2:00PM Water Cooler 2/1/2021

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Bird Song of the Day


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

I feel I’m engaging in a macabre form of tape-watching…. (A reader asked the source of the data: Johns Hopkins CSSE. DIVOC-91 does allow other data sets to be used, like Our World in Data and The Atlantic, and where they provide visualizations similar to those below, a cursory comparison shows that the shape of the curves is the same.)

Vaccination by region:

Case count by United States region:

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

Test positivity:

Nowhere near 3%, anywhere.


I wondered if New England would repeat its earlier, and unique, stairstep pattern; now it has. Hospitalization is discretionary; they may also be reducing their admissions rate — relative to cases we cannot see in this data! — to preserve future capacity; or because hospitals have figured out how to send people home.

Case fatality rate (plus deaths):

There’s that slow rise in the fatality rate again. Nice to see a little drop in deaths, may it continue.


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

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

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

Transition to Biden

“Biden confronts the limits of his executive power” [Politico]. “It’s an elaborately planned slate of actions designed to highlight his efforts to shore up the struggling economy while Congress debates whether to pass the $1.9 trillion rescue package he has laid out. But while the executive actions will have a big impact — millions of Americans are behind on their rent and mortgage payments, and tens of millions more hold student loan debt — it’s clear that their effect on the broader economy will be limited at best. ‘It’s on the margins,’ said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. ‘It needs to be more than that.’ What the country needs the most is an influx of cash, Swonk and other economists say, but for that the new president is entirely dependent on lawmakers if he wants to turn the economy around.” • “Dependent on lawmakers”? Biden has no mandate?

“Biden’s Promised $1,400 Checks Are Even Dividing White House” [Bloomberg]. “Even within President Joe Biden’s White House, there’s debate about how to meet his promise to issue Americans another $1,400 each in stimulus checks. At least two of the president’s top economic advisers, Heather Boushey and David Kamin, have privately expressed reservations about the size of the checks and at what level they would begin to phase out for higher-income people, according to three people familiar with internal discussions. The aides worry that the checks will cost so much that there won’t be enough left over in Biden’s proposed pandemic relief bill for other priorities — supplemental unemployment benefits, an expanded child tax credit, or aid to states and local governments, the people said.” • Lol.

“Cutting $2,000 Payments, and Limiting Who’s Eligible for Them, Is Bad Economics and Loser Politics” [The Nation]. “A “go-small” approach to the crisis would surely gain applause from the usual suspects—austerity-inclined members of Congress and the elite editorial pages that cheer them on. But a surrender of ambition at this point would reinforce a sense that, even when Democrats control the presidency and the Congress, they cannot get government to work for the great mass of Americans. That is precisely the vulnerability congressional Republicans hope to exploit in order to regain power in 2022. Don’t think it will happen? Think back to the midterm elections of 1994 and 2010…”


“Court warns Claudia Tenney’s campaign volunteer to stop ‘inappropriate’ texts to judge” [Syracuse.com (bob)]. • The last undecided House race.

“The Bernie movement: An assessment” [Noah Smith, Noahpinion]. “Bernie’s Theory of Change might have been right (see previous section). But his Theory of Power was wrong. This was proven in dramatic fashion on March 3rd, 2020, when Biden crushed Bernie in the Super Tuesday primaries and went on to cruise to a victory infinitely more decisive than Hillary Clinton’s. Bernie believed that only his brand of politics could drive a turnout surge; instead, the turnout surge was all for Biden. Bernie believed that he would be able to unite the White working class and the Black working class; instead, the two united in their support for Biden. Bernie bet on a big surge in youth turnout; it just didn’t happen. America’s young people were willing to pour into the streets to fight racist cops, but they couldn’t be persuaded to pour into the voting booths for single-payer health insurance. And online activism turned out to be less potent of a weapon than some had allowed themselves to believe.”

Democrats en Deshabille

“Ohio Democratic Party is laying off more than half its staff” [Toledo Blade (dk)]. “More than half of the permanent staffers at the Ohio Democratic Party have been let go under the leadership of the party’s new chairman, multiple Democratic sources have confirmed.” And the final paragraph: “In 2018 the Ohio Democratic Party became the first state party to recognize a chapter of the Campaign Workers Guild, which represented seasonal campaign organizers during the 2018 midterm election who sought better pay and working conditions.)” • Oh.

Karen from HR:

“9 Top N.Y. Health Officials Have Quit as Cuomo Scorns Expertise” [New York Times]. “The drumbeat of high-level departures in the middle of the pandemic came as morale plunged in the Health Department and senior health officials expressed alarm to one another over being sidelined and treated disrespectfully, according to five people with direct experience inside the department. Their concern had an almost singular focus: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Even as the pandemic continues to rage and New York struggles to vaccinate a large and anxious population, Mr. Cuomo has all but declared war on his own public health bureaucracy. The departures have underscored the extent to which pandemic policy has been set by the governor, who with his aides crafted a vaccination program beset by early delays. The troubled rollout came after Mr. Cuomo declined to use the longstanding vaccination plans that the State Department of Health had developed in recent years….” • Reminds me of somebody….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“DSA After Trump” [Socialist Forum]. “[Maikiko James]: One of the big tasks we face now is figuring out who and what comes next after Bernie. Bernie’s campaigns set the groundwork for DSA to grow the way that it has. He’s helped people connect the dots between the difficulties in their lives and the fact that corporations, the rich, the military are all doing very well. He named this all so explicitly and continues to amplify his criticisms and his program in a way that’s really digestible for people. DSA’s electoral wins and organizational growth is very promising to me, it shows that more and more people are seeing that the powerful benefit from our suffering…. Considering the resources this country has, there’s no good reason for all of the suffering and death we’re seeing right now. And Bernie gave so many of us the vocabulary we need to talk to people who might not think of themselves as socialists about it. Growing up with Bernie Sanders as a household name, I knew my anti-capitalist upbringing to be different. But with these past two campaigns and what Bernie has done – I’m not a weirdo anymore.”

“Bernie’s mittens: A lesson for S.F. high school students in subtle white privilege” [Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, San Francisco Chronicle]. “And there, across all of our news and social media feeds, was Bernie: Bernie memes, Bernie sweatshirts, endless love for Bernie. I puzzled and fumed as an individual as I strove to be my best possible teacher. What did I see? What did I think my students should see? A wealthy, incredibly well-educated and -privileged white man, showing up for perhaps the most important ritual of the decade, in a puffy jacket and huge mittens.” • Owwww! My eyes!!!!!!!!!!!

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats.

Manufacturing: “December 2020 ISM and Markit Manufacturing Surveys Show Growth” [Econintersect]. “The ISM Manufacturing survey declined but remains in expansion. The Markit PMI manufacturing index improved and remains in expansion. The index value of ISM and Markit are similar…. Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate to be the same as last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession. No question these surveys suggest the economy is no longer in recession.”

Construction: “December 2020 Construction Spending Again Improves” [Econintersect]. “The headlines say construction spending grew month-over-month. Our analysis shows the rolling averages improved…. Construction spending is slightly trending upward but remarkedly strong considering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Private construction had been fueling construction growth (and is still contracting) – but currently, public construction is fueling the growth.”

* * *

Manufacturing: “As new coronavirus strains raise questions about mask quality, the N95 market in the U.S. is still facing supply issues” [MarketWatch]. “The thinking in the U.S. around N95s is that they should be reserved for health care and other frontline workers who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still says that N95s and medical-grade masks “should be conserved for health care personnel.’ But the emergence of new virus variants, including the B.1.1.7 out of the United Kingdom, the B.1.351 strain out of South Africa, and the P.1 from Brazil, has pushed medical experts to rethink what type of mask is safest right now. The CDC has said it expects the B.1.1.7 to be the most dominant strain of the virus in the U.S. by March. ‘N95 masks are the most protective masks, followed by three-ply surgical masks, then fabric masks,’ Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC, tweeted Jan. 24. ‘A fabric mask is a lot better than no mask, but we may need to step up our mask game if contagious Covid variants start to spread widely.'” • “The thinking.” Whose thinking?

