions to answer as the ‘this arose from a lab accident’ one.

  40. Henry Moon Pie

    Apropos of nothing in particular other than this site’s and its readers’ longstanding interest in topics like permaculture, food forests, etc., I’ve been playing a computer game called “Green Project” that’s one of the numerous new games utilizing an apocalyptic setting. Using concepts like companion plantings, composting and pests’ natural enemies, you can take a locale that’s mostly polluted desert and turn it into a thriving combination of forests, meadows and fields. Once you accomplish that, you’re living the life of a hunter-gatherer. “What shall I do today? Head off to the new maple grove to pick some self-seeding corn and beans? Go to the cypress forest to pick some ‘shrooms? Maybe my contamination level is rising, and I need to find an elm tree with thyme growing around it.

    It’s available on Steam (evil, evil Steam) for the princely sum of $7 which reflects the pretty primitive beta-level graphics and interface. But it’s playable, and an interesting international group has gathered around the game to provide input and suggestions for the apparently French coder who’s building it.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It would be interesting if this game leads some of its players to want to try some of this ” offline” in meat space Reality World.

      1. Henry Moon Pie


        What I appreciate about the designer’s approach is that dominance and purity, two things that are common in current approaches to nature, are disfavored compared to balance and diversity.

  41. skippy

    Ref: “This Secret Message Could Change Your Life!”: Wellness Culture, Jesus, and QAnon

    Rituals to ward off ev’bal “forces” …. seeking to destroy normality[tm] …

    Watching my mother devolve slowly over the years from the first ME war, till today, and her side of the family in small townie Iowa has been nuts. Yet on her FB page it still proudly states – “”I” made it to the top” – reference to the days as a T1 executive. And yes it comes with all the pastel pass it on memes or waiting for – his – next plan for me …. ugh …

    Then some will talk about infections …

  42. Wukchumni

    There are over 1,000 of these typically 3-4 feet wide and 3 feet deep basins sunk into granite, pretty much all from 5,000 to 7,000 feet all on a north-south axis in the Sierra Nevada from the Kings River to Lake Isabella. This spectacular group of 369 might’ve been a native salt works. It is much more likely to find them in groups of 3 or 4.

    I know of 5 sites in Mineral King, once you’ve seen your first ones, you’re hooked. I’ve seen about 165 basins so far, and hunger for more.

    Somewhere in the Sierra Nevada, a granite terrace the size of a football field holds hundreds of mysterious stone basins representing what geologists believe is one of the earliest known “factories” created and used by ancient Miwok Indians to make tons of salt to trade with tribes up and down California.

    James G. Moore, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, learned of the strangely pitted terrace from detailed maps made more than a century ago and hiked the region in May to study what he determined were clearly hand-hewn objects.

    He examined 369 of the circular artifacts only a few yards from two streams of saltwater fed by a nearby spring and a lake that was equally salty.

  43. Glen

    re: Fort Bliss says 11 hospitalized soldiers drank antifreeze they mistook for alcohol and full USSR mode

    There’s some truth in that comment! When Viktor Belenko defected from the USSR by flying a MG-25 to Japan, he was extensively debriefed by the CIA and the US military. One of the things they learned was that it was so cold in Siberia that the Soviet AF was using pure grain alcohol rather than an alcohol based hydraulic fluid in it’s airplanes. A “normal” hydraulic fluid got too thick to work properly. Typical Soviet solution for the time, it was low tech but worked.

    But the result was that the mechanics were selling the hydraulic fluid to everybody, and half the airplanes would be down due to lack of booze. In their defense, they were smart enough to drink the right stuff.

    So maybe amend that comment to “full dumber than the USSR mode”. After all, the Russina airplane designs were absolutely brilliant, their engineering was second to none, and remains so to this day. Where their technology might have been behind the West, they used simple, but very effective solutions.

  44. Wukchumni

    I only ever made it to Perth once, and it was kind of like California, albeit with brick houses.

    One Covid case emerged the other day after 10 months of being clear of the menace, sparking a 5 day lockdown.

    Meanwhile the virus runs rampant up over, here.

  45. drumlin woodchuckles

    Reality-based manmade global warming accepters should help eachother and their communities develop and apply the viralizable weaponizable information needed to survive the Big Heat Rising together.

    Ideally, this information would be withheld from the militant backwardite stupidites of the manmade global warming denialist community. They have helped to make this problem as bad as it is and will become, and they have a duty to die in the fire they have helped to propellantize and accelerate. And we have a duty to help them do so.

    1. caucus99percenter

      Wishing death upon others and urging “us” to facilitate this death? As with doxxing yesterday, I was under the impression that that sort of rhetoric was a development NC was trying to avoid.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, they want to facilitate our death in a very organized and politically powerful way. So what do you suggest?

    2. flora

      Good snark. You sound almost like the WEF/ Davos speaker Yuval Harari. ;) Per Harari, “you are a hackable animal”, and “in the future there will be elites and the useless mass of people”. “Useless.” Expendable. Animal. Who uses those terms to justify what abuses? Mr. Dystopian Nightmare himself. Shades of the CIA’s historic mind control tests described in today’s LRB link. Davos attendees are telling themselves, among themselves, how they see and plan the future, who will plan it, and how they will manage all the “useless” people. Oh, right, we have to do this to beat China. (Hello, NSA.) That’s the rationale.

      1. flora

        The introduction includes: “It’s not a new topic, but the situation is becoming really, really urgent.”

        Is that because the voters in most democratic countries are tired of neoliberalism and beginning to resist?

        Put down that FitBit and step away from the digital tracking. /heh

  46. wilroncanada

    Eleven soldiers at Fort Bliss drank antifreeze thinking it was Meade. So soldiers at Fort Meade did one better, drinking antifreeze thinking it was Bliss.

    1. Wukchumni

      Antifreeze is a Marmot Cong aperitif, served vis a vis the opening of a chewed on radiator hose.

      How could those GI Joes not know what it was, one wonders?

  47. Stephanie

    Thanks for linking to Stitch’s Teen Vogue article. Her blessedly-not-on-Tumblr blog has some interesting discussions of the “transformative for whom?” variety.

  48. The Rev Kev

    “An Astrophysicist’s Detective Story: On That Giant Space Object That Passed Through the Solar System”

    Unless I see warp nacelles, I would be loath to call it a starship.

  49. lordkoos

    “Computer-shy elderly are shouldered aside”

    They certainly are getting stiffed in WA state… if you need to sign up for a shot here and you don’t have a cell phone and/or are not computer-friendly you are S.O.L. I signed up to get my 93-yo mother vaccinated but for others, if they don’t have a nearby friend or relative that can help them, they are screwed. And the vaccination sites are weird, here in town there is one at the supermarket (their pharmacy also give flu shots) and one in the upper county at a senior center. I’m having trouble understanding why none of the local clinics are offering them, and why can’t a person sign up via a phone call or visit?

  50. Jack Parsons

    “Naked mole rats have accents”

    Ha! This is the original shibboleth. Shibboleth was a town in Judea where they talked funny, and detected outsiders because they couldn’t mimic the local accent.

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