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 38 Fear (previous close: 36 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 1 at 12:09pm.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 186. (Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing, so high is better.

The Biosphere

“Once united in support of Biden, environmentalists and unions clash over pipelines” [Reuters]. “The United States is the world’s largest producer of oil and gas. Biden’s administration aims to transition the U.S. economy towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and his initial moves towards that goal included cancelling a permit for the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline (KXL) and reducing oil-and-gas leasing. The reaction from Biden’s supporters, however, illustrates the challenge of managing the impact of the energy transition on different communities. While climate activists celebrated KXL’s demise, labor unions, reeling from the global oil downturn, have mobilized to keep ongoing projects from being derailed.”

“General Motors to eliminate gasoline and diesel light-duty cars and SUVs by 2035” [WaPo]. “General Motors has pledged to stop making gasoline-powered passenger cars, vans and sport utility vehicles by 2035, marking a historic turning point for the iconic American carmaker and promising a future of new electric vehicles for American motorists…. GM has said it would invest $27 billion in electric vehicles and associated products between 2020 and 2025, outstripping its spending on conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles. That figure includes refurbishing factories and investing in battery production in conjunction with LG Chem, a South Korean battery maker.”

“How do different root structures affect soil?” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!]. “The soil is not a very welcoming environment for plant growth. It does not provide everything a plant needs freely and without reservation. In fact, left as is, the soil probably would not produce very many plants at all. Proof of this is found in the tremendous amount of soil modification plants engage in just to improve their chances of survival. Plants modify soil. That is a fact. They spend a lot of energy doing it, and they do it to their own advantage. Organisms (which, of course, include plants) are even one of the five soil formation factors, along with climate, relief/topography, parent material, and time. Plants modify the soil chemically, biologically, and physically in very substantive ways. This blog entry focuses mostly on the physical side of things by considering how root structures affect the soil.” • Introduces the concept of “root architecture.” Well worth a read even if your garden consists of a single pot on the windowsill.

Health Care

“Covid-19 Vaccines to Stress-Test Grocery Stores and Pharmacies” [Wall Street Journal]. “Not all Americans are eligible for the vaccines, and shots remain in short supply. But vaccines are becoming more broadly available in some states, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aims to make them available in local pharmacies beginning next month. There is no cost to receive the vaccine.”

“With new COVID variants looming, Dr. Peter Hotez says Biden will have to step up his vaccine game” [Houston Chronicle]. Hotez: “The rate of new cases is going down a little bit, for reasons I don’t think we really know. Some say it’s because the post-holiday surge is over — the surge that follows Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. There may also be a component of seasonality to the virus that people like Marc Lipsitch, at Harvard School of Public Health have been modeling. Maybe people are finally socially distancing and mask-wearing to a greater extent. Or it could be some combination of all those three things. I don’t think we really know. But it’s going down: That’s the good news. The terrible news is, these new variants are turning out to be a much bigger factor than a number of us thought they would be. The Centers for Disease Control said recently that the new UK variant, which seems to be more transmissible, may become the dominant virus type in the U.S. by March. Here’s where I’m starting to have differences with what we’re hearing from the Biden administration. They’re laying out a plan that will get us through vaccinating the American people by the fall. President Biden himself announced Tuesday that we’re going to have maybe enough additional doses of the mRNA vaccines to fully vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of summer or fall. I’m saying, ‘Well, no, that’s that’s not gonna work.’ Telling us ‘by the fall’ is like telling us ‘when the glaciers are gonna come back down from Quebec.’ I mean, that’s not adequate. We’re going to have to figure out a way to vaccinate the American people by late spring. That’s a tall order.” • “By the fall” is good. But is it good enough?

“American Healthcare System Failed Black Americans. Medicare for All is the Most Pro-Black Policy Platform” [Nick’s Newsletter]. “Big Pharma’s investment in Black leaders bought their opposition to Medicare for All. Jim Clyburn has been a vocal advocate against it. Barack Obama worked behind the scenes to stop it and continues to undermine it at every turn. The leader of the Democratic Party, President Joe Biden, said he would veto it if it somehow magically passed through the House and the Senate. 46% of Republicans support Medicare for All. Our Black Leaders and Democrats are to the RIGHT of almost half of Republicans voters on healthcare. What has been the result of our leaders cozying up to health insurance companies? Black Americans suffer some of the worst health outcomes in the country. Despite being only 13% of the population, we hold 31% of the recurring medical debt. Black men have the lowest life expectancy and it’s not even close. Black women face intense racial bias in the healthcare field. Black women suffer from the highest rate of infant mortality in America, a rate 3-4 times higher than white women. How can liberals so easily ignore the grim reality that our healthcare system has brought upon black Americans?” •

Guillotine Watch

“How a Bounty of Vaccines Flooded a Small Hospital and Its Nearby College” [Kaiser Health News]. “When administrators at Hillsdale College, a conservative liberal-arts school in Michigan, heard its local hospital didn’t have a way to store the Pfizer-BioNTech covid vaccine, they offered the use of its science department’s ultra-low temperature freezer. The vaccine must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. With that help, the small hospital — employing about 400 — was able to receive vaccines from the state: 1,950 doses in late December, more than twice what it requested, according to the hospital CEO. Two weeks later, college faculty, staffers and administrators were among 900 people who received vaccinations at an on-campus clinic run by Hillsdale Hospital, even though college workers were not in the state-recommended priority groups eligible to get the vaccine in Michigan. The clinic was also open to faculty at the local beauty college. Meanwhile, the number of doses allocated to the public health department of Hillsdale County, home to 46,000, was only 400, leaving the department scrambling to try to vaccinate front-line health workers in the region. The hospital’s willingness to vaccinate Hillsdale College faculty outside of recommended state guidelines following the loan of a refrigerator comes amid growing concern nationally that younger, healthier, more privileged or merely lucky people can ‘jump the line’ while others in the priority groups can’t get shots.”

Class Warfare

“The Vaccine Line Is Illogical” [The Atlantic]. “What needs to happen? First, the deficit Kabuki theater about how to shrink the pandemic relief bill needs to stop. America is going to need far more than what’s on the table now ($1.9 trillion) to vanquish this plague. The past few weeks have also shown that inequity is built into distribution systems in the U.S. Instead of blaming the Trump administration’s failed rollout, the Biden administration needs to fix it. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have recommended using the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index to guide vaccine efforts with equity as a primary consideration.” • Hmm. Shouldn’t breaking the pandemic be the primary consideration? For example, if superspreaders were primarily to be found among the rich, wouldn’t it make sense to vaccinate the rich first? (In practice, equity and effectiveness are probably not in conflict, as poor and working class people are more likely to be exposed in crowded, closed, close-contact living and working conditions, and hence to transmit the virus. But you see the contradiction.)

“One Percent Republic” [The American Conservative]. “Citizen armies had waged the wars that made the nation powerful (if not virtuous) and Americans rich (if not righteous). The character of those armies—preeminently the ones that preserved the Union and helped defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan—testified to an implicit covenant between citizens and the state. According to its terms, war was the people’s business and could not be otherwise…..In their disgust over Vietnam, Americans withdrew from this arrangement…. As a result, in formulating basic military policy and in deciding when and how to employ force, the state no longer requires the consent, direct participation, or ongoing support of citizens. As an immediate consequence, Washington’s penchant for war has appreciably increased, without, however, any corresponding improvement in the ability of political and military leaders to conclude its wars promptly or successfully. A further result, less appreciated but with even larger implications, has been to accelerate the erosion of the traditional concept of democratic citizenship.” • From 2013, still germane.

Donald Lee Cox was not wrong:

What to do about that, I don’t know. Madison’s answer was “ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” but it’s hard to see how a revolutionary party could function on that principle, either.

“The Future Encyclopedia of Luddism” [MIT Press Reader]. “Many stories and legends have grown up around the esteemed figure of General Ned Ludd, named by “Passage Zine” as one of the “Top 10 Most Influential People of the Last Thousand Years.” Hailed as a visionary even in his own time, the Luddite Councils are named in his honor. The complete story of Ludd’s life and times is told in “The Epic Saga of General Ludd.” While stylized, the Saga has largely been corroborated with the archaeological records.”

News of the Wired

I couldn’t work this into my post on Roadside America:

“Microsoft Files Patent to Create Chatbots That Imitate Dead People” [IGN]. “[T]he tech giant has raised the possibility of creating an AI-based chatbot that would be built upon the profile of a person, which includes their ‘images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages,’ among other types of personal information. It’s understood that the chatbot would then be able to simulate human conversation through voice commands and/or text chats. However, Microsoft has taken the concept a step further by suggesting that a 2D or 3D model of a specific person could potentially be created, using “images and depth information, or video data” of an individual in order to build a chatbot that has the same characteristics and behaviour based on the digital output of a specific person.” • No.

Like father….

… like son:

“Start nibbling”:


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

ChiGal writes: “More fabulous fungi! Dunno if these are turkey tails…”

* * *

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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. doug

    “Biden’s Promised $1,400 Checks Are Even Dividing White House”
    Wait, that was not the promise. It was $2000. This is wild to watch. They don’t even pretend to report correctly.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Twitter is all abuzz about this, with #BidenLied still active. And the evidence is abundant and clear, so how is this any different than Trump lying? It’s gonna be a fun four years, two with a Republican majority in probably both houses. (Think Grand Bargain again!)

      1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        I got so angry watching that, I broke my pencil in half.

        I really don’t like “Rainbow Stew,” and I’m damn well not going to eat it.

    2. Phillip Cross

      $1400!?! What do you want $600 for!?! We can afford $300. Here’s a $100 tax credit. Share it with your spouse. (and dependents!)

    3. Josef K

      My take on this is that this is deflection from the real debate: how much–$2k, $3k?–per month should be dispersed, and for how many months (best answer–until the pandemic is under control).

      Side benny: monthly payments would motivate the Feds to get truly serious about COVID.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I had an argument along these lines on Faceborg with a professional managerial class friend of a friend who was outraged that Bernie wasn’t being properly respectful enough for Kamala’s coronation.

        I told her she was an outrageously classist fool who is the very reason people hate the Democratic Party. At a time of mass death and homelessness and hunger, when most of us can’t afford a 400 dollar emergency, she is obsessing on class-markers, on not being sufficiently deferential to our new black/South Asian cruel cop VP.

        You know what most people are concerned about? Whether or not they and their kids have coats, not whether Bernie’s coat is too puffy or not. And they are well, well aware that he is the only politician in their corner.

        It would be funny if it weren’t so obscene.

        But this is what happens when you take in Rockefeller Republicans, pump ’em full of post-modernist idpol nonsense, and let ’em loose.

        Contemptible and risible.

        Also, this is just how people dress in New England. Why is every other culture to receive special consideration, but not my own regional culture? It’s not just this, I’m tired of wokeista affluent professionals from Westchester County trying to force me to say “y’all” because “you guys” is gendered; why do I have to give up my regional version of the second person plural? Why do you get to appropriate Southern dialect to meet your bizarre ideological needs? All cultures are equal in this formulation, until they’re not. This idpol guff is a double-edged sword, after all.

        1. dcblogger

          I suspect that Bernie has been attending inaugurations dressed like that for years. 2021 was the first time anyone noticed.

        2. Laughingsong

          Agree with this…. except please school this west-coast denizen who doesn’t get out much: I thought that the East Coast plural for “you” was “youse”?

          1. Swamp Yankee

            Thanks! Both “youse” and “you guys” (as well as “all of yahs”, and “yinz” in Pittsburgh alone), are both used; I haven’t experienced “youse” in my native New England, not nearly as much as “you guys” — my experience with “youse” tends to cluster in the Mid-Atlantic, between New Haven or NYC and Philly.

            1. Laughingsong

              Very cool thanks, a great lesson in American dialecta! :-) If it helps, “you guys” seems pretty universal, used out here too and in other anglophone areas. When I was in Dublin Ireland (Fingal area) I heard a lot of “yiz” as a plural.

              I think I will try to find out how the term “guy” started to be used for “man”…..

              1. Laughingsong

                K just a quick internet search, and most of the hits attribute Guy Fawkes as Ground Zero for the evolution into a word for man or fellow. Originally it referred to a disheveled sort of fellow, I guess Mr. Fawkes was not a snappy dresser. Then just became any fellow (it seems much more appropriate for use in informal settings even so), and more recently, at least in the plural for a mixed gender group, at least until IDPolzilla ate Manhattan.

                Typical link: https://www.etymonline.com/word/guy

          2. DJG

            Laughingsong: Depends. Youse definitely was more common in Chicago in the past, and people here still use it here jokingly. In Chicago, “you guys” always seems kind-of jokey, though–or a tad too NY forward.

            Youse is used in Philly.

            Does youse extend into New York? Who is our local expert on dialects?

            I am very much in favor of bringing back youse. We English-speakers could use a plural second person pronoun.

            1. Grateful Dude

              we need a gender neutral pronoun much more. “they” has become the default singular of that, singular and plural. Nuts. e.g.: “Someone told the group that they weren’t going.” To whom does “they” refer to – the referent – in that sentence? No way to tell: It’s inherently ambiguous.

              Youse is youseful too. And fun.

            2. Laughingsong

              Chicago? Interesting thanks. I kind of remember hearing youse in old b movies about gangsters, but you can’t take Hollywood as an authority. Agreeing with Grateful Dude below, we could use more neutral pronouns, especially these days – trying to, say, have a debate on some important topic and have it derailed by a participant getting upset about pronouns used… not productive.

            3. barefoot charley

              DJG, I admit my research dates me, but when I was a delinquent the Chicagoese second person plural of choice was ‘Youse guys’. Me, I adapted a Michigan ‘Yuz’ tout court for myself, being edumacated and in a hurry.

        3. Pelham

          Gee, I hadn’t heard about the idpol insistence on “y’all.” This stuff is growing like kudzu.

          Michael Lind says these idpol markers need to be changed about every 6 months so the in-crowd can retain their exalted, exclusive status as universal scolds. I guess he’s right.

        4. none

          trying to force me to say “y’all” because “you guys” is gendered;

          It was the prescient early feminist Dr. Doom who taught us that “Fools!” is a completely gender-neutral way to address a room.

          1. Yves Smith

            In the 1980s, I went to an all-womens gym in Manhattan (because near office + cheaper). The class instructors would regularly call the members “you guys”. So “guys” has become gender neutral.

          1. barefoot charley

            Bernie could sell his mittens for almost as much as those leather sneakers, so I guess it’s P(M)C after all. It’s hard to believe what we can disagree about.

    1. flora

      per Taibbi:

      ‘So many mainstream politicians have absolutely maximized the money-making opportunities afforded by their positions, becoming filthy rich — Bay area pols Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein are conspicuous examples — yet Sanders somehow becomes the symbol of “class privilege.” SMH’


      I’ll take Bernies mittens over Pelosi’s gelato any day. ;)

      1. none

        Pelosi was filthy rich before she ever ran for office (married to a private equity guy or some such). She basically bought her congressional seat by being a big Democratic donor and party muckymuck before becoming a candidate.

    2. Darthbobber

      Anybody who watched the bloody “most important ritual of the decade (tee hee)” on television barely saw anything of Sanders at all. And if said ritual were as compelling as all that (which these rituals never are) there wouldn’t have been that level of interest in Bernie’s mittens afterward. Because the general public would have found some other aspect more compelling.

    3. Rod

      Interesting Career Path of the Editorialist.

      Would like to believe it was deliberate and an extension of her altruism —- getting to where the rubber needs to be on the road and all.

      Wonder how she handled the discussion of 1.9$ million in charity proceeds Bernie generated and directed and the Getty Image shakedown??
      It’s not mentioned in her editorial, but surely pedagogic malpractice if not broached in class—imo.

    4. km

      I guarantee you that if a politician that the PMC approved of were to show up to “the most important ritual evah” wearing nothing but a thong bikini, the same folks excoriating Sanders for his supposed lack of decorum-‘n-respect would be falling all over themselves to praise their darling for his bravery or whatever.

      Double standards, how do they work?

  2. zagonostra

    >American Healthcare System Failed Black Americans. Medicare for All is the Most Pro-Black Policy Platform” [Nick’s Newsletter].

    Our black leaders selling us out is a tale as old as the slave trade. Barack Obama is a Wall St megastar and Jim Clyburn has been made untouchable by his big pharma money.

    Anyone who is informed and has been following M4A knows this. Nothing new, especially if you’ve subscribe to Black Agenda Report.

    Until people reject lesser of two evilism they/we will continue to get the more effective evil doers.

  3. Darius

    It’s amazing how instantaneously we at the stage of “Biden confronts the limits of his executive power.” It took several months for Obama and his sycophants to start saying stuff like this. There is nothing Democrats lovingly cherish more than the narrative of their own powerlessness. In other words, learned helplessness. Just two weeks ago, the presidency was an all-powerful position, which is why we had to get that monster out of there before he committed any more atrocities. But with Biden, now it’s a powerless position and he’s hamstrung by Congress. God, how I hate these people.

    1. John

      Biden is powerless? How about the Democrats in Congress do not know how to play political hardball? are unwilling to play political hardball? cannot make up their minds? are nothing more than the center and left of the Republicans? actually are convinced that helping out the ‘little people’ will corrupt their morals if the poor dears have any? said ‘little people’ will party down on $600 or $1,400 and let the kids go hungry and forget to pay the heating bill? This from a bunch of millionaires.

  4. Darius

    The thing to take away from Bernie Sanders is, of course, his white privilege. Woke radlibs really are just projecting.

    1. Pat

      Well, an old white guy in a puffy coat and handmade mittens did overshadow the not white former First Lady who made an entrance like a runway model wearing thousands of dollars in designer clothes, which included an open coat to show off her belt…in January…outdoors.

      You have to wonder about someone who thinks that seeming ostentatious displays of wealth that are really obvious product placement agreements that require lots of photos and name dropping along with stupidity about the weather are appropriate for a serious public event much less the “most important event of the decade”

      1. farragut

        I would consider it “the most important event of the decade“, but only if the phrase meant the opening of millions of pairs of poor & middle class eyes to the stunning hypocrisy and increasingly obvious corruption of our political class as they serve the Donor Class.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          She called it a “rite” giving it a pseudo religious significance. Its not just hyperbole but representative of a deep seated ignorance the Karens are renowned for.

          Especially for one with virtually no crowd of regular people which of course in DC would be “not Karens”.

    2. John

      Wearing a coat and mittens on a cold day while sitting quietly constitutes “white privilege”? How droll.

  5. stefan

    People should be suspicious of their leaders’ ambitions. The best way of keeping leaders’ ambitions in check is to force them to compete for popular support in frequent elections to offices held for short terms. The ambitions of all citizens should be aroused by making them all eligible to hold the highest offices.

    Those suspected of conspiring against the republic should be made subject to public trials in front of large popular juries. Such trials will not always result in just treatment of the individuals accused. However, such trials serve the common good by allowing people to vent their humors against those who claimed the right to rule on the basis of their superior virtue. By means of such trials, the rule of law can be preserved and the republic not degenerate into a civil war.

    Thoughts via Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (Adams was the only one who explicitly referred to Machiavelli.)

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Machiavelli is splendid in The Discourses. Whereas The Prince represents Machiavelli’s realpolitik view of the world, his aspirational and yearningly idealistic view of things is superbly expressed in The Discourses.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve been reading Livy’s _History of Rome_ lately, and there’s no way the Romans would suffer the Capitoline Hill to be invaded by a domestic political faction. They’d throw anyone involved off the Tarpeian Rock.

      1. philnc

        The Republic had (mostly ineffective) checks and balances to curb government power: the executive power shared two consuls, tribunes (you know, the guys with veto power to stop the whole machinery of government in its tracks) as separate offices, and the Senate as an “advisory” body to the annual Assembly of the people that theoretically made the final decision on issues like war and peace. But that changed by the late Republic, when armed mobs were employed by the elites to bludgeon opponents within their own class into submission, and to suppress dissent from below (usually beginning by killing the tribunes).

        So it makes perfect sense that the Founders of this country thought it a good idea to model their new government after the late Roman Republic with a single_princeps_ at its head who held both the tribunician power and dictatorial control over the military (Octavian, Julias Caesar’s nephew).

        Sadly, Jefferson, Madison & co. were born too early to have read Mike Duncan’s _The Storm before the Storm_ or hear his pithy commentary on the failings of the Republic in his “History of Rome” podcast. The point? They really could have done better, but clearly had some perspective issues.

      2. stefan

        And a touch more from Machiavelli:
        Political order has to be imposed and is always partly maintained by force, because human beings do not naturally want to be ruled or governed. There is, therefore, always opposition to the government, which will be more or less open or covert, depending upon the circumstances and the ability of those in office to quash it.
        Hannah Arendt’s contention in The Human Condition: Machiavelli is the last major political theorist in the West to recognize the primacy of politics in human life.

      3. Harold

        I think The Prince is also idealistic. The last chapter is about how an illegitimate prince can redeem himself and unite Italy. People ignore this for some reason. The first chapter emphasizes that Machiavelli is addressing his treatise only to new princes who have seized power by force, as opposed to succeeding legitimately through heredity or manifestly having God’s grace (Moses). He is not giving his advice to legitimate leaders. In particular he at first dedicated The Prince to Giuliano de’ Medici, who had taken over Florence, and whom Machiavelli knew personally. Giuliano is supposedly the one who got Machiavelli out of prison, where Machiavelli was being tortured as a member of the previous Florentine republican government.

        As a fellow a fellow humanist, Giuliano was rumored sympathetic to republicanism. In Castiglione’s dialog The Courtier he is presented as a defender of women’s equality. Giuliano was also a friend of Francis I of France, who made him Duke of Nemours, and it was rumored he was being groomed to be King of Naples, so he would have been a good candidate to unite Italy.

        However, Giuliano was in chronic poor health and ceded rulership of Florence to his nephew Lorenzo II (who would rule it as a tyrant). Giuliano moved to Rome, where in 1516 he died. So in the end, Machiavelli changed his dedication of The Prince to Lorenzo II. Both Giuliano and Lorenzo II are entombed in the Medici Chapel in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in famous monument designed by Michelangelo.

      4. stefan

        Sad to say, Machiavelli attributes virtù almost exclusively to individual leaders, not to citizens acting together. Peoples can become corrupt; and when they become corrupt, they cease to elect their most virtuous citizens. Machiavelli emphasized harsh truths because to forget them is to suffer greatly as a result.

        1. hunkerdown

          It’s important to understand the US was designed from the beginning to keep power away from the people, and in the hands of the ownership class. I don’t accept the line that Americans “choose” anything meaningful, having already had meaningful choices vetoed from their ballots, and having no recourse against those who presume to count the votes.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Designed from the beginning . . . ?

            Which beginning? The Articles of Confederation beginning? Or the Constitution beginning?

        2. Harold

          I’m not sure this is correct, since he felt very strongly that a citizen militia was the best and strongest form of defence that a city could have.

          A new leader who seizes power by force (i.e., a usurper) has to have virtù “to maintain his position” (per mantenere lo stato). It is true that Machiavelli, like his German contemporary Martin Luther, had a very dim view of human nature. As Machiavelli saw it, being human and fallible, both a prince and the people are equally likely to make mistakes. But Machiavelli says that a government by the people is better than a government by a prince, because a people is quicker to recognize and correct mistakes than a prince is (Discourses X), and this is why, according to him, they say the voice of the people is like the Voice of God.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      In this same vein, American garden book author Robert Kourik wrote a book called Understanding Roots, which contains a lesser number of images of roots of American crop plants, copied from someone who made numbers of these images in the 1930s or so. Some of these images of root systems will be in this bunch of images relating to Kourik’s book.


  6. Greg

    Has anyone seen anything to indicate covid behaviour has actually changed? Or is the dip we’re seeing in reported stats the normal peak and drop in spread as we’ve seen at lower peaks before, or a reporting error as we’ve seen over transitional periods before, or…

    I’m very wary of the various stories we’ve seen assigning behavioural causation to the observed dip in reported cases, when the anecdotal evidence provided by commenters here has been that risky behaviour is still the norm. The comment on links by zaganostra from Florida as a case in point.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Even without covid, during January people stay home—because it’s too cold to mingle and/or because their wallets are tapped from the holidays.

      With covid (particularly places like California), tapped wallets may be discouraging gatherings moreso than the fear of covid

      1. curlydan

        Here in Kansas City, I’m fairly worried mainly because Super Bowl Sunday will be the coldest day of this winter (forecasted high of 18F) where everyone will be inside and possibly in some party. No air circulation, no windows open, but lots of yelling and drinking. A COVID hotspot waiting to happen.

        1. Wukchumni

          You could’ve lost to the Bills, greatly alleviating your situation, ha!

          Looking forward to the SB, what a match-up, potentially one for the ages.

        2. griffen

          Couldn’t they open up Arrowhead and throw a big but sorta social distanced tail gate?

          No dog in the fight but hope its really not the Bucs winning.

    2. carl

      To answer your first question, no, not here in Texas. Lots of restaurant parking lots full, lots of people out shopping, playing team sports in the park, many people wearing bandanas, gaitors or letting masks hang down. Anyhow, wasn’t it about three weeks ago that people were tired of restrictions?

      1. Greg

        Thanks, I appreciate the information. I’m going to keep working on the assumption that it’s a lucky drop for unknown reasons rather than a result of any particular action by anyone then. And as such, may prove ephemeral.

        1. Phillip Cross

          I think we mostly live in quite large, disconnected social islands. I’m never going to meet most of the people in my city. The large, easy islands have been mostly infected, now the virus has to start to traverse a virtual archipelago of tiny disconnected islands. It gets more difficult for infected host to meet a susceptible person in an area they can transmit, so the epidemic abates until that changes. Our community is so atomized, I think it’s going to have a hard time getting anywhere near 100% of us.

    3. Jeff W

      From this 25 January Bloomberg piece:

      If you don’t live in California, you might be under the impression that the state is in full lockdown mode. It certainly should be, given the increasingly dire situation with overcrowded hospitals and a severe shortage of intensive-care beds.

      Yet it seems that in Los Angeles County, a sprawling mass of more than 10 million people, nobody has told the shoppers.

      if you drive around as I’ve done the last few days, you’ll notice something striking: Shopping centers are busy. On a recent weekday, the parking lot at the Ikea in Burbank — at 456,000 square feet, the company’s largest store in the U.S. — was packed in all but its outer reaches. Although California lifted its Regional Stay at Home Order this week, much of the state, including Southern California, remains in the purple tier, which advises limiting non-essential activities. Apparently, that doesn’t apply to shopping for inexpensive but well-designed Swedish furniture that one can spend hours assembling.

      It’s not just Ikea. The parking lots at Best Buy and Marshall’s and TJ Maxx have also been pretty crowded. In Old Town Pasadena, a long line snaked outside a Sephora. (Who’s still wearing makeup these days?) At the Santa Anita Mall, mine was the only car in the curbside pickup area on a weekday afternoon. Everyone else was inside.

      [links omitted]

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        I went to the Goodwill Outlet Center basically mini assembly line of people picking through donations table after table…it was fucking surreal..nothing I’ve ever seen before. I mean the Goodwill’s I go to in the south or been to in colorado or seattle never had this setup. It reminded me of a reality show on A&E or whatever like Storage Wars or American Pickers.

        Then….I saw when they brought the bins out with all the donated books and CDs and DVDs and blurays and 4K movies too, I saw a person (6 in all with 6 bins) keep scanning the books like he was looking for the ones of high value…then I’m like holy shit these people are taking the best and then reselling it on eBay or craigslist or letgo or Amazon or wherever for a profit!!!! For a minute I was filled with utter disgust and reviled at the notion Catch 22 was worthless but some get rich quick “text book” had more value according to some algorithm on their stupid little phones with their stupid little scanners…what kind of society do we have where people are forced to become scavengers among the donated shit at Goodwill? And I saw that the person scanning books wasn’t the only one. All of them had scanners!!! Better for me in the long run since they skipped some pretty valuable IMO stuff. It was exhilarating and weird and tragic all at the same time…

        Tales of America I guess…

  7. chrimbus

    RE: the noah smith piece, I’m curious (also for selfish reasons b/c I sent in my own tales from the campaign trail) if Lambert has any musings percolating on the Bernie retrospective business.

    I have no clue where Noah Smith is coming from claiming that “there is a Left now” in the form of Biden + current congressional majorities and what they are getting up to.

    I think there may be something to Noah Smith’s mention of “[Bernie Supporters] conviction that The People supported their movement,” being the sort of default mode of all campaigning these days. As in, everybody is playing the same game of conducting polls, hiring expensive consultants, and asserting to speak for x y z constituency rather than devoting more energy to direct persuasive efforts.

    1. Darthbobber

      I think the electability framing was ultimately what carried the day for the establishment. Too many people who wanted Sanders on the issues successfully terrified that his nomination would deliver reelection to Trump.

      1. Darthbobber

        This seems mighty selective, and also reflects a very narrow view from Noahpinion of who has democracies.

        “Radical plans don’t tend to get implemented in democracies (with a few exceptions, like Clement Attlee’s program of nationalizations in postwar Britain).”

        Leaves out the New Deal itself, naturlich. And the installation of all the Scandinavian programs. And to the south of us the sweeping nationalization and land redistribution of the Cardenas government in Mexico. To say nothing of a number of other sweeping reform packages in Latin America.

        And let us not forget the changes in progress under the Allende government in Chile, before our sponsored coup short-circuited democracy itself.

      2. Basil Pesto

        From the segment quoted, he apparently fails to take into account the arrival of Covid (I know it arrived sooner than March, but it was only in March when the scale of the upheaval involved became widely apparent). That’s a suspect omission, especially given Sanders’ excellent performance before SC. Still, Sanders’ campaign’s failure to deal with the dem party consolidating was surely decisive, but not sure what he could have done with media so heavily weighted against him. I suspect even without Covid it would’ve been an insurmountable problem.

      3. tegnost

        Maybe anecdotal, but I could give you a long list of wealthy dems who told me in no uncertain terms that they are “capitalists” Bernie was a threat to them, not to mention, and I think this really had a lot to do with it, they’ve all gotten their kids into healthcare/biotech as well as most of their money. Bloomberg, in his short stint, ran radio ads on the local sports radio that had otherwise no political coverage at all except some rare colin kaepernick stuff,about how ” we ain’t no socialists here!” ads. It was about the money. Imagine being one of these “capitalist” dems forced to choose between sanders and trump. I think his only chance was in ’16, by ’20 they were ready for him.

  8. carl

    Re: Soil. We have in our area, some of the most awful compacted clay soil. Also, Bermuda grass is rampant, especially in my yard. I decided to try to rehabilitate some of the backyard by pulling up the Bermuda and replacing it with a thin layer of mulch-laced soil and cover crops. We have crimson clover, buckwheat and rye now growing where the Bermuda used to be. We’re hoping the cover crops induce some nitrogen and other beneficial nutrients.

    1. Darius

      Dandelions have a deep taproot. They break up compacted soil. I prefer the gradual approach to a wholesale renovation. Of course growing cover crops requires that you do pull up all the Bermuda grass.

      1. carl

        Unfortunately, I don’t have time for a gradual renovation, hence the drastic approach. Did I also mention there were rocks and bamboo roots?

  9. Mikel

    RE: “Dependent on lawmakers”? Biden has no mandate?

    Funny and not surprising how Democrats never do or really claim it – no matter their numbers or margins for wins.
    Think it has to do with the perceptions about supporters?

    1. Darthbobber

      Tis but a coy and sideways acknowledgement that the Biden electoral strategy guaranteed no mandate other than to not be Trump, and that the house and Senate campaigns virtually guaranteed stalemate going forward when they produced next to no gains.

  10. crittermom

    Re: Rex Chapman “59 seconds of truth bombs… ”

    I loved this!

    She specifically mentions Lauren Boebert (Colorado).

    She was on my ballot, but did not get my vote.
    Each time her campaign ads came on teevee, I came close to spraining my middle fingers in response.

    In them she spouted, “Socialism? Not on my watch!”
    She likes the oil industry (in which her husband works).
    She’s against a Green New Deal.
    Against M4A.
    She refused to close her restaurant when so ordered due to Covid, by the governor.

    I see her as pure evil and was heartsick when she won.

    Great rant all around in that 59 seconds.

    Many articles about Boebert, but this one sums her up pretty well:


    1. pjay

      I share your feelings about Boebert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and all their ilk. And yet, I can’t help feeling that this woman would argue that Janet Yellen “is an expert and deserves that money.” Maybe I’m wrong about “Karen from HR,” but I’m pretty sure that lack of professional credentials is not the main problem in our political system. I’m pretty sure a vast majority of the rest of the country would agree with me on that, whether or not we agreed on anything else.

    2. Angie Neer

      I’m sure Boebert is horrible, but that’s not my takeaway from the rant. It’s that the ranter believes there should be some higher credential-granting power deciding who is worthy to be elected. I suspect the ranter believes that power should belong to someone like her.

      1. albrt

        This. The limitations on who can be elected to Congress are few. The main one is that you have to beat the other candidates.

        If Karen from HR’s party didn’t want Boebert, they should have run somebody who could beat Boebert. Pretty sure that’s not Karen.

      2. Utah

        It’s like when the GOP argues that AOC (who has a higher degree) should still be bartending and is a dumb woman. It’s classist. Also, as a GED holder I’m always offended when people say we’re dumb and shouldn’t hold office. I did go on to get a bachelor’s degree, but high school just wasn’t working out for me. Argue on merits, not on class (or sexuality, or race, or gender).

        1. Darthbobber

          And given that a large majority (nearly two-thirds, I believe) of the electorate lacks a 4 year degree, almost literally equating lack of one with outright stupidity has some fairly obvious political drawbacks, beyond merely being incorrect.

        2. Wukchumni

          I never went any further than high school, and i’d guess my lack of higher education was a prime motivator in my desire to learn more than any college could’ve taught me. I’ve noticed over the years that an awful lot of people with degrees, effectively stopped learning after graduating.

      3. Phil in KC

        Power to decide the fitness of someone elected to Congress resides in the Congress itself. Each chamber can vote whether to seat or unseat a member in its own chamber. Example: James Traficant was expelled from the House in 2002 for numerous felonies, including accepting bribes and kickbacks, obstructing justice, and filing false tax returns. Being a loony tune is not a felony, but maybe should be.

      4. crittermom

        Angie Neer–
        That wasn’t my biggest takeaway from the rant, either, but from a ‘close to home’ perspective, I appreciated the fact Boebert was included in it.

  11. Mikel

    Re: “Microsoft Files Patent to Create Chatbots That Imitate Dead People” [IGN

    Lambert wrote a simple “No.”
    But that’s the problem. We’re dealing with overprivileged zealots who don’t hear “no!!!”
    often or loud enough.

    1. Glen

      Now I’m going to have to read the article because the headline suggests a Chatbot of a dead person, and as a programmer I was thinking “dead people don’t chat, pretty easy coding job…”

    2. The Rev Kev

      Puts me in mind of an old scifi story I read once. This guy visits a graveyard and by pressing a button on an uncle’s gravestone, a holographic of his image appears that has been programed to be just like his uncle. They talk for a while with the uncle surprised that his nephew has not sold some stock. Tells him that it is going down and not coming back. In short, it is exactly like having the uncle still being alive. The story ends where the “uncle” asks the nephew to activate all the other buttons in the graveyard before leaving as they plan on a party that night in the cemetery and the uncle has his eye on a young woman a few graves over….

      1. Greg

        It’s a Black Mirror plot, which follows on from David Cameron’s indiscretion with a table dressing a few years back.

  12. Rod

    Mockingbirds for Monday, from Cuba no less.
    A little restrained compared to the locals —to my ear.
    Not known for big migrations and outside of my range map so I wonder how common in the Caribbean ??

    1. DJG

      Rod: Indeed. I realize that I engaged in public displays of catbird-o-philia, but the mockingbird, from Cuba, as noted, is a distinct letdown. Somehow, the Marco Rubio of birds.

      1. Rod

        Who doesn’t want to share a good thing??
        Rubio—I’m ‘ruint’. ;-}

        But it is Cub@n, and Everyone knows that socialism has made everything sparser there.
        More brown birds
        (and black dogs too)

    2. LifelongLib

      The earlier recording of the Western Meadowlark was made on Kauai, where the bird is not native but was introduced in 1931. There are Northern Mockingbirds here on Oahu (also introduced, 1928) but I’ve never seen one. Don’t know if being non-native makes any difference to the call or song…

      1. Rod

        Thanks. Interesting on introductions to HI.
        Being mimics, I was curious as what influenced the Cuban mime in it’s flat self.
        I am blessed with a ton a various songbirds and the local MBs songs are really long and very melodious by comparison.
        The Cuban was recorded this mid winter and I wondered if season(not mating) could be a factor also.

  13. Cuibono

    Hotez “The new cases are dropping a little bit”? News to me: your graph at the top shows them dropping dramatically.
    We dont know why? Yes we do. That is what happens to epidemic curves. boom bust. never been one without it

  14. dcblogger

    serious question, do we have members of the NC community that live in either Virginia or New Jersey? because I would LUV on the ground reports of their elections this year.

    1. LaRuse

      Virginia native here. Just south of Richmond in Deep Red Amanda Chase County (*sigh*). My brief election story goes as follows: of the 3 voter age residents at my address, we all voted for Biden (one of those voters voted Trump in 2016 – still, she was NOT enthusiastic about voting D for the first time ever in 2020). The other two voted by mail (both are immuno-compromised) and I opted for early in-person voting at my neighborhood library. Ballots were straight forward – hand marked, pen and paper affair in Chesterfield still.
      One thing of interest to me in 2020 was despite living in deep red territory, for the first time ever in the 17 years at this address, I saw political signs in yards for democratic candidates. Not specifically for Biden but for other D’s running for other offices. That was unusual and my first clue that Trump might not pull off the win I was certain he would.

      1. dcblogger

        I was thinking of the 2021 elections, I would LUV your takes on the Gubernatorial Democratic Primary, and any insight you have to offer on House races. Nothing beats reports from the ground.

  15. Judith

    Regarding coronavirus variants, the president of Moderna says the new variant from SA is better at “hiding” from the vaccine. Which may require a booster, which of course Moderna will develop and sell.


    “As new variants of COVID-19 emerge around the globe, vaccine developers are watching closely how each will hold up under their doses.

    On the radar are new strains of the virus originating in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil — which have all been detected in the United States — and some are more worrisome than others.

    “As we follow the data in the pandemic, what we do see is some of the new emerging strains are better at hiding from those vaccines,” Cambridge-based Moderna, Inc. President Dr. Stephen Hoge told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday. “Now, right now, the good news is the vaccines look like they work against all of the emerging strains. That’s good news. But there are a couple … obviously, the South African one is of some concern, because it looks like it could hide from the vaccine a little better than others.”

    Last week, Moderna announced the company intends to conduct a clinical trial for a “booster” shot to better combat the South African variant after its studies showed that its vaccine spurs a weaker immune response to the mutation than against others.

    The company said its vaccine should still offer sufficient protection against the variant. But the lower antibody count produced by the vaccine in the face of the variant “may suggest a potential risk of earlier waning of immunity,” Moderna said in a statement.

    “Our approach at Moderna is going to be to develop a booster vaccine, so that if the South African variant or any other variant becomes a concern, we’ll be able to offer a way to … prevent it from hiding from the vaccine,” Hoge said.”

    1. Mikel

      We’ll see. I always expected it to get around to shots every year (but the first round is free!).

  16. allan

    Read and weep. Or curse.

    Biden’s Progressive Appointees: Watch Out Below the Radar [American Prospect]

    … Last Friday, I wrote about how Cass Sunstein was primed to return to a White House job. More than any other person, he was the scourge of progressive regulation when he was head of OIRA under Obama.

    Biden and his team promise to do a lot of needed re-regulation. Why on earth bring back Sunstein?

    One explanation could be the influence of one Jessica Hertz. She is a longtime protégé of Sunstein, both in his days at the University of Chicago and as his counselor when both were at OIRA.

    From there, after a stint as deputy counsel for then–Vice President Biden, Hertz went on to work as the key house counsel in charge of fending off regulation for Facebook, the number one target for reformers of platform monopolies. And then she got herself a prime job as general counsel in the Biden transition, where she was the ultimate arbiter of ethics and conflict-of-interest issues.

    But it gets worse. Hertz was recently named to the post of staff secretary in the Biden administration itself, a powerful role that among other things filters the paperwork flow to the president. …

    Following in the footsteps of John Podesta, Harriet Miers, Brett Kavanaugh, and Rob Porter.

  17. Carla

    “American Healthcare System Failed Black Americans. Medicare for All is the Most Pro-Black Policy Platform” — what a great piece! Thank you so much, Lambert. I’ve been waiting for Nick for years and will share his wisdom widely.

  18. JohnHerbieHancock

    re: “How a Bounty of Vaccines Flooded a Small Hospital and Its Nearby College”

    Hillsdale College is a Neo-con haven. teh DeVos family – like similar-minded, wealthy Michiganders – has some connections there, and its President was apparently considered in the running to be Trump’s Secretary of Education (link):

    As The Daily Caller reports, “Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, a small conservative liberal arts school in Michigan known for declining all federal funds.”

    Hillsdale College, located in Hillsdale, Michigan (the Devos family’s home state), is regarded as “the conservative Harvard,” in some circles, and has been the recipient of generous donations from numerous funders of the rightwing conservative movement including the Koch Brother’s family foundation. Hillsdale also sponsors the Rush Limbaugh Show.

    Hillsdale students overwhelmingly supported Trump for president, according to the campus newspaper, and at least seven Hillsdale professors and administrators publicly endorsed him.

    “the conservative Harvard”… pretty much everyone I’ve met from the Conservative Harvard has been really dumb. though FWIW, alums from the Regular Harvard I’ve met in my profession haven’t exactly been home run hitters either, now that I think about it.

  19. JohnHerbieHancock

    Hillsdale also sponsors the Rush Limbaugh Show

    I’m just noticing that line… that’s insane.

  20. Fastball

    They promised $2000 checks to get Ossoff and Warnock elected. They said we’d be seeing it immediately, they said.

    So how is anyone going to vote for any Democrat when promises are made?

    It appears as much of the rest of the world says of America, the Democrats are not “agreement capable”. This behavior on the part of the Democrats is bad faith.

    1. albrt

      Here is my email to newly elected AZ senator Mark Kelly, who has to run again in 2022:

      I used to be a democrat. I quit supporting democrats after they sold us out in 2009. A lot of other people did the same thing, which resulted in a 2010 wave election for the republicans. You are the first federal democrat I have voted for since 2009.

      President Biden promised $2000 checks going out immediately. Not $1400 checks, not tax credits, not means tested payments in a few months. The promise was not ambiguous. The ads in Georgia even had a picture of a check with $2000 written in.

      I am doing fine and don’t need $2000, but I do need to see the democrats keep their promises if I am going to support them.

      If the democrats go with their typical waffle-fail-move-the-goalposts approach on this issue, I will not vote for you in 2022.

      Even if you say you support the $2000 checks, I am not going to vote for you if you run on the ballot line of a party of spineless weasels. Please draw a line in the sand on this issue, insist on $2000 checks, and talk to your weasel colleagues like Kyrsten Sinema about why they need to do the same.


      1. rowlf

        Nice letter. A lot of labor union people realized the same about the Democrats over the last 25 years. Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box indeed.

        As another commentator of this fine website stated a few months ago, If you want my vote it is over there.

      2. Fastball

        I wholly support everything you say. Like you for me it’s the promise, not me being immediate need. However my friends ARE.

  21. chris

    Since we have some art based topics in the watercooler today, perhaps this will be of interest?

    It appears that theft of all kinds is accelerating. In this case, some indie auteurs used a webcomic as storyboards for a movie and did not credit the artist. They did reach out once it was on the awards circuit and ask the artist to help promote the film :/

    People are stealing everything and anything they can right now. There seems to be little morality or ethics involved. Considering several of my friends have recently had art stolen and attempted to be used for commercial enterprises, theft of car parts is now common, the felony lane gang is still in business, and I just found out today that someone stole my SSN and used it to fraudulently file for UI, I wonder if we’re going to see that the legacy of the pandemic was a huge increase in crime?

  22. Jessica

    “Microsoft Files Patent to Create Chatbots That Imitate Dead People”
    Paging Philip K. Dick. Philip K. Dick to the white courtesy phone please.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “One Percent Republic”

    Another good article by Andrew J. Bacevich. Things really have changed with who makes up American soldiers. It was said that for the British Army during the Victorian era, that the two greatest recruiters were unemployment and Jack Frost. America may be going the same way with its soldiers. Certainly the idea of the citizen soldier seems to be dead. A big thing from what I read seemed to be that they regarded their service as a “job” that had to be done. Not a career or a service but a job. Come to think of it, during the 50s there was actually a TV series called “Citizen Soldier” depicting true life incidents in WW2 and the Korean War that made this plain-


    1. Ben Joseph

      I got chills near end of the article when it occurred to me that the possible real reason for not having medical care, free education, $2000 checks etc. is the need for the desperate to fill out the military rosters without public support.

      1. LifelongLib

        For most of U.S. history the military services were small disreputable dumping grounds for ne’er-do-wells and juvenile delinquents. Other than maybe during the Civil War, it’s only since the run-up to WW 2 that being in the military was considered respectable, with the draft or the threat of it pulling in large numbers of men who otherwise would never have joined. And only since Vietnam has the U.S. maintained a large standing military without a draft.

  24. Massinissa

    “have privately expressed reservations about the size of the checks and at what level they would begin to phase out for higher-income people, according to three people familiar with internal discussions.”

    OH GOD NO OH GOD NO MEANS TESTING NO MEANS TESTING *spreads holy water on ground to ward off evil spirits*

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    If you object to that Bernie’s Mittens article in the San Francisco Chronicle, its because you are Whitely Fragile and you are just showing your White Fragility. Any Social Justice Warrior could tell you all about that. And would be happy to do so.

    Check your White Privilege.

    Seriously, this is the exact, sole and only mission of Social Justice Wokeness. In this case, to make Sanders a figure of hate and derision among the impressionable schoolkids who are being raised to be Racial Justice Warriors themselves when they grow up. Never ever talk to White Privileged strangers wearing fancy mittens.

    By the way, does anyone know if that Social Justice Leftard WokeNazi school principal was able to destroy that WPA mural in “her” school?

    1. chris

      You almost have to admire how they’re trying to make smearing an old Jewish man who’s spent a lot of his life helping the unfortunate and downtrodden an artful pursuit. I wonder if you can be Jewish and woke according to these people? I wonder why Bernie’s whiteness and demeanor is subject to ridicule but Biden’s isn’t?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Probably because the Racial Justice Wokeholes and the Leftard WokeNazis find “class” very triggering and deeply resent Sanders for forcing “class” into their Racial Justice Wokehole ” safe spaces”.

        Biden doesn’t trigger them in their safe space, so he doesn’t excite their hatred.

        And then there are the weaponised wokeness managers, like Clinton and Tanden, helping the process along.

    2. Riverboat Grambler

      “Social Justice Leftard WokeNazi” is a bit of a broad brush, no? I would argue there’s a difference between neoliberals cynically weaponizing idpol in establishment publications and the majority of people who came out to protest police brutality and racism last summer. The excerable existence of the former does not cancel out the undeniable need for the latter.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        My broad brush does not apply to those protestors who understand police terrorism and murderism to be a problem of Blue Privilege. My broad brush applies exACTly to those who believe in the concept of “white privilege” and try to apply it in this or any other case.

        My broad brush does not apply to those protesters who seek to be interest-seeking reciprocal-transaction-type coalition-partner seekers. My broad brush applies exACTly to those protesters who either seek to have ” Allies” or to be “Allies”. Because ” Allyship” is to coalitional solidarity as matter is to antimatter.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Now I see the comment of mine which your comment was referring to exactly.

        Yes, I should apply my broad brush narrowly enough to hit the people who deserve it. Like that San Francisco school principal who wanted to destroy the historic WPA mural in her school. Does anyone in San Francisco know whether she was able to get away with it? Or was she stopped?

        1. The Rev Kev

          drumlin woodchuckles
          February 2, 2021 at 1:06 am

          If this is the same one, a quick check and found out that there was a proposal to flog it off for $50 million and George Lucas may have wanted it for his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, currently under construction in Los Angeles. But then there has been changes in management as that school has only 27 students left-


          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            No . . . the one I remember ( from reading about it right here on Naked Capitalism to begin with) was this one . . .


            If the article(s) at this linky-site are correct, the entire SF School Board had voted to irreversibly deSTROY the historic WPA murals. But they were caused to know such pressure that they were forced to give in to merely covering them up with panels and not actually deSTROYing them the way they WANTED to do.

            So at least they did not get the Bamiyan Buddhas treatment, so far as I can tell.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “Ohio Democratic Party is laying off more than half its staff”

    ‘Ms. Walters told The Blade the party would not be using independent contractors, but declined to say whether it would use consultants to fill some of the permanent positions in the future’

    And there it is in a nutshell. Jobs for Democrat employees are being sacrificed so that consultants can be called in as needed who will have little idea of what the ground situation, give cookie-cutter advice straight from the DNC, and then be paid eye-watering fees which will strain local party’s finances. We’ll see in two years time how that works out for them.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If it succeeds in decapitation-striking the ability of local party organizations to be local power bases for genuine local power in the pursuit of locally chosen interests, then it will be seen to have worked out exactly as intended. Everything depends on understanding what is actually secretly intended.

      If those Democratic employees were being paid with money raised from within Ohio by Democratic party members within Ohio, those Democratic Party members would be better off resigning en masse from the Democratic Party and creating their own party which they could call the Real Democrat Party, or something like it. Then they could raise the same amount of money and keep it under their own control and rehire those layed-off Democratic employees to be Real Democrat employees instead.

    1. Redlife2017

      You do know that we are in a hardcore lockdown where my child is having to be homeschooled (including me and my partner working) and it is illegal to go outside except to exercise and go grocery shopping. It is illegal to leave my area (there are exceptions) and it is illegal (again, there are exceptions) to even leave the country. We have had these restrictions for a month for all of England (not UK) and in London we have been in lockdown since before Christmas. It is very depressing and we all hate it. I haven’t gotten to see my friends in over 6 weeks with rare exception. It is awful.

      I mean honestly – I should bloody well hope the numbers would finally go down. It has taken a month (and over 6 weeks for London)! And we will probably need to have this go on for another month or so to get the numbers down to reasonable levels.

      Please excuse the crankiness…the entire country is unhappy due to Covid and Transition End…

      1. Basil Pesto

        as a Melbourner all I can say is, hang in there. Things have been very pleasantly close to normal here for about 4 months now – after a strict 11 week lockdown – with few restrictions, including interstate travel (with some restrictions depending on emerging cases throughout the country). I hope the outcome for the UK is similarly hopeful.

  27. Massinissa

    But to be fair… We all KNEW they were going to start talking about means testing them at some point. Just… Was assuming it would be the party that DIDN’T get two senators into office talking about how important it was to give out 2k checks for every American.

    On this point, the Republicans will be the party that DID do that and the Democrats will be the ones that DIDN’T. And then the Republicans will win 2022 and the Dem talking heads will start screeching about Putin somehow being behind this again. I’m so tired of watching the same things happen over and over.

    EDIT: I meant this to be a reply to my sarcastic post above, but to be fair this comment works relatively well on its own.

    1. tegnost

      Not only republicans, the vile orange menace delivered where the dems have no interest.
      It really is truly strange,,,
      I was sure that biden was this bad, but it gives me a sort of nervous empty feeling in my stomach mixed with a sort of weird satisfaction to witness the tone deafness, followed by the sinking feeling that these are truly sick and mean spirited people who at the same time think they are the mostest possible best smarter than anyone in history evers.(hat tip d trump for the dissonant syntax)
      I’m going to have to bookmark this dredged up by philnc this am…we’ll be seeing a lot of this…
      where’s the beef?

  28. Hrm Jrm

    On life expectancy: A few minor corrections: Native American males have the lowest life expectancy in the country. Also, white male life expectancy has increased at a lower level than other ethnic groups and even shrunk in some areas. in recent years. (https://www.ajmc.com/view/study-reveals-declining-life-expectancy-among-white-americans-that-defies-easy-answers). Some of the disparity between Black males and white males is due to violence and incarceration. This does not dismiss the role of racism, but highlights that much of the disparity in life expectancy would not be (directly) affected by universal health care.

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